Evening Blues Preview 6-3-15

This evening's music features slide guitar virtuoso Bob Brozman.

Here are some stories from tonight's posting:

Judge probes destruction of evidence in NSA leak prosecution

A federal judge is investigating allegations that the government may have improperly destroyed documents during the high-profile media leak investigation of National Security Agency whistleblower Thomas Drake.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Stephanie Gallagher’s inquiry was launched after Drake's lawyers in April accused the Pentagon inspector general’s office of destroying possible evidence during Drake’s criminal prosecution, which ended almost four years ago, McClatchy has learned.

In a May 13 letter, Gallagher told Justice Department lawyers that the judge who had presided over the case asked her to evaluate the allegations from Drake’s lawyers “for further investigation and to make recommendations as to whether any action by the court is warranted or appropriate.”

The allegations raise new questions about a prosecution that had been excoriated by the presiding judge after the Justice Department’s case against Drake unraveled and resulted in the former senior NSA official pleading guilty to a misdemeanor charge.

Jesselyn Radack, Drake’s current lawyer, declined to say what she expected from the judge’s inquiry, which McClatchy learned about independently. She said that her client is “grateful that the court sees this as serious enough to look into.”

“The fact that there is a court-ordered investigation is a partial vindication,” said Radack, who is national security director with the Government Accountability Project, a whistleblower advocacy group. “As (the presiding) judge noted, Tom Drake has been through years of hell because of this prosecution even though this case collapsed in a spectacular fashion.”

Rand Paul allies plan new surveillance reforms to follow USA Freedom Act

Several of Rand Paul’s allies in the US House of Representatives are seeking to capitalize on the momentum of surveillance reform as the USA Freedom Act continues through the Senate by attempting to stop the National Security Agency from undermining encryption and banning other law enforcement agencies from collecting US data in bulk.

Thomas Massie, a libertarian-minded Kentucky Republican, has authored an amendment to a forthcoming appropriations bill that blocks any funding for the National Institute of Science and Technology to “coordinate or consult” with the NSA or the Central Intelligence Agency “for the purpose of establishing cryptographic or computer standards that permit the warrantless electronic surveillance” by the spy agencies. He is joined in the effort by Democrat Zoe Lofgren of California. ...

“The USA Freedom Act is definitely not the last word. Whenever a program expires or whenever funding is required, those are must-pass pieces of legislation that present opportunities for refinement,” Massie told the Guardian on Tuesday.

Lofgren and another civil libertarian, Republican Ted Poe of Texas, will propose an amendment to the same appropriations bill that would block the Federal Bureau of Investigation from inserting vulnerabilities into encryption on mobile devices. ...

Another congressional privacy advocate, Democrat Jared Polis of Colorado, will push a further amendment to the appropriations bill that would in effect block the Drug Enforcement Agency from collecting Americans’ phone data in bulk – a recently exposed surveillance program that preceded the NSA’s now-shuttered bulk collection. ... Polis told the Guardian he wanted to “rein in” the DEA’s “unwarranted and unconstitutional program”, calling the Freedom Act “the beginning of a reform process, not the conclusion of one”.

Wow, Baghdad Bob is back, only now they call him Deputy Secretary of State Tony Blinken!

US Claims They’re Winning ISIS War

With most of the Paris summit on the ISIS war in Iraq focusing on just how bad the conflict is going, Deputy Secretary of State Tony Blinken, the US representative at the meeting, seemed to remain in denial about the problems, insisting the US is winning the war against ISIS.

That’s been the official US position all along, and it gets reiterated all the more often the more obvious it gets that ground is being lost to ISIS forces. The loss of Ramadi, a city of 500,000 people and capital of Iraq’s largest province, is the latest evidence the war is being lost.

Blinken insists that the US has always had the “winning strategy” in the war, backing Iraq with huge amounts of military aid and providing air strikes. During today’s summit, the US and other nations agreed to even more shipments of aid to Iraq, including anti-tank missiles.

Wow, 10,000 ISIS fighters killed and only 2 civilians by the US government's count. That's incredible!

More than 10,000 Isis fighters killed since start of coalition assault, US claims

More than 10,000 Islamic State fighters have been killed since coalition forces started their campaign against the militant group in Iraq and Syria nine months ago, according to the US deputy secretary of state, Antony Blinken.

Speaking after leaders from more than 20 countries met in Paris for discussions on how to combat Isis, he said there had been a great deal of progress but the Islamists remained resilient and capable of taking the initiative.

Israel brands Palestinian-led boycott movement a 'strategic threat'

Netanyahu and Israeli government turn up heat on BDS over its calls for Israel to be boycotted for its occupation of Palestinian territories

Israel and key international supporters have sharply ratcheted up their campaign against the Palestinian-led Boycott Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, with senior Israeli officials declaring it a strategic threat.

Using language the Israeli government usually reserves for the likes of Hamas or Iran’s nuclear programme, senior figures – including the prime minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, and a key backer in the US, casino magnate Sheldon Adelson – have turned on the movement, which is prominent on university campuses and among international trade unions.

The moves came as the UK’s National Union of Students (NUS) voted on Tuesday to formally ally itself with the aims of BDS. Following the vote, Hebrew media reported that Israeli MPs were due to hold a special session in the Knesset to discuss the issue.

The non-violent grassroots movement, founded with the support of dozens of Palestinian organisations, is modelled on South African anti-apartheid campaigns and calls for an end to the occupation, equality for Palestinian citizens of Israel, and a resolution for Palestinian refugees of 1948. ...

The latest rhetoric has coincided with growing evidence of pro-Israeli activism over BDS, not least in the US. Last week, a new website emerged whose aim was to identify US college students active in the BDS movement with the explicit aim of identifying then to future possible employers. It was not clear who was behind the site.

"Cultural Genocide": Landmark Report Decries Canada’s Forced Schooling of Indigenous Children

The US government could count those killed by police, but it's chosen not to

For centuries, black communities in America have faced physical abuse and unjustified deadly force at the hands of law enforcement. Modern policing even originated in slave patrols and night watches that captured people who tried to escape slavery. According to the most recent FBI data, local police kill black people at nearly the same rate as people lynched in the Jim Crow-era – at least two times a week. The Guardian’s latest count for the first five months of 2015 puts that number at around once per day.

But the verifiable impact on black lives of racially discriminatory policing remains largely unknown. Despite federal law authorizing the US attorney general to collect nationwide data on police use of force, there remains no federal database on how often police kill civilians, let alone abuse their authority.

According to Guardian’s The Counted, police killed 464 people in the first 5 months of 2015, including 135 black people. Their data shows that, in 2015 so far, the black people killed by the police are twice as likely to be unarmed as the white people. According to a recent Washington Post analysis, at this rate, police will fatally shoot nearly 1,000 people by the end of year. The federal government has no way to confirm or disprove this data, though they’ve long had the authority to compile it themselves. ...

Just last week, as part of President Obama’s executive order to limit the types of militarized weapons the federal government can transfer to local police, he expanded police data collection of police uses of force, pedestrian and vehicle stops, officer involved shootings and more. But President Obama’s executive action fails to address the scale of today’s policing crisis or make the data collection mandatory: of 18,000 police departments in the US, only 21 are participating in the new initiative.

Also of interest:

For Terrorist Fearmongers, It’s Always the Scariest Time Ever

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Big Al's picture

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joe shikspack's picture

i like it.

i think that it would benefit from a discussion of what we see at daily kos, which is a culture based upon the narcissism of minor differences:

The narcissism of small differences (der Narzißmus der kleinen Differenzen) is "the phenomenon that it is precisely communities with adjoining territories, and related to each other in other ways as well, who are engaged in constant feuds and ridiculing each other" – "such sensitiveness [...] to just these details of differentiation". ...

In terms of postmodernity, consumer culture has been seen as predicated on "the 'narcissism of small differences'...to achieve a superficial sense of one's own uniqueness, an ersatz sense of otherness which is only a mask for an underlying uniformity and sameness".

it seems to me that many people get caught up in the branding exercises at daily kos which attempt to assert enormous differences between two parties that are essentially the same thing in slightly different packaging.

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gulfgal98's picture

captures dkos exactly!

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"I don't want to run the empire, I want to bring it down!" ~Dr. Cornel West

"I am done with it all. Life is just a charade in which we are all unknowing pawns." ~gulfgal98

mimi's picture

I think this diary by Zwoof (it's comment threads)Chris Hedges Goes There - Karl Marx was Right was a perfect example for the narcissism of minor differences represented in the comment threads. Fits perfectly with your quoted text of

the phenomenon that it is precisely communities with adjoining territories, and related to each other in other ways as well, who are engaged in constant feuds and ridiculing each other" – "such sensitiveness [...] to just these details of differentiation".
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There is no question that the US air campaign has taken a toll. Deputy Secretary of State Tony Blinken just bragged that 10,000 ISIS fighters have been killed since the start of bombing in August. Yet this is hard to square, as Bill Roggio notes at Long War Journal, with previous CIA estimates that ISIS only had 20,000 to 30,000 fighters. If Blinken’s number is right, ISIS should have lost one-half to one-third of its fighters, yet somehow during that time it has actually gained ground in both Iraq and Syria — oh, and estimates of its overall strength have not varied.

This means that either previous CIA estimates were gross underestimates (Roggio believes ISIS had at least 50,000 fighters to begin with) or that it has managed to replenish its losses—or both. Either way, what we are seeing now is what President Lyndon Johnson and Gen. William Westmoreland discovered for themselves in Vietnam: namely that it’s impossible to win a war of attrition against a foe that has a lot more will to fight and suffer losses than you do.

Much like Vietnam, it is both funny and sad.
I wonder what happens when the number of ISIS fighters "killed" exceeds the number of ISIS fighters?

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(AFP) - Thousands of Iranian and Iraqi fighters have been deployed in Syria in past weeks to bolster the defences of Damascus and its surroundings, a Syrian security source told AFP on Wednesday.
"Around 7,000 Iranian and Iraqi fighters have arrived in Syria over the past few weeks and their first priority is the defence of the capital. The larger contingent is Iraqi," the source said on condition of anonymity.

So ISIS is gaining in Iraq, yet Iraq still manages to send 4-6,000 troops to Damascus? WTF?

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joe shikspack's picture

perhaps it doesn't matter to them where they fight sunni jihadis anymore?

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A new study from the Costs of War project at Brown University estimates 149,000 war-related deaths, with an additional 162,000 serious injuries, in Afghanistan and Pakistan since 2001. And even these numbers don't tell the whole story, which includes significant destruction of infrastructure, displacement of people, and indirect deaths from malnutrition and disease.

Civilian casualties have been particularly high, according to the report, totaling around 26,270 deaths in Afghanistan and 21,500 in Pakistan. The study says that most of the civilian casualties in Afghanistan are caused by militant groups, but the number caused by Afghan and international forces has been increasing since 2012.

It's interesting that Pakistan's numbers are nearly as bad, but you rarely hear about it.

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gulfgal98's picture

They will come in handy for discussions with people at our Peace vigil. Generally, I do not approach my conversations from a moral aspect, but if the person I am talking to broaches the morality of these wars, then I do use casualty figures to make my point of why they hate us.

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"I don't want to run the empire, I want to bring it down!" ~Dr. Cornel West

"I am done with it all. Life is just a charade in which we are all unknowing pawns." ~gulfgal98

link

The latest leak purports to include 17 documents from negotiations on the Trade In Services Agreement, a blandly named trade deal that would cover the United States, the European Union and more than 20 other countries. More than 80 percent of the United States economy is in service sectors.

According to the Wikileaks release, TISA, as the deal is known, would take a major step towards deregulating financial industries, and could affect everything from local maritime and air traffic rules to domestic regulations on almost anything if an internationally traded service is involved.

That we are even debating this in secret is shameless.

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understands the concept of shame...or humanity...or decency...

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praenomen