Tagged: Bush

Germany expels CIA official over US spying on German government

The German government has ordered the expulsion of a CIA official in Berlin in response to two cases of alleged spying by the US…The official is said to have acted as a CIA contact at the US embassy, reports say, in a scandal that has infuriated German politicians.

A German intelligence official was arrested last week on suspicion of spying.

An inquiry had also begun into a German defence ministry worker, reports said…

Earlier this week the White House described the partnership between the US and Germany as one built on respect. But no-one likes to be spied on, especially when it’s your friend doing the spying.

This latest episode is yet another reminder of how American surveillance programmes are causing friction with allies. It’s angered many in Germany, where the issue of snooping is historically a very sensitive one, and many are asking: “What? Again?”

It wasn’t too long ago, after all, that we heard the National Security Agency was spying on Chancellor Merkel’s mobile phone. After a review into the surveillance programmes, President Obama promised the US wouldn’t spy on its friends overseas…

The request by the German government follows increasing frustration that it has failed to get US assurances that spying would cease on German citizens from Chancellor Merkel down.

She was shocked to learn that her mobile phone conversations were secretly being monitored while President Obama was greeting her as a friend on his visit to Berlin.

Chancellor Merkel has tried to maintain a balance between condemning America’s actions but also maintaining cordial relations. Each revelation has made that balance harder to achieve…

The chairman of the Bundestag (parliament) committee overseeing the secret service said the action had been taken because of America’s spying on German politicians and its failure to co-operate and provide adequate responses.

The US has not denied allegations that a German intelligence agency employee arrested last week was passing secret documents to the US National Security Agency (NSA).

However, the latest reports that an employee within the defence ministry was also spying for the US were considered more serious. Although no arrest was made, searches were carried out on Wednesday at the ministry and elsewhere…

On Thursday, Mrs Merkel said spying on allies was a “waste of energy”…”We have so many problems, we should focus on the important things,” she said…”In the Cold War maybe there was general mistrust. Today we are living in the 21st Century. Today there are completely new threats.”

Anyone who thinks American foreign policy is governed by someone living in the 21st Century should change their meds. From the advent of the Cold War right through Bush/Obama playing kissy-kissy with the NSA and CIA there is no change in the attitude of Imperial America towards the rest of the world.

Our government, the White House and Congress both, not only think we’re the cops of the world, we’re the same kind of cops who beat civil rights demonstrators, who colluded with the worst of racist America, who serve as flunkies for the most backwards elements of corporate wealth. Same as it ever was – for the last seventy years.

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Judge stands by order demanding release of CIA torture records

A military judge has rejected the US government’s attempts to keep accounts of the CIA’s torture of a detainee secret, setting up a fateful choice for the Obama administration in staunching the fallout from its predecessor’s brutal interrogations.

In a currently-sealed 24 June ruling at Guantánamo Bay – described to the Guardian – Judge James Pohl upheld his April order demanding the government produce details of the detentions and interrogations of Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri during his years in CIA custody. The Miami Herald also reported on the ruling, citing three sources who had seen it.

Among those details are the locations of the “black site” secret prisons in which Nashiri was held until his September 2006 transfer to Guantánamo; the names and communications of CIA personnel there; training and other procedures for guards and interrogators; and discussions of the application of so-called “enhanced interrogation techniques”…

Pohl’s orders represent a watershed in disclosure for the commissions. Lawyers for Guantánamo detainees charged with war crimes have long criticised their lack of access to CIA detentions files, which they say prevents them from fully defending their clients, several of whom are known to have been abused in custody…

The options available to the government, should it continue its challenge to keep Nashiri’s interrogations secret, have now contracted substantially…

Pohl’s order does not necessarily mean that the public will gain greater insight into the CIA’s infamous post-9/11 interrogations. Only lawyers for Nashiri will get to view the CIA records.

Additionally, there is confusion over whether the CIA will in fact comply with the order, as the military commissions have never before ordered the agency to do anything. While the agency has fought hard to limit the Senate’s purview of its detainee torture – to the point where its operatives crossed a technical firewall that the Senate considers an act of spying on it – flouting a judge’s order would be a flagrant and visible act of defiance.

There’s a bit of blather over redaction and the Senate talking about doing this or that. I’m not convinced we have any elected officials with enough backbone to release documentary evidence of the torture we all know was committed in our name by the Republican administration from 2000-2008.

Frankly, I’m still of the opinion that Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld – and any leading bureaucrats in our spy agencies who authorized the use of torture on detainees – be put on trial for war crimes. We would ask for no less if our citizens were subject to the same injustice.

Generals made money on the side from the Iraq war!

More than 1,200 people are under investigation for a US military recruitment fraud during the Iraq war, officials say.

Two generals and dozens of colonels are implicated in the alleged scheme, in which referral fees were illegally collected for recruiting soldiers.

The fraud is said to have already cost the US government at least $29m (£17.7m) and may top $100m in total…

The National Guard programme – established in 2005 and later expanded to the Army and Army Reserve – paid soldiers, civilians and retirees $2,000 to $7,500 to recruit friends and family…

According to investigators, numerous schemes were used to defraud under the programme, which saw the Army pay out more than $300m for 130,000 recruits during the Iraq war.

High school principals and guidance counsellors were said to have accepted money for recruiting students who they knew were already planning to join the US military.

Other recruiters illegally accepted bonuses after forcing subordinates to register as recruiting assistants, before substituting their own bank account information.

More than 700 recruiters and 200 military officers are under investigation, and several former recruiters and soldiers have been indicted on federal charges.

“Clearly, we’re talking about one of the largest criminal investigations in the history of the Army,” financial oversight subcommittee chair Senator Claire McCaskill told USA Today.

“This is discouraging and depressing,” she added. “[It] is just a mess from top to bottom.”

It is kind of silly to expect more honesty from our military than we ever got from Congress or the Bush White House. Lying for profit was an established part of daily business – whether we look at Dick Cheney and Halliburton Industries or National Guard officers and the “recruits” they sent to Iraq. Only the size of the fraud is different.

And we actually arrest generals.

NSA thugs don’t deny spying on members of Congress

Once in a lifetime: Upton Sinclair, Daniel Ellsworth, Edward Snowden

The National Security Agency on Saturday released a statement in answer to questions from a senator about whether it “has spied, or is … currently spying, on members of Congress or other American elected officials”, in which it did not deny collecting communications from legislators of the US Congress to whom it says it is accountable.

In a letter dated 3 January, Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont defined “spying” as “gathering metadata on calls made from official or personal phones, content from websites visited or emails sent, or collecting any other data from a third party not made available to the general public in the regular course of business”…

…The agency pointed to “privacy protections” which it says it keeps on all Americans’ phone records.

The statement read: “NSA’s authorities to collect signals intelligence data include procedures that protect the privacy of US persons. Such protections are built into and cut across the entire process. Members of Congress have the same privacy protections as all US persons. NSA is fully committed to transparency with Congress…

Same as it ever was. Our government lies about lying.

Apple anger over NSA hacking ain’t alone

Tim Cook pissed off

If Walmart or McDonald’s began describing the Obama Administration as an unconstitutional threat to the privacy of its customers, it would be front page/holy-cow news…But that’s what is happening in Silicon Valley right now, with America’s biggest tech companies.

The most interesting two words in Apple’s official statement today on the news that the NSA can put spyware on 100% of Apple’s products, including the iPhone, are these: “malicious hackers.”

The company said it was unaware of the NSA’s hacking program, called “DROPOUTJEEP,” and that it was working to end the breach. But note that Apple’s statement went out of its way to portray the U.S. government as a security threat:

We will continue to use our resources to stay ahead of malicious hackers and defend our customers from security attacks, regardless of who’s behind them.

Apple isn’t alone in its ire against the NSA. Most people think that the major tech companies — Apple, Facebook, Yahoo, Microsoft, etc. — have been pussycats in terms of the NSA’s domestic surveillance program. In fact there is a bunch of evidence that they hate it, and were unaware of its full extent. Here’s what was said by Microsoft, which has been the most aggressive in publicly expressing its anger about domestic spying, from our coverage earlier this month:

… government snooping potentially now constitutes an ‘advanced persistent threat,’ alongside sophisticated malware and cyber attacks…We all want to live in a world that is safe and secure, but we also want to live in a country that is protected by the Constitution…

“The anger in the tech business about the NSA’s spying is wide and deep.” And I doubt any change in Administration, who’s in the White House, who is in charge of either house of Congress, will make significant difference. The best Americans in any portion of our tech industry have learned the lesson that American dissidents learned long ago.

You can’t trust either flavor of establishment politicians any further than you can throw them uphill into a heavy wind. Yes, there are courageous individuals who dissent from status quo “Patriot Acts”. You’ll probably never need to take off your shoes to count them all.

Snowden revealed crimes against US constitution – Al Gore

Gore Snowden

Former US vice-president Al Gore has described the activities of the National Security Agency as “outrageous” and “completely unacceptable” and said whistleblower Edward Snowden has “revealed evidence” of crimes against the US constitution.

Gore, speaking Tuesday night at McGill University in Montreal, said he was in favour of using surveillance to ensure national security, but Snowden’s revelations showed that those measures had gone too far…

Gore had previously said he believed the practice of the NSA collecting US citizens phone records was unlawful and “not really the American way”, but his comments on Tuesday represent his strongest criticism yet.

Asked about Snowden, the NSA whistleblower whose revelations have been reported extensively by the Guardian, Gore said the leaks had revealed unconstitutional practices

Gore, the former vice-president, 2000 Democratic presidential nominee and 2007 Nobel Peace Prize winner, said the NSA’s efforts to monitor communications had gone to “absurd” lengths, the Canadian Press reported.

“When you are looking for a needle in a haystack, it’s not always wise to pile more hay on the haystack,” he said…

I voted for Gore in 2000 and he won the vote – just not the election. Courtesy of creeps in black robes in Washington, DC.

I would have voted for him, again, in 2004. John Kerry has inspired nothing but distrust in my mind going all the way back to his opportunist decision to use the anti-war movement to launch his political career.

Kerry – as Obama turned out to be – was the lesser of two evils. Or as I like to put it, I voted against the evil of two lessers.

Germany, Brazil offer anti-spying resolution at U.N.

image

Germany and Brazil are drafting a U.N. General Assembly resolution that would demand an end to excessive spying and invasion of privacy after a former U.S. intelligence contractor revealed massive international surveillance programs, U.N. diplomats said on Friday.

Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff and German Chancellor Angela Merkel have both condemned the widespread snooping by the U.S. National Security Agency.

“This resolution will probably have enormous support in the GA (General Assembly), since no one likes the NSA spying on them,” a Western U.N. diplomat said on condition of anonymity.

General Assembly resolutions are non-binding, unlike resolutions of the 15-nation Security Council. But assembly resolutions that enjoy broad international support can carry significant moral and political weight.

Merkel demanded on Thursday that Washington strike a “no-spying” agreement with Berlin and Paris by the end of the year, adding she wanted action from President Barack Obama, not just apologetic words.

Last month, Rousseff used her position as the opening speaker at the General Assembly’s annual gathering of world leaders to yaccuse the United States of violating human rights and international law through espionage that included spying on her email.

Rousseff also expressed her displeasure by calling off a high-profile state visit to the United States scheduled for this month over reports that the NSA had been spying on Brazil.

The arrogant Ugly American never really left the White House. The military-industrial complex achieved all its Cold War goals early on. Almost every president after Eisenhower was able to try his hand at a large or small war, keeping death and destruction hardware up-to-date. As often as our government lectured about peace, taxpayers ponied up for undeclared and unfunded wars, have continued to pick up the tab for 750+ military bases around the world. We are more of a danger to peace than any imperial force before us. We make the British Empire look like a traveling sewing circle.

From Congress to local polling places, there is damned little challenge to any executive mission termed necessary to national security. The War Department became the Department of Defense. God joined our pledge to the flag and our currency – and there must be a joke somewhere in that one. The sum of the four most recent presidential terms is complete agreement on our natural right to spy on everyone from laborers to prime ministers, home and away. The only difference being which mealy-mouthed interpretation of the Constitution is relied on.

AT&T saves decades of call records for the DEA


DEA agents – or AT&T employees?

For at least six years, law enforcement officials working on a counternarcotics program have had routine access, using subpoenas, to an enormous AT&T database that contains the records of decades of Americans’ phone calls — parallel to but covering a far longer time than the National Security Agency’s hotly disputed collection of phone call logs.

The Hemisphere Project, a partnership between federal and local drug officials and AT&T that has not previously been reported, involves an extremely close association between the government and the telecommunications giant.

The government pays AT&T to place its employees in drug-fighting units around the country. Those employees sit alongside Drug Enforcement Administration agents and local detectives and supply them with the phone data from as far back as 1987.

The project comes to light at a time of vigorous public debate over the proper limits on government surveillance and on the relationship between government agencies and communications companies. It offers the most significant look to date at the use of such large-scale data for law enforcement, rather than for national security.

The scale and longevity of the data storage appears to be unmatched by other government programs, including the N.S.A.’s gathering of phone call logs under the Patriot Act. The N.S.A. stores the data for nearly all calls in the United States, including phone numbers and time and duration of calls, for five years.

Hemisphere covers every call that passes through an AT&T switch — not just those made by AT&T customers — and includes calls dating back 26 years, according to Hemisphere training slides bearing the logo of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy. Some four billion call records are added to the database every day, the slides say; technical specialists say a single call may generate more than one record. Unlike the N.S.A. data, the Hemisphere data includes information on the locations of callers.

The slides were given to The New York Times by Drew Hendricks, a peace activist in Port Hadlock, Wash. He said he had received the PowerPoint presentation, which is unclassified but marked “Law enforcement sensitive,” in response to a series of public information requests to West Coast police agencies.

The program was started in 2007, according to the slides, and has been carried out in great secrecy.

“All requestors are instructed to never refer to Hemisphere in any official document,” one slide says. A search of the Nexis database found no reference to the program in news reports or Congressional hearings.

The Obama administration acknowledged the extraordinary scale of the Hemisphere database and the unusual embedding of AT&T employees in government drug units in three states.

But they said the project, which has proved especially useful in finding criminals who discard cellphones frequently to thwart government tracking, employed routine investigative procedures used in criminal cases for decades and posed no novel privacy issues.

Crucially, they said, the phone data is stored by AT&T, and not by the government as in the N.S.A. program. It is queried for phone numbers of interest mainly using what are called “administrative subpoenas,” those issued not by a grand jury or a judge but by a federal agency, in this case the D.E.A.

The government will offer up blather about success at shutting down drug dealers. Worthy of one more ironic slow clap. Success arrived at by compromising the privacy of the citizens of a supposedly free country is crap. Government self-praise floating atop a cesspool of corrupt practices is just one more signal of imperial power clasped to the bosom of power-hungry politicians.

Relying on one of our royal corporations to store and dole out information on every citizen smacks of one more sci-fi prediction come true. Corporate networks functioning as the best ally of a potentially fascist state ain’t exactly something worth bragging about. Even though that will be the response from hacks in both parties now that Drew Hendricks has turned up one more Big Brother watchdog in our lives.

Bradley Manning’s mom urges him to ‘never give up hope’

The mother of Bradley Manning, the US army private who is this week expected to be handed a long jail sentence for his role in the WikiLeaks dump of US state secrets, has said she believes she may never see him again.

Speaking before Wednesday’s sentencing of the 25-year-old who was found guilty of espionage, theft and computer fraud, Susan Manning urged her son to “never give up hope“.

Susan Manning, who lives in Pembrokeshire in Wales, has health problems and has not seen her son since 2011. In a rare statement in the Mail on Sunday, she said: “I know I may never see you again but I know you will be free one day. I pray it is soon. I love you Bradley and I always will…”

Susan Manning reportedly could not bring herself to watch TV or listen to the radio to hear last week’s verdict but waited for her sister, Sharon Staples, to tell her by phone.

Staples told the paper the family is now “praying for leniency” and described her sister’s shock at seeing Manning on her last visit to see him locked up in the US marine base in Quantico in February 2011.

“He was sitting on the other side of a glass partition and when I walked in I heard the sound of the chains round his hands and feet before I saw him,” Staples said. “Most of the time they sat in silence but held each others’ gaze. She didn’t get to hug him but was able to tell him she loved him.”

Afterwards, according to Staples, she said: “You wouldn’t treat a bloody animal like they’re treating Bradley.”

Like in the Land of Liberty and Justice. Well, in our prisons, anyway.

We live in a nation that offers leniency and pardons to economic gangsters who steal billions, politicians responsible for the death of hundreds of thousands. Mail me a penny postcard when we send George W. Bush and Dick Cheney to spend the rest of their lives in a prison in Iraq.