Jun 072013
 

 
Internet Users Targeted In Massive NSA Spy Program

According to a report released by The Washington Post, the National Security Agency and the FBI have been partnering up to take user data from nine major Internet companies. Meghan Lopez explains the PRISM program.

 

POLICE STATE: Obama Administration Caught Spying on your emails, phones calls, bank records & Internet usage.

 

In what could be one of the largest scandals, and breach of public trust to come out of the white house, information is coming today suggesting that our government is involved in one of the largest collections of private American public data in the history of our country.

 

They’re Specifically Targeting Americans

 

The National Security Agency has long argued that their power allows them to spy on those outside the United States, while always maintaining that private American Communications were off limits. But it looks like the latest Obama Administration scandal has The FBI, on the NSA’s behalf, forcing Verizon Communications to turn over data on millions of U.S. customers.

 

The order specifically targeted American Citizens, and explicitly excluded those outside of America.

 

The Obama administration, who had to respond to yet another scandal this morning, tried to defend the actions by claiming that the massive amount of telephone records were part of U.S. counterterrorism efforts that were critical to protecting Americans from attacks.

 

Do they really expect us to believe that millions of Americans are terrorists?

 

So based on the Obama administration’s admission, one would have to believe that millions of Americans are now in some way taking part in terrorist activity or plotting to attack America. Do they really think that people are going to buy this crap.

http://offgridsurvival.com/obamaadministration-caughtspying/

Phone Sex, Banks & Google for Emails: The NSA Spying Is Bigger Than Verizon

“And the NSA isn’t just collecting the things we say. It’s also tracking what we buy and where we go”

http://www.theatlanticwire.com/politics/2013/06/nsa-spying-verizon-analysis/65963/

CIA Chief: We’ll Spy on You Through Your Dishwasher…

CIA Director David Petraeus cannot wait to spy on you through Smart Products.

Earlier this month, Petraeus mused about the emergence of an “Internet of Things” — that is, wired devices — at a summit for In-Q-Tel, the CIA’s venture capital firm.

All those new online devices are a treasure trove of data if you’re a “person of interest” to the spy community. Once upon a time, spies had to place a bug in your chandelier to hear your conversation. With the rise of the “smart home,” you’d be sending tagged, geolocated data that a spy agency can intercept in real time when you use the lighting app on your phone to adjust your living room’s ambiance.

http://www.wired.com/dangerroom/2012/03/petraeus-tv-remote/

Whistleblowers: NOT JUST VERIZION.. NSA DEMANDED records from Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile

http://www.kval.com/news/national/Whistleblowers-NSA-wanted-phone-records-from-Verizon-ATT-T-Mobile-210458811.html

Continue reading »

May 182013
 
There is clear evidence that he has broken the law on multiple occasions. And not even Republicans seem to care.

The Atlantic
Conor Friedersdorf

obama full full full.jpg

Reuters

Prompted by Peggy Noonan’s claim in The Wall Street Journal that “we are in the midst of the worst Washington scandal since Watergate,” Andrew Sullivan steps forward to defend Pres. Obama’s honor. “Can she actually believe this?,” he asks incredulously. “Has this president broken the law, lied under oath, or authorized war crimes? Has he traded arms for hostages with Iran? Has he knowingly sent his cabinet out to tell lies about his sex life? Has he sat by idly as an American city was destroyed by a hurricane? Has he started a war with no planning for an occupation? Has he started a war based on a lie, and destroyed the US’ credibility and moral standing while he was at it, leaving nothing but a smoldering and now rekindled civil sectarian war?”

An Obama critic, having overplayed her hand, gave Sullivan an opening to respond with what amounts to, “It isn’t as bad as Watergate, nor as bad as George W. Bush.” Let’s concede those points. I don’t much care what Obama’s Republican critics say about him. The scandals they’re presently touting, bad as two of them are, aren’t even the worst of Team Obama’s transgressions.

I have a stronger critique. Sullivan hasn’t internalized the worst of what Obama’s done, because his notion of scandal is implicitly constrained by whatever a president’s partisan opponents tout as scandalous. If they criticize Obama wrongly, he defends Obama proportionately.

To see what he’s forgotten as a result, let’s run once more through the first questions in Sullivan’s latest Obama apologia.

Has this president broken the law, lied under oath, or authorized war crimes?

Yes, President Obama has broken the law on multiple occasions. Despite clearly stating, in a 2008 questionnaire, that  the commander-in-chief is not lawfully empowered to ignore treaties duly ratified by the Senate, Obama has willfully failed to enforce the torture treaty, signed by Ronald Reagan and duly ratified by the Senate, that compels him to investigate and prosecute torture. As Sullivan put it earlier this year, “what Obama and Holder have done (or rather not done) is illegal.”

Obama also violated the War Powers Resolution, a law he has specifically proclaimed to be Constitutionally valid, when committing U.S. troops to Libya without Congressional approval.  Or as Sullivan put it in 2011, “I’m with Conor. The war in Libya becomes illegal from now on. And the imperial presidency grows even more powerful.”

On the subject of war crimes, Sullivan wrote that “Obama and attorney-general Eric Holder have decided to remain in breach of the Geneva Conventions and be complicit themselves in covering up the war crimes of their predecessors – which means, of course, that those of us who fought for Obama’s election precisely because we wanted a return to the rule of law were conned.” In a separate entry, he went so far as to say that Obama is “a clear and knowing accessory to war crimes, and should at some point face prosecution as well, if the Geneva Conventions mean anything any more.” That seems rather farther than Noonan went in her column.

Obama has not, as Sullivan points out, traded arms for hostages with Iran, or started a war with no planning for the inevitable occupation that would follow. But there are different questions that could be asked about Obama that would perhaps be more relevant to his behavior.

Has he ordered the assassination of any American citizens in secret without due process? Did he kill any of their teenage kids without ever explaining how or why that happened?

Has he refused to reveal even the legal reasoning he used to conclude his targeted killing program is lawful?

Has he waged an unprecedented war on whistleblowers?

Has he spied on millions of innocent Americans without a warrant or probable cause?

Does he automatically count dead military-aged males killed by U.S. drones as “militants”?

Did he “sign a bill that enshrines in law the previously merely alleged executive power of indefinite detention without trial of terror suspects”?

There is more, as Sullivan knows, and it all amounts to a scandalous presidency, even if it happens that few Republicans care about the most scandalous behavior, and have instead spent almost a year* now obsessing about Benghazi. The IRS scandal and Department of Justice leak-investigation excesses are worrisome, but the biggest scandals definitely go all the way to the top, and are still largely ignored even by commentators who have acknowledged that they’re happening. Sullivan has noted the stories as they broke, and seemed, for fleeting moments, to confront their gravity, noting the violation of very serious laws, and even once stating that Obama deserves to be prosecuted! Yet in response to Noonan, he writes, “So far as I can tell, this president has done nothing illegal, unethical or even wrong.” How inexplicably they forget.

And Sullivan is hardly alone. At the New York Times, Mother Jones, The New Yorker, and beyond, exceptional journalists take great care to document alarming abuses against the rule of law, the separation of powers, transparency, and human rights perpetrated by the Obama Administration. On a given subject, the coverage leaves me awed and proud to be part of the same profession. But when it comes time for synthesis, bad heuristics take over. Confronted with the opportunism and absurdity of the GOP, Obama’s sins are forgiven, as if he should be graded on a curve. His sins are forgotten, as if “this president has done nothing illegal, unethical or even wrong.”

Yes. He. Has. Continue reading »

May 072013
 

CBS
Sharyl Attkisson

Federal agent John Dodson says what he was asked to do was beyond belief.

He was intentionally letting guns go to Mexico?

“Yes ma’am,” Dodson told CBS News. “The agency was.”

An Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms senior agent assigned to the Phoenix office in 2010, Dodson’s job is to stop gun trafficking across the border. Instead, he says he was ordered to sit by and watch it happen.

Investigators call the tactic letting guns “walk.” In this case, walking into the hands of criminals who would use them in Mexico and the United States.

Sharyl Attkisson’s original “Gunrunner” report

Center for Public Integrity report

Dodson’s bosses say that never happened. Now, he’s risking his job to go public.

“I’m boots on the ground in Phoenix, telling you we’ve been doing it every day since I’ve been here,” he said. “Here I am. Tell me I didn’t do the things that I did. Tell me you didn’t order me to do the things I did. Tell me it didn’t happen. Now you have a name on it. You have a face to put with it. Here I am. Someone now, tell me it didn’t happen.”

Agent Dodson and other sources say the gun walking strategy was approved all the way up to the Justice Department. The idea was to see where the guns ended up, build a big case and take down a cartel. And it was all kept secret from Mexico.

ATF named the case “Fast and Furious.”

Surveillance video obtained by CBS News shows suspected drug cartel suppliers carrying boxes of weapons to their cars at a Phoenix gun shop. The long boxes shown in the video being loaded in were AK-47-type assault rifles.

 

So it turns out ATF not only allowed it – they videotaped it.

Documents show the inevitable result: The guns that ATF let go began showing up at crime scenes in Mexico. And as ATF stood by watching thousands of weapons hit the streets… the Fast and Furious group supervisor noted the escalating Mexican violence.

One e-mail noted, “958 killed in March 2010 … most violent month since 2005.” The same e-mail notes: “Our subjects purchased 359 firearms during March alone,” including “numerous Barrett .50 caliber rifles.”

Dodson feels that ATF was partly to blame for the escalating violence in Mexico and on the border. “I even asked them if they could see the correlation between the two,” he said. “The more our guys buy, the more violence we’re having down there.”

Senior agents including Dodson told CBS News they confronted their supervisors over and over.

 

Their answer, according to Dodson, was, “If you’re going to make an omelette, you’ve got to break some eggs.”

There was so much opposition to the gun walking, that an ATF supervisor issued an e-mail noting a “schism” among the agents. “Whether you care or not people of rank and authority at HQ are paying close attention to this case…we are doing what they envisioned…. If you don’t think this is fun you’re in the wrong line of work… Maybe the Maricopa County jail is hiring detention officers and you can get $30,000 … to serve lunch to inmates…”

“We just knew it wasn’t going to end well. There’s just no way it could,” Dodson said.

 

On Dec. 14, 2010, Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry was gunned down. Dodson got the bad news from a colleague.

According to Dodson, “They said, ‘Did you hear about the border patrol agent?’ And I said, ‘Yeah.’ And they said ‘Well it was one of the Fast and Furious guns.’ There’s not really much you can say after that.”

Two assault rifles ATF had let go nearly a year before were found at Terry’s murder.

Dodson said, “I felt guilty. I mean it’s crushing. I don’t know how to explain it.”

Sen. Grassley began investigating after his office spoke to Dodson and a dozen other ATF sources — all telling the same story.

Read Sen. Grassley’s letter to the attorney general

The response was “practically zilch,” Grassley said. “From the standpoint that documents we want – we have not gotten them. I think it’s a case of stonewalling.”

Dodson said he hopes that speaking out helps Terry’s family. They haven’t been told much of anything about his murder – or where the bullet came from.

“First of all, I’d tell them that I’m sorry. Second of all, I’d tell them I’ve done everything that I can for them to get the truth,” Dodson said. “After this, I don’t know what else I can do. But I hope they get it.”

Dodson said they never did take down a drug cartels. However, he said thousands of Fast and Furious weapons are still out there and will be claiming victims on both sides of the border for years to come.

Late tonight, the ATF said it will convene a panel to look into its national firearms trafficking strategy. But it refused to comment specifically on Sharyl’s report.

Statement from Kenneth E. Melson, Acting Director, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives:

 

“The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) will ask a multi-disciplinary panel of law enforcement professionals to review the bureau’s current firearms trafficking strategies employed by field division managers and special agents. This review will enable ATF to maximize its effectiveness when undertaking complex firearms trafficking investigations and prosecutions. It will support the goals of ATF to stem the illegal flow of firearms to Mexico and combat firearms trafficking in the United States.”

© 2011 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved.

  • Sharyl AttkissonSharyl Attkisson is a CBS News investigative correspondent based in Washington. All of her stories, videos and blogs are available here.

Continue reading »

Apr 282013
 

Russia Today

The mother of the Boston Marathon bombing suspects, Zubeidat Tsarnaev, had been added to a federal terrorism database about 18 months before the attack, according to US officials. The news comes after she accused US police of murdering her son.

The CIA reportedly put Zubeidat on the classified Terrorist Identities Datamart Environment database (TIDE) at the same time that her 26-year-old son Tamerlan was added.

During a Thursday news conference in Russia, Zubeidat and her husband Anzor said their children were innocent, and refused to accept the story pieced together by the authorities.

The suspects’ mother stated that in the days after the Boston bombing, she had seen video footage on the internet appearing to show Tamerlan alive and being put into a police car naked – presumably stripped to check for explosives. The next day, she said she saw pictures of his dead body.

When speaking about the images, she said her son was “Killed, truly killed.”

“I wanted to scream, to scream to the whole world: ‘What did you do? What have you done with my son? He was alive. Why did they need to kill him? Why not send him to Guantanamo or whatever. Why did they kill him? Why did they have to kill him? They got him alive. He was in their hands,” she said.

But police told Business Insider that the naked man was not Tamerlan. According to authorities, Tamerlan was killed in a shootout with police before being run over by his brother, Dzhokhar, who was fleeing the scene in an SUV.

Three people were killed and more than 260 injured when two bombs detonated at the Boston Marathon on April 15, 2013.

Investigators survey the site of a bomb blast on Boylston Street a day after two explosions hit the Boston Marathon in Boston, Massachusetts April 16, 2013. (Reuters / Adrees Latif)

Investigators survey the site of a bomb blast on Boylston Street a day after two explosions hit the Boston Marathon in Boston, Massachusetts April 16, 2013. (Reuters / Adrees Latif)

Seized as evidence

The boat later used as a hiding place by Dzhokhar has meanwhile been moved to an evidence storage facility, the FBI said on Saturday.

Nineteen-year-old Dzhokhar is believed to have hid in the boat for nearly a day while police took part in one of the largest manhunts in US history.

The entire Boston metropolitan area was on lockdown as police searched for Dzhokhar following a deadly shootout which allegedly killed his brother Tamerlan. Dzhokhar was eventually found inside the boat in Watertown, Massachusetts after the lockdown was lifted.

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, 19, is searched by law enforcement officers in this handout photo provided by the Massachusetts State Police in Watertown, Massachusetts, April 19, 2013. (Reuters)

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, 19, is searched by law enforcement officers in this handout photo provided by the Massachusetts State Police in Watertown, Massachusetts, April 19, 2013. (Reuters)

After being locked in his home for hours, the owner of the boat ventured into his backyard. He then noticed a rip in the tarp that covered his boat and saw blood on the boat. Upon lifting the tarp, he found a man covered in blood and immediately called authorities.

Dzhokar then was arrested and taken to a civilian hospital. He was transferred to a federal medical detention center in central Massachusetts on Friday.

Dzhokhar was interrogated in his hospital room Sunday and Monday over a period of 16 hours without being read his rights to remain silent and have an attorney present, officials told AP. He immediately stopped talking after a magistrate judge and a representative from the US Attorney’s office entered his room and gave him his Miranda warning.

Before being read his rights, the 19-year-old admitted his role in the attacks and told authorities that his older brother Tamerlan was the mastermind behind the bombings. He said that he was only recently recruited to be a part of the attacks.

It was not clear whether the confession would be admissible in a criminal trial, since it came before he was read his Miranda rights.

Dzhokhar has been charged with one count of using a weapon of mass destruction and one count of malicious destruction of property. The charges came after the White House decided against treating Dzhokhar as an enemy combatant.

The Justice Department released a statement indicating that the charges could carry the death penalty or life in prison.

A man is stripped of his clothing and loaded into a police vehicle in Watertown, Massachusetts. (A screen shot from youtube video user@G4ViralVideos)

A man is stripped of his clothing and loaded into a police vehicle in Watertown, Massachusetts. (A screen shot from youtube video user@G4ViralVideos)

Location of laptops

In an effort to discover the motives behind the deadly attacks, FBI investigators picked through a New Bedford, Massachusetts landfill on Friday, hoping to recover laptop computers that belonged to the Boston Marathon bombing suspects.

The lead to search the landfill came after police interviewed two men from Khazakhstan who knew the terror suspects, law enforcement sources told ABC News under the condition of anonymity. The two men reportedly tipped officers to the possible location of the suspects’ laptops.

The Tsarnaev brothers are believed to have visited the men’s apartment in New Bedford, Massachusetts after the bombing. Police sources said that a cell phone believed to have belonged to Tamerlan was found in the apartment.

However, the FBI has declined to share whether they were looking for laptops at the landfill, or what was discovered there.

“We were seeking evidence but we are not commenting on the nature of what was being sought or what was found,”
Eimiller said. “We can confirm that we were there Thursday, Friday and left yesterday.”

The search for clues is almost certain to continue for the foreseeable future. A federal law enforcement official told AP on Friday that the FBI was gathering evidence regarding “everything imaginable.” Continue reading »

Apr 252013
 

Willy Loman
Scott Creighton

UPDATE April 24: Boston Bombing: Who Says it Had to be Two Men? Who Says they Had to be Young?

UPDATE April 23rd: Boston Bombing: Newly “Enhanced” Photos of the “Shootout” bring the influence peddlers out on Reddit

You don’t need conspiracy theorists. Just take the Feds at their word and you’ll see it.

If you believe the official story of what happened on April 15th at the finish-line of the Boston Marathon, then you have to know that Dzhokhar Tsarnaev is innocent of the charges leveled against him. You cannot avoid it.

According to the new official story (remember the “Bag Men” story that was fed to the New York Post by officials?) Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev went down to the finish-line of the Boston marathon carrying bombs in their backpacks and planted them in two locations about a block apart and then hung around and watched the carnage unfold.

They claimed they had video proof of at least one of them, Dzhokhar, dropping his bomb and an eyewitness who saw Tamerlan drop his at the feet of the witness while making eye contact with him and walking away.

They then, according to the story they have video evidence of this, hung around, watched the carnage only to slowly walk away from the scene.

That is the official story. And that story proves Dzhokhar is innocent. And if Dzhokhar is innocent, more than likely, so is Tamerlan. Let me show you why.

 

1. Circumstantial but based on hard evidence

First of all, the Feds have produced neither of the two videos they claim to have showing 1. Dzhokhar planting a bomb and 2. them hanging out watching the aftermath then slowly walking away. In fact, the evidence we have suggests a totally different story. The new story about all of this drops any mention of those two videos down the memory hole.

The second thing to remember is the fact that the FBI pretended to need our help to identify the two men while the entire time their own local field offices had been in steady contact with the boys for at least two years. The FBI has come out since and admitted their involvement with the boys and several congressmen are asking how they “dropped the ball” on this one. The FBI is avoiding answering congress’ questions.

I have found evidence to suggest that they were in fact being handled by an FBI confidential informant and I believe that fact is likely to come out very soon. The congressmen are starting to ask for the FBI’s files on these boys. Family members, even the one trying to help the Feds, suggest that they were being manipulated by “mentors” which is standard operating procedure for the FBI’s domestic terrorism task force. In fact, it appears from the official photos of the boys, they were indeed waiting for quite a while in front of a restaurant in the area to meet someone… someone who told them to be there. Someone who deliberately put them in the wrong place at the right time.

As damning as all of this is, the lies, the connections to the boys, the artifice of not knowing who they were, their being brought there by someone… as damning as it is, it’s primarily circumstantial. Though that is not to say it does not qualify as potential evidence in a court of law, it is not hard physical evidence of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev’s innocence.

Not to worry, the official story itself provides that.

2. Hard evidence

The new narrative is that one of the victims, Jeff Bauman, identified the older brother Tamerlan as being the one who placed his bomb down at Jeff’s feet while making eye contact with him and then he walked away. He said he had a dark ball cap and glasses and that is Tamerlan in the photos.

Honestly, that story is ripe with wrong. Were anyone to do that to you would you just stand there next to the backpack waiting to see what happened? I doubt it. But take him at his word (and remember, the FBI has teams trained to illicit the kinds of witness statements they need). And also remember, they claim this information came to them on Wednesday, while Jeff was still heavily drugged.

But let’s take them at their word. After all, it is their official story and thus the one some of the people in this country accept as the gospel.

Jeff was injured in the first explosion, the one closest to the finish line. Of that there is no question. That means the bag that was dropped there was Tamerlan’s bag. Let’s look at the evidence.

First, their bags respectively – Tamerlan has a darker colored bag while his younger brother is carrying a light grey bag. Also notice the color of Tamerlan’s pants. This will be important later trust me.

bag 13

If you take the FBI’s recounting of Jeff’s statement at face value, then that means
Tamerlan’s bag is this one, from the official evidence of the crime scene:
Continue reading »

Apr 202013
 

Global Research
Tony Cartalucci

(Photos) Seen across street after blasts talking with FBI bomb squad. Who were they? What were they and the FBI doing?

le-bilan-de-l-attentat-de-boston

 What appear to be private contractors, wearing unmarked, matching uniforms and operating an unmarked SUV affixed with communication equipment near the finish line of the Boston Marathon shortly after the bomb blasts – can be seen beforehand, standing and waiting just meters away from where the first bomb was detonated.

The contractor-types had moved away from the bomb’s location before it detonated, and could be seen just across the street using communication equipment and waiting for similar dressed and equipped individuals to show up after the blasts.

Image: An already widely distributed photo showing the contractor-types on the bottom left, just left of where the bomb was placed and detonated. The men are wearing matching, unmarked uniforms, large black bags, and appear to be waiting, separately, and “behind” the rest of the crowd. In the upper left corner, a wooden structure forming one half of a temporary photography “bridge” over the finish line can be seen and serves as a useful reference when establishing the contractor-types’ position in other photos.

….


Image: After the explosion, two of the contractors seen by the wall next to the bomb, appear across the street, both using communication equipment. This photo too has been distributed and enlarged many times across the Internet. (click to enlarge)

….


Image: An unmarked SUV with a considerable amount of communication gear on the roof appears, surrounded by identically dressed men. The vehicle parks near the bleachers. (click to enlarge)

….


Image: Event staff and contractors both above and below the bleachers begin tearing up the skirting and appear to be looking for something or retrieving something while casualties are still being treated and evacuated across the street. (click to enlarge)

….

The men, numbering between 6-8 then begin tearing up the skirting around temporary bleachers erected for the event, opposite the explosion, before taping it off. Then, what appears to be an FBI bomb squad truck pulls up directly behind the contractor-types’ SUV, with a woman clearly wearing the letters F.B.I. on her tactical vest emerging and speaking with the contractor-types. Together they disappear from the scene, leaving their vehicles behind.

Image: What appears to be an FBI bomb squad truck pulls in, with a woman wearing what is clearly the letters F.B.I. on her vest. She talks with two contractors while it appears a third is partially in the truck’s right-hand side. Also note that the area contractors and event staff tore up, is now taped off. (click to enlarge)

….

Image: The FBI truck and contractor SUV sit seemingly abandoned – neither the FBI agent, nor the contractors can be seen. What they did, or where they went remains so far, unknown. (click to enlarge)

….

It should be noted, that with the exception of the contractor-types, all other responders at the scene, including the FBI agent, can be clearly identified, from police to the fire department, to medics and even individuals wearing vests with “B.A.A. Physician” written on them. It should also be noted that no other uniformed individuals can be seen standing near the bomb site aside from the contractor-types.

These men were unidentified, professional contractors apparently augmenting public servants at the Boston Marathon, present before and after the bomb blasts in the direct vicinity of the incident. After the blasts, whether it was their intended function or not, they appeared to be searching for something under the bleachers before being joined by what appears to be the FBI bomb squad. The FBI and the city of Boston has so far categorically failed to provide any information on these highly suspicious individuals.

Questions That Must be Answered 

Several questions must be answered by the FBI, leading the investigation on behalf of we, the American people. The first question is who these men were, with large, black bags in the direct vicinity of where a bomb would detonate, moving away before the blast, and appearing directly across the road afterward. Who hired them and what was their function? Why were they moving amongst the crowd in a semi-covert fashion when all other public servants present were wearing proper uniforms and clearly identified? Did police, firefighters, event organizers, and medics know these men were present and what they were doing?

Why did it appear that the FBI was fully aware of their presence, and in fact working with them, specifically with what looks like a bomb squad unit? Were these contractors specialists in explosives, and if so, what is the significance that at least two of them were spotted just meters from where the blast occurred?

Why These Questions Demand Answers

The checkered, frightening history (see: FBI’s History of Handing “Terror Suspects” Live Explosives) of the FBI’s involvement in fomenting false terror attacks, and even presiding over attacks that succeeded in maiming and killing innocent people, should call into question their presence or involvement at any public event, especially when seen associating with unidentified, semi-clandestine organizations that appear to be private contractors.

Private contractors as well, do not answer or work for the public, but rather the highest bidder. Private contractors, most notably Blackwater and its various incarnations have operated both domestically and abroad, committing obscene crimes and atrocities with seemingly absolute impunity. The term “defense contractor” is in fact a euphemism for mercenary, and has no place in a civilized, democratic world, no matter what their alleged mission statement may claim.

That both of these nefarious entities were present and cooperating in the direct vicinity of the Boston bombings, with at least two contractors standing just meters away from where the bomb actually went off, raises a number of possibilities and concerns. A drill may have been being conducted, though the FBI and city officials have denied this. Or, a threat may have been communicated to event organizers ahead of time, which prompted the inclusion of “auxiliary” security, though again, both the FBI and the city of Boston deny receiving any information prior to the bombings. Whichever contracting firm this may have been, may just have wanted to swindle Boston’s taxpayers for an easy payday, and coincidentally found itself in the middle of extraordinary circumstances.

However, alarming suspicion is raised when the FBI makes no mention of an organization it was clearly coordinating with, particularly in terms of bombs and explosives before and after the incident, considering the nature of the attack. When an already dubious organization attempts to obfuscate the facts of any given event, it is the right and responsibility of legitimate law enforcement, public representatives and the citizenry itself to demand and get answers. If we are not persistent, with the FBI’s bizarre behavior over the past few days, including inexplicably cancelled and suspiciously rushed press conferences, and now what appears to be a Hollywood ending for the case, we may never get those answers.

….

Note: Most images were taken from Flickr user HahaTango, the entire collection of 150 images from the Boston Marathon can be found here Continue reading »

Apr 182013
 

Global Research
Norman Solomon

orwell3

After the bombings that killed and maimed so horribly at the Boston Marathon, our country’s politics and mass media are awash in heartfelt compassion — and reflexive “doublethink,” which George Orwell described as willingness “to forget any fact that has become inconvenient.”

In sync with media outlets across the country, the New York Times put a chilling headline on Wednesday’s front page: “Boston Bombs Were Loaded to Maim, Officials Say.” The story reported that nails and ball bearings were stuffed into pressure cookers, “rigged to shoot sharp bits of shrapnel into anyone within reach of their blast.”

Much less crude and weighing in at 1,000 pounds, CBU-87/B warheads were in the category of “combined effects munitions” when put to use 14 years ago by a bomber named Uncle Sam. The U.S. media coverage was brief and fleeting.

One Friday, at noontime, U.S.-led NATO forces dropped cluster bombs on the city of Nis, in the vicinity of a vegetable market. “The bombs struck next to the hospital complex and near the market, bringing death and destruction, peppering the streets of Serbia’s third-largest city with shrapnel,” a dispatch in the San Francisco Chronicle reported on May 8, 1999.

And: “In a street leading from the market, dismembered bodies were strewn among carrots and other vegetables in pools of blood. A dead woman, her body covered with a sheet, was still clutching a shopping bag filled with carrots.”

Pointing out that cluster bombs “explode in the air and hurl shards of shrapnel over a wide radius,” BBC correspondent John Simpson wrote in the Sunday Telegraph: “Used against human beings, cluster bombs are some of the most savage weapons of modern warfare.”

Savage did not preclude usage. As a matter of fact, to Commander in Chief Bill Clinton and the prevailing military minds in Washington, savage was bound up in the positive attributes of cluster bombs. Each one could send up to 60,000 pieces of jagged steel shrapnel into what the weapon’s maker described as “soft targets.”

An unusually diligent reporter, Paul Watson of the Los Angeles Times, reported from Pristina, Yugoslavia: “During five weeks of airstrikes, witnesses here say, NATO warplanes have dropped cluster bombs that scatter smaller munitions over wide areas. In military jargon, the smaller munitions are bomblets. Dr. Rade Grbic, a surgeon and director of Pristina’s main hospital, sees proof every day that the almost benign term bomblet masks a tragic impact. Grbic, who saved the lives of two ethnic Albanian boys wounded while other boys played with a cluster bomb found Saturday, said he had never done so many amputations.”

The LA Times article quoted Dr. Grbic: “I have been an orthopedist for 15 years now, working in a crisis region where we often have injuries, but neither I nor my colleagues have ever seen such horrific wounds as those caused by cluster bombs.” He added: “They are wounds that lead to disabilities to a great extent. The limbs are so crushed that the only remaining option is amputation. It’s awful, awful.”

The newspaper account went on: “Pristina’s hospital alone has treated 300 to 400 people wounded by cluster bombs since NATO’s air war began March 24, Grbic said. Roughly half of those victims were civilians, he said. Because that number doesn’t include those killed by cluster bombs and doesn’t account for those wounded in other regions of Yugoslavia, the casualty toll probably is much higher, he said. ‘Most people are victims of the time-activated cluster bombs that explode some time after they fall,’ he said.”

Later, during invasions and initial periods of occupation, the U.S. military dropped cluster bombs in Afghanistan and fired cluster munitions in Iraq.

Today, the U.S. State Department remains opposed to outlawing those weapons, declaring on its official website: “Cluster munitions have demonstrated military utility. Their elimination from U.S. stockpiles would put the lives of its soldiers and those of its coalition partners at risk.”

The State Department position statement adds: “Moreover, cluster munitions can often result in much less collateral damage than unitary weapons, such as a larger bomb or larger artillery shell would cause, if used for the same mission.” Perhaps the bomber(s) who stuffed nails and ball bearings into pressure cookers for use in Boston had a similarly twisted rationale.

But don’t expect explorations of such matters from the USA’s daily papers or commercial networks — or from the likes of NPR’s “Morning Edition” and “All Things Considered,” or the PBS “NewsHour.” When the subject is killing and maiming, such news outlets take as a given the presumptive moral high ground of the U.S. government.

In his novel 1984, Orwell wrote about the conditioned reflex of “stopping short, as though by instinct, at the threshold of any dangerous thought . . . and of being bored or repelled by any train of thought which is capable of leading in a heretical direction.”

The doublethink — continually reinforced by mass media — remains within an irony-free zone that would amount to mere self-satire if not so damaging to intellectual and moral coherence.

Every news report about the children killed and injured at the finish line in Boston, every account of the horrific loss of limbs, makes me think of a little girl named Guljumma. She was seven years old when I met her at an Afghan refugee camp one day in the summer of 2009.

At the time, I wrote: “Guljumma talked about what happened one morning last year when she was sleeping at home in southern Afghanistan’s Helmand Valley. At about 5 a.m., bombs exploded. Some people in her family died. She lost an arm.”

In the refugee camp on the outskirts of Kabul, where several hundred families were living in squalid conditions, the U.S. government was providing no help. The last time Guljumma and her father had meaningful contact with the U.S. government was when it bombed them.

War thrives on abstractions, but Guljumma was no abstraction. She was no more or less of an abstraction than the children whose lives have been forever wrecked by the bombing at the Boston finish line.

But the same U.S. news media that are conveying the preciousness of children so terribly harmed in Boston are scarcely interested in children like Guljumma.

I thought of her again when seeing news reports and a chilling photo on April 7, soon after 11 children in eastern Afghanistan were even more unlucky than she was. Those children died from a U.S./NATO air strike. For mainline American journalists, it wasn’t much of a story; for American officials, it was no big deal.

“Circus dogs jump when the trainer cracks his whip,” Orwell observed, “but the really well-trained dog is the one that turns his somersault when there is no whip.”

Norman Solomon is co-founder of RootsAction.org and founding director of the Institute for Public Accuracy. His books include “War Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death.” He writes the Political Culture 2013 column. Continue reading »

Apr 112013
 

WHTC
Jared Taylor

MCALLEN, Texas (Reuters) – Two agents with the Department of Homeland Security assigned to root out corruption in other law enforcement agencies have been charged in Texas with faking records, federal prosecutors said on Wednesday.

Eugenio Pedraza served as special agent in charge of Homeland Security’s Office of Inspector General in McAllen, Texas, where he was responsible for rooting out corruption in other federal agencies that work along the U.S.-Mexico border.

Pedraza and an agent who reported to him falsified records from seven investigations into Customs and Border Protection officers and Border Patrol agents accused of accepting bribes to allow drug shipments and illegal immigrants through international ports of entry between 2009 and 2011, the indictment states.

The indictment alleges Pedraza, 49, covered up “severe lapses” in investigative standards ahead of an internal review of the McAllen office, the Justice Department said in its statement.

Also charged in the case is Special Agent Marco Rodriguez, 40, accused of following Pedraza’s orders to falsify records in ongoing investigations. The indictment shows Rodriguez worked on two of seven cases identified in the indictment as containing false information.

Both Rodriguez and Pedraza appeared in federal court in Brownsville, Texas, on Wednesday and pleaded not guilty, according to court documents. Bond was set at $50,000 each. No defense attorneys were listed in court documents for either defendant.

Five other agents under Pedraza were assigned to other cases under scrutiny, but were not named in the indictment.

Pedraza was accused of directing his subordinates to draft and place backdated memos into investigative files showing progress in cases that never occurred, as well as records involving case reviews that were never performed.

Pedraza also is accused of failing to promptly notify the FBI that one of its agents was under investigation.

The Justice Department said Pedraza concocted the alleged scheme to make it appear to investigators reviewing his office that cases were being worked properly.

A third former special agent, Wayne Ball, has already pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to falsify records in federal investigations. His sentencing is set for July 31.

The most severe charges carry maximum sentences of 20 years in prison, as well as a maximum fine of $250,000 on each count.

(Reporting by Jared Taylor; Editing by Mary Wisniewski, Sofina Mirza-Reid, Greg McCune and Lisa Shumaker) Continue reading »