One of the many pressing stories that remains to be told from the Snowden archive is how western intelligence agencies are attempting to manipulate and control online discourse with extreme tactics of deception and reputation-destruction. It’s time to tell a chunk of that story, complete with the relevant documents.
Over the last several weeks, I worked with NBC News to publish a series of articles about “dirty trick” tactics used by GCHQ’s previously secret unit, JTRIG (Joint Threat Research Intelligence Group). These were based on four classified GCHQ documents presented to the NSA and the other three partners in the English-speaking “Five Eyes” alliance. Today, we at the Intercept are publishing another new JTRIG document, in full, entitled “The Art of Deception: Training for Online Covert Operations.”
By publishing these stories one by one, our NBC reporting highlighted some of the key, discrete revelations: the monitoring of YouTube and Blogger, the targeting of Anonymous with the very same DDoS attacks they accuse “hacktivists” of using, the use of “honey traps” (luring people into compromising situations using sex) and destructive viruses. But, here, I want to focus and elaborate on the overarching point revealed by all of these documents: namely, that these agencies are attempting to control, infiltrate, manipulate, and warp online discourse, and in doing so, are compromising the integrity of the internet itself.
Among the core self-identified purposes of JTRIG are two tactics: (1) to inject all sorts of false material onto the internet in order to destroy the reputation of its targets; and (2) to use social sciences and other techniques to manipulate online discourse and activism to generate outcomes it considers desirable. To see how extremist these programs are, just consider the tactics they boast of using to achieve those ends: “false flag operations” (posting material to the internet and falsely attributing it to someone else), fake victim blog posts (pretending to be a victim of the individual whose reputation they want to destroy), and posting “negative information” on various forums.
British spies have developed “dirty tricks” for use against nations, hackers, terror groups, suspected criminals and arms dealers that include releasing computer viruses, spying on journalists and diplomats, jamming phones and computers, and using sex to lure targets into “honey traps.”
Documents taken from the National Security Agency by Edward Snowden and exclusively obtained by NBC News describe techniques developed by a secret British spy unit called the Joint Threat Research and Intelligence Group (JTRIG) as part of a growing mission to go on offense and attack adversaries ranging from Iran to the hacktivists of Anonymous. According to the documents, which come from presentations prepped in 2010 and 2012 for NSA cyber spy conferences, the agency’s goal was to “destroy, deny, degrade [and] disrupt” enemies by “discrediting” them, planting misinformation and shutting down their communications.
Both PowerPoint presentations describe “Effects” campaigns that are broadly divided into two categories: cyber attacks and propaganda operations. The propaganda campaigns use deception, mass messaging and “pushing stories” via Twitter, Flickr, Facebook and YouTube. JTRIG also uses “false flag” operations, in which British agents carry out online actions that are designed to look like they were performed by one of Britain’s adversaries.
A prosecutor is standing by her decision to invoke a rarely used Illinois law to charge three protesters with terrorism in 2012 — days before NATO’s Chicago summit. After jurors acquitted them Friday of all terrorism charges, prosecutor Anita Alvarez said she had no regrets. She told reporters she’d file the same charges again without hesitation.
Brian Church, Jared Chase and Brent Betterly were accused of plotting Molotov cocktail attacks on President Obama’s campaign office and other targets. While acquitted of terrorism, they were convicted of lesser counts, including arson. They could still spend years in prison. But defense attorney Thomas Durkin says the terrorist-count acquittals was a blow for Illinois’ terrorism statute, passed after the 9/11 attacks. He calls the prosecution “a waste of state resources.”
An undercover Chicago police officer involved in targeting and arresting three young men on trial in the state of Illinois for terrorism and other felony conspiracy charges admitted on the witness stand that he was the only one to ever explicitly say anything about “terrorizing” the city during a NATO summit. Brian Jacob Church, Brent Betterly and Jared Chase, known as the “NATO 3,” traveled from Florida to Chicago for protests that were planned against the NATO summit in May 2012. They had previously organized with Occupy groups in Miami and Fort Lauderdale.
Two undercover cops from the Chicago police department’s intelligence unit, Officer Nadia Chikko and Officer Mehmet Uygun, became protesters and infiltrated the activist community that was preparing for demonstrations around the summit, particularly a large demonstration on May 18. The state alleges the three young men took beer bottles and filled them with each with gasoline, a quarter of the way, and filled them with cloths to make Molotov cocktails to throw at police. However, recorded conversations from wire devices Chikko and Uygun wore call that narrative of the alleged criminal act into question.
For months, authorities allege, a 58-year-old avionics technician named Terry Lee Loewen – driven by radical ideas and prepared to die in a suicide attack – moved forward with a plot to detonate explosives at Wichita Mid-Continent Airport.
The planned attack was designed to inflict the maximum number of deaths at an airport in the nation’s midsection before Christmas, says a detailed criminal complaint filed Friday.
The plot got as far as a gate to the airport shortly before 6 a.m. Friday, when authorities arrested Loewen without incident. What he didn’t know until his arrest is that the people he had been conspiring with all along were FBI agents, U.S. Attorney Barry Grissom announced Friday, stressing that the public and passengers were never in danger.
Lawyers for a west suburban teenager charged with a downtown bomb plot say he was caught in a “fake war on terror” contrived by U.S. spy agencies.
Each week it seems as though there is a new salvo of accusations by the legal team defending Hillside 19-year-old Adel Daoud. On Tuesday, a court filing by Daoud’s attorneys characterizes U.S. spy agencies as outlaw arms of the government that snagged the west suburban teenager in a dummied-up bomb plot. The nation’s intelligence gathering agencies, they believe, are operating in what amounts to a fourth, runaway, branch of government.
Daoud was arrested a little more than a year ago, according to authorities planning to detonate a car bomb at this downtown intersection that would take out a popular nearby bar–if it was real. But the so-called plot was a sting operation and the bomb operatives worked for the FBI.
In so many words, NSA director Keith Alexander admitted Wednesday that the Obama administration had issued misleading information about terror plots and their foiling to bolster support for the government’s vast surveillance apparatus.
During Wednesday’s hearing, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy pushed Alexander to admit that plot numbers had been fudged in a revealing interchange.
“There is no evidence that [bulk] phone records collection helped to thwart dozens or even several terrorist plots,” said Leahy. The Vermont Democrat then asked the NSA chief to admit that only 13 out of a previously cited 54 cases of foiled plots were genuinely the fruits of the government’s vast dragnet surveillance systems:
“These weren’t all plots, and they weren’t all foiled,” Leahy said, asking Alexander, “Would you agree with that, yes or no?”
“Yes,” replied Alexander.
Proof positive of what many of us have long posited: that under the flimsy guise of a targeted War on Terror, the surveillance state has established itself with little regard for an honest relationship with the American public.
Lawyers for a Virginia man serving a life sentence for supporting jihad against the United States pushed Friday to pry more information out of the federal government about the possibility that cleric Anwar Al-Awlaki may have been recruited as a government informant a decade ago.
During a federal court hearing in Alexandria, Va., U.S. District Court Judge Leonie Brinkema didn’t sound inclined to grant motions by former cancer researcher and Muslim scholar Ali Al-Timimi seeking more details on the government’s relationship with Al-Awlaki, as well as other facts Al-Timimi’s lawyers say were withheld prior to and during his 2005 trial on charges such as aiding the Taliban and soliciting treason.
Al-Timimi lawyer Jonathan Turley said Al-Awlaki, who was killed by a U.S. drone strike in Yemen in 2011, visited Al-Timimi at his home in October 2002 and “encouraged him to recruit….and actually raised issues of possible terrorist acts.” The defense lawyer said that recently-released FBI files suggest that Al-Awlaki may have been acting as an “asset” for some government agency when he returned to the U.S. from abroad just prior to his meeting with Al-Timimi.
There was an outstanding warrant for Al-Awlaki’s arrest on a fraud charge when he flew back into the U.S. in 2002, but he was admitted at JFK airport in New York after only a short delay.
However, prosecutor Gordon Kromberg insisted that the government turned over all information it was obligated to prior to Al-Timimi’s trial and had no duty to detail its dealings with Al-Awlaki.
- U.S. Government: Documents Pertaining to Awlaki Being an Asset on “An Agency” Payroll Are All Classified (BFP)
- Was US Born Cleric Anwar Al-Awlaki a Government Informant? (AP)
- FBI director does not deny al-Awlaki may have been government asset (Fox News)
- Qaeda-Linked Imam al-Awlaki dined at Pentagon just months after 9/11 (CBS)
- Interview with Lt.Col. Anthony Shaffer: Anwar al-Awlaki Was a triple agent, and an FBI asset before 9/11 (Infowars)
- Top official admits FBI had al-Awlaki in custody before letting him go in 2002 (Fox News)
- February-August 2000: 9/11 Hijackers Alhazmi and Almihdhar Have Closed-Door Meetings with Al-Qaeda Imam in San Diego (History Commons)
- Cleric says he was confidant to Fort Hood shooter Hasan (Washington Post)
- U.S.-born cleric linked to airline bombing plot (LA Times)
- U.S. Approves Targeted Killing of American Cleric (NY Times)
‘Exercise Vibrant Response’, was supervised by the U.S. Northern Command and led by U.S. Army North. It took place in Indiana and was in response to a simulated ‘nuclear terrorist attack’ in Columbus, Ohio with around 5,000 military personnel and 300 crisis actors. It concluded Friday, August 17th (SOURCE)
In North Dakota, local, state and federal entities took part in a simulation where terrorists stole radiation devices during the World Energy Forum. The drill took place at several locations and involved numerous agencies including the FBI, the North Dakota Highway Patrol, and the North Joint Operations Center. (SOURCE)
And in Austin, Texas a drill was conducted in response to a vague Department of Homeland Security terror alert. The Special Threat Advisory stated: ‘According to anonymous reporting, a group of trained terrorists are planning to conduct attacks in Austin, Texas and Pasadena, California at the conclusion of the Ramadan period.’ (SOURCE)
All this took place on the back of widespread terror theatre with embassy closures and rolling news coverage of an imminent but vague threat.
London’s Heathrow Airport has been placed on high alert by U.K. officials over fears that female suicide bombers might hide explosives in breast implants.
U.K. experts said there is evidence that al-Qaeda could go after flights out of London
These implants are special, officials added, because if they are injected with another liquid, it could cause an explosion capable of taking down a plane, according to a report from a British tabloid.
“There are genuine fears over this,” a Heathrow airport staff worker told the Daily Mirror tabloid. “We have been told to pay particular attention to females who may have concealed hidden explosives in their breasts.”
“This is particularly difficult for us to pick up but we are on a very high state of alert. It’s led to long queues here at Heathrow – much longer than usual at this time of the year,” the staff member added.
Another US drone strike hit Yemen’s Shabwa Province today, killing at least seven people who were described as “suspects.” It is the second strike in less than 24 hours, with a hit yesterday killing four others. It is also the fifth US strike in less than two weeks.
None of the slain were identified, but the US strikes are reportedly part of an effort to foil an al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) plot against Yemen, which the Yemeni government says is now completely foiled.
- Yemen: The first steps towards criminalising drone strikes, Obama take note (Al Jazeera)
- Obama administration authorized recent drone strikes in Yemen (Washington Post)
- Yemen’s Capital Militarizes as US Attention Focuses on AQAP (Antiwar)
- US Intervention Could Fuel Multiple Conflicts in Yemen (Antiwar)
- Militants shoot down helicopter in Yemen; 8 killed (AP)
[...] Had our leaders been on their game in those years — particularly after the 1993 attempt to bring down the World Trade Center in New York City and the 1998 bombings of U.S. embassies in Africa — Osama bin Laden might have been dead for much more than these last 27 months. As the 9/11 Commission memorably put it in 2004: well before 19 hijackers boarded airliners, “The system was blinking red.”
Evidently the system again is blinking red. We expect it to blink red again, often.
So stay vigilant with your own personal alerts, never forgetting the imperative so visible in Manhattan and other vulnerable locales: If you see something, say something.
As for wishing away the war on terror — for trusting that one side of such a conflict can declare it over — don’t fool yourself.
The Cold War, remember, lasted 44 years. And in the 22 years since relentless American resolve brought that conflict to an end, neither side is letting down its guard.
President Obama on Wednesday declared al Qaeda to be “on the way to defeat” despite the new threat from the group that was intercepted by intelligence agencies.
“Al Qaeda’s top ranks have been hammered,” Obama said during a speech at Camp Pendelton, Calif. “The core of al Qaeda in Afghanistan and Pakistan is on the way to defeat.”
[...] The president took a defiant tone on Wednesday, declaring the United States would not be held hostage by terrorists.
“Here’s what those who cowardly attack civilians do not get. The United States will never retreat from the world,” Obama said.
“We do not get terrorized. We’re going to keep standing up to our enemies [and] we’re going to keep standing up for the security of our citizens,” Obama told the nearly 3,000 Marines in attendance.
“The United States of America is going to remain the greatest force for freedom that the world has ever known,” he added.
- Obama on recent threats: ‘We don’t get terrorized’ (Politico)
- Al Qaeda Conference Call Intercepted by U.S. Officials Sparked Alerts (Daily Beast)
- White House Says Threat ‘Ongoing,’ Still Light on Details (Antiwar)
- Yemeni former bin Laden aide pledged to fight for generations (Reuters)
- Broad U.S. terror alert mystifies experts; ‘It’s crazy pants,’ one says (McClatchy)
- Get Ready for Endless Bogus Terror Alerts (Kurt Nimmo)
- Caustic Light on White House’s Reaction to a Terrorist Threat (NY Times)
- State Dept. on Yemen evacuation: It’s not an ‘evacuation,’ it’s a ‘reduction in staffing’ (Washington TImes)
- Dutch embassy in Yemen was potential terror target: Foreign Minister (Reuters)
[...] That the deployments span two distinct military commands covering the bulk of two continents reflects how little is known about the target, a fact underscored by White House statements saying that while they think the plot “emanates” from the Middle East it may extend well beyond that.
Which is a potentially huge problem about “preemptive” strikes, as they seem as likely as not to hit targets with little to no relation to the current plot, and with speculation that the would-be attackers are already deployed to wherever the target is, they may not actually preempt anything.
The lack of specificity coupled with the apparent scramble to prove that they’re doing “something” about it may even encourage the US to hit some potential targets in both theaters of operation just to prove they made an effort, even if those targets aren’t related to the current plot. But absent details, such strikes may create even more problems in the long run, and rather than preemptive really amount to instigatory strikes for other incidents to come.
- Suspected U.S. drone kills 4 in Yemen as U.S., Britain evacuate embassy staff (Globe and Mail)
- Speculation Over ‘Imminent’ Terror Plot Grows (Antiwar)
- White House mum on whether recent Al Qaeda threat extends to U.S. homeland (Politico)
- US overreacting to Al Qaeda terror threat? (Fox News)
- Embassy Closure Extended, But Are They Even the Target? (Antiwar)
- Yemen home to al-Qaida’s most active local franchise (Guardian)
The congressmen who take the most money from the military-industrial complex – I mean uber-hawks – like Lindsey Graham and Saxby Chambliss say that the new terror warning shows that NSA spying is needed, after all.
On the other hand, a variety of people – including former CIA agent Barry Eisler, and Guardian columnists Michael Cohen and Glenn Greenwald – say that the terror alerts are political theater to try to distract attention from the embarrassing leaks about out-of-control mass surveillance on Americans.
Initially, it doesn’t matter whether or not there is a real new terror threat because the government’s mass spying doesn’t keep us safe . In fact, it distracts energy and resources away from actual counter-terror measures which would actually help to protect us … and thus makes us more vulnerable to terror attacks.
Indeed, if the risk of terror is increasing again, it’s because the government has squandered its intelligence resources on political shenanigans – and on counter-productive anti-terror strategies – instead of focusing on keeping us safe.
(It may also have something to do with the fact that the U.S. government is directly supporting Al Qaeda and other terrorist groups in Syria and many other countries.)
Of course, terror warnings have long been used for political purposes. For example, FBI agents and CIA intelligence officials, a top constitutional and military law expert, Time magazine, the Washington Post and others have all said that U.S. government officials “were trying to create an atmosphere of fear in which the American people would give them more power”. Indeed, the former Secretary of Homeland Security Tom Ridge admitted that he was pressured to raise terror alerts to help Bush win reelection.
The threat from Al Qaeda – while real – has been greatly exaggerated. Former U.S. National Security Adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski – also a top foreign policy advisor to President Obama – told the Senate that the war on terror is a “a mythical historical narrative“. (And statistics arguably show that many terror attacks are actually carried out by non-Muslims.)
Is it entirely a coincidence that the current terror scare comes mere days after a new, widely-quoted Pew poll revealed that Americans are now more concerned about civil liberties than terrorism?
(And see this.)
And right after NSA boss Alexander was publicly booed and ridiculed?
It might be. But false threats have long been alleged to promote political agendas. For example, Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld made false claims exaggerating the threat posed by Russia’s weapons in the 1970s to justify huge increases in military spending.
And there is a mountain of evidence that government officials intentionally lied about Iraqi WMDs.
And most people don’t remember, but the government also tried to falsely blame the anthrax attacks on Iraq as a justification for war.
Other historical examples include:
- The U.S. Navy’s own historians now say that the sinking of the USS Maine — the justification for America’s entry into the Spanish-American War — was probably caused by an internal explosion of coal, rather than an attack by the Spanish.
- Two lies were used to justify the 1991 Gulf War: the statement that Iraqis murdered Kuwaiti babies and the statement that a quarter of a million Iraqi troops were massed on the border with Saudi Arabia (see also this article) (technically, the statement about Kuwaiti babies did not come from the U.S. government, but from a public relations firm hired by the government).
(That is also why governments from around the world have used false flag incidents for thousands of years to sell their people on whatever wars they wish to launch.)
In any event, it might be smart to take the claim that the new terror warnings justify NSA spying with a wee grain of salt.
Lawmakers used the government’s early warning of a terrorist threat to defend the National Security Agency’s controversial surveillance programs on Sunday, saying the threat — which some have described as among the most serious since 9/11 – might not have been detected without the government’s aggressive intelligence-gathering tools.
Sources tell CBS News senior investigative producer Pat Milton that intelligence officials learned about the threat, in part, as a result of “intercepts” of terrorist chatter that indicate that the operation is in “the final stages” and “it could be big.”
Skeptics of the government’s surveillance authority, however, said there’s no clear indication that the NSA programs under scrutiny contributed any information about the particulars of this plot, which compelled the State Department to issue a travel alert and close 22 embassies and consulates across the Middle East and North Africa on Sunday.
For some, though, the plot is proof-positive of the need to preserve the embattled surveillance programs. “The NSA program is proving its worth yet again,” declared Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., on CNN. The hawkish Republican said that al Qaeda is “on the rise” across the Middle East and North Africa, warning that America risks another 9/11 by disengaging.
- Greenwald: Embassy closings looks like a conspiracy to silence NSA debate (Raw Story)
- NSA defenders: embassy closures followed pre-9/11 levels of ‘chatter’ (Guardian)
- Surveillance Advocates See ‘Terror Threat’ as Another Secret Vindication (Antiwar)
- Peter King says talk of terror-threat conspiracy ‘absolutely crazy’ (Washington Post)
- Graham: Al Qaeda ‘on steroids’ since Benghazi attack (The Hill)
- U.S. extends closure of some embassies through August 10 (Reuters)
- Fake Washington Terror Threat (Stephen Lendman)
Obama Meets Security Advisors Over “Most Specific, Credible Terrorist Threat In Years”; US Forces On Alert
The time has come to remind Americans that “you can’t have 100-percent security and also have 100-percent privacy and zero inconvenience” or, in other words, why only the government can provide a veil of impenetrable protection, and why such things as personal privacy in an age of murderous Al Qaeda (the non-US funded variety, supposedly) terrorists lurking behind corners, are not only unnecessary but unpatriotic. According to CBS, the “terrorist threat prompting the U.S. government to close nearly two dozen embassies and consulates Sunday is the most specific, credible threat information in years” (even more credible than the Boston marathon bombers?) Specific but lacking the actual date, or timing, of an alleged “terrorist attack.” Information which, however, can not be shared with the general public for obvious reasons – just trust the government and ignore that spy drone peeking into your window to see if you are dutifully spending your daily quota of “confident consumer” fiat on Amazon.com.
See: the NSA can be used for more than just tracking down when Steve Cohen bought and sold shares of XYZ on inside information – it will be used to “disprove the negative” absence of a terrorist attack, and thus validate the billions of dollars spent to keep General Keith Alexander’s secret army in place.
For all those concerned why the US escalated the terror threat to “scramble like a headless chicken” here is CBS with more:
Intelligence officers have reporting from a reliable source that a major plot is under way and that the team to carry it out has been selected and is in place, Miller reports. The specificity ends there.
What authorities don’t have is the date, the timing or the target of the attack, which is why they have taken such an approach to warning potential targets, Miller reports.
The theater is so elaborate, even Obama stepped away from the golf course:
President Barack Obama’s top national security advisers held a meeting on Saturday to discuss “a potential threat occurring in or emanating from the Arabian Peninsula,” the White House said.
“This afternoon, National Security Advisor (Susan) Rice chaired a meeting with the Principals Committee to further review the situation and follow-up actions,” the White House said in a statement, referring to the advisers group.
“The president has received frequent briefings over the last week on all aspects of the potential threat and our preparedness measures,” it said.
Secretary of State John Kerry and Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel were among those who attended the meeting, the White House said.
David Anderson QC, the independent reviewer of terrorism laws, said extremists are not the only ones who “have an interest in magnifying the threat” and called for caution in keeping the danger realistic.
He said government, security officials and even industry have a vested interest in the seriousness of the terror treat and over-egging it can lead to “unnecessary fears and powers”.
In a wide-ranging annual report, Mr Anderson also warned that British jihadists are helping international terrorists become more dangerous by providing English language skills to spread their message and connect them with fanatics in the UK.
He said the terror threat in general is changing with the greatest danger now coming from “lone wolves” who plan less complicated, smaller but still deadly outrages.
[...] Mr Anderson said: “Terrorism swells the budgets of military, security, intelligence and police forces, universities, publishers and film studios.
“It provides the ideal reason – or excuse – for the introduction of repressive laws. It makes the careers of politicians, police officers, civil servants, academics, analysts, lawyers and demagogues.
“It sells security fences, armoured cars and CCTV cameras; and it attracts readers and viewers to the media, to the mutual benefit of the terrorist seeking publicity, the expert called upon to opine and the media seeking an audience.
“When so many people have a vested interest (whether they acknowledge it or not) in the seriousness of the threat, one must remain constantly open to the possibility that the threat is being exaggerated.
“The number of deaths caused by terrorism, in the United Kingdom and generally in the West, is small – indeed statistically almost insignificant.
“If perception becomes detached from reality, the consequence will be unnecessary fears, unnecessary powers and the allocation of excessive resources to the counter-terrorism machine.”
- CIA Agent Baer: ‘Al Qaeda Is Perfectly Capable Of Of Terrorist Attacks INSIDE The United States’ (CNN)
- Al Qaeda In Yemen Planning Attack On U.S. (CNN)
- Peter King: ‘Something BIG Is Being Planned?’ (CNN)
- British embassy in Yemen to close as ‘precaution’ (BBC)
- U.S. Government Officials Warning Al Qaeda MAY Soon Launch Terror Attacks (NHK)
A New York woman says her family’s interest in the purchase of pressure cookers and backpacks led to a home visit by six police investigators demanding information about her job, her husband’s ancestry and the preparation of quinoa.
Michele Catalano, who lives in Long Island, New York, said her web searches for pressure cookers, her husband’s hunt for backpacks and her “news junkie” son’s craving for information on the Boston bombings had combined somewhere in the internet ether to create a “perfect storm of terrorism profiling”.
Members of what she described as a “joint terrorism task force” descended on Catalano’s home on Wednesday.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Piece on the above incident begins around 9:50 in the video below.
Skeptical senators from both parties yesterday quizzed top intelligence officials about the NSA’s sweeping domestic call surveillance at a testy Senate Judiciary Committee hearing.
[...] Sen. Patrick Leahy, the committee’s chairman, accused the administration of exaggerating the program’s success. “If this program is not effective, it has to end. So far, I’m not convinced by what I’ve seen,” he said, noting that information provided to Congress didn’t back up the administration’s claim that the program foiled 54 terrorist plots, the Washington Post reports. Under questioning from Leahy, Deputy NSA Director John Inglis admitted that the phone-snooping had “made a contribution” in foiling 12 domestic plots, but had been the critical factor in just one.
The FBI’s search for would-be terrorists is so all-consuming that agents are willing to partner with the most heinous of criminals if they appear able to deliver targets. That’s what happened in Seattle, Washington, in the summer of 2011, when agents chose to put on the government payroll a convicted rapist and child molester.
The investigation began on June 3, 2011, when a man contacted the Seattle Police Department and told them that he had a friend named Abu Khalid Abdul-Latif who was interested in attacking Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Tacoma, Washington. The tipster told police that Abdul-Latif had already recruited an associate, a man named Walli Mujahidh. Seattle police referred the caller to the FBI, whose agents quickly enlisted him as an informant and launched a full investigation of Abdul-Latif and Mujahidh.
In the dozen years since the 9/11 attacks, we’ve watched as a classified new legal regime for government surveillance has been hashed out, local police forces have become heavily armed military-type units and a whole new layer of bureaucracy has hatched to provide us with an abundance of “homeland security.”
Proponents of this build-up argue that it’s made us safer. They point to hundreds of foiled plots to make their case. But Trevor Aaronson, author of The Terror Factory: Inside the FBI’s Manufactured War on Terrorism, dug into these supposedly dastardly plots and found that they are much less than meets the eye.
by ANDY MCSMITH
George Bush considered provoking a war with Saddam Hussein’s regime by flying a United States spyplane over Iraq bearing UN colours, enticing the Iraqis to take a shot at it, according to a leaked memo of a meeting between the US President and Tony Blair.
The two leaders were worried by the lack of hard evidence that Saddam Hussein had broken UN resolutions, though privately they were convinced that he had. According to the memorandum, Mr Bush said: “The US was thinking of flying U2 reconnaissance aircraft with fighter cover over Iraq, painted in UN colours. If Saddam fired on them, he would be in breach.”
He added: “It was also possible that a defector could be brought out who would give a public presentation about Saddam’s WMD, and there was also a small possibility that Saddam would be assassinated.” The memo damningly suggests the decision to invade Iraq had already been made when Mr Blair and the US President met in Washington on 31 January 2003 when the British Government was still working on obtaining a second UN resolution to legitimise the conflict.
The leaders discussed the prospects for a second resolution, but Mr Bush said: “The US would put its full weight behind efforts to get another resolution and would ‘twist arms’ and ‘even threaten’. But he had to say that if ultimately we failed, military action would follow anyway.” He added that he had a date, 10 March, pencilled in for the start of military action. The war actually began on 20 March.
by Dashiell Bennett
The Atlantic Wire
A new film claims the official government report on the crash of TWA Flight 800 in 1996 is an elaborate fabrication, but the most shocking part of the story is that charges are being leveled by some of the very investigators who put the report together. Six experts who appear in the film were members of the National Transportation Safety Board investigation team that concluded the crash was an accident, but they now claim they were silenced by their superiors. The movies, “TWA Flight 800″ will debut on EPIX TV next month, on the 17-year anniversary of the crash.
TWA Flight 800 was en route from JFK Airport in New York to Paris, France, when it exploded and crashed off the coast of Long Island, killing all 230 people on board. From the very beginning, there were some who speculated that the plane was the victim of a terrorist attack, leading the FBI to conduct its own criminal investigation. Among the possibilities that were suggested as the cause were a bomb in the cargo hold, or an anti-aircraft missile. Several witnesses even claimed they saw an object or streak of light that looked liked a missile or rocket moving toward the plane before it exploded.
The final NTSB reported said that faulty wiring connected to a central fuel tank caused a blast that destroyed the fuesalage, however, there were still many skeptics and conspiracy theorists who have long doubted that official story. In one particularly famous example, Pierre Salinger, a former Press Secretary for President John Kennedy and reporter for ABC News, claimed he’d seen proof that the U.S. Navy shot down the plane and then covered it up.
Now, those theories are likely to get a new airing, thanks to accident investigators who worked on the TWA 800 case, but say they were not allowed to speak up at the time of the official report. The experts include NTSB and TWA accident investigators, who say they are only able to speak up now that they are retired. According their statements in the film, they believe the official explanation is wrong and the damage was caused by an explosion that came from outside the plane.
The filmmakers won’t speculate on what could have caused such an explosion, and haven’t yet offered up evidence to support their theory (you’ll have to watch on July 17), but they are asking the NTSB to re-open the investigation. Whether or not that happens, or even if a follow-up reaches the same conclusions as the original, this new film will ensure that the alternate theories and claims up a cover will probably never be put to rest.
by MIKE LEVINE
A New York man who allegedly wanted to kill President Obama and apparently blamed him for the recent Boston bombings has been arrested for trying to build and detonate a weapon of mass destruction.
Glendon Scott Crawford, 49, of Galway, N.Y., spent months designing and constructing an X-ray system that would emit deadly amounts of radiation and could be detonated remotely, according to the FBI. Crawford recruited Eric J. Feight, 54, of Hudson, N.Y, to join in the plot, and both were arrested Tuesday, the FBI said.
Crawford and Feight allegedly planned to hide their weapon in a truck and FBI experts said it would have been “functional” and “lethal.”
According to the FBI, Crawford cited “a political figure” and a Muslim organization as “potential targets.” Sources familiar with the investigation identified the “political figure” as Obama.