According to the New York Times, President Obama is “on the verge of backing” a proposal by the FBI to introduce legislation dramatically expanding the reach of the Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act, or CALEA. CALEA forces telephone companies to provide backdoors to the government so that it can spy on users after obtaining court approval, and was expanded in 2006 to reach Internet technologies like VoIP. The new proposal reportedly allows the FBI to listen in on any conversation online, regardless of the technology used, by mandating engineers build “backdoors” into communications software. We urge EFF supporters to tell the administration now to stop this proposal, provisionally called CALEA II.
The rumored proposal is a tremendous blow to security and privacy and is based on the FBI’s complaint that it is “Going Dark,” or unable to listen in on Internet users’ communications. But the FBI has offered few concrete examples and no significant numbers of situations where it has been stymied by communications technology like encryption. To the contrary, with the growth of digital communications, the FBI has an unprecedented level of access to our communications and personal data; access which it regularly uses. In an age where the government claims to want to beef up Internet security, any backdoors into our communications makes our infrastructure weaker.
Backdoors also take away developers’ right to innovate and users’ right to protect their privacy and First Amendment-protected anonymity of speech with the technologies of their choice. The FBI’s dream of an Internet where it can listen to anything, even with a court order, is wrong and inconsistent with our values. One should be able to have a private conversation online, just as one can have a private conversation in person.
The White House is currently debating whether or not to introduce the bill. Here’s why it shouldn’t:
There’s Little Darkness: Few Investigations Have Been Thwarted
The starting point for new legislation should be a real, serious, and well-documented need. Despite the FBI’s rhetoric, there are few concrete examples of the FBI’s purported need to expand its already efficient all-seeing eye. Current law requires annual reporting by the Department of Justice (DOJ) regarding the use of the government’s wiretapping powers; the report includes statistics on how often Federal law enforcement has been impeded in a court-authorized investigation by encryption or has been unable to access communications. These statistics show that this has happened only rarely. In its most recent report—from 2010—DOJ reported that encryption had only been encountered all of 12 times.
Did the encryption stop the investigation, or even prevent the wiretappers from figuring out what was being said? No. The report admits that in all of these instances, police were able to obtain the plain text of communications. Previous years’ numbers are similar. Aside from government reports, in 2012 telecommunications companies also revealed that a very low percentage of law enforcement requests for user information were rejected. In AT&T’s case, only 965 out of over 250,000 requests for user information were rejected. Overall, the available public statistics don’t appear to support the FBI’s claims about its inability to access communications.
Law Enforcement Already Has Unprecedented Access
Any requested expansion of FBI surveillance authority has to consider the overall ability of law enforcement to investigate crimes. What the FBI doesn’t mention when pushing new backdoors into our communications is that now, due to the shift to digital communications, law enforcement has an unprecedented level of access to, and knowledge of, the public’s communications, relationships, transactions, whereabouts, and movements. Law enforcement now can gain 24/7 monitoring of most people’s movements using cell phone location data. But that’s just the beginning. A glance at the Wall Street Journal‘s multi-year What They Know project shows some of the treasure troves of data that are being maintained about all of us. By accessing these databases and by using new electronic surveillance technologies law enforcement already has visibility into almost every aspect of our online and offline lives—capabilities beyond the wildest dreams of police officers just a few decades ago.
Indeed, former White House Chief Counselor for Privacy Peter Swire and Kenesa Ahmad argued persuasively in 2011 that, overall, “today [is] a golden age for surveillance“—regardless of whether law enforcement is assured of automatic access to each and every kind of communication, and regardless of whether individuals sometimes succeed in using privacy technologies to protect themselves against some kinds of surveillance.
First, there’s information obtained from cell phones. In July 2012, the New York Times reported that federal, state, and local law enforcement officials had requested all kinds of cell phone data—including mappings of suspects’ locations—a staggering 1.3 million times in the previous year. Cell phone companies can create what amounts to detailed maps of our locations and turn them over to law enforcement. Even without asking for cell phone providers’ direct assistance, law enforcement has considerable ability to use mobile devices to track us. Federal and state law enforcement have made extensive use of IMSI catchers (also popularly called “stingrays,” after the brand name of one such device). These devices can act as a fake cell phone tower, observing all devices in a certain area to find a cell phone’s location in real-time, and perhaps even intercept phone calls and texts.
Laws compelling companies to divulge user information accompany these techniques. For instance, National Security Letters, served on communications service providers like phone companies and ISPs, allow the FBI to secretly demand stored data about ordinary Americans’ private communications and Internet activity without any meaningful oversight or prior judicial review. And Section 215 of the PATRIOT Act allows for secret court orders to collect “tangible things” that could be relevant to a government investigation. The list of possible “tangible things” the government can obtain is seemingly limitless, and could include everything from driver’s license records to Internet browsing patterns. The FBI has even broken into individuals’ computers to collect data from inside the computers themselves. More backdoors aren’t needed.
Backdoors Make Us Weaker and More Vulnerable
CALEA II will force companies with messaging services—from Google to Twitter to video game developers—to insert backdoors into their platforms. But backdoors only make us weaker and more vulnerable. It’s ironic that CALEA II may be proposed only months after Congress pushed “cybersecurity” legislation to protect our networks. The notion of mandating backdoors in software is the antithesis of online security, which is why some academics have called it a “ticking time bomb.”
A proposal to expand backdoors into communications software ensures that online hackers, communications company insiders, and nation-states have a direct entrance to attack—and steal from—companies and government agencies. In one notorious example, someone exploited backdoors in a Greek phone company’s systems and recorded sensitive conversations involving the Prime Minister. Wiretapping backdoors even affect national security. In 2012, Wired revealed the NSA’s discovery and concern that every telephone switch for sale to the Department of Defense had security vulnerabilities due to the legally-mandated wiretap implementation. If politicians are serious about online security, they will not make these security blunders even worse by bringing more sensitive communication technologies under CALEA’s scope.
Just last week, an ad hoc group of twenty renowned computer security experts issued a report explaining their consensus that CALEA II proposals could seriously harm computer security. These experts said that a requirement to weaken security with deliberate backdoors “amounts to developing for our adversaries capabilities that they may not have the competence, access or resources to develop on their own.”
And now the Washington Post has reported that intruders, allegedly working on behalf of the Chinese government, broke into Google’s existing surveillance systems. (In this case, the report says that the intruders learned who was targeted by these systems, rather than accessing the contents of the targets’ accounts or communications—but it’s easy to see that wiretap contents would ultimately represent an even bigger target, and a bigger prize. Even more exciting would be the prospect of remotely activating new wiretaps against victims of an intruder’s choice.)
Internet Users Have the Right to Secure Communications
Expanding CALEA is not only a tremendous risk for our online security; it’s a slap in the face of Internet users who want to protect themselves online by choosing privacy-protecting software to shield their communications. Ordinary individuals, businesses, and journalists want and often need state-of-the art software to protect their communications in an era of pervasive spying by commercial rivals, criminals, and governments around the world. The government’s rhetoric takes us back to the early 1990s when US law enforcement spoke openly of banning secure encryption software to keep it out of the public’s hands. EFF and others had to fight—including in the Federal courts—to establish the principle that publishing and using encryption tools is an essential matter of individual freedom and protected by the First Amendment.
Once those “crypto wars” were over, the US government seemed to accept the right of Americans to secure communications and abandon the idea of forcing innovators to dumb down these technologies. We turned our concerns to foreign governments, several of whom were trying to ban communications tools for being “too private.” (For instance, the Associated Press reported five countries threatened to ban BlackBerry services in 2010 because the services protected user privacy too well.) Americans, including the US State Department, began supporting the development and distribution of secure communications tools to foreign rights activists who need them. Now this battle may be coming home.
Even with these tools, most Americans can protect only a tiny fraction of the trail of data we leave behind electronically as we live our lives. But we still have the right to choose them and try our best to keep our private communications private.
CALEA Must Not Come Back
The government should place any proposal to expand CALEA on hold. There is little evidence the FBI is actually “going dark,” especially when balanced with all the new information they have access to about our communications. And backdoors make everyone weaker. In a time when “cybersecurity” is supposed to be a top priority in Washington, the FBI is pushing a scheme that directly undermines everyone’s online security and interferes with both innovation and the freedom of users to choose the technologies that best protect them. Tell the White House now to stop the proposal in its tracks.
An FBI agent shot Tamerlan Tsarnaev-linked triple murder suspect Ibragim Todashev in Florida, allegedly after the suspect attacked him with a knife. But Todashev’s father Abdulbaki told RT he strongly doubted his son could attack the agent first.
Following reports that a Chechen man Ibragim Todashev, suspected in a 2011 triple murder in Massachusetts alongside the elder Tsarnaev and questioned about the Boston bombings previously, was shot by an FBI agent during interrogation in Orlando, Florida, RT had a phone conversation with the suspect’s father.
The elder Todashev described his son as “a very calm” man, who wouldn’t become aggressive for no reason.
“Never in his life would he attack anyone unprovoked,” Abdulbaki Todashev stressed.
Abdulbaki, who lives in Grozny, Chechnya, said he was not contacted by anyone from the US, and his only sources about Ibragim’s fate were neighbors citing media agencies.
Having heard the reports that Ibragim was questioned by a group of people, including several policemen, Abdulbaki also said he does not believe he would rush to engage in a one-sided fight.
He explained that his 27-year-old son studied in the Russian city of Saratov, and later in Grozny, but decided to give up his education and move to the US after going on a student internship there.
Ibragim decided to leave for Florida because he “liked America,” Abdulbaki explained, adding he never got to know what occupation, if any, his son had in the US, other than practicing sports.
Abdulbaki said they were not acquainted with the Tsarnaev family at home in Chechnya. Ibragim knew Tamerlan Tsarnaev only because they went to the same gym when he stayed in Boston, he added.
Ibragim “couldn’t take part” in the Boston Marathon bombings as he was undergoing a surgical operation on his tendons in Florida days before the bombings and “had to learn how to walk again,” the father said.
Todashev’s friend Kushen Taramov said he and Ibragim had been interrogated about the bombings earlier this week.
But reports said that on Wednesday the investigators were questioning Todashev over his alleged role in an unsolved 2011 triple homicide in Waltham, Massachusetts, which the bombing suspects Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev have been implicated in, and that he was ready to sign a confession.
Todashev allegedly took out a knife and attacked the FBI agent questioning him, but was shot to death.
Taramov said Ibragim was going to fly back home to Chechnya, but the FBI insisted that he postpone his trip for “one last” interview. Abdulbaki also knew that his son was flying to Grozny on May 24.
- This story is true; the facts have been fabricated to keep the false flag flying
- FBI’s Track Record On Creating Terrorism Destroys The Official Boston Marathon Bombing Narrative
- Boston Bombing investigation will mirror the Oklahoma City Bombing cover-up
- Israeli police head to US to aid in Boston Marathon bombing investigation
- Industry: biometrics business valued at $10 billion by 2018
- Rahm Emanuel Stresses Value Of Surviellance Cameras In Probe Of Boston Bombings
- Expanding Security State
United States President Barack Obama is likely to endorse a Federal Bureau of Investigation effort that would ensure all Internet companies in the US provide a way for the government to conduct undetected, backdoor surveillance.
The FBI has been considering solutions to their so-called “Going Dark” problem as intricate methods of encryption and advances in technology have made it increasingly difficult for the federal government and law enforcement to gain access to online communications conducted in the shadows of the Web. Should the latest efforts of the FBI move forward, though, Internet companies that act as any conduit for correspondence of any kind would be heavily fined if they don’t include in their infrastructure a way for the government to eavesdrop on that dialogue in real time.
At a press conference in Washington, DC in March, FBI general counsel Andrew Weissmann said the Department of Justice was determined to have the means to wiretap any online communication by 2014 and called it “a huge priority for the FBI.” Further developments last month revealed that the FBI was considering a fine-based model under which Internet companies would be forced to comply or risk being penalized beyond repair.
On Tuesday, New York Times reporter Charlie Savage cited Obama administration officials as saying the president “is on the verge of backing” that very plan.
Savage explained that while companies would be allowed to operate without giving the government backdoor access, the fees would likely limit the number of entities willing to challenge the order. As RT reported last month, a company that doesn’t comply with the FBI’s orders would be fined $25,000 after 90 days. Additional penalties would then be tacked on every day an Internet service provider, website or other company fails to comply — with the price of the penalty doubling each day they don’t assist investigators.
“While the FBI’s original proposal would have required Internet communications services to each build in a wiretapping capacity, the revised one, which must now be reviewed by the White House, focuses on fining companies that do not comply with wiretap orders,” wrote Savage. “The difference, officials say, means that start-ups with a small number of users would have fewer worries about wiretapping issues unless the companies became popular enough to come to the Justice Department’s attention.”
Savage quoted a statement in his article from Weissmann in which the FBI attorney said, “This doesn’t create any new legal surveillance authority.” Instead, said Weissman, “None of the ‘going dark’ solutions would do anything except update the law given means of modern communications.”
“This always requires a court order,” he said.
Coincidently, that same issue has had major developments in its own right this week. On Wednesday morning, CNET reporter Declan McCullagh wrote that the Justice Department circulated memos in which they insisted that obtaining a search warrant isn’t necessary to eavesdrop on Internet communication of any sort.
“The US Department of Justice and the FBI believe they don’t need a search warrant to review Americans’ e-mails, Facebook chats, Twitter direct messages and other private files, internal documents reveal,” wrote McCullagh, citing a government documents obtained by the American Civil Liberties Union and provided to CNET.
According to McCullagh, those documents include very specific instructions from high-importance officials that demonstrate the Justice Department’s disinterest in applying established law when it comes to eavesdropping on Americans. While Weissmann made the argument that the FBI plan reportedly backed by the president won’t change what rules the DoJ operates by, the memos obtained by McCullagh paints the Obama White House as an administration unwilling to work with the already broad surveillance powers provided to it.
In one memo unearthed by the ACLU, McCullagh said the US attorney for Manhattan instructed his office that an easy-to-obtain legal paper that requires no judicial oversight is all that’s needed to obtain personal correspondence.
“[A] subpoena — a piece of paper signed by a prosecutor, not a judge — is sufficient to obtain nearly ‘all records from an ISP,’” McCullagh wrote.
In another instance, McCullagh said the US attorney in Houston, Texas obtained the “contents of stored communications” from another ISP without getting a judge to sign a warrant.
One current law that limits how and when authorities can obtain a suspect’s email pursuant to a criminal investigation, the Electronic Communication Privacy Act, provides that while a warrant is needed for relatively recent correspondence, a comparably easier to get administrative subpoena is all that’s required to get communication older than 180 days. Provisions of the ECPA have been largely unchanged since it was passed in the mid-1980s, but last month a Senate Judiciary Committee approved an amendment that would require a warrant in all instances.
In advocating for fewer restrictions when obtaining store communication, the FBI’s Wessmann said in April that another law, 1994’s Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act, needs to be expanded so investigators can leap over current hurdles that keep them from conducting real time wiretaps of online discussions.
“You do have laws that say you need to keep things for a certain amount of time, but in the cyber realm you can have companies that keep things for five minutes,” he said. “You can imagine totally legitimate reasons for that, but you can also imagine how enticing that ability is for people who are up to no good because the evidence comes and it goes.”
In the wake of the Boston Marathon bombing on April 15, renewed calls across the country have been made to make it easier for investigators to quickly conduct surveillance — in and off the Web. A recent poll found that roughly two-thirds of Americans favored more surveillance cameras in public places, and now the nation’s top law officials are asking for increased spy power not just on the streets but on the Web.
Earlier this month, Google Chairman Eric Schmidt said at a discussion in Washington, “When you come across an advocate for one thing — an advocate for security, and advocate for privacy — they’re often arguing from a position without understanding that it’s a two-edged sword.”
“For example, very strong encryption would allow you and I to have a very, very secure communication: If we were criminals, if we were dissidents, if we were martyrs or if we were just doing a little business,” he said. “If you could figure out a way to ban very strong encryption from evil people and only allow good people…then this would be easy,” he said.
- Obama administration bypasses CISPA by secretly allowing Internet surveillance (alethonews.wordpress.com)
- Spy, or pay up: FBI-backed bill would fine US firms for refusing wiretaps (alethonews.wordpress.com)
- To Ease Internet Snooping, Feds Promise To Ignore Privacy Violations (reason.com)
For decades, pretentious wonks have declared that we live in “The Information Age,” as if information were a commodity unique to our time. Inanity aside, the claim is patently false, notwithstanding the advent of computers and virtually instant communication.
We do not live in an “Information Age” because “information” connotes data that is beneficial and objectively valid. Information can help solve problems, educate, and generally improve life. This was true of written language, movable type, the radio and the telephone, but look around today—do you see problems being solved, people becoming smarter, or life getting better? I thought not.
A more accurate expression for our time is “The Disinformation Age.” Though it is also not unique to our time, it at least captures the pervasive abuse of information that has made our society the opposite of an “informed” rational society: dissent is a subversive act; citizens are enemies of the state; the media conceal evidence; and the police enforce police-state edicts.
If these dystopian qualities were the basis for a movie or TV show, we could take comfort in the knowledge that justice would eventually prevail.
We’d be able to cheer for a rebellious anti-hero like John Connor (Terminator series), Det. Del Spooner (I, Robot), or Insp. Harry Callaghan (Dirty Harry series) to bring down the system. We would see detectives or scientists analyzing evidence (Columbo, CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, Bones) instead of destroying or ignoring it. We might be treated to the sight of the police treating a suspect humanely and reading him his rights (Kojak, Hill Street Blues, Dragnet). We might even see a dogged investigator exposing a cover up or government corruption (All The President’s Men, Erin Brockovich), instead of scheming to keep it hidden from the public.
This world of scripted entertainment, unreal though it may be, is able to depict healthy relationships between authorities and the truth, and between authorities and citizens. Such shows do not depict an idealized future; they give us fading afterimages of our society before the Military-Israel Complex and neo-conservative sociopaths gave us the “War on Terrorism” and declared justice obsolete. Here’s how the Boston Marathon bombing was scripted to serve the expanding surveillance state and stoke the “War on Terrorism.”
• Stage a lethal attack against a civilian U.S. target;
• Blame Arabs or some other Middle Eastern-looking types for the crime;
• Have FBI agents in place to ensure containment and control of the investigation;
• Justify their existence by having a “bomb drill” going on at the same time;
• Keep the public ignorant of the drill;
• Make sure the scapegoats are killed or otherwise kept away from the media;
• Stage conspicuous displays of gratitude for police agencies to reinforce the illusion that they are needed to fight “terrorism”; and
• Ensure that evidence is ignored or destroyed, and dissenting voices are harassed into submission so that the pre-established cover story can be marketed to a gullible public.
Like the 2001World Trade Centre Attack, which followed the same basic script although on a much larger scale, the Boston Marathon bombing story has come completely unraveled. Every couple of days it seems that some other detail comes out that demands to be investigated:
• No credible motive was ever given for the Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaerv to have made the bombs.
• The FBI failed to disclose knowing the brothers; the agency had had a relationship with them going back at least two years.
• The FBI had to know them because the boys’ uncle Ruslan Tsarni (formerly Tsarnaev) is an ex-contractor for Halliburton, and was married to the daughter of Graham Fuller, a former vice chairman of the National Intelligence Council at the CIA and senior political scientist at RAND.
• Boston Police claim Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was shot in a gunfight, but video footage shows that he was unarmed.
• Dzhokhar was accused of leaving his bomb-laden backpack at the race, but a surveillance pic clearly shows him leaving with it.
• No explanation was given for the sudden appearance of Israeli police who just happened to be there to lend assistance.
• The public was not told that several members of a private security kill squad were on site.
This last omission, combined with the FBI’s immediate refusal to consider other suspects, clearly suggests a false-flag scenario. The following table identifies this kill squad.
Are these the Marathon bombers?
Click here for downloadable pdf enlargement.
To date, no news agency will touch this angle, even though these and other pics have been available on the Internet for weeks. Nevertheless, New Hampshire State Senator Sheila Tremblay correctly said that a black ops team was behind the bombing and even cast doubt on the claims of injury since one amputee did not look as if he were in pain. This was undoubtedly true because many of the amputees were paid actors who had already lost their limbs. Tremblay was pressured into issuing a political apology.
If this were part of a movie script, I guarantee there would be a crusading detective or journalist examining the evidence, interviewing people like Tremblay honestly, and asking intelligent questions like:
What was Craft International doing at the Marathon?
Why were they even needed?
How many Craft mercenaries were on site?
Who hired them—FBI, DHS, Boston police?
Why were amputee actors in the crowd, and who hired them?
What are the names of the two agents in pic #1?
Have these agents been interviewed regarding the missing backpack?
Has anyone proved that the exploded backpack even belonged to the Tsarnaev brothers?
For an excellent example of how justice triumphs over police corruption in the world of entertainment, the 1997 movie L.A. Confidential has thematic elements in common with the Boston bombing. [CAUTION SPOILER ALERT]
The film, centres around the culture of violence and corruption that pervades the L.A. Police Department in the 1950s. The catalyzing event is a multiple murder that takes place late one night in a seedy diner. A car belonging to “three negroes” was seen in the area at the time, and so the precinct captain makes them the sole focus of police inquiries.
Under interrogation, a career-minded but idealistic lieutenant realizes the story doesn’t wash, and starts looking for answers. He finds unlikely support from a thuggish officer and a sergeant who works on a TV show.
If you’re wondering what an honest investigation into the Boston Marathon bombing might have looked like, here are a few scenes for your entertainment. Shows like this accurately reflect our police-state but they can inure us to disinformation. This kind of entertainment has to be seen not as a comforting, nostalgic escape, but the basis for a new reality script since the one we have is transparently indefensible.
- FBI’s Track Record On Creating Terrorism Destroys The Official Boston Marathon Bombing Narrative
- Boston Bombing investigation will mirror the Oklahoma City Bombing cover-up
- Israeli police head to US to aid in Boston Marathon bombing investigation
- Industry: biometrics business valued at $10 billion by 2018
- Rahm Emanuel Stresses Value Of Surviellance Cameras In Probe Of Boston Bombings
- Expanding Security State
Whoever imagines our first black president and his first black attorney general had little or nothing to do with naming Assata Shakur its “most wanted terrorist” list is deep in denial and delusion. “Terrorist,” as my colleague Glen Ford points out, has never been anything but a political label, applied by the authorities for their own political purposes. The international legal angle as well, with Assata Shakur receiving political asylum from the Cuban government the last 30 years, also makes her placement on that list something that Attorney General Eric Holder and President Barack Obama absolutely had to carefully consider and approve.
A lot has changed in the forty years since Assata Shakur was wounded and captured in New Jersey. The press conference announcing her capture was doubtless headed up by white police and district attorneys. Back then, black faces were pretty scarce in the top ranks of cops and prosecutors anywhere, and J. Edgar Hoover had only recently left the FBI. Last week’s announcement of the $2 million bounty on Assata’s head was anchored by a high ranking black cop, and of course, there are black faces in the offices of president and US Attorney General. People who call themselves progressives, do call that “progress,” don’t they?
The premiere federal initiative for political policing was something called COINTELPRO. COINTELPRO was a secret “counterintelligence,” as in “counter-intelligent” and/or evil multiplied by stupid federal program which for 25 years labeled thousands of civic organizations, churches, labor unions, and grassroots movements as threats to “national security.” Federal agents secretly coordinated local police and media assets in hundreds of campaigns to discredit and destroy those organizations, utilizing illegal surveillance, agents provocateur and media slander. Individual leaders and participants were harassed, falsely prosecuted and imprisoned, and sometimes murdered. COINTELPRO’s existence only came to light as a result of US Senate select committee chaired by Senator Frank Church hearings in 1975.
The good news about COINTELPRO was first, that the government of those days wasn’t bold enough, that it felt too hemmed in and prevented by the American people from openly targeting political dissidents for assassination and murder, and second, that it eventually did come to light. Government officials even had to pay token damages in a handful of cases, such as the murder of Illinois Black Panther chairman Fred Hampton, and publicly claim their official misconduct had ended.
Forty years later though, we live in the era of secret kidnappings, regular torture, ghost prisons and executive branch murder by drones or special ops teams. Today the federal Department of Homeland Security funds counter-terrorism fusion centers which openly disseminate the kind of inflammatory and fanciful disinformation to local police and security contractors about those the government wants targeted that J. Edgar Hoover’s FBI agents had to come around and whisper in their ears. Now that is progress.
Forty years and change ago, the whole constellation of African American leadership wrapped its arms around the segments of the black movement that came under vicious police assault. I was a member of the Black Panther Party in Chicago in 1969 and 70, and we never had as many friends as we did when our offices were riddled with gunfire or our members murdered by police. Back then, when everyone from the Urban League and the NAACP to Operation Breadbasket and the Afro-American Patrolman’s League stood up for us. Those who’ve viewed the recently released documentary Free Angela Davis & All Political Prisoners can see the same phenomenon of four decades ago, with Rev. Ralph David Abernathy wrapping his arms around “our sister Angela Davis” when she was accused of murder in the deaths of a judge and others in California.
It’s been a week now since the $2 million dollar bounty and “most wanted terrorist” announcement. In that time, not a single nationally noted African American “leader” has raised his or her voice. Not Ben Jealous. Not a single black mayor or member of the Congressional Black Caucus. Not Rev. Jesse L. Jackson, and certainly not the presidential lap dog Al Sharpton. Sharpton has worn wires for the FBI more than once, and is credibly accused of trying to get close to people who were rumored to be close to Assata Shakur in the 1980s. Those people wisely avoided Rev. Al.
Such is the pressure of subservient conformity among the black political class that not a single African American politician, religious leader, or personage of national note has opened his or her mouth in Assata Shakur’s defense, with the solitary exception of Angela Davis, once a political prisoner and fugitive in the days before the word “terrorist” had been coined. Lockstep conformity like this is hard to shake. In their 45 minutes in an otherwise excellent Democracy Now show mostly devoted to Assata Shakur’s case, neither Shakur’s attorney Lennox Hinds nor Angela Davis could bring themselves even to hint that the president and attorney general were responsible for branding her as the nation’s “most wanted terrorist.”
Four decades have seen the flowering of elite affirmative action in the military, corporate America and in American political life. Our black political class never tires of holding their own illustrious careers up as “the fulfillment of Dr. King’s dream.” But the fact is that US corporations couldn’t do business in Africa without black faces. The US couldn’t give military aid and training for a quarter century to 52 out of 54 African governments, arming all sides of every civil and international conflict in the most war torn regions of the planet, without black diplomats, black admirals and black generals. It couldn’t deploy the world’s most massive prison and police state without hundreds of thousands of black prison guards and police, some in the most senior positions and many more in line behind them.
All these are the fruits of what passes for social and racial “progress” in these United States.
This then, is the real function of corporate and elite affirmative action, and of the black political class itself. Whether it’s moving the corporate agenda of gentrification through the destruction of public housing, carrying out social security and Medicare cuts, or waging open war upon the unapproved segments of the African American movement for justice and liberation, black faces in high places have repeatedly proven themselves the more effective evil, able to blunt leftish opposition and carry out policies that white elites can only dream of without their help.
Assata Shakur is not a terrorist. She was shot with her hands in the air, and no residue from gunfire was detected on her hands or clothes or that would have been introduced as evidence at her trial. Her all white jury was instructed to convict her for simply being there, and they did just that. She was a political prisoner, and the only “crime” she can reasonably be accused of is escaping and living out her life the last three decades in Cuba. Government officials do admit that her “terrorist” activity consists of occasional writings and speeches which advocate radical change, and the example of her peaceful life and political asylum 90 miles from Florida.
If that’s all it takes to be a “terrorist,” many thousands of today’s yesterday’s and tomorrow’s black and non-black political activists inside the U.S. are “terrorists” as well. There’s a global war on terror, and now it openly includes the black liberation movement, basically everybody to the left of the established black political class. In the wake of this announcement, can there be any doubt that many more names are or will soon come up at the president’s “terror Tuesday” meetings, at which the White House boasts it considers who next to kidnap or murder? We’re all fair game now.
President Obama obviously hopes the label “terrorist” will scare present and future activists from learning what there is to know from the proud traditions of African American and other resistance to empire. He hopes to intimidate and frighten ordinary people, especially young people, into the same kind of conformity as their supposed “leaders.”
Back in 2007 and 2008, candidate Barack Obama confided to editorial boards and others a number of times that Ronald Reagan was his favorite president. We should have listened to him a lot more closely. It’s a safe guess now, that J. Edgar Hoover is his favorite cop.
Bruce A. Dixon can be reached at bruce.dixon(at)blackagendareport.com.
A few days ago, I noticed this piece at FDL: “’Homeland Security’ Spending Overtakes New Deal“
TomDispatch: this country has spent a jaw-dropping $791 billion on ‘homeland security’ since 9/11. To give you a sense of just how big that is, Washington spent an inflation-adjusted $500 billion on the entire New Deal.
Two indicators of the expanding security state that caught my attention in the last few days:
1. Glenn Greenwald: “Are all telephone calls recorded and accessible to the US government?“
2. A massive lockdown in the Madison WI area (where I live).
A fugitive, Paris Poe, whom the FBI wanted for parole violation and questioning in a murder investigation, was spotted at a hotel in a Madison, WI suburb. Poe had previously been imprisoned for armed robbery. A large area encompassing much of Vernona, Fitchburg, and part of Madison, WI was then essentially locked down and swarmed with SWAT teams in a day-long manhunt.
Reverse 911 calls were made to all landlines (about 30,000 homes) asking residents to lock their doors and remain inside. Police asked all the businesses in their area to close and lock their doors. All six schools in the area were placed on lockdown and surrounded by police. In Verona, no-one could enter or exit the schools. In some classrooms, children were told to crouch under their desks for hours. In some schools, children were herded into the gym. Children were prohibited from using the bathroom, since that would involve leaving their rooms, and were told to urinate in buckets. Parents could not pick up their children since entry or exit was prohibited. Once the lockdown was ended, parents were required to present ID to take their children home. During the escalating panic, it was stated that Poe was on the FBI’s most wanted list, but he was not.
Late in the day, Poe was arrested far outside the locked down area. He was apparently unarmed, faces no charges in WI, and will be transported back to IL. News stories here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here.
Does anyone else see something wrong with this picture?
Every year, 4,600 Americans are killed in work place related accidents. Every 28 hours a black person is killed by police, corrections officers, security guards or vigilantes. Every year more than 30,000 people are killed by gun violence in this country. The odds of being killed by a terrorist are only 1 in 20 million.
These statistics are rarely mentioned and never had a chance to be addressed after two bombs were exploded during the Boston marathon. Death under horrific but commonplace circumstances attracts scant media attention or political action. Acts labeled as terrorism, which are unlikely to kill anyone, bring an inordinate amount of hysteria among the populace and cynical attention from press and politicians.
Just two days after the Boston marathon a fertilizer plant in West, Texas exploded, killing 14 people, most of them the much worshiped “first responders.” The risk of dying in an industrial accident is far greater than the odds of being killed by a terrorist, but no matter. The people were whipped into a frenzy and told to cast their eyes in the place where they should pay less attention rather than more.
It is frightening that the risks which Americans are subjected to on a daily basis are ignored as if they are unwanted background noise. Some of the passivity is understandable. Black people in particular are able to function in large part because the ever present risk of stop and frisk, false arrest, and police brutality are difficult to bear. There is a thin line between being conscious and losing one’s mind.
All Americans’ behavior is understandable if one acknowledges that we are constantly subjected to propaganda of various kinds. We have been propagandized to believe that some lives, white Americans’, are more valuable than others, namely anyone not white nor from the United States. There is no other way to explain why the government’s killing of thousands of people abroad is met with a shrug, if it is acknowledged at all. Americans are like spoiled children, whining over their suffering, while showing no empathy for anyone else’s. They feel that only their victimization is worthy of note, and in fact many of them support their government’s acts of violence carried out around the world.
That feeling of entitlement is a direct result of centuries of white supremacy which has never been examined or challenged. It has been fed as corporate power has grown and corrupted the media who now aren’t even very good at the basics of their profession. CNN, NPR, the Associated Press and other supposedly reputable news organizations reported wrongly on basic facts of the case such as the number of suspects, whether arrests had been made or not, or who was or wasn’t a person of interest. A “dark skinned man” was said to be under arrest but actually wasn’t. An Indian student missing since March was named as a suspect on social media and his family were threatened as a result.
After the wave of manufactured hysteria an easily frightened people were then convinced to accept tanks in their streets and heed government calls to “shelter in place.” The nonsensical overreaction was superseded only by the use of Orwellian jargon used to create an even more compliant public.
The predictably maudlin moments of silence weren’t restricted to Boston. More than $20 million in monetary contributions were raised without the donors knowing who needed it or for what purpose. Tributes flowed along with money and no one ran a race anywhere on earth without mentioning the bravery of Bostonians. The president showed up and as always on such occasions uttered words seemingly written by his worst speechwriters. The full force of the government would catch the cowards and the people would not be frightened because they are the best and freest in the world and the prayers of the nation went out to them because of democracy and the whole world stood beside them. Amen.
There is another kind of terror that goes on continually. Most reported terror plots of recent years were created entirely by government agents. The FBI had some contact with Tamerlan Tsarnaev who was killed by police in the bombing after math. It is possible that the FBI moved from creating phony terror plots to actually carrying one out. The likelihood that there will ever be impartial fact finding on this and other questions are slim to none.
Dzokhar Tsarnaev now lies in a hospital wounded by police gunfire and questioned without being read his rights. That treatment is a result of an Obama executive order which states that in cases of a “public safety exception” we have no such rights. Now that is everyday terror.
Margaret Kimberley can be reached via e-Mail at Margaret.Kimberley(at)BlackAgendaReport.com.
- Manufacturing Terrorists – How FBI sting operations make jihadists out of hapless malcontents (therearenosunglasses.wordpress.com)
Following last week’s hyped up media reports on the arrest of a Mississippi man for mailing poisonous letters to US President Barack Obama, a senator and a judge, the FBI has announced that it has not found any poison-making materials at his home.
“There was no apparent ricin, castor beans or any material there that could be used for the manufacturing, like a blender or something,” FBI (Federal Bureau of Investigation) Agent Brandon Grant testified Friday at a preliminary hearing at a federal court in Oxford, Mississippi, according to local press reports on Monday and Tuesday.
Paul Kevin Curtis was arrested and charged last Wednesday on suspicion of mailing three letters tainted with ricin, a fatal biological poison, to Obama, Mississippi Republican Senator Roger Wicker and a state judge just a day after the deadly Boston Marathon bombings on April 15, prompting growing fears across the US that the country may be under another major attack, reminiscent of the September 11, 2001 incidents in New York and Virginia that killed nearly 3,000 people.
Meanwhile, Curtis’ attorney, Christi McCoy, has insisted that “There is absolutely not a shred of evidence to link this poor guy” to an attempted poisoning.
“That’s the truth!” McCoy said. “He is the perfect scapegoat, the perfect patsy, and it’s really sad because at first everybody’s like, you know, he’s kind of crazy, maybe he did it. But as the searches continued, there’s just nothing on this guy. Nothing on his computers, in his car, in his house.”
US authorities first insisted that the letters tested positive for containing the deadly bio agent but then announced that more accurate examination of the mailings must be conducted at specialized FBI laboratories to confirm earlier tests.
This is while the FBI announced on Wednesday that is was still waiting for a “final word on whether the letters to Obama and Wicker definitely contained ricin.”
“The initial tests can be inaccurate,” a Washington Post report emphasized on Thursday, adding that in 2004 a letter sent to a top US senator was initially believed to contain ricin but additional tests proved it was harmless.
The letters sent to Obama and Wicker were reportedly similar in content and the origin of their postmark, Memphis, Tennessee. They read, “To see a wrong and not expose it, is to become a silent partner to its continuance.” Both of them were signed, “I am KC and I approve this message.”
According to local reports last Thursday, at least five other senators were reportedly forced into an emergency mode for receiving “suspicious” packages at their offices in Washington or their home states, “prompting evacuations of their staff and lock downs of many more.”
Furthermore, US police ordered thousand of congressional staffers and aides not to leave their offices after a bag was reportedly sighted at the entrance way of a Senate office building, as a bomb squad raced towards the Capitol Hill. Two hours later, however, the package, as well as two letters delivered to the officers of two senators was cleared as not harmful.
Curtis, according to US press reports, held a “morbid” theory that the American government was involved in an organ-selling conspiracy after observing body parts in the freezer of the hospital where he used to work in 1999.
Shortly after the 9/11 attacks in 2001, the US confronted a series of alleged ‘anthrax attacks’ that were never formally solved. A former Army scientist, Steven Hatfill, was falsely and publicly implicated and later exonerated by way of several lawsuit settlements. Officials later focused on Army microbiologist Bruce Ivins, who killed himself in 2008, though the case against him was also met with doubts.
- No Ricin Found at Poison-Letter Suspect’s Home, FBI Says – Bloomberg (bloomberg.com)
- FBI: No evidence of poison at home of ricin mail suspect (thehill.com)
- Unlearned lessons from the Steven Hatfill case
- The Anthrax Attack Was a Classic False Flag Operation Targeting Arabs
- Federal Bureau of Invention?
The Federal Bureau of Investigation or the FBI has been manufacturing fake terror plots only to later claim that they foiled the same plots that they created. This is a historical fact. They have been doing this for decades and have greatly accelerated these programs following the 9/11 attacks and the official launch of the so-called war on terror. Is it any surprise that the FBI was in close contact with at least one of the two Russian brothers who have been accused by the FBI of being behind the Boston Marathon bombings? It shouldn’t be when you also consider that the FBI actually allowed the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center to go forward and did nothing to stop it. Accusations have even been made by Oklahoma City bombing conspirator Terry Nichols that a high level FBI source had been directing Tim McVeigh in the plot to blow up the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building. So not only does the FBI have a track record of creating fake terror plots but they have a track record of allowing real terror plots to take place. With this in mind, the FBI has no credibility with their alleged on-going investigation into the Boston Marathon bombings.
Let’s first take a look back at the FBI’s involvement in the events that led up to the 1993 World Trade Center bombing. The FBI actually had foreknowledge of the bombing through one of their informants Emad Salem. Salem was embedded amongst a group of Muslims who the FBI believed were preparing to launch terrorist attacks. The group included Ramzi Yousef and others who would eventually be sentenced to prison in connection with the bombing.
In 1992 roughly a full year before the attack, Salem told his handlers at the FBI that the group was building a bomb. The original plan was for Salem to substitute harmless powder for the explosives but the plan was called off by an FBI supervisor who claimed Salem could be used better in other ways. Not trusting his FBI handlers, Salem recorded many hours of their conversations. The transcripts of these conversations clearly reveal that the FBI knew about a real terrorist plot but did nothing to stop it. The news of these transcripts was reported in media outlets including CBS News and the New York Times.
Moving on to the Oklahoma City bombing, below is an excerpt from a 2007 Salt Lake Tribune article regarding Terry Nichols statement claiming that Tim McVeigh was being directed by the FBI.
Oklahoma City bombing conspirator Terry Nichols says a high-ranking FBI official “apparently” was directing Timothy McVeigh in the plot to blow up a government building and might have changed the original target of the attack, according to a new affidavit filed in U.S. District Court in Utah.
The official and other conspirators are being protected by the federal government “in a cover-up to escape its responsibility for the loss of life in Oklahoma,” Nichols claims in a Feb. 9 affidavit.
Needless to say, the official story of the Oklahoma City bombing is littered with unanswered questions. The documentary film A Noble Lie goes over the mountain of evidence proving that the government had prior knowledge of the Oklahoma City bombing and participated in a massive cover up.
Worse yet, there is a substantial amount of evidence indicating that the government was involved in the attacks themselves. The ATF had offices in the Alfred P. Murrah building but ATF personnel were conveniently told not to come into work the day of the bombing. There were also eyewitness accounts and local media reports confirming that there were in fact multiple bombs inside the building. The only way bombs of such sophistication could have been put inside a secure federal building would be if the people placing them in the building were doing so under some sort of official capacity. This in of itself proves that the Oklahoma City bombings couldn’t have happened unless high level people in the government green lit such an operation. Amazingly, this just represents a small fraction of the evidence proving government involvement in the Oklahoma City bombings.
Since the 9/11 attacks the FBI has been involved in manufacturing a number of terror plots by entrapping a myriad of idiots and bizarre characters. What is significant about this is that these so-called terror plots would not have happened if it weren’t for the activity of undercover FBI informants. There are so many cases of this that it would be almost impossible to include them all in a single article. A book entitled The Terror Factory: Inside the FBI’s Manufactured War on Terrorism written by Trevor Aaronson details several cases of the FBI creating terror plots so they can later make arrests and claim they are making progress in the fake terror war.
Here are just a few of the articles that detail the FBI busting terror plots that they created in the first place.
From the FBI manufacturing fake terror plots to the FBI allowing real terror events to take place, the connection between the FBI and the now allegedly deceased Boston Marathon bomber suspect Tamerlan Tsarnaev is highly suspicious. The odds that he and his brother were setup by the FBI are quite high considering the FBI’s historical track record in dealing with such matters. The FBI has still yet to provide any real evidence proving that these two young men were solely responsible for the bombings. All they have going for them is the mockingbird media repeating generalizations and lies that are not backed up with any facts or logic.
It is painfully obvious that the establishment is struggling to link these two men to known terrorist groups or offer a reasonable motive as to why they would use bombs against innocent people. The official narrative is falling apart and the FBI along with the assorted establishment agencies and corporate media outlets are losing more and more credibility the longer they try to sell this ridiculous story to the public.
- Boston Bombing investigation will mirror the Oklahoma City Bombing cover-up (21stcenturywire.com)
The investigation into Monday’s deadly bombing at the Boston Marathon has officially gone international: law enforcement officials from Israel have been sent to the United States to assist in the probe.
Israel Police Chief Yohanan Danino says he has dispatched officials to Boston, Massachusetts, where they will meet with Federal Bureau of Investigation agents and other authorities, the Times of Israel reports.
Citing an earlier report published by the newspaper Maariv, Times of Israel writes that Danino has dispatched police officers to participate in discussions that “will center on the Boston Marathon bombings and deepening professional cooperation between the law enforcement agencies of both countries.”
The paper reports that Israeli law enforcement planned the trip before the deadly pair of bombings on Monday that has so far claimed three lives, but the discussions will now shift focus in order to see how help from abroad can expand the investigation.
In an address made Tuesday, Israel President Shimon Peres said that tragedies such as this week’s incident in Boston, sadly, bring people together from across the world.
“When it comes to events like this, all of us are one family. We feel a part of the people who paid such a high price. God bless them,” Peres said. “Today the real problem is terror, and terror is not an extension of policy: Their policy is terror, their policy is to threaten. Terrorists divide people, they kill innocent people.”
“This was a heinous and cowardly act,” said Obama from the White House, “and given what we now know the FBI is investigating it as an act of terrorism.”
But even as officials come to assist from as far away as Israel, authorities are still in the dark as far as finding any leads in the case. Pres. Obama has directed the FBI and US Department of Homeland Security to assist in the investigation, but no agencies have identified suspects or motives at this time.
Pres. Obama has also said that his administration has been directed to implement “appropriate security measures to protect the American people,” but details as to what that could mean remain scarce. Meanwhile, at least one leading lawmaker is asking for the US to respond to the terrorist attack by increasing the scope of the ever-expanding surveillance program already growing across the United States.
“I do think we need more cameras,” Rep. Peter King (R-New York) told MSNBC after Monday’s attacks. “We have to stay ahead of the terrorists and I do know in New York, the Manhattan Security Initiative, which is based on cameras, the outstanding work that results from that. So yes, I do favor more cameras. They’re a great law enforcement device. And again, it keeps us ahead of the terrorists, who are constantly trying to kill us.”
New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg has also confirmed that he has dispatched law enforcement officers from the Big Apple to assist in the investigation by meeting with agents at a Boston fusion center, one of the DHS-funded data facilities that collects surveillance camera footage and other evidence in order to analyze events like Monday’s attack.
“We are certainly engaged in the information flow with the FBI through our Joint Terrorism Task Force. We have two New York City police officers, police sergeants, who are in the Boston Regional Intelligence Center,” Bloomberg said on Tuesday. “They’re up there, they’ve been up there since last evening.”
But in a study conducted last year by the Senate’s bipartisan Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, lawmakers found that those fusion centers have been more or less unhelpful in assisting with terrorism probes.
The Department of Homeland Security’s work with state and local fusion centers, the subcommittee wrote, “has not produced useful intelligence to support federal counterterrorism efforts.” Instead, they added, so-called “intelligence” shared between facilities consisted of tidbits of shoddy quality that was often outdated and “sometimes endangering [to] citizen‘s civil liberties and Privacy Act protections.”
“More often than not,” the panel added, information collected and shared at DHS fusion centers was “unrelated to terrorism.”
According to a new report published by Global Industry Analysts, Inc., the President and CEO of biometrics firm SmartMetric posits that the industry will be worth $10 billion by 2018.
SmartMetric, of course, “stands to capitalize significantly on this very large and fast growing market,” so perhaps that projection should be taken with a grain of salt.
But specific figures aside, the industry is undoubtedly booming, and in large part due to US military and law enforcement biometrics programs.
The FBI’s Next Generation Identification biometrics effort, housed in the Center for Biometric Excellence at the FBI-DoD operated Biometrics Technology Center, is the largest domestic operation. Local law enforcement are increasingly also using advanced biometric monitoring equipment, including face recognition and iris scanners.
If you are worried about how powerful biometrics technologies might be used in your city or state, click here to find out how to get involved at the local level to ensure police transparency and democratic accountability.
WASHINGTON – The FBI refuses to provide information on a massive biometric identification database that can identify noncriminal civilians through iris scans, DNA, and facial and voice recognition, a watchdog claims in court.
The Electronic Privacy Information Center, or EPIC, sued the FBI in Federal Court, claiming that the bureau identified more than 7,000 pages of responsive records, but won’t release them.
EPIC claims the FBI began posting details on its website about its biometric identification system, known as Next Generation Identification (NGI), in 2009.
“When completed, the NGI system will be the largest biometric database in the world,” EPIC says in its complaint. “The vast majority of records contained in the NGI database will be of U.S. citizens.”
EPIC claims the NGI system will be able to identify people through fingerprints, iris scans, DNA profiles, voice identification profiles, palm prints and photographs, and will through facial recognition.
“The NGI database will include photographic images of millions of individuals who are neither criminals nor suspects,” the complaint states.
The Department of Homeland Security has spent “hundreds of millions of dollars” into the system, and wants to integrate it into state and local surveillance systems that may use other surveillance technology, giving the government the capability of real-time matching of live feeds from surveillance cameras, EPIC claims.
There are an estimated 30 million surveillance cameras in the United States, but not all of them will be used for law enforcement purposes, EPIC says in the complaint.
It claims private entities will also have access to the system.
EPIC claims the Orwellian system already is up and running in New York City, where police have been scanning irises of arrestees since 2010 and using a handheld device that “allows officers patrolling the streets to scan irises and faces of individuals and match them against biometric databases.”
At least 11 other states participate in the program: Arizona, Hawaii, Kansas, Maryland, Michigan, Missouri, Nebraska, New Mexico, Ohio, South Carolina and Tennessee, according to the complaint.
EPIC claims it submitted two FOIA request in 2012, seeking records on the FBI’s contracts with private contractors Lockheed Martin, IBM, Accenture, BAE Systems Information Technology, Global Science & Technology, Innovation Management & Technology Services, Platinum Solutions, the National Center for State Courts, and any other entities involved with the program.
The FBI said it found 7,380 pages of potentially responsive records but has failed to disclose a single agency record, the complaint states.
EPIC wants to see the records, and wants its FOIA fees waived.