Has DHS become the Nations police force?

I read this article and was both amazed and scared at the implications of what this means. If you buy into the idea that the US has become a police state. With the NSA basically wielding unconstitutional powers to spy and track ALL Americans then we can assume that DHS is indeed the nations police force.

“A standing military force, with an overgrown Executive will not long be safe companions to liberty.”—James Madison

“Here [in New Mexico], we are moving more toward a national police force. Homeland Security is involved with a lot of little things around town. Somebody in Washington needs to call a timeout.”—Dan Klein, retired Albuquerque Police Department sergeant

If the United States is a police state, then the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is its national police force, with all the brutality, ineptitude and corruption such a role implies. In fact, although the DHS’ governmental bureaucracy may at times appear to be inept and bungling, it is ruthlessly efficient when it comes to building what the Founders feared most—a standing army on American soil.

The third largest federal agency behind the Departments of Veterans Affairs and Defense, the DHS—with its 240,000 full-time workers, $61 billion budget and sub-agencies that include the Coast Guard, Customs and Border Protection, Secret Service, Transportation Security Administration (TSA) and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)—has been aptly dubbed a “runaway train.”

In the 12 years since it was established to “prevent terrorist attacks within the United States,” the DHS has grown from a post-9/11 knee-jerk reaction to a leviathan with tentacles in every aspect of American life. With good reason, a bipartisan bill to provide greater oversight and accountability into the DHS’ purchasing process has been making its way through Congress.

A better plan would be to abolish the DHS altogether. In making the case for shutting down the de facto national police agency, analyst Charles Kenny offers the following six reasons: one, the agency lacks leadership; two, terrorism is far less of a threat than it is made out to be; three, the FBI has actually stopped more alleged terrorist attacks than DHS; four, the agency wastes exorbitant amounts of money with little to show for it; five, “An overweight DHS gets a free pass to infringe civil liberties without a shred of economic justification”; and six, the agency is just plain bloated.

article on DHS

What Internet does NASA use?

Saw this interesting article on Wired today. NASA uses a different internet than us mortal citizens. NASA has download speeds of 91MB a second. We can only hope as citizens for speeds of around 2 or 3 MB a second currently.

I am posting this because I think the technology is interesting.

When Google chief financial officer Patrick Pichette said the tech giant might bring 10 gigabits per second internet connections to American homes, it seemed like science fiction. That’s about 1,000 times faster than today’s home connections. But for NASA, it’s downright slow.

While the rest of us send data across the public internet, the space agency uses a shadow network called ESnet, short for Energy Science Network, a set of private pipes that has demonstrated cross-country data transfers of 91 gigabits per second–the fastest of its type ever reported.

NASA isn’t going bring these speeds to homes, but it is using this super-fast networking technology to explore the next wave of computing applications. ESnet is a test bed where scientists can explore new ideas before setting them loose on the commercial internet, and it’s an important tool for researchers who deal in massive amounts of data generated by projects such as the Large Hadron Collider and the Human Genome Project. Rather sending hard disks back and forth through the mail, they can trade data via the ultra-fast network, which is run by the Department of Energy.

In short, ESnet a window into what our computing world will eventually look like. “Our vision for the world is that scientific discovery shouldn’t be constrained by geography,” says ESnet director Gregory Bell.

NASAs internet

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

Oh.. just some stuff. LHC discovers new matter possibly. Why Neocons are wrong about Everything. And UFO’s over Hawaii this summer? Sponsored by NASA? yes.

I will actually post backwards to the way I described it above. The new matter discovered is in terms of Physics a stunning revelation. The Neo Cons did get us involved in the two worst wars in US History.. Certainly the longest wars in this Countries History. I will argue by the time it is said and done the most devastating in terms of  damage in multiple possible ways to veterans returning home and the soldiers actively in  the war zone.  I will talk about this amazing story on UFOs being flown over Hawaii.. You guessed it. By NASA.

 

UFO’s over Hawaii. This summer guaranteed. NASA is about to start new project. A flying saucer project. 

 

 

nasa-developing-flying-saucer-for-mars

 

Holidaymakers in Hawaii may get a shock this summer, according to NASA’s intelligence, as a flying saucer will fly over the beaches of Hawaii.

However, the disc is not extra-terrestrial, it will be launched from a U.S. Navy facility in Kauai in June as part of a project which will one day see the spacecraft, if successful, carry heavy loads of equipment and eventually people, to Mars, according to Science Recorder.

A Low Density Supersonic Decelerator will launch the disk-shaped object.  It has been designed to slow down upon entering the rather thin atmosphere of Mars by using inflatable technology, replacing the usual system, which requires deployment of a parachute.

Martian air has a thinner density compared to Earth’s atmosphere, measuring about one per cent as dense.  This makes it difficult for vehicles traveling at supersonic speed to stop and land effectively on Mars.

The crafts design uses a giant parachute, while using a decelerator resembling a balloon that is attached to the entry vehicle.  As the speed of the capsule increases, the decelerator rapidly inflates – slowing the capsule down so that its parachute can deploy for a safe landing.

To recreate the atmosphere on Mars, NASA’s research team will lift the vehicle equipped with the decelerator system 22 miles above the Pacific Ocean in Hawaii, using a high-altitude balloon.

The craft will then fire a rocket to bring the saucer to an altitude of 180,000 feet.  Gravity will bring the rocket back to earth, where the system is expected to inflate and then momentarily release the parachute.

http://www.designntrend.com/articles/12634/20140411/nasa-testing-flying-saucer-spacecraft-bound-for-mars.htm

NEOCONS wrong about Everything?

Slate columnist Reihan Salam has an important message: He still believes in neoconservatism. He concedes, more or less, that the past 13 years of United States foreign policy have been a hideous spectacle of strategic, tactical, and moral failure, all perpetrated in the name of neoconservative ideas. “Given all of this,” he asks, “why am I still a neocon?”

The answer—albeit Salam’s unintentional answer—is that he’s a neocon because he is a sloppy thinker who is deeply confused about history and how the world works. This is a valuable contribution to the ongoing discussion of America’s role in global affairs. Neoconservatism is a fantasy, and fantasies are hard to abandon:

Why do I still believe that the U.S. should maintain an overwhelming military edge over all potential rivals, and that we as a country ought to be willing to use our military power in defense of our ideals as well as our interests narrowly defined? There are two reasons: The first is that American strength is the linchpin of a peaceful, economically integrating world; and the second is that we know what it looks like when America embraces amoral realpolitik, and it’s not pretty.

Goodness, ideals! Our ideals, lately, have led to our national spy corps running an open-ended international program of mass surveillance and paramilitary war, featuring kidnapping, torture, and robot-assisted assassination. In Afghanistan, one of the countries where we have most actively worked on pinning together a peaceful world, aid workers and journalists are being shot by the locals for simply being associated with the West. Meanwhile Russia, despite the undeniable appeal of a world led by the United States, has begun de-integrating territory from the Euro-American sphere of influence.

Presumably Vladimir Putin is reacting to President Obama’s relative lack of strength, now that neoconservative ideas are in eclipse. Yet the American military, despite reports of its imminent demobilization, is immense and well funded. Salam addresses this:

You may have seen one of those charts illustrating how much the U.S. military spends on defense vs. other countries. Slate recently ran just such a chart to show that America’s 2012 defense spending surpasses that of China, Russia, the U.K., Japan, France, Saudi Arabia, India, Germany, Italy, and Brazil combined. The implicit message of these charts is “Wait a minute, you guys—doesn’t this seem like overkill?” There is no question that there is waste in the U.S. defense budget, and that our military could deploy resources more effectively.

But these charts are misleading insofar as they gloss over a pretty important fact, which is that personnel costs are much higher in rich countries than in poor ones. Stack up the U.S. against the same list of countries on health or education spending and you’ll find that we spend an impressive amount in those domains too.

The actual charts. 

spending

http://gawker.com/why-be-a-neocon-because-you-like-being-very-wrong-abou-1561275136

The Physics Particle that cannot be explained by any models. A new form of Matter of all things?

Be prepared for the word tetra quark.

Since the spectacular discovery of the Higgs boson in 2012, physicists at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC), the gigantic particle accelerator outside Geneva, have suffered a bit of a drought when it comes to finding new particles. In a welcome relief, the LHCb collaboration, who run one of four large experiments at the LHC, have announced one of the most genuinely exciting observations to come out of the 27km super-collider so far – an exotic particle that cannot be explained by current theories.

In the early 1930s physicists had a clean picture of the subatomic particles that make up our world. Every known atom has a tiny nucleus at its heart surrounded by a cloud of electrons, and each nucleus was made out of varying numbers of protons and neutrons. However, as the decades wore on a number of new, and somewhat unwelcome, particles were discovered, at first in detectors studying particles from outer space and later in particle-collider experiments.

By the 1950s, dozens of apparently elementary particles had been discovered, causing frustration among physicists who often brandish an inability to memorise a list of facts as a badge of honour. The famous physicist Enrico Fermi perhaps best expressed the mood of his colleagues in an infamous remark:

Young man, if I could remember the names of these particles, I would have been a botanist.”

Help came in the 1950s when physicists came up with a new model that explained most of these particles as being made up of a small number of truly elementary particles. Borrowing a line from James Joyce’s Finnegans Wake (a book that is even harder to understand than quantum field theory), Murray Gell-Mann dubbed these new particles “quarks”.

By the late 1960s the existence of quarks had been verified experimentally. We now know that there are six in total – the up, down, strange, charm, bottom and top quarks, along with six antiquarks (their anti-matter copies).

The quark model neatly explained all these peculiar particles. Protons, neutrons and many others besides are made of three quarks, belonging to a family known as baryons. Alternatively, a quark and an antiquark can pair up to form a meson.

Since then the quark model has been extremely successful, and is now a cornerstone of our understanding of particle physics. It was only at the turn of the millennium that some strange results started to suggest that the model might be incomplete. Until 2003 quarks had only been seen in twos or threes, but then a number of particles that looked like combinations of four quarks started to reveal themselves.

In 2008 the Belle Collaboration in Japan reported the observation of a new exotic particle – the unfortunately drably named Z(4430) (where  for its negative charge). This has a mass that places it in a dense forest of charmonium states – particles that are made up of a charm quark and a charm antiquark. Crucially though, the Z is electrically charged whereas all charmonium states must be neutral, clearly marking it out as something unusual.

After a careful analysis of data from 25,000 decays of mesons resulting from more than 180 trillion collisions at the LHC in 2011 and 2012, the new announcement confirms the existence of Z(4430) with extremely high confidence. The particle was observed with an overwhelming significance of 13.9 sigma, well above the usual 5 sigma threshold required to declare a discovery. LHCb also went further than Belle by measuring the spin and parity of Z(4430), two quantum-mechanical properties that give a firm handle on the internal makeup of the particle.

The observation by LHCb is important because few physicists will take a result seriously until it has been seen by two independent experiments. This is why hundreds of millions of Euros were spent building two large detectors at the LHC. The observation of the Higgs boson by two independent teams, ATLAS and CMS, was what really convinced the scientific community that the particle was real.

This result is the clearest evidence yet of the existence of a tetraquark

http://www.newstatesman.com/sci-tech/2014/04/large-hadron-collider-has-made-another-exciting-quantum-discovery

From another source.

A long-sought fugitive has been caught at the world’s largest particle accelerator. Experiments at the Large Hadron Collider confirm that a provocative particle called Z(4430) actually exists – and it may be the strongest evidence yet for a new form of matter called a tetraquark.

Quarks are subatomic particles that are the fundamental building blocks of matter. They are known to exist either in groups of two, forming short-lived mesons, or in threes, forming the protons and neutrons that make up atomic nuclei. Researchers have suspected for decades that quarks might also bind together in quartets, forming tetraquarksMovie Camera, but they have not been able to do the complicated quantum calculations necessary to test the idea.

“Our computers aren’t yet big enough to solve the theory from first principles,” says Thomas Cohen at the University of Maryland in College Park. That means no one knows if the laws of physics should allow matter to clump together to form the still hypothetical tetraquark. But the latest sighting at the LHC means we are closer than ever to finding out.

“The main argument about Z(4430) was, does it exist or not?” says Tomasz Skwarnicki at Syracuse University in New York, who is a member of the team that carried out the latest work. “We came and said Z(4430) is real.”

Belle v Babar

The newly nabbed Z(4430) is one of a handful of suspectedtetraquarks that have been found in recent years. It was first reported by the Belle detector at the KEKB accelerator in Tsukuba, Japan, in 2008. But the particle’s existence was questioned after the BaBar detector at the SLAC accelerator in Menlo Park, California, subsequently failed to find it.

Now the LHCb experiment, which sits at the LHC along with the experiments that spotted the Higgs boson, has analysed 10 times as much data as either Belle or BaBar and says it has found as many as 4000 of the particles.

“It’s a very good piece of work,” says BaBar spokesman Michael Roney. It seems that the particular way BaBar searched for the particle reduced its chances of a sighting. “We didn’t have enough data to have the full sensitivity,” he says.

http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn25402-lhc-spots-particle-that-may-be-new-form-of-matter.html?cmpid=RSS|NSNS|2012-GLOBAL|online-news#.U0fAUOZdXjY

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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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Map shows what losing Crimea means to Ukraine

This map from the Washington Post does a good job in general in showing what Ukraine is losing in respect to Crimea.

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Ukraine signs EU trade Pact

The whole fiasco started in the Ukraine because a vast majority of Ukrainians wanted tighter relationship and trade with the EU. Yanukovych ignored what the people wanted and signed a deal with Moscow for trade. The protests started almost immediately after.

updated 2:52 PM EDT 03.21.14
Ukraine signs EU trade pact amid crisis
By Laura Smith-Spark. Nina Dos Santos and Frederik Pleitgen, CNN
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Brussels (CNN) – Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk signed the political elements of a trade pact with the European Union on Friday, even as Russian lawmakers finalized annexation of Ukraine’s Crimea region.

The signing in Brussels signals Europe’s solidarity with Ukraine — and carries additional symbolic force because it was the decision by Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych in November to ditch the trade pact in favor of closer ties with Russia that triggered the protests that led to his ouster in February and spiraled into the current crisis.

It also comes a day after the European Union and the United States slapped sanctions on Russian lawmakers and businessmen; Russia responded with its own list of sanctions against a number of U.S. lawmakers and officials.

In another sign of defiance, Russian President Vladimir Putin, flanked by the speakers of both houses of Parliament, signed a treaty Friday finalizing the accession to Russia of the Crimea region and its port city of Sevastopol.

The upper house unanimously approved ratification of the treaty a day after Russia’s lower house of Parliament, the State Duma, passed it by an overwhelming margin.

Russia’s moves to annex Crimea, following a contested referendum last weekend in the Black Sea peninsula, have turned a confrontation with Europe and the United States into the biggest crisis in East-West relations since the Cold War.

In a sign that Western sanctions are already weighing on Russian authorities, Finance Minister Anton Siluanov said Friday in Moscow that the government will have to pay more to borrow money, state news agency ITAR-Tass said.

Russia “will look at our oil and gas revenues. If the situation is like it is now, we will probably have to give up external borrowings and cut domestic ones,” Siluanov said.

Yatsenyuk: EU speaking in one voice

Moscow has doggedly pursued its own course even as Western leaders have denounced its actions as violations of Ukraine’s sovereignty and a breach of international law.

CNN article discussing EU deal

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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.