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ComputerCOP: The Dubious 'Internet Safety Software' That Hundreds of Police Agencies Have Distributed to Families

eff.org - Wed, 01/10/2014 - 23:59

ComputerCOP in Maricopa County, Arizona

For years, local law enforcement agencies around the country have told parents that installing ComputerCOP software is the “first step” in protecting their children online.

Police chiefs, sheriffs, and district attorneys have handed out hundreds of thousands of copies of the disc to families for free at schools, libraries, and community events, usually as a part of an “Internet Safety” outreach initiative. The packaging typically features the agency’s official seal and the chief’s portrait, with a signed message warning of the “dark and dangerous off-ramps” of the Internet.

As official as it looks, ComputerCOP is actually just spyware, generally bought in bulk from a New York company that appears to do nothing but market this software to local government agencies.

The way ComputerCOP works is neither safe nor secure. It isn’t particularly effective either, except for generating positive PR for the law enforcement agencies distributing it. As security software goes, we observed a product with a keystroke-capturing function, also called a “keylogger,” that could place a family’s personal information at extreme risk by transmitting what a user types over the Internet to third-party servers without encryption. That means many versions of ComputerCOP leave children (and their parents, guests, friends, and anyone using the affected computer) exposed to the same predators, identity thieves, and bullies that police claim the software protects against.

Furthermore, by providing a free keylogging program—especially one that operates without even the most basic security safeguards—law enforcement agencies are passing around what amounts to a spying tool that could easily be abused by people who want to snoop on spouses, roommates, or co-workers.

EFF conducted a security review of ComputerCOP while also following the paper trail of public records to see how widely the software has spread. Based on ComputerCOP’s own marketing information, we identified approximately 245 agencies in more than 35 states, plus the U.S. Marshals, that have used public funds (often the proceeds from property seized during criminal investigations) to purchase and distribute ComputerCOP. One sheriff’s department even bought a copy for every family in its county. 

In investigating ComputerCOP, we also discovered misleading marketing material, including a letter of endorsement purportedly from the U.S. Department of Treasury, which has now issued a fraud alert over the document. ComputerCOP further claims an apparently nonexistent endorsement by the American Civil Liberties Union and an expired endorsement from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.

Law enforcement agencies have purchased a poor product, slapped their trusted emblems on it, and passed it on to everyday people. It’s time for those law enforcement agencies to take away ComputerCOP’s badge.

Click here for a list of agencies that have distributed ComputerCOP.

Click here for a guide to removing ComputerCOP from your computer.

What is ComputerCOP?

Bo Dietl's One Tough Computer Cop (Source: UCSF Library)

In an era when hackers use botnets, zero day exploits, and sophisticated phishing to compromise billions of online accounts, ComputerCOP is a software relic that not only offers little protection, but may actually expose your child’s (and potentially your) most sensitive information to danger.

ComputerCOP’s interface is a throwback to an earlier, clunkier age of computing. Indeed, its origins trace back 15 years, when software companies began to target a new demographic: parents worried about their children’s exposure to all manner of danger and inappropriate material on the Internet.

When ComputerCOP debuted in the late 1990s, its original title was “Bo Dietl’s One Tough ComputerCOP,” which capitalized on the fame of celebrity New York detective, Bo Dietl, who had just had his career adapted into a major motion picture, “One Tough Cop,” starring Stephen Baldwin.  At the time, the program could only perform basic forensic searches of hard drives, but in the early 2000s, Bo Dietl’s toughness was dropped from the title and a keylogger was added to the “deluxe” version of the package. 

EFF obtained copies of ComputerCOP and related materials from law enforcement agencies on the East Coast, West Coast, and in Texas. Each one was branded to the specific department, but the software package was otherwise the same, containing two main elements:

ComputerCOP's image search (OS version) turned up a haystack of 19,000 files

"Basic" Search Functions: ComputerCOP’s search utility does not require installation and can run right off the CD-ROM. The tool allows the user to review recent images and videos downloaded to the computer, but it will also scan the hard drive looking for documents containing phrases in ComputerCOP’s dictionary of thousand of keywords related to drugs, sex, gangs, and hate groups. While that feature may sound impressive, in practice the software is unreliable. On some computer systems, it produces a giant haystack of false positives, including flagging items as innocuous as raw computer code. On other systems, it will only produce a handful of results while typing keywords such as "drugs" into Finder or File Explorer will turn up a far larger number of hits.  While the marketing materials claim that this software will allow you to view what web pages your child visits, that's only true if the child is using Internet Explorer or Safari. The image search will potentially turn up tens of thousands of hits because it can't distinguish between images children have downloaded and the huge collection of icons and images that are typically part of the software on your computer.

Interface for installing ComputerCOP keylogger

KeyAlert: ComputerCOP’s KeyAlert keylogging program does require installation and, if the user isn’t careful, it will collect keystrokes from all users of the computer, not just children. When running on a Windows machine, the software stores full key logs unencrypted on the user’s hard drive. When running on a Mac, the software encrypts these key logs on the user's hard drive, but these can be decrypted with the underlying software's default password. On both Windows and Mac computers, parents can also set ComputerCOP up to email them whenever chosen keywords are typed. When that happens, the software transmits the key logs, unencrypted, to a third-party server, which then sends the email. KeyAlert is in included in the "deluxe," "premium," and "presentation" versions of the software.

The keylogger is problematic on multiple levels. In general, keyloggers are commonly a tool of spies, malicious hackers, and (occasionally) nosy employers. ComputerCOP does not have the ability to distinguish between children and adults, so law enforcement agencies that distribute the software are also giving recipients the tools to spy on other adults who use a shared computer, such as spouses, roommates, and coworkers. ComputerCOP addresses this issue with a pop-up warning that using it on non-consenting adults could run afoul of criminal laws, but that’s about it.

The lack of encryption is even more troubling. Security experts universally agree that a user should never store passwords and banking details or other sensitive details unprotected on one’s hard drive, but that’s exactly what ComputerCOP does by placing everything someone types in a folder. The email alert system further weakens protections by logging into a third-party commercial server. When a child with ComputerCOP installed on their laptop connects to public Wi-Fi, any sexual predator, identity thief, or bully with freely available packet-sniffing software can grab those key logs right out of the air.

Example of intercepted, unencrypted keylogs using Wireshark, a free packet sniffer

The software does not appear in any of the major malware/spyware databases we tested, so it can’t be detected with a normal virus scan. 

Eight months ago, we contacted Stephen DelGiorno, the head of ComputerCOP operations, and informed him of these problems. He denied there was an issue.

“ComputerCOP software doesn’t give sexual predator [sic] or identity thieves more access to children’s computers, as our .key logger [sic] works with the existing email and Internet access services that computer user has already engaged,” he wrote via email.

He further said that ComputerCOP would update the software's licensing agreement to say "that no personal information is obtained nor stored by ComputerCOP."

These are unacceptable, and fairly nonsensical, answers from a company that claims to be a leader in child safety software. Even if the company isn't storing data, as it claims, information captured by the keylogger still passes through a commercial server when the target types a keyword. Further, the keylogger actually may undermine other services' security measures.

Some of the most common online services, such as Facebook, Twitter, and Gmail (as well as most financial sites), use HTTPS by default, automatically encrypting communications between users and those websites. In fact, one of the truly effective tools parents can use to protect their children is HTTPS Everywhere, an EFF plug-in that makes an Internet browser connect by default to secure versions of websites.

But HTTPS is rendered ineffective with ComputerCOP, because ComputerCOP captures text as it is being typed, before it has been encrypted. While HTTPS is protecting the users' connection to a website, ComputerCOP separately transmits that same communication unprotected whenever a keyword is triggered.

In EFF’s testing, we were able to snatch passwords (faked ones, of course) with shocking ease.

Law Enforcement and ComputerCOP

Privacy info. This embed will serve content from youtube-nocookie.com

A compilation of ComputerCOP promotional videos

“The ComputerCOP outreach program is the best way for Parents/Guardians to monitor their children’s activity online and bring positive media attention to your Office,” DelGiorno writes in the first line of the form letter his company sends to law enforcement agencies.

ComputerCOP’s business model works like this: the company contracts with police and district attorneys around the country, particularly ones that have federal grants or special funds to spend, such as asset forfeiture windfalls (police often describe this as money seized from drug dealers). Agencies then buy the software in bulk, usually between 1,000 and 5,000 at a time, and give it out for free in their communities. Agencies often tell the press that the software has a value of $40, even though they pay only a few bucks per copy and the software is not available through any major online store other than eBay (where surplus new copies are going for as little as $.99). Even ComputerCOP’s online store is currently broken.

There is no official central repository for data about which agencies have purchased the software, how many copies they’ve distributed, or how much they have spent. Based on ComputerCOP’s own online map of agencies, as well as online searches and public records requests, we have identified approximately 245 agencies in more than 35 states that purchased ComputerCOP. (After we began our investigation, ComputerCOP took the map offline, promising an updated one soon.)

In February, DelGiorno told EFF the keystroke-logging feature was a recent addition to the software and that most of the units he’s sold did not include the feature. That doesn’t seem to jibe with ComputerCOP’s online footprint. Archive.org’s WayBack Machine shows that keystroke capture was advertised on ComputerCOP.com as far back as 2001. Although some versions of ComputerCOP do not have the keylogger function, scores of press releases and regional news articles from across the country discuss the software’s ability to capture a child’s conversations.

Among the most notable in the last two years: the Maricopa County Attorney's Office in Arizona, the San Diego District Attorney's Office in California, the Jackson County Sheriff's Office in Missouri and the Bexar County District Attorney’s Office in Texas each purchased 5,000 copies at a cost of $25,000 per agency.  Bexar County even has an interactive map on its website showing the dozens of locations where ComputerCOP can be picked up for free.

ComputerCOP promotional poster

Other agencies have purchased the software in even larger quantities. In 2008, the Highlands County Sheriff in Florida spent $42,000 to purchase 10,000 copies, or, as one newspaper put it, “enough computer disks for every parent of every school child in Highlands County.” The Alaska Department of Public Safety bought enough copies for it to be available at every "school, public library and police agency" in the state.

Since 2007, Suffolk County Sheriff Vincent DeMarco’s office in New York, where ComputerCOP is based, has bought 43,000 copies of the software—a fact trumpeted in DeMarco’s reelection campaign materials. ComputerCOP’s parent company directly donated to DeMarco’s campaign at least nine times over the same period.

Indeed, ComputerCOP markets itself as the “perfect election and fundraising tool.” As part of the package, when a law enforcement agency buys a certain amount of copies, ComputerCOP will send out a camera crew to record an introduction video with the head of the department. The discs are also customized to prominently feature the head of the agency, who can count on a solid round of local press coverage about the giveaway.

Delgiorno also said he would contact his accountant to get a list of which agencies purchased which version of ComputerCOP (i.e. the versions with the keylogger versus those without). Eight months later, we're still waiting.

Dubious Claims

ComputerCOP letter, 2011

Through a public records act request, EFF obtained a copy of the marketing materials submitted by ComputerCOP to the Harris County District Attorney’s office in Texas, which purchased 5,000 copies in 2011. The documents reveal several dubious and outdated claims.

For one, ComputerCOP claims that it is endorsed by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and that it is the only software product supported by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC). 

When asked about the origin of the ACLU endorsement, DelGiorno told EFF that someone from the ACLU recommended the software in a Newsday article as the “most non-intrusive of the products as it did not filter web pages nor block user access to them.” EFF contacted Newsday, which was unable to locate any such article, as well several branches of the ACLU, all of which denied any such endorsement.

On the eve of publication of this report, DelGiorno told reporter Alice Brennan at Fusion that the endorsement came from Kary Moss, executive director of the ACLU of Michigan, citing a 2005 story in the Detroit Free Press. However, in the article, Moss is endorsing the idea that parents should take responsibility for monitoring their children as opposed to relying on the government to act as a babysitter.

“I can say unequivocally that it was not an endorsement of the product," ACLU of Michigan Deputy Director Rana Elmir told EFF. "Our position as an organization is not to endorse technology like this.”

NCMEC told EFF that in 1998 it did allow ComputerCOP to use its name for a one-year period, but has not had any contact with the company over the last 15 years. A NCMEC attorney said the organization was unaware that ComputerCOP was still advertising its imprimatur and that it would tell ComputerCOP to stop using it immediately.

In its promotional packet, ComputerCOP includes a letter from the Treasury Executive Office for Asset Forfeiture, in which the head of the division calls the software an “effective law enforcement aid” and a “valid crime prevention tool” that will “identify and locate perpetrators and possibly missing children.” The uncharacteristically positive nature of the letter caused EFF to examine it closer and, as it turns out, the document had been significantly altered.

Letter marked "fraudulent" by Treasury Dept.

In an email exchange, DelGiorno acknowledged that ComputerCOP had taken a prior letter from the Treasury Department, highlighted text and “recreated the letterhead to make more it presentable for other agencies to view.” In doing so, ComputerCOP removed the 2001 date stamp from the letter. As a result, law enforcement agencies were unaware that the letter was outdated by more than a decade and that the agency head who signed it had long left office.1

Through the Freedom of Information Act, EFF is seeking the unaltered letter, as well as any material ComputerCOP submitted to the Treasury Department. So far the agency has been unable to locate those file and ComputerCOP would not provide a copy of the original letter to EFF.  

However, after we submitted the suspicious letter to the Treasury Department, the Treasury Department’s Inspector General issued a fraud alert over ComputerCOP, including a copy of the letter with the words “Fraudulent Document” stamped on it in red.

ComputerCOP Conclusions

We estimate somewhere between a few hundred thousand and more than a million copies of ComputerCOP have been purchased by law enforcement agencies across the United States, but it’s difficult to say how many individual people have been exposed by the software’s vulnerabilities.

In our tests, ComputerCOP was so unwieldy to use that it’s possible that very few people actually use it. But even if it’s a pointless giveaway from the police, it’s still being purchased with our tax dollars and other public funds. As law enforcement agencies around the country face budgetary shortfalls, spending $25,000 on an ineffective product is not only unwise, but fiscally irresponsible.

Law enforcement agencies should cease distributing copies immediately and tell parents not to use it. Any local media outlet that reported on ComputerCOP should consider alerting parents to its dangers. The Treasury Department should reexamine its approval of ComputerCOP as a permissible use of funds from the federal equitable sharing program.

There are certainly risks for kids on the Internet, and indeed for adults too. Let’s not make it easier for villains with bogus safeguards.

EFF Staff Technologist Jeremy Gillula and Web Developer Bill Budington conducted the security analysis of this software.

Clarification: In the third to last paragraph we added "and other public funds" to clarify that law enforcement agencies use a variety of funding sources to purchase the software, including seized assets, appropriations from governing bodies, federal grants and the rare private donation to an agency.

  • 1. In 2010, the Treasury Department did issue a new letter authorizing ComputerCOP as a permissible use of asset forfeiture money, but this time the department clearly stated that it does not endorse the product “in any way” and that law enforcement agencies should make sure that the software does not run afoul of local laws.
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Serial Litigant Blue Spike Wins September’s Stupid Patent of the Month

eff.org - Wed, 01/10/2014 - 04:40

Blue Spike LLC is a patent litigation factory. At one point, it filed over 45 cases in two weeks. It has sued a who’s who of technology companies, ranging from giants to startups, Adobe to Zeitera. Blue Spike claims not to be a troll, but any legitimate business it has pales in comparison to its patent litigation. It says it owns a “revolutionary technology” it refers to as “signal abstracting.” On close inspection, however, its patents1 turn out to be nothing more than a nebulous wish list. Blue Spike’s massive litigation campaign is a perfect example of how vague and abstract software patents tax innovation.

The basic idea behind Blue Spike’s patents is creating a digital fingerprint (which the patents refer to as an “abstract”) of a file that allows it to be compared to other files (e.g. comparing audio files to see if they are the same song). In very general terms, the patents describe creating a “reference generator,” an “object locator,” a “feature selector,” a “comparing device,” and a “recorder.” You will be amazed to learn that these five elements “may be implemented with software.” That task, however, is left for the reader.

Even worse, Blue Spike has refused to define the key term in its patents: “abstract.” In a recent filing, it wrote that even though the term “abstract” is “a central component to each of the patents,” a single definition of this term is “impossible to achieve.” This is a remarkable admission. How are defendants (or the public, for that matter) supposed to know if they infringe a patent when the central claim term is impossible to define? This is a perfect illustration of a major problem with software patents: vague and abstract claim language that fails to inform the public about patent scope.

Admitting that the key claim term in your patent is “impossible” to define is probably not a great litigation strategy. And the defendants in some of Blue Spike’s cases have already protested that this means the patents are invalid. The defendants should win this argument (especially since a recent Supreme Court decision tightened the standards applied to vague and ambiguous patents). Though regardless of whether the defendants prevail, Blue Spike’s litigation campaign has already imposed massive costs.

Blue Spike’s patents illustrate another major problem with software patents: vague descriptions of the "invention" that provide no practical help for someone trying to build a useful implementation. This is why many software engineers hold patents in low regard. As one programmer told This American Life, even his own patents were little more than “mumbo jumbo, which nobody understands, and which makes no sense from an engineering standpoint.” You can judge for yourself, but we contend that Blue Spike’s patents consist similarly of little more than legalese and hand waving.

Real products take hard work. A commercially successful product like the Shazam app (one of Blue Spike’s many targets) is likely to consist of tens of thousands lines of code. Actually writing and debugging that code can require months of effort from dozens of engineers (not to mention the fundraising, marketing, and other tasks that go into making a real-world product successful). In contrast, it's easy to suggest that someone create a "comparison device" that "may be implemented with software."

Last month, we selected a bizarre patent to illustrate that the Patent Office conducts a cursory review of applications. In contrast, this month’s winner is not so unusual. In fact, Blue Spike’s patents are typical of the kind of software patent that we see in litigation. That such a low-quality patent family could fuel over 100 cases is a stark illustration of the problem with software patents.

Dishonorable mentions:

US 8,838,476 Systems and methods to provide information and connect people for real time communications (a patent on presenting an advertisement at the outset of a “telephonic connection”)

US 8,838,479 System and method for enabling an advertisement to follow the user to additional web pages (Lots of patentese that says put an ad in a frame and keep the frame constant as the rest of the page changes. Awesome.)

US 8,818,932 Method and apparatus for creating a predictive model (this patent claims to apply the “scientific method” to “the problem of predicting and preventing violence against U.S. and friendly forces” and includes hopelessly vague claim language such as “verifying causal links” and “utilizing the social models to … predict future behavior”)

  • 1. Blue Spike owns a family of four patents – US 7,346,472, US 7,660,700, US 7,949,494, and US 8,214,175 – all titled “Method and Device for Monitoring and Analyzing Signals.” These patents share the same specification which means they describe the same supposed invention but include slightly different patent claims. We award the entire patent family our Stupid Patent of the Month prize.
Files:  blue_spike_v_texas_instruments_complaint.pdf blue_spike_claim_construction_brief.pdf blue_skpike_defs_msj_on_invalidity.pdfRelated Issues: PatentsPatent TrollsInnovation
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EFF Intervenes in Canadian Court Case to Protect Free Speech Online

eff.org - Wed, 01/10/2014 - 03:58
No Single Country Should Have Veto Power Over Global Search Results

Vancouver, Canada - The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) filed a brief with the British Columbia Court of Appeal in Canada on Monday weighing in on a ruling that Google must block certain entire websites from its search results around the world.

EFF intervened in Equustek Solutions v. Morgan Jack after a trial court ruled in June that Google must remove links to full websites that contained pages selling a product that allegedly infringed trade secret rights. The injunction not only applied to Google's Canada-specific search, Google.ca, but to all of its searches around the world. Google had offered to remove 345 URLs but would not block the entire category of websites, because they contained pages that "may be used for any number of innocent purposes."

Such a broad injunction sets a dangerous precedent, especially where the injunction is likely to conflict with the laws of other nations. In its brief, EFF explains how the trial court's injunction decision would have likely violated the U.S. Constitution and constituted an improper "mandatory injunction" under case law in California, where Google is based. By blocking entire websites, Canadian courts potentially censor innocent content that U.S. Internet users have a constitutional right to receive.

"The scope of the Canadian court's order could chill speech across the Internet," EFF Staff Attorney Vera Ranieri said. "If a Canadian court is able to block search results around the world, it sets a precedent that nations with authoritarian restrictions on speech can also impose their own rules on the global Internet."

"We hope the court considers how the ruling affects the public interest in free expression," EFF Intellectual Property Director Corynne McSherry said. "No single country should have veto power over Internet speech."

EFF filed the brief with the assistance of pro bono counsel David Wotherspoon of Fasken Martineau DuMoulin, LLP. The appeal will be argued over three days in the last week of October.

For the filing:

https://www.eff.org/document/eff-factum-equustek-v-morgan-jack

Contacts:

Vera Ranieri
   Staff Attorney
   Electronic Frontier Foundation
   vera@eff.org


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Shedding a Little Sunlight On a Trademark Bully

eff.org - Wed, 01/10/2014 - 02:57

Another day, another stupid trademark threat. The target this time? The Sunlight Foundation, a nonprofit dedicated to promoting government transparency. As part of its work, it posts detailed information about corporate campaign contributions, information that often includes logos associated with those corporations. One of those corporations, Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu, objected, and asked that Sunlight remove its logos. The note was quite polite for a takedown, stressing that Deloitte had no objection to the other content on the site (gee, thanks guys!). But polite or not, it's a note that would be pretty intimidating for most individuals, nonprofits, and small businesses who don't have easy access to a lawyer.

Fortunately, Sunlight was not intimidated. They reached out to EFF, and today we responded on their behalf. As we explained, no person could possibly be confused as to whether Deloitte endorses the Sunlight Foundation or its activities. Moreover, it is well-settled that the First Amendment fully protects the use of trademarked terms and logos in non-commercial websites that comment upon corporations and products. Sunlight's site is a clear example such protected expression. These are all points that Deloitte could have figured out for itself, if it had bothered to give the matter a moment's thought.

That is what is particularly chilling about this takedown. Too often, we see this kind of casual censorship, where owners, (or their agents) shoot off complaints against any use of their marks, without regard for the consequences. Mindless over-enforcement is unnecessary, burdensome, and feeds a censorship culture. It has to stop.

A first step is for Deloitte, and other trademark owners, to adopt enforcement policies that explicitly recognize that their trademark rights do not and cannot trump the First Amendment. Imagine the impact on free speech if you needed a “grant of permission” from BP, Coca-Cola, or EFF before using one of their trademarks as part of speech commenting on their conduct. Fortunately, we don’t live in such a world; no one needs to seek permission for every use of a name or logo.

The second step is for mark owners to finally reject the notion that a mark-holder must enforce its mark in every instance or risk losing it. Quite simply, the view that a trademark holder must trawl the internet and respond to every unauthorized use (or even every infringing use) is a myth. The circumstances under which a company could actually lose a trademark—such as abandonment and genericide—are quite limited. Pretending otherwise is great for some trademark lawyers' bottom lines, but it's irritating and expensive for everyone else. And when done clumsily or maliciously, it chills free expression. Rejecting the myth would not only help the public, it should reduce also mark-holders' legal bills. Win-win, right? Right.

 

Files:  lttdeloitte.pdfRelated Issues: Fair Use and Intellectual Property: Defending the BalanceNo Downtime for Free Speech
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Notice to my readers

sjlendman.blogspot.com - Tue, 30/09/2014 - 09:25
Hospitalized at Northwestern Memorial Hospital, Chicago Monday evening for a skin infection. Hopefully for 2 or 3 days only to clear it up.

Obama's Phony War on Islamic State Militants

sjlendman.blogspot.com - Tue, 30/09/2014 - 06:09
Obama's Phony War on Islamic State Militants
by Stephen Lendman
Obama murders civilian men, women and children he calls militants. Terrorists. Eyewitnesses explain otherwise. More on this below.
He lied claiming he'll degrade and destroy IS's fighting capability. He supports it instead. Previous articles explained.
They're US proxies. Shock troops. Foot soldiers. Boots on the ground. US special forces and CIA operatives train them in Jordan and Turkey.
They're taught effective ways to kill. Dirty ways. Using chemical weapons. Committing atrocities. Including beheadings and other barbarian acts.
Syrian targets struck aren't Islamic State ones. They include vital infrastructure, oil facilities, grain silos with food, empty buildings, residential homes and noncombatant men, women and children.
Exact numbers killed and injured aren't clear. Various estimates differ. The toll rises daily.
On September 23, the Los Angeles Times headlined "Syrians say civilians killed in US airstrikes," explaining:
Video evidence from Northwestern Syria "shows Idlib province residents going through motions that have become all too familiar in three years of civil war between antigovernment rebels and the forces of President Bashar Assad…"
They're "surveying the remnants of flattened homes and picking through the debris."
"This time" Washington bears full responsibility. One Syrian perhaps spoke for others, saying:
"Mass destruction (was inflicted on) civilian homes as a result of the strikes of the Western alliance on the civilians in the western Idlib suburbs. Look, it is all civilian homes."
So-called Pentagon photographic evidence is fake. Claiming IL targets were struck is false.
Scores of so-called attacks against it in Iraq haven't scratched its capability. Nor have they in Syria. Nor will they. Nor are they intended to. Obama lied claiming otherwise. 
According to the Times:
Syrians say "as many as two dozen civilians were killed…" As of six days ago. Likely dozens more perished in daily strikes since then.
Washington considers civilians legitimate targets in all its wars. Millions perished in Afghanistan. Millions more in Iraq Wars I, II plus years of sanctions.
Libya claimed well over 100,000 lives. Perhaps double or triple that number. No one knows for sure.
Obama's Iraq and Syrian wars may claim millions before they end.Washington doesn't keep body counts. Independent sources estimate best they can.
Syrians fear US bombings for good reason. They're in harm's way. They're afraid they'll be struck.
One Syrian resident said IS fighters dispersed. So did other militants. They left areas likely to be targeted. Civilians suffered most casualties.
Lt. General William Mayville heads US Joint Chiefs of Staff operations. He lied claiming no knowledge "of any civilian casualties."
He's fully briefed on daily operations. "If any reports of civilian casualties emerge, we will fully investigate," he said.
So-called Pentagon investigations cover up, deny and obfuscate. It's longstanding operational procedure. 
It suppresses crimes of war and against humanity. It conceals dirty war. Its atrocities. Without mercy. Without restraint. Without regard for rule of law principles, standards and norms.
On September 28, Human Rights Watch (HRW) headlined "US/Syria: Investigate Possible Unlawful US Strikes," saying:
Idlib airstrikes killed at least eight civilians. They "should be investigated for possible violations of the laws of war."
Pentagon spokesman John Kirby lied, claiming "no credible reporting from operational sources" of civilian deaths. Syrians able to observe dead men, women and children explained otherwise.
"Three local residents told Human Rights Watch that missiles killed at least two men, two women, and five children, in the early morning hours on September 23 in the village of Kafr Deryan in northern Idlib," said HRW.
US wars normalize the unthinkable. Civilian lives don't matter. Crimes of war and against humanity are considered collateral damage.
Residents said missiles struck two homes in Kafr Deryan. They killed at least five children, two women and two men…"
According to HRW: "The reported killing of at least seven civilians in strikes in which there may have been no legitimate military target nearby raises concerns that the strikes were unlawful under the laws of war and should be investigated."
Expect whitewash instead. It's standard US practice. Hegemons don't admit culpability. Or say they're sorry. They blame victims for their crimes.
Residents said "there there were no Jabhat al-Nusra buildings, checkpoints, or vehicles in the vicinity of the strike in the village," said HRW,
Pentagon officials knew it. They spent weeks gathering intelligence. Choosing targets. 
Striking homes with civilians shows contempt for human lives. It shows America wages dirty wars. It kills indiscriminately.
Its sanctimonious objectives are false. Hypocritical. Big Lies. War crimes and then some. Expect lots more ahead.
HRW listed victims by names. They weren't terrorists. They were innocent victims in harm's way.
"Video footage posted on YouTube on September 23 by a local activist who spoke to Human Rights Watch shows some of the civilians injured in the strikes and the aftermath of the attacks," said HRW. 
"Another video posted by the Shaam News Network showed three children, two who appear to have been killed, and one who appears to have been injured in the missile strikes." 
"An additional video, posted on YouTube by the local activist who spoke to Human Rights Watch, shows two children being rushed to receive medical treatment in the aftermath of the attack, and another shows an adult victim being pulled out of the rubble."
A Kafr Deryan resident said "six additional civilians - three children and three women - were also killed in the strikes on the villages but Human Rights Watch was unable to verify this claim," according to HRW.
"He said that approximately 15 others, including women and children, were injured."
Three Kafr Deryan residents said "civilians were all killed when missiles struck their homes directly, and two of the residents said they had seen weapons remnants at the site of the destroyed homes, suggesting that the strikes directly caused the fatalities," according to HRW.
Another said "he was at the scene of the attack on the two residences about 10 minutes after the strikes and that he and other activists collected the remnants from the weapons used in the strikes and videotaped them and posted some of the footage of the aftermath of the strikes on YouTube." 
HRW said it "reviewed his footage and has identified the remnants as debris of a turbofan engine from a Tomahawk cruise missile, a weapon that only the US and British governments have."
"Witness accounts suggest that the attack on the village harmed civilians but did not strike a military target, violating the laws of war by failing to discriminate between combatants and civilians, or that it unlawfully caused civilian loss disproportionate to the expected military advantage," it added.
"The US government should investigate credible allegations of violations of the laws of war, such the strikes on Kafr Deryan, and publish its findings…"
"In the event of wrongdoing, the United States should ensure accountability and provide appropriate redress." 
"Further, the United States should take all feasible precautions to minimize harm to civilians in future attacks."
Obama ordered Iraqi and Syrian airstrikes lawlessly. He did so preemptively. With no legal authority. 
No Security Council approval. No congressional declaration of war. No adversary threatening America. Doing so constitutes high criminality against peace.
Indiscriminately killing noncombatant men, women and children adds more high crimes to his rap sheet. He's guilty as charged. 
He remains unaccountable. He operates this way. He gives rogue leadership new meaning. He's unapologetic. He blames victims for his crimes.
Expect lots more mass slaughter and destruction before his Iraqi and Syrian wars end. High crimes against peace. The supreme crime. Genocide. It's the American way.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. 
His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."
http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanIII.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 three times weekly: live on Sundays at 1PM Central time plus two prerecorded archived programs. 

Obama Targets Free Expression

sjlendman.blogspot.com - Mon, 29/09/2014 - 23:43
Obama Targets Free Expression
by Stephen Lendman
Speech, press and academic freedoms are fundamental. They're our most precious rights. Without them all others are endangered.
Candidate Obama pledged "change you can believe in." He promised hope. He did Lincoln one better. He fooled most people enough times to matter.
"Yes we can" conceals his dark side duplicity. He made America look like Guatemala. He transformed NSA into America's Stasi.
He promised transparency, accountability, and reform. Sunlight is the best disinfectant. 
He called it "the best source of information about waste, fraud, and abuse." He said whistleblowing reflects "acts of courage and patriotism."
"Often the best source of information about (government wrongdoing) is an existing employee committed to public integrity willing to speak out."
"We need to empower federal employees as watchdogs of wrongdoing and partners in performance."
He promised "strengthen(ed) whistleblower laws to protect federal workers who expose waste, fraud, and abuse of authority in government."
He stressed "(g)overnment should be transparent. (He claimed he) promotes accountability and provides information for citizens about what their government is doing."
He said one thing. He did another. He broke every major promise made. He gave information control new meaning. 
His administration is more Stalinist than democratic. He wants free flowing information stifled. He wants total control over what's made public. 
He wants unprecedented amounts of government information classified to conceal what's vital for everyone to know.
He monitors journalists. He accesses their phone records. He reads their emails. He tracks their personal movements.
He's gives police state control new meaning. He wants nothing he demands suppressed revealed.
He's obsessed with secrecy. He wants government wrongdoing concealed. Whistleblowers are criminalized for doing their job. Independent journalism is threatened.
The late Helen Thomas (1920 - 2013) covered five decades of US administrations. She began during the Kennedy years.
In July 2009, she complained about Obama. She called his press-controlling efforts unprecedented.
"It's shocking. It's really shocking," she said. "What the hell do they think we are, puppets?" 
"They're supposed to stay out of our business. They are our public servants. We pay them." Press control is worse than ever before, she said.
"Nixon didn't try to do that. They couldn't control (the media). They didn't try."
"I'm not saying there has never been managed news before, but this is carried to (a) fare-thee-well for town halls, the press conferences. It's blatant." 
"They don't give a damn if you know it or not. They ought to be hanging their heads in shame."
Obama disgraces the office he holds. He presides of a homeland police state apparatus. He exceeds the worst of his predecessors. 
Mass surveillance became institutionalized on his watch. Rule of law principles don't matter. 
Business as usual takes precedence. Constitutional protections are irrelevant. Fundamental rights are dying.
Press freedom is endangered on his watch. It's targeted for elimination altogether. 
Obama wants Big Brother watching everyone. He wants content censored. He wants thought control.
He wants dissent crushed. He wants digital democracy destroyed. He wants truth and full disclosure suppressed.
He wants journalists closely watched. He wants their reporting monitored. He wants their dispatches censored.
An "Insider Threat Program" requires all federal employees help prevent unauthorized leaks. It's done by colleagues monitoring each other. 
Everybody is supposed to watch everyone else. Doing so gives Big Brother new meaning.
It heightens paranoia. It makes government employees cautious about who they see and what they say.
Since 2009, six government employees, two contractors, and Edward Snowden faced criminal prosecutions. They were charged with leaking classified information to the press.
Other federal employees are being investigated. A climate of fear exists. Journalists and sources are reluctant to share information.
New York Times reporter Scott Shane said he's "scared to death. (W)e have a real problem."
"Most people are deterred by those leaks prosecutions. There's a gray zone between classified and unclassified information."
"(M)ost sources are in it. It’s having a deterrent effect." 
"If we consider aggressive press coverage of government activities being at the core of American democracy, this tips the balance heavily in favor of the government." 
Times correspondent David Sanger called the Obama administration "the most closed, control freak (one he) ever covered."
AP senior managing editor Michael Oreskes:
"Sources are more jittery and more standoffish, not just in national security reporting. A lot of skittishness is at the more routine level." 
"The Obama administration has been extremely controlling and extremely resistant to journalistic intervention." 
"There's a mind-set and approach that holds journalists at a greater distance."
Washington-based Financial Times correspondent Richard McGregor said:
"Covering this White House is pretty miserable in terms of getting anything of substance to report on in what should be a much more open system."
CBS Washington correspondent Bob Schieffer calls the Obama administration "the most manipulative and secretive (he ever) covered."
On September 24, RT International headlined "White House accused of censoring dispatches from pool reporters," saying:
Washington Post media reporter Paul Farhi said White House staffers demand changes in press-pool content.
They "steer coverage in a more favorable direction." Their meddling "represents a troubling trend…"
"(It) prompted their main representative, the White House Correspondents' Association, to consider revising its approach to pool reporting."
It was created a decade ago. A handful of reporters are proxies or "poolers." They represent the entire press corp.
They're chosen from among regular White House correspondents. They serve on a rotating basis. They share information with their colleagues.
Before doing so, they "send their files to the White House press office…(It) forwards them via email to a database of thousands of recipients…"
They include "news outlets, federal agencies and congressional offices."
The process lets White House staffers read pool reports in advance, flag objectionable content, and demand removal before distribution to other recipients.
Obama wants final say on pool reporters' content. His policy constitutes brazen censorship.
Longtime National Journal contributing editor Tom DeFrank said "the White House has no right to touch a pool report." 
"It's none of their business. If they want to challenge something by putting out a statement of their own, that’s their right." 
"It's also their prerogative to jawbone a reporter, which often happens. But they have no right to alter a pool report unilaterally."
According to White House Correspondents' Association (WHCA) president/Los Angeles Times reporter Christi Parsons:
"The independence of the print pool reports is of utmost importance to us. Our expectation is that the White House puts out the pool report and asks questions later."
It compromises independent journalism. It micro-manages. It criticizes trivial details. It wants final say on content. It targets press freedom.
Last year, AP, the Washington Post, ABC News, USA Today, McClatchy newspapers and other news outlets wrote the White House.
They'll no longer publish executive branch issued images, they said. They cited interference with their own photojournalists.
They're unwelcome at official events. They're increasingly shut out. Obama's photography team alone gets free access.
Their letter read in part:
"As surely as if they were placing a hand over a journalist’s camera lens, officials in this administration are blocking the public from having an independent view of important functions of the Executive Branch of government."
Censoring content compromises pool reporting. Deputy press secretary Eric Schultz lied, saying:
"We value the role of the independent press pool, which provides timely, extensive, and important coverage of the president and his activities while at the White House and around the world." 
"That is why, at the request of the White House Correspondents Association, the White House has distributed 20,000 pool reports in the past six years, and we will continue to offer that facilitation for journalists as they work to chronicle the presidency."
Pool reporters and other journalists explain otherwise. Obama is obsessed with secrecy. 
He wants free-flowing information stifled.  AP reporter Sally Buzbee complained about White House staffers blocking information they want concealed.
Buzbee commented on Obama's Iraq and Syrian wars. White House staffers block information on them. "The public can't see any of it," she said.
"News organizations can't shoot photos or video of bombers as they take off. There are no embeds. In fact, the administration won't even say what country the (US) bombers fly from."
In April, the Thomas Jefferson Center (TJC) for the Protection of Free Expression awarded the White House press office and Department of Justice its annual "Jefferson Muzzle."
It "draw(s) national attention to abridgments of free speech and press and, at the same time, foster an appreciation for those tenets of the First Amendment."
According to TJC director Josh Wheeler:
"From the White House to the statehouse, from universities to high schools, members of the press have had to defend against a variety of challenges, some never seen before."
Prior muzzle winners included George HW Bush's White House, Clinton's administration, GW Bush's 2000 presidential campaign and key members of his cabinet.
TJC's web site says:
"Since 1992, it "celebrated the birth and ideals of its namesake by calling attention to those who in the past year forgot or disregarded Mr. Jefferson's admonition that freedom of speech 'cannot be limited without being lost.' "
It's eroding in plain sight. It's headed for elimination altogether. 
Police states operate this way. Obama gives rogue leadership new meaning.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. 
His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."
http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanIII.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 three times weekly: live on Sundays at 1PM Central time plus two prerecorded archived programs. 

America: Humanity's Greatest Threat

sjlendman.blogspot.com - Mon, 29/09/2014 - 21:12
America: Humanity's Greatest Threat
by Stephen Lendman
It bears repeating what other articles stressed. No nation in world history caused more harm to more people over a longer duration than America.
None more give rogue state governance new meaning. None wage more wars. None more affirm them as official policy. 
Permanent ones. Aggressive ones. Lawless ones. Preemptive ones against invented enemies posing America no harm.
No nation more recklessly threatens world peace. None more egregiously breach fundamental rule of law principles. 
None are more ruthless. More reckless. More malicious. More merciless. More brutal. More barbarous. More sanctimonious.
None more contemptuously flout human and civil rights. Or proliferate more Big Lies harming millions worldwide.
None more reprehensibly serve monied interests at the expense of popular ones. Or more self-righteously claim exceptionalism.
None more rampage globally. Or more threaten humanity's survival if its killing machine isn't stopped.
Paul Craig Roberts rightly calls "Washington's insistence on its hegemony" the world's "greatest threat to peace and life on earth." 
Neocon "psychopaths" infest Washington. They exert huge influence. They demand obedience. 
They want stooge regimes in place globally. They want subservient ones serving US interests. 
They deplore peace and stability. They want permanent wars. They want unchallenged global dominance. They stop at nothing to achieve it.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov is a world-class diplomat. A true peace champion. A tireless statesman to achieve it.
He told RT International America must stop acting unilaterally at the expense of other nations' interests.
It must "see the light and realize (it) can no longer act as the prosecutor, the judge and the executioner in every part of the world," he said.
Resolving vital issues requires cooperation, Lavrov explained. US-led NATO maintains destructive "Cold War mentality."
"…(F)oreign ministers of Germany, France and many other European countries (dislike) the current situation, but they simply can't abandon the position they've taken, namely, that it's all Russia's fault, that it was Russia (that) bought about the Ukraine crisis."
"The same thing happened three-and-a-half years ago, when the Syrian crisis broke out." US and European leaders refused to engage Assad responsibly.
He "has to go," they demanded. They violated "agreements we have, which makes us wonder whether it is even possible to have any agreements with them at all," said Lavrov.
They "botch(ed)" things on Ukraine. They rebuffed Moscow's attempts to resolve major issues diplomatically.
"They told us bluntly that their relationship with Ukraine is none of our business." The day before democratically elected President Viktor Yanukovych's ouster, opposition Ukrainian figures agreed to unity governance.
A new constitution. A presidential election before year's end. The next day, "radical forces stormed government buildings…" They acted lawlessly. They usurped putschist power. 
They "announced a new government…" They spurned unity. They instituted police state laws. 
Ukraine "needs comprehensive constitutional reform," said Lavrov. Months of crisis "shook the whole of Europe." 
Things are nowhere near resolved. Over 3,000 Ukrainians apply for temporary asylum in Russia daily. 
They don't believe fragile peace will hold. For good reasons. Fascist pro-Western stooges run things
They're beholden to Washington. They operate lawlessly. They're all take and no give. 
They can't be trusted. They say one thing. They do another. So-called peace is more fantasy than real. 
Conflict could resume any time. Expect it at Washington's discretion.
Its dirty hands bear full responsibility for crisis conditions. Rogue EU partners share it. For ousting Ukraine's democratically elected government.
For replacing it with fascist putschists. For stoking East/West confrontation. 
Lavrov said one of his foreign affairs colleagues said Cold War politics never ended. They're worse than ever now.
Putin and Obama are geopolitical opposites. They're world's apart. Their ideologies clash. They represent conflicting values.
Putin believes sovereign independence matters. It's inviolable. He supports multi-world polarity.
He opposes US imperial lawlessness. He affirms UN Charter and other rule of law principles.
Obama claims a divine right to wage permanent wars. To ravage and destroy one country after another. 
To pursue unchallenged global dominance. To risk the unthinkable doing so.
Separately, Lavrov said US-led NATO confrontation with Russia shows "the mentality of Cold War dies hard…"
NATO's "genetic code" to counter Russia is "still very much alive." America and other Western countries claim Russia threatens their societies. 
Truth is polar opposite. US-led NATO is humanity's greatest threat. At stake is world peace. It hangs by a thread.
On September 30, Anders Fogh Rasmussen's term as NATO's 12th secretary general ends. On September 26, his parting shot was belittling and threatening Moscow.
He lied saying "(i)t's quite clear that…Russia doesn't consider us a partner but an adversary. And, obviously, we…have to adapt to that."
He ludicrously claimed Moscow has a "master plan (to) establish a zone of Russian influence in their near neighborhood, covering the former Soviet space."
Nonsensically he said Baltic states feel threatened by Putin. He threatens no one. 
Claims otherwise are false. Malicious. Confrontational. Heightening tensions when efforts should prioritize cooling them. 
Resolving things responsibly. Going all-out for world peace, stability and security.
Washington demands otherwise. Rasmussen was its man in Brussels. A convenient stooge. New NATO head Jens Stoltenberg assumes the same capacity. Effective October 1.
He was chosen for that purpose. Carefully vetted. He won't disappoint. Expect Cold War politics to continue.
Washington prioritizes Russia bashing. Instead of engaging Putin responsibly, he's maligned as public enemy No. 1.
Rasmussen accused him and the Islamic State of creating "an arc of crisis" around NATO nations.
"We need a strong force for freedom," he hyperventilated. "That's why we need a strong NATO," he added.
It's a global killing machine. An imperial tool. A lawless one. A reckless one. A ruthless one. 
It prioritizes war. It deplores peace. It rapes and pillages one country after another.
It wants fundamental freedoms destroyed. Eliminated altogether. It threatens humanity's survival.
Rasmussen is complicit in high crimes against peace. He should be arrested, prosecuted and imprisoned.
He'll be honored for being Washington's man in Brussels. Feted for lawless NATO aggression. Lauded for imperial loyalty.
Waging war on humanity doesn't matter. Or violating core rule of law principles. Unbridled power counts most.
Enforcing it belligerently. Risking belligerent East/West confrontation. Possible global war. Humanity's survival.
America is the real Evil Empire. Recklessness defines its agenda. Its rage for war. WMDs to wage it, and global delivery systems making the unthinkable possible.
Obama represents the worst of rogue leadership. He governs lawlessly. He disgraces the office he holds. Removing him is a national imperative.
He's Machiavellian. Dangerous. Ruthless. Reckless. He abhors peace. He's more Dr. Strangelove than world leader. 
Stanley Kubrick's film satirically depicted a deranged general's obsession to wage nuclear war. Obama may be fool enough to launch one. 
Perhaps neocons infesting Washington intend one. They influence administration policies. 
Obama is titular head of government. Monied interests own him. He serves at their discretion.
He calls aggressive war preventive. Moral. The right thing to do. 
Pentagon May 2000 Joint Vision 2020 called for "full spectrum dominance" over all land, surface and sub-surface sea, air, space, electromagnetic spectrum and information systems. 
With enough overwhelming power to fight and win global wars against any adversary. Using nuclear weapons preemptively.
Washington's National Security Strategy (NSS) affirms it. So does its Nuclear Policy Review. 
Obama's 2010 NPR replicated Bush administration policies. It's old wine in new bottles. Rhetoric alone changed.
It said America "reserves the right" to use nuclear weapons "that may be warranted by the evolution and proliferation of the biological weapons threat and US capacities to counter that threat."
Joint Nuclear Operations doctrine remains unchanged. No distinction between defensive and offensive deterrents exists.
America's land and sea-based strategic bombers, land-based missiles, and ballistic missile submarines target potential rogue threats.
None exist. America's only enemies are ones it invents. To advance its imperium. Risking the unthinkable doing so.
Business as usual persists. World peace hangs by a thread. Washington is humanity's greatest threat. 
Stopping its killing machine matters most. Survival depends on it.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. 
His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."
http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanIII.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 three times weekly: live on Sundays at 1PM Central time plus two prerecorded archived programs. 

MSM Support Brazen Lawlessness

sjlendman.blogspot.com - Mon, 29/09/2014 - 04:02
MSM Support Brazen Lawlessness
by Stephen Lendman
International, constitutional and US statute laws aren't ambiguous. They don't leave wiggle room.
They're clear and unequivocal. No nation may attack another except in self-defense.
None may do so without Security Council approval. Presidents can't authorize war. Nor Congress. Nor US courts at the highest level.
Claims otherwise are false. America's last legal war was WW II. Obama's wars are brazenly lawless. 
They have no legitimacy whatever. They constitute premeditated naked aggression. They're Nuremberg-level crimes. The supreme crime against peace.
Don't expect media scoundrels to explain. They support what demands unequivocal denunciation. 
Failure to do so constitutes complicity with the highest of high crimes.
Media scoundrels cheerlead them. They regurgitate Big Lies doing so. Last week's headlines featured a so-called Khorasan Group. 
It's more fiction than fact. It's fake. Irresponsible fear-mongering gets people to believe otherwise. 
Posing a threat to Europe and America's heartland, it's claimed. Truth is polar opposite.
Last week's screaming MSM headlines said US warplanes targeted the secretive group's "training camps, an explosives and munitions production facility, a communications building and command and control facilities."
Islamic State, Nusra Front, Al Qaeda and similar groups wage guerrilla warfare. They have no standing armies.
They don't fight like traditional ones. Their forces are well dispersed. Their weapons aren't concentrated for easy targeting. 
So-called communications, command and control and training camp facilities struck were empty buildings.
Not according to Joint Chiefs of Staff director of operations Lt. General William Mayville Jr.
He hyped a fictitious group. He lied claiming its fighters were in the "final stages of plans to execute major attacks against Western targets and potentially the US homeland."
"We believe the Khorasan Group was nearing the execution phase of an attack either in Europe" or America.
A Pentagon statement said it "established a safe haven in Syria to develop external attacks, construct and test improvised explosive devices and recruit Westerners to conduct operations."
Media scoundrels regurgitated this rubbish like gospel. Without challenging it. Without demanding verifiable evidence.
Without refusing to publish without it. Without reporting what readers and viewers most need to know.
Fear-mongering substitutes. So do Big Lies. They suppress reality.
They're pretexts for militarism, wars of aggression, occupations, colonization, resource theft, and exploiting populations for profit.  
They reflect official US policy. Media scoundrels march in lockstep.
Claiming Middle East terrorist groups threaten America's heartland is nonsense. Rubbish.
Americans have more to fear from police brutality, air pollution, unsafe food and drugs, gun violence claiming tens of thousands of annual victims, and traffic fatalities killing from 30 - 50,000 or more annually for decades.
Don't expect media scoundrels to explain. Or tell readers what they most need to know about major world and national issues. Ones affecting their lives and well-being.
Or explain Washington's relationship with IS, Nusra Front, Al Qaeda and other extremist fighters. They're US shock troops. They're used against America's enemies. 
Against Gaddafi. Against Assad. Against any leader or sovereign government Washington wants toppled.
US special forces and CIA operatives train Islamic terrorists in Jordan and Turkey. They're deployed cross-border. They're sent to further America's regime change plans.
Bombing isn't to degrade and destroy them. It supports them. It targets Syrian infrastructure, oil facilities and empty buildings.
They're unrelated to defeating them. They're prelude to attacking Syrian targets. Perhaps Damascus. 
Perhaps with intent to kill Assad. Maybe other Syrian officials with him. Don't expect media scoundrels to explain.
Orwell did best saying "in times of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act." It's truer than ever today. 
Big Brother wages war on truth. Hot war on America's enemies. Not hot enough for Washington Post editors.
In mid-September, they headlined "The US strategy to defeat the Islamic State is underpowered," saying:
America's previous wars on Iraq (Afghanistan and other adversaries) "assembled formidable coalitions of dozens of countries."
"By those standards, the results…of the Obama administration’s efforts to marshal an alliance to fight the self-described Islamic State look meager."
WaPo editors want more. A more robust response. With boots on the ground. From multiple countries.
John Kerry said defeating IS depends in part on non-combat efforts. Discrediting its ideology. Stopping volunteers from joining them.
He ignored what's most important. So did WaPo editors. US imperialism serves them. Its war on humanity.
It's aggression, repressive occupations, and resource theft. It's exploiting populations for profit.
Don't expect WaPo editors to explain. They urged more of encourages angry Muslims to join IS and other extremist groups.
They want Iraq's military strengthened. They want America more actively involved. They want war, not peace.
So does WaPo contributor Rosa Brooks. She's a Georgetown law professor. She's a New America Foundation senior fellow.
Bilderberg Group/CIA-connected Google CEO Eric Schmidt chairs its board of directors. 
Right-wing ideologue Anne-Marie Slaughter is president and CEO. She's a regular WaPo contributor. Other board members include a rogue's gallery of imperial supporters.
Brooks says she "can't help feeling queasy every time (she) hear(s) the president pledge that there will be 'no boots on the ground' in America's newest war."
She wonder(s) what that pledge really means - and just why we're supposed to find it reassuring."
"It's a pledge that seems to have everything to do with politics and little to do with the imperatives of strategy or security." 
Obama wars "have everything to do with" advancing America's imperium. Making the world safe for monied interests.
Letting war profiteers gorge at the public trough. Waging war on humanity for unchallenged dominance. 
Doing it lawlessly. With evil intent. With unbridled ruthlessness. Millions of corpses attest to America's barbarity.
Don't expect Brooks to explain. Or that no nation in human history caused more harm to more people maliciously. Over a longer duration.
Waging permanent wars against humanity. Using IS and other terrorist groups as proxies. Shock troops. Foot soldiers. Boots on the ground.
Brooks quoted Obama saying "(t)he only language (IS) killers (understand) is the language of force."
They have good teachers at US training camps. They're taught the fine art of killing. How to commit atrocities. 
Which ones for what purpose. Including beheadings. US special forces and CIA operatives are experts.
"Relying on airstrikes alone may merely prolong a bloody and inconclusive conflict, or strengthen other actors who are just as brutal as Islamic State fighters, from the regime of Bashar al-Assad to the al-Qaeda-linked rebels of Jabhat al-Nusra," Brooks claimed.
Syria is Obama's war. He launched it. He bears full responsibility for mass slaughter and destruction.
For wanting Syria ravaged and destroyed. For greater regional control. To eliminate a key Israeli adversary. To isolate Iran.
Syria was invaded. There's nothing civil about ongoing conflict. Assad governs responsibly. He's obligated to protect his people.
They support him overwhelmingly. They want no one else leading them. 
Brooks didn't explain. She wants him ousted. Rule of law principles don't matter. 
Nor lawless aggression. Nor using extremist killers as US shock troops.
"If Obama's promise of 'no boots on the ground' means we'll be fighting a war of half-measures - a war that won't achieve our objectives and that may increase the long-term threat - I'm not sure, in the end, that it's a promise I want him to keep," she said.
Lots of other ideologies are as extremist as Brooks. Anti-war/rule of law advocates get no scoundrel media space or air time. 
Warriors and hawks alone are welcome. Their world is Orwell's vision of “a boot stamping on a human face forever."
It's official US policy. It's for unbridled imperial control.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. 
His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."
http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanIII.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 three times weekly: live on Sundays at 1PM Central time plus two prerecorded archived programs. 

Irresponsible New York Times Presstitution

sjlendman.blogspot.com - Sun, 28/09/2014 - 22:54
Irresponsible New York Times Presstitution

by Stephen Lendman

The late Gore Vidal called The Times the "Typhoid Mary of American journalism" for good reason.

The so-called "newspaper of record" is more laughing stock than source for legitimate journalism.

Its news, information and analysis are heavily filtered. Fiction and popular myths substitute for facts.

Monied interests are supported at the expense of popular ones. Vital truths are systematically buried.

Managed news misinformation substitutes. So do Big Lies on issues mattering most.

Imperial wars are called liberating ones. Ravaging and destroying one nation after another is considered humanitarian intervention.

Wars are supported in the name of peace. Might justifies right. Plunder is called economic development.

Civil liberties are suppressed for our own good. Irresponsible government and corporate interests are wholeheartedly endorsed. Beneficial social change is considered heresy.

The market (aka as casino capitalism) works best so let it, we're told. Patriotism means supporting Washington right or wrong.

The Times is America's lead propaganda instrument. Misinformation masquerades as legitimate journalism.

Whenever America goes to war or plans one, Times correspondents, contributors and editors march in lockstep.

Times policy is it's OK if we do it. Bad guys are nations, groups or individuals Washington opposes.

Terrorism is what they do, not us. Reasons why imperial wars are waged are suppressed.

Wealth, power and privilege alone matter. Sacrificing human lives and freedoms are small prices to pay. Humanity is at risk but who cares.

Ravaging and destroying one nation after another doesn't matter. Corporate grand theft is OK. So is the unprecedented wealth gap.

Protracted Main Street Depression conditions affecting most Americans aren't discussed.

Nor unmet human needs, growing poverty, hunger, homelessness, depravation and despair.

Unprecedented corporate and government corruption is ignored. So is government of, by and for monied interests alone.

Sham elections are called democratic ones. Social injustice gets short shrift if any.

Truth is the most dangerous disinfectant. Suppressing it is longstanding Times policy. All garbage all the time on issues mattering most substitutes.

Russia bashing is relentless. Putin is considered public enemy No. 1. Kiev fascist putschists are called democrats.

They're xenophobic, ultranationist, anti-democratic, anti-Semitic, anti-Russian hate-mongers.

They represent mob rule. They have no legitimacy whatever. Don't expect The Times to explain.

Lies, damn lies and Big ones substitute for credible news, commentary and analysis.

They're relentless on Ukraine. For the first time since Nazi Germany's defeat, reemergent fascism infests Europe's heartland.

Western leaders support it. John Pilger quoted Professor Terry Eagleton saying "for the first time in two centuries, there is no eminent British poet, playwright or novelist prepared to question the foundations of the western way of life."

Its most disturbing aspects. Its immorality. Its belligerence. Its lawlessness. Its contempt for popular interests. Its support for wrong over right.

"No Shelly speaks for the poor," said Pilger. "(N)o Blake for utopian dreams…(N)o Byron damns the corruption of the ruling class…"

"(N)o Thomas Carlyle and John Ruskin reveal the moral disaster of capitalism. William Morris, Oscar Wilde, HG Wells, George Bernard Shaw have no equivalents today."

The late "Harold Pinter was the last to raise his voice." He's badly missed.

So are Gore Vidal, Studs Terkel, Howard Zinn, Edward Said and other distinguished figures speaking truth to power forthrightly, publicly, and effectively.

They're gone. They're not around to challenge official Big Lies. Relentless misinformation on Ukraine.

Scoundrel media corruption. Unconscionable Russia bashing. Outrageous lies about Putin. It gives yellow journalism new meaning.

MSM today are scandalous. Disreputable. Unethical. Outrageous. An embarrassment to legitimate journalism.

It's a lying machine. Washington's war on humanity is called humanitarian intervention.

Israeli aggression is considered self-defense. Palestinian self-defense is called terrorism.

Illegitimate Kiev fascist putschists are lauded like democrats. Southeastern Ukrainian freedom fighters are called terrorists.

Russia's heroic conflict resolution efforts are called "invasion," "infiltration," "cross-border shelling," "significant escalation," "interference," "aggression," and other pejorative Big Lies.

Irresponsible Putin bashing rages. It's relentless. Western leaders bear full responsibility. Media scoundrels share it.

Times correspondents, contributors and editors turn truth on its head. Indefensible Big Lies substitute.

Readers are carpet-bombed daily. The Russians are coming, they're told.

"Mr. Putin (plays) his dangerous game in Ukraine with cunning and deceit," claim Times editors. "First he annexed Crimea."

He held "intimidating military exercises on the Ukrainian border and sen(t) in ever more men and arms in support of secessionists in Donetsk and Luhansk, all the while falsely denying any Russian involvement other than humanitarian concern for the ethnic Russian population."

"Rebels shot down a Malaysian jetliner with a Russian missile…" Cross-border artillery fire shelled Ukraine, claimed Times editors.

Russian "armored columns" invaded Ukraine, they said.

Fact check:

Crimeans voted near unanimously to join Russia. They did so in a referendum independent international monitors called open, free and fair.

Putin responsibly accommodated their wishes. Russian military exercises threaten no one.

Western monitors were invited to observe them. No Russian invasion occurred. No cross-border artillery fire.

So-called satellite imagery was fake. One or more Ukrainian warplanes shot down MH 17.

Clear evidence showed cannon fire downed it. No ground to air missile was involved. Don't expect Times editors to explain. Or its correspondents and contributors.

On September 27, Putin bashing continued. The Times headlined "It Pays to Be Putin's Friend," saying:

He "steer(ed) lucrative accounts" Bank Rossiya's way after Washington "made (it) a primary target of sanctions…"

It's "run by some of (Putin's) closest friends and colleagues from his early days in St. Petersburg…"

It's "emblematic of the way (his) brand of crony capitalism has turned loyalists into billionaires whose influence over strategic sectors of the economy has in turn helped him maintain his iron-fisted grip on power."

Fact check:

US government/corporate corruption gives grand theft new meaning. So does US-style crony capitalism.

Monied interests run America. They so so in league with fascist governance.

Mussolini called his version corporatism. It reflects "the merger of state and corporate power," he said.

America's version is worse. It's global. It combines police state harshness, disdain for fundamental rights, and brazen brutality with unbridled corporate power.

It's ideologically over-the-top and then some. It's ruthless. It's all take and no give. Non-believers aren't tolerated.

They're systematically eliminated. They're murdered in cold blood. They locked away in gulag prison hell to rot.

Fascism works this way. America is the world's leading exponent. Ukraine is the epicenter of its European reemergence. Don't The Times to explain.

"If the modern Russian state is Kremlin Inc., Mr. Putin is its chief executive officer, rewarding his friends with control of state-owned companies and doling out lucrative government contracts in deals that provoke accusations of corruption but have the veneer of legality under the Putin system," it claimed.

He "collect(ed) new friends," it added. He "la(id) the foundation for what would evolve into the system of personalized, state-sponsored capitalism now at the heart of his power."

"In many cases, contracts and property (are) distributed through insider deals, often without open or transparent bidding."

Fact check:

American-style casino capitalism gives corruption new meaning. Crony capitalism flourishes. Oligarchs run America.

No-bid sweetheart deals are standard practice. So is gross over-billing, waste, fraud and abuse on the grandest of grand scales.

Gangsterism defines America. So does kleptocracy. Washington's criminal class is bipartisan.

Monied interests run things. They're in league with corrupt government officials.

They hold an unprecedented amount of wealth. They take full advantage.

They hide it in offshore tax havens. America is the United States of steal all you can.

Ordinary people have no say. Elections have no legitimacy. They're shams. Democracy is pure fantasy. It's the best money can buy.

Personal freedoms are eroding in plain sight. They're disappearing altogether.

Putin was democratically elected three times. Independent monitors call Russia's process open, free and fair.

Russians want no one else to lead them. In March 2012, Putin's majority was 63.6%. His closest rival got 17.2%.

Polls show he's overwhelmingly popular. Well over 80% of Russians support him. It's for good reason.

For opposing Western imperialism. For affirming Russian sovereignty. For observing international laws, norms and standards.

For championing multi-world polarity. For going all-out for diplomatic conflict resolutions. For supporting peace and stability. For deploring wars without end.

For challenging US unipolarity, unilateralism, state terror and war on humanity.

He's bashed for doing the right thing. For supporting right over wrong. For being on the right side of major geopolitical issues.

For being forthright. For challenging America responsibly. Don't expect The Times to explain.

It wages war on truth relentlessly. Putin bashing persists like sport. Russian expert Stephen Cohen says doing so endangers US security.

Media scoundrels denigrate him irresponsibly. They're mindless about what's at stake, says Cohen.

Putin bashing "featur(es) mostly irrelevant, baseless or hyperbolic allegations about his political record…" It's unabated. It's relentless.

It's malicious. MSM countervailing voices don't exist. He's demonized like "Saddam, Stalin and Hitler."

He's falsely accused of revanchism. Of wanting imperial Russia restored. Of "poking America in the eye."

Putinophobia rages. It's when cooperating with Moscow should take precedence.

At risk is open East/West confrontation. Potentially escalating it to global conflict.

Obama represents the worst of rogue leadership. He's ideologically over-the-top. He risks what no responsible leader would dare.

His geopolitical agenda reflects madness. Media scoundrels share blame. They're mindless of potential armageddon.

Times news, commentaries and analyses have clout. They reflect official policy. They influence it.

Bashing Putin irresponsibly risks the unthinkable. Cold War 2.0 risks becoming hot. All bets are off if it happens.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net.

His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."

http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanIII.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 three times weekly: live on Sundays at 1PM Central time plus two prerecorded archived programs.

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