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Guest Tom Scully

Obama's First Full Day as a Tyrant Who Ordered the Assassination of American Citizen Samir Kahn

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Guest Tom Scully

Now the third, extrajudicial execution of a U.S. citizen not under any criminal indictment in a fourteen day period. How many U.S. citizens are required to be executed by a secret committee appointed by the U.S. Decider of the United States, operating in secrecy under secret protocol, before the Decider himself is charged under articles of impeachment, or am I too old-fashioned in my POV?

Is the son of a U.S. citizen who was killed while still a citizen because the State Department lawyers determined there was no legal mechanism to revoke his citizenship because of the nagging little matter of him not being charged with any criminal offense, still considered a U.S. citizen, or must we wait for the Decider to tell us what the new, tyrannical ruling on that question, is?

Nevermind....the son is executed now, too! (Remember back when NPR wasn't simply an outlet regurgitating propaganda, as it is here, in perfect Murdoch like puppetry?


October 15, 2011

Tribal elders say the son of slain U.S.-born cleric Anwar al-Awlaki has been killed in a U.S. missile strike along with six other al-Qaida militants, including the media chief of the terror group's Yemeni branch....

How long will it be until NPR describes the OWS volk as "the terror group's Manhattan branch"?

How long will it be before Cass Sunstein is appointed to hire government minders to shut threads and forums such as this one, down?

When will it be the moment to hang together, or choose to explain every new act of tyranny away, while some of us hang apart?

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Guest Tom Scully

A new thread was started to inform about a new book by Larry Hancock.

Larry Hancock's new book Nexus: The CIA and Political Assassination is out as a Kindle Edition e-book on Amazon for $9.99:


A 208 page paperback copy is scheduled to be released on November 1, 2011 for $10.08:


From the Amazon.com Product Description:

A historical study of how political assassination evolved within the Central Intelligence Agency. How did it start, how was it conducted (how will you recognize it when you see it), who gave the orders, and perhaps most importantly‚ who were the people actually involved in such actions as political assassination and even on a grander scale, “executive action” of senior political leaders during the 1950’s and 1960’s.....

....Everyone should support Larry Hancock's efforts. He's looked into dark corners where no other authors have.

-- Steve

Yeah, Steve...everyone should. If the overall reaction to this thread, especially to my last post, is an indication, Larry and I are in for a long wait. Isn't it all about relevance and priorities? (I read your related post on another thread, David Andrews, thank you for the mention.)

Larry is writing about atrocities with cobwebs on them. Are the four killed on an Ohio campus in 1970, for example, the government sponsored murders we should be actively protesting against today, or should we scream at our president here and now; holding him accountable for breaking his oath to preserve and protect the constitutional rights of all citizens?

Certainly we should be able to digest and to push back against more than one deeply troubling affront to our sensibilities at a time, but will it take Neal Young authoring a contemporary version of his Kent State massacre protest song, "Ohio" to influence most to recognize there is even a crisis, in that for three weeks now our president has been killing his own people?

I think my reaction to the tyrannical "excesses" Obama is responsible for, may be too feeble.


Thursday, Oct 20, 2011

The killing of Awlaki’s 16-year-old son

By Glenn Greenwald

(updated below)

Two weeks after the U.S. killed American citizen Anwar Awlaki with a drone strike in Yemen — far from any battlefield and with no due process — it did the same to his 16-year-old son, Abdulrahman al-Awlaki, ending the teenager’s life on Friday along with his 17-year-old cousin and seven other people. News reports, based on government sources, originally claimed that Awlaki’s son was 21 years old and an Al Qaeda fighter (needless to say, as Terrorist often means: “anyone killed by the U.S.”), but a birth certificate published by The Washington Post proved that he was born only 16 years ago in Denver. As The New Yorker‘s Amy Davidson wrote: “Looking at his birth certificate, one wonders what those assertions say either about the the quality of the government’s evidence — or the honesty of its claims — and about our own capacity for self-deception.” ..... There are two points worth making about this:

(1) It is unknown whether the U.S. targeted the teenager or whether he was merely “collateral damage.” The reason that’s unknown is because the Obama administration refuses to tell us. Said the Post: “The officials would not discuss the attack in any detail, including who the target was.” So here we have yet again one of the most consequential acts a government can take — killing one of its own citizens, in this case a teenage boy — and the government refuses even to talk about what it did, why it did it, what its justification is, what evidence it possesses, or what principles it has embraced in general for such actions. Indeed, it refuses even to admit it did this, since it refuses even to admit that it has a drone program at all and that it is engaged in military action in Yemen. It’s just all shrouded in total secrecy.

Of course, the same thing happened with the killing of Awlaki himself. The Executive Branch decided it has the authority to target U.S. citizens for death without due process, but told nobody (until it was leaked) and refuses to identify the principles that guide these decisions. It then concluded in a secret legal memo that Awlaki specifically could be killed, but refuses to disclose what it ruled or in which principles this ruling was grounded. And although the Obama administration repeatedly accused Awlaki of having an “operational role” in Terrorist plots, it has — as Davidson put it — “so far kept the evidence for that to itself.”...

....UPDATE: Those who believe evidence and transparency in such matters are unnecessary because the government under Obama — unlike under Bush — would never issue false claims about such things and can be trusted without accountability should review this and this.

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Guest Tom Scully

I don't know, Lee.... I thought there would be more of a concern about politically motivated assassination planned and done by the executive here in a forum about politically motivated assassination, 48 years ago, of the executive, than in most other places.

Why was there so much focus on plots by the U.S. government to assassinate Castro in the aftermath of the JFK assassination?

I hope you will agree that it is unlikely your UK or the Canadian PM would be killing citizens. You've still got courts in your country showing encouraging signs of normalcy, lawfulness. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Binyam_Mohamed

I wouldn't expect you would react to the assassinations of the last three weeks in Yemen the way I am reacting to them. My concern is that I do not yet have a sense other Americans in any number even view what is happening as illegal, or wrong.

Have most of my countrymen gone mad? The president of the U.S. has set up and carried out a program of assassination of U.S. citizens located in countries where no U.S. forces are engaged, before these citizens are charged with any crime. I would expect more protest against this. I would expect less support or attempted justification for it.

If you read the early part of this thread, one poster wrote that the topic of this thread is not relevant to the theme of this forum, at least that is what I took his comments to mean. This same poster started a new thread shortly thereafter including no mention of the JFK assassination, or anything in his OP linking it to the theme of the forum.

I think we here in the U.S. are screwed, Lee. Sorry if I seem too shrill.


....And although the Obama administration repeatedly accused Awlaki of having an “operational role” in Terrorist plots, it has — as Davidson put it — “so far kept the evidence for that to itself.”

This is all part and parcel of the Obama administration’s extreme — at times unprecedentedfixation on secrecy. Even with Senators in the President’s own party warning that the administration’s secret interpretation of its domestic surveillance powers under the Patriot Act is so warped and radical that it would shock the public if they knew, Obama officials simply refuse even to release its legal memos setting forth how it is interpreting those powers. As EFF’s Trevor Timm told The Daily Beast today: “The government classified a staggering 77 million documents last year, a 40 percent increase on the year before.” And as I wrote about many times, the Obama administration even tried — and failed — to force The New York Times‘ James Risen to reveal his source for his story about an inept, disastrous CIA effort to infiltrate Iran’s nuclear program, but as Politico‘s Josh Gerstein reports today, the Obama DOJ is now appealing the decision in Risen’s favor. Gerstein writes:

The executive director of the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, Lucy Dalglish, said the appeal was troubling for First Amendment advocates, but not unexpected.

“I’m not surprised at all,” Dalglish said “The Obama administration has made it absolutely clear they detest leakers and they are going to be very aggressive against leakers.”

Since Obama took office, his administration has initiated five prosecutions of alleged leakers under the Espionage Act — a sum roughly equal to the total number of such prosecutions in all prior administrations combined. . . .

“It’s really looking like they want to put Risen in prison,” [the defendant's lawyer Edward] MacMahon said in a brief interview. . . . “For the journalists in the world, it’s quite a significant First Amendment appeal.”

You can offer the ability to citizens to choose from one of the two parties and elect their leaders as much as you want. But “democracy” is an illusion — a sham — if the most significant acts taken by those leaders are kept concealed from the citizenry. .....

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Mr. Tom "They Should Make A Movie About You and Call It A Beautiful Mind" Scully,

It should be obvious to you by now that I am CIA. It should also be obvious to you that, since I attended Texas Christian University for one year (1967) and visited Pat Kirkpatrick's The Cellar one night with my college buddies (we were both disappointed and relieved that Pat cancelled the promised "live sex act" at the last moment), I take my orders indirectly from (TCU alum) David Atlee Phillips, through a mutual cutout of ours who in turn, we suspect, has a cutout in Raleigh, North Carolina, and that this cutout has a special "connection" with someone's gardner, who, when WE last checked, was still residing in Hades, Arkansas and has a cousin (or a nephew; we're not exactly sure; it does tend to get a bit confusing at times, doesn't it?) working at the notorious Minot (North Dakota) airport (which to us sounds suspiciously like Mena Airport), and whose landlady's great great great grandmother was a founding member of The Daughters Of The American Revolution!!!

Well now, regarding the topic of this thread, all I can say is "Get a room", i.e. move it to a more appropriate venue. Last time I checked, this particular forum was dedicated to "debating" the JFK assassination...

--Odd Tommy

expanded and "bumped"

Edited by Thomas Graves

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Guest Tom Scully

When it finally sinks in to the majority of the sheeple that the United States is under the control of volk who are more or less indistinguishable morally from the accused in the Nuremberg trials, it will probably be a tad too late to exit the country all that easily.

However, there will be signs that observant, sane individuals can use as confirmation, (as if any further signs are even necessary) that it is past the time to exit. One of those signs took place yesterday.

On Monday, the U.S. Attorney General gave an Alice in Wonderland speech. "First the sentence, then the verdict," said the Queen.:


How We Can Help President Obama Today

By Charles P. Pierce

at 10:38PM March 5, 2012

This is going to be a more than occasional series on the blog from now until whenever the administration leaves office. So this is the first entry. We can help President Obama today by explaining as LOUDLY as we can that he shouldn't lead this country so far into the quagmire of extrajudicial killing that it never finds its way out again.

Attorney General Eric Holder's appearance at Northwestern on Monday, during which he explained the exact circumstances under which the president can order the killing of just about anyone the president wants to kill, was not promising. The criteria for when a president can unilaterally decide to kill somebody is completely full of holes, regardless of what the government's pet lawyers say. And this...

"This is an indicator of our times," Holder said, "not a departure from our laws and our values."

...is a monumental pile of crap that should embarrass every Democrat who ever said an unkind word about John Yoo. This policy is a vast departure from our laws and an interplanetary probe away from our values. The president should not have this power because the Constitution, which was written by smarter people than, say, Benjamin Wittes, knew full and goddamn well why the president shouldn't have this power. If you give the president the power to kill without due process, or without demonstrable probable cause, he inevitably will do so. And, as a lot of us asked during the Bush years, if you give this power to President George Bush, will you also give it to President Hillary Clinton and, if you give this power to President Barack Obama, will you also give it to President Rick Santorum? To continue:



ACLU Comment on Eric Holder Speech on Targeted Killing Program

March 5, 2012


NEW YORK – In a speech today at Northwestern University School of Law, Attorney General Eric Holder spoke on national security issues and addressed the government’s targeted killing program.

“While the speech is a gesture towards additional transparency, it is ultimately a defense of the government’s chillingly broad claimed authority to conduct targeted killings of civilians, including American citizens, far from any battlefield without judicial review or public scrutiny,” said Hina Shamsi, director of the American Civil Liberties Union’s National Security Project. “Few things are as dangerous to American liberty as the proposition that the government should be able to kill citizens anywhere in the world on the basis of legal standards and evidence that are never submitted to a court, either before or after the fact. Anyone willing to trust President Obama with the power to secretly declare an American citizen an enemy of the state and order his extrajudicial killing should ask whether they would be willing to trust the next president with that dangerous power.”

The ACLU has filed a lawsuit to enforce its Freedom of Information Act lawsuit seeking information about the targeted killing program, but the Justice Department and the CIA have responded to the request by saying they can neither confirm nor deny the existence of any records.

“The government has told the courts that its targeted killing program is so secret that even its existence can’t be acknowledged, but that proposition can no longer be taken seriously. If the attorney general can discuss the targeted killing program at a law school, then the administration can surely release the legal memos it uses to justify its claimed killing authority, and also defend its legal justifications in court,” Shamsi said. “The targeted killing program raises profound legal and moral questions that should be subjected to public debate, and constitutional questions that should be considered by the judiciary.”

The latest "canary in the coal mine" is that the decider and tyrant in chief, Barack Obama gave his first press conference Since NOVEMBER, a day after Eric Holder's "Alice in Wonderland" speech. and no question was asked by any member of the press on the subject of Obama's claim to a right to "kill his own people" outside the authority of any constitutionally recognized, or even publicly published procedure exclusive to the executive branch of the United States government.:

You can read the transcript 0f the Obama press conference here:


It is now no longer possible to reside in this country and maintain self respect, and almost every indication is that it is not worth risking life and limb to attempt to turn back what has happened, and that is the least that it would take. Judging by the reaction to these developments, it is not worth attempting to save the constitution because the people obviously seem willing to surrender all authority to the tyrant, the opposite of the purpose of the constitution and the concerns that formed the intent of those who authored it.

Edited by Tom Scully

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I actually agree with Tom that the “targeted killing” policy is morally objectionable the notion that this makes the Obama “more or less indistinguishable morally from” the Hitler regime is absurd hyperbole, worse he arrogantly calls those who differ “sheeple” who are NOT “observant, sane individuals”.

So if he really feels that way why does he do anything about it besides posting on the EF? Should he be organizing some sort of White Rose resistance group?

Worse he continues to flaunt forum rules by posting on this thread in a section of the forum where it is totally off topic. How can he enforce the forum rules when he doesn’t follow them himself? Speaking of which why don’t any of the forums mods/admins move this thread? Do the rules NOT apply to them?

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Guest Robert Morrow

I also agree that the extra judicial killing of American citizens is morally repugnant.

And I agree that this thread needs to be moved out of the JFK assassination research section ASAP, because it is off topic.


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looks like i am in the minority on this. What President Obama did was right. al-Awlaki & Kahn threaten to do terrorist attacks on their fellow American Citizens. In that since they foreated that Citizenship and became targets for attack themselves. I knew i will get alot of feed back on this. I am ready for that.

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looks like i am in the minority on this. What President Obama did was right. al-Awlaki & Kahn threaten to do terrorist attacks on their fellow American Citizens. In that since they foreated that Citizenship and became targets for attack themselves. I knew i will get alot of feed back on this. I am ready for that.

So- if you yourself threaten to attack another American, you feel that your Citizenship as an American is forfeit? The CIA should be able to blow you away from a distance if they "think" you have threatened another American, with no trial?

Isn't this exactly the reason we have a Constitution and Bill of Rights, to keep our rights to a fair trial, and the "decisions" that effect us spread out into the hands of three different parts of the Government, so that no one group or person can decide our fate?

Since you are ready for the feedback, I'd enjoy hearing your careful exploration of what you just said. And President Obama didn't "do" this. He listened to people in the shadows working outside the Constitution make the judgement that these persons were guilty of a crime, and with no trial, he gave the same persons permission to then execute from the shadows at a distance the accused American, who was offered no defense council, had no opportunity to speak in their own defense, and who is a member of no country we are at war with.

What the President did was "right"? Have we fallen so far into fascist like control that just being the "leader" now makes anything he does fine, because the "leader" happens to be the American President?

In my opinion, we need to start thinking with our brains, and not hide behind the American Flag letting some sick, misplaced nationalistic 21st century sense of manifest destiny lead to a gestapo run state- which is exactly what is happening with these recent events.

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Al-Awlaki's name came up in a dozen terrorism plots in the U.S., UK, and Canada. The cases included suicide bombers in the 2005 London bombings, radical Islamic terrorists in the 2006 Toronto terrorism case, radical Islamic terrorists in the 2007 Fort Dix attack plot, the jihadist killer in the 2009 Little Rock military recruiting office shooting, and the 2010 Times Square bomber. In each case the suspects were devoted to al-Awlaki's message, which they listened to on laptops, audio clips, and CDs

al-Awlaki had contacts with Nidal Malik Hasan the fort hood shooter here is what he said about Nidal Malik Hasan

Nidal Hassan is a hero.... The U.S. is leading the war against terrorism, which in reality is a war against Islam..... Nidal opened fire on soldiers who were on their way to be deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan. How can there be any dispute about the virtue of what he has done? In fact the only way a Muslim could Islamically justify serving as a soldier in the U.S. army is if his intention is to follow the footsteps of men like Nidal.

The fact that fighting against the U.S. army is an Islamic duty today cannot be disputed. No scholar with a grain of Islamic knowledge can defy the clear cut proofs that Muslims today have the right—­rather the duty­—to fight against American tyranny. Nidal has killed soldiers who were about to be deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan in order to kill Muslims. The American Muslims who condemned his actions have committed treason against the Muslim Ummah and have fallen into hypocrisy.... May Allah grant our brother Nidal patience, perseverance, and steadfastness, and we ask Allah to accept from him his great heroic act. Ameen

Al-Awlaki and Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the suspected al-Qaeda attempted bomber of Northwest Airlines Flight 253 on December 25, 2009, had contacts according to a number of sources. In January 2010, CNN reported that U.S. "security sources" said that there is concrete evidence that al-Awlaki was Abdulmutallab's recruiter and one of his trainers, and met with him prior to the attack.[150] In February 2010, al-Awlaki admitted in an interview published in al-Jazeera that he taught and corresponded with Abdulmutallab, but denied having ordered the attack.[151][152][153]

Representative Pete Hoekstra, the senior Republican on the House Intelligence Committee, said officials in the Obama administration and officials with access to law enforcement information told him the suspect "had contact [with al-Awlaki

In 2010, cartoonist Molly Norris at Seattle Weekly had to stop publishing, and at the suggestion of the FBI change her name, move, and go into hiding due to a Fatwā calling for her death issued by al-Awlaki, after Everybody Draw Mohammed Day

The Guardian and The Daily Telegraph reported that U.S. and British counter-terrorism officials believe that al-Awlaki was behind the cargo plane PETN bombs that were sent from Yemen to Chicago in October 2010.

When you have a person like Al-Awlaki calling for the dead of Americans like Molly Norris that is when he gave up his rights as a U.S Citizen

Some of the terrorist attacks in which he help do or inspired others to do is a act of war.

Basically he declared War on his own County and he did not care who was killed.

What would you do? You have some American like Al-Awaki is hiding in some county calling for the death of his fellow Americans and training people to do that? Do say we will ketch you and try to you on trial. Al awail he is out there still training and spreading his words to kill his fellow Americans. no telling how many more will die before you can get your hands on him. Would you want to take that chance?

Or with one missile strike he is no longer spreading his hate.

You decide The Chance more will die or his death

Edited by Mark Wengler

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What would you do? You have some American like Al-Awaki is hiding in some county calling for the death of his fellow Americans and training people to do that? Do say we will ketch you and try to you on trial. Al awail he is out there still training and spreading his words to kill his fellow Americans. no telling how many more will die before you can get your hands on him. Would you want to take that chance?


simple, blow the miserable pr**k away! Good riddance to bad rubbage!

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My feelings are actually mixed on this. I think such killings are justified but only in extraordinary circumstances when apprehending the target is not a viable option and there is compelling evidence that leaving them free will lead to the deaths of innocent civilians. Besides the the moral questions one problem is that others will take the place of those killed. I guess in Tom's wrapped view that makes me no better than Borman and Goring.

Edited by Len Colby

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Me personally i would say no Len. You have a right to voice your opinion as everyone here does.

These two people ( I use that word people loosely ) were beyond the reach of us getting them and bringing them to trail. Yes that law does worry me.

But there are times when such things need to be done in that way. I hope that this is very far and few that things are done in such a matter. I would rather see such persons brought to trial and have their fate decided there.

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Me personally i would say no Len. You have a right to voice your opinion as everyone here does.

These two people ( I use that word people loosely ) were beyond the reach of us getting them and bringing them to trail. Yes that law does worry me.

But there are times when such things need to be done in that way. I hope that this is very far and few that things are done in such a matter. I would rather see such persons brought to trial and have their fate decided there.

I was being sarcastic, Tom said, "When it finally sinks in to the majority of the sheeple that the United States is under the control of volk who are more or less indistinguishable morally from the accused in the Nuremberg trials, it will probably be a tad too late to exit the country all that easily."

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Guest Tom Scully

America has become such an idiocracy that, at this point, I think you could probably get 35% of the people to support the president's right to randomly track down American citizen "terrorists" in their own American homes and assassinate them. Nothing surprises me about the American police state now. The same television networks and big newspapers that have lied repeatedly about the JFK assassination and countless other issues should have zero crediblity with any knowledgable American. Thus, it's meaningless for us to hear talking heads describe someone as a "bad guy" or part of Al Queda or whatever. We don't trust these people about anything. To me, it's akin to trusting the likes of Chris Matthews on the JFK assassination.

If someone had suggested a scenario such as this as recently as the mid-1970s, when virtually the entire Democratic party, at least, was firmly oppposed to assassinating even the worst foreign leaders, they'd have been ignored, ridiculed and promptly gone back into the shadows. No self-respecting politician would have dared to support the killing of an American citizen in a foreign land, no matter what he was alleged to have done. Now, we have "liberals" revelling in this atrocious, unconstitutional, immoral act of the Obama administration. Where have all the civil libertarians gone? Is there no one left in this country who knows the simple difference between right

and wrong?

Thankfully, more and more young people are seeing through the false left-right paradigm. They don't get their news from television, and just the basic usage of a truly free medium like the internet has opened up many, many minds to what is really going on. The Wall Street protesters are just the beginning- you will see more of these kinds of protests until either the police state ups the ante, and just starts murderering people in cold blood, or enough Americans jump start their sleeping consciences and realize just how awful those who lead us have become.

I agree completely with Tom Scully, of course, on this issue. It's mind boggling to me how anyone can support what the Obama administration did. Murder by the state, without any writ of habeous corpus, is about as immoral as something can get in this world. And we have the nerve to call leaders of other countries war criminals and dictators.

Anyone who has followed the Arab revolutions knows that they all started out small - even in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya and Syria, usually only a few hundred or a few dozen peaceful protesters, who only got popular support after the police state cracked down. This is what happened at Wall Street, and even at on a Youtube demonstration of a group who opened a ten cent lemonade stand in front of the Capitol, and the first act of violence was by a women police officer who tried to prevent a cameraman from filming them making their arrests.

If you think you live under a tyrant in a police state, you don't know what a tyrant or a police state is. To learn, google Youtube newscasts from Bahrain or Syria, where the revolution was started by children, not yet teenagers who wrote graffiti on the walls and were then arrested and tortured.

As for the American Al-Qaeda in Yemen getting hit by a preditor, they are the ones who declared war on us.

And I agree with this judge's legal determination.

Of course now Obama is also a possible target for such assassinations, but he won't be killed by those Al Qaeda guys already taken down.

Thanks to Jim Harwood for calling attention to this legal case, even though I disagree with him.


A federal judge on Tuesday dismissed a challenge to the Obama administration's targeted-killing program, meaning the U.S. can continue to go after a Yemeni-American cleric whom it blames for terrorist plots.......


A little more than 180 days since I first noted Obama's first full day as a tyrant, his hypocrisy seems to know no bounds. This is

a man leading a presidential administration which blocked even any civil redress in court for a Canadian man intentionally sent by

U.S. agents acting under orders of the Bush administration to Syria to be tortured by cooperative Syrian government personnel

for the purpose of facilitating interrogation by U.S. government intelligence agents. Today Obama issued an edict against repressive Syrian and Iranian authorities that seem to emulate similar U.S. official activities against U.S. citizens, but not yet as openly, aggressive, or lethal. In the U.S. the failure to recognize and to push back against the repressive preparations and potential of the newly tyrannical executive is obscuring an in depth comparison.

I expect enough Americans will keep their blinders in place long enough into the future to make the shelling of residential neirghborhoods in this country by security forces unnecessary. Tyranny will grow in the U.S. while resistance to it suffers death by a thousand cuts. Even I will probably be surprised by the sustained enthusiasm of so many who are boosters of the new authority!


Thursday, March 22, 2012

The NSA’s New Secret Spy Hub

This hour, On Point: Surveillance, domestic surveillance, and the super spy center going up in the desert.

-Tom Ashbrook


Steve Fidel, a reporter for The Deseret News and KSL radio and former editor of deseretnews.com. You can see photos of the new facility from the Deseret News here.

James Bamford, author of The Shadow Factory: The Ultra-Secret NSA from 9/11 to the Eavesdropping on America. His recent article in Wired magazine on the NSA’s new facility in Utah is here.

From Tom’s Reading List

Wired “Under construction by contractors with top-secret clearances, the blandly named Utah Data Center is being built for the National Security Agency. A project of immense secrecy, it is the final piece in a complex puzzle assembled over the past decade. Its purpose: to intercept, decipher, analyze, and store vast swaths of the world’s communications as they zap down from satellites and zip through the underground and undersea cables of international, foreign, and domestic networks.”......


23 April 2012

Obama Bans Electronic Aid to Iran and Syria -- Executive Order 13606





- - - - - - -





By the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, including the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (50 U.S.C. 1701 et seq.) (IEEPA), the National Emergencies Act (50 U.S.C. 1601 et seq.), section 212(f) of the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952, as amended (8 U.S.C. 1182(f)), and section 301 of title 3, United States Code,

I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, hereby determine that the commission of serious human rights abuses against the people of Iran and Syria by their governments, facilitated by computer and network disruption, monitoring, and tracking by those governments, and abetted by entities in Iran and Syria that are complicit in their governments’ malign use of technology for those purposes, threaten the national security and foreign policy of the United States. The Governments of Iran and Syria are endeavoring to rapidly upgrade their technological ability to conduct such activities. Cognizant of the vital importance of providing technology that enables the Iranian and Syrian people to freely communicate with each other and the outside world, as well as the preservation, to the extent possible, of global telecommunications supply chains for essential products and services to enable the free flow of information, the measures in this order are designed primarily to address the need to prevent entities located in whole or in part in Iran and Syria from facilitating or committing serious human rights abuses. In order to take additional steps with respect to the national emergencies declared in Executive Order 12957 of March 15, 1995, as relied upon for additional steps in subsequent Executive Orders, and in Executive Order 13338 of May 11, 2004, as modified in scope and relied upon for additional steps in subsequent Executive Orders, and to address the situation described above, I hereby order:

Section 1.

(a) All property and interests in property that are in the United States, that hereafter come within the United States, or that are or hereafter come within the possession or control of any United States person, including any foreign branch, of the following persons are blocked and may not be transferred, paid, exported, withdrawn, or otherwise dealt in: (i) the persons listed in the Annex to this order; and

(ii) any person determined by the Secretary of the Treasury, in consultation with or at the recommendation of the Secretary of State:

(A) to have operated, or to have directed the operation of, information and communications technology that facilitates computer or network disruption, monitoring, or tracking that could assist in or enable serious human rights abuses by or on behalf of the Government of Iran or the Government of Syria;

(B) to have sold, leased, or otherwise provided, directly or indirectly, goods, services, or technology to Iran or Syria likely to be used to facilitate computer or network disruption, monitoring, or tracking that could assist in or enable serious human rights abuses by or on behalf of the Government of Iran or the Government of Syria;........


Monday, Apr 23, 2012 09:53 AM EDT

The Supreme Court is asked to decide if governnment officials can be held accountable for torturing a US citizen

By Glenn Greenwald

Two of the most under-discussed afflictions in American political life are inter-related: (1) the heinous, inhumane treatment of prisoners on American soil (often, though certainly not exclusively, Muslim political prisoners), and (2) the virtually complete abdication by subservient federal courts in the post-9/11 era of their duty to hold Executive Branch officials accountable for unconstitutional and otherwise illegal acts in the War on Terror context. Those two disgraceful American trends are vividly illustrated by juxtaposing two events, which I happened to be reminded of yesterday while looking for something else; first, from a January, 27, 2007, article in The Washington Post:

The prime minister of Canada
apologized Friday to Maher Arar and agreed to give $9 million in compensation to the Canadian Arab
, who was spirited by U.S. agents to Syria and tortured there after being falsely named as a terrorism suspect.

Arar, 36, a former computer engineer who was detained while changing planes at a New York airport in 2002 and imprisoned in a Syrian dungeon for 10 months, said after the announcement that he “feels proud as a Canadian”. . . .

“We cannot go back and fix the injustice that occurred to Mr. Arar,” Prime Minister Stephen Harper said in issuing the formal apology in Ottawa. “However, we can make changes to lessen the likelihood that something like this will ever happen again.”
The head of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police resigned over the affair, and the government has pledged to increase oversight of its intelligence agencies. . . .

The financial compensation settles a claim Arar made against the government for having provided exaggerated and false information to the United States that identified him as a terrorist suspect. Harper said the amount “is within this government’s realistic assessment of what Mr. Arar would have won in a lawsuit.” His attorneys also were awarded about $870,000 in legal fees.

“The evidence is clear that Mr. Arar has been treated unjustly. He should not be on a watch list,” Harper said.

And then this Christian Science Monitor article from June 14, 2010:

A Canadian citizen has
lost his bid to hold US officials accountable
for their decision to label him an Al Qaeda suspect and deport him to Syria where he was held without charge for a year and allegedly tortured during US-directed interrogations.

The US Supreme Court on Monday declined to take up the case of Maher Arar, who was born in Syria but had lived in Canada since his teens. . . .

Arar filed a lawsuit in the US seeking to hold American officials accountable for their actions. . . . To date, the
US government position on Arar has been to insist that Arar has no legal right to seek to hold American officials accountable for his ordeal.

In denying review of Arar’s case, the high court lets stand a 7 to 4 ruling by the full Second US Circuit Court of Appeals in New York. That court found tha
t because of “special factors” involving national security, Arar’s lawsuit should be dismissed

The reason that’s so striking even several years later is it shows just how corruptly deferential American federal courts are to the Executive Branch when it comes to Muslims. One of the most amazing statistics of the last decade: not a single War on Terror victim — not one, whether foreign or American — has been permitted to proceed in an American court in an effort to obtain compensation for illegal treatment by the U.S. Government; instead, American courts have unanimously dismissed those cases at the outset, without reaching their substance. Even when everyone knows and admits that the U.S. Government abducted a totally innocent person and shipped him off to Syria to be tortured, as is true for Arar, American federal judges shut the courthouse door in his face, accepting the claims of the Bush and Obama DOJs that to allow the victim to obtain justice for what was done to him would be to risk the disclosure of vital “state secrets.” They accepted this Kafkaesque secrecy claim even after the Government of Canada published to the world a comprehensive report detailing what happened to Arar......

In terms of gross travesties, it’s difficult to top the federal court treatment of Maher Arar. But the judicial treatment of U.S. citizen Jose Padilla comes close. Padilla was detained in 2002 and publicly accused by Attorney General John Ashcroft of being a “Dirty Bomber.” But rather than accuse him of any crimes in a court, the Bush administration declared him to be an “enemy combatant,” put him in a military brig in South Carolina for the next two-and-a-half years without charges, prevented him from any contact with the outside world (including even a lawyer), and subjected him to severe torture. When they finally indicted him almost three years later — only in order to prevent the U.S. Supreme Court from ruling on whether the President is permitted to imprison U.S. citizens on American soil without charges — they did not charge him with anything having to do with a “dirty bomb,” but instead filed glaringly trumped-up charges based almost entirely on a membership application he filled out to join Al Qaeda (he was not charged with any plots to engage in violence). He was convicted and sentenced to 17 years in prison on top of the 5 years he was already encaged, only to have the Obama DOJ successfully appeal and convince an appellate court that the sentence was too lenient.

For the last several years, Padilla, represented by the ACLU, has been attempting to hold accountable six Bush officials responsible for his torture by suing them for violations of his Constitutional rights. But, needless to say, the Obama DOJ — led by the President who, when he announced his candidacy, proclaimed that “the era of Scooter Libby justice will be over” — has insisted that, unless Congress explicitly decrees otherwise, these officials are immune from lawsuits even when they knowingly authorize the torture of an American citizen on U.S. soil. And federal courts — also needless to say — have thus far accepted that claim and barred Padilla from suing. Today, the ACLU filed a brief asking the U.S. Supreme Court to review these dismissals, and it’s worth highlight a couple parts of that brief. Here, for instance, is the question which the ACLU is asking the Supreme Court to answer:


In what kind of country is that even a question? Even more so, in what kind of country do courts answer that question in the negative, as two separate American courts thus far have? As the ACLU explained, it is literally difficult to imagine a more extreme expression of full-scale immunity for government officials than shielding them even when they engage in conduct this patently illegal:


When it comes to shielding grave War on Terror crimes from all accountability, most critics have focused — rightfully so — on President Obama’s decree that even Bush-era torturers should not be subjected to criminal investigation. But that’s been only one of the many ways that the Obama administration has entrenched the consummately dangerous principle that even the most notorious crimes are beyond the reach of the law when committed by high-level government officials. But none of those ignominious efforts would succeed if the U.S. federal judiciary had even a fraction of the courage and integrity which the Founders envisioned life-tenured judges would exercise.....


Lyle Denniston Reporter

Posted Mon, April 23rd, 2012 5:08 pm

Email Lyle

Bio & Post Archive »

Padilla torture claim reaches the Court

The highest-profile U.S. citizen taken captive as a suspected terrorist — Jose Padilla — returned to the Supreme Court on Monday, in a bid to get the federal courts to review the government’s power to wage its “war on terrorism” through prolonged detention inside the U.S., under harsh conditions and without criminal charges. Joined by his mother, Estela Lebron, Padilla asked the Court to decide one issue: may federal officials be sued for damages “for the torture of an American citizen on American soil.” (A docket number has not yet been assigned to Lebron, et al., v. Rumsfeld, et al.)

The petition is a challenge to a ruling in January by the Fourth Circuit Court, declaring that the U.S. military policies of detention and interrogation cannot be challenged in a claim for damages in federal court. (A post on this blog discussing the Circuit Court ruling can be read here.) The new petition is here. .....

.....Claims of torture have not fared well in most lower courts or in the Supreme Court, and the Justices have yet to rule directly on any such claim arising out of government policies that followed the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. Those policies, begun under President George W. Bush, have been continued, with some changes, by the Obama Administration. In most such cases, the Justices have simply denied review or barred such a lawsuit either on procedural grounds or out of fear of intrusion into national security.

The Fourth Circuit, in its ruling against Padilla’s claims, said the policies the government had adopted since 9/11 carried “profound implications for national security,” but whether they were the right policies to counter terrorism is for the political branches to ponder, not the courts. It called a claim for money damages against former leaders of the Pentagon and other military officers a “blunt deterrent.”

In technical legal terms, what Padilla and his mother are seeking is a right to sue under the terms of a 41-year-old ruling that had nothing to do with terrorism policies: the Supreme Court decision in Bivens v. Six Unknown Agents. That decision said that, in some circumstances, an individual could bring a lawsuit directly under the Constitution, when no other remedy was available, for a claimed violation of individual rights. Since that case came down in 1971, however, the Court has only twice allowed such a lawsuit to go forward, and the last time it did so was in 1980. The last such ruling was in the case of Carlson v. Green.

Padilla’s petition is tied directly to both the Bivens and Carlson rulings. His claims, the filing said, “fall squarely within the heartland of Bivens and Carlson. As in Carlson, [Padilla alleges] mistreatment while in federal custody. And as in both Bivens and Carlson, the traditional circumstances for permitting Bivens relief are plainly present: petitioners seek to hold individual federal officers accountable for grave abuses of a prisoner in federal custody, and there is no adequate alternative remedy.”

The Fourth Circuit, the document added, “did not dispute that if military agents entered a civilian jail, seized a man from the civilian justice system, transported him to a military prison, and subjected him to a program of extreme interrogations, sensory deprivation, and punishment, the victim of these practices would have a cause of action under Bivens and Carlson. Rather, the court apparently believed that the victim lost that cause of action as soon as the Executive unilaterally labeled him an ‘enemy combatant.’”

But, it added, “a unilateral change in label cannot effect a change in law. A contrary rule would allow the Executive to be the architect of its own immunity, and would effectively overrule Bivens in the name of limiting its reach. Viewed properly, the Fourth Circuit’s decision was not a refusal to recognize a ‘new’ Bivens remedy, but rather an impermissible decision not to give effect to an old one.”

Padilla was held in a Navy brig in Charleston, S.C., for nearly four years, after he had been designated an “enemy combatant” on direct order of President George Bush. He had been seized at O’Hare Airport in May 2002 after returning from overseas. He was held prisoner on the theory that he was a “material witness” in the government investigation of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. But he was taken out of civilian custody on President Bush’s orders in June 2002, and taken to the South Carolina brig......


Saturday, Apr 21, 2012 08:03 AM EDT

Surveillance State evils

35 years ago, a leading liberal Senator issued a grave warning about allowing the NSA to spy domestically VIDEO

By Glenn Greenwald

“Th[e National Security Agency's] capability at any time could be turned around on the American people, and
no American would have any privacy left, such is the capability to monitor everything:
telephone conversations, telegrams, it doesn’t matter. There would be no place to hide. [if a dictator ever took over, the N.S.A.] could enable it to impose total tyranny, and
there would be no way to fight back.


That dramatic warning comes not from an individual who is typically held up as a symbol of anti-government paranoia. Rather, it was issued by one of the most admired and influential politicians among American liberals in the last several decades: Frank Church of Idaho, the 4-term U.S. Senator who served from 1957 to 1981. He was, among other things, one of the Senate’s earliest opponents of the Vietnam War, a former Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and the Chairman of the Committee (bearing his name) that in the mid-1970s investigated the widespread surveillance abuses committed under every President since FDR (that was the investigation that led to the enactment of FISA, the criminal law prohibiting the Executive Branch from intercepting the communications of American citizens without first obtaining a warrant from a court: the law which the Bush administration got caught violating and which, in response, was gutted by the Democratic-led Congress in 2008, with the support of then-Senator Obama; the abuses uncovered by the Church Committee also led to the enactment of further criminal prohibitions on the cooperation by America’s telecoms in any such illegal government spying, prohibitions that were waived away when the same 2008 Congress retroactively immunized America’s telecom giants from having done so).

At the time of the Church Committee, it was the FBI that conducted most domestic surveillance. Since its inception, the NSA was strictly barred from spying on American citizens or on American soil. That prohibition was centrally ingrained in the mindset of the agency. Church issued that above-quoted warning out of fear that, one day, the NSA’s massive, unparalleled surveillance capabilities would be directed inward, at the American people. Until the Church Committee’s investigation, most Americans, including its highest elected officials, knew almost nothing about the NSA (it was referred to as No Such Agency by its employees). As James Bamford wrote about Church’s reaction to his own findings about the NSA’s capabilities, “he came away stunned.” At the time, Church also said: “I don’t want to see this country ever go across the bridge. I know the capacity that is there to make tyranny total in America, and we must see to it that this agency and all agencies that possess this technology operate within the law and under proper supervision, so that we never cross over that abyss. That is the abyss from which there is no return.”

Of course, that bridge has long ago been crossed, without even much discussion, let alone controversy. In the immediate aftermath of 9/11, George Bush ordered the NSA to spy on the communications of Americans on American soil, and they’ve been doing it ever since, with increasing aggression and fewer and fewer constraints. That development is but one arm in the creation of an American Surveillance State that is, literally, ubiquitous — one that makes it close to impossible for American citizens to communicate or act without detection from the U.S. Government — a state of affairs Americans have long been taught since childhood is a hallmark of tyranny. Such are the times — in both America generally and the Democratic Party in particular — that those who now echo the warnings issued 35 years ago by Sen. Church (when surveillance was much more restrained, legally and technologically) are scorned by all Serious People as radical hysterics.

Yesterday, Democracy Now had an extraordinary program devoted to America’s Surveillance State. The show had three guests, each of whose treatment by the U.S. Government reflects how invasive, dangerous and out-of-control America’s Surveillance State has become:

William Binney:
he worked at the NSA for almost 40 years, and resigned in October, 2001, in protest of the NSA’s turn to domestic spying. Binney immediately went to the House Intelligence Committee to warn them of the illegal spying the NSA was doing, and that resulted in nothing. In July, 2007 — while then-Attorney General Alberto Gonzales was testifying before the Senate about Bush’s warrantless NSA spying program — Binney’s home was invaded by a dozen FBI agents, who pointed guns at him, in an obvious effort to intimidate him out of telling the Senate the falsehoods and omissions in Gonzales’ testimony about NSA domestic spying (another NSA whistleblower, Thomas Drake, had his home searched several months later, and was subsequently prosecuted by the Obama DOJ — unsuccessfully — for his whistleblowing).

Jacob Appelbaum
: an Internet security expert and hacker, he is currently at the University of Washington and engaged in some of the world’s most important work in the fight for Internet freedom. He’s a key member of the
, which is devoted to enabling people around the world to use the Internet with complete anonymity: so as to thwart government surveillance and to prevent nation-based Internet censorship. In 2010, he was also identified as a spokesman for WikiLeaks.
Rolling Stone
“The Most Dangerous Man in Cyberspace,” writing: “In a sense, he’s a bizarro version of Mark Zuckerberg: If Facebook’s ambition is to ‘make the world more open and connected,’ Appelbaum has dedicated his life to fighting for anonymity and privacy. . . . ’I don’t want to live in a world where everyone is watched all the time,’ he says. ‘I want to be left alone as much as possible. I don’t want a data trail to tell a story that isn’t true’.”

For the last two years, Appelbaum has been
upon his return to the country, including having his laptops and cellphone seized — all without a search warrant, of course — and never returned. The U.S. Government has issued
to Internet providers demanding they provide information about
. He’s never been charged with, let alone convicted of, any crime.

Laura Poitras:
she is the filmmaker about whom I
. After producing an Oscar-nominated film on the American occupation of Iraq, followed by a documentary about U.S. treatment of Islamic radicals in Yemen, she has been detained, searched, and interrogated every time she has returned to the U.S. She, too, has had her laptop and cell phone seized without a search warrant, and her reporters’ notes repeatedly copied. This harassment has intensified as she works on her latest film about America’s Surveillance State and the war on whistleblowers, which includes — among other things — interviews with NSA whistleblowers such as Binney and Drake.

So just look at what happens to people in the U.S. if they challenge government actions in any meaningful way — if they engage in any meaningful dissent. We love to tell ourselves that there are robust political freedoms and a thriving free political press in the U.S. because you’re allowed to have an MSNBC show or blog in order to proclaim every day how awesome and magnanimous the President of the United States is and how terrible his GOP political adversaries are —
cutting and
— or to go on Fox News and do the opposite. But people who are engaged in actual dissent, outside the tiny and narrow permissible boundaries of pom-pom waving for one of the two political parties — those who are focused on the truly significant acts which the government and its owners are doing in secret — are subjected to this type of intimidation, threats, surveillance, and climate of fear, all without a whiff of illegal conduct (as even
The New York Times
‘ most celebrated investigative reporter, James Risen,

Whether a country is actually free is determined not by how well-rewarded its convention-affirming media elites are and how ignored its passive citizens are but by how it treats its dissidents, those posing authentic challenges to what the government does. The stories of the three
Democracy Now
guests — and so many others — provide that answer loudly and clearly.

Beyond the stories of these guests, I want to highlight two particularly significant exchanges from yesterday’s show (and I really urge you to find the time this weekend to watch the whole thing; it’s embedded below or, alternatively, can be viewed
). First is this:

And the differences in the [bush and Obama] administrations?

Actually, I think the
surveillance has increased
. In fact, I would suggest that they’ve assembled on the order of
20 trillion transactions about U.S. citizens with other U.S. citizens

How many?

Twenty trillion.

And you’re saying that this surveillance has increased? Not only the—


—targeting of whistleblowers, like your colleagues, like people like Tom Drake, who are actually indicted under the Obama administration—


—more times—the number of people who have been indicted are more than all presidents combined in the past.

Right. And I think it’s to silence what’s going on. But the point is, the data that’s being assembled is about everybody. And from that data, then they can target anyone they want . . . That, by the way, estimate only
was involving phone calls and emails
. It didn’t involve any queries on the net or any assembles—other—any financial transactions or credit card stuff, if they’re assembling that. I do not know that, OK.

That sounds like a number so large as to be fantastical, but it’s entirely consistent with what
The Washington Post
, in its
, reported: “
Every day
, collection systems at the National Security Agency
intercept and store
1.7 billion e-mails, phone calls and other types of communications
.” Read that sentence again and I defy anyone to deny that the U.S. has become the type of full-fledged, limitless Surveillance State about which Sen. Church warned.

Note, too, how this weapon has been not just maintained, but — as Binney said — aggressively expanded under President Obama. Obama’s unprecedented war on whistleblowing has been, in large part, designed to shield from the American public any knowledge of just how invasive this Surveillance State has become. Two Obama-loyal Democratic Senators — Ron Wyden of Oregon and Mark Udall of Colorado — have spent two full years
is “interpreting” its spying powers under the Patriot Act in ways so “twisted” and broad that it would shock the American public if it learned of what was being done, and have even
of actively misleading the public in material ways about its spying powers (unlike brave whistleblowers who have risked their own interests to bring corruption and illegality to the public’s attention — Binney, Drake, Bradley Manning, etc — Wyden and Udall have failed to tell the public about this illegal spying (even though they could do so on the Senate floor and be immune from prosecution) because they apparently fear losing their precious seat on the Intelligence Committee, but what’s the point of having a seat on the Intelligence Committee if you render yourself completely impotent even when you learn of systematic surveillance lawbreaking?).

None of this should be surprising: Obama — in
of his primary campaign pledge — infamously voted for the FISA Amendments Act of 2008 that not only immunized lawbreaking telecoms, but also legalized much of the NSA domestic spying program Bush had ordered in the aftermath of 9/11. At the time, he and his acolytes
that Obama was doing so only so that he could win the election and then use his power to fix these spying abuses, yet another Obama-glorifying claim that has turned out to be laughable in its unreliability. The Obama administration also advocated for full-scale renewal of the Patriot Act last year, and it was Harry Reid who
for urging reforms to that law by accusing him of helping the Terrorists with his interference.

But whereas massive Surveillance State abuses were once a feigned concern of progressives, they now no longer are. Just last week,
The New York Times
about the proposed massive expansion of Internet spying powers in Britain with this sentence: “The George W. Bush team must be consumed with envy” — because, of course, Barack Obama has no interest in such things......


Then there’s this: Appelbaum describing the various government efforts to intrude into his private discussions and Internet activities, all without a warrant:

But in the period of time since they’ve started detaining me [at airports], around a dozen-plus times. I’ve been detained a number of times. The first time I was actually detained by the Immigration and Customs Enforcement, I was put into a special room, where they frisked me, put me up against the wall. One guy cupped me in a particularly uncomfortable way. Another one held my wrists. They took my cell phones.
I’m not really actually able to talk about what happened to those next.


JACOB APPELBAUM: Because we don’t live in a free country. And if I did, I guess I could tell you about it, right?
And they took my laptop, but they gave it back. They were a little surprised it didn’t have a hard drive. I guess that threw them for a loop. And, you know, then they interrogated me, denied me access to a lawyer. And when they did the interrogation, they has a member of the U.S. Army, on American soil. And they refused to let me go. They tried—you know, they tried their usual scare tactics. So they sort of implied that if I didn’t make a deal with them, that I’d be sexually assaulted in prison, you know, which is the thing that they do these days as a method of punitive punishment, and they of course suggested that would happen.

How did they imply this?

Well, you know, they say, “You know, computer hackers like to think they’re all tough. But really, when it comes down to it, you don’t look like you’re going to do so good in prison.” You know, that kind of stuff.

And what was the main thrust of the questions they were asking you?

Well, they wanted to know about my political views. They wanted to know about my work in any capacity as a journalist, actually, the notion that I could be in some way associated with Julian.
They wanted, basically, to know any—

Julian Assange.

Julian Assange, the one and only. And they wanted—
they wanted, essentially, to ask me questions about the Iraq war, the Afghan war, what I thought politically. They didn’t ask me anything about terrorism. They didn’t ask me anything about smuggling or drugs or any of the customs things that you would expect customs to be doing. They didn’t ask me if I had anything to declare about taxes, for example, or about importing things. They did it purely for political reasons and to intimidate me, denied me a lawyer.
They gave me water, but refused me a bathroom, to give you an idea about what they were doing.

What happened to your Twitter account?

Well, the U.S. government, as I learned while I was in Iceland, actually, sent what’s called an administrative subpoena, or a 2703(d) order. And this is, essentially, less than a search warrant, and it asserts that you can get just the metadata and that the third party really doesn’t have a standing to challenge it, although in our case we were very lucky, in that we got to have—Twitter actually did challenge it, which was really wonderful. And we have been fighting this in court.

And without going into too much detail about the current court proceedings, we lost a stay recently, which says that Twitter has to give the data to the government. Twitter did, as I understand it, produce that data, I was told. And that metadata actually paints—you know, metadata and aggregate is content, and it paints a picture. So that’s all the IP addresses I logged in from. It’s all of the, you know, communications that are about my communications, which is Bill’s specialty, and he can, I’m sure, talk about how dangerous that metadata is.

What Appelbaum is referring to is the fact that the Patriot Act has decreed then when the U.S. Government demands information about an individual — all without a search warrant — the party who receives the demand is criminally prohibited from discussing that demand. That’s why Appelbaum can be targeted with such intimidating, constant and chilling invasions without any allegation of wrongdoing: because the powers of the Surveillance State are exercised almost entirely in the dark. That’s what makes it so significant that two Democratic Senators have been warning for two years now that these powers are being exercised far beyond what the statute permits, far beyond what the public can even imagine, and that the Obama DOJ is lying about it.

The domestic NSA-led Surveillance State which Frank Church so stridently warned about has obviously come to fruition. The way to avoid its grip is simply to acquiesce to the nation’s most powerful factions, to obediently remain within the permitted boundaries of political discourse and activism. Accepting that bargain enables one to maintain the delusion of freedom — “he who does not move does not notice his chains,” observed Rosa Luxemburg — but the true measure of political liberty is whether one is free to make a different choice.

FBI Admits It Used GPS Tracking on 250 People without Probable Cause

Posted on March 21, 2012 by emptywheel

NPR’s Carrie Johnson puts together the numbers on how many GPS trackers the FBI had to get warrants for after US v Jones held that you need a warrant to attach a GPS tracker to a car. And while she doesn’t state it this way, what the FBI basically admitted is that in 250 of the 3,000 cases where they had GPS units activated but no warrant–over 8% of the GPS devices in question–they lacked probable cause.

Before the Supreme Court ruling in late January, the FBI had about 3,000 GPS tracking devices in the field.

Government lawyers scrambled to get search warrants for weeks before the decision, working to convince judges they had probable cause to believe crimes were taking place.

But after the ruling, FBI officials tell NPR, agents still had to turn off 250 devices that they couldn’t turn back on.

FBI General Counsel Andrew Weissmann even admits to Johnson that they were using GPS tracking to get probable cause.

Weissmann says FBI agents in the field need clear rules. So, for now, he’s telling agents who are in doubt “to obtain a warrant to protect your investigation.”

But he says that’s not always possible.

“And the problem with that is that a search warrant requires probable cause to be shown and many of these techniques are things that you use in order to establish probable cause,” Weissmann says. “If you require probable cause for every technique, then you are making it very very hard for law enforcement.”

Now, I can understand why Weissmann and Robert Mueller would like to use GPS in the examples Mueller cited–where they have things like Internet statements and gun purchases.

But last I checked both of those things were constitutionally protected activities themselves.

So what the FBI’s reaction to Jones has really revealed is that it had been violating the Fourth Amendment protections of around 250 people to get around their First and Second Amendment protections.


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