The Voice of the White House
Washington, D.C. February 13, 2017: “From a CIA study of the Internet and its various aspects, we quote the following:
- Internet access can be controlled or its use directed according to the server configuration, thus creating an excellent disinformation weapon. In previous times, a national media report that was deemed to be offensive or problematical to the government could be censored, or removed at governmental request. Now, however, the government cannot control the present Internet in the same manner in which it has previously controlled the public media. The Internet permits uncensored and unfiltered versions of events, personalities and actions to be disseminated worldwide in seconds and the so-called “blogs,” chat rooms and websites are almost completely uncontrolled and uncontrollable. This unfortunate situation permits versions of events to find a far wider and far more instantaneous audience than the standard print and, to a lesser degree, the television mediums ever could.
- 2. The Internet can be used to send coded messages that cannot be interdicted by any government or law-enforcement agency. If man has devised a code or protection program that is supposed to be unbreakable, it is axiomatic that another man can break it. Even the DoD’s algorithmic field codes were easily broken by the Russian GRU during the initial stages of the Iraqi war and it is now known that CIA/USIA codes were also broken, allowing hostile entities to read Top Secret messages. In unfortunately many cases, individual computer experts are more skilled than their counterparts in the government and while, indeed, their encryptions can be broken, they can only be done so by exerting a great deal of effort and when this happens, new encryptions and firewalls can be almost instantly reerected.
3.The Internet can be utilized to steal and disseminate highly damaging, sensitive government or business data. Although highly sensitive official websites are routinely put under strict control, it seems that intruders always seem to succeed in breaking into them. Once this has happened, highly sensitive, and even damaging, information can, and has, been removed and put out on the Internet without any form of control
4.The Internet permits anti-government groups or individuals with few resources to offset the efforts of far larger, and far better funded, government and its national media sources. This is known as the ‘David and Goliath’ syndrome and is a subject of constant concern to all government agencies. Hitherto secure systems can be broken into, information can be extracted or the site (s) can be infected with malicious viruses and destroyed. All it takes to do this is a relatively inexpensive computer, programs that unfortunately are available to individuals seeking them. The best and most effective manner to deal with this kind of threat is the dummy site, designed to lure potential dissidents into joining with it. Skillful questioning of new members has been known to develop important leads to be followed up by conventional law enforcement methods.
5.The Internet can be used to create serious disruptions of governmental agencies and the business communities. It is known that certain dissidents, either as individuals or as groups, have developed devastating computer viruses. These viruses, which are capable of destroying large banks of computer information, both governmental or business. These rumors are very persistent and it is strongly believed that they exist as a dormant entity that can lie concealed in a target system until activated by some kind of a trigger mechanism.
- The Internet can serve as an excellent tool for organizing groups of anti-government individuals. (Redacted)
- The Internet can be used to expose government actions and military operations in advance of said actions. The immense proliferation of Internet sites has made it possible for adverse elements to break into hitherto secure systems, extract highly sensitive information and either supply it to foreign intelligence agencies such as the Russian SVR or the Israeli Mossad or simply to either publish it or mail it out. A discussion of foreign-based official U.S. computer hacking can be found elsewhere and this study deals solely with ad hoc domestic dissidents.
- The Internet is capable of hiding the identities of those launching attacks on the actions and personnel of various government agencies. (Redacted)
9.The Internet can materially assist an underfunded, anti-government group to raise money for continued operations. The use of such firms as PayPal facilitate the relatively secure transfer of money. Again, although it is possible to pressure such firms officially, if one agrees to cooperate, it is only a matter of time that this information will be leaked. We have once had excellent cooperation from SBC, ATT and AOL in conducting overview of millions of system users but lawsuits and Internet activists have published this information, rendering this valuable cooperation null and void.
10.The Internet can be utilized to locate and publicize the personnel of government agencies. It is routine practice in the CIA to have the DoS Passport Division issue official U.S. passports to our operatives working outside the country in names other than their own. The discovery of the real names of the passport holders could result in this material being maliciously posted on the Internet and this could not only subject the agent to serious compromise in the country they are operating in but can also subject them to local exposure and often contempt and harassment.
- The Internet is capable of limiting the risk of identification of the members of anti-government groups. The FBI, which is responsible for overview and action against counter-terrorism inside the United States. With the advent of the Internet, identification and penetration of anti-government groups has proven to be nearly impossible. The main cause of this failure is due almost entirely to the Internet which has proven a haven for dissidents of all kinds. Given that all domestic telephone calls and all Internet email is readily available to various domestic law enforcement agencies, it is still a monumental task to track and identify possible activists and other anti-government individuals or groups. We have assisted in setting up dummy anti-government sites, peopled them with professionals and provided them with almost-believable information to post for the purpose of establishing importance and also in disseminating disinformation. Persons viewing these sites can readily be identified and tracked, Further, we have an ongoing relationship with several information sites, such as Google, and whenever any viewer seeks information on subjects we deem as potentially negative, this information is automatically forwarded to the concerned agency.
- The Internet, while impossible to control, is also an excellent recruiting ground for sympathetic or easily-convinced “bloggers” who will quickly disseminate official dissemination for pay or public acclaim. It is invaluable to distract the public from questioning various governmental actions, both domestic and foreign. For this reason, our organization, and others, have “disinformation” centers that prepare information of a sensational nature which is then released to paid sources who, in turn, disseminate it onto the Internet. The purpose of this is to create a cloaking movement that will point the curious into innocuous areas. As a case in point, it was imperative to prevent the public sector from looking too deeply into the origins of the 9/11 attacks. To prevent exposure of the actions of members of the top levels of government in this attack, many stories were released, over a long period, to the public through wholly-controlled sites. Claims of devious plots, mystery methodologies, and often laughable conclusions have proven to be extraordinarily effective in constructive diversion. The collapse of the WTC buildings have been attributed to Thermite bombs, clouds of plasmoid gas and other nonsense but a very gullible American public has easily swallowed all of the fictions. As another example, the DoD has always under-declared its casualty rates in Iraq and Afghanistan because a full accounting could easily lead to public discomfiture and resulting action.
13.The Internet can be utilized to create an atmosphere of fear or of compliancy in furtherance of official policy. This is a particular ploy that worked very effectively during the two Bush administrations. A constant, on-going threat of vague “terrorist” actions inside the United States was material in gaining, and keeping, public support for the actions of the aforesaid administration. However, it must be noted, that threats must occasionally be proven to be true or too many “duds” tend to dull the public sense and, if continued, will lead to disillusion and anger.”
Table of Contents
- SECRECY NEWS
- Nearly 200,000 people told to flee crumbling California dam
- Biggest fear at Oroville Dam: A 30-foot wall of water barreling downstream
- Decades of disaster: 7 of America’s worst dam failures in recent history
- Our ‘Fake News,’ and Theirs
- For the US Army, ‘Cyber War’ Is Quickly Becoming Just ‘War’
- The Truth about the Dresden Masssacre
- White House official attacks court after legal setbacks on immigration
- Refugees flee US on foot, seek safety in Canada
- With friends like these: China’s awkward position after North Korea’s missile test
- 48 Questions the FBI Uses to Determine if Someone Is a Likely Terrorist
- North Korea missile test: What’s changed?
From the FAS Project on Government Secrecy
Volume 2017, Issue No. 11
February 13, 2017
WITHDRAWAL FROM INT’L AGREEMENTS, & MORE FROM CRS
Withdrawing from international agreements, as President Trump has proposed to do in certain cases, can be a complicated as well as a controversial step, a new report from the Congressional Research Service indicates
Aside from the wisdom of any such move, withdrawal raises distinct legal issues under both national and international law. “The legal regime governing withdrawal under domestic law may differ in meaningful ways from the procedure for withdrawal under international law.”
As for treaties, which are adopted with the advice and consent of the Senate, the Constitution “is silent as to how treaties may be terminated.”
The new CRS report examines the legal questions raised by potential U.S. withdrawal from international agreements, with specific application to the Paris Agreement on climate change and the Iran nuclear agreement.
See Withdrawal from International Agreements: Legal Framework, the Paris Agreement, and the Iran Nuclear Agreement, February 9, 2017.
Other new and updated reports from the Congressional Research Service include the following.
Iraqi and Afghan Special Immigrant Visas (SIVs), CRS Insight, February 8, 2017
Overseas Contingency Operations Funding: Background and Status, updated February 7, 2017
Qualified Immunity for a Police Shooting, CRS Legal Sidebar, February 9, 2017
Monetary Policy and the Federal Reserve: Current Policy and Conditions, February 7, 2017
Import Taxes on Mexican Crude Oil, CRS Insight, February 9, 2017
U.S. Foreign Assistance to Latin America and the Caribbean: Trends and FY2017 Appropriations, February 8, 2017
What is the Proposed U.S.-EU Insurance Covered Agreement?, CRS Insight, February 7, 2017
Israel: Background and U.S. Relations In Brief, updated February 9, 2017
Lebanon, February 7, 2017
Nearly 200,000 people told to flee crumbling California dam spillway
February 13, 2017
by Sharon Bernstein
OROVILLE, Calif- Evacuation orders for nearly 200,000 people living below the tallest dam in the United States remained in place early on Monday after residents were abruptly told to flee when a spillway appeared in danger of collapse.
Authorities issued the evacuation order on Sunday, saying that a crumbling emergency spillway on Lake Oroville Dam in north California could give way and unleash floodwaters onto rural communities along the Feather River.
“Immediate evacuation from the low levels of Oroville and areas downstream is ordered,” the Butte County sheriff said in a statement posted on social media.
The California Department of Water Resources said on Twitter at about 4:30 p.m. PST (0030 GMT Monday) that the spillway next to the dam was “predicted to fail within the next hour.”
Several hours later the situation appeared less dire, as the damaged spillway remained standing.
The state water resources department said crews using helicopters would drop rocks to fill a huge gouge, and authorities were releasing water to lower the lake’s level after weeks of heavy rains in the drought-plagued state.
By 10 p.m., state and local officials said the immediate danger had passed with water no longer flowing over the eroded spillway. But they cautioned that the situation remained unpredictable.
“Once you have damage to a structure like that it’s catastrophic,” acting Water Resources director Bill Croyle told reporters. But he stressed “the integrity of the dam is not impacted” by the damaged spillway.
Asked about the evacuation order, Croyle said “It was a tough call to make.” He added: “It was the right call to make.”
‘DO NOT TRAVEL NORTH’
Butte County Sheriff Korey Honea told an earlier news briefing he was told by experts that the hole forming in the spillway could compromise the structure. Rather than risk thousands of lives, the decision was made to order evacuations.
Officials said they feared the damaged spillway could unleash a 30-foot wall of water on Oroville, north of the state capital Sacramento.
They said evacuation orders remained in place for some 188,000 people in Oroville, Yuba County, Butte County, Marysville and nearby communities and would be re-evaluated at dawn.
The Yuba County Office of Emergency Services urged evacuees to travel only to the east, south or west. “DO NOT TRAVEL NORTH TOWARD OROVILLE,” the department warned on Twitter.
Evacuation centers were set up at a fairgrounds in Chico, California, about 20 miles northwest of Oroville, but major highways leading south out of the area were jammed as residents fled the flood zone and hotels quickly filled up.
Javier Santiago, 42, fled with his wife, two children and several friends to the Oroville Dam Visitors Center in a public park above the dam and the danger zone.
With blankets, pillows and a little food, Santiago said: “We’re going to sleep in the car.”
The Oroville dam is nearly full following winter storms that brought relief to the state after four years of drought. Water levels were less than 7 feet (2 meters) from the top of the dam on Friday.
State authorities and engineers on Thursday began releasing water from the dam after noticing that large chunks of concrete were missing from a spillway.
California Governor Jerry Brown asked the Federal Emergency Management Agency on Friday to declare the area a major disaster due to flooding and mudslides brought on by the storms.
The earthfill dam is just upstream and east of Oroville, a city of more than 16,000 people.
At 770 feet (230 meters) high, the structure, built between 1962 and 1968, is the tallest U.S. dam, exceeding the Hoover Dam by more than 40 feet (12 meters).
(Additional reporting, writing by Dan Whitcomb in Los Angeles and Chris Michaud in New York; Editing by Chris Michaud and Dominic Evans)
Biggest fear at Oroville Dam: A 30-foot wall of water barreling downstream
February 13, 2017
by Rong-Gong Lin II and Matt Hamilton
Los Angeles Times
A new storm system forecast for later this week put water officials on a race against time. Bill Croyle, the acting director of the state Department of Water Resources, said they planned to continue discharging flows at a rate of 100,000 cubic feet per second, with the hope of lowering the reservoir level by 50 feet.
The biggest concern was that a hillside that keeps water in Lake Oroville — California’s second largest reservoir — would suddenly crumble Sunday afternoon, threatening the lives of thousands of people by flooding communities downstream.
With Lake Oroville filled to the brim, such a collapse could have caused a “30-foot wall of water coming out of the lake,” Cal-Fire incident commander Kevin Lawson said at a Sunday night press conference
Decades of disaster: 7 of America’s worst dam failures in recent history
February 13, 2017
While modern technology ensures safety standards are maintained at the 80,000 dams across the US, extreme weather and maintenance issues have resulted in some serious dam failures over the past four decades
On Sunday, an urgent evacuation order was issued for 200,000 people living in northern California amid fears of an imminent collapse of the nearby Oroville Dam spillway.Oroville, America’s tallest dam, remains intact but the emergency spillway, which helps prevent water from overflowing when levels are high, is eroding. Heavy rainfall has filled the dam to the verge of overflow, posing a huge potential risk to downstream communities.
Here, RT.com takes a look back at some of the most deadly dam failures in recent US history.
March, 2006: Seven people died in Kauai, Hawaii when the Ka Loko Reservoir Dam burst, unleashing 400 million gallons of water onto the island. The dam’s poor maintenance, lack of inspection and illegal modifications were blamed for its failure.
November, 1977: 39 people were killed when the Kelly Barnes Dam failed in Stephens County, Georgia after heavy rainfall. A combination of factors including erosion and landslides were blamed for the failure, which caused $2.8 million in damage, and the dam was never rebuilt.
July, 1977: The most infamous US dam disaster in recent memory killed 86 people in Johnstown, Pennsylvania when heavy rainfall and flooding resulted in six area dams failing. This was the second dam failure to hit Johnstown – 2,209 were killed after a flood in 1889.
June, 1976: The Teton Dam released 300,000 acre-feet of water when it failed abruptly in Northeast Idaho, killing 11 people and causing more than $1 billion of damage.
June, 1964: The worst flood in Montana’s history killed 28 people after the Swift Dam and two lower dams failed, releasing around 46,000 acre-feet of water.
March, 1963: Six people died and more than $6 million in damage was caused followed the Spaulding Pond Dam failure in Mohegan Park, Norwich, Connecticut. A lack of proper hydrologic design, poor maintenance and a lack of understanding regarding the potential impacts of a dam failure on the town were cited as causes for the disaster
Dec, 1963: Five people were killed and 27 injured in Los Angeles after the Baldwin Hills Reservoir suffered a serious leak through its east abutment, breaching the dam and releasing a total of 250 million gallons of water.
Our ‘Fake News,’ and Theirs
It’s not a new thing
February 13, 2017
by Justin Raimondo,
I had to laugh when the “mainstream” media began making a fuss about the alleged epidemic of “fake news.” My immediate and uncontrollable reaction was: “Are we to be spared nothing?!”
After all, as Antiwar.com’s longtime readers know, these are the very same people who were spreading the Bush administration’s “talking points” as if they were facts in the run up to the invasion of Iraq. They know this because we spent years debunking them. Here are just a few samples:
- The famous “aluminum tubes” that were supposedly part of Saddam Hussein’s nuclear arsenal – debunked.
- The yellowcake from Niger – debunked.
- Iraq’s “mobile biological weapons” – debunked.
- The biggest lie – that Saddam Hussein had ‘links” to al-Qaeda and the 9/11 attack – is debunked, where we exposed evidence that the media was covering for the Bush administration.
The very media outlets that are today loudly complaining about “fake news” – the New York Times and the Washington Post, the twin voices of the Acela corridor – served as a veritable echo chamber of the Bush administration’s lies as we were led into the worst military disaster in our nation’s history.
Even then, “fake news” was hardly a new phenomenon. War propaganda is as old as the history of warfare itself, and in more recent times it has been taken to a new and more audaciously dishonest level.
Antiwar.com was founded, in 1995, in reaction to media coverage of the Kosovo war – a conflict that was energized by media reports that depicted the “Kosovo Liberation Army” as a legion of saints out to free their country from human monsters, rather than the criminal cabal they turned out to be. According to the Clinton News Network, otherwise known as CNN, US intervention was justified because the Serbs were committing “genocide.” The War Party and its journalistic camarilla told us that hundreds of thousands of Albanian Muslims were being massacred by the Serbs. This nonsense is still the conventional wisdom today – except that, as we pointed out at the time, it never happened.
Fast forward to 2016-17: the same people are pushing the same made-up news, except the “enemy” is now Russia.
The Washington Post has been in the vanguard in this respect, publishing a story recounting how the Russians supposedly attacked Vermont’s electrical grid – without even contacting the power company. They had to walk that one back with a “correction” that basically said “Never mind.”
Then there was the story by Washington Post “reporter” Craig Timberg that took the wild assertions of a bunch of anonymous Internet trolls known as “PropOrNot” as good coin, smearing web sites like the Drudge Report, Counterpunch, and Antiwar.com as “Russian propaganda.” They had to append a lengthy correction to that one, too.
And who can forget the Slate story that mistook marketing emails for a direct link by the Trump campaign to a Russian bank – alleged “evidence” that the real estate mogul was taking orders and money directly from the Kremlin. That one was broadcast all over Twitter by the usual suspects before it was debunked, but the purveyors of the lie didn’t care – because the whole point was just to get it out there. Neither author Franklin Foer nor Slate has ever issued a correction, let alone a retraction.
That is really the modus operandi of the fake news industry: just get it out there. Even if it’s debunked, and the originators admit their “error,” it’s too late to reel it back in – and hardly anyone sees the correction. Do you go back to stories that appear in the “mainstream” media to see if they’ve corrected them? Of course you don’t.
That’s why Antiwar.com is a more valuable resource than ever before: we don’t publish fake news in the first place. And, what’s more, we are fact-checking the “mainstream” media 24/7, so that the “news” is corrected before you see it – that is, if you come to us first.
To say that we live in uncertain times is definitely an understatement – and that’s why the world needs Antiwar.com more than ever. Fake news is all over the place, spread by the very people who pose as arbiters of truth: the agenda-laden “mainstream” media. Hardly a day goes by without some anonymous “intelligence official” telling us via the Washington Post, the New York Times, or one of the wire services that Vladimir Putin has infiltrated the highest reaches of the US government, that the poor little Syrian head-choppers (called “rebels”) are really angels of mercy, and that Julian Assange and Edward Snowden are really “agents” of a foreign power.
The fake news comes thick and fast – and we here at Antiwar.com are devoted to debunking it.
This is more than a full-time job: it’s akin to the labors of Sisyphus, who was condemned by the gods to roll a heavy stone up a hill, only to see it roll back down the other side – forever.
For the US Army, ‘Cyber War’ Is Quickly Becoming Just ‘War’
February 9, 2017
by Patrick Tucker
Combat brigades will soon head into firefights with cyber specialists…and possibly IT lawyers.
The next great conflict will play out not just on physical terrain but also in the electrical pulses of cyberspace and the electronic spectrum. But while anonymous enemies like ISIS or Russia’s “little green men” are free to use the digital space as they like, U.S. Army leaders say legal requirements and a pre-digital rules structure complicate their response. That’s why, for the last 18 months, the service has been experimenting with different concepts of operations for the cyber units that will be on the front lines of tomorrow’s fights.
The Army, which already has 30 cyber teams at full operational capability and 11 more at initial operating capability, is aiming to have 41 fully operational teams by year’s end.
“As soon as we create them, they are in operational use” in both offense and defense, said Brig. Gen. J.P. McGee, Army Cyber Command’s deputy for operations. “We have Army soldiers delivering effects against ISIS and ISIL.”
Last April, the New York Times reported that military cyber teams are helping Iraqi security forces and Kurdish units by altering ISIS fighters’ electronic messages, “with the aim of redirecting militants to areas more vulnerable to attack by American drones or local ground forc
Offensive cyberweapons are a key interest of the new administration. On January 20, President Trump’s team added a “Making Our Military Strong Again” page to the White House’s website: “We will make it a priority to develop defensive and offensive cyber capabilities at our U.S. Cyber Command.”
Yet the definitions of cyber weapons and cyberwarfare are not much more precise today than in 2010 when the Stuxnet worm shut down Iran’s Natanz nuclear enrichment facility. In 2011, the Pentagon acknowledged a secret list of cyber weapons but did not detail what they were.
Of course, the United States has been using various cyber espionage tactics as part of real operations for years.
In his book @War: The Rise of the Military-Internet Complex, Shane Harris describes the work of NSA hackers embedded with military squads fighting in Iraq after the fall of Saddam Hussein.
“The U.S. hackers sent fake text messages to insurgent fighters and roadside bombers,” Harris writes. “The messages would tell the recipient, in effect, ‘Meet at this street corner to plan the next attack,’ or ‘Go to this point on a road and plant your device.’ When the fighter got there, he’d be greeted by U.S. troops, or perhaps the business end of a Hellfire missile fired from a drone aircraft thousands of feet above.”
Practicing for Future War
Today, the Army is putting those ideas to work at the National Training Center at California’s Fort Irwin, where soldiers and technical experts are working out formal concepts and plans for deploying cyber weapons on the battlefield. The key is to use them with precision, predictability, and maximum effect, while also defending Army networks and communications.
“What it looks like is the ability to go there and, first off…map out the cyber and electromagnetic terrain. So, where is everything? Where are wireless points? Where are the cellphone towers? What does that look like?” McGee told reporters Wednesday at the Pentagon.
This new dimension of war demands changes to the Army’s tables of organization. To guard tactical networks, for example, every brigade combat team will have a warrant officer and a non-commissioned officer to mind what the Army is calling a “cyber first line of defense.”
The Army’s tactical operations centers will also get a cyber advisor to guide commanders in deploying information weapons, just as the artillery experts guide fires.
Then there are the tactical questions. If the Army’s hackers can gain access to an enemy’s wireless communications points, what should they do to them? McGee said one option is to shut down nearby civilian networks when a U.S. patrol passes through the area, to prevent insurgents from calling in aid. “Now you might ask, why not close it down completely, just put a bomb in it?” he said. “Well, potentially, that’s just a place we can collect [intelligence] later on.”
Commanders must also understand the legal consequences of disrupting or bugging a civilian network. Navigating the legal environment can be much more complex than just blasting a target with a howitzer.
“We have to develop a framework and a model that allows us to describe how we can break down these authorities in terms of the effects that they would have,” McGee said. “Originally, the thought of doing cyberspace operations was that everything had to be controlled by the president…We are discovering that we can have a localized, discriminating effect.”
Currently, even basic and relatively simple actions like mapping the digital networks and nodes around a battlespace can get snarled in bureaucracy.
“How do we visualize that environment…also from the electromagnetic spectrum angle, what kind of signatures are we emitting? How can we see the enemy?” said Brig. Gen. Patricia Frost, who runs the Army’s Cyber Directorate.”The commander has [to have] a complete visualization of the domain. That’s really important. That should not take an authority granted by the SecDef.”
The Army has a tactical field manual for cyber and EW effects, but has not yet laid out — at least in public — an explicit policy for how, when, and under what circumstances it will use offensive cyber weapons.
The public understanding of these questions hasn’t much advanced since two years ago, when the head of U.S. Cyber Command, Adm. Michael Rogers, has said cyber weapons should be governed by the same rules of engagement as other weapons.
“Remember, anything we do in the cyber arena…must follow the law of conflict. Our response must be proportional, must be in line with the broader set of norms that we’ve created over time. I don’t expect cyber to be any different,” Rogers said in 2015.
Future adversaries won’t operate under the same constraints.
“If you don’t have to worry about authorities … you can be very effective,” she said. “We look at it differently. The State Department, when we are not at war, we defer to them on information operations. It’s a different approach.”
Cyber operations are also a lot easier if you “don’t look at it through a Western lens in terms of protecting citizens’ privacy rights, also not having to be completely honest in the press,” Frost said. “That ability to use technology and be untruthful, it’s not something we would do. You’re playing on a different field. They already have an upper hand because” they can play by different rules.
The Army plans to run exercises with different legal teams to see if the soldiers of today and tomorrow need extra legal authorities in battle. Getting those proper authorities and related issues ironed out can add delays, Frost acknowledges. She says that she is “satisfied with the pace” of getting those permissions in place but added that it’s “never fast enough” if you’re the soldier in the fight.
For McGee, a bigger concern is his inability to know enough his adversary’s capabilities, a unique feature of digital weapons. There are lot of ways to figure out the size of a conventional force, and the number of soldiers and bombs it has. But cyber capabilities, by virtue of their ethereal nature, are also opaque.
“If you look back at the Cold War, we had a rough idea of what the Warsaw Pact [the Soviet Union and its satellite countries] had in terms of divisions, ships, planes,” McGee said. “We were probably off but not by a tremendous amount. In cyberspace it’s very hard to have that degree of certainty. The possibility of unknowns in this operational space is huge. It’s impossible for us to scale what we know and don’t know.”
The Truth about the Dresden Massacre
February 13, 2017
by Harry von Johnston, PhD
In April 1942, President Roosevelt told Stimson, Secretary of War, to secretly fund a program to develop botulism and anthrax weapons for use against the Germans. The project was shelved when it was discovered that the Germans had developed nerve gasses, Tabun, Sarin and Soman, that were terrible in nature and which would surely be used in retaliation if the US attempted to poison the German civil population. This information is contained in the Stimson “Safe File” in the U.S. National Archives.
Officially, the propaganda total of the dead is 25,000.
This figure is totally incorrect.
The joint US-British attack on the Saxon capital city of Dresden in February 1945 was ordered by Churchill for the purpose of destroying the morale of the German people. The undefended city was filled with refugees from the east, fleeing the Soviet advance into Germany and contained some of the most beautiful Baroque buildings in Europe.
The following report, in translation, is taken from the extensive files of Heinrich Müller, once head of Hitler’s Gestapo and later a CIA employee.
Dresden, d. 22. März 1945
110-89-45 gRs ‘Geheime Reichssache’
An den: SS-Gruppenführer Müller
The following report was complied from material supplied by the Police and Civil authorities in addition to Wehrmacht and Red Cross reports. The report of the Police President is incorporated in this summary by inference and is appended as an annex.
(There is a lengthy summary of the aerial attacks on the 13th,14th and 15th of February, 1945 including a listing of destroyed buildings.)
Up until March 20, 1945, 202,040 bodies, mainly women and children, have been recovered. Based on the recovery figures to date, the death toll is conservatively believed to be in excess of 250,000. Of the recovered corpses, identification is only approximately 30%, due primarily to the badly burned and disfiguration of the victims….Of these victims, 68, 650 were cremated and the ashes given proper burial. Recovery of additional victims is continuing…
Sources: The Roosevelt Myth, Flynn, Devin-Adair, New York, 1948.; Truman, McCullough, Simon & Schuster, New York, 1992.; FDR, Morgan, Simon & Schuster, New York, 1985.; The Game of the Foxes, Farago, McKay, New York, 1971.; Die Massaker von Dresden, Kurowski, Berg, 1995, p. 12.
White House official attacks court after legal setbacks on immigration
February 12, 2017
by Doina Chiacu and Julia Harte
Washington-A White House official on Sunday attacked a U.S. court ruling that blocked President Donald Trump’s executive order on immigration as a “judicial usurpation of power” and said the administration was considering a range of options, including a new order.
Sustained criticism of the judiciary from the White House comes amid concern among Democrats and legal scholars over Trump’s view of the constitutional principle of judicial independence as the administration seeks to overcome legal setbacks to its travel ban issued on Jan. 27.
It has also become the backdrop against which U.S. senators consider Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, Judge Neil Gorsuch, for a lifetime appointment to the nation’s highest court.
The Republican president said on Friday that he may issue a new executive order rather than go through lengthy court challenges to the original one, which temporarily barred entry to the United States of people from seven Muslim-majority countries.
“We have multiple options and we are considering all of them,” White House senior policy adviser Stephen Miller said on ABC’s “This Week.”
Miller sharply criticized the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruling on Thursday that upheld a Seattle federal judge’s suspension of Trump’s executive order. He accused the San Francisco-based court of having a history of overreaching and of being overturned.
“This is a judicial usurpation of power,” he said on “Fox News Sunday.” “The president’s powers here are beyond question.”
The Trump administration has defended the travel ban on grounds it will prevent potential terrorists from entering the country, although no acts of terrorism have been perpetrated on U.S. soil by citizens of the targeted countries.
The ban’s announcement, late on a Friday, sparked a weekend of confusion at airports around the globe and within the federal agencies charged with enforcing it. It also triggered widespread protests and legal challenges.
Aware that a new executive order would allow critics to declare victory against the travel ban, the White House has deflected blame and intensified its criticism of the judiciary.
“I think it’s been an important reminder to all Americans that we have a judiciary that has taken far too much power and become in many cases a supreme branch of government,” Miller said on CBS’ “Face the Nation.”
“One unelected judge in Seattle cannot make laws for the entire country. I mean this is just crazy,” he said.
Miller’s performance on several Sunday news shows won a plaudit on Twitter from Trump, who has himself attacked individual judges and called the courts “so political.”
“Great job!” Trump tweeted.
Gorsuch condemned the attacks on the judiciary as “disheartening” in private meetings last week with a number of U.S. senators, who pressed the judge to go public. Ron Bonjean, a Republican strategist, confirmed the conversations.
Legal experts said the Trump administration statements could undermine respect for the constitutional division of powers.
Cornell University law professor Jens David Ohlin said that accusing the judiciary of usurping the president’s powers demonstrated “an absurd lack of appreciation for the separation of powers.”
“Miller is coming dangerously close to reviving a discredited and dangerous theory that each branch of government, including the president, has independent authority to decide what the law and Constitution mean,” Ohlin said in an interview on Sunday.
“In our system of government, the commander in chief executes the laws, but it is the judiciary which interprets both the laws and statutes passed by Congress and the Constitution. That’s their solemn duty,” he added.
Ilya Shapiro, a senior fellow in constitutional studies at the libertarian Cato Institute, said Trump’s remarks could diminish popular respect for institutions of law and order by making Americans think “the government’s a joke, that you don’t have to follow what judges say.”
Immigration laws give the U.S. president broad powers to restrict who enters the country on national security grounds.
But the same laws forbid discrimination based on race, sex, nationality or place of birth or residence. The case also could involve First Amendment protections involving religion.
Trump’s executive order banned entry into the United States to refugees and citizens of Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen for 90 days and all refugees for 120 days, except refugees from Syria, who were banned indefinitely.
Options for the administration include formulating a new executive action, appealing the 9th Circuit panel’s decision to the full appeals court and appealing the emergency stay to the U.S. Supreme Court, Miller said.
(Reporting by Doina Chiacu and Julia Harte; Writing by Doina Chiacu; Editing by Alan Crosby and Peter Cooney)
Refugees flee US on foot, seek safety in Canada
Canada has seen a surge of refugees crossing into the country illegally from the US. Advocates say the number will rise as fears grow over President Donald Trump’s policies.
February 13, 2017
by Jillian Kestler-D’Amours
Dozens of families, women and young children, are making the journey in blistering cold and waist-high snow, while young men have been stranded for hours and lost several fingers and toes to frostbite.
They are all among a rising number of refugee claimants illegally crossing into Canada on foot from the United States, which many now say they feel is no longer safe under the administration of US President Donald Trump.
“The concern really comes from the fact that people are walking across in very, very frigid winter weather, across deep snow, in fields, and really risking their health and their safety,” said Rita Chahal, executive director of the Manitoba Interfaith Immigration Council, a non-profit organisation that assists refugees and immigrants in the province.
Chahal said about 300 refugee claimants that have entered Canada without legal permits have made in-country applications for protection in Manitoba since last April.
In previous years, 70 refugee claimants in a similar period would have been a high number, she told DW.
No fair hearing
While the reason for the surge is unclear, Chahal said many people say they feared being deported from the US back to their home countries, or felt they wouldn’t receive a fair asylum hearing.
Others “are concerned about the political climate and the social climate within the US and how they might be treated there,” she said.
Most asylum seekers cross into Manitoba near the small town of Emerson, about 110 kilometers south of Winnipeg, the provincial capital and its largest city.
The US states of Minnesota and North Dakota are across the border from Emerson, which has a population of about 700 residents.
Twenty-two refugees crossed into Canada near Emerson over the first weekend of February, according to the national police service (RCMP), while 21 others made it across last week.
Asylum seekers are also crossing at other points along the porous, nearly 9,000-kilometer US-Canada border: the RCMP intercepted 823 refugee claimants in the province of Quebec between Apr. 1 and Nov. 30 last year, according to Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) figures.
Most asylum seekers arriving in Manitoba are Somali citizens, followed by Eritrea and Djibouti passport holders, according to CBSA data. In Quebec, most are originally from Eritrea, Sudan and Syria.
But so many asylum seekers are crossing over near Emerson that the town organized an emergency meeting with the RCMP and CBSA last week. “Safety was the biggest [concern],” Greg Janzen, the town’s top official, said after the meeting. “Now we know the protocol if we get an influx of people… The governments have been very supportive in this whole issue.”
Maggie Yeboah is a social worker and president of the Ghanaian Union of Manitoba. She said about 30 Ghanaian refugee claimants have walked over the US border into Manitoba in recent months.
Most of the men did not set out to come to Canada, Yeboah said, but many fled persecution and violence related to their sexual orientation in Ghana. Male homosexuality is illegal under the country’s penal code.
“They are being persecuted or being attacked back home in Ghana because of their sexual orientation,” she told DW.
Yeboah said many of the men were advised to take a bus to Minneapolis, Minnesota, and a taxi from Minneapolis to the US-Canada border. From there, they were told they could walk into Canadian territory.
“It’s not as easy as people think or people say, and they did not set out to come to Canada the wrong way, or [to] jump over the [border]. They thought they were going to [stay in] America, where they would be safe or where they would be welcomed. But they realised that it’s not like that … so they took the chance,” she said.
Janet Dench, executive director of the Canadian Council for Refugees, said asylum seekers are forced to take dangerous routes into Canada due to a deal that came into force in 2004 known as the Canada-US Safe Third Country Agreement (STCA).
The agreement means that most asylum seekers applying for protection in Canada at a US-Canada border crossing will be immediately sent back to the US, which Canada deems a safe country.
But the agreement does not apply to anyone who is inside Canada, and the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada will likely hear their refugee claim.
The agreement “prevents people from applying in a safe and orderly way at the border points,” Dench told DW.
The CCR and other human rights groups, including Amnesty International Canada and the Canadian Civil Liberties Association, have long called on Canada to rescind the agreement.
They say it’s especially crucial in light of US President Donald Trump’s travel ban on immigrants and refugees from seven countries in the Middle East and Africa, and general policies towards refugees.
The order has been challenged as unconstitutional, and as of last week, a federal court has upheld a stay on its implementation.
But the Trump administration’s policies more generally toward refugees have raised concern about whether the US still meets the requirements in Canadian law to be considered safe.
“From our perspective, Canada should withdraw from the agreement. We were never in favour of the agreement and the irregular crossings [are] one of the very obvious and known consequences,” Dench said.
US no longer safe for refugees
Amnesty International Canada Executive Director Alex Neve agreed. “It is, to put it generously, fiction to continue to believe that the United States at this time is safe for refugees.”
But Canada’s Immigration Minister, Ahmad Hussen, recently said the STCA would remain in place.
Trump’s executive order deals with refugee resettlement, and does not affect the US asylum program, while Canada’s Immigration and Refugee Protection Act involves the continual review of whether conditions that led a country to be designated as safe continue to be met, said a ministry spokesperson.
“The STCA remains an important tool for Canada and the US to work together on the orderly handling of refugee claims made in our countries,” Spokesperson Nancy Caron told DW in an emailed statement. “We continue to monitor the situation.”
Meanwhile, Chahal said while it’s hard to speculate, the general sense is that the number of asylum seekers crossing into Canada illegally will continue to increase, especially as the weather gets warmer.
“I’m not sure we’ve peaked yet,” she said, “so we’ll just wait and see.”
With friends like these: China’s awkward position after North Korea’s missile test
February 13, 2017
by Simon Denyer
The Washington Post
BEIJING — There’s never a great time to fire off rockets potentially capable of carrying nuclear warheads, but China has been left in an awkward position by the timing of North Korea’s latest ballistic missile test, experts said.
Pyongyang said Monday that this weekend’s test of the “medium- to long-range” missile had been successful, according to the official KCNA news agency. But there was probably a collective groan in Beijing.
The missile launch took place while President Trump was playing host to Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, and it will intensify pressure on China from both their countries to do more to restrain North Korea’s nuclear ambitions.
The United States and Japan, along with South Korea, requested an urgent meeting of the U.N. Security Council in New York on Monday night to discuss the incident. Russia’s Foreign Ministry also expressed concern, the state-run RIA Novosti news agency reported.
China’s Foreign Ministry said Monday that it opposed the test, with spokesman Geng Shuang telling reporters that his government would “take a constructive and responsible part” in the discussions at the United Nations.
The missile test was conducted just as Sino-U.S. relations were beginning to look up, a few days after Trump held what the White House said was an “extremely cordial” call with Chinese President Xi Jinping. But Trump has made clear in the past that he does not think China is doing enough to rein in its ally in Pyongyang.
Zhang Liangui, a Korea expert at Beijing’s Central Party School, which trains Communist Party officials, said the timing was “well thought through” by Pyongyang to undermine China’s ties with the United States.
“It clearly intended to affect the development of Sino-U.S. relations,” Zhang said. “But what matters is how China and the United States handle it.”
The test also came as China campaigns hard against U.S. plans to deploy the anti-missile Terminal High Altitude Aerial Defense (THAAD) system to South Korea, which Beijing considers a threat to its security.
It was a timely reminder to the Trump administration of why those missile defense plans are important, but also, experts said, to the candidates in this year’s presidential election in South Korea, where public opinion on the issue is divided.
“There was opposition in South Korea to the THAAD deployment,” said Cui Zhiying, a Korean affairs expert at Tongji University. “But after the missile test, I fear these opposition voices will be greatly diminished.”
In an editorial Monday, the official English-language China Daily newspaper said the missile test provided “a good excuse” for the United States and its military allies to step up their cooperation.
As usual, Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng argued that the cause of North Korea’s nuclear program was its dispute with the United States and called on “all relevant parties to refrain from provoking each other and escalating tensions in the region.”
China has long said that “dialogue and consultation” are the only way forward, but the Obama administration had refused to talk unless North Korea first pledged to denuclearize.
In an editorial Monday, China’s nationalist Global Times newspaper called North Korea’s nuclear weapon and ballistic missile program a “severe annoyance for Northeast Asia,” but also said that Pyongyang faces a “very real” military threat, as well as harsh sanctions.
“We can imagine the level of its upset and rage,” it said. “. . . If Washington keeps cracking down on Pyongyang’s nuclear development while turning a blind eye to North Korea’s concerns, their current confrontation will develop into an absurd struggle.”
Earlier in the day, Japan called on China to take stronger action against North Korea after the missile test, the first conducted by Pyongyang since Trump took office. It said the test had improved the ability of Kim Jong Un’s government to put a nuclear warhead on a missile.
“As a permanent member of the Security Council and chair of the six-party talks, and as a country that accounts for 90 percent of North Korea’s trade, China’s role is extremely important,” said Yoshihide Suga, Japan’s chief cabinet secretary, according to Bloomberg News. “As the government, we’ll continue to push China for constructive involvement at various levels.”
Before taking office, Trump vowed to prevent North Korea from acquiring the capability to strike the United States with a nuclear weapon. In a joint appearance over the weekend, Abe called the test “absolutely intolerable” and Trump said he stands by Japan “100 percent.”
China is North Korea’s primary ally and accounts for more than 70 percent of its trade, as well as providing food and energy aid. Although it has supported limited sanctions by the Security Council, it is reluctant to take firm economic action that could destabilize the regime.
North Korea has conducted five nuclear tests, including two last year, although its claims of being able to mount a nuclear warhead on a missile have never been verified independently. Kim said in his New Year speech that the North was close to test-launching an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), potentially threatening the continental United States, which is about 5,500 miles from North Korea.
China is unlikely to support tougher punishment for North Korea unless and until it tests an ICBM or a nuclear weapon, said Euan Graham, director of the International Security Program at the Lowy Institute in Sydney. But he added that the latest test, which appeared to be the second outing for a missile that could be fired from a submarine, was a “fairly significant step up the ladder” and could threaten U.S. bases in Asia.
Luna Lin and Xin Jin contributed to this report.
48 Questions the FBI Uses to Determine if Someone Is a Likely Terrorist
February 13 2017
by Cora Currier and Murtaza Hussain
For the past year and a half, the FBI has been using a secret scoring system to judge the likelihood that someone will carry out a violent attack. The survey, called “Indicators of Mobilization to Violence,” assigns points based on factors like religious observance, travel history, financial transactions, and physical appearance.
A copy of the survey in a classified FBI document was obtained by The Intercept.
The survey itself consists of 48 questions that agents are supposed to answer about terror suspects as part of an investigation. The document also includes a set of frequently asked questions about the scoring system aimed at agents working counterterrorism investigations.
According to the document, the program was rolled out in the fall of 2015.
Many of the questions in the survey have obvious relevance to whether someone is plotting a violent act, such as whether the person has access to weapons, has trained or fought overseas, or has tried to acquire bomb-making materials.
But some of the activities the survey flags are more ordinary. They include using encryption or masking internet browsing, showing an interest in previous bombings, or “participating in activities that simulate military or operational environments (e.g. paint ball, airsoft, laser tag, shooting ranges, camping/survival trips, etc.).”
Other questions are far more subjective and deal with the individual’s emotional state. For example, the survey asks if the person has changed their appearance or habits, has “experienced a recent personal loss or humiliation,” or has a history of mental health problems or substance abuse.
Still other questions gauge ideological leanings. “Does the Subject hold a belief or ideology that supports the use of violence?” Or, “Has the Subject become more extreme in their beliefs?”
While the survey is, in theory, meant to be universal, it contains several references to Islamic terminology and seems to be focused on concerns about Muslim terrorism.
Sahar Aziz, a law professor at Texas A&M University and expert on programs aimed at countering violent extremism, told The Intercept that some of the questions are subject to bias by FBI agents.
“Any effort to create ideological prototypes of people that are presumed to be susceptible to violence can have a chilling effect on constitutionally protected free speech,” Aziz said. “When government agents are screening people based on ideological beliefs or lifestyles that are not directly associated with criminal activity, it casts a wide net, and that can create serious consequences for targeted communities.”
Trying to understand the factors behind terrorism is understandable, but the FBI survey illustrates the perils of trying to use past examples to predict and prevent violent attacks.
“Set the civil liberties issues aside for a moment, and this says that we are grasping at straws to try to figure out what the factors involved in radicalization are,” said Karen Greenberg, the director of Fordham Law School’s Center on National Security. “They are so individualized. How much will algorithms really tell us about the threat?”
The FBI in recent years has taken an aggressive stance in sting operations designed to catch potential terrorists. These and other government efforts under the banner of “countering violent extremism” have been criticized by lawyers and activists who say law enforcement is looking for terror threats in the wrong places, painting Islamic and immigrant communities as uniquely susceptible to violence. The Trump administration has indicated it will make this direction explicit, changing the name of the program to specify Islamic extremism and dropping efforts aimed at other threats such as those from white supremacist groups.
The FBI document explains that agents working counterterrorism cases are now prompted to fill in the survey through the FBI’s case management system, and to keep their answers updated as they learn new information.
Based on the answers that agents put in, the survey generates several scores on a scale of 0-100, which show “the subject’s level of mobilization or likelihood of carrying out a violent act,” and “the subject’s likely level of radicalization or internal commitment to violent ideology.”
The score is calculated via a “statistical methodology” — not described in detail — that compares the case with historical counterterrorism subjects, “both those that mobilized to violence and those that did not.”
The survey stresses several times that high scores “do not provide conclusive evidence that a subject will take violent action,” and that they should be used for comparison only.
However, it also says that the score could be used to “assist decision-makers with determining where to focus available resources.” The document does not further explain how the survey would be used by law enforcement, and if it could lead to escalating an investigation.
Reached for comment, the FBI did not answer specific questions about the document but said that “these surveys are but one part of our internal assessment process in counterterrorism cases.”
The document notes that the FBI doesn’t consider the score “discoverable” at trial, because “it is derived from evidence that already exists within a court.” Defense lawyers interviewed by The Intercept said that it is up to judges to decide whether something must be provided to the defense in criminal proceedings. If the score could somehow be considered exculpatory, then it may well have to be turned over, said Joshua Dratel, a prominent national security lawyer.
Dratel and other lawyers interviewed by The Intercept were unaware of the FBI scoring system and speculated that, because of its recent implementation, it may not yet be a factor in terror prosecutions currently making their way through the courts.
The scoring system is the product of the Americas Fusion Cell, part of the counterterrorism division at FBI headquarters. The algorithm appears to have grown out of an analytic effort to survey agents about their casework in order to gain insights into radicalization. The Intercept previously reported on one such survey, from 2012, which found that U.S. military operations were the most commonly cited motivation for “homegrown” violent extremists.
The document notes that anonymized data from the survey will be shared with intelligence partners in the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand (the so-called “Five Eyes Alliance”) and that those countries would share results from their own, similar initiatives.
The document states that over time, “the dataset will become larger and the weighting of questions will become more accurate.”
Others are less confident about the possibility of singling out factors that lead to radicalization. A recent study published by the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism looked at psychological, emotional, and material factors at work in the cases of about 1,400 individuals it identified as “violent and non-violent extremists,” both Islamic and from the far right and left.
Using statistical methodology, the report found that having a criminal history and belonging to a small, close-knit “clique” of other extremists were the factors most closely associated with turning violent. But it concluded that there were “myriad causes of radicalization.”
Michael Jensen, one of the report’s authors, told The Intercept that the likelihood of developing universal criteria for predicting extremist violence was slim, and that efforts to operationalize such models today would probably have poor results. “The factors that come out over and over again as risk factors for radicalization are things that are present in the lives of millions of people who will never radicalize,” Jensen said. “There’s just not going to be a simple checklist of warning signs for future violence.”
Wadie Said, a law professor at the University of South Carolina and author of the book “Crimes of Terror,” about federal terrorism prosecutions, was even more negative on the prospect of such indicators.
“The idea of protecting people from violence is understandable. But how do you do that without falling into a trap of stereotypes and assumptions?” he said. “The idea that radicalization can be rendered into bite-size scores and equations under a pseudo-scientific name is deeply problematic.”
North Korea missile test: What’s changed?
February 13, 2017
by Andrea Berger and Joshua Pollack
On the morning of 12 February, North Korea conducted a ballistic missile test launch from Banghyon air base near the west coast of the country.
Like all such launches, the test took place in defiance of UN Security Council resolutions. Pyongyang’s press release, issued a day later, indicated that the missile – the Pukguksong-2 – was of the same type as one test-fired from a submarine off the east coast in August 2016.
What is different about this missile?
Unlike North Korea’s other long-range land-based missiles, the system tested on 12 February used solid fuel. Until now, the country’s comparable land-based missile systems have been liquid-fuelled.
Pyongyang also announced that the launch vehicle carrying the new missile is indigenously made and uses a continuous or “caterpillar” track, rather than wheels with tyres.
Previously North Korea has imported and modified foreign-made trucks to transport and launch its missiles. A domestic manufacturing capability will negate the need to convince or fool foreign suppliers into selling these vehicles. Continuous track also suggests that North Korea’s intention may be to take the missiles off-road, making it more difficult to detect imminent launches.
What are the implications of the use of solid fuel?
Missiles using liquid fuel require greater preparation time than those using solid fuel. They also require a larger constellation of support vehicles to accompany each launch vehicle. Both of these considerations make it more likely that an enemy might detect the missile in time to conduct a pre-emptive strike.
Solid fuel substantially reduces this vulnerability. North Korea will be able to roll these systems out of concealed storage and launch them with minimal preparation, drastically shrinking the time that an adversary would have to find and kill the missile. The capability thus represents a major step forward for North Korea.
What is a “cold eject” launch system?
There are two ways to launch missiles from their supporting vehicle’s canister.
In “hot” launches, the missile’s engines propel it upward out of the canister, while in “cold” launches, the missile is ejected from the canister using compressed gas before its engines ignite.
A cold eject approach spares the launch vehicle from damage from the missile’s ignition, making it possible to reload it and reuse.
What does this test tell us about the trajectory of North Korea’s missile development?
Kim Jong-un has hit the gas pedal on North Korea’s nuclear and missile programmes.
In the past 13 months he has conducted two nuclear tests and launched over 20 ballistic missiles, including from a submarine. The demonstration of a long-range, solid-fuelled, land-based system is a continuation of this disturbing trend and one of the first significant foreign policy challenges that US President Donald Trump will be forced to grapple with.