News Releases

Trump Advisor Who Played Key Role in Iraq Occupation

screenshot-2016-11-18-13-34-21

TIM SHORROCK, timshorrock [at] gmail.com, @TimothyS
Shorrock is a Washington, D.C.-based journalist and the author of Spies for Hire: The Secret World of Intelligence Outsourcing.

He recently wrote the piece “One of Trump’s Top Military Advisers Played a Key Role in the Disastrous Iraq Occupation,” which states: “So far, little attention has been paid to a retired Army lieutenant general, Joseph ‘Keith’ Kellogg, one of Trump’s closest military and foreign-policy advisers. Kellogg is a former contracting executive who is considered a front-runner for a senior position at the Pentagon. He has been among the small group of advisers seen entering and leaving Trump Tower this week. …

“Kellogg played a critical role in the disastrous U.S. occupation of Iraq as the director of operations of the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA), which ran the country after the 2003 invasion. Since leaving the military, he has been deeply involved in the high-tech, computer-driven style of warfare that has spawned the enormous business complex of contractors and suppliers that ring Washington, D.C, from the CIA to the National Security Agency. …

“Until recently, Kellogg worked as vice president of strategic initiatives for Cubic Corp., which provides ground combat training and other technical support to the Pentagon. Before that, Kellogg was the president of Abraxas, a highly secretive subsidiary of Cubic that was founded by retired CIA operatives. …

“From 2005 to 2009, Kellogg was a top executive with CACI International, one of the companies that supplied interrogators who abused and tortured Iraqi prisoners at the U.S. military prison at Abu Ghraib. …

“Last February, in a widely quoted interview on Fox, Trump called the U.S. invasion of Iraq “the worst decision ever made in the history of our country.” In the months that followed, he repeatedly blasted Clinton for supporting the invasion, which — as he rightly argued — planted the seeds for the rise of ISIS, the Islamist terrorist army that U.S., Iraqi, and Kurdish forces are now trying to dislodge from Iraq and Syria. …

“Yet, as a top CPA official, Kellogg played a critical role in the disastrous occupation that helped spawn the insurgent army that later morphed into ISIS. At the CPA, he was the chief operating officer for reconstruction for Paul Bremer, the associate of Henry Kissinger appointed by Bush and Rumsfeld to run the occupation. In that post, Kellogg hired dozens of contractors and staffers — many of them young right-wing ideologues from Washington — to award construction contracts.”

Trump’s Threat to Liberty, Enabled by Bush and Obama

EVAN GREER,  press [at] fightforthefuture.org, @evan_greer
Greer is campaign director for the digital rights group Fight for the Future and a transgender activist. TIME magazine recently published her piece “President Obama Should Shut Down the NSA’s Mass Spying Before It’s Too Late.” See also: UnPlugTheNSA.org.

PETER VAN BUREN, petermarkvanburen [at] yahoo.com, @WeMeantWell
Van Buren is a 24-year veteran of the State Department and author of We Meant Well: How I Helped Lose the Battle for the Hearts and Minds of the Iraqi People. He just wrote the piece “What Trump Could Do With Executive Power” for The American Conservative.

He writes: “The dangers many are now predicting under the Trump administration did not start on November 8. The near-unrestrained executive power claimed by the Obama administration, and issues left unresolved from the Bush administration, will be handed to the president-elect. Here’s what that means.

Torture: Obama did not prosecute or discipline anyone for torturing people on behalf of the people of the United States. He did not hold any truth commissions, and ensured almost all of the significant government documents on the torture program remain classified. He did not prosecute the Central Intelligence Agency official who willfully destroyed video tapes of the torture scenes. The president has not specifically outlawed secret prisons and renditions, just suspended their use. …

Assassinations: Obama legalized, formalized, and normalized drone assassinations on a global scale, including the killing of American citizens without due process in direct violation of the Fifth Amendment, on the president’s order alone. The only real restraint he imposed was self-restraint. But when you leave a door open, you never know who will walk in. …

Guantanamo: Obama never closed the extra-legal prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, as he promised. He could have, simply by depopulating it regardless of what Congress might have said. …

Espionage Act: Obama prosecuted more federal whistleblowers under the Espionage Act than all previous United States presidents combined. He sent to jail people who exposed torture and people who allegedly leaked information to journalists showing American complicity in dangerous acts abroad. He had Chelsea Manning prosecuted for exposing war crimes in Iraq. He used the Espionage Act to destroy the lives of others who under any definition except his own would be considered political heroes. …

Freedom of Information Act: The Obama administration set a record (77 percent) for redacting government files or denying access to them in fiscal year 2014 under the Freedom of Information Act. …

National Security Agency: Obama never realistically reigned in the National Security Agency after the Bush-era Patriot Act allowed them to turn surveillance tools on the homeland. The president, following his predecessor, kept this spying largely secret until whistleblower Edward Snowden exposed it.”

Pompeo at CIA: Iran Belligerence, Pro-Torture, Pro-Surveillance

congress-benghazi2-1Donald Trump’s reported nominee for CIA director, Rep. Mike Pompeo, tweeted on Thursday about Iran: “I look forward to rolling back this disastrous deal with the world’s largest state sponsor of terrorism.”

McClatchy reports that “Rep. Mike Pompeo wants to revive mass surveillance program.” McClatchy also reports: “In a statement after the 2014 release of the Senate’s report on the CIA’s interrogation practices, Pompeo said they were lawful, and sharply criticized the report’s author, Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California, then chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee. … Pompeo has also served on the special House committee that investigated the September 2012 attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya. … Pompeo helped prepare Pence for the vice presidential debate with Sen. Tim Kaine of Virginia.” The Intercept reports: “Obama Refuses to Pardon Edward Snowden. Trump’s New CIA Pick Wants Him Dead” and “Donald Trump Hopes to Abolish Intelligence Chief Position, Reverse CIA Reforms.”

[Trump is also reportedly nominating Sen. Jeff Sessions for Attorney General. In “The Sessions Nomination and the ‘Emergency Exception,’” Marcy Wheeler notes that Sessions backed legislation that “would have created a black hole of surveillance, in which authorities could obtain content simply by declaring an emergency. … All Trump’s named nominees thus far save Reince Preibus couch their racism in terms of claims of ’emergency.’ Those claims, tied to Sessions’ views on legal process, would make for an unchecked executive.”]

MELVIN GOODMAN, goody789[at]verizon.net
Goodman is author of the forthcoming Whistleblower at the CIA. Goodman is director of the National Security Project at the Center for International Policy. He was an analyst at the CIA for 24 years, including as chief and senior analyst at the Office of Soviet Affairs for a decade. His books include Failure of Intelligence: The Decline and Fall of the CIA and National Insecurity: The Cost of American Militarism. He has been featured on prior Institute for Public Accuracy news releases, including “Benghazi: Was the Consulate a CIA Front?

Climate Talks and Cities

DAPHNE WYSHAM, [in Marrakech], daphne.wysham [at] gmail.com, also via [in New York], Stephen Kent, skent [at] kentcom.com
Currently at the climate talks in Morocco at the COP22 (Conference of the Parties), Wysham is an Institute for Policy Studies associate fellow, and is the director of the Center for Sustainable Economy’s climate and energy program in Portland, Oregon.

She recently wrote the piece “In Bleak Times, This City Is an Example for the World,” which states: “With Donald Trump’s ascendancy, and his pledge to withdraw from the Paris Agreement, the world is back to an uncertain climate future.

“While some mourn the possibility that the Paris Agreement will be undone, it’s important to remember that it was always aspirational.

“After all, the deal offers no timetable for ratcheting down consumption of fossil fuels, and no sanctions for countries that fail to meet targets. The deal promises a small amount of assistance to developing countries fighting climate change, but most of that is merely repackaged development aid.

“More frighteningly still, the world’s existing fossil fuel infrastructure and proven wells and mines will sail us right past the 2 degree upper limit if they’re all exploited.

“So what’s to be done?

“One path forward is emerging from the clear-eyed citizens of Portland, Oregon, who are pioneering a more proactive, locally-led path forward.

“A year ago, Portland’s city council unanimously voted to “actively oppose expansion of infrastructure whose primary purpose is transporting or storing fossil fuels in or through Portland or adjacent waterways.”

“Its city leaders took this step as much out of a desire to protect their own health and safety as out of a desire to act on climate change.

“Much of Portland’s fossil fuel infrastructure lies in an industrial zone that, should an earthquake come, would rapidly turn to Jell-O. And oil train derailments — like the one earlier this year in nearby Mosier, Oregon — can cause out-of-control blazes.

“Respect for indigenous communities is another factor. The Standing Rock Sioux’s protest against the Dakota Access Pipeline is a reminder that Native treaty rights are routinely flouted by the fossil fuel industry. It happens here in the Northwest, too.

“But climate science is the central piece. A recent study found that if we are to maintain a mere 66 percent chance to avoid passing that 2 degree limit, no more new major fossil fuel infrastructure can be built.”

Will Trump Keep Promise to Get Rid of “Common Core”?

DIANE RAVITCH, gardendr [at] gmail.com, @DianeRavitch
Ravitch is author of many books, including Reign of Error: The Hoax of the Privatization Movement and the Danger to America’s Public Schools and The Death and Life of the Great American School System: How Testing and Choice Are Undermining Education. She is a research professor of education at New York University and served as Assistant Secretary of Education and Counselor to the Secretary of Education from 1991-1993 under the George H. W. Bush administration. She now blogs at dianeravitch.net.

She just wrote the piece “Trump Education Policy,” which states: “Education was not a subject of great importance during the recent Presidential campaign. It did not come up during the debates and was not often mentioned during the general election. Hillary Clinton ran with the strong support of the two national teachers’ unions and promised to support schools and teachers. Donald Trump announced his education policy while visiting a for-profit charter school in Ohio. He pledged to divert $20 billion in federal funds for school choice, whether charters or vouchers for religious schools. He also promised on several occasions to ‘get rid of’ Common Core, the controversial standards that were widely adopted by the states during Obama’s second term.”There has been widespread speculation about who might be picked as Secretary of Education. And there has been widespread speculation about whether the Trump administration would either trim the Department of Education or eliminate it altogether.

“Some of the names that have been prominently mentioned are Michelle Rhee, former chancellor of the public schools of the District of Columbia; Eva Moskowitz, chief executive officer of the Success Academy charter schools in New York City; and Williamson (Bill) Evers of the Hoover Institution. …

“The Common Core divides these three candidates. Rhee and Moskowitz are strong supporters of the Common Core, which they implemented in the schools they have commanded. Breitbart News has already reported that parents who supported Trump are worried that he might back down on his opposition to Common Core by appointing either of them.

“If President-elect Trump wants to take a swat at the teachers’ unions and supporters of public schools, he can’t go wrong with Rhee or Moskowitz. If he wants to show his determination to remove federal support for Common Core, Evers is a good bet. …

“Trump has declared his determination to privatize public schools, to the extent that federal funds can encourage that outcome. No high-performing nation in the world has privatized its public schools; all have strong and equitably resourced public schools, staffed by certified teachers, not well-meaning amateurs. The two nations that did buy into the free-market privatization ideology — Sweden and Chile — have regretted it. Instead of better education, they got greater segregation of students by race, income, religion, and social status.

“The threat to public schools is real under a Trump administration. In the recent election, voters in Massachusetts and Georgia overwhelmingly defeated ballot measures to increase the number of charter schools. Trump won Georgia, but the voters of Georgia turned down the same education proposal that Trump wants to fund.

“Under the terms of current law, states have the power to decide how to use federal funds that are not tied to a mandatory program. If Trump releases $20 billion to the states, it will be left to governors and legislatures to decide whether to protect their public schools. Some deeply conservative states might decide to side with privatization, but it is not at all clear that the parents and local school districts will go along, even in Republican-controlled states.” See Ravitch’s full piece at accuracy.org/blog.

National Popular Vote Needs 105 Electoral Votes to Work

map-2016-campaign-events-v1-2016-11-7PAT ROSENSTIEL, pat[at]ainsleyshea.com
Rosenstiel is with the group National Popular Vote. The group advocates for the National Popular Vote bill, which “would guarantee the Presidency to the candidate who receives the most popular votes nationwide (i.e., all 50 states and the District of Columbia).

“It has been enacted into law in 11 states with 165 electoral votes, and will take effect when enacted by states with 105 more electoral votes. Most recently, the bill was passed by a bipartisan 40-16 vote in the Republican-controlled Arizona House, 28-18 in Republican-controlled Oklahoma Senate, 57-4 in Republican-controlled New York Senate, and 37-21 in Democratic-controlled Oregon House.”

The group also notes that “On ‘Sixty Minutes’ … President-elect Trump said: ‘I would rather see it, where you went with simple votes. You know, you get 100 million votes, and somebody else gets 90 million votes, and you win. There’s a reason for doing this. Because it brings all the states into play.’

“State winner-take-all laws are the reason why the vast majority of voters and states are not in play in presidential campaigns. The vast majority of states and the vast majority of voters are ignored because candidates only campaign in a handful of closely divided ‘battleground’ states. Candidates write off states where they are hopelessly behind. They take for granted states where they are safely ahead. In the 2016 general-election campaign:

“Over half of the campaign events (57 percent of the 399 events) were held in just four states (Florida, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Ohio).

“Virtually all of the campaign events (94 percent) were in just 12 states (containing only 30 percent of the country’s population).”

See the status of the National Popular Vote bill in each state.

Will Trump Break His Pledge to “Drain the Swamp”?

untitled-ffffRICK CLAYPOOL, rclaypool [at] citizen.org, via Karilyn Gower, kgower [at] citizen.org, @RickClaypool
Claypool is research director for Public Citizen’s president’s office. He just wrote the report “Donald Trump, Clean Government Reformer?” which compiles promises from Trump on clean government and economic policy.

The report highlights the closing Trump campaign ad, in which he states: “Our movement is about replacing a failed and corrupt political establishment with a new government controlled by you, the American people.” Just some of the many other Trump statements the report highlights:

“I will Make Our Government Honest Again — believe me. But first, I’m going to have to #DrainTheSwamp in D.C.”

“I am going to expand the definition of LOBBYIST – so we close all the LOOPHOLES!”

“I am going to ask my senior officials to sign an agreement not to accept speaking fees from corporations with a registered lobbyist for five years after leaving office, or from any entity tied to a foreign government.”

“The rich will pay their fair share, but no one will pay so much that it destroys jobs, or undermines our ability to compete. As part of this reform, we will eliminate the Carried Interest Deduction and other special interest loopholes that have been so good for Wall Street investors, and people like me, but unfair to American workers.”

“We have an amazing tax plan. We’re going to be reducing taxes for the middle class, but for the hedge fund guys, they’re going to be paying up.”

“There is total control of the candidates, I know it better than anybody that probably ever lived. And I will tell you this, I know the system far better than anybody else and I know the system is broken. And I’m the one, because I know it so well because I was on both sides of it, I was on the other side all my life and I’ve always made large contributions.

“And frankly, I know the system better than anybody else and I’m the only one up here that’s going to be able to fix that system because that system is wrong.”

“We can’t fix a rigged system by relying on the people who rigged it in the first place. We can’t solve our problems by relying on the politicians who created them. Only by changing to new leadership, and new solutions, will we get new results. We need to stop believing in politicians, and start believing in America. Before everything great that has ever happened, the doubters have always said it couldn’t be done.”

 

Trump Treasury Pick: Was This Election Goldman vs. Sachs?

680x-1

Bloomberg reports: “Mnuchin Said to Be Top Treasury Pick Among Trump’s Advisers” which states: “Former Goldman Sachs Group Inc. partner Steven Mnuchin has been recommended by Donald Trump’s transition team to serve as Treasury secretary, according to two people familiar with the process, and the choice is awaiting the president-elect’s final decision.

“Mnuchin, the campaign’s national finance chairman, has been considered the leading candidate for the job. Trump has displayed a pattern of loyalty to his closest campaign allies in early administration selections, and Mnuchin, 53, had signed on at a time when many from Wall Street stayed away.

“Before joining Trump, Mnuchin rose through the kind of elite institutions the president-elect spent his campaign vilifying. Mnuchin was tapped into Yale’s Skull and Bones secret society, became a Goldman Sachs partner like his father before him, ran a hedge fund, worked with George Soros, funded Hollywood blockbusters and bought a failed bank, IndyMac, with billionaires including John Paulson. They renamed it OneWest, drew protests for foreclosing on U.S. borrowers, and ultimately generated considerable profits, selling the business last year to CIT Group Inc. for $3.4 billion.

“Mnuchin, who co-founded hedge fund Dune Capital Management LP, was seen at Trump Tower on Monday. …

“Mnuchin would become the third former Goldman Sachs executive to head the Treasury since the mid-1990s. Robert Rubin and Hank Paulson both ran the Wall Street firm before becoming Treasury chiefs under presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, respectively. …

“On Sunday, Trump named another Goldman alumnus, the former Breitbart News chief Steve Bannon, to one of his top posts in his White House, chief strategist and senior counselor. …

“In October 2011 about 100 protesters marched on his Los Angeles mansion, angry about foreclosures. ‘Steve Mnuchin,’ one sign read, ‘Stop taking our homes.’ He and his partners completed the bank’s sale in August 2015.

“California Reinvestment Coalition deputy director Kevin Stein, whose group has accused OneWest of particularly aggressive foreclosure practices, criticized Mnuchin’s legacy on Monday.

“‘Mr. Mnuchin oversaw a foreclosure machine,’ Stein said in an e-mail. Taking the brunt were ‘working-class families, communities of color and seniors.'”

BART NAYLOR, via Don Owens, dowens[at]citizen.org; Angela Bradbery, abradbery[at]citizen.org, @BartNaylor
Naylor is financial policy advocate with Public Citizen’s Congress Watch Division.

The group just released a statement: “Fox in the Henhouse: Leading Trump Candidate for Treasury Said to Be Former Goldman Sachs Partner With Ties to Great Recession,” which states: ‘According to media reports, former Goldman Sachs Group Inc. partner Steven Mnuchin is the leading candidate to serve as U.S. Treasury secretary as Trump nears his final decision. Mnuchin has served as Trump’s chief fundraiser since this summer. Mnuchin, described in some reports as an “an investor with so much Wall Street blood in his veins,’ is a former partner at Goldman Sachs, an investment bank that contributed heavily to the financial catastrophe that was the Great Recession of 2008.

“Candidate Trump pledged to tame Wall Street and drain the swamp in Washington, D.C. Instead, President-elect Trump spent last week pouring more sludge in the swamp by naming K Street lobbyists to prominent positions and this week appears ready to put a consummate Wall Street insider, Steven Mnuchin, in charge of the Department of Treasury. Apparently, Trump wants to make America grate again.”

Sanders Delegates Call on Brazile to Resign as DNC Head

The Democratic National Committee has distributed an email to members: “Please join Interim Chair, Donna Brazile on Monday, November 14th at 5 p.m. ET for an important post-election call with President Barack Obama.”

The Bernie Delegates Network reports today: “Hundreds of former Bernie Sanders delegates to the Democratic National Convention have voted overwhelmingly in a straw poll to ‘call for the immediate resignation of Donna Brazile as chair of the Democratic National Committee.’

“The vote, 337 to 13, was 96 percent in favor of urging Brazile to resign. It came in a straw poll by the independent Bernie Delegates Network, which is sponsored by the online activist group RootsAction.org in partnership with Progressive Democrats of America.”

Norman Solomon writes today in The Hill: “For the good of the party: It’s time for Donna Brazile to go,” which states: “At the same time that Brazile was publicly claiming to be neutral in the fierce Clinton-Sanders primary battle, she was using her job as a CNN political analyst to give the Clinton campaign advance notice of questions that would be asked during a CNN debate between the two candidates.

“Yet Brazile seems tone deaf about her integrity breach — just as the Democratic Party establishment has been tone deaf about the corrosive effects of servicing Wall Street and wealthy contributors.”

The Washington Post reported on Nov. 7: “Donna Brazile is not apologizing for leaking CNN debate questions and topics to the Hillary Clinton campaign during the Democratic primary. Her only regret, it seems, is that she got caught.”

DONNA SMITH, donna [at] pdamerica.org
Executive director of Progressive Democrats of America, Smith said today: “We believe the DNC chair must reflect the base of the Democratic Party and the mission for which this party long stood. Clearly, when the party leadership failed to conduct itself impartially during the primary season and then failed to defeat the Republican candidate who is the most dangerous demagogue ever elected to the presidency, it is time for Donna Brazile’s resignation.”

Smith added that “the DNC must either change or it will die. And that change starts with Ms. Brazile’s prompt resignation.”

See petition at RootsAction.

Could Movements Use Trump to Stop U.S. Wars?

DIANA JOHNSTONE, diana.johnstone [at] wanadoo.fr
Johnson just wrote the piece “After the Election: Don’t Panic, Think!” for CounterPunch, which states: “In 2016, the fundamentally undemocratic U.S. two-party system presented the public with the two most hated candidates in history. …

“The unexpected shock of Donald Trump’s victory created mass hysteria, with crowds in tears going into the streets to protest — an unprecedented reaction to an uncontested election. This hysterical opposition is not the best basis for building the new movement needed to oppose a widely rejected political establishment. …

“It is significant that the German defense minister Ursula von der Leyen wasted no time in demanding that Trump choose between friendship with [Russian President Vladimir] Putin on the one hand or NATO and ‘our shared values’ on the other. This is a sign that not only the U.S. war party but also the European NATO machine will be putting pressure on Trump to pursue the very same warlike policies favored by Hillary Clinton. And the disappointed Clintonite opposition is likely to be out in the streets not to oppose wars, but to oppose Trump’s opposition to wars, all in the name of our shared democratic humanitarian values and opposition to ‘dictators.’

“This is the danger of hysterical opposition to Trump. It would be a continuation of the worst aspects of this dreadful campaign, totally centered on denouncing individuals, and neglecting serious political questions. A progressive opposition should leave Clintonism behind and develop its own positions, starting with opposition to regime change wars — even if Trump is also against regime change wars. And indeed, it should push Trump to maintain that position, because he will be under strong pressure in Washington to give it up. The opposition should demand that Trump make good on his promise to avoid war, while opposing his reactionary domestic policies. Otherwise, we are heading for the worst of both worlds.”

Johnstone is author of Queen of Chaos: the Misadventures of Hillary Clinton and Fools’ Crusade: Yugoslavia, NATO, and Western Delusions.

Stephen Kinzer, a senior fellow at the Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs at Brown University, recently wrote the piece “Could Trump Reform U.S. Foreign Policy?” for the Boston Globe — which states: “The end of the Cold War obliged the United States to adopt a new foreign policy to deal with new realities. We never did. Instead we lashed out in ways that have weakened our security while wreaking havoc on unfortunate countries. Large numbers of Americans reject this aggressive approach to the world. They want us to concentrate on rebuilding our own declining country. It would be a delicious irony if Trump gives us the post-Cold War foreign policy that we should have adopted a generation ago.”

Correction: An initial version of this incorrectly identified Ursula von der Leyen as the German foreign minister — she is defense minister. 

« Previous PageNext Page »