News Releases

Burger King Deal a Tax Dodge for Brazilian Billionaire, Hurts both U.S. and Canada

CBS News reports: “As Burger King eyes moving its headquarters to Canada to lower its tax bill, a Democratic senator is recommending a boycott of the burger joint.”

JAMES S. HENRY, jamesshelburnehenry at mac.com
Available for a limited number of interviews, Henry is former chief economist at the international consultancy firm McKinsey & Co. He is now senior fellow at the Columbia University Center for Sustainable International Investment and senior adviser with the Tax Justice Network, which earlier this year in their report “The Price of Offshore Revisited” estimated that total wealth in tax havens was between $21 trillion and 32 trillion dollars.

Henry is featured in the film “We’re Not Broke,” which tells the story of U.S. corporations dodging billions of dollars in income tax and is available on Netflix.

He said today: “You now have 100 major U.S. companies looking at ‘inversions’ like what Burger King is doing. This deal is a tax dodge by a Brazilian billionaire and other investors, it will hurt the U.S., Canada and such deals hurt virtually everyone else. These deals exposes domestic companies to competitors that are not paying substantial taxes.

“Contrary to some analysts, the Miami-based Burger King’ deal for Canada’s Hortons WOULD shift BK to Canada for tax purposes. BK is saying that that the deal would not ‘materially effect’ its effective U.S. tax rate of 27 percent, given that Canada’s ‘corp tax rate’ is ’26.5 percent.’

“But given Canada’s effectively territorial corp income tax, plus its generous tax treaties with havens like Barbados, there’s a strong possibility that this deal could ultimately lead to a U.S. tax rate on Burger King’s entire U.S. income that is closer to zero than to 27 percent.

“Since Canada has a territorial corporate income tax it also does not benefit from this deal: the U.S. IRS will lose, but Canada is already not collecting any taxes on BK’s non-Canadian income. And it does lose yet another outstanding domestic company to rapacious global vultures.” See: “Tim’s + BK = $ for Canada right? …. Wrong! (in one table).”

Forbes writes: “The Burger King inversion deal is being driven by Jorge Paulo Lemann, Brazil’s richest man and co-founder of 3G Capital, the private equity firm that holds a majority stake in Burger King.”

Says Henry: “I’ve met Lemann and he made his fortune in the Brazil privatization wave of the 1990s — it was like Russia’s disastrous privatizations, riddled with corruption. Brazil sold assets for $98 billion and gave $99 billion in tax benefits — they actually lost money on selling off assets. Now, Lemann goes around like some business genius, but he’s just a scam artist. It’s not business, it’s tax dodging. Brazil’s tax system, inspite of recent presumably progressive administrations, has a very regressive tax system — the top 10 percent of Brazilians pay lower share than the bottom 50 percent. Lemann probably doesn’t pay any taxes in Brazil.

“It’s been tech companies and pharmaceutical companies that have lead the charge on these schemes. Apple last year off shore revenue paid 1 percent in taxes — they funnel their profits through their Irish subsidiary and then through the Bahamas. GE’s effective tax was zero. Now it’s getting into retail.

“So these companies do business in the U.S., they benefit from the airports, hospitals, police, fire, education. The rest of us pay for the military. Some of them are even federal contractors — they don’t pay taxes but they make money directly from our national coffers.

“Some are even using this to push for a tax repatriation holiday or a gutting of the corporate income tax. Both of these would be a disaster. When there was a repatriation holiday in 2004, 90 percent of the benefit went to Pfizer and they then laid off workers.

“And gutting the corporate tax rate would not only be horrible for us in the U.S., it would be a disaster for poor countries. It’s a race to the bottom. In Africa, you have countries that have effective negative tax rates. Instead of collaborating on tax collection across countries — they’re competing to go lower and lower.

“And all this is being driven by the fact that the corporate lobby doesn’t discriminate. Both establishment parties have been on the take and that’s why you have so little leadership on this issue.”

Militarization of Police

MARSHA COLEMAN-ADEBAYO, nofearcoalition at aol.com
Marsha Coleman-Adebayo recently co-wrote “No Rights that a White Man is Bound to Respect” for Black Agenda Report. She will be speaking at a rally outside the Justice Department Wednesday afternoon “to call on the Attorney General to help secure justice for Michael Brown and the people of Ferguson, Missouri, as well as an overhaul of U.S. law enforcement tactics in order to stop police brutality and the militarization of our police forces.” For more information on the rally, see here or contact: Alli McCracken, CODEPINK national coordinator, alli at codepink.org.

Marsha Coleman-Adebayo is the author of No FEAR: A Whistleblower’s Triumph over Corruption and Retaliation at the EPA. Her successful lawsuit lead to the passage of the first civil rights and whistleblower law of the 21st century: the Notification of Federal Employees Anti-discrimination and Retaliation Act of 2002 (No FEAR Act).

MICHAEL SHANK, michael at fcnl.org, @Michael_Shank
Shank just co-wrote “Stop Treating America Like a War Zone” with Rep. Hank Johnson (D-Ga.), who The Hill reports is “drafting legislation to limit a Pentagon program that provides surplus military equipment to local law enforcement.”

They write: “America is finally waking up to the militarization of its police forces. This is a good thing and heralds a tipping point in the changing face of policing in the United States. America must realize that what is happening in Ferguson, Missouri — with the overwhelming militarized response of local police forces to the protests over the shooting of an unarmed black teenager — is also bound to happen in other American cities. With outrage mounting over the crackdown in Ferguson, now is the time to act.

“Ferguson is not alone in having a militarized police force. There are countless stories of police departments getting (and later selling) assault weapons, drones and other military-grade equipment that is absolutely ill-suited for America’s main streets. The Columbia Police Department in South Carolina, for example, received a free Mine-Resistant, Ambush-Protected vehicle, known as an MRAP, from the Pentagon, which otherwise would have cost Columbia nearly $700,000 (though the city is responsible for all repairs and upkeep going forward). Columbia’s interim police chief, Ruben Santiago, justified the acquisition by saying that the vehicle “will be a barrier between the public and a hostile person or situation such as a barricaded suspect with weapons who may be threatening someone’s life.”

Michael Shank is associate director for legislative affairs at the Friends Committee on National Legislation and adjunct faculty at George Mason University’s School for Conflict Analysis and Resolution.

Obama and Press Freedom: Washington Post Adds to Outcry

With the Obama administration already on the defensive about its threat to jail — or impose harsh fines on — New York Times reporter James Risen for refusing to reveal a confidential source, a Washington Post editorial urges the government to end all legal moves against him.

The Post editorial (“The Administration Should Not Press Reporter James Risen to Reveal a Source,” August 22) quotes a recent statement by President Obama about events in Ferguson, Missouri: “Here, in the United States of America, police should not be bullying or arresting journalists who are just trying to do their jobs and report to the American people on what they see on the ground.”

The newspaper editorializes: “Mr. Obama has consistently proclaimed his belief in press freedom and its importance in our democracy. But his record undermines his words. The administration has conducted the most far-reaching campaign against leaks in recent memory, with more prosecutions than all previous administrations combined. Perhaps Mr. Obama doesn’t see any conflict here, but we do.”

The Post’s editorial targets the Risen case: “Prosecutors want Mr. Risen’s testimony in their case against Jeffrey Sterling, a former CIA official who is accused of leaking details of a failed operation against Iran’s nuclear program. Mr. Risen properly has refused to identify his source, at the risk of imprisonment. Such confidential sources are a pillar of how journalists obtain information. If Mr. Risen is forced to reveal the identity of a source, it will damage the ability of journalists to promise confidentiality to sources and to probe government behavior.”

The controversy over the Justice Department’s moves against Risen has escalated this month. (See recent stories by AP, McClatchy, AFP, Politico and U.S. News & World Report as well as the August 14 news conference by press freedom groups that aired on C-SPAN.) In support of Risen, more than 20 Pulitzer Prize-winning journalists issued individual statements, and a petition with 100,000 signers was presented to the Justice Department urging a halt to all legal action against him.

The following policy analysts are available for interviews:

COURTNEY RADSCH, cradsch at cpj.org, @courtneyr
Radsch is advocacy director at the Committee to Protect Journalists, where she is leading the Right to Report in the Digital Age campaign aimed at ending surveillance and harassment of journalists. She said today: “The Committee to Protect Journalists calls on the United States Department of Justice to withdraw a subpoena seeking to force journalist James Risen to give testimony that would reveal a confidential source and uphold the administration’s professed commitment to press freedom.”

GREGG LESLIE, gleslie at rcfp.org
Leslie is legal defense director of the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press. He has served as a member of the American Bar Association’s Fair Trial and Free Press Task Force.

NORMAN SOLOMON, thefirstamendment at usa.com
Solomon has coordinated the petition campaign “We Support James Risen Because We Support a Free Press,” which presented the petition with 100,000 signers to the Justice Department on August 14. He said today: “With press freedom at stake, the extreme contrast between the Obama administration’s fine words and corrosive actions has become too flagrant and damaging to ignore. The First Amendment and the informed consent of the governed cannot function when the government is using surveillance and legal threats to inculcate fear and foster intimidation. It’s no longer just a matter of a chilling effect. The administration has systematically moved to freeze a basic necessity for a free press — the confidentiality of sources.”

Addressed to President Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder, the petition states: “Your effort to compel New York Times reporter James Risen to reveal his sources is an assault on freedom of the press. Without confidentiality, journalism would be reduced to official stories — a situation antithetical to the First Amendment. We urge you in the strongest terms to halt all legal action against Mr. Risen and to safeguard the freedom of journalists to maintain the confidentiality of their sources.”

Solomon is co-founder of RootsAction.org and executive director of the Institute for Public Accuracy.

Getting Iraq, Syria and Saudi Arabia Wrong

BBC reports: “U.S. aircraft have launched fresh strikes against Islamic State militants in northern Iraq, despite threats from the group to kill a second American captive in retribution for continued attacks.”

PATRICK COCKBURN, via Marianna Reis, marianna.reis at orbooks.com
Mideast correrspondent for the Independent, Cockburn is author of the new book, The Jihadis Return: ISIS and the New Sunni Uprising. He recently wrote “How the U.S. Policy on Syria is Backfiring: Fear of ISIS,” published by CounterPunch. An excerpt of his book, “Why Washington’s War on Terror Failed: The Underrated Saudi Connection,” was just published by TomDispatch: “There are extraordinary elements in the present U.S. policy in Iraq and Syria that are attracting surprisingly little attention. In Iraq, the U.S. is carrying out air strikes and sending in advisers and trainers to help beat back the advance of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (better known as ISIS) on the Kurdish capital, Erbil. The U.S. would presumably do the same if ISIS surrounds or attacks Baghdad. But in Syria, Washington’s policy is the exact opposite: there the main opponent of ISIS is the Syrian government and the Syrian Kurds in their northern enclaves. Both are under attack from ISIS, which has taken about a third of the country, including most of its oil and gas production facilities.

“But U.S., Western European, Saudi, and Arab Gulf policy is to overthrow President Bashar al-Assad, which happens to be the policy of ISIS and other jihadis in Syria. If Assad goes, then ISIS will be the beneficiary, since it is either defeating or absorbing the rest of the Syrian armed opposition. … The key decisions that enabled al-Qa‘ida to survive, and later to expand, were made in the hours immediately after 9/11. Almost every significant element in the project to crash planes into the Twin Towers and other iconic American buildings led back to Saudi Arabia.”

RAED JARRAR, [in D.C.] rjarrar at afsc.org
Policy impact coordinator for the American Friends Service Committee, Jarrar recently wrote to the Daily News: “President Obama took to national TV to announce military action ‘to prevent a potential act of genocide’ in Iraq. But after U.S. military personnel landed on the mountain to assess the situation, according to a Pentagon statement, they found ‘far fewer’ refugees than expected and they were in ‘better condition than previously believed.’ … Using genocide as a buzzword to justify political and military agendas is a slap in the face to victims of such atrocities, and it will make it harder for the international community to respond when there are real threats.”

He also recently wrote the piece “U.S. military back to Iraq? That’s a terrible mistake,” for the Chicago Tribune. He writes: “No one can deny that Iraq is in crisis. There is a political, humanitarian and military catastrophe taking place in the country, and it is only getting worse. The Sunni extremist group that calls itself the Islamic State has been involved in massive violations of human rights, including murder, ethnic cleansing and torture. But the Iraqi government forces, government-backed Shiite militias and other ethnic and sectarian militias have also been committing gross human rights abuses.

“In the last decade or so, hundreds of thousands of Iraqi civilians have been killed, and almost 5 million have been displaced — one of the largest ethnic and sectarian cleansing campaigns in the history of the Middle East. Serious crimes have been committed by almost every political faction in Iraq. While focusing on the actions of one terrorist group might be good for an easy narrative where the United States and its allies step in to save the day, the other participants in Iraq’s civil war are literally getting away with murder. A new U.S. military intervention in such a complex conflict is not sustainable and will not help Iraqis build their nation or fight extremism.

“Humanitarian assistance is much needed and welcomed, but it should go through legitimate UN and other international agencies. As it stands, it is being used as a pretext to sneak in military strikes and more arms to some of Iraq’s fighting factions. …

“The United States, for its part, is not a charity organization, nor is it a neutral bystander. Washington is an active participant in the conflict. In addition to authorizing direct strikes, the Obama administration continues to arm the Iraqi government forces and ethnic Iraqi militias and paramilitary groups. Even since the withdrawal of U.S. forces in 2011, Washington has continued its intervention in Iraq by selectively arming and training some sides of the civil conflict. The practical implications of this policy are devastating for the future of Iraq because it increases divisions and makes it harder for Iraqis to unite. Arming Iraqi factions is also a path of dubious legality, and it is illegal under U.S. and international law to arm and train groups implicated in gross human rights violations.

“The crisis in today’s Iraq is not a result of a natural disaster — it is a direct consequence of earlier U.S. military interventions. Much of the destruction in Iraq’s infrastructure, state legitimacy and national identity was either caused directly by the United States or happened under its watch. The United States also played a lead role in installing the current ethno-sectarian political system that continues to be one of the most corrupt and dysfunctional in the world.”

Also see the recent Washington Times piece “U.S. Yazidis wary of arming Kurdish fighters in northern Iraq.”

Anti-Jewish Campaign Traced to Pro-Israeli Grad Student

LANCE TAPLEY, lance.tapley at gmail.com
Investigative reporter for Common Dreams, Tapley just wrote an extensive piece entitled: “The Double Identity of an ‘Anti-Semitic’ Commenter: Smearing a Progressive Website to Support Israel,” which states: “Like many other news websites, Common Dreams has been plagued by inflammatory anti-Semitic comments following its stories. But on Common Dreams these posts have been so frequent and intense they have driven away donors from a nonprofit dependent on reader generosity.

“A Common Dreams investigation has discovered that more than a thousand of these damaging comments over the past two years were written with a deceptive purpose by a Jewish Harvard graduate in his thirties who was irritated by the website’s discussion of issues involving Israel.

“His intricate campaign, which he has admitted to Common Dreams, included posting comments by a screen name, ‘JewishProgressive,’ whose purpose was to draw attention to and denounce the anti-Semitic comments that he had written under many other screen names.”

Some who have applauded the Common Dreams investigation have criticized the decision by the website not to name the perpetrator. Tapley writes: “Common Dreams is not revealing his identity because, as a Jew who for years tricked Vanguard News Network, a major neo-Nazi website that has harbored people committed to violence, he could be put in danger by such a revelation.”

However, Ali Abunimah, founder of the ElectronicIntifada.net tweeted: “By protecting identity of this Zionist mega-troll and saboteur, @commondreams may enable him to continue his fraud.”

Classified Leaks and Obama: Highly Selective Prosecution

On the defensive about its threat to jail New York Times reporter James Risen for refusing to reveal a confidential source, the Obama administration is now facing new questions about why the Justice Department is prosecuting Risen’s alleged source — while the alleged leaker of other nuclear-related classified information about U.S. intelligence operations in Iran, a top Marine officer known as Obama’s “favorite general,” has faced no prosecution.

In a new article, “A Tale of Two Alleged Iran Nuke Leakers,” investigative journalist Marcy Wheeler writes that “both leaks served to provide important information about the ill-considered covert actions done in our name” — but “the leaks have not been treated the same.”

“Unlike [Gen. James] Cartwright,” she wryly notes, “Jeffrey Sterling didn’t sit in on White House briefings.”
Risen’s alleged source, former CIA employee Jeffrey Sterling, is scheduled to go on trial soon on major felony charges. Cartwright, a former vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, is not currently facing any prosecution.

New developments have escalated the controversy over the Justice Department’s moves against Risen. (See recent stories by AP, McClatchy, AFP, Politico and U.S. News as well as the news conference by press freedom groups that aired on C-SPAN over the weekend.) Last week, 20 Pulitzer Prize-winning journalists issued individual statements, and a petition with more than 100,000 signers was presented to the Justice Department urging a halt to all legal action against Risen.

MARCY WHEELER, emptywheel at gmail.com
Investigative reporter Wheeler writes the “Right to Know” column for ExposeFacts (part of the Institute for Public Accuracy). She provides in-depth analysis of legal documents related to “war on terrorism” programs and civil liberties. To read her new article “A Tale of Two Alleged Iran Nuke Leakers,” click here.

JESSELYN RADACK, jradack at whistleblower.org, @JesselynRadack
Radack is the director of National Security and Human Rights at the Government Accountability Project, a renowned whistleblower organization. Her program focuses specifically on secrecy, surveillance, torture and discrimination.

She said today: “James Risen’s case is a prime example of how the war on whistleblowers has been a back-door war on journalists. Risen is being asked to testify against a source in yet another Espionage Act prosecution of a CIA whistleblower who allegedly exposed a botched CIA operation. If Mr. Risen faces jail or exorbitant fines for refusing to do so, the small pool of independent investigative journalists to whom whistleblowers can turn dries up even further.”

Radack has been at the forefront of challenging the government’s unprecedented “war on whistleblowers.” She represents many of the whistleblowers being prosecuted under the Espionage Act, including Edward Snowden, Thomas Drake and John Kiriakou.

AHMED GHAPPOUR, ghappour at uchastings.edu
Ghappour is a professor at UC Hastings College of the Law, where he directs the Liberty, Security and Technology Clinic. He is outside counsel for the Freedom of the Press Foundation. He said today: “Mr. Risen broke no law gathering the news. He broke no law in proliferating the news, or in publishing his articles and books. Nor has the Justice Department made such claims. Nor does the government subpoena seek information from Mr. Risen to put an end to an existing threat, to stop a terrorist attack or an ongoing crime.”

Ghappour added: “Mr. Risen’s case makes it clear that national security journalists are faced with a Hobson’s choice: either (1) practice a form of journalism consistent with the First Amendment, and face prison or bankruptcy; or (2) practice the form of journalism that the executive wants them to — releasing only the information that the executive deems fit for public consumption.”

DELPHINE HALGAND, delphine at rsf.org
Halgand is the U.S. director of Reporters Without Borders. She advocates for a wide range of journalists and media rights worldwide.
Halgand said today: “The United States is ranked at the 46th position in the Reporters Without Borders 2014 World Press Freedom Index. One explanation for the United States to be ranked at the 46th position: The whistleblower is the enemy. Eight alleged whistleblowers have been charged under the Espionage Act since Barack Obama became president in 2009, which is the highest number under any previous administration combined. Leaks are the lifeblood of investigative journalism, given that nearly all information related to national security is considered secret. It is safe to say that this crackdown against whistleblowers is designed to restrict all but officially approved versions of events. These developments highlight the need for a comprehensive federal shield law in the U.S. which could protect journalists’ sources at the federal level.”

Ferguson: * Black Passivity * Military Policing

VERNELLIA RANDALL, randall at udayton.edu
Emeritus professor of law at the University of Dayton, Randall’s writings are at her website: racism.org.

She said today: “This isn’t about one boy being killed or about one town. It’s about the lives of all African Americans. What’s surprising to me is that there isn’t more protest and outrage. Just recently, in the town where I live, a black man, John Crawford, picked up a toy gun in Wal-Mart and he got killed by a policeman — even though this is an open carry state.

“People are in the streets demanding openness and it takes nearly a week to find out Michael Brown was shot six times.”

Randall is author of Dying While Black about “how living in this racist society has made us sick.” Added Randall: “The illness that has afflicted us is that we’ve been so passive in the face of the abuse that’s been inflicted upon us.”

SHAHID BUTTAR, media at bordc.org, @bordc
Executive director of the Bill of Rights Defense Committee, Buttar said today: “The only thing more disturbing than the use of military tactics and weapons to suppress dissent in violation of constitutional rights is the use of U.S. taxpayer dollars to pioneer those abuses in foreign countries used as laboratories for policing tactics. From automatic license plate scanners to shot spotter audio listening devices, surveillance drones to tear gas and SWAT teams, local policing has emerged as a part of the military industrial racket. But while the trend remains disturbing nationally, communities across the country have taken action to prevent and roll back the militarization of their police forces.”

MICHAEL SHANK, michael at fcnl.org, @Michael_Shank
Shank is the associate director for legislative affairs at the Friends Committee on National Legislation. He just co-wrote the New York Times op-ed “Get the Military Off of Main Street,” which states: “Ferguson, Mo. has become a virtual war zone. In the wake of the shooting of an unarmed black teenager, Michael Brown, outsize armored vehicles have lined streets and tear gas has filled the air. Officers dressed in camouflage uniforms from Ferguson’s 53-person police force have pointed M-16s at the very citizens they are sworn to protect and serve.

“The police response has shocked America. The escalating tension in this town of 21,200 people between a largely white police department and a majority African-American community is a central part of the crisis, but the militarization of the police is a dimension of the story that has national implications.

“Ferguson’s police force got equipped this way thanks to the Pentagon, and it’s happening all over the country. The Department of Defense provides military-grade weapons and equipment to local law enforcement agencies through the 1033 program, enacted by Congress in 1997 to expand the practice of dispensing extra military gear. … To date, the Pentagon has donated military equipment worth more than $4 billion to local law enforcement agencies. And the giving goes on, to police forces in all 50 states in the union.

“Ferguson’s police department is just one recipient; small towns all over America are now the proud owners of ‘MRAP’ armored vehicles. The largess has gotten so out of hand that a congressman, Hank C. Johnson, is introducing a bill to block the 1033 handouts.”

Was Ferguson a ‘Sundown Town’?

JIM LOEWEN, jloewen at uvm.edu
Loewen taught race relations for twenty years at the University of Vermont. He is the author of Sundown Towns: A Hidden Dimension of American Racism in which he describes “Sundown Towns” as predominantly white communities in which people of color are not welcome. They are described as such because some of them posted signs at their city limits reading, typically, “Nigger, Don’t Let The Sun Go Down On You In ___.” He is also the author of Lies My Teacher Told Me: Everything Your High School History Textbook Got Wrong and Lies Across America: What Our Historic Sites Get Wrong.

He said today, “I think Ferguson was a sundown town, based on a statement in the published history of its neighbor, Kinloch, a majority-black town, but I have not confirmed Ferguson for sure.

“Often former sundown suburbs, when they do ‘break,’ rapidly go majority black. Their white residents, having lived for years under the ideology that African Americans are bad and must be wholly kept from town, have an ideological reason to leave, once their town becomes interracial. All too often they sell at distressed prices to real estate intermediaries. In turn these agents can sell the homes to black families looking to buy in newly available ‘integrated’ areas for a premium.

“The white families then move to a sundown suburb farther out and carry with them the contagion that ‘blacks wreck property values,’ since they sold for less than market value.

“Ferguson meanwhile shows symptoms of what we call ‘second generation sundown town problems,’ such as an overwhelmingly white police force that (probably) formerly employed driving-while-black-style stops.

“Every former (and current) sundown town and suburb in the U.S. needs to give up the practice, explicitly and openly. That will relieve the black housing pressure so interracial towns will no longer tend to go all-black. It will also clear the air about our recent racist past, allowing locales all across the U.S. to move forward.”

Loewen is blogging at History News Network and tweeting @JamesWLoewen.

See: Militarization of U.S. Police: Ferguson, Mo.

Leading Kurdish and Iraq Analyst

EDMUND GHAREEB, edmundghareeb at gmail.com
Available for a limited number of interviews, Ghareeb is an internationally recognized expert on the Kurds and on Iraq. His books include The Historical Dictionary of Iraq (co-authored with Beth Dougherty), The Kurdish Question in Iraq, The Kurdish Nationalist Movement and War in the Gulf which he co-authored with Majid Khadduri.

Ghareeb was the first Mustafa Barzani Scholar of Global Kurdish Studies at the Center for Global Peace at American University. He formerly taught at Georgetown University, George Washington University and the University of Virginia.

Ghareeb said today: “Where have people been? Certainly some of the recent reporting of the carnage by IS is sensationalized, but their brutality is all too real. But critically, it’s been happening for years in both Iraq and in Syria, where is should have been confronted. In Syria, ancient Christian churches were destroyed, nuns and bishops were kidnapped and priests were killed. In Syria and Iraq, many belonging to different religions, sects and nationalities were killed or forced to flee at the hands of extremists and criminals. This was widely ignored in large part because many in the region and in the west were so focused on attacking the Assad government.

“Similarly, we’re now finally seeing some denunciations of IS and its treatment of minorities and others under its control from establishment Islamic voices in the Mideast, but it’s very late. As for U.S. intervention, the danger is that it may further hurt the Iraqi people and fragment Iraq altogether in the name of this humanitarian intervention.

“There are of course other serious issues: Suppose, if 5 million Kurds in Iraq can have a state, then why can’t 22 million Kurds in Turkey and 9 million in Iran have one?”

See interview with Ghareeb by Dennis J Bernstein at Consortium News: “Iraqi Chaos May Give Kurds a State.”

Late-breaking update: James Risen will be a speaker at news conference

Media Advisory: In D.C. on Thursday, Aug. 14

Two Events Will Push Back at DOJ on Risen Case

** Presentation of petition at Justice Department (Constitution Avenue entrance), 10:30 a.m.

** News conference at National Press Club (Murrow Room), 1 p.m.

Addressing one of the most important U.S. press freedom cases in decades, a broad coalition of organizations will present a petition to the Justice Department on Thursday morning and hold an afternoon news conference at the National Press Club.

The activities are challenging efforts by the Obama administration to compel New York Times reporter James Risen to disclose a confidential source.

The petition, with 100,000 signers, is set for presentation to the Justice Department with backing from press freedom groups including the Committee to Protect Journalists, the Freedom of the Press Foundation, the Government Accountability Project, the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, Reporters Without Borders, and RootsAction.org.

Representatives of those groups will be joined at the Justice Department for the petition presentation by nine-time Emmy Award winner and Peabody Award recipient Phil Donahue. The media availability begins at 10:30 a.m., with formal presentation of the petition to a Justice Department spokesperson at 11 a.m.

Hours later, the focus will shift to the National Press Club for the 1 p.m. news conference. Along with speakers from the press freedom organizations and Donahue, the news conference will also hear from James Risen.

The Justice Department is now considering whether to attempt to force Risen to testify against one of his alleged sources. If Risen refuses, as he has vowed to, he would likely face harsh fines or imprisonment.

Risen has refused to name a source for information about a bungled CIA operation in Iran that appeared in his book State of War.

This summer a front-page New York Times article called the Risen case “the most serious confrontation between the government and the press in recent history.”

For further information: TheFirstAmendment at usa.com

Background on the Risen case:
Freedom of the Press Foundation: Court Guts Reporter’s Privilege
Truthout: Conversation With James Risen: Can Journalists Protect Their Sources?
Politico: Justice Department Urges SCOTUS to Pass Up Reporter’s Privilege Case
Letter to Holder from 46 News Organizations Re: Subpoena to James Risen
Committee to Protect Journalists: U.S. Government Should Withdraw Risen Subpoena
Columbia Journalism Review: Journalism Groups Rally Around a Petition Supporting James Risen

Next Page »