[In an amazing admission, an NSA official proclaims the government attitude that the people have no right to telephone or internet privacy: Because it’s just the same as the common (though now challenged, in name) police “stop and frisk” policy and practice. — Frontlines ed.]
NSA official cites ‘stop and frisk’ in effort to explain searches of phone records
November 4, 2013, McClatchy DC
WASHINGTON — The general counsel of the National Security Agency on Monday compared the agency’s telephone metadata collection program to the highly controversial “stop-and-frisk” practice used by law enforcement officers, saying the agency uses that same standard to choose which phone numbers to query in its database.
“It’s effectively the same standard as stop-and-frisk,” Rajesh De said in an attempt to explain the evidentiary use of “reasonable and articulable suspicion” to identify which phone numbers to target from the agency’s huge database of stored cellphone records. Continue reading
WASHINGTON (The Borowitz Report) — Responding to the firestorm of controversy over its spying on European allies, the head of the National Security Agency said today it would do everything in its power to avoid being caught doing it in the future.
“There are two important jobs for every spy agency: spying on people and avoiding detection,” said the N.S.A. chief General Keith Alexander. “Unfortunately, at the N.S.A. we have only done the first job well.”
“We have abused the trust of some of our closest allies,” he said. “And none of this would have happened if they hadn’t found out.” Continue reading
August 21, 2013 – Today, in response to the sentencing of Pfc. Bradley Manning, the Center for Constitutional Rights issued the following statement.
We are outraged that a whistleblower and a patriot has been sentenced on a conviction under the Espionage Act. The government has stretched this archaic and discredited law to send an unmistakable warning to potential whistleblowers and journalists willing to publish their information. We can only hope that Manning’s courage will continue to inspire others who witness state crimes to speak up. Continue reading
by Bradley Manning
August 21, 2013
The following is a transcript of the statement made by Pfc. Bradley Manning as read by David Coombs at a press conference on Wednesday after Manning was sentenced to 35 years in prison.
The decisions that I made in 2010 were made out of a concern for my country and the world that we live in. Since the tragic events of 9/11, our country has been at war. We’ve been at war with an enemy that chooses not to meet us on any traditional battlefield, and due to this fact we’ve had to alter our methods of combating the risks posed to us and our way of life.
I initially agreed with these methods and chose to volunteer to help defend my country. It was not until I was in Iraq and reading secret military reports on a daily basis that I started to question the morality of what we were doing. It was at this time I realized in our efforts to meet this risk posed to us by the enemy, we have forgotten our humanity. We consciously elected to devalue human life both in Iraq and Afghanistan. When we engaged those that we perceived were the enemy, we sometimes killed innocent civilians. Whenever we killed innocent civilians, instead of accepting responsibility for our conduct, we elected to hide behind the veil of national security and classified information in order to avoid any public accountability Continue reading
Summary by The Guardian, August 21, 2013
A quick summary of where things stand:
• A court-martial sentenced Pfc. Bradley Manning to 35 years in prison for leaking government secrets. Manning is to be dishonorably discharged. He loses all pay. He is convicted of six Espionage Act violations. The sentence is expected to be appealed.
• Manning, 25, is eligible for parole. He must first serve at least a third of his sentence. He has more than three years’ time served and has been credited 112 days for his “inhuman” treatment in a Quantico brig in 2010-11. In a best-case scenario for Manning, he might be released before he turned 35.
• Judge Denise Lind announced the sentence in a hearing that lasted about two minutes. Manning had no visible reaction to the verdict. There were gasps from the crowd. As Manning was led out, supporters shouted “we’ll keep fighting for you, Bradley,” and “you’re our hero.”
• The ACLU, Amnesty International and other rights advocates and Manning supporters decried the verdict. It is unjust for Manning to spend decades in prison when the perpetrators of the wartime atrocities he exposed go free, Manning supporters argue.
It’s “seriously wrong” for a soldier who shared information with the public to be punished “far more harshly than others who tortured prisoners and killed civilians,” the ACLU says in a statement on the Manning sentence:
A legal system that doesn’t distinguish between leaks to the press in the public interest and treason against the nation will not only produce unjust results, but will deprive the public of critical information that is necessary for democratic accountability. This is a sad day for Bradley Manning, but it’s also a sad day for all Americans who depend on brave whistleblowers and a free press for a fully informed public debate.
MANILA – The Philippines and the United States on Wednesday opened talks on increased American military presence, amid protests by leftist groups warning against foreign interference.
Filipino activists hold up placards as they stage a lie-in before a police line during a protest against a meeting between Philippine and US officials in Manila on Wednesday. The protesters were opposing the talks over an increase in US military troops in the country. (AFP photo)
Activists picketed the principal military base in Manila, where the first round of negotiations on a “framework on increased rotational presence” was being held.
The demonstrators denounced the talks and called on the Philippine government not to give the US military more access to the country, which shut down American air and naval bases more than two decades ago. Continue reading
[In the last few weeks, massive sentiment has grown -=- in the US and worldwide — against the US government suppression of whistleblowers who are exposing US war crimes. The hounding and stalking and threats on refugee/expatriat NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, and the conviction of US Army war-crimes-whistleblower Bradley Manning, have been condemned and denounced by millions, throwing the credibility of the US’s repressive machinery into major crisis, even among its allies.
In this context, the US empire has a dire necessity to reassert its authority and credibility for ongoing and new imperialist aggressions under the banner of the “war on terror” — to justify further consolidation of their police state. So the appearance — the claim — that serious attacks are imminent, by al Qaeda or someone, requiring the closure of US diplomatic, military, and CIA offices throughout north Africa and the Middle East, is very questionable by nature of its timing re the Snowden and Manning suppression-moves.
Of course, some violent attack on the US may or may not happen in coming days–we have no way of knowing nor predicting. But we urge all democratic, anti-imperialist people to watch very carefully. If no attack occurs, it may show that the claim of a serious threat was empty or false. If an attack does occur, on one level or another, then one must ask if al Qaeda (or others of similar thought and practice) have provided a gift to US repressive forces once again. And, given the history of covert and “false-flag” operations by the CIA and their closest partner Israel/Mossad, the theatrical production of an attack for repressive-justification must also be closely considered. The bourgeois media won’t look into such possibilities, for obvious reasons.
Here below, the New York Times gives its report on this government-declared threat.
In this situation, things may not be what they seem, not by a long shot. In coming days, keep an eye on new government moves to deny privacy rights, human rights, and to suppress whistleblowers’ exposures and investigative journalism. — Frontlines ed.]
New York Times: “Terror Threat Prompts U.S. to Close Diplomatic Missions”
By MARK MAZZETTI, New York Times, August 1, 2013
A terrorism threat has prompted the United States to close dozens of American diplomatic missions in the Middle East, North Africa and elsewhere through the weekend, American officials said Thursday. Continue reading
“Obama has no sympathy, however, for political prisoners of any race in his own country.”
President Barack Obama, a man of infinite cynicism, made a great show of going on pilgrimage to Nelson Mandela’s old prison cell on Robben Island, where the future first Black president of South Africa spent 18 of his 27 years of incarceration. With his wife and daughters in tow, Obama said he was “humbled to stand where men of such courage faced down injustice and refused to yield…. No shackles or cells can match the strength of the human spirit,” said the chief executive of the unchallenged superpower of mass incarceration, a nation whose population comprises only 5 percent of humanity, but is home to fully one-quarter of the Earth’s prison inmates.
True sociopaths, like the commander-in-chief who updates his Kill List every Tuesday, have no sense of shame, much less irony. Obama feigns awe at Mandela’s suffering and sacrifice in the prisons of apartheid South Africa, yet presides over a regime that, on any given day, holds 80,000 inmates in the excruciating torture of solitary confinement. During Nelson Mandela’s nearly three decades of imprisonment by the white regime, he spent a total of only about one week in solitary confinement. The rest of the time, despite often harsh treatment, backbreaking labor, and unhealthy conditions, Mandela and other political prisoners at Robben Island and other South African jails were typically housed together. Indeed, Mandela and his incarcerated comrades called the prisons their “university,” where they taught each other to become the future authorities over their jailers. Continue reading
[Yet another example of the US’ arrogance of empire, this time among fellow imperialists. Who can doubt that the world political crisis is opening new cracks of suspicion and resentment against the has-been Godfather, among his partners in crime? — Frontlines ed.]
Berlin accuses Washington of cold war tactics over snooping
Reports of NSA snooping on Europe go well beyond previous revelations of electronic spying
Ian Traynor, The Guardian, in Brussels, 30 June 2013
Transatlantic relations plunged at the weekend as Berlin, Brussels and Paris all demanded that Washington account promptly and fully for new disclosures on the scale of the US National Security Agency’s spying on its European allies.
As further details emerged of the huge reach of US electronic snooping on Europe, Berlin accused Washington of treating it like the Soviet Union, “like a cold war enemy”.
The European commission called on the US to clarify allegations that the NSA, operating from Nato headquarters a few miles away in Brussels, had infiltrated secure telephone and computer networks at the venue for EU summits in the Belgian capital. The fresh revelations in the Guardian and allegations in the German publication Der Spiegel triggered outrage in Germany and in the European parliament and threatened to overshadow negotiations on an ambitious transatlantic free-trade pact worth hundreds of billions due to open next week.
The reports of NSA snooping on Europe – and on Germany in particular – went well beyond previous revelations of electronic spying said to be focused on identifying suspected terrorists, extremists and organised criminals.
Der Spiegel reported that it had seen documents and slides from the NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden indicating that US agencies bugged the offices of the EU in Washington and at the UN in New York. They are also accused of directing an operation from Nato headquarters in Brussels to infiltrate the telephone and email networks at the EU’s Justus Lipsius building in the Belgian capital, the venue for EU summits and home of the European council.
Citing documents it said it had “partly seen”, the magazine reported that more than five years ago security officers at the EU had noticed several missed calls apparently targeting the remote maintenance system in the building that were traced to NSA offices within the Nato compound in Brussels. Continue reading
Protesters greet Obama, June 28, 2013.
By Patrick Bond, Durban
July 1, 2013 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal – US President Barack Barack Obama’s weekend trip to South Africa may have the desired effect of slowing the geopolitical realignment of Pretoria to the Brazil-India-Russia-China-South Africa (BRICS) axis. That shift to BRICS has not, however, meant deviation from the hosts’ political philosophy, best understood as “talk left, walk right” since it mixes anti-imperialist rhetoric with pro-corporate policies.
Overshadowed by Nelson Mandela’s critically ill health, Obama’s implicit denial of a US imperial agenda could not disguise Washington’s economic paranoia. As expressed on June 25 by White House deputy national security adviser Ben Rhodes, “What we hear from our businesses is that they want to get in the game in Africa. There are other countries getting in the game in Africa – China, Brazil, Turkey. And if the US is not leading in Africa, we’re going to fall behind in a very important region of the world.”
Over a century earlier, another Rhodes – Cecil John – explained that very game: “We must find new lands from which we can easily obtain raw materials and at the same time exploit the cheap slave labour that is available from the natives of the colonies. The colonies would also provide a dumping ground for the surplus goods produced in our factories.” Although there is no longer formal slave labour within formal colonies, this sentiment readily links the neoliberal agenda of both the BRICS and the US.
Perhaps embarrassed, Obama himself retracted Ben Rhodes’ confession of inter-imperial rivalry when asked by the White House press corps: “I want everybody playing in Africa. The more the merrier. A lot of people are pleased that China is involved in Africa.”
This must have raised cynical eyebrows, because he added, “China’s primary interest is being able to obtain access for natural resources in Africa to feed the manufacturers in export-driven policies of the Chinese economy.” Continue reading
Newsletter from the Political Information Bureau, pcr-rcp of canada (June 29, 2013)
Support the People’s War in India, Oppose Operation Green Hunt!
– From the Partisan No. 40
The International Committee to Support the People’s War in India has called for July 1st to be an international day of solidarity with the comrades of the Communist Party of India (Maoist). The comrades of the Communist Party of India (Maoist) are waging a heroic struggle against the Indian government, the feudal landlords, the Indian and multinational corporations for the socio-economic and political equality of all the peoples of India. These multinational corporations increasingly include amongst their roster Canadian companies.
In response to this heroic struggle the Indian government and its armed forces have assaulted, tortured, raped and killed all those who oppose its plans for “economic development” under the name of “Operation Green Hunt” (OGH). This is the true face of the ‘world’s biggest democracy’.
Indeed, the people of India are painfully aware that this development will not improve the lives of those most economically vulnerable in Indian society: the working class, the peasantry and the adivasi (tribal) peoples. Rather, it will simply benefit the Indian and multinational corporations, and their bagmen in the Indian government. It is in opposition to this exploitation of the Indian people and their resources/lands, and in support of the millions of people resisting the imposition of these anti-poor economic policies that we stand in solidarity with the people’s war and all struggles waged by the Indian toiling masses.
How do we intend to support the people’s war in India? The CPI(Maoist), in their statement to the Hamburg conference to Support the People’s War in India, write that, “The campaign to end OGH and the solidarity movement in support of People’s War in India complement each other and the anti-OGH programs should form an integral part of the support movement to Indian revolution as defeating this multi-pronged countrywide offensive of the enemy is an immediate task before us. Our party believes that it is the need of the hour for the communist forces standing in support of PW in India to strive to mobilize the broadest possible anti-imperialist, democratic and revolutionary forces to strengthen the campaign to end OGH and with a view to build a broad worldwide anti-imperialist front that is in process.” Continue reading
During my first deployment, I was made to participate in things, the enormity of which is hard to describe. War crimes, crimes against humanity. Though I did not participate willingly, and made what I thought was my best effort to stop these events, there are some things that a person simply can not come back from. I take some pride in that, actually, as to move on in life after being part of such a thing would be the mark of a sociopath in my mind. These things go far beyond what most are even aware of. To force me to do these things and then participate in the ensuing coverup is more than any government has the right to demand. Then, the same government has turned around and abandoned me. — Daniel Somers, whistleblower
Somers served in Joint Special Operations Command in a unit in Mosul from 2006-2007. He ran the Northern Iraq Intelligence Center and was a senior analyst for Levant, which oversaw operations in Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Israel and part of Turkey.
“[T]he Anti-Defamation League for many years has maintained a very important, confidential investigative coverage of Arab activities and propaganda….Our information, in addition to being essential for our own operations, has been of great value and service to both the United States State Department and the Israeli government. All data have been made available to both countries with full knowledge to each that we were the source.”
– Letter from Benjamin R. Epstein, National Director, Anti-Defamation League to Saul Joftes, Executive Secretary, B’nai B’rith, July 7, 1961.
Those were the days when snooping usually meant digging through garbage cans, checking other people’s mailboxes, and primitive phone tapping. How the Anti-Defamation League is doing it today one can only imagine.
Over the last three days of April, the ADL celebrated its 100th anniversary in Washington DC in high style with Vice President Joe Biden the featured speaker at its Centennial Gala dinner on April 30 and Attorney General Eric Holder doing the obligatory genuflecting the day before.
Standing next to the ADL’s ubiquitous current national director, Abe Foxman, Biden told the one thousand paying guests, “You have become the conscience of this country, no matter what the issue. You have been a pillar of the Jewish community, but you reach out and you have reached out your embrace for all communities.”
For hundreds of organizations and thousands of individuals the ADL’s embrace has been too close for comfort and “unconscionable” would be a term more befitting the organization’s activities. What is definitely in order is a reminder that this year also marks the 20th anniversary of the exposure of a nation-wide spying operation run by the ADL that went back at least five decades. Continue reading
by Bernard D’Mello and Gautam Navlakha
The ambush on May 25 by Maoist guerrillas in the Darba Ghati valley (in the Sukma area of the Bastar region in southern Chhattisgarh), 345 kms south of the state capital of Raipur, of a convoy of provincial Congress Party leaders has shocked the Indian state apparatus. The Z-plus and other categories of armed security personnel — entitlements of the ‘lords’ of India’s political establishment — were no match for the guerrillas. The main targets of the attack were Mahendra Karma, founder of the state-promoted, financed and armed private vigilante force, Salwa Judum (SJ), and Nand Kumar Patel, the chief of the Congress Party in the province and a former home minister of the state.
A press statement issued by Dandakaranya Special Zonal Committee of the Communist Party of India (Maoist) (CPI [Maoist]) on May 26 states that the “goal of this attack was mainly to eliminate Mahendra Karma and some other reactionary Congress top leaders”. It pointedly reminds Chhattisgarh’s state government leaders and state police officials “who are hell-bent on crushing the revolutionary movement of Dandakaranya” that they suffer from a “big illusion that they are unbeatable”. Mahendra Karma too falsely believed “that Z-plus Security and bullet proof vehicles would save him forever”. The statement also clarifies that in Chhattisgarh “there are no differences between [the] ruling BJP [Bharatiya Janata Party] and opposition Congress in terms of policies of suppressing the revolutionary movement. Only due to public pressure, as well as to gain electoral benefits, some of the local leaders of the Congress at times came [out] in condemnation of incidents like [the] Sarkeguda and Edsametta massacres”.
The convoy was returning from a “Parivartan Yatra” (“March for Change”) rally in Sukma and the Maoists knew not only that Karma and Patel were in the convoy, but even the route that it was to take. The assassinations were thus meticulously planned and executed, though they took a two-hour long gun battle with the state forces to accomplish, a clash in which many who merely serve or protect (the latter, armed personnel) the oppressors, and do so because they have little choice, were either killed or injured. The Maoist guerrillas reportedly even provided first aid to some of these persons who suffered injuries. Continue reading