The Weekend Watering Hole, Saturday, January 7th-8th, 2017: Russian Roulette

Here’s some of the most recent articles about the U.S. intelligence agencies’ report on the Russian influence in Trump’s election.

First, here’s a PDF of the report itself.

Next we have relevant articles from yesterday’s Washington Post and the New York Times.

And then a couple of articles on Trump’s post-intelligence-briefing statements, one from the NY Times, and one from this morning’s Raw Story. Apparently Trump took time from his preoccupation with Arnold and The Apprentice to tweet a few idiocies while avoiding the ‘yuge’ Russian elephant in his room.

What will it take for Trump, his minions, and the GOP to finally admit that the chambers in the Russian Roulette revolver aren’t all empty?

This is our Open Thread – join in with whatever you want to talk about.

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The Watering Hole: Wednesday, June 20, 2012: Does it really Matter?

Ok, so for the next few months, if you’re in a “swing” State, you’ll be inundated with SuperPAC commercials designed to get you to vote against your own best interests. We will also be systematically bombarded with messages from the Mainstream Media designed to influence our thinking.

IT’S ALL A SHOW. IT REALLY DOESN’T MATTER.

If the Powers That Be really want Obama out, all they have to do is raise gas prices to about $5.00/gallon. Instead, gas prices are going down, heading into the summer vacation season. That’s not to say they won’t go up between now and the election – but they are an accurate predictor of where our economy will head. So, pay attention to the pump, not the talking heads.

Ok, that’s my $0.0199 cents. And you?

OPEN THREAD
JUST REMEMBER
EVERYTHING I SAID
DOESN’T REALLY MATTER

 

The FBI Forgets the Fourth

I seriously have to wonder just what it means to some people to “support and defend the Constitution of the United States.” The FBI has decided to update its operations manual, which they like to call the Domestic Investigations and Operations Guide, (last updated under the previous Attorney General, Michael Mukasey), and for being such good guardians of the Constitution, they decided to let themselves have more power to abuse and ignore it.

According to the New York Times, the FBI will be allowing its agents “more leeway to search databases, go through household trash or use surveillance teams to scrutinize the lives of people who have attracted their attention.”

The F.B.I. recently briefed several privacy advocates about the coming changes. Among them, Michael German, a former F.B.I. agent who is now a lawyer for the American Civil Liberties Union, argued that it was unwise to further ease restrictions on agents’ power to use potentially intrusive techniques, especially if they lacked a firm reason to suspect someone of wrongdoing.

“Claiming additional authorities to investigate people only further raises the potential for abuse,” Mr. German said, pointing to complaints about the bureau’s surveillance of domestic political advocacy groups and mosques and to an inspector general’s findings in 2007 that the F.B.I. had frequently misused “national security letters,” which allow agents to obtain information like phone records without a court order.

The FBI General Counsel, Valerie E. Caproni, said that steps were taken to fix the problem with National Security Letters and that the problem would not recur. But unless their fix involved eliminating their use altogether, I do not see how they would be constitutional under the Fourth Amendment. The proposed changes may seem minor but they are insidious.

Some of the most notable changes apply to the lowest category of investigations, called an “assessment.” The category, created in December 2008, allows agents to look into people and organizations “proactively” and without firm evidence for suspecting criminal or terrorist activity.

Under current rules, agents must open such an inquiry before they can search for information about a person in a commercial or law enforcement database. Under the new rules, agents will be allowed to search such databases without making a record about their decision.

Mr. German said the change would make it harder to detect and deter inappropriate use of databases for personal purposes. But Ms. Caproni said it was too cumbersome to require agents to open formal inquiries before running quick checks. She also said agents could not put information uncovered from such searches into F.B.I. files unless they later opened an assessment.

In other words, they don’t want to get a warrant to search your company’s databases because it would take too long. But if they found something they could use, they could open the assessment later and then use it. I always thought that was something they liked to call “fruit of a poisoned tree.” Information illegally obtained cannot be the basis for obtaining more information legally. (I invite any lawyers out there to correct me where I am wrong. I’m a grown boy, I can take it.)

The new rules will also relax a restriction on administering lie-detector tests and searching people’s trash. Under current rules, agents cannot use such techniques until they open a “preliminary investigation,” which — unlike an assessment — requires a factual basis for suspecting someone of wrongdoing. But soon agents will be allowed to use those techniques for one kind of assessment, too: when they are evaluating a target as a potential informant.

Agents have asked for that power in part because they want the ability to use information found in a subject’s trash to put pressure on that person to assist the government in the investigation of others. But Ms. Caproni said information gathered that way could also be useful for other reasons, like determining whether the subject might pose a threat to agents.

Again, they want to conduct warrant-less searches in the interests of time and then claim that what they found was legal afterwards. The United States Constitution requires that all persons working for the government take an oath to support and defend it. That includes the Fourth Amendment which reads:

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

I truly do not understand how what the FBI is prepared to allow themselves to do does not violate that Amendment. Do you?

(Cross-posted at Pick Wayne’s Brain)

OPEN THREAD: Who is Ali Soufan?

Ali Soufan, FBI agent, testified today at the congressional hearing on the Bush Administration’s detention and interrogation program led by Senator Whitehouse. He testified that he had interrogated Abu Zubaydah and garnered significant information from him before enhanced interrogation and water boarding of him by the CIA began.

From Wikipedia:

The FBI Interrogation of Abu Zubaydah: Pre-CIA

Following Abu Zubaydah’s capture he was interrogated by FBI agents Ali Soufan and Steve Gaudin. The interrogation followed standard FBI protocol and involved cleaning and dressing Abu Zubaydah’s wounds. Ali Soufan stated in a Newsweek article in April, 2009 “We kept him alive… It wasn’t easy, he couldn’t drink, he had a fever. I was holding ice to his lips.”[86] The agents attempted to convince Abu Zubaydah that they knew of his activities in languages he understood; English and Arabic. Both agents believed they were making good progress in gathering intelligence from Abu Zubayda: He disclosed Khalid Sheihkh Muhamed’s alias, “Mukhtar,” as well as other details of the attacks on New York and Washington D.C. Abu Aubzaydah also revealed the identity of Jose Padilla to the FBI agents.

Why the “Who is Ali Soufan?” Because already the right wing pundits are discrediting him as a disgruntled former FBI agent.

ABC News: AIG Under Criminal Investigation

Truthout

Investigations

The statement called for an “investigation of the validity of A.I.G.’s past accounting and securities disclosures and its executive compensation program by the Office of Thrift Supervision, the Securities and Exchange Commission, and the FBI.”

“I think that A.I.G. is simply one of the most obvious examples where their accounting was false. Fraudulent accounting at a publicly traded company is securities fraud and that’s a felony,” Professor Black told Truthout.

Continue reading

No-mo Gitmo!

President Barack Obama began overhauling U.S. treatment of terror suspects Thursday, signing orders to close the Guantanamo Bay detention center, shut down secret overseas CIA prisons, review military war crimes trials and ban the harshest interrogation methods.

Now, I was thinking, perhaps it shouldn’t be closed entirely. It would be the ideal facility to house, try, and hold members of the previous administration for international war crimes, crimes against humanity, state-sponsored terrorist acts….

Former Haliburton Exec Pleads Guilty

As a Haliburton executive Albert “Jack” Stanley is well known in the world of Big Oil for his ability to secure billion dollar contracts in third world countries.

In the wake of his admission in a guilty plea last week that he had resorted to bribes, kickbacks and high-level corruption to secure deals in Nigeria, however, Stanley now lies at the center of a widening scandal in the oil industry that has implications for corporations and governments across the globe.

Stanley’s case is the first in what federal officials believe will be a string of indictments in coming months against U.S. corporate executives who have participated in bribing foreign officials in recent years.

Previously Stanley had said that Vice President Dick Cheney, who was CEO of Halliburton at the time, had no knowledge of the bribes. At the time though Stanley was not a cooperating witness. Stanley’s sentence will be determined based on his compliance with the plea agreement. Stanley’s attorney, Larry Veselka, has said that his client will cooperate fully in any investigation. Cheney’s office has refused to comment citing continuing litigation.

And the FBI is actively involved in this case so this case is not likely to disappear into the realm of the Justice Department.

The active involvement of the FBI is particularly worrisome to such people. In contrast to white-collar investigations handled by the Justice Department and the Securities and Exchange Commission, the FBI is believed to be prepared to use techniques more familiar to investigations of organized crime, including wiretapping and undercover agents.

There is much, much more to this story from ProPublica and PBS’ “Frontline”.

HT joe cantwell

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