A drone attack against an Iraqi military air base was foiled early Saturday, according to Iraq's Security Media Cell.
"In early Saturday, three drones approached the southern perimeter of
Balad Air Base in Salahadin province," read a statement from the Cell, reported
state media. “The drones were seen with the naked eye by the force
charged with protecting the outer towers, making sure that they were
The Cell added that the three drones flew away after being fired at by the Iraqi forces.
President of the State of Law Coalition:What happened yesterday in attacks by criminal parties who targeted headquarters of political parties & diplomatic missions are attacks of those do not want stability in Iraq. 1
Muqtada al-Sadr and Hadi al-Ameri are in a meeting now.
If they reach an agreement on the formation of the new government, that would be a huge blow to Nouri al-Maliki and could shake the political process in Iraq.
Handout/ Sadr's Press Office. #Iraq#Iran#US
Katie Halper weighs on President Biden's voting rights speech in Atlanta, Georgia.
President Joe Biden image courtesy of AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana.
Rising is a weekday morning show with bipartisan hosts that breaks the mold of morning TV by taking viewers inside the halls of Washington power like never before. The show leans into the day's political cycle with cutting edge analysis from DC insiders who can predict what is going to happen. It also sets the day's political agenda by breaking exclusive news with a team of scoop-driven reporters and demanding answers during interviews with the country's most important political newsmakers.
Follow Rising on social media:
The Original Biggie Smalls and Silky Slim. The celebrated stage and film star. Calvin Lockhart was born in the Bahamas. He appeared in many Blaxploitation films. Starring roles in cult classic films like "Uptown Saturday Night". And the fan favorite, "Let's Do It Again". Mr. Lockhart appeared in many classic television shows as well: "Good Times" as Cousin Raymond Brown, and on "Starsky and Hutch" as Angel.
Contact info: email@example.com
Music provide by Michael Roney
Additional, I would like to give credit and acknowledgement to all those artists whose material and work have "contributed" to this project. Not to mislead anyone, I do not own the copyrights to any of the images, stills or footage viewed or heard in this documentary--only the script or narration is mine. The brilliant artistry of others allowed for this project's presentation and completion. Under the Fair Use Doctrine, originally a common law doctrine that was enshrined in statutory law when the U.S. Congress passed the Copyright Act of 1976, users of the doctrine are permitted limited use of copyrighted material without having to first acquire permission from the copyright holder.
As a courtesy to the copyright holders whose work is presented in this project or documentary, my use is very limited and brief. And my usage does not undermine the profitability of the original work but in fact adds to new interests.
"Good Times" season 6 episode 24 air date 1979 "Cousin Raymond"
Sony Pictures and Tandem Productions. Footage of Lockhart courtesy of Popperfoto, Archive Photos, Caribbean National Weekly, Getty Images Editorial use
"Cotton Comes To Harlem", Samuel Goldwyn, Jr. and Miramax Film, distributed by United Artists. Mgm.com
"Uptown Saturday Night", and "Let's Do It Again", Production company First Artists and distributed by Warner Bros.
"Coming To America" and "Coming 2 America", Eddie Murphy Productions, distributed by Paramount Pictures.
"Joanna" and *"Myra Breckenridge" 20th Century Fox *by Gore Vidal.
Jet magazine photo courtesy of Christina Gordon
"Halls of Anger" The Mirisch Corporation, distributed by United Artists.
"Starsky & Hutch" season 4, episode 11. Sony Pictures Television
"Geto Boys", courtesy of The Houstonia.
Stock footage material from Videvo http://www.videvo.net
Toloncho (stock footage)
"Car Wash", Universal Pictures
"Dynasty" Aaron Spelling Productions 20th Century Fox TV., distributed by CBS Television. "Predator II" Silver Pictures, 20th Century Fox, "Twin Peaks" CBS Distribution TV. "Rain" distributed by Image Entertainment.
Ernie Barnes ernie.barnes.com
The audio of Mr. Lockhart courtesy of American Archive of Public Broadcasting / University of Texas at Austin. "In Black America", interview by Mr. John L. Hanson.
Friday, January 14, 2022. Bombings in Iraq. Julian Assange remains persecuted, Frances Moore Lappe repudiates her own lfie's work and a Hillary run has the press excited -- because they could rip her apart.
The first year of the Biden administration’s relationship with the
U.S. press has been an almost complete reversal of the Trump
administration’s unprecedentedly pervasive and damaging hostility, which
seriously damaged the news media’s credibility and often spread misinformation around the world.
In marked contrast, President Joe Biden, White House press secretary
Jen Psaki, and administration officials have repeatedly stressed the
importance of working with the news media to keep Americans informed.
Reporters still have had issues with access to the president and some
administration officials and information. But there have not been any vicious attacks on journalists as enemies of the people or accusations of “fake news.”
“The most obvious change is the change in rhetoric,” University of
Georgia media and law professor Jonathan Peters told me. “What’s gone is
rhetoric from the president or administration officials designed to
delegitimize the news media.”
Overall, reporters told me, there have been significant improvements
in the day-to-day informational relationships with the news media.
Regular briefings for the press have been restored at the White House
and the State and Defense Departments – essential elements for repairing
the damage to press freedom in the U.S. and bolstering credibility when
administration officials push for press freedom overseas.
At the Department of Justice, Attorney General Merrick Garland – at Biden’s direction – has stopped federal subpoenas
of reporters’ telephone and email records to find government sources of
classified government information, an unprecedented number of whom were
prosecuted and imprisoned during the Trump and Obama administrations.
There have been no new federal prosecutions of such sources to date
under Biden. Instead, the Justice Department is investigating and
prosecuting people who physically attacked journalists during the
violent, Trump-inspired invasion of the U.S. Capitol in Washington on January 6, 2021. And it is investigating abusive treatment of reporters by police in Minneapolis, Louisville, and Phoenix.
Not that everything has been to the news media’s liking or to the public’s benefit.
Although Biden and administration officials have mostly appeared to
avoid the willful misinformation that characterized the Trump White
House, news media fact-checkers have identified numerous misleading and false claims
in both Biden’s prepared and extemporaneous remarks. They were
especially frequent in his explanations for and defenses of the chaotic
U.S. troop withdrawal in Afghanistan.
Some other issues were raised during my interviews with more than 30
journalists, academic news media observers, press freedom advocates, and
Biden administration officials.
Freedom of Information Act experts have seen little improvement
in the response of government agencies to journalists’ FOIA requests for
information, and the administration has not announced any FOIA response
Press freedom advocates are disappointed by the
administration’s reaction to requests to help Afghan journalists whose
lives and work have been endangered by the Taliban’s takeover of the
country in mid-August.
The Biden administration’s efforts to
extradite WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange from the U.K. have raised
fears that the language of the espionage indictment against him could
set a dangerous precedent for use against journalists trying to do their
While political correspondents welcome the
administration’s return to daily press briefings, many are concerned
about control by the White House and cabinet department press offices
over access to administration officials – and restrictions on naming and
quoting them in stories.
The Biden White House and the press
One key concern among White House reporters is their limited access
to Biden. He has given far fewer press conferences and media interviews
than either Barack Obama or Donald Trump in their first years in office,
and he has responded to fewer impromptu questions from reporters at
White House or public events.
Instead, Press Secretary Jen Psaki, or one of her deputies, have held daily televised press briefings for White House reporters after they had not occurred for months at a time in the Trump White House.
Psaki, a veteran spokesperson for Democratic presidential campaigns,
the Obama White House, and the State Department, was well-prepared for
her role, a striking contrast to Trump’s four less-experienced, notably combative,
press secretaries. In some ways, Psaki has become second only to Biden
as a public face of his administration, even receiving attention like a favorable profile in Vogue magazine, in addition to her frequent interviews on television and radio.
Biden held just one full-scale solo press conference at the White
House and four on foreign trips during his first year in office,
according to authoritative records kept by political scientist Martha
Kumar, director of the White House Transition Project
during several administrations. By Kumar’s count, Biden had given just
22 interviews as president to members of the news media by the end of
2021, a fraction of the 92 Trump had done, or the 150 that Obama had
done during the same period in their presidencies.
Biden relies more on prepared remarks that he has read on television
from a teleprompter, taking few or no questions from reporters kept some
distance away, behind the teleprompter and the cameras. “If he doesn’t
want to take more or any questions,” Associated Press White House
correspondent Zeke Miller told me, “he’ll turn around and walk away.”
“While President Biden has taken questions more often at his events
than his predecessors, he spends less time doing so,” Kumar said. “He
provides short answers with few follow-ups when he takes questions at
the end of a previously scheduled speech. He often takes one or two
questions while his predecessors took more queries at fewer events.”
Kumar believes that the White House staff works to minimize Biden’s
extemporaneous remarks because of his tendency to make mistakes, which
he has had to correct later. “They’ve been trying to button him up,”
said Kumar, who works out of a White House basement office. “The
president is more likely to make a mistake toward the end of a press
When he cut off reporters’ questions after a televised speech at the
White House about the nation’s Covid surge on December 21, Biden told them, “I’m not supposed to be having this press conference right now.”
“Tactics differ from administration to administration,” Psaki told
me. “The president probably takes more questions overall. He does short
question and answer sessions a couple times a week. He takes two to 10
questions each time.” White House reporters might disagree with the
larger number. “We have an open conversation about that,” Psaki added.
“We need more access to Biden himself,” said Jonathan Karl, ABC News
White House correspondent and a past president of the White House
Correspondents’ Association. “Press access to him is so far very
limited. Press conferences are few and far between. His people seem to
wall him off from the press.”
The White House press office also closely controls reporters’ access
to administration officials. Too many briefings and conversations with
“senior administration officials,” arranged by the White House and
cabinet department press offices, are conducted only “on deep
background,” meaning that the officials cannot be identified or quoted,
except for any quotes that are approved by the press office before
publication. “They have been very tight for the most part,” said Dan
Balz, veteran chief political correspondent for The Washington Post. “The early days of the administration have been very choreographed – mostly scripted events.”
That careful scripting extends to Biden’s social media posts, a stark
contrast to Trump’s plethora of stream-of-conscious tweets. There is
also far less leaking to the media of insider deliberations or
disagreements than there was in the rivalrous Trump White House.
Biden aides “are not at war with each other,” Washington Post
White House correspondent Ashley Parker told me. “Very few go rogue.
It’s very much like the Obama administration’s discipline,” she added.
“They give you sanctioned White House details. They don’t want to talk
to you about disagreements.”
“It’s night and day,” ABC’s Karl told me. “We’ve reverted to close to
normal. In the late Trump days, you couldn’t talk to any officials on
Steve Coll, dean of the Columbia University Journalism School, says
that Biden has moved to restore norms destroyed by the Trump
administration. “On matters dealing with traditional relationships
between the White House and the press, this is a president who is old
school,” Coll told me.
“The White House press office is a much more robust operation,” said
Miller, the AP’s veteran White House Correspondent. “Many more people.
More information on paper. More prepared.”
When Biden selected her to be his press secretary, Psaki told me in
an interview for this report, “I had conversations with the president
during the transition and discussed his understanding of the role of the
press corps and the role of the White House briefing. What was most
important to him was the right tone and providing as much information as
Psaki offers authoritative, if carefully circumscribed, information
in her briefings. She spars firmly but good-naturedly with reporters,
sometimes challenging the underlying assumptions of their questions with
a quick wit known on social media as #PsakiBomb.
She has made a point of also calling on reporters from Fox News and
other right-wing media critical of Biden. Recalling her discussions with
Biden about the briefings, she told me, “It was important to take
questions from everyone.”
Psaki “deserves credit for holding daily briefings again and reducing
sniping from the podium,” Frank Sesno, former director of the George
Washington University School of Media and Public Affairs, told me. “It’s
a respectful even though adversarial relationship.”
“There is still a very healthy distance,” Miller said. “Just because
the temperature has cooled, there is still an underlying contentious
“We have returned to some baseline of cooperation,” even though
“members of the press are not always satisfied,” Psaki said. “That back
and forth is healthy. I hope we have an open line of communication.”
Miller added that “Psaki is bringing into the briefing room cabinet
secretaries and other officials on a regular basis” for on-the-record
briefings on administration actions and policies. Psaki told me, “I am
proud of bringing in administration experts and cabinet members on a
Other briefings and interviews with “senior administration officials”
are offered on “deep background,” which means that reporters cannot
identify or quote them.
“Everything has to be on background,” said Anita Kumar (no relation
to Martha Kumar), a senior Politico editor who covered the White House
for nine years. “Constant background briefings with White House or
Psaki says that decisions on background briefings depend on the
comfort level of the person speaking to the reporter. “Many of them are
comfortable only speaking on background,” she told me.
However, Politico’s Kumar noted that reporters must ask the White
House press office for “quote approval” for anything said in a
background briefing or interview that they want to put on the record in
their stories. “They’re approving content again for a second time,” she
Parker told me that The Washington Post’s team of White
House reporters decided on their own “to not allow White House officials
to speak on background with on-the record quote approval. We still
speak to sources on background when it makes sense. What we do not do,
is speak to sources on background and then go after them and ask them to
approve their quotes for on the record.
“The press office controls access to senior officials,” Parker said.
“You have to go through the press office. They ask questions about what
you want to know in detail – more like Obama. You pre-negotiate with the
press office or the officials’ assistants on time and terms. They’re
often on the phone to control time.”
“If you place a call to someone on Biden’s White House staff, or even
a Biden ally outside the White House,” said Karl of ABC News, “you will
frequently get a call back from the press office asking about what you
want, what story you are pursuing. They usually will eventually get you
in touch with the official – supervised by the press office, somebody
there in the interview.”
“Sometimes, officials want to know what the story is about,” Psaki
responded when I asked about this. “They rely on the press office for
context.” Someone from the press office does often monitor interviews,
she acknowledged, “to better know what the story is about.”
Miller, another past president of the White House Correspondents’
Association, told me that he doesn’t go through the press office all the
time for officials he knows. “There are still some sources who will
speak to you on an unscripted basis,” he said. But they often will not
talk on the record. “The press office is still the gatekeeper for senior
White House staff.”
What would Miller change if he could? “More substantive back and
forth with the president to reveal what is on his mind,” he said. “And
ditch the senior administration official label” by putting more
briefings and interviews on the record with officials’ names.
“Like the Obama administration, the Biden press team wants to control
the story, although it is not as argumentative as the Obama
administration, whose press team was very thin-skinned,” Karl told me.
“They argued vigorously with reporters. They didn’t hesitate to call
editors or executive producers when they didn’t like a story. Not so
much in the Biden administration.”
“When it’s important to them, they can argue,” Politico’s Anita Kumar
said, adding that it’s very rare for the Biden press office not to
respond to her even when they don’t want to comment. “There’s so much
discipline in this White House,” she added. “They have a message they
want to put out each day. They don’t want to deviate from it.”
White House and cabinet officials also promote that message more
directly to voters with interviews with national and local news media
around the country. By mid-summer, according to CNN’s Reliable Sources,
White House and cabinet officials, including Psaki, had done more than
1,000 interviews with local news outlets, mostly local television
stations, from a studio in the Executive Office Building next to the
“There is less access with Biden than with Trump,” The Post’s
Parker told me. “A few shouted questions after his appearances and
speeches, and when he is going to and from Marine One. Only a 12-person
pool [of reporters] for meetings with the cabinet or visiting
dignitaries, and it is escorted out quickly. Trump often let them in,
and he took many questions on the way to Marine One.”
Psaki’s response: “If we were trying to prevent [Biden] from engaging with the press, we are not doing a very good job.”
Beyond the White House
Reporters covering the Biden administration’s cabinet departments and
agencies similarly have found both improvements and limitations in
their access to officials and information.
At the State Department, daily press briefings resumed after a long hiatus during the Trump administration. In contrast to former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s open, often angry hostility to reporters, Antony Blinken, Biden’s secretary of state, declared, on his first day in office, that the news media are a “cornerstone of our democracy” and promised to cooperate with them.
“Senior officials are encouraged to do background calls to explain
issues,” to do television interviews and to appear before reporters in
the briefing room, State Department spokesperson Ned Price told me. “Our
disposition is to say yes whenever possible.”
“It’s been quite an improvement for reporters covering the State
Department,” said Shaun Tandon of Agence France-Presse, president of the
State Department Correspondents’ Association. “We have good access to
Secretary Blinken, who holds regular press briefings, plus informal
access to him when he’s traveling abroad.”
However, reporters still must usually go through State’s press office
to talk to other officials. “The message is very heavily managed,”
Tandon told me, “but the overall tone is positive. It’s handled in a
polite way. They’re not cursing you out.”
Washington Post State Department reporter John Hudson
agreed. “There’s a lot that we’re not being told about, so a lot of
digging is required,” he told me. “They have done a good job of making
officials available for briefings. The press office hasn’t come down on
people like a ton of bricks, although conversations can be tough at
At the Defense Department, after President Trump’s first defense secretary, General James Mattis, was generally uncooperative with
the news media, his successor Mark Esper significantly increased press
access. So, the transition for Pentagon reporters was less noticeable
with Biden’s defense secretary, Lloyd Austin III. However, Missy Ryan, a
Washington Post national security correspondent, said there was “less tension and more access to information” in Austin’s Pentagon.
Pentagon press secretary John Kirby has talked to reporters daily and
“increased availability of officials and reversed restrictions” on
access to information, and “will engage you when you go to them with
stories,” Ryan told me. Austin also has made himself more available to
the press. However, to interview other civilian and military officials,
“they still want you always to go through the press offices, of which
there are many at the Pentagon for the various services.”
No part of the Trump administration was as combative and uncooperative with the press as the Environmental Protection Agency. It repeatedly issued press releases attacking individual reporters and news organizations for critical stories about the agency. EPA’s website under Trump was scrubbed of information and resources about climate change and other environmental issues.
All that information and more is back up on the EPA website under
Biden, and its press office is much more cooperative with reporters.
“I’m cautiously optimistic,” Sadie Babits, president of the Society of
Environmental Reporters, told me. “It’s been pretty responsive, with
most reporters having a more normal experience with the agency.”
“EPA and (Department of) Interior top press people for the most part
have been extremely straightforward,” said Juliet Eilperin, the Washington Post’s
veteran environmental reporter. EPA and Interior officials reached
through the press offices are accessible to make sure stories are
accurate, she added, although “their insistence on anonymity continues
to be a major problem.”
A Society of Environmental Journalists’ internal survey of national
news organizations’ environmental reporters found that “most of them got
what they wanted most of the time” after getting “no or little response
during the Trump administration,” said former SEJ president Tim
Wheeler. Although “the press office still insists on being an
intermediary to get information or an interview,” he added, “it is more
professional in its treatment of reporters and responses to requests for
interviews with political appointees.”
“We really wanted to reset our relationship with the news media,”
Lindsay Hamilton, associate EPA administrator for public affairs, told
me. “We started by doing direct outreach to key reporters who cover us
the most. We told them we wanted to have a positive professional
Hamilton said she conducted media training for the agency’s subject
matter experts, for whom dealing with reporters “can be an uncomfortable
experience at times.” She added that “we still ask that reporters
coordinate with public affairs to speak to them. We determine how to
handle each interview.”
Compared to the Trump administration, reporting on the Department of
Homeland Security and its role in dealing with the record number of
migrants trying to cross the southern U.S. border has ironically been
more difficult, if not as combative, during the first year of the Biden
administration, according to Washington Post reporter Nick
Miroff. “The Trump DHS was less disciplined, so it was easier to develop
sources and gain access to the border,” he told me, “even though they
engaged in misinformation and retaliated for stories they didn’t like.
“It’s been tough” with the Biden administration, said Miroff. “They
have tightened up access to information and engaged in more professional
message control. That leaves reporters at a disadvantage in informing
the public. They are less transparent,” although “it isn’t
“Reporters are frustrated with the lack of access at the border,”
Miroff added. When they were denied access to the huge encampment of Haitian migrants on the Mexico-Texas border in October, “reporters had to go to Mexico and cross the Rio Grande with the Haitians.”
Control by the press offices of cabinet departments and agencies over
access to administration officials – and restrictions on naming and
quoting them in stories — were primary concerns of reporters I
interviewed for this report. Named sources and attributed quotes and
information make news stories more credible. Their absence can be used
for false charges of “fake news.”
Barriers to access to government documents and other information also
continue to frustrate the press. Despite public commitments from both Biden and Attorney General Garland
to increase government transparency, Freedom of Information Act experts
have seen little improvement in the slow and often uncooperative
response of government agencies to journalists’ FOIA requests for
information. Formal letters to Biden and Garland from press freedom and
civil society groups with specific proposals for improvements have gone unanswered. The administration has not announced any FOIA response directives.
In the Obama and Trump administrations, “there had been backlogs and
delays, fully redacted documents or nothing at all,” University of
Georgia professor Peters told me. “There’s been a rise in
pending FOIA legal cases, and they are taking longer to close. I would
love for the Biden administration to change that. But there is not yet
evidence of change.”
“I haven’t heard any indications of improvements for journalists,”
said Adam Marshall, senior staff attorney for the Reporters Committee
for Freedom of the Press, who is involved in considerable news media
FOIA litigation. “Not a whole lot has changed from previous
administrations’ delays and denials of FOIA requests by journalists,”
Marshall said. “It’s largely a continuation of what we had. There is no
information on how FOIA would work in this administration.”
Biden Justice Department and the press
President Biden made one of the most important press freedom
decisions of his administration’s first year in what had appeared to be
an impromptu answer to a reporter’s question at the White House. Biden
was asked on May 21 about the Justice Department subpoenas and seizures
of journalists’ telephone and email records, as was frequently done during the Obama and Trump administrations.
“Absolutely, positively it’s wrong,” the President responded. “It’s simply, simply wrong.”
“So, you won’t let your Justice Department do that?” the reporter persisted.
The reporter asked because the Justice Department had recently informed three Washington Post reporters and the Pentagon correspondent for CNN that Justice, in the final days of the Trump administration, had secretly obtained their phone and email records in investigations of leaks of government information to them. Days after Biden’s statements, Justice informed The New York Times
that it also had secretly obtained phone records of four of its
reporters. None of the records seizures had previously been revealed or
reversed by Justice under Biden.
In mid-June, Attorney General Merrick Garland met with executives of the Post, the Times, and CNN.
He agreed with them that the Department of Justice (DOJ) should
establish “strong durable rules” to fulfill Biden’s promise that
reporters’ phone and email records would no longer be seized. On July
19, Garland released a memo to the nation’s federal prosecutors ordering that the practice be stopped.
“The Justice Department will no longer use compulsory legal process
for the purpose of obtaining information from or records of members of
the news media acting within the scope of newsgathering activities,” the
Attorney General wrote. He said that Justice would revise its
guidelines for federal prosecutors accordingly.
The memo made exceptions in cases of reporters being investigated for
a crime unrelated to their coverage, or of reporters considered agents
of foreign powers, or when it would be necessary “to prevent an imminent
risk of death or serious bodily harm, including terrorist attacks,
kidnappings, specified offenses against a minor,” or attacks on critical
infrastructure. And the new prohibition does not affect the seizure of
records of any government employee “who has unlawfully disclosed
Brown added that he and a group of news media leaders and lawyers who
had met with Garland before the memo was made public plan to meet with
DOJ again to discuss how it will be translated into the guidelines for
federal prosecutors. Brown said that they are particularly concerned
about how narrowly the exemptions to the prohibition on the seizure of
reporters’ records will be framed.
Justice Department public affairs director Anthony Coley confirmed to
me that “we will meet again with the news media dialogue group.” He
added that “one big question is, how does one identify a reporter?”
“We don’t know exactly what the revisions will be,” University of
Georgia’s Peters told me. “There are holes in the Garland memo. What
does ‘engaged in newsgathering’ mean? Who is ‘a member of the news
media’? DOJ has a lot of discretion. We hope that will be more
particularized in the guidelines.”
“The Biden administration is not just stepping away from what Trump
was doing, but also what Obama was doing,” said Trevor Timm, executive
director of the Freedom of the Press Foundation.
“But, so far, it’s just words. It needs to be written into Justice
Department guidelines. And Congress needs to take the words of Garland
and write them into law.”
During the Obama administration, the Justice Department prosecuted
an unprecedented 10 government employees and contractors for leaking
classified information to the news media, including Justice
investigations begun under President George W. Bush. Reporters’ phone
logs and email records were secretly subpoenaed and seized in several of
those cases. Under Donald Trump, Justice prosecuted eight more government employees and contractors for leaks to the press. In addition, it indicted Julian Assange,
founder of WikiLeaks, with obtaining secret military and diplomatic
documents and publishing them on the WikiLeaks website, making them
accessible to news media around the world.
Under pressure from Trump, Justice also opened leak investigations that involved the secret seizures in 2020 of 2017 phone and email records of the Post,Times, and CNN reporters. The Biden-era Justice Department did not disclose the seizures until notifying the targeted reporters
in May and June of 2021. While Garland took responsibility, Brown of
the Reporters Committee said that the news media leaders and lawyers who
met with Garland “made clear there should be accountability within DOJ”
for the secrecy and delay in notifications.
Brown and other press freedom advocates also remain concerned about
what the Biden Justice Department will do with the long-standing
indictment of Assange under the 1917 Espionage Act,
which was used by both the Obama and Trump administrations for many of
their prosecutions of government employees and contractors for leaking
classified information to the press.
The Trump-era indictment charged Assange with conspiring with U.S.
Army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning to acquire and publish
classified military and diplomatic information on WikiLeaks.
In February 2021, the Justice Department filed a brief appealing a
British court ruling that had blocked extradition of Assange from the
U.K. We are continuing to seek extradition, Justice spokesperson Marc
Raimondi said at the time. On December 10, Britain’s High Court ruled that Assange could be extradited after assurances from the Biden administration
that, if convicted, Assange would not be sent to the highest-security
U.S. prison or put into solitary confinement. Assange’s lawyers said
they would seek to make additional appeals on free speech and human
rights grounds. A Justice Department spokesperson declined to comment
A coalition of press, civil liberties, and human rights groups have
urged the Biden administration to drop its extradition efforts because
they believe prosecution of Assange poses a grave danger to press freedom. Many organizations fear that successful prosecution of him could hamper investigative reporting around the world by labeling as espionage the ways that reporters often work in seeking information from government sources.
“What is written in the indictment is a threat to journalists
everywhere – obtaining and publishing classified information,” Timm of
the Freedom of the Press Foundation told me. “The Assange prosecution
would make reporting on national security a crime. It could criminalize
investigative reporting. The Biden administration should drop the
Columbia Journalism School’s Coll agreed. “The Assange case should be
dropped,” he told me. The indictment “is full of misunderstandings
about how reporting works – very ordinary reporting.”
“It’s really troubling that in the indictment was a characterization
of basic reporting as part of a conspiracy,” said University of
“How does the administration square new protections for journalists
with the actions it takes on Assange?” asked Columbia Law School’s
Professor Jameel Jaffer. “The answer will shed light on the scope of
Other issues also linger in what remains of the toxic Trump-era
anti-press environment. Among them are continuing aggressive actions
against reporters by both law enforcement officials and members of the
public. In 2021, 59 journalists were arrested or detained by police,
according to the U.S. Press Freedom Tracker, after 142 such arrests in 2020. Another 142 journalists
had been assaulted either by law enforcement officers or members of the
public, a significant reduction from the 436 assaulted in 2020, but
still a worrying sign of remaining hostility.
The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press and a coalition of 91 news media organizations asked Attorney
General Garland on April 29 to investigate law enforcement’s treatment
of the press as part of the Justice Department’s new civil rights
investigations of local police departments in Minneapolis, Louisville, and Phoenix during the Black Lives Matter protests that swept the nation after the murder of George Floyd.
In addition to the arrests of members of the news media covering
demonstrations in American cities in 2020, the groups’ letter to Garland
said, “dozens more reporters were struck by less-lethal weapons,
exposed to chemical munitions, or otherwise subjected to unwarranted
Coley at Justice told me that those investigations will include how
the police departments treated reporters covering demonstrations in
those cities. “We have reached out to reporters’ groups” for
information, he said, and CNN is compiling information for Justice’s
civil rights division. “This is something the Attorney General cares
deeply about,” Coley added.
In July, Justice began arresting and prosecuting people
for attacking reporters and destroying press camera equipment during
the January 6 invasion of the U.S. Capitol. “We welcome the Justice
Department’s steps to hold people accountable for assaulting journalists
and damaging their equipment as they documented one of the worst
attacks on our democracy in recent times,” Brown of the Reporters
Committee said at the time. “These charges send a very clear message
that the Justice Department will protect journalists who are doing their
jobs to keep us informed.”
Global press freedom
Biden administration officials have publicly supported
global press freedom at a time of greatly increased suppression of news
media and attacks on journalists in many countries, which Trump appeared to encourage in his meetings with authoritarian foreign leaders. Up until Biden’s Summit for Democracy
in December, however, little had been done visibly to back up the
administration’s words, and it remains to be seen how initiatives from
the summit will be implemented.
Particularly important for press freedom was Biden’s decision on his first day in office to remove Trump appointee Michael Pack
as CEO of the United States Agency for Global Media. USAGM is an
independent federal agency composed of Voice of America, Radio Free
Europe/Radio Liberty, Radio Free Asia, Middle East Broadcasting
Networks, and Office of Cuba Broadcasting. Their missions had long been
to provide accurate, uncensored news to countries throughout the world,
especially those without a free press.
After a two-year struggle, President Trump had succeeded in June 2020
in winning confirmation for Pack in the Republican-controlled Senate.
Pack immediately began reorienting the agency to
force its long-autonomous news networks to promote Trump and his
“America First” political agenda. Pack suspended much of USAGM’s senior
leadership, removed the heads of each of its five news organizations, refused to renew visas of many of their foreign-national journalists, and ordered investigations of their journalists and news coverage decisions. He eliminated the USAGM “firewall”
that had prohibited any attempt by its leadership “to direct, pressure,
coerce, threaten, interfere with, or otherwise impermissibly influence
any of the USAGM networks.”
Some of the suspended and remaining USAGM officials sued in federal
court. In November 2020, U.S. District Court Chief Judge Beryl Howell
issued a preliminary injunction against
Pack interfering with personnel decisions at the five USAGM networks or
ordering investigations into journalistic content, individual editors
or journalists. Pack ignored the injunction, while the Trump Justice
After demanding Pack’s resignation on Inauguration Day, Biden immediately appointed senior Voice of America leader Kelu Chao as Acting CEO of USAGM. Chao, who had joined the lawsuit against Pack, brought back all the senior USAGM executives and the leaders of its five news networks. She told me that she also renewed the visas of their foreign journalists and restored the firewall “in practice,” while it is rewritten.
“Every level of people needs to know that it is there, and that the
independence of our journalists has been restored,” Chao told me. “I
want people to know that USAGM is nothing without our journalists and
their freedom. We were lucky that Biden won.”
Secretary of State Blinken met with Chao on April 6 “to discuss the
vital role that free and independent media play in the preservation and
promotion of democratic principles worldwide.” The meeting focused on
Russia’s decision to label Voice of America and Radio Free Europe/Radio
Liberty news content as produced by foreign agents. But the State Department also took the opportunity to declare in a statement
that “the editorially independent reporting of these (five USAGM)
networks is particularly important in countries with repressive media
environments, including where independent journalism is censored or
freedom of expression is restricted or punished.”
Blinken and Biden have spoken on other occasions about the need to
reverse a global trend toward suppression of press freedom and attacks
on journalists, with Biden saying on World Press Freedom Day that the U.S. was recommitting “to protecting and promoting free, independent, and diverse media around the world.”
Blinken’s World Press Freedom Day comments referred to “the brave journalists who face intimidation, harassment, arrest, and violence in exercising their rights.”
“One major step the Biden administration has taken is to speak
respectfully about the press,” University of Georgia professor Peters
told me at the end of August. “But there is more work to do beyond
For many press freedom activists, however, the administration’s
rhetoric has fallen short when it comes to support of press freedom
around the world.
Michael DeDora, Washington advocacy manager for the Committee to
Protect Journalists, cited the plight of American and Afghan journalists
after the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan. The administration has been criticized for its limited assistance to at-risk reporters, with New York Times media columnist Ben Smith reporting that
even Afghan journalists working for U.S.-funded media outlets like
Radio Free Europe had to make their own arrangements to flee the
DeDora told me that American news organizations, the Committee to
Protect Journalists, and other press groups – working with foreign
governments and the United Nations – had to do much of the work to
extract American and Afghan journalists during and after the chaotic
evacuation of American forces.
“There was no central person over at State to handle the challenges
of Afghanistan,” said DeDora, who was involved in CPJ’s efforts. “The
administration could be more forceful to make certain that journalists
are dealt with safely.”
“I can’t understand the criticism,” Price responded. “We established a
task force with the sole goal to help with the extraction” of American
and Afghan journalists and translators and drivers for American
journalists. He said about 500 have gotten out of Afghanistan so far.
Among those still in Afghanistan are a number of USAGM journalists
and their families, Martins Zvaners, Radio Free Europe’s deputy director
for external affairs, told me. “There are still people who need help
getting out,” he said, because of passport and visa issues. He cited as
an example three widows of USAGM journalists killed by the Taliban, who
are not eligible on their own for special visas. “We can’t get U.S.
support for them,” he said.
The State Department has assisted with resettlement of USAGM
journalists and their families “once we got them out” of Afghanistan,
added Zvaners. “USAGM did a lot of things on our own.”
Senator Benjamin Cardin of Maryland and Congressman Steve Cohen of
Tennessee sent a September 10 letter to Secretary of State Blinken,
expressing “our grave concern for USAGM employees and their families who
are still in Afghanistan.” State Department official Naz Durakoglu
responded on December 20 that State “is continuing its efforts to assist
those who are still in the country.”
In May, a group of press freedom groups, led by the Committee to
Protect Journalists, met with the National Security Council and made
recommendations for Biden administration actions to increase and protect
global and domestic press freedom. They included strengthening National
Security Council and State Department press freedom capabilities that
had been destroyed by the Trump administration.
“To my knowledge, very few of the recommendations have been acted
on,” CPJ’s DeDora told me. The NSC meeting “was to lead to a series of
meetings with policy makers. But that hasn’t happened.”
However, during his virtual international Summit for Democracy in
December, President Biden, the White House, and the U.S. Agency for
International Development (USAID) announced a number of mostly financial
steps to “support free and independent media” around the world.
USAID “will provide up to $30 million” to the new, multi-donor
International Fund for Public Interest Media “to enhance the
independence, development and sustainability of independent media,
especially in resource-poor and fragile settings,” the White House said. The independent fund is co-chaired by Nobel Prize-winning journalist Maria Ressa of the Philippines and former New York Times CEO and BBC director general Mark Thompson, who welcomed Biden’s promised assistance.
Biden announced that
USAID also would create and contribute up to $9 million to a Defamation
Defense Fund for Journalists “to help protect investigative journalists
against nuisance lawsuits designed to prevent them from doing their
work – their vital work around the world.” USAID administrator Samantha
Power said the fund would protect journalists against “autocrats and oligarchs” who often use lawsuits as “a crude but effective tactic to kill stories they don’t like.”
The White House said,
without details, that USAID also will spend up to $5 million to launch a
Media Viability Accelerator “to improve the financial viability of
independent media outlets in both under-developed and more-developed
media markets.” It said the Biden administration “will increase its
engagement with the Media Freedom Coalition, an intergovernmental
partnership working to advocate for media freedom and the safety of
journalists worldwide.” And it said the State Department will provide up
to $3.5 million to establish a Journalism Protection Platform, “which
will provide at-risk journalists with digital and physical security
training, psychological care, legal aid and other forms of assistance.”
CPJ’s DeDora welcomed these announcements. “On balance, the
administration did an excellent job crafting impactful commitments for
global press freedom,” he told me. “One of the recommendations at the
May meeting was to increase the amount of money the U.S. gives to
international organizations that work on global press freedom. This is
the most clear and specific outcome so far.”
At the same time, DeDora remained critical of what he saw as a
failure by the State Department to create specific institutional
capabilities to respond to growing threats to press freedom around the
world. News media and CPJ reports document widespread takeovers and shutdowns of independent news media by authoritarian regimes – and the killing and imprisoning of scores of journalists – including in countries invited by the Biden administration to participate
in the Summit for Democracy. DeDora acknowledged that State officials
do often reach out to affected journalists and media organizations and
international press freedom groups.
“State regularly speaks out in statements when journalists around the
world have come under threat or worse,” State Department spokesperson
Ned Price told me. “It is also something we raise with our counterparts
around the world privately.” He added that State’s Bureau of Democracy,
Human Rights and Labor “has regularly met with journalists and outlets
that have been kicked out of other countries.”
“The message it sent was, if you are important enough to the U.S. economy, that’s okay,” Post
media columnist Margaret Sullivan said. “We should be shunning MBS and
his family members, and not have a normal relationship with them.”
The administration did announce sanctions against various Saudis, plus visa restrictions, called “the Khashoggi ban,”
which could be imposed “against agents of any foreign government” who
“suppress, harass, surveil, threaten or harm journalists.”
Price said 76 Saudi individuals have been sanctioned so far. “It is
something that has been addressed at high level discussions with the
Saudis,” he told me. “It has been discussed with MBS himself.”
However, the administration has not sanctioned
Mohammed bin Salman personally. President Biden has refused to engage
with him, but Biden’s national security advisor, Jake Sullivan, has had
meetings with both bin Salman and with his brother, Prince Khalid bin
Salman, Saudi Arabia’s deputy defense minister.
In early November, the Biden administration imposed export
controls on the NSO Group, an Israeli company that has supplied
sophisticated surveillance technology, known as Pegasus, to foreign
governments, including Saudi Arabia, which used it to target the phones
of journalists, along with heads of state, dissidents, human rights
activists, and others, including three members of Khashoggi’s family. An
international collaboration of news organizations had reported in July that Pegasus had been used to target at least 180 journalists in 20 countries, including those working for The New York Times,The Wall Street Journal, the Associated Press, CNN, and Bloomberg News. The sanctions bar U.S. companies from doing business with NSO unless they receive explicit permission.
“The State Department determined that NSO was involved in activities
that contravened national security,” Price said, leading to the Commerce
Department’s decision to take action against the company. “Any effort
to target journalists’ activities anywhere in the world for their
journalism is something that we are not going to stand for,” he told me.
The future of the Biden administration and the press
With at least three years left in the Biden presidency, there is much
more to do to mitigate some of the lasting and continuing damage done
to the news media by Trump, his administration, and his followers in and
out of politics and the media.
Opinion polls still reflect widespread distrust of factual news media,
especially among self-identified Republicans. Attacks on the factual
press by right-wing politicians and media figures continue unabated. Too
many American journalists, especially women, are still subject to digital abuse and threats from the public. Right-wing outlets and social media continue to spread lies and misinformation, including the “big lie”
claiming that the 2020 election was stolen, that could undermine
American democracy itself. An increasing number of authoritarian
governments around the world are censoring and taking over news media
and arresting and killing journalists.
How the Biden administration responds to these challenges in word and
deed will help determine the future of the role of a free press at a
The Committee to Protect Journalists makes the following recommendations to the Biden administration:
Embrace good practice and transparency in dealing with the press
by speaking to reporters on the record and avoiding overuse of on
background briefings and quote approval. Make the president more
accessible to reporters.
Instruct all government departments to
comply with Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests in a timely
manner without regard to the media organizations or reporters filing
those requests. Enforce prompt and less restrictive responses to FOIA
requests to facilitate greater transparency.
restrictions that would require the Department of Homeland Security
(DHS) and U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to obtain warrants
before searching electronic devices. Require both agencies to release
transparency reports about such searches.
Prohibit DHS and CBP
agents from intimidating and singling out journalists for questioning
and/ or asking journalists about their work.
Codify the new DOJ policy restricting federal prosecutors’ ability to obtain journalists’ phone and email records in government leak investigations.
Prioritize and support passage of legislation – such as Senator Ron Wyden’s PRESS Act
– that would protect journalists’ First Amendment rights against
government prosecution for using and receiving confidential and
classified information. The legislation should expansively define
journalists, and shield reporters’ communication records, ensuring that
the government cannot compel journalists to disclose sources or
unpublished reporting information.
Stop the misuse of the
Espionage Act to hinder press freedom: Drop the espionage charges
against Julian Assange and cease efforts to extradite him to the U.S.
Put into place legislation that would prevent the use of the Espionage
Act as a means to halt news gathering activity.
U.S. companies or individuals are not contributing to the secret
surveillance of journalists, and that foreign companies face targeted
sanctions for enabling authoritarian governments to spy on
Take action against impunity in the murder of
journalists: Impose sanctions on Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Mohamed bin
Salman, holding the leader to account for his role in the killing of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi.
P-2 visa applications for Afghan journalists as rapidly as possible and
be communicative about which cases are being processed; allow P-2
processing for individuals who have reached the U.S.; and provide
support and protection to journalists still in Afghanistan or who have
escaped to third countries.
Twenty-four civil liberties and press freedom groups,
including the ACLU, Human Rights Watch, PEN America and Reporters
Without Borders have called on the Biden administration to stop its
prosecution against Assange. In a joint letter to the US Justice Department,
they argue that Assange’s prosecution could set a precedent that would
harm press freedom and the safety of journalists reporting on national
Assange spent seven years in refuge at the Ecuadorian Embassy in
London and was eventually arrested in 2019. Last week, Assange’s
supporters marked his 1,000th day of imprisonment at London’s Belmarsh
high security prison.
Stella Moris of Free Assange Now and Mr Assange's fiancee, tweeted: "There is a #COVID outbreak at Belmarsh prison. "The house block that Julian is in has been classed as an outbreak area.
"There is a lockdown. No association is permitted between prisoners. I will update when I know more."
Belmarsh, in Thamesmead, is a category A prison used in high-profile
cases, especially those cases involving national security.
It is built on the east site of the former Royal Woolwich Arsenal.
Assange has been there since April 11, 2019, having spent several years
prior to that living in the Ecuador embassy in London, where he had
Julian needs to be released immediately. Joe Biden needs to end the persecution of Julian.
If you're serious about ending the persecution, you don't say "Biden administration" or some official who reports to Joe Biden. If you're serious, you call out Joe and you call him out loudly. Joe's only weakness is his concern over his image. It's why he lies and lies repeatedly.
[. . . this section is being removed before posting. It was a trade off with an editor at a daily paper in exchange for a discussion I'll be noting at the end of this snapshot.]
So Glenn Kessler called out his roll dog Joe. Four pinocchios for Joe. And why? Because Joe went to Atlanta and felt the need to lie about being arrested back when he was a teenager, all those decades ago, at a Civil Rights protest in that racial hot bed known as Delaware.
Why does Joe do it? Why does he keep lying about everything?
Because there's never before been a more inconsequential president. He knows it. He knows he's accomplished nothing in his presidency and nothing in his public life. He knows he's a zero. So he has to lie to make himself look better. And he lies all the time creating events that never took place. He wants to be the Zelig of politics. "As history unfolds, Joe Biden is there . . ."
History is unfolding right now and if Joe wants to persecute Julian Assange, Joe needs to know what the cost will be. If Julian is extradicted to the US, 20 years from now, history lessons, Constitutional law courses will not be about Merick Garland. They'll be about Joe Biden and Joe Biden's abuse of power. They'll be about the despot Biden who terrorized a free press. If that's the image he wants, he can continue to persecute Julian. If he doesn't want that image -- and all the suffering his grandchildren will endure as a result, he can back the hell off an stop attacking journalism.
A Julian supporter who works with an organization to free Julian e-mailed to say that I was making this personal.
Yes, that is the entire point. Stop pie-in-the-skying this. Make it personal. It's very personal. It's about a free perss and informed citizenry, it does't get more personal that that.
Which is why Trina's right to laugh at Frances Moore Lappe. That column is so embarrassing and the one thing Trina didn't know is that Frances has wasted her life on those efforts. It is a waste and she's built organizations -- many of which have fallen. I love Frances but she's stupid idiot to think that what's failed every dcade starting with the 1970s is going to work now. She's also a liar and I say that as someone who lies her. If you are going to talk about campaign politics and getting money out of it You're a whore if you don't mention Barack Obama and 2008 and how he changed public funding with his decisions. John Kerry floated that same move in 2004 but got pushback. No one pushed on baby Barack -- not then, not since. That's whoring Frances and that may be even more disappointing than those ridiculous frou-frou recipes you've put into your 50th edition book.
Let me say this, and I hope I'm not stepping on Trina's toes. That 50th anniversary is an inult tot he whole world. You're a damn idiot.
The whole point of DIET FOR A SMALL PLANET was getting people to eat healthier for themsleves and for the planet. And yet, in 2021 (September, I believe), you published that awful edition.
What's the number on cause of kidney disease in the US? Diabetes. What's the seventh leading cause of death in the US? Diabetes.
We could go on and on. And it's a global problem. So it's cute to read Frances new recipes promoting sugar and potatoes (high carb) and other nonsense that is not all helpful to anyone with diabetes.
You're book is an embarrassment and it is so far from what DIET FOR A SMALL PLANET was supposed to be about -- helping people eat healthy -- that you should be ashamed. Not only is it a tiny recipe section -- compre it to previous editions -- no one outside the Bay area is probably going to have access to the basic ingredients for these frou-frou recipes. And parents can't plan a meal around the garbage recipes Frances has served up this time. Enchilada bake? That worked in past editions because your kids will eat enchiladas -- even if they know there's no meat in it, they'll eat it. When you srat introducing all that frou-frou crap, you're divorced from the reality that is the average American's life. She should have called it DIET FOR THE FROU-FROU ON THE SMALL PLANET.
It is a repudiation of everything she ever stood for and as a diabetic in the 21st century, I am appllaed by the garbage she is serving up which does not even aspire to 'diabetic friendly.'
Back to the e-mail. Yes, I am making it personal. And it's certainly personal to Julian whose life is at stake.
Stop being so wimpy. Do you want to save Julian, do you want to save free speech? Then hang the problem around the neck responsible for it. Stop giving Joe Biden a pass. He could end this at any momrent. If he refuses to do so, this is what he will be remembered for.
The U.S. Embassy and other parts of the Green Zone in Baghdad were
attacked by "terrorist groups" Thursday, according to the embassy.
U.S. Embassy compound was attacked this evening by terrorist groups
attempting to undermine Iraq’s security, sovereignty and international
relations," the embassy said in a tweet. "We have long said that these
sorts of reprehensible attacks are an assault not just on diplomatic
facilities, but on the sovereignty of Iraq itself."
An explosion from a hand grenade hit the headquarters of
Iraqi parliament speaker Mohammed Halbousi's Taqaddum party in Baghdad
early on Friday wounding two guards, police sources said.
The blast caused damage to the building's doors and windows, police said.
No group claimed responsibility and there was no comment from Halbousi or the Iraqi government immediately for the incident.
A similar incident hours later targeted the Baghdad headquarters of
the Azm party of another Sunni politician, Khamis al-Khanjar, police
said, but caused only light damage.
Now we're going to US politics. On the phone with a friend who called during the middle of dictating this snapshot this video came up.
How dumb is Hillary?
That's the question the editor asked me regarding what's discussed in that video above.
She's really dubm. She's out of touch. No one needs to listen to her because she lost her election. Yes, yes, her name got her elected in New York state. Twice. New York state's no thte country. She had one job in 2016 and it was to win and she failed. So no one needs her advice about how to win elections. She really needs to shut her mouth the way other losers -- Michael Dukakis, for example -- did in the past.
But what the editor friend pointed out is that the press would love for her to tun in 2024.
They would rip her apart.
The press does not self-critique. So even though they, like most Americans, realize Russia-gate was nothing but lies, they don't have a means to tell that story.
Unless Hillary ryns again. She was part of the lie. She conspired to come up with it. White House documents show that Barack was informed of that months before the election. Hillary knew it was a lie because she was part of the lie. Yet she spent four years pretending ot the American people, lying to them.
It's an awful moment in US history. But the press doesn't out itself. They look for people they can rectify the recod with.
Hillary trying to run again? Young reporters on the trail? Russia-gate and Hillary's role in it would be front and center.
That's before you even get to the fact that she has nothing to offer, will be way too old for the office and has spent every year since 2016 sewing more and more divisions.
They will rip her apart.
The country needs new direction and relic from the 90s Hillary Clinton can't provide that anymore than Joe Biden can.