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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.
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."
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.)
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.”
By Bob Egelko, The San Francisco Chronicle
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.
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.
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.
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.
Blank Checks and Balances: CIA Says Its Domestic Spying Isn't Domestic Spying, It's Domestic War Making
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.
By Dave Lindorff
With Congress no longer performing its sworn role of defending the US Constitution, the National Lawyers Guild Mass Defense Committee and the Partnership for Civil Justice today filed requests under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) asking the Department of Justice, the Department of Homeland Security, the FBI, the CIA and the National Parks Service to release "all their information on the planning of the coordinated law enforcement crackdown on Occupy protest encampments in multiple cities over the course of recent days and weeks."
Police State Tactics: Signs Point to a Coordinated National Program to Try and Unoccupy Wall Street and Other Cities
By Dave Lindorff
The ugly hand of the federal government is becoming increasingly suspected behind what appears to be a nationwide attempt to repress and evict the Occupation Movement.
Across the country in recent days, ultimatums have been issues to groups occupying Portland, OR, Chicago, IL, San Francisco, Dallas, TX, Atlanta, GA, and most recently New York, NY, where the Occupation Movement began on September 17. The two most recent eviction efforts, in Oakland and New York, have been the worst.
Computer Vision Experts Develop 'Questionable Observer Detector'
ScienceDaily (Oct. 12, 2011) — It's become a standard plot device of television detective shows: criminals always return to the scene of the crime. And law enforcement officials believe that perpetrators of certain crimes, mostly notably arson, do indeed have an inclination to witness their handiwork. Also, U.S. military in the Middle East feel that IED bomb makers return to see the results of their work in order to evolve their designs.
By Michael Collins
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) just issued an environmental report on its enhanced security plan to cover an area extending from the East Coast to the West Coast, from the northern border of the United States to 100 miles south of the border. While there are few specifics on the new security measures, the environmental report offers enough to see how we will be protected against threats to national security coming from Canada. The Department of Homeland security will enhance efforts and technologies to reduce the danger from "known terrorist affiliates and extremist groups [that] have an undisputed presence along the Northern Border in both the United States and Canada." Northern Border Security Programs, p. 1-3, September 2011 (Northern Border) (Image: thelastminute)
By Charles M. Young
Shahid Buttar is the executive director of the Bill of Rights Defense Committee.
Reflections on the 9/11 attacks are important and moving. But most overlook the enduring legacy of the attacks, in the form of the vastly greater damage done to American principles over the past decade. Whether in the context of surveillance, torture, or the congressional cowardice that has enabled them, our leaders have sullied the legacy of an America that once inspired the world.
Committee Member Denies CIA Involvement in Libya War
Washington D.C. (September 9, 2011) – Congressman Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) today took to the House Floor in opposition to the Intelligence Authorization Act of 2012.
Congressman Kucinich’s remarks follow:
“I rise in strong support of the dedicated public servants of our intelligence community. Their work to ensure national security is to be commended. However, I must oppose the Intelligence Authorization Act of 2012.
We are given figures in the multi multi billions spent on the wars of choice and the so called 'homeland security', but there are huge amounts, in the multi billions, not known or labeled top secret and blacked out in government reports on the rapid growth of intelligence within government and the added private contractors and the costs of that growth. As pointed out in the 'PBS Frontline' report, below, what has it accomplish over all these years, especially as to the main mission after 9/11 and finally getting bin Laden, found through intelligence of a small group and carried out by a small group of 'special forces'.
Juan Cole is a brand name that is no longer trusted. And that has been the case for some time for the Professor from Michigan. After warning of the “difficulties” with the Iraq War, Cole swung over to ply it with burning kisses on the day of the U.S. invasion of Iraq. His fervor was not based on Saddam Hussein’s fictional possession of weapons of mass destruction but on the virtues of “humanitarian imperialism.”
The Rise of Another CIA Yes Man
By Ray McGovern
August 29, 2011
Editor’s Note(Consortiumnews.com): The gross manipulation of CIA analysis under George W. Bush pushed a new generation of “yes men” into the agency’s top ranks. Now one of those aspiring bureaucrats will be Gen. David Petraeus’s right-hand man, writes ex-CIA analyst Ray McGovern. (Also, at end of article, see special comments from several former CIA insiders.)
As Gen. David Petraeus prepares to take the helm at CIA in September, he can expect unswerving loyalty from his likely deputy, Michael Morell, who has been acting director since July when Leon Panetta left to become Secretary of Defense.
Like many senior CIA officials in recent years, Morell’s record is checkered, at best. He held key jobs in intelligence analysis over the past decade as the CIA often served as a handmaiden to the war propagandists.
September 2011 - One morning in June 2001, three months before the 9/11 attacks on the United States, I happened to be interviewing a senior official from the British Secret Intelligence Service, M.I.6. His current focus was the war on drugs, not international terrorism, but he shared a piece of information that united the two subjects.
A short time earlier, the official told me, the U.S. National Security Agency had intercepted a call between two satellite-telephone users in Afghanistan—the al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden and the Taliban leader Mullah Mohammed Omar. They had been discussing the Taliban’s ban on growing opium poppies, imposed the previous summer—a remarkably effective edict that had shrunk production in areas they controlled almost to zero.
Not going to add much to this except the first thoughts I've had since this was breaking across the pond.
What the hell has the FOX been doing here?
And now with this coming out:
What was that constant cheer leader and their minions, still, of these present long running invasions and occupations, as well as Huge supporters of the policies ordered and carried out by the previous administration, doing in relation to our soldiers families if they had no regard for the British families of the Fallen?!
By Dave Lindorff
Tomorrow is the anniversary of the day that the nation’s founders, gathered in Philadelphia a few miles from my house (which as it happens was already standing and about 28 years old already at the time), at great personal risk, signed the Declaration of Independence, with its ringing declaration that all men--Americans and everyone else, too--are born equal and are endowed with certain inalienable rights, among them life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
Five years ago at this time, I was just starting my road trip promoting my book, The Case for Impeachment (St. Martin’s Press, 2006), which documents the wholesale assault, by then President George W. Bush, and his chief consigliere, Vice President Dick Cheney, on those bold concepts and on the subsequent Constitution and Bill of Rights which those same founders set up as the guiding principles of this nation.
By John Grant
Israel and its international operatives are working overtime to stop the 10-ship Gaza flotilla from leaving Athens. The Audacity Of Hope, with 40 Americans on board, tried to leave the harbor Friday only to be chased down and threatened by an armed Greek Coast Guard boat and forced to return to a dock. Trumped-up charges may be brought against the captain of the boat. Greece is now prohibiting all boats from leaving. Another boat had a propeller shaft cut and a third was equally disabled by some kind of sabotage. Others have suddenly been plagued with questions about their insurance or their seaworthiness. Israel has openly threatened to bar news organizations with reporters onboard a flotilla boat from entering Israel for ten years. The US government has made vague threats that it might charge US citizens in the flotilla with something.
Juan Cole & Glenn Carle: Bush Admin Asked CIA Agent Glenn Carle to Help Discredit Juan Cole's Reputation.
By Jim Wolf
WASHINGTON | Tue May 31, 2011 7:24pm EDT
(Reuters) - Top Pentagon contractors have been bleeding secrets for years as a result of penetrations of their computer networks, current and former national security officials say.
The last ten years have witnessed an assault on the constitutional rights of law-abiding Americans, led largely by the FBI. Appointed mere days before the 9/11 attacks, Director Robert S. Mueller III has guided the bureau through the resurrection of many long discredited practices from its COINTELPRO era. Yet, the Obama administration has proposed extending Mueller's term as FBI director. Congress should reject the proposal and insist on a nominee from outside the bureau to restore accountability, law and order.
By Linn Washington, Jr.
Three days after President Barack Obama visited Ground Zero in New York City on May 5th with his message of "justice being done" with the slaying of terrorist Osama bin Laden, disturbing news broke about this administration's blocking of a quest for justice in the infamous May 1970 killing of four Kent State students.
Those four students fell in a barrage of gunfire on May 4, 1970 by Ohio National Guardsmen who opened fire during a peaceful protest against the Vietnam War on Kent State’s campus. That lethal fusillade of 67 shots during a 13-second period also wounded nine others, some seriously.
That blocking action by Obama officials includes an apparent unwillingness to investigate new evidence providing damning insights about that shooting orgy forty years ago, which heightened criticism about U.S. foreign policy in Vietnam and about the abuse of domestic political dissidents.
Beware of Americans...Bearing Gifts
By Shaukat Qadir
I am sure everyone knows this but merely to ensure we are on the same grid, a policy has one or more aims to be achieved in a specified period and spells out how the said aims will be achieved. While I have no intention of fleshing out a policy in this article, I will merely seek to emphasise the need for one and suggest what it should be aiming at. Pakistan has been without any policy since Ayub Khan’s decline in 1964!
Let us start by looking at what every ordinary citizen of any country, including Pakistan, wants. First and foremost is security: Not just security of life and limb or security from neighbouring enemies, but also food security, water security, job security, economic security, energy security etc. The list is long, and he/she wants to live in peace, so as to have the right to ‘pursue happiness’.