Category Archives: USA

Egypt’s U.S-Backed Military Regime is Brutalizing Student Protestors

Murtaza Hussain writes for The Intercept:

Featured photo - Egypt’s U.S-Backed Military Regime is Brutalizing Student Protestors‘Just a few short months after John Kerry disingenuously congratulated Egypt’s military junta for “transitioning to democracy”, the young students who helped galvanize the 2011 Egyptian Revolution are back protesting its increasingly draconian rule. Campus protests have broken out in several major cities calling for the release of imprisoned student activists and for the removal of new limits on academic freedom imposed by the regime.

As part of wide-ranging campaign to stifle popular dissent, the government of President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi has recently given itself broad powers to directly appoint university heads, dismiss faculty without the possibility of appeal, and force students to sign documents promising “not to participate in political activities” in their housing applications. Private security firms have also been hired to enforce order on campus and monitor activists.

Predictably, these measures have led to outrage among students – and equally as predictable, their protests have been met with harsh retribution from the military regime.’

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Isaac Asimov’s Newly Published 1959 Paper for DARPA on Creativity

Matt Novak reports for Gizmodo:

‘Isaac Asimov was one of the great sci-fi writers of the 20th century. So naturally, at the dawn of the space age, the military wanted to tap his brain. In 1959 he was approached by ARPA (now known as DARPA) to “think outside of the box” about how ideas are formed. His brief work for the organization has never been published, until today.’

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Cold War spy plane isn’t ready to retire

Tim Starks writes for McClatchy:

‘The iconic U-2 spy plane, with its long, sagging wings and a reputation for being challenging to fly and harder to land, is one of the oldest aircraft in the U.S. fleet, with a storied history to match: The downing of Francis Gary Powers is a touchstone moment in the Cold War, and many a UFO rumor can be attributed to the plane’s early flight tests at the government’s secret Area 51 in the Nevada desert.

One year before of the 60th anniversary of its first flight in 1955, the U-2 is on the chopping block, where it has been many times before. President Barack Obama’s fiscal 2015 budget called for its retirement to begin in 2016, and while one of the fiscal 2015 defense spending and authorization bills would block the move, others do not explicitly do so.

Yet the U-2 has avoided death time and again, owing to its versatility, its reliability, its low operating cost and the inability of rival airborne surveillance systems to replace what it offers. Only two budgets ago, the Obama administration proposed retiring the Global Hawk Block 30 reconnaissance drone, citing the U-2’s capabilities for the same job; this year, it has taken the opposite stance, saying Global Hawk advancements have made the U-2 less essential.

And unlike some of its 1950s peers, such as the B-52 bomber or KC-135 refueling tanker, there is no plan to build a successor, a “next generation” spy plane. That means the U-2 could be here to stay.’

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Expelled Nazis paid millions in U.S. Social Security benefits

Richard Lardner, David Rising and Randy Herschaft report for the Associated Press:

‘Dozens of suspected Nazi war criminals and SS guards collected millions of dollars in U.S. Social Security benefits after being forced out of the United States, an Associated Press investigation has found.

The payments, underwritten by American taxpayers, flowed through a legal loophole that gave the U.S. Justice Department leverage to persuade Nazi suspects to leave the U.S. If they agreed to go, or simply fled before deportation, they could keep their Social Security, according to interviews and internal U.S. government records.

Among those receiving benefits were armed SS troops who guarded the network of Nazi camps where millions of Jews perished; a rocket scientist who used slave laborers to advance his research in the Third Reich; and a Nazi collaborator who engineered the arrest and execution of thousands of Jews in Poland.’

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Joe Biden’s Son Hunter Kicked Out of Navy for Cocaine

NBC News reports:

U.S. Vice President Joe Biden (R) points to some faces in the crowd with his son Hunter. (Reuters/Carlos Barria )‘Vice President Joe Biden’s son was booted from the Navy Reserve because he tested positive for drugs, it was revealed on Thursday.

A U.S. official told NBC News that Hunter Biden was kicked out of the Reserve earlier this year after he failed a drug test.

The official said Biden failed the test in 2013, but he was not kicked out until Feb. 14 of this year. Senior U.S. officials told NBC News that Biden, 44, tested positive for cocaine. The Wall Street Journal first reported the incident.’

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Marshall Islands nuke suit against U.S. gets Nobel winners’ support

Bob Egelko reports for the San Francisco Chronicle:

‘The Marshall Islands, a small nation in the northern Pacific that endured 67 U.S. atomic tests in the 1940s and 1950s, has sued the United States in a Bay Area federal court, claiming violations of an international nuclear weapons treaty and seeking a court order that would require the U.S. to enter negotiations on nuclear disarmament within a year. The suit appears to be a longshot — Justice Department lawyers are seeking dismissal on multiple grounds, including a lack of judicial authority over the issue — but it recently picked up some eminent support.

In an open letter to the islands’ government and its people, 68 advocates of disarmament and human rights from 22 nations, including two Nobel Peace Prize winners, endorsed the federal lawsuit and a parallel suit the Marshall Islands have filed in the World Court against all nine nuclear weapons nations.’

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Citizenfour: Snowden Film Tests Hollywood’s Obama Backers

Michael Cieply writes for The New York Times:

‘Early in Laura Poitras’s documentary “Citizenfour,” Edward J. Snowden, who exposed vast electronic surveillance by the United States government, tells what pushed him to go public.

“As I saw the promise of the Obama administration betrayed, and walked away from,” says Mr. Snowden, referring to drone strikes and invasive monitoring by the National Security Agency, “it really hardened me to action.”

But do some of President Obama’s staunch Hollywood supporters share his sentiment?

Her provocative, and deeply admiring, look at Mr. Snowden — which had its premiere at the New York Film Festival on Oct. 10 — arrived here this week amid high hopes, intense curiosity and more than a few raised eyebrows over its sharp critique of Mr. Obama, a president who has enjoyed strong support in the movie world.’

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The NSA’s Moonlighting Problem

Allen McDuffee reports for The Atlantic:

‘In Washington, the revolving door between government service and more lucrative ventures is common, if not expected. However, having one foot in each has raised questions for the National Security Agency, which has launched an internal review of one senior official who was recruited by former NSA director Keith Alexander to work for his new—and very lucrative—cybersecurity private venture.

Patrick Dowd, the NSA’s Chief Technological Officer, is allowed to work up to 20 hours a week for Alexander’s firm, IronNet Cybersecurity, Inc., according to Reuters, which broke the story on the deal. Although the arrangement was apparently approved by NSA managers and does not appear to break any laws on its face, it does raise questions about ethics and the dividing line between business and one of the most secretive agencies in government.’

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What ‘Democracy’ Really Means in U.S. and New York Times Jargon: Latin America Edition

Glenn Greenwald writes for The Intercept:

Featured photo - What ‘Democracy’ Really Means in U.S. and New York Times Jargon: Latin America Edition‘One of the most accidentally revealing media accounts highlighting the real meaning of “democracy” in U.S. discourse is a still-remarkable 2002 New York Times Editorial on the U.S.-backed military coup in Venezuela, which temporarily removed that country’s democratically elected (and very popular) president, Hugo Chávez. Rather than describe that coup as what it was by definition – a direct attack on democracy by a foreign power and domestic military which disliked the popularly elected president – the Times, in the most Orwellian fashion imaginable, literally celebrated the coup as a victory for democracy:

With yesterday’s resignation of President Hugo Chávez, Venezuelan democracy is no longer threatened by a would-be dictator. Mr. Chávez, a ruinous demagogue, stepped down after the military intervened and handed power to a respected business leader, Pedro Carmona.

Thankfully, said the NYT, democracy in Venezuela was no longer in danger . . . because the democratically-elected leader was forcibly removed by the military and replaced by an unelected, pro-U.S. “business leader.” The Champions of Democracy at the NYT then demanded a ruler more to their liking: “Venezuela urgently needs a leader with a strong democratic mandate to clean up the mess, encourage entrepreneurial freedom and slim down and professionalize the bureaucracy.”’

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Christopher Columbus: The ISIS Of His Day

AP reporter asks Admiral Kirby: Has NATO expanded to Russia, or Russia moved towards NATO?

Editor’s Note: The U.S./NATO never see their actions as aggressive or confrontational. Actions are always taken in the name of “defence” because they’re the “good guys”. Either they’re so wrapped up in their own moral crusade to “bring democracy to the world” (which is quite clearly bullshit when you look at history), or they wilfully refuse to see how the other side might perceive their actions because it’s to their advantage not to. 

George W. Bush was still completely wrong about Iraq’s WMDs

Matt Purple writes for Rare:

‘Yesterday the New York Times published a major scoop: American troops had uncovered chemical weapons during the Iraq war, and on at least six occasions were injured by chemical agents. The government then frantically tried to conceal the WMDs, keeping the information classified and, in some cases, denying soldiers care for chemical-related injuries.

There are plenty of conclusions to draw from the Times story.

That the Bush administration’s decision to invade Iraq is vindicated is not one of them.

The Times reports that many of the chemical weapons were empty, most were unusable, and all were manufactured before 1991. This fits with the current wisdom that Saddam Hussein abandoned his chemical weapons program after the First Gulf War.

As the Times concludes, “The discoveries of these chemical weapons did not support the government’s invasion rationale.”

Still that hasn’t stopped many conservatives from engaging in a little hackneyed told-you-so. “Put that ‘Bush lied, kids died’ in your pipes and smoke it!!!” went today’s typical Tweet.’

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British hostage John Cantlie says ‘third Gulf war coming’ in latest ISIS propaganda video

Josie Ensor reports for The Telegraph:

British hostage John Cantlie held by Islamic State militants at an undisclosed location‘The Islamic State has released the latest propaganda video delivered by captured British journalist John Cantlie, in which he warns of a “third Gulf war”.

In the fourth video from the Lend Me Your Ears video series posted online by the jihadists, the abducted photojournalist said media rhetoric was whipping up support for a “full-blown war” and that Isil was prepared.

Mr Cantlie warned that Isil has “grown exponentially until not even the US military, the policemen of the world, are able to contain them”.

He said the media had learnt nothing from previous wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and that the mujahideen were happy to “sit back and watch them (the West) waste trillions more (dollars) to avoid the spectre of another 9/11.”’

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Ex-chief of CIA’s bin Laden unit says Islamic State needs U.S. to intervene

Will Porter reports for Antiwar:

‘In recent media appearances, ex-chief of the CIA’s bin Laden unit, Michael Scheuer, came out strongly against the latest American military campaign in Iraq. Echoing past criticisms, thoroughly voiced in his books Through Our Enemies Eyes, Marching Toward Hell, and Imperial Hubris, Scheuer offers a case against the new Iraq intervention based on his 20+ years of experience as a US intelligence officer, as well as an intimate and detailed knowledge of Islamic extremism.

In Scheuer’s view, another US military intervention in the Middle East against groups such as the Islamic State (IS) will not meet its stated objectives, and will fall into the same errors made in past operations of a similar character. Continuing this policy, he says, will only help to motivate and radicalize Muslims the world over, and will provide exactly the impetus IS needs to step up their drive to establish a long-sought Islamic caliphate in the Levant region.’

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General Allen: ISIS has made ‘substantial gains’ in Iraq

Jason Ditz reports for Antiwar:

‘Former Afghan War commander and President Obama’s point-man on the new ISIS War, retired General John Allen continued to offer assessments on the ongoing conflict, insisting today that it was too soon to say whether or not the US is winning the war.

That said, Allen conceded that ISIS is continuing to make “substantial gains” on the ground in Iraq, and still has “tactical momentum” in several areas around western Iraq.

Most of ISIS territorial gains in Iraq in recent days have centered around the Anbar Province, where they are quickly mopping up the last of the Iraqi government’s territory and moving on the second largest airbase in the country. The push to Anbar’s edge leaves them only a stone’s throw from Baghdad itself.’

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Islamophobia and the Politics of Empire: Interview with Deepa Kumar

Editor’s Note: Below are parts three and four of a five part interview with Deepa Kumar, author of ‘Islamophobia and the Politics of Empire‘. You can view the other parts of the interview at The Real News.

U.S. Air Force’s Supersecret Spacecraft Comes Back to Earth After Two Years

Justin Bachman reports for Business Week:

The X-37B Orbital Test Vehicle on the runway during post-landing operations on Dec. 3, 2010, at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California‘The U.S. Air Force has kept an unmanned space shuttle in orbit for the past two years, and it seems no one without security clearance knows what it’s been doing up there.

The X-37B Orbital Test Vehicle, which can enter orbit and land without human intervention, is scheduled to touch down this week—the best guess is sometime on Tuesday—at Vandenberg Air Force Base, northwest of Santa Barbara, Calif. The landing will mark completion of the program’s third and longest mission, which was launched on Dec. 11, 2012. The Air Force has two such spacecraft for these low-earth orbit missions, all of which are classified, as are the precise launch and landing times.

“The mission is basically top secret,” says Captain Chris Hoyler, an Air Force spokesman. The X-37B program came from technologies developed by Boeing (BA), NASA, the Air Force, and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (Darpa).’

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FBI Director: If Apple and Google Won’t Decrypt Phones, We’ll Force Them To

Jason Koebler reports for VICE Motherboard:

‘Everyone is stoked that the latest versions of iOS and Android will (finally) encrypt all the information on your smartphone by default. Except, of course, the FBI: Today, its director spent an hour attacking the companies and the very idea of encryption, even suggesting that Congress should pass a law banning the practice of default encryption.

It’s of course no secret that James Comey and the FBI hate the prospect of “going dark,” the idea that law enforcement simply doesn’t have the technical capability to track criminals (and the average person) because of all those goddamn apps, encryption, wifi network switching, and different carriers.

It’s a problem that the FBI has been dealing with for too long (in Comey’s eyes, at least). Today, Comey went ballistic on Apple and Google’s recent decision to make everything just a little more private.’

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New Zealand Cops Raided Home of Reporter Working on Snowden Documents

Glenn Greenwald and Ryan Gallagher report for The Intercept:

Featured photo - New Zealand Cops Raided Home of Reporter Working on Snowden Documents‘Agents from New Zealand’s national police force ransacked the home of a prominent independent journalist earlier this month who was collaborating with The Intercept on stories from the NSA archive furnished by Edward Snowden. The stated purpose of the 10-hour police raid was to identify the source for allegations that the reporter, Nicky Hager, recently published in a book that caused a major political firestorm and led to the resignation of a top government minister.

But in seizing all the paper files and electronic devices in Hager’s home, the authorities may have also taken source material concerning other unrelated stories that Hager was pursuing. Recognizing the severity of the threat posed to press freedoms from this raid, the Freedom of the Press Foundation today announced a global campaign to raise funds for Hager’s legal defense.’

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Does Arming Rebels Ever Work? CIA Study Says No

Mark Mazzetti reports for The New York Times:

‘The Central Intelligence Agency has run guns to insurgencies across the world during its 67-year history — from Angola to Nicaragua to Cuba. The continuing C.I.A. effort to train Syrian rebels is just the latest example of an American president becoming enticed by the prospect of using the spy agency to covertly arm and train rebel groups.

An internal C.I.A. study has found that it rarely works.

The still-classified review, one of several C.I.A. studies commissioned in 2012 and 2013 in the midst of the Obama administration’s protracted debate about whether to wade into the Syrian civil war, concluded that many past attempts by the agency to arm foreign forces covertly had a minimal impact on the long-term outcome of a conflict. They were even less effective, the report found, when the militias fought without any direct American support on the ground.’

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How One Man Refused to Spy on Fellow Muslims for the FBI

Arun Kundnani, Emily Keppler and Muki Najaer report for The Nation:

FBI‘On the night of December 9, 2011, Siham Stewart called her husband, Ayyub Abdul-Alim, as he closed down his corner store, Nature’s Garden, in Springfield, Massachusetts. She asked him to bring home a gallon of milk. A few minutes later, she watched from the window of their second-floor apartment as he was seized in the street and handcuffed by two police officers.

Forty-eight hours after Abdul-Alim’s arrest, FBI agent James Hisgen and Springfield police officer Ronald Sheehan offered him the chance to walk away free of charges if he agreed to become an informant on the Muslim community. He refused the deal and is now held at the Cedar Junction maximum-security prison in Massachusetts, facing up to sixteen years behind bars.’

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Former Defense Secretary Leon Panetta Sparks Debate Over U.S. Nuclear Strike on North Korea

Lauren Walker and Jeff Stein report for Newsweek:

RTR2TB18‘The specter of nuclear mushroom clouds rising over northeast Asia has long been a staple of nightmare scenarios in the event of another war between North and South Korea. It’s a prospect so apocalyptic that American officials have rarely articulated exactly what would trigger their use of weapons that could instantly kill millions and make the entire peninsula uninhabitable for decades.

In a memoir published last week, however, former CIA chief and Defense Secretary Leon Panetta reopened the prickly issue, recalling a chilling, 2010 briefing in Seoul by General Walter L. “Skip” Sharp, the commander of U.S. forces in South Korea, who told him just such a nightmare could come true should communist forces pour across the DMZ as they did in 1950.’

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Pakistan, U.S. appear once again to be cooperating on drone strikes

Tom Hussain reports for McClatchy:

0711162-F-9126Z-793‘A series of CIA drone strikes launched last week against Taliban insurgents in Pakistan’s northwest tribal areas provide the clearest demonstration yet that the U.S. intelligence agency and Pakistani security forces are once again cooperating on defeating the insurgents.

The drone strikes – nine in all, launched daily with a day off on Friday – targeted Taliban fighters as they retreated from the country’s advancing military, which has launched an offensive in the North Waziristan tribal area. Pakistani authorities have billed the campaign as the decisive battle of a seven-year war against Pakistan Taliban insurgents.’

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The American Government Tried to Kill James Risen’s Last Book

Murtaza Hussain reports for The Intercept:

‘James Risen’s new book on war-on-terror abuses comes out tomorrow, and if you want to find a copy it shouldn’t be hard to obtain. As natural as that seems, it almost wasn’t the case with the Risen’s last book, “State of War,” published in 2006. Not only did U.S. government officials object to the publication of the book on national security grounds, it turns out they pressured Les Moonves, the CEO of CBS, to have it killed.

The campaign to stifle Risen’s national security reporting at the Times is already well-documented, but a 60 Minutes story last night provided a glimpse into how deeply these efforts extended into the publishing world, as well. After being blocked from reporting on the NSA’s warrantless surveillance program for the paper of record, Risen looked into getting these revelations out through a book he was already under contract to write for Simon & Schuster, a book that would look at a wide range of intelligence missteps in the war on terror.’

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U.S. Media Cry Foul As Obama Attacks Freedom of the Press

Former NSA Director Says Government Shouldn’t Pursue Reporter James Risen

The Associated Press reports:

‘A former director of the National Security Agency says he doesn’t see the need for the U.S. government to prosecute the New York Times reporter who revealed the agency’s warrantless surveillance of Americans.

Michael Hayden says he is “conflicted” about whether reporter James Risen should be compelled to reveal his sources. Risen is facing potential jail time as he battles government efforts to force him to testify at the trial of a former CIA officer accused of leaking classified information.

Hayden tells CBS’ “60 Minutes” that Risen’s story damaged national security. But Hayden also says it’s “wrong” if “the method of redressing that actually harms the broad freedom of the press.” Hayden says “government needs to be strong,” but not so strong that it threatens individual liberties.’

The U.S. Government War Against Reporter James Risen

Norman Solomon and Marcy Wheeler write for The Nation:

‘Ever since New York Times reporter James Risen received his first subpoena from the Justice Department more than six years ago, occasional news reports have skimmed the surface of a complex story. The usual gloss depicts a conflict between top officials who want to protect classified information and a journalist who wants to protect confidential sources. Meanwhile, Jeffrey Sterling—a former undercover CIA officer now facing charges under the Espionage Act, whom the feds want Risen to identify as his source—is cast as a disgruntled ex-employee in trouble for allegedly spilling the classified beans.

But the standard media narratives about Risen and Sterling have skipped over deep patterns of government retaliation against recalcitrant journalists and whistleblowers. Those patterns are undermining press freedom, precluding the informed consent of the governed and hiding crucial aspects of US foreign policy. The recent announcement of Eric Holder’s resignation as attorney general has come after nearly five years of the Obama administration extending and intensifying the use of the Justice Department for retribution against investigative journalism and whistleblowing.’

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Missing Malala’s Message of Peace: Drones Fuel Terrorism

Peter Hart writes for Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting:

yousafzai‘On October 10, Pakistani teenager Malala Yousafzai–who received worldwide attention after being attacked by the Taliban for her advocacy for girls’ education–was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, along with Indian activist Kailash Satyarthi.  Yousafzai’s work on educational equity is well-known. But less well-known is what she said to Barack Obama about how his wars were undermining the fight against terrorism.

Last year, Yousafzai’s White House meeting with Barack Obama received wide media coverage.  But as I pointed out  back then (FAIR Blog, 10/15/13), part of Yousafzai’s message didn’t make it into most media accounts: She told Obama that drone strikes in her country were fueling more terrorism.’

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Iraqi Doctors Call Depleted Uranium Use “Genocide”

Dahr Jamail writes for Truthout:

2014.10.14.Jamail.Main‘Contamination from depleted uranium (DU) munitions is causing sharp rises in congenital birth defects, cancer cases and other illnesses throughout much of Iraq, according to numerous Iraqi doctors.

Iraqi doctors and prominent scientists believe that DU contamination is also connected to the emergence of diseases that were not previously seen in Iraq, such as new illnesses in the kidney, lungs and liver, as well as total immune system collapse. DU contamination may also be connected to the steep rise in leukaemia, renal and anaemia cases, especially among children, being reported throughout many Iraqi governorates.

There has also been a dramatic jump in miscarriages and premature births among Iraqi women, particularly in areas where heavy US military operations occurred, such as Fallujah during 2004, and Basra during the 1991 US war on Iraq.’

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Nafeez Ahmed on the ‘inevitability’ of a ground war against ISIS