Backgrounder on Obama's Big Data Domestic Spying System

Collected here is background information to resolve conflicting claims about recent revelations about the Obama-Bush domestic spying program.

The expansion began immediately after the Bush-Cheney administration took office in 2001, and was later expanded after 9/11 and the imposition of the Patriot Act.

Qwest CEO Joseph Nacchio is the only major communications executive known to have fought the program on behalf of his customers. Later, he was imprisoned on  financial fraud charges that he and his highly prominent attorneys argue were trumped up. The motive? To teach other American CEOs a lesson about opposing the federal government's program.

My forthcoming book, Presidential Puppetry, describes Nacchio's prosecution in the context of the government's massive surveillance program, and its use by both government and private sector leaders to intimidate their critics in government, the private sector and the media. Author James Bamford reported in-depth on the Nacchio complaint, which occasionally resurfaces.

Revelations keep happening, as indicated by this June 29 column featuring former NSA staffers Wayne Madsen: Revealed: secret European deals to hand over private data to America, and Russell Tice, such as NSA Whistleblower: NSA Illegally Spied On Top Generals, All Supreme Court Justices, White House Spokesman.

In mid-2008, Sen. Barack Obama helped keep surveillance details secret and the program strong. After securing the Democratic nomination for the presidency, he switched his campaign position opposing immunity for communications companies that illegally conspired with government officials to spy on their customers.

Obama joined a bipartisan Congressional majority granting the immunity in 2008, thereby preventing most court litigation by citizens to learn if there are being victimized.

The White House photo at left shows President Obama and Chief of Staff Denis McDonough talking confidentially this month on the South Lawn of the White House. McDonough said June 16 that, Obama Will Speak On NSA In The Coming Days.

In other major news, the UK newspapers Guardian reported that the UK government had been caught secretly spying on allies at a Group of 20 meeting in London and then sharing the information with the United States and certain allies. Separately, the UK's Independent reported that Iran has committed to sending 4,000 troops to support Syria's government. With the U.S. positioning approximately the same number of troops in Jordan (and by some reports infiltrating advisors across the border into Syria), the Independent warned that the United States appears to be repeating its disastrous involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan and the Mideast religious wars dating back to the 7th Century.

After each scandal officials deny that any laws are broken or that the public need have any concerns even though the most relevant laws, courts, factual situations, and decisions are secret.

Furthermore, whistleblowers are being prosecuted as spies. Those like Army Private Bradley Manning and NSA leaker Edward Snowden face a lifetime in prison, or worse. Federal authorities kept Manning, now on trial for spy charges because of his massive disclosures, in pre-trial detention characterized as torture by experts.

Additionally, reporters are being investigated with the potential of spy charges and the certainty of enormous legal expenses for themselves and their organizations. Even more dangerous for the public, individual reporters and their media employers increasingly face loss of access to relevant government officials if their reports are regarded as too aggressive. That kind of reprisal can mean loss of sources and jobs for reporters, who see cooperative reporters move to the top of the field with continued scoops from anonymous officials who like to rewarding their media friends and shape public discourse with no accountability.

Worst of all, a clear pattern has emerged whereby news organizations are not simply victims of government reprisal, but willing participants in secret agendas.

Update: Atlantic, The Surveillance Speech: A Low Point in Barack Obama's Presidency, Conor Friedersdorf, Aug. 12, 2013.

The participation of the Washington Post Chairman Donald Graham in this month's annual Bilderberg conference, as usual, underscores the deep ties between the financial, government, media, and national security elite. Graham, shown at right in a file photo, has served on the American Friends of Bilderberg board with David Rockefeller, Henry Kissinger, Ron Paul supporter and PayPal founder Peter Thiel, and Perseus Capital executive James Johnson, a major player among Democrats. With great secrecy, the Bilderberg Group first met in 1954 at the smallish Bilderberg Hotel in the Netherlands with a guest list created by two members of the Rockefeller and Rothschild families.

The invitation-only secret conference each year attracts approximately 130 participants, which this year included the British Prime Minister David Cameron, Princess Beatrix of the Netherlands (who abdicated this spring after a long rule as Queen), and CEOs of major new and old media companies, including Facebook, Google and Amazon.com. Mainstays are the top American and European financial, mining, energy, and industrial companies and their regulators.

Among other notable participants this year was former CIA Director David Petraeus, now chairman of the new global subsidiary of KKR, the $60 billion buyout company led by longtime Bilderberger Henry Kravis. Attending also was Kravis, whose father helped devise the special preferences in tax laws for energy companies, and offered George H.W. Bush his first job after Yale graduation. National Security Agency (NSA) Director Keith Alexander has frequently attended, but was not reported this year. Sometimes attendees are not listed, such as U.S. presidential candidates hoping for approval from the group.

The excerpts below include official government sources, such as the NSA; independent experts, like author James Bamford and former NSA executives William Binney and Thomas Drake; and news commentaries, both mainstream publications and independent experts.

The material focuses primarily on NSA and other spying on Americans in the United States because the NSA's original mandate was international intelligence. Thus, spying on foreign leaders fall within its expected scope. The Guardian reported on June 16 that British and NSA surveillance experts targeted attendees at London G20 summit in 2009, a story that might prove embarrassing to Obama as the G8 summit began in Ireland. But the reports would hardly surprise anyone.

The news accounts below draw heavily from the Washington Post for several reasons. The paper devotes massive space to its coverage, and is highly influential in Washington. I am a longtime subscriber, and appreciate how editors will strive to avoid duplication in coverage (which could easily occur if our list below tried to excerpt from many sources regarding essentially the same news story). 

Moreover, the Post and other mainstream organizations have many fine journalists seeking to do their best despite the inherent conflicts noted above. On June 15, for example, Post reporter Barton Gellman authored a major story, U.S. surveillance architecture includes collection of revealing Internet, phone metadata, describing the major secret programs the federal government uses for its surveillance operations.

In sum, mainstream publications have the personnel, access, and readership to provide unique perspective on this kind of story.

So does, of course, the federal government itself.

At left is the National Security Agency's new Utah Data Center in Bluffdale, Utah. The government is collecting the records of virtually all U.S. customers, according to independent experts.

The government defines its activities in a way that it says complies with relevant law, with all relevant proceedings secret. The data center had a VIP ribbon-cutting ceremony May 30, and moves into formal launch in October. Details below are quoted from an official NSA website:

The Utah Data Center, code-named Bumblehive, is the first Intelligence Community Comprehensive National Cyber-security Initiative (IC CNCI) data center designed to support the Intelligence Community's efforts to monitor, strengthen and protect the nation. NSA is the executive agent for the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) and will be the lead agency at the center. The steady rise in available computer power and the development of novel computer platforms will enable us to easily turn the huge volume of incoming data into an asset to be exploited, for the good of the nation.

The government also has provided the follow flow chart of its work:

 
Contact the author Andrew Kreig
 
 
 
 

 

 

Justice Integrity Project Coverage Summary

Hong Kong, Snowden Snub U.S. Demand for 'Rule of Law' As U.S. Ramps Up War In Syria, June 23, 2013. Hong Kong snubbed the United States June 23 by refusing to extradite former NSA contractor Edward Snowden to face spy charges.  Separately, Kerry committed the United States to join 10 other nations in a "Group of 11" to topple Syria's government by a major escalation into Syria's civil war by the West and the Gulf monarchies. This column summarizes the recent global difficulties for the United States on these issues. An appendix below includes commentaries on Snowden and Syria.

Dick Russell and Jesse Ventura

Jesse Ventura: Fighting for Our Freedoms Against Both Parties, June 14, 2013. Jesse Ventura, right, the best-selling author and former Independent Minnesota governor, joined my weekly radio show to discuss his fight against the ongoing assault on American freedoms. Ventura is the nation's most outspoken highly credentialed opponent of two-party complicity in eroding traditional American liberties. His updated book, at right, is especially timely following continuing revelations of massive secret surveillance by federal agencies on the American public. The latest was a Bloomberg news report June 13, U.S. Agencies Said to Swap Data With Thousands of Firms. The report said, "Thousands of technology, finance and manufacturing companies are working closely with U.S. national security agencies, providing sensitive information and in return receiving benefits that include access to classified intelligence, four people familiar with the process said."

Daniel Ellsberg: Snowden's NSA Leak Was Heroic, Historic, June 10, 2013. Edward Snowden's release of secret NSA surveillance methods used against the America public makes him the most admirable and important whistleblower in national security history. That's the view of Pentagon Papers leaker Daniel Ellsberg, left, the nation's best-known and most-honored whistleblower after he risked imprisonment in 1971 to leak to the media the secret Defense Department history of the Vietnam War. “There’s no American official or former official that I admire more at this point," Ellsberg told a reporter. "There’s never been a more important disclosure to the American people than the leak [by Snowden] — and I include the Pentagon Papers in that." Ellsberg continued by saying of Snowden, 29,  "He’s clearly ready to give his life or his freedom for the interests of his country.”

'American Conservative' Publisher Decries Major Media Conventional Wisdom, Cover-ups, June 7, 2013. A conservative magazine publisher has created a stir during recent weeks by his non-partisan attack on shoddy and otherwise incomplete reporting by the mainstream media on vital national issues. American Conservative Publisher Ron Unz published on April 29 "Our American Pravda: The major media overlooked Communist spies and Madoff’s fraud. What are they missing today?" The long article described missed or misplayed national stories over the past three decades. Among them, he wrote, was coverage of the run-up to the Iraq War, which he described as one of the nation's greatest disasters. Unz, right, is a former Republican gubernatorial candidate in California's 1994 elections, a theoretical physicist by training, and a software developer by profession.
Dianne Feinstein

California Senator Rejects Criticism of Privacy Violations, Husband's Deal, June 7, 2013. The chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee promptly defended on June 6 the massive invasions of Americans' privacy increasingly apparent under her watch. California Democrat Dianne Feinstein, left, justified government surveillance of citizen phone calls, emails, social media and other electronic communications as necessary for national security. Her defense of Orwellian Big Brother techniques matched those of most other Capitol Hill and Obama administration leaders. One news report said, Administration, lawmakers defend NSA program to collect phone records.

Obama Doubles Down on National Security Strategy, June 7, 2013. The Obama administration and its critics separately hardened their national security positions this week. The White House named UN Ambassador Susan Rice and former White House analyst Samantha Power to cabinet-level posts. Meanwhile, the Obama White House suffered embarrassment from major revelations regarding its surveillance of the public, prosecutions of leakers, and its dubious regime-change strategies in the Mideast. The most recent was the Thursday revelation by the Washington Post of Documents: U.S. intelligence mining data from nine U.S. Internet companies in broad secret program. The Post story illustrating how the federal government is secretly capturing consumer date from such sites as Google, Facebook, Apple, MSN, Skype, Yahoo! and YouTube followed a Guardian report that Verizon was secretly handing over the federal government data on tens of millions of international calls.

Obama's FBI Nominee Deserves Tough Scrutiny....That He Won't Get, Andrew Kreig, June 2, 2013. President Obama's prospective nominee to lead the FBI for a 10-year term, James Comey, deserves rigorous scrutiny for his civil rights record -- scrutiny he is unlikely to receive. The White House leaked to friendly reporters last week its plan to nominate Comey, right, a former deputy attorney general during the Bush administration. A Republican, Comey was a high-profile federal prosecutor in New York City and Virginia earlier in his career.

Free Press Expert Goodale Warns Against Obama DOJ's Abuses, May 24, 2013. One of the nation's most battle-tested First Amendment experts warned this week that President Obama "surely" will exceed the 1970s abuses of Richard Nixon "as the worst president ever on issues of national security and press freedom." James C. Goodale was New York Times general counsel during its 1971 fight with the Nixon administration to publish the Pentagon Papers. Goodale, at left, published a Times op-ed May 21, that said, "Only Nixon Harmed a Free Press More,” cited recent revelations about the Obama Justice Department's extreme measures to plug national security leaks by secret surveillance of more than 100 Associated Press reporter phones, as well as intense surveillance of a Fox reporter suspected of speaking with a State Department contractor. "The search warrant filed to investigate the Fox News reporter James Rosen proved as many had suspected: President Obama wants to make it a crime for a reporter to talk to a leaker," Goodale wrote. "Until President Obama came into office, no one thought talking or e-mailing was not protected by the First Amendment." Goodale appeared as a guest May 24 on the MTL Washington Update weekly public affairs show I co-host with Scott Draughon.

Editor's Note: Appendices for the columns above replicate some of the excerpts below, which are organized more for research purposes than to illustrate the themes of columns.

 

Related News Coverage

Latest Updates

Atlantic, The Surveillance Speech: A Low Point in Barack Obama's Presidency, Conor Friedersdorf, Aug. 12, 2013. His tone on Friday was inappropriately dismissive, while the substance was misleading at best and mendacious at worst. On Friday, President Obama spoke to us about surveillance as though we were precocious children. He proceeded as if widespread objections to his policies can be dispatched like a parent answers an eight-year-old who has formally protested her bedtime. He is so proud that we've matured enough to take an interest in our civil liberties! Why, he used to think just like us when he was younger, and promises to consider our arguments. But some decisions just have to be made by the grownups. Do we know how much he loves us? Can we even imagine how awful he would feel if anything bad ever happened while it was still his job to ensure our safety? By observing Obama's condescension, I don't mean to suggest tone was the most objectionable part of the speech. The disinformation should bother the American people most. The weasel words. The impossible-to-believe protestations. The factually inaccurate assertions.

AP via Huffington Post, Vehicle Records Taken By Law Enforcement Agencies Across America: ACLU, Anne Flaherty and Calvin Woodward, July 17, 2013. You can drive, but you can't hide. A rapidly growing network of police cameras is capturing, storing and sharing data on license plates, making it possible to stitch together people's movements whether they are stuck in a commute, making tracks to the beach or up to no good. For the first time, the number of license tag captures has reached the millions, according to a study published Wednesday by the American Civil Liberties Union based on information from hundreds of law enforcement agencies. Departments keep the records for weeks or years, sometimes indefinitely, saying they can be crucial in tracking suspicious cars, aiding drug busts, finding abducted children and more. Attached to police cars, bridges or buildings – and sometimes merely as an app on a police officer's smartphone – scanners capture images of passing or parked vehicles and pinpoint their locations, uploading that information into police databases. Over time, it's unlikely many vehicles in a covered area escape notice. And with some of the information going into regional databases encompassing multiple jurisdictions, it's becoming easier to build a record of where someone has been and when, over a large area.

Washington Post, Kerry, in Brunei, faces European anger over Snowden’s NSA disclosures, Karen DeYoung, July 1, 2013. Secretary of State John F. Kerry said he was taken by surprise Monday when European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton questioned him here about reports that the United States conducted electronic monitoring of E.U. offices and computer networks. “I honestly hadn’t heard about it. I hadn’t seen any of those reports,” said Kerry, who has spent the last several days immersed in shuttle diplomacy in the Middle East. He arrived here Monday morning, after an all-night flight from Israel, on the last stop of an eight-nation tour.

Reuters via Huffington Post, EU Confronts Washington Reports Of Spying On Allies, Ben Deighton and Annika Breidthardt, June 30, 2013. The European Union has demanded that the United States explain a report in a German magazine that Washington is spying on the group, using unusually strong language to confront its closest trading partner over its alleged surveillance activities. A spokeswoman for the European Commission said on Sunday the EU contacted U.S. authorities in Washington and Brussels about a report in Der Spiegel magazine that the U.S. secret service had tapped EU offices in Washington and Brussels and at the United Nations. Der Spiegel reported on its website on Saturday that the National Security Agency had bugged EU offices and gained access to EU internal computer networks in the latest revelation of alleged U.S. spying that has prompted outrage from EU politicians. The magazine followed up on Sunday with a report that the U.S. secret service taps half a billion phone calls, emails and text messages in Germany in a typical month and has classed its biggest European ally as a target similar to China. Revelations about the alleged U.S. spying program, which became public through documents taken by fugitive former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, have raised a furore in the United States and abroad over the balance between privacy rights and national security. The extent to which Washington's EU allies are being monitored has emerged as an issue of particular concern.

Washington Post, Five myths about the National Security Agency, James Bamford, June 21, 2013. James Bamford, left, is the author of three books on the NSA, including “The Shadow Factory: The Ultra-Secret NSA From 9/11 to the Eavesdropping on America.” When the National Security Agency was created through a top-secret memorandum signed by President Harry Truman in 1952, the agency was so secret that only a few members of Congress knew about it. While the NSA gradually became known over the decades, its inner workings remain extremely hidden, even with the recent leaks about its gathering of Americans’ phone records and tapping into data from the nine largest Internet companies. Let’s pull back the shroud a bit to demystify this agency. 1. The NSA is allowed to spy on everyone, everywhere. After his release of documents to the Guardian and The Washington Post, former NSA contractor Edward Snowden said, “I, sitting at my desk, certainly had the authorities to wiretap anyone, from you or your accountant to a federal judge to even the president if I had a personal e-mail.” But Snowden probably couldn’t eavesdrop on just about anyone, including the president, without breaking the law.

OpEdNews, Greenwald: Every Phone Call is Recorded and Stored-- A Globalized System Designed to Destroy Privacy, includes video, Rob Kall, June 29, 2013. Glenn Greenwald, in a skyped in talk to the Socialism 2013 Conference, told the audience, for the first time, according to him, about his experience going through the process of encountering, interacting with Ed Snowden, at first anonymously, then seeing his first evidence that Snowden was the real deal. "It made me dizzy," he described. Greenwald, who has been a regular at the conference for several years, told the audience that a bombshell he would soon be releasing was that "NSA can redirect to its storage one billion cell phone calls every thing day. They are storing every call and have the capability to listen to them... It is a globalized system designed to destroy all privacy--- with no accountabliity and no safeguards." He described the debate about his journalism is " being led by TV actors who play the role of journalists on TV. " Glenn discussed how the US military's banning of access to the Guardian, the paper he publishes with, at all military bases, was better than receiving a Pulitzer or any other journalism award. He cited David Halberstam, saying, "David Halberstam viewed the measure of good journalism by how much you anger the people in power."   

Occidental Observer, Israel and the NSA Scandal, Kevin MacDonald, June 22, 2013. It’s always seemed very suspicious that Amdocs, an Israeli firm, was responsible for billing for US phone companies, and that two Israeli firms, Narus and Verint, are involved in wiretapping AT&T and Verizon for the NSA. It’s also not surprising that, as noted by James Bamford in his April 2012 article for Wired, someone with close connections to Israel secretly gave software designed by NSA to Israel. See also, Taki's Magazine, Does Israel Have a Backdoor to US Intelligence? Steve Sailer, June 12, 2013. Informed observers have assumed for most of this century that American telephone metadata may well already be available to a foreign military-intelligence complex via hypothesized “backdoors” coded into complex commercial software. In December 2001, Fox News’ chief political correspondent Carl Cameron delivered a four-part series on Israel’s surveillance of American targets. For unexplained reasons, Fox disappeared Cameron’s series down the memory hole later that month, although copies of the episodes survive on the Internet. “It apparently hasn’t hurt Israel that so many Washington and Wall Street insiders assume that Israel knows their secrets.” Cameron drew attention to Israel’s strategic initiative to dominate communications software.

National Press Club, AP CEO calls for new Justice Department guidelines to protect journalists, Robert Webb, June 19, 2013. The Department of Justice's seizure of Associated Press phone records has made it tougher for reporters to do their jobs, AP President and CEO Gary Pruitt said Wednesday, June 19 at a National Press Club luncheon. Pruitt, shown in a photo courtesy of Noel St. John, called for new Justice Department guidelines that include protections for journalists' email and text messages, and a federal shield law "with teeth." The Justice Department's seizure unsettled sources and chilled reporting, he said. "Some longtime trusted sources have become nervous and anxious about talking with us -- even on stories unrelated to national security," Pruitt said. "Others are reluctant to meet in person. In one instance, our journalists could not get a law enforcement official to confirm a detail that had been reported elsewhere." AP is not the only media to suffer, he said. "Journalists from other news organizations have personally told me that has intimidated both official and non-official sources speaking to them as well," Pruitt said.

Guardian, Revealed: the top secret rules that allow NSA to use US data without a warrant, Glenn Greenwald and James Ball, June 20, 2013. FISA court submissions show broad scope of procedures governing NSA's surveillance of Americans' communication. Top secret documents submitted to the court that oversees surveillance by US intelligence agencies show the judges have signed off on broad orders which allow the NSA to make use of information "inadvertently" collected from domestic US communications without a warrant. The Guardian is publishing in full two documents submitted to the secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (known as the Fisa court), signed by Attorney General Eric Holder and stamped 29 July 2009. They detail the procedures the NSA is required to follow to target "non-US persons" under its foreign intelligence powers and what the agency does to minimize data collected on US citizens and residents in the course of that surveillance. The documents show that even under authorities governing the collection of foreign intelligence from foreign targets, US communications can still be collected, retained and used.

Washington Post, Firm allegedly misled U.S. on security checks, Tom Hamburger and Zachary A. Goldfarb, June 27, 2013. Federal investigators have told lawmakers they have evidence that USIS, the contractor that screened Edward Snowden for his top-secret clearance, repeatedly misled the government about the thoroughness of its background checks, according to people familiar with the matter. The alleged transgressions are so serious that a federal watchdog indicated he plans to recommend that the Office of Personnel Management, which oversees most background checks, end ties with USIS unless it can show it is performing responsibly, the people said.
 
Washington Post, Justice Dept. targets retired general in leak investigation, Greg Miller and Sari Horwitz, June 27, 2013. A retired four-star Marine Corps general who served as the nation’s second-ranking military officer is a target of a Justice Department investigation into a leak of information about a covert U.S.-Israeli cyberattack on Iran’s nuclear program, a senior Obama administration official said. Retired Gen. James E. “Hoss” Cartwright served as deputy chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and was part of President Obama’s inner circle on a range of critical national security issues before he retired in 2011. The administration official said that Cartwright is suspected of revealing information about a highly classified effort to use a computer virus later dubbed Stuxnet to sabotage equipment in Iranian nuclear enrichment plants.

Zero Hedge, NSA Whistleblower: NSA Illegally Spied On Top Generals, All Supreme Court Justices, White House Spokesman, George Washington (pen name), June 21, 2013. As we reported yesterday, NSA whistleblower Russel Tice – a key source in the 2005 New York Times report that blew the lid off the Bush administration’s use of warrantless wiretapping – told Peter B. Collins on Boiling Frogs Post (the website of FBI whistleblower Sibel Edmonds) that the NSA spied on and targeted for blackmail:

  •    "Members of Congress, both Senate and the House, especially on the intelligence committees and on the armed services committees and some of the–and judicial" 
  •     "One of the judges is now sitting on the Supreme Court"
  •     "Two ... former FISA court judges"
  •     "State Department officials"
  •     "People in the executive service that were part of the White House–their own people"
  •     "Antiwar groups"
  •     "U.S. companies that that do international business"
  •     "U.S. banking firms and financial firms that do international business"
  •     "NGOs that–like the Red Cross, people like that that go overseas and do humanitarian work"
  •     "The president of the United States now [i.e. Barack Obama, when he was running for Senate]"

MediaIte, ‘Out Of Control’: Fox Hosts Take On Whistleblower Claim That NSA Wiretapped Obama In 2004, Meenal Vamburkar, June 21, 2013. Video. On Friday, Fox & Friends tackled the recent report about Bush-era whistleblower Russell Tice — who came forward with information about warrantless wiretapping — and his claim that the NSA wiretapped President Obama back in 2004. The report demonstrates why all Americans should care about this issue, they asserted, criticizing an intelligence community that appears to be “out of control.” Tice apparently said the surveillance looked into many including high-ranking military members, judges, diplomats, and lawmakers. “Here’s the big one,” Tice said. “This was in summer of 2004, one of the papers that I held in my hand was to wiretap a bunch of numbers associated with a 40-something-year-old wannabe senator for Illinois. You wouldn’t happen to know where that guy lives right now would you? It’s a big white house in Washington, D.C. That’s who they went after, and that’s the president of the United States now.”

FireDogLake, 100 Groups Seek investigation into NSA Spying, Brian Sonenstein, June 19, 2013. A bipartisan coalition of over 100 civil liberties organizations and internet companies is calling for  a full-scale, Church Committee-style congressional investigation into NSA spying abuses.

Lawfare, Today’s Headlines and Commentary, Raffaela Wakeman, June 19, 2013. Yesterday’s House intelligence committee hearing with top intelligence agency and DOJ officials drew a big crowd and much news. The New York Times editorial today focuses on President Obama’s interview with Charlie Rose and yesterday’s House intelligence hearing.

FireDogLake, Rereading Michael Hastings’ Interview with Julian Assange, Kevin Gosztola, June 19, 2013. Someone who had a great passion for what he did and embodied the adversarial spirit that muckraking reporters should have in journalism died in a car accident at a young age. Rolling Stone contributor Michael Hastings, shown at right in a screen shot from a Democracy Now! interview, died in a car crash in Los Angeles at the age of 33. His death also happens to come almost exactly one year after WikiLeaks editor-in-chief Julian Assange sought asylum from Ecuador and entered the country’s embassy in the United Kingdom. Hastings is one of the few reporters in the world to have conducted and published a major interview with Assange. He interviewed him back in December 2011 when Pfc. Bradley Manning first appeared in a military court at Fort Meade. As someone who has aggressively covered the Manning court martial, along with Julian Assange and WikiLeaks, I found myself going back over the interview that Hastings did. I read it when it was released , but, a year and a half later, there are bits and pieces I am noticing that make it an enduring piece of work. Hastings, unlike many other journalists, took seriously the fact that the United States government had decided to target Assange. He listened to what Assange had to say about how the Justice Department was likely pursuing him in a widespread investigation. Assange answered, “The U.S. government is trying to redefine what have been long-accepted journalistic methods. If the Pentagon is to have its way, it will be the end of national-security journalism in the United States.”

Huffington Post, Obama Defends NSA Surveillance Program, Says It's 'Transparent,' Mollie Reilly, June 17, 2013. President Barack Obama further defended the National Security Agency's collection of phone and other electronic records to PBS' Charlie Rose, calling the program "transparent." n a pretaped interview set to air Monday evening, Obama gave a forceful defense of the program, saying that the NSA had not unlawfully targeted Americans. "What I can say unequivocally is that if you are a U.S. person, the NSA cannot listen to your telephone calls, and the NSA cannot target your emails … and have not," Obama said, according to a transcript provided by PBS.Rose pressed Obama on the point, according to the transcript.

AP via Huffington Post, Edward Snowden Guardian Chat: Leaker Defends Decision To Release Documents, Kimberly Dozier, June 17, 2013. NSA leaker Edward Snowden is defending his disclosure of top-secret U.S. spying programs in an online chat Monday with The Guardian and attacking U.S. officials for calling him a traitor. "The U.S. government is not going to be able to cover this up by jailing or murdering me," he said. He added the government "immediately and predictably destroyed any possibility of a fair trial at home," by labeling him a traitor, and indicated he would not return to the U.S. voluntarily.

Washington Post, NSA chief: 50 terror plots foiled by surveillance, Ellen Nakashima, June 18, 2013. Gen. Keith Alexander says one of the “potential terrorist events” was directed at the New York Stock Exchange.  
 
Washington Post, How an e-mail address disrupted plots in Britain and U.S., Peter Finn and Greg Miller,  June 18, 2013. The NSA was monitoring the Yahoo user in Pakistan when a peculiar message arrived from a man named Najibullah Zazi, an Afghan American living in Aurora, Colo. But some critics of NSA surveillance suggested that the collection of data under a program called PRISM was not essential to Zazi’s capture because the British first obtained the critical e-mail address. Still, the case study provides a rare glimpse of how the broad surveillance practices of the United States, often in concert with allies, are deployed.

Huffington Post, Media's Edward Snowden Haters Club Keeps Growing, Jack Mirkinson, June 17, 2013. In trashing NSA leaker Edward Snowden on Sunday, CBS's Bob Schieffer joined a fast-growing club of establishment pundits who have derided his actions and questioned his character. It has seemed sometimes that commentators have been trying to compete for who can come up with the most sneering description of Snowden. The Washington Post's Richard Cohen seemed likely to win the contest when he confusingly dubbed Snowden a "cross-dressing Little Red Riding Hood." (Huh?) Schieffer might have managed to trump all of those rivals, though, when he lamented that Snowden did not live up to the likes of Rosa Parks or Martin Luther King. While it's definitely true that Snowden will probably not leave a legacy on the same scale as Rosa Parks, it's a bit of a strange test to match him against two of the greatest people in human history. Judged against them, most people would fail. For now, though, Schieffer is in first place in the anti-Snowden contest.

Fearless Media via Huffington Post, It's Time for the Press to Fight Back Against Secrecy, Dan Froomkin, June 17, 2013. Despite the recent blockbuster leaks about spying on the phone records of millions of Americans, and President Obama's stated willingness to discuss the issues they raise, a front-page New York Times article on June 10 asserted that "legal and political obstacles" make a vigorous public debate about surveillance and civil liberties highly unlikely.  Scott Shane and Jonathan Weisman of the Times made a solid case that neither the executive nor legislative branches -- and neither Democratic nor Republican leaders -- show real interest in disclosing anything more about the programs. As for the president, they noted that his record on national security disclosures belies any commitment to transparency. But the Times story disregarded another possible influence: The media itself.

FireDoglake, Americans Overwhelmingly Oppose Getting Involved in Syria, Jon Walker, June 17, 2013. President Obama’s decision to step up military aid to the rebels in Syria is in dramatic opposition to the will of the electorate. According to Pew Research poll, regular Americans overwhelmingly don’t want the United States to arm the rebels. Only 20 percent support this action, while 70 percent oppose it. Opposing to arming the rebel is strong across party lines.

Washington Post, Fine Print: In digital world, oversight of intelligence gathering is key, Walter Pincus, June 17, 2013. Americans are learning what electronics whizzes and hackers have known all along — that computers and smartphones, which make our lives more productive and entertaining, have at the same time ended privacy as most of us have understood it. Every e-mail, cellphone call, transferred photo, video and voice mail, online purchase and Internet game leaves a digital trail that identifies not just sender, receiver, length of message and location but also a variety of other data that perhaps we hoped to keep secret. In Microsoft’s Web-posted Law Enforcement Request Report for 2012, the company recorded 75,378 law enforcement requests that “potentially impacted 137,424 accounts.” Some 11,000 requests from the United States were listed; they involved about 25,000 accounts. Turkey made several hundred more requests, but they related to only 14,000 accounts. Roughly 80 percent of the requests were for what Microsoft characterized as “Subscriber/Transactional” data, meaning they did not involve actual content, just evidence that a to-and-from exchange took place. Of the 1,558 requests that Microsoft said involved subscriber content, all but 14 were from the United States. The 14 others were sought by entities from Brazil, Canada and New Zealand.

Government Overview

National Security Agency, Utah Data Center, Government website (accessed June 12, 2013.) The Utah Data Center, code-named Bumblehive, right, is the first Intelligence Community Comprehensive National Cyber-security Initiative (IC CNCI) data center designed to support the Intelligence Community's efforts to monitor, strengthen and protect the nation. NSA is the executive agent for the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) and will be the lead agency at the center. The steady rise in available computer power and the development of novel computer platforms will enable us to easily turn the huge volume of incoming data into an asset to be exploited, for the good of the nation.

Central Intelligence Agency, Editor's Note: The CIA maintains a library of recent publications available to the public online via the link: Studies in Intelligence.

An example is the following report: An Insider’s Perspective on Innovation During Fiscal Austerity: The Early Evolution of the Predator Drone, Frank Strickland, March 2013. Editor’s note: The author, as a senior officer of the CIA’s Directorate of Science and Technology, was Director of Central Intelligence James Woolsey’s staff officer for the Predator project. Among his duties was the conduct of a detailed operational evaluation of the Predator’s initial deployment. Woolsey served as the DCI from 5 February 1993 to 10 January 1995. Summary of article: The history of one government project, the GNAT 750, and its rapid evolution into today’s Predator UAV demonstrates that fiscal austerity can be an ”innovator’s opportunity. "Innovations in national security capabilities need not decrease during times when security needs collide with austere budgets, and government and industry leaders must continue promoting innovation even as budget cuts drive reductions in some capabilities. The history of one government project, the GNAT 750 and its rapid evolution into today’s Predator UAV — America’s first operational long endurance unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) or “drone”—demonstrates that fiscal austerity can be an innovator’s opportunity. The opportunity, however, is only recognized and realized by teams of people with extraordinary combinations of leadership, commitments to missions, technical know-how, and bureau expertise."

Washington Post, Obama defends sweeping surveillance efforts, Philip Rucker, Sean Sullivan and and Aaron Blake, June 7, 2013. President Obama strongly defended the government’s secret surveillance of people’s phone records and Internet activities Friday, saying there are “a whole bunch of safeguards involved” and that Congress has repeatedly authorized the programs. Commenting on the surveillance for the first time since news organizations revealed the sweeping National Security Agency programs this week, Obama highlighted limits to the programs to protect the privacy of U.S. citizens and said the surveillance has helped the government thwart terrorist attacks. “They make a difference in our capacity to anticipate and prevent possible terrorist activity,” Obama said. He added that the programs are “under very strict supervision by all three branches of government and they do not involve listening to people’s phone calls, do not involve reading the e-mails of U.S. citizens and U.S. residents.”

National Security Agency (NSA) Director Keith Alexander is shown at left. Alexander also holds the titles of Chief of the U.S. Central Security Service and Commander of the Cyber Command. He previously served as Deputy Chief of Staff of the U.S. Army from 2003 to 2005. He was born in Syracuse, New York in 1951, and entered active duty at the United States Military Academy at West Point.

Reuters via Huffington Post, NSA Leaks Investigation Report Filed, Timothy Gardner and Mark Hosenball, June 8, 2013. A U.S. intelligence agency requested a criminal probe on Saturday into the leak of highly classified information about secret surveillance programs run by the National Security Agency. Director of National Intelligence James Clapper launched an aggressive defense of a secret government data collection program. Clapper, right, blasted what he called "reckless disclosures" of a highly classified spy agency project code-named PRISM. It was not known how broad a leaks investigation was requested by the super-secret NSA. The report goes to the Justice Department. Prosecutors have brought a series of high-profile leak investigations under President Barack Obama. U.S. officials said the NSA leaks were so astonishing they expected the Justice Department to take the case. In a statement earlier on Saturday, Clapper acknowledged PRISM's existence by name for the first time and said it had been mischaracterized by the media.

Washington Post, For NSA chief, passion to prevent attacks drives ‘collect it all’ approach, Ellen Nakashima and Joby Warrick, July 14, 2013.    Gen. Keith Alexander’s aggressive methods fuel debate over the divide between privacy and security.

Director of National Intelligence, Facts on the Collection of Intelligence Pursuant to Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, James Clapper, June 8, 2013. PRISM is not an undisclosed collection or data mining program. It is an internal government computer system used to facilitate the government’s statutorily authorized collection of foreign intelligence information from electronic communication service providers under court supervision, as authorized by Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) (50 U.S.C. § 1881a). This authority was created by the Congress and has been widely known and publicly discussed since its inception in 2008. Under Section 702 of FISA, the United States Government does not unilaterally obtain information from the servers of U.S. electronic communication service providers. All such information is obtained with FISA Court approval and with the knowledge of the provider based upon a written directive from the Attorney General and the Director of National Intelligence. In short, Section 702 facilitates the targeted acquisition of foreign intelligence information concerning foreign targets located outside the United States under court oversight. Service providers supply information to the Government when they are lawfully required to do so. The Government cannot target anyone under the court-approved procedures for Section 702 collection unless there is an appropriate, and documented, foreign intelligence purpose for the acquisition (such as for the prevention of terrorism, hostile cyber activities, or nuclear proliferation) and the foreign target is reasonably believed to be outside the United States. We cannot target even foreign persons overseas without a valid foreign intelligence purpose.

Expert Critics

Editor's Note: James Bamford, former investigative editor for ABC-TV and author of the leading books about the NSA, described its new Bluffdale Data Center in a major article in 2012 for Wired Magazine.

Bamford, at left, had disclosed the operations of the super-secret NSA in The Puzzle Palace in 1982. Later, however, NSA Director Michael Hayden cooperated with Bamford in the latter's 2001 book, Body of Secrets, chronicling NSA's vast spying operation. Bamford's The Shadow Factory in 2009 continued his book-length, cutting-edge reporting. His Wired cover-story below was the Inside the Matrix: The NSA Is Building the Country’s Biggest Spy Center (Watch What You Say), published in the edition of March 15, 2012.

This week, Bamford published in Wired the authoritative article below.

Wired, Connecting the Dots on PRISM, Phone Surveillance, and the NSA’s Massive Spy Center, James Bamford, June 6, 2013. Physically, the NSA has always been well protected by miles of high fences and electrified wire, thousands of cameras, and gun-toting guards. But that was to protect the agency from those on the outside trying to get in to steal secrets. Now it is confronting a new challenge: those on the inside going out and giving the secrets away.

As someone who has written many books and articles about the agency, I have seldom seen the NSA in such a state. Like a night prowler with a bag of stolen goods suddenly caught in a powerful Klieg light, it now finds itself under the glare of nonstop press coverage, accused of robbing the public of its right to privacy. Despite the standard denials from the agency’s public relations office, the documents outline a massive operation to secretly keep track of everyone’s phone calls on a daily basis – billions upon billions of private records; and another to reroute the pipes going in and out of Google, Apple, Yahoo, and the other Internet giants through Fort Meade – figuratively if not literally.

But long before Edward Snowden walked out of the NSA with his trove of documents, whistleblowers there had been trying for years to bring attention to the massive turn toward domestic spying that the agency was making. Last year in my Wired cover story on the enormous new NSA data center in Utah, Bill Binney, the man who largely designed the agency’s worldwide eavesdropping system, warned of the secret, nationwide surveillance. He told how the NSA had gained access to billions of billing records not only from AT&T but also from Verizon. “That multiplies the call rate by at least a factor of five,” he said. “So you’re over a billion and a half calls a day.” Among the top-secret documents Snowden released was a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court order proving the truth to Binney’s claim and indicating that the operation was still going on. Without documents to prove their claims, the agency simply dismissed them as falsehoods and much of the mainstream press simply accepted that.

“We don’t hold data on U.S. citizens,” NSA Director Keith Alexander said in a talk at the American Enterprise Institute last summer, by which time he had been serving as the head of the NSA for six years. The deception by General Alexander is especially troubling. In my new cover story for Wired’s July issue, which will be published online Thursday, I show how he has become the most powerful intelligence chief in the nation’s history. Never before has anyone in America’s intelligence sphere come close to his degree of power, the number of people under his command, the expanse of his rule, the length of his reign, or the depth of his secrecy. The article also sheds light on the enormous privatization not only of the intelligence agencies but now also of Cyber Command, with thousands of people working for little-known companies hired to develop the weapons of cyber war, cyber targeting, and cyber exploitation. The Snowden case demonstrates the potential risks involved when the nation turns its spying and eavesdropping over to companies with lax security and inadequate personnel policies. The risks increase exponentially when those same people must make critical decisions involving choices that may lead to war, cyber or otherwise.

Observer, Revealed: secret European deals to hand over private data to America, Jamie Dowden, June 30, 2013. Germany 'among countries offering intelligence' according to new claims by former US defense analyst. At least six European Union countries in addition to Britain have been colluding with the US over the mass harvesting of personal communications data, according to a former contractor to America's National Security Agency, who said the public should not be "kept in the dark." Wayne Madsen, a former US navy lieutenant who first worked for the NSA in 1985, names Denmark, the Netherlands, France, Germany, Spain and Italy as having secret deals with the US. Madsen, shown at right in a file photo, said the countries had "formal second and third party status" under signal intelligence (sigint) agreements that compels them to hand over data, including mobile phone and internet information to the NSA if requested. Under international intelligence agreements, confirmed by declassified documents, nations are categorised by the US according to their trust level. The US is first party while the UK, Canada, Australia and  New Zealand enjoy second party relationships. Germany and France have third party relationships. In an interview published last night on the PrivacySurgeon.org blog, Madsen, who has been attacked for holding controversial views on espionage issues, said he had decided to speak out after becoming concerned about the "half story" told by EU politicians regarding the extent of the NSA's activities in Europe. He said that under the agreements, which were drawn up after the second world war, the "NSA gets the lion's share" of the sigint "take." In return, the third parties to the NSA agreements received "highly sanitised intelligence."

Strategic Culture Foundation, NSA is All about Preserving the Power of the Aristocracy in a Dystopian World, Wayne Madsen, June 28, 2013. The National Security Agency (NSA) has launched yet another high-powered charm offensive. The world’s largest communications and cyber-warfare intelligence agency insists that it unprecedented surveillance infrastructure exists merely to protect U.S. national security from terrorists and foreign intelligence agents. In fact, the NSA conducts massive political and economic intelligence gathering in order to preserve the vested interests of America’s aristocracy.

Atlantic, 2 Senators Say the NSA Is Still Feeding Us False Information, Conor Friedersdorf, June 25, 2013. How can a democratic republic function when the bureaucrats are constantly misleading the people? Senators Ron Wyden and Mark Udall say that at least one of the NSA's statements is inaccurate, and another one is misleading. "We were disappointed to see that this fact sheet contains an inaccurate statement about how the section 702 authority has been interpreted by the US government," they write. "In our judgment this inaccuracy is significant, as it portrays protections for Americans' privacy as being significantly stronger than they actually are." Notice that these two senators feel unable to tell us what the false information is or to correct the record -- just further evidence that classified programs subvert not only public debate, but also the ability of Congress to openly discuss policy and communicate with constituents. Wyden and Udall go on to address the NSA talking point that they characterize as "merely" misleading.

RT (Russia Today), ‘NSA ‘bamboozling’ lawmakers for access to Americans’ private data’ – agency, Staff report, June 12, 2013. American citizens hoping to change the way the NSA monitors their everyday activities have little hope of recourse, longtime agency veteran Bill Binney told RT. He said the way the Patriot Act is interpreted is the a big first step toward totalitarianism. American citizens hoping to change the way the NSA monitors their everyday activities have little hope of recourse, longtime agency veteran Bill Binney told RT. He said the way the Patriot Act is interpreted is the a big first step toward totalitarianism.

RT: I’m sitting here with Mr. William Binney -- he’s a thirty-two year veteran of the NSA who helped design a top-secret program that he says broadly changed Americans’ personal data. And he actually helped crack those codes, and enter into this. He’s now a whistleblower. Mr. Binney, thank you so much for joining me. So first of all, let’s talk about the latest information that has come out from this NSA spying on Americans.

Bill Binney: Well, first of all, the FISA warrant that was issued to the FBI to get the data from Verizon…that’s been going on, according to the paper anyway, since 2007. And this is like being renewed every three months. So if you look at the top-right corner of that order, it’s 13-80 -- that means it’s the 80thorder since this year of 2013. So when you start to say, so what are the other 79 orders? You can figure other companies. And this is like the second order of 2013, for each company. So that maximum -- you would divide 80 by two, and the maximum number of companies that could be involved in this order would be 40. But I’m sure that there are other things, that they have other orders they are issuing than just this kind, for the service providers, or the telecoms.

Huffington Post, Russ Tice, Bush-Era Whistleblower, Claims NSA Ordered Wiretap Of Barack Obama In 2004, Nick Wing, June 20, 2013. Russ Tice, a former intelligence analyst who in 2005 blew the whistle on what he alleged was massive unconstitutional domestic spying across multiple agencies, claimed Wednesday that the NSA had ordered wiretaps on phones connected to then-Senate candidate Barack Obama in 2004. Speaking on "The Boiling Frogs Show," Tice claimed the intelligence community had ordered surveillance on a wide range of groups and individuals, including high-ranking military officials, lawmakers and diplomats. "Here's the big one ... this was in summer of 2004, one of the papers that I held in my hand was to wiretap a bunch of numbers associated with a 40-something-year-old wannabe senator for Illinois," he said. "You wouldn't happen to know where that guy lives right now would you? It's a big white house in Washington, D.C. That's who they went after, and that's the president of the United States now." Host Sibel Edmonds and Tice both raised concerns that such alleged monitoring of subjects, unbeknownst to them, could provide the intelligence agencies with huge power to blackmail their targets. "I was worried that the intelligence community now has sway over what is going on," Tice said. After going public with his allegations in 2005, Tice later admitted that he had been a key source in a bombshell New York Times report that blew the lid off the Bush administration's use of warrantless wiretapping of international communications in the U.S. The article forced Bush to admit that the practice was indeed used on a small number of Americans, but Tice maintained that the NSA practice was likely being used the gather records for millions of Americans. The NSA denied Tice's allegations.

Reason, 3 Reasons the ‘Nothing to Hide’ Crowd Should Be Worried About Government Surveillance, Scott Shackford, June 12, 2013. Most people think the federal government would have no interest in them, but many discover to their horror how wrong they are. Responding to a popular reaction to news of the National Security Agency’s massive data collection program, blogger Daniel Sieradski started a Twitter feed called “Nothing to Hide.” He has retweeted hundreds of people who have declared in one form or another that they are not concerned that the federal government may spy on them. They say they have done nothing wrong, so they have nothing to hide. If it helps the government fight terrorists, go ahead, take their civil liberties away. In his blog, a frustrated Sieradski listed many of the abuses of power our federal government is known for; he is not happy with the "nothing to hide" crowd.

Bloomberg, U.S. Agencies Said to Swap Data With Thousands of Firms, Michael Riley, June 13, 2013. Thousands of technology, finance and manufacturing companies are working closely with U.S. national security agencies, providing sensitive information and in return receiving benefits that include access to classified intelligence, four people familiar with the process said. In addition to private communications, information about equipment specifications and data needed for the Internet to work -- much of which isn’t subject to oversight because it doesn’t involve private communications -- is valuable to intelligence, U.S. law-enforcement officials and the military. These programs, whose participants are known as trusted partners, extend far beyond what was revealed by Edward Snowden, a computer technician who did work for the National Security Agency. The role of private companies has come under intense scrutiny since his disclosure this month that the NSA is collecting millions of U.S. residents’ telephone records and the computer communications of foreigners from Google and other Internet companies under court order. Many of these same Internet and telecommunications companies voluntarily provide U.S. intelligence organizations with additional data, such as equipment specifications, that don’t involve private communications of their customers, the four people said.

New York Review of Books, Who’s in Big Brother’s Database? James Bamford, Nov. 5, 2009. Review of The Secret Sentry: The Untold History of the National Security Agency. Based on the NSA’s history of often being on the wrong end of a surprise and a tendency to mistakenly get the country into, rather than out of, wars, it seems to have a rather disastrous cost-benefit ratio. Were it a corporation, it would likely have gone belly-up years ago. The September 11 attacks are a case in point. For more than a year and a half the NSA was eavesdropping on two of the lead hijackers, knowing they had been sent by bin Laden, while they were in the US preparing for the attacks. The terrorists even chose as their command center a motel in Laurel, Maryland, almost within eyesight of the director’s office. Yet the agency never once sought an easy-to-obtain FISA warrant to pinpoint their locations, or even informed the CIA or FBI of their presence. But pulling the plug, or even allowing the lights to dim, seems unlikely given President Obama’s hawkish policies in Afghanistan. However, if the war there turns out to be the train wreck many predict, then Obama may decide to take a much closer look at the spy world’s most lavish spender.

Right and Left Political Commentaries

Huffington Post, Rand Paul: NSA Surveillance Programs Warrant Supreme Court Challenge, Mollie Reilly June 9, 2013. Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY.), left, said Sunday that he is weighing a Supreme Court challenge to the National Security Agency's controversial surveillance programs, calling the organization's collection of records an "extraordinary invasion of privacy." Paul said, "I'm going to be seeing if I can challenge this at the Supreme Court level." He continued on Fox News Sunday, "I’m going to be asking all the internet providers and all of the phone companies: Ask your customers to join me in a class action lawsuit. If we get 10 million Americans saying we don’t want our phone records looked at, then maybe someone will wake up and something will change in Washington."

Nation, How the Powerful Derail Accountability: The Case of Intelligence Reform (Part I), Rick Perlstein, July 1, 2013. Two weeks ago I reflected on how power uses distraction campaigns to do its dirtiest work—for instance, discrediting whistleblowers, and dissolving investigations that threaten to upend the cozy arrangements of the powerful. I cited the way the (authentic) story of George W. Bush going absent without leave from the Texas Air National Guard was derailed by raising questions about one (inauthentic) document; and how, in 1975, the killing of a CIA station chief in Greece was deployed to dampen momentum for a thorough reform of America's intelligence agencies. Today and tomorrow, we'll learn more about the latter example. I fear it will become more and more relevant as the weeks to on.  Some background. Christmastime, 1974, in a massive front page New York Times article, Seymour Hersh revealed that the CIA had collected intelligence files on at least 10,000 American citizens in direct violation of its 1947 charter stipulating that it was only allowed to work overseas. It also documented "dozens of other illegal activities by members of the C.I.A in the United States, beginning in the nineteen-fifties, including break-ins, wiretapping, and the surreptitious inspection of mail." Emerging but eighteen weeks after Richard Nixon's resignation, when the momentum for deep reckoning with America's sins had never been stronger, President Ford was forced to react. He impaneled a blue-ribbon commission to investigate the allegations—a paper-tiger panel made up of the very establishmentarians whose complicity in CIA sins should have been a subject of investigation itself. "Having the CIA investigated by such a group," the New York Times editorialized "is like having the Mafia audited by its own accountants." Not having any of it, both chambers of Congress impaneled their own select committees to investigate the CIA, FBI, and—later—the NSA.

Mediaite, Ralph Nader Slams Obama Again: ‘Has There Ever Been A Bigger Con Man In White House?’ Andrew Kirell, June 13, 2013 video. Appearing at a 92nd Street Y event with Democracy Now! host Amy Goodman last week, famed activist and former presidential candidate Ralph Nader tore into President Obama for a variety of issues, namely the lack of progress in mandating an increase in the minimum wage. After explaining that he believes the Democratic Party has purposely stalled action on increasing the federally-mandated wage rate, Nader suggested the president has shrugged off the issue for the last five years. This thought led Nader to reiterate a harsh question he posed to Goodman several years ago: “Has there ever been a bigger con man in the White House?” The audience applauded. “The one ingredient you want when you vote for somebody… it’s their moral courage and the fire in the belly,” he added, suggesting that Obama has lacked it. “That’s what makes all the difference in the world.”

FireDogLake, Uncle Sam = Big Brother? U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson, right, June 14, 2013. In George Orwell’s novel 1984, “Big Brother” is the dictator of Oceania. No one knows whether Big Brother is a real person, or simply the personification of the dictatorship. Big Brother spies on every citizen through “telescreens.” Everyone is reminded constantly, “Big Brother is Watching You.” Let’s compare that to the recent revelations about the Orwellian-named National Security Agency (NSA), an arm of the U.S. Department of Defense. The NSA has not denied that it is collecting call records on every America. On the contrary, the NSA sees nothing wrong with it. I see three fundamental problems with this:

1.This is worse than the proverbial “fishing expedition”; this is like putting the entire ocean through a sieve. It makes a mockery of the Fourth Amendment’s requirement that government searches be “particular.”
2.This assumes not only that everyone is guilty until proven innocent, but that everyone is guilty. The Fourth Amendment limits searches to cases of “probable cause,” meaning that a prudent and cautious person would reasonably believe that the search will yield evidence of a crime. Obviously, most phone records have absolutely nothing to do with the commission of any crime.
3.Providing this information to the Department of Defense violates the fundamental principle that our military does not operate on American soil, against American citizens. That principle has been embodied in law since the 1870s. From this perspective, providing this personal call record information to DoD is no different from providing it to the CIA – another agency that is not allowed to operate on US soil.

See also, Sag Harbor Basement Films via YouTube, Orwell Rolls in his Grave, written and directed by Robert Kane Pappas, 2003. Three-hour documentary explaining a portion of the information about media censorship, consolidation and propaganda. Orwell Rolls in His Grave is a 2003 documentary film. Covered topics include the Telecommunications Act of 1996, concentration of media ownership, political corruption, Federal Communications Commission (FCC), the controversy over the US presidential election of 2000 (particularly in Florida with Bush v. Gore), and the October surprise conspiracy theory.

Alex Jones' Infowars.com, Ron Paul and Wayne Madsen Interviews, Alex Jones, June 12, 2013. On today's show, we'll listen to former Congressman Ron Paul's defense of NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, who is surprisingly being labeled a 'traitor' by members of the Republican party. We also welcome journalist and author Wayne Madsen to give his take on the giant whirlwind of scandals.

Guardian, A Guide to Your Metadata, Staff Report, June 12, 2013. Metadata is information generated as you use technology, and its use has been the subject of controversy since NSA's secret surveillance program was revealed. Examples include the date and time you called somebody or the location from which you last accessed your email. The data collected generally does not contain personal or content-specific details, but rather transactional information about the user, the device and activities taking place. In some cases you can limit the information that is collected – by turning off location services on your cell phone for instance – but many times you cannot. Below, explore some of the data collected through activities you do every day.

Los Angeles Times, Ecuador quits U.S. trade deal to avoid 'blackmail' over Snowden, Chris Kraul and Pablo Jaramillo Viteri, June 27, 2013. Ecuador announced it was withdrawing from a 2-decade-old trade pact with the United States, saying the agreement left the South American nation vulnerable to “blackmail” as U.S. officials seek the return of fugitive Edward Snowden. The trade agreement was already at risk of not being renewed by the U.S. Congress before Ecuador began weighing whether to grant asylum to Snowden, the former contract worker for the National Security Agency who recently revealed extensive U.S. tracking of telephone communications and then fled from Hawaii to Hong Kong. Snowden, 30, is now believed to be holed up at the transit section of Moscow's Sheremetyevo airport while seeking a route to Ecuador or somewhere else that might grant him shelter.  Ecuadorean Communications Secretary Fernando Alvarado said the decision to forgo the Andean Trade Promotion and Drug Eradication Act agreement was “irreversible” and was made to avoid Ecuador being vulnerable to pressure from the U.S. over Snowden. “Ecuador renounces in a unilateral and irrevocable way these trade preferences,” Alvarado said, adding that in turn it was offering the U.S. a subsidy of $23 million -- the amount he said Ecuadorean traders benefited from the deal -- in human rights training.

OpEdNews, The Mask of Liberalism Falls As Their Pundits Accuse Snowden of Being a Traitor and Narcissist, Rob Kall, June 11, 2013. The liberal pundits in America are coming out, revealing themselves to be duopolist sycophants, serving the corporate state, serving the worst abuser of executive privilege in US history. The Liberal mainstream media is so "out of the closet" they are disgustingly naked. They are calling Edward Snowden -- who is absolutely a courageous hero -- a traitor and narcissist. Jeffrey Toobin suggests that because he left his good job and girlfriend he is being narcissistic. Funny, if a guy leaves a job in pro-sports to enlist, leaving his family, he's considered a hero. What a pure crock from a collection of limp liberals who wouldn't know courage if it bit them. Watch the former Obama appointees on MSNBC perform oral service for Obama. They have sold out the values that the Democratic party is supposed to and used to have. They have become political operatives.

Mediaite, Palin Blasts NSA: Couldn’t Find ‘Two Pot-Smoking Bostonians With Hotline To Terrorist Central?’ Evan McMurry, June 15, 2013. Sarah Palin addressed Ralph Reed’s Faith and Freedom Coalition’s Road to Majority conference Saturday morning, skewering Obama voters, the NSA, and Washington culture in general, and throwing a good-natured elbow to her “friends” at Saturday Night Live while she was at it. “It seems so Orwellian around here,” Palin said. “Before 1984, terms like ‘leading from behind’ meant following. The other day the White House testified before Congress, bragging that they used the ‘least untruthful statement.’ Where I come from that’s called a lie.”

FireDogLake, 100 Groups Seek investigation into NSA Spying, Brian Sonenstein, June 19, 2013. A bipartisan coalition of over 100 civil liberties organizations and internet companies is calling for  a full-scale, Church Committee-style congressional investigation into NSA spying abuses.

Defenses of NSA/Obama Spy Program by Officials, Former Officials

Huffington Post, Dick Cheney: Edward Snowden Is A 'Traitor' And Possibly A Chinese Spy, Jennifer Bendery, June 15, 2013. Former Vice President Dick Cheney said Sunday that Edward Snowden betrayed his country by leaking classified documents about the U.S. government's surveillance programs and warned that the former National Security Agency contractor may be spying for the Chinese government. "I think he's a traitor,” Cheney, right, said of Snowden in an interview with “Fox News Sunday.” "I think he has committed crimes in effect by violating agreements given the position he had," he continued. "I think it's one of the worst occasions in my memory f somebody with access to classified information doing enormous damage to the national security interests of the United States."

Huffington Post, Rep. Peter King: Reporters Should Be Prosecuted For Publishing Leaked Classified Information (VIDEO), Braden Goyette, June 12, 2013. Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.) said on CNN's "AC 360" Tuesday night that reporters should be prosecuted for publishing stories with leaked classified information. After King explained why he believes the recent NSA leaks pose a grave threat to national security, host Anderson Cooper asked him if he thinks the reporters who break stories off of leaked information should be punished in some way. "If they willingly knew that this was classified information, I think action should be taken, especially on something of this magnitude," King said. "I think on something of this magnitude, there is an obligation both moral but also legal, I believe, against a reporter disclosing something that would so severely compromise national security." Guardian reporter Glenn Greenwald, who broke the story of the NSA's phone record collecting practices last week, expressed his disbelief at King's remarks on Twitter.

Recent News Analysis and Commentary

Guardian, Revealed: the top secret rules that allow NSA to use US data without a warrant, Glenn Greenwald and James Ball, June 20, 2013. FISA court submissions show broad scope of procedures governing NSA's surveillance of Americans' communication Top secret documents submitted to the court that oversees surveillance by US intelligence agencies show the judges have signed off on broad orders which allow the NSA to make use of information "inadvertently" collected from domestic US communications without a warrant. The Guardian is publishing in full two documents submitted to the secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (known as the Fisa court), signed by Attorney General Eric Holder and stamped 29 July 2009. They detail the procedures the NSA is required to follow to target "non-US persons" under its foreign intelligence powers and what the agency does to minimize data collected on US citizens and residents in the course of that surveillance. The documents show that even under authorities governing the collection of foreign intelligence from foreign targets, US communications can still be collected, retained and used.

Washington Post, U.S. charges Snowden with espionage, Peter Finn and Sari Horwitz, June 21, 2013. Hong Kong authorities are asked to arrest the former National Security Agency contractor who leaked documents that revealed secret surveillance programs. Federal prosecutors have filed a criminal complaint against Edward Snowden, the former National Security Agency contractor who leaked a trove of documents about top-secret surveillance programs, and the United States has asked Hong Kong to detain him on a provisional arrest warrant, according to U.S. officials. Snowden was charged with theft, “unauthorized communication of national defense information” and “willful communication of classified communications intelligence information to an unauthorized person,” according to the complaint. The last two charges were brought under the 1917 Espionage Act.

Washington Post, Case in Chicago court raises questions about NSA surveillance in plot case, Ellen Nakashima, June 21, 2013. Four days before a sweeping government surveillance law was set to expire last year, Sen. Dianne Feinstein, the chairman of the chamber’s Intelligence Committee, took to the Senate floor. She touted the law’s value by listing some of the terrorist attacks it had helped thwart, including “a plot to bomb a downtown Chicago bar” that fall. “So I believe the FISA Amendments Act is important,” the California Democrat said before a vote to extend the 2008 law, “and these cases show the program has worked.” Today, however, the government is refusing to say whether that law was used to develop evidence to charge Adel Daoud, a 19-year-old Chicago man accused of the bomb plot.

Washington Post, Privacy board meets with Obama, Juliet Eilperin, June 21, 2013. President Obama held his first-ever meeting Friday with the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board (PCLOB) — the group charged with ensuring that the executive branch balances privacy and civil liberties needs with its national security efforts. The board promised a thorough review of how the administration conducts its secret surveillance programs, including the monitoring of Americans’ cellphone and e-mail traffic.

Washington Post, New documents reveal the bounds of NSA surveillance, Ellen Nakashima, Barton Gellman and Greg Miller, June 20, 2013. They describe a series of steps the world’s largest spy agency is supposed to take to keep Americans from being caught in its massive surveillance net.

Examiner.com, Top secret CIA dart gun causes fatal heart attacks, Fred Burks, June 20, 2013. Fred Burks is a former A top secret weapon of the CIA is used for conducting clandestine assassinations without leaving a trace of evidence. This specially designed secret weapon is a pistol which shoots a small poison dart to cause a heart attack, as explained in Congressional testimony in a short video clip from the powerful documentary Secrets of the CIA. By educating ourselves and others on vitally important matters like this, we can build a brighter future for us all. The dart from this secret CIA weapon penetrates clothing and leaves nothing but a tiny red dot on the skin. On penetration of the deadly dart, the individual targeted for assassination may feel as if bitten by a mosquito, or they may not feel anything at all. The poisonous dart completely disintegrates upon entering the target. The lethal poison then rapidly enters the bloodstream causing a heart attack. Once the damage is done, the poison denatures quickly, so that an autopsy is very unlikely to detect that the heart attack resulted from anything other than natural causes.

Sounds like the perfect James Bond weapon, doesn't it? Yet all of this is verifiable in Congressional testimony. The astonishing information about this top secret weapon of the CIA comes from U.S. Senate testimony in 1975 on rogue activities of the CIA. In this riveting exposé, five former CIA agents describe how their initial pride and enthusiasm at serving their nation turned to anguish and remorse, as they realized they were actually subverting democracy and killing innocent civilians in the name "national security" and promoting foreign policy agendas. With the ensuing leaps in technological capability, just imagine what kinds of secret weapons for assassination have been developed since. There is good evidence  that technology has even been developed to cause strong suicidal feelings in a targeted person.

McClatchy, Obama’s crackdown views leaks as aiding enemies of U.S., Marisa Taylor and Jonathan S. Landay, June 20, 2013.  Even before a former U.S. intelligence contractor exposed the secret collection of Americans’ phone records, the Obama administration was pressing a government-wide crackdown on security threats that requires federal employees to keep closer tabs on their co-workers and exhorts managers to punish those who fail to report their suspicions. President Barack Obama’s unprecedented initiative, known as the Insider Threat Program, is sweeping in its reach. It has received scant public attention even though it extends beyond the U.S. national security bureaucracies to most federal departments and agencies nationwide, including the Peace Corps, the Social Security Administration and the Education and Agriculture departments. It emphasizes leaks of classified material, but catchall definitions of “insider threat” give agencies latitude to pursue and penalize a range of other conduct. Government documents reviewed by McClatchy illustrate how some agencies are using that latitude to pursue unauthorized disclosures of any information, not just classified material. They also show how millions of federal employees and contractors must watch for “high-risk persons or behaviors” among co-workers and could face penalties, including criminal charges, for failing to report them.

Atlantic, 3 Former NSA Employees Praise Edward Snowden, Corroborate Key Claims, Conor Friedersdorf,June 18, 2013.The men, all whistleblowers, say he succeeded where they failed. USA Today has published an extraordinary interview with three former NSA employees who praise Edward Snowden's leaks, corroborate some of his claims, and warn about unlawful government acts. Thomas Drake, William Binney, and J. Kirk Wiebe each protested the NSA in their own rights. "For years, the three whistle-blowers had told anyone who would listen that the NSA collects huge swaths of communications data from U.S. citizens," the newspaper reports. "They had spent decades in the top ranks of the agency, designing and managing the very data collection systems they say have been turned against Americans. When they became convinced that fundamental constitutional rights were being violated, they complained first to their superiors, then to federal investigators, congressional oversight committees and, finally, to the news media." In other words, they blew the whistle in the way Snowden's critics suggest he should have done. And among them, they've now said all of the following:

  •     His disclosures did not cause grave damage to national security.
  •     What Snowden discovered is "material evidence of an institutional crime."
  •     As a system administrator, Snowden "could go on the network or go into any file or any system and change it or add to it or whatever, just to make sure -- because he would be responsible to get it back up and running if, in fact, it failed. So that meant he had access to go in and put anything.
  •     "The idea that we have robust checks and balances on this is a myth."
  •     Congressional overseers "have no real way of seeing into what these agencies are doing. They are totally dependent on the agencies briefing them on programs, telling them what they are doing."
  •     Lawmakers "don't really don't understand what the NSA does and how it operates. Even when they get briefings, they still don't understand."
  •     Asked what Edward Snowden should expect to happen to him, one of the men, William Binney, answered, "first tortured, then maybe even rendered and tortured and then incarcerated and then tried and incarcerated or even executed." Interesting that this is what a whistleblower thinks the U.S. government will do to a citizen. The abuse of Bradley Manning worked.

Guardian, GCHQ intercepted foreign politicians' communications at G20 summits, Ewen MacAskill, Nick Davies, Nick Hopkins, Julian Borger and James Ball, June 16, 2013. Exclusive: phones were monitored and fake internet cafes set up to gather information from allies in London in 2009. Foreign politicians and officials who took part in two G20 summit meetings in London in 2009 had their computers monitored and their phone calls intercepted on the instructions of their British government hosts, according to documents seen by the Guardian. Some delegates were tricked into using internet cafes which had been set up by British intelligence agencies to read their email traffic. The revelation comes as Britain prepares to host another summit on Monday – for the G8 nations, all of whom attended the 2009 meetings which were the object of the systematic spying. It is likely to lead to some tension among visiting delegates who will want the prime minister to explain whether they were targets in 2009 and whether the exercise is to be repeated this week. The disclosure raises new questions about the boundaries of surveillance by GCHQ and its American sister organisation, the National Security Agency, whose access to phone records and internet data has been defended as necessary in the fight against terrorism and serious crime. The G20 spying appears to have been organised for the more mundane purpose of securing an advantage in meetings. Named targets include long-standing allies such as South Africa and Turkey. There have often been rumours of this kind of espionage at international conferences, but it is highly unusual for hard evidence to confirm it and spell out the detail. The evidence is contained in documents – classified as top secret – which were uncovered by the NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden and seen by the Guardian.

Guardian, NSA targeted Dmitry Medvedev at London G20 summit, Ewen MacAskill, Nick Davies, Nick Hopkins, Julian Borger and James Ball, June 16, 2013. Leaked documents reveal Russian president was spied on during visit, as questions are raised over use of US base in Britain. American spies based in the UK intercepted the top-secret communications of the then Russian president, Dmitry Medvedev, during his visit to Britain for the G20 summit in London, leaked documents reveal. The details of the intercept were set out in a briefing prepared by the National Security Agency (NSA), America's biggest surveillance and eavesdropping organisation, and shared with high-ranking officials from Britain, Australia, Canada and New Zealand. The document, leaked by the NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden and seen by the Guardian, shows the agency believed it might have discovered "a change in the way Russian leadership signals have been normally transmitted."

Fearless Media via Huffington Post, It's Time for the Press to Fight Back Against Secrecy, Dan Froomkin, June 17, 2013. Despite the recent blockbuster leaks about spying on the phone records of millions of Americans, and President Obama's stated willingness to discuss the issues they raise, a front-page New York Times article on June 10 asserted that "legal and political obstacles" make a vigorous public debate about surveillance and civil liberties highly unlikely.  Scott Shane and Jonathan Weisman of the Times made a solid case that neither the executive nor legislative branches -- and neither Democratic nor Republican leaders -- show real interest in disclosing anything more about the programs. As for the president, they noted that his record on national security disclosures belies any commitment to transparency. But the Times story disregarded another possible influence: The media itself. And to some observers, that looked like capitulation: "For the paper of record to say that was sort of telegraphing that this whole thing is going to go away," says Josh Meyer, a former Los Angeles Times reporter who helps direct the National Security Journalism Initiative at Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism.

Mediaite, Greenwald Denounces Snowden ‘Smear Campaign’: ‘Tactic Of Establishment To Try To Demean People,' Evan McMurry, June 16, 2013. Appearing on Howard Kurtz’s Reliable Sources Sunday afternoon, Glenn Greenwald, right, responded to critics of Edward Snowden’s revelation of classified material, and of Greenwald’s own reporting, which has come under fire for inaccuracies since its publication two weeks ago. Greenwald said the personal nature of much of the media’s Snowden coverage was exactly what the 29-year-old defense contractor had feared. “One of his big concerns with coming out,” Greenwald said, “really his only one, was that he knows political media loves to dramatize and personalize things, and he was concerned that the focus would distract away from the revelations of about what our government was doing on to him personally.” “The other problem is that whenever there’s whistleblower, someone who dissents from our political institutions, the favorite tactic is to try to demonize him and highlight his alleged bad personality traits. That’s one of the reasons why we wanted to present him in his own words to the world, so that they could form their own impression before these smear campaigns began.”

NBC, Glenn Greenwald Destroys David Gregory.'With Newsmen Like You,' June 23, 2013. Guardian journalist Glenn Greenwald took Meet The Press host David Gregory head on in an interview Sunday morning after Gregory asked if Greenwald would be criminally culpable for "aiding and abetting" NSA leaker Edward Snowden. "I think it's pretty extraordinary that anybody who would call themselves a journalist would publicly muse about whether or not other journalists should be charged with felonies," Greenwald said. "The assumptions in your question, David, is completely without evidence, the idea I've aided and abetted him in any way. The scandal that arose in Washington before our stories began was about the fact that the Obama administration is trying to criminalize investigative journalism by going through the e-mails and records of AP reporters, accusing a Fox News journalist of the theory you just embraced, being co-conspirator in felonies for working with sources." "If you want to embrace that theory," Greenwald continued, "it means that every investigative journalist in the United States who works with their sources, who receives classified information, is a criminal. It's precisely those theories and precisely that climate that has become so menacing in the United States. It's why the New Yorker's Jane Mayer said investigative reporting has come to a standstill, as a result of the questions you just mentioned." Gregory was very unhappy at being personally implicated in Greenwald's answer. "The question of who's a journalist may be up for debate, in regards to what you're doing" Gregory said. "Anybody who's watching this understands that I was asking a question. That question has been raised by lawmakers, as well. I'm not embracing anything. But obviously I take your point."

MSNBC via YouTube, Glenn Greenwald Destroys MSNBC's Attempted Propaganda, Glenn Greenwald interview on MSNBC (above), June 10, 2013. Guardian reporter Glenn Greenwald, who broke the stories on the NSA's phone and internet surveillance programs last week, speaks with Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski about his interviews with NSA leaker Edward Snowden. Mica is the daughter of former Carter Administration National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brezinski, a longtime Columbia University professor and prominent national security advisor to Barack Obama during the 2008 presidential campaign.

NBC, Glenn Greenwald Destroys David Gregory.'With Newsmen Like You,' June 23, 2013. Guardian journalist Glenn Greenwald took Meet The Press host David Gregory head on in an interview Sunday morning after Gregory asked if Greenwald would be criminally culpable for "aiding and abetting" NSA leaker Edward Snowden. "I think it's pretty extraordinary that anybody who would call themselves a journalist would publicly muse about whether or not other journalists should be charged with felonies," Greenwald said. "The assumptions in your question, David, is completely without evidence, the idea I've aided and abetted him in any way. The scandal that arose in Washington before our stories began was about the fact that the Obama administration is trying to criminalize investigative journalism by going through the e-mails and records of AP reporters, accusing a Fox News journalist of the theory you just embraced, being co-conspirator in felonies for working with sources." "If you want to embrace that theory," Greenwald continued, "it means that every investigative journalist in the United States who works with their sources, who receives classified information, is a criminal. It's precisely those theories and precisely that climate that has become so menacing in the United States. It's why the New Yorker's Jane Mayer said investigative reporting has come to a standstill, as a result of the questions you just mentioned." Gregory was very unhappy at being personally implicated in Greenwald's answer. "The question of who's a journalist may be up for debate, in regards to what you're doing" Gregory said. "Anybody who's watching this understands that I was asking a question. That question has been raised by lawmakers, as well. I'm not embracing anything. But obviously I take your point."

Guardian, Distractions about my past and personal life have emerged – an inevitable side effect for those who challenge the US government, Glenn Greenwald, June 26, 2013. When I made the choice to report aggressively on top-secret NSA programs, I knew that I would inevitably be the target of all sorts of personal attacks and smears. You don't challenge the most powerful state on earth and expect to do so without being attacked. As a superb Guardian editorial noted today: "Those who leak official information will often be denounced, prosecuted or smeared. The more serious the leak, the fiercer the pursuit and the greater the punishment."The recent journalist-led "debate" about whether I should be prosecuted for my reporting on these stories was precisely the sort of thing I knew was coming. As a result, I was not particularly surprised when I received an email last night from a reporter at the New York Daily News informing me that he had been "reviewing some old lawsuits" in which I was involved – "old" as in: more than a decade ago – and that "the paper wants to do a story on this for tomorrow." He asked that I call him right away to discuss this, apologizing for the very small window he gave me to comment.

Guardian, Edward Snowden: the whistleblower behind revelations of NSA surveillance, Glenn Greenwald, Ewen MacAskill and Laura Poitras. The 29-year-old source behind the biggest intelligence leak in the NSA's history explains his motives, his uncertain future and why he never intended on hiding in the shadows. The individual responsible for one of the most significant leaks in US political history is Edward Snowden, a 29-year-old former technical assistant for the CIA and current employee of the defense contractor Booz Allen Hamilton. Snowden has been working at the National Security Agency for the last four years as an employee of various outside contractors, including Booz Allen and Dell. The Guardian, after several days of interviews, is revealing his identity at his request.

From the moment he decided to disclose numerous top-secret documents to the public, he was determined not to opt for the protection of anonymity. "I have no intention of hiding who I am because I know I have done nothing wrong," he said. Snowden will go down in history as one of America's most consequential whistleblowers, alongside Daniel Ellsberg and Bradley Manning. He is responsible for handing over material from one of the world's most secretive organizations – the NSA. In a note accompanying the first set of documents he provided, he wrote: "I understand that I will be made to suffer for my actions," but "I will be satisfied if the federation of secret law, unequal pardon and irresistible executive powers that rule the world that I love are revealed even for an instant." Despite his determination to be publicly unveiled, he repeatedly insisted that he wants to avoid the media spotlight. "I don't want public attention because I don't want the story to be about me. I want it to be about what the US government is doing."

Regarding his future, he said, "I'm willing to sacrifice all of that because I can't in good conscience allow the US government to destroy privacy, internet freedom and basic liberties for people around the world with this massive surveillance machine they're secretly building."

Guardian, Correspondence and collusion between the New York Times and the CIA, Glenn Greenwald, August 29, 2012. Mark Mazzetti's 2011 emails with the CIA expose the degradation of journalism that has lost the imperative to be a check to power. The rightwing transparency group, Judicial Watch, released Tuesday a new batch of documents showing how eagerly the Obama administration shoveled information to Hollywood film-makers about the Bin Laden raid. Obama officials did so to enable the production of a politically beneficial pre-election film about that "heroic" killing, even as administration lawyers insisted to federal courts and media outlets that no disclosure was permissible because the raid was classified.

Washington Post, A timeline of surveillance in the United States from 2001 to 2013: from the Patriot Act to the PRISM program, Masuma Ahuja, June 7, 2013.

New York Times, Surveillance: A Threat to Democracy, Editorial Board, June 11, 2013. Perhaps the lack of a broader sense of alarm is not all that surprising when President Obama, Senator Dianne Feinstein, the Democratic chairwoman of the Intelligence Committee, and intelligence officials insist that such surveillance is crucial to the nation’s antiterrorism efforts.  But Americans should not be fooled by political leaders putting forward a false choice. The issue is not whether the government should vigorously pursue terrorists. The question is whether the security goals can be achieved by less-intrusive or sweeping means, without trampling on democratic freedoms and basic rights. Far too little has been said on this question by the White House or Congress in their defense of the N.S.A.’s dragnet.  The surreptitious collection of “metadata” — every bit of information about every phone call except the word-by-word content of conversations — fundamentally alters the relationship between individuals and their government.

FoxNews.com, Inside the Utah Data Center, John Brandon, June 11, 2013. As Americans demand answers about the government's wholesale electronic snooping on its citizens, the primary snooper -- the National Security Agency (NSA) -- is building a monstrous digital datacenter in a remote corner of Utah capable of sorting through and storing every e-mail, voicemail, and social media communication it can get its hands on. Former NSA employee William Binney told The Associated Press that he estimates the agency collects records on 3 billion phone calls each day. This top-secret data warehouse could hold as many as 1.25 million 4-terabyte hard drives, built into some 5,000 servers to store the trillions upon trillions of ones and zeroes that make up your digital fingerprint. But that's just one way to catalog people, said Charles King, principal analyst at data center consulting firm Pund-IT.

Washington Post, U.S. surveillance architecture includes collection of revealing Internet, phone metadata, Barton Gellman, June 15, 2013. On March 12, 2004, acting attorney general James B. Comey and the Justice Department’s top leadership reached the brink of resignation over electronic surveillance orders that they believed to be illegal. President George W. Bush backed down, halting secret foreign-intelligence-gathering operations that had crossed into domestic terrain. That morning marked the beginning of the end of STELLARWIND, the cover name for a set of four surveillance programs that brought Americans and American territory within the domain of the National Security Agency for the first time in decades. It was also a prelude to new legal structures that allowed Bush and then President Obama to reproduce each of those programs and expand their reach.
 
Washington Post, Metadata proves to be a powerful tool for U.S. intelligence agencies, Ellen Nakashima, June 15, 2013. Electronic surveillance of information about calls and e-mails can reveal hidden patterns behind terror attacks. Metadata reveals the secrets of social position, company hierarchy, terrorist cells. Officials say the NSA analyzed records of only a few hundred people in data for tens of millions. The government last year searched for the phone records of fewer than 300 people in a database containing tens of millions of Americans’ phone records, intelligence officials said Saturday in a statement to Congress. The figure’s release is part of a push by officials to allay privacy concerns following recent disclosures of National Security Agency surveillance programs that collect massive amounts of data in an effort to thwart terrorist attacks.

MSNBC via Huffington Post, Glenn Greenwald Clashes With Mika Brzezinski, Accuses MSNBC Host Of Using 'White House Talking Points' (VIDEO), June 10, 2013. Glenn Greenwald, right, clashed with Mika Brzezinski on air Monday when he accused her of using "White House talking points." The Guardian columnist broke a bombshell story revealing the NSA's secret surveillance of the phone records of Verizon customers on Wednesday night. The next day, he raced the Washington Post to report on the NSA's PRISM program. The revelations have roiled the Obama administration. On Monday, Greenwald appeared on "Morning Joe" to discuss the programs. He reiterated his point that the public should be made aware of government surveillance, and be able to decide if they want it. Brzezinski then asked him to put the programs into "perspective."

"Isn't it the case that reviewing of emails or any wiretapping cannot take place without an additional warrant from a judge and a review?" she asked. "I mean it's not like there's haphazard probing into all of our personal emails. Can we put this into context so we understand exactly what is going on?"

"Yeah, I'll put this into context for you," Greenwald responded. "The White House talking points that you're using are completely misleading and false."  He said the law required individual warrants under when two people are in the United States and are both American citizens, but that the government could still probe the phone calls and emails of "all kinds of American citizens." "So those talking points that you're reading from are completely false as anybody whose paid even remote attention to the surveillance debate knows over the past 10 years," Greenwald continued. 

Mika interrupted, "Uh no. Hey, Glenn, I'm not reading talking points. Glenn, I'd like to ask a question. Is this legal or illegal?

Washington Post, Five ways to stop the NSA from spying on you, Timothy B. Lee, June 10, 2013. If recent reports are to be believed, the National Security Agency has broad powers to capture private information about Americans. They know who we’re calling, they have access to our Gmail messages and AOL Instant Messenger chats, and it’s a safe bet that they have other interception capabilities that haven’t been publicly disclosed. Indeed, most mainstream communications technologies are vulnerable to government eavesdropping. But all is not lost! The NSA’s spying powers are vast, but there are still ways to thwart the agency’s snooping. Here are five of them.

Daily Caller, Jailed Qwest CEO claimed that NSA retaliated because he wouldn’t participate in spy program, Greg Campbell, June 13, 2013. 

President Obama meets with National Security staff in the Oval Office, March 8, 2012, at right. Clockwise from the President are: Jeff Eggers, Director for Afghanistan and Central Region; David Holmes, Director for Afghanistan; Avril Haines, Deputy Counsel to the President; Dennis McDonough, Deputy National Security Advisor; National Security Advisor Tom Donilon; and Lt. Gen. Doug Lute, Senior Director for Afghanistan and Pakistan. White House photo by Pete Souza.

Wires via New York Post, Obama's pick to be CIA #2 used to run 'Erotica Nights' readings after dropping out of grad school, Staff edits of wire services, June 13, 2013. President Obama's choice for the number two position at the CIA will be the highest ranking woman to ever serve in the CIA -- and she used to own a bookstore that featured regular erotica readings, White House lawyer Avril Haines is slated to take the reigns as the Deputy Director of the CIA the White House confirmed yesterday, but before she rose through the ranks to become one of America's top spies Haines opened and co-owned Adrian's Book Cafe in Baltimore that featured a regular "Erotica Nights." A then-24-year-old Haines opened the bookstore in 1994 when she dropped out of a graduate program in physics at Johns Hopkins University. With her 29-year-old pilot boyfriend, Haines renovated a boarded-up old strip club in Baltimore's waterfront neighborhood of Fells Point and turned it into the regular meeting place for a small community of erotica aficionados.

Washington Post, U.S. fears NSA leaker has more classified files, Greg Miller and Sari Horwitz, June 13, 2013. Investigators say findings appear to bolster Edward Snowden’s claim he made off with additional files. Lawmakers call for more disclosures A broad assessment of the damage caused by disclosure of documents on classified intelligence programs has concluded that the former National Security Agency contractor who claimed responsibility for the leaks probably obtained dozens of other sensitive files, U.S. officials said Thursday. The disclosure came as NSA and FBI officials came under new pressure from senior lawmakers to defend the agency’s interpretation of a law that it has used to sweep up the phone records of millions of U.S. citizens, and to declassify material to support NSA Director Keith B. Alexander’s assertion that the surveillance programs have helped to thwart “dozens” of terrorist attacks.

New York Times, For Snowden, a Life of Ambition, Despite the Drifting, John M. Broder and Scott Shane, June 15, 2013. In 2006, when Edward J. Snowden joined the thousands of computer virtuosos going to work for America’s spy agencies, there were no recent examples of insiders going public as dissidents. But as his doubts about his work for the Central Intelligence Agency and then for the National Security Agency grew, the Obama administration’s campaign against leaks served up one case after another of disillusioned employees refashioning themselves as heroic whistle-blowers.

New York Times, After Profits, Defense Contractor Faces the Pitfalls of Cybersecurity, David E. Sanger and Nicole Perlroth, June 15, 2013. Why did Booz Allen assign a 29-year-old with scant experience to a sensitive N.S.A. site in Hawaii, where he was left loosely supervised as he downloaded highly classified documents about the government’s monitoring of Internet and telephone communications, apparently loading them onto a portable memory stick barred by the agency? The results could be disastrous for a company that until a week ago had one of the best business plans in Washington, with more than half its $5.8 billion in annual revenue coming from the military and the intelligence agencies. Last week, the chairwoman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Dianne Feinstein, whom Mr. McConnell regularly briefed when he was in government, suggested for the first time that companies like Booz Allen should lose their broad access to the most sensitive intelligence secrets.

Washington Post, Only a few hundred people’s call records searched, U.S. says, Ellen Nakashima, June 15, 2013. Officials say the NSA analyzed records of only a few hundred people in data for tens of millions.

Washington Post, U.S. officials fear NSA leaker has more classified documents, Greg Miller and Sari Horwitz, June 13, 2013. A broad assessment of the damage caused by disclosure of documents on classified intelligence programs has concluded that the former National Security Agency contractor who claimed responsibility for the leaks probably obtained dozens of other sensitive files, U.S. officials said Thursday.

Washington Post, Edward Snowden’s life of hiding in plain sight, Carol D. Leonnig, Jenna Johnson and Marc Fisher, June 15, 2013. “I wouldn’t want God himself to know where I’ve been,” the former NSA contractor wrote online in 2003. Edward Snowden, the skinny kid from suburban Maryland who took it upon himself to expose — and, officials say, severely compromise — classified U.S. government surveillance programs, loved role-playing games, leaned libertarian, worked out hard and dabbled in modeling. Snowden, 29, has repeatedly insisted that the documents he revealed are the story and that his life is of no interest. [But] questions about his motives and rationale inevitably colored the debate over his decision to violate his oath.  Snowden is shown at left in a portrait created by critics of the government program, who mock the "See Something, Say Something" slogan of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano that she broadcasts repeatedly at U.S. transportation centers.

Washington Post, Administration, lawmakers defend NSA program to collect phone records, Ellen Nakashima and Ed O’Keefe, June 6, 2013.  The Obama administration and key U.S. lawmakers on Thursday defended a secret National Security Agency telephone surveillance program that one congressman said had helped avert a terrorist attack in recent years. The program apparently has collected the telephone records of tens of millions of American customers of Verizon, one of the nation’s largest phone companies, under a top-secret court order. The government has built a national security and intelligence system so big, so complex and so hard to manage, no one really knows if it's fulfilling its most important purpose: keeping its citizens safe. The National Security Agency secretly collected phone records of millions of Verizon customers. Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), who chairs the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, said the court order, issued in April, appears to be “the exact three-month renewal” of the program that has been underway for the past seven years. She said the program is “lawful.”

Annual Bilderberg Group Meeting

Zero Hedge, The Full List Of 2013's Bilderberg Attendees, Tyler Durden, June 3, 2013. Selected attendees from the 2013 annual Bilderberg conference in the United Kingdom, chaired this year by Henri de Castries, Chairman and CEO of the AXA Group. Other attendees of special stature include Her Royal Highnesss Princess Beatrix of The Netherlands and J. Michael Evans, Vice Chairman, Goldman Sachs & Co., which reportedly helps funds the annual conference along with the BP [according to cables released by the hacker group Anonymous].

The Guardian, The week ahead: Bilderberg 2013 comes to … the Grove Hotel, Watford, Charlie Skelton, June 2, 2013. The Bilderberg group's meeting will receive greater scrutiny than usual as journalists and bloggers converge on Watford. When you're picking a spot to hold the world's most powerful policy summit, there's really only one place that will do: Watford. On Thursday afternoon, a heady mix of politicians, bank bosses, billionaires, chief executives and European royalty will swoop up the elegant drive of the Grove hotel, north of Watford, to begin the annual Bilderberg conference It's a remarkable spectacle – one of nature's wonders – and the most exciting thing to happen to Watford since that roundabout on the A412 got traffic lights. The area round the hotel is in lockdown: locals are having to show their passports to get to their homes. It's exciting too for the delegates. The CEO of Royal Dutch Shell will hop from his limo, delighted to be spending three solid days in policy talks with the head of HSBC, the president of Dow Chemical, his favourite European finance ministers and US intelligence chiefs. The conference is the highlight of every plutocrat's year and has been since 1954. The only time Bilderberg skipped a year was 1976, after the group's founding chairman, Prince Bernhard of the Netherlands, was caught taking bribes from Lockheed Martin.

Catching Our Attention on other Justice, Media & Integrity Issues

Obama Promotes 'Responsibility To Protect' Advocates Onto National Security Team

At left, President Barack Obama talks with, from left, Samantha Power, former Senior Director for Multilateral Affairs and Human Rights, National Security Advisor Tom Donilon, and Ambassador Susan Rice, U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations, in the Oval Office, June 5, 2013. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza.)

Power, wife of former Obama White House regulatory chief Cass Sunstein, and Rice are regarded as leading advocates of a so-called  "Responsibility to Protect" whereby nations must intervene worldwide where leaders see a need to protect the afflicted.

The United Nations approved the concept in 2005 under Secretary General Kofi Annan, right, a Ghana-born diplomat who had married into Sweden's powerful Wallenberg Family. The concept reduces the need for international approval before military action. 

The U.S. increasingly uses the doctrine and an expanded military within the CIA to fight wars in coordination with special forces troops and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, thereby bypassing certain United Nations and Congressional procedures.

President Harry Truman, who created the CIA to develop national intelligence, protested in 1963 and 1964 after the Kennedy assasination the CIA's "limitless power" and expansion into "strange activities." But Truman's warnings were seldom reported or recorded because they ran counter to conventional wisdom through the years to expand military and security capabilities.

Washington Post, National security team shuffle may signal more activist stance at White House, Scott Wilson, June 5, 2013. President Obama announced a major shuffle of his national security team on Wednesday, ushering out a cautious Washington insider and elevating two long-time proponents of a larger American role in preventing humanitarian crises and protecting human rights. The ideological shift signaled by the choices highlights a central dilemma for Obama as he seeks to make a mark on the world at a time of austerity — and war weariness — at home. How ambitious Obama intends to be abroad at a time of stiff challenges on the domestic front has remained an open question well into his second term. Samatha Power, Obama’s pick for U.N. ambassador, is a longtime foreign and national security adviser to Obama. She has been called a Harvard brainiac with both a Pulitzer Prize and a mean jump shot. Here are a few facts about her. Susan E. Rice, named by Obama Wednesday to succeed Thomas E. Donilon as national security adviser, and Samantha Power, nominated to follow Rice as U.N. ambassador, will have the opportunity to provide an answer as the administration reviews its policy in Syria, winds down the war in Afghanistan and seeks to stop Iran’s nuclear-enrichment program. In a Rose Garden announcement, Obama called Rice, who does not need Senate confirmation, a “a fierce champion for justice and human dignity.” Video:  President Obama named Susan Rice to replace Tom Donilon as his national security adviser and Samantha Power to replace Rice at the United Nations in the Rose Garden Wednesday.

Washington Post, Can state laws protect you from being watched by drones? Timothy B. Lee, June 18, 2013. More than 40 states have considered legislation this year that would regulate the use of drones.  Because drones are cheap, light and don’t require a pilot, they can be put in the air for a fraction of the cost of a traditional airplane. That has created new opportunities for everyone from real estate firms to oil and gas companies to PETA  – anyone, in fact, who might have use for an eye-in-the-sky, but doesn’t have the money to hire a pilot and a plane. But the dawning era of cheap, private surveillance is leading a lot of states to ask how these private drones should be regulated. Congress ordered the Federal Aviation Administration to open the skies to private drones by 2015. But while the FAA will develop safety regulations for this fledgling industry, neither the FAA nor any other federal agency was given jurisdiction over privacy issues. And so instead of national privacy rules, we’re getting a patchwork of state regulations. Domestic drone privacy bills have been introduced in a majority of state legislatures this year. On Friday, Gov. Rick Perry’s signature made Texas at least the sixth state to regulate drone use. Illinois will become the seventh if Gov. Pat Quinn signs the bill that’s now on his desk.

Washington Post, NSA chief: 50 terror plots foiled by surveillance, Ellen Nakashima, June 18, 2013. Gen. Keith Alexander says one of the “potential terrorist events” was directed at the New York Stock Exchange. In recent days, U.S. intelligence and law enforcement officials, as well as congressional officials, have pointed to the authority that allowed them to target the Yahoo account — Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) — as a critical tool in identifying and disrupting terrorist plots here and abroad, including a Pakistani named Zazi living in London. But some critics of NSA surveillance suggested that the collection of data under a program called PRISM was not essential to Zazi’s capture because the British first obtained the critical e-mail address. Still, the case study provides a rare glimpse of how the broad surveillance practices of the United States, often in concert with allies, are deployed.

U.S. Expands Role in Syrian Civil War

Los Angeles Times, U.S. has secretly provided weapons training to Syria rebels, David S. Cloud and Raja Abdulrahim, June 21, 2013. CIA operatives and U.S. special operations troops have been secretly training Syrian rebels with anti-tank and antiaircraft weapons since late last year, months before President Obama approved plans to begin directly arming them, according to U.S. officials and rebel commanders. The covert U.S. training at bases in Jordan and Turkey, along with Obama's decision this month to supply arms and ammunition to the rebels, has raised hope among the beleaguered Syrian opposition that Washington ultimately will provide heavier weapons as well. So far, the rebels say they lack the weapons they need to regain the offensive in the country's bitter civil war.

Washington Post, New wave of foreigners in Syrian fight, Griff Witte, June 21, 2013. Bilal Farag chose a path, friends say, that led him to die on a distant Syrian battlefield while fighting Shiite Muslims he regarded as infidels. Waves of Egyptians are now preparing to follow, fired by the virulently sectarian rhetoric of Sunni preachers and encouraged by the newly permissive policies of Egypt’s Islamist government. In recent days, this city’s ancient mosques have crackled with calls for jihad, as hard-line Sunni Muslim leaders command the faithful to respond to recent escalations in Syria by the Shiite forces of Iran and Hezbollah. The Sunni backlash has echoed far beyond Egypt, penetrating every corner of the region, where divisions between the rival Muslim sects are hardening fast.

Washington Post, Syrian rebels report new shipments of heavy arms, credit U.S. influence, Loveday Morris, June 21, 2013. Syrian rebels said Friday that newly arrived shipments of heavy weaponry could swing the momentum on the battlefield in their favor, after a shift in U.S. policy opened the door for others to send them arms. Weapons from the United States have not materialized since the White House announced last week that it had authorized direct military support for the opposition, but the U.S. decision appears to have prompted other nations to increase their assistance, with new deliveries including highly prized antitank and antiaircraft weaponry, according to Khalid Saleh, a spokesman for the main Syrian Opposition Coalition.

Washington Post, Syrian chemical arms claims said to be unverifiable, Colum Lynch and Joby Warrick,  June 20, 2013. Despite months of testing and scrutiny by top U.S. scientists, the administration’s case for arming Syria’s rebels rests on unverifiable claims that Syria used the nerve agent sarin, experts say,

Agence France Presse via Arab News, Syria rebels say now have ‘game-changing’ weapons June 21, 2013. Syrian rebels have recently received new weapons that could “change the course of the battle” against the Syrian regime, a spokesman for the Free Syrian Army told AFP on Friday. tghe “Friends of Syria” group of countries that support the rebels is expected to announce in Doha on Saturday that it will arm the opposition, FSA media and political coordinator spokesman Louay Muqdad said.  “We’ve received quantities of new types of weapons, including some that we asked for and that we believe will change the course of the battle on the ground. “We have begun distributing them on the front lines, they will be in the hands of professional officers and FSA fighters,” he said. He did not specify what weapons had been received or when they had arrived, but added that a new shipment was expected in the coming days and recalled that the rebels had asked for “deterrent weapons.”

AP via Yahoo News! Rivalries pose problem in arming Syrian rebels, Bradley Klapper, June 21, 2013. http://news.yahoo.com/rivalries-pose-problem-arming-syrian-rebels-190950143.html The Syrian opposition's record so far in handling tens of millions of dollars in U.S. humanitarian and other nonlethal assistance paints a bewildering picture of logistical challenges ahead of any delivery of American weapons and ammunition. No aid shipments appear to be heading to terrorists or corrupt hoarders, according to U.S. officials, but packages of food, medicine and other lifesaving supplies regularly face long delays because of political rivalries among various rebel factions.

OpEdNews, Stasi In The White House, Paul Craig Roberts, June 21, 2013. On June 19, 2013, US President Obama, hoping to raise himself above the developing National Security Agency (NSA) spy scandals, sought to associate himself with two iconic speeches made at the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin. Fifty years ago, President John F. Kennedy pledged: "Ich bin ein Berliner." In 1987, President Ronald Reagan challenged: "Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall."  Obama's speech will go down in history as the most hypocritical of all time. Little wonder that the audience was there by invitation only. A real audience would have hooted Obama out of Berlin. Here was Obama, who consistently lies, speaking of "eternal truth."  Here was Obama, who enabled Wall Street to rob the American and European peoples and who destroyed Americans' civil liberties and the lives of vast numbers of Iraqis, Afghans, Yemenis, Libyans, Pakistanis, Syrians, and others, speaking of "the yearnings of justice." Obama equates demands for justice with "terrorism."  Here was Obama, who has constructed an international spy network and a domestic police state, speaking of "the yearnings for freedom."  Here was Obama, president of a country that has initiated wars or military action against six countries since 2001 and has three more Muslim countries -- Syria, Lebanon, and Iran -- in its crosshairs and perhaps several more in Africa, speaking of "the yearnings of peace that burns in the human heart," but clearly not in Obama's heart. Obama has taken hypocrisy to new heights. He has destroyed US civil liberties guaranteed by the Constitution. In place of a government accountable to law, he has turned law into a weapon in the hands of the government. He has intimidated a free press and prosecutes whistleblowers who reveal his government's crimes. He makes no objection when American police brutalize peacefully protesting citizens. His government intercepts and stores in National Security Agency computers every communication of every American and also the private communications of Europeans and Canadians, including the communications of the members of the governments, the better to blackmail those with secrets.

Reuters, Special Report: Syria's Islamists seize control as moderates dither, Oliver Holmes and Alexander Dziadosz, June 19, 2013.   During a 10-day journey through rebel-held territory in Syria, Reuters journalists found that radical Islamist units are sidelining more moderate groups that do not share the Islamists' goal of establishing a supreme religious leadership in the country. The moderates, often underfunded, fragmented and chaotic, appear no match for Islamist units, which include fighters from organizations designated "terrorist" by the United States. The Islamist ascendancy has amplified the sectarian nature of the war between Sunni Muslim rebels and the Shi'ite supporters of Assad. It also presents a barrier to the original democratic aims of the revolt and calls into question whether the United States, which announced practical support for the rebels last week, can ensure supplies of weapons go only to groups friendly to the West.

FireDoglake, Americans Overwhelmingly Oppose Getting Involved in Syria, Jon Walker, June 17, 2013. President Obama’s decision to step up military aid to the rebels in Syria is in dramatic opposition to the will of the electorate. According to Pew Research poll, regular Americans overwhelmingly don’t want the United States to arm the rebels. Only 20 percent support this action, while 70 percent oppose it. Opposing to arming the rebel is strong across party lines.

Reuters, Four U.S. senators seek to bar military aid to Syrian rebels, Patricia Zengerle, June 21, 2013. Four senators introduced legislation on Thursday that would bar President Barack Obama from providing military aid to Syria's rebels, saying the administration has provided too little information about what they see as a risky intervention. The bill would prevent the Department of Defense and U.S. intelligence agencies from using any funds to support military, paramilitary or covert operations in Syria, directly or indirectly. The bill's sponsors -- Democrats Tom Udall of New Mexico and Chris Murphy, left, of Connecticut and Republicans Mike Lee of Utah, right, and Rand Paul of Kentucky -- expressed doubts about Washington's ability to ensure weapons will not fall into the wrong hands, and called for debate in Congress before the United States becomes more involved in Syria's civil war. "The president's unilateral decision to arm Syrian rebels is incredibly disturbing, considering what little we know about whom we are arming," Paul said in a statement. Other lawmakers argued it was in the U.S. national security interest to get more involved in Syria. "This is about looking at the possibility of a failed state in which terrorist actors already present within Syria in this fight can launch attacks against our allies, and potentially against the United States," Democrat Robert Menendez of New Jersey, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, told reporters.

Agence France Presse via Arab News, Syria rebels say now have ‘game-changing’ weapons June 21, 2013. Syrian rebels have recently received new weapons that could “change the course of the battle” against the Syrian regime, a spokesman for the Free Syrian Army told AFP on Friday. tghe “Friends of Syria” group of countries that support the rebels is expected to announce in Doha on Saturday that it will arm the opposition, FSA media and political coordinator spokesman Louay Muqdad said.  “We’ve received quantities of new types of weapons, including some that we asked for and that we believe will change the course of the battle on the ground. “We have begun distributing them on the front lines, they will be in the hands of professional officers and FSA fighters,” he said. He did not specify what weapons had been received or when they had arrived, but added that a new shipment was expected in the coming days and recalled that the rebels had asked for “deterrent weapons.”

BBC, Syrian angst over foreign rebel fighters, Lyse Doucet, June 17, 2013. About 20 Tunisian parents travelled to Damascus on a trip initiated by Tunisian civil society activists and taken up by Syrians who see an opportunity to try to get a growing number of foreign jihadists off the battlefield. "More than 42 countries are now sending fighters to cause bloodshed in Syria," declared Syrian-American industrialist Khaled Mahjoub, who is on a mission to take on Islamists he calls "Salafi Wahabis powered by petrodollars." Mothers Syrian mothers show the pictures of their sons lost in the war As G8 leaders meet in Northern Ireland, a Syrian with close ties to President Assad's family wants to capitalise on growing anxiety in Europe over what are believed to be hundreds of European jihadists now fighting in Syria.

Independent, Iran to send 4,000 troops to aid President Assad forces in Syria, Robert Fisk, June 16, 2013. World Exclusive: US urges UK and France to join in supplying arms to Syrian rebels as MPs fear that UK will be drawn into growing conflict. Washington’s decision to arm Syria’s Sunni Muslim rebels has plunged America into the great Sunni-Shia conflict of the Islamic Middle East, entering a struggle that now dwarfs the Arab revolutions which overthrew dictatorships across the region. For the first time, all of America’s ‘friends’ in the region are Sunni Muslims and all of its enemies are Shiites. Breaking all President Barack Obama’s rules of disengagement, the US is now fully engaged on the side of armed groups which include the most extreme Sunni Islamist movements in the Middle East. The Independent on Sunday has learned that a military decision has been taken in Iran – even before last week’s presidential election – to send a first contingent of 4,000 Iranian Revolutionary Guards to Syria to support President Bashar al-Assad’s forces against the largely Sunni rebellion that has cost almost 100,000 lives in just over two years.  Iran is now fully committed to preserving Assad’s regime, according to pro-Iranian sources which have been deeply involved in the Islamic Republic’s security, even to the extent of proposing to open up a new ‘Syrian’ front on the Golan Heights against Israel.

In years to come, historians will ask how America – after its defeat in Iraq and its humiliating withdrawal from Afghanistan scheduled for  2014 – could have so blithely aligned itself with one side in a titanic Islamic struggle stretching back to the seventh century death of the Prophet Mohamed. The profound effects of this great schism continue across the region to this day.

Atlantic, How Obama Now 'Owns Syria'; The far-ranging implications of the president's decision to provide arms to anti-Assad rebels, Michael Hirsch, June 14, 2014. As he has done all along, Barack Obama is edging his way up to the precipice in Syria, and even now the president very much does not want to jump in--not into America's third major war in the past decade. Even while announcing what was billed as a major shift of policy Thursday, Obama signaled that he is unwilling to put American boots on the ground or even to be seen as taking the lead in the conflict in Syria. Judging from the latest signals from the White House, Obama wants the newly announced U.S. military aid to the Syrian rebels to be kept to a stringent minimum, and he wants it to be seen as part of a broader Western aid effort. The issue now is whether the president is deluding himself that he can limit involvement that way. "In a sense, Obama owns Syria now," says Joshua Landis, a highly regarded Syria expert at the University of Oklahoma. "I presume he'll try to go in toe by toe.... But he has to decide what his objectives are, which he hasn't. Does he want to provide just enough arms to keep the status quo and divide Syria in two? Does he want to give them enough to take Damascus and drive the Alawites [President Bashar al-Assad's ruling sect] into the mountains? Does he want he want to see them take over the entire country?" 

Veterans Today, Washington is Insane, Paul Craig Roberts, June 18, 2013. Polls demonstrate that 65% of the US population opposes US intervention in Syria. Despite this clear indication of the people’s will, the Obama regime is ramping up a propaganda case for more arming of Washington’s mercenaries sent to overthrow the secular Syrian government and for a “no-fly zone” over Syria, which, if Libya is the example, means US or NATO aircraft attacking the Syrian army on the ground, thus serving as the air force of Washington’s imported mercenaries, euphemistically called “the Syrian rebels.” Washington declared some time ago that the “red line” that would bring Syria under Washington’s military attack was the Assad government’s use of chemical weapons of mass destruction against Washington’s mercenaries. Once this announcement was made, everyone with a brain immediately knew that Washington would fabricate false intelligence that Assad had used chemical weapons, just as Washington presented to the United Nations the intentional lie via Secretary of State Colin Powell that Saddam Hussein in Iraq had dangerous weapons of mass destruction. Now Washington has fabricated the false intelligence, and President Obama has announced it with a straight face, that Syria’s Assad has used sarin gas on several occasions and that between 100 and 150 “of his own people,” a euphemism for the US supplied foreign mercenaries, have been killed by the weapon of mass destruction. Think about that for a minute.

Washington Post, Private money pours into Syrian conflict as rich donors pick sides, Joby Warrick, June 15, 2013.  U.S. and Middle Eastern officials describe a vast pool of private wealth being funneled to Syria’s warring factions, mostly without strings or oversight and outside the control of governments.

Foreign Policy, After weeks of fighting, Syrian forces overtake the strategic town of Qusayr, Mary Casey and Jennifer Parker, June 5, 2013. The Syrian army, along with pro-government Hezbollah forces, overtook the strategic town of Qusayr on Wednesday after over two weeks of fighting. Syrian state news agency SANA reported the "heroic armed forces have returned security and stability to all of the town." The regime and allied forces reportedly overtook the town after an overnight offensive. According to one Hezbollah fighter, "We did a sudden surprise attack in the early hours and entered the town. They escaped." Opposition forces said they had pulled out of Qusayr. The loss of the town, which is located about six miles from the border with Lebanon, will be a significant blow to the opposition as it lies on an important supply route.

Democracy Now! via YouTube, U.S. Plans to Overthrow Seven Mideast Countries, Amy Goodman interview of former four-star General Wesley Clark, March 2, 2004. 07 (video). General Clark: About ten days after 9/11, I went through the Pentagon and I saw Secretary Rumsfeld and W. Secretary (Paul D.) Wolfowitz. I went downstairs just to say hello to some of the people on the Joint Staff who used to work for me, and one of the Generals called me in.

He said, Sir, you gotta come in and talk to me a second. I said, "Well, you're too busy." He said, "No, no." He says, "We've made the decision. We're going to war with Iraq."

This was on or about the 20th of September.

I said, "We're going to war with Iraq? Why?" He said, "I don't know." He said, "I guess they don't know what else to do."

So I said, "Well, did they find some information connecting Saddam to Al Qaida?"

He said, "No, no, there's nothing new that way; they just made the decision to go to war with Iraq." He said, "I guess it's like, We don't know what to do about terrorists, but we've got a good military and we can take down governments. And he said, I guess if the only tool you have is a hammer, every problem has to look like a nail."

So I came back to see him a few weeks later and by that time we were bombing in Afghanistan. I said, "Are we still going to war with Iraq?"

He said, "Oh, it's worse than that." He said -- he reached over on his desk, he picked up a piece of paper. He said, "I just got this down from upstairs (meaning the Secretary of Defense's office) today and this is a memo that describes how we're going to take out seven (7) countries in five (5) years starting with Iraq, and then Syria, Lebanon, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, and finishing off Iran."

 
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