Saturday, December 31, 2016
By Matt Taibbi
Nearly a decade and a half after the Iraq-WMD faceplant, the American press is again asked to co-sign a dubious intelligence assessment
This dramatic story puts the news media in a jackpot. Absent independent verification, reporters will have to rely upon the secret assessments of intelligence agencies to cover the story at all.
Many reporters I know are quietly freaking out about having to go through that again. We all remember the WMD fiasco.
"It's déjà vu all over again" is how one friend put it.
You can see awkwardness reflected in the headlines that flew around the Internet Thursday. Some news agencies seemed split on whether to unequivocally declare that Russian hacking took place, or whether to hedge bets and put it all on the government to make that declaration, using "Obama says" formulations.
There was no “penetration of the U.S. electricity grid.” The truth was undramatic and banal. Burlington Electric, after receiving a Homeland Security notice sent to all U.S. utility companies about the malware code found in the DNC system, searched all its computers and found the code in a single laptop that was not connected to the electric grid.
Apparently, the Post did not even bother to contact the company before running its wildly sensationalistic claims, so Burlington Electric had to issue its own statement to the Burlington Free Press, which debunked the Post’s central claim (emphasis in original): “We detected the malware in a single Burlington Electric Department laptop not connected to our organization’s grid systems.”
So the key scary claim of the Post story — that Russian hackers had penetrated the U.S. electric grid — was false. All the alarmist tough-guy statements issued by political officials who believed the Post’s claim were based on fiction.
Even worse, there is zero evidence that Russian hackers were even responsible for the implanting of this malware on this single laptop. The fact that malware is “Russian-made” does not mean that only Russians can use it; indeed, like a lot of malware, it can be purchased (as Jeffrey Carr has pointed out in the DNC hacking context, assuming that Russian-made malware must have been used by Russians is as irrational as finding a Russian-made Kalishnikov AKM rifle at a crime scene and assuming the killer must be Russian).
Friday, December 30, 2016
Hackers have taken down the website of the Bilderberg Club, replacing the shadowy organization's page with a warning that the Atlanticist elites have a year to work for the benefit of humanity or their assets will be hacked next.
"Dear Bilderberg members, from now on, each one of you have 1 year (365 days) to truly work in favor of humans and not your private interests,” the hackers, who identified themselves as the "HackBack movement and Anonymous,” said in a message posted at bilderbergmeetings.org.
“Otherwise, we will find you and we will hack you,” they threatened the “Wealthy Elitico-Political 1 percent.”
“Mind the current situation: We control your expensive connected cars, we control your connected house security devices, we control your daughter’s laptop, we control your wife's mobile. We tape your secret meetings, we read your emails, we control your favorite escort girl’s smartwatch, we are inside your beloved banks and we are reading your assets. You won’t be safe anywhere near electricity anymore,” the hackers said.
The Bilderberg Club is a group of European and American leaders from the fields of politics, industry, finance, media and academia who have met annually since 1954. Their meetings are notoriously closed to the public and blacked out to press coverage.
Anti-government militants erupted with fury and calls for an armed uprising after President Obama designated a new national monument in Nevada that includes the site of the infamous Bundy Ranch standoff between right-wing agitators and federal agents.
Members of the self-styled militias that swarmed to the aid of Cliven Bundy outside of Las Vegas in 2014 — and who later joined the rancher’s sons to seize a federal wildlife refuge in rural Oregon — said they were readying for another showdown. Obama’s move on Wednesday to protect 300,000 acres of federal land around Gold Butte, close to the Bundy ranch, comes as two dozen people await trials for their roles in the Nevada and Oregon standoffs, which emboldened right-wing militants across America and became a powerful symbol of anti-government sentiment.
A review by The New York Times of thousands of court records and internal agency documents showed that over the last 10 years almost 200 employees and contract workers of the Department of Homeland Security have taken nearly $15 million in bribes while being paid to protect the nation’s borders and enforce immigration laws.
These employees have looked the other way as tons of drugs and thousands of undocumented immigrants were smuggled into the United States, the records show. They have illegally sold green cards and other immigration documents, have entered law enforcement databases and given sensitive information to drug cartels. In one case, the information was used to arrange the attempted murder of an informant.
The Times’s findings most likely undercount the amount of bribes because in many cases court records do not give a tally. The findings also do not include gifts, trips or money stolen by Homeland Security employees.
Thursday, December 29, 2016
SINCE US INTELLIGENCE agencies in October identified the Russian government as the source of hacker attacks that breached the Democratic party organizations and leaked private email conversations, President’s Obama’s White House has been searching for an appropriate response. Now, the administration has finally shot back, deporting Russian officials and calling out the individuals and organizations responsible for that hacking, in a set of measures never before seen in America’s digital diplomacy.
The White House on Thursday announced a severe series of measures aimed at punishing Russia’s state-sponsored political hackers and deterring further meddling in US elections. One element of the response, laid out in an executive order, includes sanctions against a handful of Russian organizations and individuals targeted by name. The US will expel 35 Russian diplomats believed to have acted as intelligence agents, and ban Russian personnel from two Russian-government compounds that the White House says were used for Russian intelligence gathering from American soil. Finally, the White House has expanded the scope of the president’s powers from an earlier executive order, giving the president the power to impose sanctions not only in response to cyberattacks that affect national security, but also against anyone “determined to be responsible for tampering, altering, or causing the misappropriation of information with the purpose or effect of interfering with or undermining election processes or institutions.”
TO DATE, THE only public evidence that the Russian government was responsible for hacks of the DNC and key Democratic figures has been circumstantial and far short of conclusive, courtesy of private research firms with a financial stake in such claims. Multiple federal agencies now claim certainty about the Kremlin connection, but they have yet to make public the basis for their beliefs.
Now, a never-before-published top-secret document provided by whistleblower Edward Snowden suggests the NSA has a way of collecting evidence of Russian hacks, because the agency tracked a similar hack before in the case of a prominent Russian journalist, who was also a U.S. citizen.
The Obama administration struck back at Russia on Thursday for its efforts to influence the 2016 election, ejecting 35 Russian intelligence operatives from the United States and imposing sanctions on Russia’s two leading intelligence services.
The administration also sanctioned four top officers of one of those services, the military intelligence unit known as the G.R.U., which the White House believes ordered the attacks on the Democratic National Committee and other political organizations.
The expulsion of the 35 diplomats was in response to the harassment of American diplomats in Russia, officials said. None of those officials are believed to be connected to the hacking, they said. In addition, the State Department announced the closing of two “recreational facilities” — one in New York, another in Maryland — that it said were used for Russian intelligence activities, although officials would not say whether they were specifically used in the election-related hacks.
In a sweeping set of announcements, the United States also released samples of malware and other indicators of Russian cyberactivity, including network addresses of computers commonly used by the Russians to launch attacks. Taken together, the actions amount to the strongest American response ever taken to a state-sponsored cyberattack aimed at the United States.
The FBI and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) on Thursday released a joint report detailing how federal investigators linked the Russian government to hacks of Democratic Party organizations.
The document makes clear reference to the hacks of the Democratic National Committee (DNC) and Hillary Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta, though it does not mention either by name.
The 13-page report provides technical details regarding tools and infrastructure used by Russian civilian and military intelligence services to “compromise and exploit networks and endpoints associated with the U.S. election, as well as a range of U.S. Government, political, and private sector entities.” (See the entire report below.)
DO PEOPLE BEHAVE DIFFERENTLY when they think they are being watched? When former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden revealed the mass surveillance of American citizens in June 2013, the question suddenly grew in importance. Can the behavior of an entire population, even in a modern democracy, be changed by awareness of surveillance? And what are the effects of other kinds of privacy invasions?
Jon Penney was nearing the end of a fellowship at Harvard Law School’s Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society in 2013, and he realized that Snowden’s disclosures presented an opportunity to study their effect on Americans’ online behavior. During research at Oxford the following year, Penney documented a sudden decline in Wikipedia searches for certain terrorism-related keywords: Al Qaeda, Hezbollah, dirty bomb, chemical weapon, and jihad, for example. More than a year later, when the study ended, such searches were still declining. “Given the lack of evidence of people being prosecuted or punished” for accessing such information, Penney wrote in the Berkeley Technology Law Review (which published his research last June), he judged it unlikely that “actual fear of prosecution can fully explain the chilling effects suggested by the findings of this study.” The better explanation, he wrote, is self-censorship.
Your phone, fitness tracker and home thermostat all will soon have something in common.
As time goes on, more of these devices are upgraded for internet connectivity. While they can offer a world of convenience at our fingertips, experts say consumers are in for a world of hurt if they don’t take steps to thwart a hacker’s attempts to steal data or gain control.
Just two months ago, hackers harnessed internet-connected devices, such as video cameras and digital video recorders, in an attack on a key part of the internet’s infrastructure. The attack caused internet outages and congestion across a wide swath of the country, according to the tech blog Krebs on Security.
Experts fear internet-connected toasters, refrigerators and thermometers — collectively called the Internet of Things — can be conscripted into a virtual army by hackers if companies continue to create products with weak or no security protections.
Despite the rise of populism and a resurgence of American values, it has become more dangerous than ever to speak out. A new war on patriots has begun…
In the visible future, Americans may see real tyranny take hold at home. The deep state, which operates both inside and outside of the official channels and independently of presidents and Congress, is waging a war against the constitutional rights, financial independence and the rugged individualism that has allowed freedom to exist to a certain degree in this country.
Speaking out as a patriot – despite the sense of victory in the people with the election of Donald Trump – has never been more dangerous.
This is the time when people will start to disappear. But it begins digitally….
At the same time the Schwitzgebels were laying the conceptual and (to a lesser degree) technological groundwork for electronic monitoring of offenders, the criminal justice system was discovering the legal ramifications. In the U.S., this involved debates over the Fourth Amendment’s guarantee against illegal searches and seizures — and how this edict dovetailed with the concept of privacy in the context of new technologies.
The first important test case, Katz v. United States, reached the U.S. Supreme Court in 1967. FBI agents had placed an electronic listening device in a phone booth they knew their target used to call in illegal gambling wagers. The court ruled that this practice violated the man’s Fourth Amendment rights, because although the phone booth was public space, its usage implied a reasonable expectation of privacy. The decision established the idea that Fourth Amendment protections did not begin and end with one’s home or private property, but also extended to spaces one occupies temporarily.
Wednesday, December 28, 2016
Shortly before the recent US presidential election, a dedicated cybersecurity hotline with Moscow was used by president Obama to warn the Russian government not to interfere with the election process through hacking operations.
Press reports compared the cybersecurity with the "Red Phone", which many people believe is used on the Hotline between Washington and Moscow. That's not true, and also Obama's message seems not to have been transmitted by phone, but through an e-mail channel maintained the Nuclear Risk Reduction Center (NRRC).
The fact that on October 31, Obama sent the Russians a direct message through the cyber channel was first reported on December 16. Three days later, NBC News came with some details about the content of the message. According to anonymous officials, the message contained phrases like "International law, including the law for armed conflict, applies to actions in cyberspace" and that "We will hold Russia to those standards."
However, another senior intelligence official told NBC that the message was "muddled" because there was no bright line laid down and no clear warning given about the consequences. The Russian response, said the official, was non-committal. It's worrying that multiple government officials are talking about the use of the hotline, thereby undermining the necessary confidentiality of such an important communications system.
Obama's warning from October 31 was not about the hacking of the Democratic National Committee (DNC) or of it's chairman John Podesta, which director of national intelligence James Clapper had previously said was conducted with the knowledge of the Russian leadership. Instead, the warning only referred to the concerns about hacking around the election process itself.
Attending a game used to be a low-tech pleasure: Buy a ticket and grab a bleacher seat. Now, with metal detectors and bag checks standard at almost all major sporting venues, companies have begun offering biometric and other tools to create the equivalent of express security lanes like those in airports. Those fingerprints and iris scans also allow teams to track fans’ behavior and purchasing habits, helping them rake in more revenue and fatten profits while triggering at the same time the privacy concerns that dog this sort of technology in other parts of the economy.
Clear, owned by Alclear LLC, also provides similar security services at 16 airports, where passengers can get fast-tracked for $179 a year. At stadiums, teams pay a licensing fee and fans nothing.
Other companies offer streamlining at stadiums and other venues to government-vetted members of PreCheck, the Transportation Security Administration’s service for airline travelers. And Walt Disney Co. theme parks offer expedited fingerprint-based identity scanning to customers who’ve bought certain passes.
With weeks to go in his tenure, President Obama on Friday moved to end the controversial “dual-hat” arrangement under which the National Security Agency and the nation’s cyberwarfare command are headed by the same military officer.
It is unclear whether President-elect Donald Trump will support such a move. A transition official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the next administration’s plans, said only that “cybersecurity has been and will be a central focus of the transition effort.”
Pressure had grown on Obama to make such a move on the grounds that the two jobs are too large for one person to handle, that the two organizations have fundamentally different missions and that U.S. Cyber Command, or Cybercom, needed its own leader to become a full-fledged fighting force.
Corey Statham had $46 in his pockets when he was arrested in Ramsey County, Minn., and charged with disorderly conduct. He was released two days later, and the charges were dismissed.
But the county kept $25 of Mr. Statham’s money as a “booking fee.” It returned the remaining $21 on a debit card subject to an array of fees. In the end, it cost Mr. Statham $7.25 to withdraw what was left of his money.
The Supreme Court will soon consider whether to hear Mr. Statham’s challenge to Ramsey County’s fund-raising efforts, which are part of a national trend to extract fees and fines from people who find themselves enmeshed in the criminal justice system.
On this episode of The Geopolitical Report, we counter the establishment’s narrative on the conflict in Syria and the flashpoint of Daraa, a town near the Syria-Jordan border where the CIA, working with the Muslim Brotherhood, attacked police and set the stage for a conflict that has so far claimed the lives of more than 400,000 Syrians. The proxy war is designed to take down a secular government and replace it with a Salafist principality controlled by the Brotherhood, a longtime CIA and British intelligence asset.
KURT NIMMO http://www.newsbud.com/2016/12/27/the-real-syria-story-no-one-wants-you-to-know-about/
Tuesday, December 27, 2016
High street shops including Marks & Spencer are secretly tracking the movements of their customers using their smartphones, it has emerged.
Companies such as footwear supplier Dune, Morrisons and Topshop are among major retailers taking advantage of new technology which picks up the pings emitted by phones as they look for wi-fi networks to join.
The ceilings of many major stores now contain small white receiver boxes which are continuously gathering data.
The shops use the data not only to record the numbers of their customers, but also to see where they move about in the shop, so they can alter the layout to make walking between departments more convenient, or steer customers towards goods they may have missed.
Some retailers have even started sending location-based adverts direct to smartphones of customers as they move around the store, while some Westfield shopping malls now send discounts on the spot if a shopper checks the price at a rival store.
The end of the year is approaching, and data concerning government abuses of power has begun pouring in.
According to Facebook’s Global Government Requests Report, government’s requests for Facebook account data rose 27 percent in the first half of 2016.
Facebook’s official announcement explained that requests for user data went from 46,710 in the last half of 2015 to 59,229 in the first half of 2016. At least 56 percent of these requests, Facebook added, “contained a non-disclosure order that prohibited us from notifying the user.”
Law enforcement agencies from across the globe, Facebook continued, often send restriction requests demanding Facebook remove content from its forums. Fortunately, these requests dropped substantially this year, from 55,827 in the last half of 2015 to 9,663 in 2016 — an 87 percent drop. Most of the 2015 requests revolved around “French content restrictions of a single image from the November 13, 2015 terrorist attacks.”
Additionally, Facebook used its report to disclose for the first time what the company does when law enforcement agencies request “snapshots” of a user account that might be relevant to law enforcement for undisclosed reasons.
These “preservation requests,” as they are known, are requests to “preserve data pending receipt of formal legal process.” They are often processed by the social media website as snapshots, which are preserved temporarily. According to Facebook, the company does not “disclose any of the preserved records unless and until we receive formal and valid legal process.” In the first half of 2016, Facebook received 38,675 preservation requests regarding 67,129 accounts, a staggering number of requests.
Further, Facebook insisted it does not give law enforcement any “back doors” to user information. Adding that requests are only fulfilled if they meet legal requirements or “legal sufficiency,” as Facebook puts it, they claim to “apply a rigorous approach to every government request [they] receive to protect the information of the people who use [their] services,” the company added. But this rigorous approach is not rigorous enough if “reforms” designed to avoid privacy overreach in America simply don’t go far enough.
Alice Salles theAntiMedia.org...http://theantimedia.org/us-government-access-facebook-data/
The U.S. government has quietly started to ask foreign travelers to hand over their social media accounts upon arriving in the country, a program that aims to spot potential terrorist threats but which civil liberties advocates have long opposed as a threat to privacy.
The program has been active since Tuesday, asking travelers arriving to the U.S. on visa waivers to voluntarily enter information associated with their online presence, including "Facebook, Google+, Instagram, LinkedIn, and YouTube, as well as a space for users to input their account names on those sites," Politico reports.
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security first proposed the idea in June, when it was met with opposition and criticism from rights groups, consumer advocates, and other entities, including the Internet Association, which represents Facebook, Google, and Twitter.
On October 8, 2016, I filed a Freedom of Information Law request with the New York Attorney General Office, asking for every document regarding the Donald J. Trump Foundation and the Eric Trump Foundation that has already been released to any other requesters.
I received 3,182 pages. The majority is state and federal filings of the Trump Foundation, plus a good deal of
communications to and from New York tax and charity bureaus, as well as the NY Attorney General and the IRS. Some of this covers the donations made to And Justice For All, an organization that financially supported the re-election of Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi, who had been considering joining a lawsuit against Trump University (she changed her mind after the donation). A tiny bit of the material involves the Eric Trump Foundation.
In the final hours before the Christmas holiday weekend, U.S. President Barack Obama on Friday quietly signed the 2017 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) into law—and buried within the $619 billion military budget (pdf) is a controversial provision that establishes a national anti-propaganda center that critics warn could be dangerous for press freedoms.
The Countering Disinformation and Propaganda Act, introduced by Republican Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio, establishes the Global Engagement Center under the State Department which coordinates efforts to "recognize, understand, expose, and counter foreign state and non-state propaganda and disinformation efforts aimed at undermining United Sates national security interests."
Further, the law authorizes grants to non-governmental agencies to help "collect and store examples in print, online, and social media, disinformation, misinformation, and propaganda" directed at the U.S. and its allies, as well as "counter efforts by foreign entities to use disinformation, misinformation, and propaganda to influence the policies and social and political stability" of the U.S. and allied nations.
On December 23, 2013, in response to a pair of Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests, the Central Intelligence Agency released 574 pages of emails between various national security reporters and the agency’s public affairs office. The massive trove of material remained out of the public eye for a year, but in late 2014, it finally surfaced in a series of articles published by the online investigative magazine, The Intercept.
The articles landed like a bombshell, revealing how some of America’s most prominent national security reporters were functioning essentially as unpaid CIA assets, sending the agency detailed story notes and, in at least one case, entire drafts of articles prior to publication.
The CIA has a long history of “spooking the news,” dating back to its earliest days when legendary spymaster Allen Dulles and his top staff drank and dined regularly with the press elite of New York and Washington—including the top executives and editors of the New York Times, Washington Post, Time, Newsweek, and CBS—and the agency boasted hundreds of US and foreign journalists as paid and unpaid assets.
In 1977, after this systematic media manipulation was publicly exposed by congressional investigations, the CIA created an Office of Public Affairs that was tasked with guiding press coverage of intelligence matters in a more transparent fashion. The agency insists that it no longer maintains a stable of friendly American journalists, and that its efforts to influence the press are much more above board.
But, in truth, the US intelligence empire’s efforts to manufacture the truth and mold public opinion are more vast and varied than ever before.
Saturday, December 24, 2016
Friday, December 23, 2016
Satellite-connected devices do all the hard work of navigation for us: plan journeys, plot distances, tell us where we are and where we’re going. The age of the highly skilled cartographer may be coming to an end. But in the past few hundred years—since European states began carving the world between them—the winners of colonial contests, World War battles, and Cold War skirmishes were often those who had the best maps. In addition to their indispensable role in seafaring and battle strategy, “good maps,” writes Danny Lewis at Smithsonian, have been “an integral part of the tradecraft of espionage.”
The CIA will tell you as much… or they will now, at least, since they’ve declassified decades of once-secret maps from the days when they “relied on geographers and cartographers for planning and executing operations around the world” rather than on “digital mapping technologies and satellite images.”
Next year, the US government will hit its 25-year deadline to release approximately 3,000 never-before-seen documents, and 34,000 previously redacted files relating to the assassination of US President John F. Kennedy.
In 1991, Oliver Stone’s film “JFK” renewed public interest in a probable conspiracy surrounding the events leading to the November 22, 1963 assassination. The massive surge in interest lead to the passage of the 1992 JFK Records Act, which gave the government 25 years to release all documents relating to what happened in Dealey Plaza on that day.
The National Archives annex in Maryland is currently processing, scanning, and preparing for the large trove of files to be released.
Read more: https://sputniknews.com/us/201612211048811123-jfk-assassination-files-oliver-stone/
THE HOUSE PERMANENT Select Committee on Intelligence on Thursday unveiled its full 37-page report on its three-year investigation into Edward Snowden, drawing even more criticism for conclusions that have been called biased by supporters of the former NSA contractor.
The report, released just days before a holiday weekend, is an extended version of a highly acerbic — and disputed — unclassified summary the committee published in September, describing the former NSA contractor as a “serial exaggerator and fabricator.”
Snowden and other critics have vehemently denied the report’s conclusions.
William Cooper Archive: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLD050BDB1556D113E
Thursday, December 22, 2016
State police forces and highway patrols in the US have collectively spent millions of dollars on this sort of technology to break into and extract data from mobile phones, according to documents obtained by Motherboard. Over 2,000 pages of invoices, purchase orders, communications, and other documents lay out in unprecedented detail how one company in particular has cornered the trade in mobile phone forensics equipment across the United States.
Cellebrite, an Israel-based firm, sells tools that can pull data from most mobile phones on the market, such as contact lists, emails, and wiped messages. Cellebrite's products can also circumvent the passcode locks or other security protections on many current mobile phones. The gear is typically used to gather evidence from a criminal suspect's device after it has been seized, and although not many public examples of abuse are available, Cellebrite’s tools have been used by non-US authorities to prosecute dissidents.
Previous reports have focused on federal agencies' acquisition of Cellebrite tools. But as smartphones have proliferated and increasingly become the digital center of our lives, the demand and supply of mobile forensics tools has trickled down to more local bodies.
The House Intelligence Committee on Thursday released a 33-page report portraying the former intelligence contractor Edward J. Snowden, who in 2013 disclosed classified files about American surveillance operations, as a habitually disgruntled worker who damaged national security and has been in contact with Russian intelligence services in Moscow.
“Although Snowden’s objective may have been to inform the public, the information he released is also available to Russian, Chinese, Iranian and North Korean intelligence services; any terrorist with internet access; and many others who wish to do harm to the United States,” the report said.
Mr. Snowden, who has been living as a fugitive in Russia since disclosing archives of National Security Agency files to journalists in Hong Kong in June 2013, responded with a series of posts on Twitter that ridiculed the report as riddled with “obvious falsehoods” and said that his critics “can present no evidence of harmful intent, foreign influence, or harm.”
“Bottom line: this report’s core claims are made without evidence, and are often contrary to both common sense and the public record,” he added.
Edward Snowden “has had and continues to have contact” with Russian intelligence services since arriving in Moscow three years ago, newly declassified portions of a congressional report released on Thursday claim.
The House intelligence committee released the declassified portions to provide what the panel’s chairman called “a fuller account of Edward Snowden’s crimes and the reckless disregard he has shown for US national security”.
The report is highly critical of Snowden, the former NSA contractor who revealed the scale of the NSA’s surveillance program, claiming that he did not attempt to communicate his concerns to his supervisors before providing the Guardian with top-secret NSA documents.
However, the report’s credibility was immediately condemned by Snowden’s lawyer Ben Wizner. He dismissed the report and insisted that Snowden acted to inform the public.
According to CNBC, college enrollment peaked in 2011, and has been decreasing ever since. This is no doubt in part to a family’s ability to pay the tuition, room and board and other related expenses. For example, in order to pay for a year of college at Harvard today would take the median household income nearly one year of paychecks. Back in 1971, it would have taken about 13 weeks of paychecks per the household median income.
Today the student debt is over $1.26 trillion dollars with over 44 million Americans in debt from student loans. 2016’s graduates on average are over $36,000 dollars in debt, which is up 6% from just one year ago.
What can be done to alleviate this situation? Why do banks get bailed out (2008 Lehman crisis) for cheating the world, while students must continue to pay a debt? Why is a private institution (The Federal Reserve) in charge of this nation’s money and finances? How will students continue to be able to go to college when the price continues to skyrocket as the federal minimum wage stays stuck at $7.25 an hour? At some point soon, the masses won’t take it anymore from the banking cartel. The education system is in for some major changes very soon.
Wednesday, December 21, 2016
Yahoo Inc's secret scanning of customer emails at the behest of a U.S. spy agency is part of a growing push by officials to loosen constitutional protections Americans have against arbitrary governmental searches, according to legal documents and people briefed on closed court hearings.
The order on Yahoo from the secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) last year resulted from the government's drive to change decades of interpretation of the U.S. Constitution's Fourth Amendment right of people to be secure against "unreasonable searches and seizures," intelligence officials and others familiar with the strategy told Reuters.
The unifying idea, they said, is to move the focus of U.S. courts away from what makes something a distinct search and toward what is "reasonable" overall.
The basis of the argument for change is that people are making much more digital data available about themselves to businesses, and that data can contain clues that would lead to authorities disrupting attacks in the United States or on U.S. interests abroad.
While it might technically count as a search if an automated program trawls through all the data, the thinking goes, there is no unreasonable harm unless a human being looks at the result of that search and orders more intrusive measures or an arrest, which even then could be reasonable.
Civil liberties groups and some other legal experts said the attempt to expand the ability of law enforcement agencies and intelligence services to sift through vast amounts of online data, in some cases without a court order, was in conflict with the Fourth Amendment because many innocent messages are included in the initial sweep.
THE EUROPEAN UNION’S TOP court has severely undermined the British government’s mass surveillance powers in a new ruling that could rein in police and spy agency investigations.
In a judgment handed down in Luxembourg on Wednesday, the European Court of Justice declared that the “general and indiscriminate retention” of data about people’s communications and locations was inconsistent with privacy rights. The court stated that the “highly invasive” bulk storage of private data “exceeds the limits of what is strictly necessary and cannot be considered to be justified, within a democratic society.”
Tuesday, December 20, 2016
The Department of Homeland Security and Justice Department have spent collectively more than $95 million on secret cellphone tracking technology and own more than 400 cell-site simulators that can be used to zero in covertly on the locations of cellphones, according to a congressional report.
A report released Monday by the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee reveals a tally of how many cell-site simulators federal agencies own and recommends that lawmakers adopt a national standard to govern use of the devices by local and federal law enforcement agencies.
With 194 cell-site simulators, the FBI has the most of any of the agencies identified as owning the devices, which often are referred to by brand names including Stingray or Hailstorm.
The U.S. Marshals Service has 70; U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement has 59; U.S. Customs and Border Protection and the Drug Enforcement Administration each has 33; U.S. Secret Service has 32; the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives has 13; the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigations division has two; and the Treasury inspector general has one.
The report does not indicate the specific types of devices the agencies have but lists the costs of the individual devices purchased as $41,000 to $500,000.
A new congressional investigation has determined that the Obama administration fired a top scientist and intimidated staff at the Department of Energy in order to further its climate change agenda, according to a new report that alleges the administration ordered top officials to obstruct Congress in order to forward this agenda.
Rep. Lamar Smith (R., Texas), chair of the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology, released a wide-ranging report on Tuesday that shows how senior Obama administration officials retaliated against a leading scientist and plotted ways to block a congressional inquiry surrounding key research into the impact of radiation.
A top DoE scientist who liaised with Congress on the matter was fired by the Obama administration for being too forthright with lawmakers, according to the report, which provides an in-depth look at the White House’s efforts to ensure senior staffers toe the administration’s line.
The report also provides evidence that the Obama administration worked to kill legislation in order to ensure that it could receive full funding for its own hotly contested climate change agenda.
The report additionally discovered efforts by the Obama administration to censor the information given to Congress, interfering with the body’s ability to perform critical oversight work.
The FBI believed Huma Abedin’s laptop computer did have evidence she and her boss, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, mishandled classified information, according to a search warrant released Tuesday that shows the basis agents had for upending the presidential election with their controversial election-season probe.
Agents were also hoping to see if anyone had used the laptop to hack into the Clinton emails, according to the affidavit agents filed to justify the warrant.
Ms. Abedin, one of Mrs. Clinton’s top aides from her time in the State Department and again on the campaign trail, shared the laptop with her now-estranged husband Anthony Weiner. The FBI seized the laptop in a probe of Mr. Weiner, but discovered it also had messages between Mrs. Clinton and Ms. Abedin.
“The Lockerbie trial is “the most disgraceful miscarriage of justice in Scotland for 100 years. Every lawyer who has read the judgment says ‘this is nonsense’. It is nonsense.”
Robert Black QC FRSE –Professor Emeritus of Scots Law in the University of Edinburgh and best known as the “Architect of the Lockerbie Trial”
Since the Snowden-revelations, several countries adopted new laws governing their (signals) intelligence agencies, but instead of restricting the collection capabilities, they rather expand them. Previously we examined the new laws that have recently been implemented in France. This time we will take a look at the Netherlands, where a new law for its two secret services is now being discussed by the parliament.
The situation in the Netherlands is different in at least two major aspects from many other countries. First, there is no institutional separation between domestic security and foreign intelligence as the two secret services combine both tasks. Second, the current law restricts bulk or untargeted collection to wireless communications only, so cable access is only allowed for targeted and individualized interception.
The two Dutch secret services, which were both created during a major reorganisation in 2002, are:
- General Intelligence and Security Service (Dutch: Algemene Inlichtingen- en Veiligheidsdienst, or AIVD), which falls under the Interior Ministry and is mainly responsible for domestic security issues, but also has a small branch that gathers intelligence information from and about foreign countries. In 2015, AIVD had over 1300 employees and a budget of 213 million euros.
- Military Intelligence and Security Service (Dutch: Militaire Inlichtingen- en Veiligheidsdienst, or MIVD), which falls under the Defence Ministry and is mainly responsible for military intelligence related to peacekeeping missions and military operations overseas. They also have to provide security for the armed forces. In 2015, MIVD had over 800 employees and a budget of approximately 85 million euros.
Monday, December 19, 2016
The Electoral College has affirmed Donald J. Trump as the nation’s 45th president, pushing him past the 270-vote threshold for election, with scant evidence of the anti-Trump revolt among electors that some of his critics had hoped would occur.
U.S. taxpayers spent $95 million so 434 devices across the country could secretly transform their cell phones into real-time tracking devices, according to a new House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform (HOGR) report.
The Department of Justice (DOJ) spent more than $71 million on 310 cell-site simulators, also known as Stingrays, between 2010 and 2014, and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) spent more than $24 million on 124 devices in that same period, the report found. The bipartisan report urged Congress to adopt laws restricting Stingray use, as the technology raises First and Fourth Amendment concerns.
Christine Lagarde has been found guilty of negligence in approving a massive payout of taxpayers’ money to controversial French businessman Bernard Tapie but avoided a jail sentence.
A French court convicted the head of the International Monetary Fund and former government minister, who had faced a €15,000 (£12,600) fine and up to a year in prison. But it decided she should not be punished and that the conviction would not constitute a criminal record.
Author: F. William Engdahl
The annual meeting of the secretive Bilderberg Group took place this year in Dresden, Germany from June 9-12. Notable is their terminology in an official press release announcing topics for discussion. Point three (not necessarily in terms of importance) is curiously titled “Europe: migration, growth, reform, vision, unity.” Curious is the choice of the word “migration” for the EU refugee crisis that began in Spring 2015 as Turkey opened the detention centers and refugee camps from Syrian war refugees and pointed them to the EU. More about that later on. Here I want to concentrate on the little-known historical ties or links between the Bilderberg Meetings, founded in 1954, and the Vatican, and the role of both in heating up the current EU refugee instability.
A Turkish policeman has shot dead Russia's ambassador to Turkey, Andrei Karlov, apparently in protest at Russia's involvement in Aleppo.
Several other people were reportedly also injured in the attack, a day after protests in Turkey over Russian support for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
The killer, who was in civilian clothes, opened fire at point blank range as Mr Karlov made a speech.
He is said to have died in a shootout with police soon afterwards.
Mr Karlov was rushed to hospital, reports said, but his death was later confirmed by the Russian foreign ministry.
Sunday, December 18, 2016
Saudi Arabia's foreign minister has been lobbying US legislators to change a law allowing victims of the September 11, 2001 attacks to sue the kingdom, he said on Sunday.
Adel al-Jubeir told reporters he has just returned from an extended stay in the United States, which was partly "to try to persuade them that there needs to be an amendment of the law", the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act (JASTA).
The US Congress voted overwhelmingly in September to override President Barack Obama's veto of the JASTA.
Fifteen of the 19 Al-Qaeda hijackers who carried out the 9/11 attacks were Saudi. But Riyadh denies any ties to the plotters who killed nearly 3,000 people.
The US intelligence community is reportedly slated to reveal an estimate of the number of Americans, whose online communications and activities have been under government surveillance. The monitoring was part of the comprehensive surveillance programs intended to keep an eye on foreigners. The disclosures are expected to be made public as early as January, according to a report.
The estimate was reportedly requested by members of the U.S. House of Representatives Judiciary Committee and is slated to come as Congress begins deliberating the possibility of reforming current surveillance authority, known as Section 702, under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.
The provision was added in 2008 and has been widely criticised by some as it provided intelligence agencies to conduct back-door, warrantless surveillance of citizens.
Saturday, December 17, 2016
Friday, December 16, 2016
Hillary Clinton said on Thursday that the hacking attacks carried out by Russia against her campaign and the Democratic National Committee were intended “to undermine our democracy” and were ordered by Vladimir V. Putin “because he has a personal beef against me.”
Speaking to a group of donors in Manhattan, Mrs. Clinton said that Mr. Putin, the Russian president, had never forgiven her for the accusation she made in 2011, when she was secretary of state, that parliamentary elections his country held that year were rigged.
Hillary Clinton, speaking to donors Thursday night, said President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia directed the cyberattack against Democrats to settle a personal score with her. The New York Times
“Putin publicly blamed me for the outpouring of outrage by his own people, and that is the direct line between what he said back then and what he did in this election,” Mrs. Clinton said.
It is the first time Mrs. Clinton has publicly addressed the impact of the hacks since the intelligence community concluded that they were specifically aimed at harming her campaign.
FBI Director James B. Comey and Director of National Intelligence James R. Clapper Jr. have backed a CIA assessment that Russia intervened in the 2016 election in part to help Donald Trump win the presidency, according to U.S. officials.
Comey’s support for the CIA’s conclusion suggests that the leaders of the three agencies are in agreement on Russian intentions, contrary to suggestions by some lawmakers that the FBI disagreed with the CIA.
“Earlier this week, I met separately with (Director) FBI James Comey and DNI Jim Clapper, and there is strong consensus among us on the scope, nature, and intent of Russian interference in our presidential election,” CIA Director John Brennan said in a message to the agency’s workforce, according to U.S. officials who have seen the message.
Exactly thirty years ago, President Ronald Reagan announced to the nation – after weeks of denials – that members of his White House staff had engaged in a web of covert intrigue linking illicit U.S. support for a guerrilla war in Central America with an illegal and politically explosive arms-for-hostages bargain with the Islamic Republic of Iran. The revelation quickly led to a new phrase – “Iran-Contra” – which became synonymous with political hubris, government incompetence, and dishonesty in the public sphere.
Over the years, the National Security Archive has published major document collections, books, and web postings about Iran-Contra that expand on all of these areas of inquiry (see links in left column). Today, the Archive posts a selection of materials that spotlight the last of the elements above – deceitfulness – whose relevance has sadly become more pronounced after a bruising political season marked by examples and allegations of widespread public contempt for facts, evidence and the truth.
Operation Condor, the trans-border, multinational effort by Southern Cone secret police services to track down and “liquidate” opponents of their regimes in the 1970s, targeted officials of Amnesty International as well as other human rights groups, and planned overseas missions in Paris and London, according to a comprehensive CIA report on Condor operations just released by the Obama administration. “The basic mission of Condor teams to be sent overseas,” according to the CIA, was “to liquidate top-level terrorist leaders. Non-terrorists also were reportedly candidates for assassination,” the CIA reported in May 1977, and “some leaders of Amnesty Internation[al] were mentioned as targets.”
The secret CIA report is included among more than 500 pages of documents on repression during the military dictatorship in Argentina declassified by the Obama administration this week as part of a commitment made by the president in March 2016 when he visited Buenos Aires on the 40th anniversary of the military coup. “I believe we have a responsibility to confront the past with honesty and transparency,” Obama stated then.
Former CIA agent speaks on the Iran-Contra scandal, and explores how it represents the logical outgrowth of United States foreign policy. Stockwell also addresses: CIA involvement in drug smuggling, gun running, and political assassination. Concludes with a question and answer session.
Date Recorded on: University of Southern California, 4 Nov. 1987.
Date Recorded on: University of Southern California, 4 Nov. 1987.
Joe Sheahan is in the fight of his life to save his family’s Nevada mine from being swallowed up by the federal government's mysterious Area 51.
Technically, Sheahan’s family no longer even holds title to Groom Mine, which it owned for 130 years. The federal government took the deed through eminent domain after first offering the Sheahans $333,300, a price family lawyer James Leavitt called “embarrassingly low.” The family is fighting back in federal court, but if the Sheahans and Uncle Sam can’t agree on a value, it could wind up before a jury.
Possibly more interesting is what the federal government wants with a parched stretch of rural Nevada desert and an old mine that hasn’t been active in decades. The area is known for two of the feds’ most closely guarded secrets: nuclear testing and UFOs.
The F.B.I. monitored Muhammad Ali and his ties to the Nation of Islam, newly released documents from 1966 show.
The F.B.I. said in the 142 pages of documents that it had informants close to the Nation of Islam who let them know the details of Ali’s involvement with the group. That involvement first came into full view right after Ali first won the heavyweight title, by beating Sonny Liston in 1964.
It was then that Ali affirmed he was a member of the group and that he would no longer be known as Cassius Clay but as Muhammad Ali.
Years later, Ali converted to orthodox Islam. But in 1966 the F.B.I. focus was on the Nation of Islam, which a hodgepodge of agency documents refer to as an “all-Negro, semireligious, antiwhite” organization. The records, which refer to Ali as Clay, show that the bureau was paying particularly close attention to the group’s leader, Elijah Muhammad.
Thursday, December 15, 2016
Social media giant Facebook has announced the site will prompt users if they attempt to share news articles disputed by third parties, the latest in an array of efforts to stifle independent media.
In an announcement Thursday, Facebook said it would aid the spread of “hoaxes and fake news” by partnering with media organizations and fact-checkers, including Snopes, ABC News, The Washington Post and The Poynter Institute.
Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio held a press conference in Phoenix on Thursday afternoon where he announced, after a five year investigation, his detectives have determined that the birth certificate presented by President Barack Obama was a fraudulently created document which has been represented as an official copy of the original certificate. Arpaio said his investigators have been working this case since August 2011 after the Tea Party asked him to investigate.
“We had to follow the evidence,” Arpaio said during the press briefing. The lead investigator, Mike Zullo, presented a video which claimed to show the Obama birth certificate shows “9 points of forgery.” He claims it was copied from another document. He says they consulted several experts from all across the world including in Italy.
The Cato Institute hosted a day-long conference with intelligence officials, security experts and professors on government surveillance and privacy concerns. This portion included a panel discussion debating the limitations of cyber hacking powers by the FBI and other law enforcement agencies. Recent rule changes to the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure allows federal agents to search millions of private computers across the country with a single search warrant.
One of the FBI's most wanted hackers who was behind the largest theft of financial data has finally been arrested at the JFK airport in New York.
Joshua Samuel Aaron is accused of being part of a hacking group that attacked several major financial institutions, including JPMorgan Chase, and according to the officials, which was "the largest theft of user data from a U.S. financial institution in history."
Aaron was believed to have been living as a fugitive in Moscow, Russia after being charged with hacking crimes in 2015, which exposed the personal information of more than 100 Million people.
Barack Obama has agreed to preserve the Senate’s landmark investigation into the CIA’s use of torture after 9/11, but his decision ensures that the document remains out of public view for at least 12 years and probably longer.
Obama’s decision, revealed in a letter from White House counsel W Neil Eggleston, prevents Republican Richard Burr, the Senate intelligence committee chairman who has been highly critical of the investigation, from destroying existing classified copies of the December 2014 report.
Daniel Jones, a former committee staffer who led the torture inquiry, criticized the preservation as inadequate.
“The bar for positive White House action on this is incredibly low. Preserving the full 6,700-page report under the Presidential Records Act only ensures the report will not be destroyed,” Jones said. “It does little else.”
The full Senate torture report, which documented brutality by the CIA against at least 119 detained terrorism suspects, will be held out of public view at Obama’s presidential library.
And what'll you do now, my blue-eyed son?
And what'll you do now, my darling young one?
I'm a-goin' back out 'fore the rain starts a-fallin'
I'll walk to the depths of the deepest black forest
Where the people are many and their hands are all empty
Where the pellets of poison are flooding their waters
Where the home in the valley meets the damp dirty prison
And the executioner's face is always well hidden
Where hunger is ugly, where souls are forgotten
Where black is the color, where none is the number
And I'll tell it and think it and speak it and breathe it
And reflect it from the mountain so all souls can see it
Then I'll stand on the ocean until I start sinkin'
But I'll know my song well before I start singin'
And it's a hard, it's a hard, it's a hard, it's a hard
It's a hard rain's a-gonna fall
Wednesday, December 14, 2016
A federal appeals court ruled last week that the government did not violate the Fourth Amendment rights of Mohamed Mohamud, a Somali-American student arrested by the FBI in 2010, when it spied on him under authorities granted under Section 702 of the Federal Intelligence Surveillance Act. The decision is a setback to a much needed rollback of Section 702 powers, which appear to be used, as this case suggests, for the kind of operations that could be characterized as entrapment, rather than anything that might actually prevent real terrorist attacks.
The case of United States v. Mohamud presented the best opportunity for critics of FISA to challenge it on constitutional grounds, since the government admitted some of the evidence it had collected against Mohamud was collected under a provision of the law permitting the federal government to collect all kinds of communications between U.S. citizens and foreign individuals the government has targeted for terror-related investigations.
In October, the Department of Homeland Security and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence released a joint statement blaming the Russian government for hacking the DNC. In it, they state their attribution plainly:
The U.S. Intelligence Community (USIC) is confident that the Russian Government directed the recent compromises of e-mails from US persons and institutions, including from US political organizations. The recent disclosures of alleged hacked e-mails on sites like DCLeaks.com and WikiLeaks and by the Guccifer 2.0 online persona are consistent with the methods and motivations of Russian-directed efforts. These thefts and disclosures are intended to interfere with the US election process.
What’s missing is any evidence at all. If this federal confidence is based on evidence that’s being withheld from the public for any reason, that’s one thing — secrecy is their game. But if the U.S. Intelligence Community is asking the American electorate to believe them, to accept as true their claim that our most important civic institution was compromised by a longtime geopolitical nemesis, we need them to show us why.
Online retailers in America will soon be required by law to disclose to state governments what purchases their customers – meaning, you – have made.
That extraordinary situation is the result of a long-running legal case that the US Supreme Court this week refused to hear. This means a decision by the Tenth Circuit [PDF] requiring out-of-state retailers to report to the Colorado state government the details of all purchases – including what that purchase was and who bought it – stands.
So if you bought a dildo in Denver, some bureaucrat is going to be informed about it.
Colorado is not the only state pushing the requirement. Vermont will also make the same requirement three months after Colorado starts imposing the law. And other states including Alabama, South Dakota, Tennessee and Wyoming have approved similar rules.
Unsurprisingly, businesses and privacy advocates are up in arms.
If president-elect Donald Trump keeps his promise, surplus military grenade launchers, bayonets, tracked armored vehicles and high-powered firearms and ammunition will once again be available to state and local U.S. police departments.
National police organizations say they'll hold Trump to that promise.
President Barack Obama issued an executive order restricting that access in 2015 amid an outcry over police use of armored vehicles and other war-fighting gear to confront protesters in Ferguson, Missouri, after the fatal shooting of Michael Brown. Since then, federal officials have recalled more than 1,800 items, which have been destroyed through target practice or otherwise disposed of, officials say.
Tuesday, December 13, 2016
The NDAA will establish the Center for Information Analysis and Response. It will “track and evaluate counterfactual narratives abroad that threaten the national security interests of the United States and United States allies” and develop and disseminate “fact-based narratives and analysis to counter propaganda.”
Although the bill indicates the effort will be focused abroad, many of the websites cited by PropOrNot and the Post are located in the United States. The fact alternative media websites are situated in the United States, however, will not moderate action the government takes. The establishment argues domestic websites are part of a large Russian effort to penetrate media in the United States and this represents a serious threat that must be dealt with.
If the legislation is signed by the president it will “increase the authority, resources, and mandate of the Global Engagement Center to include state actors like Russia and China in addition to violent extremists.”
The Global Engagement Center is based out of the State Department. It offers services ranging from planning thematic social media campaigns, providing factual information countering alleged disinformation, building capacity for selected third parties to effectively utilize social media, and research and evaluation, explains Harry Henderson. In short, the center will design propaganda for the government.
“The Center will be led by the State Department, but with the active senior level participation of the Department of Defense, USAID, the Broadcasting Board of Governors, the Intelligence Community, and other relevant agencies,” Portman explains.