Archive | June 10th, 2014

Hillary Clinton and the Weaponization of the State Department

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In May 23, 2012, then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton went to the Special Operations Forces Industry Conference (SOFIC) trade show in Tampa, Florida to share her vision of smart power and to explain the State Department’s crucial role in extending the reach and efficacy of America’s growing “international counterterrorism network.”

First, there is such a thing as a “Special Operations Forces Industry Conference trade show.” Without some keen reporting by David Axe of Wired, that peculiar get-together might’ve flown completely under the radar—much like the shadowy “industry” it both supports and feeds off of like a sleek, camouflaged lamprey attached to a taxpayer-fattened shark.

Second, “special operations” have officially metastasized into a full-fledged industry. United States Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) is located at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa and, therefore, conveniently located near the special operations trade show, which happened again this yearat the Tampa Convention Center. The theme was “Strengthening the Global SOF Network” and the 600,000-square-foot facility was filled with targets of opportunity for well-connected and well-heeled defense contractors.

According to the SOFIC website, this year’s conference afforded attendees “the opportunity to engage with USSOCOM Program Executive Officers, Science and Technology Managers, Office of Small Business Programs and Technology & Industry Liaison Office representatives, and other acquisition experts who will identify top priorities, business opportunities, and interests as they relate to USSOCOM acquisition programs.”

Third, Hillary’s widely-ignored speech marked a radical departure from the widely-held perception that the State Department’s diplomatic mission endures as an institutional alternative to the Pentagon’s military planning. Instead, Secretary Clinton celebrated the transformation of Foggy Bottom into a full partner with the Pentagon’s ever-widening effortsaround the globe, touting both the role of diplomats in paving the way for shadowy special ops in so-called “hot spots” and the State Department’s “hand-in-glove” coordination with Special Forces in places like Pakistan and Yemen.

Finally, with little fanfare or coverage, America’s lead diplomat stood before the shadow war industry and itemized the integration of the State Department’s planning and personnel with the Pentagon’s global counter-terrorism campaign which, she told the special operations industry, happen “in one form or another in more than 100 countries around the world.”

If this isn’t entirely unexpected, consider the fact that under then-Secretaries of State Colin Powell and Condoleezza Rice, the State Department fought attempts by the Pentagon to trump its authority around the globe and, as reported by Washington Post, “repeatedly blocked Pentagon efforts to send Special Operations forces into countries surreptitiously and without ambassadors’ formal approval.”

But that was before Hillary brought her “fast and flexible” doctrine of “smart power” to Foggy Bottom and, according to her remarks, before she applied lessons learned from her time on the Senate Armed Services Committee to launch the first-ever Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review, which she modeled on the Pentagon’s Quadrennial Defense Review. That Pentagon-style review spurred the creation of the Bureau of Conflict and Stabilization Operations to “advance the U.S. government’s foreign policy goals in conflict areas.”

According to a Congressional Research Service analysis, the initial intent of the Conflict Bureau was to replace the ineffectual Office of the Coordinator of Reconstruction and Stabilization, which was created in 2004 to help manage “stabilization” efforts in two nations the U.S. was actively destabilizing—Afghanistan and Iraq.

But the new, improved bureau does more than just react to messes made by unlawful invasions or direct costly remediation efforts in war zones—it also collaborates with “relevant partners” in the Department of Defense and NATO “to harmonize civilian and military plans and operations pertaining to conflict prevention, crisis response, and stabilization.”

This integrated relationship between State and Defense was confirmed by U.S. Special Operations chief Admiral William McRaven shortly after Hillary’s speech. When asked about the “unlikely partnership,” McRaven assured DefenseNews that SOCOM has “an absolutely magnificent relationship with the State Department” and that SOCOM doesn’t “do anything that isn’t absolutely fully coordinated and approved by the U.S. ambassador and the geographic combatant commander.”

As David Axe aptly described it in Wired, “Together, Special Operations Forces and State’s new Conflict Bureau are the twin arms of an expanding institution for waging small, low-intensity shadow wars all over the world.”

In fact, during Hillary’s time as America’s chief diplomat, the State Department embraced the shadowy edge of U.S. foreign policy where decision-makers engage in activities that look like war, sound like war and, if you were to ask civilians in places like Yemen and Pakistan, feel a lot like war, but never quite have to meet the Constitutional requirement of being officially declared as war.

The Whole-of-Government Shift

Once upon a time, “low-intensity shadow wars” were the Congressionally-regulated bailiwick of the Central Intelligence Agency. But 9/11 changed everything. However, the excesses of the Bush Administration led many to hope that Obama could and would change everything back or, at least, relax America’s tense embrace of “the dark side.”

Although the new administration did officially re-brand “The War on Terror” as “Overseas Contingency Operations,” Team Obama employed an increasingly elastic interpretation of the 9/11-inspired Authorization for Use of Military Force and expanded covert ops, special ops, drone strikes and regime change to peoples and places well-beyond the law’s original intent, and certainly beyond the limited scope of CIA covert action.

Obama’s growing counter-terrorism campaign—involving, as Secretary Clinton said, “more than 100 countries”—took flight with a new, ecumenical approach called the “Whole-of-Government” strategy. Advanced by then-Secretary of Defense Bill Gates and quickly adopted by the new administration in early 2009, this strategy catalyzed an institutional shift toward interagency cooperation, particularly in the case of “state-building” (a.k.a. “nation building”).

During remarks to the Brookings Institution in 2010, Secretary Clinton explained the shift: “One of our goals coming into the administration was…to begin to make the case that defense, diplomacy and development were not separate entities, either in substance or process, but that indeed they had to be viewed as part of an integrated whole and that the whole of government then had to be enlisted in their pursuit.”

Essentially, the Whole-of-Government approach is a re-branded and expanded version of Pentagon’s doctrine of “Full-Spectrum Dominance.” Coincidentally, that strategy was featured in the Clinton Administration’s final Annual Report to the President and Congress in 2001. It defined “Full-Spectrum Dominance” as “an ability to conduct prompt, sustained, and synchronized operations with forces tailored to specific situations and possessing freedom to operate in all domains—space, sea, land, air, and information.”

In 2001, Full-Spectrum Dominance referred specifically to 20th Century notions of battlefield-style conflicts. But the “dark side” of the War on Terror stretched the idea of the battlefield well-beyond symmetrical military engagements. “Irregular warfare” became the catchphrasedu jour, particularly as grinding campaigns in Afghanistan and Iraq exposed the reality that the full spectrum still wasn’t enough.

An assessment by the Congressional Research Service identified the primary impetus for the Whole-of-Government “reforms” embraced by Team Obama as the “perceived deficiencies of previous interagency missions” during the military campaigns in Afghanistan and Iraq. Those missions failed to address a myriad of problems created—culturally, economically and politically—by the wholesale bombing and occupation of those countries. The Full-Spectrum was half-baked. Lesson learned.

But the lesson wasn’t that the U.S. should avoid intervention, regime change or unleashing nascent civil, ethnic or religious conflicts. Instead, the lesson was that the “Whole-of-Government” must be marshaled to fight a worldwide array of Overseas Contingency Operations in “more than 100 countries.”

This Whole-of-Government shift signaled a renewed willingness to engage on variety of new fronts—particularly in Africa—but in a “fast and flexible” way. With other agencies—like the State Department—integrated and, in effect, fronting the counter-terrorism campaign, themilitary footprint becomes smaller and, therefore, easier to manage locally, domestically and internationally.

In some ways, the Whole-of-Government national security strategy is plausible deniability writ-large through the cover of interagency integration. By merging harder-to-justify military and covert actions into a larger, civilian-themed command structure, the impact of the national security policy overseas is hidden—or at least obfuscated—by the diplomatic “stabilization” efforts run through the State Department—whether it’s the Conflict Bureau working against Joseph Kony’s Lord’s Resistance Army in Central Africa, “stabilizing” post-Gaddafi Libya or spending $27 million to organize the opposition to Bashar al-Assad’s Syrian regime.

The Pass Key

The cover of diplomacy has traditionally been an effective way to slip covert operators into countries and the State Department’s vast network of embassies and consulates still offers an unparalleled “pass-key” into sovereign nations, emerging hot spots and potential targets for regime change. In 2001, the Annual Report to the President and Congress foresaw the need for more access: “Given the global nature of our interests and obligations, the United States must maintain the ability to rapidly project power worldwide in order to achieve full-spectrum dominance.”

Having the way “pre-paved” is, based on Hillary’s doctrinal shift at State, a key part of the new, fuller-spectrum, Whole-of-Government, mission-integrated version of diplomacy. At the SOFIC’s Special Operations Gala Dinner in 2012, Hillary celebrated the integration of diplomatic personnel and Special Operations military units at the State Department’s recently created Center for Strategic Counterterrorism Communications—a “nerve center in Washington” that coordinates “military and civilian teams around the world” and serves “as a force multiplier for our embassies’ communications efforts.”

As with most doors in Washington, that relationship swings both ways and mission-integrated embassies have served as an effective force multiplier for the Pentagon’s full spectrum of activities, particularly around Africa.

In his 2011 testimony before the House Foreign Affairs Committee Subcommittee on Africa, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Don Yamamoto noted the “significantly expanded the number of DoD personnel who are integrated into embassies across the continent over the past three years,” and read a surprisingly long laundry list of collaborative efforts between State and the United States Africa Command (AFRICOM), including: “reduction of excess and poorly secured man-portable air defense systems (MANPADS); Defense Sector Reform in Liberia, DRC, and South Sudan; counterpiracy activities off the Somali coast; maritime safety and security capacity building; and civil-military cooperation.”

It seems that “civil-military cooperation” is a primary focus of the State Department in Africa. Most notably, Yamamoto told Congress that “embassies implement Department of State-funded Foreign Military Financing (FMF) and International Military Education and Training (IMET) programs, which further U.S. interests in Africa by helping to professionalize African militaries, while also assisting our African partners to be more equipped and trained to work toward common security goals.”

As the ever-vigilant Nick Turse recently reported, U.S. presence on the continent has only grown since that testimony was given in 2011. On TomDispatch.com, Turse identified the infamous attack on Benghazi on September 11, 2012 as the catalyst for “Operation New Normal”—the continent-wide response to, quite ironically, the political potboiler still simmering around Secretary Clinton. Whether or not Congressional Republicans find anything more than incompetence at the root of Benghazi, the U.S. military certainly finds itself in a “new normal” of increased activity in response to the forces—and the weaponry—unleashed by U.S.-led regime change in Libya. According to Turse, the U.S. is “now conductingoperations alongside almost every African military in almost every African country andaveraging more than a mission a day.”

Those missions are, of course, integrated with and augmented by the State Department’s Conflict Bureau which has used a variety of state-building programs and its diplomatic “pass key” in places like LibyaNigeriaKenyaSouth SudanSomaliaDemocratic Republic of the Congo and six other African nations, all to develop a growing roster of “host country partners.”

Establishing “host country partners” is the nexus where the State Department, its Conflict Bureau and the AFRICOM meet—implementing the Whole-of-Government strategy in emerging or current conflict zones to fuse a mounting counter-terrorism campaign with stabilization, modernization and state-building initiatives, particularly in oil and resource-rich areas like the Niger River Delta, Central Africa and around AFRICOM’s military foothold on the Horn of Africa.

As Richard J. Wilhelma Senior Vice President with defense and intelligence contracting giant Booz Allen Hamilton, pointed out in a video talk about “mission integration,” AFRICOM’s coordination with the Departments of State and Commerce, USAID is the “most striking example of the Whole-of-Government approach.”

And this is exactly the type of “hand-in-glove” relationship Secretary Clinton fosteredthroughout her tenure at State, leveraging the resources of the department in a growing list of conflict areas where insurgents, terrorists, al-Qaeda affiliates, suspected militants or uncooperative regimes threaten to run afoul of so-called “U.S. interests”.

Ultimately, it became a hand-in-pocket relationship when Clinton and Defense Secretary Gates developed the Global Security Contingency Fund (GSCF) to “incentivize joint planning and to pool the resources of the Departments of State and Defense, along with the expertise of other departments, to provide security sector assistance for partner countries so they can address emergent challenges and opportunities important to U.S. national security.”

Although he’s been criticized as feckless and deemed less hawkish than Secretary Clinton, President Obama’s newly-proposed Counterterrorism Partnership Fund (CTPF) is the logical extension of the Clinton-Gates Global Security Contingency Fund and epitomizes the Whole-of-Government shift.

The $5 billion Obama wants will dwarf the $250 million pooled into the GSCF and will, thePresident said at West Point, “give us flexibility to fulfill different missions including training security forces in Yemen who have gone on the offensive against al Qaeda; supporting a multinational force to keep the peace in Somalia; working with European allies to train a functioning security force and border patrol in Libya; and facilitating French operations in Mali.”

That “flexibility” is exactly what Hillary Clinton instituted at State and touted at the SOFIC conference in 2012. It also portends a long-term shift to less invasive forms of regime change like those in YemenLibyaSyria and Ukraine, and an increased mission flexibility that will make the Authorization for the Use of Military Force functionally irrelevant.

Normalizing the War on Terror

The ultimate outcome of this shift is, to borrow from Nick Turse, yet another “new normal”—the new normalization of the War on Terror. What the adoption of the Whole-of-Government/mission integration approach has done is to normalize the implementation of the re-branded War on Terror (a.k.a. Overseas Contingency Operations) across key agencies of the government and masked it, for lack of the better term, under the rubric of stabilization, development and democracy building.

It is, in effect, the return of a key Cold War policy of “regime support” for clients and “regime change” for non-client states, particularly in strategically-located areas and resource-rich regions. Regimes—whether or not they actually “reflect American values”—can count on U.S. financial, military and mission-integrated diplomatic support so long as they can claim to be endangered…not by communists, but by terrorists.

And because terrorism is a tactic—not a political system or a regime—the shadowy, State Department-assisted Special Ops industry that fights them will, unlike the sullen enthusiasts of the Cold War, never be bereft of an enemy.

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‘Mass Surveillance at Its Most Severe’: Mobile Phone Giant Reveals Direct Govt Wiretapping

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Vodafone disclosure report states that some countries need no warrant to wiretap because they’ve already got direct access.
– Andrea Germanos

A Vodafone store in London. (Photo: thebigbluebox/cc/flickr)Mobile phone giant Vodafone revealed Friday that in some countries where it operates, governments have a direct and permanent link to their customers’ communications, allowing them “unfettered access” that allows for “uncontrolled mass surveillance.”

The UK-headquartered company made that information public in its first Law Enforcement Disclosure Report.

While stating that it respects its users’ right to privacy, the company adds that “in every country in which we operate, we have to abide by the laws of those countries which require us to disclose information about our customers to law enforcement agencies or other government authorities, or to block or restrict access to certain services.”

The report reveals 29 countries whose governments requested user data between 1 April 2013 and 31 March 2014, though Vodafone is prevented by law from revealing the number of such requests for some of those countries. The government requests could come in the form of wiretapping, also known as “lawful interception,” which Vodafone’s report calls “one of the most intrusive forms of law enforcement assistance.” The demands could also be for “communications data,” or metadata.

Yet in some of those 29 other countries, no such government demand is needed because the government already has direct, permanent access to customer data. From the disclosure report:

In most countries, Vodafone maintains full operational control over the technical infrastructure used to enable lawful interception upon receipt of an agency or authority demand. However, in a small number of countries the law dictates that specific agencies and authorities must have direct access to an operator’s network, bypassing any form of operational control over lawful interception on the part of the operator. In those countries, Vodafone will not receive any form of demand for lawful interception access as the relevant agencies and authorities already have permanent access to customer communications via their own direct link.

Reuters and BBC News report that the “small number” of unnamed counties where this kind of state surveillance occurs is six.

This “may be the most alarming piece of the report,” Gus Hosein, executive director of Privacy International, wrote at the organization’s website. “This type of unfettered access permits uncontrolled mass surveillance of Vodafone’s customers and anyone in contact with them.”

“This is mass surveillance at its most severe,” he continues, “where government places demands against telcos for broad access to the data flowing through their wires, operating in secrecy, under unclear legal bases, without any accountability.”

“We have learned from Mr. Snowden that governments see us not as people, but as objects to be monitored, tracked, and profiled. There is so much more to do,” Hosein writes.

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In Light of Continued Salaries Crisis in the Gaza Strip

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PCHR Demands Opening Gaza Banks Immediately and Calls upon the Parties to Crisis to Contain Its Implications

 

The Palestinian Center for Human rights (PCHR) is deeply concerned over the continued closure of the banks in the Gaza Strip for 6 days as the former Gaza government employees prevented the Palestinian Authority (PA) employees from receiving their salaries in protest against the non-payment of their salaries by the new national consensus government resulted from the Palestinian reconciliation.  On Wednesday, 04 June 2014, violence erupted and the PA employees were denied access to the banks and ATMs.  The Palestinian police then intervened and beat a number of them.

PCHR warns of the disastrous impacts left by the closure of the banks on the Gaza Strip’s economic situation, which has been already deteriorating due to the collective punishment and closure policy imposed by the Israeli forces on the Gaza Strip for 7 years.  All financial transactions through the banks have been suspended threatening the economic sectors to be paralyzed.  This also portends more suffering not only to the public employees but to all citizens, especially the poor ones, including thousands of families of the deceased and wounded as well as socially insecure persons as they are not able to obtain the financial allocations they receive monthly or regularly.

In light of the continuation of this crisis without any close possible solutions threatening the future of the Palestinian reconciliation and putting it in front of a serious challenge in its beginning, PCHR:

  • ·         Emphasizes that the crisis of salaries is a completely political crisis and that the solution to this crisis must be one of the key priorities of the Palestinian President, Hamas and Fatah movements as well as the new Palestinian government.  All efforts must be devoted to ensure the payment of the salaries to all the public employees on the basis of recognizing the right of each government employee to receive his/her salary regularly and systematically, without prejudice or discrimination based on political affiliations or other grounds.  PCHR calls upon the Prime Minister to contain the crisis and reassure the PA employees, including the former Gaza government employees whose problem was agreed to be solved.
  • ·         Expresses its deep concern over the deterioration of economic and social conditions due to the suspension of the banking activities and warns of further deterioration to these conditions as thousands of families in the Gaza Strip have become without any source of income that provides them with their needs of food, clothes and other necessary needs.  Moreover, this situation threatens the future of the Palestinian reconciliation.
  • ·         Condemns the violence acts which accompanied the crisis and demands conducting an investigation into them.  During those violence acts, many persons, including women and journalists, were beaten up by the police officers.  PCHR demands taking all legal measures against whoever violated the law.  Respecting human rights must be the ultimate goals of law enforcement.
  • ·         Stresses the role of the Palestinian police and security services, which are considered as law enforcement bodies, to promote the principle of the rule of law, maintain the public order and protect the safety and security of civilians and public and private property, including banks and ATMs.  The role of the law enforcement officials is to open the Gaza banks immediately and facilitate their work as well as protecting civilians and enabling them to have safe access into them.  The continued closure of the banks constitutes a dangerous precedent that must be ended.  Moreover, banks must not be involved in the problems resulting from the reconciliation issue or the division remnants.
  • ·         Points out that this is the first problem since the beginning of the reconciliation and the formation of the national consensus government, but it will not be the last one.  The reconciliation has been established on the basis of consensus and both parties should provide compromises for the public interest.  This is the spirit that must prevail and which we expect from both parties.

 

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NSA Whistleblower: Snowden Never Had Access to the “Juiciest” Intelligence Documents

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Global Research

NSA whistleblower Russel Tice was a key source in the 2005 New York Times report that blew the lid off the Bush administration’s use of warrantless wiretapping.

Tice told PBS and other media that the NSA is spying on – and blackmailing – top government officials and military officers, including Supreme Court Justices, highly-ranked generals, Colin Powell and other State Department personnel, and many other top officials:

He says the NSA started spying on President Obama when he was a candidate for Senate:
Many of Tice’s allegations have been confirmed by other government whistleblowers. And see this.Washington’s Blog called Tice to find out more about what he saw when he was at NSA.

RUSSELL TICE: We now know that NSA was wiretapping [Senator] Frank Church and another Senator. [That has been confirmed.]

And that got out by accident. All the information the NSA had back then – and probably many other senators and important people too, back in the 70s – they shredded and they destroyed all of that evidence. As much as they could find, they destroyed it all. By accident, something popped up 40 years later.

And, in fact, they were asked 40 years ago whether NSA had bugged Congress. And, of course, they lied. They lied through their teeth.

NSA Has Hidden Its Most Radical Surveillance Operations … Even from People Like Snowden Who Had General “Code Word” Clearance

WASHINGTON’S BLOG: Glenn Greenwald – supposedly, in the next couple of days or weeks – is going to disclose, based on NSA documents leaked by Snowden, that the NSA is spying on all sorts of normal Americans … and that the spying is really to crush dissent. [Background herehere and here.]

Does Snowden even have documents which contain the information which you’ve seen?

RUSSELL TICE: The answer is no.

WASHINGTON’S BLOG: So you saw handwritten notes. And what Snowden was seeing were electronic files … ?

RUSSELL TICE: Think of it this way. Remember I told you about the NSA doing everything they could to make sure that the information from 40 years ago – from spying on Frank Church and Lord knows how many other Congressman that they were spying on – was hidden?

Now do you think they’re going to put that information into Powerpoint slides that are easy to explain to everybody what they’re doing?

They would not even put their own NSA designators on the reports [so that no one would know that] it came from the NSA. They made the reports look like they were Humint (human intelligence) reports. They did it to hide the fact that they were NSA and they were doing the collection. That’s 40 years ago. [The NSA and other agencies are still doing “parallel construction”, “laundering” information to hide the fact that the information is actually from mass NSA surveillance.]

Now, what NSA is doing right now is that they’re taking the information and they’re putting it in a much higher security level. It’s called “ECI” – Exceptionally Controlled Information – and it’s called the black program … which I was a specialist in, by the way.

I specialized in black world – DOD and IC (Intelligence Community) – programs, operations and missions … in “VRKs”, “ECIs”, and “SAPs”, “STOs”. SAP equals Special Access Program. It’s highly unlikely Mr. Snowden had any access to these. STO equals Special Technical Operations It’s highly unlikely Mr. Snowden had any access to these.

Now in that world – the ECI/VRK world – everything in that system is classified at a higher level and it has itsown computer systems that house it. It’s totally separate than the system which Mr. Snowden was privy to, which was called the “JWICS”: Joint Worldwide Intelligence Communications System. The JWICS system is what everybody at NSA has access to. Mr Snowden had Sys Admin [systems administrator] authority for the JWICS.

And you still have to have TS/SCI clearance [i.e. Top Secret/ Sensitive Compartmented Information – also known as “code word” – clearance] to get on the JWICS. But the ECI/VRK systems are much higher [levels of special compartmentalized clearance] than the JWICS. And you have to be in the black world to get that [clearance].

ECI = Exceptionally Controlled Information. I do not believe Mr. Snowden had any access to these ECI controlled networks). VRK = Very Restricted Knowledge. I do not believe Mr. Snowden had any access to these VRK controlled networks.

These programs typically have, at the least, a requirement of 100 year or until death, ’till the person first being “read in” [i.e. sworn to secrecy as part of access to the higher classification program] can talk about them. [As an interesting sidenote, the Washington Times reported in 2006 that – when Tice offered to testify to Congress about this illegal spying – he was informed by the NSA that the Senate and House intelligence committees were not cleared to hear such information.]

It’s very compartmentalized and – even with stuff that they had – you might have something at NSA, that there’s literally 40 people at NSA that know that it’s going on in the entire agency.

When the stuff came out in the New York Times [the first big spying story, which broke in 2005] – and I was a source of information for the New York Times – that’s when President Bush made up that nonsense about the “terrorist surveillance program.” By the way, that never existed. That was made up.

There was no such thing beforehand. It was made up … to try to placate the American people.

The NSA IG (Inspector General) – who was not cleared for this – all of a sudden is told he has to do an investigation on this; something he has no information or knowledge of.

So what they did, is they took a few documents and they downgraded [he classification level of the documents] – just a few – and gave them to them to placate this basic whitewash investigation.

Snowden’s Failure To Understand the Most Important Documents

RUSSELL TICE: Now, if Mr. Snowden were to find the crossover, it would be those documents that were downgraded to the NSA’s IG.

The stuff that I saw looked like a bunch of alphanumeric gobbledygook. Unless you have an analyst to know what to look for – and believe me, I think that what Snowden’s done is great – he’s not an intelligence analyst. So he would see something like that, and he wouldn’t know what he’s looking at.

But that would be “the jewels”. And the key is, you wouldn’t know it’s the jewels unless you were a diamond miner and you knew what to look for. Because otherwise, there’s a big lump of rock and you don’t know there’s a diamond in there.

I worked special programs. And the way I found out is that I was working on a special operation, and I needed information from NSA … from another unit. And when I went to that unit and I said “I need this information”, and I dealt with [satellite spy operations], and I did that in the black world. I was a special operations officer. I would literally go do special missions that were in the black world where I would travel overseas and do spooky stuff.

Cheney Was Running the Show

WASHINGTON’S BLOG: You said in one of your interviews that Dick Cheney ordered the intercepts that you found in the burn bags [the bags of documents which were slated to be destroyed because they were so sensitive].

Is that right … and if so, how do you know that?

RUSSELL TICE: I did not know one way or the other until I talked to a very senior person at NSA who – much later – wanted to have a meeting with me. And we had a covert, clandestine style meeting. And that’s when this individual told me that the whole thing was being directed and was coming from the vice president’s office … Cheney, through his lawyer David Addington.

WASHINGTON’S BLOG: It sounds like it wasn’t going through normal routes? It’s not like Cheney or Addington made formal requests to the NSA … through normal means?

RUSSELL TICE: No, not normal at all. All on the sly … all “sneaky pete” under the table, in the evening when most NSA employees are gone for the day. This is all being done in the evenings … between like 7 [at night] and midnight.

NSA Is Spying On CONTENT as Well as Metadata

WASHINGTON’S BLOG: And from what you and others have said, it’s content as well as metadata?

RUSSELL TICE: Of course it is. Of course. [Background. But see this.]

NSA Spying On Journalists, Congress, Admirals, Lawyers …

RUSSELL TICE: In 2009, I told [reporters] that they were going after journalists and news organizations and reporters and such.

I never read text of Congressman’s conversations. What I had was information – sometimes hand-written – of phone numbers of Congressmen, their wives, their children, their staffers, their home numbers, their cellphone numbers, their phone numbers of their residence back in Oregon or whatever state they’re from, and their little offices back in their state.

Or an Admiral and his wife, and his kids and his staffers …

The main thing I saw more than anything else were lawyers and law firms. I saw more lawyers or law firms being wiretapped than anything else.

These are the phone numbers I saw written. And then I would see those numbers incorporated into those lists with the columns of information about the phone number, and the serial number and the banks of recorders and digital converters and the data storage devices. I could see handwritten phone numbers and notes, sometimes with names, sometimes not.

Snowden and Greenwald’s Whistleblowing Was Done In the Right Way

RUSSELL TICE: If Mr. Snowden would have had access to VRK, ECI, SAP, STO (and a few others that I will not mention here), and he released them en masse to the press, I would volunteer to shoot him as a traitormyself.

But this is not what he did.

He gave up JWICS info that he insisted be vetted for sources and methods, and true damage to national security. Mr. Greenwald and company should be congratulated on the restraint that they have shown with the JWICS documentation that they have in hand via Mr. Snowden.

Postscript: When Tice started blowing the whistle on NSA mass surveillance in the early 2000s, the NSA all of a sudden decided that Tice was “crazy”. As Tice told us:

For many years, I was the only NSA whistleblower in public.

And what they did is call me in – 9 months after my routine psychological evaluation – which I passed with flying colors, like every other one I’ve had in my entire career, passed with flying colors.

They called me in for an “emergency” psychological evaluation, and they declared me nuts.

I am a fairly good judge of character, and I found Tice to be humorous, self-deprecating in a healthy and light-hearted way, and consistent on the facts. Tice talked about how he was a pretty darn good football player in junior college, but no star athlete. He talked about how one reporter tried to make him out to be James Bond with leading man looks, and he thought that was ridiculous. We shared some normal “guy talk” about women. Tice has a little anger at the way the NSA tried to whitewash the mass surveillance that he uncovered (wouldn’t you be?), but he wasn’t enraged or over-the-top. Tice is also a patriotic American, not a subversive. Specifically, we spent a long time talking about the importance of the Constitution and the rule of law. In other words, Tice seems “oriented to reality”, completely sane, normal, ethical and bright to me.

And the following facts are more important than my personal impression:

Given the way that the NSA has been repeatedly caught in lies about its surveillance programs – and the way that it has attacked whisteblowers – I believe Tice over the NSA.

Posted in USAComments Off on NSA Whistleblower: Snowden Never Had Access to the “Juiciest” Intelligence Documents

The Endless Invasion of America

NOVANEWS
By Patrick J. Buchanan

For 10 days, Americans have argued over the wisdom of trading five Taliban senior commanders for Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl.

President Obama handed the Taliban a victory, critics contend, and imperiled U.S. troops in Afghanistan when the five return to the battlefield. Moreover, he has inspired the Haqqani network and other Islamists to capture more Americans to trade.

But which represents the greater long-term threat to the safety and security of our people and nation: sending those five Taliban leaders to Doha, and perhaps back to Afghanistan, or releasing into the U.S. population last year 36,000 criminal illegal aliens with 88,000 convictions among them?

According to a May report of the Center for Immigration Studies, of the 36,000 criminal aliens who, while awaiting deportation, were set free by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, 193 had been convicted of homicide, 426 of sexual assault, 303 of kidnaping, 1,075 of aggravated assault, 1,160 for stolen vehicles, 9,187 for possession or use of dangerous drugs, and 16,070 for driving drunk or drugged.

Those 36,000 criminal aliens are roughly equivalent to three-and-a-half divisions of felons and social misfits released into our midst.

And this does not include the 68,000 illegal aliens against whom ICE declined to press criminal charges last year, but turned loose.

How goes the Third World invasion of the United States?

According to the AP, the U.S. Border Patrol’s Rio Grande Valley sector made 148,017 arrests from Oct. 1 to May 17, while 62,876 were caught in the Tucson sector, the second-busiest crossing point.

That is almost 211,000 illegal aliens caught in just over half a year in just two sectors of the border. And that figure only tells us how many were caught, not how many got in, or how many of those caught were released and now reside among us.

Among those caught crossing into Texas these last seven months were 47,000 unaccompanied children. Border Patrol estimates that by Sept. 30, apprehensions of children and teenagers in this fiscal year could reach 90,000.

According to Gov. Jan Brewer, the feds have begun shipping illegal aliens, adults as well as children, from Texas to Arizona, “dumping” them into her state.

“This is a humanitarian crisis and it requires a humanitarian response,” says Maryland Sen. Barbara Mikulski of the surge in children from Central America across the U.S. border.

Attorney General Eric Holder has risen to the crisis.

The U.S. will now provide lawyers for children who enter illegally, to fight their battle in U.S. courts to stay.

“We’re taking this historic step,” says Holder, “to protect the rights of the most vulnerable members of our society. How we treat those in need — particularly young people who are fleeing violence, persecution, abuse or trafficking — goes to the core of who we are as a nation.”

Somehow the core contention of James Burnham’s “Suicide of the West,” out 50 years ago this year, comes to mind.

“Liberalism,” wrote Burnham. “is the ideology of Western suicide.”

America and the West must face up to what is happening to our countries and our civilization. Or we are going to lose them both forever.

Treating with contempt U.S. and European laws, peoples from failed states of the Third World are steadily filling up our countries and reducing our native-born into slowly shrinking national majorities.

If this continues over many more decades, Western nations as we knew them will disappear forever, and be remade in the image of those who have newly arrived, and the countries whence they came.

When, ever, did Americans vote for this?

What would constitute a pro-American immigration policy?

A moratorium on all immigration until unemployment among U.S. citizens falls below five percent. A 15-foot security fence from San Diego to the Gulf, with Border Patrol outposts every 10 miles. Fines and community service for businessmen who hire illegal aliens.

Europe is facing the same crisis. This past weekend, 5,200 migrants were caught on boats crossing from Africa to Italy. Spain and Greece, too, are major crossing points from sub-Sahara Africa and the Arab and Islamic world into the heart of Europe.

Yet as we saw in the May European parliamentary elections, the peoples of Europe are not going quietly into that good night that their elites have prepared for them.

They want to preserve the unique countries that they once were. Frenchmen want France to remain France, as the Brits want to remain British.

And despite the names they are being called, there is nothing wrong with that. As Sophocles wrote, there is no “greater grief than the loss of one native land.”

The Republican establishment of Jeb Bush, John Boehner, Eric Cantor, and the Senate hierarchy is prepared to collaborate with Barack Obama on a halt to deportations and partial amnesty.

If so, we shall find out whether the Republican Party still has a heart and soul, or whether, in the last analysis, it comes down to the money.”

Posted in USA, AfghanistanComments Off on The Endless Invasion of America

EGYPT: Oil and Zionist regime مصر.. الطاقة المسلوبة Full Documentary

Posted in EgyptComments Off on EGYPT: Oil and Zionist regime مصر.. الطاقة المسلوبة Full Documentary

‘We Are Resetting the Net to Shut Off Mass Surveillance’

NOVANEWS
Online day of action marks one year since Snowden reporting began and calls for people to “take their privacy back” from prying eyes
– Jon Queally

‘Don’t ask for your privacy… Take it back.’ (Image: ResetTheNet.org)To mark the one-year anniversary of the first reporting based on information revealed by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden on June 5, 2013, privacy advocates, organizations, and technology companies all over the world on Thursday are participating in ‘Reset The Net—an online day of action in which participants pledge to take real steps to protect online freedoms and fight back against mass surveillance.

“We have the technology, and adopting encryption is the first effective step that everyone can take to end mass surveillance.”
—Edward Snowden

“Don’t ask for your privacy,” sounds the call issued by the campaign. “Take it back.”

Coordinated by a broad coalition of policy organizations and activist groups, and initiated by Fight For the Future, Reset The Net‘ calls on websites, app developers, organizations, and individual internet users to promote what they call “privacy packs” so that people everywhere can have better access to online privacy and encryption tools.

On Wednesday, as a way to show its support for the day, internet giant Google announced new end-to-end encryption methods for its widely used Gmail service.

Websites, tech companies, and advocacy organizations of all stripes—including Amnesty International, Greenpeace, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, Common Dreams and scores of others—have all signed on and pledged to improve their privacy protections for their members and users.

As just one example, Josh Levy, of media reform group Free Press, described what actions his group is taking in a blog post on Wednesday:

We’ve removed every third-party tracker from our websites. The standard Facebook and Twitter buttons that you find across the Web — the ones those companies use to track your surfing behavior whether or not you’re actually logged in to their services — are gone. In their place are buttons that let you preserve your privacy while you share our stuff.

In that same spirit we’ve removed Google Analytics from our site. While the service is helpful in telling us where our Web traffic comes from, it tracks your every move after you leave our properties. We find that behavior too intrusive. We’re now using Piwik, the free and open-source Web analytics software that respects the privacy of Internet users.

And Snowden himself released the following statement in support of the day and its mission:

One year ago, we learned that the internet is under surveillance, and our activities are being monitored to create permanent records of our private lives — no matter how innocent or ordinary those lives might be.

Today, we can begin the work of effectively shutting down the collection of our online communications, even if the US Congress fails to do the same. That’s why I’m asking you to join me on June 5th for Reset the Net, when people and companies all over the world will come together to implement the technological solutions that can put an end to the mass surveillance programs of any government. This is the beginning of a moment where we the people begin to protect our universal human rights with the laws of nature rather than the laws of nations.

We have the technology, and adopting encryption is the first effective step that everyone can take to end mass surveillance. That’s why I am excited for Reset the Net — it will mark the moment when we turn political expression into practical action, and protect ourselves on a large scale.

Join us on June 5th, and don’t ask for your privacy. Take it back.

Other participants were sharing their support on Twitter using the #resetthenet hashtag:

Posted in USAComments Off on ‘We Are Resetting the Net to Shut Off Mass Surveillance’

Brazil Readies ‘RoboCop’ Riot Squads for World Cup Pro

NOVANEWS
Demonstrators call out government for spending billions on soccer tournament as poor sidelined and public services are diminished nationwide
– Jon Queally

Police officers of the “Choque” special unit pose during the presentation of security forces for the upcoming FIFA World Cup, in Rio de Janeiro on May 30, 2014. (Photo: AFP Photo/Christophe Simon)As Brazilians opposed to outrageous sums of public money spent on preparations for the upcoming World Cup protest with marches and strikes, the nation’s government and its police forces are boasting that they have planned for all contingencies ahead of the games, including plans to clamp down on dissent and disruption by establishing “security zones” and deploying armies of riot police in uniforms described as something out of a sci-fi movie.

In San Paulo on Wednesday, an estimated ten thousand people marched on the Arena Corinthians Stadium, where the international soccer tournament will begin next week, as they called for better treatment for the city’s homeless people as well as increased funding for public transportation, health services, and low-income housing.

Anti-World Cup demonstrators take part in the so-called “World Cup without the people, I’m in the street again” protest in Sao Paulo, Brazil on June 4, 2014. (AFP Photo/Nelson Almeida)Watch:

In addition, as of Thursday, the union of metro workers in San Paulo announced it was going on strike to protest low wages. A famously congested city to begin with, a worker’s strike during the World Cup—as international tourists pour in—would wreak havoc.

And last week in the capital city of Brasilia, indigenous protesters clashed with riot police on horseback as they voiced their anger at the dissonance between money spent on the games and the lack of resources available to the nation’s consistently neglected and disregarded populations.

“Who is the Cup for? Not us!” the demonstrators shouted. “I don’t want the Cup, I want money for health and education.”

As the BBC reports on the wave of protest:

A year ago, when Brazil hosted the regional Confederations Cup tournament, more than a million people took to the streets for similar reasons in a series of marches and protests that brought the normal workings of several cities to a halt.

In anticipation of continued protest and public discontent , Brazil’s President Dilma Roussef vowed on Tuesday to make “security” a top priority. According to Agence France-Presse, the nation’s “military police units have been kitted out with hi-tech uniforms making their members look like something out of Robocop,” a science fiction movie about a part-human, part-machine police officer. AFP addes

Around 157,000 troops and police will be deployed across the 12 host venues for the Cup, running from June 12-July 13.

Some 20,000 private security agents will also be on hand in the stadiums — some 1,800 per venue in an $860 million operation.

In addition, 120 police officers from 40 countries will collaborate with the Brazilian authorities as they jointly collate and assess intelligence.

Posted in South AmericaComments Off on Brazil Readies ‘RoboCop’ Riot Squads for World Cup Pro

‘Unprecedented’: Critics Assail Kafkaesque Secret Trial in UK

NOVANEWS
Blackout slammed as an ‘outrageous assault’ on justice
– Sarah Lazare

(Photo: Lonpicman / Wikimedia Creative Commons)For the first time in the UK’s modern legal history, two men could face an entirely secret criminal trial for terrorism charges, their identities, the proceedings, and the verdict concealed from the public record.

First reported Wednesday, the blackout sparked alarm among human rights campaigners, lawyers, and politicians.

“To hold trials entirely in secret is an outrageous assault on the fundamental principles of British justice,” Clare Algar, executive director of UK human rights organization Reprievetold the Telegraph.

Until Wednesday, the media was banned from reporting the trial at all. After a challenge to the gag order by UK media organizations, including the Guardian and the Daily Mail, the press won the right to cover a Wednesday hearing challenging the gag order. The court will rule on the appeal to the media blackout in the coming days.

The case involves two men, identified as “AB” and “CD,” who will face terrorism charges in a criminal court. The Crown Prosecution Service successfully pushed for the secrecy, which would ban any public report on the trial’s proceedings and outcome, on the grounds that it is necessary for the protection of national security, with the specifics unknown to the public.

Yet, lawyers challenging the secrecy warn that the blackout constitutes a severe threat to civil liberties and justice. In modern history, no UK criminal trial has been this closed to the public, although partial gag orders have been imposed.

“The Crown has sought and obtained an unprecedented order that the trial of two defendants charged with serious terrorism offenses should take place entirely in private with the identity of both defendants withheld and a permanent prohibition on reporting what takes place during the trial and their identities,” said Anthony Hudson, who is providing counsel to media organizations appealing the gag order, at Wednesday’s hearing, according to the BBC.

“This appeal raises important issues relating to not only the constitutional principle of open justice but the equally important principle of fairness and natural justice,” he added.

“Transparency isn’t an optional luxury in the justice system – it’s key to ensuring fairness and protecting the rule of law,” Shami Chakrabati, director of UK-based civil liberties organization Libertytold the Guardian. “This case is a worrying high water mark for secrecy in our courts – extensive restrictions set without robust reasons or a time limit.

“For an entire trial to be heard in camera, this is unprecedented, very serious and worrying,” Keith Vaz, chairman of the Commons home affairs committee, declared Wednesday following the hearing, according to the Telegraph.

Posted in UKComments Off on ‘Unprecedented’: Critics Assail Kafkaesque Secret Trial in UK

Participatory Totalitarianism

NOVANEWS
We are not passive objects of the surveillance state. We are active subjects of our own YouTube channels.

In the new public-private surveillance state, we’re so at home with Big Brother that we’re not just passively watched–we actively display ourselves. (Photo: ‘Pong / Flickr)According to the Chinese zodiac, the heavens circle around every 12 years. The Year of the Snake, the creature that sheds its skin to emerge anew, marks a time of great transformation. Indeed, for the last quarter century, the world has experienced three profound shifts at 12-year intervals, beginning with the Year of the Snake in 1989.

On June 4, 1989, on one side of the globe, Poles were participating in their first semi-free elections in more than 40 years, which—though few suspected at the time—sounded the death knell for Communism in East-Central Europe. Meanwhile, on the same day on the other side of the globe, the Chinese government was cracking down on the Tiananmen Square protests and ensuring that Communism would continue there as an official ideology for at least another 25 years.

“Today’s metaphor is still Big Brother—but it’s the Reality TV show, not the sinister presence of the George Orwell novel.”

Twelve years later, the Year of the Snake returned, and the ground shifted radically beneath our feet once again. This time, the 9/11 attacks brought the two sides of the world together as both China and Poland threw their weight behind the U.S.-led war on terror. Poland, presided over by a former Communist who’d embraced market reforms, even went so far as to host one of the “black sites” that the Bush administration set up to interrogate suspects gathered up through extraordinary rendition. China, presided over by a current Communist who’d also embraced market reforms, used the opportunity of 9/11 to ramp up operations against separatists in Xinjiang and secure “unprecedented” counter-terrorism information sharing with the United States.

And then last year, the Year of the Snake came around again, and this time it was Edward Snowden who caused a seismic shift in our understanding of everyday reality. We thought that we’d seen through the efforts of the Communist state to control our minds and the efforts of the corporate state to control our desires. But it turned out that we really didn’t know the full extent to which intelligence services and corporate entities had invaded our private spaces. Nor had we understood our own complicity in this brave new world. It wasn’t just states like Warsaw and Beijing that had joined forces with Washington against non-state actors. We had all become informers under this new regime, whether we liked it or not.

The old metaphor for surveillance was the Panopticon: the warden, sitting at the hub of a penitentiary, could see what all the inmates were doing along the perimeter of the structure. Then came the Big Brother of the Cold War era: a state apparatus that used informers, propaganda, and interrogations to infiltrate every crevice of society.

Today’s metaphor is still Big Brother—but it’s the TV show, not the sinister presence of the George Orwell novel. In this reality TV show, the public watches what goes on inside a house fully monitored by surveillance cameras. But here’s the twist: we are both voyeurs and exhibitionists, for we have also turned the cameras on ourselves so that the surveillance can be mutual. We don’t just like to watch, like Chance the gardener in Jerzy Kosinski’s Being There. We like to be watched as well.

It’s time to update Socrates for the era of selfies and YouTube: the unwatched life is not worth living.

The novel that out-Orwells Orwell in its depiction of this new reality is The Circle by Dave Eggers, in which characters willingly wear cameras that track their every movement and broadcast to an ever-increasing number of social media followers. The novel exaggerates only slightly what we are already doing through Facebook and Twitter and Instagram, or what is being done to us through our cell phones and our credit card purchases and our Google searches.

To rein in Big Corporations and even out the inequities of Big Politics, activists have long clamored for participatory democracy. What we didn’t expect was that Big Corporations and Big Politics would team up in what I’ve previously called the “surveillance blitz” to create a new phenomenon: participatory totalitarianism.

If we look at the three seismic shifts that have taken place between 1989 and today, they all center around the state and its ability to maintain its authority in the post-modern world. In 1989, the Communist states failed in their effort to manage the economy through five-year plans and artificially fixed prices. In both post-Communist Poland and post-Deng China, the market became the arbiter of production and consumption, restricting the state largely to redistribution (with a bit more capacity for strategic investments in China). Privatization and austerity budgeting in the capitalist world also whittled away what remained of the welfare state’s ability to intervene in the economy. This was the neo-liberal victory in what had been an epic 20th-century war, though many skirmishes continue to this day and a second grand battle may yet take place in the wake of the global financial crisis.

In 2001, states faced a second major challenge from al-Qaeda, though more as an idea than an actual military force. Al-Qaeda is an unusual hybrid of the globalized and the localized. It grew out of a specific context (the mujahedeen’s attacks on the Soviet army in Afghanistan) and has taken on a different character in each national context where it has taken root (Yemen, Syria, North Africa). Al-Qaeda is a franchise not unlike McDonald’s, offering a universal product (a global caliphate) that can be adapted to the cultural preferences of local consumers just as McDonald’s sells its well-known French fries with the McAloo Tikki burger in Mumbai or the McArabia Chicken sandwich in Doha. To use the awkward phrase from academia, al-Qaeda is a “glocalized” phenomenon. It thus has represented both a global and a local challenge to the state—offering a vision of subsuming the state into something larger and, from below, attacking the state’s monopoly on violence. It’s no wonder that states as different as Poland and China found common cause in fighting against al-Qaeda.

And now, after 2013, the state is suffering yet another challenge to its authority. After the revelations of Snowden, the sociologist Zygmunt Bauman and his colleagues point out, “It may not be going too far to suggest that what we still call national security has been colonized by a new nobility of intelligence agencies operating in an increasingly autonomous transnational arena.” National security, as the phrase suggests, has been the responsibility of the nation-state. But intelligence agencies, led by the disproportionately powerful NSA, have skirted the traditional mechanisms of the state to operate across borders and with little oversight. Members of Congress, even though many have branded Snowden a traitor, have pushed for changes in the way the NSA does business domestically. The leaders of Germany and Brazil who discovered to their dismay that they too have been punked by the NSA—U.S. spies listened in on the communications of both Angela Merkel and Dilma Rousseff—are also pushing at an international level for reform.

The state’s status has deteriorated over the decades. It no longer provides the “iron rice bowl.” Its monopoly on violence has been challenged by non-state actors, and many states have failed or are near failure as a result. And intelligence-gathering organs have metastasized beyond the control of the traditional nation-state in order to sift through the rapidly expanding universe of global data to stop plots while they are still twinkles in the eyes of the conspirators (shades of Minority Report).

If surveillance was monaural during the Cold War and became stereophonic in the immediate aftermath of 9/11, it is now quadrophonic. It can’t be reduced to the activity of a single state or even a particular government-industrial complex. We are all now embedded in a veritable matrix of surveillance. It has become surround sound.

In the Communist era, Hungarian writer Miklos Haraszti wrote about what he called the “velvet prison.” Under state socialism, he observed, the vast majority of artists accommodated to the strictures imposed from above. “We learn to live with discipline,” he wrote. “We are at home with it. It is a part of us, and soon we will hunger for it because we are unable to create without it.”

We are at home in the new surveillance state, for we barely register all the cameras, all the targeted advertising, all the intrusions into what had previously been considered sacred private space. We are not passive objects of observation. We are active subjects of our own YouTube channels.

This is not inevitable. States like Germany and Brazil are fighting back. Organizations like the Electronic Frontier Foundation are fighting back. Whistleblowers and journalists are fighting back. So, perhaps when the next Year of the Snake rolls around and we are preparing to shed our skin once again, we will see a shift in the other direction—toward a new economy, a new kind of politics, a new definition of security, and a new way to interact with our fellow citizens that relies on mutual solidarity and not mutual surveillance.

Posted in USA, PoliticsComments Off on Participatory Totalitarianism

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