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Longwood Gardens. Photo by: joanneleon. July, 2013.

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Longwood Gardens. Photo by: joanneleon. July, 2013.

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Longwood Gardens. Photo by: joanneleon. July, 2013.



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Letter to Obama and Hadi on Yemeni drones

"Our town was no battlefield. We had no warning – our local police were never asked to make any arrest. My young nephew Waleed was a policeman, before the strike cut short his life."
In August 2012 Faisal bin Ali Jabar lost his nephew and brother-in-law in a drone strike in Hadhramout, Yemen.
Jabar's brother-in-law Salem was an imam who spoke out against Al-Qaeda.
Today, the same area has been hit by drones yet again. It is also the day Obama and Yemen's President Hadi meet at the White House to discuss counter-terrorism issues.
Jabar has written a letter addressed to both Presidents, appealing for them to engage with anti-drone sentiment in Yemen.
- See more at: http://www.middleeastmonitor.com/...

NSA Director: Don’t Worry, Trust Us

What interested me most was the attitude. The NSA seems to believe that what Americans are most concerned about is the prospect of some cowboy analyst coloring outside the lines. General Alexander reinforced again and again that the US metadata-collection program has “100% auditability” (though I don’t recall him saying the same about the Section 702 foreign-intercept program) and “Our people have to take courses and pass exams.”

From my notes, which I believe are close to a word-for-word transcription here:

Many of you are saying: ‘I hear what you’re saying but I don’t trust that.’ The Senate Intelligence Committee found no wilful or knowledgeable violations of the law in this program. More specifically, they found no one at NSA had ever gone outside the boundaries of what we’ve been given. What people are saying is, ‘Well, they could.’ The fact is, they don’t. And if they did, our auditing tools would detect them, and they would be held accountable, and they know that from the courses that they take and the pledge that they’ve made … Their intent is to find the terrorist that walks among us.
The idea that anyone might object to the mere existence of massive classified domestic surveillance programs overseen by a one-sided star-chamber court, even if its analysts faithfully follow all the rules that they have been given, almost seems to have passed him by entirely.
The transcript (PDF) of Keith Alexander's speech is now available on the NSA site.  He limited his talk to two programs, the 215 and 702 programs, and while he says he will answer questions, he took no questions from the audience and only answered a set of prepared questions.  There are a lot of pictures of the slides he used scattered about on Twitter and in some of the articles about the speech.  Maybe I'll post those at some point.  As emptywheel notes, there were 27 mentions of terrorism (he begins the speech with info about terrorist attacks over the years) and only one mention of cyberterrorism which he recently said is the greatest threat to America. Plus he's at a hacker conference while giving this speech. So that's odd.
Blackhat Conference Keynote by Gen. Keith Alexander

I also want you to get a sense for the people at the National Security Agency. It has been the greatest honor and privilege of my life to lead these noble folks. They’re the ones – and you’ll get a little bit of sense of what they’ve done for our country over the past eight years while I’ve been there. And their reputation is tarnished because all the facts aren’t on the table, but you can help us articulate the facts properly.

I will answer every question to the fullest extent possible, and I promise you the truth – what we know, what we’re doing and what I cannot tell you because we don’t want to jeopardize our future defense.

What we’re going to do in this briefing is give you the facts on these programs – the
business record, FISA, on FAA 702 – on what we’ve done to stop terrorist attacks, address some of the problems that we see out there with inaccurate statements and talk about where do we go from here

The howling will begin soon.
The Attack in Benghazi: Worth Investigating After All
CNN reports that dozens of CIA agents were on the ground there -- and that they're being pressured to keep quiet. Why?

Suddenly it is imperative that Congress investigate details surrounding the attack that killed Ambassador Chris Stevens. I've never felt that way before. But Drew Griffin's scoop* changed my mind.
[...]
So I did worry about what exactly the CIA was doing in Libya. Eli Lake has done some characteristically great reporting on the subject. And Thursday, Jake Tapper's show* published this (emphasis added):

CNN has uncovered exclusive new information about what is allegedly happening at the CIA, in the wake of the deadly Benghazi terror attack. Four Americans, including Ambassador Christopher Stevens, were killed in the assault by armed militants last September 11 in eastern Libya. Sources now tell CNN dozens of people working for the CIA were on the ground that night, and that the agency is going to great lengths to make sure whatever it was doing, remains a secret. CNN has learned the CIA is involved in what one source calls an unprecedented attempt to keep the spy agency's Benghazi secrets from ever leaking out.

Since January, some CIA operatives involved in the agency's missions in Libya, have been subjected to frequent, even monthly polygraph examinations, according to a source with deep inside knowledge of the agency's workings. The goal of the questioning, according to sources, is to find out if anyone is talking to the media or Congress. It is being described as pure intimidation, with the threat that any unauthorized CIA employee who leaks information could face the end of his or her career. In exclusive communications obtained by CNN, one insider writes, "You don't jeopardize yourself, you jeopardize your family as well." Another says, "You have no idea the amount of pressure being brought to bear on anyone with knowledge of this operation."

Exclusive: Dozens of CIA operatives on the ground during Benghazi attack

Programming note: Was there a political cover up surrounding the Benghazi attack that killed four Americans? Watch a CNN special investigation — The Truth About Benghazi, Tuesday at 10 p.m. ET.

Sources now tell CNN dozens of people working for the CIA were on the ground that night, and that the agency is going to great lengths to make sure whatever it was doing, remains a secret.

CNN has learned the CIA is involved in what one source calls an unprecedented attempt to keep the spy agency's Benghazi secrets from ever leaking out.

Since January, some CIA operatives involved in the agency's missions in Libya, have been subjected to frequent, even monthly polygraph examinations, according to a source with deep inside knowledge of the agency's workings.

The goal of the questioning, according to sources, is to find out if anyone is talking to the media or Congress.

It is being described as pure intimidation, with the threat that any unauthorized CIA employee who leaks information could face the end of his or her career.

In exclusive communications obtained by CNN, one insider writes, "You don't jeopardize yourself, you jeopardize your family as well."

Moon of Alabama thinks it's strange that when the NSA is under such pressure they claim that they have detected the threat that has resulted in issuing a warning on international travel, closing embassies, etc.  Personally, I think that jail breaks in three countries, many of whom were known  Al Qaeda terrorists is probably enough to raise a warning level for our embassies and that only requires following news reports, not any special NSA signal intelligence.  A lot of people are feeling some deja vu from the Bush/Cheney days of raising the terror color code warnings.  Emptywheel recalls last year's warnings and after the fact air marshal ramp up for the Underwear bomber 2.0 (the same one that John Brennan said we had inside control over).  All of it is interesting to watch.  I just hope there are no attacks and that nobody gets hurt.  Those jail breaks are pretty crazy. Where did those newly released terrorists/jihadists go?  Did any end up in Syria?  The NYT article a lot of people are reacting to emphasizes the signal intelligence but the Brits have also closed an embassy, but only one so far, in Yemen. They cite the final days of Ramadan as a concern. Also a speech was posted on a jihadist site by the AQ leader al-Zawahri, which was reported in the news recently.
Crying Wolf, Wolf, Wolf

After weeks  under heavy pressure for limitless spying on people everywhere the U.S. intelligence services conviniently detect a "threat" of some undefined future attacks. The "detection", we are of course told, was only possible because of limitless spying on people everywhere: [...]

Just a month ago we were told that the "terrorists" are changing their communication because of the NSA snooping leaks: [...]

Here is the NYT article that a lot of people are talking about.
Qaeda Messages Prompt U.S. Terror Warning

The intercepts and a subsequent analysis of them by American intelligence agencies prompted the United States to issue an unusual global travel alert to American citizens on Friday, warning of the potential for terrorist attacks by operatives of Al Qaeda and their associates beginning Sunday through the end of August. Intelligence officials said the threat focused on the Qaeda affiliate in Yemen, which has been tied to plots to blow up American-bound cargo and commercial flights.
[...]
It is unusual for the United States to come across discussions among senior Qaeda operatives about operational planning — through informants, intercepted e-mails or eavesdropping on cellphone calls. So when the high-level intercepts were collected and analyzed this week, senior officials at the C.I.A., State Department and White House immediately seized on their significance. Members of Congress have been provided classified briefings on the matter, officials said Friday.

“This was a lot more than the usual chatter,” said one senior American official who had been briefed on the information but would not provide details. Spokesmen for the State Department and the C.I.A. also declined to comment on the intercepts.
[...]
Some analysts and Congressional officials suggested Friday that emphasizing a terrorist threat now was a good way to divert attention from the uproar over the N.S.A.'s data-collection programs, and that if it showed the intercepts had uncovered a possible plot, even better.



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