Photo by: joanneleon. July, 2013.
Photo by: joanneleon. July, 2013.
Photo by: joanneleon. July, 2013.
Grateful Dead - Truckin
News & Opinion
I hadn't thought of it as McCarthyism, but what John Kiriakou is saying here makes a hell of a lot of sense. He is writing from prison. Along those lines, some of his fierce defenders also engage in a modern day form of McCarthyism too, which we see here on a fairly regular basis. They get very angry when called out on it, but it is what it is. I'm glad to see that Kiriakou is writing and that the Guardian is publishing him on their front page. You can't shut the up, Pres. Obama, even if you throw them in prison. The "Obama Seven", a term Kirakou uses, won't be shutting up, just like Ellsberg never shut up for forty years. This piece by Kiriakou is a must read and mr. Kiriakou, more power to you. I hope that we see a lot more commentary from you published on front pages of major media outlets.
Obama's abuse of the Espionage Act is modern-day McCarthyismThis is an amazing coincidence! On the very day that CNN's special report "The Truth About Benghazi" is going to air, some anonymous sources who were "briefed on the investigation" told CNN that the very suspect, Ahmed Abu Khattalah, who Arwa Damon interviewed out in the open at a hotel and who said he had never been questioned by U.S. authorities, has been charged, but the charges are under seal and secret, eleven months after the 9/11/12 attack. Now I wonder if Pres. Obama is going to charge these anonymous leakers with the Espionage Act, because "agencies are prohibited from discussing matters that are under seal." Surely this is somehow aiding the enemy, right? Now this terrorist suspect will probably stop using his iPhone or will otherwise alter his behavior which will make it harder to bring him to justice, right? And the Obama administration would never authorize such an illegal leak just to place themselves in a slightly more favorable political light, would they? Not after he's become the president who used the Espionage Act more than every other president combined. He takes these kinds of disclosures very seriously and has a zero tolerance for such things, and he has told us that he strongly believes in applying the law fairly.
Shame on this president for persecuvting whistleblowers with a legal relic, while administration officials leak with impunity
Two of my espionage charges were the result of a conversation I had with a New York Times reporter about torture. I gave him no classified information – only the business card of a former CIA colleague who had never been undercover. The other espionage charge was for giving the same unclassified business card to a reporter for ABC News. All three espionage charges were eventually dropped.
So, why charge me in the first place?
It was my punishment for blowing the whistle on the CIA's torture program and for confirming to the press, despite government protestations to the contrary, that the US government was, indeed, in the business of torture.
This policy decision smacks of modern-day McCarthyism. Washington has always needed an "ism" to fight against, an idea against which it could rally its citizens like lemmings. First, it was anarchism, then socialism, then communism. Now, it's terrorism. Any whistleblower who goes public in the name of protecting human rights or civil liberties is accused of helping the terrorists.
The administration and its national security sycophants in both parties in Congress argue that governmental actions exposed by the whistleblower are legal. The Justice Department approved the torture, after all, and the US supreme court said that the NSA's eavesdropping program was constitutional. But this is the same Justice Department that harassed, surveilled, wiretapped and threatened Martin Luther King Jr, and that recently allowed weapons to be sold to Mexican drug gangs in the Fast and Furious scandal. Just because they're in power doesn't mean they're right.
First criminal charges filed in Benghazi attack probeMuch as I loathe John King's journalism, I wanted to reiterate the point that was made many times during the Benghazi hearings and via statements. The Pentagon and some D legislators maintain that there were no military forces in the area who could reach the consulate in time. This is in direct conflict with the information that former special ops authors Webb and Murphy are reporting.
With the anniversary of the attack just over a month away, the Justice Department has come under criticism for the lack of public progress in the case.
The initial charges are filed in a complaint in New York, according to the people briefed on the matter.
The Justice Department and the FBI declined to comment. The agencies are prohibited from discussing matters that are under seal.
Khattalah told CNN that he had not been questioned by either Libyan authorities or the FBI.
U.S. law enforcement officials said it's not unusual for the FBI not to seek to interview defendants in a case while they collect other evidence.
John King: Why Benghazi matters
But former Pentagon brass told Congress there was no viable option that night, with then-Defense Secretary Leon Panetta saying the military "should not be a 911 service capable of being on the scene within minutes."
The top Democrat on the House Armed Services Committee, Rep. Adam Smith of Washington, calls Benghazi a tragedy but labels continued GOP questioning a witch hunt.
"The bottom line is there was not a force available that could get there in time," Smith told CNN. "So I don't think these questions need to be asked again."
Update; US officials tell NBC News “just under a hundred” US personnel were flown out of #Yemen today aboard a US Air Force C-17— Richard Engel (@RichardEngel) August 6, 2013
Which is it? State dept sends more employees out of #Yemen on military planes but says not what Pentagon calling an "evacuation" Huh?— Andrea Mitchell (@mitchellreports) August 6, 2013
Emptywheel. "American officials" said that NSA intercepts led to intelligence about senior Al Qaeda operatives planning an attack and the global travel warnings were issued, and someone leaked information about the intelligence to the NYT, McClatchy, WaPo, maybe other media outlets. McClatchy claims that their information came from a Yemeni official and the information was very detailed. Another interesting thing is that Andrea Mitchell has apparently been told not to call this an "evacuation" from Yemen, so somebody is micromanaging every word in the way this is reported, so the political "optics" of it must be very important to the executive branch. I'm surprised that Mitchell sent that out on Twitter. Maybe she hasn't taken to the stenographer role as well as some others at MSNBC.
Was It NSA or a Yemeni “Ally” Leaking the “Clear Orders” from Zawahiri to Wuhayshi?Reading this story just reminds us of how mixed up, muddled up, shook up things are. The only Dem affiliated actor that ends up looking halfway good here is John Brennan. I wonder if he was the "American official" source they referred to in other articles on the subject. He loves to prop himself up in his propagandist role. But the thing that ended up striking me the most was that McClatchy did not draw any parallels between the countries in which AQ affiliates are posing the biggest threat being the same countries in which we are interfering the most.
Remember, Saudis and Yemeni sources have a well-established history of leaking sensitive intelligence about our thwarted plots. But in this case, the original source (to the NYT) seems to be American, with a Yemeni first providing the really remarkable level of detail.
And thus far, no one from the government has called for the NYT, McClatchy, and WaPo sources to be jailed. How … telling.
[...]“The announcement itself may also be designed to interrupt Al Qaeda planning, to put them off stride,” Michael V. Hayden, a former C.I.A. director, said on “Fox News Sunday.” “To put them on the back foot, to let them know that we’re alert and that we’re on at least to a portion of this plotline.”
Global terror alert inconsistent with U.S. portrayal of weakened al QaidaJuan Cole, Buzzfeed style, with a lot more meat. (h/t to suejazz) I'm really glad to see that Cole and others are thinking out loud about the things that don't make sense about what our govt. is telling us, and about the possible and likely reasons why they are collecting all of this, and about how it could easily get out of control and probably already is out of control (not that it couldn't get a lot worse). Finally, we have a major change in the national conversation.
Counterterrorism analysts said Monday that the U.S. government’s global response to a threat emanating from Yemen, home to al Qaida’s most active affiliate, was at odds with how dismissive President Barack Obama was in a speech in May, when he said that “not every collection of thugs that labels themselves as al Qaida will pose a credible threat to the United States.”
On the campaign trail last fall, Obama touted the killing of Osama bin Laden during a covert U.S. raid in 2011 as a sign that, while the U.S. would have to maintain vigilance, “the truth, though, is that al Qaida is much weaker than it was when I came into office.” In his State of the Union address last February, the president called al Qaida “a shadow of its former self” and said the threat posed by its affiliates wouldn’t require large-scale U.S. military deployment.
At the White House on Monday, spokesman Jay Carney repeated that distinction, distancing the administration from some of the rosier language of the recent past. He insisted that the administration had made clear that al Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula was “of particular concern and has demonstrated both an interest in and a willingness to attempt serious attacks.”
Jones advised Congress that “U.S. policymakers should view the al Qaida threat as a decades-long struggle, like the Cold War.”
Top Ten Things that don’t Make Sense about NSA Surveillance, Drones and al-Qaeda
All these stories about the government’s quest for Total Information Awareness about the phone calls, email, internet searches, etc. of 312 million ordinary Americans raise some questions in my mind. There are so many things about these stories that don’t make sense.
1. The government says that they need everyone’s phone records because they want to see who calls known overseas terrorists from the US. But if the NSA had a telephone number of a terrorist abroad and wanted to see if it was called from the US, why couldn’t it just ask the telephone company for the record of everyone who called it? It isn’t true that it would take too much time. It would be instant. Obviously, the government wants the telephone records of millions of Americans for some other reason.
2. If the real reason they are getting our phone records from the phone companies is to check for drug sales and other petty crime inside the US not related to terrorism, and if they are lying to judges about how they initially came to know of these crimes, aren’t the NSA, DEA and other government officials violating the Constitutional guarantee of due process? Are they focusing on drug buys because law enforcement can confiscate the property of drug dealers, whereas busting other kinds of crime actually costs time and money? And, hasn’t their dishonesty and its revelation just put in danger thousands of drug convictions?
Greenwald says he's unhinged. I can't help but think "General Strangelove" when I see Hayden or Alexander. And both of them always seem so calm. Anyway, they're also both quite distracted by the hacker community, whom Alexander has been courting and recruiting at hacker conventions, and whom the U.S. govt has been paying large amounts of money for zero day exploits, convincing them to turn them over to the Cyber Command when they find security holes, instead of turning them over to Microsoft or other software companies so they can fix them and send out a security update for all the millions of people at risk.
According to some articles I've read (and posted here) our government is now the biggest buyer on the black market for hacking exploits, making everyone less safe. Anyway, this article shows that Hayden (and maybe Alexander too, hard to know how much he cavorts with his predecessor) are pretty paranoid about hackers, Anonymous, and any geeks who don't conform and who value things like the Bill of Rights (not saying that all of them do, mind you) and more universal values of rights like fairness and privacy, while at the same time pretending to respect them when giving keynote speeches and recruiting them. Meanwhile General Strangelove is now a private intelligence/security contractor executive with his partner Skeletor Cherkoff, who did such a great job keeping NOLA safe, and both of them are getting filthy with the other war and intel profiteers. Anyway, cybersecurity is their next (current actually) big pot of govt. contracting gold. And remember, NSA itself(partnered w/ counterparts in Israel) created the most dangerous piece of cyberterrorism malware that we know of, Stuxnet, which messes with the tiny computers that control equipment in nuclear facilities.
We weren't supposed to know that our own government created this and fired the most deadly shot in a global cyberwar though. Somebody leaked that information and Pres. Obama has told the world that somebody is going to pay for it. At the moment it looks like that someone is a member of the military brass, Gen. Cartwright. How dare he expose the fact that we've created our own enemy in the biggest, baddest and perhaps most profitable war activity yet and that we (and/or someone in Israel) either inadvertently or purposely unleashed it across the world when it was never supposed to leave that facility in Iran, but now it's in the hands of every malicious hacking organization on the planet and presents dangers to our own nuclear facilities, power plants, perhaps manufacturing plants and FSM only knows what else? Well, I digress... here's the article about Hayden's latest (a guy who is retired from US govt and was never elected to anything, mind you, and whose law breaking complicity was exposed by Snowden's leaked inspector general report, mind you, while he now calls for Snowden's head every other day on TV). If Snowden was brought to trial, it would be a notorious trial, no doubt, and details like the ones in the IG report would be exposed in detail by the defense, wouldn't they? Those details wouldn't just be buried in a WaPo article, among many others and in a sea of other information. The incident where Bush admin. officials threatened to resign while Hayden agreed to continue the illegal surveillance when Pres. Bush requested it of him would get a lot of attention if there was a big civilian Snowden trial that might even be televised. I suspect that wouldn't be good for General Strangelove who very much wants to continue to earn mega $$$ with the massive cyberwar business he helped to create, and wants to continue being consulted and interviewed by cable news channels every other day. Watch how he cleverly turns this around into fearmongering, and navigates the twisty situation of implying that people like him keep the govt networks ("dot mil") safe (and therefore deserve the millions, billions they probably charge) and yet other civilian facilities are at great risk from hackers who would be angry if Snowden was apprehended).
Former NSA chief warns of cyber-terror attacks if Snowden apprehended
Michael Hayden, who also headed the CIA, speculates on global hacker response if Edward Snowden brought back to US
"If and when our government grabs Edward Snowden, and brings him back here to the United States for trial, what does this group do?" said retired air force general Michael Hayden, who from 1999 to 2009 ran the NSA and then the CIA, referring to "nihilists, anarchists, activists, Lulzsec, Anonymous, twentysomethings who haven't talked to the opposite sex in five or six years".
"They may want to come after the US government, but frankly, you know, the dot-mil stuff is about the hardest target in the United States," Hayden said, using a shorthand for US military networks. "So if they can't create great harm to dot-mil, who are they going after? Who for them are the World Trade Centers? The World Trade Centers, as they were for al-Qaida."
Hayden provided his speculation during a speech on cybersecurity to a Washington group, the Bipartisan Policy Center, in which he confessed to being deliberately provocative.
"But certainly Mr Snowden has created quite a stir among those folks who are very committed to transparency and global transparency and the global web, kind of ungoverned and free. [...]
US should leave Edward Snowden aloneReturning to the ways of the Great Depression? Oh, that's right, the economy has been steadily improving and the stock market is at record highs. This Pew research study must be wrong.
More than 150 civil society organisations from around the globe are asking President Barack Obama to end the prosecution of Edward Snowden (Activists stage second national day of protest against NSA's domestic spying, 4 August).
Human rights, digital rights and media freedom campaigners from the UK to Uruguay and from the US to Uganda have joined together to call on the US administration to acknowledge Snowden as a whistleblower. All of us ask that he is protected and not persecuted.
A Rising Share of Young Adults Live in Their Parents’ HomeI've got a lot more about Yemen in the Twitter section below, but here is an interview with an expert on the subject.
A Record 21.6 Million In 2012
In 2012, 36% of the nation’s young adults ages 18 to 31—the so-called Millennial generation—were living in their parents’ home, according to a new Pew Research Center analysis of U.S. Census Bureau data. This is the highest share in at least four decades and represents a slow but steady increase over the 32% of their same-aged counterparts who were living at home prior to the Great Recession in 2007 and the 34% doing so when it officially ended in 2009.
Yemen Scholar Says U.S. Drone Strikes May Have Driven al-Qaida Membership
For more on the threat posed by Al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula, Gregory Johnsen from Princeton University, a former Fulbright scholar in Yemen, joins Margaret Warner to discuss U.S.-Yemeni government relations and possible unintended consequences of drone strikes in that country.
Children given lifelong ban on talking about fracking
Two Pennsylvanian children will live their lives under a gag order imposed under a $750,000 settlement
Two young children in Pennsylvania were banned from talking about fracking for the rest of their lives under a gag order imposed under a settlement reached by their parents with a leading oil and gas company.
The sweeping gag order was imposed under a $750,000 settlement between the Hallowich family and Range Resources Corp, a leading oil and gas driller. It provoked outrage on Monday among environmental campaigners and free speech advocates.
Drought-Stricken New Mexico Farmers Drain Aquifer To Sell Water For Fracking
The bad news is that the terrible drought in New Mexico has led some farmers to sell their water to the oil and gas industry. The worse news is that many of them are actually pumping the water out of the aquifer to do so.
The worst news of all is that once the frackers get through tainting it with their witches’ brew of chemicals, that water often becomes unrecoverable — and then we have the possibility the used fracking water will end up contaminating even more of the groundwater.
Exclusive: Censored EPA PA Fracking Water Contamination Presentation Published for First Time
DeSmogBlog has obtained a copy of an Obama Administration Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) fracking groundwater contamination PowerPoint presentation describing a then-forthcoming study's findings in Dimock, Pennsylvania.
The PowerPoint presentation reveals a clear link between hydraulic fracturing ("fracking") for shale gas in Dimock and groundwater contamination, but was censored by the Obama Administration. Instead, the EPA issued an official desk statement in July 2012 - in the thick of election year - saying the water in Dimock was safe for consumption.
Nuclear plant spills radiation into Lake Michigan
Last summer, a leaky tank led to the shutdown of the Palisades nuclear power plant in Michigan. So plant owner Entergy patched up the leak, fired back up the reactor, and hoped for the best.
Unfortunately, the best did not materialize.
The tank began leaking again. But no worries, thought the Einsteins at Entergy, it was only leaking a gallon a day. That was OK, they figured, because the NRC had allowed it to leak up to 38 gallons a day. As of Friday, they were still doing that whole “hoping for the best” thing.
But on Saturday the leaky drip turned into a gush, and all the hoping in the world couldn’t hold back the tide of spilling radioactive water. Nearly 80 gallons of water containing small amounts of radioactive tritium and possibly trace amounts of cobalt and cesium spewed into Lake Michigan, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission told the AP.
Blog Posts and Tweets of Interest
Did Michael Hayden explain who decided encrypting comms makes one terrorist? Did he explain why niftyness failed to find Abuldmutalllab?— emptywheel (@emptywheel) August 7, 2013
Unknown what al Qaeda may target but US has decided to escalate drone strikes on anyone looking like militant http://t.co/...— Kevin Gosztola (@kgosztola) August 7, 2013
Fuck this. I advise all Yemenis to leave Yemen immediately. | Australians urged to leave Yemen immediately. AQ fears. http://t.co/...— Haykal Bafana (@BaFana3) August 7, 2013
@BaFana3 South Koreans as well...— Tik Root (@TikRoot) August 7, 2013
Et tu, Ireland? | Irish citizens told to flee Yemen in terrorism alert. http://t.co/...— Haykal Bafana (@BaFana3) August 7, 2013
#Yemen Intel for Dummies : Army chiefs get big money for oil contracts. Tribes fight for cut. Intel fed to US by army chief. Tribe droned.— Haykal Bafana (@BaFana3) August 7, 2013
Yemen has just received its Eid present from the US. Fifth in two weeks actually. How generous. #Drones— Sana2 Al-Yemen (@Sanasiino) August 7, 2013
US Evacuation From Yemen May Indicate Intensification of Drone Attacks - August 6, 2013 Yemen drone strike... http://t.co/...— Matthew Aid (@matthewaid) August 7, 2013
More than five hours of constant buzzzzzzzzzzing in Sana'a. #Yemen— Iona Craig ايونـا (@ionacraig) August 7, 2013
This isn't snarky, or isn't meant to be. Did Snowden's leaks cause al-Qaeda to change how it communicates or not?— GregorydJohnsen (@gregorydjohnsen) August 7, 2013
Obama to call for permanent but limited federal mortgage market backstop in place of Fannie, Freddie http://t.co/...— Nick Timiraos (@NickTimiraos) August 6, 2013
The White House fact sheet for tmw's housing speech refers TEN TIMES to "responsible" borrowers, families, etc. No moral hazard here!— Jed Kolko (@JedKolko) August 6, 2013
Zelman: Housing-related jobs were responsible for 80% of job losses from 2006-10 but only 6% of growth since then. Big acceleration ahead.— Nick Timiraos (@NickTimiraos) August 6, 2013
At the same moment Obama delivered his speech calling on lenders to ease credit access, the DOJ sued BofA over 2008 mortgage securities.— Nick Timiraos (@NickTimiraos) August 6, 2013
Judging from press releases, the liberal/progressive affordable housing groups are the most upset with Obama's housing speech today.— Nick Timiraos (@NickTimiraos) August 6, 2013
Hedge fund Magnetar won't face charges tied to mortgages http://t.co/...— Nick Timiraos (@NickTimiraos) August 7, 2013
Summary of Sen Graham's talk in Egypt: "You think it's bad in Egypt, you should see the mess we've made in America." http://t.co/...— Col. Morris Davis (@ColMorrisDavis) August 7, 2013
There are TWENTY-FIVE participants in this conference call. -- 25?? Heyyy, is that you NSA? -- Not us! -- Oh, phew. http://t.co/...— Julian Sanchez (@normative) August 7, 2013
Michael Hayden (former CIA/NSA Dir) of @ChertoffGroup fear-mongering is like pharma rep fanning epidemic fears/peddling vaccine: Cha-Ching!— Col. Morris Davis (@ColMorrisDavis) August 7, 2013
Grateful Dead - Operator