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Why America’s Law Enforcement Empire Resembles Secret Police in a Dictatorship

By Philip M. GIRALDI | Strategic Culture Foundation | 14.12.2017

Secret police are characteristic of dictatorships, or so goes the conventional thinking on the subject. Police in democracies operate for the most part transparently and within a set of rules and guidelines that limits their ability to gratuitously punish citizens who have done nothing wrong. If a policeman operating under rule-of-law steps out of line, he can be held accountable. That is also conventional thinking.

But what happens when an ostensibly “democratic” police force becomes corrupted and starts doing things that are outside its zone of responsibility, and does so to benefit a political relationship that will in turn protect those who have broken the law under cover of carrying out their official duties? That is the characteristic of what we have been calling a “deep state,” where forces drawn generally from the political class and security services conspire together to control what the public is allowed to know while also manipulating nuisances like elections to make sure that the “correct” outcome emerges.

Indeed, deep state operating in a democracy or republic is far more dangerous that the secret police in a dictatorship. That is because in a system where the forces of the state are all-powerful, nearly everyone expects that what they read and what the government says is all a lie. In a democratic system there is what intelligence officers would refer to as plausible denial, which means that even when the government is behaving very badly much of the public will believe that it is acting honorably because they want to trust that the system works. And when the deep state includes management of the media, many citizens will likewise believe what they are reading or hearing is honest reporting, even when it is not.

Due to the events of the past year in particular, many Americans have become convinced that there now exists something like a secret police operating in the United States that is a fusion of some political dealmakers with certain politicized elements in the intelligence and security services. However one regards President Donald Trump and his former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, there is nevertheless something odd in terms of how they have been investigated and, in the case of Flynn, legally entrapped to convict him of lying to the FBI to force him to cut a deal with the Special Counsel inquiry headed by Robert Mueller.

Consider how, even though meeting with Russians is not illegal, Trump and his associates have been subjected to secret investigation of their Russian ties for nearly two years without any revelations apart from the fact that it was Israel, not Russia, that colluded to undermine White House policy. FBI Director James Comey’s antics during the primaries and electoral campaign, in which he first exonerated and then complained about Hillary Clinton while at the same time validating a dossier full of largely questionable information about Donald Trump’s dealings with Russia provides clear evidence of an organization that has lost its bearings and has become a politicized agent of an incumbency that has itself become corrupted and believes itself to be above the law. And then there is the Central Intelligence Agency’s own John Brennan working with the FBI to undermine the Trumps, illegally digging up dirt from the liaison intelligence partners in Europe and the Middle East.

America’s law enforcement empire has all the characteristics of secret police in a dictatorship. It is not transparent in its actions, has a history of bending the rules to obtain convictions, and its officers are rarely held accountable. It has also been politicized. And to be sure, one should recognize that there are two additional factors driving the growth and transformation of the national security state in the U.S. First is the intense dislike that the top levels of the American intelligence and police agencies have for Donald Trump personally, a contempt that Trump himself has largely earned by his scorn for much of the government that he inherited. Second is the “trust the authorities” culture that has grown up since 9/11, reinforced by fearmongering on the part of the government to justify executive overreach and enabled through anti-terror legislation that has unleashed the CIA, FBI and National Security Agency (NSA) to act with impunity while suffering no consequences whatsoever.

December 14, 2017 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Corruption, Full Spectrum Dominance, Timeless or most popular | , , | 1 Comment

Yes, the FBI is America’s secret police

By James Bovard – The Hill – 12/11/17

Politifact delivered a “pants on fire” slam to Fox News on Friday because one of its commentators asserted that the Federal Bureau of Investigation “has become America’s secret police.” The FBI has legions of new champions nowadays among liberals and Democrats who hope that its probes will end Donald Trump’s presidency. This is a stunning reversal that may have J. Edgar Hoover spinning in his grave.

In order to boost the credibility of the FBI’s investigations of the Trump team, much of the media is whitewashing the bureau’s entire history. But the FBI has been out of control almost since its birth.

A 1924 American Civil Liberties Union report warned that the FBI had become “a secret police system of a political character.” In the 1930s, the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court feared that the FBI had bugged the conference room where justices privately wrangled over landmark cases, as Tim Weiner noted in his “Enemies: A History of the FBI.” In 1945, President Harry Truman noted that “We want no Gestapo or Secret Police. FBI is tending in that direction.” And FBI chief J. Edgar Hoover compiled a list of 20,000 “potentially or actually dangerous” Americans who could be rounded up and locked away in one of the six detention camps the federal government secretly built in the 1950s.

From 1956 through 1971, the FBI’s COINTELPRO program conducted thousands of covert operations to incite street warfare between violent groups, to get people fired, to smear innocent people by portraying them as government informants, to sic the IRS on people, and to cripple or destroy left-wing, communist, white racist, antiwar, and black organizations (including Martin Luther King Jr.). These operations involved vast numbers of warrantless wiretaps and illicit break-ins and resulted in the murder of some black militants. A Senate Committee chaired by liberal Sen. Frank Church (D-Idaho) issued a damning report on FBI abuses of power that should be mandatory reading for anyone who believes the bureau deserves deference today.According to Politifact, the FBI is not a “secret police agency” because “the FBI is run by laws, not by whim.” But we learned five years ago that the FBI explicitly teaches its agents that “the FBI has the ability to bend or suspend the law to impinge on the freedom of others.” No FBI official was fired or punished when that factoid leaked out because this has been the Bureau’s tacit code for eons. Similarly, an FBI academy ethics course taught new agents that subjects of FBI investigations have “forfeited their right to the truth.” Are liberals so anxious to get Trump that they have swept under the rug the 2015 Washington Post bombshell about false FBI trial testimony that may have sentenced 32 innocent people to death?

Politifact absolved the bureau because “The FBI doesn’t torture or carry out extrajudicial executions.” Tell that to the Branch Davidians — 80 of whom died after the FBI assaulted their ramshackle home with tanks and pyrotechnic devices and collapsed much of the building on their heads even before fires burst out.

Politifact quotes a professor who asserts that “any use of unnecessary violence (by the FBI) would be met with the full force of the criminal law.” Is that why an internal FBI report claimed that every one of the 150 shootings by FBI agents between 1993 and 2011 was faultless?

FBI sniper Lon Horiuchi gunned down Vicki Weaver in 1992 as she stood in her Idaho cabin doorway holding her baby. After I accused the FBI of a coverup in a Wall Street Journal oped, FBI chief Louis Freeh denounced me for twisting the truth. But after a confidential Justice Department report leaked out revealing the FBI’s deceits and unconstitutional rules of engagement, the feds paid a $3 million wrongful death settlement to the Weaver family. When an Idaho County sought to prosecute the FBI sniper, the Justice Department invoked the Supremacy Clause of the Constitution to torpedo the case.

Politifact asserts that “just because the FBI sometimes operates in secret does not mean that it’s a ‘secret police.’” But the FBI’s secrecy is profoundly skewing American politics. More than a year after the 2016 election, Americans still have no idea the true extent of the FBI’s manipulation of the presidential campaign. Did the FBI wrongfully absolve Hillary Clinton on the email server issue? What role did the FBI have in financing or exploiting the Steele dossier? Will we ever learn the full truth?

The so-called fact checkers insists that any comparison of the FBI and KGB is “ridiculous” because the FBI is “subject to the rule of law and is democratically accountable.” But there is little or no accountability when few members of Congress have the courage to openly criticize or vigorously cross-examine FBI officials. House Majority Leader Hale Boggs admitted in 1971 that Congress was afraid of the FBI: “Our very fear of speaking out (against the FBI) … has watered the roots and hastened the growth of a vine of tyranny … which is ensnaring that Constitution and Bill of Rights which we are each sworn to uphold.” The FBI is currently scorning almost every congressional attempt at oversight. Thus far, members of Congress have responded with nothing except press releases and talk show bluster.

Politifact repeatedly scoffs at the notion that the FBI is “a secret police agency such as the old KGB.” And since the FBI is not as bad as the KGB, let’s mosey along and pretend no good citizen has a right to complain. A similar standard could exonerate any American president who was not as bad as Stalin.

In the 1960s, some conservatives adorned their cars with “Support Your Local Sheriff” bumper stickers. How long until we see Priuses with “Support Your Secretive All-Powerful Federal Agents” bumper stickers? But those who forget or deny past oppression help forge new shackles for the American people.

James Bovard is a USA Today columnist and the author of 10 books, including “Lost Rights: The Destruction of American Liberty” (St. Martin’s Press, 1994).

December 12, 2017 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Deception, Timeless or most popular | , , | 1 Comment

The Deep State’s Christmas Present to America: Surveillance That Never Ends

By John W. Whitehead | The Rutherford Institute | December 11, 2017

“He sees you when you’re sleeping
He knows when you’re awake
He knows when you’ve been bad or good
So be good for goodness sake!”
—“Santa Claus Is Coming to Town”

Just in time for Christmas, the Deep State wants to give America the gift that keeps on giving: never-ending mass surveillance.

I’m not referring to the kind of surveillance carried out by that all-knowing and all-seeing Jolly Old St. Nick and his informant the Elf on the Shelf (although, to be fair, they have helped to acclimate us to a world in which we’re always being watched and judged by higher authorities).

No, this particular bit of Yuletide gift-giving comes courtesy of the Deep State (a.k.a. the Surveillance State, Police State, Shadow Government and black-ops spy agencies).

If this power-hungry cabal gets its way, the government’s power to spy on its citizens will soon be all-encompassing and permanent.

As it now stands, Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act—the legal basis for two of the National Security Agency’s largest mass surveillance programs, “PRISM” and “Upstream”—is set to expire at the end of 2017.

“PRISM” lets the NSA access emails, video chats, instant messages, and other content sent via Facebook, Google, Apple and others. “Upstream” lets the NSA worm its way into the internet backbone—the cables and switches owned by private corporations like AT&T that make the internet into a global network—and scan traffic for the communications of tens of thousands of individuals labeled “targets.”

Just as the USA Patriot Act was perverted from its original intent to fight terrorism abroad and was used instead to covertly crack down on the American people (allowing government agencies to secretly track Americans’ financial activities, monitor their communications, and carry out wide-ranging surveillance on them), Section 702 has been used as an end-run around the Constitution to allow the government to collect the actual content of Americans’ emails, phone calls, text messages and other electronic communication without a warrant.

Under Section 702, the government collects and analyzes over 250 million internet communications every year. There are estimates that at least half of these contain information about U.S. residents, many of whom have done nothing wrong. This information is then shared with law enforcement and “routinely used for purposes unrelated to national security.”

Mind you, this is about far more than the metadata collection that Edward Snowden warned us about, which was bad enough. Section 702 gives the government access to the very content of your conversations (phone calls, text messages, video chats), your photographs, your emails. As Rep. Thomas Massie, R-Ky., warned, “This is not just who you send it to, but what’s in it.”

Unfortunately, Big Brother doesn’t relinquish power easily.

The Police State doesn’t like restrictions.

And the Surveillance State certainly doesn’t look favorably on anything that might weaken its control. Even after Congress limited the NSA’s ability to collect bulk phone records, the agency continued to do so, vacuuming up more than 151 million records of Americans’ phone calls last year alone.

A government that doesn’t heed its constituents, doesn’t abide by the law, and kowtows to its police and military forces? That’s a dictatorship anywhere else.

Here in America, you can call it “technotyranny,” a term coined by investigative journalist James Bamford to refer to an age of technological tyranny made possible by government secrets, government lies, government spies and their corporate ties.

Beware of what you say, what you read, what you write, where you go, and with whom you communicate, because it will all be recorded, stored and used against you eventually, at a time and place of the government’s choosing. Privacy, as we have known it, is dead.

For all intents and purposes, we now have a fourth branch of government.

This fourth branch came into being without any electoral mandate or constitutional referendum, and yet it possesses superpowers, above and beyond those of any other government agency save the military. It is all-knowing, all-seeing and all-powerful. It operates beyond the reach of the president, Congress and the courts, and it marches in lockstep with the corporate elite who really call the shots in Washington, DC.

The government’s “technotyranny” surveillance apparatus has become so entrenched and entangled with its police state apparatus that it’s hard to know anymore where law enforcement ends and surveillance begins.

The short answer: they have become one and the same entity.

The police state has passed the baton to the surveillance state.

Having already transformed local police into extensions of the military, the Department of Homeland Security, the Justice Department and the FBI are preparing to turn the nation’s soldier cops into techno-warriors, complete with iris scanners, body scanners, thermal imaging Doppler radar devices, facial recognition programs, license plate readers, cell phone Stingray devices and so much more.

This is the new face of policing in America.

Enter big data policing which gives the nation’s 17,000 police agencies access to a growing “investigative” database that maps criminal associates and gangs, as well as their social and familial connections.

As Slate reports, “These social network systems, which target ‘chronic offenders,’ also include information about innocent associates, family members, and friends, creating extensive human maps of connections and patterns of contacts.” Those individuals then get assigned a threat score to determine their risk of being a perpetrator or victim of a future crime.

In Chicago, for example, “individuals with the highest scores on the Chicago Police Department ‘heat list’ get extra attention in the form of home visits or increased community surveillance.”

In Baltimore, police are using Cessna planes equipped with surveillance systems to film entire segments of the city, then combining that footage with police reports in order to “map the comings and goings of everyone—criminals and innocents alike.”

In this way, big data policing not only expands Big Brother’s reach down to the local level, but it also provides local police—most of whom know little about the Constitution and even less about the Fourth Amendment—with a new technological weapon to deploy against an unsuspecting public.

The end result is pre-crime, packaged in the guise of national security but no less sinister.

All of those individuals who claim to be unconcerned about government surveillance because they have nothing to hide, take note: pre-crime policing—given a futuristic treatment in Steven Spielberg’s Minority Report—aims to treat you like a criminal before you’ve ever even committed a crime.

This hasn’t fazed President Trump who, much like his predecessors, has thus far marched in lockstep with the dictates of the police state.

For months, the Trump Administration has been actively lobbying Congress to reauthorize Section 702 in its entirety. Now, according to The Intercept, Trump is actively considering a proposal to establish his own global, private spy network that would circumvent official U.S. intelligence agencies and answer directly to the White House.

If approved, this would be yet another secret government agency carrying out secret surveillance and counterintelligence, funded by a secret black ops budget that by its very nature does away with transparency, bypasses accountability and completely eludes any form of constitutionality.

According to The Washington Post, there are more than a dozen “black budget” national intelligence agencies already receiving more than $52.6 billion in secret government funding. Among the top five black ops agencies currently are the CIA, the NSA, the National Reconnaissance Office, the National Geospatial-Intelligence Program, and the General Defense Intelligence Program.

A significant chunk of that black ops money has been flowing to Silicon Valley since before there was an internet, itself a creation of the military/security industrial complex.

Earlier this year, Amazon announced that it would be storing classified information for U.S. spy agencies in its digital cloud, part of a $600 million contract with the nation’s intelligence agencies.

Two decades earlier, America’s spy agencies tapped Silicon Valley to spearhead research into ways of tracking individuals and groups online. That research, as documented by Jeff Nesbit, the former director of legislative and public affairs at the National Science Foundation, culminated in the creation of a massive public-private surveillance state that hinged on a partnership between the NSA, the CIA and Google.

“The research arms of the CIA and NSA hoped that the best computer-science minds in academia could identify what they called ‘birds of a feather,’” writes Nesbit. He continues:

Their research aim was to track digital fingerprints inside the rapidly expanding global information network, which was then known as the World Wide Web… By working with emerging commercial-data companies, their intent was to track like-minded groups of people across the internet and identify them from the digital fingerprints they left behind, much like forensic scientists use fingerprint smudges to identify criminals. Just as “birds of a feather flock together,” they predicted that potential terrorists would communicate with each other in this new global, connected world—and they could find them by identifying patterns in this massive amount of new information. Once these groups were identified, they could then follow their digital trails everywhere.

The problem, of course, is that the government always sets its sights higher.

It wasn’t long before the government’s search for criminal “birds of a feather”—made much easier with the passage of the USA Patriot Act—lumped everyone together and treated all of the birds (i.e., the public) as criminals to be identified, tracked, monitored and subjected to warrantless, suspicionless surveillance.

Fast forward to the present moment when, on any given day, the average American is now monitored, surveilled, spied on and tracked in more than 20 different ways by both government and corporate eyes and ears.

Every second of every day, the American people are being spied on by the U.S. government’s vast network of digital Peeping Toms, electronic eavesdroppers and robotic snoops.

Whether you’re walking through a store, driving your car, checking email, or talking to friends and family on the phone, you can be sure that some government agency is listening in and tracking you. This doesn’t even begin to touch on the complicity of the corporate sector, which buys and sells us from cradle to grave, until we have no more data left to mine. These corporate trackers monitor your purchases, web browsing, Facebook posts and other activities taking place in the cyber sphere and share the data with the government.

Just about every branch of the government—from the Postal Service to the Treasury Department and every agency in between—now has its own surveillance sector, authorized to collect data and spy on the American people. Then there are the fusion and counterterrorism centers that gather all of the data from the smaller government spies—the police, public health officials, transportation, etc.—and make it accessible for all those in power.

These government snoops are constantly combing through and harvesting vast quantities of our communications, then storing it in massive databases for years. Once this information—collected illegally and without any probable cause—is ingested into NSA servers, other government agencies can often search through the databases to make criminal cases against Americans that have nothing to do with terrorism or anything national security-related. One Justice Department lawyer called the database the “FBI’s ‘Google.’”

In other words, the NSA, an unaccountable institution filled with unelected bureaucrats, operates a massive database that contains the intimate and personal communications of countless Americans and makes it available to other unelected bureaucrats.

Talk about a system rife for abuse.

Ask the government why it’s carrying out this warrantless surveillance on American citizens, and you’ll get the same Orwellian answer the government has been trotting out since 9/11 to justify its assaults on our civil liberties: to keep America safe.

Yet warrantless mass surveillance by the government and its corporate cohorts hasn’t made America any safer. And it certainly isn’t helping to preserve our freedoms. Frankly, America will never be safe as long as the U.S. government is allowed to shred the Constitution.

Now the government wants us to believe that we have nothing to fear from its mass spying program because they’re only looking to get the “bad” guys who are overseas.

Don’t believe it.

The government’s definition of a “bad” guy is extraordinarily broad, and it results in the warrantless surveillance of innocent, law-abiding Americans on a staggering scale. They are conducting this mass surveillance without a warrant, thus violating the core principles of the Fourth Amendment which protects the privacy of all Americans.

Warrantless mass surveillance of American citizens is wrong, un-American, and unconstitutional.

Clearly, the outlook for reforming the government’s unconstitutional surveillance programs does not look good.

As I make clear in my book Battlefield America: The War on the American People, whenever the rights of the American people are pitted against the interests of the military/corporate/security complex, “we the people” lose. Unless Congress develops a conscience—or suddenly remembers that they owe their allegiance to the citizenry and not the corporate state—we’re about to lose big.

It’s time to let Section 702 expire or reform the law to ensure that millions and millions of Americans are not being victimized by a government that no longer respects its constitutional limits.

Mark my words: if Congress votes to make the NSA’s vast spying powers permanent, it will be yet another brick in the wall imprisoning us within an electronic concentration camp from which there is no escape.


ABOUT JOHN W. WHITEHEAD

Constitutional attorney and author John W. Whitehead is founder and president of The Rutherford Institute. His new book Battlefield America: The War on the American People (SelectBooks, 2015) is available online at http://www.amazon.com. Whitehead can be contacted at johnw@rutherford.org.

December 11, 2017 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance, Timeless or most popular | , , | 1 Comment

Mayor Killed in Mexico, 3rd in Less Than a Month

teleSUR | December 10, 2017

Mexican Mayor Jose Santos Hernandez was killed on Friday afternoon, the third murder of its kind this month. The other two murders took place in Veracruz.

Officials said gunmen intercepted Santos’ car, forced him from the vehicle – in which he was traveling with family – and killed him.

He is the sixth mayor killed so far this year, an AFP report stated.

Mexico’s murder rate has soared extraordinarily and has put the Latin American country on track to reach a historically high death figure by the closing of 2017, which would surpass 2011 and 2012 ‘war on drug’ numbers.

There have been almost 24,000 murders reported at the end of October.

Data from the National Association of Mayors reveals that approximately 50 mayors have been murdered since 2003 and 82 since 2006.

Half of the murders are committed in the states of Oaxaca, Michoacan, Veracruz and Guerrero.

Veracruz is regarded as one of the most violent states in the country.

December 10, 2017 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Corruption | , | Leave a comment

Flynn Case Highlights Deep Political Corruption of US Security Services

By Philip M. GIRALDI | Strategic Culture Foundation | 07.12.2017

Former US National Security Adviser Michael Flynn is cooperating with the Special Counsel Robert Mueller to determine whether Donald Trump’s associates colluded with Russian government officials during the 2016 electoral campaign and also in the two months before president-elect Trump assumed office on January 20th. Flynn has pleaded guilty to lying to Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) special agents regarding two late December telephone exchanges with former Russian Ambassador to the US Sergey Kislyak.

The first call was initiated at the request of Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner and related to Russia’s possible use of its United Nations Security Council veto to stop a resolution condemning Israel’s illegal settlements, as the Barack Obama Administration had decided to abstain to send a message of disapproval to Tel Aviv. If Russia had agreed, which it did not, it would have meant conniving with Moscow to do something sought by Israel and opposed by the elected government still in power in Washington.

The second call possibly was requested by Donald Trump himself and was made while Flynn was lying on a beach in the Dominican Republic. It sought Russian agreement not to escalate the tit-for-tat expulsions of diplomats that had been set in motion by the outgoing Obama administration. Russia delayed any possible expulsions, eventually implementing them when the Trump administration proved unable to mitigate other sanctions put in place by Obama. Both phone calls took place after the American election. Neither had anything to do with possible collusion regarding the election.

Flynn’s admission that he was lying is believed to be part of an agreement with Mueller, presumably eliminating a possible jail sentence and reducing the actual penalty to payment of a fine. Mueller will undoubtedly seek Flynn’s evidence confirming that he and both Kushner and Trump were all acting in violation of the Logan Act of 1799, which they quite possibly had never heard of, that bars private citizens from negotiating with foreign governments on behalf of the United States. At the time of the phone calls, neither Flynn nor Kushner nor Trump held any actual government office, but it should also be pointed out that no one has ever been convicted under the Logan Act and the de facto status of an incoming administration as a precedent for engaging with foreign powers has never been tested.

The Logan Act aside, the real purpose of the investigation is to “get” Russia and its President Vladimir Putin. If it were otherwise, Mueller would be looking hard at the Israeli connection since it is clear from the time line that Israel had approached Kushner who then asked Flynn to make the phone call. The New York Times described the sequence of events as “Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu asked the Trump transition team to lobby other countries to help Israel…” The Israeli overture is a clear example of actual foreign government interference in United States politics and foreign policy, but the interference was by Israel and not by Russia.

The Flynn case is also a prime example of how the American security services have been politically corrupted, but it is unlikely that Mueller will have any interest in that aspect of the case as the investigation itself has become little more than a political witch hunt in which the Washington-New York Establishment is seeking to explain why its candidate lost in November. Flynn was interviewed by the FBI regarding his two phone conversations on January 24th shortly after he assumed office as National Security Adviser. During his interview, he was not made aware that the Bureau already had recordings and transcripts of his phone conversations, so, in a manner of speaking, he was being set-up to fail. Mis-remembering, forgetting or attempting to avoid implication of others in the administration would inevitably all be plausibly construed as lying since the FBI knew exactly what was said.

The argument used to justify the possible Flynn entrapment by the FBI, i.e. that there was unauthorized contact with a foreign official, is in itself curious as such contact is not in itself illegal. And it also opens the door to the Bureau’s investigating other individuals who have committed no crime but who find that they cannot recall details of phone calls they were parties to that were being recorded by the government. That can easily be construed as “lying” or “perjury” with consequences that include possible prison time.

December 7, 2017 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Corruption, Timeless or most popular | , , , | Leave a comment

John Lennon Was Right: The Government Is Run by Maniacs for Maniacal Means

By John W. Whitehead | Rutherford Institute | December 07, 2017

Not much has changed in the 37 years since John Lennon was gunned down by an assassin’s bullet.

All of the many complaints we have about government today—surveillance, corruption, harassment, political persecution, spying, overcriminalization, etc.—were used against Lennon, who never refrained from speaking truth to power and calling for social justice, peace and a populist revolution.

Little wonder, then, that the U.S. government saw Lennon as enemy number one.

A prime example of the lengths to which the U.S. government will go to persecute those who dare to challenge its authority, Lennon was the subject of a four-year campaign of surveillance and harassment by the U.S. government (spearheaded by FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover), in an attempt by President Richard Nixon to have him “neutralized” and deported. As Adam Cohen of the New York Times points out, “The F.B.I.’s surveillance of Lennon is a reminder of how easily domestic spying can become unmoored from any legitimate law enforcement purpose.”

Years after Lennon’s assassination, it would be revealed that the FBI had collected 281 pages of surveillance files on him. As the New York Times notes, “Critics of today’s domestic surveillance object largely on privacy grounds. They have focused far less on how easily government surveillance can become an instrument for the people in power to try to hold on to power. ‘The U.S. vs. John Lennon’ … is the story not only of one man being harassed, but of a democracy being undermined.”

Such government-directed harassment was nothing new.

The FBI has had a long history of persecuting, prosecuting and generally harassing activists, politicians, and cultural figures, including Martin Luther King Jr.

In Lennon’s case, the ex-Beatle saw that his music could mobilize the public and help to bring about change. Yet while Lennon believed in the power of the people, he also understood the danger of a power-hungry government. “The trouble with government as it is, is that it doesn’t represent the people,” observed Lennon. “It controls them.”

By March 1971, when his “Power to the People” single was released, it was clear that Lennon was ready to participate in political activism against the U. S. government, the “monster” that was financing the war in Vietnam.

The release of Lennon’s Sometime in New York City album, which contained a radical anti-government message in virtually every song, only fanned the flames of the government’s war on Lennon.

In 1972, Nixon had the ex-Beatle served with deportation orders “in an effort to silence him as a voice of the peace movement.” Despite the fact that Lennon was not plotting to bring down the Nixon Administration, as the government feared, the government persisted in its efforts to have him deported. Equally determined to resist, Lennon dug in and fought back. Finally, in 1976, Lennon won the battle to stay in the country. By 1980, the old radical was back and ready to cause trouble.

Unfortunately, Lennon’s time as a troublemaker was short-lived.

Mark David Chapman was waiting in the shadows on Dec. 8, 1980, just as Lennon was returning to his New York apartment building. As Lennon stepped outside the car to greet the fans congregating outside, Chapman dropped into a two-handed combat stance, emptied his .38-caliber pistol and pumped four hollow-point bullets into Lennon’s back and left arm.

John Lennon was pronounced dead on arrival at the hospital.

Much like Martin Luther King Jr., John F. Kennedy, Malcolm X, Robert Kennedy and others who have died attempting to challenge the powers-that-be, Lennon had finally been “neutralized.”

Yet Lennon’s legacy lives on in his words, his music and his efforts to speak truth to power.

Even so, his work to change the world for the better is far from done.

As I make clear in my book Battlefield America: The War on the American People, peace remains out of reach. Activists and whistleblowers continue to be prosecuted for challenging the government’s authority. Militarism is on the rise, all the while the governmental war machine continues to wreak havoc on innocent lives. And those who do dare to speak up are labeled dissidents, troublemakers, terrorists, lunatics, or mentally ill and tagged for surveillance, censorship or, worse, involuntary detention.

As Lennon shared in a 1968 interview:

I think all our society is run by insane people for insane objectives… I think we’re being run by maniacs for maniacal means. If anybody can put on paper what our government and the American government and the Russian… Chinese… what they are actually trying to do, and what they think they’re doing, I’d be very pleased to know what they think they’re doing. I think they’re all insane. But I’m liable to be put away as insane for expressing that. That’s what’s insane about it.”

So what’s the answer?

Lennon had a multitude of suggestions.

“If everyone demanded peace instead of another television set, then there’d be peace.”

“Produce your own dream. If you want to save Peru, go save Peru. It’s quite possible to do anything, but not to put it on the leaders….You have to do it yourself.”

“Peace is not something you wish for; It’s something you make, Something you do, Something you are, And something you give away.”

“War is over, if you want it.”

In other words, fighting the evil of the American police state can only come about by way of conscious thoughts that are put into action.

Do you want an end to war? Then stop supporting the government’s military campaigns. Do you want government violence against the citizenry to end? Then demand that your local police de-militarize. Do you want a restoration of your freedoms? You’ll have to get the government to recognize that “we the people” are the masters in this relationship and government employees are our public servants.

The choice is ours.

The power (if we want it), as Lennon recognized, is in our hands.

“The people have the power, all we have to do is awaken that power in the people,” concluded Lennon. “The people are unaware. They’re not educated to realize that they have power. The system is so geared that everyone believes the government will fix everything. We are the government.”

For the moment, the choice is still ours: slavery or freedom, war or peace, death or life.

The point at which we have no choice is the point at which the monsters—the maniacs, the powers-that-be, the Deep State—win.

As Lennon warned, “You either get tired fighting for peace, or you die.”

December 7, 2017 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance, Militarism, Timeless or most popular | | 3 Comments

Honduran police refuse to obey government orders to curb protest

Press TV – December 5, 2017

Officers of the Honduras National Police have refused to enforce a curfew after days of deadly violence triggered by allegations of electoral fraud.

Honduran police announced on Monday night that they will refuse to obey orders from the government of the incumbent president, Juan Orlando Hernandez, and will remain in their barracks until a political crisis triggered by last Sunday’s contested presidential election has been resolved.

According to reports, all national police as well as hundreds of members of riot police force known as Cobras were refusing to obey the government’s orders during the protests in the capital, Tegucigalpa and instead are striking.

“We want peace, and we will not follow government orders – we’re tired of this,” said a spokesman outside the national police headquarters in Tegucigalpa.

“We aren’t with a political ideology. We can’t keep confronting people, and we don’t want to repress and violate the rights of the Honduran people.”

Crowds of anti-government protesters greeted the announcement with cheers.

The small Central American nation of 10 million, which suffers from chronic violence and prolific gang activity, held the presidential vote last Sunday.

Rival candidate Salvador Nasralla has cried foul and his supporters have been on the streets protesting.

Tensions have been high since shortly afterwards. Nasralla was in the lead with a significant margin before a 24-hour hiatus in the official vote count reversed that trend last week. The opposition candidate soon alleged fraud and called on his supporters to take to the streets.

In recent days, Tens of thousands took to the streets in a show of support for Nasralla, a former TV star.

Authorities then restricted the freedom of movement in the country in an attempt to control widening unrest.

The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights on Monday reported that they have received preliminary information on the deaths of 11 Hondurans during the protests.

Meanwhile, the electoral tribunal in Honduras has finished counting votes in the country’s contentious presidential election after more than a week, with incumbent President Juan Orlando Hernandez having received more votes in the official tally.

Early on Monday, electoral authorities said Hernandez had won 42.98 percent of the votes, compared with opposition candidate Salvador Nasralla’s 41.39 percent, based on 99.96 percent of the votes counted.

But the authorities stopped short of declaring a winner.

December 5, 2017 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Solidarity and Activism | , , | Leave a comment

Three Palestinian lawyers seized by Israeli occupation

Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network – December 4, 2107

Israeli occupation forces seized three Palestinian lawyers well-known for their involvement in defending Palestinian human rights and particularly the rights of Palestinian prisoners in armed, overnight, pre-dawn raids. The three lawyers are:

All three of the lawyers’ homes was stormed at night by police and intelligence agents who ransacked the home before taking him. The three were taken to the Petah Tikva interrogation center.

Zabarqa is one of the most prominent lawyers defending Palestinian political detainees and prisoners in occupied Palestine ’48. Most recently, his advocacy on behalf of imprisoned Sheikh Raed Salah has highlighted the sheikh’s solitary confinement and political targeting. Zabarqa has been targeted in the past, barred from entering Jerusalem in 2015. Misk is also the former legal director for Defence for Children International – Palestine and, as current director of legal work for the Prisoners’ Affairs Commission, has a leading role in defending many Palestinian prisoners before Israeli occupation courts.

Al-Sabbah is the director of al-Meethaq Foundation, which offers public legal services to the Jerusalemite population, including dealing with Israeli occupation entities like insurance officials, the municipality, and the interior department. The foundation also works together with Physicians for Human Rights to document abuses against child prisoners and support parents in filing complaints about their children’s treatment.

The targeting of the three lawyers comes hand in hand with the ongoing attacks on Palestinian human rights defenders such as Salah Hamouri, new Palestinian lawyer and field researcher for Addameer Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association; Hasan Safadi, Arabic-language media coordinator for Addameer; Issa Amro, al-Khalil organizer against settlements; Khalida Jarrar, Palestinian parliamentarian and Addameer board member; Abdallah Abu Rahma, coordinator of Bil’in’s Popular Committee Against the Wall and Settlements.

“Human rights defender” is a term used to describe people who, individually or with others, act peacefully to promote or protect human rights. These three Palestinian lawyers are human rights defenders who serve as a first line of defense for Palestinian civilians under occupation targeted for arrest, detention and persecution by Israeli occupation forces.

This is also a specific and targeted attack on Palestinian legal work and Palestinian lawyers, in what appears to be an attempt to deprive Palestinian prisoners of even the barest legal representation which is in and of itself frequently barred from providing any meaningful defense in a colonial system meant merely to legitimize the ongoing detention of Palestinians. It also appears to be an attempt to intimidate and suppress Palestinian lawyers from engaging public work to defend Palestinian political prisoners and people under attack.

December 4, 2017 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Subjugation - Torture | , , , | Leave a comment

It’s time the international community stood up for Palestinian children

A Palestinian child can be being arrested by Israeli security forces [Saeed Qaq/Apaimages]
By Professor Kamel Hawwash | MEMO | December 4, 2107

Israel’s mistreatment of Palestinian children is not a new development but rather one example of its many breaches of international law and international humanitarian law. While it has in the past faced criticisms for its maltreatment of Palestinian children, particularly in relation to minors that are taken into custody and brought before its military courts, this has not been matched with solid action.

It is therefore encouraging that this may be about to change, and in the United States of all places. The Promoting Human Rights by Ending Israeli Military Detention of Palestinian Children Act requires the Secretary of State to certify annually that funds obligated or expended in the previous year by the United States for assistance to Israel “do not support military detention, interrogation, abuse, or ill-treatment of Palestinian children, and for other purposes”. The legislation leaves financial assistance already committed to Israel in place.

The bill notes that Israel ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child on 3 October 1991, which states— (A) in article 37(a), that “no child shall be subject to torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment”. It states that “In the Israeli-occupied West Bank, there are two separate legal systems, with Israeli military law imposed on Palestinians and Israeli civilian law applied to Israeli settlers”.

It further notes that the Israeli military detains around 500 to 700 Palestinian children between the ages of 12 and 17 each year and prosecutes them before a military court system which the bill says “lacks basic and fundamental guarantees of due process in violation of international standards”.

Defence for Children International Palestine (DCIP) notes that “Israel has the dubious distinction of being the only country in the world that systematically prosecutes an estimated 500 to 700 children each year in military courts that lack fundamental fair trial rights and protections”.  It further states that in 590 cases documented by DCIP between 2012 and 2016, 72 per cent of Palestinian child detainees reported physical violence and 66 per cent faced verbal abuse and humiliation.

According to Khaled Quzmar, General Director of DCIP, “despite ongoing engagement with UN bodies and repeated calls to abide by international law, Israeli military and police continue night arrests, physical violence, coercion, and threats against Palestinian children”.

The recent introduction of the bill in the US Congress aims to prevent US tax dollars from paying for human rights violations against Palestinian children during the course of Israeli military detention. It aims to establish, as a minimum safeguard, a US demand for basic due process rights for and an absolute prohibition against torture and ill-treatment of Palestinian children arrested and prosecuted within the Israeli military court system.

In 2012 the UK’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office commissioned a report by nine lawyers on the issue of Palestinian children. Among its conclusions it found that “Israel is in breach of articles 2 (discrimination), 3 (child’s best interests), 37(b) (premature resort to detention), (c) (non-separation from adults) and (d) (prompt access to lawyers) and 40 (use of shackles) 111 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child”. It further concluded that based on its findings “Israel will also be in breach of the prohibition on cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment in article 37(a) of the Convention. Transportation of child prisoners into Israel is in breach of article 76 of the Fourth Geneva Convention. Failure to translate Military Order 1676 from Hebrew is a violation of article 65 of the Fourth Geneva Convention”.

The report made four core recommendations and 40 specific recommendations. The sheer volume of the recommendations highlights the extent of the breaches that need to be addressed by the Israeli authorities. Rather than work to address the recommendations of the report in 2016, Israel refused to cooperate with a team making a follow-up visit to review the extent to which the recommendations had been addressed. This led to the cancelation of the visit and the British FCO failed to convince the Israelis to reinstate it.

Responding to a question from the Chair of the Britain-Palestine All Party Parliamentary Group, then Foreign Office Minister Tobias Ellwood said: “I expressed my strong disappointment at Israel’s unwillingness to host this follow-up visit with Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely during my visit to Israel on 18 February. Officials from the British Embassy in Tel Aviv, including the ambassador, also lobbied the Israeli Ministry for Foreign Affairs to cooperate with the visit, and will continue to follow up. We remain committed to working with Israel to secure improvements to the practices surrounding children in detention in Israel.”

The UK parliament has recently been considering the issue of Palestinian children and their treatment by Israel. This was initially expressed through a parliamentary instrument called the Early Day Motion (EDM). EDM 563 was issued on 20 November and states that “this House notes with concern that hundreds of Palestinian children continue to be arrested, detained and tried in Israeli military courts, despite the practice involving widespread and systematic violations of international law and being widely condemned”.

The motion “notes the disparity between the treatment of Israeli and Palestinian children by Israeli authorities and calls for those authorities to treat Palestinian children in a way that is not inferior to the way they would any Israeli child”.

EDM 563 notes with concern “that the recommendations of Unicef’s 2013 Children in Israeli Military Detention Report remain largely unmet and calls on the government to urgently engage with the Israeli government to end the widespread and systemic human rights violations suffered by Palestinian children in Israeli military custody”.

At the time of writing 65 members of parliament had signed the motion (out of 650). This includes support from individual MPs from all political parties in England Scotland and Wales.

The recent moves in Congress and the UK parliament to highlight Israel’s abuse of the rights of Palestinian children have been welcomed by Palestinians and their supporters. It has taken decades for the rights of children to gain any real attention. If the bill in the US passes then it would signal a real change in policy in that it will condition some funding to Israel on respect for human rights and specifically for Palestinian children. If it fails then the message to Palestinian children will be that America is willing for the bar to be set lower for them than for Israeli children. A well supported EDM in the UK Parliament will highlight the issue and that will allow its sponsors to seek real action from government to pressure Israel to change its unacceptable treatment of Palestinian children, both morally and legally.

It is time Palestinian children were finally protected from abuse by their occupiers. Israel is comfortable in its abuse and will only change when the international community acts to help them. As for Israel, a state without a moral compass, when it comes to Palestinians it could at least apply the same law and practices of dealing with Palestinian children as it does its own children.

December 4, 2017 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Subjugation - Torture | , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Scalp-Taking of Gen. Flynn

By Robert Parry | Consortium News | December 1, 2017

Russia-gate enthusiasts are thrilled over the guilty plea of President Trump’s former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn for lying to the FBI about pre-inauguration conversations with the Russian ambassador, but the case should alarm true civil libertarians.

What is arguably most disturbing about this case is that then-National Security Adviser Flynn was pushed into a perjury trap by Obama administration holdovers at the Justice Department who concocted an unorthodox legal rationale for subjecting Flynn to an FBI interrogation four days after he took office, testing Flynn’s recollection of the conversations while the FBI agents had transcripts of the calls intercepted by the National Security Agency.

In other words, the Justice Department wasn’t seeking information about what Flynn said to Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak – the intelligence agencies already had that information. Instead, Flynn was being quizzed on his precise recollection of the conversations and nailed for lying when his recollections deviated from the transcripts.

For Americans who worry about how the pervasive surveillance powers of the U.S. government could be put to use criminalizing otherwise constitutionally protected speech and political associations, Flynn’s prosecution represents a troubling precedent.

Though Flynn clearly can be faulted for his judgment, he was, in a sense, a marked man the moment he accepted the job of national security adviser. In summer 2016, Democrats seethed over Flynn’s participation in chants at the Republican National Convention to “lock her [Hillary Clinton] up!”

Then, just four days into the Trump presidency, an Obama holdover, then-acting Attorney General Sally Yates, primed the Flynn perjury trap by coming up with a novel legal theory that Flynn – although the national security adviser-designate at the time of his late December phone calls with Kislyak – was violating the 1799 Logan Act, which prohibits private citizens from interfering with U.S. foreign policy.

But that law – passed during President John Adams’s administration in the era of the Alien and Sedition Acts – was never intended to apply to incoming officials in the transition period between elected presidential administrations and – in the past 218 years – the law has resulted in no successful prosecution at all and thus its dubious constitutionality has never been adjudicated.

Stretching Logic

But Yates extrapolated from her unusual Logan Act theory to speculate that since Flynn’s publicly known explanation of the conversation with Kislyak deviated somewhat from the transcript of the intercepts, Flynn might be vulnerable to Russian blackmail.

Yet, that bizarre speculation would require that the Russians first would have detected the discrepancies; secondly, they would have naively assumed that the U.S. intelligence agencies had not intercepted the conversations, which would have negated any blackmail potential; and thirdly, the Russians would have to do something so ridiculously heavy-handed – trying to blackmail Flynn – that it would poison relations with the new Trump administration.

Yates’s legal theorizing was so elastic and speculative that it could be used to justify subjecting almost anyone to FBI interrogation with the knowledge that their imperfect memories would guarantee the grounds for prosecution based on NSA intercepts of their communications.

Basically, the Obama holdovers concocted a preposterous legal theory to do whatever they could to sabotage the Trump administration, which they held in fulsome disdain.

At the time of Flynn’s interrogation, the Justice Department was under the control of Yates and the FBI was still under President Obama’s FBI Director James Comey, another official hostile to the Trump administration who later was fired by Trump.

The Yates-FBI perjury trap also was sprung on Flynn in the first days of the Trump presidency amid reverberations of the massive anti-Trump protests that had arisen across the country in support of demands for a “#Resistance” to Trump’s rule.

Flynn also had infuriated Democrats when he joined in chants at the Republican National Convention of “lock her up” over Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server and other alleged offenses. So, in targeting Flynn, there was a mix of personal payback and sabotage against the Trump administration.

The Legal Construct

The two-page complaint against Flynn, made public on Friday, references false statements to the FBI regarding two conversations with Kisylak, one on Dec. 22, 2016, and the other on Dec. 29, 2016.

The first item in the complaint alleges that Flynn did not disclose that he had asked the Russian ambassador to help delay or defeat a United Nations Security Council vote censuring Israel for building settlements on Palestinian territory.

The New York Times reported on Friday that Russia-gate investigators “learned through witnesses and documents that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu asked the Trump transition team to lobby other countries to help Israel, according to two people briefed on the inquiry.

“Investigators have learned that Mr. Flynn and Mr. Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser, Jared Kushner, took the lead in those efforts. Mr. Mueller’s team has emails that show Mr. Flynn saying he would work to kill the vote, the people briefed on the matter said,” according to the Times.

Breaking with past U.S. precedents, President Obama had decided not to veto the resolution criticizing Israel, choosing instead to abstain. However, the censure resolution carried with Russian support, meaning that whatever lobbying Flynn and Kushner undertook was unsuccessful.

But the inclusion of this Israeli element shows how far afield the criminal Russia-gate investigation, headed by former FBI Director Robert Mueller, has gone. Though the original point of the inquiry was whether the Trump team colluded with Russians to use “hacked” emails to defeat Hillary Clinton’s campaign, the criminal charge against Flynn has nothing to do with election “collusion” but rather President-elect Trump’s aides weighing in on foreign policy controversies during the transition. And, one of these initiatives was undertaken at the request of Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu, not Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The second item, cited by Mueller’s prosecutors, referenced a Dec. 29 Flynn-Kislyak conversation, which received public attention at the time of Flynn’s Feb. 13 resignation after only 24 days on the job. That phone call touched on Russia’s response to President Obama’s decision to issue new sanctions against the Kremlin for the alleged election interference.

The complaint alleges that Flynn didn’t mention to the FBI that he had urged Kislyak “to refrain from escalating the situation” and that Kislyak had subsequently told him that “Russia had chosen to moderate its response to those sanctions as a result of his request.”

The Dec. 29 phone call occurred while Flynn was vacationing in the Dominican Republic and thus he would have been without the usual support staff for memorializing or transcribing official conversations. So, the FBI agents, with the NSA’s transcripts, would have had a clearer account of what was said than Flynn likely had from memory. The content of Flynn’s request to Kislyak also appears rather uncontroversial, asking the Russians not to overreact to a punitive policy from the outgoing Obama administration.

In other words, both of the Flynn-Kislyak conversations appear rather unsurprising, if not inconsequential. One was taken at the behest of Israel (which proved ineffective) and the other urged the Kremlin to show restraint in its response to a last-minute slap from President Obama (which simply delayed Russian retaliation by a few months).

Double Standards

While Flynn’s humiliation has brought some palpable joy to the anti-Trump “Resistance” – one more Trump aide being taken down amid renewed hope that this investigation will somehow lead to Trump’s resignation or impeachment – many of the same people would be howling about trampled civil liberties if a Republican bureaucracy were playing this game on a Democratic president and his staff.

Indeed, in the turnabout-is-fair-play department, there is some equivalence in what is happening over Russia-gate to what the Republicans did in the 1990s exploiting their control of the special-prosecutor apparatus in the first years of Bill Clinton’s presidency when interminable investigations into such side issues as his Whitewater real-estate deal and the firing of the White House travel office staff plagued the Clinton administration.

Similarly, Republicans seized on the deaths of four U.S. diplomatic personnel on Sept. 11, 2012, in Benghazi, Libya, to conduct a series of lengthy investigations to tarnish Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s tenure and raise questions about her judgment. Democrats understandably called these attacks partisan warfare in legal or investigative garb.

What I have heard from many Hillary Clinton supporters in recent months is that they don’t care about the unfairness of the Russia-gate process or the dangerous precedents that such politicized prosecutions might set. They simply view Trump as such a danger that he must be destroyed at whatever the cost.

Yet, besides the collateral damage inflicted on mid-level government officials such as retired Lt. Gen. Flynn facing personal destruction at the hands of federal prosecutors with unlimited budgets, there is this deepening pattern of using criminal law to settle political differences, a process more common in authoritarian states.

As much as the Russia-gate enthusiasts talk about how they are upholding “the rule of law,” there is the troubling appearance that the law is simply being used to collect the scalps of political enemies.

Investigative reporter Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories for The Associated Press and Newsweek in the 1980s.

December 1, 2017 Posted by | Civil Liberties | , , , , , | 1 Comment

German Minister Drafts Law Allowing Intelligence to Spy on Citizens – Report

Sputnik – December 1, 2017

Germany’s Interior Minister Thomas de Maizière worked out a draft proposal that might force automotive and tech corporations to provide the country’s intelligence agencies with “back door” access to any digital device, including smartphones, laptops, private cars and smart TVs, the RedaktionsNetzwerk Deutschland (RND) reported.

The politician has justified his idea by the fact that the country’s security services are increasingly facing difficulties breaking through the systems that protect digital items.

For instance, the locking systems on cars have become so advanced and intelligent that their owners are informed via messenger even about the slightest movements of their vehicles. With the new law, De Maizière wants to prevent these automatic notifications if the law-enforcement services believe it to be justified by their investigation.

The initiative also goes further and intends to provide the German intelligence agencies with “backdoor” access to any device connected to the internet. In this case, they would only require the authorization of a judge to demand the secret data from tech corporations and hack into someone’s phone. The move, which is considered a preventive measure to ensure security and quickly find criminals, “dramatically extends” the state’s capability to conduct espionage against its citizens, RND wrote.

The initiative has caused severe criticism among activists and the country’s politicians, especially due to Germany’s previous espionage record.

In 2015, German intelligence agencies were reported to have been spying on European politicians and companies at the behest of the US National Security Agency (NSA).

 

December 1, 2017 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance | , | 1 Comment

Argentine ‘death flight’ pilots get life for 100s of junta opponents thrown into ocean

Images of junta victims at ESMA Museum in Buenos Aires © espaciomemoria / YouTube
RT | November 30, 2017

Judges in Argentina have given life sentences to the former ‘death flights’ pilots after hundreds of people opposing the country’s 1976-83 military junta – including a close friend of Pope Francis – were thrown into the ocean.

A major ruling on Wednesday marked the “first” such Argentinian judgment against pilots involved in the notorious ‘death flights,’ local media reports. During the operations, opponents of Argentina’s military regime that ruled the country from 1976 until 1983 were thrown into the waters of the Atlantic.

According to the verdict, the announcement of which lasted almost four hours, 29 former service members were sentenced to life imprisonment, 19 were sentenced to eight to 25 years, and six were acquitted, local media report.

There are 54 defendants in the major trial. It also involves cases of 789 victims of a secret detention center – known as the Navy Mechanics Higher School (ESMA) – where up to 5,000 people opposing the repressive junta regime are believed to have been vanished.

The five-year trial – called the ‘mega cause’ in Argentina – exposed the chilling practices of systematic torture and the killing of thousands of people, including left-wing opponents of the regime and members of Argentina’s urban guerrilla groups, but also human rights activists and relatives of those forcibly disappeared by junta forces.

In a series of hearings, it emerged that numerous victims were drugged, loaded onto ‘death flight’ aircraft, and thrown into the freezing waters of the southern Atlantic Ocean. Among ESMA victims was Esther Careaga, a close friend of Jorge Bergoglio, who later became Pope Francis. Careaga was thrown to her death from a plane one night in December 1977, along with two French nuns and nine others.

“Careaga was a good friend and a great woman,” Beroglio said when the body was identified in 2003. The future pontiff met Careaga, a biochemist and his boss at the time, when he worked as an apprentice at a pharmaceutical laboratory in Buenos Aires in the early 1950s.

November 30, 2017 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Subjugation - Torture, Timeless or most popular | , , | 1 Comment