News Releases

Clinton, Saudi Arabia and “Shadow Wars”


CHRISTOPHER DAVIDSON, cmd[at], @dr_davidson
Davidson teaches politics at Durham University in England. He has written several books on the Mideast, focusing on the Gulf monarchies. His latest is the just-released Shadow Wars: The Secret Struggle for the Middle East.

He notes that Hillary Clinton wrote to John Podesta, the chairman of her presidential campaign, in emails just released by WikiLeaks, that “Qatar and Saudi Arabia … are providing clandestine financial and logistic support to ISIL and other radical Sunni groups in the region.” See also BBC report: “Yemen conflict: ‘Saudi-led coalition plane’ hit funeral.”

See video summarizing findings of Davidson’s latest book.

Davidson’s recent pieces include “Links in the Golden Chain: Tracking the Saudi Role in 9/11.”

A Second Snowden?


The New York Times reports in “N.S.A. Contractor Arrested in Possible New Theft of Secrets” that “The F.B.I. secretly arrested a former National Security Agency contractor in August and, according to law enforcement officials, is investigating whether he stole and disclosed highly classified computer code developed by the agency to hack into the networks of foreign governments.

“The arrest raises the embarrassing prospect that for the second time in three years, a contractor for the consulting company Booz Allen Hamilton managed to steal highly damaging secret information while working for the N.S.A. In 2013, Edward J. Snowden, who was also a Booz Allen contractor, took a vast trove of documents from the agency that were later passed to journalists, exposing surveillance programs in the United States and abroad.

“The contractor was identified as Harold T. Martin III of Glen Burnie, Md., according to a criminal complaint filed in late August and unsealed Wednesday. Mr. Martin, who at the time of his arrest was working as a contractor for the Defense Department after leaving the N.S.A., was charged with theft of government property and the unauthorized removal or retention of classified documents.

“Mr. Martin, 51, was arrested during an F.B.I. raid on his home on Aug. 27. A neighbor, Murray Bennett, said in a telephone interview on Wednesday that two dozen F.B.I. agents wearing military-style uniforms and armed with long guns stormed the house, and later escorted Mr. Martin out in handcuffs.”

WILLIAM BINNEY, williambinney0802 [at]
Binney is a former high-level National Security Agency intelligence official who, after his 2001 retirement after 30 years, blew the whistle on NSA surveillance programs. His outspoken criticism of the NSA during the George W. Bush administration made him the subject of FBI investigations that included a raid on his home in 2007. Even before Edward Snowden’s NSA whistleblowing, Binney publicly revealed that NSA had access to telecommunications companies’ domestic and international billing records, and that since 9/11 the agency has intercepted some 15 to 20 trillion communications. Snowden has said: “I have tremendous respect for Binney, who did everything he could according to the rules.”

Binney said today: “When the first public reports of the source code for hacking developed in the TAO [Tailored Access Operations] of NSA hit, I immediately thought there was a second Snowden. This one in the TAO. That’s the only way all this source code could come out. Now, looks like that was right. My main problem with NSA in this area is that they knew these weaknesses existed and made no move to fix them. That’s because they needed these weaknesses to be able to look into what people were doing. I have said for a number of years that this was short sighted thinking that put us all at risk. And, that’s exactly what has happened. OPM [Office of Personnel Management] and many others got hacked. Well, maybe now with this compromise, they will move to fix these problems and make us all more secure; instead of allowing these vulnerabilities to continue to exist so that hacks can occur and they can fear monger for more money, pointing to the dangers of cyber attacks that they knew could happen. What a swindle.”


Colombia Peace Deal Referendum

Al Jazeera reports: “Colombia referendum: Peace deal with FARC rejected.”

MARIO A. MURILLO, marioradio [at]
Murillo’s books include Colombia and the United States: War, Unrest, and Destabilization. He said today: “This can be seen as democracy at work in Colombia, where high rates of abstention and the rural/urban divide is so apparent, and where fear and misinformation rule the day. But the defeat of the yes vote shouldn’t be seen as a win for war. The people of Colombia want peace, with justice. One hopes cooler heads will prevail and the ceasefire holds while they return to Havana to decide next steps. And that the far right doesn’t continue to carry out the attacks against supporters of the peace deal that had already started but are being underreported in the establishment media.”

Murillo is a professor of radio, television and film at Hofstra University. He was interviewed this morning by “Democracy Now!

In Defending Saudi Veto, Is Obama Acknowledging U.S. Criminality?


CNN reports on Congress overriding President Obama’s “veto of a measure that allows families of those killed during the 9/11 terror attacks to sue Saudi Arabia.” CNN quotes Obama: “The concern that I’ve had has nothing to do with Saudi Arabia per se or my sympathy for 9/11 families. It has to do with me not wanting a situation in which we’re suddenly exposed to liabilities for all the work that we’re doing all around the world.”

JOHN QUIGLEY, Quigley.2[at]
Professor emeritus of international law at Ohio State University, Quigley has written extensively about international law. His books include The Ruses for War: American Interventionism Since World War II.

He said today that President Obama’s statement is “at least an acknowledgement that the U.S. has engaged in conduct that could plausibly involve U.S. responsibility: drone strikes, bombing from aircraft — even potentially wars of aggression.

“President Obama is right that opening U.S. courts to suits against foreign governments may lead courts in other countries to allow suits against the United States.”

Quigley added, “Whether this would actually happen is speculative.”

Quigley notes several possible suits, including from government or victims of U.S. drone strikes in Pakistan and other countries. He also cites the recent U.S. bombing of a hospital in Kunduz, Afghanistan. See news releases from the Institute for Public Accuracy: “Will Victims of U.S. Hospital Bombing be Heard?” and “U.S.’s Unreported War in Afghanistan.”

Confessing to Brazilian Coup * U.S. Complicity


The Intercept reports this week: “Brazil’s president Michel Temer Says Rousseff was impeached for refusing his economic agenda,” and “Brazil’s Impeached Ex-President Dilma Rousseff Says Successor ‘Confessed to the Coup.’

MARIA LUISA MENDONCA, [Currently in the U.S.] marialuisam222[at]
Mendonça is director of Brazil’s Network for Social Justice and Human Rights. She is also a professor in the International Relations department at the University of Rio de Janeiro and the editor of the book Human Rights in Brazil.

She said today: “There is no crime accusation against Dilma, so it was a coup to force a regime change in Brazil, not a legitimate impeachment trial.

“The illegitimate regime in power is implementing austerity measures that will create more social and economic instability, such as cuts of investments in education, health care, and retirement plans. It’s also proposing to legalize corruption by changing the law about campaign contributions.
“Another risk is the privatization of natural resources such as land and offshore oil reserves, which will increase the risk of environmental destruction.”
ALEXANDER MAIN, [in D.C.] via Dan Beeton, beeton[at], @ceprdc
Recently back from Brazil, Main is senior associate on international policy at the Center for Economic and Policy Research.

He said today: “The Obama administration continues to celebrate and support the new, illegitimate rightwing government of Michel Temer which took power following the baseless impeachment of elected president Dilma Rousseff.  On Sept. 22, Vice President Joe Biden met with Temer and ‘commended [him] for his commitment to maintaining Brazil’s regional and global leadership role during the recent period of political change in Brazil.’ On Sept. 27, U.S. Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew met with Brazilian Finance Minister Mereilles and applauded the Temer government’s neoliberal economic reform program, which includes drastic public sector cuts, privatizations, and pension reforms, stating that the program would help Brazil ‘realize its enormous growth potential.’

“It’s disturbing to see how the U.S. administration is going out of its way to bolster Brazil’s undemocratic political transition, and throwing its support behind the sort of neoliberal policy prescriptions that had such a damaging economic and social impact on Latin America in the 1980s and 1990s and that have been explicitly rejected by the Brazilian electorate.

“With president Dilma Rousseff out of the way, we’re now seeing an intensification of a campaign to discredit former president Lula da Silva, who remains Brazil’s most popular political figure and who was expected to run again for president in 2018. This campaign includes biased and increasingly shrill attacks by Brazil’s most powerful private media outlets — such as Globo and Veja — as well as what can only be described as the judicial persecution of Lula da Silva by an investigative judge who has ties to the U.S. State Department and has illegally leaked tapped phone conversations of Lula, among other questionable activities.”

Trump, Clinton and the Politics of Presidential Masculinity

9781566560832-final JACKSON KATZ, jackson[at], @jacksontkatz
Katz is author of the new book Man Enough? Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump and the Politics of Presidential Masculinity. He said today: “Trump’s former campaign manager Corey Lewandowski” has said a major goal of Trump’s is “to ‘lock in the white guys’ who are Trump’s core voters. Many commentators overlooked this incredibly revealing statement, choosing instead to focus on how Trump’s aggressive and uncompromising tone might have turned off swing voters and others. …
“From the start, Trump has positioned himself as the embodiment of tough-guy masculinity, a throwback to the days when men were men and America was great because of it. Cultural ideas about gender have always hovered beneath the surface of American presidential politics. But this time around, the combination of Hillary, a woman, facing Trump, the angry face of aggrieved and aggressive white manhood, has made gender — especially masculinity — visible in unprecedented ways.”

Katz highlights how “white men … [largely] changed their allegiance, broke up the New Deal coalition in the process, and created the gender gap we see to this day. …

“A big factor was the decline of the labor movement. Organized labor was often seen as a source of blue-collar toughness and strength in its advocacy for the white working class. And I think some of the Democratic Party’s diminished strength with white working people can be traced to the decline of the labor movement as a traditional source of masculine strength. As blue collar manufacturing jobs have been shipped overseas, a lot of dislocated, alienated, and screwed-over white working-class guys have gravitated toward the tough-guy rhetoric and symbolism of the Republicans to hold on to their manhood. The Republican Party may offer working-class white men very little in terms of actual policies that benefit them, but at least they offer them a kind of cultural recognition and validation.”

Katz argues that part of the reason why there has been less attention to the gender aspects of white identity politics in this campaign is because of “an analytic blind spot, rooted in the fact that we’re not used to seeing dominant groups as ‘groups’ at all. For example, people often assume the word ‘race’ refers to people of color, rather than whites, who remain the privileged and often unexamined norm against which others are measured. Likewise when the subject of gender and politics comes up, the conversation typically turns to ‘women’s issues’ and the kind of things that motivate women voters. What’s mostly missing is any kind of sustained look at the male side of the gender gap, the material and symbolic factors that have driven men’s voting patterns over the years.”

See recent interview.

Trump and Clinton: * “No Fly, No Buy” * “Stop and Frisk”

serrano130527_2_560 SUE UDRY, sue[at], @defenddissent
Executive director of the Bill of Rights Defense Committee & Defending Dissent Foundation, Udry said today: “Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump agreed last night on one clever sound bite: no fly no buy, based on the premise that terrorists should not own guns. But they both have it wrong. The no-fly list is not a list of terrorists, its a government-created blacklist of people with at best a tangential relationship to some unknown suspicious person, place or activity. There is no effective way to challenge being placed on the list, no matter how innocent a person may be. The list should not be used as a basis to deny a person their Second Amendment rights. Our government has a long history of blacklisting people based on race, religion, political beliefs, or country of origin, and the no-fly list is part of that disgraceful history. It doesn’t make us safer, just less free.”

CHIP GIBBONS, chip[at]
Gibbons is policy and legislative counsel for the Bill of Rights Defense Committee & Defending Dissent Foundation. He said today: “In 1968, the Supreme Court, over the strenuous objections of civil liberties and civil rights advocates, announced that police stops and frisks of individuals on the street would be held to a lower standard than other searches and seizures. By doing so they helped to sanction a pernicious form of racial profiling, yet even under these lax rules the New York City Police Department could not defend its stop and frisk program, which was rightfully found unconstitutional, not because of, as Trump asserted, a ‘very against police’ judge or, as Clinton claimed, because it is ineffective, but because the level of racism found in stop and frisk was too great to ignore. While this program is intrinsically unacceptable, given the lethal turn many police-citizen encounters take for African-American citizens, no one could seriously propose a program that increases said encounters as a violence reducing measure, unless they did not believe Black Lives Mattered.”

BORDC/DDF is a transpartisan national civil liberties organization working to fulfill the promise of the Bill of Rights for everyone.

Protests at Debate

Gothamist reports: “Thousands Of Protesters Expected At Tonight’s Presidential Debate.”

MARGARET MELKONIAN, longislandpeace[at], @longislandpeace
EMILIE BECK, ebeck1[at]
NATASHA RAPPAZZO, nrappazzo1[at], @natasharapp
Melkonian is director of the Long Island Alliance. Beck and Rappazzo are students at Hofstra University. They are participating in protests and other events this afternoon and evening, stressing the importance of peace issues. See a schedule of events here.

MARIO MURILLO, marioradio[at], @marioradio99
Murillo is professor and chair of the radio, television and film department in the Lawrence Herbert School of Communication at Hofstra University. He will be speaking on a panel on the importance of the Latino vote and other issues. It will be livestreamed at 6 p.m. ET here. The livestream should continue with a community speakout, featuring issues the debates may give little attention to.

See from the media watch group FAIR, from earlier this year: “In Nine Democratic Debates, Not a Single Question About Poverty.” From 2012, in “The Moderators’ Agendas,” FAIR wrote: “The establishment media figures who moderated the 2012 major-party candidate debates confined the discussion to a remarkably narrow range of topics, a FAIR analysis of debate questions finds.”

A Push for Closure of “War on Terror” Air Force Hub – Interviews Available

While the Clinton-Trump debate features two candidates who express strong support for the ongoing “war on terror,” delivery of a petition to the Pentagon on the same day presents a markedly different approach — calling for closure of the Air Force’s overseas hub for U.S. warfare in many countries.

The petition, which focuses on the key Ramstein Air Base in southwestern Germany and was signed by more than 20,000 people, will also be presented to the German government in Berlin.

“The Ramstein Air Base’s crucial role in relaying signals for drone strikes is binding the United States and Germany in an unconscionable program for extrajudicial killings,” the petition says. “That program receives major help from German intelligence agencies, which assist with drone targeting as they share surveillance data with the U.S. government.”

While U.S. activists will present the petition at the Pentagon, it will also be presented in Berlin by German activists along with two American veterans of the “war on terror.” They are Cian Westmoreland, a former Air Force technician who worked on the drone program in Afghanistan, and Matthew Hoh, a former Marine who was an officer in Iraq and became the highest-ranking State Department official to resign in protest of the U.S. war in Afghanistan.

In addition to the Ramstein base’s crucial role in the U.S. global drone program, “Ramstein is also central to many other military aspects of the ‘war on terror’ that continues to have such profoundly negative consequences in many nations,” the petition notes.

Addressed to President Obama, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, the U.S. Congress and the German parliament, the petition says: “While urgently calling for the de-escalation of conflicts and for serious negotiations, we support nonviolent movements in opposition to the Ramstein Air Base and other U.S. military bases around the globe. We urge you to take immediate steps to close the Ramstein Air Base and not replace its functions at any other location.”

The petition includes thousands of individual comments written by signers from all over the world. The comments are posted online.

Initiated by, the petition’s partners include 20 other organizations, which are listed on the petition’s webpage.

Available for interviews:

NORMAN SOLOMON, solomonprogressive [at], @normansolomon
Solomon is co-founder of and executive director of the Institute for Public Accuracy. He wrote “The Most Important U.S. Air Force Base You’ve Never Heard Of” for The Nation. His books include War Made Easy.

Additional background: Jeremy Scahill, The Intercept: “Germany Is the Tell-Tale Heart of America’s Drone War

“Debates” — or “Televised Joint Appearances”?

The original "Memorandum of Agreement on Presidential Candidate Joint Appearances" does not use the word "debates."

The original “Memorandum of Agreement on Presidential Candidate Joint Appearances” does not use the word “debates.”

Green Party candidate Jill Stein writes in USA Today: “The Democrats and Republicans should not exclude their competitors. The debate commission is a deception created by the parties to keep competition out. It undermines democracy for two parties to silence their competition. In 1988, the League of Women Voters warned the parties would ‘perpetrate a fraud on the American voter’ and refused to be ‘an accessory to the hoodwinking of the American public.'”

Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson writes in the New York Daily News: “The two parties are rigging the debates“: “What’s different this year is the exceedingly large portion of the population … who are deeply dissatisfied with the Democratic and Republican party nominees.” A USA Today poll recently found that 76 percent of the public wants third party candidates on a majority of state ballots “included in the debates.”

Lester Holt of NBC will moderate tonight’s event. Others will be moderated by CBS, ABC, CNN and Fox personnel. Steve Scully of C-SPAN is “backup moderator.”

Tucker is an independent D.C.-based journalist who writes at He has recently written a series of pieces on the Commission on Presidential Debates, including “How Presidential Debates Became ‘a Fraud on the American Voter.’” See the pieces here.

Tucker said today: “While no Memorandum of Understanding has been made public this year, a leaked 2012 MOU between the Obama and Romney campaigns outlined: ‘The moderator will not ask follow-up questions or comment on … questions asked by the audience or the answers of the candidates.'” [PDF]

Tucker notes that “Fed up with the [League of Women Voters, which had organized presidential debates in the 1970s and early 80s] independence, the two parties hatched a plan. In 1987, they created the Commission on Presidential Debates (CPD), with the Democratic and Republican chairmen serving as the organization’s co-chairs. …

“The resulting debates were ‘phony, part of an unconscionable fraud,’ said CBS anchorman Walter Cronkite. It’s ‘a charade,’ said CNN’s Bernard Shaw, ‘these were not debates.’ …

“With the civic-minded League out, money poured in. Anheuser-Bush and Philip Morris, among other corporations, provided large donations, and in return were featured prominently at the CPD debates.”

The co-chairmen of the CPD are Frank J. Fahrenkopf, Jr. and Michael D. McCurry. Fahrenkopf was chair of the Republican National Committee when the CPD was founded, and he represents gambling interests. Tucker notes that “Fahrenkopf’s Democratic counterpart, McCurry, is also a lobbyist. After serving as Bill Clinton’s press secretary, McCurry went on to lobby for, among others, telecoms seeking to kill net neutrality. The other 15 CPD board members are mostly party insiders and donors.”

JEFF COHEN, jcohen[at]
Cohen is founder of the media watch group FAIR, an associate professor of journalism at Ithaca College, and recently wrote the piece “Why Not Expand the Presidential Debates?” — which notes:

— “Televised Joint Appearances”:  In 1985, the national chairs of the Democratic and Republican parties, Paul Kirk and Frank Fahrenkopf, signed a remarkable agreement that referred to future debates as “nationally televised joint appearances conducted between the presidential and vice-presidential nominees of the two major political parties … It is our conclusion that future joint appearances should be principally and jointly sponsored and conducted by the Republican and Democratic Committees.”

— “Exclude Third-Party Candidates”: In February 1987, Democratic Party chair Kirk and GOP chair Fahrenkopf together issued a press release and held a D.C. news conference to announce the formation of the Commission on Presidential Debates (“Commission on Joint Appearances” apparently didn’t sound right) — with themselves as co-chairs. The press release called the new group “bipartisan.” According to the New York Times, Fahrenkopf indicated at the news conference that the CPD was “not likely to look with favor on including third-party candidates in the debates.” The Times reported: “Mr. Kirk was less equivocal, saying he personally believed the panel should exclude third party candidates from the debates.” The newspaper quoted Kirk: “As a party chairman, it’s my responsibility to strengthen the two-party system.”

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