Category Archives: USA

Putin: Ukraine army is NATO legion aimed at restraining Russia

RT reports:

Members of the Ukrainian armed forces drive armored vehicles in the town of Volnovakha, eastern Ukraine (Reuters / Alexander Ermochenko)‘The Ukrainian army is essentially a ‘NATO legion’ which doesn’t pursue the national interests of Ukraine, but persists to restrict Russia, President Vladimir Putin says.

“We often say: Ukrainian Army, Ukrainian Army. But who is really fighting there? There are, indeed, partially official units of armed forces, but largely there are the so-called ‘volunteer nationalist battalions’,” said Putin.

He added that the intention of Ukrainian troops is connected with “achieving the geopolitical goals of restraining Russia.” Putin was addressing students in the city of St. Petersburg.

According to Putin, the Ukrainian army “is not an army, but a foreign legion, in this case a foreign NATO legion, which, of course, doesn’t pursue the national interests of Ukraine.”’

READ MORE…

The Media’s Dangerous Anti-Russian Jingoistic Game: Interview with Stephen Cohen

Editor’s Note: Stephen Cohen is Professor Emeritus of Russian Studies and Politics at NYU and Princeton, and he is a contributing editor to The Nation. He is also the author of ‘Soviet Fates and Lost Alternatives: From Stalinism to the New Cold War‘. You can find more interviews and articles by Professor Cohen here.

Henry Kissinger, Mikhail Gorbachev separately warn about Ukraine crisis blowing out of control

The National Post reports:

Former U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger. left, and former leader of the Soviet Union Mikhail Gorbachev both had dire warnings about the situation in Ukraine.As Russian-backed rebels scored another victory is Eastern Ukraine Thursday, two giants of 20th-century geopolitics issued separate warnings about the crisis, suggesting it could evolve into a deeper, direct conflict between the United States and Russia with dangerous consequences.

Testifying at a U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee hearing, Henry Kissinger, an ardent Cold Warrior who was Richard Nixon’s main foreign policy advisor, stopped short of endorsing a call by the committee chairman, Republican Senator John McCainof Arizona, to provide defensive weapons to Ukraine’s military as it battles Russian-backed separatists.

[…] Meanwhile, former Russian leader Mikhail Gorbachev told Russia’s Interfax news agency that the West had “dragged” Russia into a new Cold War, one that risked outright confrontation.’

READ MORE…

U.S. Law Enforcement Deploying Latest Tech For Super Bowl 2015 Security

Intervention in civil wars ‘far more likely in oil-rich nations’

Tom Bawden reports for The Independent:

According to academics from the Universities of Portsmouth, Warwick and Essex, foreign intervention in a civil war is 100 times more likely when the afflicted country has high oil reserves than if it has none. The research is the first to confirm the role of oil as a dominant motivating factor in conflict, suggesting hydrocarbons were a major reason for the military intervention in Libya, by a coalition which included the UK, and the current US campaign against Isis in northern Iraq.

It suggests we are set for a period of low intervention because the falling oil price makes it a less valuable asset to protect. “We found clear evidence that countries with potential for oil production are more likely to be targeted by foreign intervention if civil wars erupt,” said one of the report authors, Dr Petros Sekeris, of the University of Portsmouth. “Military intervention is expensive and risky. No country joins another country’s civil war without balancing the cost against their own strategic interests.”’

READ MORE…

The war on leaks has gone way too far when journalists’ emails are under surveillance

Trevor Timm writes for The Guardian:

julian assange embassy windowThe outrageous legal attack on WikiLeaks and its staffers, who are exercising their First Amendment rights to publish classified information in the public interest—just like virtually every other major news organization in this country—is an attack on freedom of the press itself, and it’s shocking that more people aren’t raising their voices (and pens, and keyboards) in protest.

In the past four years, WikiLeaks has had their Twitter accounts secretly spied on, been forced to forfeit most of their funding after credit card companies unilaterally cut them off, had the FBI place an informant inside their news organization, watched their supporters hauled before a grand jury, and been the victim of the UK spy agency GCHQ hacking of their website and spying on their readers.

Now we’ve learned that, as The Guardian reported on Sunday, the Justice Department got a warrant in 2012 to seize the contents – plus the metadata on emails received, sent, drafted and deleted – of three WikiLeaks’ staffers personal Gmail accounts, which was inexplicably kept secret from them for almost two and a half years.’

READ MORE…

Bitter Lake by Adam Curtis (Documentary)

Victoria Nuland: Constant lying leaves RT unable to compete with “dynamic, truthful” US media

Jury Convicts Former CIA Officer Jeffrey Sterling of Leaking to Journalist & Violating Espionage Act

Kevin Gosztola writes for The Dissenter:

Former CIA officer Jeffrey Sterling has been convicted by a jury in Alexandria, Virginia, of charges brought against him because the government argued he leaked classified information about a top secret CIA operation in Iran to New York Times reporter James Risen.

Sterling’s case was the first case involving an alleged leak to the press to proceed to a full trial in thirty years. The last case involved Samuel L. Morison, a Navy civilian analyst who was charged under President Ronald Reagan for leaking photographs of Soviet ships to alert America to what he perceived as a new threat.’

READ MORE…

Ex-spies infiltrate Hollywood as espionage TV shows and movies multiply

Ian Shapira reports for The Washington Post:

‘[…] The career afterlife of a CIA official has typically followed well-known paths: Work for a private military contractor. Launch an “intelligence-driven” LLC. Join a law firm. Consult for the CIA. Write a memoir. But the hunger for espionage on TV and movies in recent years is cracking open new career opportunities for ex-CIA personnel with a flair for drama, the kind that’s less clandestine.

“Hollywood tends to be a destination spot for a lot of Washingtonians,” said David Nevins, the president of Showtime, which produces the spy juggernaut “Homeland.”

“There was the ‘West Wing’ crowd of former politicos. I’ve met with more than one former Navy SEAL. And now, certainly the intelligence community has been the most recent in a long line of Washingtonians trying to come out and tell their stories.”’

READ MORE…

Abby Martin: US media should cover real news, not Tom Brady

‘In an interview with The New York Times on Friday, Andrew Lack–the new head of the US’ $700 million per year international broadcasting efforts—cited RT, the Islamic State and Boko Haram as the three main entities challenging US power. The director of the Broadcasting Board of Governors took issue with RT’s viewpoints and coverage of events, insinuating that they pose a threat to America, while also associating the news network with the two infamous terrorist groups. Abby Martin, host of Breaking the Set, explains why alternative outlets like RT are needed to stand up to those who are not used to being challenged.’ (RT America)

Compare and Contrast: Obama’s Reaction to the Deaths of King Abdullah and Hugo Chávez

Glenn Greenwald writes for The Intercept:

Featured photo - Compare and Contrast: Obama’s Reaction to the Deaths of King Abdullah and Hugo Chávez‘Hugo Chávez was elected President of Venezuela four times from 1998 through 2012 and was admired and supported by a large majority of that country’s citizens, largely due to his policies that helped the poor. King Abdullah was the dictator and tyrant who ran one of the most repressive regimes on the planet.

The effusive praise being heaped on the brutal Saudi despot by western media and political figures has been nothing short of nauseating; the UK Government, which arouses itself on a daily basis by issuing self-consciously eloquent lectures to the world about democracy, actually ordered flags flown all day at half-mast to honor this repulsive monarch. My Intercept colleague Murtaza Hussain has an excellent article about this whole spectacle, along with a real obituary, here.’

READ MORE…

What the Pentagon Wants in a New AUMF: Perpetual Warfare

Micah Zenko writes for CFR Blogs:

[…] It was troubling to read portions of a new interview with Gen. Martin Dempsey chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. First, Dempsey endorsed the passage of a new authorization bill, but made clear that it should be a blank check for which the military can do whatever it wants: “I think in the crafting of the AUMF, all options should be on the table, and then we can debate whether we want to use them. But the authorization should be there.”

Second, America’s most senior uniformed military official makes clear that any this blank check should permit military operations anywhere on the face of the earth: “It shouldn’t constrain activities geographically, because ISIL knows no boundaries [and] doesn’t recognize any boundaries–in fact it’s their intention to erase all boundaries to their benefit.”

Finally, Dempsey contends that the blank check, geographically-unconstrained AUMF should last forever: “Constraints on time, or a ‘sunset clause,’ I just don’t think it’s necessary. I think the nation should speak of its intent to confront this radical ideological barbaric group and leave that open until we can deal with it.” Earlier this week, Dempseyopined about the fight against Islamic terrorism: “I think this threat is probably a 30-year issue.” As noted, this would make the war on terrorism even longer than the Cold War—1947-1989 vs. 1998-2045.’

READ MORE…

U.S. Won’t Admit to Killing a Single Civilian in the ISIS War

Nancy A. Youssef reports for The Daily Beast:

Civilian deaths, a keystone metric of the last war in Iraq, has now become the statistic no one wants to talk about.

Five months and 1,800-plus strikes into the U.S. air campaign against ISIS, and not a single civilian has been killed, officially. But Pentagon officials concede that they really have no way of telling for sure who has died in their attacks‚—and admit that no one will ever know how many have been slain.

“It’s impossible for us to know definitively if civilians are killed in a strike. We do everything we can to investigate. We don’t do strikes if we think civilians could be there. But we can’t have a perfect picture on what’s going on,” one Pentagon official explained to The Daily Beast.’

READ MORE…

U.S. Defense Secretary Doubts State Deptartment Claim of 6,000 ISIS Killed

Jason Ditz reports for Antiwar:

The State Department’s key talking point on the ISIS war today is that everything is going swimmingly. Secretary of State John Kerry declared ISIS’s momentum ‘decisively halted” while other officials bragged of 6,000 ISIS fighters, and half of the ISIS leadership, killed in their air war.

The State Department was claiming the death toll was based on a private tally kept by Centcom, though Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel expressed serious doubt about the figure.’

READ MORE…

The “Humanitarian” Weapon: Drones and the New Ethics of War

Never Gordon writes for CounterPunch:

theoryofdroneThis Christmas small drones were among the most popular gift under the tree in the U.S. with manufacturers stating that they sold 200,000 new unmanned aerial vehicles during the holiday season. While the rapid infiltration of drones into the gaming domain clearly reflects that drones are becoming a common weapon among armed forces, their appearance in Walmart, Toys “R” Us and Amazon serves, in turn, to normalize their deployment in the military.

Drones, as Grégoire Chamayou argues in his new book, A Theory of the Drone, have a uniquely seductive power, one that attracts militaries, politicians and citizens alike. A research scholar in philosophy at the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique in Paris, Chamayou is one of the most profound contemporary thinkers working on the deployment of violence and its ethical ramifications. And while his new book offers a concise history of drones, it focuses on how drones are changing warfare and their potential to alter the political arena of the countries that utilize them.’

READ MORE…

iPhone has secret software that can be remotely activated to spy on people, says Snowden

Andrew Griffin reports for The Independent:

The iPhone has secret spyware that lets governments watch users without their knowledge, according to Edward Snowden. The NSA whistleblower doesn’t use a phone because of the secret software, which Snowden’s lawyer says can be remotely activated to watch the user.

“Edward never uses an iPhone, he’s got a simple phone,” Anatoly Kucherena told Russian news agency RIA Novosti. “The iPhone has special software that can activate itself without the owner having to press a button and gather information about him, that’s why on security grounds he refused to have this phone.”

READ MORE…

Rapper Tiny Doo facing long prison sentence over lyrics

Emma Lacey-Bordeaux reports for CNN:

freetinySong lyrics that glorify violence are hardly uncommon. But a prosecutor in California says one rapper’s violent lyrics go beyond creative license to conspiracy.

San Diego-based rapper Tiny Doo has already spent eight months in prison, and faces 25 years to life in prison if convicted under a little-known California statute that makes it illegal to benefit from gang activities.

The statute in question is California Penal Code 182.5. The code makes it a felony for anyone to participate in a criminal street gang, have knowledge that a street gang has engaged in criminal activity, or benefit from that activity.

It’s that last part — benefiting from criminal activity — that prosecutors are going after the rapper for.’

READ MORE AND WATCH THE CNN INTERVIEW…

Yemen Chaos Throws a Wrench in US Drone War

Jason Ditz writes for Antiwar:

‘The Obama Administration had pretty much unconditional support from the Saleh government in Yemen throughout its early years, going to the trouble of covering up botched airstrikes for them.

When long-time dictator Ali Abdullah Saleh faced growing unrest, the US orchestrated the “election” of another military strongman, Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi, in a single-candidate election in 2012. Since then, Hadi’s been the go-to guy for rubber stamping US airstrikes.

The US backed dictators of a country constantly being pounded by US drones aren’t near as stable as officials had hoped, however, and amid growing chaos, Hadi resigned on Thursday, throwing the drone campaign into uncertainty.’

READ MORE…

Hailed as U.S. Counterterrorism Model, Yemen Teeters on the Brink: Interview with Iona Craig

Sam Adams Award 2015: Whistleblowers Warn of Dangers to Democracy

Charlie Skelton writes for The Huffington Post:

Bill Binney (Still from RT America video)Last night in Berlin, squished into an overpacked awards ceremony, I enjoyed – if that’s the word for it – two hours of chilling warnings about the future of western democracy. I was at the Sam Adams Award for integrity in intelligence, held this year in a freezing cold Berlin, and won by the former Technical Director of the NSA, William Binney.

Binney is probably the most senior intelligence whistleblower in recent history. To give you an idea of his seniority – he designed most of the programmes that Edward Snowden leaked details about. So when William Binney talks about the dangers of mass surveillance, it pays to listen. It’s a bit like hearing Josef Goebbels talk about the risks of propaganda. The guy knows his stuff.

While at the NSA, recalls Binney, “I worked the Soviet Union for 30 years,” so he found it “easy to recognise the illegal, unconstitutional activity” of the US government for what it was. What the NSA were doing “was exactly what the KGB wanted to do.” The difference is, the NSA have got better tools. Tools that Binney himself had built.

Binney saw his country being overcome by “the totalitarian process” – at which point, he says, “I immediately knew I had to do something”.’

READ MORE…

How the CIA made Google

Nafeez Ahmed writes for INSURE INTELLIGENCE/Medium:

‘[…] As our governments push to increase their powers, INSURGE INTELLIGENCE can now reveal the vast extent to which the US intelligence community is implicated in nurturing the web platforms we know today, for the precise purpose of utilizing the technology as a mechanism to fight global ‘information war’ — a war to legitimize the power of the few over the rest of us. The lynchpin of this story is the corporation that in many ways defines the 21st century with its unobtrusive omnipresence: Google.

Google styles itself as a friendly, funky, user-friendly tech firm that rose to prominence through a combination of skill, luck, and genuine innovation. This is true. But it is a mere fragment of the story. In reality, Google is a smokescreen behind which lurks the US military-industrial complex.

The inside story of Google’s rise, revealed here for the first time, opens a can of worms that goes far beyond Google, unexpectedly shining a light on the existence of a parasitical network driving the evolution of the US national security apparatus, and profiting obscenely from its operation.’

READ MORE…

Why I quit ‘Russia Today,’ and why it remains necessary

Paula Schmitt (@schmittpaula), author of Eudemonia, writes for +972 Magazine:

Russian President Vladimir Putin appears on state-owned television station Russia Today. (Photo by The Kremlin)‘The first thing I told my father when I accepted a job offer from Russia Today was, “at least I know where their money comes from.” I had no illusions about news outlets – they all have masters, though we can only know a few of them. In the case of RT, everyone knew who the conductor was, and I wanted to play the music. I was very much up to the job of uncovering bad things about America. I was ready to debunk the West, that philosophical province embellished by news corporations, all house-trained to sing in unison the disgrace that is the Other and how perfectly green our astroturf grows.

But as is wont to happen with laws and sausages, I couldn’t stomach the way RT’s news was made.

I hadn’t told many people I was going to work for RT. I didn’t update my LinkedIn profile, or add RT to my Twitter bio. I was cautious and rather embarrassed. But I did believe I could do something good there, probably more so than if I were on CNN or BBC. I had always been a fan of RT. I thought, and still think, it is refreshing, informative, even crucial. People like Abby Martin, Tom Hartman and Max Keiser are helping change the world for the better – I am convinced of that. RT also helps the public get access to specialists who are never consulted by the mainstream media, people who may be even more qualified to speak on specific issues but are completely ignored and erased from debate because they refuse to hum the tune set by Western think-tanks and paid lobbyists. I knew RT had a political agenda, but I expected to get lucky and cover issues where my truth would lie precisely where Russia thought it should. I had seen incredibly good documentaries about the ills of the West, from starvation and illiteracy in America to the corrupting power of Wall Street. Russia and I were on the same page most of the time. I just hoped they wouldn’t ask me to cover Putin’s government. Yes, that’s what I thought, or wanted to think – that Russia and I mostly only disagreed on Russia itself.

The truth, however, is that, much like the U.S., Russia has an interest or a political position on practically every country in the world.’

READ MORE…

American Sniper’s Patriot Porn and the Celebration of Psychopathy: Interview with Rania Khalek

Abby Martin interviews independent journalist, Rania Khalek, about the new film ‘American Sniper’ and why it’s such a controversial choice to receive a Best Picture Oscar nomination.’ (Breaking the Set)

How Guantanamo Became America’s Interrogation ‘Battle Lab’

Jason Leopold writes for VICE News:

‘[…] According to a new report, there was an ulterior motive for setting up Guantanamo: It was the ideal long-term interrogation facility, a “battle lab” where detainees would be subjected to untested interrogation methods and “exploited” for their intelligence value in what turned out to be a massive “experiment.”

The claims in the 66-page report, “Guantanamo: America’s Battle Lab,” prepared by Seton Hall Law School Center for Policy & Research and shared with VICE News, aren’t new. In 2009, the Senate Armed Services Committee released the findings of its investigation about the treatment of detainees in custody of the US military and reached similar conclusions.

But the Seton Hall study, co-authored by the university’s adjunct professor and senior research fellow Joseph Hickman, a former Guantanamo guard who challenged the military’s narrative surrounding the June 2006 deaths of three detainees – the government called them suicides, Hickman came to believe they were murders – makes a much stronger case. The report relies exclusively on internal government and military documents and statements public officials have made since Guantanamo opened 13 years ago to show how the detention facility “was covertly transformed into a secret interrogation base designed to foster intelligence’s curiosity on the effects of torture and the limits of the human spirit.”‘

READ MORE…

Obama’s State of the Union Double Speak

Execution In Saudi Arabia Leaked

A Shadow War in 150 Countries

Nick Turse writes for Tom Dispatch:

‘[…] During the fiscal year that ended on September 30, 2014, U.S. Special Operations forces (SOF) deployed to 133 countries – roughly 70% of the nations on the planet – according to Lieutenant Colonel Robert Bockholt, a public affairs officer with U.S. Special Operations Command (SOCOM). This capped a three-year span in which the country’s most elite forces were active in more than 150 different countries around the world, conducting missions ranging from kill/capture night raids to training exercises. And this year could be a record-breaker. Only a day before the failed raid that ended Luke Somers life – just 66 days into fiscal 2015 – America’s most elite troops had already set foot in 105 nations, approximately 80% of 2014’s total.

Despite its massive scale and scope, this secret global war across much of the planet is unknown to most Americans. Unlike the December debacle in Yemen, the vast majority of special ops missions remain completely in the shadows, hidden from external oversight or press scrutiny. In fact, aside from modest amounts of information disclosed through highly-selective coverage by military media, official White House leaks, SEALs with something to sell, and a few cherry-picked journalists reporting on cherry-picked opportunities, much of what America’s special operators do is never subjected to meaningful examination, which only increases the chances of unforeseen blowback and catastrophic consequences.’

READ MORE…

America’s Terrorism Fear Factory Rolls On

John Mueller writes for The National Interest:

‘[…] It is often assumed that, even without the FBI’s aid, a determined homegrown terrorist would eventually find someone else to supply him with his required weaponry. However, as Trevor Aaronson observes in his book, The Terror Factory, there has never “been a single would-be terrorist in the United States who has become operational through a chance meeting with someone able to provide the means for a terrorist attack.” Only the police and FBI have been able to supply that service.

In his book, James Risen skewers what he calls the “homeland security-industrial complex.” American leaders, he notes, “have learned that keeping the terrorist threat alive provides enormous political benefits” by allowing “incumbents to look tough,” lending them “the national attention and political glamor that comes with dealing with national security issues.” Thus “a decade of fear-mongering has brought power and wealth to those who have been the most skillful at hyping the terrorism threat” and “is central to the financial well-being of countless federal bureaucrats, contractors, subcontractors, consultant, analysis and pundits.”

In her review of Risen’s book in the New York Times, Louise Richardson lauds his criticism of “the profligacy of government agencies and the ‘over-sight free zone’ they operated” as well as of “self-appointed terrorism experts” who promote fear “while drawing lucrative consulting contracts for themselves.” She is troubled, however, that Risen “makes no mention of the press,” which she considers a key member of the terrorism industry and “at least as guilty as others in his book of stirring up public anxiety for public gain.”’

READ MORE…

US Commander: Afghan War Could Be Extended

Jason Ditz reports for Antiwar:

In an interview with the Army Times, US Commander in Afghanistan Gen. John Campbell suggested that the Afghan War, now 13+ years in, could be further extended in the next few months.

There are currently around 10,600 US troops in Afghanistan, more than was originally intended for 2015, but Campbell says that in the next few months he says he may have to ask to forestall planned drawdowns.’

READ MORE…