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morningfog

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Member since: Thu Jan 12, 2012, 04:24 PM
Number of posts: 18,115

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Ordinary people outnumber targeted foreigners in NSA data

(Reuters) - The Washington Post said on Saturday a study of a large collection of communications intercepted by the U.S. National Security Agency showed that ordinary Internet users, including Americans, far outnumbered legally targeted foreigners caught in the surveillance.

"Nine of 10 account holders found in a large cache of intercepted conversations, which former NSA contractor Edward Snowden provided in full to The Post, were not the intended surveillance targets but were caught in a net the agency had cast for somebody else," the Post said.

Nearly half of the files "contained names, email addresses or other details that the NSA marked as belonging to U.S. citizens or residents," it said.

The paper said the files also contained discoveries of considerable intelligence value, including "fresh revelations about a secret overseas nuclear project, double-dealing by an ostensible ally, a military calamity that befell an unfriendly power, and the identities of aggressive intruders into U.S. computer networks."

Tracking the communications led to the capture of some terrorism suspects, including Umar Patek, a suspect in a 2002 bombing on the Indonesian island of Bali, it said.

Many other files were retained although, described as useless by analysts, they were about intimate issues such as love, illicit sexual relations, political and religious conversions and financial anxieties, the Post said.

http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/07/06/us-usa-security-nsa-idUSKBN0FB03D20140706

80 House Members Sign Letter to Obama: Seek Authorization Before Military Action in Iraq

"As you consider options for U.S. intervention, we write to urge respect for the constitutional requirements for using force abroad. The Constitution vests in Congress the power and responsibility to authorize offensive military action abroad. The use of military force in Iraq is something the Congress should fully debate and authorize. Members of Congress must consider all the facts and alternatives before we can determine whether military action would contribute to ending this most recent violence, create a climate for political stability, and protect civilians from greater harm."

Read the full letter and signatories at link: http://www.scribd.com/doc/232508209/house-letter-on-military-in-iraq#download

Joint Chiefs chairman won't rule out more U.S. military involvement in Iraq

The chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Martin Dempsey, left the door open Thursday to stepped-up U.S. military involvement in Iraq if ISIS militants pose a threat to the United States.

In response to a question about what the U.S. end game is in Iraq, Dempsey began by saying the U.S. military's current role is much different from it was during the Iraq war.

"Assessing and advising and enabling are very different words than attacking, defeating and disrupting," he said during a briefing at the Pentagon in Washington. "We may get to that point if our national interests drive us there, if (the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria) becomes such a threat to the homeland that the President of the United States, with our advice, decides that we have to take direct action. I am just suggesting to you that we are not there yet."

Dempsey also disputed the use of the term "mission creep" in Iraq.

"That's the wrong phrase. The issue is mission match," he said.

"We will match the resources we apply with the authorities and responsibilities that go with them based on the mission we undertake, and that is to be determined."


http://www.cnn.com/2014/07/03/world/meast/iraq-crisis/

Not mission creep, mind you. "Mission match," based on an as of yet undetermined mission.

US opposes independence referendum for Iraqi Kurds

The United States Thursday came out against a call by Iraq’s Kurdish leader for an independence referendum, saying the only way the country could repel Islamic State radicals would be to stay united.

Massud Barzani, leader of the autonomous region, earlier told parliament to make preparations for a “referendum on the right of self-determination.”

But the White House, which has been working behind the scenes to try to convince Iraq’s Sunni, Shiite and Kurdish leaders to form a unified government in Baghdad, gave the idea a cool reception.

“The fact is that we continue to believe that Iraq is stronger if it is united,” said White House spokesperson Josh Earnest.

http://www.updatednews.ca/2014/07/03/us-opposes-independence-referendum-for-iraqi-kurds/

Saudi Arabia deploys 30,000 soldiers to border with Iraq

(Reuters) - Saudi Arabia deployed 30,000 soldiers to its border with Iraq after Iraqi soldiers abandoned the area, Saudi-owned al-Arabiya television said on Thursday, but Baghdad denied this and said the frontier remained under its full control.

The world's top oil exporter, Saudi Arabia shares an 800-km (500-mile) border with Iraq, where Islamic State insurgents and other Sunni Muslim militant groups seized towns and cities in a lightning advance last month.

King Abdullah has ordered all necessary measures to protect the kingdom against potential "terrorist threats", state news agency SPA reported on Thursday.

http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/07/03/us-saudi-iraq-border-idUSKBN0F80IT20140703

U.S. discloses secret Somalia military presence, up to 120 troops

(Reuters) - U.S. military advisors have secretly operated in Somalia since around 2007 and Washington plans to deepen its security assistance to help the country fend off threats by Islamist militant group al Shabaab, U.S. officials said.

The comments are the first detailed public acknowledgement of a U.S. military presence in Somalia dating back since the U.S. administration of George W. Bush and add to other signs of a deepening U.S. commitment to Somalia's government, which the Obama administration recognized last year.

The deployments, consisting of up to 120 troops on the ground, go beyond the Pentagon's January announcement that it had sent a handful of advisors in October. That was seen at the time as the first assignment of U.S. troops to Somalia since 1993 when two U.S. helicopters were shot down and 18 American troops killed in the "Black Hawk Down" disaster.

The plans to further expand U.S. military assistance coincide with increasing efforts by the Somali government and African Union peacekeepers to counter a bloody seven-year insurgent campaign by the al Qaeda-linked al Shabaab to impose strict Islamic law inside Somalia.

http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/07/03/us-usa-somalia-idUSKBN0F72A820140703?feedType=RSS&feedName=topNews&utm_source=twitter

Why Solitary Confinement Is The Worst Kind Of Psychological Torture

There may be as many as 80,000 American prisoners currently locked-up in a SHU, or segregated housing unit. Solitary confinement in a SHU can cause irreversible psychological effects in as little as 15 days. Here's what social isolation does to your brain, and why it should be considered torture.

There's no universal definition for solitary confinement, but the United Nations describes it as any regime where an inmate is held in isolation from others, except guards, for at least 22 hours a day. Some jurisdictions allow prisoners out of their cells for one hour of solitary exercise each day. But meaningful contact with others is typically reduced to a bare minimum. Prisoners are also intentionally deprived of stimulus; available stimuli and the fleetingly rare social contacts are rarely chosen by the prisoners, and are are typically monotonous and inconsiderate of their needs.

As for the jail cell itself, it typically measures 6' x 10'. Nearly all scenarios for human contact, such as a guard, or medical and family visits, are done through a metal mesh, behind glass partitions, or in hand- and leg-cuffs.

* * *

Prisoners in low and medium security jails are often thrown in the SHU for "just" a few days. But in maximum security prisons, individuals in solitary are held on average for five years, and there are thousands of cases of prisoners who have been held in solitary confinement for decades. Some countries, including the United States, employ the use of Super Maximum Security Prisons, or "Supermax Prisons," in which solitary confinement is framed as a normal, rather than exceptional, practice for inmates.

Exact statistics are not known, but a 2011 study suggested that 20,000 to 25,000 prisoners in the United States are held in this way. Keim claims that that California holds some 4,500 inmates in solitary confinement, and that there are as many as 80,000 prisoners held in solitary across the United States — more than any other democratic nation.

http://io9.com/why-solitary-confinement-is-the-worst-kind-of-psycholog-1598543595

Yet another of our many national shames.

Iraqi Kurds to Vote on Independence

President of Iraq's Kurdish region, already largely autonomous, says the country is already partitioned

The partition of Iraq lurched closer to reality on Tuesday when the head of the country’s already quasi-autonomous Kurdish region publicly declared he would schedule a referendum on independence. Polls and previous votes indicate that the measure is certain to pass, leading, in all likelihood, to an independent Kurdistan on the northern and northeastern borders of Iraq.

“From now on, we won’t hide that that’s our goal,” Massoud Barzani, president of the Regional Kurdistan Government, told the BBC in an interview. “Iraq is effectively partitioned now. Are we supposed to stay in this tragic situation the country’s living? It’s not me who will decide on independence. It’s the people.”

The referendum will come in “a matter of months,” Barzani said. He said the Kurdistan parliament must first establish an independent electoral authority, then establish the date for the referendum that Barzani made clear will end with the creation of a state.

http://time.com/2945035/iraqi-kurds-to-vote-on-independence/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed:%20time/topstories%20%28TIME:%20Top%20Stories%29

I wonder how this will affect the US position that a "unity government" in Iraq must precede strikes. Will unity be redefined as just sunni and shia? Does this doom any possible sunni shia unity government, even?

Obama sends up to 200 more troops to Iraq (up to 775 for those scoring at home, plus heliocopters)

President Obama told Congress on Monday that he is deploying about 200 more troops to Iraq to bolster security at the U.S. Embassy and airport in Baghdad.

These and previously announced forces are being sent "for the purpose of protecting U.S. citizens and property, if necessary, and (are) equipped for combat," Obama said in a letter to Congress required under the U.S. War Powers Resolution.

Earlier this month, Obama announced the deployment of 275 troops to protect the embassy.

In addition to security, these troops will provide "intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance support," Obama said.

The president is also in the process of sending up to 300 military advisers to assist Iraq as it battles an invading army of jihadists that has taken over major cities and threatens the capital in Baghdad.

Obama said forces "will remain in Iraq until the security situation becomes such that it is no longer needed."

The U.S. is also sending helicopters and drones that can "bolster airfield and travel route security," Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said.

http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2014/06/30/obama-iraq-isil-us-war-powers-resolution/11801855/
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