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Israeli Barbarism: Terrorizing Palestinian Children, Prosecuting Them in Military Courts

École Palestine

On February 10, Defence of Children International Palestine (DCIP) headlined “Palestinian children victims of Israeli abuse designed to coerce confessions.”

Virtually always offenses weren’t committed or were too minor to matter. Guilt by accusation is official Israeli policy.

Palestinian children are treated as mercilessly as adults. Most troubling are brutal beatings, other forms of torture and prolonged isolation in solitary confinement.

On average for interrogation purposes is 15 days, said DCIP. For one child it was nearly twice as long.

“Between 2012 and 2014, Israeli military, police and security agents held 54 Palestinian children in solitary confinement for interrogation purposes prior to charging them with any offense,” DCIP explained.

Most abused children were between ages 12 and 17. The vast majority had to fend for themselves alone with no outside contacts.

Unlike Jews, Palestinian parents can’t accompany their children when interrogated.

“In 93 percent of cases, children were deprived of legal counsel, and rarely informed of their rights, particularly their right against self-incrimination,” said DCIP.

Children even younger than 12 arrive at interrogation centers shackled, blindfolded, and sleep-deprived.

Most experience physical abuse amounting to torture before, during and after interrogation.

“Almost all children confess regardless of guilt to stop further abuse,” said DCIP.

Often they’re forced to sign confessions in Hebrew they can’t read or understand.

According to DCIP’s Accountability Program director Ayed Abu Eqtaish:

“The Israeli military detention system subjects Palestinian children to several days of prolonged interrogation and isolation with the apparent goal of obtaining a confession at all costs.”

Israel is the only nation “automatically and systematically” prosecuting children in military courts with no due process or judicial fairness whatever.

Each year, as many as 700 Palestinian children endure horrific Israeli brutality. Most often they’re charged with stone-throwing – whether true or false, whether any damage or harm was done.

Military courts are used exclusively for Palestinians. Jews get civil justice. Palestinians get none, including young children.

DCIP denounced Israeli barbarism. It “demands (it) end night arrests, prohibit the use of solitary confinement, and ensure that evidence obtained by force or coercion during interrogations is excluded by the Israeli military courts.”

It explains Palestinians are systematically denied justice. Including brutalized young children. Some too young to understand what’s going on.

On December 31, DCIP asked ”(h)ow was 2014 for Palestinian children?” Like experiencing a wide-awake nightmare for many.

Israel’s summer war murdered hundreds of children. In some case infants or newborns. Many others were injured. Some maimed for life.

Brutalizing Palestinian children wasn’t during Protective Edge alone. They “pay the heaviest price for the ongoing military occupation,” said DCIP.

Systematic Israeli barbarism includes:

“(w)holesale violations of children’s rights across the Occupied Palestinian Territory led to numerous fatalities and injuries, as well as psychological trauma resulting from collective punishment policies that affected children, such as house raids and demolitions.”

Palestinian children don’t know each day if they’ll live, die, be arrested, stay free, or be subjected to various forms horrific Israeli persecution.

Extremist settlers are as violent as security forces. Children are attacked at home, in school, going to and from school or at play.

There’s no place to hide. They’re victimized by whatever savage treatment Israel decides to inflict. Accountability doesn’t exist.

Young Palestinian children can be brutally beaten or otherwise mistreated with impunity. They’re fair game for all forms of Israeli ruthlessness. With no recourse for justice.

In 2014, Israeli murdered at least 11 Palestinian children – using live ammunition just societies wouldn’t tolerate.

Israeli forces routinely use excessive force. Palestinian fatalities and injuries follow. Incidents occur regularly.

Israeli soldiers and police operate any way they wish with impunity. Despite military regulations prohibiting live ammunition use except in instances of mortal threats posed.

DCIP found no evidence suggesting murdered Palestinians threatened anyone at the time of their shootings.

Lawless collective punishment is longstanding Israeli policy. Young children suffer most of all.

Arabs are criminalized for not being Jews.Their lives and welfare don’t matter.

They’re fair game for whatever horrific treatment Israel decides to inflict. It bears repeating. They have no recourse for justice.

On February 19, the Palestine News Network (PNN) headlined “Child Prisoners in Israeli Jails Tortured by Electric Shocks & More.”

Citing new testimonies from tortured Palestinian children. Palestinian Detainees Committee attorney Hiba Masalha visited Palestinian children in HaSharon prison.

They’re subjected to incredibly savage treatment and brutality amounting to torture, he said.

Last November, 16-year-old Muhammed Zidani was detained. On January 19, he was sentenced to 16 months imprisonment.

He said he was electro-shocked to force him to confess despite his having committed no crime. Soldiers arrested him at 2AM.

They “overwhelm(ed)” his home, terrorized family members, “dragged him to the Mascoubiya detention center…”

Soldiers beat him savagely en route. He suffered painful bruises and contusions over large parts of his body.

During interrogation, he was forced to kneel, put his head between his legs blindfolded with his hands shackled from behind.

He was kept in this position for four hours. Interrogation lasted half a day. He got no food or water. Was denied bathroom privileges.

“(I)nvestigators beat him on the face and stomach,” he said. During one session, “a stick shaped machine” was put on his foot.

“(U)nbearabl(y) pain(ful) electro-shocking followed. Two more times to “pull confessions out of him.”

He screamed in pain. Israeli brutality continues until forced confessions are gotten.

Child prisoner Kathem Annous (aged 15) experienced horrific Israeli torture. Last November he was detained. He remains in HaSharom prison.

He was treated as brutally as Mohammed Zidani. One soldier beat him with an iron-soled shoe.

During interrogation, he was forced to kneel with his head toward a wall shackled from behind.

During hours of interrogation, he was “constantly beaten and slapped in the face. He was held at Mascoublya detention center for 12 days.

He was beaten en route to military court for a hearing. In a waiting room, his head was violently slammed against a wall for no reason whatever.

Hundreds of Palestinian children endure this type treatment annually. Some under age 10.

Fourteen-year prisoner Klaled Al-Sheikh remains in prison after 55 days on unsubstantiated stone-throwing charges with no parental contact allowed.

Whenever Palestinian children participate in peaceful demonstrations, they’re vulnerable to false charges like stone-throwing.

Khaled belongs with his family and friends at home and in school, not in prison. He’s anemic in need of medical treatment not provided.

He’s a 10th grade student guilty only of not being Jewish. He faces possible months in prison following hanging judge sentencing. So do other brutally treated Palestinian children.

“Child abuse in Israeli prisons is on the increase,” said PNN. Israeli ruthlessness considers young Palestinian children as fair game to abuse as adults. Racist regimes operate this way.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. His new book as editor and contributor is titled “Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III.” http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanIII.html Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network. It airs three times weekly: live on Sundays at 1PM Central time plus two prerecorded archived programs. 

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Netanyahu claims to know ‘details’ of Iran deal — and State Dep’t mocks him

Throwing down the gauntlet, Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu says that he knows the details of the proposed deal with Iran. On Wednesday, he had this to say, with Republican Senator David Perdue:

While Islamic State butchers the innocent, the Islamic Republic of Iran is relentlessly pursuing nuclear weapons with the express purpose of destroying Israel. The P5+1’s latest proposal won’t stop them. The Iranians of course know the details of that proposal, and Israel does too. So when we say that the current proposal would lead to a bad deal, a dangerous deal, we know what we’re talking about, Senator. I’m open to hearing the positions and arguments of those who think differently, and I would hope that they would be open to hear the arguments of Israel as well.

Perdue was just elected in Georgia; this is his first trip as a sitting senator. He’s been boning up on foreign policy:

“In my opinion the most dangerous thing to mankind’s future is a nuclear Iran.”

Yesterday, the State Department’s Jen Psaki was dismissive of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s claims to know about the deal:

PSAKI: So we’ve seen this movie before. There’s no deal yet. Obviously, if there’s a deal, we’ll be explaining the deal and explaining why and how it prevents Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon. And if that’s the case and we come to a deal, it’s hard to see how anyone wouldn’t see that’s to the benefit of the international community.

QUESTION: Well, except for Prime Minister Netanyahu, who says that he knows what’s in the proposal that’s on the table right now, knows what is likely to be approved if it is approved – if it is approved – and he still doesn’t like it and still thinks it’s a bad – it’s bad for Israel and a threat to Israel. So again, the question is: Is it —

MS. PSAKI: Then it sounds like he knows more than the negotiators, since there’s no deal yet.

QUESTION: Is it more important to get – for the Administration to get a deal with Iran than it is to have good relations with Israel and the prime minister?

MS. PSAKI: We think it’s important to get a good deal with Iran and with the P5+1, and that will not only make the United States safer; it will make Israel safer.

It would make the U.S. and Israel safer, State says. OK: so let Americans have that discussion.

NIAC ad in NYT

Speaking of making us safer, the National Iranian American Council has run a full-page ad in the New York Times challenging Benjamin Netanyahu’s claims to speak in the interests of Americans. “Who is our commander in chief?” Obama or Netanyahu? And the ad pillories Netanyahu for selling the Iraq war 13 years ago:

“If you take out Saddam, Saddam’s regime, I guarantee you that it will have enormous positive reverberations on the region.… the test and the great opportunity and challenge is not merely to effect the ouster of the regime, but also transform that society and thereby begin too the process of democratizing the Arab world.”

Trita Parsi of NIAC says Israel is trying to get Americans hurt in the Middle East:

“All doubt has been removed: Netanyahu will oppose any peaceful deal with Iran and will instead seek to blow up the diplomatic efforts of the United States and risk starting a war… Congress better take into account that if they buy what Netanyahu is selling, it will be American troops who pay the cost.”

Why isn’t Parsi on the cable shows? He says: “This certainly isn’t the first time we’ve stood up to Netanyahu. In 2011, NIAC ran a full page Washington Post ad telling the President we had his back against Bibi’s push for war with Iran. Today, we are proud to be on the right side of history as the U.S. and Iran are on the brink of a diplomatic agreement that can prevent war and benefit Americans and Iranians alike.

NIAC has announced a Day of Action before the speech to pressure lawmakers not to attend.

Netanyahu’s speech to Congress has compelled Rabbi David Teutsch of J Street’s rabbinic council to make “my first fully public statement criticizing a sitting Israeli government official.” Teutsch says that Netanyahu is “undermining the foundations of a land I love.” How? One way is by making support for Israel a partisan issue, and hurting the cause of sanctions on Iran:

Netanyahu’s decision to accept Republican leaders’ invitation to address Congress has dealt a major blow to the long-time United States-Israel alliance, in which partisan politics have until now been kept at bay. Netanyahu’s upcoming speech demonstrates that Netanyahu is siding with conservative Republicans and evangelical Christians who support his vision of a greater Israel rather than land-for-peace. Taking the Republican side is an attack on President Obama and the Democratic Party. Netanyahu’s official reason is that he wants to speak out on Iran. The irony is that in taking this route, he has disrupted a carefully shaped campaign by American Jewish leaders and others committed to containing Iran’s nuclear ambitions that would have probably resulted in sanctions being passed by Congress had he not thrown this monkey wrench into the works.

Notice that even a J Street rabbi was working toward a congressional effort to impose greater sanctions on Iran. The neocons of J Street.

Oh and James Fallows has a very good piece up at The Atlantic taking apart the Israeli claim that Iran represents an “existential” threat, and that it’s 1938 all over again.

Is there a state that faces a specific existential threat right now? Yes again. That state is South Korea.

South Korea has no nuclear weapons of its own, though the U.S. has extended its “nuclear umbrella.” Its immediate neighbor, North Korea, does have nukes, which it tested and developed while the U.S. was distracted in Iraq. North Korea’s leaders are peculiar, to put it mildly, and have repeatedly promised / threatened to destroy South Korea in a “sea of fire” in rhetoric as blood-curdling as any anti-Israel rant from Iran. South Korea’s population center is practically on the border with the North, rather than several time zones away as with Iran relative to Israel…

Is Israel’s situation comparable to that on the Korean peninsula—or, to use the more familiar parallel, to that of European Jews menaced by Hitler in 1938? It most emphatically is not, if you pay any attention to the underlying facts.

The most obvious difference is that Israel is the incumbent (if unacknowledged) nuclear power in the region, with the universally understood ability to annihilate any attacker in a retaliatory raid.

And Wolf Blitzer of CNN seems to want the Israelis to cancel the speech. He said CNN would be covering the speech live on March 3– assuming it happens; unless the Israelis make some decisions, he just said now.

Hillary Clinton Exposed

Screen Shot 2015-02-20 at 1.43.43 PM

That approach, which Mrs. Clinton called “economic statecraft,” emerged in discussions with Robert Hormats, a former Goldman Sachs Group Inc. investment banker who has worked in Democratic and Republican administrations and became an undersecretary of state. “One of the very first items was, how do we strengthen the role of the State Department in economic policy?” he says.

Early in Mrs. Clinton’s tenure, according to Mr. Hormats, Microsoft’s then Chief Research Officer Craig Mundie asked the State Department to send a ranking official to a fourth annual meeting of U.S. software executives and Chinese government officials about piracy and Internet freedom. Mr. Hormats joined the December 2009 meeting in Beijing.

Mr. Hormats says there was no relation between Microsoft’s donations and the State Department’s participation in the China conference.

Before every overseas trip, says Mr. Hormats, the former undersecretary of state, he helped prepare a list of U.S. corporate interests for Mrs. Clinton to advocate while abroad. 

– From the Wall Street Journal article: Hillary Clinton’s Complex Corporate Ties

If you can’t beat em, mock em. That’s essentially my motto going into the imperial spectacle known as the 2016 American Presidential election. With another Bush and another Clinton likely on the ballot, there’s basically only one candidate running, and I plan on proving this in no uncertain terms over the next couple of years.

Recently, I started a series known as “Jeb Bush Exposed” (read part 1and part 2), so it’s only fair that I create a similar category for Hillary. Going forward, I plan on naming all future exposes on these two cronies in that manner, so all the stories are easily accessible as we head into next year’s charade.

Hillary Clinton’s biggest weakness is that she doesn’t actually stand for anything other than money and power. Glenn Greenwald pointed this out perfectly in last year’s post: Glenn Greenwald on Hillary Clinton: “Soulless, Principle-Free, Power Hungry…” Here’s an excerpt:

Hillary is banal, corrupted, drained of vibrancy and passion. I mean, she’s been around forever, the Clinton circle. She’s a fucking hawk and like a neocon, practically. She’s surrounded by all these sleazy money types who are just corrupting everything everywhere. But she’s going to be the first female president, and women in America are going to be completely invested in her candidacy. Opposition to her is going to be depicted as misogynistic, like opposition to Obama has been depicted as racist. It’s going to be this completely symbolic messaging that’s going to overshadow the fact that she’ll do nothing but continue everything in pursuit of her own power. They’ll probably have a gay person after Hillary who’s just going to do the same thing.

In light of Hillary not harboring any genuine principles, she needs to fall back on the tainted and phony Democratic brand of “standing up for the little guy.” The only problem is that Hillary Clinton might be the most connected human being alive in America to large mega-corporations.

As you will see from the following Wall Street Journal article, she spent much of her time as Secretary of State lobbying overseas for the economic interests of behemoth corporations from ExxonMobil to Boeing; and from GE to Wal-Mart. All of this masterminded by former Goldman Sachs chairman, Robert Hormats. Coincidentally, these corporations turned around and gave very generously to the Clinton Global Initiative.

From the WSJ:

Among recent secretaries of state, Hillary Clinton was one of the most aggressive global cheerleaders for American companies, pushing governments to sign deals and change policies to the advantage of corporate giants such as General Electric Co. , Exxon Mobil Corp., Microsoft Corp. and Boeing Co.

At the same time, those companies were among the many that gave to the Clinton family’s global foundation set up by her husband, former President Bill Clinton. At least 60 companies that lobbied the State Department during her tenure donated a total of more than $26 million to the Clinton Foundation, according to a Wall Street Journal analysis of public and foundation disclosures.

As Mrs. Clinton prepares to embark on a race for the presidency, she has a web of connections to big corporations unique in American politics—ties forged both as secretary of state and by her family’s charitable interests. Those relationships are emerging as an issue for Mrs. Clinton’s expected presidential campaign as income disparity and other populist themes gain early attention.

Mrs. Clinton’s connections to the companies don’t end there. As secretary of state, she created 15 public-private partnerships coordinated by the State Department, and at least 25 companies contributed to those partnerships. She also sought corporate donations for another charity she co-founded, a nonprofit women’s group called Vital Voices. 

The foundation resumed soliciting foreign governments after Mrs. Clinton left the State Department. The official name of the foundation was changed to the Bill, Hillary & Chelsea Clinton Foundation. Mrs. Clinton became a director. All told, the Clinton Foundation and its affiliates have collected donations and pledges from all sources of more than $1.6 billion, according to their tax returns. On Thursday, the foundation said that if Mrs. Clinton runs for president, it would consider whether to continue accepting foreign-government contributions as part of an internal policy review.

Foundation spokesman Craig Minassian says the group’s work helps millions around the world and its donors have a history of supporting such work. “So when companies get involved with the Clinton Foundation it’s for only one reason, because they know our work matters,” he says.

That approach, which Mrs. Clinton called “economic statecraft,” emerged in discussions with Robert Hormats, a former Goldman Sachs Group Inc. investment banker who has worked in Democratic and Republican administrations and became an undersecretary of state. “One of the very first items was, how do we strengthen the role of the State Department in economic policy?” he says.

Naturally, a Goldman guy is closely involved.

Early in Mrs. Clinton’s tenure, according to Mr. Hormats, Microsoft’s then Chief Research Officer Craig Mundie asked the State Department to send a ranking official to a fourth annual meeting of U.S. software executives and Chinese government officials about piracy and Internet freedom. Mr. Hormats joined the December 2009 meeting in Beijing.

Mr. Hormats says there was no relation between Microsoft’s donations and the State Department’s participation in the China conference.

Of course not. Move along serfs.

In 2012, the Clinton Foundation approached GE about working together to expand a health-access initiative the company had launched four years earlier, says a GE spokeswoman. 

That same year, Mrs. Clinton lobbied for GE to be selected by the Algerian government to build power plants in that country. She went to Algiers that October and met with President Abdelaziz Bouteflika. “I saw an opportunity for advancing prosperity in Algeria and seizing an opportunity for American business,” she explained in her book. 

A month after Mrs. Clinton’s trip, the Clinton Foundation announced the health-initiative partnership with GE, the company’s first involvement with the foundation. GE eventually contributed between $500,000 and $1 million to the partnership.

The following September, GE won the contracts with the Algerian government, saying they marked “some of its largest power agreements in company history.”

Ben Schreiber of the environmental group Friends of the Earth says: “We’ve long been concerned about the ties that Hillary Clinton has to the oil-and-gas industry.” 

Both Exxon and Chevron are supporters of the Clinton Foundation. Chevron donated $250,000 in 2013. A Chevron spokesman said the Clinton charity “is one of many programs and partnerships that the company has had or maintains across a number of issue areas and topics pertinent to our business.”In October 2009, Mrs. Clinton went to bat for aerospace giant 

Boeing, which was seeking to sell jets to Russia, by flying to Moscow to visit the Boeing Design Center. “I made the case that Boeing’s jets set the global gold standard, and, after I left, our embassy kept at it,” she wrote in her book.

About seven months later, in June 2010, Russia agreed to purchase 50 Boeing 737s for $3.7 billion, choosing Boeing over Europe’s Airbus Group NV.

Two months later, Boeing made its first donation to the Clinton Foundation—$900,000 to help rebuild Haiti’s public-education system. Overall, Boeing has contributed around $1.1 million to the Clinton Foundation since 2010. 

Before every overseas trip, says Mr. Hormats, the former undersecretary of state, he helped prepare a list of U.S. corporate interests for Mrs. Clinton to advocate while abroad. 

During Mrs. Clinton’s three trips to India, she urged the government tokill a ban on stores that sell multiple brands, a law aimed at department stores or big-box retailers such as Wal-Mart Stores Inc.

Just keep all that  in mind when she absurdly and inevitably attempts to play the populist card.

For related articles, see:

The Most Horrifying Music Video You’ll Ever See – A Country Song Dedicated to Hillary Clinton

This is Why Rand Paul is Hillary Clinton’s Worst Nightmare

Glenn Greenwald on Hillary Clinton: “Soulless, Principle-Free, Power Hungry…”

How the Washington D.C. Money Machine Stopped a Documentary on Hillary Clinton

Jeb Bush to Present the “Liberty Medal” to Hillary Clinton

In Liberty,
Michael Krieger

State Terrorists Infiltrating Billions of Cell Phones

NSA and GCHQ told to stop pretending that law doesn’t apply to them after revelations that they gained access to Dutch manufacturer Gemalto’s encryption keys

An exterior view of the building housing the head office of Gemalto in Amsterdam, Netherlands.
An exterior view of the building housing the head office of Gemalto in Amsterdam, Netherlands. Photograph: Peter Dejong/AP

The National Security Agency (NSA) and its British equivalent, GCHQ, hacked into Gemalto, a Netherlands sim card manufacturer, stealing encryption keys that allowed them to secretly monitor voice calls and data, according to documents newly released by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden.

The breach, revealed in documents provided to the Intercept, gave the agencies the power to secretly monitor a large portion of the world’s cellular communications, which experts said violated international laws.

Rachel Logan, Amnesty UK’s legal director, said: “This mass sim hacking allegation seems be just the latest disturbing revelation about how GCHQ has overreached. These spooks must stop pretending the law doesn’t apply to them.

“We keep seeing the intelligence agencies claiming everything’s fine and then being caught out when challenged in court.”

Mark Rumold, staff attorney at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, said there was no doubt that the spy agencies had violated Dutch law and were in all probability violating laws in many other territories when they used the hacked keys.

“They have the functional equivalent of our house keys,” he said. “That has serious implications for privacy not just here in the US but internationally.”

NSA HQ
The NSA campus in Fort Meade, Maryland. Photograph: Patrick Semansky/AP

The scale of the hack and its international reach is likely to reopen wounds in the diplomatic community. The Obama administration faced intense criticism from Germany, Brazil and other nations following the Snowden leaks and has been working hard recently to repair the damage.

Previous documents disclosed by the Guardian showed Angela Merkel, the German chancellor, was the target of an NSA spying campaign, a revelation that has soured US-German relations. Brazil’s president Dilma Rousseff has already accused the NSA of violating international law.

“It’s a big breach,” Matthew Green, a cryptologist at the Johns Hopkins Information Security Institute, told the Guardian. “The problem is that the attacks could still be ongoing.”

The World Wide Web Foundation, founded by web inventor Tim Berners-Lee, said the hack was “another worrying sign that these agencies think they are above the law”.

Gemalto, the company targeted by the spy agencies, produces 2bn sim cards per year for clients including AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile and Verizon. The Netherlandscompany operates in 85 countries around the world and provides cards to some 450 wireless network providers globally.

The stolen encryption keys would allow intelligence agencies to monitor mobile communications without the approval or knowledge of telecoms companies and foreign governments.

Chris Soghoian, principal technologist at the American Civil Liberties Union, told the Guardian the hack would allow spies to “put an aerial up on the embassy in Berlin and listen in to anyone’s calls in the area”.

Calls made on 3G and 4G mobile networks are encrypted. But with the keys, which a GCHQ slide described as living “in the phone”, spies could access any communication made on a device unless its owner uses an extra layer of encryption.

Emma Carr, director of Big Brother Watch, said: “These actions completely undermine the UK’s moral authority when talking about the importance of freedom of the internet and the discouragement of state-sponsored cyber-attacks.

“Failures to properly address these allegations makes a mockery of the trust that the public is supposed to have in both the government and the spy agencies.

Worst Spying In World History – Worse Than Any Dystopian Novel – Is Occurring RIGHT NOW

NSA Spying Worse than Stasi or Nazi Germany, J. Edgar Hoover … Or Orwell’s 1984

We noted in 2012 that Americans are the most spied upon people in world history.

Top NSA officials previously said that we’ve got a “police state” … like J. Edgar Hoover – or the Stasi – on “super steroids”.

Spying by the NSA is also worse than in Nazi German:

The tyrants in Nazi Germany, Stalinist Russia and Stasi Eastern Europe would have liked to easedrop on every communication and every transaction of every citizen.  But in the world before the internet, smart phones, electronic medical records and digital credit card transactions, much of what happened behind closed doors remained private.

Indeed, a former lieutenant colonel for the East German Stasi said the NSA’s spy capabilities would have been “a dream come true” for the Stasi.

NSA contractor Edward Snowden said in 2013 that NSA spying was worse than in Orwell’s book 1984.

We noted at the time that the NSA is spying on us through our computers, phones, cars, buses, streetlights, at airports and on the street, via mobile scanners and drones, through our smart meters, and in many other ways.

And we learned that same year that the NSA is laughing at all of us for carrying powerful spying devicesaround in our pockets. And see this.

A security expert said the same year:

We have to assume that the NSA has EVERYONE who uses electronic communications under CONSTANT surveillance.

What’s happened since these statements were made?  Spying has only gotten worse. The government is doing everything it can to completely destroy privacy.

Postscript:  Nothing has changed … and it will keep on getting worse and worse unless we the people stand up for our rights against those who want to take our freedom away.

What Was the CIA Really Doing with Merlin by 2003?

On June 26, 2003, CIA posted nuclear blueprints written in English on its website, claiming they were Iraqi.

Bloomberg is reporting that the exhibits released in the Jeffrey Sterling case may lead the UN to reassess some of the evidence they’ve been handed about Iran’s alleged nuclear weapons program.

International Atomic Energy Agency inspectors in Vienna will probably review intelligence they received about Iran as a result of the revelations, said the two diplomats who are familiar with the IAEA’s Iran file and asked not to be named because the details are confidential. The CIA passed doctored blueprints for nuclear-weapon components to Iran in February 2000, trial documents have shown.

“This story suggests a possibility that hostile intelligence agencies could decide to plant a ‘smoking gun’ in Iran for the IAEA to find,” said Peter Jenkins, the U.K.’s former envoy to the Vienna-based agency. “That looks like a big problem.”

Importantly, this story comes from two IAEA officials who are familiar with the evidence against Iran, and therefore would know if aspects of the Merlin caper resemble things they’ve been handed by the CIA, almost certainly including the Laptop of Deathlaundered through MEK to the CIA in 2004.

You’ll recall that immediately upon hearing some of the sketchy details of the Merlin caper I thought of the Laptop of Death and a dubious tale, told by Iraqi nuclear scientist Mahdi Obeidi, involving the blueprints posted above. And I’ve only got more questions about the operation given what we learned since that day.

Here are some of those questions.

  • Why did CIA immediately turn to dealing Iraq nuclear blueprints after such a clusterfuck on Merlin’s first operation — and why wasn’t Sterling involved?
  • Why did both Bob S and Merlin tell the FBI in 2006 that Sterling was just a marginal player in the operation?
  • Did the program get more sensitive over time?
  • Why is the government claiming this part of James Risen’s State of War is as sensitive than his exposure of a massive illegal wiretap program?
  • Did the kind of deception involved change?
  • What was CIA intending with its Iran approach in 2003, and what really happened with it?
  • Why explains the weird reception for Jeffrey Sterling’s complaint at the Senate Intelligence Committee?
  • Why was Bill Duhnke the top suspect?

Why did CIA immediately turn to dealing Iraq nuclear blueprints after such a clusterfuck on Merlin’s first operation — and why wasn’t Sterling involved?

As I have laid out, less than a month after Bob S deemed Merlin unable “to follow even the simplest and most explicit direction” (Exhibit 44), he and one other case officer who was apparently not Jeffrey Sterling (though Sterling was still nominally Merlin’s handler) approached Merlin about repeating the operation with another country (Exhibit 45). David Swanson has compellingly shown that that country was almost certainly Iraq. That operation, however, would be “rather more adventurous” than the Iranian op that Merlin had already proven so inadequate to.

I think it possible they bypassed Sterling because his Equal Opportunity complaints had already so soured his relationship with the CIA they had it in for him already. But I do find it interesting that the transition to Stephen Y happened right as they moved onto this “more adventurous” operation (and Stephen Y handled Merlin through this 2003 leak).

Why did both Bob S and Merlin tell the FBI in 2006 that Sterling was just a marginal player in the operation?

That Bob S was bypassing Sterling in April 2000, over a month before Merlin got a new case officer, also raises questions about why he and Merlin, in what seems remarkably similar testimony to the FBI in 2006, started saying that Sterling was not a central player in the operation. Bob S was doing 70% of the thinking on the operation, he reportedly told the FBI in an February 28, 2006 interview, Sterling just 30%. Sterling served only as a “middleman” editing his letters, Merlin told the FBI in an interview within a month after Bob S’. “The details of this operation were a wild forest to Sterling,” Merlin told the FBI in the same interview (though when asked on cross, he said he meant Sterling didn’t understand the technical details).

Why were Bob S and Merlin both so intent in the months after Risen’s book first appeared on insisting that Sterling’s understanding of the operation was incomplete?

Did the program get more sensitive over time?

Everything introduced at the trial treats the Merlin operation as a clandestine information collection operation. Yet a heavily redacted filing submitted in support of having Retired Colonel Pat Lang testify and other details from the trial suggest the operation got moresensitive as it went along. Like the contemporaneous cables, the filing suggests the operation was clandestine. “The [redacted] operation was conducted as a [redacted] clandestine intelligence operation.” But it also makes it clear that the government was trying to argue that this clandestine operation was covert. Note, for example, the discussion of CIA “electing” to notify Congress, obtain approval from the CIA Director, and … something redacted. That suggests the government went through some or all of the motions of the same kind of notice required under a Finding, without it being a formally covert operation. Risen may have been trying to get at this question, too, when he asked Bill Harlow’s counterpart somewhere (this wouldn’t have been at NSC, but it might have been at Sandia Lab), “he knew that President Clinton had approved the plan…but wanted to know if it had been reapproved by President Bush” (Exhibit 106; note, this appears to have been a seeded question, and not one that Sterling would have reason to pitch).

But two things suggest the program got, formally, more sensitive, perhaps even escalating to a covert operation that the US would want to deny. First, there are the two “facts” mentioned in the Lang filing that had not been shared with the defense, even though Lang was purportedly read into all the evidence pertaining to the Sterling defense. Then there’s an odd exchange that happened with Condi Rice. Eric Olshan asked “did everyone at the NSC know about this specific classified information?” (remember, within weeks, Bob S would tell the FBI more than 90 people were briefed into this compartment). Defense attorney Barry Pollack objected that the question was beyond the protective order. But Olshan insisted it wasn’t, and Judge Brinkema judged that “the government is very sensitive to the protective order and I doubt they would go beyond it.” The suggestion was that very few people at NSC were read into the precise details of the program when Condi talked NYT out of publishing in 2003.

All of this leads me to believe that the program had gotten much more sensitive between the time Sterling was booted off the program in 2000 and the time Risen was reporting the story in 2003.

If so, why?

Why is the government claiming this part of James Risen’s State of War is as sensitive than his exposure of a massive illegal wiretap program?

The program would have had to have gotten more sensitive over time, if any of the implications about the relative sensitivity of the chapters of Risen’s book — including the series of witnesses claiming Chapter 9 was the only one they read (though jurisdictional issues explain some of this, given that Risen’s NSA chapter came under MD’s purview) are to be believed.

After all, elsewhere in Risen’s book, he exposed a massive illegal wiretapping program that directly contravened FISA. He exposed a program that — we now know –directly implicated the Attorney General and Vice President in criminal wiretapping.

Yet the CIA and DOJ want us to believe that this program — described in contemporaneous CIA cables as an effort to give Iran a blueprint to find out if they wanted it — was more sensitive than that massive illegal program? (Admittedly this may all stem from the CIA thinking it is the center of the universe.)

Did the kind of deception involved change?

Those questions all make me wonder whether the kind of deception — and the audience — changed, if the project got more sensitive.

This program was established in January 1997 to,

create and sustain operational access to the Iranian nuclear target. [Merlin’s] goals on behalf of [CIA] will be to gain insight into the stage of development of the Iranian nuclear program and to collect [redacted] information on their contacts with foreign nuclear scientists. Asset will also be involved in the ultimate operational objective of delivery and/or design of a piece of nuclear equipment needed by the Iranians. (Exhibit 5)

As far as we can tell, Merlin’s outreach to Iranian scientists never developed substantive responses, much less insight into their alleged nuke program.

By May 1997, the focus had shifted even more to the blueprints (Exhibit 6).

The goal is to plant this substantial piece of deception information on the Iranian nuclear weapons program, sending them down blind alleys, wasting their time and money, and discrediting Russian designs and equipment in their eyes. The terminology and list of parts are sufficiently specific that we stand a good chance of learning whether the Iranians have in fact adopted the design and trying to make it work.

This seems to suggest this operation was, in part, about trying to get the Iranians to adopt a parts list that would require they purchase in the US, which would be far easier for the CIA to track and thereby monitor Iranian progress. (Such a plan also seems similar to the monitoring of things like aluminum tubes the US was doing before the Iraq War, with all the implications of that.)

That was largely the goal as laid out in the December 1998 cable (Exhibit 16) where Bob S laid out the goal to approach Iranian Subject 1, who apparently was in the process of being assigned to serve as Iran’s IAEA Head of Mission in Vienna (see Exhibit 3). That cable is notable, however, for its judgment that,

The major hurdle here is that neither we nor [Merlin] want him to go to Iran, which would almost certainly be their request. But if we have planted the information and strung them along a bit before facing this issue we would be prepared to let the operation end at that point if necessary.

This admits that the point was dealing the blueprints, and the CIA would even have Merlin balk on an offered nuclear deal — which surely would have alerted the Iranians — if the Iranians asked him to travel to Iran.

In a cable (Exhibit 46) planning the replacement of Sterling (and including 3 offices besides Vienna that were working with local liaison services — one of which would surely be Tel Aviv– to track any Iranian response), Bob S reiterated that goal. “The goal of the operation is to waste as much Iranian nuclear weapons expertise and money as possible.”

Curiously, the cable describing the handover from Sterling to Stephen Y (Exhibit 47) also notes that Merlin and his wife would be taken to a [CIA] setting to go over issues Merlin and his wife had covered in their initial debrief, which should cover more systematic Russian bomb construction.

All of which is to say for the period covering Sterling’s involvement, the story remained consistent. The idea of planting the blueprints was about wasting Iranian time (not unlike the StuxNet plan, though via different means).

What was CIA intending with its Iran approach in 2003, and what really happened with it?

The same cannot be said about the CIA’s plan to use Merlin to approach the Iranians again, after 3 years of having gotten absolutely no response to the first outreach (or, implicitly from Merlin’s testimony, from any of the other countries Merlin approached), as captured in a March 11, 2003 cable (Exhibit 103). The cable, apparently coordinated with the Near East and Counter Espionage Divisions of CIA, is titled, “Surveilling the Iranians in City A for a Classified Program No. 1 Approach.” It describes Bob S’ plan to surveil Iranians in City A. And that’s all the explanation, aside from the indication Bob S plans a unilateral approach to the Iranians at the end of the month, pending meeting with Merlin and his handler.

Whatever this operation was, it seems a more haphazard event than even having Merlin drop off a nuclear blueprint wrapped in a newspaper. And in a mostly redacted cable, none of the unredacted discussion describes the intent of dealing off nuclear blueprints to the Iranians for a second time.

Why was CIA satisfied continually throwing out million dollar blueprints without getting a response?

As noted, with Iran, with (presumably) Iraq, and with the other country or countries which Merlin also approached, Merlin got no response.

None.

The government introduced a stipulation (Exhibit 166) at the Sterling trial revealing the CIA had spent at least $1.5 million to develop the blueprint that Merlin wrapped in a newspaper and left in a mailbox. Presumably, there were additional costs for each time Merlin dropped a newspaper wrapped blueprint in a mailbox. We can presume at least one of those — the blueprint dropped on Iraq, which had given up its nuclear program 9 years earlier — was completely wasted, at least if the purpose was to get the target to waste money on a nuclear program.

And yet the CIA considered the Iranian drop, at least, to be a success.

Why?

Why explains the weird reception for Jeffrey Sterling’s complaint at the Senate Intelligence Committee?

Particularly given the curious status of the program involving some kind of Congressional notice, there’s some weird stuff about the Senate Intelligence Committee treatment of Sterling’s Merlin complaint.

Jeffrey Sterling went to the Senate Intelligence on March 5, 2003 to raise concerns about the operation given “current events.” He met with Vicky Divoll — a Democratic staffer Mark Zaid had contacted — and Donald Stone — who was in charge of whistleblower issues. Both staffers showed an appropriate amount of skepticism, given Sterling’s ongoing disputes with CIA, and Stone was a bit peeved that Sterling hadn’t first gone to CIA’s Inspector General. But Divoll and Stone differ about what happened next.

Divoll remembers a meeting with her, Stone, and Staff Director Bill Duhnke immediately after the meeting, with Lorenzo Goco (who covered this portfolio) being pulled in. Divoll also remembers Duhnke ordering them to write a memo right away. Note, Divoll got fired for what she claims credibly were political reasons shortly thereafter, but she blinked, a lot, during cross-examination (and she wears glasses, so it’s not a contacts issue).

Stone, however, recalls a meeting involving just him and Bill Duhnke later. Perhaps at that meeting, Bill Duhnke told him there was an investigation into some kind of compromise (CIA referred the leak on April 7 and FBI opened the investigation on April 8), though Stone insisted he didn’t know it involved a leak to the press. Worse, James Risen had tried to contact him on his direct line. And that’s why, Stone said, he wrote the report, to admit that Risen had tried to contact him but that he hadn’t spoken with him. Divoll said Stone wrote the draft and she reviewed it against her notes (though she appears to have an overestimation of her own note-taking skills). And Stone said he got rid of his notes at some point before his FBI interviews.

The thing is, Stone never got around to writing the report until April 25 (Exhibit 101), coincidentally the very same day Risen called the CIA with a completed draft of his story (Exhibit 112). And it seems no one had done any official channel follow-up on the report until someone — presumably Duhnke, though the sender is redacted, sent Goco an email on April 24 (Exhibit 110) asking about his follow-up and, the next day, instructing, “please attempt to schedule the meeting” to follow-up today. It must have been that last minute follow-up — the day before and day that Stone wrote the report — that Stone refers to when he writes,

To follow up, it was decided that at the next opportunity, the [redacted] account monitor would ask a question on the degree to which such plans are modified and the approach to making sure there is no benefit to the target or a buyer of the plans. Such a briefing is to take place in the near future.

That is, the report and the official follow-up was constructed with the FBI’s leak investigation in mind at a point when Risen already had a story done.

Which is why the details Stone provided the FBI, which would have been captured in his notes but which didn’t show up in the report, are so interesting. First, Sterling said that “they did the equivalent of throwing it over a fence,” an admission of how shoddy the pass-off of the blueprints was. Then, that one of CIA’s two assets involved “got cold feet,” an admission that Merlin almost backed out just before the trip to Vienna. And that one asset (it actually sounds like Stone might have meant Human Asset 2, the other Russian,which the records actually support) “recognized the plans were faulty.”

In other words, Sterling told SSCI a number of details that not only correspond with known details of the operation, but which show up in Risen’s book, but Stone (writing after Bill Duhnke told him of the leak investigation) didn’t include those details in the report. Stone didn’t know when he destroyed his notes, but he didn’t have them when he met with the FBI.

Why was Bill Duhnke the top suspect?

Finally, there’s Bill Duhnke, who not only didn’t testify at the trial, but didn’t cooperate with the investigation. While classified witnesses who did not testify also named Vicki Divoll, as someone who had “a vendetta” against the CIA (as a Bob Graham staffer, she would have been tied to acute criticism of CIA for missing 9/11), Bill Harlow and Special Agent Hunt both said they considered Duhnke a top suspect at the beginning of the investigation. Since that point, because SSCI Chair Pat Roberts refused to cooperate, FBI never really could have ruled out Duhnke.

What I don’t understand is why both people considered Duhnke the leading suspect, especially since he only heard of Sterling’s complaints second-hand. Duhnke was a Richard Shelby staffer (and in recent years, has once again rejoined him as a key staffer), but remained at SSCI after Shelby left in the wake of allegations the Senator had leaked details of a wiretap on Osama bin Laden’s satellite phone (which may have been a critique of CIA’s failures prior to 9/11). But as he resumed the top SSCI staff position in 2003, Duhnke staffed Roberts as the Senator showed great deference to the CIA (as well as to Vice President Cheney). And very significantly, if the Merlin operation did get more sensitive between 2000 and 2003, Duhnke would have attended whatever Gang of Four briefings in this period included staffers. For example, Bill Duhnke staffed Roberts at the February 4, 2003 briefing at which Roberts agreed to the destruction of the torture tapes, quashed oversight efforts Graham had put into place, and — according to the CIA but contested by Roberts himself — said he could think of 10 reasons right off not to exercise more oversight over torture. Having been part of Roberts’ hackery for a few months, why did CIA regard Duhnke to be hostile? And why did they think he had enough information about the operation to be able to leak it to Risen?

There were details of the story Risen had early on — that Merlin had been used (rather than might be, as Risen reported in his book) with other countries, that the fire set handoff was part of a “larger program” to sabotage Iran’s nuke program — that didn’t make it into his book but which reflected knowledge that Sterling didn’t appear to have. They would also seem to reflect larger concerns about the program that had to come from someone with more visibility into what the CIA was doing. Did CIA know overseers at SSCI had such concerns?

Dollar Dump Begins: Russia Unloads 20% Of Its Total U.S. Holdings In ONE Month

Mac Slavo
February 20th, 2015
SHTFplan.com

dollardump

Earlier this week John Williams warned that hyperinflation will begin to appear in America sometime in 2015. He noted that, though the dollar is currently strong compared to other fiat money, signs that a currency collapse is coming will begin with the sell-off of the U.S. dollar.

It’s a known fact that the Russians and Chinese have already begun divesting themselves of dollar dependency by implementing trade agreements that completely sidestep the world’s reserve currency, but there has been no overt sign of a sell-off that might be indicative of a coming attack on our currency.

Until now, that is.

According to a report from Zero Hedge the Russians have already started unloading their dollar reserves. In the month of December alone they sold a record $22 billion in U.S. Treasurys. While this may not seem like a big number, it is over 20% of their total US dollar holdings.

But here’s the kicker: They’re not the only ones getting rid of their dollars in what appears to be a fairly uncommon sell-off over the course of the last 60 days.

Back in December, Socgen spread a rumor that Russia has begun selling its gold. Subsequent IMF data showed that not only was this not correct, Russia in fact added to its gold holdings. But there was one thing it was selling: some $22 billion in US Treasurys, a record 20% of its total holdings, bringing its US paper inventory to just $86 billion in December – the lowest since June 2008.

It wasn’t just Russia: the country that has ever more frequently been said to be in the same camp as Russia – and against the US – namely China, also sold another $6 billion in Treasurys in the last month of 2014, which would have made its US treasury holdings equal with those of Japan, if only Tokyo hadn’t also sold over $10 billion in the same month.

And while we know that Russia used at least some of the proceeds to buy gold, the bigger question is: just what is China buying with all these stealthy USD-denominated liquidations, and how much gold does the PBOC really have as of this moment.

Is Russia, after being under economic attack for the better part of a year, now starting to make its own moves? And are they working in unison with the Chinese in an effort to debase the dollar?

World affairs analyst Joel Skousen recently made a compelling case against an imminent economic collapse, while others argue that the end is nigh for the U.S. economic, financial and monetary systems.

Whatever the case, remain vigilant and prepare for the worst, because the hammer is going to drop sooner or later.

 

How Pharma is Taking You for a Ride!

Watching “Last week tonight with John Oliver” on HBO got me to thinking anew about the raw deal that Americans get for prescription drugs. In a half hour program, he took up about 17 minutes demonstrating Pharma’s power trip ploys to sell drugs, including its insidious, but often ludicrous, commercials, its endless gifting to doctors and its overpowering sway over us and our culture.

Pharma spends $4 billion per year to market us, their hopeful consumers, but over $24 billion to market doctors. According to the BBC, 9 of 10 big Pharma companies spend more on marketing than they do on research and development. The latter is the reason Pharma gives for obscenely large drugs prices – their need to spend for research and development. It is difficult to not only research how Pharma’s money is spent, but also to browse price comparisons between countries.

Both are hampered on internet browsing by few argument returns or by Pharma marketing site returns. Try the comparative search argument, “comparative global drug prices,” for example. Any studies found are usually not recent and cover limited comparisons of drug prices. The one linked highlights some, including a 2010 comparison of Plavix prices before it went generic. For example, the UK average price was around $60 while the US was about $150. Overall, the report said that US drug prices are three to six times greater than other countries.

We do excel at marketing, though.

Marketing is ubiquitous, something our drug spending massively supports. It permeates our culture: billboards, television, magazines, internet and doctor’s offices. On television, a bombardment of commercials has each saying “Ask your doctor,” for they need someone’s permission to buy their drugs. Next they hurriedly unload the possible scourge of side effects their drugs might induce, saving death as the last, perhaps coinciding with the numbing of your mind and senses.

“If your bladder is calling the shots” (a cute little red bladder is being led by the hand by a plagued woman, purportedly on an interrupted shopping trip) is the message. “That woman needs a pill to stop hallucinating,” says John Oliver.  We all know what to do about “erections lasting more than four hours,” attesting to the potency of Viagra, as well as the funny ED commercials of the past. We pay for these commercials, baby, and pay and pay.

Meanwhile doctors get free lunches and sample pills, are courted by young, attractive Pharma reps whose sole goal is to sell drugs, even to children. Doctors are subtly encouraged to “go off label,” using drugs for purposes other than what the drug label specifies. Some doctors are made “thought leaders” and participate in physician speaker programs where they pitch the Pharma company with scripted speeches. Oliver also provides a list of companies fined billions of dollars in fraud lawsuits, including Johnson and Johnson, Eli Lilly, NOVARTIS, and GSK.

The only specifics that were missing in the Oliver piece was how Congress has been totally bought off by Pharma, actually forbidding Medicare to bargain with Pharmaceutical companies for affordable prices among American consumers. One of the most blatant rip-offs came with the Bush administration and Congress’s 2003 Medicare Part D deal with Pharma, which not only ruled out Medicare bargaining for fair drug prices but also made it a crime to buy drugs outside the country, where prescription drugs are often cheaper than our price, even with our co-pays. To this day, there have been feeble efforts to change that, but Pharma’s lobbying is still working.

Probably the biggest disgrace of Pharma’s hold over (through Congress) American consumers are the millions of Americans, especially seniors, who can’t afford the price of drugs – even co-pays — and either do without or cut back on their prescriptions, all in order to pay for food and lodging.

Our best defense is knowledge of what other countries are paying and how our government is only representing the interests of the health care industry. This information is sorely lacking, either due to subtle network tampering or the lack of investigative reporting by the American media – maybe both.

Either way, most Americans are ignorant about how Pharma is taking them for a ride – and even the ride is on our dime.

James Hoover is a recently retired systems engineer. He has advanced degrees in Economics and English. Prior to his aerospace career, he taught high school, and he has also taught college courses. He recently published a science fiction novel called Extraordinary Visitors and writes political columns on several websites. Read other articles by James.

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