Thursday ReadsPosted: August 22, 2013 Filed under: Barack Obama, Crime, Criminal Justice System, morning reads, U.S. Politics | Tags: Antontin Scalia, Arizona Kansas lawsuit, australia, Bobby Jindal, Bradley Manning, Chelsea Manning, Chris Lane, David Sirota, FBI files, hormone therapy, Mark Ambinder, Michael Hastings, murder, SCOTUS, sex-reassignment surgery, The Guardian UK, transgender, voting rights, William Vollmann 19 Comments
I’m getting slow start this morning after rereading some of yesterday’s morning thread and seeing Fannie’s and Beata’s comments. Life is such a mystery . . . it often seems sad and even meaningless. And yet life is wonderful and beautiful too.
I don’t even know how to express what I’m feeling right now. I just want to thank all of you for being here. When I get discouraged and disgusted with our politics and the behavior of some of my fellow humans, it helps me to share my feelings with you and to get your reactions.
Now let’s see what’s in the news this morning.
Bradley Manning was sentenced to 35 years in prison yesterday. But with good behavior he could be released in as little as 7 years. Charlie Savage and Emmarie Huetteman at The New York Times:
In a two-minute hearing on Wednesday morning, the judge, Col. Denise R. Lind of the Army, also said that Private Manning would be dishonorably discharged and reduced in rank from private first class to private, the lowest rank in the military. She said he would forfeit his pay, but she did not impose a fine.
Before the sentencing, Private Manning sat leaning forward with his hands folded, whispering to his lawyer, David Coombs. His aunt and two cousins sat quietly behind him. As Colonel Lind read the sentence, Private Manning stood, showing no expression. He did not make a statement.
The materials that Private Manning gave to WikiLeaks included a video taken during an American helicopter attack in Baghdad in 2007 in which civilians were killed, including two journalists. He also gave WikiLeaks some 250,000 diplomatic cables, dossiers of detainees being imprisoned without trial at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, and hundreds of thousands of incident reports from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan….
Mr. Coombs later told reporters that he would apply for a presidential pardon next week and read a statement from Private Manning that he said would be included in his request.
“I only wanted to help people,” Private Manning’s statement said, adding, “If you deny my request for a pardon, I will serve my time knowing that sometimes you have to pay a heavy price to live in a free society.”
Manning has expressed the desire to live as a woman, and although he may not be able to get hormone therapy or sex-reassignment surgery while he is in military prison, he has announced that he is now Chelsea Manning. From Joe Coscarelli at New York Magazine: Bradley Manning’s Long, Painful Road to Coming Out As Transgender.
Less than a day after being sentenced to 35 years in prison for passing classified U.S. documents to WikiLeaks, Army private Bradley Manning has a huge, if not exactly surprisingly, announcement: “I am Chelsea Manning. I am female,” the 25-year-old wrote in a statement to Today. “Given the way that I feel, and have felt since childhood, I want to begin hormone therapy as soon as possible. I hope that you will support me in this transition. I also request that, starting today, you refer to me by my new name and use the feminine pronoun.”
But the transition has colored much of Manning’s life for many years and factors heavily into how she became one of the most notable leakers in American history. Even if much of the world is only now paying attention to Manning’s gender-questioning, it’s always been a part of her story.
Manning’s full letter is titled “The Next Stage of My Life” and has notes of relief, her trial and sentencing finally complete after three years. “As I transition into this next phase of my life,” Manning wrote, “I want everyone to know the real me.”
Manning was wrestling with her sexual orientation while serving in Iraq and when she got involved with WikiLeaks. As reported by Steve Fishman in a July 2011 issue of New York, “Among fellow soldiers, Manning had to conceal the basic facts of his sexual orientation. On the web, he was proudly out and joined a ‘Repeal Don’t Ask Don’t Tell’ group. He’d even begun to explore switching his gender, chatting with a counselor about the steps a person takes to transition from male to female.”
Manning will probably be in her early 30s when she is released from prison; so she’ll still have a long and probably interesting life ahead of her when that time comes.
Australians are calling for a boycott of U.S. travel after the senseless shooting of young Australian college student Chris Lane in Oklahoma. CNN:
The indiscriminate shooting of Christopher Lane, a 23-year-old Australian who was living his dream of studying in the United States on a baseball scholarship, has repulsed many in his home country and led to calls for Australian tourists to boycott the United States.
“It is another example of murder mayhem on Main Street,” former Australian deputy Prime Minister Tim Fischer told CNN’s Piers Morgan.
“People thinking of going to the USA for business or tourist trips should think carefully about it given the statistical fact you are 15 times more likely to be shot dead in the USA than in Australia per capita per million people.”
Police said Lane was on one of his regular runs through what has been described as the affluent town of Duncan on Friday about 3 p.m. when a car carrying three teenagers drove up behind him.
“They pulled up behind him and shot him in the back, then sped away,” said Capt. Jay Evans of the Duncan Police Department. “It could have been anybody — it was such a random act.”
Here’s a long article about the shooting from new.com.au: Chilling 911 call details final moments of Melbourne baseballer Chris Lane’s life.
What a heartbreaking story.
The states of Arizona and Kansas have followed a suggestion from Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, according to TPM: Accepting Scalia’s Offer, Arizona Sues Obama Administration On Voting Rights.
The lawsuit, filed Wednesday, was announced by Arizona’s Attorney General Tom Horne and Secretary of State Ken Bennett, and joined by Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, a high-profile architect of restrictionist laws, including Arizona’s Senate Bill 1070.
The issue involves the 1993 National Voter Registration Act, also known as the “motor voter” law, which requires states to let people register to vote simply by attesting they are citizens, when renewing their driver’s license or applying for social services. A 2004 law adopted by the voters in Arizona added the requirement that people registering to vote also provide proof of citizenship. The Supreme Court struck down that law earlier this year, concluding that it is trumped by the motor voter law. Arizona, the court ruled, could not add new requirements to the form prescribed by the federal law.
But during oral arguments in March, Scalia expressed his bafflement that Arizona did not launch a broader assault on the constitutionality of the NVRA form, written by the Election Assistance Commission. The state simply contended in that case that its proof of citizenship law did not violate the federal law. Even Scalia disagreed with that, voting against Arizona in the ruling, but also giving them a valuable tip in his 7-2 majority opinion.
“We hold that [the NVRA] precludes Arizona from requiring a Federal Form applicant to submit information beyond that required by the form itself,” Scalia wrote in the June decision. “Arizona may, however, request anew that the EAC include such a requirement among the Federal Form’s state-specific instructions, and may seek judicial review of the EAC’s decision under the Administrative Procedure Act.”
Sigh . . . read more at the link.
According to a new PPP poll, only 28 percent of Louisiana voters still think Governor Bobby Jindal is doing a good job.
Three years ago in August PPP declared Bobby Jindal to be the most popular Governor in the country. 58% of voters approved of him to only 34% who disapproved. Jindal’s fortunes have seen an amazing shift since that time though, and our newest poll finds him to be the most unpopular Republican Governor of any state- and the second most unpopular Governor in the country overall.
Just 28% of voters now approve of Jindal to 59% who disapprove. That’s an 11 point decline in his net approval just since February when he was already at a poor 37/57 standing. Even Republicans are pretty divided on Jindal (43/42) while independents (35/45) and Democrats (14/78) generally give him poor marks.
Jindal’s White House prospects are dismal if his home state voters have anything to say about it. Just 17% of Louisianans think he should run for President in 2016 to 72% who believe he should sit it out. He ties for 4th among Republican primary voters as their top choice for their 2016 candidate- Rand Paul leads with 18% to 17% for Jeb Bush, 11% for Paul Ryan, 10% for Jindal and Chris Christie, 8% for Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz, 5% for Rick Santorum, and less than 1% for Susana Martinez. (That’s also an embarrassingly poor showing for Santorum given that he easily won the state’s primary last year.)
Jindal wouldn’t be likely to get to a general election but the news for him there is bad too- he trails Hillary Clinton 47/40 in a hypothetical match up. Every other Republican we looked at is more competitive with Clinton in the state- Ryan leads her 46/44, Paul does 45/44, Bush ties her at 44 each, and she leads Christie just 42/41. It looks like Clinton would have a chance to make Louisiana unusually competitive in any instance, but particularly so against Jindal.
It’s difficult to believe that Jindal is polling that well against Hillary.
A few more short takes:
A new article in LA Weekly offers some startling revelations about Michael Hastings’ state of mind before he was killed in a one-car crash: Michael Hastings’ Dangerous Mind: Journalistic Star Was Loved, Feared and Haunted. Based on a friend’s descriptions of Hastings’ behavior, it sounds like he was so severely depressed that he was delusional.
From The A Register, speculations based on The Guardian’s bizarre claims that British intelligence agents forced them to destroy computers that contained U.S. secrets stolen by Edward Snowden: MYSTERY of Guardian mobos and graphics cards which ‘held Snowden files’
A funny Buzzfeed list (with gifs) contributed by Marc Ambinder: 12 Ways To Easily Identify An East Coast Transplant In LA.
A very weird story that demonstrates the institutional stupidity of the Federal Bureau of Investigation: FBI suspected William Vollmann was the Unabomber.
A fascinating story at Defense One: Area 51 Has Been Hiding U-2 Spy Planes, Not UFOs
Finally, our old friend David Sirota really outdid himself yesterday with this story at Salon: This cowardly silence is an act of war, in which he claims that President Obama’s failure to object to the UK detaining Glenn Greenwald’s partner David Miranda at Heathrow Airport is a crime against humanity . . . or something.
Now it’s your turn. What stories are you focusing on today? Please share your links in the comment thread.
Tuesday Reads: The Agony of Glenn Greenwald, The Ickiness of Ted Cruz, & Other NewsPosted: August 20, 2013 Filed under: 2016 elections, Egypt, Foreign Affairs, Great Britain, morning reads, Pakistan, Republican politics, U.S. Economy, U.S. Politics, US & Canada | Tags: Bob Cesca, David Miranda, Glenn Greenwald, Muslim Brotherhood, Pervez Musharraf, Ted Cruz, the 24-hour rule, The Guardian UK 29 Comments
As of yesterday, we’ve reached the point with the NSA leaks story that the entire focus is on Glenn Greenwald and his martyrdom. Even Edward Snowden has now faded into the background.
On Sunday, Greenwald’s domestic partner David Miranda was detained for nine hours by UK authorities as he passed through Heathrow Airport on his way from Berlin to Rio de Janeiro where he and Greenwald live. Miranda was finally released, but his laptop, an external hard drive, a number of memory sticks and other electronic devices were confiscated. Greenwald reacted by threatening the UK government with harmful revelations from the Snowden stash.
As with previous Greenwald stories, this one quickly evolved from a tale of horrendous government repression as reported by the Guardian to a more complex story reported by other news outlets–forcing the Guardian to walk back or provide more details on aspects of its original reporting. Bob Cesca does a good job of summarizing the process.
Like most people, Cesca was at first shocked by the news of Miranda’s detention. Then he began reading the stories under the headlines.
When I read The Guardian‘s article about the incident, however, more questions popped up — as with much of The Guardian‘s reporting on this topic, the publication’s tendency for coy, smoke-and-mirrors reporting invariably raises more questions than it answers. The article was credited to “Guardian staff,” for one, there weren’t any quotes from Miranda himself and the only source for the article appeared to be Greenwald, who, from my experience covering this story, tends to be incendiary and misleading.
The wailing and garment rending was underway — the predictable group freakout we’re forced to endure every time a new article is published. Greenwald himself wrote that the U.K. authorities were actually worse than the Mafia because the Mafia doesn’t target family members. (Clearly, Greenwald knows less about the Mafia than he does about political realities or history.)
An aside: Cesca coined the term “the 24 hour rule” after a the first few Greenwald NSA “bombshells.”
The 24 Hour Rule: 1) A wild claim is made via a news article, most often The Guardian, about the U.S. government or related entities. 2) The article sparks wild fits of outrage. 3) Then, within 24 hours, a mitigating detail is added, undermining or totally debunking one or more of the central claims contained with the article. Related quote: “A lie can travel half-way around the world before the truth gets its pants on.”
Back to Cesca’s take on the Miranda story:
As the hours rolled by, Charlie Savage, reporting for The New York Times, began to revealmore details about the trip — details which The Guardian mysteriously didn’t include in either of its articles….
First, we learned from The New York Times that The Guardian financed Miranda’s trip to Germany and back. This means Miranda was conducting some sort of official business for the publication. Around the same time, Amnesty International referred to Miranda as “a Guardian newspaper employee.” Combined with the Laura Poitras detail, it’s obvious that Miranda was commissioned to do some serious leg-work on the Snowden/NSA reporting, the extent of which was unknown at the time.
And then, late in the evening east coast time, The New York Times revealed the purpose of Miranda’s trip to Berlin:
Mr. Miranda was in Berlin to deliver documents related to Mr. Greenwald’s investigation into government surveillance to Ms. Poitras, Mr. Greenwald said. Ms. Poitras, in turn, gave Mr. Miranda different documents to pass to Mr. Greenwald. Those documents, which were stored on encrypted thumb drives, were confiscated by airport security, Mr. Greenwald said. All of the documents came from the trove of materials provided to the two journalists by Mr. Snowden.
So Miranda, Greenwald’s spouse, served as a paid courier to transfer stolen, top secret national security documents from Greenwald to Poitras, and from Poitras back to Greenwald.
While I’m not defending UK authorities for their ham-handed treatment of Miranda–and neither is Cesca–it’s really not surprising that Miranda was stopped and questioned. It also later came out that Miranda had been offered an attorney, but he refused the offer (Greenwald had originally said his partner was refused access to legal advice). From The Guardian on Monday:
He was offered a lawyer and a cup of water, but he refused both because he did not trust the authorities. The questions, he said, were relentless – about Greenwald, Snowden, Poitras and a host of other apparently random subjects.
“They even asked me about the protests in Brazil, why people were unhappy and who I knew in the government,” said Miranda.
He got his first drink – from a Coke machine in the corridor – after eight hours and was eventually released almost an hour later. Police records show he had been held from 08.05 to 17.00.
The questions about the Brazilian government weren’t actually that outrageous, since Glenn Greenwald had contacted high level officials there and they had tried to intervene.
So the “24-hour rule” still holds. This entire story turned around in 24 hours, but many news outlets are still reporting information that is either wholly or partially untrue. After it became clear that their original reporting on the Miranda detention was problematic, the Guardian released another bombshell article written by Guardian editor-in-chief Alan Rusberger in which he claims that two months ago GCHQ (Britain’s version of NSA) agents forced the Guardian to destroy their hard drives and computers unless they turned over their NSA materials. Again Bob Cesca has a good summary. Please read the whole thing if you can–it’s not long.
We’ll have to wait another day to see if this story also morphs into something different. Cesca has a list of questions for Rusberger. My big question is why wasn’t this reported immediately after it happened, and why didn’t the Guardian go to court over it?
And so Glenn Greenwald and his victimization remain the center of international attention. I have to wonder why Greenwald arranged for his partner to travel through Heathrow in the first place. Was he deliberately inviting something like this? He couldn’t have asked for better free publicity that he and the Guardian are getting right now.
Meanwhile, any discussion of NSA spying is hindered by so much inaccurate information; yet the NSA story is distracting Americans from focusing on equally important and even more pressing issues like jobs, the economy, voting rights, the war on women’s autonomy, the environment, and the upheavals in the Middle East. So now I’ll move on to some other news–I’ll add more links on the Miranda story in the comments.
In other news,
The Atlantic has a good story on economic inequality: Are the Rich Getting Too Much of the Economic Pie?
When one of you asked, “Are the rich getting too much of the economic pie?” the team behindEconomics in Plain English got pretty excited. Because you said “pie.” So we headed toDangerously Delicious Pies in northeast Washington, D.C., with business editor Derek Thompson to explain income inequality over dessert. We ordered three pies — peanut butter, blueberry, and something amazing called the “Baltimore Bomb” — to make three charts that illustrate the income and wealth gap in the U.S. We’re not the first to mix math and pastry, as we discovered recently, but we hope this video offers a tasty perspective on a complex economic question.
Watch the video–and others by the same group–at the link.
In Pakistan, Pervez Musharraf has been indicted in the 2007 murder of Benazir Bhutto
ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — A Pakistani court indicted Pervez Musharraf on Tuesday in connection with the 2007 assassination of former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, the first time that a former military leader has faced criminal proceedings in Pakistan.
The court in Rawalpindi, near the capital, Islamabad, filed three charges against Mr. Musharraf, including murder and conspiracy to murder, said a prosecutor, Chaudhry Muhammed Azhar.
Mr. Musharraf, who has maintained that the charges against him are politically motivated, pleaded not guilty, his lawyers said. Reporters were excluded from the hearing. Afterward, police commandos and paramilitary rangers escorted Mr. Musharraf back to his villa on the edge of Islamabad, where he has been under house arrest since April in connection with other cases stemming from his rule from 1999 to 2008.
The sight of a once untouchable general being called to account by a court had a potent symbolism in a country that has been ruled by the military for about half of its 66-year history. While the military remains deeply powerful, the prosecution has sent the message that Pakistan’s top generals are subject to the rule of law — at least after they have retired.
In Egypt, a leader of the Muslim Brotherhood has been arrested. The LA Times reports:
CAIRO — Egyptian authorities early Tuesday arrested the leader of the Muslim Brotherhood, another demoralizing blow to the Islamist organization amid a crackdown by the military to silence dissent and build support for its control of the nation.
Supreme Guide Mohamed Badie was arrested in a Cairo apartment. Dressed in a gray tunic, the 70-year-old spiritual leader looked shaken, sitting next to a bottle of water in police custody. The image distilled the desperation the world’s most influential Islamist organization faces against an army that appears determined to crush it.
Most of the Brotherhood’s top leaders, including Khairat Shater, its chief strategist and financier, and former Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi, who was overthrown in a coup last month, are in detention or have gone underground. Much of the group’s strategy appears to have shifted to the Anti-Coup Alliance, an umbrella group the Brotherhood organized to protest Morsi’s downfall.
The army’s crackdown on the Brotherhood has been ferocious. Police raids on two Brotherhood sit-ins last week and the protests and violence that ensured killed more than 900 Morsi supporters, many of them shot by live ammunition fired by security forces that have shown little restraint.
“When the hand of oppression extends to arrest this important symbol,” the Brotherhood said in a statement regarding Badie, “that means the military coup has used up everything in its pocket and is readying to depart.”
I’ll be honest–I’m really clueless about what’s going on in Egypt right now. I just hope the situation doesn’t descend into a Syria-like civil war.
Texas Tea Party Senator Ted Cruz is back in the news. The Dallas Morning News revealed yesterday that Cruz holds dual citizenship in the US and Canada.
Born in Canada to an American mother, Ted Cruz became an instant U.S. citizen. But under Canadian law, he also became a citizen of that country the moment he was born.
Unless the Texas Republican senator formally renounces that citizenship, he will remain a citizen of both countries, legal experts say.
That means he could assert the right to vote in Canada or even run for Parliament. On a lunch break from the U.S. Senate, he could head to the nearby embassy — the one flying a bright red maple leaf flag — pull out his Calgary, Alberta, birth certificate and obtain a passport.
“He’s a Canadian,” said Toronto lawyer Stephen Green, past chairman of the Canadian Bar Association’s Citizenship and Immigration Section.
The circumstances of Cruz’s birth have fueled a simmering debate over his eligibility to run for president. Knowingly or not, dual citizenship is an apparent if inconvenient truth for the tea party firebrand, who shows every sign he’s angling for the White House.
Cruz has decided to renounce his Canadian citizenship, according to CNN:
“Because I was a U.S. citizen at birth, because I left Calgary when I was 4 and have lived my entire life since then in the U.S., and because I have never taken affirmative steps to claim Canadian citizenship, I assumed that was the end of the matter,” Cruz wrote in his statement.
“Now the Dallas Morning News says that I may technically have dual citizenship. Assuming that is true, then sure, I will renounce any Canadian citizenship,” he continued. “Nothing against Canada, but I’m an American by birth, and as a U.S. Senator, I believe I should be only an American.”
Too bad he didn’t decide to run for office in Canada. I guess we’re stuck with him now.
I’ll end with this Daily Beast story about what Ted Cruz Princeton roommates recall about him. Some excerpts:
When Craig Mazin first met his freshman roommate, Rafael Edward Cruz, he knew the 17-year-old Texan was not like other students at Princeton, or probably anywhere else for that matter.
“I remember very specifically that he had a book in Spanish and the title was Was Karl Marx a Satanist? And I thought, who is this person?” Mazin says of Ted Cruz. “Even in 1988, he was politically extreme in a way that was surprising to me.” [….]
“It was my distinct impression that Ted had nothing to learn from anyone else,” said Erik Leitch, who lived in Butler College with Cruz. Leitch said he remembers Cruz as someone who wanted to argue over anything or nothing, just for the exercise of arguing. “The only point of Ted talking to you was to convince you of the rightness of his views.”
In addition to Mazin and Leitch, several fellow classmates who asked that their names not be used described the young Cruz with words like “abrasive,” “intense,” “strident,” “crank,” and “arrogant.” Four independently offered the word “creepy,” with some pointing to Cruz’s habit of donning a paisley bathrobe and walking to the opposite end of their dorm’s hallway where the female students lived.
“I would end up fielding the [girls’] complaints: ‘Could you please keep your roommate out of our hallway?'” Mazin says.