Diplomacy, State Dept. Exposed in 250,000+ Wikileaks Cable Dump

More than a quarter of a million diplomatic cables containing messages between the State department and embassies around the world have been released by Wikileaks.org.

The NYT: Manning

Some of the cables, made available to The New York Times and several other news organizations, were written as recently as late February, revealing the Obama administration’s exchanges over crises and conflicts. The material was originally obtained by WikiLeaks, an organization devoted to revealing secret documents. WikiLeaks posted 220 cables, some redacted to protect diplomatic sources, in the first installment of the archive on its Web site on Sunday.

The disclosure of the cables is sending shudders through the diplomatic establishment, and could strain relations with some countries, influencing international affairs in ways that are impossible to predict.

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and American ambassadors around the world have been contacting foreign officials in recent days to alert them to the expected disclosures. A statement from the White House on Sunday said: “We condemn in the strongest terms the unauthorized disclosure of classified documents and sensitive national security information.”

The White House said the release of what it called “stolen cables” to several publications was a “reckless and dangerous action” and warned that some cables, if released in full, could disrupt American operations abroad and put the work and even lives of confidential sources of American diplomats at risk. The statement noted that reports often include “candid and often incomplete information” whose disclosure could “deeply impact not only U.S. foreign policy interests, but those of our allies and friends around the world.”

The NYT has deeper details on a handful of the cables.

Here's a point-by-point guide from the BBC.

Ben Smith notes that the leaks went simultaneously to four European papers and the NYT:

The Times, Le Monde, and The Guardian led with the fact of the leaks and broke the details into separate stories, with the Times, El Pais, and the Guardian placing particular emphasis (at least at this hour) on the revelation that Secretary Clinton instructed diplomats to spy. Like The Guardian, Der Spiegel saw a "disaster" for American foreign policy, but also was quite excited about the German angle: Which politician said what to the American ambassador.

And El Pais was alone in taking something of a grand unified theory — and WikiLeaks' own take – from the release, in its deck: "The cables…reveal espionage, secret maneuvering, and corruption."

Gay private Bradley Manning remains the prime suspect in the Wikileaks data dump, which was allegedly transferred on CDs labeled "Lady Gaga":

"According to a computer chat log published in June by Wired News, soldier Bradley Manning bragged to Adrian Lamo, the hacker who turned him in, that he was going to unleash 'worldwide anarchy in CSV [comma separated value] format.' 'Hillary Clinton and several thousand diplomats around the world are going to have a heart attack when they wake up one morning and find an entire repository of classified foreign policy is available, in searchable format, to the public,' Manning said. 'Everywhere there's a US post, there's a diplomatic scandal that will be revealed.' Manning, 22, has been in solitary confinement for the past seven months."

More on Manning's troubled gay past here.

Check out a report on the release of the cables from Al Jazeera, AFTER THE JUMP

Towleroad News #gay

—  admin

Dept of Education moves to aggressively curb anti-LGBT bullying

Today the Department of Education is sending out a letter to 15,000 school districts, colleges and universities nationwide providing new guidance on schools’ obligations under the Title IX Education Amendments of 1972 with respect to how those obligations apply to sex discrimination and sexual harassment directed at students who are gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender.
In several cases over the last decade victims of anti-LGBT bullying have sued their schools over the discrimination and harassment they have suffered. The cases were the product of the intersection of two important Supreme Court cases from the late 1990’s: Davis v Monroe County Board of Education finding schools can be liable under Title IX for student on student harassment and Oncale v Sundowner Offshore Services finding sexual harassment can include harassment where the harasser and victim are of the same sex. Almost immediately, federal courts began finding some forms of discrimination and harassment of students by other students on the basis of actual or perceived sexual orientation can violate Title IX. See for example Montgomery v. Independent School District No. 709, Flores v Morgan Hill Unified School District, Theno v Tonganoxie Unified School District, Ray v Antioch Unified School District and Schroeder v Maumee Board of Education.

In 1998, before both Supreme Court cases, the Dept of Education’s Office of Civil Rights had already pursued action based on Title IX in the matter of a formal complaint against an Arkansas school filed by the parents of a student who suffered anti-LGBT bullying and harassment so severe, his parents removed him from school. As a result, the school district changed a number of their policies and was required to better train faculty and staff to address harassment and bullying in the future.

But with today’s action, the Department of Education is trying to make such policy improvements nationwide by reminding schools of their obligations under the law and stressing the potential negative consequences of ignoring it, which include loss of federal funding and liability for damages in a lawsuit. From the letter being sent out:

Title IX prohibits harassment of both male and female students regardless of the sex of the harasser-i.e., even if the harasser and target are members of the same sex. It also prohibits gender-based harassment, which may include acts of verbal, nonverbal, or physical aggression, intimidation, or hostility based on sex or sex-stereotyping. Thus, it can be sex discrimination if students are harassed either for exhibiting what is perceived as a stereotypical characteristic for their sex, or for failing to conform to stereotypical notions of masculinity and femininity. Title IX also prohibits sexual harassment and gender-based harassment of all students, regardless of the actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity of the harasser or target.

Although Title IX does not prohibit discrimination based solely on sexual orientation, Title IX does protect all students, including lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) students, from sex discrimination. When students are subjected to harassment on the basis of their LGBT status, they may also […] be subjected to forms of sex discrimination prohibited under Title IX. The fact that the harassment includes anti-LGBT comments or is partly based on the target’s actual or perceived sexual orientation does not relieve a school of its obligation under Title IX to investigate and remedy overlapping sexual harassment or gender-based harassment.

On Monday, the Department of Education announced the move and hosted a conference call with several members of the LGBT press.

Kerry Eleveld of the Advocate reports

“A lot of bullying experienced by LGBT kids is accompanied by or in the form of sexual harassment or gender-based harassment because students are perceived as not conforming to traditional gender roles,” explained the department’s assistant secretary for Civil Rights, Russlynn Ali. “We want to be sure that recipients understand that that kind of discrimination and harassment can very much be a violation of Title IX in federal civil rights laws.”

Institutions that receive complaints but fail to take action to protect students who are being unlawfully bullied or harassed could face legal action or financial penalties. Ali said those cases could be referred to the Department of Justice to go to court or they could result “in the withdrawal or termination or conditioning of all federal funds received from the Department of Education.”

Administration officials said the effort was a response to a rash of recent bullying episodes resulting in a series of suicides that have grabbed front-page headlines. Although DOE officials said 44 states have enacted basic anti-bullying laws, only 14 have laws protecting students on the basis of either their sexual orientation and gender identity, with another three protecting sexual orientation only according to the Human Rights Campaign.

Asst Secretary Ali stressed the importance and timing of the measure. In remarks reported by Dana Rudolph of Keen News Service, Ali said, “If students don’t feel safe in school, they simply cannot learn.”

Rudolph also noted “The U.S. Justice Department also intervened in January in the case of a New York teen who was bullied and physically hurt for being effeminate. Justice Department lawyers argued that the federal law against gender-based discrimination also applied to gender expression. In an out-of-court settlement, the school district agreed to pay the boy ,000, legal fees, and the cost of therapy.”

Asst Deputy Secretary for Safe and Drug-Free Schools, Kevin Jennings, said that resources for schools, students and parents would be available at the web site bullyinginfo.org. Twenty years ago, Jennings, a former educator, founded the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network, a group dedicated to addressing homophobia, discrimination and bullying in schools and a key resource for many student lead Gay Straight Alliances (GSAs) around the country that promote tolerance in schools. According to Eleveld, Jennings said the administration is trying to take a proactive role in protecting LGBTQ youth, especially in light of recent events:

“In this administration, we plan to apply the letter of the law to fullest extent of the law in order to extend the greatest level of protections humanly possible to LGBT students,” Jennings said.

There are currently two bills pending in Congress that are relevant to the topic of bullying of LGBTQ youth: the Safe Schools Improvement Act (SSIA) and the Student Non-Discrimination Act (SNDA) which is sponsored by openly gay Colorado U.S. Rep. Jared Polis. When asked by Chris Geidner of Metro Weekly whether the administration supports the bills, Asst Sec Ali responded, “We certainly support the goals of both Polis’s bill and the bill on safe and healthy schools,” but declined to give either an endorsement. “Today, though, is about using the tools at our disposal now.”

This is precisely the kind of move on LGBT issues the Administration has needed to make for a long time. Just two months ago, I said as much in a diary on Daily Kos on the administration’s lack of coherent messaging compounding a lack of sufficient action on the issues. Hopefully this won’t be the only “proactive” move the administration intends to make on LGBT issues. Several people on twitter late yesterday tweeted that a meeting would take place today between top White House officials and gay rights groups (used in plural, so hopefully that means more than just HRC is invited). Just yesterday, HRC President Joe Solmonese changed course and joined the growing chorus lead by GETEqual and Dan Choi calling for the President to drop the appeal of the DADT case and/or issues a stop loss order to halt DADT discharges. See indiemcemopants’ diary for more info on that “shocking” turn of events. Could we be in store for a new aggressive move to insure the authorization of a potential repeal of DADT in passed in Congress and some sort of plan B if attempts to pass the legislation in the National Defense Authorization Act fail? Stay tuned.
Pam’s House Blend – Front Page

—  admin

Obama admin statement – via the Dept of Education – about two of the rash of suicides

As we have been mulling about the silence by the White House about the rash of suicides today, it’s interesting to receive this in a late Friday afternoon dead drop.

Statement by U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan on the Recent Deaths of Two Young Men

U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan today released the following statement:

“This week, we sadly lost two young men who took their own lives for one unacceptable reason: they were being bullied and harassed because they were openly gay or believed to be gay. These unnecessary tragedies come on the heels of at least three other young people taking their own lives because the trauma of being bullied and harassed for their actual or perceived sexual orientation was too much to bear.

“This is a moment where every one of us – parents, teachers, students, elected officials, and all people of conscience – needs to stand up and speak out against intolerance in all its forms. Whether it’s students harassing other students because of ethnicity, disability or religion; or an adult, public official harassing the President of the University of Michigan student body because he is gay, it is time we as a country said enough. No more. This must stop.”

Michael Petrelis has been asking for statements from the admin. One from Kevin Jennings materialized:

From the Desk of Kevin Jennings

As is the case for most of those reading this message, I have been horrified by the recent media coverage of student suicides prompted by bullying. I am fortunate to have a boss who is just as horrified and today made the below statement.

I hope each of you will consider ways you can help bring bullying to an end and urge you to check out www.bullyinginfo.org for useful resources in so doing.


“His boss” being Arne Duncan. He’s put in a request to see if the LGBT liaison, Brian Bond in the Office of Public Engagement has any comment on the issue. I’ll keep you updated if a statement surfaces.

Then I received a press release entitled “ACF awards grants to reduce long-term foster care” from the WH Communications Office that seemed a weird one-off to stem the criticism that the Obama admin “doesn’t care.” This passage was highlighted in the email:

Los Angeles Gay and Lesbian Community Services Center, which will create a county-wide system of care to address barriers to permanency and well-being for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning children and youth that are in or at-risk of placement in foster care, placement in the juvenile justice system, or homelessness.

You can read the full release about the LA award below the fold.

It’s really not about whether the administration cares; it’s about leadership and recognizing a crisis that concerns families across the country. When the rash of school shootings, including the tragedy at Columbine, it seemed every elected official had something to say, legislation to consider, and outreach to discuss the breakdown that caused them. Any WH, not just the Obama admin, has to consider that it has a role to play to reassure families that it is listening. Silence is not good for PR or for leadership.

Anyway, do you all have any thoughts about these statements from the administration departments?

HHS Awards Landmark .3 Million Grant to Fund L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center’s

Development of Model Program to Serve LGBTQ Foster Youth

LOS ANGELES, Oct. 1, 2010-Today the L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center was awarded a landmark .3 million, five-year grant from the Federal Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) Administration on Children, Youth and Families to create a model program that will provide life-saving support for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning (LGBTQ) youth in the foster care system.  Following a highly competitive review process, six grants were awarded-the Center’s grant is the only one specifically to support LGBTQ youth and the only grant that did not go to a government agency or academic institution.  It’s also the largest federal grant ever awarded to an LGBT organization.

The need for services for LGBT youth in foster care is dire.  According to a 2001 (Feinstein) study, 78% of LGBTQ foster youth were forced to leave their foster placements due to hostility related to their sexual orientation or gender identity.  In a 2001 study from the National Center for Lesbian Rights, 70% reported physical violence and 100% reported harassment in their group home.  Gay and Lesbian Adolescent Social Services (GLASS), the only group home for LGBTQ foster youth in Los Angeles, closed its doors in 2008 (with its displaced residents turning to the Center for much-needed support).

“LGBTQ youth who aren’t living on the streets because of a hostile home environment are often in the foster care system,” said Lorri L. Jean, chief executive officer of the L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center.  “Many are rejected by foster parents and move from home to home or are considered unadoptable and live in overburdened group homes.  In either case, they’re more likely to turn to turn to drugs and crime, engage in unprotected sex, or commit suicide-and when they age out of the system at 18, they’re coming to us homeless.  This landmark grant will fund the development of a much-needed, model program to protect the health and well-being of LGBTQ foster youth-a program that will save lives, save taxpayer dollars, and could be replicated in cities around the country.”

By developing and leading a 19 organization collaborative that will include foster care agencies, researchers and government departments, the L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center will create a comprehensive system of  care to help LGBTQ youth stay in school, and in homes where they feel safe and welcomed, until adulthood.  The collaborative will include: foster care agencies, researchers, Parents, Families & Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG), the Los Angeles Unified School District and government agencies, including: Los Angeles County’s departments of Children and Family Services, Mental Health, Probation and Juvenile Court.

“The public systems across the country that are charged with the care and well-being of children and adolescents have largely been unresponsive or slow to acknowledge the needs of LGBTQ youth, and in some cases even hostile” said L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center Chief of Staff Darrel Cummings, who led the team that developed the grant proposal.  “As a result, these systems deliver misguided, uninformed, and ultimately second-class care that harms LGBTQ youth in their custody.  All too often they’re housed in isolation ‘for their own safety,’ blamed for being harassed because they’re open about their sexual orientation or gender identity, or disciplined for engaging in age-appropriate conduct that would not be punishable were it between youth of different sexes.  It’s the system that’s harming them and we’ve got to change that.”

Key features of the program will include research, evaluation and documentation.   “We will be recording, studying, and analyzing the program carefully,” said Cummings.  “We want to know what works for our youth and when we learn it, we will document the success so that our program can be duplicated around the country.”

The Center’s proposal to HHS was enthusiastically endorsed by: the Los Angeles Juvenile Court, the Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health, County of Los Angeles Probation Department, Los Angeles Department of Children and Family Services, Los Angeles County Supervisor Zev Yaraslovsky and Hathaway-Sycamore Child and Family Services.

The L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center is a national leader in serving and advocating for LGBTQ youth.  In addition to a 24-bed transitional living program, where homeless youth (ages 18-24) can live for up to 18 months while developing the skills and resources to live independently, the Center operates the Jeff Griffith Youth Center, which provides meals, emergency beds, clothing, counseling and support services to youth seven days a week.   And to support the healthy development of LGBTQ youth, the Center’s LifeWorks program offers: mentoring by specially trained adults, peer-support programs, college scholarships, social activities and much more.

Pam’s House Blend – Front Page

—  John Wright