Justice department to accuse FBI of invoking crises to obtain details of more than 2,000 calls, Washington Post reports
by Chris McGreal in Washington
19 January 2010
The US justice department is preparing a report which concludes that the FBI repeatedly broke the law by invoking terrorism emergencies that did not exist to obtain more than 2,000 telephone call records over four years from 2002, including those of journalists on US newspapers, according to emails obtained by the Washington Post.
The bureau also issued authorisations for the seizure of records after the fact, in order to justify unwarranted seizures.
The Washington Post said the emails show how counter-terrorism officials inside FBI headquarters breached regulations designed to protect civil liberties.
The FBI’s general counsel, Valerie Caproni, told the Washington Post that the agency violated privacy laws by inventing non-existent terrorist threats to justify collecting the phone records. “We should have stopped those requests from being made that way,” she said.
Caproni said that FBI’s issuing of authorisations after the fact was a “good-hearted but not well thought-out” move to give the phone companies legal cover for handing over the records.
After the 9/11 attacks, the USA patriot act greatly expanded the government’s ability to monitor American citizens, including increased access to their phone calls with the approval of lower-level officials than previously allowed. But the authorisation had to be tied to an open terrorism investigation.
The Washington Post said two FBI officers had raised concerns. Special agent Bassem Youssef observed… Continue reading
January 10, 2010
by Tom Burghart
New revelations about the failed Christmas Day attack on Northwest Airlines Flight 253 continue to emerge as does evidence of a systematic cover-up.
With the White House in crisis mode since the attempted bombing, President Obama met for two hours January 5 with top security and intelligence officials. Obama said that secret state agencies “had sufficient information to uncover the terror plot … but that intelligence officials had ‘failed to connect those dots’,” The New York Times reports.
The latest iteration of the “dot theory” floated by the President, aided and abetted by a compliant media, claims “this was not a failure to collect intelligence” but rather, “a failure to integrate and understand the intelligence that we already had.”
“Mr. Obama’s stark assessment that the government failed to properly analyze and integrate intelligence served as a sharp rebuke of the country’s intelligence agencies,” declared the Times uncritically.
While the President’s remarks may have offered a “sharp [rhetorical] rebuke,” Obama’s statement suggests that no one will be held accountable. Indeed, the President “was standing by his top national security advisers, including those whose agencies failed to communicate with one another.”
While the President may be “standing by” his national security advisers, the question is, are the denizens of America’s secret state standing by him? One well-connected Washington insider, MSNBC pundit Richard Wolffe, isn’t so sure.
Wolffe, the author of a flattering portrait of Obama, Renegade: The Making of a President, when asked… Continue reading
By Stephen C. Webster
Is Rudolph Giuliani’s political career over?
The former mayor of New York City has been making his rounds in U.S. media this week, trying to explain away his false claim that there were no domestic terrorist attacks on the United States during the Bush administration.
For a man often mocked as “the mayor of 9/11,” that’s an awfully bold suggestion, and one that could spell the end of his relevance in U.S. politics, according to MSNBC host Rachel Maddow.
“The whole reason anybody ever thought of Rudy Giuliani as a potential national figure for the Republican party is because of his supposed expertise,” Maddow said during a Friday broadcast. “The supposed expertise he had with terrorism and national security because he had been the mayor of New York City when it was attacked on September 11.”
He later explained that he meant say no domestic terrorist attacks since 9/11.
However, in what Maddow called “a strange colique” with CNN host Larry King, Giuliani dug his hole deeper, suggesting that shoe bomber Richard Reid attempted his act of terrorism before Sept. 11, 2001.
It actually took place in Dec. of that year, well after the attacks on New York and Washington, D.C.
“Rudy Giuliani’s whole brand as a politician is based on 9/11, something he appears to have exploited so much that he’s lost the capacity to deal with it as a factual matter,” Maddow opined.
“Could he have meant that there were no other attacks… Continue reading
by David Edwards and John Byrne
As noted below, a Giuliani spokesman “clarified” the mayor’s statement later in the day, arguing that the mayor meant no attacks after 9/11.
“Whatever the mayor meant, it’s not what he said,” Stephanopoulos wrote on his ABC blog. “All of you who have pointed out that I should have pressed him on that misstatement in the moment are right. My mistake, my responsibility.”
Original story follows below
The former New York City mayor who has sometimes been mocked for using “a noun, a verb and 9/11″ in stump speeches appears to have forgotten — or has mentally reclassified — the worst terrorist attack on American soil. “We had no domestic attacks under Bush,” Rudy Giuliani told ABC’s George Stephanopoulos Friday.
Even if Giuliani doesn’t consider the attacks on 9/11 a “domestic” attack then surely he forgot about the anthrax attacks of 2001 or an Egyptian national who attacked the El Al ticket counter at Los Angeles International Airport in 2002.
While ABC’s George Stephanopolous let Giuliani get away with his misstatement both during the interview and on his blog, ABC’s Jake Tapper called the former mayor out.…Continue reading
January 6, 2010
by Ray McGovern & Coleen Rowley
Yesterday, a blogger with the PBS’ NewsHour asked former CIA analyst Ray McGovern to respond to three questions regarding recent events involving the CIA, FBI, and the intelligence community in general.
Two other old intelligence hands were asked the identical questions, queries that are typical of what radio/TV and blogger interviewers usually think to be the right ones. So there is merit in trying to answer them directly, such as they are, and then broadening the response to address some of the core problems confronting U.S. counter-terror strategies.
After drafting his answers, McGovern asked former FBI attorney/special agent Coleen Rowley, a colleague in Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS) to review his responses and add her own comments at the end. The Q & A is below:
Question #1 – What lapses in the American counter terrorism apparatus made the Christmas Day bombing plot possible? Is it inevitable that certain plots will succeed?
The short answer to the second sentence is: Yes, it is inevitable that “certain plots will succeed.” A more helpful answer would address the question as to how we might best minimize their prospects for success. And to do this, sorry to say, there is no getting around the necessity to address the root causes of terrorism or, in the vernacular, “why they hate us.”
If we don’t go beyond self-exculpatory sloganeering in attempting to answer that key question, any
“counter terrorism apparatus” is doomed to failure.… Continue reading
January 6, 2010
In an extended interview, award-winning journalist and activist Allan Nairn looks back over the Obama administration’s foreign policy and national security decisions over the last twelve months. “I think Obama should be remembered as a great man because of the blow he struck against white racism,” Nairn says. “But once he became president…Obama became a murderer and a terrorist, because the US has a machine that spans the globe, that has the capacity to kill, and Obama has kept it set on kill. He could have flipped the switch and turned it off…but he chose not to do so.” He continues, “In fact, as far as one can tell, Obama seems to have killed more civilians during his first year than Bush did in his first year, and maybe even than Bush killed in his final year.”
Guest: Allan Nairn, award-winning journalist and activist.
Website: News and Comment (www.allannairn.com)
ANJALI KAMAT: On Tuesday, President Obama made another statement on the failure of intelligence agencies to intercept the Christmas Day plot to blow up a Northwest Airlines flight. He said the US government had the necessary information to stop the twenty-three-year-old Nigerian suspect from boarding the Detroit-bound flight, but he excoriated the intelligence community for failing to connect the dots in time.
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: I will accept that intelligence, by its nature, is imperfect. But it is increasingly clear that intelligence was not fully analyzed… Continue reading
December 26, 2009
U.S. history has seen many presidents elected on a wave of progressive promises, only to see them compromise again and again once in office, caving to the very interests, military and corporate, that they railed against so effectively. Barack Obama is only the latest to get elected on a promise to end a war and take care of working people, only to preside over an administration stacked with Wall Street types and wind up continuing a war he wanted to wind down. Americans voted for change and are getting frustrated with the lack of it, but our guests have both written about the powerful forces holding the status quo in place. John Perkins is the author of Hoodwinked and Confessions of an Economic Hit Man, and has written about how corporations push politicians around and even threaten them with violence. Russ Baker, meanwhile, is the author of Family of Secrets: The Bush Dynasty, the Powerful Forces That Put It in the White House, and What Their Influence Means for America and has written extensively about the military-industrial complex. They argue the only weapon we have is public opinion and public pressure–and we need to bring it to bear not just on the government, but on the corporations.
By Kim Zetter
December 1, 2009
Want to know how much phone companies and internet service providers charge to funnel your private communications or records to U.S. law enforcement and spy agencies?
That’s the question muckraker and Indiana University graduate student Christopher Soghoian asked all agencies within the Department of Justice, under a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request filed a few months ago. But before the agencies could provide the data, Verizon and Yahoo intervened and filed an objection on grounds that, among other things, they would be ridiculed and publicly shamed were their surveillance price sheets made public.
Yahoo writes in its 12-page objection letter (.pdf), that if its pricing information were disclosed to Soghoian, he would use it “to ‘shame’ Yahoo! and other companies — and to ‘shock’ their customers.”
“Therefore, release of Yahoo!’s information is reasonably likely to lead to impairment of its reputation for protection of user privacy and security, which is a competitive disadvantage for technology companies,” the company writes.
Verizon took a different stance. It objected to the release (.pdf) of its Law Enforcement Legal Compliance Guide because it might “confuse” customers and lead them to think that records and surveillance capabilities available only to law enforcement would be available to them as well — resulting in a flood of customer calls to the company asking for trap and trace orders.
“Customers may see a listing of records, information or assistance that is available only to law enforcement,” Verizon writes in its… Continue reading
by Steven Aftergood
November 23rd, 2009
Federation of American Scientists Project on Government Secrecy’s Secrecy News
Development of a new executive order on classification of national security information is now proceeding at an accelerated pace in order to preempt a deadline that would require the declassification of millions of pages of historical records next month.
A revised draft executive order was circulated to executive branch agencies by the Office of Management and Budget on November 16, with agency comments due back today, November 23. A final order is likely to be issued by the end of this year.
There is an incentive to complete the development of the executive order before December 31, 2009 because of a deadline for declassification of historical records that falls on that date. Under the current Bush executive order, classified records that are at least 25 years old and that have been referred from one agency to another because they involve multiple agency interests are supposed to be automatically declassified at the end of this year. (See E.O. 13292, section 3.3(e)(3)).
But in order to meet this December deadline, several agencies would have to forgo a review of the affected historical records, which they are unwilling to do. And so it seems they will simply be excused from compliance. But in order to modify the deadline in the Bush order, it will be necessary to issue another executive order. If the comprehensive new Obama order on classification policy (which would assign processing of such records to a National Declassification Center that does not yet exist) is not ready for release by December 31, then another stand-alone order would have to be issued, canceling or extending the looming deadline.…Continue reading
By Peter Phillips
November 22, 2009
Police are arresting and attacking student protesters on University of California (UC) campuses again. “Why did he beat me I wasn’t doing anything,” screamed a young Cal Berkeley women student over KPFA radio on Friday evening November 20. Students are protesting the 32% increase in tuition imposed by the UC regents in a time of severe state deficits. The Board of Regents claims that they have no choice. Students will now have to pay over $10,000 in tuition annually for a public university education that was free only a few decades ago.
The corporate media spins the tuition protests as if we are all suffering during the recession. For example, the San Diego Union Tribune November 20 writes, “These students need a course in Reality 101. And the reality is that there is virtually no segment of American society that is not straining with the economic recession. With UC facing a $535 million budget gap due to state cuts, the regents have to confront reality and make tough choices. So should students.”
Yet, the reality is something quite different. Our current budget crisis in California and the rest of the country has been artificially created by cutting taxes on the wealthiest people and corporations. The corporate elites in the US, the top 1% who own close to half the wealth, are the beneficiaries of massive tax cuts over the past few decades. While at the same time working people are paying more through increased sales and use taxes and higher public college tuition.…Continue reading
More great news from The Hard Evidence Tour Down Under
Wow!! Finally a proper interview in Sydney! Listen here:
Go to WSFM and vote here on the question of whether “Gage makes sense”
Please thank them by e-mail asap…..
Email Jonesy – brendanjones [at] wsfm.com.au
Email Amanda – amanda [at] wsfm.com.au
This is a testament to the work you’re all doing. Thank you all!
November 10th, 2009
By David DeGraw
As most of you have noticed, we are primarily focused on covering the economic coup. We strongly feel that the theft of Trillions of taxpayer dollars by a small group of men on Wall Street is the biggest story of our time. We understand that these are very difficult times for most people and there are many pressing and vitally important issues confronting us. However, the theft of Trillions of dollars has to be the lead story every day until there are investigations and prosecutions to resolve it.
Many of the news sites that we link to on a daily basis have been covering this issue. However, these sites are not covering the issue sufficiently. There should be blazing headlines on a daily basis: ECONOMIC COUP IN THE US! TRILLIONS OF TAXPAYER DOLLARS STOLEN!
Think about all the vital issues you care about and then think about the Trillions of dollars that were stolen. How could a small fraction of that money directly affect the issues you care about most? We need to make this connection, and we need to make the theft of Trillions of dollars THE LEAD ISSUE RIGHT NOW!
Just think about how much can be done with this stolen money. The highest quality universal healthcare could be provided to everyone in the US. Every foreclosed mortgage in the US can be paid off, for that matter, it would take a fraction of the stolen money to provide a free house to every family in the US.…Continue reading
By Cain Burdeau (AP)
November 18, 2009
NEW ORLEANS — A federal judge ruled Wednesday that the Army Corps of Engineers’ failure to properly maintain a navigation channel led to massive flooding in Hurricane Katrina.
U.S. District Judge Stanwood Duval sided with five residents and one business who argued the Army Corps’ shoddy oversight of the Mississippi River-Gulf Outlet led to the flooding of New Orleans’ Lower Ninth Ward and neighboring St. Bernard Parish. He said, however, the corps couldn’t be held liable for the flooding of eastern New Orleans, where one of the plaintiffs lived.
Duval awarded the plaintiffs $720,000, or about $170,000 each, but the decision could eventually make the government vulnerable to a much larger payout. The ruling should give more than 100,000 other individuals, businesses and government entities a better shot at claiming billions of dollars in damages.
Joe Bruno, one of the lead plaintiffs lawyer, said the ruling underscored the Army Corps’ long history of failure to properly protect the New Orleans region.
“It’s high time we look at the way these guys do business and do a full re-evaluation of the way it does business,” Bruno said.
The corps referred calls seeking comment to the Justice Department. The corps had argued that it is immune from liability because the channel is part of New Orleans’ flood control system, but the judge allowed the case to go forward.
Many in New Orleans have argued that Katrina, which struck the region Aug. 29, 2005,… Continue reading
Richard Gage AIA, of Architects and Engineers for 9/11 Truth, talks to architect Jan Utzon, son of Joern Utzon, the architect of the Sydney Opera House.
Like 964 other professional architects and engineers, Mr Utzon has signed the AE911truth.org petition demanding of Congress an independent investigation into the collapse of the 3 World Trade Center buildings in New York on September 11, 2001.
Please circulate this video widely.
A big thanks to EVERYONE who helped make this happen.…Continue reading
Times of India
LOS ANGELES: The CIA has paid millions of dollars to Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) since 9/11, accounting for as much as one-third of the foreign spy agency’s annual budget, says a media report.
The ISI also collected “tens of millions of dollars through a classified CIA programme”, which pays for the capture or killing of wanted militants, the Los Angeles Times reported on Monday citing current and former US officials.
An intense debate has been triggered within the US government due to “long-standing suspicions that the ISI continues to help Taliban extremists who undermine US efforts in Afghanistan and provide sanctuary to al-Qaida members in Pakistan”.
But US officials have continued to make the payments as ISI’s assistance is considered critical: “Almost every major terrorist plot this decade has originated in Pakistan’s tribal belt, where ISI informant networks are a primary source of intelligence.”
The report went on to say that the payments to Pakistan are authorised under a covert programme initially approved by then president Bush and continued under President Obama.
The LA Times article mentioned is available here: CIA says it gets its money’s worth from Pakistani spy agency: It has given hundreds of millions to the ISI, for operations as well as rewards for the capture or death of terrorist suspects. Despite fears of corruption, it is money well-spent, ex-officials say.
And for more reading on the ISI connection to 9/11 (and utter failure by the 9/11… Continue reading
by Brad Jacobson
Thursday, November 5th, 2009
The Pentagon’s Office of Inspector General is conducting a new investigation into a covert Bush administration Defense Department program that used retired military analysts to produce positive wartime news coverage.
Last May, the Inspector General’s office rescinded and repudiated a prior internal investigation’s report on the retired military analyst program, which had been issued by the Bush administration, because it “did not meet accepted quality standards for an Inspector General work product.” Yet in recent interviews with Raw Story, Pentagon officials who took part in the program were still defending it by referencing this invalidated report.
Gary Comerford, Inspector General spokesman for the Defense Department, told Raw Story last week that his office is conducting an investigation into the retired military analyst program and confirmed that the investigation began during the summer.
Asked when his office expects to conclude the investigation, Comerford said, “As a matter of policy we do not set deadlines since any number of variables or factors could result in a delay.”
He did confirm that investigators in his office have read Raw Story’s recent articles on the topic.
Congressman John F. Tierney (D-MA), Chairman of the Subcommittee on National Security and Foreign Affairs, issued a press release (cache link) this past June, announcing that Pentagon Inspector General Gordon Heddell had begun the new investigation.
Yet Raw Story and Comerford could find no other news… Continue reading
November 4, 2009
An Italian judge has convicted 23 Americans – all but one of them CIA agents – and two Italian secret agents for the 2003 kidnap of a Muslim cleric.
The agents were accused of abducting Hassan Mustafa Osama Nasr, known as Abu Omar, from Milan and sending him to Egypt, where he was allegedly tortured.
The trial, which began in June 2007, is the first involving the CIA’s so-called “extraordinary rendition” programme.
Three Americans and five Italians were acquitted by the court in Milan.
The Americans were all tried in their absence as they have not been extradited from the US to Italy.
The CIA’s Milan station chief at the time, Robert Lady, was given an eight-year term, while the other 22 Americans convicted – one of them a US air force colonel – were sentenced to five years in prison.
Lawyers for the 23 Americans said they would appeal against their convictions.
The two Italian agents, who were convicted as accomplices to kidnapping, were given three-year prison terms.
The court also ruled that those convicted must pay 1m euros ($1.5m) in damages to Abu Omar and 500,000 euros to his wife.
CIA spokesman George Little in Washington declined to comment on the convictions, telling the Associated Press news agency: “The CIA has not commented on any of the allegations surrounding Abu Omar.”
Italian prosecutors said Abu Omar was taken as part of a series of extraordinary renditions carried out by the CIA – when terror suspects were moved between countries without any public legal process.…Continue reading
by Prof. Peter Dale Scott
October 21, 2009
The New York Times, on October 17, published a page-one story by Scott Shane about the CIA’s defiance of a court order to release documents pertaining to the John F. Kennedy assassination, in its so-called Joannides file. George Joannides was the CIA case officer for a Cuban exile group that made headlines in 1963 by its public engagements with Lee Harvey Oswald, just a few weeks before Oswald allegedly killed Kennedy. For over six years a former Washington Post reporter, Jefferson Morley, has been suing the CIA for the release of these documents.1
Sometimes the way that a news item is reported can be more newsworthy than the item itself. A notorious example was the 1971 publication of the Pentagon Papers (documents far too detailed for most people to read) on the front page of the New York Times.
The October 17 Times story was another such example. It revealed, perhaps for the first time in any major U.S. newspaper, that the CIA has been deceiving the public about its own relationship to the JFK assassination.
On the Kennedy assassination, the deceptions began in 1964 with the Warren Commission. The C.I.A. hid its schemes to kill Fidel Castro and its ties to the anti-Castro Directorio Revolucionario Estudantil, or Cuban Student Directorate, which received $50,000 a month in C.I.A. support during 1963.
In August 1963, Oswald visited a New Orleans shop owned by a directorate official, feigning sympathy with… Continue reading