Cameron´s ex-underling Coulson convicted, Rupert Murdoch still at large


Andy Coulson and David Cameron, cartoon by Steve Bell

From daily The Guardian in Britain:

Andy Coulson guilty over phone hacking as Rebekah Brooks walks free

• Former Downing Street spin doctor convicted by jury
• Ex-NoW editor Brooks cleared of all charges
David Cameron apologises for employing Coulson
• LIVE blog: follow the latest reaction to the verdicts

Lisa O’Carroll and Patrick Wintour

Tuesday 24 June 2014 12.31 BST

David Cameron‘s former communications chief Andy Coulson is facing jail after being found guilty of conspiring to hack phones while he was editor of the News of the World.

Coulson stood emotionless as he absorbed the news.

The News of the World‘s former managing editor Stuart Kuttner was also found not guilty on phone-hacking charges, but the jury have not reached unanimous verdicts on two further charges faced by Coulson and one charge faced by the News of the World‘s former royal editor Clive Goodman.

The judge instructed them to deliberate further and gave them a majority direction, which means they can return with a verdict that is not unanimous.

Coulson’s verdict raised immediate questions for Cameron, who hired him as director of communications only a few weeks after he quit the News of the World.

In a brief statement to camera, the prime minister offered a “full and frank apology” for employing Andy Coulson at 10 Downing Street, saying: “It was the wrong decision and I am very clear about that.”

He said he had given Coulson a second chance after he left the News of the World but conceded this was the wrong decision.

Cameron said he had asked Coulson about whether he knew about phone hacking, and he said he did not. “Knowing what I now know, those assurances were not right,” Cameron said. “It was obviously wrong of me to employ him. I gave someone a second chance. It turned out to be a bad decision.”

Coulson has spent the last seven years denying he knew about hacking and shocked everyone bar his defence team in court when he revealed for the first time he had listened to the voicemail of former home secretary David Blunkett in 2004, three years before he was hired by Cameron.

He went into the trial last year pleading not guilty to committing a crime by conspiring to hack phones and consistently denied that he had any knowledge the practice was widespread at the tabloid since he had resigned from the News of the World in January 2007. At that time he had stepped down because he took “ultimate responsibility” when one a reporter, royal editor Clive Goodman, had pleaded guilty to phone hacking.

His admission that he knew one of his reporters had hacked into the home secretary’s messages at a time when Britain was at war in Iraq and he did not sack or discipline him, raises questions about the security vetting he was subjected to before he was given clearance to work at No 10 in 2010.

Coulson has told the Leveson inquiry that he may have had “unsupervised access” to material designated top secret or above and attended meetings of the national security council.

At the Leveson inquiry in June 2012, Cameron said that when the Guardian first reported in 2009 that phone hacking at the News of the World may have gone farther than a single rogue reporter, the PM said Coulson had repeated an assurance made on taking the job with the Conservatives that he had known nothing about it.

Under oath, Cameron replied: “I was reliant on his word but I was also reliant on the fact that the Press Complaints Commission had accepted his word, the select committee had accepted his word, the police had accepted his word, the Crown Prosecution Service had accepted his word.” But at that point in 2009, Coulson had not been interviewed by the police, CPS or a select committee on the subject: and the PCC never interviewed Coulson personally.

In a sign of the political battle ahead, Labour’s shadow chancellor, Ed Balls, accused Cameron and the chancellor, George Osborne, of a grave error of judgement in appointing Coulson as director of communications at the Conservative party and then again in 2010 appointing him to head the No 10 press operations.

Osborne had conducted the initial interview with Coulson in 2007, and made the recommendation that Cameron appoint him to run his press operation in opposition in 2008.

In the House of Commons, Balls pressed ahead with an attack on Osborne during Treasury questions: “The jury has just delivered its verdict and the government’s former director of communications has been found guilty of a conspiracy to hack phones,” Balls said. “Does the chancellor now accept that it was a terrible error of judgement [to appoint Coulson]?”.

Bercow interrupted to say the matter did not relate to the chancellor’s responsibilities, but Balls was nevertheless allowed to go further. He continued: “Does the chancellor accept he has brought into disrepute the office of the chancellor and the Treasury by urging the prime minister for his own reasons to [b]ring Coulson into government and has he not damaged his own reputation, and that of the government?”

Osborne replied that the verdicts had been announced in the court, and that he intended to go and study them. “And if a statement is appropriate from me and the prime minister there will be one, not in Treasury questions where we are talking about the economy.

Labour will have to judge how it responds to the trial and the verdicts. The party feels it is legitimate to press the issue of Cameron‘s personal judgement, but is also aware that if ii oversteps the mark, it will look to be making political capital. Downing Street senses that Cameron‘s misjudgement has been factored into the share price.

One of the victims of phone hacking, the former Labour home secretary David Blunkett, said the issue was not about vindictiveness or vengeance. “It is about criminality, it is about obtaining justice, and I hope that has been obtained,” he said.

Blunkett told the Guardian it was little understood how hacking leads to a breakdown in trust within a circle, as its members cannot be sure how private information came into the public domain.

Brooks’s acquittal will provide some relief for Rupert Murdoch, who once described the woman who rose to be chief executive of his London based News International operation [as] his “top priority” when the phone hacking crisis first broke in the summer of 2011.

Coulson’s conviction brings the number of former News of the World journalists facing jail over phone-hacking to five. [B]efore the trial three former newsdesk executives, including Greg Miskiw and James Weatherup, pleaded guilty, as did the phone-hacker Glenn Mulcaire and a former reporter, Dan Evans, who confessed to hacking Sienna Miller’s messages on Daniel Craig’s phone.

Neville Thurlbeck, the News of the World‘s former chief reporter and news editor, pleaded guilty after the police found the tapes he had of Blunkett’s messages in a News International safe. Sentencing is expected a few days after the trial is finished.

Tainted Prime Minister David Cameron was badly scorched yesterday as he attempted to escape the heat of the phone hacking scandal. Labour leader Ed Miliband accused him in the Commons of bringing disgrace to Downing Street by employing the “criminal” Andy Coulson as his closest adviser: here. And here.

PRIME Minister Cameron used his usual tactic at prime minister’s questions yesterday, when asked why he brought a criminal into 10 Downing Street and thereby tainted the government, despite numerous warnings that he should not on any account employ him: here.

Disgraced No 10 spin doctor Andy Coulson was jailed for 18 months yesterday on phone hacking charges. Labour branded the jail term an indictment of Prime Minister David Cameron’s judgement: here. See also here.

Andy Coulson, the former News of the World (NotW) editor and former head of communications for UK prime minister David Cameron, was given an 18-month jail sentence Friday, for conspiracy to intercept voicemail messages: here.

In 2005, Andy Coulson was the award-winning editor of the News of the World, presiding over a culture of ruthless exploitation. In the second extract from his new book Hack Attack, Nick Davies examines a world where there was only one rule – get the story at any cost: here.

Former Fire Brigades Union general secretary Andy Gilchrist demanded further investigations are placed on the relationship between News of the World staff and politicians after a jury found one-time editor Ms Brooks not guilty: here.

News of the World hacking trial ends: Scandal still poses threat to Britain’s ruling elite: here.

Released US Afghan war prisoner Bowe Bergdahl smeared by corporate media


This video from the USA says about itself:

4 June 2014

On Tuesday, “Fox and Friends” cohost Brian Kilmeade went after Robert Bergdahl over the beard the father of freed POW Bowe Berghdal grew while his son was in captivity.

“[Bergdahl] says he was growing his beard because his son was in captivity,” Kilmeade said. “Well, your son’s out now. So if you really don’t — no longer want to look like a member of the Taliban, you don’t have to look like a member of the Taliban. Are you out of razors?”

On last night’s “Daily Show,” Jon Stewart fired back with a response so perfect it should be framed:

“First of all, who the fuck are you to judge what a guy does if he thinks it might help him get his son back?” Stewart asked. “And I don’t want to complicate your hatred of facial hair there, friend, but my guess is if you gave Bob Bergdahl a bandana and a duck, you’d like him just-fucking-fine.”

By Patrick Martin in the USA:

US media campaign targets released Afghan war POW Bowe Bergdahl

4 June 2014

In the 72 hours since he was released by the Taliban in exchange for five prisoners held at Guantanamo Bay, Army Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl has come under increasingly vitriolic attack from right-wing US political circles and the media, which have denounced him as a deserter and traitor. There have been calls for him to be tried and even shot.

His father, Bob Bergdahl, has likewise been vilified for his efforts to obtain his son’s release, which included learning Pashto and Dari, the main languages of Afghanistan, communicating via the Internet with the Taliban, and growing a long and uncut beard to mark the time his son was held captive.

Media outlets from CNN to NBC and the other major broadcasters have repeatedly run interviews with soldiers who served with Bergdahl accusing him of deserting his post. Some of them have placed the blame on Bergdahl for the death of six US troops who, they claim, were killed during a six-month intensive search for the missing soldier.

The media has also made a great deal of recent Twitter posts from Bob Bergdahl expressing sympathy for Afghans killed in the war and their families and calling for the release of all detainees being held at Guantanamo.

Prior to his disappearance, Bowe Bergdahl made clear in letters to his family and discussions with fellow soldiers his revulsion over the US war in Afghanistan and his sympathy for the Afghan people. There is little doubt that the primary factor behind the vitriol against the Bergdahls is their antiwar sentiment and the fear in ruling class circles that it will further fuel already broad popular opposition to the war in Afghanistan and the general warmongering policy of the Obama administration.

Bowe Bergdahl had been a Taliban prisoner since June 30, 2009, when he was captured while his unit was on patrol in Paktika province in eastern Afghanistan. The Pentagon promoted Bergdahl twice during his captivity, from private first class to corporal and then to sergeant, something the military brass would be unlikely to do for a known deserter. At the same time, the military compelled soldiers who served with Bergdahl to sign nondisclosure statements.

The Pentagon and State Department pushed aggressively to obtain Bergdahl’s release, with a series of military sweeps aimed at rescuing him, followed by on-and-off negotiations with the Taliban using the government of Qatar, a Persian Gulf sheikdom, as the intermediary.

The talks resumed last fall after a Taliban commander long opposed to any deal stepped down and the Islamic fundamentalist group supplied a “proof-of-life” video of Bergdahl. There were press reports of ongoing talks in February, suggesting the one-for-five trade that was eventually made, but the deal was not finalized until last week. The actual exchange took place on Saturday, May 31.

The initial criticism of the deal came from congressional Republicans and the right-wing press, including Fox News and the Wall Street Journal, along predictable partisan lines. The deal was held up as another example of the Obama administration’s supposed weakness in foreign policy, alongside Syria, Ukraine and Benghazi.

The Republicans are clearly hoping to use the Bergdahl case to whip up their right-wing base and sections of the military in advance of the November congressional elections.

The White House response was equally predictable—pointing to its killing of Osama bin Laden and expansion of drone warfare as proof that the administration is not “soft” on terrorism, and citing similar exchanges conducted by Israel, such as the trading of 1,000 Palestinian prisoners for a single soldier, Gilad Shalit, held in Gaza for three years.

The axis of the right-wing campaign shifted Monday and Tuesday to focus on attacks on both Sergeant Bergdahl and his family. The commentaries took on an increasingly frenzied tone, with Fox News claiming that “many members of the intelligence community suspect he may have been an active collaborator with the Taliban.” The Wall Street Journal published a column suggesting that the proper treatment for the returning soldier was a firing squad.

The circumstances under which Bergdahl was captured remain obscure. The returned POW is undergoing medical treatment in Germany at the main overseas US military hospital and has not yet spoken publicly.

Several former members of his unit have been quoted by the media claiming that Bergdahl left his post in the middle of the night, without his rifle, and went out into Taliban-controlled territory. Facebook pages with headlines like “Bergdahl is a traitor” and “Bowe Bergdahl is not a hero” have attracted tens of thousands of supportive postings.

The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Martin Dempsey, said in a posting on his Facebook page Tuesday that the issue of rescuing Bergdahl was completely separate from any ensuing investigation into his conduct while on patrol in Afghanistan. “Like any American, he is innocent until proven guilty,” Dempsey said. “Our Army’s leaders will not look away from misconduct if it occurred. In the meantime, we will continue to care for him and his family.”

Unnamed Pentagon officials subsequently told the press that there would be a “full inquiry” into the circumstances of Bergdahl’s disappearance and capture.

According to the New York Times, Bergdahl “left behind a note in his tent saying he had become disillusioned with the Army, did not support the American mission in Afghanistan and was leaving to start a new life.”

The Wall Street Journal reported: “An Army investigation of why Sgt. Bergdahl left his post was never completed because officials were unable to talk to him. But many military officers reviewing the material gathered for the investigation concluded that he had walked off the outpost because he became disillusioned with the war, according to a senior defense official.”

Rolling Stone magazine reported in 2012, based on an interview with Bergdahl’s parents, that three days before he disappeared he sent them an e-mail that said, “I am ashamed to even be American,” and “The horror that is America is disgusting.”

“I am sorry for everything here,” Sergeant Bergdahl wrote. “These people need help, yet what they get is the most conceited country in the world telling them that they are nothing and that they are stupid, that they have no idea how to live.”

He described seeing an Afghan child run over by a US military vehicle. “We don’t even care when we hear each other talk about running their children down in the dirt streets with our armored trucks,” he wrote.

Bowe Bergdahl’s father, despite his conservative religious views—Bowe was home-schooled by his mother in their hometown of Hailey, Idaho—came to deeply oppose the foreign policy of American imperialism in the Middle East and Central Asia. He openly sympathized with other long-held prisoners, including those in Guantanamo.

As for the five prisoners released from Guantanamo, four were former high-level officials of the government of Afghanistan when the Taliban was in power, captured in the initial US-led invasion in late 2001. They are Mohammad Fazl, deputy defense minister; Mullah Norullah Noori, governor of Balkh province; Khairullah Khairkhwa, governor of Herat province; and Abdul Haq Wasiq, deputy minister of intelligence. The fifth prisoner, Mohammed Nabi Omari, was a military commander with ties to the Haqqani network, formed under CIA auspices to fight Soviet forces in the 1980s.

These were public officials of a state overthrown by US military action, and thus entitled to treatment as prisoners of war. Instead, they have been held indefinitely as “terrorists,” subjected to interrogation and likely tortured, all in violation of the Geneva Conventions. Some 12 years later, the Obama administration has suddenly reclassified them as POWs for the purposes of the Bergdahl trade.

Part of the bitterness in the right-wing attack on the prisoner exchange is that the Obama administration has undercut any rationale for holding Taliban captives at Guantanamo Bay after the official end of the US combat role in Afghanistan at the end of 2014. Under international law, POWs must be repatriated at the end of hostilities, and if the senior Taliban at Guantanamo are now regarded as POWs, all other Afghans held there should be eligible for release as well.

The American media is once again exhibiting its boundless capacity for dispensing propaganda and promoting the most backward and reactionary conceptions. Such is the campaign of vilification directed against Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, released May 31 in Afghanistan in a prisoner exchange with the Taliban: here.

The right-wing media is denouncing Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl as a “deserter” who wasn’t worth ransoming from the Taliban, but the real villains are the architects of the disastrous Iraq and Afghan wars who frivolously put the many Bergdahls in harm’s way: here.

Did Sergeant Bergdahl desert the Army or did the Army desert him? Here.

White House War-Pushers and Gutless Generals: The Real Villains of the Bergdahl Tale: here.

Tell : Quit beating up an American soldier and tell the truth about the cost of war! Here.The right-wing campaign against released Afghanistan POW Bowe Bergdahl is intensifying, with death threats to his family and vitriolic denunciations of the freed soldier in the media and on Capitol Hill: here.

Rupert Murdoch empire’s stolen Prince Diana documents


This video is called PRINCESS DIANA’S DEATH, LONDON, ENGLAND.

From daily The Guardian in Britain:

Princess Diana floor plans found at former NoW royal editor’s house

Sensitive palace documents seized by police in Clive Goodman‘s home, phone-hacking trial told

Lisa O’Carroll

Friday 16 May 2014 16.10 BST

Security plans for Princess Diana’s home in Kensington palace and other internal police documents were found at the home of the former royal editor of the News of the World, a jury has been told.

The sensitive palace plans including a map, floor plans for apartments and details of where police units were to be deployed and stationed in the event of an incident, the hacking trial at the Old Bailey was told.

The documents were seized by police when they searched the home of the paper’s former royal editor Clive Goodman in 2006 on suspicion of phone hacking.

They were produced at the trial by the lead prosecutor Andrew Edis QC who challenged the former journalist about his claim earlier on Friday that he had no police sources. He said he had exaggerated to his editor when he emailed him asking for cash payment for a policeman in exchange for a confidential palace phone book.

Edis asked: “You never had any police sources?”

Goodman: “No.”

Edis: “Paid or unpaid?”

Goodman: “I would have spoken to Scotland Yard’s press bureau. I don’t think that counts as a source.”

Edis: “Are you saying you never had any police source?”

Goodman: “Correct.”

Asked where he got the security plans for Princess Diana’s home, Goodman said: “I think this surfaced … when the Princess of Wales’s apartments were being mothballed after her death.” He said he believed they had been “found with some thrown out furniture”.

By whom, asked Edis. Goodman responded: “By the people who brought it to us.”

Goodman has not been charged with hacking offences, but has been charged with conspiring to cause misconduct in public office over alleged payments to police for the royal directories.

Other documents found at Goodman’s house included a custody record and a photo document about a man who had been “stopped near a restaurant bothering the late Princess Diana”.

Goodman claims the documents came from someone on the newsdesk. He said he didn’t ask where they had come from because he would not have got an answer.

Goodman denies all charges against them.

The trial continues.

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