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CIA Spies on Senate Staffers: A Troubling Pattern Is Reinforced

eff.org - Sat, 15/03/2014 - 10:54

Senator Dianne Feinstein—who traditionally is a stalwart defender of the intelligence community—came out swinging against them this week. While on the floor of the Senate, she laid bare a two year long struggle concerning CIA spying on Senate Intelligence Committee staffers investigating CIA's early 2000s torture and enhanced interrogation techniques. The spying by CIA crosses a line when it comes to Congressional oversight of the intelligence community. And it's an emblem of the extreme imbalance between the power of Congress and the power of the intelligence community. If the intelligence community thinks they can act in such a way towards the people who are supposed to oversee them, what else do they think they can do?

How Did This Happen?

According to Senator Feinstein, the spying occurred in a facility provided by CIA to Senate Intelligence staffers. As part of the investigation, CIA agreed to not interfere with the facility or with the Senate Intelligence staff's computers. After the staffers found a smoking gun document (an internal CIA review) that contradicted CIA's own conclusions, the staffers—just like with previous documents—transferred it back to their own facility in the Senate. Soon after, the CIA found out about the possession and deleted files on the Senate staffers' computers not once, but twice. Over 800 documents were deleted. Staffers do not know what those deleted documents contained.

The Oversight Regime Must Be Fixed

Senator Feinstein's speech is the first step to ensuring Congressional oversight prevails, but the Department of Justice, which is currently conducting an investigation, should not be the only entity to review the details. The latest breach of trust by the intelligence community must spur Congress to exert their oversight powers and begin a full investigation into these actions and the oversight regime at-large.

These are pressing topics. It's clear that the lack of oversight was a key factor in many of the egregious intelligence activities we learned about from the documents provided by Edward Snowden. The intelligence community evaded answering questions fully, or providing key documents to the intelligence committees. CIA spying is more proof that the oversight regime needs an overhaul. First and foremost, the American people—and Congress—need an oversight regime that works.

A Long Term Pattern

Some people are aghast at CIA's actions. Details about the spying are sparse; however, it seems CIA may be guilty—at the minimum—of obstruction laws. But we've seen this before from the intelligence community. And we don't have to draw from examples in the 1960s and 70s when the intelligence community was spying on Martin Luther King Jr. or anti-Vietnam activists. All we have to do is look at the past decade.

After the attacks on September 11, it took years for Senator Jay Rockefeller—then the chairman of the Senate Intelligence Community—to get a briefing and key documents for the entire committee about intelligence community actions. More recently, we saw obfuscation by the intelligence community in 2009 when it misled the FISA court. And just last year, the Director of National Intelligence, General James Clapper, lied to Congress about collecting data on innocent Americans. We also know members of Congress describe intelligence briefings as a game of 20 questions. Despite CIA's original cooperation, it seems clear CIA did not want the Senate staffers to conduct a full investigation.

It should be obvious to anyone that these actions paint a picture—and confirm a pattern—of out-of-control intelligence agencies. The American public is losing a tremendous amount of trust in the intelligence community—trust that is necessary for the intelligence community to conduct its job. But it's even more dangerous to the government body that is supposed to oversee the intelligence community: Congress.

Congress Must Act

Senator Feinstein's concern over CIA spying on her staff should extend to a concern about NSA's collection of all Americans' calling records. Both actions are examples of intelligence community overreach and abuse of their authorities. There are serious problems when the stalwart defender of the intelligence community takes to the Senate floor to discuss problems with the committee's oversight.

Beyond Senator Feinstein, Congress must retake its oversight role. For far too long has the intelligence community run roughshod over the intelligence committees. Time and time again, we've seen the inability for the intelligence committee to grapple with the behemoth of the intelligence community. This must stop. An investigation should be carried out not only into CIA spying, but into the oversight regime as a whole, the classification system, and the egregious actions by the intelligence community—including the activities of NSA. All of these topics are core problems concerning the inability for the Senate Intelligence Committee to be fully briefed—or even grasp—intelligence community actions. This week may have been a loss for Congressional oversight, but members of Congress must reassert their power. Their duty to serve as representatives of the American people demand it.  


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White House Crime Boss Powwow

sjlendman.blogspot.com - Fri, 14/03/2014 - 17:50
White House Crime Boss Powwow
by Stephen Lendman
On March 12, Ukraine's illegitimate putschist prime minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk and Obama met in the Oval Office.
A previous article said Yatsenyuk came to meet his new boss. He got marching orders. He learned more about Obama's plans to rape and pillage Ukraine. More on what they both said below.
Meanwhile, on March 5, House Res. 499 "Condemn(ed) the violation of Ukrainian sovereignty, independence, and territorial integrity by military forces of the Russian Federation."
It called for removing all Russian military troops from Crimea except Black Sea Fleet forces operating in accordance with 1997 Friendship Treaty terms.
It permits up to 25,000 Russian forces. Around 16,000 are currently there. None operate illegally on Crimean territory. Claims otherwise are false.
House Foreign Affairs Committee chairman Ed Royce (R. CA) called the resolution "an important part of a larger effort to aid Ukraine and impose real costs on Russia."
It's "a very important declaration of support for the people of Ukraine during this crisis," he added. It condemns nonexistent 'Russian aggression' "in clear and unmistakable terms." It calls for:
  • Removal of all Russian military forces from Ukraine's Crimean peninsula other than those operating in accordance with its 1997 agreement regarding its Black Sea Fleet stationed there.

  • Deployment of independent monitors from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe in Crimea and other areas of Ukraine.

  • Suspension by NATO allies and European Union member states of military cooperation with Russia, including sales of military equipment.

  • Boycott of the G8 summit in Sochi, Russia, by the US, Canada, Germany, Italy, France, Britain and Japan.

The non-binding resolution passed 402 - 7.
On March 11, Senate Res. 378 "condemn(ed) illegal Russian aggression in Ukraine." It:
"(1) condemns the unprovoked and illegal Russian military seizure of the Ukrainian Crimea and demands the immediate withdrawal of Russian forces except as specifically allowed for by treaty;
(2) demands the immediate release of besieged Ukrainian security forces in Crimea, who have shown remarkable restraint under threat;
(3) warns that failure to do so or any additional military action against other areas of Ukraine will lead to swift and significant consequences in the Russian Federation's relations with the United States and those nations who share our views;
(4) urges the President to use all appropriate economic elements of United States national power, in coordination with United States allies, including loan guarantees matched with requirements of international financial institutions regarding Ukrainian economic reforms and transparency, to strengthen the Ukrainian economy and protect the independence, sovereignty, and territorial and economic integrity of Ukraine;
(5) urges the President to use appropriate economic and diplomatic measures, including calibrated sanctions, against those responsible for the illegal seizure of Crimea;
(6) urges the President to propose to G-8 nations to suspend the Russian Federation, and to propose to our NATO allies to suspend operation of the NATO-Russia Council and suspend the Russian Federation’s military and diplomatic representation at NATO;
(7) condemns the economic coercion pursued by the Russian Federation beginning in July 2013 against Ukraine, Moldova, Lithuania, and other countries in the region in order to obstruct closer ties between the European Union and the countries of the Eastern Partnership and supports the people of Ukraine in their desire to forge closer ties with Europe;
(8) supports assisting Ukraine and United States allies in the region in gaining energy security in order to alleviate their vulnerability to the Russian Federation’s threats and manipulations;
(9) expresses its continuing support for democratic allies who regularly face aggression on their borders from the Government of the Russian Federation and supports enhanced security cooperation with, and security assistance to, states in Central and Eastern Europe, including Ukraine;
(10) encourages governments in Europe to take similar and coordinated actions to make it clear to the Government of the Russian Federation that violating the territorial integrity of sovereign nations will have swift and significant consequences;
(11) calls for the immediate acceptance of a credible international observer mission in Crimea and other parts of the Ukraine;
(12) calls on the Government of the Russian Federation to seriously engage with the Government of Ukraine in a political dialogue on a political and diplomatic path that respects Ukrainian sovereignty and the Crimea’s complex historic and ethnic makeup;
(13) supports the efforts of the Government of Ukraine to bring to justice those responsible for the acts of violence related to the anti-government protests that began on November 21, 2013;
(14) supports the efforts of the Government of Ukraine to recover and return to the Ukrainian state funds stolen by former President Yanukovych, his family, and other current and former members of the Government of Ukraine and elites; and
(15) calls upon the leadership of the Federation Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) to reconsider its decision to place World Cup 2018 matches in Russia."
The Senate's non-binding resolution passed unanimously. Profiles in courage were absent.
On March 12, Obama welcomed Yatsenyuk to the White House. He duplicitously praised "the courage of the Ukrainian people in standing up on behalf of democracy and on the desire that I believe is universal for people to be able to determine their own destiny."
He lied about "how ordinary people from all parts of the country had said that we want a change."
He ludicrously praised Yatsenyuk's "courage." He outrageously called him a leader possessing "great skill and great restraint."
He disgracefully said Ukraine's "most pressing challenge…is the threat to its territorial integrity and its sovereignty."
He lied claiming a "Russian incursion into Crimea outside of its bases..." He called what didn't happen "a violation of international law."
No country is more contemptuous of rule of law principles than America.
None in human history committed graver crimes of war, against humanity and genocide multiple times.
None more threaten humanity's survival. Obama bears full responsibility for months of Kiev violence. Illegitimate neo-Nazi putschists usurped power.
Courage is not one of their attributes. Ukraine's sovereignty was eviscerated. Plundering its resources is planned. So is exploiting its people. 
Russia justifiably opposed what happened. In a wide-ranging interview, Vladimir Putin spoke out forthrightly. He denounced what he called "an anti-constitutional takeover, an armed seizure of power."
"Does anyone question this," he asked? "Nobody does." Viktor Yanukovych remains Ukraine's legitimate president. Putschists have no legitimacy whatever.
No one "should...support illegal change," he said. Authorities usurping power are illegitimate, he added.
"The current acting president is definitely not legitimate. There is only one legitimate president, from a legal standpoint." 
Putin supports the right of all Ukrainians to determine their future democratically. He denounced accusations about Russian military forces invading Crimea.
None were sent. "So far, there is no need for (them), but the possibility remains" to protect Russian nationals if necessary, he explained.
Compare democracy to neo-Nazi putschists seizing power. Russia hasn't interfered in Ukraine's internal affairs, Putin stressed.
"(W)e firmly believe that all citizens of Ukraine, I repeat, wherever they live, should be given the same equal right to participate in the life of their country and in determining its future."
Obama promised Yatsenyuk full support. "(Y)ou can rest assured" you've got it, he said.
Yatsenyuk thanked Obama. "We will never surrender," he said. "Ukraine is and will be part of the Western world." What Ukrainians want doesn't matter.
By end of next week, he'll sign an agreement on joining the EU, he said. Doing so will surrender Ukrainian sovereignty to Western European authority.
He plans selling its soul to IMF debt bondage. He intends having ordinary Ukrainians bear the burden of paying bankers first.
On Friday, John Kerry and Sergei Lavrov will meet in London. "Our job is to present (Russia) with a series of options that are appropriate in order to try to respect the people of Ukraine, international law, and the interests of all concerned," said Kerry.
He'll try to persuade Russia through Lavrov not to annex Crimea. Both foreign ministers will meet two days ahead of Crimeans voting up or down on independence and joining Russia.
Polls show popular sentiment overwhelmingly favors doing so. It's entirely legal. Claims otherwise are false.
Kerry warned earlier that annexation would "close any available space for diplomacy." Russia isn't cowed by Washington threats. It's got plenty of ammunition to respond.
Evidence keeps surfacing about what really happened in Kiev's Independence Square. Putschist snipers bore full responsibility for killing up to 100 Ukrainian civilians and security police, as well as injuring hundreds more.
Days earlier, Estonian Prime Minister Urmas Paet pointed fingers the right way. He confirmed what's been independently believed all along.
"There is now stronger and stronger understanding that behind the snipers, it was not Yanukovich, but it was somebody from the new coalition," said Paet.
On March 12, former Ukrainian Security Service head Aleksandr Yakimenko agreed. He blamed putschist official Andrey Parubiy. He's a neo-Nazi Svoboda party leader.
"Shots came from the Philharmonic Hall," he said. "Maidan Commandant Parubiy was responsible for this building." 
"Snipers and people with automatic weapons were 'working' from this building on February 20. They supported the assault on the Interior Ministry forces on the ground who were already demoralized and had, in fact, fled," he added.
"When the first wave of shootings ended, many have witnessed 20 people leaving the building."
They were carrying military-style bags used for sniper and assault rifles with optical sights.
Many witnesses saw them. Foreign elements may have been involved. Perhaps CIA, US special forces, and secret service operatives.
What happened was well planned in advance. "These were the forces that carried out everything that they were told by their leadership - the United States," Yakimenko stressed.
Maidan leaders practically lived at Washington's embassy, he added. As security chief, he was ready to order Ukrainian troops to enter the building and remove the snipers, he said.
He needed approval from Parubiy to do it, he explained. Otherwise, so-called "self-defense" elements would have attacked him, he believes.
"Parubiy did not give such consent," he said. He controlled access to weapons used in Independence Square.
Moscow wants an independent investigation. It wants full disclosure of what happened. Deep East/West divisions remain.
Russia is on its own to investigate. Western plans for Ukraine are fixed. Evidence compromising them will be buried. 
Ukraine's dark future is planned. It remains to be seen how ordinary Ukrainians react. Euromaidan protests 2.0 may follow. The battle for Ukraine's soul continues.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. 
His new book is titled "Banker Occupation: Waging Financial War on Humanity."
http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanII.html
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. 
Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.
It airs Fridays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.

http://www.progressiveradionetwork.com/the-progressive-news-hour

Israel Attacks Gaza - Again

sjlendman.blogspot.com - Fri, 14/03/2014 - 17:50
Israel Attacks Gaza - Again
by Stephen Lendman
Israel invents pretexts to attack. Other times, it provokes them lawlessly. Palestinians are wrongfully blamed for its crimes. Incidents happen repeatedly.
Islamic Jihad (IJ) responded to multiple Israeli killings. So did other Gazan resistance groups. 
They included the National Resistance Brigades, Abu Mustafa Brigades, and Al-Aqsa Martyr's Brigade. 
They called doing so "Breaking the Silence." Ihab al-Ghussein is Gaza-based Palestinian Authority Interior Ministry spokesman.
He called Israel "responsible for any escalation." He warned of "consequences."
"Resistance is the right of the Palestinian people to defend themselves," he stressed.
Israeli attacks were the most intense since Operation Pillar of Cloud (aka Cloud Column/Pillar of Defense) from November 14 - 21, 2012.
Over 170 Palestinians were killed. Over 1,000 were injured. Nearly half were women and children. At least 963 houses were damaged or destroyed.
They included 10 health centers, 35 schools, 2 universities, 15 NGO offices, 30 mosques, 14 media offices, 92 industrial and commercial facilities, 1 UNWRA food distribution center, 8 government buildings, 14 police/security stations, 5 banks, 34 vehicles, 3 youth clubs, 3 cemeteries, and 2 bridges.
Whether Israel intends more of the same ahead remains to be seen. On Thursday, an Islamic Jihad leader said Egypt brokered a ceasefire. Maintaining it is another matter.
Overnight Wednesday, an IDF statement reported 29 Israeli air strikes. Israel didn't comment on halting them. A senior Defense Ministry official said he expected them to end soon.
Multiple Israeli murders occurred days after Amnesty International's scathing report. It's titled "Trigger-Happy: Israel's Use of Excessive Force in the West Bank." 
It accused Israel of cold-blooded murder. In 2013, Israel killed at least two dozen nonviolent Palestinians. Four were young children. They were shot in cold blood. Some in the back.
Thousands of Palestinians are wounded annually. Thousands more are lawlessly arrested, detained, and brutalized in Israel's gulag. It's one of the world's worst.
Palestinian resistance groups fired dozens of rockets into southern Israel. No casualties were reported. More on this below.
Days earlier, Israel murdered seven Palestinians in cold blood. Three were killed in separate West Bank incidents.
An Israeli air strike killed three others in Gaza. An Israel soldier murdered a Palestinian judge at Allenby crossing. 
Raed Zeitar lived in Jordan. He was en route home by bus to visit his daughter. She's aged six. She's hospitalized in a coma.
An IDF spokesman lied, saying:
"A short while ago a Palestinian attempted to seize the weapon of a soldier at the Allenby Bridge crossing from Jordan." 
"In response, the forces at the scene opened fire towards the suspect. A hit was identified."
Eyewitness Mohammed Zaid said:
"(A)n Israeli soldier pushed Zeiter. They started scuffling and (he) was brought to the floor." 
He "then stood up and shoved the soldier, who in turn fired a shot that barely missed" him.
"The soldier then proceeded to fire three shots that hit Zeiter in the chest, leaving him dead on the floor."
Efforts to resuscitate him failed. Medics arrived too late. "Israeli police closed the scene and unloaded passengers off the bus and ordered them to the ground in order to search them," said Zaid.
The Jordan Times disputed Israel's explanation. It headlined "Eyewitness says Israeli army lying, judge did not try to seize soldier's gun."
Zaid said he was meters away from what happened. "It is not true that (Zeiter) tried to take the soldier's gun," he said.
"Passengers were shocked and started crying and screaming." Other Israeli forces arrived. They detained bus passengers for six hours.
On March 11, Zeiter was laid to rest. He was wrapped in Palestinian and Jordanian flags.
The same day, the Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR) headlined "Israeli Forces Kill a Judge in Cold Blood at al-Karamah Border Crossing with Jordan."
He served in Jordan's Magistrate Court. Israel lied claiming he tried seizing a soldier's weapon, said PCHR.
"Investigations (it) conducted refuted the Israeli claims and emphasized that the judge did not constitute any threat to the lives of the Israeli soldiers," it said.
Eyewitness testimony confirmed it. Zeiter was maliciously mistreated. He was pushed to the ground. 
He was shot at point blank range. He was murdered in cold blood. "He bled to death." No one came to his aid in time to save him.
"PCHR strongly condemns the cold-blooded murder of Zeiter and stresses that this Israeli crime proves again (its) disregard for civilian lives."
PCHR wants international community action. It wants repeated Israeli crimes stopped. It wants guilty parties held responsible. Fourth Geneva High Contracting Parties are legally obligated to act.
Article 146 calls for "effective penal sanctions for persons committing, or ordering to be committed, any of the grave breaches of the present Convention (as) defined" under Article 147.
They include "willful killing, torture or inhuman treatment, including biological experiments, willfully causing great suffering or serious injury to body or health, unlawful deportation or transfer or unlawful confinement of a protected person, compelling a protected person to serve in the forces of a hostile Power, or willfully depriving a protected person of the rights of fair and regular trial prescribed in the present Convention, taking of hostages and extensive destruction and appropriation of property, not justified by military necessity and carried out unlawfully and wantonly."
Jordanian anger is palpable. Its parliament held two emergency sessions. Discussion included recalling its ambassador.
Hundreds of lawyers protested. So did students on university campuses. Lawyers want a stiff government response. They want more than verbal condemnation.
Some want Amman's peace treaty with Israel ended. They want Israel's ambassador expelled. Some parliamentarians threatened a no confidence vote if their demands aren't met.
They want an independent transparent investigation. Others want King Abdullah to intervene directly.
Overnight Wednesday, Israel launched multiple air strikes. No reports of casualties so far. Civilians are always harmed most. 
Israel treats them like combatants. Doing so violates international law. Israel spurns it repeatedly. It does what it wants with impunity. 
World leaders able to make a difference turn a blind eye. They do nothing to confront wanton Israeli lawlessness. Inaction lets Tel Aviv get away with crimes of war, against humanity and genocide.
Netanyahu is Israel's worst ever leader. He's a world class thug. He pledged to act "with great force" against anyone seeking to harm Israel, he said. 
"If there won't be quiet in the south, there will be noise in Gaza - a lot of noise, and this is an understatement."
Through his spokesman Ofir Gendelman, he added a statement saying:
"We will continue to strike those who want to harm us. We'll act against them very forcefully."
Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon ordered closure of Gazan border crossings with Israel. He suspended rare visitation rights for Gazans incarcerated in Israel.
"Israel will not stand idly by," he said. "We will not allow Islamic Jihad or any other player in (Gaza) to disrupt the lives of the citizens of Israel."
"When there is no quiet in the south, there will be no quiet in the Gaza Strip - in such a way that will make the Islamic Jihad terrorists regret the volley."
Israel systematically blames victims for crimes it commits. It calls aggression self-defense. It calls legitimate self-defense "terrorism."
Ultranationalist/serial felon/latter day Kahanist Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman represents Israel's far right lunatic fringe.
On Israel's Channel 2, he said:
"Following an attack like this - a barrage of more than 50 rockets - there is no alternative to a full reoccupation of the entire Gaza Strip."
He outrageously called Gaza a weapons arsenal. It's "hostage in the hands of a group of terrorists," he added."
"No sovereign country can accept a situation whereby dozens of rockets land on peaceful cities, villages and kibbutzim." 
"There is no price we cannot pay for the security of the citizens of Israel."
Washington ignored Israeli cold-blooded murder. It issued one-sided statement saying it "condemns in the strongest terms today's rocket attacks into Israel by terrorists from the Gaza Strip."
"It is reprehensible that dozens of rockets have been fired today alone. There is no justification for such attacks." 
"We call for these terrorist attacks to cease immediately. Israel, like any nation, has a right to defend itself."
On Thursday, Israel ignored Egypt's brokered truce. It launched more airstrikes. Southern Gazan targets were attacked. No deaths were reported. At least three Palestinians were injured.
Israel confirmed the attacks saying:
"Since yesterday there has seen a substantial deterioration in the safety of the residents in southern Israel." 
"We have responded and will continue to do so in order to eliminate threats as they develop. This is our obligation and responsibility to those exposed to Gaza terrorism."
What Israel intends going forward remains to be seen. Rogue states make their own rules. Israel and America are by far the world's worst.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. 
His new book is titled "Banker Occupation: Waging Financial War on Humanity."
http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanII.html
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. 
Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.
It airs Fridays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.

http://www.progressiveradionetwork.com/the-progressive-news-hour

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