Lara Logan

Lara Logan’s Husband Was a Propagandist for the U.S. Military

Photo credit: White Deer Preserve, Getty Images

Why hasn’t CBS fired this woman?  Not because of what her husband’s job was in Iraq, but for her sloppy journalism, period.  If a similar charge of incompetence was bad enough for CBS to fire Dan Rather, then Logan should have been in CBS’ crosshairs as well.


Everyone wants to know: Why did CBS correspondent Lara Logan trust Dylan Davies, the now-discredited security contractor, and the story he told 60 Minutesabout the 2012 attacks in Benghazi, Libya? It’s truly mystifying—unless, that is, you know about her last significant lapse in professional judgement involving a security contractor.

Many people know that in 2008 Logan married Joseph W. Burkett, a defense contractor she met while stationed in Baghdad to cover the Iraq War for CBS News. Logan and Burkett were both married to other people when they became involved, and the story of their war-zone love affair—complete with reports of a brawl between Burkett and CNN’s Michael Ware, another rival for Logan’s affections—lit up the tabloids at the time.

What most people don’t know, however, is the nature of Burkett’s work in Iraq. He was an employee of the Lincoln Group, a now-shuttered “strategic communications and public relations firm” hired by the Department of Defense in 2005 to plant positive stories written by American soldiers in Baghdad newspapers during the Iraq War.

“He did information operations,” one former colleague of Burkett’s told Gawker. “It was really spooky stuff. We worked with one of those special spooky IO outfits that didn’t even have a unit patch.” It’s the kind of work for which a close relationship with an American network correspondent might come in handy.

And it paid handsomely. Under an “indefinite delivery, indefinite quantity contract,” the Pentagon promised the Lincoln Group up to $100,000,000 to assist the military’s Joint Psychological Operations with controlling local media coverage of the American occupation. The Lincoln Group later became the target of congressional and Defense Department investigators over its handling of U.S. cash and its propaganda tactics.

CBS News never saw fit to disclose that one of its star war correspondents became romantically involved with a man who was paid by the U.S. government to manipulate civilian public opinion about the disastrous war in Iraq. Nor has Burkett’s background ever been reported in much detail. Most recently The New York Times described him as a “work-at-home Congressional liaison,” without noting his employer.

Before working at The Lincoln Group, which would eventually be acquired by an Arlington firm called Strategic Social, Burkett served in the Texas Army National Guard for nine years, according to military records maintained by Nexis. (Oddly, Bill Burkett, the retired Army colonel who in 2004 supplied 60 Minutes with fabricated memos about George W. Bush’s military service, also served in the Texas Army National Guard. There’s no evidence the men are related, which would be pretty wild.)

Logan and Burkett did not respond to requests for comment. CBS declined to comment on the record.

President Obama · Syria

Obama Plans Media Blitz Monday As Syria Vote Looms

TPM LiveWire

President Barack Obama will give interviews [today] to ABC, NBC, CBS, PBS, CNN and Fox, according to a White House pool report, as he seeks to persuade Congress to approve a U.S. military strike against Syria.

The interviews will be taped in the afternoon and appear in the evening on those channels, per the pool report.

Earlier Saturday, Obama made pressed his case in the White House weekly address, promising that the mission in Syria would not turn into another Iraq or Afghanistan. He vowed that the strikes would be limited and that Bashar al-Assad’s regime must be punished for using chemical weapons to murder his own people.

“We cannot turn a blind eye to images like the ones we’ve seen out of Syria,” he said. “Failing to respond to this outrageous attack would increase the risk that chemical weapons could be used again; that they would fall into the hands of terrorists who might use them against us, and it would send a horrible signal to other nations that there would be no consequences for their use of these weapons.  All of which would pose a serious threat to our national security.”


David Letterman points out major flaw in U.S. Syria strategy

Letterman presents Romney lies

Points taken, Mr. Letterman…

The Raw Story

Friday night on CBS’ “Late Show with David Letterman,” host David Letterman devoted a portion of his opening monologue to the unfolding crisis in Syria under the leadership of “evil weasel” Bashar al-Assad. Letterman did note one glaring flaw in the current U.S. plan, however.

“So now they’re having Senate hearings on whether we attack Syria,” he said. “Day five. Don’t you think we have lost, at this point, the element of surprise?”

Furthermore, Letterman said, there are some issues with Secretary of State John Kerry’s comportment during the hearings.


Watch the video, embedded below via News of the World:

Colin Powell · Voter Suppression

Colin Powell: Voter ID Laws Will ‘Backfire’ For Republicans

The Huffington Post

Former Secretary of State Colin Powell warned Republicans on Sunday that the strict voter identification laws they’re pursuing around the country will damage the party’s standing with growing blocs of voters.

“[H]ere’s what I say to my Republican friends: The country is becoming more diverse,” Powell told Bob Schieffer on CBS’ “Face the Nation.” “You say you want to reach out, you say you want to have a new message. You say you want to see if you can bring some of these voters to the Republican side. This is not the way to do it.”

“The way to do it is to make it easier for them to vote and then give them something to vote for that they can believe in,” Powell added.

In the wake of the Supreme Court’s ruling that struck down a key portion of the Voting Rights Act, Republicans in states like North Carolina, Florida and Texas have sought voter restrictions that critics, including Powell, say will disproportionately hurt minorities at the polls. North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory (R) signed legislation earlier this month that requires voter identification, rolls back early voting hours and ends a state-supported voter registration drive. Powell condemned that particular law at an event in Raleigh last week.

Powell pointed out that there was no evidence of widespread voter fraud, the very premise of the identification statutes.

“You need a photo ID. Well, you didn’t need a photo ID for decades before,” Powell said. “Is it really necessary now? And they claim that there’s widespread abuse and voter fraud, but nothing documents, nothing substantiates that. There isn’t widespread abuse.”

Powell predicted that such measures will blow up in Republicans’ faces.

“These kind of procedures that are being put in place to slow the process down and make it likely that fewer Hispanics and African Americans might vote, I think, are going to backfire, because these people are going to come out and do what they have to do in order to vote, and I encourage that,” he said.

During the interview, Powell also reflected on the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington, recalling times when he couldn’t eat in certain places due to the color of his skin, even though he’d just served his country.

“In my lifetime, over a long career in public life, you know, I’ve been refused access to restaurants where I couldn’t eat, even though I just came back from Vietnam: ‘We can’t give you a hamburger, come back some other time,'” Powell recalled. “And I did, right after the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was passed, I went right back to that same place and got my hamburger, and they were more than happy to serve me now. It removed a cross from their back, but we’re not there yet. We’re not there yet. And so we’ve got to keep working on it.”

Children Gun Deaths

Antonio Santiago Update: Gunshot residue found on slain Ga. baby’s parents, report says

Antonio Santiago celebrating his first Christmas in December of 2012. / AP Photo/Courtesy of Sherry West

I’m posting this story because of its political implications.  Where is the mainstream media hype on this info?

Remember Charles Stuart from Boston who killed his pregnant wife and blamed it on a group of Black teens?  How about Susan Smith who drove her car in a lake with her children inside and claimed a Black man hijacked her car?  Just a few days ago a Fox News commentator chided the President’s speech about race by mentioning the Black teens that killed 13 month old Antonio Santiago.

The following case is beginning to sound eerily familiar.

CBS News – Crime Insider

The father and mother of Antonio Santiago, the 13-month-old baby who was allegedly fatally shot in Brunswick, Ga. by two teens in March, had gunshot residue on them the day their son was killed, according to the state’s forensic report obtained by CBS affiliate WTEV.

While the fact that Sherry West, the baby’s mother, was also shot during her son’s killing could explain why residue was found on her, it is unclear how or why the baby’s father, Louis Santiago, would have been exposed to gunshot residue.

A conclusion from the state forensic report says, “This supports the possibility that [Louis Santiago] discharged a firearm, was in close proximity to a firearm upon discharge, or came into contact with an item whose surface bears GSR [gunshot residue].”

According to the station, Louis Santiago is currently in jail on charges of aggravated stalking. An arrest warrant from June 6 reportedly says Santiago was stalking Sherry West, in violation of police orders. He was reportedly convicted of the same charges in another case from 2009.

West claims Santiago “went nuts” in the months following their son’s murder and violated a restraining order, according to the station.

“He was throwing things through the window and terrorizing me, saying that I killed my baby and it should have been me,” West told the station.

West has always maintained that she was walking her baby by herself when two teens, De’Marquise Elkins and Dominique Lang, tried to rob her at gunpoint on a Brunswick sidewalk. The teens allegedly shot her in the leg and baby Antonio in the head. Both are behind bars on charges of murder and are scheduled to stand trial next month.

According to the station, West says it is plausible that she would have gunshot residue on her because she was, in fact, shot. She also says it may be possible that the baby’s father came into contact with the residue when he saw her at the hospital.

Police have not named Sherry West or Louis Santiago suspects in their son’s murder.

Complete coverage of Antonio Santiago’s shooting death on Crimesider

113th Congress · John Boehner

Boehner tries to rebrand failure, defend Congress’ ineptitude

The Maddow Blog

This Congress is generally perceived as failing miserably when it comes to governing, and a few weeks ago, we learned this perception is quantifiably true: the 113th Congress is on track to pass fewer bills than any since the clerk’s office started keeping track in the mid-1940s.

When a reporter asked House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) late last week about the institution’s “historically unproductive” nature, the Republican balked. “That’s just total nonsense,” he snapped, before the question was even finished.

Over the weekend, however, Boehner reversed course, deciding that his unproductive tenure isn’t something to be denied; it’s something to be celebrated.

House Speaker John Boehner says Congress “ought to be judged on how many laws we repeal.”

The Ohio Republican makes the comments on an interview aired Sunday on CBS “Face the Nation.” He was responding to a question about how little Congress is doing these days.

Boehner says Congress “should not be judged by how many new laws we create.”

Let’s appreciate exactly what Boehner is trying to do here. When he and his Republican colleagues sought power, they told the electorate that they would work to find solutions to national problems. After having been unsuccessful, the Speaker of the House has decided to rebrand failure — he wants credit for his record of futility and expects praise for the fact that he and his caucus have made no legislative progress since he took power three years ago.

Instead of finding solutions to ongoing challenges, Boehner believes Congress should be focusing on undoing solutions to previous challenges. By the Speaker’s reasoning, we should probably change the language we use when it comes to Capitol Hill — Boehner and his colleagues aren’t lawmakers, they’re lawenders.

The House Speaker is on his way to establishing an accomplishment-free legacy, and at this point, he’d like you to think that’s great.

Indeed, the closer one looks at Boehner’s argument, the more bizarre it appears.

On the surface, his rhetoric is the epitome of the kind of post-policy nihilism that dominates Republican thought in 2013 — Boehner doesn’t want to build up, he’d rather tear down. Given an opportunity to look forward and make national progress, the Speaker sees value in looking backward and undoing what’s already been done.

And just below the surface, the argument reinforces what has long been suspected: House Republicans not only don’t have a positive policy agenda, they don’t even see the point in pretending to want one.

But then there’s the most problematic angle of all. Congress “ought to be judged on how many laws we repeal”? I’m afraid I have bad news for Speaker: Congress isn’t repealing laws, either. Indeed, in order for lawmakers to repeal laws, Congress has to — wait for it — pass legislation addressing those laws.

In other words, by Boehner’s own standards for evaluating Congress on the merits, he’s failing.

Don’t expect a sudden burst of productivity, either — after taking four weeks off for the August recess, Boehner announced late last week that the Republican-led House only intends to work nine days in the month of September.

Keep in mind, in election year, we might expect congressional leaders to schedule fewer work days in September because members want to be on the campaign trail, but odd-numbered years are generally supposed to be focused on governing.

It seems getting nothing done is exhausting.

Rep. Darrell Issa

John McCain Disagrees With Darrell Issa’s ‘Liar’ Charge

Sen. John McCain says: “Let the facts come out.”

Facts?  That word does not exist  to those pursuing every political option to oust Attorney General Eric Holder and President Barack Obama from office.

The Huffington Post

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) pushed back Monday on comments by Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), who said that White House press secretary Jay Carney lied about the IRS controversy.

“I never like to use that word,” McCain said on CBS’ “This Morning.” “I think that we should let these investigations take their course, let the facts come out.”

Issa charged Sunday that the IRS agents who targeted tea party groups had been following orders from the White House. “Their paid liar, their spokesperson — picture behind — he’s still making up things about what happens and calling this a local rogue,” Issa said Sunday on CNN’s “State of The Union.”

On May 22, Carney pointed to a Treasury Department Inspector General report finding no evidence of influence or pressure from higher-ups. Issa has released excerpts — but not the full transcript — of an interview with a Cincinnati IRS employee saying that directions for more tea party scrutiny came from Washington.

McCain, nevertheless, criticized the IRS for its response to the targeting. “They’re not covering themselves with distinction here. But I think these hearings are what we should rely on to a significant degree,” he said.

He also said that the president’s credibility was “at stake” over the IRS targeting.


Taser Incidents · War on Drugs

Texas Police Tase Overweight Asthmatic to Death in Drug Raid That Uncovers No Drugs

Yet another sad casualty of the war on drugs


On May 16th, Forth Worth police entered the home of Jarmaine Darden, 34, in search of cocaine. The raid, which does not appear to have uncovered any cocaine,  ended with the 34-year-old father dead after police tased him multiple times.

Family members told CBS 11 that the 350-pound man, who’d been asleep on the couch when police came in, couldn’t drop to the ground on his stomach as officers commanded because he suffered from asthma.

“They physically pulled him off the couch because, like I said, he was asleep. They pulled him off the couch and they tried to put him on his stomach. He can’t breathe on his stomach. He don’t even lie on the bed on his stomach,” said Donna Randle, the mother of victim Jarmaine Darden, 34. 

According to what witnesses told CBS 11, Darden stopped breathing and died after police tased him the second time. An investigation into the incident is underway.
Tasers are supposed to save lives by allowing police to de-escalate dangerous situations without using their guns. But critics say they are over-used and can prove deadly, most often by causing cardiac arrhythmia and cardiac arrest, including in otherwise healthy individuals. Hundreds of incidents of death or injury have been reported, leading to multiple lawsuits against police departments and Taser International, a manufacturer of the weapon.
Ironically, police officers have sued the company in the past for taser injuries suffered  during training sessions. 


Benghazi · Rep. Darrell Issa

Breaking: Report claims Republicans edited White House Benghazi e-mails

What was the GOP hoping to achieve by over-blowing the current Benghazi scandal and other “scandals” promoted by them?

The Examiner

A new report released Thursday night accused Republicans of editing the White House Benghazi e-mails, sending a hard blow to the conservative conspiracy theory on the issue.

Only one day after the White House released 100 pages of Benghazi e-mails, CBS news is reporting that the original e-mails released only one week ago were edited by Republicans. The two main points that were focused on in the CBS report were from National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes and State Department Spokeswoman Victoria Nuland.

The statement by Rhodes in the official White House e-mail differs from the edited Republicans version. Below are the two statement were the difference is clearly shown.

Republican edited e-mail:

“We must make sure that the talking points reflect all agency equities, including those of the State Department, and we don’t want to undermine the FBI investigation.”

Offical White House email:

“We need to resolve this in a way that respects all of the relevant equities, particularly the investigation.”

State Department Spokeswoman Victoria Nuland’s comments were also altered, as CBS news points out the conflicting statements.

Republican edited e-mail: :

“The penultimate point is a paragraph talking about all the previous warnings provided by the Agency (CIA) about al-Qaeda’s presence and activities of al-Qaeda.”

Official White House email:

“The penultimate point could be abused by members to beat the State Department for not paying attention to Agency warnings.”

After congressional Republicans accused the Obama administration of watering down vital information regarding the attacks in Benghazi, they released e-mails that were supposed to be damaging to the White House. If the CBS report holds water, the Republican conspiracy against the Obama administration could lose traction.

President Obama called the alleged scandal a “sideshow,” and a new poll shows that more people trust former Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton over congressional Republicans on the situation in Benghazi. While Republicans have compared the alleged “Benghazi cover up” to President Nixon’s Watergate scandal, many from the political center to the left are laughing it off as another conservative attempt at playing politics.

Boston Marathon Bombings

Second Boston Marathon suspect now in custody: Summary

Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokar Tsarnaev in ambulance after being taken into custody

Daily Kos

A brief summary of today’s events for those who were unable to follow them throughout the day. Here’s hoping this wraps up a truly monstrous week.

  • After a shootout with police that left Tamerlan Tsarnaev (“Suspect 1”) dead last evening, today began with a street-to-street search for the remaining suspect in Watertown and a stay-indoors order in place for all of Boston.
  • A hero: Jeff Bauman lost both legs in the bombing, as was evidenced by several of the most grisly post-bombing pictures. After waking up in the hospital, however, he was still able to deliver crucial information to the FBI:

    “He woke up under so much drugs, asked for a paper and pen and wrote, ‘bag, saw the guy, looked right at me,’” [his brother] Chris Bauman said yesterday in an interview.

    Bauman was able to give a description of the man, allowing investigators to narrow their focus. He is also facing major medical needs, and his friends have set up a a fundraiser for those expenses: you can contribute here.

  • Late today, the FBI confirmed that the older brother, Tamerian, had been interviewed two years ago. According to CBS, the interview was done “at the request of a foreign country about possible extremist ties“, but no such ties were found.
  • By the afternoon, the trail had seemingly gone cold. Police lifted the stay-indoors order at slightly after 6 PM local time; less than an hour later, a call to police from an alert resident reporting blood in or near a backyard boat led to an immediate police response and another shootout.
  • The suspect was soon confirmed to be Dzhokar Tsarnaev, hiding in the boat. After an extended standoff, he was captured alive this evening and transported to a nearby hospital, where he is reported in “serious” condition.
  • In remarks late this evening, President Obama pledged: “We will determine how this happened. We will investigate any associations that these terrorists may have had.”

This story is far from over, of course. But both main suspects have now been accounted for.