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 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 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
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
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 MadCow Morning News by intrepid investigative journalist Daniel Hopsiker on 9/12/13
If the Bush Administration lied to justify waging a war against Iraq, what truths still lie buried beneath the official explanation for what happened on September 11 2001?
Before discussion about 9/11 was squeezed—in a pincer movement worthy of Hitler’s Panzer divisions—between the so-called “official story” and the subsequent campaign of disinformation that gave conspiracy a bad name, there were some promising avenues of investigation where definitive answers might still be possible.
Here are a few that remain at the top of my list. There are many others.
On the 12th anniversary of the Sept 11 attack there has still been no official investigation into the murders of almost 3000 people that day. The Joint Congressional Intelligence Committee investigation, which met in secret, delivered a report famously containing 28 blank pages.
And anyone looking to the 9/11 Commission for answers had already been disillusioned, even before they issued “findings,“ because they were charged only with identifying what might have been done differently to prevent a future attack.
The FBI’s ballyhooed 4000-man “largest investigation in history” lasted just a little more than three weeks, until someone—we still don’t know who—mailed letters sprinkled with anthrax, changing the focus of the FBI investigation.
Days later, in an order describing the investigation of the terrorist hijackings as “the most exhaustive in its history,” FBI Agents were ordered to curtail their investigation of the Sept. 11 attack. Officials said Robert Mueller, newly-sworn in… Continue reading
By Peter Dale Scott
The Asia-Pacific Journal, Vol. 11, Issue 29, No. 1, July 29, 2013
For almost two centuries American government, though always imperfect, was also a model for the world of limited government, having evolved a system of restraints on executive power through its constitutional arrangement of checks and balances.
Since 9/11 however, constitutional practices have been overshadowed by a series of emergency measures to fight terrorism. The latter have mushroomed in size, reach and budget, while traditional government has shrunk. As a result we have today what the journalist Dana Priest has called two governments: the one its citizens were familiar with, operated more or less in the open: the other a parallel top secret government whose parts had mushroomed in less than a decade into a gigantic, sprawling universe of its own, visible to only a carefully vetted cadre – and its entirety…visible only to God.1
More and more, it is becoming common to say that America, like Turkey before it, now has what Marc Ambinder and John Tirman have called a deep state behind the public one.2 And this parallel government is guided in surveillance matters by its own Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, known as the FISA court, which according to the New York Times, “has quietly become almost a parallel Supreme Court.”3 Thanks largely to Edward Snowden, it is now clear that the FISA Court has permitted this deep state to expand surveillance beyond the tiny number of known and suspected Islamic terrorists, to any incipient protest movement that might challenge the policies of the American war machine.…Continue reading
By Nafeez Ahmed
A whistleblower has revealed extraordinary information on the U.S. government’s support for international terrorist networks and organised crime. The government has denied the allegations yet gone to extraordinary lengths to silence her. Her critics have derided her as a fabulist and fabricator. But now comes word that some of her most serious allegations were confirmed by a major European newspaper only to be squashed at the request of the U.S. government.
In a recent book Classified Woman, Sibel Edmonds, a former translator for the FBI, describes how the Pentagon, CIA and State Department maintained intimate ties to al-Qaeda militants as late as 2001. Her memoir, Classified Woman: The Sibel Edmonds Story, published last year, charged senior government officials with negligence, corruption and collaboration with al Qaeda in illegal arms smuggling and drugs trafficking in Central Asia.
In interviews with this author in early March, Edmonds claimed that Ayman al-Zawahiri, current head of al Qaeda and Osama bin Laden’s deputy at the time, had innumerable, regular meetings at the U.S. embassy in Baku, Azerbaijan, with U.S. military and intelligence officials between 1997 and 2001, as part of an operation known as ‘Gladio B’. Al-Zawahiri, she charged, as well as various members of the bin Laden family and other mujahideen, were transported on NATO planes to various parts of Central Asia and the Balkans to participate in Pentagon-backed destabilisation operations.
According to two Sunday Times journalists speaking on condition of anonymity, this and related revelations had… Continue reading
Preface: This is not a partisan post. We have repeatedly documented that Obama is as bad or worse than the Bush administration.
In the run up to the Iraq war – and for several years thereafter – the program of torture carried out by the Bush administration was specifically specifically aimed at establishing a false justification for war. Dick Cheney is the guy who pushed for torture, pressured the Justice Department lawyers to write memos saying torture was legal, and made the pitch to Congress justifying torture. (The former director of the CIA said Cheney oversaw American torture policies).
The type of torture used by the U.S. on the Guantanamo suspects is of a special type. Senator Levin revealed that the the U.S. used Communist torture techniques specifically aimed at creating false confessions (see this, this, this and this).
According to NBC News:
In fact, the 9/11 Commission Report was largely based on third-hand… Continue reading
by Ryan Gallagher
When a former senior White House official describes a nationwide surveillance effort as “breathtaking,” you know civil liberties activists are preparing for a fight.
The Wall Street Journal reported today that the little-known National Counterterrorism Center, based in an unmarked building in McLean, Va., has been granted sweeping new authority to store and monitor massive datasets about innocent Americans.
After internal wrangling over privacy and civil liberties issues, the Justice Department reportedly signed off on controversial new guidelines earlier this year. The guidelines allow the NCTC, for the first time, to keep data about innocent U.S. citizens for up to five years, using “predictive pattern-matching,” to analyze it for suspicious patterns of behavior. The data the counterterrorism center has access to, according to the Journal, includes “entire government databases—flight records, casino-employee lists, the names of Americans hosting foreign-exchange students and many others.”
Notably, the Journal reports that these changes also allow databases about U.S. civilians to be handed over to foreign governments for analysis, presumably so that they too can attempt to determine future criminal actions. The Department of Homeland Security’s former chief privacy officer said that it represents a “sea change in the way that the government interacts with the general public.”
The snooping effort, which officials say is subject to “rigorous oversight,” is reminiscent of the so-called Total Information Awareness initiative, dreamt up in the aftermath of 9/11 by the Pentagon’s research unit DARPA. The aim of the TIA initiative was essentially to create… Continue reading
by Kevin Ryan
In the summer of 2001, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) agent Robert Wright, a counterterrorism expert from the Chicago office, made some startling claims about the Bureau in a written statement outlining the difficulties he had doing his job. Three months before 9/11, he wrote: “The FBI has proven for the past decade it cannot identify and prevent acts of terrorism against the United States and its citizens at home and abroad. Even worse, there is virtually no effort on the part of the FBI’s International Terrorism Unit to neutralize known and suspected terrorists residing within the United States.”
Revelations since 9/11 have confirmed Wright’s claims. FBI management did little or nothing to stop terrorism in the decade before 9/11 and, in some cases, appeared to have supported terrorists. This is more disturbing considering that the power of the FBI over terrorism investigations was supreme. In 1998, the FBI’s strategic plan stated that terrorist activities fell “almost exclusively within the jurisdiction of the FBI” and that “the FBI has no higher priority than to combat terrorism.”
A number of people are suspect in these failures, including the leaders of the FBI’s counterterrorism programs. But at the time of Wright’s written complaint, which was not shared with the public until May 2002, the man most responsible was Louis Freeh, Director of the FBI from 1993 to 2001.
Agent Wright was not FBI leadership’s only detractor, and not the only one to criticize Freeh.…Continue reading
Abu Zubaydah, a man once called al-Qaeda’s “chief of operations” appears to be at the center of an unraveling of the official myth behind al Qaeda. After his capture in early 2002, Zubaydah was the first “detainee” known to be tortured. The information allegedly obtained from his torture played a large part in the creation of the official account of 9/11 and in the justification for the continued use of such torture techniques. Yet in September, 2009, the U.S. government admitted that Zubaydah was never a member or associate of al Qaeda at all. These facts raise an alarming number of questions about the veracity of our knowledge about al Qaeda, and the true identity of the people who are said to be behind the 9/11 attacks.
Unlike other alleged al Qaeda leaders, including Khlaid Sheik Mohammed and Rasmi bin Alshibh, Zubaydah has never been charged with a crime. As these other leading suspects await their continually-postponed military trial, Zubaydah is instead being airbrushed out of history. Why would the U.S. government want us to forget Zubaydah, the first and most important al Qaeda operative captured after 9/11?
The 9/11 Commission called Zubaydah an “Al Qaeda associate,” a “long-time ally of Bin Ladin,” a “Bin Ladin lieutenant,” and an “al Qaeda lieutenant.” The Commission’s claims were somewhat contradictory in that Zubaydah was, in the Commission’s report, represented as both an al Qaeda leader and simply a terrorist colleague who collaborated in the training and recruiting… Continue reading
By Eric Lichtblau
WASHINGTON — For more than a decade, questions have lingered about the possible role of the Saudi government in the attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, even as the royal kingdom has made itself a crucial counterterrorism partner in the eyes of American diplomats.
Now, in sworn statements that seem likely to reignite the debate, two former senators who were privy to top secret information on the Saudis’ activities say they believe that the Saudi government might have played a direct role in the terrorist attacks.
“I am convinced that there was a direct line between at least some of the terrorists who carried out the September 11th attacks and the government of Saudi Arabia,” former Senator Bob Graham, Democrat of Florida, said in an affidavit filed as part of a lawsuit brought against the Saudi government and dozens of institutions in the country by families of Sept. 11 victims and others. Mr. Graham led a joint 2002 Congressional inquiry into the attacks.
His former Senate colleague, Bob Kerrey of Nebraska, a Democrat who served on the separate 9/11 Commission, said in a sworn affidavit of his own in the case that “significant questions remain unanswered” about the role of Saudi institutions. “Evidence relating to the plausible involvement of possible Saudi government agents in the September 11th attacks has never been fully pursued,” Mr. Kerrey said.
Their affidavits, which were filed on Friday and have not previously been disclosed, are part of a multibillion-dollar lawsuit… Continue reading
By Chris Mondics
Inquirer Staff Writer
In a ferocious legal battle pitting government lawyers against victims of the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks, the Justice Department is fighting to block thousands of individuals and businesses from taking $6.6 million in frozen al-Qaeda assets seized from an alleged terrorism financier.
Frozen by the U.S. Treasury Department in 2007, the money is sought by the attorneys for 6,000 individual victims and insurers who suffered billions in losses from the attacks on the World Trade Center.
The money, in a Chicago brokerage account controlled by senior al-Qaeda operative Abu al-Tayyeb until his arrest in Saudi Arabia in 2006, drew little public notice until lawyers for 9/11 victims moved in June to collect on a 2007 default judgment.
A short time later, the Justice Department initiated legal proceedings to claim the money for itself – and keep it out of the hands of the 9/11 victims and insurers.
That triggered a fierce response from the victims’ lawyers, among them the Center City law firm Cozen O’Connor, who accuse the Justice Department of duplicity in seeking to prevent them from getting access to… Continue reading
January 23, 2012
By Agence France-Presse
Monday, January 23, 2012
A former CIA official who publicly confirmed the waterboarding of top Al-Qaeda operative Abu Zubaydah was charged Monday with leaking classified information to journalists, including the identities of two CIA officers.
John Kiriakou, who served with the CIA between 1990 and 2004, was charged with violating a law that makes it illegal to disclose the identity of a covert officer, leaking classified information and lying to a CIA publications review board, the department said.
He faces up to 20 years in prison if convicted on all charges.
“Safeguarding classified information, including the identities of CIA officers involved in sensitive operations, is critical to keeping our intelligence officers safe and protecting our national security,” Attorney General Eric Holder said.
“Today’s charges reinforce the Justice Department’s commitment to hold accountable anyone who would violate the solemn duty not to disclose such sensitive information,” he said in a statement.
Kiriakou first came to public attention in an interview with ABC News in December 2007 in which he became the first US official to describe Abu Zubaydah’s waterboarding, a form of simulated drowning widely viewed as torture.
He acknowledged later in his memoir, however, that he was not present when the interrogation took place.
CIA director David Petraeus said the spy agency had supported the investigation, and reminded CIA employees of their oath to safeguard classified information.
“Given the sensitive nature of many of our agency’s operations and the risks we ask our… Continue reading
Red Dirt Report, editor
OKLAHOMA CITY — Ten years after 9/11 and 16 years after the Oklahoma City bombing, it appears the federal government continues to view some Americans who embrace their First Amendment rights — press and speech, primarily — as a danger to the State, and as a result they are listing certain investigative websites as extremist and a terroristic threat to the “homeland.”
One, labeled as “extremist” and therefore a threat to the U.S. Government, includes a well-known site, once operated by a truth-seeking Oklahoma state legislator, working to expose anomalies related to the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing — OKCbombing.net . A link to the document can be seen here .
This shocking designation is indeed troubling, particularly to the local documentary film production company Free Mind Films , which is also releasing an explosive documentary about the Oklahoma City bombing, A Noble Lie.
OKCbombing.net was formerly operated by State Rep. Charles Key (R-Oklahoma City), as a site to inform the public about reams of information discovered by the Oklahoma Bombing Investigation Committee, much of it originally ignored by the same federal agencies who now list the site as a threat to the homeland. As for Rep. Key, he concluded his role in the OBIC in approximately 2002 and Free Mind Films is now paying for access and domain rights to… Continue reading