Replace Fed Chair Powell

JULY 28, 2021
By Robert Kuttner (The American Prospect)
Replace Fed Chair Powell
Jerome Powell has resisted pressures to tighten money, on the correct grounds that the uptick in reported inflation is the transitory result of supply bottlenecks as the economy reopens. Powell has lately given himself a little more wiggle room in the unlikely event that inflation worsens.

The Fed ends a two-day policy meeting today. My sources say that any policy shading will be mainly about starting to pull back on bond purchases, but not on raising rates anytime soon.

As a former Wall Street guy who was appointed Fed chair by Trump, Powell is presumably a liberal Democrat’s dream—a loose-money Republican.

Powell’s term as chair expires in February 2022. He’d like to keep his job, and there is a Reappoint Powell lobby that stretches from Wall Street to some progressives focused on cheap money, like Dean Baker.

As I wrote in a column yesterday, reappointing Powell would be a big mistake. He is great on monetary policy but terrible on everything else the Fed does, namely financial regulation and supervision, weakening Dodd-Frank, economic concentration, and climate issues. The Democratic alternative as chair, Fed governor Lael Brainard, is at least as good as Powell on monetary policy and much better on everything else.

The premise of Democrats for Powell is that he gives Biden’s policy of tax, borrow, and invest “cover” with Republicans. But think harder: Reappointing Powell provides no carryover benefit. (Query: Which Republican will say, “Good old Joe Biden reappointed Powell. I guess I’ll vote for infrastructure after all.”?)

Nor does Biden need any cover on monetary policy. Wall Street and corporate America all want cheap money.

Another premise of the Powell bandwagon is that Powell would be easily confirmed. But so would Lael Brainard, who was a centrist Democrat in the Obama Treasury, and since being named to the Fed in 2014 has evolved (like Biden) into more of a progressive.

One other clincher: If Biden reappoints Powell, a majority of Fed governors will be Wall Street conservatives. But if Powell doesn’t stay chair, he likely quits the Fed. So does Randy Quarles, the truly awful Fed vice chair for supervision. Two other seats are already open or will soon be. By dumping Powell, Biden thus gets four nominees. So the Fed goes from the current 4-to-1 pro-corporate, to 5-2 progressive.

Despite a spate of coordinated leaks that Powell’s reappointment is a done deal, it isn’t.

SF Still Determined to Buy Local PG&E Grid, Demands an Appraisal

27 JULY 2021/SF NEWS/JOE KUKURA (SFist.com)

PG&E rebuffed SF’s $2.5 billion offer for the city’s grid in 2019, but now the city is power-playing for an appraisal and gaming to force the utility to sell.

With the exception of the constant factor that PG&E starts wildfires every summer, plenty has changed since San Francisco tried to buy PG&E’s grid and power lines within city limits back in 2019 for $2.5 billion. Most notably, coronavirus came along. But the anticipated decimation of the city’s budget was neatly avoided thanks to Biden bailout bucks, so San Francisco can once again afford to make sizable investments in clean energy. PG&E, for their part, are no longer in Chapter 11 bankruptcy, so their backs are perhaps less against the wall.

But the city is still determined to buy the grid, and forcing PG&E’s hand at it. The Chronicle reports San Francisco just petitioned the California Public Utilities Commission to appraise what a fair price would be for every pole, wire, line, and other piece of equipment PG&E owns, so the city can promptly buy it and operate it as their own. If $2.5 billion was too low, the city says, let’s have an independent body determine the fair price.

“PG&E’s ongoing problems with providing safe and reliable gas and electric service throughout its service territory are well-known,” says the petition from city attorney and soon-to-be SFPUC manager Dennis Herrera, also signed by the mayor and listing many other city officials as parties. “The Commission has acknowledged that PG&E’s recent history of safety performance ‘has ranged from dismal to abysmal.’ While San Francisco has not experienced the devastation associated with catastrophic wildfires and other disasters caused by PG&E, over the years PG&E’s difficulty in maintaining a safe and reliable system has caused multiple incidents resulting in injuries and property damage within the City.”

The petition is to the CPUC (California Public Utilities Commission), but San Francisco also has an SFPUC (San Francisco Public Utilities Commission) that keeps having to shell out unexpected taxpayer dollars for what they call “mother-may-I” charges from the utility. The SFPUC’s assistant general manager Barbara Hale cited a recent $1 billion charge where “PG&E is making us invest a tremendous amount of money just to continue to have the streetlights connected to their grid.” And you have to take into account that PG&E has historically failed to rein in extravagant executive spending.

Image: SFCityAttorney.org

It’s hard to find a good guy to root for in a fight between PG&E and City Hall, and don’t worry, you don’t need to pick a side anytime soon. As seen above in the timeline petitioner’s request, they will be haggling over this decision for months, and the CPUC is not asked to really provide a definitive dollar valuation for another 480 days. So we’re talking mid-November 2022 here, at which point theoretically another set of negotiations occurs between the city and PG&E.

So if fighting climate change is a goal here, frankly, god knows what condition the planet will be in by the time this gets resolved.

Related: PG&E Finally Has Plans to Put Electrical Lines Underground In Fire-Prone Areas [SFist]

Image: CBRE

Read drone whistleblower Daniel Hale’s riveting letter to judge describing why he ‘came to violate the espionage act’

photo from standwithdanielhale.org

KEVIN GOSZTOLA · JULY 27, 2021 (thegrayzone.com)

“The truest truism that I’ve come to understand about the nature of war is that war is trauma,” Daniel Hale wrote.

This article was originally published at The Dissenter. Subscribe here.


As the President Joe Biden winds down United States military involvement in Afghanistan, a conflict spanning nearly 20 years, the U.S. Justice Department seeks the harshest sentence ever for the unauthorized disclosure of information in a case against an Afghanistan War veteran.

Daniel Hale, who “accepted responsibility” for violating the Espionage Act, responded to the spitefulness of prosecutors by submitting a letter [PDF] to Judge Liam O’Grady, a judge for the district court in the Eastern District of Virginia. It could be construed as a plea for mercy from the court ahead of sentencing, but more than anything, it outlines a defense of his actions that the U.S. government and a U.S. court would never have allowed him to present before a jury.

In the letter filed in court on July 22, Hale addresses his constant struggle with depression and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). He recalls U.S. drone strikes from his deployment to Afghanistan. He grapples with his return home from the war in Afghanistan and the decisions he had to make to move on with his life. He needed money for college, and ultimately took a job with a defense contractor, which led him to work for the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA).

“Left to decide whether to act,” Hale declares, “I only could do that which I ought to do before God and my own conscience. The answer came to me, that to stop the cycle of violence, I ought to sacrifice my own life and not that of another person.” So, he contacted a reporter who he had communicated with before.

Hale is due to be sentenced on July 27. He was part of the drone program in the U.S. Air Force and later worked at the NGA. He pled guilty on March 31 to one charge of violating the Espionage Act, when he provided documents to Intercept co-founder Jeremy Scahill and anonymously wrote a chapter in Scahill’s book, The Assassination Complex: Inside the Government’s Secret Drone Warfare Program

He was taken into custody and sent to the William G. Truesdale Detention Center in Alexandria, Virginia, on April 28. A therapist from pretrial and probation services named Michael violated patient confidentiality and shared details with the court related to his mental health.

The public heard from Hale in Sonia Kennebeck’s National Bird documentary, which was released in 2016. A feature published in New York Magazine by Kerry Howley quoted Hale and told much of his story. Yet this is the first opportunity the press and public has had since he was arrested and jailed to read Hale’s unfiltered views on the choice he made to expose the true nature of drone warfare.

*Below is a transcript that was slightly edited for readability, however, none of the content has been altered in any manner, shape, or form.

First page from Daniel Hale’s letter to the court. Read the full letter here

TRANSCRIPT

Dear Judge O’Grady:

It is not a secret that I struggle to live with depression and post-traumatic stress disorder. Both stem from my childhood experience growing up in a rural mountain community and were compounded by exposure to combat during military services. Depression is a constant. Though stress, particularly stress caused by war, can manifest itself at different times and in different ways. The tall-tale signs of a person afflicted by PTSD and depression can often be outwardly observed and are practically universally recognizable. Hard lines about the face and jaw. Eyes, once bright and wide, now deepest and fearful. And an inexplicably sudden loss of interest in things that used to spark joy.

These are the noticeable changes in my demeanor marked by those who knew me before and after military service. [That] the period of my life spent serving in the United States Air Force had an impression on me would be an understatement. It is more accurate to say that it irreversibly transformed my identity as an American. Having forever altered the thread of my life’s story, weaved into the fabric of our nation’s history. To better appreciate the significance of how this came to pass, I would like to explain my experience deployed to Afghanistan as it was in 2012 and how it is I came to violate the Espionage Act, as a result.

In my capacity as a signals intelligence analyst stationed at Bagram Airbase, I was made to track down the geographic location of handset cellphone devices believed to be in the possession of so-called enemy combatants. To accomplish this mission required access to a complex chain of globe-spanning satellites capable of maintaining an unbroken connection with remotely piloted aircraft, commonly referred to as drones.

Once a steady connection is made and a targeted cell phone device is acquired, an imagery analyst in the U.S., in coordination with a drone pilot and camera operator, would take over using information I provided to surveil everything that occurred within the drone’s field of vision. This was done most often to document the day-to-day lives of suspected militants. Sometimes, under the right conditions, an attempt at capture would be made. Other times, a decision to strike and kill them where they stood would be weighed.

The first time that I witnessed a drone strike came within days of my arrival to Afghanistan. Early that morning, before dawn, a group of men had gathered together in the mountain ranges of Paktika Province around a campfire carrying weapons and brewing tea. That they carried weapons with them would not have been considered out of the ordinary in the place I grew up, much less within the virtually lawless tribal territories outside the control of the Afghan authorities except that among them was a suspected member of the Taliban, given away by the targeted cell phone device in his pocket. As for the remaining individuals, to be armed, of military age, and sitting in the presence of an alleged enemy combatant was enough evidence to place them under suspicion as well. Despite having peacefully assembled, posing no threat, the fate of the now tea drinking men had all but been fulfilled. I could only look on as I sat by and watched through a computer monitor when a sudden terrifying flurry of Hellfire missiles came crashing down, splattering purple-colored crystal guts on the side of the morning mountain.

Since that time and to this day, I continue to recall several such scenes of graphic violence carried out from the cold comfort of a computer chair. Not a day goes by that I don’t question the justification for my actions. By the rules of engagement, It may have been permissible for me to have helped to kill those men—whose language I did not speak, customs I did not understand, and crimes I could not identify—in the gruesome manner that I did watch them die. But how could it be considered honorable of me to continuously have laid in wait for the next opportunity to kill unsuspecting persons, who more often than not, are posing no danger to me or any other person at the time. Never mind honorable, how could it be that any thinking person continued to believe that it was necessary for the protection of the United States of America to be in Afghanistan and killing people, not one of whom present was responsible for the September 11th attacks on our nation. Notwithstanding, in 2012, a full year after the demise of Osama bin Laden in Pakistan, I was a part of killing misguided young men, who were but mere children on the day of 9/11.

Nevertheless, in spite of my better instincts, I continued to follow orders and obey my command for fear of repercussion. Yet, all the while, becoming increasingly aware that the war had very little to do with preventing terror from coming into the United States and a lot more to do with protecting the profits of weapons manufacturers and so-called defense contractors. The evidence of this fact was laid bare all around me. In the longest, most technologically advanced war in American history, contract mercenaries outnumbered uniform wearing soldiers 2-to-1 and earned as much as 10 times their salary. Meanwhile, it did not matter whether it was, as I had seen, an Afghan farmer blown in half, yet miraculously conscious and pointlessly trying to scoop his insides off the ground, or whether it was an American flag-draped coffin lowered into Arlington National Cemetery to the sound of a 21-gun salute. Bang, bang, bang. Both serve to justify the easy flow of capital at the cost of blood—theirs and ours. When I think about this, I am grief-stricken and ashamed of myself of the things that I’ve done to support it.

The most harrowing day of my life came months into my deployment to Afghanistan when a routine surveillance mission turned into disaster. For weeks we had been tracking the movements of a ring of car bomb manufacturers living around Jalalabad. Car bombs directed at U.S. bases had become an increasingly frequent and deadly problem that summer, so much effort was put into stopping them. It was a windy and clouded afternoon when one of the suspects had been discovered headed eastbound, driving at a high rate of speed. This alarmed my superiors who believed he might be attempting to escape across the border into Pakistan.

A drone strike was our only chance and already it began lining up to take the shot. But the less advanced Predator drone found it difficult to see through clouds and compete against strong headwinds. The single payload MQ-1 failed to connect with its target, instead missing by a few meters. The vehicle, damaged but still drivable, continued on ahead after narrowly avoiding destruction. Eventually, once the concern of another incoming missile subsided, the drive stopped, got out of the car, and checked himself as though he could not believe he was still alive. Out of the passenger side came a woman wearing an unmistakeable burka. As astounding as it was to have just learned there had been a woman, possibly his wife, there with the man we intended to kill moments ago, I did not have the chance to see what happened next before the drone diverted its camera when she began frantically to pull out something from the back of the car.

A couple days passed before I finally learned from a briefing by my commanding officer about what took place. There indeed had been the suspect’s wife with him in the car and in the back were their two young daughters, ages 5 and 3 years-old. A cadre of Afghan soldiers were sent to investigate where the car had stopped the following day.

It was there they found them placed in the dumpster nearby. The [older daughter] was found dead due to unspecified wounds caused by shrapnel that pierced her body. Her younger sister was alive but severely dehydrated.

As my commanding officer relayed this information to us, she seemed to express disgust, not for the fact that we had errantly fired on a man and his family, having killed one of his daughters, but for the suspected bomb maker having ordered his wife to dump the bodies of their daughters in the trash so that the two of them could more quickly escape across the border. Now, whenever I encounter an individual who thinks that drone warfare is justified and reliably keeps America safe, I remember that time and ask myself how could I possibly continue to believe that I am a good person, deserving of my life and the right to pursue happiness.

One year later, at a farewell gathering for those of us who would soon be leaving military service, I sat alone, transfixed by the television, while others reminisced together. On television was breaking news of the president [Obama] giving his first public remarks about the policy surrounding the use of drone technology in warfare. His remarks were made to reassure the public of reports scrutinizing the death of civilians in drone strikes and the targeting of American citizens. The president said that a high standard of “near certainty” needed to be met in order to ensure that no civilians were present.

But from what I knew of the instances where civilians plausibly could have been present, those killed were nearly always designated enemies killed in action unless proven otherwise. Nonetheless, I continued to heed his words as the president went on to explain how a drone could be used to eliminate someone who posed an “imminent threat” to the United States.

Using the analogy of taking out a sniper, with his sights set out on an unassuming crowd of people, the president likened the use of drones to prevent a would-be terrorist from carrying out his evil plot. But as I understood it to be, the unassuming crowd had been those who lived in fear and terror of drones in their skies and the sniper in the scenario had been me. I came to believe that the policy of drone assassination was being used to mislead the public that it keep[s] us safe, and when I finally left the military, still processing what I’d been a part of, I began to speak out, believing my participation in the drone program to have been deeply wrong.

I dedicated myself to anti-war activism and was asked to partake in a peace conference in Washington, D.C., late November 2013. People had come together from around the world to share experiences about what it is like living in the age of drones. Faisal bin Ali Jaber had journeyed from Yemen to tell us of what happened to his brother Salim bin Ali Jaber and the their cousin Waleed. Waleed had been a policeman, and Salim was a well-respected firebrand imam, known for giving sermons to young men about the path towards destruction should they choose to take up violent jihad.

One day in August 2012, local members of Al Qaeda traveling through Faisal’s village in a car spotted Salim in the shade, pulled up towards him, and beckoned him to come over and speak to them. Not one to miss an opportunity to evangelize the youth, Salim proceeded cautiously with Waleed by his side. Faisal and other villagers began looking on from afar. Farther still was an ever present Reaper drone looking, too.

As Faisal recounted what happened next, I felt myself transported back in time to where I had been on that day, 2012. Unbeknownst to Faisal and those of his village at the time was that they had not been the only ones watching Salim approach the jihadist in the car. From Afghanistan, I and everyone on duty paused their work to witness the carnage that was about to unfold. At the press of a button from thousands of miles away, two Hellfire missiles screeched out of the sky, followed by two more. Showing no signs of remorse, I and those around me clapped and cheered triumphantly. In the front of a speechless auditorium, Faisal wept.

About a week after the peace conference I received a lucrative job offer if I were to come back to work as a government contractor. I felt uneasy about the idea. Up to that point, my only plan post military separation had been to enroll in college to complete my degree. But the money I could make was by far more than I had ever made before; in fact, it was more than any of my college-educated friends were making. So after giving it careful consideration, I delayed going to school for a semester and took the job.

For a long time, I was uncomfortable with myself over the thought of taking advantage of my military background to land a cushy desk job. During that time, I was still processing what I had been through, and I was starting to wonder if I was contributing again to the problem of money and war by accepting to return as a defense contractor. Worse was my growing apprehension that everyone around me was also taking part in a collective delusion and denial that was used to justify our exorbitant salaries for comparatively easy labor. The thing I feared most at the time was the temptation not to question it.

Then it came to be that one day after work I stuck around to socialize with a pair of co-workers whose talented work I had come to greatly admire. They made me feel welcomed, and I was happy to have earned their approval. But then, to my dismay, our brand new friendship took an unexpectedly dark turn. They elected that we should take a moment and view together some archived footage of past drone strikes. Such bonding ceremonies around a computer to watch so-called “war porn” had not been new to me. I partook in them all the time while deployed to Afghanistan. But on that day, years after the fact, my new friends [gasped] and sneered, just as my old ones had, at the sight of faceless men in the final moments of their lives. I sat by watching too, said nothing, and felt my heart breaking into pieces.

Your Honor, the truest truism that I’ve come to understand about the nature of war is that war is trauma. I believe that any person either called upon or coerced to participate in war against their fellow man is promised to be exposed to some form of trauma. In that way, no soldier blessed to have returned home from war does so uninjured.

The crux of PTSD is that it is a moral conundrum that afflicts invisible wounds on the psyche of a person made to burden the weight of experience after surviving a traumatic event. How PTSD manifests depends on the circumstances of the event. So how is the drone operator to process this? The victorious rifleman, unquestioningly remorseful, at least keeps his honor intact by having faced off against his enemy on the battlefield. The determined fighter pilot has the luxury of not having to witness the gruesome aftermath. But what possibly could I have done to cope with the undeniable cruelties that I perpetuated?

My conscience, once held at bay, came roaring back to life. At first, I tried to ignore it. Wishing instead that someone, better placed than I, should come along to take this cup from me. But this, too, was folly. Left to decide whether to act, I only could do that which I ought to do before God and my own conscience. The answer came to me, that to stop the cycle of violence, I ought to sacrifice my own life and not that of another person.

So I contacted an investigative reporter with whom I had had an established prior relationship and told him that I had something the American people needed to know.

Respectfully,

Daniel Hale

KEVIN GOSZTOLA

Kevin Gosztola is managing editor of Shadowproof.com. He also produces and co-hosts the weekly podcast, “Unauthorized Disclosure.”

(Contributed by Gwyllm Llwydd)

THOUSANDS JOIN BUDAPEST PRIDE MARCH TO PROTEST ANTI-LGBTQ EDUCATION LAW IN HUNGARY

Issued on: 24/07/2021 – 18:48 (France24.com)

Text by:NEWS WIRES4 min

Thousands of Hungarians joined the annual Budapest Pride march on Saturday to support LGBTQ people and protest against a law that limits teaching about homosexuality and transgender issues in schools.

Hungary‘s nationalist Prime Minister Viktor Orban, in power since 2010, has introduced social policies that he says aim to safeguard traditional Christian values from Western liberalism, stoking tensions with the European Union.

The European Commission has launched legal action against Orban’s government over the new law, which came into force this month, saying it is discriminatory and contravenes European values of tolerance and individual freedom.

Demonstrators at the march through the streets of central Budapest said the legislation was dividing the former Soviet-bloc nation and now a member of the European Union.

“The law is an outrage. We live in the 21st century, when things like that should not be happening. We are no longer in communist times, this is the EU and everyone should be able to live freely,” Istvan, 27, said at the march with his boyfriend.

Orban‘s Fidesz-Christian Democrat government, which faces a tough election next year, says LGBTQ rights and other such social issues are matters for national governments to decide. It says the law aims to protect children not target homosexuals.

Organisers said in a statement the rally would show opposition to “power-hungry politicians” and reject intimidation of LGBTQ people.

“Instead of protecting minorities, the Fidesz-Christian Democrat government is using laws to make members of the LGBTQ community outcasts in their own country,” they said.

Orban owes some of his electoral success to a tough line on immigration. As that issue has receded from the political agenda, his focus has shifted to gender and sexuality issues.

‘Nothing more than a diversion’

Boglarka Balazs, a 25-year-old economist who joined the rally, said the legislation was a campaign tool. “This is nothing more than a diversion that tries to tear the country apart. It is a provocation because of the elections,” she said.

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A survey last month by the Ipsos polling organisation found that 46% of Hungarians supported same-sex marriage.

More than 40 embassies and foreign cultural institutions in Hungary issued a statement backing  the Budapest Pride Festival.

“We encourage steps in every country to ensure the equality and dignity of all human beings irrespective of their sexual orientation or gender identity,” wrote the signatories, including the U.S., British and German embassies.

Balint Berta, 29, who works at a clothing retailer, said the legislation was creating artificial tensions in society. “The more politics incites this, society will turn around and people will turn against one another after a while,” he said.

(REUTERS)

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BIO: AMELIA BLOOMER

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

AMELIA BLOOMER
BORNAmelia Jenks
May 27, 1818
Homer, New York, United States
DIEDDecember 30, 1894 (aged 76)
Council Bluffs, Iowa, United States
MONUMENTSAmelia Bloomer House
NATIONALITYAmerican
OCCUPATIONWomen’s rights and temperance advocate
KNOWN FORPublicizing the idea of women wearing pants which came to be known as “Bloomers”
NOTABLE WORKowner/editor of The Lily
SPOUSE(S)Dexter Bloomer (m. 1840)

Amelia Jenks Bloomer (May 27, 1818 – December 30, 1894) was an American women’s rights and temperance advocate. Even though she did not create the women’s clothing reform style known as bloomers, her name became associated with it because of her early and strong advocacy. In her work with The Lily, she became the first woman to own, operate and edit a newspaper for women.

Early life

Amelia Jenks was born in 1818 in Homer, New York, to Ananias Jenks and Lucy (Webb) Jenks. She came from a family of modest means and received only a few years of formal education in the local district school.[1]

Career

After a brief time as a school teacher at the age of 17, she decided to relocate, and moved in with her newly married sister Elvira, then living in Waterloo. Within a year she had moved into the home of the Oren Chamberlain family in Seneca Falls to act as the live-in governess for their three youngest children.[2]

On April 15, 1840, when she was 22, she married law student Dexter Bloomer who encouraged her to write for his New York newspaper, the Seneca Falls County Courier. Bloomer supported her activism; he even gave up drinking as part of the Temperance Movement.[1]

She spent her early years in Cortland County, New York. Bloomer and her family moved to Iowa in 1852.[3]

Social activism

In 1848, Bloomer attended the Seneca Falls Convention, the first women’s rights convention, though she did not sign the Declaration of Sentiments and subsequent resolutions, due to her deep connection with the Episcopal Church. This meeting would serve as her inspiration to start her newspaper.

The following year, she began editing the first newspaper by and for women, The Lily. Published biweekly from 1849 until 1853, the newspaper began as a temperance journal, but came to have a broad mix of contents ranging from recipes to moralist tracts, particularly when under the influence of suffragists Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony. Bloomer felt that because women lecturers were considered unseemly, writing was the best way for women to work for reform. Originally, The Lily was to be for “home distribution” among members of the Seneca Falls Ladies Temperance Society, which had formed in 1848, and eventually had a circulation of over 4,000. The paper encountered several obstacles early on, and the Society’s enthusiasm died out. Bloomer felt a commitment to publish and assumed full responsibility for editing and publishing the paper. Originally, the title page had the legend “Published by a committee of ladies.” But after 1850 – only Bloomer’s name appeared on the masthead.[4] This newspaper was a model for later periodicals focused on women’s suffrage.

Bloomer described her experience as the first woman to own, operate and edit a news vehicle for women:

It was a needed instrument to spread abroad the truth of a new gospel to woman, and I could not withhold my hand to stay the work I had begun. I saw not the end from the beginning and dreamed where to my propositions to society would lead me.

Bloomer SuitDepiction of Amelia Bloomer wearing the famous “bloomer” costume which was named after her (a tunic + “pantelettes”).

In her publication, Bloomer promoted a change in dress standards for women that would be less restrictive in regular activities.

The costume of women should be suited to her wants and necessities. It should conduce at once to her health, comfort, and usefulness; and, while it should not fail also to conduce to her personal adornment, it should make that end of secondary importance.

In 1851, New England temperance activist Elizabeth Smith Miller (aka Libby Miller) adopted what she considered a more rational costume: loose trousers gathered at the ankles, like women’s trousers worn in the Middle East and Central Asia, topped by a short dress or skirt and vest.[5] The costume was worn publicly by actress Fanny Kemble.[citation needed] Miller displayed her new clothing to Stanton, her cousin, who found it sensible and becoming, and adopted it immediately. In this garb Stanton visited Bloomer, who began to wear the costume and promote it enthusiastically in her magazine.[citation needed] Articles on the clothing trend were picked up in The New York Tribune. More women wore the fashion which was promptly dubbed The Bloomer Costume or “Bloomers“.[citation needed] However, the Bloomers were subjected to ceaseless ridicule in the press and harassment on the street.[citation needed] Bloomer herself dropped the fashion in 1859, saying that a new invention, the crinoline, was a sufficient reform that she could return to conventional dress.[citation needed]

Also in 1851, Bloomer introduced the suffragettes Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony to each other.[6][7]

In 1854, when Bloomer and her husband decided to move to Council Bluffs, Iowa, Bloomer sold The Lily to Mary Birdsall in Richmond, Indiana. Birdsall and Dr. Mary F. Thomas kept the publication going at least through 1859.[1][8]

Bloomer remained a suffrage pioneer and writer throughout her life, writing for a wide array of periodicals. Although Bloomer was far less famous than some other feminists, she made many significant contributions to the women’s movement — particularly concerning dress reform. Bloomer also led suffrage campaigns in Nebraska and Iowa and served as president of the Iowa Woman Suffrage Association from 1871 until 1873.[4]

Death and burial

She died in 1894, at the age of 76, and is buried in Fairview Cemetery, Council Bluffs, Iowa.[9][10]

Commemorations

Statue, called “When Anthony Met Stanton”, immortalizing the 1851 meeting of Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Susan B. Anthony and Amelia Bloomer in Seneca Falls, New York.

She is commemorated together with Elizabeth Cady StantonSojourner Truth, and Harriet Ross Tubman in the calendar of saints of the Episcopal Church on July 20. In 1975 she was inducted into the Iowa Women’s Hall of Fame.[11] In 1980 her home at Seneca Falls, New York, known as the Amelia Bloomer House, was listed on the National Register of Historic Places.[3] In 1995 she was inducted into the National Women’s Hall of Fame.[12][13] In 1999 a sculpture by Ted Aub was unveiled commemorating when on May 12, 1851, Bloomer introduced Susan B. Anthony to Elizabeth Cady Stanton.[14][6] This sculpture, called “When Anthony Met Stanton”, consists of the three women depicted as life-size bronze statues, and is placed overlooking Van Cleef Lake in Seneca Falls, New York, where the introduction occurred.[6][14] From 2002 until 2020, the American Library Association produced an annual Amelia Bloomer List of recently published books with significant feminist content for younger readers. However, in 2020 the list’s name was changed to Rise: A Feminist Book Project for Ages 0–18, explained as such: “The project has been promoting quality feminist literature for young readers since 2002 as a part of the Feminist Task Force and the Social Responsibilities Round Table [both of the American Library Association]. This year,[when?] the committee was made aware that, though Amelia Bloomer had a platform as a publisher, she refused to speak against the Fugitive Slave Law of 1850 (Simmons [Referring to “Simmons, L. (2016, September 23). Petition of Amelia Bloomer regarding suffrage in the West. National Archives. Retrieved from [1].]). SRRT and FTF believe librarians and libraries must work to correct social problems and inequities with particular attention to intersectionality, feminism, and deliberate anti-racism. As a result, the committee unanimously voted in favor of a name change. Rise: A Feminist Book Project for Ages 0-18, reflects the diversity and inclusion for which feminism as a whole — and this committee specifically—strives.”[15][16]

More at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amelia_Bloomer

Book: “The Prosecution of George W. Bush for Murder”

The Prosecution of George W. Bush for Murder

The Prosecution of George W. Bush for Murder

by Vincent Bugliosi 

Famed Charles Manson prosecutor and three time #1 New York Times bestselling author Vincent Bugliosi has written the most powerful, explosive, and thought-provoking book of his storied career.In The Prosecution of George W. Bush for Murder, Bugliosi presents a tight, meticulously researched legal case that puts George W. Bush on trial in an American courtroom for the murder of nearly 4,000 American soldiers fighting the war in Iraq. Bugliosi sets forth the legal architecture and incontrovertible evidence that President Bush took this nation to war in Iraq under false pretenses—a war that has not only caused the deaths of American soldiers but also over 100,000 innocent Iraqi men, women, and children; cost the United States over one trillion dollars thus far with no end in sight; and alienated many American allies in the Western world.

As a prosecutor who is dedicated to seeking justice, Bugliosi, in his inimitable style, delivers a non-partisan argument, free from party lines and instead based upon hard facts and pure objectivity.

A searing indictment of the President and his administration, The Prosecution of George W. Bush for Murder also outlines a legally credible pathway to holding our highest government officials accountable for their actions, thereby creating a framework for future occupants of the oval office.

Vincent Bugliosi calls for the United States of America to return to the great nation it once was and can be again. He believes the first step to achieving this goal is to bring those responsible for the war in Iraq to justice.

(Goodreads.com)

THE FLINT COVER-UP

Wiped Phones and the Battle for Evidence in Former Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder’s Prosecution

Illustration: Noah MacMillan

Jordan Chariton
Jenn Dize

Jordan CharitonJenn Dize
July 21 2021, 9:33 a.m. (TheIntercept.com)

In partnership with

IN OCTOBER 2015, then-Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder finally announced that Flint’s water was contaminated with dangerous lead levels. That public admission had come after more than a year of pleading from the city’s residents to examine the situation. The city, Snyder promised, would immediately stop using water from the Flint River, which residents had been drinking for 18 months.

The public announcement raised as many questions as it answered and kick-started a yearslong investigation into how the decision that delivered the toxic water to Flint had been made in the first place, how many people were sickened and killed as a result, and when senior government officials first learned of the deadly consequences. 

Along the way, however, investigators who were part of a three-year Flint water investigation beginning in 2016 kept drilling dry holes. 

Dr. Eden Wells became Michigan’s chief medical executive in May 2015. By then, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services had been aware for at least seven months of a significant increase in the deadly waterborne Legionnaires’ disease throughout Flint.

But when investigators obtained access to Wells’s phone, they discovered something unusual. “For Dr. Wells’ phone the earliest message is from November 12, 2015,” then-Flint special prosecutor Todd Flood wrote in a subpoena petition obtained by The Intercept. During the key period that investigators were probing, no messages were found. In 2018, a judge ruled that Wells would have to stand trial for involuntary manslaughter, along with obstruction of justice, over her role in the water crisis. (Those charges were dropped by current Attorney General Dana Nessel in 2019; in January 2021, Nessel’s Flint water prosecutors recharged Wells with involuntary manslaughter, misconduct in office, and neglect of duty.)Join Our NewsletterOriginal reporting. Fearless journalism. Delivered to you.I’m in

Other searches turned up similar results. The phone of Tim Becker, MDHHS’s chief deputy director, had no messages on it prior to April 14, 2016, two months before he left his role with MDHHS. Becker testified to having first asked questions about Flint’s Legionella outbreak in January 2015.

Patricia McKane, an epidemiologist with MDHHS who testified that she was pressured to lie by Wells about elevated blood-lead levels in Flint’s children, was found to have only had four text messages on her phone from 2015 and seven total messages. (Wells denied pressuring her to lie.) Fellow MDHHS epidemiologist Sarah Lyon-Callo, director of the state Bureau of Epidemiology and Population Health, who Wells copied in an email responding to accusations by a Wayne State University professor that she was trying to conceal the link between the Flint River switch and the Legionella outbreak, had no messages prior to June 2016. 

“Again, for some strange reason the earliest text message in time on her device begins June 20, 2016,” Flood wrote. Wesley Priem, manager of the MDHHS’s Lead and Healthy Homes program, who emailed colleagues erroneously challenging the findings of high blood-lead levels in Flint children discovered by Flint pediatrician Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha, had just one text message found on his state-issued phone from January 22, 2016.

The lack of phone messages from top MDHHS officials was a major red flag to investigators and an obvious impediment to those investigating who knew what and when. Despite department epidemiologists hypothesizing in October 2014 that the source of Flint’s deadly Legionnaires’ disease outbreak was the switch to the Flint River six months earlier, Flint residents weren’t informed of the deadly outbreak until 16 months later, when Snyder announced it in January 2016. PBS found a 43 percent increase in pneumonia deaths in Flint during the 18 months the city received drinking water from the Flint River — and also found that scientists believed that some of those 115 pneumonia deaths could be attributed to Legionnaires’ disease, which has similar symptoms to pneumonia and is often misdiagnosed as such.

Gladyes Williamson holds up a discolored jug of water and chants along with other protestors outside the Farmers Market downtown on April 25, 2015, which marks the one year anniversary of the City of Flint switching from using Detroit water to Flint River water. Flint residents of all ages gathered outside Flint City Hall, located on S. Saginaw Street, with signs, t-shirts, and megaphones before walking throughout many streets downtown to voice their concerns with the public. (Sam Owens/The Flint Journal-MLive.com via AP)

A protestor holds up a discolored jug of water outside a farmers market on April 25, 2015, which marked the one-year anniversary of the city of Flint switching from using Detroit water to Flint River water.

Photo: Sam Owens/The Flint Journal-MLive.com via AP

Investigators also discovered that phone data belonging to a key official close to Snyder was completely erased shortly before the Flint criminal investigation was launched.

Sara Wurfel, Snyder’s press secretary during the water crisis in 2014 through fall 2015, told Flood her phone was “wiped” when she left her job at the end of November 2015, after a civil suit was filed against the Snyder administration and a month before the launch of the Flint water criminal investigation. 

“Do you have text messages from 2015 currently [on your phone]?” Flood asked Wurfel in a confidential interview obtained by The Intercept. 

“No. So when I left the governor’s office, everything got wiped. I mean, when — I turned in my phone, it got wiped,” Wurfel told Flood. Wurfel, who kept her state cellphone number when she left her government job, said she didn’t recall if she had been asked to hand in her phone at any other time in 2015 prior to leaving her job in November. She also said she didn’t think that she had used iCloud to back up her phone data.

When asked for comment by The Intercept, Wurfel said, “Not sure what you’re referring to — please share if there’s a specific document, item, etc.” When provided with what she told the special prosecutor regarding her phone being wiped when she left her state role, she did not reply. 

“That is not standard,” a former Michigan Department of Technology, Management and Budget, or DTMB, official who worked for the state during this period and was involved with state data preservation told The Intercept about Wurfel’s phone being wiped upon leaving her role as Snyder’s press secretary. “There are retention schedules that every agency, including the governor’s office, is supposed to adhere to,” said the ex-official, adding that for the governor’s office, data is supposed to be retained for at least a year after an official leaves. But with potential litigation looming, “it should’ve been held indefinitely,” the official concluded. The source spoke on the condition of anonymity for fear of professional retaliation.“We’ve said all along that we believe that there was a cover-up and that the governor knew more information than he was putting out publicly.”

Lonnie Scott, executive director of the progressive organization Progress Michigan, told The Intercept “it’s not entirely surprising to hear” that top officials’ phones lacked data or were wiped completely. Scott had seen something similar happen in 2014, when his organization had submitted Freedom of Information Act, or FOIA, requests for state health Director Jim Haveman’s communications with Snyder’s chief of staff. After Haveman resigned from his job in October 2014, Progress Michigan discovered that his emails were deleted upon his resignation from his role. 

“We’ve said all along that we believe that there was a cover-up and that the governor knew more information than he was putting out publicly,” Scott said. Soon after Snyder’s October 2015 announcement about Flint’s toxic water, the heat intensified around the governor as calls for a federal investigation into the water crisis mounted along with heightened media attention. As the water crisis intensified and a criminal investigation was launched, criminal prosecutors and investigators would discover that messages were lacking from before October 2015 on phones belonging to top MDHHS officials.

The question of what Snyder knew and when, and what role he and his administration played in stymying investigations into the cause and cover-up of the outbreak, is of increasing importance as the former governor now faces trial in connection with his handling of Flint’s water crisis.

Wells’s lawyer did not respond to The Intercept’s request for comment. Neither did Becker, McKane, Lyon-Callo, or Priem. A spokesperson for Snyder declined to comment. 

On the lack of phone messages from top MDHHS officials, a department spokesperson told The Intercept via email, “The department does not care to comment other than to say that the department always cooperates with the Attorney General’s office in providing anything that office has asked for during its Flint water investigation.” 

Snyder’s legal team declined to comment.

THE INFORMATION concerning the missing data was detailed by the investigators in a petition for the issuance of a subpoena obtained by The Intercept. Flint special prosecutor Flood, who was appointed by then-Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette in 2016 to carry out the original Flint water investigation, sought to interview Jim Fick, a state information technology official with the DTMB. Though the petition was never filed, its contents are supported by the accounts of multiple sources familiar with the investigation as well as transcripts of interviews reviewed by The Intercept. Flood did not respond to The Intercept’s request for comment. In the subpoena petition, Flood referenced the top MDHHS officials from whom he had recently obtained phone data; 4 out of their 5 phones had “no records prior to October 2015.”

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The draft of a subpoena for prosecutors to interview Jim Fick, a state of Michigan IT official.

Image: Obtained by The Intercept

Flood also described an email that he and his criminal team received in May 2016 from Jim Henry, a supervisor with the Genesee County Health Department, who knew Fick through their children’s hockey team. In Henry’s email, obtained by The Intercept, he wrote: “Jim [Fick] explained to me that several MDEQ employee phones were returned to his office ‘wiped clean’ about the same time of George’s email below.” 

Henry was referring to George Krisztian, who served as MDEQ’s lab director involved with Flint’s water lead- and copper-testing data — data that Flint water investigators found MDEQ officials had “conspired” to alter in order to bury the true lead levels that showed Flint’s water was toxic. 

Former Gov. Rick Snyder stays silent as barrage of media asks questions after his video arraignment on charges related to the Flint water crisis, Thursday, Jan. 14, 2021 outside the Genesee County Jail in downtown Flint, Mich. (Cody Scanlan/The Flint Journal via AP)

Former Gov. Rick Snyder stays silent as members of the media ask questions after his video arraignment on charges related to the Flint water crisis on Jan. 14, 2021, outside the Genesee County jail in downtown Flint, Mich.

Photo: Cody Scanlan/The Flint Journal via AP

Soon after Snyder’s October 8, 2015, press conference announcing that Flint’s water was toxic, Krisztian was named the MDEQ’s Flint action plan coordinator. Weeks later, on October 19, 2015, MDEQ Director Dan Wyant admitted that the state environmental department had erred when it failed to treat Flint’s water with corrosion-control chemicals that prevent lead from leaching off old distribution pipes into the city’s water supply. One day after MDEQ’s public mea culpa, Krisztian sent an email to colleagues announcing that he had a new cellphone and number. 

Henry told prosecutors that Fick explained “it was odd to have [received] several working phones that were ‘wiped clean’ and no information could be retrieved. The timing of [this] was soon after the governor’s press conference on the 8th.” It was at that press conference that Snyder had first spoken publicly of the alarming lead levels. (The Intercept does not know which MDEQ officials, including Krisztian, allegedly used these phones or whether they are connected in any way with the senior MDHHS officials’ phones described by Flood as missing any data prior to October 2015.)

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An email Genesee County health official Jim Henry sent to the Flint criminal team tipping them off to what state IT official Jim Fick allegedly told him about MDEQ officials’ phones being delivered “wiped clean” to IT.

Image: Obtained by The Intercept

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George Krisztian emails colleagues on October 20, 2015, informing them he has a new cellphone and new number.

Image: Obtained by The Intercept

Krisztian told The Intercept in an email that he got a new phone shortly after Snyder’s press conference because of “my new assignment as the Flint Action Plan Coordinator.”

“I needed a phone that was dedicated to that job so that the Lab could get their phone back and be used by the acting lab director,” he said. “Many parties had that phone number as a contact for the lab, and if I recall correctly that number was also used for emergency response efforts. As such, it was only logical that I be issued a new phone and number. In addition, the old phone was a flip phone that had very limited functionality and a smartphone was much better suited to handle the needs of the Flint assignment.”

Krisztian aside, Flood considered whether there was a connection between the “wiped clean” phones and the phones he described with missing data, writing, “The contents of the imaged data [from MDHHS officials’ phones] have given credence to the possibility that was articulated from James Fick to James Henry may have occurred.”

Flood’s team was never formally able to interview the information technology official under oath, The Intercept learned; the subpoena petition moved up the attorney general’s leadership chain, but the “brakes kind of got pumped” and efforts to subpoena Fick halted, a source familiar with the chain of events told The Intercept. Instead, an investigator spoke with Fick informally, the results of which are unknown.

Fick did not respond to multiple requests for comment from The Intercept regarding Henry’s tip to investigators. Henry, too, did not respond.

At least one high-level MDEQ official was asked to hand in his state-issued phone in the same October 2015 period that Fick allegedly received several “wiped clean” phones, documents obtained by The Intercept reveal.

In a confidential 2016 interview, Jim Sygo, then-MDEQ deputy director, told Flood that sometime in October 2015 he was asked to give his phone to Mary Beth Thelen, the administrative assistant to MDEQ Director Wyant, documents obtained by The Intercept show.

“I don’t know where they took it or what they did with it,” Sygo told Flood in a confidential interview, adding that he believed they were taking his phone to have it imaged. When Flood asked him if he received his phone back after handing it in, Sygo answered no. He did not specify whether he was given a new phone.“I don’t know where they took it or what they did with it.”

Sygo, who died in 2018 — eight months after he testified in the pretrial of Wells, Michigan’s chief medical executive — was an MDEQ official who investigators questioned to find out what and when Wyant, and Snyder, knew about Flint’s deadly waterborne Legionnaires’ disease outbreak. 

When approached about the allegedly “wiped clean” phones delivered to Fick, a DTMB spokesperson told The Intercept via email: “Each agency has a designated smart device coordinator who is responsible for ensuring their agency devices follow all IT security policies, guidelines, procedures, practices and recommendations. When an employee departs state service, their device should be returned to the coordinator, who then ensures the phone is properly handled. State agencies and their smart device coordinators are responsible for determining when to securely wipe the device. DTMB provides technical guidance on how to securely wipe the devices. Questions about agency actions with mobile devices need to be addressed by the specific agency.”

A spokesperson for MDEQ, which has rebranded itself the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy, pointed to the previous Snyder administration.

“The current administration [of Gov. Gretchen Whitmer] is neither in a position to confirm the actions of, nor speculate on the motives of, employees and former employees that occurred six years ago,” they said. The spokesperson declined further comment, citing the ongoing Flint criminal investigation.

Beyond the questions arising from the phone data, The Intercept uncovered more details behind multiple internal investigations that Snyder initiated into the Flint water crisis. One of the investigations — led by the Michigan State Police to investigate MDEQ’s culpability for the water crisis — was launched on the same day that Schuette announced Flood as the Flint criminal investigation’s special counsel in January 2016.

The other Snyder-launched investigation was led by the state auditor general and inspector general investigating MDHHS’s role in the water crisis. In a sharply worded May 25, 2016, letter Schuette sent to Snyder, the attorney general ridiculed the investigations, arguing that they “have compromised the ongoing criminal investigation” and “may effectively be an obstruction of justice.” After Schuette’s letter demanding that Snyder cease his own Flint investigations, the governor announced a halt to them.

Attorney Randall Levine, right, walks arm-in-arm with Richard Baird, former transformation manager and senior adviser to former Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder, after a video arraignment on charges related to the Flint water crisis, Thursday, Jan. 14, 2021 at the Genesee County Jail in downtown Flint, Mich. Baird faces four felony counts, including perjury, official misconduct in office, obstruction of justice and extortion. (Jake May/The Flint Journal via AP)

Attorney Randall Levine, right, walks arm in arm with Richard Baird, who served as a senior adviser to former Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder, after a video arraignment on charges related to the Flint water crisis on Jan. 14, 2021, at the Genesee County jail in downtown Flint, Mich.

Photo: Jake May/The Flint Journal via AP

Snyder’s top adviser and self-described “fixer,” Richard Baird, was the point person for Snyder who engineered the state police and auditor general/inspector general investigations, multiple sources familiar with the criminal investigation told The Intercept. With this knowledge in mind, Schuette copied Baird on the letter to the governor, along with Snyder’s private attorney, chief legal counsel, and chief of staff.

In January, Baird was charged with obstruction of justice, misconduct in office, perjury, and extortion for his role in the Flint water crisis.

The attorney representing Baird did not respond to The Intercept’s request for comment.

The state police investigation’s report, obtained by The Intercept, minimized MDEQ’s culpability in the water crisis. In the report, Michigan State Police Lt. Lisa Rish wrote that MDEQ employees she interviewed “denied any wrongdoing” and claimed that they had followed federal drinking water regulations while making decisions related to Flint’s water. The Michigan State Police interviewed 11 MDEQ officials, four of whom ended up being charged by Schuette as part of the Flint water criminal investigation. 

In one example, Rish wrote that MDEQ supervisor Stephen Busch merely made a “misstatement” when he falsely told concerned Environmental Protection Agency officials that Flint had an “optimized corrosion control program” in February 2015. As the Detroit Free Press reported, Flint “disastrously” had no corrosion control program in place at all, the lack of which resulted in lead leaching off of the city’s older pipes into its drinking water.

Schuette did not respond to The Intercept’s request for comment, nor did Rish or the Michigan State Police. 

Snyder’s internal investigations weren’t the only red flags investigators discovered surrounding the governor and Baird.

The Intercept learned that departments, including MDEQ and MDHHS, were tasked with creating timelines for their respective actions during the water crisis. But like many other things inside the Snyder administration during the crisis, the timelines were routed through Baird, who was well known in state government as Snyder’s right-hand man and close friend dating back to when Baird gave the governor his first job out of college.

Baird’s power as the governor’s point man even drew jokes about him being a “shadow governor.”

Upon reviewing the timelines, Flood’s investigators determined that the state departments had omitted important facts and events, according to documents reviewed by The Intercept; more so, they learned that the timelines were routed through Baird. Documents related to Flood’s investigation include allegations by prosecutors that Baird falsified the timelines in order to provide state officials with an official story to tell if and when they were questioned about the water crisis.

More than just allegedly false information, the timelines seemed to be missing important events linked to the water crisis. “It appears that MDEQ has missed a few items,” Henry, the Genesee County Health Department supervisor who sent the tip about the “wiped clean” phones to investigators, wrote in a December 3, 2015, email to colleagues that attached the Flint water timeline MDEQ put together. 

“I doubt they want our help filling in the blanks,” Henry wrote.

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An email Genesee County Health Department official Jim Henry sent to colleagues inferring that the state environmental department’s timeline of its role in the Flint water crisis selectively left out important details.

Image: Obtained by The Intercept

IN 2013, BAIRD and other Snyder officials used their private emails to communicate about a secret, for-profit school model the Snyder administration planned on launching, ominously called “Skunk Works.”

The move was par for the course for Baird, according to the ex-DTMB official, who alleged that the governor’s right-hand man once chided them for sending an email about Flint to his official Michigan government email.

“Don’t ever email me there, always email me on my Hotmail account,” Baird allegedly told the ex-DTMB official on a call soon after the official emailed his government email address, the former official alleged to The Intercept. “He never replied to the email; I think he was mad that I mentioned Flint in an email.”

The alleged command by Baird was in sync with his overall aversion to leaving an official paper trail. 

“Trust me amigo. Emails are fodder for our enemies’ cannons,” Baird wrote to ex-Flint emergency manager Darnell Earley in a March 13, 2015, text message obtained by The Intercept. “Suggest you default to the phone call or gotta minute? drop by approach…I learned this the hard way!” 

A week later, Baird again texted Earley, who at that point had moved on from his role as Flint’s emergency manager to become emergency manager for Detroit public schools.

“Sent u a note to the other email,” Baird wrote, presumably referring to Earley’s nonstate government email. Earley responded, “on it.” Earley didn’t respond to The Intercept’s request about whether Baird was emailing state business to his personal email about the Flint water crisis or any other issues.

Baird and other officials involved in the Snyder administration’s use of private emails continued into the Flint water crisis. In December 2015, then-Snyder chief of staff Jarrod Agen scolded Baird and Meegan Holland, Snyder’s communications director at the time, for using their private emails to discuss Flint water matters. In fact, Snyder himself used private email to discuss Flint water matters, his then-spokesperson acknowledged at the same time the governor testified in front of Congress in 2016.

The Intercept learned of other internal Snyder administration turmoil during the water crisis among MDHHS officials who stewed over what they felt was the administration prioritizing its own political survival over the public health crisis in Flint.

In an April 2, 2016, text message obtained by The Intercept, MDHHS epidemiologist Tim Bolen messaged Jim Collins, his boss and the director of MDHHS’s Division of Communicable Disease. In the message, Bolen condemned Becker, the MDHHS chief deputy director, and Sue Moran, deputy director of the Population Health Administration.

“Morons all, they will all sink with their boss — and they will all deserve it,” Bolen wrote, seemingly referring to Nick Lyon, the MDHHS director. Soon after, Bolen texted Collins again: “No kidding send that last message ‘upstairs’ — they have no clue how this makes us look. Really tired of the games they’re playing — they appear to be more interested in ‘political health’ than public health.”

Collins responded: “Hang in there Tim. There are still good folks. Despite the crap.” Neither Bolen nor Collins responded to The Intercept’s request for comment.

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Text messages between MDHHS epidemiologist Tim Bolen and his boss Jim Collins, director of MDHHS’s Communicable Disease Division, criticize the Snyder administration’s prioritization of politics over public health during the Flint water crisis.

Image: Obtained by The Intercept

AS FLINT PROSECUTORS and investigators discovered the lack of phone messages, and Snyder’s questionable internal investigations, they were also waging a three-year, behind-the-scenes legal battle with Snyder and his attorneys. On June 10, 2016, Snyder was served with an investigative subpoena, documents obtained by The Intercept show. The subpoena sought documents and communications that the governor and his top officials had about Flint’s water dating back to when the governor entered office in 2011 through June 2016. 

Soon after, Snyder’s lawyer responded with 29 objections, documents obtained by The Intercept show, with Snyder’s lawyer pointing to the heavily redacted 117,000 pages of “responsive documents” that Snyder had already made public.

A few months later, in the fall of 2016, Snyder — with no court order in place that compelled him to provide the documents criminal investigators sought — continued to withhold the majority of documents and communications that he was subpoenaed for months earlier, according to multiple sources familiar with the criminal investigation and documents obtained by The Intercept. 

With Snyder and his attorneys stonewalling, special prosecutor Flood pushed to execute a search warrant on the governor’s office, multiple sources familiar with the criminal investigation told The Intercept. But Schuette — a Republican who would go on to announce a run for governor to succeed the term-limited Snyder in 2017 — denied the request.

FILE - In this June 14, 2017 file photo, Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette fields questions from reporters in Flint, Mich., after announcing charges against five water officials with manslaughter related to their alleged failure to act during the Flint water crisis. In 2016, Schuette promised to investigate the Flint water scandal “without fear or favor” and pledged that state regulators would be locked up for fudging data and misleading the public about lead in the poor city’s pipes. Yet three years later, no one is behind bars. (Jake May/The Flint Journal-MLive.com via AP, File)

Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette fields questions from reporters in Flint, Mich., after announcing charges against five water officials for manslaughter related to their alleged failure to act during the Flint water crisis on June 14, 2017.

Photo: Jake May/The Flint Journal-MLive.com via AP

“Flood’s hands were tied; Schuette said you cannot execute a search warrant on the governor,” a source familiar with the matter told The Intercept, adding that Schuette said the criminal team had to route all requests for documents through Snyder’s lawyer. 

“They weren’t giving things, they weren’t honoring subpoenas,” the source told The Intercept. Moreover, the documents that Snyder, and state departments under him, were providing to investigators were missing crucial metadata, multiple sources told The Intercept, including the full length and sequence of email chains, which state officials were copied and blind copied on emails, and who the emails might have been forwarded to. 

It’s the “document’s DNA,” a source told The Intercept. Essentially, Snyder was sending “screenshots of emails” to prosecutors. 

Flood moved to compel Snyder to comply with the original subpoena for documents in the fall of 2016, documents obtained by The Intercept show. Soon after, Flood withdrew the motion based on a “stipulated agreement” with the governor’s attorney; the agreement mandated that Snyder would begin producing the documents he was subpoenaed months earlier for on October 14, 2016. From there, the agreement said, the governor would continue producing documents “on a rolling basis approximately every two weeks from the date of its first production.” 

But still with no court order in place to force the governor to comply, Snyder and his attorneys didn’t honor the agreement, multiple sources told The Intercept, continuing to slow-walk the criminal investigation.  

Around the same time in October 2016, criminal prosecutors were tipped off that top officials in Snyder’s administration, including Baird, had approached other state officials before their interviews with criminal prosecutors, according to documents obtained by The Intercept and sources familiar with the matter.

“It’s come to my attention as recent as yesterday that some of the witnesses that we have been bringing in have been contacted by government or former government employees to talk about testimony that they may or may not give,” Flood told MDHHS official Jay Fiedler in a confidential interview in October 2016 obtained by The Intercept. (Fiedler responded that no one had approached him to influence his testimony.)

While interviewing Wurfel, Snyder’s press secretary, Flood also noted attempts by state officials to influence the testimony of other Snyder administration officials.

“There have been times where people have been contacted, after testimony that have sat in investigative subpoenas before, to talk about what they testified to,” Flood told Wurfel. “There have been — as disclosures have shown, people have been talked to in cases where witnesses have been talked to about what they should say in an investigative subpoena. … If someone were to do that, I would consider it tampering with evidence and an obstruction, and I would charge anybody that would do that to you.”

In the January 2021 indictment against Baird for perjury, extortion, misconduct in office, and obstruction of justice, prosecutors referenced Baird’s attempt “to influence/interfere with ongoing legal proceedings arising from the Flint water crisis.”

Prosecutors’ behind-the-scenes legal battle with the governor continued into 2017. As a result, Flood filed a second motion to compel Snyder to comply with the original 2016 subpoena. In a “Brief in Support of The People of The State of Michigan’s Second Motion to Compel Governor Rick Snyder’s Compliance With Investigative Subpoena,” obtained by The Intercept, Flood wrote that the governor was “now simply refusing to comply with significant requirements of the Subpoena.” 

Documents that Snyder had provided prosecutors were “patently noncompliant with the requirements of the subpoena,” Flood wrote, adding that the governor’s lawyer had “arbitrarily decided not to search for” large numbers of documents prosecutors had asked for. He argued that Snyder had “custody or effective control over massive amounts of information that is relevant to an ongoing investigation.” 

Some of the relevant documents that Snyder was withholding, Flood wrote, included “MDEQ Governor Briefings, Governor daily briefings, Executive Staff meetings, and Flint Water Crisis-related conference calls, updates, and reports” that were all “in the custody or effective control of the Governor.”

Snyder and his lawyers were particularly obstinate about not providing prosecutors with the governor’s daily briefings from the summer and fall of 2014, multiple sources familiar with the criminal investigation told The Intercept. Considering that Snyder’s health and environmental departments were already communicating about Flint’s Legionella outbreak in October 2014, access to the governor’s daily briefings would allow investigators to see if Snyder had received notice of the deadly outbreak during this time — nearly a year and a half earlier than the January 2016 period Snyder testified to Congress that he became aware.RelatedHow a Flurry of Suspicious Phone Calls Set Investigators on Rick Snyder’s Trail

As The Intercept previously reported, investigators found potential evidence that Snyder was notified much earlier: Notes from an October 22, 2014, MDEQ managers meeting included the blurb “Governor’s Briefings” with a corresponding mention of the Legionella outbreak in Flint. The memo, which came two weeks before Snyder’s reelection, seemed like a smoking gun — written notice to the governor 16 months earlier than he claimed to have learned about the outbreak. As The Intercept also reported, investigators had other reasons to believe that the governor knew about Legionnaires’ disease in Flint as early as October 2014 after finding a suspicious, two-day blitz of phone calls between Snyder, his chief of staff, and the MDHHS’s director in October 2014, calls that investigators speculated amounted to the trio working to prevent news of the outbreak from going public. 

But prosecutors were not able to obtain Snyder’s actual briefings from that time; instead, the governor provided investigators with daily briefings from less pertinent periods that were also heavily redacted, a source familiar with the matter told The Intercept. One such briefing provided to investigators, obtained by The Intercept, was from April 2013, a year before the Flint River switch, with most of the briefings unrelated to the topic of Flint’s water and heavily redacted.

Snyder “picked the most sanitized ones and redacted everything on every page almost,” the source said. 

Special Prosecutor Todd Flood looks over as former Flint Emergency Manager Gerald Ambrose works with his attorney in Genesee District Court, in Flint, Mich., on Thursday, Jan. 25, 2018, to waive the preliminary examination in the prosecution against him related to the Flint water crisis. (Jake May /The Flint Journal-MLive.com via AP)

Special prosecutor Todd Flood, left, looks over as former Flint emergency manager Gerald Ambrose works with his attorney in the Genesee District Court in Flint, Mich., on Jan. 25, 2018.

Photo: Jake May /The Flint Journal-MLive.com via AP

In Flood’s motion, he also made mention of “executive office cell phones that were not timely imaged or forensically preserved” — highlighted by Lt. Gov. Brian Calley, whose cellphone wasn’t forensically preserved until January of 2017, according to Flood.

Calley didn’t respond to The Intercept’s request for comment.

Flood also explained that he had relied on the “good-faith representations” from the governor’s attorney that Snyder’s subpoena response would be completed by “January or February of 2017” but that “it became clear by May of 2017 that the Governor had no intention of complying with significant requirements of the subpoena.”

On top of that, the documents that Snyder had given to prosecutors were fraught with technical issues, including “duplication issues, blank/withheld documents, missing custodians, unidentified custodians, and inconsistent and questionable redactions,” Flood wrote.

Furthermore, Flood stated that the governor’s attorney hadn’t produced any privilege logs, lists lawyers provide prosecutors with for each document they are withholding and the justification for doing so. But the special prosecutor had not received “a single privilege log reflecting thousands of otherwise responsive documents being withheld by the Governor,” he wrote in the motion.

By the end of 2018 — two years after Snyder was originally subpoenaed for Flint water documents — Flood petitioned a judge to allow any future motions he would file to compel the governor to be made public. Snyder’s lawyers objected, lobbying to keep review of all contested documents confidential, known in law as “in-camera review.”

In the motion, Flood revealed that Snyder’s lawyer had stated that he was now considering “whether the Governor would assert his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination as a basis in refusing to fully respond to the subpoena.”

Among other things, Flood wrote, he had evidence of “data stores and devices from key executive officials under the effective or actual control of the Governor that were not searched; relevant documents and data that were not preserved despite having notice of the OSC’s criminal investigation; and missing material information that was required to be produced.”

It would be “a travesty of justice” if Snyder were able to continue to not cooperate with the subpoena, Flood concluded.

Soon after the 2019 discovery of 23 boxes in the basement of a state building containing Flint water documents, hard drives, and cellphones, Nessel, the attorney general, fired Flood as special prosecutor in April 2019. Solicitor General Fadwa Hammoud, who was appointed by Nessel to replace Flood as the top Flint water prosecutor, claimed that under Flood, legal discovery “was not fully and properly pursued from the onset of this investigation.”

Along with Flood, Nessel fired Andy Arena, the investigation’s chief investigator, and the majority of the criminal team responsible for charging 15 state and city officials with crimes over the Flint water crisis over a three-year investigation. In June 2019, prosecutors with Nessel’s revamped Flint water investigation issued search warrants to seize the cellphone Snyder had used while in office, along with other mobile devices belonging to him. With the seizure of Snyder’s devices, prosecutors also seized devices connected to dozens of members of his administration. Soon after, prosecutors dropped the remaining charges against eight state and city officials — including MDHHS Director Lyon, Michigan’s Chief Medical Executive Wells, and two of Snyder’s Flint emergency managers — citing flaws in the original three-year investigation and that “all evidence was not pursued.” 

A year and a half later, in January 2021, Nessel’s prosecutors charged Snyder with two counts of willful neglect of duty, a misdemeanor charge, for “willfully neglecting his mandatory legal duties under the Michigan constitution and the emergency management act, thereby failing to protect the health and safety of Flint’s residents.”

Eight other state and city officials — including Baird, Snyder chief of staff Agen, and two ex-Flint emergency managers appointed by Snyder — were faced with a slew of felony and misdemeanor charges related to the water crisis.

In March, a judge granted Snyder’s lawyers a several-month hold on the criminal case against him to allow Snyder’s defense time to go through what they claim to be 21 million documents.After two investigations spanning different attorneys general, no state of Michigan or city of Flint official has faced a jury or been convicted.

In April, the Flint water crisis entered its seventh year. After two investigations spanning different attorneys general, no state of Michigan or city of Flint official has faced a jury or been convicted. Beyond the search for justice, residents and activists on the ground have passionately challenged claims, often reported by the national media, that their water is safe to drink, telling The Intercept that residents are still experiencing rashes and receiving often odorous and discolored water.

“Since 2014, Flint residents have been posting photos and videos of rashes, discolored water, health questions, and concerns about high water bills,” Melissa Mays, a Flint resident and activist, told The Intercept. “For seven years we have been consistently dismissed and ignored. We are halfway through 2021, and we are still getting our water through corroded pipes and fixtures, but somehow those in charge have decided to tell the world everything is fine, but common sense tells us that our water still flowing through damaged and contaminated infrastructure means that our water is still not fixed.”

Peter Hammer, a Wayne State University law professor who produced a definitive report on the Flint water crisis that identified structural racism as its root cause, expressed serious concerns about Snyder’s evasion of prosecutors’ requests for years, as well as wiped phones belonging to state officials.

“If true, this is a disturbing pattern that goes far beyond the problems of having inadequate state laws requiring disclosure of public records,” Hammer told The Intercept. “All citizens have an obligation to comply with criminal processes; this is substantially more true for public officials. There can be no accountability without transparency.”

Hammer added that if he had the details The Intercept is revealing at his disposal from the very beginning of his analysis of the water crisis, his conclusion would have “shifted towards intentional forms of misconduct and criminal behavior.”

On whether Snyder was involved in efforts to cover up state officials’ knowledge of the Flint water crisis, Hammer was blunt.

“If the actions reported here are accurate, it is impossible for me to believe that the governor was not aware of the efforts to hide and destroy damaging information.”

CONTACT THE AUTHOR:

Jordan Chariton

Jordan CharitonJordanChariton@​protonmail.com@JordanChariton

Jenn Dize

Jenn DizeJennElizabeth@​protonmail.com@JennElizabethJ

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