TBR News December 29, 2016

Dec 29 2016

The Voice of the White House 

Washington, D.C. December 29, 2016: “In addition to the civic strife in the Middle East, initially a joint project of both the Saudis and the US, we have another social boil on our southern border.

Mexico is in a state of anarchy, drug gangs murdering each other and anyone they suspect of getting in their way. The central government cannot control them because if they tried to do so, the gangs would kill them all.

And Mexican economy has tanked and the country is filled with the unemployed.

Rather than feed them, the Mexican government has been shoving them over the border into the United States where American agencies can feed, clothe and give them medical aid free of charge.

Of course the American taxpayer foots these bills.

A low estimate of 20 million illegals is stunning but there are other estimates of 30 million.

In any case, President-elect Trump has stated he would seal the southern border and gather up and deport illegals who had criminal records.

There are many illegals who are gainfully employed and ought to be given the opportunity of applying for legal citizenship without being deported but as the Germans are now doing, round up the criminals and potential drug dealers and deport them as quickly as possible.

Left-wing do-gooders wail at the thought of Precious Different Brown Ones being deported.

These are the same obnoxious creeps who demand public lavatories for crippled Lesbian dwarves and voted for Hillary.”

Gang-ravaged Mexico stuck in weed ban as U.S. opens up

December 29, 2016

by Joanna Zuckerman Bernstein


MEXICO CITY-Mexican advocates for drug reform are voicing alarm about the country’s widening gap with the United States on marijuana legislation, as criminal violence surges again south of the border.

Tens of thousands have been killed over the years in Mexico, on the front line of a U.S.-led war on drugs. The country’s prohibitionist approach to marijuana is increasingly at odds with the United States, where liberalization is advancing.

California in November became the first state on the U.S.-Mexico border to vote for comprehensive cannabis legalization, further pressuring Mexican legislators to change policy.

Earlier this month Mexico’s Senate duly passed a limited medical marijuana bill. But it has yet to be approved by the lower house and critics say it is still far too little.

“It’s a teeny, tiny reform for an enormous problem in the country,” opposition leftist senator Mario Delgado said during the discussion of the medical marijuana bill.

“It’s absurd that on this side of the border we continue with the violence, the deaths; and on the other side … this same drug is considered legal for recreational use.”

Driven by widespread gang violence, murders are on track to breach the 20,000 mark in 2016 for the first time in four years, adding to more than 100,000 gang-related deaths in the decade since the government began a military-led crackdown on drug cartels.

Many thousands more have disappeared.

Pena Nieto said in 2014 that Mexico could not pursue diverging paths with the United States on marijuana. Earlier this year, he submitted a bill to close the gap on U.S. legislation. But his own lawmakers have been reluctant to follow his lead.

Starting with Washington and Colorado in 2012, U.S. states have begun to legalize recreational use of marijuana, and many more now permit medicinal use, as does Canada.

California, which has an economy roughly twice the size of Mexico’s, was widely seen as a bellwether for a shift in policy.

Mexico’s Supreme Court last year set the ball rolling in a landmark case, granting four people the right to grow and consume weed, and inspiring hope for change.

In April, Pena Nieto proposed decriminalizing possession of up to 28 grams of marijuana for personal use, and said it would allow people jailed for holding up to that amount to go free.

But senators in his Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) put the initiative on ice, saying it “requires a greater analysis,” and only backed medical marijuana use.

The PRI blamed heavy losses in state elections in June on Pena Nieto pushing a liberal agenda, notably his bid to legalize gay marriage, said Lisa Sanchez, drug policy director at the organization Mexico Unido Contra la Delincuencia.

“They immediately transferred that discussion into the drugs issue by saying, ‘If we go too liberal, we might lose more elections,'” Sanchez said.

Opinion polls show that while there is public support for medical marijuana use, Mexicans are still resistant to the idea of an outright liberalization of the drug for recreational ends.

While Congress procrastinates, some people are even taking advantage of the U.S. opening, said Jaime Andres Vinasco, a doctoral student at university Colef in Tijuana, a border city synonymous with Mexican drug traffickers selling to U.S. buyers.

In Tijuana, moneyed consumers enjoy medical marijuana brought over from California dispensaries that is more potent and of higher quality than local weed, said Vinasco, who has spoken to users and dealers for his research on the reverse flow.

“The cannabis from California, for the Tijuanenses, or residents of Tijuana, has become, for the great majority, a luxury item,” he said. “Quite a paradoxical phenomenon.”

(Reporting by Joanna Zuckerman Bernstein; Editing by Dave Graham and David Gregorio)

 Russia announces ceasefire in Syria from midnight

December 29, 2016

by Denis Pinchuk and Tulay Karadeniz


MOSCOW/ANKARA-Russian President Vladimir Putin announced a ceasefire between Syrian opposition groups and the Syrian government starting at midnight on Thursday.

The parties were also prepared to start peace talks, Putin said, after Moscow, Iran and Turkey expressed readiness to broker a deal to settle the nearly six-year-old Syrian war.

The Syrian army announced a nationwide halt to fighting but said Islamic State and ex-Nusra Front militants and all groups linked to them would be excluded from the deal. It did not say which unnamed groups would be excluded.

Several rebel officials told Reuters they had agreed to the ceasefire, due to come into effect at 2200 GMT on Thursday.

It was the third nationwide ceasefire agreed in Syria this year. The previous two, negotiated by Washington and Moscow, collapsed within weeks as warring sides accused each other of violations. The current deal does not involve the United States or United Nations.

One rebel commander expressed optimism that this deal would hold: “This time I have confidence in its seriousness. There is new international input,” he said, without elaborating.

Talks on the latest truce picked up momentum after Russia, Iran and Turkey last week said they were ready to back a peace deal and adopted a declaration setting out principles that any agreement should adhere to.

Putin said opposition groups and the Syrian government had signed a number of documents, including the ceasefire, measures to monitor the truce, and a statement on readiness to start peace talks.

“The agreements reached are, of course, fragile, need a special attention and involvement… But after all, this is a notable result of our joint work, efforts by the defence and foreign ministries, our partners in the regions,” Putin said.

He also said Russia had agreed to reduce its military deployment in Syria, where its support has turned the tide in favour of President Bashar al-Assad in a war that has killed more than 300,000 and forced more than 11 million to flee their homes.

Turkey said it and Russia would guarantee the ceasefire.

“With this agreement, parties have agreed to cease all armed attacks, including aerial, and have promised not to expand the areas they control against each other,” the Turkish foreign ministry said.

Three rebel officials told Reuters the deal excluded Islamic State, but did include the Jabhat Fateh al-Sham group, formerly al Qaeda’s Syria branch, the Nusra Front – appearing to contradict the Syrian army’s statement.

Russia’s defence ministry said the insurgent groups that signed the agreement included the powerful Islamist Ahrar al-Sham, Jaish al-Islam, which operates primarily near Damascus, and Jabha Shamiya, one of the main groups that has operated in Aleppo.


The United States has been sidelined in recent negotiations and is not due to attend the next round of peace talks in Astana, capital of Kazakhstan, a key Russian ally.

Its exclusion reflects growing frustration from both Turkey and Russia over Washington’s policy on Syria, officials have said.

However, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said the United States could join the peace process once President-elect Donald Trump takes office next month.

Talks on the ceasefire reflect the complexity of Syria’s civil war, with an array of groups and foreign interests involved on all sides.

Turkey and Russia support different sides in the war. Ankara has insisted on the departure of Assad, who is backed by Russia.

Likewise, demands that troops from the Lebanese Hezbollah movement leave Syria may not please Iran, another major supporter of Assad. Hezbollah troops have been fighting alongside Syrian government forces against rebels opposed to Assad.

All foreign fighters need to leave Syria. Hezbollah needs to return to Lebanon,” Turkish foreign minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said.

Sources have told Reuters that, under an outline deal between the three countries, Syria could be divided into informal zones of regional power and Assad would remain president for at least a few years.

Meanwhile, disagreements remain between big powers.

Ankara supports the Free Syrian Army, a loose alliance of rebel groups, some of which it is backing in operations in northern Syria designed to sweep Islamic State and Syrian Kurdish fighters from its southern border.

The United States is backing the Syrian Kurdish YPG in the fight against Islamic State in Syria, a move that has infuriated Turkey, which sees the YPG as an extension of the militant Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK). Ankara fears that advances by Kurdish fighters in Syria could inflame militants at home.

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan has accused the United States of supporting terrorism in Syria, including Islamic State, comments that Washington has dismissed as “ludicrous”.

“We, as Turkey, have been calling on Western nations for some time to not distinguish between terrorist organizations and to be principled and consistent in their stance,” Erdogan said in a speech on Thursday.

“Some countries, namely the United States, have come up with some excuses on their own and overtly supported the organisations that massacre innocent people in our region.”

(Additional reporting by Suleiman Al-Khalidi in Amman, Humeyra Pamuk and Daren Butler in Istanbul, Lisa Barrington, Tom Perry and Ellen Francis in Beirut; Writing by David Dolan, John Davison and Giles Elgood; Editing by Anna Willard)

 ‘Support your NATO ally, not terrorists:’ Erdogan slams US amidst row over alleged YPG supplies

December 29, 2016


Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has once again accused the US of “supporting terrorists” in Syria. The leader said Washington should instead be supporting Turkey, as it is a fellow member of NATO.

“We are your NATO ally. How on Earth can you support terrorist organizations and not us? Are these terrorist organizations your NATO allies?” Erdogan said during a speech at the Scientific and Technological Research Council of Turkey (TÜBİTAK) awards in Ankara on Thursday, as quoted by Anadolu news agency. “This is unacceptable.”

He said that although Turkey has been calling on Western countries not to make any distinctions among terrorist organizations, “some countries, primarily the United States, have been supporting the terrorist organizations who massacre the innocent in the region,” Turkish Minute reported.

Erdogan went on to warn that such terrorist organizations will also “eventually attack the nations that support them.”

The president’s statements aligned with those made by Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu, who said on Thursday that it is “clearly known” that the US had fed supplies to the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG), which Ankara considers to be a terrorist group.

Erdogan’s remarks come just two days after the leader said it is “very clear” the US-led coalition is supporting terrorist groups in Syria, including Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL), citing “confirmed evidence.”

US State Department spokesman Mark Toner said the claim that Washington is supporting IS is “ludicrous,” but stated that it has been “supporting” the YPG and “other forces.”

“We’re mindful, of course, of some of the tensions that exist obviously between these Turkish-supported forces and the YPG and other forces that we’ve been supporting in that area, and those are tensions – again, that’s the reason why we’re working closely, having these discussions, and trying to coordinate with them,” Toner said during a Tuesday press briefing.

The US embassy in Ankara stressed, however, that Washington had not supplied weapons or explosives to the YPG or the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) “period.”

Erdogan’s Tuesday statements came as he accused the US-led coalition of “failing to keep its promises” of pledging air support in the operation to liberate Al-Bab, a northern Syrian town which Kurdish groups have also been trying to seize, from IS.

Al-Bab lies south of the 20km buffer zone that Turkey initially said it wanted to establish when it launched Operation Euphrates Shield at the end of August. Taking it would advance Ankara’s objective of separating the Kurdish-held territory in Afrin from the US-backed Kurds in Manbij and Kobani.

Bavarian lawmakers aim to turn refugee boats back to Africa

Politicians from Bavaria want migrants intercepted in the Mediterranean sent back to Africa, a new position paper has said. They also advocate for holding migrants without ID documents in transit centers.

December 29, 2016


As security and refugee debates heat up in Germany ahead of federal elections in 2017, politicians in the Christian Social Union (CSU), the Bavarian sister party to Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union (CDU), are looking to propose a drastic shift in how Germany, and Europe, handle migrant arrivals, according to a new position paper set to be unveiled next week.

The CSU will hold a party convention next week and are set to call for tens of thousands of migrants intercepted in the Mediterranean Sea to be sent back to North Africa, according to an internal policy paper obtained by the “Rheinische Post” newspaper.

“The existing policy of automatically bringing all people saved on the migrant route in the Mediterranean to Europe must be broken,” the CSU regional bloc’s paper reportedly said.

Returning people to African ports is not a completely new proposal. Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere made a similar suggestion in early November. A spokeswoman at the time said fewer people may choose to make the dangerous trip to Europe if they knew they would not be allowed to stay there.

Some 181,000 migrants from the Middle East and Africa have been registered in Italy in 2016 after braving the central Mediterranean route, which has claimed some 5,000 lives this year. Many migrants are intercepted by rescue boats and European navies before being brought to the EU.

The CSU’s plan would call for expanding cooperation with North African countries and convincing them to take back migrants. “This is the only way to put pressure on organized criminals in the Mediterranean,” the policy paper said.

Opposition from rights groups

Refugee advocates strongly criticized the proposal. A spokesperson for Pro Asyl said sending asylum-seekers back to Africa without checking whether they are in need of protection was a “full frontal attack on the validity of human rights in Europe.”

Ulrich Delius from the Society for Endangered Peoples (GfbV) argued that Egypt and Libya – the two countries most refugees depart from on their way to Europe and would likely be sent back to – did not offer asylum-seekers sufficient protection.

“There are massive human rights violations in both countries,” Delius said. He called the CSU’s proposition “populist election campaign droning.”

The CSU has long called for a cap on migrants entering Germany and for the strengthening of borders after more than a million asylum seekers and economic migrants entered the country over the past two years. It’s a position that has driven a deep wedge between the party and Merkel. In the wake of this month’s terror attack on a Berlin Christmas market, in which 12 people died and nearly 50 were injured, the CSU has renewed calls for a shift in Germany’s migration policy.

The suspected attacker, 24-year-old Tunisian Anis Amri, used multiple aliases and avoided deportation because he did not have ID documents. The belief that the attack could have been prevented has prompted criticism in Germany over the apparent security lapse that enabled the radicalized asylum seeker to avoid deportation.

“The Amri case raises questions – questions that are not only tied to this crime but also to the time before, since he came to Germany in July 2015,” Merkel said in the days following the terrorist attack. “We will now intensively examine to what extent official procedures need to be changed.”

Transit centers at the border

The CSU has proposed that migrants who arrive at Germany’s border without a passport or other ID documents should be “held at the border and stay in transit centers until their identity is clarified,” according to the policy paper. Many asylum-seekers and migrants have arrived in Germany without ID documents, either because they don’t have them or they purposefully destroyed them knowing it would slow down deportation.

In addition, the CSU is advocating limitations on family reunification for certain classes of asylum seekers beyond 2018. Germany had tightened asylum laws earlier this year by – among other things – suspending family reunification for asylum seekers granted so-called “subsidiary protection” for two years.

Saudi 9/11 bill overcomes Obama’s veto, criticism as push for rethink fades

December 27, 2016

by Stephen Dinan

The Washington Times

The November election result was painful, but President Obama’s worst moment of the year may have come weeks earlier when Congress voted to override his veto of a bill opening the courtroom doors to victims of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks who wanted to prove that the government of Saudi Arabia was implicated.

Senators voted 97-1 to override Mr. Obama’s veto, and the House held a similarly lopsided vote. That sparked an over-the-top reaction from the White House, which called it the “single most embarrassing thing” Congress had done in 30 years.

That feverish reaction spawned a rethink by some members of Congress, who said they may have acted too hastily and suggested it may be worth revisiting the law to make sure it didn’t come back to bite American troops, who might face legal exposure of their own. Among these lawmakers were Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Kentucky Republican, who said there may be unintended consequences, and House Speaker Paul D. Ryan, Wisconsin Republican, who said a fix might be in order.

Three months later, those second thoughts have dissipated, Mr. Obama’s worries have been shunted aside and the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act looks like it’s here to stay.

The law’s enactment marked a defeat for Mr. Obama, who for the first time in his two terms in the White House failed to prevail on a veto. Congress sustained his previous 11 vetoes, many of them without coming up for a full vote even when Republicans controlled both chambers on Capitol Hill.

The president, who fought hard to preserve his perfect record, blasted members of Congress, including Democrats, for what he said was a misunderstanding about the impact of the bill. He said he understood the bill better than they did and that he feared plaintiffs in courts would gain too much say in foreign policy by muddying what it meant to be a state sponsor of terrorism.

Top Secret Snowden Document Reveals What the NSA Knew About Previous Russian Hacking

December 29 2016

by Sam Biddle

The Intercept

Since this past summer, the only publicly available evidence that the Russian government was responsible for hacks of the DNC and key Democratic figures is circumstantial and far short of conclusive, courtesy of private research firms with a financial stake in their claims. Multiple federal agencies now claim certainty about the Kremlin connection, but have yet to make public any evidence.

Now, a never-before-published NSA document provided by the whistleblower Edward Snowden suggests they have a way of collecting evidence of Russian hacks, because they’ve tracked it before in the case of a prominent Russian journalist, who was also a U.S. citizen.

In 2006, longtime Kremlin critic Anna Politkovskaya was gunned down in her apartment, the victim of an apparent contract killing. Although five individuals, including the gunman, were convicted for the crime, whoever ordered the murder remains unknown. Information about Politkovskaya’s journalism career, murder, and the investigation of that crime was compiled by the NSA in the form of an internal wiki entry. Most of the wiki’s information is biographical, public, and unclassified, save for a brief passage marked Top Secret.

“Russian Federal Intelligence Services (probably FSB) are known to have targeted the webmail account of the murdered Russian journalist Anna Politkovskaya. On 5 December 2005, RFIS initiated an attack against the account annapolitkovskaia@US Provider1, deploying malicious software which is not available in the public domain. It is not known whether this attack is in any way associated with the death of the journalist.”

Although the NSA document does not specify the account, Anna Politkovskaya was known to use the email address annapolitkovskaia@yahoo.com.

In response to a query from the Intercept about the hacking of Politkovskaya’s account, Yahoo replied in a statement: “We can only disclose information about a specific user account pursuant to our terms of service, privacy policy and law enforcement guidelines.”

The year after her email was hacked, Politkovskaya was murdered, a crime that was widely suspected, though never proven, to be a Kremlin reprisal for her reporting on Chechnya and criticism of Vladimir Putin.

This hack sounds more or less like a very rough sketch of what private firms like CrowdStrike allege the FSB perpetrated against the DNC this year, and presumably what entities like the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Central Intelligence Agency, and the Office of Director of National Intelligence have advised President Obama behind closed doors.

What’s particularly interesting here is the provenance of NSA’s claims: The section is classified TS/SI, meaning Top Secret Signals Intelligence, the interception of signals (broadly construed) as they pass from one point to another, including anything from tapped phone calls to monitored internet traffic. That is to say, the NSA knew Russia hacked Politkovskaya because the NSA was spying. Thanks to the Snowden revelations we know there are many powerful, overlapping government spy programs that could allow the NSA to observe communications as they unfold.

Unfortunately, in the case of this wiki there’s no indication of exactly what sort of SIGINT was collected with regards to Politkovskaya, or how it incriminated Russian intelligence — all we have is the allusion to the evidence, not the evidence. The NSA declined to comment.

But that this evidence existed at all is important, and more so today than ever. Simply, the public evidence that the Russian government hacked the Democrats isn’t convincing. Too much of what’s been passed off to the public as proof of Kremlin involvement is based on vague clues and educated guesses of what took place. Signals intelligence could bridge the empirical gap.

Adm. Mike Rogers, the current NSA chief, has already publicly claimed that Russia was behind the attack. “This was a conscious effort by a nation state to attempt to achieve a specific effect,” Rogers said in November, without specifically mentioning Russia.

NSA whistleblowers have so far given the best idea of what the NSA’s signals intelligence on Russia, today or in 2005, could look like. Earlier this year Snowden tweeted that if the Russian government was indeed behind the hacking of the Democrats, the NSA most likely has the goods, noting that XKEYSCORE, a sort of global SIGINT search engine, “makes following exfiltrated data easy. I did this personally against Chinese ops.” Snowden went so far as to say that nailing down this sort of SIGINT hacker attribution “is the only case in which mass surveillance has actually proven effective.”

The ex-U.S. intelligence personnel who comprise the group Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity, including fellow high-profile NSA whistleblower William Binney, echoed Snowden’s assessment earlier this month.

The bottom line is that the NSA would know where and how any “hacked” emails from the DNC, HRC or any other servers were routed through the network. This process can sometimes require a closer look into the routing to sort out intermediate clients, but in the end sender and recipient can be traced across the network.

Signal interception can take many different forms, and again, there’s no way to know exactly what the NSA had intercepted surrounding Anna Politkovskaya. But we know intelligence is being gathered on a fine enough level to pin the breach of a single inbox on the Russian government. If the NSA could use signals intelligence to track a specific hack of an American email account in 2005, it’s not too much to assume that, 10 years later, the agency possesses the same or better capability today. And signals intelligence is the type of evidence that the American people are owed from the federal government today, as we contemplate a possible confrontation with Russia for interfering in our most important of democratic processes.

The Fight to Rein in NSA Surveillance: 2016 in Review

December 27, 2016

by Kate Tummarello


It’s been a busy year on a number of fronts as we continue to fight to rein in the National Security Agency’s sweeping surveillance of innocent people. Since the 2013 leaks by former government contractor Edward Snowden, the secretive and powerful agency has been at the top of mind for those thinking about unconstitutional surveillance of innocent Americans and individuals abroad.

In 2016 the courts, lawmakers, and others continued to grapple with questions of how much we know about NSA surveillance.

In the Courts

Early this year, one of EFF’s key cases in the fight to rein in government surveillance saw fallout from Congress’ 2015 passage of the modest surveillance reform bill, the USA FREEDOM Act, which formally ended a controversial program that collected records about Americans’ phone calls in bulk.

In a March decision, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in Smith v. Obama—a case brought by Idaho neonatal nurse Anna Smith challenging the constitutionality of the phone records program—that, because the program was ended by the USA FREEDOM Act, a court could not order the government to stop collecting phone records in bulk. The ruling also sent back to a lower trial court in Idaho the question of whether the U.S. government must delete Smith’s records.

We saw progress in another one of EFF’s flagship cases against government surveillance in June, when a federal judge in California gave us the green light to start asking the NSA questions related to Jewel v. NSA, a case challenging the dragnet surveillance of AT&T customers’ communications and communications records.

First filed in 2008, Jewel was stymied for years as the U.S. government repeatedly sought to have it thrown out, arguing that our clients did not have standing to bring the case. The government also said that publicly available information was inadequate and could not inform a court about the legality of the NSA’s surveillance but refused to provide any clarity or explanation that would help a court address that question.

While we’ve been able to glean considerable information about NSA surveillance through leaks, the work of investigative journalists, and public officials’ statements, we are finally able to pursue discovery and pose questions to the NSA about its surveillance activities over the years.

In April, we saw two disappointing actions by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court. First, the court unsealed a ruling from November 2015 that formally approved the FBI to use information collected through the NSA’s warrantless surveillance programs in general criminal investigations.  While we applaud the court’s move to unseal the ruling in the first place, we’re disappointed that this virtually un-appealable decision condones the use of information collected without a warrant—under a sweeping surveillance program for “foreign intelligence” purposes—in domestic criminal investigations.

The court also made public a ruling granting the FBI’s request to obtain and retain call records, even if those records were not relevant to an investigation.

In the first ruling on call records since the enactment of USA FREEDOM, the court showed how limited the law’s restraints on government surveillance really are. The law requires the government to prove it has “reasonably articulable suspicion” that an “individual, account, or personal device” is relevant to an investigation. But the court ruled that the FBI could obtain not only “first hop” records—or those about a person, device, or account relevant to an investigation—but also the “second hop” records of any person, device, or account that communicated with the first hop, regardless of whether the second hops were relevant to an investigation.

The ruling also flew in the face of the USA FREEDOM Act’s requirements that the government promptly destroy call records that are not foreign intelligence related. Instead, the court ruled that the FBI could keep the records for six months and possibly longer. Again, it’s a step in the right direction that the public see these rulings at all, but we are disappointed in the way the court has narrowly applied the already-narrow restraints in the USA FREEDOM Act.

Most recently, we saw a troubling decision out of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in the case United States v. Mohamud that further eroded Fourth Amendment protections by allowing the warrantless surveillance of a U.S. citizen under Section 702 of the FISA Amendments Act.

The case centered on Mohammed Mohamud, who in 2012 was convicted of plotting to bomb a Christmas tree lighting ceremony and was later notified that he had been subject to Section 702 surveillance. In an amicus brief last year, we argued that the surveillance in this case was unconstitutional because information about Mohamud was “incidentally” collected through a surveillance authority intended to target foreigners and then searched without a warrant, despite Mohamud’s Fourth Amendment protections as an American citizen.

We think the Ninth Circuit erred in upholding this warrantless surveillance, effectively signing off on stripping fundamental privacy protections from American citizens who communicate with people abroad.

On the Hill

Congress started off 2016 particularly attuned to concerns about NSA surveillance after The Wall Street Journal reported at the very tail end of 2015 that the NSA was eavesdropping on phone calls between members of Congress, Israeli officials, and interest groups. This is just one example of the troubling surveillance the NSA conducts under overly broad and often mysterious authorities like Section 702 and Executive Order 12333. Both of those can be used to “target” sweeping groups of people and types of communications.

At the time, we pointed out the many other reasons congressional communications could end up in the hands of the NSA—including communicating with officials at the United Nations or discussing trade issues with foreign trading partners—and we urged members of Congress to ask tough questions about how their communications were collected and shared by the NSA.Section 702 is not set to expire until the end of 2017, but Congress started thinking about reauthorizing as early as January, when the House Judiciary Committee announced a closed-door, members only meeting to discuss the surveillance authority.

The committee briefly debated—but failed to pass—Section 702 reforms when it considered the USA FREEDOM Act in 2015, and we looked forward to the debate around many much-needed changes to the law. But the closed-door meeting shut out participation from everyone except members of the intelligence community, so we joined two-dozen other organizations in calling on the committee to hold open hearings.

A closed meeting “continues the excessive secrecy that has contributed to the surveillance abuses we have seen in recent years and to their adverse effects upon both our civil liberties and economic growth,” we wrote, arguing instead for open hearings to allow input from privacy and civil liberties advocates and promote transparency.

Months later, the Senate Judiciary Committee held an open hearing on Section 702, featuring testimony from civil liberties advocates and highlighting crippling knowledge gaps around the law’s implementation, which make it impossible to conduct effective oversight of the surveillance programs.

One point driven home during the hearing was the fact that no one—including members of Congress tasked with overseeing these surveillance programs—seems to know how many Americans have their communications swept up by surveillance under Section 702, which is supposed to be aimed at individuals abroad.

“When the public lacks even a rough sense of the scope of the government’s surveillance program, they have no way of knowing if the government is striking the right balance, whether we are safeguarding our national security without trampling on our citizens’ fundamental privacy rights,” committee member and vocal privacy advocate Sen. Al Franken said during the hearing. “But the public can’t know if we succeed in striking that balance if they don’t even have the most basic information about our major surveillance programs.

The hearing also highlighted concerns about minimization procedures—or steps taken to ensure that irrelevant data about Americans incidentally swept up is deleted—applied to information collected under Section 702. Then-Chairman of the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board told lawmakers that intelligence officials don’t follow minimization procedures, which call for deletion of information about innocent Americans. “What the Board’s report found is that in fact information is never deleted,” he said. “It sits in the databases for five years, or sometimes longer.”

As Congress continues to debate reauthorizing Section 702 ahead of the 2017 deadline, we hope lawmakers will push for more information about how many innocent Americans are impacted by these sweeping programs and what measures, if any, effectively protect their privacy.

We suffered a blow on Section 702 surveillance in June when, in the wake of the tragic nightclub shooting in Orlando, surveillance defenders in the House urged members to vote against a previously popular measure to curtail spying on Americans.

In past years, the House passed similar measures from Reps. Thomas Massie and Zoe Lofgren to prevent warrantless searches of Americans’ information and keep the intelligence community from undermining encryption, including by an overwhelming 293-123 vote in 2014. But the vote fell short of the needed majority in 2016 after some lawmakers, including House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes, launched a campaign against the amendment, dishonestly tying it to the tragedy in Orlando.

We noted that the claims that this amendment would somehow stop a warranted search of the Orlando shooter’s communications to see if he was in contact with known terrorists had been debunked, and we encouraged our supporters to voice their concerns about the vote to their representatives in Congress.

We stand ready to fight similar misinformation campaigns and scare tactics as the debate continues next year.

Looking Abroad

The privacy of individuals abroad suffered a setback in 2016 when the European Commission and the U.S. Department of Commerce reached an agreement on a new deal to let companies transfer users’ data across the Atlantic. While many voiced concerns that a new cross-border data deal would pose the same privacy problems as the previous Safe Harbor agreement—which the European Court of Justice threw out in 2015 citing U.S. government surveillance—U.S. and E.U. officials went ahead with a new agreement.

We criticized the new Privacy Shield, saying the agreement “will not prevent the collection of hundreds of millions of law abiding Europeans by U.S. intelligence agencies and their partners.” We also noted that the much-lauded Judicial Redress Act—which allows European citizens and others to use the U.S. court system to defend their privacy rights—provides little in the way of actual redress for Europeans’ whose data is swept up in NSA surveillance.

We’re waiting to see if European courts reject the new deal like they did the old one. If and when the deal is struck down, we will continue the fight to protect individuals abroad from sweeping surveillance by the NSA.


Can Trump contain China with Russia’s help?

By nominating China critics and Russia friends, US President-elect Donald Trump has made clear that he intends to change the fundamental rules of US foreign and trade policies, expert Thomas Jäger tells DW.

December 29, 201g


DW: By picking hawkish China critic Peter Navarro to lead the newly established White House National Trade Council, what is Donald Trump trying to achieve?

Thomas Jäger: Navarro’s nomination proves that Trump wants to reshape and redesign policies rather than adapting to the changing situations. The incoming US administration says it wants to take a new path in foreign policy. The president-elect’s team won’t be as cautious in its business with China as the Obama administration. Trump believes that the US governments have emboldened Beijing, which now dominates international trade policies.

Will Trump start a trade war with China?

What we can say for sure is the US won’t remain passive anymore. The US under Trump will redefine its relationship with Russia and try to contain China with Moscow’s help. Trump will also strengthen ties with China’s neighboring countries in the Pacific. This would be an enormous economic and political containment of China.

Are you saying that rapprochement with Russia and aggression toward China is part of the same US foreign policy?

I think so. If Trump succeeds in reshaping US relations with Russia, China will come under pressure. Then Beijing is likely to negotiate and could give up its claims on the South China Sea or offer trade concessions. We should keep in mind that an aggressive economic policy played a big role in the US’ “victory” over the Soviet Union.

Are we in for a complete paradigm shift?

It looks possible. Maybe, it won’t come to this. It also depends on how Moscow and Beijing react to Trump’s policies. But it is pretty obvious that Trump and his team are pursuing a policy of being tough with China and easy with Russia at this point.

Many people still underestimate Trump’s leadership qualities. Is it possible that he actually has a master plan?

Trump is evolving. In the recent weeks, he has consulted many politicians and consulting firms. They certainly have influenced him to some extent. They have introduced him to a world that he didn’t know previously. I think he will be able to use this knowledge and his own ideas to his benefit.

Trump has a completely different way of thinking than President Barack Obama. Obama thoroughly examines issues and then develop a strategy. Trump has a different mindset; he analyzes quarterly reports. I am sure the US foreign and trade policies will also be evaluated on a quarterly basis now.

Thomas Jäger has been teaching international and foreign politics at the University of Cologne since 1999. His main research areas are international relations and the foreign policies of Germany and the United States.

The interview was conducted by Thomas Kohlmann.

 Russia sanctions? Trump says US needs to ‘get on with our lives’ instead

December 29, 2016


Responding to reports that the Obama administration wants to slap Russia with new sanctions for allegedly interfering in the 2016 election, President-elect Donald Trump said the US needs to “get on with our lives,” as “nobody knows exactly what’s going on.”

Donald Trump once again contested allegations put forth by the US intelligence community claiming that Russia orchestrated hack attacks to disrupt the Democratic Party’s activities. On Wednesday, Republican Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) said during a trip to Latvia’s capital, Riga, that Moscow should expect new sanctions for allegedly interfering in the 2016 election.

Asked by reporters if imposing the sanctions would make any sense, Trump replied: “I think we ought to get on with our lives. I think that computers have complicated lives very greatly. The whole age of computer has made it where nobody knows exactly what’s going on.”

Though Trump said he wasn’t familiar with Graham’s remarks, he did note: “We have speed. We have a lot of other things, but I’m not sure you have the kind of security that you need. But I have not spoken with the senators and I certainly will be over a period of time.”

Moscow hopes that the new sanctions may be lifted by the incoming Trump administration, the Russian Foreign Ministry’s special envoy Andrey Krutskikh said on Thursday.

The diplomat added that, given Trump’s promise to reverse up to 70 percent of Obama’s executive orders, “the latest restrictions that hamper our cooperation are very likely to be part of those 70 percent,” as cited by RIA Novosti.

His statement comes amid media reports that the incoming administration may take steps towards mending Washington and Moscow’s badly bruised relationship. According to German magazine Bild, Trump is looking to lift sanctions on Russia, as has been recommended by American political heavyweight Henry Kissinger.

The article adds that Kissinger, who was secretary of state and national security advisor during the Nixon administration, has “clear ideas” about the future relations of the two nuclear superpowers.

The outgoing Obama administration and the Democratic camp maintain that ‘Russian hack attacks’ were instrumental in undermining popular support for Hillary Clinton and paving the way to Trump’s victory. Earlier in December, Barack Obama threatened Russia with covert and public payback, which he said would be carried out in a “thoughtful, methodical way” and could come at any time.

On Wednesday, Secretary of State John Kerry confirmed Obama’s intention, saying the outgoing president reserves “the right to respond to Russia at the place and time and manner of his choosing… Believe me, it will be his choosing.”

For his part, Trump has dismissed the bizarre allegations that Moscow tried to interfere in the 2016 US presidential elections as “conspiracy theory.”

The claims that Russia was behind the DNC hack have also been disputed by CIA and NSA veterans, who wrote in mid-December that “harder evidence of a technical nature points to an inside leak, not hacking – by Russians or anyone else.”

The group called Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity stressed in a memo that “given what we know of NSA’s existing capabilities, it beggars belief that NSA would be unable to identify anyone – Russian or not – attempting to interfere in a US election by hacking.”

It said the emails contained in the Democratic Party servers “were, in fact, not hacked,” but leaked to WikiLeaks and other sites that subsequently published them. In turn, WikiLeaks urged Obama to “submit any Putin documents” to them so they can “be authenticated to our standards if he wants them to be seen as credible.”

Iraqi forces launch second phase of Mosul offensive against Islamic State

December 29, 2016

by Isabel Coles and Stephen Kalin


NEAR MOSUL, Iraq-Iraqi security forces on Thursday began the second phase of their offensive against Islamic State militants in Mosul, pushing from three directions into eastern districts where the battle has been deadlocked for nearly a month.

U.S.-backed forces have retaken a quarter of the jihadists’ last major stronghold in Iraq in the biggest ground operation there since the 2003 U.S.-led invasion to topple Saddam Hussein.

More than 5,000 soldiers and federal police troops, redeployed from Mosul’s southern outskirts, entered half a dozen southeastern districts, while counter-terrorism forces advanced in al-Quds and Karama districts after reinforcements arrived.

Other soldiers pushed simultaneously towards the city’s northern limits. U.S. military advisers were seen watching operations.

“At 0700 this morning the three fronts began advancing towards the city centre. The operation is ongoing today and tomorrow and until we liberate the eastern side of the city completely,” Lieutenant General Ali Freiji, who was overseeing army operations in the north, told Reuters.

A U.S.-led coalition backing the Iraqis said the operation had opened two new fronts inside Mosul and limited Islamic State’s ability to raise fighter numbers, move them or resupply.

The fall of Mosul would probably spell the end for Islamic State’s ambition to rule over millions of people in a self-styled caliphate, although the militants would still be capable of waging a traditional insurgency in Iraq, and plotting or inspiring attacks on the West.


One elite Iraqi unit encountered sniper and machine gunfire as it advanced alongside federal police in Mosul’s Intisar district, an officer said.

A plume of white smoke, likely to be from an air strike, rose from a southeastern district while heavy gunfire was audible on the northern front and a commander there said nine suicide car bombs had been disabled.

State TV said Islamic State defences were collapsing in the areas of Salam, Intisar, Wahda, Palestine and al-Quds and that fighters’ bodies filled the streets there. A military statement later said forces had raised the Iraqi flag in al-Quds.

The government’s accounts are difficult to confirm as the authorities have increasingly restricted foreign media’s access to the battle fronts and areas retaken from Islamic State in and around Mosul. They have given no reason.

The military has not entered the city’s western side, where 2,000-year-old markets and narrow alleyways would be likely to complicate any advance.

The battle for Mosul involves 100,000 Iraqi troops, members of the Kurdish security forces and Shi’ite militiamen.

U.S. commanders have said in recent weeks that their military advisers will embed more extensively with Iraqi forces.

Some were spotted on a roof behind the front lines on Thursday, advising Iraqi commanders and watching the operations.

An army colonel said Iraqi forces had suffered few casualties so far.

“The orders from the senior commanders are clear: no halting, no retreat until we reach the fourth bridge and link up with counter-terrorism units,” he said.

Coalition forces bombed the last remaining bridge connecting east and west Mosul late on Monday in a bid to block Islamic State’s access across the Tigris River.

“The enemy is currently isolated inside the left (eastern) bank of Mosul,” military spokesman Yahia Rassol said on state TV. “In the coming days, Iraqi forces will liberate the entire left bank of Mosul and after that we will tackle the right.”


The United Nations has expressed concern that destroying the bridges could obstruct the evacuation of civilians. As many as 1.5 million are thought to still be inside.

Residents of eastern Mosul reached by phone described fierce clashes that included explosions, air strikes and bombardment by helicopters.

“My family and I cannot leave the room we are sitting in. We have sealed the windows for hours, but in the afternoon the Iraqi forces arrived and we saw them,” said one al-Quds resident.

Civilians in western Mosul said clashes were audible from the opposite bank of the river. One of them said Islamic State was boasting in radio broadcasts of attacking areas retaken by Iraqi forces, where many civilians are trapped.

Three residents emerged from a northern village on Thursday, including an elderly man who sat down in the road and wept. He said his wife had been shot dead by Islamic State a day earlier as she collected water. Iraqi forces searched the civilians and let them continue to a nearby village.

Mosul, the largest city held by Islamic State anywhere across its once vast territorial holdings in Iraq and neighbouring Syria, has been held by the group since its fighters drove the U.S.-trained Iraqi army out in June 2014.

Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, who had pledged to retake Mosul by the end of the year, said this week it would take three more months to rout Islamic State from the country.

The operation has been slowed by concern to avoid casualties among civilians, who despite food and water shortages have mostly stayed in their homes rather than fleeing as had been expected.

More than 114,000 have been displaced so far, according to the United Nations.

About 200 civilians who left villages north of Mosul on Thursday, many still with the full beards required by Islamic State, were taken by Kurdish security forces to a nearby camp.

(Additional reporting by Ahmed Rasheed and Saif Hameed in Baghdad; Editing by Louise Ireland)

 Number of migrants leaving Germany voluntarily rises in 2016

December 28, 2016

by Erik Kirschbaum


BERLIN-Nearly 55,000 migrants who were not eligible for or were likely to be denied asylum left Germany voluntarily in 2016, up by 20,000 from the number who left of their own volition in 2015, the government said on Wednesday.

“That’s a considerable increase from last year,” Interior Ministry spokesman Harald Neymanns told a news conference, saying the 2016 figure had climbed to 54,123 through Dec. 27. “The increase is welcome. It’s always preferable when people leave the country voluntarily instead of being deported.”

A Finance Ministry spokesman said the government would boost funding slightly to 150 million euros in 2017 to support efforts to encourage people to leave Germany.

Germany has toughened its stance on immigration in recent months, prompted by concerns about security and integration after admitting more than 1.1 million migrants from the Middle East, Africa and elsewhere since early 2015.

Last week a failed asylum seeker who had sworn allegiance to the Islamic State militant group killed 12 people when he rammed a truck into a Christmas market in Berlin, fuelling growing criticism of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s immigration policy.

Most of those leaving in 2016 returned to their homes in Albania, Serbia, Iraq, Kosovo, Afghanistan and Iran, Sueddeutsche Zeitung newspaper said earlier. Those leaving are eligible for one-off support of up to 3,000 euros that is supposed to help support finding employment at home.

Separately, German security officials told Reuters the number of those deported after their asylum requests were rejected rose to almost 23,800 from January to November – up from almost 20,900 in all of 2015.

There has also been a rise in the number of refugees turned away at the borders. A report by the Neue Osnabruecker Zeitung daily said police had turned back 19,720 refugees through the first 11 months of 2016 – up from 8,913 in all of 2015. Most were from Afghanistan, Syria, Iraq and Nigeria. They had been registered in other EU countries.

As public support for her pro-refugee policies wanes ahead of September’s federal election, Merkel has said it is vital to focus resources on those fleeing war, and to keep public support up by deporting foreigners to countries where there is no persecution.

Attacks and security alerts involving refugees and migrants have boosted the popularity of the anti-immigration Alternative for Germany (AfD) party, whose rise above 10 percent in opinion polls could complicate Merkel’s re-election hopes.

On Tuesday, seven refugees from Syria and Iraq aged 15 to 21 were detained in Berlin on charges of attempted murder for trying to set fire to a homeless man in an underground station.

(Reporting by Erik Kirschbaum; Editing by Raissa Kasolowsky and Janet Lawrence)

 Tactics and Tecniques

December 29, 2016

by Harry von Johnston, PhD

Law Enforcement Intelligence: A Guide for State, Local, and Tribal Law Enforcement Agencies

Threat capacity, several factors need to be examined: What is the history of the groups? Have they committed attacks or crimes in the past? If so,what was the modus operandi (MO) and character of the act? Does the group have the capability to actually commit terrorist acts or crimes? If so,how robust is that capability? Are unique opportunities present for the group to commit an act? What appears to be the resolve or the commitment of the group? Factors such as these can develop an image to aid in determining the character of the threat posed by individuals and groups in the inventory.

Target assessment: In light of the nature of the groups in the threat inventory, probable targets can be identified in the region. It is rare that a specific target can be identified, but based on history, statements, threats, and the nature of an extremist group’s ideology, the array of targets can be narrowed. Similarly, criminal enterprises tend to have targeted commodities that they traffic or types of frauds they perpetrate.

Target vulnerability: The last variable is to assess each of these targets to determine how vulnerable they are to attack. This often involves working with the private sector and often crime-prevention specialists within thelaw enforcement agency. Given the difficulty of identifying specific targets, the goal is to ensure that each potential target in the region is hardened against an attack.

When information is not available about the factors in this assessment model, there is an intelligence gap that must be filled by a requirement.

FBI Intelligence Requirements Templates

When going through this threat assessment process, the SLTLE agency will need information from the FBI to aid in fully identifying and assessing threats. As noted by the FBI: State and local agencies or entities are served by the FBI and have specific needs for tailored intelligence. … To appropriately address the information needs of state and local agencies, certain procedures can enhance this process. These include:.153

  • Identifying, prioritizing, and addressing state and local information


  • Sharing intelligence, analytical techniques, and tools.
  • Timely distribution of appropriate intelligence.
  • Seek feedback from state and local [law enforcement concerning

the] effectiveness of the support.

To facilitate this information exchange, the FBI Office of Intelligence developed a template expressly for SLTLE agencies to use for logging Intelligence Information Needs (IINs) or intelligence gaps they identify. IINs are questions expressed by customers of the FBI and other intelligence producers, the answers to which support law enforcement functions. IINs are not operational leads or questions on the status of investigations or operations. Intelligence gaps are unanswered questions about a criminal, cyber, or national security issue or threat. To illustrate this further, the FBI developed a sample of “baseline” IINs.

The SLTLE agency should coordinate its use of IINs and information exchange with the Field Intelligence Group (FIG) of the FBI Field Office servicing it.

National and local threat assessment reports.

– Reliability of the information received

– Group planning attack(s)

– Target(s)

– Why is the target a target?

– Suspected method of attack

– Weapons of attack

– Time frame of attack

– Response of federal entities

Global, national and local trend reports regarding organizations and structures of active terrorist, criminal, drug, and hate groups in the US.

– Identity of suspects and their roles in the local area

– Territorial reach

– Decision-making processes; degree of subordinate autonomy

– Command-control-communications techniques, equipment, network

– Global, national and local trend reports regarding capabilities, intentions, MO of suspect groups in the US

– Types of weapons, explosives, or WMD

– Methods of moving, storing and concealing weapons, contraband and human traffic

– Special/technical expertise possessed by groups

Requesting Organization

(Agency, department, organization)

Dissemination Instructions

(Customer name, position title, mailing address, contact number, LEO or other official e-mail address)

Illegal activities of suspect groups in local jurisdictions

– illegal production/acquisition of CBRNE materials/precursors, illegal drugs or substances, prohibited items or persons

– illegal arms trade, theft, diversion, sales; smuggling of aliens, terrorists, or prohibited items; human trafficking

– HAZMAT dumping; environmental crimes; trafficking in endangered species

– links between criminal groups and terrorist or foreign intelligence organizations; bribery/extortion/corruption of public officials Identity, roles of US and foreign players sponsoring/supporting criminal, terrorist, espionage activities in local jurisdictions

– criminal function of each operative or entity;extraterritorial reach

– associated commercial/charitable entities; front/cover organizations

– chain of custody in transport of critical technology, illegal items/persons

– overseas connections (official, unofficial, private sources); group sympathizers

– financial dependencies; extent of group’s reliance on external support, funds

Intelligence/security activities of suspect groups

– surveillance, reconnaissance, concealment, “cover” activities; safe houses

– counterintelligence and physical security techniques and tactics

– COMSEC operations; ability to monitor LEC communications

– informant/mole network available to suspect groups

– production of, access to false/counterfeit documents and identification

– deception, disinformation operations and techniques

Requesting Organization


Modes of transportation and conveyance (air, maritime, and ground)

– use of commercial transport/courier/shipping services and carriers

– use of private/non-commercial carriers, couriers

– types/identification of cargo containers; modifications

– itineraries; favored routes; point of departure/source; nations transited

– transshipment nodes; border-crossing techniques

– multiple couriers chain-of-custody techniques; arrival/pick-up techniques

Finances of suspect groups

– support networks; state and private sponsors; shell companies

– money-laundering techniques; unconventional financial transfers (e.g.,


– shell companies; charity/humanitarian sponsors and covers

– financial crime used to generate income; extortion of vulnerable targets

– cooperative, facilitating financial institutions or service providers

– financial links between public officials and criminal organizations or enterprises, hate groups, or FIS

– criminal control of public, tribal financial assets or property

Impact of LE or USG efforts to combat suspect groups’ activities

– infiltration; compromise; destruction; disruption

– which tactics most/least effective; evidence of shift in suspect groups’ tactics, techniques, or targets

– effectiveness of LE efforts overseas



– response of suspect groups to LE efforts(countermeasures)

– suspect group efforts at corruption of public/LE officials or employees

– evidence of foreign/external LE entities’ capabilities to cooperate and collaborate in joint efforts or operations

– evidence of change in policies/attitudes overseas that affect tolerance for or freedom of action of suspect groups to operate in foreign environments

Recruitment; training; collaboration by suspect groups

– recruitment techniques and priority targets

– training received: type, location, provider, curriculum, facilities

Tactics of intimidation, interference with free exercise of civil rights

– targets of hate groups, ethnic supremacist organizations

– incidents of violence or incitement against individuals, groups, places of worship, schools, commercial entities identified with ethnic or political minorities

Capabilities, plans, intentions, MO of suspect groups to conduct computer intrusion or criminal assault on computer systems and data bases. Locally active hackers.



Many federal agencies have reengineered their intelligence function since 9/11. Intelligence products have been redesigned or new products developed, dissemination methods have been revised, greater attention has been given to providing critical information that is unclassified for wide consumption by state, local, and tribal law enforcement (SLTLE), and new offices and initiatives have been developed.

More information is being produced and disseminated morewidely than in the history of law enforcement. Among the challenges that law enforcement now faces is accessing that needed information and using it with efficacy.


Philippines’ Duterte calls U.S. envoys ‘spies’ over alleged ouster plot

December 29, 2016

by Martin Petty and Neil Jerome Morales


MANILA-Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte derided U.S. ambassadors as “spies” on Thursday, responding to a media report of an alleged American plot to destabilize his government, a job he said some envoys were appointed solely to do.

The volatile former mayor said though had received no intelligence reports of any U.S. plan to undermine his presidency, he believed most ambassadors were in cahoots with the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), which had a track record of meddling in other countries’ affairs.

The Manila Times newspaper on Tuesday reported a former U.S. ambassador to the Philippines had prepared a “blueprint to undermine Duterte”, citing a document it had received from what it described as a “highly placed source”. (bit.ly/2hhzEGk)

The U.S. State Department has described the allegations as “false”.

“Most of the ambassadors of the United States, but not all, are not really professional ambassadors. At the same time they are spying, they are connected with the CIA,” Duterte said in a television interview.

“The ambassador of a country is the number one spy. But there are ambassador of the U.S., their forte is really to undermine governments.”

Duterte has made no secret of his grudge against the United States and has a particular disdain for President Barack Obama, who he has told to “go to hell”, mostly over Obama’s concern s about Duterte’s deadly drugs war.

He has made repeated threats to abrogate security treaties with the United States and vented almost daily about U.S. “hypocrisy” and “bullying”.

On Thursday, Duterte said he would honor those treaties and that he liked U.S. President-elect Donald Trump and was keenly waiting for him to take office.

The Manila Times said Philip Goldberg, who recently ended his term as ambassador in Manila, had outlined various strategies over an 18-month period to destabilize Duterte.

That would include supporting the opposition and co-opting the media, the military, neighboring countries and senior government officials to turn against Duterte and isolate him economically.

Duterte has a dislike for Goldberg and has previously called him a “gay son of a bitch”. He referred to him in three successive live television interviews on Thursday, calling him Washington’s “superstar” with a track record of trying to undermine governments.

Goldberg was expelled as ambassador to Bolivia in 2008 by then President Evo Morales, who accused him of siding with his rightist opponents and of orchestrating street protests.

The United States rejected that and said his expulsion was a “grave error”.

“Maybe he will deny it but it’s not good,” Duterte said of Goldberg’s alleged blueprint, which he said was plausible because of Goldberg’s history.

He added: “You might be able to oust me, but I will give you a bloody nose.”

Attempts by Reuters to reach Goldberg this week were unsuccessful.

U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for East Asia and the Pacific Daniel Russel dismissed the Manila Times report.

“No such blueprint exists,” he said in a statement on Tuesday.

“The United States respects the sovereignty of the Philippines and the democratic choices made by the Philippine people.”

(Editing by Robert Birsel)







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