In Margaret’s memory

Tramp The Dirt Down,” Elvis Costello:

I saw a newspaper picture from the political campaign
A woman was kissing a child, who was obviously in pain
She spills with compassion, as that young child’s
Face in her hands she grips
Can you imagine all that greed and avarice
Coming down on that child’s lips

Well I hope I don’t die too soon
I pray the lord my soul to save
Oh I’ll be a good boy, Im trying so hard to behave
Because there’s one thing I know, I’d like to live
Long enough to savour
That’s when they finally put you in the ground
I’ll stand on your grave and tramp the dirt down
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1.7 million U.S. records

Just published by Wikileaks.

The data, which has not been leaked, comprises diplomatic records from the beginning of 1973 to the end of 1976, covering a variety of diplomatic traffic including cables, intelligence reports and congressional correspondence.

Julian Assange said WikiLeaks had been working for the past year to analyse and assess a vast amount of data held at the US national archives before releasing it in a searchable form.

WikiLeaks has called the collection the Public Library of US Diplomacy (PlusD), describing it as the world’s largest searchable collection of US confidential, or formerly confidential, diplomatic communications.

Assange told Press Association the information showed the vast range and scope of US diplomatic and intelligence activity around the world.

Henry Kissinger was US secretary of state and national security adviser during the period covered by the collection, and many of the reports were written by him or were sent to him. Thousands of the documents are marked NODIS (no distribution) or Eyes Only, as well as cables originally classed as secret or confidential.

Assange said WikiLeaks had undertaken a detailed analysis of the communications, adding that the information eclipsed Cablegate, a set of more than 250,000 US diplomatic cables published by WikiLeaks from November 2010 and over the following year. He said WikiLeaks had developed sophisticated technical systems to deal with complex and voluminous data.

Top secret documents were not available, while some others were lost or irreversibly corrupted for periods including December 1975 and March and June 1976, said Assange.

He added that his mother, who lives in Australia, had told him he was being kept at the embassy “with nothing to do but work on WikiLeaks material”.


More on Sirhan’s request for a new trial from Russ Baker at

Pepper and his experts believe that Sirhan was selected to be the patsy in RFK’s death, distracting everyone while a professional assassin fired the fatal shots unobtrusively from inches behind Kennedy—from a crouched position in the crush of people so his actions would not be noticed, milliseconds after Sirhan shot and missed and was immobilized.

Pepper’s key argument is that Sirhan, by all accounts, was positioned several feet in front of Kennedy (who was moving toward him), while forensic evidence and extensive eyewitness testimony shows that Kennedy was actually hit in the back from just inches away.


In his filing, Pepper writes:

Inadvertantly [sic], the Report begins by actually supporting Petitioner’s claim of actual innocence. It states: “As Senator Kennedy stopped to shake hands with hotel employees, Petitioner walked toward him extending his arm. Instead of shaking Senator Kennedy’s hand, Petitioner shot him.”(CD 199 at p.1)

This recitation of the activity leading up to the shooting is a virtual admission of Petitioner’s innocence since Senator Kennedy was hit by three bullets, fired in an upward angle (indicating that the shooter may have been kneeling behind the Senator) from behind him, by a weapon pressed up against his back with the fatal shot fired about an inch behind his right ear. All shots left powder burns on the back of his jacket and on his skin behind his right ear.

The Report explicitly acknowledges, along with the statements of twelve eye witnesses, that Petitioner was, at all times, in front of the Senator, where, as the Report confirms, the Petitioner could have shaken hands with him.

Petitioner questions whether further comment is necessary in light of this embarrassingly absurd factual foundation for the recommendation that the Petition be dismissed.

Pepper contends that the magistrate, in arguing against a new trial, totally ignored the factual material while focusing on procedural issues. In essence, the dispute comes down to whether those procedural issues can or should trump the notion of “actual innocence.”

Colonial Williamsburg

Interesting piece in Salon about how quietly subversive the history presented at Colonial Williamsburg is. (Salon takes a while to load. Open the window, go do something else.)

The concept of going to a recreated colonial town is a little foreign to me; I do, after all, live in Philadelphia. Not only is history everywhere, I’ve been exposed to it since I was a child. I can show you where Ben Franklin is buried, I know the various myths about Elizabeth “Betsy” Ross, the history of the Mother Bethel A.M.E. church. I watched as they excavated the first White House on Market Street, where they discovered the slave quarters.

Hell, there’s even an archaeological dig going on in my neighborhood, where they’re rebuilding I-95.

But there is that American trait of wanting a sanitized, Americanized version of reality (how else to explain Las Vegas or Disney World?), so it’s good that whoever decides these things is taking the opportunity to present Colonial life in all its contradictory complexity:

It’s possible to ignore the messaging at Colonial Williamsburg and just admire the clip-clopping horses, the cutesy handicrafts and the rather anodyne pronouncements of George Washington, who projects just the air of reserve and rectitude you expect. But over the course of a Williamsburg day, we are repeatedly reminded that the magnificent Enlightenment rhetoric of the Revolutionary age came with asterisks, and did not apply to African-Americans, women or Indians (described in the Declaration of Independence as “merciless savages”). In RevQuest, a popular interactive game played mostly by children and teenagers, visitors learn that black people who took part in the Revolution largely fought for the British crown (in order to gain their freedom) and then were forced to emigrate. (Many of their descendants live in the Canadian Maritime Provinces to this day.) On the American side, even a genuine war hero like James Armistead, George Washington’s African-American double agent, required the personal intervention of the Marquis de Lafayette and an act of the Virginia legislature to gain emancipation several years after the war.

Beyond the glaring racial hypocrisy, other “Revolutionary City” episodes bring up uncomfortable contrasts. When Benedict Arnold and the Redcoats “take” the town (as they briefly did, in 1781), the infamous traitor scoffs at our boos and catcalls. You losers threw away British security over a few pennies in taxes on tea, he demands, wrecking your economy and leading to all this death and suffering. What was that all about? No one in the crowd can come up with anything good. “Religious freedom!” someone shouts. “Worship whatever deity you please,” Arnold retorts, as long as you tithe to the Church of England. “We’re taxed too much!” says someone else. Your taxes under the Continental Congress are 100 times higher than under the king, he tells us. You can almost feel the anxiety of the crowd: If the Revolution was about something bigger than church or taxes, what was it?

Protecting sources

Judges get all worked up when anyone violates their gag orders, but a journalist doing her job shouldn’t go to jail for it:

While the press in Colorado is consumed with its coverage of the capital murder prosecution of James Holmes for the slaughter he perpetrated in a movie theater in the town of Aurora on July 20, 2012, a related court proceeding is taking place in the same courthouse that the local and national press would be wise to cover.

My Fox News colleague, Jana Winter, an experienced journalist of impeccable integrity, is being threatened with incarceration by a Colorado judge unless she reveals the sources for the excellent and highly newsworthy piece she wrote for revealing the existence of a notebook written by Mr. Holmes before the murders and sent to his psychiatrist, Dr. Lynne Fenton.

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