Dr. Sandra Nunn, Former Federal Agent
and National Security Whistleblower
Dr. Sandra Nunn, Former Federal Agent
There has been a lot of talk, now that the elections are over and the legislature has fallen into the hands of Republicans about what this will mean for President Obama's agenda and the Democratic agenda generally. This election season my inbox was full of Democratic politicians begging for money to foreclose the possibility of voters choosing the wrong party at the polls, yours probably was, too.
A persistent theme in these begging emails that I was getting was that the (evil) obstructionist Republicans have gummed up our system of government and the Democrats (the good guys) can't get anything done in order to enact Obama's agenda.
Looking at the accomplishments of Obama and the governing elites, this narrative, of course, is utter rubbish. The government is working. Obama and the Republicans have been cooperating all along. Great bipartisan advances and accomplishments are indeed being made.
So, what can we expect of this new aggregation of powers? Probably more of what it created before. Hence, let us review the accomplishments that these allegedly competing forces have created together...
Some may dispute that fact, but the reality is that we cannot trust the Democratic Party, especially the leaders in D.C., to do the messaging right. They're not there on addressing messaging around these big ticket items that surely will be on people's minds going into 2016:
- Student loan debt
- Lack of wage parity
- Maternity leave
- Family-friendly policies
- The environment
- Wall Street accountability
Apparently, today is “the day” where, once and for all, the public becomes privy to the greater facts about U.S. government double-speak concerning corporate “personhood” and we’re informed, as a country, that—a topic about which many have written for many centuries—our government’s ongoing war-planning efforts are primarily focused upon supporting the welfare and blatantly enriching the bottom lines of America’s largest corporations. Period.
Based upon articles published by Marcy Wheeler (with a big assist from Kossack joanneleon) and Glenn Greenwald over the past few hours, it would appear that our country’s military-industrial-surveillance complex has abandoned all moral pretenses when it comes to legitimizing why it must plan for war.
Finally, the truth goes mainstream––well, at least in the blogosphere…
The Intercept article references a document obtained by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden: a "secret 2009 report issued by Clapper’s own office," titled "2009 Quadrennial Intelligence Community Review," which "explicitly contemplates doing exactly that." Described by reporter Glenn Greenwald as a "fascinating window into the mindset of America’s spies as they identify future threats to the U.S. and lay out the actions the U.S. intelligence community should take in response. It anticipates a series of potential scenarios the U.S. may face in 2025, from a 'China/Russia/India/Iran centered bloc [that] challenges U.S. supremacy' to a world in which 'identity-based groups supplant nation-states,' and games out how the U.S. intelligence community should operate in those alternative futures—the idea being to assess 'the most challenging issues [the U.S.] could face beyond the standard planning cycle.'"
The U.S. Government’s Secret Plans to Spy
for American Corporations
By Glenn Greenwald
09/05/2014 6:47 AM
Throughout the last year, the U.S. government has repeatedly insisted that it does not engage in economic and industrial espionage, in an effort to distinguish its own spying from China’s infiltrations of Google, Nortel, and other corporate targets. So critical is this denial to the U.S. government that last August, an NSA spokesperson emailed The Washington Post to say (emphasis in original): “The department does **not** engage in economic espionage in any domain, including cyber.”
After that categorical statement to the Post, the NSA was caught spying on plainly financial targets such as the Brazilian oil giant Petrobras; economic summits; international credit card and banking systems; the EU antitrust commissioner investigating Google, Microsoft, and Intel; and the International Monetary Fund and World Bank. In response, the U.S. modified its denial to acknowledge that it does engage in economic spying, but unlike China, the spying is never done to benefit American corporations.
Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, for instance, responded to the Petrobras revelations by claiming: “It is not a secret that the Intelligence Community collects information about economic and financial matters…. What we do not do, as we have said many times, is use our foreign intelligence capabilities to steal the trade secrets of foreign companies on behalf of—or give intelligence we collect to—U.S. companies to enhance their international competitiveness or increase their bottom line...”
...One of the principal threats raised in the report is a scenario “in which the United States’ technological and innovative edge slips”— in particular, “that the technological capacity of foreign multinational corporations could outstrip that of U.S. corporations.” Such a development, the report says “could put the United States at a growing—and potentially permanent—disadvantage in crucial areas such as energy, nanotechnology, medicine, and information technology.”
How could U.S. intelligence agencies solve that problem? The report recommends “a multi-pronged, systematic effort to gather open source and proprietary information through overt means, clandestine penetration (through physical and cyber means), and counterintelligence” (emphasis added). In particular, the DNI’s report envisions “cyber operations” to penetrate “covert centers of innovation” such as R&D facilities…
Excerpt from secret 2009 report issued by Office of Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) James Clapper, titled "2009 Quadrennial Intelligence Community Review," that "...envisions 'cyber operations' to penetrate 'covert centers of innovation' such as R&D facilities..." (CREDIT: Office of the Director of National Intelligence via The Intercept, 9-5-14).
But, today's news doesn't stop there. In fact, as Marcy Wheeler notes below the orange squiggly, it's morphed into something that's even more surreal...
Al Gore at Southland, earlier today...
News for the reality-based crowd, today—which is also the first anniversary of the Edward Snowden NSA document leaks--from over at the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (SSCI) hearing on S. 1599/H.R. 3361, a/k/a “The USA Freedom Act,” compliments of author, journalist and blogger Marcy Wheeler…
Mark Warner Confirms USA Freedumber Expands Surveillance
Published June 5, 2014 | By emptywheel
…Warner (who used to be a telecom mogul) got the government witnesses to concede to two key points.
First, Warner noted that under the new scheme, every telecom would be subject to government requests. As a result, he said, “On factual basis, the number of calls scrutinized universe will be exponentially larger.” Deputy Attorney General James Cole at first tried to prevaricate. But then admitted that more records would be exposed.
Then, Warner noted that telecoms have to keep cell location, and that the current Section 215 program does not obtain cell location. He asked if the NSA could use or obtain cell location going forward. Cole did not deny that; he admitted that sometimes it is very helpful.
Thanks to Mark Warner for getting these two details on the record, as I have been arguing both were true, but now can confirm they are.
The following post from journalist Trevor Timm, in his role as a Board Member of the Freedom of the Press Foundation, is covered under the Creative Commons 4.0 International License.
Fact-Checking Hillary Clinton's Comments About Edward Snowden and the NSA
By Trevor Timm
Freedom of the Press Foundation
April 28, 2014
Hillary Clinton made her first extended public remarks about Edward Snowden late last week, and unfortunately she misstated some basic facts about the NSA whistleblower and how events have played out in the last year. Here’s a breakdown of what she said and where she went wrong:
Clinton: "If he were concerned and wanted to be part of the American debate, he could have been… I don't understand why he couldn't have been part of the debate at home."
This is one of the biggest misconceptions about Snowden that even NSA reform advocates have furthered. Edward Snowden could not be part of this debate at home, period.
First, as Pentagon Papers whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg explained in the Washington Post, Snowden would likely be in a maximum security prison right now if he remained in the United States, unable to speak to the media. Second and more importantly, Snowden would likely be barred from making any of arguments claiming he was a whistleblower during his trial, since the government is charging him under the draconian Espionage Act of 1917. As we have pointed out repeatedly, lower court rulings in other cases against leakers have prevented defendants from telling a jury about their intent to inform the American public, the lack of harm their leaks caused, and the benefits to society. The government even tried to bar NSA whistleblower Thomas Drake from mentioning the words “whistleblower” or “First Amendment” during his trial.
Simply put, it would be impossible for Edward Snowden to participate in an informed debate in the public or the courtroom if he was in the United States.
When launched there were many concerns about the administrations 'insider threat program'. Not only was it overly intrusive into the lives of government workers, it fostered a climate of paranoia:
Even before a former U.S. intelligence contractor exposed the secret collection of Americans’ phone records, the Obama administration was pressing a government-wide crackdown on security threats that requires federal employees to keep closer tabs on their co-workers and exhorts managers to punish those who fail to report their suspicions.
President Barack Obama’s unprecedented initiative, known as the Insider Threat Program, is sweeping in its reach. It has received scant public attention even though it extends beyond the U.S. national security bureaucracies to most federal departments and agencies nationwide, including the Peace Corps, the Social Security Administration and the Education and Agriculture departments. It emphasizes leaks of classified material, but catchall definitions of “insider threat” give agencies latitude to pursue and penalize a range of other conduct.
Some non-intelligence agencies already are urging employees to watch their co-workers for “indicators” that include stress, divorce and financial problems.
Edward Snowden provided more than a half-hour’s worth of truly stunning testimony to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE), in Strasbourg, France on Tuesday, only a few details of which made it through to the general public via the mainstream media; and, then only via a handful of media outlets, most of which are not even based in the United States.
What was widely reported from the event were the many statements made by Snowden regarding how the National Security Agency has been spying—and continues to do so--upon human rights groups, throughout the world, including right here at home.
More about those aspects of Snowden’s statements on Tuesday, plus significant and (and, yes, I'm going to use the word again) stunning info about what was not widely reported (from TechDirt's Mike Masnick, the Guardian's Luke Harding, Marcy Wheeler and yours truly) farther below the complete, 35-minute video of Snowden’s testimony, via RT.com and YouTube (many copies of this have appeared online in the past 12+ hours), that is available immediately below…
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Kossack Mark Lippman notes in the comments that the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) has posted their own video of Ed Snowden's commentary (it's not provided in a format which may be embedded in this post) at their meeting on Tuesday, and it's available via this link: http://clients.dbee.com/...
As Mark notes, the video is more than twice as long (1:18:00) as the YouTube video I've posted here, and that's because, "There's more content after the point where the RT.com version ends. What comes next is a few Parliament members speaking and there's some Q&A for Snowden that goes on till the end." So, just click on the link at the end of the preceding paragraph, and you'll be enabled to view the entire PACE program.
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Some news stories speak for themselves…
Is whistleblower advocate for nation’s spies under attack?
By Marisa Taylor
McClatchy Washington Bureau
April 2, 2014
WASHINGTON — The Pentagon’s inspector general is trying to suspend and possibly revoke the top secret access of the Defense Department’s former director of whistleblowing, triggering concerns in Congress that he’s being retaliated against for doing his job.
If the recommendation is acted on, Daniel Meyer would no longer be able to work in his current job as the executive director for intelligence community whistleblowing at a time when President Barack Obama’s reforms of the system are supposed to be underway.
The controversy over Meyer’s fate comes at an awkward moment for the Obama administration. Meyer, the Pentagon inspector general’s whistleblower advocate until last summer, was well-known for aggressively investigating whistleblower allegations. In his current job, he was supposed to have a key role in the president’s initiative to improve the intelligence whistleblowing system…
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If spring has not quite asserted herself in your region, please take the next few weeks to continue thawing and to closely consider both the implications of North Carolina's audacious set-back to government transparency as well as NFOJA's efforts to end state judicial self-policing, beginning with its 2012 post titled, "The Time is Now -- Become a NFOJA Ambassador!"