Connect With Us

“At a time when the need for independent journalism and for media outlets unaffiliated with and untainted by the government and corporate sponsors is greater than ever, Project Censored has created a context for reporting the complete truths in all matters that matter. . . . It is therefore left to us to find sources for information we can trust. . . . It is in this task that we are fortunate to have an ally like Project Cen-sored.” —Dahr Jamail
“In another home run for Project Censored, Censored 2013 shows how the American public has been bamboozled, snookered, and dumbed down by the corporate media. It is chock-full of ‘ah-ha’ moments where we understand just how we’ve been fleeced by banksters, stripped of our civil liberties, and blindly led down a path of never-ending war.” –Medea Benjamin, author of Drone Warfare, cofounder of Global Exchange and CODEPINK.
“One of the most significant media research projects in the country.” —I. F. Stone
“Project Censored shines a spotlight on news that an informed public must have . . . a vital contribution to our democratic process.” —Rhoda H. Karpatkin, president, Consumer’s Union
“Project Censored continues to be an invaluable resource in exposing and highlighting shocking stories that are routinely minimized or ignored by the corporate media. The vital nature of this work is underscored by this year’s NSA leaks. The world needs more brave whistle blowers and independent journalists in the service of reclaiming democracy and challenging the abuse of power. Project Censored stands out for its commitment to such work.” —Deepa Kumar, author of Islamophobia and the Politics of Empire and associate professor of Media Studies and Middle Eastern Studies at Rutgers University
“Activist groups like Project Censored . . . are helping to build the media democracy movement. We have to challenge the powers that be and rebuild media from the bottom up.” —Amy Goodman
“Hot news, cold truths, utterly uncensored.” —Greg Palast
“Most journalists in the United States believe the press here is free. That grand illusion only helps obscure the fact that, by and large, the US corporate press does not report what’s really going on, while tuning out, or laughing off, all those who try to do just that. Americans–now more than ever–need those outlets that do labor to report some truth. Project Censored is not just among the bravest, smartest, and most rigorous of those outlets, but the only one that’s wholly focused on those stories that the corporate press ignores, downplays, and/or distorts. This latest book is therefore a must read for anyone who cares about this country, its tottering economy, and–most important– what’s now left of its democracy.” –Mark Crispin Miller, author, professor of media ecology, New York University.
“[Censored] should be affixed to the bulletin boards in every newsroom in America. And, perhaps read aloud to a few publishers and television executives.” —Ralph Nader
“For ages, I’ve dreamed of a United States where Project Censored isn’t necessary, where these crucial stories and defining issues are on the front page of the New York Times, the cover of Time, and in heavy rotation on CNN. That world still doesn’t exist, but we always have Project Censored’s yearly book to pull together the most important things the corporate media ignored, missed, or botched.” –Russ Kick, author of You Are Being Lied To, Everything You Know Is Wrong, and the New York Times bestselling series The Graphic Canon.
“Censored 2014 is a clarion call for truth telling. Not only does this volume highlight fearless speech in fateful times, it connect the dots between the key issues we face, lauds our whistleblowers and amplifies their voices, and shines light in the dark places of our government that most need exposure.” –Daniel Ellsberg, The Pentagon Papers
“[Censored] offers devastating evidence of the dumbing-down of main-stream news in America. . . . Required reading for broadcasters, journalists, and well-informed citizens.” —Los Angeles Times
“The staff of Project Censored presents their annual compilation of the previous year’s 25 stories most overlooked by the mainstream media along with essays about censorship and its consequences. The stories include an 813% rise in hate and anti-government groups since 2008, human rights violations by the US Border Patrol, and Israeli doctors injecting Ethiopian immigrants with birth control without their consent. Other stories focus on the environment, like the effects of fracking and Monsantos GMO seeds. The writers point out misinformation and outright deception in the media, including CNN relegating factual accounts to the “opinion” section and the whitewashing of Margaret Thatcher’s career following her death in 2013, unlike Hugo Chavez, who was routinely disparaged in the coverage following his death. One essay deals with the proliferation of “Junk Food News,” in which “CNN and Fox News devoted more time to ‘Gangnam Style’ than the renewal of Uganda’s ‘Kill the Gays’ law.” Another explains common media manipulation tactics and outlines practices to becoming a more engaged, free-thinking news consumer or even citizen journalist. Rob Williams remarks on Hollywood’s “deep and abiding role as a popular propaganda provider” via Argo and Zero Dark Thirty. An expose on working conditions in Chinese Apple factories is brutal yet essential reading. This book is evident of Project Censored’s profoundly important work in educating readers on current events and the skills needed to be a critical thinker.” -Publisher’s Weekly said about Censored 2014 (Oct.)
“Project Censored is one of the organizations that we should listen to, to be assured that our newspapers and our broadcasting outlets are practicing thorough and ethical journalism.” —Walter Cronkite
“Project Censored interrogates the present in the same way that Oliver Stone and I tried to interrogate the past in our Untold History of the United States. It not only shines a penetrating light on the American Empire and all its deadly, destructive, and deceitful actions, it does so at a time when the Obama administration is mounting a fierce effort to silence truth-tellers and whistleblowers. Project Censored provides the kind of fearless and honest journalism we so desperately need in these dangerous times.” —Peter Kuznick, professor of history, American University, and coauthor, with Oliver Stone, of The Untold History of the United States
“Those who read and support Project Censored are in the know.” —Cynthia McKinney
Buy it, read it, act on it. Our future depends on the knowledge this col-lection of suppressed stories allows us.” —San Diego Review
“Project Censored brings to light some of the most important stories of the year that you never saw or heard about. This is your chance to find out what got buried.” –Diane Ravitch, author of The Death and Life of the Great American School System.

Still Going Postal

Last September, investigative reporter Peter Byrne published an e-book titled Going Postal: U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein’s husband sells post office to his friends cheap.

Project Censored highlighted Byrne’s investigative reports and interviewed him on The Project Censored Show on KPFA last fall, as did The East Bay Express in Oakland, CA.

Except for the Los Angeles Times and the Huffington Post, the major corporate media outlets ignored Byrne’s shocking revelations about how CBRE, a real estate firm chaired by the husband of the head of the Senate Intelligence Committee, is profiting from selling post offices at under fair market values to its own business partners.

But the Inspector General of the United States Postal Service is taking Byrne’s findings seriously; he has mounted an investigation of the CBRE contract. Recently, the Washington Post reported the Inspector General’s initial finding that the CBRE contract is so infected by conflicts of interest that it should be scrapped.

On March 14, the Daily Cal (the student newspaper at UC Berkeley) published an op-ed by Tom Samra, the Postal Service executive in charge of the CBRE contract. Presumably, the Postal Service public relations flacks are mounting a campaign to try and buff up the once-beloved agency’s now-tarnished public image. People all over the country are incensed by the sale of their local post offices to boutique and restaurant developers: And Berkeley, CA is the epicenter of the fight to roll back the privatization of the postal Commons.

It is remarkable that the Postal Service is sending Mr. Samra into the front lines to wage this public relations battle. As Byrne details in Going Postal, Mr. Samra and employees of the facilities division which he operates are beset by numerous ethical challenges.

Here is the chapter from Going Postal that reveals the ethical problems among the highest ranking Postal Service bureaucrats, with some excruciating details about how Mr. Samra and his colleagues have been using their federally-issued credit cards.  –Project Censored

 

Hunger Games at L’Enfant Plaza

Executives treat post office as personal bank

By Peter Byrne

In 1970, Congress transformed the Postal Service into a quasi-public corporation funded by  earned revenue and not by tax dollars. The service’s presidentially appointed governors are a mix of corporate executives and politicians. Each part-time board member is paid a salary of $30,000 for attending periodic meetings and voting on policy issues.

But there must be other benefits to the job, or so thought Governor Alan Kessler, who resigned from the board in 2011 after the post office’s inspector general reported that he had pressured postal officials to favor a real estate deal involving Douglas J. Band, a top advisor to former President Bill Clinton. Band had asked Kessler to intercede with Facilities Director Tom Samra to push forward a $12 million land purchase in Florida. Samra resisted Kessler’s bullying, and the deal was not consummated. The inspector general severely criticized Chief Counsel Mary Ann Gibbons for allowing Kessler to lobby officials when she knew that he was violating a federal statute prohibiting the use of public office for private gain.

Considerations of influence-peddling aside, one of the main jobs of the postal governors is to set the salaries and bonuses awarded to the 37 headquarters executives that command the ship of state at L’Enfant Plaza:

-Postmaster General Patrick R. Donahue banked $512,000 in 2012, while bemoaning the deficit and drastically cutting the workforce.

-Chief Information Officer Ellis Burgoyne was paid $508,688 during 2011, despite taking an extended leave of “over 90 days” in that year.

-For overseeing a multi-billion dollar budget bust, Chief Financial Officer Joseph Corbett only earned $330,000 last year.

-With benefits, the average postal worker makes $75,000.

Samra & Company

The head of the Facilities Division, Tom Samra, is responsible for managing the Postal Service’s $85 billion real estate portfolio. He supervises employees who in turn supervise the outside contractors who do much of the division’s work: negotiating real estate sales, leasing, maintenance, financial accounting, and new construction. Important management tasks have long been contracted out to the engineering firm, Parsons Corporation, and to commercial real estate firms, primarily Jones Lang LaSalle, Inc. and CBRE.

Public records obtained under FOIA reveal that Samra is extremely wealthy for a government bureaucrat who earns a $198,000 salary. His Public Financial Disclosure Report for 2011 values his personal worth at between $38 million and $98 million. Most of his wealth is invested in cash, corporate stocks, and Vanguard funds, although he also disclosed an interest in several real estate ventures, including a shopping center near his modest home in Vienna, Virginia.

But being a multimillionaire has not stopped Samra for billing the public for every bottle of water he drinks on his extensive travels. Between June 2006 and February 2013, he racked up expenses of $268,326 hopping from city to city signing off on real estate deals.

-In October 2007, Samra expensed a $7,788 round-trip airfare from Washington D.C. to Paris and charged $141 for a “dinner with Swiss executive.”

-In August 2008, the Postal Service paid $7,202 for Samra’s airfare to Zürich, Switzerland to attend a conference sponsored by the Institute of Philippine Real Estate      Consultants. The public picked up his meals, taxis rides, hotel stay, and the cost of a side trip to Bern, Switzerland, for reasons not explained in his expense report.

-In November 2007, he charged the government for traveling to Orlando, Florida to attend a bicycle race with his wife. The postal service paid $102 for Samra’s and his wife’s dinner the evening before he dinged stamp-buyers a mere $14.91 for snacking at the Kennedy Center.

-In December 2012, Samra charged $44.85 for “meeting to discuss CBRE contract.” But the FOIA copy of his expense report redacts the identity of the individual with whom he met. On several occasions, Samra charged the government for meetings with persons whose names were later redacted from his expense reports. The Chief Counsel for the Postal Service wrote that these names were censored because the public’s interest in knowing the identity of these individuals is “outweighed by the privacy interests of the individuals involved.”

While most of Samra’s expenses appear to be for legitimate government business (first class air travel to Paris and Switzerland notwithstanding), his subordinates treated their government-issued credit cards as free cash. Here are selected items from a spreadsheet, obtained under FOIA, that summarize expense reports submitted by Facilities Division executives during 2006-2010. (The expenses were primarily attributed to “meetings and conferences”):

-Eileen Vaughn works at L’Enfant Plaza as an Industry Engagement Specialist, salaried at $85,900. She (and, hopefully, her coworkers) ate up $810 at Au Bon Pain Café over three days. Then she (and they?) enjoyed a $1,055 meal at an exclusive restaurant, Legal Seafoods. She charged $412 for a lunch at Mary’s Café. And two days later, $1,249 at Famous Dave’s, a barbecue joint.

-Vaughn went on to charge $548 to Simple Truths LLC, an online purveyor of inspirational books and gifts, followed by $67 at Toys R Us for “supplies.”

-Hungry again, it was back to Famous Dave’s for barbecue worth $1,249, followed a few weeks later by another chow down at Dave’s for $1,386.

-A five-star restaurant in Atlanta, Georgia, called Proof of the Pudding catered a $2,656 meal, which Vaughn charged to the public.

-Lori A. Zarcone whipped out her Postal Service charge card at Paradise Ice Cream ($400), Circuit City ($266), Marriot Detroit Pontiac hotel ($2,040), and the ever popular, Famous Dave’s ($1,429).

-Marva Stewart likes the Hampton Inn Sugarloaf ($1,706), Adams Mark Hotels ($3,356), and Bear Rock Café ($388).

-Rose Latourne bought a stay at Marriot Hotels Gwinnett for $3,622.

-Angie Mitchell likes Honeybaked Ham ($216) and Bistro Boudin ($721).

-And the Golden Fleece Award for the New Millennium goes to Mitchell for charging the public $4,066 for “supplies” at GCCgiftcertificates.com.

CreditCardGate

The culture of credit card abuse has long infected the top floors at L’Enfant Plaza. In February, 2011, the inspector general reported that within a two-year period, fully one-third of Postal Service executives with high-limit credit cards had “misused their government travel card by purchasing personal items and taking cash advances unrelated to official travel.”

Many executives submitted duplicate claims for travel reimbursement, including one reimbursement of $10,114 for a flight that was never taken. And most remarkably, “three employees purchased airfare tickets, including tickets to Spain and Italy, for friends and family. One employee purchased an Apple computer and paid his mortgage. One employee used his government issued travel card more than 50 times at adult entertainment establishments.” The agency also failed to cancel government credit cards worth $37 million that had been issued to thousands of former and deceased employees.

No indictments resulted from this audit. But a reasonable person must ask: If L’Enfant Plaza executives help themselves so casually to public money for expensive dinners, gift certificates, pornography, computers, and home mortgages, how responsible are they likely to be when overseeing real estate and consulting contracts? This investigation shows that the conflicts of interest and related problems with the CBRE contract could only have occurred with the full knowledge and complicity of top leadership at the Postal Service. Postal Service spokesman David Partenheimer, declined to comment on these expenses. Samra did not return repeated telephone calls and emails requesting comment.

 

 

  • Robert Alvin Jesse March 29, 2014

    Senator Bernie Sanders should be given this info. He will know what to do with it ! LOL Where is Darryl Isa when we REALLY need him ? !!!

  • Clyde O. April 7, 2014

    Because I’m a low-tech guy, I wish I could e-mail this to my State Reps. I don’t do twitter or facebook

Project Censored 2014
Receive a Free Project Censored "Top 25 Censored Stories" Book For Being a Member
Become a $5 monthly subscriber to Project Censored and as long as you are a member, every year we will send you the newest Project Censored Top 25 Most Censored Stories of the Year book. You can choose paperback or e-book, you can cancel your monthly support at any time, and your support is tax deductible. 

Book, button, 3@2x