Category Archives: Tyranny

The Ukraine: Neo-Nazi criminal state looming in the centre of Europe

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By Oriental Review: February 24, 2014

“There are many who do not know they are fascists but will find it out when the time comes.” -Ernest Hemingway, For Whom the Bell Tolls

After signing a void agreement on “crisis settlement” on Friday, the situation in Ukraine has rapidly got out of control of its signatories and “witnesses”. No provisions of this document were fulfilled. The legitimate authorities fled (or tried to flee) the country, the governmental buildings in Kiev are taken by the revolutionary mob. The radicals are dictating the new rules to façade opposition “leaders” who desperately try to bridle the Maidan.

What happened to Ukraine on February 21, 2014 is essentially a criminal coup committed by the radical armed anarchists and Ukrainian Nazis who have been enjoying a comprehensive financial, military, diplomatic and even religious support and instigation from the Western power groups for the last two decades. Many of Ukraine’s cities are now falling into the chaos of lootings, unprovoked violence, lynch law and political repressions.

The first signs of upcoming chaos were clearly seen as the Ukrainian authorities wavered at the three-month siege of the centre of Kiev by the radical guerrilla elements from Galicia and local criminal gangs. They watched silently when furious fanatics were burning unarmed riot police Berkut officers alive, lynching them and pulling out their eyes. They did nothing to stop frantic “freedom fighters” from storming regional administrations, humiliating the officials and looting police and military arsenals in the West Ukraine. They were paralyzed when unidentified snipers were cool-bloodily killing militia personnel, protesters and casual passer-bys from the roofs of Kiev’s buildings. They even declared amnesty (twice!) to those guilty of the brutal crimes against policemen and public order. Thus Yanukovych’s regime itself paved the way for a sinister ghost of the war-torn Libya to come to Ukraine.

Is the guerrilla side a self-organized and self-indoctrinated popular movement tired of a corrupt and inefficient state? That is hardly the case.

Since the collapse of the Soviet Union the international power groups have invested billions of the Federal Reserve notes (aka US$) into Ukrainian “pro-democratic” NGOs and politicians. While preaching “Ukrainian commitment to the European choice and democratic values” in the meantime they clearly saw that there is no short-term historical perspective for making Ukraine a state hostile to Russia, which is evidently the final goal of the globalist Eastern policy. The stakes were placed on the ultranationalist elements in the Western Ukraine and in the Uniate Church, a minority religious Greek-Catholic community of the Eastern rite, created by the Holy See in XVI century in a desperate attempt to weaken close ties of Rzeczpospolita’s Orthodox with Moscow. Since the early 1990s the Uniates enjoyed silent support of the newly-independent central authorities in Kiev. Theit tactic was to aggressively occupy Orthodox cathedrals on the canonic territory of the Moscow Patriarchate. The last thing the Uniate clergy used to preach in the occupied churches for all these years was the Christian call for repentance and peace. Instead they propagated a new crusade against the Orthodox and directly instigated and justified race-motivated prosecutions and even killings, acting exactly like radical jihadist preachers of the militant pseudo-Islamic sects. Suffice to watch a “Sunday sermon” by Mykhailo Arsenych, the clergyman from a local Uniate church in Ivano-Frankovsk region, Ukraine saying: “Today we are really ready for a revolution.The only effective methods of combat are assassination and terror! We want to be sure that no Chinese, Negro, Jew or Muscovite will try to come and grab our land tomorrow!”

The products of such indoctrination were not long in coming. A number of NATO-sponsored training centers for the Ukrainian ultranationalist militants were opened on the territory of the Baltic states immediately after they joined NATO in 2004. The detailed photo report on a Ukrainian group taking a course of subversive activities at a NATO training center in Estonia in 2006 is available here (texts in Russian).

Abundant financial and human resources were directed to bolster the paramilitary units of the radical UNA-UNSO, Svoboda and other ultranationalist organizations in the Ukraine. Since 1990s these thugs were participating in the Chechen and Balkan wars on the side of radical Wahhabi (!) militants and committing war crimes against captured Russian and Serbian soldiers and civilian population. One of the notorious guerilla fighters of the Ukrainian origin in Chechnya, Olexander Muzychko (aka criminal leader Sasha Biliy) today is heading a brigade of “Pravyi Sector”, the radical militant driving force of the ongoing coup d’état in Kiev. According to his “official” biography, in 1994 he was awarded by the then top commander of terroristIchkeria enclave Dzhohar Dudayev with the order “Hero of Nation” for “outstanding military successes against Russian troops”. His “military skills” were quite specific: he used to lure the Russian units operating in remote Chechen locations to guerilla ambushes. Then he personally participated in tortures and beheadings of the captured Russian soldiers. After returning to the Ukraine in 1995, he led a criminal gang in Rovno. Eventually he was prosecuted and sentences for 8 years term for kidnapping for ransom and attempted assassination of a Ukrainian businessman. He entered politics after release from prison in late 2000s.

After the end of Chechen and Balkan wars the British and American private military contractors were routinely recruiting Ukrainian mercenaries for operations in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria and elsewhere.The Britam Defense scandal revealed the way and scale of how the Ukrainian personnel of the private military contractors were used in provocative clandestine actions to meet Western political goals in the Middle East. Many of them were sent to Kiev to make the job they are paid for – to target both policemen and protesters on “Euromaidan” from the roofs of surrounding buildings.

The real leaders of the protest have already clearly expressed their radical views to the European press (read e.g. the interview with the Pravyi Sector leader Dmitro Yarosh and several recent Guardian’s publications).

(Read more & find links to sources at Oriental Review)

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The Canadian Government is Using Temporary Foreign Workers to Keep Wages Low

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By Alan Jones
Vice: January 9, 2014

In 2012, the Conservative government introduced legislation that allowed employers to pay foreign workers 15% less than their Canadian counterparts. These rules applied explicitly to workers who came to Canada as a part of the Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP), here to work on a short term basis with no path to permanent residency or citizenship.This legislation was remarkable in that it skipped the usual left-wing arguments for immigration and multiculturalism as a humane form of nation-building and jumped immediately into the right-wing scenario of immigrants arriving in Canada to work for less money than their domestic counterparts. Only in Canada, where it’s commonly believed that immigration is necessary for economic sustainability, could a right-wing government implement an immigration policy that plays directly into the fears of reactionary conservative paranoia.

Even a cursory glance at statistics on the predatory employment policies migrant workers face are alarming: According to a Citizen and Immigration study conducted by the government in 2011, 22 percent of temporary foreign workers were paid less than minimum wage, 25 percent did not receive pay information that showed a record of deductions or hours worked, and 39 percent of workers who worked overtime hours never received overtime pay. Another 32 percent received overtime pay “rarely” or “sometimes.”

Officially, the TFWP is meant to fill holes in Canada’s labour market, providing workers for industries in which Canadians themselves were unwilling to work. In every case, the employer of a foreign worker must provide evidence that there were no Canadian workers available for a given position by requesting a Labour Market Opinion from the government. For a brief time the government actually gave employers a monetary incentive to bypass Canadians and hire cheaply from the international labour market, so it’s hard to believe that any business involved in the program was actually encouraged to try to find Canadian job candidates. In order to further understand this policy and the reasons behind it, I talked to Jeffrey Reitz, a Professor of Sociology at the University of Toronto who has written extensively on Canadian Immigration policy: “There’s been a lot of criticism about it and it’s difficult to understand how the government is not undercutting Canadian workers when the plan is exclusively allowing them to pay less.”

Cut to April 2013: The CBC reports that the Royal Bank of Canada laid off dozens of workers and replaced them with temporary workers from India. In British Columbia, a Chinese mining company advertised for jobs that required the knowledge of Mandarin. When they couldn’t find enough Mandarin speakers in Western Canada (big surprise), they brought in 201 temporary workers from China. “What’s been done has been to use the extensiveness of advertising as the evidence and so the employers put forward that they’ve advertised here and there and all the normal places and haven’t had any applicants,” said Reitz. “But even that, it’s very difficult to know whether they’ve actually done that or what’s the credibility of the information submitted, so it’s a very murky area.”

After a series of controversies, the Conservatives were forced to create new rules for the program which came into effect this year, including a $275 employer fee for a permit, the right for government officials to conduct workplace inspections, and the cancellation of both the two-tier wage system and the accelerated labour market opinion, which allowed for a sped up process to bring in workers. But at this point, Conservative reforms are like poorly applied band-aids on self-inflicted wounds. Since taking office, the TFWP has tripled in size, even growing during the recession. In 2011, nearly half a million temporary foreign workers came to Canada while the Conservative government cut down on family reunification visas and made it harder for refugees to get healthcare.

There are now more temporary workers coming to Canada every year than permanent workers. Many of them come to Canada with little understanding of their rights, leaving them vulnerable to workplace abuse. Even though government officials can now legally inspect workplaces to prevent abuse, the new regulations that went into effect at the beginning this year have also dropped the ban on providing temporary foreign workers to employers with criminal convictions in human trafficking, sexually assaulting an employee, or causing the death of an employee. A shift in policy like that can only raise questions the safety of these low paid workers and whether or not the government is encouraging work environments that are up to Canadian standards.

“When the government puts out the figures on the number of temporary foreign workers being brought into the country, what are the skill levels of those workers?” said Reitz. “In many cases, they’ll emphasize that many of them are high skill. But exactly what the skill breakdown is, is not something for which, as far as I’m aware, reliable statistics are available.” While government officials might emphasize the presence of high skilled workers, many can be found in low skill environments, including the oil, agriculture, and construction industries. The CBC even interviewed a McDonald’s franchise owner in Fernie, BC who used the program to staff his fast food restaurant.

This is the dark side of Canadian immigration policy. Workers from the developing world are brought to Canada to work for low wages on a temporary basis while immigrants that could set up roots in this country are discouraged. With the Temporary Foreign Worker Program, the Conservative government is facilitating the worst practises of economic globalization. We’re used to the idea of outsourcing work to another country, but the Conservatives have allowed international outsourcing to occur within our own borders, forcing Canadian workers to compete with an international labour pool that has a far lower standard of living, causing “downward pressure” on wages and discouraging employers from providing training or incentives to hire.

(read the full article at Vice)


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Pussy Riot – Putin will teach you how to love the motherland / Путин научит тебя любить Родину

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Pussy Riot’s new video, called “Putin will teach you how to love the motherland” includes footage of the band’s protests.

The band told a news conference their treatment in Sochi is symptomatic of dissent being stifled in Russia:

“The Olympics has turned the police state into a total police state and the authoritarian regime into a totalitarian regime with preventive arrests,” Tolokonnikova said. “The Olympics has created an environment of sweeping violations of human rights in Russia. We are banned from speaking out here.”

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Attorney for Edward Snowden Interrogated at U.K. Airport, Placed on “Inhibited Persons List”

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Democracy Now: December 18, 2014

Four journalists who revealed the National Security Agency’s vast web of spying have been awarded the 2013 George Polk Awards in Journalism. Glenn Greenwald, Laura Poitras, Ewen MacAskill of The Guardian and Barton Gellman of The Washington Post were among the winners announced on Sunday. Even as the journalists who broke the stories based on Edward Snowden’s leaks were awarded one of journalism’s highest honors, a lawyer who represents Snowden was recently detained while going through customs at London’s Heathrow Airport. Jesselyn Radack joins us today to tell her story. Radack says she was subjected to “very hostile questioning” about Snowden and her trips to Russia. Radack also learned she might be on an “inhibited persons list,” a designation reportedly used by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to require further vetting of certain passengers. Radack is just one of a growing number of people who are being stopped, harassed and interrogated for their work around Snowden, WikiLeaks and National Security Agency documents. Radack is the director of National Security & Human Rights at the Government Accountability Project, the nation’s leading whistleblower support organization.

This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

NERMEEN SHAIKH: Four journalists who revealed the National Security Agency’s vast web of spying have been awarded the 2013 George Polk Awards in Journalism. Glenn Greenwald, Laura Poitras, Ewen MacAskill of The Guardian and Barton Gellman of The Washington Post were among the winners announced on Sunday. Even as the journalists who broke the stories based on Snowden’s leaks were awarded one of journalism’s highest honors, a lawyer who represents Snowden was detained while going through customs at London’s Heathrow Airport. Jesselyn Radack told Firedoglake she was subjected to, quote, “very hostile questioning” about Snowden and her trips to Russia. Radack also learned she might be on an inhibited persons list, a designation reportedly used by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to require further vetting of certain passengers. After the Polk Awards were announced, Glenn Greenwald tweeted, quote, “In the UK government, this is known as the George Polk Award for Excellence in Terrorism.”

Jesselyn Radack is just one of a growing number of people who are being stopped, harassed and interrogated for their work around Edward Snowden, WikiLeaks and National Security Agency documents. In this clip, we hear from journalist Laura Poitras, computer security researcher Jacob Appelbaum, and then journalist Glenn Greenwald’s partner David Miranda, who have all been stopped and interrogated in airports.

LAURA POITRAS: I’ve actually lost count of how many times I’ve been detained at the border, but it’s, I think, around 40 times. And on this particular trip, lately they’ve been actually sending someone from the Department of Homeland Security to question me in the departing city, so I was questioned in London about what I was doing. I told them I was a journalist and that, you know, my work is protected, and I wasn’t going to discuss it.

JACOB APPELBAUM: I was targeted by the U.S. government and essentially, until the last four times that I’ve flown, I was detained basically every time. Sometimes men would meet me at the jetway, similarly, with guns.

DAVID MIRANDA: [translated] I stayed in a room with three different agents that were entering and exiting. They spoke to me, asking me questions about my whole life. They took my computer, my video game, cellphone, everything.

AMY GOODMAN: That was journalist Glenn Greenwald’s partner David Miranda; before him, computer security researcher Jacob Appelbaum and journalist Laura Poitras. You can go to our website to see our interview with Jacob Appelbaum and Laura Poitras at But all of them have been interrogated at airports, as has most recently Jesselyn Radack, the attorney representing Edward Snowden, joining us from London. She is a former ethics adviser to the U.S. Department of Justice under George W. Bush, currently director of National Security & Human Rights at the Government Accountability Project, the nation’s leading whistleblower organization.

(read the full transcript at Democracy Now)


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Pussy Riot attacked with whips by police at Sochi

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Russian punk group Pussy Riot is attacked by government security forces as they try to perform under a sign for the Sochi Olympics

Cossack militia attacked the Pussy Riot punk group with horsewhips on Wednesday as the group staged an impromptu performance under a sign advertising the Sochi Olympics.

Six group members — five women and one man — donned their signature ski masks and were pulling out a guitar and microphone when at least 10 Cossacks and other security officials moved in.

One guard appeared to use pepper spray, another whipped several group members while others ripped off their masks and threw the guitar in a rubbish bin.

Police arrived and questioned witnesses, but no one was arrested.

The Cossacks violently pulled masks from women’s heads, beating group member Nadezhda Tolokonnikova with a whip as she lay on the ground.

(read the full report at The Telegraph)


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Boston Hospital Takes Custody Of Mutiple Children Against Parents’ Will

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Exposed: Boston Hospital Takes Custody Of MULTIPLE Children Against Parents’ Will

By Kristin Tate

It has been over a year since 15-year-old Justina Pelletier was taken custody by the Boston’s Children’s Hospital. Her parents, Lou and Linda Pelletier, are still fighting to get their daughter back.

Years ago doctors diagnosed Justina with mitochondrial disease, which causes loss of muscle control. Despite this diagnosis, Justina was able to live a happy and relatively normal life with her family in Connecticut. She was very active and enjoyed various sports such as ice skating.

When Justina got the flu last February, she was taken to Boston Children’s Hospital. Doctors at Boston Children’s Hospital claimed that she has somatoform disorder, not mitochondrial disease. Somatoform disorder is a mental disorder — not a physical one, like mitochondrial disease.

After this diagnosis was made, the hospital ordered that Justina be taken off all of her mitochondrial and pain medication. Lou and Linda did not think this was the best plan of action and wanted to bring their daughter home. Officials would not allow that. The parents were subsequently escorted out of the hospital by security personnel. Only four days later, they found out they had lost custody of their daughter due to “both parents’ resistance towards recommended treatment plans” and “overmedicalizing” the girl. They are heartbroken and furious.

Justina’s case has the attention of many citizens around the nation, but it turns out there are other children in similar situations.

According to the Boston Globe, in the last 18 months Boston Children’s hospital took custody of children or seriously threatened to do so at least five times. The Globe reported, “It happens often enough that the pediatrician who until recently ran the child protection teams at both Children’s and Massachusetts General Hospital said she and others in her field have a name for this aggressive legal-medical maneuver. They call it a ‘parent-ectomy.’”

The Boston Globe reported that in most cases where hospitals take custody of a child, parents reject the suggested medical treatment. This typically occurs when doctors diagnose the child with a psychiatric disease, but the parents think the condition is a physical one.
Pediatrician Carole Jenny said, “If the parent won’t work with you, and you really think the child is suffering, you’ve got to act.”

Boston Childen’s Hospital took custody of one 5-year-old around the same time that Justina was admitted. Just like Lou and Linda, the girl’s parents were also escorted out of the facility by security. The 5-year-old’s first night in the hospital was the first time she had ever spent a night without a family member.

In another case, the hospital tried to take custody of Jessica Hilliard’s son Gabriel, who is being treated for mitochondrial disease. Hilliard said, “The fact that Children’s has so much power that they can get us in trouble with a totally different hospital across the city is appalling.”

Boston Children’s Hospital and its representatives refuse to comment on any specific cases, but maintain that decisions are made in the child’s best interest in every case.

But who really knows what is in the child’s “best interest?” Critics of the hospitals’ actions argue that such decisions should be left up to parents.

Those who favor parents’ rights see taking custody as an absurd action where the hospital acts completely out-of-line. Such situations become even more controversial when the parents’ views are backed by other pediatricians.

(read the full report at Ben Swann)


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WikiLeaks and the Release of the Secret TPP Environment Report

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By Martin J. Frid
The Asia-Pacific Journal: January 27, 2014

WikiLeaks has done it again – made available important documents that governments and corporate interests have tried to keep secret from the general public. Until this new release, we had almost no idea what was going on within the secret Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations involving an extraordinarily diverse group of 12 large and small as well as rich and poor nations of East and Southeast Asia, Australasia, and North and South America. The twelve are Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, the United State and Vietnam, with the US driving the agenda. South Korea and Taiwan have also indicated that they may want to join. This time, we get a glimpse of the status of the Environment Chapter with important implications for the people and nature of the region. Wikileaks Press Release

In this cartoon accompanying the release, WikiLeaks shows Mickey Mouse crossing his fingers while promising that “Of course, the environment is in the TPP!” Note the corporate logos symbolizing Texaco and Apple, while the (usually copyrighted) Disney character is singing his merry tune to the crowd of birds and geese (or are they ducks?) representing environmental organization. Crossing fingers can mean wishing for luck but, of course, it also signifies breaking a promise. How appropriate.

We have been told by its proponents that TPP is about reducing and eliminating “trade barriers” and making the world a better place, at least for countries that sign up for this deal. Critics of TPP have responded that it will destroy small-scale agriculture, tighten the corporate grip over intellectual property rights and subvert democratic rule-making. Many people have participated in large-scale protests, including in Japan. It has been difficult, however, to discern the nature of the agreement, since documents have been kept hidden from the general public throughout the protracted negotiations.

In 2010 when the debate about TPP as another Free Trade Agreement started in earnest in Japan, long-term trade critic Yamaura Yasuaki noted: “First of all, we note the negative results that FTA has brought. Examples include environmental destruction and the effect on wildlife as tropical forests have been cut down for palm oil production, and worsening conditions for factory workers as developing countries compete to increase exports at the lowest possible price. From many regions, there are also worrying reports of how staple food production has been sacrificed to export-oriented food production. Moreover, large investments and the expansion of financing have led to deprivation and debt in developing countries. Deregulation and free trade is also the main factor behind the collapse of the industrial order here in Japan, and we consider it directly responsible for deteriorating labour conditions.”

By early 2014 observers were wondering whether significant progress was indeed being made, and what direction TPP would eventually take. How would this trade pact influence obligations to protect the environment and health? Since this is not being negotiated in a transparent way, would the new trade regime undermine efforts to deal with climate change and loss of biological diversity? Enter WikiLeaks on January 15 with the release of a very important report from the chair of one of the many working groups, dealing with the Environment Chapter. WikiLeaks has previously released other documents, including an earlier draft of the Chapter on Intellectual Property Rights, that the US had proposed, which the other countries rejected. The IP Chapter has been seen as a being so contentious that it was holding up the entire process. Now we learn that there is just as much controversy surrounding the Environment Chapter.

TPP has been billed as an ambitious, 21st-century trade agreement. To live up to this, environmental organizations including the World Wildlife Fund and the Sierra Club have insisted that any new trade rules set up a mechanism for dealing with trade in products such as timber or species of animals or plants that are considered rare and near extinction. And many international treaties and conventions have been carefully negotiated elsewhere (usually under United Nations auspices) to make the world a better place by safeguarding the environment. Would TPP overrule these other treaties and conventions? Or might it establish better, more effective environmental protection? The Wikileaks revelations provide the first clear answers to these questions.

One problem is that the United States, the driving force in the negotiations, has not ratified several of the most important recent treaties pertaining to the environment, including the UN Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) or the UN Climate Change Convention (FCCC). Another problem is that TPP involves both developed and developing economies, with different priorities.

(read the full article at The Asia-Pacific Journal: Japan Focus)


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Government steals $10K from man without evidence of crime

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Ontario man can’t get his $10K in suspected drug money back, judge rules

By Allison Jones
The Canadian Press: February 17, 2014

A man from North Bay, Ont., cannot reclaim $10,000 in suspected drug money that police seized after they found it in several wads stuffed in his pockets, a judge has ruled.

Jason Paquette at various times told police the source of the money was none of their business, that it was to buy a car and that it was his savings, and explained he didn’t keep it in the bank because he didn’t want any of it taken for child support, the Ontario Superior Court judge wrote in his ruling.

“I am not persuaded by Paquette’s explanation as to why he kept the money on his person,” Judge M. Gregory Ellies wrote.

“There are many safer places to keep $10,000 in cash other than in your pants.”

A police officer spotted Paquette and his girlfriend in a heated argument in downtown North Bay close to midnight on Sept. 10, 2012. When the officer approached and asked if everything was all right, Paquette swore, took his dog’s leash off and swung it over his head, saying “Come get some,” according to Ellies’ decision earlier this month.

Paquette was arrested and later charged with public intoxication. When he was searched police found $10,000 in five bundles held together with elastic bands, the judge wrote.

The police seized the money and the Crown went to court for a forfeiture order, arguing it was either the proceeds of unlawful activity, an instrument of unlawful activity, or both.

There was no direct evidence that the money came from a drug transaction or was going to be used for one.

But the judge wrote that he was satisfied from the Crown’s circumstantial evidence — including Paquette’s two previous drug possession convictions and his failure to “adequately explain the source and purpose of the funds” — that the money was either to be used in a crime or was the proceeds of a crime.

The judge said he couldn’t accept Paquette’s evidence that the $10,000 cash was his savings. His tax returns showed that in the previous four years he earned between $10,000 and $26,000.

“It is unusual, if not highly unusual, for someone to be carrying $10,000 in cash in his pant pockets in downtown North Bay late at night,” Ellies wrote.

“The presence of such a significant amount of money, found late at night on Paquette’s person after he had been in a bar in downtown North Bay, bundled the way it was, is strong circumstantial evidence from which an inference can be made that the money in question is proceeds of drug trafficking, an instrument of drug trafficking, or both.”

Some lawyers have raised concerns about the laws, including that no criminal charge or conviction is needed for a government forfeiture.

Lawyers for the British Columbia Civil Liberties Association were in court Monday in that province intervening in just such a case.

RCMP found marijuana plants in David Lloydsmith’s home in 2007 and seized them. He was arrested but never charged and nearly four years after the search, the government brought a forfeiture application on his home, the BCCLA says.

Lloydsmith argued that his Charter right to be free from unreasonable search or seizure was violated and a trial judge agreed that issue should be dealt with first, before a full trial on the forfeiture, but the director of civil forfeiture has appealed.

The BCCLA intervened in the appeal to argue that the issue should be considered at the outset of the case. If it is not addressed until the end, the government would be “well-positioned to leverage settlements from defendants so that stage is never reached,” the organization wrote to the court.

“This will not be an acceptable result for the reputation of the administration of justice — civil forfeitures and forfeiture settlements must not become a consolation prize for criminal investigations that are failed or aborted because they are marred by serious Charter infringements,” the BCCLA argues.

These cases can be an “end run” around the criminal process, said BCCLA counsel Raji Mangat.

(read the full article at The Vancouver Sun)


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The NSA’s Secret Role in the U.S. Assassination Program

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The NSA’s Secret Role in the U.S. Assassination Program

By Jeremy Scahill and Glenn Greenwald
The Intercept: February 10, 2014

The National Security Agency is using complex analysis of electronic surveillance, rather than human intelligence, as the primary method to locate targets for lethal drone strikes – an unreliable tactic that results in the deaths of innocent or unidentified people.

According to a former drone operator for the military’s Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) who also worked with the NSA, the agency often identifies targets based on controversial metadata analysis and cell-phone tracking technologies. Rather than confirming a target’s identity with operatives or informants on the ground, the CIA or the U.S. military then orders a strike based on the activity and location of the mobile phone a person is believed to be using.

The drone operator, who agreed to discuss the top-secret programs on the condition of anonymity, was a member of JSOC’s High Value Targeting task force, which is charged with identifying, capturing or killing terrorist suspects in Yemen, Somalia, Afghanistan and elsewhere.

His account is bolstered by top-secret NSA documents previously provided by whistleblower Edward Snowden. It is also supported by a former drone sensor operator with the U.S. Air Force, Brandon Bryant, who has become an outspoken critic of the lethal operations in which he was directly involved in Iraq, Afghanistan and Yemen.

In one tactic, the NSA “geolocates” the SIM card or handset of a suspected terrorist’s mobile phone, enabling the CIA and U.S. military to conduct night raids and drone strikes to kill or capture the individual in possession of the device.

The former JSOC drone operator is adamant that the technology has been responsible for taking out terrorists and networks of people facilitating improvised explosive device attacks against U.S. forces in Afghanistan. But he also states that innocent people have “absolutely” been killed as a result of the NSA’s increasing reliance on the surveillance tactic.

One problem, he explains, is that targets are increasingly aware of the NSA’s reliance on geolocating, and have moved to thwart the tactic. Some have as many as 16 different SIM cards associated with their identity within the High Value Target system. Others, unaware that their mobile phone is being targeted, lend their phone, with the SIM card in it, to friends, children, spouses and family members.

Some top Taliban leaders, knowing of the NSA’s targeting method, have purposely and randomly distributed SIM cards among their units in order to elude their trackers. “They would do things like go to meetings, take all their SIM cards out, put them in a bag, mix them up, and everybody gets a different SIM card when they leave,” the former drone operator says. “That’s how they confuse us.”

As a result, even when the agency correctly identifies and targets a SIM card belonging to a terror suspect, the phone may actually be carried by someone else, who is then killed in a strike. According to the former drone operator, the geolocation cells at the NSA that run the tracking program – known as Geo Cell –sometimes facilitate strikes without knowing whether the individual in possession of a tracked cell phone or SIM card is in fact the intended target of the strike.

“Once the bomb lands or a night raid happens, you know that phone is there,” he says. “But we don’t know who’s behind it, who’s holding it. It’s of course assumed that the phone belongs to a human being who is nefarious and considered an ‘unlawful enemy combatant.’ This is where it gets very shady.”

The former drone operator also says that he personally participated in drone strikes where the identity of the target was known, but other unknown people nearby were also killed.

“They might have been terrorists,” he says. “Or they could have been family members who have nothing to do with the target’s activities.”

What’s more, he adds, the NSA often locates drone targets by analyzing the activity of a SIM card, rather than the actual content of the calls. Based on his experience, he has come to believe that the drone program amounts to little more than death by unreliable metadata.

“People get hung up that there’s a targeted list of people,” he says. “It’s really like we’re targeting a cell phone. We’re not going after people – we’re going after their phones, in the hopes that the person on the other end of that missile is the bad guy.”

The Obama administration has repeatedly insisted that its operations kill terrorists with the utmost precision.

In his speech at the National Defense University last May, President Obama declared that “before any strike is taken, there must be near-certainty that no civilians will be killed or injured – the highest standard we can set.” He added that, “by narrowly targeting our action against those who want to kill us and not the people they hide among, we are choosing the course of action least likely to result in the loss of innocent life.”

But the increased reliance on phone tracking and other fallible surveillance tactics suggests that the opposite is true. The Bureau of Investigative Journalism, which uses a conservative methodology to track drone strikes, estimates that at least 273 civilians in Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia have been killed by unmanned aerial assaults under the Obama administration. A recent study conducted by a U.S. military adviser found that, during a single year in Afghanistan – where the majority of drone strikes have taken place – unmanned vehicles were 10 times more likely than conventional aircraft to cause civilian casualties.

The NSA declined to respond to questions for this article. Caitlin Hayden, a spokesperson for the National Security Council, also refused to discuss “the type of operational detail that, in our view, should not be published.”

In describing the administration’s policy on targeted killings, Hayden would not say whether strikes are ever ordered without the use of human intelligence. She emphasized that “our assessments are not based on a single piece of information. We gather and scrutinize information from a variety of sources and methods before we draw conclusions.”

Hayden felt free, however, to note the role that human intelligence plays after a deadly strike occurs. “After any use of targeted lethal force, when there are indications that civilian deaths may have occurred, intelligence analysts draw on a large body of information – including human intelligence, signals intelligence, media reports, and surveillance footage – to help us make informed determinations about whether civilians were in fact killed or injured.”

The government does not appear to apply the same standard of care in selecting whom to target for assassination. The former JSOC drone operator estimates that the overwhelming majority of high-value target operations he worked on in Afghanistan relied on signals intelligence, known as SIGINT, based on the NSA’s phone-tracking technology.

“Everything they turned into a kinetic strike or a night raid was almost 90 percent that,” he says. “You could tell, because you’d go back to the mission reports and it will say ‘this mission was triggered by SIGINT,’ which means it was triggered by a geolocation cell.”

In July, the Washington Post relied exclusively on former senior U.S. intelligence officials and anonymous sources to herald the NSA’s claims about its effectiveness at geolocating terror suspects.

Within the NSA, the paper reported, “A motto quickly caught on at Geo Cell: ‘We Track ’Em, You Whack ’Em.’”

But the Post article included virtually no skepticism about the NSA’s claims, and no discussion at all about how the unreliability of the agency’s targeting methods results in the killing of innocents.

In fact, as the former JSOC drone operator recounts, tracking people by metadata and then killing them by SIM card is inherently flawed. The NSA “will develop a pattern,” he says, “where they understand that this is what this person’s voice sounds like, this is who his friends are, this is who his commander is, this is who his subordinates are. And they put them into a matrix. But it’s not always correct. There’s a lot of human error in that.”

The JSOC operator’s account is supported by another insider who was directly involved in the drone program. Brandon Bryant spent six years as a “stick monkey” – a drone sensor operator who controls the “eyes” of the U.S. military’s unmanned aerial vehicles. By the time he left the Air Force in 2011, Bryant’s squadron, which included a small crew of veteran drone operators, had been credited with killing 1,626 “enemies” in action.

Bryant says he has come forward because he is tormented by the loss of civilian life he believes that he and his squadron may have caused. Today he is committed to informing the public about lethal flaws in the U.S. drone program.

Bryant describes the program as highly compartmentalized: Drone operators taking shots at targets on the ground have little idea where the intelligence is coming from.

“I don’t know who we worked with,” Bryant says. “We were never privy to that sort of information. If the NSA did work with us, like, I have no clue.”

During the course of his career, Bryant says, many targets of U.S. drone strikes evolved their tactics, particularly in the handling of cell phones. “They’ve gotten really smart now and they don’t make the same mistakes as they used to,” he says. “They’d get rid of the SIM card and they’d get a new phone, or they’d put the SIM card in the new phone.”

As the former JSOC drone operator describes – and as classified documents obtained from Snowden confirm – the NSA doesn’t just locate the cell phones of terror suspects by intercepting communications from cell phone towers and Internet service providers. The agency also equips drones and other aircraft with devices known as “virtual base-tower transceivers” – creating, in effect, a fake cell phone tower that can force a targeted person’s device to lock onto the NSA’s receiver without their knowledge.

That, in turn, allows the military to track the cell phone to within 30 feet of its actual location, feeding the real-time data to teams of drone operators who conduct missile strikes or facilitate night raids.

The NSA geolocation system used by JSOC is known by the code name GILGAMESH. Under the program, a specially constructed device is attached to the drone. As the drone circles, the device locates the SIM card or handset that the military believes is used by the target.

Relying on this method, says the former JSOC drone operator, means that the “wrong people” could be killed due to metadata errors, particularly in Yemen, Pakistan and Somalia. “We don’t have people on the ground – we don’t have the same forces, informants, or information coming in from those areas – as we do where we have a strong foothold, like we do in Afghanistan. I would say that it’s even more likely that mistakes are made in places such as Yemen or Somalia, and especially Pakistan.”

As of May 2013, according to the former drone operator, President Obama had cleared 16 people in Yemen and five in Somalia for targeting in strikes. Before a strike is green-lit, he says, there must be at least two sources of intelligence. The problem is that both of those sources often involve NSA-supplied data, rather than human intelligence (HUMINT).

As the former drone operator explains, the process of tracking and ultimately killing a targeted person is known within the military as F3: Find, Fix, Finish. “Since there’s almost zero HUMINT operations in Yemen – at least involving JSOC – every one of their strikes relies on signals and imagery for confirmation: signals being the cell phone lock, which is the ‘find’ and imagery being the ‘unblinking eye’ which is the ‘fix.’” The “finish” is the strike itself.

“JSOC acknowledges that it would be completely helpless without the NSA conducting mass surveillance on an industrial level,” the former drone operator says. “That is what creates those baseball cards you hear about,” featuring potential targets for drone strikes or raids.

President Obama signs authorizations for “hits” that remain valid for 60 days. If a target cannot be located within that period, it must be reviewed and renewed. According to the former drone operator, it can take 18 months or longer to move from intelligence gathering to getting approval to actually carrying out a strike in Yemen. “What that tells me,” he says, “is that commanders, once given the authorization needed to strike, are more likely to strike when they see an opportunity – even if there’s a high chance of civilians being killed, too – because in their mind they might never get the chance to strike that target again.”

While drones are not the only method used to kill targets, they have become so prolific that they are now a standard part of U.S. military culture. Remotely piloted Reaper and Predator vehicles are often given nicknames. Among those used in Afghanistan, says the former JSOC drone operator, were “Lightning” and “Sky Raider.”

The latter drone, he adds, was also referred to as “Sky Raper,” for a simple reason – “because it killed a lot of people.” When operators were assigned to “Sky Raper,” he adds, it meant that “somebody was going to die. It was always set to the most high-priority missions.”

In addition to the GILGAMESH system used by JSOC, the CIA uses a similar NSA platform known as SHENANIGANS. The operation – previously undisclosed – utilizes a pod on aircraft that vacuums up massive amounts of data from any wireless routers, computers, smart phones or other electronic devices that are within range.

One top-secret NSA document provided by Snowden is written by a SHENANIGANS operator who documents his March 2012 deployment to Oman, where the CIA has established a drone base. The operator describes how, from almost four miles in the air, he searched for communications devices believed to be used by Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula in neighboring Yemen.The mission was code named VICTORYDANCE.

“The VICTORYDANCE mission was a great experience,” the operator writes. “It was truly a joint interagency effort between CIA and NSA. Flights and targets were coordinated with both CIAers and NSAers. The mission lasted 6 months, during which 43 flights were flown.”

VICTORYDANCE, he adds, “mapped the Wi-Fi fingerprint of nearly every major town in Yemen.”

The NSA has played an increasingly central role in drone killings over the past five years. In one top-secret NSA document from 2010, the head of the agency’s Strategic Planning and Policy Division of the Counterterrorism Mission Management Center recounts the history of the NSA’s involvement in Yemen. Shortly before President Obama took office, the document reveals, the agency began to “shift analytic resources to focus on Yemen.”

In 2008, the NSA had only three analysts dedicated to Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula in Yemen. By the fall of 2009, it had 45 analysts, and the agency was producing “high quality” signal intelligence for the CIA and JSOC.

In December 2009, utilizing the NSA’s metadata collection programs, the Obama administration dramatically escalated U.S. drone and cruise missile strikes in Yemen.

The first strike in the country known to be authorized by Obama targeted an alleged Al Qaeda camp in the southern village of al-Majala.

The strike, which included the use of cluster bombs, resulted in the deaths of 14 women and 21 children. It is not clear whether the strike was based on metadata collection; the White House has never publicly explained the strike or the source of the faulty intelligence that led to the civilian fatalities.

Another top-secret NSA document confirms that the agency “played a key supporting role” in the drone strike in September 2011 that killed U.S. citizen Anwar al-Awlaki, as well as another American, Samir Khan. According to the 2013 Congressional Budget Justification, “The CIA tracked [Awlaki] for three weeks before a joint operation with the U.S. military killed” the two Americans in Yemen, along with two other people.

When Brandon Bryant left his Air Force squadron in April 2011, the unit was aiding JSOC in its hunt for the American-born cleric. The CIA took the lead in the hunt for Awlaki after JSOC tried and failed to kill him in the spring of 2011.

According to Bryant, the NSA’s expanded role in Yemen has only added to what he sees as the risk of fatal errors already evident in CIA operations. “They’re very non-discriminate with how they do things, as far as you can see their actions over in Pakistan and the devastation that they’ve had there,” Bryant says about the CIA. “It feels like they tried to bring those same tactics they used over in Pakistan down to Yemen. It’s a repeat of tactical thinking, instead of intelligent thinking.”

Those within the system understand that the government’s targeting tactics are fundamentally flawed. According to the former JSOC drone operator, instructors who oversee GILGAMESH training emphasize: “‘This isn’t a science. This is an art.’ It’s kind of a way of saying that it’s not perfect.”

Yet the tracking “pods” mounted on the bottom of drones have facilitated thousands of “capture or kill” operations in Afghanistan, Iraq, Yemen, Somalia and Pakistan since September 11. One top-secret NSA document provided by Snowden notes that by 2009, “for the first time in the history of the U.S. Air Force, more pilots were trained to fly drones … than conventional fighter aircraft,” leading to a “‘tipping point’ in U.S. military combat behavior in resorting to air strikes in areas of undeclared wars,” such as Yemen and Pakistan.

The document continues: “Did you ever think you would see the day when the U.S. would be conducting combat operations in a country equipped with nuclear weapons without a boot on the ground or a pilot in the air?”

Even NSA operatives seem to recognize how profoundly the agency’s tracking technology deviates from standard operating methods of war.

One NSA document from 2005 poses this question: “What resembles ‘LITTLE BOY’ (one of the atomic bombs dropped on Japan during World War II) and as LITTLE BOY did, represents the dawn of a new era (at least in SIGINT and precision geolocation)?”

Its reply: “If you answered a pod mounted on an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) that is currently flying in support of the Global War on Terrorism, you would be correct.”

Another document boasts that geolocation technology has “cued and compressed numerous ‘kill chains’ (i.e. all of the steps taken to find, track, target, and engage the enemy), resulting in untold numbers of enemy killed and captured in Afghanistan as well as the saving of U.S. and Coalition lives.”

The former JSOC drone operator, however, remains highly disturbed by the unreliability of such methods. Like other whistleblowers, including Edward Snowden and Chelsea Manning, he says that his efforts to alert his superiors to the problems were brushed off. “The system continues to work because, like most things in the military, the people who use it trust it unconditionally,” he says.

When he would raise objections about intelligence that was “rushed” or “inaccurate” or “outright wrong,” he adds, “the most common response I would get was ‘JSOC wouldn’t spend millions and millions of dollars, and man hours, to go after someone if they weren’t certain that they were the right person.’ There is a saying at the NSA: ‘SIGINT never lies.’ It may be true that SIGINT never lies, but it’s subject to human error.”

The government’s assassination program is actually constructed, he adds, to avoid self-correction. “They make rushed decisions and are often wrong in their assessments. They jump to conclusions and there is no going back to correct mistakes.” Because there is an ever-increasing demand for more targets to be added to the kill list, he says, the mentality is “just keep feeding the beast.”

For Bryant, the killing of Awlaki – followed two weeks later by the killing of his 16-year-old son, Abdulrahman al Awlaki, also an American citizen – motivated him to speak out. Last October, Bryant appeared before a panel of experts at the United Nations – including the UN’s special rapporteur on human rights and counterterrorism, Ben Emmerson, who is currently conducting an investigation into civilians killed by drone strikes.

Dressed in hiking boots and brown cargo pants, Bryant called for “independent investigations” into the Obama administration’s drone program. “At the end of our pledge of allegiance, we say ‘with liberty and justice for all,’” he told the panel. “I believe that should be applied to not only American citizens, but everyone that we interact with as well, to put them on an equal level and to treat them with respect.”

Unlike those who oversee the drone program, Bryant also took personal responsibility for his actions in the killing of Awlaki. “I was a drone operator for six years, active duty for six years in the U.S. Air Force, and I was party to the violations of constitutional rights of an American citizen who should have been tried under a jury,” he said. “And because I violated that constitutional right, I became an enemy of the American people.”

Bryant later told The Intercept, “I had to get out because we were told that the president wanted Awlaki dead. And I wanted him dead. I was told that he was a traitor to our country…. I didn’t really understand that our Constitution covers people, American citizens, who have betrayed our country. They still deserve a trial.”

The killing of Awlaki and his son still haunt Bryant. The younger Awlaki, Abdulrahman, had run away from home to try to find his dad, whom he had not seen in three years. But his father was killed before Abdulrahman could locate him. Abdulrahman was then killed in a separate strike two weeks later as he ate dinner with his teenage cousin and some friends. The White House has never explained the strike.

“I don’t think there’s any day that goes by when I don’t think about those two, to be honest,” Bryant says. “The kid doesn’t seem like someone who would be a suicide bomber or want to die or something like that. He honestly seems like a kid who missed his dad and went there to go see his dad.”

(read the full report at The Intercept)


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Turkey police use tear gas to disperse protest against new internet controls

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Turkish police have fired tear gas and water cannons to disperse crowds of protesters rallying against “draconian” internet laws approved by parliament.

Police approached the crowd along Istanbul’s Istiklal Avenue and fired water cannons from behind armored vehicles as protesters tried to march to the city’s main square.

“Everywhere is bribery, everywhere is corruption,” protesters chanted.

As riot police fired water cannons at protesters, some of them responded by throwing stones or setting off fireworks aimed at law enforcement officers.

The new bill was passed late Wednesday by the parliament dominated by the Erdogan’s AKP party.

If the president approves the legislation, it would give authorities the power to block web pages without a court order within just hours.

It would also require internet service providers (ISPs) to store data on their clients’ online activities for two years and provide it to the authorities on request.

However, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan rejected any possibility that the regulations would allow authorities to have access to internet users’ personal information.

“Never. It is out of the question that people’s private data will be recorded,” he said in Istanbul on Saturday.

The opposition says the move is part of a government bid to stifle a corruption scandal and accuses the government of limiting Internet freedoms.

(read the full report at RT)


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Snowden Docs: British Spies Used Sex and ‘Dirty Tricks’

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Snowden Docs: British Spies Used Sex and ‘Dirty Tricks’

By Matthew Cole, Richard Esposito, Mark Schone and Glenn Greenwald, Special Contributor
NBC News

British spies have developed “dirty tricks” for use against nations, hackers, terror groups, suspected criminals and arms dealers that include releasing computer viruses, spying on journalists and diplomats, jamming phones and computers, and using sex to lure targets into “honey traps.”

Documents taken from the National Security Agency by Edward Snowden and exclusively obtained by NBC News describe techniques developed by a secret British spy unit called the Joint Threat Research and Intelligence Group (JTRIG) as part of a growing mission to go on offense and attack adversaries ranging from Iran to the hacktivists of Anonymous. According to the documents, which come from presentations prepped in 2010 and 2012 for NSA cyber spy conferences, the agency’s goal was to “destroy, deny, degrade [and] disrupt” enemies by “discrediting” them, planting misinformation and shutting down their communications.

Both PowerPoint presentations describe “Effects” campaigns that are broadly divided into two categories: cyber attacks and propaganda operations. The propaganda campaigns use deception, mass messaging and “pushing stories” via Twitter, Flickr, Facebook and YouTube. JTRIG also uses “false flag” operations, in which British agents carry out online actions that are designed to look like they were performed by one of Britain’s adversaries.

In connection with this report, NBC is publishing documents that Edward Snowden took from the NSA before fleeing the U.S., which can be viewed by clicking on the link below. The documents are being published with minimal redactions.

The spy unit’s cyber attack methods include the same “denial of service” or DDOS tactic used by computer hackers to shut down government and corporate websites.

Other documents taken from the NSA by Snowden and previously published by NBC News show that JTRIG, which is part of the NSA’s British counterpart, the cyber spy agency known as GCHQ, used a DDOS attack to shut down Internet chat rooms used by members of the hacktivist group known as Anonymous.

Civil libertarians said that in using a DDOS attack against hackers the British government also infringed free speech by individuals not involved in any illegal hacking, and may have blocked other websites with no connection to Anonymous. While GCHQ defends the legality of its actions, critics question whether the agency is too aggressive and its mission too broad.

Eric King, a lawyer who teaches IT law at the London School of Economics and is head of research at Privacy International, a British civil liberties advocacy group, said it was “remarkable” that the British government thought it had the right to hack computers, since none of the U.K.’s intelligence agencies has a “clear lawful authority” to launch their own attacks.

“GCHQ has no clear authority to send a virus or conduct cyber attacks,” said King. “Hacking is one of the most invasive methods of surveillance.” King said British cyber spies had gone on offense with “no legal safeguards” and without any public debate, even though the British government has criticized other nations, like Russia, for allegedly engaging in cyber warfare.

But intelligence officials defended the British government’s actions as appropriate responses to illegal acts. One intelligence official also said that the newest set of Snowden documents published by NBC News that describe “Effects” campaigns show that British cyber spies were “slightly ahead” of U.S. spies in going on offense against adversaries, whether those adversaries are hackers or nation states. The documents also show that a one-time signals surveillance agency, GCHQ, is now conducting the kinds of active espionage operations that were once exclusively the realm of the better-known British spy agencies MI5 and MI6.

(read the full report at NBC News)


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We’re Spying on You in Shower, Says Russian Official

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We’re Spying on You in Shower, Says Russian Official

By Russell Goldman
February 6, 2014: ABC News

Just when you thought conditions at hotels in Sochi, Russia, couldn’t get any worse, the deputy prime minister let slip that visitors are being spied on while in the shower.

For days journalists attending the games have complained about incomplete construction, hotel rooms without door knobs, suspiciously colored water running from taps, and most notoriously two toilets in a single stall.

When confronted by reporters today, Dmitry Kozak, the deputy prime minister responsible for the Olympic preparations, accused the Western media of a bias against Russia, and said he had seen surveillance footage from inside hotel bathrooms that supported his claim.

(full article at ABC News)


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Targeted Killings and Obama’s Secret Legal Memoranda

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Targeted Killings and Obama’s Secret Legal Memoranda

By Adam Dick
Ron Paul Institute For Peace And Prosperity

Like the George W. Bush Administration before it that sought to use secret legal memoranda to legitimize heinous treatment of prisoners, the Obama Administration appears to be using questionable and secret legal memoranda in an attempt to justify expanded presidential powers, including the power to use drones for “targeted killings.”

Judge Andrew Napolitano, talking this week with host Megyn Kelly on Fox News, explains how the Obama administration is employing this tactic:

Kelly: What are they going to do with the memos from the DOJ giving the President his legal authorization for these end-arounds?

Napolitano: They will never get those memos because the DOJ is afraid to demonstrate to the public, to people like you and I who are lawyers and analyze these things for a living, Megan, that they are without the type of authority that the president claims he has. This DOJ has gone to federal judges and refused to reveal memoranda of legal authorities based on public law as to the president’s decision with respect to drones, for example. How could you claim that your legal reasoning is secret? I can understand keeping certain facts secret, but you can’t keep legal reasoning secret. That’s what these guys are doing…

President Barack Obama’s assertion that he relies on secret legal memoranda to justify using drones to kill people — including US citizens — prevents both public scrutiny and genuine congressional oversight.

On November 28, 2012, RPI Advisory Board Member Dennis Kucinich, then a member of the US House of Representatives, introduced H.Res. 819 to require delivery to Congress of the secret documents and legal memoranda justifying the targeted killings. This would allow Congress to exercise its oversight role. Here is the brief resolution:

Resolved, That the Attorney General is directed to transmit to the House of Representatives, not later than 14 days after the date of the adoption of this resolution, any documents and legal memoranda in the Attorney General’s possession relating to the practice of targeted killing of United States citizens and targets abroad.

Twenty days later, the House Judiciary Committee killed the resolution, voting it down without a recorded vote.

In February, Obama did order the Department of Justice to allow the US Senate and House of Representatives Intelligence Committees access to some secret drones information. Yet, even that very limited action came only after media had obtained a leaked summary of the memorandum and Senators had threatened to delay confirmation of Obama’s military and Central Intelligence Agency nominees.

Today the Obama administration continues to hide from the American people the justifications for drone strikes and other “targeted killings.” H.H. Bhojani notes in Mother Jones this week the extent to which the Obama administration is even stonewalling congressional oversight:

The administration has repeatedly denied requests for further information from lawmakers. For instance, since 2011, 21 requests by members of Congress to access Office of Legal Counsel memoranda that provide the legal basis for targeted killings have been denied. The White House also refused to provide witnesses representing the administration at recent Senate and House Judiciary Committee hearings on targeted killings.

While Obama keeps a wall of secrecy around the drones program, he nevertheless asserts in his January 28 State of the Union speech that:

So, even as we aggressively pursue terrorist networks – through more targeted efforts and by building the capacity of our foreign partners – America must move off a permanent war footing. That’s why I’ve imposed prudent limits on the use of drones – for we will not be safer if people abroad believe we strike within their countries without regard for the consequence.

Should we just accept that Obama’s and his lawyers’ perceptions of “prudent limits” square with ours?

(full article & video at Ron Paul Institute For Peace And Prosperity)


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Canada’s Conservative Government Cut Short Debate On New Elections Act

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Tories move to cut short debate on new elections act

By Stephen Maher / Glen McGregor
Postmedia News: February 5, 2014

OTTAWA – The governing Conservatives moved Wednesday to cut short debate on a new election bill that critics say helps the Tories and weakens oversight by Elections Canada.

House Leader Peter Van Loan gave notice Wednesday afternoon, a day after the 242-page bill was tabled, that the government will vote to send the bill to committee on Thursday, a move that seemed to signal the government plans to push the bill through the legislative process without changes.

Earlier Wednesday, NDP Leader Tom Mulcair predicted the government would cut short debate, denounced the Conservatives as “serial cheaters” and accused them of rigging the rules in their favour.

Opposition MPs began raising pointed questions about clauses of the act that they say will give a ballot-box boost to the Conservatives while reining in the watchdogs at Elections Canada.

While the bill has received endorsement from some observers, such as former chief electoral officer Jean-Pierre Kingsley, opposition parties are expected to challenge provisions that could weaken Elections Canada’s enforcement clout or give the Conservatives any ballot-box advantage.

The most dramatic change in the act is moving the office of the Commissioner of Canada Elections, home of the investigators in charge of enforcing elections law, from Elections Canada to the office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP).

Pierre Poilievre, minister of state for democratic reform, says the move is designed to enhance the independence of investigators. Critics worry that the change may increase the chances of political interference in investigations, since the DPP answers to the government, not Parliament.

“The chief electoral officer is appointed to and is responsible to Parliament, but the DPP is appointed by the attorney general,” said NDP critic Craig Scott in question period. “Why is the government removing parliamentary oversight from the elections commissioner?”

Poilievre replied that only Parliament can fire the DPP: “The government cannot fire him by itself.”

Other provisions expected to draw resistance:

– The new bill would also restrict the ability of Elections Canada to communicate with voters, narrowing the legal authority of the chief electoral officer, eliminating provisions that allow Elections Canada to promote voting to “persons and groups most likely to experience difficulties in exercising their democratic rights.”

– In the House on Wednesday, Poilievre suggested it’s best for the agency to leave the job of promoting voting to political parties. Critics have suggested that the groups Elections Canada has targeted with advertising campaigns – such as aboriginals – are less likely to vote for the Conservatives than for opposition parties.

– The provision that stops Elections Canada from promoting voting also limits the ability of the chief electoral officer to communicate with the public “only” to inform voters about who and where to vote, raising questions about whether he could answer questions about the conduct of elections.

– The bill would prevent voters from casting ballots without government identification if they are vouched for by another elector. The Conservatives say “vouching” has a much higher level of irregularity than other voting methods and shouldn’t be allowed. Vouched voters account for only an estimated one per cent of all ballots cast and the New Democrats say banning the practice can disenfranchise people without fixed addresses, such as students, the poor and aboriginals – people more likely to vote NDP. Removing voter cards sent out by Elections Canada from the list of valid forms of ID will have a similar effect, the NDP says.

– Increasing the allowable political contribution from $1,200 to $1,500 annually would appear to give the Conservatives a fundraising advantage. In the past, the Tories have won the fundraising wars by taking smaller amounts from a larger number of donors than other parties. That has changed over the past two years. In 2013, a full 20 per cent of donations to the Conservatives were of the maximum allowable amount of $1,200, compared to 16 per cent of a smaller pool of Liberal donors. Increasing the limit should reap more cash for the Conservatives than the Liberals or NDP if this trend continues.

– The law will require the Commissioner of Canada Elections to notify the subject of an investigation when it begins. When the Ottawa Citizen and Postmedia News reported in 2012 that then-Conservative MP Dean Del Mastro was under investigation for alleged campaign overspending, he went on television to complain he had been blindsided by the news and never knew about the probe.

– New provisions allowing donors to make contributions to a leadership campaign every year, instead of just once per leadership race, might have helped Liberal leadership contenders from 2006 and 2013 pay down their campaign debts. The change to the law would be too late for them, but candidates in future races will benefit. And, quite possibly, the Conservative Party will be the next to choose a new leader, should Prime Minister Stephen Harper decided to step down before or after the coming election.

– The bill would allow parties to fundraise from past donors during an election campaign without counting the telemarketing costs as election expenses. The Conservatives have excelled at using sophisticated databases and phone bank companies to raise money and get out their vote. Under the new law, the costs of these call campaigns – thought to figure in the millions of dollars for the central campaign – would not count against their spending cap.

– MPs who are found to have violated elections rules can continue to sit as MPs while they appeal a ruling against them in court. This clause is apparently in response to the cases of two Manitoba Conservative MPs, who, the chief electoral officer said, were no longer eligible to sit in Parliament because of incomplete campaign finance reports. Court challenges can take many years and critics say some MPs could break the rules getting elected and then drag out lawsuits to hold their seats.

(article continues at Postmedia News)


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British Spies Commit False Flags, Snowden Docs Show

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A NBC News report published February 5th 2014 confirms that Britain’s GCHQ spy agency has carried out cyber false flag attacks:

In another document taken from the NSA by Snowden and obtained by NBC News, a JTRIG official said the unit’s mission included computer network attacks, disruption, “Active Covert Internet Operations,” and “Covert Technical Operations.” Among the methods listed in the document were jamming phones, computers and email accounts and masquerading as an enemy in a “false flag” operation. The same document said GCHQ was increasing its emphasis on using cyber tools to attack adversaries.

(read the full report at NBC News)


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New surveillance technology can track everyone in an area for several hours at a time

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New surveillance technology can track everyone in an area for several hours at a time

By Craig Timberg
Washington Post: February 5, 2014

DAYTON, Ohio — Shooter and victim were just a pair of pixels, dark specks on a gray streetscape. Hair color, bullet wounds, even the weapon were not visible in the series of pictures taken from an airplane flying two miles above.

But what the images revealed — to a degree impossible just a few years ago — was location, mapped over time. Second by second, they showed a gang assembling, blocking off access points, sending the shooter to meet his target and taking flight after the body hit the pavement. When the report reached police, it included a picture of the blue stucco building into which the killer ultimately retreated, at last beyond the view of the powerful camera overhead.

“I’ve witnessed 34 of these,” said Ross McNutt, the genial president of Persistent Surveillance Systems, which collected the images of the killing in Ciudad Juárez, Mexico, from a specially outfitted Cessna. “It’s like opening up a murder mystery in the middle, and you need to figure out what happened before and after.”

As Americans have grown increasingly comfortable with traditional surveillance cameras, a new, far more powerful generation is being quietly deployed that can track every vehicle and person across an area the size of a small city, for several hours at a time. Although these cameras can’t read license plates or see faces, they provide such a wealth of data that police, businesses and even private individuals can use them to help identify people and track their movements.

Already, the cameras have been flown above major public events such as the Ohio political rally where Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) named Sarah Palin as his running mate in 2008, McNutt said. They’ve been flown above Baltimore; Philadelphia; Compton, Calif.; and Dayton in demonstrations for police. They’ve also been used for traffic impact studies, for security at NASCAR races and at the request of a Mexican politician, who commissioned the flights over Ciudad Juárez.

Defense contractors are developing similar technology for the military, but its potential for civilian use is raising novel civil liberties concerns. In Dayton, where Persistent Surveillance Systems is based, city officials balked last year when police considered paying for 200 hours of flights, in part because of privacy complaints.

“There are an infinite number of surveillance technologies that would help solve crimes . . . but there are reasons that we don’t do those things, or shouldn’t be doing those things,” said Joel Pruce, a University of Dayton postdoctoral fellow in human rights who opposed the plan. “You know where there’s a lot less crime? There’s a lot less crime in China.”

The Supreme Court generally has given wide latitude to police using aerial surveillance as long as the photography captures images visible to the naked eye.

(article continues at Washington Post)


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