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Federal Appeals Court Lets FBI off the Hook after It Lied to a Judge

By Ken Broder | AllGov | August 12, 2013

Yes, the FBI was spying on the Muslim community in Southern California and, yes, it lied to a federal judge about the existence of documents relevant to a case regarding that   surveillance.

But, no, the FBI shouldn’t be sanctioned for its behavior.

That was the ruling by the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, which disagreed with U.S. District Judge Cormac J. Carney, who ordered the government in 2011 to pay court costs for those bringing suit on behalf of the Islamic Shura Council of Southern California, an umbrella organization of mosques and Muslim organizations that has operated in Southern California since 1995.

The civil liberties case before the District Court alleged that U.S. authorities illegally spied on mosques in 2006 and 2007. The FBI was accused of sending an undercover informant into several Orange County mosques as part of Operation Flex and may have collected information on hundreds of people. The FBI admitted that it used the informant, but demanded that the case be tossed for national security reasons.

Lawyers for the mosques demanded to see surveillance records on the plaintiffs. The FBI told the judge it had provided all the information within the scope of the plaintiffs’ original Freedom of Information Act request. That wasn’t true and an incensed Judge Carney sanctioned the FBI.

“The Government cannot, under any circumstance, affirmatively mislead the Court,” Judge Carney wrote.

But the Ninth Court of Appeals said that wasn’t true and reversed his ruling. You can, apparently lie to a judge if later on you admit you lied.

The FBI had initially released eight heavily-redacted pages of information in response to the lawsuit brought against them and said that was all there was. But eventually they coughed up another 100 pages of equally heavily-redacted documents that they showed the judge privately in camera. Then, later, the FBI produced yet more documents.

In response to the serial deception, Carney wrote in his 2011 ruling, “The court must impose monetary sanctions to deter the government from deceiving the court again.”

The three-judge appellate panel disagreed, cited what is known as a safe harbor provision of the law, and reversed on procedural grounds, saying what counted was the fact that the judge eventually got the documents.

A frustrated Judge Carney tossed out the spying lawsuit against the FBI in August 2012 for national security reasons, likening himself to a fictional Greek hero who must save all those around him at the expense of a few. “Odysseus opted to pass by the monster and risk a few of his individual sailors, rather than hazard the loss of his entire ship to the sucking whirlpool,” the apologetic judge wrote.

To Learn More:

No Sanctions for FBI’s Evasive Court Tactics (by Tim Hull, Courthouse News Service)

Judge Sanctions FBI for Hiding Info from Him (by Tim Hull, Courthouse News Service)

Mosques Will Not Get Day in Court to Contest U.S. Spying (by Ken Broder, AllGov California)

Federal Court Sanctions FBI for Lying about Surveillance Records (by Noel Brinkerhoff and David Wallechinsky, AllGov)

Islamic Shura Council of Southern California et al v. Federal Bureau of Investigation  (U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals) (pdf)

August 13, 2013 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Deception | , , , | Comments Off on Federal Appeals Court Lets FBI off the Hook after It Lied to a Judge

US engineers civil wars in Mideast to create Greater Israel: Analyst

Press TV – August 13, 2013

The United States is engineering the ongoing civil wars across the Middle East to assist the Israeli regime in implementing its scenario of the Greater Israel stretching from the Nile to the Euphrates, a political analyst says.

“Why does the US feel the need to destroy Middle Eastern countries? Ironically, it isn’t even about US interests. It’s about Israel’s ‘Oded Yinon plan’ to annihilate Israel’s neighbors and seize all the land between the Nile and the Euphrates for Greater Israel,” Kevin Barrett wrote in a article for the Press TV website.

He laid the blame on Washington for the ongoing conflicts in Iraq, Syria and Egypt.

“Instead of simply murdering anti-government activists to prop up an American-owned puppet dictator, the US now sponsors death squads on both sides of the political-religious divide. The purpose: Create a civil war to weaken the targeted nation,” he pointed out.”

Regarding the appointment of Robert Ford, who is known to be the organizer of death squads in Iraq and Syria, as the next US ambassador to Egypt, Barrett said: “Ford’s appointment sends a clear message: US policymakers want to destroy Egypt in the same way they have destroyed Iraq and Syria – by using death squads and false-flag terror to incite civil war.”

Barrett noted that between 2004 and 2006, Ford was a key figure in creating US-sponsored al-Qaeda death squad units to “brutally and indiscriminately” attack Shia victims “in the hope that it would alienate the larger Sunni community and lead to sectarian civil war.”

“In 2011, Ford was made Ambassador to Syria – and suddenly a wave of violence created the same kind of civil war that still rages in Iraq,” the article read.

Barrett said Ford’s death squads in Syria comprise well-trained professional killers who disguise themselves as the Syrian army soldiers and fire from rooftop at people demonstrating against the policies of President Bashar al-Assad.

Other death squad members were stationed at different rooftops and fired at the Syrian security forces, creating the impression that they were anti-government demonstrators, the analyst wrote.

Barrett predicted that Ford will pursue a similar scenario in Egypt. “They will then encourage the Egyptian junta to arrest, torture, and murder even more peaceful protestors than it already has.”

Egypt has plunged into unrelenting unrest since July 3, when the country’s powerful army removed former president Mohamed Morsi from office and declared chief Justice of Egypt’s Supreme Constitutional Court, Adly Mansour, as the interim president.

Morsi supporters led by Muslim Brotherhood have condemned the move as “a military coup” and vowed to continue their street rallies against the interim government.

Barret argued that the only way to avert this “impending genocide” is that “all Middle Eastern people, regardless of religion or nationality, must unite and resist the Zionist-sponsored destruction of their lands.”

August 13, 2013 Posted by | Deception, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, False Flag Terrorism | , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Chair of US Joint Chiefs of Staff arrives in Israel for talks

MEMO | August 13, 2013

General Martin Dempsey will meet with a number of senior IDF leaders to review ‘mutual security challenges’
The Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff arrived in Israel on Monday where he will be a guest of his Israeli counterpart, Israel Defence Forces Chief of Staff Benny Gantz. During his stay, General Martin Dempsey will meet with a number of senior IDF leaders to discuss means of cooperation between Israel and the US, and to review “mutual security challenges”. Dempsey will also meet with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defence Minister Moshe Ya’alon.

According to an article in Yedioth Ahronoth written by Nahum Barnea, the Israelis will use the opportunity to present to the US their vision of a solution for the dilemma that America is facing regarding the crisis in Syria. They will also address the debate between those who call for supporting the Assad regime to prevent the rise of extremist Islamists, like Al Qaeda and Jabhat Al Nusra, and those who believe in the need to topple Assad’s regime first, through reinforcing the Free Syrian Army.

Barnea said that Israel’s plan depends on two distinct phases. The first includes providing more assistance to the Free Syrian Army, especially weapons and equipment, along with a no-fly zone. Israel believes that the US is capable of imposing a no-fly zone on the Syrian Air Force at little cost.

The second phase would be implemented after Assad’s ouster. Israel wants the Americans to support Syria’s secularists in expelling jihadi movements out of the country. Although this is a theoretical solution with no guarantees, Barnea believes that Israel is convinced that it is possible.

August 13, 2013 Posted by | Militarism, Wars for Israel | , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Chair of US Joint Chiefs of Staff arrives in Israel for talks

Jennifer Hoelzer’s Insider’s View Of The Administration’s Response To NSA Surveillance Leaks

By Jennifer Hoelzer | Techdirt | August 10, 2013

In a bit of fortuitous timing, this week we had asked former deputy chief of staff for Ron Wyden, Jennifer Hoelzer, to do our weekly “Techdirt Favorites of the Week” post, in which we have someone from the wider Techdirt community tell us what their favorite posts on the site were. As you’ll see below, Hoelzer has a unique and important perspective on this whole debate concerning NSA surveillance, and given the stories that came out late Friday, she chose to ditch her original post on favorites and rewrite the whole thing from scratch last night (and into this morning). Given that, it’s much, much more than a typical “favorites of the week” post, and thus we’ve adjusted the title appropriately. I hope you’ll read through this in its entirety for a perspective on what’s happening that not many have.

Tim Cushing made one of my favorite points of the week in his Tuesday post “Former NSA Boss Calls Snowden’s Supporters Internet Shut-ins; Equates Transparency Activists With Al-Qaeda,” when he explained that “some of the most ardent defenders of our nation’s surveillance programs” — much like proponents of overreaching cyber-legislation, like SOPA — have a habit of “belittling” their opponents as a loose confederation of basement-dwelling loners.” I think it’s worth pointing out that General Hayden’s actual rhetoric is even more inflammatory than Cushing’s. Not only did the former NSA director call us “nihilists, anarchists, activists, Lulzsec, Anonymous, twenty-somethings who haven’t talked to the opposite sex in five or six years,” he equates transparency groups like the ACLU with al Qaeda.

I appreciated this post for two reasons:

First of all, it does a great job of illustrating a point that I’ve long made when asked for advice on communicating tech issues, which is that the online community is as diverse and varied as the larger world we live in. Of course, we are more likely to come across the marginal opinions of twenty-somethings with social anxiety online because, unlike the larger world, the Internet gives those twenty-somethings just as much of an opportunity to be heard as a Harvard scholar, a dissident protesting for democracy or General Hayden himself.

Sure, it can be infuriating to read scathingly hostile comments written by troubled individuals who clearly didn’t take the time to read the post you spent countless hours carefully writing (not that that has ever happened to me) but isn’t one of the things that makes the Internet so darn special its unwavering reminder that free speech includes speech we don’t appreciate? Of course, that’s a point that tends to get lost on folks — like General Hayden — who don’t seem to understand that equating the entirety of the online world with terrorists is a lot like posting a scathing comment to a story without reading it. You can’t expect someone to treat you or your opinion with respect — online or anywhere else — when you’re being disrespectful. And I can imagine no greater disrespect for the concepts of transparency and oversight than to equate them with the threats posed by terrorist groups like al Qaeda.

But my main reason for singling out Tim’s post this week is that Hayden’s remark goes to the heart of what I continue to find most offensive about the Administration’s handling of the NSA surveillance programs, which is their repeated insinuation that anyone who raises concerns about national security programs doesn’t care about national security. As Tim explains this “attitude fosters the “us vs. them” antagonism so prevalent in these agencies dealings with the public. The NSA (along with the FBI, DEA and CIA) continually declares the law is on its side and portrays its opponents as ridiculous dreamers who believe safety doesn’t come with a price.”

To understand why I find this remark so offensive, I should probably tell you a little about myself. While the most identifying aspect of my resume is probably the six years I spent as U.S. Senator Ron Wyden’s communications director and later deputy chief of staff, I started college at the U.S. Naval Academy and spent two years interning for the National Security Council. I had a Top Secret SCI clearance when I was 21 years old and had it not been for an unusual confluence of events nearly 15 years ago — including a chance conversation with a patron of the bar I tended in college — I might be working for the NSA today. I care very deeply about national security. Moreover — and this is what the Obama Administration and other proponents of these programs fail to understand — I was angry at the Administration for its handling of these programs long before I knew what the NSA was doing. That had a lot to do with the other thing you should probably know about me: during my tenure in Wyden’s office, I probably spent in upwards of 1,000 hours trying to help my boss raise concerns about programs that he couldn’t even tell me about.

Which brings me to my next favorite Techdirt post of the week, Mike’s Friday post entitled “Don’t Insult Our Intelligence, Mr. President: This Debate Wouldn’t Be Happening Without Ed Snowden,” which is a much less profane way of summing up my feelings about the President’s “claim that he had already started this process prior to the Ed Snowden leaks and that it’s likely we would [have] ended up in the same place” without Snowden’s disclosure.

“What makes us different from other countries is not simply our ability to secure our nation,” Obama said. “It’s the way we do it, with open debate and democratic process.”

I hope you won’t mind if I take a moment to respond to that.

Really, Mr. President? Do you really expect me to believe that you give a damn about open debate and the democratic process? Because it seems to me if your Administration was really committed to those things, your Administration wouldn’t have blocked every effort to have an open debate on these issues each time the laws that your Administration claims authorize these programs came up for reauthorization, which — correct me if I am wrong — is when the democratic process recommends as the ideal time for these debates.

For example, in June 2009, six months before Congress would have to vote to reauthorize Section 215 of the Patriot Act, which the Obama Administration claims gives the NSA the authority to collect records on basically every American citizen — whether they have ever or will ever come in contact with a terrorist — Senators Wyden, Feingold and Durbin sent Attorney General Eric Holder a classified letter “requesting the declassification of information which [they] argued was critical for a productive debate on reauthorization of the USA PATRIOT Act.”

In November 2009, they sent an unclassified letter reiterating the request, stating:

“The PATRIOT Act was passed in a rush after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. Sunsets were attached to the Act’s most controversial provisions, to permit better-informed, more deliberative consideration of them at a later time. Now is the time for that deliberative consideration, but informed discussion is not possible when most members of Congress – and nearly all of the American public – lack important information about the issue.”

Did President Obama jump at the opportunity to embrace the democratic process and have an open debate then? No. Congress voted the following month to reauthorize the Patriot Act without debate.

In May 2011, before the Senate was — again — scheduled to vote to reauthorize the Patriot Act, Senators Wyden and Udall — again — called for the declassification of the Administration’s secret interpretation of Section 215. This time, in a Huffington Post Op-Ed entitled “How Can Congress Debate a Secret Law?” they wrote:

Members of Congress are about to vote to extend the most controversial provisions of the USA PATRIOT Act for four more years, even though few of them understand how those provisions are being interpreted and applied.

As members of the Senate Intelligence Committee we have been provided with the executive branch’s classified interpretation of those provisions and can tell you that we believe there is a significant discrepancy between what most people — including many Members of Congress — think the Patriot Act allows the government to do and what government officials secretly believe the Patriot Act allows them to do.

Legal scholars, law professors, advocacy groups, and the Congressional Research Service have all written interpretations of the Patriot Act and Americans can read any of these interpretations and decide whether they support or agree with them. But by far the most important interpretation of what the law means is the official interpretation used by the U.S. government and this interpretation is — stunningly –classified.

What does this mean? It means that Congress and the public are prevented from having an informed, open debate on the Patriot Act because the official meaning of the law itself is secret. Most members of Congress have not even seen the secret legal interpretations that the executive branch is currently relying on and do not have any staff who are cleared to read them. Even if these members come down to the Intelligence Committee and read these interpretations themselves, they cannot openly debate them on the floor without violating classification rules.

During the debate itself, Wyden and Udall offered an amendment to declassify the Administration’s legal interpretation of its Patriot Act surveillance authorities and, in a twenty minute speech on the Senate floor, Wyden warned that the American people would one day be outraged to learn that the government was engaged in surveillance activities that many Americans would assume were illegal, just as they were every other time the national security committee has tried to hide its questionable activities from the American people.

Fun aside: As you can see in the video, to underscore the point that hiding programs from the American people rarely goes well for the Administration, I had my staff make a poster of the famous image of Oliver North testifying before Congress during the Iran-Contra hearing. I really wanted to replace North’s face with the words “insert your photo here,” but we didn’t have the time.

Did President Obama welcome an open debate at that time?

No. Congress voted to reauthorize the Patriot Act for four more years and the only point we — as critics — could raise that might be confused with debate was a hypothetical argument illustrated with a twenty-year-old picture of Oliver North. And, again, Senator Wyden couldn’t even tell me what he was so concerned about. In strategy meetings with me and his Intelligence Committee staffer, I had to repeatedly leave the room when the conversation strayed towards details they couldn’t share with me because I no longer had an active security clearance. “You know, it would be a lot easier if you could just tell me what I can’t say?” I’d vent in frustration. They agreed, but still asked me to leave the room.

And that was just the Patriot Act. Did the President — who now claims to welcome open debate of his Administration’s surveillance authorities — jump at the opportunity to have such a debate when the FISA Amendments Act came up for reauthorization?

No. Not only did the Administration repeatedly decline Senator Wyden’s request for a “ballpark figure” of the number of Americans whose information was being collected by the NSA last year, just a month after the Patriot Act reauthorization, the Senate Intelligence Committee attempted to quietly pass a four year reauthorization of the controversial surveillance law by spinning it as an effort to: “Synchronize the various sunset dates included in the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 to June 1, 2015;” So, I guess if this was part of the Administration’s plan to publicly debate the NSA’s surveillance authorities, the plan was for the debate to take place in 2015?

And, as I explained in an interview with Brian Beutler earlier this summer, that is just a fraction of the ways the Obama Administration and the Intelligence Communities ignored and even thwarted our attempts to consult the public on these surveillance programs before they were reauthorized. In fact, after the Senate Intelligence Committee hearing in which Wyden attempted to close the FAA’s Section 702 loophole, which another important Techdirt post this week explains, “gives the NSA ‘authority’ to run searches on Americans without any kind of warrant,” I — as Wyden’s spokesperson — was specifically barred from explaining the Senator’s opposition to the legislation to the reporters. In fact, the exact response I was allowed to give reporters was:

“We’ve been told by Senator Feinstein’s staff that under the SSCI’s Committee Rule 9.3, members and staff are prohibited from discussing the markup or describing the contents of the bill until the official committee report is released. The fact that they’ve already put out a press release does not lift this prohibition.

That’s right, supporters of a full scale reauthorization of the FISA Amendments Act put out a press release explaining why this was a good thing, while explicitly barring the Senator who voted against the legislation from explaining his concerns.

Months later, the FISA Amendments Act, which the Administration contends authorizes its PRISM program, passed without the open debate that the President now contends he wanted all along. And, again, I’m only touching on a fraction of the efforts just Senator Wyden made to compel the administration to engage the American people in a democratic debate. I, obviously, haven’t mentioned the Director of National Intelligence’s decision to lie when Wyden “asked whether the NSA had collected ‘any type of data at all on millions of Americans.'” (Btw: Given that Wyden shared his question with the ODNI the day before the hearing, I am highly skeptical that Clapper’s decision to lie was made unilaterally.) Or the fact that the Obama Administration repeatedly fought lawsuits and FOIA requests for, again — not sources and methods — but the Section 215 legal interpretation that the Administration claims authorizes its surveillance authorities.

The below is an excerpt from a March 2012 letter that Wyden and Udall sent the Obama Administration urging them to respect the democratic process:

The Justice Department’s motion to dismiss these Freedom of Information Act lawsuits argues that it is the responsibility of the executive branch to determine the best way to protect the secrecy of intelligence sources and methods. While this is indeed a determination for the executive branch to make, we are concerned that the executive branch has developed a practice of bypassing traditional checks and balances and treating these determinations as dispositive in all cases. In other words, when intelligence officials argue that something should stay secret, policy makers often seem to defer to them without carefully considering the issue themselves. We have great respect for our nation’s intelligence officers, the vast majority of whom are hard-working and dedicated professionals. But intelligence officials are specialists — it is their job to determine how to collect as much information as possible, but it is not their job to balance the need for secrecy with the public’s right to know how the law is being interpreted. That responsibility rests with policy makers, and we believe that responsibility should not be delegated lightly.

But, as Mike’s last post on Friday explains, “President Obama flat out admitted that this was about appeasing a public that doesn’t trust the administration, not about reducing the surveillance.” Mike’s insight continues:

Even more to the point, his comments represent a fundamental misunderstanding of why the public doesn’t trust the government. That’s because he keeps insisting that the program isn’t being abused and that all of this collection is legal. But, really, that’s not what the concern is about. Even though we actually know that the NSA has a history of abuse (and other parts of the intelligence community before that), a major concern is that scooping up so much data is considered legal in the first place.

I’d go even further than that and argue that a big part of the reason the American people are having a hard time trusting their government is that the public’s trust in government is harmed every time the American people learn that their government is secretly doing something they not only assumed was illegal but that government officials specifically told them they weren’t doing. Hint: When the American people learn that you lied to them, they trust you less.

I think it’s hard for the American people to trust their President when he says he respects democratic principles, when his actions over the course of nearly five years demonstrate very little respect for democratic principles.

I think the American people would be more likely to trust the President when he says these programs include safeguards that protect their privacy, if he — or anyone else in his administration — seemed to care about privacy rights or demonstrated an understanding of how the information being collected could be abused. Seriously, how are we supposed to trust safeguards devised by people who don’t believe there is anything to safeguard against?

I think it’s understandably hard for the American people to trust the President when he says his Administration has the legal authority to conduct these surveillance programs when one of the few things that remains classified about these programs is the legal argument that the administration says gives the NSA the authority to conduct these programs. This is the document that explains why the Administration believes the word “relevant” gives them the authority to collect everything. It’s also the document I’d most like to see since it’s the document my former boss has been requesting be declassified for more than half a decade. (A reporter recently asked me why I think the Administration won’t just declassify the legal opinion given that the sources and methods it relates to have already been made public. “I think that’s pretty obvious,” I said. “I believe it will be much harder for the Administration to claim that these programs are legal, if people can see their legal argument.”)

I think it’s hard for the American people to trust the President when his administration has repeatedly gone out of its way to silence critics and — again — treat oversight as a threat on par with al Qaeda. As another great Techdirt post this week — US Releases Redacted Document Twice… With Different Redactions — illustrates, many of the Intelligence Community’s classification decisions seem to be based more on a desire to avoid criticism than clear national security interests. And as Senator Wyden said back in 2007, when then CIA Director Hayden (yes, the same guy who thinks we’re all losers who can’t get laid) attempted to undermine oversight over his agency by launching an investigation into the CIA’s inspector general, “people who know that they’re doing the right thing aren’t afraid of oversight.”

Which reminds me of the Techdirt post this week that probably haunted me the most. Ed Snowden’s Email Provider, Lavabit, Shuts Down To Fight US Gov’t Intrusion. Mike uses the post to explain that Ladar Levison, the owner and operator of Labavit — the secure email service that provided Edward Snowden’s email account — decided to shut down his email service this week.

Not much more information is given, other than announced plans to fight against the government in court. Reading between the lines, it seems rather obvious that Lavabit has been ordered to either disclose private information or grant access to its secure email accounts, and the company is taking a stand and shutting down the service while continuing the legal fight. It’s also clear that the court has a gag order on Levison, limiting what can be said.

The part that haunted me, though, was a line Levon included in his email informing customers of his decision:

“I feel you deserve to know what’s going on,” he wrote. “The first amendment is supposed to guarantee me the freedom to speak out in situations like this.”

He’s right, isn’t he? If these aren’t the moments the First Amendment was meant for, what are? Moreover, if the Administration is so convinced that its requests of Labavit are just, why are they afraid to hold them up to public scrutiny?

In his book, Secrecy: The American Experience, former Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan included a quote from a 1960 report issued by the House Committee on Operations which I believe provides a far better response than anything I could write on my own:

Secrecy — the first refuge of incompetents — must be at a bare minimum in a democratic society for a fully informed public is the basis of self government. Those elected or appointed to positions of executive authority must recognize that government, in a democracy, cannot be wiser than its people.

Which brings me to my final point (at least for now) I think it’s awfully hard for the American people to trust the President and his administration when their best response to the concerns Americans are raising is to denigrate the Americans raising those concerns. Because, you see, I have a hard time understanding why my wanting to stand up for democratic principles makes me unpatriotic, while the ones calling themselves patriots seem to think so little of the people and the principles that comprise the country they purport to love.

August 13, 2013 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Deception, Progressive Hypocrite | , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Jennifer Hoelzer’s Insider’s View Of The Administration’s Response To NSA Surveillance Leaks

Turkey closes cultural centers in Beirut after kidnapping of pilots, denies responsibility for abducted Lebanese

Al-Manar | August 12, 2013

Turkey has closed its cultural centers and commercial office in Beirut after the kidnap of two Turkish Airlines pilots, Ankara’s ambassador to Lebanon told AFP on Monday.

The two pilots were kidnapped on Friday by a group demanding the release of nine Lebanese pilgrims kidnapped in Syria in May 2012, but reportedly moved to Turkey, a major backer of the kidnapers.

“As a safety measure, the Turkish cultural centre and commercial office in Beirut have suspended their activities,” ambassador Inan Ozyildiz said.

Responsibility for Abduction of Lebanese Pilgrims Denied

Turkish Ambassador to Lebanon Inan Ozyildiz wondered how his country could be responsible for the abduction of the Lebanese pilgrims in Syria, saying that Turkey does not even have an embassy or consulate in the neighboring country, As-Safir newspaper reported on Tuesday.

He told the daily: “Our negotiations to release all the pilgrims failed because of the complexity of the case.” “What will Turkey gain in delaying their release? What is it seeking to achieve if its interests are being harmed?” he asked. “How could Turkey have kidnapped the pilgrims? Does it have control over Syrian territories?” he wondered.

“It cannot be responsible for the abductions that have been taking place and it only intervened in the case from a humanitarian approach and in return it was met with a second abduction of Turkish nationals in Lebanon in less than a year,” said Ozyildiz.

Commenting on the kidnapping of two Turkish pilots in Lebanon on Friday, the ambassador said: “The case is in the hands of Lebanon’s security and political authorities.” He added that he is in contact with all security officials, including General Security chief Abbas Ibrahim, to follow up on the case.

Ozyildiz said however that Turkey’s decision to advise its citizens against traveling to Lebanon is only a preliminary measure and further ones will be taken if any new development takes place in the case of the two pilots.

A Turkish pilot and co-pilot were kidnapped on Friday. Six gunmen intercepted a van carrying the Turkish Airlines employees from Rafik Hariri International Airport to a hotel in the Ain Mreisseh seafront at dawn Friday, kidnapping the two pilots – Murat Akpinar and Murat Agca – but leaving the four other crew members behind.

Mohammad Saleh, a relative of the pilgrims held in Aazaz, was arrested on Sunday in connection to the kidnapping.

Saleh is a Witness not Participant

A widely-informed security source told As Safir: “He revealed the names of the individuals linked to the abduction.” He also said that the pilots were kidnapped in a hope to exchange them with the nine pilgrims.

Saleh’s relatives denied to As Safir however that their son was linked to the case, saying that he only received messages of congratulations on his telephone when news of the abduction broke out.

Meanwhile, caretaker Interior Minister Marwan Charbel told As Safir that Saleh is considered as a witness in the kidnapping and not a participant. His release from custody is in the hands of the General Prosecution, he added.

FM: Turkey Can Help Free Pilgrims

Caretaker Foreign Minister Adnan Mansour said that Turkey was able to play a major role in helping free nine Lebanese hostages held by Syrian rebels since last year.

“Lebanese people ask: Is it possible that after over a year, Turkey, with all its influence, cannot make fruitful efforts? … We deal with Turkey as a friendly state, we urge it to make efforts [to resolve the case], and we believe it can reach a positive outcome,” Mansour told The Daily Star in an interview at the Foreign Ministry in Beirut.

“I once told a Turkish security official in a meeting that no one believes Turkey can do nothing when it controls the situation in northern [Syria] and supports the opposition,” he said.

“He answered [by] saying: ‘The kidnappers are not under the control of the Syrian opposition.’ But this is an unconvincing answer,” Mansour added.


August 13, 2013 Posted by | War Crimes | , , , | Comments Off on Turkey closes cultural centers in Beirut after kidnapping of pilots, denies responsibility for abducted Lebanese

Watched from a waste bin: UK pulls plug on ‘spy’ trash cans

RT | August 12, 2013

The City of London has demanded that an advertising firm cease its ‘spy bin’ program which uses high-tech trash cans to track people walking through the city’s financial district. The bins follow Wi-Fi signals and capture smartphone serial numbers.

Renew installed 200 bomb-proof bins with built-in Wi-Fi and digital screens inside London’s Square Mile during and after the 2012 Olympic Games. The firm initially offered to place advertisements and financial information on its “pods.” But in June, the agency started testing the bins’ wireless potential, subsequently launching a smartphone-tracking campaign.

The company’s ‘ORB’ technology scanned the streets for smartphones, indentifying the manufacturer of every device through unique media access control (MAC) addresses. It also detected the owner’s “proximity, speed and duration” of stay. Renew had hoped the program would attract advertisers and help companies in their marketing campaigns.

“The technology enables clients to accumulate data readings that will aid in compounding statistical analysis on trending demographics in high profile locations (and particularly a client’s own market share within the City relative to peers in the handheld manufacturing example),” the website’s press release said at the start of the ‘Renew ORB’ beta-testing.

The captured data – which encompassed 4,009,676 devices in just one week of testing – was to be sold to advertisers in “raw form.” Shop owners, for example, could find it very useful for analyzing their customers’ visit time and loyalty.

Instead, the program triggered a media storm, building on ‘spy bins’ hype. This was followed by public outrage and an official ban. Questions were raised regarding whether the scheme was completely legal.

Responding to the turbulent reaction, Renew’s ORB technology CEO attempted to downplay the trash bins’ data collection capabilities.

“I’m afraid that in the interest of a good headline and story there has been an emphasis on style over substance that makes our technology trial slightly more interesting than it is,” Kaveh Memari said in a Monday statement published on Renew’s website. He added that “none” of the proposed capabilities “are workable right now.”

Memari also assured that the MAC addresses collected during the pods’ beta-testing were totally “anonymized and aggregated.” He stressed that no personal details could be devised from analyzing such data, comparing the process to the work of a website counter.

Earlier, Renew promised the technology would enable it to “cookie the street.” The comment was in reference to internet cookies – tiny files created by websites to track an individual’s activity.

A City of London spokesman took a different position on the matter, saying, “Irrespective of what’s technically possible, anything that happens like this on the streets needs to be done carefully, with the backing of an informed public.”

According to the spokesman, the issue has been taken to the Information Commissioner’s Office – a UK public body dealing with data protection and freedom of information.

Renew appeared to be ready both for public discussion and for a legal battle, saying that “the law has not yet fully developed and it is our firm intention to discuss any such progressions publicly first and especially collaborate with privacy groups…to make sure we lead the charge on this as we are with the implementation of the technology.”

However, the firm admitted that such technology required “the future levels of protection” and “people being comfortable with interactive technology.”

Meanwhile, Nick Pickles of Big Brother Watch – a civil liberties and privacy pressure group – said that questions need to be asked “about how such a blatant attack on people’s privacy was able to occur.”

August 13, 2013 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Corruption, Full Spectrum Dominance | , , , , , , | Comments Off on Watched from a waste bin: UK pulls plug on ‘spy’ trash cans

Confessed Liar To Congress, James Clapper, Gets To Set Up The ‘Independent’ Review Over NSA Surveillance

By Mike Masnick | TechDirt | August 12, 2013

Well, this is rather incredible. Remember on Friday how one of President Obama’s efforts to get people to trust the government more concerning the NSA’s surveillance efforts was to create an “outside” and “independent” board to review it all? Specifically, he said:

Fourth, we’re forming a high-level group of outside experts to review our entire intelligence and communications technologies. We need new thinking for a new era. We now have to unravel terrorist plots by finding a needle in the haystack of global telecommunications. And meanwhile, technology has given governments — including our own — unprecedented capability to monitor communications.

So I am tasking this independent group to step back and review our capabilities — particularly our surveillance technologies. And they’ll consider how we can maintain the trust of the people, how we can make sure that there absolutely is no abuse in terms of how these surveillance technologies are used, ask how surveillance impacts our foreign policy — particularly in an age when more and more information is becoming public. And they will provide an interim report in 60 days and a final report by the end of this year, so that we can move forward with a better understanding of how these programs impact our security, our privacy, and our foreign policy.

Okay. Outside, independent. Sure, that might help. Except, that was Friday. Today is Monday. And, on Monday we learn that “outside” and “independent” actually means setup by Director of National Intelligence, James Clapper — the same guy who has already admitted to lying to Congress about the program, and has received no punishment for doing so. This is independent? From this we’re supposed to expect real oversight?!? This is from the letter sent to Clapper:

I believe it is important to take stock of how these technological advances alter the environment in which we conduct our intelligence mission. To this end, by the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, I am directing you to establish a Review Group on Intelligence and Communications Technologies (Review Group).

The Review Group will assess whether, in light of advancements in communications technologies, the United States employs its technical collection capabilities in a manner that optimally protects our national security and advances our foreign policy while appropriately accounting for other policy considerations, such as the risk of unauthorized disclosure and our need to maintain the public trust. Within 60 days of its establishment, the Review Group will brief their interim findings to me through the Director of National Intelligence (DNI), and the Review Group will provide a final report and recommendations to me through the DNI no later than December 15, 2013.

In case you didn’t catch that, he’s asking Clapper to first create and set up this “outside” and “independent” review group… and then to have the group report its findings back to Clapper. The same strong defender of the program who flat out lied to Congress about it. If this was about “restoring the trust” of the American people that the government isn’t pulling a fast one over on them, President Obama sure has a funny way of trying to rebuild that trust. This seems a lot more like giving the concerns of the American public a giant middle finger.

August 13, 2013 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Deception, Full Spectrum Dominance, Progressive Hypocrite | , , , , | Comments Off on Confessed Liar To Congress, James Clapper, Gets To Set Up The ‘Independent’ Review Over NSA Surveillance

Brazil may reject US fighter jet deal over NSA spying scandal

RT | August 13, 2013

Brazilian officials have expressed reluctance to purchasing dozens of military planes from the US after it was revealed that the NSA not only closely monitored Brazilian energy and military affairs, but also mined for commercial secrets.

The US had planned to sell Brazil – a country in the process of revitalizing its Air Force – 36 fighter jets in a deal worth more than US$4 billion. But when US Secretary of State John Kerry meets with Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff on Tuesday, the leaders will not discuss the deal, a source near to the situation told Reuters.

Kerry traveled to Colombia before making his way to Brazil in an attempt to repair relations with Latin American nations after NSA leaker Edward Snowden disclosed documents showing that the US spied on communications related to the military, political and terror issues, and energy policies.

“We cannot talk about the fighters now…You cannot give such a contract to a country that you do not trust,” the source said.

Chicago-based Boeing Co. is competing for the $4 billion contract against France’s Rafale and Sweden’s Gripen, although the longer Brazil goes without choosing, the more likely it is that other competitors will enter the fray.

Rousseff delayed a decision on the fighter jets because of budget woes and widespread demonstrations protesting austerity and government corruption.

“I don’t expect the president to decide on the fighter contract this year, and next year is an election year so it might have to wait until 2015,” a Brazilian government source said.

Brazil’s Foreign Minister, Antonio Patriota, informed United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon of the nation’s situation as recently as last week.

Tuesday’s visit will be Kerry’s first trip to Brazil as Secretary of State.

But it’s not just Brazil that was reportedly upset over the NSA revelations. Even Colombia – one of Washington’s closest allies in the region – was unhappy about the information revealed. In Bogota, Kerry aimed to play down the rift during a press conference.

“Frankly, we work on a huge number of issues and this was in fact a very small part of the overall conversation and one in which I’m confident I was able to explain precisely that this has received the support of all three branches of our government,” Kerry told reporters. “It has been completely conducted under our Constitution and the law…The president has taken great steps in the last few days…to reassure people of the US intentions here.”

US Vice President Joe Biden has visited Brazil and Colombia, and President Barack Obama recently made a three-day trip to Mexico and Puerto Rico. Both trips have been portrayed as evidence of US politicking below the equator.

During his visit to Brazil, Biden said that stronger trade ties should usher in a new era of relations between Washington and Brasília.

How long that goodwill will last remains to be seen, according Carl Meacham, former Latin America adviser on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and director of the Americas Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

“I think the tone of the visit will be a bit tense because of these issues raised by the surveillance [program] and I think Secretary Kerry will have to speak to that,” he told AP.

August 13, 2013 Posted by | Corruption, Deception, Economics | , , | 2 Comments