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
By James Bamford
March 15, 2012
The spring air in the small, sand-dusted town has a soft haze to it, and clumps of green-gray sagebrush rustle in the breeze. Bluffdale sits in a bowl-shaped valley in the shadow of Utah’s Wasatch Range to the east and the Oquirrh Mountains to the west. It’s the heart of Mormon country, where religious pioneers first arrived more than 160 years ago. They came to escape the rest of the world, to understand the mysterious words sent down from their god as revealed on buried golden plates, and to practice what has become known as “the principle,” marriage to multiple wives.
Today Bluffdale is home to one of the nation’s largest sects of polygamists, the Apostolic United Brethren, with upwards of 9,000 members. The brethren’s complex includes a chapel, a school, a sports field, and an archive. Membership has doubled since 1978–and the number of plural marriages has tripled–so the sect has recently been looking for ways to purchase more land and expand throughout the town.
But new pioneers have quietly begun moving into the area, secretive outsiders who say little and keep to themselves. Like the pious polygamists, they are focused on deciphering cryptic messages that only they have the power to understand. Just off Beef Hollow Road, less than a mile from brethren headquarters, thousands of hard-hatted construction workers in sweat-soaked T-shirts are laying the groundwork for the newcomers’ own temple and archive,… Continue reading
By Brandon Turbeville
In a stunning move, on March 16, 2012, Barack Obama signed an Executive Order (EO) stating that the President and his specifically designated Secretaries now have the authority to commandeer all domestic U.S. resources including food and water. The EO also states that the President and his Secretaries have the authority to seize all transportation, energy, and infrastructure inside the United States as well as forcibly induct/draft American citizens into the military. The EO also contains a vague reference in regards to harnessing American citizens to fulfill “labor requirements” for the purposes of national defense.
Not only that, but the authority claimed inside the EO does not only apply to National Emergencies and times of war. It also applies in peacetime.
The Act to which this Executive Order refers is the national Defense Resources Act, first passed September 8, 1950, at the beginning of the Korean conflict, as the Cold War began. Wikipedia states (please read original for full links):
The Defense Production Act (Pub.L. 81-774) is a United States law enacted on September 8, 1950, in response to the start of the Korean War. It was part of a broad civil defense and war mobilization effort in the context of the Cold War. Its implementing regulations, the Defense Priorities and Allocation System (DPAS), are located at 15 CFR §§700 to 700.93. The Act has been periodically reauthorized and amended, and remains in force as of 2012.
The Act contains… Continue reading
Trust us, Attorney General Eric Holder says — we’ll only assassinate Americans after administrative “due process.” That’s not how the Constitution works, buddy.
By Jonathan Turley
On Monday, March 5, Northwestern University School of Law was the location of an extraordinary scene for a free nation. U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder presented President Barack Obama’s claim that he has the authority to kill any U.S. citizen he considers a threat. It served as a retroactive justification for the slaying of American-born cleric Anwar al-Awlaki last September by a drone strike in northeastern Yemen, as well as the targeted killings of at least two other Americans during Obama’s term.
What’s even more extraordinary is that this claim, which would be viewed by the Framers of the U.S. Constitution as the very definition of authoritarian power, was met not with outcry but muted applause. Where due process once resided, Holder offered only an assurance that the president would kill citizens with care. While that certainly relieved any concern that Obama, or his successor, would hunt citizens for sport, Holder offered no assurances on how this power would be used in the future beyond the now all-too-familiar “trust us” approach to civil liberties of this administration.
In his speech, Holder was clear and unambiguous on only one point: “The president may use force abroad against a senior operational leader of a foreign… Continue reading
By John Bursill
Unfortunately, it now appears that a war between the US and its allies with Iran is imminent. By any military analyst’s assessment this has a real chance of changing the current multi-theatre war against terrorism and so called rogue/terrorist states into a real World War III scenario!
Following the Mainstream media (MSM) in the West over the last few months, you would be sensing that many things have happened to support the war-with-Iran rationale: hearing that Iran wants a Nuclear bomb and would be prepared to use it against Israel and the US, other alarming stories include Iran trading in weapons with “rogue states,” Iran killing innocent people abroad, Iran‘s president is insane and wants to “wipe Israel off the map,” Iran has been involved in terrorist plots/bombings and may attack inside the US and Iran is trading drugs. The list of baseless accusation goes on and on.
Interesting to remember that after 9/11 the MSM did little to question the actual events and who benefited but devoted massive media speculation to Iraq being involved while no evidence existed, managing to convince the vast majority of the American public that Saddam was involved with the 9/11 attacks leading to growing public support for the 2003 invasion.
Many times over the last decade it was obvious by the rhetoric out of Washington and from their many think tanks like PNAC (The Project for the New American Century) and leaked memos from the Pentagon that the… Continue reading
By Elisabeth Bumiller
New York Times
WASHINGTON — The mortuary at Dover Air Force Base in Delaware disposed of body parts of some victims of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks by burning them and dumping the ashes in a landfill, an independent panel said in a report to the Pentagon released on Tuesday.
The startling new disclosure was the latest to tarnish the reputation of Dover, hallowed ground for the military and the entry point for the nation’s war dead, and is likely to create further anguish among families of the Sept. 11 victims.
Mortuary officials had already been under fire for what the Air Force termed “gross mismanagement” for losing the body parts of two service members in 2009, repeated failures of command, doing little to change sloppy practices and sawing off the protruding arm bone of a dead Marine without informing his family.
The method of disposal of the Sept. 11 body parts was limited to what the report said were “several portions of remains” that could not be identified from the attack on the Pentagon and the crash site in Shanksville, Pa. The report said the remains were cremated and placed in containers provided to a biomedical waste disposal contractor, which then incinerated them and put them in the landfill.
Air Force officials said they could not confirm all the information about the Sept. 11 remains and were trying to clarify details on Tuesday night.
Lisa Linden, a… Continue reading
By Russ Baker
December 26, 2011
A growing body of evidence points to a concerted campaign to prepare Americans and the world for war against Iran. This is not idle speculation. It fits a pattern that repeatedly preceded previous hostilities.
Here are the recent examples on Iran:
-The claim that Iran is a WMD threat. Pretty much everyone is familiar with the long-term, continuing efforts to paint Iran as some kind of nuclear threat. This ignores the possibility that Iran is telling the truth in contending it is embarked on solely non-military nuclear research (debatable), and serious doubts among many experts that Iran is preparing nuclear weapons. Perhaps most important, it discounts the fact that many countries (including Iran’s arch-enemy Israel) have nuclear weapons, and disregards the undoubted truth that if a country like Iran ever did launch nuclear weapons, it would be wiped out in a nanosecond, creating a very strong disincentive for offensive use. At the same time, by encouraging other countries and internal foes to believe that it has nuclear weapons, Iran creates an inexpensive protective shield for its regime. A dangerous game, to be sure, but without further evidence of Iranian nukes, hardly a reason to launch a war that would surely cause even more death and destruction than the misguided Iraq invasion.
-The claim that Iran tried to hire Mexican drug cartel hit squads to kill a Saudi ambassador on US soil (fizzled). Remember this one? So ludicrous that even ultra-cautious corporate news organizations… Continue reading
Justices Find that Spied-On Telephone Customers Have the Right to Sue
San Francisco – The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals today blocked the government’s attempt to bury the Electronic Frontier Foundation’s (EFF’s) lawsuit against the government’s illegal mass surveillance program, returning Jewel v. NSA to the District Court for the next step.
The court found that Jewel had alleged sufficient specifics about the warrantless wiretapping program to proceed. Justices rejected the government’s argument that the allegations about the well-known spying program and the evidence of the Folsom Street facility in San Francisco were too speculative.
“Since the dragnet spying program first came to light, we have been fighting for the chance to have a court determine whether it is legal,” said EFF Legal Director Cindy Cohn. “Today, the Ninth Circuit has given us that chance, and we look forward to proving the program is an unconstitutional and illegal violation of the rights of millions of ordinary Americans.”
Also today, the court upheld the dismissal of EFF’s other case aimed at ending the illegal spying, Hepting v. AT&T, which was the first lawsuit against a telecom over its participation in the dragnet domestic wiretapping. The court found that the so-called “retroactive immunity” passed by Congress to stop telecommunications customers from suing the companies is constitutional, in part because the claims remained against the government in Jewel v. NSA.
“By passing the retroactive immunity for the telecoms’ complicity in the warrantless wiretapping program, Congress abdicated its duty… Continue reading
By Charlie Savage
November 29, 2011
New York Times
WASHINGTON — Defying the Obama administration’s threat of a veto, the Senate on Tuesday voted to increase the role of the military in imprisoning suspected members of Al Qaeda and its allies — including people arrested inside the United States.
By a vote of 61 to 37, the Senate turned back an effort to strip a major military bill of a set of disputed provisions affecting the handling of terrorism cases. While the legislation still has several steps to go, the vote makes it likely that Congress will eventually send to President Obama’s desk a bill that contains detainee-related provisions his national-security team has said are unacceptable.
The most disputed provision would require the government to place into military custody any suspected member of Al Qaeda or one of its allies connected to a plot against the United States or its allies. The provision would exempt American citizens, but would otherwise extend to arrests on United States soil. The executive branch could issue a waiver and keep such a prisoner in the civilian system.
In recent days, several top national security officials — including the secretary of defense, Leon E. Panetta; the director of national intelligence, James R. Clapper; and the director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Robert S. Mueller III, have voiced opposition to the proposal, as have several former counterterrorism officials from the Bush administration.
But among Republican senators, there was nearly unanimous support for keeping the detainee… Continue reading
by Jon Gold
December 20, 2011
Before I begin, I’d like to say that I am neither a fan of Iran, or an opponent of Iran. I just don’t want anymore damn wars.
Recently, a Judge ruled “that Iran was complicit in the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorists attacks that killed nearly 3,000 people, including 18 Bucks County residents.” Here is the evidence according to the article:
Using a team of experts, including former members of the 9/11 Commission, and the testimony of three Iranian defectors, the lawyers put on a four-hour presentation for Daniels on Thursday.
During the hearing, defector Abdolghassem Mesbahi, who was once an aide and close confidant of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the Islamic Republic’s founder, revealed that he had firsthand knowledge of terrorist plots dating to the 1980s.
Mesbahi, whose identity was kept secret until the hearing, said he knew in August 2001 that there was a plan in place to hijack airplanes and fly them into buildings.
Another defector testified that he was with al-Qaida’s second in command, Ayman al-Zawahiri, when the terrorist attended four days of meetings with top Iranian officials in January 2001 to plan the 9/11 attacks.
The third defector told the judge that he helped write up the debriefing reports of Iran’s al-Qaida liaison, Imad Mugniyeh, after he returned to Iran from Afghanistan following 9/11.
To further prove Iran’s complicity in the attacks, Mellon presented the testimony of Janice Kephart, a former counsel to the U.S. Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Technology, Terrorism… Continue reading
By Ray McGovern
Exclusive: Though the 9/11 attacks occurred more than a decade ago, Congress continues to exploit them to pass evermore draconian laws on “terrorism,” with the Senate now empowering the military to arrest people on U.S. soil and hold them without trial, a serious threat to American liberties, says ex-CIA analyst Ray McGovern.
Ambiguous but alarming new wording, which is tucked into the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) and was just passed by the Senate, is reminiscent of the “extraordinary measures” introduced by the Nazis after they took power in 1933.
And the relative lack of reaction so far calls to mind the oddly calm indifference with which most Germans watched the erosion of the rights that had been guaranteed by their own Constitution. As one German writer observed, “With sheepish submissiveness we watched it unfold, as if from a box at the theater.”
The writer was Sebastian Haffner (real name Raimond Pretzel), a young German lawyer worried at what he saw in 1933 in Berlin, but helpless to stop it since, as he put it, the German people “collectively and limply collapsed, yielded and capitulated.”
“The result of this millionfold nervous breakdown,” wrote Haffner at the time, “is the unified nation, ready for anything, that is today the nightmare of the rest of the world.” Not a happy analogy.
The Senate bill, in effect, revokes an 1878 law known as the Posse Comitatus Act, which banned the Army from domestic law enforcement after the military had… Continue reading
November 29, 2011
Secrecy News Blog
The Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board that was supposed to provide independent oversight of U.S. counterterrorism policies remains dormant and out of service because its members have still not been named and confirmed.
In a report that was newly updated this month, the Congressional Research Service traced the origins of the Board from a recommendation by the 9/11 Commission through its initial establishment as a White House agency to its reconstitution as an independent agency chartered by statute in 2007.
The Board was assigned two overriding missions: It was supposed to “analyze and review actions the executive branch takes to protect the Nation from terrorism, ensuring that the need for such actions is balanced with the need to protect privacy and civil liberties”; and to “ensure that liberty concerns are appropriately considered in the development and implementation of laws, regulations, and policies related to efforts to protect the Nation against terrorism.”
So had the Board been functional, it might have been a valuable participant in current deliberations over military detention authority, for example. It might also have conducted investigative oversight into any number of other counterterrorism policies, as mandated by law. But for all practical purposes, there is no Board.
Last January, President Obama named Elisebeth C. Cook and James X. Dempsey to serve on the Board. The Senate has not acted on their nomination. Even if they had been confirmed, however, they would not have constituted a quorum. Thus,… Continue reading