Archive | The Regime

Scope of FBI porn sting raises key privacy questions

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It’s not just porn, it’s also some of these faux terrorism arrests of dopes who never would have done a thing without an FBI operative egging him or her on. Lots of legal issues to look at:

On the heels of a sweeping federal sting operation targeting individuals involved with the distribution and possession of child pornography, a growing chorus of attorneys and social watchdogs are raising serious questions about the FBI tactics used as part of its “Operation Pacifier.”

Critics suggest that the strategies, which ultimately proved extremely successful, pose a real threat to internet privacy going forward and in actuality produce greater injustices than the crimes they are designed to stop.

Background of Controversial Sting Operation

In the springtime of 2015, the Federal Bureau of Investigation was entrenched in a significant initiative designed to ferret out cyber criminals suspected of distributing and/or possessing child pornography on the “dark web.”
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Priorities

Pentagon

When you think of all the things they tell us we can’t afford:

The United States Army’s finances are so jumbled it had to make trillions of dollars of improper accounting adjustments to create an illusion that its books are balanced.

The Defense Department’s Inspector General, in a June report, said the Army made $2.8 trillion in wrongful adjustments to accounting entries in one quarter alone in 2015, and $6.5 trillion for the year. Yet the Army lacked receipts and invoices to support those numbers or simply made them up.

As a result, the Army’s financial statements for 2015 were “materially misstated,” the report concluded. The “forced” adjustments rendered the statements useless because “DoD and Army managers could not rely on the data in their accounting systems when making management and resource decisions.”

Disclosure of the Army’s manipulation of numbers is the latest example of the severe accounting problems plaguing the Defense Department for decades.

The report affirms a 2013 Reuters series revealing how the Defense Department falsified accounting on a large scale as it scrambled to close its books. As a result, there has been no way to know how the Defense Department – far and away the biggest chunk of Congress’ annual budget – spends the public’s money.

The new report focused on the Army’s General Fund, the bigger of its two main accounts, with assets of $282.6 billion in 2015. The Army lost or didn’t keep required data, and much of the data it had was inaccurate, the IG said.

“Where is the money going? Nobody knows,” said Franklin Spinney, a retired military analyst for the Pentagon and critic of Defense Department planning.

I can’t tell who the good guys are anymore

Kurdish YPG Fighters

But this sounds like an improvement!

Ecstatic Syrian civilians have been shaving off their beards, burning their burqas, smoking and dancing in the streets after being freed from Isis.

The jubilant celebrations were seen in the Syrian city of Manbij on Friday, where militants have been driven out after months of fighting by US-backed rebel groups.

Families ran through rubble-strewn streets, past the ruins of buildings destroyed in air strikes, carrying their babies and belongings.

Men jubilantly had their beards cut off as women ripped off their veils and set them on fire in an act of rebellion after years living under Isis’ brutal interpretation of Sharia law.

One middle aged man broke down in tears of relief and joy, while female fighters from the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) and Syrian Arab Coalition (SAC) shared emotional hugs with civilians.

Christ, I hope it sticks.

Women are being silenced in Turkey’s crackdown

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As I pointed out the day after it happened, I didn’t see any women in those crowds of protesters. They’re going to move Turkey back to an oppressive, theocratic state:

In the days after a failed military coup shook Turkey, women say they are being silenced. From the start of the coup attempt by military officials on Friday through to the government’s crackdown in response, women’s voices have been almost entirely absent. Images of protesters on the streets are mostly men. The military leadership is entirely… Continue Reading →

Report: Bush ignored numerous warnings before invasion

Chilcot Inquiry Rally (6.7.16) (163)

The dirty hippies were right again. I’m sure none of us are surprised, exactly, but it’s still shocking to see it all laid out:

Last week, the independent British committee established to delve into the blunders that led to that country joining the Iraq misadventure released a report astonishing for its breadth and sobriety. It is no easy read—with 2.6 million words in 12 volumes, it explores every detail of the processes and decisions that cost the lives of 179 British servicemen and women. And since the goal of the inquiry was to determine what went wrong across the board, it provides information no Republican politician would allow anyone on Capitol Hill to dig up.

The report’s shocking conclusion is obvious: The White House, the Pentagon and, to a lesser extent, the State Department had no idea what they were doing.

Incompetence permeates the tale, with Bush officials arrogantly waving aside warnings and pleas for better planning. The march toward war took on an unstoppable political momentum as evidence piled up that this invasion would be a colossal catastrophe. Preconceptions—such as blithe dismissals of a humanitarian and governmental role in the invasion for the United Nations, as well as a disregard for day-after-war preparations in favor of gut feelings and slogans—undermined the chance for success. Records show the British considered themselves indispensable to the effort, if only to counter the Bush administration’s reckless planning, which officials in Prime Minister Tony Blair’s government derided as fantastical.

If you have the stomach for it, go read the rest.

Turkey coup was probably a false flag

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That’s what a lot of smart people, included a former CIA station chief for Turkey, are saying. They believe Erdogan planned the coup himself as cover for seizing more power. And then there’s this from Politico:

A Playbooker well-wired with contacts in Turkey emails us: “This military action is a direct correlation to President Erdogan’s slow but steady focus on de-constructing the legacy of Ataturk and undoing Ataturk’s dream of a secular Muslim society and to replace it with a Islamic society based on fear. The President’s recent removal of the Prime Minister (with little international focus or concern) which was done against the constitution, his overhaul of the judiciary to put it under his control (that was unconstitutional), his recent speeches on women being ‘half-human’ if they don’t have babies and stay home to focus on having children, his push to create non-secular religious schools, his arrest of thousands of journalists, and his take-over of what was once a thriving free media with only one private, independent media still existing … and last but not least, his attempt now to change the constitution so he could be President forever. … All of these … forced the hand of the Military to want to overthrow the Erdogan regime and try to hold onto the last elements of Ataturk’s Turkey.”

Oops! One Of Two Copies Of The CIA Torture Report ‘Accidentally Destroyed’

This really is shocking and not just in a sarcastic way. According to Yahoo! News, one of the two remaining copies of the Senate CIA torture report has been “accidentally” destroyed. The CIA inspector general’s office – the spy agency’s internal watchdog – has acknowledged it “mistakenly” destroyed its only copy of a mammoth Senate torture… Continue Reading →

Data privacy vs. national security

Apple to release iOS 9.3 after fixing iMessages encryption vulnerability

The hotly debated issue of national security versus data privacy has been making headlines all over the world due to the iPhone encryption case pitting the US Department of Justice against mammoth technology company Apple Inc.

A US District Court judge in California ordered Apple to help the FBI unlock the encrypted iPhone of one of the San Bernardino shooters who killed 14 people and seriously injured 22 in December 2015. Apple refused the court order saying it will not destabilize its products’ security features because that would leave customers vulnerable to hackers and other serious cyber threats.

Specifically, the FBI wanted Apple to write and turn over new code that would allow federal data analysts to break Apple’s encryption key. It is asking Apple to develop software that would weaken its own product – create a “backdoor” that would admit government hackers into the heart of its operating system.

Apple CEO Tim Cook’s open letter to customers denounced the FBI’s actions and court order saying, “The United States government has demanded that Apple take an unprecedented step, which threatens the security of our customers. We oppose this order, which has implications far beyond the legal case at hand.” 

He followed up with a similar email to all Apple employees thanking them for their support, reiterating that Apple has no sympathy for terrorists, and outlining how Apple has cooperated and will continue to cooperate with investigators and comply with information requests. But he urged prosecutors to withdraw their demand to turn over encryption secrets arguing it sets a dangerous precedent from both a technical and a personal privacy perspective.

Most technology experts and privacy advocates agree with Apple. They say that forcing US companies to weaken their encryption methods would invite attention from unscrupulous hackers, expose private data, threaten Internet security, and give a competitive advantage to technology companies in other countries.

Atlanta Defense Attorney Allen Yates commented, “Apple’s pushback against the government’s aggression in this case is understandable given the tech giant’s desire to protect its products, and more importantly, its customers and the ability to access their data. It is always a sensitive issue when the government invokes national security, but allowing the government unfettered access to United States Citizen’s encrypted data will create a very dangerous precedent and have unknown ramifications on the security of our most popular technologies.”

It’s a controversial topic. On the other side of the debate, the FBI and government supporters strongly disapprove of Apple’s refusal to cooperate. They say Apple must comply due to the highly sensitive nature of information that might reside on the phone. The FBI insists the code would only be used for this iPhone – one that had been in the possession of a known, deadly terrorist with allegiance to ISIS.

Like the Apple CEO, FBI Director James Comey also appealed to the public to gain support. He issued a passionate statement on the internet defending his request and saying that it is solely a question of justice for the victims and not intended to set a precedent of any kind. In his words, “We don’t want to break anyone’s encryption or set a master key loose on the land. I hope thoughtful people will take the time to understand that. Maybe the phone holds the clue to finding more terrorists. Maybe it doesn’t. But we can’t look the survivors in the eye, or ourselves in the mirror, if we don’t follow this lead.”

While the immediate legal issues surrounding the battle between Apple and the federal government became moot after the FBI hacked the iPhone itself and announced they were dropping the lawsuit, the entire debate between the right to privacy and national security will clearly continue.

The lengths to which regimes will go

Nobel Prize winner Shirin Ebadi with the story of how Iranian agents set up her
husband with another woman, threatened to stone him to death and then forced him to denounce her:

“Now Ebadi can see the result of her activities,” the agent told him grandly. “I warned her so many times. So many times I told her, ‘You need to shut up.’ But she never listened.”

Javad had never been involved in my cases; he was not political. “Why should I be responsible for what my wife does?” he asked them. “What kind of dirty games are you trying to play with me? Because of my wife, you harass me like this, in the name of Islam?”

The agent’s eyes darkened. He lunged toward Javad, punching him, kicking him savagely.

“Don’t you dare ever mention Islam again, do you hear me? The word ‘Islam’ is dirty in your mouth.”

The intelligence agent said I had been proud; now I would see my weakness.

When Javad saw that pleading or protesting would only provoke more beating, he asked what it was they wanted.

For the first time, the agent’s boss spoke. He explained the problem:

“If you’re still defending your wife, it means you’re her ally and collaborator. And you should be punished as such. If the truth is otherwise, you need to prove that to us.”

All he had to do in order to gain his freedom was to read a short statement in front of a camera:

“Shirin Ebadi did not deserve to receive the Nobel Prize. She was awarded the prize so that she could help topple the Islamic Republic. She is a supporter of the West, particularly America. Her work is not in the service of Iranians, but serves the interests of foreign imperialists who seek to weaken Iran.”

He knew immediately he would do it. Surely, everyone would know that he had been pressured into saying those things.

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