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For the past 10 years, I was a litigator in NYC specializing in First Amendment challenges, civil rights cases, and corporate and securities fraud matters. I am the author of the New York Times Best-Selling book, How Would A Patriot Act?, a critique of the Bush administration's use of executive power, released May, 2006.
Monday, July 27, 2015 A Crucial Realization About Journalism is Learned by Being its Subject
For the past decade, I've been writing critically about the American media, usually with a focus on the specific policy and legal topics I know best. So like most politically engaged people, I've long been rationally aware of how frequently deceitful and inaccurate claims are passed off by the most respected media outlets as fact, using highly authoritative tones.
Wednesday, July 22, 2015(1 comments)
The Spirit of Judy Miller is Alive and Well at the NYT, and It Does Great Damage
That the New York Times mindlessly disseminates claims from anonymous officials with great regularity is, at this point, too well-documented to require much discussion. But it is worth observing how damaging it continues to be, because, shockingly, all sorts of self-identified "journalists" -- both within the paper and outside of it -- continue to equate un-verified assertions from government officials as Proven Truth.
Thursday, July 16, 2015 Announcing Our Matching Fund Donation to Chelsea Manning's Legal Defense
Chelsea Manning could have enriched herself by selling those documents to a foreign intelligence agency or media outlet for enormous sums, but did none of that. That's because she had only one motive: to inform citizens around the world of what their governments are doing in the dark. For her noble choice, Manning has been persecuted, brutalized and imprisoned by the U.S. government.
Tuesday, July 14, 2015(2 comments)
Iranians' View Of The Nuclear Deal: Optimistic, With Significant Caveats
U.S. media coverage of the Iran deal is, as usual, overwhelmingly focused on American and Israeli voices, with the hard-liner fanatics in each country issuing apocalyptic decrees, insisting that the deal is far too lenient on Iran and provides it with far too many benefits. The optimistic Iranian view is grounded in the expectation that the deal will usher in a normalization of relations between Iran and the Wes
Tuesday, July 7, 2015(4 comments)
Tony Blair and the Self-Exalting Mindset of the West: in Two Paragraphs
While the leading lights of the West love to celebrate themselves as beacons of civilized, progressive rationality, their overriding mentality is just the crassest and most primitive form of tribalism: when Our Side does it, it is right, and when Their Side does it, it is wrong. That is the primitive, banal formulation that lies at the heart of the vast, vast majority of foreign policy discourse in the West.
Monday, July 6, 2015(2 comments)
Today's Civilian Victims In Yemen Will Be Ignored Because U.S. And Its Allies Are Responsible
Because these deaths of innocents are at the hands of the U.S. government and its despotic allies, it is very predictable how they will be covered in the U.S. None of the victims will be profiled in American media; it'll be very surprising if any of their names are even mentioned. No major American television outlet will interview their grieving families.
Saturday, July 4, 2015(1 comments)
NSA's Top Brazilian Political and Financial Targets Revealed by New WikiLeaks Disclosure
That Rousseff's personal cell phone was successfully targeted by NSA spying was previously reported in 2013. That revelation -- along with others exposing NSA mass surveillance on hundreds of millions of Brazilians, and the targeting of the country's state-owned oil company Petrobras and its Ministry of Mines and Energy -- caused a major rupture in relations between the two nations.
Sunday, June 14, 2015(2 comments)
The Sunday Times' Snowden Story is Journalism at its Worst -- and Filled with Falsehoods
The official accusers are being hidden by the journalists so nobody can confront them or hold them accountable when it turns out to be false. The evidence can't be analyzed or dissected because there literally is none: they just make the accusation and, because they're state officials, their media-servants will publish it with no evidence needed.
Sunday, June 7, 2015(2 comments)
Media Lessons from Snowden Reporting: LA Times Editors Advocate Prosecution of Sources
The LAT editors are opposed to a pardon or to clemency for Edward Snowden. While generously conceding that Snowden has "a strong argument for leniency," they nonetheless insist that "in a society of laws, someone who engages in civil disobedience in a higher cause should be prepared to accept the consequences."
Saturday, June 6, 2015 Did Max Boot And Commentary Magazine Lie About Eward Snowden? You Decide.
It's not surprising that someone whose entire adult life is shaped by extreme cowardice would want to accuse others of lacking courage, as it distracts attention away from oneself and provides the comfort of company. Nor is it surprising that government-loyal journalists spew outright falsehoods to smear whistleblowers.
Wednesday, June 3, 2015 In Boston, Media Again Trash a Police Shooting Victim by Uncritically "Reporting" Police Accusations
Major American media outlets converted someone about whom they knew nothing into a dangerous terrorist in the middle of executing an ISIS-related terror plot. And the heroic law enforcement officials didn't just kill an ISIS Terrorist on the loose in America, but likely disrupted a vicious sleeper cell. All of that was achieved without a shred of evidence or investigation.
Monday, May 18, 2015(3 comments)
GCHQ's Rainbow Lights: Exploiting Social Issues for Militarism and Imperialism
Gay Brits are now just as free as everyone else to spy on people, covertly disseminate state propaganda, and destroy online privacy. Whatever your views on all this nasty surveillance business might be, how can you not feel good about GCHQ when it drapes itself in the colors of LGBT equality?
Wednesday, May 13, 2015(2 comments)
Greatest Threat To Free Speech Comes Not From Terrorism, But From Those Claiming To Fight It
Threats to free speech can come from lots of places. But right now, the greatest threat by far in the West to ideals of free expression is coming not from radical Muslims, but from the very Western governments claiming to fight them. The increasingly unhinged, Cheney-sounding governments of the UK, Australia, France, New Zealand and Canada -- joining the U.S. -- have a seemingly insatiable desire to curb freedoms.
Tuesday, April 28, 2015(1 comments)
Writers Withdraw From Pen Gala To Protest Award To Charlie Hebdo
Numerous prominent writers who were to serve as "table heads," or who are longtime PEN members, have withdrawn from the group's annual awards gala and otherwise expressed anger over PEN's decision to bestow its annual Freedom of Expression Courage Award to Charlie Hebdo.
Thursday, April 23, 2015(45 comments)
What Explains The Power Of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev's Middle Finger?
This one photo, standing alone, was designed to produce a visceral, bottomless contempt for Tsarnaev which even disgust at his actual crime could not achieve. The expectation was that it would irreversibly establish the jury and public's view of him as not just evil but sub-human, deserving of state-imposed death.
Wednesday, April 22, 2015(2 comments)
Jeb Bush Praises Obama's Expansion of NSA Surveillance
Jeb Bush appeared on Michael Medved's conservative talk radio program, and was asked by the host what his favorite part of the Obama administration has been. His answer? As McClatchy's Lesley Clark noted on Twitter, Bush hailed "Obama's enhancement of NSA."
Friday, April 17, 2015(4 comments)
NBC's Conduct In Engel Kidnapping Story Is More Troubling Than the Brian Williams Scandal
Nobody can blame Engel -- a courageous reporter -- for falling for what appears to be a well-coordinated ruse. When he and his fellow captives believed with good reason that their lives were in immediate danger, it's completely understandable that he believed he had been captured by pro-Assad forces. There is no real evidence that Engel did anything wrong. is most certainly not true of NBC News executives.
Thursday, April 16, 2015(4 comments)
Religious Fanaticism Is A Huge Factor In Americans' Support For Israel
There is no denying that religious extremism plays a very significant role in American attitudes toward Israel. Given its importance, this is a remarkably under-discussed phenomenon, mostly because American media figures are very comfortable maligning other countries as being driven by religious fanaticism while ignoring how much their own country is.
Saturday, April 11, 2015(1 comments)
Iranians Are Much Talked About On Sunday Morning TV, But Never Heard From
Over the last couple months, the Sunday morning TV shows -- NBC's Meet the Press, CBS's Face The Nation, ABC's This Week, Fox's News Sunday, and CNN's State of the Union -- have focused on a deal with Iran as one of their principal topics. In doing so, they have repeatedly given a platform to fanatical anti-Iran voices, including Israeli officials such as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Friday, March 27, 2015(3 comments)
Court Accepts DOJ's "State Secrets" Claim To Protect Shadowy Neocons: A New Low
A truly stunning debasement of the U.S. justice system just occurred through the joint efforts of the Obama Justice Department and a meek and frightened Obama-appointed federal judge, Edgardo Ramos, all in order to protect an extremist neocon front group from scrutiny and accountability.
Thursday, March 26, 2015(3 comments)
Netanyahu's Spying Denials Contradicted By Secret NSA Documents
Israel's claim that it does not conduct espionage against the United States is not only incredible on its face. It is also squarely contradicted by top-secret NSA documents, which state that Israel targets the U.S. government for invasive electronic surveillance, and does so more aggressively and threateningly than almost any other country in the world.
Thursday, March 19, 2015(2 comments)
US Threatened Germany Over Snowden, Vice Chancellor Says
There has been a sustained debate in Germany over whether to grant asylum to Snowden, and a major controversy arose last year when a Parliamentary Committee investigating NSA spying divided as to whether to bring Snowden to testify in person, and then narrowly refused at the behest of the Merkel government.
Wednesday, March 18, 2015(3 comments)
What's Scarier: Terrorism, Or Governments Blocking Websites In Its Name?
Forcibly taking down websites deemed to be supportive of terrorism, or criminalizing speech deemed to "advocate" terrorism, is a major trend in both Europe and the West generally. Last month in Brussels, the European Union's counter-terrorism coordinator issued a memo proclaiming that "Europe is facing an unprecedented, diverse and serious terrorist threat," and argued that control of the Internet is crucial to combating it.
Friday, March 13, 2015 The Orwellian Re-Branding Of "Mass Surveillance" As Merely "Bulk Collection"
Just as the Bush administration and the U.S. media re-labelled "torture" with the Orwellian euphemism "enhanced interrogation techniques" to make it more palatable, the governments and media of the Five Eyes surveillance alliance are now attempting to re-brand "mass surveillance" as "bulk collection" in order to make it less menacing (and less illegal).
Tuesday, March 10, 2015(5 comments)
The Parties' Role Reversal on "Interfering" with the Commander-in-Chief's Foreign Policy
members of both parties who are trying to subvert a peace agreement with Iran -- out of some warped allegiance to Israeli interests and/or a commitment to endless militarism -- are acting in destructive and dangerous ways. That they have disrespected and undermined our Glorious Commander-in-Chief, or breached precious inter-court protocols for who gets to exercise power are quite misguided positions.
Sunday, March 1, 2015 Clapper Calls For Arming Ukrainian Forces: Who Would That Actually Empower?
Anyone pointing out that arming the regime in Kiev would strengthen fascists and neo-Nazis is instantly accused of being a Putin propagandist: exactly like those arguing that the best anti-Assad fighters were al-Qaeda-affiliated were accused of being Assad propagandists (until that became the official position of the US Government).
Monday, February 16, 2015(2 comments)
Hailed As A Model For Successful Intervention, Libya Proves To Be The Exact Opposite
What we see here is what we've seen over and over: the west's wars creating and empowering an endless supply of enemies, which in turn justify endless war by the west. It was the invasion of Iraq that ushered in "Al Qaeda in Iraq" and ultimately ISIS. It has been the brutal, civilian-slaughtering drone bombing of Yemen which spawned Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula in that country.
Tuesday, February 10, 2015(1 comments)
The U.S. Media And The 13-Year-old Yemeni Boy Burned To Death Last Month By A U.S. Drone
If it were American teenagers rather than Yemeni ones regularly being burned to death -- on American soil rather than Yemeni soil -- does it take any effort to understand why there'd be widespread calls for violence against the perpetrators in response? Consider how much American rage and violence was unleashed by a single-day attack on American soil 13 years ago.
Thursday, January 29, 2015(1 comments)
The Petulant Entitlement Syndrome of Journalists
Prior to the advent of blogs, establishment journalists were largely immunized even from hearing criticisms. If a life-tenured New York Times columnist wrote something stupid or vapid, or a Sunday TV news host conducted a sycophantic interview with a government official, there was no real mechanism for the average non-journalist citizen to voice critiques.
Friday, January 16, 2015(8 comments)
Latest FBI Claim Of Disrupted Terror Plot Deserves Much Scrutiny And Skepticism
The known facts from this latest case seem to fit well within a now-familiar FBI pattern whereby the agency does not disrupt planned domestic terror attacks but rather creates them, then publicly praises itself for stopping its own plots. Predictably, political officials instantly exploited the news to justify their powers of domestic surveillance.
Tuesday, January 13, 2015(19 comments)
Dianne Feinstein, Strong Advocate Of Leak Prosecutions, Demands Immunity For David Petraeus
Feinstein wanted Julian Assange, who isn't a US citizen and never served in the US Government, prosecuted for espionage for exposing war crimes, and demanded that Edward Snowden be charged with "treason" for exposing illegal eavesdropping which shocked the world. But a four-star general who leaked classified information not for any noble purpose but to his mistress should be protected from any legal consequences.
Friday, January 9, 2015(40 comments)
In Solidarity With a Free Press: Some More Blasphemous Cartoons
This week's defense of free speech rights was so spirited that it gave rise to a brand new principle: to defend free speech, one not only defends the right to disseminate the speech, but embraces the content of the speech itself. One should not merely condemn the attacks and defend the right of the cartoonists to publish, but should publish and even celebrate those cartoons.
Thursday, January 1, 2015(3 comments)
North Korea/Sony Story Shows How Eagerly U.S. Media Still Regurgitate Government claims
None of the expert skepticism made its way into countless media accounts of the Sony hack. Time and again, many journalists mindlessly regurgitated the U.S. Government's accusation against North Korea without a shred of doubt, blindly assuming it to be true, and then discussing, often demanding, strong retaliation.
Wednesday, December 17, 2014(4 comments)
Jeb Bush V. Hillary Clinton: The Perfectly Illustrative Election
Having someone who is the brother of one former president and the son of another run against the wife of still another former president would be sweetly illustrative of all sorts of degraded and illusory aspects of American life, from meritocracy to class mobility.
Tuesday, December 16, 2014 U.S. TV Provides Ample Platform For American Torturers, But None To Their Victims
When America is forced to confront its heinous acts, the central strategy is to disappear the victims; render them invisible. That's what robs them of their humanity. That is what enables American elites first to support atrocities, and then, when forced to reckon with them, tell themselves that--despite some isolated and well-intentioned bad acts--they are still really good, elevated, noble, admirable people.
Tuesday, December 9, 2014(2 comments)
Live Coverage Of The Senate Torture Report
American torture was not confined to a handful of aberrational cases or techniques, nor was it the work of rogue CIA agents. It was an officially sanctioned, worldwide regime of torture that had the acquiescence, if not explicit approval, of the top members of both political parties in Congress. It was motivated by far more than interrogation.
Sunday, December 7, 2014(2 comments)
Release of Six Detainees After Twelve Years Highlights the Historic Evil of Guantanamo
The U.S. military overnight transferred six Guantanamo detainees to Uruguay. All of them had been imprisoned since 2002 -- more than 12 years. None has ever been charged with a crime, let alone convicted of any wrongdoing. They had all been cleared for release years ago by the Pentagon itself, but nonetheless remained in cages until today.
Friday, November 28, 2014(4 comments)
Talking To James Risen About Pay Any Price, The War On Terror And Press Freedoms
There have been lots of critiques of the War on Terror on its own terms, but Risen's is one of the first to offer large amounts of original reporting on what is almost certainly the most overlooked aspect of this war: the role corporate profiteering plays in ensuring its endless continuation, and how the beneficiaries use rank fear-mongering to sustain it.
Wednesday, November 26, 2014(2 comments)
The US/UK Campaign To Demonize Social Media Companies As Terrorist Allies
All of this is part of a clear and definitely coordinated campaign by the U.S. and UK Governments to demonize social media companies as terrorist-helpers in order to force them to act as (even more) obedient snooping agents for the National Security State.
Wednesday, November 19, 2014(3 comments)
Congress Is Irrelevant On Mass Surveillance -- Here's What Matters Instead
The pro-NSA Republican senators were actually arguing that if the NSA were no longer allowed to bulk-collect communication records of Americans inside the U.S., then ISIS would kill you and your kids. But because they were speaking in an empty chamber and only to their warped and insulated D.C. circles and sycophantic aides, there was nobody there to cackle contemptuously or tell them how self-evidently moronic it all was.
Saturday, November 15, 2014(54 comments)
Cynics, Step Aside: There is Genuine Excitement Over A Hillary Clinton Candidacy
One shouldn't be jaded. There is genuine and intense excitement over the prospect of (another) Clinton presidency. Many significant American factions regard her elevation to the Oval Office as an opportunity for rejuvenation, as a stirring symbol of hope and change, as the vehicle for vital policy advances.
Thursday, November 13, 2014(1 comments)
John Cook Is Leaving The Intercept To Retun To Gawker At The End Of The Year
The Intercept's editor-in-chief, John Cook, who spent the year tripling our staff size and significantly increasing our daily journalistic output, is leaving at the end of the year to return to Gawker Media. Deputy Editor Ryan Tate will continue to work with John and the rest of the newsroom to effect a smooth transition until the search for Cook's permanent replacement, already underway, is completed.
Thursday, October 30, 2014(14 comments)
The Inside Story of Matt Taibbi's Departure From First Look Media
Taibbi's departure means that First Look has lost a talented, unique, and influential journalistic voice before he published a single word. After months of struggle and negotiation, The Intercept has arrived at the point where it can function effectively: with full editorial freedom and an ample budget. But First Look and Taibbi failed to reach a similar mutual understanding.