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    Party Drugs for PTSD: Study Moves Therapeutic Use of MDMA Toward Approval / TheIntercept · Saturday, 14 January - 11:00 · 2 minutes

The party drug MDMA earned positive results for treating people living with post-traumatic stress disorder, according to a new government study that confirmed other findings.

The new study for the MDMA clinical trial program was completed in November and sponsored by a group called the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies. The trial is part of an ongoing effort to obtain federal approval for use of MDMA in therapy as the number of people suffering from PTSD, mental illness, and opioid addiction continues to climb.

Prior to federal criminalization of the use and possession of MDMA in 1985, the substance had been legally used in therapy treatments for at least a decade. As part of its decision to criminalize MDMA, the Drug Enforcement Administration said abuse of the substance had “become a nationwide problem” and posed “a serious health threat.”

MDMA is only one of a handful of drugs, especially psychedelic drugs, that the federal government considered to be largely for recreational purposes — and therefore illegal — that are now slowly progressing toward government approval for legal uses. The drugs, among them psilocybin, which is found in “magic mushrooms,” are being studied for therapeutic uses.

The Biden administration has signaled willingness to explore the potential to use criminalized substances to address a growing national mental health crisis, and officials in Congress have undertaken bipartisan efforts to ease access to federally banned substances for therapeutic uses. The Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies’ latest clinical research on MDMA is a phase three study aimed at eventually winning Food and Drug Administration approval.

The stigma against psychedelic and psychoactive drugs and the residual effects of the “war on drugs” kicked off by President Richard Nixon have stalled progress in one of the few areas of drug policy on which there is substantial bipartisan consensus.

In May, the Department of Health and Human Services said it anticipated that the FDA would approve both MDMA and psilocybin for treatment of PTSD and depression, respectively, within the next two years. President Joe Biden’s administration has supported the creation of a federal task force to explore potential issues with psychedelic and entactogenic medicines. The White House did not immediately provide comment on the status of the task force or efforts to obtain FDA approval for either substance.

In July, Sens. Cory Booker, D-N.J., and Rand Paul, R-Ky., introduced a bill that would let people with terminal illnesses access drugs classified under Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act that have undergone a phase one clinical trial but have not yet received FDA approval. The bill was supported by the Veteran Mental Health Leadership Coalition, which includes several organizations that work to prevent suicide and deaths of despair among veterans and and nonveterans alike. The bill was referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee on July 20. (Spokespersons for Booker and Paul did not immediately respond to a request for comment.)

Last summer, the House also moved to expand research into psychedelic therapy. Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., and Dan Crenshaw, R-Texas, offered amendments to the annual National Defense Authorization Act that would relax federal restrictions on the use of psychedelic treatments for veterans and active-duty service members struggling with mental illness.

The post Party Drugs for PTSD: Study Moves Therapeutic Use of MDMA Toward Approval appeared first on The Intercept .

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    Kevin McCarthy Wants to Hold China Accountable. His Top Aide Lobbied for Alibaba. / TheIntercept · Friday, 13 January - 19:31 · 2 minutes

Immediately after being elected House speaker, Rep. Kevin McCarthy vowed to hold Beijing accountable. “We will create a bipartisan select committee on China to investigate how to bring back the hundreds of thousands of jobs that went to China, and then we will win this economic competition,” the California Republican said early Saturday morning after a dramatic 15-vote series that elected him to lead the GOP majority in the lower chamber.

On Tuesday, the House of Representatives made good on McCarthy’s promise, voting 365 to 65 to establish the House Select Committee on China, which will be chaired by foreign policy hawk Rep. Mike Gallagher, R-Wis. “Here’s the good news: There is bipartisan consensus that the era of trusting Communist China is over,” gloated McCarthy from the House floor.

McCarthy and Gallagher wrote an op-ed for Fox News last month declaring “a new cold war” between China in the United States. “Our goal will be to promote overwhelming economic superiority,” wrote the GOP duo, “by developing policies to prohibit state and local pension funds—the same entities evangelizing for environmental, social, and governance (ESG) investments—from investing in China.”

That could spell trouble for McCarthy’s chief of staff Daniel P. Meyer, who owns somewhere between $250,000 and $500,000 worth of shares in Alibaba Group Holdings Limited — one of the largest companies in China, with close ties to the Chinese government. Before joining McCarthy’s office, Meyer was president of the Duberstein Group, a firm that earned millions lobbying on behalf of Alibaba in the U.S.

Meyer’s Alibaba investment is the largest by far of the 132 entries listed under assets and “unearned income,” according to his 2021 financial disclosure statement — the most recent available — obtained by The Intercept from the House Office of the Clerk.

In 2021, Alibaba spent over $3 million to hire 34 lobbyists to push the company’s agenda on trade, telecommunications, copyright, and other areas, according to Open Secrets . Duberstein Group collected the largest fees by far from Alibaba.

Meyer worked as a lobbyist for Alibaba during his time as a top executive at Duberstein in the decade before joining McCarthy’s team. Between 2011 and 2021, Duberstein Group collected $3.7 million in lobbying fees from Alibaba, with Meyer listed as the registered lobbyist for the Chinese multinational company from 2012 to 2019.

A 2018 report by Lee Fang and Nick Surgey for The Intercept found that Alibaba had joined the American Legislative Exchange Council, or ALEC, a controversial group that ghostwrites legislation for corporations and other special interest groups.

“We are probably the world’s largest e-commerce company you have never heard about. We have business-to-business marketplace solutions. We have VC marketplace solutions. And we have over 500 million active buyers on our marketplaces,” said Alibaba lobbyist Bill Anaya at an ALEC summit in Nashville in 2017.

Meyer is a former senior aide to ex-Speaker Newt Gingrich and also served as a legislative aide to President George W. Bush. “Dan Meyer played a key role in developing the Contract with America [a set of 10 bills undermining the social safety net and cutting government spending in 1994] and in helping lead the House Republicans out of 40 years in the minority wilderness. He went on to be a superb legislative liaison for President George W. Bush,” Gingrich told Politico when Meyer joined McCarthy’s staff in 2019.

Neither Meyer nor McCarthy’s office replied to email requests from The Intercept for comment on his significant Alibaba investment.

The post Kevin McCarthy Wants to Hold China Accountable. His Top Aide Lobbied for Alibaba. appeared first on The Intercept .

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    Biden Used Classified Documents Accusation Against Carter CIA Nominee / TheIntercept · Friday, 13 January - 19:29 · 5 minutes

President Joe Biden and his supporters have sought to downplay the significance of the improperly handled and stored classified documents discovered at the Penn Biden Center for Diplomacy and Global Engagement, a think tank where Biden maintained an office. The documents are believed to relate to his time as vice president under Barack Obama. But then it emerged that another batch of classified documents was recovered from Biden’s personal garage at his home in Delaware. Attorney General Merrick Garland has appointed a special counsel to investigate the matter.

Former President Donald Trump and his supporters have defended his transfer of classified materials to his resort at Mar-a-Lago, claiming that the president had authority to declassify the materials. That case is also the subject of a federal investigation.

It is a barely concealed secret in Washington, D.C., that for decades, elite politicians have engaged in some form of bending or breaking the rules on classified documents — in some cases for plausibly benign uses as writing memoirs. Bill Clinton’s former national security adviser Sandy Berger stole documents from the National Archives in 2003 by stuffing them inside his clothing and then destroyed some classified materials. He claimed he wanted to review the documents to prepare for his testimony before the 9/11 commission. Gen. David Petraeus was forced to resign as CIA director in 2012 after it was revealed he had improperly handled classified materials, including taking some to his home and sharing them with his biographer with whom he was having an affair.

While there have been cases where criminal charges have been brought — Berger was fined $50,000 by a federal judge and lost his security clearance, and Petraeus got two years probation and a $100,000 fine — it is rare for a high profile figure to face any meaningful criminal consequences for such actions. That, of course, is not the case with whistleblowers — including Reality Winner, Jeffrey Sterling, Terry Albury, and Daniel Hale — who have been aggressively prosecuted under the Espionage Act and sentenced to lengthy prison terms.

The revelation that Biden illicitly stored classified materials, including in his garage, is a grave embarrassment to the president, particularly in light of the fact that Democrats have hammered away at Donald Trump for months over the classified documents he retained at Mar-a-Lago. But there is also a relevant story from Biden’s past that bears mentioning.

The events took place during the administration of Jimmy Carter, when Biden was a rising star in the U.S. Senate and was an inaugural member of the Intelligence Committee, which was established in response to the lawlessness of the Nixon administration. Biden colluded with Republicans on the Intelligence Committee to kill the nomination of a CIA critic to be director of the agency. Among the reasons was that the nominee, Ted Sorensen, had admitted to taking classified documents for a biography of his longtime friend John F. Kennedy and had spoken out in defense of Pentagon Papers whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg. In fact, Biden went so far as to suggest Sorensen might be subject to prosecution under the Espionage Act.

As The Intercept reported in its special series “ Empire Politician: A Half-Century of Joe Biden’s Stances on War, Militarism, and the CIA ,” Sen. Joe Biden campaigned aggressively for President Jimmy Carter, but he later made clear that he was never a big fan of the famously liberal president. When Carter nominated Sorensen as CIA director, the national security establishment in Washington was apoplectic. Sorensen had no foreign policy experience and was out of place in the world of covert ops. Carter had said that he wanted an outsider for the CIA post as part of his pledge to reduce the agency’s power and budget.

Sorensen’s nomination came after a campaign in which Carter promised to wage war against the agency’s “excessive secrecy” and to expose and punish CIA officers who broke the law. “We must never again keep secret the evolution of our foreign policy from the Congress and the American people,” Carter declared . “They should never again be misled.” Carter ultimately failed to achieve many of his promises regarding the CIA, but the mere fact that he made such statements caused grave concern within the agency and among many Republican lawmakers. This conflict broke out into the open during Sorensen’s confirmation process.

Biden assured Sorensen that he would help guide him through the process. As Sorensen recalled, Biden had led him to believe that he had the senator’s “enthusiastic” support, telling him that he was “the best appointment Carter has made.”

When Sorensen came under attack from Republicans, though, Biden shifted his position and went out of his way to dig up an episode from Sorenson’s past that would serve as a red flag against his confirmation. Sorensen had given an affidavit in Ellsberg’s case, in which Sorensen acknowledged that many officials in Washington, including himself, would take classified documents home to review and that officials often leaked far more sensitive documents to the press without facing prosecutions.

Biden said he learned of the affidavit, which was never filed in court, from a Republican colleague and assessed that the Republicans on the committee would seek to use it to discredit Sorensen. Biden had his staff scour documents and Sorensen’s books to find the unfiled affidavit, and an aide who was involved with the Pentagon Papers case eventually located it. This, combined with other concerns, including allegations that Sorensen was a pacifist who dodged the Korean War draft, put the nomination in peril. “It was like being blindsided by a truck,” Sorensen said , describing the campaign against him as an effort where “many little dirty streams flowed together to make one large one.”

In a phone call with Carter after confirming the document, Biden said , “I think we’re in trouble. I think it is going to be tough.” As it became clear that the nomination was doomed, Carter offered an uninspired defense of Sorensen’s comments on classified documents with a public statement, “saying it would be ‘most unfortunate’ if frank acknowledgement of common practice should ‘deprive the administration and the country of his talents and services,’” according to a press report.

At Sorensen’s confirmation hearing, Biden laid into the nominee. “Quite honestly, I’m not sure whether or not Mr. Sorensen could be indicted or convicted under the espionage statutes,” Biden said, questioning “whether Mr. Sorensen intentionally took advantage of the ambiguities in the law or carelessly ignored the law.” Biden biographer Jules Witcover later wrote: “As a result of these and other complaints against Sorensen, and behind-the-scenes pressure from Carter, the old JFK speechwriter agreed to have his nomination withdrawn.” Sorensen later said Biden should be awarded the “prize for political hypocrisy in a town noted for political hypocrisy.”

The post Biden Used Classified Documents Accusation Against Carter CIA Nominee appeared first on The Intercept .

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    It’s Important to Talk Openly About Suicide / TheIntercept · Friday, 13 January - 18:00

Ten years ago this week, Aaron Swartz, a key figure in the fight for an open internet, died by suicide. This week we also learned of the tragic death of New York Times journalist Blake Hounshell, whose death is being investigated by police as a suicide. Ryan Grim speaks to Jason Cherkis, who’s writing a book on suicide prevention and is the author of the groundbreaking article at HuffPost Highline titled “ The Best Way to Save People From Suicide .”

Transcript coming soon.

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline offers 24-hour support for those experiencing difficulties or those close to them, by chat or by telephone at 988 .

The post It’s Important to Talk Openly About Suicide appeared first on The Intercept .

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    Listen to Barack Obama’s Chilling Description of U.S. Involvement in the Gigantic 1965 Indonesia Massacre / TheIntercept · Friday, 13 January - 16:09 · 8 minutes

Joko Widodo, the president of Indonesia, expressed regret on Wednesday about 12 instances of “gross human rights violations” over the past decades of the nation’s history — including an extraordinary U.S.-backed bloodbath carried out by the Indonesian military following a coup in 1965.

The carnage targeted the Indonesian Communist Party — known as Partai Komunis Indonesia, or PKI — as well as their family members, purported sympathizers, or people who stood next to a member of the PKI at a bus stop once. (It was not an exact science.) At least 500,000 Indonesians were killed, often up close with machetes or knives. Soon afterward the Central Intelligence Agency, which played a key role in supporting the massacre, called it “one of the worst mass murders of the 20th century.”

Remarkably, Barack Obama used similar language in a passage in his 1995 autobiography “Dreams From My Father,” referring to the killings as “one of the more brutal and swift campaigns of suppression in modern times.” Yet this section of the book has received almost no notice. A Google search finds references to that sentence from Boston public radio station WBUR; the student newspaper at Northwestern; the New York Review of Books; my dormant blog ; and little else.

As Obama describes it, he moved with his mother from the U.S. to Indonesia in 1967 after she divorced his father and married Lolo, an Indonesian engineer. Obama recorded the audiobook version of “Dreams From My Father” himself, so we can hear the president-to-be describing the terrifying facts his mother learned about both their adopted country and the country they’d come from:

Or if you prefer to read rather than listen, here are Obama’s words:

She found herself a job right away teaching English to Indonesian businessmen at the American embassy. … The Americans were mostly older men, careerists in the State Department, the occasional economists or journalists who would mysteriously disappear for months at a time, their affiliation or function in the embassy never quite clear. …

These men knew the country, though, or parts of it anyway, the closets where the skeletons were buried. Over lunch or casual conversation they would share with her things she couldn’t learn in the published news reports. They explained how Sukarno had frayed badly the nerves of a U.S. government already obsessed with the march of communism through Indochina, what with his nationalist rhetoric and his politics of nonalignment — he was as bad as Lumumba or Nasser! — only worse, given Indonesia’s strategic importance. Word was that the CIA had played a part in the coup, although nobody knew for sure. More certain was the fact that after the coup the military had swept the countryside for supposed Communist sympathizers. The death toll was anybody’s guess: a few hundred thousand, maybe; half a million. Even the smart guys at the Agency had lost count.

Innuendo, half-whispered asides; that’s how she found out that we had arrived in Djakarta less than a year after one of the more brutal and swift campaigns of suppression in modern times. The idea frightened her, the notion that history could be swallowed up so completely, the same way the rich and loamy earth could soak up the rivers of blood that had once coursed through the streets; the way people could continue about their business beneath giant posters of the new president as if nothing had happened. …

Power. The word fixed in my mother’s mind like a curse. In America, it had generally remained hidden from view until you dug beneath the surface of things; until you visited an Indian reservation or spoke to a black person whose trust you had earned. But here power was undisguised, indiscriminate, naked, always fresh in the memory. Power had taken Lolo and yanked him back into line just when he thought he’d escaped, making him feel its weight, letting him know that his life wasn’t his own. That’s how things were; you couldn’t change it, you could just live by the rules, so simple once you learned them. And so Lolo had made his peace with power, learning the wisdom of forgetting.

The 1965 coup and its hideous aftermath is covered in detail in the recent book “ The Jakarta Method ” by former Washington Post reporter Vincent Bevins.

Indonesia was governed from World War II until 1965 by President Sukarno (some Indonesians have a single name) who had previously led the resistance to Dutch colonization. This made the U.S. increasingly unhappy. Indonesia was enormous, with the world’s sixth-largest population, and the PKI was the third-biggest Communist Party on Earth, after China’s and the Soviet Union’s. It mattered little to the American government that Sukarno was not himself a Communist, or that the PKI had no plans or capacity for violence. It was bad enough that Sukarno did not leap to put the Indonesian economy at the service of U.S. multinationals, and that he helped create the Non-Aligned Movement of countries that wished to stay out of both the Soviet and American blocs.

The U.S. goal, then, was to extract Sukarno from power in favor of someone reliable (from the American perspective), while creating a pretext for the Indonesian military to destroy the PKI. But how to make this happen?

Howard P. Jones, the American ambassador to Indonesia until April 1965, told a meeting of State Department officials just before leaving his post, “From our viewpoint, of course, an unsuccessful coup attempt by the PKI might be the most effective development to start a reversal of political trends in Indonesia.” This, he believed, would give the army a “clear-cut kind of challenge that would galvanize effective reaction.” A British Foreign Office official made the case that “there might therefore be much to be said for encouraging a premature PKI coup during Sukarno’s lifetime.”

Coincidentally enough, this is exactly what appeared to happen. On September 30, 1965, a group of young military officers kidnapped six Indonesian generals, claiming that they planned to overthrow Sukarno. All six generals somehow soon ended up dead.

Suharto, an Army general who was, fortuitously, not targeted, announced with his allies that the dead generals had been castrated and tortured by female members of the PKI in a “depraved, demonic ritual,” according to Bevins. Years later it was discovered that none of this was true; all but one of the six generals had simply been shot.

To this day, it’s impossible to say what truly happened. Bevins lists three theories. First, the leader of the PKI may have helped plan the events of September 30 with contacts in the military. It may have been the young members of the military acting alone with no PKI involvement. Or Suharto may have collaborated with the September 30 officers, pretending that he would support them and then betraying them as part of a plan to seize power for himself.

In any case, Suharto certainly seemed to have a plan ready to execute. Soon afterward, Sukarno was out and Suharto was in charge. Then the killing began, in what the Indonesian army internally called Operasi Penumpasan, or Operation Annihilation.

The U.S. was not only aware of what was happening, but was also an eager participant, providing lists of PKI members to the Indonesian military.

The butchery lasted for months, into early 1966, with the New York Times referring to it as a “staggering mass slaughter of Communists and pro-Communists.” The U.S. was not only aware of what was happening, but was also an eager participant, providing lists of PKI members to the Indonesian military. One American official later said , “They probably killed a lot of people, and I probably have a lot of blood on my hands, but that’s not all bad. There’s a time when you have to strike hard at a decisive moment.” According to Time magazine, there were so many corpses that it created “a serious sanitation problem in East Java and Northern Sumatra where the humid air bears the reek of decaying flesh. Travelers from those areas tell of small rivers and streams that have been literally clogged with bodies.”

New York Times columnist James Reston soon wrote about these events under the headline “A Gleam of Light in Asia.” Americans needed to understand these “hopeful political developments,” including the fact that the “Indonesian massacre” could not have occurred “without the clandestine aid [Indonesia] has received indirectly from here.” Recently declassified records illustrate just how right Reston was .

Suharto ruled Indonesia brutally for the next three decades, remaining a key U.S. ally until he fell from power in 1998. Only now, over 57 years since the coup, is the Indonesian government barely beginning to face its own past.

“Acknowledging some of the crimes of the Suharto regime is a start,” says Bradley Simpson, a historian and expert on this period. “But President Widodo must do more to initiate a long overdue process of accountability and restitution for victims and survivors of the 1965–1966 killings. So do governments like the United States and Great Britain, which were willing accomplices in the Indonesian army’s campaign of mass murder.”

There is no sign of that happening in U.S., however. Obama, with his direct personal knowledge of Indonesia and this history, might seem to be a natural leader for this process. But you shouldn’t get your hopes up. He also explains in “Dreams From My Father” that he learned in Indonesia that “the world was violent … unpredictable and often cruel.” His stepfather, he records, taught him that “Men take advantage of weakness in other men. They’re just like countries in that way. … Better to be strong. If you can’t be strong, be clever and make peace with someone who’s strong. But always better to be strong yourself. Always.”

The post Listen to Barack Obama’s Chilling Description of U.S. Involvement in the Gigantic 1965 Indonesia Massacre appeared first on The Intercept .

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    PM do Distrito Federal é comandada por colegas de turma de homem de confiança de Bolsonaro / TheIntercept · Friday, 13 January - 13:30 · 13 minutes

Q uando o coronel Julian Rocha Pontes furou a fila para tomar a vacina contra a covid-19 e, por isso, acabou demitido do comando da Polícia Militar do Distrito Federal, em abril de 2021, abriu-se uma oportunidade que políticos próximos ao presidente Jair Bolsonaro não deixaram passar.

Àquela altura, Júlio Danilo Souza Ferreira havia acabado de ser empossado como novo secretário de Segurança Pública do Distrito Federal. Ferreira é homem de confiança de Anderson Torres, seu antecessor no cargo – e, como ele, delegado licenciado da Polícia Federal. Torres tinha sido chamado havia poucos dias para ser ministro da Justiça de Bolsonaro. Com as bênçãos do governador Ibaneis Rocha, do MDB, aceitou o convite, mas cuidou de deixar o posto no governo do DF para seu antigo número dois , Ferreira. Que, nos primeiros dias no cargo, escolheu o coronel Márcio Cavalcante de Vasconcelos como novo comandante da PM.

Com Vasconcelos, em poucos dias a cúpula da corporação foi tomada por oficiais que têm com ele algo em comum. Todos foram colegas e são próximos, desde a Academia da Polícia de Brasília, de uma figura central do projeto de poder de Bolsonaro. Trata-se de Jorge Antônio de Oliveira Francisco, ex-ministro-chefe da Secretaria-Geral da Presidência da República entre 2019 e 2020, em seguida nomeado ministro do Tribunal de Contas da União pelo presidente.

Jorge Oliveira, como é conhecido, é oficial da reserva da PMDF: entrou na corporação em 1993 como aluno do curso de formação de oficiais da Academia da Polícia de Brasília. Exigência imposta pela Constituição de 1988, a formação superior dos oficiais da PM começou no Distrito Federal em 1990. Oliveira foi, portanto, aluno da que é conhecida internamente como a “quarta turma” – oficialmente, a Turma Benjamin Constant . Nela, conheceu e se tornou amigo de Vasconcelos – e de outras figuras de destaque no falho esquema de segurança que permitiu os ataques terroristas de domingo, 8 de janeiro.

No meio militar, a turma em que se formam os oficiais é fundamental para entender as ligações, conexões e amizades entre eles, porque a progressão na carreira é feita por antiguidade. Assim, colegas que se formam juntos irão progredir juntos até o penúltimo degrau da carreira. Nas PMs, só a promoção para a patente de coronel, a mais alta, é feita por merecimento.

Ibaneis, Torres e Oliveira são figuras-chave para entender a influência não apenas do bolsonarismo, mas do próprio Bolsonaro na cúpula da PM do Distrito Federal ao longo de pelo menos a última década. Não se trata de uma polícia militar como outras quaisquer. Por ser responsável pela segurança da capital do país, sede dos Três Poderes e de dezenas de representações diplomáticas de todo o mundo, é financiada integralmente pelo governo federal – nada menos que R$ 10 bilhões estão previstos no orçamento para 2023. Com isso, é também a mais bem paga do país – o salário líquido médio é de quase R$ 10 mil mensais. Ainda assim, falhou miseravelmente – ou, ainda pior, se omitiu – em uma de suas principais missões.


Amigos para sempre: reunião de colegas da quarta turma da Academia de Polícia de Brasília no 29o aniversário de formatura, em 2022.


Da PM ao Tribunal de Contas da União

A quarta turma da Academia da Polícia de Brasília se formou em 1995. Poucos anos depois, em 2003, o oficial Oliveira mergulhou na política. Tornou-se assessor parlamentar da PMDF na Câmara. Na prática, um lobista dos interesses da corporação no parlamento federal. Não demorou nada para que se tornasse íntimo do mais vocal defensor da pauta militar na casa: o então deputado federal Bolsonaro, que iniciava o quarto de seus sete mandatos na casa. Para além do alinhamento ideológico, havia uma questão familiar. O pai do policial, o capitão do Exército Jorge Oliveira Francisco, foi chefe do gabinete de Bolsonaro por longos 20 anos.

Em 2013, já formado em Direito, Oliveira pediu para ir à reserva – isto é, para se aposentar – da PM do Distrito Federal. Àquela altura, já era major, a terceira mais alta patente nas PMs. Mas não deixou a Câmara: foi contratado como assessor jurídico do gabinete de Bolsonaro.

A lealdade canina a Bolsonaro foi recompensada. Em 2019, o presidente não deixou Oliveira na mão e lhe entregou a chefia de gabinete do filho e deputado federal Eduardo – de quem também viria a ser padrinho de casamento. Mas ele não ficaria muito tempo com o 03. Em junho, Bolsonaro se lembraria de Oliveira quando teve de escolher seu terceiro ministro-chefe da Secretaria-Geral da Presidência em menos de seis meses no cargo, procurando apagar a crise que se havia iniciado ainda em fevereiro com a demissão do primeiro deles, Gustavo Bebianno.

Assim, Oliveira virou ministro. Em pouco tempo, passou a ser visto em Brasília como o auxiliar com mais influência sobre o presidente . O que lhe rendeu, menos de um ano e meio depois, uma das cadeiras mais cobiçadas de Brasília: a de ministro do Tribunal de Contas da União, um cargo vitalício – e, novamente, por indicação de Bolsonaro. (No TCU, por ironia, ele substituiu outro personagem central dos ataques terroristas de domingo, o atual ministro da Defesa José Múcio Monteiro.)


Jorge Oliveira, ladeado por Ibaneis Rocha (à esquerda) e o ministro Dias Toffoli, do Supremo Tribunal Federal.

Foto: Alan Santos/PR

Os homens de Oliveira

Empossado como comandante da PM do Distrito Federal em 3 de abril de 2021, o coronel Márcio Cavalcante de Vasconcelos não é apenas bom amigo de Jorge Oliveira. É também próximo de Anderson Torres e, segundo noticiou à época da nomeação o site Metrópoles, já havia feito “serviços de inteligência” para o governo Bolsonaro .

Em edição extra publicada poucos dias após sua nomeação, em 7 de abril de 2021, o comandante-geral da PM indicou novos ocupantes para seis postos-chave da corporação – o subcomando geral e os comandos do Estado Maior; do Departamento Operacional; do Departamentos de Controle e Correção; do Departamento de Logística e Finanças; do Departamento da Diretoria de Execução Orçamentária e de Finanças; e da Seção de Pessoal. Para todos eles, indicou colegas da quarta turma. A dele mesmo – e de Jorge Oliveira. Poucos dias depois, o ministro do TCU fez uma visita ao amigo que começava a comandar a PM.

Um desses nomes é extremamente relevante: o do coronel Jorge Eduardo Naime Barreto, escolhido por Vasconcelos para chefiar o Departamento Operacional da corporação. É a ele que cabe planejar operações especiais de segurança, como a que deu muito errado no domingo passado. (A favor do oficial, é preciso dizer que ele também esteve à frente da estratégia de policiamento em momentos sensíveis, como a posse de Lula e Geraldo Alckmin e os protestos golpistas de 7 de setembro de 2021 e 2022 em Brasília.)

Naime é mais um oficial cuja proximidade com Oliveira é patente. Foi recebido por ele para encontros fechados no TCU em duas ocasiões, em fevereiro e agosto de 2022 – novamente, sem que haja registro da pauta das reuniões.

Antes de chegar ao comando-geral da PM, Vasconcelos liderava uma área nevrálgica da Segurança Pública distrital: a Subsecretaria de Operações Integradas, conhecida pela sigla Sopi, diretamente subordinada a Torres. O antecessor de Vasconcelos na Sopi é outro personagem dessa história a colocar a PMDF na esfera de influência de Bolsonaro, o coronel Carlos Renato Machado Paim.

Paim embarcou no governo da extrema direita em abril de 2020, quando passou a ser secretário nacional da Segurança Pública , um dos cargos mais importantes do Ministério da Justiça. Foi nomeado por Walter Braga Netto , o general da reserva do Exército que tentaria ser vice-presidente na fracassada tentativa de reeleição de Bolsonaro. Àquela altura, Jorge Oliveira já era tido como o auxiliar mais próximo do presidente. Já ministro do TCU, ele recebeu no gabinete Paim, seu colega na quarta turma, em janeiro de 2022 . O portal da transparência não informa o motivo da reunião.

Pouco depois de Paim, chegou ao governo federal outro coronel da PMDF: André de Sousa Costa – este, da terceira turma, um ano veterana daquela de Oliveira –, tido como um dos oficiais mais radicais à direita da corporação. Em junho de 2020, ele ganhou o cargo de assessor-chefe adjunto na Assessoria Especial de Bolsonaro. Menos de um ano depois, em abril de 2021, foi promovido a chefe da Secretaria Especial de Comunicação Social, a Secom, do Ministério das Comunicações. Já na Secom, Costa também foi recebido por Oliveira em seu gabinete no TCU . Novamente, não se sabe qual a pauta da reunião.

Empossado na chefia da Secom, Costa mandou buscar outro coronel formado na quarta turma para ser seu braço direito como secretário-adjunto: Anderson Vilela. Foi mais um a se sentar para uma conversa privada e de teor não divulgado com Oliveira no TCU, em agosto de 2021 . Costa e Vilela também foram registrados, juntos, em visita à cúpula da TV Record , simpática ao governo Bolsonaro.

Além da provável influência em nomeações que envolvem PMDF, Oliveira é tido como um dos responsáveis pela ascensão de Anderson Torres ao grupo de auxiliares próximos de Bolsonaro. Os dois se conheceram na Câmara por volta de 2015, quando Torres foi ser chefe de gabinete do deputado federal Fernando Francischini, do União Brasil do Paraná, outro delegado bolsonarista da Polícia Federal que virou político ( ele acabou cassado por distribuir mentiras sobre as urnas eletrônicas).

Àquela época, Torres estava desgastado na PF por ter sido acusado de sequestrar e torturar os suspeitos de terem assaltado colegas da corporação. Assim, viu na política – e, logo, em Bolsonaro, para quem Oliveira já trabalhava – sua chance de crescer. Com a saída de Sergio Moro do Ministério da Justiça, em 2020, Oliveira trabalhou para fazer de Torres o novo delegado-geral da Polícia Federal. Aquela tentativa não vingou, mas ele acabaria ministro quando o sucessor de Moro, o terrivelmente evangélico André Mendonça, ganhou uma vaga no Supremo Tribunal Federal. Por isso, tornou-se um soldado fiel de Bolsonaro, disposto até a melar eleições pelo chefe (ou, no mínimo, fingir que não viu, o que é crime de prevaricação para quem ocupava seu posto).

Via assessoria de imprensa do TCU, perguntei a Jorge Oliveira quais foram as pautas das reuniões com os colegas da PMDF em seu gabinete, e porque elas foram omitidas, o que contraria a lei. Questionei-o, ainda, sobre sua eventual interferência nas nomeações de oficiais para o comando da PMDF e de policiais da corporação para cargos de indicação política no governo Bolsonaro. Ele respondeu que não faria comentários.


Anderson Torres e Bolsonaro: uma proximidade pavimentada por Jorge Oliveira.

Foto: Pedro Ladeira/Folhapress

Chega o interventor – mas a quarta turma fica

Em abril do ano passado, o coronel Vasconcelos deixou o comando da PM para se aventurar na política. Resolveu erguer a bandeira da truculência policial em busca de uma mandato parlamentar. Candidato a deputado federal pelo MDB de Ibaneis Rocha, fez pífios 3.363 votos e acabou suplente da bancada. (Para efeitos de comparação, Alberto Fraga, do União Brasil, um ex-oficial da PM distrital que é deputado federal desde 1999 e fundador da bancada da bala, teve 28.825 votos e quase não conseguiu renovar seu mandato.)

Para o lugar, Ibaneis e o secretário Ferreira mandaram buscar o coronel Fábio Augusto Vieira , que estava no comando da Sopi após a promoção de Vasconcelos. Vieira é mais um colega de Oliveira na quarta turma da Academia de Polícia. Após os ataques terroristas de domingo, foi um dos que tiveram a prisão decretada pelo ministro Alexandre de Moraes, do Supremo Tribunal Federal.

Já Anderson Torres, que havia voltado ao comando da Secretaria de Segurança Pública após o fim do governo Bolsonaro, fugiu para os Estados Unidos um dia antes dos ataques aos Três Poderes. Também por ordem de Moraes, será preso assim que pisar no Brasil. Na casa dele, a Polícia Federal encontrou um esboço de documento que serviria para Bolsonaro melar a eleição. No Twitter, Torres anunciou em 10 de janeiro que voltará ao país para se entregar e cuidar de sua defesa .

A cordialidade com que a PM assistiu Brasília ser destruída no domingo levou o presidente Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva a decretar, ainda naquele dia, intervenção federal na Secretaria de Segurança Pública de Júlio Danilo Ferreira (horas depois, o ministro Moraes também afastou Ibaneis Rocha do cargo de governador por ao menos 90 dias).

Nomeado interventor, o jornalista Ricardo Cappelli chegou já com a missão de nomear um sucessor para o coronel Vieira. A escolha dele foi conservadora: o coronel Klepter Rosa Gonçalves, primeiro na linha da sucessão – era, desde outubro passado, o subcomandante-geral da corporação. Klepter é mais um oficial formado na quarta turma e havia sido alçado pelo coronel Vasconcelos, em 2021, a chefe do Departamento de Gestão de Pessoal.

No mesmo decreto em que levou Klepter ao comando da PM, o interventor Cappelli retirou do coronel Naime a chefia do Departamento Operacional. Outros oficiais subordinados a ele também caíram, entre eles o coronel Paulo José Ferreira de Sousa Bezerra, o número dois do departamento.

‘Tenho plena confiança nas forças de segurança do Distrito Federal, diz o interventor.

Dois experientes coronéis da PM do Distrito Federal com quem conversei para esta reportagem veem como um problema a hegemonia de uma turma da Academia de Polícia no comando. Argumentam, com a ressalva de se tratarem de visões pessoais, que a convivência entre oficiais de gerações diferentes enriquece a corporação, e que dificilmente uma só turma terá os policiais mais preparados para chefiar as diferentes áreas e especialidades da atividade. Entre os 30 coronéis em atividade na corporação, há oficiais formados em quatros diferentes turmas – da segunda, de 1991, à quinta, de 1994.

Enviei à PMDF questões sobre a proeminência da quarta turma de oficiais e sua relação com Jorge Oliveira, mas ouvi, numa resposta por telefone, que a corporação não iria comentar o caso por estar sob intervenção. Já o interventor Cappelli, que recebeu as mesmas perguntas, respondeu o seguinte: “Tenho plena confiança nas forças de segurança do Distrito Federal”.

Seja como for, apurar qual a influência de Jorge Oliveira, braço direito de Jair Bolsonaro, sobre os oficiais que foram colegas dele e comandavam a tropa nos atos de domingo não será a única missão do interventor Cappelli. André de Sousa Costa e Anderson Vilela, os dois coronéis da quarta turma que passaram pela Secom de Bolsonaro, retornaram à PM e podem ser reintegrados à tropa. (Carlos Renato Machado Paim, que passou pelo Ministério da Justiça, já foi para a reserva.)

Mas debelar a influência de Jair Bolsonaro na Polícia Militar do DF é uma tarefa que dificilmente será realizada em curto prazo.

Colaborou: Guilherme Mazieiro

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    Governo Lula não pode cometer o erro de seguir confiando nas autoridades bolsonaristas / TheIntercept · Friday, 13 January - 09:01 · 6 minutes


Ilustração: The Intercept Brasil; Getty Images

Eu sabia, você provavelmente sabia, pesquisadores sabiam, quem acompanha grupos de bolsonaristas no Telegram sabia: havia atos golpistas marcados para o fim de semana dos dias 7 e 8 de janeiro. A pergunta é: como e por que os terroristas conseguiram executar um plano público de invasão ao centro do poder do país, sem nenhum problema?

A inação, ingerência e omissão das autoridades do Distrito Federal são cristalinas. Enquanto o ex-ministro da Justiça e agora ex-secretário de Segurança Pública do Distrito Federal, Anderson Torres, estava nos EUA, terroristas depredavam o Supremo Tribunal Federal, o Congresso e o Palácio do Alvorada. Em questão de horas, ele foi exonerado pelo governador emedebista Ibaneis Rocha, que, logo em seguida, foi afastado do cargo pelo Supremo por ao menos 90 dias.

Mas o problema não se restringe a eles.

A Folha de S.Paulo noticiou que a Abin, a Agência Brasileira de Inteligência, avisou ainda no sábado, dia 7, que havia risco de violência. Os informes foram distribuídos para 48 órgãos em 16 ministérios e alertavam sobre o aumento expressivo no número de ônibus fretados e as constantes convocações de invasão a prédios públicos, “principalmente na Esplanada dos Ministérios”. Já a jornalista Andrea Sadi afirmou que os avisos sobre as invasões foram feitos às autoridades do Distrito Federal entre 9h e 10h da manhã de domingo. Fato é que isso é muito, mas muito tarde.

O presidente em exercício do Senado, Veneziano Vital do Rego, do MDB, disse em entrevista coletiva que a polícia legislativa estava apreensiva, mas recebeu a informação de um dos secretários de Ibaneis de que não era preciso se preocupar, uma vez que “toda a situação estava plenamente sob controle”.

Vital disse ainda que conversou por telefone com Gustavo Rocha, secretário-chefe da Casa Civil do Distrito Federal, por volta das 9h30 de domingo, e que ele lhe assegurou que “tudo iria transcorrer perfeitamente bem”, e concluiu: “Não ei de imaginar que o secretário Gustavo Rocha desdenha esse momento que tivemos ao telefone”. Ao ver o caldo ferver, o senador tentou contato novamente no início da tarde, mas, segundo ele, o secretário não mais o atendeu.

Dino afirmou não ter os meios ‘ideais’ para lidar com os ataques pela situação de anormalidade institucional.

Também em entrevista, o ministro da Justiça, Flávio Dino, do PSB, disse que devíamos agradecer a Deus por não termos repetido o que houve na invasão do Congresso dos EUA em janeiro de 2021, se referindo às cinco mortes ocorridas no Capitólio . Ao mesmo tempo, frisava ter agido com os meios disponíveis, embora eles não fossem os “ideais, por várias razões. Entre as quais, nós não estamos operando em uma situação de normalidade institucional”. Não aprendemos nada com o ocorrido nos EUA dois anos antes? Por que estamos seguindo o mesmo roteiro e falhando?

Na mesma coletiva, Andrei Rodrigues, delegado que comanda a Polícia Federal, disse que nos dias 6 e 7 se reuniu com autoridades do Distrito Federal, o que lhes deu “tranquilidade e segurança”, uma vez que, durante a cerimônia de posse, não houve problemas. A comparação é esdrúxula, uma vez que não havia manifestações bolsonaristas marcadas para tal data. O objetivo da reunião, onde havia secretários e representantes dos bombeiros, das polícias civil e militar, do Detran etc., era traçar um plano de segurança para os atos – que já estavam previstos.

Como então a PM, que esteve nessa reunião, escoltou os terroristas até o Planalto e os guiou dentro do palácio?

Quem mentiu? Quem omitiu informações? Onde houve falhas? Porque houve, várias, e precisamos entender onde, quando e como – e, principalmente, de quem é a responsabilidade pelo custo da destruição de nosso patrimônio e dos danos à nossa democracia.

O GSI, o Gabinete de Segurança Institucional da Presidência, órgão ao qual a Abin responde e que é responsável pela segurança do Planalto, dispensou reforço da guarda presidencial 20 horas antes da invasão. Curiosamente, ninguém do GSI esteve em entrevistas coletivas após os atos.

Por que a Abin demorou tanto a avisar os órgãos sobre movimentações atípicas? Onde esteve o ministro da Defesa, José Múcio Monteiro, responsável pelas Forças Armadas, cujos membros foram vistos entre os bárbaros e apoiando os golpistas?

Concordo com Rosana Pinheiro Machado: o fracasso do golpe não vai enfraquecer o movimento.

Os bolsonaristas Ibaneis e Torres sabiam da dimensão dos planos? Dino deveria ter confiado piamente que bolsonaristas enfrentariam seus parceiros? Porque o ministro assinou no sábado o decreto para a utilização da Força Nacional de Segurança para evitar protestos na Esplanada, mas não as acionou no domingo?

Passadas mais de 24 horas da quebradeira em Brasília, cerca de mil pessoas haviam sido presas. Quase metade delas foi solta por “razões humanitárias” logo em seguida. O grupo liberado era composto por mulheres, crianças e idosos.

Respostas precisam ser firmes

Além de afastar Ibaneis do cargo, o STF pediu a prisão de Anderson Torres e do ex-comandante da PMDF , coronel Fábio Augusto Vieira. O Ministério Público Federal pediu ao Supremo que Ibaneis, Torres, Augusto e Fernando Oliveira, secretário interino de Segurança Pública, sejam investigados em um novo inquérito para apurar omissões. A Marinha demitiu Vilmar José Fortuna, capitão que participou dos atos terroristas. Além disso, empresários do agronegócio, comerciantes e CACs foram identificados como financiadores dos golpistas.

Porém, ainda há mais perguntas que respostas diante desses crimes. Dino e Múcio saem arranhados desta situação.

Escrevi, ainda em 2022, uma coluna dizendo que atos terroristas seriam um enorme desafio no governo Lula. Queria muito estar errada, mas os fatos nos impõem a realidade. Lula e Flávio Dino estão enfrentando militares que não se atêm às suas funções constitucionais e PMs que flertam com o bolsonarismo radical. Exatamente por isso, me estranha muito essa confiança em bolsonaristas. O papel das polícias e das Forças Armadas precisa ser discutido com profundidade, e os organizadores e financiadores dos atos precisam ser exemplarmente punidos.

Dino escolheu um interventor que conhece pouco da dinâmica e as instituições policiais da segurança da capital federal. E o novo comandante da PMDF é o tipo de bolsonarista que chama pessoas de esquerda de “vermelhos”.

Dino disse na tal coletiva que tudo se “caminha para absoluta normalidade com muita velocidade”. Eu queria compartilhar dessa fé, mas tendo a concordar com a antropóloga e pesquisadora da extrema direita Rosana Pinheiro Machado , que diz não estar entre os analistas que acham que o fracasso do golpe vai enfraquecer o movimento. “Infelizmente, estou entre aquelas pessimistas (há dez anos e, infelizmente, com alguma razão) que acha que isso só fortaleceu. Como sempre, adoraria estar errada”.

Eu também.

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    Jim Jordan Is No Frank Church / TheIntercept · Thursday, 12 January - 20:00 · 7 minutes

(Original Caption) Washington, D. C.: Close up of Senator Frank Church during a session of the Senate Intelligence Committee on the CIA and deadly toxin stocks.

Sen. Frank Church during a session of the Senate Intelligence Committee on the CIA in 1975.

Photo: Bettmann Archive

In one of their very first steps since taking over the House of Representatives, House Republicans have created a special new panel to launch wide-ranging investigations into what they allege are the ways in which the federal government has abused the rights of conservatives.

But Republicans and right-wing pundits have already given up on its clumsy formal title — “ the Select Subcommittee on the Weaponization of the Federal Government ” — and are now simply calling it the new “Church Committee.” By doing so, they are explicitly comparing it to the historic Church Committee of the mid-1970s, which conducted landmark investigations of the CIA, the FBI, the NSA, and the rest of the intelligence community, none of which had previously been subject to real oversight.

The new “weaponization” subcommittee of the House Judiciary Committee will be chaired by Rep. Jim Jordan, a right-wing ally of former President Donald Trump, and has a much different objective than the original Church Committee: The panel is widely expected to become a pro-Trump star chamber, investigating the officials and organizations that have previously investigated Trump, including the FBI and the Justice Department.

The Jordan subcommittee also seems likely to investigate the House January 6 committee, which operated when the Democrats controlled the chamber — and referred Jordan to the House Ethics Committee for his involvement in Trump’s efforts to overturn the 2020 presidential election.

Jordan, who stuck by Rep. Kevin McCarthy during McCarthy’s marathon bid to become House speaker last week, is now being rewarded with the mandate and resources to conduct investigations into almost any corner of the government he chooses; those probes have the potential to make the Biden administration look bad or Trump look good. McCarthy has even authorized the subcommittee to examine ongoing criminal investigations, which the Justice Department will certainly oppose.

By calling their panel the new Church Committee, Jordan and the Republicans are trying to assume the mantle of one of the most iconic investigative committees in congressional history. (I’ve spent the last several years researching and writing a book about Sen. Frank Church and his eponymous panel, which will be published in May.)

“When you reach back in history and bring a phrase from the past to the present, you get to carry a meaning into contemporary time,” observed Stephanie Martin, the Frank and Bethine Church Endowed Chair of Public Affairs at Boise State University in Idaho, the native state of Sen. Church, the Democrat who chaired the original Church Committee. “By calling it the Church Committee,” she added, Republicans are appropriating the image “of effective change and effective oversight.”

But the differences between the Church Committee and Jordan’s new subcommittee are stark, observes Loch Johnson, who served as an aide to Church on the committee and later wrote a firsthand account of the committee’s work. “The Church Committee was strongly oriented toward following the documentary evidence that we were able to uncover,” says Johnson. “The inquiry was driven not by ideology, revenge, or anything else but the facts.” Today’s Republicans, he added, seem “motivated by ideology and a sense of grievance, starting with the ‘stolen election’ of 2020.”

Johnson and others argue that what the Republicans are creating is unlikely to be anything like the Church Committee, especially if, as seems almost certain, it descends into conspiracy theories about a mythical “deep state” that is out to get Trump and conservatives.

The existence of an anti-Trump “deep state” has become one of the most persistent conspiracy theories on the right and feeds into the anger and resentment against the government held by pro-Trump forces, including Jordan. Like all powerful and lasting conspiracy theories, it relies on some basic facts — but then turns reality on its head to reach a fantastical conclusion.

It is true that America is burdened with a sprawling and ever-growing military-industrial complex built on a network of relationships linking the Pentagon; the CIA; Homeland Security; defense, intelligence, and counterterrorism contractors; and many others in a powerful and partially hidden web that, over the past few decades, has pushed the nation into a period of nearly endless war. The traditional post-World War II military-industrial complex grew steadily for decades despite President Dwight Eisenhower’s famous warning about its rising power in his 1961 farewell address : “In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex.” Its power expanded exponentially after the September 11 attacks as counterterrorism and homeland security became big businesses, making it far more difficult for the United States to ever reduce its paranoia over the threat of terrorism.

But today’s combined military, intelligence, and counterterrorism complex is a capitalistic, pro-military center of gravity in American society. It is not anti-Trump or anti-conservative, and it is definitely not a secret political organization bent on imposing “woke” views on Americans.

In fact, it was the work of the Church Committee that helped ensure that the “deep state” is nothing more than a right-wing conspiracy theory today. In the first three decades after World War II, the U.S. intelligence community faced no real oversight or outside scrutiny, and as a result, the CIA, the FBI, and the NSA grew beyond presidents’ ability to control and became increasingly lawless. The reforms created as a result of the Church Committee helped to bring the intelligence community fully under the rule of law for the first time. By disclosing a series of shocking abuses of power, Frank Church and his committee created rules of the road for the intelligence community that largely remain in place today.

The Church Committee’s work represented a watershed moment in American history — which is why Republican are now so eager to co-opt its name. But there is no evidence that Jordan plans to follow the earlier panel’s serious and comprehensive approach. In fact, the involvement of Jordan and other House Republicans in Trump’s efforts to overturn the 2020 presidential election already constitutes an obvious conflict of interest. Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, the New York Democrat who is now House minority leader, tweeted that “extreme MAGA Republicans have established a Select Committee on Insurrection Protection.”

Rather than being a true heir to the Church Committee, Jordan’s subcommittee seems destined to follow the pattern of the Army-McCarthy hearings of 1954. Jordan and today’s Republicans are employing the same kind of resentment and grievances against “elites” that fueled Joseph McCarthy, and Jordan also seems destined to use some of McCarthy’s tactics, targeting individual officials to claim they are “woke” or part of the “deep state” — updated versions of McCarthy’s phraseology about “Communist subversion.” It’s no coincidence that Roy Cohn, who worked as chief counsel to McCarthy during the Army-McCarthy hearings, later became a key mentor to Trump in the work of launching vicious political attacks.

Previously an obscure back-bench Republican senator from Wisconsin, Joseph McCarthy surged to fame in 1950, when he falsely claimed in a speech in Wheeling, West Virginia, to have a list of Communists in the State Department, triggering a period of intense paranoia and witch hunting that is now known as the McCarthy era. After he became a committee chair in 1953, McCarthy switched his focus to the Army, with Cohn by his side.

By going after the State Department and then the Army, McCarthy took on two of the most important and tradition-bound institutions in the United States at the time. The State Department had not fought back successfully against McCarthy, but the Army did. After McCarthy charged Army leaders with ignoring evidence of Communist subversion at a military facility in New Jersey, the Army went on the attack, accusing McCarthy of seeking special treatment for David Schine, a McCarthy consultant and friend of Cohn’s. The charges and counter-charges ultimately led to a long-running series of nationally televised hearings that garnered huge audiences, pitting McCarthy and Cohn against Joseph Welch, an urbane outside lawyer brought in to represent the Army.

In a televised hearing on June 9, 1954, McCarthy and Welch engaged in a historic showdown, with Cohn looking on. Bitter at Welch, McCarthy publicly raised questions about the loyalty of Fred Fisher, a lawyer at Welch’s law firm. Welch’s devastating response — “Have you no sense of decency?” — has gone down in history as the moment McCarthy’s power was broken.

In December 1954, the Senate finally voted to censure McCarthy; by 1957, he was dead.

Does the shame that finally brought down McCarthy still have the power to curb Republican excesses? Johnson, Frank Church’s former aide, isn’t so sure.

“We’re headed for something that combines a witch hunt with a circus,” Johnson said, noting that the so-called new Church Committee “is likely to make the 1950s McCarthy hearings appear, in retrospect, rather benign.”

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