How #AllLivesMatter and #BlackLivesMatter Can Devalue Life

"This doesn't happen in the United States -- okay. This might happen in Afghanistan or somewhere. This just does not happen in the United States."
-- Cincinnati Prosecutor Joe Deters

The last several months have seen a debate, at times heated, between the #BlackLivesMatter movement and those who respond with #AllLivesMatter.

I think a lot of people -- perhaps not all -- who are using both tags are missing a larger point and opening themselves up to ultimately devaluing a lot of lives. 

People use #BlackLivesMatter to denote that given our criminal "justice" system, African Americans are frequently targeted, endangered and at times killed largely because they are black. And that's totally true and needed saying a long time ago.

People saying #AllLivesMatter presume to appeal to universal values, perhaps also noting that poor whites and others have particular vulnerabilities to police abuse as well. And the last part is certainly true. But it is odd to seem to appeal to universal values in a way that seems to seek in broaden the point to include a relatively privileged group. 

They crit each other: "The Defacement of Sandra Bland Mural Proves #AllLivesMatter Is Destructive" ("#AllLivesMatter is a mantra of white supremacy that ignores history..." and "#BlackLivesMatter Should Move Towards #AllLivesMatter" ("Twice as many Whites are killed than Blacks by cops, which means they are killed at about a third of the rate as Blacks.")

But both sides limit who they mean by "lives." They effectively exclude the victims of the U.S.'s highest officials. When most people use #BlackLivesMatter, they seem to be saying that all black U.S. lives matter when taken unlawfully by the government. And when most people who use #AllLivesMatter use it, they seem to be saying all U.S. lives matter when taken at the hands of police authorities -- not just black U.S. lives. But the formulation effectively excludes the lives of millions of people who U.S. officials have deemed expendable for reasons of state. 

Charles Blow of the New York Times for example at one level makes a legitimate point: "#AllLivesMatter may be your personal position, but until that is this COUNTRY'S position it is right to specify the lives it values less..." But aren't some of the lives that this country values less the lives our government and military has taken in Iraq and Afghanistan the last 15 years? Blow also tweeted: "I will not be an accessory to my own oppression. #BlackLivesMatter” But nor should one be an accessory to the oppression of others. 

What should be a glaring blind spot has at time reached absurd proportions. Hillary Clinton saying "all lives matter" at a predominantly black church was deemed a "misstep" by NPR, but why not examine if it makes any sense coming from her? While Senator, Clinton voted for authorizing Bush to invade Iraq, resulting in hundreds of thousands killed and millions displaced. While Secretary of State, Clinton helped preside over the U.S. massive nuclear weapons arsenal, which threatens the entire planet, the drone assassination program which has killed thousands and the NATO bombing of Libya, boasting afterward of Muammar Gaddafi: "We came, we saw, he died." That doesn't exactly square with a position of "all lives matter."

As it is, #BlackLivesMatter fails to genuinely uplift the lives of the most discarded by remaining within a national confine. And #AllLivesMatter isn't being universal at all -- in its current form, it's being outright nationalistic and parochial. 

Many now know the names of Sandra Bland and of Samuel DuBose and other African Americans whose lives were devalued by law enforcement officials, we know their names and we know some of their stories.  

The U.S. government has been outright bombing and attacking several countries in the Mideast for years now. Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Somalia, Pakistan, Yemen. How many names do you know of the victims of U.S. foreign policy? 

We know the names of the victims of the so-called Islamic State, people like Steven Sotloff. We know the names of victims of the Taliban, like Malala Yousafzai, who recovered from their attack on her. But the U.S. government has killed thousands of people in Iraq and Afghanistan, but we don't know the names, we don't listen to their stories. Virtually the only time we meaningfully perceive the violence of U.S. foreign policy -- in media or anywhere really -- is when U.S. soldiers are hurt or killed. Otherwise, the violence is normalized as in Deters's quote atop this article. It is decidedly off stage, a sideshow at best. 

Have you thought of a civilian victim of U.S. policy who you could name? You probably came up with Anwar al-Awlaki. But the reason you know his name is he was a U.S. citizen, proving the point that often that is what bestows value upon a human life. 

A study by Physicians for Social Responsibility earlier this year found: "The number of Iraqis killed during and since the 2003 U.S. invasion have been assessed at one million, which represents 5 percent of the total population of Iraq. This does not include deaths among the three million refugees subjected to privations." 

But that's a non story. We've ended up in a sense embracing Stalin's aphorism: "The death of one man is a tragedy, the death of millions is a statistic." 

A year ago, the U.S. government backed the latest of Israel's regular brutal bombing on Gaza, in which Israel killed over 1,000 2,000 Palestinians, hundreds of them children. For several months now, U.S. ally Saudi Arabia has been bombing Yemen to minimal attention and virtually no protest. President Obama just visited Ethiopia and Kenya -- with barely any criticism of how those nations have carved up Somalia, perpetuating killing there

It may be possible to honor the noblest possible intent in #BlackLivesMatter: That we should rush to aid those lives that are disregarded by many. Likewise for #AllLivesMatter: We should be universal and apply the principle of veneration of the value of life truly to all

Both impulses in their best form would argue to seriously scrutinize the U.S. government's role as global rogue cop -- a "cop" more dangerous than the most violent, racist police operating in the U.S. today. 

Addendum: When I made an abbreviated version of this argument to my partner, Emily, and said: Both #BlackLivesMatter and #AllLivesMatter can in effect devalue non U.S. lives, she replied that it actually devalued all lives -- including U.S. lives. "How's that?" I asked. She said: "It helps continue the militarism and that will eventually take U.S. lives, so it devalues those lives as well." If it were not a pseudo military analogy, I'd say "touché."

As if religious belief, unlike depression, typically leads to violence

Anderson Cooper from last night:

Cooper: Do the gunman's parents acknowledge the possibility that their son committing these murders in the name of Islamic extremism? I mean they say it's depressions, but depression doesn't lead most people to kill other people. 

Correspondent: According the the family representative, the parents did say that in their son's weaker moments he did get into "evil ideology and extremist ideas." But they also said they're convinced he never talked to any extremists, never talked to any outsiders about becoming a domestic terrorist. [video]

Huckabee's Use of "Daisy" Ad Totally Undermined by Original

Mike Huckabee just released an ad that uses footage from the Johnson "Daisy" ad. 

It states in text at the end: "A threat to Israel is a threat to America. Stand with Israel. Reject a nuclear Iran." 

What nobody (according to a Google News search I just did) is noting is that the original ad totally undermines Huckabee's presumed case. 

In the original ad, after zooming into the girl's eye and showing the countdown and nuclear explosion, it features Johnson's voice: "These are the stakes: to make a world in which all of God’s children can live, or to go into the dark. We must either love each other. Or we must die."

See the original ad:

The new Huckabee deformed ad only seems to make sense to some because the entire political establishment -- Democrats as well as Republicans -- ignores the reality of Israel's menacing yet unacknowledged nuclear threat to the planet. 

The original ad's subtext was that Goldwater could not be trusted to have his finger on the button. The Huckabee ad seems to poorly attempt to use the same logic on Iran, but it more obviously applies to Netanyahu -- and now, Huckabee as they champion Israel's nuclear domination of the region. 

Indeed. These ARE the stakes: to make a world in which ALL of God’s children can live, or to go into the dark. We MUST either LOVE each other. Or we must DIE.

Petraeus and Gordon Unwilling to be Straight on Israeli Nuclear Arsenal

David Petraeus -- who inspite of recent scandals, is (according to CNN) still advising the White House -- was asked at a recent Aspen Institute event about Israel's nuclear weapons arsenal and replied "I can't comment." (Audio, transcript below.) 

This seems to be part of long-standing U.S. and Israeli government policy not to confirm the existence of Israel's nuclear weapons arsenal. 

This policy has apparently taken the form of official gag orders on the issue, as Grant F. Smith has noted

It's particularly absurd that someone like Petraeus, who presumes to engage in tough straight talk and allegedly shows bravery, is incapable of saying that Israel has a nuclear weapons arsenal. 

Similarly, Philip Gordon, former special White House assistant on the Middle East, now at the Council on Foreign Relations, was recently on C-Span. He was asked by a caller if it "isn't time for the U.S. to stop officially pretending that it doesn't know whether Israel has nuclear weapons?" Gordon replied that there's not a lot of doubt about the existence of Israel's nuclear arsenal, but that the U.S. acknowledging it was irrelevant since the "Iranian nuclear aspiration is driven significantly by their insecurity" and, claimed Gordon, that has to do only with U.S. actions in the region and not Israel's nuclear weapons. (Video, transcript below.) 

What's perhaps most remarkable about Gordon's response is that it shows U.S. officials being more willing to point to U.S. government actions being the issue in a region rather than the actions of the Israeli government. Somehow, a cost-free action of simply acknowledging the empirical fact of Israel's nuclear arsenal is not to be considered.

It's also notable that there's much vocalizing about the alleged Iranian program setting off a nuclear arms race in the Mideast, but the thought that Israel's nuclear weapons program has influenced others in the region is off limits. (When I asked John Edwards about Israel's nuclear weapons, he ignored it all together and worried aloud about the Iranian nuclear program setting off the Saudis and Jordanians; see: "The Absurd U.S. Stance on Israel’s Nukes: A Video Sampling of Denial.") 

This is particularly absurd because we know that Israel's program and its aggressive actions helped spawn the Iraqi nuclear weapons program when it existed in the 1980s, see: "Myth: Israel’s Strike on Iraqi Reactor Hindered Iraqi Nukes." So the idea that it would have no effect on Iran seems rather far fetched. 

The Bulletin of Atomic Scientists recently published the piece "Of weapons programs in Iran and Israel, and the need for journalists to report on both," which notes: "As shown in the Bulletin’s coverage over the years, the Israeli government does indeed have a robust nuclear program that began decades ago; it continues to operate outside the international nuclear nonproliferation regime to this day. 

"This program has a convoluted history. In a July 2013 article, nuclear proliferation scholar Leonard Weiss outlined the Lavon Affair, a failed 1954 Israeli covert operation against Egypt, undertaken in hopes it would destabilize the regime of Egypt’s leader, Gamel Abdel Nasser. In a complicated way, the bungled effort eventually deepened the Franco-Israeli military cooperation that helped Israel create its nuclear arsenal."

Transcripts: 

Petreaus

Questioner: We know Israel has a nuclear weapons programs --

Petraeus: I can't comment.

Questioner: My question was do you support that, do you support Israel having nuclear weapons?

Petraeus. I can't --

Questioner: You can't comment on that, okay. And then seeing an apartheid state, why is the U.S. allowing them to be an apartheid state against the Palestinians, while we're developing a strategy for it? ... [inaudible]


Gordon:

Caller: I just wanted to ask Gordon whether you think it's time for the U.S. to stop officially pretending that it doesn't know whether Israel has nuclear weapons? The NNTP conference at the U.N. totally collapsed last month because the U.S., U.K. and Canada didn't want any initiatives for a nuclear free Middle East to go forward. Its well documented that charitable donations, material know how, technology has flowed from the U.S. to Israel for its nuclear program, yet there are never any prosecutions. And according to a poll released this week, 55 percent of Americans want that program to be officially acknowledged, so why can't the federal government, the U.S. federal government, finally admit what everyone knows and stop pretending it doesn't exist?

Host: And what poll was that?

Caller: That was the Institute for Research Middle Eastern Policy poll titled "Israel's Nuclear Weapons program should be acknowledged and inspected."

Philip Gordon: So as Grant suggests, I don't think there is a lot of doubt throughout the region or in the United States about the existence of a nuclear weapons capability in Israel, I also don't think that the question of official U.S. acknowledgment or not on that issue would make a significant difference to the problems we are talking about. Look, in the long run I think we would all agree that it would be best if there were no nuclear weapons at all in the Middle East, and that's something that the United States should strive for. But again, I don't know that on the issues we're talking about, or frankly even on nuclear issues like the Iranian nuclear issue, I think the Iranian nuclear aspiration is driven significantly by their insecurity, their concern about U.S. military power being used to its east and west, their drive for regional hegemony, and it would exist whether, not only whether Israel had nuclear weapons that existed, but whether Israel itself existed. So I'm not sure that's an essential variable in this debate."

Media Report on "Terrorists and Hostages" While Falsifying Iran-Contra

Much of the media has been abuzz with President Barack Obama's announcement that, as NBC put it: "the government will no longer threaten to criminally prosecute families of American hostages who pay ransom to get loved ones back from such groups as ISIS..." 

The NBC report -- and virtually every other report on this subject I've seen -- have made no mention of when the U.S. government did pay for hostages in the Iran-Contra Affair. That's when the Reagan administration sold arms to Iran in exchange for hostages and illegally used the funds for the Contras in Nicaragua. 

An extreme example of media mis-reporting was Jake Tapper who claimed on November 18, 2014: "It's a policy the U.S. government has never wavered on. America does not negotiate with terrorists. You have heard them say that, but now the Obama administration is ordering a full review of how it does deal with hostage situations in light of recent criticism from families of Americans brutally murdered by ISIS terrorists."

So, I tweeted to Tapper: "never wavered on negotiating for hostages? I guess Iran-Contra didn't happen."

He tweeted back: "good point, we should we have couched that"

I responded: "No corrections on cable. Cause, 24-hour news."

And indeed, no correction was forthcoming. Because it's not like CNN has a lot of time to fill to educate, especially younger viewers about what happened in Iran-Contra. 

Particularly insidious is Tapper's notion that he should have "couched that" differently. Firstly, it avoids acknowledging that what he said was false: "It's a policy the U.S. government has never wavered on." That's just a brazen lie. 

But in a subtle way, his response is even worse. Tapper, it would seem, is tacitly blaming himself for not finessing the lie better. Perhaps he thinks it would be better had he said: "Administration after administration has declared they don't negotiate with terrorists, but now, that policy is being reconsidered..." This would fulfill the goal of creating a false impression while not being so oafish as to outright lie. And in some way, that's what most of the media did on this story (and countless others) -- create the impression that the U.S. has never traded for hostages without outright lying about it. 

All this helps put Iran-Contra, one of the few instances when the machinations of policy were exposed to public scrutiny to at least some degree, further into the memory hole. Indeed, what's called the Iran-Contra Affair helped bring some light on several insidious policies, including plans to outright suspend the U.S. Constitution

Another deceitful aspect of this story is it further solidifies the "definition" of terrorist that's commonly employed by major media being whoever the U.S. government says is a terrorist. These hypocrisies certainly include as FAIR and others have noted not calling Dylann Storm Roof a terrorist. But outside even that discussion is if the violence of the U.S. government and its allies shouldn't be called terrorism. 

Much is also lost by not understanding the dynamics around the Iran-Contra Affair -- which involved the U.S. arming both Iran and Iraq while those two countries fought a bloody war. Dahlia Wasfi in her recent piece "Battling ISIS: Iran-Iraq war redux" points out that the U.S. government is in effect doing the same thing in the Mideast now -- arming warring sides. She writes: “Just as with Iran and Iraq in the 1980s, the people in the battlefields of Syria and Iraq pay the highest price. And just as was the case in the 1980s, the devastation of these countries serves U.S. and Israeli hegemony.”

Bye Bye Birdie

I got into Mad Men a couple of years ago and would occasionally get wound up about it. Like I'd come up with how Don should responded to Hilton during his pitch ("How do you say 'oxygen' on the moon? Hilton.") and how someone should have used Don's Hershey's breakdown to show how they could get at every aspect of the public mind. 

I love that Emily, my partner and the person who introduced me to Mad Men, thinks that Don got out in the end. His smile in the final scene was like his smile in the elevator when he tricked Roger into hiring him. He railed to his "niece" about people who believe in something, in "Jesus". Still some ambiguity; actually seemed to feel emotion, but -- obvious question -- to what end? The ultimate purpose of feeling is to sell stuff -- you're born alone and you die alone, and Don never forgets that. He walked out of that meeting about the everyman, went out to find him and when he did, hugged him. The first episode was him in a bar, having a feeling about the joy of smoking, but unable to turn it into copy, ultimately coming up with "It's toasted" -- which was actually decades older -- big tobacco would come to the "smoking is fun" pitch later. 

Contrast in the last episode, he's now cutting edge, commodifying someone else's dissent, which he'd started doing in his New York Times letter. In the end, there's an element of "jokes on you for caring about this bs" -- just as there was at the end of the Sopranos. Everyone in the end is married to work -- Don (while trippin), Peggy (Stan as work anchor), Joan (work at home), Pete (while flying the world), and even Roger -- trying to get as close to married as he can to his work man crush, Don.

Challenging Morell's Claims on Iraq WMDs and Torture



On Monday, I questioned former acting CIA director Michael Morell about the lies leading up to the Iraq war and their relation to torture. (See below for video and transcript.)

He's been making the rounds on talk shows and started the talk today by speaking about the alleged "failures" of the "pre-war Iraq intelligence," echoing a frequent mantra. The claim is that somehow the Bush administration and others didn't engage in propaganda and deceit to sell the Iraq war, but rather, were themselves victims of bad intelligence. 

So I cited a claim by the Bush administration made during the run up to the Iraq war that was provably false before the war. On September 7, 2002, Bush held a news conference with then-British Prime Minister Tony Blair. Bush claimed there was an International Atomic Energy Agency report that claimed Iraq was "six months away from developing a weapon. I don’t know what more evidence we need." 

John R. MacArthur, author of Second Front: Censorship and Propaganda in the Gulf War, highlighted -- at the time -- that, when questioned, "the IAEA responded that not only was there no new report, ‘there’s never been a report’ asserting that Iraq was six months away from constructing a nuclear weapon."

When I confronted Morell -- who was Bush's briefer -- about Bush's statement he took no responsibility at all. "So, you know you have to ask him. You have to ask him," Morell said. 

I found it so laughable that he would say this instead of directly responding to the false statement that my initial reaction was not to bother following up on this. If he's not going take any responsibility for Bush's false public claims, what's the point? I'd rather expect that if I were able to corner Bush and ask him enough follow up questions, he'd probably excuse his false statements by saying that's what his briefers told him; so they'd be hide behind each other. However, Morell also said "The only thing I can tell you is what we were telling them at the time." It would certainly be worth while to ask him what he was telling Bush about this -- or claims he was. 

I then asked Morell about the Shaykh al-Libi case. Contrary to the depiction in movies like "Zero Dark Thirty" -- which Morell had a hand in -- that torture is used to get the bad guys, the al-Libi case shows that torture is used to get false but useful information. That is, al-Libi was tortured him into "confessing" that Iraq was working with al-Qaeda. 

Morrel gave a lengthy objection to my use of the word "torture," then he challenged the notion that it was done at the U.S. government's behest, questioning what evidence I had for that. The moderator cut off the discussion at this point. 

Marcy Wheeler succinctly notes about his response here: "1) He doesn't deal with torture that exceeded and/or preceded DOJ guidelines. 2) Which al-Libi's torture did 3) that he doesn't actually deny al-Libi was tortured 4) which is interesting because he got the same treatment as Abu Zubaydah." 

Al-Libi was captured by the U.S. in Afghanistan and turned over to the Egyptians by the CIA and then tortured into saying what the U.S. government wanted him to say -- that Iraq was tied to al-Qaeda -- his "confession" was featured in Colin Powell's speech to the UN just before the Iraq invasion. (See my "'Both Sides' Are Wrong: Torture Did Work -- to Produce Lies for War.") 

But it's totally out of bounds for me to suggest that his torture was at the U.S. government's behest, it merely provided him to the Egyptians and benefited from his "confession" to start a gigantic war based on "evidence" that the Bush administration is merely the victim of -- or so Morell would have us believe. 

There's been a fair amount said about "if we knew now what we knew then" about Iraq. I've tried to debunk the notion that we didn't know the Bush administration was falsifying, propagandizing and lying to start the Iraq war at the time. And many, including myself, did real time debunking. See: "White House Claims: A Pattern of Deceit" "U.S. Credibility Problems" "Tough Questions for Bush on Iraq Tonight."

But we should consider this question in one respect: Given what we know now, why are people like Mr. Morell being taken the least bit seriously and why are they not being prosecuted? 

One other line of defense by Morell bares comment -- and one that few take exception to. When I questioned him about the Bush falsifications for war, part of his response was a say that such statements were made during the Clinton administration. Which is true. The Clinton administration did lie about Iraq, including WMDs and many politicos -- not just Jeb Bush -- continue to fabricate the record. That in no way defends what the Bush administration did. It merely highlights that establishment Democrats like those in the Clinton administration and others who voted to "authorize" the Iraq invasion are also culpable. 

Just because both Bushes and Clintons say something doesn't mean it's not a lie, merely that it's a particularly destructive one. 

Former CIA analyst and presidential briefer Ray McGovern wrote a pair of relevant pieces, one recently ("The Phony ‘Bad Intel’ Defense on Iraq") and another, from 2011 ("Rise of Another CIA Yes Man") on Morell when he was acting CIA director. 


Transcript: 

41:00
SAM HUSSEINI: Sam Husseini with IPA. Just to sort of get a baseline here. You were a briefer for George Bush for 9/11 and after 9/11.

MICHAEL MORELL: I was President Bush's first intelligence briefer, so I briefed him kind of the entire calendar year of 2001. Yes.

SAM HUSSEINI: You're not acknowledging that the Bush administration falsified information on Iraqi WMDs and other aspects in the build up to the Iraq war.
 
MICHAEL MORELL: I'm not acknowledging it because it's not true. It is a great myth. It is a great myth that the Bush White House or hard-liners in the Bush administration pushed the Central Intelligence Agency, pushed the U.S. intelligence community and every other intelligence service in the world that looked at this issue to believe that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction. All they have to do is tell you this, that the CIA believed that Saddam had weapons of mass destruction programs long before George Bush ever came to office. We were telling Bill Clinton that. 

SAM HUSSEINI: One would not be following Iraq to say the Clinton administration never falsified information on Iraq as well. So for example when Bush --

MICHAEL MORELL: I'm just not with you on the falsification, but go ahead.

SAM HUSSEINI: Yeah, well I'm putting evidence if I could.

MICHAEL MORELL: Okay.

SAM HUSSEINI: So in September 2002, when he was at a news conference with Tony Blair, and this is just one example. That there was an IAEA report saying that Iraq was "six months away from developing a weapon. I don't know how much more evidence we need." And then IAEA says there is no such report -- that was just an honest mistake?

MICHAEL MORELL: So, you know you have to ask him. You have to ask him. The only thing I can tell you --

SAM HUSSEINI: -- You were the briefer. --

MICHAEL MORELL: The only thing I can tell you is what we were telling them at the time. Okay? That's the only thing I can tell you.

SAM HUSSEINI: So you, among other things, in your time of the CIA had a role in "Zero Dark Thirty," which in effect glorifies the use of torture to gain "intelligence." I want to ask you about a different case and that's the case of Shaykh al-Libi, who all evidence indicates, was tortured by the Egyptian authorities at our behest.

MICHAEL MORELL: So, so --

SAM HUSSEINI: If I might -- you can say whatever you want. You can say whatever you want. You're interrupting me, I'm not interrupting you. --

MICHAEL MORELL: -- But your premise is wrong.

SAM HUSSEINI: And you can say that if you like. Who was tortured in order to say that Iraq and Al Qaeda were related. This is actually in the latest Senate report on torture, among other places. Contrary to the mythology that torture breeds good intelligence -- or that it's immoral -- it actually breeds intentionally useful but false information. Why not?

MICHAEL MORELL: Okay, so I'm going to go back to your first comment about CIA's enhanced interrogation techniques, which you call torture. Which I want to challenge that premise right off the bat. When the Central Intelligence Agency used enhanced interrogation techniques to get information from Al Qaeda detainees, the Justice Department of United States of America on multiple occasions said it was legal, said it wasn't torture. Okay, so for you to call it torture is you calling my officers torturers. And the Justice Department of United States of America said they were not. So I'm going to defend my officers to my last breath in people calling them torturers. Number two, I'm going to challenge your premise that the Egyptians tortured al-Libi at our behest, at our behest. Not true. We never asked the Egyptians to torture al-Libi. What is your evidence for that?

SAM HUSSEINI: Well --

HOST: Let him give you that evidence off-line. We have other people who want to ask questions.

Questioning Post Master General Donahoe on Sell off of Buildings and Financial Services


On January 6, I questioned then-outgoing Post Master General Patrick Donahoe about the sell off of Post Offices as well as proposals that the Post Office offer more non-bank financial services. The AP wrote about the exchange in "Departing postmaster general slams banking duties proposal."

Donahoe claimed in our exchange: "I am fanatical about our old buildings." Which Gray Brechin, founder and project scholar of the Living New Deal Project at UC Berkeley: "I love that Donahoe said that he is 'fanatical about ourold buildings' while he is flogging them wholesale." See: "Is Sen. Feinstein Profiting From the Fire Sale of the Public’s Property and Art?

When pressed about the Post Office's Inspector recommendation that the Post Office increase the financial services it provides, Donahoe was dismissive: "Let me define the inspector general presentation. This is a three page paper that said that $89 billion is made in the area of same day loans. A postal service should be able to get 10 percent, of which would be worth $8.9 billion. There is no other research. That's it. Read it." In fact, the Inspector General released a 27-page white paper in January 2014 titled: "Providing Non-Bank Financial Services for the Underserved." See PDF

Donahoe also claimed: "We don't know anything about banking... We don't know anything about that." Ira Dember of Commonomics responded: "This from a guy who taxpayers have been paying more than $36,000 a month (not a typo) to know what is going on in his own organization.

"Fact is, U.S. Post Offices have been offering financial services for 150 years -- since 1864, when the first U.S. postal money order was issued as a safer way to help ordinary folks move cash around.

"Postal clerks sell about 95 million money orders a year, in amounts up to $1,000. (The USPS has a remarkable 70 percent market share.) These clerks also cash U.S. government checks, including IRS refund checks. They issue international money orders in amounts up to $700, good in 30 countries. And they handle instant cash transfers of up to $500, electronically, to 10 countries. In 2011 alone, the value of money orders issued by U.S. postal clerks topped $22 billion."

Transcript: 

POST MASTER GENERAL DONAHOE: "There is a very bright future out there. You can't limit yourself with what you're doing now. You got to keep it wide. You got to keep it flexible. And that's why we are asking for flexibility of product pricing going into the future." 

SAM HUSSEINI: "You talk about expanding and that you haven't cut back, but you have been criticized for precisely doing that. The office inspector general has recommended pilot projects for non-bank financial services. Ralph Nader has excoriated you for not following up on Ruth Goldman's -- the Postal Regulatory Commission chairperson -- put out two dozen recommendations for not apparently following up on them. How many of those have you followed up on? On the other side, selling off post offices. You have the Living New Deal project called "Bank Heist with No Cop on the Beat" in the open that these historic places with new deal architecture and art are being sold off to real estate companies. How do you respond to that?"

DONAHOE: "Sure. I think again the key thing to any success stories is to work within their core. We don't know anything about banking. I mean we would be perfectly interested in talking to somebody that comes in that would like to use the facility to accept a deposit, but to set a bank system from one bank to lend money to another bank. We don't know anything about that."

HUSSEINI: "You don't know anything about groceries either." [He had talked about getting groceries to people earlier.]

DONAHOE: "We know a lot about delivery. We're the best delivery company in this world. That's what we know. We know more about delivery than anybody. We know how to get things to a person's house. We know how to get where ever they live, we know how to get groceries stocked fresh and cold and we know how to do that. That's where our core is; it's in delivery. From our selling perspective, we don't need that. We have buildings in many of these places. As people move away to pay bills online and that's smart. It's free. It's convenient. Without $14.5 billion a year coming into the offers in terms of bill payment in the man [sic] vs. bill payment, you got to make some tough decisions. 

"If you knew a lot about me, you would know that I am fanatical about our old buildings. I spent a lot of money in this postal service over the years to maintain, update, and to keep a lot of our old facilities. When you have one building across the street from another, you have to make tough decisions. And in many cases, what we have been able to do is to take those buildings to sell them off to people who have been able to re-employ them and reuse them in a public manner. The Berkeley office would have been a great sale. They were proposing to put in a hardware store, a coffee shop, and a couple of other things. Maintaining an old post office when we have something right up the street makes no sense, and that's what you have to do when you're going forward. That's the whole idea of short sidedness [sic] vs. the long approach. We certainly, again, take our role and responsibility [noise] that our role is delivery. Our role is retail. Again, from the retail perspective, we've invited many people to come in and we are starting to work with them. We are using our retail and delivery as ways to expand our business in the future. To step into more inquiries especially whenever you go out into this competitive world today. Money is one thing, but grey matter and the ability to concentrate on doing more than three or four things really good in any company, we are hard pressed."

HUSSEINI: "So you've basically rejected the recommendations of the inspector general and the postal regulatory commission."

DONAHOE: "Let me define the inspector general presentation. This is a three page paper that said that $89 billion is made in the area of same day loans. A postal service should be able to get 10 percent, of which would be worth $8.9 billion. There is no other research. That's it. Read it." In fact, the Inspector General released a 27-page white paper in January 2014 titled: "Providing Non-Bank Financial Services for the Underserved." See PDF

Audio: 

Schumer claimed Iraq had WMDs

SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY): "Saddam Hussein is an evil man, a dictator who oppresses his people and flouts the mandate of the international community. While this behavior is reprehensible, it is Hussein's vigorous pursuit of biological, chemical and nuclear weapons, and his present and potential future support for terrorist acts and organizations, that make him a terrible danger to the people to the United States." (Sen. Schumer, Congressional Record, S.10302, 10/10/02) [Source]