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CLUSTERBALL: James Bond and the Petraeus Affair

 

By John Grant


Using one of those overarching dramatic titles we have come to expect in mainstream media news coverage, John Stewart summed up the Petraeus story as “Band of Boners.” It's the sort of thing that may be inevitable when so much power is given so much free reign by so much secrecy.

Done in by the PATRIOT Act: The Grand Irony of the Petraeus Sex Scandal

 

By Dave Lindorff


There is a delicious irony to the story of the crash-and-burn career of Four-Star General and later (at least briefly) CIA Director David Petraeus.


Petraeus ex Machina and the Femme Fatale

Pundit Tears for Petraeus’s Fall

November 10, 2012

Editor Note: Much of Official Washington is in mourning after David Petraeus admitted to an extramarital affair and resigned as head of the CIA. Top pundits were as smitten by the former four-star general as his mistress was -- probably more so -- writes ex-CIA analyst Ray McGovern.

By Ray McGovern

A day after the surprise announcement that CIA Director David Petraeus was resigning because of marital infidelity, the pundits continue to miss the supreme irony. None other than the head of the CIA (and former bemedaled four-star general) has become the first really big fish netted by the intrusive monitoring of the communications of American citizens implemented after 9/11.

Election's Over: It's Time to Organize!

 

By Dave Lindorff


Okay, the etch-a-sketch vulture capitalist who would have given us four years of that smarmy missionionary-at-your-door smile, was thankfully sent packing by the voters, and Barack Obama gets four more years in the White House.


A Nation Armed to the Teeth but Living in Fear

 

By Dave Lindorff


A new study by researchers at the University of Illinois in Urbana, showing that young children who are fearful in childhood are likely to be conservative when they grow up got me to thinking.


Obama Campaign Displays Democratic Dysfunction and Warnings of Future Betrayal

 

By Dave Lindorff


We know that there isn't much "Hope" for "Change" -- at least for progressive change -- should President Obama win a second term as president.

Even when he had the chance, with Democratic majorities in both houses of Congress during the first two years of his presidency, and with a solid mandate from the voters to act on restoring civil liberties, taking significant action against climate change, ending the wars and defending Social Security and Medicare, he did nothing.

Veterans For Peace Illegally Spied on By Boston Police Fusion Center

Veterans For Peace in Boston, the late VFP member Howard Zinn, and several other peace organizations in Boston have been routinely spied on for years, and records kept on their peaceful and lawful activities.  The Boston Police Department and the Boston Regional Intelligence Center, BRIC, (the local "fusion center") have collected and kept so-called "intelligence reports" documenting constitutionally protected speech and political activity.  While not a single report refers to any engagement in or plans for violence, peace rallies are called "Criminal Acts," and the reports are labeled as dealing with "Extremists," "Civil Disturbance," and "HomeSec-Domestic."

Fusion center employees working for the Boston Police, the FBI, and the Homeland Security Department have been a constant presence at peace events and have interrogated peace activists about purely legal activities.  The ACLU and the National Lawyers Guild have obtained documents and videotapes after suing on behalf of five organizations and four individuals.  One of the organizations is Veterans For Peace – Chapter 9 Smedley D. Butler Brigade.  The ACLU/NLG report and a related video are here: http://aclum.org/policing_dissent

The video includes commentary by Pat Scanlon, Coordinator of Veterans For Peace, Chapter 9. Pat is a decorated Vietnam Veteran, a graduate of the United States Army Intelligence School at Fort Holabird, Maryland. He was an Intelligence Analyst, held a top-secret clearance and worked in Intelligence at MACV headquarters in Saigon for the year of 1969.

“While in the Army," says Scanlon, "I was in Military Intelligence. I saw and handled numerous files of investigations conducted by the U.S. Army on U.S. citizens and students participating in local peace activities in their communities and on college campuses. This recent revelation of the Boston Police monitoring peace activists in Boston is proof of what I believe is a continuation of forty years of this kind of surveillance and monitoring of peace groups and individuals around the country by police and other government agencies."

Scanlon objects to being labeled an "extremist" for opposing war.  "Who are the real extremists here, let me get this straight. Members of Veterans For Peace, veterans who have dutifully served our country, many in the line of fire, many with military decorations, who have personally experienced the horrors of war and now stand for peace are labeled as extremists and monitored by local police departments as a threat. While those who illegally took this country to war in Iraq resulting in over 4,700 deaths of our young men and women, 30,000 wounded, 30% suffering from PTSD, suicide rates increasing 15% each year, 1,000,000 Iraqis killed, 3,000,000 Iraqi refugees now scattered in countries around the world: These folks are not considered extremists, yet members of Veterans For Peace are? What is wrong with that picture?"

Michael T. McPhearson, National Coordinator of United for Peace and Justice, and a Veterans For Peace Board Member, added, "I am saddened that my nation which I have served as a soldier in the army has wandered so far off track that calling for peace, justice and respect for life and liberty is considered an extreme position. Is the next step to quiet my voice and take my right to free speech?"

Leah Bolger, national president of Veterans For Peace, was dismayed to learn of these practices. "To learn that Veterans For Peace has been labeled as an 'extremist' organization is absolutely shocking," said Bolger.  "Veterans For Peace is an organization of military veterans who, from the day of our inception in 1985, have dedicated ourselves to using non-violent means to end war and militarism.  Our experiences with combat and the military have taught us that war is immoral and counter productive; we now use our voices as veterans to denounce and resist the illegal and immoral military actions of our own country.  It is quite disturbing to learn that our government is so threatened by our voice that they have resorted to spying on us, and characterizing us as 'extremists.'  This is a very sad commentary."

Fusion centers that combine federal and local departments and militarize policing are all over the country, not just in Boston.  The ACLU/NLG report provides some context:

"These revelations come on the heels of a report by a bipartisan US Senate subcommittee, which found that the federal government’s work with state and local fusion centers — among them the BRIC — 'has not produced useful intelligence to support Federal counterterrorism efforts.' 'Fusion centers' were created in the aftermath of 9/11, ostensibly so the federal government could 'share terrorism-related information with states and localities.' One of two 'intelligence fusion centers' in Massachusetts, the BRIC was created in 2005 as 'a way to further integrate the intelligence capabilities of Boston, local, state and federal law enforcement partners.' Since then, it has received millions of dollars in federal funding and operated entirely absent independent public oversight or accountability. According to the Senate subcommittee report released earlier this month, the lack of accountability at fusion centers nationwide has translated into poor results: the report found that the millions of dollars poured into centers like the BRIC have failed to uncover a single terrorist plot. Instead, fusion centers have 'forwarded "intelligence" of uneven quality  — often times shoddy, rarely timely, sometimes endangering citizens' civil liberties and Privacy Act protections, occasionally taken from already-published public sources, and more often than not unrelated to terrorism.'  When they were related to terrorism, intelligence reports produced by fusion centers 'duplicated a faster, more efficient information-sharing process already in place between local police and the FBI-led Terrorist Screening Center.'  One Department of Homeland Security (DHS) official told investigators that fusion centers produce 'a lot of…predominately useless information,' and at times, said another, 'a bunch of crap.'"

Watch WHDH-Channel 7 news report: http://bit.ly/TfIhnf

Listen to WBUR-90.9 news report: http://bit.ly/WEoUnb

Veterans For Peace was founded in 1985 and has approximately 5,000 members in 150 chapters located in every U.S. state and several countries.  It is a 501(c)3 non-profit educational organization recognized as a Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) by the United Nations, and is the only national veterans' organization calling for the abolishment of war.

14 NSA Protesters Have Charges Dismissed

FOURTEEN NATIONAL SECURITY AGENCY PROTESTERS HAVE THEIR CHARGES DISMISSED/SOME WILL PROTEST OCTOBER 9, 2012 AT THE NSA

WHO:The Pledge of Resistance-Baltimore is a part of the National Campaign for Nonviolent Resistance [NCNR], and Pledge members were active with Occupation Baltimore and the occupation of Freedom Square in Washington, D.C.  As part of the Freedom Square occupation, NCNR decided to try to obtain a meeting with Lt. Gen. Keith Alexander, the director of the National Security Agency, to discuss perceived illegal and unconstitutional activities by his operatives.

NCNR sent a letter, signed by thirty people from around the country, to Lt. Gen. Alexander requesting a meeting, but there was no response.  So on October 9, 2011, approximately 25 people, most of them from the occupation of Freedom Square, went to the NSA, at Fort Meade, Maryland, with a copy of the letter which raised such concerns as NSA spying, its involvement in the extra-judicial killing of U.S. citizens and the firing of Thomas Drake, an NSA whistleblower.  However, instead of getting a meeting with a person of some authority, fourteen citizen-activists were arrested on the road heading towards the guard station.  Each of the arrested received three citations: “entering a military, naval or Coast Guard property,” “disturbances on protected property, “ and “control of activities on protected property.” 

WHAT:There was an arraignment in federal court on February 24, 2012.  Three of the defendants were indigent, and the court assigned each one an attorney.  A trial was set for May 29, 2012, but later re-scheduled for October 25, 2012.

However, assistant federal public defender Carrie Corcoran, representing defendant Max Obuszewski, filed several documents, including a Motion for Dismissal.  The motion argued that the U.S. government failed to post permit regulations about Fort Meade in the Federal Register, and that the arrests infringed upon the defendants’ First Amendment rights. As Corcoran pointed out in the brief, how would Obuszewski know what was permitted?  Fort Meade is an open base, and there is a visitor’s parking lot, two museums and a gas station, all are open to the public. 

After some dialogue between Corcoran and James Pyne, the prosecutor, the government decided to dismiss all charges without prejudice.  However, should any defendants get arrested at the NSA through October 14, 2013, the charges will be renewed.  Presumably, the government dismissed the charges as it as fearful that the defendants would air the NSA’s dirty laundry in court during the trial.

WHEN:Wednesday, October 3, 2012

WHERE:U.S District Court, Courtroom 7C, 101 Lombard St., Baltimore, Maryland 21201

WHY: The citizen activists who went to Fort Meade on October 9, 2011 believe they have the right and a Nuremberg responsibility to meet with National Security Agency officials to prevent further illegal activity.  Those arrested have many years of doing direct action in dissent of our government’s illegal operations.  Several were from Massachusetts, Beth Adams, Ellen Graves, John Langford and Paki Wieland; Tim Chadwick came from Pennsylvania; Joy First, Wisconsin; Chris Gaunt, Iowa; three from New Jersey--Carol Gay, Jules Orkin and Manijeh Saba; Malachy Kilbride, Virginia; and there were three Baltimore resisters--Ellen Barfield, Marilyn Carlisle and Obuszewski.  The defendants were looking forward to airing their grievances during a trial in a federal courtroom.

A great concern is the NSA’s involvement in the illegal war and occupation of Afghanistan and Iraq. This would include the illegal use of drones in Afghanistan and other countries and the assassination of U.S. citizens.  Also there have been alarming revelations about the illegal wiretapping and wholesale collection of U.S. citizens’ phone records.  When this was revealed by Russell Tice, he was fired. When Thomas Drake revealed an expensive boondoggle of a computer system, he was targeted for being a whistleblower.  In July, 2011, though, the legal case brought against him by the government collapsed. 

A number of activists, including Bruce Gagnon,  international peace organizer, coordinator of the Global Network Against Weapons and Nuclear Power in Space, and author of “Come Together Right Now: Organizing Stories From a Fading Empire,” plan to vigil at the National Security Agency, on October 9, 2012 at 5:30 PM as part of the Keep Space for Peace Week.  It is appropriate that the protests of the NSA will continue on the one-year anniversary of the Freedom Square action.

Stay-Out-of-Jail Chit for CIA Torturers

 

Obama Ruling Shields Torturers

September 7, 2012

Editor Note: Attorney General Eric Holder’s decision not to prosecute CIA torturers in two high-profile homicides bows to the political difficulty of going after field agents while sparing superiors, including ex-President George W. Bush. But the all-clear on torture sends a dangerous message, says ex-CIA analyst Ray McGovern.

By Ray McGovern

When Nobel Laureate Desmond Tutu said last week that the ex-leaders of the U.S. and U.K. should be made to “answer for their actions” in attacking Iraq on the basis of lies, Western savants and pundits greeted the remarks from the retired archbishop of South Africa with an all-too-familiar knowing, dismissive shrug.

Democracies Don't Start Wars, But Fake Democracies Sure Do!

 

 

By Dave Lindorff


We’ve all heard it said by our teachers when we were in school, we’ve all heard it said by politicians, including presidents: “Democracies don’t start wars.”


As Congress pushes cybersecurity law, privacy advocates warn of increased domestic spying

In Washington, both chambers of Congress and multiple federal agencies are pushing for sweeping cybersecurity legislation that would allow more information sharing between corporations and the government. But privacy advocates say the country’s intelligence gathering agency, the National Security Administration, already has too much access to US citizens’ private data, and has abused its powers by engaging in widespread warrant-less domestic surveillance. On Capitol Hill, FSRN’s Alice Ollstein has more.

As US seeks personal data from Google and Twitter, activists move to protect online speech

A coalition of open Internet advocates unveiled a “Declaration of Internet Freedom” this week, seeking to rally activists against censorship and privacy violations from both governments and corporations. The Declaration comes as a Manhattan Judge ordered Twitter to turn over months of personal data from an Occupy Wall Street protester, arrested during last fall's mass demonstration on the Brooklyn Bridge. Both Google and Twitter released reports this month showing the US government requested more private user data than any other country in the world, and the companies largely complied.  FSRN’s Alice Ollstein has more.

(Transcript; audio available here)

One Nobel Laureate Blasts Another -- And They’re Both Americans

 

By Dave Lindorff


There are two US presidents who have won the Nobel Peace Prize. Now one of those Nobel laureate leaders is accusing the other, though without naming him, of actions that qualify as war crimes and impeachable crimes against the US Constitution.


Hot, Repressive and Locked in an Internet War: A Grim Vision of America’s and the World’s Future

 

By Dave Lindorff

 

My wife and I live on a 2.3-acre plot of forested land in a pre-Revolutionary house with a run-down old barn. When we first moved here, there was a rather large set of grassy areas, one in front of the house, another behind the kitchen, a large field in the back, behind the barn, a smaller lawn in front of the barn, and a hidden glen, as well as an island of grass in the middle of a circular gravel driveway. 

 

Planting Evidence to Sow Fear: Chicago Cops are the Terrorists

 

By Dave Lindorff

 

It seems pretty clear by now that the three young “domestic terrorists” arrested by Chicago police in a warrantless house invasion reminiscent of what US military forces are doing on a daily basis in Afghanistan, are the victims of planted evidence -- part of the police-state-style crackdown on anti-NATO protesters in Chicago last week. 

 

White House & Dems Back Banks over Protests: Newly Discovered Homeland Security Files Show Feds Central to Occupy Crackdown

 

By Dave Lindorff

 

A new trove of heavily redacted documents provided by the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) in response to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request filed by the Partnership for Civil Justice Fund (PCJF) on behalf of filmmaker Michael Moore and the National Lawyers Guild makes it increasingly evident that there was and is a nationally coordinated campaign to disrupt and crush the Occupy Movement.

 

Talk Nation Radio: Stephen M. Kohn on Our Government's Attacks on Whistleblowers

Stephen M. Kohn of the National Whistleblowers Center says that for national security whistleblowers, Obama's presidency has been "a disaster."  Kohn, the author of eight books on whistleblower law, represents Sibel Edmonds, an FBI whistleblower and the author of the just-released Classified Woman. Edmonds submitted her book to the FBI for censorship, and the FBI failed to identify anything that she could not print, but also refused to approve of the book.  Edmonds, however, has gone ahead and published it.  The book protects, rather than endangering, national security.  But it does embarrass the FBI.

Total run time: 29:00

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Producer: David Swanson.

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So then Who in the Hell Are We?

 

By Dan De Walt

 

“This is not a reflection of who we are or what we stand for.” 

       -- Jeff Gearhart, Wall-Mart general counsel, on the firm’s Mexico bribery 

 

[Torture] “is not the norm.” 

       -- Mike Pannek, Abu Ghraib prison warden.

 

“This is not who we are.” 

       -- Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on the US massacre of 16 Afghan villagers.

 

“This is not who we are.” 

Real Politics Must be in the Streets: The Constitutional Crimes of Barack Obama

 

By Dave Lindorff

 

As we slog towards another vapid, largely meaningless exercise in pretend democracy with the selection of a new president and Congress this November, it is time to make it clear that the current president, elected four years ago by so many people with such inflated expectations four years ago (myself included, as I had hoped, vainly it turned out, that those who elected him would then press him to act in progressive ways), is not only a betrayer of those hopes, but is a serial violator of his oath of office. He is, in truth, a war criminal easily the equal of his predecessor, George W. Bush, and perhaps even of Bush’s regent, former Vice President Dick Cheney.

 

Let me count the ways:

 

Pentagon "Intelligence" Worked So Well on Iraq, and We're So Short on Spy Agencies, the Pentagon Is Creating a New One

From The Guardian:

The Pentagon is to create a new spy service to focus on global strategic threats and the challenges posed by countries including Iran, North Korea and China. The move will bring to 17 the total number of intelligence organisations in the US.

WikiLeaks' Stratfor Dump Lifts Lid on Intelligence-Industrial Complex

WikiLeaks' latest release, of hacked emails from Stratfor, shines light on the murky world of private intelligence-gathering

What price bad intelligence? Some 5m internal emails from Stratfor, an Austin, Texas-based company that brands itself as a "global intelligence" provider, were recently obtained by Anonymous, the hacker collective, and are being released in batches by WikiLeaks, the whistleblowing website, starting Monday.WikiLeaks website featuring documents obtained by hackers from private intelligence firm Stratfor. Photograph: guardiannews.com

The most striking revelation from the latest disclosure is not simply the military-industrial complex that conspires to spy on citizens, activists and trouble-causers, but the extremely low quality of the information available to the highest bidder. Clients of the company include Dow Chemical, Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman and Raytheon, as well as US government agencies like the Department of Homeland Security, the Defense Intelligence Agency and the Marines.

Analysts working on the Middle East for the company appeared to be very poorly informed, with no more experience than a semester of studying abroad, according to journalists who have studied the documents. "They used Google translate to read al-Akbar news articles," says an incredulous Jamal Ghosn, associate editor of that newspaper in Beirut, Lebanon. "This is a guaranteed way for good intelligence to be lost in translation."

Mike Bonnano of the Yes Men, a group of international pranksters who impersonate corporate executives and government leaders to highlight environmental and social abuses, was astonished to discover that his group was being tracked by Stratfor, which was apparently making money selling a list of his public-speaking engagements.

"They [are] making it sound better to clients simply so that they can make money," says Bonnano, after reviewing the material provided to him by WikiLeaks. "We're not talking about good intelligence, we're talking about a lot of information because more information means more money. That does not mean that it's smart."

Drones So Popular in Pakistan, Congress Demands More of Them in US Skies

Secrecy News Blog:  http://www.fas.org/blog/secrecy/

CONGRESS CALLS FOR ACCELERATED USE OF DRONES IN U.S.

A House-Senate conference report this week called on the Administration to accelerate the use of civilian unmanned aerial systems (UAS), or "drones," in U.S. airspace.

The pending authorization bill for the Federal Aviation Administration directs the Secretary of Transporation to develop within nine months "a comprehensive plan to safely accelerate the integration of civil unmanned aircraft systems into the national airspace system."

"The plan... shall provide for the safe integration of civil unmanned aircraft systems into the national airspace system as soon as practicable, but not later than September 30, 2015."

The conference bill, which still awaits final passage, also calls for establishment of UAS test ranges in cooperation with NASA and the Department of Defense, expanded use of UAS in the Arctic region, development of guidance for the operation of public unmanned aircraft systems, and new safety research to assess the risk of "catastrophic failure of the unmanned aircraft that would endanger other aircraft in the national airspace system."

The Department of Defense is pursuing its own domestic UAS activities for training purposes and "domestic operations," according to a 2007 DoD-FAA memorandum of agreement.  ("Army Foresees Expanded Use of Drones in U.S. Airspace," Secrecy News, January 19, 2012.)

Droning on... and on, across whole countries... with secret military & CIA programs...

In Air America: Under the Imperial Eye, Chris Floyd reports on the recent revelation that Iraq's supposedly "sovereign airspace" is constantly under surveillance by a network of drones operated by the State Department. Apparently the only reason this news came to light is because of a publicly available government appeal for private bids on the project. Neither we nor Iraqis were meant to know:

"Iraqis were outraged this week to find they are being spied upon by a fleet of American drones hovering constantly in their supposedly sovereign skies, long after the supposed withdrawal of American forces."

White House and State Department are in No Position to Issue Credible Denials Regarding Spying Charges

 

By Dave Lindorff

 

I wouldn’t want to be Amir Mirzaei Hekmati, the 28-year-old former US Marine just recently sentenced to death by a court in Iran after being convicted of being an American spy.

 

Hekmati, who was born in Arizona to Iranian exile parents, and who grew up in Michigan, is being defended by President Obama, whose White House spokesman Tommy Vietor, declared, “Allegations that Mr. Hekmati either worked for, or was sent to Iran by the CIA are false.” The White House, not content with that denial, went on to trash the Iranian government and legal system, with Vietor adding, “The Iranian regime has a history of falsely accusing people of being spies, of eliciting forced confessions, and of holding innocent Americans for political reasons.”

 

Wiretap Suits OKd Against US, Not Telecoms

By Bob Egelko,

The nation's telecommunications companies can't be sued for cooperating with the Bush administration's secret surveillance program, but their customers can sue the government for allegedly intercepting their phone calls and e-mails without a warrant, a federal appeals court ruled Thursday.

The "secret room" in AT&T's Folsom Street office in San Francisco is believed to be one of several internet wiretapping facilities at AT&T offices around the country feeding data to the NSA. (Photo: Mark Klein) In a pair of decisions, the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco upheld a 2008 law immunizing AT&T and other companies for their roles in wiretapping calls to alleged foreign terrorists, but revived a suit that accused the government of illegally intercepting millions of messages from U.S. residents.

That lawsuit was partly based on testimony in 2003 by former AT&T technician Mark Klein about equipment in the company's office on Folsom Street in San Francisco that allowed Internet traffic to be routed to the government.

'Dragnet' surveillance

The Electronic Frontier Foundation, a privacy-rights organization representing AT&T customers, claimed the company had similar installations in other cities and used them for "dragnet" surveillance of everyday e-mails and phone calls, which the National Security Agency purportedly screened electronically for connections to terrorism.

"We look forward to proving the program is an unconstitutional and illegal violation of the rights of millions of ordinary Americans," said Cindy Cohn, the foundation's legal director.

Justice Department spokesman Dean Boyd declined comment.

President George W. Bush acknowledged in 2005 that his administration had eavesdropped on calls to suspected foreign terrorists without the warrants required by federal law, but his Justice Department denied the existence of a dragnet surveillance program.

Dozens of suits challenging the surveillance were transferred to San Francisco. In one case, then-Chief U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker ruled in March 2010 that federal agents had illegally wiretapped an Islamic organization, which was accidentally sent a copy of the surveillance documents. The Obama administration, which inherited the case, is appealing the ruling.

Better than Obama: Why the Establishment is Terrified of Ron Paul

 

By Dave Lindorff

 

 

It’s fascinating to watch the long knives coming out for Texas Republican Rep. Ron Paul, now that according to some mainstream polls he has become the front-running candidate in the Jan. 3 GOP caucus race in Iowa, and perhaps also in the first primary campaign in New Hampshire.

 

Spies and Provocateurs: Police Spying on Occupy Movement not Likely Limited to Los Angeles

 

By Dave Lindorff

 

Word that the Los Angeles Police, who sent in 1200 officers in riot gear to violently rout a few hundred Occupy Movement demonstrators from their LA encampment last week, had earlier sent 12 undercover young officers into the peaceful occupation camp to spy on the activists should come as no surprise.

 

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