NSA using facial recognition software to steal your images. Russia beating the West at Propaganda war in Ukraine.

I think it safe to assume nothing is sacred in terms of the NSA. They are snagging any information they can and can afford to let technology catch up to what they have. They steal your phone calls… Web searches.. Your texts… They use your phone to see where you are going and how often… They are stealing your friends lists and finding out who you talk to and how often. The New York Times is now reporting they are stealing your photos off Facebook..Instagram or any other service they want. Let’s not forget this is all against the 4th amendment of the US Constitution..

 

 

 

The implications of this are devious and mind numbing. Let’s not forget they have not stopped any attacks anywhere for any reason. They are data mining for their own nefarious illegal plans which the NSA thinks you have zero right to actually know.

 

 

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/06/01/us/nsa-collecting-millions-of-faces-from-web-images.html?_r=0

 

The National Security Agency is harvesting huge numbers of images of people from communications that it intercepts through its global surveillance operations for use in sophisticated facial recognition programs, according to top-secret documents.

The spy agency’s reliance on facial recognition technology has grown significantly over the last four years as the agency has turned to new software to exploit the flood of images included in emails, text messages, social media, videoconferences and other communications, the N.S.A. documents reveal. Agency officials believe that technological advances could revolutionize the way that the N.S.A. finds intelligence targets around the world, the documents show. The agency’s ambitions for this highly sensitive ability and the scale of its effort have not previously been disclosed.

The agency intercepts “millions of images per day” — including about 55,000 “facial recognition quality images” — which translate into “tremendous untapped potential,” according to 2011 documents obtained from the former agency contractor Edward J. Snowden. While once focused on written and oral communications, the N.S.A. now considers facial images, fingerprints and other identifiers just as important to its mission of tracking suspected terrorists and other intelligence targets, the documents show.

The implications of this are devious as well as mind numbing. They have yet to stop a single attack anywhere for any reason. Th continue Data mining for their own nefarious illegal plans.

The documents themselves can be found here.

http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2014/06/01/us/nsa-document.html?_r=0

 

Russia and Propaganda.

I have been interested in Propaganda for awhile and the various ways it is used both know and in our past. Propaganda has been around for hundreds of years now and has been almost perfected in WW2 and since the Cold War. The US and Russia are in a bitter propaganda war for the hearts and minds of the World concerning Ukraine.

Russia appears to be winning.

Rodionov says that, since its founding, Ruptly has attracted 14 subscribers and over 200 customers, including German broadcasters “both public and private.” Subsidies from Moscow enable Ruptly to offer professionally produced videos at prices cheaper than those of the private competition.

The battle over Ukraine is being fought with diverse means — with harsh words and soft diplomacy, with natural gas, weapons and intelligence services. But perhaps the most important instruments being deployed by Moscow are the Internet, newspapers and television, including allegedly neutral journalists and pundits dispatched around the world to propagate the Kremlin position.

“We’re in the middle of a relentless propaganda war,” says Andrew Weiss, vice president of studies at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, an influential Washington think tank. Weiss describes this propaganda as a crucial tool used by Russia to conduct its foreign policy.

Moscow is looking beyond the short-term, seeking to influence opinion in the long-run to create “an alternative discourse in Western countries as well,” says Margarita Simonyan, editor in chief of Kremlin foreign broadcaster RT, formerly known as Russia Today, which owns Ruptly.

The Kremlin invests around €100 million ($136 million) a year in Russian media abroad in order to influence public opinion in the West. This effort also helps explain why Putin addressed Germans directly in his speech on the annexation of Crimea. Noting the Kremlin had supported Germany’s reunification process, he called on Germans to back Russia’s reunification with Crimea. Putin’s popularity in Germany has declined steadily over the years, but his worldview remains quite popular.

A Triumphant Media Advance

Sources within the Kremlin express satisfaction these days when talking about Moscow’s information policies. “We may have won the war in Georgia in 2008, but we lost the propaganda battle against America and the West by a mile,” says one. “Thanks to RT and the Internet, though, we are now closing the gap.”

Whereas Ruptly is seeking to establish itself as an alternative to Reuters and the Associated Press in providing video footage, RT has already successfully established itself in the nine years since its creation, recently surpassing even CNN when it comes to clips viewed on YouTube. With close to 1.2 billion views, the BBC is the only media outlet ahead of RT. In Britain, RT has more viewers than the Europe-wide news station Euronews and in some major US cities, the channel is the most-viewed of all foreign broadcasters. RT’s 2,500 employees report and broadcast in Russian, English, Spanish and Arabic with German to be added soon.

The triumphant advance of Putin’s broadcaster began in a former factory in northeast Moscow. Founding RT editor Simonyan was just 25 at the time Putin appointed her in 2005. Her assignment from the Russian president: to “break the monopoly of the Anglo-Saxon mass media.”

It’s a mandate she has been pursuing successfully ever since. “There’s large demand for media that doesn’t just parrot the uniform pulp from the Western press,” says Simonyan. “Even in Western countries.” RT gives pro-Russian representatives from Eastern Ukraine far more air time than supporters of the government in Kiev, and not even Simonyan disputes this fact. “We’re something along the lines of Russia’s Information Defense Ministry,” her co-workers say, not without pride.

Ruptly and RT are only the most visible instruments being used by the Kremlin. Other propaganda methods being exploited can be less obvious.

For example, when German talk shows invite Russian journalists to speak about the Ukraine crisis, they are almost always pundits who could have been taken directly out of the Kremlin propaganda department. Programmers, of course, like to book these guests because they generate heated and provocative discussion. But it’s also a function of the fact that experts critical of the government either don’t want to talk or are kept from doing so. Take the example of Sergej Sumlenny, who served until January as the German correspondent for the Russian business magazineExpert. Early on, he appeared often on German talk shows, intelligently and pointedly criticizing Putin’s policies. He has since been driven out at the magazine.

In his stead, the Russian perspective is now represented on German talk shows by people like Anna Rose, who is generally introduced as a correspondent for Rossiyskaya Gazeta, or Russian Gazette. The name sounds innocuous enough, but eyebrows should be raised immediately when this “serious” Russian journalist begins claiming that the Ukrainian army could be shooting “at women and children” and that Russian soldiers need to provide them with protection. Her positions suddenly become more understandable with the knowledge that Rossiyskaya Gazeta is the Russian government’s official newspaper.

Manipulating Comments and Social Media

Those who read comments posted under articles about Ukraine on news websites will have noticed in recent months that they have been filled with missives that always seem to follow the same line of argumentation. Moscow’s independent business daily Vedomosti reported recently that, since the start of the Ukraine crisis, the presidential administration in Moscow has been testing how public opinion in the United States and Europe can be manipulated using the Internet and social networks. The paper reported that most of the professional comment posters active in Germany are Russian immigrants who submit their pro-Russian comments on Facebook and on news websites.

In addition, journalists and editors at German websites and publications report receiving letters and emails offering “explosive information about the Ukraine crisis” on an almost daily basis. The “sources” often mention they have evidence about the right-wing nature of the Kiev government that they would like to supply to journalists. The letters are written in German, but appear to include direct translations of Russian phrases. They would seem to have been written by mother-tongue Russian speakers.Other forms of propaganda have also been deployed in recent months. For example, there have been frequent incidences of intercepted conversations of Western diplomats or Kiev politicians getting published in ways that serve Russia’s interests. From the “Fuck the EU” statement by Victoria Nuland, the top US diplomat to Europe, right up to statements made by Estonia’s foreign minister that were apparently supposed to prove who was responsible for the deaths of protesters on Maidan Square. The Russian media also seemed to take pleasure in reporting in mid-April that CIA head John Brennan had traveled to Kiev.

There’s a high likelihood that this confidential information and the content of intercepted communications is being strewn by Russian intelligence. Officials at Western intelligence agencies assume that even communications encrypted by the Ukrainian army are being intercepted by the Russians.

 propa

http://www.spiegel.de/international/world/russia-uses-state-television-to-sway-opinion-at-home-and-abroad-a-971971.html

Has NSA bulk surveillance even stopped anything at all? Even a single attack? Or is it a plan to spy on everyone as I claim it is.

I knew Gen. Alexander was lying when he said that the NSA has stopped 50 attacks based on information picked up by their illegal bulk surveillance dragnet. The fact Alexander and Clapper are walking around after blatantly lying to Congress is totally an affront to anyone with any intelligence. If I lied to Congress… and they figured it out. I would be picked up and arrested that day.

 

On June 5, 2013, the Guardian broke the first story in what would become a flood of revelations regarding the extent and nature of the NSA’s surveillance programs.  Facing an uproar over the threat such programs posed to privacy, the Obama administration scrambled to defend them as legal and essential to U.S. national security and counterterrorism. Two weeks after the first leaks by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden were published, President Obama defended the NSA surveillance programs during a visit to Berlin, saying: “We know of at least 50 threats that have been averted because of this information not just in the United States, but, in some cases, threats here in Germany. So lives have been saved.”  Gen. Keith Alexander, the director of the NSA, testified before Congress that: “the information gathered from these programs provided the U.S. government with critical leads to help prevent over 50 potential terrorist events in more than 20 countries around the world.”  Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Mich.), chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, said on the House floor in July that “54 times [the NSA programs] stopped and thwarted terrorist attacks both here and in Europe – saving real lives.”

However, our review of the government’s claims about the role that NSA “bulk” surveillance of phone and email communications records has had in keeping the United States safe from terrorism shows that these claims are overblown and even misleading.  An in-depth analysis of 225 individuals recruited by al-Qaeda or a like-minded group or inspired by al-Qaeda’s ideology, and charged in the United States with an act of terrorism since 9/11, demonstrates that traditional investigative methods, such as the use of informants, tips from local communities, and targeted intelligence operations, provided the initial impetus for investigations in the majority of cases, while the contribution of NSA’s bulk surveillance programs to these cases was minimal. Indeed, the controversial bulk collection of American telephone metadata, which includes the telephone numbers that originate and receive calls, as well as the time and date of those calls but not their content, under Section 215 of the USA PATRIOT Act, appears to have played an identifiable role in initiating, at most, 1.8 percent of these cases. NSA programs involving the surveillance of non-U.S. persons outside of the United States under Section 702 of the FISA Amendments Act played a role in 4.4 percent of the terrorism cases we examined, and NSA surveillance under an unidentified authority played a role in 1.3 percent of the cases we examined.
Regular FISA warrants not issued in connection with Section 215 or Section 702, which are the traditional means for investigating foreign persons, were used in at least 48 (21 percent) of the cases we looked at, although it’s unclear whether these warrants played an initiating role or were used at a later point in the investigation. (Click on the link to go to a database of all 225 individuals, complete with additional details about them and the government’s investigations of these cases
Sickening.. Pathetic. Welcome to the Machine.
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What did Pakistan Know about Bin Laden and when.

I have wondered this exact question since the alleged killing of Bin Laden. I say alleged because as a lay citizen there has not exactly been what you would call proof ever presented. They have made the photos off limits… They have never released the DNA for independent testing. They buried him at sea seeming the day after he was apparently or allegedly shot.

Pakistan had to know that Bin Laden was there. It is a uncomfortable truth since it raises many troubling questions about our Money flowing there and they are playing both sides almost without question. How do you live very close to the Capital of Pakistan and a town that houses the largest military academy in the Country and not know he lives miles if not yards away.

From the New York Times article this weekend.

What Pakistan knew about Bin Laden

After our first day of reporting in Quetta, we noticed that an intelligence agent on a motorbike was following us, and everyone we interviewed was visited afterward by ISI agents. We visited a neighborhood called Pashtunabad, “town of the Pashtuns,” a close-knit community of narrow alleys inhabited largely by Afghan refugees who over the years spread up the hillside, building one-story houses from mud and straw. The people are working class: laborers, bus drivers and shopkeepers. The neighborhood is also home to several members of the Taliban, who live in larger houses behind high walls, often next to the mosques and madrasas they run.

The small, untidy entrance on the street to one of those madrasas, the Jamiya Islamiya, conceals the size of the establishment. Inside, a brick-and-concrete building three stories high surrounds a courtyard, and classrooms can accommodate 280 students. At least three of the suicide bombers we were tracing had been students here, and there were reports of more. Senior figures from Pakistani religious parties and provincial-government officials were frequent visitors, and Taliban members would often visit under the cover of darkness in fleets of S.U.V.s.

One of many madrasas in Quetta in 2008.
ALEX MAJOLI / MAGNUM
We requested an interview and were told that a female journalist would not be permitted inside, so I passed some questions to the Pakistani reporter with me, and he and the photographer went in. The deputy head of the madrasa denied that there was any militant training there or any forced recruitment for jihad. “We are educating the students in the Quran, and in the Quran it is written that it is every Muslim’s obligation to wage jihad,” he said. “All we are telling them is what is in the Quran. Then it is up to them to go to jihad.” He ended the conversation. Classes were breaking up, and I could hear a clamor rising as students burst out of their classrooms. Boys poured out of the gates onto the street. They looked spindly, in flapping clothes and prayer caps, as they darted off on their bikes and on foot, chasing one another down the street.

The reporter and the photographer joined me outside. They told me that words of praise were painted across the wall of the inner courtyard for the madrasa’s political patron, a Pakistani religious-party leader, and the Taliban leader Mullah Muhammad Omar. This madrasa, like so many in Pakistan, was a source of the Taliban resurgence that President Hamid Karzai and other Afghan leaders had long been warning about. In this nondescript madrasa in a poor neighborhood of Quetta, one of hundreds throughout the border region, the Taliban and Pakistan’s religious parties were working together to raise an army of militants.

“The madrasas are a cover, a camouflage,” a Pashtun legislator from the area told me. Behind the curtain, hidden in the shadows, lurked the ISI.

The Pakistani government, under President Pervez Musharraf and his intelligence chief, Lt. Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, was maintaining and protecting the Taliban, both to control the many groups of militants now lodged in the country and to use them as a proxy force to gain leverage over and eventually dominate Afghanistan. The dynamic has played out in ways that can be hard to grasp from the outside, but the strategy that has evolved in Pakistan has been to make a show of cooperation with the American fight against terrorism while covertly abetting and even coordinating Taliban, Kashmiri and foreign Qaeda-linked militants. The linchpin in this two-pronged and at times apparently oppositional strategy is the ISI. It’s through that agency that Pakistan’s true relationship to militant extremism can be discerned — a fact that the United States was slow to appreciate, and later refused to face directly, for fear of setting off a greater confrontation with a powerful Muslim nation.

Clearly Pakistan was endorsing and encouraging the Taliban in an attempt apparently to control Afghanistan.

Islamabad is a green, tranquil home for civil servants and diplomats, but for several days it resounded with gunfire and explosions. Crowds of worried parents arrived from all over the country to try to retrieve their children. The Red Mosque leaders tried to make the students stay. “They said if the women and others die, the people will take their side,” one father told me, and I realized then how premeditated this all was, how the girls were pawns in their plan to spark a revolution.

A week after the siege began, there was a ferocious battle. Elite Pakistani commandos rappelled from helicopters into the mosque and were raked with machine-gun fire. Perched in the mosque’s minarets and throughout its 75 rooms, the militants fought for 10 hours. They hurled grenades from bunkers and basements, and suicide bombers threw themselves at their attackers. The commandos found female students hiding in a bricked-up space beneath the stairs and led 50 women and girls to safety. Ghazi retreated to a basement in the compound. He died there as the last surviving fighters battled around him.

More than 100 people were killed in the siege, including 10 commandos. The ISI — despite having a long relationship with the mosque and its leaders, as well as two informers inside providing intelligence — played a strangely ineffective role. In a cabinet meeting after the siege, ministers questioned a senior ISI official about the intelligence service’s failure to prevent the militant action. “Who I meet in the evening and what I discuss is on your desk the next morning,” one minister told the official. “How come you did not know what was happening a hundred meters from the ISI headquarters?” The official sat in silence as ministers thumped their desks in a gesture of agreement.

“One hundred percent they knew what was happening,” a former cabinet minister who attended the meeting told me. The ISI allowed the militants to do what they wanted out of sympathy, he said. “The state is not as incompetent as people believe.”

Finally Bin Laden

It took more than three years before the depth of Pakistan’s relationship with Al Qaeda was thrust into the open and the world learned where Bin Laden had been hiding, just a few hundred yards from Pakistan’s top military academy. In May 2011, I drove with a Pakistani colleague down a road in Abbottabad until we were stopped by the Pakistani military. We left our car and walked down a side street, past several walled houses and then along a dirt path until there it was: Osama bin Laden’s house, a three-story concrete building, mostly concealed behind concrete walls as high as 18 feet, topped with rusting strands of barbed wire. This was where Bin Laden hid for nearly six years, and where, 30 hours earlier, Navy SEAL commandos shot him dead in a top-floor bedroom.

After a decade of reporting in Afghanistan and Pakistan and tracking Bin Laden, I was fascinated to see where and how he hid. He had dispensed with the large entourage that surrounded him in Afghanistan. For nearly eight years, he relied on just two trusted Pakistanis, whom American investigators described as a courier and his brother.

People knew that the house was strange, and one local rumor had it that it was a place where wounded Taliban from Waziristan recuperated. I was told this by Musharraf’s former civilian intelligence chief, who had himself been accused of having a hand in hiding Bin Laden in Abbottabad. He denied any involvement, but he did not absolve local intelligence agents, who would have checked the house. All over the country, Pakistan’s various intelligence agencies — the ISI, the Intelligence Bureau and Military Intelligence — keep safe houses for undercover operations. They use residential houses, often in quiet, secure neighborhoods, where they lodge people for interrogation or simply enforced seclusion. Detainees have been questioned by American interrogators in such places and sometimes held for months. Leaders of banned militant groups are often placed in protective custody in this way. Others, including Taliban leaders who took refuge in Pakistan after their fall in Afghanistan in 2001, lived under a looser arrangement, with their own guards but also known to their Pakistani handlers, former Pakistani officials told me. Because of Pakistan’s long practice of covertly supporting militant groups, police officers — who have been warned off or even demoted for getting in the way of ISI operations — have learned to leave such safe houses alone.

The split over how to handle militants is not just between the ISI and the local police; the intelligence service itself is compartmentalized. In 2007, a former senior intelligence official who worked on tracking members of Al Qaeda after Sept. 11 told me that while one part of the ISI was engaged in hunting down militants, another part continued to work with them.

Soon after the Navy SEAL raid on Bin Laden’s house, a Pakistani official told me that the United States had direct evidence that the ISI chief, Lt. Gen. Ahmed Shuja Pasha, knew of Bin Laden’s presence in Abbottabad. The information came from a senior United States official, and I guessed that the Americans had intercepted a phone call of Pasha’s or one about him in the days after the raid. “He knew of Osama’s whereabouts, yes,” the Pakistani official told me. The official was surprised to learn this and said the Americans were even more so. Pasha had been an energetic opponent of the Taliban and an open and cooperative counterpart for the Americans at the ISI. “Pasha was always their blue-eyed boy,” the official said. But in the weeks and months after the raid, Pasha and the ISI press office strenuously denied that they had any knowledge of Bin Laden’s presence in Abbottabad.

Fantastic article… If you want to understand the dynamics in place and how things went down you have to read this.

New York Times. What Pakistan knew about Bin Laden

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CIA torture program. A long lasting black eye for the US.

The Torture program authorized by Pres. Bush and Dick Cheney in my estimation undermined world opinion about the US and frankly made the world a more dangerous place to live. I would argue this is one of the worst things the US was ever involved in. Some of the details are stomach turning.

How anyone with half a brain thought was a good idea is mystifying to me. Did they not think the torture program would eventually become public knowledge? Did they not think this had the potential to blow up in their faces? Frankly I am ashamed my Country was a part of this.

The old Washington adage that the cover-up is worse than the crime may not apply when it comes to the revelations this week that the Central Intelligence Agency interfered with a Senate torture investigation. It’s not that the cover-up isn’t serious. It is extremely serious—as Senator Dianne Feinstein said, the CIA may have violated the separation of powers, the Fourth Amendment, and a prohibition on spying inside the United States. It’s just that in this case, the underlying crimes are still worse: the dispute arises because the Senate Intelligence Committee, which Feinstein chairs, has written an as-yet-secret 6,300 page report on the CIA’s use of torture and disappearance—among the gravest crimes the world recognizes—against al-Qaeda suspects in the “war on terror.”

By Senator Feinstein’s account, the CIA has directly and repeatedly interfered with the committee’s investigation: it conducted covert unauthorized searches of the computers assigned to the Senate committee for its review of CIA files, and it secretly removed potentially incriminating documents from the computers the committee was using. That’s the stuff that often leads to resignations, independent counsels, and criminal charges; indeed, the CIA’s own Inspector General has referred the CIA’s conduct to the Justice Department for a potential criminal investigation.

But the crime that we must never lose sight of is the conduct that led to the investigation in the first place. To recall: in 2002, shortly after the 9/11 attacks, the Bush administration authorized the CIA to establish a series of secret prisons, or “black sites,” into which it disappeared “high-value” al-Qaeda suspects, often for years at a time, without any public acknowledgment, without charges, and cut off from any access to the outside world. The CIA was further authorized to use a range of coercive tactics—borrowed from those used by the Chinese to torture American soldiers during the Korean War—to try to break the suspects’ will. These included depriving suspects of sleep for up to ten days, slamming them against walls, forcing them into painful stress positions, and waterboarding them.

The program was approved by President Bush himself, as well as Vice-President Dick Cheney, National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, Secretary of State Colin Powell, Attorney General John Ashcroft, and CIA Director George Tenet. John Yoo and Jay Bybee, Justice Department lawyers, wrote memos to whitewash the program. These acts were war crimes under the laws of war and grave human rights abuses. Yet no one has yet been held accountable for any of them. And the Senate Intelligence Committee investigation is until now the only comprehensive effort to review the extensive classified CIA records about the program.

NYTimes article discussing

It was outrageous enough when two successive presidents papered over the Central Intelligence Agency’s history of illegal detention, rendition, torture and fruitless harsh interrogation of terrorism suspects. Now the leader of the Senate intelligence committee, Dianne Feinstein, has provided stark and convincing evidence that the C.I.A. may have committed crimes to prevent the exposure of interrogations that she said were “far different and far more harsh” than anything the agency had described to Congress.

Ms. Feinstein delivered an extraordinary speech on the Senate floor on Tuesday in which she said the C.I.A. improperly searched the computers used by committee staff members who were investigating the interrogation program as recently as January.

Beyond the power of her office and long experience, Ms. Feinstein’s accusations carry an additional weight and credibility because she has been a reliable supporter of the intelligence agencies and their expanded powers since the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001 (sometimes too reliable).

On Tuesday, the C.I.A. director, John Brennan, denied hacking into the committee’s computers. But Ms. Feinstein said that in January, Mr. Brennan acknowledged that the agency had conducted a “search” of the computers. She said the C.I.A.’s inspector general had referred the matter to the Justice Department for possible criminal prosecution. “Besides the constitutional implications,” of separation of powers, she said, “the C.I.A.’s search may also have violated the Fourth Amendment, the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, as well as Executive Order 12333, which prohibits the C.I.A. from conducting domestic searches or surveillance.”

Ms. Feinstein’s speech detailed the lengths to which the C.I.A. had gone to hinder the committee’s investigation, which it began in 2009 after senators learned the agency had destroyed videotapes of the interrogations under President George W. Bush. Under President Obama, prosecutors exonerated the officials who ordered those tapes destroyed.

Ms. Feinstein said that when Senate staff members reviewed thousands of documents describing those interrogations in 2009, they found that the C.I.A.’s leadership seriously misled the committee when it described the interrogations program to the panel in 2006, “only hours before President Bush disclosed the program to the public.”

N Y Times article on the coverup

In the vestibule of Room 211 of the Hart Senate Office Building, just to the north of the Capitol, a cop guards an inner door that requires a numerical code to open it. The room, where the staff of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence sits, is called a “skiff,” for “sensitive compartmented information facility.” Last week, Senator Dianne Feinstein, the committee’s chair, described secret documents that are now apparently stored in the office. She did so publicly, during a remarkable jeremiad on the Senate floor, which was part “Homeland” treatment, part grand-jury instruction. She recounted several years of maneuvering between the committee staff and the C.I.A., before announcing “grave concerns” that agency officers had broken the law and violated the Constitution during a struggle over the documents.

Feinstein called them the Panetta Review, in reference to the former C.I.A. director Leon Panetta, who left the agency in 2011. The documents were prepared by C.I.A. officers, and although their contents are secret, their subject matter is clear and vitally important: the true history of the brutal interrogation of about a hundred Al Qaeda leaders and suspects at offshore C.I.A. “black sites” between roughly 2002 and 2006, on orders of the Bush Administration. The interrogations included the use of “enhanced interrogation techniques,” such as waterboarding, which constituted torture in the judgment of the Red Cross and many other authorities. Feinstein suggested that the Panetta Review may illuminate still disputed issues; namely, whether the program produced significant intelligence, whether the C.I.A. lied to Congress about it, and how cruel and degrading the black sites really were.

Barack Obama ended the program on his second day in office, in 2009, denouncing it as torture. Yet he also signalled that he would not hold the C.I.A. or its career officers accountable for the past. Moreover, he decided to advance the C.I.A.’s role in counterterrorism, which complicated the options for examining the interrogation program. The C.I.A.’s Counterterrorism Center ran the sites. It also managed the agency’s drone program and the hunt for Osama bin Laden. Obama called its officers into action, ordering drone strikes in Pakistan and encouraging the agency to finally find bin Laden, which it did, in 2011. For the President to have investigated some of the same personnel for past complicity in torture would have been awkward.

Feinstein has endorsed Obama’s muscular counterterrorism policy, at some cost to her reputation among civil libertarians. Lately, she has also been criticized for defending the legality of the National Security Agency surveillance exposed by Edward Snowden. Her critics may detect a reputation-reviving opportunism in her recent dudgeon toward the C.I.A. But it was under Feinstein, after 2009, that the Select Committee took on an ambitious investigation into the defunct black sites. Senate investigators worked in a skiff near C.I.A. headquarters, in Virginia. Under a protocol that Feinstein described last week, the agency provided a segregated computer network and loaded in some six million pages of classified documents. Several times, by Feinstein’s account, C.I.A. officers secretly withdrew documents from the Senate staff’s collection. When they were caught, she said, they claimed, falsely, that the White House had ordered their action. The agency later apologized.

One of the questions that the committee explored was whether torture worked—that is, whether it produced exclusive intelligence that saved innocent lives. Even if it did, it would be wrong as policy, because it is immoral; but during the investigation former C.I.A. leaders said that the interrogations had proved very valuable and would withstand history’s judgment. Many Americans still think that such claims might be true, but they have no way to evaluate them, since the facts on which they are purportedly based remain highly classified.

The New Yorker article

Steve Coll is a fantastic writer about US policy mainly in the Middle East. His book Ghost Wars was fascinating.

Ruth Marcus – Watching Dinne Feinstein tear into the Central Intelligence Agency on the Senate floor the other day brought to mind a 1970s-era television commercial about a margarine supposedly indistinguishable from butter.
“Chiffon’s so delicious, it fooled even you, Mother Nature,” says the narrator.
“Oh, it’s not nice to fool Mother Nature,” she replies, her voice becoming steely as she raises her arms to summon thunder and lightning.
Seriously, CIA? How many friends do you have left on Capitol Hill? It’s not nice to mess with Sen. Feinstein (who, incidentally, bears an unnerving resemblance to the ad lady). Even more important, it’s really dumb. In the hostile, post-Edward Snowden world, the California Democrat and chair of the Senate intelligence committee has been one of the staunchest defenders of US spy agencies.
But dumb seems to be the oxymoronic watchword of the intelligence community these days. Its components have been behaving like their own worst enemy. They operate under the compulsion of two understandable, ingrained instincts that combine to do the agencies — and, ultimately, the country — a disservice.
The first instinct is the drive to collect as much information as possible, by whatever means permissible. Of course. Their job is to gather intelligence, not leave it on the table. The painful lesson of 9/11 ensues from failing to know information, share it with colleagues and do something about it.
But a countervailing imperative counsels against exercising power to the maximum extent possible — or beyond. The intelligence community finds itself in such an embattled state today because of the sordid legacy of its “enhanced interrogation” program, which has provoked the CIA’s mud fight with Feinstein, and the contours of the National Security Agency’s massive surveillance activities. In both cases, the agencies stumbled in part because they overstepped.
Not just legal bounds, although, especially in the case of torture, those too. But also limits of prudence, dictated by what society will tolerate, either in terms of cruelty (waterboarding) or intrusiveness (vacuuming up metadata, eavesdropping on foreign leaders). Just because you can doesn’t mean you should — even if your political bosses are pushing you.
Layer on the other ingrained instinct: to prioritize secrecy at all costs. Here, the intelligence community purports to have learned from its mistakes: Director of National Intelligence James Clapper told the Daily Beast that the intelligence community would have been better off disclosing the surveillance program itself.
“Had we been transparent about this from the outset [and explained] why we have to do it, and here are the safeguards .?.?. we wouldn’t have had the problem we had,” Clapper said.
Good, if hard to take from the man who chose the “least untruthful” answer about telephone metadata collection. But, again, the intelligence community has had difficulty practicing what Clapper preached.
Feinstein’s furious floor statement depicts a CIA that, from the outset of the Senate intelligence committee inquiry into interrogation practices, has treated it more like opposing counsel in a fight-to-the-death litigation battle than a co-equal branch of government with a legitimate oversight role.
The CIA dumped documents, then mysteriously made them disappear from Senate computers. Then the agency made the dunderheaded move of investigating the committee’s computer system to determine how it acquired certain documents — sensitive not because they threatened to expose sources and methods but because they belied the CIA’s public statements.
The coup de grace was sending a “crimes report” to the Justice Department about the Senate staff’s activities in obtaining classified information. On the Lawfare blog, Jack Goldsmith noted the low trigger — “possible violations” — for referral to Justice.

Is the CIA it’s own worst enemy

Battery is about to die on my cell phone. This whole torture program is just disgusting and the way the CIA has operated without impunity is very scary. They have given the middle finger to anyone or law which seeks to have them operate humanely.

Amazon central to Drone Strikes on Americans. Sniper time. Secret Space plane. Cryptography and it’s value.

I am off this afternoon and usually do not blog this much. I really started the blog to talk about Backgammon and the Indianapolis Colts. I never thought anyone would ever read it… I instead starting writing about things that interest me. Drones, History, Foreign Policy, NSA, Cryptography, CIA etc…

I was totally alarmed by two things I read today.

Amazons role in targeted killings of Americans.

I personally am against the use of Drones as weapons vs anyone for any reason. If you target Americans… You are not allowing them you are taking away a persons Constitutional guarantee of due process of the law.

“”””””Amazon is now integral to the U.S. government’s foreign policy of threatening and killing.

Any presidential decision to take the life of an American citizen is a subset of a much larger grave problem. Whatever the nationality of those who hear the menacing buzz of a drone overhead, the hijacking of skies to threaten and kill those below is unconscionable. And, as presently implemented, unconstitutional.

On Feb. 11 the Times reported that the Obama administration “is debating whether to authorize a lethal strike against an American citizen living in Pakistan who some believe is actively plotting terrorist attacks.” In effect, at issue is whether the president should order a summary execution — an assassination — on his say-so.

The American way isn’t supposed to be that way. The “due process of law” required by the Fifth Amendment of the United States Constitution is not supposed to be whatever the president decides to do.”””””””

http://m.huffpost.com/us/entry/4775840

DHS to buy 141,000 Sniper Bullets… Bringing the amount of ammunition purchased in last several years at over 2 billion

This is just staggering and scary.

“””””””””The Department of Homeland Security is buying more bullets with a solicitation for over 141,00 rounds of sniper ammunition.

According to a solicitation posted on FedBizOpps, the federal agency is looking to procure 141,160 rounds of Hornady .308 Winchester 168gr A-MAX TAP ammunition.

Such ammunition is sometimes retailed as “Zombie Max,” a marketing gimmick alluding to its power.

“What makes the .308 ammunition so deadly is the long range capability of the round,” notes James Smith. “The ability is called ballistic coefficient, or the efficiency of a projectile in overcoming air resistance as it travels to its target. According to Speer Reloading Manual Number 13, the .308 165 grain has the highest coefficient of any hunting rifle.”

The latest purchase further illustrates the fallacy of the DHS’ excuse that it is buying bullets in bulk in order to save money.

The federal agency will pay around $1.20 for each round, when a lower grain round could be acquired for around a quarter of the price.

The DHS has faced questions over the last couple of years as to the purpose of its mass ammo purchases which have totaled over 2 billion bullets, with some fearing the federal agency is gearing up for civil unrest.””””””””

http://nation.foxnews.com/2014/02/11/homeland-security-purchase-141000-rounds-sniper-ammo

Secret Space plane in orbit for 400 days

Interesting science wise.. Terrifying it is another example of incredible technology being used for horrific purposes most likely.

“””””””The U.S. Air Force’s unmanned X-37B space plane has now circled Earth for more than 400 days on a hush-hush mission that is creeping closer and closer to the vehicle’s orbital longevity record.
The X-37B spacecraft launched on Dec. 11, 2012, meaning that it has been aloft for 413 days as of Tuesday (Jan. 28) on the third mission for the program, which is known as OTV-3 (short for Orbital Test Vehicle-3). The endurance record is 469 days, set during OTV-2, which blasted off in 2011.
OTV-2 and OTV-3 have utilized different X-37B vehicle (the Air Force currently has two vehicles). The space plane currently zipping around Earth also flew the program’s inaugural OTV-1 mission, which stayed in space for 225 days after launching in 2010. [See photos from the X-37B space plane’s OTV-3 mission] “””””””””

http://m.space.com/24459-x37b-space-plane-mission-400-days.html

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Cryptography. Why is it so vital an interest to me and especially the NSA

“”””””””Most discussion of the Snowden revelations has looked at stories that have straightforward political implications, such as the tapping of German Chancellor Merkel’s phone. However, governments have spied on each other for hundreds of years. It’s harder to understand why Snowden’s release of documents which seem to show that the NSA has compromised cryptographic standards is important.

Governments want to be able to communicate without their adversaries abroad being able to listen to what they say. They also want to be able to listen in on their adversaries. Cryptography, the science of making codes and encoding information, and cryptanalysis, the science of breaking codes and decoding information, have important implications for national security. The U.S., like many other countries, used to treat codes as potential weapons, and controlled their export to foreign countries until the 1990s. The NSA played a key role in trying to break other countries’ codes, but it also had responsibility for protecting U.S. communications from external attackers.

For a long time, the U.S. national security establishment was able to keep a lid on cryptography. On the one hand, most serious users of cryptography in the U.S. were either part of the government or large firms (which could be influenced by the government). On the other, the U.S. imposed export restrictions on cryptographic technologies, to try to prevent them getting to countries with hostile interests. The NSA could both secure U.S. systems against foreign cryptanalysis and try to break other countries’ (and non-state actors’) codes without any very obvious conflict between its two roles.

From the 1980s on, it became harder and more complicated for the NSA to balance cracking foreigners’ cryptography while protecting and developing U.S. cryptography. The NSA began to lose control of cryptography as more private companies started to use it for their own purposes, and to push for stronger codes. These codes were tougher for the NSA to crack, and more likely (because they were in the private sector) to escape to foreign jurisdictions. As Whitfield Diffie and Susan Landau’s history of cryptography policy, Privacy on the Line describes it, the NSA tried to extend its authority to cover U.S. private industry as well as the public sector. This would allow it to influence the standards used by the private sector. However, the U.S. Congress was suspicious of the NSA, and put a different body, the National Institute for Standards and Technology (NIST), in charge of private sector cryptography standards. As a top-secret memo made clear, the NSA was very unhappy with this decision, even though it still had substantial informal influence over the code making process. The NIST was poorly funded, and had little technical expertise, so that it had to consult with NSA over standards. Since the NSA had resources and technical expertise, the NSA was better able to shape NIST standards much more than Congress had ever envisaged .

These tensions broke out into the so-called “Crypto Wars” in the 1990s, when Phil Zimmerman, an activist and software developer, created a program called PGP or Pretty Good Privacy, which gave ordinary computer users access to new and powerful cryptographic techniques. U.S. authorities investigated Zimmerman for breach of export controls law, but had to give up when privacy activists pulled a series of clever stunts that made the law effectively unenforceable. At more or less the same time, the U.S. was dealing with a surging demand for strong cryptography, which it tried to resolve in law-enforcement friendly ways, through creating standards which would allow the government some access (through a scheme called “key escrow”) to encrypted communications. These efforts too failed, leading to the effective abandonment of U.S. efforts to limit private access to strong cryptography. It appeared that the national security state had lost out to an alliance of civil liberties activists (who wanted strong cryptography for individuals) and businesses (which wanted to get rid of export control rules that they saw as hampering U.S. competitiveness).

The old traditional cryptography regime, which had been dominated by national security, gave way to a new regime, based around electronic commerce, and the use of cryptography to protect communications, personal information and so on. People use sophisticated cryptography every day on the Internet, without ever realizing it, every time they click on a https:// Web address. They trust encryption to protect their bank account details, personal information and pretty much every other form of sensitive information on the Internet. Without widespread strong encryption, the Internet would be a much scarier place, where people would be far less likely to use their credit cards to buy things or reveal (knowingly or unknowingly) sensitive data.”””””””””

http://washingtonpost.com/blogs/monkey-cage/wp/2014/02/12/the-political-science-of-cybersecurity-ii-why-cryptography-is-so-important/

Poland.. the Black site prisons and you. Encryption.

The last 20 year of US foreign policy has been a sad state of affairs. The rendition program and enhanced interrogation program (I will refer to it by what it actually was Torture from now on) was extremely disturbing to me personally as well as most of the rest of the World. How the leaders of the Country could believe that something like this would benefit the US is so misguided as to be delusional. We kidnapped people in the dead of night and airlifted them to Egypt, Indonesia, Thailand or Poland. We then proceeded to torture them in the hopes we could prevent another attack. How the US could consider itself at the forefront of Human Rights and at the same time chastise anyone we felt like for not being on our level in hindsight is flat out pathetic.

On a cold day in early 2003, two senior CIA officers arrived at the U.S. Embassy in Warsaw to pick up a pair of large cardboard boxes. Inside were bundles of cash totaling $15 million that had been flown from Germany via diplomatic pouch.The men put the boxes in a van and weaved through the Polish capital until coming to the headquarters of Polish intelligence. They were met by Col. ­Andrzej Derlatka, deputy chief of the intelligence service, and two of his associates.

 

 

 

 The Americans and Poles then sealed an agreement that over the previous weeks had allowed the CIA the use of a secret prison — a remote villa in the Polish lake district — to interrogate al-Qaeda suspects. The Polish intelligence service received the money, and the CIA had a solid location for its newest covert operation, according to former agency officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the interrogation program, including previously unreported details about the creation of the CIA’s “black sites,” or secret prisons.

The CIA prison in Poland was arguably the most important of all the black sites created by the agency after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. It was the first of a trio in Europe that housed the initial wave of accused Sept. 11 conspirators, and it was where Khalid Sheik Mohammed, the self-declared mastermind of the attacks, was waterboarded 183 times after his capture.Much about the creation and operation of the CIA’s prison at a base in one of the young democracies of Central Europe remains cloaked in mystery, matters that the U.S. government has classified as state secrets. But what happened in Poland more than a decade ago continues to reverberate, and the bitter debate about the CIA’s interrogation program is about to be revisited.The Senate Intelligence Committee intends to release portions of an exhaustive 6,000-page report on the interrogation program, its value in eliciting critical intelligence and whether Congress was misled about aspects of the program.

The treatment of detainees also continues to be a legal issue in the military trials of Mohammed and others at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba.

And in December, the European Court of Human Rights heard arguments that Poland violated international law and participated in torture by accommodating its American ally; a decision is expected this year.

“In the face of Polish and United States efforts to draw a veil over these abuses, the European Court of Human Rights now has an opportunity to break this conspiracy of silence and uphold the rule of law,” said Amrit Singh, a lawyer with the Open Society Justice Initiative, which petitioned the court on behalf of a detainee who was held at the Polish site.

Wanted: A better location

The story of a Polish villa that became the site of one of the most infamous prisons in U.S. history began in the Pakistani city of Faisalabad with the capture of Zayn al-Abidin Muhammed Hussein, better known as Abu Zubaida, in March 2002. The CIA needed a place to stash its first “high-value” detainee, a man who was thought to be closely tied to the al-Qaeda leadership and might know of follow-on plots.

Cambodia and Thailand offered to help the CIA. Cambodia turned out to be the less desirable of the two. Agency officers told superiors that a proposed site was infested with snakes. So the agency flew Abu Zubaida to Thailand, housing him at a remote location at least an hour’s drive from Bangkok.

The CIA declined to comment, as did Polish authorities through their country’s embassy in Washington. Derlatka, the Polish intelligence officer, did not return messages seeking comment.

Several months after the detention of Abu Zubaida, the CIA caught Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, suspected of ties to an al-Qaeda attack on a U.S. warship in Yemen. He, too, was taken to the Thai site.

With the prospect of holding more and more captives, the CIA required a better location. “It was just a chicken coop we remodeled,” a former senior agency official said of the facility in Thailand.

The CIA reached out to foreign intelligence services. The agency’s station chief in Warsaw reported back with good news. The Polish intelligence service, known as Agencja Wywiadu, had a training base with a villa that the CIA could use in Stare Kiejkuty, a three-hour drive north of Warsaw.

Polish officials asked whether the CIA could make some improvements to the facility. The CIA obliged, paying nearly $300,000 to outfit it with security cameras.

The accommodations were not spacious. The two-story villa could hold up to a handful of detainees. A large shed behind the house also was converted into a cell.

“It was pretty spartan,” the agency official recalled.

There was also a room where detainees, if they cooperated, could ride a stationary bike or use a treadmill.

On Dec. 5, 2002, Nashiri and Abu Zubaida were flown to Poland and taken to the site, which was code-named “Quartz.”

Five days later, an e-mail went out to agency employees that the interrogation program was up and running, and under the supervision of the Special Missions Department of the Counterterrorism Center (CTC).

Officials then began shutting down the prison in Thailand, eliminating all traces of the CIA presence.

Harsh interrogations

Agency executives tapped Mike Sealy, a senior intelligence officer, to run the Polish black site, according to former CIA officials. He was called a “program manager” and was briefed on an escalating series of “enhanced interrogation techniques” that were formulated at the CIA and approved by Justice Department lawyers. These included slapping, sleep deprivation and waterboarding, a technique that involved pouring water over the shrouded face of the detainee and creating the sensation of drowning.

“I do believe that it is torture,” President Obama said of waterboarding in 2009.

In Poland, Sealy oversaw about half a dozen or so special protective officers whom the CIA had sent to provide security. The number of analysts and officers varied. Polish officials could visit a common area where lunch was served, but they didn’t have access to the detainees.

There would soon be problems in the implementation of the interrogation protocols.

Agency officers clashed over the importance of Nashiri’s alleged role in the bombing of the USS Cole in Yemen in 2000; the attack killed 17 U.S. sailors.

“He was an idiot,” said the former CIA official, who supported the program. “He couldn’t read or comprehend a comic book.”

Other CTC officials thought Nashiri was a key al-Qaeda figure and was withholding information. After a tense meeting in December 2002, top CIA officials decided that they needed to get tougher with him, two former U.S. intelligence officials recounted.

A decision was made to dispatch a CIA linguist who had once worked for the FBI in New York. Albert El Gamil was of Egyptian descent and spoke Arabic fluently, but he was not a trained interrogator.

Gamil flew to Poland, where he subjected Nashiri to a mock execution and put a drill to the head of the blindfolded man, according to several former CIA officials. The CIA inspector general also reported on those events.

Top CIA officials learned about the incidents in January 2003 after a security guard at the facility sounded the alarm. Sealy and Gamil were pulled out of Poland and dismissed from the program, according to several former agency officials. They left the CIA a little later.

Both Sealy and Gamil declined to comment.””””

http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/the-hidden-history-of-the-cias-prison-in-poland/2014/01/23/b77f6ea2-7c6f-11e3-95c6-0a7aa80874bc_story.html

It pains me that we thought this was a good idea. You cannot learn from History if you do not know it.

Other Black Site prisons in Warsaw Pact countries…

Sheer coincidence I ran across this article after updating my blog. I guess what pains me and I did not write eloquently enough above about it… Where was the outrage about what the US was doing inside this Country? We have had 50 hearings about Benghazi where 4 people died. At the same time we have had less than 5 about breaking international law in any number of ways by torture…mistreatment of prisoners and just flat out war crimes of vast and varied nature. Honestly I just do not get it. At some point we need to come to terms with our History and what we did. Stop turning the blind eye and pretending it did not happen.

 

That the Central Intelligence Agency had a so-called “black site” in Romania was well known. It was known that it was in one of those secret prisons that intelligence officials conducted harsh interrogations with major Al-Qaida operatives, including Sept. 11 mastermind Khalid Sheik Mohammad.

Today, the result of a joint investigation with German public television, the AP reports it has found the site where Mohammad was held and interrogated. And it’s not where you would think it is. The AP reports on the prison in Bucharest known as “Bright Light”:

Unlike the CIA’s facility in Lithuania’s countryside or the one hidden in a Polish military installation, the CIA’s prison in Romania was not in a remote location. It was hidden in plain sight, a couple blocks off a major boulevard on a street lined with trees and homes, along busy train tracks.

The building is used as the National Registry Office for Classified Information, which is also known as ORNISS. Classified information from NATO and the European Union is stored there. Former intelligence officials both described the location of the prison and identified pictures of the building.

In an interview at the building in November, senior ORNISS official Adrian Camarasan said the basement is one of the most secure rooms in all of Romania. But he said Americans never ran a prison there.

“No, no. Impossible, impossible,” he said in an ARD interview for its “Panorama” news broadcast, as a security official monitored the interview.

But the AP says that’s indeed the site based on its talks with unnamed former U.S. government and intelligence officials. The wire service also moved ths picture of the black site:

507656838_9776011_custom-9a23faee62e8e46a7178999a2f755efce935551c-s40-c85

Almost all these photo’s I took personally… There are a few of me as well. Hope you like them. 

 

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Encryption…When Obama announced reforms for the NSA he never mentioned the fact that they had sabotaged the worldwide encryption standards that were supposed to keep us all safe.

When President Barack Obama announced future changes to the government’s surveillance programs on Jan. 17, he mentioned nothing about the National Security Agency’s efforts to undermine worldwide encryption standards.

While the president focused most of his efforts on curbing the NSA’s bulk records collections on phone call metadata, a group of more than 50 leading cryptographers believes the NSA’s intentional weakening of Internet security standards is equally important and should be done away with, too.

The cryptographers, including several former federal officials, signed an open letter to the U.S. government Jan. 24 calling for an end to “the subversion of security technology,” referring to revelations from top-secret documents leaked by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.

Those documents revealed the NSA deliberately weakened international encryption standards adopted and promoted by the National Institute of Standards and Technology, damaging NIST’s reputation and forcing it to publicly recommend against using its own adopted standard.

“Media reports since last June have revealed that the US government conducts domestic and international surveillance on a massive scale, that it engages in deliberate and covert weakening of Internet security standards, and that it pressures US technology companies to deploy backdoors and other data-collection features. As leading members of the US cryptography and information-security research communities, we deplore these practices and urge that they be changed,” the open letter states.

“The choice is not whether to allow the NSA to spy,” the signatories argue in the letter. “The choice is between a communications infrastructure that is vulnerable to attack at its core and one that, by default, is intrinsically secure for its users. … We urge the US government to reject society-wide surveillance and the subversion of security technology, to adopt state-of-the-art, privacy-preserving technology, and to ensure that new policies, guided by enunciated principles, support human rights, trustworthy commerce, and technical innovation.”

Among the many cryptographers to sign the letter were two former Federal Trade Commission chief technology officers: Steven Bellovin and Ed Felten, now professors at Columbia and Princeton universities, respectively.

http://fcw.com/articles/2014/01/28/cryptographers-open-letter.aspx

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Enhanced Interrogation•••Able Archer

I am not sure which is more troubling to me…Enhanced Interrogation or Rendition. It bothers me that Law can be twisted to meet any criteria and purpose one wants. It bothers me the US of all countries was capable of this. It bothered me the US would lecture other countries on Human Rights violations while at the same time being the biggest violator of international law worldwide. The Hypocrisy is sickening. You can play word games all day long but Torture is Torture.

Enhanced interrogation techniques or alternative set of procedures are terms the George W. Bush administration used for certain torture methods including hypothermia, stress positions and waterboarding. The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and the Department of Defense (DoD) employed these methods at Baghram, in black sites or secret prisons, the Guantanamo Bay detention camps, and Abu Ghraib on untold thousands of prisoners[1] after the September 11 attacks, including notably Abu Zubaydah, Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, and Mohammed al-Qahtani.

Debates arose over the legality of the techniques—whether or not they had violated U.S. or international law and whether they constitute torture. In 2005 the CIA destroyed many videotapes depicting prisoners being interrogated under torture; an internal justification was that what they showed was so horrific they would be “devastating to the CIA”, and that “the heat from destroying is nothing compared to what it would be if the tapes ever got into public domain.”[2][3][4][5] The United Nations special rapporteur on torture, Juan Mendez stated that waterboarding is torture — “immoral and illegal,” and in 2008, fifty-six House Democrats asked for an independent investigation.[6][7][8][9]

A nonpartisan, independent review of interrogation and detention programs in the years after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks concluded that “it is indisputable that the United States engaged in the practice of torture” and that the nation’s highest officials bore ultimate responsibility for it.[10] American and European officials including former CIA Director Leon Panetta, former CIA officers, a Guantanamo prosecutor, and a military tribunal judge, have called “enhanced interrogation” a euphemism for torture.[11][12][13][14][15] In 2009 both President Barack Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder stated certain of the techniques are torture, and repudiated their use.[16] They declined to prosecute CIA, DoD, or Bush administration officials who authorized the program, while leaving open the possibility of convening an investigatory “Truth Commission” for what President Obama called a “further accounting.”[17]

Enhanced Interrogation

How Law was twisted to allow Torture

In early 2002, following Abu Zubaydah’s capture, assertedly Jose Rodriguez head of the CIA’s clandestine service, asked his superiors for authorization for what Rodriquez called an “alternative set of interrogation procedures.”[18] Top US Government officials including Dick Cheney, Colin Powell, George Tenet, Condoleezza Rice, Donald Rumsfeld, and John Ashcroft discussed at length whether or not the CIA could legally use harsh techniques against Abu Zubaydah.[19][20] Condoleezza Rice specifically mentioned the SERE program during the meeting stating “I recall being told that U.S. military personnel were subjected to training to certain physical and psychological interrogation techniques…”[21]

ABC News reported on April 9, 2008 that “the most senior Bush administration officials discussed and approved specific details of how high-value al Qaeda suspects would be interrogated by the Central Intelligence Agency.” The article states that those involved included:

Vice President Cheney, former National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and Secretary of State Colin Powell, as well as CIA Director George Tenet and Attorney General John Ashcroft.[22]

In addition, in 2002 and 2003, several Democratic congressional leaders were briefed on the proposed “enhanced interrogation techniques.”[23] These congressional leaders included Nancy Pelosi, the future Speaker of the House, and Representative Jane Harman.[23] Congressional officials have stated that the attitude in the briefings was “quiet acquiescence, if not downright support.”[23] Senator Bob Graham, who CIA records claim was present at the briefings, has stated that he was not briefed on waterboarding in 2002 and that CIA attendance records clash with his personal journal.[24] Harman was the only congressional leader to object to the tactics being proposed.[25] It is of note that in a 2007 report by investigator Dick Marty on secret CIA prisons, the phrase “enhanced interrogations” was stated to be a euphemism for torture.[26] The documents show that top U.S. Officials were intimately involved in the discussion and approval of the harsher interrogation techniques used on Abu Zubaydah.[21]

Condoleezza Rice ultimately told the CIA the harsher interrogation tactics were acceptable,[27][28] In 2009 Rice stated, “We never tortured anyone.”[29] And Dick Cheney stated “I signed off on it; so did others.”[28][30] In 2010, Cheney said, “I was and remain a strong proponent of our enhanced interrogation program.”[31] Pressed on his personal view of waterboarding, Karl Rove told the BBC in 2010: “I’m proud that we kept the world safer than it was, by the use of these techniques. They’re appropriate, they’re in conformity with our international requirements and with US law.”[32] During the discussions, John Ashcroft is reported as saying, “Why are we talking about this in the White House? History will not judge this kindly.”[20]

At least some Bush administration officials opposed the interrogation techniques, including notably Condoleezza Rice’s most senior adviser Philip Zelikow.[33] Upon learning details of the program, Zelikow wrote a memo contesting the Justice Department’s Torture Memos, believing them wrong both legally and as a matter of policy.[33] Zelikow’s memo warned that the interrogation techniques breached US law, and could lead to prosecutions for war crimes.[12][34] The Bush Administration attempted to collect all of the copies of Zelikow’s memo and destroy them.[33][35] Jane Mayer, author of the Dark Side,[36] quotes Zelikow as predicting that “America’s descent into torture will in time be viewed like the Japanese internments”, in that “(f)ear and anxiety were exploited by zealots and fools.”[37]

Enhanced Interrogation

http://www.scribd.com/mobile/doc/183063228

more

http://www.scribd.com/mobile/doc/69103027

more again

http://www.scribd.com/mobile/doc/28298324

CIA document concerning

http://www.scribd.com/mobile/doc/91767603

Enhanced Interrogation

http://www.scribd.com/mobile/doc/88872702

New Yorker Article on by Jane Mayer

The plot, of course, was thwarted—an outcome that has been credited to smart detective work. But Thiessen writes that there is a more important reason that his dreadful scenario never came to pass: the Central Intelligence Agency provided the United Kingdom with pivotal intelligence, using “enhanced interrogation techniques” approved by the Bush Administration. According to Thiessen, British authorities were given crucial assistance by a detainee at Guantánamo Bay who spoke of “plans for the use of liquid explosive,” which can easily be made with products bought at beauty shops. Thiessen also claims that Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the primary architect of the 9/11 attacks, divulged key intelligence after being waterboarded by the C.I.A. a hundred and eighty-three times. Mohammed spoke about a 1995 plot, based in the Philippines, to blow up planes with liquid explosives. Thiessen writes that, in early 2006, “an observant C.I.A. officer” informed “skeptical” British authorities that radicals under surveillance in England appeared to be pursuing a similar scheme.

Thiessen’s book, whose subtitle is “How the C.I.A. Kept America Safe and How Barack Obama Is Inviting the Next Attack,” offers a relentless defense of the Bush Administration’s interrogation policies, which, according to many critics, sanctioned torture and yielded no appreciable intelligence benefit. In addition, Thiessen attacks the Obama Administration for having banned techniques such as waterboarding. “Americans could die as a result,” he writes.

Yet Thiessen is better at conveying fear than at relaying the facts. His account of the foiled Heathrow plot, for example, is “completely and utterly wrong,” according to Peter Clarke, who was the head of Scotland Yard’s anti-terrorism branch in 2006. “The deduction that what was being planned was an attack against airliners was entirely based upon intelligence gathered in the U.K.,” Clarke said, adding that Thiessen’s “version of events is simply not recognized by those who were intimately involved in the airlines investigation in 2006.” Nor did Scotland Yard need to be told about the perils of terrorists using liquid explosives. The bombers who attacked London’s public-transportation system in 2005, Clarke pointed out, “used exactly the same materials.”

Thiessen’s claim about Khalid Sheikh Mohammed looks equally shaky. The Bush interrogation program hardly discovered the Philippine airlines plot: in 1995, police in Manila stopped it from proceeding and, later, confiscated a computer filled with incriminating details. By 2003, when Mohammed was detained, hundreds of news reports about the plot had been published. If Mohammed provided the C.I.A. with critical new clues—details unknown to the Philippine police, or anyone else—Thiessen doesn’t supply the evidence.

Peter Bergen, a terrorism expert who is writing a history of the Bush Administration’s “war on terror,” told me that the Heathrow plot “was disrupted by a combination of British intelligence, Pakistani intelligence, and Scotland Yard.” He noted that authorities in London had “literally wired the suspects’ bomb factory for sound and video.” It was “a classic law-enforcement and intelligence success,” Bergen said, and “had nothing to do with waterboarding or with Guantánamo detainees.”

New Yorker article

Other info

Jane Mayer of the New Yorker is out with an important new piece of reporting on the battle over the legality and effectiveness of the CIA’s post-9/11 torture program. In the story, Mayer uncovers a brewing discord within the Obama Administration on how to deal with a still-secret, 6,000-plus page study conducted by the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (SSCI) of the CIA’s torture program — what Senator Feinstein (D-Calif.), the committee’s chair, has called one of the most significant oversight inquiries in the history of the United States Senate. Though Mayer’s reporting has a lot of interesting details by way of inside-the-Beltway bureaucratic wrangling, at its core it reveals a basic choice President Obama faces: will he take matters into his own hands and help reinforce the United States’ commitment to global prohibition against torture, or will he let the issue be decided by the self-interested prerogatives of a secret agency loathe to admit its mistakes?

To recap, as one of his first official acts in 2009, President Obama issued an executive order banning “enhanced interrogation techniques” and closing the CIA blacksites at which they were used. When it came to accountability for the official post-9/11 torture policy, though, the president decided that it would be more convenient to “look forward as opposed to looking backwards”: his administration rejected congressional proposals for a truth commission and closed an already overly narrow criminal probe into brutal torture committed by the CIA. Many speculated that this decision was to avoid a conflict with the CIA, which is strongly opposed to any sort of accountability regarding the former detention and interrogation program. (More on that in a minute.)

As a result of this failure to pursue accountability for the CIA torture program, former Bush Administration officials such as Dick Cheney — bolstered by lucrative book deals and shielded by de facto immunity — took their pro-“enhanced interrogation” (EIT) narrative to the American people, arguing that the torture program was lawful, effective, and essential to saving lives — and that the Obama Administration made the country less safe by ending it.

These arguments are based not on publicly verifiable facts, but on claimed secret knowledge, and placed in the context of fictional accounts of how torture works, such as those portrayed in the film Zero Dark Thirty and the hit Fox TV series, 24. Not surprisingly, an increasing number of Americans support the use of torture against terrorism suspects, including all the leading Republican candidates during the 2012 presidential campaign (Ron Paul and Jon Huntsman were the only Republican candidates to oppose the use of enhanced interrogation). In that campaign, Mitt Romney’s policy advisers recommended that, if elected, he rescind the president’s anti-torture executive order.

While torture — repudiated globally as immoral and unlawful — should never have been considered a viable option after 9/11, the entire policy debate over the detention and interrogation of terrorism suspects has gone forward without any systematic assessment of the costs and benefits of “enhanced interrogation.” That’s why the Senate Intelligence Committee decided to undertake what has become the single-most comprehensive study on the CIA’s enhanced interrogation program, at a cost of $40 million and based on a multi-year review of more than 6 million pages of official records.

Breakdown of New Yorker article

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http://m.democracynow.org/stories/10188

In the new book The Black Banners: The Inside Story of 9/11 and the War Against al-Qaeda, former FBI agent and interrogator Ali Soufan says that the government missed key opportunities to prevent terrorism attacks and find Osama bin Laden sooner because of mismanaged interrogations and dysfunctional relationships within the government’s counterterrorism agencies.

On Tuesday’s Fresh Air, Soufan describes some of the key al-Qaida interrogations he conducted after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, which provided valuable intelligence to U.S. officials. During one interrogation, Soufan and his partner got Abu Jandal, bin Laden’s former bodyguard, to identify several of the Sept. 11 hijackers. He also interrogated a terrorist named Abu Zubaydah, who was captured in Pakistan after Sept. 11. Soufan got Zubaydah to give up valuable information — including the fact that Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was the mastermind behind the Sept. 11 attacks, and that Jose Padilla was plotting to detonate a dirty bomb in the United States — by using techniques that hinged on building trust and rapport with Zubaydah, withholding information and determining exactly what the terrorist knew.

“We started with Abu Zubaydah with a very simple question — asking him his name — and he responded by giving a fake name,” Soufan tells Fresh Air’s Terry Gross. “After he gave that fake name, I said, ‘What if I call you Honey?’ — the name which his mother nicknamed him as a child. … We needed to shake this individual and say, ‘Look, we know a lot about you. Don’t lie to us.’ ”

Halfway through Zubaydah’s interrogations, which Soufan refers to as “mental poker games,” the CIA decided to take over the sessions. They brought in a private contractor to use what they called enhanced interrogation techniques with the terrorist.

“He had a different approach that [those of] us on the ground with the counterterrorism team were a little nervous about,” says Soufan. “We had never done something like this in the U.S. government. … At the time, the idea was to stop this rapport thing, stop talking to him, and try to find ways to diminish his abilities to resist. That was nudity, sleep deprivation, loud music, etc.”

another New Yorker article

Per Bill Moyers and PBS

Last week, President Obama and former Vice President Cheney delivered speeches about ‘enhanced interrogation’ and national security that were widely seen as an indirect debate between the two men.

Obama said that he ended ‘enhanced interrogation’ methods because they undermine America’s national security objectives and standing in the world:

“Time and again, our values have been our best national security asset – in war and peace, in times of ease and in eras of upheaval… Where terrorists offer only the injustice of disorder and destruction, America must demonstrate that our values and our institutions are more resilient than a hateful ideology… I banned the use of so-called enhanced interrogation techniques by the United States of America. I know some have argued that brutal methods like waterboarding were necessary to keep this country safe. And I categorically reject the assertion that these are the most effective means of interrogation. What’s more, they undermine the rule of law. They alienate us in the world. They serve as a recruitment tool for terrorists, and increase the will of our enemies to fight us, while decreasing the will of others to work with America. They risk the lives of our troops by making it less likely that others will surrender to them in battle, and more likely that Americans will be mistreated if they are captured. In short, they did not advance our war and counterterrorism efforts – they undermined them, and that is why I ended them once and for all.”

And……

Cheney said that the events of 9/11 necessitated extreme actions to keep America safe and that interrogation methods were legal and effective:

“In the years after 9/11, our government also understood that the safety of the country required collecting information known only to the worst of the terrorists. And in a few cases, that information could be gained only through tough interrogations… The interrogations were used on hardened terrorists after other efforts failed. They were legal, essential, justified, successful, and the right thing to do… Personnel were carefully chosen from within the CIA and were especially prepared to apply techniques within the boundaries of their training and the limits of the law. Torture was never permitted. And the methods were given careful legal review before they were approved. Interrogators had authoritative guidance on the line between toughness and torture… To call this a program of torture is to libel the dedicated professionals who have saved American lives and to cast terrorists and murderers as innocent victims. What’s more, to completely rule out enhanced interrogation in the future is unwise in the extreme. It is recklessness cloaked in righteousness and would make the American people less safe.”

Moyers view

fantastic resource.

GWU archive on Torturing America

The George Washington University archive on NSA

GWU archive on NSA

Bonus Able Archer

Since I found this on the GWU website I thought I would bring it up. It is History. It marks about as close as we have ever been to a Nuclear Conflict outside The Cuban Missile Crisis. In some ways this was far more scary. I was a History Major and never heard about this until earlier this year. If you play with fire at some point you will be burned.

Washington, D.C., November 7, 2013 – Today marks the 30th anniversary of the beginning of Able Archer 83, a NATO exercise that utilized “new nuclear weapons release procedures” to simulate the transition from conventional to nuclear war with the Soviet Union. Although US officials saw Able Archer 83 as a routine exercise, it resulted in an “unprecedented Soviet reaction” which US intelligence eventually inferred “was an expression of a genuine belief on the part of Soviet leaders that US was planning a nuclear first strike,” according to the largest collection of declassified documents on the 1983 War Scare compiled and posted by the National Security Archive, http://www.nsarchive.org.

The climax of Able Archer 83 was on November 9, 1983 when NATO war gamers at Supreme Headquarters Allied Power Europe (SHAPE) realized they could not halt a simulated Soviet conventional advance and requested “initial limited use of nuclear weapons against pre-selected fixed targets.” This limited strike was not enough, and on the morning of November 11, a “follow-on use of nuclear weapons was executed.”

While NATO was practicing a drawn-out transition from conventional to nuclear war, Soviet leadership feared a decapitating first strike. The imminent European deployment of western Pershing II and cruise missiles which could reach the Soviet Union in ten minutes led Soviet General Secretary Yuri Andropov to warn in June of 1983 of the “the dangerous ‘red line'” of nuclear war through “miscalculation” four times during his “first real meeting” with an envoy from the Reagan administration. A KGB report from May of 1982 describes the creation of the largest peace-time human intelligence gathering operation in history, Operation RYaN, in an attempt to “prevent the possible sudden outbreak of war by the enemy.”

“Report of the Work of the KGB in 1981,” May 10, 1982.
The American intelligence community did not initially perceive the risk of nuclear miscalculation that Able Archer 83 involved. Only “in response to British concerns” were intelligence reports drafted on the War Scare, the most ominous of which — from CIA Director William Casey to President Ronald Reagan and other cabinet officials — warned of “a dimension of genuineness” and “high military costs” to the Soviet actions. A summary of a still-classified retrospective 1991 intelligence report showed an “ominous list of indicators” pointing toward genuine Soviet fear of a Western first strike,” which caused the Soviet military to ready its forces for a preemptive strike on the West. “If so,” the report understated, “war scare a cause for concern.”

Despite the dangerous ramifications of this possible nuclear miscalculation, the history of the Able Archer 83 war scare has remained largely unavailable to the public. This dearth of primary sources has even led critics — with some justification — to describe the study of the war scare as “an echo chamber of inadequate research and misguided analysis” and “circle reference dependency,” with an overreliance upon “the same scanty evidence.”

In an attempt to fill this “echo chamber,” the National Security Archive has posted, the largest collection of documents about the incident available. These documents come from Freedom of Information Act releases by the CIA, the National Security Agency, the Department of Defense, and the Department of State, research findings from American and British archives, as well as formerly classified Soviet Politburo and KGB files, interviews with ex-Soviet generals, and records from other former communist states.

GWU ( George Washington Univ) National Security Archive

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Science Fiction Shorts

I love Science Fiction short films. I found a list of the best shorts from last 5 years or so. Hope you enjoy them as much as I have.

The origin of creatures

youtube.com/watch?v=84Ln-5E29Vk

Closer

youtube.com/watch?v=IEuZCv7GlPw