WhoWhatWhy http://whowhatwhy.com Groundbreaking Investigative Journalism Mon, 01 Sep 2014 22:01:24 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Labor Day: Images From the Great Depression and the WPA http://whowhatwhy.com/2014/09/01/labor-day-images-from-the-great-depression-and-the-wpa/ http://whowhatwhy.com/2014/09/01/labor-day-images-from-the-great-depression-and-the-wpa/#comments Mon, 01 Sep 2014 11:00:27 +0000 http://whowhatwhy.com/?p=10844 John Steuart Curry “The Mississippi”

John Steuart Curry “The Mississippi”

Here, in honor of Labor Day, is a collection of paintings and prints from the Great Depression. Images from the glorious to the grim, all fascinating.

The Depression was characterized by unemployment, homelessness, hunger, bankruptcies, home foreclosures, dust, drought, and inequality in the distribution of wealth. And the infrastructure was crumbling. Sound familiar?

Do you ever wish for some kind of reincarnation of the New Deal?  You would not be the only one.  According to Nobel Prize-winning economist Paul Krugman “A rational political system would long since have created a 21st-century version of the Works Progress Administration — we’d be putting the unemployed to work doing what needs to be done, repairing and improving our fraying infrastructure.”

In 1935, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed into law the WPA—Works Progress Administration, later called the Work Projects Administration—and it brought the country back to life.

The program was ingenious: by solving unemployment, it also solved the problem of the infrastructure. Millions were employed by the WPA building “651,087 miles of highways, roads and streets; constructed, repaired or improved 124,031 bridges; erected 125,110 public buildings; created 8,192 public parks and built or improved 853 airports,” according to a journalist from the Depression era.

And it took people off welfare. Harry Hopkins, the chief architect of the New Deal, said, “Give a man a dole, and you save his body and destroy his spirit. Give him a job and you save both body and spirit.”

Among those saved were artists.  Part of the WPA was the Federal Arts Project which put unemployed artists back to work painting murals and creating sculptures for public buildings. When criticized for including artists and other white collar workers in the WPA, Hopkins said,

Would you put them out in a ditch with a pick axe and make them like it… We decided to take the skills of these people wherever we found them and put them to work to save their skills when the public wanted them.

Thanks to this inspired decision, we can enjoy these wonderful works of art.


 (click images to enlarge)


Winold Reiss  (Commissioned for Cincinnati Union Terminal)




Harry Sternberg   “Chicago: Epoch of a Great City”




Bernece Berkman  “South Chicago” (Series #7).




Thomas Hart Benton  “Kansas City”

“We have always known that heedless self-interest was bad morals; we know now that it is bad economics.”  Franklin D. Roosevelt




Thomas Hart Benton  “Boomtown”




Rowena Fry  “The Parking Lot”




Lily Furedi  “Subway”




Archibald Motley, Jr.“The Liar”




Daniel R. Celentano   “Festival” (Little Italy)




Daniel R. Celentano  “Italian Harlem Street Scene”




Dox Thrash  “Ship Fitters”




Nicolai Cikovsky  “On the East River”

“The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much; it is whether we provide enough for those who have too little.”  Franklin D. Roosevelt




Louis Lozowick  “Guts of Manhattan”




Harold Anchel  “Cafeteria”




Boris Gorelick  “Sweat Shop”




Fritz Eichenberg  “April”




Oscar Weissbuch  “American Scene”




Michael J. Gallagher  “Black Country”




Michael J. Gallagher   “The Wood Gatherer”




Manuel G. Silberger  “Labor”




Blanche Grambs  “No Work”




Joseph Hirsch  “Lunch Hour”




Thomas Hart Benton  “Mine Strike”




Hugo Gellert  “A Wounded Striker and the Soldier”




Minna Citron  “Strike News”

“The true conservative is the man who has a real concern for injustices and takes thought against the day of reckoning.”  Franklin D. Roosevelt




Conrad A. Albrizio  “The New Deal” Dedicated to President Roosevelt, 1934

There is a mysterious cycle in human events. To some generations much is given. Of other generations much is expected. This generation of Americans has a rendezvous with destiny.  Franklin D. Roosevelt



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Foggy Memories Obscure Forebears of Ferguson Unrest http://whowhatwhy.com/2014/08/30/foggy-memories-obscure-forebears-of-ferguson-unrest/ http://whowhatwhy.com/2014/08/30/foggy-memories-obscure-forebears-of-ferguson-unrest/#comments Sat, 30 Aug 2014 18:29:53 +0000 http://whowhatwhy.com/?p=10828 Life magazine cover about the Newark Riots.

Life magazine cover about the Newark Riots.

Collective amnesia about past eruptions of racial conflict has left Americans with a false sense that what happened in Ferguson is somehow new. But the only thing new is the technology. The attitudes on display are sadly familiar.

Forty-seven years ago, the African-American population of New Jersey’s largest city took to the streets after a violent encounter between white police officers and an unarmed black man. While the body count in Newark—26 people dead and 1,500 injured—was far greater than in the recent disturbances in Ferguson, Missouri, the parallels between the two tragedies are too clear to be ignored.

After the terrible events of July 1967, New Jersey Governor Richard Hughes was faced with the same formidable challenge that Missouri Governor Jay Nixon faces now: How to avert future eruptions along the racial fault line that has undermined the American experiment in democracy since before the nation was founded.

“Newark and Ferguson are absolutely linked,” says Paul McLemore, a front-line witness to the five days of rage that shook not just Newark and New Jersey but the entire nation. McLemore, the first African-American to become a New Jersey State trooper, was the only black trooper in Newark during what the media of the day called “the riots.” He later became a civil rights attorney and recently retired as a municipal court judge. Looking back at Newark through the lens of Ferguson, he told WhoWhatWhy: “Very little has changed between the police and the community over all these years. We still have a very deep divide along racial lines.”


The parallels are numerous:

In both Newark and Ferguson, a mostly African-American population was policed by an overwhelmingly white police force that reported to a white political power structure.

In both communities African-American families were struggling economically. Neighborhood tensions were exacerbated by a sky-high youth unemployment rate.

In both places the powers-that-be made a last-minute effort to promote a black man from within the ranks of law enforcement in hopes of placating a distrustful black population.

And in both Newark and Ferguson an aggressive response by the authorities to an initial incident triggered the prolonged period of civil unrest.

Violence in Newark Riots

Violence in Newark Riots

Racial tensions had been percolating in Newark for months before the summer of 1967. As the national civil rights movement gained momentum, the city’s black community was becoming more assertive. Heavy-handed land use decisions by the white municipal power structure, such as the decision to locate a new medical school in the heart of the black community, displacing long-time residents, generated organized push-back. African-Americans felt they were being taken for granted by the white politicians they had supported for a generation and had little tangible to show for their loyalty.


On July 12, 1967, police pulled over John W. Smith, an African-American cab driver, for what started out as an alleged traffic violation. Police contend Smith cursed at them when they encountered him and that when the police went to take Smith into custody he assaulted them. According to the police, they got Smith into their squad car but when they got to the precinct they maintain Smith continued to resist. This time, passersby who witnessed the altercation heckled the police, demanding that they take the handcuffs off Smith.

Large crowds formed outside the precinct house where Smith was held. Community leaders demanded to see him and when they were granted access, they discovered he needed immediate medical attention. Smith was sent to the hospital for treatment for a skull injury and broken ribs.  By 7 p.m. the next day, Smith was released to his lawyer but the damage was done. Word on the street was that Smith had been fatally beaten.

Over the next 24 hours, the Newark Police Department tried to keep a lid on a very dynamic situation. Cab drivers were mobilized to protest the treatment of their colleague, community members were protesting police brutality, and street conditions were deteriorating. Police were being pelted by debris and looting started to break out.

A victim of the Newark Riots

A victim of the Newark Riots

It wasn’t until 2:20 a.m. on the third day that Newark Mayor Hugh Addonizio called Governor Hughes to ask for the State Police and National Guard to be deployed to his city.

McLemore was ordered to report to the New Jersey State Police barracks at Hightstown in his riot gear. According to media accounts, fires were burning out of control in the central city. He joined a caravan of state police cars with hundreds of trooper heading up the New Jersey Turnpike, lights flashing. “The guys with me were just ecstatic, like they were going off to war,” McClemore says of the white troopers he rode with. “We got to where the Newark airport is. You could see Newark’s skyline and all you could see was smoke and flames. I thought `Lord, what is going to happen here?’”

“When we drove through the central district of Newark things had gotten so bad——Newark police community relations had deteriorated so much, people were out on their porches applauding us. `Hooray! The troops have arrived.  Everything will be fine. They will restore order.’ Black folks were welcoming the troops in.”
This welcoming attitude did not last long. Within days, Governor Hughes ordered the National Guard and the New Jersey State Police out of Newark. “When we left there,” McLemore says, “we were like a dog with its tail between its legs. People threw piss at us.”

What accounted for the New Jersey State Police and the National Guard’s precipitous fall from community grace?

The Lilley Report

The tragic details are laid out in an official account compiled by “The Governor’s Select Commission on Civil Disorder.” This document, known as the Lilley Report after its chairman, then AT&T President Robert D. Lilley, has slipped into undeserved obscurity.

In fact, the Lilley Report can serve as a model for anyone hoping to understand the troubles in Ferguson and other racially divided communities.

Armored personnel carrier in Newark

Armored personnel carrier in Newark

In August of 1967, a month after Newark burned, Governor Hughes convened a blue-ribbon panel of religious, political, and legal leaders and charged them with generating “a realistic analysis of the disorders….and practical proposals” to help prevent a recurrence of the unrest.

“They were not a bunch of bleeding-heart liberals,” says McLemore. “They came out with a very strong indictment of how the State Police and National Guard actually made a bad situation worse.”


Over months of investigation, the panel took sworn testimony from more than 100 witnesses ranging from the Superintendent of the New Jersey State Police to Amiri Baraka, a poet and playwright whose activism had made him a frequent target for the local police. The Commission also heard from John W. Smith, whose arrest was the flashpoint for events that would haunt Newark for decades.

After speaking with scores of Newark store owners and residents, the Commission concluded that members of both the police and the National Guard, motivated by racial prejudice, had used “excessive and unjustified force” on Newark residents, and had specifically targeted African-American-owned businesses for destruction. “These raids resulted in personal suffering to innocent small businessmen and property owners who have a stake in law and order and who had not participated in any unlawful act. It embittered the Negro community as a whole when the disorders had begun to ebb,” concluded the Commission.

Perhaps the most volatile issue raised by the breakdown of order in Newark was that of sniper fire.

Phantom Snipers

During the days of unrest law enforcement and the National Guard claimed that they were fired on by snipers, whose shots led to the deaths of a Newark police detective and a Fire Captain responding to a fire call.  While not outright rejecting this claim, the Lilley Report noted the doubts of Newark’s own Police Director at the time, Dominick Spina: “A lot of the reports of snipers was due to the, I hate to use the word, trigger-happy Guardsmen, who were firing at noises and firing indiscriminately, it appeared to me, and I was out in the field at all times.”

McLemore’s own experience shows how indiscriminate shooting by the police and National Guard resulted in dangerous “friendly fire” exchanges. He recalls walking in a patrol formation at dusk when a street light came on and a Newark cop on patrol with him reflexively shot it out, prompting another patrol to blindly return fire in his direction. “It was the Keystone Cops. You had a situation where the National Guard and police were shooting at each other.”

Out of the 26 fatalities during the five days of unrest, 23 (including a number of innocent bystanders) were from gunshot wounds. The Lilley report estimated that the National Guard and N.J. State police fired some 13,000 rounds in all. No total was available for the local police, who reported killing people, seven “justifiably” and three “by accident.”


What makes the Lilley Report required reading today is not just its detailed summary of what happened during the five days of civil unrest in Newark. Like the Kerner Commission, which then-President Lyndon Johnson created to look into the issue of urban unrest on a national scale, the Governor’s Select Commission took pains to place the 1967 disturbances in historical perspective.

The 200-page Lilley Report cast a critical eye on the City of Newark’s economic and political power structure. It identified a widening gap between the white-dominated municipal government and the overwhelmingly black electorate the city’s leaders were supposed to serve. It documented how African-American businesses and local contractors were systematically excluded from public contracts, and it characterized the pervasive corruption of Newark’s officialdom by quoting the words of one informant: “There is a price on everything in City Hall.”

Among the statistics the report laid out to describe Newark’s endemic poverty: the city had the highest maternal and infant mortality rate in the nation and the highest rate of tuberculosis infection, and it ranked ninth out of 302 American cities in severity of air pollution.

If further confirmation of the Lilley Report’s jaundiced view of Newark’s elected leadership were needed, not long after the report was released the city’s Mayor Hugh Addonizio was indicted and convicted on multiple corruption charges at a trial that linked him to organized crime.

Ignoring History

In contrast to the thoughtful, judicious Lilley Report, post-Ferguson analysis has so far failed to dig much deeper than perceived flaws in police tactics  Legal  scholar Gloria J. Browne-Marshall, a professor at John Jay College, says the current level of discourse around the issues raised by Ferguson is sadly diminished by the media’s short attention span. “You can’t get into a deeper conversation about race and the law with four people sharing a three-minute panel format.”

Rutgers Professor Clement Price, Newark’s official historian and one of the nation’s foremost authorities on black history, is more blunt. The analysis requires looking at St. Louis and white flight from an anthropological perspective, he said.

For Price, a common thread of enduring discrimination and resulting alienation from the political system links the Newark of 1967 and the Ferguson of 2014: “They’re predominately black towns but you would not know it from walking into City Hall, the Police Station or the Fire Department.”

State Police on patrol in Newark

State Police on patrol in Newark

Even today, in both Newark and Ferguson, African-American homeowners are in the midst of a foreclosure crisis that continues to undermine their neighborhoods. While economists proclaim the end of the Great Recession, 54 percent of mortgages in Newark are underwater, with the homeowner owing the bank more than the property is worth. In Ferguson, nearly half the households are underwater.

And yet the fate of the original Lilley Report, and of President Johnson’s Kerner Commission, shows that investigations by themselves can have no effect without the political will to act on their findings.

Two Societies 

In 1968 the Kerner Commission warned the country that “our nation” was “moving toward two societies, one black, one white—-separate and unequal.”  The Commission placed much of the blame for urban unrest on systemic white racism. It called for a massive Marshall Plan-like approach to improve economic conditions in African-American communities.

Dr. Martin Luther King hailed the Kerner report as a “physician’s warning of approaching death, with a prescription for life.”  But the report failed to gain traction with President Johnson, who was wholly pre-occupied with the Vietnam War. In April of 1968, after King’s assassination, rioting broke out in over 100 American cities. Yet Johnson still rejected the Kerner Commission’s recommendations. And of course, the Lilley Report failed to get the attention it merited.

Newark Riots. Credit: Blackpast.org

Newark Riots. Credit: Blackpast.org

The bizarre images of Ferguson police confronting civil disobedience with Army surplus heavy weaponry may have no direct historical antecedents. But focusing on what is superficially unique, as all too many reporters do, creates a kind of a Narcissism of Now that cuts us off from the lessons of our own history.

Today, tanks and automatic rifles; yesterday, police dogs and fire hoses.

Yes, we have been here before, and with a much higher body count. And we will be here again unless we stop pretending that the racial divide in Obama’s America is a thing of the past.


WhoWhatWhy plans to continue doing this kind of groundbreaking original reporting. You can count on us. Can we count on you? What we do is only possible with your support.

Please click here to donate; it’s tax deductible. And it packs a punch.


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How US helped ISIS, end to after-hours emails, how Reagan launched mass spying—and more headlines http://whowhatwhy.com/2014/08/28/how-us-helped-isis-end-to-after-hours-emails-how-reagan-launched-mass-spying-and-more-headlines/ http://whowhatwhy.com/2014/08/28/how-us-helped-isis-end-to-after-hours-emails-how-reagan-launched-mass-spying-and-more-headlines/#comments Fri, 29 Aug 2014 03:12:48 +0000 http://whowhatwhy.com/?p=10824
• No more after-hours calls/emails from boss?

• Reagan executive order that launched mass spying

And more headlines… ]]>
123• US decision to disband Iraqi army helped give ISIS its leadership and skills (New York Times)

• Judge may order Abu Ghraib prison abuse photos trove released  (Reuters)

• Open internet advocate campaign buoyed by NY Times endorsement (Gigaom)

• German trend toward banning after-hours communication with employees (Gigaom)

• Reagan-era executive order that led to mass spying (Ars Technica)

• Romney may run again—commentary on his views (Buzzflash)

• Research breakthrough in turning off emotional memories (New York Times)

• NRA tweets how kids can have fun with guns—after kid’s Uzi accident (TPM)

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Curious Car Crashes: Louis Freeh, The Man With The Secrets http://whowhatwhy.com/2014/08/28/curious-car-crashes-louis-freeh-the-man-with-the-secrets/ http://whowhatwhy.com/2014/08/28/curious-car-crashes-louis-freeh-the-man-with-the-secrets/#comments Thu, 28 Aug 2014 15:34:38 +0000 http://whowhatwhy.com/?p=10814 Freeh’s Wrecked Vehicle. Courtesy WFFF/WVNY

Freeh’s Wrecked Vehicle. Courtesy WFFF/WVNY

Any serious student of history is on alert for “interesting accidents.” Because sometimes they are accidents. Sometimes, they’re not.

We have no opinion at the moment on the one-car-wreck that left former FBI director Louis Freeh badly injured around noon on August 25, other than to note some curious facts: the police were hours late informing the office of the governor of Vermont; Freeh was flown by helicopter to the Dartmouth-Hitchcock Hospital in New Hampshire under armed guard, and has remained under armed guard; the hospital has refused to confirm that he is a patient, even after reports of two surgeries; at least for the first few days no one has answered the phones at his company, Freeh Group International.

The Crash

From news reports available at press time, Freeh

was headed south on Vermont 12 in his 2010 GMC Yukon when he drove off the east side of the road. The vehicle struck a mailbox and a row of shrubs, then came to rest against the side of a tree, police said…

Louis Freeh

Louis Freeh epitomizes the risks attendant in a president’s decision to demonstrate bipartisanship by appointing or re-appointing figures associated with the opposing political party and/or prior regime. He also embodies the troubled legacy of the Bureau from its earliest days. (For a look at how the U.S. media cooperated with the Bureau to misleadingly burnish its image, see this)

Louis Freeh was appointed by George H.W. Bush to the federal bench in 1991. In the first year of Bill Clinton’s presidency, Clinton named Freeh head of the FBI.

Right from the start, the Freeh FBI was drenched in controversy. The “screw-ups” were legion—from the exposure of fraudulent FBI crime lab results to the wrongful blaming of an innocent man for the bombings at the Atlanta Olympics—to the bloody standoff and shootout at Ruby Ridge.

Freeh vs the Clintons

In order to move the heat off himself and his agency, Freeh made political peace with Newt Gingrich and his firebrand GOP Congressional operation, deflecting the political pressure back onto the White House. He did this via a Campaign Finance Task Force under the auspices of his parent agency, the Justice Department, established in December of 1996 after Clinton’s re-election. This became, prior to 9/11, what some say was the largest federal investigation in U.S. history.

Over 300 FBI agents were assigned to the investigation, which targeted both Clinton and Gore. No one was ever indicted but a steady drip of leaked stories pounded Gore particularly—feeding the damaging story line that he was a captive of the China Lobby and possibly even compromised by certain foreign intelligence services. This long-simmering PR crisis did serious damage to Al Gore’s prospects in 2000, and thereby aided the campaign of George W. Bush, son of Freeh’s original sponsor.

Freeh, the Saudis and Terrorism

Even more fraught was Freeh’s behavior during the investigation of the massive bombing of U.S. military facilities at the Khobar Towers development in Saudi Arabia. According to the former counterintelligence officials Daniel Benjamin and Steven Simon in the book The Age of Sacred Terror, Clinton foreign policy officials felt that Freeh was deeply influenced by the Saudi power structure.

Eventually, Freeh, according to the authors, called the elder Bush and asked him to intervene with Crown Prince Abdullah to allow FBI agents to watch through a one-way mirror while Saudi agents questioned Khobar bombing suspects. They allege that he ignored the chain of command and Clinton’s National Security Council in bringing Bush Sr. into these sensitive negotiations.

In his memoirs, Freeh claimed that Clinton suspected the Saudis, while suggesting that he himself was convinced that Iranian operatives had executed the bombing. (It’s important here to note the Bush family’s long and close ties to the Saudi royal family and the political agenda at work in shifting blame to the hated Iranians.)

Freeh also curtailed FBI agent John P. O’Neill’s investigation into a possible Al Qaeda role in the Khobar bombing and the later attacks on the USS Cole in Yemen. Freeh even pulled O’Neill out of Yemen during the Cole investigation. By transferring O’Neill to New York City, Freeh sided with U.S. Ambassador Barbara Bodine, a Clinton holdover in the new Bush administration, and with Saudi officials who wanted O’Neill out of their way. The aim, it appears, was to shield certain suspects (and any possible sponsors) from over-zealous American investigators. Later, Freeh thwarted O’Neill’s efforts to become head of the FBI NYC field office.

In an extraordinary turn of events, John O’Neill died in the destruction of the Twin Towers—which were allegedly brought down by a group of hijackers dominated by Saudi nationals.


If he dared, Louis Freeh could shed a great deal of light on two decades of frequent security emergencies that have led to the greatest buildup of state power in the history of the United States—and limited Americans’ freedom and privacy as never before. Freeh’s strange crash—like most such incidents (see the bizarre one-car crash that killed national security reporter Michael Hastings) – will almost certainly be explained as a flukish accident.

And Freeh, the lucky survivor, is unlikely to volunteer to spread truth about the crash, or any of the other curious events in which he has been involved as the consummate intelligence-establishment insider.

WhoWhatWhy plans to continue doing this kind of groundbreaking original reporting. You can count on us. Can we count on you? What we do is only possible with your support. Please click here to donate; it’s tax deductible. And it packs a punch.
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Why Journalist’s “Staged” Beheading Matters http://whowhatwhy.com/2014/08/26/why-journalists-staged-beheading-matters/ http://whowhatwhy.com/2014/08/26/why-journalists-staged-beheading-matters/#comments Tue, 26 Aug 2014 22:14:00 +0000 http://whowhatwhy.com/?p=10805  

Screenshot of James Foley execution video

Screenshot of James Foley execution video

James Foley’s beheading made him into something no journalist wants to be: a part of the story.

Not only has his murder by ISIS terrorists made him part of the story, it has made the freelancer for GlobalPost a central figure in the story about America going back to war in Iraq.

In what has become a grim kabuki theater since the beheading of Daniel Pearl by al-Qaeda, Foley’s death was apparently recorded in high definition and broadcast globally on social media.

Now the question of whether Foley’s killing was staged for the cameras has arisen, the suggestion being that his murder took place off-camera. The analysis holds that his apparent beheading by a British-accented jihadi was merely a show. The big question is why, and why would that matter?

Let’s start off with one major premise that those stories missed. Foley’s death was absolutely staged for the cameras. The very nature of terrorism is that it is staged. What separates ordinary barbarity from terrorism is that the latter is by definition a gruesome performance art.

Terrorism is about headlines.

So why would ISIS fake it? Firstly, and it’s only speculation, is the possibility that Foley and his killers struck a deal: He reads their message to America clearly for maximum impact and plays along with the cameras in exchange for a quick death later.

What does ISIS gain from that? A huge propaganda victory that grabs the attention of the Western, and particularly, American, media. If they did negotiate a “humane death” in exchange for getting their message out, then it represents a whole other level of sophisticated evil. Ordinary terrorists operate in absolutes and don’t usually negotiate with a focus on perfecting their propaganda.

The sad part is that Foley is another victim in the post-9/11 war. He is perhaps even the victim of a second-generation jihadi, the son of a man involved in Osama Bin Laden’s bombings of the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998.

There is still a spate of coverage about his killing, including the analysis of his video, enduring and questionable criticisms about how freelancers like him face risks that staff journalists for big companies don’t, and the typical post-event questions about how President Obama handled the situation. There is even a debate on whether the U.S. should follow its European counterparts in paying ransoms to terrorists.

All of this ignores an elemental question about the news coverage of Foley’s deaths and others like his.

If terrorists derive power, propaganda value and even recruiting strength from the publication and media coverage of their atrocities, then are journalists who cover their unfortunately newsworthy atrocities encouraging the very people who target them for death?


Correction: The original posting incorrectly listed the date of the US embassy bombings in Tanzania and Kenya. The date is now correct. 


WhoWhatWhy plans to continue doing this kind of groundbreaking original reporting. You can count on us. Can we count on you? What we do is only possible with your support.

Please click here to donate; it’s tax deductible. And it packs a punch.

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Hillary War Hawk, How Foley Helped Others, Spooks Tip Off Tor—And More Headlines http://whowhatwhy.com/2014/08/25/hillary-war-hawk-how-foley-helped-others-spooks-tip-off-tor-and-more-headlines/ http://whowhatwhy.com/2014/08/25/hillary-war-hawk-how-foley-helped-others-spooks-tip-off-tor-and-more-headlines/#comments Mon, 25 Aug 2014 22:44:59 +0000 http://whowhatwhy.com/?p=10773
• Foley did not die in vain

• Spooks tip off Tor to privacy software bugs

And more headlines… ]]>
1• Hillary Clinton a ‘War Hawk,’ Charges Rand Paul (Guardian)

• After-effects of Slavery Still Linger (Boston Globe)

• James Foley Did Not Die in Vain (Al Jazeera America)

• Intriguing: Earthquake Light (Wikipedia)

• Unidentified Warplanes Target Libyan capital (Reuters)

• Dan Rather: War hawks Should Send Their Own Children  (Mediaite)

• Obama Posed as Progressive But Was ‘Counterfeit,’ Says Cornel West (Salon)

• Tor Tipped to Bugs in Privacy Software…By Intel Sources (BBC)

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Counterinsurgency in the U.S.A: The RadioWHO Podcast Premiere http://whowhatwhy.com/2014/08/24/counterinsurgency-in-the-u-s-a-the-radiowho-podcast-premiere/ http://whowhatwhy.com/2014/08/24/counterinsurgency-in-the-u-s-a-the-radiowho-podcast-premiere/#comments Sun, 24 Aug 2014 19:20:48 +0000 http://whowhatwhy.com/?p=10764 Think we don’t have a shooting war on American soil?

Tune in for the premiere of the RadioWHO podcast, where you’ll learn all about that quiet war from WhoWhatWhy reporter Douglas Lucas.

Host Guillermo Jimenez and Lucas discuss how the drug war on the Mexican border has morphed into a counterinsurgency war that has Mexican and American forces crossing into each other’s territory with surprising frequency. Lucas walks through his reporting and how he discovered new information about the scope of this facet of the drug war.

RadioWHO host Guillermo Jimenez (L) and Douglas Lucas

RadioWHO host Guillermo Jimenez (L) and Douglas Lucas


RadioWHO Episode 1 Guest: Douglas Lucas by Whowhatwhy on Mixcloud

Later, he describes what it felt like to be the subject of obvious—and suspicious—surveillance at a recent hacker conference, at which his phone was remotely hacked. As a journalist who has reported extensively on the case of Barrett Brown, Lucas is only too aware of the risks reporters face when their work is perceived as a challenge to the national security apparatus.

The expanding security state is also a specialty of Guillermo Jimenez, who’s producing and hosting the RadioWho podcast in addition to his Traces of Reality podcast. A new feature to our site, RadioWHO will appear twice a month with unique insight from Guillermo Jimenez and his guests.



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Deep Politics for Lunch http://whowhatwhy.com/2014/08/21/deep-politics-for-lunch/ http://whowhatwhy.com/2014/08/21/deep-politics-for-lunch/#comments Thu, 21 Aug 2014 19:06:22 +0000 http://whowhatwhy.com/?p=10749 deepRecently, a number of influential authors and researchers into the nature of democracy and the security state gathered for lunch at the home of Peter Dale Scott, who’s credited with coining the phrase “deep politics.”

They are pictured below, from left: Scott; WhoWhatWhy Editor-in-Chief Russ Baker; Salon founder and media entrepreneur David Talbot; celebrated Pentagon Papers whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg; and former Washington Post editor and reporter Jefferson Morley. (Scott has contributed to the pages of WhoWhatWhy; and Talbot and Ellsberg are on our Editorial Advisory Council):


Click to Enlarge

What each man shares is authorship of at least one book investigating the shrouded history of the U.S. and the deeper connections at work behind our politics and wars. Besides the vegetarian lunch, the group compared notes and discussed the present condition of the “deep state.”

Here are some of the works produced by the authors that we think you’ll enjoy reading:

-  Scott is the author of American War Machine: Deep Politics, the CIA Global Drug Connection, and the Road to Afghanistan

-  Baker wrote Family of Secrets: The Bush Dynasty, America’s Invisible Government, and the Hidden History of the Last Fifty Years

-  Talbot penned Brothers: The Hidden History of the Kennedy Years

-  Ellsberg is the author of Secrets: A Memoir of Vietnam and the Pentagon Papers

-  Morley wrote Our Man in Mexico: Winston Scott and the Hidden History of the CIA

]]> http://whowhatwhy.com/2014/08/21/deep-politics-for-lunch/feed/ 8 UK Cops Almost Never Fire, New Fracking Health Worry, Homeless Savings —and More Headlines http://whowhatwhy.com/2014/08/20/uk-cops-almost-never-fire-new-fracking-health-worry-homeless-savings-and-more-headlines/ http://whowhatwhy.com/2014/08/20/uk-cops-almost-never-fire-new-fracking-health-worry-homeless-savings-and-more-headlines/#comments Wed, 20 Aug 2014 20:51:05 +0000 http://whowhatwhy.com/?p=10745
• Fracking chemicals toxic to humans, says study

• Savings accounts for homeless

And more headlines… ]]>
213• Fascinating explanation of story behind Ferguson unrest (New York Times)

• How many times UK cops fired guns last year: 3 (PRI)

• Savings accounts for homeless (City Limits)

• Five deported children murdered (Los Angeles Times)

• Top GOP hopefuls embroiled in scandal (NBC News)

• Mother Teresa was no saint, says study (Liberty Voice)

• Study finds 8 fracking chemicals toxic to humans (EcoWatch)

• Time Inc. rates writers on how ‘beneficial’ they are to advertisers (Gawker)

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Missouri Burning: When the Army Isn’t More Firepower http://whowhatwhy.com/2014/08/19/missouri-burning-when-calling-in-the-army-doesnt-mean-more-firepower/ http://whowhatwhy.com/2014/08/19/missouri-burning-when-calling-in-the-army-doesnt-mean-more-firepower/#comments Tue, 19 Aug 2014 20:10:20 +0000 http://whowhatwhy.com/?p=10727 When the Thin Blue Line Turns Army Green. Credit: Tyson Manker

When the Thin Blue Line Turns Army Green. Credit: Tyson Manker

The Missouri National Guard’s deployment to quell rioting over the police killing of an unarmed black teen may mark the first time in U.S. history that putting soldiers on American streets isn’t an escalation of firepower.

The violence in Ferguson, Missouri, sparked by the death of 18-year-old Michael Brown is following the usual arc of a story about fraught race relations in America. Yet there is a big difference between this familiar tale and earlier ones, and it’s why Ferguson will make a different kind of history.

If accusations of excessive force by police, protests morphing into riots and deployment of the National Guard to quell the situation sound like parts of a familiar storyline, it’s because they are. The U.S. saw it most recently during the 1992 Los Angeles riots, set off by the acquittal of four white police officers in the beating of motorist Rodney King. The arrival of the National Guard is a regular feature in the history of American race riots.

This kind of event, typically, first sketches out the national racial divide in sharp relief, with the media cliché of “racially charged” setting up expectations for what’s coming next. Then the sides in the debate emerge and the narrative battle begins in earnest, alongside the street fighting. Sometime later, a unifying message like “Can we all get along?” surfaces, and around that, come the stories about unity and the process of healing.

It’s too early for that kind of closure in Ferguson, and there’s a big reason why that may not be how this ends.


Ferguson’s tale stuck to the race-riot script until the police responded to the protests, the rioting and the looting ignited by Brown’s death. The police show of force shocked the nation: huge armored vehicles on patrol, with officers in camouflage, body armor, helmets and gas masks, wielding battlefield hardware like assault and sniper rifles. The images drew visual comparisons of soldiers on patrol in Iraq and Afghanistan—comparisons too striking to ignore.

Attorney General Eric Holder, usually firmly on the side of expansive government power, expressed a deep concern “that the deployment of military equipment and vehicles sends a conflicting message.”

The public outcry over what’s happened in Ferguson hasn’t been marked principally by the usual polarizing racial divisions. The flashpoint has been by color-blind fury at the military weaponry and police heavy-handedness on display. Former soldiers have expressed anger, and pointed out that even if the police have the arsenal, they don’t have the training and discipline to operate like the military.


Ferguson is not an isolated example of this phenomenon. The flood of free surplus military weapons into police departments large and small is a problem that’s been growing nationwide since the drawdowns in Afghanistan and Iraq. The Department of Defense program that hands out the weapons has been in operation since 1990, when it was conceived to ensure police weren’t outgunned in the drug war.

It’s under a similar conceit of exaggerated threats that the program blossomed during the “war on terror.” The billions of dollars in Homeland Security cash-cow programs have given license to police departments to snap up everything they can. (For our earlier coverage of this issue, please click here and here)

To see how easy it is for police to score military hardware like the Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicle (shown below), take a look at this website where the law enforcement agencies patrolling Ferguson may have gotten their battle gear.

1233The deployment of equipment like that is why Ferguson has more in common with the near-martial law lockdown in the aftermath of the Boston Marathon Bombing than it does with the L.A. riots. In Boston, there was a glimpse of the Homeland Security-industrial complex in the form of the presence of private security contractor Craft International, which trains law enforcement in military tactics.

Yet in Ferguson the police went further than just rolling out with battlefield equipment and a military mentality. They arrested and attacked journalists, and peaceful protesters alike.

The response and violation of civil rights drew widespread criticism from ordinary people and President Obama, who said there was “no excuse for police to use excessive force against peaceful protests, or to throw protestors in jail for lawfully exercising their First Amendment rights” or journalists for doing their jobs. (New York Times reporter James Risen has something to say about that last contradiction.)


There is no reason to think that the confrontation isn’t also about race, the still-lingering effects of segregation and the feeling among American blacks that police and courts treat them unfairly. Ninety-three percent of Ferguson’s 512 arrests stemming from a vehicle stop last year were of blacks, according to data from Missouri’s Attorney-General. That’s against a black population of about 63 percent.

Nor is there any reason to think that it isn’t about economic inequality caused in part by the political control of Ferguson’s patronage by whites and the situation of enmity and disenfranchisement that creates.


That’s why the circumstances of Michael Brown’s shooting, subject of an FBI civil rights investigation and a state probe, will matter to a lot of people. For that reason, the question of his image as either a good boy or a strong-arm robber who had marijuana in his system will be much discussed. So, too, the results of the three autopsies on him will be debated until the justice system renders its verdict.

However, there is every reason to think that the confrontation in Ferguson will eventually be remembered more for its demonstration of the growing American police state and erosion of civil liberties since 9/11. Even President Obama, not one to routinely challenge the security apparatus, has proposed a second look at the Defense Department program:

“It’s probably useful for us to review how the funding has gone, how local law enforcement has used grant dollars, to make sure that what they’re… purchasing is stuff that they actually need. Because, you know, there is a big difference between our military and our local law enforcement, and we don’t want those lines blurred. That would be contrary to our traditions.

So whether military hardware stays on Main Street is to be decided by the same federal government that has been putting it there for a quarter-century. It remains to be seen if Obama’s nascent initiative, and other Democratic-led efforts in the House and the Senate, will have a practical effect before the headline-driven political will for action dies down.

The outcome will determine if Ferguson is remembered as another stain on the history of U.S. race relations, or as a landmark event in the struggle against the post-9/11 expansion of the American security state.


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