‘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!)
- Blacklisted: The Secret Government Rulebook For Labeling You a Terrorist
- The Absurd Criteria Needed to Put You on a Terror Watchlist Will Shock You
- U.S. government agents ‘directly involved’ in most high-profile US terror plots
- NYPD detained men who had pressure cookers to ‘prepare rice’
- Government fails to vet chemical plants with terror risk
- U.S. government changes focus in War On Terror towards U.S. citizens
- Homeland Security adviser tweets America is ‘Islamic country’
- FBI Threatens Man’s Life for Refusing to Become Informant
- No-fly list used by FBI to coerce Muslims into informing, lawsuit claims
- NYPD Has Disbanded Its Most Notorious Spy Unit, but Is the Age of Muslim Surveillance Really Over?
‘You likely remember the failed underwear bomb aboard a 2009 flight to Detroit that sent Umar Abdulmutallab to prison for life. What you may not know: The plot seems to have failed thanks in part to lousy hygiene. In a panel discussion yesterday, TSA chief John Pistole said Abdulmutallab had been wearing his underwear bomb for more than two weeks, the Telegraph reports. (That was apparently to get used to it, Detroit’s WXYZ previously reported.) When asked whether the bomb’s fuse had become “damp” as a result, Pistole said, “Let’s say it was degraded,” as the audience chuckled. “We’re getting kind of personal now.”
Pistole agreed when his interviewer joked, “Thank goodness for poor hygiene, right?” The TSA chief also said there’s no timeframe for lifting new security measures at overseas airports, including a focus on phone and shoe bombs, reports Fox News. He also worried about the perimeters of some foreign airports being vulnerable to shoulder-fired missiles, though he didn’t go into specifics.’
‘Nearly all of the highest-profile domestic terrorism plots in the United States since 9/11 featured the “direct involvement” of government agents or informants, a new report says. Some of the controversial “sting” operations “were proposed or led by informants”, bordering on entrapment by law enforcement. Yet the courtroom obstacles to proving entrapment are significant, one of the reasons the stings persist.
The lengthy report, released on Monday by Human Rights Watch, raises questions about the US criminal justice system’s ability to respect civil rights and due process in post-9/11 terrorism cases. It portrays a system that features not just the sting operations but secret evidence, anonymous juries, extensive pretrial detentions and convictions significantly removed from actual plots. “In some cases the FBI may have created terrorists out of law-abiding individuals by suggesting the idea of taking terrorist action or encouraging the target to act,” the report alleges.’
- Terrorism Prosecutions Often An Illusion
- ‘Inventing Terrorists’ Study Offers Critical Examination of Government’s Use of Preemptive Prosecutions
- Most Terrorist Plots in the US Aren’t Invented by Al Qaeda, They’re Manufactured by the FBI
- How the FBI Uses Rapists and Child Molesters to Entrap Gullible People in Terror Stings
- Only 1 percent of “terrorists” caught by the FBI are real
- Terrorist Plots, Hatched by the F.B.I.
- Is the FBI Catching Terrorists, or Coaching Them?
- Manufactured Terror Threats: Interview with Trevor Aaronson
- Inside the FBI’s ‘Terror factory’: Interview with Trevor Aaronson
- The Terror Factory: Interview with Trevor Aaronson
- Fake terror plots, paid informants: the tactics of FBI ‘entrapment’ questioned
- CBS Report On FBI Foreknowledge of the 1993 World Trade Center Bombing
‘Inventing Terrorists’ Study Offers Critical Examination of Government’s Use of Preemptive Prosecutions
‘Nearly ninety-five percent of individuals on a Justice Department list of “terrorism and terrorism-related convictions” from 2001-2010 included some elements of preemptive prosecution, according to a study by attorneys which they say is the first to “directly examine and critique preemptive prosecution and its abuses.” The study is called “Inventing Terrorists: The Lawfare of Preemptive Prosecution” [PDF]. It was released by Project SALAM, which stands for Support and Legal Advocacy for Muslims, and the National Coalition to Protect Civil Freedoms (NCPCF), a coalition of groups that “oppose profiling, preemptive prosecution and prisoner abuse.”
While Mother Jones has already published extensive work on the entrapment and prosecution of “terrorists” since the 9/11 attacks examining the Justice Department’s list, this study is noteworthy because it advances the journalism to outline how the government has perverted the criminal justice system through practices that have become popular especially against Muslims. Stephen Downs and Kathy Manley, authors of the study, were defense attorneys for Yassin Aref, an imam of a mosque in Albany, New York, who was targeted for his “ideology.” The government deployed an agent provocateur, Shahed Hussain, to entrap the inman by accepting a “loan” that Hussain claimed consisted of funds from the sale of a missile to terrorists. So the authors produced the study with the experience of having defended someone who was a victim of this kind of prosecution.’
- Study: Inventing Terrorists: The Lawfare of Preemptive Prosecution
- ‘Inventing terrorists’: New study reveals FBI set up terrorism-related prosecutions
- The Terror Factory: Inside the FBI’s Manufactured War on Terrorism by Trevor Aaronson (Book)
- Only 1 percent of “terrorists” caught by the FBI are real
- Terrorist Plots, Hatched by the F.B.I.
- CBS Report On FBI Foreknowledge of the 1993 World Trade Center Bombing
- How FBI Entrapment Is Inventing ‘Terrorists’ – and Letting Bad Guys Off the Hook
- Fake terror plots, paid informants: the tactics of FBI ‘entrapment’ questioned
- Terrorists for the FBI: Inside the bureau’s secret network that surveils and entraps Americans
- Is the FBI Catching Terrorists, or Coaching Them?
Cook County prosecutors raised the specter of the Boston Marathon bombings in asking for hefty sentences for three alleged anarchists convicted of making crude Molotov cocktails in the lead-up to the 2012 NATO summit, but a judge ended up imposing more modest prison terms Friday that could result in their release in less than two years.
Judge Thaddeus Wilson took the middle ground, sentencing the so-called NATO 3 to between 5 and 8 years in prison, well below the 14 years sought by prosecutors but more than the time served wanted by the defense. Wilson perhaps best explained his rationale by saying that the out-of-town men hadn’t been as cunning as the Three Musketeers as portrayed by prosecutors or as bungling as the Three Stooges as the defense contended.
The three-week trial of Brian Church, Jared Chase and Brent Betterly marked the first test in Cook County of a state terrorism law enacted in the aftermath of the Sept. 11 attacks. In a blow for State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez, a jury in February acquitted all three of the more serious terrorism charges but convicted them of felony counts of possessing an incendiary device and misdemeanor mob action.
Members of a special panel examining the FBI’s counterterrorism efforts over the past decade say they will “push hard” for an answer to why the bureau has never revealed information about a human asset it reportedly had in direct contact with al Qaeda mastermind Osama bin Laden during the early 1990s.
Leaders of the panel, established by a congressional mandate in January, told lawmakers Wednesday that their work over the coming year will center on analyzing successes and failures of the FBI’s counterterrorism policies since the 2004 publication of the official 9/11 Commission report, along with recommendations.
As we noted here, Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan had blocked Twitter access to his nation ahead of what was rumored to be a “spectacular” leak before this weekend’s elections. Then this morning, amid a mad scramble, he reportedly (despite the nation’s court ruling the bans illegal) blocked YouTube access. However, by the magic of the interwebs, we have the ‘leaked’ clip and it is clear why he wanted it blocked/banned. As the rough translation explains, it purports to be a conversation between key Turkish military and political leaders discussing what appears to be a false flag attack to launch war with Syria.
Among the most damning sections:
Ahmet Davutolu: “Prime Minister said that in current conjuncture, this attack (on Suleiman Shah Tomb) must be seen as an opportunity for us.”
Hakan Fidan: “I’ll send 4 men from Syria, if that’s what it takes. I’ll make up a cause of war by ordering a missile attack on Turkey; we can also prepare an attack on Suleiman Shah Tomb if necessary.”
Feridun Sinirliolu: “Our national security has become a common, cheap domestic policy outfit.”
Ya?ar Güler: “It’s a direct cause of war. I mean, what’re going to do is a direct cause of war.”
- Turkey’s Insane False Flag Plot to Start a War with Syria
- Turkish officials heard plotting fake attack against their own country as an excuse to wage war on Syria
- Cenk Uygur: Turkey False Flag & Why The YouTube Ban In Turkey Will Fail
- Erdogan Moves To Ban Youtube After Recordings Talking About Turkey Attacking Syria Surface
- Turkey could block other social media if security threatened
- Turkish Finance Minister defends Twitter ban
- Twitter sues Turkey over service ban
- Close race for Istanbul’s mayoral seat
- Turkey Twitter ban is ‘a losing battle’, expert claims
- Turkish PM Erdogan says rivals will be crushed
- Turkey Shoots Down Syrian Warplane Along Border
- Turkey at the Crossroads
- Turkey’s Economic Mess In 5 Charts
- Food and fuel trump graft for Turkey’s local elections
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)