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RINF VIDEO: PRISM ‘Five Eyes’ Secrecy Brought To EU Court

Civil liberties group, Privacy International, has filed a legal challenge in The European Court of Human Rights against the British government insisting that they...

Largest class action against Facebook will look at PRISM

RINF Alternative News The largest class action against the social media giant has begun, gaining the support of over 60,000 Facebook users and is expected to investigate...

The U.S. Secret State and the Internet: “Dirty Secrets” and “Crypto Wars” from “Clipper...

Back in the 1990s, security researchers and privacy watchdogs were alarmed by government demands that hardware and software firms build “backdoors” into their...

Prism “Voice Collection”, SMS Messages, E-mail: New Evidence of Widespread NSA Spying on France,...

France's Le Monde published a report Monday based on documents leaked by Edward Snowden describing National Security Agency (NSA) spying operations directed against the...

French ministers told to use only secure comms post-PRISM

Simon SharwoodThe Register.co.ukSept. 13, 2013 French newspaper L'Express has published a memo it says comes from...

Leaked Document Reveals Government Paid Millions to PRISM Participants

Government offered millions to tech companies in exchange for unlimited consumer data access Julie WilsonInfowars.comAugust 23,...

Three Different Prisms? Parliament Seeks Clarity in NSA Scandal

Veit Medick and Philipp Wittrock Spiegel Online July 26, 2013 A Thursday meeting in German parliament was supposed to shed light on NSA surveillance...

NSA Surveillance Through the Prism of Political Repression

July 28th marks the 35th anniversary of the political assassination of two Puerto Rican independence activists, Carlos Soto Arriví and Arnaldo Darío Rosado, in...

Despite Participation in PRISM, Microsoft Warns of Threat to Constitution

“The Constitution is suffering.” That was the message sent July 16 by Microsoft general counsel Brad Smith in a letter to U.S. Attorney General...

Microsoft Instrumental in NSA’s Prism Program

Kurt Nimmo Infowars.com July 12, 2013 Software giant Microsoft worked closely with the National Security Agency in its effort to surveil the...

PRISM and the Rise of a New Fascism

In his book Propaganda, published in 1928, Edward Bernays wrote: “The conscious and intelligent manipulation of the organised habits and opinions of the masses...

Would the NSA's PRISM Have Prevented 9/11?

Former Vice President Dick Cheney said on Fox News Sunday this week that if the National Security Agency's daily collection of private telephone records...

Would the NSA's PRISM Have Prevented 9/11?

Former Vice President Dick Cheney said on Fox News Sunday this week that if the National Security Agency's daily collection of private telephone records...

RINF VIDEO: PRISM is barely scratching the surface…

Mick Meaney looks at the reality of the global surveillance network and explains how PRISM is just a small part in a decades-long agenda...

NSA Spying: From the UN to PRISM

“It’s déjà vu all over again.” It was Yogi Berra’s classic observation in 1947, and one eminently appropriate for Edward Snowden more than a...

NSA Deception Operation? Questions Surround Leaked PRISM Document’s Authenticity

“I can’t in good conscience allow the US government to destroy privacy, Internet freedom and basic liberties for people around the world with this...

NSA PRISM Leaker Eric Snowden May Soon Disappear

Gordon RupeInfowars.comJune 12, 2013 Former NSA spy turned whistleblower Edward Snowden may soon ‘disappear’ following his...

The Predictable Response to Edward Snowden’s Disclosure of PRISM

Now that the source of the leak published last week in the Washington Post has identified himself, the response from defenders of the surveillance state...

Edward Snowden: The man who exposed PRISM

Edward Snowden, the whistleblower who leaked detailed National Security Agency documents on how information is stockpiled on millions of Americans, said he could have...

The Predictable Response to Edward Snowden’s Disclosure of PRISM

Now that the source of the leak published last week in the Washington Post has identified himself, the response from defenders of the surveillance state...

Hague under fire over GCHQ-PRISM intel sharing, slams leaks

The accusations that the US spying program PRISM was shared with the UK’s Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) are “baseless,” Foreign Secretary William Hague told MPs. He deplored classified data leaks, saying they create a “misleading picture.”

PRISM Whistleblowing. Edward Snowden: Former CIA Man behind the NSA Intelligence Leak

Edward Snowden: former CIA man behind the NSA intelligence leak The 29-year-old source behind the biggest intelligence leak in the NSA’s history explains his motives,...

PRISM fallout: Hague says UK citizens have ‘nothing to fear’ from GCHQ surveillance

Law-abiding citizens need not fear intelligence sharing between the US and UK, Britain’s Foreign Secretary promised. His comments follow reports data gathered in the...

PRISM fallout: Hague says UK citizens have ‘nothing to fear’ from GCHQ surveillance

Law-abiding citizens need not fear intelligence sharing between the US and UK, Britain’s Foreign Secretary promised. His comments follow reports data gathered in the...

Whistleblower hunt: NSA launches criminal inquiry into PRISM leak

The National Security Agency (NSA) has requested a criminal probe to track down those responsible for the leak of the PRISM global internet surveillance...

Assange on PRISM: US justice system in ‘calamitous’ collapse

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has slammed a recently exposed NSA mass-surveillance scheme as a "calamitous collapse in the rule of law." Google, Facebook and...

Anonymous leaks NSA documents linked to PRISM

David TomTech SpotJune 7, 2013 After much of the world was shocked by allegations that the...

'How little rights you have:' Anonymous leaks more PRISM-related NSA docs

Hackers affiliated with the Anonymous collective have leaked a US Department of Defense memo relating to the PRISM program, revealing that the National Security...

MP Fears The ‘Merciless Prism Of Equality’

Conservative MP Edward Leigh attacked plans to allow gay people to marry on Tuesday fearing the "merciless prism of equality", much to the confusion of those watching the Commons debate.

The debate on the government's same-sex marriage bill has exposed deep divisions within the Conservative Party on the issue, with some of the most pro-gay marriage and anti-gay marriage speeches coming from the same side of the House.

Leigh said that while people should be treated with tolerance, MPs had to be "very careful that law and reality do not conflict".

"We have to get away from the idea that every single thing in life can be forced through the merciless prism of equality," he said.

He added: "We should be concerned with equality, but not at the expense of every other consideration, not at the expense of tradition."

Leigh also said that marriage was "profoundly pro-woman" as it was "generally men who have the propensity to want to wander off into other relationships" leaving them "holding the baby".

To which another MP responded: "Speak for yourself."

Loading Slideshow...

  • Conor Burns MP

    'the merciless prism of equality'. Jesus wept

  • Martin White

    "Merciless Prism of Equality" is confirmed as the title of the next Bond film. 007 races against time to stop a bigoted, villainous opponent

  • Hotdogs of Instagram

    I would like @grifteezy to make me an avi featuring a merciless prism of equality. Thanks.

  • Naomi

    "We have to get away from the idea that everything can be forced through the merciless prism of equality" Wait...these people are in charge?

  • backontrack

    RT @unfortunatalie: "We have to get away from the idea that everything can be forced through the merciless prism of equality" -actual thing a Tory MP just said.

  • pajh

    Hold the merciless prism of equality up to your eyes and everything looks FABULOUS.

  • Kat Dadswell

    RT @Buster_Bear: Indiana Jones and the Merciless Prism of Equality #notcomingsoon

  • Lili la Scala

    RT @FelixRatbastard: QUAIL, EARTHLINGS BEFORE THE MERCILESS PRISM OF EQUALITY.

  • Dean

    Indiana Jones and the Merciless Prism of Equality #notcomingsoon

  • John Dinnewell

    Why are all the MPs hiding from this debate? Are they too scared of this "merciless prism of equality"? #equalmarriage

  • Mike Hillier

    RT @shakeandcrawl: "Forced through the merciless prism of equality" sounds like the best sexual euphemism ever

  • pumpkin ticks

    The "merciless prism of equality" sounds like one of the levels of buerocracy in 'brazil'

  • Seán

    'Merciless Prism of Equality' - it sounds like the name of a DJ set at a club night (the night would be called 'Binders full of women')

Change My Mind: Is Gay Marriage A Necessary Move Towards Equality?

MP Fears The ‘Merciless Prism Of Equality’

Conservative MP Edward Leigh attacked plans to allow gay people to marry on Tuesday fearing the "merciless prism of equality", much to the confusion of those watching the Commons debate.

The debate on the government's same-sex marriage bill has exposed deep divisions within the Conservative Party on the issue, with some of the most pro-gay marriage and anti-gay marriage speeches coming from the same side of the House.

Leigh said that while people should be treated with tolerance, MPs had to be "very careful that law and reality do not conflict".

"We have to get away from the idea that every single thing in life can be forced through the merciless prism of equality," he said.

He added: "We should be concerned with equality, but not at the expense of every other consideration, not at the expense of tradition."

Leigh also said that marriage was "profoundly pro-woman" as it was "generally men who have the propensity to want to wander off into other relationships" leaving them "holding the baby".

To which another MP responded: "Speak for yourself."

Loading Slideshow...

  • Conor Burns MP

    'the merciless prism of equality'. Jesus wept

  • Martin White

    "Merciless Prism of Equality" is confirmed as the title of the next Bond film. 007 races against time to stop a bigoted, villainous opponent

  • Hotdogs of Instagram

    I would like @grifteezy to make me an avi featuring a merciless prism of equality. Thanks.

  • Naomi

    "We have to get away from the idea that everything can be forced through the merciless prism of equality" Wait...these people are in charge?

  • backontrack

    RT @unfortunatalie: "We have to get away from the idea that everything can be forced through the merciless prism of equality" -actual thing a Tory MP just said.

  • pajh

    Hold the merciless prism of equality up to your eyes and everything looks FABULOUS.

  • Kat Dadswell

    RT @Buster_Bear: Indiana Jones and the Merciless Prism of Equality #notcomingsoon

  • Lili la Scala

    RT @FelixRatbastard: QUAIL, EARTHLINGS BEFORE THE MERCILESS PRISM OF EQUALITY.

  • Dean

    Indiana Jones and the Merciless Prism of Equality #notcomingsoon

  • John Dinnewell

    Why are all the MPs hiding from this debate? Are they too scared of this "merciless prism of equality"? #equalmarriage

  • Mike Hillier

    RT @shakeandcrawl: "Forced through the merciless prism of equality" sounds like the best sexual euphemism ever

  • pumpkin ticks

    The "merciless prism of equality" sounds like one of the levels of buerocracy in 'brazil'

  • Seán

    'Merciless Prism of Equality' - it sounds like the name of a DJ set at a club night (the night would be called 'Binders full of women')

Change My Mind: Is Gay Marriage A Necessary Move Towards Equality?

Lawmakers endorse renewing NSA’s most controversial spying powers — RT US News

Senators are pushing to reauthorize some of the US Intelligence agencies’ most sweeping and controversial spying...

US spy chiefs implore Congress to ‘reauthorize’ mass surveillance of internet users — RT...

US intelligence officials are fighting to renew the controversial spying program which allows agencies to conduct...

FBI director says agency couldn’t hack into nearly 7,000 encrypted devices — RT US...

Federal agents failed to hack into 6,900 mobile devices protected by encryption, the FBI director told...

The Paradox of Cyclical Ingenuity and Virtual Democracy

In Hellenic times, theatre was regarded as the institution that held all other institutions up to public examination and scrutiny. Its’ function was to...

‘There Is Myopia in Western Media Covering the Refugee Crisis’

Janine Jackson interviewed Vijay Prashad about displaced people for the July 7, 2017, episode of CounterSpin. This is a lightly edited transcript. ...

Miami Conference Signals Further Militarization of US Policy in Central America

In a high-level meeting Friday, the presidents of Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador will discuss the region’s security with American and Mexican officials. Innocuous...

Microsoft and the CIA

Recently, an instalment of WikiLeaks’ Vault7 documents came to light that exposed two CIA malware programs that specifically infect Microsoft computers with the purpose...

Tech giants call for privacy protections in surveillance reform

Technology firms, including Facebook and Google, have suggested five "changes" for Congress to consider while reforming...

Saving America’s Great Places

I’m writing this from Yellowstone National Park. Established in 1872, this was our first National Park. The world’s first, in fact. In an interesting window...

In Time for the Reform Debate, New Documents Shed Light on the Government’s Surveillance...

The ACLU on Friday released more than a dozen new documents concerning the government’s warrantless surveillance of millions of Americans. They were obtained from...

The Return of the Dangerous ‘Obama Did Nothing’ Narrative on Syria

One of great ironies of our oversaturated media environment is that, often, the biggest falsehoods and most transparent acts of political theater enjoy the...

US lawmakers want to know how many Americans under surveillance

Top members of the House Judiciary Committee have asked the Trump administration to reveal how many...

The Fictitious Economy: Hiding How the Economy Really Works

Photo by frankieleon | CC BY 2.0 Michael Hudson, author of the newly released J is for Junk Economics, says the media and academia use...

We Must Rein in President Trump’s Spying Powers

It’s been just over a month since Donald J. Trump assumed the enormous powers of the U.S. presidency, including the power to control the...

Fear and Misunderstanding of Russia

Much of America’s recent demonization of Russia relates to deep cultural and even religious differences between the two countries, requiring...

Community Rights: A Key to Conservation in Central America

Uaxactún, Guatemala -- Research has shown that indigenous peoples and local communities play a key role in biodiversity and forest conservation in Central America...

Death, taxes and condoms: Bonanza year for hot-button ballot issues

Voters in 35 states will not only be considering the next US president but 154 ballot...

Source Betrayed: the Washington Post and Edward Snowden

Sergey Kohl The tensions between those engaged in the dangerous and compromising pursuit of whistleblowing, and those who use the fruit of such efforts has...

The Washington Post and Edward Snowden

The tensions between those engaged in the dangerous and compromising pursuit of whistleblowing, and those who use the fruit of such efforts has been...

Snowden has ‘a lot of guts,’ Oliver Stone tells RT as Washington Post turns...

Edward Snowden showed “a lot of guts” to speak out about the NSA surveillance program, director...

Word Games: What the NSA Means by "Targeted" Surveillance Under Section 702

We all know that the NSA uses word games to hide and downplay its activities. Words like "collect," "conversations," "communications," and even "surveillance" have...

‘They Are Incentivized to Arrest People Because It Raises Money’ – CounterSpin interview with...

Janine Jackson interviewed Donna Murch about for-profit punishment for the August 12, 2016, episode of CounterSpin. This is a lightly edited transcript. Donna Murch:...

Brexit Boost for Scotland’s Wacky War of Independence

A month on from the Brexit vote and Scotland’s EU-smitten First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, continues to stamp her foot in frustration. But hopefully, after...

Ignore pro-nuclear spin: CND says scrapping Trident won’t destroy tens of thousands of jobs

Any threat to jobs resulting from a decision to scrap Britain’s Trident nuclear weapons system must be seen in its actual context and not...

Edward Snowden’s legal team to seek presidential pardon from Obama

NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden’s life in exile may not have to be a permanent solution. His lawyers are planning to raise the pressure on...

Hate, Terror, and Collectivism Culminate in Orlando

The massacre in Orlando has the usual political narratives all jumbled up. It was gun violence against gays. Therefore, say Hillary Clinton supporters, it validates calls...

Snowden leak: GCHQ & America’s NSA regularly intercept British MPs emails

American spies and the UK’s listening post GCHQ regularly intercept the emails of British MPs...

The Danger of Demonization

Exclusive: As the West is sucked deeper into the Syrian conflict and starts a new Cold War with Russia, the...

Russians Remember Their WWII Vets

The West’s propaganda war against Russia filters events there through a prism of cynicism and contempt, but that misses the...

People too afraid to search privacy-sensitive topics after Snowden revelations – Oxford study

NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden's revelations on government mass surveillance have apparently scared a significant number of...

Secret Court Approves FBI's Classified Changes to NSA Database Access

The FBI has implemented new protocols that allegedly enhance privacy safeguards for Americans, when bureau agents search through the NSA's massive intelligence databases for information. It...

FBI and Access to NSA Data on Americans

Peter Van Buren Hear that hissing sound? That is the last gasps for air from the Bill of Rights. The Bill is one breath away...

Mystery of the Civil War’s Camp Casey

From the Archive: U.S. history is distorted by the prism of race, even the Civil War, which was fought over slavery...

Mystery of the Civil War’s Camp Casey

From the Archive: U.S. history is distorted by the prism of race, even the Civil War, which was fought over slavery but then enshrined white heroes when Jim...

The Decline and Fall of the ‘Mainstream’ Media

The “mainstream” media is a potent issue this election year, and Donald Trump has surely turned the public’s distrust of the Fourth Estate into electoral gold. Regardless...

No Safe Harbor: How NSA Spying Undermined US Tech and Europeans’ Privacy

Danny O'Brien The spread of knowledge about the NSA's surveillance programs has shaken the trust of customers in U.S. Internet companies like Facebook, Google, and...

Get Parry’s Classic Book, ‘Fooling America’

From Editor Robert Parry: As part of Consortiumnews’ fall fund drive, we are re-releasing my first book, Fooling America, a critique of the mainstream...

Police state USA: California cops arrested after ‘beating & kicking’ kids at boot camp

Four police officers in California have been arrested for alleged child cruelty. They stand accused of abusing 15 children who attended a youth camp...

The Demonization of Iran

Ever since Iran made it on to the neocon “regime change” list, its actions have been put through the special prism of demonization that...

USA and UK’s surveillance violates human rights law

Amnesty International and others won an historic victory today as the legal body that oversees the practices of the UK secret services acknowledged that...

Facebook and the military industrial surveillance complex

Earlier this week the European Commission’s attorney Bernhard Schima told the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) the US-EU Safe Harbor framework...

Washington’s Prying Eyes

As the U.S. government maintains its uneasy silence about the kidnapping and probable murder of 43 students in Ayotzinapa, Mexico–or, for that matter, about...

George Galloway, Tom Newton Dunn and others: A list of current legal challenges to...

Melanie Newman The Bureau Investigates Reprinted by RINF Alternative News with permission or license. Last autumn, the Bureau launched a legal challenge in the European Court of Human...

New document reveals FBI’s role in NSA surveillance program

Documents provided by the Federal Bureau of Investigation suggest that the FBI has played a part in the National Security Agency’s surveillance operations to...

AT&T and Verizon use “supercookies” to track users’ online activities

Thomas Gaist Telecommunications corporations Verizon and AT&T automatically monitor and record all Internet activity by users accessing their cellular data networks, according to reports published...

The GCHQ boss is wrong. We can have both security and privacy

The Snowden revelations made it clear how far GCHQ and other agencies had gone in hoovering up information about all of us, collecting ever-increasing...

Revealed: Google’s links to US govt

One of the world's largest internet companies, Google 'should be a serious concern' internationally, WikiLeaks co-founder and Editor-in-chief Julian Assange says, revealing its connections...

Google Acts Like Privatized NSA

In interviews with BBC and Sky News, WikiLeaks founder explains how Google's behavior, though legal, is like that of surveillance agencies. Andrea Germanos Google's practices are...

Corporate Executives Couldn’t Care Less About Civil Liberties

The Washington Post reports that in 2008 the government threatened to fine Yahoo $250,000 a day if it failed to relinquish user data on...

US Government Ordered Yahoo! To Provide User Data Or Face $250,000 Fine – Per...

Case is significant because it sheds light on the controversial level of complicity between the nation's largest internet companies and the NSA regarding the...

Israel Gives Jews a Bad Name

Danny Schechter When I was growing up in a Jewish community in New York in the late fifties, there was a predictable collective response to...

New York judge upholds US efforts to seize emails from Microsoft

Thomas Gaist New York federal district court Judge Loretta Preska ruled Thursday that US government warrants are valid for data stored overseas, as long as...

UK tribunal hears evidence of mass surveillance

Robert Stevens A five-day hearing before the UK’s Investigatory Powers Tribunal (IPT) on the operations of Britain’s Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) spying operations concluded July...

Serious Threats to Iraq’s Territorial Integrity

Amer Araim The domination of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) over one third of Iraq, and Kurdish fighters known as Pesh Marga...

Other Enemies of Freedom

Lenin Nightingale  RINF Alternative News The System Lords do not enslave you as conquerors in battle, but by ink and stealth. When Lord Obama was elected...

GCHQ tribunal hears civil liberties legal challenge

​Civil liberties groups are making a legal challenge against the alleged use of mass surveillance by UK intelligence services. The tribunal follows revelations about UK...

Dozens More Military Programs To Control Social Media Revealed

Controversial Facebook study is just tip of an iceberg Steve Watson In the wake of last week’s revelations that Facebook allowed researchers with direct links to the Department...

New revelations shatter US government lies on illegal surveillance

Thomas Gaist The overwhelming majority of individuals who have had their emails and other private communications intercepted by the US National Security Agency (NSA) have...

Report: 9 out 10 Caught in NSA Dragnet Are ‘Ordinary People’

Washington Post reveals unprecedented look at how 'voyeuristic' spy agency manages private communications it collects Jon Queall New reporting by the Washington Post based on materials leaked by NSA whistleblower...

So Much Warrantless Surveillance, Feds Can’t Keep Track

The National Security Agency (NSA) conducts warrantless surveillance of millions of people around the world and very little of it has anything to do...

“Civil liberties board” allows government to destroy ours

Thomas Gaist The five-member Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board (PCLOB), appointed by President Obama, released a report this week upholding core components of the...

Obama’s panel of experts claim NSA’s internet surveillance program is constitutional

A five-person panel handpicked by US President Barack Obama concluded Tuesday that the National Security Agency’s use of a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act provision...

Panel: NSA Bulk Spying Edges ‘Constitutional Unreasonableness’

PCLOB review report is informative but flawed, say critics Jon Queally A government panel tasked to examine how a controversial program of the National Security Agency...

Facebook Emotional Experiment Linked To Pentagon Research On Civil Unrest

Facebook’s controversial “emotional study”, which subjected over half a million unwitting users of the social network to a psychological conditioning experiment, has direct ties...

GMO Crops in India, The Profit Driven Destruction of Agriculture

Colin Todhunter RINF Alternative News The recently leaked report — ‘Impact of NGOs on Development’ — accuses certain activists and civil organisations in India of working...

GMOs, Corporatocentrism And Economic Plunder: The Right To Challenge And Refuse

Countercurrents 23/6/2013

The recently leaked report - ‘Impact of NGOs on Development’ - accuses certain activists and civil organisations in India of working against the national interest by colluding with foreign interests to undermine development and growth [1]. While seeking to cast individuals and groups in a negative light, the report itself is fully supportive of the model of development being pursued. The irony is that the model is based on officialdom working hand in glove with powerful foreign corporations [2], whose purpose is not just financial - to maximise profit - but in the case of the US-backed GMO sector - political: the destruction of traditional farming and the control of the entire food system and populations [3].   

Particular groups and activists are being portrayed as the ‘enemy within’, despite the fact they are exercising their lawful right to challenge and oppose. And they have every reason to challenge what is happening.


Since 1991, when India began to embrace economic neoliberalism, the ratio between the top and bottom ten percents of wage distribution has doubled. This doubling of income inequality over the past 20 years has made India one of the worst performers in the category of emerging economies [4]. Today, India’s top ten billionaires account for over 12 percent of the country’s GDP, while 7,850 High Net Worth individuals account for US$935 billion, half of India’s GDP [5]. Meanwhile illicit money has been accelerating into Swiss bank accounts [6], around half of children under the age of five are underweight [7] and much of rural Indiafaces economic distress with hundreds of thousands of farmers having committed suicide largely due to debt, reliance on (GM) cash crops and the impact of economic ‘liberalisation’ [8]. India’s high GDP growth figures have barely if at all positively impacted 80 percent of the population and hundreds of millions still live near or below the poverty line [9].


With corruption and violence a prominent feature of the ‘development’ model being forced through [10], should not the increasing destruction of livelihoods, inequality and the siphoning of wealth towards a relative few be regarded as the true ‘enemy within’? Is the type of ‘development’ that allows for this to happen not a form of extremism that is too often regarded as being anything but?  


All that stands between a corporate takeover of many nations’ seeds and agriculture is the committed work of the not-for-profit sector. Note the term ‘not-for-profit’. In India, the royalties accruing to Monsanto that have been expatriated are approximately $800 million in 12 years, which is serving “to hemorrhage India’s agricultural economy” [11].
The impact of global agribusiness and its relentless drive for profit and control across the globe has and continues to undermine food security by displacing the bedrock of food production - small farmers - while destroying cultures and stripping people of their independence [12,13]. Hundreds of millions depend on agriculture for a living throughout the world, yet many are being swept from their lands: to do what? Deemed ‘surplus to requirements’ in rural areas and deemed ‘surplus to requirements’ once in the cities? It’s no coincidence that GMO big biotech owns the Epicyte (sterility) gene and has deep historical links with powerful eugenicists who have conspired to shape modern agriculture with concerns about ‘third world’ overpopulation in mind [14]. Little wonder that in Russia GMO production and distribution is being likened to acts of bio-terror [15].
Before driving farmers from their lands, Noam Chomsky argues we should learn from our past:
“We can draw many very good lessons from the early period of the Industrial Revolution… independent farmers were being driven into the industrial system. Men and women… bitterly resented it… The people driven into the industrial system regarded it as an attack on their personal dignity, on their rights as human beings. They were free human beings being forced into what they called ‘wage labor,’ which they regarded as not very different from chattel slavery.” [16]

A similar process is occurring in many countries today and is underpinned by an arrogance that privileges the dominant mode of ‘development’ over indigenous knowledge and practices that have by and large allowed people to live sustainably with nature and the environment for thousands of years. Chomsky says:


This is the first time in human history that we have the capacity to destroy the conditions for decent survival. It is already happening. Look at species destruction. It is estimated to be at about the level of 65 million years ago when an asteroid hit the earth, ended the period of the dinosaurs and wiped out a huge number of species. It is the same level today. And we are the asteroid… There are sectors of the global population trying to impede the global catastrophe. There are other sectors trying to accelerate it. Take a look at whom they are. Those who are trying to impede it are the ones we call backward, indigenous populations - the First Nations in Canada, the aboriginals in Australia, the tribal people in India. Who is accelerating it? The most privileged, so-called advanced, educated populations of the world.” 

 

 
Underpinning the arrogance of such a mindset is what Vandana Shiva calls a Cartesian, patriarchal-based view of the world, which encourages humans to regard themselves as separate from nature and thus able to dominate and control it:
“Corporations as the dominant institution shaped by capitalist patriarchy thrive on eco-apartheid. They thrive on the Cartesian legacy of dualism which puts nature against humans. It defines nature as female and passively subjugated. Corporatocentrism is thus also androcentric - a patriarchal construction. The false universalism of man as conqueror and owner of the Earth has led to the technological hubris of geo-engineering, genetic engineering, and nuclear energy. It has led to the ethical outrage of owning life forms through patents, water through privatization, the air through carbon trading. It is leading to appropriation of the biodiversity that serves the poor.” [17]

And therein lies the true enemy: the system that facilitates such plunder, which is presided over by well-funded and influential foreign foundations and powerful financial-corporate entities and their stooges in the IMF, World Bank and WTO.

Yet it is activists and NGOs who advocate a different path that are attacked and smeared. We shouldn’t be surprised however because nation states have long been involved in the monitoring and subversion of legitimate democratic groups on their own soils that seek to challenge unjust hegemonic views and practices [18]. Legitimate protest poses a challenge to elite interests and that cannot be tolerated. In India, as has been the case elsewhere, a mass surveillance system is thus being rolled out, despite issues surrounding lack of oversight, transparency, legality and the violation of privacy safeguards [19,20,21].


In order to press ahead and open economies to private concerns, proponents of economic neoliberalism are always fond of stating that ‘regulatory blockages’ must be removed. The continued pursuit of such economic policies serves to widen the chasm between rich and poor and is putting the livelihoods of hundreds of millions at risk [22]. If particular ‘blockages’ stemming from legitimate protest and dissent cannot be dealt with by peaceful means, other methods will be used. When increasing mass surveillance or widespread ideological attempts to discredit and smear do not secure compliance or dilute the power of protest, beefed up ‘homeland security’ and paramilitary force is an ever-present option [23,24].


Across the globe, powerful corporations and their compliant politicians seek to sweep away peoples and their indigenous knowledge and culture in the chase for profit and control. They call this ‘development’. They will allow no one to stand in their way.     


Notes

[6] http://www.gfintegrity.org/report/country-case-study-india/

[12]http://www.theecologist.org/News/news_analysis/2267255/gm_crops_are_driving_genocide_and_ecocide_keep_them_out_of_the_eu.html

[13]http://www.grain.org/article/entries/4929-hungry-for-land-small-farmers-feed-the-world-with-less-than-a-quarter-of-all-farmland

[14] http://www.globalresearch.ca/doomsday-seed-vault-in-the-arctic-2/23503

[17]http://www.spaziofilosofico.it/numero-07/2959/economy-revisited-will-green-be-the-colour-of-money-or-life/

[22]http://www.globalresearch.ca/the-transatlantic-trade-and-investment-partnership-a-thatcherite-revolution-free-trade-corporate-plunder-and-the-war-on-working-people/5386784


[24]http://www.globalresearch.ca/martial-law-and-the-economy-is-homeland-security-preparing-for-the-next-wall-street-collapse/5353267

Every Internet user in the UK can be spied on without a warrant

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Facebook NSA Connection To Be Investigated

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Irresponsible China Bashing

Irresponsible China Bashing

by Stephen Lendman

China bashing reflects official US policy. Washington does it numerous ways. 

It's reprehensible. It's confrontational. It's potentially belligerent. Rogue states operate this way.

No nation spies on more nations than America. None more intrusively. None more aggressively. None more lawlessly.

None for more reasons. None in more ways. None more duplicitous about it. None more involved in cybercrime. More on this below.

China is a major US economic, political and military rival. Washington wants it marginalized, weakened and isolated.

It wants its sovereign independence eliminated. It want pro-Western puppet governance replacing it.

It wants its resources plundered. It wants its people exploited. Bashing China risks open conflict. So does pursuing America's overall imperial objectives.

On May 19, Washington declared unprecedented cyberwar on China. 

The Justice Department headlined "US Charges Five Chinese Military Hackers for Cyber Espionage Against US Corporations and a Labor Organization for Commercial Advantage"

"First Time Criminal Charges Are Filed Against Known State Actors for Hacking"

A federal grand jury indicted five Chinese Peoples Liberation Army officials. Doing so was unprecedented. It was provocative. 

Individuals charged didn't matter. Washington confronted the People's Republic of China directly. It did so by targeting its military.

Charges include "computer hacking, economic espionage and other offenses directed at six American victims in US nuclear power, metals and solar products industries."

They allege conspiracy "to hack into American entities, to maintain unauthorized access to their computers and to steal information from those entities that would be useful to their competitors in China, including state-owned enterprises (SOEs)."

Attorney General Eric Holder claimed "economic espionage by members of the Chinese military and represents the first ever charges against a state actor for this type of hacking."

"The range of trade secrets and other sensitive business information stolen in this case is significant and demands an aggressive response," he said.

FBI Director James Comey claimed "(f)or too long, the Chinese government has blatantly sought to use cyber espionage to obtain economic advantage for its state-owned industries."

Assistant Attorney General for National Security John Carlin said:

"State actors engaged in cyber espionage for economic advantage are not immune from the law just because they hack under the shadow of their country’s flag."

Third Department Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) Unit 61398 officials named include Wang Dong, Sun Kailiang, Wen Xinyu, Huang Zhenyu, and Gu Chunhui.

Alleged companies targeted include Westinghouse, SolarWorld subsidiaries, US Steel, Allegheny Technologies, Alcoa, "the United Steel, Paper and Forestry, Rubber, Manufacturing, Energy, (and) Allied Industrial and Service Workers International Union (USW)."

Charges include:

  • One count of "conspiring to commit computer fraud and abuse."

  • Eight counts of "accessing (or attempting to access) a protected computer without authorization to obtain information for the purpose of commercial advantage and private financial gain."

  • Fourteen counts of "transmitting a program, information, code, or command with the intent to cause damage to protected computers."

  • Six counts of "aggravated identify theft."

  • One count of "economic espionage."

  • One count of "trade secret theft."

Xinhua is China's official press agency. It's a ministry-level department. It provides electronic and print news and information.

On May 20, it headlined "China strongly opposes US indictment against Chinese military personnel," saying:

"China lodged protests with the US side following the announcement, urging the U.S. side to immediately correct its mistake and withdraw the indictment."

"(T)he position of the Chinese government on cyber security is consistent and clear-cut. China is steadfast in upholding cyber security." 

"The Chinese government, the Chinese military and their relevant personnel have never engaged or participated in cyber theft of trade secrets." 

"The US accusation against Chinese personnel is groundless with ulterior motives."

Evidence shows "terminals of Chinese military access to the internet have suffered from great number of foreign cyber attacks in recent years, and a considerable number of such attacks originated from the United States."

"China demands that the US side explain its cyber theft, eavesdropping and surveillance activities against China and immediately stop such activities."

America is "the biggest attacker of China's cyber space."

US attacks "infiltrate and tap Chinese networks belonging to governments, institutions, enterprises, universities and major communication backbone networks." 

"Those activities target Chinese leaders, ordinary citizens and anyone with a mobile phone."

Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang said:

"This US move, which is based on fabricated facts, grossly violates the basic norms governing international relations and jeopardizes China-U.S. cooperation and mutual trust."

Nine or more major online companies cooperate with lawless NSA spying. Google, Microsoft, Yahoo, Facebook, Apple, Skype, YouTube and others are involved.

They do so through NSA's Prism. It gains access to search histories, emails, file transfers and live chats. 

It's gotten directly from US provider servers. Doing so facilitates mass surveillance. NSA spies globally. Its activities reveal rogue agency lawlessness.

NSA targets China intensively. It lawlessly hacks its computer and telecommunications networks. 

It focuses on strategically important information. It does so through its ultra-secret China hacking group.

It conducts cyber-espionage. Huang Chengquing is Beijing's top Internet official. China has "mountains of data," he said.

It reveals widespread US hacking. It's designed to steal government secrets. NSA's Tailored Access Operations (TAO) in involved.

It's ultra-secret. Most NSA personnel and officials know little or nothing about it. Only those with a need to know have full access.

TAO operations are extraordinarily sensitive. They penetrate Chinese computer and telecommunications systems.

They've done so for nearly 16 years. They generate reliable intelligence. They learn what's ongoing in China.

They obtain what Washington most wants to know. It's done by surreptitious hacking.

It cracks passwords. It penetrates computer security systems. It decrypts successfully. It steals hard drive data.

In October 2012, Obama authorized cyber-attacks. He did so by secret presidential directive.

His Offensive Cyber Effects Operations (OCEO) "offer(s) unique and unconventional capabilities to advance US national objectives around the world with little or no warning to the adversary or target and with potential effects ranging from subtle to severely damaging."

Washington "identif(ies) potential targets of national importance where OCEO can offer a favorable balance of effectiveness and risk as compared with other instruments of national power."

Domestic spying works the same way. Anything goes defines policy. Constitutional protections don't matter. Or US statute laws. Or international ones. Or relations with other nations.

Washington rules alone apply. TAO's mandate is penetrating, destroying, damaging, or otherwise compromising targeted sites.

It's the largest, most important NSA Signal Intelligence (SIGINT) Directorate component.

Well over 1,000 military and civilian computer hackers, intelligence analysts, targeting specialists, computer hardware and software designers, and electrical engineers are involved.

Their job is identifying sensitive computer systems and supporting telecommunications networks. Their mandate is penetrating them successfully.

They exceed the capability of other US intelligence gathering agencies. Their activities expand exponentially.

China knows what's going on. So do Russia and other nations. They're acutely aware of NSA activities. They knows the threat. They take appropriate countermeasures.

Cyber-attacks constitute war by other means. Doing so compromises freedom. It risks confrontation. It threatens world peace.

It doesn't matter. America operates solely for its own self-interest. For control. For economic advantage.

For being one up on foreign competitors. For information used advantageously in trade, political, and military relations. NSA's get it all mandate explains.

June 5 is a landmark date. It marks the first anniversary of Edward Snowden revelations. He connected important dots for millions.

He revealed lawless NSA spying. He did so in great detail. He's the gift that keeps on giving. 

Western nations collaborate irresponsibly. They do so with major corporations. Privacy no longer exists. 

There's no place to hide. Big Brother watches everyone. Spying goes way beyond protecting national security.

All electronic communications can be monitored, collected and stored. Legal restraints are absent. 

Obama heads the most rogue administration in US history. He exceeds the worst of his predecessors. Congress and American courts permit the impermissible. 

Mass US surveillance is standard practice. It's global. It's all- embracing. It targets world leaders. It's after everything and everyone of possible interest.

No constraints exist. No standards. Rogue states operate this way. America is by far the worst.

Bashing China turns a blind eye to US high crimes. They're too egregious to ignore. 

America is a pariah state. It exceeds the worst in world history. It risks global confrontation. Stopping it matters most. 

It bears repeating what previous articles stressed. Today is the most perilous time in world history. World peace hangs in the balance.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at [email protected] 

His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."

http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanIII.html

Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. 

Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

It airs three times weekly: live on Sundays at 1PM Central time plus two prerecorded archived programs. 


http://www.progressiveradionetwork.com/the-progressive-news-hour 

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Text of UN Human Rights Council Report on US Human Rights Abuses

UN Human Rights Council Report on US Human Rights Abuses
ADVANCED UNEDITED VERSION
Human Rights Committee
Concluding observations on the fourth report of the United States of America

1. The Committee considered the fourth periodic report of the United States of America (CCPR/C/USA/4 and Corr.1) at its 3044th, 3045th and 3046th meetings (CCPR/C/SR/3044, CCPR/C/SR/3045 and CCPR/C/SR/3046), held on 13 and 14 March 2014. At its 3061st meeting (CCPR/C/SR/3061), held on 26 March 2014, it adopted the following concluding observations.
A. Introduction
2. The Committee welcomes the submission of the fourth periodic report of the United States of America and the information presented therein. It expresses appreciation for the opportunity to renew its constructive dialogue with the State party’s high level delegation which included representatives of state and local governments on the measures that the State party has taken during the reporting period to implement the provisions of the Covenant. The Committee is grateful to the State party for its written replies (CCPR/C/USA/Q/4/Add.1) to the list of issues (CCPR/C/USA/Q/4), which were supplemented by the oral responses provided by the delegation and for the supplementary information provided to it in writing.
B. Positive aspects
3. The Committee notes with appreciation the many efforts undertaken, and the progress made in protecting civil and political rights by the State party. The Committee welcomes, in particular, the following legislative and institutional steps taken by the State party:
(a) The full implementation of article 6(5) of the Covenant in the aftermath of the Supreme Court’s judgment in Roper v. Simmons, 543 U.S. 551 (2005), despite the State party’s reservation to the contrary;
(b) The recognition by the Supreme Court in Boumediene v. Bush, 553 U.S. 723 (2008), of the extraterritorial application of constitutional habeas corpus rights to aliens detained at Guantánamo Bay;
(c) The Presidential Executive Orders 13491 (“Ensuring Lawful Interrogations”), 13492 (“Review and Disposition of Individuals Detained at the Guantanamo Bay Naval Base and Closure of Detention Facilities”) and 13493 (“Review of Detention Policy Options”), issued on 22 January 2009;
(d) The support for the U.N. Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples announced by President Obama on 16 December 2010;
(e) The Presidential Executive Order 13567 establishing periodic review for detainees at the Guantanamo Bay detention facility who have not been charged, convicted, or designated for transfer, issued on 7 March 2011.
C. Principal matters of concern and recommendations
Applicability of the Covenant at national level 
4. The Committee regrets that the State party continues to maintain its position that the Covenant does not apply with respect to individuals under its jurisdiction but outside its territory, despite the contrary interpretation of article 2(1) supported by the Committee’s established jurisprudence, the jurisprudence of the International Court of Justice and state practice. The Committee further notes that the State party has only limited avenues to ensure that state and local governments respect and implement the Covenant, and that its provisions have been declared to be non-self-executing at the time of ratification. Taken together, these elements considerably limit the legal reach and the practical relevance of the Covenant (art. 2).  
The State party should:
(a) Interpret the Covenant in good faith, in accordance with the ordinary meaning to be given to its terms in their context, including subsequent practice, and in the light of its object and purpose and review its legal position so as to acknowledge the extraterritorial application of the Covenant under certain circumstances, as outlined inter alia in the Committee’s general comment No. 31 (2004) on the nature of the general legal obligation imposed on States parties to the Covenant;
(b) Engage with stakeholders at all levels to identify ways to give greater effect to the Covenant at federal, state and local levels, taking into account that the obligations under the Covenant are binding on the State party as a whole, and that all branches of government, and other public or governmental authorities, at every level are in a position to engage the responsibility of the State party under the Covenant (General Comment. No. 31, para. 4);
(c) Taking into account its declaration that provisions of the Covenant are non-self-executing, ensure that effective remedies are available for violations of the Covenant, including those that do not, at the same time, constitute violations of U.S. domestic law, and undertake a review of such areas with a view to proposing to the Congress implementing legislation to fill any legislative gaps. The State party should also consider acceding to the Optional Protocol to the Covenant providing for an individual communication procedure.
(d) Strengthen and expand existing mechanisms mandated to monitor the implementation of human rights at federal, state, local and tribal levels, provide them with adequate human and financial resources or consider establishing an independent national human rights institution, in accordance with the principles relating to the status of national institutions for the promotion and protection of human rights (Paris Principles) (General Assembly resolution 48/134).
(e) Reconsider its position regarding its reservations and declarations to the Covenant with a view to withdrawing them. 
Accountability for past human rights violations
5. The Committee is concerned at the limited number of investigations, prosecutions and convictions of members of the Armed Forces and other agents of the U.S. Government, including private contractors, for unlawful killings in its international operations and the use of torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment of detainees in U.S. custody, including outside its territory, as part of the so-called “enhanced interrogation techniques” program. While welcoming the Presidential Executive Order 13491 of 22 January 2009 terminating the programme of secret detention and interrogation operated by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), the Committee notes with concern that all reported investigations into enforced disappearances, torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment that had been committed in the context of the CIA secret rendition, interrogation and detention programmes were closed in 2012 leading only to a meagre number of criminal charges brought against low-level operatives. The Committee is concerned that many details of the CIA programme remain secret thereby creating barriers to accountability and redress for victims (arts. 2, 6, 7, 9, 10, and 14).
The State party should ensure that all cases of unlawful killing, torture or other ill-treatment, unlawful detention, or enforced disappearance are effectively, independently and impartially investigated, that perpetrators, including, in particular, persons in command positions, are prosecuted and sanctioned, and that victims are provided with effective remedies. The responsibility of those who provided legal pretexts for manifestly illegal behavior should also be established. The State party should also consider the full incorporation of the doctrine of ‘command responsibility’ in its criminal law and declassify and make public the report of the Senate Special Committee on Intelligence into the CIA secret detention programme.
Racial disparities in the criminal justice system
6. While appreciating the steps taken by the State party to address racial disparities in the criminal justice system, including the enactment in August 2010 of The Fair Sentencing Act and plans to work on reform of mandatory minimum sentencing statutes, the Committee continues to be concerned about racial disparities at different stages in the criminal justice system, sentencing disparities and the overrepresentation of individuals belonging to racial and ethnic minorities in prisons and jails (arts. 2, 9, 14, and 26). 
The State party should continue and step up its efforts to robustly address racial disparities in the criminal justice system, including by amending regulations and policies leading to racially disparate impact at the federal, state and local levels. The State party should ensure the retroactive application of the Fair Sentencing Act and reform mandatory minimum sentencing statutes.
Racial profiling
7. While welcoming plans to reform the “stop and frisk” program in New York City, the Committee remains concerned about the practice of racial profiling and surveillance by law enforcement officials targeting certain ethnic minorities, and the surveillance of Muslims undertaken by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the New York Police Department (NYPD) in the absence of any suspicion of wrongdoing (arts. 2, 9, 12, 17, and 26).   
The State party should continue and step up its measures to effectively combat and eliminate racial profiling by federal, state and local law enforcement officials, inter alia by: (a) pursuing the review of the 2003 Guidance Regarding the Use of Race by Federal Law Enforcement Agencies and expanding protection against profiling on the basis of religion, religious appearance or national origin; (b) continuing to train state and local law enforcement personnel on cultural awareness and inadmissibility of racial profiling; and (c) abolishing all “stop and frisk” practices.
Death penalty
8. While welcoming the overall decline in the number of executions and the increasing number of states that have abolished the death penalty, the Committee remains concerned about the continuing use of the death penalty and, in particular, racial disparities in its imposition that affects disproportionately African Americans, exacerbated by the rule that discrimination has to be proven case-by-case. It is further concerned by the high number of persons wrongly sentenced to death, despite existing safeguards, and by the fact that 16 retentionist states do not provide for compensation for the wrongfully convicted and other states provide for insufficient compensation. Finally, the Committee notes with concern reports about the administration by some states of untested lethal drugs to execute prisoners and the withholding of information on such drugs (arts. 2, 6, 7, 9, 14, and 26).  
The State party should (a) take measures to effectively ensure that the death penalty is not imposed as a result of racial bias; (b) strengthen safeguards against wrongful sentencing to death and subsequent wrongful execution by ensuring inter alia effective legal representation for defendants in death penalty cases, including at the post-conviction stage; (c) ensure that retentionist states provide adequate compensation for the wrongfully convicted (d) ensure that lethal drugs for executions originate from legal, regulated sources, and are approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and that information on the origin and composition of such drugs is made available to individuals scheduled for execution; (e) consider establishing a moratorium on the death penalty at the federal level and engage with retentionist states with a view to achieving a nationwide moratorium. The Committee also encourages the State party, on the 25th anniversary of the Second Optional Protocol to the Covenant aiming at the abolition of the death penalty, to consider acceding to the Protocol. 
Targeted killings using unmanned aerial vehicles (drones)
9. The Committee is concerned about the State party’s practice of targeted killings in extraterritorial counter-terrorism operations using unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) also known as ‘drones’, the lack of transparency regarding the criteria for drone strikes, including the legal justification for specific attacks, and the lack of accountability for the loss of life resulting from such attacks. The Committee notes the State party’s position that drone strikes are conducted in the course of its armed conflict with Al- Qaida, the Taliban, and associated forces and in accordance with its inherent right of national self-defense and are governed by international humanitarian law, as well as by the Presidential Policy Guidance that sets out standards for the use of lethal force outside areas of active hostilities. Nevertheless, the Committee remains concerned about the State party’s very broad approach to the definition and the geographical scope of an armed conflict, including the end of hostilities, the unclear interpretation of what constitutes an “imminent threat” and who is a combatant or civilian taking a direct part in hostilities, the unclear position on the nexus that should exist between any particular use of lethal force and any specific theatre of hostilities, as well as the precautionary measures taken to avoid civilian casualties in practice (arts. 2, 6, and 14). 
The State party should revisit its position regarding legal justifications for the use of deadly force through drone attacks. It should: (a) ensure that any use of armed drones complies fully with its obligations under article 6 of the Covenant, including in particular with respect to the principles of precaution, distinction and proportionality in the context of an armed conflict; (b) subject to operational security, disclose the criteria for drone strikes, including the legal basis for specific attacks, the process of target identification and the circumstances in which drones are used; (c) provide for independent supervision and oversight over the specific implementation of regulations governing the use of drone strikes; (d) in armed conflict situations, take all feasible measures to ensure the protection of civilians in specific drone attacks and to track and assess civilian casualties, as well as all necessary precautionary measures in order to avoid such casualties; (e) conduct independent, impartial, prompt and effective investigations of allegations of violations of the right to life and bring to justice those responsible; (f) provide victims or their families with an effective remedy where there has been a violation, including adequate compensation, and establish accountability mechanisms for victims of allegedly unlawful drone attacks who are not compensated by their home governments.
Gun violence 
10. While acknowledging the measures taken to reduce gun violence, the Committee remains concerned about the continuing high numbers of gun-related deaths and injuries and the disparate impact of gun violence on minorities, women and children. While commending the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights’ investigation of the discriminatory effect of “Stand Your Ground Laws”, the Committee is concerned about the proliferation of such laws that are used to circumvent the limits of legitimate self-defence in violation of the State party’s duty to protect life (arts. 2, 6, and 26). 
The State Party should take all necessary measures to abide by its obligation to effectively protect the right to life. In particular, it should: (a) continue its efforts to effectively curb gun violence, including through the continued pursuit of legislation requiring background checks for all private firearm transfers in order to prevent possession of arms by persons recognized as prohibited individuals under federal law and strict enforcement of the Domestic Violence Offender Gun Ban legislation of 1996 (the “Lautenberg Amendment”); and (b) review Stand Your Ground Laws to remove far-reaching immunity and ensure strict adherence to the principles of necessity and proportionality when using deadly force in self-defence.
Excessive use of force by law enforcement officials
11. The Committee is concerned about the still high number of fatal shootings by certain police forces, including, for instance, in Chicago, and reports of excessive use of force by certain law enforcement officers including the deadly use of tasers, which have a disparate impact on African Americans, and use of lethal force by Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers at the U.S.-Mexico border (arts. 2, 6, 7, and 26).  
The State Party should  (a) step up its efforts to prevent the excessive use of force by law enforcement officers by ensuring compliance with the 1990 UN Basic Principles on the Use of Force and Firearms by Law Enforcement Officers; (b) ensure that the new CBP directive on use of deadly force is applied and enforced in practice; and (c) improve reporting of excessive use of force violations and ensure that reported cases of excessive use of force are effectively investigated, alleged perpetrators are prosecuted and, if convicted, punished with appropriate sanctions, that investigations are re-opened when new evidence becomes available, and that victims or their families are provided with adequate compensation. 
Legislation prohibiting torture
12. While noting that acts of torture may be prosecuted in a variety of ways at both the federal and state levels, the Committee is concerned about the lack of comprehensive legislation criminalizing all forms of torture, including mental torture, committed within the territory of the State party. The Committee is also concerned about the inability of torture victims to claim compensation from the State party and its officials due to the application of broad doctrines of legal privilege and immunity (arts. 2 and 7).
The State party should enact legislation to explicitly prohibit torture, including mental torture, wherever committed and ensure that the law provides for penalties commensurate with the gravity of such acts, whether committed by public officials or other persons acting on behalf of the State, or by private persons. The State party should ensure the availability of compensation to victims of torture. 
Non-refoulement
13. While noting the measures taken to ensure compliance with the principle of non-refoulement in cases of extradition, expulsion, return and transfer of individuals to other countries, the Committee is concerned about the State party’s reliance on diplomatic assurances that do not provide sufficient safeguards. It is also concerned at the State party’s position that the principle of non-refoulement is not covered by the Covenant despite the Committee’s established jurisprudence and subsequent state practice (arts. 6 and 7). 
The State party should strictly apply the absolute prohibition against refoulement under articles 6 and 7 of the Covenant, continue exercising the utmost care in evaluating diplomatic assurances, and refrain from relying on such assurances where it is not in a position to effectively monitor the treatment of such persons after their extradition, expulsion, transfer or return to other countries and take appropriate remedial action when assurances are not fulfilled. 
Trafficking and forced labour
14. While acknowledging the measures taken by the State party to address the issue of trafficking in persons and forced labour, the Committee remains concerned about cases of trafficking for purposes of labour and sexual exploitation, including of children, and criminalization of victims on prostitution-related charges. It is concerned about the insufficient identification and investigation of cases of trafficking for labour purposes and notes with concern that certain categories of workers, such as farm workers and domestic workers, are explicitly excluded from the protection of labour laws, thus rendering these categories of workers more vulnerable to trafficking. The Committee is also concerned that workers entering the U.S. under the H-2B work visa programme are also at a high risk of becoming victims of trafficking/forced labour (arts. 2, 8, 9, 14, 24, and 26).
The State party should continue its efforts to combat trafficking in persons, inter alia by strengthening its preventive measures, increasing victim identification and systematically and vigorously investigating allegations of trafficking in persons, prosecuting and punishing those responsible and providing effective remedies to victims, including protection, rehabilitation and compensation. It should take all appropriate measures to prevent the criminalization of victims of sex trafficking, including child victims, to the extent that they have been compelled to engage in unlawful activities. The State party should review its laws and regulations to ensure full protection against forced labour for all categories of workers and ensure effective oversight of labour conditions in any temporary visa program. It should also reinforce its training activities and provide training to law enforcement and border and immigration officials, as well as to other relevant agencies such as labour law enforcement agencies and child welfare agencies. 
Immigrants
15. The Committee is concerned that under certain circumstances mandatory detention of immigrants for prolonged periods of time without regard to the individual case may raise issues under article 9 of the Covenant. It is also concerned about the mandatory nature of the deportation of foreigners without regard to elements such as the seriousness of crimes and misdemeanors committed, the length of lawful stay in the U.S., health status, family ties and the fate of spouses and children staying behind, or the humanitarian situation in the country of destination. Finally, the Committee expresses concerns about the exclusion of millions of undocumented immigrants and their children from coverage under the Affordable Care Act and the limited coverage of undocumented immigrants and immigrants residing lawfully in the U.S. for less than five years by Medicare and Children Health Insurance, all resulting in difficulties in access of immigrants to adequate health care (arts. 7, 9, 13, 17, 24 and 26).
The Committee recommends to the State party to review its policies of mandatory detention and deportation of certain categories of immigrants in order to allow for individualized decisions, to take measures ensuring that affected persons have access to legal representation, and to identify ways to facilitate access of undocumented immigrants and immigrants residing lawfully in the U.S. for less than five years and their families to adequate health care, including reproductive health care services.
Domestic violence 
16. The Committee is concerned that domestic violence continues to be prevalent in the State party, and that ethnic minorities, immigrants and American Indian and Alaska Native women are at a particular risk. The Committee is also concerned that victims face obstacles to obtaining remedies, and that law enforcement authorities are not legally required to act with due diligence to protect victims of domestic violence, and often inadequately respond to such cases  (arts. 3, 7, 9, and 26)
The State party should, through the full and effective implementation of the Violence against Women Act and the Family Violence Prevention and Services Act, strengthen measures to prevent and combat domestic violence, as well as to ensure that law enforcement personnel appropriately respond to acts of domestic violence. The State party should ensure that cases of domestic violence are effectively investigated and that perpetrators are prosecuted and sanctioned. The State party should ensure remedies for all victims of domestic violence, and take steps to improve the provision of emergency shelter, housing, child care, rehabilitative services and legal representation for women victims of domestic violence. The State party should also take measures to assist tribal authorities in their efforts to address domestic violence against Native American women.
Corporal punishment 
17. The Committee is concerned about the use of corporal punishment of children in schools, penal institutions, the home, and all forms of child care at federal, state and local levels. It is also concerned about the increasing criminalization of students to tackle disciplinary issues arising in schools (arts. 7, 10, and 24).
The State party should take practical steps, including through legislative measures where appropriate, to put an end to corporal punishment in all settings. It should encourage non-violent forms of discipline as alternatives to corporal punishment and should conduct public information campaigns to raise awareness about its harmful effects. The State party should also promote the use of alternatives to the application of criminal law to address disciplinary issues in schools.
Non-consensual psychiatric treatment
18. The Committee is concerned about the widespread use of non-consensual psychiatric medication, electroshock and other restrictive and coercive practices in mental health services (arts. 7 and 17).
The State party should ensure that non-consensual use of psychiatric medication, electroshock and other restrictive and coercive practices in mental health services is generally prohibited. Non-consensual psychiatric treatment may only be applied, if at all, in exceptional cases as a measure of last resort where absolutely necessary for the benefit of the person concerned provided that he or she is unable to give consent, for the shortest possible time, without any long-term impact, and under independent review. The State party should promote psychiatric care aimed at preserving the dignity of patients, both adults and minors.

Criminalization of homelessness
19. While appreciating the steps taken by federal and some state and local authorities to address homelessness, the Committee is concerned about reports of criminalization of people living on the street for everyday activities such as eating, sleeping, sitting in particular areas etc. The Committee notes that such criminalization raises concerns of discrimination and cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment (arts. 2, 7, 9, 17, and 26).
The State party should engage with state and local authorities to: (a) abolish criminalization of homelessness laws and policies at state and local levels; (b) ensure close cooperation between all relevant stakeholders including social, health, law enforcement and justice professionals at all levels to intensify efforts to find solutions for the homeless in accordance with human rights standards; and (c) offer incentives for decriminalization and implementation of such solutions, including by providing continued financial support to local authorities implementing alternatives to criminalization and withdrawing funding for local authorities criminalizing the homeless.  
Conditions of detention and use of solitary confinement
20. The Committee is concerned about the continued practice of holding persons deprived of their liberty, including juveniles and persons with mental disabilities under certain circumstances, in prolonged solitary confinement, and about detainees being held in solitary confinement also in pretrial detention. The Committee is furthermore concerned about poor detention conditions in death row facilities (arts. 7, 9, 10, 17, and 24).
The State party should monitor conditions of detention in prisons, including private detention facilities, with a view to ensuring that persons deprived of their liberty be treated in accordance with the requirements of articles 7 and 10 of the Covenant and the UN Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners. It should impose strict limits on the use of solitary confinement, both pretrial and following conviction, in the federal system, as well as nationwide, and abolish the practice in respect of anyone under the age of 18 and prisoners with serious mental illness. It should also bring detention conditions of prisoners on death row in line with international standards.
Detainees at Guantánamo Bay 
21. While noting President Obama’s commitment to close the Guantánamo Bay facility and the appointment of Special Envoys at the Departments of State and Defense to continue to pursue the transfer of detainees designated for transfer, the Committee regrets that no timeline for closure of the facility has been provided. The Committee is also concerned that detainees held in Guantánamo Bay and in military facilities in Afghanistan are not dealt with within the ordinary criminal justice system after a protracted period of over a decade in some cases (arts. 7, 9, 10, and 14).
The State party should expedite the transfer of detainees designated for transfer, including to Yemen, as well as the process of periodic review for Guantánamo detainees, and ensure either their trial or immediate release, and the closure of the Guantánamo facility. It should end the system of administrative detention without charge or trial and ensure that any criminal cases against detainees held in Guantánamo and military facilities in Afghanistan are dealt with within the criminal justice system rather than military commissions and that those detainees are afforded the fair trial guarantees enshrined in article 14 of the Covenant. 
NSA surveillance
22. The Committee is concerned about the surveillance of communications in the interests of protecting national security, conducted by the National Security Agency (NSA) both within and outside the United States through the bulk phone metadata program (Section 215 of the PATRIOT Act) and, in particular, the surveillance under Section 702 of Amendments to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) conducted through PRISM (collection of the contents of communications from U.S.-based companies) and UPSTREAM (tapping of fiber-optic cables in the U.S. that carry internet traffic) programs and their adverse impact on the right to privacy. The Committee is concerned that until recently, judicial interpretations of FISA and rulings of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) have largely been kept secret, thus not allowing affected persons to know the law with sufficient precision. The Committee is concerned that the current system of oversight of the activities of the NSA fails to effectively protect the rights of those affected. While welcoming the recent Presidential Policy Directive (PPD-28) that will now extend some safeguards to non-US persons “to the maximum extent feasible consistent with the national security”, the Committee remains concerned that such persons enjoy only limited protection against excessive surveillance. Finally, the Committee is concerned that those affected have no access to effective remedies in case of abuse (arts. 2, 5(1), and 17).
The State party should:
(a) take all necessary measures to ensure that its surveillance activities, both within and outside the United States, conform to its obligations under the Covenant, including article 17; in particular, measures should be taken to ensure that any interference with the right to privacy complies with the principles of legality, proportionality and necessity regardless of the nationality or location of individuals whose communications are under direct surveillance;
(b) ensure that any interference with the right to privacy, family, home or correspondence be authorized by laws that (i) are publicly accessible; (ii) contain provisions that ensure that collection of, access to and use of communications data are tailored to specific legitimate aims; (iii) are sufficiently precise specifying in detail the precise circumstances in which any such interference may be permitted; the procedures for authorizing; the categories of persons who may be placed under surveillance; limits on the duration of surveillance; procedures for the use and storage of the data collected; and (iv) provide for effective safeguards against abuse;
(c) reform the current system of oversight over surveillance activities to ensure its effectiveness, including by providing for judicial involvement in authorization or monitoring of surveillance measures, and considering to establish strong and independent oversight mandates with a view to prevent abuses;
(d) refrain from imposing mandatory retention of data by third parties;
(e) ensure that affected persons have access to effective remedies in cases of abuse.
Juvenile justice and life without parole sentences
23. While noting with satisfaction the Supreme Court decisions prohibiting life without parole sentences for children convicted of non-homicide offenses (Graham v. Florida), and barring mandatory life without parole sentences for children convicted of homicide offenses (Miller v. Alabama) and the State party’s commitment to their retroactive application, the Committee is concerned that a court still may, within its discretion, sentence a defendant to life without parole for a homicide committed as a juvenile and that a mandatory or non-homicide related sentence of life without parole may still be applied to adults. It is also concerned that many states exclude 16 and 17 year olds from juvenile court jurisdictions and thus juveniles continue to be tried in adult courts and to be incarcerated in adult institutions (arts. 7, 9, 10, 14, 15, and 24). 
The State party should prohibit and abolish all juvenile life without parole sentences irrespective of the crime committed, as well as all mandatory and non-homicide related sentences of life without parole. It should also ensure that all juveniles are separated from adults during pretrial detention and after sentencing and that juveniles are not transferred to adult courts. States that automatically exclude 16 and 17 year olds from juvenile court jurisdictions should be encouraged to change their laws.
Voting rights
24. While noting with satisfaction Attorney General Holder’s statement of 11 February 2014 calling for a reform of prisoner disenfranchisement State laws, the Committee reiterate its concern about the persistence of state-level felon disenfranchisement laws, its disproportionate impact on minorities, and the lengthy and cumbersome state voting restoration procedures. The Committee is further concerned that voter identification and other recently introduced eligibility requirements may impose excessive burdens on voters resulting in de facto disenfranchisement of large numbers of voters, including members of minority groups. Finally, the Committee reiterates its concern that residents of the District of Columbia are denied the right to vote for and election of voting representatives to the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives (arts. 2, 10, 25, and 26).
The State party should ensure that all states reinstate voting rights to felons who have fully served their sentences, provide inmates with information about their voting restoration options and remove or streamline lengthy and cumbersome state voting restoration procedures, as well as review automatic denial of the vote to any imprisoned felon, regardless of the nature of the offence. It should also take all necessary measures to ensure that voter identification requirements and the new eligibility requirements do not impose excessive burdens on voters resulting in de facto disenfranchisement. The State party should also provide for the full voting rights of residents of Washington, D.C. 
Rights of indigenous people
25. The Committee is concerned about the insufficient measures being taken to protect the sacred areas of indigenous peoples against desecration, contamination and destruction as a result of urbanization, extractive industries, industrial development, tourism and toxic contamination. It is also concerned about restricted access of indigenous people to sacred areas essential for preservation of their religious, cultural and spiritual practices and the insufficiency of consultation conducted with indigenous peoples on matters of interest to their communities (art. 27).
The State party should adopt measures to effectively protect sacred areas of indigenous peoples against desecration, contamination and destruction and ensure that consultations are held with the communities that might be adversely affected by State party’s development projects and exploitation of natural resources with a view to obtaining their free, prior and informed consent for the potential project activities.
26. The State party should widely disseminate the Covenant, the text of the fourth periodic report, the written responses that it has provided in response to the list of issues drawn up by the Committee and the present concluding observations so as to increase awareness among the judicial, legislative and administrative authorities, civil society and non-governmental organizations operating in the country, as well as the general public. The Committee also requests the State party, when preparing its fifth periodic report, to continue its practice of broadly consulting with civil society and non-governmental organizations.
27. In accordance with rule 71, paragraph 5, of the Committee’s rules of procedure, the State party should provide, within one year, relevant information on its implementation of the Committee’s recommendations made in paragraphs 5, 10, 21 and 22 above.

28. The Committee requests the State party, in its next periodic report, due to be submitted on 28 March 2019, to provide specific, up-to-date information on all its recommendations and on the Covenant as a whole

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Crisis in Ukraine

Crisis in Ukraine

by Stephen Lendman

Crisis conditions in Ukraine are potentially the most dangerous since Nazism's scourge terrorized Europe. 

Washington bears full responsibility. European partners share it. Obama claimed another imperial trophy. Whether he'll keep it is another matter entirely.

Vladimir Putin supports resolving conflict conditions responsibly. Western officials irresponsibly criticize him. Media scoundrels bash him mercilessly.

He's the only world leader challenging US imperial lawlessness responsibly. He deserves worldwide support.

At a March 4 news conference, he said Moscow supports peace, not war. He'll deploy troops only to protect Russian nationals. 

Ukraine's legitimate President Viktor Yanukovych requested he do so. He asked him to help restore law and order.

He cited Western-influenced "terror and violence." He asked Putin to send Russian forces "to establish legitimacy, peace, law and order, stability and defend the people of Ukraine."

Russian nationals are endangered. He acted responsibly. He called what happened in Kiev a coup d'etat. 

Viktor Yanokovych remains Ukraine's legitimate president. US-supported fascist extremists have no legitimacy.

"If we see this lawlessness starting in eastern regions, if the people ask us for help - in addition to a plea from a legitimate president, which we already have - then we reserve the right to use all the means we possess to protect those citizens," he said. 

"And we consider it quite legitimate," he stressed. It's the right thing to do.

"We are not going to a war against the Ukrainian people. I want you to understand it unambiguously." 

"If we do take a decision, it would only be to protect Ukrainian citizens. Let anybody in the military dare, and they’d be shooting their own people, who would stand up in front of us." 

"Shoot at women and children. I'd like to see anyone try and order such a thing in Ukraine."

He said uniformed Crimean defense forces without insignias aren't Russian soldiers.

Moscow acted responsibly, he stressed. It acted legitimately. No international laws were breached. Claims otherwise are false. They're irresponsible.

At the same time, he pointed fingers the right way. Washington illegitimately uses military force repeatedly, he stressed.

"When I ask them: 'Do you believe you do everything legitimately,' they say 'Yes.' "

"And I have to remind them about the US actions in Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya, where they acted either without any UN Security Council mandate or through perverting a mandate, as was the case in Libya," he explained.

"Our partners, especially in the United States, always clearly and formulate for themselves their geopolitical and national interests, pursue them relentlessly, and then drag the rest of the world in, using the principle 'You are either with us or against us."

"And they harass those who refuse to be dragged in."

Putin advisor Sergei Glazyev warned Washington against imposing sanctions. He'll advise Kremlin officials to dump US bonds in response.

"We would find a way not just to reduce our dependency on the United States to zero, but to emerge from those sanctions with great benefits for ourselves, he stressed. 

"We hold a decent amount of treasury bonds - more than $200 billion - and if the United States dares to freeze accounts of Russian businesses and citizens, we can no longer view America as a reliable partner." 

"We will encourage everybody to dump US Treasury bonds, get rid of dollars as an unreliable currency, and leave the US market."

Putin called Western threatened sanctions and other harsh measures counterproductive. Consequences cut both ways.

He wants normalized relations with Ukraine. He has no legitimate counterpart in Kiev.

Resistance in eastern and southern Ukraine shows Kiev has no mandate to govern.

Coup d'etat leadership runs things. Moscow rejects it. Mob rule has no legitimacy. Western leaders calling what happened a revolution doesn't wash.

US Trade Representative Michael Froman suspended forthcoming trade and investment talks with Moscow.

"We have suspended upcoming bilateral trade and investment engagement with the government of Russia that were part of a move toward deeper commercial and trade ties," he said.

On Monday, Pentagon spokesman Rear Admiral John Kirby announced a hold on US/Russia "military engagements." They include joint exercises and port visits.

An anonymous White House source said administration officials could "reinforce that the Russians still have an opportunity to take immediate steps to de-escalate the situation or they face further political and economic repercussions from the international community."

State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said Washington "has a broad range of option available" against Russia should things escalate.

Previous articles said Obama's planned direct intervention in Syria wasn't cancelled. It was postponed. On March 4, Voice of Russia said:

"President Barack Obama officially asked the Congress for permission to conduct a military operation in Syria."

On February 25, Press TV headlined "US planning for cyber attacks on Syria." Days earlier, Obama's National Security Council (NSC) met.

It explored what an unnamed US official called "old and new options…It would essentially turn the lights out for Assad." 

NSC spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden declined to discuss "the details of our interagency deliberations."

"But we have been clear that there are a range of tools we have at our disposal to protect our national security, including cyber" ones, she said.

In 2012, Obama signed a classified presidential directive. It relates to cyberoperations. 

It "establishes principles and processes so that cybertools are integrated with the full array of national security tools," she added.

America wages cyberwar. In 2010, Washington and Israel collaborated against Iran. Their Stuxnet virus infected Tehran's Bushehr nuclear facility.

Had the facility gone online infected, Iran's entire electrical power grid could have been shut down.

More powerful tools are being developed. All US enemies are vulnerable.

The Atlantic Council is NATO-linked. It's headquartered in Washington. It supports Washington's global agenda. Past and current members include a rogue's gallery of reliable American imperial supporters. 

They include Henry Kissinger, George Schultz, James Schlesinger, James Baker, Zbigniew Brzezinski, James Jones, Condoleezza Rice, Richard Holbrooke, Susan Rice, an array of current and former top military officials, and Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel.

Jason Healy heads the Atlantic Council's Cyber Statecraft Initiative. He claims cyberoperations can be humanitarian. How he didn't explain.

He said Washington was "caught using Stuxnet to conduct a covert cybercampaign against Iran, as well as trawling the Internet with the massive Prism collection operation."

"The world is increasingly seeing US cyberpower as a force for evil in the world," he added.

He claims attacking Syria this way "might help to reverse this view." Again he didn't explain further. Doing so covertly would be hard to keep secret.

It's unclear what Obama plans. Maybe he has cyber and military attacks in mind. No further information is available at this time.

Obama opened a can of worms in Ukraine. He's got his hands full. Russia can respond in kind to whatever he may have in mind.

What he'll risk going forward remains to be seen. Whether he plans attacking Syria now isn't known.

Professor Yelena Mulkumian believes threatening Moscow with isolation and sanctions impacts Damascus. It could give Washington a pretext to attack.

Its grand scheme calls for regional destabilization. Weakening and isolating Russia is planned. Incorporating Ukraine in NATO furthers it.

Putin justifiably won't tolerate Western nuclear armed missiles targeting Russia's heartland. A previous article called Ukraine his red line. He'll defend Moscow's interests responsibly.

A rogue's gallery of US-supported fascist extremists usurped power in Kiev. Putin knows what he's up against. He won't roll over for Obama. He's too resolute to back down. The stakes are too high to do so.

Russia's Defense Minister Anatoly Antonov "took notice" of Washington irresponsibly freezing military ties with Moscow.

"We proceed from the assumption that any collaboration - and the one between defense departments in particular - can only be based on the principles of mutuality and strictest parity, because this approach is the only one assuring the absence of winners and losers," he said.

Trust, clarity and respect for Russia's security are lacking. Putin, Antonov and other top Kremlin officials aren't cowed. They'll defend Moscow's interests responsibly.

Leonid Kalashnikov is Russia's lower house Duma deputy international affairs committee head.

Moscow shouldn't make concessions under threat of sanctions, he said.

Doing so "under pressure...will be taken negatively not only" internally but worldwide, he stressed.

"The damage from that will be catastrophic." Principles aren't to be bargained away, he added. Nor lives of Russian nationals.

At the same time, Russia's Foreign Ministry called threats of US sanctions unacceptable.

"By ignoring any attempts to study difficult processes in the Ukrainian society and to assess the situation, which continues to deteriorate after radicals seized power in Kiev by force, the US Secretary of State uses the Cold War cliches and proposes to punish the Russian Federation and not who committed a coup d'etat," it said.

Moscow's position remains clear, open and consistent. 

"If Ukraine is only a territory of geopolitical games for certain Western politicians, this is the brotherly country for us," the statement added.

Russia wants Ukraine kept strong, stable, independent and democratically governed.

It rejects radicalized putschists in charge. It wants resolution based on the February 21 agreement. 

It calls for forming a legitimate national unity government. It wants all Ukrainians represented fairly. Washington has other ideas.

Crimeans brace for what's coming. They fear clashes with Western-backed extremists.

They're concerned about Euromaidan violence erupting. Self-defense forces man checkpoint to prevent it. Disbanded Berkut security forces joined them.

A potential clash of civilizations looms. Global war could erupt. The damn fool in the White House risks it. 

So do other damn fool administration officials. Neocon extremists run things. Anything ahead is possible.

America is the real evil empire. Its hegemonic ambitions risk armageddon.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at [email protected] 

His new book is titled "Banker Occupation: Waging Financial War on Humanity."

http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanII.html

Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. 

Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

It airs Fridays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.


http://www.progressiveradionetwork.com/the-progressive-news-hour

Palestinians in Israel: Squaring the circle

An interview with Jonathan Cook

Five Books – 25 February 2014
Interviewed by: Bethan Staton

Outside of the Middle East, many people understand Palestine to mean the West Bank and Gaza, and Palestinians as the people living in these areas. But Palestinians who remained in Israel after the creation of the state in 1948 – when some 700,000 were displaced in the Nakba or catastrophe – now make up around 20% of Israel’s population. Could you explain a bit more about this community, and why it has been overlooked?

The difficulty for Palestinians remaining in what becomes Israel after 1948 is that the Palestinian national movement develops in exile, in the occupied territories and the neighboring Arab states. Palestinians in Israel are excluded and shielded from these developments and left in what amounts to a political and social ghetto. Israel strictly circumscribes their understanding of who they are and anything to do with their history, heritage and culture. Israel controls the education system, for instance, and makes it effectively impossible to talk about Palestinian issues there: you can’t discuss what the PLO is or the nakba, for example. This is designed to erode a sense of Palestinian-ness.

For most of the Palestinian minority’s history inside Israel, there’s also a reliance on the Israeli media, which won’t allow discussion of Palestinian identity either. In the state’s early years, Israel does not even refer to Palestinians as Arabs; they are described as ‘the minorities’, purely in sectarian or tribal terms as Muslims, Christians, Druze and Bedouin. It’s an innovation later on that the state recognises them as generic “Arabs”.

Another thing to remember is that the urban, educated middle class is destroyed in 1948. The elites are almost completely expelled. Nazareth is the only city where an urban population survives in any significant numbers. What you are left with is a series of isolated rural peasant communities, and these are not likely to a be the vanguard of a Palestinian national movement. So after 1948 we are already looking at an isolated, severely weakened Palestinian community within Israel, and it is very easy to manipulate this community, to strip it of its identity.

But this system of control starts to break down, first with Israel’s occupation of the West Bank in 1967. That releases the ‘virus’, as some would see it, of Palestinian nationalism to the Palestinians inside Israel. They start to reconnect with people on the “other side” in places like Jenin, Nablus and Ramallah. Families are reunited. Palestinians in Israel begin to realise how much they have been held back, oppressed.

The shift is only reinforced later with Israel’s loss of control over the media. When Arabic satellite television comes along, for example, the state is no longer able to control what its Palestinian citizens hear and see. And Palestinians are provided with an external window both on the ugliness of the occupation and their own situation, and on the centrality of the Palestinian cause to the rest of the Arab world.

So in more recent decades have we seen an increase in the kind of literature that deals with these identity issues? And a change in how these issues are considered?

The greatest problem facing Palestinians inside Israel is how to respond to their situation. They are cut off, isolated, excluded from the centres of power and even from the self-declared identity of a Jewish state. They’re an alien, unwelcome presence within that state. So the question is: how do you respond?

There are two main possibilities: through resistance, whether violent or non-violent, whether military, political, social or literary; or through some form of accommodation. And herein lies the tension. And this is what is especially interesting about the Palestinians in Israel, because to remain sane in this environment they have to adopt both strategies at the same time.

You see this politically in the Israeli Communist Party, the most established of the non-Zionist parties Palestinians vote for. The Communist movement is a Jewish-Arab one, so its Palestinian members are especially exposed to this tension. It is no surprise that some of the leading figures of Palestinian literature and art in Israel have been very prominent in the Communist party. Emile Habiby, for instance, was the editor of the Communist newspaper Al-Ittihad. The tension is obvious in the philosophy of the Communist party, which supports the idea of Jewish-Arab equality but within the framework of a Jewish state. This is a very unusual kind of communism: one that still thinks it’s possible to ascribe an ethnic identity to the state and yet aspire to the principle of equality within it. Palestinian Communists have been struggling with this paradox for a long time.

How successful is the attempt at reconciliation? Is there continued belief in, and support for, a Jewish state?

A central tenet of the Israeli Communist Party is “two states for two peoples”. So who are the “peoples” being referred to? One is the Palestinian people. But what is the other? Is it the Israeli people or the Jewish people? For Israeli Jews at least, it is clearly the Jewish people. In fact, within Israel there is no formally recognised Israeli nationality – only a Jewish nationality and an Arab nationality. The idea of “two states for two peoples” is vague, and it’s meant to be vague to keep Palestinians comfortable within the Israeli Communist Party. But the implication is that we are talking about two states, one for the Palestinians and one for the Jews.

The Communist Party stands for elections as the Democratic Front for Peace and Equality (Hadash). The implication is that peace (a Jewish state) is reconcilable with equality. This is very problematic: the Palestinian intellectuals at the forefront of the party try to evade this contradiction. But you can’t really fudge it, you can’t square the circle.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, Emile Habiby ends up writing the quintessential character in Israeli Palestinian literature: Saeed the Pessoptimist. This character represents the tension the minority lives: pessimism imbued with optimism. The Jewish state is the situation you’re trapped in, that’s pessimistic; the optimism looks to the equality you think you can aspire to, despite the reality. Saeed is always trying to square the circle. This very much becomes a theme of Palestinian literature in Israel.

Somebody like the poet Mahmoud Darwish, on the other hand, chooses a side. He does not try to keep a foot in both camps. Darwish says ‘I’m with the resistance’, and he leaves.

Sabri Jiryis also left Israel, after the publication of his book The Arabs in Israel, which is on your list. Could you tell us a bit more about the book, which could perhaps serve as an introduction to the background to this context?

That’s right. The book came out in English in 1976, but in Hebrew it was published in 1966. That is a very important date: it marks the end of the military government, the first 18 years when Israel imposes a system of military rule over its Palestinian citizens, separate from the democratic system that governs the Jewish majority. It is rather like the system of military rule that operates in the occupied territories today. When Jiryis was writing, of course, he didn’t know the military government was about to end, but he produces the definitive book on that period.

Jiryis is a lawyer writing a largely academic book, and it’s the first of its type to be written by a Palestinian inside Israel. Interestingly, like several other prominent Palestinian writers, he chooses to write in Hebrew – as do, for example, Anton Shammas and Sayed Kashua. In resorting to the language of your oppressor, you accommodate. Jiryis is resisting through content, but the language he employs is an accommodation.

He is writing at the close of the military government, and giving a victim’s view of it. It tells the Palestinian side but it is accessible to the Jewish population. So the work is highly subversive. It is also a counterpoint to Jewish academics who are writing books about Palestinians inside Israel in this period, people like Ori Stendal, who works with the intelligence services. The Israeli ‘experts’ studying the minority, and this is true to this day, are mainly working within the security paradigm, trying to understand the threat posed by the ‘Arab Israelis’ and refining the system of control. Jiryis is doing the exact opposite: he is trying to expose and shame the system.

Many of the Palestinians in Israel who write of the horrors of this period end up leaving. We see this, for example, with Fauzi el-Asmar, a Palestinian poet and a contemporary of Jiryis, who is forced out. His writings and activism are subversive, and so the state jails him. In his book To Be an Arab in Israel, he recalls his interrogators telling him ‘We will only make your life easy once you sign this piece of paper to say you’re leaving’. The task here is to get him out of the country, because the last thing Israel wants is people who are defining and shaping an identity for Palestinians within Israel. El-Asmar ends up leaving and becomes an American academic. Jiryis, too, leaves and goes to Lebanon and joins the PLO there. Those who stay but want to keep their integrity keep trying to square the circle: accommodating on one level, while resisting on another.

And I guess this process has the effect of shaping the landscape of Palestinian literature and identity within Israel – making it more accommodating?

More pessoptimist! Nazareth and Haifa are the only two places where a Palestinian middle class, an intellectual elite survived. They had to find some way to be true to themselves as intellectuals, but they also had to find a way to accommodate with the oppressor. And the ways they accomodate are interesting: their subversion is subtle, ironic, and so on. Kashua ends up living among Jews, speaking Hebrew with his kids, half in the Jewish camp and half in the Arab camp, ashamed and proud of his Arabness at the same time. This is the eternal problem of the pessoptimist.

One also has to understand where this comes from: choice. Early figures like Jiryis end up leaving. The process of writing his book seems to resolve in his own mind his status. He confronts the problem of his half-citizenship and rejects it.

So the Jiryis book you have chosen is this book, the book he wrote in Israel before he left. What precisely does he produce before leaving?

He is like a political scientist examining a Kafkaesque situation. He is analysing these absurd laws that look like they are the foundations of a democracy while they are really the walls of a prison. He is trying to explain the paradoxes in the law, and in the wider concept of a Jewish and democratic state. The abuses of the military government simply clarify things.

Take, for example, the Fallow Lands Law, an Ottoman law adopted by Israel that requires landowners to farm their land. If they leave the land untended for more than three years, it can be taken by the ruler and reassigned to those who need it. Under the Ottomans, it is a piece of almost-socialist legislation.

Israel, however, totally subverts the law’s intent. Now the military governor has each Palestinian land owner in his malevolent grip. In this period, no Palestinian resident can leave his or her community without a permit from the military government. So the farmer who needs to get to his land to tend it must either accommodate with the military government (i.e. become a collaborator) or resist and lose his land. In short, he has two awful choices.

As a lawyer, Jiryis is trying to understand how these laws work, how they cohere, how they create a system of control. And he’s really the first Palestinian to try and do that. Another writer, Fauzi el-Asmar embodies the emotional, poetic, artistic response to the situation, but Jiryis grasps the dynamics of it and breaks down the complexity. Really he is describing Israel’s version of Apartheid.

As you said, the book documents the period of military rule, which came to an end in the 1960s. How do you think a reader coming to the book should understand those details in relation to what has happened since, and what the situation is today?

This is one of the things I find interesting about Jiryis. The book is an act of resistance: he was trying to produce a road map that would allow Palestinians to understand the nature of their oppression, so they could be better equipped to fight it. If you don’t understand a problem you can’t fix it, and what Jiryis is trying to do is make the hidden and veiled visible: he’s taking apart the clock to see how all the mechanisms fit. When people understand the system, they can challenge it, try to remake it.

What may not be clear to him when he is writing is whether the system is reformable or needs overthrowing. In the end, Jiryis sides with the military resistance: he goes off and joins the PLO in exile. Although he’s not a fighter, he takes a side. He’s no longer a Palestinian Israeli: he’s simply a Palestinian.

At the same time, though, he’s rooted to the idea of steadfastness, or sumud – this is another feature of Palestinian literature. As soon as Oslo is signed, he returns. In fact, he is the first of the PLO exiles to apply and come back to Israel under the terms of the Oslo Accords. But when he returns, he chooses to live in Fassuta, his ancestral village way up in the north, next to Lebanon. The place is really out in the sticks. But this is where he wants to be: it is his home, his village, his land.

This is very much a response to the peculiarity of Israeli citizenship, which lacks a corresponding Israeli nationality. For most citizens their nationality is Jewish or Arab. That means for Palestinians there is no common nationality that connects them with the Jewish population. And unlike Jewish Israelis, those with Arab nationality have no national rights, only inferior individual rights. In other words, Palestinians in Israel have a very deprived form of citizenship, almost like a guest worker. That creates a very strong feeling of insecurity, impermanence, temporariness: the antithesis of sumud. So they root themselves to a place. Jiryis is a good example of this. I think it is incredible for a man who was such a central figure in the legal establishment of the PLO to come back to the anonymity of Fassuta the first chance he gets.

Perhaps that would be a good time to mention Sayed Kashua’s Let it be Morning?

Sayed Kashua is a great example of the pessoptimist, especially in terms of the way he writes and what he writes about. He has developed a semi-autobiographical character over many years in the Hebrew newspaper Haaretz. He also has the only sitcom on mainstream Israeli TV written by a Palestinian, in which the main character Amjad tries to square the circle: he aspires to live in a Jewish community, to live like a first-class citizen, while constantly fearing that the pretence on which he has constructed his life will be exposed and shattered. Fear of exposure and humiliation drives him. In other hands it would be tragedy, but because Kashua has a wicked sense of humour it is uproariously funny.

It is never quite clear how much Amjad or Kashua’s other characters are really him. He is always playing around with identities, and this is another interesting feature of Palestinian art inside Israel, especially cinema. When reality is so strange, a hybrid documentary style – fact merged with fiction – helps to capture the truth while also offering the protection of distance. Humour does the same. Good cinematic examples of this are films like Hany Abu Assad’s Ford Transit or Eli Suleiman’s Divine Intervention.

Palestinian identity in this context has to be very fluid. One weakness of Jewish academic studies of Palestinians in Israel is that they ascribe the population linear identities. One professor, Sami Smooha, is famous for identity surveys in which he tries to assess whether the minority is becoming ‘more Palestinian’ or ‘more Israeli’. That is really wrong-headed: for Palestinians in Israel there has to be a fluidity of identity to cope with these terribly complex legal, political, emotional situations. And that’s reflected in the character of the pessoptimist.

In Let it be Morning there’s definitely a sense of tension between what the narrator wishes to be the case, and the reality of what’s going on in his life. When he returns from Tel Aviv to the Arab village where he grew up it’s difficult to tell what reality is, and what is coloured by his needs and desires. And the sense of everything slipping out of control is very overwhelming.

Let It Be Morning is unusual for Kashua because it is a serious, nightmarish work – it is the pessoptimist at his very darkest. There is a reason for that: Kashua is writing in the early days of the second intifada when things reached a nadir for Palestinians in Israel. They were living in Israel, often under threat from suicide bombings just like Israeli Jews, but at the same time constantly under suspicion as terrorists themselves from the Jewish population. This is precisely the problem faced by the narrator, a journalist like Kashua working for a Hebrew newspaper and who feels increasingly alienated from his workplace and the Jewish city where he and his family live. He craves a sense of security and so decides to return to his Arab village, right next to the West Bank.

But the relocation offers him no real comfort. He has become too Jewish after a 10-year absence to fit back into the village, torn itself between lingering patriarchal Palestinian traditions and the faux-modernity and materialism its residents aspire to as “half-Israelis”. Their constant accommodations and dependence on their state, Israel, are simply vulgar reminders of the narrator’s own more sophisticated efforts at the same. So the narrator finds himself a “dancing Arab” – the title of his first, seemingly very autobiographical novel – trying to please everyone, and failing dismally.

Survival for Palestinians depends on creativity and adaptability, and a sense of communal cohesion. This is at the heart of the concept of sumud (or steadfastness). But the village is put to an extreme test in Kashua’s book when it is surrounded by tanks and its inhabitants find themselves cut off from the modern world, Israel, and from the old world, Palestine. This is a clear metaphor for the Palestinians inside Israel: they are cut off from both sides. Suddenly the villagers are isolated, and their society and sense of solidarity quickly break down. They stop being a community and become instead competing families, capable of cruelty and inhumanity.

Kashua is playing with a very familiar nightmare scenario for Palestinians inside Israel – the continuing fear of transfer, the threat of being expelled this time, of not holding on to what was kept in 1948. This is something I did not understand until I was living here. There really is a tangible fear that at any moment they and their families could be transferred, that the war of 1948 never finished. This is a large part of the incentive for accommodation: there is a huge sword hanging over your head. You could be expelled; if you put a foot wrong, you could be out the door; the trucks are waiting.

In the book, Kashua seems to communicate an unsureness about the extent to which he’s cooperating or collaborating. The mechanisms and institutions of society are always working towards strengthening themselves. Just by participating in society you are necessarily a part of that, contributing to it. I’ve spoken to many people about this sense, even in the West Bank.

The difference in the Occupied Territories is that for Palestinians there the Israelis are basically the Shin Bet, the army, the police and possibly the settlers – agents of the state. These people appear as unfamiliar, hostile beings. When Palestinians encounter them, it is clearly a master-slave relationship.

Inside Israel it is different. If you are a Palestinian taxi driver in Israel you spend all day speaking Hebrew to people in the back of your cab. You are constantly accommodating, performing as the Good Arab. For most Palestinian youth in Israel this experience arrives as a shock when they start a first job or go to university. They move from a familiar place where all the children around them are like them, speaking Arabic, and then suddenly they are in a world where they are seen as something alien. Often they face hostility, contempt, aggression, subtle or otherwise, from those they must spend time with.

So one thing you often see with Palestinians in Israel is a need to declare their separateness, to make a statement about their identity. That may not necessarily be as a Palestinian; it can be a sectarian identity. So, for example, you see many young Muslim women wearing the hijab, while Christian girls walk around with a cross around their neck. People don’t want to be caught in embarrassing or humiliating situations. It is a way to avoid the danger of being accepted and then rejected, revealed as the Other.

The next book on your list is Hatim Kanaaneh’s A Doctor in Galilee. I guess this gives a very human perspective on some very practical issues and material manifestations of the situation now and historically, obviously through the context of healthcare.

Hatim is a friend, and he sought my opinion on the book while he was drafting it. I find his story, again, illustrative of the problems we’ve been talking about. His family realises he has a talent and they make major sacrifices to send him to Harvard to get a medical degree. This is at the end of the military government, and a very difficult time for Palestinians inside Israel. They are a very isolated community, cut off from the world, barely connected to the transport infrastructure, living in a ghetto, and Hatim makes this incredible leap to go and train as a doctor at Harvard.

Hatim, I think, embodies the qualities of the pessoptimist, even if a very self aware one, one who understands early on that he is trying to square the circle. He has a set of impressive skills, ones denied to other Palestinians in Israel, and acquired because his family suffered to make this possible for him. It is both a huge burden and a considerable weapon. So he wants to put his new skills to good use, to the benefit of his society. The pessimist understands the disastrous circumstances of his community, but the optimist wants to believe his community – and the relationships between Jews and Arabs – can be improved.

He is not simply fixing broken bodies, he is trying to create an infrastructure of public health care for his community. He’s trying to create sewage systems and bring fresh water into the villages, to liberate the inhabitants from the prisons created for them by the state. Israel is a modern country, but it has left the Palestinian villages a hundred years behind. Kanaaneh comes with the tools of modernity to save these villages. The optimist wants to believe this can be done, and that once Israelis see what Palestinians are capable of they will warm to them, see them as human, as equals.

Hatim’s struggle is conducted through the Health Ministry, where he rises to the most senior position ever held by a Palestinian citizen. He assumes he is going to break down the stereotypes, that he will win over the Jews as friends, and that when they revise their opinion of him they will do the same with the rest of the Palestinian minority. He is a man with vision and optimism, but he is trapped in a world that demands pessimism. He starts to see himself more and more as an Uncle Tom and to lose faith in the Jewish colleagues around him. He identifies the racism as so entrenched that he doubts there is a way to circumvent it. He becomes deeply disillusioned. But despite all that he chooses sumud as his act of part-accomodation, part-resistance.

I think the sense of responsibility among people to give back to one’s community is quite common, but in this context the feeling of being ‘unwanted’ within a state structure, so to speak, adds an element of feeling the need to justify one’s own existence. And in the book everything seems pretty hopeless at points. You get a real sense of banging your head against a brick wall.

When Hatim finally quits the Health Ministry, he sets up the first real NGO for Palestinians inside Israel with an international perspective, the Galilee Society. This is an act of subversion. He is trying to bypass Israel and go directly to the international community, because he realises that otherwise no help will be forthcoming from his own state. But at the same time it is not a completely rejectionist stance: he also knows he must work with Jewish society. By reaching out to the international community, he hopes to shame Israel into action.

So the potential for the community to create alternative structures to serve itself is limited, and when it comes to things like infrastructure and healthcare, the state is very necessary. And this makes cooperating and working with the state necessary.

He is resisting by setting up the Galilee Society, but he is also doing it within the framework of accommodation. He’s got a foot in both camps because that is the only option for those who stay. Leaving is a defeat for sumud, for steadfastness. That is why Palestinians see the need to come back to the place where they started: that is the only thing that distinguishes them from other Palestinians, it is the only strength they have.

You’ve also selected So What by Taha Muhammad Ali. It’s a selection of his poetry from 1971-2005. How does this deal with ideas of longing and return?

Taha Muhammad Ali was an internal refugee, or a “present absentee”, this gloriously Orwellian term Israel assigns to those who after 1948 are still present in Israel but absent from their property. Safuriya, his village, which is right next to Nazareth, represents this tension acutely – of presence and absence. Many of the refugees, like Taha’s family, fled to Nazareth and set up their own neighborhood called Safafri that overlooks the old, destroyed village. So they wake up in the morning and open the curtains to look out on the land that they lived on before they were expelled in 1948. He is so present he is almost there, but at the same time he is always absent. This is not an untypical condition: one in four Palestinians in Israel are present absentees.

Here you have another way of looking at the pessoptimist: the present and the absent. The present person is the optimist, the absent person is the pessimist. Some of the best Palestinian poets, including Darwish, were internal refugees, always living with this tension in their being.

Poetry has a very important place in the Palestinians’ artistic pantheon, and it becomes particularly powerful as a vehicle for the Palestinians because it speaks to the whole Arab world. People set poems to music, so it was more than literature, it became part of a wider Arabic culture. It was a way to tell the Palestinian story, the Palestinian sense of loss to the whole Arab world; it was the best kind of newspaper you could have and at the same time gave a sense that the loss of the Palestinian homeland was also a loss for all Arabs, a loss of independence and a sense of self respect that they all shared.

Darwish, the most famous Palestinian poet, faces the tension and stays inside Israel for quite a while. But in the end he, like Jiryis, cannot live with it. Taha Muhammad Ali is a pessoptimist. He does not have the heart for pure resistance. He prefers to find the middle ground, some kind of accommodation.

And how is that expressed in the poetry?

Famously he said ‘There is no Israel and there is no Palestine’, which is something you could never imagine Darwish saying. In fact, invariably there is from Taha a rejection of posturing, self-importance and, above all, a deep disquiet at all-consuming hatred, however justified it might seem by circumstance. In one poem,’Twigs’, he focuses on the things he remembers – small things, details like the taste of bread and water. It ends with an assessment that at our death “hate will be / the first thing / to putrefy / within us”. But at the same happiness is never quite present either. One of his lines, used as the title of a great biography in English, is “My happiness bears no relation to happiness”.

There is also a poem, Revenge, where he talks about how he wants to kill the man who stole his family’s home in 1948, thereby “expelling me into a narrow country”. He says “if I were ready – / I would take my revenge!” So for a brief, deceptive moment it seems as though he has found an inner voice of resistance. But in true Taha style he then subverts it all. He recites all the reasons why he would not be able to kill him, such as if the man had loved ones, or friends or even casual acquaintances who might miss him. But even that is not enough of a concession. He also argues that he would leave the man be even if he had no one who cared for or loved him. “Instead I’d be content / to ignore him when I passed him by / on the street – as I / convinced myself / that paying him no attention / in itself was a kind of revenge.” So here is the pessoptimist; a man who starts with grand talk of resistance, but in the end despite himself recognises a need to accommodate, to live with others, to refuse to bow to their level.

Do you think it’s as if there’s a sense of humanity – both in the sense of practical needs and sympathy for others – getting in the way of taking any kind of action?

Taha died a couple of years ago, but there are videos of him on YouTube. You see when he talks, there is a wonderful boylike mischief in his face, a kind of perpetual smile even as he talks about very sad things, the losses endured by himself and his family, and his community. There is an eternal optimism in tiny things: he says “the best drink is water and the best food is bread”. The tiny things in life can give you a great deal of pleasure, and maybe you have to focus on the small things because the big things are too depressing, too overwhelming.

But the day to day is so important because it keeps people going, and it’s also what keeps people accommodating, in a sense.

Taha had four years of formal education because his whole schooling was brought to an end by the Nakba. In 1948 the present absentees lose everything – it is year zero. Taha and his brothers start to rebuild their lives in Nazareth, selling bread from a street trolley. Eventually he opens a souvenir shop next to the Basilica, selling trinkets to tourists, and probably regales them with his stories too. But most of the time there is nothing to do. You can see shop owners like him today, sitting there or dozing or listening to the radio. But you can imagine Taha reading loads of poetry, teaching himself because he understands that only through poetry can he reclaim his voice and reach out to people with his stories.

As a self-taught poet, he finds his own language. Unlike Darwish, he does not use classical Arabic, the heavy, serious Arabic. Instead he uses the street language. He talks to the ordinary man and woman. He does not want poetry to be this big, weighty thing. The subject for him is not the grand Palestinian drama, but the small, inconsequential things that have been lost or destroyed, the efforts to rebuild on the personal scale, to take pleasure in the tiny things that survive. He seeks the reasons for optimism, love and compassion over the urge for hatred and revenge. There is a bitterness too but it must never be allowed to trump what really matters.

Your final book choice is Sleeping on a Wire, by David Grossman.

I felt we should have one work from an Israeli Jew, because they have done so much to shape Palestinian identity inside Israel. There are some great books on Palestinians in Israel, as well as some truly awful ones. I see David Grossman’s book as interesting because it is really the first attempt to grapple with the Palestinian identity issue in Israel from a Jewish perspective. I do not think it is entirely successful, and I have a problem with his politics, but it is clear he is trying to do it honestly, that he is seeking to understand.

The problem is that he is a liberal Zionist, and there is a constant tension between his liberalism and his Zionism. So the liberal in Grossman wants to understand the trauma that befell the Palestinians in Israel, wants to reach out to them, wants to understand them. But at the same time the Zionist in him fears what their narrative represents. So what happens in each chapter, like a nervous tic, which I find fascinating, is Grossman immersing himself in their stories deeply, allowing them to speak unmediated, but then afterwards he can’t stop himself from interpreting for them, or judging them.

So what’s the structure of this, what form does this take in the book?

It is a very common liberal Zionist position: the need to have the last word, and to create the framework of the narrative. His book is subversive because he is an Israeli Jew giving Palestinians the chance to tell their story, to explain their situation in great depth. He’s very good about letting Palestinians speak clearly and honestly and transparently, you sense that he’s not manipulating the conversations and he’s not editing out stuff, he just wants to hear, he gives you it all. But the context for this act of generosity is a Zionist one. He and his subjects are in a Jewish state, and it has to be one as far as Grossman is concerned. So however much he sympathises with the Palestinians, and however much he understands, however much he feels their pain: sorry, but at the end of the day the Jewish State is more important.

I found the book very frustrating, because he has this great ability to tell his subjects’ stories, but then the narrator, himself, comes in at the end to tell us what we should make of what we have just heard. He cannot leave it to us to make up our own mind; he has to create for us a prism to see through.

This is an important point when we talk about the tension faced by Palestinian Israelis: that profound tensions exist for Israeli Jews too. It’s a hard thing to face, with honesty, the problematic realities of a state that one supports and is a part of. Perhaps this is a different kind of struggle, of individuals coming to terms with the structures of their own privilege, and trying to accommodate difficult truths into a particular vision.

And I think this is a general problem for Israeli Jews: that the narrative of Palestinians, including or maybe especially those inside Israel, is too overwhelming, too threatening, too disconcerting, too guilt-inducing to cope with. Which is why most Israeli Jews won’t really listen. What is interesting about Grossman is he has enough emotional strength to hear it, but then needs to package it up in a way that he and his readers can cope with.

So do you think the book is valuable as a document of the Palestinian story in Israel, or as an example of attitudes towards that, of Jewish Israeli considerations of the issue?

I think it’s useful as both. Grossman’s motive was probably to write something that, because it was written by an Israeli Jew, would be accessible to people who find it difficult to hear the Palestinian narrative. He hoped to bridge a kind of social divide and help heal wounds.

The book is also a fascinating historical document. One chapter is dedicated to the Islamic movement in its early years, a subject little written about apart from in Arabic. It’s very interesting to see how the Islamic movement saw its role in the early 1990s, caught in a certain moment, at the end of of the first Intifada and just before Oslo. Or the unrecognised villages and their struggle at that time to live in a twilight world of being present and absent in a different sense: on the ground but off the map. Visible to the eye but invisible to Israeli bureaucrats, at least in terms of public services.

Grossman was writing at a moment when Israeli Jews were very pessimistic. Soldiers had been told by their prime minister Yitzhak Rabin to break the bones of Palestinians in the occupied territories to crush the first intifada. It was a time when Israeli Jews were realising that there was serious and organised opposition to the occupation, that their supposed benevolent rule was rejected by Palestinians.

The question of who the Palestinians inside Israel were, and how they were connected to these events, becomes important. Grossman is trying to reach out to the Palestinians in Israel to find some common ground, in the hope of defining an Israeliness. Possibly there’s an element of the security mentality – ‘let’s understand the enemy’. But he is too intelligent and sensitive just to be doing that. He is genuinely trying to find out whether some kind of accommodation can be reached, to ask: are they going to move closer to us, or further away? Because from a Jewish Israeli perspective, the Palestinians inside Israel are seen as the Achilles’ heel of the Jewish state.

At the beginning you alluded to a relatively recent sense of changing and developing Palestinian identity in Israel, through literature, media and so on. How are these books, which explore that, being received? And are things changing in terms of their relationship in wider Israeli society?

It’s an interesting question. Where’s Israeli Jewish society heading? If you look at the Israeli Jewish books about Palestinians in Israel they date from certain periods. In the late 1970s there is a rash of books written as a result of Land Day, when Palestinians in Israel engaged in a major confrontation with the state to stop confiscations of their land. Six demonstrators are killed during the protests. It’s a crisis for both sides: the Palestinians realise their citizenship is not real citizenship; and Israeli Jews appreciate that their rule over this group is contested. The lens through which this is seen is chiefly then a security one. How do we control them better? More books emerge during the 1990s, the Oslo period, because the question then is: what kind of citizenship can a Jewish state concede to the Palestinian minority after a peace agreement? How is the state’s security to be defined? Nowadays it seems to me Israeli Jewish society is much less interested in understanding Palestinians inside Israel.

Why?

I think now they are seen as more of a threat, and the chief interest is how to separate from them, not how to live with them. They are seen as a demographic problem, framed in the language of security. The issue is about “us”: how to protect the Jewish majority. This is the material of policy papers, not books.

Aside from that do you think the issues facing Palestinians within Israel are becoming more important in terms of wider questions about Israel and Palestine, and the possibility of a final settlement?

It is becoming clearer to Israel that Palestinians inside Israel are a key fault line in the peace process. Netanyahu has made the Palestinians’ recognition of Israel as a Jewish state a precondition for an agreement. So in terms of the peace process, Palestinians inside Israel are now a – if not, the – core issue.

During 1948 Israel created a demographic structure – through mass expulsions, and through laws to ensure that only Jews could immigrate – to guarantee that the state was and would remain incontestably Jewish. Now in the current peace talks, what Israel wants from the Palestinian leadership is for them to sign up to this, saying, we’re fine with it. And this is supposed to close the 1948 file, which is still an open file for the Palestinians. And this is why I think Palestinians inside Israel are seen increasingly less as a community in themselves and more as another one of the final status issues. The Palestinians’ fight inside Israel for equality and democracy ultimately risks creating a right of return – because real equality requires that Palestinians have the same rights of naturalisation as Jews enjoy under the Law of Return. And then you would have refugees returning and Israel’s Jewish majority being eroded.

And this puts another layer onto what you mentioned about accommodation: that’s a very big question resting on the shoulders of Palestinians in Israel. Yet as I mentioned earlier, I have the sense the reality of Palestinians living within Israel is not really recognised widely. When outsiders are introduced to the reality for the first time, they tend to find it puts everything in a very new perspective.

And it’s overwhelming. It’s overwhelming for everybody. The reason Grossman is reframing all the time is because it is overwhelming. The reason Sabri Jiryis and Mahmoud Darwish leave is because it’s overwhelming. The reason Taha Muhammad Ali and Sayed Kashua adopt the pessoptimist worldview is because it’s overwhelming. The reason Hatim Kanaaneh digs in his roots as deep as he can is because it’s overwhelming. And for outsiders it is overwhelming too; the reality is more complex and more paradoxical and more entrenched and more irreconcilable than anyone could have imagined.

It’s not just a case of drawing a better border. It’s much more complicated than that. It’s redressing decades and decades of injustice, and in doing so maybe creating new injustices. Because so many Jewish immigrants came and settled here and gave up lives elsewhere. What happens to them? You can’t just create a new set of injustices. How do you reconcile these problems? How do you square all these circles?

Tagged as: ,

Economic Terror And Rolling Out India’s Surveillance State

Global Research 5/2/2014, Countercurrents 6/2/2014 and Deccan Herald 6/2/2014

When two planes flew into the World Trade Organisation buildings inNew York in 2001, the impact was twofold. First, there was shock and outrage. Second, there was a collective sentiment, at least in the US, that something must be done to prevent such a thing happening again and some form of retributive justice meted out.


Governments the world over wasted no time in conveniently forcing through legislation that eroded personal and collective freedoms, under the guise of preventing terror, at a time of increasing social and economic inequalities due to a strident and exploitative economic neo-liberal agenda.


If 9/11 served at least one purpose, apart from fuelling Western military imperialism according to the tenets of the neo-con Project for a New American Century, it was to provide any or every government on the planet with a reason for clamping down on its own population, stripping away civil liberties and making people acquiesce to the needs of global capital. Edward Snowden’s revelations about the US and British surveillance agencies and programmes have exposed just how far governments are prepared to go in order to snoop on virtually every activity that ordinary members of the public engage in. Politicians on both sides of the Atlantic try to justify this illegal snooping on the basis of it being carried out for people's own good on the back of self-proclaimed ‘security alerts’.


But history shows that widespread surveillance by governments on their own populations has mostly been about attempting to monitor and quell dissent and genuine opposition to its policies (1). The US and British states have long been involved in illegal, duplicitous monitoring and subversion of perfectly legitimate democratic groups on their own soils. Western intelligence agencies have been used to crush democracy at home in order to serve the interests of elite state-corporate players. From Martin Luther King and the Occupy Movement to Veterans for Peace, the US state has used the full panoply of resources to infiltrate, monitor or subvert. Today, democratic movements that seek to legitimately question and challenge the influence of Wall Street, US military policy abroad and a range of other policies that have serve elite interests are spied on and ‘neutralised’. The conclusion is that mass surveillance occurs because legitimate political dissent that poses a direct challenge to the one percent will not be tolerated.


Should people in India be worried about the rolling out of the Indian’s government own plans for mass monitoring, the Centralised Monitoring System? They should, given the genuine concerns being raised about the lack of Parliamentary oversight and transparency surrounding the system, as well as the scope and depth and the violation of privacy safeguards, which could be as far reaching, secretive and unconstitutional/illegal as the West’s PRISM system (2,3,4).


And they should be concerned because the agenda is the same. Social and economic trends in India have been mirroring those in the West since neo-liberal economic policies were embraced by leading politicians here. The gap between rich and poor has widened, wealth is being concentrated in the hands of a relatively small number of families and billionaires, often courtesy of politicians who ‘facilitate’ the handing out of contracts and chunks of public money.  


The growing chasm in both India and the West between rich and poor has not been lost on policy makers who fear a backlash from ordinary folk. Such concerns were recently voiced at the World Economic Forum. It’s for good reason then that ‘homeland security’ has been beefed up in the US and drones are to be used to spy on its own citizens. It’s for good reason that the NSA and its British equivalent are paranoid about their populations’ political views, allegiances and activities. Mass surveillance of ordinary people is not about preventing terror; it’s about stopping ordinary folk seeking to stop a further shift in the balance of power towards elite interests.  



And it’s also for good reason that the Indian government is investing massively in military equipment and surveillance at a time when the rich are looting the economy and protests and uprisings are occurring across the nation in order to protect their lands, forests and communities from this assault.


India’s top ten billionaires account for over 12 percent of the country’s GDP, while 7,850 High Net Worth individuals account for US$935 billion, half of India’s GDP. As in the West, India’s military-corporate-state complex is working hand in glove to shove economic neo-liberalism and its impact down the throats of the people. This is the type of extremism and economic terror that is seldom discussed.     


In 2013, the Indian defence budget formed over ten percent of total government expenditure. It has been for many years the world’s largest market for imported arms. In 2000, India spent an estimated US$ 911 million on arms imports; by 2013, this had risen to US$4.6 billion. As both violent and peaceful opposition to government policies is on the rise among many of the nation's poorest people, who become conveniently tarnished by many mainstream commentators as 'the enemy within', India now has the world’s largest paramilitary force in place to 'deal' with them.(5).


Apart from ongoing violent conflicts in the ‘tribal belt’ and elsewhere, there is the continuing all pervasive structural violence of crony capitalism, corruption, ‘globalisation’ and neo-liberalism, which has, among other atrocities, resulted in up to 300,000 farmer suicides and India having over one-third of the poorest people in the world and the world’s largest number of children suffering from malnutrition (6).


There are people who want to do us harm. We need to be protected. There are extremists and wrong doers who want to bend the system for their own narrow agendas against the interests of the many. There always has been. Unfortunately, they have hijacked the machinery of state(s) and are increasingly to be found in positions of authority implementing surveillance and economic terrorism ‘for our own good’.


Notes





Revealed: NSA Receiving Data of Tens of Thousands of Internet Users

Sarah Lazare RINF Alternative News Internet giants Google, Facebook, Yahoo, LinkedIn and Microsoft release new details about government surveillance requests Every six months, data from tens of...

Kerry and Lavrov in Munich

Kerry v. Lavrov in Munich

by Stephen Lendman

Kerry represents the worst of America's dark side. Imperial lawless defines it. So do permanent wars on humanity. 

Lavrov and Vladimir Putin deserve Nobel Peace Prizes. They address regional conflicts responsibly. They want things resolved diplomatically. 

They've gone all out for peace in Syria. They've done it tirelessly. They continue doing it against long odds.

They know Obama wants regime change. So does Kerry. They support death squad killers. They ignore their worst atrocities. They wrongfully blame Assad for their crimes.

They want Ukraine's democratically government ousted. They want pro-Western ultranationalist extremists replacing it.

They enlisted street thugs to incite violence. Aggressive protests were planned. Fascist Pravy Sektor hooligans are involved. 

They're waging guerrilla war. Ukraine risks becoming another Yugoslavia. They published a manifesto saying:

"The time of peaceful singing and dancing (in Independence Square) is over. (It's) a waste of time."

"There can be no negotiations, no compromises with the ruling gang. We will carry high the fire of national revolution."

Alexander Gnativ is Ukraine Deputy Chief of Investigation Department of Ministry of Internal Affairs. Opposition forensic computer analysis showed mass protests were planned.

On November 21, they began. They weren't spontaneous. "I would note that among the materials which are available for the investigation, there is evidence that the planning of these actions provides a so-called 'power' version of its development," said Gnativ. 

"That is an option under which force will be applied (by) the demonstrators, causing a wide resonance and undermin(ing) the credibility of the current government and the President." 

Related evidence shows State Department-funded National Endowment of Democracy involvement. So are Washington extremist elements.

Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Victoria Nuland is involved. She openly supports street thug violence.

She's part of a US-instigated insurrection. At issue is toppling legitimate Ukrainian governance. She lied saying: "We stand with the people of Ukraine..."

She demanded Ukrainian President Viktor Yanokovych engage "with Europe and the IMF." She formerly worked for Dick Cheney. She's hardcore neocon. 

Her husband is Project for the New American Century (PNAC) co-founder Robert Kagan. He's a neocon foreign policy theorist/hardliner.

He advised John McCain's 2008 presidential campaign. He served on Hillary Clinton's Foreign Affairs Policy Board.

The Foreign Policy Initiative (FPI) is PNAC's current incarnation. He's a board of directors member. He represents the worst of America's dark side. So do Nuland and Kerry.

They back neo-fascist governance replacing Ukrainian democracy. Munich hosts annual security conferences (MSCs). Heads of state and other top officials attend.

This year was MSC's 50th event. It was held from January 31 - February 2. Kerry and Lavrov attended. 

Their agendas are polar opposite. At issue is war or peace. It's neo-fascism or democracy. 

It's Washington deciding Ukraine's future or its people. It's colonization or sovereign independence. It's ruthless exploitation or freedom. 

Lavrov accused Western politicians of inciting Ukraine violence. They support the worst of what's ongoing. They back hooliganism over responsible law and order.

"Why is no one condemning those who seize administration buildings, attack policemen and chant racist and anti-Semitic slogans," asked Lavrov? 

"Why are prominent European (and US) politicians actually encouraging the moves in question, although in their own countries they immediately clamp down on any encroachments on the letter of the law?"

"How would the European Union (and America) react if the Russian government openly supported street riots in (Washington), London, Paris or Hamburg, and sent its ministers to these cities to encourage the protesters?"

"What does the inciting of street protests, which are growing increasingly violent, have to do with promoting democratic principles."

Lavrov defended Ukraine's right to stop violence. It's universally accepted. No nations tolerate street thuggery. None permit national insurrections.

Responsible governments quell things before they get out of hand. They're obligated to do so. Law and order depend on it. So does public safety.

"The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights states that the freedom of expression cannot be illegal and is a basic right," said Lavrov. 

"But riots (and) violent actions give the grounds to limit those freedoms. A state must be strong if it wants to remain democratic."

The alternative is anarchy. It's tyranny. Russia supports the right of Ukrainians to decide their future. It backs Syrians the same way. It opposes outside meddling.

International law prohibits it. Moscow wants both conflicts resolved diplomatically. It rejects force. It abhors US ultimatums. It's against US threats of war.

Lavrov addressed global instability. He stressed the importance of rule of law principles in international relations.

He urged world unity to assure peace, stability and security. "Deficiency of strategic vision and confidence is still evident in the relations in the sphere of security," he said.

"Here we are still not able to overcome the phobia of a bygone era, an attempt to consider the situation through the prism of 'friend or foe.' "

"We need fewer slogans right now and more care about the results of efforts being undertaken by the Ukrainian leadership to return the country to a peaceful course."

Believing Ukraine must choose sides is "an idea from a bygone era." 

Ukraine's Foreign Minister Leonid Kozhara said:

"We do not want to be pawns in a geopolitical game. We do not want anyone to interfere with our strategic partnership with Russia, but we are also drawn towards the European Union."

Munich residents held anti-NATO protests. "Do we want a war with Russia," they asked? People everywhere should question Washington's intentions. US policies risk global war.

The Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity (RPIPP) supports non-intervention. It said Washington and EU partners want Ukraine's government violently overthrown. 

It accused Kerry of "astounding hypocrisy on Ukraine." He "speaks out of both sides of his mouth." He tells opposition hooligans they have "full US support."

He warned against "outside powers" interfering in America's agenda. RPIPP urges "rein(ing) in Obama or suffer(ing) the consequences."

Kerry is his foreign policy front man. He addressed Munich attendees. He lied about increasing "threats of terrorism."

US-sponsored state terrorism threatens humanity. Kerry didn't explain. He lied about America's Middle East vision. Claiming it's for peace and security rings hollow.

He threatened Assad. "(S)top making excuses," he said. "(F)ulfill (your) promises and obligations. (M)eet the UN deadlines." 

He referred to eliminating Syria's chemical weapons. Assad's doing it responsibly. Conflict creates obstacles. Key is preventing US-backed death squads from seizing them.

He lied about a nonexistent Iranian nuclear weapons program. He claimed interim agreement terms "freeze and roll (it) back."

He pressured Iran to reach a "comprehensive (final) agreement." He wants US terms enforced. The alternative is "force," he suggested.

He lied about Washington "pursuing a long-sought and much needed peace between Israelis and Palestinians."

"Failure is not an option," he said. He demands Palestinians accept US/Israeli dictated terms.

His so-called framework agreement is entirely one-sided. It gives Israel virtually everything it wants. It demands unconditional Palestinian surrender.

It assures continued occupation harshness. It makes peace in our time impossible. It continues business as usual. It assures festering Palestinian anger. It risks a third Intifada.

Kerry lied saying: "Nowhere is the fight for a democratic European future more important today than in Ukraine." 

"...Ukrainians want to live freely in a safe and a prosperous country, and they are fighting for the right to associate with partners who will help them realize their aspirations." 

"And they have decided that that means their futures do not have to lie with one country alone, and certainly not coerced." 

"The United States and EU stand with the people of Ukraine in that fight."

It bears repeating. Washington planned street violence. Complicit EU partners are involved.

They recruited street thugs. They support ultranationalist extremists. They orchestrated ongoing violence. 

At stake is Ukrainian sovereignty. Washington wants neo-fascist governance replacing it. 

It wants control over Ukraine's future. It wants Ukrainians denied democratic choice. It wants Russia entirely shut out.

Hegemons operate this way. When other power-grabbing methods fail, war is the bottom line option.

US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel spoke. He followed Kerry. He complemented his comments. Both officials are two sides of the same coin.

Hagel stressed US/EU "defense investments" against non-existing "threats and challenges."

"The centerpiece of our transatlantic defense partnership will continue to be NATO," he said. He lied calling it "the greatest peace movement in history."

It's a killing machine. It's America's imperial tool. It's responsible for ravaging one country after another.

Its agenda is war, not peace. Washington largely controls NATO policy.

It began as a Cold War provocation. It did so against a non-existent Soviet threat.

It justifies its existence and expansion by manufacturing fake ones. It invents them. Wars of aggression follow.

Mass slaughter and destruction define them. So does unconscionable human suffering. Millions of corpses attest to NATO's ruthlessness.

It's a merciless anti-peace alliance. Its war on humanity threatens its survival. Not according to Hagel, saying:

"In Afghanistan, NATO-led forces are doing extraordinary work to help the Afghan people by strengthening the Afghan army and police so that they can assume responsibility for their nation’s security."

"(W)e should all be very proud of what our alliance has accomplished."

"(W)e must all invest more strategically to protect military capability and readiness."

As long as NATO exists, world peace is impossible. Wars without end will continue.

Millions more will die. Humanity may not survive many more "proud" NATO "accomplish(ments).

Hagel didn't explain. He claimed NATO must combat "violent extremism." Nothing is more extreme than war on humanity.

He said "humanitarian catastrophes" must be avoided. NATO bears full responsibility for horrific ones.

Ravaged and destroyed countries attest to NATO's ruthlessness. Nobel laureate Harold Pinter once called NATO's Yugoslavia aggression "barbaric" and despicable.

It was a "blatant and brutal assertion of US power using NATO as its missile (to consolidate) American domination of Europe."

Lawless aggression became humanitarian intervention. Washington claimed another imperial trophy. 

New targets followed. Waging war on humanity is official US policy. 

NATO is its imperial tool. "(O)ur (collective security) alliance with Europe remains the strongest the world has ever known," said Hagel.

Humanity can't tolerate many more "humanitarian intervention(s)." Its survival depends on ending them.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at [email protected] 

His new book is titled "Banker Occupation: Waging Financial War on Humanity."

http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanII.html

Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. 

Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

It airs Fridays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.


http://www.progressiveradionetwork.com/the-progressive-news-hour

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America's War on Humanity

by Stephen Lendman

On Christmas day it raged. Holidays are no exception. America's killing machine observes none. Mass slaughter and destruction continue. It's longstanding US policy.

Historian Gabriel called the 20th century "the bloodiest in all history." Civilians suffered most.

Wars ravage humanity. New millennium ones rage. America bears most responsibility. Its quest for global dominance takes millions of lives. US leaders consider it a small price to pay.

Calls for peace go unheeded. In his Sermon on the Mount, Christ said: "Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the sons of God."

In Syria, Christmas day violence restricted observances to prayers and masses. Martyrs who fought US-sponsored death squads were honored.

They died "for the safety of the homeland," said the Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA).

Mass was held at the Mariamate Cathedral of Damascus. Patriach Yahanna X Yazaji led it.

He prayed to God for peace in Syria. Patriarch Josef al-Absi led another mass at the Cathedral of Notre Dame of Dormition in Damascus.

He called for reconciliation, saying:

"(W)e are in need to be Syrians, as nationality is our nature and originality." He prayed to preserve Syria, protect its president, its army, and restore prosperity.

In occupied Jerusalem, Greek Orthodox Archbishop Sebastia Atallah Hanna said Christmas and New Year's celebrations would be subdued. They're limited to expressing solidarity with Syria.

He stressed close ties between Palestinians and Syrians, adding:

"(H)ow can I be happy during the holiday (season) when I see my brothers the bishops, my sisters the nuns abducted, and the Syrian people deprived of the joy of holidays?"

He expressed confidence in Syria's ability to overcome its ordeal. He thanked its leadership. 

He praised the solidarity of its people. He did so against hostile invaders. He recognized the courage of Syrian soldiers.

He called violence an "imported phenomenon." The vast majority of Syrians oppose it. He offered condolences for those who lost loved ones.

He said terrorist attacks on Syrians threaten all humanity. It's everyone's duty to defend Syria, he stressed.

He denounced the Adra massacre. He blamed Arab Gulf states and holier than thou so-called democracies. They boast about human rights, he said.

They're indifferent to mass slaughter, destruction and human misery. They support crimes of war and against humanity. They bear full responsibility for ravaging Syria.

On December 12, Pope Francis delivered his first Message for the World Day of Peace.

"I wish to offer to everyone, individuals and peoples, my best wishes for a life filled with joy and hope," he said.

"In many parts of the world, there seems to be no end to grave offenses against fundamental human rights..."

"Can the men and women of this world…ever manage…to overcome indifference, egoism and hatred, and…accept…legitimate differences..."

(F)raternity (is) the foundation (of a) pathway to peace."

"An authentic spirit of fraternity overcomes the individual selfishness which conflicts with people's ability to live in freedom and in harmony among themselves."

"(O)nly love...enables us to accept and fully experience fraternity."

May "service to persons…bring peace...on this beloved earth."

Remember 1914's Christmas truce. It was during WW I. German and Allied forces stopped fighting.

Fraternization stopped war. Soldiers on both sides left their trenches. They did so over half the front. They took time off from fighting.

They defied orders calling "such an attitude…dangerous…(It) destroys the offensive spirit..."

They shook hands. They buried their dead. They chatted with each other. They enjoyed calm. They played football.

Unofficial truces occurred other times throughout history. They did several times during WW I. Never on the scale of Christmas 1914.

It sent a message heard today. War is the enemy of peace. It's the scourge of humanity. It risks annihilating it altogether. Waging peace, not war, matters most.

Wars are immoral, dirty, unjust and illegal. Good ones don't exist. They never did. WW II was worst of all. More on that below.

On October 15, 1900, Mark Twain expressed outrage about America slaughtering Filipinos. Things then were like today. 

Imperial conquest isn't pretty. Mark Twain denounced it, saying:

"...I have seen that we do not intend to free, but to subjugate the people of the Philippines." 

We have gone there to conquer, not to redeem."

"And so I am an anti-imperialist. I am opposed to having the eagle put its talons on any other land."

"We have pacified some thousands of the islanders and buried them; destroyed their fields, burned their villages, turned their widows and orphans out-of-doors, (and) subjugated the remaining ten million by Benevolent Assimilation, which is the pious new name of the musket..."

He proposed a new American flag. He envisioned one "with the white stripes painted black and the stars replaced by the skull and cross-bones." 

He was appalled that General Jacob Smith ordered his troops to "kill and burn." 

"(T)his is no time to take prisoners," he said. (T)he more you kill and burn, the better." 

"Kill all above the age of ten. (T)urn (the Philippines into) a howling wilderness."

Crimes of war, against humanity and genocide remain official US policy.

In his book titled "The Good War: An Oral History of World War II," Studs Terkel explained its good and bad sides. He did so through people who experienced it.

The only thing good was that America was spared. It "was the only country among the combatants that was neither invaded nor bombed," said Terkel. "Ours were the only cities not blasted to rubble." 

The bad side was how it "warped our view of how we look at things today." We see them through the prism "of war."

"This twisted memory…encourages (people) to be willing, almost eager, to use military force" to solve problems. They exacerbate them more each time.

Wars are "lunatic" acts, said Terkel. They resolve nothing. They're horrific by any standard. They turn ordinary people into crazed killers. They destroy any hope for peace.

Howard Zinn denounced the myth of good wars. They prevent peace. They perpetuate violence. World War II was worst of all.

Modern warfare is indifferent about who dies from 30,000 feet. "You just press a button, you know, and somebody dies," said Zinn.

You don't see faceless victims. You don't hear children scream. You don't know about human flesh ripped to pieces. You think you're the good guys. Kill the bad ones.

"World War II is not that simple," said Zinn. "The good guys became the bad guys. War poisons everybody. It corrupts everybody."

Neither side reflects saintliness. Both sides are villains. All sides slaughtering civilians demand condemnation.

Did WW II stop fascism, asked Zinn? Did it stop racist persecution? Did it end militarism? Did it restore peace?

When it ended, Zinn got a letter from General George Marshall. It wasn't a "Dear Howie," he said. 

All US armed forces personnel got the same one. It was "something like this," said Zinn.

"We've won the war. Congratulations for your service. It will be a new world."

"It wasn't a new world," said Zinn. "War after war after war after war" followed. They rage today. The second war to end all wars perpetuated them.

Millions died for nothing. Fascism, despotism and militarism didn't end. Zinn said wars can't be tolerated "no matter what we're told."

So-called good wars don't exist. They're worst of all. Every one harms civilians most of all. Children suffer like adults. Wars institutionalize violence. It persists globally.

If enough soldiers refuse to fight, if enough people say no more, if mass outrage demands peace, only then can things change.

Post-WW II, America had no enemies except ones it invents. Gratuitous slaughter persists. Imperial adventurism works this way.

Planet earth is America's battleground. How many more millions must die? How much human misery is enough? When will swords be turned into plowshares?

How much longer will populations tolerate what demands mass uprisings to stop? When will America be challenged righteously?

When will one century of war after another end? Is peace in our time possible? Will humanity survive long enough to find out?

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at [email protected] 

His new book is titled "Banker Occupation: Waging Financial War on Humanity."

http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanII.html

Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. 

Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

It airs Fridays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.

http://www.progressiveradionetwork.com/the-progressive-news-hour


http://www.dailycensored.com/americas-war-humanity/

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NSA spies on world leaders, so why not? Even the Holy See isn't spy proof. It's not off limits. 

Pope Francis is monitored. Most likely Benedict XVI. Perhaps John Paul II through at least some of his papacy. NSA spies globally. No one's safe from its intrusive eye.

On October 30, the Italian publication Panorama headlined "Esclusiva Panorama: Datagate, anche il Papa è stato intercettato (Exclusive Panorama: Datagate, even the Pope was intercepted).

Reuters covered the story. On October 30, it headlined "Italian magazine says US spies listened to pope, Vatican says unaware." 

Internal Vatican communications are monitored. So are phone calls from the Domus Sanctae Marthae. It's Pope Francis' current home. It's where cardinals reside during papal conclaves.

NSA's interest was monitoring "leadership intentions," financial system threats, "foreign policy objectives," and "human rights." Vatican Bank president Ernst von Freyberg's calls were intercepted.

Francis was monitored when he was Buenos Aires archbishop. Doing so suggests all high-ranking prelates are watched globally. 

US embassies virtually everywhere are infested with spies. They operate covertly as diplomatic staff. Snowden-released documents revealed Rome has an elite spying unit. So do other major European capitals.

Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi said: "We are not aware of anything on this issue, and in any case we have no concerns about it."

Whether or not Vatican officials knew is one thing. For sure, no one wants to be spied on.

NSA head Keith Alexander repeatedly lies. Director of National Intelligence (DNI) James Clapper is an admitted perjurer. Take everything they both say with a grain of salt.

On October 30, NSA spokesperson Vanee Vines likely lied saying:

"The National Security Agency does not target the Vatican. Assertions that NSA has (done so), published by Italy's Panorama magazine, are not true."

Allegations followed the Cryptome digital library web site reporting NSA collecting 124.8 billion phone calls monthly. It said 46 million were intercepted in Italy from December 2012 through early January 2013 alone.

Panorama said the "National Security Agency wiretapped the pope…(T)he great American ear" never sleeps. Calls to and from the Vatican are monitored. Big Brother intercepts prelate conversations routinely. 

For sure following Pope Benedict's February 28 resignation through the papal conclave convened to elect his successor. Conversations of future Pope Francis were likely monitored.

The former Archbishop Jorge Mario Bergoglio was a person of interest since at least 2005. He was considered a potential future papal candidate.

Sistine chapel discussions relating to electing new popes are especially kept secret. A special system scrambles cell phone calls. Anyone caught breaking the sacred trust faces excommunication.

NSA reportedly intercepted communications relating to the 2012 Vatileaks scandal. It exposed high-level corruption. Documents were leaked to Italian journalists.

Paolo Gabriele became a person of interest. He was Benedict XVI's personal secretary. He leaked his confidential letters and memos.

They revealed papal finances, bribes, other corruption, and abuse of power. Gabriele was hung out to dry. He was arrested, tried and convicted. 

He got 18 months in prison. He was ordered to pay legal expenses. On December 22, 2012, Benedict pardoned him. 

Michael Parenti's "God and His Demons" makes compelling reading. He confronted the religious right, saying:

"The god of the Holy Bible - so much adored in the United States and elsewhere - is ferociously vindictive, neurotically jealous, intolerant, vainglorious, punitive, wrathful, sexist, racist, xenophobic, homophobic, sadistic and homicidal." 

"As they say, it's all in the Bible. Beware of those who act in the name of such a god." 

"Were we to encounter these vicious traits in an ordinary man, we would judge him to be in need of lifelong incarceration at a maximum-security facility." 

"At the very least, we would not prattle on about how he works his wonders in mysterious ways. In fact, 'biblical Jesus qualifies quite well as founder and forerunner of an intolerant Christianity."

"That 'old-time religion' is still very much with us and having a considerable impact on US political life."

Parenti was unforgiving. He challenged iconic religious figures. He exposed their dark sides. He included Mother Teresa, Pope John Paul II, and Tibetan Buddhism.

John Paul II "remained up to his ears in counter-revolutionary politics in Latin America and elsewhere," he said. 

He "directed no critical attacks against right-wing dictatorships." He called them "bulwarks against communist revolution."

He intervened on behalf of Chilean despot Augusto Pinochet. At the time, he was under house arrest in London.

Parenti's book was written before Archbishop Jorge Mario Bergoglio became Pope Francis. He was very much involved in Argentina's dirty war.

Prelates denouncing human rights abuses anywhere is considered taboo. Dirty war survivors accused Bergoglio of complicity with what demanded condemnation.

Vatican policy isn't pretty. Francis wasn't elected to change things. Washington wants policy everywhere kept in lockstep with US policy. 

NSA spying relates to discovering potential outliers. US policy makers can then act before harm is done.

Snowden documents revealed spying on millions of Italian citizens. It was thought perhaps popes and Vatican officials were off-limits. It bears repeating. NSA spies on world leaders.

Vatican city is a sovereign city-state. Popes have head of state status. They have diplomatic immunity like presidents and prime ministers. 

So do Vatican officials, papal nuncios, cardinals and other high-ranking Holy See Diplomatic Service prelates. They're more than religious figures. 

They're politically involved. They're well connected. What they say and think matters. They influence great numbers of parishioners.

Separately, Snowden documents revealed NSA secretly intercepted Google and Yahoo communication links connecting their global data centers. 

Doing so lets the agency keep track of hundreds of millions of user accounts. NSA's main tool is called MUSCULAR. It operates jointly with Britain's Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ).

From undisclosed interception points, both agencies copy fiber-optic cable flows. Doing so complements NSA's PRISM. 

It has front-door access to Google, Yahoo, Microsoft, Facebook, Apple, YouTube, and other major online companies.

NSA can search histories, emails, file transfers and live chats. They're gotten directly from US provider servers. Doing so facilitates mass surveillance. NSA now has front and back-door access. It takes full advantage.

An NSA statement lied, saying:

it "focus(es) on discovering and developing intelligence about valid foreign intelligence targets only."

It "applies Attorney General-approved processes to protect the privacy of U.S. persons - minimizing the likelihood of their information in our targeting, collection, processing, exploitation, retention, and dissemination."

NSA's mandate is "get it all." Everyone and everything are fair game. Congressional oversight is virtually nonexistent. Obama's in lockstep with NSA policy.

On December 4, 1981, Executive Order 12333, explained NSA/Central Security Service (CSS) responsibilities and purposes. 

It's to provide "(t)imely and accurate information about the activities, capabilities, plans, and intentions of foreign powers, organizations, and persons and their agents, is essential to the national security of the United States." 

"All reasonable and lawful means must be used to ensure that the United States will receive the best intelligence available." Head of operations is charged with:

  • "Collect(ing, including through clandestine means), process, analyze, produce, and disseminate signals intelligence information and data for foreign intelligence and counterintelligence purposes to support national and departmental missions;
  • Acting(ing) as the National Manager for National Security Systems as established in law and policy, and in this capacity be responsible to the Secretary of Defense and to the Director, National Intelligence; (and)

  • Prescrib(ing) security regulations covering operating practices, including the transmission, handling, and distribution of signals intelligence and communications security material within and among the elements under control of the Director of the National Security Agency, and exercise the necessary supervisory control to ensure compliance with the regulations."

On July 31, 2008, EO 12333 was amended to:

  • "Align (it) with the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004;

  • Implement additional recommendations of the 9/11 and WMD Commissions; (and)

  • Further integrate the Intelligence Community and clarify and strengthen the role of DNI as the head of the Community; Maintain or strengthen privacy and civil liberties protections."

By law, NSA’s mission is limited to monitoring, collecting and analyzing foreign communications. Its dual missions include: 

  • the Signals Intelligence Directorate (SID). It relates to foreign intelligence gathering, and 

  • the Information Assurance Directorate (IAD). It protects US information systems.

Rule of law principles are systematically spurned. It's more true now than ever. It's far worse than most people imagine. 

Anything goes reflects policy. NSA is a power unto itself. It does whatever it wants covertly. It does it globally. Obama continues what his predecessors began.

NSA's been around for decades. On June 1, 1952, Harry Truman authorized it. On November 4, 1952, it was established. Its earlier incarnation was a shadow of today's capabilities. Virtually nothing escapes its intrusive eye.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at [email protected] 

His new book is titled "Banker Occupation: Waging Financial War on Humanity."

http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanII.html

Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. 

Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

It airs Fridays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.

http://www.progressiveradionetwork.com/the-progressive-news-hour

http://www.dailycensored.com/nsa-spies-pope/

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DEA: Law and Science Unto Itself

In an empty, muted family court, with armed guards at its doors, D.C. Superior Court Judge J. William Ryan released a discovery order revealing that the DEA’s analysts are producing false marijuana test reports resulting in wrongful convictions[1].  By critiquing DEA chemist Heather Hartshorn’s reports and testimony through the prism of the 2009 National Academy of Sciences (NAS) report on forensic tests,[2] Ryan showed that her marijuana report mirrored the NAS’s example of a totally deficient  report. Their example read: “Results: The green-brown plant material in item 1 was identified as marijuana.”[3] Hartshorn’s report read: “Exhibit 1 contains a measurable amount of marijuana.”[4]

A number of state courts have “held that the [prosecution] should provide more than the bare test results and reports to the defendant in discovery under similar [expert notice] rules.”[5]  For instance, the Court of Appeals of North Carolina has ruled that a defendant charged with selling heroin was entitled to the state laboratory analyst’s “laboratory protocols, incidences of false positive test results, quality control and quality assurance, and proficiency tests.” [6]

The Supreme Court in Jackson v. Virginia has ruled that reports such as Hartshorn’s, based on non-specific, screening tests are not worth the paper they’re printed on because they do not provide proof beyond a reasonable doubt of the presence of marijuana in a seized substance.[7]  Hartshorn herself admitted she used non-specific, screening tests yet testified erroneously that they positively confirmed the presence of marijuana.[8]

Ryan also disclosed that Hartshorn’s report lacked adequate details and data to allow a review of her work by an independent defense analyst to see whether she used valid, reliable tests and applied them correctly.[9] This was a significant failing as the NAS report concluded that many forensic tests “are not based on a body of knowledge that recognizes the underlying limitations of the scientific principles and methodologies for problem solving and discovery (Hartshorn claimed there were no limitations) [and] are not informed by scientific knowledge, or are not developed within the culture of science.”

According to Dr. Vedoster Ingram, a 29-year-veteran of the DEA, this was typical of the DEA. “As reports are normally presented, an official report of analysis is introduced into the court records for litigation without significant explanation.”[10] Reviewable data for Hartshorn’s tests should have included microphotographs of the suspected marijuana sample, highlighting the relevant morphological characteristics; photographs of the Duquenois-Levine (D-L) color chemical test results, including side-by-side contemporaneous images of the suspected marijuana and actual marijuana standard for proper comparison; and photographs or photocopies of the Thin Layered Chromatography (TLC) plate with the measured values and observed colors recorded contemporaneously with the testing.

The NAS report said that such reports were unacceptable and should lead to dismissals of charges.[11] In fact, much of Hartshorn’s report was indecipherable with abbreviations known only to herself. She dismissed this concern by stating that: “It’s not our policy to keep [reviewable data]; it’s not needed.” [12]

Reviewability and reproducibility are at the heart of verification and the scientific method. Regarding the Supreme Court’s ruling in Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals, Inc., the Ninth Circuit Court declared that: “Something doesn’t become ‘scientific knowledge’ just because it’s uttered by a scientist nor can an expert’s self-serving assertions that his conclusions were ‘derived by the scientific method’ be deemed conclusive, else the Supreme Court’s opinion could have ended with footnote 2. As we read the Supreme Court’s teaching in Daubert, therefore, though we are largely untrained in science and certainly no match for any of the witnesses whose testimony we are reviewing, it is our responsibility to determine whether those experts’ proposed testimony amounts to ‘scientific knowledge,’ constitutes ‘good science,’ and was ‘derived by the scientific method.’[13]

Judge Kozinski’s Ninth Circuit opinion noted further that a gate keeping court must decide in part whether “ ‘… scientists have derived their findings through the scientific method or whether their testimony is based on scientifically valid principles….’ (Daubert, 43F. 3d at 1316). In its gate keeping role, the court should view reliability as follows: ‘this means that the expert’s bald assurance of validity is not enough. Rather, the party presenting the expert must show that the expert’s findings are based on sound science, and this will require some objective, independent validation of the expert’s methodology.’”[14] – i.e., review and reproduction of test findings.

The Court of Appeals of Maryland has ruled that: “Access to laboratory information generally is significant for another reason. The validity of testing procedures and principles is assessed in the scientific community by publishing the data in peer review journals …. [P]ublication of a laboratory’s work product and data used in [scientific] analysis, as well as independent replication and validation studies, are essential prerequisites to reliability.”[15] Replication and validation of Hartshorn’s findings were impossible since she presented no supporting data.

For independent reviewability, replication, and validation, lab reports should contain sufficient information to evaluate case notes and interpret the data as well as procedures, standards, blanks, observations, and  test results. Supporting documentation should include charts, graphs, and spectra generated during an analysis. [16]  Since Hartshorn provided none of these details, her reports could not be checked out and proved nothing, least of all that the suspected sample was marijuana.

The DEA founded and presently chairs Scientific Working Group on the Analysis of Seized Drugs (SWGDRUG) which provides minimum standards for  scientifically sound  lab and testing procedures. According to SWGDRUG:

Laboratories shall have documented policies establishing protocols for technical and administrative review.

Laboratories shall have and follow documented analytical procedures.

Laboratories shall have in place protocols for the sampling of evidence.

Laboratories shall monitor the analytical processes using appropriate controls and traceable standards.

Laboratories shall have and follow documented guidelines for the acceptance and interpretation of data.

Analytical procedures shall be validated in compliance with Section 11.

When analysts determine the identity of a drug in a sample, they shall ensure that the result relates to the right submission. This is best established by the use of at least two appropriate techniques based on different principles and two independent samplings.

Method validation is required to demonstrate that methods are suitable for their intended purpose. For qualitative analysis (identifying drugs), the parameters that need to be checked are selectivity, limit or detection and reproducibility.

Minimum acceptability criteria should be described along with the means for demonstrating compliance.

Validation documentation is required. Laboratories adopting methods validated elsewhere should verify their methods and establish their own limits of detection and reproducibility.

Documentation shall contain sufficient information to allow a peer to evaluate case notes and interpret the data.

Analytical documentation should include documentation including charts, graphs, and spectra generated during analysis.

Laboratories shall perform proficiency testing in order to verify the laboratory’s performance. [17]

Hartshorn was asked whether she followed DEA protocols or at least the guidelines of SWGDRUG.  “[T]hey aren’t laws, and so, as of right now, that is not our policy,”[18] she casually responded. In other words, the DEA does not follow its own regulatory body. Even worse, the “DEA does not have such guidance set forth in one particular document type or ‘protocol’ that would provide instruction on how one is to test cocaine or marijuana. . . There are no mandatory methods, and the forensic chemists are afforded considerable discretion in determining which testing methods and instruments to use.”[19] This according to Harshorn’s lab director, James Malone, who testified that the DEA has no protocol or standard methodology and does not validate its drug tests; calibrate its testing instrumentation right before testing; or run contemporaneous scientific controls to prevent and detect contamination.[20]

Judge: For marijuana in this case, for example, there is no calibration? 

James Malone: There is not. . .  So we’re not running a positive control on the Duquenois-Levine (marijuana test) on a daily basis.

Prosecutor: Now with regard to standard methodologies, DEA has a standard methodology on how to do examinations?

JM: No, we don’t.

P: So for qualitative analysis, the actual identification of a drug, you don’t have such (validation) studies, as you understood her (defense expert) to mean, correct?

JM: Correct. . . Identification – (validation) studies related to identification are not generally – there are no requirements for that. (SWGDRUG: “Method validation is required to demonstrate that methods are suitable for their intended purpose.”[21])

According to SWGDRUG Recommendations at Part IV.A.6.1.1 (“Laboratories shall have and follow documented analytical procedures”); id at Part IV.A.6.1.6 (“Analytical procedures shall be validated in compliance with Part IV B Validation”); id, at Part IV.B.IA (“All methods shall be validated or verified to demonstrate that they will perform in the normal operational environment when used by individuals expected to utilize the methods on casework”); id at Part IV.B.1.5 (“The entire validation/verification process shall be documented and the documentation shall be retained. Documentation shall include … personnel involved, dates, observations from the process, analytical data, a statement of conclusions and/or recommendations, authorization approval signature”).”

In short, the DEA is not engaged in scientific testing; a conviction machine. Voodoo science as someone commented. It also means that the DEA labs are, in fact, unaccredited because they received their accreditation on the basis that they follow strict protocols and SOPs, determine error rates and test limitations, validate its tests, and run positive and negative controls.

What really set off Ryan, however, was Hartshorn’s testimony that the DEA’s marijuana tests as well as her testing are infallible.  She claimed a zero percent (0%) error rate with the tests and her testing.[22] “Ridiculous on its face,”[23] said Ryan.  “Ms. Hartshorn makes a bold statement in her testimony in which she asserted that the three tests performed in these cases are infallible in their combined ability to conclusively identify marijuana,” wrote defense expert Heather Harris. “She was unable to offer any scientific studies to confirm this assertion, which is a scientific impossibility.”[24]  The NAS report concluded that “no forensic method has been rigorously shown to have the capacity to consistently, and with a high degree of certainty, demonstrate a connection between evidence and a specific individual or source.”[25]

Infallibility claims fly in the face of the fact that uncertainty enters testing in many ways, and each life stage of the evidence is susceptible to error. Contamination or misidentification can occur during the collection of the evidence. Analytical methods have practical and technical limitations. Reference standards and controls may fail quality control checks. Laboratory analysts who oversee the entire analytical process may make mistakes. Transcription errors can occur. In short, contrary to Hartshorn’s testimony, there is a panoply of errors that can occur. The three tests she used were: a microscopic examination, a presumptive color test named Duquenois-Levine (D-L), and Thin Layer Chromatography (TLC). None of these tests provide a specific identification to the exclusion of all other possible substances, and each of these tests has an associated degree of uncertainty or error rate.

With the microscopic exam, DEA analysts look for so-called cystolith hairs which occur on marijuana plants. But many other plant species unrelated to marijuana have cystolith hairs. Thus, a false positive (error) is possible with this examination.  Also according to the NAS report, the microscopic exam can only be done properly by a qualified botanist.[26] The DEA does not employ botanists.

George Nakamura, who is not a botanist, established use of the microscopic exam as a marijuana test. He examined 600 plants and found 80 with cystolith hairs. He then subjected the 80 “similar” plants to the D-L test, and only marijuana passed the entire test.[27]  However there was an elementary scientific flaw in Nakamura’s procedure for which reason his report should not have been published, let alone adopted as a protocol. His plant population sample was woefully inadequate since there are 200 –500, 000 plants he did not examine, and there are at least 24 species of plants with cystolith hairs. Nakamura himself admitted that there were some 30,000 plants which he did not examine.

Nakamura also claimed that the D-L was confirmatory of, and, specific to, marijuana, i. e. identified it to the exclusion of all other substances and did not render false positives. In fact, with the D-L test, false positives are expected based on the analytical mechanism of color tests. Color tests are screening tests that look at molecular groups rather than the specific molecule as a whole. Many unrelated molecules share common molecular groups, so any substance containing the target molecular group would give a positive response. In other words, the D-L test solely identifies the group of chemicals to which marijuana belongs. And there are other chemicals in that group which could give a positive D-L response, i.e., a false positive. Moreover, Nakamura himself reported that there were 25 substances that had been shown to cause false positives with the D-L test. So his claim was contrary to chemical facts and scientific demonstrations, and, again, should not have been published.

The D-L test is actually a combination of two individual tests. With the Duquenois test, a petroleum ether or chloroform extract of the plant extract is added to an ethanolic solution of vanillin and acetaldehyde, followed by addition of concentrated hydrochloric acid. Marijuana gives a deep blue-violet color. With the Levine modification, the blue-violet test mixture obtained in the Duquenois test is shaken with chloroform. With marijuana, the blue-violet color is transferred into the chloroform layer. However, at least 50 legal substances have been shown to give the same color reactions.

As early as 1938, the French pharmacist Pierre Duquenois, who developed the Duquenois test, found that it was not specific and gave false positives.[28] Yet, he reported that the test was specific.[29]  Although he claimed it was specific, he worked to modify the original test into the D-L test to eliminate false positives –  which as noted above was impossible given the nature of the D-L test. As he should have known in advance, the D-L test was no better and rendered false positives. Still, he reported that the D-L test was specific. Duquenois’s lie was repeated in 1972 by John Thornton and George Nakamura who falsely claimed that the D-L test was specific and in conjunction with a microscopic exam was a confirmatory, identification test.[30] Their study is still the protocol for marijuana identification in crime labs throughout the country even though it was false and rebutted by Fullerton and Kurzman and Whitehurst.

With regard to TLC, its ability to identify a substance, which in this case is not marijuana but rather its active ingredient THC, is limited by the number of distinguishable responses possible. TLC is a method of separation, not of identification. “It is prone to confusion because of the appearance of unrecognized peaks or spots on a chromatograph, particularly when an analyst is dealing with a wide variety of biological samples from a number of sources.”[31] The TLC test as generally performed for marijuana evidence has 100 distinct measurable values and 2 to 3 distinguishable colors. This allows for the distinct identification of at most 300 compounds without taking into account the possibility of compounds that will behave the same as the target molecule, THC.  In other words, a positive TLC test could indicate any one of some 300 compounds in addition to THC.

When these three tests are performed in sequence, the uncertainty of the final result is the sum of the uncertainties attributable to each test. In this case, where each of the tests can produce errors, the uncertainty can be great.  Moreover, a main concern with this sequence of testing is that the D-L and TLC tests produce results that are heavily dependent on the analyst’s subjective interpretation of the colors produced. What’s dark blue to one analyst, is purple to another. At a minimum, a standard reference material (a sample of known marijuana) should be tested along with the evidence sample as a comparison sample. The DEA does not do this. In addition, without the proper determination of the variability of positive results, the final identification is still simply the analyst’s subjective opinion.

Confirmation bias is also a concern with this sequence of testing. This is the tendency of an analyst to interpret analytical information in a way that confirms his/her preconceptions about an item of evidence as well as the results of the previous test. In a sequence of testing that relies entirely upon an analyst’s interpretation of test results, this is a likely source of error.

Hartshorn admitted that separately each of the tests is a screening test that renders false positives, i.e. errors. But miraculously when they are conducted in concert, they are error-free as is the analyst. In direct contradiction of Hartshorn’s claims of infallibility was a study done at her own lab which found false positives and a very high 20% error rate.[32] And every independent scientific study has found an error rate and false positives with these tests. For instance, a comprehensive series of studies in 1974 involving no fewer than 14 scientists and two attorneys concluded, in part, as follows.[33]

The probability of error in using screening tests for forensic identification is particularly great with marijuana because:

1. Screening tests are not specific;

2. Many common plants are confused with marijuana by “users” and law officers alike;

3. Inexpertly collected plant samples are not necessarily homogenous, i. e., only a single plant; and

4. The flowering plants include some 200,000 – 500,000 species besides marijuana.

As many as 20% (An Army study found 30%.) of the samples presumed to be marijuana and submitted to forensic laboratories have been found in recent years not to be Cannabis. “If BNDD (Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs, predecessor to DEA) files are any indication, many. . . marijuana users are getting ‘high’ on parsely, alfalfa, or some other weed.” Common plants which have been confused with marijuana include tobacco, catnip, parsley, oregano, tea and other substances – sometimes laced with various chemicals.

Inexpertly collected plant samples commonly contain some extraneous plant materials – a weed grabbed by mistake, a plant which looked like the others, etc. The forensic analyst then needs to be concerned with one plant passing one screening test, and a contaminant passing another. (Furthermore, it’s not possible to determine if ground-up plant samples are from the same species. To avoid a misidentification, the analyst should assume the sample is adulterated or contaminated.) Because of this factor, and the common presence of added chemicals, the specificity of marijuana screening tests, even when used in combination, is no greater than the specificity of the most specific single test.

Because Hartshorne’s testimony raised serious concerns about her qualifications and “integrity” as well as a “flaw” in her testing, Ryan ordered that the prosecution produce all information verifying that the three tests in combination were infallible.[34] What Ryan apparently did not realize was that Hartshorn was repeating unsupported infallibility claims made by DEA lab directors since at least 1999. For instance, on April 9, 1999, Joseph P. Bono, director of the DEA’s Mid-Atlantic Laboratory submitted a sworn affidavit to the courts that all DEA analyses and tests are “incapable of producing a false positive. . . In other words, even if the test results are inaccurate, the results will not indicate the presence of a controlled substance when none is present in the unknown sample. Even if the instruments used in the testing are not properly calibrated, if no controlled substance is present in the exhibit, then no controlled substance will be identified . . . even when an instrument is not functioning properly, it will not identify cocaine, or any other controlled substance, as being present in a sample, unless that controlled substance is actually present.”[35]

Bono’s successor at this lab, Richard Fox, was more specific in his sworn affidavit which stated, in part, that:

“There is no other plant material that will give a positive result for all three tests. . . Neither the analyst in this case, nor any other DEA analyst, has ever misidentified marijuana. . . As such, the uncertainty measurement associated with the conclusions reached by the analyst resulting in the identification of marijuana is zero.[36]

Fox’s successor, James Malone, who is also Hartshorn’s supervisor who has signed off on her reports, has testified, in part, as follows in another marijuana case in D.C.

Prosecutor: To your knowledge, while you’ve been at the lab, has the laboratory ever misidentified a controlled substance?

James Malone: No.

P: And when you say – what are you basing that on?

JM: On my knowledge of the operations of the laboratory. We have not misidentified anything.

P: Are you aware of anything which shows that a mis-calibrated system or chromatographer in this case, but any system that was not calibrated correctly would create a false positive for cocaine or a controlled substance?

JM: No

P: Have you ever seen it in the lab? 

JM: Have I ever seen what?

P: A false positive from a mis-calibrated system.

JM: No.

Judge: But Mr. Chawla’s position was, can it ever – can a mis-calibrated machine ever give a false positive?

JM:  No. A mis-calibrated machine isn’t going to give you a positive cocaine if there’s not cocaine.

Judge: Why not?

JM: It just wouldn’t. . .

P: More specifically, if the reagent isn’t working, is it going to show that the substance isn’t marijuana? In other words, if the reagent isn’t working, what’s the result of the Duquenois-Levine going to be?

JM: It’s going to be negative.

P: Would I get a positive out of a Duquenois-Levine test? If I used a reagent that wasn’t working anymore and tried to run a Duquenois-Levine with that reagent, what would happen?

JM: You wouldn’t get a false positive, no.

P: With regard to identification techniques, is there any – do you have any reason to believe that a mis-calibrated or non-calibrated device would result in a false positive?

JM: No, I don’t.[37]

Malone’s testimony makes clear that he is basing his infallibility claim on ipse dixit evidence as were Bono and Fox who have never presented data to support their unheard of assertions.

Decades before their infallibility claims, several high courts including the U.S. Supreme Court found that the tests did not prove the presence of marijuana beyond a reasonable doubt. The Supreme Court of Wisconsin ruled in 1973 that: “An expert opinion that the substance is probably marijuana (based on a microscopic examination, D-L test and TLC) is not sufficient to meet the burden of proving the identity of the substance beyond a reasonable doubt. . . If this were a possession case, the tests would be insufficient. . . It is quite true that the tests used by Mr. Michael Rehburg, a chemist and witness for the prosecution, were not specific for marijuana. . . . He admitted, . . .  these tests were not specific for marijuana.”[38]

In 1979, a trial judge in North Carolina found that the D-L test was “not specific for marijuana” and had “no scientific acceptance as a reliable and accurate means of identifying the controlled substance marijuana.”[39] This finding was upheld by the North Carolina Court of Appeals as well as the North Carolina Supreme Court which found that: “The determination that the test used was not scientifically acceptable because it was not specific for marijuana was amply supported by the facts. . . The trial court’s ruling that the results of the tests conducted on green vegetable matter by using the Duquenois-Levine color test in the Sirchie drug kit were inadmissible in evidence was supported by the court’s findings that the test is not scientifically accepted, reliable or accurate and that the test is not specific for marijuana because it reportedly also gives a positive reaction for some brands of coffee and aspirin. . . . The conclusion to exclude the test results is amply supported by these findings of fact . . . and the test results were properly suppressed . . .”[40]

Also in 1979, the U.S. Supreme Court in Jackson v Virginia ruled that nonspecific tests could not be the basis for advancing a prosecution or a conviction because they do not provide proof beyond a reasonable doubt.[41]

Ultimately, Judge Ryan concluded that “such claims of infallibility belie one of the most basic tenets of science: that some degree of error is inherent in every scientific test, process, or analysis. . .While explaining that each of these tests used alone is presumptive, as distinct from confirmatory, Ms. Hartshorn nonetheless maintained their infallibility when used in concert. With the designation that these tests are merely presumptive, the DEA chemist acknowledged that there is some degree of inherent error calculable with respect to each of these tests when they are performed in isolation. That there is some distinct and additional degree of error calculable with respect to this analyst’s performance of each test is also without question.”[42]

It is clear from Judge Ryan’s remarks that he would have denied admission of the test results as evidence as well as Hartshorn’s testimony at trial, and this would have resulted in a withdrawal of the charges. He did not do so because defense counsel did not request it. Since Kurzman’s study and others occurred before this case as well as applicable court decisions such as Jackson, Daubert and Kumho Tire, defense counsel should have requested an evidentiary hearing for challenging the tests and sufficiency of evidence. Their failure to do so amounted to ineffective counsel.

This is exactly what U.S. District Court Judge Nancy Gertner concluded in a similar case wherein the defense counsel did not request an evidentiary hearing to challenge the forensic evidence. This is seen if one simply substitutes “marijuana” in her following remarks. “Under the ‘prevailing professional norms,’ reasonably competent counsel should have moved for a Daubert/Kumho Tire hearing before trial on all the expert testimony — a) on the [marijuana] laboratory analysis based on the investigator’s failure to use a comparison or control sample and not test beyond the generic finding of [“Exhibit 1 contains a measurable amount of marijuana”]; b) on the [marijuana] evidence, highlighting problems with proficiency testing and emphasizing the limited scope of the testimony; and, c) on the expert cause-and-origin testimony, when the expert’s proposed testimony was scientifically flawed. If counsel had requested such a hearing, there is more than a ‘reasonable probability’ that it would have been granted, that the laboratory analysis and the [marijuana] evidence would have been excluded, or severely limited, at the very least. . . .  As the Court held in Daubert, some testimony may be so problematic that the usual trial techniques are just not enough to prevent a jury from giving it far more credence than it deserves. See Daubert, 509 U.S. at 596-97. The testimony should not reach the jury at all. (This was absolutely true with Judge Ryan’s case.) Here, the scientific literature cast doubt on the significance of the [marijuana tests] and even raised concerns about . . . “proficiency” testing, concerns counsel never raised. . . just what the law and literature caution against”[43]

It is instructive to compare the two cases in detail because like Judge Ryan, Judge Gertner also critiqued the government’s evidence and experts through the prism of the NAS report. Gertner pointed out that it was significant that by 2006, a number of articles in legal journals and cases had cast a critical eye on the scientific reliability of arson evidence, methodologies, and techniques. Because of this, competent counsel should have been aware that defendants had been convicted and sentenced on the basis of flawed arson evidence and taken appropriate steps to litigate the issues using all the tools available including challenging the tests and requesting an evidentiary hearing.

The same was even more true of marijuana evidence by the time of Judge Ryan’s case.  The marijuana tests had been scientifically established as unreliable and inaccurate, and previous court decisions had excluded admission of the marijuana test results as evidence.

Gertner found that there was ineffective counsel because the defense attorneys did not move for a Daubert hearing prior to trial on any expert issue. They did not seek exclusion of any of the proposed expert testimony or move for its limitation. They did not argue that the expert testimony failed to meet the minimal threshold for reliability of scientific evidence and should not have been admitted at all. They did not alert the Court to the ways in which the government’s investigation undermined their very ability to present a defense.

The same was true with the case of Judge Ryan who called Hartshorn’s testimony “[R]idiculous on its face” and lacking in “integrity.”

In addition, Gertner argued that it was crucial to try to exclude expert testimony before trial because “a certain patina attaches to an expert’s testimony unlike any other witness; this is ‘science,’ a professional’s judgment, the jury may think, and give more credence to the testimony than it may deserve. United States v. Hines, 55 F. Supp. 2d 62, 64 (D. Mass. 1999); see also Michigan Millers Mut. Ins. Corp. v. Benfield, 140 F.3d 915, 920 (11th Cir. 1998) (‘The use of ‘science’ to explain how something occurred has the potential to carry great weight with a jury, explaining both why counsel might seek to couch an expert witness’s testimony in terms of science, as well as why the trial judge plays an important role as the gate-keeper in monitoring the evidentiary reliability of such testimony.’).”[44]

This again was even more true with Judge Ryan’s case because DEA chemists were poised to testify that the marijuana tests as well as their testing were infallible, and that no DEA analyst had ever misidentified marijuana. In fact, defense counsel in Judge Ryan’s case had been involved in previous marijuana case wherein DEA analysts had claimed infallibility under oath. All the more reason why they should have sought to exclude the evidence.

For its part, the DEA was ethically and scientifically bound to suspend Hartshorn and Malone and investigate all their previous marijuana cases. In fact, Hartshorn and Malone were subsequently both witnesses in another discovery hearing in the same court room opposed by the same defense counsel who again had not requested an evidentiary hearing to challenge the same marijuana tests. This hearing was presided over by Judge Florence Y. Pan who had read Judge Ryan’s order.[45] Heather Harris, who was highly praised by Judge Ryan, was the defense expert in this hearing as well. With no justification, Pan found Hartshorn and Malone to be credible as opposed to Harris even though Malone claimed infallibility without any proof. “On my knowledge of the operations of the laboratory,” he said, “We have not misidentified anything.” He also said that “a mis-calibrated instrument would never cause a false positive result.” Asked why by Pan, he replied:  “It just wouldn’t.”[46]

As we saw, Malone further testified that the DEA has no protocols or standard operating procedures and does not validate its tests or run sufficient numbers of controls.[47]  He threw in that the Analysis of Drugs Manual and the Analytical Sufficiency Document  are “the closest thing the DEA has to standard operating procedures for the chemists.”[48] Again, no problem for Pan even though Malone said these documents were “DEA proprietary,”[49] and SWGDRUG and scientific practice require protocols, test validations, and controls. Malone claimed there were published studies validating the tests, but this is not true.

Harris disagreed with Malone on all accounts.  No problem for Pan who decreed that: “To the extent the testimony of the witnesses conflicts, however, the Court credits the testimony of Mr. Malone. . . the Court found the testimony of Mr. Malone to be extremely credible and persuasive [and was] impressed by Mr. Malone’s candor, expertise, and professional demeanor. . . His testimony was very clear and logical, and the Court found him to be forthright.”[50] Pan did not mention the lack of scientific data or explanations for Malone’s testimony or that it showed the DEA was at odds with SWGDRUG requirements and scientific practice.

In short, there were more than enough scientific studies and favorable case law before Judge Pan’s case, not to mention Judge Ryan’s order, to justify requesting an evidentiary hearing in an attempt to deny admission of the test results as evidence. Defense counsel also had a highly qualified expert to confirm that the tests results did not provide proof beyond a reasonable doubt, and that the DEA’s proffered evidence and testimony were false.

As Judge Gertner observed: “If the lawyers do not tee up the issue, the evidence will be introduced without objection.”[51] This is exactly what happens in nearly all marijuana cases. Defense attorneys do not challenge the tests or the sufficiency of the evidence. In 2010, 853, 839 people were arrested on marijuana charges, and you can count on one hand the number of defense attorneys who challenged the tests or even the subjective opinions of arresting police officers.

This failure on the part of defense attorneys is particularly irresponsible because claims of infallibility can be to the advantage of a defendant as they undermine the admissibility of marijuana test results and the credibility of a prosecutor’s expert witnesses. Before a trial, a defense attorney can request an evidentiary hearing wherein he or she can examine the qualifications of the prosecution’s forensic analysts, the laboratory, and the nature and manner of the testing procedures used in identifying the drug the defendant was charged with possessing or selling. If this examination reveals deficiencies or inadequacies, the attorney can challenge the sufficiency of the prosecution’s evidence and seek a dismissal.  Dr. Bruce Stein et al have reported that: “Based on our survey, such a challenge would be warranted in many cases.”[52]

The possibilities of these challenges was seen in a recent case in Michigan in 2010.   Defense attorney Michael Nichols obtained a pre-trial evidentiary hearing and cross examined Michigan State Police lab analyst Jerome Waldron who testified that in more than 6,000 cases, he had never encountered a false positive, and that the marijuana tests had an error rate of zero. Nichols then entered a motion to exclude Waldron’s testimony from trial as well as use of the test results as evidence, citing scientific articles, prior court decisions, and Waldron’s lack of credibility. Even before the judge rendered his decision, the prosecutor withdrew the charges.[53]

If lab conditions or procedures do not conform to scientific guidelines and principles or court rulings such as Daubert, the defense attorney can motion to exclude the test results as well as testimony from the analyst at trial. Below is a list of such requests which have led to pre-trial dismissals of marijuana charges because they revealed deficiencies in the lab.

1. Evidence collection forms or logs (description of evidence, packaging, identification of specimens, identification of individuals collecting samples, sample collection procedures.

2. Chain-of-custody records (field-to-lab transfers, and all transfers of evidence and associated analytical samples within the laboratory).

3. Laboratory receiving records (records documenting the date, time and condition of receipt of the evidence in question; laboratory-assigned identifiers; storage location).

4. Laboratory procedures for subsampling (collection of analytical aliquots) and contamination control.

5. Copies of technical procedures in effect at the time the subject testing was performed (often termed Standard Operating Procedures, or SOP’s) for each procedure used during sample screening and confirmation, including; sample preparation, sample analysis, data reporting, and instrument operation.

6. Copies of the two bracketing controlled substance proficiency results for each analyst and technician responsible for preparation or analysis of subject specimens, including raw data and reported results, target values and acceptance ranges, performance scores, and all related correspondence.

7. Copies of traceability documentation for standards and reference materials used during analysis, including unique identifications, origins, dates of preparation and use, composition and concentration of prepared materials, certifications or traceability records from suppliers, assigned shelf lives and storage conditions.

8. Sample preparation records, including dates and conditions of preparation, responsible analyst, procedural reference, purity, concentration and origins of solvents, reagents, and control materials prepared and used, samples processed concurrently, extract volume.

9. Copies of bench notes, log books, and any other records pertaining to case samples or instruments; records documenting observations, notations, or measurements regarding case testing.

10. Instrument run log with identification of all standards, reference materials, sample blanks, rinses, and controls analyzed during the day/shift with subject samples (as appropriate: run sequence, origins, times of analysis and aborted run sequences).

11. Record of instrument operating conditions and criteria for variables, including as appropriate: Gas chromatograph column, instrument file identification, tuning criteria, instrument performance check (e.g., ion abundance criteria), initial calibration, continuing calibration checks, calibration verification.

12. Record of instrument maintenance status and activities for instruments used in subject testing, documenting routine and as-needed maintenance activities in the weeks surrounding subject testing.

13. Raw data for the complete measurement sequence (opening and closing quality control included) that includes the subject samples.  For GC-MS analysis, this would include: areas and retention times, injection volumes, dilution factors, chromatograms and mass spectra.  As prepared and as determined values for all quality control samples.

14. A description of the library used for spectral matches for the purpose of qualitative identification of controlled substances, including source(s) and number of reference spectra.

15. Copy of records documenting computation of illicit drug laboratory’s theoretical production yield, including the basis for the computation, and the algorithm used, as appropriate.

16. Procedure(s) for operation and calibration checks of analytical balances used to weigh controlled substances

17. Results of calibration checks and documentation of mass traceability for gravimetric determinations.

18. Results of contamination control surveys for trace level analytes relevant to test methods at the time of analysis, including sampling design and analytical procedures.

19. Records and results of internal reviews of subject data.

20.  Method validation records documenting the laboratory’s performance characteristics for qualitative identification and quantitative determinations of the controlled substance, to include data documenting specificity, accuracy, precision, linearity, and method detection limits.

21. Copy of the laboratory’s Quality Manual in effect at the time the subject samples were tested as well as the laboratory’s most recent Quality Manual (however named; the document that describes the laboratory’s quality objects and policies).

22. Copy of the laboratory’s ASCLD-LAB application for accreditation, and most recent Annual Accreditation Review Report, as appropriate.

23. Statement of qualifications of each analyst and/or technician responsible for processing case samples to include all names, locations and jurisdictions of cases in which these personnel testified concerning the same substances found in the present case.

24. Copy of the laboratory’s ASCLD-LAB on-site inspection report, as appropriate, as well as any reports of on-site inspections by any other testing laboratory audit organization.

25.  Copy of internal audit reports generated during the period subject samples were tested..

26.  List of capital instrumentation in the laboratory at the time subject testing was performed, including manufacturer, model number, and major accessories.

27. Production throughput data for the drug testing section: numbers of tests performed per month or per year, and the number of Full Time Equivalent personnel in the drug testing section of the laboratory.[54]

Marijuana field tests also have specific requirements that are seldom observed by the police. For instance, the field tests used by police officers have expiration dates because the chemicals and reagents in the tubes deteriorate over time and as a result of heat or cold. Before going to a hearing or trial, a defense attorney can find out exactly what brand of field test kit was used with his/her client. This can be done through a public records request and sometimes by simply asking the prosecutor. The defense attorney can then purchase the exact same kit online. In court, the defense attorney can show the judge that the test has an expiration date after which the test would be inaccurate. If the police officer did not check the expiration date before using the test, then the test results should be assumed to be invalid. Under the law, any tests or equipment that are not in good working order produce results that are inadmissible as evidence. If the police officer cannot attest to the expiration date or whether the test was used after its expiration date, the drug charges should be dismissed. Some search warrants are based on positive kit results and may be ruled invalid if the police officer did not know the expiration date of the kit. This should also result in a dismissal of charges.

Even if the field test has not expired, the test does not prove the presence of marijuana in a seized substance because it is a presumptive or screening test only. Information accompanying the kits indicate this fact. For instance, the carton containing one commonly used NIK field test states that it is: “A specially formulated reagent system for the presumptive identification of Marijuana.”  In other words, the company itself is saying that the test does not prove the presence of marijuana. It is further stated that: “The results of a single test may or may not yield a valid result. . . There is no existing chemical reagent test, adaptable to field use that will continually eliminate the occurrence of an occasional invalid test results [sic]. A complete forensic laboratory would be required to qualitatively identify an unknown suspect substance.”[55]  A defense attorney can show this to a judge or jury and explain what it means. Therefore, if the only evidence is positive results from a field test, the charges should be dismissed or the defendant acquitted.

Recently, defense attorneys in Colorado did challenge the DEA’s test results and blocked their admission as evidence including results from Gas Chromatography/Mass Spectrometry (GC/MS) analysis, the gold standard of drug testing. U.S. District Court Judge Marcia S. Krieger of Colorado ruled on April 21, 2011 that based on DEA information and the testimony of DEA chemist Anthea Chan, the prosecution failed to show the existence of reliable, accurate testing being reliably applied that proved the presence of amphetamines. She therefore denied admission of the test results as evidence at trial.[56]

The hearing, known as a Rule 702 (of the Federal Rules of Evidence) Hearing, provided a rare glimpse into the inner workings of a DEA lab. It was meant to determine whether their testing conformed to Rule 702 requirements for scientifically sound testing. Rule 702 requirements are all but identical to Daubert requirements. Krieger’s first task was to determine whether Chan had correctly tested according to DEA protocols and SOPs. Chan testified that she followed no protocols or SOPs and, in fact, was not aware of any protocols or SOPs.[57] These facts alone, said Krieger, were enough to deny admission of the test results as evidence because it was impossible to determine whether Chan reliably applied reliable tests.

Krieger did, not, however, rule at this point because she wanted her ruling to encompass  defense expert Janine Arvizu’s findings. Arvizu attempted to reconstruct the practices, protocols, and results relevant to Chan’s qualitative and quantitative test conclusions and whether they adhered to quality requirements and universally accepted standards designed to ensure the quality and reliability of tests, specifically, what’s known as ISO 17025 standards. However, as was the case in Washington, only a very limited amount of laboratory discoverable material was made available making it impossible to determine or evaluate the laboratory’s technical requirements or quality controls during the subject testing.

“That’s exactly the position the Court finds itself in,” noted Judge Krieger, “because it does not have evidence as to the protocol that was used, the reliability of the protocol compared to other labs, or whether Ms. Chan complied with the protocol in a reliable fashion.”[58]

Arvizu was, however, able to determine that Chan’s testing in particular was unreliable and inaccurate. Chan first used the Marquis chemical color test as a screening test, and the suspected substance turned orange/brown suggesting it was amphetamines.  But the test was unreliable and meaningless because she did not use a color chart with which to compare her results. As she herself testified: “I believe it’s the same as you saying something is blue and me saying it’s light blue. It’s subjective.”[59] Subjective tests are unreliable by definition.

Her next test was a GC/MS analysis.  Chan first ran a “blank” or negative control to check for contamination. The test consisted of putting the suspected amphetamines into a solution and then placing this solution onto the machine. But she first put the solution alone onto the machine, to see whether it would register positive. It did, meaning the machine was contaminated.[60] As Arvizu testified: “When quality control samples fail, the run should be terminated and the failure should be investigated and corrective action taken before unknown sample are tested.”[61] Inexplicably, Chan continued the testing with the contaminated machine.

Actually, even before beginning her test, Chan should have also run a positive control by placing a known quantity of amphetamines, known as a standard, on the machine to calibrate it and see whether it was working properly. DEA analysts are required under ASCLD/LAB and ISO 17025 guidelines to run standards immediately before testing. Chan said she was not familiar with these guidelines and was not required to do so. Chan’s superior Shana Irby, who approved her testing, also testified that it is not required to run contemporaneous standards, and that it suffices if the machine has been checked ten months prior.[62] She claimed to have never seen any protocol requiring the running of contemporaneous standards, and that “as soon as I walk up to an instrument, I know – I generally know if it’s working or not.”[63] She also claimed it was not necessary to check beforehand whether the standard had disintegrated because “[M]ethamphetamine to my knowledge does not degrade.”[64] This is false, and these standards come with an expiration date beyond which they are not useable.

DEA labs are accredited by the American Society of Crime Laboratory Directors/ Laboratory Accreditation Board ((ASCLD/LAB) under the international criteria detailed in ISO/IEC 17025:2005 and the 2006 ASCLD/LAB International Supplemental Requirements. Accreditation certifies that the management and technical operations of the laboratory comply with the program requirements, including any corrective action that was required during any of audits. (Details regarding the accreditation program may be obtained from www.ascld-lab.org.) In other words, DEA labs are accredited on the basis that they ascribe to ISO/IEC 17025 and ASCLD/LAB International Supplemental Requirements. Arvizu said the DEA adheres to neither, and is, therefore, de facto, unaccredited.

Guardian faces parliamentary investigation over Snowden revelations

 

By Chris Marsden
18 October 2013

Britain’s Guardian newspaper is facing an investigation by at least one parliamentary committee, in line with demands made by Prime Minister David Cameron, concerning the exposures of Edward Snowden, the whistleblower from America’s National Security Agency (NSA).

Accompanied with calls for criminal prosecutions and assertions of the newspaper’s having compromised national security, the move is a major escalation in the witch-hunt and clampdown launched in response to Snowden’s revelations of mass surveillance programmes operated by the NSA and Britain’s Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ).

On Wednesday, Cameron told parliament, “I think the plain fact is that what has happened has damaged national security, and in many ways the Guardian themselves admitted that when they agreed, when asked politely by my national security adviser and Cabinet Secretary [Sir Jeremy Heywood] to destroy the files they had, they went ahead and destroyed those files.

“So they know that what they are dealing with is dangerous for national security.”

The prime minister supported calls for a full parliamentary inquiry to determine whether the Guardian broke the law by printing Snowden’s revelations.

Cameron’s claim is as barefaced a lie as it is a reactionary move.

In June, according to Guardian editor-in-chief Alan Rusbridger, he and other Guardian journalists were threatened with legal action and forced to destroy hard drives containing material from Snowden when “a very senior government official claiming to represent the views of the prime minister” made “an implicit threat that others within government and Whitehall favoured a far more draconian approach.”

According to Rusbridger, “two GCHQ security experts” oversaw the destruction. Now, Cameron cites the newspaper’s response to the government’s threats as proof of its guilt!

A spokesman for Guardian News and Media issued a statement declaring, “The prime minister is wrong to say the Guardian destroyed computer files because we agreed our reporting was damaging. We destroyed the computers because the government said it would use the full force of the law to prevent a newspaper from publishing anything about the NSA or GCHQ.”

Cameron made his statement in response to a question from former defence secretary Dr, Liam Fox, who asked for a “full and transparent assessment about whether the Guardian s involvement in the Snowden affair has damaged Britain’s national security.” Making clear he was seeking criminal charges, Fox said it was “bizarre” that that people alleged to have taken part in newspaper phone hacking have been prosecuted, while people who leave security personnel “more vulnerable” have not.

Tory backbencher Julian Smith has been granted a parliamentary debate in Westminster Hall next Tuesday over the publishing of the top-secret documents. He earlier wrote to the Metropolitan Police calling for the Guardian to be prosecuted under the Official Secrets Act and the Terrorism Act 2000. He said he would use the debate to “lay out the reasons why I believe that the Guardian has crossed the line between responsible journalism and seriously risking our national security and the lives of those who seek to protect us.”

The Liberal Democrat leader and deputy prime minister Nick Clegg has already aligned himself with the moves against the Guardian, declaring that Snowden’s leaks have “gifted” terrorists with the ability to attack Britain. The calls for repression are being made in conjunction with the Security services. New head of MI5 Andrew Parker described leaks about the Prism and Tempora programmes as handing “the advantage to the terrorists. It is the gift they need to evade us and strike at will.”

The most significant support for state persecution of journalists, newspapers and whistleblowers such as Snowden again comes from the nominal “parliamentary opposition”, the Labour Party.

Following the debate in parliament, Fox wrote to the chairmen of five Commons select committees urging them to carry out an investigation into the Guardian ’s “reckless and potentially dangerous conduct.”

“A free press does not mean the freedom to make the UK, its people or its allies more vulnerable to serious organised crime or terrorism. I am writing to formally request, as both a Member of Parliament and a former Security of State for Defence, that your committee considers the elements of the Guardian s involvement in, and publication of, the Snowden leaks.”

The first response came from Labour’s Keith Vaz, chairman of the Home Affairs Committee.

Within hours, Vaz said he would look into “elements of the Guardian s involvement in, and publication of, the Snowden leaks.”

“I will be writing to assure Dr. Fox that the committee is currently conducting an inquiry into counter-terrorism and we will be looking at this matter as part of it.”

The other committee heads petitioned by Fox are Sir Malcolm Rifkind of the Intelligence and Security Committee (ISC), John Arbuthnot of the Defence Committee, Richard Ottaway at Foreign Affairs and Sir Alan Beith of the Liaison Select Committee.

The ISC is presently making a pose of investigating the extent of mass surveillance carried out by the GCHQ and NSA in an inquiry launched yesterday. It has been heavily criticised for its cosy relationship with the security services, forcing Rifkind to issue platitudes such as the need to strike a “balance” between “our individual right to privacy and our collective right to security.”

The committee is now supposed to determine whether the intelligence laws are “fit for purpose”.

The move by the Home Affairs Committee to investigate the Guardian for possible criminal action cuts through such a pose of impartiality.

The entire machinery of parliament and its parties are being lined up in defence of the secret state apparatus, beginning with a clampdown on press freedom. Its implications for democratic rights are chilling. The Guardian is being targeted for revealing criminal actions by the secret services targeting every man, woman, and child in the UK and internationally for unwarranted state surveillance. This is done without legal justification or even official sanction by parliament. This demonstrates that the United Kingdom has gone far down the road to a de facto police state. It testifies to the extraordinary political and moral decay of a ruling elite poisoned by wealth, which lives in mortal fear of the millions below them being plunged ever deeper into hardship and poverty.

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Guardian faces parliamentary investigation over Snowden revelations

 

By Chris Marsden
18 October 2013

Britain’s Guardian newspaper is facing an investigation by at least one parliamentary committee, in line with demands made by Prime Minister David Cameron, concerning the exposures of Edward Snowden, the whistleblower from America’s National Security Agency (NSA).

Accompanied with calls for criminal prosecutions and assertions of the newspaper’s having compromised national security, the move is a major escalation in the witch-hunt and clampdown launched in response to Snowden’s revelations of mass surveillance programmes operated by the NSA and Britain’s Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ).

On Wednesday, Cameron told parliament, “I think the plain fact is that what has happened has damaged national security, and in many ways the Guardian themselves admitted that when they agreed, when asked politely by my national security adviser and Cabinet Secretary [Sir Jeremy Heywood] to destroy the files they had, they went ahead and destroyed those files.

“So they know that what they are dealing with is dangerous for national security.”

The prime minister supported calls for a full parliamentary inquiry to determine whether the Guardian broke the law by printing Snowden’s revelations.

Cameron’s claim is as barefaced a lie as it is a reactionary move.

In June, according to Guardian editor-in-chief Alan Rusbridger, he and other Guardian journalists were threatened with legal action and forced to destroy hard drives containing material from Snowden when “a very senior government official claiming to represent the views of the prime minister” made “an implicit threat that others within government and Whitehall favoured a far more draconian approach.”

According to Rusbridger, “two GCHQ security experts” oversaw the destruction. Now, Cameron cites the newspaper’s response to the government’s threats as proof of its guilt!

A spokesman for Guardian News and Media issued a statement declaring, “The prime minister is wrong to say the Guardian destroyed computer files because we agreed our reporting was damaging. We destroyed the computers because the government said it would use the full force of the law to prevent a newspaper from publishing anything about the NSA or GCHQ.”

Cameron made his statement in response to a question from former defence secretary Dr, Liam Fox, who asked for a “full and transparent assessment about whether the Guardian s involvement in the Snowden affair has damaged Britain’s national security.” Making clear he was seeking criminal charges, Fox said it was “bizarre” that that people alleged to have taken part in newspaper phone hacking have been prosecuted, while people who leave security personnel “more vulnerable” have not.

Tory backbencher Julian Smith has been granted a parliamentary debate in Westminster Hall next Tuesday over the publishing of the top-secret documents. He earlier wrote to the Metropolitan Police calling for the Guardian to be prosecuted under the Official Secrets Act and the Terrorism Act 2000. He said he would use the debate to “lay out the reasons why I believe that the Guardian has crossed the line between responsible journalism and seriously risking our national security and the lives of those who seek to protect us.”

The Liberal Democrat leader and deputy prime minister Nick Clegg has already aligned himself with the moves against the Guardian, declaring that Snowden’s leaks have “gifted” terrorists with the ability to attack Britain. The calls for repression are being made in conjunction with the Security services. New head of MI5 Andrew Parker described leaks about the Prism and Tempora programmes as handing “the advantage to the terrorists. It is the gift they need to evade us and strike at will.”

The most significant support for state persecution of journalists, newspapers and whistleblowers such as Snowden again comes from the nominal “parliamentary opposition”, the Labour Party.

Following the debate in parliament, Fox wrote to the chairmen of five Commons select committees urging them to carry out an investigation into the Guardian ’s “reckless and potentially dangerous conduct.”

“A free press does not mean the freedom to make the UK, its people or its allies more vulnerable to serious organised crime or terrorism. I am writing to formally request, as both a Member of Parliament and a former Security of State for Defence, that your committee considers the elements of the Guardian s involvement in, and publication of, the Snowden leaks.”

The first response came from Labour’s Keith Vaz, chairman of the Home Affairs Committee.

Within hours, Vaz said he would look into “elements of the Guardian s involvement in, and publication of, the Snowden leaks.”

“I will be writing to assure Dr. Fox that the committee is currently conducting an inquiry into counter-terrorism and we will be looking at this matter as part of it.”

The other committee heads petitioned by Fox are Sir Malcolm Rifkind of the Intelligence and Security Committee (ISC), John Arbuthnot of the Defence Committee, Richard Ottaway at Foreign Affairs and Sir Alan Beith of the Liaison Select Committee.

The ISC is presently making a pose of investigating the extent of mass surveillance carried out by the GCHQ and NSA in an inquiry launched yesterday. It has been heavily criticised for its cosy relationship with the security services, forcing Rifkind to issue platitudes such as the need to strike a “balance” between “our individual right to privacy and our collective right to security.”

The committee is now supposed to determine whether the intelligence laws are “fit for purpose”.

The move by the Home Affairs Committee to investigate the Guardian for possible criminal action cuts through such a pose of impartiality.

The entire machinery of parliament and its parties are being lined up in defence of the secret state apparatus, beginning with a clampdown on press freedom. Its implications for democratic rights are chilling. The Guardian is being targeted for revealing criminal actions by the secret services targeting every man, woman, and child in the UK and internationally for unwarranted state surveillance. This is done without legal justification or even official sanction by parliament. This demonstrates that the United Kingdom has gone far down the road to a de facto police state. It testifies to the extraordinary political and moral decay of a ruling elite poisoned by wealth, which lives in mortal fear of the millions below them being plunged ever deeper into hardship and poverty.

Please enable JavaScript to view the comments powered by Disqus.

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In his seminal book “Better Off Without ‘Em,” Chuck Thompson marshals data to argue that America would benefit by letting the Republican Party...

Killed by Cops Over a Movie Ticket: How Police Hurt the Disabled

On Jan. 12, Robert “Ethan” Saylor of Frederick County, Md., a 26-year-old man with Down syndrome and an IQ of 40, died of asphyxiation...

Ex-NSA/CIA chief Hayden jokes of putting Snowden on kill list

When it comes to Edward Snowden, it's reasonable to expect a little hard talk from former NSA and CIA chief Michael Hayden. After all,...

Snowden’s email service Lavabit consistently denied US govt access despite intimidation

The Federal Bureau of Investigation secretly obtained a court order compelling Lavabit, the email service used by National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden, to...

US Cyber Command’s Plan X: Pentagon Launching Covert Cyber Attacks

In 2008, the Armed Forces Journal published a prescient piece by Colonel Charles W. Williamson III, a staff judge advocate with the Air Force...

‘US spying is feeding on itself’

The US government™s spying program continues to grow because œit feeds on itself” and the American people should take action against such spying activities...

The NSA, Storage and the Marina Program

Civilisation, claimed Mark Twain, involves the limitless multiplication of unnecessary necessaries. Intelligence gathering can be seen to be a byproduct of that fascination: bureaucratic...

From NSA Spying and VIPR Sweeps to Domestic Drones: A Round-Up of the Police...

Like clockwork, we’ve ticked back to the annual government shutdown scare that invariably dominates news headlines and sends stocks seesawing for a few scant weeks until, at the very last moment, the nation is miraculously pulled from the brink of disaster. It’s always an entertaining show, with both Republicans and Democrats doing their best to […]

Obama’s flip-flop on spying

President Obama claims he welcomes the public debate over government surveillance programs that track personal information about millions of innocent Americans. But if it...

NSA Tapping Internet Backbone, Spying On Our Social Networks

New NSA Spying Revelations Senator Diane Feinstein unintentionally confirmed that the NSA is tapping into the Internet's very backbone: Upstream collection… occurs when NSA obtains...

NSA’s Spying On Metadata Violates Our Freedom of Association

Why You Should You Care If the Government Spies On Your Metadata The government has sought to “reassure” us that it is only tracking “metadata”...

Senators Pushing Bill to Curb NSA Searches

In what has been called "an unlikely alliance of liberal Democrats and libertarian Republicans," a bipartisan group of U.S senators has introduced legislation to...

US spy master: Leaks very ‘damaging’

Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, the spy master who once lied to Congress about domestic spying in the US, has told a Senate...

The US government spied on the Indian diplomatic missions to the UN and Washington

Two of the most important nerve-centres of Indian diplomacy outside the country — the Permanent Mission of India at the United Nations and the...

The US government spied on the Indian diplomatic missions to the UN and Washington

Two of the most important nerve-centres of Indian diplomacy outside the country — the Permanent Mission of India at the United Nations and the...

Senate bill urges end to spying on phones

A bipartisan group of US senators have put forth a bill that would end US National Security Agency™s collection of Americans™ phone records and...

NSA spying targets India: Report

India was intensely targeted by the US National Security Agency (NSA) and the number one target of spying among the BRIC group of emerging...

The Many Ways the Government Is Spying On Us

The Government Is Spying On Us Through Our Computers, Phones, Cars, Buses, Streetlights, At Airports...

‘Global Heat Maps’ Reveal India a Hot Target of NSA Spying

In this heat map showing the aggregate of data tracked by the NSA's Boundless Informant, Iran was the country where the largest amount of...

Spilling the NSA’s Secrets: Guardian Editor Alan Rusbridger on the Inside Story of Snowden...

Three-and-a-half months after National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden came public on the the U.S. government's massive spying operations at home and abroad, we...

The NSA Domestic Surveillance Lie

“And so in light of the changed environment where a whole set of questions have been raised, some in the most sensationalized manner possible,...

NSA Letter to Families of Employees Reassures Spying is in the Public’s Interest

Letter claims 54 terrorists busted with aid of NSA Adan SalazarInfowars.comSept. 20, 2013 In efforts to quell...

Deliberately flawed? RSA Security tells customers to drop NSA-related encryption algorithm

An encryption algorithm with a suspected NSA-designed backdoor has been declared insecure by the developer after years of extensive use by customers worldwide, including...

Letter to an Unknown Whistle-Blower

http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/letter_to_an_unknown_whistleblower_20130919/ Posted on Sep 19, 2013 ...

Israel Still Angling for Attacks on Syria and Iran

Nazareth. President Barack Obama may have drawn his seemingly regretted “red line” around Syria's chemical weapons, but it was neither he nor the international community...

“Red Lines” and “Green Lights”: Israel still Angling for Attack on Syria and Iran

President Barack Obama may have drawn his seemingly regretted “red line” around Syria's chemical weapons, but it was neither he nor the international community...

Letter to an Unknown Whistleblower, How the Security State’s Mania for Secrecy Will Create...

Dear Whistleblower, I don't know who you are or what you do or how old you may be. I just know that you exist somewhere...

Letter to an Unknown Whistleblower, How the Security State’s Mania for Secrecy Will Create...

Dear Whistleblower, I don't know who you are or what you do or how old you may be. I just know that you exist somewhere...

11 Million Users Abandon Facebook

Users vacate Facebook over serious privacy concerns Julie WilsonInfowars.comSeptember 17, 2013 A new report by the Daily...

The Man In Charge Of The NSA Modeled His Office After The Bridge Of...

Zero Hedge Privacy: the final frontier. These are the voyages of the NSA, as it enters every computer and pries whatever data can be stolen...

Former NSA Director Advocates Chinese-Style Internet

Hayden: “The problem I have with the Internet is that it's anonymous” Paul Joseph WatsonInfowars.comSeptember 16,...

Michael Hayden: “The problem I have with the Internet is that it’s anonymous”

Andrea Peterson Washington Post September 15, 2013 Image: Wikimedia Commons Former NSA and CIA director Michael Hayden stood on the pulpit of a church across...

‘German security agency working with NSA’

A protestor holds a banner with a picture of US President Barack Obama to protest against the NSA internet surveillance program "PRISM" in Hannover,...

NSA posed as Google for spying

The US National Security Agency has masqueraded as Google in order to spy on web users, leaked documents show. In order to pose as Goggle...

Google’s Schmidt: won’t ‘pass judgement’ on NSA surveillance

It's not the danger to privacy that worries Eric Schmidt, executive chairman of internet leviathan Google, about the National Security Agency's vast data collection...

NSA Control Freaks

Those who are attracted to the non-alive are the people who prefer ‘law-and-order' to living structure, bureaucratic to spontaneous methods, gadgets to living beings,...

EFF’s Cheat Sheet to Congress’ NSA Spying Bills

Mark M. Jaycox EFF.org Sept. 12, 2013 The veil of secrecy around the government's illegal and unconstitutional use of both Section 215 of the...

All Smartphone Data Exploited by Specialized NSA Teams

The National Security Agency (NSA) has teams devoted to cracking and monitoring every type of smartphone, including the iPhone, Android devices, and the Blackberry,...

Apple iPhone 5S: Big Brother Dream Come True

The latest iPhone is an ode to biometrics, spying, and the Big Brother control grid. Anthony...

Apple iPhone 5S: Big Brother Dream Come True

The latest iPhone is an ode to biometrics, spying, and the Big Brother control grid. Anthony...

Apple iPhone 5S: Big Brother Dream Come True

The latest iPhone is an ode to biometrics, spying, and the Big Brother control grid. Anthony...

Intellectuals as Subjects and Objects of Violence

(Image: Jared Rodriguez / Truthout)Edward Snowden, Russ Tice, Thomas Drake, Jeremy Scahill, and Julian Assange, among others, have recently made clear what it means...

Tech Co. Pressure FISA Court to Release More Detailed Reports on Govt Data Requests

Google: The levels of secrecy built up around national security requests undermine the basic freedoms...

Tech Co. Pressure FISA Court to Release More Detailed Reports on Govt Data Requests

Google: The levels of secrecy built up around national security requests undermine the basic freedoms...

‘Freedom Not Fear’: Berlin Rallies Against ‘Shameless’ NSA Spying

Tens of thousands poured into Berlin's streets over the weekend to protest broad surveillance by the the NSA and other intelligence agencies, under the...

Anti-NSA protest held in Germany

Thousands of Germans have staged a demonstration in capital Berlin to protest against spying activities by the US National Security Agency (NSA) and other...

Obama Plans One of History's Great Crimes

Obama Plans One of History's Great Crimes by Stephen Lendman US history is ugly. It's disturbing. It's ruthless. It's deplorable. No nation ever matched it. None...

Internet giants voice concern over NSA, GCHQ circumvention of encryption

Microsoft, Yahoo, and Google expressed unease Friday about the National Security Agency’s ability to bypass online security systems that protect the privacy of internet...

Alone and Delusional on Planet Earth

http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/alone_and_delusional_on_planet_earth_20130906/ Posted on Sep 6, 2013 By...

Who Are the NSA's Corporate Partners?

Every day, there is new information on the shrinking of the scope of liberty and personal privacy. Thursday, for example, the New York Times reported: The...

DARPA goes deep: New Hydra project to see underwater drones deploying drones

The sky is no longer the limit for US drone warfare, with secret military research agency DARPA considering a conquest of the seven seas...

New NSA Revelations: Internet Privacy Encryption Virtually 'Defeated'

Internet privacy safeguards known as encryption technologies promised by email, online banking, and other such online databases have been virtually 'defeated' by the U.S....

NRA Files Brief Supporting ACLU Suit Challenging NSA Surveillance

“Misery acquaints a man with strange bedfellows,” Shakespeare wrote in The Tempest. The misery – of many sorts – that has surfaced in the wake of...

America Is More Terrifying Than Orwell’s Fiction

To stay on top of important articles like these, sign up to receive the latest updates from TomDispatch.com here. In an increasingly phantasmagorical world, here’s...

Study Shows Major Internet Companies Violate User Privacy

Whistleblower Edward Snowden's recent revelations of the federal government’s massive and intrusive surveillance of Americans have shown that major Internet giants such as Facebook,...

Julian Assange’s Thousand Days

Police states quaffing the blood of victims have an excuse: they wish to oppress in order to justify the status quo, keeping the fires...

NYT Report Sheds Light on Secret DEA, AT&T Teamwork

Slideshow presentation indicates no one is to refer to project by name Adan Salazar The New York Times recently obtained a slideshow presentation revealing a secret...

NSA spied on French Foreign Ministry

File photo shows the sign outside the US National Security Agency (NSA) campus in Fort Meade, Maryland.Top secret documents have shown that the US...

Miranda files risk UK national security

Miranda files risk UK national security, govt. adviser warnsBritish police detain David Miranda (R) in blatant attempt to intimidate journalist Glenn Greenwald (L).Top secret...

Tech firms made money from govt. ties

US tech firms made money from govt. tiesFormer US intelligence linguist, Scott Rickard, says there have been Å“multiple relationships” between large US service providers...

How NSA misleads public without lying

The Wall Street Journal published an important investigation last week, reporting that the National Security Agency (NSA) has direct access to many key telecommunications...

US Internet giants sue government

Two US Internet giants plan to move forward with a lawsuit against the US government in relation to its massive spying programs. Google and Microsoft...

Police Admit NZ Spy Agency Illegally Spied On Kim Dotcom, But Aren’t Going To...

techdirt.com August 30, 2013 You may recall that it came out last year that the New Zealand equivalent of the NSA, the GCSB,...

NSA pays US firms millions for data

New documents show the NSA pays US Internet companies hundreds of millions of dollars a year for secret data acess.The US National Security Agency...

France investigates US spying program

French prosecutors have launched a preliminary investigation into a US spying program codenamed PRISM following complaints from human rights groups in France. The Paris prosecutorâ„¢s...

Allegations that NSA tool can neutralize common online security

Information has surfaced regarding surveillance software allegedly in use by the NSA that is able to neutralize SSL, or Secure Sockets Layer, and HTTPS,...

Anonymous claims NSA tool can neutralize common online security

Information has surfaced regarding surveillance software allegedly in use by the NSA that is able to neutralize SSL, or Secure Sockets Layer, and HTTPS,...

US Requested Tens of Thousands of Facebook Users’ Data in Just 6 Months

The U.S. requested data on between 20,000 and 21,000 Facebook users during the first six months of 2013, the social networking site announced on...

Facebook Succombs to 38,000 Government Requests for User Info in 2013

Government says they request Facebook data for both criminal investigations and national security matters Julie WilsonInfowars.comAugust...

Google “Doing Things the CIA Cannot Do”

Julian Assange thestringer.com.au August 26, 2013 It has been revealed today, thanks to Edward Snowden, that Google and other US tech companies received millions...

Pentagon Prepping For ‘Large Scale Economic Breakdown’

Anthony Gucciardi High level government documents reveal that the Pentagon is preparing in full force for ‘large scale economic meltdown’ and massive...

Britain’s Middle East Spy Station

It doesn’t surprise. Washington operates the same way. It’s longstanding imperial policy. It relates to waging war on freedom. On August 23, The Independent headlined “Exclusive: UK’s...

Britain's Middle East Spy Station

Britain's Middle East Spy Station by Stephen Lendman It doesn't surprise. Washington operates the same way. It's longstanding imperial policy. It relates to waging war on...

'US govt. agent of big corporations'

A political analyst says the United States government is working closely with big technology companies as its spying and law enforcement agencies are Å“sources...

‘NSA set up program to survey planet’

Press TV has conducted an interview with Alfred Lambremont Webre, international lawyer, from Kuala Lumpur, about payments by the NSA to Internet companies to...

US spy agency paid tech firms millions

An anti-PRISM demonstration.The US National Security Agency has paid technology companies millions of dollars to cover the cost of handing over emails and other...

Latest Docs Show Financial Ties Between NSA and Internet Companies

Newly released NSA documents, along with fresh reporting from the Guardian on Friday, show that not only were large internet company in the U.S.–including...

NSA payed millions to Internet companies to cover surveillance program costs

Top-secret national security documents leaked to the Guardian newspaper reveal that the United States government compensated the tech companies that signed on to participate...

Forward to Fascism?

The Orwellian concept of doublethink, and its synonyms ‘doublespeak’ and ‘doubletalk’, are relatively recent euphemisms for political deceit, but they have a classical analogue...

Ecuador raps US-, UK-led '53 coup in Iran

Ecuador's President Rafael Correa has slammed Washingtonâ„¢s imperialistic policy of interference in other countries' internal affairs, including the US-, and UK-engineered 1953 coup in...

Secret Court Ruled in 2011 That NSA Surveillance Is Unconstitutional

The Electronic Frontier Foundation has been fighting the federal government in court to release to the public an 86-page opinion of the secret Foreign...

Obama Unmasked: The Total Surveillance State

The president helped end the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy that locked LGBT military service members in the closet. During his 2012 campaign, he...

Ben Swann: NSA Using Copyright Claims To Crush Free Speech?

Ben Swann Can a government agency block criticism by claiming copyright infringement? Sounds a bit ridiculous but it is happening.  The NSA is effectively stopping...

What NSA "Transparency" Looks Like

Last week, the Washington Post published an internal audit finding the NSA had violated privacy rules thousands of times in recent years. In response, the spy...

EU watchdogs concerned at US spying

Europe's data protection agencies are demanding details on the US spying in the continent, warning that Washingtonâ„¢s so-called PRISM spying program may have breached...

NSA Revelations Prove Abuse Is the Rule, Not the Exception

Recent revelations by the Washington Post have confirmed that NSA abuse of Americans' privacy through unconstitutional warrantless surveillance is far more prevalent than agency requests...

There Is No Such Thing As NSA-Proof Email

The following article first appeared in Mother Jones. Subscribe here for more great content from Mother Jones. Since last June, when Edward Snowden tore the veil...

Copyright Infringement Is Being Treated as Terrorism

Counter-Terrorism Gone Crazy Top American security experts say that using “anti-terror” powers to go after non-terrorism related activities hurts our national security. A good example is...

NSA Spying: The Three Pillars of Government Trust Have Fallen

Cindy Cohn and Mark M. Jaycox eff.org August 16, 2013 Photo: Bernard Goldbach and the ACLU With each recent revelation about the...

Google Claims Right to Rifle Through All Gmail Messages

“If you care about your email correspondents’ privacy don’t use Gmail.” That’s the advice given by Consumer Watchdog’s Privacy Project director, John M. Simpson. On...

NSA Funds New “Top Secret” $60 Million Dollar Data Lab

Center will analyze information from private emails, cell phone calls, Google searches Paul Joseph Watson The National Security Agency is funding a “top secret”...

Xbox Nixes Kinect Device Requirement

Platform’s second major revision this year Adan SalazarInfowars.comAugust 15, 2013 Privacy-minded gamers concerned over the...

Cyber Attack Against Establishment Media Next Phase in Never Ending War On Terror

Kurt Nimmo Back in May, 2010, before Edward Snowden and the unmasking of the NSA, we announced the Pentagon’s preparation for a cyber war against...

Snowden: US media ‘fear’ being punished

American whistleblower Edward Snowden says he did not provide the mainstream media in the US with his leaks because the US media have failed...

Google Submits Patent For Minority Report Style Eye Tracking Device

“Head mounted” technology will relay “emotional analytics” to advertisers Steve Watson While the current incarnation of Google Glass continues to prompt...

How The Corrupt Establishment Is Selling Moral Bankruptcy To America

Morality is a highly misunderstood component of human nature. Some people believe they can create moral guidelines from thin air based on their personal biases and prejudices.

Snowden: American media ‘abdicated their role as check to power’

NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden has gone on the offensive against his critics in the US, accusing the mainstream media there of failing their audiences “for fear of being seen as unpatriotic and punished in the market.”

Pro-NSA Editorial Flails, Snarks At Internet Users, Claims Those Challenging NSA ‘Hate Obama’

techdirt.com August 13, 2013 As more details of the NSA’s Fourth Amendment-abusing surveillance programs continue to be unveiled, it’s been remarkable...

Japan Rewrites War History at Yasukuni

There is one place in Japan where the emperor dare not go. It is a supreme irony, because it is the place where he would...

The Rise of the Internet Dissidents

NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden’s volcanic revelations of ubiquitous US surveillance are in their third month. The aftershocks felt around the world continue. As Russia...

NSA Uses Loophole to Justify Collecting Domestic E-mail, Phone Calls

The National Security Agency (NSA) is using a “secret backdoor” to conduct warrantless searches of the e-mails and phone calls of American citizens, the...

‘US, Germany to negotiate no spy pact’

Germany and the United States will start negotiations this month on an agreement not to spy on each other, a senior German official has...

Obama Spurns NSA Spying Reform

Obama Spurns NSA Spying Reform by Stephen Lendman Huey Long once said fascism will arrive "wrapped in an American flag." In "Friendly Fascism," Bertram Gross (1912...

Damage control? NSA claims only touches 1.6% of internet traffic

The NSA has alleged it monitors only 1.6 percent of web traffic, contradicting claims of a sweeping spy network. A report released by the White House justifies NSA snooping as essential for national security, but neglects to expand on any details.

NSA loophole allows warrantless search for US citizens’ emails and phone calls

James Ball and Spencer Ackerman theguardian.com August 9, 2013 The National Security Agency has a secret backdoor into its vast databases under a...

Spying scheme damages US reputation

Venezuelan officials have warned that the USâ„¢s controversial spying program may lead to further worsening of Washingtonâ„¢s reputation at the international level, Press TV...

New revelations: Germany sends ‘massive amounts’ of phone, email data to NSA

RTAug 8, 2013 Germany’s BND intelligence service sends “massive amounts” of intercepts to the NSA daily,...

I Only Regret That I Have But One Life to Give for My Country:...

http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/i_only_regret_that_i_have_but_one_life_to_give_for_my_country_your_20130808/ Posted on Aug 8, 2013 ...

Are Snowden, Greenwald and Wikileaks Winning?

August 7, 2013  | ...

Are Snowden, Greenwald and Wikileaks Winning?

August 7, 2013  | ...

Hypocrite in Chief? 5 Limits on NSA Spying that Senator Obama Supported But President...

When the House of Representatives recently considered an amendment that would have dismantled the NSA’s bulk phone records collection program,...

The Surveillance Reforms Obama Supported Before He Was President

When the House of Representatives recently considered an amendment that would have dismantled the NSA’s bulk phone records collection program, the White House swiftly condemned the measure. But only five years ago, Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill. was part of a group of legislators that supported substantial changes to NSA surveillance programs. Here are some of the proposals the president co-sponsored as a senator.

5 Ways the War on Terror Has Changed Your Life

The leaks from National Security Agency (NSA) whistleblower Edward Snowden over the summer have made one thing abundantly clear: the war on terror has come to affect every single American.

The NSA and Global Terror Alerts

Let us not get too worked up. Let us not even feel too conspiratorial. But is it coincidence that, after a series of...

Feds Caught in Lies; Say Will Come Clean. Don’t Bet on It.

In a July 24 Defense Department public affairs briefing, Pentagon spokesman George Little told DoD public affairs officers that they must increase and intensify...

Eyewitness To Hastings Crash Reported “Giant Explosion”

Federal agency now investigating death of Rolling Stone journalist Paul Joseph Watson Prison Planet.com August 5, 2013 Newly released transcripts of 911...

Nefarious Fallouts of Iran Sanctions

The article demonstrates that on various grounds (socio-economic, politico-diplomatic, geopolitical and geo-economic) that the sanctions regime against Iran has been counterproductive. Crucially for Western...

FBI using hacker techniques to spy on Americans

  By ...

Members of Congress Denied Access to Basic Information About NSA

Members of Congress are increasingly frustrated at their inability to obtain even basic information about the NSA and FISA court.

The Presumed Innocence of Capitalism and Lac-Mégantic

“If the soul is left in darkness, sins will be committed. The guilty one is not he who commits the sin, but he who...

‘Terror Alert’ Is Fearmongering Theater

Zero HedgeAugust 4, 2013 The time has come to remind Americans that “you can’t have 100-percent...

‘Britain is the poodle of the U.S.’

Britain acts as the poodle of the U.S. in spying The British parliamentâ„¢s spy watchdog has described the UK government as Å“the poodle of...

US using satellites to spy on Americans

Former National Security Agency analyst Russell Tice says the US government has used satellites to spy on Americans, collecting the exact contents of every...

Backpacks, Pressure Cookers, and the Truth

When Michele Catalano blogged yesterday using the title “pressure cookers, backpacks and quinoa, oh my!” it didn't gain purchase until it was picked up by The Guardian. From...

Online Search for Pressure Cooker Sparks Police Visit

UPDATE (8/2): (h/t The Guardian)Police in Suffolk County, NY, released the following statement on Thursday evening: Suffolk County Criminal Intelligence Detectives received a tip from...

How the Manning Trial Betrayed the Constitution

In its third century the United States is undergoing a continuous constitutional crisis. To mention just some of the most recent lowlights of that...

Googling for bomb? Police raid house over suspicious Internet searches

An anti-terror squad raided the home of a New York family Wednesday, weeks after the family made a Google search for pressure cooker bomb...

Yes, They Are Watching: Online Search for Pressure Cooker Sparks Chilling Police Visit

The question is this: Who was monitoring the online Google searches of a Long Island, New York family in order to trigger a visit...

The NSA IS Reading Your E-mails

The London Guardian's Glenn Greenwald revealed in a July 31 exposé that the NSA has indeed been collecting the full text of every American's e-mails without...

The Imperial Mafia

It’s not easy being a flag-waving American nationalist. In addition to having to deal with the usual disillusion, anger, and scorn from around the...

NSA director booed during ‘unconvincing’ hacker conference speech

National Security Agency Director Keith Alexander was jeered as he pleaded with professional hackers and cyber-security experts to reconsider the indiscriminate NSA surveillance during...

The NSA IS Reading Your Emails

The London Guardian's Glenn Greenwald revealed in a July 31 exposé that the NSA has indeed been collecting the full text of every American's emails without...

Shocking ‘Extermination’ Fantasies By the People Running America’s Empire on Full Display at Aspen...

Seated on a stool before an audience packed with spooks, lawmakers, lawyers and mercenaries, CNN’s Wolf Blitzer introduced recently retired CENTCOM chief General James...

The Return of Martin Indyk

The Obama administration is turning its alchemic powers toward Palestine. It is aiming to fashion a ‘success’ out of the shambles created by its...

Report Says Snowden Wants to Join KGB Veterans Group

The strange journey of Edward Snowden (shown) may have taken another bizarre turn, as the head of a KGB veterans group in Moscow has...

NSA surveillance programs to be partially declassified

The US government will declassify documents about the National Security Agency’s surveillance programs in a “deliberate” attempt to provide the public with additional information...

US officials ‘conspire’ to violate rights

Massive spying run by the US National Security Agency is in violation of Americansâ„¢ constitutional rights, and all US officials have conspired to do...

US Sen. warns of govt. spying program

US Sen. warns of govt. spying programUS Senator Ron Wyden warned American citizens that their smartphone use, text messages, Web surfing and phone calls...

Greenwald to disclose new secret info

Glenn Greenwald, the Guardian reporter who broke the news of the National Security Agency's mass surveillance programs, said Sunday he will soon disclose new information about the access low-level contractors have to Americans' phone and email communications.

‘Big Data’ Dynamo: How Giant Tech Firms Help the Government to Spy on Americans

As the secret state continues trawling the electronic communications of hundreds of millions of Americans, lusting after what securocrats euphemistically call “actionable intelligence,”...

Snowden can stay at airport indefinitely

Russiaâ„¢s Justice Ministry has said American whistleblower Edward Snowden can stay in the transit zone of Moscowâ„¢s Sheremetyevo airport as long as he pleases. In...

Federal Government Demands Internet Passwords

A story broken by CNET on July 25 stated that the U.S. government has “demanded” that major Internet companies provide federal agencies with their...

Ireland refuses to probe US firms

RAF Menwith Hill base, which provides communications and intelligence support services to the United Kingdom and the US (file photo)An Ireland watchdog group has...

Democratic Leaders: All Americans “May Be In Communication With Terrorists”

Lawmakers Endorse NSA spying with bizarre justification Steve Watson Infowars.com July 25, 2013 The Democratic leadership nailed its colors to the big brother...

Fewer in US trade privacy with security

A US scholar says that fewer Americans than before believe that itâ„¢s ok to give up their privacy for the sake of better national...

Rep. Amash: "Washington Elites Fear Liberty"

When the White House and the National Security Agency went all out to defeat Rep. Justin Amash's amendment to cut funding for NSA's massive...

NSA Taps Directly Into Undersea Fiber-optic Data Cables

Despite promises from a few federal lawmakers to hold the Obama administration and the National Security Agency (NSA) accountable for the recently revealed practice...

House to Debate Curb on NSA Surveillance

The U.S. House of Representatives on Wednesday is scheduled to debate an amendment to curb the National Security Agency's collection of records of billions...

570,000 Requests Made For Web & Phone Data

Almost 600,000 requests for supposedly confidential information like email and text messages have been made by UK authorities. This is between roughly 80,000 and 90,000 more requests made by the police and secret services than in 2011.

Does the NSA Tap That? What We Still Don’t Know About the Agency’s Internet...

(TeleGeography/www.telegeography.com)Among the snooping revelations of recent weeks, there have been tantalizing bits of evidence that the NSA is tapping fiber-optic cables that carry nearly...

German intelligence services work closely with NSA

  By ...

The Violence of Organized Forgetting

http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/the_violence_of_organized_forgetting_20130722/ Posted on Jul 22, 2013 By Henry...

Cost of Surveillance: What the IRS Scandal Means for NSA Snooping

Revelations that the IRS has thoroughly politicized its use of taxpayer information has ominous implications for the National Security Agency's attempts to collect a...

NSA Spokesman Accidentally Admits that the Government Is Spying On Virtually All Americans

NSA Spying: A Matter of Degree We have long noted that the government is spying on just about everything we do. The NSA has pretended that...

Jimmy Carter Defends Snowden, Says U.S. Has No "Functioning Democracy"

"America does not have a functioning democracy at this point in time," former President Jimmy Carter said this week, according to a report in...

German state security intimidates opposition

  By ...

Intelligence Chief Clapper Likely to Escape Punishment for Perjury

Senator Carl Levin (D-Mich.) said July 16 that he’d thought of a way to hold Director of National Intelligence James Clapper (shown) accountable for...

Edward Snowden and the Emerging Police State

“There was of course no way of knowing whether you were being watched at any given moment. How often, or on what system, the...

Documents Show Undersea Cable Firms Provide Surveillance Access to US Secret State

Documents published last week by the Australian web site Crikey revealed that the US government “compelled Telstra and Hong Kong-based PCCW to give it access to...

Social Engineering & Racial Division: The Trayvon Martin Tragedy

Contrived selective outrage prevents Americans from unifying against national security state Paul Joseph Watson & Alex...

The United State’s Futile Search for ‘World Domination’

Those enchanted by pseudo-reality must have been at the edge of their seats as they watched ‘Zero Dark Thirty’, a Hollywood account of how...

Remember Lac-Mégantic!

There are several port terminals projected for the Pacific Northwest, each hotly contested in their own right. The LNG Palomar Pipeline was shunted off...

Google experimenting with anti-NSA encryption – report

Google is considering encrypting users’ data generated on its Google Drive as a protection from the US government's invasive meta data collection policies revealed...

GCHQ eavesdropping legal: UK parliament

Britain's communications spying agency has not violated the law by using the American data-espionage program PRISM, the British parliament says. The conclusion was drawn by...

Big Sis 2.0: Congressional Pick For New DHS Head Supports Mass Surveillance

Ranking Democrat favorite supported CISPA spying bill Steve WatsonInfowars.comJuly 17, 2013A congressional pick for...

Report: Michael Hastings’ Body Cremated Against Family’s Wishes

Journalist feared big story could make him a target Paul Joseph WatsonInfowars.comJuly 17, 2013

Report: Michael Hastings’ Body Cremated Against Family’s Wishes

Journalist feared big story could make him a target Paul Joseph WatsonInfowars.comJuly 17, 2013

‘Germany military knew of US spying’

German Major General Joerg Vollmer welcomed Chancellor Angela Merkel in Mazar-i-Sharif, Afghanistan on May 10, 2013.A German newspaper has revealed that the German military...

Court Rules to Declassify NSA Justification for Spying

A slide depicting the top-secret PRISM program.The United States' secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, or FISA court, has ruled to declassify a series of...

Broad Coalition Sues NSA Over Unconstitutional Surveillance

The NSA's unconstitutional warrantless wiretapping program PRISM has succeeded in uniting much of the political spectrum in a new California-based lawsuit designed to protect civil liberties from the National Security Agency (NSA).

Internet Fascism and the Surveillance State

Ben O’Neillmises.orgJuly 16, 2013 What is the purpose of telecommunication and internet surveillance? The NSA presents its...

Snowden leaks open a Pandora’s box of lawsuits against government surveillance

The recent disclosures made by National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden have generated commotion in Congress and the White House alike. Will the United...

Surveillance Blowback

http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/surveillance_blowback_20130716/ Posted on Jul 16, 2013 By Alfred W. McCoy, TomDispatch...

Washington Post: NSA's Policy Is “Collect It All,” and Says That's Okay

The Washington Post published a story about how the NSA's mission was to spy on every American, in their words to “collect it all,”...

Are Germany’s Intelligence Agencies and the Stasi Totally Different?

Germany’s chancellor Angela Merkel “has defended German cooperation with the National Security Agency program, called Prism, and rejected any comparison between it and the...