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Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell Why One Year Ago Today Seaman August Provost Was Murdered



You’ll remember that one year ago today, U.S. Navy Seaman August Provost, a black, gay sailor, was found murdered, his body shot three times, gagged, bound, and burned. While there were clear signs this was a hate crime, the U.S. Navy refused to label is as such. Even the Congressional Black Caucus demanded a full investigation. It was never performed.

The circumstances surrounding this murder are ghastly, but the Navy’s response and handling of it are ghastly as well. We’re fortunate Provost was at least buried with full military honors, but that’s not enough. The Navy has resigned itself, and wants his family to accept that it was a “random act of violence.” That’s insufficient, especially for a military organization that purports to follow rules and have strong traditions.

Reportedly, the Navy did not even initially tell Provost’s family that he was murdered. Talk about a cover-up.

I hope the family and friends of August Provost will forgive me for using his murder, and subsequent treatment of his murder by the Navy, as evidence that the U.S. Military cannot possibly be trusted to police itself, investigate itself, or execute policy itself, when it comes to gay soldiers and gay rights. Which leads us to have to ask how the military will handle integration of openly gay and lesbian servicemembers into its ranks.

Sadly, August Provost is far from the only victim of hate crimes under the military’s watch. Let’s not forget Barry Winchell, murdered by a fellow soldier. There are many others, and it’s been reported that there are hundreds of hate-related crimes in the military each year.

Talk about “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” in recent weeks has been sidetracked, moving from repeal to the Elena Kagan nomination and the courageous actions she took while at Harvard. There’s been little news and little action since May 27, when the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Murphy Amendment, the DADT repeal compromise that will now be attached to the Defense Authorization Bill. We’re still awaiting the Senate vote, and, ultimately, awaiting to see how the military executes the repeal, if and when it is signed into law.

At least 70% of Americans (a recent CNN poll put that number at 78%) fully support gay and lesbian servicemembers serving openly in the U.S. military. The just-passed Senate icon, Robert Byrd, a 92-year old West Virginian, “renounced his objections to gay rights,” and supported repeal. And while president Obama last week claimed we are closer than ever to repeal, most in the LGBT community are skeptical.

Fifty-one weeks ago, civil rights activist, author, and Clinton advisor David Mixner wrote,

“[O]ne can’t help but wonder if Navy Seaman August Provost would be alive today if it weren’t for “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’? The gay seaman had been complaining to family and friends of harassment but felt he couldn’t report it to superiors because of DADT. He would have had to come out and they would have dismissed him. Seaman Provost was killed at Camp Pendleton. Congressman Bob Filner (D-CA) is convinced it was a hate crime. Watch the military over the next week attempt to cover this one up.

Indeed, we watched and we saw.

It’s time to fully investigate the death of August Provost. It was claimed his killer had been found, but committed suicide while in the Navy’s custody. That needs to be investigated also.

Some said that Provost’s murder was gay also, and afraid of being outed. We’ll never know, since the Navy did not sufficiently investigate.

Scott Wooledge at DailyKos wrote,

Provost had recently complained to family members about a person who was harassing him, so they advised him to tell his supervisor, said his sister, Akalia Provost of Houston. –San Diego Union Tribune

“This is what people do when a co-worker harasses them, right? But this is not an option for LGB servicemembers. They know anything that draws attention to their personal life, or relationships with other troops has the very real potential to end their career.”

Repealing “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” needs to happen. Soon. It cannot happen soon enough. In the name of August Provost, and in the name of the 65,000 LGBT soldiers currently, bravely serving their country.

Scott Wooledge updated his piece on August Provost today. It’s worth a visit, as he offers a video and information on politicians who had been trying to get answers from the Navy. We need to contact them and remind them. I hope you will.

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‘Unlawful Incursion’: Manhattan DA Schools Jim Jordan for Demanding He Testify in Ongoing Trump Investigation



Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg served up an extensive lesson in American jurisprudence Thursday in his response to House Republican Judiciary Chairman Jim Jordan’s letter demanding he provide communications and testify before Congress on his ongoing investigation into Donald Trump’s hush money payoff to Stormy Daniels.

Jordan’s demand was seen by legal experts as a “purely political attack.” They note Jordan has no constitutional oversight authority over a duly-elected county district attorney.

Bragg is respectfully refusing Jordan’s demands.

Thorough his office’s General Counsel, Bragg sent Jordan a five-page letter (below) filled with numerous citations of federal and state law and legal decisions up to and including from the U.S. Supreme Court, that offer the Judiciary Chairman instruction in the law and that support the District Attorney’s refusal.

READ MORE: ‘Going Full Fascist’: Morning Joe Blasts Trump’s Latest ‘Dehumanizing’ Attack on Manhattan DA Alvin Bragg

In Bragg’s response, he calls Jordan’s letter “an unprecedented inquiry into a pending local prosecution,” and notes it “only came after Donald Trump created a false expectation that he would be arrested the next day, and his lawyers reportedly urged you to intervene.” He tells Jordan, “if charges are brought … it will be because the rule of law and faithful execution of the District Attorney’s duty require it.”

Jordan, who refused to comply with a lawful subpoena issued by the U.S. House Select Committee on the January 6 Attack, had claimed his demand for documents and testimony was in furtherance of a legislative purpose, an effort to examine federal law. Bragg refuted that claim: “Congress cannot have any legitimate legislative task relating to the oversight of local prosecutors enforcing state law.”

“In New York, the District Attorney is a constitutional officer charged with ‘the responsibility to conduct all prosecutions for crimes and offenses cognizable by the courts of the county in which he serves,'” Bragg’s letter continues, offering an education into the concept of federalism and the U.S. Constitution. “These are quintessential police powers belonging to the State, and your letter treads into territory very clearly reserved to the states.”

In a section titled, “Compliance with the Letter Would Interfere with Law Enforcement,” the Manhattan DA’s response says Jordan’s letter “seeks non-public information about a pending criminal investigation, which is confidential under state law.” It adds that “prosecutor’s disclosure of grand jury evidence is a felony.”

Continuing to explain the law to the Chairman of the Judiciary Committee, Bragg’s letter adds:

“These confidentiality provisions exist to protect the interests of the various participants in the criminal process–the defendant, the witnesses, and members of the grand jury- as well as the integrity of the grand jury proceeding itself. Like the Department of Justice, as a prosecutor exercising sovereign executive powers, the District Attorney has a constitutional obligation to ‘protect the government’s ability to prosecute fully and fairly,’ to ‘independently and impartially uphold the rule of law,’ to ‘protect witnesses and law enforcement,’ to ‘avoid flight by those implicated in our investigations,’ and to ‘prevent additional crimes.'”

READ MORE: Trump Lawyer’s ‘Critical Evidence’ Will Help DOJ Make Decision to Charge ‘Without Significant Delay’: Former Prosecutor

It continues, warning Jordan’s “requests are an unlawful incursion into New York’s sovereignty. Congress’s investigative jurisdiction is derived from and limited by its power to legislate concerning federal matters.”

Bragg twice offers to meet with staffers from Jordan’s Judiciary Committee to see if the Chairman’s requests “could be accommodated without impeding those sovereign interests.”

Read the letter posted by Axios’ Andrew Solender below or at this link.



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‘Going Full Fascist’: Morning Joe Blasts Trump’s Latest ‘Dehumanizing’ Attack on Manhattan DA Alvin Bragg



Days after he wrongly claimed he would be arrested and urged his supporters to “protest,” Donald Trump unleashed a vicious and antisemitic attack against Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg and philanthropist and donor George Soros, leading “Morning Joe” Scarborough on MSNBC to declare the ex-president has gone “full fascist” and even “full Nazi.”

“I mean he’s just going full Nazi here, full fascist,” Scarborough said Thursday morning, just minutes after Trump’s remarks posted on social media.

“You’re doing the whole Jewish international banker thing and and dehumanizing him as an ‘animal,’ calling him an ‘animal,'” Scarborough said.

“That’s ugly,” Mika Brzezinski added.

“And that’s like like straight out of the playbook. Yeah, that’s really that’s really ugly. Yeah, it’s really interesting to see exactly what’s happened with Bragg. He hasn’t taken the bait.”

READ MORE: Trump Lawyer’s ‘Critical Evidence’ Will Help DOJ Make Decision to Charge ‘Without Significant Delay’: Former Prosecutor

Thursday morning, in an all-caps rant, Trump called District Attorney Bragg a “Soros backed animal who just doesn’t care about right or wrong no matter how many people are hurt.”

Scarborough was not being hyperbolic when he said Trump had gone “full Nazi.”

“This is no legal system, this is the Gestapo, this is Russia and China, but worse. Disgraceful!”

The Gestapo were Adolf Hitler’s Nazi secret police.

In a separate post Thursday morning, after his attack on Bragg, Trump again appeared to telegraph a call for violence, writing: “Everybody knows I’m 100% innocent, including Bragg, but he doesn’t care. He is just carrying out the plans of the radical left lunatics. Our country is being destroyed, as they tell us to be peaceful!”

It is possible the grand jury, which is meeting Thursday, could vote on an indictment of Trump. Some say any potential vote would not come before next week.

READ MORE: ‘National Security Implications’: Former DOJ Official Speculates on Ruling Ordering Trump Attorney to Hand Over Docs

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‘Burn It to the Ground’: Kari Lake Undeterred After State Supreme Court Smacks Her Down



Failed Arizona gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake suffered a devastating blow after the state Supreme Court refused to take up her case challenging the results of her election last November, reported Newsweek on Thursday.

“Speaking at a rally organized by Turning Point Action, Charlie Kirk’s right-wing organization, Lake said: ‘They have built a house of cards in Maricopa County. I’m not just going to knock it over. I’m going to burn it to the ground,'” reported Giulia Carbonaro. “Lake shared a video of her speech, with a caption quoting her comments and a fire emoji.”

Lake is one of the only major statewide Republican candidates last year in a hotly contested race who has refused to concede her loss. She has alleged that her voters were illegally suppressed because of technical glitches with ballot tabulators in certain precincts of Maricopa County, the state’s largest population center, on Election Day.

In reality, there is no evidence of foul play, and Maricopa County election officials provided a backup method for affected ballots to be counted. Furthermore, one reason the glitch may have disproportionately affected Lake’s voters is Trump counseled voters not to mail in their ballots early, based on conspiracy theories — though Lake herself had done the opposite and asked her supporters to vote by mail.

READ MORE: Former Trump official: ‘Folks on both sides of the aisle want to see him arrested’

“Her challenge was thrown out by both Maricopa County Judge Peter Thompson and the Arizona Court of Appeals, which said Lake’s case lacked evidence that the hiccups in the county were intentionally caused by election officials to disenfranchise Lake’s supporters,” said the report. “Lake brought her case to the Arizona Supreme Court, which has declined to hear her case, but did send one of her claims back to a county judge for review. A superior court judge in Maricopa County is now reviewing Lake’s claim that the county did not follow signature verification procedures.”

On top of her litigation failures, Lake was referred to the Secretary of State’s office for investigation after she tweeted out images of what appeared to be real voter ballot signatures, which would be a violation of Arizona state law.


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