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Top Ten Ways the Beltway Press Will Treat Gen. Cartwright Differently from Snowden

June 30th, 2013 - by admin

Juan Cole / JuanCole.com & Spencer Ackerman / DangerRoom, WIRED Magazine – 2013-06-30 01:23:52

http://www.juancole.com/2013/06/beltway-cartwright-differently.html

(June 28, 2013) — NBC reports that Gen. James “Hoss” Cartwright is under investigation as the source for David Sanger’s 2012 New York Times article revealing that the United States is behind the Stuxnet computer virus, which was used to infect computers at Iran’s Natanz nuclear enrichment facilities and at the Bushehr nuclear energy plants and delay their going hot.

High government officials in Washington routinely leak classified information, as part of turf battles inside the government. Cartwright may have been using Sanger to ensure that Stuxnet was not wholly abandoned (it was his baby).

That such leaks are so routine, and are part of Washington’s way of doing business, is what makes the harsh espionage charges against people like Edward Snowden so hypocritical. He who is without leaks should cast the first stone.

The Cartwright story (and remember that he is only a suspect) intersects with Edward Snowden’s revelations about National Security Administration spying in many ways. It seems likely that suspicion is now falling on Cartwright because the NSA knows David Sanger’s phone number and has been looking at everyone he talked to on the phone in the months leading up to his article.

We know that the NSA has been repeatedly requesting massive amounts of US phone information and storing it for easy search. Since Sanger’s article is proof that an illegal act was committed, as Obama said at the time, getting a FISA warrant to go through Sanger’s already-stored records would have been child’s play.

When the PATRIOT Act was proposed, the FBI promised it would be used only for counter-terrorism. But that promise has for many years rung hollow.

While Osama Ben Laden knew not to use the phone during the last seven years of his life, American reporters and generals thought they were safe. PRISM did not catch Ben Laden because he went off the communications grid, and now anyone who wants to do anything the Federal government considers illicit had better do the same.

This simple observation demonstrates that the Obama/ NSA cover story, that they are collecting all these phone records to fight terrorism, makes no sense. The data is most likely to be used against American non-terrorists

Another cautionary tale about NSA warrantless surveillance and Stuxnet is that the program shows how the US government is now a criminal enterprise and entirely willing to take risks that harm ordinary Americans.

In 2010, the US government programmers made an error in Stuxnet that allowed it to escape from Iran’s Natanz computers out onto the Internet, where it became a pest, infecting ordinary business and home computers around the world, including inside the US.

By August, 2010, the worm had infected 100,000 computers in 115 countries in the world. Obama decided not to shut Stuxnet down even after it had caused all this damage. The ordinary consumers and businesses affected ought to sue the US government.

If we can’t trust them not to infect us with worms, why in the world should we trust them with all of our personal information?

Since Cartwright is a member of the inside-the-Beltway elite, you can bet that the courtier press will not treat him the way they have Edward Snowden, even if he proves guilty. Here will be the differences:

1. No one will obsess about the exercise habits of Gen. Cartwright’s wife.

2. Gen. Cartwright will not be characterized as “a 63-year-old hacker.”

3. Gen. Cartwright will not be described as “nerdy” or “flaky.”

4. David Gregory will not ask that David Sanger be prosecuted for espionage because he aided and abetted Cartwright’s leaking.

5. We won’t get stories every day about where in McLean, Virginia, Gen. Cartwright is living.

6. Gen. Cartwright won’t be accused of being a spy for Iran.

7. No lurid stories will be rehearsed on the Sunday afternoon shows about Cartwright’s allegedly overly familiar relationship with a young female aide in 2009, with heavy innuendo as to what the episode said about his reckless character.

8. No FBI informants will be placed inside the elite Alfalfa Club in DC that Cartwright was known to attend.

9. Cartwright’s loyalty to the United States won’t be impugned by anchors or congressmen.

10. Dirt won’t be dug up on David Sanger’s private life in an attempt to discredit his reporting on Cartwright’s Stuxnet.

It’s not what is done. It is who does it that matters in Washington. Even past closeness to power covers a multitude of sins.

(Just for the humorless, I don’t think any of the above 10 things should be done, but these smear techniques also shouldn’t have been deployed against Edward Snowden and Glenn Greenwald of the Guardian).

Posted in accordance with Title 17, Section 107, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.

Has Capitalism Failed the World?

June 30th, 2013 - by admin

Head to Head / Al Jazeera – 2013-06-30 01:23:02

http://www.aljazeera.com/programmes/headtohead/2013/06/201361294652861958.html

Has Capitalism Failed the World?
Former financial regulator Lord Adair Turner discusses the role of banks, the politics behind austerity, and capitalism

(JUNE 29, 2013) — At the famous Oxford Union, Mehdi Hasan challenges former top financial regulator Lord Adair Turner on the role of the banks, the politics behind austerity and whether capitalism has failed.

It seems that mistakes made in Wall Street and the City of London are paid for by people around the world, but can we govern greed within the realm of capitalism or is it all just money down the drain? Is austerity really needed? Can we trust the banks?

Lord Turner said: “I’m not an egalitarian, I’m not a socialist, but I am worried about the sheer extent of the inequality that’s now growing. I think finance is part of that story.”

Lord Turner was at the helm of the UK’s Financial Services Authority (FSA) in the wake of the financial meltdown and is now trying to find groundbreaking solutions to global problems at the Institute of New Economic Thinking. Hasan challenges a man at the heart of rethinking the global economic system about his past experience, his present thoughts, and our future.

“I am concerned that we have not been radical enough in our reform,” concluded Lord Turner.

But he also sounded a note of hope based on some of the new ideas and policies coming out from previously orthodox bastions of economic thinking.

Joining our discussion are:
Jon Moulton, a venture capitalist and the founder of the private equity firm Better Capital. He has nurtured a reputation for forthrightness even to point of challenging his private equity peers for abusing tax regimes. He is also one of the few men in the City of London who warned about the impending crash before it happened;
Professor Costas Lapavitsas, who teaches economics at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) at the University of London and is the author of several notable books on the crash and its consequences including Crisis in the Eurozone and Financialisation in Crisis and
Ann Pettifor, the director of PRIME (Policy Research in Macroeconomics), and a fellow of the New Economics Foundation. She was one of the first to warn about the debt crisis in her book The Coming First World Debt Crisis, and is also well-known for her leadership of the successful worldwide campaign to cancel developing world debt — Jubilee 2000.

Watch Has Capitalism Failed the World? with Lord Adair Turner from Friday, June 28, at the following times GMT: Friday: 2000; Saturday: 1200; Sunday: 0100; Monday 0600.
Posted in accordance with Title 17, Section 107, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.

Freedom Fighters? Cannibals? The Truth about Syria’s Rebels

June 30th, 2013 - by admin

The Independent Institute & BBC Channel 4 – 2013-06-30 00:59:50

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/middle-east/freedom-fighters-cannibals-the-truth-about-syrias-rebels-8662618.html

LONDON (June 29, 2013) — The US wants to send them arms, Vladimir Putin says they’re cannibals — but what do we really know about the opposition movement fighting to topple Assad? Syria expert Aron Lund profiles some of the most powerful factions

Battlefield Alliances: The Major Groups

The Syrian Islamic Front (SIF):
Leader: Abu Abdullah al-Hamawi (Ahrar al-Sham)
Affiliated fighters: Group’s own figures claimed about 25,000 in Dec 2012

A hardline Salafist alliance created in December 2012, which receives funding from conservative clerics in the Gulf. The SIF has distanced itself from the Western-backed FSA, but it is also wary of Jabhat al-Nusra’s al-Qa’ida connection. Unlike the SILF and the FSA, the SIF has demonstrated some degree of internal cohesion and significant ideological homogeneity.

It is dominated by Ahrar al-Sham, but the front also includes the Haqq Brigade (Homs), the Haqq Battalions (northern Hama), the Ansar al-Sham Battalions (northern Latakia), and the Tawhid Army (Deir al-Zor). It is demanding an Islamic state with sharia law.

AFFILIATES: Islamic Ahrar al-Sham Movement

The Free Syrian Army:
Leader: Brig. Gen. Salim Idriss
Affiliated fighters: Many different claims. Most recently, in June 2013, Idriss claimed he is the leader of 80,000 fighters

The FSA name has been used by several overlapping rebel networks since mid-2011. This version, which is also often referred to as the Supreme Military Council, was created in December 2012 after pressure from Western and Gulf Arab nations, which seek to make it the military wing of Syria’s civilian exile group, the National Coalition. Foreign funding has drawn numerous rebel commanders to the FSA, including all the SILF heavyweights.

But these commanders retain operational control over their own forces, and Idriss therefore serves more as a spokesperson than a military leader. Idriss steers a secular-nationalist line, while many of the factions that make up his army have opted for some form of Islamic rule.

AFFILIATES Syria Martyrs Brigades, Farouq Battalions, Tawhid Brigade, Suqour al-Sham Brigades and Islam Brigade

The Syrian Islamic Liberation Front (SILF)
Leader: Ahmed Eissa al-Sheikh (Suqour al-Sham)
Secretary General: Zahran Alloush (Islam Brigade)
Affiliated fighters: Spokesperson says 35,000-40,000 June 2013

The SILF is a very loose Islamist alliance created in September 2012, around a bare-bones ideological plank demanding more Islam and less Assad. It now includes about 20 armed movements, among them powerful factions like Farouq and Tawhid. The SILF members joined the new version of the FSA at its inception in December 2012, and now make up the bulk of its fighting force. A representative of the SILF describes it as ”the largest of the revolutionary coalitions”.

AFFILIATES Farouq Battalions, Tawhid Brigade, Suqour al-Sham Brigades and Islam Brigade

MILITANT FACTIONS

Farouq Battalions
Leader: Osama Juneidi
Numbers: Approximately 14,000 now, according to their spokesperson.
Area: National, but associated with Homs also has strong presence on Syrian-Turkish border
Affiliation: SILF, FSA

The Farouq Battalions is a large, Islamist-leaning group which has its roots in the earliest Free Syrian Army formations created in Homs province in summer and autumn of 2011. It rose to prominence when leading the failed February 2012 defense of the Baba Amr neighborhood in the city.

Since then, the original group has expanded tremendously and it now runs affiliates across the country. A well-funded northern wing, Farouq al-Shamal, controls important border crossings and is rumored to enjoy Turkish patronage.

Jabhat al-Nusra and the Islamic state of Iraq
Leader: Abu Mohammed al-Golani (Jabhat al-Nusra); Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi (Islamic state)
Number: a report this year by the Quilliam Foundation said Jabhat al-nusra had 5,000 fighters, but this is impossible to verify
Area: Syria — Iraq
Affiliation: al-Qa’ida

In mid-2011, the al-Qa’ida-affiliated Islamic State of Iraq sent a group to Syria to create a jihadi movement. In January 2012, it emerged as Jabhat al-Nusra with a string of suicide bombings. Declared a terrorist group by the US since December 2012, Jabhat al-Nusra has co-operated with other rebels on the ground but shunned alliances.

In April, Baghdadi declared a merger of the Iraqi group with Jabhat al-Nusra under the name Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham. This was opposed by Nusra’s leader, but Baghdadi persisted, backed by many foreign jihadis. Both groups are in Syria, the dispute unresolved.

Islamic Ahrar al-Sham Movement
Leader: Abu Abdullah al-Hamawi
Area: Syria (It is strongest in northern Syria, in Idlib, Hama and Aleppo, but has affiliates all over the country.)
Numbers: Several thousand at least, maybe as many as 10,000. SIF (the alliance of which they make up around 75 per cent of forces) circulated an informal claim that it had 25,000 fighters back in December.
Affiliation SIF

Ahrar al-Sham is likely to be Syria’s largest salafi faction. It claims to run about a hundred local armed groups, as well as offices for humanitarian aid and sharia law. It was created in the Idlib-Hama region in early summer 2011. In December 2012 it spearheaded the creation of the SIF alliance, which drew like-minded Islamist groups into its orbit. In spring 2013, several SIF member factions merged into Ahrar al-Sham, greatly adding to its numbers and influence. It seeks an Islamic state based on sharia law.

Syria Martyrs’ Brigades
Leader: Jamaal Maarouf
Numbers: High thousands? Even 10,000? Maarouf claimed in an interview in December 2012 to have more than 18,000 fighters, but this is disputed.
Area: Jabal al-Zawiya, Idlib
Affiliation: FSA

Originally named the Jabal al-Zawiya Martyrs’ Brigade, a name change was engineered to match Jamal Maarouf’s growing ambitions in mid-2012. The group remains concentrated in the rugged, rural Jabal al-Zawiya region of Idlib, and has spawned only a few branches elsewhere. Unlike his local Islamist rival, Suqour al-Sham’s Ahmed Eissa al-Sheikh, Maarouf seems to have no particular ideology, but he is nevertheless said to enjoy Saudi funding.

YPG — Popular Protection Units
Spokesperson: Khebat Ibrahim
Numbers: Some thousands
Area: Kurdish-populated areas, northern and north-eastern Syria, Aleppo.
Affilation: Supreme Kurdish Committee, PKK

The YPG is the dominant Kurdish armed group, which took over large sections of northern Syria in August last year. It is not-so-secretly loyal to the PKK, which has by now forcibly co-opted most other Kurdish groups in Syria. The YPG has deep misgivings about the Arab opposition mainstream, which it considers to be Islamist and under Turkish influence, and it has steered a middle way between the regime and the rebels.

True to the PKK’s Marxist tradition, the YPG makes a point of training female fighters. The YPG does not seek independence for Syria’s Kurds, but does argue for a form of self-governance within Syria.

Islam Brigade
Leader: Zahran Alloush
Numbers: Thousands
Area: Mainly Damascus
Affiliation: SILF, FSA

The Islam Brigade was set up by the Alloush family from Douma, east of Damascus. The elderly patriarch Mohammed Alloush, a religious scholar, lives in Saudi Arabia. His son Zahran, a salafi activist jailed by the government in 2009, founded the group when he was released from prison in mid-2011.

It rose to prominence after bombing the National Security Office in Damascus in July 2012, which killed several of Assad’s leading military officials. Considers itself “the biggest faction in the Damascus region” and claims to have 64 sub-battalions, but it refuses to give an estimated number of fighters.

Tawhid Brigade
General leader: Abdelaziz Salama
Military commander: Abdulqader Saleh
Numbers: Spokesperson claims ”around 11,000”
Area: Aleppo, with smaller groups around the country
Affiliation: SILF, FSA

The Tawhid Brigade was created in July 2012 through the merger of a disparate collection of militias from the Sunni Arab countryside surrounding Aleppo. Soon thereafter, the group led the charge into the city itself, but the rebels became bogged down during the autumn of 2012 after some initial victories.

The Tawhid Brigade remains the dominant force in the Aleppo region, although it also has small affiliates elsewhere. It demands some form of Islamic governance, but says that religious minorities should be treated as equal citizens.

Suqour al-Sham Brigades
Leader: Ahmed Eissa al-Sheikh
Numbers: Several thousand, possibly climbing towards 10,000
Area: Jabal al-Zawiya, Idlib
Affiliation: SILF, FSA

The foundations of the Suqour al-Sham, one of Syria’s best-known Islamist groups, were laid in the summer of 2011 in the town of Sarjeh in Idlib’s Jabal al-Zawiya region. It has now grown considerably and some of its sub-units, such as the Dawoud Brigade, have been pushing south into Hama province alongside more radical Islamist groups. Suqour al-Sham helped create the SILF alliance, with Ahmed Eissa al-Sheikh serving as its leader since the start.

Aron Lund is a Swedish writer and researcher who has published extensively on Syrian opposition movements. He is a regular contributor to the Swedish Institute for International Affairs. Mr Lund is considered one of the best informed observers of the Syrian opposition

Posted in accordance with Title 17, Section 107, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.

Obama’s CIA Prepares to Arm Syrian Rebels Accused of War Crimes, Beheadings and Cannibalism

June 30th, 2013 - by admin

Matthew Schofield / McClatchy & Cheryl K. Chumley / The Washington Times & Khaled Yacoub Oweis and Alexei Anishchuk / Reuters & Sydney Morning Herald – 2013-06-30 00:45:56

http://www.mcclatchydc.com/2013/06/28/195325/europe-likely-to-stay-on-sidelines.html#.Uc_AT-tvmzV

Europe Likely to Stay on Sidelines When US Ships Arms to Syria Rebels
Matthew Schofield / McClatchy Foreign Staff

BERLIN (June 28, 2013) — When the Obama administration begins arming Syrian rebels through the CIA, something news reports say will happen within the next month, it probably it will be acting without help from its European allies.

Despite the end of the European Union’s embargo on supplying weapons to the rebels, which expired May 30, experts see little will or appetite among European nations for adding more weapons to the bloody Syrian civil war. Not even the British, who were pressing just weeks ago for arming the rebels, are likely to do so.

In part, that sentiment is based on a deep concern that not enough is known about the groups that make up the rebel forces. In particular, the prominence of the Nusra Front, with strong ties to al Qaida and the al Qaida-affiliated Islamic State of Iraq, raises concerns that any weapons sent into that conflict might be used eventually against international troops or interests, either in Syria or elsewhere.

“There is a sense of guilt in Europe at seeing the Russians and Iranians continue to supply the regime,” said Dominique Moisi, a security expert at the French Institute of International Relations in Paris. “But there is no enthusiasm for getting involved.”

The vast majority of European nations strongly supported keeping the arms embargo in effect. But because EU decisions must be unanimous, the refusal of Britain and France to renew it meant it was allowed to expire. That may say more about the notion of a single European foreign policy than it does about sentiment to arm the rebels.

Experts think Britain and France were motivated by the hope that the threat of sending weapons would pressure Syrian President Bashar Assad’s regime to slow its attacks on the rebels and would dissuade Russia and Iran from continuing to arm the regime. But there’s no belief that France or Britain will provide the arms.

“Those who are against sending weapons are passionately against it. Those in favor are timidly in favor of sending weapons,” Moisi said.

Patrick Keller, a security expert at Berlin’s Konrad Adenauer Stiftung, a foreign policy research center, said, “The EU as a foreign policy actor is weakened. But the way the embargo ended makes sense. Only Britain and France among members feel a global responsibility.”

The general notion in Europe is that if the so-called Big 3 — France, Germany and the United Kingdom — agree on a policy direction, they have the ability to get other nations to fall in line. In this case, Germany was strongly against the expiration of the embargo and it remains opposed to any arms sales in the region.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has announced that Germany won’t be arming anyone involved in the conflict. The Austrians, Belgians, Greeks and Irish have made similar statements.

Keller noted that France and Britain can operate unilaterally. “There really isn’t anything stopping them,” except “they’ve shown no public desire” to do so.

“There really isn’t a European security policy to speak of,” Keller said. “It’s all unilateral.”

David Butter, a security expert at London’s Chatham House research center, said that while Britain and France had issued statements backing up the assertion that Assad’s force had used chemical weapons — the rationale for the Obama administration’s arming of the rebels — the government of neither country had shown the will to get more involved.

“Before any weapons were actually shipped to the rebels, the government would have to get a vote through Parliament,” he said. “There are no signs of that happening.”

The rebels battling to topple Assad are badly divided, and their sources of armaments are uncertain. The United States and its allies have agreed that all weapons should move through the Supreme Military Council, a group that’s led by a defected Syrian general, Salim Idriss. But Idriss’ group has little direct control over rebel forces and the most militarily effective rebels, the Nusra Front and Ahrar al Sham, aren’t affiliated with it.

Current weapons supplies are thought to have come through looting of government stocks, the black market or from Qatar and Saudi Arabia. News reports have said US weapons most likely will be funneled through Jordan.

What experts think is certain, however, is that Europe isn’t likely to be sending any lethal supplies.

Butter said it was wrong for Americans to assume that the pattern of European military cooperation with US goals would follow previous conflicts.

“We want to compare what could happen in Syria to what happened in Iraq and Libya,” he said. “But the mistakes made in Syria will not be those made elsewhere. They will be brand-new ones.”

Ali Watkins contributed to this article from Washington.


Syrians Behead Christians for Helping Military, as CIA Ships in Arms
Cheryl K. Chumley / The Washington Times

(June 27, 2013) — A priest and another Christian were beheaded before a cheering crowd by Syrian insurgents who say they aided and abetted the enemy, President Bashar Assad’s military, foreign media reported.

An undated video that made the Internet rounds on Wednesday showed two unnamed men with tied hands surrounded by a cheering crowd of dozens, just moments before their heads were cut off with a small knife, Syria Report said. The attackers in the video then lifted the head for show, and placed it back on the body. The incident took place in the countryside of Idlib, the media report said.

Syria Report said that foreign militants have increased attacks on civilians in recent weeks — and that many of these insurgents are supported by the West and by Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey. Just recently, a Catholic priest was recently executed by radicals, and last month, an entire Christian village in Homs was burned to the ground, Syria Report said. Moreover, two Christian bishops kidnapped in Aleppo at the beginning of the year are still missing.

The reported beheading of the two Christians comes about the same time America has started sending arms to rebel fighters, the Wall Street Journal revealed this week. The Journal reported the Central Intelligence Agency just began transporting weapons to Jordan for eventual transfer to Syrian fighters.

The weapons transfer is aimed at helping Free Syrian forces oust Mr. Assad. It’s scheduled to coincide with arms shipments from other European and Arab allies for a planned and coordinated rebel attack set for August, the Journal reported.

The CIA weapons transfer will take about three weeks, and involves light arms — and possibly antitank missiles, the Journal said


Why Arm Cannibal Rebels in Syria, Putin Asks
Khaled Yacoub Oweis and Alexei Anishchuk / Reuters & Sydney Morning Herald

AMMAN/LONDON (June 17, 2013) — Russian President Vladimir Putin, arriving in Britain ahead of an international summit set to be dominated by disagreement over the US decision to send weapons to Syria’s rebels, said the West must not arm fighters who eat human flesh.

“One does not really need to support the people who not only kill their enemies, but open up their bodies, eat their intestines in front of the public and cameras,” Mr Putin said.

“Are these the people you want to support? Are they the ones you want to supply with weapons? Then this probably has little relation to the humanitarian values preached in Europe for hundreds of years.”

The incident Putin referred to was most likely that of a rebel commander filmed last month cutting into the torso of a dead soldier and biting into a piece of one of his organs.

After months of deliberations, Washington decided last week to send weapons to the rebels, declaring that Dr Assad’s forces had crossed a “red line” by using nerve gas.

The move throws the superpower’s weight behind the revolt and signals a potential turning point in global involvement in a two-year-old war that has already killed at least 93,000 people.

It has also infuriated Russia, Cold War-era ally of Syria, which has sold arms to Dr Assad and used its veto at the UN Security Council to block resolutions against him.

Russia has dismissed the US evidence that Dr Assad’s forces used nerve gas. The White House says President Barack Obama will try to lobby Mr Putin to drop his support for Dr Assad during this week’s G8 summit hosted by British Prime Minister David Cameron.

After meeting Mr Cameron in London, Mr Putin said Russia wanted to create the conditions for a resolution of the conflict.

Both sides have been accused of atrocities in the conflict. The United States and other countries that aid the rebels say one of the reasons for doing so is to support mainstream opposition groups and reduce the influence of extremists.

In Syria, rebels fought back on Sunday against forces of President Bashar al-Assad and his Lebanese Hezbollah allies near Aleppo, where Dr Assad has announced a campaign to recapture the rebel-held north after seizing a strategic town this month.

The US plan to arm the rebels also places new doubt over plans for an international peace conference called by Washington and Moscow, their first joint attempt in a year to try to seek a settlement.

After meeting Mr Putin, Britain’s Mr Cameron said the divide between Russia and the West over Syria could be bridged, although they disagreed about who was at fault.

“What I take from our conversation today is that we can overcome these differences if we recognise that we share some fundamental aims: to end the conflict, to stop Syria breaking apart, to let the Syrian people decide who governs them and to take the fight to the extremists and defeat them.”

Britain has not said whether it too will arm the rebels, but the issue is contentious even within Mr Cameron’s Conservative-led government. Nick Clegg, the deputy prime minister from his Liberal Democrat coalition partners, said: “We clearly don’t think it’s the right thing to do now, or else we would have done it.”

Under its new posture, Washington has also said it will keep warplanes and Patriot surface-to-air missiles in Jordan, an ally whose territory it can use to help arm and train rebel fighters. Washington has 4500 troops in Jordan carrying out exercises.

Washington has not ruled out imposing a no-fly zone over parts of Syria, perhaps near the Jordanian border, although it has taken no decision yet to do so.

Jordan’s King Abdullah rallied his own armed forces on Sunday, telling military cadets: “If the world does not help as it should, and if the matter becomes a danger to our country, we are able at any moment to take the measures to protect the country and the interests of our people.”

Washington hopes its backing will restore rebel momentum after Dr Assad’s forces seized the initiative by gaining the open support of Hezbollah, Lebanon’s Iranian-backed Shi’ite militia, which sent thousands of seasoned fighters to aid Dr Assad.

Just a few months ago, Western countries believed Dr Assad’s days were numbered. But with Hezbollah’s support he was able to achieve a major victory this month in Qusair, a strategically located rebel-held town on a main route from Lebanon.

Since then, the government has announced major plans to seize the north, including Aleppo, Syria’s biggest city and commercial centre, largely rebel-held for nearly a year. The United Nations says it fears for a bloodbath in the north.

Rebels say they are fighting back against government offensives in the north. An opposition operations room in northern Aleppo said fighters had destroyed an army tank and killed 20 troops at Marat al-Arteek, a town where opposition sources say rebels are holding back an armoured column sent to reinforce loyalists from isolated Shi’ite villages.

“Assad’s forces and Hezbollah are trying to control northern rural Aleppo but they are being repelled and dealt heavy losses,” Colonel Abdeljabbar al-Okeidi, a Free Syrian Army commander in Aleppo, told al-Arabiya Television.

He said Hezbollah had sent up to 2000 fighters to Aleppo and the surrounding areas, but expressed confidence the opposition would prevail.

“Aleppo and Qusair are different. In Qusair we were surrounded by villages that had been occupied by Hezbollah and by loyalist areas. We did not even have a place to take our wounded. In Aleppo, we have a strategic depth and logistical support and we are better organised,” he said. “Aleppo will turn into the grave of these Hezbollah devils.”

Battles were also fought inside Aleppo itself, where thousands of loyalist troops and militiamen reinforced by Hezbollah have been massing and attacking opposition-held parts of the city, driving rebel fighters back.

Opposition activists said the army was also airlifting troops behind rebel lines to Ifrin, in a Kurdish area, which would give access for a bigger sweep inside the city.

“For a week, the rebel forces have been generally on the retreat in Aleppo, but the tide has started turning in the last two days,” said Abu Abdallah, an activist in the area.

Hezbollah’s support for Assad, a follower of the minority Alawite offshoot of Shi’ite Islam, against mainly Sunni Muslim rebels has increased fears of sectarian violence spreading into neighbouring countries.

In Lebanon, security sources said gunmen had shot dead four Shi’ite Muslim men in an ambush in the Bekaa Valley close to the Syrian frontier. It was not clear who was behind the shooting.

Lebanon is still rebuilding from its own sectarian civil war, fought from 1975-1990. Fighting between Sunnis and Shi’ites was also behind most of the violence in Iraq in the decade after the US invasion of 2003.


Syrian ‘Cannibal’ Rebel Explains His Actions
The Telegraph

(May 19, 2013) — Rebel commander Abu Sakkar, who was filmed cutting out and eating the organs of a pro-regime fighter, warns that if the bloodshed continues “all Syrian people” will be like him.

Rebel commander Abu Sakkar gained instant notoriety after footage emerged of him appearing to remove the organs of a pro-regime fighter and then eating them.

In a short video uploaded to YouTube, he says that he found the fighter had mobile phone footage showing the killing of children, rapes, dismemberment and torture.

“Every free Syrian who sees this; you don’t know what they can do,” he said.

He also warned that if the bloodshed in Syria continues “all Syrian people will be like me.”

Posted in accordance with Title 17, Section 107, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.

How Corporate Media Distort the Truth, Endanger Democracy

June 29th, 2013 - by admin

Juan Cole / JuanCole.com – 2013-06-29 12:19:39

http://www.juancole.com/2013/06/screwing-surveillance-redux.html

Top Ten Ways US TV News Are
Screwing Us Again on NSA Surveillance Story (Iraq Redux)

Juan Cole / JuanCole.com

(June 24, 2013) — US television news is a danger to the security of the United States.

First, it is so oriented to ratings that it cannot afford to do unpopular reports (thus, it ignored al-Qaeda and the Taliban for the most part before 9/11).

Second, it is so oriented toward the halls of power inside the Beltway that it is unable to examine government allegations critically.

US television news was an unrelieved cheering section for the launching of the illegal and disastrous Iraq War, which will end up costing the taxpayers many trillions of dollars, which seriously wounded 32,000 US military personnel (many of them will need help the rest of their lives), which left over 4000 soldiers, Marines and sailors dead, and which was responsible for the deaths of on the order of 300,000 Iraqis, the wounding of 1.2 million Iraqis, and the displacement from their homes of 4 million Iraqis (out of a then population of 26 million).

In 2002 and 2003, Bush administration leakers and ex-generals led the television reporters and anchors by the nose. The corporations were all for the war, and they own the news. Where on-screen talent was unwilling to go along, such as Phil Donohue or Ashley Banfield, they were just fired.

Now, corporate television news is repeating this shameful performance with regard to the revelations by Edward Snowden of massive, unconstitutional government surveillance of Americans’ electronic communications. The full failure to do proper journalism was on display on Sunday (when, unfortunately, critical voices such as Rachel Maddow are absent). Here are the propaganda techniques used to stack the deck on Sunday:

1. Focus on the personality, location, and charges against the leaker instead of the substance of his revelations.

2. Smear Snowden with ad hominem fallacies. His transit through Moscow was held up as a sign of disloyalty to the United States, as though nowadays American business people and government officials don’t transit through Moscow all the time. The US ships significant amounts of military materiel for Afghanistan through Russia. Is that treasonous?

3. Focus on politicians making empty threats against China and Russia for not being sufficiently obedient to the United States. The US can’t do anything to either one that wouldn’t hurt the US more than it did them.

4. Ignore important breaking stories that impugn the government case. For instance, The Guardian broke the story Saturday morning that the NSA PRISM program was small compared to the TEMPORA program of GCHQ, its British counterpart, which Snowden alleged has attached sniffers to the fiber optic cables that stretch from New York to London, and is vacuuming up massive amounts of email and telephone conversations.

A Lexis Nexis search in broadcast transcripts for Sunday showed that no US news broadcaster mentioned TEMPORA or GCHQ. This was true even though the NSA has 250 analysts assigned to TEMPORA and even though that program sweeps up and stores exactly the kind of material (telephone calls, emails) that President Obama denied were being collected.

5. Skew the guest list. Television news interviewed Rep. Mike Rogers (R-MI), Rep. Peter King (R-NY), Rep. Ilena Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY), and a gaggle of retired FBI and CIA figures. All of them without exception were cheerleaders for the Iraq War. Glenn Greenwald was virtually the only voice allowed on the other side. He was cut short on CNN and was at a disadvantage on television because he was on the phone from Rio.

Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR), Al Gore, Steve Wozniak, Pierre Omidyar, and a whole host of figures supportive of Snowden having told us what is going on were not invited on the air to balance the hardliners interviewed.

6. Accuse journalists of treason for reporting Snowden’s revelations. This was the absolutely shameful tack taken by David Gregory on Meet The Press, when he asked Greenwald, “To the extent that you have aided and abetted Snowden, even in his current movements, why shouldn’t you, Mr. Greenwald, be charged with a crime?” The “to the extent” and “aided and abetted” language isn’t journalism it is shilling for the most despicable elements in Congress (and that is way over on the despicable scale).

7. Ignore past government misuse of classified information. Television news has studiedly avoided referring to Dick Cheney’s outing of Valerie Plame as a CIA field officer (and therefore outing of all the CIA field officers who used the same dummy corporation as she did as a cover, as well as all local informants known to be connected to that dummy corporation).

Television anchors seem to think that the government is always trying to ‘protect’ us and is on the side of the angels, and sidestep the question of whether secret information can be used for private or shady policy purposes. Plame, by the way, is warning about the intelligence-industrial complex.

8. Continually allege or allow guests to allege that Snowden could have taken his concerns to the NSA or to Congress internally. None of his predecessors had any luck with that approach. Even sitting senators of the United States of America like Ron Wyden have been muzzled and cannot conduct a public debate on these abuses.

9. No one on television has discussed how many of the 850,000 analysts with access to secret databases containing your information work for private corporations such as Booz Allen Hamilton. That is, they aren’t even government employees. And, how much lobbying do these intelligence contractors do of Congress?

10. Focus the discussion on the alleged criminality of Snowden’s disclosures instead of on the obvious lawlessness of programs such as Tempora, which sweep up vast amounts of personal information on private individuals and store them in databases.

As Noam Chomsky has said, the way to distract the public in a democracy is to allow more and more vigorous debate about a more and more narrow set of issues. By narrowing the debate to “how illegal were Snowden’s actions?” instead of allowing the question, “how legal are the NSA’s actions,” the US mass media give the impression of debating both sides of a controversy while in fact suppressing large numbers of pertinent questions.

Posted in accordance with Title 17, Section 107, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.

More Arrests Terrorist Plots to Attack Using Small ‘Toy Drones’

June 29th, 2013 - by admin

& National Public Radio – 2013-06-29 12:12:46

http://www.npr.org/blogs/thetwo-way/2013/06/25/195548762/germany-says-its-uncovered-terrorist-plot-using-model-planes?ft=1&f=1001

Germany Says It’s Uncovered Terrorist Plot Using Model Planes
Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson / National Public Radio

(June 25, 2013) — German officials say they’ve uncovered a radical Islamist plot to use remote-controlled model airplanes packed with explosives to carry out terrorist attacks in Germany.

Police carried out nine predawn raids in southern and eastern Germany as well as Belgium in search of evidence of what prosecutors allege was a plan for a “serious, state-threatening act of violence.” There were no arrests.

The prosecutors say the plan involved at least two men, both of Tunisian origin. German N-TV says it interviewed neighbors of one of the men, who lives in a Munich apartment with his German wife. The neighbors described him as friendly but private.

Neither the suspects nor the targets of the planned attacks were identified by German authorities.

Attacks by Islamist extremists are rare in Germany, although in 2011, a Kosovo native who grew up in Germany fatally shot two U.S. airmen and wounded two others on a bus at Frankfurt International Airport.

It’s also not the first time a foiled terrorist plot involved toy aircraft. Last November, Rezwan Ferdaus of Ashland, Mass., was sentenced to 17 years in prison for planning to fly remote-controlled model planes packed with explosives into the Pentagon and US Capitol.


Alleged Terrorist Acquired Small Arsenal For Attack, FBI Says
Mark Memmott / NPR

(September 29, 2011) — More details are emerging about the alleged plot and the alleged would-be terrorist who the FBI says planned to attack the Pentagon and Capitol Building with explosives-laden small aircraft and thought he had given devices to al-Qaida operatives that could be used to kill US soldiers stationed overseas.

Those details include the weapons and other materials that the FBI says 26-year-old Rezwan Ferdaus of Ashland, Mass., acquired (with undercover operatives’ assistance).

From the affidavit filed by the FBI Wednesday:

* Ferdaus acquired “one remote controlled aircraft (F-86 Sabre), 25 pounds of C-4 explosives, 6 fully-automatic AK-47 assault rifles (machine guns), and grenades.”

* Ferdaus told undercover FBI investigators he wanted to “decapitate” the nation’s “military center” and “severely disrupt … the head and heart of the snake.”

* He said “he realized more than a year ago from viewing jihadi websites and videos ‘how evil’ America is and that jihad is the solution.”

* “Ferdaus has designed, built, and supplied more than 7 mobile phones, each of which Ferdaus had modified to act as an electrical switch for an improvised explosive device, to FBI undercover employees, who Ferdaus believed were members of, and recruiters for, al Qaeda, to purportedly be used to kill American soldiers stationed overseas.”

According to the FBI, because Ferdaus was unknowingly dealing with undercover FBI personnel, “the public was never in danger from the explosive devices. … The defendant was closely monitored as his alleged plot developed and the [undercover operatives] were in frequent contact with him.”

A physics graduate of Northeastern University, Ferdaus is a US citizen who was living in the basement of the home his family had moved into about 14 years ago, according to CBS Boston. There’s no word yet on where his family had lived before that.

He has been charged with plotting to “damage or destroy the Pentagon and U.S. Capitol” and with “attempting to provide material support and resources to a foreign terrorist organization, specifically to al Qaeda, in order to carry out attacks on US soldiers stationed overseas,” the FBI says.

As for whether the small aircraft Ferdaus allegedly acquired is capable of delivering a lethal payload, CNN reports that:

“The threat from remote-controlled aircraft needs to be put in some perspective. Even 20 pounds of high explosive might not inflict devastating structural damage on a building — especially if it were reinforced like the Pentagon. By comparison, the devastating 1995 Oklahoma City bomb involved 2.5 tons of explosive packed into the back of a truck — although much of that was a more basic form of ammonium nitrate and fuel oil.

“Even so, the force of a few pounds of C4 in a confined and crowded space such as a sports stadium or outdoor concert venue could produce mass casualties.”

The FBI affidavit says that using a public library’s computers, “Ferdaus located a number of websites that sold remote controlledplanes and learned that such planes could carry approximately 38 to 42 pounds.”

It adds that he allegedly planned to get three small planes and put 5 pounds of explosive on each. Ferdaus wanted to put 9 pounds of explosives on “bridges surrounding the Pentagon,” the affidavit alleges.

Posted in accordance with Title 17, Section 107, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.

US Army Unit Undergoes Riot Training to Suppress Protesters on Egypt-Israeli Border

June 29th, 2013 - by admin

Sarah Rafique | Killeen Daily Herald – 2013-06-29 11:59:26

http://kdhnews.com/military/unit-undergoes-riot-training/article_e5bab498-d92c-11e2-a31c-001a4bcf6878.html

FORT HOOD (June 20, 2013) — Looking through a clear shield, Pfc. Alexander Perez saw angry soldiers dressed in civilian gear, chanting and hurling Molotov cocktails past his face.

With his shoulders pressed against other soldiers in a tight formation, Perez acted instinctively as the 6th Squadron, 9th Cavalry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, conducted riot control exercises Wednesday at a Fort Hood training area.

“We’ve rehearsed it quite a few times,” Perez said. “Your adrenaline pumps a little more and your heart starts to race a little bit, but when you do it enough times, it’s really not that different. … You just focus and do what you need to do.”

The exercise was part of training to prepare more than 400 soldiers for a deployment this summer to the Sinai Peninsula in Egypt as part of the Multinational Force and Observers peacekeeping force.

During their nine-month deployment, soldiers will man posts and checkpoints along the southeast coast of the Sinai Peninsula, where they will observe and report violations of the Egyptian-Israeli peace treaty.

The peacekeeping force, which includes soldiers from 13 nations, was a result of the 1979 Camp David Peace Accords, which were signed by Egyptian President Anwar Sadat, Israeli President Menachem Begin and President Jimmy Carter.

Training Exercises
Soldiers in the squadron have been training for their mission along the Israeli-Egyptian border for six months at Fort Hood and during a rotation at the National Training Center at Fort Irwin, Calif.

“We always try to make sure they’re trained up for anything they could possibly face,” said Maj. Steven McGunegle, squadron operations officer. “We try to make sure they have all the skills to be successful.”

This week’s training focused on learning how to respond to nonlethal forces.

“Anything can be a weapon — a rock can be a weapon — and that can be just as devastating to your unit as lethal capabilities,” said 1st Lt. Matthew Wilkinson.

“(When deployed), we’re as likely to run into a lethal threat as a nonlethal threat. Our plan today was to be trained on and learn how to react to a civilian population that is unarmed but dangerous, without using lethal capabilities.”

Soldiers already gained training on cultural awareness and how to work with the Egyptian government and bedouins.

“We’ve learned that in other cultures, people approach things differently and to be cautious of religion and different people’s roles in society,” Perez said. “We don’t want to offend anyone; that’s unnecessary. So we’re going through training constantly to understand how their culture works.”

In late July, civilian academics from the Leader Development and Education for Sustained Peace will educate squadron leaders on the history of the region and the conflict between Egypt and Israel.

“They’ll talk to them specifically about the MFO mission and also about the 30-plus years of operations in the Sinai and how much it’s changed,” McGunegle said.

Perez, who will deploy for the first time, said training with experienced soldiers helps prepare for any situation he may face overseas.

“I have complete faith in this training and the instructors,” he said. “We all trust in their teaching, what they’re telling us and we’re completely confident that this (training) is going to keep us alive.”

Posted in accordance with Title 17, Section 107, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.

US-Japan War Games off the California Coast Imitate Chinese Invasion

June 29th, 2013 - by admin

RT News – 2013-06-29 11:52:32

http://rt.com/usa/california-war-games-japan-339/

(June 27, 2013) — The US and Japan are preparing for a possible Chinese invasion of the Senkaku Islands. Using a small island off the coast of California, US and Japanese forces are mimicking an armed invasion and an amphibious assault to prepare for a real-life scenario.

The unprecedented drills, code-named Dawn Blitz, are being conducted on San Clemente Island, which is 75 miles northwest of San Diego, the Christian Science Monitor reports. They began with an assault led by 80 US Marines and three MV-22 Osprey aircraft, and were followed by a Japanese counterattack using 1,000 troops and two warships. Although Japanese officials claim they are not preparing to target a third country, the exercises have made Chinese officials uncomfortable.

China and Japan have long disputed the Senkaku Islands, which are located in the East China Sea but which the Japanese government purchased from private owners in 2012. The islands are uninhabited, but believed to hold rich oil and gas deposits. The purchase triggered violent protests that tens of thousands of Chinese took part in, and harmed Sino-Japanese relations.

In the months after the purchase, the Chinese navy practiced military exercises near the islands, and joint US-Japanese naval drills subsequently occurred in the waters of the island chain. The latest drills off the California coast are only adding to tensions regarding the Senkaku Islands. Chinese officials reportedly objected to the drills, but their concerns were ignored by Washington, the Christian Science Monitor reports.

“We’re aware of China’s objections, but from a Japanese and US perspective, the object of the exercise is to build a powerful deterrent and demonstrate that the two forces are seamlessly connected — to show the Chinese that they are battle-ready,” an official source familiar with Dawn Blitz told the Monitor on condition of anonymity. “There is nothing unusual in that.”

The exercises began just two days after President Obama met with Chinese leader Xi Jinping at a California summit on June 8. But even though some believe the US is in a tricky position, the official does not believe the US is in the wrong, since the US-Japan security treaty requires the country to help Japan deter any attacks on its territory.

“I don’t think Dawn Blitz puts the US in a tricky position,” the official said. “They started the drill just after the Obama-Xi summit to avoid any diplomatic repercussions. But the fact that Japan and the US went ahead with the exercise also sends a message — that they are on the same page when it comes to deterring possible Chinese aggression.”

Lt. Gen. Koichi Isobe, Japan’s vice chief of staff, told reporters that Japan’s self-defense forces (SDF) need to develop the capabilities to ward off any attacks that might occur on the remote islands.

“The defense of remote islands is a pressing issue, but the SDF [Japan’s self-defense forces] has just begun training to develop such capabilities, which are required of US Marines,” Japan’s vice chief of staff, Lt. Gen. Koichi Isobe, told reporters. “Japan needs to determine its defense strategy and procure necessary equipment and train SDF members for this purpose.”

The US has publicly refused to take sides regarding the Senkaku Islands, but its training exercises with Japan may inadvertently cause a shift in its neutrality.

Posted in accordance with Title 17, Section 107, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.

Stuxnet Virus Leak Traced to One of Obama’s Top Generals

June 28th, 2013 - by admin

NBC Nightly News & The Guardian – 2013-06-28 01:50:33

http://www.nbcnews.com/id/3032619/#52334927

Stuxnet Virus Leak Traced to One of Obama’s Top Generals
Brian Williams / NBC Nightly News

(June 27, 2013) – NBC News has learned the former number two man in the Joint Chiefs at the Pentagon — a now-retired Marine Corps four-star general with a close working relationship with President Obama — is under investigation for leaking a top secret government project called the Stuxnet virus. It wormed its way into computers that ran Iran’s nuclear program.

The leak of its existence did damage to US efforts against Iran. The president vowed to find the person responsible. Now comes our report tonight. His name is James Cartwright, known as “hoss” — his call-sign as a fighter pilot. He is the target of a criminal investigation by the Department of Justice into a leak of intelligence. We begin tonight with our National Investigative Correspondent Michael Isikoff.

Isikoff: General Cartwright was in member of President Obama’s inner circle of National Security Advisors, but legal sources tell NBC that Cartwright has been notified that he is the target of a Justice Department criminal investigation into a highly sensitive leak about a covert US cyber attack on Iran’s nuclear program.

President Obama: My attitude has been zero tolerance for these kinds of leaks. These are criminal acts when they release information like this.

Isikoff: The New York Times last year broke the story that President Obama had secretly ordered a stepped-up cyber weapon attack, using a malicious computer virus known as Stuxnet and that Cartwright conceived and oversaw the special operation from the Pentagon.

Cartwright: (speaking at the Wilson School): We’re trying to build a second cyber-force right now.

Reporter: Cartwright did not respond for a request for comment from NBC News. Contacted today, his lawyer, former White House counsel Gregory Craig, said only: “I have no comment.”

The Times story told key details about the Stuxnet attack, including its code name, “Olympic Games,” the cooperation of Israeli intelligence [Note: This phrase was omitted from the official posted NBC transcript] and its success in disabling nearly 1,000 Iranian centrifuges to enrich uranium.

Jane Harman, Defense Policy Board: This leak was very damaging. Clearly what was going on here was a method and it should have been protected and I think it’s had devastating consequences.

Isikoff: The FBI originally focused on whether the leak came from the White House, but late last year, agents started zeroing in on Cartwright, who had retired from the pentagon in 2011. The motives of whoever leaked, remain a mystery.

Steven Aftergood, Federation of American Scientists: There are many reasons why people leak classified information. Sometimes it’s to attack a program. sometimes it’s to defend it, many times we just never know.

Isikoff: White House and Justice Department officials declined to comment on any aspect of the case, but legal sources tell NBC news that federal prosecutors have developed their case without issuing any subpoenas for phone records from the New York Times.


Former US General James Cartwright Named in Stuxnet Leak Inquiry
The Guardian

(June 27, 2013) — A retired US general, James Cartwright, is the target of a Justice Department investigation into the leaking of secret information about the Stuxnet virus attack on Iranian nuclear facilities in 2010, NBC News reported on Thursday, citing unidentified legal sources.

NBC said Cartwright, once the second highest ranking officer in the US military, was being investigated over the leaked information about the computer virus, which temporarily disabled 1,000 centrifuges used by Iran to enrich uranium, setting back its nuclear programme.

A “target” is someone a prosecutor or grand jury has substantial evidence linking to a crime and who is likely to be charged.

The Justice Department referred questions to the US attorney’s office in Baltimore, where a spokeswoman, Marcia Murphy, declined to comment.

The New York Times published a detailed account of the Stuxnet program in June last year, in which it said President Barack Obama had decided to accelerate US cyber attacks, which began under George W Bush.

The story was based on 18 months of interviews with “current and former American, European and Israeli officials involved in the program, as well as a range of outside experts”, the Times said in its story.

Cartwright, a four-star general who is now retired, was vice-chairman of the joint chiefs of staff from 2007 to 2011. The Times reported that he was a crucial player in the cyber operation called Olympic Games, started under Bush.

Bush reportedly advised Obama to preserve Olympic Games. According to the Times, Obama ordered the cyberattacks to be accelerated, and in 2010 an attack using a computer virus called Stuxnet temporarily disabled 1,000 centrifuges that the Iranians were using to enrich uranium.

Congressional leaders demanded a criminal investigation into who leaked the information, and Obama said he had zero tolerance for such leaks. Republicans said senior administration officials had leaked the details to bolster the president’s national security credentials during the 2012 campaign.

The Times said Cartwright was one of the crucial players who had to break the news to Obama and vice-president Joe Biden that Stuxnet had escaped onto the Internet.

An element of the program accidentally became public in the summer of 2010 because of a programming error that allowed it to escape Iran’s Natanz plant and sent it out on the internet, the Times reported. After the worm escaped, top administration officials met to consider whether the program had been fatally compromised.

Obama asked if the program should continue, and after hearing the advice of top advisers, decided to proceed.

The US and other Western countries believe the Iranian nuclear enrichment programme is aimed at building atomic weapons, while Tehran says it is solely for civilian energy purposes.

Posted in accordance with Title 17, Section 107, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.

Pentagon Says Internet Censorship (aka ‘Network Hygiene’) Is ‘Routine’ and ‘Armywide’

June 28th, 2013 - by admin

Phillip Molnar / Monterey Herald – 2013-06-28 01:44:22

http://www.montereyherald.com/local/ci_23554739/restricted-web-access-guardian-is-army-wide-officials

Restricted Web Access to The Guardian Is Armywide, Officials Say
Phillip Molnar / Monterey Herald

(June 27, 2013) — The Army admitted Thursday to not only restricting access to The Guardian news website at the Presidio of Monterey, as reported in Thursday’s Herald, but Armywide.

Presidio employees said the site had been blocked since The Guardian broke several stories on data collection by the National Security Agency.

Gordon Van Vleet, an Arizona-based spokesman for the Army Network Enterprise Technology Command, or NETCOM, said in an email the Army is filtering “some access to press coverage and online content about the NSA leaks.”

He wrote it is routine for the Department of Defense to take preventative “network hygiene” measures to mitigate unauthorized disclosures of classified information.

“We make every effort to balance the need to preserve information access with operational security,” he wrote, “however there are strict policies and directives in place regarding protecting and handling classified information.”

In a later phone call, Van Vleet said the filter of classified information on public websites was “Armywide” and did not originate at the Presidio.

Presidio employees described how they could access the US site, www.guardiannews.com, but were blocked from articles, such as those on the NSA, that redirected to the British site.

According to sources at the Presidio, Jose Campos, the post’s information assurance security officer, sent an email to employees Thursday morning saying The Guardian‘s website was blocked by Army Cyber Command “in order to prevent an unauthorized disclosure of classified information.”

NETCOM is a subordinate to the Army Cyber Command, based in Fort Belvoir, Va., according to its website.

Campos wrote if an employee were to accidently download classified information it would result in “labor intensive” work, such as the wipe or destruction of the computer’s hard drive.

He wrote that an employee who downloads classified information could face disciplinary action if found to have knowingly downloaded the material on an unclassified computer.

The Guardian‘s website has classified documents on the NSA’s program of monitoring the phone records of Verizon customers, a project called Prism which gave the agency “direct access” to data held by Google, Facebook, Apple and others, and more.

The source of the leaks, 29-year-old Edward Snowden, is on the run from American authorities. He is a former contractor for the agency.

Van Vleet said the department does not determine what sites its personnel can choose to visit on the DOD system but “relies on automated filters that restrict access based on content concerns or malware threats.”

He added that it would not block “websites from the American public in general, and to do so would violate our highest-held principle of upholding and defending the Constitution and respecting civil liberties and privacy.”

The Guardian declined to comment but its editor-in-chief, Alan Rusbridger, sent a link to The Herald‘s story on Twitter.

Phillip Molnar can be reached pmolnar@montereyherald.com.

Posted in accordance with Title 17, Section 107, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.

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