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Archive for the ‘media’ Category

Watch it

Posted by Charles II on October 21, 2014

Kill the Messenger is worth watching. Aside from the story itself, which is moving, it points to a broader feature of modern American life: we can no longer handle the truth. We have lost that sense of honor that demands that when we have made a mistake, we should acknowledge it and correct it. We imagine that we can become the image of ourselves that we create, independent of reality. And so we crash into reality, and are injured by that collision much more deeply than we ever would be by embracing the truth.

Gary Webb, we miss you.

Posted in abuse of power, CIA, colonial wars, media, Media machine, War On Some Drugs | Tagged: | 2 Comments »

A most dangerous case

Posted by Charles II on June 3, 2014

DemocracyNow:

In one of the most significant press freedom cases in decades, the U.S. Supreme Court has turned down the appeal of a New York Times reporter who faces prison for refusing to reveal a confidential source. James Risen had asked the court to overturn a ruling forcing him to testify in the criminal trial of ex-CIA analyst Jeffrey Sterling. Prosecutors believe Sterling gave Risen information on the CIA’s role in disrupting Iran’s nuclear program [in the course of which, the CIA handed the blueprints for a functioning weapon to Iran]. Risen vowed to go to prison rather than testify and was hoping for Supreme Court intervention. But on Monday, the Supreme Court refused to weigh in, effectively siding with the government. The Obama administration must now decide if it will try to force Risen’s testimony and risk sending one of the nation’s most prominent national security journalists to jail.

It’s easy to despise the corporate media, especially the journalists that we see and read, for their cravenness before power and their complicity in the corruption of this nation. Watching Brian Williams question Edward Snowden without once mentioning that Daniel Ellsberg has said that Snowden did the right thing should have opened the eyes of every viewer to just how completely the corporate media serves the interests of the State.

But among the empty shirts, there are a few journalists who put themselves on the line to report the news. Among them is James Risen. That the Obama Administration is likely to prosecute him to coerce testimony about exposing wrongdoing at very high levels makes it clear that the Administration is a better friend to the Security State than it is to the American Constitution. And for the Supreme Court to decline to hear the case is not just a function of the right wingers, but a failure of the so-called “liberals” on the court. As was commented on in DemocracyNow, it’s a blessing that the Roberts Court did not hear the case. Every case they hear, they turn into a perversion and mockery of justice.

This is a most dangerous case.

Posted in judiciary, media, Supreme Court | 2 Comments »

An article I ought to read

Posted by Charles II on February 7, 2014

I linked this lengthy article by Mark Ames and Yasha Levine in a comment to PW. It has to do with the latest billionaire Oz who imagines that his benevolent neo-liberal ideas will solve the world’s problems, namely Pierre Omidyar. There’s a lot in it:

* How to turn microfinancing into payday lending, complete with suicides and ruined lives
* The latest corporate libertarian Great White Hope Hernando deSoto, aide to dictator Alberto Fujimori
* Hayek’s ILD as the first of the international right-political think tanks linked to Cato and Heritage

And Omidyar is financing Jeremy Scahill, Laura Poitras, and Glenn Greenwald to do FirstLook Media.

It’s an interesting article. I should read it.

Posted in corporatists, corruption, half-vast rightwing conspiracy, media, Media machine, neoliberals, unintended consequences | 2 Comments »

Is the U.K. Independent on the reservation?

Posted by Charles II on August 23, 2013

(crossposted with minor revisions at DK)

It’s an odd question, to be sure, but one in response to a very odd event. The Independent is a newspaper that I have traditionally regarded as off the reservation in the very best sense of the term. That is, I have always regarded them as a left-wing newspaper refusing to be marginalized and demanding that issues of importance to the left receive the same attention as those of interest to the rest of the corporate media.

But Glenn Greenwald has published a piece in The Guardian in which he says (to distill it down) that the Independent has published an article which could, perhaps, endanger lives based, according to The Independent, on “documents obtained from the NSA by Edward Snowden” but which, according to Greenwald “clearly did not come from Snowden or any of the journalists with whom he has directly worked.”

For both of those statements to be true, the documents would have to have come from the government based on a list of the documents that Snowden obtained but has not published. They could, for example, have been based on documents supplied from the government based on the (apparently ineffectual) audit of Snowden’s actions or based on decrypts of the materials obtained from Miranda. Once in the public domain, the government could easily use them against Miranda to allege that the materials he has are being used to aid the enemies of Britain.

Greenwald quotes Snowden as saying that:

“It appears that the UK government is now seeking to create an appearance that the Guardian and Washington Post’s disclosures are harmful, and they are doing so by intentionally leaking harmful information to The Independent and attributing it to others.

The Independent’s Oliver Wright has said,

“For the record: The Independent was not leaked or ‘duped’ into publishing today’s front page story by the Government.”

He is receiving a torrent of well-deserved abuse for publishing dodgy material from dodgy sources for dodgy purposes.

______
The relevant phrases from the Independent are these. They either could serve to identify the site and therefore endanger the lives of personnel or provide information about sourcing for the article:

Britain runs a secret internet-monitoring station in the Middle East to intercept and process vast quantities of emails, telephone calls and web traffic on behalf of Western intelligence agencies, The Independent has learnt.

The Independent is not revealing the precise location of the station but information on its activities was contained in the leaked documents obtained from the NSA by Edward Snowden.

installation is regarded as particularly valuable by the British and Americans because it can access submarine cables passing through the region

Many of them came from an internal Wikipedia-style information site called GC-Wiki

The Independent understands that The Guardian agreed to the Government’s request not to publish any material contained in the Snowden documents that could damage national security.

A senior Whitehall source said: “We agreed with The Guardian that our discussions with them would remain confidential”.

It [the intercept station] is part of the surveillance and monitoring system, code-named “Tempora”,

Across three sites, communications – including telephone calls – are tracked both by satellite dishes and by tapping into underwater fibre-optic cables.

The Middle East station was set up under a warrant signed by the then Foreign Secretary David Miliband

Posted in government malfeasance, media, NSA eavesdropping, secrecy, truthiness, wiretapping | 1 Comment »

Clockwork Orange in the Scott Trust’s basement

Posted by Charles II on August 19, 2013

Alan Rusbridger, The Guardian (via Little, DK):

A little over two months ago I was contacted by a very senior government official claiming to represent the views of the prime minister. There followed two meetings in which he demanded the return or destruction of all the material we were working on. The tone was steely, if cordial, but there was an implicit threat that others within government and Whitehall favoured a far more draconian approach.

The mood toughened just over a month ago, when I received a phone call from the centre of government telling me: “You’ve had your fun. Now we want the stuff back.” There followed further meetings with shadowy Whitehall figures. The demand was the same: hand the Snowden material back or destroy it. I explained that we could not research and report on this subject if we complied with this request. The man from Whitehall looked mystified. “You’ve had your debate. There’s no need to write any more.”

During one of these meetings I asked directly whether the government would move to close down the Guardian’s reporting through a legal route – by going to court to force the surrender of the material on which we were working. The official confirmed that, in the absence of handover or destruction, this was indeed the government’s intention. Prior restraint, near impossible in the US, was now explicitly and imminently on the table in the UK. But my experience over WikiLeaks – the thumb drive and the first amendment – had already prepared me for this moment. I explained to the man from Whitehall about the nature of international collaborations and the way in which, these days, media organisations could take advantage of the most permissive legal environments. Bluntly, we did not have to do our reporting from London. Already most of the NSA stories were being reported and edited out of New York. And had it occurred to him that Greenwald lived in Brazil?

The man was unmoved. And so one of the more bizarre moments in the Guardian’s long history occurred – with two GCHQ security experts overseeing the destruction of hard drives in the Guardian’s basement just to make sure there was nothing in the mangled bits of metal which could possibly be of any interest to passing Chinese agents. “We can call off the black helicopters,” joked one as we swept up the remains of a MacBook Pro. (emphasis added)

Posted in abuse of power, media | Comments Off

Swedish Supreme Court Justice Calls Assange Case “a Mess”

Posted by Charles II on July 26, 2013

This is from April, but I don’t think many people are aware of it except at the most superficial level. To be clear, Swedish Supreme Court Justice Stefan Lindskog is not saying Assange is innocent or shouldn’t be prosecuted, only that the handling of the case has been horrific. And he makes it clear that he’s working not from established facts but from what he found out on the Internet. Further, he’s not speaking for his colleagues, so it’s not an official position.

Some highlights
* Justice believes there are not any formal US charges against Assange.
* He presents the case from the point of view of the Swedish police report obtained from–if I understand him correctly– leaked Polish [intelligence?] documents (!9:00ff)
* The leaking of the police report was a crime.
* The leaking was not prosecuted because of the privilege granted to sources of the press.
* Assange was defamed in the press.
* Hypothetically, if the women have told the truth, the case is entirely based on the use of condoms. How legally binding was that conditionality?
* Would a lie about a condom be charged as a sexual crime? If one lies about having HIV, no. It’s charged as assault.
* Two courts have held that there’s probable cause for sexual molestation (I believe this is also called “minor rape“).
* Swedish law forbids extradition for political offenses or if there is a reasonable fear that someone could be punished for political offenses as a consequences.
* The UK court did not try the merits of the case against Assange.
* Extradition to US: extradition is only possible if Swedish courts would charge the offense.
* It is debatable whether Swedish law would regard Assange’s leaks as treason or espionage
* Source privilege is protective only for business secrets, not military secrets.
* Still, Sweden’s enemies may not be America’s.
* Justice must not only be done, it must also be seen to be done.

While Lindskog is not speaking officially, for him to speak suggests the case is disintegrating. This is corroborated by the fact that prosecutor Marianne Ny has been displaced by another “investigator.” Also Anna Ardin fired her lawyer.

I don’t see any other way to understand Lindskog’s speech but as a statement that the prosecution of Assange is essentially baseless.

For the record, here are the finding of the UK Supreme Court on the agreed-to findings.

Also–again old news– the torn condom submitted for testing did not contain Assange’s DNA. Craig Murray gives his take on the matter.

Posted in abuse of power, crimes, media, NSA eavesdropping | 2 Comments »

The Upside Down World

Posted by Charles II on July 21, 2013

An open letter by a number of LatAm experts:

The supposed “irony” of whistle-blower Edward Snowden seeking asylum in countries such as Ecuador and Venezuela has become a media meme.

The media has never noted the “irony” of the many thousands of people who have taken refuge in the United States, which is currently torturing people in a secret prison at Guantanamo, and regularly kills civilians in drone strikes in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, and other countries. Nor has the press noted the “irony” of refugees who have fled here from terror that was actively funded and sponsored by the U.S. government, e.g. from Nicaragua, El Salvador, Chile, and other countries.

But in fact the “irony” that U.S. journalists mention is fantastically exaggerated.  It is based on the notion that the governments of Venezuela under Chávez (and now Maduro) and Ecuador under Correa have clamped down on freedom of the press. Most consumers of the U.S. media unfortunately don’t know better, since they have not been to these countries and have not been able to see that the majority of media are overwhelmingly anti-government…

Yes, the Venezuelan government’s communications authorities let the RCTV channel’s broadcast license expire in 2007. This was not a “shut down”… Even José Miguel Vivanco of Human Rights Watch – a fierce critic of Venezuela – has said that “lack of renewal of the contract [broadcast license], per se, is not a free speech issue.”…

A July 10th piece from the Washington Post’s editorial board – which has never hid its deep hatred of Venezuela, Ecuador and other left governments in Latin America – describes another supposed grave instance of the Venezuelan government clamping down on press freedoms. The editorial, which was given greater publicity through Boing Boing and others, describes the case of journalist Nelson Bocaranda, who is credited with breaking the news of Chávez’s cancer in June 2011. The Post champions Bocaranda as a “courage[ous]” “teller of truth” and dismisses the Venezuelan government’s “charges” against him as “patently absurd.” In fact, Bocaranda has not been charged with anything; the Venezuelan government wants to know whether Bocaranda helped incite violence following the April 14 presidential elections, after which extreme sectors of the opposition attacked Cuban-run health clinics and homes and residences of governing party leaders, and in which some nine people were killed – mostly chavistas.

In Ecuador, President Rafael Correa has been widely condemned in the U.S. media – in much reporting as well as commentary – for suing a prominent journalist, Emilio Palacio, for defamation. The defamatory content was, in fact, serious. It relates to a 2010 incident in which Correa was first assaulted and then later held captive by rebelling police in what many observers deemed an attempt at a coup d’etat. Military forces ultimately rescued Correa. But in a February 2011 column referring to the episode, Palacio alleged that Correa had committed “crimes against humanity,” and that he had ordered the military forces to fire on the hospital where he was being held at the time. So Correa sued Palacio for defamation and won.

Many commentators have cited Reporters Without Borders and other media watchdog groups’ criticisms of Ecuador’s proposed new “Organic Law of Communication.”

Organizations such as RSF [Reporters Without Borders] and Freedom House are supposed to be impartial arbiters of press freedom around the world and are rarely subject to scrutiny. Yet both have taken funding from the U.S. government and/or U.S.-government supported organizations such as the National Endowment for Democracy (which was set up to conduct activities “much of [which]” the “CIA used to fund covertly,” as the Washington Post reported at the time, and which also provided funding and training to organizations involved in the afore-mentioned 2002 Venezuelan coup) and other “democracy promotion” groups. The NED has spent millions of dollars in Venezuela and Ecuador in recent years to support groups opposed to the governments there…

What an upside down world, when poor countries like Ecuador and Venezuela actually have more real press freedom than a rich country like the US. In Venezuela, the press may be afraid of the government, a little bit, at least. In the US, the press delivers the government’s point of view, or at least the viewpoint of cranky billionaires who are trying to take charge of the government.

And we call ourselves free.

By the way, the latest rankings by Reporters Without Borders have us at #32. That’s the Reporters Sans Frontiers that accepts payments from the US government.

Posted in Latin America, media, Media machine | 2 Comments »

Tony Lewis passes on

Posted by Charles II on March 25, 2013

Via Jesselyn Radack, tireless civil liberties lawyer (who exposed the wrongdoing in the treatment of so-called “American Taliban” John Walker Lindh) and director of National Security & Human Rights at the Government Accountability Project, at DK.

Adam Liptak, NYT:

Anthony Lewis, a former New York Times reporter and columnist whose work won two Pulitzer Prizes and transformed American legal journalism, died on Monday at his home in Cambridge, Mass. He was 85.

The cause was complications of renal and heart failure…

he was hired by The Washington Daily News, a lively afternoon tabloid, and won his first Pulitzer there, in 1955, when he was 28.

The prize was for a series of articles on Abraham Chasanow, a Navy employee unjustly accused of being a security risk.

It’s a mediocre obituary, I think (see WaPo for better), which downplays the extent to which Tony Lewis put himself forward to defend core constitutional principles at times when the mob was howling to overthrow them. He wasn’t just a neutral reporter, but a knowledgeable man with a clear view of the issues, and a passion for doing the right thing. He was one of the earlier voices against the Vietnam War. I was saddened to learn that he slackened off on his defense of “dangerous speech” in his latter days, but I understand. It’s very difficult to watch the right-wing demonize, dehumanize, and indirectly advocate violence against people (consider Dr. George Tiller, cold-bloodedly assassinated in Wichita) and not think, There has to be some way that the law can stop this.

Posted in media, obituary | Comments Off

US media, pay attention

Posted by Charles II on March 25, 2013

This is an interview of London Mayor Boris Johnson that shows how an interviewer can be polite, but clear and firm in follow-through. For example:

[The BBC's Eddie Mair] With this admission trousered, Mair continued: “Let me ask you about a barefaced lie. When you were in Michael Howard’s team, you denied to him you were having an affair. It turned out you were and he sacked you for that. Why did you lie to your party leader?”

Johnson squirmed. “Well, I mean again, I’m … with great respect … on that, I never had any conversation with Michael Howard about that matter and, you know, I don’t propose …”

Mair interrupted: “You did lie to him.”

Johnson: “Well, you know, I don’t propose to go into all that again.”

Mair: “I don’t blame you.”

It’s not that Boris Johnson is worse than most politicians–I doubt that he is– but all politicians need to be reminded that they are not above scrutiny, that people see what they do, and remember.

And, by the way, in the perverse way these things go, it may have generated public sympathy for Boris Johnson.

Posted in Good Things, media | Comments Off

Everyone was doing it, but the boss didn’t know about it: Murdochgate continues

Posted by Charles II on March 14, 2013

Josh Halliday, Lisa O’Carroll, Sandra Laville, and Mark Sweney, The Guardian:

The Sunday People editor, James Scott, has become the first serving newspaper editor arrested over alleged phone hacking, relating to his time at the Sunday Mirror a decade ago.

Scott was one of four former Sunday Mirror senior journalists arrested in dawn raids on Thursday on suspicion of conspiracy to intercept voicemail messages. Tina Weaver, the ex-Sunday Mirror editor who is seven months pregnant, was also arrested on Thursday morning.

The other two were Nick Buckley, the deputy Sunday People editor, and Mark Thomas, the former People editor, who also both formerly worked for the Sunday Mirror.

Posted in media, Media machine, Rupert Murdoch, wiretapping | 1 Comment »

 
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