Tuesday, September 30, 2014
Editor's note: This is the first in a two-part series examining how financial companies charge high fees to the families of prison inmates. The second part, which will run Thursday, focuses on no-bid deals between Bank of America and JPMorgan Chase & Co. and the U.S. Treasury, under which they provide financial services to the federal Bureau of Prisons.
The Midland, Mich.-based Dow had been the only manufacturer not to settle allegations that it conspired with Bayer, BASF Corp., Huntsman International and Lyondell Chemical Co., to fix polyurethane prices from 1999 to 2003.
Seegott Holdings, Industrial Polymers and Quabaug Corp. were named as plaintiffs. They alleged that executives for these companies took advantage of a January 1999 depression in the polyurethane market to coordinate "lockstep" price-increase announcements and that they then made stick in individual contract negotiations.
“Reporter” Who Broke Propaganda Piece “Justifying” Bombing Syria Clears His Stories with CIA Before Publishing
Glenn Greenwald, Murtaza Hussain and Justin Raimondo have written must-read stories proving that we were right.
And Democracy Now – interviewing Hussain – notes that the same “reporter” who broke the “story” of the Khorasan “threat” was recently busted for clearing his stories in advance with the CIA:
AMY GOODMAN: You mentioned Ken Dilanian of AP. Now, Intercept just put out another story, “The CIA’s Mop-Up Man: L.A. Times Reporter Cleared Stories with Agency Before Publication.” Ken Silverstein writes, “A prominent national security reporter for the Los Angeles Times routinely submitted drafts and detailed summaries of his stories to CIA press handlers prior to publication, according to documents obtained by The Intercept.” He goes on to say, “Email exchanges between CIA public affairs officers and Ken Dilanian, now an Associated Press intelligence reporter who previously covered the CIA for the Times, show that Dilanian enjoyed a closely collaborative relationship with the agency, explicitly promising positive news coverage and sometimes sending the press office entire story drafts for review prior to publication. In at least one instance, the CIA’s reaction appears to have led to significant changes in the story that was eventually published in the [Los Angeles] Times.
Monday, September 29, 2014
This Strategic Mission List was published by The New York Times on November 2, 2013, as one of three original NSA documents that accompanied a long report about the how NSA spies on both enemies and allies.
For many decades, Dr. Monteith blazed the trail for liberty radio and his tireless work revolutionized the liberty movement.
“Dr. Stan,” as he was known, served on the front lines warning of the spiritual battle taking place between good and evil and did tremendous work in exposing the vast network of secret societies and mysterious forces behind the men who make up the “Brotherhood of Darkness.” He was also a pioneer in warning about the dangers of fluoride, vaccines and America’s fiat Federal Reserve currency.
The trove, which includes documents from the NSA, Department of Justice, and Defense Intelligence Agency, confirms long-standing suspicions that the bulk of U.S. foreign surveillance operations are governed not by acts of Congress, but by a 33-year-old executive order issued unilaterally by President Ronald Reagan.
The documents were released in response to a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit filed by the ACLU and the Media Freedom and Information Access Clinic at Yale Law School, and they detail the extent of the order — which is extraordinarily broad and until recently largely obscure — and which underpins expansive U.S. surveillance programs, like siphoning internet traffic from Google and Yahoo’s overseas data centers, recording every call in the Bahamas, and gathering billions of records on cellphone locations around the world.
In some ways, this is not surprising. After all, it has been reported that some of the NSA's biggest spying programs rely on the executive order, such as the NSA's interception of internet traffic between Google's and Yahoo!'s data centers abroad, the collection of millions of email and instant-message address books, the recording of the contents of every phone call made in at least two countries, and the mass cellphone location-tracking program. In other ways, however, it is surprising. Congress's reform efforts have not addressed the executive order, and the bulk of the government's disclosures in response to the Snowden revelations have conspicuously ignored the NSA's extensive mandate under EO 12333.
The order, issued by President Ronald Reagan in 1981, imposes the sole constraints on U.S. surveillance on foreign soil that targets foreigners. There's been some speculation, too, that the government relies directly on the order — as opposed to its statutory authority — to conduct surveillance inside the United States.
Part of a sprawling surveillance strategy dubbed “Project NOLA,” citizens’ security cameras would be integrated with footage shot from other law enforcement cameras already installed around the St. Bernard Parish area near New Orleans, and would give the sheriff’s department the ability to tap into those cameras at a moment’s notice.
Saturday, September 27, 2014
New documents released by the CIA show how the agency worked with some of the country’s largest newspapers to destroy San Jose Mercury News’ Gary Webb, a journalist who famously exposed the CIA’s connection to the cocaine trade in the “Dark Alliance” investigation.
Tactics used to destroy Webb, who was found dead in his apartment in 2004 with two .38-caliber bullets in the head, included a massive smear campaign by journalists working with newspapers such as the L.A. Times. A report by The Intercept’s Ryan Devereaux reveals the paper used as many as 17 journalists to discredit Webb and his exposé.
“The Los Angeles Times was especially aggressive. Scooped in its own backyard, the California paper assigned no fewer than 17 reporters to pick apart Webb’s reporting. While employees denied an outright effort to attack the Mercury News, one of the 17 referred to it as the ‘get Gary Webb team,’” Devereaux writes. “Another said at the time, ‘We’re going to take away that guy’s Pulitzer,’ according to Kornbluh’s CJR piece. Within two months of the publication of ‘Dark Alliance,’ the L.A. Times devoted more words to dismantling its competitor’s breakout hit than comprised the series itself.”
“The CIA watched these developments closely, collaborating where it could with outlets who wanted to challenge Webb’s reporting. Media inquiries had started almost immediately following the publication of ‘Dark Alliance,’ and Dujmovic in ‘Managing a Nightmare’ cites the CIA’s success in discouraging ‘one major news affiliate’ from covering the story. He also boasts that the agency effectively departed from its own longstanding policies in order to discredit the series. ‘For example, in order to help a journalist working on a story that would undermine the Mercury News allegations, Public Affairs was able to deny any affiliation of a particular individual — which is a rare exception to the general policy that CIA does not comment on any individual’s alleged CIA ties.”
Friday, September 26, 2014
Entitled “Managing a Nightmare: CIA Public Affairs and the Drug Conspiracy Story,” the six-page report describes the CIA’s damage control after Webb’s “Dark Alliance” series was published in the San Jose Mercury-News in August 1996. Webb had resurrected disclosures from the 1980s about the CIA-backed Contras collaborating with cocaine traffickers as the Reagan administration worked to conceal the crimes.
Although the CIA’s inspector general later corroborated the truth about the Contra-cocaine connection and the Reagan administration’s cover-up, the mainstream media’s counterattack in defense of the CIA in late summer and fall of 1996 proved so effective that the subsequent CIA confession made little dent in the conventional wisdom regarding either the Contra-cocaine scandal or Gary Webb.
In fall 1998, when the CIA inspector general’s extraordinary findings were released, the major U.S. news media largely ignored them, leaving Webb a “disgraced” journalist who – unable to find a decent-paying job in his profession – committed suicide in 2004, a dark tale that will be revisited in a new movie, “Kill the Messenger,” starring Jeremy Renner and scheduled to reach theaters on Oct. 10.
The new rules will expand an existing program allowing recruiters to target foreign nationals with high-demand skills, mostly rare foreign language expertise or specialized health care training.
For the first time, the program — known as Military Accessions Vital to National Interest, or MAVNI — will be open to immigrants without a proper visa if they came to the U.S. with their parents before age 16. More specifically, they must be approved under a 2012 Obama administration policy known as Deferred Action for Child Arrivals, or DACA.
The new DoD policy may be the first phase of a broader government wide effort to ease pressure on immigrants and create new paths to citizenship. President Obama, frustrated with the failure of Congress to pass any substantial immigration reform, has vowed to aggressively use his presidential authority to change the way immigration policies are carried out.
The reporter, Jake Bernstein, has obtained 46 hours of tape recordings, made secretly by a Federal Reserve employee, of conversations within the Fed, and between the Fed and Goldman Sachs. The Ray Rice video for the financial sector has arrived.
First, a bit of background -- which you might get equally well from today's broadcast as well as from this article by ProPublica. After the 2008 financial crisis, the New York Fed, now the chief U.S. bank regulator, commissioned a study of itself. This study, which the Fed also intended to keep to itself, set out to understand why the Fed hadn't spotted the insane and destructive behavior inside the big banks, and stopped it before it got out of control. The "discussion draft" of the Fed's internal study, led by a Columbia Business School professor and former banker named David Beim, was sent to the Fed on Aug. 18, 2009.
It's an extraordinary document. There is not space here to do it justice, but the gist is this: The Fed failed to regulate the banks because it did not encourage its employees to ask questions, to speak their minds or to point out problems.
Just the opposite: The Fed encourages its employees to keep their heads down, to obey their managers and to appease the banks. That is, bank regulators failed to do their jobs properly not because they lacked the tools but because they were discouraged from using them.
An unprecedented look inside one of the most powerful, secretive institutions in the country. The NY Federal Reserve is supposed to monitor big banks. But when Carmen Segarra was hired, what she witnessed inside the Fed was so alarming that she got a tiny recorder, and started secretly taping.
Ira introduces Carmen Segarra, a bank examiner for the Federal Reserve in New York who, in 2012, started secretly recording as she and her colleagues went about regulating one of the most powerful financial institutions in the country. This was during a time when the New York Fed was trying to become a stronger regulator, so that it wouldn't fail to miss another financial crisis like it did with the meltdown in 2008. As part of that effort to reform, the Fed had commissioned a highly confidential report, written by Columbia professor David Beim, that identified why the regulator failed in the years leading up to the crisis. Beim laid out specific recommendations for how the Fed could fix its problems. Carmen's recordings allow us to see if the Fed successfully heeded those recommendations more than two years later. What we hear is not reassuring.
This American Life
As ProPublica reported last year, Segarra sued the New York Fed and her bosses, claiming she was retaliated against for refusing to back down from a negative finding about Goldman Sachs. A judge threw out the case this year without ruling on the merits, saying the facts didn't fit the statute under which she sued.
At the bottom of a document filed in the case, however, her lawyer disclosed a stunning fact: Segarra had made a series of audio recordings while at the New York Fed. Worried about what she was witnessing, Segarra wanted a record in case events were disputed. So she had purchased a tiny recorder at the Spy Store and began capturing what took place at Goldman and with her bosses.
Segarra ultimately recorded about 46 hours of meetings and conversations with her colleagues. Many of these events document key moments leading to her firing. But against the backdrop of the Beim report, they also offer an intimate study of the New York Fed's culture at a pivotal moment in its effort to become a more forceful financial supervisor. Fed deliberations, confidential by regulation, rarely become public.
Thursday, September 25, 2014
September 16 marks the anniversary of a horrific terrorist attack on Manhattan's Financial District. The perpetrators targeted a prominent building that also served as a symbol of American capitalism. But their method of attack was unusual. They did not hijack a plane or use suicide bombers with explosives strapped to their chests. They used a horse-drawn wagon.
The Wall Street bombing, as the event is now known, occured just after noon on Thursday, September 16, 1920. A wagon loaded with a bomb containing dynamite and 500 pounds of small iron weights parked in front of 23 Wall Street. The corner building was then the headquarters of J.P. Morgan & Co., the nation's most powerful bank. At 12:01 pm, the timer on the bomb reached zero and a terrific explosion rocked the street.
Thirty people—and one horse—died instantly from the blast. Another eight died later from the injuries they sustained. Hundreds were injured, some by shrapnel on the street, others by the glass that rained down from the broken windows of the J.P. Morgan building.
A massive, $7.2 billion Army intelligence contract signed just 10 days ago underscores the central role to be played by the National Security Agency and its army of private contractors in the unfolding air war being carried out by the United States and its Gulf States allies against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.
That war was greatly expanded Monday night when U.S. forces launched a “mix of fighter, bomber, remotely-piloted aircraft and Tomahawk” cruise missiles against ISIS targets in Syria. The Central Command said the strikes were led by the United States with support from Bahrain, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates.
INSCOM’s “global intelligence support” contract will place the contractors at the center of this fight. It was unveiled on Sept. 12 by the U.S. Army’s Intelligence and Security Command (INSCOM), one of the largest military units that collects signals intelligence for the NSA.
Under its terms, 21 companies, led by Booz Allen Hamilton, BAE Systems, Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman, will compete over the next five years to provide “fully integrated intelligence, security and information operations” in Afghanistan and “future contingency operations” around the world.
The NSA is best-known to Americans for its awesome power to spy on the electronic communications of governments and populations around the world. But it is also a critical part of the Pentagon chain of command, particularly during wartime, and collects most of its intercepted communications from a global web of listening posts and military intelligence units operated by INSCOM and the other armed services.
The 20,000-word series enraged black communities, prompted Congressional hearings, and became one of the first major national security stories in history to blow up online. It also sparked an aggressive backlash from the nation’s most powerful media outlets, which devoted considerable resources to discredit Webb’s reporting. Their efforts succeeded, costing Webb his career. On December 10, 2004, the journalist was found dead in his apartment, having ended his eight-year downfall with two .38-caliber bullets to the head.
These days, Webb is being cast in a more sympathetic light. He’s portrayed heroically in a major motion picture set to premiere nationwide next month. And documents newly released by the CIA provide fresh context to the “Dark Alliance” saga — information that paints an ugly portrait of the mainstream media at the time.
On September 18, the agency released a trove of documents spanning three decades of secret government operations. Culled from the agency’s in-house journal, Studies in Intelligence, the materials include a previously unreleased six-page article titled “Managing a Nightmare: CIA Public Affairs and the Drug Conspiracy Story.” Looking back on the weeks immediately following the publication of “Dark Alliance,” the document offers a unique window into the CIA’s internal reaction to what it called “a genuine public relations crisis” while revealing just how little the agency ultimately had to do to swiftly extinguish the public outcry. Thanks in part to what author Nicholas Dujmovic, a CIA Directorate of Intelligence staffer at the time of publication, describes as “a ground base of already productive relations with journalists,” the CIA’s Public Affairs officers watched with relief as the largest newspapers in the country rescued the agency from disaster, and, in the process, destroyed the reputation of an aggressive, award-winning reporter.
Family Members of the Intrepid Investigative Journalist — Soon To Be Immortalized By An Upcoming Hollywood Movie — Share Their Story With The World
Investigative journalist Gary Webb wrote a series of stories in 1996 for the San Jose Mercury News that documented the US-government-backed Contra insurgents’ drug pipeline into Los Angeles. More importantly, Webb’s reporting revealed that CIA assets were involved in the sale of millions of dollars worth of cocaine in South Central LA to raise funds for the Contras, who in the 1980s, during the presidency of Ronald Reagan, were seeking to overthrow the democratically elected Sandinista government in Nicaragua. The cocaine — transformed into cheap, addictive crack rocks at the street level — hit Los Angeles and spread like the plague. The proceeds from the drug running by the “CIA’s army” were then used to buy weapons for the Contras, fueling more misery and bloodshed in Nicaragua.
The series was pioneering in that the stories and all the documentation also were posted on the Internet, and quickly went viral without the help of the establishment media, creating a national sensation that threatened to buckle the CIA’s pretense. A media smear campaign against Webb, seeded by the CIA, followed on the heels of that threat, a campaign that attacked Webb personally while sidestepping the facts he had uncovered. The major agenda-setting media — including the New York Times, Washington Post and Los Angeles Times — were unrelenting in their assault, with the Los Angeles Times putting some 17 reporters on the assignment to destroy Webb, the messenger.
The Mercury News’ top editor, Jerry Ceppos, ultimately buckled, threw Webb to the wolves and penned a letter of apology to the readers for the Dark Alliance series. Webb was subsequently banished to a small Mercury News bureau in Cupertino, Calif., south of San Francisco — and some 125 miles from his home and family in Sacramento. He was forced to write stories normally assigned to cub reporters. His career was effectively destroyed, and he would never again get a job with a daily newspaper. He took his own life on Dec. 9, 2004.
It’s nothing short of a windfall for these and other huge defense contractors, who’ve been getting itchy about federal budget pressures that threatened to slow the rate of increase in military spending.
Now, with U.S. forces literally blowing through tens of millions of dollars of munitions a day, the industry is not just counting on vast spending to replenish inventory, but hoping for a new era of reliance on supremely expensive military hardware.
Wednesday, September 24, 2014
Developers of portable DNA analysis machines have been invited to a Nov. 13 presentation to learn about the bureau's vision for incorporating their technology into the FBI's new database.
So-called rapid DNA systems can draw up a profile in about 90 minutes.
The Next Generation Identification system, or NGI, the successor to the FBI's criminal fingerprint database, is designed to quickly ID crooks through facial recognition, iris matching, tattoo cross-checks and vocal recordings, among other unique traits.
But critics say aggregating DNA along with all this other data makes it easier for authorities to track the general population.
Attorney General Eric Holder has until Oct. 1 to produce all "nonprivileged documents" sought by the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, but Holder recently demanded a stay of the court's order to do so.
The committee said its opposition brief that Holder cannot demonstrate the "pressing need" for the "indefinite" stay he seeks.
"The attorney general has not even attempted to demonstrate a pressing need for a stay," the Friday filing states. "His stay request is predicated only on his suggestion that he might file an appeal from one aspect of the court's August 20 Order, that in the case he might file another appeal, and that this would not be desirable."
The Fast and Furious program was executed by the Phoenix field office of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms. ATF agents knowingly allowed firearms purchased illegally in the United States to be unlawfully transferred to third-parties and transported into Mexico in hopes that the guns would lead ATF agents to the cartel leaders who purchased them.
The mission fell apart, however, after agents lost track of thousands of guns, some of which turned up at the scene of the 2010 firefight in Arizona that resulted in the death of Border Patrol agent Brian Terry .
Recent reports have indicated that law enforcement agencies from coast to coast have been turning to IMSI-catcher devices, like the StingRay sold by Florida’s Harris Corporation, to trick ordinary mobile phones into communicating device-specific International Mobile Subscriber Identity information to phony cell towers — a tactic that takes the approximate geolocation data of all the devices within range and records it for investigators. Recently, the Tallahassee Police Department in the state of Florida was found to have used their own “cell site simulator” at least 200 times to collect phone data without once asking for a warrant during a three-year span, and details about the use of StingRays by other law enforcement groups continue to emerge on the regular.
But while the merits of whether or not law enforcement officers should legally be able to collect sensitive cell information by masquerading as telecommunication towers remains ripe for debate — and continues for certain to be an issue of contention among civil liberties advocates — newly released documents raise even further questions about how cops use StingRays and other IMSI-catchers to gather great chunks of data concerning the whereabouts of not just criminal suspects, but seemingly anyone in a given vicinity that happens to have a phone in their hand or pocket.
With his latest business venture, Mitnick has switched hats again: This time to an ambiguous shade of gray.
Late last week, Mitnick revealed a new branch of his security consultancy business he calls Mitnick’s Absolute Zero Day Exploit Exchange. Since its quiet inception six months ago, he says the service has offered to sell corporate and government clients high-end “zero-day” exploits, hacking tools that take advantage of secret bugs in software for which no patch yet exists. Mitnick says he’s offering exploits developed both by his own in-house researchers and by outside hackers, guaranteed to be exclusive and priced at no less than $100,000 each, including his own fee.
Tuesday, September 23, 2014
A look at the the past 37 years of Congressional activity, as far back as online records from the Library of Congress go for both chambers, reveals that your likely stereotypes about the amount of time Congress spends doing the people's work is probably about right.
For example, during the 1,917 weeks since the start of 1978 (which conveniently fell on a Sunday), the Senate has worked a full week -- Monday through Friday -- 601 times. The House has done that far less, at 362 times. And if you're looking for weeks in which both the House and Senate did full five-day week, you're talking about 258 times -- 13.5 percent of the time.
In interviews I have been conducting for a new edition of my 2013 book on the assassination, Shaffer told me there probably was a conspiracy in President Kennedy’s death, which makes him the first commission insider to say so publicly. He said he has no doubt that Oswald was the lone gunman in Dealey Plaza. Nor does he question the single-bullet theory, developed by the commission’s staff, which holds that one bullet passed through the bodies of both Kennedy and Texas Gov. John Connally. But he now suspects that the assassination was the work, ultimately, of organized-crime figures who somehow manipulated Oswald into gunning down the president in Dallas on Friday, Nov. 22, 1963, and then directed strip-club operator Jack Ruby to silence Oswald by killing him two days later.
Monday, September 22, 2014
Sunday, September 21, 2014
The massive drone reached a new milestone Thursday, however. At 7:53 a.m., one of the 131-foot wide aircraft landed at Naval Air Station Patuxent River in Maryland following its first cross-country flight, the Navy said. The drone soared at heights of more than 50,000 feet at times; it departed from a facility in Palmdale, Calif., owned by its maker, Northrop Grumman, late Wednesday. It flew along the U.S.-Mexico border, over the Gulf of Mexico and across Florida before turning north up the Atlantic Coast.
The true cause of the veterans' ailments has never been officially determined. Fort McClellan housed several Army components, including a division for chemical weapons training and research. But many veterans suspect they were sickened by chemicals dumped near Anniston by Monsanto Co., which had facilities in the area and disposed of chemicals near the base.
Saturday, September 20, 2014
The pause in decades of espionage, which remains partially in effect, was designed to give CIA officers time to examine whether they were being careful enough and to evaluate whether spying on allies is worth running the risk of discovery, said a U.S. official who has been briefed on the situation.
Under the stand-down order, case officers in Europe largely have been forbidden from undertaking "unilateral operations" such as meeting with sources they have recruited within allied governments. Such clandestine meetings are the bedrock of spying.
Thursday, September 18, 2014
Wednesday, September 17, 2014
“Before prison gangs showed up,” he says, “you survived in prison by following something called ‘the convict code.’ ” Various recensions of the code exist, but they all reduce to a few short maxims that old-timers would share with first offenders soon after they arrived. “It was pretty simple,” he explains. “You mind your own business, you don’t rat on anyone, and you pretty much just try to avoid bothering or cheating other inmates.”
But starting in the 1950s, things changed: The total inmate population rose steeply, and prisons grew bigger, more ethnically and racially mixed, and more unpredictable in their types of inmate. Prisons faced a flood of first offenders, who tended to be young and male—and therefore less receptive to the advice of grizzled jailbirds. The norms that made prison life tolerable disappeared, and the authorities lost control. Prisoners banded together for self-protection—and later, for profit. The result was the first California prison gang.
From the Very Start, the CIA Has Engaged In Covert Terrorism to Give Government Plausible Deniability
But – from the beginning – the CIA has also carried out black hat covert operations.
Specifically, the CIA was formed in September 1947.
A mere 9 months later, the National Security Council issued a directive to the CIA to engage in covert operations:
As used in this directive, “covert operations” are understood to be all activities (except as noted herein) which are conducted or sponsored by this Government against hostile foreign states or groups or in support of friendly foreign states or groups but which are so planned and executed that any US Government responsibility for them is not evident to unauthorized persons and that if uncovered the US Government can plausibly disclaim any responsibility for them. Specifically, such operations shall include any covert activities related to: propaganda, economic warfare; preventive direct action, including sabotage, anti-sabotage, demolition and evacuation measures; subversion against hostile states, including assistance to underground resistance movements, guerrillas and refugee liberation groups, and support of indigenous anti-communist elements in threatened countries of the free world. Such operations shall not include armed conflict by recognized military forces, espionage, counter-espionage, and cover and deception for military operations.
Tuesday, September 16, 2014
A cookie is a small piece of data that a website loads onto your browser. Every time you visit that site in future, the browser sends that cookie back to the server so that the website can correlate this with your previous activity.
Cookies are an essential part of Internet commerce and also used in analytics. They are safe in the sense that they cannot carry viruses. But where safety is less clear is that they make it possible to build up a picture of your online activity, particularly when a website contains trackers belonging to a third party, such as an advertiser or analytics provider. These third party trackers are often able to piece together your activity on several different websites and when that happens the question of privacy becomes more acute.
That raises some important questions. How do these companies use the data they acquire, where is it stored and who has access to it? The law covering this kind of activity is a particularly murky shade of grey in many parts of the world so the answers are not at all clear.
Entrepreneur, Mega creator and Internet Party founder Kim Dotcom and award-winning journalist Glenn Greenwald held a press conference at the Auckland Town Hall, alongside Internet Party leader Laila Harré and Dotcom’s lawyer Robert Amsterdam, with special guests Wikleaks’ Julian Assange and NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden both appearing by video-link.
Though the F.B.I. has been using a basic mobile phone interceptor that tracks phone location, known colloquially by the brand name of "Stingray" since at least 2008, federal, state, and local officials have tried to say as little as possible about use of the technology, even in court proceedings. This angers civil libertarians such as the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), who view the use of interceptors without a warrant as an unlawful search. The government's silence has helped generate an information vacuum filled by conspiracy theory: one fringe news site recently claimed that the interceptors are a source of "smart grid mind control" made possible by "voice to skull technology."
So begins a 22-page, heavily redacted, previously top-secret document titled “Legality of a Lethal Operation by the Central Intelligence Agency Against a US Citizen,” which provides the first detailed look at the legal rationale behind lethal operations conducted by the agency. The white paper [pdf below] was turned over to VICE News in response to a long-running Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit against the Justice Department.
It’s one of two white papers the Justice Department prepared in 2011 after lawmakers demanded to know what the administration’s legal rationale was for targeting for death the radical Muslim cleric Anwar al-Awlaki, a US citizen. The first white paper, released last year, addressed why the targeted killing by the US military of an American abroad was lawful. This second white paper addresses why it was lawful for the CIA to do so. Neither white paper identifies Awlaki by name.
The May 25, 2011 document is based on a 41-page Justice Department memo that lays out the government’s legal basis for targeting Awlaki without affording him his right to due process under the US Constitution. For years, the Obama administration was pressured by lawmakers to share the memo, but officials refused — and wouldn’t even confirm that such a memo existed.
Local officers, county deputies, and state troopers were encouraged to act more aggressively in searching for suspicious people, drugs, and other contraband. The departments of Homeland Security and Justice spent millions on police training.
The effort succeeded, but it had an impact that has been largely hidden from public view: the spread of an intense brand of policing that has spurred the seizure of hundreds of millions of dollars in cash from motorists and others not charged with crimes, a Washington Post investigation found.
Thousands of people have been forced to fight legal battles that can last more than a year to get their money back.
Behind the rise in seizures is a little-known cottage industry of private police-training firms that teach the techniques of ‘‘highway interdiction’’ to departments across the country.
One of those firms created a private intelligence network known as Black Asphalt Electronic Networking & Notification System that enabled police nationwide to share detailed reports about American motorists — criminal and innocent alike — including their Social Security numbers, addresses, and identifying tattoos, as well as hunches about which drivers to stop.
Three key features of civil forfeiture law give cops this license to steal:
The government does not have to charge you with a crime, let alone convict you, to take your property. Under federal law and the laws of many states, a forfeiture is justified if the government can show, by a preponderance of the evidence, that the seized property is connected to a crime, typically a drug offense. That standard, which amounts to any probability greater than 50 percent, is much easier to satisfy than proof beyond a reasonable doubt, the standard for a criminal trial. Some states allow forfeiture based on probable cause, a standard even weaker than preponderance of the evidence.
The burden of proof is on you. Innocent owners like Mandrel Stuart have to prove their innocence, a reversal of the rule in criminal cases. Meanwhile, the government hangs onto the money, which puts financial stress on the owner and makes it harder for him to challenge the forfeiture.
Cops keep the loot. Local cops and prosecutors who pursue forfeiture under federal law, which is what happened in Stuart's case, receive up to 80 percent of the proceeds. Some states are even more generous, but others give law enforcement agencies a smaller cut, making federal forfeiture under the Justice Department's Equitable Sharing Program a tempting alternative. The fact that police have a direct financial interest in forfeitures creates an incentive for pretextual traffic stops aimed at finding money or other property to seize. The Post found that "298 departments and 210 task forces have seized the equivalent of 20 percent or more of their annual budgets since 2008."
The NGI system, after three years of development, is billed by the FBI as a new breakthrough for criminal identification and data-sharing between law enforcement agencies.
"This effort is a significant step forward for the criminal justice community in utilizing biometrics as an investigative enabler," the FBI said in a statement.
The NGI database contains over 100 million individual records that link a person’s fingerprints, palm prints, iris scans and facial-recognition data with personal information like their home address, age, legal status and other potentially compromising details.
Perhaps the most controversial aspect of the NGI is the facial-recognition information, which civil liberties advocates have said for years is among the most serious future threats to Americans’ privacy. The NGI database is expected to contain 52 million facial-recognition images alone by 2015.
Monday, September 15, 2014
Documents provided by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden show that the government worked in secret to exploit a new internet surveillance law enacted in the wake of revelations of illegal domestic spying to initiate a new metadata collection program that appeared designed to collect information about the communications of New Zealanders. Those actions are in direct conflict with the assurances given to the public by Prime Minister John Key (pictured above), who said the law was merely designed to fix “an ambiguous legal framework” by expressly allowing the agency to do what it had done for years, that it “isn’t and will never be wholesale spying on New Zealanders,” and the law “isn’t a revolution in the way New Zealand conducts its intelligence operations.”
By Glenn Greenwald and Ryan Gallagher
Let me be clear: any statement that mass surveillance is not performed in New Zealand, or that the internet communications are not comprehensively intercepted and monitored, or that this is not intentionally and actively abetted by the GCSB, is categorically false. If you live in New Zealand, you are being watched. At the NSA I routinely came across the communications of New Zealanders in my work with a mass surveillance tool we share with GCSB, called “XKEYSCORE.” It allows total, granular access to the database of communications collected in the course of mass surveillance. It is not limited to or even used largely for the purposes of cybersecurity, as has been claimed, but is instead used primarily for reading individuals’ private email, text messages, and internet traffic. I know this because it was my full-time job in Hawaii, where I worked every day in an NSA facility with a top secret clearance.
Sunday, September 14, 2014
FinFisher (formerly part of the UK based Gamma Group International until late 2013) is a German company that produces and sells computer intrusion systems, software exploits and remote monitoring systems that are capable of intercepting communications and data from OS X, Windows and Linux computers as well as Android, iOS, BlackBerry, Symbian and Windows Mobile devices. FinFisher first came to public attention in December 2011 when WikiLeaks published documents detailing their products and business in the first SpyFiles release.
Since the first SpyFiles release, researchers published reports that identified the presence of FinFisher products in countries aroud the world and documented its use against journalists, activists and political dissidents.
Julian Assange, WikiLeaks Editor in Chief said: "FinFisher continues to operate brazenly from Germany selling weaponised surveillance malware to some of the most abusive regimes in the world. The Merkel government pretends to be concerned about privacy, but its actions speak otherwise. Why does the Merkel government continue to protect FinFisher? This full data release will help the technical community build tools to protect people from FinFisher including by tracking down its command and control centers."
The breathtaking mission is described in a document from the archive of NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden provided to The Intercept and Der Spiegel. Treasure Map’s goal is to create an “interactive map of the global internet” in “almost real time.” Employees of the so-called “Five Eyes” intelligence alliance—England, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand—can install and use the program on their own computers. It evokes a kind of Google Earth for global data traffic, a bird’s eye view of the planet’s digital arteries.
Treasure Map is anything but harmless entertainment. Rather, it is the mandate for a massive raid on the digital world. It aims to map the Internet, and not just the large traffic channels, such as telecommunications cables. It also seeks to identify the devices across which our data flows, so-called routers.
Furthermore, every single end device that is connected to the Internet somewhere in the world -- every smartphone, tablet and computer -- is to be made visible. Such a map doesn't just reveal one treasure. There are millions of them.
The breathtaking mission is described in a Treasure Map presentation from the documents of the former intelligence service employee Edward Snowden which SPIEGEL has seen. It instructs analysts to "map the entire Internet -- Any device, anywhere, all the time."
Treasure Map allows for the creation of an "interactive map of the global Internet" in "near real-time," the document notes. Employees of the so-called "FiveEyes" intelligence agencies from Great Britain, Canada, Australia and New Zealand, which cooperate closely with the American agency NSA, can install and use the program on their own computers. One can imagine it as a kind of Google Earth for global data traffic, a bird's eye view of the planet's digital arteries.
Saturday, September 13, 2014
New fights mean new stuff, after all. And following the U.S. withdrawal from Iraq and Afghanistan—and the belt-tightening at the Pentagon imposed by steep budget cuts—military suppliers are lining up to meet a suddenly restored need for their wares. Presenting his vision for expanding the confrontation with the terrorist group ISIS in a speech to the nation on Wednesday night, President Obama outlined a program of intensified airstrikes designed to keep American troops away from the danger on the ground. So defense analysts are pointing to a pair of sure-bet paydays from the new campaign: for those making and maintaining the aircraft, manned and unmanned, that will swarm the skies over the region, and for those producing the missiles and munitions that will arm them.
FAA registration records show it was commissioned in the early 70’s by the U.S. Forest Service from aircraft manufacturer Swearingen in San Antonio, part of an operation to “sheep-dip” CIA planes through the U.S. Forest Service.
“Sheep-dip” is spook-speak for concealing the source or true ownership of something, or, at the very least, hiding it from Congress. When the plane was ordered, the CIA was merely anticipating Congressional calls for reining in the CIA, through (tellingly) forcing the Agency to divest its proprietary airlines.
By the time the plane was delivered two years later, the calls had grown much louder. In another two years, they’d become successful. More on this in a moment.
But what you won’t learn from media coverage of ISIS is that many of these former Pentagon officials have skin in the game as paid directors and advisers to some of the largest military contractors in the world. Ramping up America’s military presence in Iraq and directly entering the war in Syria, along with greater military spending more broadly, is a debatable solution to a complex political and sectarian conflict. But those goals do unquestionably benefit one player in this saga: America’s defense industry.
Greenwald, who is in New Zealand to attend Kim Dotcom’s much anticipated “Moment of Truth” event Monday, said the Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB) had been snooping on New Zealanders as part of the so-called Five Eyes pact between the US, the UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.
Reauthorization from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) allows the NSA to continue to warrantlessly collect “metadata” in bulk about people’s phone calls. The records contain information about which numbers people called, when and how long they talked, but not the actual content of their conversations.
“Given that legislation has not yet been enacted, and given the importance of maintaining the capabilities of the Section 215 telephony metadata program, the government has sought a 90-day reauthorization of the existing program,” the Justice Department and Office of the Director of National Intelligence said in a joint statement, referring to the section of the Patriot Act that authorizes the program.
Friday, September 12, 2014
Speaking before a group of faculty members and students at Oklahoma City University’s law school on Sept. 11, Justice Sotomayor said “frightening” changes in surveillance technology should encourage citizens to take a more active role in the privacy debate. She said she’s particularly troubled by the potential for commercial and government drones to compromise personal privacy.
Thursday, September 11, 2014
Wednesday, September 10, 2014
This is no boring documentary. It’s an action-packed full-scale Hollywood epic with a star-studded supporting cast: Michael Sheen, Paz Vega, Andy Garcia, Michael Kenneth Williams, Ray Liotta, Oliver Platt and Mary Elizabeth Winstead, among others, join Renner in the ensemble.
As the October 10 premier draws near, Narco News will tell more of these stories, and publish never-seen videos of Gary in his own words, but let’s talk about the movie and the story it retells because it’s a BFD (a big fucking deal) that is about to bring Gary the vindication he did not live to see, and that will deliver overdue justice to the big media bullies – yes, the movie mentions some of the worst offenders by name – who betrayed Gary, the First Amendment, and the tenets of basic human decency along with him.
Barclays has just announced that it is going to become the first major bank in the western world to use vein scanning technology to control access to bank accounts. There will even be a biometric reader that customers plug into their computers at home...
Tuesday, September 9, 2014
A Manhattan federal judge said on Thursday that investors may pursue a lawsuit accusing 12 major banks of violating antitrust law by fixing prices and restraining competition in the roughly $21 trillion market for credit default swaps.
“The complaint provides a chronology of behavior that would probably not result from chance, coincidence, independent responses to common stimuli, or mere interdependence,” [Judge] Cote said.
The defendants include Bank of America Corp, Barclays Plc, BNP Paribas SA, Citigroup Inc , Credit Suisse Group AG, Deutsche Bank AG , Goldman Sachs Group Inc, HSBC Holdings Plc , JPMorgan Chase & Co, Morgan Stanley, Royal Bank of Scotland Group Plc and UBS AG.
Other defendants are the International Swaps and Derivatives Association and Markit Ltd, which provides credit derivative pricing services.
The application by Privacy International (PI), which campaigns on issues of surveillance, to the Strasbourg court is the latest in a series of legal challenges following the revelations of the US whistleblower Edward Snowden aimed at forcing the government to disclose details of its surveillance policies.
The civil liberties group alleges that the UK is violating the right to access information by "refusing to disclose the documents that have an enormous impact on human rights in the UK and abroad".
Comptroller Scott Stringer approved the contract for the ShotSpotter Flex System on Monday.
The technology will pinpoint the exact location of a gunshot, allowing officers to respond quickly.
According to the Wall Street Journal, the two-year $1.5 million contract will allow the NYPD to target about 15 square miles with the new technology. Officials say that's up to five separate coverage areas in the five boroughs.
“There’s nothing in it about national security,” Walter Jones, a Republican congressman from North Carolina who has read the missing pages, contends. “It’s about the Bush Administration and its relationship with the Saudis.” Stephen Lynch, a Massachusetts Democrat, told me that the document is “stunning in its clarity,” and that it offers direct evidence of complicity on the part of certain Saudi individuals and entities in Al Qaeda’s attack on America. “Those twenty-eight pages tell a story that has been completely removed from the 9/11 Report,” Lynch maintains. Another congressman who has read the document said that the evidence of Saudi government support for the 9/11 hijacking is “very disturbing,” and that “the real question is whether it was sanctioned at the royal-family level or beneath that, and whether these leads were followed through.” Now, in a rare example of bipartisanship, Jones and Lynch have co-sponsored a resolution requesting that the Obama Administration declassify the pages.
The New Yorker
A detailed report, published last week by the London-based Remote Control Project, shines a light on the murky activities of the U.S. Special Operations Command by analyzing publicly available procurement contracts dated between 2009 and 2013.
USSOCOM encompasses four commands – from the Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marine Corps – and plays a key role in orchestrating clandestine U.S. military missions overseas.
Monday, September 8, 2014
The Times points out that, by doing so, such governments have ensured that nothing damaging to their interests will be published by the think tanks and, in fewer cases, have managed to impose their own concerns, and even used them for lobbying purposes.
The daily points its finger, on the one hand, directly at Japan, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Norway and Azerbaijan, and, on the other hand, at the Atlantic Council, the Brookings Institution, the Center for Global Development and the Center for Strategic and International Studies.
Not a single word in her lengthy article was devoted to the real purpose behind NAFTA: a stepping stone to the North American Union (NAU), which would then be a step closer to the de facto creation of the New World Order that NAFTA’s proponents have for years been working behind the scenes to achieve.
Satellite data prepared by Lord Christopher Monckton shows there has been no warming trend from October of 1996 to August of 2014 — 215 months. To put this in perspective, kids graduating from high school this year have not lived through any global warming in their lifetimes.
According to Monckton — the third Viscount Monckton of Brenchley and a former policy adviser to U.K. Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher — the rate of warming has been half of what climate scientists initially predicted in the early 1990s.
Saturday, September 6, 2014
Friday, September 5, 2014
Congress may be preparing to reinforce two horrible FISA Court decisions and an abusive government search with no debate in the coming weeks: a decision to give national security orders unlimited breadth, one making it legal for the government to investigate Americans for activities protected under the First Amendment, and the FBI’s “back door” searches of Americans’ communication content collected under the FISA Amendment Act Section 702 authority.
But a secret 2009 report issued by Clapper’s own office explicitly contemplates doing exactly that. The document, the 2009 Quadrennial Intelligence Community Review—provided by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden—is 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.”
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 andproprietary 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.
Thursday, September 4, 2014
Email exchanges between CIA public affairs officers and Ken Dilanian, now an Associated Press intelligence reporter who previously covered the CIA for the Times, show that Dilanian enjoyed a closely collaborative relationship with the agency, explicitly promising positive news coverage and sometimes sending the press office entire story drafts for review prior to publication. In at least one instance, the CIA’s reaction appears to have led to significant changes in the story that was eventually published in the Times.
Wednesday, September 3, 2014
Rare Glimpse Inside Court Proceeding on NSA Surveillance (ACLU v. Clapper 2d Cir. Oral Arguments Re: Section 215 Phone Metadata Program)
That’s because the DEA and FBI, as part of over 1000 analysts at 23 U.S. intelligence agencies, have the ability to peer over the NSA’s shoulder and see much of the NSA’s metadata with ICREACH. Metadata is transactional data about communications, such as numbers dialed, email addresses sent to, and duration of phone calls, and it can be incredibly revealing. ICREACH, exposed by a release of Snowden documents in The Intercept, is a system that enables sharing of metadata by “provid[ing] analysts with the ability to perform a one-stop search of information from a wide variety of separate databases.” It’s the latest in a string of documents that demonstrate how little the intelligence community distinguishes between counter-terrorism and ordinary crime—and just how close to home surveillance may really be.
The documents describe ICREACH as a “one-stop shopping tool for consolidated communications metadata analytic needs.” ICREACH brings together various databases with a single search query, allowing analysts to search literally billions of records. The tool allows sharing of “more than 30 different kinds of metadata on emails, phone calls, faxes, internet chats, and text messages, as well as location information collected from cellphones.” It is intended to include data from Five Eyes partners as well. While the program shares data obtained under Executive Order 12333, it includes data from U.S. persons.
ICREACH grew out of CRISSCROSS and PROTON, older tools that allowed the CIA, DEA, FBI, DIA, and NSA to share metadata. Metadata sharing in CRISSCROSS started with only date, time, duration, calling number, and called number. PROTON, which expanded CRISSCROSS, allowed sharing of far more information, including latitude and longitude coordinates, email headers, and travel records like flight numbers. The system had compatibility issues, and NSA never added the additional information PROTON could handle. PROTON also appears to have the capacity for sophisticated data analysis: “PROTON tools find other entities that behave in a similar manner to a specific target.”
While data sharing may seem innocuous, and perhaps even necessary, the melding of domestic law enforcement and national security agencies deserves far more attention. The blending of the war on drugs and the war on terror, and domestic and international law enforcement, and the move from targeted to mass, suspicionless surveillance, is leading to a place where everyone is a suspect and can be targeted at any time.