District Court Judge James Boasberg ruled against a journalist on Tuesday who had tried to uncover the classified documents – known as the Panetta Review, because they was completed under orders from former agency Director Leon Panetta – under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). The CIA had used ‘sound’ reasoning in keeping the documents secret, Boasberg decided in a 19-page judgment, preventing it from making its way to the public. The documents ‘may be withheld in full,’ Boasberg added.
Between protracted violence in Iraq, the bloody civil war in Syria, continued instability in Libya, and most recently, the collapse of the Yemeni government and subsequent Saudi-led military incursion, one might be able to make a compelling case for the notion that the Middle East was better off when it was run by dictators. Simply put: as the death toll mounts from the various regional conflicts, one wonders if trading autocratic rule for some semblance of stability isn’t all that bad of a compromise. That said, US foreign policy seems to be everywhere and always inept especially as it relates to the Arab world and as CNN notes, propping up dictatorships at the expense of basic rights and freedoms sows the seeds for violent revolution even as it can serve to keep a fragile status quo intact for long periods of time. From CNN: Before 2011, what the West most valued in the Middle East was stability rather than democracy. Arab dictatorships were tolerated for decades despite their cruelty because they served Western economic, political, and security interests. In Egypt, Hosni Mubarak was seen as the bulwark of peace with Israel. In Libya, a reformed Moammar Gadhafi was courted for potential investment and trade agreements. In Syria, Bashar al-Assad was a predictable leader who maintained the Golan Heights as a conflict-free zone. In Yemen, Ali Abdullah Saleh was regarded as an ally against al Qaeda. Dictatorships kept the status quo manageable. Government suppression of activism and of the alternative voices of civil society and independent media meant that top-down decisions were rarely contested. This pretty much guaranteed that Western interests would be served without too many complications.
This post was published at Zero Hedge on 03/31/2015.
Retired Counterintelligence Officer Claims Intelligence Agency’s Office of Security Dropped the Ball A former CIA spy manager is raising a serious question about the way the intelligence agency handled the national-security risk raised in the case of Jeffrey Sterling, a former CIA officer who was recently convicted on espionage charges for leaking classified information to New York Times reporter James Risen. Leutrell Osborne is a 27-year veteran of the CIA who as a case officer oversaw spies and assets in 30 countries. He said he befriended Sterling, who like Osborne is African American, during the course of a discrimination lawsuit Sterling initiated against the CIA in 2000. That litigation was ultimately dismissed by the courts in early 2006 due to the government’s national security claims. ‘I decided to assist Jeffrey [Sterling] in his discrimination case because I had respect for him because he was a black man, an attorney and a spy manager, and part of the reason I worked at the CIA was so people like him could follow me,’ said Osborne, a CIA employee from 1957-1984. [Video: Leutrell Osborne: Black Man in the CIA] Osborne, who now runs a business-consulting firm, had numerous interactions and conversations with Sterling, which he said should have been of interest to the CIA’s Office of Security in the course of any internal agency investigation of potential classified-information leaks. However, Osborne said the CIA never contacted him about Sterling, prior to or during the course of the criminal investigation targeting Sterling. That criminal investigation, which led to Sterling’s indictment in 2010, was initiated by at least 2008 – when reporter Risen was first subpoenaed in the case. Osborne also said that, to date, the CIA has not returned a call he made to the agency shortly after Sterling’s conviction in late January. If the CIA was truly concerned that Sterling was leaking classified information, then the agency should have vetted anyone who had his confidence, particularly current and former CIA personnel, to determine the extent of his alleged espionage activities, Osborne contends.
Shortly after the US equity mnarkets closed, headlines crossed from Switzerland seemingly confirming “no deal” with Iran…P5 1 MINISTERS PLAN TO LEAVE LAUSANNE IN MORNING but that was quickly watered down with a warning that Iran has until dawn to agree to the deal. This sent WTI up modestly and then API Crude inventories, which were expected to rise 4.2mm barrels, printed 5.2mm barrels – the 12th weekly rise in a row. Crude was slow to react but after a brief fade, shot higher… As Bloomberg reports, World Powers Tell Iran They Want Deal by Dawn, Diplomat Says
This post was published at Zero Hedge on 03/31/2015.
Guangzhou: New Hot Spot of China’s War on Terror, Obama’s Decision to Slow Withdrawal Undermines Afghan Peace Talks & More *The Great Game Round-Up brings you the latest newsworthy developments regarding Central Asia and the Caucasus region. We document the struggle for influence, power, hegemony and profits in Central Asia and the Caucasus region between a U. S.-dominated NATO, its GCC proxies, Russia, China and other regional players. In recent weeks, Uyghur terrorists have been making headlines in several countries, ranging from Turkey to Indonesia and of course China. The Chinese authorities are increasingly concerned that Uyghur would-be terrorists who travel to the Middle East could return and fuel the insurgency in China’s Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region. Xinjiang’s party chief Zhang Chunxian revealed during a meeting at the annual session of the National People’s Congress that local authorities “have broken up terror groups who were plotting violent attacks on Chinese soil after fighting in battles in Syria with the IS.” Although ISIS’s threat to China is often exaggerated, Beijing’s concerns are not unfounded. As discussed in a recent episode of Porkins Great Game, efforts are underway to smuggle Uyghurs out of China and turn them into jihadist mercenaries for U. S.-NATO terror operations. In order to nip the threat in the bud, Beijing wants to prevent Uyghurs from fleeing the country and catch those who have left: China’s Secret Plan to Track Militants and Bring Them Home Days after Indonesia arrested four Uighur terrorism suspects in September in the country’s east, China dispatched three intelligence officers to ask authorities to hand them over. While Indonesia initially demurred, China has now secured a preliminary agreement for the men to be returned after a trial in Jakarta, according to Irfan Idris, a senior official at Indonesia’s anti-terrorism agency. The four, who are yet to be charged, face potential execution if repatriated. China pressed for the deal as part of a global operation begun last year to return terrorism suspects to Chinese soil, according to two people familiar with the matter who asked not to be identified because the initiative is confidential. Many of the suspects are members of the Turkic-speaking Uighur Muslim minority, they said.
Religious Freedom Act Take II I received a number of emails in response to Indiana Legalizes Discrimination on Grounds of “Religious Freedom”. The bill, signed by Indiana Governor Mike Pence openly encourages discrimination based on sexual preference although Pence incredulously denies that claim. Pence now recognizes the need to “clarify” the legislation. One of the better email responses came from reader Mark who wrote … The Constitution plainly states “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” The Constitutional guarantee of religious freedom is sacrosanct. The only restrictions placed on religious freedom are those religious practices that harm others. And I would say ‘Yes’ if you wanted to post a ‘No Catholics’ or ‘No Jews’ sign on the front door of your business. I would also warn, in the same breath, that you may find your business surrounded by protestors and boycotted the very next day. That is the market forces at work. Even though I am neither a Catholic nor a Jew, I would not do business with someone that had that sign on their front door. That is my choice, too. Mark If It Ain’t Broken, Don’t Fix It I replied …
The Russian military is in the midst of a sweeping modernization program, and it is currently developing some incredibly impressive offensive and defensive next-generation weapons that are designed to be used in a future war with the United States. The key to winning World War III will be to strike hard and to strike fast, and the Russians understand this. Meanwhile, the U. S. military has totally shifted gears from a ‘Cold War mindset’ and is now completely focused on fighting smaller regional wars in the Middle East and elsewhere. As a result, U. S. strategic forces have suffered. There has been very little effort to modernize, and many of our nuclear missile silos are using technology that is ridiculously outdated. For example, CBS News has documented that eight inch floppy disks are still being used in many of our missile silos. And don’t expect things to change any time soon. At this point, the U. S. military plans to keep Minuteman intercontinental ballistic missiles that were originally deployed in the 1960s and 1970s in service until 2030. What all of this means is that the Russians are feverishly preparing to fight World War III and we are not. The following are just a few of the next-generation weapons that Russia will use against the United States during the next great global war… The Sarmat Intercontinental Ballistic Missile Most Americans have heard of the infamous SS-18 ‘Satan’ intercontinental ballistic missiles. But these are now being replaced by the Sarmat intercontinental ballistic missile…
Isn’t it interesting how an agenda is so often posed as a debate even though there is usually only one side? Or, when a synthesis of the two is the actual goal? That’s how things are presented to adults, usually on television. Or rather, ‘adult-children.’ So that it looks like they have an informed choice. Unfortunately, children in many public schools don’t even have the semblance of a two-sided joust. They are expected to download beliefs. As you will see below, it doesn’t even matter if they get the answers correct, as long as they assimilate the connotation. The feeling. The message. The gist. And they will (if no one shows them otherwise) – I remember. A lot of buzz is currently swarming on Robyn O’Brien’s Facebook page. She wrote The Unhealthy Truth… and is sometimes called the Erin Brockovich of food. Over the weekend, a father sent her his 6th grade child’s homework from Science class. It asks (and then answers) the question: Are genetically modified foods safe to eat? This homework assignment first appeared on the Robyn O’Brien Facebook Page. Robyn asks: ‘Can you imagine if children were informed of the recent concern around the glyphosate sprayed on these crops? Or of the benefits of organic agriculture?’
An Iranian journalist writing about the nuclear negotiations between the United States and Iran has defected. In an interview Amir Hossein Motaghi, has some harsh words for his native Iran. He also has a damning indictment of America's role in the nuclear negotiations. “The U.S. negotiating team are mainly there to speak on Iran’s behalf with other members of the 5 1 countries and convince them of a deal," Motaghi told a TV station after just defecting from the Iranian delegation while abroad for the nuclear talks. The P 5 1 is made up of United States, United Kingdom, Russia, China, France, plus Germany.
While attention has been focused in recent weeks on the role of Russia and President Vladimir Putin in brokering a new ceasefire in eastern Ukraine, the Russian president has made time for two crucial state missions—one to Cyprus and one to Egypt. What they both share in common is a border on the shore of the eastern Mediterranean Sea, a strategic body of water whose importance in the escalating NATO confrontation with Russia cannot be underestimated. For more than 2000 years the Mediterranean Sea has been one of the world’s most strategic waters. It joins Middle East oil and gas with markets in the European Union. It joins Indian Ocean shipping, increasingly from China, India, South Korea and the rest of Asia to European markets and to the Atlantic Ocean through the Egyptian Suez Canal. It joins the vital Russian Black Sea Fleet naval base in Crimea to both the Atlantic and Indian Ocean. In brief it connects Europe, Eurasia and Africa. With this in mind, let’s look at Putin’s most recent travels.
Dent opened his door and was dragged out of his Cadillac; almost immediately, Melendez put him in a chokehold. Melendez then proceeded to deliver 16 blows to Dent’s temple. This all took place in about 15 seconds. Another officer arrived moments later and proceeded to use a taser stun gun against Dent, three times. In the video, Dent, with blood dripping from his forehead and cheek, appears not to be resisting Melendez’s efforts to arrest him. Melendez’s record shows he has faced similar allegations before. At one point, he garnered more citizen complaints than any officer in Detroit, where he started his career in 1993 and served until his resignation in 2009. He entered Inkster’s police force a year later. Over nearly two decades, Melendez has been named as a defendant in a dozen federal lawsuits, accused of planting evidence, wrongfully killing unarmed civilians, falsifying police reports and conducting illegal arrests. Some suits were settled out of court. Others were dismissed. In 1996, Melendez, who was known in Detroit as ‘RoboCop’, and his partner shot and killed Lou Adkins. While Adkins was on the ground, several witnesses said the officers shot him 11 times, according to the Detroit Free Press. The case was settled for $1.05m, court records show. – From the Guardian article: How a Traffic Stop Left a Michigan Man Beaten, Bloodied and Bitter at Police Michigan police officer William Melendez has a sordid reputation. Amongst other things, he has come to be known as ‘Robocop’ for his shady and often violent behavior. Additionally, he was ‘cited as the ringleader of numerous officers indicted by a federal grand jury in 2003 on civil rights violations.’ In contrast, Detroit native Floyd Dent worked at Ford for 37-years, has no criminal record and seems to be a decent and thoughtful citizen. He just happens to be black, driving at night, and had the unfortunate experience of running into William ‘Robocop’ Melendez on the evening of January 28, 2015. One of these individuals should be behind bars for a very long time, and one of them shouldn’t. From the Guardian:
Last month, I highlighted Jeb Bush’s passionate and relentless support for the fascist, authoritarian and unconstitutional activities of the NSA in the post, Jeb Bush Exposed Part 2 – He Thinks Unconstitutional NSA Spying is ‘Hugely Important.’ Here’s an excerpt: Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, who is seriously considering a run for the White House in 2016, said Wednesday that the National Security Agency’s program that collects bulk telephone records was ‘hugely important,’ throwing his support behind the practice as Congress debates whether to reauthorize or limit it. At an event on foreign policy hosted by the Chicago Council on Global Affairs, Mr. Bush, a Republican, said, ‘For the life of me, I don’t understand the debate’ over the metadata program. Just in case you think he may have been misunderstood, Breitbart has embedded a brief audio clip from an interview with him from yesterday’s ‘Hugh Hewitt Show.’ If you read between the lines, it becomes clear that what most concerns Bush is that people are getting information from various sources as opposed to being force-fed status quo propaganda through ‘trusted’ media outlets. For example:
In what has been the world’s longest negotiation (we are only modestly joking: the Iran P5 1 nuclear “talks” started in 2013 and have yet to achieve anything) one whose “rolling deadline” has been breached time and time again, it appears that with today’s latest deadline just hours away, the most likely outcome is another deadline extension even though, as Reuters puts it, “Iran and six world powers ramped up the pace on Tuesday in negotiations over a preliminary deal on Tehran’s nuclear program, while officials cautioned that any agreement would likely be fragile and incomplete.” The negotiations, which we have largely ignored covering as the past has abundantly shown that nothing ever actually gets done except for a lot of talking, posturing, gesticulating and pizza-ordering, have seen the United States, Britain, France, Germany, Russia and China trying to break an impasse in the talks, which are aimed at stopping Iran from gaining the capacity to develop a nuclear bomb in exchange for easing international sanctions that are crippling its economy. As a reminder, it is the “threat” of an amicable resolution and a resumption in Iran oil exports that has been presented as the cause for oil’s most recent weakness. According to the conventional narrative “disagreements on enrichment research and the pace of lifting sanctions threatened to scupper a deal that could end a 12-year standoff between Iran and the West over Tehran’s nuclear ambitions and reduce the risk of another Middle East war.” “The two sticking points are the duration and the lifting of sanctions,” an Iranian official said. “The two sides are arguing about the content of the text. Generally progress has been made.” They said the main sticking points remain the removal of U. N. sanctions and Iranian demands for the right to unfettered research and development into advanced nuclear centrifuges after the first 10 years of the agreement expires.
This post was published at Zero Hedge on 03/31/2015.
The following video depicts three black men beating a white man on a metro train. There has been no outrage from Jessie Jackson or Al Sharpton, so we can safely assume this was just random violence and the attackers and victim just happened to be of different skin color. Otherwise, we’re sure there’d be calls by the Justice Department for investigations into the matter and protest swarms would be gathering across St. Louis. The Truth Revolt reports: The unnamed victim, 43, recounted the story to a local station. He said that one of the men (red shirt) asked to use his cell phone. When he said no, the suspect sat down and asked his opinion on the Michael Brown incident. The victim said, ‘I responded I was too tired to think about it right now.’
This post was published at shtfplan on March 30th, 2015.
Last week, a coalition of predominantly Sunni Arab countries, primarily from the Arabian Peninsula and organized by Saudi Arabia, launched airstrikes in Yemen that have continued into this week. The airstrikes target Yemeni al-Houthis, a Shiite sect supported by Iran, and their Sunni partners, which include the majority of military forces loyal to former President Ali Abdullah Saleh. What made the strikes particularly interesting was what was lacking: U. S. aircraft. Although the United States provided intelligence and other support, it was a coalition of Arab states that launched the extended air campaign against the al-Houthis. Three things make this important. First, it shows the United States’ new regional strategy in operation. Washington is moving away from the strategy it has followed since the early 2000s – of being the prime military force in regional conflicts – and is shifting the primary burden of fighting to regional powers while playing a secondary role. Second, after years of buying advanced weaponry, the Saudis and the Gulf Cooperation Council countries are capable of carrying out a fairly sophisticated campaign, at least in Yemen. The campaign began by suppressing enemy air defenses – the al-Houthis had acquired surface-to-air missiles from the Yemeni military – and moved on to attacking al-Houthi command-and-control systems. This means that while the regional powers have long been happy to shift the burden of combat to the United States, they are also able to assume the burden if the United States refuses to engage. Most important, the attacks on the al-Houthis shine the spotlight on a growing situation in the region: a war between the Sunnis and Shiites. In Iraq and Syria, a full-scale war is underway. A battle rages in Tikrit with the Sunni Islamic State and its allies on one side, and a complex combination of the Shiite-dominated Iraqi army, Shiite militias, Sunni Arab tribal groups and Sunni Kurdish forces on the other. In Syria, the battle is between the secular government of President Bashar al Assad – nevertheless dominated by Alawites, a Shiite sect – and Sunni groups. However, Sunnis, Druze and Christians have sided with the regime as well. It is not reasonable to refer to the Syrian opposition as a coalition because there is significant internal hostility. Indeed, there is tension not only between the Shiites and Sunnis, but also within the Shiite and Sunni groups. In Yemen, a local power struggle among warring factions has been branded and elevated into a sectarian conflict for the benefit of the regional players. It is much more complex than simply a Shiite-Sunni war. At the same time, it cannot be understood without the Sunni-Shiite component.
CARSON CITY, NV – Tomorrow the Nevada state legislature will be hearing a bill which could potentially transform the land use across the southwest. Nevadan’s Resource Rights Bill AB408 would effectively open the door for residents to develop land resources in traditionally key sectors in the state including farming, ranching, mining and recreation. Presently, the US Federal Department of Interior and its subsidiaries claim ‘managerial control’ and ownership over nearly 90% of the state of Nevada’s public lands. The bill was introduced two weeks ago, and according to sources in the state assembly, it has received more correspondence and public interest than any other bill in recent years. If Tuesday’s committee hearing is successful, the bill could go for a vote in as early as two weeks. If passed, the new law would prohibit the Federal Government from owning or regulating certain public lands and provide residents with clear ‘beneficial use’ rights on those public lands. One of the driving forces behind the bill is Nevada State Assemblywoman Michele Fiore, who highlighted this issue as an important one for the people of the state following last year’s federal descent on the Bundy Ranch located near Bunkerville, Nevada, when a small army of armed federal agents from Bureau of Land Management (BLM) locked-down public access around the ranch before seizing, and shooting cattle belonging to rancher Cliven Bundy. The BLM claimed they were enforcing an EPA court order which designated Bundy Ranch as an environmental mitigation area for the ‘protected’ Desert Tortoise.
It’s been a tumultuous day in Turkey. In the midst of a near-nationwide blackout that grounded planes and froze rail traffic and which officials say could be terror-linked, armed gunman have taken a prosecutor hostage in an Istanbul court house. The prosecutor, Mehmet Selim Kiraz, is in charge of the investigation into the death of a 14-year old boy who died after being hit in the head by a tear gas canister in 2013 amid widespread protests. Here’s more via BBC: A banned Marxist revolutionary group is suspected of being behind the incident. A statement posted online said the prosecutor would be killed if their demands were not met. Berkin Elvan, who was then 14, was struck in the head by a police tear gas canister in June 2013 as he went to buy bread during mass demonstrations that began in Istanbul and spread across Turkey.
This post was published at Zero Hedge on 03/31/2015.