Aletho News


North Korean Peace Agreement Proposal

By Konstantin Asmolov | New Eastern Outlook | October 22, 2015

On October 2, 2015, speaking during the course of a general policy discussion at the 70th session of the General Assembly of the United Nations, Lee Su Yong, North Korean Foreign Minister, stated that “the government of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea is willing to engage in constructive dialogue for the prevention of wars and conflicts in the Korean peninsula as soon as the United States agrees to replace the Korean Armistice Agreement with a full-fledged peace treaty and stops pointing fingers at “someone’s” “provocations” in the mass media.” “This is the best option available to us and the best solution that we can propose at this UN forum,” he added.

This issue was raised again on October 7 when an official representative of the North Korean Foreign Ministry stated that the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (via official channels) had again proposed the signing of a peace treaty to the US and expected it to be conscientiously considered and endorsed by the American party.

It was noted that more than 60 years had passed since the signing of the cessation of hostilities agreement, but peace has still not been achieved in the Korean peninsula. The US and the Republic of Korea continuously conduct military exercises of various scales contributing to the escalation of the risk of casual incidents and unpredictable events.

In the author’s opinion, this problem is indeed serious, and this issue was actually discussed a few years ago: absence of a hotline between the North and South, bilateral demonization, insufficient competence combined with the peculiarities of bureaucracy can easily lead to an aggravation of the situation resulting from a misunderstanding or the desire to blame one’s opponent for one’s own problems, as happened just recently.

In North Korea’s opinion, the only radical measure that can prevent future incidents would be the termination of the Korean Armistice Agreement and the signing of a peace treaty as well as the creation of a robust system of peace guarantees in the Korean peninsula: if the American party will be brave enough to change its policy, the security situation in the Korean peninsula would significantly improve.

The dialog proposed by North Koreans would address two important aspects. Number one—the necessity to formalize the results of the Korean War. Number two—diplomatic relations between the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and the US, which have never been established.

The 1953 Korean Armistice Agreement is perceived as an agreement signed by all the parties to the conflict. But in reality, the situation was much more complicated. The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and the (Chinese) People’s Volunteer Army signed it as representatives of the North because officially the People’s Republic of China did not participate in this war. The US was also fighting there as a representative of the UN and the Agreement is, in fact, signed by the UN Force Commanders. As for South Korea, the regime of Syngman Rhee, which at that time was far more villainous in comparison with that in the North, had intentions to fight till final victory, hindering the negotiations and refusing to sign the final document. Thus, although North Korea recently pulled out of the Korean Armistice Agreement, the South never even signed it.

Besides, technically speaking, this Agreement ceased to be effective back in 1957-58. There was a clause prohibiting the deployment of new types of armaments in the peninsula in the Agreement. So, when the US deployed nuclear weapons in the peninsula, the agreement formally ceased to be effective since all its clauses had equal legal force.

In addition, since both Koreas are members of the UN, this circumstance further complicates the situation because it is not quite clear how the peace treaty based on the results of the Korean War should be articulated and what countries must participate in it. Pyongyang traditionally regards the US as a full-fledged war participant and believes that the signing of a peace treaty would promote closer diplomatic relations between the two countries.

The matter is that an absence of diplomatic relations between the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and the US is more of an exception than a rule. The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea is by no means in complete international isolation. As of June 2012, North Korea had established diplomatic relations with 165 states that are currently standing members of the UN. Only about 20 countries, including the USA, Japan and Ukraine do not have diplomatic relations with it. Actually, at the beginning of the 1990s, the United States and Japan were supposed to recognize the North pursuant to the “cross-recognition” doctrine in accordance with which Russia and China had opened diplomatic relations with South Korea. But it was not concluded.

Diplomatic recognition of the two countries was set out as one of the clauses of the 1994 agreement–the Agreed Framework. This was one of the terms under which the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea later froze its nuclear program. However, due to a number of reasons the American side executed neither this nor other, more important, obligations set out in the Agreed Framework.

Today the embassy of Sweden represents interests of the US in Pyongyang. This causes many inconveniences compelling the parties to resolve the situation, especially in light of the improving relations between the US and Cuba, a country, which had been demonized by the US as much as North Korea.

Here is one more important thought. The “democratic press” painstakingly molds an image of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea as a country incapable of achieving agreements and unwilling to negotiate with anyone. All its proposals are inevitably renounced as demagogical and meaningless. However, analyses of both the inter-Korean and regional crises involving the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea show that in the majority of cases North Korea was the one to make settlement proposals. A recent example is the August 2015 crisis, which was settled by way of negotiations between the North and the South initiated by North Korea.

Konstantin Asmolov, Ph.D, Chief Research Fellow of the Center for Korean Studies, Institute of Far Eastern Studies, Russian Academy of Sciences.

October 22, 2015 Posted by | Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Militarism, Timeless or most popular | , | Leave a comment

#RiseUpOctober protests against police killing civilians begin in New York

RT | October 22, 2015

CR7fdFbVEAATwtfHundreds gathered in New York City’s Times Square on Thursday, launching a three-day protest against officer-involved killings, brutality and mass imprisonment dubbed “Rise Up October.”

The three-day protest began Thursday morning with a “Say Their Names” rally. Hundreds gathered in midtown Manhattan to hear relatives speak about their loved ones who were killed by police officers over the past several years.

With the help of the Stop Mass Incarceration Network, the rally was organized by Carl Dix of the Revolutionary Communist Party and author and activist Dr. Cornel West.

The organizers said their goal was to organize “mass determined resistance” to a “matrix of oppression.”

Among the celebrities who endorsed the rally was director Quentin Tarantino, who at one point shared the stage with actress Gina Belafonte.

Faith leaders from a number of religious communities supported the gathering.

Also in attendance at the rally were members of the Raging Grannies, the New York chapter of a global movement promoting peace, justice and social and economic equality.

Heavy police presence shadowed the event.

Thursday’s march ended with a rally in Brooklyn.

Friday morning will see the “Shut Down Rikers” protest, aimed against the city’s notorious prison, which is plagued by accusations of violence, brutality and sexual abuse.

The main event is scheduled for Saturday, October 24, with an 11 a.m. rally in lower Manhattan’s Washington Square Park, followed by a march to Bryant Park in midtown.

October 22, 2015 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Solidarity and Activism, Subjugation - Torture | , , | Leave a comment

Secrecy and Hillary Clinton

By Diane Roark | Consortium News | October 21, 2015

The system for classifying intelligence and other national security documents is broken in major respects. Increasingly, it is also manipulated to punish perceived critics or to protect agency reputations and high officials, both from adverse publicity and in the courts. Hillary Clinton’s use of a private rather than State Department email service illustrates many of these issues. Her experience stands in stark contrast to treatment of national security whistleblowers, as illustrated in particular by variance in National Security Agency (NSA) communications intelligence policies.

–Culpability. Former Secretary of State Clinton clearly and knowingly mishandled classified information. As a U.S. senator, security clearances were required for her membership on the Senate Armed Services Committee from 2003 to 2009. Therefore, she knew the rules for handling classified information before she decided, at the outset when she became Secretary of State in early 2009, to use personal rather than secure email.

Hillary and Bill Clinton had suffered many political and public relations crises. She had already run for the presidency and likely would do so again. Rules for handling classified information were ignored, the effect being to hide records that could be used against her in a second presidential run.

It simply could never be argued plausibly that for four years, a person in the highest U.S. foreign policy slot had no classified or sensitive information in any business emails that she wrote or received – over 30,000 of them. This defies the definition of the job.

The State Department is a primary user and a significant generator of classified information that bears on the great majority of issues coming before the Secretary. The State Department is also a profligate designator of “Sensitive But Unclassified” information.

–Overclassification. It is widely admitted that the intelligence classification system suffers from systemic over-classification. President Barack Obama has acknowledged the problem, and one review group even stated that almost every item now labeled Confidential should be Unclassified. There is no penalty for playing it safe – or playing it political – by classifying at too high a level, but there are potentially severe repercussions for an individual who mistakenly classifies at too low a level, or who is known to mishandle or publicly reveal classified information.

It is most unlikely, however, that Hillary Clinton will fall victim to accusations that rely on improper over­classification. The State Department and White House, including President Obama himself, sought to protect her and to minimize the effects of her behavior.

The case is extremely high-profile, Democrats in Congress would attack any borderline classification, and a host of well­paid lawyers would rise to her defense. Improperly classified items or those deemed Sensitive but Unclassified may be redacted from publicly released documents, but it is hard to imagine that Mrs. Clinton would be falsely accused of felonies.

Whistleblowers suffer a quite different fate. Intelligence agencies easily and repeatedly retaliate for the airing of their dirty laundry by accusing the whistleblower of improperly handling or revealing allegedly classified information. The Obama administration then prosecutes them under the Espionage Act, under which altruistic motivation is irrelevant and may not even be raised in court.

Former CIA official John Kiriakou revealed on television that post ­9/11 torture was official U.S. policy, not just attributable to a few rogue agents. The CIA seethed, but the Justice Department would not prosecute. Unfortunately, Kiriakou erred in giving a reporter the business card of a man he thought had retired from CIA but was still an agent under cover. The agent’s name was not published, but CIA got its revenge when Kiriakou was indicted under the Intelligence Identities Protection Act of 1981. Left penniless with over $700,000 in legal bills even before trial, Kiriakou finally accepted a felony plea bargain and went to jail.

Thomas Drake and this author went through proper official channels in 2001­2002 to protest NSA’s surveillance of U.S. citizens. Along with colleagues Kirk Wiebe, William Binney and Edward Loomis, they also reported to the Defense Department Inspector General the waste of money on NSA modernization.

After domestic surveillance leaked to the New York Times four years later, the five became primary suspects, partly because the IG improperly offered their names to the FBI. All were raided, but no evidence was found because, as the reporter later stated publicly, he had not then met or communicated with any of the five.

Nonetheless, Drake was prosecuted under the Espionage Act for possessing five Unclassified NSA papers that NSA retroactively classified. He was threatened with 35 years in prison unless he pled guilty, but heroically resisted. Pre­trial hearings proved all the information in the documents had been declassified by NSA. After a years­old interview record was orally falsified, this author was asked to plead guilty to felony perjury, but also refused.

Section 1.7 of Executive Order 13526 governing classification stipulates that no information may be classified to conceal violations of law, inefficiency or administrative error; to prevent embarrassment; to restrain competition; or to prevent or delay release of information not requiring protection. This section is observed in the breach, as political considerations dictate.

For all the above proscribed reasons, unclassified parts of the NSA IG audit we requested are still withheld by NSA ten years after the audit was first published. Former NSA contractors Edward Snowden and John Kiriakou showed that illegal and unconstitutional activities were hidden from American citizens and others behind the veil of classification. For revealing material that never should have been classified in the first place, they are paying a very high price.

In Snowden’s case, many revelations about domestic surveillance still are treated as classified to keep them from U.S. voters, although every terrorist and every intelligence agency in the world has access to the documents and almost no ordinary person in any country of interest to the U.S. can function efficiently whilst avoiding NSA surveillance.

–Sensitive but Unclassified Material. Individual agencies claim an unsupervised right to withhold admittedly Unclassified information according to any criteria they see fit and for as long as they choose. In the Clinton email case, it is quite striking that not a word has been breathed about such Unclassified but Sensitive material. Her free pass in this respect is the envy of whistleblowers.

In our case, NSA initially refused to return any materials seized in the raids. When sued, NSA claimed that if a computer contained even one admittedly Unclassified document with material that had not been officially released by NSA, the Agency could retain and destroy the entire computer content. Courts eventually allowed NSA to keep such individual documents in their entirety and at their sole discretion, but required that others be copied and returned.

–With ordinary citizens or lower-level whistleblowers, Sensitive but Unclassified material is wielded as yet another weapon in the Executive’s arsenal of punishments. Even high­level intelligence officials have had difficulty publishing their memoirs, partly because pre­publication review agreements routinely allow an agency to withhold unclassified information.

Since the 1950s, most judges refuse to review allegedly classified or sensitive material even to determine that it does not fall under the common­sense prohibitions of Section 1.7 of the Executive Order on classification. The Executive Branch has also been famously successful in promulgating a “state secrets” doctrine to avoid or indefinitely delay court scrutiny of important civil liberties issues such as domestic surveillance. It is now known, however, that the original state secrets precedent wrongly invoked intelligence sources and methods to cover up Air Force culpability for a plane crash.

In the author’s case, even NSA’s grossly inconsistent classifications got a free pass. A document that was released to Kirk Wiebe as Unclassified was branded Top Secret Compartmented when found on the author’s computer. Confronted with this vast discrepancy, NSA alleged that it could neither confirm nor deny that the document had previously been released. It keeps no records of prior declassifications. Even in a related court case. Nor is it interested in an available system to compile and compare such records. But the judge let the classification stand.

Diane Roark retired in 2002 after 17 years on the professional staff of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence and prior service on the National Security Council Staff, in the Office of the Secretary of Defense, and in the Intelligence section of the International division of the Department of Energy.

October 22, 2015 Posted by | Deception, Full Spectrum Dominance | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Corporate Canada and Bribery

Business as Usual

By Yves Engler | Dissident Voice | October 21, 2015

While most Canadians proudly recognize the beaver, the hockey player and the curling broom as symbols of this country, some of us would be made uncomfortable by another enduring emblem of the Great White North: a businessman wearing a Maple Leaf lapel pin discretely passing a plain manila envelope stuffed with cash to a foreign official.

Two weeks ago SNC-Lavalin agreed to pay $1.5 million to settle a corruption case brought against it by the African Development Bank. Accused of bribing officials in Uganda and Mozambique, the Montréal-based company also accepted a number of other non-monetary conditions on its operations to avoid being blacklisted from projects financed by the African Development Bank.

Over the past half-decade Canada’s biggest engineering company is alleged to have greased palms in Libya, Algeria, Tunisia, Angola, Nigeria, Mozambique, Ghana, Malawi, Uganda and Zambia as well as a number of Asian countries and Canada. A joint CBC/Globe and Mail investigation of a small Oakville based division of SNC uncovered suspicious payments to government officials in connection with 13 international development projects. In each case between five and 10 per cent of costs were recorded as “‘project consultancy cost,’ sometimes ‘project commercial cost,’ but [the] real fact is the intention is [a] bribe,” a former SNC engineer, Mohammad Ismail, told the CBC.

In Libya, the RCMP accused SNC of paying $50 million to Saadi Gadhafi, son of the late Libyan dictator, in exchange for a series of contracts. The company is also alleged to have defrauded $130 million from Libyan public agencies. In a less high profile incident, the RCMP accused SNC of paying $6-million to the son-in-law of former Tunisian dictator Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali in exchange for assistance securing contracts.

In Angola, SNC allegedly paid millions of dollars to government officials in exchange for a hydro dam contract. Former SNC employee Joseph Salim sued the company for wrongful dismissal, claiming he was terminated after he blew the whistle on the illegal payments. Salim alleged that SNC’s former CEO, Jacques Lamarre, agreed to pay a ten percent “agent fee” but company officials were unwilling to declare more than five percent on the books, which necessitated artificially increasing the price of the dam.

In northern Nigeria, SNC officials allegedly paid 1.2 million naira in cash — nearly five times the annual average Nigerian salary — to a government official responsible for a World Bank-funded water and sewer project. One company spreadsheet noted that money was “paid to Musa Tete [the Nigerian bureaucrat overseeing the World Bank-financed project] through Yaroson”, SNC’s Nigerian partner.

As allegations of SNC bribery began to seep out in 2012, the company continued to win billions of dollars in Canadian government contracts, maintained the backing of the Canadian Commercial Corporation and garnered support from Canadian diplomats abroad.

Canada has been quick to denounce corruption in Africa, but has lagged behind the rest of the G7 countries in criminalizing foreign bribery. For example, into the early 1990s, Canadian companies were at liberty to deduct bribes paid to foreign officials from their taxes, affording them an “advantage over the Americans” − they’re forbidden by law to pay out agents’ commissions.”, according to Bernard Lamarre former head of Lavalin (now SNC Lavalin).

In 1977, the US Foreign Corrupt Practices Act outlawed bribes to foreign officials. Ottawa failed to follow suit until the Organisation of Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) launched its anti-bribery convention in 1997. The OECD convention obligated signatories to pass laws against bribing public officials abroad and two years later Canada complied, passing the Corruption of Foreign Public Officials Act (CFPOA). Still, for the next decade Canadian officials did little to enforce the law. The RCMP waited until 2008 to create an International Anti-Corruption Unit and didn’t secure a significant conviction under the CFPOA until 2011.

Anti-corruption watchdogs have repeatedly criticized Ottawa’s lax approach. A March 2011 report from the OECD Working Group on Bribery criticized Canada’s framework for combating foreign corruption and Ottawa has fared poorly in Transparency International’s rankings. In 2013 Transparency International complained that between 2005 and 2011, Canada exercised “little to no enforcement of the OECD Anti-Bribery Convention.” The group repeatedly ranked Canada the worst performer among G7 countries on this front.

Last week Toronto-based Kinross Gold disclosed that the United States Department of Justice launched an investigation into “improper payments made to government officials and certain internal control deficiencies” at its operations in Ghana and Mauritania. In my new book Canada in Africa : 300 years of Aid and Exploitation I detail numerous reports of Canadian companies accused of bribing officials.

While the federal government recently strengthened anti-bribery legislation, Ottawa has so far largely turned a blind eye to corporations paying off public officials abroad.

Should bribery really be seen as “Canadian” as the RCMP’s Musical Ride?

Yves Engler is the author of The Ugly Canadian: Stephen Harper’s Foreign Policy and Canada in Africa: 300 Years of Aid and Exploitation

October 22, 2015 Posted by | Corruption | , | 1 Comment

Bloody Saturday: Three Palestinian teenagers murdered, CPTer arrested for ‘Instagram Photo’

CPT | October 17, 2015

As Israeli state authorities processed my arrest on account of ‘an Instagram photo’, Israeli forces and settlers shot dead three Palestinian teenagers on the streets of Hebron on Saturday 17.10.15. With three teenagers killed and settlers literally celebrating in their blood, it is perhaps little surprise that those with cameras slung over shoulders are increasingly coming under threat.

Sitting in a cold room for hours, without access to a lawyer, I watched my beloved camera slammed on a table. Meanwhile, my presence in the base was denied to my colleague. One of my photos, I was told, rendered me a threat to the ‘security of Israel’.

An Instagram photo? Me? A threat to one of the most powerful states in the world?

The threat here? The truth.

Truth says Aeschylus, is the first casualty of war. But, can truth be a casualty? Truth cannot be arrested, deported, humiliated, beaten or killed. Hidden? Yes. Repressed? Yes. But it still remains.

Cameras indicate that – Occupation – we are watching you, we are documenting you, we are here, and we see you. We see Palestinian blood running on occupied streets in Hebron. Indeed, I dropped my camera lens cap in Hadeel’s.

CPT, as a very small thread in the fabric of resisting this occupation, has recently come under heightened attack. Including abusive phone-calls, increased police aggression and checks, and now, arrest.

We were detained by Israeli border police as we were en route to the site of 17 year-old Bayan’s murder. We stood detained against the wall as we waited for the commander “who wanted to speak” to me. Informed I was under arrest for taking a photo of “classified material” (two weeks ago in public space), I was taken to a police station to await interrogation. I knew they were ‘serious’ – this was not their normal provocation that we experience daily – but I did not yet know the full extent of the danger they would later put me in ten hours later.

“Why do you love these terrorists?” I was repeatedly questioned, amidst suggestions that I “go and sleep with Abu Mazzan” (PA leader Mahmoud Abbas) throughout the cold hours of waiting. I stated my right to inform my lawyer that I was in custody, to which I was greeted with “you tell your lawyer when I tell you to”, informed I would have to wait for longer because of such non-cooperation. My passport and my camera confiscated, I shivered for seven hours awaiting interrogation.

My body grew tenser and sorer, and, needless to say, my request for something warm was greeted with smirking. One Border Police woman amused herself with staring at me for some time. Another’s gun knocked my leg as he fidgeted. Another attempted to engage me in conversation about how ‘ungrateful’ ‘the Arabs’ were, citing the ‘giving back of Gaza’ in 2005. I declined conversation, deciding it was not the time to discuss locking over 1.5 million people in an open air prison and bombing them. Eventually most of the personnel trickled away, and I was left with one Border Police woman who, thankfully, largely ignored me. The sounds of explosions from all over Hebron, and two consecutive violent films – ironically set in prisons – filled the space as we sat in awkward silence.

Later, as the room refilled there began a somewhat animated discussion about the lack of English speakers to translate in interrogation. I listened wide-eyed as the discussion moved onto ‘Ofer’ – in reference to the renowned military prison near Ramallah. Ofer prison- where countless Palestinians are held for months without charge in ‘administrative detention’. As a British soldier was thankfully located, I was told I had one chance, and one chance only, to call my lawyer.

My one conversation over, interrogation began, and I was informed that I was to be deported. Apparently, I could speak to my lawyer again when I got off the plane. Chuckling, my interrogator changed this to a 15 day ban from Hebron. Supposedly, I was to leave that night. Listening to the clashes raging outside, with two teenagers killed so far, I expressed the impossibility, to which I was given a shrug and a “well if you don’t leave tonight, I deport you”. Told to sign forms, including one fully in Hebrew, I was also skin-crawlingly informed that my interrogator would keep my camera unless “I was a good girl for him”.

Suddenly, the interrogator received a call and ran from the room. 18 year old Tarek had been killed by Israeli soldiers. The third teenager in 12 hours.

Explosions outside the base heightened and a blindfolded Palestinian man, staggering as he was dragged in, was now slumped next to me. He was wincing with pain at the tightness of his handcuffs. “These are the terrorists you love” I was told.

An hour and a half later, my interrogator returned, and took my DNA, while we argued about the danger of leaving Hebron amidst the chaos of that bloody night. “It’s not safe” I said, “I have nowhere to go”, to which my interrogator repeated I could sleep with Abu Mazzan, and another replied “of course it’s not safe – you are in Israel, there are terrorists everywhere”. Resisting temptations of stating that we are in ‘occupied Palestinian territory’, I once again called my lawyer, having blessedly had my phone left with me in the chaos of the killing. Eventually, she convinced them to return my passport, my camera, and for me to leave by 9am the following morning.

Real panic set in as I was released. They did not release me to the Palestinian area, but into the settlement housing strongly ideological individuals. That day settlers had killed a teenager and celebrated in his blood. That day Israeli soldiers had called to other international activists to run, as settlers approached with machine guns. Having had my fair-share of being spat at, jeered at, being swerved at by cars, and accusations of Nazism or ISIS membership from settlers, I knew full well the danger, walking alone at 10pm. Those that made me leave that way were also fully aware of that danger, particularly heightened that day.

Reaching the now deserted road where Palestinians still live, I could hear the noise of mobs of settlers as I headed to the road block to meet my friend. Palestinian families watching the horror of the day from their windows were calling to me: “why are you out walking there? It’s not safe! Come off the street!” Three men cautiously opened their door, ushering me in to their family home. Loaded with the gift of cucumbers, one Palestinian man risked arrest – and even death had we ran into settlers – to walk me to the road block where I met friends, who drove me, also at their own risk, back home.

Back at the office, we sat listening until 3am to continued explosions and the calls of warning and help screaming from mosque towers around the city, as settlers continued to attack families.

My arrest is a very small fragment of a much wider repression of those documenting the violence of occupation. On the day I was arrested, so were two Palestinian activists from Youth against Settlements, having videoed the aftermath of Fadel’s murder. This week, the Israeli military has ransacked journalist offices, Israeli border police were caught on video stamping on the face of an accredited journalist, as the Foreign Press Association report “a series of unprovoked attacks”, and human rights workers and journalists are increasingly targeted in demonstrations.

Flicking through images and videos on my camera, I see the extreme ugliness of this occupation, which we will continue to write about, photograph and video. I also see the faces of the kindergarten children we escort to school in Hebron.

Truth: a casualty of war it may be, but a fatality? No. It cannot be. It exists. It screams. It threatens. It simmers. In ‘speaking truth to power’, not only do we see the horrors of the violence of this occupation, but we see the glimmers of hope and humanity that cannot be repressed.

October 22, 2015 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Subjugation - Torture | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

‘No customer oversight’: Dreaded cybersecurity bill CISA is back

RT | October 21, 2015

After a delay, cybersecurity legislation dreaded by privacy advocates and relentlessly pursued by national security officials, known as CISA, will get a vote on the Senate floor “in a couple of days,” a top sponsoring senator anticipates.

The Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act of 2015, also known as CISA, is as polarizing as it is close to a vote. It finally hit the Senate floor for debate on Tuesday, with top sponsor Senator Richard Burr (R-North Carolina) highlighting its necessity because “actors around the world continue to attack US systems, and in many cases penetrate it.”

Under the bill, private companies would have increased liability protection with respect to collecting American’s personal data that could potentially be related to security threats. It would also make it easier for them to share such data with the government, including departments like the National Security Agency.

Prominent CISA opponent and privacy advocate, Senator Ron Wyden (D-Oregon), challenged Burr, who chairs the Select Committee on Intelligence, on one argument in particular.

“He said that the most important feature of the legislation is that it’s voluntary. The fact is, it is voluntary for companies. It will be mandatory for their customers,” Wyden said, “and the fact is the companies can participate without the knowledge and consent of their customers, and they are immune from customer oversight and lawsuits if they do so.”

In many cases, customers have been able to nudge companies from a pro to a con position on CISA. In one instance last month, the Business Software Alliance (BSA) sent a letter to legislators, in part calling for “cyber threat information sharing legislation” granting them immunity so that they could “more easily share that information voluntarily.” However, after Fight for the Future, an internet freedom advocacy group, set up to criticize the organizations, the BSA changed its tune.

The BSA, which includes Apple, IBM, and Microsoft, now opposes CISA, as does the Computer and Communications Industry Association, which includes Google, Facebook, and Amazon. Reddit, Wikimedia, Twitter, and Yelp have also released anti-CISA statements.

“Leading security experts argue that CISA actually won’t do much, if anything, to prevent future large-scale data breaches such as the federal government has already suffered, but many worry it could make things worse, by creating incentives for private companies and the government to widely share huge amounts of Americans’ personally identifiable information that will itself then be vulnerable to sophisticated hacking attacks,” added the American Library Association in a press release.

The discussion on CISA comes after a stall in the Senate’s schedule before its August recess. Lawmakers agreed to delay a vote on the bill when it became clear that senators had many amendments to submit, some of which included so-called “riders,” or unrelated issues, such as Senator Rand Paul’s (R-Kentucky) amendments to audit the Federal Reserve and defund “sanctuary cities.” At least 22 amendments will be given a chance to be added to CISA before a final passage vote.

Burr optimistically told The Hill that “a couple of days” was all that was needed to get to a final vote on CISA. He may have overshot, however, because there could be a scrimmage over amendments despite his efforts. Burr, with support of other Senate leaders, has managed to combine eight amendments into a legislative package he shares with CISA co-sponsor Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-California), but the grouping includes only one of Wyden’s two amendments.

Wyden told reporters that the one he feels “most strongly about” hadn’t been included. It would have provided a review system for deleting private info before data gets passed on to the government. The Wyden amendment that was included in the bill only requires that people be notified when their data is inappropriately shared.

Although no vote has been scheduled yet, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) is trying to end debate by Thursday. Beyond CISA, the Senate has an ambitious to-do list. It will decide whether to extend government spending beyond September 30, address the Iran nuclear deal, and fund highways and transportation systems in a comprehensive bill.

October 22, 2015 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Fallout from the Gaza Blockade

By Ann Wright | Consortium News | October 22, 2015

A lawsuit has been filed in the United States against former Israeli Prime Minister and Defense Minister Ehud Barak for his role in the 2010 Israeli commando attack upon the Gaza Freedom Flotilla in which eight Turkish citizens and one American citizen were killed by Israeli forces and over 50 Turkish passengers were wounded.

The trial would be the first time a former Israeli Prime Minister would be put on trial for reasons of international terrorism.

The family of Furkan Doğan, the American citizen who appears to have been executed in the attack — shot five times, including point blank to the head, according to the family’s lawyers — filed the lawsuit in the Central District Court of California. Notice of the trial was handed to Barak on Oct. 20 in Los Angeles when he spoke in the Distinguished Speaker series of Southern California.

According to a press release from the Turkish International Humanitarian organization that sponsored the Mavi Marmara ship, charges against Barak include his planning and leadership in the murder of Furkan Doğan and others in international waters, willful killing, attempted willful killing, intentionally causing serious injury to body or health, international terrorism, plundering, intentionally causing damage to property, restriction of people’s freedom and instigating violent crimes.

American attorneys Hydee Dijsktal and Dan Stormer; the British law firm, Stoke & White; British Professor Dr. Geoffrey Nice; and UK attorney Rodney Dixon are the legal team for the Dogan family.

Other legal proceedings against Barak and other senior members of the Israeli government are in the works.  In 2010 in France, the widows of Cevdet Kılıçlar and Necdet Yıldırım, two others executed by Israeli commandos, brought a lawsuit against Barak which he evaded when he was informed of the French lawsuit as he was about to deplane in Paris to attend a weapons expo.

In a case brought in the International Criminal Court (ICC), the ICC prosecutor has ruled that the attack by Israeli commandos upon the Mavi Marmara in the Gaza Freedom Flotilla was a war crime.

Additionally, the Seventh High Criminal Court in Istanbul, Turkey, has issued a “red notice” for the arrest of four senior Israeli government officials in a lawsuit filed in Turkey. The Israeli officials named by the court are Israel’s former Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi, former navy chief Eliezer Marom, former military intelligence head Amos Yadlin, and former air force intelligence chief Avishai Levy.

Due to political considerations dealing with the State of Israel, the Ministry of Justice of Turkey has delayed sending to Interpol the “red notice” much to the consternation of those seeking justice.

Ann Wright served 29 years in the U.S. Army/Army Reserves and retired as a Colonel. She also was a U.S. diplomat for 16 years and worked in U.S. Embassies in Nicaragua, Grenada, Somalia, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Sierra Leone, Micronesia, Afghanistan and Mongolia. She resigned from the U.S. government in March, 2003 in opposition to the Iraq war. She was on the 2010, 2011 and 2015 Gaza Freedom Flotillas and has been to Gaza six times after Israeli attacks on Gaza.

October 22, 2015 Posted by | Illegal Occupation, Subjugation - Torture, War Crimes | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Israeli Jew mistaken for Palestinian ‘attacker’ shot dead in Jerusalem

Ma’an – October 22, 2015

BETHLEHEM – Israeli forces shot and killed a Jewish man in central Jerusalem overnight Wednesday after mistaking him for a “Palestinian attacker,” Israeli police and media said.

Israeli media said the man was shot after he attempted to grab a weapon from Israeli security forces after an argument. The man was identified as a Jewish-Israeli from his identity card.

Other reports said a private security guard shot the man after an altercation as he was getting off a bus in the center of Jerusalem.

Israeli forces have killed at least 47 Palestinians since the start of the month, many of whom rights groups claim were killed through “extra-judicial execution” by Israeli forces, who have been urged by officials to shoot and kill alleged attackers on scene.

On Sunday, an Eritrean man was shot and killed after being suspected of being a second attacker during a shooting in Beersheba bus station in southern Israel.

The man was identified as Haftom Zarhum, 29, and had traveled to Beersheba to obtain a visa.

Graphic video footage shows Zarhum being assaulted and kicked in the head as he lies bleeding on the ground, with several benches thrown at him as an angry Israeli mob surrounds him.

Last week in northern Israel an Israeli stabbed and injured another Israeli after reportedly mistaking him for a Palestinian.

Attacks allegedly committed by Palestinians throughout the occupied Palestinian territory and Israel this month have left at least nine Israelis dead, including three settlers.

October 22, 2015 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Subjugation - Torture, Video | , , , | Leave a comment

Human Rights Center Suing CIA Broken Into, Research Stolen

teleSUR – October 21, 2015

Just over two weeks after the University of Washington’s Center for Human Rights filed a lawsuit in federal court against the CIA for the intelligence agency’s refusal to release declassified documents, the office of the center’s director was broken into, with data and equipment stolen.

Sensitive documents, including personal details about ongoing investigations in El Salvador, pertaining to a lawsuit filed by the University of Washington against the the CIA were stolen from the office of Professor Angelina Godoy, University officials reported on Wednesday.

The robbery has been described by university officials as a “possible act of retaliation” by individuals interested in compromising the university’s case against the CIA due to circumstances that suggest this wasn’t just a common burglary.

“We are concerned because it is also possible this was an act of retaliation for our work. There are a few elements that make this an unusual incident,” the Center for Human Rights said in a statement.

Following the incident, Center for Human Rights Director Dr. Angelina Godoy reported that her desktop computer was stolen along with a hard drive containing about 90 percent of the information relating to the center’s research in El Salvador. However, according to the center, what was peculiar about the circumstances is that her office was the only one targeted and that the stolen hard drive has no real monetary value; what was valuable was the data on the drive.

“Lastly, the timing of this incident — in the wake of the recent publicity around our freedom of information lawsuit against the CIA regarding information on a suspected perpetrator of grave human rights violations in El Salvador — invites doubt as to potential motives,” added the press statement.

On Oct. 2 the center filed a lawsuit under the Freedom of Information Act alleging that the CIA is illegally withholding information on retired Salvadoran Army officer, Col. Sigifredo Ochoa, who is currently under criminal investigation for complicity in the 1981 Santa Cruz massacre in El Salvador.

The lawsuit hopes to support justice-seeking survivors of the U.S-backed counterinsurgency against left-wing rebels that left more than 75,000 people dead and over 30,000 disappeared between 1980 and 1992.

“Access to the documents … could facilitate justice proceedings in these and other cases of grave rights abuses,” the lawsuit claims.

October 22, 2015 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Deception, Full Spectrum Dominance | , , , , | Leave a comment

Turkish teen arrested outside an Internet Café for ‘insulting’ Erdogan

Press TV – October 22, 2015

A Turkish teenager has been arrested by police forces for allegedly “insulting” the country’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, reports say.

The Cihan News Agency said on Thursday that the teenager identified as U. E. was detained outside an Internet Café on Wednesday night.

The 15-year-old is expected to be brought before court later in the day, which will determine whether he will be charged or fined.

Details regarding the accusations brought against him have not been released.

It is illegal to insult the country’s president under Turkish law, and those found guilty of doing so are at risk of facing up to four years in prison. The law has led to the arrest and prosecution of a number of journalists, activists, intellectuals, students and even celebrities.

Last month, a 16-year-old Turkish youth was handed a suspended 11-month jail sentence for calling Erdogan a thief during a student protest last December.

Earlier, Bülent Keneş, the editor-in-chief of the Turkish English-language newspaper Today’s Zaman, was handed down a suspended jail term of 21 months by a court in the capital, Ankara, for insulting Erdogan in a message posted on Twitter.

Tolga Tanış, a US-based journalist, was also detained in June over suspicions that he insulted Erdogan in a book he had authored.

Rights groups and free speech advocates have criticized the government for suing people over expressing their opinions, describing it as a means of aggressive muzzling of dissent in Turkey.

Erdogan, a former premier who ascended to presidency last year, has faced growing popular dissatisfaction over what critics say is his growing autocratic manner.

October 22, 2015 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance | , | Leave a comment