Watch: Explosive Revelations of Benghazi

watchWashington (CNN) A former investigator with the House Select Committee on Benghazi is accusing the Republican-led panel of carrying out a politically motivated investigation targeting former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton instead of the thorough and objective fact-finding mission it was set up to pursue.

Maj. Bradley Podliska, an intelligence officer in the Air Force Reserve who describes himself as a conservative Republican, told CNN that the committee trained its sights almost exclusively on Clinton after the revelation last March that she used a private email server during her tenure as secretary of state. That new focus flipped a broad-based probe of the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi on September 11, 2012, into what Podliska described as “a partisan investigation.”

Podliska, who was fired after nearly 10 months as an investigator for the Republican majority, is now preparing to file a lawsuit against the select committee next month, alleging that he lost his job in part because he resisted pressure to focus his investigative efforts solely on the State Department and Clinton’s role surrounding the Benghazi attack. He also alleges he was fired because he took leave from the committee to fulfill his military service obligations, which would be an unlawful firing.

“I knew that we needed to get to the truth to the victims’ families. And the victims’ families, they deserve the truth — whether or not Hillary Clinton was involved, whether or not other individuals were involved,” he told CNN in an exclusive TV interview that aired Sunday on “State of the Union.” “The victims’ families are not going to get the truth and that’s the most unfortunate thing about this.”

Podliska told CNN that the committee, which has spent $4.6 million so far and is chaired by Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-South Carolina, pulled resources away from probes of other individuals and agencies to focus almost exclusively on Clinton and the State Department she helmed for four years. Clinton will testify before the committee for the first time Oct. 22, and the committee is set to release the findings of its investigation next year, in the heat of the presidential race.

Podliska alleges that the committee’s staff director told him he was fired for three reasons: using work email to send a social invitation to colleagues, assigning an “unauthorized project” to an intern, and allegedly putting classified information on an unclassified system. Podliska, an intelligence officer who was hired for his expertise with the intelligence community, strongly denies the latter. He also disputes the legitimacy of the other two reasons cited to him by the committee, in particular assigning any “unauthorized projects” to interns.

witch-huntCommittee denies all allegations

Gowdy flatly denied the claims in a statement Sunday, in which he repeatedly said Podliska never mentioned his concerns regarding the investigation. Gowdy again defended the mission of the committee as “the final, definitive accounting” of the Benghazi terrorist attacks and denied that its members were focusing on the former secretary of state.

“Because I do not know him, and cannot recall ever speaking to him, I can say for certain he was never instructed by me to focus on Clinton, nor would he be a credible person to speak on my behalf,” Gowdy said in the statement. “I am equally confident his supervisor, General (Retired Lt. Gen. Dana) Chipman, did not direct him to focus on Clinton.”

Gowdy also criticized CNN’s reporting of Podliska’s claims.

“Had CNN contacted the Committee regarding its interview with this staffer before it rushed to air his sensationalistic and fabulist claims, it could have fully questioned him about his unsubstantiated claims. But that is the difference between journalism as practiced by CNN, and the fact-centric investigation being conducted by this Committee,” Gowdy said in the statement.

CNN refuted those allegations in a statement Sunday.

“We categorically deny Benghazi Committee Chairman Trey Gowdy’s statement about CNN,” a network spokesperson said. “We reached out to the committee for a response prior to publishing or broadcasting, which the committee provided. That response was included in our reporting. In addition, Chairman Gowdy was invited to discuss this on CNN and declined. Chairman Gowdy is wrong.”

A committee spokesperson “vigorously” denied Podliska’s allegations about why he was fired and defended the objectivity of the panel’s investigation.

“We are confident that the facts and evidence give no support to the wild imagination fueling these and any future allegations, and the Committee will vigorously defend itself against such allegations. The Committee will not be blackmailed into a monetary settlement for a false allegation made by a properly terminated former employee,” the committee spokesperson, who declined to be named, told CNN in a statement.

The committee statement also accused Podliska of his own bias in his work on the committee, a claim the former staffer’s lawyer firmly denied.

labprolib-letter
lab-prolibThe statement added that Podliska had never previously accused the committee of conducting a biased investigation targeting Clinton, although Podliska said he repeatedly made the case to his superiors that the committee’s work should be more all-encompassing.

Podliska said he decided to come forward because the committee’s skewed focus is detracting from the objective of uncovering the truth surrounding the deaths of four Americans, including U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens. “What happened was wrong,” Podliska said.

“I’m scared. I’m nervous. I know that this is, you know, I’m going up against powerful people in Washington. But at the end of the day I need to live with myself,” he said. “I told my wife, I will view myself as a coward if I don’t do the right thing here.”

He insisted that his claim is not politically motivated, explaining that he has long been a conservative Republican — “more on the libertarian side” — and plans to vote for the GOP nominee in 2016.

“I am going to vote for the Republican nominee in 2016. I do not support Hillary Clinton for president,” he said.

The accusation comes on the heels of House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy’s controversial comments linking the Benghazi committee’s efforts to a downward slide in Clinton’s poll numbers — an admission that McCarthy later walked back but still helped sink his bid to become House speaker.

“Everybody thought Hillary Clinton was unbeatable, right?” McCarthy said less than two weeks ago. “But we put together a Benghazi special committee, a select committee. What are her numbers today? Her numbers are dropping. Why? Because she’s untrustable. But no one would have known any of that had happened had we not fought.”

Democrats have seized on that gaffe as vindication that the committee was always a partisan witch-hunt aimed at sinking Clinton’s presidential prospects.

PLANNED PARENTHOOD: NO ILLEGAL FINDINGS. Another BS scandal fabricated by the GOP

planned-parenhood

WASHINGTON — Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah), chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, said Thursday that the GOP’s investigation into Planned Parenthood’s use of federal funds hasn’t turned up anything.

“Did I look at the finances and have a hearing specifically as to the revenue portion and how they spend? Yes. Was there any wrongdoing? I didn’t find any,” he said during a Judiciary Committee hearing on the family planning provider.

Chaffetz, a candidate for House speaker, grilled Planned Parenthood president Cecile Richards during a five-hour hearing last week. He questioned her salary, asked about the organization’s expenses and revenues, and pressed Richards on why the group had revenue of $127 million last year if it’s a nonprofit. (Nonprofits put their revenues back into their programs.)

But after all that, he concluded that Planned Parenthood isn’t doing anything sketchy with its money. “Did we find any wrongdoing? The answer was no,” Chaffetz said.

His concession will be music to Democrats’ ears, who have long accused Republicans of trying to sink Planned Parenthood because they oppose abortion. The women’s health care provider gets about $500 million a year in federal funds, but federal law prohibits any of it from being used for abortions. Instead, the money is used to subsidize a range of health care services for low-income women, including birth control, cancer screenings and tests for sexually transmitted diseases.

Republicans have been ramping up their attacks on Planned Parenthood after anti-abortion activists released heavily edited undercover videos a few months ago that purported to show the family planning provider selling fetal tissue after abortions. Multiple state investigations and a federal investigation have so far been unable to find any facts to support that claim.

Planned Parenthood, which legally accepts money to cover the costs of transporting donated fetal tissue to medical researchers, has slammed the videos as “deceptively edited” and denies any wrongdoing.

Chaffetz said Thursday that he still supports digging into Planned Parenthood’s activities, even if they’re using their money appropriately.

“I think there will continue to be investigations,” he said.

MUST WATCH: Joe Biden — “My Redemption”

my-receptionThis is the first television ad released by the Draft Biden 2016 Super-PAC, asking Joe Biden to run for President in 2016. The ad highlights how Joe has overcome personal tragedies and his vision for the future in his own words: “We are on the cusp of some of the most astonishing breakthroughs in the history of mankind – scientific, technological, socially. It will be up to you in this changing world to translate those unprecedented capabilities into a greater measure of happiness and meaning, not just for yourself but for the world around you.”

Joe, run. Our country needs you.

Please contribute to the Draft Biden movement today. We need every dollar we can raise to expand the reach and frequency of this ad. Visit: https://secure.actblue.com/contribute…

You can find out more information about Draft Biden 2016 and get involved at: https://draftbiden2016.com/

Photos: Getty, Corbis, AP, Wilmington News Journal, Jim Harrison

SOURCE

Hilarious Hillary Clinton on SNL: “Donald Trump? Isn’t he the one that’s like, ‘Uh, you’re all losers’?”

Saturday night during the 41st season premiere of Saturday Night Live, Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton made an appearance and starred alongside her now two-season impersonator Kate McKinnon. She was down to be in on the jokes about herself, but she also made sure to get in a joke about Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump. And nailed it.

Hillary Clinton played an all-too-cool bartender named Val who chatted with a distressed presidential candidate, Hillary Rodham Clinton, played by McKinnon.

After taking a few jabs at Clinton’s late embrace of gay marriage and her stance against the Keystone pipeline, McKinnon (as Clinton) set up the moment: “I’m just so darn bummed. All anyone wants to talk about is Donald Trump.”

Val, aka the real Hillary Clinton, impersonated the Republican presidential candidate and said, “Donald Trump? Isn’t he the one that’s like, ‘Uh, you’re all losers’?”

When Val then asked,“You think he’ll win the primaries?” pretend Clinton/McKinnon responded: “He must. I want to be the one take him down. I will destroy him and I will mount his hair in the oval office.”

This marks the second time the Democratic candidate imitated Trump. She took a jab at the Republican nominee with an imitation on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon on September 16.

Toward the end of the SNL skit, pretend Clinton/McKinnon said, “I wish you could be president.” Val replied with a “me too.”

‘Thoughts and Prayers Are Not Enough’: Obama on Oregon Shooting

'Thoughts-and-Prayers-Are-Not-Enough'--Obama-on-Oregon-Shooting-

Complete remarks by President Barack Obama after at least 10 people were killed at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Oregon:

There’s been another mass shooting in America, this time in a community college in Oregon. That means there are more American families, moms, dads, children, whose lives have been changed forever.

That means another community stunned with grief and communities across the country forced to relive their own anguish and parents across the country who are scared because they know it might have been their families or their children.

I’ve been to Roseburg, Oregon. They’re really good people there. I want to thank all the first responders whose bravery likely saved lives today. Federal law enforcement has been on the scene in a supporting role, and we’ve offered to stay and help as much as Roseburg needs for as long as they need.

In the coming days, we’ll learn about the victims — young men and women who were studying and learning and working hard with their lives set on the future, their dreams on what they can make of their lives. And Americans will wrap everyone grieving with prayer and our love.

But, as I said just a few months ago and I said a few months before and I said each time we see one of these mass shootings, our thoughts and prayers are not enough. It’s not enough. It does not capture the heartache and grief and anger that we should feel, and it does nothing to prevent this carnage from being inflicted some place else in America next week or a couple months from now.

So far in 2015, we’ve had 274 days and 294 mass shootings

So far in 2015, we’ve had 274 days and 294 mass shootings

We don’t yet know why this individual did what he did, and it’s fair to say that anybody who does this has a sickness in their minds regardless of what they think their motivations may be.

But we are not the only country on Earth that has people with mental illnesses or want to do harm to other people. We are the only advanced country on Earth that sees these kind of mass shootings every few months.

You know, earlier this year, I answered a question in an interview by saying the United States of America is the one advanced nation on Earth in which we do not have sufficient common-sense gun-safety laws even in the face of repeated mass killings. And later that day, there was a mass shooting in a movie theater in Lafayette, Louisiana. That day!

Somehow, this has become routine. The reporting is routine. My response here at this podium ends up being routine. The conversation in the aftermath of it — we’ve become numb to this.

We talked about this after Columbine and Blacksburg, after Tucson, after Newtown, after Aurora, after Charleston. It cannot be this easy for somebody who wants to inflict harm on other people to get his or her hands on a gun.

And what’s become routine, of course, is the response to those who oppose any kind of common-sense gun legislation.

Right now, I can imagine the press releases being cranked out: “We need more guns,” they’ll argue, “fewer gun safety laws.” Does anybody really believe that?

There are scores of responsible gun owners in this country — they know that’s not true. We know because of polling that says the majority of Americans know we should be changing these laws, including the majority of responsible, law-abiding gun owners.

There is a gun for roughly every man, woman and child in America. So how can you, with a straight face, make the argument that more guns will make us safer?

We know that states with the most gun laws tend to have the fewest gun deaths. So the notion gun laws don’t work or just will make it harder for law-abiding citizens and criminals will still get their guns, it’s not borne out by the evidence.

We know that other countries in response to one mass shooting have been able to craft laws that almost eliminate mass shootings. Friends of ours, allies of ours — Great Britain, Australia — countries like ours. So, we know there are ways to prevent it.

And of course, what’s also routine is that somebody somewhere will comment and say, “Obama politicized this issue.”

This is something we should politicize. It is relevant to our common life together, to the body politic.

I would ask news organizations — because I won’t put these facts forward — have news organizations tally up the number of Americans who have been killed in terrorist attacks in last decade and the number of Americans who’ve been killed by gun violence. And post those side by side on your news reports. This wont be information coming from me. It will be coming from you.

We spend over $1 trillion and pass countless laws and devote entire agencies to preventing terrorist attacks on our soil, and rightfully so. And yet we have a Congress that explicitly blocks us from collecting data on how we could potentially reduce gun deaths. How can that be?

This is a political choice that we make — to allow this to happen every few months in America.

We collectively are answerable to those families who lose their loved ones because of our inaction.

When Americans are killed in mine disasters, we work to make mines safer. When Americans are killed in floods and hurricanes, we make communities safer. When roads are unsafe, we fix them, to reduce auto fatalities. We have seat-belt laws because we know it saves lives.

The notion that gun violence is somehow different — that our freedom and our Constitution prohibits any modest regulation of how we use a deadly weapon when there are law-abiding gun owners all across the country who could hunt and do everything they do under such regulations — it doesn’t make sense.

So, tonight — as those of us who are lucky enough to hug our kids a little closer are thinking about the families who aren’t so fortunate — I’d ask the American people to think about how they can get our government to change these laws and to save lives and to let young people grow up.

And that will require a change of politics on this issue, and it will require that the American people, individually, whether you are a Democrat or a Republican or an independent, when you decide to vote for somebody, are making a determination as to whether this cause of continuing death for innocent people should be a relevant factor in your decision.

If you think this is a problem, you then should expect your elected officials to reflect your views.

And I would particularly ask America’s gun owners who are using those guns properly, safely — to hunt, to sport, for protecting their families — to think about whether your views are properly being represented by the organization that suggests it’s speaking for you.

And each time this happens, I’m going to bring this up. Each time this happens, I am going to say that we can actually do something about it, but we’re going to have to change our laws.

And this is not something I can do by myself. I’ve got to have a Congress and I’ve got to have state legislators and governors who are willing to work with me on this.

I hope and pray that I don’t have to come out again, during my tenure as president, to offer my condolences to families in these circumstances. But based on my experience as president, I can’t guarantee that, and that’s terrible to say.

And it can change.

May God bless the memories of those who were killed today. May he bring comfort to their families and courage to the injured as they fight their way back. And may he give us the strength to come together and find the courage to change.

Thank you.

OBAMA ANGRY AND FRUSTRATED OVER MASS SHOOTINGS

Obama on Oregon College Shooting The president delivered remarks from the White House after a gunman opened fire at Umpqua Community College
Over six years, as he has had to address numerous mass shootings, President Obama’s statements have grown angrier and more beleaguered.

WASHINGTON —  President Obama’s rage about gun massacres, building for years, spilled out Thursday night as he acknowledged his own powerlessness to prevent another tragedy and pleaded with voters to force change themselves.

“So tonight, as those of us who are lucky enough to hug our kids a little closer are thinking about the families who aren’t so fortunate,” the president said in the James S. Brady Press Briefing Room, named for a man severely wounded by a would-be assassin’s bullet, “I’d ask the American people to think about how they can get our government to change these laws, and to save these lives and let these people grow up.”

Mr. Obama admitted that he was unable to do anything to prevent such tragedies by himself. And he did little to try to hide the anger and frustration that have deepened as he returns again and again to the White House lectern in the wake of a deadly mass shooting.

Mr. Obama took a veiled swipe at the National Rifle Association, which has successfully fought most limits on gun use and manufacture and has pushed through legislation in many states making gun ownership far easier. “And I would particularly ask America’s gun owners who are using those guns properly, safely, to hunt for sport, for protecting their families, to think about whether your views are being properly represented by the organization that suggests it is speaking for you,” he said.

Andrew Arulanandam, a spokesman for the N.R.A., declined to respond to Mr. Obama, saying that it was the organization’s policy “not to comment until all the facts are known.” Wayne LaPierre, the organization’s executive vice president, declared after the school shootings in Newtown, Conn., “The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.”

On Thursday night, Mr. Obama said that given the frequency of mass shootings, people had “become numb to this.”

“And what’s become routine, of course, is the response of those who oppose any kind of common-sense gun legislation,” Mr. Obama said. “Right now, I can imagine the press releases being cranked out. ‘We need more guns,’ they’ll argue. ‘Fewer gun-safety laws.’ ”

“Does anybody really believe that?” he asked, his voice rising.

Mr. Obama sought to answer that question years ago. After the massacre in 2012 of 20 children and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, he promised to use all the powers of his office to push for legislative changes that polls suggest were widely supported.

“Are we really prepared to say that we’re powerless in the face of such carnage, that the politics are too hard?” Mr. Obama asked then.

Less than a month later, Mr. Obama unveiled a proposal to overhaul the nation’s gun laws that would have included universal background checks and a spate of other measures he deemed “concrete steps” aimed at preventing more mass shootings.

“This is how we will be judged,” he said in January 2013.

The judgment came just a few months later, as lawmakers from both parties forcefully rejected the centerpiece of the president’s gun control agenda. At the time, and also visibly upset, Mr. Obama stood in the Rose Garden to denounce the opponents of new gun measures even as he acknowledged the futility of his efforts.

He called it a “shameful day” in Washington and promised that eventually, “I believe we’re going to be able to get this done.” In a Twitter message on Thursday, Dan Pfeiffer, who was a senior adviser to Mr. Obama until this year, remembered that afternoon as “the most frustrated I ever saw President Obama in 8 years.”

With each massacre since, Mr. Obama has been forced to help the country grieve, as presidents are called upon to do in national tragedies. Thirteen dead at the Washington Navy Yard; three dead at Fort Hood in Killeen, Tex.; nine dead in a church in Charleston, S.C.

And with each massacre, his sense of powerless anger and frustration has built.

But what was different this time was that the president did not announce any new initiative or effort to fix the problem. Instead, he pointed out that there is “a gun for roughly every man, woman and child in America. So how can you with a straight face make the argument that more guns will make us safer?”

States and countries that have gun limits have far fewer gun deaths than those that do not, he said. “So we know there are ways to prevent it,” he said.

He pointed out that the government responds to mine disasters by insisting on safer mines, to weather disasters by improving community safety, and to highway deaths by fixing roads and insisting that drivers wear seatbelts.

But guns are seen as so different that Congress has forbidden the federal government even to collect certain statistics, he said. He rejected the notion that the Constitution forbids even modest regulation of deadly weapons.

He also asked news organizations to tally the number of Americans killed by terrorist attacks over the last 10 years and compare that with the number killed by domestic gun violence. And he implicitly compared the trillions of dollars spent and multiple agencies devoted to preventing the relatively few terrorism deaths with the minimal effort and money spent to prevent the far greater number of gun deaths.

And then he challenged voters to make gun safety a priority.

“If you think this is a problem, then you should expect your elected officials to reflect your views,” he said.

Mr. Obama has long been seen as fairly unemotional, even distant. His speeches since being elected in 2008 have sometimes seemed like lectures from the constitutional law professor he once was. But he is also a father, one who insists on eating dinner with his daughters.

Shootings, particularly at schools, have seemingly brought together his roles as president and father in ways nothing else has. And that combination brings forth the kind of raw emotion he almost never betrays.

His eulogy in June for the victims of the massacre in Charleston, for instance, was widely considered one of his most impassioned, and included singing the opening refrain of “Amazing Grace.”

Thursday night, he had little of the soaring language and certainly none of the hope he expressed in Charleston. But he promised to continue hammering away at this issue for the rest of his presidency.

“Each time this happens, I’m going to bring this up,” he said. “Each time this happens, I’m going to say that we can actually do something about it.”

SOURCE

Tragic List: The Deadliest Mass Shootings in U.S. History

While information is still coming in, it already seems clear that the deadly massacre at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Oregon, on Thursday morning will have several victims. It thus becomes the latest in a tragic list mass shootings that have happened in the United States, at schools and elsewhere. 

Below are some of the shootings in America that have claimed the most lives. 

32 killed 

On April 16, 2007, 23-year-old Virginia Tech student Seung-Hui Cho shot 32 people to death on the Blacksburg, Virginia, campus before killing himself. The dead included 27 students and five faculty members. Another 17 people were injured. Days after the shooting, the worst school shooting in the nation’s history, NBC News received a package from Cho that contained a video of him ranting about rich “brats” and complaining about being bullied. 

Image: Students visit a makeshift memorial

Students visit a makeshift memorial set up on the campus of Virginia Tech for the students and faculty that lost their lives in the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history on April 18, 2007 in Blacksburg, Va. Evan Vucci / AP File

27 killed 

On Dec. 14, 2012, 20-year-old Adam Lanza killed 28 people, including himself, his mother, 20 elementary school kids and six school staff and faculty at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. Lanza suffered from extreme mental health issues that weren’t treated, and was preoccupied with violence, a report from state officials found. He also had easy access to weapons, the report said. 

23 killed 

On Oct. 16, 1991, A 35-year-old named George Hennard crashed his pickup through Luby’s Cafeteria, a packed restaurant in Killeen, Texas. He shot and killed 23 people before shooting and killing himself. Twenty-seven others were wounded. The Texas massacre is the deadliest shooting to not happen at a school in U.S. history. According to a former roommate, Hennard “hated blacks, Hispanics, gays. He said women were snakes.” 

21 killed 

On July 18, 1984, James Huberty, a 41-year-old former security guard who had lost his job, opened fire at a McDonald’s in San Ysidro, California, killing 21 employees and customers, including children. A police sniper killed him an hour after he started shooting. 

RELATED: Mass Killings Inspire Copycats, Study Finds

18 killed 

On Aug. 1, 1966, former U.S. Marine Charles Joseph Whitman, 25, killed his mother and wife, then went on top of a tower at University of Texas at Austin and killed 16 others. He also wounded at least 30. Whitman had complained of physical and mental health issues before the attack. He was then shot by a police officer. An autopsy after his death revealed he had a brain tumor, but it was not clear whether that had affected his actions. 

14 killed 

On Aug. 20, 1986, postman Patrick Henry Sherill killed 14 postal workers in Edmond, Oklahoma, and then killed himself with a shot to the head. The rampage came a week after two supervisors reprimanded him for lousy performance. 

13 killed 

On April 20, 1999, students Eric Harris, 18, and Dylan Klebold, 17, killed 12 other students and a teacher at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado. Two dozen were injured. They then killed themselves in the school’s library. In journal entries, the high school seniors had written about a desire to imitate events such as the Oklahoma City bombing. 

13 killed 

On Nov. 5, 2009, Mad. Nidal Malik Hasan, 39, killed 13 people and injured 32 others at Fort Hood, Texas. The massacre prompted the Army to come up with a list of 78 recommendations for Fort Hood to identify the potential for violent behavior among its soldiers. Hasan has been sentenced to death. 

13 killed 

On April 3, 2009, in Binghamton, New York, 41-year-old Jiverly Wong, an immigrant, killed 13 people and injured four others at an immigrant services center before killing himself. President Obama called the shootings “an act of senseless violence.” 

13 killed 

On Feb. 18, 1983, three robbers at the Wah Mee gambling club in Seattle killed 13 people. Kwan Fai Mak and Benjamin Ng were convicted of murder later that year and are serving life sentences; Wai-Chu Ng was deported to Hong Kong last year. 

12 killed 

On July 20, 2012, 24-year-old James Holmes sprayed bullets on a midnight screening of the new Batman movie at a theater in Aurora, Colorado. In addition to the 12 killed, 58 were wounded. Defense attorneys tried unsuccessfully to argue that he was insane at the time of the attack; he was sentenced to life in prison in August. 

12 killed 

On Sept. 16, 2013, a 34-year-old named Aaron Alexis opened fire inside the Washington Navy Yard, killing 12. The former Navy reservist died in a gun battle with police.

SOURCE

BOMBSHELL: GOP ADMITS TO CREATING BENGHAZI SCANDAL

WATCH the bombshell GOP member Kevin McCarthy’s drops during an interview with Sean Hannity, Fox News, skip to 3:25 minutes, source.

Kevin McCarthy’s silver-plated gift to Hillary Clinton: What his Benghazi blunder reveals about the GOP’s warped priorities

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy is, at this moment, the Democrats’ best pal. He went on Fox News last night to talk up his campaign to replace outgoing House Speaker John Boehner, and he ended up saying out loud and on television the one thing Republicans aren’t supposed to say about the House Select Committee on Benghazi: it’s all about taking down Hillary Clinton:

This is an archetypal example of the Kinsley Gaffe: a politician accidentally uttering a truthful statement. Anyone who’s paid even cursory attention to the GOP’s treatment of the Benghazi attacks will likely have already concluded that the party’s interest in the matter is linked to Hillary Clinton’s presidential ambitions. But it’s still bracing to see one of the most powerful Republicans in Washington come right out and brag about how he and his colleagues set up a taxpayer-funded investigation to damage the political prospects of the opposition party’s leading presidential candidate. It’s downright scandalous, and precisely the sort of political corruption that Republicans argue is at the heart of the Obama administration’s response to Benghazi.

No less remarkable is the fact that McCarthy offered up the politicized Benghazi investigation as an “example” of how he would conduct business as Speaker of the House. He just put it right out there and told Sean Hannity that the McCarthy Congress will be a series of investigations aimed at hurting the Democrats’ chances of electoral success.

He’s also impugned what little credibility Benghazi committee chair Trey Gowdy enjoys, and he’s given critics of the committee all the reason they need to trash the committee as a disreputable and untrustworthy exercise in partisan scapegoating. One Democratic member of the Benghazi committee had already called for the investigation to be shut down, and other Democrats are doing the same in the aftermath of McCarthy’s remarks.

bombThe Benghazi committee has always been wrapped in obvious fictions that provide its members and supporters with the barest minimum of plausible deniability as to its true purpose. We were told that the committee was necessary because dang it, we still just don’t know what happened in Benghazi (just ignore the half-dozen or so official investigations that preceded it). Committee chair Trey Gowdy frequently asserts that he is
concerned only with information that is relevant to the committee’s mandate (as he’s expanded the investigation to areas that, by his own admission, are outside the committee’s purview and have little or nothing to do with the Benghazi attacks). Gowdy also insists that he’s running a professional investigation that has no interest in partisan politics and is committed to learning the truth about the events that led to the deaths of four Americans (as it leaks at every given opportunity, feeding often misleading information about Clinton’s emails to reporters).

McCarthy’s candor has robbed the committee of its already specious claims to credibility. And he’s handed Clinton a powerful weapon to use against her critics. The Clintons’ political history is defined in part by the self-destructive behavior of Republicans during the 1990s, who turned the congressional oversight process into a nakedly political enterprise to destroy Bill and Hillary. With the likely next Speaker of the House boasting about the Benghazi committee’s political agenda and holding it up as an example of how he’d run things in his chamber, Hillary can say it’s déjà vu all over again, and you’d be hard-pressed to disagree with her.

 


Warning: Missing argument 2 for ivan_embed_html() in /homepages/6/d590702398/htdocs/clickandbuilds/LABProLib/wp-content/themes/august/framework/helpers/post-formats.php on line 387

WARREN: Racial Injustice In America & #BlackLivesMatter

warren

BOSTON, MA – United States Senator Elizabeth Warren delivered remarks today at the Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the United States Senate, as part of the Institute’s “Getting to the Point” speaker series. A PDF copy of the remarks is available here, and the full text is below, as prepared for delivery:

Senator Elizabeth Warren
Remarks at the Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the United States Senate
September 27, 2015

***As Prepared for Delivery***

Thank you. I’m grateful to be here at the Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the United States Senate. This place is a fitting tribute to our champion, Ted Kennedy. A man of courage, compassion, and commitment, who taught us what public service is all about. Not a day goes by that we don’t miss his passion, his enthusiasm, and – most of all – his dedication to all of our working families.

As the Senior Senator from Massachusetts, I have the great honor of sitting at Senator Kennedy’s desk – right over there. The original, back in Washington, is a little more dented and scratched, but it has something very special in the drawer. Ted Kennedy carved his name in it. When I sit at my desk, sometimes when I’m waiting to speak or to vote, I open the drawer and run my thumb across his name. It reminds me of the high expectations of the people of Massachusetts, and I try, every day, to live up to the legacy he left behind.

Senator Kennedy took office just over fifty years ago, in the midst of one of the great moral and political debates in American history – the debate over the Civil Rights Act. In his first speech on the floor of the Senate, just four months after his brother’s assassination, he stood up to support equal rights for all Americans. He ended that speech with a powerful personal message about what the civil rights struggle meant to the late President Kennedy:

His heart and soul are in this bill. If his life and death had a meaning, it was that we should not hate but love one another; we should use our powers not to create conditions of oppression that lead to violence, but conditions of freedom that lead to peace.

“We should use our powers not to create conditions of oppression that lead to violence, but conditions of freedom that lead to peace.” That’s what I’d like to talk about today.

A half-century ago, when Senator Kennedy spoke of the Civil Rights Act, entrenched, racist power did everything it could to sustain oppression of African-Americans, and violence was its first tool. Lynchings, terrorism, intimidation. The 16th Street Baptist Church. Medgar Evers. Emmett Till. When Alabama Governor George Wallace stood before the nation and declared during his 1963 inaugural address that he would defend “segregation now, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever,” he made clear that the state would stand with those who used violence.

But violence was not the only tool. African Americans were effectively stripped of citizenship when they were denied the right to vote. The tools varied-literacy tests, poll taxes, moral character tests, grandfather clauses-but the results were the same. They were denied basic rights of citizenship and the chance to participate in self-government.

The third tool of oppression was to deliberately deny millions of African Americans economic opportunities solely because of the color of their skin.

I have often spoken about how America built a great middle class. Coming out of the Great Depression, from the 1930s to the late 1970s, as GDP went up, wages went up for most Americans. But there’s a dark underbelly to that story. While median family income in America was growing – for both white and African-American families – African-American incomes were only a fraction of white incomes. In the mid-1950s, the median income for African-American families was just a little more than half the income of white families.

And the problem went beyond just income. Look at housing: For most middle class families in America, buying a home is the number one way to build wealth. It’s a retirement plan-pay off the house and live on Social Security. An investment option-mortgage the house to start a business. It’s a way to help the kids get through college, a safety net if someone gets really sick, and, if all goes well and Grandma and Grandpa can hang on to the house until they die, it’s a way to give the next generation a boost-extra money to move the family up the ladder.

For much of the 20th Century, that’s how it worked for generation after generation of white Americans – but not black Americans. Entire legal structures were created to prevent African Americans from building economic security through home ownership. Legally-enforced segregation. Restrictive deeds. Redlining. Land contracts. Coming out of the Great Depression, America built a middle class, but systematic discrimination kept most African-American families from being part of it.

State-sanctioned discrimination wasn’t limited to homeownership. The government enforced discrimination in public accommodations, discrimination in schools, discrimination in credit-it was a long and spiteful list.

Economic justice is not – and has never been – sufficient to ensure racial justice. Owning a home won’t stop someone from burning a cross on the front lawn. Admission to a school won’t prevent a beating on the sidewalk outside. But when Dr. King led hundreds of thousands of people to march on Washington, he talked about an end to violence, access to voting AND economic opportunity. As Dr. King once wrote, “the inseparable twin of racial injustice was economic injustice.”

The tools of oppression were woven together, and the civil rights struggle was fought against that oppression wherever it was found – against violence, against the denial of voting rights, and against economic injustice.

The battles were bitter and sometimes deadly. Firehoses turned on peaceful protestors. Police officers setting their dogs to attack black students. Bloody Sunday at the Edmund Pettus Bridge.

But the civil rights movement pushed this country in a new direction.

• The federal government cracked down on state-sponsored violence. Presidents Eisenhower, Kennedy and Johnson all called out the National Guard, and, in doing so, declared that everyone had a right to equal protection under the law, guaranteed by the Constitution. Congress protected the rights of all citizens to vote with the Voting Rights Act.

• And economic opportunities opened up when Congress passed civil rights laws that protected equal access to employment, public accommodations, and housing.

In the same way that the tools of oppression were woven together, a package of civil rights laws came together to protect black people from violence, to ensure access to the ballot box, and to build economic opportunity. Or to say it another way, these laws made three powerful declarations: Black lives matter. Black citizens matter. Black families matter.

Fifty years later, we have made real progress toward creating the conditions of freedom-but we have not made ENOUGH progress.

Fifty years later, violence against African Americans has not disappeared. Consider law enforcement. The vast majority of police officers sign up so they can protect their communities. They are part of an honorable profession that takes risks every day to keep us safe. We know that. But we also know – and say – the names of those whose lives have been treated with callous indifference. Sandra Bland. Freddie Gray. Michael Brown. We’ve seen sickening videos of unarmed, black Americans cut down by bullets, choked to death while gasping for air – their lives ended by those who are sworn to protect them. Peaceful, unarmed protestors have been beaten. Journalists have been jailed. And, in some cities, white vigilantes with weapons freely walk the streets. And it’s not just about law enforcement either. Just look to the terrorism this summer at Emanuel AME Church. We must be honest: Fifty years after John Kennedy and Martin Luther King, Jr. spoke out, violence against African Americans has not disappeared.

And what about voting rights? Two years ago, five conservative justices on the Supreme Court gutted the Voting Rights Act, opening the floodgates ever wider for measures designed to suppress minority voting. Today, the specific tools of oppression have changed-voter ID laws, racial gerrymandering, and mass disfranchisement through a criminal justice system that disproportionately incarcerates black citizens. The tools have changed, but black voters are still deliberately cut out of the political process.

Violence. Voting. And what about economic injustice? Research shows that the legal changes in the civil rights era created new employment and housing opportunities. In the 1960s and the 1970s, African-American men and women began to close the wage gap with white workers, giving millions of black families hope that they might build real wealth.

But then, Republicans’ trickle-down economic theory arrived. Just as this country was taking the first steps toward economic justice, the Republicans pushed a theory that meant helping the richest people and the most powerful corporations get richer and more powerful. I’ll just do one statistic on this: From 1980 to 2012, GDP continued to rise, but how much of the income growth went to the 90% of America – everyone outside the top 10% – black, white, Latino? None. Zero. Nothing. 100% of all the new income produced in this country over the past 30 years has gone to the top ten percent.

Today, 90% of Americans see no real wage growth. For African-Americans, who were so far behind earlier in the 20th Century, this means that since the 1980s they have been hit particularly hard. In January of this year, African-American unemployment was 10.3% – more than twice the rate of white unemployment. And, after beginning to make progress during the civil rights era to close the wealth gap between black and white families, in the 1980s the wealth gap exploded, so that from 1984 to 2009, the wealth gap between black and white families tripled.

The 2008 housing collapse destroyed trillions in family wealth across the country, but the crash hit African-Americans like a punch in the gut. Because middle class black families’ wealth was disproportionately tied up in homeownership and not other forms of savings, these families were hit harder by the housing collapse. But they also got hit harder because of discriminatory lending practices-yes, discriminatory lending practices in the 21st Century. Recently several big banks and other mortgage lenders paid hundreds of millions in fines, admitting that they illegally steered black and Latino borrowers into more expensive mortgages than white borrowers who had similar credit. Tom Perez, who at the time was the Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights, called it a “racial surtax.” And it’s still happening – earlier this month, the National Fair Housing alliance filed a discrimination complaint against real estate agents in Mississippi after an investigation showed those agents consistently steering white buyers away from interracial neighborhoods and black buyers away from affluent ones. Another investigation showed similar results across our nation’s cities. Housing discrimination alive and well in 2015.

Violence, voting, economic justice.

We have made important strides forward. But we are not done yet. And now, it is our time.

I speak today with the full knowledge that I have not personally experienced and can never truly understand the fear, the oppression, and the pain that confronts African Americans every day. But none of us can ignore what is happening in this country. Not when our black friends, family, neighbors literally fear dying in the streets.

Listen to the brave, powerful voices of today’s new generation of civil rights leaders. Incredible voices. Listen to them say: “If I die in police custody, know that I did not commit suicide.” Watch them march through the streets, “hands up don’t shoot” – not to incite a riot, but to fight for their lives. To fight for their lives.

This is the reality all of us must confront, as uncomfortable and ugly as that reality may be. It comes to us to once again affirm that black lives matter, that black citizens matter, that black families matter.

Once again, the task begins with safeguarding our communities from violence. We have made progress, but it is a tragedy when any American cannot trust those who have sworn to protect and serve. This pervasive and persistent distrust isn’t based on myths. It is grounded in the reality of unjustified violence.

Policing must become a truly community endeavor-not in just a few cities, but everywhere. Police forces should look like, and come from, the neighborhoods they serve. They should reach out to support and defend the community – working with people in neighborhoods before problems arise. All police forces-not just some-must be trained to de-escalate and to avoid the likelihood of violence. Body cameras can help us know what happens when someone is hurt.

We honor the bravery and sacrifice that our law enforcement officers show every day on the job – and the noble intentions of the vast majority of those who take up the difficult job of keeping us safe. But police are not occupying armies. This is America, not a war zone-and policing practices in all cities-not just some-need to reflect that.

Next, voting.

It’s time to call out the recent flurry of new state law restrictions for what they are: an all-out campaign by Republicans to take away the right to vote from poor and black and Latino American citizens who probably won’t vote for them. The push to restrict voting is nothing more than a naked grab to win elections that they can’t win if every citizen votes.

Two years ago the Supreme Court eviscerated critical parts of the Voting Rights Act. Congress could easily fix this, and Democrats in the Senate have called for restoration of voting rights. Now it is time for Republicans to step up to support a restoration of the Voting Rights Act-or to stand before the American people and explain why they have abandoned America’s most cherished liberty, the right to vote.

And while we’re at it, we need to update the rules around voting. Voting should be simple. Voter registration should be automatic. Get a driver’s license, get registered automatically. Nonviolent, law-abiding citizens should not lose the right to vote because of a prior conviction. Election Day should be a holiday, so no one has to choose between a paycheck and a vote. Early voting and vote by mail would give fast food and retail workers who don’t get holidays day off a chance to proudly cast their votes. The hidden discrimination that comes with purging voter rolls and short-staffing polling places must stop. The right to vote remains essential to protect all other rights, and no candidate for president or for any other elected office – Republican or Democrat – should be elected if they will not pledge to support full, meaningful voting rights.

Finally, economic justice. Our task will not be complete until we ensure that every family-regardless of race-has a fighting chance to build an economic future for themselves and their families. We need less talk and more action about reducing unemployment, ending wage stagnation and closing the income gap between white and nonwhite workers.

And one more issue, dear to my heart: It’s time to come down hard on predatory practices that allow financial institutions to systematically strip wealth out of communities of color. One of the ugly consequences of bank deregulation was that there was no cop on the beat when too many financial institutions figured out that they could make great money by tricking, trapping, and defrauding targeted families. Now we have a Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, and we need to make sure it stays strong and independent so that it can do its job and make credit markets work for black families, Latino families, white families – all families.

Yes, there’s work to do.

Back in March, I met an elderly man at the First Baptist Church in Montgomery, Alabama. We were having coffee and donuts in the church basement before the service started. He told me that more than 50 years earlier — in May of 1961 — he had spent 11 hours in that same basement, along with hundreds of people, while a mob outside threatened to burn down the church because it was a sanctuary for civil rights workers. Dr. King called Attorney General Bobby Kennedy, desperately asking for help. The Attorney General promised to send the Army, but the closest military base was several hours away. So the members of the church and the civil rights workers waited in the sweltering basement, crowded together, listening to the mob outside and hoping the U.S. Army would arrive in time.

After the church service, I asked Congressman John Lewis about that night. He had been right there in that church back in 1961 while the mob gathered outside. He had been in the room during the calls to the Attorney General. I asked if he had been afraid that the Army wouldn’t make it in time. He said that he was “never, ever afraid. You come to that point where you lose all sense of fear.” And then he said something I’ll never forget. He said that his parents didn’t want him to get involved in civil rights. They didn’t want him to “cause trouble.” But he had done it anyway. He told me: “Sometimes it is important to cause necessary trouble.”

The first civil rights battles were hard fought. But they established that Black Lives Matter. That Black Citizens Matter. That Black Families Matter. Half a century later, we have made real progress, but we have not made ENOUGH progress. As Senator Kennedy said in his first floor speech, “This is not a political issue. It is a moral issue, to be resolved through political means.” So it comes to us to continue the fight, to make, as John Lewis said, the “necessary trouble” until we can truly say that in America, every citizen enjoys the conditions of freedom.

Thank you.

SOURCE