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Obama Administration Abuses National Security, Secrecy Powers

10:29 am in Uncategorized by joe shikspack

Would the US Government executive branch abuse its state secrets privilege, abuse the classification of documents, and use its ability to prevent a foreign national’s entry to the US to bar her access to the court system? Would it spend millions of taxpayer dollars on lawyers improperly?

The answer is unequivocally yes.

Eric_Holder perjury

Would top Obama administration officials practice deceit repeatedly in support of efforts to avoid admission of a simple error?

Absolutely.

Here is proof that the Obama administration at the highest levels cannot be trusted to fairly, prudently and honestly wield the powers they have arrogated unto themselves in the name of national security. Not only are they a pack of liars, they are people that lack the honor and decency to admit when they have made a simple mistake and apologize for it.

How Obama Officials Cried ‘Terrorism’ to Cover Up a Paperwork Error

After seven years of litigation, two trips to a federal appeals court and $3.8 million worth of lawyer time, the public has finally learned why a wheelchair-bound Stanford University scholar was cuffed, detained and denied a flight from San Francisco to Hawaii: FBI human error.

FBI agent Kevin Kelley was investigating Muslims in the San Francisco Bay Area in 2004 when he checked the wrong box on a terrorism form, erroneously placing Rahinah Ibrahim on the no-fly list.

What happened next was the real shame. Instead of admitting to the error, high-ranking President Barack Obama administration officials spent years covering it up. Attorney General Eric Holder, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, and a litany of other government officials claimed repeatedly that disclosing the reason Ibrahim was detained, or even acknowledging that she’d been placed on a watch list, would cause serious damage to the U.S. national security. Again and again they asserted the so-called ‘state secrets privilege’ to block the 48-year-old woman’s lawsuit, which sought only to clear her name.

Eric Holder declared to the court that the government would not claim national security privileges to conceal administrative errors or prevent embarrassment.

Holder should have been charged with perjury for his mendacity and the administration should be beyond embarrassed.

Due to the clerical error committed by the FBI agent, the plaintiff in this case, having recently had a hysterectomy and being wheelchair bound, was handcuffed, detained and denied her pain medications for hours. After she was released and returned to her home country, the administration barred her from returning to the US to attend her trial.

Most normal folks after discovering that they have by error caused someone pain, embarrassment and severe inconvenience would find apologizing for their error to be the right thing to do. Apparently the Obama administration is not peopled by normal folks.

The administration almost got away with it. The judge initially dismissed the case basis of the government’s claims. After a federal appeals court reinstated the suit, the judge learned what the government had been at pains to conceal. In a pretrial conference the judge said, “I feel that I have been had by the government.”

From the decision:

At long last, the government has conceded that plaintiff poses no threat to air safety or national security and should never have been placed on the no-fly list. She got there by human error within the FBI. This too is conceded. This was no minor human error but an error with palpable impact, leading to the humiliation, cuffing, and incarceration of an innocent and incapacitated air traveler. That it was human error may seem hard to accept — the FBI agent filled out the nomination form in a way exactly opposite from the instructions on the form, a bureaucratic analogy to a surgeon amputating the wrong digit — human error, yes, but of considerable consequence. Nonetheless, this order accepts the agent’s testimony.

The judge goes on in the ruling to describe some of the various abuses that the Obama administration engaged in to conceal the information from the public on realization that the petty error they had expended so much effort to conceal would be known to the court:

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Stoning vs. Droning

6:58 am in Uncategorized by joe shikspack

The other day a friend on Facebook sent me a link to a petition. These days, I seem to receive invitations to sign petitions all of the time. Sometimes I wonder if they really do any good and if the people who are the targets of influence in the petitions pay any attention at all to them, particularly when they urge them to do things that they have little interest in doing.

The petition that my friend sent me was particularly graphic and was certainly a worthy cause, a petition to stop barbaric violence against women in Pakistan in this case:

stoning v droning 1

Since I wouldn’t want to sign on to a bogus petition, I did some googling to find out if the story the petition reports was verifiable. It turns out that a reputable news source, The Independent, carried the story:

The punishment was death by stoning. The crime? Having a mobile phone

Two months ago, a young mother of two was stoned to death by her relatives on the order of a tribal court in Pakistan. Her crime: possession of a mobile phone.

Arifa Bibi’s uncle, cousins and others hurled stones and bricks at her until she died, according to media reports. She was buried in a desert far from her village. It’s unlikely anyone was arrested. Her case is not unique. Stoning is legal or practised in at least 15 countries or regions. And campaigners fear this barbaric form of execution may be on the rise, particularly in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iraq.

Women’s rights activists have launched an international campaign for a ban on stoning, which is mostly inflicted on women accused of adultery. They are using Twitter and other social media to put pressure on the United Nations Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon, to denounce the practice.

The petition that I was invited to sign is to be presented to President Barack Obama:

stop the stoning 2

Barack Obama is giving the Pakistani government $1.5 billion dollars in aid this year, not to mention probably spending many millions on drone bombings of non-combatant civilians.

Aid to Pakistan to Resume as Tension With U.S. Eases

WASHINGTON — The United States plans to give more than $1.5 billion in assistance to Pakistan for programs that had been blocked because of tension between the two nations over events including the Navy SEAL raid that killed Osama bin Laden inside Pakistan, American officials said Saturday.

While the petition is absolutely a worthy cause and Americans should certainly reach out and demand that their government cease supporting another government that gives sanction to a heinous, barbaric act of inhumanity like stoning, one has to wonder how the withdrawl of support would be seen by the populace of a country whose women and children our government is murdering with drones.

living under drones

Surely the action of cutting off support to compel Pakistan to stop the stonings would cause gales of angry laughter amongst tears of rage.

Further, considering that Mr. Obama seems to wish to continue his murderous drone campaign that has used tactics like signature strikes:

[T]hese attacks, known as “signature strikes,” drone operators fire on people whose identities they do not know based on evidence of suspicious behavior or other “signatures.” According to anonymously sourced media reports, such attacks on unidentified targets account for many, or even most, drone strikes.

and double tap dronings:

Between May 24 and July 23 2012, the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) was reported by multiple media sources to have carried out a number of controversial drone strikes in the FATA region of northwest Pakistan.

Across seven attacks, reports suggested the agency had deliberately targeted a mosque with worshippers inside; to have targeted funeral prayers for a victim of a previous strike; and on six occasions, to have deliberately targeted people going to rescue victims and retrieve the dead from the scene of an earlier attack – a tactic also known as a ‘double-tap’ strike.

that terrorize Pakistanis:

Drones hover twenty-four hours a day over communities in northwest Pakistan, striking homes, vehicles, and public spaces without warning. Their presence terrorizes men, women, and children, giving rise to anxiety and psychological trauma among civilian communities. Those living under drones have to face the constant worry that a deadly strike may be fired at any moment, and the knowledge that they are powerless to protect themselves. These fears have affected behavior. The US practice of striking one area multiple times, and evidence that it has killed rescuers, makes both community members and humanitarian workers afraid or unwilling to assist injured victims. Some community members shy away from gathering in groups, including important tribal dispute-resolution bodies, out of fear that they may attract the attention of drone operators. Some parents choose to keep their children home, and children injured or traumatized by strikes have dropped out of school. Waziris told our researchers that the strikes have undermined cultural and religious practices related to burial, and made family members afraid to attend funerals. In addition, families who lost loved ones or their homes in drone strikes now struggle to support themselves.

It seems likely that the Pakistani government would be far less accomodating of Mr. Obama’s drone strikes without the lubricant of billions of US dollars.

Taking a leap and assuming that such a campaign of sanctions against Pakistan would work, would Mr. Obama be willing to give up his barbaric drone campaign to stop violence against women?

My guess is probably not.

I think it’s a good idea to sign the petition. It would be an even better idea to drop Mr. Obama and your congresspeople a line and ask them to differentiate between the barbarity of stoning a woman to death for having a cellphone and killing a woman and two of her grandchildren with a hellfire missile for picking vegetables.

stoning vs. droning 2

The NSA – Hiding a Shadow Government Behind a Haystack, “To Keep Us Safe”

5:35 am in Uncategorized by joe shikspack

obama stasiThe enormous service that a certain whistleblower has provided to Americans and the world at large, is becoming clear even in the face of shrill cries of “traitor” and histrionic accusations of “aiding the enemy.”

That certain whistleblower (who will not be named, in hopes of avoiding comments about personalities rather than revelations) has shone a light on a shadow government, a set of parallel institutions that operate without democratic controls. It is a government-corporate warren of institutions that uses secrecy and the application of large amounts of cash to avoid democratic control by the people and has allied with corporate chieftains and hijacked large corporations, defying the “discipline of the market” and the democratic controls of shareholders and chartering states.

Some portion of these institutions have been described before; Dana Priest and William Arkin did ground-breaking work scouring the public record and describing the size and shape of the leviathan entity:

These are some of the findings of a two-year investigation by The Washington Post that discovered what amounts to an alternative geography of the United States, a Top Secret America hidden from public view and lacking in thorough oversight. After nine years of unprecedented spending and growth, the result is that the system put in place to keep the United States safe is so massive that its effectiveness is impossible to determine.

The investigation’s other findings include:

* Some 1,271 government organizations and 1,931 private companies work on programs related to counterterrorism, homeland security and intelligence in about 10,000 locations across the United States.

* An estimated 854,000 people, nearly 1.5 times as many people as live in Washington, D.C., hold top-secret security clearances.

* In Washington and the surrounding area, 33 building complexes for top-secret intelligence work are under construction or have been built since September 2001. Together they occupy the equivalent of almost three Pentagons or 22 U.S. Capitol buildings – about 17 million square feet of space.

* Many security and intelligence agencies do the same work, creating redundancy and waste. For example, 51 federal organizations and military commands, operating in 15 U.S. cities, track the flow of money to and from terrorist networks.

* Analysts who make sense of documents and conversations obtained by foreign and domestic spying share their judgment by publishing 50,000 intelligence reports each year – a volume so large that many are routinely ignored.

James Bamford did remarkable work describing the capabilities of some of these institutions and previous whistleblowers like William Binney and Thomas Drake have described what some of these institutions do. Binney and Drake, however, did not have documentary proof, the gold standard of credibility, which changes discussions marred with accusations of “conspiracy theories” to discussions about conspiracy reality:

One of the arguments about [redacted] that I’ve occasionally gotten caught up in is: What difference has he made? Has he really told us very much we didn’t know before?

In a broad sense, you can argue that he hasn’t. We knew (or certainly suspected) that NSA was collecting enormous streams of telephone metadata. We knew they were issuing subpoenas for data from companies like Google and Microsoft. We knew that Section 702 warrants were very broad. We knew that domestic data sometimes got inadvertently collected. We knew that massive amounts of foreign phone and email traffic were monitored.

As it happens, we’ve learned more than just this from the documents on [redacted's] four laptops. Still, even if you accept this argument in general terms—and I’ve made it myself—[redacted] still matters. It’s one thing to know about this stuff in broad strokes. It’s quite another to have specific, documented details. That’s what [redacted] has given us, and it makes a big difference in public debate. …

This is how change happens. The public gets hit over the head with something, lawmakers are forced to take notice, and maybe, just maybe, Congress holds oversight hearings and decides to change the law. There’s no guarantee that will happen this time, but it might. And regardless of how “new” [redacted's] revelations have been, we have him to thank for this.

A certain whistleblower has documentation. That documentation has already outed high government officials as (unindicted) perjurers and liars and impugned the veracity of information presented to the public on the NSA website and caused the NSA to hastily remove the misleading documents.

These high government officials have made a mockery of the President’s asssertion that his administration is being transparent and that we should have a national debate about these matters. One cannot seriously debate an issue when one side controls access to the facts and is economical with the truth, while at the same time introducing blatant falsehoods into the discussion. If the administration wanted to have a debate, and its behaviors indicate otherwise, it must stop acting in bad faith toward the American people.

Shadow Institutions

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