Shahid Buttar, Bill of Rights Defense Committee executive director, spoke to Tyler Bass at In These Times Thursday.
The Guardian has obtained a top-secret ruling by a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) Court ordering Verizon to turn over call records for millions of Americans to the FBI and the National Security Agency for a three-month period ending in mid-July. This revelation, which has sparked outrage and garnered major mainstream media attention, not only adds weight to alarms long raised by legislators and civil liberties advocates, but has also raised ire even in the most stalwart defenders of the Patriot Act—the 2001 law that enables this kind of covert court ruling and mass surveillance.
Shahid Buttar, executive director of the Bill of Rights Defense Committee, founded 12 years ago to fight the Patriot Act, expressed dismay that the surveillance of millions of Americans had been OK’ed. He told In These Times by phone, “The rule of law requires transparency. And a secret court [such as a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act court] is not a court at all. Its decision-making is not judicial or ‘jurisprudencial’ in any meaningful sense of the word. It is ultimately political.”
Read more at In These Times.
An Anonymous spokesperson claimed to have hacked Obama’s Skype by gaining access to PRISM
INTERNET — Anonymous hackers claimed to have infiltrated PRISM’s network infrastructure after gaining access to the graphical user interface which was intended only for use by federal agents in cases of terrorism. Because the PRISM system has access to a log of all Internet phone calls (voIP via Skype, Google, etc.) and video chats, Anonymous vigilante intelligence researchers quickly unearthed evidence of high-level collusion between corporate executives and government officials. “We have access to President Obama’s Skype,” said a spokesperson for Anonymous, “and we’re only afraid it’s too absurd to be true.”
Anonymous will not comment on details of the leak until the information has been confirmed and verified. This time, Anonymous is seeking input from government sources so that their final release will be seen by the public as an even-handed nonpartisan attempt at uncovering the truth. “We want to know the government’s point of view simply because it will help us build a more complete view of what’s really going on. Even clever lies, denials, and evasion help us in our pursuit of truth. We won’t release the information until we’ve run it all over with several officials and received a frank appraisal of its context.”
President Obama has scheduled a press conference for Monday, and the White House has already released a statement condemning Anonymous. “The sad irony is that PRISM doesn’t even exist, but because of hacks like these we need something like it,” said White House Press Secretary Jay Carney. “We will not cooperate with terrorists on any level, and we refuse to comment on illegally obtained confidential information.”
Despite such polemic rhetoric, the general consensus of Anonymous is that truth is still of the utmost importance. “The White House can’t order all 20 million of its employees around. Someone will always talk to us, and help us understand the truth behind these troubling but somewhat ambiguous conversations and other communications. All your PRISM are belong to us, and it’s going to be this way for as long as something like PRISM exists.”
For to this fearful mind, surely, all our science and art are but chemical processes signifying nothing of our subjective state.
SINGULARITY, Tex. — Wednesday night, it was revealed that the NSA has nearly achieved a limited omniscient point of view over the planet Earth through extra-constitutional top-secret wiretapping of all major communications hubs. The Obama administration responded Thursday morning, defending this capability as necessary in America’s ongoing struggle against terrorists. Earlier this year, a leaked document revealed the omnipotence of the Pentagon, which has been granted the power to kill any human being in any part of the globe, effectively giving the Military Industrial Complex de facto sovereignty over the planet.
Dr. Angstrom H. Troubador, Emergence Theorist, has declared that the conjunction of near-omniscience and near-omnipotence in such an entity heralds the coming of the so-called Singularity.
“Because of our limited point of view and our arrogance,” he said, via taped phone conversation, “we are like brain cells that believe they can understand the whole brain. The Singularity has passed by unnoticed even by those who have long predicted it. It was the emergence of such large ‘wholes’ as nations and corporations which allowed for the formation of this planetary ‘whole’. This is much bigger than overgrown and corrupt government practices, or mere collusion with corporations. These large powers have coalesced into a singular entity, which not only strides the planet with unmitigated force, but also sees, or can see, a great body of sense data that has very few practical limits. Perhaps it cannot recognize its Self, yet it has found cohesion — cohesion borne out of a single-minded fear of terrorism. Few individuals seem to be able to come to grips with the astonishing implications, for on the human level such power seems monstrous. Have we invented a near-God, which we are now obliged to worship at the threat of instant death by drone? Will we now look back at Atheism and Rationalism as an innocent age before the birth of such a mind as this? For to this mind, surely, all our science and art are but chemical processes signifying nothing of our subjective state.”
Monday, June 3, 2013
P.O. Box 1000, FCI Loretto
Loretto, PA 15940
Mr. John Kiriakou:
After catching the publication of one of your letters on Firedoglake, and possessing a great professional investment in the controversies surrounding whistleblowing, I thought I would take some time to reach out to you, a prisoner of conscience, in order to better understand not only the personal toll your whistleblowing has taken but also any ruminations you might be able to offer on some puzzling legal questions. I am including a copy of a recent article I contributed to In These Times magazine regarding the relationship between national security and civil liberties. I have a few questions. I would appreciate your please setting me straight should my facts be otherwise.
In early 2009 I had the opportunity to hear “Matthew Alexander” – the pseudonym of a former Air Force interrogator in Iraq with which you are no doubt familiar – speak at an American University forum and offer his opinion that waterboarding was a poor security choice because of its, he purported, ineffectiveness. Having perused your book and caught your Democracy Now! interview, I found your openness to the concept that waterboarding, torture, is effective, albeit amoral, one of the most striking facets of your perspective. Considering the resentment that techniques like waterboarding inspire from the international community, why do you suppose that individuals, such as “Alexander,” consider (short-term) effectiveness such an important part of the argument around waterboarding?
Recently, a friend pointed out to me Executive Order 13526, which you may recall, iterates that “[i]n no case shall information be classified, continue to be maintained as classified … in order to … conceal violations of law.” If the Obama administration chose to discontinue waterboarding, specifically due to it being a violation of treaty obligations, in what sense, if any, was the information you relayed in your ABC interview, daresay your book, functionally a violation of the law in the eyes of the next administration?
From my review of your plight, it would appear that your and your family suffer, in part, due to a journalist, in whom you placed your trust, having revealed Guantanamo treatment information to detainee defense attorneys. Do you in some sense now blame that journalist for any kind of ethical breach—even if that leak to defense attorneys were to help expedite justice for the indefinitely held?
Also, I was curious as to your opinion on the meaning of extant whistleblower protections, given that what constitutes “wrongdoing” by authorities, higher-ups inherently bears some degree of subjectivity. What is conscience, if not sublimely subjective?
I hope you are well. If you wish, in replying, feel free to advise me on the nature of your treatment and its level of fairness, as you wait out what I’m sure will be arduous months. Thank you.
Portrait of Kiriakou, by artist unknown, taken from Kiriakou’s Twitter account
In January we reported on John Kiriakou, the CIA officer who recently started his 30-month stint in federal prison—for what he said was acting on pangs of conscience, not endangering national security, as judges and prosecutors would have it. Brian Sonenstein, at Firedoglake’s Dissenter blog, received a prison letter, and we’ve taken the time to transcribe it all over again to include what was crossed out in the Dissenter text: an accusation the incarcerated father of five seemingly began to level at the Justice Department, not just the “Bureau of Prisons,” for his mistreatment.
An address to write to Kiriakou is at the bottom of the letter.
“Letter From Loretto”
Greetings from the Federal Correctional Institution at Loretto, Pennsylvania. I arrived here on February 28, 2013 to serve a 30-month sentence for violating the Intelligence Identities Protection Act of 1982. At least that’s what the government wants people to believe. In truth, this is my punishment for blowing the whistle on the CIA’s illegal torture program and for telling the public that torture was official U.S. government policy. But that’s a different story. The purpose of this letter is to tell you about prison life.
At my formal sentencing hearing in January, the judge, the prosecutors, and my attorneys all agreed that I would serve my sentence in Loretto’s Federal Work Camp. When I arrived, however, much to my surprise, the Corrections Officer (CO, or “hack”) who processed me said that the Justice Department Bureau of Prisons had deemed me a “threat to the public safety,” and so I would do serve the entire sentence in the actual prison, rather than the camp.
Processing took about an hour and included fingerprinting, a mug shot (my third after the FBI and the Marshals), my fourth DNA sample, and a quite comprehensive strip search. I was given a pair of baggy brown pants, two brown shirts, two pairs of underwear, two pairs of socks, and a pair of cheap sandals. My own clothes were boxed and mailed to my wife. The CO then led me to a steel bunk in “Central Unit” and walked away. I didn’t know what to do, so I took a nap.
My cell is more like a cubicle made out of concrete block. Built to hold four men, mine holds six. Most others hold eight. My cellmates include two Dominicans serving 24- and 20-year sentences for drugs, a Mexican serving 15 years for drugs, a Puerto Rican serving [7 ½ years ?] 7 ½ years for drug conspiracy, and the former auditor of Cuyahoga County, Ohio, who’s doing [unintelligible] years a long sentence for corruption. They’re all decent guys and we actually enjoy each other’s company.
The prison population is much like you might expect. Loretto has 1,369 prisoners. (I never call myself an “inmate.” I’m a prisoner.) About 50% are black, 30% are Hispanic, and 20% are white. Of the white prisoners, most are pedophiles with personal stories that would make you sick to your stomach. The rest of the whites prisoners are here for drugs, except for a dozen or so who ran Ponzi schemes. Of the 1,369 prisoners, 40 have college degrees and 6 of us have master’s degrees. The GED program is robust. (Bust when I volunteered to teach a class my “counsellor” [sic] shouted, “Dammit, Kiriakou! If I wanted you to teach a fucking class, I’d ask you to teach a fucking class!”) I’m a janitor in the chapel. I make $5.25 a month.
The cafeteria, or “chow hall” was the most difficult experience of my first few days. Where should I sit? On my first day, two Aryans, completed covered in tattoos, walked up to me and asked, “Are you a pedophile?” Nope, I said. “Are you a fag?” Nope. “Do you have good paper?” I didn’t know what this meant. I turned out that I had to get a copy of my formal sentencing documents to prove that I wasn’t a child molester. I did that, and was welcomed by the Aryans, who aren’t really Aryans, but more accurately self-important hillbillies.
The cafeteria is very formally divided. There is a table for the Aryans whites with good paper, a section of a table for the Native Americans, a section of a table for people belonging to a certain Italian-American stereotypical “subculture,” two tables for the Muslims, four tables for the pedophiles, and all the remaining tables for the blacks and Hispanics. We don’t all eat at the same time, but each table is more-or-less reserved as I’ve described.
Violence hasn’t been much of a problem since I arrived. There have been maybe a half-dozen fights, almost always over what television show to watch. The choices are pretty much set in stone between ESPN, MTV, VH1, BET and Univision. I haven’t watched TV since I got here. It’s just not worth the trouble. Otherwise, violence isn’t a problem. Most of the guys in here have worked their way down to a low-security prison from a medium or a maximum, and they don’t want to go back.
I’ve also had some luck in this regard. My reputation preceded me, and a rumor got started that I was a CIA hit man. The Aryans whispered that I was a “Muslim hunter,” but the Muslims, on the strength of my Arabic language skills and a well-timed statement of support from Louis Farrakhan have lauded me as a champion of Muslim human rights. Meanwhile, the Italians have taken a liking to me because I’m patriotic, as they are, and I have a visceral dislike of the FBI, which they do as well. I have good relations with the blacks because I’ve helped several of them write commutation appeals or letters to judges and I don’t charge anything for it. And the Hispanics respect me because my cellmates, who represent a myriad of Latin drug gangs, have told them to. So far, so good.
The only thing close to a problem that I’ve had has been from the Cos. When I first arrived, after about four days, I heard an announcement that I was to dread: “Kiriakou – report to the lieutenant’s office immediately.” Very quickly, I gave my wife’s phone number to a friend and asked him to call her if, for some reason, I was sent to the SHU (Special Housing Unit) more commonly known as the hole, or solitary confinement. I hadn’t done anything wrong, but this kind of thing happens all the time.
When I got to the lieutenant’s office, I was ushered into the office of SIS, the Special Investigative Service. This is the prison version of every police department’s Internal Affairs Division detective bureau. I saw on a desk a copy of my book, The Reluctant Spy, as well as DVD copies of all the documentaries I’ve been in. The CO showed me a picture of an Arab. “Do you know this guy,” he asked me. I responded that I had met him a day earlier, but our conversation was limited to “nice to meet you.” Well, the CO said, this was the uncle of the Times Square bomber, and after we had met, he called a number in Pakistan, reporting the meeting, and was told to kill me. I told the CO that I could kill the guy with my thumb. He’s about 5’4” and 125 pounds compared to my 6’1” and 250 pounds. The CO said they were looking to ship him out, so I should stay away from him. But the more I thought about it, the more this made no sense. Why would the uncle of the Times Square bomber be in a low-security prison? He should be in a maximum. So I asked my Muslim friends to check him out. It turns out that he’s an Iraqi Kurd from Buffalo, NY. He was the imam of a mosque there, which also happened to be the mosque where the “Lackawana [sic] 7” worshipped [sic]. (The Lackawana 7 were charged with conspiracy to commit terrorism.) The FBI pressured him to testify against his parishioners. He refused and got five years for obstruction of justice. The ACLU and several religious freedom groups have rallied to his defense. He had nothing to do with terrorism.
In the meantime, SIS told him that I had made a call to Washington after we met, and that I had been instructed to kill him! We both laughed at the ham-handedness by which SIS tried to get us to attack each other. If we had, we would have spent the rest of our sentences in the [unintelligible] SHU – solitary. Instead, we’re friendly, we exchange greetings in Arabic and English, and we chat.
The only other problem I’ve had with the COs was about two weeks after I arrived. I get a great deal of mail here in prison (and I answer ever letter I get.) Monday through Friday, prisoners gather in front of the unit CO’s office for mail call. One female CO butchers my name every time she says it. So when she does mail call, I hear “Kirkaow, Kiriloo, Teriyaki” and a million other variations. One day after mail call I passed her in the hall. She stopped me and said, “Are you the motherfucker whose name I can’t pronounce?” I responded “Ki-ri-AH-koo.” She said, “How about if I just call you Fuckface?” I just walked away and a friend I was walking with said, “Classy.” I said to him, “White trash is more like it.” And hour later, four COs descended on both of our cells, trashing all of our worldly possessions in my first “shake-down.” Lesson learned: COs can treat us like subhumans but we have to show them faux respect even when it’s not earned.
I’ll write about COs more next time. If you’d like to drop me a line, I can be reached at John Kiriakou 79637-083, P.O. Box 1000, FCI Loretto, Loretto, PA 15940.
Best regards from Loretto,
William Binney, former NSA analyst, sits in the offices of Democracy Now! in New York City during a 2012 discussion about the federal government and their access to citizens’ private information.
(Jacob Applebaum / Wikimedia Commons)
It’s been a frightening few weeks for journalists concerned with protecting their sources—and for Americans concerned with protecting their privacy. On May 13, the Associated Press revealed that the Justice Department secretly obtained two months of reporters’ call logs. Citing the Espionage Act, which prohibits the disclosure of classified information, the Justice Department had subpoenaed Verizon Wireless for the call logs of more than 20 AP phone lines. Within a week The Washington Post reported that in 2010 the DOJ had subpoenaed emails from Fox News’ chief Washington correspondent James Rosen’s personal Gmail, also with the motive of prosecuting leakers.
The revelations have caused a furor over whether national security interests should trump civil liberties. AP President and CEO Gary Pruitt called the DOJ surveillance an “unprecedented intrusion.” Michael Clemente, Fox News executive vice president of news, released a statement calling the DOJ’s surveillance of Rosen “chilling” and an “outrage.” He wrote, “We will unequivocally defend [Rosen's] right to operate as a member of what up until now has always been a free press.”
And a Pew survey showed a plurality of voters, 44 percent, disapproved of the DOJ obtaining AP phone records. Thirty-six percent, on the other hand, approved of the department’s obtaining the records.
What’s been largely overlooked, however, is that, subpoenaed call logs aside, the government may be recording your actual phone calls. And your emails. And all that data may be a mouse click, not a subpoena, away.
Read more at In These Times.
WASHINGTON–Joe Biden bargains away civil rights to defense contractors.
This government doesn’t love you. It doesn’t want to protect you.
This government wants your vote so they can fucking hurt you. They lie to you, making vague statements like you don’t fucking know better, like you don’t fucking know any big words, so they can take your shit away and put it in their bank vaults because they’re protecting their sick friends who make fucked gambles on your life savings so they can buy child prostitutes at home, and abroad.
This government, my friends, has a thousand tentacles for every smiling face, all wanting to rape you, looking you in the eyes, and telling you, “It’s okay.”
This government sends out agents to chat you up, make you feel good, like you’re better than your peers, like you’re better than the trash you write among, like you make better choices, you’re a clearer thinker, you’re a smarter breed, than those fucking criminals we know you all walk behind.
This government is your friend, your father, it makes decisions for your body, rapes you with ultrasound wands, says you can’t get married or you’ll break the broken sacred tax code used for secret murders you can not stop. This government holds you against your will, with your head in a dark bag, as it waterboards you for information you sincerely do not wish to give up. This government is worse than your abusive Big Brother of 1984.
This government is just plain old, fucking, Big.
Michael Sheehan demonstrates how he holds the puppet strings.
The War became permanent Friday after senior Obama administration officials said they have “no intention” of “ever stopping” the hugely successful ‘War on Terror.’
Assistant Defense Secretary Michael Sheehan said they are “pre-emptively” calling any future administration that tries to stop the Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) “treasonous” for aiding whoever the enemy is by then.
“We don’t know who in the shit we want to shoot at next, but by God I hope to hell it’s some Jihadi-ass sand people,” said Sheehan, adding, “I don’t fuck with no Russians.”
Sheehan warned against any future acts of Congress or government that dare to try and stop the permanent war before it is over.
“We have gone forward with legislation that automatically detains any leader, indefinitely, who tries to end this horrifying, successful permanent war policy,” Sheehan said.
Sheehan was stupefyingly candid with reporters Friday, saying the war has already become so profitable for his friends, it would be “a death wish” to American freedom of flow of capital into his pockets to end it too soon.
“We are hesitant to put a timetable on the War on Terror. I don’t know if terrorism is EVER gonna go away—not while it’s profitable, anyway,” said Sheehan.
Sheehan said he no longer fears retaliation from a culture he describes as being “indoctrinated” into the police state from early childhood on up.
“Your faggot kids are worse than you CNN-watching couchtards,” said Sheehan. “I mean, they’re too afraid now to even skip class, and that’s where they’re taught to join the military and become heroes like in them vidyagames they’re always playing.”
Sheehan said America’s going to have to learn to tighten its belt while all this war mongerin’ gets under way in meaningless countries like the Congo and Syria. Sheehan said he has hopes, however, that the economy can still support “a whole shitload” of profitable wars he has planned.
“We still have the whole education budget—and NASA! For fuck’s sake, do you realize how much money we are wasting on Medicare right now?” Sheehan said, looking up at the ceiling. “Good gosh-a-mighty, we could even cut back on infrastructure, and just let the whole fuckin’ place rot.”
A leading watchdog group named Renzi, above, as one of the top 20 most corrupt congressmen for three straight years. (Photo: Wikipedia)
Opening arguments in the Tucson trial of former Arizona Representative Rick Renzi (R-AZ) began Wednesday with federal prosecution characterizing Renzi as having engaged in “lying and stealing … taking advantage of people” and having “sold out his office.” Meanwhile Renzi counsel Kelly Kramer contended that his client “didn’t extort anybody … solicit any bribes” or “defraud anyone.” Charged with 32 counts of conspiracy, fraud and extortion, if convicted the three-term former congressman from Arizona’s 1st District could face up to 400 years of prison.
Dennis Wagner writes at The Arizona Republic:
In 2005 Resolution Copper Mining wanted surface rights to an ore-laden national forest area near [the town of] Superior. Another investment group involving former Gov. Bruce Babbitt [(D)] was seeking to trade private conservation land for potential development properties owned by the government near Phoenix.
In response to their request, Renzi allegedly replied, “No Sandlin land, no deal.”
“That’s extortion,” said Justice Department attorney David Harbach Wednesday.
Read more at Opposing Views.
Terrorists mourn loss of terror comrades.
“It worked in Pakistan. It’ll work here.”
The drone program is here to protect your children from terrorism, and serve this country. Do you want your precious, innocent child to be abducted and groomed into a Punjabi-loving terrorist? Or do you want little Timmy to grow up to be a god damn PATRIOT?
Ask yourself, America, if you wouldn’t be satisfied to exchange a little freedom for the terrorists for the added benefits of security for you and your loved ones. Live without fear of terrorism, America, for the US Government is here to help you get over those fears.
We will force you to love us.
American forces are waiting outside your door, and they’re demanding that you let them in, to help you. Let us help you. Won’t you please donate your dignity for just pennies a day to assist YOUR GOVERNMENT in helping you? Help us help you find peace in a perpetual state of holy war against us. The Jihad is upon us now, more than ever before, and you have a unique opportunity to “change” the world for the better.
Invite change into your home today. Register yourself online. Donate your guns to the local police department, so we can turn them on the true terrorists, you.
American lives are at risk, and you can help us put a stop to the influx of unAmerican activity going on in this country because of people like Mexicans, A-rabs, and other breeds of sand people we could all live without. America, why didn’t you listen? You never listen…
This is your final warning.
This message brought to you proudly by Lebal Drocer, Inc – sponsor of many fine wars of aggression to uphold the ruling elite who know what’s right for you and your pathetic family.
“I mean. What. Did you masturbate those kids out at the last minute?”