White House Press Staff ‘accidentally’ outs CIA chief in Afghanistan

Monday, 26 May 2014




English: South façade of the White House, the ...


The White House press service unwittingly put the real name of the CIA’s top spy in Afghanistan on the ‘pool report’ distributed among journalists accompanying the American president on a surprise trip to Kabul’s Bagram Airfield base.


The identity of the man dubbed ‘Chief of Station’, the usual address to a CIA local chief, was inadvertently added to a list of 15 US officials supposed to take part in a military briefing with Obama at the base, and emailed it to the White House press pool on Saturday, the Washington Post reported.


The unusual address was observed by Scott Wilson, the Washington Post’s White House bureau chief, who informed the White House press officials.


Continue reading “White House Press Staff ‘accidentally’ outs CIA chief in Afghanistan”

2014 Jefferson Muzzles


  1. The U.S. Department of Justice
  2. The White House Press Office
  3. The National Security Agency and Department of Homeland Security
  4. The North Carolina General Assembly Police
  5. The Kansas Board of Regents
  6. Modesto Junior College
  7. The Tennessee State Legislature
  8. Wharton High School Principal Brad Woods
  9. Pemberton Township High School Principal Ida Smith

Continue reading “2014 Jefferson Muzzles”

NSA ‘records all phone conversations’ in unnamed target country ( MYSTIC )

US agency records every phone conversation in unnamed target nation, according to exiled whistle-blower Edward Snowden and others

UPDATED : Thursday, 20 March, 2014, 4:23am
The Washington Post


NSA taps ‘all calls’ in one country.

The US National Security Agency is recording every single phone call in one particular country, with the agency able to rewind and review conversations up to a month after they take place, according to people with direct knowledge of the effort and documents supplied by former contractor Edward Snowden. Continue reading “NSA ‘records all phone conversations’ in unnamed target country ( MYSTIC )”

Malaysian Airline passengers’ phones still ringing?

MH 777
MH 777 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Tuesday, 11 March 2014

The ‘unprecedented mystery’ behind the disappearance of Malaysian Airlines flight MH 370 deepened on Monday when relatives claimed they were able to call the cellphones of their missing loved ones.

According to the Washington Post, family of some of the 239 people on board the vanished Boeing 777 said that they were getting ring tones and could see them as online through a Chinese social networking service called QQ.

One man said that the QQ account of his brother-in-law showed him as active, but frustratingly for those waiting desperately for any news, messages sent have gone unanswered and the calls have not been picked up.

Indeed, the phantom phone calls and online presence set off a whole new level of hysteria for relatives who have spent the past three-days cooped-up in a Beijing hotel waiting for some concrete information on the missing plane. Continue reading “Malaysian Airline passengers’ phones still ringing?”

Chinese tycoon Chen Guangbiao says he is in talks to buy New York Times

UPDATED : Wednesday, 01 January, 2014, 1:15pm

Agence France Press in Beijing


Chen Gunagbiao. Photo: Simon Song

First he handed out cash to victims of China’s 2008 earthquake. Then he sold “canned fresh air” to residents of smog-ridden Beijing.

Now Chen Guangbiao, listed as one of China’s 400 richest people and a man known as much for his publicity stunts as his wealth, claims he is in talks to buy the New York Times. Continue reading “Chinese tycoon Chen Guangbiao says he is in talks to buy New York Times”

Snowden latest: NSA stalks the human race using Google, ad cookies

Every single day, every word you say, every game you play, they’ll be watching you


Every single day, every word you say, every game you play, they’ll be watching you

By   Iain Thomson

Posted in Security,    12th December 2013 19:40 GMT

The already strained relationship between Google and the NSA has got a little bit worse, after claims in the latest Snowden leak that intelligence agencies are using the Chocolate Factory’s cookies to track targets.

Documents seen by the Washington Post show that the NSA and the British snoops at GCHQ have found a way to piggyback on a Google tracking cookie dubbed PREFID. This doesn’t contain personal data, but does contain an identifier unique to each browser, so by subverting the Google code a particular user can be easily identified in a large data dump.

You just don’t pick up PREFID cookies if you’re a Gmail or Google+ user, they’re included in everything from simple search requests to websites that have a link to Mountain View’s mapping of social networking system. As such, most internet users will have one somewhere.

Once a particular browser is identified, the Google cookies can then be used for “remote exploitation” the documents state, presumably anything from monitoring usage to complete pwnage. It can also be used for “on the ground survey options,” and used to brief the FBI for domestic action.

The latest trove from ex-NSA-contractor-turned-whistleblower Edward Snowden also shows details of a location-tracking system implemented by the intelligence agencies (and presumably their Canadian, Australian and New Zealand counterparts) called HAPPYFOOT – say what you like about the coders, at least they have a gift for naming this stuff. That effort also uses advertising networks’ cookies to track the location of users.

HAPPYFOOT monitors location data sent back by mobile apps to provide localized content. GPS doesn’t need to be on for this kind of data – the phone user’s location can be triangulated pretty accurately based on cell tower and Wi-Fi locations, particularly in urban environments. As seen in last week’s FTC settlement, this location data doesn’t always need user approval to activate.

In both cases, intelligence agencies can use data from the Department of Defense’s National Geospatial Intelligence Agency, for target tracking. According to Snowden’s data the agency has an annual budget of $4.9bn to collect and analyze satellite and photo imagery from around the world.

“As we’ve said before, NSA, within its lawful mission to collect foreign intelligence to protect the United States, uses intelligence tools to understand the intent of foreign adversaries and prevent them from bringing harm to innocent Americans,” said the NSA in a statement.

Privacy experts have long been nervous about the ability of cookies to track internet users. While there are beneficial uses of cookies, besides being vital to the online advertising market, the ability to store arbitrary data in a browser is seen as a fundamental flaw in protecting privacy on the web.

It’s a measure of success that the “do not track” movement against cookies is now supported by almost all the major browser manufacturers and is often the default setting – something that is infuriating the advertising industry. It would seem, from these latest documents, that the NSA would like tracking to continue as well.

“These revelations make it ever clearer that we need to fight back against non-consensual tracking of web users, by deploying and adopting technology that allows users to block online tracking,” said privacy campaigners at the EFF in a statement.

“In the past we’ve been concerned about the profiles that web companies could build up about users without their knowledge or consent. Now we’ve seen that this tracking technology is also being hijacked for government surveillance of Internet users.” ®

Original URL: http://www.theregister.co.uk/2013/12/12/snowden_latest_nsa_using_google_cookies_to_id_internet_users/

NSA collects data revealing location of five billion mobile phones every day

The records allow US intelligence agents to establish not just the movements of individuals but to monitor who else they communicate with

Lewis Smith

Thursday, 5 December 2013

Almost five billion records revealing the location of mobile phones around the world are collected by the US National Security Agency every day.

Data collected by the NSA provides the US with the ability to pinpoint hundreds of millions of phones and their users daily, it was reported.

Continue reading “NSA collects data revealing location of five billion mobile phones every day”

Washington Post op-ed: Repeal presidential term limits

Posted By Tim Cavanaugh On 10:36 AM  11/29/2013 In  | No Comments

As President Obama faces a small revolt within his own party, a Washington Post op-ed is calling for the United States to end presidential term limits and allow him to run again in 2016.

“Barack Obama should be allowed to stand for re election just as citizens should be allowed to vote for — or against — him,” writes New York University Jonathan Zimmerman professor of history and education. “Anything less diminishes our leaders and ourselves.”

Zimmerman argues that the president would enjoy more deference on such unpopular initiatives as the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and the recent nuclear-arms deal with Iran if he had a legal opportunity to seek additional terms in office.

“Many of Obama’s fellow Democrats have distanced themselves from the reform and from the president,” he writes. “Even former president Bill Clinton has said that Americans should be allowed to keep the health insurance they have.

Continue reading “Washington Post op-ed: Repeal presidential term limits”

Is it OK to torture or murder a robot?

Richard Fisher is the deputy editor of BBC Future.

We form such strong emotional bonds with machines that people can’t be cruel to them even though they know they are not alive. So should robots have rights?

Kate Darling likes to ask you to do terrible things to cute robots. At a workshop she organised this year, Darling asked people to play with a Pleo robot, a child’s toy dinosaur. The soft green Pleo has trusting eyes and affectionate movements. When you take one out of the box, it acts like a helpless newborn puppy – it can’t walk and you have to teach it about the world.

Yet after an hour allowing people to tickle and cuddle these loveable dinosaurs, Darling turned executioner. She gave the participants knives, hatchets and other weapons, and ordered them to torture and dismember their toys. What happened next “was much more dramatic than we ever anticipated,” she says.

Continue reading “Is it OK to torture or murder a robot?”

‘Fairy godmother’ to military brides allegedly stole more than $5million from a nonprofit by directing funds to fake companies

By  Daily Mail Reporter

PUBLISHED: 11:46 EST, 25  November 2013 |  UPDATED: 11:48 EST, 25 November 2013

A woman who donated wedding dresses to  military brides has stolen $5.1million from a medical non-profit company.

Ephonia Green worked at the Association of  American Medical Colleges while also owning her own bridal dress salon outside  of Washington, D.C.

By registering fake companies and then  sending invoices for millions of dollars from the non-profit to those companies,  Green was able to pocket $5.1million since 2005.

Not so charitable: Ephonia Green, who runs this Maryland bridal store stole $5.1million over the course of several years while at the same time arranging to giveaway wedding gowns to military bridesNot so charitable: Ephonia Green, who runs this Maryland  bridal store stole $5.1million over the course of several years while at the  same time arranging to giveaway wedding gowns to military brides


The Washington Post reports that the details  of her embezzlement scheme have been revealed since she is expected to go into a  district court today for a plea deal hearing.

Continue reading “‘Fairy godmother’ to military brides allegedly stole more than $5million from a nonprofit by directing funds to fake companies”

‘I’m really good at killing people’: New book claims President Obama bragged to aides about using drone strikes

  • Claim comes from new book ‘Double Down:  Game Change 2012’ about Obama’s re-election campaign
  • Obama Administration has not commented on  the report
  • Remark was made while discussing drone  strikes with aides
  • President won the Nobel Peace Prize in  2009

By  Michael Zennie

PUBLISHED: 16:51 EST, 3  November 2013 |  UPDATED: 17:20 EST, 3 November 2013

President Barack Obama bragged to his aides  that he’s ‘really good at killing people,’ according to explosive claims in a  new book about the 2012 presidential campaign.

The revelation comes at a time when Obama,  who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2009, has faced increasing criticism for his  use of drones to target insurgents and terrorist suspects, particularly in  Pakistan and Yemen.

The London-based Bureau of Investigative  Journalism estimates that Obama has authorized 326 drone strikes. Since 2004,  CIA unmanned aerial vehicles have killed 2,500 to 3,600 people – including up to  950 civilians.

President Obama, who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2009, had ordered an estimated 325 drone strikes against suspected terrorists and insurgents 

President Obama, who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2009,  had ordered an estimated 325 drone strikes against suspected terrorists and  insurgents


Obama was given the Peace Prize in 2009, less than a year into his presidency, for his aspirations of nuclear disarmament  

Obama was given the Peace Prize in 2009, less than a  year into his presidency, for his aspirations of nuclear disarmament


Double Down: Game Change 2012, will be  released on Tuesday, but at least one early review points out the shocking  detail included by authors Mark Halperin and John Heilemann.

A Washington Post report makes passing  reference to the anecdote, saying that while speaking with his aides about the  drone program Obama bragged that he was ‘really good at killing  people.’

The Obama Administration has not responded  specifically to reports of the alleged boast from the President.

However, Obama adviser Dan Pfeiffer told  ABC’s ‘This Week’ today that ‘the president is always frustrated about  leaks.

‘I haven’t talked to him about this book. I  haven’t read it. He hasn’t read it. But he hates leaks.’

Deadly strikes with the MQ-1 Predator drone and other unmanned aerial vehicles have grown considerably under the Obama Administration - and the President has defended the use of the tacticDeadly strikes with the MQ-1 Predator drone and other  unmanned aerial vehicles have grown considerably under the Obama Administration  – and the President has defended the use of the tactic


The Obama administration also disputes drone  casualty figures – though it has not released any numbers of its own to counter  the independent studies.



Obama has defended his use of drones as being  necessary for stopping terrorists in remote places before they can attack  civilians.

‘Let us remember that the terrorists we are  after target civilians, and the death toll from their acts of terrorism against  Muslims dwarfs any estimate of civilian casualties from drone strikes,’ he said  in a speech at the National Defense University in May.

In October 2009, the Norwegian Nobel  Committee – appointed by the Norwegian Parliament – gave Obama the Peace Prize  for his ‘extraordinary efforts’ to strengthen democracy, specifically citing his  goals of nuclear disarmament.


Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2486809/Double-Down-Game-Change-2012-Obama-bragged-Im-really-good-killing-people.html#ixzz2jdZ67sqy Follow us: @MailOnline on Twitter | DailyMail on Facebook

Belgium considers granting euthanasia for children


Belgium government, which has already legalized euthanasia for adults is now envisaging extension of this procedure to children. Should the bill be approved, Belgium will be the first country to adopt such measure. The same project also includes granting rights for euthanasia to adults with early dementia

The question about whether children have the right to ask for their own deaths has again split the society, as advocates assert euthanasia for children, with their parents’ consent, might be the only way out of what might become an unbearably painful trap, while the opponents still claim that children are unlikely to be reasonable deciding whether they want to end their own lives.

Belgium has been the first to introduce euthanasia for adults in 2002, and since then, the number of reported cases per year has gone from 235 deaths in 2003 to 1,432 in 2012. In the process doctors sedate the patients before giving them a lethal injection.

Various forms of what might be approaching actual euthanasia are legal in a n handful of countries in Europe: the Netherlands only allow euthanasia under specific circumstances and for children over the age of 12 with parental consent. There is also assumption present that infants can be euthanized without doctors being held responsible or taken to court is they act appropriately. Otherwise, euthanasia is only legal in Luxembourg, if talking about Europe. However, the so-called assisted suicide, when doctors only assist a patient to die without actively killing them, is legal in Switzerland.

As far as the US are concerned, only the state of Oregon grants assisted suicide requests, but only for age appropriate residents with a terminal illness.

The euthanasia-expanding bill in Belgium is proposed by the Socialist party, however, the Christian Democratic Flemish party not only opposed the legislation, but is also planning on challenging the bill in the European Court of Human Rights if it passes. The final decision needs the parliamentary approval and could take months.

Catholic Archbishop Andre-Joseph Leonard pointed out that “it is strange that minors are considered legally incompetent in key areas, such as getting married, but might (be able) to decide to die.”

Leonard also noted that alternatives like palliative sedation make euthanasia unnecessary, at the same time relieving doctors of the burden of killing patients. Palliative sedation consists in sedating patients with life-sustaining support withdrawn, so they starve to death.

The debate of whether this procedure is ethical enough has gone far beyond Belgian borders. Charles Foster, medical law and ethics professor at Oxford University, is convinced children are incapable of making an informed decision about euthanasia, as this concept is hard even for comprehension of the adults.

Mr Foster noted, “It often happens that when people get into the circumstances they had so feared earlier, they manage to cling on all the more. Children, like everyone else, may not be able to anticipate how much they will value their lives if they were not killed.”

Voice of Russia, Washington Post



NSA ‘broke into Yahoo and Google data centers to obtain millions of records every day’… and leaked doodle shows how spy agency did it with a smiley face

  • The Washington Post cites documents  leaked by Edward Snowden
  • In 30 days, the NSA gleaned 180 million  new records including text, audio and video – and who sent it to whom and when  they sent it
  • NSA: Claims that we collect data this way  are not true

By  Associated Press and Daily Mail Reporter

PUBLISHED: 12:53 EST, 30  October 2013 |  UPDATED: 14:16 EST, 30 October 2013

The National Security Agency has secretly  broken into the Yahoo and Google data centers around the world to steal hundreds  of millions of records, it was reported today.

Every day, the NSA sends millions of records  from Yahoo and Google internal networks to data warehouses at the  agency’s Fort  Meade, Maryland headquarters, the Washington Post reported, citing documents  leaked by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.

The documents include a slide from an agency  presentation  entitled ‘Google Cloud Exploitation’, featuring a sketch showing  where  the ‘Public Internet’ meets the internal ‘Google Cloud’ of user data.

On the sketch, a note adds that encryption is  ‘added and remove here!’ and the artist then jots a smiley face – in what the  Post calls a ‘cheeky  celebration of victory over Google security’.

Leaked: In a slide from an NSA presentation, a sketch shows where the 'Public Internet' meets the 'Google Cloud' user data - with a smiley face to celebrate getting around the secure links 

Leaked: In a slide from an NSA presentation, a sketch  shows where the ‘Public Internet’ meets the ‘Google Cloud’ user data – with a  smiley face to celebrate getting around the secure links


‘Two engineers with close ties to Google  exploded in profanity when they saw the drawing,’ the Post reported.

In the 30 days after January 9, field  collectors processed and sent back more than 180 million new records – ranging  from ‘metadata’, which would indicate who sent or received emails and  when, to  content such as text, audio and video.

Both companies said they had not given the  NSA permission to do so and where not aware of the activity.

The NSA’s principal tool to exploit the data  links is a project called MUSCULAR, operated jointly with the agency’s British  counterpart, GCHQ.

The program uses an unnamed  telecommunications provider giving secret access to a cable for Google and  Yahoo to pass unencrypted traffic between their  servers.

the National Security Agency has secretly broken into the main communications links that connect Yahoo and Google data centers around the world 

Seized: The NSA has reportedly secretly broken into main  communications links that connect Yahoo and Google data centers around the  world. This photo shows a Google data center in Hamina, Finland

The Post said NSA and GCHQ are copying entire  data flows across fiber-optic cables that carry information between the data  centers of the Silicon Valley giants.

The NSA’s leader, Gen. Keith Alexander said  he was unaware of the report, adding that the NSA is not authorized to access  data centers and must go through a court process to obtain it.

‘The assertion that we collect vast  quantities of U.S. persons’ data from this type of collection is also not true,’  a spokeswoman added, Politico reported.

The report comes despite the companies saying  their servers are closely guarded and strictly audited. According to Google,  buildings housing its servers are guarded around-the-clock and secured with  heat-sensitive cameras and biometric verification.

In a statement to the Post, Google  said it  was ‘troubled by allegations of the government intercepting  traffic between our  data centers, and we are not aware of this  activity’.

At Yahoo a  spokeswoman added: ‘We have  strict controls in place to protect the  security of our data centers, and we  have not given access to our data  centers to the NSA or to any other government  agency.’

White House officials and the Office of  the  Director of National Intelligence, which oversees the NSA, declined  to comment,  the Post said.

Revelations: The information was obtained by former NSA contractor, Edward Snowden 

Revelations: The information was obtained by former NSA  contractor, Edward Snowden

The NSA already collects data from Google,  Yahoo and other technology  companies under another program known as PRISM –  details of which were  revealed by Snowden earlier this year.

The program legally compels the companies to  provide the agency with information that matches court-approved search  terms.

The collection of data by MUSCULAR would be  illegal in the U.S., but the operations take place overseas, where the NSA can  presume anyone using a foreign data link is a foreigner, the Post  said.

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2480411/NSA-broke-Yahoo-Google-data-centers-obtain-millions-records.html#ixzz2jGZlavR4 Follow us: @MailOnline on Twitter | DailyMail on Facebook

NSA Denies Website Outage Is The Result Of A Cyberattack ( Still down as of 7:30pm PST)

Brian  Jones and Paul  Szoldra                  Oct. 25, 2013,  6:10 PM

Despite speculation that mystery hacker-group “Anonymous” is behind  it, the NSA has denied their official website being down is the result of a  cyberattack.


The National Security Agency’s website, nsa.gov, has been down the better  part of the afternoon, and people  have been speculating it’s “Anonymous.”

Gizmodo  reports that the site is suffering from a distributed denial of service  (DDoS), when hackers overtake computers and direct them to overload a web  server.

The site went down shortly  after 3 p.m., and at the time of this post still was not back up.

Brian Fung, the tech  reporter for the Washington Post, tweeted  that he spoke with an NSA spokesperson, who said that they were looking into  the outage, but refused to say if it was the result of a cyber  attack.

Later, the NSA flatly  denied the outage was the result of an attack. In  a statement to Circa, an NSA spokesperson said, “NSA.gov was  not accessible for several hours tonight because of an internal error that  occurred during a scheduled update. The issue will be resolved this evening.  Claims that the outage was caused by a distributed denial of service attack are  not true.”

As Gizmodo  points out, it’s not wholly clear that Anonymous is behind the attack, or  that the NSA’s website was attacked at all. And the fact that it took at least  an hour for people to start linking the outage to anonymous is a little  suspicious.

Anonymous tacitly acknowledged some level of involvement on  Twitter.

Read more:  http://www.businessinsider.com/anonymous-nsa-website-2013-10#ixzz2in9GAHfY

Maryland Attorney General claimes he ‘was sending a text and NOT taking a picture’ of dancing teens at his underage son’s booze-filled party

  • Doug Gansler, 50, is the Attorney General  for Maryland and he is currently running to be the next Democratic governor of  the state
  • His son Sam and his classmates were  having a ‘beach week’ graduation party at a rented home in Delaware in June 
  • Gansler is pictured in the middle of the  party surrounded by teens holding red Solo cups
  • He denies responsibility: ‘It could be  Kool-aid instead of beer,’ he said

By  Meghan Keneally

PUBLISHED: 11:10 EST, 25  October 2013 |  UPDATED: 11:38 EST, 25 October 2013

The Maryland Attorney General who was  pictured at his son’s drink-filled high school graduation party has continued to  list off excuses for not shutting down the underage party.

Doug Gansler, who is currently running for  governor, said in a press conference that ‘there may have been some college  students or others drinking beer. I just don’t know.’

Two pictures of 50-year-old Gansler  surrounded by partying teens have emerged, and in one he is holding up his cell  phone in the direction of two boys and a girl dancing on a table. It appears  like he is holding the phone as if to take a picture, but he denied that claim.

‘I did not take any pictures…My guess is  what I’m doing is reading a text,’ he  said at a press conference on Thursday.

Caught in the act: Attorney General Doug Gansler is seen taking a picture with his phone in the middle of a party where recent high school graduates are seen holding SOLO cups 

Caught in the act: Attorney General Doug Gansler is seen  taking a picture with his phone in the middle of a party where recent high  school graduates are seen holding SOLO cups

Having a look: Gansler, in the white shirt, is seen in the middle of the crowd of teenagers as he looks on while two teens dance graphically on top of a table 

Having a look: Gansler, in the white shirt, is seen in  the middle of the crowd of teenagers as he looks on while two teens dance  graphically on top of a table


‘I should have probably (been) more observant  and maybe determined whether or not there was drinking going on,’ he  said.

‘I should have assumed there was drinking  going on and I got that wrong.’

In a second picture obtained by ABC News, Gansler is seen watching the  dancing teens but this time his phone is out of sight.

The issue is particularly problematic for  Gansler since he has been an outspoken activist against underage drinking.

His son Sam and a large group of friends were  celebrating their high school graduation at a week-long beach house party in  nearby Delaware.

Not only was he present at the party but Mr  Gansler was one of the parents who chipped in and paid to rent the beach house  for the graduating seniors.

In the middle: Gansler faces backlash over the photo because he has been outspoken against underage drinking 

In the middle: Gansler faces backlash over the photo  because he has been outspoken against underage drinking


The Baltimore Sun obtained a list of rules  that the parents gave to the partying teens, saying that there would be no  coupling up in the bedrooms and no drinking hard alcohol.

‘Assume for purposes of discussion that there  was widespread drinking at this party- how is that relevant to me?’ he said to  The Baltimore Sun.

He went on to use the fact that the party-  which revelers dubbed ‘eviction party’  because of the intensity of the  partying- took place in Delaware rather  than their home state of Maryland.

‘The question is, do I have any moral  authority over other people’s children at beach week in another state? I say  no.’

One of the most incriminating photos was  found on Instagram, showing the 50-year-old Gansler in the middle of a crowded  room of dancing teens, holding up his cell phone as if to take a picture of two  bare-chest boys dancing on either side of a teenage girl in a bikini.

At a press conference held after the photo  became public, Gansler continued to toe the line that he did not know if any  illegal drinking was taking place.

‘In this case, maybe I should have done  something different,’ he said according to The Washington Post.

Campaigning: Attorney General Doug Gansler is hoping to become the next Democratic mayor of Maryland 

Campaigning: Attorney General Doug Gansler is hoping to  become the next Democratic mayor of Maryland


‘If I had seen anything that was dangerous or  risky… I would have done something about it.’

He put up another defense as well, saying  that while he did see plenty of teens drinking out of the distinctive red Solo  cups- generally associated with beer pong- there was no way of knowing was was  inside each cup.

‘It could be Kool-Aid instead of beer,’  Gansler said on Thursday.

He went on to say that it was not his job to  stop other people’s children from drinking under the state age of 21.

Family values: The 'beach week' party was held for his son Sam (right) and their friends who had just graduated from a private prep school called the Landon School in Baltimore 

Family values: The ‘beach week’ party was held for his  son Sam (right) and their friends who had just graduated from a private prep  school called the Landon School in Baltimore


‘My responsibility is only to my child,’ he  said in an interview with The Sun on Tuesday.

‘Everybody has their own moral compass. Mine  is to raise my own child.” He said firmly that his son was not  drinking.’

The issue is particularly poignant for  Gansler as he has appeared in public service announcements calling to end  underage drinking.

‘Parents you’re the leading influence on your  teens decision not to drink. It’s never too early to talk with your kids about  smart ways to say no,’ he says to the camera in one of the  videos.

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2476974/Maryland-Attorney-General-Doug-Gansler-texting-NOT-taking-photo-dancing-teens.html#ixzz2iktuvOL8 Follow us: @MailOnline on Twitter | DailyMail on Facebook

Russian representative denies US media claims of his involvement in espionage – Rossotrudnichestvo exchange program

Russian representative denies US media claims of his involvement in espionage


WASHINGTON, October 24 (Itar-Tass) – Representative of   Russia’s Federal Agency for Cooperation with   Fellow-Countrymen Abroad /Rossotrudnichestvo/ in   Washington, Yury Zaytsev, has expressed astonishment over   publications in the U.S. media saying that the FBI suspects   him of working for the Russian intelligence services.

Reports on Zaytsev’s alleged illegal activities were   put up by several US media at a time, including the   Internet version of The Washington Post, which mentioned   unnamed law enforcement officials as the sources of   information.

According to the newspaper, FBI agents have been   interviewing Americans who participated in the   Rossotrudnichestvo exchange program run by Zaytsev, who   also heads the Russian Center for Science and Culture in   Washington.

“Law enforcement officials said the FBI is   investigating whether Zaytsev and Rossotrudnichestvo have   used trips to Russia /sponsored by the Center – Itar-Tass/   to recruit Americans,” the article said.

It went on to say that Rossotrudnichestvo had paid for   all their expenses, including meals, travel, visa fees and   lodging. Most of the trips involved about 25 participants,   who sometimes allegedly stayed in luxury hotels and met   with Russian government officials.

Yury Zaytsev strongly denied any such allegations.   “It’s highly regrettable that echoes of the Cold War   regularly surface in Russian-American relations at   present,” he told Itar-Tass.

“It looks like some milieus have an itch to separate   our two countries by an iron curtain again,” Zaytsev said.

As for the FBI, it acted in line with its longtime   tradition of refraining from comments on reports of that   kind. Amy Thoreson, the agency’s official spokeswoman   refused to make any definite comment on suspicions   regarding Zaytsev or clarify what actions were being taken   in this connection.

“A significant responsibility of our Center is that of   strengthening the positions of Russian culture, while   familiarizing overseas citizens with the richest Russian   cultural heritage and modern Russian art,” Zaytsev wrote on   the Web site of the center.

“The Russian Cultural Centres possess a system of   operations for supporting the Russian language abroad,   promoting Russian educational services, increasing   cooperation between educational institutions in partner   countries, as well as working with graduates of Russian   (and Soviet) universities,” his message said.

Yevgeny Khorishko, a spokesman for Russia’s Embassy in   Washington refuted the assertions that the cultural center   might have been involved in the recruitment of agents for   the Russian intelligence services

“All such ‘scaring information’ very much resembles   Cold War era,” he said in an e-mail, adding that the   revelations of this type were being leveled only to   “distort and to blacken activities of the Russian Cultural   Center.”

Navy hit with bribery scandal as high profile commander charged with accepting Lady Gaga tickets and prostitutes in exchange for classified information

  • Also charged were Leonard Glenn Francis,  the CEO of defense contractor Glenn Defense Marine Asia Ltd
  • And John Bertrand Beliveau II, a special  agent with the Naval Criminal Investigative Service – NCIS

By  James Nye

PUBLISHED: 00:20 EST, 22  October 2013 |  UPDATED: 00:58 EST, 22 October 2013

Arrested: Michael Vannak Khem Misiewicz has been charged with accepting paid travel, the services of prostitutes and Lady Gaga concert tickets in a devastating bribery case for the US Navy  

Arrested: Michael Vannak Khem Misiewicz has been charged  with accepting paid travel, the services of prostitutes and Lady Gaga concert  tickets in a devastating bribery case for the US Navy

A high profile U.S. Navy commander has been  charged with accepting paid travel, the services of prostitutes and Lady Gaga  concert tickets from a Singapore-based defense contractor in exchange for  classified information according to federal prosecutors.

Commander Michael Vannak Khem Misiewicz, who  was born in Cambodia during the Vietnam War and gained media attention for his  rise to captain of a U.S. Navy destroyer, has been arrested on federal bribery  charges – in what some are calling the worst scandal to hit the Navy in  decades.

Also taken into custody and charged in  criminal complaints unsealed in U.S. district court in San Diego were Leonard  Glenn Francis, the CEO of Glenn Defense Marine Asia Ltd, and John Bertrand  Beliveau II, a special agent with the Naval Criminal Investigative  Service.

Prosecutors accuse Misiewicz, 46, of sending  Francis classified information, including ship movements, and helping arrange  visits by U.S. Navy vessels to ports where Francis’ company, Glenn Davis Marine  Asia Ltd, had contracts worth $200 million to provide tugboats, security, fuel,  waste removal and other services.

CBS News reported that maintenance for one  ship, the aircraft carrier Stennis, cost the Navy $2.7 million, which is about  double the average price charged by other ports.

In exchange, Francis furnished Misiewicz with  such gifts as travel, entertainment, luxury hotel stays and prostitutes,  prosecutors alleged.

Public Face: In this photo taken Dec. 3, 2010, U.S. navy officer Michael  

Public Face: In this photo taken Dec. 3, 2010, U.S. navy  officer Michael “Vannak Khem” Misiewicz smiles as he delivers his welcome speech  on the deck of the U.S. Navy destroyer USS Mustin at Cambodian coastal  international see port of Sihanoukville


According to the charges, the defense  contractor provided Misiewicz with five tickets to a Lady Gaga concert in  Thailand in May 2012.

‘Allegations of bribery and kickbacks  involving naval officers, contracting personnel and NCIS agents are unheard of,’  retired Adm. Gary Roughead to The Washington Post,  describing the accusation as ‘extremely serious, disconcerting and  surprising.’

The complaint also described the two men as  developing a close friendship in which Misiewicz referred to Francis by such  terms as ‘Big Brother,’ ‘Big Bro’ or ‘BB’ and the defense contractor called him  ‘Little Brother,’ ‘Little Bro’ or ‘LB.’

At the time, Misiewicz was deputy operations  officer for the U.S. commander of the Seventh Fleet, which oversees operations  over some 48 million square miles extending from Japan to Diego Garcia in the  Indian Ocean and from Vladivostok, Russia, to Australia.

The Washington Post also alleges that Glenn  Defense Marine has over-billed the Navy for the entire 25-years that it serviced  ships and vessels attached to the service.

CBS News reported that maintenance for one ship, the aircraft carrier Stennis, cost the Navy $2.7 million, which is about double the average price charged by other ports.  

CBS News reported that maintenance for one ship, the  aircraft carrier Stennis, cost the Navy $2.7 million, which is about double the  average price charged by other ports.


‘The allegations described in this complaint  describe a bribery case with all the sexy elements of a TV drama,’ Laura E.  Duffy, the U.S. attorney for the Southern District of California said in an  e-mailed statement.

Lured to his arrest: Also taken into custody and charged in criminal complaints unsealed in U.S. district court in San Diego on Tuesday were Leonard Glenn Francis 

Lured to his arrest: Also taken into custody and charged  in criminal complaints unsealed in U.S. district court in San Diego on Tuesday  were Leonard Glenn Francis


‘But the significance of the case is that it  involves huge sums of money, a wide range of players, a long period of time and  a number of countries.’

Prior to his assignment at the Seventh Fleet,  Misiewicz had been commanding officer of the USS Mustin, a forward-deployed  guided-missile destroyer.

A separate criminal complaint charged Francis  with providing Beliveau, 44, travel, entertainment, prostitutes and other gifts  in exchange for information about an NCIS investigation into his  company.

Prosecutors charged Beliveau with downloading  confidential reports about that probe from the agency’s database and conveying  that information to Francis.

Francis was arrested in San Diego last month,  while Misiewicz was taken into custody in Colorado and Beliveau in Virginia –  all mast month.

Francis, a Malaysian national, was allegedly  arrested in the United States after being duped into coming to San Diego by Navy  officials who arrested him in a sting-operation.

All three face a maximum of five years in  federal prison if convicted at trial.

According to a 2010 U.S. Navy release,  Misiewicz grew up near Phnom Penh during the Vietnam war and was adopted by an  American woman shortly before the Khmer Rouge came to power in 1975.

Reunion: Navy Cmdr. Michael V. Misiewicz, then commanding officer of the guided-missile destroyer USS Mustin, is greeted by a member of his family as the Mustin arrives in Sihanoukville, Cambodia on Dec. 3, 2010 

Reunion: Navy Cmdr. Michael V. Misiewicz, then  commanding officer of the guided-missile destroyer USS Mustin, is greeted by a  member of his family as the Mustin arrives in Sihanoukville, Cambodia on Dec. 3,  2010


He escaped the notorious ‘Killing Fields’ and  was heralded publicly for his successful rise to become the skipper of the USS  Mustin – and made an emotional returen to Cambodia in 2010, which was given huge  media attention.

The Navy said in the release that a visit by  the USS Mustin to Sihanoukville, Cambodia, in December 2010 marked his first  return to that country since his adoption 37 years earlier.

On Sunday, a senior Navy spokesman deflected  inquires into the status of the still-unfolding investigation.

‘We don’t comment on ongoing investigations,  except to say that we are committed to supporting the investigation,” the  spokesman told Fox News. “We hold our leaders to — and expect them to uphold —  high standards of conduct and professionalism.’

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Obama’s efforts to control leaks ‘most aggressive since Nixon’, report finds ( “This is the most closed, control-freak administration I’ve ever covered.” )

Administration’s tactics, which include using Espionage Act to pursue leakers, have had chilling effect on accountability – study

Karen McVeigh in New York

theguardian.com,              Thursday 10 October 2013 10.00 EDT

President Obama after talking about the possibility of a shutdown

Under Obama, the Espionage Act has been used to mount felony prosecutions against six government employees and two contractors. Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty

Barack Obama has pursued the most aggressive “war on leaks” since the Nixon administration, according to a report published on Thursday that says the administration’s attempts to control the flow of information is hampering the ability of journalists to do their jobs.

The author of the study, the former Washington Post executive editor Leonard Downie, says the administration’s actions have severely hindered the release of information that could be used to hold it to account.

Downie, an editor during the Post’s investigations of Watergate, acknowledged that Obama had inherited a culture of secrecy that had built up since 9/11. But despite promising to be more open, Obama had become “more aggressive”, stepping up the Espionage Act to pursue those accused of leaking classified information.

“The war on leaks and other efforts to control information are the most aggressive I’ve seen since the Nixon administration,” Downie said in the report, which was commissioned by the Committee to Protect Journalists.

“Those suspected of discussing with reporters anything that the government has classified as secret are subject to investigation, including lie detector tests and scrutiny of their telephone and email records,” the report says.

This had a chilling effect on government accountability, even on matters that were less sensitive, it said.

David Sanger, the chief Washington correspondent for the New York Times and one of 30 journalists interviewed by Downie, says in the report: “This is the most closed, control-freak administration I’ve ever covered.”

The report said that White House officials “strongly objected” to accusations that they did not favour disclosure, and cited statistics showing that Obama gave more interviews in news, entertainment and digital media in the first four plus years iin office than President George W Bush and Bill Clinton did in their respective first terms, combined.

They cited directives to put more government data online, speed up processing of FoI requests and limit the amount of information classified as secret.

“The idea that people are shutting up and not leaking to reporters is belied by the facts,” said Jay Carney, Obama’s press secretary says, in the report.

In his report, Downie chronicled the Obama administration’s use of the 1917 Espionage Act to prosecute leakers, and its development of a programme that requires government employees in every department to help prevent leaks to the press by monitoring the behaviour of their colleagues. The initiative, called the Insider Threat Program, was first revealed by McClatchy newspapers in June.

Under Obama, the Espionage Act has been used to mount felony prosecutions against six government employees and two contractors accused of leaking classified information to the press, including Chelsea (formerly Bradley) Manning and Edward Snowden. In all previous administrations, there had been just three such prosecutions.

Still more criminal investigations into leaks are under way, the report points out. In one of them, a Fox news reporter was accused of “being an ‘aider, abettor and/or conspirator’ of an indicted leak defendant, exposing him to possible prosecution for doing his job as a journalist.”

The report cites the outcry in May this year, when the Justice Department informed the Associated Press that it had secretly subpoenaed and seized all records for 20 AP telephone lines and switchboards for two months of 2012, after an AP investigation about the CIA’s covert operation in Yemen. Although only five AP reporters and an editor had been involved in the story, the report said, “thousands upon thousands” of newsgathering calls by more than 100 AP journalists were included in the seized records.

Following a series of meetings with journalists, after the subpoenas, the Justice Department announced revised guidelines under which investigators could subpoena and seize records.

Journalists’ concerns have been compounded by the revelations by Snowden, the report said.

Jeffrey Smith, a national security reporter at the Center for Public Integrity, and one of several journalists to express such concerns, said in the report: “I now worry about calling somebody, because the contact can be found through a check of phone records or emails. It leaves a digital trail that makes it easier for the government to monitor those contacts.”

Scott Shane, the national security reporter at the New York Times, said: “Most people are deterred by those leaks prosecutions. They’re scared to death. There’s a grey zone between classified and unclassified information and most sources were in that grey zone.”

It was having a damaging effect on democracy, Shane said. “If we consider aggressive press coverage of government activities [as] being at the core of American democracy, this tips the balance heavily in favor of the government.”

Downie said that while the administration provides information through social media, it is “mostly self-serving information, as opposed to information that would hold the government to account. Journalists are being told to speak to public affairs office, but the public affairs office doesn’t call them back or is hostile.”

The report said the Obama administration has created a climate where, even on matters not pertaining to national security, but in the public interest, government officials are reluctant to provide information, including on Freedom of Information requests.

Ann Compton, the ABC News White House correspondent who has been covering presidents since General Ford, complained that there was “no access to the daily business in the Oval Office … who the president meets with, who he gets advice from”.

“He’s the least transparent of the seven presidents I’ve covered,” Compton said in the report.

The CPJ, which commissioned the study, entitled ‘The Obama Administration and the Press’, said: “The CPJ is disturbed that the Obama administration has chilled the flow of information on issues of great public interest, including on matters of national security.

“The administration’s war on leaks to the press though the use of secret subpoenas against news organisations, its assertion through prosecution that leaking classified documents to the press is espionage or aiding the enemy; and its increased limitations on access to information that is inthe public interest – all thwart a free and open discussion necessary to a democracy.”

Joel Simon, the executive director of the CPJ, said the organisation had sent the report to the president this week, requesting a meeting with the administration to address its concerns.

Simon said: “Here you have a portion of the Washington press corp affirming that this is an extraordinarily difficult administration to cover. You combine the different elements, for instance, the leak investigations, the failure to address the declassification issue, the fact that the administration has been extremely controlling in terms of access.

“Put all these together and it paints a pretty damning picture of an administration that talks about openness and transparency but isn’t willing to engage with the media around these issues.”

The CPJ has made several recommendations to the administration, including a call for an end to prosecutions of leakers under the Espionage Act, developing policies to limit surveillance of jounalists’ communications, making good on promises to increase transparency, less restrictive responses to Freedom of Information requests, and to guarantee that journalists will not be at risk from prosecution for receiving confidential and/or classified information.



Drug companies paid big bucks to attend FDA painkiller meetings

  • Article by: Peter Whoriskey
  • Washington Post
  • October 6, 2013 – 11:15 PM


WASHINGTON – A scientific panel that shaped the federal government’s policy for testing the safety and effectiveness of painkillers was funded by major pharmaceutical companies that paid hundreds of thousands of dollars for the chance to affect the thinking of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), according to hundreds of e-mails obtained by a public records request.

The e-mails show that the companies paid as much as $25,000 to attend any given meeting of the panel, which had been set up by two academics to provide advice to the FDA on how to weigh the evidence from clinical trials. A leading FDA official later called the group “an essential collaborative effort.”

Patient advocacy groups said the electronic communications suggest that the regulators had become too close to the companies trying to crack into the $9 billion painkiller market in the United States.

FDA officials who regulate painkillers sat on the steering committee of the panel, which met in private, and cowrote papers with employees of pharmaceutical companies.

The FDA has been criticized for not taking precautions that might have averted the epidemic of addiction to prescription drugs including OxyContin and other opioids.

“These e-mails help explain the disastrous decisions the FDA’s analgesic division has made over the last 10 years,” said Craig Mayton, the Columbus, Ohio, attorney who made the public records request to the University of Washington. “Instead of protecting the public health, the FDA has been allowing the drug companies to pay for a seat at a small table where all the rules were written.”

Even as the meetings were taking place, the idea of FDA officials meeting with firms that had paid big money for an invitation raised eyebrows for some. In an e-mail to organizers, an official from the National Institutes of Health worried whether the arrangements made it look as if the private meetings were a “pay to play process.”

FDA officials did not benefit financially from their participation in the meetings, the agency said. But two later went on to work as pharmaceutical consultants and more than this, the critics said, the e-mails portray an agency that, by allowing itself to get caught up in a panel that seemed to promise influence for money, had blurred the line between the regulators and the regulated.

In a statement, the FDA said “we take these concerns very seriously.” But, it said, “we are unaware of any improprieties” associated with the group.



© 2013 Star Tribune

U.S. intelligence agencies spend millions to hunt for insider threats, document shows

By  Carol D. Leonnig, Julie Tate and Barton Gellman, Published: September 1

The U.S. government suspects that individuals with connections to al-Qaeda and other hostile groups have repeatedly sought to obtain jobs in the intelligence community, and it reinvestigates thousands of employees a year to reduce the threat that one of its own may be trying to compromise closely held secrets, according to a classified budget document.

The CIA found that among a subset of job seekers whose backgrounds raised questions, roughly one out of every five had “significant terrorist and/or hostile intelligence connections,” according to the document, which was provided to The Washington Post by former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden.

The groups cited most often were Hamas, Hezbollah, and al-Qaeda and its affiliates, but the nature of the connections was not described in the document.

So sharp is the fear of threats from within that last year the NSA planned to launch at least 4,000 probes of potentially suspicious or abnormal staff activity after scrutinizing trillions of employee keystrokes at work. The anomalous behavior that sent up red flags could include staffers downloading multiple documents or accessing classified databases they do not normally use for their work, said two people familiar with the software used to monitor employee activity.

This shrouded, multimillion-dollar hunt for insider threats has suffered from critical delays in recent years and uneven implementation across agencies, the budget records show. And the spy agencies’ detection systems never noticed that Snowden was copying highly classified documents from different parts of the NSA’s networks.

He subsequently fled to Hong Kong and then Moscow, where he remains after being granted temporary asylum.

Contractors like Snowden, an NSA spokeswoman said, were not included in the plans to reinvestigate 4,000 security clearances.

CIA officials said the number of applicants ultimately tied to terrorist networks or hostile foreign governments was “small” but declined to provide an exact number or the reasons the broader group of applicants initially raised concerns.

“Over the last several years, a small subset of CIA’s total job applicants were flagged due to various problems or issues,” one official said in response to questions. “During this period, one in five of that small subset were found to have significant connections to hostile intelligence services and or terrorist groups.” The official, like others interviewed for this article, spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss classified material.

The intelligence community’s dramatic emphasis on insider threats came in the wake of disclosures by WikiLeaks in 2010. The anti-secrecy group received hundreds of thousands of military and diplomatic documents from Army Pfc. Bradley Manning, now known as Chelsea Manning.

Congress made security a top priority and in 2011 ordered Director of National Intelligence James R. Clapper Jr. to set up “an effective automated insider threat detection program” to guard against similar security failures. The program was supposed to flag possible abuses, identify double agents and prevent leaks.

The project was delayed several times because the intelligence community was preoccupied with handling the fallout from Manning’s leaks, the budget documents show.

Congress gave Clapper an October 2012 deadline to install the automation system and until October 2013 to have it fully operating. At the Obama administration’s request, the deadlines were each pushed back a year.

Steven Aftergood, a government secrecy expert at the Federation of American Scientists, which analyzes national security policy, said he suspects the agency may respond to a lot of “false positives” — alerts for activity that is actually innocent and work-related.

“If the 4,000 cases turn up only two or three actual threats, they need to adjust their detection threshold or they’ll be using a lot of resources for no purpose,” he said.

An intelligence official knowledgeable about insider-threat programs said government agencies may need to better calibrate their software and reassess their criteria for what constitutes a realistic or likely threat.

But he added, “Insider-threat detection is an important security tool that needs to be put in place.”

NSA spokeswoman Vanee Vines said the investigations are part of an effort to try to reduce risks, not investigate known threats.

“In FY 2013, NSA planned to initiate 4,000 re-investigations on civilian employees to reduce the potential of an insider compromise of sensitive information and missions,” Vines said in a statement. “Periodic re-investigations are conducted as one due-diligence component of our multifaceted insider threat program.”

President Obama issued a national insider-threat policy in November 2012 that defines the problem as any risk that insiders will use their access to government secrets, knowingly or unknowingly, in a way that hurts U.S. security. The damage can come through “espionage, terrorism, [or] unauthorized disclosure of national security information, or through the loss or degradation of departmental resources or capabilities.”

The policy puts leakers of classified information on par with terrorists and double agents, an equivalency that critics of government secrecy find worrisome.

“It’s disturbing, because they are not the same,” Aftergood said. “There are such things as a good leak. Some classified things should be public.The official policy does not admit that distinction.”

The newly obtained budget records also reveal what some consider a new security risk in the making. The NSA is creating a massive new database, code-named WILDSAGE, to facilitate the use of sensitive intelligence. The system “provides a mechanism for cybersecurity centers to share signatures at the SECRET classification level,” the budget document said.

The NSA had not fully implemented WILDSAGE, according to the budget document. But the intelligence community also reported that it “made significant progress in FY 2011 in increasing collaboration” across cybersecurity centers and in creating architecture to share important information on risks.”

Such shared databases give government employees information they may need to track and disrupt terrorist or cyber plots, officials said.

The investigation of a 2009 plot by al-Qaeda’s affiliate in Yemen to bring down a civilian aircraft over Detroit found that government agencies failed to share information that could have flagged the would-be bomber and put him on a terrorist watch list.

A report by the Senate Intelligence Committee identified 14 failure points, including that the CIA did not disseminate some its reporting, which allowed bomber Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab to board a U.S.-bound flight from Amsterdam.

But the new NSA system has stoked fears about insiders’ access after Manning downloaded the entire contents of a similarly shared State Department database.

“It’s a valid concern,” said one intelligence official. “But the other side of this . . . is the need to share information.”

In the case of Manning’s leak, the State Department maintained a shared Net Centric diplomacy database where all secret-level cables were deposited and available to all intelligence agencies to access and search. Manning reviewed the database while creating analytic intelligence products in Iraq.

Manning was convicted last month of leaking classified information and subsequently sentenced to 35 years in prison.

A prosecutor in Manning’s case said the U.S. government ultimately has to entrust its secrets to its employees — even low-level ones.

“Military intelligence professionals go to work every day and use the information available to them to do their jobs,” said prosecutor Capt. Joe Morrow. “We can take all the mitigation steps in the world, but the bottom line is that there is no step we can take as a nation, as a military, that’s going to stop the determined insider.”



Top-secret U.S. intelligence files show new levels of distrust of Pakistan

By  , and Barton Gellman, Monday, September 2, 6:04 PM

The $52.6 billion U.S. intelligence arsenal is aimed mainly at unambiguous adversaries, including al-Qaeda, North Korea and Iran. But top-secret budget documents reveal an equally intense focus on one purported ally: Pakistan.

No other nation draws as much scrutiny across so many categories of national security concern.

A 178-page summary of the U.S. intelligence community’s “black budget” shows that the United States has ramped up its surveillance of Pakistan’s nuclear arms, cites previously undisclosed concerns about biological and chemical sites there, and details efforts to assess the loyalties of counter­terrorism sources recruited by the CIA.

Pakistan appears at the top of charts listing critical U.S. intelligence gaps. It is named as a target of newly formed analytic cells. And fears about the security of its nuclear program are so pervasive that a budget section on containing the spread of illicit weapons divides the world into two categories: Pakistan and everybody else.

The disclosures — based on documents provided to The Washington Post by former intelligence contractor Edward Snowden — expose broad new levels of U.S. distrust in an already unsteady security partnership with Pakistan, a politically unstable country that faces rising Islamist militancy. They also reveal a more expansive effort to gather intelligence on Pakistan than U.S. officials have disclosed.

The United States has delivered nearly $26 billion in aid to Pakistan over the past 12 years, aimed at stabilizing the country and ensuring its cooperation in counterterrorism efforts. But with Osama bin Laden dead and al-Qaeda degraded, U.S. spy agencies appear to be shifting their attention to dangers that have emerged beyond the patch of Pakistani territory patrolled by CIA drones.

“If the Americans are expanding their surveillance capabilities, it can only mean one thing,” said Husain Haqqani, who until 2011 served as Pakistan’s ambassador to the United States. “The mistrust now exceeds the trust.”

Beyond the budget files, other classified documents provided to The Post expose fresh allegations of systemic human rights abuses in Pakistan. U.S. spy agencies reported that high-ranking Pakistani military and intelligence officials had been aware of — and possibly ordered — an extensive campaign of extrajudicial killings targeting militants and other adversaries.

Public disclosure of those reports, based on communications intercepts from 2010 to 2012 and other intelligence, could have forced the Obama administration to sever aid to the Pakistani armed forces because of a U.S. law that prohibits military assistance to human rights abusers. But the documents indicate that administration officials decided not to press the issue, in order to preserve an already frayed relationship with the Pakistanis.

In a statement, a spokeswoman for the National Security Council said the United States is “committed to a long-term partnership with Pakistan, and we remain fully engaged in building a relationship that is based on mutual interests and mutual respect.”

“We have an ongoing strategic dialogue that addresses in a realistic fashion many of the key issues between us, from border management to counterterrorism, from nuclear security to promoting trade and investment,” said the spokeswoman, Caitlin Hayden. “The United States and Pakistan share a strategic interest in combating the challenging security issues in Pakistan, and we continue to work closely with Pakistan’s professional and dedicated security forces to do so.”

The Post agreed to withhold some details from the budget documents after consultations with U.S. officials, who expressed concern about jeopardizing ongoing operations and sources.

A spokesman for the Pakistani Embassy in Washington did not respond to a request for comment.

Critical ‘intelligence gaps’

Stark assessments of Pakistan contained in the budget files seem at odds with the signals that U.S. officials have conveyed in public, partly to avoid fanning Pakistani suspicions that the United States is laying contingency plans to swoop in and seize control of the country’s nuclear complex.

When Director of National Intelligence James R. Clapper Jr. was asked during congressional testimony last year whether Pakistan had appropriate safeguards for its nuclear program, he replied, “I’m reasonably confident they do.” Facing a similar question this year, Clapper declined to discuss the matter in open session.

But the classified budget overview he signed and submitted for fiscal 2013 warned that “knowledge of the security of Pakistan’s nuclear weapons and associated material encompassed one of the most critical set of . . . intelligence gaps.” Those blind spots were especially worrisome, the document said, “given the political instability, terrorist threat and expanding inventory [of nuclear weapons] in that country.”

The budget documents do not break down expenditures by country or estimate how much the U.S. government spends to spy on Pakistan. But the nation is at the center of two categories — counterterrorism and counter-proliferation —  that dominate the black budget.

In their proposal for fiscal 2013, which ends Sept. 30, U.S. spy agencies sought $16.6 billion to fight al-Qaeda and other terrorist groups and asked for $6.86 billion to counter the spread of nuclear, biological and chemical weapons. Together, the two categories accounted for nearly half of the U.S. intelligence community’s budget request for this year.

Detailed spreadsheets contain dozens of line items that correspond to operations in Pakistan. The CIA, for example, was scheduled to spend $2.6 billion on “covert action” programs around the world. Among the most expensive, according to current and former U.S. intelligence officials, is the armed drone campaign against al-Qaeda fighters and other militants in Pakistan’s tribal belt.

U.S. intelligence analysts “produced hundreds of detailed and timely reports on shipments and pending deliveries of suspect cargoes” to Pakistan, Syria and Iran. Multiple U.S. agencies exploited the massive American security presence in Afghanistan — including a string of CIA bases and National Security Agency listening posts along the border mainly focused on militants — for broader intelligence on Pakistan.

Anxiety over nuclear program

After years of diplomatic conflict, significant sources of tension between the United States and Pakistan have begun to subside.

The pace of CIA drone strikes has plunged, and two years have passed since U.S. leaders infuriated Islamabad by ordering the secret raid inside Pakistani territory that killed bin Laden.

Although Pakistani anger has abated, Haqqani said the fallout from the raid had broader consequences than widely understood.

“The discovery of bin Laden [in Pakistan] made the Americans think that the Pakistani state’s ability to know what happens within the country is a lot less than had been assumed,” said Haqqani, who is an international-relations professor at Boston University.

That realization may have ratcheted up a long-standing source of concern: Pakistan’s ability to safeguard its nuclear materials and components.

U.S. intelligence agencies are focused on two particularly worrisome scenarios: the possibility that Pakistan’s nuclear facilities might come under attack by Islamist militants, as its army headquarters in Rawalpindi did in 2009, and even greater concern that Islamist militants might have penetrated the ranks of Pakistan’s military or intelligence services, putting them in a position to launch an insider attack or smuggle out nuclear material.

Pakistan has dozens of laboratories and production and storage sites scattered across the country. After developing warheads with highly enriched uranium, it has more recently tried to do the same with more-powerful and compact plutonium. The country is estimated to have as many as 120 nuclear weapons, and the budget documents indicate that U.S. intelligence agencies suspect that Pakistan is adding to that stockpile.

Little is known about how it moves materials among its facilities, an area that experts have cited as a potential vulnerability.

“Nobody knows how they truly do it,” said Feroz Khan, a retired Pakistani military officer and director of arms control who lectures at the U.S. Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, Calif. “Vehicles move in a stealthy manner and move with security. But it’s not clear whether the cores are moved to the warheads or the warheads are moved to the core locations.”

Concerns persist that extremists could seize components of the stockpile or trigger a war with neighboring India. Pakistan also has a track record of exporting nuclear technology to countries that are on Washington’s blacklist.

Pakistan has accepted some security training from the CIA, but U.S. export restrictions and Pakistani suspicions have prevented the two countries from sharing the most sophisticated technology for safeguarding nuclear components.

U.S. anxiety over Pakistan’s nuclear program appears to be driven more by uncertainty about how it is run than specific intelligence indicating that its systems are vulnerable, according to the budget documents.

A lengthy section on counter-proliferation starts with a single goal: “Make Quantitative and Qualitative Progress against Pakistan Nuclear Gaps.” A table indicates that U.S. spy agencies have identified at least six areas in which their understanding of Pakistan’s weapons programs is deficient.

U.S. agencies reported gaining valuable information through “extensive efforts to increase understanding of the transfer and storage of the associated materials.”

The budget describes the creation of a Pakistan WMD Analysis Cell to track movements of nuclear materials. Agencies, including the CIA and the Defense Department, were able “to develop and deploy a new compartmented collection capability” that delivered a  “more comprehensive understanding of strategic weapons security in Pakistan.”

Even so, “the number of gaps associated with Pakistani nuclear security remains the same,” the document said, and “the questions associated with this intractable target are more complex.”

The budget documents indicate that U.S. intelligence agencies are also focused on the security of the nuclear program in India, ­Pakistan’s arch-rival.

Other fields under scrutiny

U.S. surveillance of Pakistan extends far beyond its nuclear program. There are several references in the black budget to expanding U.S. scrutiny of chemical and biological laboratories. The country is not thought to be running a rogue chemical or biological weapons program, but U.S. intelligence officials fear that Islamists could seize materials from government-­run laboratories.

Even American interdiction operations targeting other countries have stumbled into connections with Pakistan. In one case, a U.S. effort to block an Iranian shipment through a Turkish port “proved to be even more successful when aluminum powder destined for Pakistan was also discovered and detained,” according to the documents. Aluminum powder can be used to increase the power of explosives.

The budget documents don’t disclose CIA payments to its Pakistani counterpart, the Inter-
Services Intelligence directorate, or ISI, which former officials said has totaled tens of millions of dollars. The documents do show that the CIA has developed sophisticated means of assessing the loyalties of informants who have helped the agency find al-Qaeda leaders in Pakistan’s tribal region.

Those measures, which The Post has agreed not to disclose, have allowed the CIA to “gain confidence in each asset’s authenticity, reliability and freedom from hostile control.”

Extrajudicial killings

Other classified documents given to The Post by Snowden reveal that U.S. spy agencies for years reported that senior Pakistani military and intelligence leaders were orchestrating a wave of extrajudicial killings of terrorism suspects and other militants.

In July 2011, an assessment of communications intercepts and other intelligence by the NSA concluded that the Pakistani military and intelligence services had continued over the preceding 16 months a pattern of lethally targeting perceived enemies without trial or due process. The killings, according to the NSA, occurred “with the knowledge, if not consent, of senior officers.”

The NSA cited two senior Pakistani officials who “apparently ordered some of the killings or were at least aware of them,” read a summary of the top-secret NSA report, titled “Pakistan/Human Rights: Extrajudicial Killings Conducted With Consent of Senior Intelligence Officials.”

The report summary did not provide an estimate of how many people had been killed or their identities. But it generally described the targets as people whom the Pakistani security forces viewed as “undeniably linked to terrorist activity” or responsible for attacks on Pakistan’s armed forces.

The killings “seemed to serve the purpose of dispensing what the military considered swift justice,” the intelligence assessment stated. Pakistani authorities “were conscious of not arousing suspicions. The number of victims at a given time tended to be very small. Furthermore, the military took care to make the deaths seem to occur in the course of counterinsurgency operations, from natural causes, or as the result of personal vendettas.”

Although Pakistan has been engaged for years in open warfare with Taliban factions and other domestic insurgents, the NSA placed the extrajudicial killings in a much darker category. Pakistani police forces “were reluctant to carry out the killings,” the report said.

The NSA compiled its report shortly after the public exposure of other alleged Pakistani atrocities.

In June 2010, the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan charged that Pakistani forces had carried out more than 280 summary executions during an offensive against Taliban fighters and other militants, mostly in the Swat Valley. Five months later, a video surfaced on the Internet showing Pakistani soldiers executing six blindfolded men with their hands tied behind their backs.

An international outcry over the latter incident prompted the Obama administration to withhold aid — but only to a handful of low-level Pakistani army units thought to have been involved in such incidents.

At the time, Pakistani officials dismissed the video and other reports of summary executions as Taliban propaganda, but they later reversed course and launched an internal investigation. Pakistan’s military leaders insisted publicly that they had zero tolerance for such incidents.

Human rights abuses

It was not the first time that U.S. officials sought to keep evidence of Pakistani human rights abuses out of the public eye.

A classified diplomatic cable, sent from the U.S. Embassy in Islamabad to officials in Washington in September 2009, also raised concern about the extrajudicial killings of militants by Pakistani army units. But the cable — originally released in 2010 by the anti-secrecy group WikiLeaks — advised against public disclosure of the incidents, saying it was more important to maintain support for the Pakistani armed forces.

U.S. intelligence officials have kept quiet about other signs of human rights abuses by the Pakistani military, even though their classified reporting on the subject underscores persistent concerns.

In September 2011, the summary of a top-secret report from a Defense Intelligence Agency task force cited the “systemic practice” of unlawful killings by Pakistani security forces in the tribal regions of western Pakistan.

Pakistan had recently passed a law allowing the military to detain insurgents indefinitely and make it easier to convict them in civilian courts. But the DIA concluded that because extrajudicial killings were “condoned by senior officials” in Pakistan’s security establishment, the new law was unlikely to significantly reduce the number of deaths.

Other U.S. intelligence documents indicate that Pakistani officials weren’t targeting just suspected insurgents.

In May 2012, U.S. intelligence agencies discovered evidence of Pakistani officers plotting to “eliminate” a prominent human rights activist, Asma Jahangir, according to the summary of a top-secret DIA report. Jahangir had been a leading public critic of the ISI for years.

The DIA report did not identify which officers were plotting to kill Jahangir, but it said the plan “included either tasking militants to kill her in India or tasking militants or criminals to kill her in Pakistan.”

The U.S. agency said it did not know whether the ISI had given approval for the plot to proceed. Although the report speculated that the ISI was motivated to kill Jahangir “to quiet public criticism of the military,” the DIA noted that such a plot “would result in international and domestic backlash as ISI is already under significant criticism for intimidation and extra-­judicial killings.”

News of the alleged plot became public a few weeks later when Jahangir gave a round of interviews to journalists, revealing that she had learned that Pakistani intelligence officials had marked her for death. The plot was never carried out.


Julie Tate contributed to this report.



General was called ‘Poppa Panda Sexy’ pants by junior officer he was having an affair with, court hears as he faces jail for sex assault

  • Affair lasted for three years between the  general and a Captain who was 17-years younger
  • Relationship occurred across continents  and war zones as the pair encountered one another
  • Captain flew into a jealous rage and  began emailing other officers Sinclair was seeing before revealing all to Army’s  top brass
  • Sinclair also is charged with having  inappropriate relations with three other female junior officers
  • 100 witnesses have been spoken to during  investigation
  • Sinclair to be judged by five male  generals in trial at the end of September

By  Daily Mail Reporter

PUBLISHED: 19:30 EST, 17  August 2013 |  UPDATED: 19:32 EST, 17 August 2013

A married army general could face jail over  charges that he forcibly sexually assaulted a female captain

All the sordid details are coming out during  a military trail in Fort Bragg, North Carolina where the army is  court-martialling Brigadier General Jeffrey Sinclair, one of its generals, for  just the third time in fifty years.

On trial: Brigadeer General Jeffrey A. Sinclair faces court martial on charges that include forcible sodomy and adultery 

On trial: Brigadeer General Jeffrey A. Sinclair faces  court martial on charges that include forcible sodomy and adultery


It was a volatile love affair that lasted for  three years during which time the captain called her boss ‘Poppa Panda Sexy  Pants.’

Brig. Gen. Jeffrey A. Sinclair, an  Army  Ranger and paratrooper is accused of forcible sodomy, adultery and  other  charges that could land him in prison.

Prosecutors say he abused his authority by  sleeping with a subordinate officer  which is a taboo in the armed forces and a  violation of military law.

The charges also suggest that the  relationship became violent when he attempted to force the Captain to perform  oral sex.

There are also some additional charges that  allude Sinclair had inappropriate communications with three other female  officers.

Sinclair has pleaded not guilty to all  charges.


Rare court-martial: The general will be tried at the end of September of sex assault charges 

Rare court-martial: The general will be tried at the end  of September of sex assault charges


On patrol before being on trial: Brig. Gen. Jeffrey A. Sinclair served as a special assistant to the Commanding General, XVIII Airborne Corps 

On patrol before being on trial: Brig. Gen. Jeffrey A.  Sinclair served as a special assistant to the Commanding General, XVIII Airborne  Corps


Well travelled: Sinclair has been deployed to combat in Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Afghanistan but could now face jail time after conducting a sordid affair with a Captain 17 years his junior 

Well traveled: Sinclair has been deployed to combat in  Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Afghanistan but could now face jail time after conducting  a sordid affair with a Captain 17 years his junior


The case is being seen as a test of how well  the U.S. military handles allegations of sexual assault.

President Obama recently demanding a  crackdown after a host of scandals and admissions by military  leaders.

Sinclair’s trial begins at the end of  September but before then, the army is selecting a jury of five major generals,  all men, who will decide his fate.

40 generals have so far been summoned to the  military base to see if they are suitable to be included on the jury.

Almost all of the generals that were  questioned said they believed  sexual assault was a serious problem in the  ranks.

Although Sinclair has pleaded not guilty, his  attorneys have acknowledged that he carried on an affair with a subordinate  officer 17 years his junior.

Serious charges: The Army has charged Sinclair with forcible sodomy because of the oral sex allegations. More than 100 witnesses have been involved in the investigation 

Serious charges: The Army has charged Sinclair with  forcible sodomy because of the oral sex allegations. More than 100 witnesses  have been involved in the investigation


Reputation: The Army is trying to shelve its reputation of being awash with cases of sexual assault. 40 generals have been questioned so far to see if they could sit on the jury for Sinclair's upcoming trial 

Reputation: The Army is trying to shelve its reputation  of being awash with cases of sexual assault. 40 generals have been questioned so  far to see if they could sit on the jury for Sinclair’s upcoming trial


During a pretrial hearing last year, the  woman testified that the pair had sex in the general’s quarters in Iraq, in her  car in a German parking lot, in an office in Afghanistan and even on a hotel  balcony in Arizona.

The affair may well have remained a secret  however the  general and the captain  ended up bombarding one another  with explicit and angry text messages.

The Washington Post has revealed how one read: ‘You are my heart and world you beautiful magnificent  man,’ whilst the captain texted the general, ‘I need you and I mean really  deeply profusely need you.’

There was also a darker side to the affair  where the captain threatened to kill herself or expose Sinclair to his  superiors.

The affair exploded out into the open when in  Kandahar, Afghanistan, in March 2012, the captain was snooping through  Sinclair’s e-mail in his office and discovered loving messages to his wife, as  well as love notes to another female Army officer.

The captain has admitted she flew into a  jealous rage first firing off an e-mail to the other female officer, saying, ‘I  hope you don’t think you’re the only girl that he’s sleeping with.’

Witnesses: More than a 100 people have been interviewed in connection to Sinclair's affair, many of whom had turned a blind eye whilst the relationship was developing 

Witnesses: More than a 100 people have been interviewed  in connection to Sinclair’s affair, many of whom had turned a blind eye whilst  the relationship was developing


Uniquely understanding: Rebecca Sinclair, wife of General Jeff Sinclair said last year that she understood why her husband had an affair and agreed that the the strains of war had lead to infidelity 

Uniquely understanding: Rebecca Sinclair, wife of  General Jeff Sinclair said last year that she understood why her husband had an  affair and agreed that the the strains of war had lead to infidelity


Then she entered the office of Maj. Gen.  James L. Huggins, then the commander of the 82nd Airborne Division and leader of  all U.S. forces in southern Afghanistan and spent two hours confessing to the  affair.

Phonecalls and emails followed amongst the  army’s top brass and a full investigation was launched that spoke to more than  100 witnesses.

The became even more serious when the captain  accused Sinclair of sexual assault by forcing her to perform oral sex against  her will on two occasions in Afghanistan.

The Army charged Sinclair with forcible  sodomy because of the oral sex allegations.

The captain testified that the assaults  occurred between December 2011 and February 2012 but said she cannot recall the  exact dates.

Defense attorneys have accused her of making  up the assault allegations to save her Army career.

They said she first told one confidant that  the relationship was entirely consensual but gave investigators a different  version after she realized that she, too, could be kicked out of the Army for  adultery.

Sinclair also is charged with having  inappropriate relations with three other female junior officers.

In November, Sinclair’s wife, Rebecca,  stunned many in the Army when she wrote an op-ed column in The Washington Post to  declare that she was sticking by her husband and that she blamed his infidelity  on ‘the stress of war.’

Mrs Sinclair said her husband may be a  cheater but not a violent abuser. ‘I don’t excuse my husband’s bad behavior or  bad judgment,’ she said. ‘I never said it’s okay. I said I understand how it  could happen.’

Although she has not attended most of the  court proceedings, she said she’s still living with the general. ‘We’re doing  the best we can,’ she said. ‘It’s draining.’

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2396365/General-called-Poppa-Panda-Sexy-pants-junior-officer-having-affair-court-hears-faces-jail-sex-assault.html#ixzz2cLvVJNE3 Follow us: @MailOnline on Twitter | DailyMail on Facebook

Americans widely back NSA phone tracking: poll

11   Jun 2013

A solid majority of Americans support the US government’s programs tracking telephone records to try to uncover terror, a Washington Post-Pew Research Center poll found Monday.

Despite US intelligence concerns raised by contractor Edward Snowden’s leak of the government’s monitoring of private users’ Web traffic and US citizens’ phone records, Americans may be surprisingly comfortable with their loss of privacy in the interest of national security.

Overall, 56 percent of Americans told pollsters it was “acceptable” for the National Security Agency to access the telephone records of millions of Americans through secret court orders, compared to 41 percent who said it was not.

And 45 percent said the government should be able to prod further and monitor everyone’s online activity if the surveillance would prevent another terror attack like 9/11 in 2001.

However, a slim majority of 52 percent said they were against such sweeping measures.

Snowden, 29, is holed up in Hong Kong, which has an extradition treaty with the United States, and he is cooperating with the British-based Guardian newspaper, which revealed his identity at his own request.

Officials have refused to be drawn on whether Washington plans to demand Snowden’s extradition.

But President Barack Obama’s spy chief, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, has described the leak as gravely damaging to US intelligence gathering, and referred the matter to the Justice Department, which has launched an investigation

BREAKING NEWS: Defense contractor, 29, who leaked NSA documents reveals himself

  • Edward Snowden, a 29-year-old former CIA  technical assistant, says he passed the classified information to The Guardian
  • The documents  blew open a number of intense NSA surveillance operations and caused a firestorm  over the government’s actions
  • Snowden, a high  school drop-out, says he leaked information because  he doesn’t ‘want to live in  a society that does these sort of things’
  • Comes after  National Intelligence director James R Clapper defended the surveillance  programs for keeping America safe
  • NSA filed  criminal report with Justice Dept. in relation to leaks to The Guardian and The  Washington Post

By  Anna Sanders and Helen Pow

PUBLISHED: 14:09 EST, 9 June  2013 |  UPDATED: 15:34  EST, 9 June 2013

The whistle-blower responsible for leaking  confidential NSA documents in one of the most serious breaches in U.S. political  history has come forward.

Edward Snowden, a 29-year-old former CIA  technical assistant, claims he passed the classified information that blew open  a number of intense surveillance operations to the media because he doesn’t  ‘want to live in a society that does these sort of things.’

Snowden, who now works for Booz Allen  Hamilton, a defense contractor for the National Security Agency, caused a  firestorm after he leaked the top-secret documents to The Guardian over several  days of interviews.

Whistle-blower: Edward Snowden, a 29-year-old former CIA technical assistant, claims he passed the classified information to the media 

Whistle-blower: Edward Snowden, a 29-year-old former CIA  technical assistant, claims he passed the classified information to the  media


He said he wanted to own up to the leak  because he didn’t believe he’d done anything illegal.

‘I have no intention of hiding who I am  because I know I have done nothing wrong,’ he told The  Guardian.


Explaining his decision to disclose the  sensitive documents, North Carolina native said: ‘I  understand that I will be  made to suffer for my actions,’ but ‘I will be satisfied if the federation of  secret law, unequal pardon and  irresistible executive powers that rule the  world that I love are  revealed even for an instant.’

He said he was bracing for the government to  demonize him, but he hoped  that his coming forward would not divert attention  away from the  revelations he made public.

‘I really want the focus to be on these  documents and the debate which I  hope this will trigger among citizens around  the globe about what kind  of world we want to live in,’ he told The Guardian.

‘My sole motive is to inform the public as to  that which is done in their name and that which is done against  them.’

Hide out: Snowden boarded a plane to Hong Kong, pictured, on May 20 and has been there since 

Hide out: Snowden boarded a plane to Hong Kong,  pictured, on May 20 and has been there since

Snowden was living ‘a very  comfortable life’  with his live-in girlfriend in Hawaii, where he earned $200,000 with Booz  Allen.

But he said: ‘I’m willing to sacrifice all of  that because I can’t in good  conscience allow the U.S. government to destroy  privacy, internet  freedom and basic liberties for people around the world with  this  massive surveillance machine they’re secretly building.’

According to The Guardian, Snowden copied the  final set of documents he intended to disclose three weeks ago, at the NSA  office in Hawaii where he had been working.

He then told his boss and his girlfriend that  he’d be away for a few weeks, keeping the reasons vague as only someone working  in intelligence can, and on May 20, he boarded a plane to Hong Kong, where he  remains.

He chose Hong Kong because ‘they have a  spirited commitment to free speech and the right of political dissent,’ he  said.

Defensive: Director of National Intelligence James R Clapper said in a statement Saturday that disclosures on intelligence gathering practices were 'reckless' 

Defensive: Director of National Intelligence James R  Clapper said in a statement Saturday that disclosures on intelligence gathering  practices were ‘reckless’


The Director of National Intelligence James R Clapper responded Saturday to the disclosure of classified government surveillance programs as a new report sheds light on the gathering system 'Boundless Informant'Informant: The Director of National Intelligence James R Clapper released a statement on PRISM, which is reported to have been used to gather information from Internet companies like Facebook

Informant: The Director of National Intelligence James R  Clapper, left, released a statement on PRISM, which is reported to have been  used to gather information from the data centers of Internet companies like  Facebook, one of which is pictured left

'Necessary': The top intelligence official, James R Clapper, said the NSA's intelligence measures disclosed in recent reports were 'used to keep Americans safe' 

‘Necessary’: The top intelligence official, James R  Clapper, said the NSA’s intelligence measures disclosed in recent reports were  ‘used to keep Americans safe’

Snowden said he has been holed up in a hotel  room since arriving in the city, leaving it just three times for  fear he’s  being spied on.

He described to the newspaper how he rims the  door of the plush hotel  room, where he is eating all of his meals, with pillows  to prevent  anyone from eavesdropping.

Snowden has good reason to be  concerned. The  NSA – the most powerful and secretive organization in the world – is hunting him  down, having visited his home in Hawaii twice  and already contacted his  girlfriend.

Sitting in his hotel room alone, he has  watched television reports and read  articles online since the news of the leaks  first broke, and he is  well aware of the threats being thrown his  way.

And given the Obama administration’s track  record at prosecuting  whistle-blowers, he fully expects to get the same  treatment. But he  insists he is not afraid of what lies ahead because ‘this is  the choice  I’ve made,’ he told The Guardian.

According to newspaper, he broke down just  once during the series of interviews, when he was discussing the impact his  actions would have on his family, many of whom work in government agencies or  departments. He said these fears for his family’s welfare kept him up at  night.

Snowden’s ability to get to the center of the  NSA is impressive given he attended community college in Maryland to obtain his  high school diploma but dropped out before completing.

Ten years ago he enlisted in the US army and  began a training program to join the Special Forces, explaining to The Guardian  that he wanted to fight in the Iraq war because he felt he had an obligation as  a human being to help free people from oppression – the same reason he is giving  to justify his leaks. But he broke both his legs in a training accident and was  discharged.

He got his first NSA job working as a  security guard at one of the agency’s facilities at the University of Maryland  before moving to the CIA to work on IT security. There, he rose  quickly.

He was given more and more access to  top-secret documents as he climbed the ranks. And in 2007, he was stationed with  diplomatic cover in Geneva, Switzerland, where he was responsible for  maintaining computer network security.

The clearance sparked his concern for the  intense surveillance detailed in the documents.

He told The Guardian of one incident where  CIA operatives got a Swiss banker drunk in an effort to recruit him as an  informant to obtain secret banking information.

He said they encouraged him to drive home  intoxicated in his car and when he was arrested for DUI, the undercover agents  offered to help and managed to recruit the banker after the favor.

He said this and other things he witnessed in  Geneva disillusioned him about how his government worked and how this in turn  impacted the world.

‘I realized that I was part of something that  was doing far more harm than good,’ he said.

He told The Guardian that he first considered  exposing the Government’s secrets in Geneva but he chose not to because he  didn’t want to endanger anyone – the CIA deals in people rather than systems or  technology.

When he quit that role in 2009, he took up a  job with an outside contractor and was assigned to an NSA facility in  Japan.

He said he was disappointed President Obama  advanced the policies he was hoping the newly elected President was stamp out,  and that ‘hardened’ him.

He said he could no longer wait around for  someone else to act, and after spending three years learning just how ‘intent’  the NSA was to make every conversation and behavior in the world known to them,  he took the leap.

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2338534/Edward-Snowden-speaks-CIA-analyst-29-leaked-NSA-documents-reveals-himself.html#ixzz2VknIm4jO Follow us: @MailOnline on Twitter | DailyMail on Facebook

Spy program shows just how well US knows its people


They're watching you <i>(Image: Lucas Jackson/Reuters)</i>They’re watching you (Image: Lucas Jackson/Reuters)

The US government is watching every digital move that Americans make. More than 115 million people use Verizon’s cellphone service in the US, making billions of calls every year. A top-secret document revealed this week shows that the US government, through the National Security Agency, is collecting the details of every single one of those calls on a daily basis. To make matters worse, The Washington Post and The Guardian newspapers today claimed that the NSA also has direct access to the search history, email and even live chats of all customers of the world’s biggest technology firms, including Google, Apple and Facebook.

By turning over what surely amounts to billions of call logs to the US government, Verizon is enabling what is likely to be the broadest surveillance scheme in history. And the likelihood is that it is not the only one.

The secret court order was granted by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court in Washington DC, which oversees surveillance requests. It forces Verizon to turn over its data. But while the order makes it clear that content – the words exchanged during calls – is not collected, that’s little comfort from a privacy perspective. Using network science, it is easy to manipulate large databases like this to figure out exactly who is behind every phone number, who they’ve talked to, when, where and for how long. The NSA probably doesn’t care to track the movements and activities of every person in the Verizon database, but the possibility is just a mouse click away.

Four calls to find you

We don’t know exactly how the NSA analyses these huge lists of records, but we do know what kinds of insights can be drawn from data sets on this scale. Yves-Alexandre de Montjoye from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Vincent Blondel from the Université Catholique de Louvain (UCL) in Belgium and colleagues analysed 1.5 million anonymised call records from a Western cell carrier. They showed that it takes just four calls or text messages, each made at a different time and place, to distinguish one person’s movements from everyone else’s (Nature Scientific Reports, doi.org/msd).

Patterns of communication form a digital fingerprint in time, and finding every thing, person and place you have interacted with becomes easy. Such records are exactly the kind of information we now know that Verizon, and likely every other US carrier, is handing over to the NSA on a daily basis.

Judge Roger Vinson, at the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, signed an order on 25 April obliging Verizon to hand data “including but not limited to session identifying information, trunk identifier… and time and duration of call” over to the NSA on a daily basis. In a news conference on Thursday morning (6 June), Senator Dianne Feinstein confirmed that this is just a monthly renewal of a secret order which has been in effect for seven years.

Identifying information refers to the phone numbers of those making and receiving a call or text. The trunk identifier shows which cell towers the calling and receiving phones talked to – the callers’ locations, in other words. Blondel says that datasets like those Verizon is handing over could be used to build up a precise picture of different communities.

Chris Clifton, who works on data privacy at Purdue University in Indiana, says he expects the NSA doesn’t always know exactly what it’s looking for in the call metadata, but rather uses software to sort the records into groups by similarity – people who make lots of calls, for example, or people who never call abroad. Patterns in time could be useful too. If one call appears to spark off a whole flurry of other calls, that might conceivably mean the first phone number belongs to an authority figure in a criminal organisation, for instance.

They know everything

“You’re trusting the phone companies with this data like you’re trusting your bank with your financial transactions,” Blondel says. “They know when you go for surgery, divorce – they know everything.”

“Any sensible question you can ask about the call metadata would be answered in a fraction of a second by five-year-old supercomputers,” says cryptographer Daniel Bernstein from the University of Illinois, Chicago. This means the NSA’s giant supercomputing centre in Utah is massive overkill for analysing measly Verizon call logs. Perhaps it would be more useful for crunching internet data.

An NSA Powerpoint presentation discovered by The Guardian newspaper in London and the Washington Post claims that the NSA is gaining direct access to the servers of the world’s biggest tech firms to spy on internet activity. According to the slides, Google, Yahoo, Apple, Facebook and more are all signed up to a scheme, known as PRISM, which lets the NSA access their customers’ search history, chat logs and emails. The presentation says that data gained from PRISM is used to create nearly 1 in 7 of all intelligence reports. Executives of all the firms implicated have denied knowledge of any such programme and refute the allegation that they have been handing over their customers’ data in this way.

But even if the NSA does not have full internet access, it’s still relatively easy for it to access private data on the internet. Details are scarce, but there is one confirmed case where the NSA was caught in the act. An AT&T engineer named Mark Klein provided evidence that the NSA was skimming a copy of all internet traffic that passed through an AT&T data centre in San Francisco in 2003.

Now Andrew Clement and a team of information scientists at Toronto University in Canada is using that model of surveillance to try and give internet users a sense of whether and where their internet activities are being logged by the NSA. Clement’s system, called IXMaps, has aggregated thousands of traceroutes – information trails which map the paths taken by packets of data as they are directed through the routers and exchanges which make up the internet in the US.

Internet monitoring

A paper due to be presented at the International Symposium on Technology and Society in Toronto at the end of June shows that 99 per cent of internet traffic passing through the US goes through one of just 18 US cities. The paper notes that this shows it is completely feasible for the NSA to be monitoring the majority of US internet traffic with just a handful of warrantless listening posts. These would use ‘splitters’ that split the beam of light in fibre-optic cables to siphon off information. “It is powerful confirmation that it is technically feasible for the NSA to install splitters in relatively few strategic internet choke points from where it could intercept a very large proportion of internet traffic,” it says.

Nancy Paterson, who works on IXMaps with Clement, says the internet is not a random collection of network links, routing data in the most efficient way possible. Instead, the way data moves across the net is tightly controlled according to the business interests that run the subnetworks within it. This control makes blanket monitoring feasible.

“Routing isn’t what you used to call it. The best-effort internet has changed to a highly centralised, controlled space,” she says. “It’s not your grandmother’s internet.”

Although privacy protection may not seem to be on the NSA’s priority list, Clifton says he knows the organisation has people actively working on techniques which would let it analyse data effectively while not breaching privacy. “If they get too intrusive on the data people will be up in arms and they will lose access,” he says. “If they protect privacy they can get more data. They view it as part of their mission.”

De Montjoye says the NSA revelations emphasise the need for new systems which allow rich datasets like mobile phone data to be used while protecting privacy at the same time. An ongoing project in MIT, called openPDS, aims to do exactly this. OpenPDS works by only allowing third parties to ask questions of a customer dataset, never actually getting their hands on the raw data. De Montjoye says this, combined with legal systems which notify individuals when their data has been searched, and auditing systems that record who is searching for what information and when, could change the privacy debate. “I think that such a ‘mixed approach’ to privacy is the way forward,” he says.



By the numbers: The NSA’s super-secret spy program, PRISM

   Posted By Elias Groll     Thursday, June 6, 2013 - 8:00 PM


In a bombshell scoop, the Washington Post is reporting that the National Security Agency (NSA) has gained direct access to the servers of nine prominent Internet companies, enabling the spy agency to track e-mails, photographs, and video, among other forms of digital communciation.

The highly classified program, known as PRISM, has emerged as a central tool in the NSA’s arsenal and, according to documents detailing the program’s operation, is run with the assistance of the Silicon Valley tech companies it targets. The exposure of the program — which was also reported by the Guardian — is the latest in a string of reports detailing government snooping that have reignited the debate in Washington over the proper balance between privacy and national security.

To put that debate in perspective, here’s how PRISM stacks up by the numbers based on what we’ve learned today:

1,477: The number of times data obtained via PRISM has been cited in the president’s daily intelligence briefing.

1 in 7: The proportion of NSA intelligence reports using raw material from PRISM.

77,000: The number of intelligence reports that have cited PRISM.

2,000: The number of PRISM-based reports issued per month.

24,005: The number of PRISM-based reports issued in 2012 alone, which was a 27 percent increase from the previous year.

9: The number of tech companies whose servers NSA has access to via PRISM.

6: The number of years PRISM has been in operation.

2: The number of presidential administrations PRISM has operated under.

51 percent: The minimum confidence of a target’s “foreignness” when an NSA analyst uses PRISM.

248 percent: The increase in 2012 in the number of Skype communications intercepted via PRISM

131 percent: The increase in 2012 in PRISM requests for Facebook data.

63 percent: The increase in 2012 in PRISM requests for Google data.

$20 million: The annual cost of PRISM.

$8 billion: The estimated annual budget of the NSA.

35,000 to 55,000: The estimated number of employees at the NSA.

0: The number of times Twitter has agreed to participate in PRISM.

1: The number of ad campaigns by Microsoft, the first company to agree to participate in PRISM, in which the company declares “your privacy is our priority.”

Here’s that ad:



Forget phones, PRISM plan shows internet firms give NSA everything

Microsoft, Google, Apple and Yahoo! and others open their legs servers

By Iain Thomson in San Francisco

Posted in Security, 7th June 2013 00:23 GMT

It has been a rough 24 hours for the US National Security Agency. First a leaked court order [1] (and the political reaction [2]) showed that the agency routinely harvests US mobile-use data, and now a new document has been uncovered that claims to show the larger internet companies do the same thing.

A 41-page presentation [3], given in April this year and obtained [4] by the Washington Post, details the PRISM project, a system described as being the largest single source of information for NSA analytic reports. PRISM apparently gives the NSA access to email, chat logs, any stored data, VoIP traffic, files transfers, social networking data, and the ominously named “Special Projects”.

Nine companies are currently part of PRISM. Microsoft was the first firm to sign up on Sept 11, 2007, with Yahoo! coming in the following year, the presentation states. Google and Facebook joined in 2009, the following year YouTube got on board, followed by Skype (before Redmond took it over) and AOL in 2011.

Apple held out for five years, but signed up in October last year, and video chat room provider PalTalk is also on board, with DropBox billed as coming soon. Twitter is conspicuous in its absence from the presentation’s list – which is reassuring – but given the other big names apparently playing ball, the social networking firm’s stand makes little difference.

The claimed PRISM participantsThe claimed PRISM participants

According to the Post, the presentations states that data from PRISM made it into 1,477 presidential briefing articles last year and is used in one out of seven NSA intelligence reports. The NSA’s searches are supposed to target non-US citizens, it appears, but an analysts was told “it’s nothing to worry about” if US data got purloined.

El Reg has contacted companies named in the report and has receive few answers. Microsoft says a statement is being prepared and only Google was prepared to go on the record.

“Google cares deeply about the security of our users’ data. We disclose user data to government in accordance with the law, and we review all such requests carefully. From time to time, people allege that we have created a government ‘back door’ into our systems, but Google does not have a ‘back door’ for the government to access private user data,” it said in a statement.

Meanwhile, Apple told CNBC “We have never heard of PRISM. We do not provide any government agency with direct access to our servers,” with Facebook also denying it allows “direct access” to its servers.

But you can do a lot of twisting with language – as Bill Clinton showed with his quibbling over the meaning of the word “is [5]” during the Monica Lewinsky saga. Every government agent this hack has talked to says the US government never spies on its own people, but is it spying if this data collection is legal?

The Verizon scandal, and not the accusations of PRISM, makes a statement by the Director of National Intelligence James Clapper in congressional testimony [6] somewhat suspect.

Clapper was asked by Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) if the NSA collected information on millions or hundreds of millions of Americans. “Not wittingly,” was Clapper’s reply. “There are cases where they could inadvertently perhaps collect, but not wittingly.” Those words now sound rather hollow. ®

Top Democratic spokesman causes Twitter explosion with complaint about news organizations boycotting ‘off the record’ briefing with US attorney general

  • ‘Some in the media refuse to meet with’ Eric  Holder, wrote top DNC flack Brad Woodhouse. ‘Kind of forfeits your right [to]  gripe.’
  • The DO staff ‘can just find how [reporters]  feel via subpoenaed email and phone records,’ snarked one Buzzfeed  journalist
  • ‘Jesus, Brad,’ came a reply from Politico’s  top media reporter
  • ‘Notice how people on both sides of the  aisle are pointing out how dumb that is?’ wrote a Daily Caller  blogger.

By  David Martosko In Washington

PUBLISHED: 21:07 EST, 30 May  2013 |  UPDATED: 08:37  EST, 31 May 2013

The U.S. Department of Justice has offered  major news organizations a chance to sit down with Eric Holder, the embattled  attorney general, for a briefing a Q-and-A session about his agency’s intrusive  surveillance of reporters, but there is one catch: The entire session must be  ‘off the record,’ meaning reporters couldn’t write anything at all about  it.

Most of the media outlets invited to the  meeting have announced that they’re boycotting it, including the Associated  Press and Fox News – the two whose phone records and emails were secretly seized  as part of DOJ investigations into national security leaks. And Brad Woodhouse,  the communications director for the Democratic National Committee, is  angry.

He tweeted Thursday that President Barack  Obama asked Holder ‘to review how leak investigations are done but some in the  media refuse to meet with him.’

That, Woodhouse said, ‘[k]ind of forfeits  your right [to] gripe.’

Cue the outrage, which came equally from  journalists on the political right and left.

Brad Woodhouse, the Americans United for Change spokesman who now flacks for the Democratic National Committee, didn't make any friends in the media on Thursday


Brad Woodhouse, the Americans United for Change  spokesman who now flacks for the Democratic National Committee, didn’t make any  friends in the media on Thursday


Woodhouse slammed the AP, Fox News, the NY Times, the Huffington Post and other news outlets that refused to attend an 'off the record' briefing with Eric Holder, the embattled attorney general 

Woodhouse started the fracas by slamming the Associated  Press, Fox News, the New York Times, the Huffington Post and other news outlets  that refused to attend an ‘off the record’ briefing with Eric Holder, the  embattled attorney general

Don Surber, an editorial writer at The Daily  Mail – not this news organization’s print edition in London, but a daily  newspaper in Charleston, West Virginia – snarked in a tweeted reply that  ‘forfeits your right’ is ‘the motto of this administration.’

‘Oh, and Brad Woodhouse,’ Surber followed up  in a later tweet, ‘your rights come from God. You cannot forfeit  them.’


Politico media reporter Dylan Byers was more  succinct. ‘Jesus, Brad,’ he tweeted.

Gregg Keller, the executive director of the  American Conservative Union, seemed to take joy in seeing the left-leaning  Politico cross swords with the Democratic Party. His tweeted response consisted  of one long guffaw: ‘HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA.’

Byers’ news organization is among a list of  very few that have said they will meet with the attorney general on his terms.  Others include ABC News, the Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, and the  LA Times and Chicago Tribune, which share a Washington bureau chief in  common.

Politico's Dylan Byers, who reports on the media, is on a first-name basis with the top Democratic communicator but didn't like what he heard 

Politico’s Dylan Byers, who reports on the media, is on  a first-name basis with the top Democratic communicator but didn’t like what he  heard

Buzzfeed's Andrew Kaczynski slapped back, referring to the Department of Justice's now-scandalous seizure of phone records and emails from AP and Fox News journalists 

Buzzfeed’s Andrew Kaczynski slapped back, referring to  the Department of Justice’s now-scandalous seizure of phone records and emails  from AP and Fox News journalists



'TV's Andy Levy,' as he's introduced each night on the Fox News program 'Red Eye,' took a break from his daily yuk-fest to launch a serious barb in Woodhouse's direction 

‘TV’s Andy Levy,’ as he’s introduced each night on the  Fox News program ‘Red Eye,’ took a break from his daily yuk-fest to launch a  serious barb in Woodhouse’s direction

CNN, CBS News, Reuters, McClatchy,  The New York Times and The Huffington Pot  have joined Fox News and The Associated Press in refusing to attend.

The Washington Post’s agreement to meet with  Holder has raised eyebrows in the nation’s capital, but Post executive editor  Marty Baron defended his decision on his newspaper’s media blog.

‘I prefer that any meeting be on the record,’  Baron said. But ‘journalists routinely participate in off-the-record sessions,  whether they prefer those conditions or not, and then continue to report on  events.

‘I am going to this meeting in order to  represent our interests as journalists and to raise our concerns. I’ll also  listen to what the Attorney General has to say. I trust that our journalists  will report on this as vigorously as they would any other  subject.

Ron Fournier, the editorial director at National Journal and a respected voice inside the DC beltway, took isdue with how Woodhouse suggested government should balance the press's First Amendment protections with national security issues 

Ron Fournier, the editorial director at National Journal  and a respected voice inside the DC beltway, took isdue with how Woodhouse  suggested government should balance the press’s First Amendment protections with  national security issues


Is Woodhouse right? Journalists do meet with sources for 'off the record' conversations all the time ... 

Is Woodhouse right? Journalists do meet with sources for  ‘off the record’ conversations all the time …


There's the rub: Reporters set the terms. Sources can't force journalists to listen -- something he thinks an experienced political spokesman should know 

There’s the rub: Reporters set the terms. Sources can’t  force journalists to listen — something he thinks an experienced political  spokesman should know

Andrew Kaczynski, a BuzzFeed Politics  journalist who is a widely acknowledged master of reporting on political  archival videos, connected the DOJ’s request for secret meetings with its  equally secretive snooping on the AP and Fox News.

If Holder and his staff want reactions from  journalists, he tweeted, ‘I suppose they can just find how they feel via  subpoenaed email and phone records.’

The Daily Caller’s house blogger, Sean  Medlock – a conservative humorist  who writes under the pseudonym ‘Jim  Treacher,’ was quick to pour salt in Woodhouse’s wounds.

‘Notice how people on both sides of the aisle  are pointing out how dumb that is?’ he wrote. ‘You must be doing all kinds of  things right.’


Conservative partisans aplenty complemented journalists from left-leaning outlets like Politico and Buzzfeed. Surber is an editorial writer for that 'other' Daily Mail, the newspaper in Charleston, West Virginia 

Conservative partisans aplenty complemented journalists  from left-leaning outlets like Politico and Buzzfeed. Surber is an editorial  writer for that ‘other’ Daily Mail, the newspaper in Charleston, West  Virginia

Josh Earnest, the White House’s principal  deputy press secretary, took questions from reporters aboard Air Force One on  Thursday, and the topic quickly turned to Holder’s attempted charm offensive  aimed at journalists.

‘You can understand that a meeting about  concerns journalists have about the First Amendment being off the record is sort  of on its face hypocritical, don’t you?’ asked one reporter, according to the  White House’s transcript.

‘No,’ Earnest replied. ‘I don’t actually see  that. … I don’t think there’s any doubting the seriousness with which the  attorney general is pursuing what he has identified and what the president has  identified as a genuine priority. And we are genuinely interested in the input,  the opinion, the advice, the expertise of leaders of prominent media  organizations.’

‘Is the President at all concerned that  Holder is just under so much scrutiny at this point that it might affect his  ability to get his job done?’ the reporter pressed Earnest?

‘Not in the least,’ came his  reply.

New York Post columnist and Commentary magazine editor John Podhoretz sniped at the Democratic spokesman's tweet-grammar, among other thigns 

New York Post columnist and Commentary magazine editor  John Podhoretz sniped at the Democratic spokesman’s tweet-grammar, among other  thigns


The AIDS Policy Project took issue with Woodhouse and hat-tipped the New York Times for being among the first to show 'some spine' in turning the administration down flat 

The AIDS Policy Project took issue with Woodhouse and  hat-tipped the New York Times for being among the first to show ‘some spine’ in  turning the administration down flat

But reporters themselves – those who tweet,  in any event – saw the White House as hypocritical and Woodhouse as  foolish.

‘Wow,’ Fox News personality Andy Levy, a  co-star of the nightly show Red Eye, tweeted at Woodhouse. ‘It’s hard to believe  Americans are cynical about politics with people like you around.’

National Journal editorial editor director  Ron Fournier, a former Associated Press bureau chief in Washington, checked his  sarcasm at the door and engaged Woodhouse seriously.

‘The balance between security/liberty  deserves better than your spin,’ he wrote.

There’s ‘lot of spin on both sides, Woodhouse  wrote, in the his only tweeted reply to a reporter. ‘Are journos not going  saying they never meet with subjects off the record? Happens  everyday.’

‘On our terms,’ Fournier snapped. ‘Not the  government’s.’

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'Jim Treacher,' The Daily Caller's pseudonymous in-house humor blogger, noted the bi-artisan tsunami and kicked Woodhouse while he was down 

‘Jim Treacher,’ The Daily Caller’s pseudonymous in-house  humor blogger, noted the bi-artisan tsunami and kicked Woodhouse while he was  down. his Twitter avatar is a nod to President Obama’s autobiographical  confession that he once ate dog meat while growing up

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2333676/Top-Democratic-spokesman-causes-Twitter-explosion-complaint-news-organizations-boycotting-record-briefing-US-attorney-general.html#ixzz2UsrfrLAP Follow us: @MailOnline on Twitter | DailyMail on Facebook

Report: Chinese Hackers Breach Top Weapons Designs

May. 28, 2013 – 05:59PM   |
By DOUG STANGLIN USA Today and the Defense News staff   |

Cyber Attack Targets Australia Spy Headquarters

Cyber Attack Targets Australia Spy Headquarters: Hackers traced to a server in China have stolen the floor plans for the new Australia Security Intelligence organization, according to a local report.

Chinese hackers have gained access to the designs of many of the nation’s most sensitive advanced weapons systems, according to a report prepared for the Defense Department and government and defense industry officials,The Washington Post reported Tuesday.

The compromised weapons designs include, among others, advanced Patriot missile system, the Navy’s Aegis ballistic missile defense systems, the F/A-18 fighter jet, the V-22 Osprey, the Black Hawk helicopter and the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter.

The confidential report was prepared by the Defense Science Board, a senior advisory group of government and civilian experts.

It does not accuse the Chinese of stealing the designs but says that the designs of more than two dozen systems were compromised, the Post reported.

The report comes a month before President Obama will meet with visiting Chinese President Xi Jinping in California. It also coincides with reports in the Australian media that Chinese hackers had allegedly stolen blueprints for Australian’s new spy headquarters.

An alleged breach of U.S. systems was noted in a public report issued by the advisory panel in January, but the section of the report listing the compromised weapons system remained classified until Tuesday. The public version had warned that the Pentagon is unprepared to counter a full-scale cyber conflict.

Pentagon Press Secretary George Little said the Pentagon maintains “full confidence” in its weapon platforms.

“The Department of Defense takes the threat of cyber espionage and cybersecurity very seriously, which is why we have taken a number of steps to increase funding to strengthen our capabilities, harden our networks, and work with the defense industrial base to achieve greater visibility into the threats our industrial partners are facing,” Little said. “Suggestions that cyber intrusions have somehow led to the erosion of our capabilities or technological edge are incorrect.”

The Chinese government has insisted that it does not conduct cyber espionage on U.S. agencies or companies, and government spokesmen often complain that Beijing is a target of U.S. cyber attacks, the Post noted.


US targeted Fox News reporter as ‘co- conspirator’ in government spying case

Washington Post reports FBI sought phone records and emails of James Rosen as part of spying case against goverment official

Tom McCarthy         guardian.co.uk,              Monday 20 May 2013 13.15 EDT

Fox News hat

Rosen has not been charged in the case, but Steven Jin-Woo Kim has been charged with handing over a classified document. Photograph: Stan Honda/AFP/Getty Images

The Obama administration has investigated a reporter with Fox News as a probable “co-conspirator” in a criminal spying case after a report based on a State Department leak.

The Justice Department named Fox News’s chief Washington correspondent James Rosen “at the very least, either as an aider, abettor and/or co-conspirator” in a 2010 espionage case against State Department security adviser Stephen Jin-Woo Kim. The accusation appears in a court affidavit first reported by the Washington Post.

Kim is charged with handing over a classified government report in June 2009 that said North Korea would probably test a nuclear weapon in response to a UN resolution condemning previous tests. Rosen reported the analysis on 11 June under the headline ‘North Korea Intends to Match UN Resolution With New Nuclear Test’.

The FBI sought and obtained a warrant to seize all of Rosen’s correspondence with Kim, and an additional two days’ worth of Rosen’s personal email, the Post reported. The bureau also obtained Rosen’s phone records and used security badge records to track his movements to and from the State Department.

Fox News issued a sharply worded statement on Monday calling the episode “downright chilling”.

“We are outraged to learn today that James Rosen was named a criminal co-conspirator for simply doing his job as a reporter,” Fox News executive vice-president of news editorial Michael Clemente said in the statement. “In fact, it is downright chilling. We will unequivocally defend his right to operate as a member of what up until now has always been a free press.”

Rosen has not been charged with a crime in the case. Kim was indicted in August 2010 on charges of violating the Espionage Act of 1917, one of a batch of six cases in which the Obama administration began to use the first world war-era spying law to prosecute suspected government whistleblowers.

Even in cases of historic import in which the Espionage Act was used to prosecute whistleblowers, notably the 1971 Pentagon Papers case, the government did not, in spite of strenuous efforts, find grounds to prosecute the media for publishing the results of a leak. The government has not charged WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange for the publication online of an unprecedented amount of classified material. However, Assange, who has taken refuge at the Ecuadorian embassy in London, has said he expects to be charged.

The government has prosecuted and even imprisoned journalists in leak cases in the past for the journalists’ refusal to disclose a confidential source. In such cases, notably the 2005 Judith Miller case, journalists have been charged with contempt of court.

Instead of relying on the threat of a contempt charge to get journalists to divulge their sources, the Obama administration has used warrantless wiretapping and dragnet records seizures to identify who is talking to whom.

Last week it emerged that the Department of Justice had seized phone records for more than 20 lines used by the Associated Press, in possible violation of regulations governing such seizures. There have been no reports of the government accusing journalists of criminal activity in that case.



IRS targeted 298 nonprofit US groups critical of government and involved in political activities

США Америка ГР Нью-Йорк статуя свободы
Statue of Liberty

© Photo: Voice of Russia

The US Internal Revenue Service singled out for scrutiny groups with “tea party” or “patriot” in their names as well as nonprofit groups that criticized the government and sought to educate Americans about the U.S. Constitution, according to documents in an audit conducted by the agency’s inspector general.

 The IRS focused on groups who applied for tax-exempt status and who were focusing on “criticizing how the country was being run” and those that were involved in educating Americans “on the Constitution and Bill of Rights.”

 Part of the report is dedicated to “social welfare” groups that draw extra attention since the Supreme Court ruled a decision allowing corporations and labor unions to raise and spend unlimited sums on elections as well as register for tax-exempt status.

 Since the ruling came out, the number of political groups applying for tax-exempt status doubled. Out of the 298 groups selected for special scrutiny, 72 had “tea party” in their title, 13 had “patriot” and 11 had “9/12.”

 The groups that applied for tax-exempt status and have been involved in political activity or a social activity have opened themselves up to scrutiny by the IRS. But at the moment, there are no proper criteria or standards of what should be recognized as political activity.

 The groups were asked to supply information on their relationship with current candidates and elected officials as well as future candidates, along with detailed information about its contributors and members.

 Voice of Russia, the Washington Post



China slams Abe over comments in Washington Post

Feb. 22, 2013 – 04:10PM JST


China on Friday slammed Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe for telling a U.S. newspaper that Beijing had a “deeply ingrained” need to challenge its neighbors over territory.

Abe, visiting the United States for talks with President Barack Obama, told the Washington Post in an interview published Thursday that Beijing uses disputes with Japan and others to shore up its domestic support.

The Japanese leader’s trip comes as tensions between the Asian giants escalate over rival claims to a group of small islands in the East China Sea that the Chinese call the Diaoyus and the Japanese refer to as the Senkakus.

China’s confrontational stance risked eventually harming its economy and scaring off foreign investors, Abe added.

“Such behavior is going to have an effect on their economic activity at the end of the day,” the paper quoted him as saying. “In the case of China, teaching patriotism (is equivalent to) teaching anti-Japanese sentiment.”

Beijing fired back, with foreign ministry spokesman Hong Lei saying Chinese officials were “shocked” at the comments, according to the state-run Global Times newspaper.

“It’s rare that a country’s leader would brazenly distort facts, attack its neighbor and instigate confrontation among countries in the region,” it quoted Hong as saying.

China was demanding a clarification and explanation over the comments, he added.

Japan administers the uninhabited islands, though China and Taiwan also claim them. The dispute has simmered for decades but tensions spiked last year after the Japan nationalised islets in the chain it did not already own.

China responded angrily, with violent street demonstrations damaging Japanese businesses and property, with some Japanese citizens reporting being harassed and physically attacked.

Beijing and Tokyo have both scrambled jets to ward off moves by the other side and fishing boats and government maritime ships have played cat-and-mouse in the vicinity of the islands.

Earlier this month, Tokyo alleged that a Chinese frigate locked its weapons-targeting radar on a Japanese destroyer in what it characterised as a dangerous escalation. Beijing denied the charge.

© 2013 AFP



World heritage disaster: rebels torch Timbuktu’s priceless relics

Fleeing insurgents set fire to buildings containing  20,000 ancient documents as French troops approach

LAST UPDATED AT 14:46 ON Mon 28 Jan  2013

ISLAMIST insurgents have dealt a “devastating blow” to the world’s heritage  by torching buildings in Timbuktu containing thousands of priceless documents,  some of them 900 years old.

Claims that as many as 20,000 historic manuscripts have been destroyed  emerged as French-led troops advanced into the ancient desert trading post today  after seizing the airport.

News of the fires has been greeted with dismay. The documents were described  by The Guardian as “a unique record of sub-Saharan Africa’s  medieval history” and the oldest of them dated back to 1204.

“The manuscripts survived for centuries in Timbuktu on the edge of the Sahara  hidden in wooden trunks, boxes beneath the sand and caves,” the paper said. “The  majority are written in Arabic, with some in African languages, and one in  Hebrew, and cover a diverse range of topics including astronomy, poetry, music,  medicine and women’s rights.”

Halle Ousmani Ciffe, the city’s mayor, said: “This is terrible news. The  manuscripts were a part not only of Mali’s heritage but the world’s heritage. By  destroying them they threaten the world.”

Timbuktu was renowned as a holy city of Sufi saints and learning and it is  feared many saints’ shrines, dotted around the city, have been vandalised. The  Washington Post claims that “the militants have  systematically destroyed UNESCO World Heritage sites” since taking the city last  April, and imposed strict Sharia law.

French forces are being “careful” to avoid combat inside the city, reports Reuters, so as not to cause any further unnecessary  damage.

Timbuktu, a byword for any far-flung destination, remained undiscovered by  Europeans until the 1830s, reports the BBC. Even today there is no tarmac road to the city.

“For centuries, [Europeans] tried to reach the place because it was a  mythological place of trade and Islamic scholars,” explained Marie Rodet,  lecturer at the School of Oriental and African Studies in London.

French and Malian troops have encountered little resistance so far in their  efforts to retake Timbuktu after seizing the eastern city of Gao on  Saturday.

But their relatively rapid advance has been been possible because the  Islamists tend to “melt away” into desert hideouts, taking their vehicles and  weapons with them, says Thomas Fessy of the BBC. “Hunting them down in this vast region they [the  insurgents] know better than any army will be much harder.”

The Independent agrees. “French sources are delighted by the  relative smoothness of their operation to help the Malian government to defeat  the rebels. They have warned, however, that the conflict may soon enter a  hit-and-run guerrilla phase.” ·

Read more:  http://www.theweek.co.uk/world-news/51227/world-heritage-disaster-rebels-torch-timbuktus-priceless-relics#ixzz2JIEhtVYZ

Italian Mafia corrupts green energy sector, sting operations show

3:34 AM  01/25/2013

The Italian Mafia has heavily infiltrated the country’s renewable energy  sector, according to reports of sting operations there.

Since the early 2000s, when governments started flooding global energy  markets with cheap loans, organized crime elements have taken advantage of loose  money and oversight to penetrate multinational corporations.

In a typical scenario, says The Washington Post, Mafia bosses have been  shaking down local land permit holders and leasing their permits to developers,  seeking to build solar parks and wind farms as part of subsidy programs.

A Mafia informant told BBC News that criminal groups have also been  partners in companies issued state subsidies. They have also manipulated  accounting at different stages to hide payments to themselves, according to the  informant.

President Barack Obama made a renewed push for renewable energy in his second  inaugural address this week.

“The path towards sustainable energy sources will be long and sometimes  difficult. But America cannot resist this transition. We must lead it,” he  said.

Read more:  http://dailycaller.com/2013/01/25/italian-mafia-corrupts-green-energy-sector-sting-operations-show/#ixzz2J0OLSjh9

The Army’s obesity problem: By the numbers

*Repost at request
In 2007, 116 troops were dismissed for being out of shape. In the first 10 months of this year, that figure was a rather massive 1,625
By Samantha Rollins | December 11, 2012
Members of the U.S. Army at a food court: While these soldiers look rather fit, some of their colleagues are struggling to stay in shape.
Members of the U.S. Army at a food court: While these soldiers look rather fit, some of their colleagues are struggling to stay in shape.
Spencer Platt/Getty Images

When an entire nation has an obesity problem, it should be no surprise that its army will have one as well. These days, being “too fat to fight” is an increasingly common concern in the U.S. military. According to The Washington Post, obesity is now the leading cause of ineligibility among potential Army volunteers and current military personnel. Indeed, as pressure mounts for the Army to cut its budget, it has begun to dismiss troops who need to cut a few pounds. Here, a look at the Army’s weight problem, by the numbers:

Maximum weight, in pounds, for female enlistees

Maximum weight, in pounds, for male enlistees

Troops dismissed from the Army in 2007 for being out of shape

Troops dismissed from the Army in the first 10 months of 2012 for being out of shape

Percent of U.S. troops classified as overweight or obese in 2010

Percent of U.S. adults who are obese

Percent of civilians hoping to volunteer for the Army in 2009 who were physically ineligible to join, with obesity being the leading cause

Report: Syrian Rebels Have New Anti-Aircraft Missiles

Nov. 29, 2012 – 10:35AM   |

WASHINGTON — Syrian rebels have recently obtained up to 40 shoulder-fired anti-aircraft missiles, the Washington Post reported Nov. 29, citing Western and Middle Eastern intelligence officials.

Some of the missiles were supplied in the past weeks by Qatar, the newspaper reported, citing two unnamed Middle Eastern intelligence officials with knowledge of the matter.

“It should be worrying to everyone,” one of the officials said. “When (Syrian President Bashar al-) Assad is finished, terrorists could end up with these, and commercial flights would be at risk.”

The U.S. government has opposed arming Syrian rebels with such weapons, fearing that they could eventually land in the hands of terrorists. U.S. intelligence officials declined to comment on the report.

The report comes after the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said Nov. 27 that the Syrian rebels downed an army helicopter with a ground-to-air missile.

“It is the first time that the rebels have shot down a helicopter with a surface-to-air missile,” Observatory director Rami Abdel Rahman told AFP.

The Britain-based Observatory said the missile was part of a consignment newly received by the rebels that had the potential to change the balance of forces in the 20-month conflict.

More than 40,000 people have died since the conflict erupted in March 2011, according to the Observatory.

The Sins Of General David Petraeus

Engineering Evil: Need second confirmation on article data.

Petraeus seduced America. We should never have trusted him.


Michael Hastings   BuzzFeed Staff posted  a few minutes ago

Posted  Nov 11, 2012  5:43pm EST

The fraud that General David Petraeus perpetrated on America started many years before the general seduced Paula Broadwell, a lower-ranking officer 20 years his junior, after meeting her on a campus visit to Harvard.

More so than any other leading military figure, Petraeus’ entire philosophy has been based on hiding the truth, on deception, on building a false image. “Perception” is key, he wrote in his 1987 Princeton dissertation: “What policymakers believe to have taken place in any particular case is what matters — more than what actually occurred.”

Yes, it’s not what actually happens that matters — it’s what you can convince the public it thinks happened.

Until this weekend, Petraeus had been incredibly successful in making the public think he was a man of great integrity and honor, among other things. Most of the stories written about him fall under what we hacks in the media like to call “a blow job.” Vanity Fair. The New Yorker. The New York Times. The Washington Post. Time. Newsweek. In total, all the profiles, stage-managed and controlled by the Pentagon’s multimillion dollar public relations apparatus, built up an unrealistic and superhuman myth around the general that in the end did not do Petraeus or the public any favors. Ironically, despite all the media fellating, our esteemed and sex-obsessed press somehow missed the actual blow job.

Before I lay out the Petraeus counter-narrative — a narrative intentionally ignored by most of the Pentagon press and national security reporters, for reasons I’ll soon explain — let me say this about the man once known as King David, General Betray-Us, or P4, by his admirers, his enemies, and his fellow service members, respectively. He’s an impressive guy, a highly motivated individual, a world-class bullshit artist, a fitness addict, and a man who spent more time in shitty places over the past 10 years than almost any other American serving his or her country has. I’ve covered him for seven years now, and he’ll always have my respect and twisted admiration.

So it’s fair to say that P4 probably deserves something a little better than the public humiliation he’s about to endure. Sources who long feared him have already begun to leak salacious details; one told me this weekend that he took Broadwell along with him on a government-funded trip to Paris in July 2011. And questions about his role in the Benghazi debacle are also likely to deepen.

And Broadwell, too, is about to get slandered in a way no woman deserves. She’s the Pentagon’s Monica Lewinksy — and, despite Team Petraeus’ much advertised lip service to courage and integrity, it didn’t take long for his allies to swarm the press with anonymous quotes smearing the West Point graduate and married mother of two. That she wore “tight clothes,” as The Washington Post reported, or that she had her “claws in him.” In other words, how could Old Dave have resisted that slut’s charms?

Pretty shitty behavior, all around. As Petraeus ally and counterinsurgency scholar Dr. Andrew Exum might put it, stay classy!

But the warning signs about Petreaus’ core dishonesty have been around for years. Here’s a brief summary: We can start with the persistent questions critics have raised about his Bronze Star for Valor. Or, that in 2004, during the middle of a presidential election, Petraeus wrote an op-ed in The Washington Post supporting President Bush and saying that the Iraq policy was working. The policy wasn’t working, but Bush repaid the general’s political advocacy by giving him the top job in the war three years later.

There’s his war record in Iraq, starting when he headed up the Iraqi security force training program in 2004. He’s more or less skated on that, including all the weapons he lost, the insane corruption, and the fact that he essentially armed and trained what later became known as “Iraqi death squads.” On his final Iraq tour, during the so-called Surge, he pulled off what is perhaps the most impressive con job in recent American history. He convinced the entire Washington establishment that we won the war.

He did it by papering over what The Surge actually was: We took the Shiites’ side in a civil war, armed them to the teeth, and suckered the Sunnis into thinking we’d help them out too. It was a brutal enterprise — over 800 Americans died during The Surge, while hundreds of thousands of Iraqis lost their lives during a sectarian conflict that Petraeus’ policies fueled. Then he popped smoke and left the members of the Sunni Awakening to fend for themselves. A journalist friend told me a story of an Awakening member, exiled in Amman, whom Petraeus personally assured he would never abandon. The former insurgent had a picture of the Petraeus on his wall, but was a little hurt that the general no longer returned his calls.

MoveOn may have been ill-advised to attack the general as “Betray Us” in Washington, but there was little doubt that many in the Awakening felt betrayed.

Petraeus was so convincing on Baghdad that he manipulated President Obama into trying the same thing in Kabul. On Afghanistan, he first underhandedly pushed the White House into escalating the war in September 2009 (calling up columnists to “box” the president in) and waging a full-on leak campaign to undermine the White House policy process. Petraeus famously warned his staff that the White House was “fucking” with the wrong guy.

The doomed Afghanistan surge would come back to bite him in the ass, however. A year after getting the war he wanted, P4 got stuck having to fight it himself. After Petraeus frenemy General Stanley McChrystal got fired for trashing the White House in a story I published in Rolling Stone, the warrior-scholar had to deploy yet again.

The Afghan war was a loser, always was, and always would be — Petraeus made horrible deals with guys like Abdul Razzik and the other Afghan gangsters and killed a bunch of people who didn’t need to be killed. And none of it mattered, or made a dent in his reputation. This was the tour where Broadwell joined him at headquarters, and it’s not so shocking that he’d need to find some solace, somewhere, to get that daily horror show out of his mind.

(This past summer, there were more attacks in Afghanistan than in the summer before The Surge, a devastating statistic. I could keep going, but if you’re interested, check out The Operators: The Wild and Terrifying Inside Story of America’s War in Afghanistan.)

How did Petraeus get away with all this for so long? Well, his first affair — and one that matters so much more than the fact that he was sleeping with a female or two — was with the media.

(For the record: Who really cares whom P4 is sleeping with? The idea that the FBI was investigating his sex life says more about the FBI and our absurd surveillance and national security state than it does about King David’s morality.)

Petraeus’ first biographer, former U.S. News and World Report reporter Linda Robinson, wrote a book about him, then went to CENTCOM to work for him. Yes — a so-called journalist published a book about him, then started getting a paycheck from him soon after. This went largely unremarked upon.

Another huge supporter was Tom Ricks, a former Washington Post journalist who found a second career as unofficial press agent for the general and his friends. Ricks is the ringleader of what I like to call “the media-military industrial complex,” setting the standard for its incestuous everyday corruption. He not only built Dave up, he facilitated the disastrous liaison between Broadwell and Petraeus. Ricks helped get Broadwell a literary agent, a six-figure book deal, and a publisher.

Broadwell was sold to publishers as much for her looks as what she was writing — she was an attractive package to push Petraeus and his counterinsurgency ideas. Little Brown editor Geoff Shandler once told me how “hot” he thought Broadwell was after she came in to meet him at his office, and indicated to me that Broadwell had made him somewhat aroused. Intellectual integrity all around, to be sure.

Ricks blurbed her in “All In,” and earlier had promoted her content on his blog — the oddly titled Travels With Paula, a headline he slapped to a story about the U.S. military’s total destruction of a small village in southern Afghanistan. Broadwell described the ultra-violent wipeout in favorable terms — and when she was confronted with an angry villager whose house had been destroyed, she wrote that the Afghan’s tears and anger were a “a fit of theatrics.”

This was the kind of bullshit Ricks and Broadwell had been pushing — and it not only wasn’t called bullshit, it was embraced as serious work. Ricks wasn’t the only offender, of course — Petraeus more or less had journalists from many major media outlets slurping from the Pentagon’s gravy train. The typical route was to have all the cash and favors funneled through a third party like the Center For A New American Security.

CNAS was a Petraeus-inspired operation from its inception in 2007, and it made its reputation promoting Petraeus’ counterinsurgency plans. No problem, right? Except that it put the journalists who were covering those same plans and policies on its payroll. For instance, New York Times Pentagon correspondent Thom Shanker took money and a position from CNAS and still covered the Pentagon; Robert Kaplan, David Cloud from the Los Angeles Times, and others produced a small library’s worth of hagiographies while sharing office space at CNAS with retired generals whom they’d regularly quote in their stories.

But Petraeus’ crash is more significant than the latest nonsense sex scandal. As President Obama says, our decade of war is coming to an end. The reputations of the men who were intimately involved in these years of foreign misadventure, where we tortured and supported torture, armed death squads, conducted nightly assassinations, killed innocents, and enabled corruption on an unbelievable scale, lie in tatters. McChrystal, Caldwell, and now Petraeus — the era of the celebrity general is over. Everyone is paying for their sins. (And before we should shed too many tears for the plight of King David and his men, remember, they’ll be taken care of with speaking fees and corporate board memberships, rewarded as instant millionaires by the same defense establishment they served so well.)

Before Dave fell for Paula, we fell for Dave. He tried to convince us that heroes aren’t human. They are human, like us, and sometimes worse.


Yet more security concerns emerge about Paula Broadwell’s access to Petraeus:” disregarded normal CIA security procedures”

Yet more security concerns emerge about Paula Broadwell’s access to Petraeus

By Max Fisher , Updated: November 10, 2012

CIA Director David Petraeus (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

Newly reported information about CIA Director David Petraeus’s alleged affair with Paula Broadwell, the military intelligence officer who also co-wrote a biography of the retired general, has focused more and more on the security risks that their secret relationship may have posed to the famously security-obsessed Central Intelligence Agency.

The FBI investigation that unraveled the story seems to have begun with threatening e-mails that Broadwell allegedly sent to another woman close to Petraeus, according to an extensive report by The Washington Post’s Sari Horwitz and Greg Miller. Investigators initially feared that Petraeus’s personal e-mail had been compromised. The Wall Street Journal reported that Broadwell or someone close to her had attempted to access that  account. Given the sensitivity of even Petraeus’s personal e-mail, outside access to its contents could have presented a significant national security risk.

Broadwell’s access to Petraeus appears to have been high, perhaps inappropriately so, even before the e-mail threats and FBI investigation. The Associated Press reports that some in the CIA had worried at how freely their director had invited her into his world, and at the spotlight-seeking Broadwell’s care with what she learned.

But her access was unsettling to members of the secretive and compartmentalized intelligence agency, where husbands and wives often work in different divisions, but share nothing with each other when they come home because they don’t “need to know.”

In one incident that caught CIA staff by surprise, Broadwell posted a photograph on her Facebook page of Petraeus with actress Angelina Jolie, taken in his 7th floor office where only the official CIA photographer is permitted to take photos. Petraeus had apparently given Broadwell the photo just hours after it was taken.


Posting a photo of Petraeus with a movie star on a Facebook page is obviously not much of a national security breach. But what may have raised concern is the pair’s apparent disregard, at least in this incident, for following security procedures and for circumspection. If she was posting unapproved photos of the CIA director’s office on her Facebook wall, then, you have to wonder, what did she see as too sensitive for social media but fine to share with friends? Or what did Petraeus feel was appropriate to share with her privately?

The point is not that Broadwell had access to anything more sensitive than a forbidden photo of her secret lover’s office, or that Petraeus had to share anything more. The point is that they, based on the reports out so far, disregarded normal CIA security procedures — which would also require disclosing a secret affair, given the potential for blackmail — and appeared to have invented their own. That Petraeus would invite someone into his personal and professional world — especially someone who was well known for being temperamental — without regard for normal security standards would be no small breach.



Critics question Petraeus’ timing : No longer has to testify at the Benghazi hearing

Critics question Petraeus’ timing
By: Katie Glueck
November 9, 2012 05:45 PM EST
Gen. David Petraeus’s resignation from the CIA on Friday sparked skepticism among media pundits and journalists that the Obama administration had stalled the bombshell until after the election.“Petraeus resignation. Timing, everything suspicious,” tweetedRupert Murdoch, the CEO and founder of News Corp. “There has to be more to this story.”Dana Perino, the former White House spokeswoman for President George W. Bush, noted on Fox News that Petraeus’s announcement came several days before Senate hearings on the attacks on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, at which he was supposed to testify but no longer will be.“Five days before the [Benghazi] hearing…it does legitimately raise some eyebrows,” Perino said.Others on Twitter pointed to news reports highlighting the CIA’s connection to the Benghazi consulate that came under attack.

“COINCIDENCE?! Petraeus is set to testify NEXT week at a closed door session on Capitol Hill abt Benghazi. Did BHO push him out? This stinks!” tweeted conservative radio host Laura Ingraham.

Ben Shapiro of the conservative Breitbart.com thought the Obama administration was involved and had covered up the news until after the election.

“This is only the latest in a string of groundshaking events demonstrating that the Obama administration hid information vital to the American people during the last days of the 2012 election cycle,” he wrote. “The fact that the most respected soldier of his generation, Petraeus, would be leaving the administration during an Obama second term, had to be known by the White House prior to the election. And they said nothing in order to run out the clock.”

And it wasn’t just conservatives raising questions.

“Petraeus: cheating husband or scapegoat on #Benghazi?” tweeted Elise Labott, a foreign affairs reporter for CNN.

Noam Scheiber of The New Republic asked, “In practice, is there really such low tolerance for spies who have affairs? I’d be shocked if so.”

“The substantive case for stepping down seems to be that you can blackmail an adulterer. But can you once the lapse is known?” tweeted the Washington Post’s Ezra Klein. “IE, if Petraeus admitted the affair to his wife and perhaps the WH, what good would the blackmail do?”

© 2012 POLITICO LLC http://www.politico.com/news/stories/1112/83654.html?hp=l1

Hillary Clinton sticks to plan to resign from State Dept in January

­US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced that she still intends to resign her position January, she said in a Friday interview with the Washington Post. “I’m aiming to leave shortly after the inauguration; that’s my plan. But I haven’t been able to sit down and talk to the president yet because he’s trying to win an election,” she said. Once the election is over, she added, she and President Obama will talk about the transition. Clinton has said on a number of occasions that she would only serve one term as Secretary of State.


Mali coup led by US-trained captain

Published: 24 March, 2012, 16:14 Edited: 24 March, 2012, 21:49

A US Africa Command official confirmed on Friday the leader of military coup d’état in Mali has visited the US on several occasions, receiving professional military education.

­Captain Amadou Haya Sanogo participated in the America’s International Military Education and Training program, sponsored by the US State Department, Public Affairs representative Patrick Barnes revealed to The Washington Post.

Foreign officers are handpicked for the program by US embassies in respective countries. The Malian army is very small, consisting of only 7,000 personnel. With the given small number of officers in this army, it is no wonder that Sanogo had a good chance to get to the US.

On March 22, just a month before a presidential election in the country, Sanogo and soldiers loyal to him stormed the presidential palace in the capital Bamako and overthrew President Amadou Toumani Toure.

The reason for the rebellion was stated as the existing leadership’s relaxed attitude towards Touareg tribes’ insurrection in this north-western African country.

The coup claimed three lives, leaving about 40 wounded.

Amadou Haya Sanogo has made a statement saying he is not going to stay in power for long. He promised that as soon as the army manages to contain a Tuareg insurgency in the northern part of the country a new election will be called.

The captain said he will be glad to continue to serve in the army after the election.

He also claimed the country’s deposed president is being held safely not far from the capital, and promised to bring Amadou Toumani Toure to court.

Rebel soldiers are currently busy looting throughout the city of Bamako. Sanogo denounced their actions, blaming the looting on “ill-intentioned individuals” trying to turn public opinion against the coup.

Despite condemning the coup, the US is not planning to reconsider its $140-million aid program to Mali in 2012.

Conversely, on Friday the African Union suspended Mali’s membership of that organization.



Life not improving for Europeans, says survey: 54 percent, are “struggling” and 10 percent are “suffering.”

Posted By Betsi Fores On 2:06 PM  10/15/2012 @ 2:06 PM In Daily Caller News Foundation,World

The Nobel Peace Prize-winning European Union does not receive such rave reviews from its own residents, according to a new Gallup polls.

“As the European Union struggles with a continuing economic crisis, residents’ life evaluation ratings show little or no improvement, and in some countries, they have worsened further,” Gallup writes.

The survey found that 37 percent of EU residents are “thriving” while the majority, 54 percent, are “struggling” and 10 percent are “suffering.”

Much like the United States, conditions within the European Union widely differ. Northern countries were much more likely to say they were “thriving” than southern countries, that include Greece and Spain — both fraught with state debt.

The EU’s impending Nobel Peace Prize has triggered debate as the region struggles with low growth and fiscal problems.

“The E.U. is getting a pat on the back for just showing up, or hanging on long enough to grab the prize,” Jennifer Rubin wrote in the Washington Post.

Rubin continued, “The Nobel Prize is for those who extend peace, promote human rights and do something for others. Where has the E.U. promoted peace? It’s flopped as an interlocutor in the Middle East. It’s come up empty in defanging the Iranian nuclear menace.”

European Union leaders will convene Oct. 18-19 to resolve differences on what is to be done for Greece and Spain amid fears of a global recession.

“The summit will highlight how much remains to be done,” JPMorgan of London economist Alex White told Bloomberg News.

Gallup’s survey shows that life ratings in Greece and Spain have deteriorated the most since 2008.

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Sensitive U.S. files unguarded in Libya embassy: report _Embassy Security was to be paid about $4.00/hr

By Agence France-Presse Wednesday, October 3, 2012 20:07 EDT

Consulate building in Benghazi via AFP

WASHINGTON — A trove of documents, including travel plans and security contracts, lay unguarded at what remains of the American consulate in Benghazi, said a reporter who entered the building on Wednesday.

A Washington Post journalist discovered the papers after he gained access to the diplomatic mission where US ambassador Chris Stevens was killed in the eastern Libyan city, and the newspaper displayed some of them on its website.

Among hundreds of scattered documents was a purported contract to provide security at the embassy, naming the provider as Blue Mountain Libya.

“The amount of 5.21 LYD will be paid per hour (8 hour shift) for the duration of the employees employment with the Company,” it said, citing an amount that represents slightly more than $4 per hour.

Stevens was killed at the consulate on September 11 and among documents that remain visible three weeks later are his schedule for the period of September 10 to 14, the Post reported.

Four weeks before the US elections on November 6 the Benghazi attack is a dominant theme of the campaign, as Republican opponents seek to make political capital out of it, alleging that there were serious security lapses.

The Post said that although the gates to the Benghazi compound were locked in the days that followed the attack, looters were able to roam in the initial aftermath and many other documents may have disappeared.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton pledged Wednesday to answer lingering questions about the incident, seeking to counter criticism from Republicans.

But she warned against snap judgments, despite the growing clamor for information about the attack in which three other Americans died alongside Stevens