Thursday, February 11, 2016

Why Twitter Should Ban Donald Trump: Part 2 Perverted Twitter Justice

Before I get to 2016 candidate Donald Trump, who former Florida Governor Jeb Bush famously accused of trying to "insult [his] way to the presidency" during a televised Republican debate in 2015, I needed to provide some background about a few of the things that have been done to to me for the last four and a half years, which I wrote about in "Why Twitter Should Ban Donald Trump: Part 1 #OpKillTroll". But if you just want to read about Twitter's new campaign to stop bullying, and how I believe it should be used to ban a name-calling, abusive billionaire - who is shockingly, a top presidential contender leading many GOP polls - for helping to make it an anti-social network, you'll have to wait a day or two. However, I think it's best if you read the whole thing since it shows an example of victimization and Twitter's neglect in enforcing its own rules, perhaps because it hired the wrong person to help lead its Trust and Safety department.

For years, Twitter has done little to stop abusive trolling by bigots, sociopaths and alleged "satirists", even though they clearly break "terms of service" (also know as TOS). Now, since their stock is plummeting and they are losing money, Twitter claims to be taking it seriously, and will put a stop to online harassment.

But it's not just anonymous, cowardly, racist trolls who deserve to be banned. Some members of the hacktivist group Anonymous have used Twitter to dox critics and "enemies" for years. Doxing is a term that is often misused to refer to the outing of people who hide their identities, but it's actually more about posting addresses, phone numbers and private information such as social security numbers. The largest Anonymous Twitter account, @YourAnonNews, has been allowed to dox critics, police officers, and, even, some journalists for years.

This article isn't an attempt to demonize all of Anonymous, since I often report on imprisoned US journalist Barrett Brown, who was "embedded" within the group, wrongly raided by the feds in March of 2012, and arrested months later in September, partly because of his anger that an FBI agent was threatening to arrest his mother. Barrett Brown even recently won a National Magazine Award for The Intercept, while in solitary confinement. This keeps happening after he gives press interviews, and the media doesn't give him enough coverage, as he finishes a five-year sentence, even though he never hacked anyone.

"Prison officials informed him that he was being 'segregated' for 'information-gathering purposes,'" the Free Barrett website notes. "For the first three days in the SHU, Barrett was deprived of his daily antidepressant medication."

As a whole, Anonymous has done - and probably will continue to do - some great things, but doxing is a controversial issue that many members are against.

Some members of Anonymous dox families of their victims - who are sometimes horrible people who commit horrible deeds, as well - and there's a journalist named Lorraine Murphy aka "Raincoaster", who approves of this practice. In January of 2013, I got Murphy's editors at The Daily Dot to remove a link to a dox which included family members of girls who tortured a cat in an online video from her article. "Update: Out of respect for the relatives unintentionally affected, the Daily Dot has removed the link to the Pastebin document Anonymous released," was added in a note added to the bottom of Murphy's story. She even linked to my dox at her tumblr account, and often tweets it, when I notify her about mistakes or offensive sections in her articles, that are sometimes based on hoaxes spread by trolls or celebrate trolling as a modern artform.

I also don't want to demonize all trolls. Some trolls are just out to have fun, mock conventions, or make political statements. Others cross the line and are hateful bigots that get off on tormenting people.

Perverted Twitter Justice

Twitter's Vice President of Safety and Trust, @Delbius, uses the name Del Harvey, when her actual name appears to be Alison Shea.

According to her Twitter profile, "Del Harvey is best known for her contribution to the investigations on NBC Dateline’s popular 'To Catch a Predator' series. As a member of the online watchdog group 'Perverted Justice,' Del has helped bring countless sexual predators and pedophiles to justice. In the series, Del is often seen utilizing her small frame to act as a decoy (an adult pretending to be a young boy or girl)."

However, there doesn't seem to be verifiable evidence that Harvey "helped bring countless sexual predators and pedophiles to justice" (just the number of arrests are mentioned in countless media articles, but countless cases might have been thrown out of court) and, in fact, she and her former "Perverted Justice" colleagues have been accused of making false accusations and derailing the prosecution of suspects who may be guilty of such horrible crimes. She also made an obscene fortune doing this "work", and since Anonymous often targets alleged sexual predators and pedophiles in a vigilante manner, that might be why Twitter doesn't ban Anon accounts when they break T.O.S. with doxes of suspects and their families. Notorious "Iron Troll" Neal Rauhauser often games Twitter into banning critics of his cyber-bullying, while his account, his countless socks and fellow trolls are hardly ever even suspended. Some of Rauhauser's critics are bullies, too, but none come close to him, since he routinely uses trolls to post social security numbers and make death threats, because he delusionally calls himself the "Principal Investigator at The Internet".

A critique of the "Perverted Justice" forum written by a Yale graduate student in 2008 sounds very similar to what Del Harvey allows accounts like @YourAnonNews to do on Twitter. Michael Seringhaus said that he, "was dismayed to find sandbox rhetoric and perhaps the most petulant FAQ section online today. Click the question 'How is this a crime? There was no actual minor!' and you are treated to a meandering hypothetical response, which begins: 'Such a stupid statement. If you’re reading this and you’ve uttered this at any point of your life, feel free to smack yourself for ignorance right now.' They also caution that they’re very powerful and well connected, and that 'threatening us is a very, very bad idea.'"

And "Perverted Justice" volunteers practice a dangerous form of doxing, as Seringhaus observed, "Interestingly, Dateline busts are just a fraction of the group’s activities. Their main trade appears to be independent baiting expeditions in chat rooms followed by extensive online information gathering and 'outing' of targets on the Web. This might include posting the street address, telephone number and other details about a mark in an online forum. Such information could then be used to humiliate and harass the individual and their family."

"One might argue that pedophiles and 'predators' deserve such punishment, but even so it is hardly the place of pseudonym-sporting civilians to dole it out," Seringhaus wrote. And I'll add, that it's shouldn't be the "place of psudonym-sporting" kids in a group known for wearing masks based on a terrorist from a popular movie "to dole it out" either.

A comment that Harvey made during a October, 2015 roundtable, sounds like she is in line with Anonymous and is more concerned with privacy issues and what foreign governments might do to activists, instead of the "safety" that she's supposed to be in charge of: "Yes. Twitter recently introduced a couple of different identification paths for accounts. We wanted to make sure that we weren’t unduly putting people at risk. For example, we made sure that if you couldn’t provide a phone number, there were other options. Because outside the US, if the telecom is directly connected with the government, a phone number can lead the authorities to someone who’s an activist or a dissident or a whistle-blower."

On April 7, 2011, Gawker published a story by John Cook called "How the Weirdos Behind 'To Catch a Predator' Blew $1.2 Million". "Remember 'To Catch a Predator,' the awful festival of horror and shame from Dateline NBC that briefly captured America's heart in the mid-aughts?," Cook wrote. "We thought we'd check in with the creepy internet vigilantes behind it, and guess what? They're broke."

Cook noted "that one of the caught predators shot himself in the head while NBC News cameras waited outside his home, and people started to wonder whether reveling in the sickness and criminality of damaged people whose crimes were hypothetical and who wouldn't have even been there if NBC hadn't lured them there was really such a good idea," so, "[t]he network pulled the plug in 2008."

The fact that Harvey's show led to a suicide is probably why she was an awful choice to head Twitter's "Safety" team. Some think the Texan prosecutor might have been innocent, while others believe even if he was guilty, NBC and "Perverted Justice" helped act as his judge, jury and executioner. As ABC News correspondent Marcus Baram noted on June 4, 2007, "To this day, none of the 23 arrested in the sting operation have been successfully prosecuted due to insufficient evidence, according to the Collin County assistant district attorney's office." On June 24, 2008, Vic Walter and Maddy Sauer reported for ABC NEWS, "NBC has settled a lawsuit that blamed the network for the suicide of a Texas prosecutor who was targeted in an undercover sting against alleged pedophiles as part of the Dateline: To Catch a Predator show."

"The attorney for Conradt's sister, Bruce Baron, told that 'the matter has been amicably resolved to the satisfaction of both parties,'" Walter and Sauer wrote. "Patricia Conradt had initially sued for $109 million. The amount of the settlement has not been disclosed."

On September 29, 2004, the Associated Press reported, "It's a website created to expose suspected Internet predators. But the site could be targeting innocent people, as a Milwaukee bank teller found out. Molly Brady got a threatening call from a man who said her phone number was posted on the website as a sexual predator. So, Brady typed her phone number into an Internet search engine and found it was linked to a site called 'perverted justice.'"

"The FBI in Milwaukee says it's familiar with the citizen websites, which can do more harm than good, since some of the predators could be violent individuals," the AP article added.

The New York Times - in a December 13, 2006 article by Allen Salkin - reported that, "the group is also criticized by some legal and law enforcement experts, who accuse it of entrapment, making mistakes that ruin innocent lives and, paradoxically, disseminating its own brand of child pornography."

"One concern about Perverted Justice's nonprofessional force of vigilantes, raised by Lieutenant Joseph Donohue, head of the New York State Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force, is that decoys impersonating teenagers may be too aggressive, not understanding the need to let the other party initiate the sexual chat, and therefore not gathering chat-log evidence that will stand up in court," the Times article added.

In his 2011 Gawker article, Cook reported "Perverted Justice" secretary Allison Shea was paid $120,000 a year, after the NBC deal, and its "Foundation" that set its goals on "'promot[ing] internet safety' and helping cops 'apprehend internet based sexual predators'" ended up "spen[ding] more than $1,202,739 from 2006 to 2009 in pursuit of its tax-exempt goals. Of that, an astonishing 82% — $984,233 — went to salaries. Almost all of it — $783,000 — went to [founder Phillip John Eide aka 'Xavier] Von Erck,' [treasurer Dennis] Kerr, and Shea."

"Rather than use the money to build a long-lasting institution that might help people — or at least spark more pedophile suicides - ['Von Erck'] blew through it, and now he's got about ten grand left," Cook added.

In a July 2, 2014, Forbes article on Shea, Kashmir Hill reported that she "was the 25th employee at Twitter", and wrote, "Not listening to Harvey tends to be a bad idea. Last December Twitter decided to eliminate users’ ability to 'block' people they didn’t like from following and retweeting their accounts, replacing it with a mute option so they simply wouldn’t see the trolls in their feed. Harvey warned it was a terrible idea and would make cyberbullying easier. The blocking feature was pulled anyway, and the ensuing outcry was such that Twitter reversed the decision within 12 hours. It later tacked on the mute button as an option."

However, neither the block or the mute button do anything to make cyberbullying "tougher". They are just features to allow cyberbullies to maintain their accounts, and the 'block' feature is often used against victims, so that they can't show their Twitter followers the cyberbullying committed against them. Just because you can't see the cyberbullying on your timeline doesn't make it magically vanish from the Internet, and tweets show up prominently high in Google searches, which could affect the decisions of prospective landlords or employers.

"Harvey has an unusual background for someone with so much power over public speech," Hill wrote. "She isn’t a lawyer and won’t say if she graduated from college." Hill noted that at "Perverted Justice", Shea "eventually became the site’s law enforcement liaison, bundling up evidence for local police, and later, thanks to being small of frame, reprised her young-girl (and boy) decoy role on the NBC show To Catch a Predator."

Hill adds, "She advised Twitter to scrub location data from uploaded photos to prevent stalkers from using them to locate people."

However, this feature also prevents victims from using location data to find their stalkers, which Hill doesn't note.

During Harvey's reign, "Twitter [didn’t] allow threats but relies on its community to flag them for removal and report them to the police. While Twitter has automated systems to weed out spam, tweets about direct violence and suicide require manual review." In other words, for years, Harvey essentially relied on vigilante justice instead of doing anything about it herself.

Why Twitter Should Ban Donald Trump: Part 1 #OpKillTroll

Before I get to 2016 candidate Donald Trump, who former Florida Governor Jeb Bush famously accused of trying to "insult [his] way to the presidency" during a televised Republican debate in 2015, I need to provide some background about a few of the things that have been done to to me for the last four and a half years.

Feel free to jump to "Why Twitter Should Ban Donald Trump: Part 2 Perverted Twitter Justice", if you'd rather just read about Del Harvey's 'Perverted Justice' and 'To Catch a Predator' past, and what she has done as director, and, now, Vice President of Twitter's Trust and Safety. But if you just want to read about Twitter's new campaign to stop bullying, and how I believe it should be used to ban a name-calling, abusive billionaire - who is shockingly, a top presidential contender leading many GOP polls - for helping to make it an anti-social network, you'll have to wait until next week. However, I think it's best if you read the whole thing since it shows an example of victimization and Twitter's neglect in enforcing its own rules, perhaps because it hired the wrong person to help lead its Trust and Safety department.

For years, Twitter has done little to stop abusive trolling by bigots, sociopaths and alleged "satirists", even though they clearly break "terms of service" (also know as TOS). Now, since their stock is plummeting and they are losing money, Twitter claims to be taking it seriously, and will put a stop to online harassment.

But it's not just anonymous, cowardly, racist trolls who deserve to be banned. Some members of the hacktivist group Anonymous have used Twitter to dox critics and "enemies" for years. Doxing is a term that is often misused to refer to the outing of people who hide their identities, but it's actually more about posting addresses, phone numbers and private information such as social security numbers. The largest Anonymous Twitter account, @YourAnonNews, has been allowed to dox critics, police officers, and, even, some journalists for years.

This article isn't an attempt to demonize all of Anonymous, since I often report on imprisoned US journalist Barrett Brown, who was "embedded" within the group, wrongly raided by the feds in March of 2012, and arrested months later in September, partly because of his anger that an FBI agent was threatening to arrest his mother. Barrett Brown even recently won a National Magazine Award for The Intercept, while in solitary confinement. This keeps happening after he gives press interviews, and the media doesn't give him enough coverage, as he finishes a five-year sentence, even though he never hacked anyone.

"Prison officials informed him that he was being 'segregated' for 'information-gathering purposes,'" the Free Barrett website notes. "For the first three days in the SHU, Barrett was deprived of his daily antidepressant medication."

As a whole, Anonymous has done - and probably will continue to do - some great things, but doxing is a controversial issue that many members are against.

Some members of Anonymous dox families of their victims - who are sometimes horrible people who commit horrible deeds, as well - and there's a journalist named Lorraine Murphy aka "Raincoaster", who approves of this practice. In January of 2013, I got Murphy's editors at The Daily Dot to remove a link to a dox which included family members of girls who tortured a cat in an online video from her article. "Update: Out of respect for the relatives unintentionally affected, the Daily Dot has removed the link to the Pastebin document Anonymous released," was added in a note added to the bottom of Murphy's story. She even linked to my dox at her tumblr account, and often tweets it, when I notify her about mistakes or offensive sections in her articles, that are sometimes based on hoaxes spread by trolls or celebrate trolling as a modern artform.

I also don't want to demonize all trolls. Some trolls are just out to have fun, mock conventions, or make political statements. Others cross the line and are hateful bigots that get off on tormenting people.


In late 2012, after journalist Barrett Brown was arrested, I was harassed by members of Anonymous who were misled into believing that I had something to do with it. The group mounted an operation against me called "OpKillTroll", and @YourAnonNews tweeted it to over a million-and-a-half followers. It linked to a dox on me which included old addresses, phone numbers, and many lies, and it's essentially ruined my life, because I have to live in fear that some crazy person might recognize me in real life, and take the word "kill" literally. Not one media outlet has ever reported on this, yet I'm the only journalist Anonymous ever asked its followers to "kill".

Many other Anonymous related accounts quickly retweeted and favorited the #OpKillTroll tweet, but Twitter ignored nearly all my complaints, and only briefly suspended one account for a few hours for tweeting about it.

Anon2Earth, who was featured in Brian Knappenberger's acclaimed 2012 documentary "We Are Legion: The Story of the Hacktivists", was the source of the dox, and admitted to posting it on the @YourAnonNews account. Twitter Safety and Trust refused to even contact @YourAnonNews to get them to delete the tweet even though I sent them many emails and registered complaints about it. Before he posted the dox, I tried to reason with Anon2Earth, and told him that I was working to help free Barrett Brown, and some of his friends confirmed it. But he refused to listen, and sent me threatening tweets, warning me how much "power" he had to menace me on Twitter.

While he menaced me on Twitter, Lorraine Murphy aka @Raincoaster followed me on Twitter, and I sent her some Direct Messages, mostly asking if she approved of families of journalists being included in doxes, which she didn't admit until months later.

At her website, Lorraine Murphy wrote, "At that point I surprised Ron by going rogue: I publicly RT’d some of what he’d been saying to me, with 'lol' remarks appended. He appeared taken aback entirely, although this is really a very basic Internet Drama 202 move. If you thought he was a mite touchy before, fasten your seatbelt." The next day, Raincoaster updated her blogpost, which contained some of the Direct Messages that I had sent her. She gleefully blogged, "Well, would you look at that. He HAS been doxed."

In a comment, Murphy triumphantly wrote, "Now the whole world has his address and phone number." Another comment by Murphy bragged, "When I had the time, I was quite the troll, and I’ve been paid as a consultant on internet drama many times. He did not know who he was messing with."

On May 3, 2013, Raincoaster refused to update her blogpost, after I told her the dox she had linked to included many lies and disinfo about me, and falsely linked me to social network accounts and email addresses that had nothing to do with me. In response, she demanded money to edit her post. "You want me to edit it, you pay me," Lorraine Murphy tweeted.

I complained to Murphy's editors about her blackmail threat, when I wrote to alert them about her article at the Daily Dot, which linked to a dox that included family members. They apologized to me, but kept her on staff until she allegedly quit over a dispute about a correction added to another of her articles. Last December, Vanity Fair published a story written by Lorraine Murphy, which contained a few mistakes, such as referring to a notorious troll as a hacker, and linked to explicit gay pornography. When I tweeted Vanity Fair and Raincoaster about it, she responded by tweeting a link to her blogpost cheering the dox on me.

The satirical website Encyclopedia Dramatica - which appears to have pop-up ads that infect computers with viruses - has an entry on me, which includes a confession by Anon2Earth, "I warned him to back off or I would drop his dox, and it wouldn't be just a small portion of people who would see it - but a lot of people. He mistook what I stated as some kind of 'powerplay,' saying that I was telling him how 'powerful' I was. I don't do drama much, I was tired of playing and dropped his shit on my account and Your Anon News. He freaked, and didn't understand that I had the access to tweet from YAN; and stated something about why he didn't understand why Anonymous (especially YAN) would support me. I still don't think he quite comprehends what exactly happened to him."

Over two years after it was posted, on December 12, 2014, Anon2Earth finally deleted the #OpKillTroll tweet from @YourAnonNews, and tweeted, "@ronbryn greetings, that was an old tweet - I removed it; apologies it that it was still up. @apblake @dellcam @YourAnonNews @paulcarr." Neal Rauhauser had misled Anon2Earth into believing that I had something to do with his arrest, so I forgave Anon2Earth and asked him to tweet a message to the ACLU to try and get them to help Barrett Brown. But the ACLU never helped Brown or even responded to tweets, even though they have helped in many related cases. The ACLU Texas chapter reportedly told Brown's family that they didn't have enough people to help, but the national ACLU, as far as I know, never got involved.

Even though I've been one of the major critics of bullying and trolling on Twitter since I was menaced in the summer of 2011, after I worked on an article with The New York Times called "Fake Identities Were Used on Twitter in Effort to Get Information on Weiner", I've been smeared as a troll. There's even a satirical (and actually kind of funny) video on YouTube called "The RonBryn Song", which pretends that I'm a troll, because I've lost my temper more than a few times, since Twitter is very selective on who it chooses to suspend or ban, when it comes to cyber-bullying.

As I learned, when you're being menaced around-the-clock by trolls that disguise their identities, it's hard to sleep, and you develop a sort of post traumatic stress disorder, which causes you to lose your temper more often than you normally would, and even makes you so paranoid, that you wonder if coincidences or bad luck in real life are related to the online harassment. I also made a lot of tweets, that I'm not proud of, and wrote a few weird stories in 2011, after being stalked and harassed, and that is exactly what trolls want you to do. They create convolution and hope to make it seem like you are the villain, and that they are the heroes who bully you to scare you off the Internet. Many trolls hope to get you falsely arrested or driven mad; some sociopathic trolls even hope you commit suicide or die from heart attacks, and they will continue to mock their prey, even after they're dead.

I worked on that New York Times story with Jennifer Preston, who said that she would see if I could get paid for providing, literally, hundreds of hours of research on that article, and others that we planned that she mysteriously never wrote. And a few days after publication, she asked me to publicly defend the article on Twitter from a Deputy District Attorney in California, Patrick Frey, who is a noted conservative blogger called "Patterico" and many anonymous trolls that were harassing her over it. But as soon as I did, I was instead targeted by Frey and his libertarian-leaning posse, and - at the same time - by a Democratic operative that wrote weird conspiracy theories about Weinergate. He also blamed Patterico for being the source of the still-unknown trolls that pretended to be teenage girls to get info on former Congressman Anthony Weiner, who resigned after admitting he lied about sexting and being hacked on Twitter and Facebook. Even though I later learned that Preston met with this oddball Democratic operative during Operation Wall Street in the fall of 2011, she claimed he was "dangerous" in a Direct Message she sent me in June of 2011, but never explained.

On July 29, 2011, the "dangerous" cyber-harasser - who often brags about being an "Iron Troll" - named Neal Rauhauser wrote a diary using his alias "Stranded Wind" at the Democratic website Daily Kos called, "Ethical Dilemma: Harassed By A Confused Man", as I noted in an article I published in September of that same year.

Rauhauser pretended that semi-threats on my life and against my family he tweeted to me, immediately after I publicly defended Preston, were just his way to try to "help" me. But this is what Rauhauser does. He uses sock accounts to harass critics and imagined "enemies", while claiming that he is a victim, and never does anything wrong.

"I publicly suggested on Twitter that he needed to go talk to a friend or family member about what he was experiencing, and he took this to be me threatening his family," Rauhauser wrote. "Nothing could be further from the truth and I stand by my suggestion: when it’s hard to tell what is going on it is best to seek outside advice."

Rauhauser ominously added, "That sort of outside advice is what I am seeking here. If this were some random annoying and/or dangerous right winger like Patrick Read or Patterico I’d put a bunch of his information in this diary so people could go find and torment him. If I were being truly evil I could even send a link to the diary to those rascally beandogs, who are the internet equivalent of a painful rash when they take an interest in someone."

The diary was mysteriously scrubbed (and can't even be found at archived links), even though Rauhauser was banned from Daily Kos hours after publishing it. And I was unfairly banned, too, for defending myself against the awful lies that Rauhauser used to get liberals to turn against me and conservatives to falsely accuse me of crimes, even though I was the Executive Editor of the left-leaning (but fair, when I ran it) political news website RAW STORY, and had recently done a story with David Corn published at Mother Jones based on WikiLeaks documents. I reported Rauhauser to the FBI for that diary, that same night, but they never got back to me, and the self-professed "Iron Troll" continues to "torment" me with trolls he recruits with ease, and many, many others that he targets, often for political reasons.

Also, bizarrely, even though it was obvious I was being victimized and tarnished by Neal, Patterico hatched an insane theory that I was in some kind of "terroristic" conspiracy with Rauhauser and convicted bomber Brett Kimberlin. Frey falsely accused me of making a bogus 911 call to get the police to "SWAT" him, which is a dangerous crime, and he knows I am innocent since I was on the phone with him while it happened, and couldn't have possibly committed it. Frey even used Twitter to harass me because I refused to talk to him on the phone, which appears to violate one of the California laws that he's sworn to defend. Since he falsely accused me of committing a crime, it sure is odd that Frey didn't just step back and let law enforcement officials investigate me, and it's even odder that L.A. County never fired him, even though he has bullied and menaced many people over the years.

Now, Patterico spends nearly every evening using Twitter to bash conservatives who don't want to vote for the candidate he supports, Ted Cruz, while he fends off a lawsuit from Kimberlin, after a judge agreed that Frey might be guilty of abusing his office to smear people over SWATtings. Each side in that lawsuit goes out of its way to not mention me in their filings, even though the only dubious link to Kimberlin is that I am the culprit, and the notorious hoaxer and convicted bomber has strange ties to my former boss at RAW STORY, John Byrne. The main reason I'm not named is that both sides know I will tell the truth, and damage both of their positions, since they are equally guilty of bullying and cyber - and "in real life" (aka irl) - harassment.

It's hard to find a job or an apartment when you're smeared as a troll and criminal on the Internet. At least fifty journalists claimed that they would write stories about this non-stop harassment, but not one ever has, and even though I break stories every week at this blog, most of them are largely ignored, because I've been blacklisted by liberals and conservatives. I'm also a tough press critic, and there are at least a hundred articles at nearly every media outlet that have corrections, based on my reporting or complaints. Journalism is extremely partisan these days, and since I report on both sides fairly, it's tough to find work for that reason, too. Also, sometimes I've gotten mad when I've been "exploited" or plagiarized by unscrupulous journalists, and that's used as an excuse to ignore my fair reporting, which is backed up by links, rather than just based on sources that lie.

On December 19, 2015, after I asked Lorraine Murphy on Twitter if she constantly links to my dox hoping I'm SWATted, and asked her if she really thinks that's not menacing, Raincoaster responded, "I couldn't wish you any worse fate."

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Hillary Clinton's former Assistant Secretary of State for Legislative Affairs David S. Adams may have used private email address

An email released by the State Department on January 29, 2016 appears to indicate that David S. Adams - who was appointed Assistant Secretary of State for Legislative Affairs of the United States Department of State from August 4, 2011 to June 18, 2013 - may have used a private email address while serving under Hillary Clinton.

Although at times she used a private email account, in her final days as Counselor of the US Department of State and Chief of Staff to the Secretary of State, Cheryl Mills sent an email from her government email address to her fellow "Dream Team" associates, which included former Assistant Secretary of State for Legislative Affairs Richard Verma, who was then on Hillary Clinton's Foreign Affairs Policy Board at the same time he worked for international law firm Steptoe & Johnson, and Miguel Rodriguez, former Chief Counsel and Legislative Director for Clinton, when she was a Democratic New York senator.

Another email in the chain was sent by Rodriguez, who is currently an attorney for Bryan Cave, where he now represents Huma Abedin, the vice chairwoman for Hillary Clinton's 2016 campaign for president and her former deputy chief of staff. Abedin is under fire for using an email address on the former Secretary of State's private server for government business while working at the State Department. Former Congressman Anthony Weiner's wife - who famously "stood by her man" after he embarrassingly resigned after lying about being hacked to cover up a sexting scandal - may face charges if she sent classified documents or info to Clinton, and she is also being investigated for alleged "embezzlement", according to an Inspector General's report. Rodriguez was also added to a 'Super PAC' "seeking eight-figure checks" for Clinton's presidential bid, as I reported on August 1, 2015.

"But Rodriguez brings some personal baggage to his role as Abedin’s counsel, as first noted by blogger Ron Brynaert," Patrick Howley wrote for Breitbart News on September 28, 2015. "Before joining Bryan Cave, Rodriguez served as deputy assistant secretary at Hillary Clinton’s State Department; then he was President Obama’s legislative director, where he became a 'point person' on the administration’s Benghazi response."

The exact email address for the fourth "Dream Team" member appears to belong to David S. Adams, but was redacted by the State Department, and his name doesn't appear in any of the three emails. A Google search for "cripplecreek61" reveals that it's also the name of the Twitter account that's associated to a user named David S. Adams, which was started in August of 2013. No tweets have ever been sent by @Cripplecreek61, but it follows Clinton, the State Department, the White House, a few media outlets and other government agencies. Adams was born in 1961, and he may have named his email address after the 1969 song, "Up On Cripple Creek" by The Band.

"Thank you all - for today, the last months, for four years of impeccable support and stewardship," Mills wrote. "You have always been ground zero for what she was able to do on the hill - yesterday and the past four years are a testament to your work, love and support."

Mills added, "Miguel was there representing all of you today - and it was like having you all in the room."

The email was sent on January 24, 2013 at nearly 3 A.M., and appears to be referring to Hillary Clinton's first testimony to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee regarding the Benghazi attacks, earlier that day. Mills sat right next to Clinton as she testified in the morning and afternoon that Wednesday.

Rodriguez was being promoted to a higher position at the White House that week, while Clinton, Mills, Verma and Adams were leaving the State Department in 2013. "S" appears to be a reference to the former State Secretary.

"I'm hardly qualified to be the spokesman for this group, but it's been a tremendous four years," Rodriguez wrote Mills, Verma and, apparently, Adams. "Top to bottom, I think everyone can be proud."

He continued, "I've said it many times before but it's worth repeating -- most principals rely on staff to prop them up so they can look good. S is the rare person where the converse is true -- she lifts us all up and makes us all look good."

"Nice from miguel re what you do for all," Mills added, in a note to Clinton, who she forwarded the chain to a few hours later, at nearly 5:30 AM.

After leaving the State Department, Adams landed a job with Global Solutions, a lobbying firm owned by President Barack Obama adviser Anthony Podesta, whose brother is John Podesta, Chief of Staff for former President Bill Clinton and who also served as the current president's transition chief. Anthony Podesta worked on Bill Clinton's campaign, and as the Washington Post reported last July, bundled $74,575 for Hillary Clinton's current presidential campaign.

According, to his biography at Global Solutions, "Over the course of his career, David has served as a trusted adviser to both congressional leadership and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and earned the respect of the decision-makers who matter most. A tested negotiator, he has been instrumental in some of the most significant foreign affairs debates of the past decade and his understanding of the Obama administration’s foreign policy agenda is far-reaching. As Assistant Secretary of State for Legislative Affairs, David was the chief legislative adviser to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and was instrumental in facilitating the Iran Threat Reduction and Syria Human Rights Act of 2012, civil nuclear cooperation agreements with Russia and Australia and the successful confirmation of 122 nominees. Previously, as Deputy Assistant Secretary for House Affairs, he was also key to the development of the Comprehensive Iran Sanctions, Accountability, and Divestment Act of 2010, as well as approval of major arms sales to Saudi Arabia and Iraq and a civil nuclear cooperation agreement with the United Arab Emirates."

Earlier today, I sent an email to Mr. Adams, but I haven't heard back from him, yet. I asked him the following questions: "Can you please confirm that 'cripplecreek61' is or was your private email address? Were you using the Clinton email server or another personal one? Did you use this email address frequently while serving as the Assistant Secretary of State for Legislative Affairs of the United States Department of State? Did you use this email address on any official business in emails to Hillary Clinton or anyone else in the government? And when exactly did you leave your State Department position in 2013?"

Sunday, January 31, 2016

Former Inspector General accusing Hillary Clinton of lying quit State Dept. after being accused of lying and interfering with Blackwater probe

"The State Department is lying when it says it didn’t know until it was too late that Hillary Clinton was improperly using personal e-mails and a private server to conduct official business — because it never set up an agency e-mail address for her in the first place, the department’s former top watchdog says," Paul Sperry reported for the NY Post earlier today. However, the article fails to mention that Howard J. Krongard, who was the chief of the Office of the Inspector General of the Department of State, resigned after being "accused of improperly interfering with investigations into private security contractor Blackwater USA and with other probes," as the LA Times reported in December of 2008.

“'This was all planned in advance' to skirt rules governing federal records management, said Howard J. Krongard, who served as the agency’s inspector general from 2005 to 2008," Sunday's NY Post article continued. "He also points to the unusual absence of a permanent inspector general during Clinton’s entire 2009-2013 term at the department. He said the 5¹/₂-year vacancy was unprecedented."

Krongard added, "This is a major gap. In fact, it’s without precedent. It’s the longest period any department has gone without an IG."

On December 8, 2008, Paul Richter noted in his LA Times article, "Krongard, 66, has been accused by current and former members of his staff and by congressional Democrats of thwarting investigations of waste and fraud in Iraq. Among those are allegations of arms smuggling by Blackwater, the North Carolina-based security contractor that protects U.S. diplomats in Iraq and has been accused of using excessive force against Iraqi civilians."

"I am writing to you about an exceptionally serious matter: reports that your senior staff has threatened officials that you could fire them if they cooperate with the Committee's investigation into your conduct," Democratic Rep. Henry A. Waxman, who chaired the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee wrote in a letter (pdf link) sent to Krongard on November 11, 2007.

Waxman added that in an earlier letter he had "described allegations from seven officials in your office that you interfered with on-going investigations in order to protect the State Department and the White House from political embarrassment." He added that "John A. DeDona, the former Assistant Inspector General for investigations and Ralph McNamara, the former Deputy Assistant Inspector General for Investigations" said "that they had resigned after you repeatedly halted or impeded investigations undertaken by their office. This week, several current employees in your office - including two who have agreed to go on the record - informed the Committee that your senior staff attempted to coerce them not to cooperate with the Committee's inquiry and threatened their jobs and careers."

A year before resigning - which created "the gap" that the former IG chief appointed by former Republican President George W. Bush complained to the New York Post about on Sunday - Krongard "removed himself from investigations involving security contractor Blackwater Worldwide on Wednesday after admitting his brother serves on the company's advisory board," as Matt Kelley reported for USA Today on November 14, 2007.
"State Department Inspector General Howard Krongard first told the House Oversight Committee that his brother, former CIA executive director Alvin "Buzzy" Krongard, has no connections to Blackwater, which is being investigated by the FBI for a September shootout in Baghdad that left 17 Iraqis dead. After a break, however, Krongard said he had called his brother, who confirmed taking a seat on the Blackwater board and attending its first meetings this week.

'I'm not my brother's keeper, and we don't discuss our business with each other,' Krongard said.

The abrupt about-face stoked accusations from Democrats on the committee that Krongard was not credible when he denied subordinates' accusations of interfering with Justice Department investigations of Blackwater and other State Department contractors.
Even though Krongard may be right about the State Department and/or former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton "lying" or deliberately misleading about the current scandal, the New York Post was wrong not to note in their exclusive that he left his position under scandal after being accused of lying himself.

Friday, January 29, 2016

Anthony Weiner claimed his wife, longtime Hillary Clinton aide Huma Abedin, didn't turn over any emails last September

Many media outlets reported that the vice chair for former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign turned over approximately 23,000 emails in September of 2015, belatedly, after a federal judge demanded it.

"Huma Abedin, former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton’s close personal aide, has turned over 6,714 emails, and 2,533 pages of documents in printed and electronic form, the Obama administration said in a court filing late Friday," Stephen Dinan reported for The Washington Times on September 11, 2015. And on September 19, Dinan reported, "Huma Abedin turned over an estimated 23,000 pages of emails, Philippe Reines gave back 70,000 pages of messages and Cheryl Mills returned somewhere in the neighborhood of 11,870 pages, the Obama administration told Judge Rudolph Contreras in a court filing."

However, according to Anthony Weiner - the Democratic Congressman who infamously resigned from Congress in 2011 after lying about being hacked to cover-up his sexting with multiple women - his wife, former deputy chief of staff Huma Abedin didn't turn over any emails last September. Weiner said the emails that all media outlets reported were released by Abedin's lawyer actually came from the State Department, and were part of the original batch of 30,000 pages that former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton turned over in December of 2014. Weiner told me this during a contentious interview I had with him in a hotel bar last October. The 2013 NYC mayoral candidate lost that race after another woman revealed that he had recently sexted her, and he got into a nasty argument with an angry voter in a video that went viral.

In response to Weiner's claims, Michael Bekesha, the Senior Attorney at Judicial Watch, a conservative-leaning "public interest group that investigates and prosecutes government corruption", and has filed over 20 Freedom of Information Act requests related to the Clinton Emails scandal told me in October, "The emails we got are from the government, not directly from the Abedin Camp. We're supposed to get those emails soon, but didn't get any yet."

When asked about metadata which might specifically show where the emails came from, Judicial Watch's Director of Public Affairs Jill Farrell said that "the paper is insufficient." She added that it's "a mystery" where the emails are coming from, since the State Department and the Clinton campaign often give conflicting responses. Whomever is turning over these emails is acting in a "halfway clever" manner, Farrell charged, and - for all everyone actually knows - they "could be coming from Santa Claus."

Weiner - who requested to be anonymous, but lied to my face about other issues, which broke a confidentiality agreement that he had agreed upon - said that it was impossible for Huma Abedin to turn over emails in September, since she no longer had access to the Clinton email server.

As I reported last October I warned Weiner on September 24, 2015, that "unlike other journos....I know that everyone lies and I trust my head and research more than sources..and if I'm lied to or someone leaks something i say or screws me over publicly, the confidentiality is off...but ill give you a chance to respond." On September 28, Weiner said, "[w]e have agreed on rules."

"I made a mistake," Weiner complained in a Direct Message he sent to me after the October 2nd, 2015 hotel bar interview. "I treated you like a reporter who wanted to ask a source questions while respecting a common agreement on what was on the record. In both instances I was wrong and I regret my error."

The relationship between President Barack Obama and his former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton - and their respective camps - has been a curious one, since they hit each other pretty harshly during the 2008 Democratic primary race bidding for the presidential nomination. On September 27, 2015, Hillary Clinton complained to CNN about the "drip-drip-drip" of the release of her emails by the State Department, and many journalists - on the left and right - theorized that the White House was exploiting the scandal so that Vice President Joe Biden could enter the race, if the leading Democratic candidate faltered. Biden decided not to run last October, but Bernie Sanders has been catching up in recent polls, and the email controversy hasn't gone away, and the State Department didn't release all of Clinton's emails that it had agreed to by the end of this month.

In addition, the media rarely reports that the majority of Huma Abedin and Hillary Clinton emails were cc'd or sent to government addresses, and, yet, the State Department failed to send those to journalists, media outlets and watchdog groups that have filed FOIA requests since 2013. And many emails that weren't released to Republican committees probing Benghazi and Huma Abedin's controversial special Government employee (SGE) appointment until 2015 also should have been released by the State Department earlier. Huma Abedin also often cc'd her government address on her emails sent from the private Clinton server, as well.

In a phone interview last October, Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton said, in response to all of the above, that the State Department was being "cagey about where these records" were coming from, and that it was a "mystery."

"They haven't said jack about it," Fitton added, but it's "just slick enough for them to try."

A spokesperson for Citizens United, another conservative organization that has sued the State Department over unfulfilled FOIA requests for emails from Hillary Clinton and some of her former staff members, also told me last fall that Weiner might have been telling the truth, based on what I relayed to him.

However, Huma Abedin's lawyer told the court last year that the emails came directly from his client. Miguel Rodriguez ignored an email I sent him on November 15, 2015, asking, among many other questions, "Also, did you specifically turn over Huma Abedin's emails to State Dept. from Huma Abedin as it was reported in September or did those emails come from Clinton?"

Last August, I reported that Rodriguez - who was former Chief Counsel for former New York Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton from 2005 to 2009 and her Legislative Director from 2008 until 2009 - "communicated directly with [her] during her tenure as secretary of state using her personal email address." State Department sources claimed Miguel "Rodriguez emerged as a behind-the-scenes point person" on the Benghazi scandal when classified hearings were held, and in 2015 was added to 'Super PAC' "seeking eight-figure checks" for the 2016 Hillary Clinton presidential campaign, which most media outlets haven't reported since he took on Huma Abedin as a client. Rodriguez also ducked questions on when Abedin hired him, and who was paying for her legal support. "Did you share anything you learned at classified hearings on Benghazi with anyone else?" I asked Rodrigues in another email he ignored last August.

Weiner became extremely angry when I doubted what he told me, yet it seemed possible - at the time - that Abedin couldn't have directly handed over the emails, since she didn't appear to be using that private account anymore. But he also may have been misinformed or out-of-the-loop.

During our interview on October 2nd, 2015, conducted in a hotel bar a few blocks from Union Square in Manhattan, not far from his apartment, Weiner repeatedly screamed at me, ducked questions by asking me multiple questions instead, said I wasn't a journalist because I asked him questions that nearly every US media outlet had reported as facts but he claimed weren't true (such as his requirement to release his personal financial data when he ran for mayor in 2013 and when his wife requested in 2012 to work part-time at the State Department so that she could stay close to home to take care of their new-born child), and jabbed his finger in my face to prevent me from taking notes. Staff members at the bar felt bad about the way that I was treated by the former Congressman, and one told me that "bad things happen to good people." But the bartender Mr. Weiner knew by name and was very friendly with denied hearing or seeing anything and refused comment.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

On publishing the early work of James Foley, the brave journalist brutally murdered by ISIS

On March 27, 2010, when I was the Executive Editor for RAW STORY - a left-leaning political website that fairly reported on both sides, during my reign - I received an email from a journalist named James Foley, who was embedded with US troops in Eastern Afghanistan.

Foley was born in New Hampshire, but he used the word "phoenix" in his email address, because - I presume - before he became a journalist, he "was a teacher through Teach for America at Lowell Elementary School in Phoenix, Arizona from 1996 to 2000" (link).

"Dear editor," Foley wrote. "I was given your email from a colleague, Jeremy Gantz at In These Times."

The email continued, "I'm currently embedded with US troops on a remote combat outpost in Kunar Province of Afghanistan. It's a uniquely interesting place featuring daily Taliban harassing fire, a mostly dysfunctional relationship with the Afghan Army and the efforts of young soldiers to reach out to village elders who don't believe in outside government. Please see my latest reporting on my blog at-"

But if you click on that link, now, you won't go straight to Foley's blog, instead you'll reach the home of the James W. Foley Legacy Foundation, because two years later, that brave freelance journalist was abducted in Syria, and two years after that, on August 19, 2014, he was beheaded by cowardly, hooded ISIS terrorists.

I've never been able to watch the video that was posted of Foley's murder, and I never will. Not long ago, I saw a screenshot on someone's Twitter timeline, and I wish I could unsee it. I don't hold it against anyone else who watches real life snuff videos that terrorists use to spread fear, but it's just something I can't stomach, since I had the honor of editing and publishing some of Foley's early, amazing journalism.

Although I've mentioned that Foley reported for RAW STORY on Twitter, podcasts and a few times on editor's notes for stories I've published regarding ISIS - because I'm obviously biased against them - I resisted writing a story about working with him, because I didn't want to exploit his tragic murder. But I'm writing about this now, because the death of the coward - I won't even name - who beheaded him was finally acknowledged by ISIS, plus a memoir by his mom and a documentary on Foley are on the way, and his heroic and extraordinary reporting for RAW STORY should be recognized, too.

Also, a few days ago, the Obama Administration negotiated for a Washington Post reporter imprisoned in Iran, but Foley's mother was reportedly threatened with arrest if she tried to get her son back, and the media acceded to White House requests to not even report on his two-year captivity. The United States government also reportedly only conducted one - unfortunately - failed raid to rescue James Foley, even though his family claimed they knew where he was being held for nearly a year.

I don't know if Foley was treated differently because he frequently criticized the Obama Administration, while journalists at the Washington Post often shill for the White House. But I do think that their actions are hypocritical, since that wasn't the first time Obama's White House negotiated to rescue Americans, and they should have done all they could do to bring James Foley safely home.

Foley's email continued, "The unit: Able Co. of 2-503, 173rd Airborne out of Vincenza Italy, last profiled by Sebastian Junger in '08 Vanity Fair-".

"This week: we'll be visiting a mostly hostile village to see if village leaders will come out to talk; climbing the tallest over watch position to see about setting up an observation post while avoiding gun fire; and meeting with the district sub-governor to tactfully explain why U.S. forces aren't going to approve his spending his entire allocated budget on two retaining walls and a well," Foley wrote me in March, 2010. "I'm interested in writing freelance pieces for your publication. I would send a more refined pitch if you have any interest in first hand reports from Afghanistan complemented by photos and short video."

Absurdly, James Foley apologized for not getting back to us for a few days due to "sporadic" internet reception while reporting from a war zone, but he humbly only asked for his usual "compensation" which - even more absurdly - was "usually $100 per story with photos." I asked my publisher, John Byrne, if we could at least double that, and - to his credit - he quickly agreed. "[H]ey we have to give him more than that per story or i wont be able to sleep at night lol," I emailed my former boss. And then brave James Foley - also absurdly - apologized for not finishing his story until a few weeks later. I was supposed to edit it, but I was overwhelmed running the site, writing stories, doing research for other reporters, and interviewing others, so John Byrne did it himself.

James Foley wasn't the first reporter who reported from the battlefields for RAW STORY. The conservative-leaning military blogger Bill Roggio also did some reporting from Iraq for us in 2006, after I did a story on how the Washington Post had slandered him by including him in a propaganda article, which their former Ombudsman Deborah Howell backed me up on, after I wrote her about it.

Also, in 2010, when Foley wrote us, we were trying to get another journalist embedded with US troops in Iraq, but the US military vetoed it. And, during President George W. Bush's administration, I worked with White House correspondent Eric Brewer, who did many great stories for us, including one on the Pentagon pundits scandal, after he had been "blacklisted" by former spokesperson Dana Perino for six weeks, and other journalists prodded her to allow him to ask a question. "I thought it was shameful that 10 days after David Barstow's NY Times article about how the establishment media colluded with the Pentagon to sell the war in Iraq and the 'war on terror' to the American people by hiring the Pentagon's 'message force multipliers' as military analysts, no one had asked the White House about it," Brewer wrote in April of 2008. But after President Obama took office, Brewer's credentials were mysteriously revoked, and we couldn't get him back in the White House.

Describing his first article for RAW STORY, James Foley told us on April 2nd, 2010, "I'm working on a follow up to a Special Forces raid in this valley. It's kind of like a react piece with the context of the volatile security and lack of in-roads with mountain villages."

"The New York Times reported that nine religious students were killed at a religious school in a March 15th article, and used it as one of three examples of why Special Forces command would be brought under more centralized control to reduce civilian casualties in Afghanistan," Foley added. "But here in the Badel valley, the story is not over. There are still differing opinions and deep wounds from the raid."

On May 3rd, 2010, RAW STORY proudly published "Exclusive: In Kunar province, civilian deaths from Special Forces turn some Afghans against US" written by James Foley. Here's the first three paragraphs from the first story he reported for us:
"UNAR PROVINCE, AFGHANISTAN – It was two nights after Christmas on a fortified dirt hill called Combat Outpost Badel.

2nd Platoon, Able Co. 2-503rd soldiers had strung Christmas lights along the improvised roof beams of their sandbagged bunkers. They munched homemade cookies sent in care packages. Their platoon had just taken over running the outpost from the previous unit, but there was little holiday cheer.

The young soldiers were mostly sleep deprived. The privates pulled hours of guard shift. At dusk, all heads scanned the mountains outlined in the distinct green of their night vision goggles. They got shot at about every third day. In fact, Christmas marked the rookies’ first firefight. Their helmet cams recorded the staccato of automatic guns and red tracers and shouts. Afterwards, they collected and replayed the shaky video and laughed at the things they said during their first unforgettable minutes under fire.
This fantastic paragraph by Foley also stands out: "Capt. Joseph Snowden also attempted to quell the villagers’ anger at the meeting arranged by the Sub-governor. According to the interpreter, the elder selected to speak for the village said, 'Give us the source of the bad intel. We want to kill him.'"

In late May of 2010, Foley contacted us to tell us he had Visa issues, and RAW STORY publisher John Byrne helped him regain it. "The fact is my Visa is expired, and just now Afghan law is coming down on embedded media with expired Visas," Foley wrote. "So I have to jump through some hoops to get a new one in Germany. I truly don't think it had anything to do with the last article, although they look at everything."

"Anyways, a very short form letter that states I'll be writing for you all on U.S. troops in AFghanistan this summer, would actually help," Foley added. "If you could attach it in an email... thanks much!"

Foley returned to Afghanistan in June of 2010, but it took a few months for him to finish a fantastic four-part story for us about veterans suffering after they returned from fighting for their country. So we only got that one story straight from the battlefields of Afghanistan.

On September 7, 2010, we published, "Exclusive: One Iraq veteran’s harrowing journey from the battlefield to suicide (Part I)," and I assigned Sahil Kapur, who now reports for Bloomberg News, to edit the series. I did what fact-checking we could do (since it's hard for even larger media outlets to fact-check what journalists report risking their lives overseas, while we sleep securely back home in our beds), proofread, and helped with the headlines.

Foley's harrowing lead paragraph: "'He said three times that he should have just died in Iraq and I would have loved him forever, because he didn’t think we were going to get back together,' Krissy Caudill, Sgt. First Class Spencer Kohlheim’s fiancĂ©e said after his grandmother found him hanging in her garage less than a month after he returned from Iraq."

Here's another great paragraph from Foley's story, which I wish received more attention, at the time: "In Indiana, citizen soldiers run in generations of families. For several years after 9/11, the Indiana Guard outpaced states as large as Texas and California in total numbers of Guardsmen recruited. It’s a tight knit group, with only a few degrees of separation between any Hoosier deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan since 2001. But Kohlheim had been deployed more than anyone had heard of — over seven times in twelve years between his service with the Guard and regular Army."

A day later, we published "Exclusive: An Iraq veteran’s descent from PTSD to suicide."

"When we see of images of returning soldiers, more often than not, we see their homecoming," Foley wrote. "Young wives or husbands crying with joy, group hugs, children picked up and spun around, and parents rejoicing. We do not see what happens when the parties are over, when the vets have to re-invent their former lives and become husbands and fathers, mothers and wives again. Fellow soldiers said Spencer Kohlheim wanted to out-process just as fast as they did. None of them admitted to picking up on any post-trauma issues he might have been having."

Yet another great Foley paragraph filled with vivid description that leaped from the page when you read it: "The American Legion at 100 Industrial Parkway in LaGrange looks like a bingo hall from the outside. Inside there’s a square wrap-around bar with an island of liquor bottles, a big screen TV, round Formica tables. The walls are decorated with photos of local veterans wearing Korean and Vietnam-era uniforms. Everyone at the Legion knew Spencer. It was his home when he was back from deployment."

Part 3 - Exclusive: Iraq vet, rattled by IEDs, ‘carried Ziploc bags full of pills’ - was published on September 9, 2010.

Here's a few paragraphs from that story:
"Sgt. Spencer Kohlheim had been wounded on two separate attacks in Iraq. They were concussions; invisible wounds that caused migraines and led to an increasing sense of hopelessness according to his family and close friends.

'The IED is our number one injury right now,' said the manager of a transition program for returning soldiers at the Northern Indiana Veterans Affairs hospital in January of ‘09. 'IEDs can cause traumatic brain injury without [the solider] being hit by any fragments. Depression is a standard reaction to traumatic brain injury.'

The New England Medical Journal has linked depression to multiple concussions, or mild traumatic brain injury, within the three to four months after soldiers return home.

Sgt. Patrick Clouse, 27, was there when Kohlheim got out of the base hospital after the second IED attack. 'He had constant headaches,' Clouse said. 'He was taking meds all the time; those heavier Ibuprofen they give you after the IEDs. There would be very few days that he didn’t have a headache.'
The final chapter - "Cold December: Sgt. Spencer Kohlheim hangs himself in his grandmother’s garage after harrowing battles in Iraq and Afghanistan" - was published on September 10, 2010.

"It was a cold December night, and the last of Sgt. Spencer Kohlheim’s life," Foley wrote. "He was at the Detroit Street Bar with his brother, when he called his ex-girlfriend Krissy to come to meet him. He was clearly intoxicated, she said, and he talked non-stop about getting back together."

"'He was loved by a lot of people,' Beth said, 'and he helped a lot of people, but just couldn’t seem to help himself."
This was the last email Foley personally sent to me, on September 8, 2010.

"Ron, thanks for publishing the vet story in the serial as we discussed," Foley wrote. "Sahil was excellent as an editor and offered very constructive suggestions."

Always so humble, Foley added, "I was thinking as a serial, the compensation would be $200 per. Does that sound fair? Let me know, I should be away from email for a few days. Going up to an outpost overlooking the Korengal."

I left RAWSTORY a little bit over two months later, so I don't know why he didn't do any more stories for them. We followed each other on Twitter, and I sent him a tweet on Christmas eve in 2010, but I wish I noticed that he had suddenly stopped tweeting on November 22nd, 2012, after he was captured by terrorists that very same day. But I feel privileged that I had a very small part in a very gifted journalist's short career. And I hope that people are inspired by this story to contribute to his foundation to honor his fantastic journalism.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Under the radar: Controversial consulting firm tied to Clintons hired 4 star General Odierno, who also got job at largest US bank days after retiring

2/4/16 Update: Four days after I reported that retired General Ray Odierno was hired by Teneo - a firm co-founded by three Clinton allies and which once included former President Bill Clinton as a paid consultant - an article in the New York Times written by Jennifer Steinhauer casually mentioned, "A national security breakout session with Gen. Ray Odierno and others was sobering for many members. As such, defense hawks appear to be gaining ground on the budget hawks in discussions over national security and spending." Did Congressional Republicans at that Baltimore retreat know that the retired general was just hired as a consultant by Teneo?

During last week as Chief of Staff of the US Army, General Odierno criticized presidential candidates Trump and Bush in regards to ISIS

Slipping underneath the radar, four days before Christmas, Teneo - a controversial consulting firm co-founded by former President Clinton's "body man" and two top Hillary Clinton fundraisers, one of which she appointed as US Economic Envoy to Northern Ireland - hired General Raymond T. Odierno as a Senior Advisor, and not one media outlet reported on it. Last August, less than a week after retiring from the Army, General Odierno was also hired as a consultant by JP Morgan, the largest bank in the United States.

The four star general who "led over one million servicemen and women as the Chief of Staff of the Army" in the Iraq war effort and other conflicts has joined a firm - secretive about what oil firms it represents - filled with former US government officials who lobby for its clients, sometimes charged with crimes or facing prosecution, and analysts that are constantly quoted in the media arguing against ground troops being sent to combat ISIS, as I've reported. Teneo Intelligence Managing Director Crispin Hawes has even argued that the US government has "demon[ized]" the terror group.

Last July, as noted at Politifact, leading Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton's fourth largest donor between 1999 and 2016 was JPMorgan Chase, which contributed $620,919 to her campaigns. The former Secretary of State under President Barack Obama posed for the photo, published to the left, with General Odierno in 2010.

On December 21, 2015, Teneo Holdings announced, "General Odierno, recognized for his instrumental role in defeating al-Qaeda in Iraq, and having led over one million servicemen and women as the Chief of Staff of the Army, has dedicated his life to serving the United States. Throughout the course of his career, General Odierno has gained remarkable expertise in a wide range of issues, from cybersecurity and risk management, to acquisition and global crisis management."

"General Odierno held the title of Chief of Staff (Chief Executive Officer) of the United States Army from September 2011 to August 2015, advising the President of the United States, the Secretary of Defense, and the National Security Council," Teneo's press release added. "In this role, he was responsible for leading, manning, training, and equipping a work force of over one million military personnel and 250,000 Department of Army civilian employees dispersed across 50 countries, as well as providing military and logistical support for combat and humanitarian support across six continents."
"Over the course of his role as the Chief of Staff, General Odierno worked closely on key international issues with various heads of state, senior foreign diplomats, and military leaders worldwide, and has extensive experience working with, and advising Congress on national and international issues spanning two administrations.

Previous roles served by General Odierno include assistant to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, where he was the primary military advisor to Secretaries of State Colin Powell and Condoleezza Rice.
On August 20, 2015, Sonali Basak and Hugh Son reported for Bloomberg News, "JPMorgan Chase & Co., the biggest U.S. bank, hired former U.S. Army Chief of Staff Ray Odierno to advise Chief Executive Officer Jamie Dimon on issues including international risks and cyber security. Odierno, 60, a former four-star general, also will provide counsel to the bank’s board and operating committee and represent the New York-based bank with clients, government representatives and policy makers, the firm said Thursday in a statement."

The article added, "Wall Street firms have recruited government officials and military veterans as they seek to cope with cyber attacks and overseas upheaval. KKR & Co. hired former Central Intelligence Agency Director David Petraeus, another four-star general, to inform investment decisions. Goldman Sachs Group Inc. added Patrick Carroll, formerly of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, to help with compliance, while JPMorgan has added former agents after being attacked by hackers."

Reporting for New York Business Journal on August 24, 2015, Michael del Castillo noted that the four star general "will begin his new duties just six weeks after the FBI charged five people for alleged crimes linked to the hacking into JP Morgan’s infrastructure last year."

"On July 21, the Federal Bureau of Investigation charged five people in cases related to the hacking of New York City-based JP Morgan last year. According to a Wall Street Journal report, the men were accused of charges ranging from securities fraud to money laundering, in activities linked to a hack of the bank, curerently valued at $243 billion, last year," del Castillo added. "The general is scheduled to begin his duties on September 1."

In an August 22, 2015 article for Defense News, Andrew Clevenger reported, "Loren Thompson, a defense-industry consultant and analyst with the Lexington Institute, said the most visible, highest-ranking generals typically are in the greatest demand in the private sector."

Thompson told Defense News, "The appeal of retired general officers in the financial community comes down to three things: first of all, broad experience because of their frequent career rotations; discipline, which enables them to be organized and more focused than many people who have never served; and thirdly, prestige...I think you can’t overlook the prestige quality that a former chief of staff of the Army confers on a financial institution or a stock trader. Chief of staff of the Army is a title that grows with celebrity the farther you get from Washington."

"And part of the appeal for the senior officers is the ability to make up for their comparatively low military wages," Clevenger wrote. "Top officers typically make less than $200,000 a year. While this is not an insignificant salary, it does not compare with what someone with their skills and experiences would make in the private sector."

"If you’re a colonel, or a one-star, it may seem like you’re being reasonably paid," Defense-industry consultant Loren Thompson was further quoted. "But when you’re overseeing an entire military service, and you’re only making as much as a member of Congress, it’s easy to imagine that there are other career lines that might be more lucrative."

In its August 20, 2015 press release, America's largest bank, JP Morgan announced, "Additionally, General Odierno will represent JPMorgan Chase through engagement with clients, government officials and policy makers in the U.S. and internationally and will participate in the firm's regional advisory groups in Europe, the Middle East, Africa, the Asia-Pacific region and Latin America. He will also advise on the firm's cities initiatives, including the Global Cities Initiative and New Skills at Work, meeting with mayors and other public officials to provide them with expert insight and advice that will help respective metropolitan areas thrive in the global economy and representing the firm in select events and conferences with JPMorgan's partnership organizations."
"General Odierno will also advise on JPMorgan Chase's Military and Veterans Affairs strategy and execution as a member of the Military and Veterans Affairs Advisory Council, engaging on these important issues in public forums and with policy makers. The firm has committed to helping position military members, veterans and their families for success in their post service lives through innovative programs in employment, housing and education. Through June of 2015, JPMorgan Chase had awarded over 800 homes to veterans and their families through nonprofit partners and hired over 9,100 veterans.

'I am proud to announce that General Odierno has joined JPMorgan as a senior advisor,' said Jamie Dimon, Chairman and CEO. 'Ray has dedicated his life to serving our country, rising to the top of the Army with proven leadership that delivers results. His experience, vision and impressive track record of success when confronting overwhelming challenges will provide significant value to our leadership team, the firm and our clients across a wide range of issues.'

General Odierno added, 'I'm excited to work with Chairman and CEO Jamie Dimon, a leader in the financial industry, and to have the opportunity to contribute to JPMorgan Chase – a globally recognized industry leader.'
In an article titled "Odierno Wades Into GOP Battle Over Iraq War" published on August 12, 2015 at, Marcus Weisberger reported, "Gen. Ray Odierno, the U.S. Army’s top officer, pushed back on the Iraq War blame game that has dominated the GOP 2016 presidential campaign trail, saying that the U.S. military’s withdrawal from Iraq in 2011 was the Bush administration’s plan all along. Odierno, formerly the senior U.S. general in Iraq, said he was unconvinced at the time that the Iraqi parliament would have approved a longer stay for American troops had Obama administration officials successfully negotiated for it."
"The Iraq War has jumped back into headlines recently as Republican candidates attempt to tie the U.S. withdrawal in 2011 — and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s role in it — to the rise of the Islamic State. In a major national security speech on Tuesday, Jeb Bush criticized Clinton and President Barack Obama for removing U.S. troops from Iraq.

'That premature withdrawal was the fatal error, creating the void that ISIS moved in to fill – and that Iran has exploited to the full as well,' said Bush, a former Florida governor and brother of President George W. Bush.
"So why was the success of the surge followed by a withdrawal from Iraq, leaving not even the residual force that commanders and the joint chiefs knew was necessary?" Jeb Bush asked during his speech at the Reagan Library in California last August. "And where was Secretary of State Clinton in all of this? Like the president himself, she had opposed the surge, then joined in claiming credit for its success, then stood by as that hard-won victory by American and allied forces was thrown away."

At Huffington Post on August 13, 2015, Matt Ramos wrote, "U.S. Army Chief of Staff Gen. Raymond Odierno said on Wednesday that Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush was wrong to blame the Obama administration for the current instability in Iraq."

The Huffington Post story continued, "Ahead of his official retirement on Friday, Odierno, the former highest-ranking officer in Iraq and one of the architects of the 2007 troop surge there, sought to set the record straight. 'I remind everybody that us leaving at the end of 2011 was negotiated in 2008 by the Bush administration. That was always the plan, we had promised them that we would respect their sovereignty,' Odierno said during his final press conference at the Pentagon."

Reporting for the Wall Street Journal on August 12, 2015, Gordon Lubold wrote, "The Pentagon’s retiring Army chief pushed back on a suggestion by GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump that the way to counter Islamic State would be to seize Iraqi oil fields to eliminate one of the group’s biggest sources of revenue."

"Gen. Ray Odierno, the Army chief of staff, told reporters Wednesday that he thinks the best way to address Islamic State in the region is to find ways to achieve a 'sustainable outcome' based not only on military but also political and economic approaches," the Wall Street Journal article continued. "Military operations, such as bombing oil fields in Iraq that the militant group uses to draw some of its financial power, doesn’t fit the bill."
"'There are limits to military power,' he said at the Pentagon two days before he retires from the Army after more than 39 years of service, adding that he disagrees with Mr. Trump’s idea. “Right now, I do,” he said. 
Mr. Trump said he would 'bomb the hell out of those oil fields' and then send in big oil companies to rebuild them.

'If I win, I would attack those oil sites that are controlled and owned — they are controlled by ISIS,' Mr. Trump said. 'I wouldn’t send many troops because you won’t need ‘em by the time I’m done,' Mr. Trump said last month. Other military officers have suggested the idea was not a good one and it was not clear that Mr. Trump’s plan was based on any particular military advice or planning.
(Editor's Note: For many more articles on its worldwide ambitions, considerable ties to the Clintons, and reasons why the firm is considered controversial, search for "Teneo" on the top of this blog)