Sunday, December 17, 2017

The secret backstory of how Obama let Hezbollah off the hook



In its determination to secure a nuclear deal with Iran, the Obama administration derailed an ambitious law enforcement campaign targeting drug trafficking by the Iranian-backed terrorist group Hezbollah, even as it was funneling cocaine into the United States, according to a POLITICO investigation.

The campaign, dubbed Project Cassandra, was launched in 2008 after the Drug Enforcement Administration amassed evidence that Hezbollah had transformed itself from a Middle East-focused military and political organization into an international crime syndicate that some investigators believed was collecting $1 billion a year from drug and weapons trafficking, money laundering and other criminal activities.

Over the next eight years, agents working out of a top-secret DEA facility in Chantilly, Virginia, used wiretaps, undercover operations and informants to map Hezbollah’s illicit networks, with the help of 30 U.S. and foreign security agencies.

They followed cocaine shipments, some from Latin America to West Africa and on to Europe and the Middle East, and others through Venezuela and Mexico to the United States. They tracked the river of dirty cash as it was laundered by, among other tactics, buying American used cars and shipping them to Africa. And with the help of some key cooperating witnesses, the agents traced the conspiracy, they believed, to the innermost circle of Hezbollah and its state sponsors in Iran.

But as Project Cassandra reached higher into the hierarchy of the conspiracy, Obama administration officials threw an increasingly insurmountable series of roadblocks in its way, according to interviews with dozens of participants who in many cases spoke for the first time about events shrouded in secrecy, and a review of government documents and court records. When Project Cassandra leaders sought approval for some significant investigations, prosecutions, arrests and financial sanctions, officials at the Justice and Treasury departments delayed, hindered or rejected their requests.

https://www.politico.com/interactives/2017/obama-hezbollah-drug-trafficking-investigation/

Advanced Surveillance Technology Helping China To Make Thousands Vanish



The student’s friends think he joined the thousands — possibly tens of thousands — of people, rights groups and academics estimate, who have been spirited without trial into secretive detention camps for alleged political crimes that range from having extremist thoughts to merely traveling or studying abroad. The mass disappearances, beginning the past year, are part of a sweeping effort by Chinese authorities to use detentions and data-driven surveillance to impose a digital police state in the region of Xinjiang and over its Uighurs, a 10-million strong, Turkic-speaking Muslim minority that China says has been influenced by Islamic extremism.

“There are tens of thousands of cameras here.”A police officer in the Xinjiang region
Along with the detention camps, unprecedented levels of police blanket Xinjiang’s streets. Cutting-edge digital surveillance systems track where Uighurs go, what they read, who they talk to and what they say. And under an opaque system that treats practically all Uighurs as potential terror suspects, Uighurs who contact family abroad risk questioning or detention.

https://www.technocracy.news/index.php/2017/12/17/advanced-surveillance-technology-helping-china-make-thousands-vanish/

https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/world/2017/12/17/surveillance-cams-face-scans-help-china-make-thousands-vanish/959047001/

No Agenda: Sunday (12-17-17) Episode 991 - Milkshake Duck

L.S.D., Lies, and the C.I.A.: The Incredible True Story Behind Wormwood



In the early morning of November 28, 1953, 42-year-old Army scientist Frank Olson went out the window of a room in New York City’s Statler Hotel. Was it an accident, or an assassination?

Wormwood, the new Netflix true-crime documentary re-enactment series from director Errol Morris, investigates just that: Olson’s possible murder, and the conspiracy to cover up the death of a man who may have been ready to reveal government secrets. Among those possibly wishing to silence him: the C.I.A., President Gerald Ford’s chief and deputy chief of staff—Donald Rumsfeld and Dick Cheney, respectively—plus a rogue’s gallery of military men, a pseudo psychiatrist, and a magician.

https://www.vanityfair.com/hollywood/2017/12/errol-morris-wormwood-netflix-interview

Saturday, December 16, 2017

Glowing Auras and ‘Black Money’: The Pentagon’s Mysterious U.F.O. Program



In the $600 billion annual Defense Department budgets, the $22 million spent on the Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program was almost impossible to find.

Which was how the Pentagon wanted it.

For years, the program investigated reports of unidentified flying objects, according to Defense Department officials, interviews with program participants and records obtained by The New York Times. It was run by a military intelligence official, Luis Elizondo, on the fifth floor of the Pentagon’s C Ring, deep within the building’s maze.

The Defense Department has never before acknowledged the existence of the program, which it says it shut down in 2012. But its backers say that, while the Pentagon ended funding for the effort at that time, the program remains in existence. For the past five years, they say, officials with the program have continued to investigate episodes brought to them by service members, while also carrying out their other Defense Department duties.

The shadowy program — parts of it remain classified — began in 2007, and initially it was largely funded at the request of Harry Reid, the Nevada Democrat who was the Senate majority leader at the time and who has long had an interest in space phenomena. Most of the money went to an aerospace research company run by a billionaire entrepreneur and longtime friend of Mr. Reid’s, Robert Bigelow, who is currently working with NASA to produce expandable craft for humans to use in space.

On CBS’s “60 Minutes” in May, Mr. Bigelow said he was “absolutely convinced” that aliens exist and that U.F.O.s have visited Earth.



https://www.nytimes.com/2017/12/16/us/politics/pentagon-program-ufo-harry-reid.html


The Pentagon’s Secret Search for UFOs



Funded at the request of Harry Reid, the program probed a number of encounters military pilots had with aircraft they believed didn’t operate like anything they had seen before.

The Pentagon, at the direction of Congress, a decade ago quietly set up a multi-million dollar program to investigate what are popularly known as unidentified flying objects—UFOs.

The “unidentified aerial phenomena” claimed to have been seen by pilots and other military personnel appeared vastly more advanced than those in American or foreign arsenals. In some cases they maneuvered so unusually and so fast that they seemed to defy the laws of physics, according to multiple sources directly involved in or briefed on the effort.

The Advanced Aviation Threat Identification Program, whose existence was not classified but operated with the knowledge of an extremely limited number of officials, was the brainchild of then-Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nevada), who first secured the appropriation to begin the program in 2009 with the support of the late Senators Daniel Inouye (D-Hawaii) and Republican Ted Stevens (R-Alaska), two World War II veterans who were similarly concerned about the potential national security implications, the sources involved in the effort said. The origins of the program, the existence of which the Pentagon confirmed on Friday, are being revealed publicly by POLITICO for the first time.

The Pentagon’s AATIP program marked a 21st century effort to replicate some of the decades of inconclusive research undertaken by the Pentagon in 1950s and 1960s to try to explain thousands of reported sightings of unidentified flying objects, or UFOs by military and civilian pilots and average citizens—particularly an effort known as Project Bluebook that ran from 1947 to 1969 and still a focus of intense interest for UFO researchers.

https://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2017/12/16/pentagon-ufo-search-harry-reid-216111

Thursday, December 14, 2017

WikiLeaks recognised as a 'media organisation' by UK tribunal



A British tribunal has recognised Julian Assange’s WikiLeaks as a “media organisation”, a point of contention with the United States, which is seeking to prosecute him and disputes his journalistic credentials.

The issue of whether Assange is a journalist and publisher would almost certainly be one of the main battlegrounds in the event of the US seeking his extradition from the UK.

The definition of WikiLeaks by the information tribunal, which is roughly equivalent to a court, could help Assange’s defence against extradition on press freedom grounds.

The US has been considering prosecution of Assange since 2010 when WikiLeaks published hundreds of thousands of confidential US defence and diplomatic documents. US attorney general Jeff Sessions said in April this year that the arrest of Assange is a priority for the US.

https://www.theguardian.com/media/2017/dec/14/wikileaks-recognised-as-a-media-organisation-by-uk-tribunal



Dissecting the CIA’s lies regarding MKULTRA



One of the many interesting documents in Central Intelligence Agency’s declassified archives was guidance for public statements regarding their MKULTRA mind-control projects. The guidance, produced in 1983 and modified the following year, was intended for CIA’s Deputy Directors, the Executive Director, the Director of Public Affairs and “all Agency employees on the speaking circuit.” Just over a page long, the text is riddled with lies, errors, and half-truths, starting with the very first sentence.

The dates provided are misleading at best. MKULTRA officially began in 1953, but one of it’s partner programs, MKDELTA, had begun in 1952. Its predecessor programs had begun as early as 1949, judging by CIA’s index of “MKULTRA and behavioral research” documents. It’s impossible to know much about what happened before that in MKULTRA’s predecessor projects BLUEBIRD and ARTICHOKE, as an Agency memo notes that “almost no information [is] available for the period prior to 1952.”

The same memo noted that the records described “only a small part” of the program. MKULTRA also didn’t end in 1964 so much as it changed its name to MKSEARCH. Other MKULTRA subprojects weren’t transferred to MKSEARCH, but rather simply incorporated into the Agency’s general research and funding programs. According to John Marks’ book on the subject, “Gottlieb acknowledged that security did not require transferring all the surviving MKULTRA subprojects over to MKSEARCH. He moved 18 subprojects back into regular Agency funding channels.”

https://www.muckrock.com/news/archives/2017/dec/14/cia-mkultra-lies/

No Agenda: Thursday (12-14-17) Episode 990 - Skin Folk

Unfilter 263 - Unreliable Sources (12-13-17)

F.C.C. Repeals Net Neutrality Rules



The Federal Communications Commission voted on Thursday to dismantle landmark rules regulating the businesses that connect consumers to the internet, granting broadband companies power to potentially reshape Americans’ online experiences.

The agency scrapped so-called net neutrality regulations that prohibited broadband providers from blocking websites or charging for higher-quality service or certain content. The federal government will also no longer regulate high-speed internet delivery as if it were a utility, like phone services.

The action reversed the agency’s 2015 decision, during the Obama administration, to better protect Americans as they have migrated to the internet for most communications.

Ajit Pai, the chairman of the commission, said the rollback of the rules would eventually help consumers because broadband providers like AT&T and Comcast could offer people a wider variety of service options. Mr. Pai was joined in the 3-to-2 vote by his two fellow Republican commissioners.

https://mobile.nytimes.com/2017/12/14/technology/net-neutrality-repeal-vote.html

Ryan Dawson on Michael Flynn, Israel-gate and War Profiteers - Our Interesting Times Podcast

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

The Shady Bank Where This Russian NBA Owner Stashed Money



The Russian oligarch who owns the Brooklyn Nets basketball team stashed money in a bank the U.S. Treasury Department has accused of facilitating money laundering, weapons proliferation, sanctions evasion, organized crime, and financing a terror group, a report obtained by The Daily Beast reveals.

Mikhail Prokhorov, whose fortune is estimated at nearly $9 billion, ran for president of Russia against Vladimir Putin in 2012 in a stage-managed campaign sanctioned by the Kremlin.

As the sole owner of the Barclays Center sports arena in Brooklyn, he has dined with the likes of Jay-Z and former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg. He’s a frequent guest at the Four Seasons Hotel and is a fixture on the New York social scene.

But a 2014 “confidential” report written by the Central Bank of Cyprus (CBC) found that the wealthy Russian, a so-called politically exposed person—finance parlance for government officials, candidates, and their relatives who are deemed to be at a higher risk of bribery or money laundering—kept 23 accounts at FBME Bank Ltd., formerly known as the Federal Bank of the Middle East.

All 23 of the Prokhorov accounts had been set up by “front men,” according to the CBC report, and FBME was found not to have complied with Cyprus’ own anti-money-laundering law in accepting the deposits.

The bank was shuttered in May of this year following a U.S. Treasury Department statement noting that it was used to facilitate a host of international financial crimes, including money laundering on behalf of sanctioned regimes and non-state actors.

https://www.thedailybeast.com/the-shady-bank-where-this-russian-nba-owner-stashed-money