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CIA Probed for Possibly Spying on Congress

ACLU | March 5, 2014

WASHINGTON – The CIA’s inspector general is investigating whether the agency may have been monitoring the computer usage of Senate Intelligence Committee staff members, according to articles today by The New York Times and McClatchy. The inspector general’s office has reportedly referred the matter to the Justice Department for criminal investigation.

Christopher Anders, senior legislative counsel with the American Civil Liberties Union, had this reaction:

“If it turns out that the CIA was spying on the Senate committee that oversees the agency, it would be an outrageous violation of separation of powers. The CIA is prohibited from spying in the United States itself, and there can be few greater violations of that rule than spying on congressional staff carrying out the constitutional duty of being a check on the CIA’s powers. CIA surveillance of Congress would be another sign that the intelligence community has come to believe that they are above the law, and should get only deference from the other branches of government, not the meaningful oversight that’s required by the Constitution. Checks and balances, especially for agencies like the CIA and NSA that have many secret operations, are essential for democratic government. At the very least, these reports should spur the committee to vote quickly for the declassification and release of its full report into the CIA’s torture program so the American people can see what it is that the CIA is so eager to hide.”

In December 2012, the committee adopted a 6,000-page report on the CIA’s Bush-era rendition, secret detention, and torture program. The report concluded that abusive methods were ineffective, and the CIA wrote an extensive response, countering many of the Senate report’s conclusions. There is also a secret CIA report commissioned by former CIA Director Leon Panetta, which is reportedly consistent with the Senate report findings and contradicts the CIA’s response to the Senate report. All three reports are classified.

March 5, 2014 Posted by | Corruption, Deception, Full Spectrum Dominance, Subjugation - Torture | , , , , | 2 Comments

Remove children of suspected radical Muslims: Boris

Press TV – March 5, 2014

London Mayor Boris Johnson says Muslim children with suspected radical parents must be removed from their families, causing controversy amongst the city’s Muslim community.

The London mayor made the remarks in his weekly Daily Telegraph column published on Monday.

He alleged that some Muslim children were being “taught crazy stuff” similar to the views expressed by the two men who killed British soldier Lee Rigby on a south-east London street in May 2013.

In a later interview however, when asked if the children of the UK’s far-right British National Party (BNP) activists should also be removed from their families, Johnson said this should be done in “extreme” cases.

The Muslim Council of Britain warned that Johnson’s remarks risked provoking anti-Muslim sentiment across the UK.

“The people responsible for the murder of Lee Rigby were not sons of radical extremists, nor were those who committed previous atrocities. To tackle their extremism we need to look beyond the need to generate easy headlines,” the council said.

Britain’s largest force, the Metropolitan Police, recorded 500 anti-Muslim crime cases across the country in 2013.

Attacks against Muslims have soared in the UK since the murder of Rigby by Michael Adebolajo and Michael Adebowale, who reportedly killed the soldier in “retaliation for the deaths of Muslims in Afghanistan at the hands of British troops.”

March 5, 2014 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance, Islamophobia | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

US Administration Considering Targeted Sanctions against Members of Venezuelan Government

By Jake Johnston | CEPR Americas Blog | March 4, 2014

Members of Congress and the Obama administration have consistently placed the blame for the violence stemming from protests on the Venezuelan government, while overlooking or ignoring violent incidents by opposition protesters, including the decapitation of motorcycle riders, the burning of government buildings and metro stations, attacks against state media companies, and the killing of individuals seeking to dismantle barricades, including a National Guard officer. Officials have referred instead to “systematic” human rights abuses and government repression, without citing evidence.

Based on these assertions, momentum is building to implement sanctions on members of the Venezuelan government. U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL) told the press on Monday that, “There should be sanctions on individuals. … The administration is looking at those.” Wasserman Schultz, the Democratic National Committee chairwoman, cited a “high-level” State Department official that she had recently spoken to.

That the administration is considering sanctions comes on the heels of demands from members of congress that the Obama administration go further in its application of pressure on the Venezuelan government. After introducing legislation “supporting the people of Venezuela as they protest peacefully for democracy,” Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) stated that:

“But this resolution can only be the first step to hold Maduro and his fellow regime thugs accountable for their violent response and their abuses of the Venezuelan people’s liberties and human rights. I have already begun circulating a letter amongst my colleagues in the House, addressed to President Obama, asking him to take immediate actions against Maduro and other Venezuelan officials who are responsible for violations of their people’s human rights. We are calling for the President to enact immediate sanctions against these officials, under authorities granted to him under the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA), including denying them visas to enter the United States, blocking their property and freezing their assets in the U.S., as well as prohibiting them from making any financial transactions in the U.S.”

Ros-Lehtinen also plans to introduce a bill that would require the administration to take these steps. The moves from the House of Representatives have been echoed in the Senate, where the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Menendez (D-NJ) and U.S. Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL), Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Ted Cruz (R-TX) have introduced a resolution calling for sanctions. Menendez stated:

“Now is the time to pursue a course of targeted sanctions by denying and revoking visas, and freezing the assets of Venezuelan officials complicit in the deaths of peaceful protestors. Human rights violators should be held accountable for the crimes they committed and their presence should not be welcome in our nation. Venezuelans today are denied basic rights, freedoms, and the ability to peacefully protest the dire economic circumstances caused by President Maduro and his government. We stand with the Venezuelan people and the brave opposition leaders in their pursuit to build a more hopeful Venezuela that embraces a bright future while discarding a failed past.”

Marco Rubio even made the case for sanctions on NBC News’ “Meet The Press,” telling host David Gregory that, “I would like to see specific U.S. sanctions against individuals in the Maduro government that are systematically participating in the violation of human rights and anti-democratic actions.” Florida Governor Rick Scott has also called for sanctions. Although neither the House nor the Senate have passed these resolutions calling for sanctions, Secretary of State John Kerry told reporters last week that, “with respect to Venezuela, Congress has urged sanctions.”

The call for sanctions has also been trumpeted by the press, with Miami Herald columnist Andres Oppenheimer saying that if Venezuela does not respond to “international diplomatic pressures,” then the Congress “should revoke the U.S. visas of Venezuelan government and military leaders.” Further, Otto Reich, the former U.S. Ambassador to Venezuela and Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs at the time of the U.S.-backed coup of 2002, wrote an opinion piece for the National Review titled “It’s Time for Sanctions in Venezuela.”

None of the members of congress nor any of the resolutions mention the fact that of the 18 tragic deaths in Venezuela since the protests began, many were not protestors, but individuals removing barricades and motorcyclists killed by wires strung across streets, or by crashing into barricades. In one case, a member of the Venezuelan National Guard was shot and killed. The Senate resolution makes no call for both sides to refrain from violence nor does it condemn the violent actions of some from the protest movement, however it does deplore “the use of excessive and unlawful force against peaceful demonstrators in Venezuela and the inexcusable use of violence…to intimidate the country’s political opposition.”

While, undoubtedly, excessive force has been used by members of the Venezuelan security forces, over 10 individuals have been arrested for these actions and further investigations are under way. According to the Attorney General (AG) of Venezuela, there are currently 27 investigations into violations of human rights. The AG, Luisa Ortega Diaz, stated that her office “will not tolerate violations of human rights under any circumstance and that any official turns out to be responsible will be sanctioned as established by the laws of Venezuela.” Far from censoring information or trying to hide the extent of the arrests or of those killed in the last few weeks, Diaz has provided regular updates to the press and has kept the public informed about the status of investigations.

March 5, 2014 Posted by | Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Kiev snipers hired by Maidan leaders – leaked EU’s Ashton phone tape

Update: Estonian Foreign Ministry confirms authenticity of leaked call on Kiev snipers

RT | March 5, 2014

The snipers who shot at protesters and police in Kiev were allegedly hired by Maidan leaders, according to a leaked phone conversation between the EU foreign affairs chief Catherine Ashton and Estonian foreign affairs minister, which has emerged online.

“There is now stronger and stronger understanding that behind the snipers, it was not Yanukovich, but it was somebody from the new coalition,” Paet said during the conversation.

“I think we do want to investigate. I mean, I didn’t pick that up, that’s interesting. Gosh,” Ashton answered.

The call took place after Estonia’s Foreign Minister Urmas Paet visited Kiev on February 25 at the peak of clashes between the pro-EU protesters and security forces in the Ukrainian capital.

Paet also recalled his conversation with a doctor who treated those shot by snipers in Kiev. She said that both protesters and police were shot at by the same people.

“And second, what was quite disturbing, this same Olga [Bogomolets] told as well that all the evidence shows that the people who were killed by snipers from both sides, among policemen and then people from the streets, that they were the same snipers killing people from both sides,” the Estonian FM stressed.

Ashton reacted to the information by saying: “Well, yeah…that’s, that’s terrible.”

“So that she then also showed me some photos she said that as a medical doctor she can say that it is the same handwriting, the same type of bullets, and it’s really disturbing that now the new coalition, that they don’t want to investigate what exactly happened,” Paet said.

The Estonian FM has described the whole sniper issue as “disturbing” and added, “it already discredits from the very beginning” the new Ukrainian power.

His overall impressions of what he saw during his one-day trip to Kiev are “sad,” Paet said during the conversation.

He stressed that the Ukrainian people don’t trust the Maidan leaders, with all the opposition politicians slated to join the new government “having dirty past.”

The file was reportedly uploaded to the web by officers of Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) loyal to ousted President Viktor Yanukovich who hacked Paet’s and Ashton’s phones.

94 people were killed and another 900 injured during the standoff between police and protesters at Maidan Saquare in Kiev last month.

March 5, 2014 Posted by | Deception, Video, War Crimes | , , , , | Leave a comment

US hires Israeli company to retrofit Mexico border wall

By Chloé Benoist | Al-Akhbar | March 5, 2014

An Israeli military contractor, whose surveillance technology is used along Israel’s apartheid wall constructed in the Palestinian West Bank, has been chosen by the United States to provide similar services on the southern border with Mexico, Israeli media reported on Wednesday.

Elbit Systems announced on Sunday that the US Department of Homeland Security Customs and Border Protection (CBP) had awarded its subsidiary a $145 million contract to deploy border surveillance technology in southern Arizona, Reuters reported.

But according to Bloomberg analyst Brian Friel, quoted by Israeli newspaper Haaretz, the one-year contract could expand to a broader $1 billion deal if the US Congress passes stringent immigration legislation.

Elbit Systems is set to install watch towers along the border with sensors for spotting, tracking, and classifying data, along with command and control centers.

Republican Senator John McCain of Arizona hailed the deal as a “step in the right direction.”

“Arizonans have been waiting more than a decade for the Department of Homeland Security to place the needed technology along our border to support the Border Patrol and fully secure our southern border,” he said in a statement.

“If this technology is developed, integrated and fielded correctly, these Integrated Fixed Towers in southern Arizona, coupled with the tremendous work of the Border Patrol, will give our agents the ability to detect, evaluate, and respond to all illegal entries crossing our border.”

A government contractor said the choice of an Israeli firm was justified by of its “advanced” experience in maintaining separation barriers.

“It is odd to go offshore for this work, but in extraordinary circumstances, one really wants to employ the best,” Haaretz quoted Mark Amtower, a partner at Amtower & Co, as saying.

Elbit Systems is one of the primary military suppliers of the Israel’s occupation forces. Its Hermes 450 attack drone has been used extensively in the besieged Gaza Strip, as well as in Lebanon during the 2006 war.

The company is also responsible for surveillance technology along the apartheid wall erected by Israel within the West Bank. Only 15 percent of the separation barrier is built along the so-called 1949 Green Line, which is recognized by the international community as the border of Israel proper, UN figures show, with most of it jutting into the occupied West Bank.

The 440-kilometer long barrier is considered illegal under international law.

Among its many international contracts, Elbit contributed in 2013 to a $40 million expansive Internet surveillance program for the Nigerian government.

Elbit Systems has officially pledged on its website to “contribute to the enhancement of quality of life and the environment of the communities in which we live and work.”

But this contribution mainly consists of supporting Israeli occupation forces through the “Adopt a Combat Unit” program.

Elbit is targeted by the pro-Palestinian boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement for “directly contribut[ing] to violations of international humanitarian law.”

The Stop the Wall campaign has called Elbit a “symbol” which“thrives on and fuels war, repression and control in Palestine and around the globe.”

“Elbit offers its experience in ghettoizing and killing Palestinians to repress other people,” the campaign wrote of the company’s international projects.

“Because Elbit Systems is knowingly participating in and aiding Israeli war crimes and Israeli occupation of the Palestinian people, investors in and partners of the security firm are, by extension, accessories to Israel’s many violations of international law and human rights standards.”

March 5, 2014 Posted by | Illegal Occupation, Solidarity and Activism | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

OSCE military observer mission en route to Crimea

RT | March 5, 2014

The Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) is sending a delegation which includes representatives from the US and 14 other nations to observe the situation in Crimea amid tensions in Ukraine, according to a US official.

Daniel Baer, the chief US delegate to the OSCE, told the Associated Press that each country is sending two individuals, bringing the total number of observers to 30. Baer added that the military observer mission is set to leave within 24 hours and hinted that other countries main still join.

The OSCE comprises of Russia, the US, all European countries, and some central Asian nations. It is based on consensus, meaning that the majority of the monitoring missions need full approval by all nations – including OSCE member Russia. According to Baer, Ukraine used the provision to ask other countries to send unarmed military monitors.

OSCE officials were already in Ukraine on Tuesday and making their way to Crimea, Baer said. The officials specialize in minority rights and freedom of the media.

The delegation has a week-long mandate that can be extended if Ukraine requests it. One of its main focuses is to concentrate on the potential of a military conflict between Russia and Ukraine.

Baer also added that the the military observer mission is a “broad-based monitoring effort” that will try to prevent a possible “military incursion” and encourage dialogue. The observers will keep an eye out for “areas where there has been tension or uncertainty has arisen over lack of clarity over military movements.”

RT news producer Lida Vasilevskaya reported on Tuesday evening that the OSCE delegation had arrived in Simferopol, Ukraine, but said they were not giving any comments to the media.

Tensions in Crimea became heated after the Ukrainian parliament voted to repeal a law which gave regional status to the Russian language. Authorities in Crimea requested Moscow’s assistance and Crimean authorities denounced the coup-imposed government in Kiev, declaring that all Ukrainian law enforcement and military deployed in the peninsula must take orders from them. The majority of troops in Crimea switched sides in favor of local authorities.

More than half of the Crimean population are ethnically Russian and use only the Russian language for their communication. The residents have announced they will hold a referendum on March 30 to determine the fate of the Ukrainian autonomous region.

Russian President Vladimir Putin clarified the country’s stance on Ukraine in an interview on Tuesday. He stated that Russia will not go to war with the people of Ukraine, but will use its troops to protect citizens if radicals with clout in Kiev try to use violence against Ukrainian civilians – particularly ethnic Russians.

Putin, who was given a mandate by the Russian Senate to send troops in order to protect the Russian-speaking population in Ukraine, said there is no need for such action yet.

Putin cited the actions of radical activists in Ukraine – including the chaining of a governor to a stage as public humiliation and the killing of a technician during an opposition siege of the Party of Regions headquarters – as justification for Russia to be concerned for the lives and well-being of people in eastern and southern Ukraine.

Incidents like those are why Russia reserves the option of troop deployment.

“If we see this lawlessness starting in eastern regions, if the people ask us for help – in addition to a plea from a legitimate president, which we already have – then we reserve the right to use all the means we possess to protect those citizens. And we consider it quite legitimate,” Putin said.

Russia’s representative to the UN, Vitaly Churkin, also said on Tuesday that the deal surrounding the Black Sea Fleet allows Russia to station a contingent of up to 25,000 troops in Ukraine.

According to the initial agreement, the Russian Black Sea Fleet was to stay in Crimea until 2017, but the deal was later prolonged for another 25 years.

March 5, 2014 Posted by | Aletho News | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Russia’s 25,000-troop allowance & other facts you may not know about Crimea

RT | March 4, 2014

Ukraine’s statement at the UN that ‘16,000 Russian soldiers had been deployed’ across Crimea sparked a MSM feeding frenzy that steadfastly ignored any hard facts that got in their way.

Especially unwelcome is the fact that the so-called ‘invasion force’ has been there for 15 years already.

The media many trust described in hysterical tones how the Autonomous Republic of Crimea was under a full-scale Russian invasion with headlines like: “Ukraine says Russia sent 16,000 troops to Crimea”, “Ukraine crisis deepens as Russia sends more troops into Crimea,” as well as “What can Obama do about Russia’s invasion of Crimea?”

Facts, and ardent statements by top Russian diplomats were totally ignored by the western ‘war press.’

Russian UN Ambassador Vitaly Churkin pointed to the longstanding 25,000 troop allowance while FM Sergey Lavrov stressed the Russian military “strictly executes the agreements which stipulate the Russian fleet’s presence in Ukraine, and follows the stance and claims coming from the legitimate authority in Ukraine and in this case the legitimate authority of the Autonomous Republic Crimea as well.”

So here they are, the facts:

1) A Russian naval presence in Crimea dates to 1783 when the port city of Sevastopol was founded by Russian Prince Grigory Potemkin. Crimea was part of Russia until Nikita Khruschev gave it to Ukraine in 1954.

2) In 1997, amid the wreckage of the USSR, Russia & Ukraine signed a Partition Treaty determining the fate of the military bases and vessels in Crimea. The deal sparked widespread officer ‘defections’ to Russia and was ratified by the Russian & Ukrainian parliaments in 1999. Russia received 81.7 percent of the fleet’s ships after paying the Ukrainian government US$526.5 million.

3) The deal allowed the Russian Black Sea Fleet to stay in Crimea until 2017. This was extended by another 25 years to 2042 with a 5-year extension option in 2010.

4) Moscow annually writes off $97.75 million of Kiev’s debt for the right to use Ukrainian waters and radio frequencies, and to compensate for the Black Sea Fleet’s environmental impact.

5) The Russian navy is allowed up to

25,000 troops,

24 artillery systems with a caliber smaller than 100 mm,

132 armored vehicles, and

22 military planes, on Crimean territory.

6) Five Russian naval units are stationed in the port city of Sevastopol, in compliance with the treaty:

The 30th Surface Ship Division formed by the 11th Antisubmarine Ship Brigade. Comprises the Black Sea Fleet’s flagship guard missile cruiser Moskva as well as Kerch, Ochakov, Smetlivy, Ladny, and Pytlivy vessels, and the 197th Landing Ship Brigade, consisting of seven large amphibious vessels;

The 41st Missile Boat Brigade includes the 166th Fast Attack Craft Division, consisting of Bora and Samum hovercrafts as well as small missile ships Mirazh and Shtil, and 295th missile Boat Division;

The 247th Separate Submarine Division, consisting of two diesel submarines – B-871 Alrosa and B-380 Svyatoy Knyaz Georgy;

The 68th Harbor Defense Ship Brigade formed by 4 vessels of the 400th Antisubmarine Ship Battalion and 418 Mine Hunting Ship Division respectively.;

The 422nd Separate Hydrographic Ship Division boasts the Cheleken, Stvor, Donuzlav and GS-402 survey vessels and hydrographic boats.

7) Russia has two airbases in Crimea, in Kacha and Gvardeysky.

8) Russian coastal forces in Ukraine consist of the 1096th Separate Anti-Aircraft Missile Regiment in Sevastopol and the 810th Marine Brigade, which hosts around 2,000 marines.

Authorities in the Ukrainian Autonomous Republic of Crimea – where over half the population is Russian – requested Moscow’s assistance after the self-proclaimed government in Kiev introduced a law abolishing the use of languages other than Ukrainian in official circumstances.

Last week, Russia’s Federation Council unanimously approved President Vladimir Putin’s request to send the country’s military forces to Ukraine to ensure peace and order in the region “until the socio-political situation in the country is stabilized.”

However, the final say about deploying troops lies with Putin, who hasn’t yet made such a decision, stressing that deploying military force would be a last resort.

March 5, 2014 Posted by | Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , , , , , | Leave a comment