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Member since: Fri Nov 12, 2004, 08:39 AM
Number of posts: 45,752

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Jeffrey Toobin: Clarence Thomas Disgraceful Silence (Eight Years Now)


February 21, 2014


As of this Saturday, February 22nd, eight years will have passed since Clarence Thomas last asked a question during a Supreme Court oral argument. His behavior on the bench has gone from curious to bizarre to downright embarrassing, for himself and for the institution he represents.

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As for Thomas, he is physically transformed from his infamous confirmation hearings, in 1991—a great deal grayer and heavier today, at the age of sixty-five. He also projects a different kind of silence than he did earlier in his tenure. In his first years on the Court, Thomas would rock forward, whisper comments about the lawyers to his neighbors Breyer and Kennedy, and generally look like he was acknowledging where he was. These days, Thomas only reclines; his leather chair is pitched so that he can stare at the ceiling, which he does at length. He strokes his chin. His eyelids look heavy. Every schoolteacher knows this look. It’s called “not paying attention.”


Oregon Won't Defend Gay-Marriage Ban in Lawsuit

Source: Associated Press


— Feb. 21, 2014 2:59 AM EST

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — On March 12, 2004, the state of Oregon had a problem. Its most populous county was handing out marriage licenses to same-sex couples, and the state was unsure whether those actions were on solid legal footing.

Ted Kulongoski, then the governor, asked his attorney general if state agencies should treat same-sex marriages as legal, until the state Supreme Court makes a decision,

"Existing Oregon statutes limit the grant of marriage licenses to one man and one woman," then-Oregon Attorney General Hardy Myers wrote.

That November, 57 percent of Oregon voters agreed to a gay marriage ban. Then the Supreme Court voided the marriage licenses already issued. And federal law still banned the recognition of same-sex couples.

Read more: http://bigstory.ap.org/article/oregon-wont-defend-gay-marriage-ban-lawsuit-0

Ew! Michelle Obama on Tonight Show w/ Jimmy Fallon

Ukraine (PHOTO)


Department of Homeland Security Raises Shoe Bomb Concern with Airports

Source: CBS News

@BreakingNews: US advises airlines of potential threat on overseas flights to the US; intelligence warns of explosives hidden in shoes - @nbcnightlynews

Department of Homeland Security raises shoe bomb concern with airports

Feb 19, 2014 4:37 PM EST

The Department of Homeland Security has in the last 12 hours has put out an advisory to airlines to be aware of new chatter about explosives in shoes.

While not a new threat, there is a renewed threat stream about terrorists attempting to carry explosives in shoes. Officials tell CBS News no direct threat has been made, but the chatter was enough to cause feds to issue a warning to airlines and security officials worldwide for America-bound flights.

Increased security is likely in terms of more pat downs and checks of shoes.

DHS says the alert was put out under an “abundance of caution.”

Read more: http://www.cbsnews.com/news/department-of-homeland-security-raises-shoe-bomb-concern-with-airports/

UK Court: David Miranda Detention Legal Under Terrorism Law

Source: The Intercept

UK Court: David Miranda Detention Legal Under Terrorism Law

By Ryan Devereaux

19 Feb 2014, 5:23 AM EST

A British lower court has ruled that London police acted lawfully in employing an anti-terror statute to detain and interrogate David Miranda for nearly nine hours at Heathrow Airport last summer, even while recognizing that the detention was “an indirect interference with press freedom.”

In a decision released Wednesday morning Lord Justice John Laws, Mr Justice Duncan Ouseley and Mr Justice Peter Openshaw said that while Miranda’s detention was “an indirect interference with press freedom” it was justified and legitimate due to “very pressing” issues of national security.

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After the police’s justification was made public in November, leading UK human rights groups and a member of the British parliament expressed outrage, saying it appeared baseless and threatened to have damaging consequences for investigative journalism, the Guardian reported .

Greenwald told The Intercept the UK has the unique distinction of being the only foreign government that has equated the NSA coverage he and Poitras are responsible for to terrorism.

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“We made clear long ago that we would not ever be deterred in any way in reporting aggressively on these documents by this kind of thuggish behavior from the British government, and we have been and will continue to be very true to our word,” Greenwald added. “It is ironic that as the world rightfully condemns the Egyptian military regime for imprisoning Al Jazeera journalists on the ground that their journalism is a form of ‘terrorism’, the UK Government yet again shows the repressive company it keeps by doing the same.”


Read more: https://firstlook.org/theintercept/article/2014/02/19/uk-court-david-miranda-detention-legal-terrorism-law

Greenwald's Response:


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Equating journalism with terrorism has a long and storied tradition. Indeed, as Jonathan Schwarz has documented, the U.S. Government has frequently denounced nations for doing exactly this. Just last April, Under Secretary of State Tara Sonenshine dramatically informed the public that many repressive, terrible nations actually “misuse terrorism laws to prosecute and imprison journalists.” When visiting Ethiopia in 2012, U.S. Deputy Secretary of State William Burns publicly disclosed that in meetings with that nation’s officials, the United States “express our concern that the application of anti-terrorism laws can sometimes undermine freedom of expression and independent media.” The same year, the State Department reported that Burundi was prosecuting a journalist under terrorism laws.

It should surprise nobody that the U.K. is not merely included in, but is one of the leaders of, this group of nations which regularly wages war on basic press freedoms. In the 1970s, British journalist Duncan Campbell was criminally prosecuted for the crime of reporting on the mere existence of the GCHQ, while fellow journalist Mark Hosenball, now of Reuters, was forced to leave the country. The monarchy has no constitutional guarantee of a free press. The UK government routinely threatens newspapers with all sorts of sanctions for national security reporting it dislikes. Its Official State Secrets Act makes it incredibly easy to prosecute journalists and others for disclosing anything which political officials want to keep secret. For that reason, it was able to force the Guardian to destroy its own computers containing Snowden material precisely: because the paper’s editors knew that British courts would slavishly defer to any requests made by the GCHQ to shut down the paper’s reporting.

Must-Read: Yes, 1 Percenters Are That Bad - "What I Saw When I Crashed a Wall Street Secret Society"


Today at 12:05 AM 321 Comments

One-Percent Jokes and Plutocrats in Drag: What I Saw When I Crashed a Wall Street Secret Society

By Kevin Roose

Recently, our nation’s financial chieftains have been feeling a little unloved. Venture capitalists are comparing the persecution of the rich to the plight of Jews at Kristallnacht, Wall Street titans are saying that they’re sick of being beaten up, and this week, a billionaire investor, Wilbur Ross, proclaimed that “the 1 percent is being picked on for political reasons.”

Ross's statement seemed particularly odd, because two years ago, I met Ross at an event that might single-handedly explain why the rest of the country still hates financial tycoons – the annual black-tie induction ceremony of a secret Wall Street fraternity called Kappa Beta Phi.

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• Warren Stephens, an investment banking CEO, took the stage in a Confederate flag hat and sang a song about the financial crisis, set to the tune of “Dixie.” (“In Wall Street land we’ll take our stand, said Morgan and Goldman. But first we better get some loans, so quick, get to the Fed, man.”)

A few more acts followed, during which the veteran Kappas continued to gorge themselves on racks of lamb, throw petits fours at the stage, and laugh uproariously. Michael Novogratz, a former Army helicopter pilot with a shaved head and a stocky build whose firm, Fortress Investment Group, had made him a billionaire, was sitting next to me, drinking liberally and annotating each performance with jokes and insults.
“Can you fuckin’ believe Lasry up there?” Novogratz asked me. I nodded. He added, “He just gave me a ride in his jet a month ago.”
The neophytes – who had changed from their drag outfits into Mormon missionary costumes — broke into their musical finale: a parody version of “I Believe,” the hit ballad from The Book of Mormon, with customized lyrics like “I believe that God has a plan for all of us. I believe my plan involves a seven-figure bonus.” Amused, I pulled out my phone, and began recording the proceedings on video. Wrong move.

The grand finale, a parody of "I Believe" from The Book of Mormon

“Who the hell are you?” Novogratz demanded.
I felt my pulse spike. I was tempted to make a run for it, but – due to the ethics code of the New York Times, my then-employer – I had no choice but to out myself.

“I’m a reporter,” I said.
Novogratz stood up from the table.

"You’re not allowed to be here," he said.
I, too, stood, and tried to excuse myself, but he grabbed my arm and wouldn’t let go.

“Give me that or I’ll fucking break it!” Novogratz yelled, grabbing for my phone, which was filled with damning evidence. His eyes were bloodshot, and his neck veins were bulging. The song onstage was now over, and a number of prominent Kappas had rushed over to our table. Before the situation could escalate dangerously, a bond investor and former Grand Swipe named Alexandra Lebenthal stepped in between us. Wilbur Ross quickly followed, and the two of them led me out into the lobby, past a throng of Wall Street tycoons, some of whom seemed to be hyperventilating.

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The first and most obvious conclusion was that the upper ranks of finance are composed of people who have completely divorced themselves from reality. No self-aware and socially conscious Wall Street executive would have agreed to be part of a group whose tacit mission is to make light of the financial sector’s foibles. Not when those foibles had resulted in real harm to millions of people in the form of foreclosures, wrecked 401(k)s, and a devastating unemployment crisis.


Snowden Documents Reveal Covert Surveillance, Pressure Tactics Aimed at WikiLeaks, Its Supporters

Source: The Intercept

Snowden Documents Reveal Covert Surveillance and Pressure Tactics Aimed at WikiLeaks and Its Supporters

By Glenn Greenwald and Ryan Gallagher
18 Feb 2014, 1:50 AM EST

- snip -

The efforts – detailed in documents provided previously by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden – included a broad campaign of international pressure aimed not only at WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, but at what the U.S. government calls “the human network that supports WikiLeaks.” The documents also contain internal discussions about targeting the file-sharing site Pirate Bay and hacktivist collectives such as Anonymous.

One classified document from Government Communications Headquarters, Britain’s top spy agency, shows that GCHQ used its surveillance system to secretly monitor visitors to a WikiLeaks site. By exploiting its ability to tap into the fiber-optic cables that make up the backbone of the Internet, the agency confided to allies in 2012, it was able to collect the IP addresses of visitors in real time, as well as the search terms that visitors used to reach the site from search engines like Google.

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A third document, from July 2011, contains a summary of an internal discussion in which officials from two NSA offices – including the agency’s general counsel and an arm of its Threat Operations Center – considered designating WikiLeaks as “a ‘malicious foreign actor’ for the purpose of targeting.” Such a designation would have allowed the group to be targeted with extensive electronic surveillance – without the need to exclude U.S. persons from the surveillance searches.

- snip -

In a top-secret presentation at the conference, two GCHQ spies outlined how ANTICRISIS GIRL was used to enable “targeted website monitoring” of WikiLeaks (See slides 33 and 34). The agency logged data showing hundreds of users from around the world, including the United States, as they were visiting a WikiLeaks site –contradicting claims by American officials that a deal between the U.K. and the U.S. prevents each country from spying on the other’s citizens.

- snip -

An entry from August 2010 – headlined “United States, Australia, Great Britain, Germany, Iceland” – states: “The United States on August 10 urged other nations with forces in Afghanistan, including Australia, United Kingdom, and Germany, to consider filing criminal charges against Julian Assange.” It describes Assange as the “founder of the rogue Wikileaks Internet website and responsible for the unauthorized publication of over 70,000 classified documents covering the war in Afghanistan.”

Read more: https://firstlook.org/theintercept/article/2014/02/18/snowden-docs-reveal-covert-surveillance-and-pressure-tactics-aimed-at-wikileaks-and-its-supporters

Newly Published Secret Grand Jury Orders & Other Docs shed light on US Investigation of WikiLeaks


Newly published secret grand jury orders & other docs shed light on US investigation of WikiLeaks now entering 5th yr

By Alexa O'Brien on February 17, 2014 10:51 AM |

Newly published documents, including sealed court orders from the secret Department of Justice grand jury investigating WikiLeaks, shed light on the manner and scope of the criminal and intelligence probes into Julian Assange and civilians associated with the online publisher of censored material.

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I am publishing for the first time, two court orders that detail the U.S. Department of Justice's surveillance of a Jacob Appelbaum, a WikiLeaks associate, security expert and journalist, who has recently collaborated on articles in Der Spiegel detailing NSA surveillance.

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Recently released emails also reveal that the secret Sonic order for Appelbaum's information was part of a small portion of sealed grand jury materials, which were turned over to Manning's defense at her trial.

Other recently released emails reveal that the three and a half year old Department of Justice grand jury probe was already empaneled on September 23, 2010, two months before the Attorney General publicly acknowledged an ongoing U.S. criminal investigation of WikiLeaks and Julian Assange.
The Department of Justice has also characterized the WikiLeaks criminal probe as a national security investigation. Evidence may also indicate that the case has been categorized as terrorism related. If that is so, it raises questions about the methods (beyond traditional criminal law enforcement) that the Obama administration is employing against the online publisher, its employees, associates, and supporters.

- snip -

Typically, the Department of Justice simply indicts, keeps the indictment sealed, issues a warrant, and then sits and waits. It is a violation of federal law for an official to disclose the instance of a sealed indictment before an accused is in the custody of law enforcement.

Once an indictment is unsealed or an investigation is concluded, all the secret orders and search warrants related to the case are simultaneously unsealed. All the secret orders and search warrants related to the WikiLeaks investigation that are publicly known, including those published here, remain under seal.
In the Assange case, however, there are public relations concerns, says Stanley Cohen, U.S. defense attorney on numerous high profile terrorism and cyber-crime cases. "The Department of Justice could also list a target as an un-indicted co-conspirator and still get the benefit of him or her fitting within the history and evidence chain presented to the grand jury," says Cohen. An unindicted co-conspirator can later be charged whether on his or her own, or by a superseding indictment along with those previously charged, Cohen added.

In the end, however, Assange (or any other civilian) could be extradited by criminal complaint or by indictment.


NJ Port Authority Probing Whether Officer Drove Chris Christie Ally Through Bridgegate Area

Source: Star-Ledger

NJ Port Authority probing whether officer drove Chris Christie ally through Bridgegate area

By NJ.com
Monday, February 17, 2014 17:13 EST

Steve Strunsky/The Star-Ledger February 17, 2014 at 2:21:00 PM EST

Gov. Chris Christie's office says he never spoke about September's George Washington Bridge lane closures with a Port Authority Police lieutenant he knows personally, and whose conduct during the closures is now the subject of an internal review.

Christie office also said governor had never spoken about the closures to Lt. Thomas "Chip" Michaels' brother, Jeffrey Michaels, a Republican lobbyist and former GOP legislative aide.

"The Governor has never had any conversations with either Jeff or Chip Michaels on this topic," Christie spokesman Colin Reed, said in a statement this morning.

Christie's office was reacting to word that Port Authority Executive Director Patrick Foye had ordered the agency’s police chief to investigate the lieutenant's actions during the Sept. 9-13 closures.

A source close to the Port Authority Police Department told The Star-Ledger on Sunday that the probe will focus on reports that Michaels, a 15-year veteran of the department and a member of its GWB unit, chauffeured former Port Authority official David Wildstein through Fort Lee's traffic-congested streets on the first of four days of closures.

Read more: http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2014/02/17/nj-port-authority-probing-whether-officer-drove-chris-christie-ally-through-bridgegate-area/
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