Afghanistan Watchdog: Biden Admin ‘Unreasonably Refusing to Provide Information’

John Sopko, the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan (SIGAR), wrote a letter to Secretary of State Antony Blinken, USAID Administrator Samantha Power, and the heads of several congressional committees on Wednesday complaining that the Biden administration abruptly stopped cooperating with his investigations after he issued a report critical of President Joe Biden’s withdrawal from Afghanistan.

“It is my duty to report that the Department of State and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) are unreasonably refusing to provide information and assistance requested by SIGAR,” Sopko wrote, citing the relevant laws requiring those agencies to cooperate.

Sopko documented a “repeated and continuing refusal to provide information and assistance requested by my office,” especially on three sensitive matters: the swift collapse of the U.S.-backed government in Afghanistan after President Biden’s disastrous withdrawal of military forces in August 2021, compliance with “laws and regulations prohibiting the transfer of funds to the Taliban,” and humanitarian aid for the Afghan people.

Sopko pointed out that Congress clearly and unambiguously required the State Department and USAID to cooperate with his investigations when his office was established, and three previous administrations have done as Congress directed.

“It is shocking that State and USAID officials are choosing at this particular juncture to violate the law, obstruct SIGAR’s oversight work, and refuse to cooperate with our oversight requests,” he wrote.

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Imperial Narrative Control Has Five Distinct Elements

All of our world’s worst problems are created by the powerful. The powerful will keep creating those problems until ordinary people use their superior numbers to make them stop. Ordinary people don’t use their superior numbers to stop the powerful because the powerful are continuously manipulating people’s understanding of what’s going on.

Humans are storytelling creatures. If you can control the stories humans are telling themselves about the world, you control the humans, and you control the world.

Mental narrative plays a hugely prominent role in human experience; if you’ve ever tried to still your mind in meditation you know exactly what I’m talking about. Babbling thought stories dominate our experience of reality. It makes sense then that if you can influence those stories, you’re effectively influencing someone’s experience of reality.

The powerful manipulate the dominant narratives of our society in approximately five major ways: propaganda, censorship, Silicon Valley algorithm manipulation, government secrecy, and the war on journalism. Like the fingers on a hand they are distinct from each other and each play their own role, but they’re all part of the same thing and work together toward the same goal. They’re all just different aspects of the US-centralized empire’s narrative control system.

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Judge Seals Records In Suicide Of Former Clinton Aide Connected To Epstein

An Arkansas judge has issued a preliminary injunction to seal the police report and crime scene photographs of Little Rock businessman Mark Middleton, a former aide to President Bill Clinton.

It was Middleton that was one of the people who introduced Clinton to the late convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein when he admitted him to the White House several times, Radar Online reported.

Middleton “was found May 7 hanging from a tree with a shotgun blast through his chest and a cheap Dollar Tree-type extension cord around his neck in what investigators have determined to be a suicide.”

“The Court finds the public’s interest in disclosure of the Media Content does not outweigh the Middletons’ protected privacy interest in the Media Content at this time,” Perry County Circuit Judge Alice Gray said on June 20.

“The Court finds that since Mr. Middleton’s death, the Middleton have been harassed by individuals with outlandish, hurtful, unsubstantiated, and offensive conspiracy theories regarding Mr. Middleton, his death, and his family, which have caused the Middletons immense harm and anguish,” the judge said.

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Rand Paul Says Gun Control Bill Was Kept ‘Secret’ And Senators Not Allowed Time To Read It

As the Senate passed a gun control bill this week with fifteen Republicans siding with Democrats, Senator Rand Paul noted that no one had time to even read the legislation because it was “assembled in secret.”

“Unfortunately, this legislation was assembled as many are — in secret, absent well-placed leaks to journalists,” Paul tweeted, adding “There doesn’t appear to be a willingness or time provided to read, understand, debate or amend this bill.”

The Senator further vowed to try to introduce amendments to the bill to “correct the constitutional deficiencies.”

The Senate voted 64-34 Tuesday night to advance the bill. 

How can any elected official sincerely decide on legislation without reading it or debating it?

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Uvalde Hires Private Law Firm to Argue It Doesn’t Have to Release School Shooting Public Records

The City of Uvalde and its police department are working with a private law firm to prevent the release of nearly any record related to the mass shooting at Robb Elementary School in which 19 children and two teachers died, according to a letter obtained by Motherboard in response to a series of public information requests we made. The public records Uvalde is trying to suppress include body camera footage, photos, 911 calls, emails, text messages, criminal records, and more.

“The City has not voluntarily released any information to a member of the public,” the city’s lawyer, Cynthia Trevino, who works for the private law firm Denton Navarro Rocha Bernal & Zech, wrote in a letter to Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton. The city wrote the letter asking Paxton for a determination about what information it is required to release to the public, which is standard practice in Texas. Paxton’s office will eventually rule which of the city’s arguments have merit and will determine which, if any, public records it is required to release.

The letter makes clear, however, that the city and its police department want to be exempted from releasing a wide variety of records in part because it is being sued, in part because some of the records could include “highly embarrassing information,” in part because some of the information is “not of legitimate concern to the public,” in part because the information could reveal “methods, techniques, and strategies for preventing and predicting crime,” in part because some of the information may cause or may “regard … emotional/mental distress,” and in part because its response to the shooting is being investigated by the Texas Rangers, the FBI, and the Uvalde County District Attorney. 

The letter explains that Uvalde has at least one in-house attorney (whose communications it is trying to prevent from public release), and yet, it is using outside private counsel to deal with a matter of extreme  importance and public interest. Uvalde’s city government and its police department did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Motherboard.

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Supreme Court Tortures the Constitution Again

The Supreme Court ruled in March that Americans have no right to learn the grisly details of CIA torture because the CIA has never formally confessed its crimes. The case symbolizes how the rule of law has become little more than legal mumbo-jumbo to shroud official crimes. And it is another grim reminder that Americans cannot rely on politically approved lawyers wearing bat suits to save their freedoms.

In 2002, the CIA captured Abu Zubaydah, a Palestinian radical, in Pakistan and falsely believed he was a kingpin with al Qaeda. The CIA tortured him for years in Thailand and Poland. As Justice Neal Gorsuch noted, the CIA “waterboarded Zubaydah at least 80 times, simulated live burials in coffins for hundreds of hours,” and brutalized him to keep him awake for six days in a row. The CIA has admitted some of the details of the torture, and Zubaydah’s name was mentioned more than a thousand times in a 683-page Senate report released in 2014 on the CIA torture regime. But the Supreme Court permitted the CIA to pretend that the case is still secret.

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Family of Bill Clinton advisor who admitted Jeffrey Epstein into White House seven times has blocked release of files detailing the death scene after he was found hanging from a tree with a shotgun blast at a ranch 30 miles from his home

The family of a top advisor to Bill Clinton who admitted Jeffrey Epstein to the White House multiple times during his presidency is pulling out all the stops to keep details of his mysterious death becoming public.

They have petitioned a judge to prevent pictures of Mark Middleton’s death scene being released under the Freedom of Information Act.

And now the local Arkansas sheriff is interpreting that to mean he can’t talk or release any details of Middleton’s May 7 suicide.

‘The investigation is still open. I can’t say anything more,’ Perry County Sheriff Scott Montgomery told DailyMail.com. 

Middleton, who served as special assistant to President Bill Clinton in the 1990s, died at the age of 59, his family announced last month. 

His death adds to the number of close associates of the former president and first lady who have died unexpectedly, many in small plane crashes. The phenomenon has led to a conspiracy theory called Clinton Body Count which even has its own Wikipedia page.

Middleton’s family did not disclose the cause of death at the time but authorities later confirmed the former White House official took his own life with a self-inflicted gunshot at an urban farm in Perryville, Arkansas.

In a lawsuit filed on May 23, the family admits Middleton committed suicide, and says they have ‘a privacy interest’ in preventing any ‘photographs, videos, sketches (or) other illustrative content’ from the death scene being released.

They claim it would lead to ‘outlandish, hurtful, unsupported and offensive articles’ being published online.

They argued that keeping the footage and files sealed would halt a proliferation of ‘unsubstantiated conspiracy theories’.

A judge is due to hear the case on June 14. 

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Supreme Court Expands Government Secrecy Powers in Torture-Related Case

The US Supreme Court ruled recently on the government’s use of the state secrets doctrine in an opinion that will make it easier for intelligence agencies to evade accountability in future individual rights cases. In US v. Zubaydah, government torture policy and state secrets converge. A torture victim requested information related to his treatment at a CIA “black site,” and the government blocked that request, citing national security interests. Seven members of the Court joined parts of an opinion siding with the government, with only Justices Sotomayor and Gorsuch dissenting. The case has implications for other torture-related cases and for government accountability more broadly as it expands state secrecy powers based on a doctrine that was already overbroad, and suspect in its origins.

The Zubaydah case is procedurally unusual. Abu Zubaydah is currently detained at Guantanamo, but the history of his confinement and treatment at numerous sites over the past two decades is well known. The government has admitted to waterboarding him and subjecting him to other forms of torture, and the 2014 Senate Report on Torture refers specifically to Zubaydah at numerous points. Moreover, former President Obama conceded that Zubaydah was tortured. In the course of seeking a tribunal that would hear his claims, Zubaydah asked the Polish government to investigate criminally the interrogations that took place at a CIA black site in Poland, Stare Kiejkuty. Since much of the supporting evidence was located in the United States, Zubaydah had to petition a US District Court for an order compelling its production. Federal law allows for such a petition, but when it was filed, the US government objected, citing the state secrets doctrine. The case worked its way up to the Supreme Court and the Court ruled for the first time in years on the scope and application of the doctrine.

The state secrets privilege (SSP) is an evidentiary doctrine originating in the 1953 case of US v. Reynolds, a Cold War-era dispute involving the crash of a military aircraft. In Reynolds, the victims’ families sought information about the crash, specifically survivors’ statements and an accident report. The government objected, claiming that revealing this information would endanger national security. The Supreme Court agreed, and their ruling gave birth to the SSP, which expanded in use over the ensuing seven decades. In short, the ruling says that the government is entitled to withhold information, in the course of litigation, where there is a “danger that compulsion of the evidence will expose military matters which, in the interest of national security, should not be divulged.” But the potential for such a broadly stated secrecy power to be abused is self-evident and was so even in the Reynolds case itself. As Louis Fisher has shown, the information withheld in Reynolds surfaced on the Internet in the 1990s and was quite mundane, containing not military secrets but evidence of government negligence instead.

Courts have applied the SSP to thwart discovery of evidence in a case where a twelve-year-old boy came under CIA scrutiny for writing letters overseas, where government workers sought information about deadly chemicals to which they had been exposed (so they could get treatment for their illness), and where the victim in an earlier torture case sought relief. But some questions had not been settled. Could the very subject matter of a case be a state secret, so that no discovery requests could even be made? Could trial courts order production of alleged secret evidence in chambers so a judge could view it before ruling on the SSP? And most centrally relevant to Zubaydah’s case, could the SSP apply to information already in the public domain (in other words, to non-secrets)?

It is this last question – whether the SSP applies to already-known information – that the Court took on in its recent opinion. The existence of Stare Kiejkuty is well-known, described in various sources. And the witnesses whose testimony Zubaydah sought to procure had already testified in similar proceedings. James Mitchell and Bruce Jessen were government contractors – psychologists specializing in family therapy who developed coercive interrogation protocols and then supervised their use by the CIA on-site. One of them even wrote a book about his exploits, and both had already testified about their interrogation work in other cases, such as the trial of Khalid Shaikh Mohammed.

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School System May Have 4,000 Materials About ‘Sex Work’ – But Parents Will Have To Pay $20,000 To See Them

The public school system in Virginia‘s capital says it may have more than 4,000 lesson plans, emails, and other materials about “sex work,” but if concerned parents want details, they will have to pay $20,000 to find out.

The Richmond district’s potential trove of disturbing materials was revealed when officials responded to a Daily Wire Freedom of Information Act request for all records and materials invoking the terms “sex work” or “sex worker,” including in teaching materials and communications between employees. The issue has raised concerns among parents who say library books and teaching materials increasingly normalize sex work.

“Given the broad scope of your revised request of the email search for the terms ‘sex work’ and ‘sex worker,’ our IT staff projects that upwards of 4,000 records may be retrieved in the search,” the district responded, adding that the “estimated charge that may be incurred by [Richmond Public Schools] to access, duplicate, supply, and/or search for records responsive your request, in the amount of $19,555.40,” half of which was required to begin searching.

District officials said that the hefty price was in part because it included the cost of bureaucrats deciding what information to withhold, despite matching the query.

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US guidance counselors association advocates for schools to keep students’ gender transition secret from parents

Hundreds upon hundreds of school districts across the country have adopted guidelines as to how educators should handle gender identity revelations by students that state unequivocally that trans-identifying or trans-exploring students should be affirmed. The guidelines go on to say that where necessary, the students’ exploration and schools’ subsequent affirmation should be kept secret from parents and guardians.

These guidelines appear to have emerged out of nowhere. Every few days on social media, parents, caregivers, politicians and pundits discover that a school district that they care about is practicing this gender affirming model, even to the exclusion of parents. They find that curriculum has been designed to not only support gender exploring students, but to seemingly encourage other children to follow in the footsteps of those gender explorers. And they are appalled.

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