The Tide is Turning

The Official Story is Now the Conspiracy Theory

by Paul Craig Roberts (September 07 2016)

In a few days it will be the fifteenth anniversary of 9/11, and this November 22 will be the 53rd anniversary of the assassination of President John F Kennedy in Dallas, Texas. These two state crimes against democracy destroyed American democracy, accountable government, and the Constitution’s protections of civil liberty.

Years after the damage done by these events the American people no longer believe the official stories. Neither does the government, but the government will never validate the distrust that Americans now share of the oligarchs’ government by acknowledging the truth.

The official explanation of the assassination of President Kennedy never made any sense. Videos of the assassination contradicted the official story, as did witnesses, and many credible people challenged the government’s story. The CIA was faced with the official explanation becoming unglued and launched its media program stigmatizing doubters as “conspiracy theorists” {1}.

The CIA’s psychological warfare against the public succeeded at the time and for a number of years during which witnesses had mysterious deaths and the trail grew cold. But by the late 1970s there was so much public scepticism of the official story that the US Congress took the risk of being labelled “conspiracy kooks”. The House Select Committee on Assassinations reopened the inquiry into JFK’s murder. The House Committee concluded that the Warren Commission’s investigation was seriously flawed, that there was more than one person firing at President Kennedy and that there was a conspiracy to assassinate JFK.

The corrupt US Department of Justice (sic) contradicted the House Select Committee’s report. However, the American people believed the Select Committee and not the corrupt Justice (sic) Department, which never tells the truth about anything.

By 2013 polls showed that most Americans are “conspiracy kooks” who do not believe the official government line on JFK’s assassination. So with regard to JFK’s assassination, the “conspiracy theorists” are in the majority. The minority are the Americans who cannot escape their brainwashing. {2}

In a few days it will be the fifteenth anniversary of the alleged al Qaeda attack on the World Trade Centre and Pentagon, and we are witnessing the fading protection that the charge of “conspiracy theorist” provides for the officlal government story. Indeed, the official 9/11 story is collapsing before our eyes.

Europhysics, the respected publication of the European physics community has pubished an article by scientists who conclude that “the evidence points overwhelmingly to the conclusion that all three [World Trade Centre] buildings were destroyed by controlled demolition”. Few American scientists can admit this, because their careers depend on US government and military/security complex research contracts. Independent scientists in the US are a vanishing breed, an endangered species.

The scientists say that in view of their findings, “it is morally imperative” that 9/11 “be the subject of a truly scientific and impartial investigation by responsible authorities” {3}.

So now we are faced with a peculiar situation. The scientifically ignorant two-bit punk American presstitutes claim to know more than the editors of the journal of the European physics community and the scientists who did the investigation. Don’t you think it farfetched that ignorant, corrupt, and cowardly American journalists who lie for money know more than physicists, chemists, 2,700 high-rise architects and structural engineers who have called on the US Congress to launch a real investigation of 9/11, firefighters and first responders who were on the WTC scene, military and civilian pilots and former high government officials, all of whom are on record challenging the unbelievable and physically impossible official story of 9/11? What kind of a dumbshit moron does a person have to be to believe that the United States government and its media whores know better than the laws of physics?

The ability of the presstitutes to influence Americans seems to be on the decline. The media ganged up on Donald Trump during the Republican primaries, intending to deny Trump the nomination. But the voters ignored the presstitutes. In the current presidential campaign, Hillary is not the run-away winner that the presstitutes are trying to make her. And despite the propaganda ministry, the legs under the official 9/11 story are wobbly, to say the least.

Indeed, the official 9/11 story already has lost credibility with the American public. Last April a Rasmussen Poll found that “Americans doubt they’ve been told all the facts about the September 11 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States and strongly believe the government should come clean” {4}.

A YouGov poll in 2013 found that fifty percent of Americans “have doubts about the government’s account of 9/11”, which shows that the public is far more intelligent and less corrupt than the presstitutes who are paid to lie to the public. This poll also found that as a consequence of the cover-up job performed by the American presstitutes, 46 percent of Americans were not even aware that a third WTC building, Building 7, collapsed on September 11. After viewing films of WTC 7’s collapse, 46 percent saw it as a controlled demolition. By a margin of two to one, poll respondents support a new investigation of Building 7’s collapse. {4}

So, in America today “conspiracy kooks” outnumber those who believe the official lies. As the official lies are themselves conspiracy theories, Americans who disbelieve the official conspiracy theories outnumber Americans who believe official conspiracy theories. The question is: who are the real conspiracy kooks, the majority who disbelieve the official lies or the minority who believe the official lies?

It is curious that the CIA’s psych-op mind-control has broken down in the cases of the JFK assassination and 9/11, but is still effective in more recently orchestrated events, such as San Bernardino, Orlando, Paris, and Nice. Perhaps this is because not enough time has passed for the public to pay attention to the vast difference between the stories and the evidence.

The Internet offers many refutations of the official accounts. With regard to Nice, France, the Nice police officials themselves are having problems with the official story. The French Anti-Terrorist Sub-Directorate in Paris has ordered the public authorities in Nice to delete the video recordings from security cameras of the “Nice Terror Truck Attack”. The Nice authorities refused on the grounds that this would be destruction of criminal evidence. This story has disappeared from the news. I have asked friends in France how this conflict was resolved and have not heard anything. The French like to live life well and faced with the refugees from Washington’s wars, they seem to be focused on living life well while it can be done. If I hear anything, I will pass it on. {5}

Apparently, the order to delete the video evidence of the “attack” was not sufficient for the French Ministry of the Interior. According to a senior Nice police officer, Sandra Bertin, the Interior Ministry pressured her to falsify her police report on the Nice “truck massacre”. Officer Bertin told the Journal du Dimanche that “he ordered me to put in [the report] the specific positions of the national police which I had not seen on the screen” {6}.

The Interior Minister, Bernard Cazeneuve is suing the Nice police official for “defamation”, as if it is possible to defame any politician anywhere in the corrupt West {7}. Moreover, why would a senior Nice official make up a story about being ordered to change a report? It doesn’t make any sense, does it? Clearly, the central government is trying to hide the evidence against the official story. {6, 8}

It seems that the French media is disposing of the Nice police official by branding her a rightwing racist opposed to the current government {9}.

Watch this video {10} and ignore the narrator’s four-letter vocabulary. What you will learn is that all those people you saw running in the presstitute TV reports had no idea why they were running. The presstitutes created the impression that they were running away from the truck. However, as the interviews show, they were running because other people were running, because the police told them “terrorists, run”, and because they heard shots (apparently police firing blanks). Those interviewed reported, “You run with them even though you have no idea what you are running from. You can’t help it, you run with them.” None of those running away ever saw a truck.

According to the foul-mouthed narrator, the film of the people running away was taken prior to the time the truck allegedly mowed down 185 people, killing 85 of them. The narrator appears to be correct if the time stamps on videos are correct. The narrator says the streets needed to be cleared for the crisis actors to put on their show that is used to control our minds about what happened.

I have pointed out that a truck that hit 185 people, killing 85 of them would be covered in blood and that bodies would be splattered all over the street with blood everywhere. Yet, the photos and videos that we are shown show no such evidence. The stopped truck on which police are directing gunfire is as white as snow.

Independently of the vast analysis online of the video evidence of the alleged “Nice attack”, I suspect the Nice “terror attack” for the same reason that the Pentagon attack is suspect. Despite all the contrary evidence against the official stories, the authorities refuse to release the video evidence that, if it shows what the authorities claim, would shut up the sceptics and prove the official story.

When a government claims it has video evidence that proves its official story but refuses to release it, indeed, demands the destruction of the video evidence, we know for an absolute fact that the video evidence totally contradicts the official story. That is the only possible conclusion.

My readers will write to me asking how the government expects to get away with its faked, and in the case of 9/11 false flag, terror orchestrations? The answer, perhaps, is that just as it took a long time for the JFK assassination and 9/11 lies to catch up with the government, the recent orchestrations will also take some time for a slowly awakening public to catch on. In the meantime the orchestrated events will serve the agendas that they are intended to serve, and by the time that the public sees through the orchestrations, a new situation will be in place with new orchestrations.

Keep in mind that the public thinks it is shown evidence. Newspapers need photos to give a visual dimension to their coverage, and TV needs videos of the events. News organizations are under a time pressure, and they have to use what they are handed or what is at hand. There is no time to scrutinize the visual material or to raise questions about it. Most of the public thinks that the photos and videos shown to them are evidence or would not be shown and accepts the visual evidence without question. In an earlier column I linked to the vast array of Nice photos provided in the UK Daily Mail. The photos show a calm situation. There are a few people lying in the street without any sign of bodily damage or blood and there are covered objects that the public assumes are dead people. But the streets are devoid of the splattered blood and mangled bodies that would be the consequence of a truck hitting 185 people. Similarly, we have been shown very few videos and their origin is unknown exc ept for the one attributed to Richard Gutjahr who was apparently pre-positioned to film inconclusively both the Nice and German “terror attacks”. Online analysis of the videos shows that the videos are not evidence for the storyline. The real question is why the French Interior Minister has prevented the release and demanded destruction of the security camera videos that filmed the entire event, an order that brought the central government in Paris in conflict with the public authorities in Nice. There has been no US media interest whatsoever in this very strange event. It is not a “conspiracy theory” to ask why the public cannot see the video evidence that shows what actually happened.

What agenda is served by the Paris and Nice attacks? This is the question everyone should be asking and the media, if we had one, should be investigating. With the information currently available to me, my answer is this. Of all the peoples of Western Europe, the French are the most independently minded. French independence has taken a number of recent hits from Washington:

* The largest French bank was forced to hand over $9 billion to Washington for doing business with a country on Washington’s disapproval list.

* Washington forced France to cancel a lucrative ship-building program for Russia, to the detriment of French companies and shipyard workers.

* Washington has forced France into a diplomatic conflict with Russia that the French do not want and into a looming military conflict which the French want even less, as the conflict would mean the vaporization of France. As one Russian SS-18 can wipe out three-fourths of the state of New York, how many do you think it would take to wipe France off of the face of the Earth? Not even a handful.

Keep in mind that in 1966 President Charles de Gaulle pulled France out of Nato on the grounds that it was necessary to preserve French independence in world affairs. France did not again submit to Washington’s control until 2009 when Washington-owned Nicolas Sarkozy, put into the French presidency by Washington’s money, followed his orders and rejoined Nato.

The Paris and Nice orchestrated events serve to scare France back into Washington’s arms. Dreams of independence become nightmares when independence leaves the French people at the mercy of both terrorists and Russians. Washington, who owns Sarkozy, who is once again Washington’s candidate for president of France, intends to keep France in Nato.

The article in Europhysics pointing out the impossibility of the official 9/11 story could possibly lead to a rebirth of scepticism among Europeans. Only a skeptical media willing to investigate government storylines can bring a halt to the staged terror events that serve secret agendas.

Keep in mind that the US government has plentiful video evidence of the 9/11 attack on the Pentagon but refuses to release the evidence that it says support its story. Similarly, the French federal government has prohibited Nice authorities from releasing the security camera videos of the Nice truck attack and has ordered the video evidence destroyed. How can we believe governments that refuse to show us the hard evidence?











{10} :

Copyright (c) 2016 All rights reserved.

The Tide is Turning: The Official Story Is Now The Conspiracy Theory — Paul Craig Roberts

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The Truth about 9/11

by Eric Margolis (September 10 2016)

America’s strategic and economic interests in the Mideast and Muslim world are being threatened by the agony in Palestine, which inevitably invites terrorist attacks against US citizens and property.

– Eric Margolis, Sun Media (September 02 2001), nine days before the September 11 attacks against New York and Washington DC.

As Americans enter the fifteenth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks on their nation, they still have not understood the true cause of these dreadful attacks.

Who can blame them? Our politicians and media have totally obscured the truth behind these and subsequent attacks that we call “terrorism”. While we mourn 9/11, US B-52 heavy bombers are raining bombs on what’s left of Afghanistan in a futile attempt to crush tribal forces (aka Taliban) fighting western occupation.

We did the same thing in Laos in the 1980s, as President Barack Obama properly noted during his visit there last week. Laos has never recovered and Afghanistan won’t either.

Since 2015, the US has dropped at least 32,000 1,000~2,000 pound bombs on Iraq, Syria, Libya, Yemen, Somalia, Pakistan and Afghanistan – all Muslim nations. US bomb inventories are running critically low as arms makers work overtime.

9/11 was a revenge attack conducted by mostly Saudi nationals who claimed they wanted to punish the United States for supporting Israeli oppression of Palestine, and for what they claimed was the US “occupation” of Saudi Arabia.

That’s as much as we really know. We have never gotten the full story about 9/11. The best we can do is ask “qui bono”, who really benefitted from the attacks?

The 9/11 narrative was immediately twisted by President George Bush into a spurious claim that America had been attacked by Muslims because of its “freedoms” and her “way of life”. This deceit opened the Pandora’s box from which issued the rising wave of Islamophobia and Crusading fever sweeping over the US and Europe.

America was attacked for what it had been doing all over the Muslim world, not for what it was. Most Americans don’t know that the first CIA ‘regime change’ in the Mideast occurred in Syria, way back in 1948. We’re still at it today.

Ever since, the US, Britain and France – the imperial three musketeers – have been breaking and making regimes across the Mideast and Africa, and installing vicious dictators to do our bidding, earning enemies from West Africa to Tajikistan.

Hillary Clinton said this week that if elected president she would advance ‘American exceptionalism’ and assure the new world order. These are code terms for imperialism and hegemony. If Clinton wins, look forward to foreign and military policy directed by Goldman Sachs and the neoconservatives.

Donald Trump vows a major increase military spending at a time when America’s infrastructure is rusting or collapsing and its debt soaring. Both Trump and Clinton warn of growing security threats to America from ISIS and North Korea. In reality, the greatest internal threat is the type of Saturday night gang shoot-outs in Chicago that have killed 500 people so far this year.

ISIS is a military pipsqueak – a bunch of 20-something hooligans. North Korea only wants to be left alone to its misery. Washington, Paris, and London need the ISIS bogeyman today, just as they needed al-Qaida and the Soviet Union before, to justify budget-busting new arms spending and keeping the population whipped up with bogus war fever.

Internationally, the greatest threat to America’s security is, of course, nuclear armed Russia which has enough intercontinental and sea-launched missiles to wipe the United States off the map. Accordingly, Washington’s most important foreign and national security priority is maintaining calm, well-mannered relations with Russia and its leadership.

Instead, we have Hillary Clinton and her frantic war party neocons trying to provoke Russia at every turn and giving Moscow the impression that she will start a war with Russia. It was precisely such war talk and sabre rattling that in 1983 during the Able Archer crisis brought the US and USSR to within minutes of a full-scale nuclear war {1}.

For all Trump’s bluster and Islamophobia, he is absolutely right about seeking good relations with Moscow. The schoolyard demonization of Russian President Vladimir Putin by the Clinton camp and its tame US media is childish, shameful and unworthy of a great power.

Link {1}:

Copyright Eric S Margolis 2016


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2016 marks the Twentieth Anniversary

of the NASASCAM site.

Twenty Years of Exposing NASA Lies and Deceit.

NASA – Numerous Anomalies and Scams Abound.

This web page is dedicated to NASA Chief Charles F Bolden, NASA Historian William Barry, and the few remaining Apollo astronauts, who make themselves a worldwide laughing stock with their ongoing claim of having walked upon the Moon’s surface.

If the Internet and e-mail were around in 1968, I would have been glad to have a serious open debate with “Apollo believers” on whether the Moon missions were for real or not. However it is not 1968, but 2016 and, as such, the authenticity of the Moon missions can no longer be debated. Neither does it fall into a “conspiracy theory” as the facts are well known. Conspiracy theories question what really took place, however it has been a well proven fact since the mid 1980s, that the Apollo Moon missions were faked.

Although it’s common knowledge throughout the world that the Apollo Moon missions were faked by NASA back in the 1960s, many gullible people still accept NASA’s claim of sending men to the Moon, without bothering to carry out any research, or investigation, to see if NASA are indeed telling the truth. There are some who will never accept the Moon missions were faked, regardless of how much factual evidence of a fake is put before them. I refer to those people as PAN’s which stands for Pro Apollo Nutters.

Those who will not accept that Apollo was a fake, have been brain washed into believing over 47 years of lies from NASA, such that they become brain damaged, and lose touch with reality. We’ve all come across them from time to time as they reiterate their ridiculous statements like, “I can see the flag through my telescope”, or “I saw the rocket lift off, and the TV pictures, so it must have happened”. They also make stupid remarks like “What about the Moon rock brought back by the Apollo astronauts”. How do we know its Moon rock, its only NASA’s word, and if it is, then it was brought back by scoop and return probe, not astronauts.

If you are one who lives in a fantasy world, there is no hope, however if you are one of those who has serious doubt about the Apollo Moon landings ever happening, then this site is for you.

The comical aspect about NASA’s 47 year Moon hoax (Apollo 8) is how it’s making a worldwide laughing stock of NASA, and the astronauts who claim to have traveled to the Moon. The most damning aspect however, is that NASA’s Moon landing scam is confusing the younger generation, by giving them a disorientated view of current space travel and technology. For example, many youngsters who saw the shuttle lift off from launch pad assumed it was going to the Moon. They could not understand why it was only going 150 miles into low Earth orbit, when NASA supposedly made nine manned journeys to the Moon (each mission being a return trip of over 500,000 miles) during a three year period which began over 47 years ago. Yes NASA made trips to the Moon look like a ten minute bus ride to the local shops, and most, but not all, people fell for it hook, line and sinker.

If NASA did send men to the Moon, then space technology has gone backwards instead of forward. That seems somewhat bizarre when one looks at technology advances, particularly in computer science. Of course space technology has not gone backwards. What is bizarre is NASA’s outlandish claim.

Since 1995, more and more encyclopaedias are making less and less, and in some cases no reference at all, to the Apollo Moon missions. Evidently the publishers have “wised up” to the fact that the Apollo missions were faked, and no man has been to the Moon and back. “A hole in history”, as Arthur C Clarke quoted back in 1969.

At the time NASA faked the Moon missions, they anticipated that there would be people around the globe who would dispute them (the author of this site was one), however they surmised that it would never spread any further than a few people discussing it in their local pub, or at work. How wrong they were. NASA never envisaged that thirty years later every person on the planet would be able to talk, discuss, then share information and thoughts with one another in a matter of seconds.

During the 1970s, a large percentage of those people had serious doubt that the Moon landings were for real, however there was no material available upon which to base an investigation, other than the limited number of photographs shown in a few fictional/fantasy books which endorsed Apollo. They also could not share their thoughts with others around the globe who held the same belief.

In 1995 the Internet brought about the downfall and full expose of NASA’s 25 year hoax, as people worldwide now had full access to NASA’s web site pictures, and could see for themselves the pathetic way in which the photographs had been doctored with the same repetitive background. Prior to 1995 it was not possible to see these pictures, but you can now study them in the comfort of your own home.

Sites exposing the Moon landings as fake will soon outnumber the untrue Apollo Moon web sites. Click on each picture to go to the same picture on a NASA site, and click on links at bottom of page for the full, complete story on the biggest scam ever hoisted upon the world’s media.

The so called lunar map used for Apollo 17 mission, the quality of which is very poor, however scale is marked in kilometres. Now perhaps some of you Pro Apollo Nutters out there could tell me WHY this map is marked in kilometres, when in the USA the Imperial system of measurement is always used? Even today measurements are logged in miles, so they were most certainly using miles back in 1968. Note the alleged landing site marked X and journeys made in varying directions to the so called Stations which are numbered 1 to 10B. Note Station 8 and distance it is from Lunar Module (“LM”) landing site.

The Moon’s surface was, as we were told, very dry and dusty, if that were the case then why do those footprints show up so boldly. The only surface that would leave footprints showing that boldly would be damp sand/earth, and that’s probably what it is. Note curved light marking in top left hand corner, and black crater between the rock and that contraption. There is no evident sign of the LM in this picture.

Photograph shown above is supposedly Station 6 on the Moon. Notice how the background is identical with the same curved light marking, and crater. The foreground in this picture was actually taken at a remote location in Arizona, so the shadows one sees are natural occurring shadows from sunlight here on planet Earth. It is but a simple matter to black the sky out, and paste in a background mountain scene.

Now this astronaut on rover, is supposed to be Station 9, but that same curved light marking, and crater are there in background, and again picture was taken from exactly the same angle.

This is Station 8, Cochise crater. It’s funny innit the picture again shows same background, and yet again picture was taken from the same angle. Text accompanying this picture states “The final parking place of the rover prior to lift off”. Looking at EVA map, Station 8 is the furthest point North from the LM landing site. Did they walk the five kilometres back to LM?

Picture, shown above, is Camelot crater which is Station 5. Camelot crater is over one kilometre from the landing site in a totally opposite direction to Station 8, (which incidentally is over six kilometres from Station 5). Low and behold that same curvature of light, but the crater has been obliterated in this shot. A classic example of shuffling the background imagery to try and create differing views. Tuttle did a poor job of blackening the sky in this picture. Look closely on a high res screen, and you will see evidence of trees within the blackness of space.

NASA claim that picture above is Station 7, however it is plain to see that background is again identical, with that same curved light marking, and the angle/orientation that picture was taken is also the same.

This final picture, taken from ALSJ web site, is portrayed as the Apollo 17 landing site. One does not need to be a photographic expert to spot that photo, like all the others, has the same identical background, and yet the LM does not appear in the photos above. The background scene, (canvas backdrop retained at LRC), has been superimposed (pasted) onto pictures which NASA claim are genuine Moon photo’s taken at different locations.

Note, no reticules on the above photo, and yet it was taken by the same camera as all other Moon photos. If this picture was taken in 1972, why did it not appear in any books or magazines until 1994, when it first appeared in a newspaper, and why is it in color on the ALSJ site, when other pictures are monochrome, especially as they were again taken by the same camera?

If the astronauts covered an area roughly eight kilometres by twelve kilometres, and panned their camera through 360 degrees at various locations, what are the odds against getting an identical background in each picture? Six separate locations which are miles apart, and yet each has the same identical background. In all the pictures one can see a relatively flat foreground, and an abrupt straight line where that foreground meets the background hilly area. This is conclusive proof that background hilly scene has been pasted onto photo, and the sky blacked out. If you look at picture on APOLLO REALITY 2 site, you will see that same flat foreground, and abrupt straight line where sandy foreground meets bushy area at the rear.

The evidence of false backdrops is not so noticeable in the earlier faked pictures for missions 11/12 and 14, as they were taken at Langley Research Centre in the’MOONSET’ studio. It is the latter missions, that is, 15/16 and 17 where anomalies are plainly obvious. When questioned about the authenticity of the Moon landings, NASA’s reply is “We do not have time to answer any questions, the truth is in the photographs”. The truth is indeed within the photographs, and the truth hurts. These photographs are fake, which means the Moon landings are also fake.

Still not convinced? Then maybe this recent photograph will prove my theory. It shows John Dorsey at Langley Research Centre where they are currently designing a crane to unload cargo for, as Mr Dorsey quotes, “When astronauts return to the Moon”. I think they would do better spending their time figuring out how to get to the Moon for the first time instead of fabricating the evidence, and forget about building cranes for use on the Moon.

Notice in the background the canvas backdrop used in faking the Apollo 17 photographs.

_____ – The person responsible for NASA’s fake Apollo Moon pictures. – How, and where NASA faked the lunar orbiting/landing, and lift off videos. – USGS involvement in the faking of Apollo. – Data from the Apollo missions which does not add up. – The reason NASA faked the Apollo Moon missions. – More ridiculous Moon pics with added humor. – You’ve just gotta take the Mickey. – Read what the media say about naughty NASA. – How deadly space radiation makes Moon trip impossible. – Facts to be considered about Apollo Moon missions. – Clear cut evidence of fakery in NASA videos.

All sites best viewed at 1024 x 768, or 1024 x 600 resolution with medium text size.

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Theresa May’s quasi-Darwinian fight to dilute right to claim asylum .

Theresa May previously vowed she would ‘not in a thousand years’ take part in any Europe-wide refugee responsibility-sharing deal.

British PM will use first UN speech to try to block refugees’ escape routes and push for poorest countries to bear brunt of crisis

Alan Travis
The Guardian
Monday 19 September 2016
Theresa May will use her first speech to the United Nations to argue that the world’s wealthiest countries should offer only minimum protection to all but the most vulnerable of the world’s refugees.
It will mark the start of her international campaign to dilute the right to claim asylum and to ensure – by enshrining the principle that claims for asylum should be made in the first safe country – that more than 86% of the world’s refugees are looked after by the poorest and middle-income countries.
For make no mistake, when May talks of agreeing “a better distinction between refugees and economic migrants” she is talking about limiting the right of asylum seekers to reach Europe to have their claims for refugee status properly considered. When she also proposes that countries must “take responsibility to stop uncontrolled migrant flows” she is willing the means to ensure that happens.
We know this because the UN’s speech is not a one-off. Indeed May showcased her strategy for dealing with the worst refugee crisis since the second world war in her Conservative Party conference speech as home secretary last October.
Then she made clear that she wanted to limit the number of asylum seekers who made it to Britain to claim refugee status by branding those who had made it across the Mediterranean to Calais or Britain as the “wealthiest, fittest and strongest” with the quasi-Darwinian implication that they are in some way undeserving queue-jumpers.
She said more than 290,000 Syrians had claimed asylum across Europe at that point, and contrasted them sharply with the plight of the “most vulnerable” refugees in the Middle East camps. May boasted of Britain’s decision to take 20,000 of those most vulnerable refugees and promised she would “not in a thousand years” take part in any Europe-wide refugee responsibility-sharing programme.
Instead May asserted last October that she wanted Britain to unilaterally enforce the “first safe country” rule by breaking the link between being recognised as a refugee and getting the right to settle in Britain.
“If you’ve spurned the chance to seek protection elsewhere – but we cannot return you to that safe country and you still need refuge – you’ll get the minimum stay of protection and you won’t have an automatic right to settle here,” she warned, adding that when that came to an end they would be returned as soon as a case review deemed it safe for them to do so. This lesser form of refugee status will also apply to those who successfully claim asylum after overstaying a British visa.
She also launched her campaign for a review of the international legal definitions of who can qualify as a refugee or be rejected as an economic migrant to chip away at the 1951 Geneva convention definitions of those who should not be returned to countries where they face serious threats to their lives or freedom.
This was not just party conference rhetoric. Home Office ministers confirmed in February that work was under way on a strategy to cut the numbers claiming asylum in Britain and to provide temporary protection to all but the “most deserving” refugees.
There is a new twist. In her final months as home secretary, May was considering introducing a policy that a greater number of the most vulnerable refugees would be resettled in Britain only if it matched a reduction in those claiming asylum after reaching Britain under their own steam.
Today’s UN summit on refugees and migrants will see many developing countries arguing for a major expansion in legal routes such as resettlement programmes, so that the wealthiest countries share some of the responsibility for the greatest refugee crisis since the second world war.
They are hoping the UN special assembly will prove a watershed moment in the world’s response. Instead of rising to the challenge, the British prime minister will be blocking people’s escape routes and leaving the world’s poorest countries to cope with the crisis.

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The Plot to kill Martin Luther King

Survived Shooting, Was Murdered in Hospital

by Craig McKee

Truth and Shadows (September 03 2016)

Global Research (September 05 2016)

For one bright moment back in the late 1960s, we actually believed that we could change our country. We had identified the enemy. We saw it up close, we had its measure, and we were very hopeful that we would prevail. The enemy was hollow where we had substance. All of that substance was destroyed by an assassin’s bullet.

– William Pepper, The Plot to Kill King (2016), page 15

The revelations are stunning. The media indifference is predictable.

Thanks to the nearly four-decade investigation by human rights lawyer William Pepper, it is now clear once and for all that Martin Luther King was murdered in a conspiracy that was instigated by then FBI director J Edgar Hoover and that also involved the US military, the Memphis Police Department, and “Dixie Mafia” crime figures in Memphis, Tennessee. These and many more incredible details of the King assassination are contained in a trilogy of volumes by Pepper culminating with his latest and final book on the subject, The Plot to Kill King. He previously wrote Orders to Kill (1995) and An Act of State (2003).

With virtually no help from the mainstream media and very little from the justice system, Pepper was able to piece together what really happened on April 4 1968 in Memphis right down to who gave the order and supplied the money, how the patsy was chosen, and who actually pulled the trigger.

Without this information, the truth about King’s assassination would have been buried and lost to history. Witnesses would have died off, taking their secrets with them, and the official lie that King was the victim of a racist lone gunman named James Earl Ray would have remained “fact”.

Instead, we know that Ray took the fall for a murder he did not commit. We know that a member of the Memphis Police Department fired the fatal shot and that two military sniper teams that were part of the 902nd Military Intelligence Group were sent to Memphis as back-ups should the primary shooter fail. We have access to the fascinating account of how Pepper came to meet Colonel John Downie, the man in charge of the military part of the plot and Lyndon Johnson’s former Vietnam briefer. We also learn that as part of the operation, photographs were actually taken of the shooting and that Pepper came very close to getting his hands on those photographs.

Unfortunately, the mainstream media has ignored all of these revelations and continues to label Ray as King’s lone assassin. In fact, Pepper chronicles in detail how a disinformation campaign has featured the collaboration of many mainstream journalists over almost half a century. He says he suspects that those orchestrating the cover-up, which continues to this day, are no longer concerned with what he writes about the subject.

“I’m really basically harmless, I think, to the power structure”, Pepper said in an interview.

I don’t think I threaten them, really. The control of the media is so consolidated now they can keep someone like me under wraps, under cover, forever. This book will probably never be reviewed seriously by mainstream, the story will not be aired in mainstream – they control the media. It was bad in the 1960s but nowhere near as bad as now.

And the most stunning revelation in The Plot to Kill King – which some may question because the account is second hand – is that King was still alive when he arrived at Saint Joseph’s Hospital and that he was killed by a doctor who was supposed to be trying to save his life.

“That is probably the most shocking aspect of the book, that final revelation of how this great man was taken from us”, Pepper says. (By the way, when I quote Pepper as having “said” something I mean in our interview. If I’m quoting from the book, I’ll indicate that.)

The hospital story was told to Pepper by a man named Johnton Shelby, whose mother, Lula Mae Shelby, had been a surgical aide at Saint Joseph’s that night. Shelby told Pepper the story of how his mother came home the morning after the shooting (she hadn’t been allowed to go home the night before) and gathered the family together. He remembers her saying to them, “I can’t believe they took his life”.

She described chief of surgery Dr Breen Bland entering the emergency room with two men in suits. Seeing doctors working on King, Bland commanded,

Stop working on the nigger and let him die! Now, all of you get out of here, right now. Everybody get out.

Johnton Shelby says his mother described hearing the sound of the three men sucking up saliva into their mouths and then spitting. Lula Mae described to her family that she looked over her shoulder as she was leaving the room and saw that the breathing tube had been removed from King and that Bland was holding a pillow over his head. (The book contains the entire deposition given by Johnton Shelby to Pepper, so readers can judge for themselves whether they think Shelby is credible – as Pepper believes he is.)

William Pepper with his friend Martin Luther King

In fact, a second invaluable source was Ron Adkins, whose father, Russell Adkins Senior, was a local Dixie Mafia gangster and conspirator in the planning of the assassination even though he died a year before it took place. Ron told Pepper he had overheard Bland, who was his family’s doctor, tell his father that if King did survive the shooting he had to be taken to Saint Joseph’s and nowhere else. As Pepper describes it:

He remembers Breen Bland saying to his father, “If he’s not killed by the shot, just make sure he gets to Saint Joseph Hospital, and we’ll make sure that he doesn’t leave”.

Ron, who was just sixteen when the shooting took place, was apparently taken everywhere by his father in those days, and he was able to recount many details of what happened as the assassination was planned and carried out.

“I definitely found him credible”, Pepper says. “I found him troubled, I found him disturbed in a lot of ways by things that went on earlier in his life”.

His deposition is also contained in the book, which Pepper explains was important so that readers could judge the statements for themselves.

“What I wanted to do was to make sure that the entire deposition of these critical moments and this critical information was there, so that one could go and read the depositions and see that I was being accurate”, Pepper says.

Besides describing what he heard Bland tell his father, Ron Adkins described the many visits made to Russell Senior by Clyde Tolson, J Edgar Hoover’s right hand man. Known to Ron as “Uncle Clyde”, the high-level FBI official often delivered cash to the elder Adkins for jobs he and his associates would carry out on behalf of Hoover. Among those the younger Adkins said were paid to supply information about the activities of Martin Luther King were the reverends Samuel “Billy” Kyles and Jesse Jackson.

The Basics of the Official Story

If you seek out any information from a mainstream source about James Earl Ray, you’ll find him described as the killer of Martin Luther King, just as Lee Harvey Oswald and Sirhan Sirhan are labelled “assassins” in the murders of John and Robert Kennedy.

But once you read any or all of Pepper’s three books on the King slaying, you see very clearly that Ray is not a killer at all. Instead, he was a petty criminal who was a perfect “follower”. Like Oswald and Sirhan, Ray was set up to take the fall for an assassination that originated within the American deep state. In fact, Pepper says he’s convinced that knowledge of the plot went all the way to the top.

“The whole thing would have been part of Lyndon Johnson’s playbook”, Pepper says. “I think Johnson knew about this”.
As the official story of the shooting goes, at 5:50 pm on April 4, Kyles knocked on the door of room 306 of the Lorraine Motel to let King and the rest of his party know that they were running late for a planned dinner at Kyles’ home. Kyles then walked about sixty feet down the balcony where he remained even after King came out of the room at about 6 pm. (Although Kyles has maintained ever since that he spent the last half hour in the room, Pepper has proven otherwise.)

Andrew Young (left) and others on balcony of the Lorraine pointing to where the shot originated while King lies at their feet. (Joseph Louw photo)

Members of a militant black organizing group the Invaders, who were also staying in the motel because of King’s visit, were told shortly before the shooting by a member of the motel staff that their rooms would no longer being paid for by the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) and that they had to leave immediately. When they asked who had given this order, they were told it was Jesse Jackson. At the time of the shooting, Jackson was waiting down by the swimming pool. Ron Adkins also identified Jackson as the person who called the owners of the Lorraine Motel and demanded that King be moved from a more secure inner courtyard room to an exposed room on the second floor facing the street.

The Memphis Police Department usually formed a detail of black officers to protect King when he was in town, but did not this time. Emergency TACT support units were pulled back from the Lorraine to the fire station, which overlooked the motel. Pepper also learned that the only two black members of the Memphis Fire Department had been told the day before the shooting not to report for work the next day at the fire station. And black detective Ed Redditt was told an hour before the shooting to stay home because a threat had been made on his life.

Just about a minute after King exited his room, a single shot was fired and the bullet ripped through King’s jaw and spinal cord, dropping him immediately. The shot appeared to come from across Mulberry Street. King was rushed to hospital, where he was pronounced dead just after 7 pm.

According to the official story, the shot was fired by Ray from the bathroom of a rooming house above a bar called Jim’s Grill, which backed on to Mulberry and faced onto South Main Street. But, as Pepper’s investigation proves, the shot actually came from the bushes located in between the rooming house and the street. In fact, the only “witness” who placed Ray at the scene was a falling-down-drunk named Charles Stephens, who later did not recognize Ray in a photograph and who cab driver James McCraw had refused to transport a short time before because he was too intoxicated.

The bushes that concealed the shooter were conveniently trimmed the day after the shooting, giving a false impression that a shooter could not have been concealed there. Several witnesses, including journalist Earl Caldwell and King’s Memphis driver, Solomon Jones, described seeing the shot come from the bushes and not from the bathroom of the rooming house as the official story states.

Another casualty of the King murder was cab driver Buddy Butler who reported that he saw a man running from the scene right after the shot, going south on Mulberry Street, and jumping into a police car (this would turn out to be MPD Lieutenant Earl Clark). Butler reported this to his dispatcher and later to fellow cab driver Louie Ward. Butler was interviewed at the Yellow Cab Company later that evening by police. Ward was told the next day that Butler had either fallen, or was pushed, to his death from a speeding car on the Memphis-Arkansas Bridge.

The owner of Jim’s Grill, Loyd Jowers, would later admit to being part of the conspiracy to kill King, and he would be found responsible – along with various government agencies – for the killing in a 1999 civil lawsuit by the King family, which was represented by Pepper.

“The King family got enormous comfort out of the results of that trial and the evidence that came forward from that”, Pepper says.

Betty Spates, a waitress at Jim’s Grill and girlfriend of Jowers, says she saw him rush into the back of the Grill through the back door seconds after the shot, white as a ghost and holding a rifle, which he then wrapped in a tablecloth and hid on a shelf under the counter. He turned to her and said, “Betty, you wouldn’t do anything to hurt me, would you?” She responded, “Of course not, Loyd”. Spates, who didn’t come forward until the 1990s, also recounted that Jowers had been delivered a large sum of money right before the assassination.

James McCraw stated that Jowers had shown him a rifle the day after the shooting and told him it was the one used to kill King.

“We confronted Loyd”, Peppers explains. “We told him he was likely to be indicted if he didn’t help us, if he didn’t give more information. Jowers didn’t know there was no way the grand jury was going to indict him. All he knew was what he did, what he participated in, how much money he got for it – he got quite a large sum of money, built a taxi cab company with it, had his gambling debt with [local Mafia figure Frank] Liberto forgiven”.

Liberto, an associate of Louisiana crime boss Carlos Marcello, turned out to be involved in the assassination also. He owned a produce warehouse and one of his regular customers, John McFerren, was making his weekly shopping trip there when he overheard Liberto shout into the phone an hour before the shooting: “Shoot the son of a bitch on the balcony”. Nathan Whitlock and his mother, LaVada Addison Whitlock, who owned a restaurant frequented by Liberto, stated that Liberto had told them he was responsible for the King murder.

Setting up the Patsy

One thing that many don’t know is that Ray was in prison in 1967, the year before the assassination, serving a twenty-year sentence for a grocery store robbery in 1959. After a couple of unsuccessful escape attempts, Ray succeeded in breaking out of prison on April 23 1967. Unknown to Ray was the fact that the escape had been orchestrated, because he had already been chosen as the patsy in the planned assassination of King, which was still a year away.

The warden of Missouri State Penitentiary was paid $25,000 by Russell Adkins Senior to allow the escape (as confirmed by Ron Adkins). The money was delivered to Adkins by Tolson, and it was this same connection that would later be used to finance the assassination of King.

After his escape from prison, Ray went to Chicago for a few weeks where he got a job. But, worried about getting caught, he went to Canada, specifically Montreal, and took the name Eric S Galt. His intention was to get a passport under a false name and to travel to a country from which he could not be extradited.

James Earl Ray spent the last thirty years of his life in prison for a murder he did not commit.

At the Neptune Bar in the Montreal dock area in August 1967, Ray met a mysterious figure who identified himself as “Raul”. Raul asked Ray to help him with a smuggling scheme, and Ray agreed. In the months ahead, Ray would do a number of jobs, including gun running, for Raul for which he was paid and given a car. Always, Ray had to wait to be contacted by Raul, who Ray said co-ordinated his activities right up until the day of the assassination.

At one point Ray was instructed to purchase a deer rifle with a scope (although Raul was not satisfied with the one he bought and made him exchange it for another). Ray was instructed to go to Memphis (he arrived April 3 1968) and upon meeting with Raul in his motel was given the name of Jim’s Grill, where the two were to meet at three pm the next day. He also handed the rifle over to Raul and always maintained that he never saw it again.

Ray rented a room at the rooming house above Jim’s Grill (the two met the day of the assassination as planned). About an hour before the shooting, he was given money to go to the movies, but first he tried to have a tire repaired because Raul had said he wanted to use the car. But when Ray heard the sirens that followed the shooting, he got scared and left the area.

Fearing he had been set up, Ray left the country and ended up in England where he was captured on June 8 1968 at London’s Heathrow Airport as he was trying to leave the UK. Once charged with the crime, Ray was pressured by his second lawyer, Percy Foreman, to plead guilty on the grounds that the evidence was too strong against him and Foreman was not in good health and couldn’t offer a strong defence.

“Foreman was sent in with the purpose of replacing the original lawyers”, Pepper says.

Foreman offered Ray $500 to get another lawyer if he pleaded guilty and even put this in writing. Ray would regret accepting this offer for the rest of his life. He tried unsuccessfully to rescind the guilty plea and get a trial for the next thirty years, finally dying in prison of cancer in 1998.

Pepper Becomes Convinced of Ray’s Innocence

It was ten years after the assassination before Pepper would even consider meeting with Ray. He had taken for granted at first that Ray was the assassin, but he was encouraged to meet him by Reverand Ralph Abernathy, who had succeeded King as President of the SCLC. Abernathy had remained unsatisfied with the official account of the shooting.

In the book, Pepper describes his first meeting with Ray in 1978 and how he quickly came to believe that Ray had not been the shooter and that the case was essentially still unsolved. It wasn’t until 1988 before Pepper became certain that Ray had not played any knowing part in the conspiracy, and at that point he agreed to represent him, which he did until his death.

Purveyors of the official story of the assassination have always claimed that Raul was an invention of Ray’s, and mainstream media accounts refer to this question as still unanswered even though Pepper not only found witnesses who described their connections to Raul, he actually found Raul himself with the help of witness Glenda Grabow (Pepper learned that his last name was Coelho). She identified Raul as someone she had known in Houston in 1963 and who around 1974, in a fit of rage, had implicated himself in the King assassination right before raping her. Grabow also identified Jack Ruby as someone who she had seen with Raul in 1963. This fascinating story is recounted both in An Act of State (2003) and The Plot to Kill King (2016).

One of the most intriguing things to come out of both of these books is the account of a young FBI agent named Don Wilson who after the assassination was sent to check out a white Mustang with Alabama plates (Ray drove a white Mustang) that had been abandoned and that was thought to be connected to the assassination. Wilson opened the car door and some papers fell out. He examined them later and found a torn-out piece of a 1963 Dallas, Texas telephone directory. Written on the page was the name “Raul” and the initial “J” and a phone number, which turned out to be that of a Las Vegas night club run by Jack Ruby, the man who had shot Lee Harvey Oswald in the basement of the Dallas police station. A second piece of paper had a list of names with amounts of money beside each. Wilson decided to hold on to this evidence, fearing it would disappear forever if he turned it in. He held on to it for 29 years before making it available to Pepper and the King family.

The Shooter Revealed

Another incredible revelation in The Plot to Kill King is the identity of the man who appears to have fired the fatal shot. Pepper learned his identity from Lenny B Curtis, who was a custodian at the Memphis Police Department rifle range. Curtis told Pepper this in 2003, and Pepper recorded a deposition with him but kept it confidential out of fear for Curtis’s life. Only after his death in 2013 did Pepper reveal what Curtis had said – that the shooter was Memphis police officer Frank Strausser.

“We had to be very careful about [Curtis’s safety]”, Pepper says.

Curtis said to Pepper in his deposition that he heard Strausser say about King four or five months before the assassination that somebody was going to “… blow his motherfucking brains out”. He also described that Strausser had practised in the rifle range with a particular rifle that had been brought in four or five days earlier by a member of the fire department. That fireman had shown the rifle to Curtis and asked, “How would you like that scoundrel, that baby there?” When Curtis said it look like any other rifle, he replied, “No, this is a special one; that baby is special”. Lenny remembered that on the day of the assassination, Strausser spent the whole day practicing with it. (Strausser has given several conflicting accounts of where he was and what he was doing that day.)

After the assassination, Curtis says he was followed and intimidated by Strausser. Pepper writes:

Lenny said that he subsequently became aware that strange things were happening around him. His gas was strangely turned on once when he was about to enter his house. He had lit a cigarette, but as he opened the door he smelled gas and quickly put out the cigarette. A strange Lincoln was occasionally parked across the street from his apartment house. He was frightened. One morning when the car was there, he got into his own car and quickly drove off, and the strange car pulled out and followed him. He managed to see the driver. It was Strausser.

In the book, Pepper describes how he came to meet with Strausser, who he describes as a committed and devoted racist.

“He had no respect for black people at all”, Pepper says. “He wasn’t explicit about his racism. But he was not at all sympathetic to what Martin King was all about”.

In the hope of prompting an admission, Pepper lied and told him that he had been implicated in the killing by Loyd Jowers – but Strausser didn’t take the bait. Pepper also told Strausser that the footprints found in the bushes after the shooting were from size thirteen shoes (which they were). Then he asked him about the size of his feet:

“He had a bit of a grin on his face, and he said ‘thirteen large'”, Pepper says.

Pepper also arranged to have cab driver Nathan Whitlock, who Strausser knew, tell him that there was a good possibility that he (Strausser) would be indicted for the shooting. He responded: “What are they going to indict me for, something I did thirty years ago?” Then he caught himself and added, “Or something I knew about thirty years ago?”

A Threat to the Powers That Be

As Pepper explains, King was not only hated by the establishment as he rose to prominence in the 1960s, he was feared. Not only did he have the ability to move large numbers of people with his message of peace and tolerance, but he had designs on a political career. According to Pepper, King was planning to run for president on a third-party ticket with fellow anti-war activist Dr Benjamin Spock. He was also causing panic in powerful circles because he intended to bring hundreds of thousands of poor people to an encampment in Washington, DC in the spring of 1968 to bring attention to the plight of the poor.

“They were terrified that the anger level when [the demonstrators] were not going to get what they wanted was going to rise to such a point where Martin was going to lose control of that group and the more radical among them would take it over and they’d have a revolution”, Pepper explains. “And they didn’t have the troops to put it down. That was a real fear that the Army had. And I think it was a justifiable fear.”

King would also have posed an increasing threat to the political establishment because he intended to become much more vocal in his opposition to the Vietnam War. He had been influenced by an article and photos by Pepper called, “The Children of Vietnam”, which was published in Ramparts magazine in January 1967 and later reprinted in Look magazine. (The man who published the piece in Look, Bill Atwood, actually told Pepper he received a visit from former New York governor and ambassador to the Soviet Union Averill Harriman who passed on a message from President Johnson that he would appreciate it if Atwood never published anything by Pepper.)

Beyond King’s importance as a powerful force for justice, peace, and equality, he was also Pepper’s friend. And the lawyer/journalist had to deal with that loss as he sought the truth about who really killed King and fought for justice for the man falsely accused of his murder. He writes:

For me, this is a story rife with sadness, replete with massive accounts of personal and public deception and betrayal. Its revelations and experiences have produced in the writer a depression stemming from an unavoidable confrontation with the depths to which human beings, even those subject to professional codes of ethics, have fallen. In addition, there is an element of personal despair that has resulted from this long effort, which has made me even question the wisdom of undertaking this task.

– The Plot to Kill King, page xiv

But he did undertake it, and we should all be grateful that he did.

Disclaimer: The contents of this article are of sole responsibility of the author(s). The Centre for Research on Globalization will not be responsible for any inaccurate or incorrect statement in this article.

Copyright (c) Craig McKee, Global Research, 2016

Posted in Uncategorized

Leaked documents reveal secretive influence of corporate cash on US politics

Leaked court documents from ‘John Doe investigation’ in Wisconsin lay bare pervasive influence of corporate cash on modern US elections

By Ed Pilkington and the Guardian US interactive team
September 14, 2016

Scott Walker was under pressure. It was September 2011, and earlier that year the first-term governor had turned himself into the poster boy of hardline Republican politics by passing the notorious anti-union measure Act 10, stripping public sector unions of collective bargaining rights.
Now he was under attack himself, pursued by progressive groups who planned revenge by forcing him into a recall election. His job was on the line.
He asked his main fundraiser, Kate Doner, to write him a briefing note on how they could raise enough money to win the election. At 6.39am on a Wednesday, she fired off an email to Walker and his top advisers flagged “red”.
“Gentlemen,” she began. “Here are my quick thoughts on raising money for Walker’s possible recall efforts.”
Her advice was bold and to the point. “Corporations,” she said. “Go heavy after them to give.” She continued: “Take Koch’s money. Get on a plane to Vegas and sit down with Sheldon Adelson. Ask for $1m now.”
Her advice must have hit a sweet spot, because money was soon pouring in from big corporations and mega-wealthy individuals from across the nation. A few months after the memo, Adelson, a Las Vegas casino magnate who Forbes estimates has a personal fortune of $26bn, was to wire a donation of $200,000 for the cause.
Adelson’s generosity, like that of most of the other major donors solicited by Walker and crew, was made out not to the governor’s own personal campaign committee but to a third-party group that did not have to disclose its donors. In the world of campaign finance, the group was known as a “dark money” organisation, as it was the recipient of a secret flow of funds that the public knew nothing about.
One of the checks made out to the group, for $10,000, came from a financier called G Frederick Kasten Jr. In the subject line of the check, Kasten had written in his own hand: “Because Scott Walker asked”.

.Because Scott Walker asked. That could stand as an elegant catchphrase for the state of democracy in the US today, where elections are lost or won as much according to candidates’ ability to attract corporate cash as by the strength of their leadership or ideas.

The phrase is to be found within a batch of 1,500 pages of leaked documents obtained by the Guardian that are being published in their entirety for the first time. The cache consists of a stack of evidence gathered by official prosecutors in Wisconsin who were conducting what was called a “John Doe investigation” into suspected campaign finance violations by Walker’s campaign and its network.
The John Doe files published today open a door onto how modern US elections operate in the wake of Citizens United, the 2010 US supreme court ruling that unleashed a flood of corporate money into the political process. They speak to the mounting sense of public unease about the cosy relationship between politicians and big business, and to the frustration of millions of Americans who feel disenfranchised by an electoral system that put the needs of corporate donors before ordinary voters.
The John Doe files
The Guardian has obtained 1,500 pages of leaked documents assembled by Wisconsin prosecutors in the course of their John Doe – ie anonymous – investigation into alleged campaign finance violations in Wisconsin. They include legal filings held under seal and email exchanges between Scott Walker, his team of advisers, and rightwing lobby groups who support the governor and his anti-union agenda.

The theme has become a rallying cry in the US presidential election. Bernie Sanders accused politicians – not least his Democratic rival Hillary Clinton – of selling themselves to Wall Street and special interests.
Donald Trump went further, brazenly using himself as an example of a billionaire who has put politicians in his pocket. “When you give to them,” he said in a confessional tone during a televised Republican debate in the run-up to the primaries, “they do whatever the hell you want them to do.”
According to the independent monitoring group, the Center for Responsive Politics, $2bn of corporate cash has been lavished on the presidential race so far. It’s a bewildering figure, but it only tells us so much about how the new American democracy works in practice, because so much of that largesse is shrouded in secrecy.
Donors are often undisclosed, campaign finance laws are notoriously complicated, and scrutiny by electoral authorities is rare, prosecutions even rarer. When official investigations are launched, they often flounder before reaching a conclusion and virtually never have the chance to reveal their findings to the public.
It is into that dark and obscure post-Citizens United world that the John Doe files leaked to the Guardian land. These are the documents that some of the most powerful judges in the country tried to stop the public from ever seeing.
In July 2015 the state’s highest court, the supreme court of Wisconsin, terminated the John Doe investigation before any charges were brought. The conservative majority of the court ruled that the prosecutors had made a basic misreading of campaign finance law and targeted individuals who were “wholly innocent of any wrongdoing”.
In a contentious twist to the ruling, the justices ordered the prosecutors to “permanently destroy all copies of information and other materials obtained through the investigation”.
This latter-day equivalent of a book burning could have condemned the John Doe investigation into permanent oblivion, leaving voters none the wiser. But at least one copy of the evidence gathered by the prosecutors survived the bonfire, and have now been leaked to the Guardian.
Snippets of the documents have already seen the light of day,quoted in legal filings, some of which were mistakenly posted to an official website. But the Guardian’s documents – consisting of email exchanges between Walker, his advisers, Republican leaders and major donors who included none other than Trump himself, together with court filings held under seal – amount to a rich chronicle of the electoral health of the United States in the wake of Citizens United.
They also form the substance of a case currently before the US supreme court, which has been petitioned by the Wisconsin prosecutors in an appeal against the decision to shut down their investigation. The nation’s highest judicial panel is expected to announce within days whether or not it will take the case.
Citizens United, explained
For more than 60 years, it was an explicit federal rule that profit-making corporations were not allowed to intervene directly in elections. Then along came Citizens United v FEC, the US supreme court’s highly contentious 2010 decision.
The ruling gave corporations – and by extension labour unions – the same first amendment rights to free political speech as any human being.
It opened the floodgates for corporate cash to pour into elections. Coupled with the related ruling, v FEC, it spawned Super Pacs that can spend unlimited amounts of corporate money on trying to sway votes.
Since 2010 Super Pacs have become a fixture of the political landscape, as have so-called “dark money” groups that channel undisclosed donations.
At the heart of the John Doe files is Scott Walker, the governor who shot to national prominence – a hero for conservatives, pariah for liberals – soon after taking office in February 2011 when he introduced the hyper-partisan Act 10. The legislation instantly made Wisconsin the battleground state in the fight between boardroom might and union muscle.
The state capital Madison erupted in weeks of protests in which the legislative building was overrun with thousands of protesters. Democratic lawmakers fled the state and took up residence in neighbouring Illinois in a failed attempt to foil Walker’s plans.
In the fallout of Act 10, progressive groups retaliated by dragging Walker and several other Republicans through a series of bitter recall elections. Six GOP senators were forced to defend their seats in 2011, and Walker himself was put through the recall furnace in 2012.
Those recall elections, and the question of whether Walker flouted campaign finance regulations in order that he and other Republican politicians could stay in office and preserve their anti-union legislation, were the focus of the investigation that generated the files now leaked to the Guardian. It was run by five Wisconsin prosecutors, led by Francis Schmitz, a former federal counter-terrorism expert.
It was known as a John Doe investigation because, much like a grand jury, its subjects were kept anonymous while officials weighed whether or not to press charges. In this case, prosecutors alleged that there was evidence to indicate that Walker and his team of advisers and associates had set up a coordinated effort with lobbyists and major donors to swing elections by secretly pouring huge amounts of corporate cash into the races.
The money was channelled through a third-party group, the DAs alleged, in order to circumvent state and federal rules that set limits on political contributions and require them to be publicly revealed.
The documents show the governor and his fundraising team going after, and receiving cash from, many of the most prominent rightwing donors in the country. In addition to Adelson, there was business magnate Carl Icahn who was approached for $100,000 though nothing in the files indicates that he donated; the hedge-fund billionaire Stephen Cohen, who arranged a wire transfer of $1m; and Home Depot co-founder Ken Langone who gave $25,000.

Paul Singer, hedge-fund manager and chairman of the Manhattan Institute, also crops up in the documents. Three months before Walker’s recall election, Singer attended a forum of business leaders held by the American Enterprise Institute in a luxury resort off the coast of Georgia.
Walker was also there, arriving at the resort armed with a to-do list from his chief fundraiser Kate Doner. It bore the pithy command: “Paul Singer: Grab him”.

The governor presumably did as he was told. Two months later a check from Singer was banked for $250,000.
What particularly caught the attention of the prosecutors was that when the money came in it did not go directly to Walker’s personal campaign committee, Friends of Scott Walker. To do so would have been problematic, as any campaign committee directly linked to a candidate is limited in Wisconsin to accepting contributions of up to $43,000 that have to be fully disclosed.
The prosecutors alleged in court filings published here for the first time that Walker’s campaign found a way around these restrictions by banking the corporate cash through the third-party group, Wisconsin Club for Growth. WCfG describes itself as a “pro-liberty, pro-fiscal restraint” organisation, sharing the same small government and anti-union ideology as Walker. It is a tax-exempt group, or 501 (c) (4), that is supposed to be primarily concerned with “social welfare” rather than partisan politics and as such is not obliged to reveal its donors.
In court submissions, the prosecutors alleged that Walker’s campaign used WCfG as a shadow committee that allowed him to solicit large sums of corporate cash without scrutiny or accountability. “Contributions were personally solicited by Governor Scott Walker to WCfG … in order to circumvent the reporting and contributions provisions of Wisconsin statutes,” an investigator working for the prosecutors in the John Doe investigation, Robert Stelter, alleged.
A good example of the way things worked was the donation made by Donald Trump. On 3 April 2012, two months before the governor faced the electorate, Walker flew to New York for a rapid-fire string of fundraising meetings with big money interests.
He travelled the length of Fifth Avenue in Manhattan, making stops at the investment bank Morgan Stanley, a hedge fund, a corporate law firm, and the residence of publishing tycoon Steve Forbes. He also enjoyed a 45-minute audience with Trump in his Fifth Avenue lair.

There is no record of the conversation between the two men. But it appears to have been a warm encounter, as the John Doe files show that Trump wrote a check for $15,000 on the same day. Who was the beneficiary of Trump’s generosity? Wisconsin Club for Growth.

Another example of the pattern is the casual comment Walker dropped into an email to his fundraiser dated 14 June 2011:“Also, I got $1m from John Menard today”. Eight days later a check for $1m is cut on a corporate check of Menard Inc, the billionaire John Menard’s home improvement chain Menards, and made out not to the governor’s campaign committee but to Wisconsin Club for Growth. There the donation remained a secret until the publication of the Guardian’s leaked files.

Friends of Scott Walker, Wisconsin Club for Growth and other parties named in the John Doe investigation have all vigorously denied any legal violations. They point out that no charges have been brought against any subject of the inquiries.
John Fadness, spokesman for the Scott Walker campaign, told the Guardian: “As widely reported two years ago, the prosecutor’s attorney stated that Governor Walker was not a target. Several courts shut down the baseless investigation on multiple occasions, and there is absolutely no evidence of any wrongdoing.”
In June 2014, the special prosecutor Schmitz said through a lawyer that Walker was not a target of his John Doe investigation. Yet legal documents contained in the John Doe files identify as the anonymous “Movant No. 1” of the investigation “Friends of Scott Walker, the personal campaign committee of Scott Walker.”
David Rivkin, the attorney representing Wisconsin Club for Growth and its director Eric O’Keefe, said in a statement to the Guardian: “As the Wisconsin Supreme Court explained, the John Doe prosecutors made up crimes ‘that do not exist’ under Wisconsin law in order to target ‘citizens who were wholly innocent of any wrongdoing.’ Because the U.S. Supreme Court does not review matters of state law, it should be obvious that the John Doe prosecutors’ appeal is legally frivolous and just another publicity stunt intended to tarnish their targets’ reputations and salvage their own.”
Further insight into the position of the subjects of the investigation – the “movants” as they are technically known – is given in court papers including in the Guardian’s John Doe Files. They criticise the prosecutors for making fundamental mistakes in their reading of campaign finance law. They said that regulatory restrictions on the size and source of donations only applied to groups that were expressly advocating for or against a named political candidate.
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WCfG’s director Eric O’Keefe said in an affidavit that the club’s involvement had stemmed purely from its commitment to “advancing liberty and fiscal responsibility”. Its role in the recall elections was “to educate Wisconsin citizens … The Club paid for advertisements that advanced its pro-liberty, fiscal responsibility, pro-Act 10 beliefs. None of the advertisements expressly urged voters to vote for or against any candidate.”
The movants also complained that in issuing over-broad subpoenas for evidence and conducting pre-dawn raids on the homes of some individuals, the prosecutors strayed well beyond their legitimate powers and into the realm of governmental abuse.
In the course of the John Doe investigation, the prosecutors obtained hundreds of emails and bank records under subpoena. An email sent by Kate Doner, Walker’s fundraiser, in April 2011, summed up the strategy. She said the aim was to raise $9m in six weeks, to pay for political advertising – she called it “issue advocacy efforts” – in the senatorial recall races.
Walker, she said, wants all the ads “run thru one group to ensure correct messaging”, and that group, the governor declared, should be Wisconsin Club for Growth. “The Governor is encouraging all to invest in the Wisconsin Club for Growth [which] can accept Corporate and Personal donations without limitations and no donors disclosure.”
The email trail shows a pattern of behaviour developing: Walker meets up with big corporate donors and encourages them to contribute unlimited sums of money through WCfG in secret, then shortly after the checks start to flow. In June 2011, the emails show, the governor had dinner with the CEO of the largest privately owned trucking company in the US, Schneider National, in the hope of getting him and his peers to donate $250,000.
“Stress the donations to WiCFG are not disclosed and can accept Corporate donations without limits,” Walker’s talking points said.

Two checks are recorded in the John Doe files from Schneider,both made out to WCfG and totalling $65,000.
The Schneider checks, like several others included in the files, were cut on corporate checks in the name of the company itself. It has long been a rule under Wisconsin state law, commonly known as the “corporate ban”, that corporations are not allowed to make direct political donations; they are only allowed to fund third-party groups that have to be fully independent of candidates, or spend money themselves on political TV advertising so long as the expenditure is declared.
Some of those checks are published by the Guardian today, redacted to remove bank numbers. The Guardian has also redacted other documents in the files to remove personal information such as cellphone numbers and private home addresses. Personal email addresses have also been redacted unless they have already been put into the public domain, as in the case of Scott Walker’s own personal email address.
The John Doe files reveal that Walker’s own advisers reached the conclusion that the large sums flowing into WCfG’s coffers from corporate donors was critical to the survival of the Republican senators in their recall elections. In a memo sent to Walker shortly after the elections in August 2011, his former top campaign consultant RJ Johnson looked back on the contest and ruminated that “Our efforts were run by Wisconsin Club for Growth … who coordinated spending through 12 different groups. Most spending by other groups was directly funded by grants from the Club.”
He went on to note that WCfG “raised 12 million dollars and ran a soup to nuts campaign … Polling, focus groups and message development was a collaborative effort.” A mass of micro-targeted mail-outs and TV advertising that was bought with the donations had the impact that they “moved independent swing voters to the GOP candidate”.
Campaigns, corporate contacts and checks
Governor Scott Walker had numerous meetings and phone calls with big corporations and super-wealthy donors over the course of 2011 and 2012 when he and his fellow Republicans in the state senate were facing recall elections. Large donations often followed, with many of the checks being made out to the conservative lobby group Wisconsin Club for Growth, whichprosecutors alleged was working in coordination with Walker’s personal campaign committee.
In person

By phone
Meeting with Walker camp
Donation to WCfG
Who | Title | Date
From | Amount | Date
Dick and Liz Uihlein | Founder, Uline and wife |17 May 2011
Richard Uihlein | $50,000 | 11 Aug 2011
Jon Hammes | Founder, Hammes Company |17 May 2011
HF Securities LLC | $25,000 | 28 Jul 2011
Ted Kellner | CEO, Fiduciary Management |17 May 2011
Ted D. or Mary T. Kellner | $100,000 | 10 Jun 2011
Chris Lofgren | CEO, Schneider National |20 Jun 2011
Schneider Enterprise Resource LLC | $25,000 |12 Jan 2012
Larry Nichols | CEO, Devon Energy | 31 Jan 2012
Devon Energy Production Company, L.P. | $50,000 |3 May 2012
David Herro | Republican donor | 9 Feb 2012
David G. Herro | $6,000 | 11 Feb 2012
David G. Herro | $25,000 | 12 Apr 2012
Dave Hanna | CEO, Atlanticus Holdings |24 Feb 2012
David William Hanna Trust | $50,000 | 27 Feb 2012
Annie Dickerson and Dan Senor | Advisers to Paul Singer | 8 Apr 2011
Paul Singer | $500,000 | 1 Jul 2011
Paul Singer | $250,000 | 8 May 2012
Barry MacLean | CEO, MacLean-Fogg | 11 Mar 2012
Barry and Mary Ann MacLean | CEO, MacLean-Fogg and wife | 20 Apr 2012
MacLean-Fogg Company | $100,000 | 14 May 2012
Donald Trump | Businessman | 3 Apr 2012
Donald J. Trump | $15,000 | 3 Apr 2012
John Roberts | CEO, JB Hunt | 3 Apr 2012
J B Hunt Transport | $10,000 | 5 Jun 2012
Ken Langone | Founder, Home Depot | 10 Apr 2012
Kenneth G. Langone | $15,000 | 10 Apr 2012
Keith Colburn | CEO, CED | 20 Apr 2012
Keith Colburn | $25,000 | 24 Apr 2012
Richard Colburn | Board member, CED |20 Apr 2012
Richard W Colburn | $50,000 | 7 May 2012
Stacy Schusterman | CEO, Samson Investment Company | 27 Apr 2012
Stacy H Schusterman | $10,000 | 1 May 2012
The collaboration set up in 2011 was successful in helping four of the six Republican senators fend off the recall challenge and keep their jobs – allowing them to hang onto their senate majority by one vote. Act 10 was safeguarded for the moment, and in a gesture of gratitude Walker himself was moved to ask an aide shortly after the vote: “Did I send out thank you notes to all of our c(4) donors?”
Supporters of Governor Walker and the outside groups that worked with him, including some prominent media outlets such as the Wall Street Journal, argue that the prosecutors were mistaken in their view that the coordinated activities amounted to a violation of campaign finance law. They point out that nobody in the governor’s circle has been charged with any alleged violation relating to the recall elections, and argue that WCfG and the other outside groups engaged in advocacy over issues related to the elections, which is not subject to restrictions, as opposed to express advocacy on behalf of one political candidate or another.
They also insist, using a complex formula related to the electoral calendar, that Walker only became an official candidate on 9 April 2012. Any actions he and his associates took before then were not subject to restrictions, they argued. To which the prosecutors replied that Walker’s campaign committee had been frantically fundraising and coordinating long before that date.
The John Doe files do contain some evidence that Walker’s senior team attempted to maintain a firewall between candidate and outside interests after that date. On 19 April, the lead adviser to the governor’s recall campaign, Keith Gilkes, replied to a group of businesses wanting to put up billboards supporting Walker’s candidacy: “I cannot have any comment on this – it is an independent expenditure separate from the campaign.”

But the files also contain documents that show that RJ Johnson, a prominent political strategist in Wisconsin who worked closely with Walker for many years, and Johnson’s business partner Deborah Jordahl, were simultaneously arranging political ad spending on TV and radio for both Walker’s campaign and the outside lobbying groups. On 23 April 2012 Johnson emailed Gilkes about a Walker ad that he was putting out for the recall election; a week later Johnson and Jordahl were emailing each other about radio ad spending on behalf of Wisconsin Club for Growth.
That lead the special prosecutor, Francis Schmitz, to conclude that “a review of email reflects that RJ Johnson … was involved in the media buys on behalf of Wisconsin Club for Growth and Friends of Scott Walker.”
Prosecutors alleged that RJ Johnson and Deborah Jordahl were “key operatives advising and directing both FOSW [Friends of Scott Walker]” – the governor’s personal campaign committee – and Wisconsin Club for Growth. Kate Doner and Doner Fundraising created fundraising plans for both entities, they alleged.
Neither RJ Johnson nor Deborah Jordahl immediately responded to requests for comment.
Until the US supreme court indicates later this month whether or not it will intervene in the John Doe case, the question of the legality of the Walker network and the coordination that it involved will hang in the balance. The Wisconsin supreme court was firm on the issue: in its July 2015 ruling, the court castigated Schmitz for instigating a “perfect storm of wrongs that was visited upon the innocent Unnamed Movants and those who dared to associate with them.”
In colourful language, the state’s highest court praised Walker, WCfG and other movants in the investigation (it didn’t name them, but their identities are self-evident from the John Doe files as “brave individuals”. It said they had “played a crucial role in presenting this court with an opportunity to re-endorse its commitment to upholding the fundamental right of each and every citizen to engage in lawful political activity and to do so free from the fear of the tyrannical retribution of arbitrary or capricious governmental prosecution.”
For good measure, the court added: “Let one point be clear: our conclusion today ends this unconstitutional John Doe investigation.”
That point is certainly clear, unless the US supreme court, which has the final say in any matter of constitutional law, decides otherwise. The nation’s highest court has been asked to take the prosecutors’ petition by an alliance of campaign-finance monitoring groups, the Center for Media and Democracy, the Brennan Center and Common Cause.
In their petition, the prosecutors ask the US supreme court justices to consider whether Wisconsin’s top judicial panel was truly objective in reaching its decision to shut them down. “Is the state as a litigant in an adversary proceeding entitled to a hearing before a panel of impartial justices, free of bias?”, the prosecutors ask.
Protecting Walker’s agenda
The John Doe files obtained by the Guardian give clues as to why the prosecutors have raised doubts about impartiality in the state courts. They suggest that two of the conservative judges on Wisconsin’s top court who voted to halt the John Doe investigation may have themselves been intimately connected to the same campaigning network of rightwing politicians, lobbyists and major donors that the prosecutors were investigating.
Take David Prosser. He was one of the four conservative judges who approved the July 2015 ruling that terminated the John Doe investigation, sacked Schmitz from his position as special prosecutor and ordered the destruction of all the documents that had been collected (later that order was softened a little to a demand that the prosecutors hand in all the documents to the court which would keep them secret under seal).
At precisely the same time as the six Republican senators were embroiled in their recall election, Prosser was in his own electoral fight for survival. He was up for re-election in April 2011 and facing a tough challenge from JoAnne Kloppenburg, then Wisconsin’s assistant attorney general. The Prosser election and the recall election were intertwined in that Kloppenburg was attempting to turn her battle against Prosser into a referendum on Governor Walker’santi-union legislation, Act 10.
Among the leaked John Doe files that the Wisconsin supreme court ordered to be suppressed are documents that underline how anxious Walker’s circle were about the threat, as they saw it, to the court’s conservative majority. In an email dated 14 December 2010, WCfG’s director Eric O’Keefe says he’s been in touch with Diane Hendricks, the owner of a roofing company who Forbes describes as America’s richest self-made woman with a personal fortune of $5bn. Hendricks is a well-known funder of rightwing causes and individuals, among them Scott Walker himself who she was to go on to support with $500,000 in 2012 for his own recall election.
Hendricks has also popped up as part of the Donald Trump presidential campaign. Trump recently added her to his inner team of economic advisers, having come under fire for only appointing men.
“I have traded emails with diane hendricks,” O’Keefe says in the email. “She is concerned about the state s. Ct.”
Hendricks was right to be concerned about the state supreme court. Were Prosser to lose the vote, the consequences for Walker and his entire rightwing union-bashing agenda would have been devastating. The four-to-three, conservative-to-liberal, balance of the state’s top court would have been reversed, allowing progressive groups to overturn the reforms through legal challenges.
The correspondence reveals how Walker’s network of associates vowed to go to work to keep Prosser in his job, and thus preserve (or “maintain”) the court’s conservative upper hand. “It would be good for [Hendricks] to talk with us or have her see our plan,”writes RJ Johnson, the then “general consultant” to Governor Walker’s campaign committee. He says that WCfG “is leading the coalition to maintain the court. Thus far I have raised 450kand am looking to raise an additional 409k.”
Johnson name-checks other sources of big money donations that he intends to tap. Leo Leonard of the conservative legal group the Federalist Society was looking for an extra $200,000, he says, and there were hopes for a further $1m from the US Chamber of Commerce.
He wasn’t bragging. As election day approached, money from rightwing lobby groups and corporations began to pour into Wisconsin, unseen by the public, as the message got out that Prosser’s salvation was a necessary step to safeguarding Walker’s radical rightwing reforms and Act 10.
An email from March 2011, just two months after Walker took office as governor and a month before Prosser was tested at the polls, makes the point. It’s from Matt Seaholm, state director of Americans For Prosperity (AFP), the Tea Party-affiliated group founded and funded by the billionaire rightwing Koch brothers.
By now the anxiety surrounding the fate of the Wisconsin supreme court judge, David Prosser, is growing more intense. “This could stop everything that Walker is trying to accomplish and [the unions] know it. Goes without saying, that would be a bad thing,” Seaholm says, writing to Tim Phillips, AFP’s national president.
By 20 March, two weeks before the election, worry is distilling into panic. Brian Fraley of the Wisconsin-based conservative think-tank the MacIver Institute, shoots an impassioned plea for help to what he calls his “group” of like-minded lobbying groups and individuals, forwarded to Walker’s chief of staff and other top advisers in Madison.
“David Prosser is in trouble,” Fraley begins. “And if we lose him, the Walker agenda is toast, as could be the Senate GOP majority and any successes creating a new redistricted map. That’s not hyperbole.”
By the end of the bitter campaign, some $3.5m was spent by outside lobby groups channeling undisclosed corporate money to support Prosser’s re-election – more than eight times the $400,000 the judge was allowed to spend himself. That included $1.5m from WCfG and its offshoot Citizens for a Strong America, and $2m from Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce (WMC), all of it in unaccountable “dark money”.
It worked. Prosser was re-elected, with a squeaky-tight margin of just 7,000 votes and after a fraught recount. The following month, Walker boasted to the Republican kingmaker, Karl Rove, “Club for Growth–Wisconsin was the key to retaining Justice Prosser.
Act 10 was safe.

Both of the two outside groups that channelled the recall election money (WCfG and WMC) are named as “movants” of the John Doe criminal investigation into alleged campaign finance violations that was shut down under the court ruling that Prosser, having won re-election in no small part with their help, joined. Yet when it was suggested to Prosser and a second conservative judge on the court, Justice Michael Gableman, that they should recuse themselves from deliberations in the case, they both refused.
In their petition to the US supreme court, the prosecutors challenge that refusal, arguing that “the special prosecutor did not receive a fair and impartial hearing”. The petitioners go on to discuss Prosser in detail, but the passage is so heavily redacted that their argument is obscured. They do say at one point, quoting constitutional law, that “No jurist ‘can be a judge in his own case or be permitted to try cases where he has an interest in the outcome’.”
Prosser declined to step aside citing a rule change that had been suggested and partially written by WMC itself. The change removed the obligation of supreme court judges in Wisconsin to recuse themselves in cases involving groups that had helped them secure their own elections.
Kurt Bauer, WMC’s president and CEO, declined to comment on the John Doe proceedings. But he stressed that the organization’s “grassroots lobbying activities are conducted carefully within both the letter and the spirit of the state law. WMC strongly disputes any allegations of wrongdoing and will vigorously defend itself against such allegations.”
Bauer added that WMC was an independent group that was not controlled by any candidate or candidate’s campaign. “WMC will not allow itself to be silenced from commenting about public officials and public policy. WMC has long been a proponent of the First Amendment and has a history of fighting to protect its ability to publicly express its views. WMC maintains that commitment to protecting its right to express a point of view on public policy, public officials and candidates for office as well as protecting the confidentiality of its donors.”
In a telephone interview with the Guardian, Prosser, who retired from the state supreme court in July, said that in his view sufficient time had passed between his re-election in 2011 and the judgment in the John Doe case in 2015 for any potential conflict of interest to fade. “If this had been a year after the contributions I think I would have had to withdraw, but it was four years. There was no expectation on the part of recipient or givers that the contributions were designed to effect litigation, and so the contributions raised no questions whatsoever.”
Prosser said that at the time of his re-election he was facing hostile TV ads that falsely tried to link him to Walker’s contentious anti-union legislation Act 10, while he himself was unable directly to solicit large amounts of campaign contributions under new strict fundraising limits imposed by an earlier Democratic-controlled legislature. “I certainly expected Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce sooner or later to put some money into my campaign. Of course I was going to hope that somebody would come in and defend me because I was unable to defend myself.”
But the judge stressed that the only spending involved came from “third parties in which no one on my campaign knew they were coming, didn’t ask for them, and frankly if they hadn’t come I would have been blown out of the water by false advertising”.
Last year Prosser issued a 12-page justification of his refusal to recuse himself from the John Doe case. In it, he made reference to an email from an “Unnamed Petitioner” that discussed raising money for a campaign “to maintain the Court”. The judge said the comment was “little more than evidence of the fact that some targets of the investigation … engaged in expenditures that, under all the circumstances, were very valuable to my campaign.”
Just two weeks before writing that sentence, Judge Prosser had approved the court ruling that ordered the destruction of the John Doe files, among which was to be found the very same email to which he referred. The Guardian now publishes that full email for the first time, and as a result the identity of the anonymous “Unnamed Petitioner” who vowed to “maintain the Court” can be revealed: RJ Johnson, “general consultant” to the governor of Wisconsin, Scott Walker.
Why it matters
So why should we care about today’s fiendishly complicated ways of funding elections? After all, isn’t it a cornerstone of American democracy that everybody should be able to express themselves, under the first amendment right of free speech, after which the American people gets to have the final say at the ballot box?
One area of possible concern raised by the John Doe files chimes with the anger and disgruntlement of voters that Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders have so powerfully articulated in the presidential race. If money channels are set up in secret to allow corporations and the super-wealthy to inject vast amounts of undisclosed cash into political races, the level playing field can be distorted to the benefit of corporate-friendly candidates and to the disadvantage of those representing ordinary voters.
By the end of Scott Walker’s recall election, some $81m overall was spent on the battle – equivalent to $23 for every registered voter in the state. The governor and other Republican groups and committees invested $58.7m, while his Democratic rival and supporters were only able to muster less than half that amount, $21.9m.
“The sheer increased volume of corporate money that has been brought into elections in recent years may go more on one side than the other,” explained Richard Briffault, a professor specialising in campaign finance law at Columbia law school. “Corporations tend to lean more Republican.”

Briffault added that the proliferation in the modern era of outside “social welfare” 501 (c) (4) organisations – the tax-exempt status enjoyed by Wisconsin Club for Growth – also raised the possibility that political donations would go hidden. As tax-exempt groups that are supposed not to be primarily political in their orientation, they do not have to disclose their donors.
“That can be a very good device for hiding the participation of wealthy individuals,” Briffault said.
The other great anxiety addressed by campaign finance regulations is the potential for corruption. The US supreme court has said in rulings going back decades that the first amendment right to free speech is tempered by the need to protect against cash-for-favours. The court has repeatedly stated that elected officials must avoid not only the reality of corruption in their dealings with donors, but also any appearance of corruption, because even a suggestion that dollars might have been exchanged for political favours has the ability to undermine public faith in democracy.
The justices use the legalistic phrase: quid pro quo. Literally that means “this for that”; colloquially, it’s the idea that if you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours.
Paradoxically, one of the most robust statements made by the US supreme court justices about the dangers of real or apparent quid pro quo was made in Citizens United, their highly contentious 2010 ruling. Citizens United extended to for-profit corporations and labor unions the same first amendments rights to engage in elections that had hitherto been enjoyed by individuals.
Corporations were essentially treated for the first time as though they were people. Together with the related ruling, the supreme court paved the way for the creation of Super Pacs that can make unlimited spending on political advertising to help their preferred candidates into office.
What is less well known about Citizens United is that in it, Justice Anthony Kennedy, who wrote the opinion, addressed head-on the fear that unlimited corporate cash would lead to an explosion in real or perceived corruption in the political system. He stated forcefully that there was no danger of corruption if one important condition was met: that corporations kept their distance from the candidates they were supporting and remained fully independent of the candidates’ campaigns.
“By definition,” Kennedy wrote, “an independent expenditure is political speech presented to the electorate that is not coordinated with a candidate.” Such separation was necessary, he added, to avoid the risk that unlimited secret donations are given “as a quid pro quo for improper commitments from the candidate”.
The problem is that the US supreme court has never defined in detail what precisely it means by “coordination” between a candidate’s campaign and outside groups, preferring to leave the fine print to lower courts and state legislatures. Most of the legal emphasis on coordination is on actual spending on political TV and radio ads, while the other end of the money chain – fundraising by candidates from big corporate donors channelled through third-party “dark money” groups that do not have to disclose their sources of income – is largely unregulated. The lack of firm rules has left players in the election game relatively free to act as they wish – one reason why prosecutions are so rarely brought, or if they are, ever completed.
The outcome of this legal fuzziness is clearly evident in Wisconsin, where the John Doe investigation has been halted before it could even reach a decision on whether or not a full criminal inquiry was merited. That remains the legal standing of the case at present, pending the US supreme court’s decision.
But a moral question continues to hang in the air. If, as Kennedy put it, even the appearance of quid quo pro must be avoided to uphold trust in democracy, does the light shone on the modern American way of staging elections by the John Doe files leaked to the Guardian give cause for public concern?
The lead paint mystery
The strange case of lead paint might help answer that question. Lead, as the terrible events of Flint, Michigan, have shown, is a potent poison that can seriously impair the intellectual ability of young children. The Flint health crisis was caused by contaminated water, but another peril to public health is the presence of the toxin in household paint before 1978, when it was banned in the US.
The John Doe files reveal that the billionaire owner of NL Industries, one of America’s leading producers of lead used in paint until the ban, secretly donated $750,000 to Wisconsin Club for Growth at a time when Walker and his fellow Republican senators were fighting their recall elections. Also in the same time-frame, the Republican-controlled senate passed, and Walker signed into law, legal changes that attempted to grant effective immunity to lead manufacturers from any compensation claims for lead paint poisoning.
Since the laws were passed, the federal courts have stepped in and overturnedkey elements of them, leaving NL Industries – or National Lead Company as it was once known – still facing many legal challenges. But the point remains: had the new provisions been allowed to stand, they had the potential to save the company and others like it millions of dollars in damages.
Lawyers working on the lawsuits argue that at stake were the rights of hundreds of children from poor urban areas whose lives were devastated by lead poisoning inhaled from paint when they were growing up. “These children were perfectly innocent. They entered life with all the gifts and health that God gave them and were devastated by this neurotoxin,” said Peter Earle, the principal attorney on 171 cases that are currently ongoing against NL Industries and other former manufacturers of lead paint.
The owner of NL Industries, Harold Simmons, made theundisclosed payments to WCfG in three tranches between April 2011 and January 2012, precisely when the GOP senators and then Walker were facing a fight-to-the-death at the ballot box.
Simmons, who died a year after Walker won his recall election, was a prominent funder of rightwing causes who, along with Donald Trump, was reprimanded by the Federal Election Commission in the 1990s for exceeding legal limits of political campaign contributions. He bankrolled with $3m the notorious Swift Boat smear campaign against John Kerry in the 2004 presidential election that erroneously questioned the current secretary of state’s Vietnam war record.
Republicans in the Wisconsin legislature made an initial attempt to change the law on the liability of lead paint producers shortly after Walker became governor. As the name implied, Act 2 was one of his opening gambits that he rammed through the legislature in less than a month after he came to office in January 2011.
One of Act 2’s key provisions was to tighten tort law to make it much more difficult for lead victims to sue. Under its terms, anyone injured by lead paint who wanted to issue a new lawsuit had to prove that the company they were taking on was responsible for making the specific paint that was on their walls at the time they inhaled the toxin – a practically impossible task given the number of different manufacturers and the layer-upon-layer of paint on the walls of old houses.
The measure in effect granted immunity to NL Industries and other lead producers from any new claims for compensation.
Less than three months after the law was enacted, Simmons arranged for the first and largest check – of $500,000 – to be paid directly from Contran Corporation, his business empire, to Wisconsin Club for Growth. It landed at the time that the six senators were in their recall battles.

Later that year, Walker’s interest in soliciting more money from Simmons for use in his own personal recall election is made plain in an email among the John Doe files dated 14 November 2011. It was written by Keith Gilkes, Walker’s then senior campaign adviser.
The email was sent just one day before opponents of the governor formally triggered the recall procedure, putting Walker’s job on the line. Gilkes rehearsed the names of several wealthy donors to hit up for donations, singling out Simmons and“Sheldon Aldenhouse”, presumably a garbling of the name of Sheldon Adelson, the Las Vegas casino magnate who laterdonated $200,000 to bolster Walker’s recall chances.
The Gilkes memo sets out for Walker some of the “red flags” associated with Simmons and other potential corporate donors “so you are aware of what you might need to defend in terms of contributions from donors when these are disclosed”. Hewarns Walker that Simmons had a controversial track record for reportedly dumping toxic waste in Texas. Gilkes pointed to an article by Dallas Magazine in which the billionaire was dubbed “Dallas’ most evil genius”. The memo also notes that Simmons avoided having to pay millions of dollars in damages to pay for medical treatment for child victims of lead poisoning in Wisconsin’s largest city Milwaukee after an appeals court cleared NL Industries of causing a public nuisance and dismissed a lawsuit brought by the city for $52.6m.
The leaked John Doe files do not record what conclusion Walker and his chief adviser reached about Simmons when they discussed him as a potential donor. What the documents do reveal is that only a month later, a second corporate checkfrom Contran Corporation for $100,000 was sent to WCfG.

The third and final check from Simmons for $150,000, also made out to WCfG, was cut the following month from his own personal account.

At this point, the Wisconsin legislature and Governor Walker made a renewed pitch to change the law to the benefit of NL Industries and other historic manufacturers of lead paint. They had already passed Act 2, but that only covered new claims, leaving the company still facing a mountain of lawsuits that were already ongoing.
So the legislators had another go. In the same month as the third check landed, senate Republicans introduced a bill that would make the effective immunity for former lead paint manufacturers retroactive, thereby scuppering all existing lawsuits.
That attempt failed to pass the Wisconsin legislature. But even then the Republican group did not give up. In 2013, after all the recall elections had been fought and won, partly with the benefit of Harold Simmons’ support, the legislators tried one more time to pass a bill making the immunity retroactive.
They did so with a great deal of encouragement from NL Industries. Earle, the lawyer acting for victims, has discovered under freedom of information laws that the firm employed a professional lobbyists for 330 hours, at a cost of $172,500, to persuade the Wisconsin legislature to pass the retroactive immunity bill.
Another Foia document shows that NL Industries’ lobbyist directly suggested to the Republican leader in the state senate the language that should be added to existing law to make the effective immunity retroactive. The lobbyist encouraged the Republicans to write four words into an amendment that would apply the new immunity protections to all negligence lawsuits “whenever filed or accrued”.
Two months later GOP senators slipped into a budget bill an amendment that contained the same four words proposed by NL Industries: “whenever filed or accrued”. The amendment was introduced after midnight just before the bill was finalized. It can be found by anyone who looks hard enough on page 548 of a 603-page bill that Scott Walker duly signed into law.
NL Industries used the amendment to press for dismissal of the negligence lawsuits it was facing. But the move failed. A federal appeals court stepped in and ruled that such a retroactive granting of corporate immunity was a violation of the US constitution.

It is perhaps worth asking what it would have meant for the victims had the amendment stood. Victims like Yasmine Clark, one of the plaintiffs. She suffered such severe poisoning from lead inhaled from residential paint in her home in Milwaukee that she was hospitalized twice, when she was two years old and again when she was five.
When she was at rock bottom, Clark was found to have a lead level in her blood of 48 micrograms per deciliter and had to undergo chelation therapy to remove the toxins. To give a sense of what that meant, doctors in Flint, Michigan, sounded the alarm after children were found to have levels above 5 micrograms per deciliter from polluted water supplies – about one-tenth of Clark’s concentration.
Clark’s negligence suit, and 170 other cases like hers, are still ongoing against NL Industries and other former manufacturers of lead pigment paint. “They haven’t been able to shut me down,” Earle said.
“Yasmine is a victim of egregiously vindictive behaviour by these corporations,” the lawyer said. “The idea of freedom in the US is that no matter how poor you are you have the opportunity to surmount those disadvantages, and these lead companies took that opportunity away from her.”
As for Scott Walker, Earle said: “The governor has chosen to ignore the children and instead fought tooth and nail for the corporations that did this. I don’t have words to describe that conduct.”
Scott Walker’s campaign did not respond to Guardian questions relating to its relationship with NL Industries. NL Industries itself, and Contran Corporation, did not respond to numerous invitations to comment.
As researchers pore over the Guardian’s leaked John Doe files, seeking light amid the darkness of today’s political process, they may ponder the lead paint mystery. There is no evidence that Wisconsin Republicans led by Scott Walker attempted to change the law as a favour in return for Simmons’ $750,000 donation that had helped some of them win their own elections and stay in office. No charges have ever been brought.
But is there even the slightest appearance of quid pro quo? And if potentially there is, should that be a matter that the American people care about? Give the last words to Donald Trump, the presidential nominee of Scott Walker’s Grand Old Party: “When you give to them, they do whatever the hell you want them to do.”

Posted in Uncategorized

Russia: Freedom of Speech “shrinking” in Putin’s Russia- New Report

Those threatened include Amnesty award-winning journalists

Freedom of speech and assembly is under increasing attack in Russia, said Amnesty International today, as it launched a new report on press freedom just days ahead of forthcoming presidential elections (2 March) in the country.

In its 52-page report, Freedom limited. The right to freedom of expression in the Russian Federation, Amnesty International examines the pernicious effect of arbitrary interpretations of vague legislation and increasing harassment on the freedom of people in Russia to express their opinions and to stand up for their rights.

The report comes after a tumultuous period under Russian President Vladimir Putin that has seen armed police attack peaceful ‘Other Russia’ demonstrators, new laws that have harassed NGOs and their personnel, the unsolved murder of outspoken journalists and the closure of nearly all independent media outlets.

Amnesty International UK Director Kate Allen said:

“The space for freedom of speech is shrinking alarmingly in Russia and it’s now imperative that the Russian authorities reverse this alarming trend.

“Dissent of almost any kind is more and more difficult in Russia – and it’s literally been a matter of life and death in the case of journalists like Anna Politkovskaya.

“We need to see Mr Putin’s successor as president moving decisively to undo some of the damage done to human rights in recent years. Without that, Russia risks sliding deeper into authoritarianism.”

With days to go before Sunday’s presidential elections, Amnesty International is warning that in the past, the run-up to parliamentary and presidential elections has seen heavy clampdowns on freedom of assembly and expression. Opposition demonstrations have been suppressed, while pro-government events have gone ahead without interference.

Amnesty International’s report also expresses serious concern at the heavy burdens placed on NGOs by recent legislation. A recent study has shown that registering an NGO in Russia now takes three times longer than registering a business, while NGOs considered a threat to the government have been targeted with intrusive “reviews” of their work.

Combined with a 2002 law to combat extremist activities, a punitive tax law and Russia’s Criminal Code, the effect has been to intimidate and even silence some independent human rights work and journalism in the country.

In October 2006 the Russian-Chechen Friendship Society, which collected and distributed information about the human rights situation in Chechnya and other parts of Russia, was closed down. The closure was justified on the basis that Stanislav Dmitrievskii, the RCFS director, had been found guilty of inciting racial and ethnic enmity for the “crime” of publishing articles by Chechens advocating a peaceful solution to the conflict in the region. Earlier in 2006 Mr Dmitrievskii and his colleague Oksana Chelysheva, both of whom had received death threats, were awarded an Amnesty International UK media award for their journalism under threat.

Other organisations are now under attack. Golos (Voice), an NGO working to promote fair elections and conducting training for election observers, is involved in a legal battle to prevent closure of its Samara branch, while Rainbow House, a LGBTI rights NGO, has recently been denied registration.

Amnesty International is urging the Russian authorities to reform the NGO law, refrain from using laws like the “Extremist” law to clamp down on civil society organisations and independent media, and is also requesting that the Russian authorities instruct law-enforcement bodies on better policing of public meetings in line with the right to freedom of assembly.

It is also seeking prompt and impartial investigations into any reported human rights abuses against civil society activists, journalists and members of the political opposition.

Amnesty International also recently reported on infringements of the right to freedom of expression in the North Caucasus in a separate November 2007 report, Russian Federation: Human rights defenders at risk in the North Caucasus .

Freedom limited. The right to freedom of expression in the Russian Federation /em>

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