- Please send as far and wide as possible.
Editor, The Konformist
Independent Investigative Journalism Since 1995
From the Desk of Robert Parry
Sometimes it's hard to assess progress. You keep chugging forward
but often it doesn't seem like you're getting that far or at least
not as far as you'd like. Over the past 11-plus years, that's how
it's felt editing this investigative news Web site.
We started out in 1995 with the idea that the Internet - then still
in its infancy - could permit the kind of serious journalism that
was becoming an endangered species elsewhere.
In the mid-1990s, there was tabloid 24-hour cable news; there was
hate-filled talk radio; there was inconsequential insider journalism
from the Washington press corps. What there wasn't was a commitment
to give the American people the information they needed to be
As a mainstream reporter who investigated the Iran-Contra Affair for
the Associated Press and Newsweek - and saw how the full truth of
that scandal was obscured - I feared that the United States was
stumbling into dangerous terrain, a place where important news vital
to a democratic Republic was devalued in favor of "content."
So, I cashed out my Newsweek retirement fund and started
Consortiumnews.com. From the first, we had two primary goals: to
generate well-written stories about real news and to alert the
public to the disturbing transformation underway in the U.S. news
We achieved some notable successes - salvaging the history of the
early Republican contacts with Iran's Islamist regime, exposing
secrets about covert U.S. dealings with Saddam Hussein's Iraq,
chronicling the CIA's extraordinary contra-cocaine admissions,
explaining the corrupting financial influence of Rev. Sun Myung
Moon's organization on the GOP, and many more.
Regrettably, however, I couldn't match our journalistic achievements
with my fundraising skills. So, in early 2000, I put the Web site on
a part-time basis and went to work as an editor at the business wire
service Bloomberg News to pay off the bills.
One of our last stories before that change was an article describing
how mainstream and right-wing reporters were distorting Election
2000 by falsifying the words of Vice President Al Gore, such as the
apocryphal quotes about "inventing the Internet" and
having "started" the Love Canal clean-up. [See "Al Gore v. the
Though we did keep the Web site alive and wrote some valuable
articles during Campaign 2000, we could have done a lot more. I
firmly believe that full-time reporting at our site could have
contributed to a different outcome for the country.
Similarly, our part-time operation did the best it could in the
crucial years of 2001-2004. We challenged the intelligence case for
invading Iraq and warned about the military dangers that lay ahead.
But again it was not enough.
In spring 2004, I quit Bloomberg News to write Secrecy & Privilege
and to pick up the pace at Consortiumnews.com.
Over the past year or so, we have transformed the Web site into an
almost daily source for news, posting fresh stories on a variety of
topics, though still with our focus on the Bush administration's
ongoing lies about the Iraq War and the erosion of civil liberties
in the United States.
In 2006, for the first time, our annual budget topped $100,000,
reaching $109,000, still an amazingly small amount for the impact
that our journalism has. Not only do our stories reach hundreds of
thousands of readers a month at our free Web site, but they are re-
posted widely across the Internet, reaching millions of people
We also are putting the finishing touches on a sequel to Secrecy &
Privilege, entitled Neck Deep. While Secrecy & Privilege
concentrated on how George H.W. Bush laid the foundation for the
Bush Dynasty, Neck Deep examines how George W. Bush restored his
family to power and what that has meant to the American Republic.
Despite our journalistic accomplishments, however, I must admit I'm
still slogging along on the fundraising front.
For us to maintain our current pace - and hopefully expand our work -
we need the support of you, our readers. Some have put in good
words for us with institutional funders, such as Working Assets, and
we certainly hope those initiatives bear fruit.
But the bottom line is that we are reliant on the generosity of our
readers to pay most of the bills. Without your help, we simply won't
have a future.
We have set a target of $25,000 for our mid-year fundraiser, which
represents a bare-bones amount for producing the journalism and
paying other expenses.
So, if you can, please consider a tax-deductible donation to the
Consortium for Independent Journalism, our parent organization.
For donations of $100 or more, you can receive an autographed,
special pre-release-date copy of Neck Deep (expected out in early
July) or a signed copy of my previous two books, either Secrecy &
Privilege or Lost History.
You can make a contribution either by credit card by clicking here
or by sending a check to:
Consortium for Independent Journalism (CIJ)
2200 Wilson Blvd.
Arlington, VA 22201.
For those who use PayPal, donations can be made to our account,
(If you wish to receive a gift book, please specify which one.)
Thanks so much for your support.
Robert Parry, Editor
God & Sarah Silverman
God: "I had a really good time. A really, really good time."
Sarah: "Thanks. Me too."
God: "Come to Heaven with me today."
God: "We can see the past and the future. We can fly. And I will
introduce you to Thomas Jefferson."
Sarah: "Oh, awesome. I told my friend Natalie I would help her move,
God: "I could stop time."
Sarah: "That is so sweet. Oh your pants are over there. I mean not
like I'm asking you to leave. I just mean if you can't see it from
this angle of still being in my bed."
God: "Right. I should go."
Sarah: "Okay. Um. Alright. I guess I'll see you around sometime."
God: "Do you mean it? Or are you just saying that?"
God & Sarah Silverman the morning after having sex on The Sarah
Silverman Program. (Note: God is a black man.)
An attack on academic freedom
Critic of Zionism denied tenure at US university
By Joe Kay
18 June 2007
Earlier this month, DePaul University denied tenure to Norman
Finkelstein, a professor of political science who has written
numerous works criticizing the policies of Israel and the misuse of
the charge of anti-Semitism against opponents of Zionism. The denial
of Finkelstein's tenure, and with it the termination of his position
at DePaul, is a clear attack on academic freedom and the
victimization of a professor because of his political views.
The denial of Finkelstein's tenure at DePaul, a Catholic university
that is one of the largest private universities in the country, was
confirmed in a June 8 letter from DePaul's president, Dennis
Holtschneider. Holtschneider affirmed a 4-3 vote by the University
Board on Promotion and Tenure. In a highly unusual step, the board
overruled both the department of political science faculty and a
university-wide faculty committee, both of which supported
Finkelstein's tenure bid. Finkelstein's tenure was opposed by the
Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, Charles Suchar.
"I met the standards of tenure DePaul required, but it wasn't enough
to overcome the political opposition to my speaking out on the
Israel-Palestine conflict," Finkelstein said. He called the decision
an "egregious violation" of academic freedom.
Also denied tenure at the same time was Professor Mehrene Larudee,
who works in an unrelated field but who had helped organize support
for Finkelstein. Larudee had received the unanimous backing of the
college faculty and Dean Suchar.
In the months leading up to the June vote, opposition to
Finkelstein's tenure had become a national campaign, spearheaded by
Harvard University Professor Alan Dershowitz. Dershowitz, who has
most recently achieved notoriety for his arguments in favor of
torture, has been one of the targets of many of Finkelstein's
Finkelstein, a Jewish son of Holocaust survivors, has been a
professor at DePaul since 2001. He is best known for his 2000 book
The Holocaust Industry, the central thesis of which is that the
Holocaust has been exploited for ends that had nothing to do with
historical truth or the victims of the Nazi genocideincluding
support for Israel and calls for reparations. Finkelstein has also
written critical studies of Daniel Goldhagen's book Hitler's Willing
Executioners, which argued that the cause of the Holocaust could be
located in the inherent anti-Semitism of the German people as a
Finkelstein's most recent book, Beyond Chutzpah: On the Misuse of
Anti-Semitism and the Abuse of History, continues on these themes,
as well as documenting in detail the human rights violations of the
state of Israel. Among the targets of the book, published by the
University of California press, are Dershowitz and others who have
used the charge of anti-Semitism to suppress criticism of Israeli
The campaign to suppress Finkelstein's views did not begin with the
attempt to deny him tenure. When The Holocaust Industry first came
out, it was the subject of vicious attack in the American media. A
review in the New York Times by professor Omer Bartov slandered it
as "a novel variation of the anti-Semitic forgery, `The Protocols of
the Elders of Zion.'" Other reviews were no less objective, seeking
to create a false amalgam between Finkelstein and anti-Semitic
As Finkelstein sought to publish Beyond Chutzpah, Dershowitz
organized a campaign to try to prevent its publication, threatening
expensive libel lawsuits against anyone who decided to print it. He
even wrote to Arnold Scwarzenegger in a failed attempt to get the
California governor to intervene and stop UC from publishing the
When Finkelstein's tenure came up for review, Dershowitz produced a
memo attacking him, which he sent to DePaul faculty and
administration. Nevertheless, Finkelstein received strong support
from fellow faculty members and prominent scholars in the field,
including Raul Hilberg, considered one of the fathers of Holocaust
Given this support, the quality of Finkelstein's scholarship could
not be the rationale given by the university in denying him tenure.
Instead, the members of the University Board on Promotion and
Tenure, along with Dean Suchar and President Holtschneider, focused
on the alleged "hurtful" character of Finkelstein's writings and
their supposed failure to follow strictures of "collegiality."
In its statement rejecting tenure, the board acknowledged that
Finkelstein is "a nationally known scholar and public intellectual,
considered provocative, challenging and intellectually interesting."
It also wrote, "By all accounts, he is an excellent teacher, popular
with his students and effective in the classroom."
However, the board when on to declare without providing any
examples, "some might interpret parts of his scholarship
as `deliberately hurtful' as well as provocative more for
inflammatory effect than to carefully critique or challenge accepted
assumptions." Carefully using the passive voice to avoid
attribution, it declared, "Criticism has been expressed for his
inflammatory style and personal attacks in his writings and
intellectual debates ... It was questioned by some whether Dr.
Finkelstein effectively contributes to the public discourse on
sensitive societal issues."
While not indicating who fell under the category of "some" people,
and while denying that the board was subject to the pressure of the
campaign against Finkelstein, it is evident that the board and top
university administrators were reacting to the pressure of
Dershowitz and his backers, no doubt including some prominent donors
The concern of those seeking to deny Finkelstein tenure had nothing
to do with "collegiality." If there were any group best able to
evaluate Finkelstein's performance in this regard, it would
certainly be his colleagues at DePaul, who the university was forced
to overrule in making its decision. In any case, such reasons are
generally considered to be insufficient for denying tenure to a
professor, especially one who has the backing of his fellow faculty
members and students.
President Holtschneider ended his letter to Finkelstein explaining
the decision with the incredible statement, "Some will consider this
decision in the context of academic freedom. In fact academic
freedom is alive and well at DePaul."
If the decision stands, as appears likely, Finkelstein will serve
one more year at DePaul before being dismissed. Faculty at DePaul
are considering advancing a vote of no confidence against Dean
Suchar and President Holtschneider. Students staged a sit-in of the
President's office, but were driven off by campus police and
threatened with expulsion last week.
The attack on Finkelstein is by no means unique. Other academics in
the US have been victimized for their views on the Israel-
Palestinian conflict, including Joseph Massad of Columbia University
and Sami al-Arian of the University of South Florida. Al-Arian was
imprisoned and is to be deported on the basis of trumped up
Students on college campuses who have campaigned for divestment from
Israel have been smeared as anti-Semitic, and organizations have
been set up, including Daniel Pipes' Campus Watch web site, to
monitor and intimidate professors critical of Israeli and US policy.
These campaigns have been part of a growing attempt to suppress
debate and intimidate oppositional sentiment at universities in the
Lou Pearlman Charged With Bank Fraud
The Associated Press
Thursday, June 14, 2007
ORLANDO, Fla. -- Lou Pearlman was forced out of hiding Thursday
after being expelled by Indonesian authorities and turned over to
the FBI. He was flown to Guam to appear before a judge, officials
Pearlman's arrest on one felony count of bank fraud ended several
months of hiding for the boy-band mogul, who created the Backstreet
Boys and 'N Sync. He also faces several lawsuits and two involuntary
bankruptcy proceedings, but hasn't responded to court subpoenas and
doesn't have an attorney in either bankruptcy case.
"We expect that he will be returned to Florida," said Steve Cole, a
spokesman for the U.S. Attorney's Office in Tampa.
Pearlman was also involved in airplane charters, talent scouting,
restaurants and other ventures.
Banks are hounding Pearlman and his companies for more than $120
million, according to bankruptcy court documents. It wasn't entirely
clear how he allegedly committed bank fraud in the federal charges,
which were filed in a criminal complaint March 2 and sealed until
However, court documents filed by the Florida Office of Financial
Regulation and in lawsuits against Pearlman allege he created a fake
accounting firm that prepared bogus statements for investors.
Federal and state authorities raided Pearlman's home and offices in
The FBI forwarded information about Pearlman to Indonesian
authorities. He was deemed an "undesirable visitor" and thrown out
of the country. Pearlman was apprehended at a hotel on the resort
island of Bali, the FBI said.
Pearlman lost control of several companies in February when a state
judge appointed a receiver to take over the books.
The receiver, Jerry McHale, said Pearlman appears to have defrauded
about 1,000 individual investors of more than $315 million.
Pearlman allegedly sold a bogus savings-account plan promising large
dividends, then transferred payments to himself, his associates and
across his companies.
Soneet Kapila, the court-appointed trustee in the bankruptcy cases,
said the arrest should help authorities sort through Pearlman's
confusing financial picture.
"I'm looking forward to seeing him on American soil," Kapila
said. "I'm anxious to see what he had in his possession, where he
was located, and how anything he had in his possession will help me
locate the assets."
Pearlman's books are convoluted and incomplete, investigators say.
He apparently created more than 100 companies _ a separate one for
each business venture _ but treated them all as one by blindly
transferring assets and paying bills.
Associated Press Writer Jim Ellis in Orlando contributed to this
EW Names 'Die Hard' Best Action Movie Ever
LOS ANGELES (June 15) -- "Die Hard," starring Bruce Willis as a
tough cop battling terrorists, was named the best action film ever
by Entertainment Weekly magazine -- two weeks before the series'
fourth installment, "Live Free or Die Hard," hits theaters.
The magazine on Thursday unveiled a list of top 25 action movies
picked by its writers and editors spanning a wide range of films:
from 1938's "The Adventures of Robin Hood" to director Akira
Kurosawa's "Seven Samurai" in 1954 (No. 6) and the 2004 computer-
animated film, "The Incredibles" (No. 25).
Space adventure "Aliens" followed "Die Hard" in the No. 2 slot
with "Raiders of the Lost Ark" at No. 3 and "The Road Warrior"
and "The Matrix" at No. 4 and No. 5, respectively.
But it was 1988's "Die Hard," starring Willis as tough-as-nails New
York cop John McClane who battles terrorists in a Los Angeles high-
rise, that blew the biggest Hollywood fireball for the magazine's
Back in summer 1988, "Die Hard" was notable mostly for its gun
battles and explosions, including blowing up an L.A. high-rise. The
movie raked in $138 million worldwide and made Willis a major movie
Two sequels, "Die Hard 2: Die Harder" and "Die Hard With a
Vengeance," followed in 1990 and 1995, respectively.
The fourth film, "Live Free or Die Hard," lands in theaters on June
27, and this time McClane is saving the world from a mad genius
mounting a digital attack on computer networks.
An Entertainment Weekly spokeswoman said the list was picked without
any regard to "Live Free's" opening date or its interview with
Willis that hits newsstands on Friday.
"After we finalized the list, we asked for interviews with key
players in the movies we picked," the spokeswoman said. "'Die Hard"'
was going to be No. 1 anyway."
Some of the more recent films making the top 25 included "Spider-Man
2" and "Kill Bill -- Vol. 1," while older titles ranged from 1964
James Bond movie "Goldfinger" to 1973's martial arts flick "Enter
the Dragon," starring Bruce Lee.
Bush aides may have illegally lost e-mail, Dems say
Mon Jun 18, 2007
By Andy Sullivan
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Karl Rove and dozens of other White House
staffers appear to have illegally routed official e-mails through a
Republican group that subsequently deleted them, a congressional
report said on Monday.
By using Republican National Committee e-mail accounts for official
business, senior White House aides may have broken a law requiring
them to preserve presidential records, the House Committee on
Oversight and Government Reform said in an interim report.
"This should be a matter of grave concern for anyone who values open
government and the preservation of an accurate historical record,"
said committee Chairman Henry Waxman, a California Democrat.
The Presidential Records Act of 1978 requires White House officials
to save official correspondence. While the White House automatically
archives its e-mail the RNC typically deletes messages on its server
older than 30 days, the report said.
The White House and the RNC said Waxman's committee was jumping to
"We have seen a number of times right now where people have been
putting together investigations to see what sticks. They have had
very little success so far," White House spokesman Tony Snow said.
White House officials have for years used RNC e-mail accounts to
comply with the Hatch Act, which forbids public servants from using
government property to conduct political business.
At least 88 White House staffers had RNC accounts and there are
signs that many of them used those accounts extensively for
nonpolitical matters, the committee said.
Rove, a top political adviser to President George W. Bush, sent more
than 100 e-mail messages and received more than 200 each day through
his RNC account in 2007, the report said.
More than half of the 140,000 Rove messages saved by the RNC was
correspondence with other government officials, the committee said.
Most of his correspondence from Bush's first term has not been
preserved, it said.
Rove thought his messages were being archived, his former assistant
Susan Ralston told the committee. His lawyer has said he never
intentionally deleted e-mail from any accounts.
The RNC said it is still searching for the missing e-mails.
"There is no basis for an assumption that any e-mail not already
found would be of an official nature," RNC spokeswoman Tracey
Schmitt said by e-mail.
The report also points a finger at Attorney General Alberto
Gonzales, currently facing pressure to resign over U.S. attorney
firings that Democrats say were political in nature.
As White House counsel, Gonzales may have known that Rove and others
were using RNC accounts but did nothing to stop it, the report says.
A Justice Department official referred questions to the White House.
The committee said it will investigate Gonzales' role further and
search federal agencies for copies of the missing e-mails. It also
said it plans to subpoena Bush's 2004 re-election campaign for
additional e-mails because the campaign has not cooperated.