Saturday, February 28, 2015

What HE Said

Clapper: Now is the most crisis-ridden, challenging time in past 50 years. … Think about what that covers. Vietnam, coup & slaughter in Indonesia, Prague Spring & Warsaw Pact invasion, Cultural Revolution, Six Day War, Yom Kippur War... ...(not even out of 70s yet.) 1st oil crisis, 2nd oil crisis, Iranian revolution, Mecca uprising, Iraq-Iran War, USSR coup, collapse of USSR. Could go on and on (and on) but for Clapper to say with straight face that THIS is most crisis-filled time in his career is a bad joke.

Iran might get the bomb? Mao, India, Pakistan, Israel & maybe apartheid South Africa all GOT the bomb in/near period Clapper's career covers.

ISIS is a threat? So were a dozen or more terrorist groups from '60s and '70s whose names have mostly been forgotten.

State system in Middle East collapsing? States have been collapsing (or threatening to collapse) somewhere in ex colonial world since WWII.

Overall, world is LESS violent, LESS crisis-ridden than in the '70s, '80s & '90s. …But 2 things HAVE changed that allow Clapper to peddle BS without getting called on it: a) 9/11 brought violent conflict to U.S. shores; b) global conflict now saturated with MSM coverage, which constantly, endlessly plays up the "threat to America" angle. The illusion of American invulnerability to informal nonstate conflict (i.e. terrorism) was permantently punctured by 9/11 just as illusion of invulnerability to global war was permanently punctured first by Pearl Harbor & then by Soviets getting the bomb. Americans now have to live in the same world as everybody else, but have near zero tolerance for the insecurity that goes along with that.

So when guys like Clapper say this is most dangerous time ever, what they really mean is: most dangerous to the domestic tranquility that once allowed US elites to pursue foreign policies with relatively little concern for security and/or political consequences at home.


Of course, just cuz Clapper & Co. are full of shit now doesn't mean they'll be wrong forever. In EMs, state collapse, turbocharged by climate change, drought, tribalism & fanaticism. In DMs, plutocracy, corruption, economic stagnation. These things really COULD make mid 21st century the most conflict & crisis-ridden period Clapper's ever seen.
True. Before the end of our time, the world could go up in flames.
But of course, there's nothing the national security state can do about any of that -- except freak out.
Which is what they do best. And take as many people with them as they can.

And why isn’t James Clapper rotting in jail for lying to Congress? I believe that’s a crime.

Quel Suprise: DHS Reprieve

Bordering on dysfunction, Congress passed a one-week bill late Friday night to avert a partial shutdown of the Homeland Security Department, as leaders in both political parties quelled a revolt by House conservatives furious that the measure left President Barack Obama's immigration policy intact.

Pelosi urged her rank-and-file to support the short-term measure, saying it would lead to passage next week of a bill to fund the agency through the Sept. 30 end of the budget year without immigration add-ons. Aides to Speaker John Boehner promptly said there had been no such promise made.
...but hey, do what you will anyway.

Friday, February 27, 2015

DHS Shutdown? So What?

If you don't work for the department, I wouldn't panic.  Even if it does have to shut down tonight, it won't last long.  Congress will then take up some actually serious bill hashing to get it refunded.

Just maybe you want to postpone your trip by airline until it's all settled, because, who wants to be handled by TSA employees whose paycheck is being held up?  (Eighty-seven percent of DHS employees will still have to go to work in the event of a shutdown - "national security" exemption.)
Remember when the government shut down?  Me neither.  See what I mean?

Anyway, I'm not waiting up till midnight to find out what happens to DHS.

 ...but hey, do what you will anyway.

Suppose You Were an Idiot, and Suppose You Were a Congressman...*

Sen. Jim Inhofe [Idiot-Oklahoma], who chairs the Environment and Public Works Committee, tossed a snowball on the Senate floor as part of a speech expressing skepticism about the reality of climate change. The Oklahoma Republican opened by showing pictures of an igloo his daughter's family built during a snowstorm five years ago, when he said "the hysteria on global warming" began.

Then Inhofe reached into a bag he had brought with him and pulled out a robust snowball.

"Do you know what this is? It's a snowball," he said to freshman Republican Sen. Bill Cassidy, who being from Louisiana may not be familiar with snow. "It's just from outside here, so it's very, very cold out, ... very unseasonable."

  National Journal
Does nobody explain basic science to him? I mean, he’s in the fecking Senate, not some backwater Ma's Diner.

What a waste of oxygen.

...but hey, do what you will anyway.

*To finish that Twain quote...."but I repeat myself."  And an equally appropriate quote:  "Sometimes I wonder if the world is being run by smart people who are putting us on or imbeciles who really mean it."  


The Obama administration has announced a series of modest changes in the use of private data collected for intelligence purposes.


But the bulk collection would continue as robustly as ever, the announcement made clear.


The new policy also imposed more supervision over how intelligence agencies use the communications of Americans they acquire without individual warrants, making clear, for example, that such data may only be used to prosecute someone for "serious crimes" such as a murder or kidnapping, or national security crimes.

Ah, yes. “National security crimes.” And that would be whatever they say it is. And it could change at any moment. And then change back again. Depending upon who you are.
[T]he changes stopped well short of the recommendations of a presidential task force, including one that data collected by the NSA without warrants should never be used against an American in court, and another that such data should only be searched using the name of an American with a specific court order naming that person. Robert Litt, general counsel for the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, said in a conference call with reporters that those ideas were deemed too restrictive.

The result is that the private communications of Americans collected without warrants are still circulating around the government.
And will be until the end of time.
Moreover, Mr. Obama's most significant proposal in response to the Snowden leaks - to end the NSA's bulk collection of domestic calling records - has not been enacted. The president wants Congress to pass a law, and Congress has balked.
See? He’d just do all the right things if only Congress weren’t in his way. What a wonderful, but helpless guy.
The NSA is still collecting the records, even though Mr. Obama could stop the practice on his own.
Yeah. You’d think he was the most powerful man in the world, wouldn’t you? He doesn’t seem to need Congress when he’s blasting away at the world, killing hundreds of thousands of people on his own say-so.

But, hey. They can now only place a gag order for three years on people who get hit with an FBI national security letter – not forever, like it has been. I wonder when this goes into effect if it’s retroactive to people who are under such orders now.

Great strides, folks. Great strides. You’re government is only trying to protect you. Go back to work.

As We Prepare to Arm Kiev

Russian President Vladimir Putin has long said that the Ukrainian coup of last year, and the subsequent regime in Kiev, is driven by ultra-nationalists, fascists, and even neo-Nazi factions. The Russian TV outlet RT also frequently refers to “the active role far-right groups have played on the pro-government side in Ukraine since the violent coup of the last year.”

For that reason, anyone pointing out that arming the regime in Kiev would strengthen fascists and neo-Nazis is instantly accused of being a Putin propagandist: exactly like those arguing that the best anti-Assad fighters were al-Qaeda-affiliated were accused of being Assad propagandists (until that became the official position of the US Government). U.S. media accounts invariably depict the conflict in Ukraine as a noble struggle waged by the freedom-loving, pro-west democrats in Kiev against the oppressive, aggressive “Russian-backed” separatists in the east.

But just as was true in Syria: while some involved in the Ukrainian coup were ordinary Ukrainians fighting against a corrupt and oppressive regime, these claims about the fascist thugs leading the fight for the Kiev government are actually true.

  The Intercept
No problem. We like facist thugs. We’re trying hard to be like them.

Meanwhile: The Mujahedin-e-Kalk

In the wake of the embarrassing new revelations that the top Israeli intelligence agency is contradicting Bibi Netanyahu on his alarmist Iran intelligence, the well known liars, the "dissident" group NCRI (aka MEK), has jumped into damage control action and has released a suspiciously timed report that claims Iran has a new secret site.

  Daily Kos
They offered proof of Iran’s nuclear plans by showing a picture of an alleged nuclear material storage safe.
But it's a total fabrication. The image included in the NCRI report is actually a product shot from the Iranian safe company.
MEK background:
Since being legitimized [removed from the US terrorist list], the Mojahedin’s [MEK – “people’s holy warriors”] influence on Capitol Hill spread from the fringes of Congress to include more mainstream and respected Republicans and Democrats. Most of the group’s lobbying focuses on its members’ well-being in Iraq, said a current Hill staffer, who works in foreign policy. But, the staffer added, “undergirding this is all this neocon-friendly warmongering, this intense push for regime change, this intense hatred for [Iranian president Hassan] Rouhani — they’re not subtle about this at all.”

Menendez’s advocacy for the Mojahedin at the October hearing wasn’t new, but it signaled that by 2013 the group had come full circle: from an outlaw terrorist outfit to a player on Capitol Hill. How that happened is a classic story of money, politics and the enduring appeal of exile groups promising regime change.

  The Intercept
Like the Cubans in Miami?

The MEK’s origins go back to the Shah of Iran, the corrupt figure the US had installed as a puppet in Iran, when a group of students organized to attempt to oust him involving attacks and killings, including some Americans. Of course, they were called terrorists by the US. They carried that designation throughout their Saddam Hussein-supported activity in Iraq. Now, most of the US considers them good guys, with several Congressmen actively promoting the group.

You can read about it at the Intercept. Don’t forget your scorecard.

...but hey, do what you will anyway.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Score One for the People

The internet has been reclassified as telecommunications. That’s a good thing. If the FCC doesn’t get stocked with board members from media conglomerates, that is. (Which, is not something we can rule out in the future.)
[O]nly a year ago, prospects for protecting net neutrality seemed doomed. The Internet service provider industry, including companies such as Comcast, Verizon, AT&T and Time Warner Cable, had lobbied furiously against the rule, spending tens of millions on lobbying and on so-called “astroturf” efforts to pay third party groups to support their position. In January of 2014, a federal court struck down a previous iteration of the open Internet rules after Verizon filed suit. And shortly thereafter, the newly installed FCC chair Tom Wheeler, a former cable and cell phone lobbyist, began moving forward with a plan that would allow broadband providers to create Internet fast lanes and slow lanes.


This morning, the Federal Communications Commission voted to guarantee the open Internet through so-called net neutrality rules, and with it, forged ahead with one of the biggest policy accomplishments of the Obama administration.


The credit for such a seachange, say activists who agitated for the decision, belongs to a mix of online and traditional activism.


Malkia Cyril, the executive director of the Center for Media Justice, stresses that the strength of the net neutrality movement relied on the diversity of its coalition. She says Color of Change, National Hispanic Media Coalition, immigrant rights’ groups, activists from Black Lives Matter and communities of color “took it to the streets, to the doorstep of the ISPs.”

  The Intercept
Poor people. Maybe we ought to get together more often.
Other developments also helped shift the debate. HBO host John Oliver mobilized his viewers to flood the FCC with more than 45,000 comments in support of reclassification. A number of websites also participated in the “Internet Slowdown Day,” a protest to call attention to what might happen under paid prioritization without strong net neutrality.


[Tim Karr, campaign director for Free Press], who has worked on net neutrality advocacy for over a decade, also emphasized the role of a large coalition, “from librarians to free speech advocates,” with a shared interest in Internet freedom
Librarians are awesome. They aren’t beholden to corporations, and they don’t seem to be afraid of  the Feds.
To be sure, telephone and Internet companies are likely to try to undermine the rules that were voted on today. Earlier this week, former FCC chair and current cable industry lobbyist Michael Powell pledged legal action against reclassification. Another route would be for congressional allies of the industry to try to revoke FCC authority through the appropriations process or through a major rewrite of the Telecommunications Act.
It’s not over. But it’s a great win against the forces of commercial megabucks. Congratulations to the people. From a Demand Progress email:
The FCC just passed Title II Net Neutrality rules thanks to your work and that of a broad coalition of activists. It’s a challenge to describe just how unlikely this victory appeared as recently as a few months ago.

As we told the Huffington Post (in an article that’s at the top of their front page as we send this email): Popular victories like today's are so unusual that three Congressional committees are investigating how this happened.


We thank the millions of Americans who spoke up and gave the FCC the courage to do the right thing. They include the hundreds of thousands of Demand Progress members who have spoken out on this issue more than four million times.


In a political system in which progress can seem nearly impossible, the victory for Net Neutrality is a reminder to us that when we organize and fight for what is just, good things can still happen.
...but hey, do what you will anyway.

Love those cagey librarians....

The Bizarre Lawsuit Against Citizenfour

And I hope that Laura Poitras files for court costs and whatever else she can get out of these nuts when it's over.

It starts out ridiculous and goes downhill from there. However, the case has not been thrown out of court.

Speaking of FBI "Stings"

Are we sure they have a perfect record?

And if so, it's a dicey game they're playing.  Hopefully when their record is broken, their plot won't have been anything grand enough to cause much damage.

 ...but hey, do what you will anyway.

A First Step to Stopping the TransCanada Pipeline

President Obama has vetoed a Republican bill approving the Keystone XL tar sands oil pipeline. The White House says the move is not a judgment on the pipeline’s merits, but a bid to see through a State Department review that will determine whether the project is in the national interest.

  Democracy Now!
It could have merits, but he doesn’t know yet.
May Boeve, executive director of, said: "After four years of rallies, marches, sit-ins, and civil disobedience, we’re thrilled to see President Obama take an important first step by vetoing this love letter to Big Oil. ... Now, it’s time for the president to show he’s serious about his climate legacy by moving on to step two: rejecting this pipeline once and for all. [...] The pipeline is an accelerant for climate change. If the president is consistent with his climate pledge, he will not approve this pipeline."
We’ll see.

Democracy Now! interviewed Kert Davies, executive director of the Climate Investigations Center on the pipeline politics, who says, “This fight is long from over, but the president clearly has enough information to just cancel this project.”

Apparently, the wind around Obama has not settled into a clear direction.

...but hey, do what you will anyway.

Whew, Saved Again

The FBI and major media outlets yesterday trumpeted the agency’s latest counter-terrorism triumph: the arrest of three Brooklyn men, ages 19 to 30, on charges of conspiring to travel to Syria to fight for ISIS [...]. As my colleague Murtaza Hussain ably documents, “it appears that none of the three men was in any condition to travel or support the Islamic State, without help from the FBI informant.” One of the frightening terrorist villains told the FBI informant that, beyond having no money, he had encountered a significant problem in following through on the FBI’s plot: his mom had taken away his passport.


The known facts from this latest case seem to fit well within a now-familiar FBI pattern whereby the agency does not disrupt planned domestic terror attacks but rather creates them, then publicly praises itself for stopping its own plots.


They end up sending young people to prison for decades for “crimes” which even their sentencing judges acknowledge they never would have seriously considered, let alone committed, in the absence of FBI trickery.


We’re constantly bombarded with dire warnings about the grave threat of home-grown terrorists, “lone wolf” extremists, and ISIS.


But how serious of a threat can all of this be, at least domestically, if the FBI continually has to resort to manufacturing its own plots by trolling the internet in search of young drifters and/or the mentally ill whom they target, recruit and then manipulate [...] ? [...] Shouldn’t there be actual plots, ones that are created and fueled without the help of the FBI, that the agency should devote its massive resources to stopping?


This FBI tactic would be akin to having the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) constantly warn of the severe threat posed by drug addiction while it simultaneously uses pushers on its payroll to deliberately get people hooked on drugs so that they can arrest the addicts they’ve created and thus justify their own warnings and budgets (and that kind of threat-creation, just by the way, is not all that far off from what the other federal law enforcement agencies, like the FBI, are actually doing).

  The Intercept
Yeah. Oh, wait a minute. ...but hey, do what you will anyway.


Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Citizenfour Online Free: One Click & You're There

In reference to my question about the WaPo review of Citizenfour: indeed the film does not infer that Glenn Greenwald had to convince Ed Snowden to come out as the leaker of the documents. In fact, it's quite obviously the opposite, as Glenn presents his concerns about Snowden doing so. I don't know how the Post reviewer concluded otherwise.

I know this for a certainty now because I was able to watch the film again - online. I got a very good quality streaming video from a link on this site: There are numerous links to choose from. Free of cost. Nothing to sign up for or log in to. Just click a link.

So, if you haven't yet seen the documentary, check it out.  (I found the third link at TheVideo - - to stream nicely)

...but hey, do what you will anyway.

Speaking of Our Sterling Men and Women at the State Department

Daniel Rosen was arrested by a county detective about noon at his Washington, D.C. home after he allegedly sought to arrange sex with a minor. The detective, a female officer working in the county's Child Exploitation Unit, had been posing as the minor in online exchanges with Rosen, police said.

Rosen, who is the director of counterterrorism programs and policy at the State Department, was arrested and transported to the D.C. jail and charged with one count of Use of a Communications Device to Solicit a Juvenile.

The director of counterterrorism programs and policy.
In a speech in Feb. 2012 at a seminar hosted by The Potomac Institute for Policy Studies' International Center for Terrorism Studies, Rosen, while discussing terrorism, talked about the lure of young people into extremism. “It’s not about public diplomacy, it’s not about improving the U.S. image,” he said. “It’s about reaching out to a pretty well-defined and pretty narrow audience, and that’s people that could be persuaded into crossing the boundaries between sympathy and action.”
He was just doing research into how easy young people are to coerce.


Democrats and anti-Republicans ridicule the rallying cry of Hillary haters: "Benghazi, Benghazi, Benghazi," they say in a rolling-eyes tone intended to convey the idea that the incident at the US Libyan compound was a molehill out of which the Republicans want to make a mountain.  We're probably soon in for a lot more of this as Hillary takes the campaign stage.

I want to see a Benghazi movie.  I think it would be riveting.    Certainly a better true story than the killing of Bin Laden (Zero Dark Thirty, which I didn't see).  Notwithstanding the idea that an assassination, even of a bad guy, is not something to be proud of, they had to sex up the killing of Bin Laden, because, how exciting is it to walk into an unarmed man's bedroom and shoot him?  And then dump his body in the ocean.  (Do you think they really did?)

The Benghazi affair, on the other hand, has lots of plot.  Pretty much all of it a comedy of errors combined with amazing ineptitude by the Hillary Clinton led US State Department.  And why in the world did they have unarmed Libyan guards at the compound?  Were they so roundly hated that they were afraid the guards might turn the guns on them?  What's the point of an unarmed guard in a city beset by continual attacks on foreign targets?  Perhaps they're just mis-described.  Perhaps they should have been called lookouts.  Anyway...that's not a take-away.  It's just a curiosity to me.

Check out this Guardian analysis:

UPDATE:  It looks like I may have my choice of two equally bad Benghazi movies.  They're both going to glorify the "heroic" efforts of the small team of security members.  It'll be like the Alamo.

Their World Is Not the Same One You and I Inhabit

Democratic senators Dick Durbin and Dianne Feinstein on Monday invited Netanyahu to meet in a closed-door session with Democrats during his visit. He declined the invitation on Tuesday and expressed regret about the politically fraught tone of his trip.


Durbin said in a statement that he regretted Netanyahu could not meet the Democrats.

“We offered the prime minister an opportunity to balance the politically divisive invitation from Speaker [John] Boehner with a private meeting with Democrats who are committed to keeping the bipartisan support of Israel strong,” Durbin said.

“His refusal to meet is disappointing to those of us who have stood by Israel for decades.”

  The Guardian
The invitation from Boehner was to speak at a joint session of Congress, which Netanyahu is going to do. Depressingly desperate Democrats.

Netanyahu declined the meeting on the grounds that it wouldn't be bipartisan.  Sheesh, he should have accepted.  The GOP would have then invited him to a private banquet. It’s now a game of suck-up to the leader of a foreign country. Congress hits a new low.

Suppose you were an idiot, and suppose you were a member of Congress; but I repeat myself.” -- Mark Twain 

...but hey, do what you will anyway.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015


Did I treat you to this already?


 Well, if I did, here's another one:

And another one:


WaPo Film Review

Glenn Greenwald says on his Twitter account that this is a "great" review of Citizenfour by Alyssa Rosenberg in the Washington Post.

I immediately have a question, if not a criticism, about it. The critic twice makes it appear as though Edward Snowden did not want to - or at least was not ready to - "come out" publicly that he was the source of the leaks. In fact, in one place, she actually says "Greenwald talks Snowden into coming out in part to provide a political rationale for his actions..."

Obviously, the critic has not been paying attention to Greenwald's numerous mentions that Snowden wanted to go public with his identity early on in no small part so that other people would not be under suspicion.  (He was hesitant to be filmed, because he didn't want the story to be about him rather than the information in the leaks.)

It's been a little while since I saw the film.  Was it unclear that Snowden himself  was the one who wanted to go public with his identity?  I don't think so, but if it was, that was an error on Laura Poitras' part - or her editor, perhaps.  I'll have to watch it again.

Good Post-Oscar Interview with Glenn Greenwald

And here's the link:

"But He Swore an Oath! He Broke the Law!"

Here's a good article about the difference between Snowden breaking the law and those Senators on the Intelligence Committee who didn't: When it’s wrong to keep your word .

It's not long.  Have a read.  And may I add (or perhaps simply state differently):

1) Keeping an oath is not an honorable thing when your oath is to keep quiet about immoral and illegal activity.

2) Intelligence Committee Senators should not be praised for keeping their oath of secrecy, but instead should be tried for aiding and abetting crimes.

3) Those Senators did not keep their oath of secrecy because of some noble idea of the rule of law. They did it because they didn't want to lose their jobs.  The same reason the other people at the NSA working with Ed Snowden who knew what was being done didn't say anything.

..but hey, do what you will anyway.

UPDATE:   From a Nation interview November 2014...

While Your Taxes Buy Drones to Destroy Innocent People and Entire Countries

...but hey, do what you will anyway.

Why isn't this money laundering?

Monday, February 23, 2015

Suddenly Snowden

Funny exchange on a Reddit chat going today including Glenn Greenwald and Edward Snowden, in which Snowden has chosen the identifier of  SuddenlySnowden.

Catch up, Glenn!  Haha.  (I know.  We get old and we start to plod.  It's okay, Glenn.)

Got HBO Cued Up for Tonight?

UPDATE:  Apparently, the film is available to download from Cryptome.  However, trying to get a connection to Cryptome at this time is impossible.  Too busy.

A translation from a German website:

We're Not Doing What We're Doing in Venezuela

Do you suppose our political speakers recognize when they're engaging in doublespeak, or are they really just plain clueless as to what they're saying?

"Sometimes I wonder if the world is being run by smart people who are putting us on or by imbeciles who really mean it."  -- Mark Twain

...but hey, do what you will anyway.

It Can All Be Explained

While American Sniper was nominated for best motion picture of 2015 (why?), the only Academy award it received was for sound editing. How hard could it be to get just the right timing on a hail of bullets? Aaaaaanyway...

The Academy may not have, but ABC sure did.  Hugs and praise and fawning.  

I'm sure the RWers have gone straight to their old Commies-in-Hollywood talking points.

We Sanction Cuba and Denounce China for Human Rights Violations

But these guys get an unqualified pass – in fact, they get our official praise and support.
In Saudi Arabia, the Committee for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice is a religious police force that has been a constant presence in the Kingdom arresting woman having coffee with colleagues or forcing young girls to burn to death in fire rather than run out without their scarves. Then there was the time that the religious police in Dammam marched into a popular dinosaur exhibit and shut it down without any explanation of why the dinosaurs threatened the virtue of good Muslims. Then there was the flogging of a women who insulted them. Then there are the round ups of religious people for simply praying at home. Then there is the arrest of a man for standing in line with his wife at a grocery store. The list goes on and on. The latest entry is the arrest of young men for simply dancing at a birthday party. Birthday parties have been denounced by Saudi clerics as unIslamic, but this the first such arrest that many can recall that did not involve dancing with women.

The Vice police in Buraydah arrested the men for “loud music and inappropriate dancing.”


The Vice police also noted that they saw the hair styles of the men as non-traditional and said that such styles are dangerous and “can lead to immorality and even homosexuality.”

  Jonathan Turley

Snowden Courage - Have You Got It?

Frankly, no.  I couldn't say the same.  Imprisonment - okay, yes.  It's that "or any other negative outcome" that would stop me.  I wouldn't be very good at being tortured.  I also wouldn't be willing to risk the safety of my children.  Which, having none, is one of the reasons Snowden realized that he had to be the one to do what he did.

We all owe this man a debt we won't likely be called upon to repay in any way that causes us to risk much of anything.

P.S.  If you don't recognize the name Maher Arar (source of the question), he's a Canadian citizen who famously was wrongfully (not to mention illegally) snatched up by the American government and rendered for torture in its compulsive, overzealous and voracious response to the 9/11 attack.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Oscar Congratulations

Citizenfour won best documentary at the Academy Awards tonight. And, host Neil Patrick Harris snarked, "Edward Snowden, the subject of this film, couldn't be here tonight for some treason."

Hardeehar, Chuckles.

 He also went out on stage earlier in his underwear, if that tells you anything (other than he thought it would be  funny reference to Birdman - but why choose that one bit from that one movie to reference in such a way?).

Think anybody will give Ed their Oscar?   Yeah, me neither.

That's Ed's girlfriend on Greenwald's left.

UPDATE:  The New Yorker: Why "Citizenfour" Deserved Its Oscar

2/23/15  UPDATE:  Snowden and Greenwald were asked on an internet chat today how they felt about the "treason" joke.  (Click to enlarge if you can't read it.)

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Citizenfour Just Won the 2015 Independent Spirit Film Award for Best Documentary

The documentary is also nominated for an Oscar.  Tomorrow.

Reminder:  It also won the BAFTA 2015 award, along with many, many other awards, listed here.

"Black Is White" Quotes Winner

CIA Is Everywhere

European officials are demanding answers and investigations into a joint U.S. and U.K. hack of the world’s largest manufacturer of mobile SIM cards [Gemalto], following a report published by The Intercept Thursday.


Analysts at Dutch financial services company Rabobank speculated in a research note that Gemalto could be forced to recall “a large number” of SIM cards.

  The Intercept
And how could we be certain the new SIM cards weren’t equally compromised?
Deutsche Telekom AG, a German company, said it has changed encryption algorithms in its Gemalto SIM cards.

“We currently have no knowledge that this additional protection mechanism has been compromised,” the company said in a statement. “However, we cannot rule out this completely.”


Sophie in ’t Veld, an EU parliamentarian with D66, the Netherlands’ largest opposition party, added, “Year after year we have heard about cowboy practices of secret services, but governments did nothing and kept quiet […] In fact, those very same governments push for ever-more surveillance capabilities, while it remains unclear how effective these practices are.”

“If the average IT whizzkid breaks into a company system, he’ll end up behind bars,” In ’t Veld added in a tweet Friday.


[Gemalto’s] clients include AT&T, T-Mobile, Verizon, Sprint and some 450 wireless network providers. “[We] believe we have their entire network,” GCHQ boasted in a leaked slide, referring to the Gemalto heist.


While Gemalto was indeed another casualty in Western governments’ sweeping effort to gather as much global intelligence advantage as possible, the leaked documents make clear that the company was specifically targeted.
And, why would that be?
The French daily L’Express noted today that Gemalto board member Alex Mandl was a founding trustee of the CIA-funded venture capital firm In-Q-Tel. The French daily L’Express noted today that Gemalto board member Alex Mandl [an Austrian-American businessman who was once a top executive at AT&T] was a founding trustee of the CIA-funded venture capital firm In-Q-Tel. [...] In 2003, a group of French lawmakers tried unsuccessfully to create a commission to investigate Gemplus’s ties to the CIA and its implications for the security of SIM cards.

White House Response to SIM Card Heist

'If they'd known we were doing it, they would have approved.'


Also from that WSJ article
The NSA has tried in the past two years to deflect criticism of its spying practices, such as collecting bulk telephone records, saying it targets adversaries with its spying practices. But few would argue Gemalto fits that description.


U.S. officials haven’t confirmed that such information was stolen, or, if it was stolen, whether it was ever used. Multiple U.S. officials are referring questions on the leak to the NSA, which has not responded to multiple requests for comment.

  Wall Street Journal

Friday, February 20, 2015

You Remember Frank Serpico

Famed ex-NYPD officer and still NYPD persona non grata Frank Serpico, nearing 80 years old, recently wrote about how things have and haven't changed in police departments in the approximately 40 years since he put his life on the line (and nearly lost it) as a whistleblower against police corruption.

Today the combination of an excess of deadly force and near-total lack of accountability is more dangerous than ever: Most cops today can pull out their weapons and fire without fear that anything will happen to them, even if they shoot someone wrongfully. All a police officer has to say is that he believes his life was in danger, and he’s typically absolved.


In some ways, matters have gotten even worse. The gulf between the police and the communities they serve has grown wider. Mind you, I don’t want to say that police shouldn’t protect themselves and have access to the best equipment. Police officers have the right to defend themselves with maximum force, in cases where, say, they are taking on a barricaded felon armed with an assault weapon. But when you are dealing every day with civilians walking the streets, and you bring in armored vehicles and automatic weapons, it’s all out of proportion. [...] All that firepower and armor puts an even greater wall between the police and society, and solidifies that “us-versus-them” feeling.


Today it seems these police officers just empty their guns and automatic weapons without thinking. [...] They act like they’re in shooting galleries. Today’s uncontrolled firepower, combined with a lack of good training and adequate screening of police academy candidates, has led to a devastating drop in standards.


The shooters, of course, were absolved of any wrongdoing, as they almost always are. All a policeman has to say is that “the suspect turned toward me menacingly,” and he does not have to worry about prosecution.


We want to believe that cops are good guys, but let’s face it, any kid in the ghetto knows different.


As for Barack Obama and his attorney general, Eric Holder, they’re giving speeches now, after Ferguson. But it’s 20 years too late. It’s the same old problem of political power talking, and it doesn’t matter that both the president and his attorney general are African-American. Corruption is color blind. Money and power corrupt, and they are color blind too.


An honest cop should be able to speak out against unjust or illegal behavior by fellow officers without fear of ridicule or reprisals. Those that speak out should be rewarded and respected by their superiors, not punished.

We’re not there yet.


Frank Serpico's way forward to eliminate police corruption and establish public confidence:

Frank Serpico, 1973

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Big Time Drip from the Snowden Leak

AMERICAN AND BRITISH spies hacked into the internal computer network of the largest manufacturer of SIM cards in the world, stealing encryption keys used to protect the privacy of cellphone communications across the globe, according to top-secret documents provided to The Intercept by National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden.


With these stolen encryption keys, intelligence agencies can monitor mobile communications without seeking or receiving approval from telecom companies and foreign governments. Possessing the keys also sidesteps the need to get a warrant or a wiretap, while leaving no trace on the wireless provider’s network that the communications were intercepted. Bulk key theft additionally enables the intelligence agencies to unlock any previously encrypted communications they had already intercepted, but did not yet have the ability to decrypt.


The company targeted by the intelligence agencies, Gemalto, is a multinational firm incorporated in the Netherlands that makes the chips used in mobile phones and next-generation credit cards. Among its clients are AT&T, T-Mobile, Verizon, Sprint and some 450 wireless network providers around the world.


Gemalto was totally oblivious to the penetration of its systems.


In all, Gemalto produces some 2 billion SIM cards a year. Its motto is “Security to be Free.”

  Jeremy Scahill
Yeah Buddy.  Feeling a little silly now?  Or just shafted?
According to one secret GCHQ slide, the British intelligence agency penetrated Gemalto’s internal networks, planting malware on several computers, giving GCHQ secret access. We “believe we have their entire network,” the slide’s author boasted about the operation against Gemalto.


[A]fter being contacted by The Intercept, Gemalto’s internal security team began on Wednesday to investigate how their system was penetrated and could find no trace of the hacks.


Additionally, the spy agency targeted unnamed cellular companies’ core networks, giving it access to “sales staff machines for customer information and network engineers machines for network maps.” [...] Most significantly, GCHQ also penetrated “authentication servers,” allowing it to decrypt data and voice communications between a targeted individual’s phone and his or her telecom provider’s network. A note accompanying the slide asserted that the spy agency was “very happy with the data so far and [was] working through the vast quantity of product.”


“Gaining access to a database of keys is pretty much game over for cellular encryption,” says Matthew Green, a cryptography specialist at the Johns Hopkins Information Security Institute. The massive key theft is “bad news for phone security. Really bad news.”
Do we all get new free SIM cards? Will the government have the keys to those, too? We wouldn't know, would we?

HBO to Show Citizenfour

If you weren't able to see it in a theater, watch it on HBO, even if you have to sign up for a trial subscription.  (If that's possible. But do it soon.)

Nearly Invisible Snowden Story Hero: Sarah Harrison

Ever wonder what happened to the woman who helped Ed Snowden stay out of the hands of the US government for weeks in the Moscow airport?

Vogue has a rare interview.
“In the face of very real risks, Sarah refuses to allow intimidation to shape her decisions,” [writes Edward Snowden]. “If you forced her to choose between disowning her principles or being burned at the stake, I think she’d hand you a match.”


I Don't Even Want to Think About It

If [Jeb] Bush's goal is to present himself as his "own man," that list of advisers undermines the point somewhat: 19 of the 21 people on it worked in the administrations of his father or brother.


To be fair, however, things haven't gone very well without that combination either.

Where's Cheney?  Hell, might as well throw in W. All his advisers are there. He'd love a reunion. Good times.

...but hey, do what you will anyway.

Continuing Our March to the Dark Ages

At least two people have died and a further seven exposed to a deadly strain of drug-resistant superbug bacteria at a hospital on the UCLA campus. Authorities are notifying 179 more people that have potentially been exposed.


Doctors at the Ronald Reagan Medical Center, where the outbreak occurred, believe the moment of infection happened “during complex endoscopic procedures that took place between October 2014 and January 2015,” according to CBS.

“These outbreaks at UCLA and other hospitals could collectively be the most significant instance of disease transmission ever linked to a contaminated reusable medical instrument,” believes Larence Muscarella, a safety consultant at Ronald Reagan.


A total of 32 patients were infected with contaminated endoscopes at Virginia Mason Medical Center in Seattle between 2012 and 2014, the hospital has acknowledged last month. The infection was a similar strain to the CRE found at UCLA.


Although the scopes were sterilized in accordance with standard procedure, their very construction carries with it a risk of bacterial buildup. It turns out the scope could have transmitted the infection during a procedure “to diagnose and treat pancreaticobiliary diseases,” at least that is the working theory at this time.

So….once infected, is a person contagious?
The superbug itself is difficult to treat, and there is risk that “This bacteria is emerging in the US and it's associated with a high mortality rate,” Dr. Alex Kallen with the CDC told the LA Times. “We don’t want this circulating anywhere in the community.”
That sounds like a “yes”.

In other regressive news:
Taking a page from the National Rifle Association and tapping into the national spotlight on sexual assault on college campuses, lawmakers from Florida to Nevada are introducing legislation to permit the carrying of firearms at universities.

Eleven states are considering such proposals, the New York Times reported.

Let me ask it, even though it seems obvious…won’t perps be carrying? Or will permits only be issued to women?

What could possibly go wrong?

And then there’s this tidbit…
EU member states have voted to allow secret evidence to be used for the first time in one of Europe’s highest courts.

All but one of the EU’s 28 countries agreed to let the General Court of the EU to consider evidence, including from intelligence agencies, in closed sessions.

Only Britain abstained after it demanded more assurances that any sensitive evidence it hands over would be safeguarded.

  The Bureauof Investigative Journalism
Et tu, Europe?

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

I Think We've Seen This One

While the US plans to create a massive new “moderate rebel force” to fight against both ISIS and the Syrian government have been in place for awhile, the level to which they’ll go to prop up those rebels seems to be growing dramatically.

The latest half-baked scheme, reported by the Wall Street Journal, is to give this yet-to-be-created rebel faction the ability to directly call in US airstrikes against targets of their choosing.

The US intends to provide every cell of 4-6 rebel fighters with a pickup truck that will include a mounted machine gun and a GPS system within, through which they can radio in targets to be attacked by US warplanes.

What could possibly go wrong this time?
The US drone program in Pakistan is a key example of this not working, as often informants were calling in drone strikes against tribal rivals with no connection to al-Qaeda, simply because the US had no way of checking who they were killing.
It’ll be different this time.

At Least They No Longer Hate Us for Our Freedom

Our freedom fries, maybe.

The United States and its allies cannot defeat the Islamic State simply by killing militants, said State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf, adding that it must target the underlying reasons people join the group, such as the lack of job opportunities.

Oh yeah, that’s it. Anything but our continual and ubiquitous droning campaign.
“We’re killing a lot of them, and we’re going to keep killing more of them. So are the Egyptians, so are the Jordanians – they’re in this fight with us,” Harf said. “But we cannot win this war by killing them. We cannot kill our way out of this war. We need in the medium to longer term to go after the root causes that leads people to join these groups, whether it’s a lack of opportunity for jobs, whether…”
Sadly, Chris Matthews interrupted her or we’d know what other reasons jihadists sign up.
In return, Harf suggested a soft power-like approach: “We can work with countries around the world to help improve their governance. We can help them build their economies so they can have job opportunities for these people.”

She conceded, however, that there is “no easy solution.”
In light of this brilliant analysis, you’re asking yourself if Marie is, in the tradition of the Bush administration’s staffing with fresh out of college Young Republicans, a bit wet behind the ears. Is she over 18?

Apparently not much.

Eric Holder Speaks to the National Press Club

Attorney General Eric Holder on Tuesday defended his agency’s record on unauthorized disclosures, saying that it could have pursued more whistleblowers than it has.

  District Sentinel
Just, WOW.  Now that's something to brag about, being the administration that has pressed more whistleblower charges than all other administrations put together. Apparently, they're proud of that distinction.
“We have turned away, I mean, turned away substantially greater number of cases that were presented to us where prosecution was sought.”
Excuse me? Who “sought” prosecution? Isn’t that your function?
In a related matter, the outgoing Attorney General declined to answer a query about a possible plea deal involving former National Security Agency contractor and whistleblower Edward Snowden.

“I’ll simply say no comment,” he remarked, to laughter from the audience.
Yeah, hilarious, press agents (I’m loathe to call them journalists or reporters).
Speaking more broadly on the issue of Espionage Act prosecutions and leaks, Holder said that policies formulated last summer and implemented during the case involving New York Times reporter James Risen and the now-imprisoned former CIA employee Jeffrey Sterling exemplified “how the Justice Department can proceed.”


[Freedom of the Press Executive Director Trevor Timm:] “New DOJ model: Harass and spy on journalist for years, make him spend a fortune in legal fees, drop case last second.”


“We are not in a time of war,” Holder added.
Because the War on Terror only exists when you’re justifying killing innocent people in the Middle East.

Good riddance, Eric. (Although I have no doubt your replacement will carry on where you’re leaving off.)  And thanks for the bank bailout settlements.

Monday, February 16, 2015

They Hate Us for Our Freedoms

Glenn Greenwald has a couple of mentions on his Twitter account this morning about a September 2004 disregarded report of a task force created by Donald Rumsfeld to understand our situation post-9/11 vis-à-vis the Musliim world and our “interventions” therein. Here are some excerpts of that unclassified report:
Americans believe that while the U.S. necessarily shapes foreign policies to support our national interests, those same interests are not necessarily in opposition to the interests of other nations and cultures. To the contrary, Americans are convinced that the U.S. is a benevolent “super power” that elevates values emphasizing freedom and prosperity as at the core of its own national interest. Thus, for Americans, “U.S. values” are in reality “world values” — exemplified by the United Nations’ Universal Declaration of Human Rights or the 1975 Helsinki Accords — so deep down we assume that everyone should naturally support our policies.

Yet the world of Islam — by overwhelming majorities at this time — sees things differently. Muslims see American policies as inimical to their values, American rhetoric about freedom and democracy as hypocritical, and American actions as deeply threatening.

In other words, they do not hate us for our values, but because of our policies.

Oh, really? Is that the message Der Rumsfeld tried to get across to the American public?
[A] similar series of questions showed even more favorable opinion ratios in favor of U.S. culture and its values — in 2002. Thus it seems that in two years the Jihadi message — that strongly attacks American values — is being accepted by more moderate and non-violent Muslims. This in turn implies that negative opinion of the U.S. has not yet bottomed-out, but is in fact continuing to move dynamically. [...] In Saudi Arabia, a large majority believes that the U.S. seeks to “weaken” and “dominate” Islam itself — in other words, Americans have become the enemy. It is noteworthy that opinion is hardest over against America in precisely those places ruled by what Muslims call “apostates” and tyrants — the tyrants we support. This should give us pause. [...] Furthermore, if regular Muslims are indeed moving to hard “opposition” to the U.S. then we have only so much time to open such a channel before the possibility is closed for the duration of this war.
Yeah. I think we missed it. On purpose, it appears.

The complete report, with recommendations, is here.
This report is a product of the Defense Science Board (DSB). The DSB is a Federal Advisory Committee established to provide independent advice to the Secretary of Defense. Statements, opinions, conclusions , and recommendations in this report do not necessarily represent the official position of the Department of Defense.
No shit.

Speaking of Food Treats!


h/t Stephen

Also h/t Stephen...I have been reminded (see next post) of this wonderful old blog:  Steve, Don't Eat It!  Good times.  Good times.

Good Luck Out There, People

Before Obama’s election, Congress specifically authorized the executive branch, through the $700 billion bank bailout known as TARP, to “prevent avoidable foreclosures.” And Congress pointedly left the details up to the next president.


Obama and his administration must live with the consequences of that original sin, which contrasts with so many of the goals they claim to hold dear. “It’s a terrible irony,” said Damon Silvers, policy director and special counsel for the AFL-CIO, who served as deputy chair of the Congressional Oversight Panel for TARP. “This man who represents so much to people of color has presided over more wealth destruction of people of color than anyone in American history.”


By the time of Lehman Brothers’ failure in September 2008, defaults on subprime loans had spiked significantly. A critical mass of Democrats in Congress refused to agree to TARP unless some portion got devoted to keeping people in their homes. (The Obama Treasury Department would eventually devote $50 billion of TARP funds to this purpose, of which only $12.8 billion has been spent, more than five years later).


The administration’s eventual program, HAMP, grew out of the banking industry’s preferred alternative [...] where the industry, rather than bankruptcy judges, would control loan restructuring. Unfortunately, the program has been a success for bankers and a failure for most hard-pressed homeowners.


Both Senator Elizabeth Warren and former Special Inspector General for TARP Neil Barofsky revealed that then-Secretary Geithner told them HAMP’s purpose was to “foam the runway” for the banks. In other words, it allowed banks to spread out eventual foreclosures and absorb them more slowly. Homeowners are the foam being steamrolled by a jumbo jet in that analogy, squeezed for as many payments as they can manage before losing their homes.


The Obama administration’s most recent attempt at a solution is to loosen lending restrictions to jump-start the housing market. That trades financial instability for a short-term housing stimulus, and could put homeowners in significant peril. “Everyone’s on board with allowing debt to build up during a boom,” Sufi says, “but we now know afterwards, policymakers will leave people out to dry. You’re going to suffer losses and not get any forgiveness.”

  Bill Moyers
...but hey, do what you will anyway.

Harboring Terrorists in America

US authorities are investigating whether some of those responsible for one of the American south’s most notorious mass lynchings are still alive, in an attempt to finally bring prosecutions over the brutal unsolved killings.


Speaking at his home in Monroe, 10 miles west of the [Moore’s Ford Bridge lynching of 1946] site, Charlie Peppers denied taking part in the killings of four African Americans who were tied up and shot 60 times by a white mob.

“Heck no,” said Peppers, 86, when asked if he was involved. “Back when all that happened, I didn’t even know where Moore’s Ford was.”

An 18-year-old country boy didn’t know what was 10 miles east of him. Sure.
Peppers was accused of being involved by his nephew, Wayne Watson. Video of Watson, 57, claiming in 2013 that Peppers and several other men from the area had spoken of their involvement in the killings was given to the US Department of Justice by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP).

“All through my life, I heard them talk about the Moore’s Ford and the lynching,” said Watson, in an April 2013 interview. “I’m tired of it.”


A report by the Equal Justice Initiative (EJI) published last week found at least 700 more lynchings than had previously been recorded in southern states.


No one was ever prosecuted for the killings on 25 July 1946 of two black couples in their 20s: George and Mae Murray Dorsey, and Dorothy and Roger Malcom. According to unconfirmed claims from the time that are now asserted by campaigners, Dorothy Malcom was heavily pregnant and her unborn baby was cut from her body by the attackers.


Watson [said]he had been shunned by members of his family after entering a relationship with a black woman. “I want it all over with, the racism,” he said.
Pipe yourself up another dream, son.
Two neighbours at his last known address said he had been evicted and was thought to now have no permanent home.
And in other KKK news...
[A] man charged with killing people at Jewish Centers near Kansas City has a new attorney.

During a hearing Friday, Glenn Miller's former attorney asked to be removed because Miller had stopped cooperating.


At Friday’s hearing, Miller also made a Nazi-like salute and, at one point, turned to the gallery and made several statements about Jewish people.

  Ozarks First
Alittle background…
A Kansas prosecutor will seek the death penalty against a white supremacist from Missouri who was ruled competent [...] to face trial on charges of killing three people at two Jewish sites in suburban Kansas City.

Johnson County District Attorney Steve Howe announced his intention to seek the death penalty at a hearing for Frazier Glenn Miller, 74, of Aurora, Missouri, who has said he felt it was his patriotic duty to kill Jews.

Miller is accused of killing Dr. William Lewis Corporon, 69, and his 14-year-old grandson, Reat Griffin Underwood, who were at the Jewish Community Center of Greater Kansas City on April 13 for a singing contest audition. He also is accused of fatally shooting 53-year-old Terri LaManno, who was visiting her mother at a Jewish retirement home in nearby Overland Park.

None of the victims was Jewish.


He has told the AP and other media outlets that he planned and executed the fatal attacks, and that it was his intent to use the trial as a means to “put the Jews on trial where they belong”.

Miller, also known as Frazier Glenn Cross, is a Vietnam War veteran from southwest Missouri who founded the Carolina Knights of the Ku Klux Klan in his native North Carolina and later the White Patriot Party.

Southern Poverty Law Center Extremist Files

Sunday, February 15, 2015

It's Sunday

Icelanders will soon be able to publicly worship at a shrine to Thor, Odin and Frigg with construction starting this month on the island’s first major temple to the Norse gods since the Viking age.

  Globe and Mail
Oh, hell. Now we’re going to have to expand the crusade.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Oh My

A similar narrative evolution has been remarked in a story Williams has told about flying into Baghdad with members of Navy Seal Team 6, the group credited with killing Osama bin Laden. After the Bin Laden assassination, Williams said on the air that “I happen to have the great honor of flying into Baghdad with them at the start of the war.”

A year later, in an appearance on the Late Show with David Letterman, the Huffington Post noted, Williams elaborated the description. “I flew into Baghdad, invasion plus three days, on a blackout mission at night with elements of Seal Team 6, and I was told not to make any eye contact with them or initiate any conversation,” Williams said. But Navy sources told CNN that Team 6 did not accept passengers and such a trip would have been impossible.


“I’ve been so fortunate,” Williams said. “I was at the Brandenburg Gate the night the [Berlin] wall came down. I chipped a piece of my own off of that wall, and it’s framed and hanging in my den with the next day’s newspaper headline.”

It was [Tom] Brokaw, however, not Williams, who was the sole American anchor to report live from the scene on 9 November, 1989, the night the wall was opened.

What he's been fortunate about is that no one called him out before now.

...but hey, do what you will anyway.

Operation DeathEaters

Hacktivist group Anonymous will descend upon the houses of “elite” establishment figures whom they claim have been involved in an extensive cover-up of historic child sex abuse and trafficking.

In a video released on YouTube, the group claims to be aware of a document which, if uncovered, would lead to the revelation of numerous establishment figures involved in the cover-up of child abuse spanning decades and continents.

Should George H.W. Bush be concerned?
One activist told Sky News: “This isn’t a situation where we are looking to create mayhem. It’s about giving the public information so we can confront these problems that go back decades.

“The stories that are coming out are the torture and murder of children with our trusted politicians and that is unacceptable.”
Will it tarnish the halo over St. Ronnie the Reagan’s head?
“If you are thinking ‘Kill the Bad Guys’ is the solution, you have no idea. We need nothing less than a complete examination of who we are,” it adds.

They call those who have abused their positions of power to participate in sexual abuse of children “Death Eaters” and say it is not only a problem in the UK.


The protest comes weeks after Home Secretary Theresa May announced the latest chairman of the Historic Sex Abuse Inquiry, examining a suspected Westminster pedophile ring which operated during the 1980s.

The inquiry has been plagued with problems since its inception in 2014, with both its previous chairs, Fiona Woolf and Baroness Butler-Sloss, stepping down amid conflicts-of-interest scandals.
Right. It’s not going to lead anywhere if the politicians themselves are “investigating”. Be careful out there Anonymous. You’ll be as wanted and hunted as Ed Snowden for this op.

Former head of the Child Exploitation and Online Protection center (CEOP), Jim Gamble, told Sky News: “It's fraught with so many difficulties.”

He welcomed any attempts to come forward to police with information targeting pedophiles, but warned that working outside a framework could result in “reckless disclosure” that might “ruin lives.”
Politicians’ lives, he’s talking about. Because children’s don’t matter, of course.

NYT: 1988

Washington Times 1989: