By Doug Porter
Facing an increasingly skeptical press after being called out for using selectively edited interview transcripts to make his case against the IRS, Congressman Darrell Issa has decided to double down.
Issa, the chair of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee now says releasing the full transcripts would be “reckless” and “irresponsible.”
Two weekends ago the North County Congressman provided CNN with excerpts of interviews with IRS agents, assuring reporter Candy Crowley that “the whole transcript will be put out.” Issa’s excerpts supposedly had an IRS official conceding that “directions” for to treat Tea Party groups “emanated from Washington.”
He also used his appearance on CNN to label White House Press Secretary Jay Carney a “paid liar”, claiming the spokesperson is “making up things about what happens in calling this local rogue.” Several Republicans, including Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham, subsequently chided Issa for that comment.
Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), the ranking Democratic member of the committee, went on CNN last weekend and cited evidence that the supposedly scandalous delays in certification of Tea Party type groups’ applications for 501(c)4 status were instigated by an IRS manager who described himself as a conservative Republican.
The Maryland Representative insists that the full interviews will demonstrate that “the White House was not involved in this”. “I want those transcripts to be released,” Cummings said. “I’m willing to come on your show next week with the Chairman with the transcripts if he agrees to do that. If he doesn’t, I’ll release them by the end of the week.”
Issa released a letter yesterday arguing against releasing the transcripts, saying that such a move would “needlessly jeopardize the integrity of the investigation and hamper the Committee’s ability to get to the truth.” Experts, he said, are useful and “serve to provide important updates to the public” and “empower other witnesses to become whistleblowers.”
Cummings responded later in the day with statement, saying, in part, “Chairman Issa changes his mind so fast that even when I agree him, we’re not on the same page,” he said. “I fully support responsible oversight, but cherry picking transcript excerpts to fuel partisan and unsubstantiated claims is not a credible or effective way to investigate.”
More Privatization Blues at North County Transit
For several months KPBS/inewsource has stayed on the case of allegations about poor management, security and safety issues with the North Country Transit District, despite strenuous objections and pushback from that agency.
A February report revealed that the private contractor supplying NCTD with armed guards wasn’t training the employees– and hadn’t been for years. Security guards employed by Universal Protection Service appeared on KPBS television to talk about their concerns.
In March, the NCTD’s light rail Sprinter service was suspended following disclosure of concerns about the safety of its braking system. Executive Director Matthew Tucker blamed companies under contract for failing to report the issue of the non-compliant brake rotors. Maintenance and operations of Sprinter trains was contracted out to Veolia Transportation, which in turn contracts out to Bombardier Transportation.
Now KPBS is out with a report about an audit that found serious problems with NCTD management of more than 150 contracts to private companies, including everything from construction to legal counsel to bus operations. The nine month old audit was not presented to the transit authority’s directors until May of this year. An inewsource request for the Management Action Plan — the formal course of correction required by the audit – led to a NCTD response that “No responsive records” exist.
Although no bid ‘sole source’ contracts were specifically identified as an issue, NTCD has awarded at least 10 more sole-source procurements to vendors for at least $2.5 million since September.
The NCTD relies almost entirely on private contractors to keep its trains and buses safe and on budget for the millions of passengers riding the system each year. And, based on the KPBS report, it would appear as though supervision of those contractors is minimal to non-existent.
Disclosure Sought in Wrongful Border Death Case, Trolls Patrol
The American Civil Liberties Union and half dozen media companies are asking a federal judge to reject a prosecutorial request to seal documents in a wrongful-death suit that alleges an unauthorized immigrant died after being beaten and shot with a Taser by Border Patrol agents.
From the UT-San Diego (they are among the petitioners) account:
The government and attorneys for the agents asked the judge last month to seal future filings in the case to protect agents and customs officers who were involved in the death of Anastasio Hernandez Rojas, 42. The government also said it was trying to avoid revealing any policies and procedures of Customs and Border Protection.
The ACLU said it is protesting the sealing of the court records as a way to help “protect the public’s interest in open and transparent proceedings in cases involving serious questions of official misconduct.” It is representing the Southern Border Communities Coalition, a network of dozens of human-rights groups along the southwest border.
“The defendants’ extraordinary request to allow this case to proceed under full seal due to unspecified and unproven ‘security concerns’ violates both the First Amendment and the common law right of access to judicial records,” said David Loy, legal director of the ACLU of San Diego & Imperial Counties. “Openness in judicial proceedings is essential to creating public trust in the legitimacy of the proceedings. In this case, defendants have not met the strict standard for cutting public access to the court record.”
Unfortunately, any story in UT-San Diego mentioning the border unleashes the hordes of racist trolls who follow such things, as this comment (which was apparently okay to publish) indicates:
Robert Herr · Top Commenter · University Of Maryland
Every one thinks these illegals are just such wonderful people. I have a freind that is a BP agent and he tells me when they pick them up they spit on them from the back seat. They all know how to play the system and libeals give them 3 hots and a cot and send them back for their next trip. This guy was a tweaker and a scumbag. I am sure he fought the BP agents and got what he deserved. Now the family is just looking to cash in. Your right John if we the borders were secure this would not happen. Unfortunately the liberals will never let that happen. Get ready for Amnesty.
USA Spook-a-thon Round-up (Spy Stories)
The ACLU is suing. From the New York Times:
The American Civil Liberties Union on Tuesday filed a lawsuit against the Obama administration over its “dragnet” collection of logs of domestic phone calls, contending that the once-secret program — whose existence was exposed by a former National Security Agency contractor last week — is illegal and asking a judge to both stop it and order the records purged.
The lawsuit, filed in New York, could set up an eventual Supreme Court test. It could also focus attention on this disclosure amid the larger heap of top secret surveillance matters that were disclosed by Edward J. Snowden, a former N.S.A. contractor who came forward on Sunday to say he was the source of a series of disclosures by The Guardian and The Washington Post.
A report in The Nation talks about how private ‘national security’ contractors have already tried to abuse the Big Data we’re not supposed to be worried about.
Two years ago, a batch of stolen e-mails revealed a plot by a set of three defense contractors (Palantir Technologies, Berico Technologies, and HBGary Federal) to target activists, reporters, labor unions, and political organizations. The plans — one concocted in concert with lawyers for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to sabotage left-leaning critics, like the Center for American Progress and the SEIU, and a separate proposal to “combat” WikiLeaks and its supporters, including Glenn Greenwald, on behalf of Bank ofAmerica — fell apart after reports of their existence were published online. But the episode serves as a reminder that the expanding spy industry could use its government-backed cyber tools to harm ordinary Americans and political dissident groups.
The episode also shows that Greenwald, who helped Snowden expose massive spying efforts in the U.S., had been targetted by spy agency contractors in the past for supporting whistleblowers and WikiLeaks.
Even more troubling, however, were plans by the three contractors to use malware and other forms of malicious software to hack into computers owned by the Chamber’s opponents and their families. Boasting that they could develop a “fusion cell” of the kind “developed and utilized by Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC),” the contractors discussed how they could use “custom malware development” and “zero day” exploits to gain control of a target’s computer network. These types of hacks can allow an attacker not only to snoop but to delete files, monitor keystrokes and manipulate websites, e-mail archives and any database connected to the target computer
Oh, and one of the people the plotters reached out for advice was Booz Allen Hamilton senior vice president Bill Wansley. Booz Allen was NSA leaker Edward J Snowden’s employer. Just sayin’…
On This Day: 1950- I was born in Ankara, Turkey. 1963 – Civil rights leader Medgar Evers was fatally shot in front of his home in Jackson, MS. 1965 – The Rolling Stones’ “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction” was released. 1982 – 75,000 people rallied against nuclear weapons in New York City’s Central Park. Jackson Browne, James Taylor, Bruce Springsteen, and Linda Ronstadt were in attendance.
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