Category Archives: U.S. federal agencies

Police State USA and the NDAA: Creating American Terrorists

Police State USA and the NDAA: Creating American Terrorists

by Philip Giraldi

Global Research, Council of the National Interest, January 22, 2012

Defenders of the recently passed National Defense Authorization Act, which declares the entire world to be a “battlefield” against terrorism and authorizes the U.S. military to detain indefinitely anyone suspected of being a terrorism supporter, have claimed that the White House will only use its new power carefully and with due process. Opponents note that the White House has never hesitated to use any new authority, no matter how outrageous, and that the trend of law enforcement and security agencies is to expand on powers granted, not to rein them in or limit them.

The track record of the Obama administration on civil liberties is particularly bad, as it has broadened its definition of war powers, reneged on its promise to close Guantanamo Prison, and supported numerous dubious terrorism prosecutions. It has also become adept at silencing critics through the repeated exploitation of the state-secrets privilege, which effectively dismisses any case accusing the government of abuse or malfeasance.

So let us accept that the government now has the power to send a team of military police to anyone’s home in any state in the Union and can demand that that person surrender without any recourse to a lawyer or judicial due process. The military can then detain the individual incommunicado for any length of time and can presumably send him to Guantanamo for special confinement, claiming that the reason for the detention is support of terrorism, which can be almost anything, including a letter to the editor of the local paper complaining about the goonery of the Transportation Security Administration. Once in detention, the suspect only has such options as are granted to him by the military. He cannot see a lawyer, cannot invoke habeas corpus or other constitutional privileges, cannot confront any witnesses against him, and cannot challenge any information prejudicial to him even if it is hearsay or fabricated. In other words, the accused can be arrested for no reason and held indefinitely without any protections that enable him to push back against being detained. Most people would consider a criminal justice system that permits such detention ipso facto a police state.

Now let us accept for a moment that the White House and Justice Department are well-intentioned and will not use their newfound authority to detain anyone in a questionable fashion. The expanded powers will only be used to detain foreign terrorists who are caught in flagrante, more or less. That would be fine, perhaps, but for one small problem. Because the definition of a terrorism supporter has become enormously elastic, it can be stretched to include anything. If the whole world has become a battlefield, speaking out or acting against powerful vested interests can be dangerous because those interests can turn around and exploit the system to label one a terrorist. And once you are labeled a terrorist, your constitutional rights vanish and you might as well sit around and wait for that knock on the door — or, rather, for the door to be kicked in.

That is what House Resolution 3131 is all about. It is titled, in part, “To direct the secretary of state to submit a report on whether any support organization that participated in the planning or execution of the recent Gaza flotilla attempt should be designated as a foreign terrorist organization….” The bill then goes on to assert that the two flotillas in 2010 and 2011 opposing Israel’s blockade of Gaza were terrorist actions. But the only problem is that it relies on information from the Israeli Intelligence and Information Center to do so, meaning that Congress is deferring to a foreign government organization to make a judgment that directly impacts that selfsame government. And the Israelis are not shy about calling someone a terrorist, if it suits the narrative they are trying to present. They describe a Turkish organization involved in the first flotilla in 2010, known by its acronym IHH, as linked to al-Qaeda and Hamas based on evidence that no one else in the world accepts, apart from Congress, that is. The Turkish vessel Mavi Marmara was clearly aiming to take on the Israeli navy, armed to the teeth with “100 metal rods, 200 knives, 50 wooden clubs, and a telescopic sight for a gun.” In reality, the rods were torn from the ships rails when the heavily armed Israeli commandos boarded at night from helicopters. The knives were pocket knives and utility knives from the vessel’s galley, and the clubs were broken from deck chairs to repel the attackers. I will not speculate on the telescopic sight, but there was not a real weapon anywhere on board. The Israelis killed nine Turks, shooting several in the head at close range, including an American citizen. Congress has yet to express its outrage at the Israeli action — quite the contrary — and Hillary Clinton’s State Department has been silent, apart from warning the subsequent 2011 flotilla that the American embassy would do nothing to protect U.S. citizens aboard.

Regarding the second flotilla of July 2011, HR 3131 goes on to state that “Greek authorities boarded ships and took into custody several individuals, including Captain John Klusmire of the ship Audacity of Hope as it violated Greek Coast Guard orders by setting sail without permission.” Klusmire is a U.S. citizen who was not breaking any American law, it should be noted. He was later released by the Greek authorities.

The bill concludes with its “Sense of Congress,” surely an oxymoron if there ever was one: “the secretary of state shall submit … a report on whether any support organization that participated in the planning or execution of the recent Gaza flotilla attempt should be designated as a foreign terrorist organization … [to] include information on … the sources of any logistical, technical, or financial support for the Gaza flotilla ships, including the Audacity of Hope, that were to set sail from Greece on July 1, 2011.”

I personally know a number of organizations that provided material or financial support to one or both of the Gaza flotillas. I also personally know that none of those organizations support violence against the state of Israel and that the people behind them believed then and now that they were exercising their constitutional rights in speaking out and acting nonviolently against what they and most of the world regard as an illegal and immoral blockade of Gaza. But, if the bill passes in Congress, a bureaucrat in the U.S. Department of State will now be able to call those people and their associated groups “terrorists,” and Hillary Clinton will be able to confirm that judgment to Congress. Next step is the MPs at the door.

If people cannot see what a slippery slope all of this is, they not thinking very clearly. HR 3131 is admittedly still sitting in congressional committee, but it has some very powerful sponsors, including Ileana Ros-Lehtinen of Florida, who heads the Foreign Affairs Committee and is a rabid supporter of Israel. The bill not only indicts whole groups of people exercising their constitutional rights and labels them “terrorists,” it even names one American who was, at the time, breaking no U.S. law. Klusmire’s only crime was to “set sail without permission” — in Greece. It was clearly a bogus charge manufactured to suit by a vulnerable Greek government desperately needing international loans and under pressure from the United States and Israel.

Klusmire’s real crime was to oppose a powerful interest group, the Israel Lobby. To do so these days is to invite a charge of terrorism support with the option of being arrested by the Pentagon and locked up somewhere at the pleasure of the president of the United States. How low have we sunk, Mr. Obama? You portray yourself as a man of honor and a defender of constitutionalism, but you have opened the gates to lawlessness and authoritarian rule. And even if you are as benign as you depict yourself, you have provided the legal tools for those who might follow you — the Gingriches, the Perrys, the Bachmanns, and the Santorums — to possibly do much, much worse.

Philip Giraldi is the executive director of the Council for the National Interest and a recognized authority on international security and counterterrorism issues. He is a former CIA counter-terrorism specialist and military intelligence officer who served eighteen years overseas in Turkey, Italy, Germany, and Spain. He was Chief of Base in Barcelona from 1989 to 1992 designated as the Agency’s senior officer for Olympic Games support.

The Suicide of Liberty : The Transformation of the US into a Police State

The Suicide of Liberty : The Transformation of the US into a Police State

Review of Pat Buchanan’s latest book

By Dr. Paul Craig Roberts

Global Research, October 12, 2011

Pat Buchanan’s latest book, Suicide of a Superpower, raises the question whether America will survive to 2025. The question might strike some readers as unduly pessimistic and others as optimistic. It is unclear whether the US, as we have known it, will survive its next presidential election.

Consider the candidates. Liberal law professor Jonathan Turley, who was likely to have been an early Obama supporter, now wonders if Obama is “the most disastrous president in our history.” Despite Obama’s failure, the Republicans can’t come up with anyone any better. One Republican candidate admires Alan Greenspan, the Federal Reserve chairman who gave us financial deregulation and the financial crisis. Another is ready for a preemptive strike on Iran. Yet another thinks the Soviet Union is a grave threat to the United States. None of these clueless dopes are capable of presiding over a government.

Anyone who has been paying attention knows that the “superpower” is over-extended financially and militarily. The US is currently involved in six conflicts with Syria, Lebanon, Iran, and Pakistan on the waiting list for full fledged military attacks and perhaps invasions. Russia is being encircled with missile bases, and war plans are being drawn up for China.

Where is the money going to come from when the country’s debt is bursting at the seams, the economy is in decline, and unemployment on the rise?

Washington thinks that the money can simply be printed. However, enough has already been printed that the rest of the world is already suspicious of the dollar and its role as reserve currency.

As John Williams has said, the world could begin dumping dollar assets at any time.

I don’t think we can dismiss Buchanan’s concern as pessimistic.

Buchanan documents his concern across a wide front. For example, the combination of mass immigration and its consequent demographics together with the “diversity cult” means the end of “white America” and the transformation of what once was the dominant population into a disadvantaged underclass.

Buchanan cites a Wall Street Journal article by Ron Unz published 12 years ago. Unz found that white American gentiles who would be considered Christian are dramatically under-represented in America’s elite universities, which provide the elites who dominate government, business, and the professions.

Unz reported that white Americans who comprised 70% of the US population made up only 25% of Harvard’s enrollment and that the composition of the student bodies at Yale Princeton Columbia, Berkeley, and Stanford was much the same.

Asians who comprised 3% of the US population comprised one-fifth of Harvard’s enrollment, and Jews, who comprised 2.5% of the population comprised between one-fourth and one-third of Harvard’s student body.

As Buchanan puts it, the country’s native-born majority has relegated its own progeny to the trash bin of history.

Buchanan doesn’t address the question whether the rest of the world will miss white America. Considering the endless wars and astounding hypocrisy and immorality associated with white America since the collapse of the Soviet Union two decades ago, the world is likely to cheer when power slips from the hands of what Leonard Jeffries termed the “ice people,” that is, people without souls or feelings for others. Americans are so wrapped up in the myth of their “exceptionalism” that they are oblivious to the world’s opinion. http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2011/10/11/the_myth_of_american_exceptionalism

American soft power, once a foundation of US influence, has been squandered, another reason the “superpower” status is crumbling.

Financial deregulation and the consequent financial crisis, collapse of the real estate market, and evictions of millions of Americans from their homes have greatly dimmed America’s economic prospects. However, as Buchanan points out, the offshoring of US jobs and industry under the guise of “free trade” has damaged the middle class, halted the growth in consumer purchasing power and left many college graduates without careers.

In the first decade of the 21st century, the Bush/Cheney years, America lost one-third of its manufacturing jobs. During this decade, Michigan lost 48% of its manufacturing jobs, New Jersey lost 39%, and New York and Ohio lost 38%.

During this decade, the US incurred trade deficits totaling $6.2 trillion, of which $3.8 trillion is in manufactured goods. In other words, imports of manufactured goods are a larger cause of the trade deficit than oil imports. Early in the decade the US lost its trade surplus in advanced technology products. In recent years the US has run up $300 billion in trade deficits in advanced technology products with China alone. As Macy Block’s site, Economy in Crisis, documents, foreigners have used their huge dollar earnings to buy up American companies, with the consequence that foreign earnings on US investments now exceed US earnings abroad, thus worsening the current account deficit.

Although Buchanan makes many points, this is not his best book. He becomes lost in old arguments that no longer make sense, such as the claim that the poor vote away the property of the rich, and he ignores the destruction of the US Constitution in the name of “the war on terror,” which has transformed the US into a police state.

Conservatives are stuck in the canard that democracy is a tool used by the poor to provide themselves with benefits at the expense of the rich. Buchanan cites statistics of those on welfare, food stamps, Medicaid, and so on as evidence that the rich are being plundered. Yet, the facts are the opposite. The distribution of income has completely reversed since the 1960s.

In the 1960s, the top 1 percent received 11% of the income gains, and the bottom 90% received 65%, leaving 24% of income gains for the 9% of richest Americans just below the top 1%. In the first decade of the 21st century, these figures have reversed. The top 1% receive 65% of the income gains and the bottom 90% receive 12%, leaving 23% for those rich Americans in the 91-99 percentile.
http://www.cbpp.org/cms/index.cfm?fa=view&id=2908

If recent history (Yugoslavia, Soviet Empire) is a guide, Buchanan is probably correct that a country whose population consists of diverse ethnic and racial groups is less likely to share a common interest and enjoy political stability. However real this threat, it is not comparable to the threat to American identity of a destroyed Constitution.

The Bush/Cheney/Obama regimes have shredded the constitutional protections that gave American citizens their liberty. By dictate alone, the executive branch has acquired the power, prohibited by the Constitution, to incarcerate citizens indefinitely without presenting evidence and obtaining conviction. According to the US government, a secret executive branch panel now exists that has acquired from somewhere the unaccountable power to put citizens on a list to be assassinated without due process of law merely on the basis of an unproven government assertion. How does this differ from Stalinist Russia and Gestapo Germany?

The transformation of the US into a police state has been achieved quickly and with scant protest. Congress and the courts are silent. The media is silent, as are the law schools and bar associations. Out of 535 US Senators and Representatives, only Ron Paul has protested the destruction of liberty.

Buchanan is concerned that America might not survive until 2025. Instead, shouldn’t we be concerned that the American police state could last that long? Shouldn’t we be worried that the police state will survive yet another presidential election, or even one more day?

White House proposal would ease FBI access to records of Internet activity

White House proposal would ease FBI access to records of Internet activity

By Ellen Nakashima
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, July 29, 2010; A01

The Obama administration is seeking to make it easier for the FBI to compel companies to turn over records of an individual’s Internet activity without a court order if agents deem the information relevant to a terrorism or intelligence investigation.

The administration wants to add just four words — “electronic communication transactional records” — to a list of items that the law says the FBI may demand without a judge’s approval. Government lawyers say this category of information includes the addresses to which an Internet user sends e-mail; the times and dates e-mail was sent and received; and possibly a user’s browser history. It does not include, the lawyers hasten to point out, the “content” of e-mail or other Internet communication.

But what officials portray as a technical clarification designed to remedy a legal ambiguity strikes industry lawyers and privacy advocates as an expansion of the power the government wields through so-called national security letters. These missives, which can be issued by an FBI field office on its own authority, require the recipient to provide the requested information and to keep the request secret. They are the mechanism the government would use to obtain the electronic records.

Stewart A. Baker, a former senior Bush administration Homeland Security official, said the proposed change would broaden the bureau’s authority. “It’ll be faster and easier to get the data,” said Baker, who practices national security and surveillance law. “And for some Internet providers, it’ll mean giving a lot more information to the FBI in response to an NSL.”

Many Internet service providers have resisted the government’s demands to turn over electronic records, arguing that surveillance law as written does not allow them to do so, industry lawyers say. One senior administration government official, who would discuss the proposed change only on condition of anonymity, countered that “most” Internet or e-mail providers do turn over such data.

To critics, the move is another example of an administration retreating from campaign pledges to enhance civil liberties in relation to national security. The proposal is “incredibly bold, given the amount of electronic data the government is already getting,” said Michelle Richardson, American Civil Liberties Union legislative counsel.

The critics say its effect would be to greatly expand the amount and type of personal data the government can obtain without a court order. “You’re bringing a big category of data — records reflecting who someone is communicating with in the digital world, Web browsing history and potentially location information — outside of judicial review,” said Michael Sussmann, a Justice Department lawyer under President Bill Clinton who now represents Internet and other firms.

Privacy concerns
The use of the national security letters to obtain personal data on Americans has prompted concern. The Justice Department issued 192,500 national security letters from 2003 to 2006, according to a 2008 inspector general report, which did not indicate how many were demands for Internet records. A 2007 IG report found numerous possible violations of FBI regulations, including the issuance of NSLs without having an approved investigation to justify the request. In two cases, the report found, agents used NSLs to request content information “not permitted by the [surveillance] statute.”

One issue with both the proposal and the current law is that the phrase “electronic communication transactional records” is not defined anywhere in statute. “Our biggest concern is that an expanded NSL power might be used to obtain Internet search queries and Web histories detailing every Web site visited and every file downloaded,” said Kevin Bankston, a senior staff attorney with the Electronic Frontier Foundation, which has sued AT&T for assisting the Bush administration’s warrantless surveillance program.

He said he does not object to the government obtaining access to electronic records, provided it has a judge’s approval.

Senior administration officials said the proposal was prompted by a desire to overcome concerns and resistance from Internet and other companies that the existing statute did not allow them to provide such data without a court-approved order. “The statute as written causes confusion and the potential for unnecessary litigation,” Justice Department spokesman Dean Boyd said. “This clarification will not allow the government to obtain or collect new categories of information, but it seeks to clarify what Congress intended when the statute was amended in 1993.”

The administration has asked Congress to amend the statute, the Electronic Communications Privacy Act, in the fiscal year that begins in October.

Administration officials noted that the act specifies in one clause that Internet and other companies have a duty to provide electronic communication transactional records to the FBI in response to a national security letter.

But the next clause specifies only four categories of basic subscriber data that the FBI may seek: name, address, length of service and toll billing records. There is no reference to electronic communication transactional records.

Same as phone records?

Technical jargon for undercover activities

This FBI Press Release exemplifies the use of technical terms regarding undercover activities, including:

http://www.fbi.gov/pressrel/pressrel06/oigreport052406.htm

FBI Press Release
For Immediate Release
May 24, 2006

Washington D.C.
FBI National Press Office
(202) 324-3691

FBI RESPONDS TO OIG REPORT ON THE HANDLING OF FORMER ASSET LEUNG

Washington, D.C. – The FBI responded today to the release of an Office of the Inspector General’s (OIG) Report entitled “A Review of the FBI's Handling and Oversight of FBI Asset Katrina Leung."

The FBI appreciates the Inspector General’s continued interest and review of the human source program, including the case of former FBI Asset Katrina Leung. The FBI acknowledges that the conduct involved — during the years 1982-2000 — was in violation of FBI policy and exposed weaknesses in the FBI?s asset program. In its review, the IG offered 11 recommendations to improve FBI oversight and management of assets, seven of which the FBI has already instituted either in whole or in part. With these steps the FBI has already moved to address the systemic issues identified by the OIG that enabled Smith and Leung to escape detection and avoid accountability.

The FBI has made significant progress in reforming and strengthening its management and oversight of human sources. These steps were spurred by the discovery that Special Agent James J. Smith had been engaged in an inappropriate relationship with Leung. Shortly after that discovery, Director Mueller ordered a thorough investigation and review not only of the allegations regarding Leung and Smith but also of the counterintelligence asset program. This comprehensive internal review of the FBI's human source program led to a change in the way the program is managed and the way assets and the information is validated. As a result of its own review, which began in May 2002 , the FBI committed to several initiatives to identify and correct deficiencies in the China Program. Many of these reforms put in place as a result of the Leung matter and related to asset validation and handling in the China Program are now being adopted throughout the FBI. We believe these reforms continue to enhance the FBI?s Counterintelligence program and will help the FBI avoid serious asset problems in the future.

Although there is inherent risk in the use of human sources, the FBI has taken significant steps to improve oversight and to minimize these risks. These steps include standardizing source operating procedures and the asset validation and review process. For instance, standard operation procedure mandates that once an individual is designated as an asset, his or her files must be reviewed by Supervisory Special Agents every 90 days. In some case this review takes place every 60 days. As part of this review process, payments to human sources for services or expenses are closely monitored by supervisors and executive managers in the field and at FBI headquarters. Asset validation and review is an active and ongoing process. In addition, FBI Headquarters conducts inspections and on-site assessments of all field office human source programs.

To provide additional oversight, the Attorney General established the Confidential Informant Review Committee (CIRC) comprised of Justice Department (including a Deputy Attorney General for the Criminal Division and an Assistant U.S. Attorney) and FBI officials. The CIRC provides oversight in the use of human sources, including criminal informants being operated for more than six years.

We appreciate the Inspector General’s review of this program, and we will continue to incorporate suggested reforms that will help better ensure the success and continued improvement of the FBI?s human source program.

# # #

The use of the terms ‘assets’ and ‘handlers’ in FBI documents

http://www.usdoj.gov/oig/testimony/0609/index.htm

Statement of Glenn A. Fine, Inspector General, U.S. Department of Justice before the House Appropriations Committee, Subcommittee on Science, the Departments of State, Justice, and Commerce, and Related Agencies, concerning

“Oversight of the Federal Bureau of Investigation?

September 14, 2006

* * * * *

[The use of the technical term