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Virginia teen with pro-ISIS Twitter account sentenced to 11 years in prison

RT | August 28, 2015

A high school honor student who pleaded guilty to conspiring to provide material support to Islamic State through social media has been sentenced to 136 months in prison. The teen aided his friend in traveling to Syria to join the jihadist group in January.

In June, Ali Shukri Amin, 17, of Manassas, Virginia, pleaded guilty in a federal court to one count of providing material support and resources to Islamic State (IS, also known as ISIS/ISIL), which is considered a terrorist organization by the United States government.

On Thursday, Amin was sentenced to more than 11 years in prison. After serving his sentence, Amin will face a “lifetime of supervised release and monitoring of his internet activities,” according to the US Department of Justice (DOJ). Earlier this month, Amin said his thinking had become “distorted,” and that he had perverted the teachings of Islam to justify violence and death.

“I am deeply ashamed for becoming so lost and adrift from what I know in my heart is right,” Amin wrote to the judge tasked with sentencing him, the Washington Post reported last week. Prosecutors had originally sought a 15-year prison sentence. Amin asked for just a little over six years.

Amin was responsible for the Twitter handle @Amreekiwitness, an account with more than 4,000 followers that posted more than 7,000 messages since June 2014, according to a plea agreement. The account was openly pro-Islamic State, offering advice and encouragement to IS supporters, including how to use Bitcoin to send funding to IS. Amin’s @Amreekiwitness also sparred with the US State Department’s anti-radicalization Twittter account, @ThinkAgain_DOS.

Amin, identified as a Muslim by his attorney, facilitated travel to Syria for Reza Niknejad, 18, also of Prince William County, Virginia, according to the DOJ. Both attended Prince William County’s Osbourn Park High School, where Niknejad graduated in June 2014. Amin, an honor student who had been accepted to college before withdrawing, left the school in February.

In January, Amin and another teenager took Niknejad to Dulles International Airport outside Washington, DC so that he could catch a flight to Greece. Niknejad met up with Amin’s contacts in Istanbul, Turkey during a layover. Niknejad is now believed to be a member of the Islamic State in Syria.

Niknejad, a naturalized citizen originally from Iran, was charged in June with conspiring to provide material support to terrorists, conspiring to provide material support to IS, and conspiring to kill and injure people abroad.

Amin, a naturalized citizen from Sudan, is one of around 50 people charged by federal prosecutors in the US for trying to aid IS, the Washington Post reported in June. He is the youngest person to be charged for such activity, according to MSNBC.

The DOJ said Amin’s sentencing “demonstrates that those who use social media as a tool to provide support and resources to ISIL will be identified and prosecuted with no less vigilance than those who travel to take up arms with ISIL.”

“Ali Shukri Amin is a young American who used social media to provide material support to ISIL,” said Assistant US Attorney General for National Security John P. Carlin in a DOJ press release.

“ISIL continues to use social media to send their violent and hateful message around the world in an attempt to radicalize, recruit and incite youth and others to support their cause.  More and more, their propaganda is seeping into our communities and reaching those who are most vulnerable.”

In the press release, Prince William County Police Department Chief Stephan Hudson said Amin was reported by “school staff” to law enforcement, which notified federal authorities through a Joint Terrorism Task Force partnership.

“Observations made by school staff and subsequent follow-up by the School Resource Officer were some of the earlier indicators of suspicious behavior regarding this individual,” Hudson said. “Those observations were quickly relayed to our partners with the JTTF who acted upon this information very quickly. We greatly appreciate that these observations were observed and reported to the proper authorities proved to be instrumental in the overall investigation in stopping a dangerous network such as ISIL from further infiltrating our community.”

The DOJ did not offer details as to the extent of Amin’s “suspicious behavior” reported by school staff that triggered an FBI investigation of a teenager. The FBI was first informed of Amin’s support in November 2014, according to reports.

“Amin’s case serves as a reminder of how persistent and pervasive online radicalization has become,” said assistant director of the FBI’s Washington Field Office Andrew McCabe, adding that the sentencing “marks a personal tragedy for the Amin family and the community as we have lost yet another young person to the allure of extremist ideology focused on hatred.”

Amin’s attorney, Joseph Flood, told the Post in June that his client was most angry at the Syrian regime, which Amin believed was tacitly supported by the United States. Amin’s actions “are a reflection of his deeply held religious beliefs, but also his immaturity, social isolation and frustration at the ineffectiveness of nonviolent means for opposing a criminal regime,” Flood said.

“In every regard, the activity that resulted in his conviction was an anomaly and at odds with the hard-working values he learned in his family,” Flood added. “Mr. Amin’s greatest hope is that others might learn from his errors and find pro-social, nonviolent ways of working for change.”

Amin also ran an ask.fm page under the name AmreekiWitness, according to his plea agreement. The account was “dedicated to raising awareness about the upcoming conquest of the Americas, and the benefits it has upon the American people.”

The FBI received clearance to search Amin’s phone in November, the Post reported. The agency seized a package from him on January 7 that contained a smartphone, thumb drive, and handwritten note in English and Arabic.

An FBI affidavit said Niknejad’s family checked his bank account on January 18 and discovered that he had bought a plane ticket to Turkey. He had told them he was going on a camping trip. The family also found an envelope in their mailbox that same day containg a thumb drive on which were family photos and a note from Niknejad saying he loved his family but he “had traveled to Medina, Saudi Arabia, to further study Islam.”

August 28, 2015 Posted by | Civil Liberties | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

UK Home Office issues threat against the functioning of democracy

RT |September 30, 2014

Powers banning extremists from appearing on TV and which allow police to vet “harmful” individuals’ social media activity would be enforced if the Conservatives return to power next year, Home Secretary Theresa May is set to announce.

The party manifesto will also pledge to introduce time-limited Extremist Disruption Orders to curb individuals’ right to speak at public events and control their social media usage. The maximum sentence could be up to 10 years in prison for breaking a banning order.

Announcing the plans at the Conservative Party Conference in Birmingham on Tuesday, May will also promise greater powers for British police to access internet data.

Police and intelligence services would accrue greater access to details of when and where phone calls and emails are sent, but not their content.

Targeted individuals could be banned from taking part in public protests, certain public spaces, from associating with named people and from using broadcast media if deemed a threat to “the functioning of democracy.”

The Home Office counter-extremism strategy would encompass “the full spectrum of extremism” extending beyond radical Islamism to include far-right and fascist organizations.

Orders would target those who undertake activities “for the purpose of overthrowing democracy,” a broad definition that could encompass political activists of many different stripes.

Critics are expected to accuse the government’s gag order of dramatically widening state censorship against people who have never been convicted of a criminal offence.

In their final party conference ahead of the May 7 general election, the Conservatives aim to appear the toughest party on the threat of terrorism.

Prime Minister David Cameron told BBC Breakfast on Tuesday morning that new powers would go beyond mere advocates of violence, instead targeting those who propagate dangerous views and radicalize others.

Currently, organizations can only be banned if there is evidence of links to terrorism.

“The problem that we have had is this distinction of saying we will only go after you if you are an extremist that directly supports violence,” said Cameron. … Full article

September 30, 2014 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance | , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

US-run ‘Cuban Twitter’ categorized ‘political tendencies’ of users – report

RT | May 1, 2014

Contractors working for the United States who ran the so-called ‘Cuban Twitter’ social media project categorized user responses to overtly political messages for “receptiveness” and “political tendencies,” among other details, according to a new report.

The US State Department’s Agency for the International Development (USAID) employed contractors to foster political unrest – while avoiding Cuba’s internet restrictions – through the subscription-based text-messaging service ZunZuneo, AP reported earlier this month.

Documents obtained by AP said ZunZuneo was designed to start with fairly benign messaging. Once it was more widespread among the Cuban population, it would introduce political content that would attempt to inspire Cubans to “renegotiate the balance of power between the state and society.”

Despite the State Department’s assertions that the program was not used to influence political leanings, AP reported Wednesday that cell phone users were categorized in databases as being “pro-revolution,” “apolitical,” or “anti-revolutionary.”

One young contractor working on the project was Paula Cambronero, whose first job out of college was working on how Cubans interacted with ZunZuneo messages carefully – and quietly – sent from Spanish phone numbers. The contractor asked Cambronero to communicate with staff over encrypted channels, and emails were sent from a domain name “not publicly linked” to the contractor.

Her employer – not named by AP – told her that she would be dealing with a “considerable amount of sensitive information that must be safeguarded to protect critical operations of the Project.” USAID even established a dummy company in the Cayman Islands to cover any money trail associated with ZunZuneo.

Cambronero’s responsibility was to build a database of unsuspecting Cuban cell phone users that responded to ZunZuneo messages, using classifications like gender, age, location, “receptiveness,” and “political tendencies.” She would analyze how users reacted to overtly political messages written by a hired Cuban satirist that poked at the nation’s leaders.

Cambronero did not respond to AP’s request for comment. The State Department had no comment to AP on Wednesday.

On Tuesday, USAID spokesman Matthew Herrick told AP that the agency had reviewed the project and offered congressional investigators the selection of messages sent to Cubans.

Herrick claimed the 249 different messages focused on sports, technology, world news, and trivia, and that the messages “were consistent with the objective of creating a platform for Cubans to speak freely among themselves.”

The political messages crafted by the satirist were sent “under a grant that pre-dated the ZunZuneo project,” Herrick said.

Yet documents reviewed by AP show that USAID considered the grant a “test phase” of the network that would become ZunZuneo.

Overall, Cambronero collected more than 700 responses to text messages, analyzing them by two variables: the level of interest in the received messages and the political content of a response.

She found that 68 percent of responses exhibited mild interest in the ZunZuneo texts. Many responses – 210 total – wanted to know who was sending the anonymous message.

“Explain your point better because I don’t understand and remember that if you haven’t done anything you shouldn’t fear anything, at least tell me your name if you’re not a coward,” said one respondent.

Others asked for help in obtaining birth certificates of Spanish ancestors, a prerequisite for acquiring a Spanish passport to leave Cuba.

Only 59 responses were analyzed for political content. Cambronero found 10 that did have “political character,” AP reported, “of which two were counter-revolutionary.”

In her notes, Cambronero recommended that “messages with a humorous connotation should not contain a strong political tendency, so as not to create animosity in the recipients.”

Upon the ZunZuneo revelations, the Obama administration quickly came under attack and promptly denounced allegations that it covertly plotted to disrupt Cuban politics.

Condemnation of the program continues to emerge. In Costa Rica, where ZunZuneo was reportedly developed by American officials, the nation’s foreign minister Enrique Castillo said last week that not only does he think it was “inappropriate” for the US to use his country to conduct the project, but that he previously warned officials not to involve his Central American country in the endeavor due to fears it would strain Costa Rica’s own relationship with Cuba.

“I think it’s inappropriate to use an embassy in Costa Rica for this type of operation that harms a third country,” Castillo told the AP. “We’re not filing a complaint. The point is that embassies accredited in Costa Rica don’t have to submit their plans or programs for the Costa Rican government’s approval.”

Costa Rica’s minister of communications, Carlos Roverssi, said Wednesday that it will fall on the country’s recently elected government to deal with the matter from here on out.

“It seems to me that the issue is now public and the next government should follow up on the issue, without a doubt,” he said.

The US State Department has begun a review of the program, saying it would be “troubling” if ZunZuneo involved political messaging.

May 1, 2014 Posted by | Deception | , , | Leave a comment

NSA chief admits govt collected cellphone location data

RT | October 02, 2013

The director of the National Security Agency admitted this week that the NSA tested a program that collected cellphone location data from American citizens starting in 2010, but suspended it shortly after.

Gen. Keith Alexander, the head of both the NSA and the United States Cyber Command, told lawmakers in Washington early Wednesday that the secretive pilot program was taken offline in 2011, but that the intelligence community may someday in the future make plans to routinely collect location data about US citizens.

Alexander briefly discussed the program during a Senate hearing on the Hill early Wednesday that focused on the data provided to the government through the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, or FISA, including programs that were exposed earlier this year by unauthorized disclosures attributed to contractor-turned-leaker Edward Snowden.

Only days earlier, Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Oregon) asked Alexander during a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing if the NSA was collecting location data on American citizens.

“I’m asking, has the NSA ever collected, or ever made any plans to collect, American cell site information?”  Wyden asked last Thursday.

The NSA, Alexander responded at the time, “is not receiving cell-site location data and has no current plans to do so.”

During this Wednesday’s hearing, Alexander explained that, “In 2010 and 2011, NSA received samples in order to test the ability of its systems to handle the data format, but that data was not used for any other purpose and was never available for intelligence analysis purposes.”

According to a written copy of the statement obtained by The New York Times before Wednesday’s hearing, Alexander said that location information is not being collected by the NSA under Section 215 of the Patriot Act. Alexander did not discuss if any other laws are being implemented to otherwise allow for the collection and analysis of location data.

Moments after Alexander revealed the pilot program before the Senate committee, he said that the NSA may someday want to seek approval from Washington to revive that initiative as part of a fully functioning intelligence gathering operation.

“I would just say that this may be something that is a future requirement for the country, but it is not right now,” Alexander said.

Alexander’s statement regarding the new defunct program was expected, and obtained by The New York Times moments before Wednesday’s hearing was underway. Times reporter Charlie Savage wrote that morning that information about the pilot project was only recently declassified by Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, and that the draft answer obtained by the paper and later read aloud by Alexander was prepared in case he was asked about the topic.

Still unsatisfied by the intelligence community’s explanation about the collection of cellphone location data, Sen. Wyden supplied the Times with a response suggesting that the truth behind the NSA’s activities isn’t being fully acknowledged by the intelligence community.

“After years of stonewalling on whether the government has ever tracked or planned to track the location of law-abiding Americans through their cellphones, once again, the intelligence leadership has decided to leave most of the real story secret — even when the truth would not compromise national security,” Wyden said.

In March, Wyden asked Clapper to say if the NSA was collecting personal information on millions of Americans. The intelligence director dismissed that allegation, then later apologized to the Senate for offering a “clearly erroneous” response.

“Time and time again, the American people were told one thing about domestic surveillance in public forums, while government agencies did something else in private,” Wyden told the Senate Intelligence Committee panel of witnesses last week, which included Alexander, Clapper, and Deputy Attorney General James Cole.

During last week’s meeting, Wyden said he “will continue to explore that because I believe this is something the American people have a right to know whether the NSA has ever collected or made plans to collect cell-site information.”

October 3, 2013 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Corruption, Deception, Full Spectrum Dominance | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Israeli government to recruit students as undercover agents on social media

RT | August 15, 2013

Israel is set to recruit students to work undercover in “covert units” at universities. The students will post messages on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube on the Israeli government’s behalf – without identifying themselves as government agents.

The students participating in the project will be part of the public diplomacy arm of Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu’s office. Leaders of the “covert units” will receive full scholarships in return for their online public diplomacy (hasbara).

The Prime Minister’s Office is looking to invest up to 3 million shekels ($840,000) to recruit, organize and fund the activities of hundreds of university students, Haaretz reported.

Sources in the Prime Minister’s Office told the newspaper that the main subjects that the campus-based units will deal with are diplomatic- and security-related issues, efforts to combat boycotts of Israel, anti-Semitism and the de-legitimization of Israel. The students will focus on Israel’s democratic values, freedom of religion, pluralism and “other subjects that give expression to the Israeli government’s public diplomacy policy.”

A member of the Israeli Knesset, Dov Lipman, and the Prime Minister’s Office’s director for interactive media, Danny Seaman, revealed the new initiative during a meeting of the Knesset’s Diaspora Affairs Committee last month.

The Prime Minister’s Office is planning to have Israel’s student union recruit up to 550 students with knowledge of foreign languages from Israel’s seven universities. The student union is to publicize the project among tens of thousands of students, and is to provide computers and work space for a project headquarters at all university campuses.

“With social media, you can’t wait,” an unnamed official involved in the effort told the Jerusalem Post.

“We will get authoritative information out and make sure it goes viral,” the official said. “We won’t leave negative stories out there online without a response, and we will spread positive messages. What we are doing is revolutionary. We are putting public diplomacy in the hands of the public.”

The covert units will be set up at each university and structured in a semi-military fashion. While groups will take directions from staff at the Prime Minister’s Office, the government says that officially they will be politically independent.

“The idea requires that the state’s role not be highlighted and therefore it is necessary to insist on major involvement by the students themselves without any political link [or] affiliation,” Seaman said.

Leaders of covert units will receive full scholarships from the Prime Minister’s Office, which will fund a total of 2.78 million shekels ($780,000) in scholarships for the program in the upcoming academic year, Haaretz reported.

“The national public diplomacy unit in the PMO places an emphasis on social network activity,” the Prime Minister’s Office said in a statement. “As part of this, a new pro-Israel public diplomacy infrastructure of students on Israeli campuses is being established that will assist in advancing and disseminating content on the social networks, particularly to international audiences.”

According to details provided to Israeli media, a government liaison officer for Israel advocacy will oversee the dissemination of “rapid responses” from Israeli officials to respond to news events, and coordinate with other government bodies that deal with public diplomacy, including the Israeli Defense Force.

The IDF has recently asserted a stronger, at times controversial presence on social media with mixed results. The new program may well seek to address perceived deficiencies in the way that Israel communicates with the world online.

Last year, during Israel’s eight-day Operation Pillar of Defense, an incursion launched into the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip in response to rocket attacks, the Palestinian group was widely seen as having won the war of words on online media.

Haaretz reported that in the fallout of the military operation, the hashtag #GazaUnderAttack with 170,000 mentions easily surpassed Israel’s own #IsraelUnderFire, with a comparably meager 25,000 mentions.

“The perception dominating the online discourse was that the IDF had embarked on an unjustified attack,” said Tomer Simon, an Israeli researcher who studied social networking activity during the conflict.

August 15, 2013 Posted by | Deception, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism | , , , , , | 1 Comment

New Snowden leak: Australia’s place in US spying web

RT | July 8, 2013

Ex-NSA contractor and whistleblower Edward Snowden has disclosed his first set of documents outlining Australia’s role in NSA surveillance programs, picking out four facilities in the country that contribute heavily to US spying.

The locations of dozens of the US’s and associated countries signal collection sites have been revealed by Snowden, who leaked classified National Security Agency maps to US journalist Glenn Greenwald, which were then published in the Brazilian newspaper O Globo.

The sites all play a role in the collection of data and interception of internet traffic and telecommunications on a global level.

Australian centers involved in the NSA’s data collection program, codenamed X-Keyscore, include Joint Defence Facility Pine Gap in central Australia and three Australian Signals Directorate facilities: the Shoal Bay Receiving Station in the country’s north, the Australian Defence Satellite Communications Facility on the west coast, and the naval communications station HMAS Harman outside the capital, Canberra.

New Zealand also plays a role, with the Government Security Communications Bureau facility at Waihopai, on the northern point of South Island, also contributing to the program.

X-Keyscore is described as a “national Intelligence collection mission system” by US intelligence expert William Arkin, according to Australian newspaper The Age. It processes all signals prior to being delivered to various “production lines” that deal with more specific issues including the exploration of different types of data for close scrutiny.

The different subdivisions are entitled Nucleon (voice), Pinwale (video), Mainway (call records) and Marina (internet records).

A spokesman for Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd declined to comment on the revelatory map, saying that it was not government practice to comment on intelligence matters, according to national broadsheet The Australian.

Australia is one of the “Five Eyes” – an alliance of intelligence-sharing countries which include of the US, United Kingdom, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.

When documents were published pertaining to the British signal intelligence agency, GCHQ’s “Tempora” program, Snowden reportedly commented that the other partners in the “Five Eyes” intelligence “sometimes go even further than the [National Security Agency] people themselves.”

“If you send a data packet and if it makes its way through the UK, we will get it. If you download anything, and the server is in the UK, then we get it,” he said.

In an interview published online last weekend in advance of its printing in German magazine Der Speigel this week, Snowden argued that the NSA was ‘in bed with the Germans’ commenting that the organization of intelligence gathering in countries involved with the organization is such that political leaders are insulated from the backlash, going on to denounce “how grievously they’re violating global privacy.”

Germany reacted to the report on Monday, with German chancellor Angela Merkel’s spokesman, Steffen Seibert, telling Reuters that the Federal Intelligence Agency’s (BND) cooperation with the NSA “took place within strict legal and judicial guidelines and is controlled by the competent parliamentary committee.”

The US and its affiliates have intelligence facilities distributed worldwide in a variety of US embassies, consulates and military facilities. In an earlier report by Der Spiegel, also based on revelations by Snowden, it was revealed that the NSA bugged EU diplomatic offices and gained access to EU internal computer networks.

July 9, 2013 Posted by | Corruption, Deception, Full Spectrum Dominance | , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on New Snowden leak: Australia’s place in US spying web

AT&T joins Verizon, Facebook in selling customer data

RT | July 6, 2013

AT&T has announced that it will begin selling customers’ smart phone data to the highest bidder, putting the telecommunications giant in line with Verizon, Facebook and other competitors that quietly use a consumer’s history for marketing purposes.

The company claims its new privacy policy, to be updated within “the next few weeks,” exists to “deliver more relevant advertising” to users based on which apps they use and their location, which is provided by GPS-tracking. Apparently recognizing the natural privacy concerns a customer might have, AT&T assured the public that all data would be aggregated and made anonymous to prevent individual identification.

A letter to customers, for instance, described how someone identified as a movie fan will be sent personalized ads for a nearby cinema.

“People who live in a particular geographic area might appear to be very interested in movies, thanks to collective information that shows wireless devices from that area are often located in the vicinity of movie theaters,” the letter states. “We might create a ‘movie’ characteristic for that area, and deliver movie ads to the people who live there.”

A June 28 blog post from AT&T’s chief privacy officer Bob Quinn said the new policy will focus on “Providing You Service and Improving Our Network and Services,” but the online reaction has been overwhelmingly negative, with many customers looking for a way to avoid the new conditions.

“You require that we allow you to store a persistent cookie of your choosing in our web browsers to opt out,” one person wrote. “No mention of how other HTTP clients, such as email clients, can opt out. If you really did care about your customers, you would provide a way for us to opt out all traffic to/from our connection and mobile devices in one easy setting.”

One problem for any customer hoping for a new service is the lack of options, smartphone or otherwise. Facebook, Google, Twitter and Verizon each store consumer data for purposes that have not yet been made clear. And because of the profit potential that exists when a customer blindly trusts a company with their data, small Internet start-ups, including AirSage and many others, have developed a way to streamline information into dollars.

The nefarious aspect of AT&T’s announcement is underscored by the recent headlines around the National Security Agency, which has spent years has compelling wireless corporations to hand over data collected on millions of Americans. Unfortunately for the privacy of those concerned, AT&T’s new policy may only be a sign of things to come.

“Instead of merely offering customers a trusted conduit for communication, carriers are coming to see subscribers as sources of data that can be mined for profit, a practice more common among providers of free online services like Google and Facebook,” the Wall Street Journal wrote about the matter in May.

July 7, 2013 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Deception, Full Spectrum Dominance | , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on AT&T joins Verizon, Facebook in selling customer data

Turkish government combing Twitter in search of protest organizers to arrest

RT | June 29, 2013

Turkish government officials are investigating Twitter and similar social media platforms in an attempt to identify and eventually prosecute the organizers of mass demonstrations, Erodgan administration officials said this week.

In the latest attack on social media’s role in protests, the country’s Transportation and Communications Minister Binali Yildirim called on social media networks on Friday to cooperate with authorities in the probe.

“Yes to the Internet … but an absolute no to its misuse as a tool for crimes, violence, chaos and disorder,” Yildirim said quoted as saying by the local Dogan news agency.

Authorities have scoured social networks searching for protest leaders since national unrest began on May 28 at a rally in Instanbul’s Taksim Square. Police have turned over at least 35 names to prosecutors in the city, according to Turkey’s Aksam newspaper.

It is illegal to ‘insult’ public officials in Turkey.

Deputy Prime Minister Bekir Bozdag acknowledged the existence of the list, the Associated Press reported, only saying ‘profanities and insults conducted electronically’ had contributed to the protests.

‘Crimes determined as such by the law don’t change if they are carried out through Facebook, Twitter or through other electronic means,’ he said. ‘No one has the right to commit crimes under the rule of law.’

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s government has taken international criticism for the brutal police crackdown on protesters in the past month. The prime minister himself, when the rallies began, branded Twitter a ‘troublemaker’ used to spread ‘lies.’

What began as a protest against the redevelopment of Istanbul’s historic Gezi Park morphed into a national movement calling for a pluralistic society instead of Erdogan’s ‘authoritarian’ rule. The prime minister has also lost support for what critics say has been an attempt to impose Islamist values on a largely secular population.

He previously banned YouTube for two years beginning in 2008, citing the widespread presence of obscene material.

Erdogan’s deputies expressed hope that Facebook would allow them to comb through data and identify possible demonstration organizers. Facebook released a statement this week denying the disclosure, though, of any information to the government and expressing concern about future requests.

‘We will be meeting with representatives of the Turkish government when they visit Silicon Valley this week, and we intend to communicate our strong concerns about these proposals directly at that that time,’ Facebook said in a statement.

Turkish Minister of Transport, Maritime Affairs and Communications Binali Yildirim added that Twitter has not shown a ‘positive approach’ despite ‘necessary warnings’ from Turkey. He said that the Turkish government has asked Twitter, along with other social media sites, to set up a representative office inside the country.

‘We have told all social media that… if you operate in Turkey you must comply with Turkish law… When information is requested, we want to see someone in Turkey who can provide this… there needs to be an interlocutor we can put our grievance to and who can correct an error if there is one,’ he said.

‘Twitter will probably comply too. Otherwise, this is a situation that cannot be sustained,’ Yildirim stressed. His statement was presumably referring to social media’s role in the recent protests, though the social media companies themselves have had no role. He added that the government seeks only to ‘turn down the volume of the social media,’ rather than blocking it altogether.

June 29, 2013 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance | , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Turkish government combing Twitter in search of protest organizers to arrest

Germany slams US for ‘Stasi methods’ ahead of Obama visit

RT | June 12, 2013

Germans are expressing outrage as details of a US internet spy program – revealed by a former CIA employee-turned-whistleblower – are prompting comparisons with that of former communist East Germany’s Ministry for State Security.

Unfortunately for Obama’s upcoming trip to Berlin, it was revealed that Germany ranks as the most-spied-on EU country by the US, a map of secret surveillance activities by the National Security Agency (NSA) shows.

German ministers are expressing their outrage over America’s sweeping intelligence-gathering leviathan, with one parliamentarian comparing US spying methods to that of the communist East Germany’s much-dreaded Ministry for State Security (Stasi).

Washington is using “American-style Stasi methods,” said Markus Ferber, a member of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Bavarian sister party and member of the European Parliament.

“I thought this era had ended when the DDR fell,” he said, using the German acronym for the disposed German Democratic Republic.

Clearly, enthusiasm for the American leader’s upcoming visit will be much more tempered than it was in 2008 when 200,000 people packed around the Victory Column in central Berlin to hear Obama speak of a world that would be dramatically different from that of his hawkish Republican predecessor, George W. Bush.

Merkel will question Obama about the NSA program when he visits in Berlin on June 18, government spokesman Steffen Seibert told reporters on Monday. Some political analysts fear the issue will dampen a visit that was intended to commemorate US-German relations on the 50th anniversary of John F. Kennedy’s famous “Ich bin ein Berliner” speech.

Bush excesses, Obama digresses

One year into his second term, Barack Obama seems powerless to roll back the military and security apparatus bolted down by the Bush administration in the ‘War on Terror.’

One consequence of this failure of the Obama administration to reign in Bush-era excesses emerged last week when former National Security Agency employee Edward Snowden, 29, blew the whistle on a top-secret intelligence system named Prism, which collects data on individuals directly from the servers of the largest US telecommunications companies.

According to documents leaked to the Washington Post and Guardian newspapers, PRISM gave US intelligence agencies access to emails, internet chats and photographs from companies like Google, Facebook, Twitter, Verizon and Skype.

Justice Minister Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger said leaked reports that US intelligence services are able to track virtually all forms of Internet communication demanded an explanation.

“The more a society monitors, controls and observes its citizens, the less free it is,” she wrote in a guest editorial for Spiegel Online on Tuesday. “The suspicion of excessive surveillance of communication is so alarming that it cannot be ignored. For that reason, openness and clarification by the US administration itself is paramount at this point.”

All of the facts must be put on the table, the minister added.

Obama has defended the intelligence-gathering system as a “modest encroachment” that Americans should be willing to accept on behalf of security.

“You can’t have 100 per cent security and also then have 100 per cent privacy and zero inconvenience,” he said. “We’re going to have to make some choices as a society. There are trade-offs involved.”

The United States, however, is not legally restricted from eavesdropping on the communications of foreigners, meaning in theory that Washington could be listening to and collecting the private communications of individuals anywhere in the world.

Peter Schaar, Germany’s federal data protection commissioner, said the leaked intelligence was grounds for “massive concern” in Europe.

“The problem is that we Europeans are not protected from what appears to be a very comprehensive surveillance program,” he told the Handelsblatt newspaper. “Neither European nor German rules apply here, and American laws only protect Americans.”

Meanwhile, German opposition parties hope to gain from the scandal, especially with parliamentary elections approaching in September, and Merkel looking to win a third term.

“This looks to me like it could become one of the biggest data privacy scandals ever,” Greens leader Renate Kuenast told Reuters.

Obama is scheduled to hold talks and a news conference with Merkel on Wednesday followed by a speech in front of the Brandenburg Gate, the 18th triumphal arch that is one of Germany’s most recognizable landmarks.

June 12, 2013 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Germany slams US for ‘Stasi methods’ ahead of Obama visit