In an effort to prevent potential terrorists from moving within the United States, the House of Representatives passed a bill which allows the US government to revoke the passport of anyone it deems a threat. The move has drawn heavy criticism from liberty advocates who say the bill violates the Constitution.
“The Benedict Arnold traitors who have turned against America and joined the ranks of the terrorist army ISIS should lose all rights afforded to our citizens,” said Republican Representative Ted Poe of Texas in a statement.
“These people are not returning to America to open coffee shops, they are coming back to kill. We must stop them from coming back at all.”
To that end, Poe sponsored a bill known as the Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO) Passport Revocation Act. After only 15 minutes of debate, the bill was approved by the House of Representatives last Tuesday, and is currently being considered by the Senate.
Under the act, “the Secretary of State may refuse to issue a passport to any individual whom the Secretary has determined has aided, assisted, abetted, or otherwise helped an organization the Secretary has designated as a foreign terrorist organization.”
It also allows the Secretary to “revoke a passport previously issued to any individual” based on the same criteria.
In essence, the bill is a stricter version of laws already on the books. While current US law allows passports to be revoked for any number of national security reasons, those decisions can always be appealed by the individual.
The new bill approved by the House does away with that appeals process.
“The bill provides no ability for someone wrongly denied a passport to challenge the Secretary of State’s findings that they helped a terrorist,” said Norm Singleton, vice president for policy at the Campaign for Liberty, according to the New American.
“So much for due process and reigning in executive power.”
Other critics have expressed surprise that the bill’s passing received such little attention in the mainstream media.
“The US Secretary of State can revoke my passport without meeting any burden of proof that I am actually a terrorist or even that I have ever supported terrorism. He can keep his evidence against me totally secret and will never be required to justify his actions against me,” writes Daniel McAdams for the Ron Paul Institute.
“And this is considered ‘uncontroversial’ in the United States?”
Others have noted how unnecessary the legislation seems, given the technologies already used to track individuals’ movement.
“Given that this technology exists, there is no need for the US government to add powers that could end up stripping passports from citizens unnecessarily,” Patrick Weil wrote for Reuters. “To do otherwise would be to ignore serious constitutional problems.”
“Available technology allows the government to deny or forbid the possibility of dangerous persons crossing borders while easily enforcing the basic right – for us all – to bear a form of internationally recognized identification when abroad,” he added.
Like a stopped clock, even rabid neoconservatives can be right once in a while. A good case in point is a recent open letter to Secretary of State John Kerry, signed by such neocon luminaries as Robert Kagan, Elliott Abrams, Reuel Gerecht and Ellen Bork, calling on the Obama administration to “press the Government of Egypt to end its campaign of indiscriminate repression in order to advance a more effective strategy for countering violent extremism.”
The Obama administration, which helped blow up Libya and Syria in the name of human rights, has resumed arms shipments to the military regime of Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, which seized power from a democratically elected government in 2013. Washington’s double standard not only undercuts U.S. credibility internationally, it also jeopardizes important security interests in the region.
As the letter from the “Bipartisan Working Group on Egypt” rightly warns, “State violence — several thousand killed during street demonstrations, tens of thousands of political prisoners, hundreds of documented cases of torture or forced disappearance, sexual assault of detainees or family members, reported collective punishment of Sinai communities possibly with weapons provided through U.S. military aid — is creating more incentives for Egyptians to join militant groups.”
The letter adds, “By carrying out a campaign of repression and human rights abuses that is unprecedented in the country’s modern history, and by closing off all avenues of peaceful expression of dissent through politics, civil society, or media, Al-Sisi is stoking the very fires he says he wants to extinguish.”
Just three days before the group sent its letter to Kerry, Human Rights Watch reported that Egyptian security forces, operating with “nearly absolute impunity,” have killed hundreds of dissidents in recent months, detained more than 40,000 suspects, and “forcibly disappeared” dozens of people. University students in particular have been targeted for mystery disappearances and killings.
The government has also jailed some 18 journalists for publishing reports that conflict with government-approved messages. Its massacre of roughly 1,000 protesters in Cairo in August 2013 ranks as one of the worst single-day atrocities in the region.
Government repression is growing more, not less, severe with time. President al-Sisi recently issued an executive decree giving himself the power to fire officials at independent state institutions. The government is also fast-tracking legislation to further crack down on press freedoms, including, for example, heavy fines for contradicting official statements on terrorist attacks. Human rights organizations have termed it “a blatant violation of the constitution.” The executive director of the Arabic Network for Human Rights Information said the proposed law “turns journalists into mere conveyors of the state’s official data.”
Yet the tepid response of Kerry’s State Department is to endorse Egypt’s “fight against terrorism,” while expressing the “hope” that the final version of Egypt’s new counterterrorism law will respect “individual rights.” The New York Times rightly called the statement “laughable.”
It is, however, fully in keeping with the Obama administration’s “see-no-evil” policy toward Egypt of late. During a visit to Cairo last year, Kerry praised al-Sisi for expressing “‘a very strong sense of his commitment to human rights.” Then, in December, the United States delivered 10 Apache helicopters to support Egypt’s counterterrorism efforts. Finally, this March, the Obama administration lifted its partial freeze on military aid to Egypt, enacted in October 2013 to encourage movement toward free and fair elections in the country.
When Egypt started buying arms from France and negotiating with Russia, the administration suddenly decided that resuming its full $1.3 billion in annual military aid was “in U.S. national security interests.” That finding came despite the administration’s admission this June that “the overall trajectory for rights and democracy has been negative,” including “arbitrary and unlawful killings” and repressive new laws and executive initiatives that “undermine prospects for democratic governance.”
One factor in the administration’s calculus is its concern over rising numbers of Islamist terrorist attacks within Egypt. They include numerous guerrilla operations by the Egyptian affiliate of the Islamic State (Wilayat Sinai) and, more worrisome, the devastating car bombing of the Italian consulate in downtown Cairo this month. A campaign of urban terrorism could devastate the country’s economy and turn Egypt into a much greater crisis than Syria.
But as numerous human rights activists warn, Egyptian repression has become the most effective recruiting tool for anti-government extremists. The Muslim Brotherhood’s longstanding doctrine of peaceful political change has lost credibility with young activists, who refuse to submit passively to arrest and torture at the hands of state security forces.
Reflecting pressure from within its ranks, the powerful Islamic movement declared in late January, “We are at the beginning of a new phase where we summon our strength and evoke the meaning of jihad. . . [We] prepare ourselves, our wives, our sons and daughters, and whoever follows our path for relentless jihad where we ask for martyrdom.”
As one student of Egypt’s Islamists notes, “the matter has yet to be settled. Given the Brotherhood’s long history of non-violence, many members don’t find it easy to accept it now even in response to the Sisi regime’s clampdown. But the fear of losing ground is occupying the minds of Brotherhood leaders. The way many Brotherhood leaders are framing this is that if there is a war between society and the state, and if the society has taken a stance, the Muslim Brotherhood should not hinder society’s fight for freedom.”
Last year, Robert Kagan became one of the first neoconservatives to break with conservatives in Congress, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee and the Netanyahu regime to warn about prospects for “a new Egyptian jihadist movement brought into existence by the military’s crackdown.”
“To Israel, which has never supported democracy anywhere in the Middle East except Israel, the presence of a brutal military dictatorship bent on the extermination of Islamism is not only tolerable but desirable,” Kagan wrote. But “In Egypt, U.S. interests and Israel’s perceptions of its own interests sharply diverge. If one believes that any hope for moderation in the Arab world requires finding moderate voices not only among secularists but also among Islamists, America’s current strategy in Egypt is producing the opposite result.”
Kagan’s pithy observations remain as true today as they were then. The advice that he and others in the Working Group on Egypt sent to Kerry last week—urging him to stop whitewashing Egypt’s regime and instead to pressure it to meet international human rights commitments and promote national reconciliation —is not simply humane but the wisest possible strategic counsel.
A public inquiry into undercover policing is at risk of becoming an “establishment whitewash” if it does not include scrutiny of the surveillance of trade unionists, activists have warned.
In its current form the inquiry overlooks evidence of collaborative spying by big business and the police, Blacklist Support Group secretary Dave Smith told the Morning Star on Tuesday.
Smith’s concerns echo those of Britain’s largest union Unite, which called for an inquiry into alleged links between police and the “blacklisting” scandal in the construction industry that was exposed in 2009.
The inquiry into undercover policing was launched by Chairman Lord Justice Pitchford on Tuesday, four months after Home Secretary Theresa May announced the investigation.
Opening proceedings in London, Pitchford said the inquiry will be “the first time that undercover policing has been exposed to the rigor of public examination.”
However critics argue the terms of the investigation overlook corporate espionage.
Speaking to the Morning Star, Smith said: “Neither Theresa May nor Lord Justice Pitchford has specifically referred to trade unions, despite the fact there is documentary evidence that they were spied on using covert surveillance tactics.”
“The terms of reference state that the inquiry will only cover spying by the police. But if this is to be a genuine, independent investigation, it needs to look at evidence of collaboration between big business and the police.
“Corporate spying is endemic and, if it is not properly investigated, this will just turn into another establishment whitewash,” he added.
Unite assistant general secretary Gail Cartmail called for a probe into allegations police handed information about workers’ trade union activities to construction companies, who then added them to a blacklist database.
The existence of a blacklist was exposed by a raid on a firm called the Consulting Association by the Information Commissioner’s Office in 2009.
Cartmail said: “We need the inquiry to probe what the undercover police involvement was in relation to links with the ‘blacklisting’ scandal in the construction industry. So far, I think we are just seeing the tip of the iceberg – and Judge Pitchford will have to dig deep.
“The reports that they infiltrated campaign groups and trade unions are true, as police officers were deployed as covert human intelligence sources.
“We need to know who authorized the infiltration of trade unions – how high up does the buck stop when it comes to accountability? And who authorized the payments to these undercover officers to pay their union dues?”
May launched the inquiry into undercover cops after an investigation into claims of human rights abuses committed by police officers unearthed “serious historical failings.”
In some cases, undercover police used the names of deceased children and established long-term sexual relationships with their targets.
Lawyers investigating the allegations for the Home Office say they have discovered more than 80 possible legal breaches relating to undercover policing.
An impressive coalition has formed to oppose a new surveillance bill masquerading as cybersecurity legislation.
Privacy and civil liberties organizations, free market groups, and others from across the political spectrum are joining this week in a common chorus call: Stop CISA.
Proponents of CISA — the Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act — claim the Senate bill would help prevent cyber-crimes by improving information sharing between the government and the private sector. But in reality, CISA only succeeds in expanding government surveillance and weakening privacy while making Americans less secure online. The bill as drafted would have done nothing to stop the high-profile breaches at Sony, Anthem, and, most recently, the Office of Personnel Management, which holds terabytes of sensitive information about millions of government employees.
For several years, certain elements of the business community and national security hawks in Congress have pressed for legislation like CISA. In April, the House passed a package of similar cybersecurity information sharing bills, which were opposed by the ACLU and bevy of other privacy and civil liberties groups, but were in some ways dramatically better than the bill now pending in the Senate.
CISA’s vague language and expansive definitions will give the government new ways to collect and use the personal information and communications of innocent Americans, all without a warrant or any review by an independent court or overseer. CISA would allow companies to share information with the government relating to a “cybersecurity threat,” a term defined so broadly in the bill that it could include huge swaths of emails and text messages. The handover of user information under CISA would be permitted even if otherwise prohibited by existing data privacy laws, like the Electronic Communications Privacy Act. The law would also give companies broad legal protections even if they improperly share consumer data.
And, perhaps unsurprisingly, the information shared by companies would automatically be forwarded to numerous intelligence, military, and law enforcement agencies, including the NSA and FBI.
Once in the government’s hands, CISA allows for the shared information to be used in garden-variety law enforcement cases that have nothing to do with cybersecurity. For example, the government could use private emails and messages received from communications providers like Comcast, Facebook, Google, or Verizon to investigate and prosecute whistleblowers who report serious misconduct to the press. That’s a serious concern given that the Obama administration has already prosecuted more national security whistleblowers than all other administrations combined.
As an added bonus for government snoopers, CISA also includes a new exemption to the Freedom of Information Act, which will make it harder for groups like the ACLU to obtain documents from the government to determine how it is using — or misusing — the shared information. That means, for example, that it could be nearly impossible for us to find out how much private information is flowing from companies to the government or how the government is using it.
And despite CISA’s promise to open the floodgates for private information to flow to the government without any privacy protections, it fails at actually delivering better cybersecurity. As we learned with the hack at the OPM, the government is not a reliable guarantor of data security. Hackers were able to access the personal information of millions of Americans — including Social Security numbers, birthdates, and records about citizens’ finances, health, associations, and even sexual orientation—that applicants for security clearances must disclose to the government. All that additional information would make the government an even more desirable target for cybersnoops and cybercrooks.
CISA is more than just a bad solution to a serious problem. It would actually make cybersecurity worse while compromising basic democratic protections for personal privacy. The Senate must reject this surveillance bill. But if it decides to send this travesty to the president, he should veto the bill, consistent with his past threats against similarly atrocious bills.
Do your part to Stop CISA.
Privacy activists are flooding Congress with messages of opposition to the cyber surveillance bill due to be considered by the Senate, using faxes rather than emails in order to poke fun at lawmakers’ antiquated understanding of technology and privacy.
Fight for the Future, a nonprofit fighting for privacy and against government surveillance, has set up a page dubbed “Operation: Fax Big Brother,” which lets anyone generate and customize a fax protesting the Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act (CISA). Each fax is then sent to all 100 Senators. The group has not said how many faxes have been sent so far.
CISA sailed through the Senate Intelligence Committee in March, with Oregon Democrat Ron Wyden being the sole dissenter. Senate is expected to take up a vote on the bill before the August 7 recess. A similar proposal, known as CISPA, was approved by the House of Representatives in 2013 but died in the Senate after public opposition compelled President Barack Obama to threaten a veto.
“Groups like Fight for the Future have sent millions of emails, and they still don’t seem to get it,” Evan Greer, the group’s campaign manager, told the Guardian. “Maybe they don’t get it because they’re stuck in 1984, and we figured we’d use some 80s technology to try to get our point across.”
According to the group, since 2012 civil liberties activists have sent hundreds of thousands of calls and tweets and over 2.6 million emails to Congress opposing overreaching cybersecurity laws. However, the fax stunt does not just have publicity value. Lawmakers often use analog technology like faxes and pagers in order to hide their digital tracks from Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) inquiries, claims a Senate staffer who spoke to the Guardian.
Sponsored by Senator Dianne Feinstein, a California Democrat, CISA seeks to enlist the support of corporations in collecting user data in the name of cybersecurity, providing them with liability protection if they share the data with federal agencies such as the NSA. Once they have the data, federal agencies would be able to share it freely with each other. What’s more, information shared with the government by the companies will be specifically exempt from FOIA disclosures.
Gabe Rottman, a legislative counsel with the American Civil Liberties Union, described the bill as a “new and vast surveillance authority that might as well be called Patriot Act 2.0 given how much personal information it would funnel to the NSA.”
The US Chamber of Commerce and a number of major corporations are backing the bill. In addition to Facebook and Google, Comcast and AT&T also favor CISA, as do Bank of America and Blue Cross Blue Shield Association.
Proponents of CISA have cited a spree of data breaches over the past year, from corporations such as Sony and healthcare provider Anthem to government agencies including the Department of State and Office of Personnel Management (OPM), as a reason to beef up cybersecurity. Critics have countered that CISA is not doing anything to protect networks from threats, and everything to vacuum up Americans’ data.
“With all these breaches, there’s a lot of fearmongering going on in DC,” says Fight for the Future’s Greer. “They just say: ‘This is a problem – we’ve got to do something!’ And this is the something they’re going to do. It’s not just that this won’t fix things – it’ll make them worse. And it’ll give sweeping legal immunity to some of the largest companies in the world and open us all up to new forms of surveillance.”
Choctaw medicine man, civil rights activist dies after being booked into historically infamous Mississippi jail
PrivacySOS | July 26, 2015
Just weeks after Sandra Bland died in a Texas jail cell after having been arrested during a traffic stop, another activist is dead in eerily similar circumstances. The day after Bland died, long-time Choctaw civil rights activist Rexdale Henry was found dead in a jail cell in Neshoba County Jail in Philadelphia, Mississippi, after a traffic stop that also led to his arrest.
Henry’s family and friends, including Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) co-founder Diane Nash, have raised money to pay for an independent autopsy.
The Jackson Free Press reports that this isn’t the first time an activist has died after being booked into Neshoba County Jail:
Henry’s arrest came one day after 39-year-old Jonathan Sanders died after a police stop in nearby Clarke County…. Information from a SNCC email listserv states of Henry: “His family wants to know what or who caused their healthy, fifty-three year old loved one to die in that cell.”
Activists also point to the death of Michael Deangelo McDougle, also in the Neshoba County Jail, less than a year ago, in November 2014, and invoke the Mississippi Burning murders that took place during Freedom Summer of 1964.
On June 21 of that year, local authorities took three civil-rights activists—James Chaney, Andrew Goodman and Mickey Schwerner—to the Neshoba County Jail (it has since been moved) on minor charges before the trio disappeared; the activists’ bodies were discovered in an earthen dam 44 days after they went missing.
According to Newsone, a site catering to Black Americans, Native Americans “are killed by police at a higher rate than any other demographic in this country.”
Last week, Retired General Wesley Clark, who was NATO commander during the US bombing of Serbia, proposed that “disloyal Americans” be sent to internment camps for the “duration of the conflict.” Discussing the recent military base shootings in Chattanooga, TN, in which five US service members were killed, Clark recalled the internment of American citizens during World War II who were merely suspected of having Nazi sympathies. He said: “back then we didn’t say ‘that was freedom of speech,’ we put him in a camp.”
He called for the government to identify people most likely to be radicalized so we can “cut this off at the beginning.” That sounds like “pre-crime”!
Gen. Clark ran for president in 2004 and it’s probably a good thing he didn’t win considering what seems to be his disregard for the Constitution. Unfortunately in the current presidential race Donald Trump even one-upped Clark, stating recently that NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden is a traitor and should be treated like one, implying that the government should kill him.
These statements and others like them most likely reflect the frustration felt in Washington over a 15 year war on terror where there has been no victory and where we actually seem worse off than when we started. The real problem is they will argue and bicker over changing tactics but their interventionist strategy remains the same.
Retired Army Gen. Mike Flynn, who was head of the Defense Intelligence Agency during the US wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, told al-Jazeera this week that US drones create more terrorists than they kill. He said: “The more weapons we give, the more bombs we drop, that just … fuels the conflict.”
Still Washington pursues the same strategy while expecting different results.
It is probably almost inevitable that the warhawks will turn their anger inward, toward Americans who are sick of the endless and costly wars. The US loss of the Vietnam war is still blamed by many on the protesters at home rather than on the foolishness of the war based on a lie in the first place.
Let’s hope these threats from Clark and Trump are not a trial balloon leading to a clampdown on our liberties. There are a few reasons we should be concerned. Last week the US House passed a bill that would allow the Secretary of State to unilaterally cancel an American citizen’s passport if he determines that person has “aided” or “abetted” a terrorist organization. And as of this writing, the Senate is debating a highway funding bill that would allow the Secretary of State to cancel the passport of any American who owes too much money to the IRS.
Canceling a passport means removing the right to travel, which is a kind of virtual internment camp. The person would find his movements restricted, either being prevented from leaving or entering the United States. Neither of these measures involves any due process or possibility of appeal, and the government’s evidence supporting the action can be kept secret.
We should demand an end to these foolish wars that even the experts admit are making matters worse. Of course we need a strong defense, but we should not provoke the hatred of others through drones, bombs, or pushing regime change overseas. And we must protect our civil liberties here at home from government elites who increasingly view us as the enemy.
Do you believe that governments occasionally conspire to undermine the public good? Do you believe that governments manipulate people through fear to achieve nefarious ends such as war and intervention abroad? Do you believe that ‘elected’ officials serve rich and powerful special interests rather than the majority population?
If you answered yes to any of the above, and you are a British citizen, then you could be the target of a new ‘counter-extremism’ initiative spearheaded by that country’s perverse Prime Minister David Cameron. As part of his Orwellian ‘counter-extremism’ effort, Cameron has instituted a number of truly despotic measures intent on stifling free speech and extirpating ‘heretical’ viewpoints about false flag terrorism and the undue influence of Zionists on Western foreign policy.
While self-evident to most clear thinking people, the notion that the West is deliberately targeting Muslims and their countries in accordance with an intricately fashioned master plan of divide and conquer will now be a prohibited opinion that could put the British police state on your trail.
“Muslim conspiracy theorists,” Cameron proclaimed in a recent speech outlining his ‘five year strategy’ to combat extremism, who believe that “Jews exercise a ‘malevolent’ power, that [the] Israeli intelligence agency Mossad inspired 9/11 and that the UK allowed 7/7 because it wanted an anti-Muslim backlash” are to be singled out for suppression.
Cameron’s 1984-style designs will give parents the ability to revoke their children’s passports if suspected of holding ‘extremist’ beliefs. Police will be given new surveillance powers as well as the authority to vet what certain ‘extremists’ and ‘conspiracy theorists’ post on social media. Additionally, Ofcom – Britain’s communications regulatory body – will also be empowered to “crack down on television channels broadcasting extremist messages.” ‘Extremist messages’ appears to be a thinly disguised euphemism for anything not consonant with Western and Zionist propaganda.
Cameron’s aggressive moves against free expression were not unforeseen. During a speech at the United Nations last September, the British leader decried “conspiracy theorists” as “non-violent extremists” who should be confronted with the “full force” of the British state. The theory that Israel and Western intelligence agencies were involved in the fabrication of 9/11 and other false flag attacks was specifically mentioned by Cameron as one of those “dangerous ideas” that needs to be eliminated from public discourse. Inferences about Jewish-Zionist manipulation of Western foreign policy towards the Islamic world should also be combatted, said Cameron in the speech.
Distracting the Public from Western Sponsorship of ISIS
All of this disingenuous bluster rings hollow when one considers the fact that Western governments and their allies have supported, and many would argue created, ISIS to serve their duplicitous agenda in the Middle East.
The CIA, MI6 and Mossad, in conjunction with the oppressive autocrats of Saudi Arabia, have long worked with Wahhabi-Salafist extremist elements in the Middle East and North Africa to counter other more formidable, non-sectarian adversaries in the region such as Libya’s Gaddafi, Syria’s Assad, Lebanon’s Hezbollah and the Islamic Republic of Iran. A re-run of the CIA’s “Operation Cyclone” which empowered Mujahideen forces in Afghanistan against the Soviets in the 1980s is currently unfolding in the Middle East under the auspices of many of the same players.
Award winning reporter Seymour Hersh revealed in a 2007 report titled “The Redirection” that the Bush administration launched a joint covert operation with Israel and Saudi Arabia to augment “Sunni extremist groups” and other fanatics to weaken the influence of Syria, Iran and Hezbollah. Obama picked up where Bush left off, flooding Syrian and Libyan insurgent groups with untold largesse and arms, using the corrupted Arab Gulf kingdoms as conduits for weapons transfers for the sake of plausible deniability.
Hersh’s sources close to the US government told him that the Saudis assured Washington that they exercised control over the extremist Wahhabi and Salafist groups, and would steer their fanaticism towards the Shiites. “It’s not that we don’t want the Salafis to throw bombs; it’s who they throw them at—Hezbollah, Moqtada al-Sadr, Iran, and at the Syrians, if they continue to work with Hezbollah and Iran,” Prince Bandar bin Sultan, Saudi Arabia’s then-National Security Advisor, purportedly told his American counterparts in the Bush administration. “We’ve created this movement, and we can control it.”
Part of the arrangement, Hersh explained, was a guarantee from the Saudis that Israel’s security interests would be safeguarded, which clarifies why ISIS and its affiliates have not attacked Israel despite the country’s close proximity to the terrorists’ strongholds in Syria and Iraq. “Israel would be assured that its security was paramount and that Washington and Saudi Arabia and other Sunni states shared its concern about Iran,” Hersh noted was the first point in a series of “informal understandings about their new strategic direction” to combat Shiite influence led by Iran.
ISIS themselves have mostly eschewed hostility towards Israel, posting an official statement on social media in July 2014 saying that they’re more interested in fighting “Muslim infidels” than the Zionist state. Israeli officials have expressed similar sentiments, with Israel’s former envoy to the US, Michael Oren, stating in a September 2013 interview that Tel Aviv “prefers” ISIS and al-Qaeda over the “bad guys backed by Iran,” namely Syria’s Assad and Hezbollah. Oren forthrightly conceded that Israel is committed to defeating through terrorist violence “the strategic arc that extends from Tehran, to Damascus to Beirut” with Assad in Syria functioning as the “keystone in that arc.” “That is a position we had well before the outbreak of hostilities in Syria,” Oren told the Jerusalem Post. “With the outbreak of hostilities we continued to want Assad to go.”
The unholy alliance between Israel and the Salafist jihadists came right out in the open in June 2015 when ISIS released a video threatening to topple Hamas in Gaza, promising to bring bloodshed and ruin to the Strip. Salafist elements tied to ISIS have in fact attacked Hamas havens in Gaza on multiple occasions over the past few months, showcasing their utility as pawns of Israel. There are also well-documented direct connections between ISIS-linked militants and Israel. A 2014 report compiled by United Nations observers stationed in the area revealed that the Israeli military has provided anti-Assad militants with sanctuary on the Israeli side of the Golan region, ostensibly treating wounded fighters in Israeli field hospitals and even giving them caches of weapons and other supplies. On top of material support for the terrorists that have besieged Syria, Israel has aided their onslaught through numerous air strikes against Syrian military targets since the turmoil began in earnest in 2012, effectively attempting to tip the tide of the war in the Takfiris’ favour. In January 2015 Israel conducted an airstrike that wiped out a brigade of Hezbollah fighters on the Syrian side of the Golan Heights, once again highlighting the Takfiri-Tel Aviv nexus.
In light of such treachery against Arabs and Muslims trying to liberate themselves from oppression and domination, ISIS’s primary function as an acquiescent tool of US-Israeli imperialism cannot be overstated.
As Prime Minister Cameron feigns outrage and opposition to Islamic extremism, the British government under his watch has been an active and willing partner in the Machiavellian strategy of divide and rule in the Middle East spearheaded by the US and Israel.
The 2015 trial of Swedish national Bherlin Gildo – who fought for a militant group in Syria – confirmed London’s role in backing Takfiri insurgents battling Damascus. In his defense, Gildo’s lawyers introduced evidence that British intelligence agencies “were supporting the same Syrian opposition groups as he was, and were party to a secret operation providing weapons and non-lethal help to the groups, including the Free Syrian Army.” Confronted with this contradiction, the British court dropped all charges against Gildo, fearing more embarrassing evidence showcasing British complicity with Syrian rebels could surface during proceedings.
In 2013, Roland Dumas, France’s former foreign minister, told a French television station that during a visit to Britain two years before the Syrian crisis began in 2011, British officials informed him of a secret plan to spark a rebel invasion of Syria. “Britain was preparing gunmen to invade Syria,” Dumas said, pinpointing the origins of the scheme to Israel which, according to Dumas, sought to oust a neighbouring regime hostile to its imperial ambitions in the Levant. Dumas then recounted a conversation he had with an unnamed Israeli prime minister who allegedly told him that the countries in the Middle East that get in the way of Zionist objectives for the region would be swiftly eliminated.
In an April 2014 report entitled “The Red Line and the Rat Line,” journalist Seymour Hersh uncovered British involvement with a CIA-led covert operation in Benghazi, Libya, wherein the Agency was secretly channeling the looted weapons stockpiles of the fallen Gaddafi regime to Western-backed Syrian rebels through a “rat line.” Commenting on Hersh’s report, The Independent’s Patrick Cockburn described the CIA/MI6 “rat line” project in Benghazi as a “supply chain for the Syrian rebels overseen by the US in covert cooperation with Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar.” He summarized Hersh’s findings in more detail as follows:
“The information about this comes from a highly classified and hitherto secret annex to the report by the US Senate Intelligence Committee on the attack by Libyan militiamen on the US consulate in Benghazi on 11 September 2012 in which US ambassador Christopher Stevens was killed. The annex deals with an operation in which the CIA, in cooperation with MI6, arranged the dispatch of arms from Mu’ammer Gaddafi’s arsenals to Turkey and then across the 500-mile long Turkish southern frontier with Syria. The annex refers to an agreement reached in early 2012 between Obama and Erdogan with Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar supplying funding. Front companies, purporting to be Australian, were set up, employing former US soldiers who were in charge of obtaining and transporting the weapons. According to Hersh, the MI6 presence enabled the CIA to avoid reporting the operation to Congress, as required by law, since it could be presented as a liaison mission.”
In addition to conniving with the US and Israel to arm Takfiri rebel gangs that eventually overran Gaddafi and continue to menace Syria, the British government has also covertly collaborated with Wahhabi extremists in its own country who serve as cartoonish fodder for anti-Muslim war on terror propaganda. In a May 2013 report for the Asia Times, security scholar Nafeez Ahmed disclosed that the British-based Salafist group Al Muhajiroun has been secretly supported by the British intelligence services since its inception in 1996. That group has spawned nearly all of the supposed Islamic extremists implicated in (and perhaps framed for) various attacks in Britain, including the alleged ‘shoe bomber’ Richard Reid, the alleged Woolwich killers of British soldier Lee Rigby, the alleged 7/7 bombers and many others accused or convicted of terrorism-related offenses. Ahmed contends that various dubious personalities acting as leaders of Al Muhajiroun over the years – including Abu Hamza, Omar Bakri, Haroon Rashid Aswat and Anjem Choudary – have been clandestine agents of British intelligence fronting as ‘Islamic radicals.’
Despite his vocal support for al-Qaeda and ISIS, outwardly championing their grotesque bloodletting in Syria and Iraq today, Anjem Choudary (the current leader of Al Muhajiroun which has re-branded and re-named itself several times) is left untouched by British authorities and appears frequently on mainstream media. How can this impunity be explained if Choudary and his organization are operating independently without state protection? “Almost every major terrorist attack and plot in the UK has in some way been linked to Choudary’s extremist network,” noted Ahmed in the aforesaid piece, yet the radical preacher and his organization “[continues] to function with impunity in new incarnations.”
“[T]hrough Al Muhajiroun,” Ahmed explained, “MI5 is spawning many of the plots it lays claim to successfully foiling – as the FBI is also doing.” The MI5-controlled front group essentially serves a dual purpose: 1) it functions as a repository for Muslim patsies used in US-Israeli-British false flag operations, and 2) it acts as a recruiting hub for Wahhabi-Salafist mercenaries wielded as cannon fodder in various battle zones where Western/Zionist geopolitical and economic interests are at stake.
Unraveling the Web of Intrigue
Those not learned in the dark arts of black operations will likely be confused by all of this. “The West is fighting a war on Islamic extremism,” the indoctrinated lemmings will proclaim with confidence, completely unaware that they are being played for fools by professional spooks trained to employ artifices against the masses.
The surface rhetoric that politicians employ is merely a pack of daft lies intended to divert attention from the real agendas that drive policy. The public is fed a steady diet of cover stories and feel-good rationales – fanciful tales of good vs. evil – to pacify adverse reactions to and deflect unwanted attention from nefarious plots designed to benefit rich people and their interests.
David Cameron himself inadvertently identified whom some of these wealthy string-pullers are: Jewish Zionists committed to overturning every regime in the Middle East that is not yet subordinated to Tel Aviv. The other half of that equation includes an assortment of profiteering Anglos, Americans, Europeans, Arabs, Russians, Chinese and other money-mad opportunists. The Cameron’s, Obama’s, Harper’s, Hollande’s and Merkel’s of the world are mere screens or dummies for the real power behind the throne: the unscrupulous financiers, oligarchs and speculators who dominate Wall Street and the City of London, and to a lesser extent Shanghai and Moscow.
The Zionists, however, seem to be the most organized, the most aggressive and the most committed to living out their grandiose messianic dreams. Whether that vision entails a “New Middle East” in which “Greater Israel” rules the roost or a global government headquartered in Jerusalem remains to be seen. Either way it spells disaster for most of the world’s peoples.
 “Parents may cancel children’s passports in war on IS,” The Week, July 20, 2015. https://web.archive.org/web/20150724070333/http://www.theweek.co.uk/64449/cameron-attacks-ludicrous-extremist-conspiracy-theories
 Seymour Hersh, “The Redirection,” The New Yorker, March 5, 2007. https://web.archive.org/web/20150318015442/http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2007/03/05/the-redirection
 Elad Benari, “ISIS: Fighting ‘Infidels’ Takes Precedence Over Fighting Israel,” Israel National News, July 8, 2014. https://web.archive.org/web/20140831070443/http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/182632
 Herb Keinon, “’Israel wanted Assad gone since start of Syria civil war’,” Jerusalem Post, Sept. 17, 2013. https://web.archive.org/web/20150112102133/http://www.jpost.com/Syria-Crisis/Oren-Jerusalem-has-wanted-Assad-ousted-since-the-outbreak-of-the-Syrian-civil-war-326328
 “ISIS Threatens To Topple Hamas In Gaza,” Reuters, July 1, 2015. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/07/01/isis-hamas-gaza_n_7704360.html
 “Isis blamed for Gaza City bomb attacks,” The Independent, July 20, 2015. http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/middle-east/isis-blamed-for-gaza-city-bomb-attacks-10400747.html
 “ISIS Allies Target Hamas and Energize Gaza Extremists,” New York Times, June 30, 2015. https://web.archive.org/web/20150713130805/http://www.nytimes.com/2015/07/01/world/isis-allies-target-hamas-and-energize-gaza-extremists.html?_r=0
 “ISIS supporters claim attack on Hamas base in Gaza Strip,” Russia Today, May 8, 2015. https://web.archive.org/web/20150713195921/http://rt.com/news/256941-isis-attack-gaza-hamas/
 “UN details Israel helping Syrian rebels at Golan Heights,” Russia Today, Dec. 8, 2014. https://web.archive.org/web/20150316140841/http://rt.com/news/212319-israel-helps-syrian-militants/
 “Head of Syrian army after alleged airstrikes: Israel working with ISIS and al-Qaida,” Jerusalem Post, Dec. 7, 2014. https://web.archive.org/web/20150316154301/http://www.jpost.com/Arab-Israeli-Conflict/Head-of-Syrian-army-after-alleged-airstrikes-Israel-working-with-ISIS-and-al-Qaida-383907
 “’Israel strike’ kills Hezbollah men in Syria’s Golan Heights,” BBC News, Jan. 18, 2015. https://web.archive.org/web/20150316090443/http://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-30873402
 “Terror trial collapses after fears of deep embarrassment to security services,” The Guardian, June 1, 2015. https://web.archive.org/web/20150610080819/http://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2015/jun/01/trial-swedish-man-accused-terrorism-offences-collapse-bherlin-gildo
 Seymour Hersh, “The Red Line and the Rat Line,” London Review of Books, April 17, 2014. https://web.archive.org/web/20150315050157/http://www.lrb.co.uk/v36/n08/seymour-m-hersh/the-red-line-and-the-rat-line
 Patrick Cockburn, “MI6, the CIA and Turkey’s rogue game in Syria,” The Independent, April 13, 2014. https://web.archive.org/web/20150110040831/http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/comment/mi6-the-cia-and-turkeys-rogue-game-in-syria-9256551.html
 Nafeez Ahmed, “UK pays price for MI5 courting terror,” Asia Times, May 30, 2013. https://web.archive.org/web/20130801060233/http://atimes.com/atimes/World/WOR-01-300513.html
Copyright 2015 Brandon Martinez
France’s highest constitutional authority on Thursday approved a sweeping, controversial new surveillance law that greatly expands the government’s spying powers, despite widespread human rights concerns.
Making only minor changes to the legislation, which was approved by Parliament in May, the Constitutional Council ruled on Thursday that the bill generally aligns with the French constitution—even as privacy and civil liberties groups continue to call attention to its egregious rights violations.
“By validating almost all surveillance measures provided in the Surveillance Law adopted on 25 June, the French Constitutional Council legalizes mass surveillance and endorses a historical decline in fundamental rights,” said La Quadrature du Net, a Paris-based digital rights and civil liberties organization. “Only international surveillance has been deemed to be non compliant to the Constitution.”
The law gives French intelligence agencies power to tap phones and hack into computers; sweep up and analyze metadata of millions of civilians; and plant secret microphones, cameras, and ‘keystroke loggers’ in the homes of “suspected terrorists”—all without approval from a judge.
It also gives the government the power to authorize surveillance for reasons as vague as “major foreign policy interests” and preventing “organized delinquency.”
The government justified the bill by invoking recent attacks in Paris, which saw 17 people killed by gunmen in January at the satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo and a kosher deli. President Francois Hollande’s move to have the law approved by the Constitutional Council is “unusual,” the Guardian writes. But while it is rare, Hollande’s motives are clear—the decision by the Council ensures that the law will not be challenged as illegal in the future.
By approving the bill, the Council “has disavowed its role as protector of fundamental rights and liberties,” La Quadrature continued. “By refusing to implement effective control over the intelligence services, it is rubber-stamping a historic step back for privacy and freedom of communication, thus undermining the very foundations of democracy. This evening the reason of state was brutally imposed over the rule of law.”
One of the most controversial provisions in the bill requires internet service providers and telecommunications companies to install equipment, referred to in previous debates as “algorithmic black boxes,” that sift through internet traffic and metadata for so-called “terrorist” activity and alert authorities when flagged. Opponents have warned that portion of the bill will “create permanent surveillance,” as Communist Senator Cécile Cukierman said during a June debate—a charge which officials deny.
The law comes into effect just two days after the United Nations Committee for Human Rights released a report warning that the bill “grants overly broad powers for very intrusive surveillance on the basis of vast and badly defined objectives” and calling on France to “guarantee that any interference in private life must conform to principles of legality, proportionality and necessity.”
[…] Privacy International, which submitted recommendations this month to the UNHCR on the right to privacy in France, said the bill legalized hacking. “Its use by any state authorities, particularly intelligence agencies, must be highly regulated to protect against abuses of power. Yet the bill makes no provision for judicial authorisation or oversight of hacking powers,” the organization wrote.
For almost a quarter century, General Electric’s corporate slogan was “GE: We Bring Good Things To Life.” Well, based upon a report in Sunday’s New York Times, the company may want to dig up that old slogan, repurpose it a bit, and roll it out as “GE: We Bring Mass Surveillance To Lights.”
According to the Times, “using a combination of LEDs and big data technology,” everyday street lights, as well as those used to illuminate parking lots, store interiors and other locations, will soon be equipped for mass data collection. Of course, the soft sell for this hybrid product—which, as reported by the Times and Reuters in 2013, is manufactured by several companies including GE and Sensity Systems—is based around largely benevolent goals. For one thing, the LED bulbs are far more energy efficient than the light fixtures currently used by most cities. That’s good. They also point out that the built in monitoring features can be used to ease traffic congestion and sense when garbage cans are full. Who wouldn’t like that? Of course, there’s more. These lightbulbs-of-the-not-so-distant-future will also be able to GPS track individual shoppers as they travel through stores. Wait. What? The light bulbs can function as tracking devices? We would have to imagine that if they can GPS-track shoppers in stores, they could work just as effectively to track people as they walk the streets of our cities and towns. In fact, if you traveled through Newark Liberty International Airport in the past year, these spy-bulbs lights were already watching you. And there’s more: the bulbs can be programmed to “pick() up on suspicious behavior.” What exactly does that mean? If two women wearing head scarves decide to chat in a parking lot after seeing a late night movie, are the police going to be notified?
I always figured Big Brother was going to be some giant face on a wall, not a tiny camera hidden inside a light bulb.
The ACLU strongly opposes the creation of infrastructures for ubiquitous mass surveillance including the widespread deployment of lightbulb spying technology. But what is particularly troubling here is the stealthy way in which the product is being marketed and pitched to the press; to wit, as an energy efficient light bulb with built-in monitoring technology. Given the limited use of the product as a lighting device and the broad scope of its tracking and surveillance features, what this product really appears to be is a mass surveillance device being disguised as an LED light bulb. I would bet that if we could see a breakdown of the device’s production costs, the lightbulb versus surveillance technology discrepancy would be equally pronounced.
There are no doubt an increasing number of cameras in our public spaces, but it would still be a big deal for governments to construct giant, stealth surveillance networks that are under their centralized control. And although these surveillance bulbs may have beneficial uses, I think we would be far better off keeping our privacy, finding other ways to combat full trash cans and traffic congestion, and not bringing mass surveillance to lights.
NSA spying scandals are being discussed by the public now, said Elsa Rassbach, anti-war activist from Code Pink. And this is a positive step towards throwing out the remains of having been occupied, she added.
WikiLeaks has published an intercept suggesting that the National Security Agency kept an eye on German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier and many other senior German officials for years.
RT: Do you believe the NSA spying scandals have a significant effect on relations between Germany and the US?
Elsa Rassbach: I think the very fact that they are being discussed shows a huge shift, because this spying has been going on heavily during the whole Cold War. But the thing is that it continued after Germany supposedly received its sovereignty through the Two plus Four Agreement in 1990 and 91. Germany has allowed this whole time this spying, and has known about it, and has also allowed the bases here to be used for wars that Germany has said that they did not agree with, I mean the US military bases. The fact that now it’s even being discussed is already a very positive step.
RT: So why do you think the German government’s outrage publicly hasn’t been greater?
ER: I think that the new story that “Oh [Angela] Merkel’s cell phone was being listened to,” was really a ploy. It’s well known what the NSA was doing the whole time, and was set up to do, was to spy broadly on everyone around the world, except US citizens. What they changed in 2001 after the attack on the World Trade Center is that they decided, or four people decided: President [George] Bush, Vice President [Dick] Cheney, and the heads of the CIA and the NSA, that they would throw out the US Constitution and allow also the spying upon US citizens.
I’m absolutely certain that Adenauer’s [Konrad Adenauer, the first post-war Chancellor of Germany from 1949 to 1963] staff, his telephones, and all were spied upon. But at that time Germany was occupied. My question is: Why has it taken so long since Germany achieved sovereignty and was reunified in 1991; why has it taken so long since then? There are some reasons for it, but still think that the way the things are now, it’s almost like an anachronism and Germany does need to throw off the remains of having been occupied.
RT: How much pressure is Merkel under because of these revelations? Does it have an effect on the domestic politics in Germany?
ER: We do see that even some members of the CDU [Christian Democratic Union, Merkel’s party] are making comments and making demands. I think that a lot of the pressure is a big shift in public opinion in Germany. There was recently a Pew study in 2008 where they were asking many countries in Europe: “What’s your opinion of the freedoms that the US gives its citizens. Germans said in 2008, 70 percent had a positive view of this. In 2013, just prior to the Snowden revelations, Germans were 80 percent in favor of their view of the US attitude toward personal freedoms.
It’s now plunged to 43 percent in the last two years, which is the lowest number of any of the major European countries. So there is a big shift on the ground. There is a peace movement, there is a lot of talk now about Ramstein [US Air Force base situated in south-west Germany], drones, and that this surveillance has to end. This was not happening two years ago, or three years ago in the peace movement here. How much that will ultimately relay into sufficient parliamentary pressure and so forth on Chancellor Merkel to do something, I don’t know. And I also wonder whether there would be any pressure from the different corporations who have also been spied upon, whether they will also put pressure on the government about this.
Lawsuit requests records from intelligence agencies that have unlawfully detained, searched, and interrogated filmmaker for six years
Award-winning journalist and filmmaker Laura Poitras on Monday filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) and U.S. intelligence agencies for subjecting her to what she called “Kafkaesque” harassment at airports throughout the U.S. and the world on dozens of occasions.
Poitras, who won an Academy Award last year for Citizenfour, the documentary about NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, said she has been detained, searched without warrant, interrogated for hours, and had vital belongings confiscated more than 50 times over the course of six years—without ever being charged with a crime.
The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit names the DOJ, the Department of Homeland Security, and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence and demands the release of all records from those agencies on Poitras.
In a statement on Monday, the filmmaker, who is being represented by the civil liberties group Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), made clear that her lawsuit stood for more than just her own experiences.
“I’m filing this lawsuit because the government uses the U.S. border to bypass the rule of law,” Poitras said. “This simply should not be tolerated in a democracy. I am also filing this suit in support of the countless other less high-profile people who have also been subjected to years of Kafkaesque harassment at the borders. We have a right to know how this system works and why we are targeted.”
Poitras has spoken openly about her harassment at U.S. borders, which included reportedly being placed on the government’s No Fly List after returning home from filming My Country, My Country, a 2006 documentary which profiled Iraqi critics of the U.S. occupation.
She has also had her laptop, camera, mobile phone, and reporter notebooks seized and their contents copied, according to the suit. On one occasion, Poitras was allegedly threatened with handcuffing for taking notes during her detention, as border agents said her pen could be used as a weapon.
This is not the first time that Poitras has filed FOIAs with intelligence agencies for their records on her detainment, but the departments have evaded her requests at every turn.
“The government used its power to detain people at airports, in the name of national security, to target a journalist whose work has focused on the effects of the U.S. war on terror,” said David Sobel, EFF senior counsel. “In refusing to respond to Poitras’ FOIA requests and wrongfully withholding the documents about her it has located, the government is flouting its responsibility to explain and defend why it subjected a law-abiding citizen—whose work has shone a light on post-9/11 military and intelligence activities—to interrogations and searches every time she entered her country.”
EFF attorney Jamie Lee Williams added: “We are suing the government to force it to disclose any records that would show why security officials targeted Poitras for six years, even though she had no criminal record and there was no indication that she posed any security risk. By spurning Poitras’ FOIA requests, the government leaves the impression that her detentions were a form of retaliation and harassment of a journalist whose work has focused on U.S. policy in the post-9/11 world.”
In addition to her documentary film work, Poitras is a recipient of the MacArthur Genius Grant and has won the Pulitzer for her reporting on the NSA leaks. My Country, My Country and Citizenfour are part of a series of films exploring post-9/11 America, along with 2010’s The Oath, a documentary about Guantanamo Bay prison.