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Monday, Sep 01st

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Reports Expose Extreme Pressure Groups Masquerading as Think Tanks

spnTwelve new reports released today expose the State Policy Network (SPN), an $83 million web of right-wing "think tanks" in every state across the country. Although SPN's member organizations claim to be nonpartisan and independent, an in-depth investigation reveals that SPN and its state affiliates are major drivers of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC)-backed corporate agenda in state houses nationwide, with deep ties to the Koch brothers and the national right-wing network of funders.

The reports show how these groups masquerade as "think tanks," and describe how some of them may be skirting tax laws while really orchestrating extensive lobbying and political operations to peddle their legislative agenda to state legislators, all while reporting little or no lobbying activities.

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Former FBI agent sentenced to three years in prison for Associated Press leak

FBIA former FBI explosives expert was sentenced on Thursday to more than three years in prison for possessing and disclosing secret information, which he has said included intelligence he gave to the Associated Press for a story about a US operation in Yemen in 2012.

The story on Yemen led to a federal leaks investigation and the seizure of AP phone records in the government's search for the information's source.

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60 Minutes Benghazi interview update: CBS conducting ‘journalistic review

Lara LoganWhen “60 Minutes” apologized for featuring in its report on Benghazi a security contractor whose story turned out to be a lie, it said it had been “misled.” But a close examination of the controversial piece by McClatchy shows that there are other problems with the report, whose broadcast renewed debate about one of the most contentious events in recent U.S. diplomatic history.

In an email Wednesday, CBS declined to respond to questions about the accuracy and origin of some of the other aspects of the report. But it said that it was undertaking “a journalistic review that is ongoing” – the network’s first acknowledgement that concerns about the report may go deeper than just the discredited interview with security supervisor Dylan Davies.

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The Military-Industrial Pundits: Conflicts of Interest Exposed for TV Guests Who Urged Syrian War

Stephen HadleyNew research shows many so-called experts who appeared on television making the case for U.S. strikes on Syria had undisclosed ties to military contractors. A new report by the Public Accountability Initiative identifies 22 commentators with industry ties. W

hile they appeared on television or were quoted as experts 111 times, their links to military firms were disclosed only 13 of those times. The report focuses largely on Stephen Hadley, who served as national security adviser to President George W. Bush.

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AP CEO: Press freedom v. security a 'false choice'

Gary PruittGovernments that try to force citizens to decide between a free press and national security create a "false choice" that weakens democracy, and journalists must fight increasing government overreach that has had a chilling effect on efforts to hold leaders accountable, the president and CEO of The Associated Press said Saturday.

Gary Pruitt told the 69th General Assembly of the Inter American Press Association that the U.S. Justice Department's secret seizure of records of thousands of telephone calls to and from AP reporters in 2012 is one of the most blatant violations of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution the 167-year-old news cooperative has ever encountered.

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SecureDrop: Aaron Swartz's whistleblower platform simplified, relaunched

Aaron SwartzTo simplify the process of allowing sources to anonymously leak documents to journalists, the Freedom of the Press Foundation has taken over the late Aaron Swatrz's whistleblower project.

Earlier this year, The New Yorker launched StrongBox, a system based on DeadDrop, which was written by Aaron Swartz, an internet activist who committed suicide while facing a possible prison sentence for downloading academic journals from JSTOR through the computer network at MIT.

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Appeals court turns aside reporter's privilege plea, 13-1

James RisenA federal appeals court turned aside a major showdown over reporter's privilege Tuesday, refusing to have the court's full bench re-hear a case that resulted in a July ruling that a New York Times reporter had no right to decline to testify at the criminal leak trial of his alleged source.

No judge beyond the one who dissented from the July decision called for the case to be reheard en banc, according to an order released by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit (and posted here). The vote was 13-1 against the petition filed by attorneys for Times reporter James Risen, whose testimony the government sought in the case against former CIA officer Jeffrey Sterling.

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