Saturday, July 30, 2016

Lincoln Journal-Star: State Sen. Kintner may have chatted nude online with a blackmailing stranger

Nebraskans who have long suspected that the loose cannon Tea Party state senator from Papillion isn't the sharpest tool in the Unicameral sausage factory won't have their suspicions assuaged by the newest revelations about his behavior from the Lincoln Journal-Star:
     ...A source familiar with the case told the Journal Star that Kintner himself told investigators about the video exchange when he reported computer problems to the Nebraska State Patrol in July 2015.
    ...Soon after, on Aug. 4, a junior state senator began receiving Facebook messages from an account with a woman's picture, using "broken English" and offering to sell something she said would damage Kintner politically.
     "I just ignored it because I thought it was spam," the  lawmaker said Saturday.
     The person repeated the offer to the junior senator on Aug. 25, this time exchanging several messages and offering to share "a video ... a nakked for Senator Bill Klntner."
     The person claimed to have demanded Kintner himself give money to a deaf child in exchange for keeping quiet about the alleged video, but that Kintner had declined, according to the junior senator.

You've read about Muslim Khizr Khan's DNC speech ripping Trump after about losing his U.S. soldier son in Iraq. But have you watched it?

Nate Silver won't tell you which College World Series team's fans are the biggest drunks, so AKSARBENT went to the well for answers

This shot tally, statics-gathering methodology may be flawed (maybe they should divide # of drinks by # of games played in series?), but who are we to contradict our waitress?

Oklahoma State lost to Arizona in a Game 13, 5-1 elimination win, but the team's fans can really go the distance (472 shots!) after hours.

Big Gay Ice Cream Truck founder: 'We've really, really abused soft serve'

Big Gay Ice Cream Truck partners Douglas Quint (r)
and Bryan Petroff
Big Gay Ice Cream Truck founder Douglas Quint, whose initials couldn't be more appropriate, talked to foodie David Leite this week for The Splendid Table about how he got into the business and how he decided on his business's name. The accompanying web site story attracted an unusually tenacious antigay comment troll.
     The business now has several NYC store fronts and one in Philadelphia. From the company's web site:

     In June 2012, Dessert Professional featured Big Gay Ice Cream in their 10 best ice cream parlors in the U.S. issue. Then in May 2013, The Daily Beast and USA Today ranked Big Gay Ice Cream as the #5 best ice cream parlor in the world - the highest ranked U.S. ice cream parlor on the list.
     Big Gay Ice Cream changed the game of soft-serve in March 2013 when they replaced their original ice cream and launched an all new proprietary ice cream developed in collaboration with Ronnybrook Farm Dairy. Their new soft-serve has been called “awesome” by the press and places Big Gay Ice Cream as one of “New York’s ice cream powerhouses--not only for what they do with ice cream, but for the ice cream itself.”

Did a Nebraska State Patrolman try to bully the state senate's IT Dept. over senator's sex video?

The Omaha World-Herald has updated its story about the revelations that antigay GOP state senator Bill Kintner's computer was discovered to have sexually compromising video involving Kintner.
     Kintner recently confessed to a fellow state senator, a member of his bible study group, that he had used his state computer for erotic exchanges with a woman.
     Sen. Bob Krist, chair of the Unicameral’s Executive Committee, said he notified GOP Gov. Ricketts’ chief of staff after a junior senator was solicited online with an offer to sell the senator an explicit video involving Kintner.
     Krist said he was made aware of the matter after two State Patrol troopers and a legislative information technology worker went to Kintner’s office to look into his concerns about his email possibly having been hacked or scammed. The Executive Committee that Krist chairs supervises all legislative services and employees.
     Krist said the IT worker went to him because he felt he had been interrogated by Kintner and the patrol about the Legislature’s security system on senator email accounts.
     Krist said he met with Patrol Col. Brad Rice after the incident, and Rice agreed that the State Patrol breached protocol, and that the IT worker should’ve been represented by legal counsel.
Above: State Senators Bill Kintner (left) and Bob Krist
     Kintner's wife of seven years, the former Lauren Hill, leads Gov. Ricketts’ policy research office. She is battling ovarian cancer.
     Jane Kleeb, the chairman-elect of the Nebraska Democratic Party, has been sharply critical of Ricketts' delay in going public with a scandal he knew about last year, tweeting: “Party of Trump and Ricketts look other way while Sen. Kintner has sexually explicit video of himself on state computer"

Friday, July 29, 2016

NE finds sex video of antigay whack job state sen. on one of its computers

Related: Did a Nebraska State Patrolman try to bully the Legislature's IT Dept. on behalf of state senator Bill Kintner?
Antigay Bill Kintner, the craziest Republican in the Nebraska Unicameral, is, according to the Lincoln Journal Star, "suspected of having a sexually explicit video of himself on his state computer:"
     This is very naughty, as Nebraska law prohibits public officials from using state computers for "nonessential personal activity."
     Kintner isn't available for comment right now. He's in Indianapolis at an ALEC meeting where he will receive his marching orders and pre-written legislation to introduce in Nebraska, courtesy of the conservative billionaire Koch Brothers and others who fund ALEC.
     We suspect that we would take issue with the state over what it does and doesn't consider essential personal activity, but that argument is for another day. The LJS goes on:
     The probe started with a complaint by Kintner himself, who contacted the Nebraska State Patrol in July 2015 about "what he believed to be a potential internet scam that occurred while the senator was in Massachusetts using his state computer," the patrol confirmed in a release Friday.
     Findings from the yearlong investigation have been turned over to a state agency that handles ethics complaints against public officials. The Nebraska Accountability and Disclosure Commission is expected to weigh in on the issue during a meeting Aug. 5.

     Frank Daley, the commission's executive director, declined to comment Friday.

     Kintner could not immediately be reached.
     ...Omaha Sen. Bob Krist said he informed Gov. Pete Ricketts' chief of staff, Matt Miltenberger, last fall that there was a sexually explicit video involving Kintner that had been brought to senators' attention. 

     And another fellow senator said he contacted the State Patrol around the same time, after a woman offered to sell what she called a sexually explicit video of Kintner.
Now that the legislative session is over, GOP Gov. Ricketts is calling for Kintner to resign:
“Upon learning from the State Patrol of their investigation, I phoned Senator Kintner and urged him to resign if the allegations were true. Due to the ongoing investigation of this issue, I have been unable to say anything publicly. If the allegations are true, Senator Kintner needs to resign.”

If Fox News had done what DNC pool coverage did here, there'd probably be hell to pay

Here, in living color, is a juxtaposition of shots from the DNC's pooled video feed during Hillary's acceptance speech at the 2016 Democratic National Convention. Screencaps below are from the YouTube video posted by PBS here. We don't imagine Sikhs are wild about being conflated with Fromage Heads by Democrats.

Monday, July 25, 2016

Another wedding photographer kicks gay couples to the curb

Via @NE4Equality comes the news that one Vanessa Kibbie, wedding photographer, has joined the rank ranks of Christers Who Will Not Be Denied the Right to Deny Goods and Services to LGBTs.
     On her website, wedding photographer Vanessa Kibbie writes:
"I strive to build connections and relationships with each client. I always cherish every smile and every experience I get to share with my clients."
     Of course to be a client of hers, you must be marrying a member of the opposite sex.
     Kibbie can discriminate because Catholic and fundamentalist churches, spearheaded by the Nebraska Family Alliance, gathered 10,000 signatures to block Lincoln, Nebraska's Fairness Ordinance, which would have assured equal treatment in public accommodations to LGBTs.
     Though we're not fans of the washed-out approach to photography, we think Biddie is a talented portraitist, and to her credit she has not removed critical comments (yet) on her Facebook page.
     Unfortunately, that's all the praise we can muster for a cafeteria Christer who claims to take the bible literally (no one today does, no matter what they claim).
     As for Biddie's contention that her refusal is not about potential clients' sexual orientation but about her biblical beliefs, horseshit. It's ALL about sexual orientation. And we don't buy the argument that hired hands (photogs, wedding planners, caterers, cake bakers, etc.) are forced to be  "celebrants" in same sex marriage ceremonies. They're not, and they shouldn't be trying to nail themselves to that cross.

Here's a Facebook Visitor's post left by someone unamused by Biddie's stance:

Eva Prettyman‎ to Vanessa Kibbie Photography
July 2 at 1:49pm ·

Dear Vanessa,

         I don’t really regret to inform you that I will not be able to use your photography services in the future.
         I am also a Christian and in accordance with that I do my best to be a loving, inclusive and kind person. I am reminded of Matthew 5:44 "But, I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” or Matthew 22:39 "Love your neighbor as yourself.” I don’t believe everything in the bible is true - and I certainly don’t live like that. For example, I commonly wear clothing with mixed fibers and I enjoy shellfish and even bacon occasionally. I also don’t believe in stoning women or children, for the record.
         I believe that photographers are people who use their artistry and technical skill to capture images. To me, they shouldn’t use their businesses as a platform for intolerance or hate and in my faith I cannot support a photographer who would do that. For the same reason, I would not do business with anyone who used their business as a platform for discrimination or for pushing their own intolerant beliefs on others.
         I want to remind you that I am not denying you my patronage because of your religious practices, but simply because my beliefs do not condone supporting a business with a religious agenda that is aligned with intolerance.
         I am not telling you this to condemn you whatsoever but to share with you my reasoning for not being able to support you as a photographer. I wish you the best!

A lost client 

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

CBS: Queen, gay twitter not amused by RNC's use of Freddie Mercury as soundtrack for platform attacks on LGBTs

CBS: "The moment Trump made Freddie Mercury roll over in his grave was one tweet, referencing the contradiction that the nominee of a party whose platform is anti-same sex marriage would choose a song written and performed by a gay man who died from AIDS. Irony not lost on Freddie Mercury's pals, like Sting.
     As for Queen, their message was simple:"

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Here are 4 lies Gov. Mike Pence told George Stephanopoulos on ABC last year about Indiana's Religious Freedom Restoration Act

Related: Every Indiana state representative and senator who voted to legalize discrimination against LGBTs

Time after time after time after time, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence refused to answer a yes or no question from George Stephanopoulos.
      Including lies of omission and outrageously false equivalencies, Indiana's governor told at least four whoppers to ABC's audience.

His first lie was the false equivalency he repeatedly made between the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) of Illinois and Indiana. Illinois' act is balanced by the fact that the Land of Lincoln includes LGBTs as a protected class. Indiana, as Gov. Pence knows very well, does not, and Pence told Stephanopoulos that such protections are not on his "agenda."
     Pence's second lie was his false parallel between the federal RFRA statute and Indiana's. There are at least three major differences between the two:
The bill is broader than its Federal counterpart in several ways.  It
explicitly protects the exercise of religion by entities as well as
individuals.  Its enumeration of entities includes "a corporation",
without limiting this to closely-held companies.  The bill's protections
 may be invoked when a person's exercise of religion is "likely" to be substantially burdened by government action, not just when it has been burdened.
     Pence's third lie was his specific misrepresentation that Indiana's RFRA "represents a foundational protection for individuals." Here's what the law actually says:

     Pence's fourth lie, actually a rather clever bit of disingenuous shape-shifting, was that Indiana's RFRA "does not apply to disputes between individuals unless government action is involved." Here's what the statute really says:

And here's what Lambda Legal says:
SB 101 is substantially broader than the federal law. The so-called Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) can only be invoked against government action. SB 101 goes much further, inviting discrimination by allowing religious beliefs to be raised as a defense in lawsuits and administrative proceedings brought by workers, tenants and customers who have suffered discrimination. In addition, SB 101 makes it easier to claim a burden on religious freedom than the federal RFRA by defining the “exercise of religion” as “any exercise of religion, whether or not compelled by, or central to, a system of religious belief."

Hillary comes out swinging over antigay, antichoice, anti-immigrant, antiscience, pro-NRA Mike Pence

Friday, July 15, 2016

Surprise: a black Harvard economist says cops don't kill blacks more frequently than whites

Omaha cop at outskirts of Black Lives Matter rally, 7/14/16
But if you think this exonerates police of suspicions of racism, guess again. The study, by Roland Fryer, says police are disposed to use other forms of force against whites blacks more than they do against blacks whites. Why the difference?
Mr. Fryer wonders if the divide between lethal force — where he did not find racial disparities — and nonlethal force — where he did — might be related to costs. Officers face costs, legal and psychological, when they unnecessarily fire their guns. But excessive use of lesser force is rarely tracked or punished. “No officer has ever told me that putting their hands on inner-city youth is a life-changing event,” he said.
     Fryer's study was referenced in a recent Time piece, Police Kill Too Many People—White and Black
     The spate of dubious police killings of black citizens is focusing attention on the siege mentality of some popular "warrior"-focused police training organizations.
     Bloomberg reported on one, Calibre Press, run by Jim Glennon, which shows cop classes a violent series of clips depicting police being shot during traffic stops.
     Before proceeding, Glennon points to a threat in the back of the room: me. “In 35 years, we have not allowed the press to come into a class,” he says. “The reason is because we don’t trust them.” He says he’s letting me observe because many police chiefs are frustrated no one is advocating for them. They’re tired of being portrayed in the media as racists and unaccountable killers and want a more sympathetic depiction. If my article screws them, he tells the class with a smile, “I’ll fly out to Seattle”—where I live—“and kill him.”
     In fact, deaths by police in the line of duty are becoming rarer. The FBI says that in 1984 the 10-year average was 97 a year; as of 2014, it was 51. Although the FBI keeps tabs on how many police are murdered on the job, it doesn't keep track of how many people cops kill. Estimates are from 400-1000 per year, which means police exterminate at least 99,000 fewer people per year than do hospital mistakes.    
Below: AKSARBENT video taken at yesterday's Black Lives Matter rally at 30th & Ames in Omaha.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Karma's a bitch: antigay Glenn Beck's bull having an affair with a neighbor's bull; refuses to mate with Beck's cows

The neighbor's bull jumps two fences to visit his boyfriend in Beck's herd. Glenn does not like this. We do, because it is a welcome relief from stories about Taylor Swift's love life.
     By the way, it's not just bulls. We remember a story in the New York Times (we think) published shortly after Brokeback Mountain was released about humans not being the only gay characters in the movie. About 7-9% of domesticated Big Horn rams will have nothing to do with ewes, to the eternal consternation of sheep ranchers. If the statistic in the story is reliable, that would make homosexuality about twice as popular among those sheep as it is among American human males. Not as unnatural as your local homophobic priest or Baptist minister would like you to believe.
(Via Right Wing Watch)

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

HRC rips NE AG Doug Peterson for leading 10-state attack on trans students

The largest, best-organized and best-funded gay civil rights organization in America called out Nebraska Attorney General Doug Peterson yesterday for leading a multi-state legal charge against transgender kids.
     So has the Nebraska ACLU. Here's what the Human Rights Campaign's release said:
     Today, HRC denounced Nebraska Attorney General Doug Peterson for filing a federal lawsuit on behalf of 10 states seeking to block President Barack Obama’s historic guidance to ensure the dignity and equal treatment of transgender students in public and federally-funded schools.
     “It’s a sad day when powerful law enforcement officials come together to harm children by collectively discriminating against them simply because of who they are,” said JoDee Winterhof, senior vice president for policy and political affairs at HRC. “Doug Peterson and his fellow attorneys general -- such as Ken Paxton, who launched a similar attack this week -- should be working to ensure that transgender students can learn in safe, respectful environments, not targeting them for discrimination and bullying. This is shameful.”
     The lawsuit filed by Peterson seeks to rescind the Obama administration’s recent guidance on transgender student rights, and mirrors a similar legal attack led Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton on behalf of his state and 10 others.
      HRC earlier this year released a letter signed by national organizations representing almost 5 million educators, pediatricians, counselors and other child welfare providers urging lawmakers to stop their political attacks on transgender youth. These organizations include the American Federation of Teachers, the American Academy of Pediatrics; the American Counseling Association; the National Association of School Psychologists and the National Education Association.
In its print editions, the Omaha World-Herald minimized Peterson's — and Nebraska's — role in the suit not once, twice or thrice, but four times. The lawsuit was filed in Nebraska by the state's own Attorney General.

As printed in the Herald:

This is what the first paragraph of Attorney General Peterson's complaint actually says:


Tuesday, July 12, 2016

As NE AG Don Peterson and the Nebraska Family Alliance target trans people, a new ad defends them

As Nebraska Attorney General Doug Peterson, pursues his personal, scorched-earth, antiLGBT agenda on the taxpayer's dime, a new ad will air during the GOP and Dem conventions. Peterson hired the policy director of the Nebraska Family Alliance and made him Nebraska's Chief Deputy Attorney General.
     Bydalek is quite a piece of work.
     In 2014, he testified before the Unicameral's Judiciary Committee against adoption reform in Nebraska, citing the infamous Regnerus Study as evidence against adoption by gay couples, despite the fact that Mark Regnerus' study was:
  • engineered and funded by right-wing groups to influence SCOTUS gay marriage deliberations
  • discredited by 200 PhDs and MDs
  • excoriated by the prestigious American Sociological Association
  • called "bullshit" by Darren E. Sherkat, an editor of the very journal that published it, after he was assigned to audit the study following the uproar it caused
From the YouTube description:
     This groundbreaking new ad depicts the challenges faced by transgender people in accessing public restrooms—and highlights the lack of state and federal nondiscrimination protections for transgender people. The ad will have its national TV debut on FOX News Channel next Thursday, July 21, during the final night of the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Ohio. It will air nationwide again on MSNBC during the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia one week later.
     FairnessUSA is a joint project of the Freedom for All Americans Education Fund, the Movement Advancement Project (which created the ad), the National Center for Transgender Equality, and the Equality Ohio Education Fund, with support from the Equality Federation Institute, the Human Rights Campaign Foundation, and the National Center for Lesbian Rights. Find out more at

DNC's voter expansion director gunned down in D.C.; Seth Rich remembered as "a mensch"

Rich, just 27, was returning to the Bloomingdale Brownstone he shared with several roomates when he was shot in the back at least twice while talking to his girlfriend. Police patrolling the area found him after D.C.'s ShotSpotter system alerted them to gunfire about 4:20 a.m.
     He was attacked across the street from a convenience store on the 2100 block of Flagler Place NW, three blocks away from Howard University Hospital.
     From the New York Daily News:
     Rich was remembered affectionately by community members in Omaha, Neb. where the Creighton University graduate was educated and raised.
     “Seth was an amazing young man,” said Rabbi Steven Abraham of local synagogue Beth-El where Rich's relatives are active, multi-generational members. “He devoted his life to helping others secure their right to vote. He was a mensch.”
     From the Chair of the Democratic National Committee, Debbie Wasserman Schultz:
     “Our hearts are broken with the loss of one of our DNC family members over the weekend. Seth Rich was a dedicated, selfless public servant who worked tirelessly to protect the most sacred right we share as Americans – the right to vote. He saw the great potential of our nation and believed that, together, we can make the world a better place. He was a joy to have as a member of our team, and his talents, intelligence and enthusiasm will be deeply missed by the many friends, colleagues and coworkers who worked by his side in service to the highest ideals of our democracy.
      “We send our deepest heartfelt sympathies to Seth’s family, and we will keep them in our thoughts and prayers as we try to pick up the pieces and carry on the work that was so important to Seth and to us.”
     On twitter, the hashtag #SethConradRich is already home to conspiracy theorists blaming Hillary Clinton.

Friday, July 8, 2016

ACLU of NE responds to new 10-state attack, led by NE AG, on Obama guidelines to protect transgender kids

Here's the press release, from the ACLU of Nebraska's website. written after Nebraska Attorney General Doug Peterson announced he was going to make a federal case out of the Obama Justice Department's new guidelines to protect transgender students, because the first multi-state challenge apparently did not allow him to grandstand sufficiently with you tax dollars.
     You can read the suit, filed today, in its entirety, right here at AKSARBENT.
     Lincoln, Neb – On Friday, May 13 the Departments of Education and Justice announced comprehensive guidance that requires schools to treat transgender students in accordance with their gender identity. Today the Nebraska Attorney General’s Office announced it was suing the federal government related to this guidance.
     Danielle Conrad, Executive Director of the ACLU of Nebraska, has this reaction:
     “It is time for our state leaders to stop playing politics with the lives and wellbeing of young transgender Nebraskans and fully live up to our state's motto of 'Equality Before the Law'.  As a state, we all do better when every student has the opportunity to succeed, and that includes ensuring our transgender students are treated with dignity and respect according to their gender identity. Title IX has long prohibited discrimination on the basis of sex, including in single-sex spaces and activities. The recent federal guidance being challenged by the Attorney General does not create any new obligations for Nebraska schools and in fact is consistent with past practice of providing important clarity to schools that receive federal funding about best practices to protect all students from gender discrimination.  The ACLU of Nebraska has successfully resolved these very issues without fanfare or costly litigation with various Nebraska school districts on behalf of transgender students and their families.
     “While there is increased attention on transgender students and legal protections for them, the reality is transgender students have been attending our schools and going to the gender-appropriate facilities for decades without incident. We commend the educational professionals on the front lines of these issues in Nebraska that are doing the right thing to ensure transgender students are being treated with dignity and respect. The Nebraska State Board of Education recently rejected an attempt to circumvent the guidance; the National Education Association recently adopted a resolution as America's teachers to support transgender students. It would be far more productive, and a better use of taxpayer funds, for the Attorney General to open a dialogue with transgender students in Nebraska and their families about how we can work together to support equal opportunity for all Nebraska kids.”
For more:

Antigay NE AG 'leads' 10 states in second suit over Obama transgender school guidelines

Doug Peterson, elected in 2014, has unstintingly spent state funds to oppose every LGBT equality measure he could obstruct.
     Even after the U.S. Supreme Court overruled prohibitions against gay marriage, Peterson went back to court to prevent a dying woman from recovering legal costs in her suit to require Nebraska to recognize her same sex marriage.
     Peterson's statement:
     "Today, Nebraska, along with nine states, filed an action in Nebraska federal court challenging the U.S. Department of Education and the U.S. Department of Justice's recent mandate changing current Title IX law regarding how schools assign students to showers, locker rooms, and restroom facilities.
     Current state law and federal regulations allow schools to maintain separate facilities based upon sex.
     The recent action by these two federal agencies to require showers, locker rooms, and bathrooms be open to both sexes based solely on the student's choice, circumvents this established law by ignoring the appropriate legislative process necessary to change such a law.
     It also supersedes local school districts' authority to address student issues on an individualized, professional and private basis.
     When a federal agency takes such unilateral action in an attempt to change the meaning of established law, it leaves state and local authorities with no other option than to pursue legal clarity in federal court in order to enforce the rule of law.
     Nebraska was also joined by the following states: Arkansas, Kansas, Michigan, Montana, North Dakota, Ohio, South Carolina, South Dakota, and Wyoming."
     From the New York Daily News:
      The Nebraska lawsuit hinges on the terms "sex" and "gender identity," saying federal law uses only the term "sex."
      "Neither the text nor the legislative history of Title IX supports an interpretation of the term "sex" as meaning anything other than one's sex as determined by anatomy and genetics," the lawsuit says.
     Buzzfeed's Chris Geidner says the Nebraska-initiated lawsuit is very similar to the claims raised in a Texas-led suit over the same issue, "often repeating the same exact [sic] language."
     Below is the complaint in its entirety, filed in federal district court today in Nebraska:

Title IX Complaint by Clickon Detroit on Scribd

Watch this guitarist of the biggest-selling U.S. band in music history trash HB2 from a Charlotte stage

The Eagles' Joe Walsh didn't cancel his Charlotte concert earlier this week; instead he played it in sweltering heat, apparently without taking any of his share of the proceeds.
     We still think boycotting the state entirely (and telling people why) is more effective. but Walsh probably contracted to perform before the HB2 brouhaha began.
     LGBTs in North Carolina and elsewhere should be delighted by his support and generosity.
     The Eagles has sold more records than any other U.S. band.

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Hillary to escape prosecution for "extremely careless" email handling; the FBI's complete statement

Below are FBI director James B. Comey's remarks, as prepared for delivery at press briefing. Justice Department head Loretta Lynch has already said she'll abide by the FBI's recommendation in respect of prosecution, for which it is not calling.

     Good morning. I’m here to give you an update on the FBI’s investigation of Secretary Clinton’s use of a personal e-mail system during her time as Secretary of State.
     After a tremendous amount of work over the last year, the FBI is completing its investigation and referring the case to the Department of Justice for a prosecutive decision. What I would like to do today is tell you three things: what we did; what we found; and what we are recommending to the Department of Justice.
     This will be an unusual statement in at least a couple ways. First, I am going to include more detail about our process than I ordinarily would, because I think the American people deserve those details in a case of intense public interest. Second, I have not coordinated or reviewed this statement in any way with the Department of Justice or any other part of the government. They do not know what I am about to say.
     I want to start by thanking the FBI employees who did remarkable work in this case. Once you have a better sense of how much we have done, you will understand why I am so grateful and proud of their efforts.
     So, first, what we have done:
     The investigation began as a referral from the Intelligence Community Inspector General in connection with Secretary Clinton’s use of a personal e-mail server during her time as Secretary of State. The referral focused on whether classified information was transmitted on that personal system.
Our investigation looked at whether there is evidence classified information was improperly stored or transmitted on that personal system, in violation of a federal statute making it a felony to mishandle classified information either intentionally or in a grossly negligent way, or a second statute making it a misdemeanor to knowingly remove classified information from appropriate systems or storage facilities.
     Consistent with our counterintelligence responsibilities, we have also investigated to determine whether there is evidence of computer intrusion in connection with the personal e-mail server by any foreign power, or other hostile actors.
     I have so far used the singular term, “e-mail server,” in describing the referral that began our investigation. It turns out to have been more complicated than that. Secretary Clinton used several different servers and administrators of those servers during her four years at the State Department, and used numerous mobile devices to view and send e-mail on that personal domain. As new servers and equipment were employed, older servers were taken out of service, stored, and decommissioned in various ways. Piecing all of that back together—to gain as full an understanding as possible of the ways in which personal e-mail was used for government work—has been a painstaking undertaking, requiring thousands of hours of effort.
     For example, when one of Secretary Clinton’s original personal servers was decommissioned in 2013, the e-mail software was removed. Doing that didn’t remove the e-mail content, but it was like removing the frame from a huge finished jigsaw puzzle and dumping the pieces on the floor. The effect was that millions of e-mail fragments end up unsorted in the server’s unused—or “slack”—space. We searched through all of it to see what was there, and what parts of the puzzle could be put back together.
     FBI investigators have also read all of the approximately 30,000 e-mails provided by Secretary Clinton to the State Department in December 2014. Where an e-mail was assessed as possibly containing classified information, the FBI referred the e-mail to any U.S. government agency that was a likely “owner” of information in the e-mail, so that agency could make a determination as to whether the e-mail contained classified information at the time it was sent or received, or whether there was reason to classify the e-mail now, even if its content was not classified at the time it was sent (that is the process sometimes referred to as “up-classifying”).
     From the group of 30,000 e-mails returned to the State Department, 110 e-mails in 52 e-mail chains have been determined by the owning agency to contain classified information at the time they were sent or received. Eight of those chains contained information that was Top Secret at the time they were sent; 36 chains contained Secret information at the time; and eight contained Confidential information, which is the lowest level of classification. Separate from those, about 2,000 additional e-mails were “up-classified” to make them Confidential; the information in those had not been classified at the time the e-mails were sent.
     The FBI also discovered several thousand work-related e-mails that were not in the group of 30,000 that were returned by Secretary Clinton to State in 2014. We found those additional e-mails in a variety of ways. Some had been deleted over the years and we found traces of them on devices that supported or were connected to the private e-mail domain. Others we found by reviewing the archived government e-mail accounts of people who had been government employees at the same time as Secretary Clinton, including high-ranking officials at other agencies, people with whom a Secretary of State might naturally correspond.
     This helped us recover work-related e-mails that were not among the 30,000 produced to State. Still others we recovered from the laborious review of the millions of e-mail fragments dumped into the slack space of the server decommissioned in 2013.
     With respect to the thousands of e-mails we found that were not among those produced to State, agencies have concluded that three of those were classified at the time they were sent or received, one at the Secret level and two at the Confidential level. There were no additional Top Secret e-mails found. Finally, none of those we found have since been “up-classified.”
     I should add here that we found no evidence that any of the additional work-related e-mails were intentionally deleted in an effort to conceal them. Our assessment is that, like many e-mail users, Secretary Clinton periodically deleted e-mails or e-mails were purged from the system when devices were changed. Because she was not using a government account—or even a commercial account like Gmail—there was no archiving at all of her e-mails, so it is not surprising that we discovered e-mails that were not on Secretary Clinton’s system in 2014, when she produced the 30,000 e-mails to the State Department.
     It could also be that some of the additional work-related e-mails we recovered were among those deleted as “personal” by Secretary Clinton’s lawyers when they reviewed and sorted her e-mails for production in 2014.
     The lawyers doing the sorting for Secretary Clinton in 2014 did not individually read the content of all of her e-mails, as we did for those available to us; instead, they relied on header information and used search terms to try to find all work-related e-mails among the reportedly more than 60,000 total e-mails remaining on Secretary Clinton’s personal system in 2014. It is highly likely their search terms missed some work-related e-mails, and that we later found them, for example, in the mailboxes of other officials or in the slack space of a server.
     It is also likely that there are other work-related e-mails that they did not produce to State and that we did not find elsewhere, and that are now gone because they deleted all e-mails they did not return to State, and the lawyers cleaned their devices in such a way as to preclude complete forensic recovery.
     We have conducted interviews and done technical examination to attempt to understand how that sorting was done by her attorneys. Although we do not have complete visibility because we are not able to fully reconstruct the electronic record of that sorting, we believe our investigation has been sufficient to give us reasonable confidence there was no intentional misconduct in connection with that sorting effort.
     And, of course, in addition to our technical work, we interviewed many people, from those involved in setting up and maintaining the various iterations of Secretary Clinton’s personal server, to staff members with whom she corresponded on e-mail, to those involved in the e-mail production to State, and finally, Secretary Clinton herself.
     Last, we have done extensive work to understand what indications there might be of compromise by hostile actors in connection with the personal e-mail operation.
     That’s what we have done. Now let me tell you what we found:
     Although we did not find clear evidence that Secretary Clinton or her colleagues intended to violate laws governing the handling of classified information, there is evidence that they were extremely careless in their handling of very sensitive, highly classified information.
     For example, seven e-mail chains concern matters that were classified at the Top Secret/Special Access Program level when they were sent and received. These chains involved Secretary Clinton both sending e-mails about those matters and receiving e-mails from others about the same matters. There is evidence to support a conclusion that any reasonable person in Secretary Clinton’s position, or in the position of those government employees with whom she was corresponding about these matters, should have known that an unclassified system was no place for that conversation. In addition to this highly sensitive information, we also found information that was properly classified as Secret by the U.S. Intelligence Community at the time it was discussed on e-mail (that is, excluding the later “up-classified” e-mails).
     None of these e-mails should have been on any kind of unclassified system, but their presence is especially concerning because all of these e-mails were housed on unclassified personal servers not even supported by full-time security staff, like those found at Departments and Agencies of the U.S. Government—or even with a commercial service like Gmail.
     Separately, it is important to say something about the marking of classified information. Only a very small number of the e-mails containing classified information bore markings indicating the presence of classified information. But even if information is not marked “classified” in an e-mail, participants who know or should know that the subject matter is classified are still obligated to protect it.
     While not the focus of our investigation, we also developed evidence that the security culture of the State Department in general, and with respect to use of unclassified e-mail systems in particular, was generally lacking in the kind of care for classified information found elsewhere in the government.
     With respect to potential computer intrusion by hostile actors, we did not find direct evidence that Secretary Clinton’s personal e-mail domain, in its various configurations since 2009, was successfully hacked. But, given the nature of the system and of the actors potentially involved, we assess that we would be unlikely to see such direct evidence. We do assess that hostile actors gained access to the private commercial e-mail accounts of people with whom Secretary Clinton was in regular contact from her personal account. We also assess that Secretary Clinton’s use of a personal e-mail domain was both known by a large number of people and readily apparent. She also used her personal e-mail extensively while outside the United States, including sending and receiving work-related e-mails in the territory of sophisticated adversaries. Given that combination of factors, we assess it is possible that hostile actors gained access to Secretary Clinton’s personal e-mail account.
     So that’s what we found. Finally, with respect to our recommendation to the Department of Justice:
     In our system, the prosecutors make the decisions about whether charges are appropriate based on evidence the FBI has helped collect. Although we don’t normally make public our recommendations to the prosecutors, we frequently make recommendations and engage in productive conversations with prosecutors about what resolution may be appropriate, given the evidence. In this case, given the importance of the matter, I think unusual transparency is in order.
     Although there is evidence of potential violations of the statutes regarding the handling of classified information, our judgment is that no reasonable prosecutor would bring such a case. Prosecutors necessarily weigh a number of factors before bringing charges. There are obvious considerations, like the strength of the evidence, especially regarding intent. Responsible decisions also consider the context of a person’s actions, and how similar situations have been handled in the past.
     In looking back at our investigations into mishandling or removal of classified information, we cannot find a case that would support bringing criminal charges on these facts. All the cases prosecuted involved some combination of: clearly intentional and willful mishandling of classified information; or vast quantities of materials exposed in such a way as to support an inference of intentional misconduct; or indications of disloyalty to the United States; or efforts to obstruct justice.      We do not see those things here.
     To be clear, this is not to suggest that in similar circumstances, a person who engaged in this activity would face no consequences. To the contrary, those individuals are often subject to security or administrative sanctions. But that is not what we are deciding now.
     As a result, although the Department of Justice makes final decisions on matters like this, we are expressing to Justice our view that no charges are appropriate in this case.
     I know there will be intense public debate in the wake of this recommendation, as there was throughout this investigation. What I can assure the American people is that this investigation was done competently, honestly, and independently. No outside influence of any kind was brought to bear.
I know there were many opinions expressed by people who were not part of the investigation—including people in government—but none of that mattered to us. Opinions are irrelevant, and they were all uninformed by insight into our investigation, because we did the investigation the right way.      Only facts matter, and the FBI found them here in an entirely apolitical and professional way. I couldn’t be prouder to be part of this organization.

Sunday, July 3, 2016

Live From Omaha! goes to the gay day parade

Again this year, the mostly Omaha celebration was held in neighboring Council Bluffs, Iowa (reason: Omaha apparently doesn't have enough streets to accommodate a gay day parade while the College World Series and Olympic Swimming Qualifications are taking place).
     Some straights seem to view the parade as a midsummer freakfest excuse to get extra mileage out of the remnants of their Halloween costumes, but what the hell, we'd still rather see OmahaLive's gleeful, affectionate portrayal of the proceedings than the often-dreary videos produced by gay capitalists to whom the celebration is Opportunity with a big O!
     (And hear a soundtrack that isn't the dreariest of sonically exhibitionist hardcore club disco that takes itself way too seriously. Nice choice Mr. Thompkins.)
     Finally, let us not forget, boys and girls, that although the flashpoint for the current gay movement may have been drag queens outside the Stonewall Inn who were pissed off at being pawns in payoff negotiations between the NYPD and mafia-owned gay bars, the gay movement did NOT start in New York City. (There were physical pushbacks against police harassment during the Cooper's Donuts Riot of 1959 in L.A. and the Compton's Cafeteria Riot in San Francisco in 1966.)
     In San Francisco, bar owners kept the mafia and police payoff profiteering out of gay bars by creating the Tavern Guild (Google it), which provided free legal representation and friendly trial witnesses for gay bar patrons who were arrested on trumped-up charges provided that they fought the charges. Usually they won. This sent a loud, effective and targeted message to the cops that their harassment would no longer result in easy convictions. They quickly got the message and laid off.
     Unlike in New York City, no one had to rip out any parking meters and heave them through plate glass windows
     By 1969, in San Francisco, candidates were already addressing gay constituents in their campaigns and there were nascent gay bowling leagues and softball competitions as an alternative to bar culture.
     And there were even lower profile demonstrations of rebellion in California by gays and their straight friends.
     Years ago, AKSARBENT was told by a man who worked at a reservations center for United Airlines in San Francisco in the middle 60s about the company's firing of a popular employee for being gay, which infuriated his gay and straight coworkers to the point at which they stopped taking calls during their lunch "breaks." Management got the message.
     So take that New York partisans and reporters who continue to regard it as the birthplace of the gay rights movement in the United States. We're looking at you, CBS.

Friday, July 1, 2016

The U.S. Air Force needs a cello and only a $75,000, 1787 Joannes Gagliano will do

Wonder what former Air Force General Don Bacon, the Republican challenging Brad Ashford in Nebraska's 2nd Congressional District,  has to say about this new example of Air Force pork, especially since his web site says the following (click to enlarge):

Time Magazine noted that the Defense Department posted a solicitation for a cello on Tuesday, saying it would be conducting an “online competitive reverse auction” to ensure taxpayers get the best price...
     But while that works fine for boots and bullets—made by multiple companies seeking government contracts—it doesn’t work so well when the military demands one specific item owned by one specific entity. “Brand Name Only (Exact Match),” the announcement says. “There are no substitutes available.”
     Here's the solicitation, full of echo-chamber DoD boilerplate, written by a crank Pentagon paper pusher who surely never dreamed his/her laughably pedestrian me-want might be seen by an audience beyond delusional, group-think, suck-up, money-burning Air Force functionaries:
     This cello is a fine example of professional quality instrument that meets the demands of The U.S. Air Force Band…Each note starts quickly and clearly without any initial noise at all (not even an icy harshness) with almost an initial pop. After playing over 50 similar instruments, this is the only one that meets the rigorous demands required by the U.S.A.F. Band…
     The 1787 Joannes Gagliano Cello brand name embodies a superior family of hand-crafted workmanship representing a spectrum of ideal functionality and flexibility…these exceedingly high standards are uniquely in accordance with the performance mission of The USAF Band and render any other instrument options unsatisfactory…
     This world-class instrument is an ideal choice for members of The USAF Band and the demanding standards required for our daily mission preparation and execution. After consulting countless other recognized industry standard models and relying on multiple perspectives from numerous professionals, it has been determined that only this can meet the exacting standards and professional requirements of The USAF Band.