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 NY Post by Isabel Vincent, Melissa Klein and Susan Edelman on 11/16/14
In a greedy grab for blood money, a law firm representing sick and dying Ground Zero workers overbilled its legal partner by $36 million in expenses, newly released court papers allege.
The shocking charges call into question the estimated $50 million in additional legal expenses billed to 10,000 firefighters, police officers, construction workers and others who received more than $700 million in settlements for 9/11-related ailments.
An advocate for ill responders — John Feal, a Ground Zero demolition supervisor — demanded Napoli Bern be investigated by authorities.
“It’s outrageous and disgusting,” said Feal, claiming the majority of complaints he hears about legal representation relate to Napoli Bern.
The once-prestigious personal-injury law firm has been rocked by infighting over allegations of sexual improprieties and financial misconduct.
Napoli Bern has also been battling its partner law firm, Worby Groner, since 2012 over legal fees they shared in the 9/11 litigation. The two firms teamed up in 2004 to represent Ground Zero workers afflicted with cancer and other ailments.
The total settlements with the city and other defendants came to about $725 million. Before the 9/11 workers got their checks, though, various costs were deducted. The law firms then got a 25 percent cut of the remainder.
Napoli Bern and Worby Groner… Continue reading
Originally published at the Daily Mail Online by AP and Kieran Corcoran, updated on 11/16/14
A jihadist serving life in prison on terror charges brought in the wake of 9/11 has claimed the Saudi Arabian royal family helped finance the plot.
Zacarias Moussaoui, 46, says an unnamed Saudi Prince paid for flying lessons for him and the 19 terrorists who hijacked planes in the September 11 attacks in the run-up to the atrocities.
The incredible claims were made in documents filed to a federal court in Oklahoma, in which Moussaoui says a prince ‘was assisting me in my Islamic terrorist activities… and was doing so knowingly for Osama bin Laden’.
He also said that bin Laden provided assistance from Saudi leaders in planning the attacks, and that he was involved in a plot to shoot down Air Force One with President Bill Clinton on board.
The Saudi government has flatly denied any involvement in 9/11. Moussaoui’s own credibility is also suspect – as even Osama bin Laden has denied he had anything to do with his terrorist plots.
Lawyers for… Continue reading
Originally published at KFOR by K. Kerry on 11/13/14
SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (KSTU) – A federal judge in Utah has indicated that he wants an investigation into whether the FBI tampered with a witness in a trial regarding the Oklahoma City bombing.
At a hearing on Tuesday, the judge stopped short of finding the FBI in contempt of court, according to KSTU.
Instead, he indicated that he would appoint a federal magistrate judge to oversee further investigation into the claims.
However, he ruled that the FBI failed to file a report on the allegations in a timely manner.
Jesse Trentadue is suing over the death of his brother, Kenneth, who he claims was mistaken for a bombing co-conspirator and killed while in federal custody during an interrogation.
Trentadue is asking for records, including videotapes that he claims show convicted bomber Timothy McVeigh parking a truck in front of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building and leaving with someone else before the bomb went off.
Trentadue has claimed that the other person was an FBI operative.
“There’s no doubt in my mind and it’s proven beyond any doubt that the FBI knew the bombing… Continue reading
Originally published at Foreign Policy Journal by Shawn Hamilton on 10/27/14
The terms “conspiracy theorist” and “conspiracy nut” are used frequently to discredit a perceived adversary using emotional rather than logical appeals. It’s important for the sake of true argument that we define the term “conspiracy” and use it appropriately, not as an ad hominem attack on someone whose point of view we don’t share.
According to my Webster’s Unabridged Dictionary, the word “conspiracy” derives from the Latin “conspirare,” which means literally “to breathe together” in the sense of agreeing to commit a crime. The primary definition is “planning and acting together secretly, especially for a harmful or unlawful purpose, such as murder or treason.”
It was in this sense that Mark Twain astutely observed, “A conspiracy is nothing but a secret agreement of a number of men for the pursuance of policies which they dare not admit in public.”
Conspiracies are common. If they weren’t, police stations would not need conspiracy units to investigate and prosecute crimes such as “conspiracy to import cocaine” or any other collusion on the part of two or more people to subvert the law.
Unfortunately, too many people smugly chide “conspiracy theories” as if they imagine that such a derisive characterization reflects superior intellect—whether or not they know anything about the issue in question. It’s a pitiful display of ego inflation and intellectual dishonesty, yet it appears to be a common approach preferred by those either short on information and critical thinking… Continue reading
Originally published at The Litigation Daily by Michael D. Goldhabe on 10/15/14
An earlier version of this story stated that 28 pages of the 9/11 Commission Report are classified. In fact, the 28 pages were redacted from the report by the congressional joint inquiry into 9/11 intelligence. The story has been so revised.
“I loooove to pick on the Saudis,” the South Carolina trial lawyer Ronald Motley said in a 2004 New York Times magazine cover story, “A Nation Unto Himself.”
The U.S. executive and judiciary are less eager to tweak the House of Saud. But Motley’s trillion-dollar 2002 claim against the Kingdom, captioned In re Terrorist Attacks on September 11, 2001, has experienced a slow-motion revival that culminated last month in the quiet filing of a devastating new complaint. The Sept. 15 amended complaint, filed by the late Motley’s more sober co-counsel at Cozen O’Connor, only seeks some $200 billion for Saudia Arabia’s alleged role in backing the 9/11 terrorists. The lively, 156-page narrative reads as a prequel to the 9/11 Commission Report, and as a much-needed corrective.
Exactly a week later, a jury in the world’s first terror funding trial found Jordan’s Arab Bank liable for funneling money from a Saudi state charity to Hamas during the Palestinian intifada. “The core issue in 9/11 and Arab Bank is the same,” says Motley Rice’s Jodi Flowers, who acts for the plaintiffs in both cases. “As one of the… Continue reading
Originally published at BORDC by Christina Murray on 10/17/14
“Some stories are just too true to tell.”
This quote from the trailer of “Kill the Messenger,” a film about the life of reporter Gary Webb, who wrote on the CIA’s role in drug trafficking in 1996, sums up exactly why reporters like Webb are important, and why understanding the role of powerhouses such as the CIA and other government organizations is crucial in how we see ourselves within our own country.
The movie is a close, dramatic retelling of the life of Gary Webb, who, when he broke the story of the Nicaraguan drug cartel that transported drugs to Los Angeles, received intense support and intense critique. Eventually San Jose Mercury, the newspaper that Webb wrote for, backed away from the story fearing severe backlash. This effectively ended Webb’s career. The most heartbreaking moment in Webb’s story is the story of his death, which the film does address. In 2004, Webb was found dead, he has apparently committed suicide.
The film’s main objective is to address the role of the CIA during the Reagan administration in supporting, or at least ignoring, the Nicaraguan cocaine trade.“The [New York] Times’ resistance to accepting the reality of this major national security scandal under President Ronald Reagan even predated its tag-team destruction of Webb in the mid-1990s, when he was alternately pummeled by the Times, the Washington Post and the… 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 posted at The NY Post by Paul Sperry on 10/5/14
At least three eyewitnesses spotted al Qaeda hijackers casing the security checkpoints at Boston’s Logan Airport months before the 9/11 attacks. They saw something and said something — but were ignored, newly unveiled court papers reveal.
One of the witnesses, an American Airlines official, actually confronted hijacking ringleader Mohamed Atta after watching him videotape and test a security checkpoint in May 2001 — four months before he boarded the American Airlines flight that crashed into the World Trade Center.
The witness alerted security, but authorities never questioned the belligerent Egyptian national or flagged him as a threat.
“I’m convinced that had action been taken after the sighting of Atta, the 9/11 attacks, at least at Logan, could have been deterred,” said Brian Sullivan, a former FAA special agent who at the time warned of holes in security at the airport.
The three Boston witnesses were never publicly revealed, even though they were interviewed by the FBI and found to be credible. Their names didn’t even appear as footnotes in the 9/11 commission report.
But what they testified to seeing — only revealed now as part of the discovery in a settled 9/11 wrongful-death suit against the airlines and the government — can only be described as… Continue reading
Originally published at the Miami Herald by on 8/22/14 (Updated 9/26/14)
Mystery solved, if there was any doubt: It was the CIA that hit the mute button in the war court earlier this year when a defense lawyer for the accused 9/11 mastermind began talking about the CIA’s secret overseas prisons, the lawyer said Monday.
The Jan. 28 episode so embarrassed Army Col. James Pohl, the judge in the Sept. 11 terror case, that he ordered the kill switch unplugged, an order the agency apparently honored because no outside entity has censored the court since.
Prosecutors had only allowed the kill-switch operator to be identified by the codename “OCA,” short for Original Classification Authority.
But Monday, attorney David Nevin, representing Khalid Sheik Mohammed, whom the CIA waterboarded 183 times, unmasked the OCA in open court while describing to the judge the slow pace of discovery in a Defense Department investigation of whether anyone else has the power to listen in on the war court, specifically their confidential attorney-client conversations.
“We recently learned that was the CIA, that CIA was controlling that location of the feed,” Nevin told the judge.
And this time nobody muted him for uttering the initials of the Central Intelligence Agency
The strange censorship episode occurred in January just as Nevin was asking the judge to issue a protective order on whatever remnants exist of the CIA’s secret overseas prison network. Pohl’s the judge who similarly declared the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq a crime… Continue reading
Originally published at Global Research by David Ray Griffin on 10/8/14
Thomas (“Tod”) Christopher Fletcher was born in Alameda County, California, February 27, 1952. In 1980, while at Berkeley, Tod married Susan Elizabeth Peabody, a graduate student and later a teacher of English Literature.
Tod enrolled in the Berkeley Masters program in Geography, where he completed his thesis in 1982 (“The Mono Basin in the Nineteenth Century: Discovery, Settlement, Land Use,” 1982).
He then worked for several years towards his doctorate and completed all but his dissertation. But then a chronic illness, known as hypersensitivity to the environment, with which Susan had become afflicted, became so bad that she became bedridden. Wanting to take care of her himself, he could search for teaching positions only close to home. He taught at UC Berkeley until funding for the university was slashed, after which he taught at some junior colleges.
Tod published a book, “Paiute, Prospector, Pioneer: A History of the Bodie-Mono Lake Area in the Nineteenth Century” (Artemisia Press, 1987). In 2014, he was invited to give a lecture about this book at a conference to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the historic decision to protect Mono Lake. When he explained that he would not be able to attend, because he could not leave Susan for such a long period, the organizers told him that if he wrote the lecture, they would read it aloud, and this worked out.
In the… Continue reading
Originally published at WhoWhatWhy by Peter Dale Scott on 10/5/14
Peter Dale Scott is considered the father of “Deep Politics”— the study of hidden permanent institutions and interests whose influence on the political realm transcends the elected, appointed and career officials who come and go.
A Professor of English at Berkeley and a former Canadian diplomat, he is the author of several critically acclaimed books on the pivotal events of our country’s recent past, including Deep Politics and the Death of JFK; Drugs, Oil, and War: The United States in Afghanistan, Colombia, and Indochina (War and Peace Library); The Road to 9/11: Wealth, Empire, and the Future of America and American War Machine: Deep Politics, the CIA Global Drug Connection, and the Road to Afghanistan (War and Peace Library). He is also a poet, whose long work, Coming to Jakarta: A Poem about Terror, was hailed as “the most important political poem to appear in the English language in a very long time,” by Robert Hass, Poet Laureate of the United States from 1995 to 1997.
Daniel Ellsberg said of his book Drugs, Oil and War, “It makes most academic and journalistic explanations of our past and current interventions read like government propaganda written for children.”
What follows is based on a recent Scott lecture entitled “The JFK Assassination and Other Deep Events”, and will be expanded on further… Continue reading
Originally published at EPIC on 9/8/14
EPIC (Finally) Obtains Memos on Warrantless Wiretapping Program: More than eight years after filing a Freedom of Information Act request for the legal justification behind the “Warrantless Wiretapping” program of President Bush, EPIC has now obtained a mostly unredacted version of two key memos (OLC54) and (OLC85) by former Justice Department official Jack Goldsmith. EPIC requested these memos just four hours after the New York Times broke the story about the program in December 2005. When the agency failed to release the documents, EPIC filed a lawsuit. The ACLU and the National Security Archive later joined the case. These two Office of Legal Counsel memos offer the fullest justification of the warrantless wiretapping program available to date, arguing that the president has inherent constitutional power to monitor American’s communications without a warrant in a time of war. But some parts of the legal analysis, including possibly contrary authority, are still being withheld. The warrantless wiretapping program was part of “Stellar Wind,” a broad program of email interception, phone record collection, and data collection undertaken by the NSA without the approval of Congress.
In December 2005, the New York Times reported that President Bush secretly issued an executive order in 2002 authorizing the National Security Agency to conduct warrantless surveillance of international telephone and Internet communications on American soil. President Bush acknowledged the existence of the NSA surveillance program and vowed that its activities would continue.
EPIC submitted FOIA… Continue reading
Originally published at FoxNews by Catherine Herridge on 10/1/14
Newly released documents further support the conclusion that the FBI was working with radical cleric Anwar al-Awlaki after the 9/11 attacks – in the years before he became the first American targeted for death by a U.S. drone strike.
As part of an ongoing investigation of the cleric that began after the 2009 Fort Hood shooting massacre, Fox News was first to report that in 2002, al-Awlaki was released from custody at JFK International Airport — despite an active warrant for his arrest — with the okay of FBI Agent Wade Ammerman.
Watchdog group Judicial Watch has since obtained more than 900 pages of new documents in the course of its federal lawsuit against the FBI under the Freedom of Information Act. They show the cleric was emailing and leaving voice messages with an FBI agent in 2003, a year after Ammerman told customs agents at JFK airport to bypass an outstanding warrant for the cleric’s arrest.
The documents further support claims that Awlaki, who eventually went overseas and linked up with an Al Qaeda affiliate, worked with the FBI and was likely a U.S. government asset.
“I have little doubt that President Obama assassinated a terrorist that was an asset of the U.S. government,” Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton said.
He added: “There have been so many missed opportunities in getting the bad guys, but it’s… Continue reading
Originally published at The Corbett Report by James Corbett on 9/10/14
William Binney was a 30 year veteran official of the National Security Agency who resigned in October 2001 to blow the whistle on the NSA’s deliberate violation of the constitution. Now, 13 years after the events of 9/11 that helped the NSA justify its total surveillance dragnet, Binney has signed the Architects and Engineers for 9/11 Truth’s petition calling for a new investigation into 9/11. Today we talk to Richard Gage, founder of AE911Truth.org, and William Binney himself, about this petition, its significance, and the ongoing quest for 9/11 truth and justice.
CLICK HERE for the full mp3 audio of this interview.
Architects and Engineeers for 9/11 Truth
Originally published at Here & Now by Jeremey Hobson on 9/10/14
Thirteen years after the September 11th terrorist attacks in New York City, thousands of first responders continue to struggle with health problems, some which are just being diagnosed.
Respiratory illnesses like asthma and sinusitis are common among those who participated in the World Trade Center recovery efforts. And studies show that the incidence of cancers for 9/11 first responders are 15 percent higher than the general population.Thyroid cancer was 239 percent higher.
John Feal was severely injured on the Ground Zero site when an 8,000 pound steel beam crushed his foot.
He started the FealGood Foundation, which advocates for physically and emotionally injured first responders and helps them get compensation.
Feal tells Here &Now’s Jeremy Hobson that he believes post-traumatic stress disorder is the number one killer of 9/11 responders.
On chronic illnesses 9/11 first responders face
“My injury pales in comparison to those who are sick and dying — or who have died from their 9/11-related illness. These invisible diseases are literally killing these men and women on a daily basis, and sadly 2,749 innocent lives were killed on 9/11, because of senseless violence but we’re losing people all the time.
“As a nation, we are going to pay homage and remember those who died on… Continue reading
Originally published at The New Yorker by Lawrence Wright on 9/9/14On the bottom floor of the United States Capitol’s new underground visitors’ center, there is a secure room where the House Intelligence Committee maintains highly classified files. One of those files is titled “Finding, Discussion and Narrative Regarding Certain Sensitive National Security Matters.” It is twenty-eight pages long. In 2002, the Administration of George W. Bush excised those pages from the report of the Joint Congressional Inquiry into the 9/11 attacks. President Bush said then that publication of that section of the report would damage American intelligence operations, revealing “sources and methods that would make it harder for us to win the war on terror.”
“There’s nothing in it about national security,” Walter Jones, a Republican congressman from North Carolina who has read the missing pages, contends. “It’s about the Bush Administration and its relationship with the Saudis.” Stephen Lynch, a Massachusetts Democrat, told me that the document is “stunning in its clarity,” and that it offers direct evidence of complicity on the part of certain Saudi individuals and entities in Al Qaeda’s attack on America. “Those twenty-eight pages tell a story that has been completely removed from the 9/11 Report,” Lynch maintains. Another congressman who has read the document said that the evidence of Saudi government support… Continue reading
Originally published by Reuters by Jonathan Stempel on 9/2/14
(Reuters) – A federal appeals court on Tuesday said photos of a Saudi national imprisoned at Guantanamo Bay who U.S. officials have said intended to be the “20th hijacker” in the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks should stay classified, in the interest of protecting national security.
The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New York said the government plausibly showed that releasing images of Mohammed al-Qahtani, who was subject to interrogation techniques that a government official likened to torture, could endanger military personnel, diplomats and workers in Afghanistan and elsewhere.
The Center for Constitutional Rights, which represents al-Qahtani in a federal lawsuit in Washington, D.C. over his treatment, had sought the disclosure of photographs, videos and other audiovisual evidence of his confinement conditions under the federal Freedom of Information Act.
Writing for a three-judge panel, however, Circuit Judge José Cabranes said the release “could logically and plausibly harm national security because these images are uniquely susceptible to use by anti-American extremists as propaganda to incite violence against United States interests domestically and abroad.”
Al-Qahtani has been held since February 2002 at the U.S. prison camp in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
He had been the target of a “special interrogation plan” that included 20-hour interrogations, sleep deprivation, prolonged exposure to cold temperatures, forced nudity, performance of dog tricks while wearing a dog collar, and sexual humiliation, according to publicly leaked interrogation logs.
Lawrence Lustberg, a lawyer for CCR, in a statement objected… Continue reading