July 8, 2020 / by 


Free Press Asks for Details

Ask and someone shall FOIA it for you…

A couple of days ago, I wondered why it was that DOJ would decide to intervene against Net Neutrality–months after the comment period to do so closed. Well, Free Press was wondering the same thing and has submitted a FOIA request to find out. They’re asking for:

  1. All shared or public calendars of the above-named employees for the above-noted dates, including, but not limited to, entries listing all meetings with non-government individuals, businesses, trade associations and/or other organizations and the subject of the meeting.
  2. All email or print correspondence, during the above-noted dates, to or from any of the above-named employees concerning the FCC’s Broadband Industry Practices inquiry, or including the words “network neutrality,” “net neutrality,” or “broadband industry.”
  3. All email or print correspondence on any subject during the above-noted dates between the above-named employees and any employee of, or attorney, government relations specialist, or lobbyist for: AT&T, Verizon, Comcast, Time Warner, Hands off the Internet, NetCompetition.org, Cellular Telecommunications & Internet Association, US Telecom Association, Qwest, Cisco Systems, and Corning Inc.
  4. Any studies, assessments, reports, or factual data (or drafts of studies, assessments, reports, or factual data) gathered, during the above-noted time period, by the above-named employees or any other employees in the Antitrust Section of the DOJ, which were prepared in drafting the September 6 network neutrality ex parte referenced above.

And the employees they’re asking about are Thomas O. Barnett, Deborah A. Garza, Nancy M. Goodman, Laury Bobbish, Rebekah P. Goodheart, W. Robert Majure, and Jeffrey Wilder. Alberto Gonzales, Paul J. McNulty, William Mercer, Craig S. Morford, and Gregory G. Katsas.

If it were up to me, I’d specifically ask for communications from Lobbyist In Chief Ed Gillespie, since he’s a former lobbyist for the companies in bold. It’s kind of the MO of this Administration to have the orders flow directly from the White House to those who execute those orders.

But it probably doesn’t matter anyway. After all–it’s not like this DOJ is all that responsive to FOIA requests, anyway.

Why Would DOJ Oppose Net Neutrality … Now?

Mcjoan has a post on how the DOJ intervened all of a sudden into the FCC’s consideration of Net Neutrality. As she points out, there’s something unusual about DOJ’s intervention: it came after the comment period had closed.

It was a curious filing, as IP Democracy’s Cynthia Brumfield describes:

What’s curious about the filing is that, first, it’s an ex parte, orlate, submission in the FCC’s Inquiry on Broadband Practices, mostcommonly known as the FCC’s net neutrality proceeding. DOJ could havefiled comments along with the rest of the world by July 16, thedeadline for all submissions, but it didn’t. Why DOJ waited until nowis an interesting, probably unanswerable question.

A number of people in the comments suggest DOJ intervened as pay-off for the telecoms’ help on our NSA spying program. But I don’t think that can explain why DOJ missed the deadline. I can understand not wanting to file anti-net neutrality comments right before Congress debates whether or not to give the telecoms retroactive immunity for helping our government to spy on us illegally. So that might explain why DOJ wouldn’t submit its comments in mid-July, when Congress was busy discussing amendments to FISA.

Except that Congress is again about to discuss amendments to FISA, specifically immunity for the telecoms. And a lot of people in Congress are probably rethinking their vote, having been chewed out by constituents for it while marching in the Labor Day parade. Having the telecoms made out to be worse players right now, just before the debate, isn’t going to help telecom get their immunity and their private Internets.

In other words, the FISA amendment probably doesn’t explain the timing.

I can’t say I can explain the timing, mind you. But there are two events that have happened between July 16 and yesterday which might explain the timing. First, Gonzales resigned (though he’s still making trouble at DOJ). Also, Ed Gillespie, the big telecom lobbyist, just assumed most of Karl Rove’s portfolio on Monday morning.

Did the Lobbyist-in-Chief–who until June was working for the US Telecom Association–have any say over whether DOJ supports Net Neutrality?

We’re Sorry for Spiking the News

The NYT has a really weird story out today which tries to explain why news outlets don’t publish "open secrets" about public figures.

Old-fashioned as it seems, there are still tacit rules about when anopen secret can remain in its own netherworld, without consequence tothe politician who keeps it. But now that any whisper can become aglobal shout in an instant, how much longer can those rules apply? Andshould they, anyway?


In the mainstream media, the recent standard for pursuing open secretshas been murky, but generally guided by the notion that privatebehavior matters when it is at odds with public declarations. Mr.Foley’s bawdy flirtation with pages was fair game not least because hehad sponsored legislation seeking to protect children from onlinepredators. Mr. Craig supported a 2006 amendment to the IdahoConstitution barring gay marriage and civil unions and has voted inCongress against gay rights.

Of course, the article gets a bunch of things wrong. The mainstream media let Craig and Foley (and continues to let David Dreier and others) off the hook for years, in spite of their clear hypocrisy. And Jim McGreevy was not outed because of hypocrisy–he was outed because of the clear impropriety of hiring his boyfriend (and here again, the example of Dreier is worth raising). Nor does the mainstream media ever point out the hypocrisy, in this case, of the Republican Party, which likes to mobilize the base by cultivating homophobia while remaining quite tolerant (up to a point–Dreier couldn’t become majority leader, after all) of barely-closeted gay men. At some point, the hypocrisy of the Republican party needs to become part of the story.

And perhaps most curiously, the article doesn’t discuss the reasons to report legal wrong-doing–even if it involves personal behavior. That is, shouldn’t the media have reported on Foley’s behavior with congressional pages, since those pages were underage? Shouldn’t the media report that David Vitter has admitted to breaking the law?

And, finally, the article doesn’t quote either of the two people who ought to be quoted for the story, Mike Rogers and Lane Hudson. Are they afraid to talk to the guys who proved the mainstream media complicit?

Time to Fire the White House Webmaster

I thought it worth mentioning that the Administration has twice made claims in the last week that their website refuted. First came Senator Leahy, who noted that Cheney’s claims not to be part of the Executive Office of the President were disproved by the White House website.

The Administration’s response today also claims that the Office of the Vice President is not part of the Executive Office of the President.  That is wrong.  Both the United States Code and even the White House’s own web site say so – at least it did as recently as this morning.

Then yesterday, CREW pointed out that the White House website disproved White House claims that the Office of Administration was not subject to FOIA.

After learning that the Bush administration claimedthat the Office of Administration wasn’t subject to Freedom ofInformation Act requests, CREW did some research. Seems the White Housewebsite, which is an official voice of the Bush administration, statesotherwise:

In fact, evidence that the Office of Administration is subject to FOIA requests is made here and here and here and here on the White House website and even once on the Department of Justice site here.

Rather than wait for the next ridiculous White House claim to be disproved by its own website, I say we try to anticipate it. What assertion, made on the White House website, do you think we should just ignore as a mirage invented by some over-imaginative White House webmaster? Some of my nominations include this whole section of the website, particularly this one. We ought to assume this, this, this, and this simply aren’t true. And while we’re at it, I’m just going to presume that this never happened–since it’s on the White House website, it must not be true.

See how much fun you can have simply ignoring things you don’t like that appear on the White House website?

Ix-Nay on the Onstitution-Cay

This is ripe. Apparently, the conservative blogosphere realized there wasn’t a good defense for Harriet’s claim of immunity from being subpoenaed, so they called the White House and begged for talking points. And then they published those talking points. Which, first of all, exposes to all the world that conservative bloggers are willing to gobble any kind of shite thrown at them.

If Congress pursues criminal contempt and the DoJ refuses to prosecute,how do they move forward? — No one really knows. There isn’t anyprecedent on this point.

[Ed. both the White House and Ed Morrissey are pretending they’ve never heard of inherent contempt. Snip]

What about the call for a special counsel on Alberto Gonzales? — Thelaw no longer exists for an independent prosecutor, and the "specialcounsel" is accountable to … Alberto Gonzales.

[Ed. Someone better tell Patrick Fitzgerald, Alberto Gonzales, and Paul Clement–because they would all beg to differ, both about Gonzales’ recusal on this matter or the ability to recuse authority over a special counsel more generally.]

It also demonstrates that neither the "senior official" (is this Fred Fielding, giving transparently erroneous legal advice off the record again?) nor a bevy of conservative bloggers have read the Constitution. At least that’s the only logical conclusion I can draw from the fact that Morrissey doesn’t correct this claim.

Executive privilege is particularly strong in this case. The power tohire and fire federal prosecutors belongs exclusively to the executivebranch. Congress has no particular oversight in these matters, and sothe executive privilege claim is very compelling in this instance.

As I have pointed out over and over and over again, hiring and firing federal prosecutors–particularly interim USAs like Tim Griffin–is something the Constitution explicitly gives Congress the authority to legislate. This is authority the White House itself did not contest, neither in 2006 when Bush signed the PATRIOT provision, nor earlier this year when he signed its reversal. So either Morrissey’s post is intended to expose conservative ignorance once and for all, it’s a secret message for conservatives everywhere that Dick has given the sign that it’s finally time to burn their copies of the Constitution, or it’s simply proof that conservative bloggers are willing to regurgitate transparent falsehoods if their President gets in a legal bind.

Most likely, it’s a combination of all three.

Update: LOL. I hadn’t read TRex before I wrote this. He’s got a better sense of humor than I about right blogistan’s stupidity.

Novak, I’ll Blog You When You’re Gone

I’ve been trying to ignore Novak’s publicity tour while staying on top of his ever changing story on Plame. But (via TP) this is just too inviting.

I’m 76 years old, and pretty soon I’m going to a place where there are no blogs.

Why, why, Novak? Why do you look forward to heading off for your time in the Eighth Circle of Hell, simply because we bloggers aren’t there? (I have it on good authority that Gilliard is enjoying his time at the never-ending barbecues of Heaven.) Is it because we call you on your shit? Is it because while the trained reporters get blank stares in their eyes and complain that "my head hurts" when we point out your changing stories, even our readers can catalog how your stories have changed every time the legal need presented itself? Is it because we point out that just nine months before your book came out, you stated "You could write a book on the bad journalism"? Or is it because when you say, "my account is close to the truth," we only dispute your definition of "close"?

Well, I hope you’re in no rush to get to that Eighth Circle, because I am going to do a big debunking (just as soon as the library gets the book in–I’m not paying Novak a cent, of course). And if I finish it after you’re gone, then I’ll just take solace that we’ll both be doing what we should be.

Turning Tides

I gotta say, this post yesterday from Josh Marshall,

As regular readers of this site know, I’ve always been against themovement to impeach President Bush. I take this position not because hehasn’t done plenty to merit it. My reasons are practical. Minor reasonsare that it’s late in the president’s term and that I think impeachmentitself is toxic to our political system — though it can be less toxicthan the high officials thrown from office. My key reason, though, isthat Congress at present can’t even get to the relatively low thresholdof votes required to force the president’s hand on Iraq. So to use ananalogy which for whatever reason springs readily to my mind at thispoint in my life, coming out for impeachment under presentcircumstances is like being so frustrated that you can’t crawl that youcome out for walking. In various ways it seems to elevate psychicsatisfactions above progress on changing a series of policies that aredoing daily and almost vast damage to our country. Find me seventeenRepublican senators who are going to convict President Bush in a senatetrial.

On balance, this is still my position. But in recent days, for thefirst time I think, I’ve seen new facts that make me wonder whether thecalculus has changed. Or to put it another way, to question whether myposition is still justifiable in the face of what’s happening in frontof our eyes.


Whether because of prudence and pragmatism or mere intellectualinertia, I still have the same opinion on the big question:impeachment. But I think we’re moving on to dangerous ground right now,more so than some of us realize. And I’m less sure now under thesecircumstances that operating by rules of ‘normal politics’ isjustifiable or acquits us of our duty to our country.

Reminds me a lot of the posts he was writing in Fall 2002, such as this post, written on September 20, 2002.

Libby Doesn’t Want Bloggers to Know Who Is Shilling for Him

Those Vile Hate-Mongering Pseudonyms

No Web Journalists Allowed?

Copyright © 2018 emptywheel. All rights reserved.
Originally Posted @ https://www.emptywheel.net/blogs-internet-and-new-media/page/13/