Aletho News


EFF Posts Documents Detailing U.S. Law Enforcement Collection of Data From Social Media Sites

By Marcia Hofman | Electronic Frontier Foundation | March 17, 2010

EFF has posted documents shedding light on how law enforcement agencies use social networking sites to gather information in investigations. The records, obtained from the Internal Revenue Service and Department of Justice Criminal Division, are the first in a series of documents that will be released through a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) case that EFF filed with the help of the UC Berkeley Samuelson Clinic.

One of the most interesting files is a 2009 training course that describes how IRS employees may use various Internet tools — including social networking sites and Google Street View — to investigate taxpayers.

The IRS should be commended for its detailed training that clearly prohibits employees from using deception or fake social networking accounts to obtain information. Its policies generally limit employees to using publicly available information. The good example set by the IRS is in stark contrast to the U.S. Marshalls and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. Neither organization found any documents on social networking sites in response to EFF’s request suggesting they do not have any written policies or restrictions upon the use of these websites.

The documents released by the IRS also include excerpts from the Internal Revenue Manual explaining that employees aren’t allowed to use government computers to access social networking sites for personal communication, and cautioning them to be careful to avoid any appearance that they’re speaking on behalf of the IRS when making personal use of social media.

The Justice Department released a presentation entitled “Obtaining and Using Evidence from Social Networking Sites.” The slides, which were prepared by two lawyers from the agency’s Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Section, detail several social media companies’ data retention practices and responses to law enforcement requests. The presentation notes that Facebook was “often cooperative with emergency requests” while complaining about Twitter’s short data retention policies and refusal to preserve data without legal process. The presentation also touches on use of social media for undercover operations.

Over the next few months, EFF will be getting more documents from several law enforcement and intelligence agencies concerning their use of social networking sites for investigative purposes. We’ll post those files here as they arrive.

March 17, 2010 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance | Comments Off on EFF Posts Documents Detailing U.S. Law Enforcement Collection of Data From Social Media Sites

Yet Another Political Show Trial: Why the Prosecution of Demjanjuk is Malicious

By Dirk Steil | Aletho News | March 17, 2010

John Demjanjuk, who turns 90 next month, is on trial in Munich for having allegedly been an accessory to the killing of 27,900 people at a labor camp at Sobibor in Poland during the second World War. This trial is for the benefit of a group of obsessive Jews within the holocaust industry and as a shallow public relations stunt by the German government to “atone”, as it were, for having failed to prosecute known mass murderers many decades ago.

In a proper court case, the prosecution would have to prove that the numbers of people alleged were murdered at the camp during the period in question, that Demjanjuk was present there, and that he assisted willingly, in the sense of having had an option to simply refuse such activities.

The first point, the alleged murders, was not subject to challenge, even though much controversy and opaqueness surrounds the circumstances there at that camp.

The second point, that Demjanjuk was present there, has not been proven conclusively either because Demjanjuk denies having been at the location, and no affirmative corroboration has been presented.

Even if one accepts the first two points above, the court must present evidence that Demjanjuk was a willing participant. This central aspect is now unravelling. Yesterday and today, an expert witness associated with the University in Munich, who had written a doctoral dissertation on the circumstances during that period in Galicia, appeared at the trial to answer questions. This mainstream scholar has corroborated the following key arguments maintained by Demjanjuk and his defense for years:

The testimony from decades ago – by a man (now dead) claiming that he and Demjanjuk participated in the killing of prisoners – is unreliable because it is very likely, that it was coerced under torture.

Circumstances in the camps for Soviet red army prisoners, of which Demjanjuk was one, were so awful that millions (more than half of them) died, and that volunteering to assist the Nazis instead was a means of avoiding death by starvation or disease.

Prisoners from the Red Army who volunteered were not told what they would be required to do.

Once these prisoners were sent to other camps to work as guards, refusing orders or being caught after an unsuccessful attempt to escape would have likely resulted in death.

These key facts should not come as a revelation because this information was already known beforehand. The prosecution certainly must have know this too but decided to proceed nonetheless. That is why this case is another political show trial, just as a prior case Demjanjuk had to endure decades ago in Israel was also a propaganda show trial, for the sake of shamelessly perpetuating the Jewish holocaust narrative. Demjanjuk was exonerated on appeal in that case in which he had initially been sentenced to death.

It is rather interesting to note, that thus far there has still not been any independent report in the German news media about the proceedings during the past two days. Telling the public that the prosecution’s case has fallen apart in light of the expert testimony is apparently not “politically correct”.

As has already been suggested by legal experts before the trial got underway, Demjanjuk cannot be legitimately convicted of the charges brought against him. However, that does not mean that the court will not convict him anyway because, after all, this is a political show trial, where facts are secondary and propaganda is what matters.

March 17, 2010 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | 1 Comment

The War on Afghan Civilians

Expecting Gen. McChrystal to Protect Afghan Civilians is Like Hiring Ted Bundy to Combat Sexual Harassment in the Workplace

By DAVE LINDORFF | March 17, 2010

Three months after it initially lied about the murder by US forces of eight high school students and a 12-year-old shepherd boy in Afghanistan, and a month after it lied about the slaughter by US forces of an Afghan police commander, a government prosecutor, two of their pregnant wives and a teenage daughter, the US military has been forced to admit (thanks in no small part to the excellent investigative reporting of Jerome Starkey of the London Times), that these and other atrocities were the work of American Special Forces, working in conjunction with “specially trained” (by the US) units of the Afghan Army.

Gen. Stanley McChrystal, the commander of the US war effort in Afghanistan, says he is taking over “direct charge” of Special Forces operations because of “concern” that they were not following his orders to make limiting civilian casualties a “paramount” objective. McChrystal is quoted as saying the US military “carries the burden of the guilt” for the “mistakes” made by those Special Forces.

This has to be a sick joke. These incidents were not mistakes; they were planned actions. It’s all the sicker because we know that the US is busy training the Afghan Army to take over this kind of dirty work. And besides, even if McChrystal does assume direct command over Special Forces, that would leave unaccounted for the tens of thousands of private mercenary units hired by the US who are working completely in the shadows for the CIA or other organizations. (One such group hired buy the Defense Department, which posed as an intelligence-gathering operation, was recently exposed as actually being a privately run death squad.)

McChrystal, recall, was in charge of a huge and brutal death squad operation in Iraq before he was given his new assignment in Afghanistan, and at the time he was put in charge of the Afghanistan War, it was reported that he was planning to put in place a similar operation in Afghanistan, designed to take out the Taliban leadership in the country.

What we have been seeing in Afghanistan–and this goes way back to before the appointment of McChrystal, or even the election of President Barack Obama, and his subsequent escalation of the war–has been a vicious campaign of terror against the Afghan people.

It should be no surprise that this is so. It is the way the US has always done counterinsurgency. In a war in which the insurgents (or patriots, if you will–the people fighting against foreign occupiers, or in out case, the US) are a part of the people, and American forces are the invaders, the goal is to drive a wedge between those fighters and the rest of the population.

In Pentagon propaganda, this is referred to as “winning the hearts and minds” of the people, but in reality, the US military doesn’t give a damn about hearts and minds. It simply wants the people to become unwilling to hide or support the enemy fighters it is facing. If it can accomplish that by making people afraid, then that is what it will do, and making people afraid is much easier than “winning hearts and minds.”

How do you make people afraid of supporting or hiding and protecting enemy fighters like the Taliban? You terrorize them. You bomb their homes. You conduct night raids on their homes. You bomb their weddings and their excursions to neighboring towns or markets. You shoot them when they get too close to your vehicles.

Statistics show that the US has, in both Iraq and now Afghanistan, routinely killed more civilians than actual enemy fighters. That tells us all we need to know about what is really going on. America is fighting a war of terror against the people of Afghanistan.

No amount of feigned public hand-wringing by the blood-stained Gen. McChrystal, or of assertions that he is going to assume direct control (from whom? are we to assume that they were operating without direction before?) of the Special Operations troops in the country, will alter that fact. Civilians–including especially women and children–in Afghanistan will continue to die in prodigious numbers because that is how the US fights its wars these days.

The people of Afghanistan know this. That’s why the majority of them want the US out of their country.

It’s Americans who don’t know the truth, and it’s Americans who are really the target of statements from the Pentagon and from Gen. McChrystal claiming that the US is taking steps, nine years into this war, to “reduce civilian casualties” in Afghanistan. It doesn’t help that news organizations like the New York Times propagate that propaganda, as the paper did today in a lead headline that said: “US is Reining in Special Forces in Afghanistan. General Takes Control. McChrystal has Raised Civilian Casualties as a Concern.” It simply wouldn’t do to tell Americans that their country is conducting a war of terror. We are supposed to be the good guys who are bringing peace and democracy to a benighted land.

So let’s just face the facts squarely. The US is not the good guy in Afghanistan. It is an agent of death and destruction. Just check out the town of Marjah, largely destroyed over the last few months in order to “save” it from a handful of Taliban fighters. Over 30 civilians died in that American show of force, and the message of those deaths was clear: allow the Taliban to operate in your town, and we’ll kill you–not just your men, but your wives and your children, too.

March 17, 2010 Posted by | Illegal Occupation, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, War Crimes | Comments Off on The War on Afghan Civilians

Deutsche Bank *really* wants us to trade carbon

Joanne Nova | March 15, 2010

Six months ago, Deutsche Bank was overcome with concern about the planet—bless its soul–and launched this 70 ft. vision of climate doom opposite Madison Square Gardens, New York. You can feel relieved. The bank paid for the carbon credits (no doubt through one of its own funds), so the 40,960 low-energy light-emitting diodes are “carbon-neutral.”

Kevin Parker for Deutsche Asset Management said: “We hope with this sign that it is going to foster a sense of urgency about the problem, raise public awareness, create a need for education and really spur a call for action”

Spurring action indeed. “Sign Copenhagen; Sign Cap N Trade; Give us that $2 trillion dollar market based on meaningless paper permits, and funded by consumers everywhere. Please!”

In a more candid moment, Parker said: “Well, what we’d like to see is a price on carbon. That is absolutely foremost in everyone’s minds involved in the climate change debate. The governments around the world have to get on with regulations…”

Yes, the real agenda is the legislation: forced payments from citizens.  We all know we aren’t going to see the Deutsche Bank Top-Soil Clock coming soon highlighting the problem of erosion, or the Deutsche Bank Falling Fish Stock Clock…or the Deutsche Bank program to save the spotted owl.

In a brazen ambit, Parker suggested we all might like to invest more in renewable energy: $45 trillion more (over 40 years), and that’s only going to solve half the problem”. There is no end to the audacity.

Is this anything other than blatant advertising for a Cap N Trade scheme? Ponder if Exxon launched a similar billboard with the “costs” of carbon mitigation, it would be vandalized, scorned, and disparaged even by august associations like the Royal Society.

A NASA official would call for corporate heads to be jailed for crimes against humanity.

It’s ok for bankers managing $695 billion-dollar funds to take sides in a science debate…. That’s not the same as corporations trying to influence policy.

See also:

In a report for investors, the Deutsche Bank says that more action is needed to reduce emissions and prevent runaway climate change. Carbon markets are most likely going to fail in the short term to achieve this goal, so stronger incentives, like feed-in tariffs, are recommended. The Bank also recommends auctioning the emissions permits, to get revenue to finance the decarbonization of societies (link).

March 17, 2010 Posted by | Deception | Comments Off on Deutsche Bank *really* wants us to trade carbon