By Ed Pilkington, Guardian UK: Investigator: Bradley Manning Leak Did Not Result in Deaths!

The US counter-intelligence official who led the Pentagon's review into the fallout from the Wiki Leaks disclosures of state secrets told the Bradley Manning sentencing hearing on Wednesday that no instances were found of any individual killed by enemy forces as a result of having been named in the releases. Brigadier general Robert Carr, a senior counter-intelligence officer who headed the Information Review Task Force that investigated the impact of Wiki Leaks disclosures on behalf of the Defense Department, told a court at Fort Meade, Maryland, that they had uncovered no specific examples of anyone who had lost his or her life in reprisals that followed the publication of the disclosures on the internet. "I don't have a specific example," he said. It has been one of the main criticisms of the Wiki-Leaks publications that they put lives at risk, particularly in Iran and Afghanistan. The admission by the Pentagon's chief investigator into the fallout from Wiki-Leaks that no such casualties were identified marks a significant undermining of such arguments. Carr, who retired from active duty in 2011 and now works for the private defence firm Northrop Grumman, was the first witness called by the US government in the sentencing phase of the prosecution of the army private. Manning was on Tuesday found guilty of 20 counts offences relating to his transmission of US state secrets to Wiki-Leaks, carrying a maximum sentence of 136 years in military jail. Carr initially told the judge presiding over the case, Colonel Denise Lind, that there had been an individual killed in Afghanistan as a result of the publication by Wiki-Leaks of the Afghan war logs that recorded military activities on the ground. "As a result of the Afghan logs I know of one individual killed an Afghan national who had a relationship with the US government and the Taliban came out and said publicly that they had killed him as a result of him being associated with information in these logs," Carr said. But under defence cross-examination Carr conceded that the victim's name had not be included in the war logs made public by Wiki-Leaks. Asked by Lind whether the individual who was killed was tied to the disclosures, Carr replied: "The Taliban killed him and tied him to the disclosures. We went back and looked for the name in the disclosures. The name of the individual was not in the disclosures." On the basis of the witness's clarification, Lind sustained an objection from the defence and scrubbed from the official record any reference to the alleged killing by the Taliban. Carr said that when his task force reviewed the Afghan war logs they found about 900 names of local nationals contained in the records.

Source: CNN: Dozens of CIA operatives on the ground during Benghazi attack!

CNN has uncovered exclusive new information about what is allegedly happening at the CIA, in the wake of the deadly Benghazi terror attack. Four Americans, including Ambassador Christopher Stevens, were killed in the wake of the deadly Benghazi terror attack. Four Americans, including Ambassador Christopher Stevens, were killed in the assault by armed militants last September last September 11 in eastern Libya. Sources now tell CNN dozens of people working for the CIA were on the ground that night, and that the agency is going to great lenghts to make sure whatever it was doing, remains a secret. CNN has learned the CIA is involved in what one source calls an unprecedented attempt to keep the spy agency's Benghazi secrets from ever leaking out. Read: Analysis: CIA role in Benghazi under-reported. Since January, some CIA operatives involved in the agency's missions in Libya, have been subjected to frequent, even monthly polygraph examinations, according to a source with deep inside knowledge of the agency's workings. The goal of the questioning, according to sources, is to find out if anyone is talking to the media or Congress. It is being described as pure intimidation, with the threat that any unauthorized CIA employee who leaks information could face the end of his or her career. In exclusive communications obtained by CNN, one insider writes, "You don't jeopardize yourself, you jeopardize your family as well." Another says, "You have no idea the amount of pressure being brought to bear on anyone with knowledge of this operation." "Agency employees typically are polygraphed every three to four years. Never more than that," said former CIA operative and CNN analyst Robert Baer. In other words, the rate of the kind of polygraphs alleged by sources is rare. "If somebody is being polygraphed every month, or every two months it's called an issue polygraph, and that means that the polygraph division suspects something, or they're on a fishing expedition. But it's absolutely not routine at all to be polygraphed monthly, or bi-monthly," said Baer. CIA spokesman Dean Boyd asserted in a statement that the agency has been open with Congress. "The CIA has worked closely with its oversight committees to provide them with an extraordinary amount of information related to the attack on U.S. facilities in Benghazi," the statement said. "CIA employees are always free to speak to Congress if they want," the statement continued. "The CIA enabled all officers involved in Benghazi the opportunity to meet with Congress. We are not aware of any CIA employee who has experienced retaliation, including any non-routine security procedures, or who has been prevented from sharing a concern with Congress about the Benghazi incident." Among the many secrets still yet to be told about the Benghazi incident." Among the many secrets still yet to be told about the Benghazi mission, is just how many Americans were there the night of the attack.   

AlterNet Keegan Hamilton: Proof the Feds Are Tracking Your Car!

One morning last week, 38-year-old software developer Phil Mocek was walking to work in Seattle when he paused to photograph what appeared to be civilian vehicles parked in a restricted area near a downtown federal building. He snapped a few pictures and began walking away, when a white truck whipped out of one of the parking spots and pulled up perpendicular to the curb. A large man wearing
jeans and a gray T-shirt emerged from the cab and angrily grabbed the camera from Mocek, who hollered for help and fumbled with his phone to dial 911. Police quickly arrived on the scene, responding to Mocek's report of a possible robbery. The black male suspect identified himself as an agent for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and told the officers that he was concerned about Mosek posting images of his vehicle online due to the nature of his job. The ATF agent explained that he had confiscated the camera and examined its contents because he "wanted to delete the picture that was taken from him." Nobody was arrested. For Mocek, the encounter was both unsettling and absurd. A gadfly for government transparency and police accountability, he has a history of prodding law enforcement to the point of exasperation. He says he was taking the pictures for an ongoing project that aims to raise awareness about law enforcement tracking vehicles on U.S. city streets and highways. The fact that a federal agent was concerned about Mocek violating his privacy rights would have been laughable if it weren't so frightening. "He was much, much larger than me and very intimidating," Mocek said, describing the ATF agent, who is not named in the Seattle police report. "This huge man just jumped out of a car and grabbed my camera from me. It made me very uncomfortable." An ATF spokesman said the agency is aware of the incident involving
Mocek but declined to comment further. This is not the first time Mocek has tangled with federal agents. Short, with a dark beard and thick, round glasses, Mocek earned the nickname "the TSA's worst nightmare"in 2011 for declining to show ID when boarding a domestic flight and then recording the fallout on his cellphone camera. The ensuing misdemeanor charges were eventually dismissed. Mocek says he has been taking pictures of the Seattle federal building and the vehicles parked outside "two or three days a week for the past few weeks." He is using the images to make a record of license plate numbers, which he plans to eventually publish in order to draw attention to police use of automatic license plate readers, or ALPRs. These small devices are mounted on police cruisers or objects like road signs and bridges. They use high-speed cameras to photograph and catalog thousands of license plates per minute. According to a recent ACLU report tilled "You Are Being Tracked," 600 local and state police departments , along with federal agencies, are using ALPRs to create "enormous databases of innocent motorists' location information."


Dave Lindorff: America's Police State Marches On,

While Russia Grants Snowden Political Asylum. Breaking! It could well be that the harsh treatment of Manning and the harsh verdict handed down against him may have been what convinced Russian authorities of the validity of National Security whistle-blower Edward Snowden's appeal for asylum, which his Russian attorney and his father have both announced has been granted this morning. Snowden in his application asserted that he cannot hope to receive a fair trial in the US,where Washington leaders have been publicly calling him a traitor and have been clamoring for harsh punishment, and where even the president has condemned him as a "hacker," instead of a whistle-blower who exposed the nation's ubiquitous spying on all electronic communications of all Americans in wholesale violation of the Fourth Amendment of the Fourth Amendment of the US Constitution. The New York Times, in an editorial published the day after a military judge found Pvt. Bradley Manning "not guilty" of "aiding the enemy" a charge that would have locked him up for life without possibility of parole and could have carried the death penalty, but also found him guilty on multiple counts of "espionage," called the verdict not guilty of aiding the enemy, guilty of "espionage," called the verdict not guilty of aiding the enemy, guilty of "espionage," called the verdict not guilty of aiding the enemy, guilty of espionage, "Mixed." The Times editorial writers were as mixed up as the judge, though. The lead article got it right with the headline: "Manning Found Not Guilty of Aiding the Enemy," and with the subhead: "Leaker Convicted of Most Other Charges." Clearly, Manning was not a traitor that many charlatans in Congress and the media called him, but was rather a leaker who was trying to inform the public about crimes, misdeed and wrongdoing in the US military's conduct of the war in Iraq, US diplomacy and US handling of prisoners in Guantanamo and elsewhere. But an accompanying sidebar article didn't fare so well at the editors' hands. On the front page, the headline read: "Loner Sought a Refuge, and Chose the Army," with the subhead reading: "After an Anguished Youth, Accused of Being a Traitor." Bad enough to focus on the "traitor" angle, which has been clearly shown to have been the over-wrought fantasy of cowardly politicians and pundits who wrap themselves in the flag. But totally off base was the headline over the jump for that story, on page 13, which read: "Loner Who Sought a Refuge, Chose the Army, and Betrayed His Country." Excuse me? Manning, who admits he broke the law in downloading secret military and diplomatic documents like the notorious gun-sight video of an Apache helicopter mowing down civilians in Iraq, including children and laughing as they slaughtered the people below them with machine-gun fire, or the embarrassing embassy cables mocking foreign leaders.    

Alternet: 3 Shocking Revelations from NSA's Most Terrifying Program Yet.

The meta-data explanation has mow been unmasked as a mega-lie, according to the latest revelations from exiled National Security Agency whistle-blower Edward Snowden. When Snowden first disclosed the extent of America's national security state spying on the electronic lives of Americans, the Obama administration led by the president himself said the government was not looking at the details of one's electronic communications, web searches and sites visited. Instead, it was looking at so-called "meta-data" which was akin to a phone bill listing calls but not listening in. On Wednesday, the White House declassified documents remaking that same argument. But Wednesday's disclosure by Snowden, reported by the U.K. Guardian, exposes that spin as a security state lie. The NSA has a computer program, called XKeyscore, that is its "widest-reaching" system for conducting digital dragnets. Screenshot presentations describing its capacities boast that it can trace "nearly everything a typical user does on the Internet," including the content of emails, attachments, online searches, websites visited, chats, phone numbers and user data. The 32-page slideshow uses examples of tracking oversees targets, but the software can be used domestically as well. Here are three breathtaking revelations about Snowden's XKeyscore disclosure. 1. Internet privacy is dead. Snowden famously said,"I, sitting at my desk, could wiretap anyone, from you or your accountant, to the federal judge or even the president, if I had a personal email" address. XKeyscore explains how this can be done. Obviously, the government cannot collect billions of electronic messages and transactions with no smart way to sift through them, including examining them at the most detailed level. XKeyscore is the sifting and storage system for doing so. But technical capacities aside, the bottom line is online privacy is completely dead. The government now can collect dossiers on anyone down to the most intimate details of their lives. In contrast, Wednesday's White House release only concerned the NSA's narrower telephone dragnet. 2. The security state has trumped the Constititution. Snowden's latest revelation begins by saying that any government contractor working for spy agencies can access and use this system. They don't need a search warrant. There is no judicial process to push back. And Congress has enabled that shadow government to grow without checks and balances, which directly conflicts with the U.S. Constitution's Fourth Amendment banning illegal searches and seizures. The Bill of Rights, enshrined the quartet of police search warrants, protection against self-incrimination, trial by jury and the credo of innocent until proven guilty in response to Great Britain's 18th-century abuses of this nature. XKeyscore completely upends those constitutional protections.

Alternet: Be Careful What You Google: Music Writer Says SWAT Team Raided House

Based on Harmless On-Line Browsing. Music writer Michele Catalano wrote Thursday about a personal experience that may show, to bizarre but chilling effect, the government's online surveillance in action. Catalano writes that her home was visited and searchedby members of the Joint Terrorist Task Force, a fact she attributes to having searched online for pressure cookers, while her husband searched for backpacks. Of course, there is no way to verify why Catlano's home was selected for a raid, national security agencies are hardly free with such information. But based on questions posed by the government agents to her husband, she was not home at the time, Catalano pieced together that a "confluence" of Internet searches, activity we now know to be tracked and hoarded on databases by the NSA, brought a SWAT team to her door. She had searched for pressure cookers, her husband had searched for back packs. Following the Boston bombings, otherwise innocuous activity took on a suspicious air to the algorithms daily sifting our almost every online move on behalf of the government. "Little did we know our seemingly innocent, if curious to a fault, Googling of certain things was creating a perfect storm of terrorism profiling. Because somewhere out there, someone was watching. Someone whose job it is to piece together the things people do on the internet raised the red flag when they saw our search history," wrote Catalano. Indeed, Wednesday's revelation's based on documents leaked by NSA Whistleblower Edward Snowden showed how national security analysts regularly use keyword searches to sift and create profiles of interest out of the vast, unwieldy amount of data collected daily on almost every phone and online interaction within and going out of the U.S. Catalano's story, as she frames it, appears to illustrate how internet activity both banal and curious can add up to the seemingly criminal according to government algorithims. Her story too appears to highlight, through the lens of the personal, how very much our online selves are surveilled. Interstingly, Catalalono writes that the agents who raided her house said that carry out such raids regularly: They mentioned that they do this about 100 times a week. And that 99 of those visits turn out to be nothing. I don't know what my neighbors are up to. Catalana adds: Mostly I felt a great sense of anxiety. This is where we are at. Where you have to watch every little thing you do because someone else is watching every little thing you do.


MIchel Chossudovsky: The Threat of Nuclear War, North Korea or the United States?

While the Western media portrays North Korea's nuclear weapons program as a threat to Global Security, it fails to acknowledge that the US has being threatening North Korea with a nuclear attack for more than half a century. On July 27, 2013, Armistice Day, Koreans in the North and the South will be commemorating the end of the Korean war (1950-53). Unknown to the broader public, the US had envisaged the use of nuclear weapons against North Korea at the very outset of the Korean War in 1950. In the immediate wake of the war, the US deployed nuclear weapons in South Korea for use on a pre-emptive basis against the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) in violation of the 1953 Armistice Agreement. "The Hiroshima Doctrine" applied to North Korea. US nuclear doctrine pertaining to Korea was established following the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August 1945, which were largely directed against civilians. The strategic objective of a nuclear attack under the "Hiroshima doctrine" was to trigger a "massive casualty producing event" resulting in tens of thousands of deaths. The objective was to terrorize an entire nation, as a means of military conquest. Military targets were not the main objective: the notion of "collateral damage" was used as a justification for the mass killings of civilians, under the official pretense that Hiroshima was "a military base" and that civilians were not the target. In the words of President Harry Truman: We have discovered the most terrible bomb in the history of the world. This weapon is to be used against Japan. We will use it so that military objectives and soldiers and sailors are the target and not women and children. Even if the Japs are savages, ruthless, merciless and fanatic, we as the leader of the world for the common welfare cannot drop that terrible bomb on the new. The target will be a purely military one. It seems to be the most terrible thing ever discovered, but it can be made the most useful. The World will note that the first atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima, a military base. That was because we wished in this first attack to avoid, insofar as possible, the killing of civilians. President Harry S. Truman in a radio speech to the Nation, August 9, 1945. Note: the first atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima on August 6, 1945: the Second on Nagasaki, on August 8, on the same day as Truman's radio speech to the Nation. Nobody within the upper echelons of the US government and military believed that Hiroshima was a military base, Truman was lying to himself  and to the American public. To this day the use of nuclear weapons against Japan is justified as a necessary cost for bringing the war to an end and ultimately "saving lives."      

Alternet. By Alex Kane: Bradley Manning Found Guilty on Most Counts,

Acquitted of 'Aiding the Enemy' Faces Over 100 Years in Prison. The military intelligence analyst who leaked hundreds of thousands of documents to WikiLeaks and sparked a worldwide debate on U.S. foreign policy was found guilty today on charges that he violated the Espionage Act, the favored tool the Obama administration uses when cracking down on whistle-blowers. But Manning was found not guilty on the charge of "aiding the enemy" the most controversial serious charge he faced. The verdict is the culmination of about two months of legal proceedings that took place at a military base in Maryland. Manning was found guilty on five counts of violating laws prohibiting espionage and guilty on five counts of theft. In total, he faced 21charges, and was found guilty on most of them. He faces over 100 years of prison, and the sentencing phase of his trial begins tomorrow. The court martial of Manning was a whistle-blower seeking to expose war crimes. The harsh charge of "aiding the enemy" had grave implications for press freedom in the U.S. Experts had warned that if Manning was found guilty on that charge, it would be a dark day for journalism, as it would mean Manning was guilty merely because the "enemy" in this case, Al Qaeda, read and possessed the material Manning placed on the Internet. It would have had major consequences for national security journalism. In the closing weeks of the trial, the back and forth between the defense and the prosecution heated up. Army Prosecutor Maj. Ashden Fein spoke harshly of Manning and disputed the central premise of the defense's argument: that Manning was acting out of conscience. "He was not a humanist. He was a hacker," said Fein. "He was not a troubled soul. He was not a whistle blower. He was a traitor." Fein also sought to bolster the "aiding the enemy" charge against Manning by arguing that "Osama Bin Laden asked for that information and received it." The prosecution also argued that Manning wanted to be famous for his actions. The defense pushed back against Fein's argument the next day. They argued Manning was driven by his conscience and wanted to inform the American public about what was happening in Iraq, Afghanistan and around the world in their name. Manning's defense lawyer, David Coombs, argued that the former intelligence analyst was a "young, naive, good-intentioned soldier who had human life, in his humanist beliefs, central to his decision." Now that the verdict phase of the trial is over, the sentencing phase begins. Throughout August, the defense and prosecution will call more witnesses and make more arguments regarding the sentencing of Manning.

AlterNet: By Alli Fry: Death by Drone On Trial: Families of Killed Americans Push For Accountability!

U.S. drone strikes have killed four American citizens to date. The families of three of the victims are bringing a lawsuit against those responsible for the targeted killings, seeking accountability from the U.S. government. On September 30, 2011, a drone strike killed five people, including U.S. citizens Anwar al-Awlaki and Samir Khan. On October 14, 2011, another strike murdered Al-Awlaki's 16 year-old son Abdulrahman. The Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) and the ACLU are representing plaintiffs Nasser Al-Awlaki, Anwar's father and Abdulrahman's grandfather, and Sarah Khan, mother of Samir Khan. Codepink delegates met with Nasser Al-Awlaki in Yemen in June. In an interview with the delegates, Nasser expressed, "I'm not looking for compensation or anything else. I am looking for compensation or anything else. I am looking for accountability. I want the American system of law to tell me at least why the American system of law to tell me at least why the American government killed my grandson." This week, the Codepink DC staff helped fill the packed courtroom to hear the oral argument on the defendants' motion to dismiss. It is imperative that the unconstitutionality of the U.S. government killing its citizens without due process, a violation of our 5th amendment rights be addressed, but furthermore we cannot stand for extrajudicial killings with impunity, whether the victim is a citizen or non-citizen. The court opened with the defense explaining its motion to dismiss the case. The Department of Justice is representing former CIA Director David Petraeus, former Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta, Commander of Special Operations Command William McCraven, and Commander of Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) Joseph Votel. The defense argued that this was a delicate matter of national security and was "outside the court's confidence," essentially arguing that the President's kill list are untouchable by the judicial branch of government. Judge Collyer did not seem pleased with the argument, asking where that logic ends and where the limits are for executive authority. The defense received a lesson from Judge Collyer in how checks and balances work among the three branches of government. She said, "The best thing about the US is that we are a country of law."When the defense argued that the executive branch in this case is checked by Congress, Judge Collyer corrected him: "Congress cannot interpret law, that is what the courts are for." When pressed by Judge Collyer, the defense eventually implied that 16-year-old Abdulrahman Al-Awlaki was not their intended target, and this was a tragic accident. Both the defense and the plaintiff agree that as a US citizen, Abdulrahman has 4th and 5th amendment rights.


AlterNet: Venture Capitalist Pumping Cash into Spy Companies That Work with NSA!

Somebody's happy with our new surveillance state. Can you guess who? Some of the country's most influential venture capitalists and former spy chiefs are investing in companies now providing the government with the sweeping electronic spy system and evolving cyber-warfare programs exposed by Mr. Snowden. More than 80 companies work with the NSA on cyber-security and surveillance, according to a recent report in the German magazine Der Spiegel that was based on top secret documents provided by Mr. Snowden. They include firms like the one that employed Mr. Snowden as an infrastructure analyst in Hawaii, Booz Allen Hamilton Inc., as well as scores of new players. Last year, venture capitalists pumped about $700 million into security startups, almost a 10th of the estimated market, according to Lawrence Pingree, research director at Gartner Inc., IT +0.88% the U.S. information technology research company. That's a small part of a broader technology market expected to grow from $67.1 billion this year to more than $93 billion in 2017, he said. The increases are driven by budget shifts toward cyber-warfare and surveillance and away from ground forces. In his most recent Pentagon budget proposal, President Barack Obama sought cuts in most areas, but is seeking more money for military cyber operations. "Money always follows problems," said Mr. Pingree. One prominent player, Endgame Inc., is an Atlanta-based company that provides the U.S. government with the technological tools and know-how to conduct surveillance and, when needed, cyperattacks. "Endgame is part of an emerging industrial-cyber complex that provides capabilities to our federal agencies much in the same way one might sell bullets to the government,"said David Cowan, a partner at Bessemer Venture Partners, a leading venture capital firm that is one of several investors that have given Endgame $80 million. Paladin Capital Group, the Washington-based private
-equity firm led by former Central Intelligence Agency Director James Woolsey, has given the company millions of dollars. Endgame's new board chairman is Christopher Darby, president of In-Q-Tel, the CIA-backed venture capital fund. Mr. Darby is joined on the board by Kenneth Minihan, a retired Air Force general who once served as head of the NSA. The private-sector intelligence world has driven perceptions that the government is cultivating what former NSA Director Michael Hayden has called a "digital Black-water." That 2011 comparison to the private security contractor was meant to be complimentary. But it suggested to some possible conflicts between public service and private aims. "Where do we want to draw the line as a country for what should only be reserved for government intelligence officers?" asks Tim Shorrock, author of "Spies for Hire: The Secret World of Intelligence Outsourcing,"a 2008 book about the role of contractors in intelligence.   

By Norman Solomon: The Moral Verdict on Bradley Manning:

A Conviction of Love in Action. The sun rose with a moral verdict on Bradley Manning well before the military judge could proclaim his guilt. The human verdict would necessarily clash with the proclamation from the judicial bench. In lockstep with administrators of the nation's war services, judgment day arrived on Tuesday to exact official retribution. After unforgivable actions, the defendant's culpability weighed heavy. "Our apologies, good friends, for the fracture of good order, the burning of paper instead of children, the angering of the orderlies in the front parlor of the charnel house," another defendant, Fr. Daniel Berrigan, wrote about another action that resulted in a federal trial, 45 years earlier, scarcely a dozen miles from Fort Meade courtroom where Bradley Manning faced prosecution for his own fracture of good order. "We could not, so help us God, do otherwise," wrote Berrigan, one of the nine people who, one day in May 1968 while the Vietnam War raged on, removed several hundred files from a U.S. draft board in Catonsville, Maryland, and burned them with napalm in the parking lot. "For we are sick at heart". On the surface, many differences protrude between those nine draft-files-burning radical Catholics and Bradley Manning. But I wonder. Ten souls saw cruelties of war and could no longer just watch. "I prefer a painful truth over any blissful fantasy," Manning wrote in an online chat. Minutes later he added: "I think I've been traumatized too much by reality, to care about consequences of shattering the fantasy." And he also wrote: "I want people to see the truth, regardless of who they are, because without information, you cannot make informed decisions as a public." Those words came seven weeks after the world was able to watch the "Collateral Murder" video that Manning had provided to Wiki-Leaks. And those words came just days before military police arrived to arrest him on May 29, 2010. Since then, huge numbers of people around the world have come to see Bradley Manning as personification of moral courage. During the last several months I've read thousands of moving comments online at Manning Nobel.org, posted by signers of the petition urging that he receive the Nobel Peace Prize. The comments are often stunning with heartfelt intensity of wounded idealism, anger and hope. No verdict handed down by the military judge can change the moral verdict that has emerged from people all over the world, reciprocating what Bradley Manning expressed online a few days before his arrest: "I can't separate myself from others," And: I feel connected to everybody, like they were distant family." The problem for the U.S. government was not that Bradley Manning felt that way.

Wolf Richter: NSA Spying in Germany: Turning A Parliamentary Democracy Into A Banana Republic.

"The largest espionage scandal in the 21st century is shaking Germany," wrote Peer Steinbrueck, the man who is desperately trying to unseat one of the most popular German politicians, Chancellor Angelo Merkel, as massive anti-NSA protests spread across the country. Well, not quite: 1,000 demonstrators straggled through Frankfurt. It's going to be tough for him. Edward Snowden's revelation of widespread US and British spying on German internet and telecommunications and Germany's own role in it, damaged confidence in the democratic rule of law, and suspicions were growing that constitutional rights had been "systematically violated millions of times," he asserted in a guest commentary in the Frankfurter Rundschau 56 days before the election. The SPD's candidate for chancellor, and erstwhile Finance Minister under Merkel's grand coalition government of 2005-2009, was running out of time. Back in June, 100 days before the election, only 14% of German voters believed that he could become chancellor, while 78% believed that he was electoral road kill. Even among SPD supporters, moroseness had taken over: only 22% believed that he was electoral road kill. Even among SPD supporters, moroseness had taken over: only 22% believed he'd make it. The spy scandal might be his last chance. Only a big debacle could unseat Merkel. But Germany was on vacation, and the government would simply not allow any big debacles to transpire before the elections. So Interior Minister Hans-Peter Friedrich was sent to the forefront to defend the NSA's surveillance programs. July 12, he went to the US ostensibly to be briefed by the NSA and came back
a strong supporter. At the time, he said they'd prevented five terror attacks in Germany. Later, he was forced to cut that down to two. On Monday, at a conference in Riesa, Saxony, not far from Dresden, he twisted himself into a linguistic knot defending the programs again. Communications were just being "filtered," he said. It was hardly any spying at all. "The point is that we have worldwide networks of organized crime and terrorism, and intelligence must be gathered on these networks." That would be necessary for the survival of Europe, he said. People shouldn't get all rattled by this. How the government has responded to these near daily revelations "is a scandal within a scandal," Steinbruck counterattacked. The minister of the interior acted "like a spokesman for the NSA." And with this "abstruce formulation of security as a 'super-constitutional law', he exhibited "a deviant understanding of the constitution." Then Steinbrueck swung his guns in direction of the Chancellery, the federal agency serving as the executive office of the Chancellor. Its head, Ronald Pofalla, responsible for the coordination of the intelligence services, still hasn't given any answers about "the details and extent of the spying, and in particular about the question if this spying is continuing, let alone what he wants to do about it."


By Richard Eskow: It's a real-life disaster movie,

one that's left neighborhoods in ruins all across the country, killed thousands of people, and ruined millions of lives. You might call it a "Banknado." Yes, we know the Sharknado craze ended about ten days ago. The sci-fi movie's premise of tornadoes filled with deadly sharks has probably passed its cultural sell-by date. But we'll use the metaphor anyway, because it's just so apt: Wall Street's a whirlwind filled with predators descending a hapless population. And while our leaders stand idly by, the teeth-filled twisters keep falling from the sky. Look out below! Goldman Sachs was recently found to be manipulating aluminum prices by buying up large amounts of metal, what are the banks we rescued doing in the commodities business, anyway? and then shuffling the stuff from warehouse to warehouse to jack up its price by a fraction of a penny at a time. By taking advantage of a regulatory loophole in this way, Goldman's making billions at everyone else's expense. Goldman's gamesmanship, which may be legal but certainly isn't ethical, follows evidence of Goldman crimes and misdeeds that range from investor fraud to perjury by its chief executives. JPMorgan Chase has committed widespread energy fraud, according to recent revelations. Enron played games with energy prices, too, remember? Chase is pre-emptively leaking stories to the press that it's willing to pay half a billion dollars to settle fraud charges. Since when do criminals negotiate their way out of their crimes with other people's money? Since this Administration decided to let them, in the wake of revelations that bank fraud led to the 2008 crisis. The perpetrators don't just go free. They keep their ill-gotten gains. In JPM's case, we're told that the executive behind the misdeeds won't even be fired or disciplined, despite a range of accusations that included false testimony. Past crimes by JPMorgan Chase employees include bribery which led to the bankruptcy of Jefferson County, Alabama, the "London Whale" case which involves investor fraud and what appear to be deceptive public statements by CEO Jamie Dimon, widespread perjury and forgery in commission of foreclosure fraud which includes a unit of temp employees called the "Burger King kids", and other repeated fraudulent activity. HSBC acted even more heinously, by laundering money for the Mexican drug cartels which have murdered tens of thousands of people. Yet that bank, like the others, was given a free pass by the Justice Department. Attorney General Eric Holder even made this de facto immunity explicit by stating that "if you do prosecute, if you do bring a criminal charge against lawbreaking banks, it will have a negative impact on the national economy, perhaps even the world economy."

pravda.ru: USA blatantly violates domestic and international laws baming Putin!

At the first real chance that Russia could provide asylum to Edward Snowden, a former contract employee of U.S. intelligence, the United States stepped up pressure on Russia, demanding to clarify Snowden's status. Pravda.Ru asked Yuri Ursov, the former head of the press service of the Russian Security Council, to comment on the events. "I looked at the top ten pieces of news in the American version of Google. It has it all: a mention of the death of the king of heroin in Myanmar, the murder of a journalist in Dagestan, a plane crash in Alaska, kidnapping in the state of Ohio. There was not a word about Edward Snowden, a former employee of the American CIA, who is now in the transit area of Moscow Sheremetyevo airport. It can be assumed that the media dependent on the U.S. government have been instructed not to raise this issue in order not to attract attention to the flagrant violations of the constitution and a number of international treaties by the U.S. government. Russian liberal media do cover this topic. They have a very peculiar angle. For example, "Echo of Moscow" radio started a discussion with the audience whether Snowden was a traitor. This is an acute subject, and of course, according to the radio "Echo of Moscow" the fact that Snowden is a traitor is predetermined. But why is he a traitor? Did his actions affect the defense of the United States? No, they did not. Did his actions hurt people? Was someone imprisoned or executed? No! So what's Snowden's betrayal? In fact, he told the world that the United States conducted surveillance, listening to people who work on the internet, who talk on the phone. This means that he disclosed that the U.S. was breaking one of the fundamental rights of democracy, a right to privacy. Echo of Moscow radio station in their broadcasts accuses the authorities of the Soviet Union and Russia, from Stalin to Putin, of conducting surveillance, When the surveillance is conducted by the U.S. intelligence agencies, they lead the conversation astray, replacing real news with minor discussions. They promote a predetermined outcome, echoing the American interpretation that Snowden is a traitor. This image is being injected into the mass consciousness. Kommersant published information that United States President Obama refuses to come to Moscow for a meeting of "G8" if Snowden is not extradited to the United States of America.They were involved in such a vigorous debate that U.S. Ambassador McFaul had to make a rebuttal, saying that, of course, President Obama will attend the summit. This is indicative of the trend the liberal media adheres to. It seems that someone in the American General Staff gave a command to distort the topic, replacing the basic content with secondary details, namely, that the United States not only violated their own laws, but also the laws of the international community.

James Gallagher: Mers: BBC News Health New virus not following Sars path!

The new Mers virus, which has killed half of those infected, is "unlikely" to reach the same scale as Sars, ministers in Saudi Arabia say. Most of the 90 Mers cases reported so far have been in Saudi Arabia. Mers is from the same group of viruses as the common cold and Sars, which killed 774 people. However, a detailed analysis of the Saudi cases, published in Lancet infectious Diseases, did warn of "major gaps" in understanding of the virus. The Middle East respiratory-syndrome coronavirus (Mers) emerged in 2012 and has infected 90 people worldwide, 45 of them have died. The global concern is that cases could spread much further, echoing the Sars outbreak. Cases have been centered on the Middle East, with patients in Jordan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. Additional cases in France, Germany, Italy, Tunisia and the UK all have been linked to travel to the Middle East. Researchers in Saudi Arabia have published details of the 47 cases reported in the country. They suggest a pattern of mostly older men being infected. Most cases were also in people with other medical problems, more than two-thirds of the reported cases also had diabetes. Low threat. The lead researcher and Deputy Minister for Public Health, Prof Ziad Memish, said: "Despite sharing some clinical similarities with Sars, there are also some important differences. "In contrast to Sars, which was much more infectious especially in healthcare settings and affected the healthier and the younger age group, Mers appears to be more deadly, with 60% of patients with co-existing chronic illnesses dying, compared with the 1% toll of Sars. "Although this high mortality rate with Mers is probably spurious due to the fact that we are only picking up severe cases and missing a significant number of milder or asymptomatic cases. "So far there is little to indicate that Merswill follow a similar path to Sars." A report earlier this month showed that the virus struggled to spread in people. However, it and the latest Saudi investigation both highlighted the need to find where the virus was coming from. Prof Memish's report said: "Reducing the rate of introduction of Mers coronavirus into human beings is unpredictable because the source of the virus is not yet known. "We are searching vigorously for the source."


Keystone XL Tar Sands Pipeline Flat Out Fails President's Common sense Climate Test

In laying out his progressive vision for national action on climate change, President Obama set a clear standard for the proposed Keystone XL tar sands pipeline. It won't be approved, he vowed last month, unless it "does not significantly exacerbate the problem of carbon pollution." Would it ever. Turns out, over its 50-year life, that tar sands pipeline would add as much carbon pollution to our atmosphere as every car in the United States kicks out in an entire year. That's significant. It would exacerbate the carbon pollution that's driving climate chaos. Any way you cut it, this tar sands pipeline flat out fails the president's common-sense test. It needs to be denied. A new economic and environmental analysis by the Natural Resources Defense Council explains why. Much more carbon pollution is released from producing and refining tar sands crude than from conventional oil, 81 percent more, according to our State Department and the Environmental Protection Agency. Over the life of the proposed Keystone XL, the difference comes to as much as 1.2 billion metric tons, the NRDC concludes, as much as the annual output of every car on the road in our country. Think about that. We would have to park every single car in America for a full year to make up for the carbon pollution the tar sands pipeline would dump into our atmosphere. Everybody in favor, raise your hand. Nothing doing.. We're not about to green light that kind of carbon disaster and impose it on our kids. And get ready for this argument from the industry: we'll burn those tar sands with or without the Keystone XL pipeline. No, we won't, and don't take my word for it. Ever heard of Goldman Sachs? Standard & Poor's? They 're just a couple of the bedrock sources of economic analysis that are already saying that, without the Keystone XL, much of the tar sands expansion just won't happen. Big oil companies want that pipeline so they can ship tar sands crude across the American heartland to Gulf Coast refineries and, from there, to lucrative markets overseas. The Canadians don't want tar sands shipped across their waterways, ranches, communities and farms. Well, neither do we. Rail is not a viable option. It's too expensive for tar sands. RBC Capital Markets may have said it best: "Should Keystone XL be rejected, Canadian oil sands producers will need to rethink expansion plans, timelines and export pipe solutions." If you've never read an investment analysis before, that's shorthand for "Forget about it." One thing we can't forget, and that's the debt we owe to our children, our obligation to leave them a country at least as sound as the one our forebears left us. Climate change is the central environmental threat of our time.

RT:'i US approves drones for civilian use!

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has issued certificates for two types of unmanned aircraft for civilian use. The move is expected to lead to the first approved commercial drone operation later this summer. The two unmanned aircraft system (UAS) are the Scan Eagle X200 and Aero Vironment's Puma. They both measure around 4 i/s feet long, weighing less than 55 pounds, and have a wing span of ten and nine feet respectively. Both the Scan Eagle and the PUMA received "restricted category type certificates" which permit aerial surveillance. Prior to the FAA's decision, the only way the private sector could operate UAS in US airspace was by obtaining an experimental airworthiness certificate which specifically restricts commercial operations. The PUMA is expected to support emergency response crews for wildlife surveillance and oil spill monitoring over the Beaufort Sea to the north of Canada and Alaska. The Scan Eagle will be used by a major energy company off the Alaskan Coast to survey ice floes and migrating whales in Arctic oil exploration areas. The issuing of the certificates is seen as an important step to integrating UAS into airspace. Both drone operations will meet the requirements of the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012, which includes a mandate to increase Arctic UAS commercial operations. Most non-military use of drones in the US has so far been limited to the police and other government agencies. New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg said in March that drones will soon be used by the NYPD and will become as ubiquitous as security cameras. Documents released by the American civil Liberties Union (ACLU) via the Freedom of Information Act have revealed that the US Marshals Service has also experimented with the use of drones for domestic surveillance. Military drones are used extensively by the US Air Force for targeting terrorist suspects in several countries, including Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Yemen. The strikes have been highly controversial, as they are ordered without the knowledge or participation of the countries concerned, and are sometimes inaccurate and kill civilians. Pakistan's relations with the US have been soured because of drone strikes. Just last month, the new government in Islamabad summoned a top US envoy who was given a letter of protest against drone strikes by the US military. In May, a Pakistani court ruled that US drone strikes in its tribal regions should be considered war crimes, and that the government should use force to protect its civilians.

Tom Burghardt: Big Data Dynamo: How Giant Tech Firms Help the Government Spy on Us and Gut Privacy!

As the secret state continues trawling the electronic communications of hundreds of millions of Americans, lusting after what securocrats euphemistically call "actionable intelligence," a notional tipping point that transforms a "good" citizen into a "criminal" suspect, the role played by telecommunications and technology firms cannot be emphasized enough. Ever since former NSA contractor Edward Snowden began leaking secrets to media outlets about government surveillance programs, one fact stands out: The zero probability these privacy-killing projects would be practical without close, and very profitable "arrangements" made with phone companies, internet service providers and other technology giants. Indeed, a top secret NSA Inspector General's report published by The Guardian, revealed that the agency "maintains relationships with over 100 US companies," adding that the US has the "home field advantage as the primary hub for worldwide telecommunications." Similarly, the British fiber optic cable tapping program, TEMPORA, referred to telcos and ISPs involved in the spying as "intercept partners." The names of the firms were considered so sensitive that GCHQ "went to great lenghts" to keep their identities hidden, including what CNET described as ongoing efforts by the FBI and NSA "to obtain the master encryption keys that Internet companies use to shield millions of users' private Web communications from eavesdropping," along with new government demands that ISPs and cell phone carriers "divulge users' stored passwords," can we trust these firms? And with Microsoft and other tech giants, collaborating closely with "US intelligence services to allow users' communications to be intercepted, including helping the National Security Agency to allow users' communications to be intercepted, including helping the company's own encryption," can we afford to? Hiding in Plain Sight. Ever since retired union technician Mark Klein blew the lid off AT&T's secret surveillance pact with the US government in 2006, we know user privacy is not part of that firm's business model. The technical source for the Electronic Frontier Foundation's lawsuit, Hepting v. AT&T and the author of Wiring Up the Big Brother Machine, Klein was the first to publicly expose how NSA was "vacuuming up everything flowing in the Internet stream: e-mail, web browsing, Voice-Over-Internet phone calls, pictures, streaming video, you name it."We also know from reporting by USA Today, that the agency "has been secretly collecting the phone call records of tens of millions of Americans" and had amassed "the largest database ever assembled in the world." Three of those data-slurping programs, UPSTREAM, PRISM and X-KEYSCORE, shunt domestic and global communications collected from fiber optic cables, the servers of Apple, Google, Microsoft and Yahoo, along with telephone data, including metadata, call content and location grabbed from AT&T, Sprint and Verizon into NSA-controlled databases.     


By Harvey Wasserman: Fukoshima Continues to Spew Its Darkness!

Radiation leaks, steam releases, disease and death continue to spew from Fukushima and a disaster which is far from over. Its most profound threat to the global ecology, a spent fuel fire, is still very much with us. The latest steam leak has raised fears around the planet. A worst-case scenario of an on-going out-of-control fission reaction was dismissed by the owners, Tokyo Electric, because they didn't find xenon in the plume. The company says the steam likely came from rain water being vaporized by residual heat in one of the plant's stricken reactors. But independent experts tend to disbelieve anything Tepco says, for good reason. Reactor Units One, Two and Three have exploded at Fukushima despite decades of official assurances that commercial atomic power plants could not explode at all. The company has been unable to clear out enough radioactive debris to allow it to put a cover over the site that might contain further airborne emissions. Tepco has also been forced to admit that it has been leaking radioactive water into the ocean ever since the disaster began on March 11, 2011. In one instance it admitted to a 90-fold increase of Cesium in a nearby test well over a period of just 3 days. Earlier this year a rat ate through critical electrical cables, shorting out a critical cooling system. When Tepco workers were dispatched to install metal guards to protect the cabling, they managed to short out the system yet again. Early this month Fukushima's former chief operator, Masao Yoshida, died of esophogeal cancer at the age of 58. Masao became a hero during the worst of the disaster by standing firm at his on-site command post as multiple explosions rocked the reactor complex. Tepco claimed his ensuing cancer and death were "unlikely" to have been caused by Fukushima's radiation. The impact of work in and near the reactors has become a rising concern. Critics have warned that there are not enough skilled technicians willing to sacrifice themselves at the plant. Tepco has worsened the situation by applying to open a number of its shut reactors elsewhere in Japan, straining its already depleted skilled workforce even further. Meanwhile, a staggering 40% rise in thyroid irregularities among young children in the area has caused a deepening concern about widespread health impacts from Fukushima's fallout within the general public. Because these numbers have come in just two years after the disaster, the percentage of affected children is expected to continue to rise. And the worst fear of all remains unabated. At Unit Four, which apparently did not actually explode, the building's structural integrity has been seriously undermined. Debate continues to rage over exactly how this happened. 

By Norman Solomon: Obama's Willing Executioners of the Fourth Amendment!

It's now painfully clear that the president has put out a contract on the Fourth Amendment. And at the Capitol, the hierarchies of both parties are stuffing it into the trunks of their limousines, so each provision can be neatly fitted with cement shoes and delivered to the bottom of the Potomac. Some other Americans are on a rescue mission. One of them, Congressman Justin Amash, began a debate on the House floor Wednesday with a vow to "defend the Fourth Amendment." That's really what his amendment was more trenchant than the one offered by South Carolina Republican Jeff Duncan, who simply read the Fourth Amendment aloud. To quote those words was to take a clear side: "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." Edward Snowden's heroic revelations have made it possible for some House members from both parties to blow away the fog that shrouds so much tap dancing on Capitol Hill. When the Amash amendment went to the floor, there was no place left to hide. To their historic shame, 134 Republicans and 83 Democrats voted against Amash's amendment, while 94 Republicans and 111 Democrats voted for it. That's how the measure lost, 217-205. The record of the House vote tells us a lot. Top Republicans, including Speaker John Boehner, Majority Leader Eric Cantor and Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy, voted with Obama policies to keep smothering the Fourth Amendment. So did top Democrats, including Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Minority Whip Steny Hoyer. The stench at the pinnacle of GOP power hardly surprises most Democrats. But on civil liberties, as so many other profound issues, a similar odor is emanating from the upper reaches of Democratic power on Capitol Hill, where Pelosi and Hoyer are far from the only Democrats who have become reflexive servants of indefensible Obama policies. Consider some of the other Democratic luminaries in the House who voted against the Amash amendment: The Democratic National Committee's chair, Debbie Wasserman Schultz. The Democratic National Committee's chair, Debbie Wasserman Schultz. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee's former chair Chris Van Hollen. The DCCC's current chair, Steve Israel. Some of the other Democrats who voted no on the Amash amendment include progressive-aura lawmakers like Ami Bera (Calif.), Joaquin Castro (Texas), Luis Gutierrez (Ill.) Marcy Kaptur (Ohio), Joe Kennedy (Mass.) Annie Kuster (N.H.), Nita Lowey (N.Y.) and Louise Slaughter (N.Y.)

Robert Jensen: Peace talks: A new chapter in an old book!

New negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians may begin next week, with much talk of a "new chapter" in the seemingly intractable conflict. A new chapter, perhaps, but who is writing the book? Any public discussions about the "peace process" is tense, in part because there is no widely shared understanding of the history and politics of, even an appropriate terminology for the conflict. That's as true in the United States as in Palestine and Israel. I never gave much thought to the question until I was30 years old, in the late 1980s. Before that, I had a typical view of the conflict for an apolitical American: It was confusing, and everyone involved seemed a bit crazy. With no understanding of the history of the region and no framework for analyzing US policy in the Middle East, it was all a muddle, and so I ignored it. That's one of the privileges of being in the comfortable classes in the United States, you can remain comfortably ignorant. But as a frustrated journalist with a newfound freedom to examine the politics of new-found freedom to examine the politics of news media in graduate school, I began studying law and human rights, in the domestic and international arenas. I also started digging into the issues I had been avoiding. In the case of Palestine vs Israel, I began reading about the roots of the conflict, how the United States was involved, and how US journalists were presenting the issues. I came to this inquiry with no religious commitments, I felt no cultural or spiritual connection to either national group. I don't speak Hebrew or Arabic, and I had never traveled to the Middle East. I had no personal relationships that predisposed me to favor one group over the other. Like any human, I was not free of bias, of course. As a relatively unreflective white man rooted in a predominantly Christian culture, I was raised with some level of anti-Semitism and anti-Arab racism, for example, and no doubt that affected my perceptions. But based solely on my personal profile, I didn't have a dog in that fight, or so I thought. After a couple of years of studying the issues, I realized that the categories of "pro-Israeli" and "pro-Palestinian" didn't fit me. When people asked me where I stood on the issue, I would say that I supported international law and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. As a US citizen, I asserted that my primarily obligation was to evaluate
the legality and morality of my own country's involvement in the conflict and the region. The more I learned, the more I realized I lived in the imperial power of the day, and it became clear to me that imperial policies are designed to enrich the few while ignoring the needs of the many, at home and abroad. I became a critic of US policy based on careful study that included, but was not limited to, mainstream sources. I could no longer accept the conventional story and the policies that flowed from that story. Today, the situation in Palestine and Israel is as grim as ever. Decades of Israeli expansion and the Palestinian leadership's failure to build a vibrant movement to challenge that expansion or, perhaps, to let such a movement emerge on its own have narrowed the prospects for a just peace.