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Wednesday, January 30, 2013

'Idle No More' and colonial Canada...

Via

Canada's colonial reality is now in the spotlight, as Idle No More protests voice the struggles of indigenous people against sustained political and economic oppression.


Thousands are joining historic actions to call for fundamental changes in Canada's relations to aboriginal people.

Central to Idle No More are longstanding indigenous demands for justice around land rights, economic resources and self-determination that rest at the heart of both Canada's history and future.

Winter hunger strike

Idle No More protests first took place across Canada to mark International Human Rights Day on December 10, 2012.

Early the next morning Chief Theresa Spence, from Attawapiskat First Nation in northern Ontario, began a hunger strike in a tepee on Victoria Island, just minutes away from Canada's Parliament in Ottawa.

After surviving on only broth and medicinal tea for over six weeks, Chief Spence ended the political fast after inspiring major protests across Canada and parallel hunger strikes in support.

Chief Spence was hospitalised hours after the strike ended, spending a day and a half under medical supervision for dehydration and deterioration resulting from 44 days without food.

Politics surrounding aboriginal struggles in Canada are different after the historic action by Chief Spence, a catalyst for the ongoing Idle No More grassroots movement.

Canada's major opposition parties in Ottawa and the Assembly of First Nations (AFN) have co-signed a joint declaration in response, outlining "the need for fundamental change in the relationship of First Nations and the Crown", a text nearly unimaginable prior to Idle No More.

Key to the declaration is the symbolic mention of the Crown, also highlighted by Chief Spence during the hunger strike in calls to include the Governor General, the representative of the British Crown in Canada, in any talks on aboriginal-Canada relations. A demand pointing clearly to the Royal Proclamation of 1763, a colonial document of persisting importance, commonly referenced in indigenous land struggles and legal negotiations, that forbids the colonial settlement of territories or utilisation of resources without the clear consent of aboriginal peoples.

Today, the historic importance of Chief Spence's hunger strike is clear, as political energy around Idle No More builds. Another national day of action involved more than 30 cities in Canada yesterday, including a rally outside Parliament in Ottawa.

Still the Conservative government refuses to engage directly with Idle No More, instead holding discordant talkswith officials from the Assembly of First Nations (AFN), a political body strongly tied to the Canadian state, not historically involved in aboriginal protest movements.

"Decision-making in the name of the AFN is not designed for fighting government, but merely consulting with government," writes Arthur Manuel, spokesperson for Defenders of the Land network from the Secwepemc Nation, openly critiquing talks with the Conservative government until clear conditions on respecting treaty rights are outlined.

"There is basically a fundamental change that Harper must make before 'engaging' with Harper could be useful," continues Manuel. "The Harper government does not recognise Aboriginal and Treaty Rights on the ground. Indigenous Peoples believe in Aboriginal and Treaty Rights on the ground. That is the fundamental difference."

Canada's broken treaties

Beyond contemporary extremes in inequality for aboriginal peoples in Canada, increasingly labelled "Canadian apartheid", Idle No More actions sound the alarm on questions of colonial injustice that reach to the political depths of Canada's existence and national character.

Today, most of Canada falls under signed treaties, agreements between First Nations and Canadian settler society, outlining bilateral obligations in regards to political relations and land rights. "In places where treaties are in effect, every building, business, road, government, or other activity is made possible by a treaty," outlines a recent post on The Media Coop.

Central to the Idle No More movement is a call for all Canadians to respect treaty rights, highlighting the constant refusal to acknowledge treaty obligations by successive Canadian governments over the past century.

"The spirit and intent of the Treaty agreement meant that First Nations peoples would share the land, but retain their inherent rights to lands and resources," outlines the Idle No More manifesto. "Instead, First Nations have experienced a history of colonisation which has resulted in outstanding land claims, lack of resources and unequal funding for services such as education and housing."

Beyond treaty areas, large sections of Canada's north and the majority of British Columbia remain unceded indigenous territories, lands where no signed treaty is in effect. Legally speaking Canadian society exists in colonial limbo on these lands, outside the framework of both Canadian and indigenous law, areas including major urban centres like Vancouver.

Despite this legal reality, Canadian political and economic power rigorously avoids recognising the fundamentally colonial character to large territories in Canada, that today can be understood as Canadian settlements in occupied indigenous lands.

Idle No More vs conservative Canada

Key to the political energy around Idle No More today in Canada is a growing political alliance against the conservative government.

Aboriginal activists lead Idle No More, but the movement also involves voices for environmental justice, while receiving active support from a broad spectrum of Canadian society critical toward the policies of the current conservative government.

Recently in Quebec, l'Association pour une solidarité syndicale étudiante (ASSÉ), the face of the 2012 Montreal student uprising against austerity-driven tuition fee hikes, issued a strong declaration supporting the Idle No More movement.

"Last year the streets of Quebec vibrated to the rhythm of hundreds of thousands of marching feet, as our student strike against an increase in university tuition fees blossomed into the political awakening of a society," writes ASSÉ.

"Today, malls and public squares and railways across Canada are vibrating to another rhythm, the drum beat of a surging and inspiring movement of Indigenous peoples, for cultural renewal, for land rights, for environmental protection, and for decolonisation."

In Canada, Idle No More is building creative political space to openly challenge controversial Conservative policies, including key provisions in the government's recent omnibus federal budget bill C-45.

Including changes to Canada's Indian Act, toward easing regulations on the commercial leasing of reservation lands, that will, if implemented, equal the further erosion First Nations territory within Canada's borderlines.

On Canada's Navigation Protection Act, the Conservative bill includes changes to allow for more rapid confirmations on industrial development projects over waterways, namely power and pipe lines.

Altercations that erase earlier requirements for major development projects to not damage or destroy navigable waterways in Canada. Idle No More outlines that these changes will "remove protection for 99.9 percent of lakes and rivers in Canada".

Also the Conservative bill aims to limit Canada's Environmental Assessment Act, in relation to major "developments", like pipeline extensions to Canada's oil sands industry, limitations that cut down space for indigenous people to play a meaningful role in defining the future of their historic homelands.

"Idle No More revolves around Indigenous ways of knowing rooted in Indigenous sovereignty to protect water, air, land and all creation for future generations," outlines an official movement text.

"The conservative government bills beginning with Bill C-45 threaten Treaties and this Indigenous vision of sovereignty. The goal of the movement is education and to revitalise Indigenous peoples through awareness and empowerment. This message has been heard around the world and the world is watching how Canada responds to the message sent by many Idle No More supporters."

Apartheid economics

Recent changes to Canadian law, introduced by the Conservative government, in relation to aboriginal rights, are directly rooted in Canada's growing economic dependence on natural resources.

Today, Canada's economy is often highlighted as an example of relative stability amidst global financial turmoil.

"The Canadian economy is still performing relatively well, despite the challenges in Europe and elsewhere," outlines a major Canadian bank official, "we're continuing to see demand in interest for the resource sectors in Canada, both mining and oil and gas."

Today, Conservative politicians openly claim that Canada has "weathered the storm" of global financial crisis, very often pointing to the strong "energy sector", while never addressing the intensely colonial dimensions to Canadian economics.

Canada's major mining and oil and gas sectors are largely wired to totally ignore and undercut previously signed treaty agreements and Canada's international legal obligations to aboriginal people.

In Attawapiskat First Nation, Chief Spence declared a state of emergency in 2011, to draw focus to serious poverty on the isolated reserve, where many families live in wooden sheds, without running water or adequate insulation to face Canada's northern winter winds. Only 90km away from Attawapiskat is Victor Diamond Mine, operated by De Beers, that according to reports is extracting around 600,000 carats of diamonds per year.

"Great riches are being taken from our land for the benefit of a few, including the government of Canada and Ontario, who receive large royalty payments, while we receive so little," outlines Chief Spence in a 2011 speech.

Today the annual median income for aboriginal people is 30 percent lower than the Canadian average, according to recent national census data.

In reality the development of extraordinary mineral and energy wealth on First Nations territories, has done little to address the intense poverty and political marginalisation for the majority of aboriginal people.

Idle No More sounds an alarm on this colonial reality, accurately highlighting Canada's relative economic success as dependent on harvesting land and resources on indigenous territories without meaningful consultation, consent or remittance.

Decolonising Canada

Central to understanding this current winter unrest, sparked by Idle No More, are the urgent calls to revise Canada-aboriginal relations against the backdrop of persisting colonial injustice.

"It's high time for Canada to scrap discriminatory approaches dating back to colonial times and begin to respect the rights of First Nations, Inuit and Metis peoples under Canadian and international law," outlines Amnesty International in a recent statement on Idle No More.

Canada's political landscape now faces an alarm on colonial questions commonly evaded in the halls of power.

Idle No More presents an incredible opening to collectively reenvision Canada, to finally address Canada's unjust past and present policies toward aboriginal people. A call to collectively explore a new social contract, rooted in indigenous traditions and contemporary conceptions of social justice, that can unravel the violent colonial roots to current economic modes that are destroying mother earth.

"Just as the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) is becoming a global military past without a distinct enemy, the Central Intelligence Agency, Britain’s MI-6, and other intelligence agencies are increasingly pooling their intelligence and networking their information-sharing networks. To what purpose would such citadels of secrecy wish to cooperate? The answer is simple. In a world of the tiny minority haves and the super-majority have nots, the intelligence agencies, like national armed forces, believe there is safety in numbers. In a conflict between the minority super-wealthy and the rest of society, intelligence agencies are increasingly protecting the interests of corporations and not countries. Intelligence agencies, therefore, have decided to become a global Panopticon where no one can hide and no secrets are held"...

Via Wayne Madsen at SC

While budgets are being slashed by governments around the world, national intelligence agencies are not only flush with money but they are increasingly networking their resources against the «threat». What is the threat? It is whatever national leaders and their governments deem it to be. One day it is «Al Qaeda», the next day it is Iran, then North Korea, then global narco-terrorists, and so on and so on…


Just as the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) is becoming a global military past without a distinct enemy, the Central Intelligence Agency, Britain’s MI-6, and other intelligence agencies are increasingly pooling their intelligence and networking their information-sharing networks. To what purpose would such citadels of secrecy wish to cooperate? The answer is simple. In a world of the tiny minority «haves» and the super-majority «have nots», the intelligence agencies, like national armed forces, believe there is safety in numbers. In a conflict between the minority super-wealthy and the rest of society, intelligence agencies are increasingly protecting the interests of corporations and not countries. Intelligence agencies, therefore, have decided to become a global «Panopticon» where no one can hide and no secrets are held.

For many years, attempts to create a worldwide database of personal data, beginning with basic criminal information, were forestalled by the fact that the chief promoter of such a combined on-line repository of information, the United States, lacked a government department akin to other nations’ Interior Ministries that would be natural partners of the Americans. The American Interior Department had nothing to do with internal security because it had jurisdiction over such areas as federal lands and national parks. The aftermath of the 9/11 attack on the United States created the impetus for the creation of global communication networks and data warehouses for use by intelligence agencies in the new Department of Homeland Security, America’s version of the Interior Ministry.

The Homeland Security Department, National Security Agency, Central Intelligence Agency, and Federal Bureau of Investigation now represent a massive governmental data gathering behemoth that is building on traditional and new relationships with foreign intelligence and national security agencies to build a network of shared databases. However, the network is a one-way street. The Americans want to draw the world’s intelligence into its own databases while only allowing its partners, including longtime intelligence allies like Britain and Canada to have access to only a small portion of what America is amassing in terms of surveillance and stored personal data.

In 2012, the European Union and United States agreed to allow the Americans to store for up to fifteen years Passenger Name Records (PNRs) on every European Union citizen who flies. Although there are supposed «safeguards» to prevent the exploitation of the data, attempts by some member so the European Parliament to take the agreement before the European Court of Justice were scuttled by the Eurocrats in Brussels. PNR data, like national identification numbers, are keys that unlock countless files on individuals. PNR data on a passenger’s religious dietary choices identifies a person’s religious beliefs. That information may open up additional links to databases containing details of an individual’s ethic group, health condition, and sexual orientation. Further refinement of personally-identifiable information can open up an individual’s phone and e-mail records.

Currently, the National Security Agency is building the Utah Data Center on a National Guard base in Bluffdale, Utah a massive data storage center that is the size of 17 football fields. The center will contain stored communications records as well as transactional data, including financial, travel, and medical information, on perhaps billions of people around the world. The center is designed to store a yottabyte of data – equivalent to 500 quintillion (500,000,000,000,000,000,000) pages of text.

The data will range from that derived from relatively open sources to «deep data». Deep data is that which is obtained through sophisticated computer espionage programs, including those that crack passwords, encryption schemes, and data hidden by pixel steganography and other sophisticated methods. Microsoft is a «silent partner» of NSA in collecting massive amounts of stored data from clouds and from interactive networks like Skype. Microsoft took over control of Skype in 2011 and it is believed by many privacy experts that the firm routinely shares customer data with the NSA and other intelligence and security agencies.

The location of the NSA data center in the heavily Mormon state of Utah is also problematic. The Mormons, or Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, maintains the world’s largest genealogical databases owing to their affectation for baptizing the dead, even non-Mormons. The records are maintained in a granite mountain 20 miles southeast of Salt Lake City. Five billion documents on microfiche and in computer databases are held in the nuclear blast-proof mountain facility.

Combine the Mormon geological records collected from every nation on the planet with the transactional data maintained by the NSA in nearby Bluffdale, and the world’s «all seeing eye» or computerized Panopticon not only knows every detail about living individuals but an immense amount of information about their deceased ancestors. That is the sort of information craved by despotic leaders.

The Dutch rapporteur for the EU-US PNR agreement, which has also been expanded to include Australia and Canada, was Sophie in’t Veld of the Democrats 66 Party. She withdrew her sponsorship of the PNR agreement because of misgivings over the privacy controls afforded the data. Ms. in’t Veld has been subjected to extra security screening every time she visits the United States and U.S. authorities have refused to tell her why.

In the future, the massive international connected spy grid will make similar decisions with or without the intervention of a human being. Individuals will find themselves under arrest based on artificial intelligence analysis of databases. In some jurisdictions, people have been targeted for surveillance and arrest based on a belief by law enforcement that they may commit a crime. The storage of massive amounts of personal data will make such «pre-crime» enforcement a common occurrence.

And, if the past is any indication, the collection of data by the United States will be a one-way street with «second party» intelligence allies like Britain, Australia, Canada, and New Zealand; «third party» friends like Germany, Denmark, Norway, Japan, South Korea, Thailand, Greece, and the Netherlands; and «fourth party» partners like Sweden, Switzerland, Austria, Singapore, France, Finland, India, Taiwan, Ireland, Spain, Italy, and Hungary receiving smaller amounts of the intelligence «take» from the huge data repositories. In the 1980s, an internal NSA document likened the sharing of small amounts of signals intelligence intercepts with Third Party partners, in return for base rights, to the European colonialists giving Native American tribes «wampum», usually cheap beads, as gifts in return for plundering tribal lands.

In addition to Microsoft, it is believed that the NSA will be fed data from massive commercial data centers, including the Apple iDataCenter in North Carolina, the EBay data center also in Utah, as well as Microsoft’s massive data center in San Antonio, Texas, which is located close to another NSA intelligence-gathering facility called NSA Texas.

Geo-spatial analysis programs linked to NSA databases will ensure that the location of individuals who leave an electronic fingerprint through the use of a mobile phone, a credit card, a chipped passport, or any item with a Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) chip will be immediately known to intelligence and police agencies. There will be nowhere in the world to hide indefinitely.

What has been called the «Brave New World», «1984», and «New World Order» is longer speculative, it is a reality. Big Brother exists in Utah and he is spying on every single person on the planet.



US State Dept. closes office that worked on closing Guantanamo...

Via NYT

The State Department on Monday reassigned Daniel Fried, the special envoy for closing the prison at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, and will not replace him, according to an internal personnel announcement. Mr. Fried’s office is being closed, and his former responsibilities will be “assumed” by the office of the department’s legal adviser, the notice said.


The announcement that no senior official in President Obama’s second term will succeed Mr. Fried in working primarily on diplomatic issues pertaining to repatriating or resettling detainees appeared to signal that the administration does not currently see the closing of the prison as a realistic priority, despite repeated statements that it still intends to do so.

Mr. Fried will become the department’s coordinator for sanctions policy and will work on issues including Iran and Syria.

The announcement came as Khalid Shaikh Mohammed and four other Guantánamo Bay detainees facing death penalty charges before a military tribunal over the Sept. 11 attacks made their first public appearance since October on Monday, sitting quietly in a high-security courtroom at the naval base in Cuba as pretrial hearings resumed. A closed-circuit feed of the proceedings was shown at Fort Meade.

Mr. Mohammed, with a red-dyed beard and a turban, wore a camouflage jacket over white garb. All five detainees spoke briefly in telling the judge, Col. James Pohl of the Army, that they understood their right not to attend future days of the hearing. Only one detainee, Walid bin Attash, spoke further, complaining through an interpreter that the defendants were not motivated to attend because “the prosecution does not want us to hear or understand or say anything.”

The session mainly focused on technical matters like nuances in an order on handling classified information. At one point, the video feed was censored for nearly a minute. It was not clear why; Colonel Pohl appeared upset and said no classified information had been discussed.

Mr. Fried’s special envoy post was created in 2009, shortly after Mr. Obama took office and promised to close the prison in his first year. A career diplomat, Mr. Fried traveled the world negotiating the repatriation of some 31 low-level detainees and persuading third-party countries to resettle about 40 who were cleared for release but could not be sent home because of fears of abuse.

But the outward flow of detainees slowed almost to a halt as Congress imposed restrictions on further transfers, leaving Mr. Fried with less to do. He was eventually assigned to work on resettling a group of Iranian exiles, known as the M.E.K., who were living in a refugee camp in Iraq, in addition to his Guantánamo duties.

Ian Moss, a spokesman for Mr. Fried’s office, said its dismantling did not mean that the administration had given up on closing the prison. “We remain committed to closing Guantánamo, and doing so in a responsible fashion,” Mr. Moss said. “The administration continues to express its opposition to Congressional restrictions that impede our ability to implement transfers.”

Besides barring the transfer of any detainees into the United States for prosecution or continued detention, lawmakers prohibited transferring them to other countries with troubled security conditions, like Yemen or Sudan. In the most recent defense authorization act, enacted late last year, lawmakers extended those restrictions and expanded them to cover even detainees scheduled to be repatriated under a plea deal with military prosecutors.

Mr. Obama had threatened to veto the bill, but instead he signed it while issuing a signing statement claiming that he had the constitutional power, as commander in chief, to lawfully override such statutory restrictions on the handling of wartime prisoners. Mr. Obama’s intentions were not clear, however, even to internal administration officials.

Last July, before the latest statute, the Pentagon repatriated a Sudanese man, Ibrahim al Qosi, after he pleaded guilty before a tribunal to conspiracy and supporting terrorism and served out his sentence as part of a deal.

Another Sudanese man who pleaded guilty to similar charges, Noor Uthman Muhammed, is scheduled to be repatriated in about a year. There is now doubt, however, about whether the military can live up to that agreement.

In recent months, the federal appeals court in Washington has vacated guilty verdicts by tribunals against two other detainees convicted of similar charges — the only two detainees to date to be convicted after a trial, rather than through a plea deal — because the offenses were not international war crimes.

Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. decided to continue arguing in court that it was lawful to bring such charges before a military commission. That has led to a growing split between the administration and Brig. Gen. Mark S. Martins, the chief prosecutor of the tribunals, who objected to that decision and unsuccessfully sought permission to withdraw conspiracy from the list of charges against the Sept. 11 defendants.

On Sunday, on the eve of the hearing, General Martins addressed recent coverage of the split. He argued that any disagreement was a good thing because it showed that tribunal officials were not “moving in lock step,” but rather were independent, which “if anything bolsters, rather than undermines, confidence in the military commissions system.”

Investigating investigative journalism (Video)

Via

Monday, January 28, 2013

How television news creates the illusion of knowledge...

Via

In analyzing network coverage of the Sandy Hook murders, I had no intention of doing a series of articles on television news, but the opportunity to deconstruct the overall grand illusion was compelling.

A number of articles later, I want to discuss yet another sleight-of-hand trick. The myth of “coverage.”

It’s familiar to every viewer. Scott Pelley, in seamless fashion, might say, “Our top story tonight, the widening conflict in Syria. For the latest on the Assad government crackdown, our coverage begins with Clarissa Ward in Damascus…” .

Clarissa Ward has entered the country secretly, posing as a tourist. She carries a small camera. In interviews with rebels, she discovers that a) there is a conflict, b) people are being arrested c) there is a funeral for a person who was killed by government soldiers, d) defiance among the citizenry is growing.

In other words, she tells us almost nothing.

But CBS is imparting the impression that her report is important. After all, it’s not just anchor Scott Pelley in the studio. It’s a journalist in the field, up close and personal. It’s coverage.

Here are a few of the many things we don’t learn from either Pelley or Ward. Who is behind the rebellion in Syria? What is their real goal? What covert role is the US playing? Why are there al Qaeda personnel there?
But who cares? We have coverage. A key hole view. It’s wonderful. It’s exciting for two minutes. If we’re already brainwashed.

Coverage in television means you have the money, crew, resources, and stand-up reporters you can send out into the field. That’s all it means. It has nothing to do with information.

CNN made its reputation by coverage, from one end of the planet to the other. Yet, what did we really learn in all those years? We learned that, by straining to the point of hernia, a cable network could present news non-stop, 24/7.

The trick of coverage is the smooth transition from anchor in the studio to reporter in the field. The reporter is standing in front of something that vaguely resembles or represents what we imagine the locale contains. A large squat government building, a tower, a marketplace, a river, a skyline.

At some point during the meaningless report, the screen splits and we see both the anchor and the reporter. This yields the impression of two concerned professionals discussing something significant.

Then we’re back to the reporter in the field filling up the whole screen.
The anchor closes with a question or two.

“Denise, have you seen any tanks in the area?”

“No Wolf, not in the last hour. But we have reports from last night of shelling in the village.”

Well, isn’t this marvelous. Wolf is in Atlanta and Denise is in Patagonia. And they’re talking to each other in real time. Therefore, they must be on top of what’s going on.

“Denise, we understand medical help arrived a short time ago.”

“Yes, Wolf. Out in the desert, in tents, surgeons are performing emergency operations on the wounded.”

Well, what else is there to know? They’ve covered it.

In a twist on this performance, Denise might say, “Government officials are cautiously optimistic about repelling the invading force.” We cut to an interview conducted by Denise, in a hotel room, a few hours earlier.

She’s sitting across from a man in a suit. He’s the minister of information for the ruling party.

Denise: Is it true, Dr. Oobladee, that rebels groups in the suburbs have taken over several branch offices of the central bank?

Dr. Oob: We don’t believe that’s accurate. Our soldiers have been providing security for families in the area.

Denise: And their fortifications are secure?

Dr. Oob: They’ve trained for this mission, yes.

Cut back to Denise standing where she was standing before.
“Wolf, as the night wears on, we hear sporadic gunfire from the civic center. It’s a repeat of the last three evenings. The rebels are determined to make a stand and not give up further ground, in this war that enters its sixth month…”

Cut back to the studio in Atlanta.

“Thank you, Denise. We’ll take a break and be back in a minute to discuss the upcoming controversial film, Cold War in a Hat, starring George Clooney.”

We went from Atlanta to a street corner in the capital of Patagonia and then to a hotel room in the city, and then back to the street corner, then to Atlanta, off to a commercial, and then back to the studio for teasers on a new film. The technology and the technique are indeed impressive. The knowledge imparted is hovering at absolute zero, but it doesn’t matter. They have coverage.

It’s on the order of a magician sawing a woman in a box in half, after which the box is opened and found to be empty.

Coverage can also be simultaneous. In the middle of the screen is the anchor, head and shoulders, talking about the latest shooting. In the upper left-hand corner is a little static scene of three police cars with flashing lights sitting near a strand of yellow tape across a front yard. At the bottom of the screen is a moving line of text recapping headlines of the hour. Coverage. Look at all that. They must know what they’re doing.
Then we have the bonanza of coverage, a story that deals cards to several reporters in the field at different locations. As always, the anchor retains control. He may have two or three reporters on screen at the same time after they individually file their thirty-second pieces.

There is a bit of crosstalk. The anchor mediates. The shipment of frozen food was tainted. Therefore, we have a reporter standing in front of FDA headquarters in Maryland, another reporter in front of the manufacturer’s home office in Indiana, and a third reporter outside a hospital emergency room in San Francisco, where a child is having his stomach pumped. There is also a three-second clip of a lab in which workers in white coats and masks are moving around, and a clip of a moving assembly line which presumably has something to do with the production of the tainted product.

The whole story, as the network tells it, could be compressed down to 20 seconds, total. But they want coverage.

On election night, a network could simply show three or four newsmen sitting around in shirtsleeves smoking cigars and talking about the Jets for a few hours, after which one of them says, “Obama just won.”

But instead, we get the circus. A half-dozen stand-ups from various campaign headquarters, a numbers guru with a high-tech map as big as a movie screen pulling up counties in the studio, an anchor “bringing it all together,” and pundits weighing in with sage estimates. Team coverage. The “best in the business.”

I love hearing Wolf Blitzer utter that line. It makes me think of a guy selling expired cheese. But after all, he has a right to promote his people. He’s not just in a studio, he’s in The Situation Room. Where there is coverage.

The height of absurdity is achieved during a violent storm. A reporter has to be standing out in the rain and vicious wind, water seeping into his shoes, holding an umbrella in one hand and a mic in the other, looking for all the world like the umbrella is going to take him up into the sky.
The storm could be shot from inside a store at ground level, and the reporter could be sitting in a chair next to the cash register peering out through the window, but that wouldn’t really be coverage.

If you were to compare the anchor/reporter-in-the-field relationship of 40 years ago to today, you’d see a stark difference. In days of yore, it was exceedingly clunky and clumsy. It was one anchor and one reporter, but at least the man in the field was expected to have something to say. Now it’s all flash and intercutting. Now it’s the technique. The facile blending. The rapid interchange of image. It’s nothing made into something.

Segueways and blends are far more important than content. The newspeople are there merely to illustrate smoothness and transition. Brian Williams (NBC) is the champion operator for this mode. He is the doctor who can impart to you a diagnosis of a disease that doesn’t exist, but you don’t care. He’s a fine waiter in an expensive restaurant who will deliver three small items in the center of a very large plate and make you feel honored. He’s a golfer with such a fine swing you don’t care how many strokes he takes to get to the green. When he shifts to his man or woman in the field, you feel he’s conferring knighthood. Brian knows coverage.

There is a phenomenon that ought to be called minus-coverage coverage. Sandy Hook gave us wall-to-wall everything without exposing a single fact behind a fact. We saw nothing but Sandy Hook for two days on end, with stand-ups from every hand on deck, and yet we learned almost zero after the first few hours.

In the second Gulf War, we were bombarded with studio and field reports, but we saw no engagement or conflict that exposed both sides in simultaneous action against each other. Embedded reporters had to pledge the life of their first-born they wouldn’t break a rule laid down for journalists by the Army command.

Modern network coverage does one important thing. It establishes a standard by which other news is measured. For most viewers, if the news can’t display full technique, full smoothness, full effortless transition, it must be lacking in some important, though undefined, way.

Coverage is almost synonymous with transition. How the news moves from anchor to reporter(s) and back is Value. This is highly significant because it mirrors what a good hypnotist is able to do. If he’s a real pro, he doesn’t just put someone in a trance and talk to him, he puts him under and then moves from one topic to another—without breaking the trance. This is a skill.

In fact, the hypnotist’s transitions are a vital aspect of the process itself. The patient feels the guidance as the scene changes before his eyes. The hypnotist (or news anchor) is presenting scene after scene and extending time without causing a jarring ripple in the still lake of consciousness.

Coverage.

Whatever a person learns in a trance state, while, for example, watching the news, functions somewhat differently from what he learns while he is awake. Trance learning tends to settle in as a lens, as a way of thereafter viewing the world. It doesn’t add content or knowledge so much as it produces a viewpoint that generates an attitude toward reality.

As in: THESE are the parameters of reality, but THOSE aren’t. I care THIS much, I don’t care THAT much. I care in THIS way, not in THAT way. I’m at THIS distance from what is happening, not at THAT distance.

To enhance this level of teaching, the major networks utilize technology and personnel in the direction of making each edition of the national news, every night, one seamless ribbon of flowing river, with straightaways, corners, turns, adjustments; never breaking, never ceasing until the last breath of the anchor and the closing music fadeout.

That’s coverage.

And the next challenge for them is the integration of commercials, so the viewer truly doesn’t register a shift of consciousness during those moments.

Some day, people will look back on the news of today and say, “How could they have altered the mood during commercials? That was ridiculous. They were really primitive, weren’t they? What were they they thinking? The whole idea is to have one uninterrupted experience.”

The blue hues in the news studio set will match up perfectly with the blues in the commercials. The sound and tone of the anchor’s voice will be mirrored by the narrator of the commercial. The pace of the commercial will match the pace of the news.

In fact, it’s already starting to happen. If you watch shows via a DVR, you might notice that fast-forwarding through commercials is a different experience these days. It used to be a cinch to stop the fast-forward when the show began again, because the colors and shapes of the commercials were so different from those of the show. But now, not so much. The commercials are tuned more closely to the programs.

Some day, the meaning of network coverage will include commercials. The one unending stream will sustain the light trance of the viewer.

Major corporate advertisers will realize they don’t want to jolt the viewer out of the show; they want to leave him in the trance. In other words, corporations won’t be so concerned about competing against other corporations. With these companies coming, more and more, under centralized ownership, under the control of big banks, the whole idea will be to tune the attitude of the viewer toward “corporate buying” in general.

Every huge corporation, allied with big government, will aim to condition the viewing audience to the State Oligarchy.

Coverage in the Matrix.

Military "exercises" over Miami streets...

Via

Military “exercises” in populated urban environments are now so routine, so commonplace, they are no longer reported by the national media and are left as “human interest” stories for local news stations.



For instance, in Miami last Thursday, units of the military industrial complex staged yet another training exercise.

“Diving Blackhawks, blank rounds of machine gun fire, strafing runs, troops rappelling from choppers, and road blockades,” writes Karen De Coster. “All over the skies of Miami at night, just a few days ago. According to this local TV clown in the video, this event was for the purposes of ‘meeting requirements,’ preparing for overseas military drills, and making sure the equipment is in check.”

In the above video, we hear the staccato of door guns pounding away as “military-style choppers” swooped a couple hundred feet above traffic on I-395 in downtown Miami.

From the local CBS disinfo ministry:
The training is designed to ensure that military personnel are able to operate in urban areas and to focus on preparations for overseas deployment. It also serves as a mandatory training certification requirement.
An “exercise” to acclimate Floridians to the presence of military troops (invariably mingled with cops also sporting combat attire and weapons) went down in April, 2011 and “frightened many residents in the area.”

And then there was this, just in case al-Qaeda gets any funny ideas about riding public transport:


Politicians seem to like boy brothels...

Via

Politicians seem to like boy brothels.

According to the Sunday People and ExaroNews a boy brothel was advertised in a newsletter issued by a group within the UK Conservative Party.


The newsletter 'strongly recommended' a visit to to the Elm Guest House, which functioned as a boy brothel for top people.


Former boy brothel.

A newsletter, dated 8 April 1982 states:  "I am glad to publicise another establishment (Elm Guest House) strongly recommended by members."

The newsletter's editor was Peter Campbell, a libertarian Conservative.

He was a politics professor at Reading university, and he in 2005.

The copy of the newsletter obtained by Exaro has a hand-written note from 'Peter' at the top that reads: "I have now inserted the entry about the hotel but can't find the text about the Dutch venture - could you please let me have another copy?"


Queen Beatrix and Prince Claus. "In sworn testimony, a couple claimed to have seen Claus in a brothel in a compromising position with a 12 or 13 year old boy." wikispooks.com

In the Netherlands, a number of boy brothels were being run by a German named Lothar Glandorf.

"After ignoring complaints for 18 months, Rotterdam police finally targeted him and found he had been selling hundreds of boys.

"Of those they could trace, nearly half were under 16, some by many years. One of them was only nine. 
"Tapping Glandorf’s phones, they heard one customer say “I’m looking for a young boy, a very young boy, a nice little blonde one, who can stay the night”; and another who specified a pre-pubescent boy, “You know, no hair.”

"They heard Glandorf tell one boy that if he tried to run away, he would send his family pornographic pictures of him; another was told simply he would be shot in the head."

Sunday, January 27, 2013

List of children killed by drone strikes in Pakistan and Yemen...

Via DW

PAKISTAN


Noor Aziz
8
male

Abdul Wasit
17
male

Noor Syed
8
male

Wajid Noor
9
male

Syed Wali Shah
7
male

Ayeesha
3
female

Qari Alamzeb
14
male

Shoaib
8
male

Hayatullah KhaMohammad
16
male

Tariq Aziz
16
male

Sanaullah Jan
17
male

Maezol Khan
8
female

Nasir Khan
male

Naeem Khan
male

Naeemullah
male

Mohammad Tahir
16
male

Azizul Wahab
15
male

Fazal Wahab
16
male

Ziauddin
16
male

Mohammad Yunus
16
male

Fazal Hakim
19
male

Ilyas
13
male

Sohail
7
male

Asadullah
9
male

khalilullah
9
male

Noor Mohammad
8
male

Khalid
12
male

Saifullah
9
male

Mashooq Jan
15
male

Nawab
17
male

Sultanat Khan
16
male

Ziaur Rahman
13
male

Noor Mohammad
15
male

Mohammad Yaas Khan
16
male

Qari Alamzeb
14
male

Ziaur Rahman
17
male

Abdullah
18
male

Ikramullah Zada
17
male

Inayatur Rehman
16
male

Shahbuddin
15
male

Yahya Khan
16
male

Rahatullah
17
male

Mohammad Salim
11
male

Shahjehan
15
male

Gul Sher Khan
15
male

Bakht Muneer
14
male

Numair
14
male

Mashooq Khan
16
male

Ihsanullah
16
male

Luqman
12
male

Jannatullah
13
male

Ismail
12
male

Taseel Khan
18
male

Zaheeruddin
16
male

Qari Ishaq
19
male

Jamshed Khan
14
male

Alam Nabi
11
male

Qari Abdul Karim
19
male

Rahmatullah
14
male

Abdus Samad
17
male

Siraj
16
male

Saeedullah
17
male

Abdul Waris
16
male

Darvesh
13
male

Ameer Said
15
male

Shaukat
14
male

Inayatur Rahman
17
male

Salman
12
male

Fazal Wahab
18
male

Baacha Rahman
13
male

Wali-ur-Rahman
17
male

Iftikhar
17
male

Inayatullah
15
male

Mashooq Khan
16
male

Ihsanullah
16
male

Luqman
12
male

Jannatullah
13
male

Ismail
12
male

Abdul Waris
16
male

Darvesh
13
male

Ameer Said
15
male

Shaukat
14
male

Inayatur Rahman
17
male

Adnan
16
male

Najibullah
13
male

Naeemullah
17
male

Hizbullah
10
male

Kitab Gul
12
male

Wilayat Khan
11
male

Zabihullah
16
male

Shehzad Gul
11
male

Shabir
15
male

Qari Sharifullah
17
male

Shafiullah
16
male

Nimatullah
14
male

Shakirullah
16
male

Talha
8
male


YEMEN

Afrah Ali Mohammed Nasser
9
female

Zayda Ali Mohammed Nasser
7
female

Hoda Ali Mohammed Nasser
5
female

Sheikha Ali Mohammed Nasser
4
female

Ibrahim Abdullah Mokbel Salem Louqye
13
male

Asmaa Abdullah Mokbel Salem Louqye
9
male

Salma Abdullah Mokbel Salem Louqye
4
female

Fatima Abdullah Mokbel Salem Louqye
3
female

Khadije Ali Mokbel Louqye
1
female

Hanaa Ali Mokbel Louqye
6
female

Mohammed Ali Mokbel Salem Louqye
4
male

Jawass Mokbel Salem Louqye
15
female

Maryam Hussein Abdullah Awad
2
female

Shafiq Hussein Abdullah Awad
1
female

Sheikha Nasser Mahdi Ahmad Bouh
3
female

Maha Mohammed Saleh Mohammed
12
male

Soumaya Mohammed Saleh Mohammed
9
female

Shafika Mohammed Saleh Mohammed
4
female

Shafiq Mohammed Saleh Mohammed
2
male

Mabrook Mouqbal Al Qadari
13
male

Daolah Nasser 10 years
10
female

AbedalGhani Mohammed Mabkhout
12
male

Abdel- Rahman Anwar al Awlaki
16
male

Abdel-Rahman al-Awlaki
17
male

Nasser Salim
19

Obama likely to name Wal-Mart Foundation head as budget director...

Via TH

President Obama is likely to announce soon that Sylvia Mathews Burwell will be his next budget director, sources said Friday.

Burwell is a veteran of the Clinton administration, where she served as deputy director of the Office of Management and Budget. She is a close associate of former Clinton Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin and outgoing White House Chief of Staff Jack Lew, who is Obama’s pick to be Treasury secretary.

Acting Budget Director Jeff Zients would either return to his previous role as the deputy OMB director overseeing the management of the government or assume a new role, should Burwell get the nod. His name has been mentioned as a possible replacement for U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk, who leaves next month. Zients took over the budget role after Lew left OMB to become chief of staff last year.

A key consideration in the Burwell pick might be her gender, given the number of white males Obama has tapped for Cabinet posts in recent week.

Since leaving government, Burwell has become a major force in philanthropy. She is the president of the Wal-Mart Foundation and previously worked at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Burwell hails from Hinton, W.Va. and was a Rhodes scholar at Harvard University. She worked at McKinsey & Co. as a management consultant before joining the Clinton administration.

A Senate GOP source said that Burwell’s confirmation hearing at the Budget Committee could be rough regardless of her qualifications, given criticism Budget Committee ranking member Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) had made of Lew and Obama.

Sessions alleges Lew lied to Congress about Obama’s budget plans. The GOP source said the Burwell hearing will be an opportunity to highlight Lew’s record and the five years of $1 trillion-plus deficits under Obama.

Obama under the law must submit his 2014 budget by Feb. 4, but the White House informed Congress this month that this deadline will not be met.

Lew will come before the Finance Committee for his confirmation hearing, avoiding a grilling by Sessions.







Emails show FBI investigating NJ Senator for sleeping with underage prostitutes...

Via DC

Documents published online for the first time Thursday indicate that the FBI opened an inquiry into New Jersey Democratic Sen. Bob Menendez on August 1, 2012, focusing on repeated trips he took to the Dominican Republic with longtime campaign contributor and Miami eye doctor Salomon Melgen. TheDC reported in November that Menendez purchased the service of prostitutes in that Caribbean nation at a series of alcohol-fueled sex parties.


The documents, which The Daily Caller had obtained hours earlier from an anonymous source, also indicate that Carrie Levine, research director at Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), was alerted on April 9, 2012 to Menendez’s habit of paying for sex while outside the United States.
ABC News senior investigative producer Rhonda Schwartz was aware as early as May 2, 2012, the documents show, when Levine wrote a source in the Dominican Republic to say that she had “shared your allegations, but not your identities, with a respected, trusted journalist with whom we have worked on other stories.”
In another email two days later, Levine identified that journalist as one who “works for ABC News.” By May 16, Schwartz was emailing Levine’s original source with questions.

Information made available to Schwartz and Levine at that time included allegations that some of Menendez’s prostitutes were as young as 16. The source also alleged that Sen. Menendez was taking “non-authorized trips” to the Dominican Republic, suggesting that he may have been evading Senate Ethics committee rules covering disclosures when third parties pay for a senator’s travel.
Those rules require senators to secure approval from the committee before allowing a private person or company to provide transportation or lodging related to official business. But the Senate’s “gift rule database,” available online, contains nothing related to a Menendez visit to the Dominican Republic.

The rules also allow senators to accept free lodging or travel as gifts from friends. Those transactions must also be documented on an annual financial disclosure report, and approved in advance by the Senate Ethics committee if the value is more than $335. Menendez’s disclosures since the mid-1990s, when he was a member of the House of Representatives, include no mention of such gifts.

On Sept. 11, 2012, the documents indicate, the same source who provided information to Levine and Schwartz also sent an FBI Special Agent in Miami what he described as “the testimony of one of the girls.”

“I have in my possession the original written in her own hand,” the source wrote. “She’s 19 now, but took part in private parties with Senator Menendez being only 16.”

That testimony-style interview was published online along with the other Menendez-related documents on Thursday.







Thursday, January 24, 2013

Ex-Army officer accuses CIA of obstructing pre-9/11 intelligence gathering...

Via CR

A decorated ex-clandestine operative for the Pentagon offers new revelations about the role the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) played in the shut-down of the military’s notorious Able Danger program, alleged to have identified five of the 9/11 hijackers inside America more than a year before the attacks.

Lt. Col. Anthony Shaffer joins a growing list of government officials accusing former CIA director George Tenet of misleading federal bodies and sharing some degree of blame for the attacks. Shaffer also adds to a picture emerging of the CIA’s Bin Laden unit as having actively prevented other areas of intelligence, law enforcement and defense from properly carrying out their counterterrorism functions in the run-up to September 2001.

Shaffer spoke to documentary filmmakers John Duffy and Ray Nowosielski in late 2011, on the day Judicial Watch successfully forced the Department of Defense (DOD) to declassify many Able Danger documents through their Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit. The materials newly in the public domain allowed Shaffer to speak more candidly than ever before. While he maintains the DOD bureaucracy was always the main obstacle for Able Danger, he offers fresh disclosures on the role played by the CIA in the shut-down of its military offensive.

In the wake of the devastating African embassy bombings of 1998, which left more than 200 dead, US Special Operations Command (SOCOM) – responsible for the Pentagon’s secret commando units – brought together specialists from the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) to begin mapping the al-Qaeda network. Based in the Information Dominance Center – also referred to as Land Information Warfare Activity, or LIWA – at Fort Belvoir, Virginia, the team’s advanced data-mining software found connections between known terrorists and subjects with matching profiles. This highly classified project was code-named Able Danger.

The project first came to public attention in June 2005, nearly one year after the 9/11 Commission released its report, when Congressman Curt Weldon gave a special orders speech on the floor of the House of Representatives. Following attacks on Weldon’s credibility, five Pentagon whistleblowers came forward to back up his claims, including Lt. Col. Tony Shaffer, a CIA-trained senior intelligence operations officer, Bronze Star Medal recipient and reserve Army lieutenant colonel with more than 22 years in the intelligence community.

Shaffer now claims the media’s focus on the data-collection aspect of Able Danger missed the point. “Data mining kind of became, to use a film term, the MacGuffin,” says Shaffer, a reference to a narrative device – often used in Alfred Hitchcock movies – which drives the plot while ultimately having no relevance to it. “That was the throwaway they wanted people to focus on. The overall project was something that covered the entire command structure of [SOCOM]. The project was put together to give the national command authority options.”

In other words, the collecting of information about al-Qaeda’s cell structures was only meant to be a first step in a larger action to be taken using the data. “It wasn’t simply an experiment. My actual assignment wasn’t Able Danger. I could never testify to the actual operational objectives assigned to me and my unit for the purposes of Able Danger.” The Able Danger project, portrayed in most media reports as a mere data-mining exercise, was in fact fully integrated into a larger military effort to target and disrupt al-Qaeda. Its actual capabilities and objectives remain classified.

Shaffer contends that the most damning revelations lie in that still-classified aspect of the project, the operational side. Asked what the next step was to be against the so-called Brooklyn cell identified by Able Danger which he says included five of the 9/11 hijackers, Shaffer responded, “I can’t talk about that.”

At the center of the military’s intended action was a long-term asset recruited by DIA years before Able Danger, a retired Afghan general who had direct access to al-Qaeda activities in Afghanistan. “We had a clear access point to al-Qaeda we were using for our operational purposes,” says Shaffer. “The asset was a separate operation we were going to use for access. We were going to use still-classified capabilities.” That all changed when CIA got involved.

Following the embassy attacks, the White House became concerned about a deficit of access by CIA into al-Qaeda. President Clinton’s Cabinet-level counter-terror director Richard Clarke said he pushed for a shakeup at the agency. “We needed a new direction,” Clarke has explained. At Clarke’s behest, Tenet, CIA director between 1997 and 2005, removed Michael Scheuer, the founder of its Bin Laden unit – also known as Alec Station. Two men with strong operational backgrounds, Cofer Black and Richard Blee, were brought in to take over leadership. “When Cofer Black took over the counterterrorism center at the CIA, he was aghast that they had no sources inside al-Qaeda,” reported Clarke. “So he told me, ‘I’m going to try to get sources in al-Qaeda.’”

As Black and Blee began their efforts at the CIA, Able Danger was ramping up. Then-Major Anthony Shaffer was at that time in charge of a secretive DIA unit known as Stratus Ivy, facilitating five major DOD black operations. The assets each held equal importance. Shaffer says SOCOM brought him into the Able Danger project to work on agent coordination in 1999.

That October, Shaffer was asked by Navy Captain Scott Philpott, then-head of operations for the Able Danger initiative, to brief the CIA liaison to SOCOM, a senior agency official. But the meeting did not go well. In the interview with Nowosielski and Duffy, Shaffer names the CIA representative for the first time. He was Cold War veteran David Rolph, previously a station chief for the agency in Moscow.

“We, the Able Danger team, would like to have access to Alec Station to conduct our operations,” Shaffer said he told Rolph. But Rolph explained that unless Gen. Peter Schoomaker, commander of SOCOM, personally and directly approached CIA director Tenet for access, they would not get it. Shaffer offered Alec Station a “seat at the table,” allowing a station employee into their process.

According to Shaffer, Rolph bluntly informed him the CIA would never cooperate with SOCOM on the matter, because if the military succeeded in prosecuting the options for going after the infrastructure of al-Qaeda, it would “steal the thunder” of Alec Station. Shaffer found the response peculiar, even for the notoriously turf-defensive agency.

“I spent a lot of time working in joint projects between Special Operations Command and CIA,” Shaffer revealed. “So the fact that in this one area they would not cooperate was new, and it concerned me. But very often the CIA would just do things without regard to anyone else.”
How the CIA’s go-it-alone attitude regarding al-Qaeda helped enable the events of 2001 has only recently gained wider public attention. The story, reduced to an obscure endnote in the 9/11 Commission Report, exploded in 2011 when it emerged that Richard Clarke, counter-terror director for both Presidents Clinton and Bush, had, in a filmed interview, accused the CIA of deliberately withholding information on two of the 9/11 conspirators, the same ones separately discovered by Able Danger.

According to Clarke, some 50 employees in Black’s and Blee’s units would likely have known from early 2000 that conspirators Khalid al-Mihdhar and Nawaf al-Hazmi – among those who would commandeer American Airlines Flight 77, and reportedly the closest to Bin Laden himself – were working for al-Qaeda and had arrived in the United States. Incredibly, the agency sat on this information for up to 18 months, ignoring standard protocol requiring them to tell the FBI and Clarke’s team on the White House National Security Council.

Only a high-level decision could explain the silence of officers he spoke with regularly, Clarke believes. Pressed by John Duffy, the former head of counter-terrorism sensationally placed the blame on the CIA director. Tenet and others were quick to issue a dismissive press statement. But it can now be revealed the CIA’s negligence went far beyond keeping critical intelligence to itself.

Around the same time Alec Station learned of al-Mihdhar’s and al-Hazmi’s likely arrival in the US, Able Danger’s data-mining also unearthed the same individuals’ domestic presence. According to several people who directly participated in the project, by mid-2000 their data mine had identified five “hotspots” for al-Qaeda activity – including the German- and New York-based cells later implicated in the hijacking plot. Much of the controversy has centered on whether, more than a year before the events of 2001, Able Danger had identified lead hijacker Mohammed Atta. A Senate Intelligence Committee investigation and Defense Department Inspector General (IG) report have concluded otherwise. Still, Shaffer and colleagues remain adamant that key witnesses were ignored and testimony distorted in the IG’s final report. In other words, it was a classic whitewash.

“We found two of the three cells which conducted the [9/11] attacks,” says Shaffer. “They were the ‘Brooklyn cell’ not by geography, but they were the Brooklyn cell because members of the cell formed a similar profile to those who conducted the ’93 World Trade Center bombing. We were looking at individuals, groups, and who they talked to, relationships, if they went to a certain mosque during a certain period of time.” LIWA analysts created a massive chart with the names and photos of these terrorists. “We discovered these guys here and the CIA apparently knew these guys were here,” he insists. “And yeah, nobody really seems to know what was going on.”

Shaffer says the significance was understood at the time. “We were scared to death that we had found operational cells … within the United States. We did not have all the pieces of the puzzle, and we were not able to make sense of everything we had. Military action was going to be the ultimate outcome of the project.”

Shaffer recruited LIWA as part of that military response. “They were going to be targeteers in the effort. I was able to convince SOCOM to bring them in. I knew the commander, Maj. Gen. Bob Newman.” Shaffer said Newman encouraged him to use the Army’s Intelligence and Security Command (INSCOM) – conducting intel, security and information operations for the military’s commanders – to run the “black” side. Shaffer will only hint that the action to come was to involve cyberspace. “As we started developing the methodology to approach targeting the global elements of al-Qaeda, there was a great deal of push-back from the community.”

Shaffer said he personally briefed Tenet on a number of occasions, from 1999 to 2001, on aspects of Able Danger and other concurrent DIA projects. In the pre-9/11 structure, the CIA director was also the director of central intelligence for the US government at large, overseeing all 16 agencies that made up the intelligence community, including DIA. We do not know if the presence of the Brooklyn cell inside the US was briefed to Tenet. Shaffer refused to disclose details of the classified briefings. Whatever he did report, Shaffer said that, “Tenet did not feel comfortable with some of the things we were talking about.”

In his 2009 interview with Duffy and Nowosielski, Richard Clarke speculated that the CIA’s Alec Station may already have been running its own domestic operation by that time to track al-Mihdhar and al-Hazmi, living under their own names in Southern California. Clarke admitted he had no way of proving his assertion, but believed it was the only way he could make sense of the facts. His theory is given credence by five former FBI counter-terror officials who backed his assertion that Alec Station was deliberately withholding information about the future 9/11 hijackers.

That spring, Army Intelligence and Security Command attorney Tony Gentry got involved, claiming to be concerned over domestic spying by the US military, which is not allowed; he also worried about rules prohibiting the retention of data about a US person for longer than 90 days. Shaffer was told many of the individuals in the cells were becoming citizens or had green cards. They were told they couldn’t look at them, that they were out of bounds. Shaffer said he was informed by DOD lawyers that many al-Qaeda extremists were inside the US because they did a lot of American fundraising. They were not considered a threat.

“I still to this day believe this concern [over data retention] was a farce,” Shaffer says with a tinge of anger in his voice, “based on the way the US government abuses US citizen information constantly in other areas.” The Brooklyn cell was debated within SOCOM. Shaffer met with three-star Gen. Larry Ellis, the senior operations officer for Army in spring 2000. Ellis agreed with Shaffer, but DOD lawyers insisted it was not the military’s job to do that level of information gathering.

“It became clear that someone didn’t want us looking at the data, and they gave an extraordinary direction.” Army staff lawyers directed Capt. Eric Kleinsmith to destroy some 2.5 terabytes of publicly sourced data. In March or April 2000, the offices of Orion Scientific Systems, a private contractor employed by LIWA for the program, were stormed by armed federal agents. Much of the material produced for Able Danger was confiscated – and with it went the US military’s best shot at unraveling the hijacking plot.

Soon after the end of the data collection aspect of Able Danger, the CIA pushed for the shut down of the operational side. The retired Afghan general at the center of Able Danger’s planning was what is known in spook parlance as a “principal agent.” Principal agents serve as proxies for professional intelligence case officers. Case officers for the CIA or DIA manage principal agents from stations around the world, and those principal agents in turn handle their own agent networks. The DIA’s asset oversaw a network of other infiltrating agents, their names known to Shaffer and his team. After briefing the CIA director, Shaffer began to suspect Alec Station was using the information to recruit from the Afghan general’s network.

“Basically, they were stealing our assets,” Shaffer said. He believes Alec Station had become desperate to infiltrate al-Qaeda. “They were kind of on the outside looking in. I think we had a better set of accesses than they did, and that’s why they wanted to terminate our asset and use his subsets for their own.”

Once the agency had successfully recruited enough assets from the DIA’s principal agent, they finally wanted DIA out of the picture altogether. In September or October 2000, Shaffer’s boss, Army General Bob Hardy Jr., was forced to square off against the CIA director in a closed session before the House Intelligence Committee. Shaffer characterizes it as “a major battle.”

Congress established the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence in 1977, supposedly to oversee executive branch departments of the United States government. Whether it succeeds in its role is debatable, but in any case when the CIA took the step of complaining to the committee, it was evidently taken seriously. Tenet made the case that Able Danger was interfering with a parallel operation by the CIA, apparently being run from Alec Station.

“George Tenet went to Congress and lied,” Shaffer boldly stated. Tenet painted DIA’s retired Afghan general source as a murderer, a claim Shaffer says was unfounded. He had heard Tenet did so at the behest of “all of Alec Station,” then run by Blee, which was complaining loudly about Able Danger. “We felt CIA made a huge mistake for political reasons, only to back off … with regard to the asset in Afghanistan. But in hindsight it is very clear the CIA had its own game, and they were not interested in cooperating to the point where they were interfering with our ability to conduct our own offensive capability against al-Qaeda.” Based on Tenet’s testimony, Congress ordered DIA’s asset – with direct access to al-Qaeda activities in Afghanistan – terminated. Shaffer characterizes Tenet’s deception as causing “huge damage” to the overall concept of his part of the program.

It is not the first time a former official has accused Tenet of lying to a government body. Speaking about Alec Station’s withholding of intelligence about al-Mihdhar and al-Hazmi from himself and his staff, Richard Clarke explained,” [Tenet, Black and Blee] have been able to get through a joint House investigation committee and get through the 9/11 Commission, and this has never come out. They got away with it.”

In his public testimony before the Congressional Intelligence Committees, Tenet was asked directly by Sen. Carl Levin about a cable that came into Alec Station in 2000 alerting them that al-Hazmi had flown to the US. Tenet’s answer to Levin: “Nobody read that cable in March, in the March timeframe.”

Levin pushed: “So the cable that said that Hazmi had entered the United States came to your headquarters, nobody read it?”

“Yes sir.”

Tenet’s own CIA Inspector General, John Helgerson, later revealed in the declassified summary of his still-classified 9/11 report that 50 to 60 officers inside Black’s and Blee’s units knew of reports in 2000 that al-Hazmi and al-Mihdhar may have been in the US.

Tom Kean, chairman of the 9/11 commission, also revealed his doubts about Tenet in a 2008 interview with Nowosielski and journalist Rory O’Connor, asserting the commissioners felt Tenet had been “obviously not forthcoming” in some of his testimony before their “lawfully constituted body, created by Congress and the President.” Asked whether they believed he had misspoken during statements that later proved false, Kean responded, “No, I don’t think he misspoke. I think he misled.”

In late 2000, the data mining aspect of the military’s project was reconstituted as “Able Danger II” and moved to a classified private intelligence research center in Garland, Texas. When command of SOCOM changed hands from the retiring Gen. Schoomaker to Gen. Charles Holland in November, Holland again ordered termination of the efforts in Texas and for the personnel to return to SOCOM headquarters in Florida.

Shaffer claimed there were at least three senior military exchanges over the order that resulted in yelling contests. Most notable was in December when Maj. Gen. Rod Isler, director of operations for DIA, called in their boss Admiral Tom Wilson, the DIA Director, who reported to Tenet. In a shouting match, Wilson directed Isler and Shaffer to stop supporting Able Danger II.

In January 2001, with a new President, George W. Bush, in the White House, Lt. Col. Anthony Shaffer briefed Gen. Hugh Shelton, the man who had originally supported the formation of Able Danger, on the program results and operational options, including the possibility of reactivating the retired Afghan general asset that George Tenet had caused to be disengaged.

Shaffer said he provided a variation of the same briefing to Tenet himself in February, with DIA Director Adm. Tom Wilson present. The following month, Gen. Ron Isler ordered Shaffer to completely end his work on Able Danger II. Shaffer strongly disagreed, resulting in an argument, before Isler pulled rank on him. From that point on, Able Danger II was essentially done.

Two months later, Shaffer would receive a frantic call from another Able Danger officer desperately wanting to know if Shaffer would permit him to save the information by moving it to one of Shaffer’s military facilities for the purposes of developing a plan of action. When Shaffer asked his boss, Col. Mary Moffitt, she took such offense at his “insubordinance” [sic] in mentioning Able Danger again that she began the process of demoting Shaffer from his leadership position to one on the Latin American desk of DIA.

Shaffer believes it is possible, though he has no way of knowing for certain, that Tenet played a back-channel role in the shut-downs of both Able Danger and Able Danger II. “Tenet could talk to DOD lawyers. CIA lawyers could talk to DOD lawyers, with the understanding that Tenet wants something said. I’ve been asked to carry messages from senior leaders, one to another. There’s no documentation on that meeting. No one ever knows it occurred, without any paper trail. It’s done all the time. Lawyers belong to the senior leadership they belong to. It would not be surprising to me if there was some level of pressure … brought to bear to back people off or discourage them.”

On the subject of Richard Clarke’s bombshell, the decorated intelligence officer is guarded. “Clarke may well be correct in his assessment that the CIA felt they were smarter than everybody else,” he reflects. “They were trying to control assets, and I do believe, from my perspective they were working to suppress other operational activities which would either compete with them, or potentially report on some of the things they were doing.”

What if David Rolph, speaking on behalf of the agency’s director when he met Shaffer in late 1999, had been more cooperative? What if Tenet had not pushed Congress to shut down the military’s long-term asset with connections inside al-Qaeda? What if the CIA had worked with, instead of against, the military? We will never know.

Ecuador's president asks Obama to stop double standards towards Latin America..

Via

The current President of Ecuador and PAIS Alliance candidate asked today that his U.S. counterpart, Barack Obama, end the double standards in his policies toward Latin America.


The Ecuadoran president wished Obama well in his second term, and for the greatest possible success in his government, but speaking as the former president of the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR) Correa also said the United States had scarcely changed its foreign policy toward the region.

"I got to know Obama personally at the Summit of the Americas in Trinidad and Tobago (2009)," he said, "and he seems like a good person, but he continues to apply a double standard toward Latin America, where leaders are considered to be good if they are friendly with the United States."

Latin American and Caribbean leaders are seen as "bad" if they are seen as enemies, or if they fail to submit to the whims of U.S. presidents, Correa said in an interview with a number of different radio stations in the capital. "The most shameful presidents in Latin America have been put forward as examples of democracy, despite the accusations against them for their attacks on human rights and for their links with paramilitary and drug-trafficking groups," he added.

"And those of us who give our lives for human rights are often slammed, called bloodthirsty ambitious dictators, within this policy of double standards," said Correa.

"It has nothing to do with whether the government is actually good, whether it has a good person as president," he stressed, "as long as you are friendly, you are accepted, no matter how shameless or dictatorial."

On the contrary, he added, "if you don't submit to everything that we (the U.S. government) tell you to do, as usual, you are the worst of the worst, and you will be lynched by the media on an international scale."

The double standard has not changed, said Correa. "If 10 people in Luluncoto are arrested (for suspected acts of sabotage and terrorism) it is said that this is an attack on human rights, but they are the ones who arrested 700 people for taking over a bridge in Brooklyn."

"And that's not all," said Correa. "In Guantanamo (Cuban territory occupied by the United States against all international laws and the opinion of the people) torture is ongoing and nothing changes. Targeted killings are being committed through drones (unmanned aircraft) and nothing changes."

"Enough already!" he insisted, pointing out that "the U.S. issues reports on human rights everywhere else and continues with that kind of arrogance, that self-granted moral supremacy."

"Who named them (the United States) the arbiters of good and evil? This has to change," Correa said.



Mexico to form a new 'CIA-type' intelligence agency...

Via HSN

Interior Minister Miguel Ángel Osorio Chong recently announced to the press plans to form a new agency analogous to the United States’ Central Intelligence Agency. The principle mission of the new National Intelligence Center (Centro Nacional de Inteligencia, CNI) will be to fight organized crime.


To optimize efficiency, the agency will act as a central collection point for information generated by all other intelligence and justice entities in the country, including the police, military, Attorney General’s Office (Procuraduría General de la República, PGR), and other federal and state agencies. As Osorio Chong explained, it will “work towards the necessary bringing together of all information.”

Mexican intelligence experts have already been consulting for some months now with their Colombian, French, Spanish, U.K., and U.S. counterparts on issues related to the formation of this new agency. The CNI will be structured within the Interior Ministry (Secretaría de Gobernación, Segob), and will report to the existing Mexican Center for Investigation and National Security (Centro de Investigación y Seguridad Nacional, CISEN).

According to Justice Mexico, the agency’s creation follows President Peña Nieto’s campaign promises to demilitarize government strategies in fighting organized crime.

Brazil to investigate death of former president...

Via

A Truth Commission in Brazil says it is looking into the death of former President Juscelino Kubistchek, who died in a 1976 car accident.

A commission official Wednesday said by telephone the investigation began late last year after the bar association of Minas Gerais state delivered a report saying the death was ordered by Brazil's 1964-1985 military regime. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because she was not authorized to speak to the press.

In 2000, then-Rio de Janeiro Gov. Leonel Brizola said the crash that killed Kubistchek was a part of Operation Condor, a continentwide campaign of political killings and torture. Kubistchek was a centrist who opposed the military coup and had hoped to run again for president in 1965. He was president from 1956 to 1961.







Venezuelan vice president says he's target of assassination plot...

Via

Venezuelan Vice President Nicolas Maduro said unidentified groups had entered the country with the aim of assassinating him and the head of the National Assembly as President Hugo Chavez recovers from cancer in Cuba.


Maduro provided no proof of the claim, made at a rally on Wednesday to mark the end of a dictatorship in the OPEC nation 55 years ago, but he said action would be taken shortly.

"For several weeks we've been following groups that have infiltrated the country with the aim of making attempts on the life of (Assembly head) Diosdado Cabello and my own," Maduro told a crowd of red-shirted "Chavista" supporters. "They will not manage it against either of us."

Chavez named Maduro as his preferred successor before he went to Cuba in early December for surgery, his fourth operation in 18 months for an undisclosed form of cancer in his pelvis that was first diagnosed in mid-2011.

Chavez has not been seen in public nor heard from since then. Venezuela's government says his condition is improving after he suffered multiple complications caused by the December 11 surgery.

Officials say he is in "good spirits" but no date has been set for his return home. Maduro said he and the energy minister would travel to Havana on Wednesday to see Chavez.

"NONSENSE"

Uncertainty over the 58-year-old president's fragile health has raised the specter of political instability in the deeply polarized South American country of 29 million people.

During his 14 years in power, Chavez has repeatedly accused Venezuela's "traitorous" opposition leaders of plotting to kill him, but offered little proof.

The opposition says the charges are a smokescreen to distract from Venezuela's daily problems such a shortages of staple goods, high inflation and one of the worst crime rates in the world.

"Now Maduro comes with the little story that we want to see an attempt against his life and that of Al Capone," opposition leader Henrique Capriles said on Twitter, referring to Cabello as the Prohibition-era U.S. gangster. "Absolute nonsense!"

Both the opposition and the ruling Socialist Party had originally planned large marches for Wednesday January 23.

It is an emotive date for Venezuelans that recalls the day in 1958 when military dictator Marcos Perez Jimenez fled the country amid widespread riots and a coup by rebel soldiers.

That had raised the possibility of supporters clashing in the streets, but the opposition subsequently decided to hold a meeting instead at a large hall in eastern Caracas.

In the city center, three separate marches by Chavez supporters converged on the 23 de Enero neighborhood, which was named after the day Jimenez was toppled from power. The demonstrations were smaller than other protests held in recent months.

Wearing a red and white tracksuit and speaking from the stage, former bus driver Maduro said the words the opposition used about him and Cabello - an ex-army buddy of Chavez - betrayed their disdain for Venezuela's poor.

"It is the condescending language of an oligarchy that will never understand who we are, who Chavez is, who the people are," Maduro told the crowd, many of whom waved posters of Chavez or wore T-shirts emblazoned with the image of his eyes.

"They say 'We must to get rid of that little lieutenant and that bus driver,'" Maduro said. "Don't be surprised by the actions that are taken in the coming hours and the coming days. The criminals who infiltrate our country can't ask for mercy."

Monday, January 21, 2013

The US was operating in Mali months prior to French incursion...

Via ICH

Last week we reported that in the aftermath of the so far disastrous French campaign to eradicate "rebels" in the north of Mali, because of their implied threat fo Europe, that "US Drones, Boots Arrive In Mali." Turns out we were wrong, and as the case virtually always is, for some reason there was already a US presence of at least three US commandos in Mali in the summer of 2012. What they were doing there remains a mystery, as it is a mystery if the ever co-present flip flops on the ground were there inciting the perpetual scapegoat Al Qaeda to do this, or that. Or maybe it was not the CIA. Maybe it was the Army's "little-known and secretive" branch known as the Intelligence and Security Command. Regardless, what becomes obvious is that while the US was on the ground and engaged in secret missions, it needed an alibi to avoid "destabilizing" the local situation once its presence became conventional wisdom. It got just that, thank to one Francois Hollande just over a week ago.


From the WaPo, as of July 8, 2012:

In pre-dawn darkness, a ­Toyota Land Cruiser skidded off a bridge in North Africa in the spring, plunging into the Niger River. When rescuers arrived, they found the bodies of three U.S. Army commandos — alongside three dead women.

What the men were doing in the impoverished country of Mali, and why they were still there a month after the United States suspended military relations with its government, is at the crux of a mystery that officials have not fully explained even 10 weeks later.

At the very least, the April 20 accident exposed a team of Special Operations forces that had been working for months in Mali, a Saharan country racked by civil war and a rising Islamist insurgency. More broadly, the crash has provided a rare glimpse of elite U.S. commando units in North Africa, where they have been secretly engaged in counterterrorism actions against al-Qaeda affiliates.

The Obama administration has not publicly acknowledged the existence of the missions, although it has spoken in general about plans to rely on Special Operations forces as a cornerstone of its global counterterrorism strategy. In recent years, the Pentagon has swelled the ranks and resources of the Special Operations Command, which includes such units as the Navy SEALs and the Army’s Delta Force, even as the overall number of U.S. troops is shrinking.

At the same time, the crash in Mali has revealed some details of the commandos’ clandestine activities that apparently had little to do with counterterrorism. The women killed in the wreck were identified as Moroccan prostitutes who had been riding with the soldiers, according to a senior Army official and a U.S. counterterrorism consultant briefed on the incident, both of whom spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the matter.

The Army’s Criminal Investigation Command, which is conducting a probe of the fatal plunge off the Martyrs Bridge in Bamako, the capital of Mali, said it does not suspect foul play but has “not completely ruled it out.” Other Army officials cited poor road conditions and excessive speed as the likely cause of the 5 a.m. crash.

U.S. officials have revealed few details about the soldiers’ mission or their backgrounds, beyond a brief news release announcing their deaths hours after the accident.

In many countries, including most in Africa, Special Operations forces work openly to distribute humanitarian aid and train local militaries. At times, the civil-affairs assignments can provide credible cover for clandestine counterterrorism units.

But in Mali, U.S. military personnel had ceased all training and civil-affairs work by the end of March, about a week after the country’s democratically elected president was overthrown in a military coup.

The military’s Africa Command, which oversees operations on the continent, said the three service members killed were among “a small number of personnel” who had been aiding the Malian military before the coup and had remained in the country to “provide assistance to the U.S. Embassy” and “maintain situational awareness on the unfolding events.”

Megan Larson-Kone, a public affairs officer for the U.S. Embassy in Mali, said the soldiers had stayed in Bamako because they were “winding down” civil-affairs programs in the aftermath of the coup while holding out hope “that things would turn around quickly” so they could resume their work.

Two of the soldiers, Capt. ­Daniel H. Utley, 33, and Sgt. 1st Class Marciano E. Myrthil, 39, were members of the 91st Civil Affairs Battalion, 95th Civil Affairs Brigade, which is based at Fort Bragg, N.C.

For two months after the crash, the U.S. military withheld the identity of the third soldier killed. In response to inquiries from The Washington Post, the Army named him as Master Sgt. Trevor J. Bast, 39, a communications technician with the Intelligence and Security Command at Fort Belvoir.

Enter the Intelligence And Security Command

The Intelligence and Security Command is a little-known and secretive branch of the Army that specializes in communications intercepts. Its personnel often work closely with the military’s Joint Special Operations Command, which oversees missions to capture or kill terrorism suspects overseas.

During his two decades of service, Bast revealed little about the nature of his work to his family. “He did not tell us a lot about his life, and we respected that for security purposes,” his mother, Thelma Bast of Gaylord, Mich., said in a brief interview. “We never asked questions, and that’s the honest truth.”

Why Mali?

U.S. counterterrorism officials have long worried about Mali, a weakly governed country of 14.5 million people that has served as a refuge for Islamist militants allied with al-Qaeda.

With only 6,000 poorly equipped troops, the Malian armed forces have always struggled to maintain control of their territory, about twice the size of Texas. Repeated famines and rebellions by Tuareg nomads only exacerbated the instability.

About six years ago, the Pentagon began bolstering its overt aid and training programs in Mali, as well as its clandestine operations.

Under a classified program code-named Creek Sand, dozens of U.S. personnel and contractors were deployed to West Africa to conduct surveillance missions over the country with single-engine aircraft designed to look like civilian passenger planes.

In addition, the military flew spy flights over Mali and other countries in the region with ­longer-range P-3 Orion aircraft based in the Mediterranean, according to classified U.S. diplomatic cables obtained by the anti-secrecy group WikiLeaks.

In what would have represented a significant escalation of U.S. military involvement in Mali, the Pentagon also considered a ­secret plan in 2009 to embed American commandos with ­Malian ground troops, diplomatic cables show.

Under that program, code-named Oasis Enabler, U.S. military advisers would conduct ­anti-terrorism operations alongside elite, American-trained ­Malian units. But the idea was rejected by Gillian A. Milovanovic, the ambassador to Mali at the time.

The stumbling block:

In an October 2009 meeting in Bamako with Vice Adm. Robert T. Moeller, deputy chief of the Africa Command, the ambassador called the plan “extremely problematic,” adding that it could create a popular backlash and “risk infuriating” neighbors such as Algeria.

Furthermore, Milovanovic warned that the U.S. advisers “would likely serve as lightning rods, exposing themselves and the Malian contingents to specific risk,” according to a State Department cable summarizing the meeting.

Moeller replied that he “regretted” that the ambassador had not been kept better informed and said Oasis Enabler was “a work in progress.” It is unclear whether the plan was carried out.

Moeller was right, and neighbors such as Algeria eventually did promptly respond in "popular backlash" that led to the deaths of at least one US hostage.

But back to the US Commandos, and, lo and behold, prostitutes:

The soldiers died of “blunt force trauma” when the vehicle landed upside down in the shallow river, crushing the roof, the Army said.

The Special Operations Command said it could not answer questions about where the soldiers were going, nor why they were traveling with the unidentified Moroccan women, saying the matter is under investigation.

Larson-Kone, the embassy spokeswoman, said the soldiers were on “personal, not business-related travel” at the time, but she declined to provide details. Officials from the Africa Command also said that they did not know who the women were, but they added in a statement: “From what we know now, we have no reason to believe these women were engaged in acts of prostitution.”

Hookers or not, what is obvious is that the US did have a largely secretive presence in Mali, which may or may not have led to ongoing social destabilization, which ultimately provided none other than the US with the ultimate cover to engage in whatever "anti-terrorist" operations it so chose. The name of the cover?

France.



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