You are hereSpying
"If it's something that's going to improve safety, then I don't have any problem with it, I have nothing to hide." - Ashley Houston, 32, as she waited for a plane in Phoenix (Reuters).
If you were against transhumanism before, perhaps you should give it another look. Our bodies are the product of a billion years of nature’s evolutionary processes, but the War on Terror is about to irrevocably corrupt our gene pool, causing untold immune system and other genetic damage to future generations, and possibly rendering the DNA coding that we are based on unacceptably toxic.
We may need to port our intelligence to a machine, or to cyberspace, if “human” intelligence is to survive in today’s toxic environment.
While Homeland Security has installed Backscatter Advanced Imaging Technology (AIT) into airports while successfully avoiding an environmental impact statement, and the Justice Department is now fighting FOIA requests for technical specifications (filed by EPIC, Electronic Privacy Information Center), we already know that backscatter radiation may interfere directly with DNA. Although the ionizing radiation is small, the terahertz waves the machines generate do more than show your private parts to the screener. They have been found to “unzip double-stranded DNA, creating bubbles in the double strand that could significantly interfere with processes such as gene expression and DNA replication.”
Radiation waves occur naturally in the environment, and we’re hit with them all the time. But should we bombard ourselves with them unwillingly every time we want to board a flight? Initially the machines were supposed to be voluntary. Suddenly they are not. Read more.
Michael Munk of www.MichaelMunk.com offered these comments about the Truthout article below, "9/11 and Christmas 2009: Two Examples of a Failure of Intelligence."
The political/media complex has framed the Detroit incident as a intelligence failure that requires bureaucratic and technological fixes. While it's surely true that the $75 billion we waste on pathetically ineffective "intelligence" (mainly fancy technology and big salaries for Langley desk riders and NSA technocrats), no one cares why the "heimat" is attacked in the first place.
Almost every attack is attempted as retaliation for US foreign policy. 9/11 and earlier attacks on New York were declared by their perps to be "punishment" for US support for Israeli suppression of Palestinians. Later attacks were retaliation or resistance to the US occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan. The Detroit bomber is said to have been trying to avenge US cruise missile attacks on Yemen.
I predict that if Obama would stop implementing neocon foreign adventures through military occupations, subsidies to Israel and CIA death squads, its victims would soon experience reduced motivation to retaliate and would receive little support from the people for whom they claim retaliation. There would still remain a small group of genuine nutcakes, but they could be controlled by their own people and the improved human intelligence generated from them.
9/11 and Christmas 2009: Two Examples of a Failure of Intelligence9/11 and Christmas 2009: Two Examples of a Failure of Intelligence
By Melvin A. Goodman, t r u t h o u t | Report January 4, 2010
One week after the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice told the press corps, "This isn't Pearl Harbor." No, it was worse.
In 1941, the United States didn't have a director of central intelligence, 14 intelligence agencies and an overall intelligence budget of more than $50 billion to provide early warning of enemy attack. One day after a Nigerian man nearly blew an airliner out of the sky, Director of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano and White House spokesman Robert Gibbs told the media that the system had worked. No, the system was dysfunctional. Read more.
Barack Obama criticises CIA failures over Detroit bomb plot
US president delivers damning verdict after White House inquiry into failed airline attack
Ewen MacAskill and Daniel Nasaw in Washington Jon Boone in Kabul | Guardian.co.UK
They said that the biggest US crisis in intelligence-gathering since 9/11 had been brought about mainly because no single agency is in charge, with a dozen agencies fighting for their own turf.
One of the most damning assessments came from a serving officer, Major General Michael Flynn, deputy head of military intelligence in Afghanistan. In a lengthy report published on Monday evening for a Washington thinktank, he and colleagues said the vast apparatus in Afghanistan was only marginally relevant. Analysts in Washington were so starved of information that "many say their jobs feel more like fortune-telling than detective work", the report says.
Long-term weaknesses in US intelligence-gathering have been ruthlessly exposed over the last fortnight by the Christmas Day airline plot and the Afghanistan suicide bombing which killed seven CIA officers, according to former and serving intelligence officers.
Barack Obama joined the criticism yesterday, slamming the agencies for a near-catastrophic intelligence breakdown over the 25 December bomb attempt. Read more.
The "Omaha Two:" Victimized by COINTELPRO Injustice
By Stephen Lendman
After a two week April 1971 trial and four days of deliberation, an 11 white/one black member jury convicted Mondo we Langa (formerly David Rice) and Edward Poindexter for the bombing murder of police officer Larry Minard on August 17, 1970. Both men denied involvement, and ever since consistently maintained their innocence, insisting they were framed. Supporters agree, including Amnesty International that declared them political prisoners, and no wonder.
They were Omaha chapter National Committee to Combat Fascism (NCCF) leaders, an off-shoot of the Black Panther Party, targeted (as later revealed) by secret FBI/police Domino task force/COINTELPRO tactics, following J. Edgar Hoover's orders to infiltrate, disrupt, sabotage, and destroy their activism for ethnic justice, racial emancipation, and real economic, social, and political equality across gender and color lines.
COINTELPRO is the acronym for the FBI's secretive/mostly illegal counterintelligence program to neutralize political dissidents, including communists; anti-war, human and civil rights activists; the American Indian Movement; and Black Panther Party among others.
In their book "Agents of Repression," Ward Churchill and Jim Vander Wall wrote:
"the term came to signify the whole context of clandestine (typically illegal) political repression activities (including) a massive surveillance (program via) wiretaps, surreptitious entries and burglaries, electronic devices, live 'tails' and....bogus mail" to induce paranoia and "foster 'splits' within or between organizations."
Other tactics included:
- "black propaganda" through leaflets or other publications "designed to discredit organizations and foster internal tensions;"
- "disinformation or 'gray propaganda' " for the same purpose;
- "bad-jacketing" to "creat(e) suspicion - through the spread of rumors, manufacture of evidence, etc. - that bona fide organizational members, (usually leaders were) FBI/police informants," to turn some against others violently;
- "assassinations (of) selected political leaders," including Fred Hampton and Mark Clark on December 4, 1969 by Chicago police while they slept; and
- "harassment arrests (on bogus) charges."
Individuals and organizations were targeted for their activism, not crimes that were blamed on innocent victims like the "Omaha Two."
In November 1968, a J. Edgar Hoover memorandum ordered his agents "to exploit all avenues of creating....dissension within the ranks of the BPP (using) imaginative hard-hitting counterintelligence measures aimed at crippling the BPP." From 1968 - 1971, they were vicious, including against Mondo we Langa and Edward Poindexter, targeted by the Bureau to be neutralized.
Months before they were arrested, FBI agents and Omaha police harassed them with tactics like frequent traffic stops, verbal abuse, and more. We Langa was called before a grand jury, and the Greater Omaha Community Action Agency fired him. Poindexter was victimized by bogus newspaper letters and an anonymous phone campaign. For the two men, it was just the beginning of a long nightmare, ongoing after 40 years.
Background on the "Omaha Two"
The White House has tapped a corporate cyber security expert and former Bush administration official to lead the effort to shore up the country's computer networks and better coordinate with companies that operate 80 percent of those critical systems.
Howard A. Schmidt, a former eBay and Microsoft executive, will become the government's cyber security coordinator, weathering a rocky selection process that dragged on for months, as others turned the job down.
President Barack Obama is expected to make the announcement Tuesday, according to a senior White House official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the decision had not been made public yet.
Schmidt's selection comes more than 10 months after Obama declared cyber security a priority and ordered a broad administration review.
The official said Obama was personally involved in the selection process and chose Schmidt because of his unique background and skills. Schmidt will have regular and direct access to the president for cyber security issues, the official said. Read more.
Revealed: Bush White House Raised Terror Alert Based On Con Man's Wild Al Jazeera "Decoding" Claims
A new article reports how a Nevada-based software firm employee duped the CIA into believing he held the key to decoding secret terrorist messages.
By Liliana Segura | AlterNet
From the Dept. of You-Can't-Make-This-Shit-Up, TPM Muckracker reports:
A self-styled Nevada codebreaker convinced the CIA he could decode secret terrorist targeting information sent through Al Jazeera broadcasts, prompting the Bush White House to raise the terror alert level to Orange (high) in December 2003, with Tom Ridge warning of "near-term attacks that could either rival or exceed what we experience on September 11," according to a new report in Playboy.
We all knew the DHS color-coded terror alerts were bogus and politically-motivated -- Ridge himself recently admitted as much -- but this? This is just ... loony tunes.
According to TPM, "the man who prompted the December 2003 Orange alert was Dennis Montgomery, who has since been embroiled in various lawsuits, including one for allegedly bouncing $1 million in checks during a Caesars Palace spree. His former lawyer calls him a 'habitual liar engaged in fraud.'" Read more.
Break the CIA in Two
By Ray McGovern
After the CIA-led fiasco at the Bay of Pigs in April 1961, President John Kennedy was quoted as saying he wanted to “splinter the CIA into a thousand pieces and scatter it into the winds.” I can understand his anger, but a thousand is probably too many.
Better is a Solomon solution; divide the CIA in two. That way we can throw out the bath water and keep the baby.
Covert action and analysis do not belong together in the same agency—never have, never will. That these two very different tasks were thrown together is an accident of history, one that it is high time to acknowledge and to fix.
The effects of this structural fault became clear to President Harry Truman as he watched the agency at work in its first decade and a half. He was aghast.
Like oil on water, covert action fouls the wellspring of objective analysis—the main task for which Truman and the Congress established the CIA in 1947. The operational tail started wagging the substantive tail almost right away. It has done so ever since—with very unfortunate consequences.
An accident of history? How so?
Covert action practitioners, many of whom showed great courage and imagination in the European and Far Eastern theaters of World War II arrived home wondering whether there was still a call for their expertise. With the Soviet Union taking over large chunks of Europe and the KGB plying its covert-action wares worldwide, the question answered itself; a counter capability was needed.
The big mistake was shoehorning it into an agency being created to fulfill an entirely different mission. As former CIA senior analyst Mel Goodman points out in his most recent book, Failure of Intelligence, there was uncertainty and confusion over where to place responsibility for this capability.
The term “covert action” is a euphemism covering the broad genus of dirty tricks, from overthrowing governments (we now blithely call that particular species “regime change”) to open but nonattributable broadcasting into denied areas.
Secretary of Defense James Forrestal didn’t want the Pentagon to be responsible for covert action in peacetime. And, to their credit, neither did senior leaders of the fledgling CIA. They were no neophytes, and could see that covert operations might easily end up tainting the intelligence product if one Director were responsible for the two incompatible activities.
The experience of the past 62 years has showed, time and time again, that their concern was well founded, as the covert action side has not only polluted substantive analysis but also expanded into high-tech warfare.
Harman is the Lieberman of the House – playing progressive when it suits her interests, but then turning her back on the people who need her during key votes.
In her own words, from a previous election:
“I was flattered to be introduced in the last election as the best Republican in the Democratic primary.”
I can win this race. In 2006, I ran a last-minute campaign against Harman, built mostly on grass-roots efforts – and still took almost 38% of the vote.
Click here to support my campaign – and the broader outreach that we need to get the word out to primary voters that:
- Harman voted to protect the pharmaceutical industry at the expense of patients - making it more difficult for breast cancer patients to buy affordable generics.
Obama Year One: Betrayal and Failure (Part I)
By Stephen Lendman | Blog
Promising change after eight George Bush and Republican dominated years, Barack Obama won the most sweeping non-incumbent victory in over 50 years along with congressional Democrats gaining large House and Senate majorities. In addition, at 56.8%, voter turnout was the highest since Richard Nixon's "secret plan" to end the Vietnam war and his "Southern" and "law and order" strategies beat Hubert Humphrey and independent George Wallace in 1968.
On election night, the mood celebrated hope for progressive change, an end to imperial wars, and a new day for America. When word came around 10PM, expectant thousands in Chicago's Grant Park erupted with chants of "yes we can," hoping Obama would make a difference at a time of deepening economic duress.
In its November 4, 2008 editorial titled, "The Next President," The New York Times called it "one of those moments in history when it is worth pausing to reflect on the basic facts," then listed some:
- for the first time, Americans elected a black president;
- his triumph was "decisive and sweeping, because he saw what is wrong with this country, (and will change direction) to regulate the economy fairly, keep the air clean and the food safe, ensure that the sick have access to health care, and educate children to compete in a globalized world;"
- he "committed to ending a bloody and pointless (Afghan) war (and) restore Americans' civil liberties and (the nation's) reputation around the world;"
- he must now "prevent an economic collapse fed by greed and an orgy of speculation (by) impos(ing) control, coherence, transparency and fairness," in contrast to George Bush; and
- he "now needs the support of all Americans (to help him deal with the) many other urgent problems that must be addressed."
Endorsing his candidacy early on for a socially liberal new beginning, Nation magazine editor, Katrina vanden Heuvel, looked for a "transformational presidency, (a) new era of possibility, a historic opportunity for a progressive governing agenda and a mandate for bold action....Tonight we celebrate," she said.
Campaigning, he offered change, a new course, sweeping government reforms, addressing people needs, and "ensur(ing) that the hopes and concerns of average Americans speak louder in Washington than the hallway whispers of high-priced lobbyists," the same ones he said wouldn't run his administration, but would "have a seat at the table," and why not given their large contributions to him and other Democrats.
Little wonder that a year later hope is now disillusion, frustration, and anger over promises made, then broken with an awakening knowledge that change won't come unless growing millions demand it.
A Man of the People or Machine Politics
Insurgents Hack U.S. Drones $26 Software Is Used to Breach Key Weapons in Iraq; Iranian Backing Suspected
Insurgents Hack U.S. Drones
$26 Software Is Used to Breach Key Weapons in Iraq; Iranian Backing Suspected
By Siobahn Gorman, Yochi J. Dreazen and August Cole | WSJ
Militants in Iraq have used $26 off-the-shelf software to intercept live video feeds from U.S. Predator drones, potentially providing them with information they need to evade or monitor U.S. military operations.
Senior defense and intelligence officials said Iranian-backed insurgents intercepted the video feeds by taking advantage of an unprotected communications link in some of the remotely flown planes' systems. Shiite fighters in Iraq used software programs such as SkyGrabber -- available for as little as $25.95 on the Internet -- to regularly capture drone video feeds, according to a person familiar with reports on the matter.
U.S. officials say there is no evidence that militants were able to take control of the drones or otherwise interfere with their flights. Still, the intercepts could give America's enemies battlefield advantages by removing the element of surprise from certain missions and making it easier for insurgents to determine which roads and buildings are under U.S. surveillance. Read more.
Secret reports, Secret budgets, Secret operations, Secret courts ... A Secret Government!
The liberties of a people never were, nor ever will be, secure, when the transactions of their rulers may be concealed from them. — Patrick Henry
As stated by Patrick Henry with conviction and passion, a democratic government will not last if its operations and policies are not visible to its public. The foundation of our democratic republic is supposed to be based on an open and accountable government. Transparency is what enables accountability.
For several decades post 1945, under the guise of the Cold War, with the creation of the Central Intelligence Agency and an aggressive foreign policy based on overt and covert intervention abroad, the seeds of excessive secrecy were planted, aggressively nurtured, and taken to heights not imaginable in our founding fathers’ vision of transparent and accountable government. Although the Watergate Scandal brought a short-lived wave of awakening, and to a certain degree defiance, by getting Americans to question the extent of and the real need for governmental secrecy, the subsequent political movements were eventually halted with no real action ever taken, thanks to a Congress unwilling to truly exercise its oversight authority over the intelligence community.
With the September 11 Terrorist Attacks the establishment had all it needed to take government secrecy to new heights where neither the Constitution nor the separation of powers would matter or be applicable. These new heights could never be reached in a functioning and live democracy, nor could they be sustained and flourish without a home marked by all the characteristics of a police state. Those new heights were indeed reached, and they surely have been not only sustained, but actually increased; notch by notch. Waving the national security flag nonstop, reminding us on a daily basis of some vague boogiemen terrorists who may be hiding under our beds, drilling the words terror-terrorists-terrorism every hour, did the magic; thanks to the US Media.
Let’s examine some of these new heights of secrecy we’ve reached and appear to have accepted:
For the fiscal year 2005, based on an official report released by the National Archives, the total security classification cost estimates for Government was $7.7 billion. Read more.
'Professor Blair' -- Tony Blair's Second Act: Former British Prime Minister on Iraq, Faith, and His New Life at Yale
Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair is facing criticism back home for his decision to lead his nation into war in Iraq -- a decision Blair says he does not regret, even though weapons of mass destruction never were found after the 2003 invasion.
He sat down with "Good Morning America's" Ron Claiborne this week to talk about Iraq, as well as his second act as a Yale professor teaching a class on faith and globalization as part of his Tony Blair Faith Foundation.
Ron Claiborne: The U.S. and the U.K. went to war on the basis of the belief that there were weapons of mass destruction, that Saddam had them and could deploy them quickly, which turned out apparently not to be the case. Does that therefore invalidate having gone to war?
Tony Blair: For me, the question you're still left with is: Was Saddam a threat and was it right to remove him? When I look back on the years of the interaction between the international community and Saddam, the two wars that he began, the United Nations resolutions that were flouted ... when you look at that and you look at the destruction -- I mean the use, for example, of chemical weapons, whole villages wiped out in one day as a result of the use of chemical weapons against his own people -- my views, spending a lot of time out there in the region now, I think you can at least argue the case that the region is safer without him than with him.
Claiborne: But we went to war on the basis [of weapons of mass destruction].
Blair: And we've got to accept that that intelligence turned out to be wrong, and, that is obviously, a point that's not merely legitimate to make, it goes right to the heart of it. On the other hand, I think it's important then not to go to the other extreme and say, "Well this was someone who was basically not a danger and a source of instability in the region," because I believe that he was. And personally, I think there would always have been a time when you'd have to deal with him. Read more.
Blackwater Guards Tied to Secret Raids by the C.I.A.
By James Risen and Mark Mazzetti | NY Times
Private security guards from Blackwater Worldwide participated in some of the C.I.A.’s most sensitive activities — clandestine raids with agency officers against people suspected of being insurgents in Iraq and Afghanistan and the transporting of detainees, according to former company employees and intelligence officials.
The raids against suspects occurred on an almost nightly basis during the height of the Iraqi insurgency from 2004 to 2006, with Blackwater personnel playing central roles in what company insiders called “snatch and grab” operations, the former employees and current and former intelligence officers said.
Several former Blackwater guards said that their involvement in the operations became so routine that the lines supposedly dividing the Central Intelligence Agency, the military and Blackwater became blurred. Instead of simply providing security for C.I.A. officers, they say, Blackwater personnel at times became partners in missions to capture or kill militants in Iraq and Afghanistan, a practice that raises questions about the use of guns for hire on the battlefield.
Separately, former Blackwater employees said they helped provide security on some C.I.A. flights transporting detainees in the years after the 2001 terror attacks in the United States.
The secret missions illuminate a far deeper relationship between the spy agency and the private security company than government officials had acknowledged. Blackwater’s partnership with the C.I.A. has been enormously profitable for the North Carolina-based company, and became even closer after several top agency officials joined Blackwater. Read more.
Homeland Security Embarks on Big Brother Programs to Read Our Minds and Emotions
Half-baked Homeland Security is spending millions to develop sensors capable of detecting a person's level of 'malintent' as a counterterrorism tool.
By Liliana Segura | AlterNet
In the sci-fi thriller Minority Report, Tom Cruise plays a D.C. police detective, circa 2054, in the department of "pre-crime," an experimental law enforcement unit whose mission -- to hunt down criminals before they strike -- relies on the psychic visions of mutant "pre-cogs" (short for precognition) who can see the future. It may be futuristic Hollywood fantasy, but the underlying premise -- that we can predict (if not see) a person's sinister plans before they follow through -- is already here.
This past February, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) awarded a one-year, $2.6 million grant to the Cambridge, MA.-based Charles Stark Draper Laboratory to develop computerized sensors capable of detecting a person's level of "malintent" -- or intention to do harm. It's only the most recent of numerous contracts awarded to Draper and assorted research outfits by the U.S. government over the past few years under the auspices of a project called "Future Attribute Screening Technologies," or FAST. It's the next wave of behavior surveillance from DHS and taxpayers have paid some $20 million on it so far.
Conceived as a cutting-edge counter-terrorism tool, the FAST program will ostensibly detect subjects' bad intentions by monitoring their physiological characteristics, particularly those associated with fear and anxiety. It's part of a broader "initiative to develop innovative, non-invasive technologies to screen people at security checkpoints," according to DHS.
The "non-invasive" claim might be a bit of a stretch. A DHS report issued last December outlined some of the possible technological features of FAST, which include "a remote cardiovascular and respiratory sensor" to measure "heart rate, heart rate variability, respiration rate, and respiratory sinus arrhythmia," a "remote eye tracker" that "uses a camera and processing software to track the position and gaze of the eyes (and, in some instances, the entire head)," "thermal cameras that provide detailed information on the changes in the thermal properties of the skin in the face," and "a high resolution video that allows for highly detailed images of the face and body … and an audio system for analyzing human voice for pitch change." Read more.
Chris Soghoian, whose post on 8 million times the government has used GPS tracking on Sprint’s customers in the last year, has apparently flushed out the spying policies of many of the nation’s telecoms. Cryptome has them posted – though (as Mary points out) Yahoo has freaked out and initiated take-down proceedings.
Yahoo isn’t happy that a detailed menu of the spying services it provides law enforcement agencies has leaked onto the web.
Shortly after Threat Level reported this week that Yahoo had blocked the FOIA release of its law enforcement and intelligence price list, someone provided a copy of the company’s spying guide to the whistleblower site Cryptome.
The 17-page guide describes Yahoo’s data retention policies and the surveillance capabilities it can provide law enforcement, with a pricing list for these services. Cryptome also published lawful data-interception guides for Cox Communications, SBC, Cingular, Nextel, GTE and other telecoms and service providers. Read more.
Chris Soghoian caught a remarkable admission at a surveillance conference in October. Sprint’s Manager of Electronic Surveillance revealed that law enforcement has used Sprint’s geotracking function 8 million times in the thirteen months prior to his comment.
Sprint Nextel provided law enforcement agencies with its customers’ (GPS) location information over 8 million times between September 2008 and October 2009. This massive disclosure of sensitive customer information was made possible due to the roll-out by Sprint of a new, special web portal for law enforcement officers.
The evidence documenting this surveillance program comes in the form of an audio recording of Sprint’s Manager of Electronic Surveillance, who described it during a panel discussion at a wiretapping and interception industry conference, held in Washington DC in October of 2009.
[M]y major concern is the volume of requests. We have a lot of things that are automated but that’s just scratching the surface. One of the things, like with our GPS tool. We turned it on the web interface for law enforcement about one year ago last month, and we just passed 8 million requests. So there is no way on earth my team could have handled 8 million requests from law enforcement, just for GPS alone. So the tool has just really caught on fire with law enforcement. They also love that it is extremely inexpensive to operate and easy, so, just the sheer volume of requests they anticipate us automating other features, and I just don’t know how we’ll handle the millions and millions of requests that are going to come in.
Now, as he documents in extensive detail, using cell phone location to get the geolocation of someone is just one of a number of uses of legal surveillance techniques that is eluding public reporting. Read more.
President Obama and the Intelligence Community: An Interim Report Card
By Melvin A. Goodman | Truthout
President Obama has had nearly a year to make necessary changes in the intelligence community and the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). While he has been successful in addressing the CIA's renditions, detentions and interrogations programs, he has failed to appoint leaders willing to address the culture of cover-up that exists at the CIA and to make the necessary strategic changes. Until President Obama is willing to address the militarization and centralization of the intelligence community, he will retain his grade of C+ in managing the community.
The president deserves high grades for ending the CIA's use of torture and abuse, closing down the CIA's secret prisons and restoring a legal framework to the renditions policy that has brought embarrassment to the CIA and the United States. His attorney general, Eric Holder, proved to be particularly tough-minded in releasing the four torture memoranda drafted by John Yoo and Jay Bybee over the loud protests of both the director of national intelligence (DNI) and the director of the CIA.
Holder also has held firm in his decision to investigate possible criminal behavior by CIA personnel. The president has not officially ended the odious use of renditions, but apparently there have been no renditions in the past year due in part to the extreme opposition of West and East European countries. European countries have been embarrassed politically over the use of European sites and facilities for both CIA "black sites" and the conduct of extraordinary renditions. Read more.
We've seen it over and over again: when the government can hide behind the veil of secrecy, it can abuse its power. That's why we're supposed to have checks and balances on power, but all too often governments figure out ways to get around that. The latest example is that US attorneys issued a subpoena to the person hosting the news website Indymedia, demanding a logfile of all visitors from a particular day and ordered the woman not to reveal the existence of the subpoena itself. Indymedia doesn't keep its logfiles, so it simply had nothing to turn over, and after realizing this, the government withdrew the request. However, the requirement to stay silent about it still was there, and the woman asked the EFF for help. With the EFF involved, the government finally backed down and admitted that there was absolutely no legal basis for demanding that the woman not talk about the subpoena, and "chose not to go to court" over the matter, despite threatening to at an earlier time.
This is hardly the first time we've heard about the government using (and abusing) procedures like national security letters to not just demand all sorts of info, but also demand that the recipient not tell anyone about it. Read more.
The U.S. Government has agreed to pay $3 million to a former Drug Enforcement Administration official who claims he was spied on by a CIA agent and a U.S. diplomat while working at the U.S. Embassy in Burma more than a decade ago.
The settlement of a long-running lawsuit brought ex-DEA agent Richard Horn was filed tonight [11/04/09] in U.S. District Court in Washington.
Horn claimed that in 1993 a CIA officer in Rangoon, Arthur Brown, and the chief of mission there, Franklin Huddle, conspired to place a listening device in a coffee table at Horn's residence and that the pair then relayed information they obtained to Washington.
The case became a massive headache for the government recently after U.S. District Court Judge Royce Lamberth found that government lawyers committed fraud on the court by pressing forward with state secrets claims in the case even after Huddle's cover was formally rolled back by the CIA. Read more.
By Jared Allen, The Hill
The CIA may have misled Congress at least five times since 2001, two Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee said Tuesday.
Intelligence subcommittee Chairwomen Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.) and Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.) are leading an ongoing investigation into what they described as a practice of incomplete and often misleading intelligence briefings, which arose in the wake of CIA Director Leon Panetta’s June 24 admission that intelligence officials failed to notify Congress about a top-secret program to assassinate al Qaeda leaders.
“That is an example of a failure to notify but we think a symptom of a larger disease,” Schakowsky said on Tuesday.
Even the least of us deserves justice and accountability starts with you. So why don't you send out a reminder. Even Bush deserves all the justice he can get and we should ensure he gets his day in court.
Use these images as a 4 PAK and send 4 different cards to the same person; or, choose your favorite and send the same postcard to 4 different persons.
It's easy. Each individual postcard is formatted to the dimensions of 4.25"x5.5". Quarter a sheet of paper and combine the cards as you like. Don't forget to print the other side. Remember the postage stamps. Then mail one to your best beloved, your friends and neighbors, some acquaintance--your politicians and their parties. Show someone you care about them and about justice. Don’t forget Cheney, Condi, Gonzales and Rove: CCGR 4 PAK.
MAY BE USED AS HANDBILLS W/O REVERSE SIDE.
John Conyers has been busy. In addition to drafting bills to improve FISA and PATRIOT (more on that later), he has introduced three more bills that would improve Congressional Oversight of the Executive.
The Department of Justice Inspector General Authority Improvement Act of 2009
This Act will authorize the Department of Justice Inspector General to investigate attorney misconduct within the Department of Justice. Under current law, all allegations of wrongdoing by the Department of Justice attorneys are required to be investigated by the by the department’s Office of Professional Responsibility, rather than the Inspector General. In contrast with the statutorily independent Inspector General, the Office of Professional Responsibility is supervised by the Attorney General.
This limitation on authority does not exist for any other agency Inspector General. The Department of Justice Inspector General Authority Improvement Act of 2009 will make the authority of the Department of Justice Inspector General consistent with that of all other agencies and will prevent future abuses and politicization within the Department.
DOJ’s Inspector General, Glenn Fine, has been pushing for this authority for some time (and not just because it would give him more authority). It fixes two problems that exist right now–one, that lawyers in DOJ are not held legally responsible in the same way as others might be, because they escape IG oversight (and often benefit from quiet settlements on complaints handled by OPR). And, more importantly, the current situation (in which OPR–which reports to the Attorney General–conducts investigations of lawyers) makes it almost impossible to investigate the actions of the Attorney General or his close allies. Alberto Gonzales was able to put off investigations into the US Attorney scandal for some time this way. Read more.
City Councils Across U.S. to Consider Limits on Local Surveillance and Immigration Enforcement;
Local Investigation of Torture and Prosecution of Federal Officials
Today, the Bill of Rights Defense Committee (BORDC) released model legislation for city governments that support the rule of law. Two ordinances provide an opportunity for individual municipalities to do what the federal government has not: protect the fundamental rights and liberties of law-abiding Americans to be free of arbitrary monitoring, surveillance, detention, search, or arrest by local law enforcement authorities; and bring to justice senior government officials complicit in torture.
BORDC offers these pieces of model legislation to activists and public officials across the country as Congress considers reauthorizing the PATRIOT Act without meaningful protections for civil liberties, and on the eve of two major events: the federal government’s renewal of controversial 287(g) local immigration enforcement agreements; and the 15th anniversary of the United States’ ratification of the Convention Against Torture.
Obama Administration Accused Again of Concealing Bush-Era Crimes
By Matt Renner | Truthout
President Obama promised to usher in a new era of government transparency when he was sworn into office nine months ago.
On January 21, Obama signed an executive order instructing all federal agencies and departments to "adopt a presumption in favor" of Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests and promised to make the federal government more transparent.
"The government should not keep information confidential merely because public officials might be embarrassed by disclosure, because errors and failures might be revealed or because of speculative or abstract fears," Obama's order said. "In responding to requests under the FOIA, executive branch agencies should act promptly and in a spirit of cooperation, recognizing that such agencies are servants of the public."
But since that time, the Obama administration has sought to conceal information in several high-profile court cases, in an effort that civil libertarians say amounts to covering up crimes committed by the Bush administration.
Last week, in a federal courthouse in New York, Obama's Justice Department attorneys again argued in favor of secrecy. The case involved 23 lawyers representing detainees at Guantánamo Bay who alleged in court papers that they were targets of the Bush administration's so-called Terrorist Surveillance Program(TSP), an initiative operated by the National Security Agency (NSA) that Obama called "unlawful and unconstitutional" during his presidential campaign in 2007.
"Our work with our clients may have been deeply compromised by illegal surveillance carried out by the last administration," said Shayana Kadidal, senior managing attorney of the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) Guantánamo Global Justice Initiative, a civil rights organization. "The new administration has no legal basis for refusing to come clean about any violations of attorney-client privilege by the NSA." Read more.
Like a vampire rising from it's grave each night to feed on the privacy rights of Americans, the Federal Bureau of Investigation is moving forward with programs that drain the life blood from our constitutional liberties.
From the wholesale use of informants and provocateurs to stifle political dissent, to Wi-Fi hacking and viral computer spyware to follow our every move, the FBI has turned massive data-mining of personal information into a growth industry. In the process they are building the surveillance state long been dreamed of by American securocrats.
A chilling new report by investigative journalist Ryan Singel provides startling details of how the FBI's National Security Branch Analysis Center (NSAC) is quietly morphing into the Total Information Awareness (TIA) system of convicted Iran-Contra felon, Admiral John M. Poindexter. According to documents obtained by Wired:
A fast-growing FBI data-mining system billed as a tool for hunting terrorists is being used in hacker and domestic criminal investigations, and now contains tens of thousands of records from private corporate databases, including car-rental companies, large hotel chains and at least one national department store. (Ryan Singel, "FBI's Data-Mining System Sifts Airline, Hotel, Car-Rental Records," Wired, September 23, 2009)
Among the latest revelations of out-of-control secret state spookery, Wired disclosed that personal details on customers have been provided to the Bureau by the Wyndham Worldwide hotel chain "which includes Ramada Inn, Days Inn, Super 8, Howard Johnson and Hawthorn Suites." Additional records were obtained from the Avis rental car company and Sears department stores.
Singel reports that the Bureau is planning a massive expansion of NSAC, one that would enlarge the scope, and mission, of the Foreign Terrorist Tracking Task Force (FTTTF) and the file-crunching, privacy-killing Investigative Data Warehouse (IDW).
"Among the items on its wish list," Singel writes, "is the database of the Airlines Reporting Corporation--a company that runs a backend system for travel agencies and airlines." If federal snoops should obtain ARC's data-sets, the FBI would have unlimited access to "billions of American's itineraries, as well as the information they give to travel agencies, such as date of birth, credit card numbers, names of friends and family, e-mail addresses, meal preferences and health information." Read more.
More below the fold. Click "Read more" to view.
Telephone Company Is Arm of Government, Feds Admit in Spy Suit
By Ryan Singel | Wired
The Department of Justice has finally admitted it in court papers: The nation’s telecom companies are an arm of the government — at least when it comes to secret spying.
Fortunately, a judge says that relationship isn’t enough to squash a rights group’s open records request for communications between the nation’s telecoms and the feds.
The Electronic Frontier Foundation wanted to see what role telecom lobbying of Justice Department played when the government began its year-long, and ultimately successful, push to win retroactive immunity for AT&T and others being sued for unlawfully spying on American citizens.
The feds argued that the documents showing consultation over the controversial telecom immunity proposal weren’t subject to the Freedom of Information Act since they were protected as “intra-agency” records:
"The communications between the agencies and telecommunications companies regarding the immunity provisions of the proposed legislation have been regarded as intra-agency because the government and the companies have a common interest in the defense of the pending litigation and the communications regarding the immunity provisions concerned that common interest."
U.S. District Court Judge Jeffery White disagreed and ruled on September 24 that the feds had to release the names of the telecom employees that contacted the Justice Department and the White House to lobby for a get-out-of-court-free card. Read more.
It's Not the Prosecutors' Committee, it's the Judiciary Committee
by Senator Russ Feingold | Daily Kos
...I want to say how disappointed I was in the debate in the committee. Today particularly, I started to feel as if too many members of the committee from both parties are willing to accept uncritically whatever the executive branch says about even the most reasonable proposed changes in the law. Of course we should consider the perspective of the FBI and the Justice Department. Keeping Americans safe is everyone’s priority. But we also need to consider a full range of perspectives and come to our own conclusions about how best to protect the American people and preserve their freedoms. Protecting the rights of innocent people should be a part of that equation.
Bad news today from the Judiciary Committee. At the beginning of the year, I had high hopes for the Patriot Act reauthorization process. We had just elected a President with a strong civil liberties record in the Senate. His Attorney General had supported some reforms during consideration of the last reauthorization bill in 2005. And Democrats controlled the Senate by such a large margin that our advantage on the Judiciary Committee ended up at 12-7 after Sen. Specter switched parties. Even as recently as 10 days ago, I hoped to be able to support a reauthorization bill introduced by Sen. Leahy that, while narrower than the JUSTICE Act that Senator Durbin and I have championed, did contain several important and necessary protections for the privacy of innocent Americans.
Events over the past two weeks dashed those hopes. Over the course of two business meetings, Sen. Leahy’s bill was diluted to the point that I had to vote against it. It falls well short of what the Congress must do to correct the problems with the Patriot Act. Read more.
Beneath the hype: Is Iran close to nukes?
Retired CIA analyst Ray McGovern speaks on disinformation, Iran, and "faith-based intelligence"