Government officials have been quick to deny any "misuse" of this huge data bank – beyond the to-be-expectedeavesdropping on spouses, and other anomalous pranks by errant ex-employees – and critics have so far focused on potential misuse. Well, now we know it’s much more than just potential: it’s real, it’s happening, and it’s downright scary.
The rationale for the Surveillance State has always been "the foreign connection." There are these Bad Guys outside the US, you see, who are trying to infiltrate our society and cause violent havoc, so we have to create this huge "haystack" of data and sift through it with a fine-toothed comb – but Americans, we’re told, aren’t the primary targets. It’s them furriners we have to worry about.
This turned out to be a lie. We always knew it was a lie, but now James Risen and Laura Poitras have confirmed it in a recent New York Timesarticle that blows the lid off this rationalization:
"Since 2010, the National Security Agency has been exploiting its huge collections of data to create sophisticated graphs of some Americans’ social connections that can identify their associates, their locations at certain times, their traveling companions and other personal information, according to newly disclosed documents and interviews with officials."
UK detention of Reprieve activist consistent with NSA's view of drone opponents as 'threats' and 'adversaries'
A well-known and highly respected Yemeni anti-drone activist was detained yesterday by UK officials under that country's "anti-terrorism" law at Gatwick Airport, where he had traveled to speak at an event. Baraa Shiban, the project co-ordinator for the London-based legal charity Reprieve, was held for an hour and a half and repeatedly questioned about his anti-drone work and political views regarding human rights abuses in Yemen.
Shiban tells his story today, here, in the Guardian, and recounts how the UK official told him "he had detained me not merely because I was from Yemen, but also because of Reprieve's work investigating and criticising the efficacy of US drone strikes in my country."
The notion that Shiban posed some sort of security threat was absurd on its face. As the Guardian reported Tuesday, "he visited the UK without incident earlier this summer and testified in May to a US congressional hearing on the impact of the covert drone programme in Yemen."
Viewing anti-drone activism as indicative of a terrorism threat is noxious. As Reprieve's Cory Crider put it yesterday, "if there were any doubt the UK was abusing its counter-terrorism powers to silence critics, this ends it."
A NIGHTMARE IN THE MAKING for Netanyahu and warmongering Jews on Capitol Hill is emerging with Iran’s new government and its latest diplomatic coup.
It all began with the election of Hassan Rouhani as Iran’s new president last summer followed by his OpEd in the Washington Post last week.
In a blow to Israel and the Jewish Lobby in America, Rouhani opined, “In a climate where foreign policy is a direct function of domestic politics, it’s counter-intuitive to pursue one’s interests without considering the interests of others.”
Of course, it’s been Jewry’s interests alone that America has pursued over the years resulting in chaos and bloodshed across the globe.
“But, it’s time,” the Iranian president urges, “that we end the unhealthy rivalries and interferences that fuel violence and drive us apart. It’s important that countries in the region draw closer. But with its warmongering policies, Israel has brought instability.”
Rouhani then goes for the jugular with, “The unilateral approach which glorifies brute force and breeds violence is incapable of solving the issues we all face.”
And what are the issues?
Rouhani cites them as: “Foreign military interference, terrorism, and cultural encroachment”…all fueled by Jewish interests that drive US foreign policy.
Lavrov: US pressuring Russia into passing UN resolution on Syria allowing military force
The Syrian crisis: Putin to the rescue
President Vladimir Putin of Russia met with President Barack Obama in San Jose Del Cabo, Mexico, as far back as June 18, 2012, according to the Life, Hope & Truth’sl News and Prophecy blog. But after two full hours together, Putin was still balking, appearing afterward with Obama before reporters in a grim tableau that seemed to express frustration on both sides.
Now, with America on the brink of striking Syria, Russia has intervened with a possible diplomatic solution. What’s behind this geopolitical turn of events? The article by Erik Jones frames it biblically, which some might believe is a bit offbeat. It is. Nevertheless, the article contains some original political insights on Putin, though I’m not in tune with all its biblical conclusions on the shape of future world powers.
Politically, it is true that in the past few weeks the escalating conflict between the United States and Syria has captured world attention. The Obama administration has been tirelessly pursuing—with little success—international, congressional and popular support for a limited military strike on Syria in retribution for a purported chemical attack allegedly carried out by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s forces on Aug. 21, 2013.
Enter the Russian bear
The possibility of UN participation with the United States in a war against Syria is virtually zero. Russia—Syria’s strong economic and military ally—would certainly exert its veto power. And what was a poor start to any U.S. confrontation became even more complicated earlier last week when Vladimir Putin announced a proposed solution to the Syrian crisis—an offering from Russia to lead a plan to put Syrian chemical weapons under international control.
Failure to Withdraw: The CIA, the Taliban, and the Strategy of Tension in Afghanistan
Washington and Israel Conspire to Oust Assad
On September 15, Syrian Information Minister Omran al-Zoubi said his government “views with great seriousness the Russian-US deal.”
It intends to observe it to the letter, he stressed. It’s “committing itself to whatever comes from the UN. We accept the Russian plan to get rid of our chemical weapons.”
“In fact, we’ve started preparing our list. We are already documenting our papers, and we have started to do our job.”
“We don’t waste time. For 40 years, Syria has always been trusted once it has committed itself.” Syria will “absolutely” grant UN inspectors access to storage sites.
It “respects and honors what (the agreement) says. We take (it) very seriously.”
It doesn’t matter. Obama’s committed to regime change. So is Israel. Both countries want Syrian sovereignty destroyed. They want pro-Western puppet governance replacing it. They want Iran isolated. They want Shah era harshness restored.
Plans remain unchanged. Implementing them is delayed. John Kerry warned:
“Make no mistake. We have taken no options off the table.” The US/Russian deal “will only be as effective as its implementation will be, and President Obama has made it clear that to accomplish that, the threat of force remains.”
“The threat of force is real.” Destroying Syria’s chemical weapons “set(s) a marker for the standard of behavior to Iran and with respect to North Korea.”
Netanyahu thanked Kerry’s efforts “to rid Syria of its chemical weapons.”
He ignored his own country’s formidable nuclear, chemical and biological weapons arsenal saying so. He was silent about the enormous threat it poses.
The just announced U.S.-Russia agreement in Geneva on a “joint determination to ensure the destruction of the Syrian chemical weapons (CW) program in the soonest and safest manner” sounds the death knell to an attempt by Israel, Turkey and Saudi Arabia to get the U.S. into the war in Syria.
Equally important, it greatly increases the prospect of further U.S.-Russia cooperation to tamp down escalating violence in Syria and elsewhere in the Middle East. That the two sides were able to hammer out in three days a detailed agreement on such highly delicate, complicated issues is little short of a miracle. I cannot remember seeing the likes of it in 50 years in Washington.
Just two short weeks ago, the prospect of a U.S. military strike against Syria looked like a done deal with Official Washington abuzz with excitement about cruise missiles being launched from American warships in the Mediterranean, flying low toward their targets and lighting up the night sky of Damascus like the “shock and awe” pyrotechnics did to Baghdad in 2003.
On Aug. 30, Secretary of State John Kerry seemed to seal the deal with an impassioned address that declared some 35 times that “we know” Syrian President Bashar al-Assad had crossed President Barack Obama’s “red line” against using chemical weapons with an Aug. 21 attack and needed to be punished.
Along with Kerry’s speech, the White House released a four-page “Government Assessment” declaring with “high confidence” that Assad’s regime was guilty of the attack on a Damascus suburb that killed precisely “1,429” people and “at least 426 children.” Though the white paper included not a single verifiable fact establishing Assad’s guilt – nor did it explain where its casualty figures came from – the assessment was accepted as true by most of the mainstream U.S. news media.
At that moment, Israel and its many backers had every reason to believe they had won the day and that at least the first stage of the retribution would be delivered before President Barack Obama flew off on Sept. 3 to Europe and to the G-20 summit. But then came a series of disappointments for them, beginning with Obama’s abrupt Aug. 31 decision to seek congressional authorization.
OpNSA - Anonymous Exposes NSA Supporters' Financial Ties
Defeating AIPAC Starts with Syria
In the second century B.C., Cato the Elder, a Roman Senator, would end every speech he made with the admonition "Delenda Est Carthago," meaning that the city of Carthage, Rome’s perennial rival, must be destroyed. Among other claims, the Romans accused the Carthaginians of engaging in human sacrifice to their god Ba’al Hammon, something that one might describe as the "red line" of that era as Greco-Roman culture abhorred the practice and condemned those who engaged in it. Even though Rome dominated the Mediterranean and Carthage was in decline, Cato believed that one day the ancient resentments would again rise to the surface and a resurgent Carthage would discover a new Hannibal and take revenge. In other words, the survival of Carthage was seen as a threat to the continued existence of the Roman Republic. Cato’s argument was convincing enough to many Romans that it resulted in the Third Punic War in which Carthage was indeed destroyed.
I mention Rome and Carthage to illustrate the fact that there is nothing new under the sun when it comes to making compelling arguments about what today might be termed national security. There is in today’s world no Carthage to serve as a counterpoint to America’s new Rome, but in a nation where corruption enabled by the art of lobbying has become so refined that interest groups are able to dominate the political discourse the real enemy is internal. It is plausible to argue that the nation’s legislature is only marginally answerable to the citizens that have elected it. This has nowhere been more evident than in the still ongoing debate over America going to war against Syria, which the White House intends to initiate to establish its "credibility" in spite of the clear evidence that Damascus poses no actual threat to the United States or its interests. Even if one considers a government killing its own citizens as humanitarian grounds for outside military intervention, which I do not, the White House has failed to produce any compelling evidence that the Syrian government actually used chemical weapons against its own people. Ordinary American citizens have responded to the mess of pottage they have been served by writing and calling their congressmen and, overwhelmingly, saying "no." Even normally bellicose evangelical Christians are surprisingly nearly two to one opposed. But still congress dithers.
The American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) has weighed into the debate big time, unleashing hundreds of its activists on Capitol Hill, buttonholing congressmen and staffers alike. This is how it works according to a congressional staffer: "First come the phone calls from constituents who are AIPAC members. They know the Congressman and are nice and friendly and just tell him, or whichever staffer the constituent knows, just how important this vote is to him and his friends back in the district. Then the donors call. The folks who have hosted fundraisers. They are usually not only from the district but from New York or LA or Chicago. They repeat the message: this vote is very important. Contrary to what you might expect, they do not mention campaign money. They don’t have to. Because these callers are people who only know the Congressman through their checks, the threat not to write any more of them is implicit. Like the constituents, the donors are using AIPAC talking points which are simple and forceful. You can argue with them but they keep going back to the script… Then there are the AIPAC lobbyists, the professional staffers. They come in, with or without appointments. If the Congressman is in, they expect to see him immediately. If not, they will see a staffer. If they don’t like what they hear, they will keep coming back. They are very aggressive, no other lobby comes close. They expect to see the Member, not mere staff. Then there are the emails driven by the AIPAC website…and then the ‘Dear Colleague’ letters from Jewish House members saying how important the vote is for Israel and America. They also will buttonhole the Members on the House floor… And, truth be told, all the senior Jewish Members of the House are tight with AIPAC. Also, the two biggest AIPAC enforcers, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor and his Democratic counterpart, Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer, are fierce AIPAC partisans, and they make sure to seek out Members on the floor to tell them how they must vote. On anything related to Israel, they speak in one voice: AIPAC’s. Obviously, there is no counterpart to this on the antiwar side. No anti-AIPAC to speak of. AIPAC owns this issue. It gets what it wants."
AIPAC carefully avoided naming Israel in its statement of support for Obama even though it prides itself on being America’s pro-Israel lobby, presumably because it wishes to avoid Syria being labeled as Israel’s war if the bombing turns out badly. Which it will. AIPAC cares nothing for the fate of Syrian civilians but it does fear that failing to attack Damascus could possibly strengthen noninterventionist sentiment when it comes time to confront Iran, which it regards as Israel’s principal enemy. Its statement asserts "America’s allies and adversaries are closely watching the outcome of this momentous vote. This critical decision comes at a time when Iran is racing toward obtaining nuclear capability. Failure to approve this resolution would weaken our country’s credibility to prevent the use and proliferation of unconventional weapons and thereby greatly endanger our country’s security and interests and those of our regional allies." The White House, for its part, is increasingly playing the Israel card to gain support, with the Israeli media even reporting that Obama has asked Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to intervene directly in lobbying American Jews to support an attack.
Opposing the Syrian War Propaganda - Michel Chossudovsky
John Kerry and the Orwellian Language of War
When is a war not a war? According to John Kerry, launching cruise missiles at Syria is not a war. Testifying before the US Senate’s Foreign Relations Committee, Kerry said, “President Obama is not asking America to go to war.”
Kerry’s argument seems to hinge on the idea that no American ground troops will likely be deployed. Of the proposed strikes, Kerry said, “I just don’t consider that going to war in the classic sense of coming to Congress and asking for a declaration of war and training troops and sending people abroad and putting young Americans in harm’s way.” Perhaps no Americans will be put in harm’s way, although claims of possible Iranian plans for retaliation cast doubt on that hope. But regardless, innocent Syrians will still be killed by American missiles. People’s homes and possessions will still be destroyed. Mass aggressive violence will still be waged by the US government in a foreign land. That’s a war.
And while Kerry is not currently proposing sending ground troops to Syria, he acknowledges that it’s a possibility. Kerry also told the Senate: “But in the event Syria imploded, for instance, or in the event there was a threat of a chemical weapons cache falling into the hands of al-Nusra or someone else and it was clearly in the interest of our allies and all of us, the British, the French and others, to prevent those weapons of mass destruction falling into the hands of the worst elements, I don’t want to take off the table an option that might or might not be available to a president of the United States to secure our country.”
But to be clear, Secretary Kerry and President Obama are not proposing a war. Yes, they will use cruise missiles to slaughter Syrians, and if they don’t like the Syrian government’s response they may even send ground troops. War profiteers like Raytheon will certainly profit. But the Secretary of State will insist it’s not a war.
So, why the Orwellian “War is Peace” attitude here? Partially because Kerry recognizes this war is not popular with the American public. Polls show substantial public opposition. When explaining that he would not consider American attacks on Syria a war, Kerry went a step further and said “when people are asked, do you want to go to war with Syria, of course not! Everybody, a hundred percent of Americans will say no.” When most Americans oppose war, the best solution apparently is to change the name to something else.
WHILE McCAIN PLAYED POKERduring Senate Hearings planning a US strike on Syria, the Assad government warned that an assault on its country would “not be easy.”
“We have two options: Either to surrender or to defend ourselves, announced Syria’s Foreign Minister. “The second choice is the best: We will defend ourselves.”
Syria’s deputy Foreign Minister added, “We have taken every measure to retaliate against an aggression. Syria will not change its position even if there is World War 3.” Along with anti-ship Yakhont missiles and Iskandar high-precision missiles, many Syrian Air Force pilots are preparing suicide kamikaze bomber units to attack the US Navy ships stationed in the eastern Mediterranean poised to strike the Arab country.
But regardless of the repercussions for American lives and interests, the Jewish Lobby that pulls the strings of its puppets on Capitol Hill will have its way: A US War on Syria leading to WW3 that’s “good for the Jews” but bad for everyone else looks like a done deal.
AIPAC’s Michael Kassen leads the War Cry with, “America must stand strong against barbarism,” followed by Abe Foxman’s Holohoax spin, “Innocents being gassed invokes that special historical memory and sensitivity.”
The Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations echoes the cry for carnage with, “Those with weapons of mass destruction must see that there is accountability.” (Where have we heard this before?)
HEY CONGRESS! TAKE A NOTE! WE THE PEOPLE DO NOT WAR
The U.S. Will Regret Intervention in Syria
When pundits debate military options for any of the many U.S. foreign interventions, most of them buy into, whether knowingly or not, some version of the "America-as-World-Policeman" approach to foreign policy. They usually either skate over the question of why the particular target nation is strategic to U.S. vital interests or simply say that issue is irrelevant, because whatever tragedy has occurred is a humanitarian crisis of epic proportion.
This predictable debate is now happening over U.S. intervention in Syria. To deal with the latter canard first, the 1,400 people killed in the most recent alleged chemical weapons attack and the more than 100,000 souls killed in the Syrian civil war are truly tragic but are dwarfed by other much more lethal recent conflicts in which the U.S. did nothing. The United States did not intervene militarily in Congo, where 5 million people and counting have been killed, in Sudan, where the civil war and famine killed 2 million people, and in Rwanda, where the Tutsi tribe killed 800,000 members of the Hutu tribe. Even if the United States could have intervened and done something effective to make these places better – unlikely if the recent U.S. debacles in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Libya are any indication – the "responsibility to protect" doctrine advocated by U.N. ambassador Samantha Power and others is against international law for a reason. In the world’s system of nation-states, in which only self defense is recognized as a legitimate excuse to use force, the "responsibility to protect" is illegal because of the tremendous potential to cause many more deaths by its huge potential for abuse. For example, the United States has used the "humanitarian" excuse for intervention many times, but the absence of intervention in the above most heinous cases and the existence of other underlying agendas in cases of U.S. intervention show the potential for cynical exploitation; other great powers have done the same.
Even if one buys into the dubious doctrine, why does it always have to be the United States that assumes the responsibility? It’s advocates say, using goading flattery, because the United States is the "indispensible nation" (the implication is that the United States is the only country with a military that is powerful enough to make such interventions successful). However, other nations have forces that can be used for such interventions and peacekeeping–although the world would be better off and probably have many less deaths overall if all nations followed international law and stayed out of other nations’ business as much as possible, even in cases where people are doing stupid things to themselves in brutal civil wars.
As for chemical weapons, hypocrisy reins here too. First of all, chemical weapons have killed far fewer people over human history than conventional bullets and bombs – in the Syrian civil war, it’s about 1 percent of the more than 100,000 people killed thus far in the conflict. Chemical weapons hardly have been a "weapon of mass destruction" compared to conventional munitions. Also, in 1988, when Saddam Hussein, then receiving U.S. support in his war with the Iranians, used chemical weapons against his own people, the United States not only didn’t attack him, but looked the other way and lent him another billion dollars six months later.
The Obama administration is using a time-tested pitch to get Congress to back military strikes in Syria: It will help protect Israel.
Israel’s enemies, including Iran and the terrorist group Hezbollah, could be emboldened if Congress fails to approve action against the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad, senior administration officials said Saturday.
And for the second day in a row, President Barack Obama publicly cited the threat against Israel if Assad’s reported use of chemical weapons goes unchecked. “It endangers our friends and our partners along Syria’s borders, including Israel, Jordan, Turkey, Lebanon and Iraq,” Obama said Saturday in the Rose Garden. “It could lead to escalating use of chemical weapons or their proliferation to terrorist groups who would do our people harm.”
Secretary of State John Kerry also referred to Israel repeatedly as he made the rounds on all five major Sunday morning news shows — as well as comparing Assad to Adolf Hitler.
“I think the stakes of upholding the international standard of behavior that has been in place since 1925, after World War I, that only Adolf Hitler and Saddam Hussein have breached that in time of war since then, and now Assad joins them, I think to contemplate that the Congress of the United States would turn its back on Israel, on Jordan, on Turkey, on our allies in the region, turn its back on innocent Syrian people who have been slaughtered by this gas and those who yet may be subject to an attack, … I can’t contemplate that the Congress would turn its back on all of that responsibility and the fact that we would have in fact granted impunity to a ruthless dictator to continue to gas his people,” Kerry told “Fox News Sunday” host Chris Wallace.