Tagged: Bush

Reporter calls Obama “greatest enemy of press freedom in a generation”


Respect for Freedom of the Press? Same as it ever was.

The New York Times reporter James Risen, who faces jail over his refusal to reveal a source and testify against a former CIA agent accused of leaking secrets, has called President Barack Obama “the greatest enemy of press freedom in a generation”.

Speaking to his colleague Maureen Dowd, Risen accused the president of aggressively pursuing journalists, including himself, who report sensitive stories that reflect poorly on the US government…

Risen faces jail over his reporting of a botched intelligence operation that ended up spilling nuclear secrets to Iran. The Justice Department has long been seeking to force him to testify and name the confidential source of the account, which is contained in his 2006 book State of War…

The pursuit of Risen began under the administration of President George W Bush. The Justice Department tried to prosecute him under the Espionage Act for his 2006 Pulitzer Prize-winning scoop about the illegal wiretapping of American citizens after the terrorist attacks of 11 September 2001. It also targeted him for the revelations in State of War…

Risen is furious at statements from the likes of Obama and the attorney general, Eric Holder, about supporting press freedom – including condemnation of the police in Ferguson, Missouri, for this week arresting journalists reporting on riots there.

Obama and Holder said journalists should not be arrested or harassed for doing their jobs and covering “a story that needs to be told”. In May, Holder said of the Sterling case: “No reporter who is doing his job is going to go to jail.” Risen, however, could be behind bars within weeks…

“It’s hypocritical,” Risen said. “A lot of people still think this is some kind of game or signal or spin. They don’t want to believe that Obama wants to crack down on the press and whistleblowers. But he does. He’s the greatest enemy to press freedom in a generation.”

I’m certain you’re all keeping up-to-date on this case in the mainstream media and on your local network TV stations, eh?

About these ads

Israel squandered any chance for peace, years ago, for a phony “victory”


Never forget!Michael Longari/AFP/Getty Images

Alongside the toll of death and broken lives, perhaps the saddest reality of the latest Gaza war, like the Gaza wars before it, is how easy it would have been to avoid. For the last eight years, Israel and the U.S. had repeated opportunities to opt for a diplomatic solution in Gaza. Each time, they have chosen war, with devastating consequences for the families of Gaza…

Let’s begin in June 2006, when the University of Maryland’s Jerome Segal, founder of the Jewish Peace Lobby, carried a high-level private message from Gaza to Washington. Segal had just returned from a meeting with Ismail Haniyeh, whose Hamas faction had recently won free and fair elections and taken power in Gaza. Hamas was seeking a unity government with the rival Fatah faction overseen by Mahmoud Abbas.

…By voting for Hamas in 2006, Palestinians signaled their weariness with Fatah’s corruption and its failure to deliver an independent state, or even a long-promised safe passage corridor between the West Bank and Gaza. In the wake of its surprise election victory, Hamas was in turn showing signs of edging toward the political center, despite its militant history.

Nevertheless, Israel and “the Quartet” — the U.S., the European Union, Russia, and the U.N. — refused to recognize the outcome of the democratic elections, labeling Hamas a “terrorist organization,” which sought Israel’s destruction. The administration of George W. Bush strongly pressured Abbas not to join a unity government. The Quartet suspended economic aid and Israel severely curtailed the flow of goods in and out of Gaza…

These punitive measures were to remain in place until Hamas renounced violence (including stopping its cross-border rocket attacks), recognized Israel, and accepted all previous agreements based on the Oslo peace accords.

Which brings us back to that Washington-bound letter from Gaza. In the wake of the elections, Hamas was no longer the militant opposition to a ruling Fatah party, but a legally elected government operating under siege. Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh, suddenly responsible for governing and facing a mounting economic, humanitarian, and political catastrophe, sought to defuse the situation. In his June 2006 hand-written note to President Bush that Jerome Segal delivered to the State Department and the National Security Council, he requested a direct dialogue with the administration…

The Bush team, however, chose to ignore Hamas’s overture, opting, with Israel, for violence and chaos. The Obama administration would follow the same path years later. In this way, a pattern of U.S. acquiescence in ongoing, ever worsening humanitarian disasters in Hamas-run Gaza was established. Direct American political and material support for the indiscriminate killing of thousands of Gaza’s civilians, including hundreds of children, became Washington’s de facto policy.

RTFA. It’s long, detailed – and to my mind and memory – quite accurate. Unfortunately, accuracy, truth and honesty have nothing to do with the US relationship with Israel and the prisoner nation of Palestine.

The article details time after time the chances for peace deliberately sabotaged by the US/Israel military-industrial complex. Most of our politicians couldn’t care less. American voters are wholly ignorant of history; so, there is little or no pressure from ordinary voters.

Think about it – you may be just one of the small number who cares enough to try to make a change.

Thanks, Mike

CIA admits hacking Senate computers – a criminal violation of Constitution

An internal CIA investigation confirmed allegations that agency personnel improperly intruded into a protected database used by Senate Intelligence Committee staff to compile a scathing report on the agency’s detention and interrogation program, prompting bipartisan outrage and at least two calls for spy chief John Brennan to resign…

The rare display of bipartisan fury followed a three-hour private briefing by Inspector General David Buckley. His investigation revealed that five CIA employees, two lawyers and three information technology specialists improperly accessed or “caused access” to a database that only committee staff were permitted to use…

In other conclusions, Buckley found that CIA security officers conducted keyword searches of the emails of staffers of the committee’s Democratic majority _ and reviewed some of them _ and that the three CIA information technology specialists showed “a lack of candor” in interviews with Buckley’s office.

The inspector general’s summary did not say who may have ordered the intrusion or when senior CIA officials learned of it.

He didn’t confirm or deny White House knowledge of the crime.

Following the briefing, some senators struggled to maintain their composure over what they saw as a violation of the constitutional separation of powers between an executive branch agency and its congressional overseers…

The findings confirmed charges by the committee chairwoman, Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., that the CIA intruded into the database that by agreement was to be used by her staffers compiling the report on the harsh interrogation methods used by the agency on suspected terrorists held in secret overseas prisons under the George W. Bush administration.

The findings also contradicted Brennan’s denials of Feinstein’s allegations, prompting two panel members, Sens. Mark Udall, D-Colo., and Martin Heinrich, D-N.M., to demand that the spy chief resign

Otherwise – Just fire the bum!!

RTFA for beaucoup details. Lots of anger expressed by members of Congress who normally haven’t the backbone to challenge any example of intelligence community corruption. It’s amazing how upset government creeps can become when they’re treated like the rest of us ordinary citizens.

Like many of his peers, like the present and former residents of the White House, Brennan lied to Congress and to the American people. Will Congress or Obama have the integrity to demand criminal charges be forthcoming from the DOJ and Attorney-General Holder? Hmmm. How likely does that seem to you?

Facts are no longer needed for you to qualify as a “terrorist”

The Obama administration has quietly approved a substantial expansion of the terrorist watchlist system, authorizing a secret process that requires neither “concrete facts” nor “irrefutable evidence” to designate an American or foreigner as a terrorist, according to a key government document obtained by The Intercept.

The “March 2013 Watchlisting Guidance,” a 166-page document issued last year by the National Counterterrorism Center, spells out the government’s secret rules for putting individuals on its main terrorist database, as well as the no fly list and the selectee list, which triggers enhanced screening at airports and border crossings. The new guidelines allow individuals to be designated as representatives of terror organizations without any evidence they are actually connected to such organizations, and it gives a single White House official the unilateral authority to place entire “categories” of people the government is tracking onto the no fly and selectee lists. It broadens the authority of government officials to “nominate” people to the watchlists based on what is vaguely described as “fragmentary information.” It also allows for dead people to be watchlisted.

Over the years, the Obama and Bush Administrations have fiercely resisted disclosing the criteria for placing names on the databases—though the guidelines are officially labeled as unclassified. In May, Attorney General Eric Holder even invoked the state secrets privilege to prevent watchlisting guidelines from being disclosed in litigation launched by an American who was on the no fly list…

The rulebook [.pdf takes a while to download], which The Intercept is publishing in full, was developed behind closed doors by representatives of the nation’s intelligence, military, and law-enforcement establishment, including the Pentagon, CIA, NSA, and FBI. Emblazoned with the crests of 19 agencies, it offers the most complete and revealing look into the secret history of the government’s terror list policies to date.

Long, detailed article. Read the whole thing if you need more convincing about a government that considers every citizen in every nation – including our own – to be a potential saboteur and terrorist. Paranoia strikes deep, liberal or conservative, Democrat or Republican. Constitution be damned.

Thanks, Mike

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.

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.