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Outgoing senator urged to release full CIA torture report

RT | December 29, 2014

Calls for Sen. Mark Udall (D-Colorado) to reveal the entire, unredacted CIA torture report have increased, with a group of former intelligence analysts issuing a memo that urges the outgoing legislator to read the report on the Senate floor.

Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS) released the letter, asking Udall to use his constitutional protection as a still-sitting member of Congress to introduce the full 6,000-plus-page report by the Senate Intelligence Committee into the congressional record by reading it on the Senate floor. The current version is heavily redacted.

“We, the undersigned are veteran intelligence officers with a combined total of over 300 years of experience in intelligence work,” the letter begins. “We send you this open letter at what seems to be the last minute simply because we had been hoping we would not have to.”

“You seem on the verge of leaving the Senate without letting your fellow Americans know all they need to know about CIA torture,” the memo continues. “In the eight weeks since you lost your Senate seat you gave off signs that, during your last days in office, you would provide us with a fuller account of this sordid chapter in our country’s history, exercising your right to immunity under the “Speech or Debate” clause in Article 1 of the Constitution.”

VIPS is not the first to call on Udall to introduce the unredacted report into the congressional record. On November 5 ‒ the day after the incumbent senator lost his re-election bid to Republican Rep. Cory Gardner, and over a month before the Intelligence Committee published their findings ‒ Trevor Timm wrote an op-ed in the Guardian urging the “lame-duck transparency advocate” to grab the “rare opportunity to truly show his principles in the final two months of his Senate career and finally expose, in great detail, the secret government wrongdoing he’s been criticizing for years.”

The Speech or Debate clause in the US Constitution states that so long as legislators are “acting in the sphere of legitimate legislative activity,” they are “protected not only from the consequence of litigation’s results but also from the burden of defending themselves” from retribution from the government’s executive branch.

The senator has said he is considering the option.

“Transparency and disclosure are critical to the work of the Senate intelligence committee and our democracy, so I’m going to keep all options on the table to ensure the truth comes out,” Udall told the Denver Post in an interview.

“I mean, I’m going to keep all options on the table,” said Udall, when asked specifically about using his position in Congress to reveal the unredacted document.

Udall would not be the first to use his constitutional immunity to reveal classified materials on the Senate floor. In 1971, then-Sen. Mike Gravel (D-Alaska) released the Pentagon Papers – the secret official study that revealed the lies and manipulations of successive US administrations that misled the country into the Vietnam War. His action was in response to the Nixon administration’s move to block any further publication of the report and to punish any newspaper publisher who revealed the contents, after The New York Times published portions of the leaked study.

“From the floor of the senate, Gravel (a junior senator at the time) insisted that his constituents had a right to know the truth behind the war and proceeded to read 4,100 pages of the 7,000 page document into the senate [sic] record,”the biography on his website reads.

Gravel’s recitation lasted for three hours before he almost collapsed. He then entered thousands of more pages into the record after he couldn’t speak any longer from exhaustion.

The former Alaskan senator has also joined the calls for Udall to follow in his footsteps.

“If Udall wants to call me, I can explain this to him,” Gravel told the Intercept in early November. “What he’d have to do is call a subcommittee meeting like I did, late at night.”

The two biggest reasons not to do it, Gravel said, are no longer relevant.

“The biggest fear you have is peer pressure: What are my members of the Senate going to think of me? But I’ve got to say, if you lose office, like he has, he’s got no more peer pressure,” he said.

The Senate has rules against disclosing classified information, and could punish Udall with “censure, removal from committee membership, or expulsion from the Senate.”

Since Udall was already voted out of office, none of those punishments would affect him, Gravel noted.

Transparency advocates hoped that Udall would use his December 10 speech on the Senate floor, as Timm wrote, to “go out with a bang.” Instead, he blasted both the CIA and the White House over what the lawmaker considers to be complicity with regards to propagating long-standing lies about the United States’ use of torture against foreign detainees.

Udall’s last day as a US senator will be January 2. The 114th Congress begins the following day.

December 29, 2014 Posted by | Subjugation - Torture | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Sophisticated ‘state-sponsored’ spying tool targeted govts, infrastructure for years

RT | November 24, 2014

A sophisticated malware dubbed Regin has been used to spy on governments, infrastructure operators and other high-profile targets, security company Symantec has revealed. It also targeted private individuals and businesses, particularly in Russia.

A back door-type Trojan displays a “degree of technical competence rarely seen,” Symantec said in a press release. The complexity of the virus enabled the intruder to create a framework for mass surveillance. Targets include private companies, government entities and research think tanks. Attacks on telecoms companies were allegedly carried out to gain access to calls being routed through their infrastructure.

Confirmed Regin infections by sector (image from symantec.com)

Confirmed Regin infections by sector (image from symantec.com)

The company believes that the Trojan was likely developed by a nation state as it took months, if not years to develop such a piece of software and cover up its tracks. Analyzing its further capabilities the company has drawn a conclusion that Regin could be one of the main cyber espionage tools used by the implicated nation state.

Almost a third of the confirmed infections were discovered in Russia with a further 24 percent in Saudi Arabia. Mexico, Ireland, India, Afghanistan, Iran, Belgium, Austria and Pakistan are also on the list.

“Regin is a highly complex threat which has been used in systematic data collection or intelligence gathering campaigns. The development and operation of this malware would have required a significant investment of time and resources,” Symantec said.

Symantec found that the virus has been used between 2008 and 2011, before being suddenly withdrawn until a new version of the malware resurfaced from 2013 onwards.

Confirmed Regin infections by country (image from symantec.com)

Confirmed Regin infections by country (image from symantec.com)

Regin uses a modular approach allowing it to load features that exactly fit the target, enabling a customized spying.“Its design makes it highly suited for persistent, long-term surveillance operations against targets,” the security company says.

And it’s five-stage loading architecture with special and hidden encryption at each stage makes it similar to Duqu/Stuxnet threats, Symantec said. “Executing the first stage starts a domino chain of decryption and loading of each subsequent stage for a total of five stages. Each individual stage provides little information on the complete package. Only by acquiring all five stages is it possible to analyze and understand the threat,” the press release reads. Furthermore Regin is equipped with a number of stealth features so that even after Trojan’s presence is detected, it is “very difficult to ascertain what it is doing.”

Researchers say many components of the virus remain undiscovered while the threat of additional functionality and versions may still exist.

Image from symantec.com

November 24, 2014 Posted by | Deception, Full Spectrum Dominance, Timeless or most popular | , , , , | 1 Comment

FBI starts anti-jihadist neighborhood informer campaign

RT | October 8, 2014

The FBI counter-terrorism division is calling on to Americans to report on fellow citizens engaged in suspicious activities to help identify possible terrorists, in the first place those connected to terrorist activities overseas.

In a statement published by the FBI on Tuesday, assistant director of the counter-terrorism division Michael Steinbach said the Bureau needs “the public’s assistance in identifying US persons, going to fight overseas with terrorist groups or who are returning home from fighting overseas.”

Any useful information about terror suspects can be sent to the FBI’s website or by calling 1-800-CALL-FBI, the agency announced.

Steinbach also asked the American public to help identifying a man from an IS propaganda video aimed at appealing to a Western audience.

In the 55-minute video, a masked man addressed a group of alleged Islamic State prisoners in Arab and English.

“Dressed in desert camouflage and wearing a shoulder holster, the masked man can be seen standing in front of purported prisoners as they dig their own graves and then later presiding over their executions,” the FBI said. His accent is believed to be North American, he added.

“We’re hoping that someone might recognize this individual and provide us with key pieces of information,” Steinbach said, adding: “No piece of information is too small.”

There have been a number of arrests of terror suspects made on American soil since the 9/11 attacks in 2001. Dozens of American citizens in recent years have joined various terrorist organizations, such as Al-Qaeda in Yemen, Taliban militants in Pakistan or the Al-Shabaab terrorist group in Somalia.

Yet now there is a new global international terrorist organization called the Islamic State (also known as ISIS or ISIL), that has captured large areas of Iraq and Syria, and is fighting with all of its neighbors: the Iraqi army, the Syrian army and Kurdish Peshmerga self-defense forces.

On Saturday, the FBI arrested Mohammed Hamzah Khan, 19, at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport, who was preparing to board a flight to Vienna with the alleged intention of traveling to Syria via Turkey, and of joining the Islamic State terrorist organization.

“We are all witness that the western societies are getting more immoral day by day,” Khan wrote, explaining his motivations in a three-page letter to his parents discovered in his bedroom by FBI agents. “I do not want my kids being exposed to filth like this,” he wrote, the AP reported.

As of August, there were a reported 12,000 militants from 50 nations fighting in the ranks of the Islamic State militia, the US State Department estimated.

October 8, 2014 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance, Islamophobia | , , , , | Leave a comment

US bans Europol from releasing its own documents to European officials

RT | September 9, 2014

The United States has instructed Europol, the European Union’s police agency, to withhold its own annual internal data-protection review from EU lawmakers because the report was written without the US Treasury Department’s permission.

Europol drafted the data-protection report “without prior written authorisation from the information owner (in this case the Treasury Department),” according to the US, violating “security protocols” that could “undermine the relationship of trust needed to share sensitive information between enforcement agencies.”

The report, drafted by Europol’s Joint Supervisory Body, outlines how data concerning EU citizens and residents is transferred to the US, according to the EUobserver. The document is mainly known to monitor implementation of the EU-US Terrorist Finance Tracking Program, or TFTP. Basically, the US Treasury Department is quite territorial about how the TFTP is adhering to European data protection compliance.

EU ombudsman Emily O’Reilly said Europol refused to allow her to see the report based on US demands. O’Reilly then confronted US ambassador to the EU Anthony Gardner in July. Gardner confirmed the order.

On Thursday, O’Reilly said she sent a letter to the European Parliament asking the body “to consider whether it is acceptable that an agreement with a foreign government should prevent the Ombudsman from doing her job.”

“If the US says ‘No disclosure’ then it won’t be disclosed, which is ridiculous because we are EU citizens, we vote, we pay taxes, we have EU laws, and we decide what happens on this continent. Nobody else,” Dutch MEP liberal Sophie In’t Veld told EUobserver. In’t Veld first requested the report in 2012.

In’t Veld said there is no top-secret information in the report that should be viewed as overly sensitive.

“There is no operational information, there is no intelligence, there is nothing in the document. So you really wonder why it is kept a secret,” she said.

The TFTP has received scrutiny in the last year after documents supplied by former US government contractor Edward Snowden showed mass spying by the US National Security Agency on citizens and officials across the world, including in the EU.

The Snowden leaks showed the NSA had gained a “back door” entrance into the SWIFT servers – SWIFT being a financial-record sharing program, which revealed the banking details of millions of European citizens, despite the fact that access to this financial data was limited by the TFTP.

September 9, 2014 Posted by | Corruption, Deception, Full Spectrum Dominance | , , , , , | Leave a comment

‘Enough is enough’: Berlin outraged by alleged US spying

RT | July 6, 2014

The arrest of a German intelligence employee for allegedly spying for the US has caused an uproar among German politicians. The country’s foreign minister has demanded an immediate clarification of the situation from Washington.

“If the reports are true, then we’re not talking about trifles,” Frank-Walter Steinmeier said on a visit to Mongolia, DPA reports. He added that prompt clarification of the details in the case were in the “US’s own interest.”

Earlier, US Ambassador to Germany John B. Emerson was summoned to the German Foreign Office to answer questions concerning the recent arrest of a 31-year-old German foreign intelligence agency (BND) employee, who confessed to having spied for the US.

German tabloid Bild reported that the man had been a double agent for two years, during which time he exchanged bundles of secret documents for €25,000 ($34,100).

The harshest reaction so far has come from German President Joachim Gauck. If the spying allegations are confirmed, “one really has to say, enough is enough,” he told the ZDF broadcaster Saturday.

Angela Merkel on Sunday expressed surprise and disappointment over the possible involvement of US intelligence in the BND espionage scandal, according to German businessmen, accompanying her on her trip to China, Spiegel Online reports. She has not made any comment so far, however.

Last October, Merkel was enraged to learn she was allegedly on the NSA’s tapping list since 2002. The Chancellor called the alleged spying, which became known thanks to Edward Snowden’s leaks, “unacceptable.”

A German parliamentary committee has been holding hearings on the NSA’s spying activities in Germany.

Ironically, the classified materials from the hearings on US spying could get into the hands of US intelligence, as they allegedly were part of the documents stolen by the suspected double agent.

“If the suspicion of espionage is confirmed, that would be an outrageous attack on our parliamentary freedom,” said Thomas Oppermann, the parliamentary leader of the SPD party, a coalition partner of Merkel’s Christian Democrats.

Opposition parties have called for caution in future cooperation with foreign intelligence agencies.

“All cooperation of the German security authorities with friendly services needs to be reviewed,” Green Party leader Katrin Göring-Eckardt told Spiegel Online.

The German government is demanding that the US replace its employees at the Joint Intelligence Staff based in the US Embassy in Berlin, Bild reports.

While most of the criticism is focused on the US, some believe it’s the German leadership’s inability to react properly to the NSA tapping leaks that’s led to the yet another spying scandal. Merkel’s opponents have repeatedly blamed her for too mild a response to the NSA global surveillance revelations.

“That’s a result of Merkel’s transatlantic hypocrisy,” co-chair of the Left Party Katja Kipping said, Der Tagesspiegel reported.

Background:

Germany arrests suspected ‘double agent’ for working for US – report

July 6, 2014 Posted by | Aletho News | , , , , | 1 Comment

Germany gives Verizon the boot over NSA spying scandal

RT | June 26, 2014

Citing concerns over the NSA’s wiretapping of Chancellor Angela Merkel and other top officials’ phones, the German Interior Ministry announced Thursday that it will not renew its contract with Verizon to provide service for government ministries.

As part of an effort to revamp its secure communications networks, the country will instead rely on Germany’s Deutsche Telekom, Reuters reported.

Since the beginning of the NSA scandal, US businesses have expressed concern over the potential blowback of the revelations on their bottom lines. Fearing foreign governments and other firms will no longer trust them to provide secure products and services, they’ve pushed back against the government, demanding more transparency of how the intelligence community operates.

Verizon is one of the first companies that can point to the NSA as a direct cause for a failed business deal. The Interior Ministry released a statement Thursday, saying “the ties revealed between foreign intelligence agencies and firms in the wake of the U.S. National Security Agency affair show that the German government needs a very high level of security for its critical networks.”

Although it was the first company outed by journalist Glenn Greenwald and British newspaper The Guardian as providing the NSA with millions of instances of metadata on a daily basis, Verizon is not the only – or necessarily the first – to do so.

As far back as 2001, the NSA reportedly collected data from AT&T by re-routing information on its network to government computers. Reporting by Wired revealed documents from AT&T technician Mark Klein showing how the feat was accomplished using hardware in a now famous secret room at the company’s San Francisco data center.

Though the US and Germany are allies, documents released over the past year by whistleblower Edward Snowden revealed an American intelligence community with access to a wide variety of German communications. The fallout has been a chilling of relations between the two nations, with the Bundestag (German parliament) especially fierce in its criticisms and demands for answers from the US.

To the consternation of American officials hoping to prosecute Snowden for espionage, the German parliament even invited the leaker to testify about the NSA’s practices in a formal hearing.

Chancellor Merkel, however, has a mixed history with demanding answers from the US.

At first reacting with outrage and comparing the NSA to the Stasi – the communist East German secret police – she also demanded the two nations agree to a “no-spying” pact.

Her attitude changed markedly, however, after meeting with President Barack Obama in May. Stressing the need for unity, Merkel attempted to brush the scandal that has outraged German citizens under the rug. This was not received warmly by opposition parties and many of her constituents, a large number of whom view Snowden as a hero.

Meanwhile, further allegations regarding US surveillance continue to be brought forward. According to a report recently published by the German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung , NDR and WDR, the NSA had been given access to large swaths of telecoms data by the country’s Federal Intelligence Service (BND). For at least three years raw data was fed directly to the US agency out of Frankfurt — the city is a telecoms hub for much of Europe and beyond.

The former Minister of the Interior, Hans-Peter Friedrich, declared last year that if a foreign intel service had been given a tap into the telecoms node in Frankfurt, it would be a violation of Germany’s sovereignty.

June 27, 2014 Posted by | Deception, Economics | , , , , | Comments Off on Germany gives Verizon the boot over NSA spying scandal

Despite promise, US govt moves to classify justification for drone killing of American

RT | May 29, 2014

The Obama administration has launched a sudden effort to keep classified additional parts of a memo outlining the legal justification for the drone killing of an American a mere week after saying it would comply with a federal ruling to release the memo.

In January 2013, a Federal District Court judge decided that the US Justice Department could keep the document classified entirely. That ruling stood until April 2014, when a panel of the US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit in New York ordered the government to publicize key parts of the document that provided the legal rationale for the drone strike that killed Anwar al-Awlaki.

Awlaki was born in New Mexico before moving to Yemen with his family as a child. He returned to the US again to attend college but eventually became a prominent Al-Qaeda propagandist who American intelligence officials have claimed helped plot terrorist attacks. He was killed by a September 2011 drone strike in Yemen that was authorized based on the 41-page memo, dated July 16, 2010.

President Barack Obama praised the strike at the time, telling reporters that Awlaki’s death was a “major blow to Al-Qaeda’s most active operational affiliate.”

The New York Times and American Civil Liberties Union have sought the release of the memo under the Freedom of Information Act.

It has been an issue of contention of late because David Barron, the former Justice Department attorney who wrote the memo, was confirmed by the US Senate by a narrow vote last week as a judge on a US appeals court. A number of senators said they would only vote to confirm Barron if the administration agreed not to appeal the April decision and release a redacted version of the document.

“I rise today to oppose the nomination of anyone who would argue that the president has the power to kill an American citizen not involved in combat and without a trial,” Senator Rand Paul said last week. “It is hard to argue for the trials for traitors and people who would wish to harm our fellow Americans. But a mature freedom defends the defenseless, allows trials for the guilty, and protects even speech of the most despicable nature.”

In a new court filing obtained by The New York Times, however, assistant US attorney Sarah Normand now argues that some of the information the administration pledged to reveal should actually remain secret.

“Some of the information appears to have been ordered disclosed based on inadvertence or mistake, or is subject is distinct exemption claims or other legal protections that have never been judicially considered,” she wrote.

The Justice Department also asked that the court keep the request for parts of the memo to remain secret. That request was denied, with the judge ordering the government to unveil previously secret negotiations between the court and prosecutions deliberating which aspects of the Barron memo would remain in the dark.

“It’s deeply disappointing to see the latest effort by the government to delay even further the release of this memo to the public,” New York Times attorney David McCraw told Politico. “The government reviewed the Second Circuit’s opinion before it was released. The court made redactions in response to that review. The fact that the government then waited five weeks to file a motion – seeking yet another opportunity to review what it has already reviewed – says volumes about the administration’s position on transparency.”

Senator Mark Udall (D-Colorado) was one of the lawmakers who said he only voted to confirm Barron because of the administration’s promise that “redactions to the memo would focus on still-classified information – not the legal reasoning itself,” he told the Times.

“I intend to hold the White House to its word,” Udall added.

May 29, 2014 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Deception, Progressive Hypocrite, Subjugation - Torture | , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Despite promise, US govt moves to classify justification for drone killing of American

Activists demand answers after news of NYPD spying on political groups

RT | May 27, 2014

Following the news that the New York Police Department sent undercover officers to monitor political organizations, multiple activist groups are looking for an audit of the department’s wide-ranging surveillance program.

The complaint has been filed with the NYPD’s new office of the inspector general, which the City Council created against the wishes of former Mayor Michael Bloomberg in order to oversee the police department’s policies – particularly in light of criticism regarding its stop-and-frisk tactics and surveillance of Muslim communities.

According to the New York Times, the groups are calling for a comprehensive investigation into the NYPD’s intelligence division, which has been operating the police force’s surveillance program for years. The move comes as the groups seek more transparency from police following the election of new Mayor Bill de Blasio, whose administration they believe will be supportive.

“We need tangible, concrete proposals of how we can ensure the NYPD does not target an entire group, set of groups, or political activists in general based on their participation in political advocacy,” the complaint reads.

Although most of the parties involved were not named, the Times revealed that one of the organizations behind the complaint is Friends of Brad Will – a group dedicated to increasing public awareness of human rights abuses connected to the “War on Drugs.”

As noted by the newspaper, the group believed it had attracted the attention of the police for years, and investigative reporting by the Associated Press confirmed that “an undercover officer had infiltrated a Friends of Brad Will meeting in New Orleans in 2008 and had sent a report noting plans for future actions by the group.”

In addition to spying on political groups, Reuters reported that police classified those employing civil disobedience as “terrorist organizations” and kept secret files on individual members.

Much of the NYPD’s surveillance efforts could be traced to the aftermath of the September 11 attacks on the World Trade Center, but the groups claim police activity has negatively affected their ability to organize and that their constitutional rights to assemble, petition the government, and practice free speech have been violated.

“These kinds of police programs can’t just be laid at the feet of a post-9/11 world and the argument that security outweighs legal protections,” Friends of Brad Will coordinator Robert Jereski told Reuters.

According to the Times, the complaint is requesting that the inspector general disclose “a full description of the training which officers undergo before being tasked with targeting political activists.”

This isn’t the first time that the NYPD has come under fire for political surveillance, either. In 2004, police were found to be monitoring church groups, anti-war organizations and others in the lead-up to the Republican National Convention. Police defended their behavior, arguing their efforts were aimed at preventing unlawful activity, not silencing dissent.

“There was no political surveillance,” NYPD intelligence unit leader David Cohen testified regarding past tactics. “This was a program designed to determine in advance the likelihood of unlawful activity or acts of violence.”

The most recent complaint also comes a little more than a month after the NYPD disbanded a controversial “Demographics Unit” tasked with detailing everyday life in predominantly Muslim communities in the wake of 9/11. As RT reported previously, no terrorism-related leads were generated despite the resourced dedicated.

“The Demographics Unit created psychological warfare in our community,” said Linda Sarsour of the Arab American Association of New York. “Those documents, they showed where we live. That’s the cafe where I eat. That’s where I pray. That’s where I buy my groceries. They were able to see their entire lives on those maps. And it completely messed with the psyche of the community.”

May 27, 2014 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance | , , , , , , | Comments Off on Activists demand answers after news of NYPD spying on political groups

NSA bugs Merkel aides instead of chancellor

RT | February 24, 2014

In the wake of President Obama’s promise to stop spying on German Chancellor Angela Merkel, the US intelligence has switched its attention to her top government officials, a German newspaper reported.

Washington’s relations with Germany were strained last year after revelations that the US National Security Agency (NSA) was conducting mass surveillance in Germany and even tapped the mobile phone of Chancellor Merkel.

Facing the German outrage, President Barack Obama pledged that the US would stop spying on the leader of the European country, which is among the closest and most powerful allies of America.

After the promise was made, the NSA has stepped up surveillance of senior German officials, German newspaper Bild am Sonntag (BamS) reported on Sunday.

“We have had the order not to miss out on any information now that we are no longer able to monitor the chancellor’s communication directly,” it quoted a top NSA employee in Germany as saying.

BamS said the NSA had 297 employees stationed in Germany and was surveying 320 key individuals, most of them German decision-makers involved in politics and business.

Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere is of particular interest to the US, the report said, because he is a close aide of Merkel, who seeks his advice on many issues and was rumored to be promoting his candidacy for the post of NATO secretary-general.

A spokesman for the German Interior Ministry told the newspaper it would not comment on the “allegations of unnamed individuals.”

Privacy issues are a very sensitive area in Germany, which holds the memory of invasive state surveillance practices by the Nazi government and later by the Communist government in the former East Germany.

Part of the outrage in Germany was caused by the allegation that US intelligence is using its surveillance capabilities not only to provide national security, but also to gain business advantage for American companies over their foreign competitors.

Berlin has been pushing for a ‘no-spying deal’ with the US for months, but so far with little success. Germany is also advocating the creation of a European computer network which would allow communication traffic not to pass through US-based servers and thus avoid the NSA tapping.

February 24, 2014 Posted by | Corruption, Deception, Full Spectrum Dominance | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

EU spending over $400m on secret drone project – Civil rights group

surveillance drone

RT | February 12, 2014

The EU is investing hundreds of millions of taxpayer euros in the development of surveillance drones without political oversight, a report claims. The authors of the document warn the EU is secretly encouraging “the further militarization” of the region.

A report entitled ‘Eurodrones Inc.’ published by rights group Statewatch describes how the EU is channeling taxpayers’ money into surveillance drone projects without their knowledge.

“More than 315 million euro ($430 million) has so far been spent in EU research funding on drone technology or drones geared towards a specific purpose such as policing or border control,” writes the report.

However, the document points out that the research funding is largely “invisible” to the people and parliaments of Europe and lacks the proper political oversight. According to the report this was achieved by a secret budget line that was included in new EU legislation on air traffic control for this year.

The report describes a 20-year roadmap that aims to introduce surveillance drones into EU airspace and highlights that this plan is being shaped by “thinly accountable officials” and representatives of large corporations.

“The EU’s emerging drone policy has come about following years of successful lobbying by defense and security companies and their associates,” said co-author of the report Chris Jones in a statement on Statewatch’s website, adding that these are the same defense and security contractors that have the most to gain.

The drones in question would engage in civilian surveillance activities, such as border patrols and the search for criminals. However, Statewatch is concerned that the convert nature of the program lends itself to the “further militarization” of the European Union.

Calling for “proper democratization” and the opening of public debate on the issue, the report notes the EU turned a blind eye to a European Commission statement in 2012 that declared the development of unmanned surveillance craft should be more transparent.

It recommended the issue be discussed with a number of organizations, including the European Group on Ethics, the LIBE Committee of the European Parliament or the European Agency for Fundamental Rights and Data Protection Supervisor.

“Yet none of these bodies have been involved,” writes the report. “Their absence from policy debates means that many of the conversations the EU should be having about drones – such as what they should and should not be used for, and how to prevent further militarization and the deployment of fully autonomous weaponized drones – have been all but ignored.”

Although the authors of the report do not outwardly criticize research into drones, they do stress the fact that the current program is too “heavily skewed toward the interests of the big defense contractors.”

They argue that this could lead to “unwarranted state surveillance and repression,” as well as enhanced prospects for combat drone research for a global arms race.

“It’s easy to see why people are so excited about drones: there are many positive things they could be used for,” said co-author Ben Hayes. He concluded that given the “clear implications” for civil liberties in the balance, the EU has a “moral and legal obligation” to uphold fundamental rights and the rule of law.

February 12, 2014 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Deception | , , , , , , , | Comments Off on EU spending over $400m on secret drone project – Civil rights group

British ministers answer for GCHQ mass surveillance in European court

RT | January 24, 2014

The court in Strasbourg has ordered British ministers to provide submissions on mass surveillance programs by the UK’s spy agency to find out whether GCHQ’s secret activities went against the European convention on human rights.

Four European civil rights groups filed a case against Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) at the European Court of Human Rights over its surveillance methods in September, after being denied the chance to challenge its practices in an open court in the UK.

The UK’s Big Brother Watch, English PEN and Open Rights Group, as well as the German internet activism group, Constanze Kurz, accused GCHQ of violating the European Convention of Human Rights, insisting that alleged hacking of vast amounts of online data, emails and social media breached Article 8 of the Convention, which guarantees European citizens the right to a private family life. Their case refers to two surveillance programs by the domestic spying agency, Prism and Tempora. The campaigners, who teamed up under the umbrella title of Privacy Not Prism, claimed that GCHQ has “illegally intruded on the privacy of millions of British and European citizens.”

In line with the data revealed by former US National Security Agency, Edward Snowden, about the mass surveillance programs operated by the US and Britain, the group said that “GCHQ has the capacity to collect more than 21 petabytes of data a day – equivalent to sending all the information in all the books in the British Library 192 times every 24 hours.” Meanwhile, under UK law, intelligence agencies are supposed to seek permission from the Secretary of State to read an individual’s text messages.

The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) has ordered the British government to provide their submissions by May, and the campaigners expect the court to make a ruling before the end of the year.

According to the lawyer for the groups, the ECHR has acted “remarkably quickly” communicating the case to the British government.

“It has also acted decisively by requiring the government to explain how the UK’s surveillance practices and oversight mechanisms comply with the right to privacy. This gives hope the ECHR will require reform if the government continues to insist that nothing is wrong,” Daniel Carey told the Guardian.

Both GCHQ and British ministers have insisted that none of their intelligence programs violated privacy laws and human rights.

According to GCHQ, all of its work is “carried out in accordance with a strict legal and policy framework which ensures that our activities are authorized, necessary and proportionate, and that there is rigorous oversight, including from the secretary of state, the interception and intelligence Services commissioners and the parliamentary intelligence and security committee.”

Foreign Secretary William Hague has continuously dismissed allegations that GCHQ breached the law, saying law-biding citizens have no reason whatsover to be alarmed.

“If we could tell the whole world and the whole country how we do this business, I think people would be enormously reassured by it and they would see that the law-abiding citizen has nothing to worry about,” he said in June.

“If we did that, it would defeat the objective – this is secret work, it is secret intelligence, it is secret for a reason, and a reason that is to do with protecting all the people of this country,” Mr Hague explained.

Last week a joint investigation conducted by the UK’s Guardian newspaper and Channel 4 News, and based on the new documents leaked by Snowden, revealed that the NSA created a secret system called Dishfire to collect hundreds of millions of text messages a day. The documents showed that GCHQ had used the NSA database to search the metadata of “untargeted and unwarranted” communications of people in the UK. According to the Guardian report, “The NSA has made extensive use of its vast text message database to extract information on people’s travel plans, contact books, financial transactions and more – including of individuals under no suspicion of illegal activity.”

January 24, 2014 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance | , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on British ministers answer for GCHQ mass surveillance in European court

Canada’s intelligence service asked foreign agencies to spy on Canadians

RT | December 22, 2013

Canada’s intelligence agency deliberately kept the country’s Federal Court “in the dark” to bypass the law in order to outsource its spying on Canadian citizens abroad to foreign security agencies, a federal judge said.

Federal Court Judge, Richard Mosley, has slammed the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) for knowingly misleading him on numerous occasions.

Since 2009, Mosley has issued a large number of warrants to the CSIS, authorizing interception of electronic communications of unidentified Canadians abroad, who were investigated as threats to domestic security.

The spy agency assured the judge that the surveillance was to be carried out from inside Canada and controlled by and the Communication Security Establishment of Canada (CSEC), the country’s foreign signals intelligence service.

But, after the warrants were obtained, Canada’s foreign partners from the Five Eyes intelligence-gathering alliance (US, UK, Australia and New Zealand) were asked to perform the interceptions.

Canada’s Federal Court wasn’t notified of the foreign involvement and never approved it, Mosley wrote in a redacted version of a classified court decision which was made public on Friday.

“It is clear that the exercise of the court’s warrant issuing has been used as protective cover for activities that it has not authorized,” the document stressed. “The failure to disclose that information was the result of a deliberate decision to keep the court in the dark about the scope and extent of the foreign collection efforts that would flow from the court’s issuance of a warrant.”

Under Canada’s current legislation, the Federal Court has no authority to issue warrants that involve surveillance of Canadians by foreign intelligence agencies, he added.

The actions of CSIS and CSEC put the Canadian citizens abroad at risk as they “may be detained or otherwise harmed as a result of the use of the intercepted communications by the foreign agencies,” Mosley wrote.

“Given the unfortunate history of information sharing with foreign agencies over the past decade and the reviews conducted by several royal commissions, there can be no question that the Canadian agencies are aware of those hazards,” the document said. “It appears to me that they are using the warrants as authorization to assume those risks.”

Mosley demanded explanations from the security agencies after an annual report by CSEC commissioner, Robert Decary, this August.

The judge became suspicious after Decary suggested that CSIS should provide the Federal Court with “certain additional evidence about the nature and extent” of the help, it received from his agency.

The results of the Federal Court’s inquiry into the matter were made public on Friday.

By misleading him, the CSIS and CSEC have been in “breach of the duty of candor,” which resulted in misstatements on the public record about the scope of the authority granted to the service,” Mosley wrote.

Mosley, who used to be a former assistant deputy minister in the Justice Department, was intimately involved in the creation of the 2001 Anti-terrorism Act, which the CSIS and CSEC violated.

December 22, 2013 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Corruption, Deception, Full Spectrum Dominance | , , , , , | Comments Off on Canada’s intelligence service asked foreign agencies to spy on Canadians