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Hannity And Bolton Develop Sudden Concern For Iranians’ Well-Being - Just In Time To Attack Obama

Thursday, June 25, 2009

By Ellen
News Hounds


After years of longing for war against Iran, Sean Hannity and Fox News contributor John Bolton have developed a sudden affinity for the Iranian people. I'm sure it was just a coincidence that this newfound sensitivity dovetailed neatly into new opportunities to criticize President Obama, this time for not standing up forcefully enough on their behalf. Then, in an irony that seemed to be lost on the two chickenhawks, beat their chests with further bellicosity. Then, revealing an astounding arrogance, Bolton admitted the U.S. is not able to provide much assistance to the dissidents anyway. With video.

After calling Obama "timid" (a term that just happened to echo the GOP party line), Hannity said, "This president needs to learn a lesson from one of his predecessors." He played a clip of former President Reagan speaking out on behalf of dissidents in Poland.

Of course, there are huge differences between Iran and Poland. For one thing, the Polish government was a Soviet puppet regime, unlike the home-grown Iranian government. As Anonymous Liberal writes in a cogent blog post, "The puppet regime in Poland couldn't very well accuse the reformers of being the stooges of a foreign power because that's exactly what they themselves were." Furthermore, A.L. goes on to say, "Poland and the United States did not have the sort of antagonistic history that Iran and the United States have. Therefore, when Reagan expressed solidarity with the Polish reformers, it didn't undermine them politically. Iran is a totally different story. Iranians still resent the U.S. (and justifiably so) for its role in orchestrating the 1953 coup that removed Iran's democratically elected leader. In the 1980s, the United States actively supported Saddam Hussein's Iraq regime in the Iran-Iraq war, a war in which millions of Iranians were slaughtered. And our last president labeled Iran a charter member of the Axis of Evil. Suffice it to say, politicians in Iran aren't exactly tripping over themselves to secure the coveted United States endorsement. The last thing Mousavi and his supporters want is for the President of the United States to express his solidarity with their cause. That would play right in to Ahmadinejad's hands."

Indeed, one of Iran's most high-profile opposition clerics, Mohsen Kadivar, told The Daily Beast, "What Obama has done so far is about perfect... We don't need any special support from (the U.S.). The green movement for democracy and liberty in Iran is independent and we don't need anything from the foreigners. We should get democracy ourselves."

But that view was shut out on Hannity last night (6/22/09). I didn't see it on any other show on Fox News, either....(Remainder.)



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Scientology: The Truth Rundown



Scientology leader David Miscavige is the focus of this special report from the St. Petersburg Times. Former executives of the Church of Scientology, including two of the former top lieutenants to Miscavige, have come forward to describe a culture of intimidation and violence under David Miscavige. These former Scientology leaders served for years with Miscavige.


By Joe Childs and Thomas C. Tobin
St. Petersburg Times


Part ONE of THREE

The leader of the Church of Scientology strode into the room with a boom box and an announcement: Time for a game of musical chairs.

David Miscavige had kept more than 30 members of his church's executive staff cooped up for weeks in a small office building outside Los Angeles, not letting them leave except to grab a shower. They slept on the floor, their food carted in.

Their assignment was to develop strategic plans for the church. But the leader trashed their every idea and berated them as incompetents and enemies, of him and the church.

Prove your devotion, Miscavige told them, by winning at musical chairs. Everyone else — losers, all of you — will be banished to Scientology outposts around the world. If families are split up, too bad.

[ Luke MacGregor | Reuters/Corbis (2006)]
After L. Ron Hubbard died, David Miscavige became Scientology's leader. Former church executives say Miscavige beat his staff. Church officials say the defectors are lying.

To the music of Queen's Bohemian Rhapsody they played through the night, parading around a conference room in their Navy-style uniforms, grown men and women wrestling over chairs.

The next evening, early in 2004, Miscavige gathered the group and out of nowhere slapped a manager named Tom De Vocht, threw him to the ground and delivered more blows. De Vocht took the beating and the humiliation in silence — the way other executives always took the leader's attacks.

This account comes from executives who for decades were key figures in Scientology's powerful inner circle. Marty Rathbun and Mike Rinder, the highest-ranking executives to leave the church, are speaking out for the first time.

Two other former executives who defected also agreed to interviews with the St. Petersburg Times: De Vocht, who for years oversaw the church's spiritual headquarters in Clearwater, and Amy Scobee, who helped create Scientology's celebrity network, which caters to the likes of John Travolta and Tom Cruise....(Remainder.)

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Judas Stephanopoulos Thinks Obama is "Obsessed" With Fox News

By Eric Boehlert
Media Matters


This clip is from Sunday, but it's so indicative of the larger Beltway press problem with regards to Fox News, and how media elites turn a blind eye to its Obama era hate rhetoric, that it still requires attention.

Take a look:




Obama, says Stephanopoulos, is "obsessed" with Fox News and to prove it, ABC airs a clip of Obama declining to even mention Fox News by name. Okay, not exactly the best piece of evidence to support the "obsessed" claim, but Stephanopoulos is sure the charge is true.

I have my doubts though. In fact, my hunch is that if somebody at ABC News dug through all of Obama's public comments since becoming president they'd find that Obama has not made any meaningful references to "Fox News." (i.e Obama may have uttered the words at a count press conferences when calling on a reporter, but nothing more.) So where's the proof he's "obsessed," a phrase Stephanopoulos did not choose lightly and which was clearly used to suggest that something was creepy about Obama's fixation with Fox News....(Remainder.)

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Two Tons of Horse Shit Says Pres. Obama Thinks "Profit is Rape"

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Neil Cavuto on Bill Orally: I Never, Never, Never, Never, Never Mock the President

By Julie
News Hounds


On June 18th, 2009, Bill O'Reilly gave Fox business guy Neil Cavuto a platform to whine about President Obama's shut-out of Fox News. Cavuto made the laughable claim that he never mocks Obama. With video.

O'Reilly ran the clip of President Obama, in an interview with CNBC's John Harwood, saying this,“First of all, I've got one television station that is [laughing] entirely devoted to attacking my Administration . . . . (Harwood interjected, “I assume you're talking about Fox”) “. . . that's a pretty big megaphone. And you'd be hard-pressed, if you watched the entire day, to find a positive story about me on that front.” (When O'Reilly said, later in the segment, that “ . . . he [Obama] knows we're gonna play that clip 100 times?,” he wasn't kidding.)

O'Reilly next cut to a clip of Cavuto, responding to the President: “Okay, so he's not a fan. The President is free to say so, so I am free to say this. If you dismiss us, why do you keep talking about us? If you're so powerful, why do you sound so petty? And if you remind folks you're President of all the people, which you are, why ignore those who challenge you, which you do?”

In keeping with Cavuto's overall whine about being hoist on his own petard, on June 17th, he went on a rant on his show, under the headline “Cavuto Challenges Obama to Be the Bigger Man (When It Comes to FOX),” addressing the President, and saying – in classic “A Few Good Men” style – “You can't handle the truth.” See the video here. It appears Cavuto believes that Fox should be able to get away with its snipes and smears, but when the rubber meets the road, President Obama should turn the other cheek and continue to give Fox props. Seems like a big “not,” eh, Cavuto?

“Wow – here now on Fox News, 'business titan,' Neil Cavuto,” O'Reilly greeted him. “Why are you being so mean to him?”

Cavuto responded, “I can't figure this guy out, I really can't. I mean . . . we're tough on everybody, and you're very tough on everyone. My point is that to deliberately avoid a large audience because you think for some reason it's unfair to you – Bill Clinton in his worst days didn't do that, George Bush with NBC didn't do that . . . .” ...(Remainder.)



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The Real ID Act Is an Unfixable Disaster... Why Tinkering with it Won't Help

By Joan Friedland
Immigration Impact via AlterNet


Introduced by Sen. Akaka (D-HI) last week with 5 co-sponsors, the “Providing for Additional Security in States’ Identification Act” (PASS ID) (S. 1261) would give states a breather from the costs and restrictions imposed by the REAL ID Act, which became law in 2005 without Congressional hearings and as part of must-pass war funding bill. The PASS ID Act, however, would do little for immigrant access to licenses and nothing for a common sense approach to immigration reform.

PASS ID would repeal the REAL ID Act, which numerous states have vociferously opposed as a burdensome, unfunded mandate and akin to creation of a national ID system.  Currently, 23 states have passed laws and resolutions opposing the REAL ID Act, including Arizona whose former governor, Janet Napolitano, is now the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).  But PASS ID—like REAL ID—sets national standards for driver’s licenses.  Driver’s licenses won’t be accepted for federal purposes if they don’t meet the national standards.

Most of the differences between PASS ID and REAL ID actually have nothing to do with immigration. Here’s what PASS ID proposes to do:

The PASS ID Act would:
  • Eliminate the requirement for states to verify documents, impose privacy protections, and appear to shift costs to the federal government. Privacy advocates, though, dispute the claimed improvements in PASS ID, contending that PASS ID and REAL ID are unacceptable “peas in a pod” that create a national ID system.

  • Treat some lawfully present non-citizens more harshly than they were treated in REAL ID.  For example, under PASS ID, applicants for asylum and temporary protected status would be able to get driver’s licenses only if they have work authorization.  That requirement is a senseless burden on people applying for legal status because they are escaping persecution or natural disasters. These applicants still need to drive their children to the doctor or to school, even if they don’t have work authorization.

  • Require regulations that protect privacy rights, but does not mandate any due process protections for immigrants wrongly denied licenses or whose licenses are delayed because of problems with the Systematic Alien Verification for Entitlements (SAVE) system, which states must use to verify immigration status with DHS.

  • Still enable states to issue licenses that don’t comply with the bill.  The few states that do issue licenses—regardless of immigration status—or that still find the requirements burdensome or a risk to privacy can still continue to do so.
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Nancy Pelosi: A Hawk in Donkey's Clothing?

By Stephen Zunes
AlterNet


Congressional approval to continue funding of the ongoing war in Iraq, a major segment of the $90 billion supplemental appropriate package, passed on Tuesday thanks to heavy-handed pressure by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., against anti-war Democrats.

This has led to great consternation here in her home district in San Francisco, where anti-war sentiment remains stronger than ever. The timing of the measure is particularly upsetting given that California's record budget deficit has resulting in the layoffs of tens of thousands of teachers, the incipient closure of almost all of our state parks and draconian cuts in health care, housing, public transportation,the environment, social services and other critical programs. While unwilling or unable to get Congress to provide some financial support for the crisis here at home, our most powerful member of Congress was quite willing to work hard to insure continued financial support for war.

What few people outside of San Francisco realize is that despite representing one of the most liberal congressional districts in the country, Pelosi has been a strong supporter of the Iraq war for most of past seven years.

In 2002, public opinion polls showed that the only reason most Americans would support a U.S. invasion of Iraq was if they were convinced that Iraq was somehow a threat to the United States, such as possessing "weapons of mass destruction." Unfortunately for those supporting a U.S. takeover of that oil-rich country, independent strategic analysts were arguing that the evidence strongly suggested that Iraq had rid itself of its chemical and biological weapons some years earlier....(Remainder.)

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Health Insurance Insider: 'The Dump the Sick'

Retired Health Insurance Executive Blows the Whistle on His Former Industry

By Alice Gomstyn
ABC News Business Unit


Frustrated Americans have long complained that their insurance companies valued the all-mighty buck over their health care. Today, a retired insurance executive confirmed their suspicions, arguing that the industry that once employed him regularly rips off its policyholders.

"[T]hey confuse their customers and dump the sick, all so they can satisfy their Wall Street investors," former Cigna senior executive Wendell Potter said during a hearing on health insurance today before the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation.

Potter, who has more than 20 years of experience working in public relations for insurance companies Cigna and Humana, said companies routinely drop seriously ill policyholders so they can meet "Wall Street's relentless profit expectations."

"They look carefully to see if a sick policyholder may have omitted a minor illness, a pre-existing condition, when applying for coverage, and then they use that as justification to cancel the policy, even if the enrollee has never missed a premium payment," Potter said. "…(D)umping a small number of enrollees can have a big effect on the bottom line."

Small businesses, in particular, he said, have had trouble maintaining their employee health insurance coverage, he said.

"All it takes is one illness or accident among employees at a small business to prompt an insurance company to hike the next year's premiums so high that the employer has to cut benefits, shop for another carrier, or stop offering coverage altogether," he said.

Potter also faulted insurance companies for being misleading both in advertising their policies to new customers and in communicating with existing policyholders....(Remainder.)

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Merchants of Hate, aka Southern Baptists, Boot Church for Not Being Anti-Gay Enough

By Kilian Melloy
Edge New England


A Baptist church in Fort Worth, Texas has not been hard-line enough in its opposition to gays--or so says the Southern Baptist Convention, which has booted the church, Broadway Baptist, out of the fold.

A June 24 article in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported that delegates to the SBC’s convention (convened this year in Louisville, Kentucky) voted to sever ties with the church on June 23 because, executive committee member Stephen Wilson said, "the church was, in effect, saying that it was okay to have members who are open homosexuals."

The church could be readmitted to the SBC if it "unambiguously demonstrates its friendly cooperation with the Convention under" the SBC’s Article III, which sets out membership requirements--among them the stipulation that, "Among churches not in cooperation with the convention are churches which act to affirm, approve, or endorse homosexual behavior."

The SBC has stated its opposition to gays elsewhere, with its Web site setting out a number of position statements, including a dismissal of gays and lesbians as having made a choice to embrace an invalid "alternative lifestyle."

Reads the position statement on gays, "We affirm God’s plan for marriage and sexual intimacy-one man and one woman, for life."

The SBC historically has opposed social progress, including episodes in which it embraced white supremacy and defended slavery.

After the SBC was "taken over" by conservative elements in 1979, the Convention issued an apology for its history of racism.

But the fundamentalist takeover also generated controversy of its own. According to a Wikipedia article, the former president of the Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Russell H. Dilday, denounced the takeover as "a self-destructive, contentious, one-sided feud that at times took on combative characteristics."...(Remainder.)

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Gay Rights Advocates Protest Dem Fundraiser

By Ira Kantor
The Boston Herald


Vice President Joe Biden got an earful from furious protesters camped outside Fenway Park yesterday who hurled insults at him over a recently filed anti-gay legal brief.

Biden didn’t show his face outside the ballpark Democratic fund-raiser, but that didn’t stop the angry crowd from taking aim at the administration’s stance on the Defense of Marriage Act.

Gay rights protesters chanted, “We’ll remember in November, end DOMA now.” Many gays who were staunch supporters of President Obama during his presidential bid are now on the fence after the Justice Department filed a legal brief earlier this month over DOMA that included an argument equating same-sex marriages with underage unions or incest.

“With President Bush, we kind of expected his anti-gay policies and agenda,” said Paul Sousa, 22, co-chairman of Join The Impact Massachusetts. “With Obama, we thought we were getting a friend in the White House.”

Other attendees quickly walked inside the park or stifled smiles as about 40 protesters held signs in the rain across the street from the ballyard.

Despite donating $1,000 to Obama’s presidential campaign, South End resident Rod Ferguson said his support has “waned significantly” in the wake of the brief filing....(Remainder.)

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Torture Eats Away at the Soul of This Nation

By Diana Gibson and Ray McGovern
San Jose Mercury News


Anniversaries can be important. This Friday marks the 22nd anniversary of the U.N. Convention against Torture, ratified and signed under President Reagan. Last Friday marked the 150th day of the presidency of Barack Obama, who is trying to put a definitive end to the torture approved by the Bush-Cheney administration.

That Obama has not been able to do so is our collective shame. Worse still, the president has apparently concluded that he lacks the support to deter future abominations of this sort by launching a proper investigation and holding to account those responsible.

Something evil has seeped into the soul of our nation. Those many years when we looked the other way, choosing to ignore the abuse of detainees in U.S. custody, eroded our morality.

Americans who claim to believe in human dignity and the law do not seem scandalized by this inhumane and illegal activity. Many people of faith appear willing to tolerate unspeakable cruelty. Christians who follow one who himself was tortured by the powers of his time evidently are now ready to justify our own government's use of torture.

It is reminiscent of Germany in the 1930s, when — with very few exceptions — neither Catholic nor Lutheran pastors found their voice. A more recent example: in April 2008 when the pope visited the U.S., the involvement of our most senior government leaders in approving torture dominated the headlines. He ignored the issue entirely.

Surely the deafening silence of the institutional church — again, with a few exceptions — accounts in part for the recent Pew survey showing that a majority of Americans who go to church regularly believe torture can be justified.

As faith leaders, we find this shocking and shameful. There is no counterweight to the demagoguery and politics of fear that hold sway, none to speak to the morality of the issue. None but us.

If you think the torture has stopped, you are wrong. Because of the sad state of our corporate media, it takes extra effort to find out what's actually going on....(Remainder.)

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No, Thank You, Mr. President

By Margaret
The New Gay


I have a confession to make: I am one of those silly people who subscribes to Mrs. O, a fashion blog that analyzes the sartorial choices of the First Lady. And really, she’s very pretty and very creative and such a lovely avatar for the administration that I have placed a lot of hope in. Yet over the past week and maybe a little more, I have been “marking as read” all of the Mrs. O posts that come up in my Google Reader without even glancing over them.

This ambivalence towards following Mrs. Obama (I haven’t yet unsubscribed from Mrs. O) reflects my feelings about the President himself. I knew it would happen one day: the pride and pleasure that I used to receive from following the goings-on of the Administration and of the First Couple has been tarnished. The vultures have been circling since the Inauguration, but it wasn’t until last Friday that the death knell of my hero worship rang. The culprit? The brief supporting DOMA, in the back, with a knife.

The first I heard about the brief was a link to AmericaBlog (also the first time I had heard of AmericaBlog), which summarized the brief. I have not actually read the brief and relied upon this analysis to feed my anger. Yes, if I had to actually read the thing, my outrage would be far less because I wouldn’t have done so. Thank you, technology.

John Avarosis on AmericaBlog takes us through the various arguments against DOMA that the administration made in the brief: the plaintiffs have no standing, DOMA is in fact constitutional, withholding marital benefits from the gay community saves the federal government money, and DOMA should be upheld on its merits for protecting an institution that takes its power and position in society – in all societies – from tradition. Oh, and if Your Honors really need precedent, there are comparable cases where the court found a marriage between an uncle and a niece and one between an adult and a minor invalid because they didn’t conform to society’s standards of acceptable nuptial partners. AmericaBlog went on to assert that an administration is not required to defend the law (though it typically does), and that the writer of the brief is a Bush holdover and a Mormon.

A Mormon....(Remainder.)

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Harvard to Endow Position for Gay and Lesbian Studies

Move made possible with $1.5 million gift from caucus


By Melissa Trujillo
Associated Press via The Durango Herald


BOSTON - Harvard University is creating a visiting professorship in lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender studies with a $1.5 million gift from the Harvard Gay and Lesbian Caucus.

Tom Parry, past president of the Caucus, said he believed the professorship will be the first specifically for sexuality or sexual minorities in the United States. The University of Louisville has a chair in race, class, gender and sexuality studies named for lesbian poet and activist Audre Lorde.

Harvard President Drew Gilpin Faust said the professorship was "an important milestone" for LGBT studies at the university.

Gay and lesbian studies is a relatively young field of academic study. The first programs began in the 1980s, and the Center for Lesbian and Gay Studies at the City University of New York Graduate Center opened in 1991 as the first university-based research center.

Harvard students could not major in gay and lesbian studies until the university made changes in the fall of 2003, Parry said....(Remainder.)

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Fox News Had Hampton's Letter Earlier Than It Said

By Jeff German
Las Vegas Sun


Fox News received Doug Hampton’s letter about Sen. John Ensign’s adulterous affair three days earlier than the network reported, according to information obtained exclusively by the Las Vegas Sun.

Fox said it didn’t receive the letter until June 15, when it arrived as an attachment to an e-mail. But FedEx tracking of a “priority envelope,” which a reliable source said contained the hard copy, shows it was delivered on the morning of June 12.

That would mean the national news organization had additional time to investigate and report Ensign’s affair before the senator’s own admission of the relationship with Hampton’s wife, who worked for the senator’s leadership political action committees.

The earlier delivery date also leaves a larger window of time for someone who either worked at the conservative network or was close to it to tip off Ensign.

On Tuesday, Tom Lowell, senior producer of “America’s Newsroom,” declined to comment on the FedEx delivery. Hampton had addressed his June 11 letter to the co-anchor of “America’s Newsroom,” Megyn Kelly.

“For our part, everything I can answer has sort of been asked and answered at this point,” Lowell said. “I’ve put out everything I knew.”

FedEx representatives confirmed that the document, sent from Las Vegas on June 11, was delivered to the Fox corporate headquarters address in New York City....(Remainder.)

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FBI Arrests White Supremacist Blogger, and Hannity Best Friend, Hal Turner For Threatening To Kill Federal Judges

By Amanda Terkel
Think Progress


Today, FBI agents went to the New Jersey home of white supremacist blogger/radio host Hal Turner and arrested him “on a federal complaint filed in Chicago alleging that he made internet postings threatening to assault and murder three federal appeals court judges in Chicago in retaliation for their recent ruling upholding handgun bans in Chicago and a suburb,” according to a statement released by the Justice Department. A summary of Turner’s dangerous tirade against the judges:
Internet postings on June 2 and 3 proclaimed “outrage” over the June 2, 2009, handgun decision by Chief Judge Frank Easterbrook and Judges Richard Posner and William Bauer, of the Chicago-based 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, further stating, among other things: “Let me be the first to say this plainly: These Judges deserve to be killed.” The postings included photographs, phone numbers, work address and room numbers of these judges, along with a photo of the building in which they work and a map of its location.
Turner’s posts also “referred to the murder of the mother and husband of Chicago-based federal Judge Joan Humphrey Lefkow in February 2005,” saying, “Apparently, the 7th U.S. Circuit Court didn’t get the hint after those killings. It appears another lesson is needed.” In the Justice Department statement, U.S. attorney Patrick Fitzgerald — who announced the charges — said, “We take threats to federal judges very seriously. Period.”

Turner is already in trouble with the law. Earlier this month, he turned himself in to the Connecticut State Police on charges of “inciting violence” against three state officials. He urged his audience to “take up arms” because he was reportedly “angry over legislation that would have given lay members of Roman Catholic churches in Connecticut more control over their parish’s finances.” Turner’s next court appearance in this case is on July 14....(Remainder.)

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Obama Task Force on Torture Considers CIA-FBI Interrogation Teams



Proposal Implicitly Lowers CIA Status on Questioning Terror Suspects


By Spencer Ackerman
The Washington Independent


The task force charged with fleshing out President Obama’s ban on torture in interrogations is likely to recommend the creation of small, mixed-agency teams for interviewing the most important terrorist targets. Representing an implicit demotion of the CIA, which currently has responsibility for interrogating high-level terrorists, the teams would report jointly to the attorney general and the director of national intelligence, according to officials familiar with the proposal.

The teams are the brainchild of three members of the Intelligence Science Board, a panel that reports to the director of national intelligence: forensic psychologist Robert Fein, former Deputy Attorney General Philip Heymann and former CIA official John MacGaffin. About five years ago, the three security experts began researching the available social science literature concerning interrogations in a variety of nations, including the United States, France, the United Kingdom and Japan, in order to inform a humane and effective interrogation regimen. A two-volume report the panel produced — the first phase was released in December 2006; the second, completed last month, is still classified — both repudiated torture and attributed interrogation-related abuses in part to a “shortfall in advanced, research-based interrogation methods at a time of intense pressure from operational commanders to produce actionable intelligence from high-value targets,” Fein wrote in the first volume, ‘Educing Information,’ which The Washington Independent reported on last year.

Last month, J. Douglas Wilson, the Justice Department official who leads the Obama administration’s Special Task Force on Interrogation and Transfer Policies — a panel created by President Obama’s January 22 executive order banning torture — invited the Intelligence Science Board members to Washington to brief the task force on their recommendations. In an oral presentation and a five-page summary of hundreds of pages of work, Heymann said, he and his colleagues recommended the creation of “an organizational structure that could draw” on the experience of a small corps of the best interrogators currently working for the government who “could produce what would very likely be the best non-coercive interrogation or interviewing capacity in the world.” That corps would serve as the first wave of interrogators under the new structure while preparing a syllabus on proper interrogation guidelines for new recruits to the teams....(Remainder.)

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Mark Sanford: The Musical—Don't Cry For Me Right-Wing Media

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MoveOn Targest DiFi On Healthcare in New Ad

By Sam Stein
The Huffington Post


Intensifying efforts to keep recalcitrant Democrats in line on health care, the progressive activist organization MoveOn.org is launching a new television ad calling on Sen. Diane Feinstein to stop "dragging her heels" and support "significant" reform.

"California voters sent Senator Dianne Feinstein to Washington to fight for us," goes the script. "That includes fighting to pass President Obama's health care plan. A recent poll shows that 71% of California voters want a significant overhaul of the health care system now. But Feinstein has been dragging her heels, saying health care may just be too 'difficult.' News flash Senator: We don't expect you to lead just on the easy issues. Senator Feinstein, please: Fight for California. Fight for President Obama's health care reform now."

The ad, which will be released on Friday and runs in Washington D.C., Los Angeles and San Francisco through the week, comes days after Feinstein expressed doubts about health care's passage during a segment on CNN.

The California Democrat has, since then, come under assault from a variety of progressive-leaning health care and advocacy groups, many of which have long viewed her politics skeptically.

As for MoveOn, the new ad also reflects a stepped up effort on its part in the health care debate. The vast majority of the group's five million members already likely support a progressive vision for health care reform. And they could play an important role in maintaining cohesion within Democratic ranks. Feinstein is an early target. But it wouldn't be surprising if there were others....(Original.)



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Glenn Beck, ACORN, and Playing With Dolls...This Moron Has Complete Gone Over the Edge

By Steve Benen
Washington Monthly


Now, I can appreciate the notion that some news stories are hard to explain with just text or words. Graphics, charts, video, etc. can help a news consumer understand an item with more depth.

But when Glenn Beck starts playing with dolls on national television to go after ACORN, explaining a "story" that really isn't especially complicated, it's a helpful reminder of the caliber of "reporting" we're getting from Fox News.

As Nicholas Graham noted, "Beck used the dolls to illustrate that the federal government's probe of ACORN was too narrow, and that by focusing on one of their houses in New Orleans, they were letting the 'villains' just drive away and set up shop elsewhere."

Well, that's probably what Beck was trying to get across. With him, it's hard to say for sure what he's talking about.

I should also note that Beck "reported" that ACORN is in the process of changing its name. In our reality, that's not true, either....(Remainder.)

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Fox Nation Aims Knife at Obama

By Ellen
News Hounds


We've previously reported on Fox Nation's proclivity for pointing guns at President Barack Obama and other prominent African Americans. On June 23, 2009, reader Tim caught the Fox website devoted to "the core principles of tolerance, open debate, (and) civil discourse" aiming a graphic knife at Obama's name. Screen grab after the jump.



(Original.)

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An Open Letter From Iran's Persecuted LGBT Population

By AKA William

I just received an email from a representative from the Organization for Refuge, Asylum, and Migration (ORAM). ORAM’s mission is to advocate for refugees fleeing sexual- and gender-based violence. And it’s motto is, “None of us are secure until we are all safe.

With this in mind, ORAM was asked by the Toronto-based Iranian Queer Organization (IRQO) the voice of Iran’s LGBTs in North America, to help distribute an open letter written by a network of LGBT students from within Iran. And ORAM has, in turn, asked LGBT websites to help spread the letter.

Last week I wrote that Ahmadinejad had given a speech claiming the election protesters were “thieves, homosexuals, and scumbags.” Both Ahmandinejad’s statement and this open letter are a graphic reminder that when one minority fights for its rights, it is fighting for everyone’s rights. Iran’s LGBT population is experiencing this, violently, first-hand.

Please read the letter.
Open letter By the Network of Homosexual University Students of Iran To The International Community:

We know that our realities can sound like passages from an Eastern tale. For this reason, queer students in Iran feel compelled to tell of these tragic measures to the world and to stand witness.

. . . The Homosexual community of Iran has been living under harsh conditions of harassment and fear. We identify with the pain the People endured this last week; those who fought back tears and kept calm under attacks and assaults in which silence was the most effective or only shield. These days, the Government is dismissing demands for justice, opening fire on people, and calling them “less then dust,” “dirt,” “dirty” and “fags,” eliciting years of dual oppression in the mind of homosexual community. Iranian queers have been struggling with the merciless oppressive Regime for years; we know very well what it means to endure cruelty. In recent days, the Islamic Regime has been treating people in the same way it has treated the queer community over the past three decades. It is with this understanding in mind and with a hope for a fair and free future based on equality that we fight side by side, hand in hand against the dictator. We urge the international LGBT community to hear our voice and hear the People of Iran in their demand for new elections. We ask the international LGBT community to assist us in alerting the world of the cruelties and the killings taking place in Iran during these days.

We fear that in the days to come, if the dictator wins, a generation — our generation — will simply be eliminated. These days, the queer movement of Iran is alongside the people’s movement. We are certain that the death of democracy in Iran will sooner or later mean the death of all humanity. We are certain that in the denial of civil and individual rights – as Ahamdinejad did in his first speech after his second round of his appointment to power, calling all protesters “thieves,” “ruffians”, and “fags” – all hopes for a civil society will be wiped out. Yet we live with the hope of rescuing Iran from the spread of fascism.

. . . We ask the international community, the international LGBT community, and human rights organizations or the world to be watchful of the atrocities in the streets of Iran today, to respect the Iranian people’s vote and their wish to live in a democratic society, and to refuse to recognise Ahmadinejad as Iran’s elected president until a new election is held in the presence of UN monitors . . . For the people of Iran, particularly for the queer community and all other minorities, this is the only possible way forward.

Today the Iranian People are relying on their own capacity to resist and assert their quest for justice. This will not happen without the support of the international community.

Praised be the day when Iran is responsive and responsible for all its children and citizens.

In the name of freedom and social justice, Homosexual Students of Universities in Iran
(Original.)

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Responding to Iran

By R.J. Matson
St. Louis Post-Dispatch



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Andrew Sullivan: This is What Demographic Suicide Looks Like



Yglesias made a graph using data from yesterday's DailyKos/Research 2000 poll on the GOP's base of support.



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They Planted a Gay Whore in His News Conferences!!

By emptywheel
Emptywheel @ Firedoglake


I'm going to get to what it means that the AP--purportedly the most neutral source of "news" out there--is harping on the Nico Pitney question. But first, check out what this "news" entity claims in paragraph nine of their story--presumably to meet the AP's requirement for false equivalency.
Grumblings about favored reporters are not unique to the Obama White House. There were suspicions — never proved — that President George W. Bush's press operations often planted friendly questions in his news conferences.
Never proved?!?!

They not only planted friendly questions in their news conferences, they brought in their very own gay prostitute to ask those questions. Not to mention paying people like Armstrong Williams to push their policies and flying their favorite Generals around so they'd pitch the Administration line on teevee.

But in the false equivalency moral universe of the AP, allowing a reporter who has announced he's going to solicit questions from Iranians directly to pose one of those questions is the big scandal.
White House officials phoned a blogger from a popular left-leaning Web site on Monday evening to tell him that President Barack Obama had been impressed with his online reporting about Iran. Could the writer pass along a question from an Iranian during the president's news conference on Tuesday?

Of course. The next day, The Huffington Post's Nico Pitney got a prime location in the White House Briefing Room and was the second reporter Obama picked for a question.
And so the supposedly hyper-neutral arbiter of what is news joins the pout-rage that the journalist doing the best work on a story gets to pose a question on that topic....(Remainder.)

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Grand Ol' Bigots Strike Again

By Leonard Pitts
Miami Herald


The modern GOP was created in 1965 with a stroke of Lyndon Johnson's pen.
If that is an exaggeration, it is not much of one. When Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act, he made a prediction: In committing the unpardonable sin of guaranteeing the ballot to all citizens regardless of race, he said, he would cause his party to lose the South "for a generation."
And indeed Southern Democrats, who for a century had bombed schools, lynched innocents, perverted justice and terrorized millions in the name of intolerance, responded by leaving their ancestral party in droves. They formed the base of a new GOP, a reality acknowledged by Ronald Reagan when he opened his 1980 campaign at a segregationist fair in a town where three civil rights workers were infamously martyred, by declaring, "I believe in state's rights."

In embracing its new southern base, the Republican Party became the Repugnant Party on matters of race, a distinction it has done little to shed. So some of us were disappointed but not surprised last week when Sherri Goforth, an aide to Tennessee state Sen. Diane Black, came under fire for an e-mail she sent out. It depicted the 44 U.S. presidents, showing the first 43 in dignified, statesmanlike poses. By contrast, the 44th, the first African-American, is seen as a pair of cartoon spook eyes against a black backdrop. Goforth's explanation: the e-mail, which went to GOP staffers, was sent "to the wrong list of people."

You may wish to let that one marinate for a moment....(Remainder.)

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An Open Letter to Pres. Obama from People For the American Way: It's Time for LGBT Equality

By Michael B. Keegan
People For the American Way


June 23, 2009

President Barack Obama
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20500

Dear President Obama:

I am writing to respectfully urge you to bring the energetic moral vision that you championed as a presidential candidate to the cause of equality for gay and lesbian Americans.

Among the reasons that millions of people were inspired by your candidacy was your eloquence on behalf of an America in which everyone is offered respect and equality under the law. At People For the American Way, we disagreed with your decision to stop short of supporting marriage equality, but we welcomed the clarity with which you articulated the constitutional principle of equality in so many other areas. That vision energized not only gays and lesbians, but many other fair-minded Americans who recognize discrimination as a national moral failing, who view equality under the law as a defining part of the American Way, and who believe the country is ready to discard discrimination based on bigotries that should be left in our past. That vision would be even more powerful coming from you as president, but since your election we have heard very little.

Any reasonable person is aware of the extraordinary challenges that faced the nation as you took office, including a dire financial crisis that has cost millions of Americans their jobs, homes, and access to health care. You have not shied from these most daunting of challenges. But it seems that you have shied from promoting the vision of equality that you articulated during your campaign.

Legislative change is needed, and we will continue to push Members of Congress and the Democratic leadership to move forward to end discrimination against LGBT Americans even as they grapple with other urgent national priorities. We are counting on you to call for and help win passage of legislation that you pledged to support.

As importantly, Mr. President, you are uniquely capable of communicating to the American public the moral and constitutional values at stake in ending discrimination against gay Americans. Beyond the clear harm to gay and lesbian Americans, the lack of your leadership on these issues damages both America’s sense of fairness and the credibility of your administration.

Your recent action to extend some benefits to the same-sex partners of federal employees, and your statement from the Oval Office committing yourself to work tirelessly toward equality, could have been the kind of moment that was celebrated as a milestone on the march toward equality. But instead it had the feel of, and was reported as, an incremental half-measure rushed onto the stage to placate a discontented political constituency....(Remainder.)

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Obama Messes Up On Health Care, Big Time

By Paul Krugman
The New York Times


Really bad news on the health care front. After making the case for a public option, and doing it very well, Obama said this:
“We have not drawn lines in the sand other than that reform has to control costs and that it has to provide relief to people who don’t have health insurance or are underinsured,” Mr. Obama said. “Those are the broad parameters that we’ve discussed.”
There he goes again, gratuitously making a big gift to the other side.

My big fear about Obama has always been not that he doesn’t understand the issues, but that his urge to compromise — his vision of himself as a politician who transcends the old partisan divisions — will lead him to negotiate with himself, and give away far too much. He did that on the stimulus bill, where he offered an inadequate plan in order to win bipartisan support, then got nothing in return — and was forced to reduce the plan further so that Susan Collins could claim her pound of flesh.

And now he’s done it on a key component of health care reform. What was the point of signaling, right at this crucial moment, that he’s willing to give away the public plan? Let alone doing it at the very moment that he was making such a good case for it?...(Remainder.)

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S.C. Luv Gov. is Antigay

By Michelle Garcia
Advocate.com


South Carolina governor Mark Sanford, who on Wednesday admitted to having an extramarital affair with a woman in Argentina, is also an outspoken advocate for "traditional marriage" who has consistently opposed any form of relationship recognition or adoption rights for gay South Carolinians.

As a U.S. representative, Sanford voted in 1999 to bar gays and lesbians in the District of Columbia from adopting. In 2002, while running for governor, Sanford answered to a survey question that marriage should be restricted to heterosexual couples, and that same-sex partnerships should not be recognized with a separate accommodation such as civil unions.

Last week Sanford told his staff that he would be hiking the Appalachian Trail, but it eventually emerged that he traveled to Argentina to be with his lover. He spent nearly a week in South America, including Father's Day, with the woman. "I spent the last five days of my life crying in Argentina," he said at a press conference today.

Sanford was one of a handful of hopefuls that some were eyeing to carry the Republican presidential ticket in the 2012 election. Others include governors Bobby Jindal of Louisiana, Sarah Palin of Alaska, and Tim Pawlenty of Minnesota....(Original.)

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Dean Drops Out of LGBT DNC Fundraiser

By 365 Gay

(Washington) According to Ben Smith at Politico, former DNC Chairman Howard Dean has pulled out of tomorrow’s LGBT Democratic Party Fundraiser in Washington, D.C. A Dean spokeswoman, Karen Finney, said that he pulled out due to a scheduling conflict because of a “family commitment.” Dean was listed as one of the top four invites to the event, which Vice President Joe Biden is set to attend as well.

The fundraiser has met with much controversy in response to the Justice Department’s defense of the Defense of Marriage Act. Several other prominent figures have dropped out of the fundraiser because of the Obama administration’s stance on DOMA.

“I will not attend a fundraiser for the National Democratic Party in Washington next week when the current administration is responsible for these kind of actions. How will they ever take us seriously if we keep forking out money while they harm us,” said author and civil rights activist David Mixner last week in a statement after pulling out from the fundraiser. “For now on, my money is going to battles within the community such as the fight in Maine or the March on Washington!”

The Servicemembers Legal Defense Network announced Monday that they will have protesters outside of the event tomorrow.

“SLDN will be calling upon the President to end his silence on ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,’” executive director Aubrey Sarvis released in a statement on SLDN’s website Monday. “We will be wearing and handing out buttons with the number 265, representing the number of service members who will have been discharged this week since President Obama was sworn in.”

Chuck Wolfe, president of the Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund, and Hilary Rosen, the managing partner of the DC office of the Brunswick Group, have also dropped out of the event....(Remainder.)

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The O'Reilly Procedure

By Roger Ebert
The Chicago Sun-Times


Bill O'Reilly has been brought low by the same process that afflicted Jerry Springer. Once respected journalists, they sold their souls for higher ratings, and follow their siren song. Springer is honest about it: "I'm going to Hell for what I do, and I know it," he's likes to say. O'Reilly insists he is dealing only with the truth. When his guests disagree with him, he shouts at them, calls them liars, talks over them, and behaves like a schoolyard bully.

I am not interested in discussing O'Reilly's politics here. That would open a hornet's nest. I am more concerned about the danger he and others like him represent to a civil and peaceful society. He sets a harmful example of acceptable public behavior. He has been an influence on the most worrying trend in the field of news: The polarization of opinion, the elevation of emotional temperature, the predictability of two of the leading cable news channels. A majority of cable news viewers now get their news slanted one way or the other by angry men. O'Reilly is not the worst offender. That would be Glenn Beck. Keith Olbermann is gaining ground. Rachel Maddow provides an admirable example for the boys of firm, passionate outrage, and is more effective for nogt shouting.

Much has been said recently about the possible influence of O'Reilly on the murder of Dr. George Tiller by Scott Roeder. Such a connection is impossible to prove. Yet studies of bullies and their victims suggest a general way such an influence might take place. Bullies like to force others to do their will, while they can stand back and protest their innocence: "I was nowhere near the gymnasium, Sister!" A recent study of school shootings found that two-thirds of all the shooters were victims of bullying, and perceived themselves as members of persecuted minorities.

What are TV shouters telling their viewers? They use such anger in expressing their opinions. Who are they trying to convince? They're preaching to the choir. Their viewers already agree with them. No minds are going to be changed. Why are they so mad? In a sense they're saying: You're right, but you're not right ENOUGH! I'm angrier about this than you are! Viewers may get the notion that there's unfinished business to be done, and it's up to them to do it.

How can one effect change? By sincere debate and friendly persuasion? O'Reilly sets the opposite example. He brings on guests who represent the "enemy," doesn't seriously engage their beliefs, and shouts: Be quiet! I'm right and you're wrong! I stand for good and you stand for evil! I'm not exaggerating. Sometimes those are the very words he uses....(Remainder.)

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Here We Go Again: Fox News Labels Disgraced Republican Mark Sanford A Democrat

By Logan Murphy
Crooks and Liars




I think it's just automatic now. When a high-profile Republican gets into trouble, Fox News steps in to mislead their sheep viewers by labeling them as Democrats.


Here's a short list of Fox's chyron hackery:

John McCain - Democrat
Joe Lieberman - Democrat
Arlen Spector - Democrat (when he was still a Republican!)
Mark Foley - Democrat

Media Matters also caught Fox listing a Democratic strategist as Bush's head of FEMA -- because his name happened to be Michael Brown. Oh, and we can't forget the time they announced Rep. William Jefferson's indictment using footage of Congressman John Conyers. They apologized to their audience, but never to Conyers personally.

I'm sure it was just an oversight, just like all the rest...riiiight. Have I missed any?

Dave N:

It's almost a clockwork thing.

Whenever Fox News wants you to forget that someone is actually a Republican, they, ah, accidentally label them a Democrat on their chryon and let it go. So they did that today, as you can see, while Mark Sanford was explaining that he had been in Argentina to screw around on his wife. (They corrected it in later chryons.)

Hardly the first time this has happened....(Remainder.)


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Wingnut Elisabeth Hasselbeck Accused Of Plagiarism



By Logan Murphy

Crooks and Liars


There have been a number of right wingers who have been accused of plagiarism and lifting other's work in recent years. Most notably, Cindy McCain, Ann Coulter and Ben Domenech and more recently, Sarah Palin was caught lifting passages from Newt Gingrich. Now, an author has accused wingnut Elisabeth Hasselbeck of lifting her content "word for word" in her new book:
BOSTON – The author of a health book has sued Elisabeth Hasselbeck, accusing the co-host of ABC's "The View" of plagiarism.

The lawsuit, filed Monday in federal court in Massachusetts, alleges that Hasselbeck lifted "word for word" content from a book written by Susan Hassett, a self-published author on Cape Cod.

Hassett said in the lawsuit that she sent Hasselbeck a personal note and copy of her "Living With Celiac Disease" book as a courtesy after the television celebrity disclosed she had the illness last year.

Wasn't that nice of Elisabeth? Hassett was kind enough to send her a copy of her book, only to find out that she lifted parts of it to write her own. Not only does she lift passages, Hassett claims that Hasselbeck's book contains bogus and possibly dangerous information...(Remainder.)

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Saving Fetus Americans

By Gen. JC Christian
Jesus' General


First, I want to thank you for asking the FBI to interview me for "threatening your life." I can't wait for them to contact me. It'll be a great opportunity for me to show actual representatives of the United States government all the good work we're doing--me, with my spermatazoan-American liberation and housing project (I'm hoping the agent will help me fill up the rest of this mason jar), and you, with your tacit encouragement of those who would assassinate our nation's doctors.

I've been thinking a lot about the work you're doing lately, and all the success the Coerced Childbirth Movement has had in reducing the number of doctors willing to perform late-term abortions. I'm not sure how many there were ten years ago, but after a decade of pro-life assassinations, there appear to be only two (and maybe only one, soon, if an assassin for Jesus puts the photos and addresses to which you linked to use.

That means there are a lot more babies being born to suffer in extreme pain for a few hours before they pass into Jesus' compassionate hands. Now, that might be what Jesus wants. We know he loves his pain and suffering--why else would he command she-bears to tear 40 children apart simple because the kids made fun of a bald guy--but then again, maybe He wants us to do a little more to help those children after they're born.

No, I'm not suggesting something immoral like providing them with welfare or education or anything like that. I mean, maybe we could make it easier for doctors to find adult stem cells to inject into these tiny fetus-Americans while they're still snuggled up in their flesh incubators.

As it is, it's hard to find good, adult stem cells. There just aren't a lot of them in an adult; they are impossible to grow in cultures; and, with the exception of those found in brains, they're not very good at transforming into the proper cells. So what we need is a bigger supply of brains, so we can increase our supply of stem cells from those brains. Does that make sense?...(Remainder.)

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Uncle Tom and House Negro, Jamie Lee Paterson, Thinks that Obama Hates America

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Big Ed Schultz Takes on the Savage Weiner's Attack of Media Matters in Psycho Talk

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Butt-Boy Hannity Advances Cheney's False Claim About Mirandizing Detainees

By Media Matters

On the June 23 edition of his Fox News show, Sean Hannity agreed with Liz Cheney's baseless suggestion that U.S. military personnel are administering Miranda warnings to detainees immediately upon capture. In fact, as Media Matters for America has previously noted, a June 10 Weekly Standard article about the issue reported that "the Obama Justice Department has quietly ordered FBI agents to read Miranda rights to high value detainees captured and held at U.S. detention facilities in Afghanistan." The article did not say that military personnel had been ordered to read Miranda rights to detainees. In addition, Fox News national security correspondent Jennifer Griffin has reported that FBI personnel, not military personnel, have read Miranda rights to detainees in select instances. In addition, the reading of Miranda warnings to detainees held in Afghanistan reportedly began during the Bush administration.

During a discussion about President Obama's foreign policy, Cheney claimed, "We're also now capturing guys on the battlefield, and the first thing we say to them is, 'You have the right to remain silent,' " which Hannity called "insane." Cheney then stated that "if what you're trying to do is get information, that's clearly not the way to do it." Hannity then said, "[W]e're going to Mirandize enemy combatants in a time of war," to which Cheney responded, "Yes."

However, as Media Matters has previously noted, on the June 10 edition of Fox News' Special Report, Griffin reported that "U.S. commanders tell Fox soldiers are not reading Miranda rights to detainees, but those commanders could not speak to the FBI doing so." Griffin also reported that Justice Department spokesman Dean Boyd stated that "[t]here has been no policy change nor blanket instruction issued for FBI agents to Mirandize detainees overseas" and that "there have been specific cases in which FBI agents have Mirandized suspects overseas at both Bagram and in other situations in order to preserve the quality of evidence."...(Remainder.)

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Whack-a-Doodle Kondracke Says That Democrats More Tolerant of Adulterers

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Faux News' Special Reponrt on the "Little Criticism" Media Has Given to Obama Golfing

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Mental Midget Hannity Falsely Claims CBO Said Americans Will Loose Health Coverage

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Raving Lunatic Coulter Still Trotting Our Her Insane "Liberal's Hate America" Bullshit

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Lying Sack of Dog Mess Falsely Claims Nobel Laureate Paul Krugman "Missed" the Housing Bubble

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Dana Milbank Incensed by "Planted Question"—But Not Enough to Tell Readers What it Was

By Media Matters

Asserting that President Obama's June 23 press conference included "prepackaged entertainment," Dana Milbank wrote in his June 24 Washington Post column that Huffington Post national editor Nico Pitney was "a planted questioner" who asked "a preplanned question." Milbank further wrote: "The use of planted questioners is a no-no at presidential news conferences, because it sends a message to the world -- Iran included -- that the American press isn't as free as advertised." But while Milbank noted that "Pitney said the White House" was "not aware of the question's wording," he did not quote or paraphrase the question itself, which Guardian America editor Michael Tomasky described as "an important and tough question that got right to the heart of the matter." The Washington Monthly's Steve Benen called it "a terrific question that the president wasn't anxious to answer," while Salon.com's Glenn Greenwald referred to it as "one of the toughest questions at the Press Conference."

During the press conference, Obama said to Pitney, "Nico, I know that you, and all across the Internet, we've been seeing a lot of reports coming directly out of Iran. I know that there may actually be questions from people in Iran who are communicating through the Internet. ... Do you have a question?" Pitney replied:
PITNEY: Yeah, I did, but I wanted to use this opportunity to ask you a question directly from an Iranian. We solicited questions last night from people who are still courageous enough to be communicating online, and one of them wanted to ask you this: Under which conditions would you accept the election of [Iranian President Mahmoud] Ahmadinejad? And if you do accept it without any significant changes in the conditions there, isn't that a betrayal of the -- of what the demonstrators there are working towards?
(Remainder.)

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Right-Wing Butt Boy, Hannity, Falsely Claims Pitney Said WH Chose His Question

By Media Matters

As purported evidence for his claim that President Obama "appeared to have prior knowledge of a question that he would be asked" at a June 23 White House press conference by Huffington Post national editor Nico Pitney, Sean Hannity falsely claimed on his Fox News show that Pitney "explained that a White House staffer called him earlier in the morning" and "asked him to prepare th[e] question" he asked Obama. In fact, both Pitney and the White House deny that Obama had prior knowledge of the question Pitney asked.

During the press conference, Obama said to Pitney, "Nico, I know that you, and all across the Internet, we've been seeing a lot of reports coming directly out of Iran. I know that there may actually be questions from people in Iran who are communicating through the Internet. ... Do you have a question?" Pitney replied:

    PITNEY: Yeah, I did, but I wanted to use this opportunity to ask you a question directly from an Iranian. We solicited questions last night from people who are still courageous enough to be communicating online, and one of them wanted to ask you this: Under which conditions would you accept the election of Ahmadinejad? And if you do accept it without any significant changes in the conditions there, isn't that a betrayal of the -- of what the demonstrators there are working towards?

Following the press conference, Pitney provided an account of the circumstances that led to his question, writing: "I received a call from White House staff saying they had seen what I'd written and thought the President might be interested in receiving a question directly from an Iranian." Pitney added: "They were up front about not being able to assure that a question would be asked [and] they never asked what the question would be."...(Remainder.)

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