TBR News March 27, 2016

Mar 27 2016

The Voice of the White House

Washington, D.C., March 27, 2016: “To those who devoutly wish for peace, justice, universal love, divine harmony and who like to take off their clothes and dance naked in the forest with the deer, there has been growing concern about the sharp rise in what they believe to be divisive and ugly speech. That speech can lead to actions seem to elude them. Once excoriated by the liberal media, for obvious reasons considering its ownership, anti-Semitic remarks seem to be growing on the Internet and in public conversations. The fact that the two leading Democratic contenders for the White House are both Jewish might well be the motivating factor in this eruption but while presented to the rest of the world as a bastion of love and democracy, the inhabitants of the United States have been, in actuality, bigots, fanatics and very badly educated. Overpopulation and economic downturns are acting as propellants for this anti-Semetic, antoi-Muslim, anti-immigrant speech and when this is interdicted by government decree, more and very serious social unrest will inevitably follow.”



Microsoft apologizes for offensive tirade by its ‘chatbot’

March 26, 2016

by Alex Dobuzinskis


LOS ANGELES-Microsoft is “deeply sorry” for the racist and sexist Twitter messages generated by the so-called chatbot it launched this week, a company official wrote on Friday, after the artificial intelligence program went on an embarrassing tirade.

The bot, known as Tay, was designed to become “smarter” as more users interacted with it. Instead, it quickly learned to parrot a slew of anti-Semitic and other hateful invective that human Twitter users started feeding the program, forcing Microsoft Corp (MSFT.O) to shut it down on Thursday.

Following the setback, Microsoft said in a blog post it would revive Tay only if its engineers could find a way to prevent Web users from influencing the chatbot in ways that undermine the company’s principles and values.

“We are deeply sorry for the unintended offensive and hurtful tweets from Tay, which do not represent who we are or what we stand for, nor how we designed Tay,” wrote Peter Lee, Microsoft’s vice president of research.

Microsoft created Tay as an experiment to learn more about how artificial intelligence programs can engage with Web users in casual conversation. The project was designed to interact with and “learn” from the young generation of millennials.

Tay began its short-lived Twitter tenure on Wednesday with a handful of innocuous tweets.

Then its posts took a dark turn.

In one typical example, Tay tweeted: “feminism is cancer,” in response to another Twitter user who had posted the same message.

Lee, in the blog post, called Web users’ efforts to exert a malicious influence on the chatbot “a coordinated attack by a subset of people.”

“Although we had prepared for many types of abuses of the system, we had made a critical oversight for this specific attack,” Lee wrote. “As a result, Tay tweeted wildly inappropriate and reprehensible words and images.”

Microsoft has enjoyed better success with a chatbot called XiaoIce that the company launched in China in 2014. XiaoIce is used by about 40 million people and is known for “delighting with its stories and conversations,” according to Microsoft.

As for Tay? Not so much.

“We will remain steadfast in our efforts to learn from this and other experiences as we work toward contributing to an Internet that represents the best, not the worst, of humanity,” Lee wrote.

(Editing by Frank McGurty and Peter Cooney)



Conversations with the Crow

On October 8th, 2000, Robert Trumbull Crowley, once a leader of the CIA’s Clandestine Operations Division, died in a Washington hospital of heart failure and the end effects of Alzheimer’s Disease. Before the late Assistant Director Crowley was cold, Joseph Trento, a writer of light-weight books on the CIA, descended on Crowley’s widow at her town house on Cathedral Hill Drive in Washington and hauled away over fifty boxes of Crowley’s CIA files.

Once Trento had his new find secure in his house in Front Royal , Virginia, he called a well-known Washington fix lawyer with the news of his success in securing what the CIA had always considered to be a potential major embarrassment. Three months before, July 20th of that year, retired Marine Corps colonel William R. Corson, and an associate of Crowley, died of emphysema and lung cancer at a hospital in Bethesda, Md.           After Corson’s death, Trento and his Washington lawyer went to Corson’s bank, got into his safe deposit box and removed a manuscript entitled ‘Zipper.’ This manuscript, which dealt with Crowley’s involvement in the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, vanished into a CIA burn-bag and the matter was considered to be closed forever

After Crowley’s death and Trento’s raid on the Crowley files, huge gaps were subsequently discovered by horrified CIA officials and when Crowley’s friends mentioned Gregory Douglas, it was discovered that Crowley’s son had shipped two large boxes to Douglas. No one knew their contents but because Douglas was viewed as an uncontrollable loose cannon who had done considerable damage to the CIA’s reputation by his on-going publication of the history of Gestapo-Mueller, they bent every effort both to identify the missing files and make some effort to retrieve them before Douglas made any use of them.

Douglas had been in close contact with Crowley and had long phone conversations with him. He found this so interesting and informative that he taped and later transcribed them.

These conversations have been published in a book: ‘Conversations with the Crow” and this is an excerpt.




Conversation No. 13

Date: Wednesday, May 8, 1996

Commenced: 9:54 AM CST

Concluded: 10:32 AM CST

RTC: Good morning, Gregory. Have you been reading about the resurrection of brother Colby?

GD: Good morning, Robert. Yes, I saw this piece of news yesterday but I was too busy to call you. I’m trying to finish up the translation of Mueller’s journals and when I get on a rush, I don’t let up. He floated…no some divers found him. Right?

RTC: As I understand it, yes. Oddly enough, they had searched the same place before but without success.

GD: Maybe they took him from a fishpond somewhere and planted him before he got too ripe.

RTC: It’s an odd case, Gregory. Here we have a man in his late ‘70s staying at his little summer place out on Rock Point, coming downstairs about eleven in the evening, putting on the computer and the television and then running outside in bad weather, jumping into his canoe and paddling out onto the river which was very rough about then what with the wind and rain. And, most interesting, he left his life belt behind. Bill always wore his vest when he went out in his canoe but he seems to have forgotten it. Careless.

GD: Getting old.

RTC: But no older.

GD: Can I do a scenario for you, Robert? Just to show you how really clever I am?

RTC: Why not?

GD: Some friends came to visit him a little earlier. Unannounced of course. Friendly talk, maybe a glass or two of wine and then poor Colby drank something that made him a little disoriented. Nothing to remain in the body afterwards, of course. Then I’ll bet they picked him up, took him out and put him in the boat they came in on, hooked the canoe up behind them with a painter and out onto the bounding main. Then into the nice cold water, unhitching the canoe and back to shore and the warmth of home and hearth. There was no mention of a hole in his head or missing body parts at all. A careless and confused old man out for a refreshing little trip and then tragedy strikes. I don’t think they’ve had time for a full post but I’ll just wager you they won’t find any cyanide or ricin in him. Another skillfully planned CIA wet action.

RTC: That’s an interesting analysis, Gregory. You haven’t been talking to anyone about this, have you?

GD: From that, I must have guessed right. The reports mentioned the computer and the bad weather and I put the rest together. I always loved jigsaw puzzles, Robert. In the summer, when Chicago got hot, we had no air conditioning in those days so we used to go up to Vilas County in upper Wisconsin to get cool. Nice summer house on a quiet lake. On the front screen porch, there were two large ping pong tables and boxes of very complex jigsaw puzzles. While everyone else was out swimming or fishing for the really delicious lake trout, I was on the porch for hours, putting the puzzles together. I love puzzles. On this one, the pieces were all there.

RTC: I told Kimmel once that you would have made a first class agent for us and he was outraged that I would even think of such sacrilege.

GD: I don’t disagree with you Robert. Kimmel once told me, seriously, that I suffered from the worst case of hubris he had ever seen. Do you know what I told him?

RTC: Were you rude?

GD: No, merely accurate. I told him that I had thought I was wrong about something once but found out later I was mistaken.

RTC: Delightful response, Gregory. And his?

GD: He was not amused, but I was. Anyway, the errant Colby has returned to the land of the living but in worse shape than when he left it.

RTC: Thank God for that.

GD: We can anticipate solemn statements from the White House, a weeping wife and black-suited friends and then off to the bone yard in a bronze box, tightly sealed lest eau d’Colby annoy people downwind. By now he probably smells like a big Camembert cheese. And soon forgotten by most. And from what you said, you won’t be going to the services.

RTC: I think not.

GD: But you do have your memories.

RTC: So do a lot of others. Perhaps we can discuss something more cheerful than the loss of a valued friend and freedom fighter, Gregory.

GD: How is the blessed box working?

RTC: The birds still flee but no ambulances at the door.

GD: Yes. Wait until valued secretary Mitzi Rumpleberger hangs herself in an electronically inspired fit of depression in the ladies’ lavatory with a pair of silk stockings.

RTC: The Ambassador would be more spectacular.

GD: His office is probably in the back. And one would hope he doesn’t wear silk stockings. Or a bra either.

RTC: Such imagery.

GD: If you don’t laugh, Robert, you will go crazy. People don’t realize that life is a huge practical joke that always has a bad ending. Like Brother Colby, but enough of forbidden topics. Someday, I will tell you how I nailed Pollard.

RTC: This is not another joke?

GD: Not at all.

RTC: I have some knowledge of this business, Gregory, and I would like to compare it to your own. Do go on.

GD: I knew a military collector when I was living in California. He used to collect SS items which was rather weird because he was Jewish. His father had been a host for a kiddie television show and after he and the mother got a divorce, she married a big cheese in the insurance business. Jack Beckett.

RTC: Transamerica Beckett?

GD: The same. They lived in Atherton in a gated house. I used to visit there from time to time and met Beckett a few times. A very decent, down to earth person, easy to talk to and I would say very honest. Did you know him?

RTC: I believe we knew him.

GD: He mentioned he knew Stansfield Turner so you must be right. Anyway, Abenheim, that’s his name, Donald Abenheim, had a fellow student from Stanford named Jay Pollard. Pollard used to come over and the two of them would war game and I sat in on a few sessions. Pollard was a very pleasant, smart fellow but a raging nebbish. A Walter Mitty type, if you know what I mean. Lived in a fantasy world of his own making. Pollard’s father was a dentist or something dull living in Ohio but Pollard was a downright fanatical Israeli supporter and he went on about working as a kibbutz guard, being an officer in the Mossad and so on. Obvious bullshit. It didn’t make him a bad person but he was a little hard to take at times. We never believed a word he said on that subject. Anyway, later, after Abenheim had graduated from Stanford, he told me Pollard had tried to get into your agency as an analyst but they discovered his Israeli lust and turned him down. Don told me that in their yearbook, Pollard put down that he was a major in the Mossad. But then he went to work for naval intelligence….

RTC: Naval Fleet Intelligence. Then he transferred over to the Anti-Terrorist Alert center of the NIS.

GD: The what?

RTC: Naval Investigative Service. They dealt with top secret military communications. Go on.

GD: When Don told me about this, I remarked that perhaps, given his attitudes, this was really not the place for Pollard to work.

RTC: In hindsight, you were perfectly right.

GD: So I pumped Abenheim about what Pollard was doing. Jay was in touch with him and they both had motor mouths. When Abenheim got specific, I suggested that he mention this to someone because he was fooling around with the national intelligence community but he only laughed at me.

RTC: And then what?

GD: Well, I thought about this and don’t forget I knew Pollard’s fanatic attitudes…I mean they were obsessive, believe me…so after stewing about this, I called up someone I knew who was connected with the Pacifica Foundation. He was a friend of Cap Weinberger, the Secretary of Defense. I told him all about Pollard and said that in my opinion, this was a man who should not have any access to secret governmental material dealing with anything in the Middle East. I made it a point to tell this fellow that if he couldn’t get Weinberger’s attention, I would take it to the press. Oh no, he said, give me some time. I did. He called me back in about a week and said he had passed the word along and begged me to keep quiet about it. Fair enough. Then we all know what happened.

RTC: Yes, we all do. So you were the “unidentified source.”

GD: Yes. Beats Mr. Sunshine.

RTC: Did you hear about what Weinberger did to Pollard?

GD: Not really.

RTC: Pollard cut a deal with the government for a lighter sentence but Weinberger hated him and got Wolf Blitzer to have an interview with Pollard and trick him into breaking his agreement. Pollard got life for being stupid.

GD: He wasn’t stupid, but he had no common sense.

RTC: Well, now he’s got life in the slammer.

GD: I told Abenheim what I did and he was terrified I would drag him into it. He was living off of Beckett, who put him into Stanford and bought him new cars and so on, and he was afraid of the consequences if Beckett got wind of his own lack of concern. He used to babble all kinds of family gossip around, including myself, and I always thought that if you take a man’s bread, you owe him at least some loyalty. But Don was not a man to contemplate honor. I remember once when I was having certain conversation with a German diplomat in San Francisco, this fellow encountered Don at some function. Don was an outrageous ass-kisser and at any rate, the German told him he knew me and that I was a “brilliant scholar” on the German scene. He said that Abenheim got annoyed and said I was only self-educated, which I am not and I said that considering that I had written Abenheim’s doctoral thesis, that was hardly appropriate. The German found this rather shocking.

RTC: If Stanford ever found out about that, they would jerk his degree, you know. I don’t think that would do his intelligence career any good. What was the thesis on?

GD: The Imperial German Navy’s etappendienst or resupply system, in the First World War. After this episode, I mentioned it to Charlie Burdick, the German military historian and Dean at San Jose State, very reputable and I’ve known him since ’52…anyway, he said that this paper struck him as much better than Abenheim’s usually pompous and turgid works. He knew my work and said that he could see in an instant that I was right. I asked him, since he was Abenheim’s sponsor for the doctorate, what he was going to do about it. As usual, nothing. But he would never talk to Don again.

RTC: What happened to him?

GD: Burdick?

RTC: No, Abenheim. Does he work for us?

GD: No, although Beckett wanted to get him into the CIA via his contacts with Turner. He does intelligence work for the Navy, I think. After I had a talk with him about his mouth problem, we haven’t spoken.

RTC: You should tip them off. We have too many treacherous people like that.

GD: Well, I don’t worry about it. The Germans and Burdick know, and believe me, and he can deal with that knowledge. I don’t think you have to worry about his selling secrets to Israel. He and his mother hate the Zionists. Reformed Jews usually do.

RTC: What does he think about your writings on Mueller?

GD: I would hate to think. Fortunately, that is outside his interest so I am probably safe.

RTC: What is his specialty?

GD: He likes to think he’s an expert on German military tradition but he most certainly is not. Abenheim is the moon and Beckett is the sun. Abenheim drove expensive sports cars, lived in an expensive house, went to an expensive school and met famous people but only because his mother married an important, and very generous, man. I remember once, Don and his friends were planning on raiding a military storage area in San Francisco when he was working in the Presidio museum. They heard there was morphine stored there and planned to sell it. I told him that I would tell his mother if he didn’t drop that idea and it scared him off. I mean, what an utterly stupid thing to do. He should have thanked me for keeping him out of jail instead of trash mouthing me to others.

RTC: Given what you’ve told me, he’s probably just jealous. I imagine he loved to pick your brains.

GD: Yes, like Corson.

RTC: There are certain similarities there.

GD: God save us from those of the small mind and large ego.

RTC: Anyway, Gregory, you did the right thing in the Pollard matter. And while your name is not known in this, your good deeds certainly are.

GD: But no good deed goes unpunished, does it, Robert? At least, Abenheim will be more cautious in the future or I might start writing nice letters to Stanford. After all, I have all the original work on his thesis. His useless notes and my handwritten pages. I remember once when he told me that brave Israeli commandos raided a Libyan secret plant, deep in the desert, and destroyed it. I got tired of his pomposity so I told him, very offhand, that that was a hoax. I said Kadaffi had put some oil and old tires into 55 gallon drums and set them on fire. I said the satellites showed clouds of black smoke but there was nothing to it. He got very irate and asked me how I knew such things? I said I had seen the side-angle satellite pictures…

RTC: My God, Gregory, you didn’t? Those satellites are very, very secret. He must have had a fit about that.

GD: Oh, he did. It turned out later I was right about the burning tires so he rushed to his superiors to tell them all about the horrid person who had access to the sacred satellite pictures. And about a month later, a military collector friend of mine was approached by someone at a collector’s club meeting. A nice, clean-cut fellow named Mason. Anyway, this fellow made friends with my collector connection and developed a great interest in me and my doings. I checked on this Mason fellow and discovered from Petersen that Chris was a CIA operative so I led him a wonderful chase, feeding him all kinds of nonsense until he finally, after several months, realized he was being made a fool of and he went back to Washington. He was not very bright, Robert. I had written a book on German paratroopers in the campaign on Crete so he had my friend send me a mint copy of the book to autograph. The cover was heavy coated stock so I put on a pair of cotton gloves, went over to my next door neighbor and handed the book to him. I had told him earlier that I had written a number of studies of military actions and he was interested. I said I had hurt my hand and could he autograph the book?

RTC: Gregory,that was a terrible thing to do. Now someone has your neighbor’s fingerprints and handwriting in a file somewhere. What a wicked thing to do.

GD: Ain’t I awful, Robert? And I told my collector friend about all the lovely aerial pictures I had. I was going to get a Russian publisher to do a book called, “The World from the Air.”

RTC: Jesus Christ…

GD: Oh and I said they were Cosmic pictures. From Top Secret/Cosmic of course.

RTC: And I suppose he told his new friend and consternation ensued in Washington.

GD: I said I was meeting a Russian publisher’s rep in ‘Frisco down at his office on Green Street.

RTC: That’s the Russian consulate. That’s a KGB center, Gregory.

GD: No, don’t disillusion me.

RTC: That is really wicked. You never saw any side-angle satellites pictures, never had any secret pictures, had no Russian publisher but just imagine the furor.

GD: Kept me warm at night for months, Robert. Abenheim later told someone that I was pure evil and should never be talked to. He wasn’t specific but my friend thought he might have an involuntary bowel movement at any time.

RTC: I said several times you would make a great agent, Gregory.

GD: Whatever makes you think I’m not, Robert?

RTC: On that depressing note, I’ll let you go. We’re supposed to go shopping and let’s do this again. You’re better than television, Gregory.

GD: And a lot more accurate, Robert.


(Concluded at 10:32 AM CST)






Google upgrades warnings to alert users to when Big Brother is watching

March 27, 2016


Google will display a full-page warning if state-backed attackers attempt to access a user’s Gmail account or computer, the company announced. The move comes after Google backed Apple in fighting the FBI’s effort to force it to crack a terrorist’s iPhone.

Google has enhanced the visibility of its state-sponsored attack warning, expanding it to cover the whole page.

“Today, we’re launching a new, full-page warning with instructions about how these users can stay safe. They may see these new warnings instead of, or in addition to, the existing ones,” Nicolas Lidzborski, Gmail Security Engineering Lead, and Jonathan Pevarnek, Jigsaw Engineer, wrote on the official Google security blog on Thursday.

Google users had previously received only a one-line warning, which appeared on a bar at the top of the Gmail page, reading: “We believe state-sponsored attackers may be attempting to compromise your account or computer

Activists, journalists, and policy-makers are most likely to fall prey to government-initiated cyber-attacks, but only 0.1 percent of Gmail users become victims of such attempts, according to the company’s assessment.

Last month, Google started notifying Gmail users if a message they send or receive is unencrypted, meaning they could be intercepted by third parties relatively easily. A broken red lock icon will appear next to an email address if a message is not encrypted, and a question mark instead of a profile photo if it cannot be authenticated. The novelty has increased the number of encrypted emails by 25 percent, according to the company.

In explaining the reason for its enhanced warnings, Google cited several high-profile computer security scandals, including Edward Snowden’s revelations and the current showdown between Apple and the FBI. The federal law enforcement agency has been waging a legal war on Apple in an attempt to coerce the tech giant into unlocking a cellphone that had belonged to Syed Rizwan Farook, one of the attackers in last December’s San Bernardino shooting, which claimed the lives of 16 people.

Google’s CEO, Sundar Pinchai, has backed Apple’s approach to user privacy, tweeting out a string of posts in which he called the FBI’s request a “troubling precedent” and warned that complying could “compromise user privacy.”

“For many of us, the iPhone is an extension of ourselves,” said Apple CEO Tim Cook at the company’s latest launch event. “We did not expect to be in this position, at odds with our own government. But we have a responsibility to help you protect your data and protect your privacy. We owe it to our customers and we owe it to our country,” he added.

Last month, a US magistrate court ordered Apple to provide “reasonable technical assistance” by creating a custom version of its operating system and installing it on the mass shooter’s iPhone so that the FBI can unlock it. Apple has refused to fulfill that request, however. The next round of proceedings, which was scheduled for March 22, was postponed after prosecutors revealed that a “non-governmental third party” had found a way to hack into the phone. Israeli media reported that the unnamed helper was likely an Israeli mobile forensic software company called Cellebrite.



‘Burner phones’ may require verifiable ID if California bill passes

March 26, 2016


Burner phones, beloved by criminals and TV writers everywhere, could be a thing of the past if a new bill by California lawmakers passes.

The proposed law would require prepaid phone customers to register their personal details before purchasing a burner phone or SIM card.

The Closing of Prepaid Mobile Device Security Gap bill, introduced by Jonestown massacre survivor State Rep Jackie Speier, could make it harder for those hoping to communicate anonymously.

Retailers would be required to verify those details at purchase and keep a record of the details gathered.

Despite hysteria surrounding encryption and its role in terrorism, the Paris attackers used prepaid phones to communicate rather than encryption.

“This bill would close one of the most significant gaps in our ability to track and prevent acts of terror, drug trafficking, and modern-day slavery,” Speier said.

Terrorists and others wishing not to be tracked often use multiple burner phones, with some only using the phone once before moving on to another.

While the bill wouldn’t prevent customers from using fake or stolen identification to buy the phones, it would make things more complicated for terrorists who are currently able to buy prepaid phones in bulk.

The bill is the latest in efforts by politicians to crack down on technology that doesn’t allow easy government access.

Earlier in the year, lawmakers in California and New York sought to ban the sale of phones that have full encryption.


Key Tracking Words for your Domestic Spies

by Harry von Johnston, PhD

Here we have hundreds of words to avoid using online if you don’t want the government spying on you (and they include ‘pork’, ‘cloud’ and ‘Mexico’)

Department of Homeland Security has been forced to release this list following a Freedom of Information request

Agency insists it only looks for evidence of genuine threats to the U.S. and not for signs of general dissent

They point out that it includes ‘vast amounts of First Amendment protected speech that is entirely unrelated to the Department of Homeland Security mission to protect the public against terrorism and disasters

= Complete list of DHS monitoring keywords =

Department of Homeland Security (DHS),Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA),Coast Guard (USCG),Customs and Border Protection (CBP),Border Patrol, Secret Service (USSS),National Operations Center (NOC), Homeland Defense, Immigration Customs Enforcement (ICE), Agent, Task Force, Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), Fusion Center, Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA),Secure Border Initiative (SBI),Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms (ATF), U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (CIS),Federal Air Marshal Service (FAMS),Transportation Security Administration (TSA),Air Marshal, Federal Aviation Administration (FAA),National Guard, Red Cross, United Nations (UN),Assassination, Attack, Domestic security, Drill, Exercise, Cops, Law enforcement, Authorities, Disaster assistance, Disaster management, DNDO (Domestic Nuclear Detection Office), National preparedness, Mitigation, Prevention,

Response, Recovery, Dirty bomb, Domestic nuclear detection, Emergency management,

Emergency response, First responder, Homeland security, Maritime domain awareness (MDA), National preparedness initiative, Militia Shooting, Shots fired, Evacuation, Deaths, Hostage, Explosion (explosive),Police, Disaster medical assistance team,(DMAT), Organized crime, Gangs, National security ,State of emergency, Security, Breach, Threat, Standoff, SWAT, Screening ,Lockdown, Bomb (squad or threat),Crash, Looting ,Riot, Emergency, Landing ,Pipe bomb, Incident, Facility, Hazmat, Nuclear, Chemical spill, Suspicious package/device Toxic, National laboratory, Nuclear facility, Nuclear threat, Cloud, Plume, Radiation, Radioactive, Leak, Biological infection (or event),Chemical, Chemical burn, Biological, Epidemic, Hazardous ,Hazardous material incident, Industrial spill, Infection, Powder (white),Gas, Spillover, Anthrax, Blister agent, Chemical agent, Exposure, Burn, Nerve agent, Ricin, Sarin, North Korea, PRC, Outbreak, Contamination, Exposure, Virus, Evacuation, Bacteria, Recall, Ebola, Food Poisoning, Foot and Mouth (FMD), H5N1, Avian, Flu, Salmonella, Small Pox, Human to human, Human to Animal, Influenza, Center for Disease Control (CDC),Drug Administration (FDA), Public Health, Toxic Agro, Terror Tuberculosis (TB), Agriculture, Listeria, Symptoms, Mutation, Resistant, Antiviral, Wave, Pandemic, Infection, Water/air borne, Sick, Swine, Pork, Strain, Quarantine, H1N1, Vaccine, Tamiflu, Norvo Virus, Epidemic, World Health Organization (WHO) (and components), Viral Hemorrhagic Fever, E. Coli, Infrastructure security, Airport, CIKR (Critical Infrastructure & Key Resources), AMTRAK, Collapse, Computer infrastructure, Deep Internet, drones, Communications infrastructure, Telecommunications, Critical infrastructure, National infrastructure, Metro, WMATA, Airplane (and derivatives), Chemical fire, Subway, BART, MARTA, Port Authority,

NBIC (National Biosurveillance Integration Center), Transportation security,

Grid, Power, Smart, Body scanner, Electric, Failure or outage, Black out, Brown out, Port, Dock, Bridge, Cancelled, Delays, Service disruption, Power lines, Drug cartel, Violence,

Gang, Drug, Narcotics, Cocaine, Marijuana, Heroin, Border, Mexico, Cartel, Southwest,

Juarez, Sinaloa, Tijuana, Torreon, Yuma, Tucson, Decapitated, U.S. Consulate, Consular,

El Paso, Fort Hancock, Fort Huachuca, San Diego, Ciudad Juarez, Nogales, Sonora,

Colombia, Mara salvatrucha, MS13 or MS-13, Drug war, Mexican army, Methamphetamine, Cartel de Golfo, Gulf Cartel, La Familia, Reynosa, Nuevo Leon,

Narcos, Narco banners (Spanish equivalents), Los Zetas, Shootout, Execution, Gunfight, Trafficking, Kidnap, Calderon, Reyosa, Bust, Tamaulipas, Meth Lab, Drug trade,

Illegal immigrants, Smuggling (smugglers),Matamoros, Michoacana, Guzman,

Arellano-Felix, Beltran-Leyva, Barrio Azteca, Artistic Assassins, Mexicles, New Federation,

Terrorism, Al Qaeda (all spellings), Terror, Attack, Iraq, Afghanistan, Iran, Pakistan,

Agro, Environmental terrorist, Eco terrorism, Conventional weapon, Target, Weapons grade, Dirty bomb, Enriched, Nuclear, Chemical weapon, Biological weapon, Ammonium nitrate, Improvised explosive device, IED (Improvised Explosive Device), Abu Sayyaf, Hamas, FARC (Armed Revolutionary Forces Colombia), IRA (Irish Republican Army), ETA (Euskadi ta Askatasuna), Basque Separatists, Hezbollah, Tamil Tigers, PLF (Palestine Liberation Front), PLO (Palestine Liberation Organization, MOSSAD, Shin-Bet, Israel, SVR, Vladimir Putin, Russia, Crimea, Kiev, Scottish Liberation Movement, Gaza, Iran, Tehran, Car bomb, Stuxtnet, AIPAC, ADL, Wiesenthal, Saudia Arabia, 911, Jihad, Taliban, Weapons cache, Suicide bomber, Suicide attack, AQAP (AL Qaeda Arabian Peninsula), AQIM (Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb), TTP (Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan), Yemen, Pirates, Extremism, Somalia, Nigeria, Radicals, Al-Shabaab, Home grown, Plot, Nationalist, Recruitment, Fundamentalism, Islamist, Emergency, Hurricane, Tornado, Twister, Tsunami, Earthquake, Tremor, Flood, Storm, Crest, Temblor, Extreme weather, Forest fire, Brush fire, Ice, Stranded/Stuck, Help, Hail, Wildfire, Tsunami Warning Center, Magnitude, Avalanche, Typhoon, Shelter-in-place, Disaster, Snow, Blizzard, Sleet, Mud slide or Mudslide, Erosion, Power outage, Brown out, Warning, Watch, Lightening, Aid, Relief, Closure,Interstate, Burst, Broadcast System, Cyber security, Botnet, DDOS (dedicated denial of service), Denial of service, Malware, Virus, Trojan, Keylogger, Cyber Command, 2600, Spammer, Phishing, Rootkit, Phreaking, Cain and abel, Brute forcing, Mysql injection, Cyber attack, Cyber terror, Hacker ,China, Conficker Worm, Scammers, Social media


American, Muslim, and under constant watch: the emotional toll of surveillance

The visits to Ahsan Samad’s home by NYPD officers and then FBI agents have left him traumatized – but advocates say his story echoes that of many others

March 27, 2016

by Rose Hackman

The Guardian

Ahsan Samad sits on the sofa in the living room of his small family home in Brooklyn, New York. The 30-year-old plumber leans forward and carefully pours the coffee his mother has just brought in from the kitchen. His young niece and nephew are playing in a nearby room.

“I know I have done nothing wrong. I am constantly thinking about it. Their visits made me terrified.”

Samad looks up, bewildered and confused. He is trying to lay out the complexity of the mental hell the past four and a half years have been for him.

Samad is an American citizen with no criminal record – no arrests, no felonies. But in the shifting eyes of the American law, he is something worthy of seeming extra attention. Samad is not just American – he is also Muslim.

Over the course of more than four years between September 2011 and 2015, he received at least five visits to his home by NYPD and then FBI officers. He says the visiting officers came with no warrant and used threatening and provocative language. During a visit in September 2011, they even forced themselves inside his home.

Law enforcement agents presenting themselves to his residence were repeatedly and systematically told by him and his petrified family members to arrange for interviews in the presence of lawyers (who later followed up with agencies) – something law enforcement officials repeatedly declined to do.

Followups by Samad’s lawyers – members of a free legal clinic named Clear, which is operated by the law school at City University of New York – have not revealed the existence of any kind of formal investigation tied to Samad and his family.

Instead, the visits appear to be part of a larger tactic by law enforcement in the wide New York area, keeping tabs on members of the Muslim community online and offline, using a variety of implicit and explicit intimidating tactics.

The visits and threatening language have left Samad traumatized, verging on depression and deeply worried for his future.

This week, following the tragic and deadly attacks in Brussels that killed 31 people and wounded 250 people, Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz called for the US to “empower law enforcement to patrol and secure Muslim neighborhoods before they become radicalized”.

As an example for the rest of the country to follow, the senator pointed to New York, where the police department launched a “demographics unit” after the 9/11 attacks. The at-first secret unit, which was brought to public light by a Pulitzer-winning series of investigations by the AP in 2011, was an effective domestic spying operation that sought to map out the residential, social and business landscape of American Muslims living in New York and the surrounding New Jersey area.

Crucially, according to the commanding officer of the NYPD’s own Intelligence Division who arrived in 2006 and testified in court on the matter in 2012, the unit’s activities led to no leads or terrorist investigations whatsoever. In other words, the program was seemingly ineffective.

Since the unit’s existence was revealed, its practices have been the basis for multiple civil rights lawsuits. Of note is the Raza v City of New York case, which was settled this January having succeeded in a number of significant changes and limitations in mass surveillance practices.

The suit claimed that since 2002, the NYPD had engaged in the unlawful policy and practice of religious profiling and suspicionless, blanket surveillance, dedicating itself to the “total surveillance of Muslims” in the New York area. This resulted in the violation of constitutional rights for equal protection and the right to freely exercise religion, the successful lawsuit asserted.

While the demographics unit was officially disbanded in 2014, its findings are still used, critics say, and its foundational principles and methodologies are still utilized and dispensed.

The episode Samad remembers most vividly was the second visit, which dates to late September 2011. During that visit, two officers who he says refused to fully identify themselves stormed his house under false claims that a child had called 911 (there was no child in the house at the time).

The two officers then admitted they were there to speak to the plumber. When Samad informed the two he would speak to them, but only with the presence of his lawyers – the Clear pro-bono lawyers he had managed to find through word of mouth – what came back was vastly intimidating.

“They told me they were watching me. They were watching my every move. They knew every contact in my cell phone and every message I sent. They said that I would come to regret this and that they were going to take me down.”

The following year, while seeking to return home from a visit to see a friend in Canada, Samad was informed he had been placed on a no-fly list, on which he stayed until early this year.

Ramzi Kassem, a law professor at CUNY who was the founding director of Clear, says that placement on the no-fly list was most likely done in retaliation for Samad not willingly speaking to officers without lawyers. Kassem has seen this happen in other cases, he says, when placement on no-fly lists was a retaliatory tactic used by law enforcement after approached members of the Muslim community had refused to become informants.

Through correspondence with the NYPD, lawyers at Clear managed to obtain information that Samad had been targeted because of allegedly posting online an article written by a third-party in defense of moderate-turned-radical Islamic preacher Anwar al-Awlaki. Samad, who says he used the internet to learn more about his religion and describes himself as religious but not excessively, did not recall posting the article, but pointed out that many of the educational videos about Islam on YouTube were by al-Awlaki, with often tens of thousands, if not millions of views.

But Kassem (who did not confirm his client’s posting of the article) highlights that internet postings expressing an opinion are constitutionally protected activities, and that policing thought as a way of preventing or predicting violent action bases itself on unproven – potentially even disproven – “radicalization theories” used by law enforcement agencies, guidelines that are set to be taken down.

Living with the feeling of being watched and targeted took a huge toll on Samad’s everyday life and plans.

In 2012, he broke off a romantic attachment with a woman he had hoped to marry, deeming marriage and children impossible prospects under his current circumstances. “It is not fair to inflict this situation on anyone else,” he explains.

His mental state has been touch and go too. “The manly side of me doesn’t want to acknowledge depression, but then I must admit I have been feeling a bit of it,” he says.

Samad says he often worries when the bell rings. He never knows when the next visit will come.

“I was frightened of a mental breakdown. Luckily that hasn’t happened yet. But the tool of fear: it definitely works,” he says, adding he feels like he is being subjected to a form of “psychological warfare.”

As extraordinary as this may sound from the outside, for lawyers, scholars, advocates and Muslim community leaders and members, Samad’s story is relatively benign.

“These are common sub-judicial mechanisms often employed by law enforcement to coerce cooperation from members of the Muslim community to scrutinize and inform on their own,” says Omar Farah, a staff attorney at the Center for Constitutional Rights.

“These kinds of informal interactions – visits and seemingly casual meetings with people at their workplace or homes – are part of a larger pattern of intimidation,” Farah adds, saying such intimidation is part of a post-9/11 pattern of law enforcement excess and abuse on the Muslim community.

Rabia Ahsin, a New Yorker and 25-year-old graduate student at Columbia University, says that she grew up assuming she and fellow Muslim community members were being watched.

“In the beginning it felt like urban legends, but then everyone had stories or had heard stories. We knew about informants and undercovers well before the AP reports came out.”

Ahsin recalls being in high school with a Muslim girl who once posted a distasteful comment about bombs on social media. The next thing she knew, the police were banging at her door. “It was quite clearly a joke,” Ahsin says. “But she was Muslim, so they turned up at her door.”

She also remembers being warned off Palestinian solidarity activism at Brooklyn College as an undergraduate student. “People started telling me to be careful. They said that not all people saying they are Muslim are. People are watching, they said.”

In Ahsin’s case, she later found out that a woman at her college, who had publicly converted to Islam and been taken in by her circle, was indeed an undercover police officer.

She says the feeling of being watched has left her feeling she cannot safely have any kind of conversation about ideas or policies safely. Not even in the classroom, where such debates are encouraged.

For Samad, harassing visits have led him and his family to reconsider whether they should remain in the US, even if they are all American citizens.

“It feels like you are under attack all the time, but you can’t even turn to the authorities. They are the ones doing it. I know I am supposed to have rights as a citizen, but I think they have a different rulebook for people like me, for Muslim Americans.”


Neoconservativism in a Nutshell

by Jim Lobe

I’ve been asked to give a kind of Neoconservatism 101 over the next 15 minutes or so, which is a big challenge for me. It took seven hours to get through the subject with the Institute for American Studies in Beijing 12 years ago when Chinese analysts were first trying to fathom why the U.S. had been so stupid as to invade Iraq.So I’ll start by summing up.

If I were asked to boil down neoconservatism to its essential elements—that is, those that have remained consistent over the past nearly 50 years—I would cite the following:

◾a Manichean view of a world in which good and evil are constantly at war and the United States has an obligation to lead forces for good around the globe.

◾a belief in the moral exceptionalism of both the United States and Israel and the absolute moral necessity for the U.S. to defend Israel’s security.

◾a conviction that, in order to keep evil at bay, the United States must have—and be willing to exercise—the military power necessary to defeat any and all challengers. There’s a corollary: force is the only language that evil understands.

◾the 1930s—with Munich, appeasement, Chamberlain, Churchill—taught us everything we need to know about evil and how to fight it.

◾democracy is generally desirable, but it always depends on who wins.

The Emergence of Neoconservativsm

Although many of you have heard about its Trotskyite origins, the neoconservative movement as we know it today dates mainly from the 1960s. It was in that decade that you see the startling rise of Holocaust consciousness beginning with the Eichmann trial and the Oscar-winning movie Judgment at Nuremberg, both of which had a major impact not only on the Jewish community but on the general public here as well. These events were followed by the rise of the New Left, the Counter-Culture, and the anti-war and Black Power movements, as well as the 1967 Arab-Israeli war. All of these left a number of mainly—but by no means exclusively—Jewish public intellectuals and liberals feeling, in the words of Irving Kristol, “mugged by reality” in a way that launched them on a rightward trajectory.

That trajectory gained momentum in the early 1970s, when the anti-war candidate, George McGovern, won the Democratic nomination for president, and when Israel seemed to teeter briefly on the edge of defeat in the early stages of the 1973 war, which itself was immediately followed by the Arab oil embargo. Two years later, the UN General Assembly passed the “Zionism is Racism” resolution, and U.S. power globally seemed in retreat after the collapse of its clients in Vietnam and the rest of Indochina. These all created a context in which neo-conservatism gained serious political traction.

At this point, it may be useful to address an important ethno-religious issue. Neoconservatism has largely been a Jewish movement. By no means, however, are all neoconservatives Jewish. The late Jeane Kirkpatrick, former Education Secretary Bill Bennett, former CIA chief James Woolsey, and Catholic theologians Michael Novak and George Weigel are just a few examples of non-Jews who have played major roles in the movement.

That said, it’s true that most neoconservatives are Jewish and, increasingly, Republican. So it’s very important to stress that the very large majority of Jews in this country are neither neoconservative nor Republican—a source of considerable frustration to Jewish Republicans over the last 30 years. Recently, for example, The Wall Street Journal, whose editorial pages are probably the country’s most influential neoconservative media platform, ran an op-ed entitled “The Political Stupidity of the Jews Revisited,” in which the author bemoaned the persistent tendency of Jews to vote Democratic, and most recently for Obama.

The Core Features of Neoconservatism

Neoconservatism is much more of a worldview than a coherent political ideology. That worldview has been shaped by rather traumatic historic events, most notably the Nazi Holocaust and the events of the 1930s that led up to it. Of course, the Great Depression and pervasive anti-Semitism were important causes. But neoconservatives also stress three others: the failure of liberal institutions in the Weimar Republic to prevent the rise of Nazism in Germany, the appeasement of Hitler by the western European democracies and their failure to confront him militarily early on, and the “isolationism” practiced by the United States during this fateful period.

This assessment leads neoconservatives to believe that spineless liberals, military weakness, diplomatic appeasement, and American isolationism are ever-present threats that must be fought against at all costs. This is an integral part of their worldview, and you can often hear it in their polemics. For them, the importance of maintaining overwhelming military power—or what they call “peace through strength”—as well as constant American engagement, or unilateral intervention, if necessary, outside its borders cannot be overstated.

The latter point is particularly critical because neocons believe that, in the absence of a tangible threat to our national security, Americans naturally retreat into isolationism. As a result, they have engaged in a consistent pattern of threat-inflation—or fear-mongering—over the past 40 years, from Team B’s exaggeration of alleged Soviet preparations for nuclear war in the mid-1970s to the hyping of the various threats allegedly posed by Iraq, radical Islamists, and Iran after 9/11. Thus, Norman Podhoretz, one of the movement’s partriarchs, has argued that, just as we defeated Nazism in World War II and Communism in “World War III,” so must we now defeat “Islamofascism” in what he has called “World War IV.” For neocons, a new Hitler is always just around the corner, and we must be in a permanent state of mobilization against him.

But assuring American engagement and military dominance is not just a matter of protecting our national security. It is a moral imperative. In their Manichean world, neocons see the U.S. as the ultimate white hat. As Elliott Abrams, Podhoretz’s son-in-law and George W. Bush’s top Middle East aide, once put it: “[the United States is] the greatest force for good among the nations of the Earth.” This conviction helps explain Paul Wolfowitz’s call for what amounted to a unilateral “Pax Americana” in his famous 1992 Defense Policy Guidance. It helps explain Bob Kagan’s and Bill Kristol’s 1996 appeal to an increasingly anti-interventionist Republican Party to return to what they called a “Neo-Reaganite” policy of “benevolent global hegemony.” Their manifesto in turn set the stage for the Project for the New American Century whose associates did so much to coordinate the march to war in Iraq both from inside and outside the Bush administration after 9/11.

The Centrality of Israel

In my view and that of other veteran observers, such as Jacob Heilbrunn, the defense of Israel has been a central pillar of the neoconservative worldview from the outset. The fact that neoconservatism began as—and remains—a largely Jewish movement is one very relevant reason. But, like the U.S. itself, Israel is also seen as morally exceptional due in major part to the fact that its birth as an independent state was made possible by the terrible legacy of the Holocaust and the guilt it provoked, particularly in the West. Moreover, its depiction in the media since 1967 as both a staunch U.S. ally and a lonely outpost of democracy and Western civilization besieged by hostile, if not barbaric, neighbors has contributed to this notion of moral superiority. Of course, its most recent wars, its treatment of Palestinians, and the steadily rightward drift of its governments have made this image increasingly hard to sustain, not only in the West, but within the Jewish community here as well.

Although strong defenders of Israel, neoconservatives are not necessarily “Israel-Firsters.” They believe that both the U.S. and Israel are morally exceptional. That means that neither one should necessarily be bound by international norms or institutions, like the UN Security Council, that would constrain their ability to defend themselves or pre-empt threats as they see fit. It means that both should maintain overwhelming military power vis-à-vis any possible challengers. In the neoconservative view, the interests and values of the two countries are largely congruent, if not identical. As Bill Bennett once put it, “America’s fate and Israel’s fate are one and the same.”

But that doesn’t mean that neocons defer to whatever Israeli government is in power, as AIPAC tends to do. They have often had quite different priorities. Through the American Enterprise Institute, the Project for the New American Century, the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, to name a few groups, neocons very much led the public campaign for invading Iraq from virtually the moment the Twin Towers collapsed. But I don’t think Ariel Sharon—who considered Iran the greater threat—was all that enthusiastic about the idea. Similarly, many neocons were quite unhappy with Sharon’s withdrawal from Gaza and with his successors’ decisions to end wars against Hezbollah and Hamas over the past decade without achieving decisive military victories. Unlike AIPAC, neocons almost always think they know better.

This has changed somewhat since Netanyahu took power in 2009 and especially since the 2013 elections, which resulted in the most right-wing government in Israel’s history. Bibi has had a very close relationship with key neocons since the 1980s when he was based here as a diplomat in the U.S. and neoconservatives got their first real taste of power under Reagan. Their worldviews are very similar. Still, there have been differences. Although most neocons have been calling for regime change in Syria through covert or direct U.S. military action, Bibi has wanted the civil war there to go on and on for as long as possible. And although neocons, who have long viewed Moscow as a dangerous adversary, have urged a harder line against Russia over Crimea and Ukraine, Bibi has maintained a discreet silence and enjoys a business-like, if not cordial, relationship with Putin.

So, Manicheanism, moral exceptionalism, a benevolent Pax Americana backed up by huge military budgets, Israel’s security—these are all central to the neoconservative worldview.

It’s often said that neocons are Wilsonians devoted to the spread of democracy and liberal values. I think this is way overplayed. I agree with Zbigniew Brzezinski who has sometimes observed that when neoconservatives talk about democratization, they usually mean destabilization.

Some neocons, notably Bob Kagan, are indeed sincerely committed to democracy promotion and human rights. But his is a minority view, as demonstrated most recently in the case of Egypt where, like Netanyahu, most influential neocons greatly appreciate President Sisi and want Washington to do more to help him. And, like Bibi, most neocons think a de facto alliance between Israel and the region’s Sunni autocrats who have led the counter-revolution against the Arab Spring, would be the cat’s pajamas. Indeed, most neocons have historically always had a soft spot for what they used to call “friendly authoritarians.” And when was the last time you heard neoconservatives advocate for full human rights for Palestinians, let alone their right to national self-determination, unless it is to be exercised in what is now Jordan? In any event, their record over the past 40 years suggests that their devotion to democracy depends entirely on the circumstances.

Leaders and Coalitions

Two final notes about neocons. First, this is a movement with no single recognized leader or politburo. Yes, they work together quite closely and coordinate their messaging to create very effective echo chambers. But they also often have differences of opinion over tactics and sometimes over real substance. Some neocons, like Frank Gaffney (a top Ted Cruz adviser) and Daniel Pipes, actively promote Islamophobia, for example, while others, such as Kagan and Reuel Gerecht, disdain it. There are soft neocons like David Brooks of The New York Times and hard neocons like Bret Stephens at The Wall Street Journal. In other words, the movement is not monolithic, except in the core elements I outlined above.

Second, neocons have been admirably nimble in creating tactical alliances with very different political forces to achieve their ends. In the mid-1970s, they worked with aggressive nationalists like Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld to derail Kissinger’s efforts at détente with Moscow. Under Jimmy Carter, they brought the Christian Right, despite the clear anti-Semitism of some of its leaders, into that coalition. (As Irving Kristol explained: “it’s their theology, but it’s our Israel.”) That broader coalition helped propel Reagan to victory in 1980.

Then, alienated by George H.W. Bush’s pressure on Israel to halt settlement activity and enter into serious peace talks after the Gulf War, many neocons opted for Clinton—and, by the mid-1990s, allied with liberal internationalists in pressing him to intervene in the Balkans over Republican opposition. By 2000, however, they had reconstituted the old Reagan coalition of aggressive nationalists and the Christian Right, and, after 9/11, they led the charge, along with Rumsfeld and Cheney, into Iraq.Less than a decade later, however, they were back with the liberal interventionists on Libya and Syria. And now some of them, like Kagan and Max Boot, are warning they may back Hillary this year, especially if Trump—whose comments about the Iraq war and even-handedness between Israel and the Palestinians have made them very uneasy, if not outright hostile—gets the Republican nomination.

Indeed, it’s quite possible that we may see something similar this year to what happened nearly a quarter century ago when the neocons ditched Bush in favor of Bill in hopes of sustaining global interventionism and Israel.



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