TBR News October 23, 2016

Oct 23 2016

A Compendium of Various Official Lies, Business Scandals, Small Murders, Frauds, and Other Gross Defects of Our Current Political, Business and Religious Moral Lepers.

“When a government is dependent upon bankers for money, they and not the leaders of the government control the situation, since the hand that gives is above the hand that takes… Money has no motherland; financiers are without patriotism and without decency; their sole object is gain.”- Napoleon Bonaparte, 1815


“Corrupted by wealth and power, your government is like a restaurant with only one dish. They’ve got a set of Republican waiters on one side and a set of Democratic waiters on the other side. But no matter which set of waiters brings you the dish, the legislative grub is all prepared in the same Wall Street kitchen”. – Huey Long


“I fired [General MacArthur] because he wouldn’t respect the authority of the President. That’s the answer to that. I didn’t fire him because he was a dumb son of a bitch, although he was, but that’s not against the law for generals. If it was, half to three-quarters of them would be in jail “- Harry S Truman


“When the people fear their government, there is tyranny; when the government fears the people, there is liberty.” -Thomas Jefferson.


“Democracy is the art of running the circus from the monkey cage”

– H.L. Mencken


 “For a quarter of a century the CIA has been repeatedly wrong about every major political and economic question entrusted to its analysis.” 

-Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan

The New York Times, 1991.


Don’t tell a lie! Some men I’ve known
Commit the most appalling acts,
Because they happen to be prone
To an economy of facts;
And if to lie is bad, no doubt
’Tis even worse to get found out!


My children, never, never steal!
To know their offspring is a thief
Will often make a father feel
Annoyed and cause a mother grief;
So never steal, but, when you do,
Be sure there’s no one watching you.


The Wicked flourish like the bay,
At Cards or Love they always win,
Good Fortune dogs their steps all day,
They fatten while the Good grow thin.
The Righteous Man has much to bear;

   The Bad becomes a Bullionaire!


The Voice of the White House

Washington, D.C.  October 23, 2016:” For the last several weeks, I have been helping a friend of mine interview job candidates for one of his new businesses.

Very high-paying jobs they were.

We advertised and got a healthy response.

I did the interviewing and I at once noticed a large number of graduates from totally unknown “universities” and most with a BA.

I consider a BA to be as useless as tits on a boar pig.

There are four public universities in this country which are very respectable.

One is the University of Virginia at Charlottesville, another is the University of Wisconsin at Madison, a third is the University of Oregon at Eugene and finally, the University of California at Berkeley.

Two applicants were from Charlottesville and I hired them both on the spot.

The rest had graduated from the University of Alviso, California or the University of Bad Seepage, Kansas.

These are humped-up former teacher’s colleges or self-elevated Jesus Freak academies and their graduates haven’t read anything more intellectual than TIME magazine and can barely spell their names.

Most of the interviewees could, and did while I was interviewing them, text message.

These diploma mills are nothing but a colossal rip off, what with for-profit “student loans” and all of the hopefuls I looked at had “temporary jobs” washing dishes in mental hospitals, stocking local supermarket shelves or sweeping sidewalks in front of gay bars.

The tragedy is that every year these diploma mills grind out ever more proud holders of utterly useless BAs.

Eventually, they will take to wearing cast off clothing stolen from Goodwill bins and sleeping in dank corners of local parks. If it rains or snows, they can always sleep inside the Goodwill bins.

The educational system in this country is worse than the ones in Darfur or Mexico.”

#Podesta16: WikiLeaks releases fresh batch of emails from Clinton campaign chair

October 23, 2016


The whistleblowing website WikiLeaks has released a new tranche of emails from the hacked account of Hillary Clinton’s campaign chair, John Podesta.

The organization had already released more than 26,000 emails by Saturday in a series of 15 consecutive daily releases.

The leaks have offered extraordinary insight into the operations of Clinton’s campaign team, revealing details about Clinton’s Wall Street speeches, ‘pay for play’discussions, Hillary’s “Achilles heel”, and addressing her server scandal through jokes.

Sunday’s release brings the total number of emails leaked online by WikiLeaks to 26,803.

Prominent members of the Clinton campaign team have accused RT of direct involvement in the email hack due to its swift reporting on the WikiLeaks releases, despite the emails being publicly available through the WikiLeaks website.

WikiLeaks has been releasing the Podesta emails at around the same time every day for over a fortnight.

Rubio’s ‘coordination’ with Citadel CEO

An email thread from October 29, 2015 reveals the Clinton’s campaign ‘intel’ at work. Chicago based attorney William Mahoney emailed Podesta informing him of an encounter he witnessed between Republican candidate Marco Rubio and Citadel CEO and founder Kenneth Griffin.

“Interesting sighting at our residence in Chicago. Walking in lobby from dinner. Marco Rubio leaving, escorted by Ken Griffin from Citadel – Griffin had small event for him at residence. Super pac money to follow – Thought you should know,” Mahoney wrote.

Podesta replied, “Wow! great intel”, and forwarded the message to Tony Carrk, Clinton’s research director, who commented that the meeting “smells like coordination”.

“So the guy bankrolling the new super PAC that has an ad using her Benghazi testimony is talking with the candidate who is attacking us on Benghazi,” Carrk added.

Hedge fund manager Griffin has been named as one of the financial backers of the Future 45 organization which supports Donald Trump’s presidential run. Future 45 produced the aforementioned video criticizing Clinton over the Benghazi attack in which four US citizens, including Ambassador Chris Stevens, were killed.


Google’s ad tracking is as creepy as Facebook’s. Here’s how to disable it

Google in June deleted a clause in its privacy settings that said it would not combine cookie information with personal information without consent

October 21, 2016

by Oliva Solon The Guardian

San Francisco-Since Google changed the way it tracks its users across the internet in June 2016, users’ personally identifiable information from Gmail, YouTube and other accounts has been merged with their browsing records from across the web.

An analysis of the changes conducted by Propublica details how the company had previously pledged to keep these two data sets separate to protect individuals’ privacy, but updated its privacy settings in June to delete a clause that said “we will not combine DoubleClick cookie information with personally identifiable information unless we have your opt-in consent”.

ProPublica highlights that when Google first made the changes in June, they received little scrutiny. Media reports focused on the tools the company introduced to allow users to view and manage ad tracking rather than the new powers Google gained.

DoubleClick is an advertising serving and tracking company that Google bought in 2007. DoubleClick uses web cookies to track browsing behaviour online by their IP address to deliver targeted ads. It can make a good guess about your location and habits, but it doesn’t know your true identity.

Google, on the other hand, has users’ (mostly) real names, email accounts and search data.

At the time of the acquisition, a number of consumer groups made a complaint to the Federal Trade Commission arguing that bringing these data sets together would represent a huge invasion of privacy, giving the company access to more information about the internet activities of consumers than any other company in the world.

Sergey Brin reassured privacy campaigners, saying: “Overall, we care very much about end-user privacy, and that will take a number one priority when we talk about advertising products.”

In 2012, Google made a controversial update to its privacy policy to allow it to share data about users between different Google services, but it kept DoubleClick separate.

In practice, this means that Google can now, if it wanted to, build up even richer profiles of named individuals’ online activity. It also means that the DoubleClick ads that follow people on the web could be personalized based on the keywords that individuals use in Gmail.

Google isn’t the first company to track individuals in this way. Facebook has been tracking logged-in users (and even non-users) by name across the internet whenever they visit websites with Facebook “like” or “share” buttons.

Google says that the change is optional and is aimed at giving people better control over their data.

“Google is actually quite late to this game. By now, most of the websites you visit are already sharing your activity with a wide network of third parties who share, collaborate, link and de-link personal information in order to target ads,” said Jules Polonetsky from Future of Privacy Forum.

“Some users may appreciate relevant advertising, many others may not. What’s critical is that there are easy ways for those who want to avoid the more robust types of data targeting to be able to take easy steps to do so.”

Technology companies argue that such tracking allows them to deliver much more targeted, relevant advertising across the internet. Paul Ohm from the Center of Privacy and Technology at Georgetown law school told Propublica that the fact that Google kept personally identifiable information and DoubleClick data separate was “a really significant last stand”.

“It was a border wall between being watched everywhere and maintaining a tiny semblance of privacy. That wall has just fallen.”

A Google spokeswoman said that its advertising system had been designed before the smartphone revolution, and that the update in June made it easier for users to control their ad preferences across multiple devices.

The company says that more than one billion Google users have accessed the ‘My Account’ settings that let them control how their data is used.

“Before we launched this update, we tested it around the world with the goal of understanding how to provide users with clear choice and transparency,” Google said. “As a result, it is 100% optional – if users do not opt-in to these changes, their Google experience will remain unchanged. Equally important: we provided prominent user notifications about this change in easy-to-understand language as well as simple tools that let users control or delete their data.”

Users that don’t want to be tracked in this way can visit the activity controls section of their account page on Google, unticking the box marked “Include Chrome browsing history and activity from websites and apps that use Google services”.

Private Eyes

The Little-Known Company That Enables Worldwide Mass Surveillance

October 23, 2016

by Ryan Gallagher and Nicky Hager

The Intercept

It was a powerful piece of technology created for an important customer. The Medusa system, named after the mythical Greek monster with snakes instead of hair, had one main purpose: to vacuum up vast quantities of internet data at an astonishing speed.

The technology was designed by Endace, a little-known New Zealand company. And the important customer was the British electronic eavesdropping agency, Government Communications Headquarters, or GCHQ.

Dozens of internal documents and emails from Endace, obtained by The Intercept and reported in cooperation with Television New Zealand, reveal the firm’s key role helping governments across the world harvest vast amounts of information on people’s private emails, online chats, social media conversations, and internet browsing histories.

The leaked files, which were provided by a source through SecureDrop, show that Endace listed a Moroccan security agency implicated in torture as one of its customers. They also indicate that the company sold its surveillance gear to more than half a dozen other government agencies, including in the United States, Israel, Denmark, Australia, Canada, Spain, and India.

Some of Endace’s largest sales in recent years, however, were to the United Kingdom’s GCHQ, which purchased a variety of “data acquisition” systems and “probes” that it used to covertly monitor internet traffic.

Documents from the National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden, previously disclosed by The Intercept, have shown how GCHQ dramatically expanded its online surveillance between 2009 and 2012. The newly obtained Endace documents add to those revelations, shining light for the first time on the vital role played by the private sector in enabling the spying.

Stuart Wilson, Endace’s CEO, declined to answer questions for this story. Wilson said in a statement that Endace’s technology “generates significant export revenue for New Zealand and builds important technical capability for our country.” He added: “Our commercial technology is used by customers worldwide … who rely on network recording to protect their critical infrastructure and data from cybercriminals, terrorists, and state-sponsored cybersecurity threats.”

Endace says it manufactures technology that allows its clients to “monitor, intercept and capture 100% of traffic on networks.” The Auckland-based company’s motto is “power to see all” and its logo is an eye.

The company’s origins can be traced back to Waikato University in Hamilton, New Zealand. There, in 1994, a team of professors and researchers began developing network monitoring technology using university resources. A central aim of the project was to find ways to measure different kinds of data on the internet, which was at that time only just beginning to take off. Within a few years, the academics’ efforts proved successful; they had managed to invent pioneering network monitoring tools. By 2001, the group behind the research started commercializing the technology — and Endace was formed.

Today, Endace presents itself publicly as focused on providing technology that helps companies and governments keep their networks secure. But in the past decade, it has quietly entered into a burgeoning global spy industry that is worth in excess of an estimated $5 billion annually.

In 2007, Endace representatives promoted their technology at a huge surveillance technology trade show in Dubai that was attended by dozens of government agencies from across the world. Endace’s advertising brochures from the show, which described the company’s products and promoted the need for greater state surveillance, were published by WikiLeaks in 2013.

One Endace brochure explained how the company’s technology could help clients “monitor all network traffic inexpensively.” It noted that telecommunications networks carry many types of information: Skype calls, videos, emails, and instant message chats. “These networks provide rich intelligence for law enforcement,” the brochure stated, “IF they can be accessed securely and with high precision.”

The United Kingdom’s geographic location — situated between North America, mainland Europe, and the Middle East — made it a good market for Endace.

Many major international undersea data cables cross British territory, and according to top-secret documents from Snowden, as much as 25 percent of all the world’s internet traffic flows through the U.K. The country’s spies have worked to exploit this, with GCHQ tapping into as many of the cables as it can, sifting through huge volumes of emails, instant messages, social media interactions, and web browsing records as they are being transmitted across the internet.

As of 2009, GCHQ’s surveillance of undersea cables was well underway. The agency was measuring the amount of traffic it monitored in tens of gigabits per second (10Gs) — the equivalent in data of about 1 million average-sized emails every minute. The electronic eavesdropping agency was tapping into 87 different 10Gs capacity cables and funneling the collected data into its processing systems for analysis.

By March 2011, GCHQ’s aim was to tap into 415 of the 10Gs cables, and its longer-term goal was to “grow our internet access to 800 10Gs.” The agency wanted to build what it described as the largest covert surveillance apparatus in the world. And in an effort to fulfill that plan, it turned to Endace’s technology.

Leaked documents and emails from Endace, obtained by The Intercept, lay out a series of deals the company made with GCHQ to help it broaden its mass surveillance capabilities. A confidential February 2010 Endace statement of work for GCHQ, for instance, outlined a £245,000 ($299,500) deal to upgrade “monitoring solutions” for the British agency that were designed to intercept large amounts of internet traffic and send it into “memory holes” — repositories used to store the data.

Between November 2010 and March 2011, GCHQ purchased more technology from Endace, including specialized surveillance technology built for “FGA only,” a code name the company often uses in its internal documents to refer to GCHQ; it stands for “friendly government agency.”

A November 2010 company document said that “FGA” had an order of 20 systems scheduled for delivery in March 2011. Each system was equipped with two “data acquisition” cards capable of intercepting 20Gs of internet traffic. The total capacity of the order would enable GCHQ to monitor a massive amount of data — the equivalent of being able to download 3,750 high-definition movies every minute, or 2.5 billion average-sized emails an hour.

Endace added in the document that “a potential for 300-500 systems over the next two to three years is being discussed” and noted that it was soon anticipating another order of “30-40 additional systems.” Indeed, the following month a new $167,940 purchase order for 27 more systems arrived, and the items were swiftly dispatched for delivery to GCHQ’s headquarters in Cheltenham, England.

The records of the Endace sales are confirmed by internal GCHQ documents, provided by Snowden, which describe the company’s data capture devices being used as part of mass surveillance programs. GCHQ documents from 2010 and 2011 repeatedly mention the Endace products while discussing the capture of “internet-derived” data to extract information about people’s usage of services such as Gmail, Hotmail, WhatsApp, and Facebook.

GCHQ declined to comment for this story.

Throughout the summer of 2011, at Endace’s offices in Auckland, New Zealand, the orders from GCHQ were continuing to flow in. Meanwhile, the company’s engineers were busy turning their sights to new technology that could vastly increase surveillance capability. Endace was developing a powerful new product for GCHQ called Medusa: interception equipment that could capture internet traffic at up to 100 gigabits per second.

Medusa was first logged in Endace’s sales systems in September 2011. Endace staff produced weekly status reports about their progress and updated GCHQ at biweekly review meetings. By November 18, 2011, the first version of Medusa arrived at GCHQ. “FGA are very pleased with the prototypes we delivered last week,” Endace noted.

Apparently after testing the Medusa prototype, GCHQ requested some refinements. One feature the agency wanted was called “Separate MAC insertion by IP type.” This suggests the British agency may have sought the ability to target individuals by searching internet traffic for the built-in hardware address of their computers, routers, or phones.

Notably, the Medusa status reports reveal that Endace was using taxpayers’ money to develop the new equipment for GCHQ. They state that the Medusa system was being built for “FGA” with funding from the Foundation of Research Science and Technology, the body that handed out New Zealand government research grants.

In 2010, Endace received two grants totaling $11.1 million. A public announcement for the first grant — issued in July 2010 — said the funding was for “50% of the cost of a series of substantial product developments over the next two years,” but did not say what the products were nor who they were for.

A New Zealand government spokesperson told The Intercept that he could not immediately give a “definitive” answer on whether the funding body had known Endace would use the grants to develop surveillance technology for GCHQ, but said it was “highly unlikely Endace would have provided that information, as they were under no obligation to do so.”

Endace has never publicly disclosed any of its work with GCHQ, likely because it is subject to strict confidentiality agreements. In one contract obtained by The Intercept, GCHQ states that Endace staff are bound to the U.K.’s Official Secrets Act, a sweeping law that can be used to prosecute and imprison people who disclose classified information. GCHQ warned Endace that it must not “make any press announcements or publicize the contract or any part thereof in any way.”

Endace’s leaked client lists show three main categories of customers: governments, telecommunications companies, and finance companies.

The government clients appear to be mostly intelligence agencies. A 2008 Endace customer list included: GCHQ; the Canadian and Australian defense departments (where their electronic spy agencies are located); a U.S. government contractor called Rep-Tron Systems Group, located in Baltimore, Maryland; and Morocco’s domestic surveillance agency, the DGST.

Other Endace customer lists contained in the leaked trove include the U.S. Army and the U.S. Navy’s Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command, called SPAWAR; the Israeli Ministry of Defense (home of its Unit 8200 electronic spy agency); the government of India, the Spanish Ministry of Defense; and Denmark’s Defense Intelligence Service.

Endace’s apparent dealings with the Moroccan agency, the DGST, are particularly controversial. Moroccan authorities have been persistently accused over more than five decades of committing a range of severe human rights abuses.

Amnesty International, in a 2015 report, specifically singled out the DGST agency as a key perpetrator of recent abuses, accusing it of detaining people incommunicado and using brutal torture methods that included beatings, electric shocks, sexual violence, simulated drowning, drugging, mock executions, and food and sleep deprivation.

Sirine Rached, Amnesty’s North Africa researcher, told The Intercept that sales of surveillance technology to Morocco raised major concerns.

“In Morocco, digital surveillance is intimately linked with repression of peaceful dissent — people who are peacefully protesting or criticizing the authorities face intimidation, arrest, unfair trials, and sometimes imprisonment,” said Rached. “We fear that the more that these surveillance tools are sold [to Moroccan agencies], the more we will see human rights abuses, especially in relation to freedom of expression and information.”

Endace declined to comment on its dealings with Morocco. Stuart Wilson, Endace’s CEO, claimed in a statement that he had to keep details about the company’s customers confidential in order to help them “battle cyberthreats and breaches.”

Alongside its government clients, Endace has many major corporate customers.

Endace’s sales lists include finance industry giants such as Morgan Stanley, Reuters, and Bank of America. Endace’s website says it provides financial companies with its monitoring technology to help “high-frequency traders to monitor, measure, and analyze critical network environments.”

In addition, Endace sells its equipment to some of the world’s largest telecommunications companies, among them AT&T, AOL, Verizon, Sprint, Cogent Communications, Telstra, Belgacom, Swisscom, Deutsche Telekom, Telena Italy, Vastech South Africa, and France Telecom.

Some of these companies may use the Endace equipment for checking the security of their networks. But a key strand of Endace’s business involves providing technology for telecommunications firms that enables law enforcement and intelligence agencies to intercept the messages and data of phone and internet users.

A company product strategy document from 2010 said that Endace had “seen early success” providing a Lawful Intercept product to the major U.S. telco and internet company Sprint Corporation.

All telcos and internet companies in the U.S., Europe, New Zealand, and a number of other countries are required by law to have “intercept capable” equipment on their networks. When police or spy agencies want private data about a customer (with or without a warrant, depending on the country), it can be extracted easily.

When installed on a network, Endace’s surveillance equipment can be used to perform targeted monitoring of individual people, but it can also be used to enable dragnet spying.

In one of the leaked Endace documents obtained by The Intercept — under a section titled “customer user stories” — the company describes a situation in which a government agency has obtained “the encryption keys for a well-known program.” An Endace surveillance “probe,” the document suggests, could help the government agency “unencrypt all packets sent by this program on a large network in the last 24 hours.”

Once the data has been decrypted, the agency will be able to “look for the text string ‘Domino’s Pizza,’” Endace joked, “as they have information suggesting this is the favorite pizza of international terrorists.”

Hackers Used New Weapons to Disrupt Major Websites Across U.S.

October 21, 2016

by Nicole Perlroth

New York Times

SAN FRANCISCO — Major websites were inaccessible to people across wide swaths of the United States on Friday after a company that manages crucial parts of the internet’s infrastructure said it was under attack.

Users reported sporadic problems reaching several websites, including Twitter, Netflix, Spotify, Airbnb, Reddit, Etsy, SoundCloud and The New York Times.

The company, Dyn, whose servers monitor and reroute internet traffic, said it began experiencing what security experts called a distributed denial-of-service attack just after 7 a.m. Reports that many sites were inaccessible started on the East Coast, but spread westward in three waves as the day wore on and into the evening.

And in a troubling development, the attack appears to have relied on hundreds of thousands of internet-connected devices like cameras, baby monitors and home routers that have been infected — without their owners’ knowledge — with software that allows hackers to command them to flood a target with overwhelming traffic.

A spokeswoman said the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Department of Homeland Security were looking into the incident and all potential causes, including criminal activity and a nation-state attack.

Kyle York, Dyn’s chief strategist, said his company and others that host the core parts of the internet’s infrastructure were targets for a growing number of more powerful attacks.

“The number and types of attacks, the duration of attacks and the complexity of these attacks are all on the rise,” Mr. York said.

Security researchers have long warned that the increasing number of devices being hooked up to the internet, the so-called Internet of Things, would present an enormous security issue. And the assault on Friday, security researchers say, is only a glimpse of how those devices can be used for online attacks.

Dyn, based in Manchester, N.H., said it had fended off the assault by 9:30 a.m. But by 11:52 a.m., Dyn said it was again under attack. After fending off the second wave of attacks, Dyn said at 5 p.m. that it was again facing a flood of traffic.

A distributed denial-of-service attack, or DDoS, occurs when hackers flood the servers that run a target’s site with internet traffic until it stumbles or collapses under the load. Such attacks are common, but there is evidence that they are becoming more powerful, more sophisticated and increasingly aimed at core internet infrastructure providers.

Going after companies like Dyn can cause far more damage than aiming at a single website.

Dyn is one of many outfits that host the Domain Name System, or DNS, which functions as a switchboard for the internet. The DNS translates user-friendly web addresses like fbi.gov into numerical addresses that allow computers to speak to one another. Without the DNS servers operated by internet service providers, the internet could not operate.

In this case, the attack was aimed at the Dyn infrastructure that supports internet connections. While the attack did not affect the websites themselves, it blocked or slowed users trying to gain access to those sites.

Mr. York, the Dyn strategist, said in an interview during a lull in the attacks that the assaults on its servers were complex.

“This was not your everyday DDoS attack,” Mr. York said. “The nature and source of the attack is still under investigation.”

Later in the day, Dave Allen, the general counsel at Dyn, said tens of millions of internet addresses, or so-called I.P. addresses, were being used to send a fire hose of internet traffic at the company’s servers. He confirmed that a large portion of that traffic was coming from internet-connected devices that had been co-opted by type of malware, called Mirai.

Dale Drew, chief security officer at Level 3, an internet service provider, found evidence that roughly 10 percent of all devices co-opted by Mirai were being used to attack Dyn’s servers. Just one week ago, Level 3 found that 493,000 devices had been infected with Mirai malware, nearly double the number infected last month.

Mr. Allen added that Dyn was collaborating with law enforcement and other internet service providers to deal with the attacks.

In a recent report, Verisign, a registrar for many internet sites that has a unique perspective into this type of attack activity, reported a 75 percent increase in such attacks from April through June of this year, compared with the same period last year.

The attacks were not only more frequent, they were bigger and more sophisticated. The typical attack more than doubled in size. What is more, the attackers were simultaneously using different methods to attack the company’s servers, making them harder to stop.

The most frequent targets were businesses that provide internet infrastructure services like Dyn.

“DNS has often been neglected in terms of its security and availability,” Richard Meeus, vice president for technology at Nsfocus, a network security firm, wrote in an email. “It is treated as if it will always be there in the same way that water comes out of the tap.”

Last month, Bruce Schneier, a security expert and blogger, wrote on the Lawfare blog that someone had been probing the defenses of companies that run crucial pieces of the internet.

“These probes take the form of precisely calibrated attacks designed to determine exactly how well the companies can defend themselves, and what would be required to take them down,” Mr. Schneier wrote. “We don’t know who is doing this, but it feels like a large nation-state. China and Russia would be my first guesses.”

It is too early to determine who was behind Friday’s attacks, but it is this type of attack that has election officials concerned. They are worried that an attack could keep citizens from submitting votes.

Thirty-one states and the District of Columbia allow internet voting for overseas military and civilians. Alaska allows any Alaskan citizen to do so. Barbara Simons, the co-author of the book “Broken Ballots: Will Your Vote Count?” and a member of the board of advisers to the Election Assistance Commission, the federal body that oversees voting technology standards, said she had been losing sleep over just this prospect.

“A DDoS attack could certainly impact these votes and make a big difference in swing states,” Dr. Simons said on Friday. “This is a strong argument for why we should not allow voters to send their voted ballots over the internet.”

This month the director of national intelligence, James Clapper, and the Department of Homeland Security accused Russia of hacking the Democratic National Committee, apparently in an effort to affect the presidential election. There has been speculation about whether President Obama has ordered the National Security Agency to conduct a retaliatory attack and the potential backlash this might cause from Russia.

Gillian M. Christensen, deputy press secretary for the Department of Homeland Security, said the agency was investigating “all potential causes” of the attack.

Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. said on the NBC News program “Meet the Press” this month that the United States was prepared to respond to Russia’s election attacks in kind. “We’re sending a message,” Mr. Biden said. “We have the capacity to do it.”

But technology providers in the United States could suffer blowback. As Dyn fell under recurring attacks on Friday, Mr. York, the chief strategist, said such assaults were the reason so many companies are pushing at least parts of their infrastructure to cloud computing networks, to decentralize their systems and make them harder to attack.

“It’s a total wild, wild west out there,” Mr. York said.

Erin McCann contributed reporting from New York.

Pentagon preparing for mass civil breakdown 

Social science is being militarised to develop ‘operational tools’ to target peaceful activists and protest movements

October 23, 2016

by Harry von Johnston, PhD

Kochel-A US Department of Defense (DoD) research program is funding universities to model the dynamics, risks and tipping points for large-scale civil unrest across the world, under the supervision of various US military agencies. The multi-million dollar program is designed to develop immediate and long-term “warfighter-relevant insights” for senior officials and decision makers in “the defense policy community,” and to inform policy implemented by “combatant commands.”

Launched in 2008 – the year of the global banking crisis – the DoD ‘Minerva Research Initiative’ partners with universities “to improve DoD’s basic understanding of the social, cultural, behavioral, and political forces that shape regions of the world of strategic importance to the US.”

Among the projects awarded for the period 2014-2017 is a Cornell University-led study managed by the US Air Force Office of Scientific Research which aims to develop an empirical model “of the dynamics of social movement mobilisation and contagions.” The project will determine “the critical mass (tipping point)” of social contagians by studying their “digital traces” in the cases of “the 2011 Egyptian revolution, the 2011 Russian Duma elections, the 2012 Nigerian fuel subsidy crisis and the 2013 Gazi park protests in Turkey.”

Twitter posts and conversations will be examined “to identify individuals mobilised in a social contagion and when they become mobilised.”

Another project awarded this year to the University of Washington “seeks to uncover the conditions under which political movements aimed at large-scale political and economic change originate,” along with their “characteristics and consequences.” The project, managed by the US Army Research Office, focuses on “large-scale movements involving more than 1,000 participants in enduring activity,” and will cover 58 countries in total.

Last year, the DoD’s Minerva Initiative funded a project to determine ‘Who Does Not Become a Terrorist, and Why?’ which, however, conflates peaceful activists with “supporters of political violence” who are different from terrorists only in that they do not embark on “armed militancy” themselves. The project explicitly sets out to study non-violent activists:

“In every context we find many individuals who share the demographic, family, cultural, and/or socioeconomic background of those who decided to engage in terrorism, and yet refrained themselves from taking up armed militancy, even though they were sympathetic to the end goals of armed groups. The field of terrorism studies has not, until recently, attempted to look at this control group. This project is not about terrorists, but about supporters of political violence.”

The project’s 14 case studies each “involve extensive interviews with ten or more activists and militants in parties and NGOs who, though sympathetic to radical causes, have chosen a path of non-violence.”

The project’s principal investigator, Prof Maria Rasmussen of the US Naval Postgraduate School,was  asked why non-violent activists working for NGOs should be equated to supporters of political violence – and which “parties and NGOs” were being investigated – but received no response.

Similarly, Minerva programme staff refused to answer a series of similar questions to them, including asking how “radical causes” promoted by peaceful NGOs constituted a potential national security threat of interest to the DoD.

Among my questions, were asked:

“Does the US Department of Defense see protest movements and social activism in different parts of the world as a threat to US national security? If so, why? Does the US Department of Defense consider political movements aiming for large scale political and economic change as a national security matter? If so, why? Activism, protest, ‘political movements’ and of course NGOs are a vital element of a healthy civil society and democracy – why is it that the DoD is funding research to investigate such issues?” Minerva’s programme director Dr Erin Fitzgerald said “I appreciate your concerns and am glad that you reached out to give us the opportunity to clarify” before promising a more detailed response. Instead, I received the following bland statement from the DoD’s press office:

“The Department of Defense takes seriously its role in the security of the United States, its citizens, and US allies and partners. While every security challenge does not cause conflict, and every conflict does not involve the US military, Minerva helps fund basic social science research that helps increase the Department of Defense’s understanding of what causes instability and insecurity around the world. By better understanding these conflicts and their causes beforehand, the Department of Defense can better prepare for the dynamic future security environment.”

In 2013, Minerva funded a University of Maryland project in collaboration with the US Department of Energy’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory to gauge the risk of civil unrest due to climate change. The three-year $1.9 million project is developing models to anticipate what could happen to societies under a range of potential climate change scenarios.

From the outset, the Minerva programme was slated to provide over $75 million over five years for social and behavioural science research. This year alone it has been allocated a total budget of $17.8 million by US Congress.

An internal Minerva staff email communication referenced in a 2012 Masters dissertation reveals that the programme is geared toward producing quick results that are directly applicable to field operations. The dissertation was part of a Minerva-funded project on “counter-radical Muslim discourse” at Arizona State University.

The internal email from Prof Steve Corman, a principal investigator for the project, describes a meeting hosted by the DoD’s Human Social Cultural and Behavioural Modeling (HSCB) programme in which senior Pentagon officials said their priority was “to develop capabilities that are deliverable quickly” in the form of “models and tools that can be integrated with operations.”

Although Office of Naval Research supervisor Dr Harold Hawkins had assured the university researchers at the outset that the project was merely “a basic research effort, so we shouldn’t be concerned about doing applied stuff”, the meeting in fact showed that DoD is looking to “feed results” into “applications,” Corman said in the email. He advised his researchers to “think about shaping results, reports, etc., so they [DoD] can clearly see their application for tools that can be taken to the field.”

Many independent scholars are critical of what they see as the US government’s efforts to militarise social science in the service of war. In May 2008, the American Anthropological Association (AAA) wrote to the US government noting that the Pentagon lacks “the kind of infrastructure for evaluating anthropological [and other social science] research” in a way that involves “rigorous, balanced and objective peer review”, calling for such research to be managed instead by civilian agencies like the National Science Foundation (NSF).

The following month, the DoD signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the NSF to cooperate on the management of Minerva. In response, the AAA cautioned that although research proposals would now be evaluated by NSF’s merit-review panels. “Pentagon officials will have decision-making power in deciding who sits on the panels”:

“… there remain concerns within the discipline that research will only be funded when it supports the Pentagon’s agenda. Other critics of the programme, including the Network of Concerned Anthropologists, have raised concerns that the programme would discourage research in other important areas and undermine the role of the university as a place for independent discussion and critique of the military.”

According to Prof David Price, a cultural anthropologist at St Martin’s University in Washington DC and author of Weaponizing Anthropology: Social Science in Service of the Militarized State, “when you looked at the individual bits of many of these projects they sort of looked like normal social science, textual analysis, historical research, and so on, but when you added these bits up they all shared themes of legibility with all the distortions of over-simplification. Minerva is farming out the piece-work of empire in ways that can allow individuals to disassociate their individual contributions from the larger project.”

Prof Price has previously exposed how the Pentagon’s Human Terrain Systems (HTS) programme – designed to embed social scientists in military field operations – routinely conducted training scenarios set in regions “within the United States.”

Citing a summary critique of the programme sent to HTS directors by a former employee, Price reported that the HTS training scenarios “adapted COIN [counterinsurgency] for Afghanistan/Iraq” to domestic situations “in the USA where the local population was seen from the military perspective as threatening the established balance of power and influence, and challenging law and order.”

One war-game, said Price, involved environmental activists protesting pollution from a coal-fired plant near Missouri, some of whom were members of the well-known environmental NGO Sierra Club. Participants were tasked to “identify those who were ‘problem-solvers’ and those who were ‘problem-causers,’ and the rest of the population whom would be the target of the information operations to move their Center of Gravity toward that set of viewpoints and values which was the ‘desired end-state’ of the military’s strategy.”

Such war-games are consistent with a raft of Pentagon planning documents which suggest that National Security Agency (NSA) mass surveillance is partially motivated to prepare for the destabilising impact of coming environmental, energy and economic shocks.

James Petras, Bartle Professor of Sociology at Binghamton University in New York, concurs with Price’s concerns. Minerva-funded social scientists tied to Pentagon counterinsurgency operations are involved in the “study of emotions in stoking or quelling ideologically driven movements,” he said, including how “to counteract grassroots movements.”

Minerva is a prime example of the deeply narrow-minded and self-defeating nature of military ideology. Worse still, the unwillingness of DoD officials to answer the most basic questions is symptomatic of a simple fact – in their unswerving mission to defend an increasingly unpopular global system serving the interests of a tiny minority, security agencies have no qualms about painting the rest of us as potential terrorists.

The Silent Jew- An Open Letter

by Rabbi Joel Timmerman

Some time ago, I watched with sadness the Columbia tragedy unfold on my television screen and my heart went out to the families of the dead. But later in the day, I had a telephone call from a friend with a bitter comment.

He said that the first few hours of the media coverage of the tragedy dealt with the background and career of an Israeli guest cosmonaut, Colonel Ilan Ramon, and little mention was made of the backgrounds of the American crew.

Another friend, a Jew, called me to say: “Just look at that on the TV! Why CNN is spending all their time talking about an Israeli war hero. Weren’t there any Americans on board?”

Of course there were Americans on board and this is the subject of my open letter.

There are several millions of Jews living in the United States. The bulk of us are Reformed Jews. Nearly all of us consider ourselves to be Americans. We and our children are proud to have served in the American military and even prouder to be citizens of the one nation that has welcomed refugee Jews, fleeing from European persecutions, and permitted them free access to American society.

A much smaller percentage of American Jews are Zionists. They view themselves as Jews first, Israeli’s second and, perhaps, Americans third. Their complete allegiance is to the state of Israel and not to America. They send money to Israel and, when they have access to it, military and commercial secrets. They are the Pollards of this country. They do not represent the rest of us at all.

The State of Israel has always been a Zionist state. It was born in violence and hatred. Jews, mostly from Poland, invaded the Palestine area, killing and maiming anyone who stood in their way: Arabs, British soldiers, civilians and even high UN officials. Bombings, bank robberies, arsons and mass murder attended the birth of this state. One man, Menachim Begin, blew up a hotel full of people and was later made Chief of State!

The Zionists have fastened themselves onto the instruments of power in the United States, feeling, rightly, that American soldiers, and most importantly, money, will nurture their state and protect it from their many enemies.

Instead of making efforts to co-exist with their neighbors, Israel has constantly attacked the impoverished Palestinian Arabs and killed as many of them as they could. The IDF has had no problem murdering Arab men, women and children. It has had no problem destroying the homes and businesses of the reviled Arabs and their sole, stated aim, is to drive the Arabs out of their homes so that Jews can take them over.

How redolent this is of the attacks by the Nazis, the Poles and the Russians in recent times past! It is true that the abused child becomes the abusing parent and Israel has in truth become the National Socialists of the Middle East.

The Zionists have infiltrated the American government to a remarkable degree. They have gained an astonishing hold in the American mass media. CNN, Time Warner, the New York Times, the Washington Post, Newsweek and Time magazines and a host of other media giants are either owned outright by Jews or are under the control of Jews.

These mighty organs daily pour out a great stream of pro-Israel commentary while Jewish organizations such as the ADL and various other pressure groups, make constant, threatening demands on a subservient American legislative entity.

The fact that there are many Jews in America that view such blatant and ruthless manipulation with horror is never reported in the media.

We are the silent Jews although we outnumber the loud ones twenty to one. Our views, those of tolerance and moderation, are never seen in the media but the frantic, fanatic views of the hysterical Zionists receive daily, slavish attention.

The American pubic is not stupid but it has no voice to express its concerns. Faked opinion polls, pious statements about Israel as “America’s best ally” can be seen daily in all the major branches of the media.

The New York Times is an excellent example.

Believe me, Israel is not America’s best ally. Through the Israel lobby, American leaders and legislators do as they are told. The consequences of refusal or worse, opposition to Zionist demands is orchestrated oblivion. Furious because President Harry Truman blocked the sale of weapons of destruction to the rampaging Zionists in 1948, Jewish money backed Thomas Dewey. An assassination attempt was launched by the Stern Gang against Truman but failed.

The British, the United Nations and the United States eventually let the Zionists have their murderous way in Palestine because they grew tired of the constant acts of savage terrorism which seemed to inspire the terrorists to even greater infamies.

These miserable, vicious and ideological creatures have nothing to do with the great majority of American Jews. We deplore their savage, manipulative behavior because we know from bitter experience that eventually the American public will become aroused and infuriated. When that dismal day comes, and it will come, all the rest of us will be held to account for the savage brutes like Sharon and his butchers. We will become the eternal victims of a population enraged by the ruthless and self-serving manipulations of a small, detestable handful of chronic fanatics. We will, at last, lose the respect of our colleagues, our neighbors and our friends and again, the eternal wandering will begin.

Note here that Israel was afraid of Saddam Hussein. He had attacked Israel before, just as Israel has attacked him even earlier. Why should valuable Jewish youth be sacrificed in a war with Iraq when expendable American youth can accomplish the same thing? Perhaps, and I have learned this from a close friend in the Israeli Ministry of Defense, Israel and America might also attack Saudi Arabia and thereby gain military control of two major oil producing areas.

The American President is not a forceful or reasonable man but those who control him are and they, and the Israeli lobby can see that if both America and Israel can wrest control of oil from the Arabs, both countries will be better off…from the Zionist world view. Jews can make money from the captured oil fields and some of this can be stuffed into the pockets of America’s notoriously corrupt legislators…and bureaucrats.

This is a suicidal, very short-term policy. By catering to American religious fundamentalists, Jewish groups and the oil industry, Bush is digging the grave, not only of his own erratic and fanatic administration but also of very loyal American Jews.

The President may be a stupid man but his handlers are not but they are all so myopic that they cannot see that they are rushing in haste towards the top of a very high cliff.

If only it were the guilty, the stupid and the vicious that would plunge down to their deaths, nothing would be lost and much gained but they will drag with them tens of thousands of completely innocent people.

Joel Timmerman

Director, Holocaust Survivors Association

New York

Saudi-led warplanes pound Yemen after ceasefire ends

The Saudi Arabia-led coalition has resumed airstrikes in Sanaa, hours after a three-day truce expired in Yemen. The ceasefire was declared in order to supply crucial humanitarian aid to civilians.

October 23, 2016


Yemen’s government continued to blame Shiite Houthi rebels for not upholding the 72-hour truce,forcing the Saudi-led coalition to strike targets in the capital Sanaa. “The [Houthi] coup militias deliberately thwarted the truce and that further convinced our military and political leadership of their unwillingness to accept peace,” Yemen’s army chief of staff Mohammed Ali al-Miqdashi told reporters.

Airstrikes were reported from military sites near Sanaa, in the Hafa camp towards the east and the Nahdein area in the south. Planes also targeted the Houthi-controlled city of Hodeida and Taiz, the Reuters news agency reported residents as saying.

Fierce fighting was also reported in the country’s northern regions along the border with Saudi Arabia. Ten rebels and four Yemeni soldiers were killed over the weekend, media agencies reported.

The strikes occurred hours before UN Special Envoy for Yemen, Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmad, arrived in Sanaa for talks with Houthi representatives.

Ahmad had earlier appealed for an extension of the truce to enable humanitarian aid to reach war-ravaged areas. “We noted over the last days that food and humanitarian supplies were provided to several affected neighborhoods and that UN personnel were able to reach areas that were previously inaccessible,” Ahmad said on Saturday. He had appealed to parties to extend the ceasefire, which began on Wednesday,for another 72 hours.

But Yemeni Foreign Minister Abdulmalek al-Mekhlafi said the call was “useless” because rebels were ignoring the truce. “We respect the UN envoy’s call for an extension, but in effect, there was no truce due to the violations” by the rebels, Mekhlafi told the Agence France-Presse news agency.

Nearly 7,000 people have died since early last year, when Saudi Arabia formed a coalition to prevent Iran-backed Shiite Houthi rebels from deposing President Abd Rabbo Mansour Hadi and taking over the country. Hadi is now in exile in Riyadh.

The war has plunged the country into chaos, with millions facing starvation and an acute shortage of medical supplies.

Trump outlines first 100 days in office, swears to end US media’s abuse of news coverage

October 23, 2016


Donald Trump has outlined plans for his first 100 days in the White House if he wins the presidency. The outspoken critic of US media promised to stop American news conglomerates from abusing their power and change the way the country is run in general.

The Republican presidential candidate delivered his “closing arguments” 17 days ahead of presidential election in the historic setting of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania on Saturday.

The GOP nominee has recently fiercely criticized what he views as intentionally negative and biased coverage of his campaign. In his address, he once again tried to hammer home his assertion that the upcoming presidential election will be rigged.

“They’re trying desperately to suppress my vote and the voice of the American people,” Trump said, before swearing to limit the ability of large US media corporations to abuse their power by directing news coverage. As an example, he promised that, if he becomes president, he will thwart a media merger between telecommunications conglomerate AT&T and Time Warner, which, apart from other assets, owns CNN and HBO.

“As an example of the power structure I’m fighting – AT&T is buying Time Warner and, thus, CNN, a deal we will not approve in my administration, because it’s too much concentration of power in the hands of too few,” Trump stressed.

On Saturday, AT&T Inc. officially announced that it is buying Time Warner Inc., one of America’s largest media and entertainment companies.

The Republican candidate also said that he would never have approved the acquisition of NBC Universal by Comcast Corp in 2013, as he believes such mergers “destroy democracy” and “poison the mind of the American voter.”

“The Comcast purchase of NBC concentrates far too much power in one massive entity that is trying to tell the voters what to think and what to do,” he said. “Deals like this destroy democracy and we’ll look at breaking that deal up and other deals like that. This should never ever have been approved in the first place. They’re trying to poison the mind of the American voter.”

Comcast owns NBC Universal News Group, whose NBC News, CNBC, and MSNBC divisions have all been keen to portray Trump in a bad light.

One of its programs, Access Hollywood, recently leaked an infamous videotape showing Trump crudely boasting about groping women. The Washington Post, which received the video, didn’t hesitate to publish the scandalous footage, throwing Trump’s campaign into crisis, as several prominent Republicans announced they would no longer be voting for him.

Trump hit back, though indirectly, pointing at online retailing company Amazon.com Inc., which he believes should be paying “massive taxes.” Perhaps not coincidentally, Amazon chief executive Jeff Bezos is also the owner of the Washington Post, which, aside from outing the video, has ripped Trump throughout the entire election campaign, calling him, “a challenge the nation must confront and overcome” who is “uniquely unqualified to serve as president,” among other things. Bezos himself recently slammed Trump, claiming he’s “eroding our democracy.”

Vowing to sue the women who have recently appeared in the news accusing him of sexual misconduct, Trump lashed out at the media system in its entirety, saying it “fabricates” stories, while forgetting to check the facts.

“Every woman lied when they came forward to hurt my campaign,” he said on Saturday. “Total fabrication. The events never happened. Never. All of these liars will be sued after the election is over.”

“But a simple phone call placed to the biggest newspapers or television networks gets them wall-to-wall coverage with virtually no fact-checking whatsoever. Here is why this is relevant to you,” he told his voters, before asking them, if the media is so apt at “fighting” a person who, in his words, has “unlimited resources to fight back,” how easily can it exert its influence on ordinary voters and their lives in its present state.

Though a major target in his speech, the media was not the only thing Trump promised to change if he gets into the Oval Office. He said the whole country needs drastic changes, as the whole system, as it is run today, is rigged.

For example, he pledged to restore government ethics and “drain the swamp” of Washington DC by shrinking the federal bureaucracy, while proposing a seven-point list of economic changes that will benefit the US worker, as well as tax reductions for the middle class and businesses. He also swore to end illegal immigration and replace Obamacare with a health savings accounts program.

Change has to come from outside our very broken system,” the Republican candidate said, adding that he is being attacked so vociferously because he has been an outsider to politics and has never run for office until now, which he argues is a good thing.

“The fact that Washington and the Washington establishment has tried so hard to stop our campaign is only more proof that our campaign represents the kind of change that only arrives once in a lifetime,” he added.

Lawsuit Bill

False Arguments Aside, White House Knows JASTA is Only a Threat to U.S. Government hypocrisy in War on Terror

October 21, 2016

by Brian P. McGlinchey


Following a meeting with Saudi Arabian Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry told reporters the two explored how to “fix” a recently-passed law that cleared the way for 9/11 survivors and family members to sue the kingdom for its alleged support of the hijackers.

Kerry and al-Jubeir both claimed JASTA puts at risk the entire concept of sovereign immunity, which limits the rights of individual people to pursue justice for the crimes of governments. “If this issue takes hold, we will have chaos in the international order, and this is something that no country in the world wants,” said al-Jubeir.

Kerry also repeated previous Obama administration claims that JASTA threatens those serving in the U.S. military. “We discussed ways to try to fix this in a way that respects and honors the needs and rights of victims of 9/11 but at the same time does not expose American troops and American partners and American individuals who may be involved in another country to the potential of a lawsuit for those activities,” said Kerry.

“What happened yesterday is outrageous,” said 9/11 widow Terry Strada in a statement issued yesterday. “The fact that Secretary Kerry would lead off his public remarks not by talking about ISIS or Iraq, but instead by assuring the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia that he would work to destroy the 9/11 bill, speaks volumes and is very painful for all September 11th families,” continued Strada, who helped lead the effort to pass the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act (JASTA).

Dishonest Arguments

The Obama administration and Saudi monarchy want us to believe two things:

  • JASTA represents a major departure from the previous U.S. approach to sovereign immunity.
  • U.S. military service members will face suits in foreign courts as other nations reciprocate with similar adjustments to their own laws.

Bolstered by a multi-million dollar effort coordinated among Saudi Arabia’s armada of lobbying and public relations firms, these arguments are sadly working wonders on credulous pundits and editorial boards—but they’re flatly dishonest.

First, JASTA represents a very narrow adjustment to the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act (FSIA)—one that only addresses state sponsorship of terrorism. What’s more, prior to JASTA, the FSIA already provided an exception that allowed U.S. citizens to sue foreign state sponsors of terror. That exception was enacted in 2008 without sparking the disproportionate global retaliation that Kerry says will result from JASTA.

Further, JASTA only allows plaintiffs to sue foreign governments—not individual officials or military service members—and only for acts of terrorism, specifically excluding acts of war. How does Kerry propose “fixing” a law that already protects U.S. servicemen and women from reciprocity?

What’s Really at Stake

The principal effect of JASTA is to now allow plaintiffs to sue foreign governments:

  • For actions those governments take abroad in aiding terrorism on U.S. soil. Before JASTA, a government that handed a briefcase full of cash to a terrorist in New York could be sued, but if that same act happened in Montreal, it enjoyed immunity.
  • That are not on the State Department’s list of official state sponsors of terror. The Secretary of State unilaterally decides who makes the list; today, it’s Iran, Sudan and Syria.

It’s that second attribute that represents JASTA’s real threat—not to American soldiers, marines and airmen, but to an abused executive branch monopoly on declaring which countries are sponsoring terrorism. Rather than providing an honest catalogue of real-world villainy, the American government uses the terror list as a blunt force weapon to economically and diplomatically isolate selected countries that defy it.

Cuba was on the list until the Obama administration decided to abandon decades of counterproductive isolation of the country; one day it’s a menacing fomenter of terror, the next it’s not. Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia is absent from the list, despite 28 pages of damning details illustrating a variety of Saudi government links to the 9/11 hijackers and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s declaration in a leaked 2014 email that the kingdom was “providing clandestine financial and logistical support to ISIL.”

An exchange at a July House judiciary committee hearing on JASTA between State Department legal advisor Brian Egan and Tennessee Congressman Steve Cohen summed up the situation nicely.

Egan: Under the existing terrorism exception, cases are allowed against countries that are designated state sponsors of terrorism…The existing exception was crafted between Congress and the executive branch to allow for a decision and evidence to be looked at by the executive branch as to whether the relevant government has repeatedly provided support for acts of international terrorism. We think that’s an important part of the process and one that would change with this law.

Rep. Cohen: Mr. Egan, Saudi Arabia is not on the list, right?

Egan: That’s correct, sir.

Rep. Cohen: And if we change this law and they’re subject to liability, might we find that they should have been?

In a forgivable breach of decorum, many 9/11 widows and widowers in attendance applauded.

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