Daily Gnuz

Monday – first week of December – the Gnuz look thusly:

McConnell predicts unpopular tax bill will be a winning issue for GOP
H/T WaPo
RUC predicts McTurtle is wrong, and 2018 elections will tell.

Trump: I knew Michael Flynn lied to the FBI when I fired him
H/T Vox
How dumb is someone who tweets his way to admitting obstruction of justice? Prezidunce.

GOP analyst predicts John Kelly exit after learning Trump secretly sabotages him: ‘How long can he take it?’
H/T Raw Story
Apparently Herr Drumpf has been doing secret assignments going end run on his Chief of Staff. How many ex-generals can you piss off, before you get pissed on?

Open Thread, chew it up and spit it out!

RUCerious @ PZoo

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.

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.


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?



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



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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Hang on.. Not so fast!


Lawmakers Seek Anthrax Details

A month after the F.B.I. declared that an Army scientist was the anthrax killer, leading members of Congress are demanding more information about the seven-year investigation, saying they do not think the bureau has proved its case.

In a letter sent Friday to Robert S. Mueller III, the director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Democratic leaders of the House Judiciary Committee said that “important and lingering questions remain that are crucial for you to address, especially since there will never be a trial to examine the facts of the case.”

The scientist, Bruce E. Ivins, committed suicide in July, and Mr. Mueller is likely to face demands for additional answers about the anthrax case when he appears before the House and Senate Judiciary Committees on Sept. 16 and 17.

“My conclusion at this point is that it’s very much an open matter,” Senator Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania, the top Republican on the Senate committee, said of the strength of the case against Dr. Ivins, a microbiologist at the Army’s biodefense laboratory who worked on anthrax vaccines. “There are some very serious questions that have yet to be answered and need to be made public.”

Read entire article…

Remember those pesky Anthrax letters..?

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MORE ON THIS NEWS: Glenn Greenwald (excellent! A MUST-READ!!) and American Everyman (H/T:neoke17)

Raw Story U.S. anthrax suspect commits suicide: report

A top U.S. biodefence researcher apparently committed suicide just as the Justice Department was about to file criminal charges against him in the anthrax mailings that traumatized the country in the weeks following the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, according to a published report.

The scientist, Bruce E. Ivins, 62, who worked for the past 18 years at the government’s biodefense labs at Fort Detrick, Md., had been told about the impending prosecution, the Los Angeles Times reported for Friday editions. The laboratory has been at the centre of the FBI’s investigation of the anthrax attacks, which killed five people.

Mr. Ivins died Tuesday at Frederick (Md.) Memorial Hospital. The Times, quoting an unidentified colleague, said the scientist had taken a massive dose of a prescription Tylenol mixed with codeine.

Tom Ivins, a brother of the scientist, told The Associated Press that another of his brothers, Charles, told him Bruce had committed suicide. More…

From The Washington PostMd. Anthrax Scientist Dies in Apparent Suicide

Grand Jury Was Preparing to Indict Bioweapons Expert for Role in 2001 Anthrax Attacks

Prosecutors were considering whether to seek the death penalty against Bruce E. Ivins, 62, who worked at an elite U.S. Army bioweapons laboratory in Fort Detrick, the sources said.

Paul F. Kemp, a criminal defense lawyer in Bethesda who has represented Ivins for the past year, declined to comment today but issued a statement that confirmed the federal investigation. He also asserted Ivins’ innocence.

“For more than a year, we have been privileged to represent Dr. Bruce Ivins during the investigation of the anthrax deaths of September and October of 2001,” Kemp said. “We assert his innocence in these killings, and would have established that at trial.

Color me surprised! I didn’t know that anyone in the government still had any interest in those Anthrax mailings.. And here they had a new “person of interest”! And now he’s ‘committed suicide’ and can’t answer any questions.. (Why is always suicide or a plane crash..?)

For those of you who don’t remember those Anthrax mailings of 2001,
refresh yourself here.

Continue reading

White House fearful of prosecution…

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Harpers Magazine interviewed Jane Mayer, the author of The Dark SideAn inside story of how the war on terror turned into a war on American ideals. This book is a series of articles which chronicle the Bush’s administrations involvement with torture and the individuals that helped make it happen.

In a series of gripping articles, Jane Mayer has chronicled the Bush Administration’s grim and furtive dealings with torture and has exposed both the individuals within the administration who “made it happen” (a group that starts with Vice President Cheney and his chief of staff, David Addington), the team of psychologists who put together the palette of techniques, and the Fox television program “24,” which was developed to help sell it to the American public.

The interview involved six questions which can be found here… I highly recommend reading this interview in it’s entirety.

What I found striking was Jane Mayer’s response to the first question which included this statement:

Activists will be angry at me for saying this, but as someone who has covered politics in Washington, D.C., for two decades, I would be surprised if there is the political appetite for going after public servants who convinced themselves that they were acting in the best interests of the country, and had legal authority to do so. An additional complicating factor is that key members of Congress sanctioned this program, so many of those who might ordinarily be counted on to lead the charge are themselves compromised.

Much will depend on who the next president and attorney general are, and how much pressure they feel. At the very least, as a journalist, I hope that the records are opened, and all the legal memos released (several crucial ones remain secret) so that the country can learn its own history here. My guess is that the real accountability for President Bush will be in the history books, not the court room.

Remember, there are both Democrats and Republicans that sit on the Intelligence Committees and these legislators were informed of the torture programs as developed by the Bush administration. This would make them both accessory before and after the fact.

The reaction of top Bush Administration officials to the ICRC report, from what I can gather, has been defensive and dismissive. They reject the ICRC’s legal analysis as incorrect. Yet my reporting shows that inside the White House there has been growing fear of criminal prosecution, particularly after the Supreme Court ruled in the Hamdan case that the Geneva Conventions applied to the treatment of the detainees. This nervousness resulted in the successful effort to add retroactive immunity to the Military Commission Act. Cheney personally spearheaded this effort. Fear of the consequences of exposure also weighed heavily in discussions about whether to shut the CIA program down. In White House meetings, Cheney warned that if they transferred the CIA’s prisoners to Guantanamo, “people will want to know where they have been—and what we’ve been doing with them.” Alberto Gonzales, a source said, “scared” everyone about the possibility of war crimes prosecutions. It was on their minds.

(I added the emphasis)

Well, now I understand why there was this big push to pass the Military Commission Act back in the Fall of 2006. And to think that most Congress men and women didn’t even read this bill. My Congressman told me that he voted in favor of this bill because Nancy Pelosi told him to vote “yea” and he did. She wields a strong arm in the Democratic Congress.

Wait, there’s even more… Cheney and his buddies have been carrying around a grudge ever since Watergate and they saw 9/11 as an opportunity to strike back.

After interviewing hundreds of sources in and around the Bush White House, I think it is clear that many of the legal steps taken by the so-called “War Council” were less a “New Paradigm,” as Alberto Gonzales dubbed it, than an old political wish list, consisting of grievances that Cheney and his legal adviser, David Addington, had been compiling for decades. Cheney in particular had been chafing at the post-Watergate reforms, and had longed to restore the executive branch powers Nixon had assumed, constituting what historian Arthur Schlesinger Jr. called “the Imperial Presidency.

Then there is the matter of the recent FISA bill and Congressional members’ knowledge of the illegal spying when it first took place.

From Salon:

Continue reading

Chertoff lays a big one

Peter Swire, a guest blogger on ThinkProgress has written a post about Michael Chertoff’s denial that fingerprints are not “personal data.”

Wow. Michael Chertoff, Secretary of Homeland Security, used to be a Judge on the United States Court of Appeals AND was an assistant U.S. Attorney General. I thought you had to know stuff have jobs like that?

Recently, Chertoff was in Canada discussing the so-called “Server in the Sky” program, which would share iris, palm and fingerprint information between the US, Canada, the UK, and Australia. Scary business all by itself, check out the link.

In a recent briefing with Canadian press (which has yet to be picked up in the U.S.), Chertoff made the startling statement that fingerprints are “not particularly private”:

QUESTION: Some are raising that the privacy aspects of this thing, you know, sharing of that kind of data, very personal data, among four countries is quite a scary thing.

SECRETARY CHERTOFF: Well, first of all, a fingerprint is hardly personal data because you leave it on glasses and silverware and articles all over the world, they’re like footprints. They’re not particularly private.

You know what?  This is not a mistake for someone like Chertoff (see his job history, above), this is a blatant lie.  He knows very well that fingerprints are personal data.  His own Department of Homeland Security disagrees with him:

In its definition of “personally identifiable information” — the information that triggers a Privacy Impact Assessment when used by government — the Department specifically lists: “biometric identifiers (e.g., fingerprints).”

But let’s not let truth or facts get in the way of what we want, right Mr Chertoff?

Here’s why fingerprints and other personal data are “extremely personal data.”

A quick web search on “fake fingerprints” turns up cheap and easy methods for do-it-at-home fake fingerprints. As discussed by noted security expert Bruce Schneier, one technique is available for under $10. It was tried “against eleven commercially available fingerprint biometric systems, and was able to reliably fool all of them.” Secretary Chertoff either doesn’t know about these clear results or chooses to ignore them. He said in Canada: “It’s very difficult to fake a fingerprint.”

Monte, I’ll take the box marked “chooses to ignore.”  It makes one wonder if the DHS has been treating our “extremely personal data” in such an off-hand manner all along, eh?

FBI has national eavesdropping program

The Raw Story

The Federal Bureau of Investigation has been routinely monitoring the e-mails, instant messages and cell phone calls of suspects across the United States — and has done so, in many cases, without the approval of a court.

Fourth Amendment, anyone? ANYONE?? Where’s the probable cause? There is none. They want to spy on us, so they do. Like Dear Leader says, “Stop throwing the Constitution in my face! It’s just a god-damned piece of paper.”

Documents released under the Freedom of Information Act and given to the Washington Post — which stuck the story on page three — show that the FBI’s massive dragnet, connected to the backends of telecommunications carriers, “allows authorized FBI agents and analysts, with point-and-click ease, to receive e-mails, instant messages, cellphone calls and other communications that tell them not only what a suspect is saying, but where he is and where he has been, depending on the wording of a court order or a government directive,” the Post says.

But agents don’t need a court order to track to track the senders and recipients names, or how long calls or email exchanges lasted. These can be obtained simply by showing it’s “relevant” to a probe.

Point & click, folks. It’s the new “normal.” How does it feel….really?

Do you experience the slightest bit of unease or hesitation before sending that IM or email? When you’re on an international call, does it run through your mind that you qualify for eavesdropping, even if all you’re doing is filling in Aunt Lou on how big the kids are getting?

It must feel ok, because I don’t see any of us protesting in the streets, or holding our government accountable.

You’ve got nothing to hide? Are you sure? You do realize YOU won’t be the one deciding what’s worthy of hiding. Don’t you?

Bush Weakens Espionage Oversight

By Charlie Savage, Boston Globe (via Common Dreams)

WASHINGTON – Almost 32 years to the day after President Ford created an independent Intelligence Oversight Board made up of private citizens with top-level clearances to ferret out illegal spying activities, President Bush issued an executive order that stripped the board of much of its authority.

The White House did not say why it was necessary to change the rules governing the board when it issued Bush’s order late last month. But critics say Bush’s order is consistent with a pattern of steps by the administration that have systematically scaled back Watergate-era intelligence reforms.

“It’s quite clear that the Bush administration officials who were around in the 1970s are settling old scores now,” said Tim Sparapani, senior legislative counsel to the American Civil Liberties Union. “Here they are even preventing oversight within the executive branch. They have closed the books on the post-Watergate era.”

Ford created the board following a 1975-76 investigation by Congress into domestic spying, assassination operations, and other abuses by intelligence agencies. The probe prompted fierce battles between Congress and the Ford administration, whose top officials included Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, and the current president’s father, George H. W. Bush.

To blunt proposals for new laws imposing greater congressional oversight of intelligence matters, Ford enacted his own reforms with an executive order that went into effect on March 1, 1976. Among them, he created the Intelligence Oversight Board to serve as a watchdog over spying agencies.

“I believe [the changes] will eliminate abuses and questionable activities on the part of the foreign intelligence agencies while at the same time permitting them to get on with their vital work of gathering and assessing information,” Ford told Congress.

The board’s investigations and reports have been mostly kept secret. But the Clinton administration provided a rare window into the panel’s capabilities in 1996 by publishing a board report faulting the CIA for not adequately informing Congress about putting known torturers and killers in Guatemala on its payroll.

But Bush downsized the board’s mandate to be an aggressive watchdog against such problems in an executive order issued on Feb. 29, the eve of the anniversary of the day Ford’s order took effect. The White House said the timing of the new order was “purely coincidental.”

Under the old rules, whenever the oversight board learned of intelligence activity that it believed might be “unlawful or contrary to executive order,” it had a duty to notify both the president and the attorney general. But Bush’s order deleted the board’s authority to refer matters to the Justice Department for a criminal investigation, and the new order said the board should notify the president only if other officials are not already “adequately” addressing the problem.

Bush’s order also terminated the board’s authority to oversee each intelligence agency’s general counsel and inspector general, and it erased a requirement that each inspector general file a report with the board every three months. Now only the agency directors will decide whether to report any potential lawbreaking to the panel, and they have no schedule for checking in.

Gutted the Intelligence Oversight Board like a fish. Now, if the various intelligence heads decide they need to report something on themselves (heh), they report directly to the director of national intelligence — one of their own.

This president just does what he damn well pleases, and covers his hiney with a brand-spankin’ new executive order. Assassinate al Qaeda suspects? Yeah, if we wanna. Wiretap American citizens? Any time we want. Authorize spies to ignore executive orders? You bet.

Frederick A. O. Schwarz Jr.: “What the Bush administration has systematically done is to try to limit both internal oversight – things like the Intelligence Oversight Board – and effective external oversight by the Congress,” Schwarz said, adding, “It’s profoundly disappointing if you understand American history, and it’s profoundly harmful to the United States.”

I’ve got news for you, Mr Schwartz, they aren’t trying to limit oversight — they have limited said oversight.

Disappointed? How about infuriated? Outraged? Disgusted?

Read the whole article here.

FBI Misused Security Letters to Gather Intelligence on Citizens

A Justice Department report concludes that the FBI abused it’s intelligence gathering authority by using administrative orders to obtain personal records of U.S. citizens instead of their intended purpose of investigating foreigners suspected in terrorism or counterintelligence investigations.

There is much to this story but Justice Department Inspector General Glenn A. Fine claims the FBI used these letters to work around the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court after it had rejected the FBI’s request to obtain records. The FBI used national security letters to get the information anyway. And the telecoms, now looking for immunity, were apparently only to happy to help.

The Washington Post The FBI has increasingly used administrative orders to obtain the personal records of U.S. citizens rather than foreigners implicated in terrorism or counterintelligence investigations, and at least once it relied on such orders to obtain records that a special intelligence-gathering court had deemed protected by the First Amendment, according to two government audits released yesterday.

The episode was outlined in a Justice Department report that concluded the FBI had abused its intelligence-gathering privileges by issuing inadequately documented “national security letters” from 2003 to 2006, after which changes were put in place that the
report called sound.

A report a year ago by the Justice Department’s inspector general disclosed that abuses involving national security letters had occurred from 2003 through 2005 and helped provoke the changes. But the report makes it clear that the abuses persisted in 2006 and disclosed that 60 percent of the nearly 50,000 security letters issued that year by the FBI targeted Americans.

Because U.S. citizens enjoy constitutional protections against unreasonable searches and seizures, judicial warrants are ordinarily required for government surveillance. But national security letters are approved only by FBI officials and are not subject to judicial approval; they routinely demand certain types of personal data, such as telephone, e-mail and financial records, while barring the recipient from disclosing that the information was requested or supplied.

Fine said that FBI employees “self-reported” 84 possible violations of laws or guidelines in the use of the letters, in 2006, which “was significantly higher than the number of reported violations in prior years.” But he noted that his office already had begun its initial investigation into the letters by then, which might have contributed to the increase.

About a quarter of the reported incidents were because of mistakes made by telephone or Internet providers, including some in which they provided either the wrong information or disclosed more than the FBI requested. But many of those cases should have been caught by the FBI earlier, Fine said.

Fine also pointed to the FBI’s “troubling” use of the letters to obtain vast quantities of telephone numbers or other records with a single request. Investigators identified 11 such cases, involving information related to about 4,000 phone numbers, that did not comply with USA Patriot Act requirements or that violated FBI guidelines.

The latest findings reignited long-standing criticism from Democrats and civil liberties groups, who said the FBI’s repeated misuse of its information-gathering powers underscores the need for greater oversight by Congress and the courts.

“The fact that these are being used against U.S. citizens, and being used so aggressively, should call into question the claim that these powers are about terrorists and not just about collecting information on all kinds of people,” said Jameel Jaffer, national security director at the American Civil Liberties Union. “They’re basically using national security letters to evade legal requirements that would be enforced if there were judicial oversight.

Read more on this at the Washington Post.

Valerie Plame-Wilson stunned by Edmonds disclosures.


In a recent radio interview, Valerie Wilson says she’s been following Sibel Edmonds’ disclosures in the Sunday Times, and finds them stunning.

The previously covert agent, who had worked in the agency’s counter-proliferation division for years monitoring traffic in the nuclear black market under the guise of a cover company named Brewster Jennings until being outed by Bush Administration officials, was asked about the recent series of explosive stories in the British paper during an interview this morning with Florida radio host Henry Raines of American AM.

Those disclosures include allegations that Brewster Jennings’ real identity as a CIA front company was outed to Turkish officials by then-Asst. Sec. of State for European Affairs Marc Grossman as early as 2001…

No wonder this administration was playing fast and loose with Plame-Wilson’s covert status — her operation was exposed years earlier.  It sends a chill up the spine…

While Plame Wilson offered today that she has “no insight” into the story, other than what has been published by the Times, she joined Edmonds and other whistleblowers such as Daniel Ellsberg in her criticism of the U.S. mainstream media for failing to investigate and report on the story.

“I think it’s very interesting that it’s showing up across the pond and not here at all, in any of our newspapers,” Plame Wilson said.

“It’s fair to say that in general the American media has been extremely intimidated, it’s been supine, and I think it’s let the American people down,” she explained, pointing to the run-up to the Iraq War when the U.S. media, “took simply what the Administration was dishing up and didn’t question it, didn’t analyze it, didn’t go seek secondary sources. And look where we are today as a result of that.”

I guess it’s easy for the American media to fail to do it’s job when the goal is profit or access, rather than reporting actual news.

The rest of this article and a transcript of the radio interview with Valerie Plame-Wilson can be found on BradBlog.

InfraGard: The FBI Deputizes Business

By Matthew Rothschild, The Progressive (via CommonDreams):

Today, more than 23,000 representatives of private industry are working quietly with the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security. The members of this rapidly growing group, called InfraGard, receive secret warnings of terrorist threats before the public does-and, at least on one occasion, before elected officials. In return, they provide information to the government, which alarms the ACLU. But there may be more to it than that. One business executive, who showed me his InfraGard card, told me they have permission to “shoot to kill” in the event of martial law.

InfraGard is “a child of the FBI,” says Michael Hershman, the chairman of the advisory board of the InfraGard National Members Alliance and CEO of the Fairfax Group, an international consulting firm.

InfraGard started in Cleveland back in 1996, when the private sector there cooperated with the FBI to investigate cyber threats.

“Then the FBI cloned it,” says Phyllis Schneck, chairman of the board of directors of the InfraGard National Members Alliance, and the prime mover behind the growth of InfraGard over the last several years.

InfraGard itself is still an FBI operation, with FBI agents in each state overseeing the local InfraGard chapters. (There are now eighty-six of them.) The alliance is a nonprofit organization of private sector InfraGard members.

“We are the owners, operators, and experts of our critical infrastructure, from the CEO of a large company in agriculture or high finance to the guy who turns the valve at the water utility,” says Schneck, who by day is the vice president of research integration at Secure Computing.

“At its most basic level, InfraGard is a partnership between the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the private sector,” the InfraGard website states. “InfraGard chapters are geographically linked with FBI Field Office territories.”

In November 2001, InfraGard had around 1,700 members. As of late January, InfraGard had 23,682 members, according to its website, www.infragard.net, which adds that “350 of our nation’s Fortune 500 have a representative in InfraGard.”

To join, each person must be sponsored by “an existing InfraGard member, chapter, or partner organization.” The FBI then vets the applicant. On the application form, prospective members are asked which aspect of the critical infrastructure their organization deals with. These include: agriculture, banking and finance, the chemical industry, defense, energy, food, information and telecommunications, law enforcement, public health, and transportation.

FBI Director Robert Mueller addressed an InfraGard convention on August 9, 2005. At that time, the group had less than half as many members as it does today. “To date, there are more than 11,000 members of InfraGard,” he said. “From our perspective that amounts to 11,000 contacts . . . and 11,000 partners in our mission to protect America.” He added a little later, “Those of you in the private sector are the first line of defense.”

Read the rest of the article here.

Oh my god, this is terrifying. This is the first thing that came to my mind — one of the fourteen signs of fascism:

Obsession with national security. Inevitably, a national security apparatus was under direct control of the ruling elite. It was usually an instrument of oppression, operating in secret and beyond any constraints. Its actions were justified under the rubric of protecting “national security,” and questioning its activities was portrayed as unpatriotic or even treasonous.

Or, how about this one?

Power of corporations protected. Although the personal life of ordinary citizens was under strict control, the ability of large corporations to operate in relative freedom was not compromised. The ruling elite saw the corporate structure as a way to not only ensure military production (in developed states), but also as an additional means of social control. Members of the economic elite were often pampered by the political elite to ensure a continued mutuality of interests, especially in the repression of “have-not” citizens.

If there’s a viable threat to this country, big business is getting the first “heads up.” That’s a big “IF,” of course. I have no doubt any “threats” reported to Infragard members is as bogus as all the other so-called threats since 9/11. What concerns me is the alleged special status afforded Infragard members. Increased access to information, special “privileges”…

“We were assured that if we were forced to kill someone to protect our infrastructure, there would be no repercussions,” the whistleblower says. “It gave me goose bumps. It chilled me to the bone.”

Read the whole article, and visit the Infragard site. I’ll keep you posted.

HT: RemoveBush

Safeguarding ‘New-cue-lur’ Secrets

AntiWar.com, by Gordon Prather

According to the Sunday Times, Sibel Edmonds has revealed to them details – in defiance of several government gag orders – of how this and several previous administrations “monitored”, but did little or nothing to interfere with, the “infiltration” of Western states by “foreign states” seeking “nuclear secrets.”

Edmonds, a fluent speaker of Turkish and Farsi, was recruited by the FBI in the aftermath of 9/11 to help translate a backlog of recordings – thousands of hours of conversations dating back to 1997 – obtained during an FBI investigation into links between Turks, Pakistanis, Israelis and various Americans, in and out of government.

According to the Times, the Turks and Israelis had planted “moles” in practically every agency or institution involved in nuclear technology. The Turks and their American Turkish Council, Edmonds claimed, often acted as a “conduit,” passing nuclear secrets to Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence, and receiving cash payments in return.

Sibel Edmonds stumbled onto long-standing treason — by doing her job. Did the “backlog” exist simply because it wasn’t a priority to “know” about such activities?

Way back in 1976, metallurgist AQ Khan, had stolen industrial – not “state” – secrets from Urenco, the world’s leading producer of enriched uranium, and returned to Pakistan. According to the Times, Khan then established a clandestine international network to obtain both materials and technology required for enriching uranium in Pakistan.

Why clandestine?

Well, Pakistan, India and Israel were not signatories to the Treaty on Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, not wishing to subject all their activities involving “special nuclear materials” to a Safeguards Agreement with the International Atomic Energy Agency.

That wouldn’t be convenient…but it could be made convenient.

[A]s a direct result of India’s underground testing of what it claimed was a “peaceful” nuclear explosive in 1974, the Nuclear Suppliers Group was established.

Comprised of 44 nuclear-supplier states – including China, Russia, and the United States – NSG members voluntarily agreed to coordinate their export controls governing transfers of civilian nuclear material and nuclear-related equipment and technology to non-nuclear-weapon states.

Why do we have the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty…? Isn’t it important?

This is from the Nuclear Suppliers Group website, regarding it’s purpose:

The primary purpose was to ensure that suppliers uniformly applied a comprehensive set of guidelines to ensure that nuclear cooperation did not contribute to proliferation, and to involve a key non-NPT supplier, France….

NSG members encourage all countries to adhere to the NSG Guidelines as the basis for responsible nuclear export policy….Although suppliers consulted regularly on a bilateral basis, the NSG did not meet throughout the 1980s. (emphasis added)

Brilliant. Continue reading

Sibel Edmonds: ‘Buckle up, there’s much more coming.’

Here is an interview by Luke Ryland with Sibel Edmonds via OpEdNews:

In the last few weeks, UK’s Times has run a series of articles about the so-called ‘Sibel Edmonds case.’ (‘For sale: West’s deadly nuclear secrets, ‘FBI denies file exposing nuclear secrets theft’ and ‘Tip-off thwarted nuclear spy ring probe’)

Former FBI translator Sibel Edmonds stumbled into a world of espionage, nuclear black market, narcotics trafficking, money laundering, and corruption at the highest levels of the US government.

I interviewed Sibel yesterday regarding the current investigation and reporting by the Times, the failures of the US media, and last week’s decision by the Bush administration to legalize the sale of nuclear technology to Turkey, in an apparent to exonerate prior criminal activity by officials in his administration.

Sibel also has some urgent ‘action items’ so that we can stop these dangerous nuclear proliferation activities. I urge you to act on her suggestions.

Read entire article (4 pages)…

You might also want to read this article in Anti-War.com by Justin Raimondo called ” None Dare Call It Treason
Who is stealing our nuclear secrets – and why are they being shielded by the authorities?

Raimondo ties in the Edmonds story to the Valerie Plame Wilson story, and its implications.

More on Sibel Edmonds

TheZoo’s EV reported on the Sibel Edmonds story this morning in the Sunday Times (UK). (Here’s the article again). There’s more that I’d like to add.

A number of people and blogs have come out with posts and articles on Sibel Edmonds this morning.

Here are several: The BradBlog, Raw Story, The Daily Kos (Luke Ryland), Democratic Underground, and from the Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal “Holy nuclear secrets, Batman!

There is a very interesting article by Joshua Frank on Antiwar.com called “Why Bush Wants to Legalize the Nuke Trade with Turkey – Exonerating Neocon Criminals“.

From the website Campaign Against Sanctions and Military Intervention in IRAN (CASMII), here is a very interesting interview with Philip Giraldi (former CIA officer who was once stationed in Turkey). Philip Giraldi is a recognized authority on international security and counterterrorism issues. He is a regular contributor to Antiwar.com in a column titled “Smoke and Mirrors” and is a Contributing Editor who writes a column called “Deep Background” on terrorism, intelligence, and security issues for The American Conservative magazine. He is being interviewed by Scott Horton.

Giraldi wrote a review and analysis of the Edmonds story this past week at American Conservative Magazine.

Buzzflash “Wings of Justice Award” ~ Sibel Edmonds

via: BuzzFlash

The first thing you need to know about Sibel Edmonds is that she has been under a gag order by the Department of Justice for five years. The second thing you should know is that she worked for a time as a FBI translator of Turkish intercepts. The third thing that you need to know is that she claims to have uncovered a covert network of senior American officials who transferred nuclear secrets to third parties.

Edmonds has had closed-door hearings before Congress, but her testimony has apparently been dropped like a hot potato. So it took of all newspapers — one owned by Rupert Murdoch in London — to reveal the extent of Edmonds’ allegations in an article, “For sale: West’s deadly nuclear secrets“, and to further uncover that the FBI appears to be lying about the existence of a key piece of evidence that might corroborate Edmonds, in an article subtitled, “The FBI has been accused of covering up a file detailing government dealings with a network stealing nuclear secrets.”

It is hard to distill the importance of what Edmonds is alleging, except to say that, if true, the American government has been allowing the transfer of nuclear secrets that endanger our national security, particularly as it related to the information obtained by the father of the Pakistani bomb, Abdul Qadeer Khan. There is also a tantalizing potential tie into another reason why Valerie Plame may have been outed by the Bush Administration.

The BuzzFlash reader who nominated Sibel Edmonds praised her, “Because she is risking her life, her safety, her entire reputation, and her future for the national security and integrity of this country trying to get her story out to the media so that Congress will finally have to act on the corruption and criminal actions taking place at the highest levels of our government that have and continue to put our country at risk. It was incredibly brave of her to speak out through the UK Sunday Times yesterday. Now we’ll see if anything is done to start investigations and clean house.”

In a recent commentary on Bradblog.com, the heroic Vietnam-era whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg noted: “For the last two weeks — one could say, for years — the major American media have been guilty of ignoring entirely the allegations of the courageous and highly credible source Sibel Edmonds, quoted in the London Times on January 6, 2008 in a front-page story that was front-page news in much of the rest of the world but was not reported in a single American newspaper or network. It is up to readers to demand that this culpable silent treatment end.”

Surely, Sibel Edmonds deserves to be heard. She accidentally ventured into an area of clandestine operations that literally may put her life at risk, and yet only overseas papers take her claims seriously.

For her courage and tenacity, BuzzFlash honors Sibel Edmonds with this week’s Wings of Justice Award.

I am posting this because it is one of our Critters who nominated Sibel Edmonds. I am glad Sibel is getting more exposure and recognition for her courage.

Found in Translation

FBI whistleblower Sibel Edmonds spills her secrets.

by Philip Giraldi
via: The American Conservative

Most Americans have never heard of Sibel Edmonds, and if the U.S. government has its way, they never will. The former FBI translator turned whistleblower tells a chilling story of corruption at Washington’s highest levels—sale of nuclear secrets, shielding of terrorist suspects, illegal arms transfers, narcotics trafficking, money laundering, espionage. She may be a first-rate fabulist, but Edmonds’s account is full of dates, places, and names. And if she is to be believed, a treasonous plot to embed moles in American military and nuclear installations and pass sensitive intelligence to Israeli, Pakistani, and Turkish sources was facilitated by figures in the upper echelons of the State and Defense Departments. Her charges could be easily confirmed or dismissed if classified government documents were made available to investigators.

But Congress has refused to act, and the Justice Department has shrouded Edmonds’s case in the state-secrets privilege, a rarely used measure so sweeping that it precludes even a closed hearing attended only by officials with top-secret security clearances. According to the Department of Justice, such an investigation “could reasonably be expected to cause serious damage to the foreign policy and national security of the United States.”

After five years of thwarted legal challenges and fruitless attempts to launch a congressional investigation, Sibel Edmonds is telling her story, though her defiance could land her in jail. After reading its November piece about Louai al-Sakka, an al-Qaeda terrorist who trained 9/11 hijackers in Turkey, Edmonds approached the Sunday Times of London. On Jan. 6, the Times, a Murdoch-owned paper that does not normally encourage exposés damaging to the Bush administration, featured a long article. The news quickly spread around the world, with follow-ups appearing in Israel, Europe, India, Pakistan, Turkey, and Japan—but not in the United States.

Read entire article.
(Philip Giraldi, a former CIA Officer, is a partner in Cannistraro Associates, an international security consultancy.)

This is one of the best articles I have read on this yet.

Don’t forget to read the piece from Daniel Ellsberg, (the legendary ‘Pentagon Papers’ whistleblower) as well.

UPDATE: I just found this opinion piece from the Portland Oregonian: Sandra Duffy: Journalism’s first loyalty is to citizens. Duffy points out the role of the journalist, and asks in the case of Sibel Edmonds, where are they??

DANIEL ELLSBERG: Covering Up the Coverage – The American Media’s Complicit Failure to Investigate and Report on the Sibel Edmonds Case

by Daniel Ellsberg
via: BradBlog

In an Exclusive BRAD BLOG Op-Ed, the Legendary ‘Pentagon Papers’ Whistleblower Calls on the Media to Perform Their First Amendment Obligations, on Congressional Leaders to Perform Their Oversight Duty, and for Insider Sources to Come Forward to the American Public…

For the second time in two weeks, the entire U.S. press has let itself be scooped by Rupert Murdoch’s London Sunday Times on a dynamite story of criminal activities by corrupt U.S. officials promoting nuclear proliferation. But there is a worse journalistic sin than being scooped, and that is participating in a cover-up of information that demands urgent attention from the public, the U.S. Congress and the courts.

For the last two weeks — one could say, for years — the major American media have been guilty of ignoring entirely the allegations of the courageous and highly credible source Sibel Edmonds, quoted in the London Times on January 6, 2008 in a front-page story that was front-page news in much of the rest of the world but was not reported in a single American newspaper or network. It is up to readers to demand that this culpable silent treatment end.

Just as important, there must be pressure by the public on Congressional committee chairpersons, in particular Representative Henry Waxman and Senator Patrick Leahy. Both have been sitting for years on classified, sworn testimony by Edmonds — as she revealed in the Times’ new story on Sunday — along with documentation, in their possession, confirming parts of her account. Pressure must be brought for them to hold public hearings to investigate her accusations of widespread criminal activities ,over several administrations, that endanger national security. They should call for open testimony under oath by Edmonds — as she has urged for five years — and by other FBI officials she has named to them, as cited anonymously in the first Times’ story.

And this is the time for those who have so far creditably leaked to the Times of London to come forward, accepting personal risks, to offer their testimony — and new documents — both to the Congress and to the American press. I would say to them: Don’t do what I did and waste months of precious time trying to get Congressional committees to act as they should in the absence of journalistic pressure. Do your best to inform the American public directly, first, through the major American media.

Continue reading

More on the Sibel Edmonds story..

In her post from this morning on TheZoo, EV linked to the story in the Sunday Times Online (UK) with more on Sibel Edmonds, the FBI whistleblower who has become the most gagged person in history.

In the Times’ article “FBI denies file exposing nuclear secrets theft“, they write this:

The FBI has been accused of covering up a file detailing government dealings with a network stealing nuclear secrets”

THE FBI has been accused of covering up a key case file detailing evidence against corrupt government officials and their dealings with a network stealing nuclear secrets.

The assertion follows allegations made in The Sunday Times two weeks ago by Sibel Edmonds, an FBI whistleblower, who worked on the agency’s investigation of the network.

Edmonds, a 37-year-old former Turkish language translator, listened into hundreds of sensitive intercepted conversations while based at the agency’s Washington field office.

She says the FBI was investigating a Turkish and Israeli-run network that paid high-ranking American officials to steal nuclear weapons secrets. These were then sold on the international black market to countries such as Pakistan and Saudi Arabia.

One of the documents relating to the case was marked 203A-WF-210023. Last week, however, the FBI responded to a freedom of information request for a file of exactly the same number by claiming that it did not exist. But The Sunday Times has obtained a document signed by an FBI official showing the existence of the file.

Edmonds believes the crucial file is being deliberately covered up by the FBI because its contents are explosive. She accuses the agency of an “outright lie”.

“I can tell you that that file and the operations it refers to did exist from 1996 to February 2002. The file refers to the counterintelligence programme that the Department of Justice has declared to be a state secret to protect sensitive diplomatic relations,” she said. Read on…

Continue reading

Blogging Bush’s last year in office – 365 days to go

Europe calling with the headlines in the Sunday Papers. So let’s hit it! “The Sunday Times” opens with the caucus primary victories of John McCain and Hillary Clinton. The McCain campaign has an edge now, but Mitt Romney is busily collecting delegates instead of high profile victories. And, please, can someone explain to this to me?

She captured the popular vote by a margin of 51 to 45 per cent over Barack Obama – but, after a racially-charged election, her rival won 13 delegates in Nevada to her 12.

There is news about the Sibel Edmonds case! Remember? This is the courageous lady who is trying to tell you Americans that all is not well at all, when it comes to your nuclear secrets. She has to do this through foreign media, because yours won’t print, nor air what she has to say.

And the FBI still is trying to wriggle out of it:

One of the documents relating to the case was marked 203A-WF-210023. Last week, however, the FBI responded to a freedom of information request for a file of exactly the same number by claiming that it did not exist. But The Sunday Times has obtained a document signed by an FBI official showing the existence of the file. (emphasis added)

Stay tuned to this story, it’s worth multiple life sentences for some very high ranking people in Washington. Maybe in a year (see above, 365 days left) things and public reception of this story will change and indictments will be issued. Let’s switch to “The Guardian”. They are reporting extensively on the US election primaries as well here and here and with loads of related stories. There is more on economics to find there, too. Why is going for bio-fuels not a solution? What is fuel poverty? And how to lower taxes the right way. You find “The Independent” covering the elections here and here. On top of that they treat you to the news, that mobile phone use can wreck your sleep. (UPDATE: There seems to be a problem with the Independent website. I leave the links, as the problem surely is temporary, so please try again later, if the links don’t work right now.) “The Telegraph” reports on, surprise, the primaries here and here! The English website of “Der Spiegel” gives you news on the primaries, who’d a thunk it, but a very interesting interview with OPEC Secretary-General Abdalla Salem el-Badri, too. ‘International Oil Companies Are the Real Dinosaurs’, quote:

SPIEGEL: And are you in favor of abandoning the practice of trading in dollars as Venezuela and Iran have demanded?

El-Badri : The euro is currently the world’s strongest currency. A change can be made, but it will take some time. It took many years for the dollar to become a dominant currency in the oil business. But in the future it will not be that difficult to change.

A scan of the other newspaper websites gives us more election coverage, and still more. So enjoy your reading and let us know what we missed in the comments section (as the saying goes). “Europeanview” wishes you a good and restful Sunday. Take care!