Category Archives: USA

The U.S. Army Got Its First Drones 55 Years Ago

Joe Trevithick writes for Medium:

‘The U.S. Army bought its first spy drone in 1959. After more than five decades of technological advancement, today’s unmanned aircraft do much more … with much less human support. Radioplane’s AN/USD-1 system—also known as Surveillance Drone 1 or SD-1—originally was a target for training anti-aircraft gunners. These early drones were similar in size and shape to the current RQ-7 Shadow.

An SD-1 weighed 430 pounds and had a wingspan of 11.5 feet. The current RQ-7B checks in at 375 pounds, with a wing spanning 14 feet. The SD-1 quickly evolved. The Army expected it to fly over the battlefield searching for enemy troops and spotting targets for artillery. The Shadow performs the same basic functions, as well as teaming up with attack helos,relaying radio messages and, in the near future, maybe even attacking the enemy on its own. But this is where the similarities end.’

READ MORE…

Jeremy Scahill: Leaked U.S. Terrorist Watchlist Rulebook Reveals “Global Stop and Frisk Program”

‘The Obama administration has expanded the national terrorist watchlist system by approving broad guidelines over who can be targeted. A leaked copy of the secret government guidebook reveals that to be a deemed a “terrorist” target, “irrefutable evidence or concrete facts are not necessary.” Both “known” and “suspected” suspects are tracked, and terrorism is so broadly defined that it includes people accused of damaging property belonging to the government or financial institutions. Other factors that can justify inclusion on the watchlist include postings on social media or having a relative already deemed a terrorist. We are joined by investigative reporters Jeremy Scahill and Ryan Devereaux of The Intercept. Last week they published the secret U.S. document along with their new article, “The Secret Government Rulebook For Labeling You a Terrorist.”’ (Democracy Now!)

Bill Clinton on Sept. 10, 2001: ‘I could have killed’ bin Laden

Alex Seitz-Wald reports for MSNBC:

‘Ten hours before the first plane hit the World Trade Center in New York City on September 11, 2001, Bill Clinton allegedly told a group of businessmen in Australia that he had a chance to kill Osama bin Laden, but passed because it would have meant killing hundreds of innocent civilians. That’s according to never-before-released audio of remarks made public by Australian media on Wednesday.

On September 10, 2001, Clinton was speaking to a group of about 30 businessmen in Melbourne, including Michael Kroger, the former head of the Liberal Party in the Australian state of Victoria. The event was recorded with the former president’s permission, according to Kroger, but the audio never released — until Wednesday night, when Kroger appeared on Sky News with host Paul Murray to unveil it. Kroger said he had forgotten about the recording until last week. ‘

READ MORE…

The CIA’s Declassified Torture Handbook: How to Create a “World of Fear, Terror, Anxiety, Dread”

Lauren Harper writes for Unredacted:

The 1963 KUBARK Manual. ‘[...] The fear of Communist expansion into the Western Hemisphere after Fidel Castro’s 1959 victory in the Cuban Revolution was the geo-political background for the 1963 KUBARK manual. Castro’s victory not only encouraged the 1964 U.S.-supported overthrow of democratically elected Brazilian President Joao Goulart; it also encouraged the CIA to spread KUBARK across the continent to help prop up pro-U.S. governments. After the Brazilian coup, right-wing military leaders across Latin America began seizing control from democratically elected governments with US encouragement, School of the Americas degrees, and a copy of the KUBARK manual.

The Secret, 127-page KUBARK manual, first declassified (with redactions) in 1997 thanks to a Baltimore Sun FOIA request, is a comprehensive guide for training interrogators in obtaining intelligence from “resistant sources.” According to the National Security Archive’s 2004 posting, Prisoner Abuse: Patterns from the Past, KUBARK –a CIA cryptonym for itself– “describes the qualifications of a successful interrogator, and reviews the theory of non-coercive and coercive techniques for breaking a prisoner.”’

READ MORE…

CIA Apologizes For Spying On Senate Computers

Kosovo Leaders Have Been Accused of Killing and Harvesting Organs

John Dyer reports for Vice News:

KLA fighters in Pristina, 1999‘On Tuesday, Clint Williamson — an American diplomat appointed EU prosecutor in 2011 to investigate crimes against humanity in Kosovo — released a scathing statement that accused the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) of murdering a handful of people and then trafficking their kidneys, livers, and other body parts. KLA leaders now run the tiny Balkan country’s government…. The KLA also murdered, kidnapped, and detained people illegally, and in general oversaw a reign of terror against its non-Albanian and Albanian opponents after the group won Kosovo’s independence from Serbia in 1999.

The important thing for Americans to recall here is that the KLA achieved victory with the help of United States and NATO bombers attacking Serbian forces. At the time, President Bill Clinton portrayed the KLA as freedom fighters challenging Serbian strongman Slobodan Milosevic — a genocidal monster who died in a Hague prison cell in 2006. A few years ago, grateful Kosovars erected a bronze statue of Clinton in downtown Pristina, their capital. But now, it turns out, members of the KLA were probably monsters, too.’

READ MORE…

Why Is Washington Risking War With Russia?

Katrina vanden Heuvel and Stephen F. Cohen write for The Nation:

‘As The Nation has warned repeatedly, the unthinkable may now be rapidly unfolding in Ukraine: not just the new Cold War already under way but an actual war between US-led NATO and Russia. The epicenter is Ukraine’s eastern territory, known as the Donbass, a large industrial region heavily populated by Russian-speaking Ukrainian citizens and closely tied to its giant neighbor by decades of economic, political, cultural and family relations.

The shoot-down of Malaysian jetliner MH17 on July 17 should have compelled the US-backed government in Kiev to declare a prolonged cease-fire in its land and air attacks on nearby cities in order to honor the 298 victims, give international investigators safe access to the crash site, and begin peace talks. Instead, Kiev, with Washington’s backing, immediately intensified its attacks on those residential areas, vowing to “liberate” them from pro-Russian “terrorists,” as it brands resisters in eastern Ukraine, killing more innocent people. In response, Moscow is reportedly preparing to send heavy weapons to the “self-defenders” of the Donbass.

Now, according to a story in The New York Times of July 27, the White House may give Kiev sensitive intelligence information enabling it to pinpoint and destroy such Russian equipment, thereby, the Times article also suggests, risking “escalation with Russia.” To promote this major escalation, the Obama administration is alleging, without firm evidence, that Russia is already “firing artillery from its territory into Ukraine.” Virtually unreported, however, is repeated Ukrainian shelling of Russia’s own territory, which killed a resident on July 13.

In fact, Kiev has been Washington’s military proxy against Russia and its “compatriots” in eastern Ukraine for months. Since the political crisis began, Secretary of State John Kerry, CIA Director John Brennan and Vice President Joseph Biden (twice) have been in Kiev, followed by “senior US defense officials,” American military equipment and financial aid. Still more, a top US Defense Department official informed a Senate committee that the department’s “advisers” are now “embedded” in the Ukrainian defense ministry.’

READ MORE…

Stiglitz on Argentina’s default: “This is America throwing a bomb into the global economic system”

Peter Eavis and Alexandra Stevenson write for The New York Times:

‘[...] The campaign against Argentina shows how driven and deep-pocketed hedge funds can sometimes wield influence outside of the markets they bet in. George Soros’s successful wager against the pound in 1992 affected Britain’s relationship with Europe for years.

While Mr. Singer’s firm has yet to collect any money from Argentina, some debt market experts say that the battle may already have shifted the balance of power toward creditors in the enormous debt markets that countries regularly tap to fund their deficits. Countries in crisis may now find it harder to gain relief from creditors after defaulting on their debt, they assert.

“We’ve had a lot of bombs being thrown around the world, and this is America throwing a bomb into the global economic system,” said Joseph E. Stiglitz, the economist and professor at Columbia University. “We don’t know how big the explosion will be — and it’s not just about Argentina.”’

READ MORE…

Latin America’s military is making a comeback

Simeon Tegel reports for The Global Post:

‘It was a momentous day for Latin America: On March 11, 1990, Augusto Pinochet, the region’s last military dictator, finally handed power to an elected civilian president. Since then, democracy has put down roots in the Americas to such an extent that few expect a repeat of the bloody coups that frequently punctuated the region’s history.

But now, across Latin America, the military is flexing its muscles once again and taking on more central roles in society, including in ways that experts warn are posing subtler risks to constitutional rule.

The most obvious way is the armed forces’ increasingly upfront participation in crime fighting, with the public, media and politicians demanding a “mano dura,” or firm hand, against rampant street violence and ruthless drug cartels.’

READ MORE…

Former FBI director says Israel’s Gaza war aiding ISIS recruitment

Evan Perez and Elise Labott report for CNN:

‘Former FBI director Robert Mueller said Friday, “what’s happening in Gaza today will feed and fuel the desire for many more to join radical groups.”

Mueller was participating in a panel at the Aspen Security Forum discussing the growing flow of foreign fighter, particularly those with western passports, to countries like Syria with the intention of joining the global jihad.

Mueller added that those inspired to join radical groups will not necessarily go to the Gaza strip, but could feel prompted to look join the larger extremist movement elsewhere (for example, in Iraq and Syria).’

READ MORE…

Former US intelligence officers warn President Obama on US actions against Russia

In a memorandum to President Obama, the Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS) which includes the likes of William Binney and Ray McGovern, warn about the dangers of further escalation between the U.S. and Russia over the situation in Ukraine:

‘U.S.-Russian intensions are building in a precarious way over Ukraine, and we are far from certain that your advisers fully appreciate the danger of escalation. The New York Times and other media outlets are treating sensitive issues in dispute as flat-fact, taking their cue from U.S. government sources. Twelve days after the shoot-down of Malaysian Airlines Flight 17, your administration still has issued no coordinated intelligence assessment summarizing what evidence exists to determine who was responsible – much less to convincingly support repeated claims that the plane was downed by a Russian-supplied missile in the hands of Ukrainian separatists. Your administration has not showed any satellite imagery showing that the separatists had such weaponry, and there are several other “dogs that have not barked.” Washington’s credibility, and your own, will continue to erode, should you be unwilling – or unable – to present more tangible evidence behind administration claims. In what follows, we put this in the perspective of former intelligence professionals with a cumulative total of 260 years in various parts of U.S. intelligence.’

READ MORE…

US accuses Russia of violating 1987 nuclear treaty based on tests in 2008

Jason Ditz writes for Antiwar:

‘In a move that seems timed more or less entirely to add to tensions with Russia, the Obama Administration has announced that it sent a letter to Russia accusing them of violating the 1987 Intermediate Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty.

The issue is a fairly old one, centering on tests Russia did of cruise missiles back in 2008. In January of this year, the US finally informed NATO that they were “conducting a review” of the tests, and it was only today that they finally decided the six-year-old tests were a “violation.”’

READ MORE…

Chase Madar: U.S. drone attacks undermine national security

Chase Madar, author of The Passion of Bradley Manning, writes for Al Jazeera:

‘Drone blowback is real. Over the past five years, terrorists have attempted serious attacks on American soil that were motivated in part by U.S. drone strikes abroad. We know this because the apprehended terrorists have been loud and clear about their motives. As Pakistani-born Faisal Shahzad, whose car bomb failed to explode in Times Square in May 2010, said at his arraignment:

Until the hour the U.S. pulls its forces from Iraq and Afghanistan and stops the drone strikes in Somalia and Yemen and in Pakistan and stops the occupation of Muslim lands … we will be attacking U.S. The drone hits in Afghanistan and Iraq, they don’t see children … They kill women, children — they kill everybody.

A foiled plot to blow up the New York subway, led by Afghan-born, Queens-raised Najibullah Zazi, also speaks to the growing anger over drone warfare. According to courtroom testimony from the would-be perpetrators, they conceived their effort as revenge for the drone attacks in northwestern Pakistan, where U.S. strikes have killed some 2,800 people. Just how many of those killed were Al-Qaeda fighters and how many civilians is not precisely known. But the connection between drones abroad and danger at home is not hypothetical: It’s a demonstrable fact. And yet our national security experts tend to treat these attempted terrorist attacks as if they were of no relevance to Washington’s increasing use of lethal unmanned aircraft.’

READ MORE…

‘Neighborhood watch’: US launches satellites to spy on spy satellites

Reuters reports:

‘Launch of two satellites for the U.S. Air Force’s recently declassified Geosynchronous Space Situational Awareness Program, or GSSAP, had been slated for July 23, but was delayed one day to resolve a technical issue with ground support equipment and then three more times by poor weather.

…General William Shelton, head of Air Force Space Command, likened GSSAP to a “neighborhood watch program” that will keep tabs on other countries’ satellites. The program “will bolster our ability to discern when adversaries attempt to avoid detection and to discover capabilities they may have which might be harmful to our critical assets at these higher altitudes,” Shelton said during a speech in February that unveiled the once-classified program.’

READ MORE…

Mass U.S. Surveillance Targeting Journalists and Lawyers Seen As Threat to American Democracy

‘In a new report, Human Rights Watch and the American Civil Liberties Union warn that “large-scale surveillance is seriously hampering U.S.-based journalists and lawyers in their work.” The report is based on interviews with dozens of reporters and lawyers. They describe a media climate where journalists take cumbersome security steps that slows down their reporting. Sources are afraid of talking, as aggressive prosecutions scare government officials into staying silent, even about issues that are unclassified. For lawyers, the threat of surveillance is stoking fears they will be unable to protect a client’s right to privacy. Some defendants are afraid of speaking openly to their own counsel, undermining a lawyer’s ability provide the best possible defense. We speak to Alex Sinha, author of the report, “With Liberty to Monitor All: How Large-Scale U.S. Surveillance is Harming Journalism, Law, and American Democracy,” and to national security reporter Jeremy Scahill.’ (Democracy Now!)

Israel and the US Have Dropped Bombs on 8 Muslim Countries This Year

Chris Ernesto writes for Antiwar:

‘There are 1.6 billion Muslims in the world today, with 49 countries having a predominantly Muslim population. Of these countries, 4 have been bombed by Israel, and 4 have been bombed by the US this year alone.’

READ MORE…

EU Ombudsman: “Whistleblowers play a key role in uncovering serious irregularities”

EurActiv reports:

Emily O'Reilly, EU Ombudsman, with EU Commission president 2009-2014, José Manuel Barroso [European Commission]‘The EU Ombudsman, Emily O’Reilly, on Monday (27 July) opened an investigation into nine EU institutions, which have failed to put in place protective measures for staff members that report corruption or malpractice.

“Whistleblowers play a key role in uncovering serious irregularities,” the EU Ombudsman, Emily O’Reilly said in an announcement of the investigation. “I want to ensure that the EU institutions have in place the necessary rules to protect whistleblowers and to deal with complaints they submit about how they have been treated.”

The Ombudsman’s office has drafted their own internal rules for the protection of whistleblowers. These include rules stating that someone who reports suspicion of corruption should be able to be transferred to another EU body or institution, and that managers should ensure that whistleblowing is favourably recognised when assessing EU officials for promotion.’

READ MORE…

Virginia Mason Hospital: Where staff are proud to blow the whistle on themselves

Nick Allen reports for The Telegraph:

‘One day recently, Andrea Sangrey, an oncology pharmacist, mixed up two chemotherapy drugs while preparing a prescription. She could easily have kept quiet about her mistake: the error was caught by a colleague before the medicine reached the patient, and no one needed to be any the wiser. Instead, she immediately reported herself to the hospital management.

“Yes, I reported myself,” she says. “I put in a drug called Paclitaxel and it should have been Docetaxel. It could have caused harm to the patient. I was a little nervous filing a report on myself, but the reaction didn’t feel punitive. It was refreshing really, because I was actually thanked for calling myself out. They looked at how it happened and how you fix it.”

At Virginia Mason Hospital in Seattle such honesty is far from unusual. A decade ago the hospital adopted a revolutionary approach that encourages all its 5,600 staff to report problems without fear of repercussions.’

READ MORE…

9/11 Commission a decade later: ‘Terrorism is not going away’

Tom Cohen reports for CNN:

‘America’s longest war. Much more National Security Agency surveillance. An alphabet soup of new government departments and agencies. Long security lines at airports. All those things happened in response to the 9/11 al Qaeda attacks on New York and the Pentagon that forever changed U.S. security perceptions and practices. Now a commission created to examine what happened then says we need to do more now to protect ourselves.

“The ‘generational struggle’ against terrorism described in ‘The 9/11 Commission Report’ is far from over,” the panel said this week in reference to its assessment a decade earlier. “Rather, it is entering a new and dangerous phase, and America cannot afford to let down its guard.” Its bottom line assessment? “Strenuous counterterrorism efforts will remain a fact of our national life for the foreseeable future.”‘

READ MORE…

9/11: 2,500 Ground Zero workers have cancer

Susan Edelman reports for The New York Post:

2,500 Ground Zero workers have cancer‘More than 2,500 Ground Zero rescuers and responders have come down with cancer, and a growing number are seeking compensation for their illnesses, The Post has learned. The grim toll has skyrocketed from the 1,140 cancer cases reported last year.

In its latest tally, the World Trade Center Health Program at Mount Sinai Hospital counts 1,655 responders with cancer among the 37,000 cops, hard hats, sanitation workers, other city employees and volunteers it monitors, officials told The Post.

The tragic sum rises to 2,518 when firefighters and EMTs are added. The FDNY, which has its own WTC health program, said Friday it counts 863 members with cancers certified for 9/11-related treatment.’

READ MORE…

AUMF: Obama seeks to dramatically broaden War on Terror

Jason Ditz reports for Antiwar:

‘Whenever you see a president looking for a significant reform, you should always look at the fine print. The news that President Obama was looking at getting Congress to remove the 9/11 Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF), as well as the 2002 AUMF that led to the invasion and occupation of Iraq, was initially seen as a possible climbdown from the position of eternal American warfare.

Instead, White House officials are now saying that the old 9/11 AUMF is “outdated” and less useful in their current warmongering, primarily because it is so difficult to spin factions that didn’t exist 13 years ago as something to do with 9/11. The “repeal” is really a cover for what they are now calling the “evolving” of the global war on terrorism, and the introduction of a new, broader authority for the president to attack whatever flavor-of-the-week enemy he can get the terrorist label to stick to.’

READ MORE…

Punished for saving water: A drought Catch-22

The L.A. Times reports:

‘Talk about mixed messages: While Gov. Jerry Brown is warning that California faces its worst drought since record-keeping began and regulators have approved fines of up to $500 for wasting water, some Southern California cities are continuing to issue warnings and citations to residents who let their lawns go brown.

After a Glendora couple decided that they’d water their lawn only twice a week, which left it with brown patches and bald spots, they received a letter from the city’s code enforcement unit warning them to turn their grass green again or face $100 to $500 in fines and possible criminal action, according to the San Gabriel Valley Tribune.’

READ MORE…

You Can’t Taper a Ponzi Scheme: Time to Reboot

Ellen Brown writes for Web of Debt:

‘[...] The rules of money and banking have changed every 20 or 30 years for the past three centuries, in an ongoing trial-and-error experiment in evolving a financial system, and an ongoing battle over whose interests it will serve. To present that timeline in full will take another article, but in a nutshell we have gone from precious metal coins, to government-issued paper scrip, to privately-issued banknotes, to checkbook money, to gold-backed Federal Reserve Notes, to unbacked Federal Reserve Notes, to the “near money” created by the shadow banking system. Money has evolved from being “stored” in the form of a physical commodity, to paper representations of value, to computer bits storing information about credits and debits.

The rules have been changed before and can be changed again. Depressions, credit crises and financial collapse are not acts of God but are induced by mechanical flaws or corruption in the financial system. Credit may stop flowing, but the workers, materials and markets are still there. The system just needs a reboot.’

READ MORE…

Is the Fed fueling a giant stock market bubble?

John Maxfield writes for The Motley Fool:

07172014-bubble_large‘Take a good look at the chart and you’d be excused for concluding that we’re in the midst of the greatest stock market bubble of all time. Not only has the S&P 500 fully recovered from the financial crisis, it’s a staggering 30% higher than the peaks of the Internet and housing bull markets.

But is this really the case? With unemployment still above 6%, how could we find ourselves in the throes of yet another brewing catastrophe? Didn’t investors and analysts learn anything from the past decade and a half?

While it requires some explanation, the answer is that we’re most likely not experiencing another irrational inflation of stock prices. The market’s record level is instead a predictable response to the Federal Reserve’s policy of keeping interest rates at historically low levels.’

READ MORE…

Doctors often do more harm than good in a culture of over-investigation and over-treatment

Dr. Aseem Malhotra writes for The Guardian:

‘Writing in the New England Journal of Medicine last year, Dr Harlan Krumholz, professor of medicine at Yale, described a syndrome that starts to develop close to discharge from hospital. Physiological systems are impaired, reserves are depleted, and the body cannot effectively mitigate health threats. It is instructive to note that this syndrome – created by the stressful hospital environment – is a significant contributor to hospital re-admissions. It is estimated that 10-20% of patients discharged from hospital in the UK and US will be re-admitted within 30 days, often with a condition entirely unrelated to their original admission. Poor sleep and inadequate nutrition have an adverse effect on physical performance and co-ordination, cognitive function, immunity, and even cardiac risk. The elderly are particularly vulnerable to being re-admitted with falls and infection, with one study revealing that a fifth of hospitalised patients over 65 had an average nutrient intake of less than 50% of their daily requirements.

[...] A culture of over-investigation and over-treatment is now one of the greatest threats to western health. In the US it is estimated that a third of all healthcare activity brings no benefit to patients. Examples include excessive use of antibiotics, imaging for non-sinister headaches, use of surgery when watchful waiting is better and unwanted intensive care for patients at the end of life who would prefer hospice and home care. In the US, a fee-for-service model encourages high volume and expensive procedures. But we should be alert to similar possibilities here: the UK’s “payment by results” – which in reality is a payment-by-activity model – potentially incentivises “doing more” on the part of physicians. As a profession we have also been guilty – unwittingly or otherwise – of exaggerating the benefits of medications often perceived as magic pills by patients when their benefits are often modest at best. This also detracts from more meaningful lifestyle interventions by giving the public the illusion of protection.’

READ MORE…

The Fight for the Freedom of Information: Interview with Jeff Cohen

‘Jeff Cohen discusses several freedom of information issues, including a new campaign encouraging whistleblowing, the case of journalist James Risen, and net neutrality.’ (The Real News)

Sean Hannity Unleashes Shouting Points On Palestinian Guest

Poor doors: Segregation of London’s inner-city flat dwellers

Hilary Osborne writes for The Guardian:

One Commercial Street development‘Multimillion pound housing developments in London are segregating less well-off tenants from wealthy homebuyers by forcing them to use separate entrances.

A Guardian investigation has discovered a growing trend in the capital’s upmarket apartment blocks – which are required to include affordable homes in order to win planning permission – for the poorer residents to be forced to use alternative access, a phenomenon being dubbed “poor doors”. Even bicycle storage spaces, rubbish disposal facilities and postal deliveries are being separated.

The Green party accused developers of showing “contempt for ordinary people” by enforcing such two-tier policies.’

READ MORE…

Japan still clearing World War II bombs from Okinawa

Matthew M. Burke and Chiyomi Sumida report for Stars & Stripes:

280714OKINAWA_BOMBphoto04‘World War II ended 69 years ago, but shells are still exploding off the coast of Okinawa. Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force explosive ordnance disposal technicians detonated two dozen U.S.-made munitions Wednesday morning about 800 yards from shore in Kadena town’s Mizugama district, an area known as the “sea wall,” close to Kadena Air Base.

Nineteen of the 24 rounds were 5-inch shells found near the mouth of Hija River in Kadena town along with an 81 mm mortar shell, according to Kadena Town official Nobukazu Kobashigawa. They were accompanied by four 5-inch shells found on the Yomitan Village side. “It is not surprising to find those shells because the beach is where the allied forces first landed during the Battle of Okinawa,” Kobashigawa said. “I am sure there are lots more.”’

READ MORE…

Sanctions against Russia spark AK-47 buying frenzy in US

RT reports:

Cindy Sparr boxes up an AK-47 style rifle after selling it at Freddie Bear Sports sporting goods store. (AFP Photo / Getty Images / Scott Olson)‘Russian-made firearms are reportedly flying off the shelves of American gun stores after the United States Treasury Department announced sanctions last week against the maker of the popular AK-47 rifle.

Kalashnikov Concern, the company responsible for the eponymous gas-operated 7.62 caliber assault rifle known largely around the world as the AK-47, is among the latest Russian-owned entities to be blacklisted by the US government following last Wednesday’s announcement that several Russian banks, energy firms and weapons makers were being targeted by new sanctions.’

READ MORE…