A US military judge says the government must prove that Army Private Bradley Manning intended to aid the enemy when he released hundreds of thousands of sensitive files to WikiLeaks.
The official tribunal against the 25-year-old private first class is not slated to start until June, but during pretrial hearings on Wednesday morning, Col. Denise Lind ruled that the government has a burden to prove that the soldier aimed to inflect harm on the United States when he sent materials to the whistleblower site.
Reporting from the media center at Ft. Meade, Maryland, independent journalist Alexa O’Brien writes that the United States government must now prove that Pfc. Manning acted “with reason to believe such info could be used to the injury of the US or to advantage of any foreign nation.” By doing so, Lind is making it much harder for the government to convict Manning on the most serious of the charges: aiding the enemy. If convicted on this count, Manning could theoretically be sentenced to die. Prosecutors, however, have said they would settle for life in prison.
HAVANA — Cuba says it will turn over to the United States a Florida couple who allegedly kidnapped their own children from the mother’s parents and fled by boat to Havana.
Foreign Ministry official Johana Tablada told The Associated Press in a written statement Tuesday that Cuba had informed U.S. authorities of the country’s decision to turn over Joshua Michael Hakken, his wife Sharyn and their two young boys. She did not say when the handover would occur.
As the wacky and almost comical war rhetoric between North Korea and the United States escalates, the U.S. corporate media outlets have recently reported that Kim Jong Un is making preparations to ‘hit U.S. mainland targets.’ One of those alleged targets is Austin, Texas… out of all places. Setting aside the fact that North Korea has no capabilities to hit the U.S. mainland with missiles, or at least the lower 48 states, let’s examine why Kim Jong Un would choose Austin, Texas.
Let’s suppose that North Korea, after arduous research, testing, and scientific breakthroughs, finally develops a missile that can reach the U.S. mainland. Let’s suppose that Kim Jong Un, the ‘dear leader’ of North Korea has an option to hit a variety of targets in the U.S., like the San Diego Navy Base and Camp Pendleton on the west coast, or perhaps Fort Benning, Naval Station Norfolk, or any other military location that can really cripple the abilities of the United States to launch a counter-attack.
Why in the world would North Korea choose Austin, Texas? And if dear leader Kim Jong Un hates Texas so much, then why not choose other targets in Texas? Why not San Antonio, which has three huge air force and army bases? Why not Fort Hood, which on a daily basis prepares thousands of army troops for overseas deployments? Why not Fort Bliss, Naval Air Station Corpus Christi or NAS Kingsville?
Austin would be of very little military value to a foreign enemy that would be crazy enough to hit the U.S. mainland. The only military base there is Camp Mabry, home of the Texas Military Forces – the Texas National Guard and the Texas State Guard. If Texas were to secede from the U.S., this would be the central location for all military operations of a newly independent state.
Uh-oh! Did I just mention the forbidden word ‘secession’? Shhhhhh….!
Austin is also the capital of Texas, which wants back its $1 Billion worth of gold from the federal government. Texas is also one of the leading states opposing Obamacare and Obama’s gun control agenda. Therefore, wouldn’t you say that if Kim Jong Un’s alleged war plans were real, and they were not photoshopped by the New York Times as many allege, wouldn’t he be doing Obama a favor by attacking Austin?
Nonetheless, this is just a hypothetical scenario; a North Korean attack on Austin would probably never happen. But if it did, and North Korea doesn’t have the capabilities to carry it out, then who would really be behind it? And wouldn’t this be the perfect pretext to go to war against North Korea and eliminating domestic political opponents at the same time?
NEW YORK/WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The Obama administration is drawing up plans to give all U.S. spy agencies full access to a massive database that contains financial data on American citizens and others who bank in the country, according to a Treasury Department document seen by Reuters.
The proposed plan represents a major step by U.S. intelligence agencies to spot and track down terrorist networks and crime syndicates by bringing together financial databanks, criminal records and military intelligence. The plan, which legal experts say is permissible under U.S. law, is nonetheless likely to trigger intense criticism from privacy advocates.
Financial institutions that operate in the United States are required by law to file reports of “suspicious customer activity,” such as large money transfers or unusually structured bank accounts, to Treasury’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN).
The Federal Bureau of Investigation already has full access to the database. However, intelligence agencies, such as the Central Intelligence Agency and the National Security Agency, currently have to make case-by-case requests for information to FinCEN.
The Treasury plan would give spy agencies the ability to analyze more raw financial data than they have ever had before, helping them look for patterns that could reveal attack plots or criminal schemes.
The planning document, dated March 4, shows that the proposal is still in its early stages of development, and it is not known when implementation might begin.
Financial institutions file more than 15 million “suspicious activity reports” every year, according to Treasury. Banks, for instance, are required to report all personal cash transactions exceeding $10,000, as well as suspected incidents of money laundering, loan fraud, computer hacking or counterfeiting.
“For these reports to be of value in detecting money laundering, they must be accessible to law enforcement, counter-terrorism agencies, financial regulators, and the intelligence community,” said the Treasury planning document.
A Treasury spokesperson said U.S. law permits FinCEN to share information with intelligence agencies to help detect and thwart threats to national security, provided they adhere to safeguards outlined in the Bank Secrecy Act. “Law enforcement and intelligence community members with access to this information are bound by these safeguards,” the spokesperson said in a statement.
Some privacy watchdogs expressed concern about the plan when Reuters outlined it to them.
A move like the FinCEN proposal “raises concerns as to whether people could find their information in a file as a potential terrorist suspect without having the appropriate predicate for that and find themselves potentially falsely accused,” said Sharon Bradford Franklin, senior counsel for the Rule of Law Program at the Constitution Project, a non-profit watchdog group.
Despite these concerns, legal experts emphasize that this sharing of data is permissible under U.S. law. Specifically, banks’ suspicious activity reporting requirements are dictated by a combination of the Bank Secrecy Act and the USA PATRIOT Act, which offer some privacy safeguards.
National security experts also maintain that a robust system for sharing criminal, financial and intelligence data among agencies will improve their ability to identify those who plan attacks on the United States.
“It’s a war on money, war on corruption, on politically exposed persons, anti-money laundering, organized crime,” said Amit Kumar, who advised the United Nations on Taliban sanctions and is a fellow at the Democratic think tank Center for National Policy.
The Treasury document outlines a proposal to link the FinCEN database with a computer network used by U.S. defense and law enforcement agencies to share classified information called the Joint Worldwide Intelligence Communications System.
The plan calls for the Office of the Director of National Intelligence – set up after 9/11 to foster greater collaboration among intelligence agencies – to work with Treasury. The Director of National Intelligence declined to comment.
More than 25,000 financial firms – including banks, securities dealers, casinos, and money and wire transfer agencies – routinely file “suspicious activity reports” to FinCEN. The requirements for filing are so strict that banks often over-report, so they cannot be accused of failing to disclose activity that later proves questionable. This over-reporting raises the possibility that the financial details of ordinary citizens could wind up in the hands of spy agencies.
Stephen Vladeck, a professor at American University’s Washington College of Law, said privacy advocates have already been pushing back against the increased data-sharing activities between government agencies that followed the September 11 attacks.
“One of the real pushes from the civil liberties community has been to move away from collection restrictions on the front end and put more limits on what the government can do once it has the information,” he said.
By a vote of 37-0, the Michigan state Senate approved a bill preventing the president from executing the indefinite detention provisions of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) inside the sovereign borders of the Wolverine State.
Senate Bill 94 — a companion measure to House Bill 4138 passed unanimously by the state House of Representatives last year — prohibits “any agency of this state, any political subdivision of this state, any employee of any agency of this state or any political subdivision of this state, or any member of the Michigan national guard from assisting an agency of the armed forces of the United States in the investigation, prosecution, or detainment of any citizen of the United States” under certain situations.
Particularly, the bill applies to any attempt by a state agent or officer to enforce “section 1021 of the national defense authorization act for fiscal year 2012, if such aid would place that state agency, political subdivision, employee, or member of the Michigan national guard in violation of the United States constitution, the state constitution of 1963, or any law of this state.”
The United States government is buying enough of a new smallpox medicine to treat two million people in the event of a bioterrorism attack, and took delivery of the first shipment of it last week. But the purchase has set off a debate about the lucrative contract, with some experts saying the government is buying too much of the drug at too high a price.
A small company, Siga Technologies, developed the drug in recent years. Whether the $463 million order is a boondoggle or a bargain depends on which expert is talking. The deal will transform the finances of Siga, which is controlled by Ronald O. Perelman, a billionaire financier, philanthropist and takeover specialist.
Smallpox was eradicated by 1980, and the only known remaining virus is in government laboratories in the United States and Russia. But there have long been rumors of renegade stocks that could be sprayed in airports or sports stadiums. Experts say the virus could also be re-engineered into existence in a sophisticated genetics lab.
In California, the government is already coming for the guns.
Notwithstanding the Second Amendment, rules and regulations across the United States outline certain restrictions for who can legally possess a firearm. In the state of California, factors such as a felony conviction or a history of mental health issues mean roughly 20,000 gun owners are holding onto their firearms illegally. Slowly but surely, though, Golden State police officers are prying them away. There’s more, though: backers of the program suggest this becomes a nation-wide practice, and are asking the White House to help make it happen.
“Very, very few states have an archive of firearm owners like we have,” Garen Wintemute of the Violence Prevention Research Program tells Bloomberg News. Wintemute helped set up a program on the West Coast that monitors not just licensed gun owners but also watches for any red flags that could be raised after admittance to a mental health institute or a quick stint in the slammer.
Wintemute says that as many as 200,000 people across the United States may no longer be qualified to own firearms, and in California they are making sure that number drops day by day. In one example cited in this week’s Bloomberg report, journalists recall a recent scene where nine California Justice Department agents equipped with 40-caliber Glock pistols and outfitted in bulletproof vests knocked on a suburban residence, requested to speak to a certain gun owner and then walked away with whatever arsenal they could apprehend.
(CNN) — A new joint military exercise between South Korea and the United States began Monday amid heightened tensions across the region.
In a sign of crumbling relations, North Korea refused to answer its hotline with Seoul, South Korea’s unification ministry said Monday, according to the Yonhap news agency.
The ministry said the North did not answer two attempts to communicate by telephone at 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. local time.
The latest military drills involving the two allies are called Key Resolve. They follow the Foal Eagle joint exercises that began March 1, which are scheduled to last two months. More than 3,000 U.S. forces are taking part in Key Resolve, according to United States Forces Korea.
The latest exercises fall under the shadow of North Korea’s army declaring invalid the armistice agreement that ended the Korean War in 1953, an article in Rodong Sinmun, the official newspaper of North Korea’s ruling Workers’ Party, reported Monday.
WAR ON AFGHANISTAN; Karzai Accuses US & Taliban Of Working Together To Coordinate Bombings During Chuck Hagel’s Visit
“Are the US government and the Afghan Taliban working together? Afghan President Hamid Karzai seems to think so after a couple of bombings in Kabul yesterday. He said they were carried out by the Taliban in coordination with the American government. The United States is supposed to withdraw most troops by the end of next year, and Karzai suggested the US is using terror attacks to preview how things will turn, once they leave.” – FOX News Radio
I just happened to catch this report by FOX News Radio, only once, and after searching YouTube for more details I realized just how poorly reported this very important story is. See audio file below of the FOX News Radio report which I saved. The only YouTube video with any details follows this. I’ve also included another video from last December when Karzai accused the US, NATO, and “Private Security Firms” of destabilizing the country, saying, “there is a very strong perception that some of that insecurity is intentional.”
2013.3.10 Are The US Government & Afghan Taliban Working Together? (FOX News Radio):
2013.3.10 Afghan Accusations; Karzai Says US & Taliban Are Cooperating To Worsen Security Situation (JewishNewsOne, youtube.com):
Afghan President Hamid Karzai has accused the Taliban and the US of working together to convince Afghans that violence will worsen if foreign troops leave the country. Karzai said that two deadly suicide bombings over the weekend demonstrated that the insurgent group is conducting attacks at the service of America. He said both Washington and the Taliban want US forces to stay beyond the end of 2014, when most U.S.-led forces are scheduled to leave Afghanistan.
Hold on, so the Taliban want the US forces, that they are supposedly fighting, to stay past 2014? Very interesting. This also goes along with older videos I’ve seen of Afghans claiming that Bush was arming the Taliban in the mountains.
2012.12.6 Hamid Karzai; US, NATO Behind Afghan ‘Insecurity’ (NBC, youtube.com):
Afghan President Hamid Karzai had some harsh words for the United States and NATO during a Thursday interview with NBC News.
Karzai accused the U.S. of violating its strategic partnership agreement with Afghanistan, and he indicated that “part of the insecurity [in Afghanistan] is definitely coming to us from terrorism and the attacks of the Taliban.” He continued with a criticism of the U.S., adding, “part of the insecurity is coming to us from the structures that NATO and America created in Afghanistan.”
The Afghan leader singled out “the private security firms” and “the contractors that they promoted at the cost of the Afghan people.”
Karzai also partly blamed the insecurity in Afghanistan on “the way they [the U.S., NATO] behaved with the Afghan people and the anger that that has caused in the Afghan people and the resulting insecurity.” He added, “there is a very strong perception that some of that insecurity is intentional.”
The U.S. actions that stirred anger to which he was likely referring include an incident in which Marines were shown in a video urinating on the corpses of Taliban fighters. After the video came to light, Karzai called the actions of those involved “inhuman.” Two Marines were criminally charged for their actions. In another incident, U.S. soldiers were implicated in the burning of copies of the Koran.
Karzai also leveled criticism at the U.S. in November, when he accused U.S. forces of violating a detainee transfer pact signed between the two countries.
New violence struck Afghanistan on Thursday when the country’s intelligence chief, Asadullah Khalid, was wounded by a suicide bombing. The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack.
NBC points out, per the U.N., that “in the first six months of 2012 alone, more than 3,000 civilians were killed or injured” in Afghanistan.
By Jack Kim
SEOUL | Thu Mar 7, 2013 10:40am GMT
(Reuters) – North Korea threatened the United States on Thursday with a preemptive nuclear strike, raising the level of rhetoric while the U.N. Security Council considers new sanctions against the reclusive country.
North Korea has accused the United States of using military drills in South Korea as a launch pad for a nuclear war and has scrapped the armistice with Washington that ended hostilities in the 1950-53 Korean War.