On December 1, Fox News contributor Monica Crowley attacked Secretary State Hillary Clinton over an alleged diplomatic cable recently released by Wikileaks regarding human intelligence collection on the United Nations. Crowley was up in arms about the document and said it "seems to be crossing a line." But when given five minutes to explain, she could not come up with a rationale that held water and indeed repeatedly contradicted herself on what Clinton had allegedly done wrong.
The document in question provides guidance to State Department personnel on "the new National HUMINT [human intelligence] Collection Directive (NHCD) on the United Nations ... as well as a request for continued DOS reporting of biographic information relating to the United Nations."
Julian Assange, the founder of Wikileaks, has said that Clinton "should resign if it can be shown that she was responsible for ordering U.S. diplomatic figures to engage in espionage in the United Nations, in violation of the international covenants to which the U.S. has signed up."
Appearing on Fox News' America Live to discuss Assange's statement, Crowley stated: "To enlist the diplomatic corps essentially as spooks when we have a real corps of spooks to do this job seems to be crossing a line." Seconds later however, Crowley largely undercut her own argument by stating: "Look, I have no doubt that other nations at the United Nations are doing this to us."
Before dissecting the rest of Crowley's disastrous attempt to attack Clinton, let's mention some crucial facts that Crowley neglected to mention during her appearance:
First, it is not a new policy for the State Department to gather human intelligence. The New York Times, which was given advanced access to the Wikileaks documents states that Bush administration Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice had also ordered "more aggressive intelligence collection" in diplomatic cables.
Second, it is also not new for the United States to spy at the United Nations. The Times also reported: "While several treaties prohibit spying at the United Nations, it is an open secret that countries try nevertheless. In one 2004 episode, a British official revealed that the United States and Britain eavesdropped on Secretary General Kofi Annan in the weeks before the invasion of Iraq in 2003."
Third, it shouldn't surprise anyone in the international community that people introduced to them as diplomats are involved in espionage. CIA agents are often given an "official cover" as diplomats. Indeed, as Slate.com has reported: "Most CIA employees engaged in operations overseas are given official cover: a sham job in the U.S. embassy (or working for another government agency) that affords them diplomatic immunity." And this is far from secret. Indeed, there is a Wikipedia entry on official cover. The CIA article on HowStuffWorks.com also discusses official cover.
Fourth, as National Journal's Marc Ambinder reports, the document appears to be part of a government-wide effort to beef up human intelligence spearheaded by the CIA, not a State Department initiative.
Over the past few days, Dick Morris has returned to one of his least-credible allegations against Hillary Clinton: that during her husband's presidential campaign, she used "private detectives to unearth negative information on those who were politically inconvenient during the husband's campaigns for president and his White House tenure" in order to "provide blackmail material to cow them into silence."
Morris offered this claim both in his syndicated column and on Fox News:
Note how Morris doesn't even attempt to provide evidence that this "blackmail" actually happened, while calling it "a matter of documented fact."
This claim has been floating around since 1998, ever since it was first raised by... Dick Morris!
During a March 31, 1998 appearance on CNBC (accessed from Nexis), Morris first dropped the bombshell, claiming that in 1992, the Clinton campaign "hired detectives to snoop around the personal lives of the women who they asked to come up with blackmail material to force them to do that, even if they felt at the time that those women were lying," specifically citing the supposed efforts of private investigator Jack Palladino. Morris claimed that he had "personal knowledge that this happened. Betsey Wright, who coordinated it, told me that it happened."
The next week, the House Government Reform and Oversight Committee announced that they would be investigating Morris' allegations. But they also pointed out a glaring discrepancy in Morris' claim: he had previously given a deposition denying knowledge of Palladino's activities. From an April 8, 1998 article in The Hill:
After seeing the CNBC broadcast, "We recalled that here was a question that he had been asked, and he gave a flat denial," said Will Dwyer, the committee spokesman. "We called (him) to see if he wanted to refresh anything that he had told us in his deposition."
Morris had denied knowledge of Palladino's activities when deposed by committee lawyers on Aug. 21, 1997.
In Morris's conversation with committee lawyers in August, the following exchange took place:
Q. Do you know a gentleman named Jack Palladino? A. No. I think he is some way involved with the DNC (Democratic National Committee), but I don't know who or what.
Asked about this inconsistency, Morris changed his story. Despite saying on CNBC that he had "personal knowledge that this happened" and that Betsey Wright had told him about it, he told The Hill that "he has no first-hand knowledge of the events and based his comments on previously published press reports."
The Clinton campaign did investigate the allegations made against Bill Clinton, and the credibility of those making the claims. Given the complete lack of credibility of many of the accusers and the media's willingness to nonetheless run with their claims, that was both prudent and necessary.
But no credible allegation of blackmail has ever been made. Given the tremendous scrutiny levied against the Clintons over the past decades, I think it's fair to say that the reason is that it never happened.
And let's keep in mind, especially given his backtrack on where this claim comes from, that Morris himself is in no way a credible source. He is the one, after all, who invented and then retracted the claim that in 1997, then-Attorney General Janet Reno threatened President Clinton by saying that if he did not reappoint her as attorney general, she was "gonna tell the truth about Waco."
On his radio show today Beck repeatedly urged his listeners to "get on the phone and call your senator" to tell them to vote against the Food Safety Modernization Act, a bill that would boost the FDA's authority in an effort to prevent incidents of food-related illness. Beck's remarks echo his sponsor, FreedomWorks, which currently has a letter writing campaign against the bill.
First, Beck suggested that the U.S. doesn't have a food safety issue requiring stronger regulation, stating, "Our food is the safest in the world." He added, "What is it about our food supply that is so very, very dangerous that we need to move on this right away?"
But According to the Centers for Disease Control, foodborne illnesses kill 5,000 people every year. A CDC report last year also indicated that "After decades of steady progress, the safety of the nation's food supply has not improved over the past three years," as reported by the New York Times. The GAO has also been warning about problems with insufficient food safety oversight for years.
Beck went on to claim that the bill will "at best increase the cost of food dramatically" and suggested that the legislation is related to efforts to "nudge us out of meat":
Fox News panelist Gary B. Smith claimed that Transportation Security Administration (TSA) agents "can make up to $175,000 a year" "to pat people down." In reality, TSA personnel primarily responsible for screening passengers make between $25,518 and $44,007 plus locality pay, and even senior managers supervising TSA activities at entire airports earn up to the capped maximum of $172,550, including any pay received based on locality.
You know it's a slow news week when the right-wing is trying to gin up controversy about TSA regulations regarding carry-on cranberry sauce.
Yes, it's come to this:
Fox Nation and Big Government, piggybacking on the current outrage over TSA's new security procedures, are now pretending that the TSA has waged a "war on cranberry sauce." Why? Because the TSA has advised holiday travelers that they cannot pack holiday-related food items such as cranberry sauce in their carry-on luggage.
Yet, these guidelines have existed for years. Back in 2007, The Houston Chronicle reported, "This year, the TSA introduced new holiday food rules to its Web site," and noted (emphasis added):
The following foods will be turned away at security checkpoints. TSA suggests packing them in your luggage, leaving them at home or shipping them in advance:
• Cranberry and other sauces; gravy
• Salad dressing, oils and vinegars
• Maple syrup
• Creamy dips
• Wine, liquor, beer and other beverages
• Jams and jellies
Pies and cakes are allowed through security checkpoints. Note: They may be swabbed for explosives.
So there you go. Travelers haven't been able to pack cranberry sauce in carry-on bags for years now. There is no sudden TSA "war on cranberry sauce."
It looks like the right-wing media will just have to find a new controversy to invent.
The conservative-dominated U.S. Commission on Civil Rights will vote Friday on an interim report that omits critical evidence disproving allegations that the Obama administration refuses to enforce voting-rights laws against racial minorities, according to Media Matters' analysis of a copy of the report we obtained.
Drawing heavily on reports from Fox News, The Washington Times, and The Weekly Standard, the commission's draft report advances the discredited claims of right-wing activists that the Obama Justice Department has a "hostility" toward enforcing voting-right laws in cases where the alleged perpetrators are racial minorities.
The report is the result of the commission's oft-criticized investigation into the Justice Department's handling of voter-intimidation charges that were filed against members of the New Black Panther Party for their actions on Election Day in 2008. After the Bush administration made the decision to pursue civil charges, rather than criminal charges, the Obama administration obtained an injunction against the New Black Panther videotaped holding a nightstick outside a Philadelphia polling station. The DOJ dropped additional charges against the party.
The 123-page draft report echoes the right-wing media's manufactured scandal by focusing on politicized allegations, while ignoring testimony and evidence that directly refutes those allegations.
From the November 18 edition of Premiere Radio Networks' The Glenn Beck Program:
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In a November 16 editorial titled "Big Sister's police state," The Washington Times stated that the Transportation Security Administration's (TSA) "tyrannical tactics threaten American freedoms." The Times further wrote: "Many Tea Party candidates standing for election earlier this month promised they were going to 'take our country back.' Stopping TSA would be a good first step."
From the Times editorial:
The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has crossed the line. As if subjecting millions of Americans to X-rated x-ray scans and public groping sessions weren't bad enough, the agency now threatens $11,000 in fines against anyone refusing to submit to humiliation at the airport.
No matter how invasive TSA searches become, there's no guarantee anything the agency does will prevent a terrorist attack. A balance must be struck between reasonable security measures and the maintenance of a free society. These decisions cannot be made by Obama administration officials without involving the public in the discussions. Many Tea Party candidates standing for election earlier this month promised they were going to "take our country back." Stopping TSA would be a good first step.
From the November 16 edition of Fox News' Hannity:
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From the November 12 edition of Premiere Radio Networks' The Rush Limbaugh Show:
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From the November 2 edition of Fox News' America Live:
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During its meeting on Friday, the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights was denied a chance to vote on its report attacking the Obama Justice Department over the phony New Black Panthers scandal by a walkout by Democratic Commissioner Michael Yaki, which left the commission without a quorum. In a statement to Media Matters, Yaki ripped the conservative majority that controls the commission, saying that it "has manipulated the process in a manner designed to exclude myself and Commissioners [Arlan] Melendez and [Abigail] Thernstrom, who have opposed this farce from the beginning":
The majority has manipulated the process in a manner designed to exclude myself and Commissioners Melendez and Thernstrom, who have opposed this farce from the beginning. By cancelling last week's meeting at the 11th hour and scheduling today's meeting without consulting our schedules, both Melendez and Thernstrom were denied the opportunity to have their voices heard. When the majority failed to muster their 5 members for quorum, they effectively doomed their own chance to ram this flawed report through.
He also said of the majority, "In their zeal to vote this out before the election, they overreached -- and fell one member short. It's not my job to ensure they have quorum to shove this hatchet job out the door when they have 5 votes -- a quorum -- in their pocket":
We already had our one meeting in October on the 8th. We are part time government officials, with schedules and jobs. They could have voted this out on the 22nd. In their zeal to vote this out before the election, they overreached -- and fell one member short. It's not my job to ensure they have quorum to shove this hatchet job out the door when they have 5 votes -- a quorum -- in their pocket.
As we have noted, the allegation that the Obama DOJ engaged in racially charged "corruption" while prosecuting the case doesn't stand up to the facts. The decision not to pursue criminal charges in the case was made during the Bush administration, and the Obama Justice Department successfully obtained an injunction against the New Black Panther Party member at the center of the investigation.
From the October 22 edition of Premiere Radio Networks' The Glenn Beck Program:
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Family Research Council president Tony Perkins recently suggested that gay youths who committed suicide after being bullied were actually responding to their "despair" after being told by gay-rights groups that "they are 'born gay' and can never change." The FRC has long sought to minimize anti-gay bullying and attacked those who seek to stop it.
From the October 8 edition of Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor:
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