Streamed live on Sep 15, 2014
Posts tagged ‘NSA’
Kinda my top 5 Whistleblowers List
(note : names are links to persons Wiki page)
a lonely warrior of truth
18 years in Jail for exposing the Israeli Nukes program at Dimona .
fighting uphill for 9/11 truth
A former CIA asset who claims that parts of the US Government did had foreknowledge about the 9/11 attacks .
Soldier with a concience
Deprived of his social life, J. Assange is in hiding from Uk and Swedish Authorities in the Ecuadorian embassy in London for 3 whole years now .
Pvt. Manning got sentenced to a total of 35 years for handling over things like the video below .
a logical 3. truth on 9/11
Currently in hiding, D. Khalezov 9/11 Truther and former Soviet nuclear military asset explains us how 180 000 tons of steel can be transformed (in just 12 seconds) into microscopic dust + more .
Godfather of leaks and burglar for truth ?
NSA, Prism, spying . you name it .
seems like Edward and his Collaborators are the Persons of the hour .
When National Security Agency (NSA) contractor Edward Snowden first revealed himself in a video interview five months ago as the source of leaked documents exposing the NSA’s collection of phone and data records of U.S. citizens, he noted: “The greatest fear that I have regarding the outcome for America of these disclosures is that nothing will change.”
Despite the rapid pace of the NSA revelations, the subsequent claims and counterclaims of U.S. officials (and the fact that nobody possesses the policy, technical, operational, and legal background required to accurately characterize these stories and place them within a proper historical and global context), there’s still one thing that can no longer be denied: The Snowden-supplied documents have instigated a global conversation about U.S. surveillance that will undoubtedly result in changes to the scope and conduct of certain NSA programs. And in fact, it’s happening already.
Within the last week alone we have learned that the Obama administration authorized an internal review that brought to light the existence of a program used to spy on numerous world leaders, including German Chancellor Angela Merkel. (This investigation complements an independent review of U.S. surveillance efforts conducted by former officials and experts, which will present its findings by year’s end.) Even the staunch defender of the NSA, Senate Select Committee on Intelligence chair Sen. Dianne Feinstein, announced: “the committee will initiate a major review into all intelligence collection programs.” Secretary of State John Kerry admitted that U.S. electronic surveillance was “on an automatic pilot because the technology is there,” and “in some cases, it has reached too far inappropriately.” And for the first time since the Snowden leaks, White House spokesperson Jay Carney acknowledged the agency’s overreach saying, “We recognize that there need to be additional constraints on how we gather and use intelligence.”
Yet, Snowden’s most meaningful and enduring impact will not be prompting U.S. electronic surveillance policy reform. Rather, what these five post-Snowden months have demonstrated is that inflating terrorist threats to justify expansive and invasive executive branch powers no longer resonates with the general public or most policymakers. That default appeal to 9/11 and vague warnings of terrorism that Bush and Obama administration officials relied upon to shape opinions and silence critics is no longer sufficient or acceptable.
Sill, intelligence officials continue to defend the NSA as just another federal agency dedicated solely to protecting American citizens from terrorism. In his opening testimony before the House Permanent Intelligence Committee last week, NSA Director Gen. Keith Alexander re-used this same old trope:
“First, how did we get here? How did we end up here? 9/11 — 2,996 people were killed in 9/11. We all distinctly remember that. What I remember the most was those firemen running up the stairs to save people, to there themselves lose their lives. We had this great picture that was created afterward of a fireman handing a flag off to the military, and I’d say the intelligence community, and the military and the intelligence community said: ‘We’ve got it from here.'”
Sorry, Keith: the NSA was not created on Sept. 12, 2001, but came into existence on Nov. 4, 1952. Its purpose was — and, in theory, still is — to collect and process communications intelligence in order to identify threats and opportunities for a range of diplomatic, military, and economic activities. (Preceded by the Armed Forces Security Agency, established in 1949, the Army’s Signal Intelligence Service (1930), and the Army’s Cipher Bureau (1917), the NSA was established with NSC Intelligence Directive No. 9 and authorized to be responsible for all national communications intelligence gathering.) It has been resourced and supported through its success and failures by senior decision-makers ever since for the unique information advantages that only it can provide. But, employing a selective narrative of the tragedy of 9/11 for political advantage, and rationalizing the NSA’s activities by directly linking them to Ground Zero should be condemned.
Likewise, General Alexander claimed that terrorist fatalities have never been higher:
“If you look at the trends in the [counterterrorism] arena, in 2012, it was the highest globally that it’s been ever. Over 15,000 people killed…. And yet, there has not been a mass casualty here in the U.S. since 2001.”
Here again, he’s resorting to playing fast and loose with facts. According to the State Department’s annual counterterrorism data — which, as of 2012, is compiled by the University of Maryland’s National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism — global terror deaths have generally decreased from a high of 22,719 in 2007, to 11,098 in 2012. To be fair, there are methodological problems with categorizing terror deaths, and Alexander might have used an alternative database. Nevertheless, there were no international terrorism mass casualty events in the United States before or after 2001. And overemphasizing the NSA’s role in either causing 9/11, or preventing subsequent 9/11s, misses the inadequate government-wide response to al Qaeda that the 9/11 Commission found, and diminishes the important counterterror activities of non-NSA agencies. Moreover, this logic implies both that 9/11 necessitated the NSA’s expanded authorities, and that the absence of additional mass casualty attacks requires that all existing authorities must remain intact.
Consider also a June 24 NSA document, obtained by Al Jazeera America via a Freedom of Information Act request, titled: “Media Leaks Master TPs (talking points).” The very first one, under “sound bites that resonate,” reads “I much prefer to be here today explaining these programs, than explaining another 9/11 event that we were not able to prevent.” This 25-page document of behind-the-scenes media guidance for “Congress, the media and anyone else within the Obama administration surrounding the leak of information related to NSA surveillance activities,” only confirmed what Americans have been hearing all along from senior officials: rationalize NSA, CIA, DOD, DHS, or FBI conduct by repeating 9/11.
One can hardly blame General Alexander and NSA public affairs officers from promoting counterterrorism — and consciously omitting other missions — to justify and protect their authorities, or shield dedicated staffers from condemnation and scrutiny. Yet Americans increasingly recognize that our political discourse, protection of First Amendment rights, respect for civil liberties, and conduct of foreign policy are overwhelmingly determined by our perceptions of terrorism. Government officials who seek maximum authority with minimum transparency shape those perceptions by constantly re-reminding Americans about 9/11 and inflating terrorist threats.
Yes, U.S. officials have to manage their obligation to the public and Congress to describe their agency’s activities as completely and accurately as possible, without revealing classified sources and methods. But General Alexander’s way of relaying the NSA’s activities with selective language that plays upon America’s resonant fears of international terrorism is a failing strategy. As David Rohde wrote last week, “The United States’ obsession with al Qaeda is doing more damage to the nation than the terrorist group itself.” Nicholas Kristof further noted that: “For a dozen years, security has been an obsession, rarely constrained by a weighing of trade-offs, and to what result? We have sought every tactical advantage, and this sometimes leads — as in eavesdropping of foreign allies — to strategic losses.”
There’s yet another problem with this approach, one that journalists have (selectively) reported based on documents that show that what the NSA says it does simply not match up with what it actually does. This chasm between justification and practice leaves the agency open to charges of hypocrisy or deceit. As Scott Shane’s excellent survey of NSA activities summarizes: “Obama and top intelligence officials have defended the agency’s role in preventing terrorist attacks. But as the documents make clear, the focus on counterterrorism is a misleadingly narrow sales pitch for an agency with an almost unlimited agenda.” As the “mission” section of the NSA’s own website declares:
The National Security Agency/Central Security Service (NSA/CSS) leads the U.S. Government in cryptology that encompasses both Signals Intelligence (SIGINT) and Information Assurance (IA) products and services, and enables Computer Network Operations (CNO) in order to gain a decision advantage for the Nation and our allies under all circumstances.”
What recent reporting has proven is that the NSA is not, in fact, a rogue agency, but rather one that is doing exactly what its galactically broad and all-encompassing mission entails. The violation is in misleading the nation — indeed the world — as to what that mission is, shrinking it down to just one line of action. It is a pretense that the Obama administration and intelligence community officials should cease.
Snowden has brought forth a national debate about electronic surveillance that is not only worthwhile but long overdue. One hopes that it is broadened to protect U.S. citizens from the vastly more intrusive and comprehensive private sector surveillance and tracking as U.S. surveillance programs are investigated further. Snowden will likely play an essential role in changing how people think about state surveillance and personal privacy. Tolerating U.S. officials’ mischaracterization of the world as one of innumerable terror threats, and then misrepresent their agencies as responding solely to such inflated threats, is far more damaging than the activities of any one agency, including the NSA. But beyond that, officials are learning the hard way that simply shouting “terrorism” in a crowded policy debate is no longer a convincing call to action.
Thu, 24 Oct 2013 20:12 CDT
Early in the morning on June 18, a brand new Mercedes C250 coupe was driving through the Melrose intersection on Highland Avenue in Hollywood when suddenly, out of nowhere, it sped up. According to an eye-witness, the car accelerated rapidly, bounced several times then fishtailed out of control before it slammed into a palm tree and burst into flames, ejecting its engine some 200 feet away.
A witness, Jose Rubalcalva, whose house stood adjacent to the crash, told Ana Kasparian of The Young Turks news network that no one could approach the burning car because it kept exploding. In a simulated full-frontal crash of a 2013 C250 coupe, the car doesn’t explode on impact nor does it launch its engine 200 feet.
In fact, said Nael Issa, a Mercedes Benz dealer in Long Beach, “The car has a crumble zone, so when it crashes it goes in like an accordion. And in some cases the engine drops down, so it doesn’t go into you.”
The driver in the fatal crash was Michael Hastings, a 33-year-old crack investigative reporter for Rolling Stone magazine, whose June 2010 article, “The Runaway General,” exposed the behind-the-scenes failure of top U.S. General Stanley McChrystal’s counterinsurgency strategy in Afghanistan – and, even more damagingly, revealed McChrystal’s mocking attitude toward the Obama administration, which ultimately led to the general’s resignation.
Four months after Hastings’s so-called accident, and despite scant coverage in the mainstream media, new facts and evidence continue to emerge raising serious unanswered questions about whether the journalist was assassinated, the breadth of unconventional cyber-techniques that may have been used, and who might have been responsible.
Threats, Fears and Lies
Hastings’s pivotal article for Rolling Stone actually went beyond revealing Gen. McChrystal’s flawed leadership of U.S. forces in Afghanistan and his scorn for the Commander-in-Chief. In addition it drew on McChrystal’s former role as the commander of Joint Special Operations Command, or JSOC, a covert elite unit whose kill operations are routinely unaccountable to government, resulting in scores of civilian deaths by U.S. hands in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia and elsewhere that have gone unexamined and unpunished. (JSOC’s activities feature prominently in the book Dirty Wars by investigative journalist Jeremy Scahill, which was subsequently made into an award-winning film that premiered at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival.
Hastings continued to report stories that illuminated the darker side of U.S. military actions, including an investigation into the Army’s deployment of psyops, or psychological operations, on U.S. senators visiting combat zones in order to secure more war funding.
In Hastings’s 2012 book,”The Operators: The Wild and Terrifying Inside Story of America’s War in Afghanistan, Hastings wrote about being approached by one of Gen. McChrystal’s aides. “We’ll hunt you down and kill you if we don’t like what you write,” said the unnamed aide, who afterwards apologized to Hastings for his remarks.
Hastings later wrote, “I wasn’t disturbed by the claim. Whenever I’d been reporting around groups of dudes whose job it was to kill people, one of them would usually mention that they were going to kill me.”
But never did those fears escalate the way they did during the final days and moments of Hastings’s life.
L.A. Weekly interviewed Hastings’s neighbor, Jordanna Thigpen, who said Hastings was convinced that he was a target of surveillance after reading about the Department of Justice’s seizure of AP phone records in May. He became even more wary, she said, when details about the NSA’s domestic spying programs emerged in early June through former contractor Edward Snowden.
“He was scared, and he wanted to leave town,” Thigpen said.
The story that Hastings was working on at the time of his death centered around CIA Director John Brennan, the chief architect of President Obama’s foreign drone program. It related specifically to Brennan’s role as the administration’s point man tracking investigative journalists and their sources in Washington.
This email from Stratfor, a CIA-connected private security firm whose emails were hacked and released to the public by Wikileaks in February of last year, reveals that Brennan was indeed behind the “witch hunts of investigative journalists.”
The night of his death, Hastings had contacted Wikileaks attorney Jennifer Robinson and sent an email to his colleagues at the news site BuzzFeed, saying he was working on a big story and was “going off the rada[r],” citing fears over federal authorities interviewing his friends. Hastings blind-copied his friend, the Staff Sgt. Joe Biggs, whom Hastings had known from his time embedded in Afghanistan.
According to L.A. Weekly, just hours before the deadly crash Hastings had asked to borrow his neighbor’s Volvo because he suspected his own car’s computer system had been hacked.
The Los Angeles Police Department said repeatedly it suspects no foul play. Questioned after Hastings’s death, the FBI confirmed that the journalist was not under any investigation.
But those statements were directly contradicted in September when redacted FBI documents surfaced following a Freedom of Information Act request by the news network Al Jazeera, which showed that Hastings was in fact under investigation for a story in which he had interviewed a U.S. soldier who had been captured in Afghanistan.
Is This What Cyber-Assassination Looks Like?
In an era of unsanctioned drone warfare – where a man operating a joystick in New Mexico can carry out the remote-controlled assassination of any person worldwide who shows up on the President’s “kill list” – it may not be far-fetched to imagine that similar capabilities, and techniques, are being employed closer to home.
Richard Clarke, the counterterrorism chief under both Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, told the Huffington Post that Hastings’s crash looked “consistent with a car cyber attack.”
What did he mean? According to Stefan Savage, a computer science professor at the University of California, San Diego, any modern vehicle’s computer system made by any manufacturer can be hacked.
In a phone interview with Occupy.com, Savage described a series of experiments that he and his team conducted, in which they remotely hacked a car’s computer systems. “If you’re talking about where people have arbitrary control of a car, that takes a significant amount of time,” Savage said. “If you want to take it over and break it, that’s less complicated.”
Savage explained that all computers in a car are connected to one another, bridged by one component and compromised by that same component. As a result, he said, “We could listen to conversations in the car, and could take over everything in the drivetrain, like acceleration and brakes, through a cellular network.”
In terms of range and power to manipulate a vehicle remotely, he said, “We found vulnerabilities from 1,000 miles away.”
After the successful experiments were reported, Savage noted a huge response from manufacturers that spurred new innovations in cybersecurity for car computer systems. “They’ve spent millions of dollars on hiring new people, and acknowledged that [cybersecurity] is something they need to take seriously,” he said.
After the fiery crash, Hastings’s charred remains were quickly cremated, but not before the L.A. coroner released a report indicating the journalist had trace amounts of methamphetamine and marijuana in his system. Mainstream media jumped on the angle, eager to dismiss Hastings’s complex backstory in favor of the simpler line: he was another young, talented, but out-of-control drug addict who had tragically ended his own life.
Despite NBC Southern California plainly reporting that the drugs in Hastings’s body were ruled to have had nothing to do with the crash, it didn’t stop the media from smearing Hastings in its coverage.
“When Michael embarrassed [the media] by writing a story about what the military is actually up to, the universal refrain was, ‘How dare you!'” said Cenk Uygur, host of The Young Turks and a friend of Hastings. “Anytime someone sticks their head up and doesn’t go along, they’re universally despised by the establishment. They were jealous of him, too. The media was not a fan of Michael, at all.”
On a CNN segment broadcast shortly after Gen. McChrystal’s forced resignation, CBS chief foreign correspondent Lara Logan said, “Michael Hastings has never served his country the way McChrystal has.” Hastings’s “Runaway General” article had drawn Pentagon apologists out of the woodwork, who condemned him for breaking what anonymous sources for the Washington Post and ABC News called unspoken journalistic ground rules.
As Uygur further explained: “All the large media conglomerates have some tie to getting contracts from the government. Whether Comcast needed approval for a merger, or GE needed a defense contract, every one of those giant corporations needs something from the government. So it’s become a synergistic environment – Comcast gives the government something, the government gives Comcast something else.
“The implicit message is: Don’t rock the boat, and keep the gravy train coming,” Uygur said.
A Chilling Brand of Outsourcing
In the last four months, amid heightened tensions over government spying and a widening pursuit of whistleblowers, many have speculated that Hastings’s death was the product of a conspiracy involving the CIA, NSA, FBI or other federal agencies. What has been less discussed is the possibility that Hastings was assassinated by private contractors – conceivably the same types who were involved or affiliated with operations in Iraq or Afghanistan, thousands of whom remain active today.
Even after private defense contractors committed gross and punishable offenses overseas, those same firms continue to receive no-bid contracts from the U.S. government with zero accountability for their crimes. KBR’s showers electrocuted troops while their administrators forced gang-rape victims to sign mandatory arbitration agreements that prevented them from suing. Halliburton overcharged the government by tens of millions of dollars. And Erik Prince, founder of Blackwater/Xe, was himself implicated in a murder and has spoken of leading an anti-Muslim crusade through his company.
This infographic shows the alarming amount of money – some $3.3 trillion – spent on private military contractors since 9/11. But what rarely gets discussed, beyond the dollars wasted and the crimes committed by private war-profiteering corporations, is the pervasive, growing sense of domination of these mega-firms in the past decade that have solidified their rule over U.S. military and foreign policy decisions.
The question that Hastings’s unexplained death poses is whether those same private, militarized forces may be bringing the war home as they deploy technology and battlefield-honed tactics to ensure that deeper truths remain unseen — and that nothing threatens the bottom line.
“The government empowers these private individuals and corporations to do almost everything they want,” continued Uygur, “including hiring them to kill people. And you’re going to be surprised when they keep doing that with the same impunity they’ve always had? It’s only a matter of time.”
Hastings was a frequent contributor to The Young Turks, and Uygur said when Hastings moved to Los Angeles, they often talked before and after each show. Uygur said there were a lot of private contractors who didn’t like Hastings.
“At some point,” Uygur suggested, “will they take the law into their own hands, and say, ‘Well, if we were hired to kill people in Iraq and Afghanistan, why not kill them over here?’ Have they done that? I have no idea.”
In Search of the Facts
Just south of the Melrose intersection on Highland Avenue, in Hollywood’s Hancock Park neighborhood, the palm tree where Michael Hastings’s car crashed and exploded in flames in June remains scorched black about 20 feet high. Parts of the car are buried in the base of the tree, where a poster is attached that reads, “THE TRUTH WILL SET YOU FREE” on one line, and “#HASTINGS” on another. A military medal is also pinned to the tree, and these photos taken by a local woman of the Hastings memorial show it at its busiest earlier in the summer.
“His friends and family who know him, everyone says he drives like a grandma, so that right there doesn’t seem like something that he would be doing,” said Hastings’s friend, the Staff Sgt. Joe Biggs, in an interview with Fox News’s Megyn Kelly one week after the crash. “He had a lot of friends and family that cared about him. He had a good life to live. There’s no way he would be acting erratic like that and acting that out of control.”
Hastings’s last article, published on BuzzFeed, exposed Democratic Party leaders including President Obama, Secretary of State John Kerry and Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin for their support of the same domestic spying programs they had criticized during the Bush years, but which they worked to expand under the Obama administration.
One of Hastings’s most remembered lines is this: “When writing for a mass audience, put a fact in every sentence.” And as facts go, the truth behind Michael Hastings’s death, whether he was intentionally killed and by whom, may be opening a much bigger, broader and more dangerous story than the Americans he was writing for are prepared to face.