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OPINION

Barr Defends Black-Clad Paramilitary Secret Police: OK They ‘Wouldn’t Want to Talk to People About Who They Were’

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Attorney General Bill Barr is defending his use of an unmarked, unidentified, black-clad heavily-armed paramilitary federal secret police force brandishing riot gear, on the streets of the nation’s capital. Apparently they have been deployed to, as he put it Sunday, “reestablish law and order.”

Many across DC have taken to social media, posting photos and video of these mysterious “soldiers” seemingly charged not with protecting the citizenry, but with protecting the federal government from the citizenry.

They wear no identifying labels: No one can see their name or rank, what agency they work for, what their job is, why they are there. They wear no badges. They just showed up and the Attorney General did not even ask the Mayor of Washington DC or anyone else if it was OK.

They are heavily armed, wear different uniforms, have most of their face covered, and refuse to say who they are.

When asked, they say they work for the Dept. of Justice. None will be more explicit than that – so clearly they were instructed to not tell anyone who they work for.

Even though the people asking pay their salaries – and have every legal right to know.

The Attorney General thinks his secret police force is a great idea and on Thursday defended their silence.

“I could understand why some of these individuals simply wouldn’t want to talk to people about who they were if that in fact was the case,” Barr told reporters asking on Thursday.

Here’s what they looked like this week as they “reestablished law and order” at the Lincoln Memorial Tuesday evening:


Here is what they looked like on Wednesday:

More examples:

The official story?

“Barr and Bureau of Prisons Director Michael Carvajal said at a Thursday press conference that the officers were from the Bureau of Prisons Special Operations Response Team (SORT),” Yahoo News reports.

“We normally operate within the confines of our institution and we don’t need to identify ourselves. Most of our identification is institution specific and probably wouldn’t mean a whole lot to people in D.C.,” Carvajal said.

“I probably should have done a better job of marking them nationally as the agency. Point is well taken. But I assure you that no one was specifically told in my knowledge not to identify themselves.”

If they weren’t told not to identify themselves why do they all deliver the same response, that they work for DOJ?

Why are they there, how long will they stay? What is a citizen supposed to do if one of Barr’s secret police force attacks them?

Something’s not adding up.

 

 

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OPINION

Why Is the Coronavirus Pandemic Subsidizing Hate?

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This article first appeared in Michelangelo Signorile’s Substack newsletter. To see the article in its original location or to subscribe, click here.

After the the names were released by the government last week of those who received pandemic-relief assistance under the Payroll Protection Program — transparency the Trump administration initially fought hard against — we learned of many billionaires and big, well-funded companies that received government loans, in additions to Trump family friends and allies, like billionaire governor Jim Justice of West Virginia and billionaire rapper Kanye West.

But also among those who received more than $150,000 — which are the only recipients whose names are made public — has been the Catholic Church, a multi-billion dollar tax exempt global empire that hardly qualifies as a “small business,” which is what the program was initially designed to help save. Meanwhile, thousands of desperate, hurting small businesses, per a Pro Publica investigation, didn’t receive money promised them and many were forced to shut down, their owners left penniless.

“Houses of worship and faith-based organizations that promote religious beliefs aren’t usually eligible for money from the U.S. Small Business Administration,” the Associated Press noted. “But as the economy plummeted and jobless rates soared, Congress let faith groups and other nonprofits tap into the Paycheck Protection Program, a $659 billion fund created to keep Main Street open and Americans employed.”

After heavy lobbying by the church, the virulently anti-LGBTQ, anti-abortion Archdiocese of New York received $28 million, an archdiocese led by Cardinal Timothy Dolan, who’s called gay relationships not “natural.” Catholic entities in total — including many archdioceses that had paid out huge settlements in sex abuse cases and were facing bankruptcy — were paid at least $1.4 billion. But the AP believes the money may actually have exceeded $3.5 billion.

The list goes on and on. The American Family Association, labeled as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center — and whose spokesperson and “radio host,” Bryan Fischer, just two weeks ago called homosexuality “unnatural, unhealthy and immoral”— received a loan to keep propagating its lies and distortions.

Also on the list was the Liberty Counsel, the legal group that fights against laws protection LGBTQ people, and the ugly Concerned Women for America and Joyce Meyer Ministries, which rail against homosexuality, same-sex marriage and transgender people.

To read the remainder of this article, visit Michelangelo Signorile’s Substack newsletter.

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OPINION

As Putin’s Hackers Try to Steal COVID-19 Vaccine Secrets ‘Kremlin Kevin’ McCarthy Pushes Bill to ‘Protect America’s Statues’

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Many Americans woke to the news Thursday morning that Russian hackers are trying to steal coronavirus vaccine secrets from the U.S., the UK, and Canada, according to officials in those three countries, CNN reports, The Russian hackers are the same group of President Vladimir Putin’s “Cozy Bear” intelligence agents accused of hacking the DNC’s servers before the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

Meanwhile, House Republican Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy has just announced on Twitter he has “introduced the Protect America’s Statues Act to cut funding from cities and states that refuse to restore order.”

McCarthy says he is concerned that “Leftwing mobs are trying to erase history by destroying statues of George Washington, General Grant, and Christopher Columbus. Enough is enough.”

McCarthy’s bill would apply to “any structure, plaque, statue, or other monument on public property commemorating the service of any person or persons in the armed forces of the United States.”

Some Americans are expressing concern that the coronavirus pandemic, already by far the worst in the world and growing significantly in the vast majority of states, is not important to Republicans in Congress or the White House.

“Just completely uninterested in even thinking about addressing the colossal problems plaguing the country, a total abdication in favor of culture war pot-stirring,” Media Matters’ Senior Fellow Matthew Gertz lamented in response to Minority Leader McCarthy bragging about his new bill.

He is not alone.

 

 

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OPINION

‘Some People Still Have Guts!’: The 13 Times Donald Trump Defended Roger Stone on Twitter

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President Donald Trump is expected to commute the 40-month sentence of his longtime friend and former campaign advisor Roger Stone, as soon as this evening.  Stone was convicted on seven felony counts. Trump has been defending Stone for years, and in an interview with NBC News’ Howard Fineman late Friday afternoon, Stone all but threatened the president to commute his sentence:

“He knows I was under enormous pressure to turn on him. It would have eased my situation considerably. But I didn’t,” Stone said about Trump – clearly telegraphing to the President he still could “turn on him” if Trump doesn’t keep him out of jail.

Some, like attorney George Conway, are saying Stone’s request “couldn’t be more corrupt.”

What Americans don’t know, although apparently the president does, is what Stone has on Trump.

But here’s Trump, literally over the course of the past three years, defending Stone, who last year was convicted on seven felony counts, including witness tampering, threatening a witness, lying to Congress, and obstruction.

May 10, 2017, in response to tremendous outrage one day earlier when Trump fired FBI Director Jim Comey. Stone said he had talked to Trump.

Dec 3, 2018. Trump appears to be praising Stone for not turning on him – something Stone today (above) reminded him of.

Same day. George Conway suggested Trump’s tweet was witness tampering.

Jan 26, 2019: Here Trump begins to fraudulently frame Stone’s felonies as no big deal. “What about Hillary…”

January 27, 2019: Again, Trump tries to make it appear what Stone did was not as bad as what was supposedly done to Trump. (Nothing was done to Trump.)

Trump suggests that just because Stone wasn’t working for him he wasn’t helping him. As Americans have repeatedly seen, Trump keeps certain people very close.

Quiet for many months, then, Nov 15, 2019: For the third time Trump tries to rehabilitate Stone in the minds of the American people. Stone lied, but so did other people, Trump claims, so, no big deal, he suggests.

Also, Stone wasn’t just convicted of lying to Congress. Witness tampering and obstruction were among the felonies he was charged with and convicted on.

February 12, 2020: Right after this all the DOJ prosecutors on the Roger Stone case would resign in response to Attorney General Bill Barr’s intervention to get Stone’s sentencing recommendation reduced.

Trump attacks the FBI and federal prosecutors.

Feb 13, 2020: One day later, Trump spreads fake news. The foreperson did not have a conflict of interest. And just remember, it’s unprecedented for a president to weigh in on the proceedings of almost any individual, least of all a good friend who appears to be protecting the President.

Feb 20, 2020: Seven days later. Trump works to generate public sentiment for the “dirty trickster.”

Same day. Trump repeatedly has called himself the nation’s chief law enforcement officer. Here he is essentially saying no one should be prosecuted or go to jail for any offense because other people do similar things too. Also, none of the people he mentioned committed crimes.

April 30, 2020: And here’s Trump painting the actual law enforcement agents, the FBI, as the bad guys, because Stone is his good friend and also may have the goods on him.

May 20, 2020: Less than two months ago. Poor Roger, who again reminds that he will not testify against Trump.

What comes next? Multiple news outlets report a commuted sentence. Stay tuned.

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