The Crime of Journalism

Assange’s ‘Conspiracy’ to Expose War Crimes Has Already Been Punished

 

By Joe Emersberger/ FAIR/ April 12, 2019

 

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange should never have been punished for working with a whistleblower to expose war crimes. Chelsea Manning, the whistleblower, has done more time in prison, under harsher conditions, than William Calley, a key perpetrator of the My Lai massacre. Remarkably, Manning is in jail again, failed by organizations that should unreservedly defend her, as the US tries to coerce her into helping inflict more punishment on Assange.

As for Assange, he has already been arbitrarily detained for several years, according to the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention. Its 2016 press release on the matter stated:

The expert panel called on the Swedish and British authorities to end Mr. Assange’s deprivation of liberty, respect his physical integrity and freedom of movement, and afford him the right to compensation.

Now Assange could be punished even more brutally if the UK extradites him to the US, where he is charged with a “conspiracy” to help Manning crack a password that “would have” allowed her to cover her tracks more effectively. In other words, the alleged help with password-cracking didn’t work, and is not what resulted in the information being disclosed. It has also not been shown that it was Assange who offered the help, according to Kevin Gosztola (Shadowproof, 4/11/19). The government’s lack of proof of its charges might explain why Manning is in jail again.

The indictment goes even further, criminalizing the use of an electronic “drop box” and other tactics that investigate journalists routinely use in the computer age to work with a confidential source “for the purpose of publicly disclosing” information.

Assange Indictment: Purpose and Object of the Conspiracy

In 2010, the Guardian, like the New York Times and a few other corporate newspapers, briefly partnered with WikiLeaks to publish the contents of thousands of confidential US diplomatic cables, known as Cablegate. That year, WikiLeaks released other confidential US government information as well: the Afghanistan War Logs, the Iraq War Logs, the infamous “Collateral Murder” video.

The material exposed atrocities perpetrated by the US military, as well as other disgraceful acts—like US diplomats strategizing on how to undermine elected governments out of favor with Washington, spying on official US allies and bullying poor countries into paying wildly exorbitant prices for life-saving drugs.

Collateral Murder van aftermath

One US soldier involved in the “collateral murder” airstrike that Manning and Assange exposed, Ethan McCord, was threatened and reprimanded by a superior officer for requesting psychiatric help after the  atrocity. (“Get the sand out of your vagina,” he was reportedly told.) McCord had tended to wounded children during the massacre. He was soon expelled from the military, apparently now “unsuited” for it.

The point of journalism is to expose horrific crimes like this so that the powerful people who order them pay legal consequences, not the ones who expose them. Presumably that is why “press freedom” is considered important, and why it’s guaranteed by the First Amendment. The law should have protected Manning from punishment, the same way it protects somebody who uses violence in justifiable self-defense or in defense of others.

In Manning’s case, that was especially true, because she exposed grave crimes while stationed in Iraq, as the US perpetrated an even higher-level crime—a war of aggression based on a fraudulent pretext.  If the law should have protected Manning, who was at the very heart of the “conspiracy” to expose gruesome crimes, then it obviously should protect Assange, and any of the outlets that worked with him.

Last year, James Goodale, former general counsel to the New York Times, commented on the (now confirmed) idea that a “conspiracy” charge would be brought against Assange by the US government:

As a matter of fact, a charge against Assange for “conspiring” with a source is the most dangerous charge that I can think of with respect to the First Amendment in almost all my years representing media organizations.

The reason is that one who is gathering/writing/distributing the news, as the law stands now, is free and clear under the First Amendment. If the government is able to say a person who is exempt under the First Amendment then loses that exemption because that person has “conspired” with a source who is subject to the Espionage Act or other law, then the government has succeeded in applying the standard to all news-gathering.

Twitter: Manning went to all big US newspapers with Collateral Murder video and all refused to publish becoz it exposed the empire they exist to protect.

One way to avoid being accused of a conspiracy is to simply not publish information that powerful people don’t want published, as independent journalist Matt Kennard, author of The Racket, noted on Twitter.

Another way to protect against prosecution would be to help the government unofficially designate a class of acceptable “journalists,” and join the government in vilifying anyone outside this club as a “spy,” “hacker”—anything but a journalist. 60 Minutes (1/26/11) suggested he was “not really a journalist at all” because “he is an anti-establishment ideologue with conspiratorial views.” An example of such paranoia? “He believes large government institutions use secrecy to suppress the truth and he distrusts the mainstream media for playing along.”

British journalists, too, have taken to this task with glee for many years. Unsurprisingly, Assange’s arrest prompted vicious comments about his appearance from prominent members of the club.

The Guardian editors dropped any pretense of having journalistic standards when it comes to Assange when it published an outlandish claim that Assange met repeatedly with Paul Manafort in the Ecuadorian embassy in London. Glenn Greenwald has done tremendous work exposing that journalistic outrage. It has become a “scoop” (heavily tweaked and qualified after publication) that the Guardian doesn’t retract, but doesn’t mention either—even in a very recent editorial (4/11/19) about Assange’s case.

In that editorial, the Guardian, disregarding the UN experts who said Assange had been arbitrarily detained for years, still calls for Assange to be “held to account” for “skipping bail” (though not extradited to the US). Journalism like that, at the “liberal” end of the spectrum, explains why Assange and Manning are in jail, while George W. Bush and Tony Blair walk free.

Featured image: Julian Assange being arrested by British police at the London Ecuadoran embassy. (Image: Ruptly)

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A Better Solution?

rock

“I thought it would be easier than a drawn-out political campaign.”

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Capitalism’s War on Socialism


TBPR Editor’s Note: I am unclear as to why Egnatz doesn’t consider the Scandinavian countries as successful socialist countries.

By Nick Egnatz/ OpEdNews/ April 2,2019

socialism

Successful socialist countries do not exist for the simple reason that capitalism has waged war on socialism from day one. Capitalism is an economic system based on alleged competition, yet it will use any measure necessary to destroy a competing economic system such as socialism.

On the home-front, US capitalists have deployed the US Army, National Guard Units, police, and private security such as Pinkerton National Detective Agency against striking workers since the 1870s. A few of the more famous actions in which strikers were killed are the 1892 Homestead Steel Strike, near Pittsburg; 1894 Pullman Railway Strike; 1903 Colorado Labor War strikes against Colorado mines. The International Workers of the World Union (Wobblies) founded in Chicago, 1905, was attacked by the First Red Scare and the Palmer Raids in which leftist, socialist, communist union members were attacked, jailed and deported.

Child labor laws, the 40 hour work week, minimum wage laws, overtime pay, Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid were all opposed by the capitalist class as socialism when proposed. Yet most Americans would agree that now they are all good programs that offer vital protections for all the American people.

“Tonight, we renew our resolve that America will never be a socialist country.” President Donald Trump”, 2019 State of the Union speech was received with a standing ovation, even some progressive Democrats stood and applauded. Heaven forbid that we would be able to participate in a democratic discussion of the pros and cons of socialism and capitalism. If we could just turn the calendar back, we can imagine Trump and the cheering Congress opposing as socialism: child labor laws, 40 hour work week, minimum wage laws, overtime pay, Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.

The US has used military force, military coups, propaganda, repressive economic sanctions and blockades on each and every socialist and socialist leaning country. Beginning in 1918 President Woodrow Wilson sent troops into Russia to undo the Russian people’s revolution. They soon found Russia vast, cold and unwelcoming to the snake oil the US was selling. After WWII, it was only the threat of Russian nuclear retaliation that kept the West from attacking and allowed the flawed autocratic socialist USSR government to peacefully coexist with the capitalist states during the Cold War.

I’m not here to defend the brutal murderous excesses of Lenin and Stalin. The U.S. sought to overthrow the USSR not because it was undemocratic, but because it was socialist. I don’t see us railing against Saudi Arabia’s repressive monarchy because of its dismal record on human rights. No, our Presidents visit, don their dress and dance with their leaders. Our government is now surreptitiously giving them nuclear power technology. Whether or not they are democratic or not is of no concern to US policy makers. The important thing is that Saudi Arabia is not a socialist country.

When Mikhail Gorbachev attempted to bring the USSR in from the Cold War as a proposed Scandinavian style democracy that guaranteed the people a strong social safety net, he was replaced by Russian President Boris Yeltsin who declared Russia independent of the USSR. Yeltsin was directed by the US economic team to privatize all the state’s assets (industry, mines, resources, etc.) for pennies on the dollar before any economic assistance would be available. Russia had already achieved a level of democracy, perhaps better than ours: free press, elected Parliament, elected local councils, elected president, vice president and a constitutional court. At the West’s urging Yeltsin was given dictatorial powers for one year by Parliament to enact the draconian economic programs demanded by the West that soon made beggars of the Russian people. Russia went from a 1.3% poverty rate (less than $4/day) in 1989 under Gorbachev to a 49% poverty rate in 1996 under Yeltsin and the capitalist financial reforms demanded by the US.

Eventually Parliament refused to continue to go along with the capitalist reforms which had their citizens selling their belongings on street corners. Yeltsin surrounded the Parliament building with tanks and a standoff occurred. Clinton was US President and both he and the European Union supported Yeltsin, who on October 4, 1993 shelled the Russian people’s parliament building called the White House with the entire Parliament inside and burned it to the ground killing an estimated 500 people and wounding 1,000. So much for Gorbachev and the Russian people’s incipient democracy and dream for a semi socialist state. The result of this massacre is the present autocratic capitalist Russia with billionaire oligarchs and a poverty stricken people. (Naomi Klein, The Shock Doctrine)

Currently in Venezuela our government and media give a constant refrain that we want democracy. Nothing could be further from the truth, the US demands capitalism. Russia had to sacrifice their new democracy to make way for capitalism, Venezuela is no different.

This article is not meant to defend or attack Venezuela’s Bolivarian Revolution under Hugo Chavez and Nicolas Maduro. That should be up to the Venezuelan people, free of US propaganda, blockades, economic sanctions and threats of military attack. The sole purpose of this article is to explain why Venezuela and all other countries that have searched for socialist answers have failed.

The following governments had achieved a level of democracy. They had democratically elected leaders and were attempting to match democracy with socialism or a semi-socialist safety net. The US CIA conspired to engineer and or support military coups that installed repressive right wing governments that to varying degrees then jailed, tortured and killed socialists and communists:

  • Iran 1953
  • Guatemala 1954
  • Congo 1961-65
  • Dominican Republic 1963
  • Indonesia 1965
  • Greece 1967
  • Laos 1958-73
  • Ecuador 1961, 1963, 2010 unsuccessful
  • Chile 1973
  • Nicaragua 1979-90
  • Haiti 1991, 2004
  • Venezuela 2002 unsuccessful, 2015-present unsuccessful
  • Honduras 2009.

I am sure that all of the governments that we have attacked and overthrown were not perfect. On the other hand, the governments that replaced them with our blessing were all much worse.

Libya didn’t make the above list because it was not a democratically elected government. Yet under Moammar Gaddafi’s 42 years of leadership, it certainly had many socialist benefits that President Obama failed to mention when he declared it was necessary to militarily intervene: free healthcare; free education, including university & graduate school; $50,000 housing grant to all newlywed couples and complete equality for women, unheard of in the Muslim world. Gaddafi built what has been referred to as the 8th Wonder of the World, the Great Manmade River Project the largest system of underground pipes and aqueducts in the world that every day supplied 6.5 million cubic meters of fresh water to the coastal cities of Libya. In addition Gaddafi had proposed to unite the entire African continent under a common currency. Under Gaddafi, Libya had gone from being the poorest country on earth to having the highest standard of living on the African continent. Now after the US/NATO war, much of Libya is a failed state largely ruled by roving bands of armed gunmen and no one is safe.

An informed debate needs to be held on whether or not we should have a capitalist, socialist or some sort of hybrid economic system. But please don’t bring to the debate the argument that socialism has never been successful. Perhaps, the debate should start with the question, Why are the capitalists afraid of competition from socialism?

Communism/Capitalism

Nick is a Vietnam vet and was named Northwest Indiana Citizen of the Year 2006 for his anti war activism. For the last several years he has focused on monetary reform, changing our present system of bank created debt money to a public system of sovereign just money. https://www.monetaryalliance.org/

 

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Mueller and Barr: Dual Cover-Up?

By Michael Payne/ OpEd News/ March 29, 2019

We won’t know what really went on in the Mueller Russian investigation until Congress receives an unedited copy of Robert Mueller’s final report. But that doesn’t stop us from speculating as to what may be in the report and how it compares to the 4 page summary issued by Attorney General Barr; and if Barr and Mueller may be trying to pull off some kind of clever cover-up.

another cover-up?

We won’t know what really went on in the Mueller Russian investigation until Congress receives an unedited copy of Robert Mueller’s final report. But that doesn’t stop us from speculating as to what may be in the report and how it compares to the 4 page summary issued by Attorney General Barr; and if Barr and Mueller may be trying to pull off some kind of clever cover-up.

There are many ways to try to pull off a cover-up and sometimes it can be done by making it look like it’s not that at all. If there are any canny politicians who could do it, it is these two who have done just that in the past.

As we await that report, that Barr is already trying to suppress, let’s speculate as to what may be going on here. Based on Barr’s convoluted 4 page summary it would seem that Mueller has given Trump more or less of a free pass on collusion with Russia and has punted the issue of obstruction of justice down the field for House Democrats to address. If that’s the case, and it seems to be, then this looks like it could, in fact, be some kind of cover-up.

Could it be that Mueller, for various reasons, caved in to some kind of immense pressure and was, in some way, compromised to present a report that largely vindicates Trump of any wrongdoing?

What bothers a lot of Americans, and certainly myself, is the fact that over the past two years we have seen Mueller spend the lion’s share of his time going after a group of Trump associates, charging them with various white collar crimes such as tax evasion and money laundering. Some were charged with one or more crimes and some face prison time.

While there were no revealing leaks that came out of Mueller’s team of investigators there is this feeling that Mueller was concentrating almost all his efforts on Trump’s associates and little on Trump himself. I know that this is pure speculation but that’s the impression that many Americans get from this investigation. The longer this investigation went on the more Americans doubted that it was valid.

Didn’t Mueller see or hear of the interview that Trump had with Lester Holt of NBC in which this president clearly stated that he fired James Comey because of the Russian investigation that he didn’t want initiated? Is that not clear obstruction? Didn’t he happen to see any of the tweets or hear Trump’s ongoing public proclamations saying that this investigation was a hoax, a witch hunt, a fake, and must be ended?

Now as we look back at all these Trump tirades, when he should have just kept quiet, it seems that he might have known exactly what Mueller was doing; and his never ending attacks on Mueller were just an act.

When the fully unedited Mueller report is sent to Congress we may find out a lot more or, maybe not. We may find out that Mueller simply did a terrible job and should have charged the president with obstruction or that it looks like he was in some way compromised to look the other way.

One more thing about Mueller that most Americans probably don’t know a thing about. This is the same Robert Mueller who, in the aftermath of the 911 tragedy was, as head of the FBI, highly criticized for releasing deceptive documents that were a part of a cover-up of a prominent Saudi family’s connections to the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center.

This Saudi family that lived in Florida was reported to have direct ties to the 911 attackers. But, apparently, our government and Mueller, as head of the FBI, had reasons to try to protect this family from any involvement in the attack. So statements which served to do just that were issued by the FBI in Miami and Tampa, indicating that agents had found no connection between that family and the attackers.

This apparent cover-up by Mueller and FBI agents was, in the end, successful and this entire investigation just went away as Congress had been misinformed, believed the FBI conclusions, and did nothing further. While Mueller came under blistering criticism from the press nothing more came of the affair.

Now, let’s turn to Attorney General William Bar who, back in 1992 during the Iran-Contra investigations, was referred to as “Cover up-General Barr” by William Safire of the New York Times. He was called by this derogatory name because of his role in burying evidence of George H.W. Bush’s involvement in that investigation.”

Right now Attorney General Barr has attempted to use his 4 page summary to try to reduce expectations of what the Mueller report will reveal. He doesn’t seem intent on making this investigation one that is of critical importance to this country. Based on his cover-up reputation it’s very likely he will try to limit the content and conclusion of this report so that it is never presented in its entirety so that Congress and the American people are not fully informed.

So we know that Barr has a questionable past and is is known for having to do various things to try to cover up Republican presidents’ highly questionable acts and behavior. Check out Thom Hartmann’s article which goes much deeper into Barr’s cover-ups.

Hartman is reminding us that Barr has a history of being a lackey and a fixer for Republican presidents who were about to get into deep trouble. In this article he says.” back in 1992, the last time Bill Barr was U.S. attorney general, iconic New York Times writer William Safire referred to him as “Cover-up-General Barr” because of his role in burying evidence of then VP President and later President George H.W. Bush’s involvement in “Iraqgate” and “Iran-Contra.”

In the matter of Iran-Contra a special investigation was being conducted by Independent Counsel Lawrence Walsh into the roles of President Ronald Reagan and VP George H.W. Bush, as well as the defense secretary Casper Weinberger. William Barr was, at the time, Bush’s attorney general. Walsh was zeroing in on Weinberger and Bush as things were heating up and some serious charges were being prepared against the two and a few others.

At that point Barr, who had already been covering up for Bush, Weinberger and others in the previous Reagan administration, told Bush that he should pardon Weinberger and several others, which Bush did. And that was the abrupt end of the investigation. Independent Counsel Walsh’s main subjects for being responsible for the Iran-Contra affair could not be brought to justice.

Next let’s talk about Barr’s involvement in the Iraqgate investigation in which Bush had sold WMD’s to Saddam Hussein. AG Barr took charge of the situation and rejected the House Judiciary Committee’s request to name an independent counsel to investigate potential crimes by the Bush administration.

Barr, the master of cover-ups had, once again, been quite successful and any possibility of an extensive Iraqgate investigation simply disappeared.Just how will this current Mueller investigations work out? Are we seeing Barr, the master of cover-ups at work again in order to somehow thwart Democrat’s attempts to delve deeply into the Mueller report and find out exactly what did or did not happen? If he is trying for another cover-up it may end up as his undoing.

Trump is really riding high after the Barr report, reveling in his supposed victory and ready to make the Democrats pay dearly for trying to take him down. But what we are seeing is only chapter one in this important matter and soon we may see him stop laughing and start crying as all the facts come out.

And what of Mueller whose report is now becoming more and more suspect and that could be an indication that he is involved with some kind of cover-up. We don’t know all the facts, that’s for sure; but what we do know tells us that he concentrated heavily on tax evasion and money laundering and not much at all on Trump’s collusion and obstruction.

We are hearing that he is packing up his things and is ready to head out the door of the Justice Dept., wasting no time. So the jury is out on him and his investigation. But he should know that he will be at the center of this Congressional investigation, along with AG Barr for some time to come.

And let’s say this about both Barr and Mueller. Something about each of their behavior and actions relative to this investigation just doesn’t pass the smell test. If they are, in fact, engaging in some kind of dual cover-up relating to this investigation to keep the truth away from the House Democrats and the American people they will find that they will also go down together.

In any event we will just have to wait and see what really happens. And I sincerely hope that in my speculation about this matter I am entirely wrong about Robert Mueller.

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Pathetic Performance

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Is That Too Much to Ask?

Before we come to any conclusions about Mueller’s report, can we at least see it first? Congress and the American people deserve to see Mueller’s report, not just Trump’s hand-picked AG’s interpretation of it.

Mueller
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The Hypocrisy of Election Interference

By Arlen Grossman

It is nothing less than major-league hypocrisy when Americans criticize the Russians for interfering with our elections. To be sure, such intervention in our democratic functions is despicable and deserves condemnation and strong retribution. Russian influence likely helped elect the so-called president we have now.

The hypocrisy is that nobody has a longer history of election interference than the United States of America. Ever since the CIA was created in 1947, this country has sought to change the results of elections in foreign countries. One reputable study of instances of American intervention in elections beyond our borders lists at least 80–and that’s only up to the year 2000.

It’s wrong, no matter who does it.

Published in Monterey Herald, April 3, 2019

elections

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Too Many Gullible Americans

by Arlen Grossman

I worry about this country. A lot. And I believe with good reason. 

A USA Today/Suffolk poll released yesterday indicated that half of America shares Donald Trump’s view that Robert Mueller’s investigation is a “witch hunt.” To be sure, the poll question was flawed: “President Trump has called the Special Counsel’s investigation a ‘witch hunt’ and said he’s been subjected to more investigations than previous presidents because of politics. Do you agree?” (two questions in one),

Still, it is clear a large number of Americans have been swayed by Trump’s obsession with attacking Mueller’s probe and calling it a “witch hunt.” By constantly complaining about Mueller’s investigation, Trump has convinced millions of Americans that the investigation is biased against him. In another era, nearly all Americans would support Mueller (one of the most trusted, squeeky-clean, respected people in Washington), but in a divided America, Trump has apparently, with his withering attacks, seeded plenty of doubt about Mueller and the Russian probe.

This, combined with his consistent 40-45% approval rating as president, is scary. If many Americans can’t figure out that Trump is basically out of his mind and very dangerous, what does this tell us about the intelligence and gullibility of a large segment of our population? It tells me that he has pulled the wool over the eyes and brains of a great number of Americans.

In a previous post, How the Media Serve Trump, I explained how the corporate media serves Trump by constantly covering everything he rants about, and rarely presenting an opposition rebuttal. This bodes badly for the future of this country and indicates how susceptible Americans are to a persuasive potential dictator. 

Democracy is not as safe as Americans think it is.

witch

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Can We Fix a Broken System?

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The Oppression of the Supermajority

democracy

By Tim Wu/ New York Times/ March 5, 2019

We are told that America is divided and polarized as never before. Yet when it comes to many important areas of policy, that simply isn’t true.

About 75 percent of Americans favor higher taxes for the ultrawealthy. The idea of a federal law that would guarantee paid maternity leaveattracts 67 percent support. Eighty-three percent favor strong net neutrality rules for broadband, and more than 60 percent want stronger privacy laws. Seventy-one percent think we should be able to buy drugs imported from Canada, and 92 percent want Medicare to negotiate for lower drug prices. The list goes on.

The defining political fact of our time is not polarization. It’s the inability of even large bipartisan majorities to get what they want on issues like these. Call it the oppression of the supermajority. Ignoring what most of the country wants — as much as demagogy and political divisiveness — is what is making the public so angry.

Some might counter that the thwarting of the popular will is not necessarily worrisome. For Congress to enact a proposal just because it is supported by a large majority, the argument goes, would amount to populism. The public, according to this way of thinking, is generally too ill informed to have its economic policy preferences taken seriously.

It is true that policymaking requires expertise. But I don’t think members of the public are demonstrating ignorance when they claim that drug prices are too high, taxes could be fairer, privacy laws are too weak and monopolies are too coddled.

Others remind us that the United States is a democratic republic, not a direct democracy, and that the Constitution was designed to modulate the extremes of majority rule. Majorities sometimes want things — like bans on books, or crackdowns on minorities — that they should not be given.

This is true. It is also true that a thoughtful process of democratic deliberation and compromise can yield better policy outcomes than merely following the majority’s will. But these considerations hardly describe our current situation. The invocation of constitutional principle has become an increasingly lame and embarrassing excuse. The framers of the Constitution, having experienced a popular revolution, were hardly recommending that the will of the majority be ignored. The Constitution sought to fine-tune majoritarian democracy, not to silence it.

The most obvious historical precedent for our times is the Progressive era. During the first decades of the 20th century, the American public voted for politicians who supported economic reforms like maximum-hour work laws and bans on child labor. But the Supreme Court struck down most of Congress’s economic legislation, deeming it unconstitutional.

In our era, it is primarily Congress that prevents popular laws from being passed or getting serious consideration. (Holding an occasional hearing does not count as “doing something.”) Entire categories of public policy options are effectively off-limits because of the combined influence of industry groups and donor interests. There is no principled defense of this state of affairs — and indeed, no one attempts to offer such a justification. Instead, legislative stagnation is cynically defended by those who benefit from it with an unconvincing invocation of the rigors of our system of checks and balances.

exxon
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