Bookshelf update: Sharyl Attkisson’s “Stonewalled”

June 4, 2015

Renaissance scholar astrologer

I’ve updated the “What I’m reading” widget to the right to reflect the latest item on the Public Secrets lectern, Sharyl Attkisson’s “Stonewalled: My Fight for Truth Against the Forces of Obstruction, Intimidation, and Harassment in Obama’s Washington.”

book cover attkisson stonewalled

 

Attkisson is an award-winning investigative journalist who spent roughly 20 years with CBS before leaving in 2014. For her determined pursuit of the truth and information government and corporate officials would rather keep hidden, she’s been called a “bulldog,” a term she regards as a compliment. While Stonewalled deals with the scandals and evasions of the Obama administration and its allies, Attkisson has a reputation as a bipartisan bulldog — a pain in the tuchus to Democrats and Republicans, alike. This is what a good journalist should be.

I’m about half-way through Stonewalled and, so far, it’s been equal parts enjoyable, infuriating, and even frightening. Before discussing scandals such as Fast and Furious and the Obamacare rollout, as well as the almost equally scandalous supine attitude of mainstream journalism toward the administration, Attkisson opens with the story of her discovery that her work and personal computers, and her phone, had been hacked by a government agency during her investigation into the Benghazi massacre. Though she hasn’t yet identified in the book who she believes is responsible, I’ll note that she has filed suit against  the Department of Justice and the US Postal Service. Discovery, as they say should be interesting.

I’m reading her book in Kindle format; it’s also in soft (forthcoming) and hardcover. Regarding the Kindle edition, I’ve spotted just one lone typo and no formatting problems, which is very good for an e-book. Her writing style is straightforward, almost Hemingway-esque in its directness. If Ms. Attkisson reveals any ax to grind, it’s her firm belief that information paid for with taxpayer dollars belongs to the public, not the government.

I’ll post a review when I’ve finished.

PS: Why, yes. This is a shameless bit of shilling on my part. I like getting the occasional gift certificate that comes from people buying stuff via my link. Wouldn’t you?

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Never embarrass Vladimir Putin

March 6, 2015
"I won"

“Leave no witnesses”

Because you won’t get a second chance:

Russian secret services may have executed the troops suspected of shooting down Malaysian Airlines flight MH17, say sources involved in the investigation of the crash over eastern Ukraine.

The Dutch-led probe is leaning towards a conclusion that a BUK missile fired from rebel-held territory downed the Boeing 777, killing all 298 on board.

And it is highly likely the aircraft was shot out of the sky by Russian military personnel, according to a report by the Netherlands’ state broadcaster NOS, citing anonymous sources in the police and the group of investigators working on the probe into the plane’s loss.

‘My sources believe that these people might have changed their identities or even been executed by Russian secret service in order to hide everything,’ said Dutch journalist Robert Bas.

(…)

And they’re taking “active measures” to make sure they know what the investigators know:

Sources close to the investigation also complain they are under siege from persistent attempts by Russian secret services to hack their computer system and plant spyware software on their smartphones, reported NOS.

Phones and laptops used by investigators in Ukraine had to be ‘destroyed’ subsequently because they were infected with spyware, it was claimed.

Even home communications devices of police officers on the investigation were removed because they were ‘contaminated’, it was alleged.

Well, what else would you expect from a country run by an ex-KGB colonel who thinks the fall of the USSR is the great geopolitical catastrophe of the age?

This report shows again that, to use a baseball analogy, we’re dealing with a foe who plays hardball, while our leaders aren’t even playing softball. They’re playing Tee-ball.

Only this game has no “mercy rule.”

 


Is the White House press office hiding Obama’s #Benghazi photos, @PressSec?

December 24, 2014
American Blood, US Consulate, Benghazi

American Blood, US Consulate, Benghazi

That’s the accusation made by investigative reporter Sharyl Attkisson:

“If you know how the White House works, a photographer is omnipresent,” Attkisson said. “He would have been there taking photographs in the Situation Room. He would have been taking photographs of the president that night. So we asked for the photos, which in my view, are public information. They are paid for with tax dollars, and they release them when they want them released and they are positive . The photo office indicated initially, this was probably in October or November 2012, that we could have the photos at the end of the day and that never materialized. They suddenly started referring us a White House deputy press secretary, Josh Earnest, who is now press secretary. And they said Josh would have to approve it, and he would never return a call or e-mail. We would try to maintain communication with him or try to make communication with him over a long period of time, and he wouldn’t even answer. We would go to the press, photographer’s office and say you have given us an impossible task, you have told us to talk to someone who will not talk to us. You need to give us another route to follow to try and get these photos, and they would say no, you have to talk to Josh Earnest. So that just went down a dead-end road…”

Attkisson’s right, this is public property and should be subject to Freedom of Information Act rules. And it’s not as if the White House has ever been shy about releasing photos of Obama in other situations. Quite the opposite. There are, for example, well-known photos of Obama observing the mission to assassinate Osama bin Laden. And, if you think back there were plenty of photos of President Bush and the White House staff dealing with the crisis of the 9-11 attacks.

So why none of President Obama on what was arguably one of the most dramatic nights of his administration, when Americans in the nation’s service were fighting for their lives?

It’s just a guess, but I suspect the reason is that their revelation would seriously embarrass Obama, who (again, guessing) left it to Panetta and JCS Chairman General Dempsey to handle things while he “arranged things” with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, in order to preserve their deal. Or maybe he just didn’t think it was important and just went to bed, which in its own way would be equally embarrassing. So, just as the LA Times sits on the Rashid Khalidi tape, the White House press office has deep-sixed those photos (1) to spare Obama public disgrace.

Someday they’ll come out. Just not while Obama is in office and Josh Earnest is his press secretary.

via Max Abrahms

Footnote:
(1) If they exist. Admitting they don’t would be just as bad for Obama, since it would also be an admission that he wasn’t doing anything worth recording that night.


#Benghazi: Did Hillary Clinton staffers have a shredding party?

September 15, 2014
American Blood, US Consulate, Benghazi

American Blood, US Consulate, Benghazi

Oh, man. If this is trueif!— the potential damage to Hillary’s presidential campaign coronation could be immense, if not fatal:

As the House Select Committee on Benghazi prepares for its first hearing this week, a former State Department diplomat is coming forward with a startling allegation: Hillary Clinton confidants were part of an operation to “separate” damaging documents before they were turned over to the Accountability Review Board investigating security lapses surrounding the Sept. 11, 2012, terrorist attacks on the U.S. mission in Benghazi, Libya.

According to former Deputy Assistant Secretary Raymond Maxwell, the after-hours session took place over a weekend in a basement operations-type center at State Department headquarters in Washington, D.C. This is the first time Maxwell has publicly come forward with the story.

At the time, Maxwell was a leader in the State Department’s Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs, which was charged with collecting emails and documents relevant to the Benghazi probe.

Maxwell says the weekend document session was held in the basement of the State Department’s Foggy Bottom headquarters in a room underneath the “jogger’s entrance.” He describes it as a large space, outfitted with computers and big screen monitors, intended for emergency planning, and with small offices on the periphery.

When he arrived, Maxwell says he observed boxes and stacks of documents. He says a State Department office director, whom Maxwell described as close to Clinton’s top advisers, was there. Though the office director technically worked for him, Maxwell says he wasn’t consulted about her weekend assignment.

“She told me, ‘Ray, we are to go through these stacks and pull out anything that might put anybody in the [Near Eastern Affairs] front office or the seventh floor in a bad light,’” says Maxwell. He says “seventh floor” was State Department shorthand for then-Secretary of State Clinton and her principal advisers.

“I asked her, ‘But isn’t that unethical?’ She responded, ‘Ray, those are our orders.’ ”

A few minutes after he arrived, Maxwell says, in walked two high-ranking State Department officials.

The “two high-ranking officials,” per Maxwell, were Jake Sullivan, Clinton’s Deputy Chief of Staff, and Cheryl Mills, her Chief of Staff. The latter is very significant, as Mills is known for being a hard core Hillary loyalist and her “fixer.” (For more on Cheryl Mills, see here and here.) And here we now have the former Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs asserting that he stumbled into scrubbing party meant to protect Hillary.

These documents had been demanded by the Accountability Review Board looking into the Benghazi massacre. One wonders, now, if they did see everything, or did they receive a carefully scrubbed “Reader’s Digest” version.

It should be noted that Mr. Maxwell was one of those held accountable by the ARB for Benghazi and was on administrative leave for a year with pay before retiring. Though later cleared and never punished by State, his name was traduced in the press at the time, so a revenge motive has to be kept in mind.

But, that does not make what he claims untrue. Nor does it make it true, but it does most certainly make it something Rep. Trey Gowdy’s Select Committee will want to dig into deeply. As Brut Hume put it:

Oh, yeah.

via Twitchy


#IRS: Lois Lerner’s emails exist. Lying suckweasels shown to be liars.

August 26, 2014
"The dog ate my Blackberry!"

“The dog ate my Blackberry!”

Oh, this is just beautiful. After claiming the dog ate their homework Lois Lerner’s hard drive had crashed and then been destroyed, making her emails unrecoverable, DoJ lawyers now tell Judicial Watch, “Oh, hey! Whaddya know? We may actually those emails. But, they’re too hard to find. Trust us.”

Judicial Watch, a watchdog group which has been investigating the IRS scandal, has learned that Lois Lerner’s supposedly missing emails may still exist within a federal government back-up system.

After months of administration officials insisting that two years worth of Lerner’s emails were irretrievable following a computer crash, a Department of Justice attorney admitted to Judicial Watch Friday that the federal government backs up all their computer records in case of catastrophe.

IRS Commissioner John Koskinen testified just a few months ago that Lerner’s emails were lost, while the IRS claimed it had gone to “unprecedented efforts” to retrieve the emails.

The news of the “lost” emails was met with wide mockery and disbelief in the press, with many suspecting that some back-up of the records must exist.

Tom Fitton, the president of Judicial Watch, told Fox News that the Department of Justice now claims it would be “too hard” to retrieve Lerner’s emails from the back-up system.

Here’s the interview with Fitton, who, I’d guess, had to calm himself down before going on air:

And now we have confirmation that, as everyone with more than half a brain suspected, the government had backups all along. I can only imagine what Chairman Issa of the Oversight committee said on hearing the news, but I suspect the more publicly repeatable words included “perjury.” IRS commissioner Koskinen swore up and down that they had done everything they could to retrieve those emails, but, well, gosh. These things happen.

And now they’re claiming the records would be too hard to find? In a backup system that’s supposed to keep government operations going in the event of a catastrophe? That’s an insult to our intelligence and another damnable lie. And I want someone to try that excuse when the IRS is doing the investigating. “Sorry, Mr. IRS agent, those records would be too much work to find.”

People at IRS and possibly DoJ need to do prison time over this.

PS: If you’re scratching your head wondering why this is important, Lerner’s emails may be crucial to establishing how and at whose direction the harassment of conservative and Tea Party 501(c) applicants began. The persecution of these groups prevented their participation in the 2012 election, thus affecting the constitutional rights of the applicants and, perhaps, materially affecting the election. When you add that to the utterly vile idea of politicizing the nation’s tax enforcement bureau… Yeah, this is important.

BTW: Breaking today at PJMedia, Bryan Preston reports that the IRS is now saying that Lerner’s Blackberry was destroyed, too, after it knew of her hard drive crash, and thus any emails it recorded are inaccessible, as well. These people have no shame. But they do evidently have a backup system…

RELATED: More from Walter Russell Mead — “The IRS scandal has arrived.”

 


Gunwalker: did the FBI cover up evidence in the Brian Terry killing?

September 9, 2011

Brian Terry was a US Border Patrol agent killed last year near the Mexican border in Arizona a gun-battle with what were then described as “bandits.” Two of the guns used to kill Agent Terry were traced to a Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (BATF) operation called “Fast and Furious” (aka “Gunwalker”), which allowed the illegal purchase of weapons at US gun shops by straw buyers for Mexican drug cartels and then allowed them to be “walked” over the border to the real buyers.

No, I have no idea what they were thinking, either.

Now evidence has come out that there was a third Gunwalker firearm at Terry’s killing, and that the FBI may have covered it up to protect a confidential informant planted with the cartels:

Sources say emails support their contention that the FBI concealed evidence to protect a confidential informant. Sources close to the Terry case say the FBI informant works inside a major Mexican cartel and provided the money to obtain the weapons used to kill Terry.

Unlike the two AK-style assault weapons found at the scene, the third weapon could more easily be linked to the informant. To prevent that from happening, sources say, the third gun “disappeared.”

In addition to the emails obtained by Fox News, an audio recording from a Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives agent investigating the Terry case seems to confirm the existence of a third weapon. In that conversation, the agent refers to an “SKS assault rifle out of Texas” found at the Terry murder scene south of Tucson.

The FBI refused to answer a detailed set of questions submitted to officials by Fox News. Instead, agency spokesman Paul Bresson said, “The Brian Terry investigation is still ongoing so I cannot comment.” Bresson referred Fox News to court records that only identify the two possible murder weapons.

However, in the hours after Terry was killed on Dec. 14, 2010, several emails written to top ATF officials suggest otherwise.

In one, an intelligence analyst writes that by 7:45 p.m. — about 21 hours after the shooting — she had successfully traced two weapons at the scene, and is now “researching the trace status of firearms recovered earlier today by the FBI.”

In another email, deputy ATF-Phoenix director George Gillett asks: “Are those two (AK-47s) in addition to the gun already recovered this morning?”

Be sure to read the rest.

Meanwhile, I’d sure like to know the answer to Mr. Gillett’s question, wouldn’t you? And, beyond that, where did the third gun go and who gave the orders not to include it in the evidence recovered from the crime scene?

We’re not just talking about a huge federal scandal involving multiple agencies here. A US Border Patrol agent was killed with weapons allowed purposefully to fall into the hands of the bad guys. Simple justice for Agent Terry and his family (who have been treated shabbily by the US Attorney’s office in Arizona) demands that the truth come out.

It’s time for people to start testifying under oath, both before Congress and a grand jury. And if the Obama administration won’t agree to a special prosecutor, then the attorney general offices in the affected states should open their own investigations. Surely there were multiple state laws broken here, too.

via Nice Deb through Michelle Malkin.

RELATED: Earlier Gunwalker posts.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Gunwalker: more “walked” firearms found at US crimes

August 17, 2011

This isn’t the first time “walked” guns from Operation Fast and Furious (“Gunwalker”) have shown up at US crime scenes, but it is an illustration of the old adage that there’s never just one roach:

Firearms from ATF sting linked to 11 more violent crimes

Firearms from the ATF’s Operation Fast and Furious weapons trafficking investigation turned up at the scenes of at least 11 violent crimes in the U.S., as well as at a Border Patrol agent’s slaying in southern Arizona last year, the Justice Department has acknowledged to Congress.

The department did not provide details about the crimes. But The Times has learned that they occurred in several Arizona cities, including Phoenix, where Fast and Furious was managed, as well as in El Paso, where a total of 42 weapons from the operation were seized at two crime scenes.

The new numbers, which expand the scope of the danger the program posed to U.S. citizens over a 14-month period, are contained in a letter that Justice Department officials turned over to the Senate Judiciary Committee last month.

In the letter, obtained by The Times on Tuesday, Justice Department officials also reported that Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives officials advised them that the agency’s acting director, Kenneth E. Melson, “likely became aware” of the operation as early as December 2009, a month after it began.

Melson has said he did not learn about how the operation was run until January of this year, when it was canceled.

To recap, Gunwalker was an operation to permit firearms to be purchased in the US and “walked” over the border to Mexico, where theoretically they could be traced to the cartel kingpins, who would then be arrested and charged. The guns were bought by “straw buyers,” people who would buy the guns not for themselves, but for cartel criminals who normally would be prevented from buying them. Even though the straw-buyers were known, or when there was a suspicious firearms order, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms would tell the gun dealer to let the purchase go through.

One problem: they lost track of the guns.

Now those guns have been involved in one, perhaps two deaths of US federal agents. They have been “in action” in the deaths of over 150 Mexican soldiers, federal agents, and civilians. US federal agents working in Mexico and the Mexican authorities were lied to about the extent of the operation. The guns are showing up more and more at American crime scenes.

And the US Justice Department is throwing roadblock after roadblock in the way of what may well be the biggest federal scandal in decades.

Right now, Gunwalker is overshadowed by the US debt crisis and the politics of the upcoming election. But it won’t stay that way. Some time in the next year, whether through dogged investigation by Rep. Issa’s House Oversight Committee or, God forbid, some major crime the media can’t ignore, the guns of Operation Fast and Furious are going to come back to haunt the Obama administration.

RELATED: Earlier posts on Gunwalker. Bob Owens’ on Obama’s “un-plausible deniability.”

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)