Sunday, June 22, 2014

Steve Leser vs Eric Bolling re: IRS Scandal on Fox News The O'Reilly Factor

IRS Documents show that Progressive groups were also targeted

In an apparent contradiction with earlier comments made by House Oversight Committee chair Darrell Issa, new documents obtained through a FOIA request by ThinkProgress show that yes, the IRS targeted both conservative and liberal groups for extra scrutiny. According to ThinkProgress's analysis of the heavily redacted "be on the lookout" lists, the IRS may have targeted a higher number of progressive groups than conservative groups overall. 

Basically, the documents support a long-held counterargument to Issa's theory of the IRS scandal. While Issa has often emphasized that he believes the IRS exclusively targeted Tea Party groups "because of their political beliefs," that argument relies heavily on the fact that the latest version of the so-called BOLO lists primarily contained conservative-sounding groups. In fact, the IRS also kept and circulated historical versions of that list for continued scrutiny, which were filled with progressive keywords, including medical marijuana groups and keywords designed to flag groups descended from the now-defunct ACORN. And just to be clear: everybody agrees that the IRS should not have targeted political groups for extra scrutiny in this way. What's at issue are claims that the IRS uniquely treated conservative and Tea Party groups on the basis of political motivations. 
Arguably, ThinkProgress's report implies, the IRS focused on giving extra scrutiny to groups on the left longer than it did to groups on the right,  Issa's colleagues across the aisle on the Oversight Committee have long noted that Issa has yet to produce evidence supporting his repeated claims that the IRS was acting as part of an anti-GOP political conspiracy. These documents, which ThinkProgress notes were also produced for "investigating congressional committees," are certainly not that evidence.  Here's a list of some of the groups that show up on the full BOLO watch lists (viewable here): 
  • “Progressive” groups, especially those with words like "blue" in the name
  •  “Tea Party" groups
  • Not exclusively educational  “medical marijuana” groups 
  • Groups believed to be "successors to ACORN" 
  • "Open source software" organizations 
  • "Green energy" organizations 
  • "Occupied territory" advocacy organizations
See more at above link
By the way, this has been known for a long time as this CNN article from 2013 makes clear

Washington (CNN) -- The inspector general who reported Internal Revenue Service targeting of conservative groups said Thursday that he didn't have information until last week that the word "progressive" also was on a list of criteria for extra scrutiny of tax-exempt applications.
At a hearing of the House Oversight Committee, Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration J. Russell George said the information that liberal groups also were probably targeted only came to him July 9.
His audit, released in May, cited criteria including "tea party" and other conservative-themed words or labels that were used to decide whether applicants for tax-exempt status should come under further review. Since then, an investigation by the panel turned up documents that showed IRS workers also were told to look for the liberal-themed label.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Frmr Georgia Congressman Ben Jones who was "Cooter" on Dukes of Hazzard is on my Radio show this week

Click above to listen to my radio show of this week featuring former Congressman Ben Jones who was also "Cooter" on the Dukes of Hazzard. He discusses his role in the stunning primary defeat of Eric Cantor.

Our special opening and closing music is the new dance hit "Tonight's Your Night" produced by Frank Lamboy and sung by my friend Jenn Cuneta!

The show will also air Monday at 2pm Pacific time on KCAA 1050am in the Los Angeles Basin

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Edward Snowden Fails to Justify his Actions in NBC Interview with Brian Williams

Transcript of this segment from my Radio show of June 1-2 2014. You can hear the segment as I delivered it by clicking and fast forwarding to 37:55

I watched a replay of the Edward Snowden interview with NBC's Brian Williams this past week. I'm struck by how he provided inadequate or demonstrably untrue answers to the two central issues around his actions.
The two central questions are
#1 - Did NSA Surveillance programs amount to lawbreaking or wrongdoing and if so are they bad enough to justify taking the massive steps he took.
#2 - Did Snowden do enough to try to address whatever was concerning him through appropriate channels.
We can talk about other issues but everything else, in my opinion, is window-dressing compared to those two central questions.
The problem with Snowden's actions with regard to my first question, did the surveillance programs amount to wrongdoing, is that Snowden had no legal training and thus did not have the background to answer those questions, nor did he apparently consult someone who did before acting.
The NSA Surveillance programs, at least from what we have been told from the documents Snowden and Greenwald presented us, and we don't really have confirmation if that information is accurate, but from what we've gathered from the documents they are the subject of a lot of debate between fourth amendment experts. There is no consensus about whether they are Constitutional or not. I've previously covered on this show the evolution in fourth amendment court cases with regards to surveillance.
The important two things to know are that prior to the FISA Law of 1978, the appellate Courts repeatedly ruled that the President has the inherent right to conduct surveillance for national security purposes and that this constitutes an exception to the fourth amendment. an example of one of these rulings is US v Duggan in 1984. FISA passed in 1978 basically stated that to conduct national security surveillance in the US the President had to go through a FISA court to get a warrant. And President Obama has been going to a FISA court to get warrants. So its understandable that people are making the argument that what he is doing is constitutional. Obviously there are additional details there but the law basically is as I've laid out.
Some critics say the FISA court is almost a rubber stamp. That's right, because the FISA court is acting on prior Appellate Court precedents that say, as I just mentioned that the President has the inherent right to conduct national security surveillance.
The FISA court is not there to prevent surveillance per se, but to ensure there is oversight and a paper trail to ensure that if congress wants to come back and investigate why the President spied on someone and take action, they have the ability to do so.
Snowden was repeatedly asked by Brian Williams last week to detail the wrongdoing by the NSA and he mentioned the Constitution 22 times and he talked about a few issues but the question is did those things violate the fourth amendment. Were they illegal or Constitutional. Of course, Snowden can't answer that, he doesn't have the background. Nor can we take his word for a number of things including, did this surveillance help the fight against terrorism. The folks who really know the answer to that question are prevented from answering because the information is classified. But we don't need to ask that question to show Snowden's claims to be invalid.
The question is did he have a reasonable basis to conclude that the government was doing something illegal or Unconstitutional or generally wrong, and the answer is no. He could have gotten that information. He could have retained an attorney that was an expert in fourth amendment appelate cases and asked that attorney to go over what he found. He didn't do that.
That in my opinion is a critical problem with his actions. A late 20's guy with no legal experience or training made a very grave decision whose basis is a legal one that he was not qualified to make.
Now lets look at problem #2. Did Snowden take all possible actions within regular channels to get his concerns addressed. The answer to that is easily answered. No. He was asked this directly by Brian Williams and his answer was:
"I actually did go through channels, and that is documented. The NSA has records, they have copies of emails right now to their office of general counsel, to their oversight and compliance folks from me raising concerns about the NSA's interpretations of it -- legal authorities. Now, I had raised these complaints not just officially in writing through email -- to these offices and -- and these individuals, but to my supervisors, to my colleagues, in more than one office. I did it in Fort Meade. I did it in Hawaii.
Now folks, on its face you can see how ridiculous this is. This guy is about to take an extraordinary action, violate the oath he took to safeguard and not disseminate classified information to unauthorized people, he's going to flee the country, and he asserts as adequate attempts to address his concerns properly that he sent a few emails to his supervisors and the NSA's office of general counsel.
In fairness, I agree that this what Snowden describes are among the first steps you might take, yes, but not the last or even second to last or third to last. Before I took the radical step that he took, I would be knocking on the doors of every congressman or senator on Capitol Hill in particular all of the leadership of the House and Senate Intelligence Committees. I would have gone to see the Inspector General of the Office of the Intelligence Community in person. I would have tried to see as many people in the administration as possible. I would have sent emails and letters to the President that I worked for the CIA and NSA and Booz Allen and needed to see him regarding an urgent national security issue. He probably wouldnt have gotten in to see the President but he might have gotten as far as a deputy Chief of staff or maybe even the Chief of staff.
And the President was clearly interested in having a discussion about this. The President gave a speech in May of 2012 indicating a desire to have a dialogue on the appropriateness of a number of programs including drones and NSA Surveillance. That's two weeks or so before Snowden's first documents were leaked to the public.
But even giving Snowden credit for emailing the NSA Office of General Counsel with his concerns is giving him too much Credit.
Get this folks, when asked about it, the NSA initially denied that Snowden ever emailed the general counsel expressing concerns.
Do you know why? Well, let me explain it this way. After Snowden kept trying to assert he had sent such an email, the NSA went back and looked for any correspondance between Snowden and the general counsel and they found one, but it had very little to do with raising security concerns. The NSA has published the full email correspondance online.
 The upshot is, its Snowden asking about a training class where an Executive order was discussed as carrying the same weight as federal law. The general counsel replied, yes they have the same power. If you would like to discuss, call me.
 Thats it. I am not omitting anything relevant. That is Snowdens claim to trying to get this addressed through official channels. 
After the NSA posted that email online, Snowden started backing up and claimed that the emails that really expressed his concern was sent to the NSA Signals Intelligence folks. If that's true, why didn't he mention that instead of mentioning the Office of General Counsel email during his interview with Brian Williams?
Those two problems with his actions, the failure to have an expert look over what his concerns were to determine the legality of them and totally inadequate attempts to address his concerns through legal means take what he did out of the realm of whistleblower and hero and put them squarely in the position of criminal and betrayer of his countries trust and secrets. There is no amount of spin that will make those two issues go away. They are the central issues in what Snowden did and he should be judged on his failure to act responsibly in both cases.
For other odd statements by Snowden, an article by Bob Cesca titled "The 13 Most Bizarre Things from Edward Snowden’s NBC News Interview" is a good place to get that information, and includes such mentions as:
Snowden claimed he has auote “no relationship” with the Russian government and that he’s quote “not supported” by it but that’s odd, given how the Russian government has twice offered him asylum and one of his lawyers, Anatoly Kucherena, is an attorney with the Russian intelligence agency, the FSB (formerly known as the KGB).
Early on after the documents he took were first leaked, Snowden was adamant about saying he is not a spy.” But this past week on tv with Brian Williams he not only confessed to being “trained as a spy.” and taking on assignments as a spy, he pumped up his spying credentials.
When you examine all of this, I think that anyone who still finds Snowden credible needs to have their heads examined.

Edward Snowden wins the award for worst and most shameful nonsense of the week.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Maher , Joy Reid Clash With Glenn Greenwald Over Benghazi Obama's Suppos...

Only people who hate Obama and view him as the enemy suggest that Benghazi involves wrongdoing

In that context, I understand why Republicans are all about Benghazi. There is a reason, they are politically motivated and think it will help get their candidates elected.

What reason does a journalist supposedly interested in the truth have for pushing that lie?

Glenn Greenwald "expertly" previews the 2012 election

This is what happens when you twist facts to fit theories instead of vice versa.