News Releases

Petition Urges CNN to Add Progressive to Democratic Debate Panel

A petition urging CNN to add a progressive to the Democratic debate panel, signed by more than 9,000 individuals, has been delivered to CNN.

An email from the RootsAction Education Fund promoted the petition and offered historical background. It noted that the media watch group FAIR recently suggested to CNN: “Any number of progressive media outlets could provide qualified journalists — including ‘Democracy Now!,’ The Nation, and The Intercept.”

The petition, with signers and comments from signers, can be found here.

JEFF COHEN, jeff at rootsaction.org

Cohen is co-founder of the RootsAction Education Fund, which has petitioned CNN. He also founded the media watch group FAIR.

    He said today: “CNN knows it has a double-standard. At all four of CNN’s 2015-16 GOP presidential debates, CNN added unabashed, non-objective right-wing journalists to its panels — which led to questions and viewpoints being aired that otherwise would not have been. Yet, CNN is so far refusing to add unapologetic progressive journalists, whether from ‘Democracy Now,’ The Nation, The Intercept or other respected outlets of the left. This double-standard should not be tolerated by progressive activists or the Democratic Party.

    “Since CNN seems unwilling to remedy this double-standard on its own, it’s time that the Democratic National Committee demand that mainstream TV networks add journalists from progressive outlets or lose their ability to host debates.

    “When I headed the media watch group FAIR in the 1980s and ‘90s, we documented CNN’s history of favoring voices of the hard right while generally shunning forceful leftists, typified by programs like ‘Crossfire’ that pitted hardcore rightists such as Buchanan, Novak and Sununu against weak, back-pedaling liberals.

    “By refusing to broaden its Democratic debate panels to include progressive journalists whose views better reflect the Democratic Party’s base, CNN is reminding everyone of this history of favoring unapologetic rightists over unapologetic leftists. And only the unmoored screamers of Fox News believe Tapper, Lemon and Bash are ‘unapologetic leftists.'”

House Condemns Boycotts for Palestinian Rights

Dome of US Capitol against stormy skyJOSH RUEBNER, josh at progressupconsulting.com, @joshruebner
Ruebner is author of the books Israel: Democracy or Apartheid State? and Shattered Hopes: Obama’s Failure to Broker Israeli-Palestinian Peace.

He just wrote the piece “U.S. House of Representatives condemns boycotts for Palestinian rights” for the Electronic Intifada.

Ruebner writes: “The U.S. House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed a nonbinding resolution Tuesday evening condemning people for exercising their constitutional right to engage in boycotts in support of Palestinian rights.

“The resolution, H.Res.246, passed by a vote of 398-17 with five representatives abstaining and 12 not voting.

“The resolution puts the House of Representatives on record as opposing ‘the Global Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions Movement (BDS Movement) targeting Israel, including efforts to target United States companies that are engaged in commercial activities that are legal under United States law, and all efforts to delegitimize the State of Israel.’ …

“All but one of the representatives who voted against the resolution are Democrats. They included a mix of longtime proponents of Palestinian rights such as Minnesota’s Betty McCollum, Indiana’s André Carson and Barbara Lee of California. …

“According to McCollum, a last-minute addition to the resolution was made affirming the constitutional ‘right to protest or criticize the policies of the United States or a foreign government.’ However, even if the resolution only violated the spirit of the Constitution and not necessarily its letter, its proponents left no doubt that its passage would serve as a stepping stone to harsher and more brazenly unconstitutional legislation to penalize and criminalize BDS. New York Congressman Eliot Engel, the chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, made clear that he would tolerate only individual, and not collective, efforts to boycott for Palestinian rights. …

“First-term representatives such as Rashida Tlaib, the Palestinian American Congress member from Michigan, Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, Chuy Garcia of Illinois and New York’s Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez all voted against the motion as well.” Those voting for the resolution included Reps. Ayanna Pressley, Tulsi Gabbard and Ro Khanna.

Also see from Wednesday: “U.S. Blocks UN Security Council Rebuke of Israel Demolishing Palestinian Homes.”

See from early this year, IPA news release: “Senate Job One: Attack First Amendment Rights of Israel Critics.”

Questions for Mueller

Robert MuellerAARON MATÉ, aaronmate at gmail.com, @PushbackShow
Maté just wrote the piece “These Questions for Mueller Show Why Russiagate Was Never the Answer” for The Nation. He also produced a video segment on questions for Mueller for his new program “Pushback w/ Aaron Maté” from the Grayzone Project.

Following are the questions; the article contains explanations about them:

1. “Why did you suggest that juvenile clickbait from a Russian troll farm was part of a “sweeping and systematic” Russian government interference effort?

2. “Are you still convinced that the GRU [Russian military intelligence] stole Democratic Party e-mails and transferred them to Wikileaks?

3. “Why didn’t you interview Julian Assange?

4. “Why did you imply that key figures were Russian agents, and leave out countervailing information, including their (more) extensive Western ties?

5. “Why did you indict several Trump officials for perjury, but not Joseph Mifsud?

6. “Why did you omit the fact that Rob Goldstone’s offer to Donald Jr. — ‘official documents and information that would incriminate Hillary and her dealings with Russia’ as ‘part of Russia and its government’s support for Mr. Trump’ — was ‘publicist puff’ (in other words, a lie)?

7. “Did the Trump campaign receive any Russian government offers of assistance from anyone actually acting on behalf of the Russian government?

8. “Were U.S. intelligence officials compromised by Russophobia?”

Maté recently won the Park Center for Independent Media at Ithaca College’s Izzy Award (named after I. F. Stone) for “meticulous reporting” that “consistently challenged the way the public was being informed about the Mueller investigation and related issues.” His first pieces on the subject were in 2017 and included, for The Nation: “Stop With the Conspiracy Theories — Trump Is Bad Enough” and “Russiagate Is More Fiction Than Fact.” He was regularly featured by accuracy.org on some of the scores of news releases that debunked and scrutinized numerous aspects of Russiagate.

Maté recently wrote the piece “CrowdStrikeOut: Mueller’s Own Report Undercuts Its Core Russia-Meddling Claims” for Real Clear Investigations.

Rowley on Ruling Against Mueller’s Anti-Russian Charges

Attorneys Eric Dubelier, right, and Katherine Seikaly, left, representing Concord Management and Consulting LLC, walk out of federal court in Washington on May 9, 2018, after pleading not guilty on behalf of the company, which has been charged as part of a conspiracy to meddle in the 2016 US presidential election. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

COLEEN ROWLEY, rowleyclan at earthlink.net, @ColeenRowley
Rowley, a retired FBI special agent and division legal counsel whose May 2002 memo to then-FBI Director Robert Mueller exposed some of the FBI’s pre-9/11 failures, was named one of TIME magazine’s “Persons of the Year” in 2002.

In 2017, she warned of people putting their trust in “Russia-gate’s Mythical ‘Heroes’” — former FBI Directors Robert Mueller and James Comey.

She stresses now that most major media are ignoring a judge’s ruling against Mueller from earlier this month regarding his allegations of Russian election interference. See from Courthouse News Service “Judge Sides With Indicted Russian Firm on Mueller Report’s Harm.” Judge Dabney L. Friedrich ruled on July 1 that the Court “has entered an order limiting public statements about this case moving forward and cautions the government that any future violations of that order will trigger a range of potential sanctions.”

Rowley said today: “While Mueller has made clear his intention to not extrapolate beyond his report, Democrats hope pointed questions during testimony will offer new context that could deal a blow to Trump.

“Mueller was explicit that he cannot go beyond the exact words in the Report, but he actually can probably no longer do that. If he re-states his allegations against the clickbait operation the Internet Research Agency (connected to Concord Management and Consulting), being connected to the Russian government, he risks being held in criminal contempt.

“Mueller is actually under a duty to correct the false impression he and Attorney General Barr previously gave. [Barr has thanked Mueller for ‘exposing the nature of Russia’s attempts to interfere in our electoral process.’]

“This may be why Mueller asked for extra time to prepare. Unfortunately neither political party has much incentive to tear down the ‘Russiagate’ demonization narrative that serves the Pentagon and MIC [military industrial complex] plans.

“So it will be interesting to see if any Congresspersons even bring up this newly emerged fly in the ointment. The politicians may even help Mueller out by phrasing their questions where he doesn’t have to directly come out and say he has no proof that the Russians he indicted for ‘sowing discord’ in the U.S. were linked to the Kremlin.”

Rowley has appeared on several of the scores of accuracy.org news releases debunking and questioning various aspects of Russiagate the last several years including, recently: “Mueller and Barr’s Real History of Cover-ups,” “Rowley Scrutinizes Mueller’s Statement” and, from 2017, “9/11 Whistleblower Rowley on Mueller’s History of ‘Cover-up.’

Last week, Republican Congressman Scott Perry seemed to call Sen. Joseph McCarthy a “great senator” — saying regardless of whether “you liked his methods or not, that a great senator tried to point out the communist interference in our government.” Perry stressed that he wanted to “acknowledge and thank” Democrats for recognizing the Russian “threat and being willing to do something about it. We applaud you and we are with you.” See video.

“Mueller’s Own Report Undercuts Its Core Russia-Meddling Claims”

Former FBI head Robert Mueller is finally scheduled to testify about his Russiagate report on Wednesday. While many were blindsided by Mueller’s conclusion of no collusion, many are now ignoring the story: “Judge Sides With Indicted Russian Firm on Mueller Report’s Harm,” see below.

AARON MATÉ, aaronmate at gmail.com, @aaronjmate

Maté recently won the Park Center for Independent Media at Ithaca College’s Izzy Award (named after I. F. Stone) for “meticulous reporting” that “consistently challenged the way the public was being informed about the Mueller investigation and related issues.” His first pieces on the subject were in 2017 and included, for The Nation: “Stop With the Conspiracy Theories — Trump Is Bad Enough” and “Russiagate Is More Fiction Than Fact.” He was regularly featured by accuracy.org on some of the scores of news releases that debunked and scrutinized numerous aspects of Russiagate.

He just wrote the piece “CrowdStrikeOut: Mueller’s Own Report Undercuts Its Core Russia-Meddling Claims,” which states: “While the 448-page Mueller report found no conspiracy between Donald Trump’s campaign and Russia, it offered voluminous details to support the sweeping conclusion that the Kremlin worked to secure Trump’s victory. …

“But a close examination of the report shows that none of those headline assertions are supported by the report’s evidence or other publicly available sources. They are further undercut by investigative shortcomings and the conflicts of interest of key players involved:

* “The report uses qualified and vague language to describe key events, indicating that Mueller and his investigators do not actually know for certain whether Russian intelligence officers stole Democratic Party emails, or how those emails were transferred to WikiLeaks.

* “The report’s timeline of events appears to defy logic. According to its narrative, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange announced the publication of Democratic Party emails not only before he received the documents but before he even communicated with the source that provided them.

* “There is strong reason to doubt Mueller’s suggestion that an alleged Russian cutout called Guccifer 2.0 supplied the stolen emails to Assange.

* “Mueller’s decision not to interview Assange — a central figure who claims Russia was not behind the hack — suggests an unwillingness to explore avenues of evidence on fundamental questions. …”

Maté stresses: “In a newly unsealed July 1 ruling, a federal judge rebuked Mueller and the Justice Department for having ‘improperly suggested a link’ between the IRA [Internet Research Agency] and the Russian government. U.S. District Judge Dabney Friedrich said Mueller’s February 2018 indictment ‘does not link the [IRA] to the Russian government’ and alleges ‘only private conduct by private actors.’ The judge added the government’s statements violate a prohibiting lawyers from making claims that would prejudice a case.”

Progressive Groups “Urgently” Ask for a Meeting with Pelosi

Expressing “deep concern” about House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s recent comments disparaging four progressive first-term congresswomen, a coalition of organizations with active support from nearly 10 million Americans has “urgently” requested a meeting with her “to discuss possibilities for turning a corner.”

“Dismissive comments about new progressive members of Congress have given the impression of a disdainful attitude toward like-minded progressives and Democratic activists across the country,” the groups said in a letter released today after delivery to Pelosi’s office at the Capitol on Wednesday.

The letter was signed by six national organizations — Demand Progress, Democracy for America, Just Foreign Policy, Our Revolution, Progressive Democrats of America and RootsAction.org. It was also signed by the largest caucus of the biggest state party, the Progressive Caucus of the California Democratic Party.

“Going forward, it is imperative that your role — not only toward those individual legislators, but also toward many millions of Americans who share their transformational outlooks — now include mitigating the damage from those comments and providing the caliber of leadership needed at this fateful historic moment,” the groups told Pelosi.

The letter added: “At a time when flagrant institutionalized cruelty, racism, xenophobia, misogyny and other forms of bigotry have reached new depths from Republican leaders, we can ill afford the slightest wavering from unequivocal opposition to such extremism. Efforts to strengthen our resolve should be welcomed.”

Noting that “the ultimate fate of legislative and electoral efforts will depend on active support from millions of people at the grassroots,” the groups wrote that “we respectfully request a meeting with you in Washington before the end of this month to discuss these pressing concerns.”

The letter was accepted by a legislative aide in Speaker Pelosi’s office at 9 a.m. on Wednesday. No response has been received yet.

The full letter can be seen here.

“Official Secrets” Highlights Lies of Iraq War

The film “Official Secrets” is premiering in Washington, D.C. and New York City this week. It is set for general release on August 30; see trailer.

The film stars Keira Knightley who plays Katharine Gun, a former analyst for GCHQ, the British equivalent of the secretive National Security Agency. She tried to stop the impending invasion of Iraq in early 2003 by exposing George W. Bush and Tony Blair governmental deceit in their claims about Iraq.

Gun was charged under the repressive Official Secrets Act for exposing — before the invasion of Iraq — a secret U.S. government memo showing it was mounting a spying “surge” against U.N. Security Council delegations in an effort to force approval for an Iraq war resolution. The leaked memo was big news in parts of the world. The U.S. government then failed to get the U.N. resolution, but launched the invasion anyway, withdrawing the weapons inspectors and issuing a unilateral demand that Saddam Hussein leave Iraq in 48 hours — and then saying the invasion would commence regardless.

Among the issues raised by the film:

* While the U.S. and British governments and their supporters were claiming they were trying to avoid war with Iraq, they were actually not only falsifying for war, but engaging in illegal activity to ensure war. Joe Biden, then chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, claimed at the time: “I do not believe this is a rush to war. I believe it is a march to peace and security.”

* Dan Ellsberg: “No one else — including myself – has ever done what Katharine Gun did: Tell secret truths at personal risk, before an imminent war, in time, possibly, to avert it. Hers was the most important — and courageous — leak I’ve ever seen, more timely and potentially more effective than the Pentagon Papers.”

* It was the official view of the British government that the invasion of Iraq was illegal without the U.N.’s approval, but it concocted a fringe legal case for war when pressured by the Bush administration. The British government — unlike the U.S. government — did ultimately produce a study ostensibly around the decision-making leading to the invasion of Iraq (the Chilcot Report in 2016) but that report incredibly made no mention of the Gun case. See IPA release from 2016: “Chilcot Report Avoids Smoking Gun.”

* The U.S. and British governments use surveillance powers largely not as advertised, to protect against terrorist attacks, but often for Machiavellian goals, including launching an illegal war.

* The film does not explicitly address, but gets at the complicity of governments, international institutions, major media, alleged political opposition figures and others in the launching of the Iraq invasion. In the U.S., that included media figures from Judith Miller to Tim Russert, political figures who included not just Bush administration officials, but also Democrats such as Joe BidenJohn Kerry and Nancy Pelosi.

The Institute for Public Accuracy covered the Gun revelations from the beginning (see overview page) and organized a statement signed by various notables calling for the British government to drop the charges against her. “Official Secrets” highlights that ultimately the charges were dropped against Gun — to spare the British government a trial that might further expose the lies leading to war.

Gun remarked at the D.C. premiere that she was influenced by having read the book Target Iraq, which was co-written by IPA Executive Director Norman Solomon and released just before she exposed the memo in early 2003.

See articles by staff of the Institute:

By Norman Solomon: “To Stop War, Do What Katharine Gun Did

By Sam Husseini: “Katharine Gun’s Risky Truth-telling

Also see past IPA news releases from before the invasion including: “White House Claims: A Pattern of Deceit,” “Bush’s War Case: Fiction vs. Facts,” “U.S. Credibility Problems” and “Tough Questions for Bush on Iraq Tonight.”

Venezuela: “Humanitarian Intervention” That Isn’t

The Los Angeles Times reports in “Trump administration diverts Central America aid to U.S.-backed opposition in Venezuela” that: “The Trump administration plans to divert more than $40 million in humanitarian aid from Central America to the U.S.-backed opposition in Venezuela, according to an internal memo and interviews.

“The memo, dated July 11 and obtained by The Times, is a notification to Congress from the U.S. Agency for International Development that the money is going to Venezuela in response to an ‘exigent’ crisis involving U.S. ‘national interest.’

“The U.S. has been an ardent supporter of forces attempting to oust the leftist government of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro and now recognizes his challenger, opposition leader Juan Guaido, as the legitimate ruler of the besieged nation.

“All of the money being diverted will go to Guaido and his faction, the memo said, to pay for their salaries, airfare, ‘good governance’ training, propaganda, technical assistance for holding elections and other ‘democracy-building’ projects.

“The $41.9 million had been destined for Guatemala and Honduras, two of three countries in Central America’s so-called Northern Triangle, an impoverished and violence-ridden region that accounts for the majority of migrants now fleeing to the United States.”

DAN KOVALIK, dkovalik at outlook.com, @danielmkovalik
Kovalik is author of the just-released book The Plot To Overthrow Venezuela, which has a foreword by Oliver Stone.

Kovalik said today: “Again, we see that the claim of ‘humanitarian intervention’ in Venezuela is nothing but a fig leaf for imperial designs aimed at stealing Venezuela’s oil. As a recent study by the Center for Economic and Policy Research, co-authored by economist Jeffrey Sachs, concluded, U.S. sanctions since August of 2017 have killed over 40,000 Venezuelans and will kill even more this year. Yet, the U.S. continue to ratchet up these sanctions, even attempting to sanction Venezuela’s food-distribution system known as CLAP [Local Supply and Production Committees]. The U.S. is simply running the same game plan of regime change it has since its coup in Iran in 1953 — starve out the target country and then blame it for starving.

“And now, we see the U.S. diverting much-needed humanitarian aid for Central America — a region greatly in need of such aid given the U.S.’s ravaging of that region with war and death squads — to the Venezuelan opposition. And, it is doing so despite recent revelations that the opposition forces it is supporting have themselves diverted aid to such things as luxury hotels, clothing and their own pockets. No, this is not a humanitarian intervention in Venezuela — it is an old-time stick-up which must be opposed.”

Background accuracy.org news release: “Will Elliott Abrams, ‘Abettor of Genocide,’ do to Venezuela What He did to Guatemala?

Epstein: Protected Because He Is a Spy? — A Backgrounder

Vicky Ward, who tried to report on Jeffrey Epstein’s criminality as early as 2003, recently wrote that Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta “cut the non-prosecution deal with one of Epstein’s attorneys because he had ‘been told’ to back off, that Epstein was above his pay grade. ‘I was told Epstein “belonged to intelligence” and to leave it alone,’ he told his interviewers in the Trump transition, who evidently thought that was a sufficient answer and went ahead and hired Acosta. (The Labor Department had no comment when asked about this.)” See Ward’s recent pieces for The Daily Beast: “Jeffrey Epstein’s Sick Story Played Out for Years in Plain Sight” and “I Tried to Warn You About Sleazy Billionaire Jeffrey Epstein in 2003.”

The Observer notes that Acosta was asked if Epstein had ties to intelligence agencies at his news conference Wednesday and gave a “a non-denial denial of an epic kind”: “I would [be] hesitant to take this reporting as fact” said Acosta. See “It Sure Looks Like Jeffrey Epstein Was a Spy — But Whose?

Ward charged on “Democracy Now” on Monday: “This is a man who definitely trades in the knowledge he has over the rich and famous, and uses it for leverage. He also introduces rich and famous people, like Bill Clinton, like Donald Trump, to girls.”

Epstein’s associate who allegedly helped connect him with his girl victims is Ghislaine Maxwell. She is the daughter of Robert Maxwell, the media mogul who died under mysterious circumstances in 1991. Investigative reporter Seymour Hersh alleged in his book The Samson Option: Israel’s Nuclear Arsenal and American Foreign Policy that Maxwell was tied to the Israeli Mossad. Hersh was sued for the allegation, but then received an apology.

Attorney General William Barr, who spent years at the CIA, stated he would recuse himself on the Epstein matter on Monday and then reversed himself on Tuesday. Barr helped cover up the Iran-Contra scandal by approving the pardons of Elliott Abrams and other officials who were caught in illegal activity. In 1973, Epstein got his start as a math teacher thanks to Barr’s father, Donald Barr, who was headmaster of the elite Dalton School despite Epstein not having a college degree. His New York Times obituary notes that Donald Barr belonged to the Office of Strategic Services (better known as the OSS, the precursor to the CIA).

Julie K. Brown of the Miami Herald has named two women — Virginia Roberts Giuffre and Sarah Ransome — who say that Epstein, when they were very young, directed them to have sex with Alan Dershowitz. Yet, the New York Times and other media continue to reference and even quote Dershowitz about the case without noting that he has been thus accused. Dershowitz was also one of Esptein’s lawyers when Acosta agreed to the non-prosecution agreement. The Times has recently noted that Dershowitz attacked the Herald‘s reporting in an attempt to deprive them of a Pulitzer. A piece by Annie Karni and Maggie Haberman quoted him saying that if you didn’t know Epstein and Trump in the 80s, “you were a nobody” — again, without noting that Dershowitz has so far been accused by two of Epstein’s victims.

Liaquat Ali Khan, the founder of Legal Scholar Academy, and a professor emeritus at the Washburn Law School interviewed Alan Dershowitz in 2004 and wrote that Dershowitz participated in the “Israeli assassination committee that reviews evidence before terrorists are targeted and killed.” Said Dershowitz: “I actually sat in on one of the committee meetings.”

Military Spending: * Pentagon’s Massive Accounting Scandal * Backing Saudi Aggression in Yemen

Lindorff-Pentagon-Juhasz_imgCongress has begun debating a military spending bill of more than $730 billion. See Politico‘s breakdown of amendments.

DAVE LINDORFF, dlindorff at gmail.com, @davidlindorff
Lindorff is founder of the independent collectively-run journalists’ news site ThisCantBeHappening.net. He wrote “Exclusive: The Pentagon’s Massive Accounting Scandal Exposed,” a Nation magazine cover story. Earlier this year Lindorff won the “Izzy” award for outstanding independent journalism from the Park Center for Independent Media for “uncovering the opaqueness of Pentagon accounts and bloated military budgets.”

DAVID SEGAL, david at demandprogress.org, @DemandProgress
Segal is executive director of Demand Progress, which just joined with more than 40 groups in a letter “Urging House Leadership NDAA Amendment 339 to Defund U.S. Participation in Yemen War.”

Segal said of the Saudi-led war in Yemen: “Congress has another opportunity to show that it will not stand idly by as the Trump administration acts with impunity — and disregards the war-making authority that the founders vested in the legislative branch — as he facilitates the slaughter of tens of thousands of people, in the name of American allegiance to one of the most vicious regimes on the face of the planet.”

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