Originally published at TomDispatch by Matthew Harwood on 8/14/14
During a 2011 investigation, reporters Andrew Becker and G.W. Schulz discovered that, since 9/11, police departments watching over some of the safest places in America have used $34 billion in grant funding from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to militarize in the name of counterterrorism.
Jason Westcott was afraid.
One night last fall, he discovered via Facebook that a friend of a friend was planning with some co-conspirators to break in to his home. They were intent on stealing Wescott’s handgun and a couple of TV sets. According to the Facebook message, the suspect was planning on “burning” Westcott, who promptly called the Tampa Bay police and reported the plot.
According to the Tampa Bay Times, the investigating officers responding to Westcott’s call had a simple message for him: “If anyone breaks into this house, grab your gun and shoot to kill.”
Around 7:30 pm on May 27th, the intruders arrived. Westcott followed the officers’ advice, grabbed his gun to defend his home, and died pointing it at the intruders. They used a semiautomatic shotgun and handgun to shoot down the 29-year-old motorcycle mechanic. He was hit three times, once in the arm and twice in his side, and pronounced dead upon arrival at the hospital.
The intruders, however, weren’t small-time crooks looking to make a small… Continue reading
Originally published at The Guardian by Joanna Walters on 8/17/14
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.
Risen recently failed in an attempt to have the supreme court review an order for him to testify, and acknowledges that he has exhausted all his legal options against the Justice Department’s pursuit of him under the controversial Espionage Act. In the face of incarceration that could come as early as this autumn, he is resorting instead to journalistic defiance.
Risen would be the first journalist to go to prison for failing to divulge sources since 2005, when the former New York Times reporter Judith Miller was jailed for contempt of court, after refusing to testify about a… Continue reading
Originally published at CNN by Ray Sanchez on 8/3/14
(CNN) — President Barack Obama acknowledged Friday that the United States “crossed a line” and tortured al Qaeda detainees after the 9/11 terror attacks.
The comments at a White House news conference were the President’s strongest on the controversial subject since he came into office denouncing what he described as the Bush years of torturing alleged terrorists, also known as “enhanced interrogation.”
“When we engaged in some of these enhanced interrogation techniques, techniques that I believe and I think any fair-minded person would believe were torture, we crossed a line,” Obama said. “And that needs to be … understood and accepted. And we have to, as a country, take responsibility for that so that hopefully we don’t do it again in the future.”
In the remarks, Obama was referring to a soon-to-be-released Senate Intelligence Committee report detailing the CIA’s controversial interrogation and detention program following the 9/11 attacks.
The document is a nearly 700 page summary of the full 6,800 page report that was approved a year and a half ago by a committee sharply divided along party lines.
Senators on the committee have said the report is critical of the CIA’s treatment of terrorism suspects, saying it amounted to torture — an allegation CIA officials have denied. It also finds that those harsh interrogation techniques did not help disrupt future terrorist attacks as many in intelligence community have claimed.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein said later Friday that the report’s public… Continue reading
Originally published at The Guardian by Spencer Ackerman on 7/31/14
The director of the Central Intelligence Agency, John Brennan, issued an extraordinary apology to leaders of the US Senate intelligence committee on Thursday, conceding that the agency employees spied on committee staff and reversing months of furious and public denials.
Brennan acknowledged that an internal investigation had found agency security personnel transgressed a firewall set up on a CIA network, which allowed Senate committee investigators to review agency documents for their landmark inquiry into CIA torture.
Among other things, it was revealed that agency officials conducted keyword searches and email searches on committee staff while they used the network.
The admission brings Brennan’s already rocky tenure at the head of the CIA under renewed question. One senator on the panel said he had lost confidence in the director, although the White House indicated its support for a man who has been one of Barack Obama’s most trusted security aides.
CIA spokesman Dean Boyd acknowledged that agency staff had improperly monitored the computers of committee staff members, who were using a network the agency had set up, called RDINet. “Some CIA employees acted in a manner inconsistent with the common understanding reached between [the committee] and the CIA in 2009 regarding access to the RDINet,” he said.
Asked if Brennan had or would offer his resignation, a different CIA spokesman, Ryan Trapani, replied: “No.”
Originally posted by Human Rights Watch on 7/21/14
The 214-page report, “Illusion of Justice: Human Rights Abuses in US Terrorism Prosecutions,” examines 27 federal terrorism cases from initiation of the investigations to sentencing and post-conviction conditions of confinement. It documents the significant human cost of certain counterterrorism practices, such as overly aggressive sting operations and unnecessarily restrictive conditions of confinement.
“Americans have been told that their government is keeping them safe by preventing and prosecuting terrorism inside the US,” said Andrea Prasow, deputy Washington director at Human Rights Watch and one of the authors of the report. “But take a closer… Continue reading
Originally published at the Guardian by Spencer Ackerman on 7/21/2014
Nearly all of the highest-profile domestic terrorism plots in the United States since 9/11 featured the “direct involvement” of government agents or informants, a new report says.
Some of the controversial “sting” operations “were proposed or led by informants”, bordering on entrapment by law enforcement. Yet the courtroom obstacles to proving entrapment are significant, one of the reasons the stings persist.
The lengthy report, released on Monday by Human Rights Watch, raises questions about the US criminal justice system’s ability to respect civil rights and due process in post-9/11 terrorism cases. It portrays a system that features not just the sting operations but secret evidence, anonymous juries, extensive pretrial detentions and convictions significantly removed from actual plots.
“In some cases the FBI may have created terrorists out of law-abiding individuals by suggesting the idea of taking terrorist action or encouraging the target to act,” the report alleges.
Out of the 494 cases related to terrorism the US has tried since 9/11, the plurality of convictions – 18% overall – are not for thwarted plots but for “material support” charges, a broad category expanded further by the 2001 Patriot Act that permits prosecutors to pursue charges with tenuous connections to a terrorist act or group.
In one such incident, the initial basis for a material-support case alleging a man provided “military gear” to al-Qaida turned out to be waterproof socks in his luggage.
Several cases featured years-long solitary confinement for… Continue reading
On May 20, 2009, four men from the impoverished and largely African-American city of Newburgh, NY, were apprehended for an alleged terror plot. They had no history of violence or terrorist ties, but had been drawn by a Pakistani FBI informant into a carefully orchestrated scheme to bomb Jewish synagogues in a wealthy New York City suburb and fire Stinger missiles at U.S. military supply planes. Their dramatic arrest, complete with armored cars, a SWAT team and FBI aircraft, played out under the gaze of major TV outlets, ultimately resulting in 25-year prison sentences for the “Newburgh Four.”
Amidst the media frenzy surrounding the case, political figures extolled the outcome as a victory in the “war on terror” and a “textbook example of how a major investigation should be conducted,” though others believed the four men were victims of FBI entrapment. THE NEWBURGH STING delves deeply into this case — one of many cases across the country where people have been allegedly drawn into a plot with extreme consequences.
The Imam and assistant Imam of Mesjid al-Ikhlas, Newburgh mosque, recall their first encounters with Shahed Hussain – an undercover informant sent to Newburgh by the FBI in 2008 on a mission to find domestic terrorists. Representing himself as a businessman, Hussain drove expensive cars and made inflammatory statements about women and jihad. Suspicious, the Imams told a few of their congregants to stay away from Hussain, but one man, James Cromitie, bought into his story. Cromitie, a low-level drug dealer… Continue reading
Originally published at AP by Jack Gillum and Eileen Sullivan on 6/12/2014
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Obama administration has been quietly advising local police not to disclose details about surveillance technology they are using to sweep up basic cellphone data from entire neighborhoods, The Associated Press has learned.
Citing security reasons, the U.S. has intervened in routine state public records cases and criminal trials regarding use of the technology. This has resulted in police departments withholding materials or heavily censoring documents in rare instances when they disclose any about the purchase and use of such powerful surveillance equipment.
Federal involvement in local open records proceedings is unusual. It comes at a time when President Barack Obama has said he welcomes a debate on government surveillance and called for more transparency about spying in the wake of disclosures about classified federal surveillance programs.
One well-known type of this surveillance equipment is known as a Stingray, an innovative way for law enforcement to track cellphones used by suspects and gather evidence. The equipment tricks cellphones into identifying some of their owners’ account information, like a unique subscriber number, and transmitting data to police as if it were a phone company’s tower. That allows police to obtain cellphone information without having to ask for help from service providers, such as Verizon or AT&T, and can locate a phone without the user even making a call or sending a text message.
But without more details about how the technology works and under what circumstances… Continue reading
US intelligence agencies have made a fifth attempt to extend their bulk collection of American telephone records – more than a year after the controversial practice was first revealed by National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden.
Despite repeated calls from Congress and President Obama for the mass gathering of private US phone records to be banned, a court has approved the request in secret, allowing the NSA to continue collecting metadata until 12 September 2014.
In a joint statement released late on Friday afternoon, the justice department and director of national intelligence, James Clapper, said it was necessary to continue seeking such legal extensions because the Congressional reform process supported by Obama was not yet complete.
“Given that legislation has not yet been enacted, and given the importance of maintaining the capabilities of the Section 215 telephony metadata program, the government has sought a 90-day reauthorization of the existing program,” said the joint statement.
The 90-day blanket licence granted by the secretive Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, or Fisa court, is the fifth such extension that has been requested, and granted, since the Guardian first revealed the existence of the Section 215 program on 5 June 2013.
Similar 90-day reauthorisations were subsequently… Continue reading
In 2011 Barack Obama led an allied military intervention in Libya without consulting the US Congress. Last August, after the sarin attack on the Damascus suburb of Ghouta, he was ready to launch an allied air strike, this time to punish the Syrian government for allegedly crossing the ‘red line’ he had set in 2012 on the use of chemical weapons. Then with less than two days to go before the planned strike, he announced that he would seek congressional approval for the intervention. The strike was postponed as Congress prepared for hearings, and subsequently cancelled when Obama accepted Assad’s offer to relinquish his chemical arsenal in a deal brokered by Russia. Why did Obama delay and then relent on Syria when he was not shy about rushing into Libya? The answer lies in a clash between those in the administration who were committed to enforcing the red line, and military leaders who thought that going to war was both unjustified and potentially disastrous.
Obama’s change of mind had its origins at Porton Down, the defence laboratory in Wiltshire. British intelligence had obtained a sample of the sarin used in the 21 August attack and analysis demonstrated that the gas used didn’t match the batches known to exist in the Syrian army’s chemical weapons arsenal. The message that the case against Syria wouldn’t hold up was quickly relayed to the US joint chiefs of staff. The British… Continue reading
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 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
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
A newly uncovered Army document details U.S. internment camps on American soil .
Ryan Cummings, Contributor Activist Post
The topic of civilian internment camps in the United States has been largely dismissed as a paranoid “conspiracy theory” by the mainstream media. Recent legislation and newly uncovered government documents, however, reveal the sad truth: The United States is quickly descending into a full-blown authoritarian police state.
NDAA 2012: Patriot Act Part Two
On December 31, 2011, while the majority of Americans were busy watching balls drop and drinking themselves into oblivion, President Obama quietly signed into law the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2012. This unprecedented legislation effectively codified the executive branch’s authority to indefinitely detain American citizens without trial, stripping them of their Constitutional right to due process and habeas corpus.
Under this legislation, if you are simply “suspected” of providing support to a group the government classifies as a terrorist organization–or an affiliate or associated force of said organization–you can be rounded up and detained until the end of the “War on Terror”–a war, according to policy makers, that has no end.
Over the course of this endless and prefabricated war, the government’s definition of “terrorist” has slowly shifted post 9/11 from Al Qaeda, a group of dubious power initially funded and supported by the CIA and the Pakistani ISI , to such “domestic terrorists” as Occupy Wall Street protestors , pro-life advocates and Ron Paul supporters . When the FBI set-up a band of dimwitted… Continue reading
FBI says paying for your morning coffee with cash a potential terrorist activity, urges coffee shop owners to report cash-paying customers to authorities
by Ethan A. Huff, staff writer
Purchasing a cup of coffee using cash instead of a credit or debit card, using Google Maps to view photos of sporting event stadiums and large cities, and installing software to protect your internet privacy on your mobile phone — these and many other mundane activities are now considered to be potential terrorist activities by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). And the agency is now distributing a new series of flyers as part of its new “Communities Against Terrorism” (CAT) program that urges shop owners and others to report such “suspicious” activity to authorities.
“The Communities Against Terrorism program is funded by the Bureau of Justice Assistance through the SLATT Program to provide law enforcement agencies with a tool to engage members of the local community in the fight against terrorism,” writes SLATT.org, the program of the U.S. Department of Justice’s Bureau of Justice Assistance that is promoting the program, on its website. “To assist law enforcement in the outreach effort, templates of flyers containing potential indicators have been created for distribution to specific industries” (https://www.slatt.org/CAT).
The SLATT program offers both on-site and online training (indoctrination) for coffee shop owners, financial institution employees, tattoo shop artists, and many others into how to spot potential terrorist activities. Included among the many propaganda flyers the FBI is distributing as… Continue reading
by Mike Adams, the Health Ranger Editor of NaturalNews.com
(NaturalNews) When I read a story yesterday about an 89-year-old woman being water-boarded by nursing home staff over an argument about ice cream, I knew something terrible was amiss across the American landscape. Spontaneous acts of tyranny have been cropping up lately like cancer tumors: a food tyrant in Nevada raids a farm picnic and orders everyone to destroy their food ( http://www.naturalnews.com/034125_f… ); student protesters in California get pepper-sprayed by thuggish cops who clearly enjoy causing pain and suffering ( http://fieldnotes.msnbc.msn.com/_ne… ); and now nursing home staffers torture their own resident using techniques borrowed from Guantánamo Bay ( http://atlanta.cbslocal.com/2011/11… ). I watched all this with a sense of sadness and disgrace for the human race. And then a realization hit me like a sledgehammer…
And On a Related Theme…
Chancellor Katehi’s impressive learning skills
By Glenn Greenwald, Salon.com
The UC-Davis Chancellor responsible for the pepper-spraying of her students, Linda Katehi, today went on Good Morning America and explained why she should not resign or otherwise be held accountable: “we really need to start the healing process and move forward.” On a radio program in the afternoon, she expanded on this view by saying: “We need to move on.” So apparently — yet again — the only way everyone can begin to “heal” and “move forward” is if everyone agrees that those in power with the greatest responsibility be fully shielded from any consequences and that… Continue reading
One lawyer’s relentless quest for information reveals fresh hints of a coverup.
By James Ridgeway
July 21, 2011
In 2007, Mother Jones was the first national media outlet to tell the full story of Jesse Trentadue and his quest for the truth, which began four months after the attack on Oklahoma City’s Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building on April 19, 1995, killed 168 people. It was then that Trentadue, a Salt Lake City lawyer, learned that his brother, a construction worker and one-time bank robber, had died in a federal prison in Oklahoma City. [Photo: Timothy McVeigh is escorted from the courthouse in Perry, Oklahoma. Bob Owen/Zuma]
Prison officials said the prisoner had hanged himself. But Kenney Trentadue, who had never revealed any suicidal inclination, was shipped home for burial with bruises all over his body and lacerations on his face and throat–suggesting something more sinister. Even Oklahoma City’s chief medical examiner would later say, publicly, that it was “very likely he was murdered.” But the most compelling evidence in the case was altered or turned up missing. Jesse Trentadue was never able to prove what had actually happened to his brother–though he did win a $1.1 million civil suit for “emotional distress” to his family, based on the way the government had handled the aftermath of Kenney’s death.
Trentadue had all but given up, when, in the spring of 2003, he got a call from a small-town newspaper reporter in Oklahoma named… Continue reading