Exclusive: phones were monitored and fake internet cafes set up to gather information from allies in London in 2009
Documents uncovered by the NSA whistleblower, Edward Snowden, reveal surveillance of G20 delegates’ emails and BlackBerrys. Photograph: Guardian
Foreign politicians and officials who took part in two G20 summit meetings in London in 2009 had their computers monitored and their phone calls intercepted on the instructions of their British government hosts, according to documents seen by the Guardian. Some delegates were tricked into using internet cafes which had been set up by British intelligence agencies to read their email traffic.
The revelation comes as Britain prepares to host another summit on Monday – for the G8 nations, all of whom attended the 2009 meetings which were the object of the systematic spying. It is likely to lead to some tension among visiting delegates who will want the prime minister to explain whether they were targets in 2009 and whether the exercise is to be repeated this week.
The disclosure raises new questions about the boundaries of surveillance by GCHQ and its American sister organisation, the National Security Agency, whose access to phone records and internet data has been defended as necessary in the fight against terrorism and serious crime. The G20 spying appears to have been organised for the more mundane purpose of securing an advantage in meetings. Named targets include long-standing allies such as South Africa and Turkey.
There have often been rumours of this kind of espionage at international conferences, but it is highly unusual for hard evidence to confirm it and spell out the detail. The evidence is contained in documents – classified as top secret – which were uncovered by the NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden and seen by the Guardian. They reveal that during G20 meetings in April and September 2009 GCHQ used what one document calls “ground-breaking intelligence capabilities” to intercept the communications of visiting delegations.
• Setting up internet cafes where they used an email interception programme and key-logging software to spy on delegates’ use of computers;
• Penetrating the security on delegates’ BlackBerrys to monitor their email messages and phone calls;
• Supplying 45 analysts with a live round-the-clock summary of who was phoning who at the summit;
• Targeting the Turkish finance minister and possibly 15 others in his party;
• Receiving reports from an NSA attempt to eavesdrop on the Russian leader, Dmitry Medvedev, as his phone calls passed through satellite links to Moscow.
The documents suggest that the operation was sanctioned in principle at a senior level in the government of the then prime minister, Gordon Brown, and that intelligence, including briefings for visiting delegates, was passed to British ministers.
A briefing paper dated 20 January 2009 records advice given by GCHQ officials to their director, Sir Iain Lobban, who was planning to meet the then foreign secretary, David Miliband. The officials summarised Brown’s aims for the meeting of G20 heads of state due to begin on 2 April, which was attempting to deal with the economic aftermath of the 2008 banking crisis. The briefing paper added: “The GCHQ intent is to ensure that intelligence relevant to HMG’s desired outcomes for its presidency of the G20 reaches customers at the right time and in a form which allows them to make full use of it.” Two documents explicitly refer to the intelligence product being passed to “ministers”.
One of the GCHQ documents. Photograph: Guardian
According to the material seen by the Guardian, GCHQ generated this product by attacking both the computers and the telephones of delegates.
One document refers to a tactic which was “used a lot in recent UK conference, eg G20”. The tactic, which is identified by an internal codeword which the Guardian is not revealing, is defined in an internal glossary as “active collection against an email account that acquires mail messages without removing them from the remote server”. A PowerPoint slide explains that this means “reading people’s email before/as they do”.
The same document also refers to GCHQ, MI6 and others setting up internet cafes which “were able to extract key logging info, providing creds for delegates, meaning we have sustained intelligence options against them even after conference has finished”. This appears to be a reference to acquiring delegates’ online login details.
Another document summarises a sustained campaign to penetrate South African computers, recording that they gained access to the network of their foreign ministry, “investigated phone lines used by High Commission in London” and “retrieved documents including briefings for South African delegates to G20 and G8 meetings”. (South Africa is a member of the G20 group and has observer status at G8 meetings.)
Another excerpt from the GCHQ documents. Photograph: Guardian
A detailed report records the efforts of the NSA’s intercept specialists at Menwith Hill in North Yorkshire to target and decode encrypted phone calls from London to Moscow which were made by the Russian president, Dmitry Medvedev, and other Russian delegates.
Other documents record apparently successful efforts to penetrate the security of BlackBerry smartphones: “New converged events capabilities against BlackBerry provided advance copies of G20 briefings to ministers … Diplomatic targets from all nations have an MO of using smartphones. Exploited this use at the G20 meetings last year.”
The operation appears to have run for at least six months. One document records that in March 2009 – the month before the heads of state meeting – GCHQ was working on an official requirement to “deliver a live dynamically updating graph of telephony call records for target G20 delegates … and continuing until G20 (2 April).”
Another document records that when G20 finance ministers met in London in September, GCHQ again took advantage of the occasion to spy on delegates, identifying the Turkish finance minister, Mehmet Simsek, as a target and listing 15 other junior ministers and officials in his delegation as “possible targets”. As with the other G20 spying, there is no suggestion that Simsek and his party were involved in any kind of criminal offence. The document explicitly records a political objective – “to establish Turkey’s position on agreements from the April London summit” and their “willingness (or not) to co-operate with the rest of the G20 nations”.
The September meeting of finance ministers was also the subject of a new technique to provide a live report on any telephone call made by delegates and to display all of the activity on a graphic which was projected on to the 15-sq-metre video wall of GCHQ’s operations centre as well as on to the screens of 45 specialist analysts who were monitoring the delegates.
“For the first time, analysts had a live picture of who was talking to who that updated constantly and automatically,” according to an internal review.
“There must be some kind of way out of here,” Said the joker to the thief, “There’s too much confusion, I can’t get no relief. Businessman they drink my wine, Plowman dig my earth None will level on the line, nobody offered his word, hey.”
“Ace” at Ace of Spades has built one of the more successful political blogs on a balanced combination of snark, community-building (who else can can boast of a community that proudly/ironically calls themselves “morons?”) and very insightful observations that a lot of folks simply miss.
Last night, I read (twice) a post he wrote called Snowden’s Looking a Little Dodgy, which was written in regards to the stories surrounding NSA leaker Edward Snowden that has been dominating the news cycle for the past few days. I’d suggest that you read it all and think over it’s ramifications.
The government must have a good reason for all of this. We don’t know what that reason is, but you’d have to be some kind of wild-eyed Birther type to think that a cover story that makes no sense at all is worth asking a few questions about.
So what I’m worried about here is that this Snowden doesn’t know what he’s talking about and has overhyped his disclosures, and that, in the coming days, we’ll find out that PRISM is less and less than he originally claimed it was. And then, the Institutional Class, having rubbished NSA-gate as also “akin to Birtherism,” will then take the IRS scandal to also be akin to Birtherism, and the EPA’s shellacking conservative groups with hundreds of thousands of dollars in costs for FOIA requests while freely providing them to liberal groups will be taken as akin to Birtherism, and suspicions about the James Rosen matter will be akin to Birtherism, and so on.
I am always fearful about seizing upon weak evidence especially when we have so much strong evidence — because mark my words, if the NSA scandal peters out, this will be the only scandal the Institutional Class will deign to discuss, and will categorize all other scandals as “like the so-called overblown NSA scandal.”
There is a distinct possibility Snowden’s story is being hyped by the Administration itself to divert us away from the real scandals—the joint ATF/EPA/FBI/IRS/OSHA/etc. harassment of Tea Party activists to cripple them organizations and prevent them from affecting the 2012 elections as they did the 2010 elections, for example—that should see the Obama Administration forced out of office.
The NSA scandal may be much ado about policy without criminality, distracting us from the real scandal an Administration that may have criminally abused their power across multiple Executive Branch agencies in order to effectively “steal” an election.
How do we know that the IRS (and I’m using that term as a loose identifier; it is in no way limited to just the IRS) scandal is where the fire is under all the smoke? By the Administration’s dogged determination to completely bury the issue and not give one inch.
Rep. Dave Camp, the Michigan Republican who chairs the House Ways and Means Committee, told a legal policy conference on Wednesday that his investigators still don’t know who inside the Obama administration first told IRS agents to aggressively target right-wing groups for extra scrutiny when they applied for tax-exempt status.
But, he said, he and his Republican colleagues have confirmed the partisan program did not originate in the agency’s Cincinnati, Ohio office – something Democrats have claimed.
White House Press Secretary Jay Carney has described the IRS’s ‘activity in Cincinnati’ as ‘line IRS employees in Cincinnati improperly scrutinizing 501(c)(4) [tax-exempt] organizations.’
‘We know it [the targeting] didn’t originate in Cincinnati,’ Camp said. ‘We still don’t know who did originate this.’
‘We have a lot of work to do,’ he told The Hill. ‘We’re not anywhere near being able to jump to conclusions. And there are a lot more people we have to talk to,’
But recent indications are that officials in Washington, either inside the IRS or higher up in the administration, had a hand in directing the activity of those Cincinnati agents.
We know, for a fact, that Tea Party groups were targets by multiple executive branch agencies for harassment and intimidation, and so we know on a logical level that orders for this coup d’etat camp from within the West Wing of the White House.
Forcing the media and Congress to focus on this scandal at the exclusion of everything else they would rather focus our attention on, is the only chance we have to get to the bottom of what can only be described as a direct assault on the electoral process by a sitting President.
Let me be very clear: Barack Obama would not be the current President of the United States if he had not directed executive branch agencies to criminally abuse their power in a broad conspiracy to target the Tea Party groups which decimated the Democrats in the House in the 2010 mid-term elections.This conspiracy was a frontal assault on the Constitution. Let’s force them to treat this plot as the crime it so clear is, and not just a political “scandal.”
Here we have a little trip down the yellow brick road of a liberal hack. I could be amused, but I’m not.
We watched Beck’s video below. Looked ominous! Within 24 Hours, Glenn Beck Will Break News That Will Take Down The Entire Power Structure. But alas, there were no major headlines/heads rolling/buildings burned or demolished around the necks of the traitors in Washington. Zip/zero/nothing. More than a “tad” disappointing.
Watch the video (I’ll call it #1) again please. At the 0:55 mark you will see a splice. Too little coffee, I didn’t see it. It’s there.
Next we have video #2, which just happens to be the full 4:44 minute ACTUAL segment from Wednesday from which video #1 was culled.
In this video starting at the 0:20 mark and going thru 1:16, Beck is talking about the amnesty bill that is being rammed down our throats. This portion of video #2 corresponds to the first 55 seconds of video #1.
The splice is made though Beck continues talking amnesty until the 3:15 mark. At that 3:15 mark he goes into a second subject, the whistleblower/heads are going to roll portion. That portion is tagged onto video #1 starting at 0:55.
So how did this little hack job come about? This from Glenn Beck’s show Thursday:
Beck: Ok, this goes to yesterday when I said in the next ten days you’re going to witness things in American history that you’ve never witnessed before and we will be telling you, making an announcement in the next 24 hours. That’s what I said yesterdayaccording to Salon.
‘He has a document he said that will take down the entire power structure, pretty much everything and greatly divide the nation.’
Beck: No, that’s two different things, that is separate, there is another shoe to drop. The document is only one document that I have seen out of thousands and that’s a separate issue. That is something that the senate is working with me on to protect the whistleblower. What I am going to tell you today is something that will greatly divide the nation but I will tell you, the house of representatives, I’ve never seen them more afraid.
The video was made by someone called Right Wing Watch dot org. I think you will find the Salon’s post interesting. It was written by Katie Mcdonough, assistant editor. Comedian not.
Harry Reid has attached himself to yet another media friendly, demographic identity cause this month after signing on as a co-sponsor to the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, or ENDA. The proposed legislation, which has been kicked around in Congress for years now, would ban at the Federal level any employment discrimination, “based on sexual orientation or gender identity.” It also gives Reid another super duper chance to hop behind the microphones.
“No one should face discrimination in their workplace based on sexual orientation,” Reid said in a statement to The Huffington Post. “It’s time to make fairness the law of the land. That is why I am co-sponsoring this legislation and I will do everything I can to ensure that it passes the Senate.”
Reid’s announcement makes him the 50th cosponsor of ENDA. He said earlier this week that he expects it to reach the Senate floor “soon.”
This particular bill, as I’m sure most of you could have predicted, has been a reliable lightning rod* and opportunity for the media to line up the bad guys. For the prime example, it’s serving as a convenient target to paste on Marco Rubio.
Rubio on ENDA (the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, which would protect LGBT people from being fired because of their sexual orientation or gender identity): “By and large I think all Americans should be protected but I’m not for any special protections based on orientation.”
Click through the link to get a taste of the howling protests coming over that assessment.
This legislation appears, at least on the surface, to be a textbook case of another bill which probably will accomplish a lot more in terms of fueling cable news wars than making any substantive change in society. The ostensible goal of the bill is one which, at the root of it, wouldn’t be opposed by very many people, including conservatives. In America, people should be able to compete for a job based on their own abilities and accomplishments and have the opportunity to excel and achieve. It’s the free market in action. Unfortunately, every time the federal government tries to get involved in the process they wind up trampling on the system they’re trying to fix, much like a bull being turned loose in a china shop.
Passing laws which seek to regulate how employers act in hiring and/or retaining employees has proven to be one area where government is least effective in “getting anything done” and most damaging when they invariably miss the target. Even assuming that you do have an employer or manager responsible for hiring and firing who is prejudiced against some particular group, these laws have almost no teeth. If “Sally” is the boss and she doesn’t like purple people, when a job opening comes up and some purple person applies for it, she need only find a reason why some other, non-purple applicant was a better fit for the job. And should a purple person turn up on the payroll, Sally would be foolish indeed to baldly announce that they were fired for their purpleness. She would instead wait a short period until there was some justification for a resource action and then eliminate them based on other stated criteria.
When Uncle Sam takes the next step, mandating that each employer must hire “x” percentage of purple persons to circumvent the preceding scenario, an entire new can of worms is opened. You now have a potentially huge pool of non-purple workers who may have been better qualified and more productive who are now passed over for employment. This results in the all too real, but despised and denied (in liberal circles) phenomenon of reverse discrimination.
But since the laws in question have massive political appeal, they are passed into law anyway and the real winners emerge: the lawyers. Because with the law in place, everyone who doesn’t get hired or is removed for cause of any sort finds themselves with the opportunity to sue the employer under the new rules. Dollars spent in such lawsuits and settlements are dollars not available to expand the payroll and get more workers off the unemployment lines.
No matter how well intended, ENDA has looked like yet another of these political fashion shows from the beginning, and apparently Reid has decided that the time has come to kick off the show. And from a political perspective, it’s pretty much a winner for liberals. Anyone who votes against it can immediately be branded a homophobe and tee up endless loops of commentary on the Sunday morning shows. Meanwhile, even if the bill stagnates, liberal voters supporting the proposal are left wondering… why didn’t Barack Obama do something about it by executive order when he clearly could have?
But that doesn’t make for a very good talk show segment, does it?
Nothing is ever new. The NSA’s monitoring of the internet and the phone records of millions of Americans surprised some people, and made the public as a whole fairly pissed off, but it’s not the first time US government has taken an Big Brotherly interest in its citizens. The feds have been tapping into the private lives of Americans without warrants and with the help of communication companies for nearly a century. Here are some of the more significant spying programs:
Herbert O. Yardley, the head of Black Chamber, who later revealed its secrets.
What many consider a predecessor of the NSA began in the 1920s, when a group of Army codebreakers working under the friendly-sounding moniker “Black Chamber” began a project to spy on other nations’ communications. Black Chamber’s chief was Herbert O. Yardley, considered to be one of the greatest cryptologists of all time. The idea was to monitor international telegraphs as the were sent to and from the US in search of anything that could affect national security—but first they had to get those telegraphs, so they asked the presidents of the major telegraph companies if they could see them.
Turns out, companies like Western Union were happy to comply. According to journalist James Bamford, who has reported widely on the NSA, Yardley later wrote: “After the men had put all our cards on the table, President Carlton [of Western Union] seemed anxious to do everything he could for us.”
The Black Chamber program set the template for a now-familiar story: a group is put in charge of monitoring communications in the name of national security and gains access to those communications through the cooperation of the private companies that own the communication infrastructure. It was Western Union telegrams back then; it’s Facebook messages now.
Funding for this program ended in 1929, and Yardley would go on to write a book titled The American Black Chamber that exposed the group’s activities. Quite possibly the first whistleblower in the American intelligence community, he is now disparaged on the NSA website and official histories, where he’s described as a “disgruntled” employee who wrote the book because he was “unemployed and accustomed to luxury.” The NSA calls the book itself a “monumental indiscretion” that put America in danger. But this exposure didn’t stop future spying programs.
Operation SHAMROCK began as an Army program in 1945. During World War II, the Army had legal access to the cables of the three major communication companies of the day (RCA Global, ITT, and Western Union). But with the war over and won, that access was considered illegal, though apparently the government didn’t want to just stop listening in. According to The Lawless State: The Crimes of the US Intelligence Agencies, the Army Signals Security Agency asked the companies to continued to let them monitor international cables. The companies agreed, but there was a twist. As the authors of The Lawless State wrote,“The government apparently never informed the cable companies that its activity was not limited to foreign targets but also analyzed and disseminated the telegrams of Americans.”
In 1952, the NSA was created and took over SHAMROCK and soon the agency—which the vast majority of Americans had never heard of—was intercepting 150,000 messages a month.
During the Church Committee hearings in 1975, which publicly revealed the existence of the NSA in the process of looking into misconduct of America’s intelligence agencies, Lew Allen Jr., the the NSA’s director at the time, said that Congress passed a law in 1959 that “provides authority to enable the NSA as the principal agency of the Government responsible for signals intelligence activities, to function without the disclosure of information which would endanger the accomplishment of its functions.” In other words, it could pretty much do what it liked.
The NSA used that freedom, according to a Congressional investigator who discovered SHAMROCK, to establish secret facilities in several cities, including New York, San Francisco, Washington DC, and San Antonio. In each city, NSA employees would go to the major telegraph companies and copy telegrams, with the companies’ permission but without warrants.
As Bamford describes it, agents would “bring [the telegrams] to an office masquerading as a television tape processing company. There they would use a machine to duplicate all the computer tapes containing the telegrams, and, hours later, return the original tapes to the company.”
This program, conducted illegally yet with full cooperation with the US government and the communication giants of the day, went on for 30 years. It didn’t end until 1975, when the secret finally came out thanks to the Church Committee.
Project MINARET, often described as a sibling to SHAMROCK, was a reaction to the social movements of the 1960s. This was the program the NSA used to target “domestic enemies,” a.k.a. those involved in civil rights and antiwar groups.
Around this time, the NSA had become a sort of tool for other federal agencies, like the FBI and CIA, who would supply names of “subversives” to monitor. The NSA didn’t need warrants to tap people’s phones and was more than happy to comply. The agency also worked with the Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs (the precursor to the DEA) to target suspected drug traffickers; this was the dawning of the war on drugs and the beginning of the federal government’s obsession with using controlled substances as an excuse to watch and arrest Americans. During the Church Committee hearings, Allen often mentioned “drug trafficking” in the same breath as “terrorism” when describing the objectives of his agency.
It took the Church Committee to expose the fact that both SHAMROCK and MINARET were blatantly illegal and in violation of the Fourth Amendment. That led to the passing, in 1978, of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), the law that established procedures for surveillance of communications. After FISA, if the government wanted to spy on suspected foreign agents within the US, they had to go to a secret court and get permission.
That may have slowed down the NSA’s surveillance programs, but it hardly stopped them.
ECHELON, Stellar Wind, and a Decade of Whistleblowers
“The average person doesn’t have a concept of the massive capability that is available to the National Security Agency,” said former NSA analyst William Weaver in a 2007 interview with Frontline. “Forget about the idea of a guy with earphones on listening to something. That’s not what happens. The calls are being sucked up by the millions and you’re engaged in data mining.”
Programs like SHAMROCK established the NSA’s model of using communication companies’ infrastructure to spy on Americans, but project ECHELON was the beginning of the government’s compulsive need to gather as much data from as many people as technologically possible.
ECHELON has never been formally recognized by the NSA; the agency’s official history doesn’t mention it. But it has been covered by many journalists around the world, including Nicky Hager, whose work led to an investigation by European Parliament. And now that we know what we know, it’s quite possibly the midwife of the now-famous PRISM program.
According to the Federation of American Scientists, ECHELON is “a global network of computers that automatically search through millions of intercepted messages for preprogrammed keywords or fax, telex, and e-mail addresses. Every word of every message in the frequencies and channels selected at a station is automatically searched.” This far-reaching operation is reportedly as a collaboration between the US, UK, Australia, and New Zealand governments
ECHELON probably has its roots in the 70s, but could have started earlier or later, since it’s still officially a secret. What is known is that once the Patriot Act was passed in 2001, the NSA got busy becoming the world’s largest data miner—and that technology wasn’t created overnight after 9/11.
Information about the NSA’s capabilities has been coming out in bits and pieces for years. In 2005, Justice Department lawyer Thomas Tamm and NSA analyst Russell Tice blew the whistle on the spy agency by telling the New York Times about a warrantless surveillance system being used to data-mine millions of phone calls and emails. This operation had been going on since 2001.
In 2006, AT&T technician Mark Klein exposed the NSA’s massive data collection operation in the AT&T building in San Francisco—a joint venture between the telecom giant and the spy agency. The operation became widely known as “Room 641A,” named after the roomful of supercomputers the NSA built to collect and analyze phone calls and internet traffic.
Also in 2006, NSA employee Thomas Andrews Drake talked publicly about Project Trailblazer, described by the Baltimore Sunas an attempt to create a system to analyze the “2 million bits of data the [NSA] collects every hour—a task that has grown increasingly complex with the advent of the internet, cell phones and instant messaging—and enable them quickly to identify the most important information.” The bloated program cost $1.2 billion and was a gigantic failure, proving that the government’s spy agencies sometimes make costly mistakes.
The NSA needed somewhere to store all this data it was gathering, of course. William Binney, a mathematician who worked for the agency, told the public exactly where that was when he gave the media information about Stellar Wind, a terrifyingly massive data-storage center in Utah where all your calls, emails, texts, and Facebook messages collected by PRISM are probably filed away.
While discussing the mass surveillance systems set-up after 2001, Binney told Wired: “[The NSA] violated the Constitution setting it up. But they didn’t care. They were going to do it anyway, and they were going to crucify anyone who stood in the way.”
Judging from the agency’s history, that should be the NSA’s official motto.
The United Nations has long been a cesspool of hostility towards the United States, Israel, and freedom more generally. It is dominated by those who promote and protect our enemies’ interests, while undermining ours. Worse yet, we pay much of the UN’s budget.
Past presidents have responded to this travesty by sending ambassadors to the UN who unapologetically challenged that agenda. In particular, Daniel Patrick Moynihan, Jeanne Kirkpatrick, and John Bolton were proud of our country and tirelessly championed its values.
It is, therefore, a particularly repugnant irony that President Obama wants to entrust Dr. Kirkpatrick’s former post to Samantha Power, a woman who epitomizes the left-wing partisans President Reagan’s ambassador famously characterized as the “Blame America First crowd.”
The contrast between Mr. Obama’s choice and these three former U.S. representatives could hardly be more stark. Prior to joining the Obama administration in 2003, Power compiled a record as a Harvard professor journalist, author, activist, and commentator that reads like a parody of an ivory tower leftist’s reflexive anti-Americanism, Israel-hatred, and infatuation with transnational progressivism.
Examples abound in her writings, speeches, and media appearances. Among the most instructive are the following (emphases added):
Power sees America as an enemy of freedom, rather than its indispensable defender: “Some anti-Americanism derives simply from our being a colossus that bestrides the earth. But much anti-Americanism derives from the role U.S. political, economic and military power has played in denying such freedoms to others.” (New Republic, March 3, 2003)
Power exemplifies the absurd yet “politically correct” notion that there is only a connection between some Muslims on the one hand and terrorism on the other if we say there is. This contention ignores reality; those who adhere to the Islamist doctrine of shariah must engage in jihad. Yet Power insists: “All we talk about is ‘Islamic terrorism.’ If the two words are associated for long enough it’s obviously going to have an effect on how people think about Muslims.” (New Statesman, March 6, 2008)
Power confirms that her activist agenda of remaking the world, rather than a commitment to objective reporting, prompted her to join the Fourth Estate: “I got into journalism not to be a journalist but to try to change American foreign policy. I’m a corny person. I was a dreamer predating my journalistic life, so I got into journalism as a means to try to change the world.” (Salon, February 18, 2008)
Power insists on subordinating the United States to the dictates of the “international community”: “Influence is best measured not only by military hardware and GDP, but also by other people’s perceptions that we, the United States, are using our power legitimately. That belief – that we are acting in the interests of the global commons and in accordance with the rule of law – is what the military would call a ‘force multiplier.’ It enhances the U.S. ability to get what it wants from other countries and other players.” (New Statesman, March 6, 2008)
Ditto: “The United States must cease its reliance on gratuitous unilateralism. We make rules and create international institutions precisely in order to bind states when their short-term interests would otherwise lead them toward defection…” (New Republic, March 3, 2003)
Power’s commitment to transnationalism prompts her to trivialize the infringement on U.S. sovereignty entailed in submitting to the “interests of the global commons” and the authority of “international institutions”: “Only U.S. resources and leadership can turn such institutions [as the International Criminal Court] into forces for the international stability that is indispensable to U.S. security. Besides, giving up a pinch of sovereignty will not deprive the United States of the tremendous military and economic leverage it has at its disposal as a last resort. (New Republic, March 3, 2003)
Although Power has subsequently made a point of apologizing for and professing bewilderment about a particularly egregious example of her anti-Israel sentiments and her attachment to the “responsibility to protect” – in this case Palestinians from Israeli oppressors, the following statement was both clear and seemingly menacingly heartfelt at the time: “…It may more crucially mean sacrificing – or investing, I think, more than sacrificing – billions of dollars, not in servicing Israel’s military, but actually investing in the new state of Palestine, in investing the billions of dollars it would probably take, also, to support what will have to be a mammoth protection force, not of the old Rwanda kind, but a meaningful military presence. Because it seems to me at this stage (and this is true of actual genocides as well, and not just major human rights abuses, which were seen there), you have to go in as if you’re serious, you have to put something on the line.” (Video interview with Harry Kreisler)
Samantha Power’s alarming transnationalism is also expressed in her enthusiasm for the U.S. to redistribute its wealth to less developed nations, as envisioned in the UN’s Millennium Development Goals. Power’s reflexive willingness to run down her country as a cheapskate when it comes to foreign assistance ignores our generous underwriting of the United Nations and the unmatched magnanimousness of the American people through private charity. Particularly illuminating is her insistence that we must aid – and although unsaid here, for that matter, intervene militarily on behalf of – countries as long as we have no interest in them: “I think the United States must change its relationship to the Millennium Development Goals. It would make an enormous difference practically and in terms of public diplomacy if we were not second-to-last among rich countries in giving aid away; if we were giving money away, investing in societies that actually don’t have anything to do with our national security. The instances where we make sacrifices strictly in order to benefit other people are so few and far between. Even our democracy rhetoric is so rooted in a story about security and how non-democracies become threats and so on.” (Interview with the one-worlder organization Citizens for Global Solutions)
Republicans on the committee that will shortly consider her nomination may wish to reflect on her contempt for that panel when the GOP ran it: “The Senate Foreign Relations Committee seems largely toothless. It is not your father’s Senate Foreign Relations Committee, not your mother’s. No hearings on sensitive issues and that means no meaningful oversight.” (Citizens for Global Solutions interview, cont’d)
The single most troubling quote, however, comes from Power’s 2003 New Republic article. In a carefully crafted essay – not a slip of the tongue, not an ill-considered, off-hand remark on television – she accuses her country of criminal conduct justifying the sort of abasement that post-World War II Germany’s chancellor engaged in to atone for the sins of the Nazis:
U.S. foreign policy has to be rethought. It needs not tweaking but overhauling. We need: a historical reckoning with crimes committed, sponsored, or permitted by the United States… Instituting a doctrine of the mea culpa would enhance our credibility by showing that American decision-makers do not endorse the sins of their predecessors. When Willie Brandt went down on one knee in the Warsaw ghetto, his gesture was gratifying to World War II survivors, but it was also ennobling and cathartic for Germany… (New Republic, March 3, 2003) [emphases added]
The American people do not need to populate the United Nations with any more anti- or post-Americans, especially as their “representative” to that organization. Someone who equates the United States with Adolf Hitler’s Germany, someone who has for years derided the U.S. contribution to freedom and a better planet, someone who yearns for a new world order in which our nation is not only unexceptional but subject to the dictates of others, is not someone we want anywhere near Turtle Bay.
What we need now, more than ever, is an American patriot at the UN. The Senate must reject Samantha Power, who will share – and help promote – the United Nation’s rabid enmity towards and relentless undermining of this country and the cause of freedom.
Frank J. Gaffney, Jr. formerly acted as an Assistant Secretary of Defense under President Reagan. He is President of the Center for Security Policy, a columnist for the Washington Times, and host of the nationally syndicated program Secure Freedom Radio.
Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) is facing some tough decisions in the coming weeks. [WATCH VIDEO]
By and large, Boehner has dodged controversy since January, when his political stock took major hits as Congress debated the fiscal cliff and Sandy relief. But that respite will soon come to an end.
Among the testy issues facing Boehner: Immigration reform, a five-year farm bill, the constitutionality of the National Security Agency (NSA) surveillance programs, a possible government shutdown and increasing the federal debt limit.
Boehner has already committed to moving a five-year farm measure, which is set for a vote on the floor this week. But there are sure to be dozens of GOP defections.
Meanwhile, revelations of National Security Agency (NSA) data-mining programs that culled phone and Internet records of Americans have caused angst for some in the GOP, who fear overzealous government intrusion.
A handful of GOP lawmakers suggested moving legislation to address the possible Constitutional violations, and spoke out on the matter to their leaders at a closed-door conference meeting last week.
In a recent interview, CBS Evening News host Scott Pelley said that he thinks that Fox News really doesn’t have very many viewers—underestimating the network’s actual ratings by about 90 percent.
Pelley toldDeadline Hollywood that Fox might have perhaps as few as “200,000 viewers.”
Deadline asked Pelley what he thought of the cable news outlets that cater to “just one segment of the political spectrum in their reporting.”
“Certainly. It’s no surprise,” Pelley replied. “Fox is associated with the right and MSNBC is associated with the left and they’ve done that because it is a business model. It’s a strategy. They’ve decided to bite off one small part of the viewership and be happy with that 200,000 viewers, 300,000 viewers that they have.”
Pelley went on to note that his network reached many millions. “But when you are talking to 7 million viewers across the country,” Pelley boasted, “you have got to represent everybody’s views and have got to give them the impression that you are being as honest as you know how to be.”
As Newsbusters notes, the numbers are quite a lot higher—in fact, 200,000 often constitutes only ten percent of the actual figure.
According to TV Newser, Fox averaged 1.5 million viewers per hour last Monday, and 2.15 million in primetime.
The O’Reilly Factor had 3 million viewers, The Five had 2.2 million as did Special Report.
TV Newser has also reported that Pelley’s news broadcast reached a few million less than the seven million he ascribed to himself. The television reporting site found that the Evening News drew about 5.7 million in the latest ratings books.
The is a far different matter from the oh-so-controversial Bush program of wiretapping international phone calls to and from terror hotbeds.
The National Security Agency has acknowledged in a new classified briefing that it does not need court authorization to listen to domestic phone calls.
Rep. Jerrold Nadler, a New York Democrat, disclosed this week that during a secret briefing to members of Congress, he was told that the contents of a phone call could be accessed “simply based on an analyst deciding that”… If the NSA wants “to listen to the phone,” an analyst’s decision is sufficient, without any other legal authorization required, Nadler said he learned. “I was rather startled,” said Nadler, an attorney and congressman who serves on the House Judiciary committee.
Not only does this disclosure shed more light on how the NSA’s formidable eavesdropping apparatus works domestically, it also suggests the Justice Department has secretly interpreted federal surveillance law to permit thousands of low-ranking analysts to eavesdrop on phone calls… Nadler’s disclosure indicates the NSA analysts could also access the contents of Internet communications without going before a court and seeking approval.
The disclosure appears to confirm some of the allegations made by Edward Snowden, a former NSA infrastructure analyst who leaked classified documents to the Guardian. Snowden said in a video interview that, while not all NSA analysts had this ability, he could from Hawaii “wiretap anyone from you or your accountant to a federal judge to even the president.”
There are serious “constitutional problems” with this approach, said Kurt Opsahl, a senior staff attorney at the Electronic Frontier Foundation who has litigated warrantless wiretapping cases. “It epitomizes the problem of secret laws.”
[Furthermore,] the NSA records the phone calls of 500,000 to 1 million people who are on its so-called target list, and perhaps even more. “They look through these phone numbers and they target those and that’s what they record…”
…Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), the head of the Senate Intelligence committee, separately acknowledged this week that the agency’s analysts have the ability to access the “content of a call.”
…Jameel Jaffer, director of the ACLU’s Center for Democracy, says he was surprised to see the 2008 FISA Amendments Act be used to vacuum up information on American citizens. “Everyone who voted for the statute thought it was about international communications,” he said.
• The NSA admits listening to U.S. phone calls without warrants;
• Federal officials are targeting up to 1 million people in the U.S.;
Curiously, Major Nidal Hasan and the Tsarnaev brothers were somehow overlooked.
…Sensenbrenner, who introduced the PATRIOT Act on the House floor in 2001, has declared that lawmakers’ and the executive branch’s excuses about recent revelations of NSA activity are “a bunch of bunk.”
In an interview on Laura Ingraham’s radio show Wednesday morning, the Republican congressman from Wisconsin reiterated his concerns that the administration and the secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act court have gone far beyond what the PATRIOT Act intended. Specifically, he said that Section 215 of the act “was originally drafted to prevent data mining” on the scale that’s occurred.
Since we know the instrumentalities of the federal government have targeted Obama’s political opposition — including the Department of Labor, the EPA and the IRS — I have a sneaking suspicion that there are plenty of Tea Party activists, Constitutional conservatives, religious Christians, and Jews, on the list of this administration’s targets.
We are witnessing the de-evolution of this country into a Banana Republic.
CLYDE, N.Y. — A man who says he caught four boys vandalizing his father-in-law’s home has been charged with child endangerment after corralling them in a closet until police arrived.
Jesse Daniels was arraigned on four counts of endangering the welfare of a child after authorities say he interrupted the vandalism at the empty home in the Wayne County village of Clyde, midway between Rochester and Syracuse.
Daniels, 53, told WHAM-TV in Rochester that he heard pounding coming from the home next door the night of June 8. The house is empty while Daniels renovates it for his father-in-law.
Daniels said he went to investigate while his wife called 911. He said he found four boys, ages 8 and 10, inside with hammers. He took a hammer from one, then stuck the boys in a closet until officers arrived, he said.
“I was fortunate that they were in that room that had a closet, so I put them in the closet,” he said. “I said, ‘Listen, you guys are staying here until the police come, period.’”
Their parents said Daniels handled the boys roughly and threatened them with the hammer.
The damage to the home included holes in the walls, broken windows and graffiti derogatory to women spray-painted on walls. Daniels estimated that the damage to his father-in-law’s property exceeds $40,000.
He said he believed the boys committed the vandalism in retaliation for Daniels’ wife telling them earlier in the day to stay off the couple’s property.
The boys have been charged with burglary and criminal mischief. Their cases are being handled in Wayne County Family Court.
Paul Bowler, the father of two of the boys, told the station that there are no excuses for his sons’ actions.
“I understand they were in the wrong, but there are other ways to handle it,” he said. “He (Daniels) knew who the kids were. It’s not like they were strangers. And send the kids home and call the cops then. You don’t sit there and torment them and tell them you’re going to bash their skulls in with a hammer.”
Bowler said Daniels grabbed the neck of one of his sons and left a mark. He said that his boys are traumatized and that Daniels should have faced more charges.
Daniels counters that he was just trying to protect his family.
Daniels is due back in court later this month. It wasn’t immediately clear if he has a lawyer.
Wayne County District Attorney Richard Healy told the station that the incident is still under investigation.
Fox News reporter struggled with painful eye condition for more than a year
FOX NEWS - Supreme Court reporter Shannon Bream struggled with a painful eye condition for more than a year.
Washington — When President Obama goes to sub-Saharan Africa this month, the federal agencies charged with keeping him safe won’t be taking any chances.
Hundreds of U.S. Secret Service agents will be dispatched to secure facilities in Senegal, South Africa and Tanzania. A Navy aircraft carrier or amphibious ship, with a fully staffed medical trauma center, will be stationed offshore in case of an emergency.
Military cargo planes will airlift in 56 support vehicles, including 14 limousines and three trucks loaded with sheets of bulletproof glass to cover the windows of the hotels where the first family will stay. Fighter jets will fly in shifts, giving 24-hour coverage over the president’s airspace, so they can intervene quickly if an errant plane gets too close.
The elaborate security provisions — which will cost the government tens of millions of dollars — are outlined in a confidential internal planning document obtained by The Washington Post. While the preparations appear to be in line with similar travels in the past, the document offers an unusual glimpse into the colossal efforts to protect the U.S. commander in chief on trips abroad.
Any journey by the president, such as one scheduled this week for Northern Ireland and Germany, is an immense and costly logistical challenge. But the trip to Africa is complicated by a confluence of factors that could make it one of the most expensive of Obama’s tenure, according to people familiar with the planning.
The first family is making back-to-back stops from June 26 to July 3 in three countries where U.S. officials are providing nearly all the resources, rather than depending heavily on local police forces, military authorities or hospitals for assistance.
The president and first lady had also planned to take a Tanzanian safari as part of the trip, which would have required the president’s special counterassault team to carry sniper rifles with high-caliber rounds that could neutralize cheetahs, lions or other animals if they became a threat, according to the planning document.
But officials said Thursday that the safari had been canceled in favor of a trip to Robben Island off the coast of Cape Town, South Africa, where Nelson Mandela was held as a political prisoner.
When The Post first asked White House officials about the safari this month, they said no final decision had been made. A White House official said Thursday that the cancellation was not related to The Post’s inquiries.
“We do not have a limitless supply of assets to support presidential missions, and we prioritized a visit to Robben Island over a two-hour safari in Tanzania,” said spokesman Josh Earnest. “Unfortunately, we couldn’t do both.”
Internal administration documents circulated in April show that the Obama family was scheduled to go to both Robben Island and the safari park, according to a person familiar with the plans.
Former presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush also made trips to multiple African nations involving similarly laborious preparations. Bush went in 2003 and 2008, bringing his wife on both occasions. Bush’s two daughters went along on the first trip, which included a safari at a game preserve on the Botswana-South Africa border.
Some 17 months before Election Day 2014, Vice President Biden is on his way to becoming a full time fundraiser for the Democratic Party, having been scheduled to host events four out of five days this week.
Biden’s new full time occupation is part of what has become an take-no-prisoners White House campaign to seize Congress for the Democrats and rule as much as possible by fiat the last two years of President Obama’s term.
Let’s go raise some cash.
Obama Wednesday staged three fundraisers in two states, bringing his total for the year to 18. And now Biden too is jumping onto the money-grabbing circuit with gusto.
As the vice president tours the country raising cash, taxpayers will foot a substantial portion of bill, especially when “official” non-political events are thrown in, as is the case with Biden’s fundraiser in California Friday.
Biden’s fundraising not only helps Obama but, perhaps more importantly for Biden, it builds up IOUs among Democrats whose support he will seek should he run for president in 2016, as widely expected.
Biden started the week with a fundraiser for the Democratic National Committee in Washington Monday. On Tuesday, he attended another Washington event, this one for Rep. Ed Markey, the Democratic Senate candidate in Massachusetts.
Biden took Wednesday off. He was scheduled to attend another DNC fundraiser Thursday in Washington, but the event was called off because of forecasts for heavy rain.
Today he will travel San Francisco to once again raise money for the DNC. But first he will land at Camp Pendleton for an official event with children of military service members who have been killed. The event will help defray the costs to the DNC of bringing Biden out to California.