The Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act, CISPA is set to be re-introduced before the US House next week. The bill will be identical to the one introduced last spring, that was defeated on the Senate floor in August of last year.
The house Intelligence Committee chairman Mike Rogers (R-Mich.) and Representative Dutch Ruppersberger (D-Md) will attempt the re-introduction based on a spate of cyber espionage and hacking attacks.
Civil liberties groups have criticized the bill for invading privacy. CISPA allows for the voluntary sharing of information about internet traffic between private companies and the government. Its intention is to assist the intelligence service in identifying and neutralizing cyber and hacking attacks and to ensure the security of networks against attack .
The bill would also allow the government to pass information to private companies and protect them from legal actions that may arise from the sharing of information.
Opponents of the bill say it will allow government to track an individuals browsing information, allowing them to spy on individuals at will.
Fight for the Future, a non-profit group’working to extend the internet’s powers for good’ have already started an online petition which asks voters to call their representatives on the House Intelligence Committee to register their opposition to the bill.
Several newspapers have recently become victims of cyber spying. The New York Times, the Wall Street Journal and the Washington Post have all been attacked.
Janet Napolitano, head of Homeland Security said in January:
“We shouldn’t wait until there is a 9/11 in the cyber world. There are things we should be doing right now that,if not prevent, would mitigate the extent of the damage.”
Last October Leon Panetta also warned of the possibility of a ‘cyber Pearl Harbor”
Despite the huge amount of opposition to the bill President Obama is expected to issue an Executive order aimed at strengthening US cyber security, the order is expected to be released after he delivers the State of the Union address on Tuesday.
MORE: The Daily Sheeple
Contributed by Chris Carrington of The Daily Sheeple.
Chris Carrington is a writer, researcher and lecturer with a background in science, technology and environmental studies. Chris is an editor for The Daily Sheeple. Wake the flock up!
Unable to reach a deal with Congress, President Obama plans to use his power to exert executive actions against the will of lawmakers. The president will issue orders addressing controversial topics including cybersecurity.
Although President Obama has issued fewer executive orders than any president in over 100 years, he is making extensive plans to change that, Washington Post reports quoting people outside the White House involved in discussions on the issues. Due to conflicts with a Congress that too often disagrees on proposed legislation, Obama plans to act alone and is likely “to rely heavily” on his executive powers in future, according to the newspaper.
Obama’s first executive order is expected to be issued this week when the president calls for the creation of new standards on what private-sector companies must do to protect their computer systems from a cybersecurity breach.
The order is a direct response to Congress’ refusal to pass the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA) last year, which the administration deemed crucial to prevent crippling attacks on the nation’s infrastructure. But members of Congress who opposed the legislation cited serious privacy concerns with giving the government greater access to Americans’ personal information that only private companies and servers might have access to.
Spokesman for Chihuahua state says US agencies don’t want to end drug trade, a claim denied by other Mexican officials.
Juarez, Mexico – The US Central Intelligence Agency and other international security forces “don’t fight drug traffickers”, a spokesman for the Chihuahua state government in northern Mexico has told Al Jazeera, instead “they try to manage the drug trade”.
Allegations about official complicity in the drug business are nothing new when they come from activists, professors, campaigners or even former officials. However, an official spokesman for the authorities in one of Mexico’s most violent states – one which directly borders Texas – going on the record with such accusations is unique.
“It’s like pest control companies, they only control,” Guillermo Terrazas Villanueva, the Chihuahua spokesman, told Al Jazeera last month at his office in Juarez. “If you finish off the pests, you are out of a job. If they finish the drug business, they finish their jobs.”
A spokesman for the CIA in Washington wouldn’t comment on the accusations directly, instead he referred Al Jazeera to an official website.
Accusations are ‘baloney’
Villanueva is not a high ranking official and his views do not represent Mexico’s foreign policy establishment. Other more senior officials in Chihuahua State, including the mayor of Juarez, dismissed the claims as “baloney”.
“I think the CIA and DEA [US Drug Enforcement Agency] are on the same side as us in fighting drug gangs,” Hector Murguia, the mayor of Juarez, told Al Jazeera during an interview inside his SUV. “We have excellent collaboration with the US.”
Under the Merida Initiative, the US Congress has approved more than $1.4bn in drug war aid for Mexico, providing attack helicopters, weapons and training for police and judges.
More than 55,000 people have died in drug related violence in Mexico since December 2006. Privately, residents and officials across Mexico’s political spectrum often blame the lethal cocktail of US drug consumption and the flow of high-powered weapons smuggled south of the border for causing much of the carnage.
Drug war ‘illusions’
Meeting the Juarez cartel
“The war on drugs is an illusion,” Hugo Almada Mireles, professor at the Autonomous University of Juarez and author of several books, told Al Jazeera. “It’s a reason to intervene in Latin America.”
“The CIA wants to control the population; they don’t want to stop arms trafficking to Mexico, look at [Operation] Fast and Furious,” he said, referencing a botched US exercise where automatic weapons were sold to criminals in the hope that security forces could trace where the guns ended up.
The Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms lost track of 1,700 guns as part of the operation, including an AK-47 used in 2010 the murder of Brian Terry, a Customs and Border Protection Agent.
Blaming the gringos for Mexico’s problems has been a popular sport south of the Rio Grande ever since the Mexican-American war of the 1840s, when the US conquered most of present day California, Utah, Nevada, Arizona and New Mexico from its southern neighbour. But operations such as Fast and Furious show that reality can be stranger than fiction when it comes to the drug war and relations between the US and Mexico. If the case hadn’t been proven, the idea that US agents were actively putting weapons into the hands of Mexican gangsters would sound absurd to many.
“I think it’s easy to become cynical about American and other countries’ involvement in Latin America around drugs,” Kevin Sabet, a former senior adviser to the White House on drug control policy, told Al Jazeera. “Statements [accusing the CIA of managing the drug trade] should be backed up with evidence… I don’t put much stake in it.”
Villanueva’s accusations “might be a way to get some attention to his region, which is understandable but not productive or grounded in reality”, Sabet said. “We have sort of ‘been there done that’ with CIA conspiracy theories.”
In 1996, the San Jose Mercury News published Dark Alliance, a series of investigative reports linking CIA missions in Nicaragua with the explosion of crack cocaine consumption in America’s ghettos.
In order to fund Contra rebels fighting Nicaragua’s socialist government, the CIA partnered with Colombian cartels to move drugs into Los Angeles, sending profits back to Central America, the series alleged.
“There is no question in my mind that people affiliated with, or on the payroll of, the CIA were involved in drug trafficking,” US Senator John Kerry said at the time, in response to the series.
Other newspapers, including the Washington Post and the Los Angeles Times, slammed Dark Alliance, and the editor of the Mercury News eventually wrote that the paper had over-stated some elements in the story and made mistakes in the journalistic process, but that he stood by many of the key conclusions.
US government has neglected border corruption
“It’s true, they want to control it,” a mid-level official with the Secretariat Gobernacion in Juarez, Mexico’s equivalent to the US Department of Homeland Security, told Al Jazeera of the CIA and DEA’s policing of the drug trade. The officer, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said he knew the allegations to be correct, based on discussions he had with US officials working in Juarez.
Acceptance of these claims within some elements of Mexico’s government and security services shows the difficulty in pursuing effective international action against the drug trade.
Jesús Zambada Niebla, a leading trafficker from the Sinaloa cartel currently awaiting trial in Chicago, has said he was working for the US Drug Enforcement Agency during his days as a trafficker, and was promised immunity from prosecution.
“Under that agreement, the Sinaloa Cartel under the leadership of [Jesus Zambada's] father, Ismael Zambada and ‘Chapo’ Guzmán were given carte blanche to continue to smuggle tonnes of illicit drugs… into… the United States, and were protected by the United States government from arrest and prosecution in return for providing information against rival cartels,” Zambada’s lawyers wrote as part of his defence. “Indeed, the Unites States government agents aided the leaders of the Sinaloa Cartel.”
The Sinaloa cartel is Mexico’s oldest and most powerful trafficking organisation, and some analysts believe security forces in the US and Mexico favour the group over its rivals.
Joaquin “El Chapo”, the cartel’s billionaire leader and one of the world’s most wanted men, escaped from a Mexican prison in 2001 by sneaking into a laundry truck – likely with collaboration from guards – further stoking rumours that leading traffickers have complicit friends in high places.
“It would be easy for the Mexican army to capture El Chapo,” Mireles said. “But this is not the objective.” He thinks the authorities on both sides of the border are happy to have El Chapo on the loose, as his cartel is easier to manage and his drug money is recycled back into the broader economy. Other analysts consider this viewpoint a conspiracy theory and blame ineptitude and low level corruption for El Chapo’s escape, rather than a broader plan from government agencies.
After an election hit by reported irregularities, Enrique Pena Nieto from the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) is set to be sworn in as Mexico’s president on December 1.
He wants to open a high-level dialogue with the US about the drug war, but has said legalisation of some drugs is not an option. Some hardliners in the US worry that Nieto will make a deal with some cartels, in order to reduce violence.
“I am hopeful that he will not return to the PRI party of the past which was corrupt and had a history of turning a blind eye to the drug cartels,” said Michael McCaul, a Republican Congressman from Texas.
Regardless of what position a new administration takes in order to calm the violence and restore order, it is likely many Mexicans – including government officials such as Chihuahua spokesman Guillermo Villanueva – will believe outside forces want the drug trade to continue.
The widespread view linking the CIA to the drug trade – whether or not the allegations are true – speaks volumes about officials’ mutual mistrust amid ongoing killings and the destruction of civic life in Mexico.
“We have good soldiers and policemen,” Villanueva said. “But you won’t resolve this problem with bullets. We need education and jobs.”
Not like the spy agency’s hunter-killer drones weren’t already stalking Pakistan with near total autonomy from the US military, which maintains its own drone program throughout the Middle East. The Obama adminstration is reportedly close to wrapping up its so-called drone “playbook” and its most notable marker, for now, is not so much who the policy reins in but who it keeps just out of arm’s reach–and thus, hidden. The CIA, in what should do away with any sense that the traditionally all-spy unit isn’t going full-on paramilitary, can simply set aside the uncracked playbook for at least the next year.
It’s almost “beyond parody”, the sort of hand-wringing and head-butting that went into what’s ultimately a non-decision, or at the least a long punt. And it doesn’t help that the guy who designed the playbook doesn’t immediately have to adhere to it.
But the administration has been pressing to set some sort of guiding drone doctrine into law for some time. It felt spurred to codify policy during the home stretch of the recent election cycle–the prospect of Romney-helmed killer strikes not having to answer to an Obama precedent was just to much to bear. The heat was off after the president won, of course, but discussions between the State Department, CIA and Pentagon over the playbook’s standards seemed to have ground to a halt. So it was a move to resusciate talks: Granting the CIA a “temporary exemption” for its missions within Pakistan, the Washington Post reports, was apparently a compromise that freed up officials to forge ahead on other aspects of the playbook.
December 4, 2012 (LD) – Once again, the US has issued a warning against Syria deploying “chemical weapons” citing “intelligence reports that the Damascus government is preparing such munitions for possible use.” No evidence was provided, nor any reasonable explanation as to why the Syrian government would deploy such weapons when, after over 2 years, the majority of the Syrian people still stand behind the government while terrorist forces flooding over Syria’s borders have been faced with constant tactical and strategic defeat.
Despite attempts to portray Damascus and Aleppo as on the inevitable edge of collapse, now for a full 6 months, both cities are still firmly in the hands of government troops, with only symbolic terror attacks murdering scores of civilians at a time and temporary advances made on isolated bases before promptly being abandoned by NATO-backed terrorists – a pattern not unlike that facing Western forces in NATO-occupied Afghanistan.
The accusations were printed in the Washington Post article, “Obama warns Syria amid rising concern over chemical weapons,” but despite the insinuations, includes the disclaimer (emphasis added), “Syria is thought to have several hundred surface-to-surface ballistic missiles capable of carrying chemical warheads.”
Other nations “thought to have” weapons of mass destruction included Iraq, which in hindsight, after a 10 year war and occupation, following years of crippling sanctions leaving millions dead, turned out not to in fact have such weapons.
It is unlikely that the Syrian government would use such weapons, thus giving the West the excuse it would need to directly intervene militarily, a scenario the West has been attempting to sell for the last 2 years, and particularly so following NATO’s military operations in Libya throughout 2011.
Conversely, NATO’s proxy forces operating in Syria possess both the means and motivation to carry out chemical attacks, therefore blaming Syria’s government and granting the West the impetus needed to intervene more directly.
NATO-backed Terrorists have the Means.
Libya’s arsenal had fallen into the hands of sectarian extremists with NATO assistance last year in the culmination of efforts to overthrow the North African nation . Since then, Libya’s militants led by commanders of Al Qaeda’s Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG) have armed sectarian extremists across the Arab World, from as far West as Mali, to as far East as Syria.
In addition to small arms, heavier weapons are also making their way through this extensive network. The Washington Post in their article, “Libyan missiles on the loose,” reported:
“Two former CIA counterterrorism officers told me last week that technicians recently refurbished 800 of these man-portable air-defense systems (known as MANPADS) — some for an African jihadist group called Boko Haram that is often seen as an ally of al-Qaeda — for possible use against commercial jets flying into Niger, Chad and perhaps Nigeria.”
While undoubtedly these weapons are also headed to Niger, Chad, and perhaps Nigeria, they are veritably headed to Syria. Libyan LIFG terrorists are confirmed to be flooding into Syria from Libya. In November 2011, the Telegraph in their article, “Leading Libyan Islamist met Free Syrian Army opposition group,” would report:
Abdulhakim Belhadj, head of the Tripoli Military Council and the former leader of the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group, “met with Free Syrian Army leaders in Istanbul and on the border with Turkey,” said a military official working with Mr Belhadj. “Mustafa Abdul Jalil (the interim Libyan president) sent him there.”
Another Telegraph article, “Libya’s new rulers offer weapons to Syrian rebels,” would admit
Syrian rebels held secret talks with Libya’s new authorities on Friday, aiming to secure weapons and money for their insurgency against President Bashar al-Assad’s regime, The Daily Telegraph has learned.At the meeting, which was held in Istanbul and included Turkish officials, the Syrians requested “assistance” from the Libyan representatives and were offered arms, and potentially volunteers.
“There is something being planned to send weapons and even Libyan fighters to Syria,” said a Libyan source, speaking on condition of anonymity. “There is a military intervention on the way. Within a few weeks you will see.”
Later that month, some 600 Libyan terrorists would be reported to have entered Syria to begin combat operations and have been flooding into the country ever since.
Washington Post’s reported “loose missiles” in Libya are now turning up on the battlefield in Syria. While outfits like the Guardian, in their article “Arms and the Manpads: Syrian rebels get anti-aircraft missiles,” are reporting the missiles as being deployed across Syria, they have attempted to downplay any connection to Libya’s looted arsenal and the Al Qaeda terrorists that have imported them. In contrast, Times has published open admissions from terrorists themselves admitting they are receiving heavy weapons including surface-to-air missiles from Libya.
In Time’s article, “Libya’s Fighters Export Their Revolution to Syria,” it is reported:
Some Syrians are more frank about the assistance the Libyans are providing. “They have heavier weapons than we do,” notes Firas Tamim, who has traveled in rebel-controlled areas to keep tabs on foreign fighters. “They brought these weapons to Syria, and they are being used on the front lines.” Among the arms Tamim has seen are Russian-made surface-to-air missiles, known as the SAM 7.
Libyan fighters largely brush off questions about weapon transfers, but in December they claimed they were doing just that. “We are in the process of collecting arms in Libya,” a Libyan fighter in Syria told the French daily Le Figaro. “Once this is done, we will have to find a way to bring them here.”
Libya’s stockpiles of mustard gas and chemicals used to make weapons are intact and were not stolen during the uprising that toppled Muammar Gaddafi, weapons inspectors have said.
The abandonment or disappearance of some Gaddafi-era weapons has prompted concerns that such firepower could erode regional security if it falls into the hands of Islamist militants or rebels active in north Africa. Some fear they could be used by Gaddafi loyalists to spread instability in Libya.
Last month Human Rights Watch urged Libya’s ruling national transitional council to take action over large numbers of heavy weapons, including surface-to-air missiles, it said were lying unguarded more than two months after Gaddafi was overthrown.
On Wednesday the UN secretary general, Ban Ki-moon, said the UN would send experts to Libya to help ensure nuclear material and chemical weapons did not fall into the wrong hands.
Outgoing Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) gave an exit interview to the Washington Post this week, capping off his career with a claim that he’s driven throughout his 36 years in Congress: The two-party system is obsolete.
Responding to a question about a recent warning from his son, Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), that the GOP was at risk of becoming a “dinosaur” if it remained unwilling to consider libertarian-inspired positions, the congressman argued that both parties were in fact on the brink of extinction.
“The whole government, and the Democrat party, the Republican party — they’re all dinosaurs,” Paul said. “The principles are dinosaurs. The parties are going to linger because they’re locked in by law. You’re not allowed to compete; the laws are biased against us from competing. If you go third party you can’t get in debates, you can’t get on ballots.”
YET…. None violent drug offenders ROT in America’s private prisons.
America has secretly been releasing high-level Taliban prisoners from a top security military prison as part of negotiations with insurgents.
Up to 20 prisoners have been released from Bagram prison in the past two years after giving assurances they would give up their struggle and reconcile with the government.
The clandestine “strategic release” programme at the prison north of Kabul has allowed America to use prisoners as bargaining chips when trying to reach local deals with insurgents.
Officials admitted the scheme was risky however and difficult to police. They would not say whether any of those released had resumed attacks on Nato or Afghan forces.
“Everyone agrees they are guilty of what they have done and should remain in detention,” one official told the Washington Post.
“Everyone agrees that these are bad guys. But the benefits outweigh the risks.”
Gavin Sundwall, spokesman for the US embassy in Kabul, said the programme was two years old and “rarely used”.
Commanders from both the American and Afghan forces deliberated on releasing prisoners who were “willing to denounce violence and engage in the process of reconciliation”.
He said: “Fewer than 20 detainees have ever been released under this program, and the decision to release a detainee takes into account whether they pose any further security threat.”
The release of prisoners has become a significant hurdle to embryonic peace contacts aimed at finding a political settlement to the conflict.
Contacts in Qatar appeared to founder earlier this year when Taliban negotiators pulled out saying America had broken a promise to transfer five leaders from Guantánamo Bay, in Cuba, to looser custody in the Gulf state.
Releasing the men from Guantánamo requires congressional approval and is seen by analysts as a risky move for Barack Obama during a presidential election campaign.
However while Bagram prison is second only to Guantánamo for holding the most senior Taliban prisoners from the decade-long Nato-led campaign, their release does not need approval from Congress, the Washington Post reported.
The United States agreed to hand over control of Bagram prison to the Afghan army earlier this year, during negotiations over a 10-year strategic deal governing American aid to the country after 2014.
Senior prisoners have in the past been transferred to Afghan custody only to be then released under murky circumstances and Western officials have said Afghan custody is a “revolving door” for any insurgent with money or political links.
In the most notorious example, Mullah Abdul Qayum Zakir, was released into Afghan custody from Guantánamo in 2007 only to be freed to rejoin his Taliban comrades and rise quickly through the ranks to a senior leadership post.
The United States has been secretly releasing detainees from a military prison in Afghanistan as part of negotiations with insurgent groups, the Washington Post reported in its Monday editions.
The “strategic release” program has allowed American officials over the past several years to use prisoners as bargaining chips to reduce violence in restive provinces, it said, citing U.S. officials who it said spoke on condition of anonymity.
The freed detainees are often fighters who would not be released under the legal system for military prisoners in Afghanistan. They must promise to give up violence, the report said.
Officials would not say whether those who have been released have later returned to attack U.S. and Afghan troops, the Post said.
Are these men protecting the elite or are they Pimping for them?
“The Secret Service takes all allegations of misconduct seriously,” Donovan said. “These personnel changes will not affect the comprehensive security plan that has been prepared in advance of the President’s trip.”
Adler said the entire unit was recalled for purposes of the investigation. The Secret Service “responded appropriately” and is “looking at a very serious allegation,” he said, adding that the agency “needs to properly investigate and fairly ascertain the merits of the allegations.”
The Washington Post was alerted to the investigation by Ronald Kessler, a former Post reporter and author of several nonfiction books, including the book “In the President’s Secret Service: Behind the Scenes With Agents in the Line of Fire and the Presidents They Protect.”
Kessler said he was told that a dozen agents had been removed from the trip. He added that soliciting prostitution is considered inappropriate by the Secret Service, even though it is legal in Colombia when conducted in designated “tolerance zones.” However, Kessler added, several of the agents involved are married.
There have been other incidents involving Obama’s security detail over the past year.
In November, Christopher W. Deedy, a federal agent with the State Department’s Bureau of Diplomatic Security, was charged with second-degree murder after shooting a man during a dispute outside a McDonald’s in Honolulu. Though Deedy was off-duty at the time, he was on the island to provide advance security arrangements for Obama’s trip to the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit.
In August, Daniel L. Valencia, a Secret Service agent, was arrested on suspicion of drunken driving in Decorah, Iowa, where he was helping arrange security for Obama’s bus trip through three Midwestern states. Valencia, who was off-duty at the time of the arrest, was recently sentenced to two days in jail with credit for time served, and a fine of $1,250.
NBC apologizes to viewers, but not directly to this viewer. (AFP/GETTY IMAGES) NBC has completed its investigation into the mishandling of the police dispatcher’s conversation with George Zimmerman in the Trayvon Martin case. And the process ends with a finding of error, plus an apology. Here is the statement just issued by the network:
During our investigation it became evident that there was an error made in the production process that we deeply regret. We will be taking the necessary steps to prevent this from happening in the future and apologize to our viewers.
That apology addresses the “Today” show’s failure to abridge accurately the conversation between Zimmerman and the dispatcher in this high-profile case. This is how the program portrayed a segment of that conversation:
Zimmerman: This guy looks like he’s up to no good. He looks black.
And here is how it actually went down:
Zimmerman: This guy looks like he’s up to no good. Or he’s on drugs or something. It’s raining and he’s just walking around, looking about.
Dispatcher: OK, and this guy — is he black, white or Hispanic?
Zimmerman: He looks black.
No matter how you feel about Zimmerman, that bit of tape editing was unfair to the truth and to Zimmerman’s reputation, such as it is. Reaction on Twitter and elsewhere to my previous post on this matter, was brutal toward NBC, with many comments suggesting the worst about the network’s motivations, reliability and so on.
Does the statement adequately address those concerns? On the good front, it acknowledges the mistake and apologizes to viewers for the bad editing. It’s a forthright correction and spares us any excuses about the faulty portrayal. On the bad front, the statement is skimpy on the details on just how the mistake unfolded. Nor does it articulate an apology directly to George Zimmerman, the “viewer” who is most aggrieved by the screw-up. In light of all that’s happened, Zimmerman may be a tough person for a news network to apologize to, but that’s just the point: Apologies are hard.
View Photo Gallery: The fatal shooting of an unarmed black 17-year-old by a neighborhood watch volunteer in Sanford, Fla., has led to a federal investigation, numerous protests and a national spotlight.