June 2013 News Reports

Written by Andrew Kreig
Published on June 5, 2013

Featured Monthly Commentary

 

Doubting Obama’s Resolve To Do Right: Ray McGovern

WBAI Interview of former CIA Analyst Ray McGovern by Michael Smith and Michael Ratner, June 3, 2013.

We continue our discussion on killing people using drone warfare with returning guest Ray McGovern. When President Obama delivered a major speech on counter-terrorism, he announced a shift in his administration’s use of drones.

Guest Raymond L. McGovern, right, is a retired CIA officer turned political activist. McGovern was a Federal employee under seven U.S. presidents in the past 27 years. Ray’s opinion pieces have appeared in many leading newspapers here and abroad. 

His website writings are posted first on consortiumnews.com, and are usually carried on other websites as well.

Ray McGovern [Interview excerpts by WBAI]:

It [the recent Obama speech] was a masterpiece of oratory and rhetoric, but it was deceptive through and through. Those of us who had been watching this know he lied through his teeth on many occasions.  He has the power as we all know to release 86 prisoners (Guantanamo) in the next hour. 

Editor's Choice: Click below to read the Justice Integrity Project's monthly archive of cutting-edge news excerpts for June 2013.

Other JIP Clips:

June 30

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, right, 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.

Guardian, New NSA leaks show how US is bugging its European allies; Exclusive: Edward Snowden papers reveal 38 targets including EU, France and Italy, Ewen MacAskill and Julian Borger, June 30, 2013. Berlin accuses Washington of cold war tactics. US intelligence services are spying on the European Union mission in New York and its embassy in Washington, according to the latest top secret US National Security Agency documents leaked by the whistleblower Edward Snowden. One document lists 38 embassies and missions, describing them as "targets". It details an extraordinary range of spying methods used against each target, from bugs implanted in electronic communications gear to taps into cables to the collection of transmissions with specialised antennae. Along with traditional ideological adversaries and sensitive Middle Eastern countries, the list of targets includes the EU missions and the French, Italian and Greek embassies, as well as a number of other American allies, including Japan, Mexico, South Korea, India and Turkey. The list in the September 2010 document does not mention the UK, Germany or other western European states. One of the bugging methods mentioned is codenamed Dropmire, which, according to a 2007 document, is "implanted on the Cryptofax at the EU embassy, DC" – an apparent reference to a bug placed in a commercially available encrypted fax machine used at the mission. The NSA documents note the machine is used to send cables back to foreign affairs ministries in European capitals. The documents suggest the aim of the bugging exercise against the EU embassy in central Washington is to gather inside knowledge of policy disagreements on global issues and other rifts between member states.

Washington Post, Inaccuracies about NSA efforts abound, Greg Miller, June 30, 2013. A remark by Director of National Intelligence James R. Clapper Jr., has perhaps drawn the most attention. Some senior U.S. officials have parsed, hedged and misstated facts about the classified programs. that have emerged from the exposure of hundreds of pages of previously classified NSA documents indicate that public assertions about these programs by senior U.S. officials have also often been misleading, erroneous or simply false.

OpEd News, Obama is as embarrassing as Bush, Michael Collins, June 30, 2013. President Barack Obama pulled off the scam of the new millennium when he convinced people that he was a refreshing change from Bush. He was the liberal minded, highly intelligent, polished alternative to the years of Bush disasters. Things would be different (unless you knew what appointing Tim Geithner as Treasury Secretary meant). Wall Street got more bailouts. Instead of facing charges, the fat cats took bonuses as the economy collapsed. Unemployment soared, businesses failed, and foreclosures reached epic proportions.The very ugly wars of devastation against Libya and Syria plus the massive paranoia exhibited in the Snowden affair and the revelations of the Insider Threat Program make President Barrack H. Obama every bit as embarrassing as his predecessor. Obama, Congress, and the United States Supreme Court represent the trifecta of political disaster.

FireDogLake, Retired General Cartwright as Alleged Stuxnet Leaker & Why Media Expressed Disbelief, Kevin Gosztola, June 30, 2013. Retired General James “Hoss” Cartwright had been described as “Obama’s favorite general.” He was a four-star Marine Corps general who served as the vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs. He had apparently “impressed the White House with his intellect and expertise on the modern technology of national security, including on nuclear weapons, missile defense and cyberwarfare,” according to The New York Times. “Legal sources” leaked to NBC News’ Michael Isikoff details indicating that Cartwright was suspected of being involved in the leak of information on the Stuxnet worm to Times reporter David Sanger. After that news broke Thursday evening, there was disbelief that he would be the kind of person who would leak classified information that might damage national security. [Note: Stuxnet was the virus used by the US to attack an Iranian nuclear facility.] His lawyer, former White House counsel Gregory B. Craig, declaring, “General Cartwright is an American hero who served his country with distinction for four decades. Any suggestion that he could have betrayed the country he loves is preposterous.” This update prompted Burnett to declare, “This is just an incredible story when you think about it. The president going after so many for leaking and this time somebody who was so close to him. If this person did leak what he’s accused of leaking reportedly was actually something that helped the president.” It was almost as if Burnett was saying that leaks are okay if they help the president.

Washington Post, ‘The Center Holds: Obama and His Enemies’ by Jonathan Alter, Ken Gormley, June 28, 2013. Jonathan Alter’s The Center Holds (shown at right) offers an elegant, intelligent, crisply constructed account of President Obama’s second two years in the White House and his quiet march to a second term. It will be required reading for any serious student of the Obama presidency, present or future. Alter is unabashedly pro-Democratic and sympathetic to his subject. Yet he is scrupulous in flagging down missteps and screwups by the Obama administration (and Obama himself), which saves the book from being a one-sided homage to a sitting president. There are plenty of gems here. We see Obama calmly going about his daily work without tipping off top advisers as he makes the gut-wrenching decision to send Navy SEALs to capture or kill Osama bin Laden, knowing that the odds are only 50-50 that the mission will succeed. When the al-Qaeda leader is killed and Obama reviews gruesome pictures of the corpse, he instructs the military not to release them, declaring: “We don’t trot this stuff out as trophies.” We also see Obama in a rare display of pique as he climbs down from the stage following a 2010 speech to the National Urban League after spotting black activist and philosopher Cornel West seated in the front row. West had dissed Obama for not being a true progressive, declaring that he couldn’t “in good conscience” tell black voters to support this candidate. Obama became visibly angry, saying to West: “I’m not progressive? What kind of [expletive] is this?” Obama daily pens handwritten letters to average citizens who write to him, believing this to be a valuable use of his time. In assessing this missing “schmooze gene,” Alter concludes that Obama’s strong desire to be a normal person is “a fine quality in an individual but problematic for a president.” He concludes that Obama has squandered a valuable piece of political capital: “His failure to use the trappings of the presidency more often left him with one less tool in his toolbox, one less way to leverage his authority.”

June 29

Der Spiegel, Attacks from America: NSA Spied on European Union Offices, Laura Poitras, Marcel Rosenbach, Fidelius Schmid and Holger Stark, June 29, 2013.America's NSA intelligence service allegedly targeted the European Union with its spying activities. According to Spiegel information, the US placed bugs in the EU representation in Washington and infiltrated its computer network. Cyber attacks were also perpetrated against Brussels in New York and Washington. New York Times, Taking Outsize Role in Syria, Qatar Funnels Arms to Rebels, Mark Mazzetti, C.J. Chivers and Eric Schmitt, June 29, 2013. As an intermittent supply of arms to the Syrian opposition gathered momentum last year, the Obama administration repeatedly implored its Arab allies to keep one type of powerful weapon out of the rebels’ hands: heat-seeking shoulder-fired missiles. The missiles, American officials warned, could one day be used by terrorist groups, some of them affiliated with Al Qaeda, to shoot down civilian aircraft.

Der Spiegel via Reuters and Huffington Post, NSA Bugged European Union Offices, Computer Networks: Report, Annika Breidthardt, June 29, 2013.The United States bugged European Union offices and gained access to EU internal computer networks, according to secret documents cited in a German magazine on Saturday, the latest in a series of exposures of alleged U.S. spy programmes. Der Spiegel cited from a September 2010 "top secret" document of the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) which it said fugitive former NSA contractor Edward Snowden had taken with him and which the weekly's journalists had seen in part. The document outlines how the NSA bugged offices and spied on EU internal computer networks in Washington and at the United Nations, not only listening to conversations and phone calls but also gaining access to documents and emails. The document explicitly called the EU a "target."

Washington Post, Inner workings of a top-secret spy program, Barton Gellman and Todd Lindeman, June 29, 2013. The National Security Agency’s PRISM progam, which collects intelligence from Microsoft, Google, Yahoo, Apple and other tech giants, is “targeted” at foreigners. But it also collects the e-mail, voice, text and video chats of an unknown number of Americans — “inadvertently,” “incidentally” or deliberately if an American is conversing with a foreign target overseas. Here are new details on how the program works, from top-secret documents and interviews.

Salt Lake City Tribune, NSA in Utah: Mining a mountain of data, Leaks shed light on how spy agency may use supercomputers, gigantic hard drives, Tony Semerad, June 29, 2013. In many ways, the new Utah Data Center is the quintessential black box. Much as the $1.5 billion building’s opaque exterior walls and dark windows obscure its contents, the powerful National Security Agency puts vast resources into hiding the gargantuan trove of secret intelligence and mega-computers to be stored inside. The NSA’s thousands of spies, analysts and support staff are the U.S. military’s lead intelligence collectors. Created in 1952, the agency is charged with intercepting foreign communications, cracking codes, helping track down terrorists and defending U.S. interests against cyberattacks. Beyond describing it as a series of data farms, agency officials haven’t detailed their plans for the center near Camp Williams in Bluffdale, scheduled to be fully operational this fall. But a sharper picture of what is likely to go on within its walls has come into focus with recently leaked documents on NSA surveillance, combined with prior revelations, building specifics, information from defense contractors and hints dropped by top NSA brass.

Observer, Revealed: secret European deals to hand over private data to America, Jamie Dowden, June 29, 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, at left, 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."

Editor's Note: The Observer pulled this front page story from its website June 30 pending what it's brief notice called further investigation. Sources indicated that the concern was that Madsen had reported on other controversial topics. The topics included alleged sex scandals by prominent political leaders in both parties in the United States and alleged foreign intelligence operations in the United States involving allies. Before becoming a reporter and blogger, Madsen as a Navy investigator probed, among other matters, both sexual scandal and, separatly, the Jonathan Pollard spy case and the impact of Pollard's disclosures on U.S. security.

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."   

Huffington Post, Glenn Greenwald: NSA Can Store A Billion Cell Phone Calls Every Day, Braden Goyette, June 29, 2013. Guardian journalist Glenn Greenwald says he has another big scoop about the National Security Agency's surveillance practices up his sleeve. Speaking over Skype to the Socialism Conference in Chicago, Greenwald claimed that the NSA has the ability to store one billion phone calls each day. Greenwald's reporting earlier this month sparked the scandal over NSA surveillance practices that is currently plaguing the Obama administration. The stories were based on classified documents leaked to him by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, and Greenwald indicated Friday night that he's sitting on several more -- one of which he decided to talk about even though his story on it hasn't been published yet.

Washington Post, Patton Boggs, Chevron mired in an epic legal battle over jungle oil pits, Steven Mufson, June  29, 2013. The stakes for the D.C. lobbying firm and the global oil giant are enormous, in terms of dollars and reputation.

Washington Post, Judges in secret court upset with their portrayal, Carol D. Leonnig, Ellen Nakashima and Barton Gellman, June 29, 2013. Members chafe at the suggestion they were collaborating with the executive branch in enabling surveillance. Editor's Note: The secret court's chief judge, Colleen Kollar-Kotelly, right, is reported to be especially upset with news accounts portraying her and the rest of the court as being a rubber-stamp process that collaborates in secret with authorities to ensure that nearly every request for surveillance is granted without an adversial hearing or public decisions. She is a federal district judge based in Washington, DC appointed in 1997 by the Clinton administration.

FDL Book Salon, David Stuckler and Sanjay Basu, The Body Economic: Why Austerity Kills: Recessions, Budget Battles, and the Politics of Life and Death, Mark Thoma, June 29, 2013. David Stuckler and Sanjay Basu’s new book The Body Economic: Why Austerity Kills is a thorough examination of the toll that recessions take on people’s health. They show, convincingly, that there are many, many channels through which health outcomes can deteriorate when the economy goes into a deep recession. They also show that the manner in which the government reacts to an economic downturn is a critical factor in determining health outcomes. Deterioration in health in a recession, though common, is far from inevitable.

June 28

Los Angeles Times, Secret no-fly list blamed for American's Bangkok nightmare, Shashank Bengali, June 28, 2013. A Pomona medical student spent 10 nights in an airport detention area after, he believes, his name turned up on the list. His ordeal underscores the mystery surrounding the government roster. For two weeks, Rehan Motiwala, a 29-year-old medical student from Pomona, sat stranded at the Bangkok airport, sleeping for 10 nights on a roach-infested mattress in a dank, windowless detention room reserved for deportees. Motiwala, a U.S. citizen, wanted to return to his family in Southern California. But earlier this month, as he traveled from Jakarta, Indonesia, to LAX, airline staff in Bangkok refused to issue him a boarding pass for his connecting flight. U.S. and Thai officials told him that he could not travel but offered no explanation, leading him to believe he'd been placed on the U.S. government's secret no-fly list. "They treat you like an animal," Motiwala said in a phone interview.  Motiwala's travel nightmare ended Friday morning when he was finally granted permission to fly out of Bangkok. But his ordeal underscores the mystery that continues to surround the no-fly list 12 years after its creation. U.S. officials refuse to say who's on the list or why, arguing that any explanation could alert potential terrorists about who is being watched.'

Washington Post, Number of federal wiretaps rose 71 percent in 2012, Peter Finn, June 28, 2013. The number of wiretaps secured in federal criminal investigations jumped 71 percent in 2012 over the previous year, according to newly released figures. Federal courts authorized 1,354 interception orders for wire, oral and electronic communications, up from 792 the previous year, according to the figures, released Friday by the Administrative Office of the United States Courts. There was a 5 percent increase in state and local use of wiretaps in the same period.

Lawfare, Senators’ Letter to DNI Clapper on NSA Surveillance, Wells Bennett, June 28, 2013. A group of twenty-six senators yesterday wrote to DNI James Clapper, and inquired about the executive branch’s application of the USA PATRIOT ACT—chiefly, it seems, the “business records” provision set forth in Section 215 of the statute. The missive concludes with a volley of questions.

AP via Huffington Post, Afghanistan Reconstruction Inspector General Report Warns Of Major Waste In Aircraft Purchase, Richard Lardner, June 28, 2013. The Pentagon is spending more than three-quarters of a billion dollars to buy Russian-made helicopters and other aircraft for an Afghan aviation unit that lacks the troops and expertise to operate and maintain the equipment, a government watchdog warned. The Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction said in a report Friday these shortcomings mean the helicopters and fixed-wing aircraft destined for the Afghan Special Mission Wing "could be left sitting on runways in Afghanistan, rather than supporting critical missions, resulting in waste of U.S. funds." The report recommended putting the purchases on hold until the Afghans develop the capacity to support the aircraft. The findings are sure to reverberate on Capitol Hill, where there is stiff opposition to the purchase of the Mi-17 helicopters from Rosoboronexport, the state-run Russian arms exporter that is a top weapons supplier to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Strategic Culture Foundation, NSA is All about Preserving the Power of the Aristocracy in a Dystopian World, Wayne Madsen, shown at right in a file photo, 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.

WorldTribune.com, Obama’s risky move in Jordan could open second front in Syrian war, Brian M Downing, June 28, 2013. The Obama administration is reluctantly upping its involvement in the Syrian civil war. Though the White House offers few details, reports indicate that American personnel will arm and train teams of rebel fighters on Jordanian territory, then send them across the border to fight the Assad government.  This is unlikely to bring a rapid turn of events in the war. The Syrian Army is on the move and rebel forces are in disarray. The new U.S. directives will nonetheless present problems for Assad, though they may also pose problems for the U.S. – eminently foreseeable ones.

CNN, Analysis: Supreme Court term ends with no easy way to label it, Bill Mears, June 28, 2013. The court term that ended this week in dramatic fashion reveals how difficult it can be to create a coherent picture of this dynamic bench, one that moves easily, if stealthily, across ideological lines on a range of hot-button cases

June 27

CNN, Report expresses concerns over CIA, NYPD ties, Ed Payne, CNN, June 27, 2013. New York's Police Department (NYPD) worked with CIA officers in the decade after the September 11, 2001, attacks. In the decade following the September 11, 2001, attacks, four CIA officers directly collaborated with the New York Police Department to expand NYPD's counterterrorism capabilities, according to a newly disclosed report. The CIA inspector general's report -- completed in late 2011, but just declassified in response to a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit by The New York Times -- raises concerns about the relationship between the organizations. CIA agents are prohibited from taking part in domestic spying and the report's release comes in the immediate aftermath of leaks by National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden. 

Wall Street Journal, U.S. Begins Shipping Arms for Syrian Rebels, Adam Entous, Julian E. Barnes and Siobhan Gorman, June 27, 2013. CIA Aims to Vet and Train Fighters With New Weapons for Deployment by August; Saudi Antiaircraft Missiles Expected. The Central Intelligence Agency has begun moving weapons to Jordan from a network of secret warehouses and plans to start arming small groups of vetted Syrian rebels within a month, expanding U.S. support of moderate forces battling President Bashar al-Assad, according to diplomats and U.S. officials briefed on the plans.

Washington Post, Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev indicted on 30 counts, Peter Finn, June 27, 2013. A federal grand jury Thursday returned a 30-count indictment against Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, right, the suspect in the April 15 Boston Marathon bombings. The indictment detailed the 19-year-old’s interest in radical Islamist literature before the fatal explosions, as well as his attempts to justify the attacks in a series of messages he scrawled inside a dry-docked boat just before his capture. Tsarnaev, an ethnic Chechen from Russia and a naturalized U.S. citizen, was charged with the use of a weapon of mass destruction resulting in death; the bombing a public place that resulted in death; and the murder of a Massachusetts Institute of Technology police officer, among other charges. Seventeen of the charges carry the death penalty or life in prison, the U.S. Attorney’s office in Boston said.

Editor's Note: See also as background: Boston Globe, Seasoned defender for Marathon bombing suspect; Milton J. Valencia, May 20, 2013. The lawyer heading the defense for the alleged Boston Marathon bomber in federal court in Boston is well-versed in capital cases and the long, emotionally charged process that would come if federal prosecutors seek the death penalty, according to legal observers and her own colleagues. Judy Clarke, a former public defender now working as a private lawyer in San Diego, has been tapped to represent Dzhokhar Tsarnaev.

FireDogLake, Propaganda & Yellow Journalism Undermines Snowden’s Whistleblowing, Kevin Gosztola, June 27, 2013. When National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden provided his first set of documents to Guardian journalist Glenn Greenwald a note accompanied the set and read, “I understand that I will be made to suffer for my actions.” United States government officials and those in the US media—in some instances in harmony with one another—have done exactly what Snowden predicted. They have engaged in a process of caricaturization and delegitimization that all whistleblowers experience.

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.

New York Times, Roberts Pulls Supreme Court to the Right Step by Step, Adam Liptak, June 27, 2013. Behind the Scenes at the Supreme Court: After a momentous Supreme Court term, The Times’s Adam Liptak discusses what it’s like to cover the court and how his legal background helps in decoding the decisions. Viewed in isolation, the Supreme Court term that just ended had elements of modesty. The court declined to do away with affirmative action, gave Congress another shot at salvaging the Voting Rights Act and refused to find a constitutional right to same-sex marriage.

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.

June  26

New York Times, Supreme Court Invalidates Key Part of Voting Rights Act, Adam Liptak, June 26, 2013. The Supreme Court on Tuesday effectively struck down the heart of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 by a 5-to-4 vote, freeing nine states, mostly in the South, to change their election laws without advance federal approval. Congress renewed the act in 2006 after holding extensive hearings on the persistence of racial discrimination at the polls, again extending the preclearance requirement for 25 years. Editor's Note: The activist majority on the court struck down on a party-line vote a law passed in 2006 by the U.S. Senate 98–0 on July 20 and by the U.S. House of Representatives on July 13 by a vote of 390-33.

Washington Post, What the Supreme Court’s rulings on same-sex marriage mean, Emily Chow, June 26, 2013. Today, the Supreme Court ruled a key part of the Defense of Marriage Act of 1996 unconstitutional and dismissed the case against California's Proposition 8 on the basis that the appeal lacks standing. The Court ruled that the petitioners did not have standing to appeal the district court order. The judgment from the Ninth Circuit is vacated, and the case is remanded. This decision affects California directly, clearing the way for same-sex marriage. How the ruling applies elsewhere would require additional litigation. Windsor v. United States: DOMA is unconstitutional. Same-sex couples who are legally married will get the same federal benefits provided to opposite-sex couples. The Court ruled that the Defense of Marriage Act is unconstitutional because it violated equal protection, so same-sex couples who are legally married will be entitled to equal treatment under federal law with regard to, for example, income taxes and Social Security benefits. The section that says states do not have to recognize same-sex marriages performed elsewhere was not challenged.

Washington Post, Abu Ghraib case against CACI dismissed, Marjorie Censer, June 26, 2013. Arlington-based CACI International secured a long-fought victory Wednesday when a federal judge dismissed a lawsuit alleging its employees directed mistreatment of detainees at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq. The judge did not explicitly rule on CACI’s role in the alleged abuse, instead deciding that because the incidents happened overseas, the U.S. District Court in Alexandria does not have jurisdiction to hear the case. The episode has created a case study for crisis communications experts to ponder, as contractors feel out their role in the often-secret world of cybersecurity and data collection. The decision, which the plaintiffs have vowed to appeal, could have broad implications for the growing corps of contractors who accompany U.S. troops around the world and are tasked with sensitive jobs. CACI’s employees, who conducted interrogation and other tasks at the Iraqi prison, were accused of being part of a group of conspirators who allegedly abused and tortured four detainees between 2003 and 2004.

OpEdNews, Black Hat Versus White Hat: The Other Side Of The Snowden/Hastings/Barret Brown Cases, Jim March and Jill Simpson, June 27, 2013. This is a look into the world of the private contractors that work in alliance with the official US intelligence community and appear to be state-sanctioned to commit crimes. We focus on one of these shady contractors, Endgame -- an Atlanta corporation that both Barrett Brown and Michael Hastings were looking at. We show who they are, what they do, what their founders did before, who funds them and who they are connected to. We even filmed and photographed their building and lobby. At present everybody is focused on what the NSA and related "spy agencies" are doing. But these contractors don't even have their level of alleged "oversight" and are if anything scarier. Enjoy. We assure you, the "spooks" won't. The final moves in a chess game are called the “endgame.”  It has come to the attention of American whistleblowers and election integrity specialists that the CIA, NSA and White House have designed the ultimate final “endgame” for the free world as we know it -- with a group of computer “security specialists.” One key component of this is a corporate office called Endgame at the Biltmore Hotel building.

Associated Press via Huffington Post, Edward Snowden Asylum Decision Could Take Months: Ecuador, June 26, 2013.Entry Ecuador's foreign minister said Wednesday his government could take months to decide whether to grant asylum to fugitive U.S. National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden. Foreign Minister Ricardo Patino compared Snowden's case to that of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, who has been given asylum in the Ecuadorean Embassy in London. "It took us two months to make a decision in the case of Assange, so do not expect us to make a decision sooner this time," Patino told a news conference during a visit to Malaysia's main city, Kuala Lumpur. Asked if Ecuador would provide protection to Snowden while considering his request for asylum, Patino said through a translator that if Snowden "goes to the embassy, then we will make a decision." Patino refused to say what criteria Ecuador would use to decide, but added that his government would "consider all these risks," including concerns that it would hurt trade with the U.S. and his country's economy.

Shamai Leibowitz, Once Jailed Victim of Obama’s War on Whistleblowers: Snowden a ‘Man of Conscience,’  Kevin Gosztola, June 26, 2013.Shamai Leibowitz, a former FBI translator who uncovered documents showing illegal and unconstitutional acts, went to the press and was prosecuted under the Espionage Act, published a blog post on Monday where he indicated his support for NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden. Snowden is charged with two violations of the Espionage Act—“unauthorized communication of national defense information” and “willful communication of classified communications intelligence information to an unauthorized person.” Leibowitz writes in his post, “The government would do well to let this man of conscience go live his life in some other country, and apologize to the American public for lying to us, and turning the country into what Daniel Ellsberg calls the United Stasi of America.”

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.

Washington Post, Syrian rebels say they need U.S. weapons now, Taylor Luck and William Booth, June 26, 2013. Syrian rebels say they fear that weapons pledged recently by the United States and other international backers will not come in time for them to make gains against the forces of President Bashar al-Assad, left. Commanders of rebel units operating in southern Syria said that if the promised arms do not begin flowing in the next few weeks, their fighters are in danger of being routed by forces loyal to Assad, who are being assisted by the Shiite Lebanese militia Hezbollah and an unknown number of Iranian fighters.

Washington Post, Russia reports pullout from small base in Syria, Will Englund, June 26, 2013. Russia has evacuated all military personnel from its small naval base in Syria, Russian news organizations reported Wednesday. The base, at Tartus on the Mediterranean, has been Russia’s only foothold in the Middle East. Although it is a minor facility, its importance has grown as Russia continues to support the regime of President Bashar al-Assad in its war against rebel forces.

Washington Post, CIA report refutes findings of Senate panel, Greg Miller and Julie Tate, June 26, 2013. The agency’s report challenges the findings of a Senate investigation of the CIA’s interrogation program.

Washington Post, At Supreme Court, victories for gay marriage, Robert Barnes, June 26, 2013. The Supreme Court’s first rulings on same-sex marriage produced historic gains for gay rights Wednesday: full federal recognition of legally married gay couples and an opening for such unions to resume in the nation’s most-populous state. The divided court stopped short of a more sweeping ruling that the fundamental right to marry must be extended to gay couples no matter where they live. But in striking down a key part of the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), the court declared that gay couples married in states where it is legal must receive the same federal health, tax, Social Security and other benefits that heterosexual couples receive.

Washington Post, The Supreme Court embraces activism in support of conservative causes, E.J. Dionne Jr., June 26, 2013. The rulings against the Defense of Marriage Act and California’s Proposition 8 show how the liberalizing trend on some social issues is hard for even a conservative court to resist.The marriage rulings, however, should not distract from the arrogance of power displayed Tuesday in Shelby County v. Holder. Chief Justice John Roberts’s opinion involved little constitutional analysis. He simply substituted the court’s judgment for Congress’s in deciding which states should be covered under Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act, which required voting rules in states with a history of discrimination to be pre-cleared by the Justice Department. The court instructed Congress to rewrite the law, even though these sophisticated conservatives certainly know how difficult this will be in the current political climate. Whenever conservatives on the court have had the opportunity to tilt the playing field toward their side, they have done so.

Washington Post, Snowden voiced contempt for leakers in newly disclosed chat logs from 2009, Peter Finn and Julie Tate, June 26, 2013. Those who reveal such information “should be shot,” he said, according to newly disclosed chat logs.

June 25

Huffington Post, Voting Rights Act Section 4 Struck Down By Supreme Court, Ryan J. Reilly, Mike Sacks, Sabrina Siddiqui, June 24, 2013. The Supreme Court struck down Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act on Tuesday, the provision of the landmark civil rights law that designates which parts of the country must have changes to their voting laws cleared by the federal government or in federal court. The 5-4 ruling, authored by Chief Justice John Roberts, left, and joined by Justices Antonin Scalia, Anthony Kennedy, Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito, ruled in Shelby County v. Holder that “things have changed dramatically” in the South in the nearly 50 years since the Voting Rights Act was signed in 1965. The vote by the activist majority overturned legislation passed by the Senate with a nearly unanimous vote. See also, Atlantic, Voting Rights Act unconstitutional, Andrew Cohen, June 25, 2013. On Voting Rights, a Decision as Lamentable as Plessy or Dred Scott, and Washington Post, Court strikes down part of Voting Rights Act, Robert Barnes, June 25, 2013.

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.

FireDogLake, Activists That US Military Targeted & Spied Upon Were Designated ‘Domestic Terrorists,’ Kevin Gosztola, June 25, 2013. Activists who are plaintiffs in a lawsuit brought by attorneys with the National Lawyers Guild have learned that they were listed in a national domestic terrorist database after being targeted and spied upon by the United States Army and Coast Guard, a Washington Fusion Center and police departments in the state of Washington. Brendan Dunn and Jeffery Berryhill, who both helped organize actions, including nonviolent civil disobedience, as part of Port Militarization Resistance (PMR) from 2006 to 2009 in Olympia and Tacoma, Washington, were listed in the domestic terrorist database.

Associated Press, Russia rejects US demand for Snowden's extradition, Vladdimir Isachenkov, June 25, 2013. Russia's foreign minister bluntly rejected U.S. demands to extradite National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden, saying Tuesday that Snowden hasn't crossed the Russian border. Sergey Lavrov insisted that Russia has nothing to do with Snowden or his travel plans. Lavrov wouldn't say where Snowden is, but he lashed out angrily at Washington for demanding his extradition and warning of negative consequences if Moscow fails to comply. The defiant tone underlined the Kremlin's readiness to challenge Washington at a time when U.S.-Russian relations are strained over Syria and a Russian ban on adoptions by Americans.

Washington Post, After Snowden leak, critics of U.S. spy a chance to return rhetorical fire, Colum Lynch, June 25, 2013. As Edward Snowden continues his extraordinary flight from U.S. authorities, hopscotching the globe with the acquiescence of other governments, Washington’s critics have savored the irony of the world’s human rights champion being tripped up by revelations about its monitoring of phone and Internet communications.

OpEdNews, A New Beginning Without Washington's Sanctimonious Mask, Paul Craig Roberts, left, June 25, 2013.Let's quit calling the NSA the National Security Agency. You can take for granted that every media prostitute, every government prostitute, every ignorant flag-waver who declares Edward Snowden to be a traitor is either brainwashed or blackmailed. They are the protectors of NSA tyranny. They are our enemies. Following Snowden's revelations, Germany's most important magazine, Der Spiegal, had the headline: "Obama's Soft Totalitarianism: Europe Must Protect Itself From America." The first sentence of the article asks: "Is Barack Obama a friend? Revelations about his government's vast spying program call that into doubt. The European Union must protect the Continent from America's reach for omnipotence." Der Spiegal continues: "We are being watched. All the time and everywhere. And it is the Americans who are doing the watching." It is extraordinary that the most important publication in Germany has acknowledged that the German government is Washington's puppet state. For those moronic amerikans who say, "I'm not doing anything wrong, I don't care if they spy," Der Spiegel writes that a "monitored human being is not a free one." We have reached the point where we "free americans" have to learn from our German puppets that we are not free.

Washington Post, Ahead of Obama’s visit, Africans feel he hasn’t lived up to promises, David Nakamura and Sudarsan Raghavan, June 25, 2013. As President Obama heads back to the continent Wednesday for a week-long trip to Senegal, South Africa and Tanzania, he can expect a welcome that is still warm and enthusiastic — but tinged with an unmistakable sense of disappointment after a first term that many Africans believe did not live up to Obama’s lofty promises. The Obama administration’s record, policy analysts in Washington and Africa said, has not been defined by greater economic investment and diplomacy. According to the Congressional Research Service, U.S. aid to Africa rose from $1.1 billion in 2006 to $8.2 billion in fiscal 2009 — an amount set during George W. Bush’s final year in office — before dipping to$6.9 billion in 2011.

Washington Post, Obama administration delivers ‘a nasty surprise’ to black college students, parents, Courtland Milloy, June 25, 2013. When it comes to dashing the hopes of thousands of college-bound African Americans, you’d hardly think of President Obama as a culprit. Maybe the right-wing-dominated Supreme Court. But not Obama, the black Harvard law grad who likes to cite higher education as a path into the middle class and who pledges to make student loans more accessible to black scholars. And yet, in what United Negro College Fund President Michael Lomax calls “a nasty surprise,” the Obama administration has begun denying student loans to disproportionately large numbers of black parents because of blemished credit histories.

Washington Spectator, Choose Your Own Dystopia, James Berger, June 25, 2013. Even in our passionately oblivious consumer paradise, two principle dissonances persist. First, the center of the consumerist social contract is breaking down: that is, continual prosperity and the ability of all citizens to be effective consumers. The growth of poverty and social inequality since the 1980s, and especially since the financial crisis of 2008, have begun to starve consumer capitalism of its political elixer. This sense of the endpoint of consumption guides both the Tea Party and the Occupy movements. The second dissonance is that force and violence are still used. We saw during Occupy the reality of the state power when the government’s patience with public protest had expired. We know that during political conventions or international summits, freedom of assembly and political expression are restricted to fenced-in “free speech zones”—a revelation to those who imagined that such a zone encompassed our entire country.

June 24

National Interest, Brzezinski on the Syria Crisis, Zbigniew Brzezinski, June 24, 2013. Editor’s Note: Following is an interview with Zbigniew Brzezinski, right, former White House national-security adviser under Jimmy Carter and now a counselor and trustee at the Center for Strategic and International Studies and a senior research professor at the School of Advanced International Studies at Johns Hopkins University. The interview was by Jacob Heilbrun:

Heilbrun: What happened to President Obama that brought us here?
 
Brzezinski: There is a mysterious aspect to all of this. Just consider the timing. In late 2011 there are outbreaks in Syria produced by a drought and abetted by two well-known autocracies in the Middle East: Qatar and Saudi Arabia. He all of a sudden announces that Assad has to go—without, apparently, any real preparation for making that happen. Then in the spring of 2012, the election year here, the CIA under General Petraeus, according to *The New York Times of March 24th of this year, a very revealing article, mounts a large-scale effort to assist the Qataris and the Saudis and link them somehow with the Turks in that effort. Was this a strategic position? Why did we all of a sudden decide that Syria had to be destabilized and its government overthrown? Had it ever been explained to the American people?....I’m afraid that we’re headed toward an ineffective American intervention, which is even worse. There are circumstances in which intervention is not the best but also not the worst of all outcomes. But what you are talking about means increasing our aid to the "least" effective of the forces opposing Assad. So at best, it’s simply damaging to our credibility. At worst, it hastens the victory of groups that are much more hostile to us than Assad ever was. I still do not understand why—and that refers to my first answer—why we concluded somewhere back in 2011 or 2012—an election year, incidentally—that Assad should go.

OpEdNews, Captain Queeg Commands the Good Ship Obama? Michael Collins, June 24, 2013. According to Marisa Taylor and Jonathan S. Landay of McClatchy's Washington Bureau, President Barack Obama is circling the wagons on leaks. This was happening before Snowden blew his whistle. It sounds serious: "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." Insider Threats, June 24, 2013 He "exhorts" punishment and targets those who "fail to report their suspicions."  How do you determine the level of suspicion a person has unless they report it?  Why would they report it if they knew they were going to be punished?  This is reminiscent of the dreadful immigration law proposed under Bush that made it a felony to know but not report an undocumented guest worker.

Huffington Post, How One State Senate Just Screwed the Whole Nation, Josh Silver, June 24, 2013. Observing New York state politics is like watching felons run a parole board. Last week, senate leadership killed a bill that would have cleaned up state government and created citizen-funded elections. It was a huge opportunity to stem corruption that has wracked the state. We'll never beat corruption through wonky legislative battles alone. We'll need an anti-corruption movement akin to those in Brazil & Turkey. Every American who cares one whit about future generations should be obsessed with money in politics corruption.

FireDogLake, Snowden’s Asylum Request: ‘Unlikely I Would Receive Fair Trial or Proper Treatment Prior to Trial,’ Kevin Gosztola, June 24, 2013. The foreign minister of Ecuador, Ricardo Patino, held a press conference in Hanoi, Vietnam, where he made some remarks about NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden’s request for asylum and read an excerpt from the application.

Salon, 10 Questions for NBC Host Who Shamelessly Suggested Greenwald Be Arrested for NSA Leaks, David Sirota, June 24, 2013. NSA leaks did not just reveal government spying, but also the mainstream media's refusal to question or challenge authority. Two weeks into the hullaballoo surrounding whistleblower Edward Snowden and Guardian reporter Glenn Greenwald, one thing is clear: they did not just reveal potentially serious crimes perpetrated by the government — including possible perjury,unlawful spying and unconstitutional surveillance. They also laid bare in historic fashion the powerful double standards that now define most U.S. media coverage of the American government — the kind that portray those who challenge power as criminals, and those who worship it as heroes deserving legal immunity. Indeed, after “Meet the Press” host David Gregory’s instantly notorious performance yesterday, it is clear Snowden’s revelations so brazenly exposed these double standards that it will be difficult for the Washington press corps to ever successfully hide them again.
The best way to see these double standards is to ponder 10 simple questions.

Washington Post, Former federal official sentenced to probation with a day in jail, Ann E. Marimow, June 24, 2013. The former head of the federal agency that protects government whistleblowers was sentenced Monday to two years of probation, including one day in jail, for having files erased from government computers. U.S. District Judge Robert L. Wilkins reprimanded Scott J. Bloch, left,  the Bush-era head of the Office of Special Counsel, for failing to “completely come clean” about why he had hired private technicians to scrub office computers and for misleading Congress when asked about his conduct. Bloch’s attorney, William M. Sullivan Jr., had requested a one-year period of probation, and federal prosecutors did not object. Bloch admitted in 2010 that he had not given congressional investigators complete information about the incident in which he hired a company called Geeks on Call to remove information from computers at the Office of Special Counsel. He was initially sentenced to 30 days in jail for the misdemeanor contempt of Congress charge. But a federal judge allowed him to withdraw his guilty plea because neither side in the case had been aware that the offense required a sentence of jail time. Prosecutors then filed a new misdemeanor charge, and Bloch pleaded guilty in February to destroying government property. In May, Wilkins delayed sentencing because he said attorneys on both sides had not given him sufficient information about Bloch’s conduct. Editor's Note: Illustrating unequal justice, federal prosecutors and judges relentlessly pursued a Connecticut attorney, Charles Spadoni, who deleted information from his computer in 1999. After many years of litigation, much of it successful, Spadoni was imprisoned last year for a sentence of a year.

June 23

Washington Post, Snowden flees Hong Kong for Moscow, Kathy Lally, Jia Lynn Yang and Anthony Faiola, June 23, 2013.   Edward Snowden, the former government contractor who leaked top-secret documents about U.S. surveillance programs, fled Hong Kong for Moscow on Sunday with the assistance of the anti-secrecy organization WikiLeaks, landing at Sheremetyevo International Airport aboard an Aeroflot flight, according to Russian media reports and a WikiLeaks spokesman.

Huffington Post, Michael Hastings' Car Hacked? Richard Clarke Says It's Possible, Mike Hogan, June 24, 2013. The peculiar circumstances of journalist Michael Hastings' death in Los Angeles last week have unleashed a wave of conspiracy theories. Now there's another theory to contribute to the paranoia: According to a prominent security analyst, technology exists that could've allowed someone to hack his car. Former U.S. National Coordinator for Security, Infrastructure Protection, and Counter-terrorism Richard Clarke told The Huffington Post that what is known about the single-vehicle crash is "consistent with a car cyber attack."  

Huffington Post, Samuel Alito Rolls Eyes While Ruth Bader Ginsburg Reads Dissent, Ryan Rainey, June 24, 2013. Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito broke from the high court's usual decorum on Monday morning, rolling his eyes and shaking his head as his senior colleague, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, read her dissents in two cases. Longtime Supreme Court observer Garrett Epps called it a "mini-tantrum" and "display of rudeness." "Alito pursed his lips, rolled his eyes to the ceiling, and shook his head 'no,'" wrote Epps in the Atlantic. "He looked for all the world like Sean Penn as Jeff Spicoli in Fast Times at Ridgemont High, signaling to the homies his contempt for Ray Walston as the bothersome history teacher, Mr. Hand."  He added that Alito's gestures "brought gasps from more than one person in the audience." Washington Post columnist Dana Milbank echoed Epps' admonishment. "His treatment of the 80-year-old Ginsburg, 17 years his senior and with 13 years more seniority, was a curious display of judicial temperament, or, more accurately, judicial intemperance," Milbank wrote. "Typically, justices state their differences in words -- and Alito, as it happens, had just spoken several hundred of his own from the bench. But Alito frequently supplements words with middle-school gestures." In 2010, Alito also raised eyebrows when he shook his head and mouthed "not true" while President Barack Obama criticized the Court's Citizens United ruling during the State of the Union address.

FireDogLake, As Edward Snowden Wings to Moscow (and Beyond?) American Hubris, Criminality and Arrogance Are Challenged on Several Fronts, Edward Teller, June 23, 2013. On Saturday, an arrogant White House, perturbed that Hong Kong seemed to be taking its time in responding to an extradition request for Edward Snowden, was quoted by CBS News: "If Hong Kong doesn’t act soon, it will complicate our bilateral relations and raise questions about Hong Kong’s commitment to the rule of law." Before the government of Hong Kong had time to reply in writing to the American extradition request, the statement, believed to have been made by White House National Security Adviser Tom Donilon, was the butt of several tweets by national security writer and blogger, Marcy Wheeler:

The Administration that won’t prosecute James Clapper for lying to Congress is lecturing Hong Kong about the rule of law....The Admin that has not prosecuted a single major bankster is lecturing Hong Kong about the rule of law....The Admin that didn’t prosecute any torturers is lecturing Hong Kong about rule of law....The Admin that did not prosecute anyone for illegally wiretapping Americans is lecturing Hong Kong about rule of law.

Hong Kong's government (HKSAR)) issued the following statement June 23 about Snowden:

Mr Edward Snowden left Hong Kong today (June 23) on his own accord for a third country through a lawful and normal channel. The US Government earlier on made a request to the HKSAR Government for the issue of a provisional warrant of arrest against Mr Snowden. Since the documents provided by the US Government did not fully comply with the legal requirements under Hong Kong law, the HKSAR Government has requested the US Government to provide additional information so that the Department of Justice could consider whether the US Government’s request can meet the relevant legal conditions. As the HKSAR Government has yet to have sufficient information to process the request for provisional warrant of arrest, there is no legal basis to restrict Mr Snowden from leaving Hong Kong. The HKSAR Government has already informed the US Government of Mr Snowden’s departure. Meanwhile, the HKSAR Government has formally written to the US Government requesting clarification on earlier reports about the hacking of computer systems in Hong Kong by US government agencies. The HKSAR Government will continue to follow up on the matter so as to protect the legal rights of the people of Hong Kong.

Washington Post, Snowden flees Hong Kong for Moscow, Kathy Lally, Jia Lynn Yang and Anthony Faiola, June 23, 2013.   Edward Snowden, the former government contractor who leaked top-secret documents about U.S. surveillance programs, fled Hong Kong for Moscow on Sunday with the assistance of the anti-secrecy organization WikiLeaks, landing at Sheremetyevo International Airport aboard an Aeroflot flight, according to Russian media reports and a WikiLeaks spokesman.

Guardian, The NSA's metastasised intelligence-industrial complex is ripe for abuse, Valerie Plame Wilson and Joe Wilson (at right on the cover of his 2005 memoir), June 23, 2013. Where oversight and accountability have failed, Snowden's leaks have opened up a vital public debate on our rights and privacy. Let's be absolutely clear about the news that the NSA collects massive amounts of information on US citizens – from emails, to telephone calls, to videos, under the Prism program and other Fisa court orders: this story has nothing to do with Edward Snowden. As interesting as his flight to Hong Kong might be, the pole-dancing girlfriend, and interviews from undisclosed locations, his fate is just a sideshow to the essential issues of national security versus constitutional guarantees of privacy, which his disclosures have surfac

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.

FireDogLake, Dissenter, WikiLeaks Helps Snowden Leave Hong Kong, Kevin Gosztola, June 23, 2013. The whistleblower who revealed details on NSA surveillance and hacking, former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, has left Hong Kong with the help of WikiLeaks. A statement put out indicates he “left Hong Kong legally. He is bound for a democratic nation via a safe route for the purposes of asylum, and is being escorted by diplomats and legal advisors from WikiLeaks.” It also shows that Snowden “requested that WikiLeaks use its legal expertise and experience to secure his safety. Once Mr Snowden arrives at his final destination his request will be formally processed.” Snowden was able to leave Hong Kong because, according to a press release by the Hong Kong government, “The documents provided by the US Government did not fully comply with the legal requirements under Hong Kong law.” The Hong Kong government requested the US government “provide additional information” so Hong Kong’s Department of Justice could consider whether the US Government’s request” could “meet the relevant legal conditions,” but they were not confident that they had been given “sufficient information to process the request for a provisional warrant” to arrest him. It is believed that Snowden, who has been charged by the US Justice Department with two violations of the Espionage Act and one count of theft of government property, will be going onward to Havana, Cuba, and then to Caracas, Venezuela. Additionally, a United Kingdom citizen, journalist and legal researcher, who WikiLeaks reports has been working with the WikiLeaks Legal Defense team, helped Snowden depart from Hong Kong. She is “accompanying” Snowden” in his passage to safety.”

June 22

Hartford Courant, Death Penalty Bias Case Heats Up, Even After Trial Is Long Over, Jon Lender, June 22, 2013. Eight years and millions of taxpayer dollars after it began, the end is finally near in a habeas corpus lawsuit by five convicted killers who claim that Connecticut's death penalty is racially, ethnically and geographically biased. The trial in the case concluded six months ago, and a ruling is expected by fall. The end phrase of a lawsuit is often a time of quiet before the decision — but this case is actually growing louder.

FireDogLake, Snowden Becomes Eighth Person to Be Charged with Violating the Espionage Act Under Obama, Kevin Gosztola, June 22, 2013. A criminal complaint indicates former NSA contractor and whistleblower Edward Snowden has been charged with three felonies. Two of the felonies are charges under the Espionage Act. The complaint, filed on June 14, shows he was charged with “unauthorized communication of national defense information”—an Espionage Act violation—and “willful communication of classified communications intelligence information to an unauthorized person,” a violation of United States Code 798 prohibiting the disclosure of classified information and an offense under the Espionage Act.

Reuters, Western, Arab states to step up Syrian rebel support, Yara Bayoumy and Amena Bakr, June 22, 2013. International opponents of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad agreed on Saturday to give urgent military support to Western-backed rebels, aiming to stem a counter-offensive by Assad's forces and offset the growing power of jihadist fighters.

Washington Post, After NSA leaks, secretive court gets rare scrutiny, Peter Wallsten, Carol D. Leonnig and Alice Crites, June 22, 2013. Recently, lawmakers have begun to ask who the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court’s judges are, why they have almost never declined a surveillance request, and why their work is so secretive. U.S. District Court Judge John Bates appeared before dozens of senators two weeks ago for a highly unusual, top-secret briefing. The lawmakers pressed Bates, according to people familiar with the session, to discuss the inner workings of the United States’ clandestine terrorism surveillance tribunal, which Bates oversaw from 2006 until earlier this year. Bates had rarely spoken of his sensitive work. He reluctantly agreed to appear at the behest of Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), who arranged the session after new disclosures that the court had granted the government broad access to millions of Americans’ telephone and Internet communications. The public is seeing a court whose secret rulings have in effect created a body of law separate from the one on the books — one that gives U.S. spy agencies the authority to collect bulk information about Americans’ medical care, firearms purchases, credit card usage and other interactions with business and commerce, according to Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.). Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts, left, a Republican, appoints all the judges on the secret court. Ten of the 11 are fellow Republicans, as is Bates.

Washington Post, U.S. increases pressure on Hong Kong to arrest Snowden, Sari Horwitz and Jia Lynn Yang, June 22, 2013. U.S. officials are also seeking to extradite him to the United States to stand trial on criminal charges in the NSA leak case. Obama administration officials Saturday publicly increased pressure on Hong Kong to move quickly to arrest Edward Snowden, a week after U.S. officials asked its government to detain the admitted leaker of documents about top-secret surveillance programs. White House national security adviser Thomas E. Donilon said U.S. officials “are in conversation” with Hong Kong authorities and have asked the special administrative region of China not only to arrest the former National Security Agency contractor but also to extradite him to the United States to stand trial on criminal charges. “If Hong Kong doesn’t act soon, it will complicate our bilateral relations and raise questions about Hong Kong’s commitment to the rule of law,” said another senior administration official.

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.

Reuters, Western, Arab states to step up Syrian rebel support, Yara Bayoumy and Amena Bakr, June 22, 2013. International opponents of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad agreed on Saturday to give urgent military support to Western-backed rebels, aiming to stem a counter-offensive by Assad's forces and offset the growing power of jihadist fighters.

June 21

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]"

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.

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.

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.”

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 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.

Los Angeles Times, Snowden an eccentric, but hardly stood out at NSA, Shashank Bengali, June 21, 2013. http://articles.latimes.com/2013/jun/21/nation/la-na-nsa-snowden-20130622 The ex-contractor who exposed NSA surveillance programs was a self-taught tech whiz who mysteriously ascended to a coveted job with the agency. But his background check found no red flags. The National Security Agency is the size of a small town, with more than 30,000 employees and as much variety. There are blue-haired iconoclasts who work in their socks, buttoned-down military types and pale-faced introverts who avoid eye contact in the hallways. On the surface, at least, Edward Snowden was hardly unusual at America's largest and most powerful intelligence agency. A self-taught computer whiz who wanted to travel the world, Snowden seemed a perfect fit for a secretive organization that spies on communications from foreign terrorism suspects.

Alternet, There's a New Fascism on the Rise, and the NSA Leaks Show Us What It Looks Like, John Pilger, June 21, 2013. The power of truth-tellers like Edward Snowden is that they dispel a whole mythology carefully constructed by the corporate cinema, the corporate academy and the corporate media. In his book, Propaganda, published in 1928, Edward Bernays wrote: "The conscious and intelligent manipulation of the organized habits and opinions of the masses is an important element in democratic society. Those who manipulate this unseen mechanism of society constitute an invisible government which is the true ruling power of our country." The American nephew of Sigmund Freud, Bernays invented the term "public relations" as a euphemism for state propaganda. He warned that an enduring threat to the invisible government was the truth-teller and an enlightened public. Fred Branfman, who exposed the "secret" destruction of tiny Laos by the US Air Force in the 1960s and 70s, provides an answer to those who still wonder how a liberal African-American president, a professor of constitutional law, can command such lawlessness. "Under Mr. Obama," he wrote for AlterNet, "no president has done more to create the infrastructure for a possible future police state." Why? Because Obama, like George W Bush, understands that his role is not to indulge those who voted for him but to expand "the most powerful institution in the history of the world, one that has killed, wounded or made homeless well over 20 million human beings, mostly civilians, since 1962." Control and dominance are the two words that make sense of this. These are exercised by political, economic and military designs, of which mass surveillance is an essential part, but also by insinuating propaganda in the public consciousness. This was Edward Bernays’s point. His two most successful PR campaigns were convincing Americans they should go to war in 1917 and persuading women to smoke in public. Cigarettes were "torches of freedom" that would hasten women’s liberation.

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.

Truthout, Revealed: The Story Behind the "NATO 3" Domestic Terrorism Arrests, Matt Stroud and Steve Horn, June 21, 2013. Accused of domestic terrorism in the course of the Chicago NATO summit, Brian Church, Brent Betterly and Jared Chase were arguably victims of police entrapment and the use of "Red Squad" tactics the Chicago police were formerly enjoined from employing.

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.”

AP via Yahoo News! Rivalries pose problem in arming Syrian rebels, Bradley Klapper, June 21, 2013. 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. 

Daily Howler, Silly Season: Who gets attacked! Bob Somerby, June 21, 2013. First, they came for Miss South Carolina Teen. That was 2007. In these ways, a new type of seasonal shark attack was born — and this week, they came for Miss Utah. At one point, they begged Miss Utah to take their advice. Here’s where this MSNBC story gets good: Alex Wagner, the world’s most pompous human, kept her big trap shut last year when Rachel Maddow engaged in this conduct! This Monday night, Wagner snarkily rolled her eyes at the foolishness of poor stupid Miss Utah. She helped us see how great it would be if people like these could just learn to be a bit more like Wagner herself. She prayed that Miss Utah would take her advice. And that of the genius NeNe Leakes (a former member of the Real Housewives of Atlanta reality show cast)!  But how strange! Last year, Wagner didn’t say a word when Maddow erred and then seemed to lie. When it was Maddow who bungled this topic, bungling was A-OK!

New York Magazine, Mitch McConnell Realizes IRS Scandal Is Over, Jonathan Chait, June 21, 2013. Mitch McConnell delivered a speech today at the American Enterprise Institute to signal the IRS scandal has entered its post-fact phase. When the IRS first revealed that its Cincinnati office had attempted to enforce its nonprofit laws using a search function that disproportionately impacted conservatives, Republicans were certain it must have come from the White House. They were going to follow the facts. But all of the facts point in the same direction, which is that the Obama administration had nothing to do with it at all. That was the conclusion of the agency’s inspector-general report, as well as the House Oversight Committee’s own interviews, which the Republican majority tried to suppress and which (when the Democrats released them) showed the operation was an independent, well-intentioned effort to enforce the law led by an IRS official who happens to be a conservative Republican. McConnell’s speech is an attempt to reframe the issue in a way that it can survive the utter absence of incriminating facts. One method he employs is to flip around the burden of proof.

Info Wars, Angelina Jolie Wasn’t ‘Brave’, She Was Manipulated By Myriad Genetics, Donna Anderson, June 21, 2013. The recent Supreme Court ruling that genes can’t be patented is a major win for women who have a family history of breast cancer. And after Genae Girard’s interview with Infowar’s David Knight, one has to wonder if Angelina Jolie would still have made the same decision to have a double mastectomy if she hadn’t been manipulated by Myriad Genetics. Girard’s story is one shared by many woman. In 2006, on the advice of her physician, Girard underwent testing for the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes to see if she was destined to develop breast and ovarian cancer. The test, administered only by Myriad Genetics, came back positive and Girard had a decision to make: Should she play Russian Roulette and do nothing on the slim chance that she’d never develop breast cancer, or should she undergo preventative surgery and have both breasts and her ovaries removed? Angelina Jolie recently faced the same decision and after considering all the ‘facts’ she chose to have the surgery, removing both breasts because, according to Myriad Genetics Corp., there was a very high probability that she would someday develop breast cancer and die.

June 20

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, 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,

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.

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.

Los Angeles Times, Michael Hastings researching Jill Kelley case before death, Brian Bennett, June 20, 2013. Wikileaks: Hastings Said He Was Being Investigated By FBI. During the weeks before he was killed in a car crash in Los Angeles, reporter Michael Hastings, left, was researching a story about a privacy lawsuit brought by Florida socialite Jill Kelley against the Department of Defense and the FBI. Hastings, 33, was scheduled to meet with a representative of Kelley next week in Los Angeles to discuss the case, according to a person close to Kelley. Hastings wrote for Rolling Stone and the website BuzzFeed. Kelley alleges that military officials and the FBI leaked her name to the media to discredit her after she reported receiving a stream of emails that were traced to Paula Broadwell, a biographer of former CIA director David H. Petraeus, according to a lawsuit filed in Federal District Court in Washington, D.C., on June 3. Petraeus resigned from the CIA after publicly admitting that he and Broadwell had carried on an extramarital affair. The story about Kelley, Broadwell and the Petraeus affair would have been consistent with topics that Hastings has focused on during his reporting career. His unvarnished 2010 Rolling Stone profile of Gen. Stanley McChrystal, the top American commander in Afghanistan, led to McChrystal’s resignation. The story described the disdain McChrystal’s staff showed for President Obama and Vice President Joe Biden. Since Hasting’s death early Tuesday, wild conspiracy theories have bloomed on the Internet implying that he was murdered by powerful forces wanting to silence him. Among his stories: Buzzfeed, The Sins Of General David Petraeus, Michael Hastings.

New York Times, Tribune Falls Afoul of Its Own Tax Strategy, Floyd Norris, June 20, 2013. It was perhaps the cleverest corporate tax strategy ever devised: no matter how much money the company made, neither it nor its shareholders would ever owe a penny in federal income taxes. Instead, the strategy has now backfired on the Tribune Company, the publisher of The Chicago Tribune and The Los Angeles Times, among other publications. The company seems likely to have to pay hundreds of millions of dollars in taxes that it would never have owed had it not tried to be so clever.  In a way, this latest disaster is an indictment of a corporate tax law that allows companies — even encourages them — to play games to minimize their tax bills. Without the expected tax savings, the numbers probably would not have worked when Samuel Zell, the real estate billionaire, was putting together his 2007 takeover of Tribune. Perhaps he would have dropped the deal, or perhaps he would have been unable to finance it. In either case, everyone involved would have been better off. Workers gave up contributions to their retirement plans in return for the ESOP. To try to make the highly leveraged structure work, Mr. Zell laid off some of them. Others lost their jobs as the company’s losses mounted. Perhaps more will do so now as Tribune tries to find the cash to pay its tax bill. The ESOP is worthless.

June 19

Washington Spectator, Obama's Old-Fashioned Imperialism, M.J. Rosenberg, June 19, 2013. President Barack Obama’s decision to provide military aid to the Syrian opposition is incredible. The U.S. is barely out of Iraq. It’s still bogged down in Afghanistan. Obama insists on keeping the Iran war option “on the table.” Yet suddenly we are taking sides in a civil war in Syria. The most amazing thing is that the president has the audacity to even propose involvement in Syria to the American people. (Not that he is asking, just telling. If he asked, he’d know that 70 percent of Americans oppose aiding the rebels). Since 1964, when President Lyndon Johnson came up with a phony pretext to gain passage of the Gulf of Tonkin resolution authorizing the Vietnam war, it has been one presidentially-initiated intervention after another: Dominican Republic, Grenada, Panama, Lebanon, Persian Gulf, Yugoslavia, Somalia, Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya. This list does not even include the delivery of arms to the mujahideen in Afghanistan which brought us the Taliban, Osama Bin Laden, 9/11 and the endless War on Terror. President Obama is shown at right in a White House photo by Peter Souza talking to Israel's prime minister in January.

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.

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Fox News, NSA Spying Hearing: Ron Paul disputes NSA claim of 50 plots foiled, Neil Cavuto, June 18, 2013. Former U.S. Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX) disputed NSA claims at a congressional hearing June 18 hearing that surveillance has thwarted 50 terrorist plots. “I don’t really believe that because I think they fudged the figures," Paul told Fox News host Neil Cavuto, referring to comments made by NSA Director Keith Alexander during a House Intelligence Committee hearing. "Of those 50 plots that they stopped, I think 40 were minor plots overseas, for all we know.” President Obama repeated the point in a speech in Berlin, Germany, claiming “at least 50 threats have been averted” thanks to information gleaned from the domestic surveillance programs. Paul responded of federal officials, “They have to try to justify their existence of destroying the freedom of and the privacy of the American citizens, otherwise they’re out of work....They stretched the point. And even these hearings today were a bit of a sham…because they had already decided what the results would be,” the former Congressman added. “It’s sort of like the old story about you have to burn the village to save the village. They want to burn the Constitution to save the Constitution,” he said. “And even today, [James] Cole, the Deputy Attorney General says, the Fourth Amendment doesn’t apply to this. Where did he get this brilliance to know when it applies and when it doesn’t?” Paul continued, If we can go to war and do all these other things and throw the constitution out the window so casually, you better be sure if you give them an inch, they’re going to take a mile and paint themselves as heroes.”

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.

National Press Club, Club Talks With Attorney General Holder on Press Freedom Matters, Angela Greiling Keane, June 19, 2013. The National Press Club participated in the most recent small-group meeting with Attorney General Eric Holder to discuss our concerns about the Justice Department's recent subpoenas and search warrants issued against journalists. The seizures of journalists' phone records and e-mails, which are troubling to our members, have come in the midst of the Obama administration's recent wave of leak investigations. Representing the Club, I expressed our concern about the chilling effect on newsgathering and whistleblowing that DOJ's subpoena for Associated Press phone records and search warrant for a Fox News reporter's e-mails have had. We are also among many media outlets and organizations concerned about the lack of notification given by the agency before secretly obtaining these journalists' records.

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.

Las Vegas Tribune, Clark County Court to Patricia Doninger: YOU’RE FIRED, Rolando Larraz, June 19, 2013. The family court hearing master that allowed two court marshals to abuse, degrade and sexually assault a woman that was in court for a divorce matter was quietly fired last week. Patricia Doninger is no longer employed by Clark County Courts after an alleged investigation into the August 11 incident in her court, during which she turned her back on a disgusting situation to play with the victim’s underage daughter. Doninger heartlessly ignored the young mother’s plea for help while two Clark County Court Marshalls tortured, groped and viciously attacked the Hispanic woman that was in court for a routine divorce case. A court video of the incident was obtained by Las Vegas Tribune, and after reviewing it for several days, the newspaper was ready to begin a campaign to demand Hearing Master Patricia Doninger’s termination – but that is no longer necessary.

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 Live, Valerie Plame: Edward Snowden Deserves Thanks, 'Will Be Abused,' Clapper Should Resign (VIDEO), Danny Shea, June 19, 2013. Former CIA agent Valerie Plame said Wednesday that she views NSA leaker Edward Snowden as neither a hero nor a traitor, but that Americans should be grateful that he brought the conversation about liberty and security to the national forefront. "I don't think [Snowden's] a hero, I don't condone what he did. At the same time he's certainly not a traitor as he was called by Dick Cheney," Plame told HuffPost Live host Mike Sacks. "In a way, we as U.S. citizens owe Edward Snowden a thank you for having brought this issue to the forefront and so that we can begin to have a serious and genuine conversation about these issues." Plame also rolled her eyes at Cheney labeling Snowden a traitor, given the Bush administration's involvement in leaking her identity to columnist Robert Novak. "The irony of people like Dick Cheney or Karl Rove whining and bemoaning the fact of the leak of intelligence -- given my history and certainly Dick Cheney's intimate involvement with the betrayal of my CIA identity -- is really something," she said. Plame called for the resignation of Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, saying that "as a former intelligence officer" she finds it "astounding" that upwards of 60 to 70 percent of the United States' intelligence budget is spent on private contractors.

Bloomberg Law, Spitzer: Lanny Breuer at DOJ Was a 'Disaster', Lee Pacchia video, June 19, 2013. Eliot Spitzer, former Governor and Attorney General for the State of New York, talks with Bloomberg Law’s Lee Pacchia about the so-called revolving door between the public and private spheres. While he doesn’t think the entire concept requires regulatory change, he does feel particular examples have shown an enormous problem of individuals improperly internalizing defenses of the private sector when they go to work for the government. Spitzer feels the issue is more about a person’s capacity to change with their given roles. “Can people separate, emotionally and intellectually, one job from the past job…that’s a very hard thing to do,” he says. Asked whether the broad discrepancy in pay between private and public sector jobs is making the situation worse, Spitzer points to the non-monetary benefits of working in government. “[Government workers] are a lot happier…lawyers in the government tend to draw their joy and satisfaction not from their paycheck but from, theoretically, the existential joy of what they are doing”, he says.

War Is a Crime, 10 Problems with the Latest Excuse for War, David Swanson, June 19, June 2013. If you own a television or read a newspaper you've probably heard that we need another war because the Syrian government used chemical weapons. If you own a computer and know where to look you've probably heard that there isn't actually any evidence for that claim. Below are 10 reasons why this latest excuse for war is no good EVEN IF TRUE. 1. War is not made legal by such an excuse.  2. The United States itself possesses and uses internationally condemned weapons, including white phosphorus, napalm, cluster bombs, and depleted uranium....

June 18

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.

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. Their method didn't get through to the members of Congress who are saying, in the wake of the Snowden leak, that they had no idea what was going on. But they are nonetheless owed thanks. 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.

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.  
 
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.

Rolling Stone, Michael Hastings, 'Rolling Stone' Contributor, Dead at 33, Tim Dickinson, June 18, 2013. The bold journalist died in a car accident in Los Angeles. Michael Hastings, the fearless journalist whose reporting brought down the career of General Stanley McChrystal, has died in a car accident in Los Angeles, Rolling Stone has learned. He was 33. Hastings' unvarnished 2010 profile of McChrystal in the pages of Rolling Stone, "The Runaway General," captured the then-supreme commander of the U.S.-led war effort in Afghanistan openly mocking his civilian commanders in the White House. See also his two major articles: BuzzFeed, Exclusive: The Tragic Imprisonment Of John McTiernan, Hollywood Icon, Michael Hastings, May 24, 2013. The legendary director of Die Hard and The Hunt for Red October, John McTiernan, left, is serving a year in federal prison thanks to a Hollywood wannabe prosecutor, a remake of Rollerball, and a rogue private eye. In an exclusive interview, McTiernan’s wife Gail says, “I don’t know if he’s going to make it.”  Also, Buzzfeed, Why Democrats Love To Spy On Americans, Michael Hastings, June 7, 2013. Besides Senators Ron Wyden and Mark Udall, most Democrats abandoned their civil liberty positions during the age of Obama. With a new leak investigation looming, the Democrat leadership are now being forced to confront all the secrets they’ve tried to hide.

Guardian, Assange will not leave Ecuador embassy even if Sweden drops extradition bid, Esther Addley, June 18, 2013. WikiLeaks founder fears moves are under way by the US to prosecute him on espionage charges over cable releases. Julian Assange will not leave Ecuador's embassy even if Sweden drops its extradition bid over accusations of sexual assault, because he fears moves are already underway by the US to prosecute him on espionage charges, he has said. On the eve of the anniversary of his seeking asylum in the embassy in Knightsbridge, Assange said he believed a sealed indictment had already been lodged by a grand jury in Virginia, which could see him being arrested and extradited by Britain to the US to face prosecution over the WikiLeaks cable releases.

June 17

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Reuters via Huffington Post, U.S. Surveillance: China Asks Washington To Explain Monitoring Programmes, Staff report, June 17, 2013. China made its first substantive comments on Monday to reports of U.S. surveillance of the Internet, demanding that Washington explain its monitoring programmes to the international community. Several nations, including U.S. allies, have reacted angrily to revelations by an ex-CIA employee over a week ago that U.S. authorities had tapped the servers of internet companies for personal data. "We believe the United States should pay attention to the international community's concerns and demands and give the international community the necessary explanation," Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said at a daily briefing.

New York Times, Syria and Russia Warn West Against Aiding Rebels, Stephen Castle, June 17, 2013. The Syrian and Russian governments warned the West on Monday not to arm Syria’s insurgency or attempt to provide a no-fly zone to protect rebel-held areas of the country, as leaders of the Group of 8 industrialized nations, including Russia, were convening a summit meeting in which the Syrian conflict was expected to dominate discussions.

Reuters, U.S. says it will buy Russian helicopters for Afghan military, Charles Abbott, June 17, 2013. The Pentagon said on Monday it will spend $572 million to buy 30 Russian-built military helicopters that will be used by Afghan security forces. The Mi-17 helicopters will be used by Afghanistan's National Security Forces Special Mission Wing, which supports counter-terrorism, counter-narcotics and special operations missions. The contract with Rosoboronexport, the Russian arms company, covers spare parts, test equipment and engineering support. The Pentagon said the work would be performed in Russia. It is expected to be completed by the end of 2014. A year ago, the Defense Department purchased a dozen of the Mi-17 aircraft, right, from Rosoboronexport for $217.7 million, as part of a larger contract originating in 2011. Details: Reuters, Alabama firm may protest Russian helicopter deal, Andrea Shalal-Esa, Feb. 4, 2011. A small Alabama-based firm is gearing up to protest the Army's plan to hand an exclusive helicopter contract to a Russian government agency, saying it can do the job quicker and cheaper if it is allowed to compete. One of the Russian-made Mi-17 helicopters purchased by Alabama-based Defense Technology Inc (DTI) is seen at right in Ulan Ude, Russia.

Reuters, Angelina Jolie stunt double sues News Corp over hacking, Jennifer Saba, June 18, 2013. A stunt double for Oscar-winning actress Angelina Jolie has sued News Corp over allegations its British newspapers hacked her phone, the first lawsuit in the United States against the company since the scandal broke two years ago. The lawsuit, filed on June 13 by professional stunt double Eunice Huthart, said reporters from News Corp's tabloids The Sun and the defunct News of the World, hacked her mobile phone while she was working for Jolie on location in Los Angeles. The allegations include stories that ran in the tabloids about Jolie's budding relationship with actor Brad Pitt - when only a tight circle of people had knowledge of it - while they were filming the movie "Mr. & Mrs. Smith." A spokesman for News Corp declined to comment on the lawsuit.

June 16

Justice Integrity Project, Backgrounder on Obama's Big Data Domestic Spying System, Andrew Kreig, June 16, 2013. The Justice Integrity Project presents 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.

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.

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.

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.

Reuters, Putin says West arming Syrian rebels who eat human flesh, Khaled Yacoub Oweis and Alexei Anishchuk, June 16, 2013. Russian President Vladimir Putin, arriving in Britain ahead of an international summit set to be dominated by disagreement over the U.S. decision to send weapons to Syria's rebels, said the West must not arm fighters who eat human flesh.

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, left, 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.”

Huffington Post, Obama Will Speak On NSA In The Coming Days, Says Denis McDonough, Jennifer Bendery, June 15, 2013.President Barack Obama doesn't think the National Security Agency's collection of phone records violates customer privacy and he will defend that view in the coming days, White House chief of staff Denis McDonough said Sunday. During an interview on CBS's "Face the Nation," McDonough was asked if Obama had privacy concerns relating to the NSA's analysis of the phone metadata of millions of Americans. "He does not," said McDonough, emphasizing that all three branches of government play a role in overseeing the agency's surveillance programs. "The president is not saying, 'Trust me,'" he continued. "The president is saying, 'I want every member of Congress, on whose authority we are running this program, to be briefed on it, to come to the administration with questions and to also be accountable for it.'"

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.”

June 15

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, 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.

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, 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.

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.

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."

June 14

Atlantic, The Irrationality of Giving Up This Much Liberty to Fight Terror, Conor Friedersdorf, June 11, 2013. When confronted by far deadlier threats, Americans are much less willing to cede freedom and privacy. Of course we should dedicate significant resources and effort to stopping terrorism. But consider some hard facts. In 2001, the year when America suffered an unprecedented terrorist attack -- by far the biggest in its history -- roughly 3,000 people died from terrorism in the U.S. Let's put that in context. That same year in the United States: 71,372 died of diabetes. 29,573 were killed by guns. 13,290 were killed in drunk driving accidents. That's what things looked like at the all-time peak for deaths by terrorism.

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?"   

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.

Zero Hedge, Thousands Of Firms Trade Confidential Data With The US Government In Exchange For Classified Intelligence, Tyler Durden, June 14, 2013. The rabbit hole just got deeper. A whole lot deeper. On Sunday we predicated that "there's one reason why the administration, James Clapper and the NSA should just keep their mouths shut as the PRISM-gate fallout escalates: with every incremental attempt to refute some previously unknown facet of the US Big Brother state, a new piece of previously unleaked information from the same intelligence organization now scrambling for damage control, emerges and exposes the brand new narrative as yet another lie, forcing even more lies, more retribution against sources, more journalist persecution and so on." And like a hole that just gets deeper the more you dug and exposes ever more dirt, tonight's installment revealing one more facet of the conversion of a once great republic into a great fascist, "big brother" state, comes from Bloomberg which reports that "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."

FireDogLake, Udall and Wyden Question NSA Head’s Defense of Surveillance Programs, Jon Walker, June 14, 2013. It appears Director of National Intelligence General James Clapper may not be alone in misleading Congress during official testimony about NSA surveillance programs. Earlier this week the head of the NSA, Keith Alexander, testified that these programs help stop “dozens” of terrorist attack. Apparently, this might not be the most truthful answer. Sen. Mark Udall (D-CO) and Ron Wyden (D-OR) have seen no evidence to justify this claim.

Washington Post, Facebook, Microsoft release number of data requests from government, Cecilia Kang, June 14, 2013. Facebook and Microsoft for the first time on Friday said they had gotten data requests from the government under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, but they added that the U.S. government did not permit them to provide specific figures. Instead, the government allowed the companies to release only broad numbers with no breakdowns. Over the last six months of 2012, Facebook said, it had received as many as 10,000 requests from local, state and federal agencies, which impacted as many as 19,000 accounts. Facebook has 1.1 billion accounts worldwide. Microsoft said that it received between 6,000 and 7,000 similar requests, affecting as many as 32,000 accounts.
 
Washington Post, CBS confirms reporter’s computer was breached, Paul Farhi, June 14, 2013. The breaches, by an “unknown party,” appeared to be “sophisticated,” according to a statement Friday.

Washington Post, CIA preparing to deliver rebels arms through Turkey and Jordan, Greg Miller and Joby Warrick, June 14, 2013. The CIA is preparing to deliver arms to rebel groups in Syria through clandestine bases in Turkey and Jordan that were expanded over the past year in an effort to establish reliable supply routes into the country for nonlethal material, U.S. officials said. The bases are expected to begin conveying limited shipments of weapons and ammunition within weeks, officials said, serving as critical nodes for an escalation of U.S. involvement in a civil war that has lately seen a shift in momentum toward the forces of President Bashar al-Assad.

SANA (Syrian Arab News Agency), German Intelligence: 95 % of free army non-Syrian extremist groups, June 13, 2013. Germany's "Die Welt" daily said that only 5% of the armed terrorists in the so-called Free Army are Syrians, while 95% of them are extremist groups which came from several African countries to jihad in Syria baked by the Gulf and Arab countries. The daily quoted intelligence experts in Germany as saying: "The German intelligence has an official and detailed account of the nationalities of the rebels in Syria and their locations in the country."

Guardian, Al Gore: NSA's secret surveillance program 'not really the American way,' Suzanne Goldenberg, June 14, 2013. Former vice-president – not persuaded by argument that program was legal – urges Congress and Obama to amend the laws,  The National Security Agency's blanket collection of US citizens' phone records was "not really the American way", Al Gore said on Friday, declaring that he believed the practice to be unlawful. In his most expansive comments to date on the NSA revelations, the former vice-president was unsparing in his criticism of the surveillance apparatus, telling the Guardian security considerations should never overwhelm the basic rights of American citizens. He also urged Barack Obama and Congress to review and amend the laws under which the NSA operated. "I quite understand the viewpoint that many have expressed that they are fine with it and they just want to be safe but that is not really the American way," Gore said in a telephone interview. "Benjamin Franklin famously wrote that those who would give up essential liberty to try to gain some temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety."
 
June 13

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 Inc (GOOG). 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.

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 right, 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, he 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. n 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.

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.”

Wayne Madsen, CIA number two resigns hours before Obama announces decision to arm Syrian rebels, Wayne Madsen Report, June 14, 2013 (Subscription only). CIA deputy director Michael Morrell resigned from his post just hours before the Obama White House, through deputy national security adviser Ben Rhodes, announced that the Obama administration had decided to provide weapons to the Syrian Free Army and its allied groups. Obama's pretext for arming the Al Qaeda-linked guerrillas is that U.S. intelligence concluded, after months of saying there was insufficient proof, that Syria used chemical weapons to kill Syrian civilians.

AP via Washington Post, CIA deputy director retires; defended harsh interrogation techniques, CIA over Benghazi, Staff report, June 13, 2013. CIA Deputy Director Michael Morell, who defended harsh interrogation techniques and was involved with the fallout after the attack on the diplomatic outpost in Benghazi, Libya, announced his retirement Wednesday. When President Barack Obama named a successor to former CIA Director David Petraeus last January, Morell was passed over in favor of the White House counterterrorism adviser, John Brennan. Morell had been acting director since Petraeus’ resignation. He said he will leave his CIA post Aug. 9. Morell retired after 33 years at the CIA, including two stints as acting director and one as deputy director. Brennan said Morell, 54, will be replaced by Avril Haines, 43, the first woman to hold that position. Haines has been a White House deputy assistant and deputy counsel for national security affairs since 2010. Before that, she was assistant legal adviser for treaty affairs at the State Department, according to a White House statement.

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.
 
Washington Post, Syrian rebels: Help from U.S. could be too little, too late, Loveday Morris, June 13, 2013. Rebels call for shipments to include heavy weaponry, but the U.S. has not provided details on its assistance. Syrian rebels on Friday described the U.S. decision to provide them with arms as a “late step” and called for shipments to include heavy weaponry capable of tipping the balance of power on the battlefield. The United States has said it would be “responsive to the needs” of the increasingly desperate rebels, but has not given details of what assistance will include.

Above the Law, Horrifying Video Of Alleged Sexual Assault While Family Court Judge Literally Looks The Other Way, Elie Mystalm, June 13, 2013. A disturbing video is making its way around social media today. It’s a six-minute family court video from August 2011 of a woman who complains that a marshal sexually assaulted her in a back room. The woman becomes increasingly agitated as the marshal, who is in the courtroom, then arrests her for “making false allegations about a police officer,” all while the magistrate plays with the woman’s child, at least until the child begs the arresting officer to not take her momma away.

June 12

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.

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, 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.

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.

Reuters, Edward Snowden and the selective targeting of leaks, Jack Shafer, June 11, 2013. Edward Snowden’s expansive disclosures to the Guardian ] and the Washington Post  about various National Security Agency (NSA) surveillance programs have only two corollaries in contemporary history—the classified cache Bradley Manning allegedly released to WikiLeaks a few years ago and Daniel Ellsberg’s dissemination of the voluminous Pentagon Papers to the New York Times and other newspapers in 1971. Leakers like Snowden, Manning and Ellsberg don’t merely risk being called narcissists, traitors or mental cases for having liberated state secrets for public scrutiny. They absolutely guarantee it. In the last two days, the New York Times’s David Brooks, Politico’s Roger Simon, the Washington Post‘s Richard Cohen and others have vilified Snowden for revealing the government’s aggressive spying on its own citizens, calling him self-indulgent, a loser and a narcissist. Yet even as the insults pile up and the amateur psychoanalysis intensifies, keep in mind that Snowden’s leak has more in common with the standard Washington leak than should make the likes of Brooks, Simon and Cohen comfortable. Without defending Snowden for breaking his vow to safeguard secrets, he’s only done in the macro what the national security establishment does in the micro every day of the week to manage, manipulate and influence ongoing policy debates. Keeping the policy leak separate from the heretic leak is crucial to understanding how these stories play out in the press.

Washington Post, NSA director says dozens of attacks were stopped by surveillance programs, Ellen Nakashima and Jerry Markon, June 12, 2013. The head of the National Security Agency defended his agency’s broad electronic surveillance programs Wednesday, saying that they have helped thwart dozens of terrorist attacks and that their recent public disclosure has done “great harm” to the nation’s security. Facing his first public grilling since it was revealed that the NSA has secretly collected millions of telephone records as well as e-mails and other Internet data, Gen. Keith Alexander sought to aggressively rebut congressional and other criticism of the Obama administration’s anti-terrorism tactics. The South China Morning Post, which said it interviewed Snowden at an undisclosed location in Hong Kong, said he presented “unverified documents” describing an extensive U.S. campaign to obtain information from computers in Hong Kong and mainland China. “We hack network backbones — like huge Internet routers, basically — that give us access to the communications of hundreds of thousands of computers without having to hack every single one,” he told the newspaper. According to Snowden, the NSA has engaged in more than 61,000 hacking operations worldwide, including hundreds aimed at Chinese universities, businesses and public officials. Senior American officials have accused China of hacking into U.S. military and business computers. Snowden’s claims of extensive U.S. hacking of Chinese computers track assertions made repeatedly by senior Chinese government officials that they are victims of similar cyber-intrusions. Snowden’s assertions could not be verified, and U.S. officials did not respond to requests for comment.

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.

Philadelphia Inquirer/Philly.com, Snowden's secret resolves Catch-22, Editorial board, June 12, 2013. Fans of Joseph Heller's Catch-22 can't help but hear an echo of the novel's plot in the real-life drama playing out over the leak of information about massive U.S. government spying programs. The admitted whistle-blower, former National Security Agency contract worker Edward Snowden, apparently exposed the NSA's telephone and Internet data-gathering in an attempt to trigger a public debate about the extent to which our privacy has been compromised in the name of national security. Before Snowden's revelations, civil libertarians had been turned away because they couldn't prove to the courts' satisfaction that anyone's communications had been targeted illegally. Why? Because the government won't say whose phone or e-mail messages have been tapped. The legal impossibility of a challenge to NSA snooping was a classic "Catch-22," the term Heller coined to describe a problem whose very nature precludes a solution. But with Snowden's disclosures of specific phone carriers who were ensnared in the NSA's net, the American Civil Liberties Union and its allies -- now suing again -- are in a better position to make their case. Back to novel: One of Heller's central characters was Snowden, an airman who was mortally wounded by flak on a bombing run, and who was tended to by the novel's protagonist, Capt. John Yossarian. The encounter radically alters Yossarian's outlook on the war and life. And the parallels with the NSA leaker go beyond the name. Indeed, Edward Snowden's figuratively spilling his guts on domestic spying in the United States could fundamentally alter the wholesale surveillance born of the war on terrorism.

Gawker, Judge Ignores Pleas of Woman Arrested for Protesting Sexual Assault, Max Read, June 12, 2013. From the "Videos That Will Give You Nightmares" department: KLAS in Las Vegas has obtained tape of family court marshals illegally arresting a woman accusing one of them of sexual assault—as the presiding officer ignores her pleas for help or explanation.

June 11

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.

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.

At left is another view of 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 Utah Data Center is currently under construction and is expected to open in October 2013. Our 1.5 billion-dollar one million square-foot Bluffdale / Camp Williams facility will house a 100,000 sq-ft mission critical data center. The remaining 900,000 SF will be used for technical support and administrative space. Other supporting facilities include water treatment facilities, chiller plant, power substations, vehicle inspection facility, visitor control center, and sixty diesel-fueled emergency standby generators and fuel facility for a 3-day 100% power backup capability. We're using a Critical Path Method (CPM) schedule to track the cost and resource data for over 26,000 activities. The project initially required over a million cubic yards of earthwork and nearly seven miles of new roadways. The massive twenty-building complex is being completed in three phases. The first phase was completed last Fall and includes the first of four data halls.

Guardian, Edward Snowden's girlfriend Lindsay Mills: At the moment I feel alone, Mills's blog – in which she described life with her boyfriend on Hawaii – taken down after Snowden identified as source of leaks, Paul Lewis, June 10, 2013. The girlfriend of Edward Snowden, the whistleblower who leaked classified documents about US surveillance operations, has apparently blogged about the couple's life in Hawaii and her uncertainty about the future without her "man of mystery." Just a day after Snowden identified himself as the source of the leaks, Lindsay Mills, a 28-year-old performance artist, wrote: "I don't know what will happen from here. I don't know how to feel normal." She added: "My world has opened and closed all at once. Leaving me lost at sea without a compass … at the moment all I can feel is alone." The authenticity of the blog, which was seen by the Guardian before it was taken down on Tuesday, could not be verified. Snowden had previously told the Guardian his girlfriend was called Lindsay.

Scientific American Magazine, Former NSA Whistleblower Sheds Light on the Science of Surveillance, Dina Fine Maron, June  11, 2013. Q&A, Thomas Drake talks about surveillance algorithms and the outlook for the latest alleged whistleblower Edward Snowden, drawing from his own NSA prosecution.

Question: Director of National Intelligence James Clapper has said it's not realistic nor would he want to listen to everyone's communications, so what can be done with all these phone records that the NSA is collecting?

Thomas Drake: The distinction here is metadata versus content. It’s like when you get physical snail mail, it has a certain shape, weight and type of envelope, and an address and a return address and a stamp and usually a date and routing numbers. And it’s going to a particular mailbox at a particular address—that’s all metadata. The content is what it’s inside the envelope. In a digital space the metadata is always associated with content. The content would be the actual phone call—the conversation. The fact is the metadata is far more valuable to them because it gives them an index of everything. If they want to, the data is available and the capability exists to store it, then later they can access the content as well with a warrant. You can learn a tremendous amount about people by looking at the metadata…phone records include location information. At that level you can track them as well and know who they speak with, the time of day and all of that. By definition a phone number is always associated with somebody or some business—believe me, subscribers all have names. Think of the White Pages; the White Pages equal metadata. If I store that, that gives the government a phenomenal power in secret to track all kinds of information about a person without going to content.

Lawfare, Today’s [Snowden] Headlines and Commentary, Ritika Singh, June 11, 2013. Keith Bradsher of the New York Times reports that Hong Kong is likely to extradite Edward Snowden if asked to by the U.S. government. From the Department of You Really Can’t Make This Up: Russia has called Snowden a “human rights activist” and has said it would consider an asylum request from him. Julian Assange, meanwhile, has invaluable advice for Snowden: “I would strongly advise him to go to Latin America.” CNN has more. The Post tells us that a full-scale investigation has begun into how Snowden was able to gain access to the information he leaked. The Times also reports on how and why Snowden gave his media contacts the information he did. And Kim Zetter of Wired magazine explains why what Snowden did was the “ultimate insider attack.” The Los Angeles Times, however, reports that Snowden’s claims that “at any time [he could] target anyone, any selector, anywhere” are a huge overstatement of what the NSA can legally do.

Washington Post, Edward Snowden, Bradley Manning and the risk of the low-level, tech-savvy leaker, Greg Miller, June 11, 2013. In the span of three years, the United States has developed two gaping holes in its national security hull, punctures caused by leakers who worked at the lowest levels of the nation’s intelligence ranks but gained access to large caches of classified material. The parallels between Edward Snowden, who has declared himself the source of leaks on National Security Agency surveillance programs, and Bradley Manning, a U.S. Army private on trial for sending hundreds of thousands of secret files to the WikiLeaks Web site, go beyond generational ties. Who is Edward Snowden?: A 29-year-old government contractor who admitted that he was behind recent leaks of classified intelligence has vaulted from obscurity to international notoriety, joining the ranks of high-profile leakers such as Daniel Ellsberg of Pentagon Papers fame. Both enlisted in the Army during the war in Iraq only to later say they were disillusioned by that conflict. Neither has a college degree or extensive academic training in computer science. And yet both were technically savvy, able to navigate sensitive computer networks and smuggle classified files.

FireDogLake, Why Clapper’s Deception Destroys Obama’s Defense of Newly Revealed NSA Programs, Jon Walker, June 11, 2013. Not only are the prepared deceptive answers given by Director of National Intelligence General James Clapper in Congressional testimony potentially serious crimes, but the entire incident completely undermines President Obama defense of the newly revealed NSA domestic surveillance programs. When asked about revelations Obama defended both the legality and legitimacy of the programs by repeatedly claiming they were subject checks by the other branches of government. Obama’s entire case for why these programs are acceptable is based on the premise that Congress is fully briefed and has complete oversight. From Obama:

FireDogLake, Big Brother Is Watching — And So Are Lowly Bureaucrats and Contractors, Jon Walker, June 10, 2013.Many people are rightly focused on how the state as a whole could abuse the vast databases of information on regular Americans, but it should be noted that is not the only concern with such programs. Even if the “Government” acts in a mostly benign manner with this data, there is still the real danger of what rogue segments of a government agency or even individual contractors/bureaucrats could do. In his interview with Glenn Greenwald, Edward Snowden acknowledged that his position allowed him, and many others, the ability to access huge amounts of information about individuals. Snowden said he had “the authorities to wiretap anyone from you, or your accountant, to a federal judge, to even the President.”  This is a huge amount of power to put in the hands of individuals. On an individual level it could be abused to pursue personal vendettas, stalk old relationships, blackmail people in power, advance political goals, or illegally access information to be used for financial gain. The number of nefarious purposes this level of power could be used by a rogue individual or small group is almost beyond count. The same secrecy that hides the existence of these programs could make it easier for individuals to hide their abuses of it.

WhoWhatWhy, Why Obama Cannot Undo the Surveillance Society—But We Can, Russ Baker, June 11, 2013. Today, the New York Times, in a news/analysis article, essentially declared that there was no hope for any kind of restraint of growing government spying on the public. Not if it is up to the people’s representatives. The Times noted that secrecy rules will prevent robust and open discussion in Congress. It also pointed out that Republicans will mostly stay in line with their traditional allies in the intelligence services—and that Democrats will too, both because they will want to show they did the right thing in voting to authorize the Patriot Act and other relevant legislation, and because during this round, the leader is Obama, a Democrat. But that’s just the beginning of the difficulties in the way of achieving reform of our incipient surveillance state. What the Times and other media will not and perhaps cannot say, is this: not only is Congress impotent in these matters, but it wouldn’t even matter if the president himself chose to act. Here’s why. Presidents of both parties rarely deviate from a kind of “consensus” cobbled together by people in academia, media and government, a consensus that almost always serves the interests of a fairly small number of wealthy people and interests. (If you’ve never heard this notion, a visit to one of our remaining public libraries might be in order.) This is not a partisan issue. It doesn’t matter who is president. No “ordinary American who can dream of one day becoming president” is in a position to alter the basic equation, which would involve bucking the vast military-financial-industrial-academic complex that drives the American economy, funds our political elections and keeps people in line through any means necessary. That’s as true of Obama as it was of Kennedy or Nixon or…fill in the blank.

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. On Thursday, June 13 The Guardian's data editor James Ball will answer your questions about the NSA data collection program in the US from 3pm-4pm EST | 8pm-9pm BST. 

Washington Post, Tech companies urge U.S. to ease secrecy rules on national security probes, Craig Timberg and Cecilia Kang, June 11, 2013. Technology companies stung by the controversy over the National Security Agency’s sweeping Internet surveillance program are calling on U.S. officials to ease the secrecy surrounding national security investigations and lift long-standing gag orders covering the nature and extent of information collected about Internet users. The requests, made by Google, Facebook, Microsoft and Yahoo and echoed by a top official from Twitter, came as debate intensified over whether oversight of government spying programs grew too lax in the aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, when security concerns combined with soaring technological capabilities led to individuals being monitored on a vast new scale.

Washington Post, NSA revelations put Booz Allen Hamilton, Carlyle Group in uncomfortable limelight, Thomas Heath and Marjorie Censer, June 11, 2013. The Carlyle Group has spent years attempting to shed its image as a well-connected private equity firm leveraging Washington heavyweights in the defense sector. Instead, it nurtured a reputation as a financially sophisticated asset manager that buys and sells everything from railroads to oil refineries. The recent disclosures involving National Security Agency surveillance on U.S. citizens by an employee of Booz Allen Hamilton, a Virginia consulting firm that is majority owned by Carlyle, has thrust two of Washington’s most prominent corporate entities uncomfortably into the limelight, bound by the thread of turning government secrets into profits.

ABC News, Robert Redford Worried About President Obama’s ‘Courage of Conviction,’ Alisa Wiersema, June 10, 2013. Robert Redford had weather on his mind and urged President Obama to follow suit. In a collaborative campaign with the Natural Resources Defense Council, Redford challenged the president to strike at pollution and singled out coal-fired power plants as the root cause of the problem. “Four months ago, President Obama spoke of our obligation to combat climate change, saying failure to do so would betray our children and future generations,” Redford was quoted as saying in a news release. “I just hope he has the courage of his convictions.”

Washington Post, Snowden’s girlfriend — dancer, nature lover — said to be shocked by his actions, Carol D. Leonnig and Julie Tate,  June 11, 2013. Edward Snowden, the government contractor who leaked documents revealing a top-secret government surveillance program, was so cautious and distant that even his girlfriend of eight years referred to him as “my man of mystery.” For a 29-year-old who made his living in the digital world, Snowden has left remarkably few online traces. But as reclusive and private as he was, his longtime girlfriend, Lindsay Mills, 28, who moved with him to Hawaii last year, was outgoing and expressive. Writing in a blog that has vanished from public view, Mills, a native of Laurel, told of having to “kidnap” Snowden and “force a little adventure” on him to get him to join friends on a hike to a waterfall.

June 10

The NSA boasts legal compliance, as in its motto at left.

Huffington Post, Edward Snowden: Hero or Traitor?, Geoffrey R. Stone, June 10, 2013. Based on what I know from the media thus far, Snowden is neither a hero nor a traitor, but he is most certainly a criminal who deserves serious punishment. Snowden knowingly accepted a position of trust in his relation to the government. He did not have to accept his job, but he did. A clear condition of that job was his voluntary agreement not to disclose any classified information - that is, information the disclosure of which could reasonably endanger the security of the nation.

Pro Publica via Washington Spectator, 5 Basic Things We Still Do Not Know about NSA Snooping, Justin Elliott and Theodoric Meyer, June 10, 2013. Last week saw revelations that the FBI and the National Security Agency  have been collecting Americans' phone records en masse and that the agencies have access to data from nine tech companies. But secrecy around the programs has meant even basic questions are still unanswered. Here's what we still don't know:

  1. Has the NSA been collecting all Americans' phone records, and for how long?
  2. What surveillance powers does the government believe it has under the Patriot Act?
  3. Has the NSA's massive collection of metadata thwarted any terrorist attacks?
  4. How much information, and from whom, is the government sweeping up through Prism?
  5. So, how does Prism work?

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, left, 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?

Slate, Edward Snowden, the Man Behind the NSA Leaks, Farhad Manjoo, June 10, 2013. If the NSA Trusted Edward Snowden With Our Data, Why Should We Trust the NSA? Edward Snowden sounds like a thoughtful, patriotic young man, and I’m sure glad he blew the whistle on the NSA’s surveillance programs. But the more I learned about him this afternoon, the angrier I became. The NSA trusted its most sensitive documents to this guy? According to the Guardian, Snowden, shown at right in a Guardian photo,is a 29-year-old high-school dropout who trained for the Army Special Forces before an injury forced him to leave the military. His IT credentials are apparently limited to a few “computer” classes he took at a community college in order to get his high-school equivalency degree—courses that he did not complete. His first job at the NSA was as a security guard. Then, amazingly, he moved up the ranks of the United States’ national security infrastructure: The CIA gave him a job in IT security. He was given diplomatic cover in Geneva. He was hired by Booz Allen Hamilton, the government contractor, which paid him $200,000 a year to work on the NSA’s computer systems. The worst part about the NSA’s surveillance is not its massive reach. It’s that it operates entirely in secret, so that we have no way of assessing the sophistication of its operation. All we have is the word of our politicians, who tell us that they’ve vetted these systems and that we should blindly trust that the data are being competently safeguarded and aren’t vulnerable to abuse. Snowden’s leak is thus doubly damaging. The scandal isn’t just that the government is spying on us. It’s also that it’s giving guys like Snowden keys to the spying program. It suggests the worst combination of overreach and amateurishness, of power leveraged by incompetence.

Hill, Sen. Feinstein calls Snowden's NSA leaks an 'act of treason,' Jeremy Herb and Justin Sink, June 10, 2013. Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) on Monday said the 29-year-old man who leaked information about two national security programs is guilty of treason. Feinstein said that she doesn’t see National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden as a hero or a whistle blower.

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.

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.

Legal Schnauzer, Was The Fiery Death Of Journalist Michael Hastings Connected To Atlanta Security Firm Called Endgame? Roger Shuler, July 1, 2013. http://legalschnauzer.blogspot.com/2013/07/was-fiery-death-of-journalist-michael.html  At the time of his death in a fiery car crash on June 18, journalist Michael Hastings was working on a story about alleged Anonymous leader Barrett Brown. Currently under federal indictment on charges related to computer hacking, Brown is the journalist who first reported on a shadowy private security firm in Atlanta called Endgame.   The Web site freebarrettbrown.org reports that Hastings was planning to interview Brown in late June and had announced to his followers, "Get ready for your mind to be blown."  A Hastings/Brown interview almost certainly would have included questions about Brown's research on "black hat" private security firms that work with the official U.S. intelligence community. Some of these outfits also have powerful ties to corporate America via the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Primary among such firms is Endgame, which is based on the seventh floor of the former Biltmore Hotel building in Atlanta.

Business Insider, The Original NSA Whistleblower Says The Government Is Lying About Not Collecting Your Data, Paul Szoldra, June 10, 2013. It's hard to fathom many of the shocking claims from NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden of vast government surveillance — such as the notion that the agency constantly intercepts millions of phone calls and emails with the help of telecommunication companies. But when put into a broader context, with the inclusion of testimony from other leakers from the NSA, however, those claims sound much more believable. William Binney, a 32-year NSA veteran,  detailed a top-secret surveillance program called "Stellar Wind" in an Aug. 2012 video shot by Laura Poitras for The New York Times. "I can pull your entire life together from all those domains and map it out and show your entire life over time," Binney said in the interview. In a new interview with Binney on Jun. 7, the former codebreaker —  one of the best in NSA history — directly disputes Intelligence chief James Clapper, who told the Senate Intelligence Committee the NSA does not collect any type of data on millions of Americans.  From Libertas Institute: "WB: They’re eating crow right now. Those are lies. Those are just outright lies. Obviously they are, with that court order. They’re scooping up the metadata of everything, and the PRISM program is a scoop up of actual content. Emails, video, photographs, all of that—that’s content. So they’re collecting all of it, and it’s a big vacuum. So you know, those are just outright lies."

Huffington Post, PRISM Program: Obama Administration Held 22 Briefings For Congress On Key FISA Law, Sam Stein  June 10, 2013. The Obama administration officials held 22 separate briefings or meetings for members of Congress on the law that has been used to justify the National Security Agency's controversial email monitoring program, according to data provided by a senior administration official.  According to the official, the sessions that took place over the course of 14 months starting in October 2011 touched on Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) Amendments Act, which gives the attorney general and director of national intelligence the authority to gather intelligence on non-U.S. citizens for up to one year. Section 702 has been cited by Director of National Intelligence James Clapper as the legal basis for the NSA's PRISM program, which has allowed the government to track email communication data.

Washington Post, Investigators looking into how Snowden gained access at NSA, Peter Finn, Greg Miller and Ellen Nakashima, June 10, 2013. Counterintelligence investigators are scrutinizing how a 29-year-old contractor who said he leaked top-secret National Security Agency documents was able to gain access to what should be highly compartmentalized information, according to current and former administration and intelligence officials. Edward J. Snowden worked as a systems administrator at an NSA Threat Operations Center in Hawaii, one of several such facilities that are tasked with detecting threats to government computer systems. He has previously worked for the CIA, U.S. officials said. Snowden leaked documents to The Washington Post and Britain’s Guardian newspaper on distinctly different operations: the NSA’s collection of data from U.S. phone call records and its surveillance of online communications to and from foreign targets.

Washington Post, Surveillance controversy illuminated by history, Walter Pincus, June  10,  2013. The NSA was founded in 1952 but only publicly acknowledged years later, which explains its nickname “No Such Agency.”
A little history and a little law are needed in the wake of the current uproar over the re-discovery that the National Security Agency has been vacuuming up telephone records of Americans and e-mails, phone messages and other Web data related to suspected overseas terrorists.
Let’s start with a bit of history. Forty-three years ago, the staff director and counsel of a Senate Foreign Relations subcommittee, set up by then-Chairman J.W. Fulbright (D-Ark.), traveled the world gathering facts as part of an investigation of military involvement in U.S. foreign policy. They visited NSA listening posts in Europe and Asia and interviewed those who ran the facilities. They were surprised at the data being collected, not just overheard communications but also cables and intercepts from satellites. I know about these events firsthand because I was that staff director. In a classified annex of the subcommittee’s report, there were recommendations relating to the NSA.

Washington Post, Hong Kong hotel says Edward Snowden was there, but checked out Monday, Jia Lynn Yang, June 10, 2013. “Hong Kong is definitely not a safe harbor for him,” said Regina Ip, a current legislator and chair of the New People’s Party. Snowden’s fate lies in a 16-year-old treaty between the United States and Hong Kong that guarantees extraditions except under rare circumstances. The treaty says that Hong Kong can refuse to transfer a suspected criminal to the United States if giving up the person “implicates” the “defense, foreign affairs or essential public interest or policy” of the People’s Republic of China. The treaty with Hong Kong says that any request to extradite must originate from the U.S. Department of Justice, and would be channeled through the U.S. Consulate in Hong Kong.

Daily Caller, What Do They know about you? An interview with Former NSA analyst William Binney, Tim Cavanaugh, June 10, 2013.

Daily Caller: Can they retroactively put together the conversation we’re having right now? Suppose nobody from the government is taping this conversation right now. Is there any way they can go back and reconstruct it?

Binney: Well I think I’m on a target list, so anybody that my phone calls, they will be recorded. So yeah.

Daily Caller: Does this mean that my phone number is now going to be on a list?

Binney: You are now part of my community, so you can assume you are now going to be targeted, too.

Daily Caller: What did you make of the news over the last couple of days with Mr. Snowden coming forward?

Binney: Well obviously, I would have started out by trying to go different routes, like going to the intelligence committee, or the IG. I mean that didn’t do any good but that’s the route I took; I at least tried to do the right thing. So I’m not going to try to understand his motivation. I guess he was properly disturbed by the surveillance state we have, or the police state if you want to call it that. I wouldn’t have done it that way, but that’s the way he did it.

Daily Caller: But you said going through the proper channels didn’t do any good.

Binney: Yes, it didn’t do any good. I would still have done that to say I tried. And then, when it completely failed, then I might consider something radical.


Global News

CBS News, State Department memo reveals possible cover-ups, halted investigations, John Miller, June 10, 2013. CBS News has uncovered documents that show the State Department may have covered up allegations of illegal and inappropriate behavior within their ranks. The Diplomatic Security Service, or the DSS, is the State Department's security force, charged with protecting the secretary of state and U.S. ambassadors overseas and with investigating any cases of misconduct on the part of the 70,000 State Department employees worldwide. CBS News' John Miller reports that according to an internal State Department Inspector General's memo, several recent investigations were influenced, manipulated, or simply called off. The memo obtained by CBS News cited eight specific examples. Among them: allegations that a State Department security official in Beirut "engaged in sexual assaults" on foreign nationals hired as embassy guards and the charge and that members of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's security detail "engaged prostitutes while on official trips in foreign countries" -- a problem the report says was "endemic." The memo also reveals details about an "underground drug ring" was operating near the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad and supplied State Department security contractors with drugs.

Infowars.com, Bilderberg Secrecy Exposed During Parliamentary Debate, Paul Joseph Watson, June 10, 2013. The secrecy of the Bilderberg Group was blown wide open during a Parliamentary debate in the House of Commons today when MP Ken Clarke was forced to defend himself against potentially damaging evidence of a conflict of interest surrounding his role as a steering committee member of the clandestine organization. MP Michael Meacher asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne, an attendee to the confab, to make a statement regarding Bilderberg. However, the question was answered by Bilderberg steering committee member Ken Clarke, who was forced to embarrassingly claim he had “forgotten” that the organization’s meetings were paid for by funds raised by the Bilderberg Association. Despite acknowledging he had been on the steering committee for 10 years at the start of his response, Clarke later claimed he had “forgotten” that he was trustee of the British steering group and was now, “checking with the aid of my constituency secretary, whether I put that in.” Clarke’s failure to declare his his trusteeship of the body that funds the organization is a clear conflict of interest and is set to cause even more spotlight to be thrown on Bilderberg following an explosive live appearance by Alex Jones on the BBC. The majority of the House of Commons debate was a juvenile affair that gave Clarke and fellow Bilderberg member Ed Balls the opportunity to whitewash the organization as a mere talking shop, despite innumerable examples of Bilderberg setting the consensus for policy years in advance. See video MP's Discuss Bilderberg in the House of Commons (20 minutes).

Telegraph (United Kingdom), Bilderberg: Ken Clarke 'forgot' he was a trustee of funding group, Tim Ross, June 10, 2013. Kenneth Clarke has admitted that he may have failed fully to declare his role organising the secretive meetings of the Bilderberg Group of world leaders. The senior minister without portfolio is one of three trustees of the Bilderberg Association, the organisation that funded the conference last week. Mr Clarke told the Commons that he had “forgotten” that the controversial gatherings were paid for from funds raised by the group. He said he was checking his records to see whether he had informed civil servants of his role, as would be expected to avoid potential suggestions of a conflict of interest. Mr Clarke made the disclosure while answering questions over the “private” meeting of 140 of the world’s most powerful executives, politicians, ministers and advisers, which took place at a hotel near Watford last week. The minister, who has been a member of the Bilderberg Group steering committee for 10 years, attended the annual event, along with David Cameron, George Osborne, Ed Balls and Lord Mandelson.

Agonist, Aleppo, Istanbul, and London, Michael Collins, June 11, 2013. The war in Syria went from a seeming quagmire to a conflict that may reach a dramatic climax with the coming battle for Aleppo, a city of nearly three million people that was once the commercial center of the nation.  Political leaders and events in two other cities, Istanbul and London, will play a central role in the outcome of the battle. The Syrian Army finished off final rebel resistance in the city of Qusayr last week fighting alongside the Lebanese group Hezbollah.  As a result, the rebel supply line from Lebanon is shut down and the major road from Damascus to Aleppo via Qusayr is open. A victory by the Syrian military in Operation Northern Storm, its name for the Aleppo effort, will leave the rebels with very little in the way of major influence or meaningful territory.

June 9

Washington Post, From obscurity to notoriety, Snowden took an unusual path, Ellen Nakashima, June 9, 2013. Edward Snowden, the 29-year-old National Security Agency contractor who admitted that he was behind recent leaks of classified intelligence, has vaulted from obscurity to international notoriety, joining the ranks of high-profile leakers such as Daniel Ellsberg of Pentagon Papers fame, shown at left. The fact that Snowden stepped forward to acknowledge his leaks to The Washington Post and the Guardian newspapers rather than wait for the FBI to find him impressed others who have disclosed government secrets. “I consider it a magnificent act of civil disobedience,” said Thomas Drake, a former NSA official who was prosecuted for leaking classified information to a journalist but wound up serving no prison time after the government’s case fell apart. “He’s a whistleblower.” Ellsberg was similarly impressed. He said in an interview: “There’s no American official or former official that I admire more at this point. 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. . . . He’s clearly ready to give his life or his freedom for the interests of his country.”

Washington Post, Timeline of surveillance. Staff report, June 9, 2013. A timeline of surveillance in the United States from 2001 to 2013: from the Patriot Act to the PRISM program,

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 defence 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 organisations – 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."

Washington Post, Source of NSA leak reveals himself, Barton Gellman, Aaron Blake and Greg Miller, June 9, 2013. Edward Snowden, 29, says disclosing the top-secret information was right to do and is seeking asylum abroad.

Washington Post, The risk of outsourcing intelligence, Robert O’Harrow Jr., June 9, 2013. The unprecedented leak of National Security Agency secrets by an intelligence contractor, including bombshells about top-secret programs to collect telephone records, e-mail and other personal data, was probably an inevitable consequence of the massive growth of the U.S. security-industrial complex.

Washington Post, Edward Snowden says motive behind leaks was to expose ‘surveillance state,’ Barton Gellman and Jerry Markon,  June 9, 2013. Before the world knew his name, 29-year-old Edward Snowden drafted a note of explanation. He had worked for the CIA and as a contractor for the NSA, he wrote, and had lived a “comfortable and privileged life.” But he was also deeply uncomfortable with the knowledge that had already been afforded to him in his brief career — knowledge about the U.S. surveillance that officials said they were carrying out to keep America safe.

Washington Post, Wonkblog: Is he crazy to seek asylum? Has the US become the type of nation from which you have to seek asylum? Timothy B. Lee, June 9, 2013. The whistleblower who disclosed classified documents regarding NSA surveillance to The Washington Post and the Guardian has gone public. He is Edward Snowden, 29, an employee of defense contractor Booz Allen Hamilton. Rather than face charges in the United States, Snowden has fled to Hong Kong. He plans to seek asylum in a nation with a strong civil liberties record, such as Iceland. Americans are familiar with stories of dissidents fleeing repressive regimes such as those in China or Iran and seeking asylum in the United States. Snowden is in the opposite position. He’s an American leaving the land of his birth because he fears persecution. Four decades ago, Daniel Ellsberg surrendered to federal authorities to face charges of violating the Espionage Act. During his trial, he was allowed to go free on bail, giving him a chance to explain his actions to the media. His case was eventually thrown out after it was revealed that the government had wiretapped him illegally. Bradley Manning, a soldier who released classified documents to WikiLeaks in 2010, has had a very different experience. Manning was held for three years without trial, including 11 months when he was held in de facto solitary confinement. During some of this period, he was forced to sleep naked at night, allegedly as a way to prevent him from committing suicide. The United Nations’ special rapporteur on torture has condemned this as “cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment in violation of Article 16 of the convention against torture.” Ellsberg has argued that this degrading treatment alone should be grounds for dismissing the charges against Manning. Instead, the government has sought the harshest possible sentence. Even after Manning pleaded guilty to charges that could put him in prison for 20 years, the government has still pushed forward with additional charges, including “aiding the enemy” and violating the Espionage Act, that were intended to be used against

Politico, NSA leaker reveals self, has no apologies, Reid J. Epstein, June 9, 2013. The leaker is taking credit for exposing the NSA’s PRISM program. Snowden told the Guardian that he has gone to great lengths to maintain his digital privacy, going so far as to keep pillows under his door frame to interfere with listening devices and maintain a hood over his computer when entering passwords to block any hidden cameras. “I understand that I will be made to suffer for my actions,” he told the paper. “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.” Snowden, according to the Guardian, copied a series of NSA documents from a Hawaii office where he worked until late May, when he requested According to the Guardian, Snowden was raised in North Carolina and suburban Maryland. The paper reported that he never completed high school, yet was able to enter a U.S. Army Special Forces training program in order to fight in the Iraq war. The paper said he later received a GED. The Guardian reported that Snowden was discharged from the Army after breaking his legs in a training accident. Then, the paper said, he joined the NSA where it reported his “understanding of the internet and his talent for computer programming enabled him to rise fairly quickly for someone who lacked even a high school diploma.

Time, Four Things to Know About Surveillance Leaker Edward Snowden, Zeke J Miller, June 9, 2013.Edward Snowden, the 29-year-old defense contractor who leaked classified documents on U.S. government surveillance programs, revealed himself Sunday afternoon in interviews with the Guardian and the Washington Post. Snowden, an employee of Booz Allen Hamilton for the past three months, moved to a Hong Kong hotel on May 20, after accessing a trove of classified information from a government office in Hawaii with the intent to reveal information on the controversial classified programs, the Guardian reported. Last week the British paper revealed details on two classified programs — one pertaining to the seizure of all telephone metadata in the U.S. and another dealing with an effort to monitor Internet activities overseas using the resources of American technology firms. The Post revealed information about the second program, called PRISM. Both papers confirmed that Snowden passed them the information.

Huffington Post, Glenn Greenwald On 'This Week': 'You Should' Expect More Revelations From Me, Rebecca Shapiro, June 9, 2013. The Guardian's Glenn Greenwald appeared on ABC's "This Week" on Sunday and told host George Stephanopoulos that the public should expect more revelations from him. Last week, Greenwald broke the bombshell story about the NSA collecting phone data from millions of Verizon customers. Additional stories on major government surveillance programs followed, including news about the NSA program called Prism that allows officials to collect material from some of the country's largest Internet companies (including AOL, HuffPost's parent company). On Sunday, Greenwald published another story about an NSA datamining tool used for global surveillance called Boundless Informant.  "Should we be expecting more revelations from you?" Stephanopoulos asked Greenwald. "You should," he said.

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."  "I'm going to be seeing if I can challenge this at the Supreme Court level," Paul said 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." 

Lawfare, The Washington Post on Prism, Paul Rosenzweig, June 9, 2013. I had some hesitancy writing this blog since so many of the writers at the Post are acquaintances. But it really must be said. By now, readers are familiar with the Post’s story on the NSA Prism program from last week. It turns out that the story is wrong — wrong on the facts and wrong on the technology. That’s not my conclusion — that’s the conclusion of the inestimable Declan McCullagh of CNET. His conclusion is notable precisely because McCullagh is never thought of as a government apologist. Quite to the contrary he is a frequent, but fair, critic. 

LDS Freedom Forum, Alex Jones Storms BBC, Confronts Bilderberg Member, Radio host takes over live broadcast, Paul Joseph Watson, June 9, 2013. Alex Jones confronted Bilderberg member and UK Shadow Chancellor Ed Balls shortly before a live BBC broadcast on which Jones was a guest, before Balls was ambushed again in the corridor about breaking the ministerial code by taking part in a secret lobbying meeting. Bilderberg steering committee member and MP Ken Clarke was forced to address the issue during the BBC Sunday Politics show. Treasury official Balls sidestepped the question about breaking the ministerial code, which states that MP’s cannot attend private meetings without disclosing details to the public, by claiming that he was not a minister – an overt lie because Balls swore an oath to uphold that very code when he became a Member of Parliament in 2005. Balls attended Bilderberg meetings before he became Shadow Chancellor. Officials are also supposed to have a secretary on hand making minutes, which is not the case at Bilderberg. Just like the NSA wiretapping issue and innumerable other scandals, illegal activity is being conducted in plain sight at Bilderberg when British officials like Balls and Prime Minister David Cameron attend Bilderberg with no public disclosure.

June 8

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. The project was legal, not aimed at U.S. citizens and had thwarted threats against the country, he said. "Over the last week we have seen reckless disclosures of intelligence community measures used to keep Americans safe," Clapper said in a statement. He said the surveillance activities reported in the Washington Post and Britain's Guardian newspaper were lawful and conducted under authorities approved by Congress. "Significant misimpressions" have resulted from recent articles, he said.

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.   

Ed Bott Report via ZD Net, The real story in the NSA scandal is the collapse of journalism, Ed Bott, June 8, 2013. Summary: A bombshell story published in the Washington Post this week alleged that the NSA had enlisted nine tech giants, including Microsoft, Google, Facebook, and Apple, in a massive program of online spying. Now the story is unraveling, and the Post has quietly changed key details. What went wrong? One day later, with no acknowledgment except for a change in the timestamp, the Post revised the story, backing down from sensational claims it made originally. But the damage was already done.

Washington Post, U.S., company officials: Internet surveillance does not indiscriminately mine data, Robert O’Harrow Jr., Ellen Nakashima and Barton Gellman, June 8, 2013. The director of national intelligence on Saturday stepped up his public defense of a top-secret government data surveillance program as technology companies began privately explaining the mechanics of its use. The program, code-named PRISM, has enabled national security officials to collect e-mail, videos, documents and other material from at least nine U.S. companies over six years, including Google, Microsoft and Apple, according to documents obtained by the Washington Post.  The disclosures about PRISM have renewed a national debate about the surveillance systems that sprang up after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, how broad those systems might be and the extent of their reach into American lives.

CNET, No evidence of NSA's 'direct access' to tech companies, Sources challenge reports alleging National Security Agency is "tapping directly into the central servers." Instead, they say, the spy agency is obtaining orders under process created by Congress, Declan McCullagh, Updated June 8, 2013. In response to outcry over PRISM, the U.S. Director of National Intelligence has released some details. Among other things, he says the government "does not unilaterally obtain information from the servers of U.S. electronic communication service providers" and that PRISM-related activities are conducted "under court supervision." The National Security Agency has not obtained direct access to the systems of Apple, Google, Facebook, and other major Internet companies, CNET has learned. Recent reports in The Washington Post and The Guardian claimed a classified program called PRISM grants "intelligence services direct access to the companies' servers" and that "from inside a company's data stream the NSA is capable of pulling out anything it likes." Those reports are incorrect and appear to be based on a misreading of a leaked Powerpoint document, according to a former government official who is intimately familiar with this process of data acquisition and spoke today on condition of anonymity.

Washington Post, Vast surveillance programs renew debate about oversight, Robert Barnes, Timothy B. Lee and Ellen Nakashima, June 8, 2013. The disclosure of vast government surveillance programs has renewed the debate about whether the kind of transparent oversight that Americans expect from their government can work if it might compromise efforts to keep them safe from terrorism. President Obama and his national security leaders have asserted that vigorous oversight of government surveillance of phone calls and Internet data exists and denounced media reports that brought the programs to public attention. Can the kind of transparent oversight Americans expect from their government work if it might compromise efforts to keep them safe from terrorism?

Fox News via YouTube, June 8, 2013. Fox News host Neil Cavuto and Democratic strategist Julian Epstein erupted at each other on Saturday morning, when Cavuto demanded Epstein see the NSA subpoena as part of a larger pattern of oppressive behavior on the part of the Obama administration. "You see one incident after another that comes up," Cavuto said. "It all comes back to the same basic issue: privacy invaded or potentially invaded. Institutions of all sorts doing the same thing. There is a pattern." "If you want to conflate and combine the issues and make the general statements you can do that," Epstein said. "I don't think it's a thoughtful way to approach it." Cavuto, who had been winding up the whole hour, lost it. "Think about what I said!" Cavuto screamed. "Julian! Don't play the politics thing. I'm telling you, drop the liberal thing and focus on the reality thing. You have one entity after another going after American people. You have one system of government, one agency, one department after another essentially doing the same thing. You can call that conflating. I am telling you there is a pattern." "You can't conflate all these issues," Epstein said, causing Cavuto to wag his head in disbelief. "You have to speak about them differently. In the case of the IRS, I agree the targeting is wrong, but there was never any connection to the White House. Nobody has proven that."

Consortium News, Second Thoughts on October Surprise, Robert Parry, June 8, 2013. Former Rep. Lee Hamilton, who oversaw two congressional investigations into Ronald Reagan's secret dealings with Iran, says a key piece of evidence was withheld that could have altered his conclusion clearing Reagan's 1980 campaign of allegations that it sabotaged President Jimmy Carter's hostage negotiations with Iran. In a phone interview on Thursday, the Indiana Democrat responded to a document that I had e-mailed him revealing that in 1991 a deputy White House counsel working for then-President George H.W. Bush was notified by the State Department that Reagan's campaign director William Casey had taken a trip to Madrid in relation to the so-called October Surprise issue.

Fox News / Lawfare, The NSA’s phone collection order -- it may be legal, but is it wise? Paul Rosenzweig, June 6, 2013. The revelation that the National Security Agency (NSA) has secured a court order directing Verizon to provide it with call data has sparked controversy. And, rightly so. If the order is genuine (and nobody has denied that it is), it reflects a significant expansion of America’s surveillance apparatus – one that should at a minimum be closely examined. First, some details. The order applies only to “meta-data” of calls: the phone numbers called, the location of the cell phone when the call was made, and the time and duration of the call. So the order does not require Verizon to let the NSA monitor the conversations or other content of the calls. Also, the order applies both to international calls and to calls occurring wholly within the United States. Verizon is required to update its compliance “on a daily basis.” Finally, though the order disclosed Wednesday applies only to Verizon, the logic of the request supports an inference that similar orders have been issued to other major telecommunications carriers like ATT & Sprint. Whatever its legality, the entire NSA order is remarkably overbroad and quite likely unwise. n short, the order appears to give NSA blanket access to the records of Verizon customers' phone calls –foreign and domestic—made between April 25, when the order was signed, and July 19, when it expires. Of course, if the order is only the latest in a series of orders (as also seems likely), then the access may go back for quite some time. Meta-data are not currently protected under the Fourth Amendment, and the large-scale collection of that meta-data remains lawful. On the other hand, it is uncertain how the NSA was allowed to collect information on U.S. citizens within the United States. Historically, both law and policy have limited the NSA to collecting signals intelligence only when it involves foreigners. Presumably there is some underlying procedural or legal limitation that insures that the NSA’s actions conform to law – but to date we don’t know what that is. Finally, whatever its legality, the entire order is remarkably overbroad and quite likely unwise.

Boston Globe, Police response training planned, but bombs hit first, Maria Cramer, June 8, 2013. The scenario had been carefully planned: A terrorist group prepared to hurt vast numbers of people around Boston would leave backpacks filled with explosives at Faneuil Hall, the Seaport District, and in other towns, spreading waves of panic and fear. Detectives would have to catch the culprits. Months of painstaking planning had gone into the exercise, dubbed “Operation Urban Shield,” meant to train dozens of detectives in the Greater Boston area to work together to thwart a terrorist threat. The hypothetical terrorist group was even given a name: Free America Citizens, a home-grown cadre of militiamen whose logo would be a metal skull wearing an Uncle Sam hat and a furious expression, according to a copy of the plans obtained by the Boston Globe. But two months before the training exercise was to take place, the city was hit with a real terrorist attack executed in a frighteningly similar fashion. The chaos of the Boston Marathon bombings disrupted plans for the exercise, initially scheduled for this weekend, forcing police to postpone. Now officials must retool aspects of the training.

June 7

An NSA chart shows its official procedures.

New York Times, Congress Can Stop Privacy Abuse, Editorial Board, June 7, 2013. Most members of Congress, it turns out, had received the usual bland assurances from counterterrorism officials that the authority granted to the government under the Patriot Act and related laws were absolutely necessary to prevent an attack on the United States, and that domestic spying activities must remain top secret. Proposals to bring greater transparency to these activities, or to limit their scope, were vigorously opposed by the Obama administration. (The Justice Department argued in a court filing in April that there must be no public disclosure of the extent of domestic data collection.) Except for a few leaders and members of the intelligence committees, most lawmakers did not know the government was collecting records on almost every phone call made in the United States or was able to collect anyone’s e-mail messages and Internet chats. And most important, since the public did not know about the extent of the surveillance, it was in no position to bring popular pressure against elected representatives.

National Security Agency (NSA) Director Keith Alexander is shown below 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.

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.” 

Tech Dirt, President Obama 'Welcomes' The Debate On Surveillance That He's Avoided For Years Until It Was Forced Upon Him, Mike Masick, June 7, 2013. President Obama's incredibly weak response to the revelations this week of widespread data collection of pretty much everything by the NSA is to say that he "welcomes" the debate. But, of course, he hasn't actually welcomed the debate at all, because people have tried to bring that debate to him for years, and he's brushed them off.

New York Times, Tech Companies Concede to Surveillance Program, Claire Cain Miller, June 7, 2013. When government officials came to Silicon Valley to demand easier ways for the world’s largest Internet companies to turn over user data as part of a secret surveillance program, the companies bristled. In the end, though, many cooperated at least a bit. While handing over data in response to a legitimate FISA request is a legal requirement, making it easier for the government to get the information is not, which is why Twitter could decline to do so. Details on the discussions help explain the disparity between initial descriptions of the government program and the companies’ responses. Instead of adding a back door to their servers, the companies were essentially asked to erect a locked mailbox and give the government the key, people briefed on the negotiations said. Facebook, for instance, built such a system for requesting and sharing the information, they said. The data shared in these ways, the people said, is shared after company lawyers have reviewed the FISA request according to company practice. It is not sent automatically or in bulk, and the government does not have full access to company servers. Instead, they said, it is a more secure and efficient way to hand over the data. Tech companies might have also denied knowledge of the full scope of cooperation with national security officials because employees whose job it is to comply with FISA requests are not allowed to discuss the details even with others at the company, and in some cases have national security clearance, according to both a former senior government official and a lawyer representing a technology company.

Center for Public Integrity, Secret court judge attended expenses-paid terrorism seminar; Lecturers included advocate for strong executive powers, Chris Youngemail, June 7, 2013. U.S. District Judge Roger Vinson, who signed an order requiring Verizon to give the National Security Agency telephone records for tens of millions of American customers, attended an expense-paid judicial seminar sponsored by a libertarian think tank that featured lectures from a vocal proponent of executive branch powers. Vinson, whose term on the secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court began in 2006 and expired last month, was the only member of the special court to attend the August 2008 conference sponsored by the Foundation for Research on Economics & the Environment, according to disclosure records filed by the federal judge. The Center for Public Integrity collected the disclosure records as part of an investigative report that revealed how large corporations and conservative foundations routinely sponsor ideologically driven educational conferences for state and federal judges. Eric Posner, a University of Chicago law professor who delivered two lectures, argued in a 2007 book he co-wrote — Terror in the Balance: Security, Liberty, and the Courts — that “the executive branch, not Congress or the judicial branch, should make the tradeoff between security and liberty.”

Huffington Post, What Is PalTalk? Video Chat Service Among Facebook, Google And Other Big Names Being Spied On, Alexis Kleinman, June 7, 2013. Late Thursday, major reports from The Washington Post and The Guardian revealed that the U.S. government is collecting data from nine of the biggest Internet companies in the country. The list of firms is composed of nearly all household names -- Microsoft, Yahoo, Google, Facebook, AOL, Skype, YouTube and Apple -- in addition to one lesser-known company: PalTalk. The Jericho, N.Y.-based company calls itself the "largest online video chat room community." Of the other firms associated with the National Security Agency's so-called PRISM program, PalTalk sound most similar to Microsoft-owned Skype. Started in 1998, the site's features include video chat rooms and free group video calling for up to 10 users at a time on both desktop and mobile. Users can also pay for more features. The company was founded by Jason Katz. But with 4 million members, according to its website, Paltalk has a significantly smaller userbase than the other companies on the NSA's list. So what makes this small video chat service interesting to the U.S. government? PalTalk was allegedly used a good deal during the "Arab Spring," the series of protests across the Middle East and North Africa that began at the beginning of 2011.
 
Business Insider, PRISM Is Also The Name Of A Product From Palantir, A $5 Billion Tech Startup Funded By The CIA, Nicholas Carlson, June 7, 2013. Update: Palantir says there is no connection between its product, Prism, and the NSA's top secret program, PRISM. According to documents obtained by the Post, PRISM allows the NSA to tap directly into the central servers of 9 big Internet companies: Microsoft, Yahoo, Google, Facebook, PalTalk, AOL, Skype, YouTube, Apple. A source told the Post that with PRISM, the NSA can "quite literally can watch your ideas form as you type." To be able to do that, the NSA would need some seriously impressive "big data" tools to analyze the terabytes of messages, videos, images, and metadata streaming through. One company that would be able to provide such tools is Silicon Valley tech firm called Palantir. Not a lot is known about Palantir, a private company that does not say much about who it works with. On its company website, Palantir says it offers "a suite of software applications for integrating, visualizing and analyzing the world's information."

Wayne Madsen Report, Update 1x. A wilderness of PRISMs, Wayne Madsen, June 8, 2013 (Subscription required). Palantir Technologies, Inc. received start-up finds from the CIA's IN-Q-TEL venture capital firm that expects to see a return on its investments in companies coming up with ways to better spy on Americans. Palantir now denies that its PRISM system, a powerful Internet scanning tool, is related to the National Security Agency's PRISM data mining tool that collects meta-data from Microsoft, Yahoo, Google, Facebook, PalTalk, AOL, Skype, YouTube and Apple.

Tech Crunch, Despite Naming Coincidence, Palantir Says It’s Not Part Of PRISM Program, Alexia Tsotsis, June 7, 2013. It’s dumb to postulate that, because big data and security startup Palantir has a similarly named product to PRISM, that it’s somehow culpable. And, in an emailed statement to the Financial Times’ Tim Bradshaw, Palantir has now refuted that exact claim. “Palantir’s Prism platform is completely unrelated to any US government program of the same name. Prism is Palantir’s name for a data integration technology used in the Palantir Metropolis platform (formerly branded as Palantir Finance). This software has been licensed to banks and hedge funds for quantitative analysis and research.” The startup explains that the Prism software in question is for banks, not for government — though it does count the NSA as a client for other products. YCombinator partnet Garry Tan has backed up this statement, revealing that he helped build the team and code Palantir Prism née Palantir Finance in 2006.

Buzzfeed, Why Democrats Love To Spy On Americans, Michael Hastings, June 7, 2013. Besides Senators Ron Wyden and Mark Udall, most Democrats abandoned their civil liberty positions during the age of Obama. With a new leak investigation looming, the Democrat leadership are now being forced to confront all the secrets they’ve tried to hide. Jacob Appplebaum, a transparency activist and computer savant, has been repeatedly harassed at American borders, having his laptop seized. Barrett Brown, another investigative journalist who has written for Vanity Fair, among others publications, exposed the connections between the private contracting firm HB Gary (a government contracting firm that, incidentally, proposed a plan to spy on and ruin the reputation of the Guardian’s Greenwald) and who is currently sitting in a Texas prison on trumped up FBI charges regarding his legitimate reportorial inquiry into the political collective known sometimes as Anonymous. That’s not to mention former NSA official Thomas Drake (the Feds tried to destroys his life because he blew the whistle ); Fox News reporter James Rosen (named a “co-conspirator” by Holder’s DOJ); John Kirakou, formerly in the CIA, who raised concerns about the agency’s torture program, is also in prison for leaking “harmful” (read: embarrassing) classified info; and of course Wikileaks (under U.S. financial embargo); WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange (locked up in Ecuador’s London embassy) and, of course, Bradley Manning, the young, idealistic, soldier who provided the public with perhaps the most critical trove of government documents ever released. The attitude the Obama administration has toward Manning is revealing. What do they think of him? “Fxxx Bradely Manning,” as one White House official put it to me.

Huffington Post, Mark Zuckerberg, Larry Page Slam 'Outrageous' PRISM Reports, Dino Grandoni, June 7, 2013. The leaders of the country's largest technology companies are apparently taking personally allegations that they are cooperating in a covert program that funnels users' information to the government. Mark Zuckerberg and Larry Page, the chief executive officiers of Facebook and Google, respectively, each issued strongly worded statements late Friday, denying any involvement in the so-called PRISM program. "I want to respond personally to the outrageous press reports about PRISM," Zuckerberg wrote in a public Facebook message that was liked 69,000 times in the 21 minutes after it was posted. "Facebook is not and has never been part of any program to give the US or any other government direct access to our servers." Page similarly pushed back in a blog post cosigned by Google's chief lawyer, David Drummond, titled "What the...?" The original version of the Post's story suggested the firms were voluntarily giving the government direct access to their servers -- a claim the paper later seemed to hedge. Zuckerberg and Page said they hand over information to authorities only when legally compelled to do so. Page cited Google's frequently issued transparency reports, which detail the volume of data requests from governments around the world, as evidence of Google's commitment to user privacy. Such unambiguous denials are rare for corporations. Compare the tech companies' response to that of Verizon, which refused to acknowledge its cooperation with the NSA even to its own employees in a leaked internal memo.

Institute for Political Economy, Another Phony Jobs Report From A Government That Lies About Everything, Paul Craig Roberts, June 7, 2013. The payroll jobs report for May released today continues the fantasy. Goods producing jobs declined, with manufacturing losing another 4,000 jobs, but the New Economy produced 179,000 service jobs.

AP via Huffington Post, Bilderberg 2013: Secretive Meeting Of Western Power Brokers Begins Near London, Jill Lawless, June 7, 2013. It's a busy weekend at the luxury Grove Hotel, favored haunt of British soccer players and their glitz-loving spouses. More than 100 of the world's most powerful people are at the former manor house near London for a secretive annual gathering that has attained legendary status in the eyes of anti-capitalist protesters and conspiracy theorists. The guest list for the Bilderberg meeting includes Google executive chairman Eric Schmidt, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, International Monetary Fund chief Christine Lagarde and former U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger. British Prime Minister David Cameron is due to drop by Friday. The Bilderberg Group was set up in 1954 to support military and economic co-operation between Europe and North America during the Cold War. Named for the site of its first meeting – the Bilderberg Hotel in Oosterbeek, Holland – the forum for prominent politicians, thinkers and business leaders has been held annually at a series of secluded venues in Europe and North America.

June 6

Washington Post, Documents: U.S. intelligence mining data from nine U.S. Internet companies in broad secret program, Barton Gellman and Laura Poitras, June 6, 2013. The National Security Agency and the FBI are tapping directly into the central servers of nine leading U.S. Internet companies, extracting audio and video chats, photographs, e-mails, documents, and connection logs that enable analysts to track one target or trace a whole network of associates, according to a top-secret document obtained by the Washington Post. The program, code-named PRISM, has not been made public until now. It may be the first of its kind. The NSA prides itself on stealing secrets and breaking codes, and it is accustomed to corporate partnerships that help it divert data traffic or sidestep barriers. But there has never been a Google or Facebook before, and it is unlikely that there are richer troves of valuable intelligence than the ones in Silicon Valley. Equally unusual is the way the NSA extracts what it wants, according to the document: “Collection directly from the servers of these U.S. Service Providers: Microsoft, Yahoo, Google, Facebook, PalTalk, AOL, Skype, YouTube, Apple.”

Huffington Post, Dianne Feinstein Says NSA Phone Records Surveillance Has Thwarted Terrorism, 'But That's Classified,' Matt Sledge, June 6, 2013. Senate Intelligence Chair Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) said Thursday the National Security Agency program collecting domestic phone records has prevented terrorism. But she and other senators briefed on the program refused to delve into details about how it is used. Feinstein, right, spoke to reporters after the Intelligence Committee held a "highly classified" briefing on the vast NSA program, which Feinstein said had been put together "quickly" after The Guardian's report on its existence.

Dianne Feinstein

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.”

Fox, IG report says Panetta disclosed sensitive info on bin Laden raid, rep decries 'hypocrisy' June 6, 2013. A top House Republican is accusing the Obama administration of “hypocrisy” after a draft watchdog report claimed former Defense Secretary Leon Panetta disclosed sensitive information on the Usama bin Laden raid to a Hollywood filmmaker -- even as the Justice Department aggressively pursued other security leaks.  Rep. Peter King, R-NY, sharply criticized the White House for letting the Panetta disclosure slide. "There is definitely a hypocrisy here," King fumed. "The administration is cracking down on every leak. But here, they themselves are orchestrating leaks. But here you have the White House cooperating with Hollywood. And as a result of that, we have security breaches."  

AP via Huffington Post, NSA PRISM Program: Is Big Data Turning Government Into 'Big Brother?'  Michael Liedtke, June 7, 2013. With every phone call they make and every Web excursion they take, people are leaving a digital trail of revealing data that can be tracked by profit-seeking companies and terrorist-hunting government officials. The revelations that the National Security Agency is perusing millions of U.S. customer phone records at Verizon Communications and snooping on the digital communications stored by nine major Internet services illustrate how aggressively personal data is being collected and analyzed. Verizon is handing over so-called metadata, excerpts from millions of U.S. customer records, to the NSA under an order issued by the secretive Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, according to a report in the British newspaper The Guardian. The report was confirmed Thursday by Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., who chairs the Senate Intelligence Committee.

Washington Post, Romney mixes business and politics at exclusive Utah conference, Jason Horowitz, June 7, 2013. John Schoenfeld came to an exclusive resort here to do business with Mitt Romney. The concentration of wealthy Romney backers in one place is a natural draw for politicians with national ambitions. The retreat highlights the enduring flaws that helped sink Romney’s candidacy. His ideas conference, much like his campaign, had no specific agenda and would define itself over time, aides said. The off-the-record sessions, the cigar rooms and the vanilla homogeneity of the exclusive event evoked the elitism of his disastrous speech to donors about the “47 percent.”  And Romney hasn’t exactly loosened up. When the former GOP nominee suddenly appeared in the lounge on the way to the kick-off festivities, he responded to a question about his ambitions for the conference by grabbing his wife’s hand and scampering out the door.

Washington Post, Does Verizon records case mean an end to privacy? Eugene Robinson, June 6, 2013. Someday, a young girl will look up into her father’s eyes and ask, “Daddy, what was privacy?” The father probably won’t recall. I fear we’ve already forgotten that there was a time when a U.S. citizen’s telephone calls were nobody else’s business. A time when people would have been shocked and angered to learn that the government was compiling a detailed log of ostensibly private calls made and received by millions of Americans. The Guardian got its scoop by obtaining a secret order signed by U.S. District Judge Roger Vinson of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court. Since we know so little about this shadowy court’s proceedings and rulings, it’s hard to put the Verizon order in context. The instructions to Verizon about what information it must provide take up just one paragraph, with almost no detail or elaboration. The tone suggests a communication between parties who both know the drill. Indeed, Senate intelligence committee Chairman Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) said the order obtained by the Guardian was nothing more than a “three-month renewal of what has been in place for the past seven years.”

Washington Post, The FCC should repeal its newspaper-broadcast ownership rule, Reed Hundt, June 6, 2013. Reed Hundt was chairman of the Federal Communications Commission from 1993 to 1997.  A widespread though unverified rumor had it that President Bill Clinton did not want the newspaper-broadcast ownership rule repealed as part of the 1996 Telecommunications Act because he did not want the owner of the Little Rock newspaper to be the same person who owned the dominant Little Rock television station. Fritz Hollings, then chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee, did not want the Federal Communications Commission to repeal the rule for the same reason, transposed to the media of South Carolina. But if I lacked the gumption and votes at the FCC to get rid of the rule then, the proliferation of Internet access and content over the past 17 years should give today’s commissioners the conviction to do the right thing. In celebration of our commitment to freedom, the FCC should eliminate the rule that constrains the owner of a broadcast TV station from also owning a newspaper in the same city, and vice versa — forthwith.

Washington Post, NSA slides explain the PRISM data-collection program, Staff report, June 6, 2013.  Through a top-secret program authorized by federal judges working under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), the U.S. intelligence community can gain access to the servers of nine Internet companies for a wide range of digital data. Documents describing the previously undisclosed program, obtained by The Washington Post, show the breadth of U.S. electronic surveillance capabilities in the wake of a widely publicized controversy over warrantless wiretapping of U.S. domestic telephone communications in 2005. These slides, annotated by The Washington Post, represent a selection from the overall document, and certain portions are redacted. Read related article.

Washington Post, Message from the ruins of Qusair, Charles Krauthammer, June 6, 2013. On Wednesday, Qusair fell to the Bashar al-Assad regime in Syria. Qusair is a strategic town that connects Damascus with Assad’s Alawite heartland on the Mediterranean, with its ports and Russian naval base. It’s a major strategic shift. Assad’s forces can now advance on rebel-dominated areas in central and northern Syria, including Aleppo. For the rebels, it’s a devastating loss of territory, morale and their supply corridor to Lebanon. No one knows if this reversal of fortune will be the last, but everyone knows that Assad now has the upper hand.

June 5

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)

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, What you need to know about Susan Rice, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations who will be the next national security adviser, Staff report, June 5, 2013.

AP via Huffington Post, Tom Donilon Resigning: Obama National Security Adviser To Be Replaced by Susan Rice, Julie Pace, June 5, 2013. President Barack Obama's top national security adviser Tom Donilon is resigning and will be replaced by Susan Rice, right, the U.S. ambassador to the U.N. who has been a lightning rod for Republican criticism over faulty explanations for the attack that killed four Americans in Benghazi, Libya. Donilon has been a key foreign policy adviser to President Barack Obama. But the 58-year-old had been expected to depart sometime this year, with Rice seen as the likely candidate to replace him. Her selection is sure to anger congressional Republicans, who have accused the administration of inconsistency and a cover-up in the Benghazi attacks.

Guardian, NSA collecting phone records of millions of Verizon customers daily, Glenn Greenwald, June 5, 2013. Exclusive: Top secret court order requiring Verizon to hand over all call data shows scale of domestic surveillance under Obama. Under the terms of the order, the numbers of both parties on a call are handed over, as is location data and the time and duration of all calls. The National Security Agency is currently collecting the telephone records of millions of US customers of Verizon, one of America's largest telecoms providers, under a top secret court order issued in April. The order, a copy of which has been obtained by the Guardian, requires Verizon on an "ongoing, daily basis" to give the NSA information on all telephone calls in its systems, both within the US and between the US and other countries. The document shows for the first time that under the Obama administration the communication records of millions of US citizens are being collected indiscriminately and in bulk – regardless of whether they are suspected of any wrongdoing. The secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (Fisa) granted the order to the FBI on April 25, giving the government unlimited authority to obtain the data for a specified three-month period ending on July 19. Under the terms of the blanket order, the numbers of both parties on a call are handed over, as is location data, call duration, unique identifiers, and the time and duration of all calls. The contents of the conversation itself are not covered.

Huffington Post, Hey America -- 'Can You Hear Me Now?!' Obama, Verizon, and Executive Power Run Amok, Kristen Breitweiser, June 6, 2013. hToday's news relating to the Verizon data and records siege speaks volumes about this president and his absolute abuse of power. And when coupled with Eric Holder's abuses regarding the targeting of journalists and whistleblowers, Obama's positioning of John Brennan at CIA and James Comey at FBI, along with Obama's shift of drone warfare from CIA to DOD, which will now conveniently enable drones to operate within our borders, we all should be very, very scared. Because dissent, discussion, debate can no longer exist with this sort of omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent government. In short, the deck is stacked against us. Years ago, while in the midst of fighting the Bush administration for access to 9/11 documents that the 9/11 Commission needed to conduct its investigation, I met some old law school buddies for drinks. During our conversations, I railed against the Patriot Act and its inherent triggers against "our" privacy rights.

American Conservative, American Pravda: “Liberal Bias,” Ron Unz, June 5, 2013. When a small publication such as the American Conservative publishes a sharp attack against the mainstream media as I recently did in American Pravda, the ultimate result largely depends upon whether that self-same media will take any notice. Many tens or even low hundreds of thousands may read a highly popular article online, but such totals are negligible in a nation of over three hundred million, and those readers might anyway question the credibility of the charges. After all, one of my central arguments had been that our media decides what is real and what is nonsense. With the media serving as gatekeeper to its own criticism, the impact of my efforts remained in substantial doubt over the last month, but early Monday morning the ground shifted as the venerable Atlantic—one of America’s oldest publications and still among the most influential—published a very thoughtful 2,000 word discussion of my piece, under the noteworthy heading “Why Does the American Media Get Big Stories Wrong?”  Agreeing with me on some particulars and disagreeing on others, author Conor Friedersdorf helpfully summarized my critique while also providing several suggested answers to his own title-question, something that I had not treated in detail.

At right, President Obama and Chief of Staff Denis McDonough walk June 3 on the South Lawn of the White House. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza.)

FireDogLake, Surveillance State Secrecy & the Top Secret Court Order to Hand Over Verizon Call Data to NSA, Kevin Gosztola, June 6, 2013. A court order that was classified as top secret indicates Verizon was ordered by a US secret surveillance court to provide call data of millions of communications of Americans on an “ongoing, daily basis” to the National Security Agency (NSA) from April 25 to July 19. The order authorized by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court was published by The Guardian and columnist, Glenn Greenwald, wrote about the order for the media organization, concluding that it showed for “the first time that under the Obama administration the communication records of millions of US citizens are being collected indiscriminately and in bulk – regardless of whether they are suspected of any wrongdoing.”

Washington Post, Verizon ordered to provide NSA with all call data, Ellen Nakashima June 5, 2013. Administration official says purported court order “does not allow the government to listen in on anyone’s telephone calls” and only relates to data, including phone number and call length.

WMR, FBI issued subpoenas on leak of DEA's Israeli spying memo, Wayne Madsen, June 5, 2013 (Subscription required). WMR has learned from a primary source that the U.S. Justice Department sought and received subpoenas to force testimony from and monitor the phone conversations and emails of journalists who received parts of or the entirety of a Drug Enforcement Administration report in December 2002 documenting Israeli "art student" espionage directed at U.S. government facilities and homes of U.S. government employees in the years and months leading up to the 9/11 attack.

Politico, Report: Leon Panetta revealed classified SEAL unit info, Josh Gerstein, June 5, 2013. Former CIA Director Leon Panetta revealed the name of the Navy SEAL unit that carried out the Osama bin Laden raid and named the unit’s ground commander at a 2011 ceremony attended by Zero Dark Thirty filmmaker Mark Boal. Panetta also discussed classified information designated as “top secret” and “secret” during his presentation at the awards ceremony, according to a draft Pentagon inspector general’s report published Wednesday by the Project on Government Oversight. A source close to Panetta said Wednesday evening that he was unaware anyone without the proper security clearances was present at the event, which included both CIA and military personnel. “He has no idea who all is in the audience. He was told everyone got the requisite clearances,” said the source, who asked not to be named. Panetta’s prepared speech was classified “secret,” according to the source. That may have led the CIA director to believe he could speak freely about the operation. The leaked version of the report does not address whether Panetta knew Boal was present at the ceremony, held under a tent at the CIA complex on June 24, 2011. “Approximately 1,300” people from the military and the intelligence community were on hand for the event, according to a CIA press release issued the following week. The disclosure of the IG report could undermine the Obama administration’s claims that senior officials have not leaked classified information. Last spring, Republicans publicly attacked President Barack Obama and his top aides, alleging that the administration leaked national security secrets to burnish Obama’s standing for his reelection bid.

Peter H. Stone, Huffington Post, Sheldon Adelson's Woes Mount With Grand Jury In Las Vegas Sands Money-Laundering Probe, June 5, 2013. The legal headaches besetting billionaire Sheldon Adelson’s Las Vegas Sands Corp. now include a grand jury in Los Angeles, part of a federal money-laundering probe of his Nevada-based casinos, the Huffington Post has learned. The involvement of a federal grand jury, not previously reported, suggests an escalation of the money-laundering investigation into Sands and one of its executives, being led by the U.S. attorney for Los Angeles, according to a person with direct knowledge of the inquiry. Investigators are probing whether Sands broke money-laundering laws by failing to report millions in potentially questionable transfers of money several years ago by two-high rollers at its casinos. Both men have separately been charged with other crimes and one has since been sentenced to jail for accepting illegal kickbacks. Adelson, CEO of the Sands, is shown at left in a photo via Wikipedia. The Wall Street Journal, in a lengthy story last summer, first disclosed that Sands was a subject of a federal money-laundering inquiry and that some of its executives were also under scrutiny. The Journal reported in October that possible settlement discussions with government officials were underway. Those talks were focused on a possible deal, which, to avoid charges, may have included a fine of $100 million or more and would've required Sands to institute new internal controls for customer deposits.

Guardian, Bradley Manning Trial Focuses on His Database Access, Ed Pilkington, June 5, 2013. Bradley Manning, the source of the largest intelligence leak in US history, was allowed by his superiors to surf massive closed databases of secret information without any official restrictions, as well as download classified files to CDs and play music, movies and video games on his secure computer, his court martial has heard.
Day three of the trial, the highest-profile prosecution of an official leaker in at least a generation, focused on a tussle between the US government and Manning's defence lawyers over the environment in which the soldier worked as an intelligence analyst. The prosecution attempted to depict his unit within the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division as meticulously trained in the handling and safeguarding of classified information.
By contrast, the defence team led by civilian lawyer David Coombs extracted answers from prosecution witnesses under cross-examination that presented the unit as an ill-disciplined group that operated under lapse security guidelines, even though they were stationed on active duty at a US military base outside Baghdad. Two of Manning's supervisors at Forward Operating Base Hammer were called to the stand, Jihrleah Showman and chief warrant officer Kyle Balonek, and grilled in similar fashion.

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.

June 4

AP via Huffington Post, Egypt Sentences NGO Workers To Prison, Including 16 Americans, Hamza Hendawi, June 4, 2013. An Egyptian court on Tuesday sentenced 43 non-profit workers, including the son of the U.S. secretary of transportation and 15 other Americans, to prison in a case against foreign-funded pro-democracy groups. The ruling and heavy jail time of up to five years deepen worries over the operations of non-governmental organizations in Egypt as parliament considers a bill proposed by Islamist President Mohammed Morsi that critics warn will profoundly restrict their activities.

June 3

Mediaite, Jesse Ventura Rants On Bradley Manning, IRS, And Suing Navy SEAL’s Widow With A Skeptical Piers Morgan, Josh Feldman, June 3, 2013 (Video). Former Minnesota governor and professional wrestler Jesse Ventura joined Piers Morgan tonight for a lively discussion ranging from the big scandals in Washington to the trial of Bradley Manning to whether Ventura would finally dip his toes in the presidential water after sitting out for the last two cycles. Ventura bashed the Obama administration for overreach in the IRS and AP scandals, while declaring that public trust in parties is so low, a third party candidate like himself could easily win in 2016.

Atlantic, Why Does the American Media Get Big Stories Wrong? Conor Friedersdorf, June 3, 2013.  A magazine publisher has written a provocative article raising that question. I try to offer some answers.

Politico, Opening Statements Paint Two Pictures Of Manning, Stephanie Gaskell, June 3, 2013. Prosecutors opened the Army’s court-martial of Pfc. Bradley Manning on Monday by charging that the former intelligence analyst knew full well the 700,000 classified documents he has admitted giving to WikiLeaks could fall into the hands of America’s enemies. During opening statements in the biggest leak case in U.S. military history, prosecutors said they have evidence that Sept. 11 mastermind Osama bin Laden asked for the WikiLeaks files after they were released and the information was found on computers inside his Pakistan compound when it was raided by Navy Seals two years ago.

Truthdig via OpEdNews, 'We Steal Secrets': State Agitprop, Chris Hedges, June 3, 2013. Alex Gibney's new film, We Steal Secrets, is about WikiLeaks and its founder, Julian Assange. It dutifully peddles the state's contention that WikiLeaks is not a legitimate publisher and that Bradley Manning, who allegedly passed half a million classified Pentagon and State Department documents to WikiLeaks, is not a legitimate whistle-blower. It interprets acts of conscience and heroism by Assange and Manning as misguided or criminal. It holds up the powerful -- who are responsible for the plethora of war crimes Manning and Assange exposed -- as, by comparison, trustworthy and reasonable. Manning is portrayed as a pitiful, naive and sexually confused young man. Assange, who created the WikiLeaks site so whistle-blowers could post information without fear of being traced, is presented as a paranoid, vindictive megalomaniac and a sexual deviant. "We Steal Secrets" is agitprop for the security and surveillance state.

Legal Schnauzer, A Wife's Investigative Skills Turn Up Information About CEO Ted Rollins' Extramarital Activities, Roger Shuler, June 3, 2013. Birmingham resident Sherry Carroll Rollins decided that a visit to her husband's office while he was away on business might yield some interesting information. She was right about that -- on multiple fronts. 

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]. Among others convening for the secret policy discussions, listed here in alphabetical order, were: Washington Post Chairman and CEO Donald E. Graham; Vernon E. Jordan, Jr., Managing Director, Lazard Freres & Co.; Henry A. Kissinger, Chairman, Kissinger Associates, Inc.; Henry R. Kravis, Co-Chairman and Co-CEO Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co, Harvard Law School Lawrence Lessig, a prominent advocate of congressional reform; Richard N. Perle, Resident Fellow, American Enterprise Institute; Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co. Global Institute Chairman David H. Petraeus, General, U.S. Army (Retired); Robert E. Rubin, Co-Chairman, Council on Foreign Relations and former Secretary of the Treasury; and Peter A. Thiel, President, Thiel Capital and a leading funder of social media companies and political campaigns.

June 2

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.

Wall Street Journal, For JFK Authors, the Truth Is, Conspiracy Theories Sell Lots of Books; 50th Anniversary of Assassination Prompts Torrent of Words, Jeffrey A. Trachtenberg, June 2, 2013. When it comes to President John F. Kennedy's assassination, no word has been left unturned. As the 50th anniversary draws near, some might think there is little left to say. That turns out not to be the case. Skyhorse Publishing is issuing eight new titles, flanked by 17 reprints. The publisher started the year with 12 JFK-related titles, which means it will have 37 by year's end. Bowker's Books In Print says nearly 1,400 titles related to President Kennedy, including his assassination, conspiracy works, biographies and speeches, have been published in the U.S. over the past five decades. By comparison, the company says there were more than 3,300 titles related to Abraham Lincoln published during the same period, and nearly 800 about the Titanic. Many of the Skyhorse works have vivid titles, among them Mark North's "Act of Treason: The Role of J. Edgar Hoover in the Assassination of President Kennedy" and Patrick Nolan's "CIA Rogues and the Killing of the Kennedys." 

Time, Mitt Romney Inc.: The White House That Never Was, June 2, 2013. In the months before the 2012 election, a group of high-powered consultants and political operatives prepared a secret report for candidate Mitt Romney, explaining how he should take over and restructure the federal government should he win the presidency. “The White House staff is similar to a holding company” read one PowerPoint slide, which would have been presented to President-elect Romney as part of an expansive briefing on the morning after Election Day. It went on to list three main divisions of the metaphorical firm: “Care & Feeding Offices,” like speechwriting, “Policy Offices,” like the National Security Council, and “Packaging & Selling Offices,” like the office of the press secretary. This was the view of the Presidency Romney would have brought with him to Washington, a glimpse of the White House that never was — and plan that never saw the light of day.

Huffington Post, Eric Holder Perjury Charge Weighed By Republicans, Arthur Delaney, June  2, 2013. Republicans in Congress are investigating whether U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder committed perjury when he said he had nothing to do with the "potential prosecution" of a journalist even though Holder himself reportedly approved of a search warrant in the case. House Judiciary Committee Chairman Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) said on "Fox News Sunday" that Republicans are waiting for Holder's response to a letter about the apparent discrepancy between his sworn testimony and reports about his involvement in the near prosecution of Fox News reporter James Rosen. "It is fair to say we're investigating the conflict in his remarks, those remarks were made under oath, but we also think it’s very important that the attorney general be afforded the opportunity to respond, so we will wait to pass judgment on that until we receive his response," Goodlatte said.

Jonathan Turley.com, It’s All About the Judges, Lawrence E. Rafferty, June 2, 2013.  What would you say if corporations and partisan foundations or think tanks and oil companies were deeply involved in making sure the judges know who their real “friends” are?  “According to a recent investigation by the Center for Public Integrity, “conservative foundations, multinational oil companies and a prescription drug maker were the most frequent sponsors of more than 100 expense-paid educational seminars attended by federal judges over a 4 1/2-year period.” About 185 federal judges participated in these “educational” events which were sponsored by multinational corporations such as ExxonMobil, Pfizer and BP. These seminars are clearly designed to encourage judicial principles that would benefit the sponsors. According to the investigators, Justice Carl A. Barbier happens to have attended at least one of these conferences in 2009, which was sponsored by the American Petroleum Institute, Shell Oil Company, and Exxon Mobil Corporation. Barbier has since dismissed a wrongful death case against Exxon and now finds himself presiding over the BP Deepwater Horizon cases. In an ongoing trial, it is up to him to determine whether or not BP is grossly negligent and liable for tens of billions of dollars in Clean Water Act damages.”

CNN via Huffington Post, Paul Krugman: Debunked Reinhart-Rogoff Paper 'Did A Lot Of Damage' (VIDEO), June 2, 2013. Having a public spat with your colleagues and former classmates over the best way to fix the global economy can be “very unpleasant,” according to Paul Krugman. The Nobel Prize-winning economist and New York Times columnist told Fareed Zakaria that “the stakes are high” in his public debate with Carmen Reinhart and Ken Rogoff, over their research which found a close correlation between high levels of public debt and slow economic growth. Researchers recently debunked the two economists’ findings, which were widely cited by pro-austerity politicians to justify cutting governments spending.  In the aftermath, Krugman has been critical both of the politicians who used Reinhart and Rogoff’s research to push for austerity and of the economists themselves for not doing more to admit that their ultimate conclusion was wrong. The two posted a letter last month accusing Krugman of engaging in “uncivil behavior” in his criticisms.  “This one claimed result -- which is that growth falls off a cliff when debt is at 90 percent of GDP -- that’s what the world picked up on and that result is false,” Krugman told Zakaria on an episode of his show “Fareed Zakaria GPS,” which aired on CNN Sunday. “That paper of theirs did a lot of damage by giving people who didn’t want stimulus, who didn’t want any kind of expansionary policy a way to scare their opponents.”  

June 1

OpEdNews, Time For Holder to Resign/Be Fired, Rob Kall, June 1, 2013. Eric Holder should resign. I say he should resign rather than be fired because it is totally obvious that Holder has been doing the work Obama has told him to do. Holder should resign to save his reputation. He should resign AND make it clear that he is resigning because he can no longer be Obama's "sin eater" as Jonathan Turley calls him in his USA Today article: "Fire Eric Holder." I don't expect Holder to resign, because he has already demonstrated that he is totally willing to prostitute his integrity in obedience to Obama-- as he's violated our rights. Turley says it well in the article, "His value to President Obama has been his absolute loyalty."  For Obama, there has been no better sin eater than Holder. When the president promised CIA employees early in his first term that they would not be investigated for torture, it was the attorney general who shielded officials from prosecution. When the Obama administration decided it would expand secret and warrantless surveillance, it was Holder who justified it. When the president wanted the authority to kill any American he deemed a threat without charge or trial, it was Holder who went public to announce the "kill list" policy. Last week, the Justice Department confirmed that it was Holder who personally approved the equally abusive search of Fox News correspondent James Rosen's e-mail and phone records in another story involving leaked classified information. In the 2010 application for a secret warrant, the Obama administration named Rosen as "an aider and abettor and/or co-conspirator" to the leaking of classified materials. The Justice Department even investigated Rosen's parents' telephone number, and Holder was there to justify every attack on the news media."

FireDogLake, Post Gives Us the Bad News on Medicare, Good News May Reduce Pressure for Change, Dean Baker, June 2, 2013. The Washington Post long ago eliminated any distinction between news and opinion in its reporting on Social Security and Medicare. Keeping with this pattern, it ran a front page editorial that gave us the bad news from the Medicare and Social Security trustees reports released Friday. If Congress were to implement changes to the programs comparable to the ones that were actually put in place in the decade of the 1980s, it would be more than sufficient to keep them fully funded for the rest of the century according to the most recent trustees reports.

New York Times, Seeking a Fresh Start, Holder Finds a Fresh Set of Troubles, Peter Baker, Charlie Savage, Jonathan Weisman, June 2, 2013. At the end of last year, with the election decided and the Obama administration in office for four more years, Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. considered stepping down. He decided against it. While the White House publicly backed Mr. Holder as he tried to smooth over the latest uproar amid new speculation about his future, some in the West Wing privately tell associates they wish he would step down, viewing him as politically maladroit. But the latest attacks may stiffen the administration’s resistance in the near term to a change for fear of emboldening critics. But that does not mitigate the frustration of some presidential aides. “The White House is apoplectic about him, and has been for a long time,” said a Democratic former government official who did not want to be identified while talking about friends. Some advisers to Mr. Obama believe that Mr. Holder does not manage or foresee problems, the former official said. “How hard would it be to anticipate that The A.P. would be unhappy?” the former official said. “And then they haven’t defended their position.”

 

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