Tomgram: Engelhardt, You Are Our Secret
Posted by Tom Engelhardt at 4:29pm, June 16, 2013.
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The Making of a Global Security State
The Five Uncontrollable Urges of a Secrecy-Surveillance World
By Tom Engelhardt
The Five Uncontrollable Urges of a Secrecy-Surveillance World
By Tom Engelhardt
As happens with so much news these days, the Edward Snowden revelations about National Security Agency (NSA) spying and just how far we’ve come in the building of a surveillance state have swept over us 24/7 -- waves of leaks, videos, charges, claims, counterclaims, skullduggery, and government threats. When a flood sweeps you away, it’s always hard to find a little dry land to survey the extent and nature of the damage. Here’s my attempt to look beyond the daily drumbeat of this developing story (which, it is promised, will go on for weeks, if not months) and identify five urges essential to understanding the world Edward Snowden has helped us glimpse.
1. The Urge to be Global
Corporately speaking, globalization has been ballyhooed since at least the 1990s, but in governmental terms only in the twenty-first century has that globalizing urge fully infected the workings of the American state itself. It’s become common since 9/11 to speak of a “national security state.” But if a week of ongoing revelations about NSA surveillance practices has revealed anything, it’s that the term is already grossly outdated. Based on what we now know, we should be talking about an American global security state.
Much attention has, understandably enough, been lavished on the phone and other metadata about American citizens that the NSA is now sweeping up and about the ways in which such activities may be abrogating the First and Fourth Amendments of the U.S. Constitution. Far less attention has been paid to the ways in which the NSA (and other U.S. intelligence outfits) are sweeping up global data in part via the just-revealed Prism and other surveillance programs.
Sometimes, naming practices are revealing in themselves, and the National Security Agency’s key data mining tool, capable in March 2013 of gathering “97 billion pieces of intelligence from computer networks worldwide,” has been named “boundless informant.” If you want a sense of where the U.S. Intelligence Community imagines itself going, you couldn’t ask for a better hint than that word “boundless.” It seems that for our spooks, there are, conceptually speaking, no limits left on this planet.
Today, that "community" seeks to put not just the U.S., but the world fully under its penetrating gaze. By now, the first “heat map” has been published showing where such information is being sucked up from monthly: Iran tops the list (14 billion pieces of intelligence); then come Pakistan (13.5 billion), Jordan (12.7 billion), Egypt (7.6 billion), and India (6.3 billion). Whether you realize this or not, even for a superpower that has unprecedented numbers of military bases scattered across the planet and has divided the world into six military commands, this represents something new under the sun. The only question is what?
The twentieth century was the century of “totalitarianisms.” We don’t yet have a name, a term, for the surveillance structures Washington is building in this century, but there can be no question that, whatever the present constraints on the system, “total” has something to do with it and that we are being ushered into a new world. Despite the recent leaks, we still undoubtedly have a very limited picture of just what the present American surveillance world really looks like and what it plans for our future. One thing is clear, however: the ambitions behind it are staggering and global.
In the classic totalitarian regimes of the previous century, a secret police/surveillance force attempted, via every imaginable method, including informers, wire tappers, torture techniques, imprisonment, and so on to take total control of a national environment, to turn every citizen’s life into the equivalent of an open book, or more accurately a closed, secret file lodged somewhere in that police system. The most impressive of these efforts, the most global, was the Soviet one simply because the USSR was an imperial power with a set of disparate almost-states -- those SSRs of the Caucasus and Central Asia -- within its borders, and a series of Eastern European satellite states under its control as well. None of the twentieth-century totalitarian regimes, however, ever imagined doing the same thing on a genuinely global basis. There was no way to do so.
Washington’s urge to take control of the global communications environment, lock, stock, and chat room, to gather its “data” -- billions and billions of pieces of it -- and via inconceivably powerful computer systems, mine and arrange it, find patterns in it, and so turn the world into a secret set of connections, represents a remarkable development. For the first time, a great power wants to know, up close and personal, not just what its own citizens are doing, but those of distant lands as well: who they are communicating with, and how, and why, and what they are buying, and where they are travelling, and who they are bumping into (online and over the phone).
Until recently, once you left the environs of science fiction, that was simply beyond imagining. You could certainly find precursors for such a development in, for instance, the Cold War intelligence community’s urge to create a global satellite system that would bring every inch of the planet under a new kind of surveillance regime, that would map it thoroughly and identify what was being mapped down to the square inch, but nothing so globally up close and personal.
The next two urges are intertwined in such a way that they might be thought as a single category: your codes and theirs.
2. The Urge to Make You Transparent
The urge to possess you, or everything that can be known about you, has clearly taken possession of our global security state. With this, it’s become increasingly apparent, go other disturbing trends. Take something seemingly unrelated: the recent Supreme Court decision that allows the police to take a DNA swab from an arrestee (if the crime he or she is charged with is “serious”). Theoretically, this is being done for “identification” purposes, but in fact it's already being put to other uses entirely, especially in the solving of separate crimes.
If you stop to think about it, this development, in turn, represents a remarkable new level of state intrusion on private life, on your self. It means that, for the first time, in a sure-to-widen set of circumstances, the state increasingly has access not just -- as with NSA surveillance -- to your Internet codes and modes of communication, but to your most basic code of all, your DNA. As Justice Antonin Scalia put it in his dissent in the case, “Make no mistake about it: As an entirely predictable consequence of today’s decision, your DNA can be taken and entered into a national DNA database if you are ever arrested, rightly or wrongly, and for whatever reason.” Can global DNA databases be far behind?
If your DNA becomes the possession of the state, then you are a transparent human being at the most basic level imaginable. At every level, however, the pattern, the trend, the direction is the same (and it’s the same whether you’re talking about the government or giant corporations). Increasingly, access to you, your codes, your communications, your purchases, your credit card transactions, your location, your travels, your exchanges with friends, your tastes, your likes and dislikes is what’s wanted -- for what’s called your “safety” in the case of government and your business in the case of corporations.
Both want access to everything that can be known about you, because who knows until later what may prove the crucial piece of information to uncover a terrorist network or lure in a new network of customers. They want everything, at least, that can be run through a system of massive computers and sorted into patterns of various potentially useful kinds. You are to be, in this sense, the transparent man or transparent woman. Your acts, your life patterns, your rights, your codes are to be an open book to them -- and increasingly a closed book to you. You are to be their secret and that “you” is an ever more global one.
3. The Urge to Make Themselves Opaque
With this goes another reality. They are to become ever less accessible, ever more impenetrable, ever less knowable to you (except in the forms in which they would prefer you to know them). None of their codes or secrets are to be accessed by you on pain of imprisonment. Everything in the government -- which once was thought to be “your” government -- is increasingly disappearing into a professional universe of secrecy. In 2011, the last year for which figures are available, the government classified 92 million documents. And they did so on the same principle that they use in collecting seemingly meaningless or harmless information from you: that only in retrospect can anyone know whether a benign-looking document might prove anything but. Better to deny access to everything.
In the process, they are finding new ways of imposing silence on you, even when it comes to yourself. Since 2001, for instance, it has become possible for the FBI to present you with a National Security Letter which forces you to turn over information to them, but far more strikingly gags you from ever mentioning publicly that you got such a letter. Those who have received such letters (and 15,000 of them were issued in 2012) are legally enjoined from discussing or even acknowledging what’s happening to them; their lives, that is, are no longer theirs to discuss. If that isn’t Orwellian, what is?
President Obama offered this reassurance in the wake of the Snowden leaks: the National Security Agency, he insisted, is operating under the supervision of all three branches of the government. In fact, the opposite could be said to be true. All three branches, especially in their oversight roles, have been brought within the penumbra of secrecy of the global security state and so effectively coopted or muzzled. This is obviously true with our ex-professor of Constitutional law and the executive branch he presides over, which has in recent years been ramping up its own secret operations.
When it comes to Congress, the people’s representatives who are to perform oversight on the secret world have been presented with the equivalent of National Security Letters; that is, when let in on some of the secrets of that world, they find they can’t discuss them, can’t tell the American people about them, can’t openly debate them in Congress. In public sessions with Congress, we now know that those who run our most secret outfits, if pushed to the wall by difficult questions, will as a concession respond in the “least untruthful manner” possible, as Director of National Intelligence James Clapper put it last week.
Given the secret world’s control over Congress, representatives who are horrified by what they’ve learned about our government’s secrecy and surveillance practices, like Democratic Senators Ron Wyden and Mark Udall, can only hint at their worries and fears. They can, in essence, wink at you, signal to you in obscure ways that something is out of whack, but they can’t tell you directly. Secrecy, after all.
Similarly, the judiciary, that third branch of government and other body of oversight, has, in the twenty-first century, been fully welcomed into the global security state’s atmosphere of total secrecy. So when the surveillance crews go to the judiciary for permission to listen in on the world, they go to a secret court, a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance (FISA) court, locked within that secret world. It, in turn, notoriously rubberstamps whatever it is they want to do, evidently offering no resistance whatsoever to their desires. (Of the 6,556 electronic surveillance requests submitted to the court in Obama’s first term in office, for instance, only one was denied.) In addition, unlike any other court in America, we, the American people, the transparent and ignorant public, can know next to nothing about it. And you know perfectly well why: the overriding needs of secrecy.
What, though, is the point of “oversight” if you can’t do anything other than what that secret world wants you to do?
We are, in other words, increasingly open to them and they are increasingly closed to us.
4. The Urge to Expand
As we’ve known at least since Dana Priest and William Arkin published their stunning series, “Top Secret America,” in the Washington Post in 2010, the U.S. Intelligence Community has expanded post-9/11 to levels unimaginable even in the Cold War era. Then, of course, it faced another superpower, not a small set of jihadis largely located in the backlands of the planet. It now exists on, as Arkin says, an “industrial scale.” And its urge to continue growing, to build yet more structures for surveillance, including a vast $2 billion NSA repository in Bluffdale, Utah, that will be capable of holding an almost unimaginable yottabyte of data, is increasingly written into its DNA.
For this vast, restless, endless expansion of surveillance of every sort and at every level, for the nearly half-million or possibly far more private contractors, aka “digital Blackwater,” now in the government surveillance business -- about 70% of the national intelligence budget reportedly goes to the private sector these days -- and the nearly five million Americans with security clearances (1.4 million with top security clearances, more than a third of them private contractors), the official explanation is "terrorism." It matters little that terrorism as a phenomenon is one of the lesser dangers Americans face in their daily lives and that, for some of the larger ones, ranging from food-borne illnesses to cars, guns, and what’s now called “extreme weather,” no one would think about building vast bureaucratic structures shrouded in secrecy, funded to the hilt, and offering Americans promises of ultimate safety.
Terrorism certainly rears its ugly head from time to time and there’s no question that the fear of some operation getting through the vast U.S. security net drives the employees of our global security state. As an explanation for the phenomenal growth of that state, however, it simply doesn’t hold water. In truth, compared to the previous century, U.S. enemies are remarkably scarce on this planet. So forget the official explanation and imagine our global-security-state-in-the-making in the grips of a kind of compulsive disorder in which the urge to go global, make the most private information of the citizen everywhere the property of the American state, and expand surveillance endlessly simply trumps any other way of doing things.
In other words, they can’t help themselves. The process, the phenomenon, has them by the throat, so much so that they can imagine no other way of being. In this mood, they are paving the way for a new global security -- or rather insecurity -- world. They are, for instance, hiking spending on “cybersecurity,” have already secretly launched the planet’s first cyberwar, are planning for more of them, intend to dominate the future cyber-landscape in a staggering fashion, continue to gather global data of every sort on a massive scale, and more generally are acting in ways that they would consider criminal if other countries engaged in them.
5. The Urge to Leak
The massive leaks of documents by Bradley Manning and Edward Snowden have few precedents in American history. Daniel Ellsberg’s Pentagon Papers leak is their only obvious predecessor. They are not, however, happenstances of our moment. They are signs of what’s to come. If, in surveillance terms, the urge to go global and impose ultimate secrecy on both the state’s secrets and yours, to prosecute whistleblowers to the maximum (at this point usually via the Espionage Act or, in the case of Manning, via the charge of “aiding the enemy,” and with calls of “treason” already in the air when it comes to Snowden), it’s natural that the urge to leak will rise as well.
If the surveillance state has reached an industrial level of operations, and ever more secrets are being brought into computer systems, then vast troves of secrets exist to be revealed, already cached, organized, and ready for the plucking. If the security state itself goes global, then the urge to leak will go global, too.
In fact, it already has. It’s easy to forget that WikiLeaks was originally created not just for American secrets but any secrets. Similarly, Manning uploaded his vast trove of secrets from Iraq, and Snowden, who had already traveled the world in the service of secrecy, leaked to an American columnist living in Brazil and writing for a British newspaper. His flight to Hong Kong and dream of Icelandic citizenship could be considered another version of the globalizing impulse.
Rest assured, they will not be the last. An all-enveloping atmosphere of secrecy is not a natural state of being. Just look at us individually. We love to tell stories about each other. Gossiping is one of the most basic of human activities. Revealing what others don’t know is an essential urge. The urge, that is, to open it all up is at least as powerful as the urge to shut it all down.
So in our age, considering the gigantism of the U.S. surveillance and intelligence apparatus and the secrets it holds, it’s a given that the leak, too, will become more gigantic, that leaked documents will multiply in droves, and that resistance to regimes of secrecy and the invasion of private life that goes with them will also become more global. It’s hard from within the U.S. to imagine the shock in Pakistan, or Germany, or India, on discovering that your private life may now be the property of the U.S. government. (Imagine for a second the reaction here if Snowden had revealed that the Pakistani or Iranian or Chinese government was gathering and storing vast quantities of private emails, texts, phone calls, and credit card transactions from American citizens. The uproar would have been staggering.)
As a result of all this, we face a strangely contradictory future in which ever more draconian regimes of secrecy will confront the urge for ever greater transparency. President Obama came into office promising a “sunshine” administration that would open the workings of the government to the American people. He didn’t deliver, but Bradley Manning, Edward Snowden, and other leakers have, and no matter how difficult the government makes it to leak or how hard it cracks down on leakers, the urge is almost as unstoppable as the urge not to be your government’s property.
You may have secrets, but you are not a secret -- and you know it.
Tom Engelhardt, co-founder of the American Empire Project and author of The United States of Fear as well as a history of the Cold War, The End of Victory Culture (just published in a Kindle edition), runs the Nation Institute's TomDispatch.com. His latest book, co-authored with Nick Turse, is Terminator Planet: The First History of Drone Warfare, 2001-2050.
Follow TomDispatch on Twitter and join us on Facebook or Tumblr. Check out the newest Dispatch book, Nick Turse’s The Changing Face of Empire: Special Ops, Drones, Proxy Fighters, Secret Bases, and Cyberwarfare.
Copyright 2013 Tom Engelhardt
Our rulers and masters would tell us what is going on but then they would have to kill us.ReplyDelete
Most Americans are good with that, after all, they have nothing to hide and the government being a bunch of virtuous mother fuckers, what’s the problem?
Amendments to the Constitutions come and go, actually they mostly go, so what’s the problem?
Once again, if you want serious news instead on mental floss, forget the US MSM.ReplyDelete
Everybody thought it was cool when our guys shut down the Iranian centrifuges by way of the stuxnet worm. Did they think that was done by a couple of PFCs in the basement at the Pentagon?ReplyDelete
The size of the Intelligence Community's budgets have been written about for 6 Decades (what's it up to now - $40 Billion?)ReplyDelete
What did John Q. Citizen think that $40 Billion (almost the size of the Afghanistan War budget) was being spent on?
All those stories about Chinese, and Russian hackers - Did you really think we weren't "fighting back?"
Shocked. Shocked, I tells ya.Delete
Cut it out Deuce. The Eloi are comfortable, the sheeple contented. Don't rock the boat.
People like James Bamford have been writing about the NSA's capabilities for decades. In 2008, the whole scam was laid out in his book The Shadow Factory.
There was a little furor early on when it was found out that the government had a seperate room at AT&T where they were linked into the phone lines, but we were assured it was merely geared towards foreign phone traffic passing through the US. Then everyone went back to sleep.
Personally, I'd rather have those lifer sonofabitches playing computer games than trying to figure out how to "Win" a nuclear war.ReplyDelete
And, I'm a little bit by our cyberwarfare capabilities as I am by our stealth, missile defense, and nuclear submarine capabilities. I want them to be so strong as to say "don'teventhinkaboutit."
You seriously underestimate what has happened here.ReplyDelete
No, I don't.Delete
I do remember how mad everyone was after 9-11, that the Intelligence agencies had been unable to "Connect the Dots."Delete
The entire country went dotty. But WTH , we are all Mujahadeen now.ReplyDelete
Nah, we're the same as we've always been (since J. Edgar Hoover was made head of the FBI, anyway.)Delete
Not much brighter, but a little slicker technologically, maybe.
What has happened here is a stealth coup by a security apparatus on a scale without precedent. It was done without debate, without thought and with the implied belief that authority and government is improved with the unlimited ability to act upon its best instincts.ReplyDelete
You can’t defend that.
A "Coup" is an overthrow of the government, with a new regime taking power. Where has that happened, here?
Are you saying that the NSA now Controls the elected government? That the NSA can, now, override the President, the Congress, and the Courts?Delete
What seems evident is that the permanent government operates pretty much independently of the elected government.Delete
Much as Ike, who everyone liked, warned US was happening, back in 1960 or was it 1961...
Fifty years on, it is a fait accompli.
Rufus IIWed Jun 19, 07:09:00 AM EDTDelete
Are you saying that the NSA now Controls the elected government? That the NSA can, now, override the President, the Congress, and the Courts?
Ask the Captain of the USS Liberty....
NSA controlled, ordered and in violation of DIRECT Presidential and Military orders.
More nitwittery from the burbs of Ohio.
Really? Why? To suggest that the Liberty was taken over by the NSA makes perfect sense.Delete
Explains a lot actually....
So rather than the personal attack, post something of substance.
If you can.
We've gone through this before. The subject comes up at least a couple times a year here. I've argued it with you on more than one occasion.
To claim that a US ship was taken over by NSA pirates in a move that was then covered up by the entire crew, officers and seamen alike, despite the slaughter that was visited upon them and the 34 that were killed (171 wounded) is too bizarre to believe except by those desparately seeking justification for an act that can't be justified.
To suggest that the Liberty was taken over by the NSA makes perfect sense.
As I say, like much of alternative crypto-history you provide us on an ongoing basis, pure nitwittery.
The move wasnt covered up by the crew, the ship was ordered to go where it was told.Delete
To claim that the NSA never violates the law is funnier than all get out...
It's quite simple really.
Liberty was violating standing orders and was 100 MILES off location.
It was a spy ship.
it was spying.. The NSA? they spy... On everyone including Americans.
As we just learned.
I guess the denile aint just river in egypt
I guess the denile aint just river in egypt
You should know. Just the other day you were offering up links on the 'official' US inquires on the Liberty incident to try to excuse Israeli actions. Today you are back to pushing the fairy tales of John Loftus and Mark Aarons. I guess the paranoid will grasp at any port in the storm.
Chapter 12 of The Secret War Against the Jews titled The Liberty Incident starts on page 259 of the book. In the third paragraph in, citing ‘our sources,’ the authors claim that no, it wasn’t the Israelis, no it wasn’t the Arabs, no it was ”…Western spies who indirectly started the  war. And it gets better from there.
The authors, continuously citing “our sources” and “old spies,” then go on to weave a graphic novel version of events whereby rogue agents of the NSA take over the Liberty in order to draw up the order of battle of the Israeli combat forces and pass them on through the British to the Egyptians. This ignores the fact that LBJ was a pure bastard and if any organization under him decided to go outside the lines on their own he would have strung them up by the balls.
The authors make the point that the official post-incident stories by the US and Israeli government were obviously cover-ups, something that no one here ever doubted (other than Allen, although it’s hard to tell whether he actually believed it or not). However, they also admit that their ‘true version’ is based on circumstantial evidence. So it comes down to who are you going to believe.
LCDR James Ennes was an officer on the bridge of the Liberty during the 1967 incident. Here is his response to the chapter on the Liberty contained in The Secret War Against the Jews.
Who do you believe?
LCDR James Ennes: an officer on the Liberty when it was attacked
Mark Aarons: Other than his collaborations with John Loftus it’s a little hard to find out much about old Mark, other than that he is Australian and was raised in a communist family and was in the party himself and an organizer before taking up writing. He has also been accused of being an apologist for the Soviet Union. Here is a review of his latest book.
Sorry. I was going to post a copy of his achievements (as written by himself) but his blog has been shut down. However, Wiki confirms that he previously claimed that "As a young U.S. Army officer, John Loftus helped train Israelis on a covert operation that turned the tide of battle in the 1973 Yom Kippur War."
Well there you go.
Wiki states John Joseph Loftus (February 12, 1950) is an American author, former US government prosecutor and former Army intelligence officer. He is a president of The Intelligence Summit and, although he is not Jewish, a president of the Florida Holocaust Museum. Loftus also serves on the Board of Advisers to Public Information Research. He currently resides in St. Petersburg, Florida.
Loftus was also a commentator on his radio show and on Fox News until 2005. He was fired from Fox for handing out the address of alleged terrorist Iyad K. Hilal. Unfortunately, Hilal hadn’t lived at the address for years and an innocent family that was living there was harassed, vandalized, and required police protection as a result of Loftus’ words.
However, if you want to really know John Loftus, read the following Wiki entry for The Intelligence Summit of which he is organizer and president. The summit is primarily funded by Michael Cherney who "has been investigated or blacklisted on suspicion of money laundering, illegal business deals and connections to the Russian mafia by half a dozen European countries and barred from entry by the U.S. authorities" due to ”…his indictment on various charges in Russia and Israel.”
John Loftus has come under fire from former representatives of the International Holocaust Education Center, who are concerned about him using the organization's tax-exempt status improperly to promote his intelligence activities
Wiki calls Loftus’ books ‘controversial’. I would classify them pure fiction along the lines of Dan Brown’s novels, that is, if I was convinced that Dan Brown was also a loose cannon and con man.
Who you going to trust?
We have an imperial presidency, a legislature that passes laws without reading them, written by a corpratocracy supported by a permanent bureaucracy and state security system without any effective oversight beyond what the president deems necessary.ReplyDelete
What could possibly go wrong?ReplyDelete
The CEO of the United States has always had great power. Our system is designed (or, evolved, quickly) that way. That's why we make such a big deal out of electing one. It IS important.ReplyDelete
Now, the part about the Corpratocracy/Plutocracy writing their own laws, and their paid shills voting them in has a lot of merit, but is an entirely different kettle of fish.
Two types of fish, boiling in the same kettleDelete
Her red dress with studs of goldReplyDelete
About her breasts
Matches Her lipstick
Her eyes like coal
Match Her black hair
Her teeth are ivory
Her skin tawny
And She shines
Nothing else matters...
Sometimes She laughsDelete
Like a Young Girl
And She gives
A slight jump
And the words flow from Her lips
In a cascade of joy...
May the prophet be willing, we are all Mujahadeen nowReplyDelete
Rebels attacked a main highway in northern Syria on Wednesday, opposition groups said, to try to choke off a major supply line for President Bashar Assad's forces in the region.
Assad's troops, backed by battle-hardened Lebanese Hezbollah fighters and emboldened by their capture of a strategic border town, are starting an offensive to regain the rebel-dominated north and remaining rebel strongholds around Damascus.
The pro-opposition Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the rebels had seized an army checkpoint on the Ariha-Latakia stretch of an international highway that goes through Syria's biggest city, Aleppo, to the Turkish border.
Other rebel groups said opposition forces had seized three checkpoints and needed to capture three more to cut off army access to the M5 highway.
"This is a very important battle in our move to put a stranglehold on regime supply lines from its stronghold on the coast into the north, particularly to Idlib city, which is one of the regime's last footholds in Idlib province," said Mohammed Fizo, a rebel spokesman speaking by Skype.
"The regime is responding by shelling the highway and sending fighter jets to bomb nearby villages."
Assad's forces aim to retake Aleppo, where they have been mired in a bloody stalemate with rebels for nearly a year.
World powers remain at odds about how to handle the Syrian crisis, which dominated the Group of Eight conference this week but led to no political breakthroughs. The United States wants Assad removed and has promised to arm the rebels, while Russia, the Syrian leader's main arms supplier, opposes these policies.
May the prophet be willing, we are all Mujahadeen nowReplyDelete
(Reuters) - The moment the young fighter walks in, it's clear he's different. He has a grey robe, a scraggly beard and a gun holster - hallmarks of the rebels who control this part of the northwest. But he wears Adidas trainers. And his accent and swagger are pure London.
The young man sits at a small table, accepts the tea offered by his hosts, and asks to be called by his war name, Abu Khaled. He is 23 years old and lived in England his whole life, he says, but came to Syria four or five months ago to join the fight against President Bashar al-Assad.
"I didn't know anybody to be honest," he said. When he arrived, on his own, he met fighters from Jabhat al-Nusra, an ultraconservative Islamist faction affiliated with al Qaeda's Iraqi branch. They helped him buy a gun, and put him on the front lines outside Aleppo, Syria's largest city.
Precise estimates of how many Britons have taken up arms alongside Syria's rebels are hard to come by. British intelligence officials say they believe there are 'dozens'.
It wasn't easy at first, Abu Khaled said. He had never been to Syria. He learned some Arabic from his mother, who is Syrian, but it is still weak. His parents were afraid. To call them, he had to ask permission - his commanders took his cell phone and passport which they said was to guard against spies.
Echoes of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade, in the Spanish Civil War.Delete
Now it is the Islamoids fighting Fascists, instead of the Communists.
The Communists have renounced their Marxist ideology, embracing crony capitalism and Jesus Christ instead.
May the prophet be willing, we are all Mujahadeen nowReplyDelete
As they ran past a Japanese tourist, she said, one of the men fired into the woman’s face from a range of about 15 inches.
The gunmen “took all the young women, the girls, and disappeared with them. I don’t know where they went with the women, but they hurt them. We could hear screams of pain,” Dousse said.
Among the horrors, the marauders cut off the ears and noses of several of their victims. A note praising Islam was found inside one disemboweled body.
The foreign dead included 31 Swiss, 10 Japanese, five Germans, four Britons one a child a Bulgarian, a Colombian and a French citizen. The Japanese victims were four newlywed couples and an elderly couple on their second honeymoon.
This is Morsi’s new Egypt. Take a long hard look at it. This is what Obama has brought to power.
A member of the movement whose gunmen killed 58 foreigners at a temple in Luxor in 1997 was sworn in by Egyptian President Mohamed Mursi on Monday as governor of the vital tourist region.
Adel Mohamed al-Khayat, who now represents the Building and Development Party, political wing of the once violent al-Gamaa al-Islamiya movement
Organizers and supporters of the attack quickly realised that the strike had been a massive miscalculation and reacted with denials of involvement. The day after the attack, al-Gama'a al-Islamiyya leader Refa'i Ahmed Taha claimed the attackers intended only to take the tourists hostage, despite the evidence of the immediate and systematic nature of the slaughter. Others denied Islamist involvement completely.Delete
Sheikh Omar Abdel-Rahman blamed Israelis for the killings, and Ayman Zawahiri maintained the attack was the work of the Egyptian police.
How anyone could lay responsibility for the results of a foreign election on an elected official of the United States, beyond comprehension.Delete
Especially when that elected official could not even guarantee his own reelection, here in the US.
How in the world could he/she deliver Egypt to any particular group or candidate ...
... without US military intervention and occupation?
The Egyptian Army, the US security partner in Egypt, would not fire on Egyptians, and for that the US President is to be held liable?
Get a grip.
In reality, Obama can't be blamed for anything.
Just ask him.
We could, if he was around.Delete
May the prophet be willing, we are all Mujahadeen nowReplyDelete
The French intervention in Mali has lead to many interesting revelations about the direction that Al-Qaeda has been going in recent years. Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb had its headquarters based in the historic city of Timbuktu prior to French intervention. Since French air raids have lead to the retreat of AQIM from northern Mali, teams of soldiers and journalists have been analyzing multiple documents within the Timbuktu library. The analyzed documents have shed light upon the world's most infamous terrorist organization.
The Associated Press has discovered a 26-page manuscript instructing students of Al-Qaeda on the proper handling of surface-to-air missiles. The particular concern from Washington is that these missiles can be used to take down commercial aircraft. The missiles are known as SA-7 missiles and intelligence sources have strong reason to believe that the weapons were acquired during the overthrow of Moammar Ghadaffi.
This is not the only Al-Qaeda cell believed to be in possesion of SA-7 missiles. There is reason to believe that the weapons are circulating throughout Afghanistan and Iraq, as well as Somalia. The United States sought to gain possesion of Ghadaffi's stockpile but by the time they had reached Libya it was too late.
May the prophet be willing, we are all Mujahadeen nowReplyDelete
The U.S. troops currently in Jordan participating in the military exercise Eager Lion plan to leave the country Thursday when the training ends. But the Pentagon says they'll be leaving behind a detachment of F-16s and U.S. Patriot missiles at Jordan's request.
Stars and Stripes reports some U.S. service members will stay in Jordan with the missiles and jets, but according to a Pentagon spokesman:
“All other U.S. personnel assigned to Jordan for Eager Lion will depart at the conclusion of the exercise.”
It's estimated at least 470,000 Syrian refugees have crossed the border into neighboring Jordan. And Jordan's King Abdullah II has expressed concern that the violence in Syria will spill over into his country.
According to Reuters:
The Patriot missiles could be used to protect U.S. ally Jordan against any possible missile attack as the Syrian war threatens to widen into a more regional, sectarian conflict.
As Home Post reported last week, Eager Lion is an annual partnership exercise between the United States and Jordan. There are more than 8,000 troops from 19 countries taking part in Eager Lion.
You'll find video posted up top, courtesy of Army Broadcasting, of Marine Colonel Patrick Connelly (Exercise Deputy for Eager Lion 13) explaining that troops who must stay behind in Jordan with their equipment post-Eager Lion are "proud and honored" to do so.
‘proud and honored”ReplyDelete
Can’t you just picture the white walled gung ho mother fucker that coined that beauty?
It’s a secret … and even the secret is a secret.ReplyDelete
The government has been secretly collecting information from many major Internet companies, including Google, Apple, Yahoo and Facebook, and a secret court order has prevented the Internet giants from even talking about it.
On Tuesday, Google fought back against the government’s restrictions, asking for the right to reveal more information about the data being demanded as part of Prism, the recently revealed highly classified National Security Agency program that seizes records from Internet companies.
“We have long pushed for transparency so users can better understand the extent to which governments request their data,” the company wrote on Google+. “We have petitioned the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court to allow us to publish aggregate numbers of national security requests, including FISA disclosures, separately. Lumping national security requests together with criminal requests—as some companies have been permitted to do—would be a backward step for our users.”
Google has published a Transparency Report for years, which tabulates the information various governments have demanded and the Internet company’s compliance with those requests. But little information about the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) requests and the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court that acts them are included.
A note on the Transparency Report page explains: "On June 11, 2013, we asked the Department of Justice and FBI to allow us to publish aggregate numbers of national security requests for data, including FISA disclosures — in terms of both the number we receive and their scope. We await a response."
The news comes on the same day that Yahoo revealed how many requests for user data it has received from U.S. government agencies, putting the number between 12,000 and 13,000 in the six months that ended on May 31.
Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/tech/2013/06/19/google-pushes-secret-court-to-lift-gag-order-on-secret-surveillance/#ixzz2Wg4rKz20
Ok, so here's the deal. My Congressman is Mike Rogers, chair of the House Intelligence Committee. Now, I realize that on rare occasions,in the heat of the moment, I might get a wee bit opinionated so I have tried to tone down the following e-mail to old Mike so that it reflects my usual measured MO. Please let me know if you think even this neutered version is likely to get me renditioned or made to 'disappear'.
Dear Representative Bishop,
This communication is to register my disapproval of your position regarding the domestic surveillance currently being conducted by the U.S. Government under programs such as the metadata vacuuming by the NSA, Prism, and Boundless Informant. I believe that in their present form and scope they are overly intrusive, that their effectiveness has yet to be proven, and that their cost, given the abuse of privacy and liberty that are inflicted on the American public, is not justified. I am disappointed that a prominent elected official from the State of Michigan would take the positions on this matter you have espoused in the press.
The governemnt posits the argument, “Trust us.” But how can we trust you when the Director of National Intelligence admits lying to congress on these matters. How can we trust you when the Director of the NSA offers us pablum such as that the programs ‘helped’ prevent ‘potential’ terrorist events,but when asked for details, tells us "Gee, I'd like to tell you but it's secret. In fact, it is so secret that, though we claim authority for them under sections of the Patriot Act, we are unwilling to talk about or provide source documents that explain the limits of that authority, if any, we believe the law gives us. That too is ‘top secret’. National security, don’t you know."
And lest you write me off as a tin-foil hatted conspiracy nut, I would suggest you look at the polls. Though the results vary depending on how the question is asked, you will see that in all of them a great many people agree with me. Likewise, many of your colleagues also share my concerns. James Sensenbrenner has indicated that the current programs go way beyond anything envisioned under the original Patriot Act. John Conyers, Jerrold Nadler, and Bobby Scott agree. Patrick Leahy forced Gen. Alexander to admit during Congressional testimony that he couldn’t point to a single instance where the metadata program was ‘directly’ responsible for preventing a terrorist attack. Jeff Merkley challenged Gen. Alexander on the legality of the programs given his reading of the Patriot Act and was told by the general that he would have to get back to him, something I don't believe has happened. Rand Paul (and others in Congress) have called various sections of the Patriot Act unconstitutional and are seeking a SCOTUS review.
I voted for you in the last election. However, this issue is so basic, I can’t in conscience do it again. There is little I, as an ordinary citizen, can do to influence the debate on this matter; however, I can guarantee that if the opportunity arises, I will voice my disapproval at the ballot box.
I hope that, when you copy and pasted that letter to the email to Rep Rogers, you changed the name.Delete
Shit, good catch. Luckily, I haven't sent it yet.
Mike Bishop was my state senator and ran the Michigan State Senate before he got term limited out in 2010.
The following article is actually about the testimony of the the IRS Inspector General, J. Russell George, but it brings up an important point about IG's in general under the Obama administration.
Similar questions have been raised about other IGs who somehow have been discarded. Amtrak IG Fred Weiderhold, Treasury special IG Neil Barofsky, and International Trade Commission IG Judith Gwynn all left their positions after disputes that weren’t appreciated by the administration, giving more reason for others to go easy with the administration. Further, the president has significantly failed to fill IG vacancies in important agencies (State, Interior, Labor, Homeland Security, and USAID) – well-documented by former IG Joseph Schmitz — demeaning the importance of the IG position.
I'm not sure how long all the various IG spots have been open, but I do know that there has been no IG at State for Obama's entire term, none even nominated.
May the prophet be willing, we are all Mujahadeen now:ReplyDelete
(Reuters) - As the Syrian civil war got under way, a former electrician who calls himself Sheikh Omar built up a brigade of rebel fighters. In two years of struggle against President Bashar al-Assad, they came to number 2,000 men, he said, here in the northern city of Aleppo. Then, virtually overnight, they collapsed.
Omar's group, Ghurabaa al-Sham, wasn't defeated by the government. It was dismantled by a rival band of revolutionaries - hardline Islamists.
The Islamists moved against them at the beginning of May. After three days of sporadic clashes Omar's more moderate fighters, accused by the Islamists of looting, caved in and dispersed, according to local residents. Omar said the end came swiftly.
The Islamists confiscated the brigade's weapons, ammunition and cars, Omar said. "They considered this war loot. Maybe they think we are competitors," he said. "We have no idea about their goals. What we have built in two years disappeared in a single day."
The group was effectively marginalized in the struggle to overthrow Syria's President Bashar al-Assad. Around 100 fighters are all that remain of his force, Omar said.
It's a pattern repeated elsewhere in the country. 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.
World powers fear weapons could reach hardline Islamist groups that wish to create an Islamic mini-state within a crescent of rebel-held territory from the Mediterranean in the west to the desert border with Iraq.
That prospect is also alarming for many in Syria, from minority Christians, Alawites and Shi'ites to tolerant Sunni Muslims, who are concerned that this alliance would try to impose Taliban-style rule.
One analyst pointed out that no matter which way Syria goes it is set up for three civil wars, the current one, then regardless of who wins, the winners mass slaughter of the losers, and third the ongoing sectarian battle between Sunni, Shia, etc.
The conflict in Syria can truly be called an existential battle. If Assad loses, he is a dead man a la Ghadafi.
Investigators from the first probe of doomed TWA Flight 800 called Wednesday for a new examination of the tragedy, resurrecting old claims that a missile downed the plane.ReplyDelete
A half-dozen people involved in the original inquiry into the July 17, 1996, blast that killed 230 people on a Paris-bound flight out of JFK Airport claimed new evidence supports the oft-suggested missile theory.
"We're are not speculating in the least," insisted Tom Stalcup, co-founder of the Flight 800 Independent Researchers Organization.
Read more: http://www.nydailynews.com/news/national/new-film-feeds-conspiracy-theories-crash-twa-flight-800-article-1.1376580#ixzz2WgtYR24v
"How about Operation Mysterious Sphinx", Hamdoon said. "Even though it is in Syria and is a play on words."ReplyDelete
"How about Operation Sphincter" I replied. "Operation Mysterious Sphincter?"
"Very good", Hamdoon replied, over his Alawite ale with a pagan and Christian twist.
"How is it with you and your new niece?"
"Excellent, at last report. And I am totally in love with her, like any normal uncle. She has put herself in my safety. And She has promised me that she will not marry a German, though she says they are all nice."
"She retains then something of the old Brahmanic superiority it would seem. You know from my telling you Egypt got it's outlook in the form of a white bull from the east, the myths moving east, from India. This is good. How does she take your Christianity, which must seem foolishness to her."
"I showed her my old church., the land given by the family. I did not detect any positive or negative response by her, she was more interested in the street names.
I have not spoken to her about religiosity or spirituality as of yet, Hamdoon. She may have some of my Aryan genes. She is lovely beyond compare. "
"That is wise, bob. Keep the least important topics fore the last. It is much better to go floating. Everyone enjoys that."
The myths moving from the east....ReplyDelete
from India to the west...to Egypt..Delete
It is the same icon graphy, the very same use of the imagery, the very same thought. The very same judgement scene and the same beginning of true human thought.
You are now responsible for what you do with you life and can now be judged for it.
It is the coming of the gods.
Just in from Tiki==ReplyDelete
HEy uclce bob don't do that please. The EB sounds like big steaming pile of you know what./
Rufus is Mississippi moron.
I promise not to marry a German or a deuce either uncle bob.
Hugs and big bear hug and sloppy kiss your niece..
That guy Quirk o sound like crazy.
Can we trust him on six day river trip?
Deuce maybe, ust maybe...
Uncle bob wanted you dead, before you were born, TIKI.Delete
Abort the colored babies, he advocated for, back in November of 2008.
Lucky you, being born sooner, well before Uncle bob demands sending "the browns" in the United States to the Gulag
Was that before or after you were in central america teaching the natives to murder civilians?Delete
RAt is crazy.Delete
A born loser he will never be by a true woman loved.Delete
No, anoni, I and the US left that training to the Israeli.Delete
Weaponry for the Guatemalan military is the very least of what Israel has delivered.
Israel not only provided the technology necessary for a reign of terror, it helped in the organization and commission of the horrors perpetrated by the Guatemalan military and police. And even beyond that: to ensure that the profitable relationship would continue, Israel and its agents worked actively to maintain Israeli influence in Guatemala.
Throughout the years of untrammeled slaughter that left at least 45,000 dead, and, by early 1983, one million in internal exile - mostly indigenous Mayan Indians, who comprise a majority of Guatemala's eight million people - and thousands more in exile abroad,
Israel stood by the Guatemalan military. Three successive military governments and three brutal and sweeping campaigns against the Mayan population, described by a U.S. diplomat as Guatemala's "genocide against the Indians," had the benefit of Israeli techniques and experience, as well as hardware.
Israel began selling Guatemala weapons in 1974 and since then is known to have delivered 17 Arava aircraft. In 1977 at the annual industrial fair, Interfer, Israel's main attraction was the Arava. "An operative Arava is to be parked outside the IAI pavilion for public inspection, although its silhouette in flight is a common sight over the capital and countryside."'
Referring to the Aravas, Benedicto Lucas Garcia, chief of staff during the rule of his brother Romeo Lucas Garcia (1978-1982) said, "Israel helped us in regard to planes and transportation-which we desperately needed because we've had problems in transferring ground forces from one place to another. By 1982, at least nine of the Aravas had been mounted with gun pods.
Among the other weapons sold by Israel were 10 RBY armored personnel carriers, three Dabur class patrol boats armed with Gabriel missiles, light cannons, machine guns and at least 15,000 Galil assault rifles. The Galil became Guatemala's standard rifle and Uzis were widely seen as well.
According to Victor Perera, "Uzis and the larger Galil assault rifles used by Guatemala's special counterinsurgency forces accounted for at least half of the estimated 45,000 Guatemalan Indians killed by the military since 1978"
former Israeli intelligence officer Ari Ben-Menashe, who described some of the history behind Israel’s activities in Guatemala in his 1992 memoir,Profits of War.Delete
Ben-Menashe traced the Israeli arms sales to Guatemala back to a private network established in the 1970s by Gen. Ariel Sharon during a gap when he was out of the government. Sharon’s key representative in Guatemala was a businessman named Pesach Ben-Or, and through that channel, Israel supplied military gear to Guatemala’s security services in the 1980s, Ben-Menashe wrote.
In an interview on Thursday, Ben-Menashe said the Israelis supplied a total of six helicopters to the Guatemalans along with computers and software to keep track of alleged subversives who could then be identified and executed. Ben-Menashe said he learned of the mass slaughters during his travels to Guatemala and reported back to his Israeli superiors about the atrocities involving the equipment that they had authorized. The response, he said, was concern but inaction.
Israelis did recognize that they were assisting in mass murders of dark-skinned Guatemalans.
“As we saw it, they [Guatemalan military authorities] were targeting all non-white villagers who were sitting on fertile lands that the white Guatemalans wanted,” he said, adding that he reported this information to his superiors, ... [For more on Ben-Menashe's work for Israeli intelligence, see Robert Parry's Secrecy & Privilege and America's Stolen Narrative.]
The Israeli knowing of the need for Lebensraum by the fair skinned people that could pay them for their weapons, did nothing.Delete
They approved of genocide, in both Guatemala and Palestine.
Performance counts, history is clear on the Israeli involvement in the Guatemalan genocide.
Israelis did recognize that they were assisting in mass murders of dark-skinned Guatemalans.Delete
Must be why Uncle boobie is such a fan of the Israeli, they teach killing the brown skinned folk, as a matter of political and military doctrine.
Policies that Uncle boobie has long advocated for.
Gen. Benedicto Lucas Garcia, who had headed the (Guatemalan) army at the time said in 1983 that there were 300 Israeli advisers in Guatemala, working "in the security structures and in the army." Other reports were less specific as to numbers, but suggested that these Israeli advisers, "some official, others private," performed a variety of functions. Israelis "helped Guatemalan internal security agents hunt underground rebel groups."Delete
Michael "Mike" Harari (born 1927) was an Israeli intelligence officer in the Mossad.Delete
Harari is a former agent in the Mossad, Israel's intelligence agency, who gained prominence as a figure in business and arms dealings between Israel and Panama, of which he was reported to take hefty commissions. Harari also trained anti-terrorist and private security squads for Noriega.
When Congress forbade U.S. forces to train the internal police forces of other countries-passed in 1974, the Israelis stepped in and "set up their intelligence network, tried and tested on the West Bank and Gaza."
Israeli noncommissioned officers were also said to have been hired by big landowners to train their private security details. (Under Marcos, Israel did the same in the Philippines. These private squads, together with "off-duty military officers formed the fearsome 'death squads' which later spread to neighboring El Salvador, where they have been responsible for an estimated 20,000-30,000 murders of left-wing dissidents."
How can you stand to be around a man like that, uncle bob?ReplyDelete
He is chilly willie.
I don't want him in on my river trip/
Q OK. Deuce Ok. Sam for sure.
But no rat in my boat, please.