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Archive for the ‘terrorism’ tag

Homeland Security Ignores Right Wing Antigovernment Movements

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Neon Green Tea
 I remember when DHS came out with a report mildly critical of the anti-government tea bagger types, and remember the Obama administration caving to the GOP idiots rather quickly. Right wing extremists are easily as scary as Muslim extremists, except the right-wingers have their own support group in Congress, their own media infrastructure, including Fox News, Rush Limbaugh and the rest. So from where I sit, I’m more scared of the right-wing militia.

Daryl Johnson once worked in the branch of the Department of Homeland Security that studied the threats posed by antigovernment groups. His former office was shut down more than five years ago.

But when members of an armed group took over a federal wildlife refuge in Oregon last week, Mr. Johnson was not surprised.

In 2009, the former analyst wrote a report that warned of a growing antigovernment movement and the possible recruitment of returning military veterans that could “lead to the potential emergence of terrorist groups or lone-wolf extremists.”

His words drew fierce criticism from Republican lawmakers and conservative news media, labeling the report an unfair assessment of legitimate criticisms of the government. The document was retracted after Janet Napolitano, who was then the Homeland Security secretary, apologized to veterans, and the Extremism and Radicalization Branch was quietly dismantled.

Some lawmakers and former intelligence analysts, such as Mr. Johnson, say the department has allocated significant resources to combating violent extremism among Muslims, but has failed to gather the intelligence needed to fight right-wing extremism in the United States.

 …

“The D.H.S. is scoffing at the mission of doing domestic counterterrorism,” Mr. Johnson said. “The same patterns that led to the growth of the antigovernment groups in the 1990s is being played out today. D.H.S. should be doing more.”

 

(click here to continue reading Homeland Security Looked Past Antigovernment Movement, Ex-Analyst Says – The New York Times.)

Tranquilize your mind
Tranquilize your mind

Wouldn’t want to offend anyone who might vote for a Republican:

The radicalization office was meant to monitor domestic threats, with a major focus on militia groups, particularly because Homeland Security analysts worried that these groups might be able to recruit returning military veterans. The reference to veterans, in addition to claims that the report was targeting Tea Party activists, promoted the backlash that led to the closing of the office.

Former Speaker John A. Boehner, Republican of Ohio, who was then House minority leader, criticized Ms. Napolitano for the department’s failure to use the term “terrorist” to describe groups such as Al Qaeda, while “using the same term to describe American citizens who disagree with the direction Washington Democrats are taking our nation.”

After the criticism, the Homeland Security Department reduced the number of analysts who studied domestic terrorism that was unconnected to foreign threats

Daryl Johnson said that despite these efforts, he thinks the extremism office is still needed. “The Department of Justice looks at these things to make its law enforcement cases,” he said. “The mandate for the D.H.S. is broader. It’s supposed to provide the analysis and intelligence to track these kinds of things before it gets to the point of confrontation.”

(click here to continue reading Homeland Security Looked Past Antigovernment Movement, Ex-Analyst Says – The New York Times.)

Written by Seth Anderson

January 9th, 2016 at 1:42 pm

Posted in government,politics

Tagged with , ,

BP and the Lockerbie Case

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Too bad corporations aren’t treated like people.1 BP would be eligible for extraordinary rendition, and perhaps even a brief, three or four year stay in Guantanamo Bay. Aiding and abetting terrorists, don’t ya know.

Tales of the Towering DeadLONDON — The oil giant BP faced a new furor on Thursday as it confirmed that it had lobbied the British government to conclude a prisoner-transfer agreement that the Libyan government wanted to secure the release of the only person ever convicted for the 1988 Lockerbie airliner bombing over Scotland, which killed 270 people, 189 of them Americans.

The acknowledgment came after American legislators, grappling with the controversy over the company’s disastrous Gulf of Mexico oil spill, called for an investigation into BP’s actions in the case of the freed man, Abdel Basset Ali al-Megrahi.

After an initial demand for an investigation on Wednesday by four senators from New York and New Jersey, further calls for an inquiry by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee were made on Thursday by Senators Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein, both Democrats of California.

Mr. Megrahi, a former Libyan intelligence agent, was released and allowed to return to Libya in August after doctors advised the Scottish government that he was likely to die within three months of prostate cancer. But nearly a year later, he remains alive and free, though kept out of sight, in Libya’s capital, Tripoli.

BP’s statement on Thursday repeated earlier acknowledgments that it had promoted the transfer agreement to protect a $900 million offshore oil-and-gas exploration deal off Libya’s Mediterranean coast. The British justice minister at the time, Jack Straw, admitted after Mr. Megrahi was repatriated and freed that the BP deal was a consideration in the review of his case.

(click to continue reading BP Faces New Scrutiny in Lockerbie Case – NYTimes.com.)

Money trumps all, right? Even in cases of real terrorism, with convicted terrorists.

Financial Icarus

The U.S. winked and nodded at BP’s machinations previously, but after the Gulf of Mexico disaster, and the horrible PR effort of BP, the U.S. wants to distance itself

British officials have noted privately that the last three American administrations have been keen for American oil companies to strike deals with Libya, and that BP has been joined in the contest for potentially lucrative deals by several American oil giants, including Exxon Mobil and Chevron.

Still, the chain of events surrounding Mr. Megrahi fostered deep disillusionment in Washington, where politicians and senior officials criticized what they regarded as Britain’s duplicity in the affair.

Their anger was based, in part, on assurances the United States said it had been given at the time of the Lockerbie trial, held before a Scottish court sitting in the Netherlands, that anybody convicted in the case would serve the full term in Scotland. Mr. Megrahi’s conviction was the only one in the case, after a Libyan accused of being an accomplice, like Mr. Megrahi an agent of Libya’s secret intelligence service, was found not guilty and freed.

Footnotes:
  1. According to the Supreme Court, only in the arena of political advertising []

Written by Seth Anderson

July 16th, 2010 at 7:07 am

Posted in Business,politics

Tagged with ,

Killing of a Citizen Without Trial

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The New York Times is its normal, understated self, discussing brutality over afternoon tea, but this is no laughing matter.

Conceptual Silence

The Obama administration’s decision to authorize the killing by the Central Intelligence Agency of a terrorism suspect who is an American citizen has set off a debate over the legal and political limits of drone missile strikes, a mainstay of the campaign against terrorism.

The notion that the government can, in effect, execute one of its own citizens far from a combat zone, with no judicial process and based on secret intelligence, makes some legal authorities deeply uneasy.

To eavesdrop on the terrorism suspect who was added to the target list, the American-born radical cleric Anwar al-Awlaki, who is hiding in Yemen, intelligence agencies would have to get a court warrant. But designating him for death, as C.I.A. officials did early this year with the National Security Council’s approval, required no judicial review.

“Congress has protected Awlaki’s cellphone calls,” said Vicki Divoll, a former C.I.A. lawyer who now teaches at the United States Naval Academy. “But it has not provided any protections for his life. That makes no sense.”

 

(click to continue reading U.S. Decision to Approve Killing of Cleric Causes Unease – NYTimes.com.)

But this is really about the power of the federal government to kill its own citizen without the messiness of a democratic society, and courts of law, and so on. Let it sink in for a second, the United States now claims the right to murder anyone it pleases, citizen or not, without oversight. How is this different than any totalitarian government or Banana Republic?

Sin will find you out

So who is this guy anyway?

But the disclosure last month by news organizations that Mr. Awlaki, 39, had been added to the C.I.A. kill list shifted the terms of the legal debate in several ways. He is located far from hostilities in Afghanistan and Pakistan, where the perpetrators of 9/11 are believed to be hiding.

He is alleged to be affiliated with a Yemeni branch of Al Qaeda. Intelligence analysts believe that only recently he began to help plot strikes, including the failed attempt to bomb an airliner on Dec. 25.

Most significantly, he is an American, born in New Mexico, arguably protected by the Fifth Amendment’s guarantee not to be “deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law.” In a traditional war, anyone allied with the enemy, regardless of citizenship, is a legitimate target; German-Americans who fought with the Nazis in World War II were given no special treatment.

But Ms. Divoll, the former C.I.A. lawyer, said some judicial process should be required before the government kills an American away from a traditional battlefield. In addition, she offered a practical argument for a review outside the executive branch: avoiding mistakes.

She noted media reports that C.I.A. officers in 2004 seized a German citizen, Khaled el-Masri, and held him in Afghanistan for months before acknowledging that they had grabbed the wrong man. “What if we had put him on the kill list?” she asked.

Another former C.I.A. lawyer, John Radsan, said prior judicial review of additions to the target list might be unconstitutional. “That sort of review goes to the core of presidential power,” he said. But Mr. Radsan, who teaches at the William Mitchell College of Law in St. Paul, said every drone strike should be subject to rigorous internal checks to be “sure beyond a reasonable doubt” that the target is an enemy combatant.

As for the question of whether Mr. Awlaki is a legitimate target, Mr. Radsan said the cleric might not resemble an American fighting in a Nazi uniform. “But if you imagine him making radio speeches for the Germans in World War II, there’s certainly a parallel,” he said.

Written by Seth Anderson

May 14th, 2010 at 10:40 am

The Case Against Kissinger Deepens

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“The Trial of Henry Kissinger” (Christopher Hitchens)

Speaking of war criminals, Rumsfeld’s mentor, Henry Kissinger was probably involved with the terrorist bombing on US soil in 1976.

On September 21, 1976, agents of Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet placed a bomb in a car in Washington, D.C., used by Chile’s former ambassador, Orlando Letelier. When detonated later that day, the bomb killed Letelier and an American citizen accompanying him, Ronni Moffitt. Did the U.S. government play some sort of role in this double homicide, carried out in the nation’s capital? On Friday, as Ken Silverstein notes, the Associated Press’s Pete Yost published the essence of a damning new document, showing that Henry Kissinger canceled a State Department warning that was to have gone to Chile just days before the assassination:

In 1976, the South American nations of Chile, Argentina and Uruguay were engaged in a program of repression code-named Operation Condor that targeted those governments’ political opponents throughout Latin America, Europe and even the United States. Based on information from the CIA, the U.S. State Department became concerned that Condor included plans for political assassination around the world. The State Department drafted a plan to deliver a stern message to the three governments not to engage in such murders.

In the Sept. 16, 1976 cable, the topic of one paragraph is listed as “Operation Condor,” preceded by the words “(KISSINGER, HENRY A.) SUBJECT: ACTIONS TAKEN.” The cable states that “secretary declined to approve message to Montevideo” Uruguay “and has instructed that no further action be taken on this matter.” “The Sept. 16 cable is the missing piece of the historical puzzle on Kissinger’s role in the action, and inaction, of the U.S. government after learning of Condor assassination plots,” Peter Kornbluh, the National Security Archive’s senior analyst on Chile, said Saturday. Kornbluh is the author of “The Pinochet File: A Declassified Dossier on Atrocity and Accountability.”

[Click to continue reading The Case Against Kissinger Deepens—By Scott Horton (Harper’s Magazine)]

From TPM News:

On Sept. 21, 1976, agents of Chilean Gen. Augusto Pinochet planted a car bomb and exploded it on a Washington, D.C., street, killing both former Ambassador Orlando Letelier, and an American colleague, Ronni Karpen Moffitt. Letelier was one of the most outspoken critics of the Pinochet government.

Nearly a month before the blast, the State Department seemed intent on delivering a strong message to the governments engaged in Operation Condor.

An Aug. 23, 1976 State Department cable instructs the U.S. embassies in the capitals of Chile, Argentina and Uruguay to “seek appointment as soon as possible with highest appropriate official, preferably the chief of state.”

The message that was to be conveyed: the U.S. government knows that Operation Condor may “include plans for the assassination of subversives, politicians and prominent figures both within the national borders of certain … countries and abroad.”

“What we are trying to head off is a series of international murders that could do serious damage to the international status and reputation of the countries involved,” Shlaudeman wrote in a memo to Kissinger dated Aug. 30, 1976. That memo is referenced in the newly disclosed Sept. 16, 1976 cable containing Kissinger’s name.

[Click to continue reading Cable ties Kissinger to Chile controversy | TPM News Pages]

Written by Seth Anderson

April 12th, 2010 at 4:47 pm

FBI Bumbles Anthrax case to a close

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Incompetence is what this sounds like to me. Dick Cheney probably ordered the anthrax attacks.

Recovery.gov

More than eight years after anthrax-laced letters killed five people and terrorized the country, the F.B.I. on Friday closed its investigation, adding eerie new details to its case that the 2001 attacks were carried out by Bruce E. Ivins, an Army biodefense expert who killed himself in 2008.

[Click to continue reading F.B.I. Concludes Investigation in Fatal Anthrax Mailings – NYTimes.com]

Didn’t solve anything, didn’t discover the truth. The eerie new details probably wouldn’t stand up in open court, and Ivins is dead anyway, and cannot defend himself.

Written by Seth Anderson

March 10th, 2010 at 10:38 pm

Overloaded Intelligence Gathering Leads to Poor Intelligence

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Too much data, indiscriminately accumulated, is just as much a problem as too little intelligence data, if not worse. Remember when we were America, land of the Free?

Do All Photographers Need a Warrant?

It has been demonstrated that when officials must establish before a court that they have reason to intercept communications — that is, that they know what they are doing — we get better intelligence than through indiscriminate collection and fishing expeditions.
[Rush Holt]

The failure of the U.S. Government to detect the fairly glaring Northwest Airlines Christmas plot — despite years and years of constant expansions of Surveillance State powers — illustrates this dynamic perfectly. As President Obama said [Janurary 5th, 2010], the Government — just as was true for 9/11 — had gathered more than enough information to have detected this plot, or at least to have kept Abdulmutallab off airplanes and out of the country. Yet our intelligence agencies — just as was true for 9/11 — failed to understand what they had in their possession. Why is that?  Because they had too much to process, including too much data wholly unrelated to Terrorism. In other words, our panic-driven need to vest the Government with more and more surveillance power every time we get scared again by Terrorists — in the name of keeping us safe — has exactly the opposite effect. Numerous pieces of evidence prove that.

Today in The Washington Post, that paper’s CIA spokesman, David Ignatius, explains that Abdulmutallab never made it onto a no-fly list because there are simply too many reports of suspicious individuals being submitted on a daily basis, which causes the system to be “clogged” — overloaded — with information having nothing to do with Terrorism. As a result, actually relevant information ends up obscured or ignored.  Identically, Newsweek’s Mike Isikoff and Mark Hosenball report that U.S. intelligence agencies intercept, gather and store so many emails, recorded telephone calls, and other communications that it’s simply impossible to sort through or understand what they have, quite possibly causing them to have missed crucial evidence in their possession about both the Fort Hood and Abdulmutallab plots:

This deluge of Internet traffic — involving e-mailers whose true identity often is not apparent — is one indication of the volume of raw intelligence U.S. spy agencies have had to sort through as they have tried to assess Awlaki’s influence in the West and elsewhere, said the officials, who asked for anonymity when discussing sensitive information. The large volume of messages also may help to explain how agencies can become so overwhelmed with data that sometimes it is difficult, if not impossible, to connect potentially important dots.

Newsweek adds that intelligence agencies likely possessed emails between accused Fort Hood shooter Nidal Hasan and Yemeni-American cleric Anwar al-Awlaki — as well as recorded telephone calls between al-Awlaki and Abdulmutallab — but simply failed to analyze or understand what they had intercepted.

[Click to continue reading Glenn Greenwald – Backfiring of the Surveillance State : Salon.com]

Pretty pathetic. And the solution is simple: start being much more targeted with information collection so there is less noise and more actionable signal. Allowing 8 year old kids like Mike Hicks to remain on the No-Fly List for seven years is just idiotic

Mikey, who would rather talk about BMX bikes and his athletic trophies than airport security, remains perplexed about the “list” and the hurdles he must clear. “Why do they think a kid is a terrorist?” Mikey asked his mother at one point during the interview.

Mrs. Hicks said the family was amused by the mistake at first. But that amusement quickly turned to annoyance and anger. It should not take seven years to correct the problem, Mrs. Hicks said. She applied for redress in December when she first heard about the Department of Homeland Security’s program.

“I understand the need for security,” she added. “But this is ridiculous. It’s quite clear that he is 8 years old, and while he may have terroristic tendencies at home, he does not have those on a plane.”

[Click to continue reading Mikey Hicks, 8, Can’t Get Off U.S. Terror Watch List – NYTimes.com]

and he’s not alone

For every person on the lists, hundreds of others may get caught up simply because they share the same name; a quick scan through a national phone directory unearthed 1,600 Michael Hickses. Over the past three years, 81,793 frustrated travelers have formally asked that they be struck from the watch list through the Department of Homeland Security; more than 25,000 of their cases are still pending. Others have taken more drastic measures. Mario Labbé, a frequent-flying Canadian record-company executive, started having problems at airports shortly after Sept. 11, 2001, with lengthy delays at checkpoints and mysterious questions about Japan. By 2005, he stopped flying to the United States from Canada, instead meeting American clients in France. Then a forced rerouting to Miami in 2008 led to six hours of questions.

“What’s the name of your mother? Your father? When were you last in Japan?” Mr. Labbé recalled being asked. “Always the same questions in different order. And sometimes, it’s quite aggressive, not funny at all.” Fed up, in the summer of 2008, he changed his name to François Mario Labbé. The problem vanished.

Boy, that makes me feel so much safer – just change your name, and voila, no problems!

Continuous Video Recording in Progress

The mind-set doesn’t appear to be ending soon, if Massachusetts Police policy is any indication:

A report from the New England Center For Investigative Reporting has chronicled a pattern of what civil liberties advocates say is a misuse of police powers: Massachusetts police are using the state’s stringent surveillance laws to arrest and charge people who record police activities in public.

It’s a situation that is pitting new technologies against police powers. With recording equipment now embedded into cellphones and other common technologies, recording police activities has never been easier, and has resulted in numerous cases of police misconduct being brought to light. And that, rights advocates argue, is precisely what the police are trying to prevent.

In October, 2007, Boston lawyer Simon Glick witnessed what he said was excessive use of police force during the arrest of a juvenile. When he pulled out his cellphone to record the incident, he was arrested and charged with “illegal electronic surveillance.”

In December, 2008, Jon Surmacz, a webmaster at Boston University, was attending a party that was brok

[Click to continue reading Massachusetts cops can arrest you for making them famous | Raw Story]

Even the Chicago Transit Authority is getting into the action

The Chicago Transit Authority is so “committed to safety,” that it is urging commuters to report people committing “excessive photography/filming.”

The sign posted inside the train stations places photographers on the same level as, say, a non-CTA employee walking the tracks or an unattended package or “noxious smells or smoke.”

In other words, it accuses photographers of being possible terrorists or just suicidal maniacs.

The problem is that these signs not only encourage commuters to dial 911 when seeing someone taking photos, which will tie up real emergencies, it contradicts the CTA’s own policy on photography and videography within train stations.

[Click to continue reading Chicago Transit Authority urges commuters to report photographers | Photography is Not a Crime]

More data, more clutter in the system for intelligence to sort out, or the already overloaded judicial system, and for what reason? We need a change in direction, and soon.

Written by Seth Anderson

January 19th, 2010 at 9:34 am

Reading Around on December 29th

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Some additional reading December 29th from 17:09 to 23:39:


“The Philip K. Dick Collection” (Philip K. Dick)

  • Gregg Rickman- The Nature of Dick’s Fantasies – –None of Dick’s 1974 letters to the FBI appear in any of the FBI’s files on him (in Los Angeles, San Francisco, or Washington). He received a polite brush-off response to his first letter, of March 20; it is likely that the FBI ignored his later letters entirely.–There is, moreover, good reason to doubt that many of these letters were ever sent. According to his wife at the time, Tessa Dick, “Phil told me he’d only sent the first three or four letters, and he stopped mailing them, because the FBI had lost interest (or perhaps never had any interest) in the case…” (letter to author, 6/6/91). Asked why, if this were so, so many letters existed not in originals but in carbons, she replied that Dick’s procedure was to “write a letter, address and stamp an envelope, go out in the back alley, and drop the letter in the trash bin.” Dick’s reasoning was that “The authorities will receive the letter if, and only if, they are spying on him”
  • Total Dick-Head: Merry Christmas To Me! – As a scholar I think these letters are a bit dangerous (as is any piece of evidence however small and seemingly innocuous in the Case of Philip K Dick); as they are the ‘Selected Letters’ I wonder who selected them (that’s probably in an introduction I skipped), what was left out, and why. I have lots of questions, like why does Phil refer to Tessa in one letter as Leslie? Who exactly is ‘Kathy’? And why in the world did PKD write that letter to the FBI about Disch’s Camp Concentration?
  • Transcript: Climbing Mount Criterion – Roger Ebert’s Journal – I’m extremely lazy in my film reviews, but Matthew Dessem is not. His blog is in-depth reviews of every Criterion Collection film released. Roger Ebert interviewed him: Here is the complete transcript of my Q&A with Matthew Dessum, in which he goes into much greater detail about his adventure that I had room for in the paper. The photo is by Yasmin Damshenas
  • Is aviation security mostly for show? – CNN.com – “Security theater” refers to security measures that make people feel more secure without doing anything to actually improve their security. An example: the photo ID checks that have sprung up in office buildings. No one has ever explained why verifying that someone has a photo ID provides any actual security, but it looks like security to have a uniformed guard-for-hire looking at ID cards. Airport-security examples include the National Guard troops stationed at U.S. airports in the months after 9/11 — their guns had no bullets. The U.S. color-coded system of threat levels, the pervasive harassment of photographers, and the metal detectors that are increasingly common in hotels and office buildings since the Mumbai terrorist attacks, are additional examples.

Written by swanksalot

December 30th, 2009 at 12:00 am

Judge Rejects a Key Tactic in Terror Cases

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Welcome news, some small steps back towards democracy and away from the Bush years and terrorism theatre.

In a ruling that threw into doubt one of the government’s main counterterrorism tools, a federal judge said the Treasury Department acted unconstitutionally three years ago when it froze the assets of an Ohio charity suspected of aiding terrorists.

The ruling challenged a key tactic used by the government under an emergency executive order signed by President George W. Bush two weeks after the Sept. 11 attacks. If upheld, the ruling could severely undercut the government’s authority and ultimately require it to get a warrant and submit to court review in moving against charities.

In the last eight years, the Treasury Department has used its broadened authority to freeze tens of millions of dollars in assets held by eight charities within the United States and hundreds of other groups and individuals outside this country, all without warrants and court approval.

[Click to continue reading Judge Rejects a Key Tactic in Terror Cases – NYTimes.com]

Meteors Hanging in the Gloom

The government should be required to follow all the rules and laws of due process, just like everyone else. Otherwise, we just live in a Constitutional Monarchy. The Fourth Amendment has been around for a while for good reason – remember the British?

A brief refresher of the text and meaning of the Fourth Amendment:

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

In Colonial America, legislation was explicitly written to enforce English revenue gathering policies on customs Until 1750, all handbooks for justices of the peace, the issuers of warrants, contained or described only general warrants. William Cuddihy, Ph.D. in his dissertation entitled The Fourth Amendment: Origins and Original Meaning, claims there existed a “colonial epidemic of general searches.” According to him, until the 1760s, a “man’s house was even less of a legal castle in America than in England” as the authorities possessed almost unlimited power and little oversight.

In 1756, the colony of Massachusetts enacted legislation that barred the use of general warrants. This represented the first law in American history curtailing the use of seizure power. Its creation largely stemmed from the great public outcry over the Excise Act of 1754, which gave tax collectors unlimited powers to interrogate colonists concerning their use of goods subject to customs and permitted the use of a general warrant known as a writ of assistance, allowing them to search the homes of colonists and seize “prohibited and uncustomed” goods.

A crisis erupted over the writs of assistance on December 27, 1760 when the news of King George II’s October 23 death arrived in Boston. All writs automatically expired six months after the death of the King and would have had to be re-issued under the name of the new King, George III, in order to remain valid.

In mid-January 1761, a group of over 50 merchants represented by James Otis, petitioned the court to have hearings on the issue. During the five hour hearing on February 23, 1761, Otis vehemently denounced English colonial policies, including their sanction of general warrants and writs of assistance. However, the court ruled against Otis. Because of the name he had made for himself in attacking the writs, he was elected to the Massachusetts General Assembly and helped pass legislation requiring that special writs of assistance be “granted by any judge or justice of the peace upon information under oath by any officer of the customs” and barring all other writs. The governor overturned the legislation, finding it contrary to British law and parliamentary sovereignty. John Adams, who was present in the courtroom when Otis spoke, viewed these events “as the spark in which originated the American Revolution.” Seeing the danger general warrants presented, the Virginia Declaration of Rights explicitly forbade the use of general warrants. This prohibition became precedent for the Fourth Amendment:

That general warrants, whereby any officer or messenger may be commanded to search suspected places without evidence of a fact committed, or to seize any person or persons not named, or whose offense is not particularly described and supported by evidence, are grievous and oppressive and ought not to be granted

[Click to continue reading Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia]

Eric Lichtblau adds:

[Judge Thomas Carr ]rejected the Justice Department’s contention that the Fourth Amendment, which protects against unreasonable searches and seizures, did not apply to groups suspected of foreign terrorist ties because of the president’s separate national security authority.

Citing British seizures and searches without warrants in colonial America, Judge Carr called the Fourth Amendment “a bulwark against the abuses and excesses of unchecked government authority.”

He said that “nothing in our Fourth Amendment jurisprudence or constitutional tradition supports complete elimination” of the need for the government to establish probable cause, allow judicial review and use court warrants in such cases.

Judge Carr also said that the limited information that the Treasury Department provided to the charity about why its assets were frozen came only after “long, unexplained and inexplicable delay” and repeated requests from the group’s lawyers.

Written by Seth Anderson

August 20th, 2009 at 7:44 am

FBI and their new Mission

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I mean, what is the FBI going to say? “Well, there are a lot of stupid people accusing others of being terrorists, and we don’t have the mental energy to examine all of the leads.” Of course not. Still, perhaps they’ll stop harassing photographers one of these days:

The bureau now ranks fighting terrorism as its No. 1 priority. It has doubled the number of agents assigned to counterterrorism duties to roughly 5,000 people, and has created new squads across the country that focus more on deterring and disrupting terrorism than on solving crimes.

But the manpower costs of this focus are steep, and the benefits not always clear. Of the 5,500 leads that the squad has pursued since it was formed five years ago, only 5 percent have been found credible enough to be sent to permanent F.B.I. squads for longer-term investigations, said Supervisory Special Agent Kristen von KleinSmid, head of the squad. Only a handful of those cases have resulted in criminal prosecutions or other law enforcement action, and none have foiled a specific terrorist plot, the authorities acknowledge.

Security guards have questioned people taking pictures of oil refineries in the Los Angeles area. Many turned out to be college students fulfilling assignment for class projects.

[Click to continue reading F.B.I. Agents’ Role Is Transformed by Terror Fight – NYTimes.com]

Photography is not a crime, remember?

Written by Seth Anderson

August 20th, 2009 at 6:56 am

Sibel Edmonds claims bin Laden worked with US right up to 9-11

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No wonder Sibel Edmonds got fired, and silenced, the Bush-ites would have been very embarrassed if this allegation had been made in the election of 2004, for instance.

Former FBI translator Sibel Edmonds dropped a bombshell on the Mike Malloy radio show, guest-hosted by Brad Friedman (audio, partial transcript).

In the interview, Sibel says that the US maintained ‘intimate relations’ with Bin Laden, and the Taliban, “all the way until that day of September 11.”

These ‘intimate relations’ included using Bin Laden for ‘operations’ in Central Asia, including Xinjiang, China. These ‘operations’ involved using al Qaeda and the Taliban in the same manner “as we did during the Afghan and Soviet conflict,” that is, fighting ‘enemies’ via proxies.

The bombshell here is obviously that certain people in the US were using Bin Laden up to September 11, 2001.

It is important to understand why: the US outsourced terror operations to al Qaeda and the Taliban for many years, promoting the Islamization of Central Asia in an attempt to personally profit off military sales as well as oil and gas concessions.

[Click to continue reading Daily Kos: State of the Nation]

Despite all sorts of pressure from the federal government, Ms. Edmonds refuses to fade away, she continues to try to get her understanding of the truth out.

Such as:

Last year, Sibel came up with a brilliant idea to expose some of the criminal activity that she is forbidden to speak about: she published eighteen photos, titled “Sibel Edmonds’ State Secrets Privilege Gallery,” of people involved the operations that she has been trying to expose. One of those people is Anwar Yusuf Turani, the so-called ‘President-in-exile’ of East Turkistan (Xinjiang). This so-called ‘government-in-exile’ was ‘established‘ on Capitol Hill in September, 2004, drawing a sharp rebuke from China.

Also featured in Sibel’s Rogues Gallery was ‘former’ spook Graham Fuller, who was instrumental in the establishment of Turani’s ‘government-in-exile’ of East Turkistan. Fuller has written extensively on Xinjiang, and his “Xinjiang Project” for Rand Corp is apparentlythe blueprint for Turani’s government-in-exile. Sibel has openly stated her contempt for Mr. Fuller.

from the Brad Friedman interview:

Sibel Edmonds: (interrupts) I have to jump in here and say that I have information about things that our government has lied to us about. I know. For example, to say that since the fall of the Soviet Union we ceased all of our intimate relationship with Bin Laden and the Taliban – those things can be proven as lies, very easily, based on the information they classified in my case, because we did carry very intimate relationship with these people, and it involves Central Asia, all the way up to September 11.

I know you are going to say ‘Oh my God, we went there and bombed the medical factory in the 1990s during Clinton, we declared him Most Wanted’ and what I’m telling you is, with those groups, we had operations in Central Asia, and that relationship – using them as we did during the Afghan and Soviet conflict – we used them all the way until September 11.

[Click to continue reading Let Sibel Edmonds Speak: Sibel Edmonds on Mike Malloy]

Written by Seth Anderson

August 1st, 2009 at 9:07 am

John Yoo Says It Is Ok

with one comment

If I ever had plans to do anything illegal, like break a law that has been on the books since at least 18781, I’ll just get John Yoo to write a memo saying it is ok. Law, hunh, what is good for, absolutely nothing. I’ll say it again.2

Torture, Posse Comitatus, does anything else have your bloody fingerprints on it, Mr. Yoo?

The Fourth Amendment bans “unreasonable” searches and seizures without probable cause. And the Posse Comitatus Act of 1878 generally prohibits the military from acting in a law enforcement capacity.

In the discussions, Mr. Cheney and others cited an Oct. 23, 2001, memorandum from the Justice Department that, using a broad interpretation of presidential authority, argued that the domestic use of the military against Al Qaeda would be legal because it served a national security, rather than a law enforcement, purpose.

“The president has ample constitutional and statutory authority to deploy the military against international or foreign terrorists operating within the United States,” the memorandum said.

The memorandum — written by the lawyers John C. Yoo and Robert J. Delahunty — was directed to Alberto R. Gonzales, then the White House counsel, who had asked the department about a president’s authority to use the military to combat terrorist activities in the United States.

[Click to continue reading Bush Weighed Using Military in Arrests – NYTimes.com]

and then cite the memo right before doing the illegal act:

Those who advocated using the military to arrest the Lackawanna group had legal ammunition: the memorandum by Mr. Yoo and Mr. Delahunty.

The lawyers, in the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel, wrote that the Constitution, the courts and Congress had recognized a president’s authority “to take military actions, domestic as well as foreign, if he determines such actions to be necessary to respond to the terrorist attacks upon the United States on Sept. 11, 2001, and before.”

The document added that the neither the Posse Comitatus Act nor the Fourth Amendment tied a president’s hands.

I certainly do not understand why Berkley employs this Yoo character, he is such a stain on the legal profession.

The Wikipedia entry for Posse Comitatus Act:

The Posse Comitatus Act is a United States federal law (18 U.S.C. § 1385) passed on June 18, 1878, after the end of Reconstruction, with the intention (in concert with the Insurrection Act of 1807) of substantially limiting the powers of the federal government to use the military for law enforcement. The Act prohibits most members of the federal uniformed services (today the Army, Air Force, and State National Guard forces when such are called into federal service) from exercising nominally state law enforcement, police, or peace officer powers that maintain “law and order” on non-federal property (states and their counties and municipal divisions) within the United States.
The statute generally prohibits federal military personnel and units of the National Guard under federal authority from acting in a law enforcement capacity within the United States, except where expressly authorized by the Constitution or Congress. The Coast Guard is exempt from the Act during peacetime.

[Click to continue reading Posse Comitatus Act – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia]

Seems clear enough. Except for John Yoo.

John Yoo and the so-called Torture memos, if you had forgotten the details:

You have to give John Yoo credit for chutzpah. The disgraced author of the so-called torture memo was back in the news last week, when the Obama administration released seven more secret opinions, all but one written in whole or in part by Yoo and fellow Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) lawyer Jay Bybee, arguing that the Bush administration had the right to override the Constitution as long as it claimed to be fighting a “war on terror.” Professor Yoo, who I am embarrassed to say holds a tenured position at the law school of my alma mater, the University of California at Berkeley, was already known as the official who provided a legal fig leaf behind which the Bush administration tortured inmates at Guantánamo and Abu Ghraib. His legal misdeeds are widely known, but now they have been exposed chapter and verse. Among the new memos is one written in 2001 [8.3 Meg PDF], in which Yoo and co-author Robert J. Delahunty advised the U.S. that the Posse Comitatus Act, which forbids the Army to be used for law enforcement, and the Fourth Amendment, which prohibits unreasonable searches and seizures, do not apply to domestic military operations undertaken during a “war on terror.”

In other words, bye-bye, Bill of Rights. This is a prescription for a police state, where not just the police but the Army can kick your door down without a warrant or probable cause, as long as the president says he’s fighting “terror.” If Barack Obama had solicited such an opinion from an obliging Justice Department lawyer because he wanted to sic the U.S. Army on a group of domestic terrorists, the right would be screaming about jackbooted federal thugs descending from black helicopters to haul off American citizens. Strangely, no conservatives have taken to the streets to warn us of the Big Government danger posed by this radical doctrine.

[Click to continue reading John Yoo Torture Memo | Salon ]

Footnotes:
  1. and arguably one of the reasons the United States broke away from Britain way back in 1776 []
  2. sung in one’s best Edwin Starr voice []

Written by Seth Anderson

July 25th, 2009 at 8:21 am

Reading Around on June 7th through June 10th

without comments

A few interesting links collected June 7th through June 10th:

  • Don’t mess with Kris – "“One of country music’s brightest stars,” by the way, was Toby Keith — the Jonah Goldberg of country music. It was 2003, remember: Dickhead Nation was in the ascendant and Keith was whoopin’ along with the rest of the rumpus room warriors all lathered up to start bombing brown-skinned people in Iraq. He’d had a hit with “Courtesy of the Red, White and Blue,” so Keith felt entitled to play pompous ass in the presence of Paul Simon and Ray Charles, who had recorded more classics than Toby Keith could ever hope to make, years before Toby Keith was even out of grade school.

    That little encounter between Keith and Kristofferson is one of the most entertaining things I’ve read since “Frank Sinatra Has a Cold,” in which Gay Talese described young writer Harlan Ellison facing down Ol’ Blue Mouth during an encounter at a night club."

  • Firedoglake » Breaking: Lieberman-Graham Dropped From Supplemental – "According to sources on the Hill, the Lieberman-Graham detainee photo suppression amendment is out of the conference report of the supplemental.

    For everyone who made phone calls — pat yourself on the back.

    Let us all now sit back and enjoy the spectacle of Joe Lieberman throwing a tantrum. "

  • Hullabaloo – Goldilocks Journalists – But the media critiques of the left and the right are substantially different. The right thinks the media is filled with liberal operatives pushing the Democratic agenda. The left thinks the media is filled with insular, shallow and out of touch stenographers. If it makes Milbank and his friends think the anger at the media stems from the last election it's just more proof that the left's critique is correct.

Written by swanksalot

June 10th, 2009 at 4:00 pm

Reading Around on May 22nd through May 26th

without comments

A few interesting links collected May 22nd through May 26th:

  • Concurring Opinions » Some Thoughts on the Supreme Court’s Reversal Rate – "Overall, this past term the Supreme Court reversed 75.3 percent of the cases they considered on their merits. The pattern holds true for the 2004 and 2005 terms as well, when the Supremes had overall reversal rates of 76.8 percent and 75.6 percent, respectively.

    It is interesting how remarkably constant the reversal percentage is — 75%. It suggests that the Supreme Court primarily takes cases it wants to reverse, with only a few exceptions. Assuming the Court takes about 70 cases a term, it will only affirm in about 17 of them. So perhaps the new game for commentators should be listing those 17 lucky cases that will get affirmed."

  • BW Online | April 26, 2004 | Trader Joe's: The Trendy American Cousin – "Welcome to Trader Joe's. About all this 210-store U.S. chain shares with Germany's Aldi Group — besides being owned by a trust created by Aldi co-founder Theo Albrecht — is its rigorous control over costs. But where Aldi carries such basics as toilet paper and canned peas, TJ's, as it's known, stocks eclectic and upscale foodstuffs for the wine-and-cheese set at down-to-earth prices."
  • Mad Dog Blog – Mark Madsen actually makes a lot of sense:
    "If Congress and the government allocate and allow so much time to pursue professional athletes and their statements about their own, or others’ possible steroid use, perhaps we should examine statements of elected officials and the CIA when it relates to interrogation, torture and national security. Surely we must pursue these issues with the same energy and effort with which we pursue the statements of professional athletes on personal steroid use."

Written by swanksalot

May 26th, 2009 at 6:01 pm

Reading Around on March 23rd through March 24th

without comments

A few interesting links collected March 23rd through March 24th:

  • Rick Steves | Salon Lifelot of my outlook and writing have been sharpened by enjoying a little recreational marijuana. If you arrested everybody who smoked marijuana in the United States tomorrow, this country would be a much less interesting place to call home.

    The fact is, the marijuana law in the U.S. is a big lie. It’s racist and classist. White rich people can smoke marijuana with impunity and poor black people get a record, can’t get education, can’t get a loan, and all of sudden go into a life of desperation and become hardened criminals. Why? Because we’ve got a racist law based on lies about marijuana.

    There’s 80,000 people in jail today for marijuana. We arrested 800,000 people in the last 12 months on marijuana charges

  • [image via]

  • Rick Steves | Salon LifeI don’t say we’re an empire. I say the world sees us as one. I say there’s never been an empire that didn’t have disgruntled people on its fringes looking for reasons to fight. We think, “Don’t they have any decency? Why don’t they just line up in formation so we can carpet bomb them?” But they’re smart enough to know that’s a quick prescription to being silenced in a hurry.

    We shot from the bushes at the redcoats when we were fighting our war against an empire. Now they shoot from the bushes at us. It shouldn’t surprise us. I’m not saying it’s nice. But I try to remind Americans that Nathan Hales and Patrick Henrys and Ethan Allens are a dime a dozen on this planet. Ours were great. But there’s lots of people who wish they had more than one life to give for their country. We diminish them by saying, “Oh, they’re terrorists and life is cheap for them.” They’re passionate for their way of life. And they will give their life for what is important to their families.

  • Chicago Reader Blogs: News BitesCassanos and I talked by phone, and I sent her a link from Gawker.com mourning that a recent 82-page issue of the New Yorker had just under ten pages of ads. But she noticed it was a January issue — the slowest part of the year — and she said that among Conde Nast magazines the New Yorker is in the middle in terms of ad losses. And on the other hand, circulation is up 20 percent since 2001 and the renewal rate is 85 percent and the magazine just led all others with ten nominations for National Magazine Awards.

    Cassanos made me feel good when she said I was the first reporter who’d contacted her to find out if Charles’s rumor was true

Written by swanksalot

March 24th, 2009 at 1:00 pm

Reading Around on January 26th

without comments

Some additional reading January 26th from 10:22 to 22:31:

  • The Washington Monthly – This Explains a Lot– “On the one hand, the Bush administration released some detainees who apparently turned out to be pretty dangerous. On the other, the Bush administration refused to release other detainees who weren’t dangerous at all, and were actually U.S. allies.How could this happen? In light of these revelations about the lack of files, it starts to make a lot more sense.But to put this in an even larger context, consider just how big a mess Bush has left for Obama here. The previous administration a) tortured detainees, making it harder to prosecute dangerous terrorists; b) released bad guys while detaining good guys; and c) neglected to keep comprehensive files on possible terrorists who’ve been in U.S. custody for several years. As if the fiasco at Gitmo weren’t hard enough to clean up.”
  • The three primary roles your local website should play | yelvington.com– “Journalists tend to gravitate to only one of these roles: the town crier, the quaint colonial-era village character who walks around ringing a bell telling you what’s happening. It comes naturally. This is why 24×7 coverage teams and the “continuous news desk” concept take root so quickly when newsrooms suddenly awaken to the urgency of taking the Internet seriously.
  • But the other roles aren’t secondary. They’re coequal, and they’re grossly neglected by most local news websites.Moreover, they consistently surface in qualitative research as poorly met needs. The language people use is a little different, but recognizable: “Help me connect with people.” “Help me get answers I need.” “Help me find people like me.” “Help me pursue my interests.”
  • drop.io: simple private file sharing, free internet file sharing – Hmm, seems useful
    “Use drop.io to create drops and privately share your files by web, email, phone, fax, and more. Drops are protected from search engines so you can conveniently share what you want, how you want, with whom you want.”
  • Undercover Black Man: Bad news for David Milch fans– “Now I hear that HBO has pulled the plug on Milch’s latest project, a New York City cop drama set in the 1970s called “Last of the Ninth.”They filmed a pilot episode… with British actor Ray Winstone (pictured) as one of the leads. Evidently HBO was not digging it.That’s a show I wanted to see. Since the ’90s, Milch has talked about creating a series based on Bill Clark’s early career in the NYPD.

    Clark spent two years undercover as a white radical. He hung out with Black Panthers (including Tupac’s mama).”

  • Food Is A Weapon
  • Mirror, Mirror on the Wall – Errol Morris Blog – NYTimes.com– Awesome! “Photographs make this somewhat more difficult. They are a partial record of who we were and how we imagined ourselves. …The traveling pool of press photographers that follows presidents includes representatives from three wire services — AP (The Associated Press), AFP (Agence France-Presse) and Thomson Reuters. During the last week of the Bush administration, I asked the head photo editors of these news services — Vincent Amalvy (AFP), Santiago Lyon (AP) and Jim Bourg (Reuters) — to pick the photographs of the president that they believe captured the character of the man and of his administration. …. It is interesting that these pictures are different. They may be of the same scene, but they have different content. They speak in a different way.(The photos are reproduced here with their original captions, unedited.)”
  • Tijuana Bibles– “If you are offended by depictions of sodomy, bestiality, “alternative sexual practices,” racial and ethnic stereotypes, or just about anything else, you should leave now.Tijuana Bibles were pornographic tracts popular in America before the advent of mass-market full-color glossy wank-fodder such as Playboy. A typical bible consisted of eight stapled comic-strip frames portraying characters and celebrities (eg. John Dillinger, Popeye, Disney characters) in wildly sodomistic situations. Many could be considered grossly racist, sexist, and otherwise wholly “politically incorrect.” Browser discretion is advised.”

Written by swanksalot

January 27th, 2009 at 5:00 am