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November 08 2013

BEN FRANKLIN WAS RIGHT ABOUT THE NSA

BEN FRANKLIN WAS RIGHT ABOUT THE NSA
http://ericmargolis.com/2013/11/ben-franklin-was-right-about-the-nsa

In 1975, I was invited to join the US Senate’s Church Committee that was formed after the Watergate scandals. Its goal was to investigate massive illegalities committed by the CIA, National Security Agency and FBI.

As a then staunch Republican, and having worked on President Nixon’s reelection campaign developing Mideast policy, I declined.

With the wisdom of hindsight, I should have joined the investigation.

Senator Frank Church warned: “ If this government ever became a tyrant, if a dictator ever took charge in this country, the technological capacity that the intelligence community has given the government could enable it to impose total tyranny, and there would be no way to fight back because the most careful effort to combine together in resistance to the government, no matter how privately it was done, is within the reach of the government to know. “

The Church Committee revealed Washington’s role in the assassinations of foreign leaders, CIA collaboration with the Mafia, wide scale subversion around the globe, mail and phone intercepts, spying on Americans by the US Army and intelligence services, collusion with right-wing terrorist groups like Gladio, and much, much more.

Edward Snowden’s revelations of NSA malfeasance have done much the same thing today. Both Church and Snowden were branded traitors by rightwing zealots and flag-wavers. Government security agencies were reined in for decades. But it’s now clear they are not only back to their old tricks, but are out of control.

October 20 2013

nsa Hacked Email Account of Mexican President - Slashdot

#nsa Hacked Email Account of Mexican President - Slashdot
http://yro.slashdot.org/story/13/10/20/1539210/nsa-hacked-email-account-of-mexican-president

"The National Security Agency (NSA ) of United States hacked into the Mexican president’s public email account and gained deep insight into policymaking and the political system. The news is likely to hurt ties between the US and Mexico. This operation, dubbed ’Flatliquid,’ is described in a document leaked by whistleblower Edward Snowden. Meanwhile U.S. President Barack Obama’s administration is urging the Supreme Court not to take up the first case it has received on controversial (...)

#mexique #prism

Qatar recovers sites hacked by pro-Assad group

#Qatar recovers sites hacked by pro-Assad group
http://english.al-akhbar.com/content/qatar-recovers-sites-hacked-pro-assad-group

Qatari authorities have restored several government websites attacked by hackers from the #Syrian_Electronic_Army, who support President Bashar al-Assad’s government, local media reported Sunday. Qatar’s Supreme Council of Information and Technology (ictQatar) said in a statement carried by local media that it has “recovered all government websites hacked on Saturday.” It said it is ready to “deal with any similar future operations.” read (...)

#syria #Top_News

October 04 2013

September 27 2013

A polluted process : Keystone XL, the State Department and conflicts of interest -

A polluted process: Keystone XL, the State Department and conflicts of interest - http://www.foe.org/news/blog/2013-09-a-polluted-process-keystone-xl-the-state-department

Pipeline proponents are hoping to force President Obama’s hand by short-circuiting the State Department’s ongoing review of the pipeline’s environmental impact. So far the White House is standing firm. A spokesman said: “The president has demonstrated his fidelity to the State Department finishing its review, as part of the transparent and rigorous process that will determine whether the pipeline is in the best interests of the United States. That’s how this merit-based determination will be made.”

But just how “transparent and rigorous” and “merit-based” has the review really been? The truth is that from Day 1, the State Department’s review of the pipeline has been polluted by conflicts of interest, insider lobbying and the heavy hand of Big Oil. A new infographic just released by Friends of the Earth and 350.org gives the details: To conduct the crucial evaluation of the pipeline’s environmental impacts, the State Department has repeatedly turned to contractors hand-picked by pipeline builder TransCanada. So it’s no wonder that the Canadian government, TransCanada, Congressional Republicans and the oil industry have all along all lavished praise on the State Department’s reviews of Keystone XL.

http://libcloud.s3.amazonaws.com/93/10/e/3266/FriendsoftheEarth_Timeline_FIN.jpg

September 25 2013

I lived to see the day when the Pope and the President of Iran are more doctrinally flexible than…

I lived to see the day when the Pope and the President of Iran are more doctrinally flexible than USA’s Republican Party.

September 24 2013

Twitter / AnneRenaut : Poignée de main historique ...

Twitter / AnneRenaut : Poignée de main historique ...
https://twitter.com/AnneRenaut/status/382573421848035328

Poignée de main historique France-Iran #UNGA via @franceonu

https://pbs.twimg.com/media/BU8qhnbCMAAGoUj.jpg

tandis que

Israeli Diplomats Mock Iran’s President Online
By ROBERT MACKEY
http://thelede.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/09/24/israeli-diplomats-mock-irans-president-online/?smid=tw-thelede&seid=auto&_r=0

On a day when President Obama told delegates at the United Nations that he welcomed the opportunity posed by diplomatic overtures from Iran’s new president, Israeli diplomats in Washington sounded a very different note online, mocking the moderate cleric as scarcely different from his predecessor, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

A message posted on the official Twitter page of the Israeli Embassy on Tuesday morning drew attention to a parody LinkedIn account for President Hassan Rouhani. The mock résumé of Mr. Rouhani’s career, filled with sarcastic asides, described him as “President of Iran, Expert Salesman, PR Professional, Nuclear Proliferation Advocate.”

September 16 2013

ANKARA WHISPERS - Who will elect the president ?

ANKARA WHISPERS - Who will elect the president?

http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/who-will-elect-the-president-.aspx?pageID=238&nID=54505&NewsCatID

In the political lobbies of Ankara, a different debate is ongoing for some time. This debate focuses on election method of the Presidential elections on August 2014 that will be at the top of our agenda after the local elections. The answer to the following question is being sought: “Will the Parliament or the people elect the President?”

According to Article 101 of the Constitution, the president will be elected by popular vote for the first time. Before October 21, 2007, the president was elected by the Parliament. The reason the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) have reached this stage was a major state crisis. In 2007, Prime Minister Erdoğan announced Abdullah Gül’s name for Çankaya in a party group meeting. On April 27, the first round of voting in the Parliament was held. Despite Gül’s receiving 357 votes, as a result of the argument initiated by then the public prosecutor Sabih Kanadoğlu that the quorum must be 367, upon opposition Republican People’s Party’s (CHP) filing an application, the Constitutional Court annulled the voting.

September 07 2013

Direct link between Assad and gas attack elusive for U.S.

Direct link between Assad and gas attack elusive for U.S.
http://mobile.reuters.com/article/idUSBRE98603A20130907?irpc=932

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - With the United States threatening to attack Syria, U.S. and allied intelligence services are still trying to work out who ordered the poison gas attack on rebel-held neighborhoods near Damascus.

No direct link to President Bashar al-Assad or his inner circle has been publicly demonstrated, and some U.S. sources say intelligence experts are not sure whether the Syrian leader knew of the attack before it was launched or was only informed about it afterward.

While U.S. officials say Assad is responsible for the chemical weapons strike even if he did not directly order it, they have not been able to fully describe a chain of command for the August 21 attack in the Ghouta area east of the Syrian capital.

It is one of the biggest gaps in U.S. understanding of the incident, even as Congress debates whether to launch limited strikes on Assad’s forces in retaliation.

...

A declassified French intelligence report describes a unit of the SSRC, known by the code name “Branch 450”, which it says is in charge of filling rockets or shells with chemical munitions in general.

U.S. and European security sources say this unit was likely involved in mixing chemicals for the August 21 attack and also may have played a more extensive role in preparing for it and carrying it out.

“BEST EVIDENCE”

Bruce Riedel, a former senior U.S. intelligence expert on the region and sometime advisor to the Obama White House, said that intelligence about the SSRC’s alleged role is the most telling proof the United States has at hand.

“The best evidence linking the regime to the attack at a high level is the involvement of SSRC, the science center that created the (chemical weapons) program and manages it. SSRC works for the President’s office and reports to him,” Riedel said.

Asia Times Online :: Obama dips toe in Syrian Rubicon

Asia Times Online :: Obama dips toe in Syrian Rubicon
http://www.atimes.com/atimes/World/WOR-01-040913.html
By M K Bhadrakumar , 4 septembre 2013

A leading international authority on the subject, Professor Jack Goldsmith at the Harvard Law School (who previously served as US Assistant Attorney General in the Office of Legal Counsel and also as Special Counsel to the Department of Defense, apart from being a member of the Hoover Institution Task Force on National Security and Law) warned on Sunday, “There is much more here [in the proposed AUMF] than at first meets the eye.”

In a detailed commentary for the Lawfare journal, the professor wrote:

It [AUMF] authorizes the President to use any element of the US Armed Forces and any method of force. It does not contain specific limits on targets - either in terms of the identity of the targets (eg the Syrian government, Syrian rebels, Hezbollah, Iran) or the geography of the targets.

Does the proposed AUMF authorize the President to take sides in the Syrian Civil War, or to attack Syrian rebels associated with al Qaeda, or to remove Assad from power? Yes, as long as the President determines that any of these entities has a (mere) connection to the use of WMD in the Syrian civil war, and that the use of force against one of them would prevent or deter the use or proliferation of WMD within, or to and from, Syria, or protect the US or its allies (eg Israel) against the (mere) threat posed by those weapons. It is very easy to imagine the President making such determinations with regard to Assad or one or more of the rebel groups.

Does the proposed AUMF authorize the President to use force against Iran or Hezbollah, in Iran or Lebanon ? Again, yes, as long as the President determines that Iran or Hezbollah has a (mere) connection to the use of WMD in the Syrian civil war, and the use of force against Iran or Hezbollah would prevent or deter the use or proliferation of WMD within, or to and from, Syria, or protect the US or its allies (eg Israel) against the (mere) threat posed by those weapons.

The proposed Syrian AUMF is worth a lot, for it would (in sum) permit the President to use military force against any target anywhere in the world (including Iran or Lebanon) as long as the President, in his discretion, determines the target has a connection to WMD in the Syrian civil war and the use of force has the purpose of preventing or deterring (broad concepts) the use or proliferation of WMDs in, to, or from Syria, or of protecting the US and its allies from the mere threat (again, a broad concept) of use or proliferation of WMDs connected to the Syrian conflict.

Congress needs to be careful about what it authorizes. [Italics as in original text.]

Verify chemical weapons use before unleashing the dogs of war | The Daily Caller

Verify chemical weapons use before unleashing the dogs of war | The Daily Caller
http://dailycaller.com/2013/08/29/verify-chemical-weapons-use-before-unleashing-the-dogs-of-war

The Obama administration has selectively used intelligence to justify military strikes on Syria, former military officers with access to the original intelligence reports say, in a manner that goes far beyond what critics charged the Bush administration of doing in the run-up to the 2003 Iraq war.

According to these officers, who served in top positions in the United States, Britain, France, Israel, and Jordan, a Syrian military communication intercepted by Israel’s famed Unit 8200 electronic intelligence outfit has been doctored so that it leads a reader to just the opposite conclusion reached by the original report.

[…]

According to the doctored report, the chemical attack was carried out by the 155th Brigade of the 4th Armored Division of the Syrian Army, an elite unit commanded by Maher al-Assad, the president’s brother.

However, the original communication intercepted by Unit 8200 between a major in command of the rocket troops assigned to the 155th Brigade of the 4th Armored Division, and the general staff, shows just the opposite.

The general staff officer asked the major if he was responsible for the chemical weapons attack. From the tone of the conversation, it was clear that “the Syrian general staff were out of their minds with panic that an unauthorized strike had been launched by the 155th Brigade in express defiance of their instructions,” the former officers say.

According to the transcript of the original Unit 8200 report, the major “hotly denied firing any of his missiles” and invited the general staff to come and verify that all his weapons were present.

Plus loin:

An Egyptian intelligence report describes a meeting in Turkey between military intelligence officials from Turkey and Qatar and Syrian rebels. One of the participants states, “there will be a game changing event on August 21st” that will “bring the U.S. into a bombing campaign” against the Syrian regime.

The chemical weapons strike on Moudhamiya, an area under rebel control, took place on August 21. “Egyptian military intelligence insists it was a combined Turkish/Qatar/rebel false flag operation,” said a source familiar with the report.

Pentagon Is Ordered to Expand Potential Targets in Syria With a Focus on Forces - NYTimes.com

Pentagon Is Ordered to Expand Potential Targets in Syria With a Focus on Forces - NYTimes.com
http://www.nytimes.com/2013/09/06/world/middleeast/pentagon-is-ordered-to-expand-potential-targets-in-syria-with-a-focus-on-fo

President Obama has directed the Pentagon to develop an expanded list of potential targets in Syria in response to intelligence suggesting that the government of President Bashar al-Assad has been moving troops and equipment used to employ chemical weapons while Congress debates whether to authorize military action.

September 05 2013

Onward Into Syria, Blindly : The New Yorker

Onward Into Syria, Blindly : The New Yorker
http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/johncassidy/2013/09/onward-into-syria-blindly.html?mbid=social_retweet

Four days on and President Obama’s gambit of going to Congress for approval of military action in Syria is working out pretty well for him. Senator John McCain, his opponent in the 2008 campaign, is standing shoulder to shoulder with him. Secretary of State John Kerry is busy making allusions to Munich, and the skeptics in the Pentagon are keeping their doubts to themselves. The pro-bombing side is clearly on top. Ranged against it, an unlikely alliance of Tea Party Republicans, liberal Democrats, and war-weary moderates is making little progress.

But while the war party may have the votes, the skeptics still have the stronger arguments.

Senate Panel Backs Resolution on Use of Force Against Syria - WSJ.com

Senate Panel Backs Resolution on Use of Force Against Syria - WSJ.com
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887324577304579054973488682120.html

Apparemment le feu vert du Sénat est compatible avec l’emploi d’une force plus grande,

The revised options under development, which reflect Pentagon concerns that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has dispersed his military equipment, include the use of Air Force bombers to supplement the four Navy destroyers armed with missiles that are deployed in the eastern Mediterranean. Initially, Pentagon planners said they didn’t intend to use aircraft in the proposed strikes

...

The Pentagon’s new planning stems from Mr. Assad moving equipment, including Russian-made helicopters, to bases around the country while the U.S. debates, a change that could require the Pentagon to use many more Tomahawk cruise missiles and other types of munitions than initially envisioned.

Moreover, U.S. officials say, Mr. Assad has moved aircraft and other equipment into hardened bunkers and shelters. In some cases, destroying these hardened targets, officials say, could require the use of multiple Tomahawks.

The Navy destroyers in the Mediterranean carry about 40 Tomahawks each. Air Force bombers could carry dozens more munitions, potentially allowing the U.S. to carry out follow-on strikes if the first wave doesn’t destroy the targets.

Among options available are B-52 bombers, which can carry cruise missiles; low-flying B1s that are based in Qatar and carry long-range, air-to-surface missiles; and B-2 stealth bombers, which are based in Missouri and carry heavy guided bombs.

Squatting on Kenya's Mineral Wealth | Inter Press Service

Squatting on #Kenya’s #Mineral Wealth | Inter Press Service
http://www.ipsnews.net/2013/09/squatting-on-kenyas-mineral-wealth

President Uhuru Kenyatta started issuing title deeds on Aug. 30, in an ongoing exercise that will in this first phase benefit 60,000 households from Coast Province. Over the next five years, the Ministry of Lands intends to issue three million land title deeds across this East African nation, changing lives significantly. These title deeds can be used to secure loans and improve livelihoods.

(...) land ownership is a complex matter here as the area is rich in minerals. An existing #titanium mining project is set to begin in the county this month. And in July, minerals explorer Cortec Corporation announced that they had found deposits of #niobium, a ductile grey metal, estimated to be worth 62.4 billion dollars.

(...) The president’s family owns large tracts of land across the country, particularly in the Coast Province, Rift Valley and Central Kenya. This became a major political issue in the run up to the general election.
(...) “Land ownership has been a persistent problem. The entire coastal region is owned by a few rich tycoons. If President Kenyatta is playing politics while improving our lives, let him,” Amina Juma, a squatter in Kilifi, Coast Province, tells IPS.

#terre #terres_rares

September 04 2013

Syrie : le scénario envisagé par le Sénat américain

Syrie : le scénario envisagé par le Sénat américain
http://www.lemonde.fr/proche-orient/article/2013/09/04/syrie-le-scenario-envisage-par-le-senat-americain_3470698_3218.html

Cette version du texte remplacerait celle envoyée au Congrès par la Maison Blanche samedi, et qui était considérée comme donnant trop de latitude au président.

Pas tout à fait selon le site Lawfare,

Lawfare › The Senate Draft AUMF for Syria is Narrower Than the Administration’s Draft, But Still Broad In Some Respects
http://www.lawfareblog.com/2013/09/the-senate-draft-aumf-for-syria-is-narrower-than-the-administrations-dr

Th[e] language is narrower than the administration’s draft.  It limits the use of force to “targets in Syria,” and has a more narrowly tailored purpose.  It would not give congressional sanction to the use of force outside of Syria (in, for example, Iran or Lebanon).  It would, however, authorize attacks on the Syrian command hierarchy in Syria, all the way up to Assad himself, as long as the President determined such attacks to be “necessary and appropriate” to respond to and deter and degrade Syrian WMDs.  (The “limited and tailored manner” qualification is not much of a restriction, since all DOD uses of force are, under the laws of war, proportionate and discriminate, and since the President is charged with determining what is necessary and appropriate in any event.)

Ground Troops “Limitation.”  Section 3 of the draft provides: “The authority granted in section 2 does not authorize the use of the United States Armed Forces on the ground in Syria for the purpose of combat operations.”

This is a limit on the authority conferred by Congress in Section 2, and not a limit on the President’s independent constitutional power to send ground troops into Syria, even for combat purposes.  Section 3 merely says that the congressional approval of the use of presidential force in Syria does not entail approval for the use of ground troops in Syria.  But it does not speak to, much less prevent, the President from using ground troops on his own authority.

Moreover, even the ground troop limitation on Congress’s authorization contains an exception for ground troops introduced into Syria for a purpose other than “combat operations.”  In other words, Sections 2 and 3 in combination affirmatively authorize the President to introduce U.S. ground troops in Syria for non-combat purposes if he thinks they are necessary and appropriate to achieve the purposes of the authorization.  Section 3 is probably written this way to capture the fact DOD Special Operations Forces are being used in Syria, or will be used there, for intelligence-related and other “preparation of the battlefield” tasks.  (I imagine, but of course do not know, that this is a nod to operational reality, since DOD has probably already sent Special Operations Forces into Syria, under the President’s Article II power, to prepare the battlefield.) It is also probably meant as a carve out for search-and-rescue missions, and the like, if necessary.

September 03 2013

US spied on presidents of Brazil, Mexico, documents from Snowden reveal - World Socialist Web Site

US spied on presidents of Brazil, Mexico, documents from Snowden reveal - World Socialist Web Site

http://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2013/09/03/snow-s03.html

US spied on presidents of Brazil, Mexico, documents from Snowden reveal
By Tom Eley
3 September 2013

The US National Security Agency eavesdropped on the communications of the presidents of Brazil and Mexico, according to documents gathered by whistleblower Edward Snowden and revealed by journalist Glenn Greenwald to the Brazilian television news program Fantastico.

#prism #snowden #états-unis #mxique #brésil #espionnage

September 02 2013

Iran website releases audio of « Rafsanjani's controversial remarks » on Syria An Iranian news…

Iran website releases audio of “Rafsanjani’s controversial remarks” on Syria

An Iranian news website has released video and audio of what it said were recent controversial statements by former President Akbar Hashemi-Rafsanjani on chemical attacks in Syria.

The conservative website Blogh News on 2 September released a one-minute-long video of what it said was Rafsanjani’s speech in the northern town of Shirgah in Mazandaran Province at a ceremony marking the anniversary of the death of Ayatollah Salehi-Mazandarani on 31 August.

“The Syrian people have suffered much during the past two years. More than 100,000 were killed and seven to eight million have become displaced. Prisons are overflowing with people and they have turned stadiums into prisons. On the one hand the people have suffered a chemical attack by their own government. On the other, they have to await for US bombs today,” the voice, which resembled Hashemi-Rafsanjani’s, said in the video.

The video, which was apparently made by a mobile phone, purportedly shows Rafsanjani delivering a speech to people from a podium. (www.bloghnews.com/news/21183). It is dated 31 August.

Rafsanjani’s remarks led to controversy in the Iranian media on 2 September. Iran’s Foreign Ministry said the comments by Rafsanjani had been “distorted” by the media.

Iranian Labour News Agency, which had carried Rafsanjani’s statements on the alleged chemical attack on 1 September, later removed the controversial section of the report from its website. (For more details see: “Remarks by Iran’s ex-president on Syria trigger debates among officials”, BBC Monitoring, 2 September 13)

The official Iranian line is that it was the rebels who carried out a chemical attack on a Damascus suburb last month.

Source: Iranian news website Blogh News in Persian 1545 gmt 2 Sep 13

Reposted byiranelection iranelection

Israel, stop kibitzing and let Obama work - Haaretz 2nd of September Editorial

Israel, stop kibitzing and let Obama work -
Haaretz 2nd of September
Editorial
http://www.haaretz.com/opinion/.premium-1.544796

The disappointed voices that arose on Sunday from belligerent circles in Israel in the wake of U.S. President Barack Obama’s decision on Saturday night to put on hold for now the military operation against Syria might create the false impression that most, if not all, Israelis are eager to see an attack on Damascus.

The long lines at the gas mask distribution centers and the traffic jams that can be expected on the roads leading out of major population centers in the event of an American attack against Bashar Assad’s regime teach us that the disappointed voices belong only to a few. The majority of people in Israel are breathing much easier upon hearing of the postponement and even the burial of the operation. It is important for the American public and administration to know that Israelis – both those who fear a Syrian response against Israel as well as those who doubt such a response will occur – have no interest in encouraging Washington to once again be drawn into a war in the Middle East.

Obama was right in not allowing his actions to be dictated by his personal pride – in the face of Assad ignoring his warnings – or by concern that the American superpower would turn into a laughingstock. The outcome of an operation is determined by the advance planning. Countries do not go out to battle assuming the perfect scenario will unfold. In this case this means the complete destruction of all the weapons of mass destruction by precision attacks from the air without injuring civilians and without American casualties or captives. Accidents and surprising developments are an inherent part of a military action. What can go wrong is sometimes worse than the situation the military blow was intended to fix. This is especially true under the conditions of a civil war in a political entity split between ethnic groups and religions.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s supporters were quick to praise his exceptional wisdom in being skeptical about American policy regarding Iranian nuclear weapons. This is a complete distortion of the Syrian lesson. Israel depends on American aid – from war planes to the veto in the United Nations Security Council – and this dependence is increasing as the government’s policy on the occupied territories and the peace negotiations is isolating Israel from the rest of the world. The American policy, for its part, cannot be based on a whim. In democratic nations clear-cut evidence is required to convince the public – weary of war – to pull the trigger before the diplomatic alternatives have been exhausted.

It is possible that at the end of a bitter debate in the Congress and votes in the committees and full House and Senate, Obama’s decision, now frozen, to use military force against Assad’s chemical stockpiles will be approved. In any case, it is essential that the decision be made on Capitol Hill, and not in Jerusalem.

September 01 2013

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