04/27/15

Media’s Ongoing Attempts to Downplay VA Scandal

By: Roger Aronoff
Accuracy in Media

While some in the media have demonstrated they are willing to challenge the narrative emerging from the Obama administration that downplays ongoing abuses by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), others on the far left such as MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow have cast the administration’s chronic disservice to ailing veterans as a vast right-wing targeting conspiracy. VA Secretary Bob McDonald recently aided Maddow’s agenda by claiming during his appearance on her show that the VA was becoming “transparent” and desires “sunshine.”

“It’s hunting season at the VA,” VA Secretary Bob McDonald told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review on April 24, announcing a special medical advisory group to fix the VA’s problems. “Nobody wants to talk about the good things. We’re the largest medical system in the country, so when something goes wrong, it becomes news.”

More than a few “somethings” are going wrong at the VA if the ongoing scandals in Philadelphia, Los Angeles, Denver, Phoenix and Tomah, Wisconsin are any indication. Yet, as I noted in a previous column, when President Obama recently traveled to Phoenix, Arizona he asserted that “there were deficits with the way the VA is being run” but then called this a “case of bad apples and systems run awry.”

Secretary McDonald has presented similar talking points to the media, and some, such as Maddow, seem to be buying this narrative.

In reality, the VA scandal represents an insidious form of government corruption and mismanagement which will not cease until those responsible are held accountable. But accountability is the one thing lacking in Obama’s Washington largely due to a complicit media. They fail to hold President Obama accountable for government corruption and malfeasance by blaming low-level civil servants or ignoring ongoing scandals entirely.

The New York Times deserves credit for a recent story outlining the lack of accountability in the continuing VA crisis. However, it relegated this breaking and relevant news to page A16.

Secretary McDonald, who replaced disgraced former VA Secretary Eric Shinseki, told NBC’s Meet the Press in February that “the department had fired 60 people involved in manipulating wait times to make it appear that veterans were receiving care faster than they were,” reports Dave Phillips for the Times. Then the VA clarified that “only 14 people had been removed from their jobs, while about 60 others had received lesser punishments,” he writes.

“Now, new internal documents show that the real number of people removed from their jobs is much smaller still: at most, three,” writes Phillips. Sharon Helman, “the only person fired” was “removed not for her role in the manipulation of waiting lists but for receiving ‘inappropriate gifts,’” continues Phillips.

In the meantime, VA employees feel empowered to retaliate against whistleblowers within the VA, likely because of these weak accountability measures.

“Once you talk to the media, you are on your own…The VA does not support you, and you are not representing the organization,” declared a Denver, Colorado VA Medical Center Director, as I pointed out in March. She continued, “The only thing you are representing is yourself, and then, once you are in hot water, nobody will help you.”

CNN also reported in March that a Los Angeles, California VA representative, Dr. Sky MacDougall, actually lied to Congress about wait times at the Greater Los Angeles Medical Center, and that Congress was investigating this incident based on their CNN report.

VA crises are spreading throughout the country like a wildfire. On March 30 Congressional members traveled to Tomah to hold a joint field hearing to discuss a death resulting from the over-medication of one patient, the over-prescription of drugs to other patients, and the neglect of an older veteran who came in and suffered from a stroke while waiting for care at the Tomah VA. The older veteran, Thomas Baer, died from complications due to a stroke after delays at the VA Urgent Care center, an unavailable CT machine, no helicopter, and after being driven by ambulance to a new facility long after the initial onset of his symptoms.

One of the witnesses, Ryan Honl, a combat veteran who suffers from PTSD, was a whistleblower at the Tomah VA Medical Center. Honl testified about how his electronic medical file was accessed by multiple persons at the VA. “However, as soon as I blew the whistle, I started hearing about my instability from other employees,” he writes in his official testimony. “In an interview with the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, [Dr. David Houlihan’s] attorney alluded to my mental health status,” he states. “Shortly after while VA investigators were in the Tomah VA, Police Chief Huffman directed that a police report be done on me by my former supervisor…and two coworkers…four months after I resigned over a supposed ‘threatening incident’ that took place while I was an employee before I resigned.”

“Clearly, my mental health diagnoses are being used by those I reported in order to discredit me,” he writes.

Special Counsel Carolyn Lerner told Congress earlier this month that “The number of new whistleblower cases from VA employees remains overwhelming,” according to Joe Davidson of The Washington Post. In fact, Davidson reports that her testimony revealed that “whistleblower cases reviewed by her office are almost 150 percent higher than historical levels. Nearly 40 percent of her office’s incoming cases are from VA, although her office takes cases from across the government.”

If VA whistleblower cases are up 150 percent when compared to “historical levels,” why aren’t the media questioning President Obama’s leadership on this issue?

“Monday’s session demonstrated that VA’s entrenched culture of retaliation against whistleblowers endures, a year after revelations exploded over poor service and the covering up of long patient wait times,” writes Davidson.

Then he defends Secretary McDonald, writing, “The retaliation continues despite the solid efforts of the current VA secretary, who replaced one driven out by the scandal.”

Accountability and professional standards are set by those at the very top. Secretary McDonald was confirmed last July, yet it appears that little change has happened at the VA under his leadership, nor that of his boss, President Obama.

In previous articles covering the ongoing VA scandal I pointed to the media’s reluctance, if not outright refusal, to implicate the Obama administration for its role in facilitating the ongoing corruption at the VA.

But in some far-left circles this has been taken to the furthest possible conclusion, that the scandal is about to be exploited by the “right wing” for its own purposes.

MSNBC’s Maddow recently minimized the poor treatment received by veterans at the VA, warned that the right wing would soon push to privatize the VA, and gave Secretary McDonald a platform to claim that the administration was actually being “transparent” on this issue.

“One of the reasons I want you to be here tonight, Mr. Secretary [Robert McDonald], is because I do feel like VA is about to have political challenges that it has not faced in at least a generation, if not more, and veterans groups have been able to hold off some of those challenges in the past,” said Maddow on her April 15 show. “…I’m not sure that VA has the political backup right now to fight those battles. And honestly, I’m here partly because I want to sort of raise the flag that this is coming.”

The graphic on the MSNBC broadcast read, “V.A. Secretary on Right-Wing Efforts to Privatize VA.”

Secretary McDonald responded to her by emphasizing the VA’s alleged transparency and desire for “sunshine.” He said:

“That’s why we’re here. We want to get out. We want to be transparent. We now publish our data every two weeks online. Sunshine is a great, transparency is a great benefit to us. We’re gonna do our share. We’re gonna improve the results of the VA. We’re working very hard to do that, and hopefully veterans will be happy with the care we provide them. It’s the most exciting mission that we could possibly have.”

Both participants in this highly disingenuous interchange may have wished to assure the public about the VA’s integrity, but the growing news about corruption at the VA, prompted in part by Congressional hearings held by Rep. Jeff Miller’s (R-FL) House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, makes it less and likely that the public can be fooled by such false assurances.

Veterans actually served by the VA certainly aren’t being fooled, and a number of them have contacted me after reading my articles on this continuing scandal to say that things are bad, and in some cases even worse than I described.

As is true for most MSNBC shows, Maddow’s presentation of this scandal was highly misleading as well. Veterans groups are now actively asking for change themselves. For example, the price tag for the VA Medical Center in Denver, Colorado has ballooned from $328 million to $1.73 billion. As a result, “The American Legion in Colorado held a protest last year in which members held up ‘JUST BUILD THE DAMN THING’ signs and carried shovels, symbolically ready to build it themselves,” reported The Washington Post’s Emily Wax-Thibodeaux in March.

There is no doubt that the VA is a behemoth of a bureaucracy, and McDonald seems like a sincere and capable manager. But regrettably he also seems to have been captured by the Obama administration’s culture of deceit, of punishing whistleblowers, and of failing to hold people accountable. Hopefully, for the sake of America’s veterans, of which he is one, that culture will change, and change fast. McDonald was caught exaggerating his service history earlier this year, which may have contributed to skepticism about whether he is the right man for this job.

Rachel Maddow’s transparent attempt to cast the VA scandal as the fabrication of right-wing political forces bent on destroying an embattled institution serves as a red herring designed to provide Secretary McDonald, and thereby this administration, with a platform to praise the past successes of this corrupt, mismanaged bureaucracy—at the expense of those veterans who have died or been neglected. But MSNBC and other complicit media aren’t interested in accountability, they’re interested in covering for the Obama administration.

04/24/15

The DNA Deniers in the Media

By: Cliff Kincaid
Accuracy in Media

The media have launched a major campaign on behalf of the “transgendered.” The Bruce Jenner ABC News interview is the most visible manifestation of this campaign. However, the NBC Nightly News on Wednesday ran a story by Kate Snow about the “transgender grandchild” of Democratic Rep. Mike Honda of Hawaii. Lacking in the coverage is any concrete definition of the term “transgendered” or any discussion of how children are now being used to promote an increasingly bizarre sexual agenda that requires physically mutilating or chemically treating very confused young people.

The Human Rights Campaign, a group co-founded by accused sex offender Terry Bean, a major Democratic Party fundraiser, quickly highlighted this latest NBC News report in a continuing series on “transgender youth.”

However, just like the terms lesbian, gay, and bisexual, the word “transgendered” applies to certain behaviors or appearances and does not signify anything scientific or biological about a person.

Regardless of what you may see or read in the media, nature has given humanity two sexes, male and female, which are defined by DNA. People can call themselves anything they want, but the biological facts of life cannot be denied.

This is why, when The Washington Post ran a recent story about a “transgendered” soldier who claims to be a man, the paper noted that the military regards “him” as a “her,” because biologically that is what he really is. You cannot change your DNA.

The point is that those claiming to be one of any number of categories of alleged sexual minorities can accurately be labeled DNA deniers if they deny their fundamental biological identity.

The liberals and their media allies always claim they are in favor of science on matters such as global warming or climate change. But strangely, on the matter of human sexuality, science is denied and people are allowed to make up “facts” about themselves, describing their sexuality in terms that happen to be pleasing to them for any reason at all. A new category is “questioning,” meaning that a person can decide, apparently from day to day, what sexual minority they belong to.

If someone feels he or she is a member of the opposite sex, then that is perfectly acceptable, according to the LGBT community and its supporters.

But facts are facts, and science is science. Even liberal publications have to admit this. “The simplest thing DNA can tell you is whether someone is male or female,” notes the Guardian.

But consider the NBC story. Snow referred to Rep. Honda as having “tweeted a photo of himself on Twitter back in February, grinning next to his beautiful 8-year-old granddaughter Malisa…” But Malisa is not a girl. Malisa is biologically a boy. He was born with the name Brody.

Snow reported that the parents “thought their second child would be a boy. But by the time their child was three, she had chosen a new name for herself—Malisa.” A child at the age of three decided to become a girl? Could it be that the child was going through a phase and living in a fantasy? It seems apparent that the child was born a boy and was going through some confusion about his sexual identity. The parents decided to encourage this confusion by allowing the child to now identify as a girl.

Rather than celebrate this bizarre development, the parents should be questioned about their child-rearing skills. What the child (and the parents) may need is serious psychological counseling.

Of course, the homosexuals and their supporters, most notably President Barack Obama, adamantly oppose any kind of change therapy to return troubled young people to their biologically-based sexual orientation.

Snow reported, “Although there are no exact numbers, Malisa joined what experts say is a growing number of children transitioning at a young age.” No exact numbers? Experts? Who are they? This is propaganda masquerading as journalism. It is designed to feed the notion that nature’s determination that humans are born male and female is a gross miscalculation, and that humans can decide whether they are male or female, or whatever.

What Snow is describing is sexual confusion brought on by a culture (and possibly parents) which has obscured the sexual differences between men and women. This is where the homosexual movement has brought our nation.

Snow reports, “The family knows they are just at the beginning of this journey with Malisa, and work closely with a team of doctors. As she approaches puberty, they’ll have to consider whether to use so called puberty blockers and hormone therapy.”

The “puberty blockers” will be designed to stop “Malisa” from being the boy “she” is. They will stop the growth of facial hair and an Adam’s apple. He may also have to undergo some form of sex change surgery or other medical treatment.

Rather than challenge this insidious campaign of making children into pawns of the sexual “liberation” movement, some conservative and Republican politicians on Capitol Hill are voting for measures to in some way “protect” or outlaw alleged “discrimination” against sexual minorities.

For example, ten Republican senators voted for a measure introduced by far left-wing Democratic Senator Patrick Leahy (VT) to protect alleged “LGBT homeless youth.” They were Senators Kelly Ayotte (NH), Shelley Moore Capito (WV), Susan Collins (ME), Dean Heller (NV), Mark Kirk (IL), Lisa Murkowski (AK), Rand Paul (KY), Rob Portman (OH), Dan Sullivan (AK) and Pat Toomey (PA).

The term “LGBT homeless youth” is designed to expand the reach of the federal government into yet another area of human activity, based on questionable surveys and experts.

The power of the propaganda emanating from the media has created the perception, even among these Republicans, that this is a major problem that the federal government must address.

Not surprisingly, the homosexual movement was ecstatic. Thanks to those 10 Republicans, the headline over the AP article was, “A Majority Of The Senate Is Voting For LGBT Rights.”

The DNA deniers are on the march, making serious inroads into the national Republican Party.

04/17/15

Judith Miller Opens Old Iraq War Wounds, and Sheds Some New Light

By: Roger Aronoff
Accuracy in Media

Judith Miller, formerly of The New York Times, has sparked a fierce reaction from a mainstream media intent on continuing to blame George W. Bush’s “lies” for the Iraq War with her new book, The Story: A Reporter’s Journey. The book has produced a general disgust from a media intent on ignoring important revelations she’s made in this book. Instead the mainstream media have chosen to focus on her alleged agenda-driven reporting leading up to the invasion of Iraq, while for the most part ignoring additional details about how weak the prosecution was against Lewis “Scooter” Libby.

Miller now says that not only was she wrong when she testified that Libby had outed CIA operations officer Valerie Plame to her, but that the federal prosecutor, Patrick J. Fitzgerald, was on a vendetta designed to implicate former Vice President Dick Cheney himself in the conspiracy to expose Plame, with Libby as a convenient victim sacrificed in pursuit of Fitzgerald’s agenda.

Ms. Miller’s testimony was vital to the trial. She was “the only reporter who asserted that Mr. Libby volunteered information about Mr. Wilson’s wife,” writes Peter Berkowitz of Stanford’s Hoover Institution, in a long piece for The Wall Street Journal, entitled “The False Evidence Against Scooter Libby.” Now she says her memory is unclear, and that Libby probably hadn’t “talked about Plame with me that day.”

Her testimony at the trial interpreted notes from a conversation years past. Not knowing that Plame had worked for the State Department, Miller interpreted those notes to support the premise that Libby had told her about Plame’s position at the CIA.

“If Libby, a seasoned bureaucrat, had been trying to plant her employer with me at our first meeting in June, he would not have used the word Bureau to describe where Plame worked,” writes Miller in The Story. That’s because, she writes, “The CIA is organized by offices within divisions” whereas the “State Department is divided into functional offices and regional and other ‘bureaus’…”

“Reading Plame’s book had put my reference to that word—in parentheses and with a question mark—in a new light,” she writes. “Libby probably hadn’t used it, or talked about Plame with me that day.”

“Had Fitzgerald’s questions about whether my use of the word Bureau meant the FBI steered me in the wrong direction?” she wonders in her book. “Had I helped convict an innocent man?”

Such an error would prove troubling for any reporter, and probably for anyone who might have accidentally testified falsely. It was courageous of Miller to acknowledge that she had been misled given her already controversial reputation.

Her after-the-fact explanation actually fits with contemporaneous accounts “She was confused about that at first, she said,” the Associated Press reported back in 2007. “‘Through the context of the discussion, I quickly determined it to be the CIA,’ she testified.”

Fitzgerald had a transparent agenda, according to her 2014 interview with Joe Tate, Libby’s lawyer until the criminal trial, writes Miller. Tate told her that Fitzgerald told him, “Unless you can deliver someone higher up—the vice president—I’m going forth with the indictment,” a bargain Fitzgerald offered him twice, according to Miller’s book.

Accuracy in Media (AIM) has reported extensively on the flaws in the way Libby’s prosecution was conducted. Yet years later ABC News was still including this “scandal” in its top ten political scandals of the 21st century, and reporting the facts from Plame’s and her husband, Joe Wilson’s biased perspectives. “It’s unfortunate that this story has to be re-litigated time and again,” I wrote in 2013.

The story of Libby’s trial will not be re-litigated again here, but my numerous accounts of the myths surrounding this story outline essential details on how this trial has become one of the most misreported stories in recent history.

Miller’s account validates AIM’s consistent reporting on the subject: “I wrote or co-wrote with Cliff Kincaid a series of articles during and after the Libby trial that showed he was wrongly accused, wrongly convicted, and that Bush did a disservice to Libby and his own legacy by not having the courage of his conviction to pardon Libby rather than just commute his sentence.”

“Indeed, the prosecution presented no hard evidence that Libby had lied,” I wrote. “Instead, the prosecution asked the jury to infer that Libby had (with no motive) lied, based simply on the jury’s experience of the accuracy of memory.”

And now Miller says her memory was likely not accurate at all.

Miller apparently discovered her error upon reading Plame’s book, Fair Game; Libby himself had suggested to her she might find “something of interest” in it.

According to her account in The Story, Miller has been treated very harshly by the Times, and considers herself a scapegoat for the Times’ and news media’s overall discontent with the war coverage. “Other news outlets had followed my lead,” she writes. “That made me Azazel, the biblical goat upon which the community heaped its many sins.”

“‘Judy’s stories about WMD,’ wrote the Times’ Maureen Dowd, ‘fit too closely with the White House’s case for war,’” I noted back in 2005. “That was the bottom line of the anger and venom, some of it very personal, aimed at Miller by the likes of Dowd and Frank Rich.” I also pointed out how Miller was far from being the only reporter, or editorial writer, at the Times to have written about Saddam’s possession and pursuit of WMD, some of which turned out to be wrong, but by no means all of it.

Recall that it was then-President Bill Clinton, who in 1998 signed the Iraq Liberation Act, making regime change official U.S. policy, and he ordered the sustained bombing of Baghdad in December of that year. As the bombs began to fall, Clinton told the nation, “Earlier today, I ordered America’s armed forces to strike military and security targets in Iraq. They are joined by British forces. Their mission is to attack Iraq’s nuclear, chemical and biological weapons programs and its military capacity to threaten its neighbors.”

The animosity between Miller and the Times remains palpable. “To Ms. Miller’s credit, this is not a score-settling book, although Bill Keller, the executive editor who she says forced her out of The Times, gets walked around the block naked a couple of times and competing reporters receive just-for-old-times’-sake elbows to their rib cages,” writes Terry McDermott for the Times.

“Cast out of the journalistic temple, she says she felt ‘stateless,’ and from the evidence here she remains a bit lost,” he writes in the book review—ending it with a pointed, unnecessary jab. “This sad and flawed book won’t help her be found.”

Similarly, Erik Wemple of The Washington Post calls the book “depressing,” “desperate,” and written with a “tedious grand design.” And while Wemple cites Libby early in his review for his criminal conviction, he never touches on the points made by Miller that pointed to his persecution by Fitzgerald and exoneration as it related to Miller.

“A two-year study by Charles Duelfer, the former deputy chief of the U.N. inspectors who led America’s hunt for WMD in Iraq, concluded that Saddam Hussein was playing a double game, trying…to get sanctions lifted and inspectors out of Iraq and…to persuade Iran and other foes that he had retained WMD,” wrote Miller for The Wall Street Journal in an op-ed published on April 3. “Often forgotten is Mr. Duelfer’s well-documented warning that Saddam intended to restore his WMD programs once sanctions were lifted.”

Miller’s account is the more accurate, if less politically correct, one, despite the media’s ongoing animosity toward any evidence or argument that may absolve Bush from the accusation that he lied—and misled us into the Iraq War.

“Neighboring Kuwait and Iran also thought Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction,” notes Berkowitz for Real Clear Politics. “So did some of Saddam’s field commanders.” So did the British government, the French, and many of the other countries in the coalition that went to war with us in Iraq. Last year, The New York Times, of all places, revealed in a major series of articles titled “The Secret Casualties of Iraq’s Abandoned Chemical Weapons,” that “American troops secretly reported finding roughly 5,000 chemical warheads, shells or aviation bombs” during the Iraq War, but the Bush administration chose to keep it quiet. Clearly, the stockpiles of WMD that they expected to find once Iraq was liberated from Saddam Hussein were not found. The debate over that issue, and the significance of the Times’ findings, continues. But it is wrong to argue that no WMD were found in Iraq.

Berkowitz, in his Wall Street Journal analysis, took a deeper look at the actions of Fitzgerald’s prosecution of Libby, and it wasn’t pretty: “Mr. Fitzgerald’s conduct warrants revisiting not only to set the record straight about Mr. Libby, but also to illustrate the damage that can be done to national security by a special counsel who, discovering no crime, generates through his investigations the alleged offenses he seeks to prosecute.”

And this, which detailed how Fitzgerald withheld exculpatory evidence from Libby’s lawyers that could have absolutely made a difference in the final outcome of the trial: “Mr. Fitzgerald, who had the classified file of Ms. Plame’s service, withheld her State Department cover from Ms. Miller—and from Mr. Libby’s lawyers, who had requested Ms. Plame’s employment history,” wrote Berkowitz. “Despite his constitutional and ethical obligation to provide exculpatory evidence, Mr. Fitzgerald encouraged Ms. Miller to misinterpret her ambiguous notes as showing that Mr. Libby brought up Ms. Plame.”

Berkowitz also made the most salient point regarding this whole prosecution. The idea, when the investigation began in late summer of 2003, was to find out who leaked Valerie Plame’s name and identity to reporters, specifically to Robert Novak, who first reported it in a July 2003 column. By October, the FBI knew where the leak came from. It was Richard Armitage, from the State Department, who unlike some at the White House was opposed to going to war against Saddam. But that was kept quiet, and when Fitzgerald was appointed special prosecutor in December of that year, the case should have been closed. But Fitzgerald chose to seek a conviction against Libby by arguing that he was lying, rather than that his memory was confused when he spoke months later following his July 2003 conversation with Meet the Press host Tim Russert. Libby’s team wanted to have memory experts testify, but Fitzgerald refused to allow it, allowing him to stack the deck by manipulating witnesses.

Miller now makes clear that Libby did not tell her about Valerie Plame.

I sat through parts of the trial, including the day that Evan Thomas of Newsweek, David Sanger of The New York Times, Bob Woodward, Walter Pincus and Glenn Kessler of The Washington Post, and Robert Novak testifiedall of whom spoke with Libby during the period in which he was supposedly outing Plameand each one said that didn’t happen in their conversation.

The idea that neither The New York Times nor The Washington Post, nor others in the media, regularly and deliberately push an agenda when the facts are limited, only available from the administration’s perspective, or conveniently fit preconceived narratives about reality is laughable. Accuracy in Media exists to document many such cases, including: the coverage of the Ferguson, Missouri shooting; the Rolling Stone article “A Rape on Campus;” Obamacare, and illegal immigration. Meanwhile, stories about Benghazi, Fast & Furious, and the IRS scandal, among others, are largely ignored by the mainstream media because they don’t fit the established progressive agenda and might damage the current administration.

In the end, this is one of those books that each party takes from it that which conveniently suits their own narrative. And by doing so, many in the media are ignoring the important revelations to be found in Miller’s new book, The Story: A Reporter’s Journey.

03/20/15

The Ferguson Hoax and Media Truth-telling

By: Cliff Kincaid
Accuracy in Media

You know the standards of the media have hit rock bottom when a liberal commentator makes news for telling the truth. Jonathan Capehart of The Washington Post and MSNBC has become a media star for his belated recognition of the “Hands up, don’t shoot” lie out of Ferguson, Missouri. Better late than never, except for the fact that this liberal narrative was always in dispute. There was never any legitimate reason to believe that Police Officer Darren Wilson had simply fired on Michael Brown for no reason.

The appropriate reaction to Capehart’s Damascus Road conversion to the truth should be: What took you so long? And what will you do to make sure you never fall for such a vicious lie again?

Don Irvine, the chairman of Accuracy in Media, notes in his blog on the AIM website that Capehart admitted the narrative was wrong after the Department of Justice found Wilson’s side of the story to be true. Capehart said, “What DOJ found made me ill.” Irvine commented, “I would be ill too if I had helped push a false narrative that gave fuel to the riots in Ferguson that have cost businesses and taxpayers millions of dollars, and ruined the career of Officer Wilson.”

The people who should be ill are those who depend on Capehart and others like him for the truth.  Capehart is just trying to recover some of the credibility he never had in the first place.

Those of us who don’t take Capehart and his ilk seriously as arbiters of truth are watching this celebration of his one-time truth-telling as an example of how, for much of the media, lies and distortions are the standard fare. Otherwise, why would telling the truth be so controversial?

But this case is much more than a few liberal commentators like Capehart taking the side of dishonesty and then waking up, months later, to what actually happened.

Colin Flaherty, an award winning reporter and author of Don’t Make the Black Kids Angry: The hoax of black victimization and those who enable it, says that what happened in Ferguson was a carefully orchestrated hoax. He notes how in an amazing turnabout, the false claims about an unprovoked murder of a young black man became complaints about too many traffic tickets for black people.

“We now know the Ferguson riots were all about racist traffic tickets and not the relentless white racism and violence that killed yet another black person,” Flaherty notes. “The greatest bait and switch of our generation and few reporters even seemed to notice. Why would they? They are used to it by now.

“First they told us about ‘hands up, don’t shoot.’ When that turned out to be a lie, they told us about the Gentle Giant. It continued for months, one lie after another, each discarded, replaced and sometimes recycled.” Flaherty reminds us of several of the lies. We were told that Michael Brown was shot in the back, that he was minding his own business, and trying to surrender.

Flaherty adds, “The racial grievance industry and their beards in the press put on and took off each lie like a cheap suit. Cute kids made viral videos with the ‘hands up don’t shoot’ pose, and reminded white people of their relentless racism. Members of Congress followed from the floor of the House.

“The President talked about racists in Ferguson at the United Nations. The parents of Michael Brown were honored guests at the gala dinner of the Congressional Black Caucus. The President greeted them from the podium during his keynote speech to extended applause. Then he talked about Ferguson racism.

“The Attorney General traveled to Ferguson and made [a] ‘personal promise’ that he would stand with the people of Ferguson. As long as those people were not cops.”

Flaherty goes on, “Entire cable networks repeated the lie day after day, guest after guest, promo after promo. Death. Murder. White racism. How could we not see it? Were we so blind, so immersed in white privilege, like a fish unaware of the water?”

It turned out, according to the DOJ, that Ferguson was all about traffic tickets. “Funny: At the time, no one mentioned the traffic tickets that now stand with the firehoses and police dogs of Selma as icons of racist oppression,” Flaherty notes.

The facts were such that the Attorney General had to grudgingly admit what many others had been saying from day one. “The facts of the death and the fairy tale that followed were all concocted, spoon fed to a willing press corps that did nothing but ask for more,” he points out.

Then, suddenly, in another diversion from the essential truth of what happened, the media picked up on another narrative—that blacks were the victims of too many traffic tickets. “The day after the Attorney General’s confession, the manufactured outrage of Chris Cuomo of CNN was on full display as he and the Brown family attorney railed against the injustice of too many traffic tickets,” commented Flaherty.

The media moved on to another issue, without bothering to emphasize how wrong they had been in the months before. This is the performance of a media that promotes and even prefers lies over the truth. The lies, after all, gin up racial controversy and ratings.

Flaherty asks: what about the CNN anchors who were holding the “Hands up, don’t shoot” signs on the air?

That’s a good question indeed. These included what we called a prominent example of the “fake conservatives” in the media, such as when Margaret Hoover joined her fellow CNN panelists in a “Hands up, don’t shoot” display based on the fiction that Brown was surrendering to the police when he was shot.

Hoover has written a book titled, American Individualism: How a New Generation of Conservatives Can Save the Republican Party. This self-described conservative thinks she has the answer to saving the Republican Party. She engaged in that display despite the fact that she said the narrative had been discredited because of witness testimony from the grand jury.

So Hoover engages in something she knows to be untrue, simply because it is the fashionable thing to do. What does this say about her ethical standards? “As a reform Republican, who works for the GOP to broaden its base and reach new constituencies, I see no contradiction between supporting law enforcement and the policy solutions highlighted by these protesters,” Hoover says.

The “protesters” were not highlighting “policy solutions,” but a deadly and false narrative about alleged police violence. She could have told the truth. Instead, she participated on the air in a display of a false narrative.

Why doesn’t she have the decency to apologize? Why doesn’t CNN apologize?

Flaherty also wonders why, after the hoax was exposed, we didn’t hear one apology from the media. It’s because our media have no standards of ethical behavior and conduct. Instead, the media went on with their business, acting as if traffic tickets “justified all the rioting, vandalism, fire-bombing, looting, assaulting, attacks on police, gunfire and other mayhem in and out of Ferguson.”

The praise for Capehart for eventually telling the truth may be one way the media can attempt to atone for their sins in this coverage. But it’s not good enough.

03/11/15

Hillary’s Emailgate Explained

By: Bethany Stotts
Accuracy in Media

Exclusive to Accuracy in Media.

Clinton’s 2016 presidential chances undoubtedly have been harmed by the revelation that she exclusively used a private email address while serving as Secretary of State. But while the media remain mired in calculations about whether Mrs. Clinton can survive this latest crisis, and who the villains are in this unfolding story, additional questions call out for answers.

Mrs. Clinton made many claims at her press conference on Tuesday. The media shouldn’t simply regurgitate them wholesale, as the AP has done, but rather they should approach them with due skepticism.

“Well, the system we used was set up for President Clinton’s office, and it had numerous safeguards,” said Mrs. Clinton. “It was on property guarded by the Secret Service and there were no security breaches. So, I think that the use of that server, which started with my husband, certainly proved to be effective and secure.”

In contrast, Philip Bump reports for The Washington Post that the domain, clintonemail.com, was established “the same day that Clinton’s confirmation hearings began before the Senate.” That is suspicious timing for a system allegedly set up to support her husband’s office.

The professional assessment by security experts quoted in the media seems to be that Mrs. Clinton’s private email was vulnerable to hacking. “The system could have previously been hardened against attack, and left to get weedy and vulnerable after she left government,” writes Sam Biddle for Gawker. “We don’t know. … With Clinton’s off-the-books scheme, there are only questions.”

“We can only go by what Clinton says,” reports USA Today.

Mrs. Clinton told the press that she had set up the account for both private and work-related emails to avoid the inconvenience of having to set up two phones and two separate accounts, but that, in retrospect, she should have thought better about it. She offered few answers about the actual details of her server, and avoided questions about whether she would subject it to independent analysis, asserting that she had done her full duty by turning over 30,490 vetted emails to the State Department.

There were about 60,000 emails in total, she said—but after the private vetting process, controlled by her and her advisors, she has since deleted the private ones. “At the end I chose not to keep my private personal emails—emails about planning Chelsea’s wedding, or my mother’s funeral arrangements, condolence notes to friends, as well as yoga routines, family vacations—the other things you typically find in inboxes,” she said. Yet the Select Committee on Benghazi’s Chair Trey Gowdy indicated that no emails have been turned over to Congress covering the duration of her 2011 trip to Libya.

Mrs. Clinton apparently expects the media to swallow whole the argument that all her emails on that trip regarded personal affairs.

What can be established at this juncture is depressingly disturbing for national security.

“…security experts consulted by Gawker have laid out a litany of potential threats that may have exposed [Mrs. Clinton’s] email conversations to potential interception by hackers and foreign intelligence agencies,” writes Biddle. This, despite Mrs. Clinton’s assertion that there were no breaches.

Problems identified by Biddle’s sources include that the URL log-in was accessible by anyone in the world, and could have been linked to an “administrative console interface to the Windows machine or a backup,” allowing the possibility that Mrs. Clinton’s emails could have been copied in their entirety by hackers. And, as of March, reports Biddle, “the server at sslvpn has an invalid SSL certificate.” Without a valid SSL certificate there is no third-party indicating that the key is still good, and not hacked.

“An exact physical address could not be determined” for the server, but Internet records indicate that it’s in Chappaqua, New York, reported Bloomberg News.

The server, as of March 4, was on “factory default for the security appliance” when it could have been “replaced by a unique certificate purchased for a few hundred dollars,” making it vulnerable to hacking, it reports.

But, the paper hedges, “While Clinton didn’t have a classified e-mail system, she had multiple ways of communicating in a classified manner, including assistants printing documents for her, secure phone calls and secure video conferences.”

Similarly, Mrs. Clinton asserted at the press conference that she never sent classified information through her private email.

It is not necessary to reveal classified information directly to jeopardize national security or the international diplomatic process. As Thomas Patrick Carroll, formerly of the Central Intelligence Agency’s Directorate of Operations, explained in 2001 for the International Journal of Intelligence and Counterintelligence, “classification usually has relatively little to do with the information itself, but a lot to do with the protection of sources and methods.” His given example was how a foreign minister’s personal assistant might have a private conversation with that minister and obtain “the minister’s private observations on the matter,” later relaying this to U.S. intelligence for their exploitation. These types of inside observations prove invaluable for all foreign intelligence services.

If Mrs. Clinton’s email was hacked, then foreign governments such as Iran, China, Russia, and others, might have gained access to her private internal musings about diplomatic talks as she worked out the details with her staff—an intelligence treasure trove.

One must also ask, if Mrs. Clinton refused to set up a government email, how high was that refusal relayed? If it wasn’t relayed to the very top by security specialists, then why not?

Mrs. Clinton was sworn in on January 21, 2009. A couple months after she took office, in March of 2009, the University of Toronto and TheSecDevGroup issued their report on Ghostnet, a cyberespionage network established by an unknown party to mine data from the Tibetans. They found “real-time evidence of malware that had penetrated Tibetan computer systems” which was connected to a large network of 1,295 infected computers in 103 countries—almost 30 percent of which were high-value targets such as ministries of foreign affairs.

The authors of the report found “that GhostNet is capable of taking full control of infected computers, including searching and downloading specific files, and covertly operating attached devices, including microphones and web cameras,” and was sent through “contextually relevant emails” that look like real emails.

Granted, the mechanism of action for Ghostnet would not have been the same as that which could have compromised the server that Mrs. Clinton was using. But few can claim ignorance about the degree of threat posed by the use of insecure systems at the time.

The Ghostnet network compromised computers at the “ministries of foreign affairs of Iran, Bangladesh, Latvia, Indonesia, Philippines, Brunei, Barbados and Bhutan; embassies of India, South Korea, Indonesia, Romania, Cyprus, Malta, Thailand, Taiwan, Portugal, Germany and Pakistan.”

Even if the Obama administration’s appointees lacked the know-how to anticipate cyber threats when they took office, they were undoubtedly immediately educated about the dangers by the government’s more knowledgeable members. Bob Gates, the former Director of Central Intelligence, and later Defense Secretary under Obama, commented in his 2014 book, Duty, that “A number of the new appointees, both senior and junior, seemed to lack an awareness of the world they had just entered.” He noticed that “fully half” of those in the Situation Room had their “cell phones turned on during the meeting, potentially broadcasting everything that was said to foreign intelligence electronic eavesdroppers” and he ensured that such behavior stopped.

The Ghostnet story made page A1 of the New York Times in March 2009. Can this administration really claim innocence about the security threats posed by an insecure, private email server when Clinton served as Secretary of State? How much did President Obama know, and when?

It now appears that the Obama administration received questions from Gawker’s John Cook about the ramifications of Clinton’s private email use back in 2013. The Obama administration has likely spent at least those two years—if not much longer—covering for Mrs. Clinton. Her press conference to explain her exclusive use of private email fails to satisfy, and the press should continue demanding answers until this presidential hopeful provides some real ones.

02/13/15

Media’s Lack of Curiosity About Killer of Muslims in North Carolina

By: Roger Aronoff
Accuracy in Media

Was the brutal murder of three Muslims in North Carolina this week a case of “random violence,” or were the three targeted because of their Muslim faith? And why, of all the murders committed across the country this week, did these three grab so much national media attention? The FBI has now joined the investigation.

Perhaps the lessons learned from Jared Lee Loughner’s shooting of former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords in Arizona in January of 2011 could inform the answers to these questions, and serve as a reminder of the dangers of biased reporting on murder cases. But, unfortunately, the mainstream media continue to perpetuate a confusing double standard when it comes to reporting on the deaths of innocents.

Why, for example, did the deaths of three Muslims in Chapel Hill, North Carolina gain traction at The Washington Post, Reuters, and many other media outlets which speculated that it was a possible hate crime, while this black teen murdering a white classmate and taking a selfie with the corpse didn’t receive anywhere near the same treatment? And what about the murders occurring in Chicago every day? Don’t those deserve headlines, and candlelight vigils too?

“However, I do think it’s fair to say that attributing political motives to individual killings is much more of a phenomenon on the left than on the right,” argues Mark Hemingway for The Weekly Standard in a column regarding the recent execution-style shootings of Deah Barakat, Yusor Mohammad Abu-Salha, and her sister Razan Mohammad Abu-Salha.

The alleged shooter, Craig Stephen Hicks, liked the “Huffington Post, Rachel Maddow, the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), Freedom from Religion Foundation, Bill Nye ‘The Science Guy,’ Neil deGrasse Tyson, Gay Marriage groups and similar progressive pages” on Facebook, notes Hemingway. Maddow didn’t mention any of that on her show when talking about the incident.

Hicks displayed a habit of posting snarky pictures with slogans like, “Democrats aren’t perfect but at least they haven’t been shoving poor Jesus up my c—ch and Ronald Reagan down my throat.” Another picture he promoted reads, “So Rick Santorum thinks that when people get educated they stop believing in God? Best advertisement for Atheism I’ve ever heard.”

And Hicks commented on Ground Zero: “Seems an overwhelming majority of Christians in this country feel that the Muslims are using the Ground Zero Mosque plans to’mark their conquest’ [sic] Bunch of hypocrites, everywhere I’ve been in this country there are churches marking the Christian conquest of this country from the Native Americans. Funny thing is the Christians did that while defying our Constitution, and got away with it!!”

“It was logical for some people to hear about the shootings and wonder if recent news involving the Islamic State—including the deaths of a Jordanian pilot and an American hostage—could lead to some sort of reprisal against Muslims, said Mark Potok of the Southern Poverty Law Center,” reported the Post regarding the three deaths on February 11.

In 2011 the SPLC’s Richard Cohen blamed the shooting of Rep. Giffords on Sarah Palin’s political rhetoric, citing the work of staffer Potok. The Discovery Channel plans to air a documentary, “Hate in America,” this month with the SPLC as a partner helping “examine the current realities of intolerance in America.”

The SPLC runs a hate crimes racket, and the media—desperate to promote headlines that fit their pre-existing left-wing narratives about race, inequality and religion—are quick to swallow their propaganda.

“I think it’s perfectly natural to guess that this is anti-Islamic,” Potok told the Post in the interview regarding the triple murder. “Not just because the three victims are Muslim, but because there has been so much terrible news in recent days about extremist Muslims.” Potok also appeared on MSNBC on the morning of February 13 with the news anchor Tamron Hall, and there was no mention of Hicks’ political leanings, which appear to be consistent with their own.

It is ironic that Hicks, himself, may have, at least in part, allowed the SPLC to fuel his own brand of hate—if it was hate, and not a longtime dispute over parking—that caused Hicks to allegedly kill three innocent people.

“We don’t have proof yet that this was political, but the odds are that it was…But violent acts are what happen when you create a climate of hate. And it’s long past time for the GOP’s leaders to take a stand against the hate-mongers,” wrote Paul Krugman of The New York Times after the Loughner shooting.

“Keith Olbermann had a special edition of his ‘Countdown’ show on MSNBC the night of the shooting, in which he had a series of guests on who all specu­lated that Loughner was influenced by ‘right-wing extremists’ and that the Right was far more guilty of violent and hateful speech than the Left, creating a climate conducive for this sort of action,” I reported back in 2011.

Have the media learned from their past attempts to politicize violent shootings, or does the marked omission of similar rhetoric regarding the Hicks case simply indicate that the mainstream media hope that the progressive ideology of this alleged killer will not actually be used against them?

If Hicks was a champion of liberal causes such as gay rights and abortion, and one’s ideological background has any bearing on the decision to brutally murder someone, then why isn’t the media likewise exploring in depth Hicks’ motivations—his likes, dislikes, ideology, inspiration, etc.—as they did when they erroneously blamed the right for Loughner’s shooting of Giffords? Instead, the Post published a story on the “particular tensions between Islam and atheism” which allowed atheist groups to denounce and separate themselves from the killer. If Hicks had any deeper motivation rooted in progressivism, you wouldn’t find it there.

On February 11 The Washington Post authors quoted from the SPLC, then linked to Hicks’ Facebook page, and failed to inform their readers of Hicks’ admiration for this group.

And the motivation of the attack remains in dispute, despite the hate crime allegations. “This was not a dispute over a parking space; this was a hate crime,” said the victims’ father Mohammed Abu-Salha. His evidence: “This man had picked on my daughter and her husband a couple of times before, and he talked with them with his gun in his belt.”

More recent news reporting by the Associated Press indicates that when Hicks “talked with them with his gun in his belt,” as the father described, it was likely during a dispute over a visitor’s parking space. According to the AP, a resident of that condo “said Hicks complained about once a month that the two men were parking in a visitor’s space as well as their assigned spot.”

It continued: “He would come over to the door, knock on the door and then have a gun on his hip saying ‘you guys need to not park here,’ said Ahmad, a graduate student in chemistry at UNC-Chapel Hill. ‘He did it again after they got married.’”

The victims in the most recent case appear to be the type of Muslims whom many in America would embrace as fellow patriots, rather than as radical fundamentalists who prompt what some term “Islamophobia.” The murdered couple was active in charity efforts. “Barakat had recently posted about providing free dental supplies and food to dozens of homeless people in Durham, something he had done twice in recent months, buying toothpaste, brushes, floss and mouthwash that he put into individual bags for each homeless person,” reported the Post. And his wife had traveled to the Turkish border last year, not to join the Islamic State but to “deliver dental supplies to a Turkish town…”

But then again, Barakat and his wife met while helping to run North Carolina State’s Muslim Student Association (MSA) chapter. Perhaps they weren’t aware of the origins of that organization. The MSA is a Muslim Brotherhood front group, and the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) is the group that spawned al Qaeda and Hamas. President Obama has embraced the MB at home and abroad, and this is a subject that the media should thoroughly explore, while there is still a chance to diminish their influence. Unfortunately, very few in our media are willing to investigate the MB—or even acknowledge their influence—instead they treat them like some benign, charitable group such as the Kiwanis International.

While it would be convenient for the media, and its allies on the left, to proffer evidence of a violent Muslim backlash when speaking about the culture of hate in a world full of news reports about Islamic State militants beheading their captives, or the Charlie Hebdo murders, not every murder’s newsworthiness should be coldly calculated based on the race, faith, or the known ideology of its participants—or perpetrators. There is an average of about 40 murders a day in this country, most of which we never hear about until the media find one that fits a narrative for them. Or at least they think it does. And then it takes on a life of its own.

02/13/15

Warring Factions Threaten Clinton White House Bid

By: Roger Aronoff
Accuracy in Media

Ongoing rivalries and dissension among Clinton loyalists have percolated up through the mainstream media, even The New York Times—whose own investigative reporting may have set off the latest salvo. It seems despite the president-in-waiting status often accorded to Mrs. Clinton, there might not be enough money to go around, evoking harsh internal criticisms.

David Brock, founder of the far-left Media Matters, “is a cancer,” argued John Morgan, a Florida lawyer connected to both President Barack Obama and former President Bill Clinton, according to recent reporting by Nicholas Confessore and Amy Chozick at the Times. Brock made headlines earlier this week, when in response to their reporting, he sent out a letter that alleged “current and former Priorities officials were behind this specious and malicious attack on the integrity of these critical organizations” and “resigned from the board of the super PAC Priorities USA Action,” according to Politico’s Kenneth Vogel.

Brock is considering a return to Priorities USA, The Washington Post noted shortly thereafter. “People are starting to worry that Priorities could be a weak link,” one strategist told Vogel for his February 10 story about how this super PAC is “struggling in its early efforts to line up cash toward a fundraising goal of as much as $500 million.”

But one wonders whether the criticisms expressed in the media will sabotage Brock’s and other loyalists’ peacemaking. “If you care about your party and our country, you just do what you are asked,” said Morgan, according to Confessore and Chozick. “If you care about yourself, you take your toys and go home.” Morgan is apparently “close” to the co-chair of Priorities USA Action, Jim Messina. Messina served as President Obama’s campaign manager in 2012.

Confessore, a liberal writer/editor transplanted from Washington Monthly to The New York Times, seems to have access to a considerable circle of influential Democrats connected to the Clintons. After all, he sat down with John Podesta in 2003 and 2005. And his August 2013 exposé on mismanagement at the Clinton Foundation, co-authored with Chozick, included interviews with “more than two dozen former and current foundation employees, donors and advisers to the family”—most unwilling to speak on the record.

Like the 2013 piece, Confessore and Chozick report for the Times on February 10 that “most people interviewed for this article declined to speak on the record for fear of angering either the president or the woman who hopes to replace him.” But these persons are willing to speak to the Times about their frustrations.

“The Hillary people were more in it for themselves,” said Jonathan Alter, MSNBC political analyst, when he appeared on the February 10 Ed Schultz show on MSNBC. Alter was referring to the 2008 Democratic primary campaign against Obama. “If we get a repeat of that this time, she won`t have the passion and a genuine commitment that she needs to go the distance.”

“…what this is about is that is that there was a fundraiser who raised millions of dollars for these different groups including David Brock`s, but she was taking a 12.5 percent commission,” Alter said. Democratic strategist Bob Shrum described Mary Pat Bonner’s reported 12.5% commission as “way over the top.”

Confessore and Chozick cast this Democrat infighting differently. They describe the latest meltdown among Clinton movers and shakers as a conflict between two worlds: former Obama staffers who have been imported as strategists for Clinton, and long-time Clinton loyalists. But these writers aren’t the only ones with conflicted interests. The reality appears to be that many in the liberal media, including some reporters at The Washington Post and New York Times, want to tear Hillary and the Clintons down for being too close to Wall Street. But on the other hand, they realize that Mrs. Clinton is the overwhelming favorite to get the Democratic nomination, meaning they will undoubtedly support her when it comes down to her vying against any Republican candidate.

As I’ve reported in the past, The Washington Post—even amidst Mrs. Clinton’s “worst week in Washington” and her tone-deaf comments about being “dead broke” after leaving the White House—still gave her favorable coverage in order to ensure that a Democrat would retain the presidency. “The Post has issued wall-to-wall coverage of this subject, but most of it is about ensuring Hillary’s chances,” I wrote last July.

But when Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) launched her populist offensive in the Senate, hope sprang anew among die-hard liberals and some in the media that Mrs. Clinton, with all her baggage, might not be a shoo-in. The Post’s Paul Kane practically salivated over Sen. Warren’s presidential chances back during the December revolt. Sen. Warren has said she’s not running, but the Post continues to run articles like this: “Democrats suffering from Clinton fatigue say they’re ready for Warren.” Chozick recently described Sen. Warren as “an effective tool in moving Mrs. Clinton off message” whom Republicans favor as a candidate to create dissension within the Democratic primary.

Accuracy in Media has argued in the past that the Times’ David Kirkpatrick piece on Benghazi was a way of inoculating Mrs. Clinton while trying to make the definitive case supporting the Obama administration’s actions and justifications for Benghazi. But that obviously didn’t work, and revelations confirming the Citizens’ Commission on Benghazi’s conclusions continue to break, implicating Mrs. Clinton not only for poor security preceding the 2012 Benghazi attacks, but her blind push to intervene in Libya in the first place. When Mrs. Clinton most likely appears before the Select Committee on Benghazi, an even greater spotlight will shine on her role in these attacks.

It looks like Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) is very tempted to run against Mrs. Clinton from the left, and former Virginia Senator James Webb might run more or less from her right. The sharks are circling this establishment candidate; will Mrs. Clinton successfully fend them off?

And clearly others at the Times aren’t so interested in inoculating her. But in the meantime, the left is having a catfight, and it may be that some reporters are interested in stirring the pot for dramatic effect—and to cause some angst for Mrs. Clinton from their end.

Confessore’s bio from the Times states that he covers the “intersection of money, power and influence.” A visit to his Twitter page reveals that he, like many liberals, doesn’t like the Citizens United ruling very much.  His twitter feed recently stated, “Thanks to Citizens United, we can now have campaign infighting without the campaign.” He also has tweeted about the Clinton Foundation’s $81 million received from “clients of HSBC’s controversial Swiss bank.”

He also wrote an article with Chozick in July of last year which stated, “Few political families are closer to Wall Street than the ClintonsAnd the Clintons often interact with the titans of finance on the Manhattan charity circuit and during their vacations in the Hamptons.”

Could it be that at least one New York Times staffer doesn’t favor Mrs. Clinton for her entrenched, big-money establishment ties much, either? Or perhaps it’s just that Confessore, Chozick, and the Times itself want to go around poking sleeping tigers before an election to see what they can stir up.

These aren’t Mrs. Clinton’s only problems. She also has what might become known as a “Brian Williams problem,” meaning she “misremembered” coming under sniper fire on a runway in Bosnia, and she repeated the story on more than one occasion, yet there were plenty of eyewitnesses who knew it was a complete fabrication. It cost Williams his esteemed position, and a lot of money. Will Hillary pay a similar price?

Plus, former President Bill Clinton is becoming a problem again based on his being linked in the media to a sex scandal involving a good friend of his who is a convicted pedophile. It’s certainly never dull when the Clintons are involved.

02/3/15

Benghazi Hearings Provide a Glimmer of Hope

By: Roger Aronoff
Accuracy in Media

Last week, the Democrat Members of the Select Committee on Benghazi virtually declared war on the majority members, criticizing their pace, rules, and committee scope.

Representative Linda Sanchez (D-CA) claimed that the Select Committee was on a wild goose chase for a nonexistent “unicorn” and “nefarious conspiracy,” and Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) falsely called the stand down order a “myth.”

But in what may be a turning point for the Select Committee, Republican Chairman Trey Gowdy emphasized at the January 27th hearing that “we’re gonna pick up the pace…. I have no interest in prolonging” the investigation into Benghazi.

“Letters haven’t worked. Southern politeness hasn’t worked. We’re going to ratchet it up,” he said at what members of the mainstream media, such as U.S. News and World Report, characterized as a “partisan grudge match.”

The next day Chairman Gowdy issued a statement that defied Democrats outright, arguing he “will continue to move the investigation forward in a fair and impartial manner, but…will not allow the minority’s political games and unreasonable demands to interfere with the investigation.” Rep. Gowdy said he will continue operating under the scope originally set by the House of Representatives.

This, the media preferred to coin as political failure or “out of control” politics. “The House Select Committee on Benghazi, which began with dignity last year, spun out of control Tuesday as Democrats complained that Republicans were abusing their authority and Republicans threatened to spray the Obama administration with subpoenas,” wrote Dana Milbank for The Washington Post. Milbank specializes in snarky columns criticizing and marginalizing conservatives, and even took aim at the Citizens’ Commission on Benghazi for a conference held on Benghazi in 2013.

Regarding the hearing last week, the Associated Press in turn, remarked, “The partisan tone marked a sharp turnaround for a panel that had won praise for a bipartisan approach through its first two public hearings.”

The subject of the first two slow-rolling hearings was the current state of embassy security, a topic suggested by the committee’s Democratic members which had little to do with the administration’s response to the attack—and which conveniently glosses over the security failures of 2012 to emphasize present solutions instead of accountability.

MSNBC focused largely on political angles instead of substance. For Alex Seitz-Wald, it was all about Hillary Clinton. “Gowdy and Republicans had been hoping to preserve and grow the credibility of their inquiry, which is part of the reason for their assiduous avoidance of taking pot shots at Clinton Tuesday,” wrote Seitz-Wald. “But Democrats are seeking to undermine the credibility of the panel, in the hopes that it will be viewed as a partisan witch hunt if it ever demands testimony from Clinton.”

New bombshell reporting by The Washington Times shows that Clinton was the strong voice pushing to intervene in Libya in 2011 in the first place, which set the stage for the attacks. Ultimately, however, President Obama was the “Decider-in-Chief” and bears at least equal culpability.

Chairman Gowdy told Megyn Kelly of Fox News last May that he plans to subpoena Mrs. Clinton, and repeated that in December.  We now learn that the Select Committee has requested Clinton and other top State Department officials’ emails, and that Rep. Gowdy is willing to bring Clinton before the Committee just 30 days after receiving “all the [State Department] documents,” according to CNN.

Select Committee Members would also like to interview 22 persons with firsthand knowledge of Benghazi whom Congress has never spoken to before. The Associated Press reported on January 28, the day after the hearing, that State Department officials said they were ready to “commit” to interview dates for these persons.

But the press doesn’t seem interested in holding the administration accountable for the fact that the State Department waited from the December 4 request until January 28 to issue such a guarantee.

The State Department representative, Joel Rubin, said at the January hearing that a part of the committee’s relationship with the department is indicating priorities for requests—as if more resources could not be allocated to provide such information to the committee more swiftly.

Rubin, formerly of the Ploughshares Fund, also said at the hearing that he was a friend of Ambassador Chris Stevens, who died in 2012 at the U.S. Special Mission Compound in Benghazi. Rubin wrote the following for ThinkProgress that year:

“Instead of getting that support, their deaths are being used as a partisan attack on President Obama, part of a false narrative that the president failed them. What has failed them is our political system. Rather than supporting a serious, nonpartisan investigation into what took place and what went wrong, waiting to get all the facts out, conservatives are trying to affix blame for their deaths for political advantage. This is how some conservatives use terrorist attacks against America.”

Now Rubin helps guard the gates for that same President who would like this simply dismissed as a phony scandal.

Although the media, along with the Democrats, may accuse Chairman Gowdy of partisan politics as he attempts to more aggressively investigate the Benghazi attacks and the resulting cover-up, I am cautiously optimistic about his new tone.

“The letter exchanges between Gowdy and Cummings [prior to the hearing], as well as Tuesday’s hearings, should put to rest forever the fiction that this type of investigation can be conducted in some Nirvana-zone of bipartisan comity,” Kenneth Timmerman astutely wrote for Front Page Magazine.

With this new focus on government stonewalling the Committee brought the possibility of embarrassing the administration to the fore, and the backlash was palpable.

Accuracy in Media and the Citizens’ Commission on Benghazi have long been critical of the Mike Rogers’ House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence report, which contains a number of factual errors and glosses over the intelligence failures leading up to the attacks. Apparently the Select Committee asked to examine the HPSCI’s research in October—and had been asking the Central Intelligence Agency for these files ever since. These files were only produced by the agency after learning that a hearing on them was scheduled.

Similarly, the State Department has produced 40,000 pages related to Benghazi, but Rubin wouldn’t answer as to whether the information provided to the Accountability Review Board was provided fully within those documents.

He also refused to say whether he thought the Select Committee was frivolous.

“If Gowdy is proceeding as a good prosecutor should, he is lining up all his ducks before he goes public with anything,” CCB member, and former CIA officer, Clare Lopez told WorldNetDaily’s Jerome Corsi last week as part of a series of articles about the CCB’s own investigations. “I think it’s premature to jump to a condemnation of the process or the committee leadership when the truth is that we don’t know,” she said.

“Delays by Gowdy are unnecessary at this time,” CCB Member and Retired General Paul Valley told Corsi after the Times’ bombshell dropped. “Gowdy can press forward now as he does have sufficient intelligence and documents to call all witnesses and issue subpoenas as necessary.”

“Additional delays will only give the obstructionists in the Obama White House, the State Department and the Democrats in Congress time to thwart the efforts of the select committee,” Vallely said.

While the administration continues to stonewall the Select Committee whenever possible, and Democrats continue to complain that the investigation isn’t bipartisan enough, the CCB will continue to search for the truth in its own citizen-led investigation.

We have already dug up some disturbing facts in our 2014 interim report, such as:

  • the administration decision to dismiss the possibility of truce talks with Moammar Qaddafi;
  • helping arm al-Qaeda-linked rebels in Libya; and
  • the inadequate military response that night.

“I don’t know if the decision came from the White House or from Hillary Clinton at the State Department,” Retired Rear Admiral Chuck Kubic told Corsi about those failed truce talks. However, Admiral Kubic said, “…the advice for me from AFRICOM was to basically just leave everything alone, to simply stand down.” Who, exactly, at the White House decided it was unnecessary to pursue truce talks with Qaddafi?

The CCB and Accuracy in Media are continuing the search for the truth with our own Freedom of Information Act initiative. Currently, the Department of Defense is withholding 12 pages of maps from us regarding the position of military forces during the attacks.

As we await our day in court, we will not stop digging for the truth through whatever means are available to us. I am encouraged by the possibility that the Select Committee might likewise now use all the powers at its disposal to force the administration to reveal what happened that night and in the aftermath, not only to its Congressional investigators, but to the public as well. America deserves answers, not more stonewalling.

12/30/14

Obama: The Politician Without a Church

By: Cliff Kincaid
Accuracy in Media

POLITICO has run a piece citing various claims that President Obama is a practicing Christian of some sort. Nice try. But the article is entirely unconvincing.

Obama isn’t prevented from going to a Christian church and doesn’t cite security reasons for not attending. Instead, he “worries that his presence detracts from other worshippers’ experience,” the publication said. We are told he reads scripture and prays in private.

In 2008, when he first ran for president, the Obama campaign insisted he was a “committed Christian.” Glenn Greenwald, who later became NSA defector Edward Snowden’s mouthpiece, found Obama’s claim so alarming that he wrote an article for Salon about it. Greenwald, whose anti-American outlook includes Muslim sympathies, was apparently deeply concerned that Obama could, in fact, be a committed Christian.

We now understand that Obama’s Christian claim was as phony as his promise, “If you like your health care plan, you can keep it.”

POLITICO reports that Obama has “attended Sunday services only occasionally, visiting a patchwork of congregations 19 times in all since taking office, according to a POLITICO analysis of White House pool reports.” Further down in the story we learn that “In all, Obama has gone to services on about 6 percent of the Sundays of his presidency and just once on Christmas Day, in 2011, which also happened to be a Sunday.”

Another insight into Obama’s religiosity is when he tries to quote from the Bible or make religious references. He once compared Mary and Joseph to illegal aliens. Even The Washington Post admitted that was false. On another occasion, he said, “The good book says, don’t throw stones in glass houses.” But the Bible has no such quote.

It appears that this man of deep faith, as described by POLITICO, doesn’t even read the “good book” he likes to quote from. So what has he been doing in those private prayer and Bible study sessions?

But the story goes beyond mere hypocrisy.

When questions emerged about Obama’s religious affiliation, in view of his Muslim background, his aides flatly asserted that he was a “practicing Christian” and was “baptized” in the Trinity United Church of Christ. We examined that claim and found it wanting. As we noted at the time, “People see him [Obama] playing golf on Sunday; they don’t see him going to church.”

Obama’s claim to being baptized in the Christian faith is found in his second book, The Audacity of Hope, published in 2006. Obama wrote on page 208, “I was finally able to walk down the aisle of Trinity United Church of Christ one day and be baptized.” We argued that what Obama described sounds like a religious experience, but not what Christians regard as baptism.

Obama’s pastor for 20 years, Jeremiah Wright, gave a speech in which he praised Marxism and faulted the media for claiming that communism and Christianity were somehow opposed to one another.

It also turns out that Wright’s church accepted Muslims as members. Wright told author Edward Klein that he “made it comfortable” for Obama to accept Christianity “without having to renounce his Islamic background.”

Obama is now on vacation in Hawaii, and the White House is releasing details about his daily activities. “Like most Americans,” the White House proclaims, “President Obama is a creature of habit.” But church or Bible study doesn’t appear to be on his list of priorities. His activities are said to include:

  • Daily morning workout at the Semper Fit Center at MCBH [Marine Corps Base Hawaii]
  • Golf at the Kaneohe Klipper golf course
  • Golf at the Mid-Pacific Country Club
  • Golf at the Ko’olau Golf Club
  • Golf at the Royal Hawaiian Golf Club
  • Dinner at Alan Wong’s Restaurant
  • Dinner at Nobu Waikiki
  • Dinner at Morimoto Waikiki
  • Visit Punchbowl Cemetery
  • Snorkeling at Hanauma Bay
  • Christmas Day: Visit service members at Anderson Hall
  • New Year’s Eve: Traditional talent show at home
  • Bowling at K-Bay Lanes at MCBH
  • Basketball at MCBH
  • Swim at Pyramid Rock Beach
  • Swim at Bellows Beach
  • Shave Ice at Island Snow in Kailua
  • Hike the Maunawili Falls trail

One writer, Hrafnkell Haraldsson, a self-described heathen, didn’t like the POLITICO story for another reason. He doesn’t even like the topic of Obama’s religiosity being discussed. “It doesn’t matter if Obama goes to church or not,” he wrote. “It doesn’t matter if he is even a Christian, or, as conservatives often charge, a Muslim. In a word, it is nobody’s concern but that of Barack Obama himself.”

Of course, if Obama claims to be a Christian, and the evidence suggests otherwise, it is a significant story. That’s because his alleged Christianity was a factor in his 2008 and 2012 victories.

In 2008, for example, Catholics voted for Obama by a margin of 54-45. In 2012, the margin was 50-48.

Now, with his recognition and bailout of the Castro regime, he can count on Pope Francis being in his corner. It’s quite an achievement for a politician without a church.