TBR News March 3, 2013

Mar 03 2013

The Voice of the White House

 

            Washington, D. C. March 2, 2013: “Our government rarely uses intelligence when performing its official duties.

            I am thinking here of the Obama people attacking any and all whistle-blowers and making vain efforts to get their hands on Julian Assange so they can, illegally, prosecute him and try to jail him for life.

            They had to settle for Bradley Manning, a young, very intelligent technician who obtained and passed on to Assange a huge collection of highly embarrassing official emails.   Manning did not do this for money and was trying to inform the American public to military and diplomatic outrages, most of which were not only immoral but illegal.

            For his attempts, Manning was harassed by the military and kept in custody for over a thousand days in an effort to break him down. That they were unable to do so can be seen in his statements to the court, which are reprinted below.

            The Obama people are well aware that their organs are deeply engaged in all manner of illegal actions, to include murdering innocent civilians, smuggling drugs, torturing prisoners, assassinating anyone they feel they ought to, spying on the American public and on and on.

            In another time, a person who uncovered crime was rewarded but under the present system, they are punished.

            The government will, I predict, find Bradley Manning a terrible embarrassment. Given that, look for him to have a fatal heart attack or hang himself in his cell.”

 

Catholic church sex abuse ruling could cause big spike in compensation claims

 

Catholic diocese ruled liable for priest’s alleged offences with lawyers saying test case could affect any group using volunteers

 

February 28, 2013

by Owen Bowcott, Legal affairs correspondent

The Guardian 

 

            The Catholic church could facing spiralling compensation costs after an attempt to avoid liability for abuses committed by priests and nuns was dismissed by the UK supreme court.

 

The decision will have implications for a wide range of organisations by expanding the principle of “vicarious liability” to other churches, local authorities, charities that rely on volunteers, as well as Scouts and Guides. Lawyers said it could even affect claims involving Jimmy Savile‘s abusive past.

 

The refusal by the UK’s highest court even to hear the church’s challenge that clerics are not “akin to employees” marks the end of a potential legal escape route from responsibility for compensation.

 

Lawyers for the trustees of Portsmouth Roman Catholic Diocesan Trust had appealed against a decision in the court of appeal that they had a duty to compensate a young girl for alleged beatings inflicted by a nun and sexual abuse perpetrated by a priest as long ago as the 1970s – if the facts of the abuse were established.

 

But in a statement issued this week, the supreme court said it had refused permission to appeal “because the application does not raise an arguable point of law of general public importance”. It believes the issue has now been settled.

 

Lawyers for the diocese have conceded they cannot take the case to the European court of human rights in Strasbourg and consequently the court of appeal‘s ruling becomes definitive.

 

The ruling stated that although a priest may not be directly employed by a diocese, “he is in a relationship with his bishop, which is close enough, and so akin to employer/employee as to make it just and fair to impose vicarious liability [on the church for the priest's acts]“.

 

The claim was brought by a 48-year-old woman known as JGE, who cannot be named for legal reasons. She said that as a child she was beaten by a nun at a convent-run care home and later raped and sexually assaulted by a priest.

 

Father Wilfred Baldwin, who has since died, was said to have abused her in the robing room on the day of her first communion. The facts of what took place are disputed: the Portsmouth diocese denies there was any abuse and insists a priest is an officeholder, not an employee.

 

Unusually, the courts decided to settle the broader issue of the church’s “vicarious liability” before establishing whether or not the woman was abused. A high court case will now have to consider the specific facts of her claim.

 

Cathy Perrin, a solicitor with the Catholic Church Insurance Association Services Ltd, who represented the Portsmouth diocese, said: “We are very disappointed. We had been hoping for clearer understanding of what ‘akin to employment’ means.

 

“This will not just affect Catholic priests. It will have impacts on commercial organisations and make local authorities responsible for the actions of foster carers. I don’t think this is a case we can take to Strasbourg so this appears to be the end of it.”

 

Tracey Emmott, the solicitor who represented the victim, said: “This case is likely to trigger further complaints against the church. Since it started I have had claims from four other people that this priest abused them. Its wider impact will extend to other organisations, such as Scouts, because they are like employers.

 

“It could even affect claims against Jimmy Savile, for example when he was volunteering as a hospital porter. The hospital would have to argue it was not vicariously liable.”

 

Commenting on the decision, Keith Porteous Wood, of the National Secular Society, said: “It is hard to exaggerate the importance of this case : it will almost certainly become an international precedent, opening the door to financial liability against the church for tens of thousands of victims of abuse, worldwide.

 

“Evidence abounds of the shameless lengths to which the church has stooped for decades to evade financial responsibility for widespread abuse of children in its care. To have fought to evade liability for admitted abuse is both morally repugnant and a continuing blatant breach of the church’s obligations under the UN convention on the rights of the child.”

 

O’Brien priest worries that church wants to ‘crush’ him

Key figure behind allegations of inappropriate behaviour attacks Catholic church’s response to complaints

March 2, 2013

by Catherine Deveney

The Observer   

 

          A key figure behind allegations of inappropriate behaviour by Cardinal Keith O’Brien has launched a powerful attack on the Catholic church’s response to the complaints, saying he fears the church hierarchy would “crush” him if they could.

Last Sunday the Observer revealed that the former priest, along with three serving priests, had reported O’Brien’s behaviour to the Vatican, prompting the UK’s most senior Catholic to resign the following day. Now the former priest, who says he was the subject of unwanted attention by O’Brien when he was a 20-year-old seminarian, has come forward to explain why he made his allegations public and to lambast the Scottish church leadership’s reaction to last week’s story.

He is “disappointed” by the “lack of integrity” shown by the Catholic church. “There have been two sensations for me this week. One is feeling the hot breath of the media on the back of my neck and the other is sensing the cold disapproval of the church hierarchy for daring to break ranks. I feel like if they could crush me, they would,” he told the Observer.

He added that he was shocked when Peter Kearney, director of communications for the church in Scotland, claimed O’Brien’s resignation was not linked to the Observer story and that the church did not know the details of the allegations.

Kearney said he was unable to comment on suggestions that a new complaint had been lodged as a result of last week’s story. When asked to outline the church’s programme of support for complainants, he said only that they would be directed to Antonio Mennini, the Papal Nuncio, the Vatican’s ambassador to Britain, to make a formal statement.

“The vacuum the church has created has allowed whimsy and speculation to distort the truth,” the priest said. “And the only support I have been offered is a cursory email with a couple of telephone numbers of counsellors hundreds of miles away from me. Anyway, I don’t need counselling about Keith O’Brien’s unwanted behaviour to me as a young man. But I may need counselling about the trauma of speaking truth to power.”

The former cleric says he feels that he, rather than the cardinal, has been the subject of scrutiny. “I have felt very alone and there is a tendency to become reclusive when people are trying to hunt you down.”

He said he felt particularly angered by demands that the identity of the four complainants be revealed: “To those who want to know my name I would say, what does that change? And what do you think I have done wrong?”

He said that when the four came forward to the church, they were asked to make sworn signed statements to Mennini. But they were also warned that if their complaints became public knowledge, they would cause “immense further damage to the church”. The church, he says, failed to act quickly and appropriately, adding that he fears the matter was in danger of being swept under the carpet.

“For me, this is about integrity. I thought it was best to let the men and women who put their hard-earned cash in the plate every Sunday know what has been happening. If you pay into something you have a right, but also a duty, to know what you are paying for.”

He said that the men’s complaints were not maliciously motivated. “I am as sinful as the next man – as my partner and pals frequently remind me. But this isn’t about trying to own the moral high ground. I feel compassion for O’Brien, more compassion than the church is showing me, but the truth has to be available – even when that truth is hard to swallow.”

He also dismissed suggestions that the accusations contain an element of homophobia. ” This is not about a gay culture or a straight culture. It’s about an open culture. I would be happy to see an openly gay bishop, cardinal, or pope. But the church acts as if sexual identity has to be kept secret.”

Has the Bell Begun to Toll for China?

March 1, 2013

by Patrick J. Buchanan

CNS News

            “Why did the Soviet Union disintegrate? Why did the Soviet Communist Party collapse? An important reason was that their ideals and convictions wavered,” China’s new leader, Xi Jinping, told a closed meeting of party elite in Guangdong province.

            “Finally all it took was one quiet word from Gorbachev to declare the dissolution of the Soviet Communist Party, and a great party was gone,” said Xi, according to notes obtained by The New York Times.

             “Everyone is talking about reform, but in fact everyone has a fear of reform,” said Chinese historian Ma Jong. “The question is: Can society be kept under control while you go forward? That is the test.” That is indeed the test.
 
            What is it that gives a party its legitimacy, its right to rule? What holds a nation together when its cradle faith, its founding ideology, has been abandoned by both elites and the people? That is China’s coming crisis.

            With victory in the civil war with the Nationalists in 1949, Mao claimed to have liberated China from both Japanese imperialists and Western colonialists, and restored her dignity. “China has stood up!” he said.

            His party’s claim to absolute power was rooted in what it had done, and also what it must do. Only a party with total power could lead a world revolution. Only an all-powerful party could abolish inequality in a way that made the French Revolution look like a rebellion at Berkeley.

            Xi Jinping’s problem? The Cold War is over. China is herself in the capitalist camp, a member of the G-8, and inequality in the People’s Republic resembles that of America in the Gilded Age.

            How does the Chinese Communist Party justify control of all of China’s institutions today — economic, political, military and cultural?

            If Marxism is mocked behind closed doors by a new economic elite and tens of millions of Chinese young, what can cause the nation to continue to respect and obey a Communist Party and its leaders, besides the gun?

            The answer of Europe in the 1930s is China’s answer today.

             Nationalism, tribalism, patriotic war if necessary, will bring the masses back. If the Chinese nation is being insulted, if ancestral lands are occupied by foreigners as in olden times, the people will rally around a regime that stands up for China. Nationalism will keep Chinese society “under control while you go forward.”

            Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe traces the aggressiveness of Beijing in the Senkaku Islands dispute to a “deeply ingrained” need to appeal to Chinese nationalism in the form of anti-Japanese sentiment dating to the Sino-Japanese War of 1937-1945.

            Chinese nationalism, says Abe, is also behind China’s quarrels with Vietnam and other nations over islands of the South China Sea.

            If Beijing is unable to deliver economic growth, “it will not be able to control the 1.3 billion people … under the one-party rule,” Abe told The Washington Post. He is now denying those quotes.

            But China is not alone in stoking the flames of nationalism to maintain legitimacy.

            Abe has himself taken a firm stand against China in the Senkakus and is moving rightward on patriotism, security and a defense of Japan’s history in the 20th century, and he is rising in the polls. The apologetic and pacifist Japan of yesterday is no more.

            In Russia, a nation that saw its Orthodox faith ripped up by the roots by Josef Stalin, then saw its Marxist-Leninist ideology and a Communist Party that was its Vatican collapse, is searching to locate the ancient sources of Russian patriotism and nationhood. Vladimir Putin seeks to knit back together the empire of the Romanovs and revive the old church.

            In the Muslim world, the secularism of Gamal Abdel Nasser and Saddam Hussein and Bashar Assad are yielding to forces that look all the way back to Muhammad and the Quran as infallible guides to politics, law and national greatness. The Sunni-Shia split recalls our Catholic-Protestant split in the time of Luther, Calvin, Henry VIII, the Council of Trent and the Thirty Years War.

            Nor should America be smug about this search for legitimacy.

            Our British-Protestant then European-Christian identity has gone the way of the Cheshire Cat. In the age of Obama, Jefferson’s Declaration and Madison’s Constitution are invoked to justify societal mandates that would have had the Founding Fathers loading muskets.

            What is our guiding light now that the philosophical, cultural, religious and political roots of the old republic are being systematically severed?

            What gives legitimacy to the American government? Elections, majority rule through universal suffrage of a people, ever-larger shares of whom are ignorant of the faith, culture and civilization whence we came?

            If our economy should sink like Southern Europe’s, if the great god Progress no longer smiles upon us, what do we fall back on?

            One day, Americans will begin to ask themselves such questions, if they have not already begun to do so.

Clint Eastwood backs gay marriage

Million Dollar Baby director one of 80 Republicans to sign legal brief calling for legalisation of same-sex unions

 

March 1, 2013

by Xan Brooks

guardian.co.uk  

         Clint Eastwood lent his support to the fight for gay marriage, adding his name to a legal brief that calls on the US supreme court to legalise same-sex unions. The Oscar-winning film-maker and actor made an eccentric appearance at last year’s Republican national convention, berating an empty chair to the various amusement and bemusement of the gathered dignitaries. He now joins a breakaway group of moderate Republicans that threatens to expose a split within the party.

Eastwood is a resident of the state of California, where a constitutional amendment, Proposition 8, currently limits marriage to a man and a woman. Next month the supreme court is due to hear arguments about the legality of the ban. The arguments could eventually lead to the proposition being overturned and gay marriage being legalised.

The 82-year-old director of Unforgiven and Million Dollar Baby was one of more than 80 Republicans who signed the “friend of the court” brief, which was then released by the American Foundation for Equal Rights. Adam Umhoefer, the foundation’s executive director, described the brief as “a microcosm of what we see happening all across the country”. He added: “Americans are united in the concept of freedom, dignity and strong families.”

A recent poll found that 61% of California voters are now in favour of same-sex marriage.

Manning says he first tried to leak to Washington Post and New York Times

Soldier reads 35-page personal statement revealing how he came to leak information to WikiLeaks after failing elsewhere

February 28, 2013

by Ed Pilkington at Fort Meade

guardian.co.uk 

            Bradley Manning has revealed to his court-martial at Fort Meade, Maryland, that he tried to leak US state secrets to the Washington Post, New York Times and Politico before he turned in frustration to the new anti-secrecy website WikiLeaks.

Manning, the US solider accused of the biggest leak of state secrets in US history, read out a 35-page statement to the court that contained a mass of new detail on how he came to download and then transmit a massive trove of secrets to WikiLeaks. It contains the bombshell disclosure that he wanted to go to mainstream American media but found them impenetrable.

While he was on leave from Iraq and staying in the Washington area in January 2010 he contacted the Washington Post and asked would it be interested in receiving information that he said would be “enormously important to the American people”. He spoke to a woman who said she was a reporter but “she didn’t seem to take me seriously”.

The woman said, according to Manning’s account, that the paper would only be interested subject to vetting by senior editors.

Despairing of that route, Manning turned to the New York Times. He called the public editor of the paper but only got voicemail.

He then tried other numbers on the paper but also got put through to voicemail, and though he left a message with his Skype contact details, nobody called him back. Manning added he had also contemplated going to the website Politico, but harsh weather prevented him.

In Manning’s statement, he provides a wealth of information about how he systematically downloaded and transmitted confidential information to WikiLeaks. That included the video of an Apache helicopter attack in Iraq – the so-called collateral murder video – as well as war logs and hundreds of thousands of diplomatic cables.

Manning insisted that he believed that the cables would not harm US interests, though he suspected it would embarrass the US government by revealing behind the scenes deal-making.

He also gave insight into the ethical reasons that he had for making such an enormous breach of military orders. Referring to the war logs form Iraq and Afghanistan, he said he felt they would reveal the “true costs of war”.

“I felt we were risking so much for people who seemed to be unwilling to cooperate with us leading to frustration and hostility on both sides. I began to get depressed about he situation we were mired in year after year.

“We were obsessed with capturing and killing human targets on lists and ignoring goals and missions. I believed if the public, particularly the American public, could see this it could spark a debate on the military and our foreign policy in general as it applied to Iraq and Afghanistan. It might cause society to reconsider the need to engage in counter terrorism while ignoring the human situation of the people we engaged with every day.”

Manning also revealed that he had lengthy and prolonged discussions with a senior member of WikiLeaks codenamed Ox, whom he went on to name after an author of a book he had read in 2009 – Nathaniel Frank. He said he assumed that “Nathaniel” was Julian Assange – whom Manning pronounced as Ass-angy.

 

Bradley Manning: The Face of Heroism

March 1, 2013

by Glenn Greenwald

The Guardian/UK

In December, 2011, I wrote an Op-Ed in the Guardian arguing that if Bradley Manning did what he is accused of doing, then he is a consummate hero, and deserves a medal and our collective gratitude, not decades in prison. At his court-martial proceeding this afternoon in Fort Meade, Manning, as the Guaridan’s Ed Pilkington reports, pleaded guilty to having been the source of the most significant leaks to WikiLeaks. He also pleaded not guilty to 12 of the 22 counts, including the most serious – the capital offense of “aiding and abetting the enemy”, which could send him to prison for life – on the ground that nothing he did was intended to nor did it result in harm to US national security. The US government will now almost certainly proceed with its attempt to prosecute him on those remaining counts.

Manning’s heroism has long been established in my view, for the reasons I set forth in that Op-Ed. But this was bolstered today as he spoke for an hour in court about what he did and why, reading from a prepared 35-page statement. Wired’s Spencer Ackerman was there and reported:

“Wearing his Army dress uniform, a composed, intense and articulate Pfc. Bradley Manning took ‘full responsibility’ Thursday for providing the anti-secrecy organization WikiLeaks with a trove of classified and sensitive military, diplomatic and intelligence cables, videos and documents. . . .

“Manning’s motivations in leaking, he said, was to ‘spark a domestic debate of the role of the military and foreign policy in general’, he said, and ’cause society to reevaluate the need and even desire to engage in counterterrorism and counterinsurgency operations that ignore their effect on people who live in that environment every day.’

“Manning explain[ed] his actions that drove him to disclose what he said he ‘believed, and still believe . . . are some of the most significant documents of our time’ . . . .

“He came to view much of what the Army told him — and the public — to be false, such as the suggestion the military had destroyed a graphic video of an aerial assault in Iraq that killed civilians, or that WikiLeaks was a nefarious entity. . . .

“Manning said he often found himself frustrated by attempts to get his chain of command to investigate apparent abuses detailed in the documents Manning accessed. . . .”

Manning also said he “first approached three news outlets: the Washington Post, New York Times and Politico” before approaching WikiLeaks. And he repeatedly denied having been encouraged or pushed in any way by WikiLeaks to obtain and leak the documents, thus denying the US government a key part of its attempted prosecution of the whistleblowing group. Instead, “he said he took ‘full responsibility’ for a decision that will likely land him in prison for the next 20 years — and possibly the rest of his life.”

This is all consistent with what Manning is purported to have said in the chat logs with the government snitch who pretended to be a journalist and a pastor in order to assure him of confidentiality but then instead reported him. In those chats, Manning explained that he was leaking because he wanted the world to know what he had learned: “I want people to see the truth … regardless of who they are … because without information, you cannot make informed decisions as a public.” When asked by the informant why he did not sell the documents to a foreign government for profit – something he obviously could have done with ease – Manning replied that he wanted the information to be publicly known in order to trigger “worldwide discussion, debates, and reforms”. He described how he became deeply disillusioned with the Iraq War he had once thought noble, and this caused him to re-examine all of his prior assumptions about the US government. And he extensively narrated how he had learned of serious abuse and illegality while serving in the war – including detaining Iraqi citizens guilty of nothing other than criticizing the Malaki government – but was ignored when he brought those abuses to his superiors.

Manning is absolutely right when he said today that the documents he leaked “are some of the most significant documents of our time”. They revealed a multitude of previously secret crimes and acts of deceit and corruption by the world’s most powerful factions. Journalists and even some government officials have repeatedly concluded that any actual national security harm from his leaks is minimal if it exists at all. To this day, the documents Manning just admitted having leaked play a prominent role in the ability of journalists around the world to inform their readers about vital events. The leaks led to all sorts of journalism awards for WikiLeaks. Without question, Manning’s leaks produced more significant international news scoops in 2010 than those of every media outlet on the planet combined.

This was all achieved because a then-22-year-old Army Private knowingly risked his liberty in order to inform the world about what he learned. He endured treatment which the top UN torture investigator deemed “cruel and inhuman”, and he now faces decades in prison if not life. He knew exactly what he was risking, what he was likely subjecting himself to. But he made the choice to do it anyway because of the good he believed he could achieve, because of the evil that he believed needed urgently to be exposed and combated, and because of his conviction that only leaks enable the public to learn the truth about the bad acts their governments are doing in secret.

Heroism is a slippery and ambiguous concept. But whatever it means, it is embodied by Bradley Manning and the acts which he unflinchingly acknowledged today he chose to undertake. The combination of extreme government secrecy, a supine media (see the prior two columns), and a disgracefully subservient judiciary means that the only way we really learn about what our government does is when the Daniel Ellsbergs – and Bradley Mannings – of the world risk their own personal interest and liberty to alert us. Daniel Ellberg is now widely viewed as heroic and noble, and Bradley Manning (as Ellsberg himself has repeatedly said) merits that praise and gratitude every bit as much.

Bradley Manning’s personal statement to courtmartial: full text

In the absence of a full official copy of Manning’s statement, journalists have had to rely on their own note-taking from court

 

March 1, 2013

guardian.co.uk

          Judge Colonel Denise Lind: Pfc Manning you may read your statement.

Pfc Bradley Manning: Yes, your honor. I wrote this statement in the confinement facility. The following facts are provided in support of the providence inquiry for my court martial, United States v. Pfc Bradley E. Manning.

Personal facts

I am a 25-year-old Private First Class in the United States Army currently assigned to Headquarters and Headquarters Company, HHC, US Army Garrison (USAG), Joint Base Myer, Henderson Hall, Fort Meyer, Virginia.

My [missed word] assignment I was assigned to HHC, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division at Fort Drum, NY. My primary military occupational specialty or MOS is 35 Foxtrot intelligence analyst. I entered active duty status on 2 October 2007. I enlisted with the hope of obtaining both real world experience and earning benefits under the GI Bill for college opportunities.

Facts regarding my position as an intelligence analyst

In order to enlist in the Army I took the Standard Armed Services Aptitude Battery, My score on this battery was high enough for me to qualify for any enlisted MOS positon. My recruiter informed me that I should select an MOS that complimented my interests outside the military. In response, I told him that I was interested in geopolitical matters and information technology. He suggested that I consider becoming an intelligence analyst.

After researching the intelligence analyst position, I agreed that this would be a good fit for me. In particular, I enjoyed the fact that an analyst could use information derived from a variety of sources to create work products that informed the command of its available choices for determining the best course of action or COAs. Although the MOS required working knowledge of computers, it primarily required me to consider how raw information can be combined with other available intelligence sources in order to create products that assisted the command in its situational awareness or SA.

I accessed that my natural interest in geopolitical affairs and my computer skills would make me an excellent intelligence analyst. After enlisting I reported to the Fort Meade military entrance processing station on 1 October 2007. I then traveled to and reported at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri on 2 October 2007 to begin basic combat training or BCT.

Once at Fort Leonard Wood I quickly realized that I was neither physically nor mentally prepared for the requirements of basic training. My BCT experience lasted six months instead of the normal ten weeks. Due to medical issues, I was placed on a hold status. A physical examination indicated that I sustained injuries to my right soldier and left foot.

Due to those injuries I was unable to continue “basic”. During medical hold, I was informed that I may be out processed from the Army, however, I resisted being chaptered out because I felt that I could overcome my medical issues and continue to serve. On 2[8 or 20?] January 2008, I returned to basic combat training. This time I was better prepared and I completed training on 2 April 2008.

I then reported for the MOS specific Advanced Individual Training or AIT on 7 April 2008. AIT was an enjoyable experience for me. Unlike basic training where I felt different from the other soldiers, I fit in did well. I preferred the mental challenges of reviewing a large amount of information from various sources and trying to create useful or actionable products. I especially enjoyed the practice of analysis through the use of computer applications and methods that I was familiar with.

I graduated from AIT on 16 August 2008 and reported to my first duty station, Fort Drum, NY on 28 August 2008. As an analyst, Significant Activities or SigActs were a frequent source of information for me to use in creating work products. I started working extensively with SigActs early after my arrival at Fort Drum. My computer background allowed me to use the tools of organic to the Distributed Common Ground System-Army or D6-A computers to create polished work products for the 2nd Brigade Combat Team chain of command.

The non-commissioned officer in charge, or NCOIC, of the S2 section, then Master Sergeant David P. Adkins recognized my skills and potential and tasked me to work on a tool abandoned by a previously assigned analyst, the incident tracker. The incident tracker was viewed as a back up to the Combined Information Data Network Exchange or CIDNE and as a unit, historical reference to work with.

In the months preceding my upcoming deployment, I worked on creating a new version of the incident tracker and used SigActs to populate it. The SigActs I used were from Afghanistan, because at the time our unit was scheduled to deploy to the Logar and Wardak Provinces of Afghanistan. Later my unit was reassigned to deploy to Eastern Baghdad, Iraq. At that point, I removed the Afghanistan SigActs and switched to Iraq SigActs.

As and analyst I viewed the SigActs as historical data. I believed this view is shared by other all-source analysts as well. SigActs give a first look impression of a specific or isolated event. This event can be an improvised explosive device attack or IED, small arms fire engagement or SAF engagement with a hostile force, or any other event a specific unit documented and recorded in real time.

In my perspective the information contained within a single SigAct or group of SigActs is not very sensitive. The events encapsulated within most SigActs involve either enemy engagements or causalities. Most of this information is publicly reported by the public affairs office or PAO, embedded media pools, or host nation HN media.

As I started working with SigActs I felt they were similar to a daily journal or log that a person may keep. They capture what happens on a particular day in time. They are created immediately after the event, and are potentially updated over a period of hours until final version is published on the Combined Information Data Network Exchange. Each unit has its own Standard Operating Procedure or SOP for reporting recording SigActs. The SOP may differ between reporting in a particular deployment and reporting in garrison.

In garrison a SigAct normally involves personnel issues such as driving under the influence or DUI incidents or an automobile accident involving the death or serious injury of a soldier. The reports starts at the company level and goes up to the battalion, brigade, and even up to the division level.

In deployed environment a unit may observe or participate in an event and a platoon leader or platoon sergeant may report the event as a SigAct to the company headquarters and the radio transmission operator or RTO. The commander or RTO will then forward the report to the battalion battle captain or battle non-commissioned officer or NCO. Once the battalion battle captain or battle NCO receives the report they will either (1) notify the battalion operations officer or S3; (2) conduct an action, such as launching a quick reaction force; or (3) record the event and report and further report it up the chain of command to the brigade.

The reporting of each event is done by radio or over the Secret Internet Protocol Router Network or SIPRNet, normally by an assigned soldier, usually junior enlisted E-4 and below. Once the SigAct is recorded, the SigAct is further sent up the chain of command. At each level, additional information can either be added or corrected as needed. Normally within 24 to 48 hours, the updating and reporting or a particular SigAct is complete. Eventually all reports and SigActs go through the chain of command from brigade to division and division to corp. At corp level the SigAct is finalized and [missed word].

The CIDNE system contains a database that is used by thousands of Department of Defense (DoD) personel including soldiers, civilians, and contractors support. It was the United States Central Command or CENTCOM reporting tool for operational reporting in Iraq and Afghanistan. Two separate but similar databases were maintained for each theater –CIDNE-I for Iraq and CIDNE-A for Afghanistan. Each database encompasses over a hundred types of reports and other historical information for access. They contain millions of vetted and finalized directories including operational intelligence reporting.

CIDNE was created to collect and analyze battle-space data to provide daily operational and Intelligence Community (IC) reporting relevant to a commander’s daily decision making process. The CIDNE-I and CIDNE-A databases contain reporting and analysis fields for multiple disciplines including Human Intelligence or HUMINT reports, Psychological Operations or PSYOP reports, Engagement reports, Counter Improvised Explosive Device or CIED reports, SigAct reports, Targeting reports, Social and Cultural reports, Civil Affairs reports, and Human Terrain reporting.

As an intelligence analyst, I had unlimited access to the CIDNE-I and CIDNE-A databases and the information contained within them. Although each table within the database is important, I primarily dealt with HUMINT reports, SigAct reports and Counter IED reports, because these reports were used to create a work-product I was required to published as an analyst.

In working on an assignment I looked anywhere and everywhere for information. As an all-source analyst, this was something that was expected. The D6-A systems had databases built in, and I utilized them on a daily basis. This simply was – the search tools available on the D6-A systems on SIPRNet such as Query Tree and the DoD and Intellink search engines.

Primarily, I utilized the CIDNE database using the historical and HUMINT reporting to conduct my analysis and provide a back up for my work product. I did statistical analysis on historical data including SigActs to back up analysis that were based on HUMINT reporting and produce charts, graphs, and tables. I also created maps and charts to conduct predictive analysis based on statistical trends. The SigAct reporting provided a reference point for what occurred and provided myself and other analysts with the information to conclude possible outcome.

Although SigAct reporting is sensitive at the time of their creation, their sensitivity normally dissipates within 48 to 72 hours as the information is either publicly released or the unit involved is no longer in the area and not in danger.

It is my understanding that the SigAct reports remain classified only because they are maintained within CIDNE – because it is only accessible on SIPRnet. Everything on CIDNE-I and CIDNE-A to include SigAct reporting was treated as classified information.

Facts regarding the storage of SigAct reports

As part of my training at Fort Drum, I was instructed to ensure that I create back ups of my work product. The need to create back ups was particularly acute given the relative instability and reliability of the computer systems we used in the field during deployment. These computer systems included both organic and theater provided equipment (TPE) D6-A machines.

The organic D6-A machines we brought with us into the field on our deployment were Dell [missed word] laptops and the TPE D6-A machines were Alienware brand laptops. The [M90?] D6-A laptops were the preferred machine to use as they were slightly faster and had fewer problems with dust and temperature than the theater provided Alienware laptops. I used several D6-A machines during the deployment due to various technical problems with the laptops.

With these issues several analysts lost information, but I never lost information due to the multiple backups I created. I attempted to backup as much relevant information as possible. I would save the information so that I or another analyst could quickly access it whenever a 1machine crashed, SIPRnet connectivity was down, or I forgot where the data was stored.

When backing up information I would do one or all of the following things based on my training:

1. Physical back up. I tried to keep physical back up copies of information on paper so that the information could be grabbed quickly. Also, it was easier to brief from hard copies of research and HUMINT reports.

2. Local drive back up. I tried to sort out information I deemed relevant and keep complete copies of the information on each of the computers I used in the Temporary Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility or T-SCIF, including my primary and secondary D6-A machines. This was stored under my user profile on the desktop.

3. Shared drive backup. Each analyst had access to a T- drive – what we called T-drive shared across the SIPRnet. It allowed others to access information that was stored on it. S6 operated the T-drive.

4. Compact disk rewritable or CD-RW back up. For larger datasets I saved the information onto a re-writable disk, labeled the disks, and stored them in the conference room of the T-SCIF. This redundancy permitted us to not worry about information loss. If the system crashed, I could easily pull the information from a secondary computer, the T-drive, or one of the CD-RWs.

If another analysts wanted to access my data, but I was unavailable she could find my published products directory on the T-drive or on the CD-RWs. I sorted all of my products or research by date, time, and group; and updated the information on each of the storage methods to ensure that the latest information was available to them.

During the deployment I had several of the D6-A machines crash on me. Whenever one of the computer crashed, I usually lost information but the redundancy method ensured my ability to quickly restore old backup data and add my current information to the machine when it was repaired or replaced.

I stored the backup CD-RW with larger datasets in the conference room of the T-SCIF or next to my workstation. I marked the CD-RWs based on the classification level and its content. Unclassified CD-RWs were only labeled with the content type and not marked with classification markings. Early on in the deployment, I only saved and stored the SigActs that were within or near operational environment.

Later I thought it would be easier to just to save all of the SigActs onto a CD-RW. The process would not take very long to complete and so I downloaded the SigActs from CIDNE-I onto a CD-RW. After finishing with CIDNE-I, I did the same with CIDNE-A. By retrieving the CIDNE-I and CIDNE-A SigActs I was able to retrieve the information whenever I needed it, and not rely upon the unreliable and slow SIPRnet connectivity needed to pull. Instead, I could just find the CD-RW and open up a pre-loaded spreadsheet.

This process began in late December 2009 and continued through early January 2010. I could quickly export one month of the SigAct data at a time and download in the background as I did other tasks.

The process took approximately a week for each table. After downloading the SigAct tables, I periodically updated them, by pulling the most recent SigActs and simply copying them and pasting them into the database saved on the CD-RW. I never hid the fact that I had downloaded copies of both the SigAct tables from CIDNE-I and CIDNE-A. They were stored on appropriately labeled and marked CD-RW, stored in the open.

I viewed this the saving copies of CIDNE-I and CIDNE-A as for both for my use and the use of anyone within the S2 section during the SIPRnet connectivity issues.

In addition to the SigAct tables, I had a large repository of HUMINT reports and Counter IED reports downloaded from CIDNE-I. These contained reports that were relevant to the area in and around our operational environment in Eastern Baghdad and the Diyala Province of Iraq.
In order to compress the data to fit onto a CD-RW, I used a compression algorithm called “bzip2″. The program used to compress the data is called WinRAR. WinRAR is an application that is free, and can be easily downloaded from the internet via the Non-Secure Internet Relay Protocol Network or NIPRnet. I downloaded WinRAR on NIPRnet and transfered it to the D6-A machine user profile desktop using a CD-RW. I did not try to hide the fact that I was downloading WinRAR onto my SIPRnet D6-A machine or computer.

With the assistance of the bzip2 algorithm using the WinRAR program, I was able to fit All of the SigActs onto a single CD-RW and relevant HUMINT and Counter ID reports onto a separate CD-RW.

Facts regarding my knowledge of the WikiLeaks organization or WLO

I first became vaguely aware of the WLO during my AIT at Fort Huachuca, Arizona, although I did not fully pay attention until the WLO released purported Short Messaging System or SMS messages from 11 September 2001 on 25 November 2009. At that time references to the release and the WLO website showed up in my daily Google news open source search for information related to US foreign policy.

The stories were about how WLO published about approximately 500,000 messages. I then reviewed the messages myself and realized that the posted messages were very likely real given the sheer volume and detail of the content.

After this, I began conducting research on WLO. I conducted searched on both NIPRnet and SIPRnet on WLO beginning in late November 2009 and early December 2009. At this time I also began to routinely monitor the WLO website. In response to one of my searches in 2009, I found the United States Army Counter Intelligence Center or USACIC report on the WikiLeaks organization. After reviewing the report, I believed that this report was possibly the one that my AIT referenced in early 2008.

I may or may not have saved the report on my D6-A workstation. I know I reviewed the document on other occasions throughout early 2010, and saved it on both my primary and secondary laptops. After reviewing the report, I continued doing research on WLO. However, based upon my open-source collection, I discovered information that contradicted the 2008 USACIC report including information that indicated that similar to other press agencies, WLO seemed to be dedicated to exposing illegal activities and corruption.

WLO received numerous award and recognition for its reporting activities. Also, in reviewing the WLO website, I found information regarding US military SOPs for Camp Delta at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba and information on the then outdated rules of engagement for ROE in Iraq for cross-border pursuits of former members of Saddam Hussein [missed word] government.

After seeing the information available on the WLO website, I continued following it and collecting open sources information from it. During this time period, I followed several organizations and groups including wire press agencies such as the Associated Press and Reuters and private intelligence agencies including Strategic Forecasting or Stratfor. This practice was something I was trained to do during AIT, and was something that good analysts were expected to do.

During the searches of WLO, I found several pieces of information that I found useful in my work product in my work as an analyst, specifically I recall WLO publishing documents related to weapons trafficking between two nations that affected my OP. I integrated this information into one or more of my work products.

In addition to visiting the WLO website, I began following WLO using Instand Relay Chat or IRC Client called XChat sometime in early January 2010.

IRC is a protocol for real time internet communications by messaging and conferencing, colloquially referred to as chat rooms or chats. The IRC chat rooms are designed for group communication discussion forums. Each IRC chat room is called a channel – similar to a Television where you can tune in or follow a channel – so long as it is open and does not require [missed word].

Once you [missed word] a specific IRC conversation, other users in the conversation can see that you have joined the room. On the Internet there are millions of different IRC channels across several services. Channel topics span a range of topics covering all kinds of interests and hobbies. The primary reason for following WLO on IRC was curiosity – particularly in regards to how and why they obtained the SMS messages referenced above. I believed that collecting information on the WLO would assist me in this goal.

Initially I simply observed the IRC conversations. I wanted to know how the organization was structured, and how they obtained their data. The conversations I viewed were usually technical in nature but sometimes switched to a lively debate on issue the particular individual may have felt strongly about.

Over a period of time I became more involved in these discussions especially when conversations turned to geopolitical events and information technology topics, such as networking and encryption methods. Based on these observations, I would describe the WL organization as almost academic in nature. In addition to the WLO conversations, I participated in numerous other IRC channels acros at least three different networks. The other IRC channels I participated in normally dealt with technical topics including with Linux and Berkley Secure Distribution BSD operating systems or OSs, networking, encryption algorithms and techniques and other more political topics, such as politics and [missed word].

I normally engaged in multiple IRC conversations simultaneously –mostly publicly, but often privately. The XChat client enabled me to manage these multiple conversations across different channels and servers. The screen for XChat was often busy, but its screens enabled me to see when something was interesting. I would then select the conversation and either observe or participate.

I really enjoyed the IRC conversations pertaining to and involving the WLO, however, at some point in late February or early March of 2010, the WLO IRC channel was no longer accessible. Instead, regular participants of this channel switched to using the Jabber server. Jabber is another internet communication [missed word] similar but more sophisticated than IRC.

The IRC and Jabber conversations, allowed me to feel connected to others even when alone. They helped pass the time and keep motivated throughout the deployment.

Facts regarding the unauthorized storage and disclosure of the SigActs

As indicated above I created copies of the CIDNE-I and CIDNE-A SigAct tables as part of the process of backing up information. At the time I did so, I did not intend to use this information for any purpose other than for back up. However, I later decided to release this information publicly. At that time, I believe and still believe that these tables are two of the most significant documents of our time.

On 8 January 2010, I collected the CD-RW I stored in the conference room of the T-SCIF and placed it into the cargo pocket of my ACU or Army Combat Uniform. At the end of my shift, I took the CD-RW out of the T-SCIF and brought it to my Containerized Housing Unit of CHU. I copied the data onto my personal laptop. Later at the beginning of my shift, I returned the CD-RW back to the conference room of the T-SCIF. At the time I saved the SigActs to my laptop, I planned to take them with me on mid-tour leave and decide what to do with them.
At some point prior to my mid-tour, I transfered the information from my computer to a Secure Digital memory card from my digital camera. The SD card for the camera also worked on my computer and allowed me to store the SigAct tables in a secure manner for transport.

I began mid-tour leave on 23 January 2010, flying from Atlanta, Georgia to Reagan National Airport in Virginia. I arrived at the home of my aunt, Debra M. Van Alstyne, in Potomac, Maryland and quickly got into contact with my then boyfriend, Tyler R. Watkins. Tyler, then a student at Brandeis University in Waltham, Massachusetts, and I made plans for me to visit him him Boston, Massachusetts [missed word].

I was excited to see Tyler and planned on talking to Tyler about where our relationship was going and about my time in Iraq. However, when I arrived in the Boston area Tyler and I seemed to become distant. He did not seem very excited about my return from Iraq. I tried talking to him about our relationship but he refused to make any plans.

I also tried to raising the topic of releasing the CIDNE-I and CIDNE-A SigAct tables to the public. I asked Tyler hypothetical questions about what he would do if he had documents that he thought the public needed access to. Tyler really didn’t have a specific answer for me. He tried to answer the questions and be supportive, but seemed confused by the question in this context.

I then tried to be more specific, but he asked too many questions. Rather than try to explain my dilemma, I decided to just drop the conversation. After a few days in Waltham, I began to feel really bad. I was over staying my welcome, and I returned to Maryland. I spent the remainder of my time on leave in the Washington, DC area.

During this time a blizzard bombarded the mid-atlantic, and I spent a significant period of time essentially stuck in my aunt’s house in Maryland. I began to think about what I knew and the information I still had in my possession. For me, the SigActs represented the on the ground reality of both the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan.

I felt that we were risking so much for people that seemed unwilling to cooperate with us, leading to frustration and anger on both sides. I began to become depressed with the situation that we found ourselves increasingly mired in year after year. The SigActs documented this in great detail and provide a context of what we were seeing on the ground.

In attempting to conduct counter-terrorism or CT and counter-insurgency COIN operations we became obsessed with capturing and killing human targets on lists and not being suspicious of and avoiding cooperation with our Host Nation partners, and ignoring the second and third order effects of accomplishing short-term goals and missions. I believe that if the general public, especially the American public, had access to the information contained within the CIDNE-I and CIDNE-A tables this could spark a domestic debate on the role of the military and our foreign policy in general as [missed word] as it related to Iraq and Afghanistan.

I also believed the detailed analysis of the data over a long period of time by different sectors of society might cause society to reevaluate the need or even the desire to even to engage in counterterrorism and counterinsurgency operations that ignore the complex dynamics of the people living in the effected environment everyday.

At my aunt’s house I debated what I should do with the SigActs – in particular whether I should hold on to them – or expose them through a press agency. At this point I decided that it made sense to try to expose the SigAct tables to an American newspaper. I first called my local news paper, The Washington Post, and spoke with a woman saying that she was a reporter. I asked her if the Washington Post would be interested in receiving information that would have enormous value to the American public.

Although we spoke for about five minutes concerning the general nature of what I possessed, I do not believe she took me seriously. She informed me that the Washington Post would possibly be interested, but that such decisions were made only after seeing the information I was referring to and after consideration by senior editors.

I then decided to contact [missed word] the most popular newspaper, The New York Times. I called the public editor number on The New York Times website. The phone rang and was answered by a machine. I went through the menu to the section for news tips. I was routed to an answering machine. I left a message stating I had access to information about Iraq and Afghanistan that I believed was very important. However, despite leaving my Skype phone number and personal email address, I never received a reply from The New York Times.

I also briefly considered dropping into the office for the Political Commentary blog, Politico, however the weather conditions during my leave hampered my efforts to travel. After these failed efforts I had ultimately decided to submit the materials to the WLO. I was not sure if the WLO would actually publish these SigAct tables [missed a few words]. I was concerned that they might not be noticed by the American media. However, based upon what I read about the WLO through my research described above, this seemed to be the best medium for publishing this information to the world within my reach.

At my aunts house I joined in on an IRC conversation and stated I had information that needed to be shared with the world. I wrote that the information would help document the true cost of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. One of the individuals in the IRC asked me to describe the information. However, before I could describe the information another individual pointed me to the link for the WLO web site online submission system. After ending my IRC connection, I considered my options one more time. Ultimately, I felt that the right thing to do was to release the SigActs.

On 3 February 2010, I visited the WLO website on my computer and clicked on the submit documents link. Next I found the submit your information online link and elected to submit the SigActs via the onion router or TOR anonymizing network by special link. TOR is a system intended to provide anonymity online. The software routes internet traffic through a network of servers and other TOR clients in order to conceal the user’s location and identity.

I was familiar with TOR and had it previously installed on a computer to anonymously monitor the social media website of militia groups operating within central Iraq. I followed the prompts and attached the compressed data files of CIDNE-I and CIDNE-A SigActs. I attached a text file I drafted while preparing to provide the documents to the Washington Post. It provided rough guidelines saying: “It’s already been sanitized of any source identifying information. You might need to sit on this information – perhaps 90 to 100 days to figure out how best to release such a large amount of data and to protect its source. This is possibly one of the more significant documents of our time removing the fog of war and revealing the true nature of twenty-first century asymmetric warfare. Have a good day.”

After sending this, I left the SD card in a camera case at my aunt’s house in the event I needed it again in the future. I returned from mid-tour leave on 11 February 2010. Although the information had not yet been publicly by the WLO, I felt this sense of relief by them having it. I felt I had accomplished something that allowed me to have a clear conscience based upon what I had seen and read about and knew were happening in both Iraq and Afghanistan everyday.

Facts regarding the unauthorized storage and disclosure of 10 Reykjavik 13

I first became aware of the diplomatic cables during my training period in AIT. I later learned about the Department of State or DoS Net-centric Diplomacy NCD portal from the 2/10 Brigade Combat Team S2, Captain Steven Lim. Captain Lim sent a section wide email to the other analysts and officer in late December 2009 containing the SIPRnet link to the portal along with the instructions to look at the cables contained within them and to incorporate them into our work product.

Shortly after this I also noticed the diplomatic cables were being reported to in products from the corp level US Forces Iraq or US-I. Based upon Captain Lim’s direction to become familiar with its contents, I read virtually every published cable concerning Iraq.

I also began scanning the database and reading other random cables that piqued my curiosity. It was around this time – in early to mid-January of 2010, that I began searching the database for information on Iceland. I became interested in Iceland due to the IRC conversations I viewed in the WLO channel discussing an issue called Icesave. At this time I was not very familiar with the topic, but it seemed to be a big issue for those participating in the conversation. This is when I decided to investigate and conduct a few searches on Iceland and find out more.

At the time, I did not find anything discussing the Icesave issue either directly or indirectly. I then conducted an open source search for Icesave. I then learned that Iceland was involved in a dispute with the United Kingdom and the Netherlands concerning the financial collapse of one or more of Iceland’s banks. According to open source reporting much of the public controversy involved the United Kingdom’s use of anti-terrorism legislation against Iceland in order to freeze Icelandic access for payment of the guarantees for UK depositors that lost money.

Shortly after returning from mid-tour leave, I returned to the Net Centric Diplomacy portal to search for information on Iceland and Icesave as the topic had not abated on the WLO IRC channel. To my surprise, on 14 February 2010, I found the cable 10 Reykjavik 13, which referenced the Icesave issue directly.

The cable published on 13 January 2010 was just over two pages in length. I read the cable and quickly concluded that Iceland was essentially being bullied diplomatically by two larger European powers. It appeared to me that Iceland was out viable options and was coming to the US for assistance. Despite the quiet request for assistance, it did not appear that we were going to do anything.

From my perspective it appeared that we were not getting involved due to the lack of long term geopolitical benefit to do so. After digesting the contents of 10 Reykjavik 13 I debated whether this was something I should send to the WLO. At this point the WLO had not published or acknowledged receipt of the CIDNE-I and CIDNE-A tables. Despite not knowing that the SigActs were a priority for the WLO, I decided the cable was something that would be important. I felt that I would be able to right a wrong by having them publish this document. I burned the information onto a CD-RW on 15 February 2010, took it to my CHU, and saved it onto my personal laptop.

I navigated to the WLO website via a TOR connection like before and uploaded the document via the secure form. Amazingly, when WLO published 10 Reykjavik 13 within hours, proving that the form worked and that they must have received the SigAct tables.

Facts regarding the unauthorized storage and disclosure of the 12 July 2007 aerial weapons team or AW team video

During the mid-February 2010 time frame the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division targeting analysts, then Specialist Jihrleah W. Showman discussed a video that Ms. Showman had found on the T-drive.

The video depicted several individuals being engaged by an aerial weapons team. At first I did not consider the video very special, as I have viewed countless other war porn type videos depicting combat. However, the recording of audio comments by the aerial weapons team crew and the second engagement in the video of an unarmed bongo truck troubled me.

As Showman and a few other analysts and officers in the T-SCIF commented on the video and debated whether the crew violated the rules of engagement or ROE in the second engagement, I shied away from this debate, instead conducting some research on the event. I wanted to learn what happened and whether there was any background to the events of the day that the event occurred, 12 July 2007.

Using Google I searched for the event by its date by its general location. I found several new accounts involving two Reuters employees who were killed during the aerial weapon team engagement. Another story explained that Reuters had requested for a copy of the video under the Freedom of Information Act or FOIA. Reuters wanted to view the video in order to understand what had happened and to improve their safety practices in combat zones. A spokesperson for Reuters was quoted saying that the video might help avoid the reoccurrence of the tragedy and believed there was a compelling need for the immediate release of the video.

Despite the submission of the FOIA request, the news account explained that CENTCOM replied to Reuters stating that they could not give a time frame for considering a FOIA request and that the video might no longer exist. Another story I found written a year later said that even though Reuters was still pursuing their request. They still did not receive a formal response or written determination in accordance with FOIA.

The fact neither CENTCOM or Multi National Forces Iraq or MNF-I would not voluntarily release the video troubled me further. It was clear to me that the event happened because the aerial weapons team mistakenly identified Reuters employees as a potential threat and that the people in the bongo truck were merely attempting to assist the wounded. The people in the van were not a threat but merely “good samaritans”. The most alarming aspect of the video to me, however, was the seemly delightful bloodlust they appeared to have.

            They dehumanized the individuals they were engaging and seemed to not value human life by referring to them as quote “dead bastards” unquote and congratulating each other on the ability to kill in large numbers. At one point in the video there is an individual on the ground attempting to crawl to safety. The individual is seriously wounded. Instead of calling for medical attention to the location, one of the aerial weapons team crew members verbally asks for the wounded person to pick up a weapon so that he can have a reason to engage. For me, this seems similar to a child torturing ants with a magnifying glass.

While saddened by the aerial weapons team crew’s lack of concern about human life, I was disturbed by the response of the discovery of injured children at the scene. In the video, you can see that the bongo truck driving up to assist the wounded individual. In response the aerial weapons team crew – as soon as the individuals are a threat, they repeatedly request for authorization to fire on the bongo truck and once granted they engage the vehicle at least six times.

Shortly after the second engagement, a mechanized infantry unit arrives at the scene. Within minutes, the aerial weapons team crew learns that children were in the van and despite the injuries the crew exhibits no remorse. Instead, they downplay the significance of their actions, saying quote “Well, it’s their fault for bringing their kids into a battle” unquote.

The aerial weapons team crew members sound like they lack sympathy for the children or the parents. Later in a particularly disturbing manner, the aerial weapons team verbalizes enjoyment at the sight of one of the ground vehicles driving over a body – or one of the bodies. As I continued my research, I found an article discussing the book, The Good Soldiers, written by Washington Post writer David Finkel.

In Mr. Finkel book, he writes about the aerial weapons team attack. As, I read an online excerpt in Google Books, I followed Mr. Finkel’s account of the event belonging to the video. I quickly realize that Mr. Finkel was quoting, I feel in verbatim, the audio communications of the aerial weapons team crew.

It is clear to me that Mr. Finkel obtained access and a copy of the video during his tenue as an embedded journalist. I was aghast at Mr. Finkel’s portrayal of the incident. Reading his account, one would believe the engagement was somehow justified as “payback” for an earlier attack that lead to the death of a soldier. Mr. Finkel ends his account by discussing how a soldier finds an individual still alive from the attack. He writes that the soldier finds him and sees him gesture with his two forefingers together, a common method in the Middle East to communicate that they are friendly. However, instead of assisting him, the soldier makes an obscene gesture extending his middle finger.

The individual apparently dies shortly thereafter. Reading this, I can only think of how this person was simply trying to help others, and then he quickly finds he needs help as well. To make matter worse, in the last moments of his life, he continues to express his friendly gesture – only to find himself receiving this well known gesture of unfriendliness. For me it’s all a big mess, and I am left wondering what these things mean, and how it all fits together. It burdens me emotionally.

I saved a copy of the video on my workstation. I searched for and found the rules of engagement, the rules of engagement annexes, and a flow chart from the 2007 time period – as well as an unclassified Rules of Engagement smart card from 2006. On 15 February 2010 I burned these documents onto a CD-RW, the same time I burned the 10 Reykjavik 13 cable onto a CD-RW. At the time, I placed the video and rules for engagement information onto my personal laptop in my CHU. I planned to keep this information there until I redeployed in Summer 2010. I planned on providing this to the Reuters office in London to assist them in preventing events such as this in the future.

However, after the WLO published 10 Reykjavik 13 I altered my plans. I decided to provide the video and the rules of engagement to them so that Reuters would have this information before I re-deployed from Iraq. On about 21 February 2010, I described above, I used the WLO submission form and uploaded the documents. The WLO released the video on 5 April 2010. After the release, I was concern about the impact of the video and how it would been received by the general public.

I hoped that the public would be as alarmed as me about the conduct of the aerial weapons team crew members. I wanted the American public to know that not everyone in Iraq and Afghanistan are targets that needed to be neutralized, but rather people who were struggling to live in the pressure cooker environment of what we call asymmetric warfare. After the release I was encouraged by the response in the media and general public, who observed the aerial weapons team video. As I hoped, others were just as troubled – if not more troubled that me by what they saw.

At this time, I began seeing reports claiming that the Department of Defense an CENTCOM could not confirm the authenticity of the video. Additionally, one of my supervisors, Captain Casey Fulton, stated her belief that the video was not authentic. In her response, I decided to ensure that the authenticity of the video would not be questioned in the future. On 25 February 2010, I emailed Captain Fulton, a link to the video that was on our T-drive, and a copy of the video published by WLO that was collected by the open source center, so she could compare them herself.

Around this time frame, I burned a second CD-RW containing the aerial weapons team video. In order to made it appear authentic, I placed a classification sticker and wrote Reuters FOIA REQ on its face. I placed the CD-RW in one of my personal CD cases containing a set of “Starting Out in Arabic” CD’s. I planned on mailing out the CD-RW to Reuters after our re-deployment, so they could have a copy that was unquestionably authentic.

Almost immediately after submitting the aerial weapons team video and rules of engagement documents I notified the individuals in the WLO IRC to expect an important submission. I received a response from an individual going by the handle of “Ox” – at first our conversations were general in nature, but over time as our conversations progressed, I accessed this individual to be an important part of the WLO.

Due to the strict adherence of anonymity by the WLO, we never exchanged identifying information. However, I believe the individual was likely Mr. Julian Assange [he pronounced it with three syllables], Mr. Daniel Schmidt, or a proxy representative of Mr. Assange and Schmidt.

As the communications transfered from IRC to the Jabber client, I gave “Ox” and later “pressassociation” the name of Nathaniel Frank in my address book, after the author of a book I read in 2009.

After a period of time, I developed what I felt was a friendly relationship with Nathaniel. Our mutual interest in information technology and politics made our conversations enjoyable. We engaged in conversation often. Sometimes as long as an hour or more. I often looked forward to my conversations with Nathaniel after work.

The anonymity that was provided by TOR and the Jabber client and the WLO’s policy allowed me to feel I could just be myself, free of the concerns of social labeling and perceptions that are often placed upon me in real life. In real life, I lacked a closed friendship with the people I worked with in my section, the S2 section.

In my section, the S2 section supported battalions and the 2nd Brigade Combat Team as a whole. For instance, I lacked close ties with my roommate to his discomfort regarding my perceived sexual orientation. Over the next few months, I stayed in frequent contact with Nathaniel. We conversed on nearly a daily basis and I felt that we were developing a friendship.

Conversations covered many topics and I enjoyed the ability to talk about pretty much everything, and not just the publications that the WLO was working on. In retrospect that these dynamics were artificial and were valued more by myself than Nathaniel. For me these conversations represented an opportunity to escape from the immense pressures and anxiety that I experienced and built up through out the deployment. It seems that as I tried harder to fit in at work, the more I seemed to alienate my peers and lose respect, trust, and support I needed.

            On 27 February 2010, a report was received from a subordinate battalion. The report described an event in which the Federal Police or FP detained 15 individuals for printing anti-Iraqi literature.  On 2 March 2010, I received instructions from an S3 section officer in the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division Tactical Operation Center or TOC to investigate the matter, and figure out who the quote “bad guys” unquote were and how significant this event was for the Federal Police.

Over the course of my research I found that none of the individuals had previous ties to anti-Iraqi actions or suspected terrorist militia groups. A few hours later, I received several [playlist?] from the scene – from this subordinate battalion. They were accidentally sent to an officer on a different team on the S2 section and she forwarded them to me.

These photos included picture of the individuals, pallets of unprinted paper and seized copies of the final printed material or the printed document; and a high resolution photo of the printed material itself. I printed up one [missed word] copy of a high resolution photo – I laminated it for ease of use and transfer. I then walked to the TOC and delivered the laminated copy to our category two interpreter.

She reviewed the information and about a half and hour later delivered a rough written transcript in English to the S2 section. I read the transcript and followed up with her, asking her for her take on the content. She said it was easy for her to transcribe verbatim, since I blew up the photograph and laminated it. She said the general nature of the document was benign. The document, as I had sensed as well, was merely a scholarly critique of the then current Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.

It detailed corruption within the cabinet of al-Maliki’s government and the financial impact of his corruption on the Iraqi people. After discovering this discrepancy between the Federal Police’s report and the interpreter’s transcript, I forwarded this discovery to the top OIC and the battle NCOIC. The top OIC and the overhearing battle captain informed me that they didn’t need or want to know this information anymore. They told me to quote “drop it” unquote and to just assist them and the Federal Police in finding out, where more of these print shops creating quote “anti-Iraqi literature” unquote.

I couldn’t believe what I heard and I returned to the T-SCIF and complained to the other analysts and my section NCOIC about what happened. Some were sympathetic, but no one wanted to do anything about it.

I am the type of person who likes to know how things work. And, as an analyst, this means I always want to figure out the truth. Unlike other analysts in my section or other sections within the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, I was not satisfied with just scratching the surface and producing canned or cookie cutter assessments. I wanted to know why something was the way it was, and what we could to correct or mitigate a situation.

I knew that if I continued to assist the Baghdad Federal Police in identifying the political opponents of Prime Minister al-Maliki, those people would be arrested and in the custody of the Special Unit of the Baghdad Federal Police and very likely tortured and not seen again for a very long time – if ever.

Instead of assisting the Special Unit of the Baghdad Federal Police, I decided to take the information and expose it to the WLO, in the hope that before the upcoming 7 March 2010 election, they could generate some immediate press on the issue and prevent this unit of the Federal Police from continuing to crack down in political opponents of al-Maliki.

On 4 March 2010, I burned the report, the photos, the high resolution copy of the pamphlet, and the interpreters hand written transcript onto a CD-RW. I took the CD-RW to my CHU and copied the data onto my personal computer. Unlike the times before, instead of uploading the information through the WLO website submission form. I made a Secure File Transfer Protocol or SFTP connection to a file drop box operated by the WLO.

The drop box contained a folder that allowed me to upload directly into it. Saving files into this directory. Allowed anyone with log in access to server to view and download them. After uploading these files to the WLO, on 5 March 2010, I notified Nathaniel over Jabber. Although sympathetic, he said that the WLO needed more information to confirm the event in order for it to be published or to gain interest in the international media.

I attempted to provide the specifics, but to my disappointment, the WLO website chose not to publish this information. At the same time, I began sifting through information from the US Southern Command or SOUTHCOM and Joint Task Force Guantanamo, Cuba or JTF-GTMO. The thought occurred to me – although unlikely, that I wouldn’t be surprised if the individuals detainees by the Federal Police might be turned over back into US custody – and ending up in the custody of Joint Task Force Guantanamo.

As I digested through the information on Joint Task Force Guantanamo, I quickly found the Detainee Assessment Briefs or DABs. I previously came across the documents before in 2009 but did not think much about them. However, this time I was more curious in this search and I found them again.

The DABs were written in standard DoD memorandum format and addressed the commander US SOUTHCOM. Each memorandum gave basic and background information about a detainee held at some point by Joint Task Force Guantanamo. I have always been interested on the issue of the moral efficacy of our actions surrounding Joint Task Force Guantanamo. On the one hand, I have always understood the need to detain and interrogate individuals who might wish to harm the United States and our allies, however, I felt that what we were trying to do at Joint Task Force Guantanamo.

However, the more I became educated on the topic, it seemed that we found ourselves holding an increasing number of individuals indefinitely that we believed or knew to be innocent, low level foot soldiers that did not have useful intelligence and would be released if they were still held in theater.

I also recall that in early 2009 the, then newly elected president, Barack Obama, stated that he would close Joint Task Force Guantanamo, and that the facility compromised our standing over all, and diminished our quote “moral authority” unquote.

After familiarizing myself with the Detainee Assessment Briefs, I agree. Reading through the Detainee Assessment Briefs, I noticed that they were not analytical products, instead they contained summaries of tear line versions of interim intelligence reports that were old or unclassified. None of the DABs contained the names of sources or quotes from tactical interrogation reports or TIRs. Since the DABs were being sent to the US SOUTHCOM commander, I assessed that they were intended to provide very general background information on each of the detainees and not a detailed assessment.

In addition to the manner in which the DABs were written, I recognized that they were at least several years old, and discussed detainees that were already released from Joint Task Force Guantanamo. Based on this, I determined that the DAB’s were not very important fro either an intelligence or a national security standpoint. On 7 March 2010, during my Jabber conversation with Nathaniel, I asked him if he thought the DAB’s were of any use to anyone.

Nathaniel indicated, although he did not believe that they were of political significance, he did believe that they could be used to merge into the general historical account of what occurred at Joint Task Force Guantanamo. He also thought that the DABs might be helpful to the legal counsel of those currently and previously held at JTF-GTMO.

After this discussion, I decided to download the data. I used an application called Wget to download the DAB’s. I downloaded Wget off of the NIPRnet laptop in the T-SCIF, like other programs. I saved that onto a CD-RW, and placed the executable in my “My Documents” directory on my user profile, on the D6-A SIPRnet workstation.

On 7 March 2010, I took the list of links for the detainee assessment briefs, and Wget downloaded them sequentially. I burned the data onto a CD-RW, and took it into my CHU, and copied them onto my personal computer. On 8 March 2010, I combined the Detainee Assessment Briefs with the United States Army Counterintelligence Center reports on the WLO, into a compressed IP file. Zip files contain multiple files which are compressed to reduce their size.

After creating the zip file, I uploaded the file onto their cloud drop box via Secure File Transfer Protocol. Once these were uploaded, I notified Nathaniel that the information was in the X-directory, which had been designated for my own use. Earlier that day, I downloaded the USACIC report on WLO.

As discussed about, I previously reviewed the report on numerous occasions and although I saved the document onto the work station before, I could not locate it. After I found the document again, I downloaded it to my work station, and saved it onto the same CD-RW as the Detainee Assessment Briefs described above.

Although my access included a great deal of information, I decided I had nothing else to send to WLO after sending the Detainee Assessment Briefs and the USACIC report. Up to this point I had sent them the following: the CIDNE-I and CIDNE-A SigActs tables; the Reykjavik 13 Department of State Cable; the 12 July 2007 aerial weapons team video and the 2006-2007 rules of engagement documents; the SigAct report and supporting documents concerning the 15 individuals detained by the Baghdad Federal Police; the USSOUTHCOM and Joint Task Force Guantanamo Detainee Assessment Briefs; a USACIC report on the WikiLeaks website and the WikiLeaks organization.

Over the next few weeks I did not send any additional information to the WLO. I continued to converse with Nathaniel over the Jabber client and in the WLO IRC channel. Although I stopped sending documents to WLO, no one associated with the WLO pressures me into giving more information. The decisions that I made to send documents and information to the WLO and the website were my own decisions, and I take full responsibility for my actions.

Facts regarding the unauthorized disclosure of other government documents

One 22 March 2010, I downloaded two documents. I found these documents over the course of my normal duties as an analysts. Based on my training and the guidance of my superiors, I look at as much information as possible.

Doings so provided me with the ability to make connections that others might miss. On several occasions during the month of March, I accessed information from a Government entity. I read several documents from a section within this Government entity. The content of two of these documents upset me greatly. I had difficulty believing what this section was doing.

On 22 March 2010, I downloaded the two documents that I found troubling. I compressed them into a zip file named blah.zip and burned them onto a CD-RW. I took the CD-RW to my CHU and saved the file to my personal computer.

I uploaded the information to the WLO website using the designated prompts.

Facts regarding the unauthorized storage and disclosure of the net-centric diplomacy Department of State cables

In late March of 2010, I received a warning over Jabber from Nathaniel, that the WLO website would be publishing the aerial weapons team video. He indicated that the WLO would be very busy and the frequency and intensity of our Jabber conversations decrease significantly. During this time, I had nothing but work to distract me.

I read more of the diplomatic cables published on the Department of State Net Centric Diplomacy. With my insatiable curiosity and interest in geopolitics I became fascinated with them. I read not only the cables on Iraq, but also about countries and events that I found interesting.

The more I read, the more I was fascinated with the way that we dealt with other nations and organizations. I also began to think the documented backdoor deals and seemingly criminal activity that didn’t seem characteristic of the de facto leader of the free world.

Up to this point,during the deployment, I had issues I struggled with and difficulty at work. Of the documents release, the cables were the only one I was not absolutely certain couldn’t harm the United States. I conducted research on the cables published on the Net Centric Diplomacy, as well as how Department of State cables worked in general.

In particular, I wanted to know how each cable was published on SIRPnet via the Net Centric Diplomacy. As part of my open source research, I found a document published by the Department of State on its official website.

The document provided guidance on caption markings for individual cables and handling instructions for their distribution. I quickly learned the caption markings clearly detailed the sensitivity of the Department of State cables. For example, NODIS or No Distribution was used for messages at the highest sensitivity and were only distributed to the authorized recipients.

The SIPDIS or SIPRnet distribution caption was applied only to recording of other information messages that were deemed appropriate for a release for a wide number of individuals. According to the Department of State guidance for a cable to have the SIPDIS [missed word] caption, it could not include other captions that were intended to limit distribution.

The SIPDIS caption was only for information that could only be shared with anyone with access to SIPRnet. I was aware that thousands of military personel, DoD, Department of State, and other civilian agencies had easy access to the tables. The fact that the SIPDIS caption was only for wide distribution made sense to me, given that the vast majority of the Net Centric Diplomacy Cables were not classified.

The more I read the cables, the more I came to the conclusion that this was the type of information that should become public. I once read a and used a quote on open diplomacy written after the First World War and how the world would be a better place if states would avoid making secret pacts and deals with and against each other.

I thought these cables were a prime example of a need for a more open diplomacy. Given all of the Department of State cables that I read, the fact that most of the cables were unclassified, and that all the cables have a SIPDIS caption.

I believe that the public release of these cables would not damage the United States, however, I did believe that the cables might be embarrassing, since they represented very honest opinions and statements behind the backs of other nations and organizations.
In many ways these cables are a catalogue of cliques and gossip. I believed exposing this information might make some within the Department of State and other government entities unhappy. On 22 March 2010, I began downloading a copy of the SIPDIS cables using the program Wget, described above.

I used instances of the Wget application to download the Net Centric Diplomacy cables in the background. As I worked on my daily tasks, the Net centric Diplomacy cables were downloaded from 28 March 2010 to 9 April 2010. After downloading the cables, I saved them on to a CD-RW.

These cables went from the earliest dates in Net Centric Diplomacy to 28 February 2010. I took the CD-RW to my CHU on 10 April 2010. I sorted the cables on my personal computer, compressed them using the bzip2 compression algorithm described above, and uploaded them to the WLO via designated drop box described above.

On 3 May 2010, I used Wget to download and update of the cables for the months of March 2010 and April 2010 and saved the information onto a zip file and burned it to a CD-RW. I then took the CD-RW to my CHU and saved those to my computer. I later found that the file was corrupted during the transfer. Although I intended to re-save another copy of these cables, I was removed from the T-SCIF on 8 May 2010 after an altercation.

Facts regarding the unauthorized storage and disclosure of Garani, Farah Province Afghanistan 15-6 Investigation and Videos

In late March 2010, I discovered a US CENTCOM directly on a 2009 airstrike in Afghanistan. I was searching CENTCOM I could use as an analyst. As described above, this was something that myself and other officers did on a frequent basis. As I reviewed the incident and what happened. The airstrike occurred in the Garani village in the Farah Province, Northwestern Afghanistan. It received worldwide press coverage during the time as it was reported that up to 100 to 150 Afghan civilians – mostly women and children – were accidentally killed during the airstrike.

After going through the report and the [missed word] annexes, I began to review the incident as being similar to the 12 July 2007 aerial weapons team engagements in Iraq. However, this event was noticeably different in that it involved a significantly higher number of individuals, larger aircraft and much heavier munitions. Also, the conclusions of the report are more disturbing than those of the July 2007 incident.

I did not see anything in the 15-6 report or its annexes that gave away sensitive information. Rather, the investigation and its conclusions were and what those involved should have done, and how to avoid an event like this from occurring again.

After investigating the report and its annexes, I downloaded the 15-6 investigation, PowerPoint presentations, and several other supporting documents to my D6-A workstation. I also downloaded three zip files containing the videos of the incident. I burned this information onto a CD-RW and transfered it to the personal computer in my CHU. I did later that day or the next day – I uploaded the information to the WL website this time using a new version of the WLO website submission form.

Unlike other times using the submission form above, I did not activate the TOR anonymizer.

            Your honor, this concludes my statement and facts for this providence inquiry.

Panama Canal project raises ire around East ports

February 23, 2013

by Katie Zezima 

AP

 

 NEWARK, N.J. (AP) — Residents of this city’s Ironbound neighborhood are familiar with big modes of transport. Jumbo jets fly so low while approaching Newark Airport that it seems one can hop onto a wing. Double-decker trains race through, ferrying passengers to New York City. Trucks rumble down narrow streets where the smell of Portuguese barbecue wafts through the air and Brazilian music emanates from stores and cars.

But some here and in neighborhoods near other East Coast ports are leery of the monster ships that will soon arrive because of a trade project thousands of miles away that they believe will harm their air quality, roadways and waterways.

“We can’t afford any additional environmental burdens,” said Joseph Della Fave, executive director of the Ironbound Community Corp.

East and Gulf coast ports are jockeying against one another, scrambling to accommodate so-called “post-Panamax” ships: massive vessels that can traverse an expanded Panama Canal. The $5.25 billion project is expected to be completed in 2015 and will nearly triple the size of ships that can travel the canal.

One of the most remarkable transformations is proposed not far from the Ironbound. The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey wants to raise the Bayonne Bridge, a soaring steel arch span that connects Bayonne, N.J., with New York City’s Staten Island borough, by 64 feet. The $1 billion project would allow post-Panamax ships to reach Port Newark and the Elizabeth Port Authority Marine Terminals in New Jersey and Howland Hook in New York. It was fast-tracked by President Barack Obama last year and is expected to be completed in 2016. Channels near the bridge will be deepened to 50 feet.

Residents in the Ironbound and on Staten Island worry that larger ships will bring more trucks and increased diesel pollution to poor communities that already shoulder heavy traffic loads. The Ironbound Community Corp. does an annual one-day count of trucks that pass through and idle in the heavily industrial neighborhood; in 2011 it counted 1,327 driving on neighborhood streets and highways and 41 idling. The Ironbound is also home to the state’s largest incinerator and sewage treatment plant.

“It’s going to be a lot of dust, a lot of dirt, a lot of vibrations with the raising of the bridge, and there’s going to be a lot of truck traffic and rerouting of trucks,” said Beryl Thurman, executive director of the North Shore Waterfront Conservancy on Staten Island. She can see the bridge from her home.

The Coast Guard issued a draft environmental assessment of the project last month and found it will have no significant environmental or health effects. The public has until March 5 to review the report and comment.

The Environmental Protection Agency rebuked the Coast Guard in written comments, saying it has “fundamental concerns” with the Coast Guard’s findings and thinks a more robust examination must be done.

“We believe that an appropriate analysis would likely reveal changes in the distribution pattern of cargo which could reasonably be expected to result in environmental impacts, particularly air quality impacts associated with increased Port activity and associated diesel truck traffic,” the EPA wrote in remarks submitted to the Coast Guard.

Hundreds of people packed one of three public hearings on the project on Feb. 13. Some, including trade union members and residents, said the project should get its final permitting because both the construction and cargo traffic would provide much-needed jobs to the area.

Unemployment in is at 14.7 percent in Newark and 11.8 percent in Bayonne, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. It’s 8.8 percent in New York City. The national unemployment rate is 7.9 percent.

Others worried about health issues and said the project must go forward only if efforts are made to reduce environmental effects.

“I have many concerns about unhealthy air quality at the port,” said Nancy Mincey, an Ironbound resident whose 13-year-old son has severe asthma.

Eduardo Rivera, a truck driver, said that drivers idle in lines and that those classified as independent contractors can’t afford to buy newer, more efficient trucks.

“The Port Authority should fix port trucking; then they can raise the bridge,” he said at the hearing.

In a statement, the Port Authority said raising the roadway will “have tremendous economic and environmental benefits for communities throughout the Port District.” The agency said it is “committed to clean air strategies … and we will continue to work with our neighbors in the port district to ensure that our ports are healthy and economically viable moving forward.”

Gary Kassof, bridge program manager for the First Coast Guard District, said the agency stands by its assessment and is taking resident concerns into account before deciding if the document will be finalized or if more study is needed.

“We haven’t made any decisions,” Kassof said. “We are here to listen and gather information over the next couple of months, and that’s what we’ll be doing.”

The report says truck traffic will increase one to two trucks an hour by 2035, a change that will have a “negligible effect on air quality.” It also says the bigger, newer ships are more fuel efficient and produce fewer emissions than smaller, older ones.

The Southern Environmental Law Center filed a federal lawsuit last year on behalf of environmental organizations over plans to deepen the shipping channel to the nation’s fourth-busiest container port in Savannah, Ga. Dredging the Savannah River, which runs between Georgia and South Carolina, would result in toxic cadmium being deposited on South Carolina shores and threaten wildlife.

“The Bayonne Bridge is the flip side of the Savannah deepening,” with one in the air and the other underwater, said Blan Holman, a managing attorney in the center’s Charleston, S.C., office.

The National Center for Healthy Housing is studying the effects of truck traffic and an intermodal rail facility from the Port of Baltimore, which plans to greatly increase commerce once the canal is widened.

“The main thing in terms of health that we’re focusing on is looking at the impacts of truck traffic on local roads,” said Ruth Lindberg, a program manager at the center.

In Miami, the Tropical Audubon Society last year settled a lawsuit against the Army Corps of Engineers that claimed dredging the port would significantly damage Biscayne Bay and harm wildlife.

Residents and environmental groups in Charleston, S.C., aren’t as worried about cargo vessels as cruise ships. They’re currently battling over the environmental and aesthetic impact of increased cruise ship traffic and worry a wider canal could bring even larger ships.

Some on the West Coast, whose ports handle most U.S. imports from Asia, are concerned their ports will hemorrhage cargo and jobs because of the expanded canal. A “Beat the Canal” campaign in California is trying to push projects that would “enhance the competitiveness of our green ports and corridors,” according to its website.

Back in New York, Thurman and others said they want the Coast Guard to fully assess the impact to the communities surrounding the bridge and ports.

“I don’t understand what they’re thinking,” Thurman said, “except that they don’t live here and if something goes horribly wrong, they’re not going to be scrambling to get the hell out of the way.”

 

Russia, France to Set New Turnover Record Soon – Putin

 

February 28, 2013

RIA Novosti

 

             MOSCOW, – Russian-French trade turnover may exceed the 2011 level of $28.1 billion in the foreseeable future, Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Thursday.

 

“I am confident that there is every chance not only to achieve the 2011 indicators, but also to surpass them,” Putin said at a meeting with Russian and French business representatives.

 

He called for invigorated bilateral business contacts, adding that the volume of capital investment by Russian businesses in the French economy is significantly smaller than French investment in the Russian economy.

 

Putin said the EU visa requirement for Russian citizens interfered with “normal communication,” as well as investment.

 

“European investment in Russia is many times bigger than Russian investment in EU countries,” he said, stressing that “Russia’s investment potential is very high and constantly growing.”

 

Putin cited the Rosatom nuclear corporation as a good example of large-scale bilateral cooperation in the energy sector, specifically in developing fourth-generation fast-neutron reactors.

 

“I believe this pooling of efforts gives Russian and French nuclear companies a tangible competitive edge on the world market, where competition is very tough and constantly growing,” Putin said.

 

French President Francois Hollande, who is currently visiting Moscow, said some banking procedures and visa regulations were an impediment to investment, but could easily be removed.

 

He also called for Russian and French companies to join forces in “moving into other markets, investing in third countries.”

The Folly of Arming Syria’s Rebels

February 28, 2013

by Robert Dreyfuss

The Nation

 

             Traveling in Europe on his first trip as secretary of state, John Kerry has had his first close encounter with the Syrian opposition. It doesn’t bode well.

Last year, we know now, President Obama rejected near-unanimous advice from the Pentagon, the CIA and the State Department—including from Hillary Clinton, Leon Panetta and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff—to begin arming Syria’s rebels. In so doing, Obama stood firm against another potentially disastrous American adventure abroad. Still, it now appears that the United States is edging closer to the precipice again.

According to The New York Times, with Kerry’s support the United States is getting ready to provide “nonlethal” aid to the Syrian fighters, under a very expansive definition of nonlethal that includes “items like vehicles, communications equipment and night vision gear.” Once again, the White House is reported to be resisting the provision of weapons, including Stinger missiles, that the anti-Assad forces want. But, of course, it’s a slippery slope. Already, a Sunni coalition led by Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey, and aided by Jordan, which is funneling weapons through its territory, is backing the rebels, and Israel is a de facto member of the Sunni bloc, having bombed pro-Assad targets inside Syria. Typical of their kind, many Republicans have been pushing Obama to send in lethal aid, the latest being Senator Marco Rubio of Florida, who’s introduced legislation alongside Representative Elliot Engel, a leading voice of the Israel Lobby in Congress, to arm the rebels. (Leave aside the fact that Congress, having no executive authority, can’t actually arm anyone.)

But the drumbeat is intensifying, and I don’t believe that Obama can resist it for long. Apparently having learned nothing from failed interventions in Iraq and Afghanistan, The Washington Post editorialized once again that the United States ought to send arms, and fast:

If the Obama administration is to lead on Syria, it must commit itself to steps that can bring about the early collapse of the regime and its replacement by a representative and responsible alternative. Only direct political and military intervention on the side of the opposition can make that happen.

Senator Robert Casey, a Democrat from Pennsylvania, is also a member of the arm-the-rebels caucus, and he’s called for the United States to move anti-missile defense units from Turkey to positions inside Syrian territory. And last December, speaking to a neoconservative think tank, Casey unloaded with both barrels, putting out a laundry list of warlike actions that the United States should undertake, according to him. Interestingly, in that talk Casey declared that a major motivation for US arms to the rebels was to undermine Iran and Hezbollah, in so doing giving away the game. The anti-Assad forces in Washington are really anti-Iran forces and, frustrated by their inability to promote an attack on Iran, they’ve chosen to go after Iran’s chief regional ally, Syria.

            As Fouad Ajami, the neoconservative’s favorite Arab opinion leader, says in The Wall Street Journal today: “Syria is the place where the will of Iran could be broken.”

Fact is, nearly two years into the growing civil war in Syria, the government of President Assad isn’t going away. Meanwhile, the rebels are increasingly dominated by radical, Al Qaeda–style fighters and allied Islamists. Something like a million Syrians have been forced into refugee status by a war that started in earnest when a too-eager President Obama proclaimed, early in 2011, that Assad should step down. Maybe he will, eventually, and maybe he won’t. But the United States should remain in the camp of those who, like Russia and the UN’s Lakhdar Brahimi, believe in a negotiated solution, not a military one.

As France’s ambassador to the UN declared: “We are creating a Somalia in the heart of the Middle East.”

“Homeland Security”: The Trillion-Dollar Concept That No One Can Define

February 28, 2013.

by Mattea Kramer and Chris Hellman

TomGram

Imagine a labyrinthine government department so bloated that few have any clear idea of just what its countless pieces do.  Imagine that tens of billions of tax dollars are disappearing into it annually, black hole-style, since it can’t pass a congressionally mandated audit.

Now, imagine that there are two such departments, both gigantic, and you’re beginning to grasp the new, twenty-first century American security paradigm.

For decades, the Department of Defense has met this definition to a T.  Since 2003, however, it hasn’t been alone.  The Department of Homeland Security (DHS), which celebrates its 10th birthday this March, has grown into a miniature Pentagon. It’s supposed to be the actual “defense” department — since the Pentagon is essentially a Department of Offense — and it’s rife with all the same issues and defects that critics of the military-industrial complex have decried for decades.  In other words, “homeland security” has become another obese boondoggle.

But here’s the strange thing: unlike the Pentagon, this monstrosity draws no attention whatsoever — even though, by our calculations, this country has spent a jaw-dropping $791 billion on “homeland security” since 9/11. To give you a sense of just how big that is, Washington spent an inflation-adjusted $500 billion on the entire New Deal.

Despite sucking up a sum of money that could have rebuilt crumbling infrastructure from coast to coast, this new agency and the very concept of “homeland security” have largely flown beneath the media radar — with disastrous results.

And that’s really no surprise, given how the DHS came into existence.

A few months before 9/11, Congress issued a national security report acknowledging that U.S. defense policy had not evolved to meet the challenges of the twenty-first century.  The report recommended a “national homeland security agency” with a single leader to oversee homeland security-style initiatives across the full range of the federal government.  Although the report warned that a terrorist attack could take place on American soil, it collected dust.

Then the attack came, and lawmakers of both political parties and the American public wanted swift, decisive action.  President George W. Bush’s top officials and advisers saw in 9/11 their main chance to knock off Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein and establish a Pax Americana in the Greater Middle East.  Others, who generally called themselves champions of small government, saw an opportunity to expand big government at home by increasing security spending.

Their decision to combine domestic security under one agency turned out to be like sending the Titanic into the nearest field of icebergs.

President Bush first created an Office of Homeland Security in the White House and then, with the Homeland Security Act of 2002, laid plans for a new executive department. The DHS was funded with billions of dollars and staffed with 180,000 federal employees when it opened for business on March 1, 2003.  It qualified as the largest reorganization of the federal government since 1947 when, fittingly, the Department of Defense was established.

Announcing plans for this new branch of government, President Bush made a little-known declaration of “mission accomplished” that long preceded that infamous banner strung up on an aircraft carrier to celebrate his “victory” in Iraq.  In November 2002, he said, “The continuing threat of terrorism, the threat of mass murder on our own soil, will be met with a unified, effective response.”

Mission unaccomplished (big time).

A decade later, a close look at the hodge-podge of homeland security programs that now spans the U.S. government reveals that there’s nothing “unified” about it.  Not all homeland security programs are managed through the Department of Homeland Security, nor are all programs at the Department of Homeland Security related to securing the homeland.

Federal officials created the DHS by pulling together 22 existing government departments, including stand-alone agencies like the Federal Emergency Management Agency, better known by its acronym FEMA, and the Coast Guard, which came with programs both related and unrelated to counterterrorism.  They also brought into the DHS a host of programs that had previously existed as parts of other agencies like the Nuclear Incident Response Team from the Department of Energy and the Transportation Security Administration at the Department of Transportation.  To knit these disparate parts together, officials built a mammoth bureaucracy over an already existing set of bureaucracies.  At the same time, they left a host of counterterrorism programs scattered across the rest of the federal government, which means, a decade later, many activities at the DHS are duplicated by similar programs elsewhere.

A trail of breadcrumbs in federal budget documents shows how much is spent on homeland security and by which agencies, though details about what that money is buying are scarce.  The DHS budget was $60 billion last year.  However, only $35 billion was designated for counterterrorism programs of various sorts.  In the meantime, total federal funding for (small-h, small-s) homeland security was $68 billion — a number that, in addition to the DHS money, includes $17 billion for the Department of Defense, plus around $4 billion each for the Departments of Justice and Health and Human Services, with the last few billion scattered across virtually every other federal agency in existence.

From the time this new security bureaucracy rumbled into operation, the Government Accountability Office (GAO), Washington’s internal watchdog, called the DHS a “high risk” proposition.  And it’s never changed its tune. Regular GAO reports scrutinize the department and identify major problems.  In March of last year, for instance, one GAO report noted that the office had recommended a total of 1,600 changes.  At that time, the department had only “addressed about half of them” — and addressed doesn’t necessarily mean solved.

So rest assured, in the best of all possible homeland security worlds, there are only 800-odd issues outstanding, according to the government’s own watchdog, after we as a nation poured $791 billion down the homeland security rabbit hole.  Indeed, there remain gaping problems in the very areas that the DHS is supposedly securing on our behalf:

* Consider port security: you wouldn’t have much trouble overnighting a weapon of mass destruction into the United States.  Cargo terminals are the entry point for containers from all over the world, and a series of reports have found myriad vulnerabilities — including gaps in screening for nuclear and radiological materials.  After spending $200 million on new screening technology, the DHS determined it wouldn’t deliver sufficient improvements and cancelled the program (but not the cost to you, the taxpayer).

* Then there are the problems of screening people crossing into this country.  The lion’s share of responsibility for border security lies with part of the DHS, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), which had an $11.7 billion budget in fiscal 2012.  But in the land of utter duplication that is Washington’s version of counterterrorism, there is also something called the Border Security Program at the State Department, with a separate pot of funding to the tune of $2.2 billion last year.  The jury’s out on whether these programs are faintly doing their jobs, even as they themselves define them.  As with so many other DHS programs, the one thing they are doing successfully is closing and locking down what was once considered an “open” society.

* For around $14 billion each year, the Department of Homeland Security handles disaster response and recovery through FEMA, something that’s meant to encompass preparedness for man-made as well as natural disasters. But a 2012 investigation by the GAO found that FEMA employs an outdated method of assessing a disaster-struck region’s ability to respond and recover without federal intervention — helpfully, that report came out just a month before Hurricane Sandy.

* Recently, it came to light that the DHS had spent $431 million on a radio system for communication within the department — but only one of more than 400 employees questioned about the system claimed to have the slightest idea how to use it.  It’s never surprising to hear that officials at separate agencies have trouble coordinating, but this was an indication that, even within the DHS, employees struggle with the basics of communication.

* In a survey that covered all federal departments, DHS employees reported rock-bottom levels of engagement with their work.  Its own workers called the DHS the worst federal agency to work for.

Those are just a few of a multitude of glaring problems inside the now decade-old department. Because homeland security is not confined to one agency, however, rest assured that neither is its bungling:

* There is, for instance, that $17 billion in homeland security funding at the Department of Defense — a mountain of cash for defending against terrorist attacks, protecting U.S. airspace, and providing security at military bases. But perhaps defense officials feel that $17 billion is insufficient, since an October 2012 report by the GAO found the Pentagon had outdated and incomplete plans for responding to a domestic attack, including confusion about the chain of command should such an event take place.  That should be no surprise, though: the Pentagon is so replete with oversight problems and obsolete, astronomically expensive programs that it makes the DHS look like a trim, well-oiled machine.

* Or consider the domestic counterterrorism unit at the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF), which enjoyed $461 million in homeland security funding last year and is housed not at the DHS or the Pentagon but at the Department of Justice.  ATF made headlines for giving marked firearms to Mexican smugglers and losing track of them — and then finding that the weapons were used in heinous crimes. More recently, in the wake of the Newtown massacre, ATF has drawn attention because it fails one of the most obvious tests of oversight and responsibility: it lacks a confirmed director at the helm of its operations. (According to The Hill newspaper, Sen. Charles Grassley (R-IA) is currently holding up President Obama’s appointment to head the agency.)

Washington has poured staggering billions into securing the so-called homeland, but in so many of the areas meant to be secured there remain glaring holes the size of that gaping wound in the Titanic’s side.  And yet over the past decade — even with these problems — terrorist attacks on the homeland have scarcely hurt a soul.  That may offer a clue into just how misplaced the very notion of the Department of Homeland Security was in the first place.  In the wake of 9/11, pouring tiny percentages of that DHS money into less flashy safety issues, from death by food to death by gun to death by car, to mention just three, might have made Americans genuinely safer at, by comparison, minimal cost.

Perhaps the strangest part of homeland security operations may be this: there is no agreed-upon definition for just what homeland security is. The funds Washington has poured into the concept will soon enough approach a trillion dollars and yet it’s a concept with no clear boundaries that no one can agree on.  Worse yet, few are asking the hard questions about what security we actually need or how best to achieve it.  Instead, Washington has built a sprawling bureaucracy riddled with problems and set it on autopilot.

And that brings us to today. Budget cuts are in the pipeline for most federal programs, but many lawmakers vocally oppose any reductions in security funding. What’s painfully clear is this: the mere fact that a program is given the label of national or homeland security does not mean that its downsizing would compromise American safety. Overwhelming evidence of waste, duplication, and poor management suggests that Washington could spend far less on security, target it better, and be so much safer.

Meanwhile, the same report that warned in early 2001 of a terrorist attack on U.S. soil also recommended redoubling funding for education in science and technology.

In the current budget-cutting fever, the urge to protect boundless funding for national security programs by dismantling investment essential to this country’s greatness — including world-class education and infrastructure systems — is bound to be powerful.  So whenever you hear the phrase “homeland security,” watch out: your long-term safety may be at risk.

Mattea Kramer is research director at National Priorities Project, where Chris Hellman is senior research analyst. Both are TomDispatch regulars.  They co-authored the book A People’s Guide to the Federal Budget.

Has the Bell Begun to Toll for China?

March 1, 2013

by Patrick J. Buchanan

CNS News

            “Why did the Soviet Union disintegrate? Why did the Soviet Communist Party collapse? An important reason was that their ideals and convictions wavered,” China’s new leader, Xi Jinping, told a closed meeting of party elite in Guangdong province.

            “Finally all it took was one quiet word from Gorbachev to declare the dissolution of the Soviet Communist Party, and a great party was gone,” said Xi, according to notes obtained by The New York Times.

             “Everyone is talking about reform, but in fact everyone has a fear of reform,” said Chinese historian Ma Jong. “The question is: Can society be kept under control while you go forward? That is the test.” That is indeed the test.
 
            What is it that gives a party its legitimacy, its right to rule? What holds a nation together when its cradle faith, its founding ideology, has been abandoned by both elites and the people? That is China’s coming crisis.

            With victory in the civil war with the Nationalists in 1949, Mao claimed to have liberated China from both Japanese imperialists and Western colonialists, and restored her dignity. “China has stood up!” he said.

            His party’s claim to absolute power was rooted in what it had done, and also what it must do. Only a party with total power could lead a world revolution. Only an all-powerful party could abolish inequality in a way that made the French Revolution look like a rebellion at Berkeley.

            Xi Jinping’s problem? The Cold War is over. China is herself in the capitalist camp, a member of the G-8, and inequality in the People’s Republic resembles that of America in the Gilded Age.

            How does the Chinese Communist Party justify control of all of China’s institutions today — economic, political, military and cultural?

            If Marxism is mocked behind closed doors by a new economic elite and tens of millions of Chinese young, what can cause the nation to continue to respect and obey a Communist Party and its leaders, besides the gun?

            The answer of Europe in the 1930s is China’s answer today.

             Nationalism, tribalism, patriotic war if necessary, will bring the masses back. If the Chinese nation is being insulted, if ancestral lands are occupied by foreigners as in olden times, the people will rally around a regime that stands up for China. Nationalism will keep Chinese society “under control while you go forward.”

            Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe traces the aggressiveness of Beijing in the Senkaku Islands dispute to a “deeply ingrained” need to appeal to Chinese nationalism in the form of anti-Japanese sentiment dating to the Sino-Japanese War of 1937-1945.

            Chinese nationalism, says Abe, is also behind China’s quarrels with Vietnam and other nations over islands of the South China Sea.

            If Beijing is unable to deliver economic growth, “it will not be able to control the 1.3 billion people … under the one-party rule,” Abe told The Washington Post. He is now denying those quotes.

            But China is not alone in stoking the flames of nationalism to maintain legitimacy.

            Abe has himself taken a firm stand against China in the Senkakus and is moving rightward on patriotism, security and a defense of Japan’s history in the 20th century, and he is rising in the polls. The apologetic and pacifist Japan of yesterday is no more.

            In Russia, a nation that saw its Orthodox faith ripped up by the roots by Josef Stalin, then saw its Marxist-Leninist ideology and a Communist Party that was its Vatican collapse, is searching to locate the ancient sources of Russian patriotism and nationhood. Vladimir Putin seeks to knit back together the empire of the Romanovs and revive the old church.

            In the Muslim world, the secularism of Gamal Abdel Nasser and Saddam Hussein and Bashar Assad are yielding to forces that look all the way back to Muhammad and the Quran as infallible guides to politics, law and national greatness. The Sunni-Shia split recalls our Catholic-Protestant split in the time of Luther, Calvin, Henry VIII, the Council of Trent and the Thirty Years War.

            Nor should America be smug about this search for legitimacy.

            Our British-Protestant then European-Christian identity has gone the way of the Cheshire Cat. In the age of Obama, Jefferson’s Declaration and Madison’s Constitution are invoked to justify societal mandates that would have had the Founding Fathers loading muskets.

            What is our guiding light now that the philosophical, cultural, religious and political roots of the old republic are being systematically severed?

            What gives legitimacy to the American government? Elections, majority rule through universal suffrage of a people, ever-larger shares of whom are ignorant of the faith, culture and civilization whence we came?

            If our economy should sink like Southern Europe’s, if the great god Progress no longer smiles upon us, what do we fall back on?

            One day, Americans will begin to ask themselves such questions, if they have not already begun to do so.

 

 

 

No responses yet

Leave a Reply