Originally published at The Stranger by Brendan Kiley on 12/12/14
Earlier this week, a real estate attorney from Coeur d’Alene stood up in front of a three-judge panel in Seattle’s Ninth Circuit courthouse to argue Smith vs. Obama—a case challenging NSA surveillance that began back in Idaho, and could be the one that ends up before the US Supreme Court.
It was the first time the attorney, Peter Smith, had appeared before the Ninth Circuit—as another lawyer once said to me, “the Ninth Circuit ain’t beanbag”—or done anything like it. Smith later said in a phone interview that he and his wife Anna were troubled by the 2013 Guardian stories about Edward Snowden and the NSA and had “an interesting discussion about what that means… Anna didn’t feel right.” So Smith did some research about the legality of the NSA’s bulk-collection programs and decided he had grounds to challenge them. Depending on how the Ninth Circuit rules, Mr. Smith could eventually go to Washington.
“Anna is my wife,” Smith started his statement to the judges. (You can watch the arguments by Smith and counter-argument from Department of Justice lawyer H. Thomas Byron III in the video below.) “She is also a neonatal intensive care nurse. She’s a mother. And ten years ago, Anna’s government began a dragnet collection of her call records. Those call records reveal detailed information about Anna when analyzed in the aggregate—”
“How do we know those records were… Continue reading
Originally published at WhoWhatWhy.com by Kevin Ryan on 9/24/14
When neighbors went trick-or-treating at Terry Lee Loewen’s house in Wichita last Halloween, they saw a quiet, unobtrusive, “normal” man. Two months later, federal authorities said they’d seen through the disguise and found a jihadist hiding in the suburbs.
Loewen “planned to die as a martyr” and was charged with trying to drive an explosives-laden vehicle onto the tarmac at Mid-Continent Airport, U.S. Attorney Barry Grissom said at the time of the arrest. An avionics technician, the then-58-year-old Loewen was really working on behalf of al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, according to the authorities.
Yet contradictions in the government account suggest there might be considerably more to know about Terry Loewen and his alleged plot. Was Loewen a Walter Mitty whose dark daydreams bloomed into reality, as the FBI says? Or was he just a hapless suburbanite who chose the wrong online fantasy life?
The official story is this: Loewen decided to engage in terrorism only six months before his arrest, and immediately began devoting all his time to preparations for becoming a “lone wolf” suicide bomber. A letter allegedly written by Loewen and released by the FBI gave the reasons for his radical change of heart: “My only explanation is that I believe in jihad for the sake of Allah + for the sake of my Muslim brothers + sisters.”
“I expect to be called a terrorist (which I am), a psychopath,… Continue reading
Originally published at AllGov by Noel Brinkerhoff on 11/21/14
A decade after the 9/11 Commission suggested creating a unified communications network for first responders to use during emergencies, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has finally collected enough money to move forward.
The commission recommended that the federal government create a way for police and firefighters from different jurisdictions to communicate with each other in a crisis—something they couldn’t do during the response to the 9/11 attacks.
Congress got into the act two years ago by passing legislation that authorized the FCC to reserve certain broadcast frequencies for public safety use.
The FCC, though, was left on its own to find funding for the new network, called FirstNet. So the commission auctioned off a band of wireless frequencies to telecommunications companies, which netted more than $11 billion to establish FirstNet.
The FCC only needs about $7 billion for the project, so the rest of the money is expected to go towards paying down the national debt.
Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile, and Dish Network all registered to bid on the wireless spectrum, but the FCC has not announced the winners of the auction.
For additional background and context regarding interoperable communications, please see:
Originally published at NEWS8 by on 11/19/14
NEW CANAAN, Conn. (WTNH)– New Canaan’s Mary Fetchet lost her son Brad on September 11, 2001. He had called her husband right after the first tower was hit; he was on the 89th floor of tower 2. That was the last time they heard from their 24-year-old son.
Fetchet, a social worker by trade, though grieving, started mobilizing to help other families and founded a 9/11 advocacy non-profit organization called Voices of September 11th.
She also launched the 9-11 Living Memorial Project so that the stories of those who perished could be told.
“We’ve collected over 70,000 images telling the story of the life of the person who died, not focusing on death, and it was a very therapeutic process for the families because with each photograph came a story or a remembrance of their loved one and the life that they shared with them,” said Fetchet. “I think that is one of the most important projects that we’ve worked on, and we’ve shared copies of each of those photographs with the museum, so it’s a major contribution to the memoriam exhibit that’s at the 9/11 Museum in New York City.”
“When somebody dies they’re with you every moment,” said Fetchet. “It’s different somebody’s alive, they’re with you when they’re with you, so I certainly feel that Brad and other people have provided some guidance along the way.”
Fetchet also campaigned for the creation of the independent 9/11 Commission… Continue reading
Originally published at Breaking Defense by Scott Swanson on 11/18/14
The first person to fire a Hellfire missile from a Predator drone in combat and destroy a target writes here about his experience. Scott Swanson has never written about this before. Read on. The Editor.
Flying a Predator drone in combat is nothing like playing a video game. Take it from me, the first person to pull the trigger in a lethal missile strike from a Predator.
As one of the early Air Force pilots to fly that Unmanned Aerial Vehicle, or UAV, I cringe when people make snide comments about the “Chair Force.” No, the pilot of a Remotely Piloted Aircraft can’t hear his plane’s engine, feel its motion, or smell that airplane smell; and yes, he (or she) has a joystick and throttle and a couple of TV screens in front of him. But there the comparison ends. Mentally, the pilot is inside a Predator, though the drone is half a world away. Emotionally, he is at war.
That was exactly how I felt one day in September 2000 when I saw Osama Bin Laden—or UBL, as we knew him—live on our Predator’s video screen. I was sitting in the pilot’s seat in our Ground Control Station (GCS) much of that afternoon. My sensor operator steering the camera was Master Sgt. Jeff Guay. As I orbited our Predator over Tarnak Farms, a dusty jumble of buildings in a mud-walled compound just outside Kandahar, Afghanistan,… Continue reading
Originally published at The Intercept by Cora Currier on 10/9/14
Can the government make demands for data entirely in secret?
That was the question yesterday before a federal appeals court in San Francisco, where government lawyers argued that National Security Letters — FBI requests for information that are so secret they can’t be publicly acknowledged by the recipients — were essential to counterterrorism investigations. The telecom company and internet provider that have challenged the National Security Letters (known as NSLs) still can’t even be named.
Last year, in a sharp rebuke to the government, a judge found that the gag order that comes with NSLs violated the First Amendment. The nondisclosure rule “significantly infringe[s] on speech regarding controversial government powers,” U.S. District Judge Susan Illston, of Northern California, wrote in March 2013. She also ordered that the FBI stop sending out NSLs entirely, but put the order on hold to give the government a chance to appeal.
The government, predictably, did appeal, and in arguments yesterday before the 9th Circuit, a Justice Department lawyer said that they would lose “an extremely useful tool” if the court upholds the ban on NSLs. (Documents related to the case can be found here.)
The letters, the reach of which was expanded under the Patriot Act in 2001, let the FBI get business records from telephone, banking, and Internet companies with just a declaration that the information is relevant to a counterterrorism investigation.
The Electronic Frontier Foundation, which is representing the… Continue reading
Originally published at whowhatwhy.com by Russ Baker on 8/28/14
Any serious student of history is on alert for “interesting accidents.” Because sometimes they are accidents. Sometimes, they’re not.
We have no opinion at the moment on the one-car-wreck that left former FBI director Louis Freeh badly injured around noon on August 25, other than to note some curious facts: the police were hours late informing the office of the governor of Vermont; Freeh was flown by helicopter to the Dartmouth-Hitchcock Hospital in New Hampshire under armed guard, and has remained under armed guard; the hospital has refused to confirm that he is a patient, even after reports of two surgeries; at least for the first few days no one has answered the phones at his company, Freeh Group International.
From news reports available at press time, Freeh
was headed south on Vermont 12 in his 2010 GMC Yukon when he drove off the east side of the road. The vehicle struck a mailbox and a row of shrubs, then came to rest against the side of a tree, police said…
Louis Freeh epitomizes the risks attendant in a president’s decision to demonstrate bipartisanship by appointing or re-appointing figures associated with the opposing political party and/or prior regime. He also embodies the troubled legacy of the Bureau from its earliest days. (For a look at how the U.S. media cooperated with the Bureau to misleadingly burnish its image, see this)… Continue reading
Witness Iraq has brought a lawsuit against key members of the Bush Administration: George W. Bush, Richard B. Cheney, Donald H. Rumsfeld, Condoleezza Rice, Colin Powell and Paul Wolfowitz.
In Saleh v. Bush, plaintiff Sundus Shaker Saleh alleges that the Iraq War was a premeditated war against the Iraqi people, the planning of which started in 1998. The war was not conducted in self-defense, did not have the appropriate authorization by the United Nations, and under international law constituted a “crime of aggression” — a crime first set down at the Nuremberg Trials after World War II.
See August 19 update
Originally published at Quiet Mike by Quiet Mike on7/25/14
Last summer, Inder Comar, Esq. filed a lawsuit against the Bush Administration on behalf of Iraqi refugee plaintiff Sundus Shaker Saleh. It is a noble attempt to hold the Bush Administration accountable for war crimes and a case that Quiet Mike has been following from the beginning.
Earlier this year, the Department of Justice, who is defending the six Bush Administration officials, responded to the lawsuit by requesting that the case be dismissed. The Bush tribe is claiming that the planning of the war occurred within the scope of their employment and therefore they have immunity.
Rather than dismissing the case, the Judge asked for additional information. So Mr. Comar… Continue reading
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 by the New York Daily News by Dan Friedman on 8/10/14
WASHINGTON — The government has recognized that first responders became ill from working near Ground Zero — but the 9/11 Museum isn’t so sure.
Responders and surviving family members are furious that panels at the museum’s “After 9/11″ exhibit present the connection between the toxic dust around Ground Zero and the subsequent health issues of many workers as uncertain.
It’s the latest in a long list of complaints about the museum’s management and mission by victims’ families and responders, who point out that the 2011 James Zadroga Act, which helped cover victims’ health needs, settled the issue.
“It is inexcusable that the museum would project skepticism about the link between health impacts and WTC exposures, despite overwhelming medical evidence,” write the chairs of two committees created to help beneficiaries of the Zadroga Act in letter sent to museum head Joseph Daniels on Friday.
Museum spokesman Michael Frazier said the letter was under review. “Among our visitors… Continue reading
Originally published at FOX13 by Ben Winslow on 7/31/14
SALT LAKE CITY — A trial over evidence and conspiracy theories from the Oklahoma City bombing wrapped up here, with a shocking twist.
As a trial over documents and videotape the FBI had from the 1995 bombing that killed 168 ended on Thursday, the man suing the federal government claimed one of his witnesses had been told not to show up — or else.
Jesse Trentadue said John Matthews, whom he claimed worked as an undercover government operative in the militia movement in the 1990s, had been contacted by an FBI agent and told “it would be best if he didn’t show up to testify.”
“He was told he should take a vacation and that if he did testify he should suffer from a case of the ‘I don’t remembers,’” Trentadue told U.S. District Court Judge Clark Waddoups.
Trentadue told FOX 13 that Matthews had known convicted bomber Timothy McVeigh and worked for the government in an operation targeting the patriot militia movement known as “PATCON.”
“He was part of an operation the FBI ran for a decade during the ’90s where they would infiltrate, and it’s questionable whether they incited the right wing,” he told FOX 13.
Lawyers for the FBI denied the allegation and said it was Matthews who had contacted them asking how he could get out of testifying. Matthews could not be located to testify, they told the judge.
“This is a serious accusation,” Judge Waddoups said.… Continue reading
When the FBI investigated a Saudi Arabian family that abruptly left Sarasota weeks before the 9/11 terror attacks, it found “many connections between the (redacted) family and individuals associated with the terrorist attacks on 9/11/01.”
The description, included in documents released Friday as part of a federal lawsuit against the agency, comes as the FBI is working to comply with a federal judge’s order to produce 27 boxes of materials.
To date, the agency said it has moved the boxes to the U.S. Attorney’s office in South Florida, and spent many hours trying to delineate for U.S. District Court Judge William Zloch which documents are top secret by inserting 822 page markers into the boxes.
The agency also explained an earlier discrepancy that resulted in four additional boxes of documents. David M. Hardy, the FBI’s section chief in charge of records management, said the agency used a smaller box size to comply with the order. That and the marker pages resulted in more boxes overall.
“An 80,266 page file was received from Tampa, and the 80,266 page file was produced,” Hardy wrote.
The FBI also shipped a CD… 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
The Colorado Democratic Party (CDP) is the only Democratic party in the U.S., so far, that has a plank within its platform that calls for a new 9/11 investigation. This plank (or a similar one) has been included in the platform since 2008.
Rumor has it, however, that some of the 2014 CDP Platform Committee members want to remove it, believing that claims by 9/11 skeptics have been answered. Therefore, this document was written to inform these platform committee members that our claims have not been answered, and furthermore, President Obama’s call for an “Open and Transparent Government” has been thoroughly unfulfilled regarding the events of September 11, 2001.
This document is part of a letter to the CDP Platform Committee members. It is far from complete, but it gives ample examples of how we have not had transparency regarding September 11, 2001.
We hope it will be useful to you.
The Colorado 9/11 Truth Team
Concerning the September 11, 2001, Attacks: What Are Some Ways That Obama’s Call for Transparency Has Remained Unfulfilled?
I. Lack of transparency, in general, by the 9/11 Commission Report
1. Lee Hamilton and Thomas Kean concealed from the staff of the 9/11 Commission the fact that Philip Zelikow, the Commission’s executive director, had written a detailed outline of the Commission’s final report, complete with “chapter headings, subheadings, and sub-subheadings,” before the staff had its first meeting. (David Ray Griffin, 9/11 Ten Years Later, 71; original source is Philip Shenon,… Continue reading
Originally published at WIRED by John Borland on 12/29/13
HAMBURG – A new foundation to support whistleblowers is being launched by former British intelligence agent Annie Machon, whose resignation and revelations about U.K. spying activities in the 1990s sparked controversy echoing this year’s NSA news.
Speaking at the Chaos Communication Congress (CCC) here, Machon said the foundation would be called the Courage Fund to Protect Journalistic Sources.
“Crucially, we want to encourage other whistleblowers to come forward,” she said. “It is a very frightening and lonely process to go through. We need to show that they can not only survive the process, but even flourish.”
Machon’s experience in the 1990s in some senses prefigured what sources such as Edward Snowden and Chelsea Manning are going through today.
An intelligence officer with the British MI5 service for six years, she and her partner resigned in 1997 and made public a number of allegations about secret and potentially criminal activities.
Among these, they alleged that intelligence services had been keeping secret files on government ministers, had illegally tapped phones, had failed to stop Irish Republican Army bombs and subsequently lied about their actions, that people known to be innocent had been convicted of bombing crimes, and – most explosively – that MI6 had sought to have Libya’s Muammar Gaddafi assassinated.
She and her partner were forced on the run in Europe for the next year, and her partner ultimately went to prison twice for… Continue reading
Originally published by The NY Post on 12/19/13
A U.S. appeals court on Thursday revived claims by families of victims of the September 11, 2001, attacks who alleged that Saudi Arabia provided material support to al Qaeda.
Reversing a lower court ruling, the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New York said “the interests of justice” justified reviving the claims, in light of a 2011 decision that allowed similar claims to proceed against Afghanistan.
Circuit Judge Chester Straub wrote for a three-judge panel that it would be “especially anomalous” to treat both sets of plaintiffs differently. He returned the case to U.S. District Judge George Daniels in Manhattan for further proceedings.
The litigation was brought on behalf of families of the nearly 3,000 people killed in the September 11 attacks, as well as insurers that covered losses suffered by building owners and businesses.
Most of the attackers were Saudi nationals who hijacked planes and flew them into the World Trade Center in New York City, the Pentagon in Washington, D.C., and – when passengers revolted – into a field in Pennsylvania.
“This opinion is eminently correct and will give 9/11 victims their day in court,” said Stephen Cozen, a partner at Cozen O’Connor representing the plaintiffs. “The parties will start over, and we are very, very satisfied that we will meet any defenses, both legal and factual, that are raised.”
Cozen said damages could reach tens of billions of dollars.
Michael Kellogg, a partner at Kellogg, Huber, Hansen, Todd,… Continue reading
Originally published at Daily Censored by Kristina Borjesson on 12/11/13
It began with an email on October 24, 2013 to Tom Stalcup, Ph.D., Co-Producer and Senior Science Advisor for the new documentary, “TWA Flight 800.” New York Magazine intern Claire McCartney wrote that editor Geoffrey Gray wanted to talk to Stalcup and to “get in contact” with Kristina Borjesson, the film’s Producer/Director.
In his first phone conversation with Stalcup, Gray jokingly identified himself as being with the National Transportation Safety Board. He congratulated Stalcup on his success and suggested he write a book. Stalcup asked if Gray had seen the documentary. Gray hadn’t, but promised to talk again after watching it.
Gray portrayed himself as an honest investigative journalist, saying that investigations like Stalcup’s into TWA 800 are his life and that he has conducted many of them and knows what it’s like. He gave Stalcup the impression that he was working on a serious article for New York Magazine. Stalcup provided Gray with verified, factual information, free of any speculation or theorizing.
When Gray called film director Borjesson, she asked Gray about the context of his article so that she could better answer his questions. Gray said it was for an issue on conspiracy theories. Borjesson responded that she and her investigative team wanted nothing to do with that because the first-hand sources (members of the original official investigation who had actually handled the wreckage and evidence), hard forensic evidence and eyewitnesses presented in the “TWA Flight… 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