Tag Archives: hostages

The Unexposed Ethics Outrage On The Edges Of The Trump Jr. Meeting Controversy

The Sergei Magnitsky Rule of Law Accountability Act  allows the U.S. President to impose visa sanctions and asset freezes on human rights abusers who kill, torture or violate the rights of human rights defenders, as well as government officials responsible for acts of significant corruption. The law and its various amendments that expanded its reach are at the heart of the sanctions currently being enforced against Russia. It was this law, and Russian efforts to blunt its force, that apparently was the real reason that Donald Trump Jr. was induced to meet with an indefinite number of Russians, Russian-Americans, and various individuals “connected” to the Russian government, the list of which is currently expanding like the roster of women allegedly raped by Bill Cosby.

The news media doesn’t seem to feel the Magnitsky Act is anything the public needs to know, perhaps because Donnie Jr. didn’t know much about it, if anything. The stories about his aborted meeting typically mention the Act briefly and without elaboration. They really don’t elaborate on Putin’s retaliation for the Act, which was to stop U.S. adoptions of Russian orphans. (I wrote about this indefensible conduct by Russia at the time, in 2012. The post had a grand total of eight comments. Five years was too long to wait for an update, and I’m sorry. Of course, we are supposed to have responsible and competent professional journalists to keep us informed. )Russia had been one of the primary sources of foreign adoptions by childless U.S. parents before 2012, when the Russian strong man retaliated against loving U.S. parents to show his annoyance with our government and his support of corruption at home.

It’s worse than that, though. The real victims of Putin’s retaliation are his nation’s own, innocent, most vulnerable children. There is virtually no domestic adoption in Russia, because parents can’t afford the children the have. There are lots of orphans though, because parents can give up infants they can’t care for, and the government is quick to remove children it believes are abused or neglected. Unfortunately, once these children are warehoused, there is no way out. The orphanages are underfunded and over-crowded. Once the children “age out,” they are sent to live in hospitals, clinics and other Russian institutions ill-equipped to care for them, and eventually dumped out into the street, where they often are abused or turn to crime. Continue reading

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“If That Was Transparency, Then I’m A Kumquat” And Other Reactions To Josh Earnest’s Multiple Unethical Christmas Quotes

This morning, Obama Administration paid liar Josh Earnest spoiled my Christmas mellow by telling CNN’s alleged news media ethics watchdog Brian Stelter that there’s really “no constituency in American politics for transparency in government beyond journalists,” as he deflected Stelter’s accounts of journalists complaining about administration foot-dragging on Freedom of Information Act requests. Then he really curdled the ethicist’s eggnog by saying,

“If this constituency of journalists are gonna be effective advocates for the issue that they care about, they need to remember that they have a responsibility not just to criticize those who are not living up to their expectations. Any activist will tell you that the way that you get people to support you and to support your cause is to give them credit when the credit is due, to applaud them when they do the thing that you want them to be doing.”

Finally, Earnest molded my mistletoe by claiming,  “President Obama has been the most transparent president in American history.”

Stelter, of course, being an incompetent, biased and unethical news media ethics watchdog, did not interjection with the mandatory, “WHAT??? You’ve got to be kidding! HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA ACK! ACK! ARRRGH! and drop dead in shock.

That statement is fake news if anything is, rivaling the news media lie that that the Obama years were devoid of major scandals. Before we begin shooting fish in a barrel and deal with that brazen-beyond-belief spin, let’s pause to consider the other stunner in Earnest’s Christmas morning performance:

1. What does Earnest mean that journalists are the only constituency for transparency? Does the Obama administration, and by extension Democrats, really believe that the public doesn’t mind being lied to? If so, that explains a lot, including the nomination of Hillary Clinton.

2. Journalists are not supposed to advocates and activists at all. They are supposed to be devoted to communicating facts and the truth.

3. Is Earnest saying that when a President generally defies a pledge of ethical conduct, he should nonetheless be praised when he doesn’t defy that pledge, and that journalists should highlight the Administration’s rare examples of  transparency while ignoring the overwhelmingly more copious breaches? It sure sounded like it.

That brings us back to the mind-melting quote that this has been a transparent administration by any definition of the word other than “not transparent at all.”

This episode from 2011 nicely encapsulates the issue:

“President Obama was scheduled to receive an award from the organizers of the Freedom of Information Day Conference, to be presented at the White House by “five transparency advocates.” The White House postponed that meeting because of events in Libya and Japan, and it was rescheduled…That meeting did take place – behind closed doors. The press was not invited to the private transparency meeting, and no photos from or transcript of the meeting have been made available. The event was not listed on the president’s calendar…Nor is the award mentioned anywhere on the White House website, including on the page devoted to transparency and good government. Were it not for the testimony of the transparency advocates who met secretly with the president, there wouldn’t seem to be any evidence that the meeting actually took place.”

That’s right: Obama wasn’t transparent about a transparency meeting. That same day, Obama went on TV  and tried to explain why he hadn’t been transparent to the U.S. Congress about his military plans in Libya.  Shortly after that, news leaked that the Fed had secretly sent billions in loans to foreign banks during the financial crisis.

Ah, memories! On his second day on the job, January 21, 2009, that…President Obama famously pledged, in one of his first memos to federal agencies

“We will work together to ensure the public trust and establish a system of transparency, public participation, and collaboration. Openness will strengthen our democracy and promote efficiency and effectiveness in Government.”

He may be right about that last part, or maybe he discovered that it was naive and impractical dream. Under no circumstances, however, can it be said that Obama’s administration was transparent. An exhaustive list is impossibly, long, but here is an incomplete  sample just from the posts in Ethics Alarms: Continue reading

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Whose Lie Was More Newsworthy, Olympic Swimmer Ryan Lochte’s Regarding His Imaginary Mugging In Rio, Or The Obama Administration’s Regarding Paying Ransom To Iran? [UPDATED]

U.S. President Barack Obama answers a question as he and Singapore's Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong hold a joint news conference at the White House in Washington, U.S. August 2, 2016. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

News Item #1:

The story that Ryan Lochte told four days ago was frightening and detailed, the Olympic gold medalist recalling a late-night robbery and a pistol pressed against his head. On Thursday, Brazilian authorities presented evidence they say contradicts that account and could turn what at first had been a deeply embarrassing incident for the Summer Games’ host country into a different kind of international incident.

The head of Rio de Janeiro’s civil police, Fernando Veloso, said the version of the events told by Lochte and three U.S. swimming teammates was fabricated. The athletes, he said, damaged a gas station bathroom early Sunday morning and were involved in a confrontation with armed security before paying about $50 to resolve the matter.

“We can confirm that there was no robbery as they described, and they were not victims as they presented themselves,” Veloso told a packed news conference, alleging the athletes had given “a fantastical version of events.”

News Item #2:

The State Department conceded for the first time on Thursday that it delayed making a $400 million payment to Iran for several hours in January “to retain maximum leverage” and ensure that three American prisoners were released the same day.

For months the Obama administration had maintained that the payment was part of a settlement over an old dispute and did not amount to a “ransom” for the release of the Americans. Instead, administration officials said, it was the first installment of the $1.7 billion that the United States intends to pay Iran to reimburse it for military equipment it bought before the Iranian revolution that the United States never delivered.

But at a briefing on Thursday, John Kirby, the State Department spokesman, said the United States “took advantage of the leverage” it felt it had that weekend in mid-January to obtain the release of the hostages and “to make sure they got out safely and efficiently.”

There is little doubt as to which of the two lies the U.S. public is being informed about most thoroughly today: It’s #1. After all, Ryan Lochte is a reality TV star, and a celebrity, and an athlete, and this is the Olympics! Up close and personal! Bread! Circuses!

The second story? Meh.What’s the big deal? So the Obama Administration paid ransom for hostages, endangering U.S. citizens all over the world, and repeatedly lied to the press and the public about it over the past two week, issuing unequivocal denials that the 400 million dollar payment and the hostage release were related in any way. So what?

On CNN this morning, the stupid, stupid, stupid story about how a group of boorish Olympic athletes (‘USA! USA!”) peed on the walls of a Rio bathroom and made up a robbery —at gun point!—story to cover up their vandalism was the subject of a full panel discussion. If the Obama version of Iran-Contra was covered at all, it wasn’t in the hour I saw.

Google News search, “Ryan Lochte”…nearly 10 million results.

Google News search, “Iran ransom”…about 220,000 results. Continue reading

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Obama’s Iran-Contra Moment

fake-ransom-note1

As you should know by now, the Wall Street Journal reported

“The Obama administration secretly organized an airlift of $400 million worth of cash to Iran that coincided with the January release of four Americans detained in Tehran, according to U.S. and European officials and congressional staff briefed on the operation afterward.

Wooden pallets stacked with euros, Swiss francs and other currencies were flown into Iran on an unmarked cargo plane, according to these officials. The U.S. procured the money from the central banks of the Netherlands and Switzerland, they said.

The money represented the first installment of a $1.7 billion settlement the Obama administration reached with Iran to resolve a decades-old dispute over a failed arms deal signed just before the 1979 fall of Iran’s last monarch, Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi….Senior U.S. officials denied any link between the payment and the prisoner exchange. They say the way the various strands came together simultaneously was coincidental, not the result of any quid pro quo….But U.S. officials also acknowledge that Iranian negotiators on the prisoner exchange said they wanted the cash to show they had gained something tangible….Iranian press reports have quoted senior Iranian defense officials describing the cash as a ransom payment. 

Isn’t this, then, the equivalent of paying ransom for hostages? Continue reading

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