With every fresh leak, the world learns more about the U.S. National Security Agency's massive and controversial surveillance apparatus. Lost in the commotion has been the story of the NSA's indispensable partner in its global spying operations: an obscure, clandestine unit of the Federal Bureau of Investigation that, even for a surveillance agency, keeps a low profile.
When the media and members of Congress say the NSA spies on Americans, what they really mean is that the FBI helps the NSA do it, providing a technical and legal infrastructure that permits the NSA, which by law collects foreign intelligence, to operate on U.S. soil. It's the FBI, a domestic U.S. law enforcement agency, that collects digital information from at least nine American technology companies as part of the NSA's Prism system. It was the FBI that petitioned the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court to order Verizon Business Network Services, one of the United States' biggest telecom carriers for corporations, to hand over the call records of millions of its customers to the NSA.
But the FBI is no mere errand boy for the United States' biggest intelligence agency. It carries out its own signals intelligence operations and is trying to collect huge amounts of email and Internet data from U.S. companies -- an operation that the NSA once conducted, was reprimanded for, and says it abandoned.
The heart of the FBI's signals intelligence activities is an obscure organization called the Data Intercept Technology Unit, or DITU (pronounced DEE-too). The handful of news articles that mentioned it prior to revelations of NSA surveillance this summer did so mostly in passing. It has barely been discussed in congressional testimony. An NSA PowerPoint presentation given to journalists by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden hints at DITU's pivotal role in the NSA's Prism system -- it appears as a nondescript box on a flowchart showing how the NSA "task[s]" information to be collected, which is then gathered and delivered by the DITU.
But interviews with current and former law enforcement officials, as well as technology industry representatives, reveal that the unit is the FBI's equivalent of the National Security Agency and the primary liaison between the spy agency and many of America's most important technology companies, including Google, Facebook, YouTube, and Apple.
The DITU is located in a sprawling compound at Marine Corps Base Quantico in Virginia, home of the FBI's training academy and the bureau's Operational Technology Division, which runs all the FBI's technical intelligence collection, processing, and reporting. Its motto: "Vigilance Through Technology." The DITU is responsible for intercepting telephone calls and emails of terrorists and foreign intelligence targets inside the United States. According to a senior Justice Department official, the NSA could not do its job without the DITU's help. The unit works closely with the "big three" U.S. telecommunications companies -- AT&T, Verizon, and Sprint -- to ensure its ability to intercept the telephone and Internet communications of its domestic targets, as well as the NSA's ability to intercept electronic communications transiting through the United States on fiber-optic cables.
For Prism, the DITU maintains the surveillance equipment that captures what the NSA wants from U.S. technology companies, including archived emails, chat-room sessions, social media posts, and Internet phone calls. The unit then transmits that information to the NSA, where it's routed into other parts of the agency for analysis and used in reports.
After Prism was disclosed in the Washington Post and the Guardian, some technology company executives claimed they knew nothing about a collection program run by the NSA. And that may have been true. The companies would likely have interacted only with officials from the DITU and others in the FBI and the Justice Department, said sources who have worked with the unit to implement surveillance orders.
"The DITU is the main interface with providers on the national security side," said a technology industry representative who has worked with the unit on many occasions. It ensures that phone companies as well as Internet service and email providers are complying with surveillance law and delivering the information that the government has demanded and in the format that it wants. And if companies aren't complying or are experiencing technical difficulties, they can expect a visit from the DITU's technical experts to address the problem.
WASHINGTON -- The Obama administration should be permitted to keep a legal opinion secret that allows the FBI to obtain certain telephone records without any formal legal process, a Justice Department lawyer told a U.S. appeals court Tuesday.
The legal assertion by the Justice Department came in response to a lawsuit that alleges the department’s Office of Legal Counsel violated the federal open-records laws by refusing to release the memo, which says the bureau can collect international phone call data without court oversight or a “qualifying emergency.” As a result of the Justice Department’s refusal to release the memo, the circumstances under which the bureau can collect the records and the precise legal authority it relies on remain secret.
Justice Department lawyer Daniel Tenny told the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit that the opinion should be protected from public disclosure because it was internal legal advice to the FBI, not necessarily binding policy.
“If the FBI knew that the advice it got back would be made public, then the FBI’s own deliberations would be made public,” he said. “. . . The key point is not whether all of the advice should be made public. The question is whether it should be involuntarily made public.”
The Electronic Frontier Foundation, which sued for access to the opinion, asserted that the FBI used the opinion as “cover” for its previous actions, which were under fire as potentially illegal. As a result, the foundation argued, the opinion was relied on as binding policy and cannot be withheld from the public.
“The OLC opinion at issue in this case set forth for the executive branch an authoritative, controlling interpretation of federal surveillance and privacy statutes,” Mark Rumold, a lawyer with the group, told the three-judge panel.
The lawsuit arises out of a longstanding debate over how much the public should know about the legal rationale that supports spying programs aimed at catching terrorists. The suit by the Electronic Frontier Foundation was prompted in part by McClatchy’s reporting that highlighted the existence of the memo and the department’s refusal to release it to the newspaper chain in January 2010.
For years after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, the FBI sought and obtained thousands of certain telephone records for international calls in an attempt to thwart potential terrorists.
The opinion by the Office of Legal Counsel was issued in response to questions that were raised by the Justice Department’s inspector general about the legality of the FBI’s handling of those records.
A reference to the opinion appeared in the heavily excised section of a 2010 inspector general report on how the FBI abused its powers when seeking the records.
When USA TODAY started investigating mass killings, it seemed a fairly straightforward thing to count: How many times have at least four people died at the hands of another in a single incident?
Yet marking the death toll of mass killings in America is anything but simple. It's hampered by the FBI's voluntary reporting system that gets it right a little more than half the time, and by advocacy groups who may count only incidents that support their cause, ignoring killings that don't involve a gun or did not get heavy media coverage.
Concentrating on just one type of mass killing - or only on those that get a lot of attention - may be worse than just using the FBI data, because it can skew public understanding and lead to ineffective policies, says Grant Duwe, a senior researcher with the Minnesota Department of Corrections, who has written a book on mass killings based on a data set he built covering the 1900s.
"Accurately accounting for mass killings - having a definition, sticking to the definition, trying to find all the incidents - that may seem somewhat pedantic but it's actually very important."
To get a more accurate count, USA TODAY began with 156 such incidents reported to the FBI from 2006-11. But after investigating each one and finding others missing, USA TODAY found the FBI data had an accuracy rate of just 61%, throwing doubt on conclusions that might be drawn from analyzing it.
For example, a mass killing in Samson and Kinston, Ala., in 2009 is not included in the FBI data. In that case, a man killed his mother, set her body on fire, then killed nine other people before he committed suicide at his former workplace.
December 12, 2013
Background checks were done in 1983 and 1987 on John R. Silber, who was appointed to three separate commission posts during the Reagan administration.
John R. Silber led a very public life, overseeing the transformation of Boston University, nearly becoming governor of Massachusetts, and getting into so many verbal scrapes with critics that his penchant for provocative rejoinders even had a name, the “Silber shocker.”
But FBI agents who did background checks on Silber in the 1980s managed to unearth a few secrets, sort of: In 1947, for example, Silber got a B in Old Testament history and literature at Yale Divinity School, and two years later he failed a graduate course at the University of Texas at Austin.
A 516-page FBI file, compiled when Silber was appointed to three presidential panels during the Reagan administration, is packed with testimonials to the irascible Silber’s patriotism, work ethic, dedication to family, and even his legendary stubbornness. Unlike another BU luminary, Martin Luther King Jr., who was the subject of a controversial 17,000-page FBI file, Silber’s dossier is downright flattering.
“The appointee is of very, very fine character, a great scholar, very patriotic . . . and a strong supporter of national defense and this nation’s present administration,” an FBI interviewer wrote in paraphrasing the opinion of Arthur Metcalf, chairman of BU’s board of trustees, in 1983. “The only criticism [Metcalf] has concerning the appointee is the appointee’s lack of patience with ‘suffering fools.’ ”
Of course, the file suggests that agents did not speak with many Silber critics, such as leftist historian and BU faculty member Howard Zinn, who twice helped lead faculty votes that unsuccessfully attempted to oust Silber as president. Silber once called Zinn a prime example of teachers “who poison the well of academe.” About the only substantive concern the FBI raises about Silber is that he may have strong-armed BU personnel to support then-Boston Mayor Kevin White in the 1970s.
But the file, released to the Boston-based public records group MuckRock after a formal records request, provides an unusual window into what associates of Silber, who died in 2012, said about him when they could have faced serious consequences for not telling the truth.
The FBI conducted the extensive checks on Silber in 1983 and again in 1987 when President Ronald Reagan appointed Silber to three different commissions, including the National Bipartisan Commission on Central America.
Even J. Edgar Hoover knew
that the polygraph wasn’t any good for detecting deception. He dropped the
polygraph was invented in 1915 by a Harvard man called William Moulton Marston,
who claimed that his clunky little gizmo could detect lies by measuring blood
pressure. Marston’s main claim to fame derives not from his machine, but
from a doodle he came up with: the cartoon character Wonder Woman.
the past 85 years, the polygraph hasn’t changed much from the Marston prototype.
”The secret of the polygraph is that their machine is no more capable of
telling the truth than were the priests of ancient Rome standing knee-deep in
chicken parts,” says Alan Zelicoff, a physician and senior scientist at the
Center for National Security and Arms Control at the Sandia Labs in Albuquerque,
NM. Zelicoff gave us this view in an article featured in the The Skeptical Inquirer.
writes that the polygraph administrator is a kind of confidence artist or modern
day mesmerist who tries to seduce (or scare) his subjects into believing in the
power of the machine to catch them in the most minute inconsistency.
subject, nervously strapped in a chair, is often convinced by the aura surrounding
this cheap parlor trick, and is then putty in the hands of the polygrapher, who
then launches into an intrusive, illegal and wide-ranging inquisition,” Zelicoff
writes. “The subject is told from time to time that the machine is indicating
‘deception.’ It isn’t, of course. And he is continuously urged
to clarify his answers, by providing more and more personal information.”
At an arbitrary point, the polygrapher calls off the testing, consults the spools
of graph paper and makes an entirely subjective rendering on whether the subject
has given a “deceptive response.”
first-year medical student knows that the four parameters measured during a polygraph–blood
pressure, pulse, sweat production, and breathing rate–are affected by an
uncountable myriad of emotions: joy, hate, elation, sadness, anxiety, depression,
and so forth,” says Zelicoff. “But there is not one chapter–not
one–in any medical text that associates these quantities in any way with
an individual’s intent to deceive. More importantly, dozens of studies over
the past 20 years in psychology departments and medical schools all over the world
have shown that the polygraph cannot distinguish between truth-telling and lying.”
of the Wen Ho Lee affair will remember that at one point the FBI falsely told
the Taiwanese nuclear physicist (accused of spying for the Chinese at Los Alamos)
that polygraph tests showed he was lying. Cops play these sorts of tricks all
the time, faking forensic reports and then shoving them under the nose of their
suspect, shouting that he’s a proven liar and that he’d best sign a
confession right away.
most comprehensive review of the polygraph was conducted in 1983 by the Office
of Technology Assessment, a research branch of congress. The OTA concluded, “There
is no known physiological response that is unique to deception.” The report
did note that the CIA and its companions “believe that the polygraph is a
useful screening tool.” However, OTA concluded that the available research
does not establish the scientific validity of the polygraph for this purpose.
The best that OTA could say about the polygraph was that it might have some limited
validity in “specific criminal incidents.” But the report went on to
observe that in such cases, “the polygraph test detects deception better
than chance, but with error rates that could be significant.” As for the
supposedly revealing physiological responses, the congressional study reported
that they could be masked “by physical movement, drugs or other techniques
to avoid detection as deceptive.”
are numerous ghastly stories of federal employees who were abused by the machine
and its operators. Take the case of 19-year Navy veteran Daniel M. King, who was
suspected of selling classified information. King was locked up in military prison
in solitary confinement for 500 days and subjected to repeated polygraphs. Some
of them lasted for as long as 19 hours. A military judge dismissed all the charges
few years ago FBI agent Mark Mallah was given a routine polygraph. The polygrapher,
who had only 80 hours of experience with the machine, concluded that Mallah had
lied. (Zelicoff notes that even barbers must have 1000 hours of training before
getting a license to cut hair.) His life soon transformed into a Kafka story.
He was stripped of his badge, subjected to midnight searches of his house, his
diary and appointment book seized and scrutinized, his neighbors, friends and
relatives interrogated, his every move outside monitored by helicopters. In the
end, Mallah’s life was pretty much destroyed, but nothing was ever proved
against him. The FBI finally apologized and Congress outlawed the use of the polygraph
for civilian employees in 1988.
worth noting that the Walker brothers and Aldrich Ames both beat the polygraph
with no sweat. Kim Philby settled himself with a dollop of Valium before breezing
through his polygraph exams.
investigator for a defense lawyer in California told us that, while the polygraph
isn’t admissible in most courts, it’s used all the time by prosecutors,
mostly to seal plea bargains. “It’s a perilous option, because the utility
of the polygraph is almost totally up to the operator,” she said. “There are good polygraphers,
but many who work for the district attorneys have only minimal training.”
investigator described a recent case where a defense witness in a homicide case,
who had passed a polygraph given by a former FBI polygrapher with 20 years of
experience, was sent to the DA for another test given by their examiner, a relative
novice with the device. Defense lawyers can’t be in the room while the test
is given, even when their clients are being examined. The prosecutors videotape
the session, and while the results of the polygraph can’t be used at trial,
the videotape can become evidence. In this case, the defense lawyer waited in
the hall until the witness emerged from the room “with his face red as a
beet.” The lawyer heard the DA’s investigator threaten the witness:
”You little slimebag, I know you’re lying. We’re going to revoke
your parole.” The DA’s examiner had interpreted the readings from one
of his answers as being “deceptive.”
If it were not for these few documents that I managed to get, some still classified until 2020, the statements of three former agents might seem to be more of a conspiracy theory.
(SAN JUAN, Coast Rica Vice) - This article was sent to Salem-News.com from a source in El Salvador. We understand it is part of a four part series to be released during the 2nd week in Jan., 2014 by Proceso Magazine, MX, Tico Times in Costa Rico, and El Salvador media. This is a semi-rough English translation, the Spanish version link is included below so the reader can go to the source and research the original piece. The Vice logo below will also take you it.
Hours after Rafael Caro Quintero, alleged murderer of DEA agent Enrique Camarena Kiki, was released on 9 August, the governments of Mexico and the United States announced a manhunt. But in reality it is a fake show. Caro Quintero did not murder Kiki Camarena, and it is possible that the Mexican drug don is now living under a new identity as a protected secret agenda of the White House.
Tosh Plumlee today, Salem-News.com photo by Tim King
In interviews, three former U.S. intelligence agents: Hector Berrellez, DEA (Drug Enforcement Agency), Robert Tosh Plumlee, CIA (Central Intelligence Agency) and Phil Jordan, EPIC (Intelligence Center El Paso) - I was putting together a version of the complete opposite to the line that now dominates the agenda for both governments' drug case. A reality that we fail to see and where it is envisioned that the enemies of the U.S. are rather its proteges.
I had access to documents that prove what happened during the famous 1980's Drug War murder and the role of the CIA and current Secretary of State, John Kerry, who was aware of this since 1991.
But the documents are here. The first is signed by Gary Hart, former Democratic senator, dated February 14, 1991 and sent to Senator John Kerry, then chairman of the Subcommittee on Terrorism, Narcotics and International Communications of the upper house of U.S. Congress letter. This letter is one of the few documents that were not burned by Oliver North [former lieutenant colonel in the Marines, serving Ronald Regan] in the basement of the Pentagon.
The paper's concern is noted Kerry after learning about the Iran- Contra affair that smuggled cocaine into the U.S. from South America through Mexico and the sale sponsored weapons to the Nicaraguan Contras.
The letter refers to a meeting of former CIA pilot outsourced, Plumlee, with Bill Holen, Senate office in Denver, Colorado then headed Gary Hart. And that drops a bombshell: "In addition [Robert Plumlee] noted that these operations were not CIA but were under the direction of the White House, the Pentagon and staff National Security Council [NSC]."
In this operation Rafael Caro Quintero was the key person. The Reagan plan saw planes flying from the U.S. to Nicaragua and several South American countries. Plumlee and a dozen colleagues landed at Mexican ranches owned by Caro Quintero, specifically in Veracruz.
Berrellez said the first snitch was Guillermo Gonzalez Calderoni, one of the main commanders of the Federal Judicial Police (PJF) in the eighties. After collaborating with the Juarez Cartel, he fled to the United States in 1993, became DEA informant and was then shot dead in McCallen, Texas in 2003.
Berrellez was asked to get Calderoni of Mexico in 1993. I said Calderoni called from a consulate in Mexico asking to help him because otherwise "they would raise and murder."
"I helped him, sent a Jet and brought to California. Here, as protected by the DEA became an informant and was very helpful to us. The Mexican government wanted to extradite him, but I did what I could to make it not because I knew they would kill him there. Then he was accused of corruption and influence peddling and stuff, but I say it's not true, " he explained to Berrellez on his last trip to Texas to meet in person.
"What he told me about what Camarena was 'Hector, skip that item because they will fuck. It is involved in the CIA Kiki is very dangerous to walk in it.' He gave me names and details and everything, but when my boss retired I got wind of the investigation and sent me to Washington DC."
A Calderoni was murdered with a shot to the head in 2003, ten years after arriving in the United States. He had left the office of his lawyer in an avenue of McCallen, Texas when a man shot him from a car.
When I interviewed Plumlee, the fifth visit I made to his home in New Mexico, after ten hours in total talking on the phone, I asked for documents that would support his version, and see how they fit with that of Berrellez and Jordan.
That gave me the letter. He also had photographs, his pilot license and more.
After drinking a Corona drink to release the tensions of the first interview, (He met me with a .9 mm tucked into his pants) Tosh showed me pictures of him allegedly at the ranch Caro Quintero and another where it appears in one of the planes that flew to EU. But he also gave me a series of research papers on which he put the FBI still marked secret, to confirm their participation in covert CIA operations. The researchers concluded that "alias X is another likely alias Plumlee." Asking this perhaps was rude of me, but Plumlee could be any well aware of the business of the CIA and the Contras and Caro Quintero. To believe these accusations he had to prove his identity, and of course, then check that version out.
Later I found more interesting evidence. Copies of a series of maps delivered to the U.S. government and classified until 2020, which delineated by Plumlee routes where weapons and cocaine were transported. The training of members of the Nicaraguan Contras at Caro Quintero ranches are also detailed. These maps eventually convinced me that Plumlee was indeed the pilot; the man who entered the United States carrying more than 40 tons of cocaine to the CIA, in a period of one year and, in 1985, brought the country Caro Quintero.
Contact on the Pacific coast, just outside of Cabo San Lucas . This is one of the points of contact between the path and desert of Central Arizona and California during 1983-1986.
April. Rafael Caro Quintero, San Felipe, Mex. [phone number] Gacha, M. Colombo, Penonome, Panama, 1986. The note on the map contains a phone number in San Felipe that Plumlee says Quintero is the number of Delgado's ranch. This note refers to a drug deal between Gacha and Caro Quintero in 1986 "probably related to the Contras, because I was involved."
May. L 12 degrees, 84 degrees... Long, NGA Bluefield, Escualito River. Bluefields is a port on the Caribbean coast of Nicaragua, one of the three landing areas mined by the CIA in 1984.
6. Luis Ochoa, Penonome, Panama, in the village by the river. Previously owned by Vesco and Rojas 09/06/83. Plumlee says Jorge Luis Ochoa, a member of the Medellin cartel, sometimes stayed at the villa from Rio Hato and Penonome when sending cargo to Panama.
Tosh on the Mexican border, 2011
This same man explains to me how the CIA indirectly had Enrique Kiki Camarena killed, the DEA agent investigating Caro Quintero. "Kiki was no fool. He knew that the drug was not everything he wanted, then began to follow the money and found loaded with drugs openly flying to America," said Plumlee from his chair at his home in New Mexico.
"I found out about this because the CIA asked to investigate who had opened his mouth. That was Kiki and then specifically asked Oliver North was kidnapped and interrogated."
For this they hired Nicaraguan drug trafficker Juan Matta Ballesteros, who also owned SETCO, the aircraft company Plumlee worked for, under the CIA. They explained the situation and Matta Ballesteros. Caro Quintero did tell an undercover agent had found his buffalo ranch in Chihuahua, I visited a few months ago, the largest marijuana ranch in Mexico's history. "And Caro ran his hand, but in presence of two CIA agents who were also infiltrated and did nothing," Plumlee says.
"I report that Caro Quintero is alive and safe. Now living under a new identity under a special program, a step before the witness protection program," he explained. "These so far are rumors of my sources, there is nothing that can be proven as a fact, but time will tell if it was true or just rumors."
Tosh during his CIA days
Plumlee offered me his confidence, so did Hector Berrellez and Phil Jordan. Both told the same version from their research. These two, as I understand, seek one thing: justice for the legacy of Kiki Camarena. I am told that is the only personal agenda that has led them to talk now that they are finally retired agents, and not force them to keep secrets. They were good friends.
The agents also confessed that I have evidence of what they have heard of "military and intelligence sources" in the United States and Mexico, which suggests that Caro Quintero entered a special protection program from Washington monitored by the CIA and U.S. State Department.
Phil Jordan says this idea does not seem far-fetched, in fact you think there is a very strong probability. In a strange seedy motel in El Paso, Texas, he explained that the U.S. government is very concerned of what Rafael Caro Quintero can say about the operation of Iran-Contra: he bought drugs in South America to sell in the United States and money to buy weapons to give to the Nicaraguan Contras. All operations by Caro Quintero in Mexico.
For Jordan, Quintero should be protected the same as at any time can become their main enemy. Jordan goes further: the CIA may be giving protection to the boss of bosses, for now, but anytime you can get rid of it.
"Nobody in Mexico is interested in Caro Quintero because neither the PRI nor anyone going to do anything, he has always been protected. But there is a U.S. intelligence agency from which to look, did you know what ? ... the CIA. "
I sent a series of questions to the headquarters of the CIA. I responded to a template of the information they have on their website and sent to all journalists who ask about it.
In the more than 12 pages I got a reply, the CIA is specifically about the aviation company SETCO , Matta Ballesteros, and through which drugs from south to north and weapons flew north to south .
"According to the official records of the United States, referred to in the report of Senator Kerry , SETCO was established by Matta Ballesteros, Class 1 criminal. Besides the Kerry Report states that these records indicate that Matta was a leading figure in the Colombian cartel and was involved in the murder of Enrique Camarena , "says the CIA.
However, participation of the intelligence agency in SETCO flights and knowledge regarding drug trafficking is denied.
"Not found information indicating that said the CIA received allegations that some aircraft SETCO they were involved in drug trafficking during the Contra. [ ... ] Not found files or shared information with other government agencies . No information was found indicating that the CIA played a role in selecting SETCO to deliver humanitarian aid and assistance to the Contras."
Newest published by the CIA regarding the Southern Front and Iran -Contra , was this:
"The intelligence community has no independent DEA information on this case. The DEA will provide additional information as it becomes available. "
Since then the DEA offered nothing . But last October the headquarters of the Drug Enforcement Administration met to refute Jordan , Plumlee and Berrellez .
From Washington, in a press conference said the following : " Many of you are aware that there are two former DEA special agents who have recently been interviewed by various media about this research , for reasons that are unclear, the two former agents have chosen to invent stories about his involvement in the case and causes the murder of Kiki Camarena . His version of events could not be further from the truth. The stories of them are hurting the DEA effort to ensure that we bring to justice the real culprits . "
In an interview , another former DEA agent told me wary of what the three agents have been saying. Gilbert Gonzalez, who was infiltrated into the Guadalajara Cartel in the nineties and who now trains agents active in infiltration techniques , said " all you are doing [ these three agents ] is to make people remove your finger from the line " .
" Jordan is a great friend , he did have first-hand information , but do not know why you are saying these things. Plumlee do not know who is, but Berrellez was in charge of investigating the murder of Kiki from here, he never traveled to Mexico , do not know how things are " , I said smiling .
" I do not say they are doing it consciously, but we are distracted from the main goal: to bring justice to American Rafael Caro Quintero Camarena's murder ."
By Robert Plumlee has now confessed to me that he is afraid. More than a dozen of his friends, the other pilots who flew cocaine for Uncle Sam , have been killed or are behind bars . He is an old man and do not want to end his life under these circumstances. So you've decided to protect a very paradoxical way , making public everything he knows about the operation for which he was hired .
One of his friends was Celestino Castillo III , a former DEA agent who served his sentence in prison for trafficking weapons during this operation .
Castillo himself has written in his book Powderburns how the U.S. government imprisoned for leaking information of Iran -Contra .
"I'm still trying to clear my name. And I know what these men are saying [ Tosh, Jordan and Berrellez ] is true. I served at the forefront of Latin America for six years when all this was happening, "he told me in a brief phone interview .
The other friend , the one who has more crying , was Barry Seal, a U.S. pilot involved in various covert operations outsourced by the CIA who was killed when he was very close to talk.
According to an internal FBI investigation , was killed when Seal , agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation raided their personal items Police forensic lab in Louisiana , where he was fatally shot . Among the documents seized by the FBI was your staff George Bush.
Furthermore, once the murderers were found told lawyers that were ordered by an official identified as Oliver North .
" I do not care about politics or money or who is president and who is not, I want to save my ass ," he replied when he finally confessed that he suspected she could have to reveal this hidden agendas.
To be fair to anyone but politicians care policy . But to say that the CIA was behind an illegal operation that also took the life of a DEA agent goes beyond being Democrat or Republican , PRI or PAN or PRD.
So we know how things move : on the streets of Guadalajara, Mexico City , Ciudad Juarez , El Paso, New Mexico , California , there are drug dealers , drug dealers and where there is the most likely DEA and CIA protecting .
Ronald Reagan was a president who trafficked drugs to his own people and weapons to annihilate your enemies. But what the hell , raise your hand the president has not done so.
Thu, Jan 9, 2014
see link for full story
— FONTS —
Nico Sell is the CEO of Wickr, a privacy-oriented mobile messaging system that's been deliberately designed so that the company can't spy on its users, even if they're ordered to do so. As we know from the Snowden leaks, spooks hate this kind of thing, and spend $250M/year sabotaging security so that they can spy on everyone, all the time.
After a recent presentation, she was approached by an FBI agent who asked her if she'd put a back-door into Wickr.
She declined. What's more, she lectured the agent on the First and Fourth Amendments, and on her family tradition of upholding liberty (her ancestor was a drummer boy in Washington's corps: "Washington thought it was very important to have freedom of information and private correspondence without government surveillance.").
Her lecture concluded, she proceeded to grill the agent. "I asked if he had official paperwork for me, if this was an official request, who his boss was," said Sell. "He backed down very quickly."
Though she didn't budge for the agent, Sell makes it clear that surveillance and security is a complicated issue. "Ten years ago, I'd have said yes," said Sell. "Because if law enforcement asks you to catch bad guys, who wouldn't want to help?"
The debate Edward Snowden envisioned when he revealed the extent of National Security Agency (NSA) spying on Americans has taken a bad turn. Instead of a careful examination of what the NSA does, the legality of its actions, what risks it takes for what gains, and how effective the agency has been in its stated mission of protecting Americans, we increasingly have government officials or retired versions of the same demanding -- quite literally -- Snowden’s head and engaging in the usual fear-mongering over 9/11. They have been aided by a chorus of pundits, columnists, and present as well as former officials offering bumper-sticker slogans like "If you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear," all the while claiming our freedom is in direct conflict with our security.
It’s time to face these arguments directly. So here are ten myths about NSA surveillance that need debunking.Let's sort them out.
1) NSA surveillance is legal.
True, if perhaps you put “legal” in quotes. After all, so was slavery once upon a time in the U.S. and apartheid in South Africa. Laws represent what a government and sometimes perhaps even a majority of the people want at a given point in time. They change and are changeable; what once was a potential felony in Colorado is now a tourist draw.
Laws, manipulated for terrible ends, must be challenged when they come into conflict with the fundamental principles and morals of a free society. Laws created Nelson Mandela, the terrorist (whom the U.S. kept on its terror watch list until 2008), and laws created Nelson Mandela, the president.
There’s a catch in the issue of legality and the NSA. Few of us can know just what the law is. What happens to you if you shoplift from a store or murder someone in a bar fight? The consequences of such actions are clearly codified and you can look them up. Is it legal to park over there? The rules are on a sign posted right where you'd like to pull in. If a cop tickets you wrongly, you can go to court and use that sign to defend yourself. Yet almost all of the applicable “law,” when it comes to the National Security Agency and its surveillance practices, was secret until Edward Snowden began releasing his documents. Secret interpretations of the shady Patriot Act made in a secret court applied. The fact that an unknown number of legal memos and interpretations of that secret law (themselves still classified) are operative means that we really don’t know what is legal anymore.
The panel of experts appointed by President Obama to review the Snowden revelations and the NSA’s actions had a peek into the issue of “legality” and promptly raised serious questions -- as did one of the two federal courts that recently ruled on some aspects of the issue. If the Obama administration and the Justice Department really believe that all the NSA's activities will be proven legal in a court of law, why not allow them to be tested openly and unambiguously in public? After all, if you've done nothing illegal, then there’s nothing to hide.
When Amnesty International first tried to bring such a question before the courts, the case was denied because that organization couldn’t prove that it had been subject to monitoring -- that was a secret, of course! -- and so was denied standing even to bring the suit. Snowden's revelations seem to have changed all that. The documents made public have given “standing” to a staggering array of individuals, organizations, and countries. For the first time in 12 years, they pave the way for the issue to come to its proper venue in front of the Supremes. Openly. Publicly.
2) If I’ve done nothing wrong, I have nothing to hide. So why should I care about any of this?
Keep in mind that the definition of "wrong" can quickly change. And if you don't know what the actual law really is, how can you say that you know you have done nothing wrong? If you've got nothing to hide, post your social security number and credit card information online, leave your curtains open at night, and see how that sits with you.
In a larger sense, however, the very idea that “I've got nothing to hide” is a distraction. The Fourth Amendment guarantees a right to privacy. The Constitution does not ask if you want or need that right; it grants it to everyone, and demands that the government interfere with it only under specific circumstances.
The Fourth Amendment came into being because of the British use of general warrants in the colonial era. Under that “law,” they could legally search whole groupsof people, their possessions, and their papers without having to justify searching any specific person. Called “writs of assistance,” these general warrants allowed the King's agents to search anyone, anytime, regardless of whether they suspected that person of a crime. The writs were most often used by Royal Customs agents (an irony perhaps, given the draconian powers now granted to U.S. Customs agents to search anyone's personal electronics, including those of American citizens, at the border).
The U.S. fought a revolution, and James Madison wrote the Fourth Amendment, against broad government authority to search. Whether you personally do or do not have anything to hide is not even a question that should be on the table. It should be almost un-American to ask it.
3) But the media says the NSA only collects my "phone metadata," so I'm safe.
My older, conservative neighbor quickly insisted that collecting this metadata thing she had heard about on Fox was necessary to protect her from all the terrorists out here in suburbia. She then vehemently disagreed that it was okay for President Obama to know whom she called and when, from where to where and for how long, or for him to know who those people called and when, and so forth.
Metadata is important. Ever play the game “Six Degrees of Separation”? Silly as it seems, almost anyone is indeed just six hops away from anyone else. You know a guy in Detroit who has a friend in California who has a sister who cuts hair whose client is Kevin Bacon's high school classmate's cousin. You and that cousin are connected. Publicly available information tells us that the NSA traces “three hops” from a target: A knows B, C, and D. But once C morphs into a target, C's three hops mean the NSA can poke into E, F, and G, and so forth. The Guardian calculated that if A has 50 friends, the number of targets generated under the three-hop rule would be over 1.3 million people. I really do hope that you (and everyone you know, and they know) have nothing to hide.
4) Aren’t there are already checks and balances in our system to protect us against NSA overreach?
In recent years, the government has treated the king of all checks and balances, the Constitution, like a used Kleenex. The secret Foreign Intelligence and Surveillance Court (FISA) was set up to provide judicial oversight in a classified setting to the intelligence community. Theoretically, the government is required to make a compelling case for the issuance of orders authorizing electronic and other surveillance, physical searches, and compelled production of business records. Either the government is very good at making its case, or the court has become a rubber stamp: that secret FISA court approved all 1,789 requests submitted to it in 2012.
The Patriot Act elevated a once rarely used tool, the National Security Letter (NSL), into the mainstream of government practice. National Security Letters are an extraordinary search procedure that gives the FBI the power to compel the disclosure of customer records held by banks, telephone companies, Internet service providers, public libraries, and others. These entities are prohibited, or "gagged," from telling anyone about their receipt of the NSL. Though the Justice Department itself cited abuse of the letters by the FBI in 2008, in 2012 the FBI used 15,229 National Security Letters to gather information on Americans. NSLs do not require judicial approval and the built-in gag orders prevent anyone from seeking judicial relief; indeed, most people will never even know that they were the subject of an NSL. And at the moment, the Department of Justice is trying to keep classified an 86-page court opinion that determined the government violated the spirit of federal surveillance laws and engaged in unconstitutional spying.
Director of National Intelligence James Clapper directly lied to that check-and-balance branch of the government, Congress, in a public session. (He later termed his response the “least untruthful” answer.) And we wouldn’t even know that he lied, or much of anything else about the NSA's surveillance activities here or globally, if it weren’t for one man's courage in exposing them. The government had kept it all from us for 12 years and never showed the slightest sign of reconsidering any part of that policy. Without Snowden, we would not even know what needs checking and balancing.
5) But I trust Obama (Bush, the next president) on this.
I can guess what your opinions are of the people that run the Transportation Safety Administration or the Internal Revenue Service. On what basis, then, can you conclude that the NSA or any other part of the government is any more trustworthy or competent, or any less petty?
While the government does not trust you to know what it does, thanks again to the Snowden revelations, we know that the NSA trusts some foreign governments more than you. The NSA is already sharing at least some data about Americans with, at a minimum, British intelligence and the Israelis. And who knows how those governments use it or whom they share it with downstream?
Do you really trust all of them all the time to never make mistakes or act on personal grudges or political biases? History is clear enough on what former FBI director J. Edgar Hoover did with the personal information he was able to collect on presidents, the Supreme Court, Congressional representatives, Martin Luther King, and others in the Civil Rights movement. Among other things, he used his secretly obtained information to out gay members of government. As for the NSA, so far it hasn’t even been willing to answer the question of whether it’s been spying on, surveilling, or gathering metadata on members of Congress.
Still, let's assume that Obama or the next president or the one after that will never do anything bad with your personal data. Once collected, however, that data potentially exists forever. If the NSA is to be believed, it claims to hold metadata for only five years, though it can keep copies of intercepted communications from or about U.S. citizens indefinitely if the material contains “significant intelligence” or “evidence” of crimes. The NSA can hold on to your encrypted communications as long as is needed to break the encryption. The NSA can also keep indefinitely any information gathered for “cryptanalytic, traffic analysis, or signal exploitation purposes.” Data held is available to whoever can access it in the future, using whatever technologies come to exist. Trusting anyone with such power is foolish. And as for data security, we know of at least one recent instance when more than 1.7 million highly-classified NSA documents just walked out the door.
6) But don't private companies like Facebook already have access to and share a lot of my personal data? So what's wrong with the government having it, too?
While private companies can pass your private information to the government, either willingly or under secret compulsion, there still are some important differences.
At least in theory, it’s your choice to give data to private companies. You could stop using Facebook, after all. You can’t, however, opt out of the NSA. About the worst that Facebook and the others directly want is to take your money and send you spam. While certainly no angel, Facebook can’t arrest you, put you on the No-Fly list with no recourse, seize your property or put you under investigation, audit your finances, imprison you without trial as a terrorist, or order you assassinated by drone. Facebook can't suspend your civil rights; the government can. That is a big, big difference. And by the way, a proposed solution to the metadata collection problem -- having private companies, not the NSA, hold the data -- is no solution at all. Data stored and available to NSA analysts, wherever it is, is data stored and available to NSA analysts.
7) All this surveillance is distasteful and maybe even illegal, but isn’t it necessary to keep us safe? Isn’t it for our own good? Haven’t times changed and shouldn’t we acknowledge that?
This isn’t a new argument; it’s Old Reliable. It was the argument that Hoover, Senator Joseph McCarthy, and so many others made to justify the particular acts they chose to endorse to protect us against Communism. The 1976 Church Committee Report, the first and only large-scale review of America's internal spy networks, found that between 1953 and 1973 nearly a quarter of a million first-class letters were opened and photographed in the United States by the CIA. Like the NSA, it was at that time officially forbidden to spy on Americans domestically. It nonetheless produced a computerized index of nearly one and one-half million names. At least 130,000 first class letters were also opened and photographed by the FBI between 1940 and 1966, all to keep us safe and for our own good in changing times. I doubt many people now believe any of that is what kept the Reds at bay.
The same argument was made about the necessity of domestic surveillance during the Vietnam War. Again, from the Church Report, we learned that some 300,000 individuals were indexed in a CIA computer system and that separate files were created on approximately 7,200 Americans and more than 100 domestic groups under the umbrella of Operation MH/CHAOS, designed to ferret out supposed foreign influence on the antiwar movement. Intelligence files on more than 11,000 individuals and groups were created by the Internal Revenue Service between 1969 and 1973 and tax investigations were started on the “basis of political rather than tax criteria.” I doubt many people now believe any of that is what kept the nation from descending into chaos.
The Constitution and the Bill of Rights have matured with our nation, growing to end slavery, enhance the rights of women, and do away with Jim Crow and other immoral laws. The United States survived two world wars, the Cold War, and innumerable challenges without a massive, all-inclusive destruction of civil rights. Any previous diversions -- Abraham Lincoln's suspension of habeas corpus during the Civil War is a favorite instance cited -- were short, specific, and reversed or overturned. The Founders created the Bill of Rights to address, point-by-point, the abuses of power they experienced under an oppressive British government. (Look up the never-heard-from-again Third Amendment.) A bunch of angry jihadis, real and imagined, seems a poor reason to change that system.
8) Terrorists are everywhere and dangerous.
From 1776 to 2001 the United States did not experience a terror attack anywhere close to the scale of 9/11; the worst terror attack against the United States as of 9/10, the Oklahoma City bombing, claimed 168 lives compared to some 3,000 at the Twin Towers. Since 9/11 we have not had a comparable mass-scale terror attack. No dirty bombs at the Super Bowl, no biochemical nightmares, no suicide bombers in our shopping malls or theme parks. There have been only about 20 domestic terror-related deaths since 9/11. Your chances as an American of being killed by a terrorist (the figures are for the world, not just inside the U.S.) are about 1 in 20 million. The inevitable comparison shows the odds of being struck by lightning at 1 in 5.5 million. You are, in other words, about four times more likely to be struck by lightning than killed by a terrorist. Most of the “terrorists” arrested in this country post-9/11 have been tragicomic fabrications of the FBI. 9/11 was a one-off, an aberration, so unique that its “success” stunned even Osama bin Laden. It was a single morning of disaster and cannot be the justification for everything the government wishes to do forever after.
9) We've stayed safe. Doesn't that just prove all the government efforts have worked?
No, that's called false causality. There simply is no evidence that it's true, and much to the contrary. It’s the same as believing government efforts have prevented Martian attacks or wild lions in our bedrooms. For one thing, we already know that more NSA spying would not have stopped 9/11; most of the needed information was already held by the U.S. government and was simply not properly shared or acted upon. 9/11 was a policy failure, not a matter of too-little snooping. Today, however, it remains a straw-man justification for whatever the NSA wants to do, a way of scaring you into accepting anything from the desecration of the Fourth Amendment to taking off our shoes at airport security. But the government uses this argument endlessly to promote what it wants to do. Even the NSA's talking points recommend their own people say: “I much prefer to be here today explaining these programs, than explaining another 9/11 event that we were not able to prevent.”
At the same time, despite all this intrusion into our lives and the obvious violations of the Fourth Amendment, the system completely missed the Boston bombers, two of the dumbest, least sophisticated bro terrorists on the planet. Since 9/11, we have seen some 364,000 deaths in our schools, workplaces, and homes caused by privately owned firearms, and none of the spying or surveillance identified any of the killers in advance.
Maybe we should simply stop thinking about all this surveillance as a matter of stopping terrorists and start thinking more about what it means to have a metastasized global surveillance system aimed at spying on us all, using a fake argument about the need for 100% security in return for ever more minimal privacy. So much has been justified in these years -- torture, indefinite detention, the Guantanamo penal colony, drone killings, wars, and the use of Special Operations forces as global assassination teams -- by some version of the so-called ticking time bomb scenario. It’s worth getting it through our heads: there has never been an actual ticking time bomb scenario. The bogeyman isn't real. There's no monster hiding under your bed.
10) But doesn’t protecting America come first -- before anything?
What exactly are we protecting from what? If, instead of spending trillions of dollars on spying and domestic surveillance, we had spent that same money on repairing our infrastructure and improving our schools, wouldn't we now have a safer, stronger America? Remember that famously absurd Vietnam War quote from an American officer talking about brutal attack on Ben Tre, "It became necessary to destroy the town to save it"? How can anyone say we are protecting our liberty and freedom by taking it away?
Peter Van Buren blew the whistle on State Department waste and mismanagement during Iraqi reconstruction in his first book, We Meant Well: How I Helped Lose the Battle for the Hearts and Minds of the Iraqi People. A TomDispatch regular, he writes about current events at his blog, We Meant Well. Van Buren’s next book, is Ghosts of Tom Joad: A Story of the #99Percent.
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