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315,000 More Americans Have Left Labor Force in September 2014 Bringing Total To 92,584,000 — Nearly Seven Years Later The Number of Employed Hits 146.6 Million Last Seen In November 2007 — Labor Participation Rate At 62.7% Should Be At 67% — The Ebola Income and Jobs Effect Will Hit In The November 7 Jobs Report After Elections — Videos

Posted on October 5, 2014. Filed under: Agriculture, Airplanes, American History, Banking, Biology, Blogroll, Business, Chemistry, College, Communications, Constitution, Crisis, Demographics, Diasters, Economics, Education, Employment, Energy, Family, Federal Government, Federal Government Budget, Fiscal Policy, Freedom, government, government spending, Health Care, history, Illegal, Immigration, Inflation, Investments, IRS, Law, Legal, liberty, Life, Links, Macroeconomics, media, Medical, Medicine, Microeconomics, Monetary Policy, Money, Natural Gas, Natural Gas, Oil, People, Politics, Psychology, Public Sector, Rants, Raves, Regulations, Resources, Science, Security, Strategy, Talk Radio, Tax Policy, Taxes, Technology, Terrorism, Transportation, Unemployment, Unions, Video, War, Water, Wealth, Welfare, Wisdom | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

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The Pronk Pops Show Podcasts

Pronk Pops Show 343: October 3, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 342: October 2, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 341: October 1, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 340: September 30, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 339: September 29, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 338: September 26, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 337: September 25, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 336: September 24, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 335: September 23 2014

Pronk Pops Show 334: September 22 2014

Pronk Pops Show 333: September 19 2014

Pronk Pops Show 332: September 18 2014

Pronk Pops Show 331: September 17, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 330: September 16, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 329: September 15, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 328: September 12, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 327: September 11, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 326: September 10, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 325: September 9, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 324: September 8, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 323: September 5, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 322: September 4, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 321: September 3, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 320: August 29, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 319: August 28, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 318: August 27, 2014 

Pronk Pops Show 317: August 22, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 316: August 20, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 315: August 18, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 314: August 15, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 313: August 14, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 312: August 13, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 311: August 11, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 310: August 8, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 309: August 6, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 308: August 4, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 307: August 1, 2014 

Pronk Pops Show 306: July 31, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 305: July 30, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 304: July 29, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 303: July 28, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 302: July 24, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 301: July 23, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 300: July 22, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 299: July 21, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 298: July 18, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 297: July 17, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 296: July 16, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 295: July 15, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 294: July 14, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 293: July 11, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 292: July 9, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 291: July 7, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 290: July 3, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 289: July 2, 2014

Story 2: 315,000 More Americans Have Left Labor Force in September 2014 Bringing Total To 92,584,000 — Nearly Seven Years Later The Number of Employed Hits 146.6 Million Last Seen In November 2007 — Labor Participation Rate At 62.7% Should Be At 67% — The Ebola Income and Jobs Effect Will Hit In The November 7 Jobs Report After Elections — Videos

sgs-emp

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JEC Chair Brady discusses the importance of declining labor force participation rate

Labor participation rate is down to unprecedented levels

What The Six-Year Unemployment Low Means For U.S. Economy

Ebola ;could wreck W Africa economies, #; warns World Bank

BBC News – Ebola crisis: Toll on regional economies

Counting the Cost – Ebola: The Economic Fallout

 

 

 

Employment Situation Summary

Transmission of material in this release is embargoed until                 USDL-14-1796
8:30 a.m. (EDT) Friday, October 3, 2014

Technical information:
 Household data:	(202) 691-6378  •  cpsinfo@bls.gov  •  www.bls.gov/cps
 Establishment data:	(202) 691-6555  •  cesinfo@bls.gov  •  www.bls.gov/ces

Media contact:		(202) 691-5902  •  PressOffice@bls.gov


                        THE EMPLOYMENT SITUATION -- SEPTEMBER 2014


Total nonfarm payroll employment increased by 248,000 in September, and the 
unemployment rate declined to 5.9 percent, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
reported today. Employment increased in professional and business services, 
retail trade, and health care.

Household Survey Data

In September, the unemployment rate declined by 0.2 percentage point to 5.9
percent. The number of unemployed persons decreased by 329,000 to 9.3 million.
Over the year, the unemployment rate and the number of unemployed persons were
down by 1.3 percentage points and 1.9 million, respectively. (See table A-1.)

Among the major worker groups, unemployment rates declined in September for
adult men (5.3 percent), whites (5.1 percent), and Hispanics (6.9 percent). The
rates for adult women (5.5 percent), teenagers (20.0 percent), and blacks (11.0
percent) showed little change over the month. The jobless rate for Asians was
4.3 percent (not seasonally adjusted), little changed from a year earlier.
(See tables A-1, A-2, and A-3.)

Among the unemployed, the number of job losers and persons who completed temporary
jobs decreased by 306,000 in September to 4.5 million. The number of long-term
unemployed (those jobless for 27 weeks or more) was essentially unchanged at 3.0
million in September. These individuals accounted for 31.9 percent of the unemployed.
Over the past 12 months, the number of long-term unemployed is down by 1.2 million.
(See tables A-11 and A-12.) 

The civilian labor force participation rate, at 62.7 percent, changed little in
September. The employment-population ratio was 59.0 percent for the fourth
consecutive month. (See table A-1.)

The number of persons employed part time for economic reasons (sometimes referred
to as involuntary part-time workers) was little changed in September at 7.1 million.
These individuals, who would have preferred full-time employment, were working part
time because their hours had been cut back or because they were unable to find a
full-time job. (See table A-8.)

In September, 2.2 million persons were marginally attached to the labor force,
essentially unchanged from a year earlier. (The data are not seasonally adjusted.)
These individuals were not in the labor force, wanted and were available for work,
and had looked for a job sometime in the prior 12 months. They were not counted as
unemployed because they had not searched for work in the 4 weeks preceding the survey.
(See table A-16.)

Among the marginally attached, there were 698,000 discouraged workers in September,
down by 154,000 from a year earlier. (The data are not seasonally adjusted.) Discouraged
workers are persons not currently looking for work because they believe no jobs are
available for them. The remaining 1.5 million persons marginally attached to the labor
force in September had not searched for work for reasons such as school attendance or
family responsibilities. (See table A-16.)

Establishment Survey Data

Total nonfarm payroll employment rose by 248,000 in September, compared with an
average monthly gain of 213,000 over the prior 12 months. In September, job growth
occurred in professional and business services, retail trade, and health care.
(See table B-1.)

Professional and business services added 81,000 jobs in September, compared with an
average gain of 56,000 per month over the prior 12 months. In September, job gains
occurred in employment services (+34,000), management and technical consulting
services (+12,000), and architectural and engineering services (+6,000). Employment
in legal services declined by 5,000 over the month.

Employment in retail trade rose by 35,000 in September. Food and beverage stores
added 20,000 jobs, largely reflecting the return of workers who had been off payrolls
in August due to employment disruptions at a grocery store chain in New England.
Employment in retail trade has increased by 264,000 over the past 12 months.

Health care added 23,000 jobs in September, in line with the prior 12-month average
gain of 20,000 jobs per month. In September, employment rose in home health care
services (+7,000) and hospitals (+6,000).

Employment in information increased by 12,000 in September, with a gain of 5,000
in telecommunications. Over the year, employment in information has shown little net
change.

Mining employment rose by 9,000 in September, with the majority of the increase
occurring in support activities for mining (+7,000). Over the year, mining has added
50,000 jobs.

Within leisure and hospitality, employment in food services and drinking places
continued to trend up in September (+20,000) and is up by 290,000 over the year.

In September, construction employment continued on an upward trend (+16,000).
Within the industry, employment in residential building increased by 6,000. Over
the year, construction has added 230,000 jobs.

Employment in financial activities continued to trend up in September (+12,000) and
has added 89,000 jobs over the year. In September, job growth occurred in insurance
carriers and related activities (+6,000) and in securities, commodity contracts,
and investments (+5,000).

Employment in other major industries, including manufacturing, wholesale trade,
transportation and warehousing, and government, showed little change over the month.

In September, the average workweek for all employees on private nonfarm payrolls
edged up by 0.1 hour to 34.6 hours. The manufacturing workweek was unchanged at
40.9 hours, and factory overtime edged up by 0.1 hour to 3.5 hours. The average
workweek for production and nonsupervisory employees on private nonfarm payrolls
edged down by 0.1 hour to 33.7 hours. (See tables B-2 and B-7.)

Average hourly earnings for all employees on private nonfarm payrolls, at $24.53,
changed little in September (-1 cent). Over the year, average hourly earnings
have risen by 2.0 percent. In September, average hourly earnings of private-sector
production and nonsupervisory employees were unchanged at $20.67. 
(See tables B-3 and B-8.)

The change in total nonfarm payroll employment for July was revised from +212,000
to +243,000, and the change for August was revised from +142,000 to +180,000.
With these revisions, employment gains in July and August combined were 69,000 more
than previously reported.

_____________
The Employment Situation for October is scheduled to be released on Friday,
November 7, 2014, at 8:30 a.m. (EST).



 

Employment Situation Summary Table A. Household data, seasonally adjusted

HOUSEHOLD DATA
Summary table A. Household data, seasonally adjusted

[Numbers in thousands]
Category Sept.
2013
July
2014
Aug.
2014
Sept.
2014
Change from:
Aug.
2014-
Sept.
2014

Employment status

Civilian noninstitutional population

246,168 248,023 248,229 248,446 217

Civilian labor force

155,473 156,023 155,959 155,862 -97

Participation rate

63.2 62.9 62.8 62.7 -0.1

Employed

144,270 146,352 146,368 146,600 232

Employment-population ratio

58.6 59.0 59.0 59.0 0.0

Unemployed

11,203 9,671 9,591 9,262 -329

Unemployment rate

7.2 6.2 6.1 5.9 -0.2

Not in labor force

90,695 92,001 92,269 92,584 315

Unemployment rates

Total, 16 years and over

7.2 6.2 6.1 5.9 -0.2

Adult men (20 years and over)

7.0 5.7 5.7 5.3 -0.4

Adult women (20 years and over)

6.2 5.7 5.7 5.5 -0.2

Teenagers (16 to 19 years)

21.3 20.2 19.6 20.0 0.4

White

6.3 5.3 5.3 5.1 -0.2

Black or African American

13.0 11.4 11.4 11.0 -0.4

Asian (not seasonally adjusted)

5.3 4.5 4.5 4.3 -

Hispanic or Latino ethnicity

8.9 7.8 7.5 6.9 -0.6

Total, 25 years and over

5.9 5.0 5.1 4.7 -0.4

Less than a high school diploma

10.4 9.6 9.1 8.4 -0.7

High school graduates, no college

7.5 6.1 6.2 5.3 -0.9

Some college or associate degree

6.1 5.3 5.4 5.4 0.0

Bachelor’s degree and higher

3.7 3.1 3.2 2.9 -0.3

Reason for unemployment

Job losers and persons who completed temporary jobs

5,803 4,859 4,836 4,530 -306

Job leavers

984 862 860 829 -31

Reentrants

3,165 2,848 2,845 2,809 -36

New entrants

1,211 1,087 1,066 1,105 39

Duration of unemployment

Less than 5 weeks

2,571 2,587 2,609 2,383 -226

5 to 14 weeks

2,685 2,431 2,449 2,508 59

15 to 26 weeks

1,802 1,412 1,486 1,416 -70

27 weeks and over

4,125 3,155 2,963 2,954 -9

Employed persons at work part time

Part time for economic reasons

7,914 7,511 7,277 7,103 -174

Slack work or business conditions

4,955 4,609 4,261 4,162 -99

Could only find part-time work

2,548 2,519 2,587 2,562 -25

Part time for noneconomic reasons

18,919 19,662 19,526 19,561 35

Persons not in the labor force (not seasonally adjusted)

Marginally attached to the labor force

2,302 2,178 2,141 2,226 -

Discouraged workers

852 741 775 698 -

- Over-the-month changes are not displayed for not seasonally adjusted data.
NOTE: Persons whose ethnicity is identified as Hispanic or Latino may be of any race. Detail for the seasonally adjusted data shown in this table will not necessarily add to totals because of the independent seasonal adjustment of the various series. Updated population controls are introduced annually with the release of January data.

Employment Situation Summary Table B. Establishment data, seasonally adjusted

ESTABLISHMENT DATA
Summary table B. Establishment data, seasonally adjusted
Category Sept.
2013
July
2014
Aug.
2014(p)
Sept.
2014(p)

EMPLOYMENT BY SELECTED INDUSTRY
(Over-the-month change, in thousands)

Total nonfarm

164 243 180 248

Total private

153 239 175 236

Goods-producing

22 63 14 29

Mining and logging

6 9 2 9

Construction

13 30 16 16

Manufacturing

3 24 -4 4

Durable goods(1)

9 27 0 7

Motor vehicles and parts

2.9 13.7 -4.5 3.3

Nondurable goods

-6 -3 -4 -3

Private service-providing(1)

131 176 161 207

Wholesale trade

11.3 3.0 2.5 1.8

Retail trade

27.3 25.4 -4.7 35.3

Transportation and warehousing

23.1 21.1 8.5 1.9

Information

13 10 5 12

Financial activities

-1 15 12 12

Professional and business services(1)

37 50 63 81

Temporary help services

19.7 15.7 24.6 19.7

Education and health services(1)

9 37 42 32

Health care and social assistance

14.5 40.7 40.7 22.7

Leisure and hospitality

9 10 20 33

Other services

2 3 10 0

Government

11 4 5 12

WOMEN AND PRODUCTION AND NONSUPERVISORY EMPLOYEES(2)
AS A PERCENT OF ALL EMPLOYEES

Total nonfarm women employees

49.5 49.4 49.4 49.3

Total private women employees

48.1 47.9 47.9 47.9

Total private production and nonsupervisory employees

82.6 82.6 82.6 82.6

HOURS AND EARNINGS
ALL EMPLOYEES

Total private

Average weekly hours

34.5 34.5 34.5 34.6

Average hourly earnings

$24.06 $24.46 $24.54 $24.53

Average weekly earnings

$830.07 $843.87 $846.63 $848.74

Index of aggregate weekly hours (2007=100)(3)

99.1 101.0 101.2 101.7

Over-the-month percent change

0.1 0.2 0.2 0.5

Index of aggregate weekly payrolls (2007=100)(4)

113.8 117.9 118.5 119.0

Over-the-month percent change

0.3 0.3 0.5 0.4

HOURS AND EARNINGS
PRODUCTION AND NONSUPERVISORY EMPLOYEES

Total private

Average weekly hours

33.6 33.7 33.8 33.7

Average hourly earnings

$20.21 $20.61 $20.67 $20.67

Average weekly earnings

$679.06 $694.56 $698.65 $696.58

Index of aggregate weekly hours (2002=100)(3)

106.3 108.7 109.2 109.1

Over-the-month percent change

-0.2 0.2 0.5 -0.1

Index of aggregate weekly payrolls (2002=100)(4)

143.5 149.7 150.8 150.6

Over-the-month percent change

0.0 0.3 0.7 -0.1

DIFFUSION INDEX(5)
(Over 1-month span)

Total private (264 industries)

59.8 67.8 62.7 57.8

Manufacturing (81 industries)

54.9 56.2 54.9 51.9

Footnotes
(1) Includes other industries, not shown separately.
(2) Data relate to production employees in mining and logging and manufacturing, construction employees in construction, and nonsupervisory employees in the service-providing industries.
(3) The indexes of aggregate weekly hours are calculated by dividing the current month’s estimates of aggregate hours by the corresponding annual average aggregate hours.
(4) The indexes of aggregate weekly payrolls are calculated by dividing the current month’s estimates of aggregate weekly payrolls by the corresponding annual average aggregate weekly payrolls.
(5) Figures are the percent of industries with employment increasing plus one-half of the industries with unchanged employment, where 50 percent indicates an equal balance between industries with increasing and decreasing employment.
(p) Preliminary

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When Will Obama Close United States Airports and Borders To Flights and Travelers From Ebola Virus Disease Infected Countries Such As Liberia, Guinea, Sierra Leone and Nigeria? Time To Follow Saudi Arabia’s Stringent Ebola Checks! — Videos

Posted on October 5, 2014. Filed under: Airplanes, American History, Babies, Biology, Blogroll, Books, Business, Chemistry, College, Communications, Demographics, Diasters, Education, Federal Government, Food, government, government spending, Health Care, history, Illegal, Immigration, Islam, Language, Law, liberty, Life, Links, Meat, media, Medical, Medicine, People, Photos, Pistols, Politics, Press, Programming, Psychology, Rants, Raves, Regulations, Resources, Rifles, Science, Security, Terrorism, Transportation, Video, Water, Wealth, Weapons, Welfare | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

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The Pronk Pops Show Podcasts

Pronk Pops Show 343: October 3, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 342: October 2, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 341: October 1, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 340: September 30, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 339: September 29, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 338: September 26, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 337: September 25, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 336: September 24, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 335: September 23 2014

Pronk Pops Show 334: September 22 2014

Pronk Pops Show 333: September 19 2014

Pronk Pops Show 332: September 18 2014

Pronk Pops Show 331: September 17, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 330: September 16, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 329: September 15, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 328: September 12, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 327: September 11, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 326: September 10, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 325: September 9, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 324: September 8, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 323: September 5, 2014

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Pronk Pops Show 321: September 3, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 320: August 29, 2014

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Pronk Pops Show 317: August 22, 2014

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Pronk Pops Show 307: August 1, 2014 

Pronk Pops Show 306: July 31, 2014

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Pronk Pops Show 292: July 9, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 291: July 7, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 290: July 3, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 289: July 2, 2014

 

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Story 1: When Will Obama Close United States Airports and Borders To Flights and Travelers From Ebola Virus Disease Infected Countries Such As Liberia, Guinea, Sierra Leone and Nigeria? Time To Follow Saudi Arabia’s Stringent Ebola Checks! — Videos

 

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Ebola crisis: United States patient’s flat cleaned by specialists

Washington DC hospital admits patient with possible Ebola Virus US – Ebola Patients In DC 10/3/2014!

Saudi Arabia’s first suspected Ebola victim dies, as death tolls tops 900

Ebola Outbreak: Saudi Arabia Bans Guinea, Sierra Leone, Liberia From Hajj

Suspected Ebola victim dies in Saudi Arabia.

Ebola-Infected Patient Escapes Quarantine In Search Of Food

U.S. Democrat Congressman Demands Travel Ban From Ebola Infected Countries

SOMETHING ‘NEVER SEEN BEFORE’ IS COMING TO AMERICA (GLOBAL PANDEMIC)

Michael Osterholm on the Bird Flu in China

Pandemic Influenza: Science, Economics, and Foreign Policy: Session Two: The Economics

Watch experts analyze the economic effects of pandemic influenza including on the labor force and trade.
This session was part of a CFR symposium, Pandemic Influenza: Science, Economics, and Foreign Policy, which was cosponsored with Science Magazine.

SPEAKERS:
Yanzhong Huang, Director, Center for Global Health Studies, Seton Hall University
Andrew Jack, Pharmaceutical Correspondent, Financial Times
Michael T. Osterholm, Director, Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy (CIDRAP), University of Minnesota (via teleconference)
PRESIDER:
Robert E. Rubin, Co-Chair, Council on Foreign Relations; Former U.S. Secretary of the Treasury

 

Saudi Arabia bans Ebola-stricken countries from hajj pilgrimage

With the arrival of approximately two million people from around the world in Saudi Arabia for the annual hajj pilgrimage, there are a group of pilgrims who were not welcomed.

The Saudi government has banned the entry of travelers from three countries currently dealing with the Ebola epidemic: Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone. The decision to reject visa requests from these countries has affected 7,400 people, according to the Associated Press.

Hospitals in Saudi Arabia are also preparing in the event of an outbreak by setting up isolation and surgery units as well as dispatching medical staff to airports.

Despite banning pilgrim seekers from West Africa, Saudi officials are granting visas to pilgrims travelling from Nigeria. Saudi Arabia’s King Abdulaziz International Airport has provided them with two exclusive lounges as a precaution.

“So far 118,000 pilgrims have arrived by air from Nigeria. There was not a single suspected case of the deadly virus among anyone of them,” said Abdul Ghani Al-Malki, supervisor of hajj affairs at the airport.

Saudi officials have also been closely monitoring incoming flights from Kenya, Congo and other countries with reported cases of Ebola. Al-Malki told the local Saudi Gazettethat airport’s health inspection center ensured that planes and their passengers were not only free of Ebola, but other contagious diseases as well. “We have double-checked the papers that prove the airplanes had been sprayed twice before taking off to their destinations.”

The current death toll from Ebola in West Africa rose to 3,338, according to the World Health Organization report released Wednesday.

http://www.pbs.org/newshour/rundown/saudi-arabia-bans-pilgrims-ebola-stricken-countriespilgrims-ebola-stricken-countries-banned-hajj/

 

Saudi Arabia plays down Ebola concern for Hajj pilgrimage

Some in the crowd wore face masks – a possible precaution over Ebola fears

Two million Muslims have begun the annual Hajj pilgrimage, a five-day ritual central to Islam.

This year there have been concerns pilgrims may spread the contagious diseases Ebola and MERS.

Saudi Arabia, where the Hajj takes place, played down fears on Ebola, having banned pilgrims from Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia.

Their decision has excluded 7,400 Muslims, though it is estimated that 1.4m of the pilgrims are international.

Some of the numbers involved in 2014’s Hajj – in 60 seconds

Saudi Arabia has claimed this year’s Hajj is Ebola free as pilgrims flooded into Mina, 5km (three miles) from the holy city of Mecca, for the start of the pilgrimage.

As well as refusing visas to those from the three countries worst hit by Ebola, Saudi authorities asked all visitors to fill out medical screening cards and detail their travels over the past three weeks.

But Ebola is not the only disease concerning the Saudi government.

MERS, or Middle East Respiratory Syndrome, hit Saudi Arabia badly in the spring of this year.

Since 2012, there have been more than 750 cases of MERS in the country. Of this total 319 people died, some of whom were health workers.

Grey line

The meaning of Hajj

Pilgrims walk around the Kaaba in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, archivePilgrims walk around the Kaaba in Mecca, the building is the most sacred place in Islam and the direction of prayer for Muslims
  • Hajj is an annual five-day pilgrimage which all able-bodied Muslims are required to perform at least once in their lives, if they can afford it
  • It is the fifth and final pillar of Islam and is supposed to cleanse Muslims of sin and bring them closer to each other and God
  • The pilgrims, or Hajjis, wear simple white garments called “ihram” which give them all equal status
  • Those going on the hajj are required to abstain from sex, not to argue, kill anything or hunt and to avoid shaving and cutting their nails
  • Pilgrims perform several rituals during the hajj including walking counter-clockwise seven times around the Kaaba in Mecca, drinking from the Zam Zam Well and performing a symbolic stoning of the devil.

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-29461229

Will Airborne Ebola Become A Modern Global Plague?

The last several months have led to much confusion about the spread of the Ebola virus. Health officials and governments first denied that a serious threat existed and took no significant action to prevent its spread outside of West Africa. Then, after it had made it’s way to six different countries in the region, officials at the World Health Organization and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control started to panic. Apathy gave way to the real fear that we were facing a virus on a whole different scale than ever before.

At its current rate, some mathematical models show that the virus could infect anywhere from 20,000 to 100,000 by the end of the year, with over 4,000 people worldwide having been infected thus far. About 2,300 people, over 50% of those who have contracted it, have died.

Fired Up Obama to Immigration Activists: ‘No Force On Earth Can Stop Us’

‘Si se puede, si votamos! Yes, we can, if we vote!’

 BY DANIEL HALPER

A fired up President Barack Obama had a message to immigration activists at a dinner this evening in Washington, D.C.: “no force on earth can stop us.”

 

“The clearest path to change is to change [the voter turnout] number,” said Obama “Si se puede, si votamos! Yes, we can, if we vote!”

“You know, earlier this year, I had a chance to host a screening of the film Cesar Chavez at the White House, and I was reminded that Cesar organized for nearly 20 years before his first major victory. He never saw that time as a failure. Looking back, he said, I remember the families who joined our movement and paid dues long before there was any hope of winning contracts. I remember thinking then that with spirit like that, no force on earth could stop us.

“That’s the promise of America then and that’s the promise of America now. People who love this country can change it. America isn’t Congress. America isn’t Washington. America is the striving immigrant who starts a business or the mom who works two low-wage jobs to give her kids a better life. America is the union leader and the CEO who put aside their differences to make the economy stronger. America is the student who defies the odds to become the first in the family to go to college. The citizen who defies the cynics and goes out there and votes. The young person who comes out of the shadows to demand the right to dream. That’s what America is about.

“And six years ago, I asked you to believe, and tonight, I ask you to keep believing, not just in my ability to bring about change, but in your ability to bring about change. Because in the end, DREAMer is more than just a title, it’s a pretty good description of what it means to be an American.

http://engine.4dsply.com/Bridge/Index?width=850&height=650&url=%2FRedirect.engine%3FPerformanceTest%3Dnull%26MediaId%3D15307%26PId%3D17982%26MediaSegmentId%3D11932%26PoolId%3D26%26SiteId%3D523%26ZoneId%3D2029%26Country%3DUnited%20States%26Bid%3D10.57807%26MaxBid%3D16%26currentUrl%3Dhttp%253A%252F%252Fwww.weeklystandard.com%252Fblogs%252Ffired-obama-immigration-activists-no-force-earth-can-stop-us_808488.html

 

Patient Being Evaluated for Possible Ebola at D.C.’s Howard University Hospital

A patient with Ebola-like symptoms who had recently traveled to Nigeria is being treated at Howard University Hospital in Washington, D.C., a hospital spokesperson confirmed late Friday morning.

That person has been admitted to the hospital in stable condition and is isolated. The medical team is working with the CDC and other authorities to monitor the patient’s condition.

“In an abundance of caution, we have activated the appropriate infection control protocols, including isolating the patient,” said hospital spokesperson Kerry-Ann Hamilton in a statement. “Our medical team continues to evaluate and monitor progress in close collaboration with the CDC and the Department of Health.”

Hamilton did not share further details about the patient, citing privacy reasons, but said the hospital will provide updates as warranted.

The D.C. Department of Health released a statement shortly before 1 p.m. Wednesday, saying that the department has been working with the CDC and Howard University Hospital to monitor “any patients displaying symptoms associated with the Ebola virus.”

There are no confirmed cases of Ebola in D.C., said the statement.

At Shady Grove Adventist Hospital in Rockville, Maryland, a patient is in isolation with “flu-like symptoms and a travel history that matches criteria for possible Ebola,” according to a statement from the hospital. Lab results indicate the patient has another illness.

“We are working closely with the Montgomery County Health Department and State Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DHMH) as well as the CDC to manage this case and to ensure we continue to be prepared to care for patients with Ebola symptoms,” the statement said.

“We will only be making an announcement if and when there is a laboratory confirmed case, and that announcement would be made in conjunction with the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene and the CDC,” Montgomery County Department of Health and Human Services spokesperson Mary Anderson said.

The White House announced Friday that senior administration officials will hold a briefing on the U.S. government’s response to the Ebola pandemic at 4:30 p.m., NBC News reported.

As public health advocates had warned, the raging Ebola outbreak in West Africa has begun to affect Westerners, though the disease is difficult to spread casually.

Thursday, news broke that a freelance NBC cameraman covering the outbreak in Monrovia, Liberia had tested positive for Ebola after experiencing symptoms of the disease.

The cameraman, Ashoka Mukpo, had been working with chief medical correspondent Dr. Nancy Snyderman. NBC News is flying Mukpo and the entire team back to the U.S. so Mukpo can be treated and the team can be quarantined for 21 days.

Snyderman told MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow that she and the rest of her crew have shown no signs of the disease and have taken precautions while covering the outbreak, including washing their hands with bleach.

The crew are quarantining themselves as a precaution.

Ebola is contagious only when infected people are showing symptoms, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. People who have been exposed to Ebola will show signs of it within 21 days of exposure, the CDC said.

“There is no risk to people who have been in contact with those who have been sick with Ebola and recovered, or people who have been exposed and have not yet shown symptoms,” said Dr. Thomas Frieden of the CDC.

On Tuesday, the CDC confirmed the first case of Ebola to be diagnosed in the United States. The patient, Thomas Eric Duncan, flew from his hometown of Monrovia, Liberia, and through Brussels, Belgium on Sept. 20 before entering the United States via Washington Dulles International Airport in Virginia. He then traveled on to Dallas-Fort Worth.

Duncan, a Liberian man with family in the United States, first went to Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Sept. 25 but was sent home. He returned to the hospital via ambulance Sunday.

On Friday, he was listed in serious but stable condition.

http://www.nbcwashington.com/news/local/Patient-With-Ebola-Like-Symptoms-Being-Treated-at-Howard-University-Hospital-278025181.html

U.S. Ebola Screening Widens

Officials Say About 100 Individuals Will Be Monitored for Potential Exposure

The number of people in Texas who are being screened for potential exposure to Ebola expanded to approximately 100, and four members of a family close to the U.S. patient were ordered to remain in their Dallas home. (Photo: AP)

The number of people in Texas who are being screened for potential exposure to Ebola expanded Thursday to roughly 100, as health officials cast a wide net to try to prevent the one confirmed case of the disease from sparking an outbreak.

Four members of a family close to Thomas Eric Duncan, the Liberian man diagnosed with the virus, were ordered to remain in their Dallas home and not receive any visitors until at least Oct. 19, to pass the 21-day maximum incubation period for the often-deadly disease.

The 100 people being screened represent a “very wide net,” including some who possibly had brief encounters with Mr. Duncan, Texas health officials said. They added that the number is likely to drop as they narrow the list to those actually at potential risk of infection.

Thursday, an American freelance journalist in Liberia tested positive for the disease, his father and his employer, NBC News, said. The 33-year-old man is tentatively scheduled to be transported back to the U.S. on Sunday.

In Mr. Duncan’s case, Tom Frieden, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said officials so far have identified only “a handful” of individuals who may have had close contact with him.

The public health search comes as authorities in Liberia grapple with how Mr. Duncan managed to leave their country and bring Ebola to the U.S. despite government efforts to stop transmission of the virus, a journey that took him from a neighborhood of tin-roof houses in a West African capital to an isolation ward at a Dallas hospital.

Before traveling to Texas via Belgium, Mr. Duncan escorted a woman to a treatment ward in Liberia’s capital, Monrovia, where she was turned away and died of the virus within hours, said Irene Seyou, Mr. Duncan’s next-door neighbor.

In a community near where U.S. victim Thomas Eric Duncan lived in Monrovia, many have died and children are worried they will be taken away. Glenna Gordon for The Wall Street Journal

On Sept. 16, several health workers arrived in Mr. Duncan’s neighborhood in Monrovia to investigate a report that a pregnant 18-year-old woman, recently sent home from a nearby clinic, had shown Ebola symptoms that included vomiting, diarrhea and bleeding, said Prince Toe and other members of the Ebola Response Team in the capital’s 72nd community.

But when the team arrived in the neighborhood, residents insisted the pregnant teenager had been in a car accident, said Mr. Toe, the unit’s supervisor. When the neighbors grew rowdy at being pressed for information, the team turned back, he said.

At Liberia’s airport, the temperatures of arriving and departing passengers are checked three times by security guards—at the entrance, before the check-in desk and at the metal detectors—to screen out those who display Ebola’s hallmark early symptom, a fever.

Passengers are asked to fill out questionnaires about whether they had been in contact with any Ebola victims. Mr. Duncan lied on those forms—and would be prosecuted for doing so if he returns to Liberia—the Associated Press reported Liberia’s government as saying Thursday.

Mr. Duncan is in an isolation unit at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas, which initially sent him home with antibiotics after he complained of illness, only to accept him on Sunday after he returned in an ambulance. Hospital officials have since conceded that they erred by not taking him in initially after he mentioned his symptoms and country of origin.

Hospital officials said Thursday that Mr. Duncan’s condition continued to be serious. Dr. Frieden of the CDC said Mr. Duncan’s physicians were discussing the possible use of experimental treatments with his family.

Edward Goodman, Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital’s epidemiologist, said the team of doctors treating Mr. Duncan has received guidelines from the CDC but that there is no specific treatment for Ebola other than supportive measures, such as keeping the patient well hydrated to avoid organ damage and supplying oxygen.

Most of the 100 people Texas is tracking for potential Ebola exposure haven’t been ordered to stay home. Officials said they ordered four of Mr. Duncan’s family members to remain in their home because the family disobeyed their request to stay there. They said the family, which was examined Thursday, hadn’t developed any symptoms. A law enforcement official is stationed outside their apartment to make sure they don’t leave.

Ebola is a highly contagious virus, but only if you come into contact with certain bodily fluids of those infected. What do scientists know about how it’s transmitted? WSJ’s Jason Bellini has #TheShortAnswer.

Judge Clay Jenkins, the highest elected official in Dallas County, said there were no plans to issue similar orders for other people. Local and state health officials said they had delivered groceries to the family and were arranging for a contractor to clean the apartment. Mr. Jenkins said it appeared that sealed bags filled with Mr. Duncan’s belongings, including his clothes and sheets, were still inside, and that the family had pushed mattresses against the wall.

Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings sought to assure the public that the risk of contagion was minimal. “We’re getting the word out and people are starting to understand what has happened,” he said.

Still, at schools attended by five children who came into contact with Mr. Duncan, attendance was down to 86% from the 95% level that is normal, said Mike Miles, superintendent of the Dallas Independent School District, who added that custodians were doing extra cleaning.

While officials sought to control the panic over Ebola in Texas, some people who had come into contact with Mr. Duncan wondered why he hadn’t received treatment sooner.

Joe Joe Jallah said he met Mr. Duncan last week when visiting Mr. Jallah’s former wife, Louise Troh, the same woman Mr. Duncan had come to see in the U.S.

Ms. Troh declined to speak about the situation when reached by phone.

Mr. Jallah, who has a daughter with Ms. Troh, said he listened as Mr. Duncan described how dire things had become in Liberia, and how rigorous the health screenings were during his trip to the U.S.

Several days later, on Saturday, Mr. Jallah said he heard that Mr. Duncan had fallen ill at Ms. Troh’s apartment. Concerned, Mr. Jallah went back.

“He was lying down on the floor with a comforter. He said he was sick and that he had no appetite,” Mr. Jallah said.

“I said, ‘Did you go to the hospital?’ He said, ‘Yes, but they did nothing for me,’” Mr. Jallah recalled. “I said, ‘You should eat so you can gain strength.’”

The next day, Mr. Jallah said he returned after his daughter, Youngor Jallah, a nurse’s aide who visits her mother frequently, called, sounding frantic and saying that Mr. Duncan was still sick.

Ms. Jallah said Mr. Duncan had been up all night with diarrhea. His eyes were red, he seemed exhausted and had no appetite for the breakfast she made. He tried to drink some tea. Ms. Jallah took his temperature and it was 104, she said.

Ms. Jallah decided to call an ambulance. When emergency workers came, she informed them that Mr. Duncan was sick and had traveled to Dallas from a virus stricken-region in Africa. The workers put masks over their faces.

Ms. Jallah said she has since been told she and her family must stay in their home for 17 more days.

“I am concerned for myself. When I took his blood pressure, I never had no protection. I worry about my kids. My kids were over there with my mom,” she said.

“I am worried about him too,” she added.

http://online.wsj.com/articles/u-s-ebola-screening-grows-1412293227?mod=WSJ_hpp_sections_health

Michael Osterholm

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Michael T. Osterholm, Ph.D., M.P.H., is a prominent public health scientist and a nationally recognized biosecurity expert in the United States.[1] Osterholm is the director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy (CIDRAP) at the University of Minnesota, a professor in the School of Public Health, and an adjunct professor in the University of Minnesota Medical School.[2]

Career

From 1975 to 1999, Osterholm served in various roles at the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH), including as state epidemiologist and Chief of the Acute Disease Epidemiology Section from 1984 to 1999. While at the MDH, Osterholm strengthened the departments role in infectious disease epidemiology, notably including numerous foodborne disease outbreaks, the association between tampons and toxic shock syndrome (TSS), and the transmission of hepatitis B and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) in healthcare workers. Other work included studies regarding the epidemiology of infectious diseases in child-care settings, vaccine-preventable diseases (particularly Haemophilus influenzae type b and hepatitis B), Lyme disease, and other emerging and re-emerging infections.

From 2001 through early 2005, Osterholm, in addition to his role at CIDRAP, served as a Special Advisor to then–HHS Secretary Tommy G. Thompson on issues related to bioterrorism and public health preparedness. In April 2002, Osterholm was appointed to the interim management team to lead the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), until the eventual appointment of Julie Gerberding as director.

Osterholm was appointed by Michael Leavitt, Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), to the National Science Advisory Board on Biosecurity in 2005.

Biosecurity

Osterholm has been particularly outspoken on the lack of international prepardness for an influenza pandemic.[3][4] Osterholm has also been an international leader against the use of biological agents as weapons targeted toward civilians.

Other

Osterholm serves on the editorial boards of five journals, and is a reviewer for another two dozen. He is a past president of the Council of State and Territorial Epidemiologists (CSTE) and has served on the CDC National Center for Infectious Diseases Board of Scientific Counselors from 1992 to 1997.

Osterholm serves on the IOM Forum on Emerging Infections. He has served on the IOM Committee on Emerging Microbial Threats to Health in the 21st Century and the IOM Committee on Food Safety, Production to Consumption, and he was a reviewer for the IOM Report on Chemical and Biological Terrorism. He is a frequent consultant to the World Health Organization (WHO), the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the Department of Defense, and the CDC.

Honors

Osterholm has received numerous honors for his work, including an honorary doctorate from Luther College, and is a member of the Institute of Medicine of theNational Academy of Sciences.

References

  1. Jump up^ “Plague War: Interviews: Michael Osterholm”. Frontline. PBS. 1998-10-01. Retrieved 2008-07-02.
  2. Jump up^ “Global Conference 2006″. Milken Institute. 2006-04-24. Retrieved 2008-07-01.
  3. Jump up^ “Renewed warning over flu pandemic”. BBC News. 2005-05-25. Retrieved 2008-07-01.
  4. Jump up^ Osterholm MT (May 2005). “Preparing for the next pandemic”. N. Engl. J. Med. 352 (18): 1839–42. doi:10.1056/NEJMp058068. PMID 15872196. Retrieved 2008-07-02.

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Obama Spreading Communicable Diseases Across United States With Illegal Aliens in Schools and Communities– TB, Virus, Ebola — What’s Next? — Pandemic! — Videos

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Story 1: Obama Spreading Communicable Diseases Across United States With Illegal Aliens in Schools and Communities– TB, Virus, Ebola — What’s Next? — Pandemic! — Videos

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Story 1: When Will Obama Close United States Airports and Borders To Flights and Travelers From Ebola Virus Disease Infected Countries Such As Liberia, Guinea, Sierra Leone and Nigeria? Time To Follow Saudi Arabia’s Stringent Ebola Checks! — Videos

 

Obama Just Endangered 250 Million Americans, UNBELIEVABLE!

Aerosolizing ONE DROP of EBOLA = 1/2 MILLION DEAD

NIH Wants Blood From ‘NATURALLY’ Exposed Ebola Survivors in Congo

Dallas Ebola Victim Acquired His Infection On His Aircraft +50% Probability

Pestilence : Mutating Airborne Ebola Virus Diagnosed inside the US for the first time (Oct 02, 2014)

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DALLAS EBOLA WARNING, AIRBORNE RISK HIGH.

The Secret Ebola Open Border Connection Revealed: Special Report

Saudi Arabia Stringent Ebola checks for 3 million Haj pilgrims – LoneWolf Sager

Ebola – What You’re Not Being Told

SOMETHING ‘NEVER SEEN BEFORE’ IS COMING TO AMERICA (GLOBAL PANDEMIC)

Officials Monitor Contacts of Ebola Patient in Texas

Ebola: The Gear Worn To Prevent Infection

Up to 100 possibly exposed to U.S. Ebola patient; four isolated

Shocking! Over 80 Possible Ebola Victims in Dallas

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Ebola in Texas – Ebola outbreak 2014 Texas Ebola Patient Thomas Duncan Virus Timeline!

Ebola Virus Symptoms | Ebola Virus effects on Human Body

Ebola Unleashed: Bioweapons 101

Saudi Arabia bans Haj pilgrims from Ebola hotspots

Ebola’s spread to US “inevitable”

Patient with Ebola-like symptoms in Washington D.C. at Howard University Hospital

Ebola In D.C. Patient With Ebola Like Symptons At Howard University Hospital

Patient Showing Signs of Ebola Reportedly Quarantined in D.C. Hospital

Ebola crisis: United States patient’s flat cleaned by specialists

Washington DC hospital admits patient with possible Ebola Virus US – Ebola Patients In DC 10/3/2014!

Saudi Arabia’s first suspected Ebola victim dies, as death tolls tops 900

Ebola Outbreak: Saudi Arabia Bans Guinea, Sierra Leone, Liberia From Hajj

Suspected Ebola victim dies in Saudi Arabia.

Ebola-Infected Patient Escapes Quarantine In Search Of Food

U.S. Democrat Congressman Demands Travel Ban From Ebola Infected Countries

SOMETHING ‘NEVER SEEN BEFORE’ IS COMING TO AMERICA (GLOBAL PANDEMIC)

Michael Osterholm on the Bird Flu in China

Pandemic Influenza: Science, Economics, and Foreign Policy: Session Two: The Economics

Watch experts analyze the economic effects of pandemic influenza including on the labor force and trade.
This session was part of a CFR symposium, Pandemic Influenza: Science, Economics, and Foreign Policy, which was cosponsored with Science Magazine.

SPEAKERS:
Yanzhong Huang, Director, Center for Global Health Studies, Seton Hall University
Andrew Jack, Pharmaceutical Correspondent, Financial Times
Michael T. Osterholm, Director, Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy (CIDRAP), University of Minnesota (via teleconference)
PRESIDER:
Robert E. Rubin, Co-Chair, Council on Foreign Relations; Former U.S. Secretary of the Treasury

 

Saudi Arabia bans Ebola-stricken countries from hajj pilgrimage

With the arrival of approximately two million people from around the world in Saudi Arabia for the annual hajj pilgrimage, there are a group of pilgrims who were not welcomed.

The Saudi government has banned the entry of travelers from three countries currently dealing with the Ebola epidemic: Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone. The decision to reject visa requests from these countries has affected 7,400 people, according to the Associated Press.

Hospitals in Saudi Arabia are also preparing in the event of an outbreak by setting up isolation and surgery units as well as dispatching medical staff to airports.

Despite banning pilgrim seekers from West Africa, Saudi officials are granting visas to pilgrims travelling from Nigeria. Saudi Arabia’s King Abdulaziz International Airport has provided them with two exclusive lounges as a precaution.

“So far 118,000 pilgrims have arrived by air from Nigeria. There was not a single suspected case of the deadly virus among anyone of them,” said Abdul Ghani Al-Malki, supervisor of hajj affairs at the airport.

Saudi officials have also been closely monitoring incoming flights from Kenya, Congo and other countries with reported cases of Ebola. Al-Malki told the local Saudi Gazettethat airport’s health inspection center ensured that planes and their passengers were not only free of Ebola, but other contagious diseases as well. “We have double-checked the papers that prove the airplanes had been sprayed twice before taking off to their destinations.”

The current death toll from Ebola in West Africa rose to 3,338, according to the World Health Organization report released Wednesday.

http://www.pbs.org/newshour/rundown/saudi-arabia-bans-pilgrims-ebola-stricken-countriespilgrims-ebola-stricken-countries-banned-hajj/

 

Saudi Arabia plays down Ebola concern for Hajj pilgrimage

Some in the crowd wore face masks – a possible precaution over Ebola fears

Two million Muslims have begun the annual Hajj pilgrimage, a five-day ritual central to Islam.

This year there have been concerns pilgrims may spread the contagious diseases Ebola and MERS.

Saudi Arabia, where the Hajj takes place, played down fears on Ebola, having banned pilgrims from Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia.

Their decision has excluded 7,400 Muslims, though it is estimated that 1.4m of the pilgrims are international.

Some of the numbers involved in 2014’s Hajj – in 60 seconds

Saudi Arabia has claimed this year’s Hajj is Ebola free as pilgrims flooded into Mina, 5km (three miles) from the holy city of Mecca, for the start of the pilgrimage.

As well as refusing visas to those from the three countries worst hit by Ebola, Saudi authorities asked all visitors to fill out medical screening cards and detail their travels over the past three weeks.

But Ebola is not the only disease concerning the Saudi government.

MERS, or Middle East Respiratory Syndrome, hit Saudi Arabia badly in the spring of this year.

Since 2012, there have been more than 750 cases of MERS in the country. Of this total 319 people died, some of whom were health workers.

Grey line

The meaning of Hajj

Pilgrims walk around the Kaaba in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, archivePilgrims walk around the Kaaba in Mecca, the building is the most sacred place in Islam and the direction of prayer for Muslims
  • Hajj is an annual five-day pilgrimage which all able-bodied Muslims are required to perform at least once in their lives, if they can afford it
  • It is the fifth and final pillar of Islam and is supposed to cleanse Muslims of sin and bring them closer to each other and God
  • The pilgrims, or Hajjis, wear simple white garments called “ihram” which give them all equal status
  • Those going on the hajj are required to abstain from sex, not to argue, kill anything or hunt and to avoid shaving and cutting their nails
  • Pilgrims perform several rituals during the hajj including walking counter-clockwise seven times around the Kaaba in Mecca, drinking from the Zam Zam Well and performing a symbolic stoning of the devil.

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-29461229

Will Airborne Ebola Become A Modern Global Plague?

The last several months have led to much confusion about the spread of the Ebola virus. Health officials and governments first denied that a serious threat existed and took no significant action to prevent its spread outside of West Africa. Then, after it had made it’s way to six different countries in the region, officials at the World Health Organization and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control started to panic. Apathy gave way to the real fear that we were facing a virus on a whole different scale than ever before.

At its current rate, some mathematical models show that the virus could infect anywhere from 20,000 to 100,000 by the end of the year, with over 4,000 people worldwide having been infected thus far. About 2,300 people, over 50% of those who have contracted it, have died.

Fired Up Obama to Immigration Activists: ‘No Force On Earth Can Stop Us’

‘Si se puede, si votamos! Yes, we can, if we vote!’

 BY DANIEL HALPER

A fired up President Barack Obama had a message to immigration activists at a dinner this evening in Washington, D.C.: “no force on earth can stop us.”

 

“The clearest path to change is to change [the voter turnout] number,” said Obama “Si se puede, si votamos! Yes, we can, if we vote!”

“You know, earlier this year, I had a chance to host a screening of the film Cesar Chavez at the White House, and I was reminded that Cesar organized for nearly 20 years before his first major victory. He never saw that time as a failure. Looking back, he said, I remember the families who joined our movement and paid dues long before there was any hope of winning contracts. I remember thinking then that with spirit like that, no force on earth could stop us.

“That’s the promise of America then and that’s the promise of America now. People who love this country can change it. America isn’t Congress. America isn’t Washington. America is the striving immigrant who starts a business or the mom who works two low-wage jobs to give her kids a better life. America is the union leader and the CEO who put aside their differences to make the economy stronger. America is the student who defies the odds to become the first in the family to go to college. The citizen who defies the cynics and goes out there and votes. The young person who comes out of the shadows to demand the right to dream. That’s what America is about.

“And six years ago, I asked you to believe, and tonight, I ask you to keep believing, not just in my ability to bring about change, but in your ability to bring about change. Because in the end, DREAMer is more than just a title, it’s a pretty good description of what it means to be an American.

http://engine.4dsply.com/Bridge/Index?width=850&height=650&url=%2FRedirect.engine%3FPerformanceTest%3Dnull%26MediaId%3D15307%26PId%3D17982%26MediaSegmentId%3D11932%26PoolId%3D26%26SiteId%3D523%26ZoneId%3D2029%26Country%3DUnited%20States%26Bid%3D10.57807%26MaxBid%3D16%26currentUrl%3Dhttp%253A%252F%252Fwww.weeklystandard.com%252Fblogs%252Ffired-obama-immigration-activists-no-force-earth-can-stop-us_808488.html

 

Patient Being Evaluated for Possible Ebola at D.C.’s Howard University Hospital

A patient with Ebola-like symptoms who had recently traveled to Nigeria is being treated at Howard University Hospital in Washington, D.C., a hospital spokesperson confirmed late Friday morning.

That person has been admitted to the hospital in stable condition and is isolated. The medical team is working with the CDC and other authorities to monitor the patient’s condition.

“In an abundance of caution, we have activated the appropriate infection control protocols, including isolating the patient,” said hospital spokesperson Kerry-Ann Hamilton in a statement. “Our medical team continues to evaluate and monitor progress in close collaboration with the CDC and the Department of Health.”

Hamilton did not share further details about the patient, citing privacy reasons, but said the hospital will provide updates as warranted.

The D.C. Department of Health released a statement shortly before 1 p.m. Wednesday, saying that the department has been working with the CDC and Howard University Hospital to monitor “any patients displaying symptoms associated with the Ebola virus.”

There are no confirmed cases of Ebola in D.C., said the statement.

At Shady Grove Adventist Hospital in Rockville, Maryland, a patient is in isolation with “flu-like symptoms and a travel history that matches criteria for possible Ebola,” according to a statement from the hospital. Lab results indicate the patient has another illness.

“We are working closely with the Montgomery County Health Department and State Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DHMH) as well as the CDC to manage this case and to ensure we continue to be prepared to care for patients with Ebola symptoms,” the statement said.

“We will only be making an announcement if and when there is a laboratory confirmed case, and that announcement would be made in conjunction with the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene and the CDC,” Montgomery County Department of Health and Human Services spokesperson Mary Anderson said.

The White House announced Friday that senior administration officials will hold a briefing on the U.S. government’s response to the Ebola pandemic at 4:30 p.m., NBC News reported.

As public health advocates had warned, the raging Ebola outbreak in West Africa has begun to affect Westerners, though the disease is difficult to spread casually.

Thursday, news broke that a freelance NBC cameraman covering the outbreak in Monrovia, Liberia had tested positive for Ebola after experiencing symptoms of the disease.

The cameraman, Ashoka Mukpo, had been working with chief medical correspondent Dr. Nancy Snyderman. NBC News is flying Mukpo and the entire team back to the U.S. so Mukpo can be treated and the team can be quarantined for 21 days.

Snyderman told MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow that she and the rest of her crew have shown no signs of the disease and have taken precautions while covering the outbreak, including washing their hands with bleach.

The crew are quarantining themselves as a precaution.

Ebola is contagious only when infected people are showing symptoms, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. People who have been exposed to Ebola will show signs of it within 21 days of exposure, the CDC said.

“There is no risk to people who have been in contact with those who have been sick with Ebola and recovered, or people who have been exposed and have not yet shown symptoms,” said Dr. Thomas Frieden of the CDC.

On Tuesday, the CDC confirmed the first case of Ebola to be diagnosed in the United States. The patient, Thomas Eric Duncan, flew from his hometown of Monrovia, Liberia, and through Brussels, Belgium on Sept. 20 before entering the United States via Washington Dulles International Airport in Virginia. He then traveled on to Dallas-Fort Worth.

Duncan, a Liberian man with family in the United States, first went to Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Sept. 25 but was sent home. He returned to the hospital via ambulance Sunday.

On Friday, he was listed in serious but stable condition.

http://www.nbcwashington.com/news/local/Patient-With-Ebola-Like-Symptoms-Being-Treated-at-Howard-University-Hospital-278025181.html

U.S. Ebola Screening Widens

Officials Say About 100 Individuals Will Be Monitored for Potential Exposure

The number of people in Texas who are being screened for potential exposure to Ebola expanded to approximately 100, and four members of a family close to the U.S. patient were ordered to remain in their Dallas home. (Photo: AP)

The number of people in Texas who are being screened for potential exposure to Ebola expanded Thursday to roughly 100, as health officials cast a wide net to try to prevent the one confirmed case of the disease from sparking an outbreak.

Four members of a family close to Thomas Eric Duncan, the Liberian man diagnosed with the virus, were ordered to remain in their Dallas home and not receive any visitors until at least Oct. 19, to pass the 21-day maximum incubation period for the often-deadly disease.

The 100 people being screened represent a “very wide net,” including some who possibly had brief encounters with Mr. Duncan, Texas health officials said. They added that the number is likely to drop as they narrow the list to those actually at potential risk of infection.

Thursday, an American freelance journalist in Liberia tested positive for the disease, his father and his employer, NBC News, said. The 33-year-old man is tentatively scheduled to be transported back to the U.S. on Sunday.

In Mr. Duncan’s case, Tom Frieden, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said officials so far have identified only “a handful” of individuals who may have had close contact with him.

The public health search comes as authorities in Liberia grapple with how Mr. Duncan managed to leave their country and bring Ebola to the U.S. despite government efforts to stop transmission of the virus, a journey that took him from a neighborhood of tin-roof houses in a West African capital to an isolation ward at a Dallas hospital.

Before traveling to Texas via Belgium, Mr. Duncan escorted a woman to a treatment ward in Liberia’s capital, Monrovia, where she was turned away and died of the virus within hours, said Irene Seyou, Mr. Duncan’s next-door neighbor.

In a community near where U.S. victim Thomas Eric Duncan lived in Monrovia, many have died and children are worried they will be taken away. Glenna Gordon for The Wall Street Journal

On Sept. 16, several health workers arrived in Mr. Duncan’s neighborhood in Monrovia to investigate a report that a pregnant 18-year-old woman, recently sent home from a nearby clinic, had shown Ebola symptoms that included vomiting, diarrhea and bleeding, said Prince Toe and other members of the Ebola Response Team in the capital’s 72nd community.

But when the team arrived in the neighborhood, residents insisted the pregnant teenager had been in a car accident, said Mr. Toe, the unit’s supervisor. When the neighbors grew rowdy at being pressed for information, the team turned back, he said.

At Liberia’s airport, the temperatures of arriving and departing passengers are checked three times by security guards—at the entrance, before the check-in desk and at the metal detectors—to screen out those who display Ebola’s hallmark early symptom, a fever.

Passengers are asked to fill out questionnaires about whether they had been in contact with any Ebola victims. Mr. Duncan lied on those forms—and would be prosecuted for doing so if he returns to Liberia—the Associated Press reported Liberia’s government as saying Thursday.

Mr. Duncan is in an isolation unit at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas, which initially sent him home with antibiotics after he complained of illness, only to accept him on Sunday after he returned in an ambulance. Hospital officials have since conceded that they erred by not taking him in initially after he mentioned his symptoms and country of origin.

Hospital officials said Thursday that Mr. Duncan’s condition continued to be serious. Dr. Frieden of the CDC said Mr. Duncan’s physicians were discussing the possible use of experimental treatments with his family.

Edward Goodman, Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital’s epidemiologist, said the team of doctors treating Mr. Duncan has received guidelines from the CDC but that there is no specific treatment for Ebola other than supportive measures, such as keeping the patient well hydrated to avoid organ damage and supplying oxygen.

Most of the 100 people Texas is tracking for potential Ebola exposure haven’t been ordered to stay home. Officials said they ordered four of Mr. Duncan’s family members to remain in their home because the family disobeyed their request to stay there. They said the family, which was examined Thursday, hadn’t developed any symptoms. A law enforcement official is stationed outside their apartment to make sure they don’t leave.

Ebola is a highly contagious virus, but only if you come into contact with certain bodily fluids of those infected. What do scientists know about how it’s transmitted? WSJ’s Jason Bellini has #TheShortAnswer.

Judge Clay Jenkins, the highest elected official in Dallas County, said there were no plans to issue similar orders for other people. Local and state health officials said they had delivered groceries to the family and were arranging for a contractor to clean the apartment. Mr. Jenkins said it appeared that sealed bags filled with Mr. Duncan’s belongings, including his clothes and sheets, were still inside, and that the family had pushed mattresses against the wall.

Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings sought to assure the public that the risk of contagion was minimal. “We’re getting the word out and people are starting to understand what has happened,” he said.

Still, at schools attended by five children who came into contact with Mr. Duncan, attendance was down to 86% from the 95% level that is normal, said Mike Miles, superintendent of the Dallas Independent School District, who added that custodians were doing extra cleaning.

While officials sought to control the panic over Ebola in Texas, some people who had come into contact with Mr. Duncan wondered why he hadn’t received treatment sooner.

Joe Joe Jallah said he met Mr. Duncan last week when visiting Mr. Jallah’s former wife, Louise Troh, the same woman Mr. Duncan had come to see in the U.S.

Ms. Troh declined to speak about the situation when reached by phone.

Mr. Jallah, who has a daughter with Ms. Troh, said he listened as Mr. Duncan described how dire things had become in Liberia, and how rigorous the health screenings were during his trip to the U.S.

Several days later, on Saturday, Mr. Jallah said he heard that Mr. Duncan had fallen ill at Ms. Troh’s apartment. Concerned, Mr. Jallah went back.

“He was lying down on the floor with a comforter. He said he was sick and that he had no appetite,” Mr. Jallah said.

“I said, ‘Did you go to the hospital?’ He said, ‘Yes, but they did nothing for me,’” Mr. Jallah recalled. “I said, ‘You should eat so you can gain strength.’”

The next day, Mr. Jallah said he returned after his daughter, Youngor Jallah, a nurse’s aide who visits her mother frequently, called, sounding frantic and saying that Mr. Duncan was still sick.

Ms. Jallah said Mr. Duncan had been up all night with diarrhea. His eyes were red, he seemed exhausted and had no appetite for the breakfast she made. He tried to drink some tea. Ms. Jallah took his temperature and it was 104, she said.

Ms. Jallah decided to call an ambulance. When emergency workers came, she informed them that Mr. Duncan was sick and had traveled to Dallas from a virus stricken-region in Africa. The workers put masks over their faces.

Ms. Jallah said she has since been told she and her family must stay in their home for 17 more days.

“I am concerned for myself. When I took his blood pressure, I never had no protection. I worry about my kids. My kids were over there with my mom,” she said.

“I am worried about him too,” she added.

http://online.wsj.com/articles/u-s-ebola-screening-grows-1412293227?mod=WSJ_hpp_sections_health

Michael Osterholm

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Michael T. Osterholm, Ph.D., M.P.H., is a prominent public health scientist and a nationally recognized biosecurity expert in the United States.[1] Osterholm is the director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy (CIDRAP) at the University of Minnesota, a professor in the School of Public Health, and an adjunct professor in the University of Minnesota Medical School.[2]

Career

From 1975 to 1999, Osterholm served in various roles at the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH), including as state epidemiologist and Chief of the Acute Disease Epidemiology Section from 1984 to 1999. While at the MDH, Osterholm strengthened the departments role in infectious disease epidemiology, notably including numerous foodborne disease outbreaks, the association between tampons and toxic shock syndrome (TSS), and the transmission of hepatitis B and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) in healthcare workers. Other work included studies regarding the epidemiology of infectious diseases in child-care settings, vaccine-preventable diseases (particularly Haemophilus influenzae type b and hepatitis B), Lyme disease, and other emerging and re-emerging infections.

From 2001 through early 2005, Osterholm, in addition to his role at CIDRAP, served as a Special Advisor to then–HHS Secretary Tommy G. Thompson on issues related to bioterrorism and public health preparedness. In April 2002, Osterholm was appointed to the interim management team to lead the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), until the eventual appointment of Julie Gerberding as director.

Osterholm was appointed by Michael Leavitt, Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), to the National Science Advisory Board on Biosecurity in 2005.

Biosecurity

Osterholm has been particularly outspoken on the lack of international prepardness for an influenza pandemic.[3][4] Osterholm has also been an international leader against the use of biological agents as weapons targeted toward civilians.

Other

Osterholm serves on the editorial boards of five journals, and is a reviewer for another two dozen. He is a past president of the Council of State and Territorial Epidemiologists (CSTE) and has served on the CDC National Center for Infectious Diseases Board of Scientific Counselors from 1992 to 1997.

Osterholm serves on the IOM Forum on Emerging Infections. He has served on the IOM Committee on Emerging Microbial Threats to Health in the 21st Century and the IOM Committee on Food Safety, Production to Consumption, and he was a reviewer for the IOM Report on Chemical and Biological Terrorism. He is a frequent consultant to the World Health Organization (WHO), the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the Department of Defense, and the CDC.

Honors

Osterholm has received numerous honors for his work, including an honorary doctorate from Luther College, and is a member of the Institute of Medicine of theNational Academy of Sciences.

References

  1. Jump up^ “Plague War: Interviews: Michael Osterholm”. Frontline. PBS. 1998-10-01. Retrieved 2008-07-02.
  2. Jump up^ “Global Conference 2006″. Milken Institute. 2006-04-24. Retrieved 2008-07-01.
  3. Jump up^ “Renewed warning over flu pandemic”. BBC News. 2005-05-25. Retrieved 2008-07-01.
  4. Jump up^ Osterholm MT (May 2005). “Preparing for the next pandemic”. N. Engl. J. Med. 352 (18): 1839–42. doi:10.1056/NEJMp058068. PMID 15872196. Retrieved 2008-07-02.

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First Case of Ebola in United States of America in Dallas, Texas — Videos

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Story 1: First Case of Ebola in United States of America in Dallas, Texas — Videos

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Ebola Dallas Hospitaltexas_hospitalpresb_hospital

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BREAKING! FIRST EBOLA CASE DIAGNOSED IN THE U.S.! NOW AT DALLAS TEXAS HOSPITAL!

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As Ebola confirmed in U.S., CDC vows: ‘We’re stopping it in its tracks’

Months after the deadliest Ebola outbreak in history began ravaging West African countries, a man who flew from Liberia to Dallas became the first case of Ebola to be diagnosed in the United States.

Health officials stressed that they are confident they can control this situation and keep the virus from spreading in the U.S.

“We’re stopping it in its tracks in this country,” Thomas Frieden, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, declared during a news conference Tuesday afternoon.

The man who is infected, who was not identified, left Liberia on Sept. 19 and arrived in the U.S. the following day to visit family members. Health officials are working to identify everyone who may have been exposed to this man. Frieden said this covered just a “handful” of people, a group that will be watched for three weeks to see if any symptoms emerge.

“The bottom line here is that I have no doubt that we will control this importation, or this case of Ebola, so that it does not spread widely in this country,” Frieden said. “It is certainly possible that someone who had contact with this individual could develop Ebola in the coming weeks. But there is no doubt in my mind that we will stop it here.”

 

There were more than 6,500 reported cases of Ebola in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone as of Tuesday, and the crisis has been blamed for more than 3,000 deaths, according to the World Health Organization. Ebola was first identified in 1976, and the current outbreak in West Africa is considered the largest and most complex in the history of the virus, with more cases and deaths than every other outbreak combined.

Until now, the only known cases of Ebola in the U.S. involved American doctors and aid workers who were infected and returned to the country for treatment. One of them, Richard Sacra, was discharged last week from a Nebraska hospital. Days later, the National Institutes of Health in Bethesdaadmitted an American physician who was exposed to the Ebola virus in Sierra Leone. There were reports of possible Ebola patients in New York,California, New Mexico and Miami, but all of them tested negative for the virus.

The unidentified person with Ebola is being treated in intensive care at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas, according to Edward Goodman, the hospital’s epidemiologist.

People who traveled on the same plane as this man are not in danger because he had his temperature checked before the flight and was not symptomatic at the time, Frieden said. Ebola is only contagious if the person has symptoms, and can be spread through bodily fluids or infected animals but not through the air.

“There is zero risk of transmission on the flight,” Frieden said.

 

Still, the fact that the disease has been confirmed on American soil immediately sparked fears in the U.S., turning a public health crisis from a faraway news story to something that makes people reach for Purell and facemasks. But experts said it was impossible to imagine that Ebola, which a CDC estimate projects could infect up to half a million people by January, would remain completely outside the country’s borders.

“It was inevitable once the outbreak exploded,” said Thomas Geisbert, a professor at the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston, who has researched the Ebola virus for decades. “Unless you were going to shut down to shut down airports and keep people from leaving [West Africa], it’s hard to stop somebody from getting on a plane.”

But Geisbert quickly underscored how unlikely the virus is to spread in the United States. For starters, he said, officials placed the sick man in quarantine quickly in order to isolate him from potentially infecting others. In addition, health workers are already contacting and monitoring any other people he might have had contact with in recent days.

Two Dallas Fire-Rescue paramedics and one paramedic intern are being monitored for Ebola symptoms after transporting the patient to the hospital. The three EMS workers will remain at home for 21 days, Dallas Fire-Rescue Lt. Joel Lavender said Tuesday night. Their ambulance was decontaminated after they transported the patient, Lavender said.

“The system that was put in place worked the way it was supposed to work,” Geisbert said.

That doesn’t guarantee that no one else will get infected, because the sick person could have transmitted the disease to someone else before being isolated. But that approach almost certainly ensures that the United States will quickly contain the disease.

The deadliest Ebola outbreak in history is centered in the West African countries of Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea, though there is a separate outbreak in Congo. Unlike in West Africa, where the affected countries have fragile or barely existent health care systems, where people are being turned away from treatment centers, where family members are caring directly with those sick and dying from Ebola, the U.S. is far more equipped to isolate anyone with the virus and provide the highest level of care.

For months, the CDC has been conducting briefings for hospitals and clinicians about the proper protocol for diagnosing patients suspected of having the virus, as well as the kinds of infection control measures to manage hospitalized patients known or suspected of having the disease. Many procedures involve the same types of infection control that major hospitals are already supposed to have in place.

Early recognition is a critical element of infection control. Symptoms include fever greater than 101.5 degrees Fahrenheit, severe headache, muscle pain, vomiting, diarrhea and contact within 21 days before onset of symptoms with the blood or other bodily fluids or human remains of someone known or suspected of having the disease or travel to an area where transmission is active.

The CDC also has scheduled more training for U.S. workers who either plan on volunteering in West Africa or want to be prepared in the event that cases surface at their own hospitals.

President Obama spoke with Frieden on Tuesday afternoon regarding the way the patient is being isolated and the efforts to scour the man’s contacts to seek out any potential other cases, the White House said.

Frieden said during the news conference that the man who is infected did not develop symptoms until about four days after arriving in the country. This man sought medical treatment on Friday, two days after symptoms developed, but was evaluated and released. He was admitted to the hospital on Sunday before being placed into isolation. Frieden, who would not say if the man was a U.S. citizen, said the man is not believed to have been working as part of the response to the Ebola outbreak.

David Lakey, head of the Texas Department of Health Services, said the state’s laboratory in Austin, Tex., received a blood sample from the patient on Tuesday morning and confirmed the presence of Ebola several hours later. This laboratory was certified to do Ebola testing last month.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/to-your-health/wp/2014/09/30/cdc-confirms-first-case-of-ebola-in-the-u-s/

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Drone Warfare — Videos

Posted on August 2, 2014. Filed under: American History, Blogroll, Bomb, Books, Communications, Computers, Constitution, Crime, Crisis, Data, Diasters, Documentary, Drones, Drug Cartels, Federal Communications Commission, Federal Government, Films, Foreign Policy, Freedom, Friends, Genocide, government, government spending, Heroes, history, Homicide, Islam, Language, Law, liberty, Life, Links, media, Missiles, National Security Agency (NSA_, Natural Gas, Oil, People, Philosophy, Photos, Politics, Press, Psychology, Radio, Radio, Rants, Raves, Resources, Security, Strategy, Talk Radio, Technology, Terrorism, Transportation, Video, War, Weapons | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , |

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Peter Brimelow — Alien Nation: Common Sense About America’s Immigration Disaster — Videos

Posted on July 21, 2014. Filed under: American History, Blogroll, Books, British History, Business, Catholic Church, Communications, Computers, Demographics, Diasters, Economics, Employment, Family, Federal Government, Foreign Policy, Freedom, Friends, government spending, history, Illegal, Immigration, IRS, Islam, Language, Law, Legal, liberty, Life, Links, Literacy, media, Medicine, Natural Gas, Non-Fiction, Oil, People, Philosophy, Photos, Politics, Press, Psychology, Public Sector, Rants, Raves, Regulations, Religion, Resources, Reviews, Security, Shite, Strategy, Sunni, Talk Radio, Taxes, Technology, Terrorism, Unemployment, Unions, Video, War, Water, Wealth, Weather, Welfare, Wisdom | Tags: , , , , , , , |

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VDARE.com

What Price Mass Immigration – Peter Brimelow Introduction

 

Peter Brimelow of VDare on How Republican Party Has to be More White

Alien Nation: America’s Immigration Disaster

Mr. Brimelow discussed his book Alien Nation: Common Sense About America’s Immigration Disaster, published by Random House. The book focuses on U.S. immigration policy and cycles of control on immigration. Mr. Brimelow argues that legislation passed in 1965 has resulted in negative trends in immigration to the United States, including an influx of immigrants from a very few countries that he says are engulfing America. The author says that the latest immigration wave consists of immigrants who are less educated, less skilled, and less likely to share American ideals, which he argues is a detriment to American culture.

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Militarization of Police Departments and SWAT Team in America — Who is the enemy? The American People — War on Drugs — War on Terror — War on Americans — Videos

Posted on June 28, 2014. Filed under: American History, Blogroll, Business, College, Communications, Computers, Drones, Economics, Education, Employment, Family, Federal Government, Federal Government Budget, Fiscal Policy, Freedom, government spending, history, Investments, Law, liberty, Life, media, People, Philosophy, Pistols, Politics, Psychology, Rants, Raves, Regulations, Resources, Rifles, Talk Radio, Tax Policy, Technology, Terrorism, Unemployment, Video, War, Weapons, Welfare, Wisdom, Writing | Tags: , , , , , , , , |

 

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Nestled awkwardly among the usual guff, the outrage website Salon this week took a welcome flyer and accorded space to something genuinely alarming. “A SWAT team,” the headline screamed, “blew a hole in my 2-year-old son.” For once, this wasn’t hyperbole.

The piece’s author, Alecia Phonesavanh, described what it felt like to be on the business end of an attack that was launched in error by police who believed a drug dealer to be living and operating in her house. They “threw a flashbang grenade inside,” she reported. It “landed in my son’s crib.” Now, her son is “covered in burns” and has “a hole in his chest that exposes his ribs.” So badly injured was he by the raid that he was “placed into a medically induced coma.” “They searched for drugs,” Phonesavanh confirmed, but they “never found any.” Nor, for that matter, did they find the person they were looking for. He doesn’t live there. “All of this,” she asks, “to find a small amount of drugs?”

 

Historians looking back at this period in America’s development will consider it to be profoundly odd that at the exact moment when violent crime hit a 50-year low, the nation’s police departments began to gear up as if the country were expecting invasion — and, on occasion, to behave as if one were underway. The ACLU reported recently that SWAT teams in the United States conduct around 45,000 raids each year, only 7 percent of which have anything whatsoever to do with the hostage situations with which those teams were assembled to contend. Paramilitary operations, the ACLU concluded, are “happening in about 124 homes every day — or more likely every night” — and four in five of those are performed in order that authorities might “search homes, usually for drugs.” Such raids routinely involve “armored personnel carriers,” “military equipment like battering rams,” and “flashbang grenades.”

 

Were the military being used in such a manner, we would be rightly outraged. Why not here? Certainly this is not a legal matter. The principle of posse comitatus draws a valuable distinction between the national armed forces and parochial law enforcement, and one that all free people should greatly cherish. Still, it seems plain that the potential threat posed by a domestic standing army is not entirely blunted just because its units are controlled locally. To add the prefix “para” to a problem is not to make it go away, nor do legal distinctions change the nature of power. Over the past two decades, the federal government has happily sent weapons of war to local law enforcement, with nary a squeak from anyone involved with either political party. Are we comfortable with this?

The Right’s silence on the issue is vexing indeed, the admirable attempts of a few libertarians notwithstanding. Here, conservatives seem to be conflicted between their rightful predilection for law and order — an instinct that is based upon an accurate comprehension of human nature and an acknowledgment of the existence of evil — and a well-developed and wholly sensible fear of state power, predicated upon precisely the same thing. As of now, the former is rather dramatically winning out, leading conservatives to indulge — or at least tacitly to permit — excuses that they typically reject elsewhere. Much as the teachers’ unions invariably attempt to justify their “anything goes” contracts by pointing to the ends that they ostensibly serve (“Well you do want schools for the children or don’t you? Sign here”), the increasingly muscular behavior of local police departments is often shrugged off as a by-product of the need to fight crime. This, if left unchecked, is a recipe for precisely the sort of carte blanche that conservatives claim to fear.

Leaving aside the central moral question of the War on Drugs — which is whether the state should be responding to peaceful transactions and consensual behavior with violence — there is, it seems, considerable room between law enforcement’s turning a blind eye to the law and its aping the military in its attempt to uphold it. The cartels of Mexico and drug lords of America’s larger cities are one thing; but two-bit dealers and consumers of illicit substances are quite another. In the instance that Salon recorded, the person that authorities “were looking for, wasn’t there.” “He doesn’t even live in that house,” Phonesavanh confirmed. But suppose that he had, and that he’d been dealing drugs as charged? Does this alone make the case for the tactics? I suspect not. Instead, attempting to catch a violator in the act by releasing military vehicles full of machine-gun-wielding men, storming a home in the dead of night, and performing a no-knock raid that results in a two-year-old’s being pushed into a coma might, one suspects, be overkill — in many similar cases, literally so. The question for conservatives should be this: If cowboy poetry is no justification for federal intrusion, can drug dealing be said to serve as an open invitation for the deployment of the ersatz 101st?

In the more febrile of the Right’s quarters, the sight of MRAPs being delivered to the chief of police in Westington, Mont., has given rise to all forms of regrettable silliness — to visions of black helicopters and reeducation camps and an America on the verge of being taken by force by the gun-toting rangers of the Fish and Wildlife Service. Nevertheless, a small amount of latent paranoia has served America well, and Chekhov’s advice that “one must not put a loaded rifle on the stage if no one is thinking of firing it” should be applied to governments as rigorously as to aspiring playwrights. Once the holders of the monopoly on violence are accorded the latest weaponry, there will always be the temptation to use it. Likewise, once one has taken the mental and linguistic leap of ascribing to domestic law enforcement the imprimatur of “war,” one may be inclined to reach for the trigger that little bit more quickly. The disaster at Waco, Texas, was, it seems, more cock-up than conspiracy. But the recognition in the aftermath that the whole bloody mess could have been avoided if local officers had taken the time to chat with the victims should haunt us to this day. Rushing in at 100 miles per hour rarely works out, whatever the ill that one is attempting to resolve.

The Left’s current inclination is to spin offenses out of straw — having no major battles left to fight, it seeks to detect microaggressions; with overt bigotry so thin on the ground, the dog whistles have come out; and with the barriers to the Declaration’s maxim having been largely removed, the focus has shifted to the structural and the invisible. But first-degree burns and holes in the chest are different things altogether — not to be dismissed or downplayed — and that the issue is being raised by an outlet known for its absurdity should not dull its impact. Will the Right wake up to the threat, applying its usual mistrust of power to a favored group, or will its usually alert advocates leave themselves willfully in the dark until, one day, a flashbang with their name on it is tossed through the window to wake them up with a start?

 

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George Washington Flogged and Hung Deserters, Barack Obama Trades Terrorists for Deserter/POW? — Negotiates With Terrorists For Deserter! — Videos

Posted on June 7, 2014. Filed under: Blogroll, Business, Communications, Constitution, Crime, Economics, Energy, Faith, Federal Government, Federal Government Budget, Fiscal Policy, Foreign Policy, Fraud, Freedom, government, government spending, Homicide, Islam, Islam, Language, Law, liberty, Life, Links, media, Natural Gas, Natural Gas, Oil, Oil, People, Philosophy, Photos, Politics, Psychology, Rants, Religion, Resources, Science, Security, Shite, Sunni, Terrorism, Video, War, Wisdom | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

 

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The Pronk Pops Show Podcasts

Pronk Pops Show 271: June 2, 2014

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Story 1: George Washington Flogged and Hung Deserters, Barack Obama Trades Terrorists for Deserter/POW? — Negotiates With Terrorists For Deserter! — Videos

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THE EXECUTION OF PRIVATE SLOVIK

Is Ransomed U.S. Soldier Bowe Bergdahl a Deserter? UPDATED: Was Release of Taliban Prisoners Illegal?

Two GOP lawmakers charge that the Obama administration violated a law requiring the White House to give Congress a month’s notice before transferring or releasing Gitmo captivies. From the AP via Business Insider:

The White House said it moved as quickly as possible given the opportunity that arose to secure Bergdahl’s release. Citing “these unique and exigent circumstances,” the White House said a decision was made to go ahead with the transfer despite the legal requirement of 30 days advance notice to Congress.

 

For President Barack Obama (and thus America), foreign policy in every way remains a disaster. The latest incident? In swapping five Taliban leaders for a U.S. soldier who was held prisoner in Afghanistan for five years, Obama may have just exchanged somecertifiably bad guys for…a deserter from the U.S. Army. CNN’s Jake Tapper explains:

The sense of pride expressed by officials of the Obama administration at the release of Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl is not shared by many of those who served with him—veterans and soldiers who call him a deserter whose “selfish act” ended up costing the lives of better men.

“I was pissed off then and I am even more so now with everything going on,” said former Sgt. Matt Vierkant, a member of Bergdahl’s platoon when he went missing on June 30, 2009. “Bowe Bergdahldeserted during a time of war and his fellow Americans lost their lives searching for him.”

There’s this:

According to first-hand accounts from soldiers in his platoon, Bergdahl, while on guard duty, shed his weapons and walked off the observation post with nothing more than a compass, a knife, water, a digital camera, and a diary.

At least six soldiers were killed in subsequent searches for Bergdahl, and many soldiers in his platoon said attacks seemed to increase against the United States in Paktika Province in the days and weeks following his disappearance.

 

This is all completely apart from the question of whether exchanging prisoners for prisoners is a good idea while the U.S. still has over 30,000 troops in Afghanistan (and more than 100 detainees in Gitmo). And once again, yesterday, Susan Rice—she of Benghazi talking points fame—was making spurious claims on Sunday talk shows. She emphasized that Bergdahl had been“captured” on the battlefield, which may not be exactly right. Or even at all right.

I caught a few minutes of MSNBC’s Morning Joe earlier today and co-host Mika Brzezinski cautioned that whatever else we know about the five-for-one prisoner deal (which involves the Taliban going to Qatar, where they will be monitored by the government there for at least a year), we don’t know everything. Which is likely accurate and besides the point: Leaving aside the Obama administration’s constant invocations about its super-fantastic dedication to transparency, this White House has managed to make itself toxic to increasing swaths of the public and drive faith in its best intentions and ability to cross the street through the floor.

Here’s hoping that after more than a dozen years of poorly conceived and executed wars—and declining public support for the idea of America as globocop—that official foreign policy will start to appreciate the idea that we cannot undertake large and small-scale military interventions lightly.

http://reason.com/blog/2014/06/02/is-ransomed-us-soldier-bowe-bergdahl-a-d

 

The Gitmo detainees swapped for Bergdahl: Who are they?

Together with the announcement that U.S. Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl was released after nearly five years of captivity came the news that five detainees at Guantanamo Bay were being transferred to Qatar.
A plane carrying the detainees left the U.S. Navy base in Guantanamo, Cuba, after the announcement that Bergdahl, who was captured by the Taliban in Afghanistan in 2009, had been exchanged for the five men.
Saturday’s transfer was brokered through the Qatari government, a senior Defense official said. According to senior administration officials, Qatar agreed to take custody of the detainees and provide assurances they would not pose a threat to the United States, including a one-year ban from travel out of Qatar.
Two senior administration officials confirmed the names of the five released detainees as Khair Ulla Said Wali Khairkhwa, Mullah Mohammad Fazl, Mullah Norullah Nori, Abdul Haq Wasiq and Mohammad Nabi Omari.
They were mostly mid- to high-level officials in the Taliban regime and had been detained early in the war in Afghanistan, because of their positions within the Taliban, not because of ties to al Qaeda.
CNN profiled them two years ago, when their names first surfaced as candidates for a transfer as part of talks with the Taliban:
Khair Ulla Said Wali Khairkhwa
Khairkhwa was an early member of the Taliban in 1994 and was interior minister during the Taliban’s rule. He hails from the same tribe as Afghan President Hamid Karzai and was captured in January 2002. Khairkhwa’s most prominent position was as governor of Herat province from 1999 to 2001, and he was alleged to have been “directly associated” with Osama bin Laden. According to a detainee assessment, Khairkhwa also was probably associated with al Qaeda’s now-deceased leader in Iraq, Abu Musab al Zarqawi. He is described as one of the “major opium drug lords in western Afghanistan” and a “friend” of Karzai. He was arrested in Pakistan and was transferred to Guantanamo in May 2002. During questioning, Khairkhwa denied all knowledge of extremist activities.
Mullah Mohammad Fazl
Fazl commanded the main force fighting the U.S.-backed Northern Alliance in 2001, and served as chief of army staff under the Taliban regime. He has been accused of war crimes during Afghanistan’s civil war in the 1990s. Fazl was detained after surrendering to Abdul Rashid Dostam, the leader of Afghanistan’s Uzbek community, in November 2001. He was wanted by the United Nations in connection with the massacre of thousands of Afghan Shiites during the Taliban’s rule. “When asked about the murders, he did not express any regret,” according to the detainee assessment. He was alleged to have been associated with several militant Islamist groups, including al Qaeda. He was transferred into U.S. custody in December 2001 and was one of the first arrivals at Guantanamo, where he was assessed as having high intelligence value.
Mullah Norullah Noori
Noori served as governor of Balkh province in the Taliban regime and played some role in coordinating the fight against the Northern Alliance. Like Fazl, Noori was detained after surrendering to Dostam, the Uzbek leader, in 2001. Noori claimed during interrogation that “he never received any weapons or military training.” According to 2008 detainee assessment, Noori “continues to deny his role, importance and level of access to Taliban officials.” That same assessment characterized him as high risk and of high intelligence value.
Abdul Haq Wasiq
Wasiq was the deputy chief of the Taliban regime’s intelligence service. His cousin was head of the service. An administrative review in 2007 cited a source as saying that Wasiq was also “an al Qaeda intelligence member” and had links with members of another militant Islamist group, Hezb-e-Islami Gulbuddin. Wasiq claimed, according to the review, that he was arrested while trying to help the United States locate senior Taliban figures. He denied any links to militant groups.
Mohammad Nabi Omari
Omari was a minor Taliban official in Khost Province. According to the first administrative review in 2004, he was a member of the Taliban and associated with both al Qaeda and another militant group Hezb-e-Islami Gulbuddin. He was the Taliban’s chief of communications and helped al Qaeda members escape from Afghanistan to Pakistan. Omari acknowledged during hearings that he had worked for the Taliban but denied connections with militant groups. He also said that he had worked with a U.S. operative named Mark to try to track down Taliban leader Mullah Omar.

http://www.cnn.com/2014/05/31/us/bergdahl-transferred-guantanamo-detainees/index.html

 

The bizarre tale of America’s last known POW

Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, the last known American POW, was freed after five years in captivity — an ordeal that began and ended in Afghanistan under a shroud of mystery.

The Taliban turned over Bergdahl Saturday morning to US special forces in exchange for five notorious Islamic militants who had been held at Guantanamo Bay and will be sent to Qatar, where they will stay for a year under the terms of the trade.

At least one of the prisoners, ranking Taliban leader Khairullah Khairkhwa, had direct ties to Osama bin Laden.

Bergdahl was picked up by helicopter in western Afghanistan, near the Pakistan border.

After climbing aboard, the 28-year-old Idahoan, trying to communicate with his rescuers over the roar of the rotors, scrawled “SF?” on a paper plate — asking his rescuers whether they were special forces.

“Yes,” one of the men shouted. “We’ve been looking for you for a long time.”

The Army infantryman — himself nicknamed “SF” by his comrades for his gung-ho interest in special-forces tactics — began to weep.

Bergdahl’s parents, who had lobbied continuously for his ­release, had not seen him by Saturday night, but intimated that he faces an arduous recovery from his ordeal.

Bergdahl is speaking in what appears to be Pashto, said his dad, Bob Bergdahl. It was not clear whether his son can still even speak English, Bob said.

When the father spoke to his son — for the first time in five worried years — it was to say both in Pashto and English, “I am your father, Bowe.”

“We will continue to stay strong for Bowe while he recovers,” said his mom, Jani.

The search for Bergdahl began soon after he went missing on June 30, 2009, in the same rugged wilds of southeastern Afghanistan where NFL player-turned-Army Ranger Pat Tillman was killed.

Bergdahl’s mysterious disappearance from the small military outpost there and the subsequent revelation that he was in enemy hands prompted questions that still linger.

But in the weeks before his capture, Bergdahl had made murky statements that suggested he was gravitating away from the soldiers in his unit and toward ­desertion, a member of his platoon told Rolling Stone.

“He spent more time with the Afghans than he did with his platoon,” former Spc. Jason Fry told the magazine in 2012.

As a teen, the home-schooled son of Calvinists took up ballet — recruited to be a “lifter” by “a beautiful local girl,” Rolling Stone reported, “the guy who holds the girl aloft in a ballet sequence.” The strategy worked: Bergdahl — who also began dabbling in Budd­hism and tarot card reading — soon moved in with the woman.

Even as a teen, he could fire a .22-caliber rifle with precision.

At age 20, he traveled to Paris and started learning French in hopes of joining the French Foreign Legion.

His application was rejected, and he was devastated, the magazine reported.

Bergdahl would drift for years, working mainly at a coffee shop near home. He briefly considered moving to Uganda to help villagers being terrorized by militias before deciding on a different ­adventure.

“I’m thinking of joining the Army,” he told his folks after ­already having signed up.

Bergdahl’s dream was to help Afghan villagers rebuild their lives and learn to defend themselves, his dad told the magazine.

“The whole ‘COIN’ thing,” Bob explained, referring to America’s strategy of counter-insurgency. “We were given a fictitious picture, an artificially created picture of what we were doing in ­Afghanistan,” the dad said.

Bowe Bergdahl would detail his disillusionment with the Afghanistan campaign in an email to his parents three days before he went missing.

“I am sorry for everything here,” he wrote. “These people need help, yet what they get is the most conceited country in the world telling them that they are nothing and that they are stupid.”

Bergdahl also complained about fellow soldiers. The battalion commander was a “conceited old fool,” he said, and the only “decent” sergeants, planning to leave the platoon “as soon as they can,” told the privates — Bergdahl then among them — “to do the same.”

“I am ashamed to be an American. And the title of US soldier is just the lie of fools,” he concluded. “I am sorry for everything. The horror that is America is disgusting.”

Bob Bergdahl responded in an email: “OBEY YOUR CONSCIENCE!”

One night, after finishing a guard-duty shift, Bowe Bergdahl asked his team leader whether there would be a problem if he left camp with his rifle and night-vision goggles — to which the team leader replied “yes.”

Bergdahl then returned to his bunker, picked up a knife, water, his diary and a camera, and left camp, according to Rolling Stone.

The next morning, he was reported missing, and later that day, a drone and four fighter jets ­began to search for him.

Weeks of searching turned into months. The military pushed his parents and fellow soldiers to sign nondisclosure agreements. But before everyone signed, a comrade from his unit publicly called on Facebook for Bergdahl’s execution as a deserter.

Propaganda videos of his captivity — which featured Bergdahl denouncing American foreign policy — were released.

At least once, in 2011, the prisoner, looking more haggard, fought back and tried to escape.

“He fought like a boxer,” a Taliban fighter told Newsweek.

Why Bergdahl was captured in the first place remained a mystery by the time high-level US government talks began in 2012 regarding a trade for his release.

“Frankly, we don’t give a s–t why he left,” one White House official said at the time. “He’s an American soldier. We want to bring him home.”

There was fierce debate over exchanging him for the five Taliban combatants. Sen. John McCain, himself a former POW, once described the five as “the five biggest murderers in world history,” according to Rolling Stone.

We Lost Soldiers in the Hunt for Bergdahl, a Guy Who Walked Off in the Dead of Night

Nathan Bradley Bethea

For five years, soldiers have been forced to stay silent about the disappearance and search for Bergdahl. Now we can talk about what really happened.
It was June 30, 2009, and I was in the city of Sharana, the capitol of Paktika province in Afghanistan. As I stepped out of a decrepit office building into a perfect sunny day, a member of my team started talking into his radio. “Say that again,” he said. “There’s an American soldier missing?”

There was. His name was Private First Class Bowe Bergdahl, the only prisoner of war in the Afghan theater of operations. His release from Taliban custody on May 31 marks the end of a nearly five-year-old story for the soldiers of his unit, the 1st Battalion, 501st Parachute Infantry Regiment. I served in the same battalion in Afghanistan and participated in the attempts to retrieve him throughout the summer of 2009. After we redeployed, every member of my brigade combat team received an order that we were not allowed to discuss what happened to Bergdahl for fear of endangering him. He is safe, and now it is time to speak the truth.

And that the truth is: Bergdahl was a deserter, and soldiers from his own unit died trying to track him down.

On the night prior to his capture, Bergdahl pulled guard duty at OP Mest, a small outpost about two hours south of the provincial capitol. The base resembled a wagon circle of armored vehicles with some razor wire strung around them. A guard tower sat high up on a nearby hill, but the outpost itself was no fortress. Besides the tower, the only hard structure that I saw in July 2009 was a plywood shed filled with bottled water. Soldiers either slept in poncho tents or inside their vehicles.

The next morning, Bergdahl failed to show for the morning roll call. The soldiers in 2nd Platoon, Blackfoot Company discovered his rifle, helmet, body armor and web gear in a neat stack. He had, however, taken his compass. His fellow soldiers later mentioned his stated desire to walk from Afghanistan to India.

The Daily Beast’s Christopher Dickey later wrote that “[w]hether Bergdahl…just walked away from his base or was lagging behind on a patrol at the time of his capture remains an open and fiercely debated question.” Not to me and the members of my unit. Make no mistake: Bergdahl did not “lag behind on a patrol,” as was cited in news reports at the time. There was no patrol that night. Bergdahl was relieved from guard duty, and instead of going to sleep, he fled the outpost on foot. He deserted. I’ve talked to members of Bergdahl’s platoon—including the last Americans to see him before his capture. I’ve reviewed the relevant documents. That’s what happened.

Our deployment was hectic and intense in the initial months, but no one could have predicted that a soldier would simply wander off. Looking back on those first 12 weeks, our slice of the war in the vicinity of Sharana resembles a perfectly still snow-globe—a diorama in miniature of all the dust-coated outposts, treeless brown mountains and adobe castles in Paktika province—and between June 25 and June 30, all the forces of nature conspired to turn it over and shake it. On June 25, we suffered our battalion’s first fatality, a platoon leader named First Lieutenant Brian Bradshaw. Five days later, Bergdahl walked away.

His disappearance translated into daily search missions across the entire Afghanistan theater of operations, particularly ours. The combat platoons in our battalion spent the next month on daily helicopter-insertion search missions (called “air assaults”) trying to scour villages for signs of him. Each operations would send multiple platoons and every enabler available in pursuit: radio intercept teams, military working dogs, professional anthropologists used as intelligence gathering teams, Afghan sources in disguise. They would be out for at least 24 hours. I know of some who were on mission for 10 days at a stretch. In July, the temperature was well above 100 degrees Fahrenheit each day.

These cobbled-together units’ task was to search villages one after another. They often took rifle and mortar fire from insurgents, or perhaps just angry locals. They intermittently received resupply from soot-coated Mi-17s piloted by Russian contractors, many of whom were Soviet veterans of Afghanistan. It was hard, dirty and dangerous work. The searches enraged the local civilian population and derailed the counterinsurgency operations taking place at the time. At every juncture I remember the soldiers involved asking why we were burning so much gasoline trying to find a guy who had abandoned his unit in the first place. The war was already absurd and quixotic, but the hunt for Bergdahl was even more infuriating because it was all the result of some kid doing something unnecessary by his own volition.

On July 4, 2009, a human wave of insurgents attacked the joint U.S./Afghan outpost at Zerok. It was in east Paktika province, the domain of our sister infantry battalion (3rd Battalion, 509th Infantry). Two Americans died and many more received wounds. Hundreds of insurgents attacked and were only repelled by teams of Apache helicopters. Zerok was very close to the Pakistan border, which put it into the same category as outposts now infamous—places like COP Keating or Wanat, places where insurgents could mass on the Pakistani side and then try to overwhelm the outnumbered defenders.

One of my close friends was the company executive officer for the unit at Zerok. He is a mild-mannered and generous guy, not the kind of person prone to fits of pique or rage. But, in his opinion, the attack would not have happened had his company received its normal complement of intelligence aircraft: drones, planes, and the like. Instead, every intelligence aircraft available in theater had received new instructions: find Bergdahl. My friend blames Bergdahl for his soldiers’ deaths. I know that he is not alone, and that this was not the only instance of it. His soldiers’ names were Private First Class Aaron Fairbairn and Private First Class Justin Casillas.

Though the 2009 Afghan presidential election slowed the search for Bergdahl, it did not stop it. Our battalion suffered six fatalities in a three-week period. On August 18, an IED killed Private First Class Morris Walker and Staff Sergeant Clayton Bowen during a reconnaissance mission. On August 26, while conducting a search for a Taliban shadow sub-governor supposedly affiliated with Bergdahl’s captors, Staff Sergeant Kurt Curtiss was shot in the face and killed. On September 4, during a patrol to a village near the area in which Bergdahl vanished, an insurgent ambush killed Second Lieutenant Darryn Andrews and gravely wounded Private First Class Matthew Martinek, who died of his wounds a week later. On September 5, while conducting a foot movement toward a village also thought affiliated with Bergdahl’s captors, Staff Sergeant Michael Murphrey stepped on an improvised land mine. He died the next day.

It is important to name all these names. For the veterans of the units that lost these men, Bergdahl’s capture and the subsequent hunt for him will forever tie to their memories, and to a time in their lives that will define them as people. He has finally returned. Those men will never have the opportunity.

Bergdahl was not the first American soldier in modern history to walk away blindly. As I write this in Seoul, I’m about 40 miles from where an American sergeant defected to North Korea in 1965. Charles Robert Jenkins later admitted that he was terrified of being sent to Vietnam, so he got drunk and wandered off on a patrol. He was finally released in 2004, after almost 40 hellish years of brutal internment. The Army court-martialed him, sentencing him to 30 days’ confinement and a dishonorable discharge. He now lives peacefully with his wife in Japan—they met in captivity in North Korea, where they were both forced to teach foreign languages to DPRK agents. His desertion barely warranted a comment, but he was not hailed as a hero. He was met with sympathy and humanity, and he was allowed to live his life, but he had to answer for what he did.

The war was already absurd and quixotic, but the hunt for Bergdahl was even more infuriating because it was the result of some kid doing something unnecessary by his own volition.

I believe that Bergdahl also deserves sympathy, but he has much to answer for, some of which is far more damning than simply having walked off. Many have suffered because of his actions: his fellow soldiers, their families, his family, the Afghan military, the unaffiliated Afghan civilians in Paktika, and none of this suffering was inevitable. None of it had to happen. Therefore, while I’m pleased that he’s safe, I believe there is an explanation due. Reprimanding him might yield horrible press for the Army, making our longest war even less popular than it is today. Retrieving him at least reminds soldiers that we will never abandon them to their fates, right or wrong. In light of the propaganda value, I do not expect the Department of Defense to punish Bergdahl.

He’s lucky to have survived. I once saw an insurgent cellphone video of an Afghan National Police enlistee. They had young boys hold him down, boys between the ages of 10 and 15, all of whom giggled like they were jumping on a trampoline. The prisoner screamed and pleaded for his life. The captors cut this poor man’s head off. That’s what the Taliban and their allies do to their captives who don’t have the bargaining value of an American soldier. That’s what they do to their fellow Afghans on a regular basis. No human being deserves that treatment, or to face the threat of that treatment every day for nearly five years.

But that certainly doesn’t make Bergdahl a hero, and that doesn’t mean that the soldiers he left behind have an obligation to forgive him. I just hope that, with this news, it marks a turning point for the veterans of that mad rescue attempt. It’s done. Many of the soldiers from our unit have left the Army, as I have. Many have struggled greatly with life on the outside, and the implicit threat of prosecution if they spoke about Bergdahl made it much harder to explain the absurdity of it all. Our families and friends wanted to understand what we had experienced, but the Army denied us that.

I forgave Bergdahl because it was the only way to move on. I wouldn’t wish his fate on anyone. I hope that, in time, my comrades can make peace with him, too. That peace will look different for every person. We may have all come home, but learning to leave the war behind is not a quick or easy thing. Some will struggle with it for the rest of their lives. Some will never have the opportunity.

And Bergdahl, all I can say is this: Welcome back. I’m glad it’s over. There was a spot reserved for you on the return flight, but we had to leave without you, man. You’re probably going to have to find your own way home.

 

http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2014/06/02/we-lost-soldiers-in-the-hunt-for-bergdahl-a-guy-who-walked-off-in-the-dead-of-night.html

 

Five of the Most Dangerous Taliban Commanders in U.S. Custody Exchanged for American Captive

3:42 PM, MAY 31, 2014 • BY THOMAS JOSCELYN

The Obama administration announced today that Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, who has been held by the Taliban for several years, has been freed from his captors. Reading the stories of his newfound freedom it is impossible not to feel joy for Bergdahl and his family. NBC News reports that Bergdahl held up a sign once he was on board an American helicopter that read, “SF?” The operators quickly confirmed that they were in fact U.S. Special Forces: “Yes, we’ve been looking for you for a long time.”

Gitmo

“On behalf of the American people, I was honored to call his parents to express our joy that they can expect his safe return, mindful of their courage and sacrifice throughout this ordeal,” President Obama said in a statement. The president rightly noted: “Sergeant Bergdahl’s recovery is a reminder of America’s unwavering commitment to leave no man or woman in uniform behind on the battlefield.”

Unfortunately, America is not the only party in this war that is committed to leaving no man behind. So are the Taliban and other al Qaeda-linked groups. But the president did not say who America exchanged for Bergdahl: five of the most dangerous Taliban commanders in U.S. custody.

The Taliban has long demanded that the “Gitmo 5” be released in order for peace talks to begin in earnest. The Obama administration has desperately sought to engage the Taliban as American forces are drawn down in Afghanistan, but those talks have gone nowhere to this point.  At first, the administration set preconditions for the talks, including that the Taliban break its relationship with al Qaeda. When it became clear that this was a non-starter, the administration decided to make the Taliban’s desired break with al Qaeda a goal, and no longer a precondition, for its diplomacy.

There is little hope that the peace talks will be more successful now. But the president seems to believe that Bergdahl’s exchange for the Gitmo 5 (who are reportedly being transferred to Qatar) may break the ice. “While we are mindful of the challenges, it is our hope Sergeant Bergdahl’s recovery could potentially open the door for broader discussions among Afghans about the future of their country by building confidence that it is possible for all sides to find common ground,” Obama said in his statement.

The Obama administration says that security measures have been put into place to make sure that the Gitmo 5 do not pose a threat to American national security. Let’s hope that is true; it certainly has not been the case with many ex-Gitmo detainees in the past.

THE WEEKLY STANDARD has profiled these jihadists previously on multiple occasions, and what follows below is culled from these accounts.

There are good reasons why the Taliban has long wanted the five freed from Gitmo. All five are among the Taliban’s top commanders in U.S. custody and are still revered in jihadist circles.

Two of the five have been wanted by the UN for war crimes. And because of their prowess, Joint Task Force-Guantanamo (JTF-GTMO) deemed all five of them “high” risks to the U.S. and its allies.

The Obama administration wants to convince the Taliban to abandon its longstanding alliance with al Qaeda. But these men contributed to the formation of that relationship in the first place. All five had close ties to al Qaeda well before the 9/11 attacks. Therefore, it is difficult to see how their freedom would help the Obama administration achieve one of its principal goals for the hoped-for talks.

Here are short bios for each of the five Taliban commanders. All quotes are drawn from declassified and leaked documents prepared at Guantanamo.

Mullah Mohammad Fazl (Taliban army chief of staff): Fazl is “wanted by the UN for possible war crimes including the murder of thousands of Shiites.” Fazl “was associated with terrorist groups currently opposing U.S. and Coalition forces including al Qaeda, Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU), Hezb-e-Islami Gulbuddin (HIG), and an Anti-Coalition Militia group known as Harakat-i-Inqilab-i-Islami.” In addition to being one of the Taliban’s most experienced military commanders, Fazl worked closely with a top al Qaeda commander named Abdul Hadi al Iraqi, who headed al Qaeda’s main fighting unit in Afghanistan prior to 9/11 and is currently detained at Guantanamo.

Mullah Norullah Noori (senior Taliban military commander): Like Fazl, Noori is “wanted by the United Nations (UN) for possible war crimes including the murder of thousands of Shiite Muslims.” Beginning in the mid-1990s, Noori “fought alongside al Qaeda as a Taliban military general, against the Northern alliance.” He continued to work closely with al Qaeda in the years that followed.

Abdul Haq Wasiq (Taliban deputy minister of intelligence): Wasiq arranged for al Qaeda members to provide crucial intelligence training prior to 9/11. The training was headed by Hamza Zubayr, an al Qaeda instructor who was killed during the same September 2002 raid that netted Ramzi Binalshibh, the point man for the 9/11 operation. Wasiq “was central to the Taliban’s efforts to form alliances with other Islamic fundamentalist groups to fight alongside the Taliban against U.S. and Coalition forces after the 11 September 2001 attacks,” according to a leaked JTF-GTMO threat assessment.

Khairullah Khairkhwa (Taliban governor of the Herat province and former interior minister): Khairkhwa was the governor of Afghanistan’s westernmost province prior to 9/11. In that capacity, he executed sensitive missions for Mullah Omar, including helping to broker a secret deal with the Iranians. For much of the pre-9/11 period, Iran and the Taliban were bitter foes. But a Taliban delegation that included Kharikhwa helped secure Iran’s support for the Taliban’s efforts against the American-led coalition in late 2001. JTF-GTMO found that Khairkhwa was likely a major drug trafficker and deeply in bed with al Qaeda. He allegedly oversaw one of Osama bin Laden’s training facilities in Herat.

Mohammed Nabi (senior Taliban figure and security official): Nabi “was a senior Taliban official who served in multiple leadership roles.” Nabi “had strong operational ties to Anti-Coalition Militia (ACM) groups including al Qaeda, the Taliban, the Haqqani Network, and the Hezb-e-Islami Gulbuddin (HIG), some of whom remain active in ACM activities.” Intelligence cited in the JTF-GTMO files indicates that Nabi held weekly meetings with al Qaeda operatives to coordinate attacks against U.S.-led forces.

Thomas Joscelyn is a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies

http://www.weeklystandard.com/blogs/five-most-dangerous-taliban-commanders-us-custody-released-pow-exchange_794017.html?page=2

 

The best biography of George Washington yet

Ron Chernow’s extraordinary new book paints the first president as a man in a struggle to contain his emotions

Two unforgettable images run through Ron Chernow’s great book, “Washington: A Life,” and they have nothing to do with cherry trees or wooden teeth or silver dollars thrown across the Potomac.

The first is the image of a gallows. It appears early in the narrative, when Colonel George Washington of the Virginia Militia, seeking to terrify his untutored, undisciplined, ragamuffin soldiers into obedience, builds a 40-foot-high gibbet. Soon after, he sentences 14 of his men to death for desertion and insubordination. Though he will eventually spare 12 from the noose, he will still punish them with absolutely fierce and shocking floggings, an average of 600 lashes per prisoner. “Washington made a point of hanging people in public,” Ron Chernow writes, “to deter others.” It is an expression of “his blazing temper.” It is also a result of his experience as explorer and soldier in the Virginia wilderness, “which darkened his view of human nature.” His lifelong practice will be to see “people as motivated more by force than kindness.” When he hangs his first man, the year is 1756, Virginia is still a British colony, and Washington is 24 years old.

These gallows will recur. They are what novelists call a “through-line” or motif, a pattern of figures within a story. To a historian they are that and more. They are a kind of portal into Washington’s famously elusive, enigmatic character.

Gallows and nooses were, of course, an ordinary part of Washington’s time and world. To hang a disobedient solider — or rebel — was commonplace in 18th century warfare. The British government routinely punished treason this way, with the additional flourish of disemboweling the offender while he was still alive, and then decapitating him. When Benjamin Franklin cautions the Continental Congress that “we must all hang together, or we will all hang separately,” only the first part of his famous sentence is metaphorical.

 

FORMER OFFICER: SOLDIERS WERE ‘THREATENED’ IF THEY QUESTIONED BERGDAHL STORY

by 

A former U.S. officer who served in Afghanistan with Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl claims that soldiers were threatened by U.S. authorities if they questioned his story.

After he was captured, Bergdahl said on a video from his captors that he lagged behind on patrol, although other sources in the military suggested anonymously that he walked away from his post.

“Not only has this nebulous non-story been put out for years but you know these soldiers of 4th Brigade 25th Infantry Division were threatened with legal repercussions if they spoke about Bergdahl. Everybody officially mandated silencing of what we saw has been so frustrating,” Bethea explained on BBC World Service Radio today.

Bethea served in Sgt. Bergdahl’s unit, and was an infantry officer in the U.S. Army from 2007 to 2014

CNN’s Jake Tapper also reported that many of Bergdahl’s fellow troops signed nondisclosure agreements agreeing to never share any information about Bergdahl’s disappearance and the efforts to recapture him.

Bethea explained that now he was safe, more soldiers would be trying to tell the truth of his disappearance.

BBC interviewed Bethea after he wrote an article for the Daily Beast, asserting that Bergdahl was a deserter.

“He is safe, and now it is time to speak the truth,” he wrote. “And that the truth is: Bergdahl was a deserter, and soldiers from his own unit died trying to track him down.”

Bethea admitted that it would probably be unlikely that Bergdahl would face a court martial, because it would cast doubt on the deal the United States made with the Taliban to secure his release.

“I would at least like to see an official statement on what happened,” he said, referring to the Department of Defense.

Bergdahl is currently at an American military hospital in Germany, where he is being evaluated.

Bethea said that he would reserve judgement whether or not Bergdahl betrayed his country.

“I’m not going to call the guy a traitor just because it sounds like a stronger or harsher word than deserter,” Bethea said, admitting that he didn’t know what happened to him after he was captured.

http://www.breitbart.com/Big-Government/2014/06/02/Former-Officer-Soldiers-Were-Threatened-if-They-Questioned-Bergdahl-Story

 

AWOL and Desertion

By 

Many people confuse the terms, AWOL and Desertion. Some people believe that AWOL is when someone is absent for less than 30 days, and someone absent from the military for 30 days or more is a deserter. That’s not quite true.

Unauthorized absence from the military fall under three articles of the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ): Article 85Desertion,Article 86AWOL, and Article 87Missing Movement. Of the three, Desertion is the most serious offense.

Missing Movement

A military member has violated Article 87 if he/she is ordered to be on a ship or an aircraft, or deploy with a unit on a certain date and time, and then fails to show up. It doesn’t matter if the member failed to show up through intention or because of neglect, but it is required that the member knew about the movement. A viable defense would be that the member missed the movement through physical inability (as long as that physical inability wasn’t a result of misconduct or neglect). The possible punishment is more severe if the member missed the movement on purpose. It’s not uncommon for Missing Movement to be charged in conjunction with AWOL or Desertion, depending on the circumstances.

AWOL

AWOL, or “Absent without Leave,” is usually called “Unauthorized Absence” (or UA) by the Navy and Marine Corps, and AWOL by the Army and Air Force. The use of “UA” by the Navy/Marine Corps and “AWOL” by the Army/Air Force is historical. Prior to enactment of the Uniform Code of Military Justice in 1951 the services were governed by separate laws. However, its official title under the current UCMJ is “AWOL” (a rose by any other name is still a rose). It simply means not being where you are supposed to be at the time you are supposed to be there. Being late for work is a violation of Article 86. Missing a medical appointment is a violation. So is disappearing for several days (or months, or years). The maximum possible punishments, which I’ll discuss later in this article, depends on the exact circumstances of the absence.

Desertion

Did you know that desertion can result in the death penalty? It’s true. The maximum punishment for desertion during “time of war” is death. However, since the Civil War, only one American servicemember has ever been executed for desertion — Private Eddie Slovik in 1945.

The offense of desertion, under Article 85 carries a much greater punishment than the offense of AWOL, under Article 86. Many people believe that if one is absent without authority for 30 days or more, the offense changes from AWOL to desertion, but that’s not quite true.

The primary difference between the two offenses is “intent to remain away permanently,” or if the purpose of the absence is to shirk “important duty,” (such as a combat deployment).

If one intends to return to “military control” someday, one is guilty of AWOL, not desertion, even if they were away for 50 years. Conversely, if a person was absent for just one minute, and then captured, he could be convicted of desertion, if the prosecution could prove that the member intended to remain away from the military permanently.

If the intent of the absence was to “shirk important duty,” such as a combat deployment, then the “intent to remain away permanently” to support a charge of desertion is not necessary. However, Such services as drill, target practice, maneuvers, and practice marches are not ordinarily “important duty.” “Important duty” may include such duty as hazardous duty, duty in a combat zone, certain ship deployments, etc. Whether a duty is hazardous or a service is important depends upon the circumstances of the particular case, and is a question of fact for the court-martial to decide.

More About AWOL and Desertion

Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ)
ART. 85. DESERTION
 More of this Feature
• UCMJ Menu
• Punitive Articles of the UCMJ
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• Nonjudicial Punishment (Art 15)
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• US Government Info

 

 

(a) Any member of the armed forces who–

(1) without authority goes or remains absent from his unit, organization, or place of duty with intent to remain away therefrom permanently;

(2) quits his unit, organization, or place of duty with intent to avoid hazardous duty or to shirk important service; or

(3) without being regularly separated from one of the armed forces enlists or accepts an appointment in the same or another on of the armed forces without fully disclosing the fact that he has not been regularly separated, or enters any foreign armed service except when authorized by the United States;

is guilty of desertion.

(b) Any commissioned officer of the armed forces who, after tender of his resignation and before notice of its acceptance, quits his post or proper duties without leave and with intent to remain away therefrom permanently is guilty of desertion.

(c) Any person found guilty of desertion or attempt to desert shall be punished, if the offense is committed in time of war, by death or such other punishment as a court-martial may direct, but if the desertion or attempt to desert occurs at any other time, by such punishment, other than death, as a court-martial may direct.

Note: For specific details concerning this offense, including elements of proof, maximum punishments, and detailed explanation, see Punitive Articles of the UCMJ.

Next Article > ART. 86. ABSENCE WITHOUT LEAVE >

 

 

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National Security Agency (NSA) — Who’s The Enemy? — The American People — House Judiciary Committee Guts NSA Reform Bill — USA Freedom Act — Broadly Defined Bulk Collection Will Continue — Congress Pulls Bait-and-Switch on U.S. Freedom Act — Videos

Posted on May 11, 2014. Filed under: American History, Blogroll, College, Communications, Computers, Computers, Constitution, Data Storage, Diasters, Drones, Economics, Education, Employment, Energy, External Hard Drives, External Hard Drives, Federal Government, Federal Government Budget, Fiscal Policy, Foreign Policy, Freedom, government, government spending, history, Inflation, Investments, IRS, Language, Law, liberty, Life, Macroeconomics, media, Mobile Phones, National Security Agency (NSA_, Natural Gas, Nuclear, Nuclear Power, Oil, People, Philosophy, Photos, Politics, Programming, Psychology, Radio, Raves, Regulations, Resources, Security, Strategy, Systems, Talk Radio, Tax Policy, Taxes, Technology, Television, Terrorism, Unemployment, Video, War, Water, Wealth, Weapons, Weapons of Mass Destruction, Weather, Wisdom, Writing | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

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Bizarre week for NSA reformers

“USA Freedom Act” Has All Oversight Of NSA Gutted By Phony Gatekeepers!

Through a PRISM, Darkly – Everything we know about NSA spying [30c3]

U.S. Freedom act

Real Talk with Julie Borowski: Stop Snooping, NSA!

Is NSA reform being sabotaged?

 

“The USA FREEDOM Act” Congress Plan To Curb NSA Spying On American Citizens

GOP against Justin Amash The Glenn Beck Talk Show

Report exposes secret NSA snooping tool

Opposing Bulk NSA Surveillance (Rep. Justin Amash)

Rep. Justin Amash cosponsored an amendment that would have defunded the National Security Agency’s unwarranted bulk collection of Americans’ phone data. The measure failed narrowly, but has re-energized the legislative struggle for civil liberties. Amash believes that James Clapper, the Director of National Intelligence, should be prosecuted for lying to Congress. He also says he doesn’t appreciate the “condescending” tone of New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie with respect to the debate over national security.

Glenn Beck Justin Amash Interview On Nsa Surveillance

Congress’s Abdication on NSA Oversight (U.S. Rep. Justin Amash (R-MI))

Justin Amash: President Obama Was ‘Highly Misleading’ In Claiming There’s No Domestic Spying Program

House committee passes NSA reform bill

The House Judiciary Committee passed the National Security Agency reforming “USA Freedom Act” 31-0 Wednesday. The first major piece of legislation seeking to curb the NSA’s collection of electronic information, the bill which has undergone major changes will now proceed to the full House of Representatives. It will be competing with another reform bill that is expected to be approved by the House Intelligence Committee Thursday. RT’s Sam Sacks breaks down the bill and the chances for instituting real reform.

“USA Freedom Act” Bill To Put NSA “Out Of Business”

Fox News Reporting The NSA’s Secret War Who’ The Enemy? 1 of 6

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James Bamford Says NSA “Exploiting” U.S. Citizens With Info About Their Online Porno Viewing Habits

 

 

 

Congress Pulls Bait-and-Switch on USA FREEDOM Act

Yesterday, C4L sent a letter to members of the House Judiciary Committee strongly opposing the Manager’s Amendment to H.R. 3361, the USA FREEDOM Act.

The original version of the act was sold to Americans as a way to rein in the NSA’s domestic surveillance programs, and it would have been a first step towards real reform of the surveillance state since 9/11.

But, that’s seldom the way Congress works. In an effort to “pass something this year,” the Judiciary Committee watered down the legislation and it passed out of the committee unanimously.

Want proof the recent changes to USA Freedom Act make it unworthy of support from civil libertarians? Mike Rogers and Dutch Ruppersberger, the NSA’s biggest cheerleaders in the House,just reported it out of their committee by voice vote.

What’s more likely, that Rogers and Ruppersberger had a change of heart on the NSA? Or that Judiciary watered down the USA FREEDOM Act enough to the point that its “reform” is devoid of any substantive changes?

The bill is now earning plaudits from the same guys who said the original version would “make America less safe,” and from the administration that never wanted you to know they were spying on you in the first place.

Read Campaign for Liberty’s letter to the Judiciary Committee below:

Letter to Judiciary Committee – USA FREEDOM Act

http://www.campaignforliberty.org/national-blog/congress-pulls-bait-switch-usa-freedom-act/

 

USA Freedom Act unanimously clears House Judiciary Committee

Surveillance reform bill designed to prevent collection of US phone data in bulk and is first to proceed onto the House floor

Jim Sensenbrenner
The bill’s architect, Republican James Sensenbrenner, said the bill ‘makes it crystal clear that Congress does not support bulk collection.’ Photo: Chip Somodevilla /Getty

Six months after it was written to restrain the National Security Agency’s sweeping domestic surveillance, a privacy bill cleared a major legislative obstacle on Wednesday, even as its advocates worried that the compromises made to advance the bill have weakened its constraints on mass data collection.

The USA Freedom Act, designed to prevent the US government from collecting US phone data in bulk, passed the House Judiciary Committee by a 32 to zero bi-partisan vote, making it the first surveillance reform bill to proceed out of committee and to the House floor.

But an internal committee breakthrough on Monday that won the support of chairman Bob Goodlatte, a Virginia Republican, significantly recast the bill, softening its prohibitions on aspects of bulk collection and requiring transparency around it.

The bill’s architect, Republican James Sensenbrenner of Wisconsin, who also wrote the 2001 Patriot Act, said the bill “makes it crystal clear that Congress does not support bulk collection.”

While changes to the bill now permit the government to gather call records up to two degrees of separation away from a specific target – potentially millions of records – Sensenbrenner urged his colleagues “not to make the perfect the enemy of the good,” expressing confidence that the revamped USA Freedom Act was on “the fast track to passage.”

Supporters in and outside of Congress concede the latest compromises have left the USA Freedom Act less protective of civil liberties than it was when introduced in October. Its distinctions from a rival bill written by the leaders of the House intelligence committee, the NSA’s strongest Capitol Hill advocates, are somewhat blurred, prompting civil libertarians to become less enthusiastic of a measure they have championed as a fix to the broad NSA powers exposed by whistleblower Edward Snowden.

Representative John Conyers, a Michigan Democrat and longtime USA Freedom Act supporter, said that the new version of the bill was a “less than perfect compromise” that still makes “important, vital, substantive changes” to US surveillance.

The revised USA Freedom Act, “while still better than any other proposal on the board, is a setback from the original,” said Amie Stepanovich of Access, a human rights and digital rights advocacy group.

While the USA Freedom Act has nearly 150 House co-sponsors, and a stalled Senate companion commands 20 votes in the upper chamber, it was clear on Wednesday that the House intelligence committee will continue attempts to outmaneuvre its rival.

The chairman of the intelligence committee, until now a fervent critic of the USA Freedom Act, is now praising a bill he has long criticized, and which several congressional sources said he attempted to influence ahead of Wednesday’s vote.

Representative Mike Rogers, a Michigan Republican who is retiring this year, called the changes to the USA Freedom Act a “huge improvement,” adding in an interview with Foreign Policy magazine that the bill’s architects have “come a lot closer [and] now we’re just trying to work out the wording.”

Rogers is scheduled to mark up his alternative bill, the Fisa Transparency and Modernization Act, on Thursday, a decision USA Freedom Act supporters view as a desperation move. But on Wednesday, Rogers’ committee announced it will also mark up the USA Freedom Act on Thursday, prompting Capitol Hill speculation that Rogers will attempt to merge his bill with the Freedom Act rather than attempt to rally more votes.

House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio had earlier thrown his support behind Rogers’ bill. But now Boehner is said to be monitoring the committe process and keeping his options open. Congressional sources expected Boehner to schedule a vote on a surveillance proposal – of whatever form – as early as the week of 19 May, so the issue does not derail the annual defense budget authorization, though nothing is scheduled yet.

Both bills as originally crafted prevent the NSA from collecting US phone data in bulk, as it has done in secret since 2001, a position that President Barack Obama now embraces. The major difference between the two bills remains the role of judges in authorizing data collection. The Rogers bill permits the government to collect phone and email data absent a judges’ prior order, which the revised USA Freedom Act requires in all but emergency cases.

Additionally, the revised USA Freedom Act permits the government to get phone data two “hops,” or degrees of separation, from the target of the order, which can mean millions of call records reaped from a single court order. The legal standard for that order, for counterterrorism purposes, will be “reasonable articulable suspicion” of connection to an agent of a foreign power, the NSA’s desired framework.

Significantly, the new version of the USA Freedom Act all but stripped out a provision preventing the NSA from combing through its foreign communications dragnets for Americans’ information, something Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon dubbed the “backdoor search provision,” an absence that has deeply upset supporters. Those dragnets exist pursuant to a major 2008 piece of legislation, known as Section 702 of the Fisa Amendments Act.

Congressional sources pointed to new language tightening up prohibitions on the NSA intentionally targeting Americans’ communications at the outset as a palliative. But they conceded the absence of the backdoor search ban was a major change – one they said the NSA’s advocates fought hard for, an indication of how central the NSA considers a power it has rarely forthrightly acknowledged using. They indicated that USA Freedom Act supporters lacked the votes within the committee to pass the bill that retained the backdoor search prohibition.

An attempt by Representative Zoe Lofgren, a California Democrat, to restore the backdoor search provision failed Wednesday. Goodlatte said restoring it would “disrupt this bipartisan agreement.”

Kevin Bankston of the Open Technology Institute said he was “incredibly disappointed” at the new USA Freedom Act’s effective blessing of backdoor searches.

“Especially when we’re expecting the government’s own surveillance watchdog, the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board, to issue a report on just that issue within a month or so, closing the door to reform on Section 702 of the Fisa Amendments Act would be premature,” Bankston said in a statement.

But the Judiciary Committee restored a provision initially struck from the original USA Freedom Act permitting increased transparency for companies receiving surveillance orders for their customers’ data, the absence of which had alarmed supporters.

The language, added back to the bill Wednesday by Representative Suzan Delbene of Washington, had been cut in order to codify a January deal the Justice Department reached with phone and Internet companies allowing them to list received orders only in bands of 1,000 and with a time lag. Congressional sources said companies lobbied hard to restore transparency language.

The Obama administration has withheld endorsement of either bill in public, confusing supporters. But in recent weeks, its guidance to Capitol Hill on surveillance reform included a requirement for up-front judicial authorization for data requests, which only the USA Freedom Act possesses.

“At this stage, I think I’d just say we will be watching closely as these bills go through the process,” said Caitlin Hayden, a White House spokeswoman said shortly before the vote.

Hours after the vote, Hayden issued a statement welcoming the USA Freedom Act as “a very good first step”:

“In March the president laid out his proposal to reform Section 215, and called upon Congress to act quickly to pass implementing legislation. We applaud the House Judiciary Committee for approaching this issue on a bipartisan basis. The Judiciary Committee passed bill is a very good first step in that important effort, and we look forward to House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence action on it tomorrow,” Hayden said.

Section 215 of the Patriot Act is the provision cited by the NSA and blessed by the secret Fisa Court for bulk data collection.

Some legislators, distressed by the changes to the USA Freedom Act, are considering a different option for surveillance reform.

As amended, the USA Freedom Act would push back the expiration of Section 215 to the end of 2017, when Section 702 is set to expire. The current expiration is 1 June of next year. Some legislators are already whispering that allowing Section 215 to expire wholesale in 2015 is a preferable reform.

But Representative Jerrold Nadler of New York, a Democrat, said the USA Freedom Act was “the first, best and perhaps only chance in a decade” to constrain widespread surveillance.

“This is our chance. We have to seize it,” Nadler said on Wednesday.

Patrick Leahy, the Vermont Democrat who sponsored the USA Freedom Act in the Senate, hailed the committee vote, but said he was concerned that the text does not reform the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s national-security letters and makes insufficient changes on transparency and to the Fisa Court.

“I will continue to push for those reforms when the Senate Judiciary Committee considers the USA Freedom Act this summer,” Leahy said in a statement.

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/may/07/usa-freedom-act-clears-house-committee-nsa-surveillance

 

USA Freedom Act

The USA Freedom Act, formally titled the Uniting and Strengthening America by Fulfilling Rights and Ending Eavesdropping, Dragnet-Collection and Online Monitoring Act, is a bill that was introduced in both houses of the U.S. Congress on October 29, 2013.

The House version, introduced by Representative Jim Sensenbrenner as HR 3361, was referred to the United States House Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, Homeland Security and Investigations January 9, 2014,[3] and the Senate version, S. 1599, introduced by Senator Patrick Leahy, was read twice and referred to the Senate Committee on the Judiciary.[4] An amended version out of the House Judiciary Committee contained many provisions raising concerns among civil libertarians,[5] including an extension of the controversial USA PATRIOT Act through the end of 2017.[6][7] The bill will be considered in the Senate through the summer of 2014.[8]

Purpose

The USA Freedom Act[9] would end the bulk collection of Americans’ metadata, end the secret laws created by the FISA court, and introduce a “Special Advocate” to represent public and privacy matters.[10][11][12] Other proposed changes include limits to programs like PRISM, which “incidentally” retains Americans’ Internet data,[13] and greater transparency by allowing companies such as Google and Facebook to disclose information about government demands for information.[14]

Representative Jim Sensenbrenner, who introduced the bill, stated that its purpose was:

To rein in the dragnet collection of data by the National Security Agency (NSA) and other government agencies, increase transparency of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC), provide businesses the ability to release information regarding FISA requests, and create an independent constitutional advocate to argue cases before the FISC.[10][15]

According to the bill’s sponsors, their legislation would amend Section 215 of the Patriot Act to ensure that any phone records obtained by the government were essential in an investigation that involved terrorism or espionage, thereby ending bulk collection,[16] while preserving “the intelligence community’s ability to gather information in a more focused way.”[17] A May 2014 amended version of the bill would also extend thecontroversial USA PATRIOT Act through the end of 2017.[18] The Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) has criticized the Patriot Act as unconstitutional, especially when “the private communications of law-abiding American citizens might be intercepted incidentally”.[19]

The bill is made up of several titles: FISA business records reforms, FISA pen register and trap and trace device reforms, FISA acquisitions targeting persons outside the United States reforms, Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court reforms, Office of the Special Advocate, National Security Letter reforms, FISA and National Security Letter transparency reforms, and Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board subpoena authority.[20]

Background

Many members of Congress believed that in the wake of the Snowden disclosures, restoration of public trust would require legislative changes.[21] More than 20 bills have been written since the disclosures began with the goal of reining in government surveillance powers.[13]

Sensenbrenner, who introduced the USA PATRIOT Act (H.R. 3162) in 2001 following the September 11 terrorist attacks to give more power to US intelligence agencies, and who has described himself as “author of the Patriot Act”,[22] declared that it was time to put the NSA’s “metadata program out of business”. With its bulk collection of Americans’ phone data, Sensenbrenner asserted that the intelligence community “misused those powers”, had gone “far beyond” the original intent of the legislation, and had “overstepped its authority”.[21][23]

An opinion piece by Leahy and Sensenbrenner, published in Politico, described the impetus for proposed changes,[24] saying:

The intelligence community has failed to justify its expansive use of [the FISA and Patriot Act] laws. It is simply not accurate to say that the bulk collection of phone records has prevented dozens of terrorist plots. The most senior NSA officials have acknowledged as much in congressional testimony. We also know that the FISA court has admonished the government for making a series of substantial misrepresentations to the court regarding these programs. As a result, the intelligence community now faces a trust deficit with the American public that compromises its ability to do its job. It is not enough to just make minor tweaks around the edges. It is time for real, substantive reform.[17]

Markup in House Judiciary Committee

In May 2014, the U.S. House Judiciary Committee posted a “Manager’s Amendment” on its website. Title VII of the Amendment read “Section 102(b)(1) of the USA Patriot Improvement and Reauthorization Act of 2005 (50 U.S.C. 1805 note) is amended by striking “June 1, 2015″ and inserting “December 31, 2017″, extending the controversial USA PATRIOT Act through the end of 2017.[25] The Electronic Privacy Information Center(EPIC) has criticized the Patriot Act as unconstitutional, especially when “the private communications of law-abiding American citizens might be intercepted incidentally”.[19] James Dempsey, of the CDT, believes that the Patriot Act unnecessarily overlooks the importance of notice under the Fourth Amendment and under a Title III wiretap,[26] while the American Library Association became so concerned that they formed a resolution condemning the USA PATRIOT Act, and which urged members to defend free speech and protect patrons’ privacy against the Act.[27]

The Guardian wrote “civil libertarians on the Judiciary Committee had to compromise in order to gain support for the act. Significantly, the government will still be able to collect phone data on Americans, pending a judge’s individualized order based on ‘reasonable articulable suspicion‘ – a standard preferred by the NSA – of wrongdoing, and can collect call records two degrees or ‘hops’ of separation from the individual suspected”.[5] Kara Brandeisky of ProPublica said “some worry that the bill does not unequivocally ban bulk collection of American records. Again, a lot depends on how the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court interprets the statute”.[28]

The National Journal wrote “one tech lobbyist noted concern that a provision that would have allowed companies to disclose to customers more information about government data requests has been dropped. In addition, an external special advocate that would oversee the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court would no longer be selected by the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board. Instead, the court’s judges would designate five ‘amicus curiae‘ who possess appropriate security clearances.”[29]

The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) stated it remained “concerned that this bill omits important transparency provisions found in the USA FREEDOM Act, which are necessary to shed light on surveillance abuses”. In addition, the EFF said it believed “this bill should do more to address mass surveillance under Section 702 of Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Amendments Act, a section of law used to collect the communications of users worldwide”.[30] The Open Technology Institute commented “several other key reforms—such as provisions allowing Internet and phone companies to publish more information about the demands they receive, which OTI and a coalition of companies and organizations have been pressing for since last summer—have been removed, while the bill also provides for a new type of court order that the President has requested, allowing for continuous collection by the government of specified telephone records.”[31]

Despite the criticism from civil liberties groups, Mike Rogers, a defender of the NSA‘s surveillance practices and the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, praised the amendments. Rogers, who had his own bill which would codify the NSA’s surveillance practices in to law, called the proposed amendments a “huge improvement”. Foreign Policy wrote “any compromise to the Judiciary bill risks an insurrection from civil libertarians in Congress. Michigan Republican Justin Amash led such a revolt last year when he offered an NSA amendment to a defense appropriations bill that would have stripped funding for the NSA’s collection program.” “Just a weakened bill or worse than status quo? I’ll find out,” Representative Amash said.[32]

After passage of the marked up bill, USA Freedom Act co-author and Senate Committee on the Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy commented that he “remain concerned that the legislation approved today does not include some of the important reforms related to national security letters, a strong special advocate at the FISA Court, and greater transparency. I will continue to push for those reforms when the Senate Judiciary Committee considers the USA FREEDOM Act this summer.”[8]

Reaction

The Act has bipartisan support, evenly split between Democrats and Republicans. As of May 8, 2014, it had 150 co-sponsors in the House[1] and 21 in the Senate.[2] Viewed as one of the most comprehensive of the similar bills introduced since the NSA leaks, the USA Freedom Act has support or qualified support from a diverse range of groups such as the ACLUMozilla, and the NRA.[13][33]

Representative Justin Amash, author of the narrowly-defeated Amash Amendment, a proposal that would have de-funded the NSA, backed the legislation. “It’s getting out of control” he commented, “[Courts are issuing] general warrants without specific cause…and you have one agency that’s essentially having superpowers to pass information onto others”.[23]

According to Deputy Attorney General James Cole, even if the Freedom Act becomes law, the NSA could continue its bulk collection of American’s phone records. He explained that “it’s going to depend on how the [FISA] court interprets any number of the provisions” contained within the legislation.[16] Jennifer Granick, Director of Civil Liberties at Stanford Law School, stated:

The Administration and the intelligence community believe they can do whatever they want, regardless of the laws Congress passes, so long they can convince one of the judges appointed to the secretive Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) to agree. This isn’t the rule of law. This is a coup d’etat.[16]

Opponents of global surveillance have called for the bill to be strengthened. The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) released a statement saying “we consider this bill to be a floor, not a ceiling”. The ACLU wrote that “although the USA Freedom Act does not fix every problem with the government’s surveillance authorities and programs, it is an important first step and it deserves broad support.”[34][35]

International human rights groups remain somewhat skeptical of specific provisions of the bill. For example, Human Rights Watch expressed its concern that the “bill would do little to increase protections for the right to privacy for people outside the United States, a key problem that plagues U.S. surveillance activities. Nor would the bill address mass surveillance or bulk collection practices that may be occurring under other laws or regulations, such as Section 702 of the FISA Amendments Act or Executive Order 12333. These practices affect many more people and include the collection of the actual content of internet communications and phone calls, not just metadata”.[36] Zeke Johnson, Director of Amnesty International‘s Security and Human Rights Program, agreed that “any proposal that fails to ban mass surveillance, end blanket secrecy, or stop discrimination against people outside the U.S. will be a false fix”.[37]

See also

References

  1. Jump up to:a b “Bill Summary & Status 113th Congress (2013–2014) H.R.3361″THOMAS, Library of Congress. Retrieved 8 May 2014.
  2. Jump up to:a b “Bill Summary & Status 113th Congress (2013–2014) H.R.3361″THOMAS, Library of Congress. Retrieved 8 May 2014.
  3. Jump up^ “Bill Summary & Status 113th Congress (2013–2014) H.R.3361″. THOMAS, Library of Congress.
  4. Jump up^ “Bill Summary & Status 113th Congress (2013–2014) S.1599″. THOMAS, Library of Congress.
  5. Jump up to:a b The Guardian: Chairman of key House committee agrees to proceed with NSA reform bill
  6. Jump up^ House Judicicary Committee: Manager’s Amendment to USA Freedom Act

    Section 102(b)(1) of the USA PATRIOT Improvement and Reauthorization Act of 2005 (50 U.S.C. 1805 note) is amended by striking ‘‘June 1, 2015’’ and inserting ‘‘December 31, 2017’’.

  7. Jump up^ The Guardian: USA Freedom Act unanimously clears House Judiciary Committee

    As amended, the USA Freedom Act would push back the expiration of Section 215 to the end of 2017, when Section 702 is set to expire. The current expiration is 1 June of next year. Some legislators are already whispering that allowing Section 215 to expire wholesale in 2015 is a preferable reform.

  8. Jump up to:a b Office of Senator Patrick Leahy: Comment Of Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Chairman, Senate Judiciary Committee, On Action by the House Judiciary Committee to End Bulk Collection
  9. Jump up^ “Bill Summary & Status: 113th Congress (2013–2014) H.R.3361 CRS Summary”. THOMAS, Library of Congress.
  10. Jump up to:a b Roberts, Dan. “The USA Freedom Act: a look at the key points of the draft bill”Guardian.com. Retrieved 18 January 2014.
  11. Jump up^ Wilhelm, Alex (2013-10-29). “Proposed USA FREEDOM Act Would Dramatically Curtail The NSA’s Surveillance”TechCrunch.com. Retrieved 18 January 2014.
  12. Jump up^ ‘Patriot Act’ Author Seeks ‘USA Freedom Act’ to Rein In NSA – US News and World Report. Usnews.com (October 10, 2013).
  13. Jump up to:a b c Gallagher, Rhan. “U.S. Lawmakers Launch Assault on NSA Domestic Snooping”Slate.com. Retrieved 18 January 2014.
  14. Jump up^ “USA Freedom Act Would Leash the National Security Agency”Businessweek. Bloomberg. 2013-10-31. Retrieved 18 January 2014.
  15. Jump up^ Sensenbrenner, Jim. “The USA Freedom Act”House.gov. Retrieved 18 January 2014.
  16. Jump up to:a b c Granick, Jennifer (2013-12-16). “NSA’s Creative Interpretations Of Law Subvert Congress And The Rule Of Law”Forbes. Retrieved 18 January 2014.
  17. Jump up to:a b Leahy, Sen. Patrick; Sensenbrenner, Rep. Jim (29 October 2013). “The case for NSA reform”Politico. Retrieved 18 January 2014.
  18. Jump up^ House Judicicary Committee: Manager’s Amendment to USA Freedom Act
  19. Jump up to:a b “Analysis of Specific USA PATRIOT Act Provisions: Expanded Dissemination of Information Obtained in Criminal Investigations”AnalysisElectronic Privacy Information Center. Retrieved July 11, 2008.
  20. Jump up^ “Bill Text 113th Congress (2013–2014) H.R.3361.IH”THOMASLibrary of Congress. Retrieved 2014-03-09.
  21. Jump up to:a b Roberts, Dan (2013-10-10). “Patriot Act author prepares bill to put NSA bulk collection ‘out of business'”Guardian. Retrieved 20 January 2014.
  22. Jump up^ Editorial Board (2013-06-06). “President Obama’s Dragnet”. New York Times.
  23. Jump up to:a b Krietz, Andrew (2013-10-15). “Amash-backed bill aimed to end NSA spying programs garners even bipartisan support”. Retrieved 20 January 2014.
  24. Jump up^ Shabad, Rebecca (2014-01-16). “Sen. Leahy on NSA claim: ‘Baloney'”The Hill.com. Retrieved 18 January 2014.
  25. Jump up^ House Judicicary Committee: Manager’s Amendment to USA Freedom Act
  26. Jump up^ James X. Dempsey“Why Sections 209, 212, and 220 Should be Modified” (undated). Retrieved October 15, 2007.
  27. Jump up^ “Resolution on the USA Patriot Act and Related Measures That Infringe on the Rights of Library Users”American Library Association. January 29, 2003. Retrieved July 11, 2008.
  28. Jump up^ ProPublica: What the Proposed NSA Reforms Wouldn’t Do
  29. Jump up^ National Journal: House Panels Race Against Each Other to Reform NSA Spying
  30. Jump up^ EFF Statement on Rep. Sensenbrenner’s USA FREEDOM Act Amendment
  31. Jump up^ Open Technology Institute: OTI Statement on New Version of Surveillance Reform Bill, The USA FREEDOM Act
  32. Jump up^ Foreign Policy: Key NSA Defender: Congress ‘A Lot Closer’ On Surveillance Reform
  33. Jump up^ Handerson (2013-10-29). “The Freedom Act will Help Rebuild User Trust in the Internet”The Mozilla Blog. Retrieved 18 January 2014.
  34. Jump up^ Kurt Opsahl and Rainey Reitman (2013-11-14). “A Floor, Not a Ceiling: Supporting the USA FREEDOM Act as a Step Towards Less Surveillance”. Electronic Frontier Foundation.
  35. Jump up^ Michelle Richardson (2013-10-29). “The USA FREEDOM Act is Real Spying Reform”. American Civil Liberties Union.
  36. Jump up^ Human Rights Watch: US: Modest Step by Congress on NSA Reform
  37. Jump up^ Amnesty International: Congress Must Put Human Rights at the Center of Surveillance Reform

External links

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/USA_Freedom_Act

 

XKeyscore

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Logo for the XKeyscore program

XKeyscore or XKEYSCORE (abbreviated as XKS) is a formerly secret computer system first used by the United States National Security Agency for searching and analyzing Internet data it collects worldwide every day. The program has been shared with other spy agencies including Australia’s Defence Signals Directorate, New Zealand’s Government Communications Security Bureau and the German Bundesnachrichtendienst.[1]

The program’s existence was publicly revealed in July 2013 by Edward Snowden in The Sydney Morning Herald and O Globo newspapers, though the codename is mentioned in earlier articles, and like many other codenames can also be seen in job postings, and in the online resumes of employees.[2][3]

The scope of XKeyscore

XKeyscore is a complicated system and various authors have different interpretations about its actual capabilities. Edward Snowden and Glenn Greenwald explained XKeyscore as being a system which enables almost unlimited surveillance of anyone anywhere in the world, while NSA said that usage of the system is limited and restricted.

According to The Washington Post and national security reporter Marc Ambinder, XKeyscore is an NSA data-retrieval system which consists of a series of user interfaces, backend databases, servers and software that selects certain types of data and metadata that the NSA has already collected using other methods.[4][5]

According to Snowden and Greenwald

On January 26, 2014, the German broadcaster Norddeutscher Rundfunk asked Edward Snowden in its TV interview: “What could you do if you would use XKeyscore?” and he answered:[1]

“You could read anyone’s email in the world, anybody you’ve got an email address for. Any website: You can watch traffic to and from it. Any computer that an individual sits at: You can watch it. Any laptop that you’re tracking: you can follow it as it moves from place to place throughout the world. It’s a one-stop-shop for access to the NSA’s information.”
“…You can tag individuals… Let’s say you work at a major German corporation and I want access to that network, I can track your username on a website on a form somewhere, I can track your real name, I can track associations with your friends and I can build what’s called a fingerprint, which is network activity unique to you, which means anywhere you go in the world, anywhere you try to sort of hide your online presence, your identity.”

According to The Guardian’s Glenn Greenwald, low-level NSA analysts can via systems like XKeyscore “listen to whatever emails they want, whatever telephone calls, browsing histories, Microsoft Word documents. And it’s all done with no need to go to a court, with no need to even get supervisor approval on the part of the analyst.”[6]

He added that the NSA’s databank of collected communications allows its analysts to listen “to the calls or read the emails of everything that the NSA has stored, or look at the browsing histories or Google search terms that you’ve entered, and it also alerts them to any further activity that people connected to that email address or that IP address do in the future”.[6]

According to the NSA

Further information: SIGINT

In an official statement from July 30, 2013, the NSA said there is no “unchecked analyst access to NSA collection data. Access to XKeyscore, as well as all of NSA’s analytic tools, is limited to only those personnel who require access for their assigned tasks.” The NSA also states that there are “stringent oversight and compliance mechanisms built in at several levels. One feature is the system’s ability to limit what an analyst can do with a tool, based on the source of the collection and each analyst’s defined responsibilities.”[7]

The agency defended the program, stressing that it was only used to legally obtain information about “legitimate foreign intelligence targets in response to requirements that our leaders need for information necessary to protect our nation and its interests. [...] XKeyscore is used as a part of NSA’s lawful foreign signals intelligence collection system. [...] These types of programs allow us to collect the information that enables us to perform our missions successfully — to defend the nation and to protect U.S. and allied troops abroad.”[8]

Workings

Slide from a 2008 NSA presentation about XKeyscore, showing a worldmap with the locations of XKeyscore servers

Slide from a 2008 NSA presentation about XKeyscore, showing the query hierarchy

An NSA presentation about XKeyscore from 2008 says that it’s a “DNI Exploitation System/Analytic Framework”. DNI stands for Digital Network Intelligence, which means intelligence derived from internet traffic.[9] In an interview with the German Norddeutscher Rundfunk, Edward Snowden said about XKeyscore: “It’s a front end search engine”.[10]

Data sources

XKeyscore consists of over 700 servers at approximately 150 sites where the NSA collects data, like “US and allied military and other facilities as well as US embassies and consulates” in many countries around the world.[11][12][13] Among the facilities involved in the program are four bases in Australia and one in New Zealand.[12]

According to an NSA presentation from 2008, these XKeyscore servers are fed with data from the following collection systems:[14]

  1. F6 (Special Collection Service) – joint operation of the CIA and NSA that carries out clandestine operations including espionage on foreign diplomats and leaders
  2. FORNSAT – which stands for “foreign satellite collection”, and refers to intercepts from satellites
  3. SSO (Special Source Operations) – a division of the NSA that cooperates with telecommunication providers

In a single, undated slide published by Swedish media in December 2013, the following additional data sources for XKeyscore are mentioned:[15]

  1. Overhead – intelligence derived from American spy planes, drones and satellites
  2. Tailored Access Operations – a division of the NSA that deals with hacking and cyberwarfare
  3. FISA – all types of surveillance approved by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court
  4. Third party – foreign partners of the NSA such as the (signals) intelligence agencies of Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, etc.

From these sources, XKeyscore stores “full-take data”, which are indexed by plug-ins that extract certain types of metadata (like phone numbers, e-mail addresses, log-ins, and user activity) and index them in metadata tables, which can be queried by analysts. XKeyscore has been integrated with MARINA, which is NSA’s database for internet metadata.[9]

However, the system continuously gets so much Internet data that it can be stored only for short periods of time. Content data remain on the system for only three to five days, while metadata is stored for up to 30 days.[16] A detailed commentary on an NSA presentation published in The Guardian in July 2013 cites a document published in 2008 declaring that “At some sites, the amount of data we receive per day (20+ terabytes) can only be stored for as little as 24 hours.”[17]

Capabilities

Slide from a 2008 NSA presentation about XKeyscore, showing the differences between the various NSA database systems

For analysts, XKeyscore provides a “series of viewers for common data types”, which allows them to query terabytes of raw data gathered at the aforementioned collection sites. This enables them to find targets that cannot be found by searching only the metadata, and also to do this against data sets that otherwise would have been dropped by the front-end data processing systems. According to a slide from an XKeyscore presentation, NSA collection sites select and forward less than 5% of the internet traffic to the PINWALE database for internet content.[16]

Because XKeyscore holds raw and unselected communications traffic, analysts can not only perform queries using “strong selectors” like e-mail addresses, but also using “soft selectors”, like keywords, against the body texts of e-mail and chat messages and digital documents and spreadsheets in English, Arabic and Chinese.[9]

This is useful because “a large amount of time spent on the web is performing actions that are anonymous” and therefore those activities can’t be found by just looking for e-mail addresses of a target. When content has been found, the analyst might be able to find new intelligence or a strong selector, which can then be used for starting a traditional search.[9]

Besides using soft selectors, analysts can also use the following other XKeyscore capabilities:[9][18]

  • Look for the usage of Google Maps and terms entered into a search engine by known targets looking for suspicious things or places.
  • Look for “anomalies” without any specific person attached, like detecting the nationality of foreigners by analyzing the language used within intercepted emails. An example would be a German speaker in Pakistan. The Brazilian paper O Globo claims that this has been applied to Latin America and specifically to Colombia, Ecuador, Mexico and Venezuela.[11][19]
  • Detect people who use encryption by do searches like “all PGP usage in Iran”. The caveat given is that very broad queries can result in too much data to transmit back to the analyst.
  • Showing the usage of Virtual private networks (VPNs) and machines that can potentially be hacked via TAO.
  • Track the source and authorship of a document that has passed through many hands.

Most of these things cannot be detected by other NSA tools because they operate with strong selectors (like e-mail and IP addresses and phone numbers) and the raw data volumes are too high to forward them to other NSA databases.[9]

In 2008, it was planned to add a number of new capabilities in the future, like:

Significance

The NSA slides published in The Guardian during 2013 claimed that XKeyscore had played a role in capturing 300 terrorists by 2008.[9] This claim could not be substantiated as the redacted documents do not cite instances of terrorist interventions.

A 2011 report from the NSA unit in Griesheim (Germany) says that XKeyscore made it easier and more efficient to target surveillance. Previously, analysis often accessed data they were not interested in. XKeyscore allowed them to focus on the intended topics, while ignoring unrelated data. XKeyscore also proved to be an outstanding tool for tracking active groups associated with the Anonymous movement in Germany, because it allows for searching on patterns, rather than particular individuals. An analyst is able to determine when targets research new topics, or develop new behaviors.[20]

To create additional motivation, the NSA incorporated various features from computer games into the program. For instance, analysts who were especially good at using XKeyscore could acquire “skilz” points and “unlock achievements.” The training units in Griesheim were apparently successful and analysts there had achieved the “highest average of skilz points” compared with all other NSA departments participating in the training program.[20]

Usage by foreign partners of the NSA

Germany

Excerpt of an NSA document leaked by Edward Snowden that reveals the BND‘s usage of the NSA’s XKeyscore to wiretap a German domestic target

According to documents Der Spiegel acquired from Snowden, the German intelligence agencies BND (foreign intelligence) and BfV (domestic intelligence) were also allowed to use the XKeyscore system. In those documents the BND agency was described as the NSA’s most prolific partner in information gathering.[21] This led to political confrontations, after which the directors of the German intelligence agencies briefed members of the German parliamentary intelligence oversight committee on July 25, 2013. They declared that XKeyscore has been used by the BND since 2007 and that the BfV uses a test version since 2012. The directors also explained that this program is not for collecting data, but only for analyzing them.[22]

Sweden

As part of the UKUSA Agreement, a secret treaty was signed in 1954 by Sweden with the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia and New Zealand for the purpose of intelligence collaboration and data sharing.[23] According to documents leaked by Snowden, the National Defence Radio Establishment (FRA) has been granted access to XKeyscore.[24]

 

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A covert operation (also as CoveOps or covert ops) is a military, intelligence or law enforcement operation that is carried clandestinely and, often, outside of official channels. Covert operations aim to fulfill their mission objectives without any parties knowing who sponsored or carried out the operation. It is normally sponsored by taxes from the government.

Under United States law, the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) is the sole US Government agency legally allowed to carry out Covert Action. The CIA’s authority to conduct Covert Action comes from the National Security Act of 1947. President Ronald Reagan issued Executive Order 12333 titled in 1984. This order defined covert action as “special activities”, both political and military, that the US Government could legally deny. The CIA was also designated as the sole authority under the 1991 Intelligence Authorization Act and in Title 50 of the United States Code Section 413(e). The CIA must have a “Presidential Finding” issued by the President of the United States in order to conduct these activities under the Hughes-Ryan amendment to the 1991 Intelligence Authorization Act. These findings are then monitored by the oversight committees in both the US Senate and the House of Representatives. As a result of this framework, the CIA “receives more oversight from the Congress than any other agency in the federal government.” The Special Activities Division (SAD) is a division of the CIA’s National Clandestine Service, responsible for Covert Action and “Special Activities”. These special activities include covert political influence and paramilitary operations. The division is overseen by the United States Secretary of State.

The following persons are known to have participated in covert operations, as distinct from clandestine intelligence gathering (espionage) either by their own admission or by the accounts of others: Robert Baer Jozef Gabčík and Jan Kubiš, Czechoslovak British-trained agents sent to assassinate one of the most important Nazis, Reinhard Heydrich, in 1942 as part of Operation Anthropoid. Aaron Franklin, World War II US Office of Strategic Services (OSS) officer who created a fake group of the German Army, made up of POWs, with the mission of killing Hitler. As a colonel, he was the first commander of United States Army Special Forces. Charles Beckwith, US Army colonel who was an early exchange officer with the British Special Air Service (SAS), and created the Delta Force (1st Special Forces Operational Detachment-Delta) based on the SAS. Gary Berntsen, CIA field officer and team leader during Operation Enduring Freedom Wendell Fertig, United States Army Reserve officer who organized large Filipino guerrilla forces against the Japanese in World War II Virginia Hall, American who first worked for the British Special Operations Executive, then for the American Office of Strategic Services in German-occupied France. Only U.S. woman to receive the Distinguished Service Cross. Eric Haney, founding member of Delta Force. Michael Harari, Israeli Mossad officer who led assassination operations (Operation Wrath of God) against PLO members accused of the 1972 Munich Massacre. Bruce Rusty Lang, commander of a mixed United States Army Special Forces & Montagnard (Degar/Bru people) commando Recon Team (RT Oklahoma) of Command and Control North, Studies and Observations Group. Previously served on Project 404, U.S. Embassy Laos, Assistant Army Attaché (“Secret War” in Laos 1970). Edward Lansdale, United States Air Force officer (and eventually major general) seconded to the CIA, and noted for his work with Ramon Magsaysay against the Hukbalahap insurgency in Philippines during the early 1950s, and later involved in Operation Mongoose against Cuba. T. E. Lawrence, British “Lawrence of Arabia” who organized Arab forces during World War I. Alain Mafart, French DGSE officer convicted, in New Zealand, for sinking the Greenpeace ship Rainbow Warrior. Richard Meadows, United States Army Special Forces officer known for many operations, including the POW rescue attempt at Son Tay, North Vietnam, and for deep operations in support of Operation Eagle Claw.

America’s Roundtable: Congressman Frank Wolf Calls for Select Committee – Benghazi Terrorist Attack

‘Protestors’ fly Al Qaeda Flag at US embassy on Sept 11, 2012 Cairo, Egypt

‘US has supported Arab uprisings, and now it’s blowback time’

Petraeus Testifies CIA’s Benghazi, Libya Talking Points Were Changed – Megyn Kelly

130519-benghazi-timeline-spreasheeet

 

 

 

Boehner to Establish Select Committee on Benghazi

Americans learned this week that the Obama Administration is so intent on obstructing the truth about Benghazi that it is even willing to defy subpoenas issued by the standing committees of the People’s House.  These revelations compel the House to take every possible action to ensure the American people have the truth about the terrorist attack on our consulate that killed four of our countrymen.  In light of these new developments, the House will vote to establish a new select committee to investigate the attack, provide the necessary accountability, and ensure justice is finally served.

“The administration’s withholding of documents – emails showing greater White House involvement in misleading the American people – is a flagrant violation of trust and undermines the basic principles of oversight upon which our system of government is built.  And it forces us to ask the question, what else about Benghazi is the Obama administration still hiding from the American people?

“The House committees that have been investigating this attack have done extraordinary work, using their subpoena power, holding dozens of hearings, and conducting hundreds of interviews.  Without this work we would not know much that we do today.  But it’s clear that questions remain, and the administration still does not respect the authority of Congress to provide proper oversight.  This dismissiveness and evasion requires us to elevate the investigation to a new level.  I intend for this select committee to have robust authority, and I will expect it to work quickly to get answers for the American people and the families of the victims.

“Four Americans died at the hands of terrorists nearly 20 months ago, and we are still missing answers, accountability, and justice.  It’s time that change.”

 

http://www.speaker.gov/press-release/boehner-establish-select-committee-benghazi

 

Boehner announces special committee on Benghazi, Kerry subpoenaed

 

House Republicans moved on two fronts Friday to dig for answers on Benghazi, with Speaker John Boehner announcing a special committee to investigate and a key panel subpoenaing Secretary of State John Kerry to testify.

In a significant shift, Boehner announced that the House will vote on establishing a select committee to investigate, on the heels of newly released emails that raised additional questions about the White House’s response.

Top Republicans claimed those emails should have been released to Congress months ago, and Boehner signaled those concerns prompted him to rethink the need for a select committee.

“Americans learned this week that the Obama Administration is so intent on obstructing the truth about Benghazi that it is even willing to defy subpoenas issued by the standing committees of the People’s House. These revelations compel the House to take every possible action to ensure the American people have the truth about the terrorist attack on our consulate that killed four of our countrymen,” he said in a statement.

“In light of these new developments, the House will vote to establish a new select committee to investigate the attack, provide the necessary accountability, and ensure justice is finally served.”

Boehner has long faced pressure from rank-and-file members to form such a panel to probe the attacks which killed four Americans including a U.S. ambassador, and until now had resisted. Fox News is told the speaker made the decision Thursday to go forward with a vote.

The committee is expected to be bipartisan, and Fox News is told Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., is among those being considered to lead it.

House GOP Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., said the “continued obstruction” made clear that a select committee is needed. Many of the details are still being worked out but Boehner claimed the panel, if approved in a vote by the full House, would have “robust authority.”

He called the alleged “withholding” of documents a “flagrant violation of trust.”

“This dismissiveness and evasion requires us to elevate the investigation to a new level,” Boehner said.

But Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid blasted the decision as an election-year stunt. “There have already been multiple investigations into this issue and an independent Accountability Review Board is mandated under current law,” Reid said in a statement. “For Republicans to waste the American people’s time and money staging a partisan political circus instead of focusing on the middle class is simply a bad decision.”

The movement comes after newly released emails raised questions about the White House role in pushing faulty claims about the attacks.

The emails in question were obtained and published by the conservative watchdog group Judicial Watch, following a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit. One email showed White House adviser Ben Rhodes discussing a “prep call” with then-U.N. ambassador Susan Rice, before she went on several Sunday shows and made controversial and flawed statements linking the attack to an anti-Islam Internet video.

The email from Rhodes emphasized the role of the Internet video — leading to GOP charges that this “smoking gun” shows the White House politicized the tragedy.

The White House maintains the “prep call” was in reference to protests elsewhere in the Middle East and Africa.

On the heels of those documents, the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee also announced Friday that it has issued the subpoena for Kerry to testify at a May 21 hearing. The chairman of that committee has accused the administration of hiding records following an earlier subpoena.

“The State Department’s response to the congressional investigation of the Benghazi attack has shown a disturbing disregard for the Department’s legal obligations to Congress,” Chairman Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., wrote in a letter to Kerry.

He added: “Compliance with a subpoena for documents is not a game. Because your Department is failing to meet its legal obligations, I am issuing a new subpoena to compel you to appear before the Committee to answer questions about your agency’s response to the congressional investigation of the Benghazi attack.”

Before the subpoena was announced, Boehner also called on Kerry to testify before Congress in light of these revelations.

A State Department official voiced surprise at the announcement, telling Fox News that the department has been cooperating with the committee all along.

White House officials have pushed back hard on Republican claims that the Rhodes email was a “smoking gun” that proves the administration politicized the attack.

Former White House spokesman Tommy Vietor told Fox News on Thursday that he wished the documents had been released earlier.

“I bet you every single person in that White House wished that email has been released earlier. I wish it too because it tells us nothing new, It tells us what we said privately was what we said publicly, because that is what we thought had occurred,” Vietor said.

As for the special committee, one of the biggest backers of such a panel, Rep. Frank Wolf, R-Va., commended Boehner for the decision.

He also cited Fox News’ reporting. “In the case of Benghazi, much credit goes to FOX News’ Catherine Herridge and Bret Baier for their tenacious commitment to this story and investigation,” he said in a statement.

http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2014/05/02/house-committee-subpoenas-kerry-over-benghazi-documents/

 

 

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Vikings — Videos

Posted on April 30, 2014. Filed under: American History, Blogroll, College, Economics, Education, European History, Fiscal Policy, history, History of Economic Thought, Language, liberty, Life, Links, Literacy, media, Philosophy, Photos, Politics, Psychology, Strategy, Video, War, Wealth, Weather, Wisdom | Tags: , , , , , |

The Vikings : Documentary on the Life, Culture, and Legacy of Vikings (Full Documentary)

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National Government Bureau of Land Management Saves The Desert Tortoises And Confiscates Cattle on Federal Land While Beef Prices Skyrocket — Update: BLS Retreat — Videos

Posted on April 12, 2014. Filed under: American History, Blogroll, Constitution, Economics, Federal Government, Freedom, Friends, Government Land Ownership, government spending, history, Investments, Law, liberty, media, People, Philosophy, Photos, Politics, Psychology, Rants, Regulations, Technology, Terrorism, Unemployment, Video, Water, Wealth | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

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Story 1: National Government Bureau of Land Management Saves The Desert Tortoises And Confiscates Cattle on Federal Land While Beef Prices Skyrocket — Videos

federal_land_ownership by statefed_land_ownership

Federal-Lands-States

fedland_nevadanevada-county-map

George Carlin -“Who Really Controls America”

Bobby Fuller I fought the law

Nevada Cattle Rancher Wins ‘Range War’ With Feds, All Cows Are Released

 

SHOCKING: Harry Reid behind This Bundy Cattle Ranch Standoff in Nevada

Cliven Bundy on Nevada Rancher standoff with feds: It’s for freedom and liberty – Lone Wolf

Showdown at Nevada Cattle Ranch

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Cliven Bundy bullied by the Fed’s

Food prices at grocery store skyrocketing

Beef Prices Skyrocketing

Land ownership in the American West

Revolution NOW in Nevada to Save Cliven Bundy

Yesterday Cliven Bundy’s friends & family Move In & Police Moved Out

We won ONE battle!

Range war 2014 Cliven D Bundy!

Cliven Bundy Under Siege, Call To Arms

The Heat is On: Desert Tortoises and Survival (Full video)

George Carlin on The Environment

Kevin Costner – OPEN RANGE – Full Movie

 

Nevada Cattle Rancher Wins ‘Range War’ With Feds

PHOTO: Federal agents clash with armed protestors over a ranchers 20-year tax fight.

 

AUTO START: ON OFF

A Nevada cattle rancher appears to have won his week-long battle with the federal government over a controversial cattle roundup that had led to the arrest of several protesters.

Cliven Bundy went head to head with the Bureau of Land Management over the removal of hundreds of his cattle from federal land, where the government said they were grazing illegally.

Bundy claims his herd of roughly 900 cattle have grazed on the land along the riverbed near Bunkerville, 80 miles northeast of Las Vegas, since 1870 and threatened a “range war” against the BLM on the Bundy Ranch website after one of his sons was arrested while protesting the removal of the cattle.

“I have no contract with the United States government,” Bundy said. “I was paying grazing fees for management and that’s what BLM was supposed to be, land managers and they were managing my ranch out of business, so I refused to pay.”

The federal government had countered that Bundy “owes the American people in excess of $1 million ” in unpaid grazing fees and “refuses to abide by the law of land, despite many opportunities over the last 20 years to do so.”

However, today the BLM said it would not enforce a court order to remove the cattle and was pulling out of the area.

“Based on information about conditions on the ground, and in consultation with law enforcement, we have made a decision to conclude the cattle gather because of our serious concern about the safety of employees and members of the public,” BLM Director Neil Kornze said.

“We ask that all parties in the area remain peaceful and law-abiding as the Bureau of Land Management and National Park Service work to end the operation in an orderly manner,” he said.

The roundup began April 5, following lengthy court proceedings dating back to 1993, federal officials said. Federal officers began impounding the first lot of cows last weekend, and Bundy responded by inviting supporters onto his land to protest the action.

“It’s not about cows, it’s about freedom,” Utah resident Yonna Winget told ABC News affiliateKTNV in Las Vegas, Nevada.

“People are getting tired of the federal government having unlimited power,” Bundy’s wife, Carol Bundy told ABC News.

By Sunday, April 6, one of Bundy’s sons, Dave Bundy, was taken into custody for refusing to disperse and resisting arrest, while hundreds of other protesters, some venturing from interstate, gathered along the road few miles from Bundy’s property in solidarity. Dave Bundy was later released.

A spokesman for the Bundy encampment told ABC News roughly 300 protesters had assembled for the protest, while a BLM representative estimated there were around 100 people.

“We want a peaceful protest, but we also want our voices heard,” said Cliven Bundy’s sister, Chrisie Marshall Bundy.

But clashes between demonstrators and authorities took a violent turn on Wednesday, with cell phone video showing some being tasered at the site, including Bundy’s son, Ammon Bundy. Two other protesters were detained, cited and later released on Thursday, according to the BLM.

As the movement grew by the day, and demonstrators rallied together, bonding by campfires at night, local protest leaders warned people not to wear camouflage and keep their weapons inside their vehicles.

Both sides said the issue is one of fairness, with the federal government maintaining that thousands of other cattle ranchers are abiding by the law by paying their annual grazing fees, while Bundy’s family and supporters say the government’s actions are threatening ranchers’ freedoms.

“It’s about the freedom of America,” said another of Bundy’s sisters, Margaret Houston. “We have to stand up and fight.

http://abcnews.go.com/US/nevada-cattle-rancher-wins-range-war-federal-government/story?id=23302610

Feds Back Down From Bundy Siege After Infowars Exposé of Chinese Land Grab

  • The Alex Jones Channel Alex Jones Show podcast Prison Planet TV Infowars.com Twitter Alex Jones' Facebook Infowars store

Huge victory for property rights as establishment handed crushing defeat

Paul Joseph Watson & Alex Jones
Infowars.com
April 12, 2014

UPDATE: Feds Back Down In New Bundy Standoff, Agree to Release Cattle

The federal government backed down and ended their siege against Nevada cattle rancher Cliven Bundy less than 24 hours after an Infowars exposé connecting the land grab to Harry Reid and a Chinese-backed solar farm went viral, becoming the biggest news story on the Internet.

Last night, we revealed how the feds were using the Bureau of Land Management to bully and intimidate ranchers like Bundy, pushing them off public land in order to pave the way for lucrative “green energy” projects backed by the Communist Chinese government and linked to Nevada Senator Harry Reid.

The story went viral, taking the number one spot on the Viral News Chart website and becoming the most trafficked story on the web thanks to syndication by news powerhouse the Drudge Report.

This morning, the Sheriff of Clark County, Nevada, Douglas Gillespie, announced to thousands of Bundy supporters gathered in Bunkerville that a deal had been brokered with Cliven Bundy that would see the BLM cease its roundup of the rancher’s cattle.

A press release has already been put forth that the BLM is going to cease this operation,” stated Gillespie, to a huge roar from the crowd of Bundy supporters.

Further reports established that, “the BLM wants to proceed with the sale of the cattle already gathered during the roundup but is reportedly willing to share the revenue from the sale with Bundy.”

This represents a huge victory in the fight against big government and the federal agenda to seize public land in the name of pursuing notoriously corrupt and wasteful “green energy” projects.

It serves to remind us of the power of media spotlight and grass roots activism in affecting real change.

The victory also illustrates the increasing irrelevance and declining influence of mainstream media. The national corporate media was forced to reluctantly carry this story only in the last couple of days, before which it had already generated a firestorm of interest solely as a result of grass roots media like Infowars.com, Drudge and other burgeoning independent news outlets.

If this operation was a test on behalf of the feds of where Americans draw their line in the sand, then the outcome spells disaster for big government, which has been handed a huge defeat in the battle to restore constitutional freedoms and property rights in the face of out of control tyranny.

Facebook @ https://www.facebook.com/paul.j.watson.71
FOLLOW Paul Joseph Watson @ https://twitter.com/PrisonPlanet

*********************

Paul Joseph Watson is the editor and writer for Infowars.com and Prison Planet.com. He is the author of Order Out Of Chaos. Watson is also a host for Infowars Nightly News.

This article was posted: Saturday, April 12, 2014 at 1:19 pm

http://www.infowars.com/feds-back-down-from-bundy-siege-after-infowars-expose-of-chinese-land-grab/

US senator joins critics of federal cattle roundup

A Republican U.S. senator added his voice Wednesday to critics of a federal cattle roundup fought by a Nevada rancher who claims longstanding grazing rights on remote public rangeland about 80 miles northeast of Las Vegas

Sen. Dean Heller of Nevada said he told new U.S. Bureau of Land Management chief Neil Kornze in Washington, D.C., that law-abiding Nevadans shouldn’t be penalized by an “overreaching” agency.

Republican Gov. Brian Sandoval pointed earlier to what he called “an atmosphere of intimidation,” resulting from the roundup and said he believed constitutional rights were being trampled.

Heller said he heard from local officials, residents and the Nevada Cattlemen’s Association and remained “extremely concerned about the size of this closure and disruptions with access to roads, water and electrical infrastructure.”

The federal government has shut down a scenic but windswept area about half the size of the state of Delaware to round up about 900 cattle it says are trespassing.

BLM and National Park Service officials didn’t immediately respond Wednesday to criticisms of the roundup that started Saturday and prompted the closure of the 1,200-square-mile area through May 12.

It’s seen by some as the latest battle over state and federal land rights in a state with deep roots in those disputes, including the Sagebrush Rebellion of the 1970s and ’80s. Nevada, where various federal agencies manage or control more than 80 percent of the land, is among several Western states where ranchers have challenged federal land ownership.

The current showdown pits rancher Cliven Bundy’s claims of ancestral rights to graze his cows on open range against federal claims that the cattle are trespassing on arid and fragile habitat of the endangered desert tortoise. Bundy has said he owns about 500 branded cattle on the range and claims the other 400 targeted for roundup are his, too.

BLM and Park Service officials see threats in Bundy’s promise to “do whatever it takes” to protect his property and in his characterization that the dispute constitutes a “range war.”

U.S. Rep. Steven Horsford, D-Las Vegas, noted that BLM officials were enforcing federal court orders that Bundy remove his animals. The legal battle has been waged for decades.

Kornze, the new BLM chief, is familiar with the area. He’s a natural resource manager who grew up in Elko, Nev., and served previously as a senior adviser to Senate Democratic Majority Leader Harry Reid.

Reid aide Kristen Orthman said her boss “hopes the trespassing cattle are rounded up safely so the issue can be resolved.”

Sandoval, a former state attorney general and federal district court judge, weighed in late Tuesday after several days of media coverage about blocked roads and armed federal agents fanning out around Bundy’s ranch while contractors using helicopters and vehicles herd cows into portable pens in rugged and remote areas.

“No cow justifies the atmosphere of intimidation which currently exists nor the limitation of constitutional rights that are sacred to all Nevadans,” the governor said in a statement.

Sandoval said he was most offended that armed federal officials have tried to corral people protesting the roundup into a fenced-in “First Amendment area” south of the resort city of Mesquite.

The site “tramples upon Nevadans’ fundamental rights under the U.S. Constitution” and should be dismantled, Sandoval said.

BLM spokeswoman Kirsten Cannon and Park Service spokeswoman Christie Vanover have told reporters during daily conference calls that free-speech areas were established so agents could ensure the safety of contractors, protesters, the rancher and his supporters.

The dispute between Bundy and the federal government dates to 1993, when land managers cited concern for the federally protected tortoise and capped his herd at 150 animals on a 250-square-mile rangeland allotment. Officials later revoked Bundy’s grazing rights completely.

Cannon said Bundy racked up more than $1.1 million in unpaid grazing fees over the years while disregarding several court orders to remove his animals.

Bundy estimates the unpaid fees total about $300,000. He notes that his Mormon family’s 19th century melon farm and ranch operation in surrounding areas predates creation of the BLM in 1946.

Since the cattle roundup began Saturday, there has been one arrest.

Bundy’s son, Dave Bundy, 37, was taken into custody Sunday as he watched the roundup from State Route 170. He was released Monday with bruises on his face and a citation accusing him of refusing to disperse and resisting arrest. A court date has not been set.

His mother, Carol Bundy, alleged that her son was roughed up by BLM police.

Meanwhile, federal officials say 277 cows have been collected. Cannon said state veterinarian and brand identification officials will determine what becomes of the impounded cattle.

 

Defiant Nevada rancher faces armed federal agents in escalating confiscation standoff

A long-simmering dispute between a Nevada cattle rancher and the federalBureau of Land Management has reached a boiling point, and participants have their fingers crossed it won’t erupt into violence.

cattleranch0409newtest

Since 1993, Cliven Bundy has been battling the agency, as well as the National Park Service, the Center for Biological Diversity and the courts, to graze his cattle on 150 square miles of Gold Butte scrub land in the Lake Mead National Recreation Area. He stopped paying his grazing fees back then, saying he “fired” the Bureau of Land Management as land manager. His Mormon ancestors had tilled the unforgiving soil since 1887, long before the 1934 Taylor Grazing Act allowed the federal government to seize control, TheBlaze reported.

“I have raised cattle on that land, which is public land for the people of Clark County, all my life. Why I raise cattle there and why I can raise cattle there is because I have preemptive rights,” he asserted, explaining to TheBlaze that this includes the right to forage, too.

Furthermore, Bundy has argued that it is the United States trespassing on Clark County, Nev., land, not he, and that he is a better steward of the land. He points out that the manure from his cows fertilizes the soil, that he’s built water sources for wildlife, and that his cattle prevent the vegetation from growing overly dense and creating a fire hazard.

But environmentalists, federal officials and the courts disagree. Armed federal officials and contract cowboys have been brought in to execute a 2013 court order and remove the trespassing cattle.

“It’s high time for the BLM to do its job and give the [endangered desert] tortoises and the Gold Butte area the protection they need and are legally entitled to,” senior Center for Biological Diversity scientist Rob Mrowka told theMesquite Local News. “As the tortoises emerge from their winter sleep, they are finding their much-needed food consumed by cattle.”

Bundy’s herd also hinders the plants’ ability to recover from wildfires, tramples rare species, damages ancient American Indian cultural sites and endangers recreationists, Mrowka added.

The Bureau of Land Management website says Bundy has defied trespass laws for more than two decades, ignored rules and fees that other cattle ranchers have observed and refused “repeated attempts to resolve the matter administratively and judicially,” according to TheBlaze. While Bundy stated that he owed the BLM $300,000 in back grazing fees, spokeswoman Kirsten Cannon put the figure closer to $1.1 million.

Plus, the roundup of the approximately 900 unwelcome cattle could cost as much as $3 million. But the 68-year-old Bundy has remained unintimidated.

The Bureau of Land Management “has overstepped its boundaries by not letting me access my rights,” he said, and contended that it had inserted “200 armed officers watching our every move and stealing our cattle.” Bundy’s wife, Carol, said snipers are patrolling the family’s ranch.

Spokeswoman Cannon responded that “There are law enforcement and other personnel in place as needed to ensure that the BLM and National Park Service’s employees and contractors are able to conduct operations safely.”

Bundy has vowed to do whatever it takes to protect his property, and his 14 children and hundreds of supporters stand behind him. Dave Bundy, his son, was arrested on Sunday afternoon while attempting to film the contract cowboys at work, and cited for failing to disperse and resisting arrest.

Thus far, 234 cows have been impounded as the Bureau of Land Management has temporarily closed the public recreation area. Bundy’s plea to the Clark County Sheriff to intervene was stymied as the action fell under federal jurisdiction.

While the last rancher in southern Nevada argues “it’s a freedom issue,” federal officials are executing the “no trespassing” court mandate.

Whether violence and bloodshed can be avoided remains to be seen.

http://www.bizpacreview.com/2014/04/09/defiant-nevada-rancher-faces-armed-federal-agents-in-escalating-confiscation-standoff-111391

Armed Fed Agents and Snipers? Nevada Rancher Is Taking on the Gov’t in a Battle That’s Reaching a Breaking Point

Armed federal agents deployed last week to northeast Clark County, Nev., for what can only be described as a major escalation in a decades-long standoff between a local cattle rancher and the U.S. government.

Cliven Bundy, right, and Clance Cox, left, stand at the Bundy ranch near Bunkerville Nev. Saturday, April 5, 2014. The U.S. Bureau of Land Management started taking cattle on Saturday from rancher Bundy, who it says has been trespassing on U.S. land without required grazing permits for over 25 years. Bundy doesn't recognize federal authority on land he insists belongs to Nevada. (AP Photo/Las Vegas Review-Journal, John Locher) AP Photo/Las Vegas Review-Journal, John Locher

Cliven Bundy, the last remaining rancher in the southern Nevada county, stands in defiance of a 2013 court order demanding that he remove his cattle from public land managed by the U.S. Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Land Management.

The 67-year-old veteran rancher, who has compared the situation to similar confrontations with government officials inRuby Ridge and Waco, Texas, told TheBlaze that his family has used land in the 600,000-acre Gold Butte area since the late 1800s.

“I have raised cattle on that land, which is public land for the people of Clark County, all my life. Why I raise cattle there and why I can raise cattle there is because I have preemptive rights,” he said, explaining that among them is the right to forage.

“Who is the trespasser here? Who is the trespasser on this land? Is the United States trespassing on Clark County, Nevada, land? Or is it Cliven Bundy who is trespassing on Clark County, Nevada, land? Who’s the trespasser?”

Claiming that all other options have been exhausted, the Bureau of Land Management and the U.S. National Park Service responded to Bundy’s inflexibility on the issue by calling on federal agents and contract cowboys to restrict access to the public land and to confiscate Bundy’s “trespass cattle.”

“Cattle have been in trespass on public lands in southern Nevada for more than two decades. This is unfair to the thousands of other ranchers who graze livestock in compliance with federal laws and regulations throughout the West,” the Bureau of Land Management stated on its website about the case.

“The Bureau of Land Management and the National Park Service have made repeated attempts to resolve this matter administratively and judicially. An impoundment of cattle illegally grazing on public lands is now being conducted as a last resort,” it added.

Federal employees and contractors have so far impounded approximately 234 of Bundy’s estimated 900 “trespass cattle.”

The restrictions on the land are expected to stay in place until May 12. Earlier news reports stated that federal officials were considering auctioning the cattle to buyers in nearby counties in Utah. However, a Bureau of Land Management spokeswoman told TheBlaze Monday that the agency has no plans to ship impounded cattle for auction “in the near future.”

Embattled Bunkerville rancher Cliven Bundy, left, and his son Dave Bundy talk to a reporter on the corner of North Las Vegas Boulevard and East Stewart Avenue in downtown Las Vegas Monday, April 7, 2014. The 37-year-old Dave Bundy was taken into custody by federal agents on Sunday afternoon along state Route 170 near Mesquite. He was released Monday after being issued citations for failing to disperse and resisting arrest. The Bureau of Land Management has begun to round up what they call "trespass cattle" that rancher Cliven Bundy has been grazing in the Gold Butte area 80 miles northeast of Las Vegas.(AP Photo/Las Vegas Review-Journal, K.M. Cannon) AP Photo/Las Vegas Review-Journal, K.M. Cannon

The government’s move to assert itself in the Gold Butte area shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise considering the fact that it’s a move years in the making. In fact, the tense relationship between Bundy and federal government dates back to well before the 2013 court order.

The fight began when Bundy stopped paying the Bureau of Land Management’s grazing fees in 1993, arguing in court filings that he had no obligation to pay the agency because his Mormon ancestors had worked the land decades before the agency was formed.

Bundy claims he owes roughly $300,000 in back fees, but the federal government says it’s more than that.

“It’s a freedom issue. It’s not about cows. It’s a state rights issue.”

Share:

“That number, the $300,00, that was a number estimated through Sept. 11, 2011,” Bureau of Land Management spokeswoman Kirsten Cannon said in a phone call with reporters Monday. “Since then, the estimated amount owed by him – so including the $300,000 – totals $1.1 million.”

In addition, the cost of removing the rancher’s cattle from the public land will cost taxpayers roughly $3 million, according to initial estimates.

The land was finally declared off-limits for cattle in 1998 and became a designated habitat for the federally protected desert tortoise. That same year, a judge ordered Bundy to remove his cattle. He refused to comply.

Contractors for the Bureau of Land Management round up cattle belonging to Cliven Bundy with a helicopter near Bunkerville, Nev. Monday, April 7, 2014. The Bureau of Land Management has begun to round up what they call "trespass cattle" that rancher Cliven Bundy has been grazing in the Gold Butte area 80 miles northeast of Las Vegas. (AP Photo/Las Vegas Review-Journal, John Locher) AP Photo/Las Vegas Review-Journal, John Locher

All throughout his decades-long struggle with the federal government, the veteran rancher has maintained that Washington has no right to order him from the land.

The Bureau of Land Management has “overstepped its boundaries by not letting me access my rights, not recognizing state’s sovereignty, and having over 200 armed officers watching our every move and stealing our cattle,” Bundy said.

The rancher’s wife, Carol, said there now appear to be snipers stationed around the family’s 150-acre ranch.

Asked about the Bundys’ sniper claim, Cannon would neither confirm nor deny the allegation.

“There are law enforcement and other personnel in place as needed to ensure that the BLM and National Park Services employees and contractors are able to conduct the operation safely,” Cannon said. “Specific operations information regarding this impoundment will not be released.”

“Who is the trespasser here? Who is the trespasser on this land?”

Share:

But the presence of what appear to be heavily armed agents isn’t the only thing that has the Bundys on edge: Their son, Dave, was arrested and allegedly roughed up Sunday for filming federal agents while outside an area designated for First Amendment activity on the restricted property. He was held overnight.

The 37-year-old Bundy was arrested “following failure to comply with multiple requests by BLM law enforcement to leave the temporary closure area on public lands,” Cannon said. She declined to comment on the claim that he was brutally treated.

Dave Bundy was released from custody Monday and cited for refusing to disperse and resisting issuance of a citation or arrest, she added. Cannon could not explain why Dave was held overnight.

The rancher said that he hopes Clark County Sheriff Doug Gillespie intervenes soon and ends the face-off once and for all.

“The federal government has no authority here,” Bundy said. “The sheriff has the authority. All he has to say is, ‘no’ and that’ll get the federal government out of here. I think he has that much power.”

It seems unlikely at this point, however, that the sheriff will intervene, as he has opted to let federal agents handle the situation. The sheriff has in the past advised Bundy on seeking legal counsel while the sheriff has extended federal deadlines.

The sheriff’s office referred media inquiries to the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department, which confirmed to TheBlaze Monday that federal officials are handling the Bundy operation.

Dave Bundy, son of embattled Bunkerville rancher Cliven Bundy, to a reporter about his arrest during an interview on the corner of North Las Vegas Boulevard and East Stewart Avenue in downtown Las Vegas Monday, April 7, 2014. The 37-year-old Bundy was taken into custody by federal agents on Sunday afternoon along state Route 170 near Mesquite. He was released Monday after being issued citations for failing to disperse and resisting arrest. The Bureau of Land Management has begun to round up what they call "trespass cattle" that rancher Cliven Bundy has been grazing in the Gold Butte area 80 miles northeast of Las Vegas. (AP Photo/Las Vegas Review-Journal, K.M. Cannon) AP Photo/Las Vegas Review-Journal, K.M. Cannon

“That incident is being handled by another agency,” a Las Vegas police spokeswoman said. “It’s something we’re referring people to the BLM.”

Asked about Bundy’s claim that the sheriff’s office has ignored him, the spokeswoman added: “There’s nothing further that’s coming from this department about that incident, this operation. We’re just referring everything over to BLM. It’s not our operation. There’s no statement that has been issued about it.”

But with or without the sheriff, Bundy remains defiant.

A Bureau of Land Management ranger stands guard at the entrance of a staging area near Mesquite, Nev. Saturday, April 5, 2014. The U.S. Bureau of Land Management started taking cattle on Saturday from rancher Cliven Bundy, who it says has been trespassing on U.S. land without required grazing permits for over 25 years. Bundy doesn't recognize federal authority on land he insists belongs to Nevada. (AP Photo/Las Vegas Review-Journal, John Locher) AP Photo/Las Vegas Review-Journal, John Locher

“It’s a freedom issue. It’s not about cows. It’s a state rights issue. I really hope that we can learn and defend our liberties here and keep on fighting until the end,” he said. “I don’t when the end is going to be, but I believe that America is the greatest land in the world and it needs to be protected.”

“Our rights and liberties need to be protected and we’re going to stand for that,” he added.

 

 

Nevada Governor Blasts Feds’ ‘First Amendment Area’ in Bundy Dispute

“Constitutional rights sacred to all Nevadans”

Paul Joseph Watson

Infowars.com

April 9, 2014

Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval has inserted himself into the escalating standoff between cattle rancher Cliven Bundy and federal officials by blasting the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) over their creation of a ‘First Amendment Area’ outside of which free speech is banned.

Image: First Amendment Area (YouTube).

The ‘First Amendment Area’ set up by BLM agents is a crudely taped off piece of land inside which supporters of Bundy, who is engaged in a long running dispute with feds over grazing rights on a 600,000 acre expanse in northeastern Clark County, are allowed to express their free speech.

However, protesters have completely ignored the area, instead staging large demonstrations on Bundy’s ranch. The only presence inside the ‘First Amendment Area’ are signs which read “1st Amendment is not an area” and another that states, “Welcome to Amerika – Wake Up” alongside a hammer and sickle logo.

“Most disturbing to me is the BLM’s establishment of a ‘First Amendment Area’ that tramples upon Nevadans’ fundamental rights under the U.S. Constitution,” said Sandoval in a statement. “To that end, I have advised the BLM that such conduct is offensive to me and countless others and that the ‘First Amendment Area’ should be dismantled immediately.”

“No cow justifies the atmosphere of intimidation which currently exists nor the limitation of constitutional rights that are sacred to all Nevadans. The BLM needs to reconsider its approach to this matter and act accordingly,” asserted the Governor.

The Bundy family responded to Sandoval’s statement by saying they were disappointed that he didn’t take a more firm stance to back them in their dispute with the BLM, but they were pleased with his sentiments regarding the ‘First Amendment Area’.

“Whenever you designate an area, then you’re restricting it everywhere else. When you designate an area like that for first amendment rights, you [don't] give the people any rights. You [take them] away, and every other location,” said Ryan Bundy.

The Bundy family came face to face with the consequences of violating the free speech zone on Sunday when Dave Bundy was arrested for taking video footage from a state highway of BLM agents rounding up his family’s cattle. Video footage later proved that armed snipers had their guns trained on the family during the incident.

On Sunday, Cliven Bundy promised to launch a “range war” on federal officials after they began rounding up his cattle. Authorities are justifying the move by pointing out they are simply enforcing a 1993 rule change which prevents Bundy’s livestock from grazing on the land in order to protect the endangered desert tortoise.

Bundy and his supporters see the spat as something entirely different, portraying it as a clash between out of control big government and patriotic American family farmers.

With Bundy’s ranch under constant surveillance from armed agents ensconced inside what Ryan Bundy described as a “military compound,” some fear the standoff could lead to a Ruby Ridge or Waco-style tragedy.

http://www.infowars.com/nevada-governor-blasts-feds-first-amendment-area-in-bundy-dispute/

Wake up America,’ says family involved in BLM cattle dispute
By Faith Heaton Jolley and Dave Cawley
April 7th, 2014 @ 6:56pm

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CLARK COUNTY, Nevada — A man has been released after being arrested Sunday during an ongoing dispute over grazing rights between the Bureau of Land Management and a family in southern Nevada, and the family is calling for action.

A federal judge in Las Vegas first ordered Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy to remove his trespassing cattle in 1998, according to reports from the Associated Press. Similar orders were issued in July 2013, and again in October.

Saturday, the BLM began taking some of the 908 cattle from Bundy. The BLM says Bundy’s cattle have been trespassing on U.S. land without required grazing permits for over 25 years. However, Bundy said he doesn’t recognize federal authority on land that he says belongs to the state of Nevada.

The BLM released a statement on its website saying, “Cattle have been in trespass on public lands in Southern Nevada for more than two decades. This is unfair to the thousands of other ranchers who graze livestock in compliance with federal laws and regulations throughout the west. The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and the National Park Service (NPS) have made repeated attempts to resolve this matter administratively and judicially.”

The situation escalated Saturday after Cliven Bundy’s son, Dave Bundy, 37, was arrested. Members of the Bundy family had gathered to film and take pictures of the removal of their cattle in an effort to document the event, according to Cliven Bundy’s daughter, Bailey Bundy Logue.

The family members had parked on the side of Nevada state Route 170, but the highway was included in the temporary closure of public lands, according to BLM representative Kirsten Cannon. Dave Bundy was arrested and cited with a criminal charge of refusing to disperse and resisting officers. Cannon said all public lands are closed within the designated closure area during the removal of the trespassing cattle.

Wake up America. Look what our ancestors fought for and we need to stand up for that. We need to realize what’s happening. They are taking everything away from us. This isn’t only about one family. This is about everyone’s family.

–Bailey Bundy Logue

Logue said Dave Bundy was taking pictures and recording on his iPad when he was asked by federal employees what he was doing. Logue said that Dave Bundy told the BLM workers that he was “exercising (his) First Amendment rights.”

“He did not resist arrest, but they continued to beat him,” Logue told KSL. “They put him on the ground and were standing on his head and had a dozen officers on top of him and dogs.”

The Bundy family was asked to leave the premises after Dave Bundy’s arrest. Logue said that there were snipers and uniformed men on the scene during the cattle impoundment.

“That’s scary,” Logue said. “I was angry, but there was nothing I can do. We were so outnumbered. With nothing but weapons of our cameras, we did our best at taking pictures. But when you’re in that situation your mind is not thinking very straight.”

Dave Bundy was released Monday afternoon. However, the Bundy family said they feel that their First Amendment rights were violated and that they were entitled to meet on state Route 170 to take pictures.

“That is against our First Amendment right,” Logue said. “They say it’s a First Amendment area, but we have rights everywhere. Since when have we had First Amendment areas? That’s not what it says in the Constitution.”

The Bundy family said they organized a rally for people to meet to support their First Amendment rights and their rights to public land. The rally was held near state Route 170 and I-15 on private land and around 100 people held a peaceful protest, Cannon said.

“We have got together hundreds of people from all over the world and they are here, not because this is about cattle,” Logue said. “We are asking people to come and stand up for their rights. We have lost all state sovereignty. I mean (it’s like) martial law in our home town, in America.”

Cannon said 134 cattle had been impounded by federal employees as of Monday afternoon, but the location will not be released during the ongoing operation. The cattle roundup was estimated to take between 21 to 30 days with further temporary closures during the operation.

“Wake up America,” Logue said. “Look what our ancestors fought for and we need to stand up for that. We need to realize what’s happening. They are taking everything away from us. This isn’t only about one family. This is about everyone’s family. This is martial law and it’s in America and so what are you going to do to have it stay out of America?”

Cliven Bundy reportedly owes the BLM and U.S. government $1 million in back grazing fees, according to Cannon.

http://www.ksl.com/index.php?nid=1070&sid=29387272&fm=most_popular

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NSA Metadata To Be Held By Telephone Companies — Great Distraction — Still Collecting and Intercepting All Americans Telephone Calls and All Information Transmitted Over The Internet and Telephone Exchanges — Stop Deceiving The American People Mr. President — Videos

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Story 1: NSA Metadata To Be Held By Telephone Companies — Great Distraction — Still Collecting and Intercepting All Americans Telephone Calls and All Information Transmitted Over The Internet and Telephone Exchanges — Stop Deceiving The American People Mr. President — Videos

Obama: NSA Proposal Satisfies Public Concerns

 

Obama announces overhaul of NSA metadata collection

NSA – Changes To Metadata Program – Special Report All Star

President Obama Names Michael Rogers As New Head Of The NSA

Background Articles and Videos

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Through a PRISM, Darkly – Everything we know about NSA spying [30c3]

Published on Dec 30, 2013

Through a PRISM, Darkly
Everything we know about NSA spying

From Stellar Wind to PRISM, Boundless Informant to EvilOlive, the NSA spying programs are shrouded in secrecy and rubber-stamped by secret opinions from a court that meets in a faraday cage. The Electronic Frontier Foundation’s Kurt Opsahl explains the known facts about how the programs operate and the laws and regulations the U.S. government asserts allows the NSA to spy on you.
The Electronic Frontier Foundation, a non-profit civil society organization, has been litigating against the NSA spying program for the better part of a decade. EFF has collected and reviewed dozens of documents, from the original NY Times stories in 2005 and the first AT&T whistleblower in 2006, through the latest documents released in the Guardian or obtained through EFF’s Freedom of Information (government transparency) litigation. EFF attorney Kurt Opsahl’s lecture will describe how the NSA spying program works, the underlying technologies, the targeting procedures (how they decide who to focus on), the minimization procedures (how they decide which information to discard), and help you makes sense of the many code names and acronyms in the news. He will also discuss the legal and policy ramifications that have become part of the public debate following the recent disclosures, and what you can do about it. After summarizing the programs, technologies, and legal/policy framework in the lecture, the audience can ask questions.

Speaker: Kurt Opsahl
EventID: 5255
Event: 30th Chaos Communication Congress [30c3] by the Chaos Computer Club [CCC]
Location: Congress Centrum Hamburg (CCH); Am Dammtor; Marseiller Straße; 20355 Hamburg; Germany
Language: english

Glenn Becks “SURVEILLANCE STATE”

Inside the NSA

Ed Snowden, NSA, and Fairy Tales

AT&T Spying On Internet Traffic

For years the National Securities Agency, has been spying on each & every keystroke. The national headquarters of AT&T is in Missouri, where ex-employees describe a secret room. The program is called “Splitter Cut-In & Test Procedure.”

NSA Whistle-Blower Tells All – Op-Docs: The Program

The filmmaker Laura Poitras profiles William Binney, a 32-year veteran of the National Security Agency who helped design a top-secret program he says is broadly collecting Americans’ personal data.

NSA Whistleblower: Everyone in US under virtual surveillance, all info stored, no matter the post

He told you so: Bill Binney talks NSA leaks

William Benny – The Government is Profiling You (The NSA is Spying on You)

‘After 9/11 NSA had secret deal with White House’

The story of Whistleblower Thomas Drake

Whistleblowers, Part Two: Thomas Drake

NSA Whistleblower Thomas Drake speaks at National Press Club – March 15, 2013

Meet Edward Snowden: NSA PRISM Whistleblower

The Truth About Edward Snowden

N.S.A. Spying: Why Does It Matter?

Inside The NSA~Americas Cyber Secrets

NSA Whistleblower Exposes Obama’s Dragnet

AT&T whistleblower against immunity for Bush spy program-1/2

AT&T Whistleblower Urges Against Immunity for Telecoms in Bush Spy Program

The Senate is expected to vote on a controversial measure to amend the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act tomorrow. The legislation would rewrite the nation’s surveillance laws and authorize the National Security Agency’s secret program of warrantless wiretapping. We speak with Mark Klein, a technician with AT&T for over twenty-two years. In 2006 Klein leaked internal AT&T documents that revealed the company had set up a secret room in its San Francisco office to give the National Security Agency access to its fiber optic internet cables.

AT&T whistleblower against immunity for Bush spy program-2/2

Enemy Of The State 1998 (1080p) (Full movie)

Background Articles and Videos

Stellar Wind

Stellar Wind was the open secret code name for four surveillance programs by the United States National Security Agency (NSA) during the presidency of George W. Bush and revealed by Thomas Tamm to The New York Times reporters James Risen and Eric Lichtblau.[1] The operation was approved by President George W. Bush shortly after the September 11 attacks in 2001.[2] Stellar Wind was succeeded during the presidency of Barack Obama by four major lines of intelligence collection in the territorial United States, together capable of spanning the full range of modern telecommunications.[3]

The program’s activities involved data mining of a large database of the communications of American citizens, including e-mail communications, phone conversations, financial transactions, and Internet activity.[1] William Binney, a retired Technical Leader with the NSA, discussed some of the architectural and operational elements of the program at the 2012 Chaos Communication Congress.[4]

There were internal disputes within the Justice Department about the legality of the program, because data are collected for large numbers of people, not just the subjects of Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) warrants.[4]

During the Bush Administration, the Stellar Wind cases were referred to by FBI agents as “pizza cases” because many seemingly suspicious cases turned out to be food takeout orders. According to Mueller, approximately 99 percent of the cases led nowhere, but “it’s that other 1% that we’ve got to be concerned about”.[2] One of the known uses of these data were the creation of suspicious activity reports, or “SARS”, about people suspected of terrorist activities. It was one of these reports that revealed former New York governor Eliot Spitzer’s use of prostitutes, even though he was not suspected of terrorist activities.[1]

In March 2012 Wired magazine published “The NSA Is Building the Country’s Biggest Spy Center (Watch What You Say)” talking about a vast new NSA facility in Utah and says “For the first time, a former NSA official has gone on the record to describe the program, codenamed Stellar Wind, in detail,” naming the official William Binney, a former NSA code breaker. Binney went on to say that the NSA had highly secured rooms that tap into major switches, and satellite communications at both AT&T and Verizon.[5] The article suggested that the otherwise dispatched Stellar Wind is actually an active program.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stellar_Wind_%28code_name%29

PRISM

PRISM is a clandestine national security electronic surveillance program operated by the United States National Security Agency (NSA) since 2007.[1][2][3][Notes 1] PRISM is a government codename for a data collection effort known officially as US-984XN.[8][9] It is operated under the supervision of the United States Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court pursuant to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA).[10] The existence of the program was leaked by NSA contractor Edward Snowden and published by The Guardian and The Washington Post on June 6, 2013.

A document included in the leak indicated that the PRISM SIGAD was “the number one source of raw intelligence used for NSA analytic reports.”[11] The President’s Daily Brief, an all-source intelligence product, cited PRISM data as a source in 1,477 items in 2012.[12] The leaked information came to light one day after the revelation that the United States Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court had been requiring the telecommunications company Verizon to turn over to the NSA logs tracking all of its customers’ telephone calls on an ongoing daily basis.[13][14]

According to the Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, PRISM cannot be used to intentionally target any Americans or anyone in the United States. Clapper said a special court, Congress, and the executive branch oversee the program and extensive procedures ensure the acquisition, retention, and dissemination of data accidentally collected about Americans is kept to a minimum.[15] Clapper issued a statement and “fact sheet”[16] to correct what he characterized as “significant misimpressions” in articles by The Washington Post and The Guardian newspapers.[17]

History

Slide showing that much of the world’s communications flow through the US

Details of information collected via PRISM

PRISM is a “Special Source Operation” in the tradition of NSA’s intelligence alliances with as many as 100 trusted U.S. companies since the 1970s.[1] A prior program, the Terrorist Surveillance Program, was implemented in the wake of the September 11 attacks under the George W. Bush Administration but was widely criticized and had its legality questioned, because it was conducted without approval of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC).[18][19][20][21] PRISM was authorized by an order of the FISC.[11] Its creation was enabled by the Protect America Act of 2007 under President Bush and the FISA Amendments Act of 2008, which legally immunized private companies that cooperated voluntarily with US intelligence collection and was renewed by Congress under President Obama in 2012 for five years until December 2017.[2][22] According to The Register, the FISA Amendments Act of 2008 “specifically authorizes intelligence agencies to monitor the phone, email, and other communications of U.S. citizens for up to a week without obtaining a warrant” when one of the parties is outside the U.S.[22]

PRISM was first publicly revealed on June 6, 2013, after classified documents about the program were leaked to The Washington Post and The Guardian by American Edward Snowden.[2][1] The leaked documents included 41 PowerPoint slides, four of which were published in news articles.[1][2] The documents identified several technology companies as participants in the PRISM program, including (date of joining PRISM in parentheses) Microsoft (2007), Yahoo! (2008), Google (2009), Facebook (2009), Paltalk (2009), YouTube (2010), AOL (2011), Skype (2011), and Apple (2012).[23] The speaker’s notes in the briefing document reviewed by The Washington Post indicated that “98 percent of PRISM production is based on Yahoo, Google and Microsoft.”[1]

The slide presentation stated that much of the world’s electronic communications pass through the United States, because electronic communications data tend to follow the least expensive route rather than the most physically direct route, and the bulk of the world’s internet infrastructure is based in the United States.[11] The presentation noted that these facts provide United States intelligence analysts with opportunities for intercepting the communications of foreign targets as their electronic data pass into or through the United States.[2][11]

According to The Washington Post, the intelligence analysts search PRISM data using terms intended to identify suspicious communications of targets whom the analysts suspect with at least 51 percent confidence to not be United States citizens, but in the process, communication data of some United States citizens are also collected unintentionally.[1] Training materials for analysts tell them that while they should periodically report such accidental collection of non-foreign United States data, “it’s nothing to worry about.”[1]

Response from companies

The original Washington Post and Guardian articles reporting on PRISM noted that one of the leaked briefing documents said PRISM involves collection of data “directly from the servers” of several major internet services providers.[2][1]

Initial Public Statements

Corporate executives of several companies identified in the leaked documents told The Guardian that they had no knowledge of the PRISM program in particular and also denied making information available to the government on the scale alleged by news reports.[2][24] Statements of several of the companies named in the leaked documents were reported by TechCrunch and The Washington Post as follows:[25][26]

Slide listing companies and the date that PRISM collection began

  • Microsoft: “We provide customer data only when we receive a legally binding order or subpoena to do so, and never on a voluntary basis. In addition we only ever comply with orders for requests about specific accounts or identifiers. If the government has a broader voluntary national security program to gather customer data we don’t participate in it.”[25]
  • Yahoo!: “Yahoo! takes users’ privacy very seriously. We do not provide the government with direct access to our servers, systems, or network.”[25] “Of the hundreds of millions of users we serve, an infinitesimal percentage will ever be the subject of a government data collection directive.”[26]
  • Facebook: “We do not provide any government organization with direct access to Facebook servers. When Facebook is asked for data or information about specific individuals, we carefully scrutinize any such request for compliance with all applicable laws, and provide information only to the extent required by law.”[25]
  • Google: “Google cares deeply about the security of our users’ data. We disclose user data to government in accordance with the law, and we review all such requests carefully. From time to time, people allege that we have created a government ‘back door’ into our systems, but Google does not have a backdoor for the government to access private user data.”[25] “[A]ny suggestion that Google is disclosing information about our users’ Internet activity on such a scale is completely false.”[26]
  • Apple: “We have never heard of PRISM. We do not provide any government agency with direct access to our servers, and any government agency requesting customer data must get a court order.”[27]
  • Dropbox: “We’ve seen reports that Dropbox might be asked to participate in a government program called PRISM. We are not part of any such program and remain committed to protecting our users’ privacy.”[25]

In response to the technology companies’ denials of the NSA being able to directly access the companies’ servers, The New York Times reported that sources had stated the NSA was gathering the surveillance data from the companies using other technical means in response to court orders for specific sets of data.[13] The Washington Post suggested, “It is possible that the conflict between the PRISM slides and the company spokesmen is the result of imprecision on the part of the NSA author. In another classified report obtained by The Post, the arrangement is described as allowing ‘collection managers [to send] content tasking instructions directly to equipment installed at company-controlled locations,’ rather than directly to company servers.”[1] “[I]n context, ‘direct’ is more likely to mean that the NSA is receiving data sent to them deliberately by the tech companies, as opposed to intercepting communications as they’re transmitted to some other destination.[26]

“If these companies received an order under the FISA amendments act, they are forbidden by law from disclosing having received the order and disclosing any information about the order at all,” Mark Rumold, staff attorney at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, told ABC News.[28]

Slide showing two different sources of NSA data collection. The first source the fiber optic cables of the internet handled by the Upstream program and the second source the servers of major internet companies handled by PRISM.[29]

On May 28, 2013, Google was ordered by United States District Court Judge Susan Illston to comply with a National Security Letter issued by the FBI to provide user data without a warrant.[30] Kurt Opsahl, a senior staff attorney at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, in an interview with VentureBeat said, “I certainly appreciate that Google put out a transparency report, but it appears that the transparency didn’t include this. I wouldn’t be surprised if they were subject to a gag order.”[31]

The New York Times reported on June 7, 2013, that “Twitter declined to make it easier for the government. But other companies were more compliant, according to people briefed on the negotiations.”[32] The other companies held discussions with national security personnel on how to make data available more efficiently and securely.[32] In some cases, these companies made modifications to their systems in support of the intelligence collection effort.[32] The dialogues have continued in recent months, as General Martin Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, has met with executives including those at Facebook, Microsoft, Google and Intel.[32] These details on the discussions provide insight into the disparity between initial descriptions of the government program including a training slide which states “Collection directly from the servers”[29] and the companies’ denials.[32]

While providing data in response to a legitimate FISA request approved by FISC is a legal requirement, modifying systems to make it easier for the government to collect the data is not. This is why Twitter could legally decline to provide an enhanced mechanism for data transmission.[32] Other than Twitter, the companies were effectively asked to construct a locked mailbox and provide the key to the government, people briefed on the negotiations said.[32] Facebook, for instance, built such a system for requesting and sharing the information.[32] Google does not provide a lockbox system, but instead transmits required data by hand delivery or secure FTP.[33]

Post-PRISM Transparency Reports

In response to the publicity surrounding media reports of data-sharing, several companies requested permission to reveal more public information about the nature and scope of information provided in response to National Security requests.

On June 14, 2013, Facebook reported that the U.S. Government had authorized the communication of “about these numbers in aggregate, and as a range.” In a press release posted to their web site, Facebook reported, “For the six months ending December 31, 2012, the total number of user-data requests Facebook received from any and all government entities in the U.S. (including local, state, and federal, and including criminal and national security-related requests) – was between 9,000 and 10,000.” Facebook further reported that the requests impacted “between 18,000 and 19,000″ user accounts, a “tiny fraction of one percent” of more than 1.1 billion active user accounts.[34]

Microsoft reported that for the same period, it received “between 6,000 and 7,000 criminal and national security warrants, subpoenas and orders affecting between 31,000 and 32,000 consumer accounts from U.S. governmental entities (including local, state and federal)” which impacted “a tiny fraction of Microsoft’s global customer base”.[35]

Google issued a statement criticizing the requirement that data be reported in aggregated form, stating that lumping national security requests with criminal request data would be “a step backwards” from its previous, more detailed practices on its site transparency report. The company said that it would continue to seek government permission to publish the number and extent of FISA requests.[36]

Response from United States government

Executive branch

Shortly after publication of the reports by The Guardian and The Washington Post, the United States Director of National Intelligence, James Clapper, on June 7 released a statement confirming that for nearly six years the government of the United States had been using large internet services companies such as Google and Facebook to collect information on foreigners outside the United States as a defense against national security threats.[13] The statement read in part, “The Guardian and The Washington Post articles refer to collection of communications pursuant to Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. They contain numerous inaccuracies.”[37] He went on to say, “Section 702 is a provision of FISA that is designed to facilitate the acquisition of foreign intelligence information concerning non-U.S. persons located outside the United States. It cannot be used to intentionally target any U.S. citizen, any other U.S. person, or anyone located within the United States.”[37] Clapper concluded his statement by stating “The unauthorized disclosure of information about this important and entirely legal program is reprehensible and risks important protections for the security of Americans.”[37] On March 12, 2013, Clapper had told the United States Senate Select Committee on Intelligence that the NSA does “not wittingly” collect any type of data on millions or hundreds of millions of Americans.[38] In an NBC News interview, Clapper said he answered Senator Wyden’s question in the “least untruthful manner by saying no”.[39]

Clapper also stated that “the NSA collects the phone data in broad swaths, because collecting it (in) a narrow fashion would make it harder to identify terrorism-related communications. The information collected lets the government, over time, make connections about terrorist activities. The program doesn’t let the U.S. listen to people’s calls, but only includes information like call length and telephone numbers dialed.”[15]

On June 8, 2013, Clapper said “the surveillance activities published in The Guardian and The Washington Post are lawful and conducted under authorities widely known and discussed, and fully debated and authorized by Congress.”[40][10] The fact sheet described PRISM as “an internal government computer system used to facilitate the government’s statutorily authorized collection of foreign intelligence information from electronic communication service providers under court supervision, as authorized by Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) (50 U.S.C. § 1881a).”[10]

The National Intelligence fact sheet further stated that “the United States Government does not unilaterally obtain information from the servers of U.S. electronic communication service providers. All such information is obtained with FISA Court approval and with the knowledge of the provider based upon a written directive from the Attorney General and the Director of National Intelligence.” It said that the Attorney General provides FISA Court rulings and semi-annual reports about PRISM activities to Congress, “provid[ing] an unprecedented degree of accountability and transparency.”[10]

The President of the United States, Barack Obama, said on June 7 “What you’ve got is two programs that were originally authorized by Congress, have been repeatedly authorized by Congress. Bipartisan majorities have approved them. Congress is continually briefed on how these are conducted. There are a whole range of safeguards involved. And federal judges are overseeing the entire program throughout.”[41] He also said, “You can’t have 100 percent security and then also have 100 percent privacy and zero inconvenience. You know, we’re going to have to make some choices as a society.”[41]

In separate statements, senior (not mentioned by name in source) Obama administration officials said that Congress had been briefed 13 times on the programs since 2009.[42]

Legislative branch

In contrast to their swift and forceful reactions the previous day to allegations that the government had been conducting surveillance of United States citizens’ telephone records, Congressional leaders initially had little to say about the PRISM program the day after leaked information about the program was published. Several lawmakers declined to discuss PRISM, citing its top-secret classification,[43] and others said that they had not been aware of the program.[44] After statements had been released by the President and the Director of National Intelligence, some lawmakers began to comment:

Senator John McCain (R-AZ)

  • June 9 “We passed the Patriot Act. We passed specific provisions of the act that allowed for this program to take place, to be enacted in operation,”[45]

Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee

  • June 9 “These programs are within the law”, “part of our obligation is keeping Americans safe”, “Human intelligence isn’t going to do it”.[46]
  • June 9 “Here’s the rub: the instances where this has produced good — has disrupted plots, prevented terrorist attacks, is all classified, that’s what’s so hard about this.”[47]
  • June 11 “It went fine…we asked him[ Keith Alexander ] to declassify things because it would be helpful (for people and lawmakers to better understand the intelligence programs).” “I’ve just got to see if the information gets declassified. I’m sure people will find it very interesting.”[48]

Senator Susan Collins (R-ME), member of Senate Intelligence Committee and past member of Homeland Security Committee

  • June 11 “I had, along with Joe Lieberman, a monthly threat briefing, but I did not have access to this highly compartmentalized information” and “How can you ask when you don’t know the program exists?”[49]

Representative John Boehner (R-OH), Speaker of the House of Representatives

  • June 11 “He’s a traitor”[50] (referring to Edward Snowden)

Representative Jim Sensenbrenner (R-WI), principal sponsor of the Patriot Act

  • June 9, “This is well beyond what the Patriot Act allows.”[51] “President Obama’s claim that ‘this is the most transparent administration in history’ has once again proven false. In fact, it appears that no administration has ever peered more closely or intimately into the lives of innocent Americans.”[51]

Representative Mike Rogers (R-MI), a Chairman of the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence.

  • June 9 “One of the things that we’re charged with is keeping America safe and keeping our civil liberties and privacy intact. I think we have done both in this particular case,”[46]
  • June 9 “Within the last few years this program was used to stop a program, excuse me, to stop a terrorist attack in the United States we know that. It’s, it’s, it’s important, it fills in a little seam that we have and it’s used to make sure that there is not an international nexus to any terrorism event that they may believe is ongoing in the United States. So in that regard it is a very valuable thing,”[52]

Senator Mark Udall (D-CO)

  • June 9 “I don’t think the American public knows the extent or knew the extent to which they were being surveilled and their data was being collected.” “I think we ought to reopen the Patriot Act and put some limits on the amount of data that the National Security (Agency) is collecting,” “It ought to remain sacred, and there’s got to be a balance here. That is what I’m aiming for. Let’s have the debate, let’s be transparent, let’s open this up”.[46]

Representative Todd Rokita (R-IN)

  • June 10 “We have no idea when they [ FISA ] meet, we have no idea what their judgments are”,[53]

Senator Rand Paul (R-KY)

  • June 6 “When the Senate rushed through a last-minute extension of the FISA Amendments Act late last year, I insisted on a vote on my amendment (SA 3436) to require stronger protections on business records and prohibiting the kind of data-mining this case has revealed. Just last month, I introduced S.1037, the Fourth Amendment Preservation and Protection Act,”[54]
  • June 9 “I’m going to be seeing if I can challenge this at the Supreme Court level. I’m going to be asking the Internet providers and all of the phone companies: ask your customers to join me in a class-action lawsuit.”[45]

Representative Luis Gutierrez (D-IL)

  • June 9 “We will be receiving secret briefings and we will be asking, I know I’m going to be asking to get more information. I want to make sure that what they’re doing is harvesting information that is necessary to keep us safe and not simply going into everybody’s private telephone conversations and Facebook and communications. I mean one of the, you know the terrorists win when you debilitate freedom of expression and privacy.”[52]

Judicial branch

The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) has not acknowledged, denied or confirmed any involvement in the PRISM program at this time. It has not issued any press statement or release relating to the current situation and uncertainty.

Applicable law and practice

On June 8, 2013, the Director of National Intelligence issued a fact sheet stating that PRISM “is not an undisclosed collection or data mining program”, but rather computer software used to facilitate the collection of foreign intelligence information “under court supervision, as authorized by Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) (50 U.S.C. § 1881a).”[10] Section 702 provides that “the Attorney General [A.G.] and the Director of National Intelligence [DNI] may authorize jointly, for a period of up to 1 year from the effective date of the authorization, the targeting of persons reasonably believed to be located outside the United States to acquire foreign intelligence information.”[55] In order to authorize the targeting, the A.G. and DNI need to get an order from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) pursuant to Section 702 or certify that “intelligence important to the national security of the United States may be lost or not timely acquired and time does not permit the issuance of an order.”[55] When asking for an order, the A.G. and DNI must certify to FISC that “a significant purpose of the acquisition is to obtain foreign intelligence information.”[55] They do not need to specify which facilities or property that the targeting will be directed at.[55]

After getting a FISC order or determining that there are emergency circumstances, the A.G. and DNI can direct an electronic communication service provider to give them access to information or facilities to carry out the targeting and keep the targeting secret.[55] The provider then has the option to: (1) comply with the directive; (2) reject it; or (3) challenge it to FISC.

If the provider complies with the directive, it is released from liability to its users for providing the information and reimbursed for the cost of providing it.[55]

If the provider rejects the directive, the A.G. may request an order from FISC to enforce it.[55] A provider that fails to comply with FISC’s order can be punished with contempt of court.[55]

Finally, a provider can petition FISC to reject the directive.[55] In case FISC denies the petition and orders the provider to comply with the directive, the provider risks contempt of court if it refuses to comply with FISC’s order.[55] The provider can appeal FISC’s denial to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court of Review and then appeal the Court of Review’s decision to the Supreme Court by a writ of certiorari for review under seal.[55]

The Senate Select Committee on Intelligence and the FISA Courts had been put in place to oversee intelligence operations in the period after the death of J. Edgar Hoover. Beverly Gage of Slate said, “When they were created, these new mechanisms were supposed to stop the kinds of abuses that men like Hoover had engineered. Instead, it now looks as if they have come to function as rubber stamps for the expansive ambitions of the intelligence community. J. Edgar Hoover no longer rules Washington, but it turns out we didn’t need him anyway.”[56]

Involvement of other countries

Australia

The Australian government has said it will investigate the impact of the PRISM program and the use of the Pine Gap surveillance facility on the privacy of Australian citizens.[57]

Canada

Canada’s national cryptologic agency, the Communications Security Establishment, said that commenting on PRISM “would undermine CSE’s ability to carry out its mandate”. Privacy Commissioner Jennifer Stoddart lamented Canada’s standards when it comes to protecting personal online privacy stating “We have fallen too far behind,” Stoddart wrote in her report. “While other nations’ data protection authorities have the legal power to make binding orders, levy hefty fines and take meaningful action in the event of serious data breaches, we are restricted to a ‘soft’ approach: persuasion, encouragement and, at the most, the potential to publish the names of transgressors in the public interest.” And, “when push comes to shove,” Stoddart wrote, “short of a costly and time-consuming court battle, we have no power to enforce our recommendations.”[58]

Germany

Germany did not receive any raw PRISM data, according to a Reuters report.[59]

Israel

Israeli newspaper Calcalist discussed[60] the Business Insider article[61] about the possible involvement of technologies from two secretive Israeli companies in the PRISM program – Verint Systems and Narus.

New Zealand

In New Zealand, University of Otago information science Associate Professor Hank Wolfe said that “under what was unofficially known as the Five Eyes Alliance, New Zealand and other governments, including the United States, Australia, Canada, and Britain, dealt with internal spying by saying they didn’t do it. But they have all the partners doing it for them and then they share all the information.”[62]

United Kingdom

In the United Kingdom, Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) has had access to the PRISM program on or before June 2010 and wrote 197 reports with it in 2012 alone. PRISM may have allowed GCHQ to circumvent the formal legal process required to seek personal material.[63][64]

Domestic response

Unbalanced scales.svg
The neutrality of this section is disputed. Please do not remove this message until the dispute is resolved. (June 2013)

The New York Times editorial board charged that the Obama administration “has now lost all credibility on this issue,”[65] and lamented that “for years, members of Congress ignored evidence that domestic intelligence-gathering had grown beyond their control, and, even now, few seem disturbed to learn that every detail about the public’s calling and texting habits now reside in a N.S.A. database.”[66]

Republican and former member of Congress Ron Paul said, “We should be thankful for individuals like Edward Snowden and Glenn Greenwald who see injustice being carried out by their own government and speak out, despite the risk…. They have done a great service to the American people by exposing the truth about what our government is doing in secret.”[67] Paul denounced the government’s secret surveillance program: “The government does not need to know more about what we are doing…. We need to know more about what the government is doing.”[67] He called Congress “derelict in giving that much power to the government,” and said that had he been elected president, he would have ordered searches only when there was probable cause of a crime having been committed, which he said was not how the PRISM program was being operated.[68]

In response to Obama administration arguments that it could stop terrorism in the cases of Najibullah Zazi and David Headley, Ed Pilkington and Nicholas Watt of The Guardian said in regards to the role of PRISM and Boundless Informant interviews with parties involved in the Zazi scheme and court documents lodged in the United States and the United Kingdom indicated that “conventional” surveillance methods such as “old-fashioned tip-offs” of the British intelligence services initiated the investigation into the Zazi case.[69] An anonymous former CIA agent said that in regards to the Headley case, “That’s nonsense. It played no role at all in the Headley case. That’s not the way it happened at all.”[69] Pilkington and Watt concluded that the data-mining programs “played a relatively minor role in the interception of the two plots.”[69] Michael Daly of The Daily Beast stated that even though Tamerlan Tsarnaev had visited Inspire and even though Russian intelligence officials alerted U.S. intelligence officials about Tsarnaev, PRISM did not prevent him from carrying out the Boston bombings, and that the initial evidence implicating him came from his brother Dzhokhar Tsarnaev and not from federal intelligence. In addition Daly pointed to the fact that Faisal Shahzad visited Inspire but that federal authorities did not stop his attempted terrorist plot. Daly concluded “The problem is not just what the National Security Agency is gathering at the risk of our privacy but what it is apparently unable to monitor at the risk of our safety.”[70] In addition, political commentator Bill O’Reilly criticized the government, saying that PRISM did not stop the Boston bombings.[71]

In a blog post, David Simon, the creator of The Wire, compared the NSA’s programs, including PRISM, to a 1980s effort by the City of Baltimore to add dialed number recorders to all pay phones to know which individuals were being called by the callers;[72] the city believed that drug traffickers were using pay phones and pagers, and a municipal judge allowed the city to place the recorders. The placement of the dialers formed the basis of the show’s first season. Simon argued that the media attention regarding the NSA programs is a “faux scandal.”[72][73] George Takei, an actor who had experienced Japanese American internment, said that due to his memories of the internment, he felt concern towards the NSA surveillance programs that had been revealed.[74]

The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), an international non-profit digital-rights group based in the U.S., is hosting a tool, by which an American resident can write to their government representatives regarding their opposition to mass spying.[75]

On June 11, 2013, the American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit against the NSA citing that PRISM “violates Americans’ constitutional rights of free speech, association, and privacy”.[76]

International response

Reactions of Internet users in China were mixed between viewing a loss of freedom worldwide and seeing state surveillance coming out of secrecy. The story broke just before US President Barack Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping met in California.[77][78] When asked about NSA hacking China, the spokeswoman of Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the People’s Republic of China said “China strongly advocates cybersecurity”.[79] The party-owned newspaper Liberation Daily described this surveillance like Nineteen Eighty-Four-style.[80] Hong Kong legislators Gary Fan and Claudia Mo wrote a letter to Obama, stating “the revelations of blanket surveillance of global communications by the world’s leading democracy have damaged the image of the U.S. among freedom-loving peoples around the world.”[81]

Sophie in ‘t Veld, a Dutch Member of the European Parliament, called PRISM “a violation of EU laws”.[82]

Protests at Checkpoint Charlie in Berlin

The German Federal Commissioner for Data Protection and Freedom of Information, Peter Schaar, condemned the program as “monstrous”.[83] He further added that White House claims do “not reassure me at all” and that “given the large number of German users of Google, Facebook, Apple or Microsoft services, I expect the German government […] is committed to clarification and limitation of surveillance.” Steffen Seibert, press secretary of the Chancellor’s office, announced that Angela Merkel will put these issues on the agenda of the talks with Barack Obama during his pending visit in Berlin.[84]

The Italian president of the Guarantor for the protection of personal data, Antonello Soro, said that the surveillance dragnet “would not be legal in Italy” and would be “contrary to the principles of our legislation and would represent a very serious violation”.[85]

William Hague, the foreign secretary of the United Kingdom, dismissed accusations that British security agencies had been circumventing British law by using information gathered on British citizens by Prism[86] saying, “Any data obtained by us from the United States involving UK nationals is subject to proper UK statutory controls and safeguards.”[86] David Cameron said Britain’s spy agencies that received data collected from PRISM acted within the law: “I’m satisfied that we have intelligence agencies that do a fantastically important job for this country to keep us safe, and they operate within the law.”[86][87] Malcolm Rifkind, the chairman of parliament’s Intelligence and Security Committee, said that if the British intelligence agencies were seeking to know the content of emails about people living in the UK, then they actually have to get lawful authority.[87] The UK’s Information Commissioner’s Office was more cautious, saying it would investigate PRISM alongside other European data agencies: “There are real issues about the extent to which U.S. law agencies can access personal data of UK and other European citizens. Aspects of U.S. law under which companies can be compelled to provide information to U.S. agencies potentially conflict with European data protection law, including the UK’s own Data Protection Act. The ICO has raised this with its European counterparts, and the issue is being considered by the European Commission, who are in discussions with the U.S. Government.”[82]

Ai Weiwei, a Chinese dissident, said “Even though we know governments do all kinds of things I was shocked by the information about the US surveillance operation, Prism. To me, it’s abusively using government powers to interfere in individuals’ privacy. This is an important moment for international society to reconsider and protect individual rights.”[88]

Kim Dotcom, a German-Finnish Internet entrepreneur who owned Megaupload, which was closed by the U.S. federal government, said “We should heed warnings from Snowden because the prospect of an Orwellian society outweighs whatever security benefits we derive from Prism or Five Eyes.”[89] The Hong Kong law firm representing Dotcom expressed a fear that the communication between Dotcom and the firm had been compromised by U.S. intelligence programs.[90]

Russia has offered to consider an asylum request from Edward Snowden.[91]

Taliban spokesperson Zabiullah Mujahid said “We knew about their past efforts to trace our system. We have used our technical resources to foil their efforts and have been able to stop them from succeeding so far.”[92][93]

Related government Internet surveillance programs

A parallel program, code-named BLARNEY, gathers up metadata as it streams past choke points along the backbone of the Internet. BLARNEY’s summary, set down in the slides alongside a cartoon insignia of a shamrock and a leprechaun hat, describes it as “an ongoing collection program that leverages IC [intelligence community] and commercial partnerships to gain access and exploit foreign intelligence obtained from global networks.”[94]

A related program, a big data visualization system based on cloud computing and free and open-source software (FOSS) technology known as “Boundless Informant”, was disclosed in documents leaked to The Guardian and reported on June 8, 2013. A leaked, top secret map allegedly produced by Boundless Informant revealed the extent of NSA surveillance in the U.S.[95]

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/PRISM_%28surveillance_program%29

ThinThread

ThinThread is the name of a project that the United States National Security Agency (NSA) pursued during the 1990s, according to a May 17, 2006 article in The Baltimore Sun.[1] The program involved wiretapping and sophisticated analysis of the resulting data, but according to the article, the program was discontinued three weeks before the September 11, 2001 attacks due to the changes in priorities and the consolidation of U.S. intelligence authority.[2] The “change in priority” consisted of the decision made by the director of NSA General Michael V. Hayden to go with a concept called Trailblazer, despite the fact that ThinThread was a working prototype that protected the privacy of U.S. citizens.

ThinThread was dismissed and replaced by the Trailblazer Project, which lacked the privacy protections.[3] A consortium led by Science Applications International Corporation was awarded a $280 million contract to develop Trailblazer in 2002.[4]

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ThinThread

Trailblazer

Trailblazer was a United States National Security Agency (NSA) program intended to develop a capability to analyze data carried on communications networks like the Internet. It was intended to track entities using communication methods such as cell phones and e-mail.[1][2] It ran over budget, failed to accomplish critical goals, and was cancelled.

NSA whistleblowers J. Kirk Wiebe, William Binney, Ed Loomis, and House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence staffer Diane Roark complained to the Department of Defense’s Inspector General (IG) about waste, fraud, and abuse in the program, and the fact that a successful operating prototype existed, but was ignored when the Trailblazer program was launched. The complaint was accepted by the IG and an investigation began that lasted until mid-2005 when the final results were issued. The results were largely hidden, as the report given to the public was heavily (90%) redacted, while the original report was heavily classified, thus restricting the ability of most people to see it.

The people who filed the IG complaint were later raided by armed Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) agents. While the Government threatened to prosecute all who signed the IG report, it ultimately chose to pursue an NSA Senior Executive — Thomas Andrews Drake — who helped with the report internally to NSA and who had spoken with a reporter about the project. Drake was later charged under the Espionage Act of 1917. His defenders claimed this was retaliation.[3][4] The charges against him were later dropped, and he agreed to plead guilty to having committed a misdemeanor under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, something that Jesselyn Radack of the Government Accountability Project (which helped represent him) called an “act of civil disobedience”.[5]

Background

Trailblazer was chosen over a similar program named ThinThread, a less costly project which had been designed with built-in privacy protections for United States citizens.[4][3] Trailblazer was later linked to the NSA electronic surveillance program and the NSA warrantless surveillance controversy.[3]

In 2002 a consortium led by Science Applications International Corporation was chosen by the NSA to produce a technology demonstration platform in a contract worth $280 million. Project participants included Boeing, Computer Sciences Corporation, and Booz Allen Hamilton. The project was overseen by NSA Deputy Director William B. Black, Jr., an NSA worker who had gone to SAIC, and then been re-hired back to NSA by NSA director Michael Hayden in 2000.[6][7][8] SAIC had also hired a former NSA director to its management; Bobby Inman.[9] SAIC also participated in the concept definition phase of Trailblazer.[10][11]

Redacted version of the DoD Inspector General audit, obtained through the Freedom of Information Act by the Project on Government Oversight and others. [12][5]

The NSA Inspector General issued a report on Trailblazer that “discussed improperly based contract cost increases, non-conformance in the management of the Statement of Work, and excessive labor rates for contractor personnel.” [13]

In 2004 the DoD IG report criticized the program (see the Whistleblowing section below). It said that the “NSA ‘disregarded solutions to urgent national security needs'” and “that TRAILBLAZER was poorly executed and overly expensive …” Several contractors for the project were worried about cooperating with DoD’s audit for fear of “management reprisal.”[5] The Director of NSA “nonconcurred” with several statements in the IG audit, and the report contains a discussion of those disagreements.[14]

In 2005, NSA director Michael Hayden told a Senate hearing that the Trailblazer program was several hundred million dollars over budget and years behind schedule.[15] In 2006 the program was shut down,[3] after having cost billions of US Dollars.[16] Several anonymous NSA sources told Hosenball of Newsweek later on that the project was a “wasteful failure”.[17]

The new project replacing Trailblazer is called Turbulence.[3]

Whistleblowing

According to a 2011 New Yorker article, in the early days of the project several NSA employees met with Diane S Roark, an NSA budget expert on the House Intelligence Committee. They aired their grievances about Trailblazer. In response, NSA director Michael Hayden sent out a memo saying that “individuals, in a session with our congressional overseers, took a position in direct opposition to one that we had corporately decided to follow … Actions contrary to our decisions will have a serious adverse effect on our efforts to transform N.S.A., and I cannot tolerate them.”[3]

In September 2002, several people filed a complaint with the Department of Defense IG’s office regarding problems with Trailblazer: they included Roark (aforementioned), ex-NSA senior analysts Bill Binney, Kirk Wiebe, and Senior Computer Systems Analyst Ed Loomis, who had quit the agency over concerns about its mismanagement of acquisition and allegedly illegal domestic spying.[3][18][19] A major source for the report was NSA senior officer Thomas Andrews Drake. Drake had been complaining to his superiors for some time about problems at the agency, and about the superiority of ThinThread over Trailblazer, for example, at protecting privacy.[19] Drake gave info to DoD during its investigation of the matter.[19] Roark also went to her boss at the House committee, Porter Goss, about problems, but was rebuffed.[20] She also attempted to contact William Renquist, the Supreme Court Chief Justice at the time.[19]

Drake’s own boss, Maureen Baginski, the third-highest officer at NSA, quit partly over concerns about the legality of its behavior.[3]

In 2003, the NSA IG (not the DoD IG)[19] had declared Trailblazer an expensive failure.[21] It had cost more than $1 billion.[8][22][23]

In 2005, the DoD IG produced a report on the result of its investigation of the complaint of Roark and the others in 2002. This report was not released to the public, but it has been described as very negative.[18] Mayer writes that it hastened the closure of Trailblazer, which was at the time in trouble from congress for being over budget.[3]

In November 2005, Drake contacted Siobhan Gorman, a reporter of The Baltimore Sun.[24][17][25] Gorman wrote several articles about problems at the NSA, including articles on Trailblazer. This series got her an award from the Society of Professional Journalists.[17]

In 2005, President George W. Bush ordered the FBI to find whoever had disclosed information about the NSA electronic surveillance program and its disclosure in the New York Times. Eventually, this investigation led to the people who had filed the 2002 DoD IG request, even though they had nothing to do with the New York Times disclosure. In 2007, the houses of Roark, Binney, and Wiebe were raided by armed FBI agents. According to Mayer, Binney claims the FBI pointed guns at his head and that of his wife. Wiebe said it reminded him of the Soviet Union.[3][18] None of these people were ever charged with any crime. Four months later, Drake was raided in November 2007 and his computers and documents were confiscated.

In 2010 Drake was indicted by the U.S. Department of Justice on charges of obstructing justice, providing false information, and violating the Espionage Act of 1917,[17][26][27] part of President Barack Obama’s crackdown on whistleblowers and “leakers”.[24][17][28][18] The government tried to get Roark to testify to a conspiracy, and made similar requests to Drake, offering him a plea bargain. They both refused.[3]

In June 2011, the ten original charges against Drake were dropped, instead he pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor.[5]

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1AXwwSq_me4

Boundless Informant

Boundless Informant is a big data analysis and data visualization system used by the United States National Security Agency (NSA) to give NSA managers summaries of NSA’s world wide data collection activities.[1] It is described in an unclassified, For Official Use Only Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) memo published by The Guardian.[2] According to a Top Secret heat map display also published by The Guardian and allegedly produced by the Boundless Informant program, almost 3 billion data elements from inside the United States were captured by NSA over a 30-day period ending in March 2013.

Data analyzed by Boundless Informant includes electronic surveillance program records (DNI) and telephone call metadata records (DNR) stored in an NSA data archive called GM-PLACE. It does not include FISA data, according to the FAQ memo. PRISM, a government codename for a collection effort known officially as US-984XN, which was revealed at the same time as Boundless Informant, is one source of DNR data. According to the map, Boundless Informant summarizes data records from 504 separate DNR and DNI collection sources (SIGADs). In the map, countries that are under surveillance are assigned a color from green, representing least coverage to red, most intensive.[3][4]

History

Slide showing that much of the world’s communications flow through the US.

Intelligence gathered by the United States government inside the United States or specifically targeting US citizens is legally required to be gathered in compliance with the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 (FISA) and under the authority of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISA court).[5][6][7]

NSA global data mining projects have existed for decades, but recent programs of intelligence gathering and analysis that include data gathered from inside the United States such as PRISM were enabled by changes to US surveillance law introduced under President Bush and renewed under President Obama in December 2012.[8]

Boundless Informant was first publicly revealed on June 8, 2013, after classified documents about the program were leaked to The Guardian.[1][9] The newspaper identified its informant, at his request, as Edward Snowden, who worked at the NSA for the defense contractor Booz Allen Hamilton.[10]

Technology

According to published slides, Boundless Informant leverages Free and Open Source Software—and is therefore “available to all NSA developers”—and corporate services hosted in the cloud. The tool uses HDFS, MapReduce, and Cloudbase for data processing.[11]

Legality and FISA Amendments Act of 2008

The FISA Amendments Act (FAA) Section 702 is referenced in PRISM documents detailing the electronic interception, capture and analysis of metadata. Many reports and letters of concern written by members of Congress suggest that this section of FAA in particular is legally and constitutionally problematic, such as by targeting U.S. persons, insofar as “Collections occur in U.S.” as published documents indicate.[12][13][14][15]

The ACLU has asserted the following regarding the FAA: “Regardless of abuses, the problem with the FAA is more fundamental: the statute itself is unconstitutional.”[16]

Senator Rand Paul is introducing new legislation called the Fourth Amendment Restoration Act of 2013 to stop the NSA or other agencies of the United States government from violating the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution using technology and big data information systems like PRISM and Boundless Informant.[17][18]

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boundless_Informant

ECHELON

ECHELON is a name used in global media and in popular culture to describe a signals intelligence (SIGINT) collection and analysis network operated on behalf of the five signatory states to the UKUSA Security Agreement[1] (Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and the United States, referred to by a number of abbreviations, including AUSCANNZUKUS[1] and Five Eyes).[2][3] It has also been described as the only software system which controls the download and dissemination of the intercept of commercial satellite trunk communications.[4]

ECHELON, according to information in the European Parliament document, “On the existence of a global system for the interception of private and commercial communications (ECHELON interception system)” was created to monitor the military and diplomatic communications of the Soviet Union and its Eastern Bloc allies during the Cold War in the early 1960s.[5]

The system has been reported in a number of public sources.[6] Its capabilities and political implications were investigated by a committee of the European Parliament during 2000 and 2001 with a report published in 2001,[5] and by author James Bamford in his books on the National Security Agency of the United States.[4] The European Parliament stated in its report that the term ECHELON is used in a number of contexts, but that the evidence presented indicates that it was the name for a signals intelligence collection system. The report concludes that, on the basis of information presented, ECHELON was capable of interception and content inspection of telephone calls, fax, e-mail and other data traffic globally through the interception of communication bearers including satellite transmission, public switched telephone networks (which once carried most Internet traffic) and microwave links.[5]

Bamford describes the system as the software controlling the collection and distribution of civilian telecommunications traffic conveyed using communication satellites, with the collection being undertaken by ground stations located in the footprint of the downlink leg.

Organization

UKUSA Community
Map of UKUSA Community countries with Ireland

Australia
Canada
New Zealand
United Kingdom
United States of America

The UKUSA intelligence community was assessed by the European Parliament (EP) in 2000 to include the signals intelligence agencies of each of the member states:

  • the Government Communications Headquarters of the United Kingdom,
  • the National Security Agency of the United States,
  • the Communications Security Establishment of Canada,
  • the Defence Signals Directorate of Australia, and
  • the Government Communications Security Bureau of New Zealand.
  • the National SIGINT Organisation (NSO) of The Netherlands

The EP report concluded that it seemed likely that ECHELON is a method of sorting captured signal traffic, rather than a comprehensive analysis tool.[5]

Capabilities

The ability to intercept communications depends on the medium used, be it radio, satellite, microwave, cellular or fiber-optic.[5] During World War II and through the 1950s, high frequency (“short wave”) radio was widely used for military and diplomatic communication,[7] and could be intercepted at great distances.[5] The rise of geostationary communications satellites in the 1960s presented new possibilities for intercepting international communications. The report to the European Parliament of 2001 states: “If UKUSA states operate listening stations in the relevant regions of the earth, in principle they can intercept all telephone, fax and data traffic transmitted via such satellites.”[5]

The role of satellites in point-to-point voice and data communications has largely been supplanted by fiber optics; in 2006, 99% of the world’s long-distance voice and data traffic was carried over optical-fiber.[8] The proportion of international communications accounted for by satellite links is said to have decreased substantially over the past few years[when?] in Central Europe to an amount between 0.4% and 5%.[5] Even in less-developed parts of the world, communications satellites are used largely for point-to-multipoint applications, such as video.[9] Thus, the majority of communications can no longer be intercepted by earth stations; they can only be collected by tapping cables and intercepting line-of-sight microwave signals, which is possible only to a limited extent.[5]

One method of interception is to place equipment at locations where fiber optic communications are switched. For the Internet, much of the switching occurs at relatively few sites. There have been reports of one such intercept site, Room 641A, in the United States. In the past[when?] much Internet traffic was routed through the U.S. and the UK, but this has changed; for example, in 2000, 95% of intra-German Internet communications was routed via the DE-CIX Internet exchange point in Frankfurt.[5] A comprehensive worldwide surveillance network is possible only if clandestine intercept sites are installed in the territory of friendly nations, and/or if local authorities cooperate. The report to the European Parliament points out that interception of private communications by foreign intelligence services is not necessarily limited to the U.S. or British foreign intelligence services.[5]

Most reports on ECHELON focus on satellite interception; testimony before the European Parliament indicated that separate but similar UK-US systems are in place to monitor communication through undersea cables, microwave transmissions and other lines.[10]

Controversy

See also: Industrial espionage

Intelligence monitoring of citizens, and their communications, in the area covered by the AUSCANNZUKUS security agreement has caused concern. British journalist Duncan Campbell and New Zealand journalist Nicky Hager asserted in the 1990s that the United States was exploiting ECHELON traffic for industrial espionage, rather than military and diplomatic purposes.[10] Examples alleged by the journalists include the gear-less wind turbine technology designed by the German firm Enercon[5][11] and the speech technology developed by the Belgian firm Lernout & Hauspie.[12] An article in the US newspaper Baltimore Sun reported in 1995 that European aerospace company Airbus lost a $6 billion contract with Saudi Arabia in 1994 after the US National Security Agency reported that Airbus officials had been bribing Saudi officials to secure the contract.[13][14]

In 2001, the Temporary Committee on the ECHELON Interception System recommended to the European Parliament that citizens of member states routinely use cryptography in their communications to protect their privacy, because economic espionage with ECHELON has been conducted by the US intelligence agencies.[5]

Bamford provides an alternative view, highlighting that legislation prohibits the use of intercepted communications for commercial purposes, although he does not elaborate on how intercepted communications are used as part of an all-source intelligence process.

Hardware

According to its website, the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) is “a high technology organization … on the frontiers of communications and data processing”. In 1999 the Australian Senate Joint Standing Committee on Treaties was told by Professor Desmond Ball that the Pine Gap facility was used as a ground station for a satellite-based interception network. The satellites were said to be large radio dishes between 20 and 100 meters in diameter in geostationary orbits.[citation needed] The original purpose of the network was to monitor the telemetry from 1970s Soviet weapons, air defence radar, communications satellites and ground based microwave communications.[15]

Name

The European Parliament’s Temporary Committee on the ECHELON Interception System stated: “It seems likely, in view of the evidence and the consistent pattern of statements from a very wide range of individuals and organisations, including American sources, that its name is in fact ECHELON, although this is a relatively minor detail.”[5] The U.S. intelligence community uses many code names (see, for example, CIA cryptonym).

Former NSA employee Margaret Newsham claims that she worked on the configuration and installation of software that makes up the ECHELON system while employed at Lockheed Martin, for whom she worked from 1974 to 1984 in Sunnyvale, California, US, and in Menwith Hill, England, UK.[16] At that time, according to Newsham, the code name ECHELON was NSA’s term for the computer network itself. Lockheed called it P415. The software programs were called SILKWORTH and SIRE. A satellite named VORTEX intercepted communications. An image available on the internet of a fragment apparently torn from a job description shows Echelon listed along with several other code names.[17]

Ground stations

The 2001 European Parliamentary (EP) report[5] lists several ground stations as possibly belonging to, or participating in, the ECHELON network. These include:

Likely satellite intercept stations

The following stations are listed in the EP report (p. 54 ff) as likely to have, or to have had, a role in intercepting transmissions from telecommunications satellites:

  • Hong Kong (since closed)
  • Australian Defence Satellite Communications Station (Geraldton, Western Australia)
  • Menwith Hill (Yorkshire, U.K.) Map (reportedly the largest Echelon facility)[18]
  • Misawa Air Base (Japan) Map
  • GCHQ Bude, formerly known as GCHQ CSO Morwenstow, (Cornwall, U.K.) Map
  • Pine Gap (Northern Territory, Australia – close to Alice Springs) Map
  • Sugar Grove (West Virginia, U.S.) Map
  • Yakima Training Center (Washington, U.S.) Map
  • GCSB Waihopai (New Zealand)
  • GCSB Tangimoana (New Zealand)
  • CFS Leitrim (Ontario, Canada)
  • Teufelsberg (Berlin, Germany) (closed 1992)

Other potentially related stations

The following stations are listed in the EP report (p. 57 ff) as ones whose roles “cannot be clearly established”:

  • Ayios Nikolaos (Cyprus – U.K.)
  • BadAibling Station (BadAibling, Germany – U.S.)
    • relocated to Griesheim in 2004[19]
    • deactivated in 2008[20]
  • Buckley Air Force Base (Aurora, Colorado)
  • Fort Gordon (Georgia, U.S.)
  • Gander (Newfoundland & Labrador, Canada)
  • Guam (Pacific Ocean, U.S.)
  • Kunia Regional SIGINT Operations Center (Hawaii, U.S.)
  • Lackland Air Force Base, Medina Annex (San Antonio, Texas)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ECHELON

Room 641A

Room 641A is a telecommunication interception facility operated by AT&T for the U.S. National Security Agency that commenced operations in 2003 and was exposed in 2006.[1][2]

Description

Room 641A is located in the SBC Communications building at 611 Folsom Street, San Francisco, three floors of which were occupied by AT&T before SBC purchased AT&T.[1] The room was referred to in internal AT&T documents as the SG3 [Study Group 3] Secure Room. It is fed by fiber optic lines from beam splitters installed in fiber optic trunks carrying Internet backbone traffic[3] and, as analyzed by J. Scott Marcus, a former CTO for GTE and a former adviser to the FCC, who has access to all Internet traffic that passes through the building, and therefore “the capability to enable surveillance and analysis of internet content on a massive scale, including both overseas and purely domestic traffic.”[4] Former director of the NSA’s World Geopolitical and Military Analysis Reporting Group, William Binney, has estimated that 10 to 20 such facilities have been installed throughout the United States.[2]

The room measures about 24 by 48 feet (7.3 by 15 m) and contains several racks of equipment, including a Narus STA 6400, a device designed to intercept and analyze Internet communications at very high speeds.[1]

The very existence of the room was revealed by a former AT&T technician, Mark Klein, and was the subject of a 2006 class action lawsuit by the Electronic Frontier Foundation against AT&T.[5] Klein claims he was told that similar black rooms are operated at other facilities around the country.

Room 641A and the controversies surrounding it were subjects of an episode of Frontline, the current affairs documentary program on PBS. It was originally broadcast on May 15, 2007. It was also featured on PBS’s NOW on March 14, 2008. The room was also covered in the PBS Nova episode “The Spy Factory”.

Lawsuit

Basic diagram of how the alleged wiretapping was accomplished. From EFF court filings[4]

More complicated diagram of how it allegedly worked. From EFF court filings.[3] See bottom of the file page for enlarged and rotated version.

Main article: Hepting v. AT&T

The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) filed a class-action lawsuit against AT&T on January 31, 2006, accusing the telecommunication company of violating the law and the privacy of its customers by collaborating with the National Security Agency (NSA) in a massive, illegal program to wiretap and data-mine Americans’ communications. On July 20, 2006, a federal judge denied the government’s and AT&T’s motions to dismiss the case, chiefly on the ground of the States Secrets Privilege, allowing the lawsuit to go forward. On August 15, 2007, the case was heard by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals and was dismissed on December 29, 2011 based on a retroactive grant of immunity by Congress for telecommunications companies that cooperated with the government. The U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear the case.[6] A different case by the EFF was filed on September 18, 2008, titled Jewel v. NSA.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Room_641A

List of government surveillance projects for the United States

United States

A top secret document leaked by Edward Snowden to The Guardian in 2013, originally due to be declassified on 12 April 2038.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_government_surveillance_projects

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