U.S. Government

Media Feeds Americans Fake News About Afghanistan

Paktiya province, AfghanistanGlen Greenwald of Salon.com reports that Americans are being fed false and misleading "news" about the U.S. war in Afghanistan because major American media outlets, like the New York Times and CNN, publish propagandized Pentagon accounts of the violence and killing occurring there, without questioning the information they are fed.

An egregious example of this occurred on February 12, 2010, when NATO's joint international force issued a press release that bore the headline Joint Force Operating In Gardez Makes Gruesome Discovery. The release said that after "intelligence confirmed militant activity" in a compound near a village in Paktiya province, an international security force entered the compound and engaged "several insurgents" in a fire fight. Two "insurgents" were killed, the report said, and after the joint forces entered the compound, they "found the bodies of three women who had been tied up, gagged and killed."

But an Afghan news report about the same incident differed wildly.

DOJ Might Be Facebook-Stalking You

EyesFacebook might be selling you out to the government.

With the help of the University of California Berkeley's Samuelson Clinic, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request for documents from the government about how they monitor and use social networking sites like Facebook, MySpace, Twitter and LinkedIn to gather information for investigations. The EFF struck gold with this request, as both the IRS and the Department of Justice released training presentations on social networking sites. While this may seem benign, the training material from the DOJ suggests that feds go undercover on sites such as Facebook to gather information on crime.

The DOJ slide show presentation (pdf) also discusses how cooperative these social networking sites are in complying with requests for private data. For example, Facebook, a highly popular social networking site, was described as "often cooperative with emergency requests," while Twitter was less cooperative because they refused to preserve data without legal process.

Cheney's Huge Blunder

Former VP Dick CheneyIn April, 2009, former vice president Dick Cheney called for the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) to release classified memos he said demonstrated how well "harsh interrogation methods" -- torture -- worked to prevent terrorist attacks and save lives. But investigators with the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR) just released a report saying that the CIA memo Cheney cited as justifying U.S. torture contains "plainly inaccurate information" that undermines its conclusions.

Congress Needs to Clip Goldman's Wings

The New York Times' front page exposé on the role that Goldman Sachs has played in the Greek tragedy unfolding in Europe right now raises a huge number of concerns both for the U.S. economy and the financial reform measures now in Congress.

To recap, Greece and a number of other European Union (EU) countries are dangerously in debt. EU rules say member countries cannot have budget deficits that exceed three percent of GDP. Greece's debt is closer to 12 percent. Other countries including Spain, Ireland, Italy and Portugal are also in trouble. These countries are "too big to fail." A default by any one of them would rock the global markets, putting an end to the hopeful signs of an EU recovery and potentially leading to a "double dip" recession here in the United States.

Greece and perhaps the other EU nations have been hiding the extent of the debt for years. This week, it was revealed that they have been able to do this with the aid of major U.S. players like Goldman Sachs. The German magazine Der Spiegel broke the story that Greece did a billion-dollar currency swap with Goldman Sachs in 2002 that did not show up on the nation's books as debt.

Secret Jesus Codes on U.S. Military Weapons

ABC News revealed that Trijicon, the company that provides high-powered rifle sights to the U.S. military, inscribes the sights with coded references to biblical texts about Jesus Christ. The company inscribes the codes immediately after the model number, in the same font and type size.

No

Where's the Outrage Over Obama's Health Care Propagandist, Jonathan Gruber?

US News and World Report blogger Peter Roff is comparing the Obama Administration's payments to Jonathan Gruber to the the pundit payola scandal of the Bush Administration paying Armstrong Williams.

In January 2005, USA Today revealed that a U.S. Department of Education contract paid Williams to promote Bush's No Child Left Behind legislation on his TV show and to ask other African American journalists to do likewise. Democrats and media activists were appropriately outraged at such blatant and hidden government propaganda. A January 7, 2010, report by Marcy Wheeler on her Firedoglake blog exposed the similar failure of the Obama Administration and influential MIT economist Jonathan Gruber to fully and consistently reveal Gruber's role in receiving hundreds of thousands of dollars as a paid consultant to the Obama Administration, while promoting Obama's health care legislation.

Roff, a long-time Republican activist and right wing pundit, notes that in the William's payola scandal "senior Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives wrote to President George W. Bush expressing their outrage. In one of those letters, then-House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Reps. Henry Waxman, George Miller, David Obey, and Elijah Cummings denounced the payments made to Williams under a government contract as 'illegal covert propaganda' intended to influence the American electorate."

What a difference partisanship makes now that Obama is president. In the Gruber scandal prominent liberals including New York Times columnist Paul Krugman have attacked the messenger, Marcy Wheeler and Firedoglake, rather than criticizing the lack of disclosure and the money changing hands, and digging further into the relationship between Obama and his paid health care advocate Jonathan Gruber.

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