Shorter Question Everything
• Syria: The diplomatic push ahead of a possible U.S.-led military strike on Syria intensified Tuesday as the White House prepared to release intelligence evidence alleging the use of chemical weapons by Bashar Assad’s military. President Barack Obama held discussions with Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd and French President Francois Hollande on Monday – the latest in a series of phone calls to allies as the United States lays the groundwork for potential military action. Secretary of State John Kerry on Monday said there was “undeniable” evidence that Syria’s government had used chemical weapons to kill its own people, adding that “there must be accountability” for what he termed a “moral obscenity.”
• United Nations chemical weapons investigators said they were shot at while trying to enter Syria on Monday. The U.N. vehicle was shot at multiple times by unidentified snipers, according to a spokesperson for the Secretary General.
• Syria: The State Department says it is postponing a meeting with Russian diplomats on Syria this week. The meeting at The Hague was about setting up an international conference to find a political resolution to the Syrian crisis. A senior State Department official said Monday the meeting between Undersecretary Wendy Sherman and U.S. Ambassador to Syria Robert Ford with their Russian counterparts was postponed because of the ongoing U.S. review about alleged use of chemical weapons in Syria.
• Obama orders release of report justifying Syria strike: Obama ordered a declassified report be prepared for public release before any military strike commences. That report, top advisers tell CBS News, is due to be released in a day or two.
• Syria: U.S. lawmakers urged President Barack Obama on Monday to consult them as he decides how to respond to last week’s apparent poison gas attack in the Damascus suburbs, with some complaining that they have not been fully informed.
• Syria: The United Nations has postponed a planned new visit by chemical weapons experts to a site near Damascus on Tuesday over “safety” fears, a spokesman said. A sniper attack on the experts Monday forced the review of the plan to return to the Damascus suburb of Ghouta, said UN spokesman Farhan Haq. “Following yesterday’s attack on the UN convoy, a comprehensive assessment determined that the visit should be postponed by one day in order to improve preparedness and safety for the team,” said Haq. The UN team has still not obtained “confirmation of access” for a new visit but Haq said this was expected later Tuesday. He gave no other details of what was holding up the confirmation.
• War Powers Resolution gives Obama the power to attack Syria: US President Barack Obama has the authority to launch air strikes against Syria. But he has to notify lawmakers in Congress — a process which Secretary of State John Kerry said Monday has begun. “The administration is actively consulting with members of Congress, and we will continue to have these conversations in the days ahead,” Kerry said in a strongly-worded statement on Syria. A spokesman for the Republican speaker of the House Of Representatives John Boehner however said those conversations had not yet begun.
• A CIA Hand in an American ‘Coup’?: The U.S. government decries leaks, but the other side of the story is that key chapters of American history are hidden from the public for decades and maybe forever. The CIA has just admitted its 1953 Iran coup and may never acknowledge a role in ousting Jimmy Carter in 1980
• Exclusive: CIA Files Prove America Helped Saddam as He Gassed Iran: The U.S. knew Hussein was launching some of the worst chemical attacks in history — and still gave him a hand.
• Colorado judge in hiding after white supremacist group orders ‘hit’: A Colorado judge is in hiding today and under police protection after members of a white supremacist prison gang ordered his assassination, according to a new report from the Denver Post. Quoting a “key source” involved in the case, the Denver Post reports that the “hit” was put on Judge Jonathan Walker after he signed off on about 20 search warrants that allowed investigators access to homes and cellphone records belonging to members of the “211 Crew” gang. The search was authorized to look for evidence that might link them to the slaying of Colorado prisons chief Tom Clements, who was shot and killed in March of this year at his home. Police believe Evan Ebel, a suspect in the Clements murder who was killed in a shootout with police in Texas later that month, was connected to the 211 gang.
• Laura Ingraham Plays Gunfire Sounds During John Lewis’ Washington March Speech: Conservative radio host Laura Ingraham on Monday railed about the commemoration ceremonies for the 50th anniversary of civil rights March on Washington, and then interrupted a recording of Rep. John Lewis’ (D-GA) speech with the sound of gunfire. “We must say to the Congress, pass comprehensive immigration reform,” Lewis said. “It doesn’t make sense that millions of our people…” But the congressman’s remarks were interrupted by a loud echoing gunshot followed by a few moments of silence. Ingraham offered no explanation for the sound effect.
• Insult to injury: George Zimmerman will ask the state of Florida to reimburse him for as much as $300,000 in expenses he racked up successfully defending himself in the shooting death of Trayvon Martin, NBC News has learned. Zimmerman and his legal team believe they are entitled to the refund because Zimmerman was acquitted of second-degree murder July 13 for having shot and killed Martin, 17.
• It is increasingly clear that Snowden himself does not control access to the documents he pilfered from the NSA. I had floated the idea last week, when a new tranche of documents appeared in the Independent — a possibility both Greenwald and Snowden denied vehemently. Edward Snowden recently claimed that these files are locked up so tightly with encryption and other forms of access that not even torture could unlock them. Yet looking at how many news agencies that have published on his documents raises questions about just how secure those data really are. It is difficult to argue, as Snowden’s most ardent fans do, that his documents can be spread so widely, yet still be completely secure from any intelligence service eager to get their hands on it.
• More Lies From Glenn Greenwald – Update: And an Undisclosed Conflict of Interest: Advocate for anarchy Glenn Greenwald is interviewed in Truth-Out today, and yes — he’s still lying about his partner David Miranda being “denied” a lawyer during his detention at Heathrow Airport: Exclusive Glenn Greenwald Interview: ‘I Won’t Be Kept Out of My Country for Doing Journalism!’. Note that the fawning Truth-Out interviewer seems to believe US Miranda warning laws apply in the UK — and Greenwald does nothing to disabuse him of it. There’s no other way to describe this: it’s a bald-faced lie. Greenwald knows that David Miranda was given a lawyer during his detention, yet he makes absolutely no mention of this fact, and instead states once again that Miranda was “denied the right to a lawyer.”
• Ontario minister to announce changes to police use-of-force guidelines in wake of Sammy Yatim shooting: The Ontario minister of Community Safety and Correctional Services has announced she will make an “important announcement” about police use-of-force on Tuesday. Minister Madeleine Meilleur will hold a news conference Tuesday at 10:30 a.m. where she will discuss changes to use-of-force options for police services. Toronto police Chief Bill Blair has also announced an internal review of the police force will take place with the assistance of retired judge Dennis O’Connor. Ontario’s Ombudsman, André Marin, is simultaneously conducting a probe into the province’s guidelines on de-escalation tactics in conflict situations.
• New Westminster: The suspicious deaths of two online escorts in the same building complex within weeks of each other has triggered a joint investigation by the Integrated Homicide Investigation Team and New Westminster Police. It has also triggered an extraordinary warning from the RCMP for escorts to be vigilant given the similarity of the two deaths.
• Mark Towhey, Rob Ford’s former chief of staff, confirms he contacted police: Mayor Rob Ford’s former chief of staff confirmed Monday that he contacted the police while serving as Ford’s top aide. “It’s fair to say that I initiated contact with the police when I came into some information that I thought may be useful to them,” he told Newstalk 1010 host Jim Richards. The Star reported in a May article that Towhey had approached the police. Towhey had not spoken publicly about the article, or anything else related to Ford’s crack cocaine scandal, until his conversation with Richards. The Star cited sources who said Towhey went to the police after another Ford staffer, director of operations and logistics David Price, asked him what they would do if, “hypothetically,” someone told them where they could find the video that appears to show the mayor smoking crack. When Richards put this version of events to Towhey, Towhey said: “Most of the conversations we have in the mayor’s office are pretty confidential, and I think that’s probably one that, if it did happen, would stay that way.”