Episode 411 : Pete and Brett Veinotte of the School Sucks Podcast Discuss a Post Covid-19 World

Episode 411 : Pete and Brett Veinotte of the School Sucks Podcast Discuss a Post Covid-19 World

92 Minutes

PG-13

Pete invited the host of the School Sucks Podcast, Brett Veinotte, to return to the show to have a discussion about where they see society headed in a “post-Covid-19” world.

SchoolSucks.com

Link to Richard Grove’s Autonomy Course

Donate at the Libertarian Institute

Episode 358: Dave Smith And Pete Hit Random Topics And Talk About Ben Shapiro

Episode 358: Dave Smith And Pete Hit Random Topics And Talk About Ben Shapiro

61 Minutes

Some Strong Language

60 Minutes

In a throwback episode, Pete welcomed Dave Smith to the show. Dave is a successful standup comedian and host of the most popular libertarian podcast in the world, Part of the Problem. Pete and Dave talk about some of the most outrageous recent news stories and a column written by Ben Shapiro in 2002. Enjoy!!!

Part of the Problem

Dave’s Website

Ben Shapiro Article

Donate at the Libertarian Institute

Pete’s Link to Sign Up for the LP

Lions of Liberty Podcast

Link to Richard Grove’s Autonomy Course

Episode 342: James Bovard on Ruby Ridge, Waco, 9/11 and the Bundy Ranch

Episode 342: James Bovard on Ruby Ridge, Waco, 9/11 and the Bundy Ranch

35 Minutes

PG-13

In a flashback episode, Pete welcomes author and investigative journalist James Bovard. James is the author of 10 books mostly detailing waste, failures, corruption, cronyism and abuses of power in government. James talks about the growth of federal policing in the wake of Ruby Ridge, Waco, OKC, 9/11 and the Bundy Ranch standoff.

Jim’s Site

Jim’s Waco/Ruby Ridge/Gun  Archive

Pete’s Link to Sign Up for the LP

Lions of Liberty Podcast

Link to Richard Grove’s Autonomy Course

Episode 334: ‘The Left, the Right and the State’ w/ Lew Rockwell

Episode 334: ‘The Left, the Right and the State’ w/ Lew Rockwell

41 Minutes

Suitable for All Ages

One of Pete’s favorite libertarian books is “The Left, the Right and the State’ by Lew Rockwell. Lew agreed to come on the show and talk about some of the themes in the book and Pete was happy to have him on.

Llewellyn H. Rockwell, Jr., is founder and chairman of the Mises Institute in Auburn, Alabama, editor of LewRockwell.com and former Chief of Staff to Ron Paul.

LewRockwell.com

Mises Institute

The Left, the Right and the State

Against the State – An Anarcho-Capitalist Manifesto

Lions of Liberty Podcast

Link to Richard Grove’s Autonomy Course

 

Fear is the Liberty Killer

Fear is the Liberty Killer

An overused term that is invoked to describe the United States, the largest government in the history of mankind, is “free country.” Does anyone actually believe that, or is it something to use as a bludgeon against those who seek to change particulars about said leviathan that they deem to be essential; their pet issue? Whether it is the right to own guns with “conservatives” (allegedly protected by a piece of paper), or abortion with the left (same, the Supreme Court decision invoked the 4th Amendment), that phrase, “free country,” is a dagger thrown at anyone who would seek to restrict either. This raises a question; how free are you if you have to point to a document that has been twisted and manipulated into meaning just about anything by 9 priests with lifetime appointments? Many in history have disagreed with the meaning of the 1st Amendment which is written in such a way that a 5-year-old clearly understands it. That is, until they get into a government school that teaches them that what they saw as logical as a youngster, is much more complicated. Especially when you take people’s “safety” into account. 

It is clear to anyone who examines it, that when a new law is passed, government agency created, or there is just an expansion of local, state or federal law enforcement, the reasons given to the public to justify this are ones that are meant to induce only one emotion; fear. Fear is the great liberty killer and a society that has been taught that the government is here to be their protector and provider in all things, allows its unlimited expansion when that emotion is created by those who seek to rule them. This is clear when you break down certain issues. 

Foreign Policy and the ‘War on Terror’ 

When you bring up 9/11 to people you get varied reactions. Emotions such as sadness and rage are most common in this author’s experience. Many times, both are present. The one response you rarely hear is fear. Why? People see that as an emotion to be embarrassed about. When you’re mourning a loss or fuming with anger, everyone sees those as justifiable. No one want to been seen as scared. Especially in a “free country.” 

Don’t be fooled, fear was the reason people accepted the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq. It directly led to people’s support for the TSA and the “PATRIOT Act.” Fear is how people justify their elderly parents and grandparents, and young children, being groped and probed by publicly-funded deviants in every airport in the land. It’s all to keep us safe from those terrorists who “hate us for our freedoms.” If that were true, considering how much liberty has been lost, shouldn’t that be a mild dislike by now? Who are you trying to fool? This is about seeing a terrorist at every gate in every airport, and God forbid someone wearing a hijab gets on your plane! 

The ‘War on Drugs’ 

Let’s congratulate “drugs” for winning the “War on Drugs.” And, if we’re honest, the majority of this “war” is about a plant that grows in nature and doesn’t need to be processed to be used. Referring to cannabis as a “drug” is one of the greatest propaganda achievements in the history of tyrannies. Yet, it was sold as an “evil weed” through fear, full stop.  

Harry Anslinger, the father of cannabis prohibition (the term cannabis is being used because “marijuana” was a word invented to sound ethnic, another fear tactic), knew how to manipulate “good Christians,” and the public in general, into being frightened of that “evil weed” that caused people to participate in the most “depraved” of actions. Here are some examples of Anslinger’s work: 

How many murders, suicides, robberies, criminal assaults, holdups, burglaries and deeds of maniacal insanity it causes each year, especially among the young, can only be conjectured…No one knows, when he places a marijuana cigarette to his lips, whether he will become a joyous reveler in a musical heaven, a mad insensate, a calm philosopher, or a murderer… 

Traffic in marijuana is increasing to such an extent that it has come to the be cause for the greatest national concern. This drug is as old as civilization itself. Homer wrote about, as a drug that made men forget their homes, and that turned them into swine. In Persia, a thousand years before Christ, there was a religious and military order founded which was called the Assassins and they derived their name from the drug called hashish which is now known in this country as marijuana. They were noted for their acts of cruelty, and the word “assassin” very aptly describes the drug. 

 This quote may be apocryphal, but is widely credited to him: 

Most marijuana smokers are colored people, jazz musicians, and entertainers. Their satanic music is driven by marijuana, and marijuana smoking by white women makes them want to seek sexual relations with Negroes, entertainers, and others. It is a drug that causes insanity, criminality, and death — the most violence-causing drug in the history of mankind. 

It’s all about fear. Tyrannies have counted on the easily manipulated masses to believe whatever embellishments of the truth, or outright lies, they peddle. From the beginning of the smallest clans to the birth of the modern nation-state, fear of the other, or the unknown, has been used to get individuals to collectivize allowing a small minority to dictate what is in their best interests when it comes to safety. It happened after 9/11 (and it’s only gotten worse), and it continues in the insane “War on Drugs” that is responsible for the “freest country in world” having the most people incarcerated per capita with the next closest country far off in the distance.  

If individuals fail to examine themselves when it comes to the level of fear they’re living with, and how this directly correlates to how much tyranny they’re willing to abide, the term “free country” will become even more of a punchline than it is at the present moment. Unless they are prepared to investigate from where, and how, these feelings of trepidation have come into their lives, they should count on the chains getting tighter, and the leash shortening. The ideas of true liberty can be foreign, even frightening, to those who have never considered them, who’ve been taught that the status quo is the best that can be expected. Doing everything to help the scales to fall from their eyes should be a priority to those who have already enjoyed the experience. 

Year Zero: Bin Laden’s Victory

Year Zero: Bin Laden’s Victory

On the 1 year anniversary of Year Zero, episode 65, Tommy looks at the effects of 9/11. Given all the lies told by the US government surrounding 9/11 It’s easy to see why the truther community still grows and thrives. So much so that one must wonder if the conspiratorial angles were intentionally inserted to keep that truth secret. While these narratives are being debated Bin Laden is victorious peacefully in his grave.

Listen to Year Zero 

Bring the Troops Home

Bring the Troops Home

You know where you were.

Chances are if you’re over the age of 30 you not only remember where you were but how you felt that tragic day. There was no escaping the images of pluming smoke clouds encompassing New York City, flames exploding from the windows of the twin towers, 767’s disintegrating on impact, and people leaping to their deaths to escape the inferno cooking the flesh from their bodies. Most of America observed helplessly as television cameras captured the chaos and death in real time.

I remember where I was. Basic training; Ft Benning, GA; C Co 2-47 – Charlie Rock.

The morning began like any other. I jumped from my bunk at 0500, tucked in tight hospital corners and smoothed down any lumps that appeared in the bedding, dressed for PT, brushed my teeth, and ran to formation. We engaged in a series of exercises (PT), then off to shower and prepare for breakfast.

Wide awake and ready for the day ahead the platoon of my 64 fellow recruits showered and slipped into BDU’s, but before we could make our way down to formation for chow a pair of drill sergeants burst into the barracks violently. All chatter stopped instantly. You could hear a pin drop as the entire room snapped to parade rest in unison. Tension grew thick in the open barracks. Trouble was coming. We’d witnessed this scene before… or so we thought.

“Men,” one drill sergeant boomed. Sweat gleamed on his forehead, his tight jawline clenched in anger, and he seemed at a loss for words.

The second drill sergeant looked around the room. His large brown eyes welled with tears as he placed a hand on the speaker’s shoulder.

“We’ve been attacked,” he continued.

After this, I don’t remember much of what was said. It didn’t seem to matter. We entered formation more robotic than ever, and we marched to the chow hall for breakfast. I wasn’t more than a foot in the door when I noticed the rarely used televisions displaying a news channel. I read the updates scrolling across the bottom of the screen for a moment, then turned away. Within moments the room gasped. My eyes lifted to the TV again. An instant later the screen framed a large airliner crashing into the south tower.

We all knew immediately; America was at war.

I later found out about the other two planes: one successfully targeting the Pentagon and the other downed in an abandoned field.

There are many memories of that morning, each story delivered with an extraordinary amount of detail.

Everyone was impacted that day; the day a ragtag bunch of terrorists successfully out flanked our intelligence agencies, took 3000 American lives, and altered the New York skyline forever – altered America forever.

Soon after the attacks, as one might expect, the US Military was deployed to Afghanistan to find and kill the 400 Al Qaida fighters responsible for planning, funding, and carrying out the attacks on 9/11.

The story would have long been over, families remaining intact and thousands of heart-aches avoided, had it ended there.

 

17 Years Later:

So much has changed at home – bulk Metadata collection, no privacy, militarization of police around the country, whistle blowers are in more danger than ever, due process is all but dead, and politics is center stage as the Democrats and Republicans wrestle each other over ever expanding powers – while in Afghanistan there seems to be no progress despite al Qaida being destroyed, and in Pakistan Osama bin Laden being killed.

United States foreign policy, true to its history of Manifest Destiny, began invading, intervening, and interrupting countries throughout the Middle East and Africa.

Not long after setting up shop in Afghanistan the Taliban became a target. That was followed by a war in Iraq that successfully removed Saddam Hussein and empowered Iran. Interventions in Syria, Libya, Somalia, Pakistan, and Sudan finally created enough of a vacuum that a new organization rose to prominence – ISIS.

In 2008 the country spiraled into an economic crisis. To date, many regions of the nation have yet to recover completely, but still the US has spent upwards of $5.6 trillion in the Middle East.

Despite the continued suffering of Americans still in recovery, the wealthy suburbs of Washington D.C. have flourished. Between bailouts and military contracts, the lobbyists and friends of elite politicians have centered most of the wealth of our country in and around the capital city.

One must ask, how did this happen?

Are these wars being used to enrich arms dealers, lobbyists, and politicians?

Is the $110 billion arms deal to Saudi Arabia small potatoes compared to what’s been happening behind the scenes since 2001?

Are American soldiers being used as resources to enrich the elite brokers in and around DC?

If that’s not the case, why continue to send our sons, daughters, mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, and friends to fight, die, and be maimed in meaningless conflicts?

If that is the case, I find nothing more dispassionate and inhumane than shuffling men and women that volunteered to protect our nation around like resources fit for disposal so that foreign nations, defense contractors, arms dealers, and politicians are made rich on the back of their sacrifice while the soldiers themselves are left dead, maimed, disfigured, or destroyed in many cases. I find it disgusting to consider; and given the devastation of the family due to these wars I don’t think we should stand by and take it anymore.

 

Continued Aftermath:

In a study published in the Jama Network August 15, 2012 Charles W. Hoge, MD and Carl A. Castro, PhD

conclude, ” Before the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the incidence of suicide in active duty US service members was consistently 25% lower than that in civilians.” And, ” Between 2005 and 2009, the incidence of suicide in Army and Marine personnel nearly doubled.”

Doubled! In four years!

Since then, the CDC has released findings that upwards of 20 troops a day are committing suicide. In an article entitled VA Reveals its Veteran Suicide Statistic Included Active-Duty Troops published June 21, 2018 on Military.com the VA’s most recent National Suicide Data Report reveals that out of 20.6 veteran suicides reported each day, “16.8 are veterans and 3.8 are active-duty service members. That amounts to 6,132 veterans and 1,387 servicemembers who died by suicide in one year.”

For what?

To what benefit?

That’s 7,519 families broken each year by the ominous effects of a series of feckless wars in which a small minority of wealthy men and women in the country benefit. That’s 7,519 children without a parent; parents without children; siblings lost forever… Each year!

In researching the subject, I didn’t want to repeatedly cite the same suicide statistics everybody uses. I wanted to go deeper, and in doing so I found an Oxford study that I couldn’t ignore.

On August 29, 2018 Posttraumatic Stress Disorder Diagnosis is Associated with Reduced Parasympathetic Activity During Sleep in US Veterans and Military Service Members of the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars was published. The study’s purpose was to measure and compare high-frequency heart rate variability in veterans with and without PTSD symptoms. What they found is that subjects suffering from PTSD have lower high-frequency heart rate variability leading to a greater risk of cardiovascular events that could prove to be fatal.

In another Oxford study published March 26, 2018 it is observed “cardiovascular disease and cancer accounted for about 1/3 of deaths” of service members that have served in Iraq or Afghanistan. This study measured 24,206 Iraq and Afghanistan veterans giving us a total of 7,987 young veterans dying from either cardiovascular events or cancer after returning home.

That’s 7,519 multiplied over a series of years plus another 7,987 families without a loved one, and that doesn’t account for those that have died in the line of duty.

How many more men and women are we going to lose to these senseless wars?

November 6, 2016:

The election of 2016 came as a surprise to many. Donald Trump defeated Hillary Clinton in the Electoral College while speaking frankly on many issues that shocked the established Washington elite. One of these very issues was the withdrawal of American troops from the Middle East.

Many argue that Trump’s attacks on American policies in the oil rich countries was instinctive rather than well informed. The idea that having the correct instinct despite lack of information disqualifies your chosen policies rings absurd in its hubris.

Trump had been clear in his public statements and tweets in regard to the war in Afghanistan and Iraq war 2, stating several times leading up to his campaign that it is “time to get out” of Afghanistan and “rebuild the U.S.” first, and that entering Iraq was “one of the worst decisions in the history of the country.” Unfortunately, Trump’s administration was soon polluted with rank and file interventionists that have since convinced Trump that if the U.S. were to withdrawal, he’d be the sole heir to the devastation left behind. This is not true.

Mr. President, I implore you, aim your comments at Bush and Obama. Tell the American people you cannot, in good conscience, continue the brutal assault on the people of the Middle East, and the psyches of American soldiers in the name of saving the reputations of two of the worst presidents in the history of our country.

Al Qaida has long been destroyed. ISIS came to existence on our watch, and they’ve been decimated in the last two years.

Americans are suffering. Spouses are suffering. Children are suffering. We are all suffering.

It’s time we end the intervention in the Middle East and bring our service members home before the rising body count includes a generation born after the horrific attacks on 9/11.

 

Gen. Dunford: US Must Stay in Afghanistan or Get Another 9/11

Gen. Dunford: US Must Stay in Afghanistan or Get Another 9/11

With war fatigue finally setting in a generation into the US occupation of Afghanistan, there is talk of negotiating a peace deal, or withdrawing. Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Joe Dunford opposes this idea.

Gen. Dunford argued that the US has to staying Afghanistan “to contain terrorists,” otherwise there would be another 9/11. He pointed to the last 17 years of occupation as having disrupted such plots.

Dunford’s position seems to set out permanent war as a reality for Afghanistan, with no real end game even being sought. With the war being lost at an alarming rate, it’s not clear how long this could drag on.

Yet Dunford dismissed concerns about how bad the situation in Afghanistan is, saying that his priority isn’t security and stability in Afghanistan, but to protect “the American people, the homeland, and our allies.”

Reprinted from antiwar.com

 

DOJ Fails to Pursue Allegations of Saudi Lobbying Misconduct

DOJ Fails to Pursue Allegations of Saudi Lobbying Misconduct

In March 2017, a group of 9/11 families presented the Department of Justice with 17 pages of detailed allegations that Qorvis Communications had, on behalf of Saudi Arabia, conducted a lobbying campaign against the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act (JASTA) characterized by extensive violations of the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA).

In the worst instance, veterans who were flown to Washington to lobby against the measure say Qorvis withheld the fact that it was bringing them to Capitol Hill to advance the Saudi agenda, and that the kingdom was paying for their airfare, lodging and meals.

Eighteen months after 9/11 families filed their formal complaint, there’s no indication any investigation ever took place. “It’s one of the most deceptive campaigns that any foreign lobbying operation has ever done, and yet there’s been no punishment whatsoever,” says Ben Freeman, director of the Foreign Influence Transparency Initiative.

Justice Department national security spokesman Marc Raimondi declined to comment.

Meanwhile, a recent revelation by a retired FBI counterintelligence agent offers yet another indication of a systemic DOJ tendency to put protection of the kingdom’s reputation ahead of the pursuit of justice.

Veterans Tricked into Lobbying for the Kingdom

In September 2016, Congress enacted JASTA by overriding President Obama’s veto. Saudi Arabia then unleashed a massive campaign aimed at amending the law, which cleared the way for 9/11 victims to sue the kingdom for financial and logistical support allegedly provided by government officials.

That campaign tapped many firms in Saudi Arabia’s formidable influence arsenal, but the claims of misconduct focus on the kingdom’s flagship lobbying and public relations firm: Qorvis Communications, a subsidiary of MSLGROUP.

Facing Americans’ deep sympathy for 9/11 families, Saudi Arabia and Qorvis sought a sympathetic face of their own for their campaign to weaken JASTA, and found it in U.S. military veterans.

Saudi Arabia, Qorvis and the kingdom’s allies in U.S. government–most notably, senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham—pushed a coordinated campaign built on the claim that, if JASTA were allowed to stand, U.S. service members and veterans going back as far as the Vietnam War would be exposed to lawsuits abroad.

That’s false, according to William S. Dodge, former counselor on international law at the State Department. “JASTA poses no risk of exposing U.S. service members to lawsuits in foreign courts. JASTA deals only with the immunity of foreign states, not individuals,” Dodge told 28Pages.org last year.   

Though empty, the claim proved all too effective in creating alarm among well-intentioned veterans recruited via a grassroots campaign carried out by scores of political consultants across the country.

Many were persuaded to sign group letters to Congress or send individual messages of their own. Some agreed to put their names on op-ed pieces printed in newspapers around the country that used identical language.

Qorvis appears to have used a bounty system, with the highest reward given for persuading veterans to travel to Washington. In an email pitch to veterans, Saudi agent Shelbi Lewark wrote, “You don’t have to know anything about JASTA…They will be putting you in the Trump hotel, which is incredibly nice…It’s an awesome trip and basically like a 5 star vacation.”

Offered the chance for a free trip to the nation’s capital to work alongside fellow veterans for a cause they believed to be noble, upwards of two hundred or more leapt at the opportunity over a period of months.

Many were in for a terrible surprise, telling 28Pages.org they didn’t find out the kingdom was pulling the strings until they’d already started making the rounds on Capitol Hill. Several say organizers didn’t merely conceal Saudi Arabia’s role, but actively denied it.

Victimized Veterans Ask: Where’s the Investigation?

In a series of articles published here last year, veterans expressed outrage over the fraud perpetrated upon them by Qorvis and its hired hands.

Now, well over a year after they spoke out about the Saudi-Qorvis scam, three of the veterans lured into the Saudi web want to know why the Justice Department hasn’t contacted them or taken any other discernible action.

“The government not in some way looking into this just raises all kinds of red flags as to where their loyalties are,” says T.J. Hermesman, a Marine veteran who deployed to Afghanistan.

“One part of me feels like it’s fucking crazy. The other part of me says it’s business as usual,” says David Casler, a former Marine who deployed to Iraq. “Our geopolitical relationship with the kingdom of Saudi Arabia is such that they can pretty much get away with anything and everything.”

Hermesman says the DOJ is sending the wrong message to Saudi Arabia and other foreign governments. “If there’s no response whatsoever, it’s going to show the door’s wide open,” he says.

Noting that former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort was charged under FARA in the Mueller probe while the sprawling Saudi lobbying scandal has gone completely uninvestigated, lawyer and retired Army officer Lorraine Barlett says selective prosecution “politicizes the legal system, undermines the rule of law nationwide and promotes disobedience.”

“To me, it falls on the hands of senators and Congress,” says Casler. “Why aren’t they asking for an investigation into this? We walked up on their doorstep and they were pretty much blatantly lied to. You would figure they would be the most pissed off and say ‘Ok, we have an American company operating as pretty much a rogue agent for a foreign government. Why aren’t we investigating them, penalizing them, making sure this doesn’t happen again?’”

Qorvis Condemned

The veterans remain indignant over their treatment at the hands of Qorvis, which is on a $279,500 monthly Saudi retainer and received $6.2 million from the kingdom during the six-month period that encompassed most of the veterans lobbying program.

“Where do they come from to think that’s an OK idea to use veterans like that?” asks Hermesman.

While Saudi Arabia has a well-established reputation for ruthlessness, the veterans find Qorvis’s conduct all the more galling considering most or all of the firm’s executives and employees are their fellow Americans.

If he met the architects of the Qorvis scam, Hermesman says he’d ask, “How does it feel to completely lose your loyalty and not only go against your own country but go so far as to use young war veterans? It’s a pretty crazy level of disrespect and disloyalty.”

“It’s absolutely reprehensible,” says Barlett, who was brought to Washington by Qorvis-affiliated Capitol Media Group. “It’s unbelievable that they would stoop that low. They obviously have no shame and they’re willing to push the envelope as far as they can push it. They have no moral compunction about exploiting a group of citizens who would otherwise be deemed worthy of respect.”

Campaign Used Unregistered Agents

If the DOJ were to investigate the Qorvis campaign, they would likely find the firm ran roughshod over a variety of FARA requirements.

For starters, those working on behalf of a foreign government are required to register with the DOJ as agents of that government; many involved in the sprawling campaign against JASTA did not. Failure to register can trigger fines of up to $10,000 and prison terms of up to five years.

To take one apparent example of an unregistered agent on the Qorvis campaign, consider political consultant Elliott Schwartz. A partner at QE Intelligence, Schwartz previously ran the war room for Jeb Bush’s presidential campaign and was director of research for the anti-Trump Our Principles PAC.

According to Army veteran Barlett, Schwartz made travel arrangements, emailed an itinerary of activities, met veterans at their hotel and accompanied them to Capitol Hill. However, he does not appear in a search of the DOJ database of foreign agents.

Similarly, veterans have identified three individuals—Daniel Tinsley, Dustin Tinsley and Cole Azare—who helped organize and lead a veterans lobbying operation led by registered agent Jason Johns. None of the three registered with the Justice Department.

FARA’s registration requirement applies regardless of whether one’s efforts are compensated. Thus, had the campaign been operated with required transparency, it would seem that each of the hundreds of volunteer veterans should have registered too. Of course, had Qorvis told them they’d have to register as an agent of Saudi Arabia, the program’s true objectives would have been revealed and most wouldn’t have signed on in the first place.

The Justice Department also seems to have tolerated non-compliance that should be readily apparent to its staff: Capitol Media Group has failed to file the twice-yearly supplemental reports required under its status as a “primary registrant,” and the firm’s owner, Scott Wheeler, himself appears to have never registered as an individual agent despite having disclosed his role in the veterans lobbying scheme in his firm’s filing.

Recruiting Materials Lacked Required Disclosures

FARA requires that written materials used to advance the agenda of a foreign government include a conspicuous disclosure that the material is being distributed for that government.

Not only was the disclosure lacking on some materials—it appears to have been removed from a flyer used to persuade veterans that JASTA posed a risk to service members.

Qorvis filed the flyer with the Justice Department on October 26, 2016. Titled “The Real Impact of JASTA,” it included the required disclosure.

A nearly-identical version was later used to recruit veterans to the cause—on social media, as a printed handout and as a PDF attached to emails.

The only difference: The FARA-required disclosure had gone missing.

Upon their arrival in Washington, veterans who lobbied in the Jason Johns operation received a detailed, six-page set of instructions and guidance modeled after a military operations order. It disclosed that Qorvis and Advocacy Group, Inc were supporting the undertaking, but did not disclose that the two organizations and Jason Johns were working for Saudi Arabia.

Some Saudi agents, such as former Maryland GOP communications director Chevy Weiss, used Facebook as a recruiting tool, but failed to disclose their Saudi sponsorship on their posts or their profiles—another FARA violation.

A federal investigation may uncover still more. For example, were the veterans listed on three group letters to Congress (pages 6, 12 and 19 here) urging that JASTA be amended told that their names were being solicited on behalf of Saudi Arabia?

Some Qorvis Victims Likely Remain in the Dark

Importantly, an investigation would also be a means of enlightening participating veterans who still haven’t found out the real reason they were flown to Washington to oppose JASTA.

When Capitol Media Group filed its months-late registration, it declared that it had brought scores of veterans to Washington to lobby and offered to provide “individual names if requested.”

28Pages.org made repeated requests to the Justice Department’s FARA section requesting it to direct Capitol Media Group to produce the names via a supplementary disclosure filing. Though an aide to Senate majority whip and judiciary committee member John Cornyn also followed up on the request, no names have been disclosed by Capitol Media Group or Qorvis.

FBI Tells Retired Agent Not to Aid 9/11 Case: Saudi Relations Come First

Inattention to the Saudi-Qorvis scandal isn’t the only indication that the Justice Department puts the interests of Saudi Arabia above those of American citizens.

As 28Pages.org was first to report in August, retired FBI counterintelligence agent Kenneth Williams said the FBI’s Office of the General Counsel told him not to cooperate with 9/11 victims’ attorneys pursuing the civil suit against Saudi Arabia enabled by JASTA.

According to Williams, an FBI attorney “said they didn’t want me to cooperate with the plaintiffs’ attorneys because it could impact other pending litigation involving the United States government…and because…the Trump administration was trying to develop good relations with the Saudi government.”

It’s not clear what “other pending litigation” the FBI attorney was referring to; Williams considers the possibility it may have been a bluff. If not, it seems a likely reference to Freedom of Information Act suits filed by investigative news outlet Florida Bulldog, seeking documents relating to FBI investigations of Saudi links to the 9/11 attacks.

After several guilt-ridden months of complying with the FBI’s directive, Williams decided to follow his conscience and began communicating with the attorneys. Former Senate intelligence committee chair Bob Graham called the FBI’s attempted intervention “a fundamental assault on the principle of democracy.”

Enabling Bad Saudi Behavior

Reflecting on the Justice Department’s action with Ken Williams and inaction regarding Qorvis, the Foreign Influence Transparency Initiative’s Freeman says, “It’s part of this larger pattern of enabling Saudi bad behavior, whether it’s from the government of Saudi Arabia or its lobbyists here. They continue to do things that are harmful to Americans and not get punished for it and, ultimately, we see a Saudi Arabia that feels emboldened enough to kill a Washington Post journalist on foreign soil.”

For Saudi-victimized veteran and attorney Barlett, the Justice Department’s conduct is cause for alarm among all Americans: “If you don’t enforce the law, you destroy the rule of law writ large. The DOJ is supposed to be the top federal agency for law enforcement, supporting the rule of law and the Constitution. When a body like that is corrupted, the fish rots from the head down, and therefore it’s going to impact the entire legal system.”

Reprinted from 28pages.org.

What I Don’t Like About Life in Post-9/11 America

What I Don’t Like About Life in Post-9/11 America

“A patriot must always be ready to defend his country against his government.”―Edward Abbey, American author

Life in a post-9/11 America increasingly feels like an endless free fall down a rabbit hole into a terrifying, dystopian alternative reality in which the citizenry has no rights, the government is no friend to freedom, and everything we ever knew and loved about the values and principles that once made this country great has been turned on its head.

We’ve walked a strange and harrowing road since September 11, 2001, littered with the debris of our once-vaunted liberties.

We have gone from a nation that took great pride in being a model of a representative democracy to being a model of how to persuade the citizenry to march in lockstep with a police state.

Osama Bin Laden right warned that “freedom and human rights in America are doomed. The U.S. government will lead the American people in — and the West in general — into an unbearable hell and a choking life.”

These past 17 years have proven Bin Laden right in his prediction.

What began with the passage of the USA Patriot Act in October 2001 has snowballed into the eradication of every vital safeguard against government overreach, corruption and abuse.

The citizenry’s unquestioning acquiescence to anything the government wants to do in exchange for the phantom promise of safety and security has resulted in a society where the nation is being locked down into a militarized, mechanized, hypersensitive, legalistic, self-righteous, goose-stepping antithesis of every principle upon which this nation was founded.

Read the rest at fff.org.

Senate, House Measures Urge Release of 9/11 Documents

Senate, House Measures Urge Release of 9/11 Documents

As the world marks the seventeenth anniversary of 9/11, legislators have introduced resolutions in both the House and Senate urging the broad declassification of U.S. government documents relating to the attacks that killed nearly 3,000 people.

As with the successful drive to declassify 28 pages on Saudi government links to the 9/11 attacks, this latest effort has support on both sides of the aisle.

At a press conference announcing the Senate effort, Senator Richard Blumenthal, flanked by 9/11 families, said, “This is a nonpartisan issue. Forget about if you’re a Republican, if you’re a Democrat, if you’re independent—this is a humanity issue. These are human beings that got savagely murdered on September 11 and there should be no partisan politics involved in this at all.”

Among others joining the Connecticut Democrat on the Senate resolution are two senior Republicans: majority whip John Cornyn of Texas and Chuck Grassley of Iowa.

Secrecy is an Impediment to Justice

The continued classification 9/11 documents is a headwind for a civil suit by victims of the attacks seeking to prove that Saudi government officials provided financial and other assistance to hijackers and others closely associated with them.

Brett Eagleson, whose father was killed at the World Trade Center, has been actively involved in building congressional support for additional declassification. “It seems to us that the rights of enemies and terrorists are coming before the rights of U.S. citizens,” he said at the Blumenthal press conference. “There are literally thousands and thousands of documents that are still redacted for no reason whatsoever.”

Read the rest at 28pages.org.

Exclusive: FBI Told Former Agent Not to Help 9/11 Victims Build Case Against Saudi Arabia

Exclusive: FBI Told Former Agent Not to Help 9/11 Victims Build Case Against Saudi Arabia

A retired FBI counterterrorism agent with a notable role in the story of 9/11 says the FBI’s Office of the General Counsel told him not to cooperate with attorneys representing 9/11 victims in their suit against the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, because it could harm U.S.-Saudi relations.

In an exclusive interview with 28Pages.org, Kenneth Williams, author of an ignored July 2001 memo warning that Osama bin Laden may be training pilots in the United States, explains why he has now decided to ignore the FBI’s instructions, and illustrates how the failure to share critical information continued into the 9/11 investigation—possibly to the benefit of the kingdom.

FBI Priority: Protecting U.S.-Saudi Relationship

The 9/11 plaintiffs—family members, survivors and insurers—allege that officials of the Saudi government provided financial, logistical and other support to the perpetrators of the attacks.

After being contacted by their attorneys in October of last year, Williams notified the FBI legal counsel in Phoenix, where he spent his career. Days later, he received a call from an attorney at the Office of the General Counsel whose name he does not recall.

Read the rest at 28pages.org.

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