Constitutional Scholar Tramples Press Freedom

Glenn Greenwald reports: “Each year, Reporters Without Borders issues a worldwide ranking of nations based on the extent to which they protect or abridge press freedom. The group’s 2015 ranking was released this morning, and the United States is ranked 49th. That is the lowest ranking ever during the Obama presidency, and the second-lowest ranking for the U.S. since the rankings began in 2002 (in 2006, under Bush, the U.S. was ranked 53rd). The countries immediately ahead of the U.S. are Malta, Niger, Burkino Faso, El Salvador, Tonga, Chile and Botswana.”

Greenwald quotes former Washington Post executive editor Leonard Downie, Jr.

“The administration’s war on leaks and other efforts to control information are the most aggressive I’ve seen since the Nixon administration, when I was one of the editors involved in The Washington Post’s investigation of Watergate. The 30 experienced Washington journalists at a variety of news organizations whom I interviewed for this report could not remember any precedent.”

Read More: U.S. Drops to 49th in World Press Freedom Rankings, Worst Since Obama Became President – The Intercept.

How We Almost Went To War In Syria

In a report that has been largely ignored or repressed by our corporate media, Pulitzer Prize winner Sy Hersch unravels the truth of those sarin gas attacks against innocent children that almost took us into war in Syria.

A series of chemical weapon attacks in March and April 2013 was investigated over the next few months by a special UN mission to Syria. A person with close knowledge of the UN’s activity in Syria told me that there was evidence linking the Syrian opposition to the first gas attack, on 19 March in Khan Al-Assal, a village near Aleppo. In its final report in December, the mission said that at least 19 civilians and one Syrian soldier were among the fatalities, along with scores of injured. It had no mandate to assign responsibility for the attack, but the person with knowledge of the UN’s activities said: ‘Investigators interviewed the people who were there, including the doctors who treated the victims. It was clear that the rebels used the gas. It did not come out in public because no one wanted to know.’

Read the full article at London Review of BooksSeymour M. Hersh · The Red Line and the Rat Line · LRB 6 April 2014.

Are Russian Troops Really Massing on the Border With Ukraine?

President Obama today cited a huge massing of Russian troops near the border with Ukraine, implying that they may be preparing to invade. Was he telling the truth?

I’d like to see our Western journalists do a little more digging on statements like this. I do not know whether or not the President was lying, but I don’t believe that our press should simply parrot back what government officials say.

Here’s what RT News is reporting.

Russia’s Foreign Ministry issued a statement, in which it recalled four probes in March by foreign missions in Russia of regions bordering Ukraine. The ministry said that “even Ukrainian inspectors” agreed that “there were no major military activities being carried out.”

The four international missions included representatives of Latvia, Germany, Switzerland, Finland, Estonia, Belgium, France and Ukraine. None of the missions “found ‘aggressive preparations’ and have not recorded any military activities, aside from the previously declared,” the statement said.

Again, I’m not claiming that the Russian news organizations are any more faithful to the truth, or any less subservient to their government, but they’re citing some information that could easily be verified or debunked. Should we not expect our “free press” to do so?

Read More: West ignores results of int’l missions that found no troop build-up near Ukraine borders – Moscow — RT News.

Sy Hersh’s Primal Scream

“It used to be when you were in a situation when something very dramatic happened, the president and the minions around the president had control of the narrative, you would pretty much know they would do the best they could to tell the story straight. Now that doesn’t happen any more. Now they take advantage of something like that and they work out how to re-elect the president.”

Seymour Hersh talks about Obama, the NSA and the sorry state of the media. Read more.

The Obama Administration is Afraid of You

Snowden: “In the end the Obama administration is not afraid of whistleblowers like me, Bradley Manning or Thomas Drake. We are stateless, imprisoned, or powerless. No, the Obama administration is afraid of you. It is afraid of an informed, angry public demanding the constitutional government it was promised — and it should be.”

Read the Full Statement at Wikileaks: Statement from Edward Snowden in Moscow.

Benghazi: The Real Scandal

Last week, I posted an update on Facebook noting that Congressional critics and the news media are fundamentally asking the wrong questions about Benghazi. Though it is obvious that the GOP’s focus on the “scandal” represents the worst sort of partisan opportunism – there is, I believe, another story here. It’s not a story about security at the compound, or the military response to the attacks, or what may have been said on television afterward. It’s a story about our government’s complicity to (and culpability for) the attacks themselves.

There is an excellent essay out today from Bill Van Auken that unpacks the situation in great detail.

In its intervention in Libya, Washington utilized Al Qaeda-linked fighters as a proxy ground force in the war to topple the secular regime of Colonel Muammar Gaddafi, arming and advising them and using them to follow up the massive US-NATO bombing campaign. Christopher Stevens was very much the point man in this relationship, having carefully studied the Islamist opponents of Gaddafi before the launching of the war for regime-change. He was deployed in April 2011 to Benghazi, where he coordinated the arming, funding and training of the so-called rebels, elements previously denounced by the US as terrorists and, in some cases, abducted, imprisoned and tortured by the CIA.

So all of the reported “confusion” within the State Department and the Intelligence Community in the wake of the attacks is complete and utter nonsense, as is the portrayal of their interactions as simple bureaucratic interagency bickering. They knew from the very beginning what had happened – that their own assets were involved. The purpose of all the frantic scrambling and deception after the fact was to conceal our government’s relationships with their supposed Al-Qaeda terrorist enemies. There is simply no other way it all makes sense.

The circus sideshow being orchestrated by the GOP is not merely cynical political maneuvering. It misses the point. It helps to conceal from public view the true nature of the events at Benghazi, and ensures that there will be no discussion of the more serious and important issues involved.

READ MORE: Benghazi and the deepening crisis of the Obama administration – WSWS.

Dueling Headlines

First, from yesterday’s New York Times:

Next, from today’s Wall Street Journal:

When you dig into the details, both reports seem “factual.” The question is whether or not these stories represent competing points of view, or competing agendas.

Click on the images to read the full articles.