Eugne Robinson on Obama and the seizure of AP journalists’ records:
The Obama administration has no business rummaging through journalists’ phone records, perusing their e-mails and tracking their movements in an attempt to keep them from gathering news. This heavy-handed business isn’t chilling, it’s just plain cold. . . .The unwarranted snooping, which was revealed last week, would be troubling enough if it were an isolated incident. But it is part of a pattern that threatens to redefine investigative reporting as criminal behavior.
The AP story that has so infuriated the government described the breakup of an al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula plot to place an underwear bomber on board a U.S.-bound airliner. Published on the afternoon of May 7, 2012, the story patted itself on the back for having heeded the White House and CIA requests to not publish the previous week, when the AP first learned of the operation. The AP states in the article that it published only after being told by “officials” that the original “concerns were allayed.” In a chronology published in today’s Washington Post, we’re told that the CIA was no longer resisting publication of the AP story on the day it hit the wire (Monday) and that the White House was planning to “announce the successful counterterrorism operation that Tuesday.”
That may be the case, but the government was still incensed by the leak. In fact, it appears that officials were livid. As my Reuters colleagues Mark Hosenball and Tabassum Zakaria reportedlast night, the government found the leak so threatening that it opened a leak investigation beforethe AP ran its story…
…the perpetrators of a successful double-agent operation against al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula would not want to brag about their coup for years. Presumably, al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula will now use the press reports to walk the dog back to determine whose misplaced trust allowed the agent to penetrate it. That will make the next operation more difficult. Other intelligence operations — and we can assume they are up and running — may also become compromised as the press reports give al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula new clues.
Likewise, the next time the CIA or foreign intelligence agency tries to recruit a double agent, the candidate will judge his handlers wretched secret keepers, regard the assignment a death mission and seek employment elsewhere.
What makes the DOJ’s actions so stunning here is its breadth. It’s the opposite of a narrowly tailored and limited scope. It’s a massive, sweeping, boundless invasion which enables the US government to learn the identity of every person whom multiple AP journalists and editors have called for a two-month period. Some of the AP journalists involved in the Yemen/CIA story and whose phone records were presumably obtained – including Adam Goldman and Matt Apuzzo – are among the nation’s best and most serious investigative journalists; those two won the Pulitzer Prize last year for their superb work exposing the NYPD’s surveillance program aimed at American Muslim communities. For the DOJ to obtain all of their phone records and those of their editors for a period of two months is just staggering.
When the Supreme Court set the legal precedent back in 1979, phone records contained much less information. Nowadays, a phone record’s metadataincludes not just the phone number, but the time the call took place, the call origin, the call duration, and the carrier.
The Electronic Frontier Foundation, a non-profit dedicated to the protection of digital rights, said in a statement released [Monday] that it “no longer makes sense to treat calling records and other metadata related to our communications as if they aren’t fully protected by the Constitution.”
Electronic communications have improved drastically since the legal precedent was set, and the amount of revealing data now transferred with a phone call is far greater than just a telephone number. But the law has yet to catch up with technology—which means the Justice Department has access to a lot more than just the numbers dialed by the AP’s journalists.
Massimo Calabresi nails Obama:
Obama came into office offering Americans a deal on secrecy. On the one hand, he promised to shrink the number of secrets created by the government, ending the problem of “overclassification” which produces so many secrets that few are well protected. At the same time, he said he would aggressively defend the secrets the government did need to keep by going after leakers and making them pay. Obama has delivered on the crackdown–he’s prosecuted twice as many leakers as all his predecessors combined–but he hasn’t delivered on the secrecy reduction.
Why the secrecy..?
LEADING foreign dictator Robert Mugabe – some say he’s the best in his field – has seen to it that a lecturer who called him “a rotten old donkey” has been jailed for three months.
Chenjerai Pamhiri, 38, a lecturer at Great Zimbabwe State University in Masvingo city, was convicted in a Zimbabwe court for standing in a supermarket and shouting “dirt which should be discarded, a rotten old donkey” in reference to the country’s President. He was swiftly arrested.
CAN a person’s muscles dictate their politics?
Men who are physically strong are more likely to take a right wing political stance, while weaker men are inclined to support the welfare state, according to a new study.
Researchers discovered political motivations may have evolutionary links to physical strength.
Men’s upper-body strength predicts their political opinions on economic redistribution, according to the research.
LOOK ALIKE of the date: UKIP leader Nigel Farage looks like…Joe E. Brown…
NIGEL Farage, the UKIP leader, was shouted and screamed at in Edinburgh. The MEP was forced to escape the crowd in a police riot van. The gaggle of self-declared anti-racists and Scottish nationalists joined forces to create an illiberal mob.
US Attorney General Eric Holder sat before the House Judiciary Committee and told them all the things he does not know. Does he know about the politicising of the Internal Revenue Service? Organisations with “Tea-Party” and “Patriot” in their names were vetted more than others. The IRS asked groups to identify their donors and provide print outs of their tweets and Facebook posts.
Does he know why the State subpoenaed phone records of Associated Press reporters? He just doesn’t know.
“In a sense, the two topics that dogged Holder most on Wednesday — the AP phone records and the IRS’s targeting of conservative groups — were one and the same. In both cases, Americans are being punished and intimidated for exercising their right of free expression — by the taxing authorities, in the conservatives’ case, and by federal prosecutors, in the reporters’ case.”
“I stopped watching The Daily Show the day after the ’04 election, because Jon Stewart’s open grief was too much to bear. (I was a different person then.) Plus, once I saw through his Clown Nose Off/Clown Nose On routine — ‘You should listen to me because what I’m saying is important, but I’ll brush off your rebuttal by insisting I’m just a comedian’ — it was like the optical illusion with the cows. It might take you a minute to see it, but once you do, you can’t unsee it. Which just makes this all the more delicious.”
NFL player Evan Mathis, of the Philadelphia Eagles posted a picure of himself pissing on the IRS building.
BARACK Obama’s Vice President Joe Biden has news on guns:
“If we had guns that shot chocolate, not only would our country be safer, it would be happier.”
President Obama’s angry dismissal of the growing outcry over the handling of last year’s Benghazi terrorist attack that left a U.S. ambassador dead shows all the signs of a White House in “damage control” mode, critics say.
“They are in damage control, and this story is now gaining traction because people are now talking about it even more,” said Richard Benedetto, an American University political science professor and former White House correspondent for USA Today. “This story to me has all the makings of a Watergate kind of story. What did they know and when did they know it, and what did people in the White House do to cover it up?”
HILARY Clinton is in the crosshairs over her role in the murderous attack on the US Benghazi consulate that left four Americans dead, including the ambassador. She says it was a violent reaction to the film the Innocence of Muslims. The Obama administration said it was a demonstration against that film that got out of hand. The attack was on Sept. 11. Clinton and Obama’s foe says that is significant. They say it was terrorism and that Obama and Clinton should have been better prepared and protected their staff.
Dick Cheney has this to say:
“When we were there, on our watch, we were always ready on 9/11, on the anniversary. We always anticipated they were coming for us, especially in that part of the world. I cannot understand why [members of the Obama administration] weren’t ready to go. … [It was] a failure of leadership.”
“This has been a difficult week for the State Department and for our country. We’ve seen the heavy assault on our post in Benghazi that took the lives of those brave men. We’ve seen rage and violence directed at American embassies over an awful Internet video that we had nothing do to with.”
NIGEL Evans, Tory MP and Deputy Speaker in the House of Commons, denies raping a man and sexually assaulting another.
Officers specialising in sex offences quizzed the former Tory Party vice-chairman at Preston police station. He was freed last night after about 12 hours and was driven away through the police station’s rear entrance.
That can’t be accidental?
NEWSPAPERS lead with news that Nigel Evans has been arrested on suspicion of rape. Mr Evans is the deputy Speaker of the House of Commons and the Conservative MP for Ribble Valley. He is accsued of raping two men in their 20s between July 2009 and March 2013 in Pendleton, Lancashire. So. How do you report the news?
DAVID Cameron is for turning:
“Ukip is sort of a bunch of … fruit cakes and loonies and closet racists mostly” – April 4, 2006.
BOOK of the day: Zombie Thatcher by Bronwen Winter Phoenix (Author), Al Terry (Illustrator):
MARGARET Thatcher refuses to jump. In 1995, Swedish host Stina Lundberg Dabrowski asked Maggie to jump. Margaret Thatcher said no.
Nick Clegg, David Cameron and Ed Miliband all reply in one voice: “How high do you want us? And when can we come down?”
I must confess, I nearly had kittens when I first saw this. I’ve looked carefully into this and spoken to Alex, and I believe him when he says that he was angrily trying to take a camera off his girlfriend who was annoyingly taking pictures of him in the pub imitating a pot plant. These things happen – I should know! The fact that this is supported by the people who were with him that night suggests that he has been very unfairly treated.
That’s something very apt about UKIP’s affinity with pot plants. They’re the things people get given as house warming gifts and let die in a stuffy room. They fill a space until you can find something better to go there.
Wonder what kind of pot plant it was Mr Wood was apparently trying to imitate? Do you think it was a foreign or domestic type..?
POLITICIANS love hanging around with pop stars don’t they? It gives them the chance to feel vaguely important and they hope that a little cred will rub off on them so they can impress their bosses or voters.
Well, one United Nations dignitary was left trying to prise his foot from his mouth after he tweeted a picture of himself with U2 frontman, Bono (Mr G8). Oh wait. It wasn’t Bono. It was a man dressed up like Bono.
DAVID Cameron called UKIP “fruitcakes, loonies and closet racists”. In another age, he might have called them prospective voters. As the local elections loom, sections of the press are focusing on UKIP. The coerage is not always fair. They are looking beyond UKIP leader Nigel Farage, the head-shaking politician whose incredulity at life is evidenced in his way of speaking in lists, a man who could describe cup of coffee as “It’s brown, it’s foreign, it’s bad for you and it has no place on British life.”
Let’s see what the press has come up with so far:
UKIP candidate Alex Wood
HOW popular in George W Bush?
Harry Enten says he isn’t:
Back in 2010, Gallup asked Americans what their retrospective approval rating was for Presidents John F Kennedy through George W Bush. In every instance except for one, the retrospective approval was higher than the final approval was when they left office. Most Republicans, for instance, love to make fun of Jimmy Carter. Carter was the only president of the 20th century to lose re-election after replacing a president of a different party. He left office with a 34% job approval rating. His retrospective job approval rating in the 2010 Gallup poll jumped by 18pt.
Second, Bush’s retrospective approval is the second worst among presidents in the last 50 years ago. To save you doing the math, Carter’s 52% approval rating is higher than Bush’s 47%. Only the Watergate-tainted Richard Nixon recorded a lower retrospective approval than Bush.
Michael Baron has a different view:
“Perhaps Bush’s name is not mud anymore. A Washington Post/ABC poll asked respondents to rate Bush’s performance for the first time since December 2008, when only 33 percent rated it positively and 66 percent rated it negatively. What the pollster found is that today 47 percent approve and 50 percent disapprove of Bush’s performance. That approval number is precisely the same as President Obama’s in the most recent Post/ABC poll.”
The less he does the more they like him.
NOW that Margaret Thatcher has died and the funeral is over, what will you do to keep her memory alive? Peter Jones has a solutions. The smart shop for household items has for £185 a Bronte Margaret Thatcher Extinguisher*.
This exquisite hand-made and hand-painted fine bone china figurine is of Mrs Thatcher depicted at the start of her parliamentary career on the evening in 1959 when she successfully contested the Finchley seat. Comes with a limited edition certificate personally signed by Margaret Thatcher. Limited Edition 300 Height 4″.
YOU have to be hard-nosed to survive in politics and Toronto’s mayor – Rob Ford – found this out the hard, literal way as he walked at full tilt into a TV camera.
Ford was rushing out of a committee meeting at Ontario’s City Hall when he walked briskly into the snout of a large camera.
TO New Zealand for some a capella singing. The Marriage (Definition of Marriage) Amendment Bill – Third Reading – Part 20 has been passed. A Maori love song fills the air:
HOW many people lined to route to see Margaret Thatcher’s funeral?
More than 250,000 lined the streets of London, clapping and cheering as her coffin processed through London – Daily Mail
…estimates put the number of people on the streets at 100,000 – Daily Telegraph
Margaret Thatcher funeral attended by ‘Essex Man’ – BBC
MARGARET Thatcher’s funeral was a made-for-media event. The mountain of puff and guff that paved its way were hard to ignore. We did as nation meet Thatcheration point. Now she is gone, we can move on.
COMPARE and contrast the deaths of Princess Diana and Margaret Thatcher, as told by Alastair Campbell, Tony’s Blair’s older spin doctor. He writes on his blog:
…Cameron decided to…tear up his own travel plans, and head back to London effectively to demand a recall of Parliament…
So we are left with the question – why? What was so urgent that these tributes could not wait until Parliament was back? And it is hard to escape the conclusion that as a politician, not as a national leader, Mr Cameron and his team saw some advantage. Perhaps, as has been suggested to me by a civil servant, he was worried that the many Thatcher worshippers on the Murdoch papers, the Mail, the Telegraph and the Express would turn their ire further upon him if he did not bow down in worship with them. Perhaps he felt some potential benefit in associating himself closely with a strong leader who, in death, was likely to have greater focus on achievements than failings. Perhaps he felt that this association would help him with his right wing which fears he is not a strong leader, and that his brand of Conservatism is shipping support to UKIP. Perhaps he thinks her presence back at the heart of national debate will help him with the difficult decisions ahead, on welfare for example.
Some of his readers write in response:
Cameron is doing what he always does, i.e. making it up as he goes along and not missing an opportunity to bathe in what he probably sees as reflected glory. He’s an opportunistic media savvy, snake oil salesman.
Yep, you’re right. This is a seedy attempt by the Conservatives to promote themselves…
Readers may well recall the words of Campbell’s boss Tony Blair when Diana’s died:
“I feel like everyone else in this country today, utterly devastated. She was the people’s princess, and that’s how she will stay, how she will remain, in our hearts and in our memories forever.”
Campbell wrote in his Diaries:
Such are the facts.
Photo 1:Britain’s Prime Minister David Cameron delivers a reading next to the coffin of former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher during her funeral service in St. Paul’s Cathedral in London, Wednesday, April 17, 2013. Margaret Thatcher, Britain’s Iron Lady, was laid to rest Wednesday with a level of pomp and protest reflecting her status as a commanding, polarizing political figure.