Originally published at FastCompany by Stan Alcorn on 11/25/13
Evan Booth hacks together working weapons–like a shotgun, a grenade, and a crossbow–with purchases anyone can make after they go through security, to show that the TSA is more spectacle than real protection. And the FBI is taking notice.
Things you can’t bring on a plane: Scissors, gel candles, large snow globes.
Things you can bring on a plane: A homemade shotgun.
Programmer by day, “security researcher” by night, Evan Booth has built, tested, and demonstrated not just a shotgun, but a whole comically named arsenal of DIY weapons, made solely with items purchased in the airport–after the security screening.
“I think people have kind of been suspecting that the type of things I’ve built are possible,” says Booth, “I just don’t think anyone’s ever taken the time to do it.” The object of the research is a demonstration–half silly, half disturbing–that weapons are everywhere and that the “security theater” of the TSA is not doing that much to keep us safe.
“If we’re trying stop a terrorist threat at the airport,” says Booth. “It’s already too late.”
The project began after the introduction of body scanners. “It just seemed so invasive, really expensive,” he says. “And if you’re going to go through all that trouble getting into the terminal,… Continue reading
Originally published at the Nation by Katherine Hawkins on 11/7/13
Over four years after President Obama promised to “look forward, not backward” regarding the CIA’s brutal treatment of captives under the Bush administration, the issue has not gone away. The torture debate may fade from the headlines for weeks or months at a time, but it al
ways come back. Last year the trigger was the release of Zero Dark Thirty. A few weeks ago, it was Abu Anas al-Libi’s capture, shipboard interrogation and transfer to the United States for trial. Later this year, the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (SSCI) will vote on whether to begin declassification of its 6,000-page report on the CIA’s detention and interrogation of terrorism suspects.
Often, debates about torture focuses on whether it leads to high-profile counterterrorism successes: the killing of Osama bin Laden, the capture of high-level suspects like Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the disruption of terrorist plots against Los Angeles or London. The public evidence suggests—and according to Democratic senators, the SSCI report will definitively prove—that defenders of “enhanced interrogation” have greatly exaggerated the role that torture played in these events.
In all the debates about whether torture “worked,” though, there is another part of the record that is almost always forgotten: the attacks that torture did not prevent. There are no documented cases of “ticking time bombs” being defused by torture. But there are Al Qaeda plots that were not stopped,… Continue reading
Originally published at Aljazeera America by Jason Leopold on 10/30/13
The National Security Agency advised its officials to cite the 9/11 attacks as justification for its mass surveillance activities, according to a master list of NSA talking points.
The document, obtained by Al Jazeera through a Freedom of Information Act request, contains talking points and suggested statements for NSA officials (PDF) responding to the fallout from media revelations that originated with former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.
Invoking the events of 9/11 to justify the controversial NSA programs, which have caused major diplomatic fallout around the world, was the top item on the talking points that agency officials were encouraged to use.
Under the subheading “Sound Bites That Resonate,” the document suggests the statement “I much prefer to be here today explaining these programs, than explaining another 9/11 event that we were not able to prevent.”
NSA head Gen. Keith Alexander used a slightly different version of that statement when he testified before Congress on June 18 in defense of the agency’s surveillance programs.
Asked to comment on the document, NSA media representative Vanee M. Vines pointed Al Jazeera to Alexander’s congressional testimony on Tuesday, and said the agency had no further comment. In keeping with the themes listed in the talking points, the NSA head told legislators that “it is much more important for this country that we defend this nation and take the beatings than it is… Continue reading
Originally published at Common Dreams on 10/29/13
Despite being heralded as the first time in history that U.S. lawmakers would hear directly from the survivors of a U.S. drone strike, only five elected officials chose to attend the congressional briefing that took place Tuesday.
Pakistani schoolteacher Rafiq ur Rehman and his two children—9 year-old daughter Nabila and 13 year-old son Zubair—came to Washington, DC to give their account of a U.S. drone attack that killed Rafiq’s mother, Momina Bibi, and injured the two children in the remote tribal region of North Waziristan last October.
According to journalist Anjali Kamat, who was present and tweeting live during the hearing, the only lawmakers to attend the briefing organized by Rep. Alan Grayson (D-Fla.), were Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.), Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.), Rep. Rush Holt (D-NJ) and Rep. Rick Nolan (D-Minn.).
Before the handful of reporters and scant lawmakers, however, Rafiq and his children gave dramatic testimony which reportedly caused the translator to break down into tears.
In her testimony, Nabila shared that she was picking okra with her grandmother when the U.S. missile struck and both children described how they used to play outside but are now too afraid.
“I no longer love blue skies. In fact, I now prefer… Continue reading
Posted Sep 19, 2013 by Ralph Lopez
The FBI is instructing local police departments and “communities against terrorism” to consider anyone who harbors “conspiracy theories” about 9/11 to be a potential terrorist, in a circular released to local police departments.
The memo thus adds 9/11-official-story skeptics to a growing list of targets described by federal law enforcement to be security threats, such as those who express “libertarian philosophies,” “Second Amendment-oriented views,” interest in “self-sufficiency,” “fears of Big Brother or big government,” and “Declarations of Constitutional rights and civil liberties.”
A newly released national poll shows that 48 percent of Americans either have some doubts about the official account of 9/11, or do not believe it at all.
The FBI circular entitled “Potential Indicators of Terrorist Activities Related to Sleepers” says that people who should be ‘considered suspicious’ of possible involvement in “terrorist activity” include those who hold the “attitude” described as ” Conspiracy theories about Westerners.” The circular continues: “e.g. (sic) the CIA arranged for 9/11 to legitimize the invasion of foreign lands.”
“Sleepers” refers to “sleeper cells,” in FBI jargon, which are terrorists awaiting orders to be activated into terrorist activity.
In 1998 it was declassified by the Pentagon that the Joint Chiefs of… Continue reading
NEW YORK, Sept. 10, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ – As the 12th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks approaches, 12 former CIA, FBI, NSA, and US military officials — including Time Magazine’s 2002 person of the year, Colleen Rowley, and former CIA analyst Ray McGovern, who provided the daily brief for three presidents — say in an open letter to President Obama that the charge that President Assad used chemical weapons on August 21st is based on false intelligence.
If this charge is false, and leads to war in Syria, it would not be the first time US leaders have misled their public into going to war. Robert McNamara, Secretary of Defense during the Vietnam War, admitted in 2003 that America went to war in Vietnam on the false intelligence that North Vietnam had attacked a US destroyer in the Gulf of Tonkin.
The 9/11 Consensus Panel was formed to deal with another notorious fraudulent pretext for war, the attacks of September 11, 2001, that triggered the “war on terror” and the ongoing military actions in the Middle East.
The professional 24-member Panel was formed in 2011 to show the public that behind the horrific images of planes crashing into the Towers lies a wealth of slowly emerging evidence that 9/11 was a false flag operation.
Using a standard medical review model, the Panel has thus far produced 37 Consensus Points refuting the official story, five of which are released today.
For example, the National Institute of Standards and Technology’s report on the… Continue reading
“During calendar year 2012, the Government made 1,856 applications to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court for authority to conduct electronic surveillance and/or physical searches for foreign intelligence purposes.”
That somewhat opaque statistic was disclosed in the Justice Department’s latest annual report to Congress on the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, filed on Tuesday. As is usually the case, none of the requests for electronic surveillance were denied by the Court.
No matter how it is sliced and diced, the newly disclosed number of applications does not yield much substance. It means that the government submitted an average of 5 requests per day last year for intelligence surveillance or physical search. It is about 5% higher than the number of applications the year before (1,745), but quite a bit lower than the figure from 2007 (2,371).
The number of applications does not correspond directly to the number of targets, since multiple applications may be submitted in the course of an individual investigation. Nor is the outcome of the surveillance or search activity indicated in a way that would tend to validate or invalidate the authorization after the fact.
In any case, the FISA Court did not deny any of the government’s requests for authority to conduct electronic surveillance in whole or in part, the report said, although unspecified modifications were made to 40 proposed orders. The report does not say whether or not any requests for physical search were disapproved or modified.
The government also made 212 applications for access to business… Continue reading
by Wendy McElroy
The Dollar Vigilante
The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is tightening its grip on domestic travel. I don’t mean the random, unpredictable security checks at bus, subway and train stations which already exist. I mean a coordinated and systematic police control of internal travel within America. Groundwork is being laid.
APPLICATION TO MAKE U.S. INTO AN AIRPORT SCREENING ZONE
The application was tucked away on page 71431 of Volume 77, Number 231 of the Federal Register (November 30). It was surrounded by soporific references to forwarding “the new Information Collection Request (ICR) abstracted below to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for review and approval under the Paperwork Reduction Act (PRA).”
The application for funding from the TSA constitutes a preliminary step toward systematically expanding TSA‘s authority from airports to highways and almost every other means of public travel. The expansion would erase one of the last remaining differences between the US and a total police state; namely, the ability to travel internally without being under police surveillance. The total police state you experience at airports wants to spill into roads and bus stops, to subways and trains. Or, rather, the TSA wants to solidify and spread the fledgling and erratic presence it already has.
The official request reads, “TSA‘s Highway BASE program [Baseline Assessment for Security Enhancement] seeks to establish the current state of security gaps and implemented countermeasures throughout the highway mode of transportation by posing questions to… Continue reading
by Ryan Gallagher
When a former senior White House official describes a nationwide surveillance effort as “breathtaking,” you know civil liberties activists are preparing for a fight.
The Wall Street Journal reported today that the little-known National Counterterrorism Center, based in an unmarked building in McLean, Va., has been granted sweeping new authority to store and monitor massive datasets about innocent Americans.
After internal wrangling over privacy and civil liberties issues, the Justice Department reportedly signed off on controversial new guidelines earlier this year. The guidelines allow the NCTC, for the first time, to keep data about innocent U.S. citizens for up to five years, using “predictive pattern-matching,” to analyze it for suspicious patterns of behavior. The data the counterterrorism center has access to, according to the Journal, includes “entire government databases—flight records, casino-employee lists, the names of Americans hosting foreign-exchange students and many others.”
Notably, the Journal reports that these changes also allow databases about U.S. civilians to be handed over to foreign governments for analysis, presumably so that they too can attempt to determine future criminal actions. The Department of Homeland Security’s former chief privacy officer said that it represents a “sea change in the way that the government interacts with the general public.”
The snooping effort, which officials say is subject to “rigorous oversight,” is reminiscent of the so-called Total Information Awareness initiative, dreamt up in the aftermath of 9/11 by the Pentagon’s research unit DARPA. The aim of the TIA initiative was essentially to create… Continue reading
Introductory Comments by Paul Craig Roberts
Posted at PaulCraigRoberts.org
When Chris Floyd is at his best, as he is below, he puts things in perspective for readers that they otherwise never confront. Obama has won reelection, and his supporters think that somehow things are going to be different. Fat chance.
While evil continues to envelop America, the public is focused on CIA director General Petraeus’s resignation. The FBI spied on him and found that he was having an affair with his biographer, a woman 20 years younger than his 60 years.
What is it with Americans and sex? Why is an illicit affair the ONLY reason for removing someone from political office? Why is it that government officials, presidents and vice presidents included, can violate US statutory law and torture people, spy on Americans without the necessary warrants, murder US citizens without due process, confine US citizens to dungeons for life without evidence and due process of law, start multi-trillion dollar wars on the basis of contrived allegations that have no basis in fact, murder civilians in seven countries, overthrow legitimate governments, and all of these massive crimes against humanity can be accepted as long as no one in Washington gets any sex out of it? Is this feminism’s contribution to American morality?
Has the United States, the hero of the Cold War, become in its behavior and motivations the enemy it overcame? Why does Washington want hegemony over the world? Why does Washington want this hegemony so badly that… Continue reading
by Karen McVeigh, UK Guardian
Five Guantánamo prisoners accused of plotting the September 11 attacks were back before a military tribunal on Monday for pre-trial hearings after months of delay.
Khalid Sheikh Mohammed – the alleged mastermind of 9/11, the worst terrorist attack in US history – and his four co-defendants sat quietly at the defence tables, watched by military guards. Defendant Mustafa Ahmad al-Hawsawi responded to the judge’s questions about his request for additional legal counsel, according to the Associated Press, before the hearing was adjourned.
The calm start to the proceedings was in sharp contrast to the previous hearing in May, which was marred by protests, outbursts and the defendants’ refusal to answer questions from the judge. It lasted 13 hours.
The hearings, in Camp Justice, the war court compound at the US naval base in Cuba, are expected to focus on secrecy and transparency, but will cover a range of issues from whether the prison camps can force the men to attend their own trials to what they can wear in court, the Miami Herald reported.
The hearings are part of the legal proceedings required to move the case to trial, estimated to be at least a year away. They were scheduled for August but delayed by tropical storm Isaac.
Mohammed, a Pakistani citizen from Kuwait, who attended college in North Carolina, has told military officials that he planned the 9/11 attacks “from A to Z” and was involved in about 30 other terrorist plots. He… Continue reading
July 17, 2012
By Matt Zimmerman
Electronic Frontier Foundation
Since the first national security letter statute was passed in 1986, the FBI has issued hundreds of thousands of such letters seeking private telecommunications and financial records of Americans without any prior approval from courts. Indeed, for the period between 2003 and 2006 alone, almost 200,000 requests for private customer information were sought pursuant to various NSL statutes. Prior to 2011, the constitutionality of this legal authority to investigate the records of Americans without court oversight had been challenged in court — as far as we know — exactly one time. EFF is today releasing FBI-redacted briefing from a major new ongoing case in which it is challenging one of the NSL statutes on behalf of a telecommunications company that received an NSL in 2011. Not only does this briefing show that the Department of Justice continues to strongly protect the FBI’s NSL authority, it highlights a startlingly aggressive new tactic used by the Department of Justice: suing NSL recipients who challenge the FBI’s authority, arguing that court challenges to such authority themselves amount to breaking the law.
National security letter statutes — five in all — are controversial laws that allow the FBI to easily bypass courts and issue administrative letters on their own authority to telecommunications companies and financial institutions demanding information about their customers. The NSL statutes permit the FBI to permanently gag service providers from revealing the fact that the demand was made, preventing them from… Continue reading
by Susanne Posel
President Obama has usurped all available forms of communication for use and discretion of the US government. Under an Executive Order (June 6, 2012) entitled Assignment of National Security and Emergency Preparedness Communications Functions, Obama has enabled the executive branch to control communications “under all circumstances to ensure national security, effectively manage emergencies, and improve national resilience.” (For full text of the Executive Order, seen Annex below).
Radio and wired communications systems “of all levels of government, the private and nonprofit sectors, and the public must inform the development of national security and emergency preparedness (NS/EP) communications policies, programs, and capabilities.”
Cellular phone corporations like Sprint owned Boost Mobile have released messages to their customers concerning the US government’s allocation of their phone communications at the whim of the President. In a text message to customers, Boost Mobile said that: “. . . you can receive national and local emergency alerts directly on your phone.”
Back in 2011, Hillary Clinton admitted that the US government, via the mainstream media, is losing their “information war” with the American public. As alternative media becomes more prevalent, the propaganda must be taken up a notch in order to keep the masses onboard with the agendas of the US government.
Danny Schechter, filmmaker and investigative journalist, explains that MSM cannot compete with the alternative media. Schechter says that “America feels on the defensive because it can no longer” monopolize the thoughts of citizens domestically and abroad. Since the US government thinks “its point of view is the only point of view” these new news outlets are “extremely damaging” to the US continual purveyance of propaganda.
The Presidential Alert was announced in August of 2011, wherein the Commissioners for the FCC required that television, radio stations and cable systems (including satellites) will redirect broadcasting if the President wants to “alert Americans of impending danger”. Continue reading
Investigative journalist and prolific author Chris Hedges was interviewed on C-Span’s BookTV January 19, 2012. Following is the full-length video:
BookTV’s video link to this Chris Hedges interview only offers about 10 minutes of the three hour show. The description uploaded with at BookTV’s YouTube user channel follows:
Chris Hedges is the author of nine books:
War is a Force that Gives Us Meaning (2002)
What Every Person Should Know About War (2003)
Losing Moses on the Freeway: The Ten Commandments in America (2005)
American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War on America (2007)
I Don’t Believe in Atheists (2008)
Collateral Damage: America’s War Against Iraqi Civilians (2008)
Empire of Illusion: The End of Literacy and the Triumph of Spectacle (2009)
The Death of the Liberal Class (2010)
The World As It Is: Dispatches on the Myth of Human Progress (2011)
The link to this video was brought to our attention as part of the daily newswire from Information Clearing House. You can subscribe to this excellent service at Informationclearinghouse.info.
by Philip Giraldi
The most recent issue of the National Counter Terrorism Center’s annual Report on Terrorism [.pdf] came out last week, covering the year 2011. I would like to say that it is well worth a read, but actually it is quite tedious. For those who are interested, it is essentially a statistical and analytical breakdown of the terrorism phenomenon derived from the U.S. government–maintained Worldwide Incidents Tracking System, or WITS, which is based on publicly available open-source material reporting alleged terrorist activity around the globe. Most often the analysis is bare bones and avoids political coloration, not, for example, going deeply into the motives of the various terrorist groups but instead providing information in a pie chart and chronological fashion. This year’s report is 33 pages long.
The United States is engaged in what most Americans still refer to as a global war on terror or, in shorthand form, a war on terror. The Obama administration avoids the expression because it is a legacy of the Bush years and because it uses the expression “war,” so it refers to “overseas contingency operations,” which has a nicer sound and does not appear to be so preemptive or premeditated. It also fudges the reality of what is taking place by pretending that the process is reactive, which it is not. The unrelenting expansion of U.S. military intervention is in response to many diverse overseas developments, most of which are not genuine threats. This was recently demonstrated by the White… Continue reading
In Mounting Evidence, Paul W. Rea, PhD, delivers an amply-researched critique of the 9/11 Commission and debunks the War on Terror. There’s little doubt the tragic attacks on 9/11 soon became the defining events of our time, shaping much of what has followed. But even now, over a decade later, how well does the public actually understand them? Other researchers have written about key facets of 9/11 — the fall of World Trade Center buildings, the air-defense failures, the backgrounds of the hijackers, or the role of the Saudi funders. In Mounting Evidence, Dr. Rea shows how, by understanding the shattering events of that dark day, Americans can end seemingly endless wars and take back personal liberties they’ve lost.
Dr. Rea feels so committed to bringing historical truth to the events of 9/11 that he has made his book, Mounting Evidence, available on Amazon.com.
Dr. Paul W. Rea has taught humanities at Ohio State University, the University of Northern Colorado and St. Mary’s College of California. Now a full-time researcher and writer, Dr. Rea focuses on political, peace and environmental issues.
If you are in the San Francisco Bay Area, please attend in person to support.
Cost: Suggested donation $20 and a dish to share if you are also joining the 6-7 pm… Continue reading
Bomber involved in plot to attack US-bound jet was working as an informer with
Saudi intelligence and the CIA, it has emerged
By Paul Harris and Ed Pilkington
May 8, 2012
A would-be "underwear bomber" involved in a plot to attack a US-based
jet was in fact working as an undercover informer with Saudi intelligence and
the CIA, it has emerged.
The revelation is the latest twist in an increasingly bizarre story about the
disruption of an apparent attempt by al-Qaida to strike at a high-profile American
target using a sophisticated device hidden in the clothing of an attacker.
The plot, which the White House said on Monday had involved the seizing of
an underwear bomb by authorities in the Middle East sometime in the last 10
days, had caused alarm throughout the US.
It has also been linked to a suspected US drone strike in Yemen where two Yemeni
members of al-Qaida were killed by a missile attack on their car on Sunday,
one of them a senior militant, Fahd Mohammed Ahmed al-Quso.
But the news that the individual at the heart of the bomb plot was in fact
an informer for US intelligence is likely to raise just as many questions as
Citing US and Yemeni officials, Associated Press reported that the unnamed
informant was working under cover for the Saudis and the CIA when he was given
the bomb, which was of a new non-metallic type aimed at getting past airport
The… Continue reading
By Glenn Greenwald
We now have an extraordinary situation that reveals the impunity with which political elites commit the most egregious crimes, as well as the special privileges to which they explicitly believe they — and they alone — are entitled. That a large bipartisan cast of Washington officials got caught being paid substantial sums of money by an Iranian dissident group that is legally designated by the U.S. Government as a Terrorist organization, and then meeting with and advocating on behalf of that Terrorist group, is very significant for several reasons. New developments over the last week make it all the more telling. Just behold the truly amazing set of facts that have arisen:
In June, 2010, the U.S. Supreme Court issued its 6-3 ruling in the case of Holder v. Humanitarian Law . In that case, the Court upheld the Obama DOJ’s very broad interpretation of the statute that criminalizes the providing of “material support” to groups formally designated by the State Department as Terrorist organizations. The five-judge conservative bloc (along with Justice Stevens) held that pure political speech could be permissibly criminalized as “material support for Terrorism” consistent with the First Amendment if the “advocacy [is] performed in coordination with , or at the direction of, a foreign terrorist organization” (emphasis added). In other words, pure political advocacy in support of a designated Terrorist group could be prosecuted as a felony — punishable with 15 years in prison — if the advocacy is coordinated with that… Continue reading