1) Michael Hastings is a rare journalist today. As Glenn Greenwald writes, “his goal in life isn’t to please government officials; he understands what ‘adversarial journalism’ is; and he cares more about exposing important stories than currying favor with the mavens of official Washington.” Hastings has the scoop on CNN’s discovery of Ambassador Christopher Steven’s diary in Benghazi in “Libya Threatens Clinton’s Legacy–And State Does Damage Control: After a catastrophic security failure in Benghazi, Hillary Clinton’s team tries to scapegoat CNN – for finding a diary the State Department now admits it didn’t even know existed. Why Foggy Bottom Deserves the Blame”. Phew, that was a long one. Here’s Hastings e-mail exchange in which State Department spokesman Philippe Reines tells him to “Fuck Off.” Lol, especially the barbs at the end. The administration has been caught making a number of misleading statements in regards to the Benghazi attack. Outsider journalist IF Stone once said “All governments lie, but disaster lies in wait for countries whose officials smoke the same hashish they give out.” Glenn Greenwald, who points his readers to the previous quote, comments on the administration’s “Benghazi spin”.
2) Julian Sanchez has had an incredibly good string of posts on the FISA Amendments Act, the political philosophy that preceded the Fourth Amendment, and other related aspects of our vast domestic spying network. Read them all (most recent first) here, here, here, here, here, here, and here.
3) After being listed as a foreign terrorist organization (FTO) for the past 15 years, the Mujahedin-e Khalq (MEK), or the People’s Mujahedin of Iran was removed from the list by the State Department last week. Without discussing the wisdom of maintaining the FTO list (it’s not smart and inherently politicized), I’ve got a few links discussing the wisdom of de-listing the MEK and the massive lobbying campaign that made it happen. Greenwald on “Five lessons from the de-listing of MEK as a terrorist group”. Daniel Larison on “The Mistaken Decision to De-List the MEK”. Paul Pillar on “More Posturing on Iran” (this includes discussion of the Senate’s 90-1 vote to reaffirm “that the United States and other countries have a ‘vital interest’ in working ‘to prevent the Government of Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapons capability.'” This is also bad news. For those keeping track, Sen. Rand Paul cast the lone vote against the resolution.). Chirs McGreal with “MEK decision: multimillion-dollar campaign led to removal from terror list”. Iranian-American activist for democracy in Iran, writing under the pseudonym Leila Kashefi, with “MEK Delisting Slap In The Face For Average Iranians”. MEK is alleged to be a Marxist cult, is alleged to have killed six Americans in the 1970’s, is known to have fought with Saddam Hussein in the Iran-Iraq war and claims to have inflicted 40,000 Iranian casualties, is alleged to have participated in the recent assassinations of several Iranian nuclear scientists, is alleged to have been trained by the U.S. Joint Special Operations Command in Nevada in 2005, has virtually no political support within Iran, but favors the overthrow of the current Iranian regime. Winning hearts and minds, as they say. Here’s a longer profile of the MEK and its lobbying campaign from last year (I haven’t read this since it came out, but it was worthwhile from what I remember). Ask any of the paid shills who spoke and lobbied on behalf of the group for a counterargument to the ones I offered if this isn’t enough.
4) Wells Tower’s 2009 book Everything Ravaged, Everything Burned: Stories was incredible, and rightly described as taking “readers from gut-clutching hilarity to gloomy introspection and back again in compact, descriptive language” (thanks for the tip Amazon). His profile of Mitt Romney, “Desperately Seeking Mitt”, in the August issue of GQ follows the same vein. Sample:
In other words, Newt is an ideal candidate because when an infant pestered him, he hacked it, took it like a man, a pro. If it were Romney? And an infant started fucking with him? You know it would be bad, some pediatric version of the time he sang “Who Let the Dogs Out” to black teens in Florida. “Hello, little organism different from myself. I will now make noises that I believe are comprehensible to your kind.”
Here is Tower’s profile of male porn star James Deen from the July issue of GQ. Here is Tower’s depiction of his time working in an Amsterdam marijuana coffee shop from the August 2010 issue of GQ. I laughed audibly while reading all three, but the latter two may be slightly NSFW.
5) Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi is interviewed in the New York Times. Interesting throughout, and his diagnosis of the hurdles faced by the United States in the Arab world shouldn’t come as a shock.