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Gender: Male
Current location: Potlandia
Member since: Fri Sep 28, 2007, 04:39 PM
Number of posts: 9,377

Journal Archives

Brandon Toy: US Wars, Dehumanization, and Me

This is an awesome read, a glimpse inside the head of whistleblower Brandon Toy
...so bookmark as needed, as it is a longish article.

US Wars, Dehumanization, and Me
Thursday, August 8, 2013 * Common Dreams * Brandon Toy

An Iraq veteran and five-year employee at private defense contracting corporation General Dynamics publicly resigned from the private defense contractor in late July in protest of the company's arming of US-led wars, declaring: "I have always believed that if every foot soldier threw down his rifle war would end. I hereby throw mine down."

Brandon Toy sent his resignation letter in an email to his immediate supervisors, coworkers, and the corporate chain of command, as well as to Common Dreams, who published the statement. The letter has since gone viral, racketing tens of thousands of views on social media sites. In his own words, Toy shares the story of his personal transformation, first as a veteran and then as an employee of a private defense contractor.

The Dehumanization of War

I arrived in Baghdad believing that Iraqis were simple people in need of having civilization thrust upon them, and that we were the enlightened civil ones who would show them the right way to live. To me, they were less than human.

One pivotal night three years ago, I bragged to my wife and cousins about a family I had terrified by pointing my rifle at them to get them to stop in traffic. I laughed about the way the father and mother had frantically waved their arms at me, begging not to be shot.


BREAKING: Obama promises completely "open & transparent" government!

"No More Secrecy!!"

Oh wait, this was in 2008. Never mind.

US Gov't Training: "Political dissent = a 'terrorist' security threat"

This is precisely why I feel this whole sorry assed "terrorist" meme is a well-engineered hoax
to implement a 1%er coup d'tat in broad daylight, using OUR tax dollars to enslave us under the
thumb of a draconian 100%-saturation Surveillance & Security State.

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Govt Training Game Marks Political Dissent as 'High Threat'
CyberAwareness Challenge prepares millions of federal employees for peer-policing of 'suspicious' coworkers
August 8, 2013 * Common Dreams * Lauren McCauley, staff writer

How does the government hope to spot the next Edward Snowden? And how can federal employees pitch in to spot the 'threat'? Thanks to a video game dubbed the "CyberAwareness Challenge" created by private contractor Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA), federal employees can be trained in the fine arts of password creation, social networking security and stealth peer-policing among coworkers.


The game, which is reportedly given to a "wide range of federal employees," takes new hires through a series of tests during which they are challenged to make the "secure" decision. In round three, participants are asked to assess the threat levels posed by their coworkers.

In one instance, the game warns federal workers that they should consider a hypothetical Indian-American woman named Hema a "high threat" because she frequently visits family abroad, has money troubles and "speaks openly of unhappiness with U.S. foreign policy."

In response to these 'indicators,' particularly the note regarding political dissatisfaction, Federation of American Scientists government secrecy expert Steve Aftergood told Huffington Post, "It is not a threat indicator. It could apply to most members of Congress, if not to most Americans. By presenting the matter this way, the slide suggests that overt dissent is a security concern. That is an error."


The game was produced in October 2012—one month before the Obama administration finalized its "Stasi-like" Insider Threat policy, revealed last month by McClatchy who reported at the time:

In an initiative aimed at rooting out future leakers and other security violators, President Barack Obama has ordered federal employees to report suspicious actions of their colleagues based on behavioral profiling techniques that are not scientifically proven to work, according to experts and government documents.

The techniques are a key pillar of the Insider Threat Program, an unprecedented government-wide crackdown under which millions of federal bureaucrats and contractors must watch out for “high-risk persons or behaviors” among co-workers. Those who fail to report them could face penalties, including criminal charges.


Greenwald to Reuters: "many more revelations on spying by the U.S. government" to come

I certainly hope that Greenwald knows how to stay safe, has good security
for himself, etc. and that he avoids driving highly computerized automobiles.
I wish him well in what he is doing.

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New U.S. spying revelations coming from Snowden leak: journalist
August 6, 2013 * Reuters * By Anthony Boadles

(Reuters) - Glenn Greenwald, the American journalist who published documents leaked by fugitive former U.S. intelligence contractor Edward Snowden, plans to make new revelations "within the next 10 days or so" on secret U.S. surveillance of the Internet.

"The articles we have published so far are a very small part of the revelations that ought to be published," Greenwald on Tuesday told a Brazilian congressional hearing that is investigating the U.S. internet surveillance in Brazil.

"There will certainly be many more revelations on spying by the U.S. government and how they are invading the communications of Brasil and Latin America," he said in Portuguese.

The Rio de Janeiro-based columnist for Britain's Guardian newspaper said he has recruited the help of experts to understand some of the 15,000 to 20,000 classified documents from the National Security Agency that Snowden passed him, some of which are "very long and complex and take time to read."

Greenwald told Reuters he does not believe the pro-transparency website WikiLeaks had obtained a package of documents from Snowden, and that only he and filmmaker Laura Poitras have complete archives of the leaked material.


Chicago 8, the movie <-- a must watch

I just watched this for the first time on Netflix last night and was completely
mesmerized. The movie is very well done, is based on the actual transcripts
of the trial, and manages to capture the ethos of the era reasonably well.

I was very "active" when this happened, but did not attend the 1968 Democratic
Convention, as I was still in shock and mourning for Robert Kennedy as I had
worked in two states for his campaign, only to see him gunned down in cold
blood by a "lone assassin".

This is well worth a watch entertainment-wise; but is also a good reminder
that the grim challenges we face today -- with dissent being brutally repressed
and criminalized -- are in fact nothing new. What's new is how the men behind
the curtain have concocted the "terrorist" meme to scare the public into accepting
wholesale loss of liberty, while they amass a gargantuan Surveillance & Security
State, complete with militarized police and 100% saturation surveillance (thanks
to advances in technology).

Juan Cole: Top 10 Things That Don’t Make Sense About NSA Surveillance, Drones and Al-Qaida

Top 10 Things That Don’t Make Sense About NSA Surveillance, Drones and Al-Qaida
Aug 6, 2013 * By Juan Cole * Truthdig dot com

In a Reuters Exclusive, John Shiffman and Kristina Cooke reveal that the National Security Agency shares information it gleans from warrantless surveillance of Americans with the Special Operation Division of the Drug Enforcement Agency, which then uses the metadata to develop cases against US citizens. The DEA then routinely lies to the judge and defense attorneys during discovery about how its agents initially came by their suspicions of wrongdoing. But you could imagine a situation where a young woman repeatedly called a boyfriend who was secretly known to the DEA to be a drug dealer, but whose crimes were unknown to her. And you could imagine law enforcement entrapping her into making a small drug buy. And then you could imagine their secretly basing their case against her in part on her phone calls to a known dealer. But this latter information would be denied to her defense attorney and the judge, making it harder to discern the entrapment.

All these stories about the government’s quest for Total Information Awareness about the phone calls, email, internet searches, etc. of 312 million ordinary Americans raise some questions in my mind. There are so many things about these stories that don’t make sense.

1. The government says that they need everyone’s phone records because they want to see who calls known overseas terrorists from the US. But if the NSA had a telephone number of a terrorist abroad and wanted to see if it was called from the US, why couldn’t it just ask the telephone company for the record of everyone who called it? It isn’t true that it would take too much time. It would be instant. Obviously, the government wants the telephone records of millions of Americans for some other reason.

2. If the real reason they are getting our phone records from the phone companies is to check for drug sales and other petty crime inside the US not related to terrorism, and if they are lying to judges about how they initially came to know of these crimes, aren’t the NSA, DEA and other government officials violating the Constitutional guarantee of due process? Are they focusing on drug buys because law enforcement can confiscate the property of drug dealers, whereas busting other kinds of crime actually costs time and money? And, hasn’t their dishonesty and its revelation just put in danger thousands of drug convictions?

For 3-10: http://www.truthdig.com/juan_cole/

Welcome to Post-Constitution America

Welcome to Post-Constitution America
What If Your Country Begins to Change and No One Notices?
Monday, August 5, 2013 * by Peter Van Buren * Common Dreams

On July 30, 1778, the Continental Congress created the first whistleblower protection law, stating “that it is the duty of all persons in the service of the United States to give the earliest information to Congress or other proper authority of any misconduct, frauds, or misdemeanors committed by any officers or persons in the service of these states.”

Two hundred thirty-five years later, on July 30, 2013, Bradley Manning was found guilty on 20 of the 22 charges for which he was prosecuted, specifically for “espionage” and for videos of war atrocities he released, but not for “aiding the enemy.”

Days after the verdict, with sentencing hearings in which Manning could receive 136 years of prison time ongoing, the pundits have had their say. The problem is that they missed the most chilling aspect of the Manning case: the way it ushered us, almost unnoticed, into post-Constitutional America.

The Weapons of War Come Home

Even before the Manning trial began, the emerging look of that new America was coming into view. In recent years, weapons, tactics, and techniques developed in Iraq and Afghanistan as well as in the war on terror have begun arriving in “the homeland.”


Members of Congress denied access to basic information about NSA

Members of Congress denied access to basic information about NSA
Documents provided by two House members demonstrate how they are blocked from exercising any oversight over domestic surveillance
By Glen Greenwald * The Guardian * Sunday 4 August 2013

Members of Congress have been repeatedly thwarted when attempting to learn basic information about the National Security Agency (NSA) and the secret FISA court which authorizes its activities, documents provided by two House members demonstrate.

From the beginning of the NSA controversy, the agency's defenders have insisted that Congress is aware of the disclosed programs and exercises robust supervision over them. "These programs are subject to congressional oversight and congressional reauthorization and congressional debate," President Obama said the day after the first story on NSA bulk collection of phone records was published in this space. "And if there are members of Congress who feel differently, then they should speak up."

But members of Congress, including those in Obama's party, have flatly denied knowing about them. On MSNBC on Wednesday night, Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Ct) was asked by host Chris Hayes: "How much are you learning about what the government that you are charged with overseeing and holding accountable is doing from the newspaper and how much of this do you know?" The Senator's reply:

The revelations about the magnitude, the scope and scale of these surveillances, the metadata and the invasive actions surveillance of social media Web sites were indeed revelations to me."

But it is not merely that members of Congress are unaware of the very existence of these programs, let alone their capabilities. Beyond that, members who seek out basic information - including about NSA programs they are required to vote on and FISA court (FISC) rulings on the legality of those programs - find that they are unable to obtain it.


Snowden: Vanguard of an American insurgency?

Snowden: Vanguard of an American insurgency?
By Rick Staggenborg, MD * OpEdNews * 8/2/2013

You would think that everything that could be said had been in the hundreds (thousands?) of blogs about Snowden and the NSA gas been said. However, I have not seen anyone who thinks that he is anything but a hero, an opportunist or a spy with an agenda. To me, the last comes closest to the truth. The difference between my theory and others I have read is that his agenda may not be the Machiavellian plot these conspiracy theorists assume it to be. Instead, it could be the best reason to hope that the firestorm Snowden ignited will actually shake things up in a way that no other whistleblower has.

Look at the facts: He was with the CIA much longer than with the NSA. He clearly went into the job as an NSA consultant with a plan to acquire as much critical data as he could, and he managed to collect an amazing amount of key information in a short time. To many (myself included), it seems clear that he is still working for the CIA, but what does that mean? The theories I have seen all assume that he is either working for a foreign power such as Israel, engaged in interagency rivalry to embarrass the NSA, working for Israel to embarrass the US government, or even representing the interests of remnants of the Third Reich or Soviet Empire. At one point, a blogger suggested confidently that Snowden had been given the assignment of frightening Americans with the idea that "the government will get you" if you dare to tell the truth, as if they hadn't already made the point with the witch hunt against whistleblowers that began during the Bush administration and that has mushroomed under Obama.

I think we can rule out the last one. Snowden has made a mockery of the US ability to capture one lone leaker despite extraordinary efforts. How did he do it? Did I mention he has friends in the CIA? It is important to recognize that the CIA as a whole does not work for the President to the extent that he challenges the corporate interest. If it did, Kennedy would have USSR and Cuba and we might not be facing the prospect of living through the creation of what could become a permanent fascist New World Order. However, those who pull the strings in the White House by virtue of their control of intelligence agencies and the military do not control every individual in either. If that were true, we would never have heard of Bradley Manning, Coleen Rowley, Sibel Edmonds, John Kiriakou and all the other whistleblowers who have risked their careers and even their lives to alert us to the dangers we face.

For each one of these brave men and women, there must be many others in the military and intelligence agencies who understand as they do that there is a difference between loyalty to the government and loyalty to the nation. Those who do surely recognize that blind obedience to the corrupt and out-of-control US government amounts to treason. How many are just waiting for a chance to make a difference, unwilling to sacrifice themselves until they believe they can? Perhaps there are cells within the CIA and other intelligence agencies of patriots who told Snowden what information to take, what to do with it and how to evade capture. If so, that is the best possible news that those of us struggling to expose what is going on behind our backs in an increasingly secretive government, one that is openly curtailing our civil liberties while conducting wars and proxy wars against nations that do not submit to domination by the international corporations that dictate US foreign policy.


State Dept. walks back Kerry remarks about "Drone wars ending very soon".

No, says State Dept., Drone Attacks in Pakistan Will Not Be Ending 'Very, Very Soon'
State Department backtracks following Kerry's comments on drone program
Friday, August 2, 2013 * Common Dreams * Jacob Chamberlain, staff writer

Following comments made by Secretary of State John Kerry Thursday, in which he said U.S. drone operations in Pakistan will end "very, very soon," the State Department immediately backtracked saying there is no time-line for such a plan.

Speaking at a press briefing following Kerry's comments made during a trip to Pakistan, Marie Harf—State Department Deputy Spokesperson—responded to questions over Kerry's comments by saying "there is no exact timeline to provide," and "Obviously, a lot of this is driven by the situation on the ground."

Pushing the issue further, one reporter posed: "Well, he says he hopes it’ll be very, very soon. Is there any reason to think that it will be very, very soon? Are you talking about ending it very, very soon?"

Harf responded without clarifying any foreseeable end point, insinuating that the drone program will continue until the U.S. believes it has defeated al-Qaida in the region:

...the Secretary was making the point that we have made, as we’ve talked about, significant progress against core al-Qaida in this region, and that we will continue to do so – that they are a shadow of what they once were, and I think he was reinforcing that point. But again, no timeline to provide right now.

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