This Saturday in New Hampshire, several leading Republican presidential candidates are scheduled to appear at a “National Security Action Summit,” hosted by the Center for Security Policy (CSP), a think tank led by notorious anti-Muslim conspiracist Frank Gaffney. Among the topics slated for discussion at the event are “shariah and the Global Jihad movement,” as well as border security and the “hollowing-out” of the U.S. military.
Among those listed on the event web site as confirmed: Ted Cruz, Rick Santorum, Bobby Jindal, Carly Fiorina and George Pataki.
Donald Trump, Marco Rubio and Scott Walker are currently listed as “yet to confirm”.
Gaffney and the Center for Security Policy have a long and well-documented history of anti-Muslim conspiracy theories. In recent years, Gaffney has alleged that Muslims serving in the U.S. government are waging a “civilizational jihad” to undermine the country from within, famously accusing Hillary Clinton aide Huma Abedin of being a covert operative of the Muslim Brotherhood. In 2004, Gaffney leveled similar accusations of sedition against former DHS official and Republican political operative Faisal Gill, an individual later revealed to have been subsequently targeted for intensive government surveillance, as per documents revealed by NSA-whistleblower Edward Snowden and reported by The Intercept.
Following Gaffney’s participation in controversial hearings on Muslim-American radicalization in 2011, Linda Sarsour of the National Network for Arab American Communities observed that “Inviting such pseudo-experts to articulate views about Muslim communities in New York is akin to inviting David Duke, or head of the KKK to discuss African-American affairs.”
Gaffney’s Muslim conspiracies have ventured into even more paranoid territory in recent years, with claims that the U.S. Missile Defence agency logo had been altered by the Obama administration, and now “appears ominously to reflect a morphing of the Islamic crescent and star with the Obama campaign logo.” Such unhinged allegations have now earned him a listing as anti-Muslim extremist by the Southern Poverty Law Center.
Matt Duss, president of the Foundation for Middle East Peace, was critical of the GOP’s patronage of Gaffney. “It’s really troubling that, despite his ridiculous and bigoted conspiracy theories, Gaffney has remained a player in GOP politics, thanks in large part to his considerable fundraising power,” Duss told The Intercept.
Haroon Moghul, of the Institute for Social Policy and Understanding, said the GOP’s seeming embrace of Gaffney is a reflection of its inability to adapt to a demographically changing United States. “Is there any growing American demographic left the GOP hasn’t alienated at this point?,” Moghul asked. “On the other hand, I can see why a party that can’t bring itself to disavow Donald Trump would continue to fawn over a flagrant bigot like Gaffney.”
Given Gaffney’s history, as well as the tenor of past Center for Security Policy events, it seems likely that the New Hampshire summit will feature ample scaremongering and incitement against Muslim-Americans. The appearance of so many leading Republican figures suggests they tolerate, if not embrace, those sentiments.
Photo: Sue Ogrocki/AP
The post Leading GOP Candidates to Appear at Event Hosted by Anti-Muslim Conspiracist appeared first on The Intercept.
During a discussion yesterday in Aspen with even-more-sycophantic-than-usual CNN anchor Wolf Blitzer, FBI Director James Comey somberly warned that ISIS now officially poses a bigger threat to the “U.S. homeland” than the one posed by former title-holder Al Qaeda – because, of course, the Latest Threat must always be the Greatest Threat. Comey also said that the previous bigger-than-Al-Qaeda contender, “The Khorasan Group,” has been “diminished” by “the work done by our great military” – because the War on Terror narrative requires that it must always be somehow simultaneously true that (1) the Terror Threat facing Americans is Greater Than Ever™ and (2) U.S. military actions against Terrorism are succeeding.
To commemorate this official FBI warning and to accompany the AP “news article” about Comey’s proclamation, NBC News posted a video which . . . . well, which you have just have to see to believe. Watch it here.
Think about what happened here: to dramatize ISIS as The New Greatest Threat to the Homeland, FBI Director Comey first summoned the TV-actor-who-plays-the-journalist-character-called-Wolf-Blitzer to Aspen, and then NBC News posted to the top of its news article a slick, scary, music-and-graphic-driven video using all of Hollywood’s horror film staples to provide the visceral kick (that video has now been replaced with a video of Matt Lauer/TODAY show segment on Comey’s warning). I’m really grateful that because Americans have a free press, we’re not subject to state propaganda the way people in those bad, unfortunate countries are.h
The post NBC News Releases the Long-Awaited Trailer for its Summer Horror Film About ISIS appeared first on The Intercept.
Die Arbeiterpartei Kurdistans PKK hat sich zum Mord an zwei Polizisten in der südtürkischen Provinz Sanliurfa bekannt. Bei der Tat handele es sich um eine "Strafaktion" für den Anschlag im nahe gelegenen Suruc, hieß es in einer Erklärung des militärischen Arms der PKK (HPG). Die Organisation schreibt in ihrer Mitteilung den getöteten Polizisten eine Zusammenarbeit mit der Terrormiliz Islamischer Staat (IS) zu. Die beiden Beamten waren am Mittwoch im Bezirk Ceylanpinar nahe der türkischen Grenze tot in einem Haus aufgefunden worden. Sie waren erschossen worden.
Gleichzeitig tötete die Jugendorganisation der PKK (YDG-H) in Adana und Istanbul zwei Islamisten, bei denen ebenfalls
Das griechische Parlament hat am Donnerstagmorgen das zweite von den Gläubigern verlangte Reformpaket gebilligt. Es betrifft die Justiz und das Bankenrecht. Die Justizreform sieht die Beschleunigung von Gerichtsverfahren vor. Sie soll ermöglichen, das Immobilienbesitzer, die ihre Bankkredite nicht bedienen, ihr Wohneigentum tatsächlich verlieren können. Die Bankrechtsreform passt das griechische an das europäische Recht an. Künftig sollen bei einer Bankpleite Spareinlagen bis 100 000 Euro gesichert werden. Höhere Geldeinlagen sollen zur Sanierung oder Abwicklung der Bank herangezogen werden; auch die Aktionäre sollen einen Teil der Lasten tragen.
Die Maßnahmen gelten, zusammen mit weiteren Einschnitten, als Voraussetzung dafür, dass Verhandlungen um neue "Hilfskredite"
Mit neuen Manipulationspraktiken will der Staat seine Bürger lenken.
Von ANDREAS VON WESTPHALEN, 23. Juli 2015 -
Es begegnet uns im Supermarkt, in der Kantine, auf der Autobahn, auf der Zigarettenpackung, in Form einer Erinnerung an den bevorstehenden Zahnarzttermin. Oftmals erhalten wir einen kleinen „Schubser“, der uns zu einem gewünschten Verhalten verleiten möchte. Wir werden genudget.
Von der Unternehmenswelt in die Politik
Die vielfältigen Einflussmöglichkeiten durch Nudges (Englisch für „Stups“ oder „Schubs“) untersuchten die US-Amerikaner Richard Thaler, Professor für Verhaltensökonomie, und Cass Sunstein, Rechtswissenschaftler an der renommierten Harvard University. Ihre Publikation Nudge: Wie man kluge Entscheidungen anstößt gilt
The Department of Justice charged Dylann Roof, the white 21-year-old man who allegedly gunned down nine black churchgoers in Charleston, South Carolina on June 17, with murder, attempted murder and use of a firearm, all in the commission of a hate crime. Attorney General Loretta Lynch announced the charges on Wednesday afternoon.
But the DOJ did not charge Roof with domestic terrorism, or include terrorism in the indictment.
Some media outlets, lawyers, public figures and activists have called for Roof to be charged not just with a hate crime, an illegal act “motivated in whole or in part by an offender’s bias,” but with the separate label of domestic terrorism. Critics contend that the label of terrorism is too often only applied to Islamic extremists, and not white supremacists or anti-government anarchists. Many were outraged after FBI Director James Comey balked at the term during a June 20 press conference, telling reporters he didn’t see the murders “as a political act,” a requirement he designated as necessary for terrorism.
Roof’s crime certainly seems to fit the federal description of domestic terrorism, which the FBI defines as “activities…[that] involve acts dangerous to human life that violate federal or state law…appear intended to (i) intimidate or coerce a civilian population, (ii) to influence the policy of a government by intimidation or coercion; or (iii) to affect the conduct of a government by mass destruction, assassination, or kidnapping.”manifesto,” verified by the FBI, confirmed his motivations to intimidate and assassinate. He took as inspiration, among other things, George Zimmerman’s 2012 shooting of Trayvon Martin, the Confederate flag, the KKK, and skinheads.
It turns out there was one major obstacle in charging Roof with domestic terrorism: The crime does not exist.
“As you know, there is no specific domestic terrorism statute,” said Lynch during the press conference to announce Roof’s indictment.
Even when the USA Patriot Act, post 9/11, redefined terrorism to include domestic crimes, the provision simply allowed the government to investigate more broadly what it called “terrorism.” Actually charging someone with domestic terrorism remains a separate matter. Even criminals who use bombs or send money to ISIS – or Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev—are not charged with the crime of terrorism.
Because Tsarnaev used bombs, the 30 federal charges against him – unlike Roof’s case—included charges of “using a weapon of mass destruction,” which is one of the few crimes specified in the U.S. criminal code section for terrorism. So it was accurate to say he was charged as a terrorist.
But shootings, regardless of motivation, intention, or number of deaths, likely don’t count. “It doesn’t seem like a shooting would fit,” says Faiza Patel, co-director of the Brennan Center’s Liberty and National Security Program. “Or else a lot of crime would get caught up” in the terrorism net, she tells me.
There are, however, “aggravating factors” to be considered during sentencing, which prosecutors usually list on a formal indictment, and which can be used to determine whether the death penalty is justified, and those include “substantial planning and premeditation,” to”cause the death of a person” or “commit an act of terrorism.”
In Roof’s case, the DOJ did not mention terrorism as an aggravating factor, but did reference “substantial planning and premeditation to cause the death of a person” for several of his charges. “When a prosecutor is writing an indictment, that’s what he or she has to prove at trial,” explains Michael German, a former FBI domestic terrorism investigator who now also works in the Brennan Center’s Liberty and National Security Department. “Rather than making a complex argument [and] getting into a big discussion on what terrorism is, they’ll make a simple argument.”
Lynch did not explain why “terrorism” was not listed as an aggravating factor in Roof’s indictment, though she did emphasize that the DOJ views hate crimes as “the original domestic terrorism.” She noted that Roof’s case, including his “discriminatory views towards African Americans” and his decision to target “parishioners at worship” made his crime a clear-cut case of a federal hate crime.
Courts can also apply a “terrorism enhancement,” created in the mid-1990s, after sentencing that would allow them to increase the penalty for the crime. This, writes Wadie E. Said, a law professor at the University of South Carolina, “also affords prosecutors and courts a vehicle of an expressive nature, to comment on their deep disapproval and condemnation of terrorism in a general sense.”
Mike German believes that even the enhancement could be “questionable” in Roof’s case. “If it had been a federal building rather than a church, a pipe bomb and not a gun…,” he says. “It’s not distinguished by ideology, it’s distinguished by the nature of the crime. But I don’t have all the evidence.”
Some white supremacists have been charged with the terrorism enhancement in the past. In 2010, for example, neo-Nazi Wayde Lynn Kurt plotted an attack involving assassinating Pres. Obama in Spokane, Washington, that he described as the “final solution,” and federal prosecutors added the enhancement to his sentence successfully.
For German and others, the issue is more about the importance of placing Roof’s crime against African American churchgoers in the realm of terrorism alongside radical Islamists and ISIS. “Calling it a hate crime instead of terrorism seems to suggest it’s less serious,” he says. “Rhetoric is important.” Patel echoes this notion. “It’s more of a question of the narrative of the issue. If you call what he did terrorism, you connect it to the broader definition of acts of terrorism.”
In general, however, Patel cautions against creating a specific domestic terror charge, because there are already too many crimes being labeled as terrorism that may be nonviolent or exercising freedom of speech. “You have all these acts that are terrorist but already criminalized,” she says. “[The crime of] providing material support to a foreign terror organization is already problematic. It captures things that are nonviolent.” And that, she believes, “comes close to the line of the first amendment.”
Lynch was asked whether or not there should be a federal domestic terrorism penalty to help bridge the gap between crimes like the shooting of five military personnel in Chatanooga, Tennessee — which was immediately branded as terrorism, by law enforcement and media alike — and Roof’s case, which was not. Lynch acknowledged the argument that leaving out the word terrorism may cause people to feel like the government “doesn’t consider those crimes as serious.”
But she doesn’t agree. “I want to be clear that nothing could be farther from the truth. This type of crime in particular, racially motivated violence for which a federal law was specifically enacted to cover, is of grave importance….Sometimes people like to focus on the terminology. Since 9/11 there has been a great focus on [terrorism.] But it should in no way signify that this particular murder or any federal crime is of lesser significance.”
Caption: Roof (C), appears in court accompanied by assistant defense attorney William Maguire July 18, 2015 in Charleston, South Carolina.
John Sopko, the special inspector general for Afghanistan reconstruction, doesn’t believe in redactions. If lives are at risk, he says, he doesn’t publish. Otherwise, he says, “why not?”
Sopko, who spoke at an event on transparency and security on Tuesday night, said withholding information can be more dangerous than publishing it. He recalled a story Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wisc., has told about just such a case: “A young lady took her father to a VA hospital … where he got an infection. The hospital killed her dad. But the IG had issued a report, did an investigation, and identified all those problems [with the hospital.] It was never released. If he had published that report, that man would be alive,” said Sopko.
“That’s why we publicize,” he said. “We’re one of the few agencies who don’t gloss over things, who don’t spin things. We tell it like we see it. Happy talk is not going to win the war, balloons and kites are not going to win the war. Reality is what the Afghan people want and need.”
Sopko’s job is to conduct oversight of the U.S. effort to rebuild Afghanistan after the war. But every inspector general in every part of the government has the power to do what he does, he said. They just don’t. “Every inspector general can do this, and I think they should,” he said. “They should be doing this. I learned that you’re not going to change the government unless you publicize [its problems.]”
He referred to the Inspector General Act of 1978, which he said established the position and described its duties: reporting criminal violations, making semiannual reports available to the public, disclosing information, and immediately publishing serious or flagrant problems. “The 1978 Act gave tremendous power,” he said. “I don’t think the IG’s have lived up to that act.”
Sopko singled out the Office of Personnel Management, which just suffered a massive data breach involving over 20 million personnel files and pieces of sensitive information. Sopko said something like that might have been prevented or at least better prepared for if the inspector general there had published more reports. “When’s the last time you saw the OPM inspector general do anything? You don’t even know there is an OPM inspector general.”
Since Congress created the Office of the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction in 2008, it has been issuing shocking reports about the problems in Afghanistan and the money being wasted by government agencies. Just last month, Sopko sent a letter to the U.S. Agency for International Development asking why $769 million dollars were spent to support education, when there are fewer schools in Afghanistan than the agency said. Sopko sent another letter to USAID in early July, asking why the agency’s information about its health clinics was wrong. Sopko’s agency regularly reports on construction problems, misuse of funds, lack of oversight, failed projects and systemic problems in the country.
The post Watchdog for Afghan Reconstruction Thinks Redactions Are for [REDACTED] appeared first on The Intercept.
Just how incestuous is the small world of big money politics? The leading Democratic candidate and at least three major Republican candidates are all relying on members of the same lobbying firm to help them raise presidential campaign cash: Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld.
Akin Gump is hardly a household name, but the law and lobbying firm is famous in Washington for its ability to sell access to those in power. Akin Gump’s employee roster is filled with former members of Congress, and its client list is a veritable who’s who of elite interests, including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Monsanto, Boeing, Chevron, Gilead Sciences, Pfizer and AT&T. The United Arab Emirates and Japan are among the foreign governments represented by the firm.
In presidential politics, lobbying firms influence candidates by soliciting sizable donations to allied Super PACs and by mobilizing large numbers of traditional campaign checks. The practice of collecting checks on behalf of a candidate is known as “bundling.”
Last week, the Clinton, Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio campaigns filed reports with the Federal Election Commission to list their lobbyist bundlers, revealing that all three have relied on Akin Gump for campaign cash. In Clinton’s case, her campaign not only used Akin Gump lobbyists as bundlers, but the Clinton campaign treasurer, Jose H. Villarreal, works for Akin Gump’s lobbying division, though he is not registered as a lobbyist. In addition, former Sen. John Sununu, R-N.H., who is now employed by Akin Gump, has been tapped to raise money for the presidential campaign of Gov. John Kasich, R-Ohio, who kicked off his candidacy on Tuesday.
For Clinton, Akin Gump lobbyists Donald Pongrace, Scott Parven, Allison Binney, Brian Pomper and Arshi Siddiqui are listed as bundlers. Together, Akin Gump’s pro-Clinton team brought in $129,850 in the first six months of this year.
On the Republican side, Akin Gump’s Geoff Verhoff bundled $21,000 for Rubio and Tom Loeffler raised $31,500 for Bush.
The arrangement means that in practical terms, if an establishment candidate makes it to the White House, there’s a good chance he or she will have won with money raised by Akin Gump.
“As a result of the breadth and depth of our experience and relationships, our firm is well positioned to represent its clients — regardless of which party controls the legislative or executive branch,” boasts the Akin Gump website, touting the firm’s lobbying practice.
The post Lobbyists Fundraising for Clinton, Bush, Rubio and Kasich Are Coworkers appeared first on The Intercept.