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What Was Not Said About Iraq

October was Iraq’s deadliest month since April, 2008. In those five and a half years, not only has there been no improvement in Iraq’s security situation, but things have gotten much worse. More than 1,000 people were killed in Iraq last month, the vast majority of them civilians. Another 1,600 were wounded, as car bombs, shootings, and other attacks continue to maim and murder.
 
As post-“liberation” Iraq spirals steadily downward, Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki was in Washington last week to plead for more assistance from the United States to help restore order to a society demolished by the 2003 US invasion.
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Ben Franklin Was Right About the NSA

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In 1975, I was invited to join the US Senate’s Church Committee that was formed after the Watergate scandals. Its goal was to investigate massive illegalities committed by the CIA, National Security Agency and FBI.

As a then staunch Republican, and having worked on President Nixon’s reelection campaign developing Mideast policy, I declined.

With the wisdom of hindsight, I should have joined the investigation.

Senator Frank Church warned: “ If this government ever became a tyrant, if a dictator ever took charge in this country, the technological capacity that the intelligence community has given the government could enable it to impose total tyranny, and there would be no way to fight back because the most careful effort to combine together in resistance to the government, no matter how privately it was done, is within the reach of the government to know. “
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Overreach: MN Judge Puts Crimp in MDA’s 10-Year Pursuit of Raw Dairy Farmer Hartmann

Cow

Minnesota’s relentless decade-long pursuit of dairy farmer Michael Hartmann finally ran off the road, when a state judge ruled earlier this month that the state conducted an illegal search of the farmer’s truck.

In a strongly worded 30-page opinion, Minnesota Judge Erica MacDonald ruled that a state trooper, with help from the Minnesota Department of Agriculture, illegally searched Hartmann’s truck and seized raw milk and cheese after a stop in December 2012. The trooper was allowed to stop the truck when he couldn’t see the rear license plate, the judge said, but once he found that the plate was just dirty, and that there was a front license plate, he was obligated to send Hartmann on his way, since there was no violation of motor vehicle or traffic laws. Instead, the trooper called the MDA, which told him to search the truck and confiscate product.
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Obama, NSA Spying and the Dangers of Secretive, Authoritarian Government

Recent reports indicating that President Obama was aware of and personally approved an NSA program that involved spying on the personal communications of various international leaders, including German Chancellor Angela Merkel, have once again highlighted the deception and intransigence of the Obama administration in dealing with the revelations that the National Security Agency has been acting outside the bounds of the law, sucking up electronic communications the world over.

While this may come as a shock to most Americans, I’ve been writing about the NSA’s illegal surveillance tactics since the 1980s, which features prominently in my new book A Government of Wolves: The Emerging American Police State. However, this latest development in the spying saga—that the NSA has been aiming its surveillance activities at the citizens of allied countries, including France and Germany—has thrown a kink into the Obama administration’s attempts at maintaining a cozy relationship with its foreign allies.
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Israel and the NSA: Partners in Crime

Usa Israel

It wasn’t the US government breaking into the private communications of former French President Nicolas Sarkozy, according to top secret documents unearthed by Edward Snowden and published in Le Monde – it was the Israelis.

A four-page internal précis regarding a visit to Washington by two top French intelligence officials denies the NSA or any US intelligence agency was behind the May 2012 attempted break-in – which sought to implant a monitoring device inside the Elysee Palace’s communications system – but instead fingers the Israelis, albeit indirectly:

The visit by Barnard Barbier, head of the DGSE’s technical division, and Patrick Pailloux, a top official with France’s National Information Systems Security, was intended to elicit an explanation for the break-in, which the French media blamed on the Americans. The NSA’s inquiries to the British, Canadians, Australians, New Zealanders, and other US allies all turned up negative. However, one such close ally wasn’t asked.
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Rep. Rogers To The French: You’re Welcome

Mike Rogers

Europeans are upset after learning that, in addition to capturing the email and phone records of Americans, the NSA has been doing the same to them in a global assault on privacy. This includes leaders of allied nations. The United States is now viewed as an international rogue nation with no respect for the law or privacy or even loyalty. Now into this explosive environment has jumped Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Mich.), chairman of the House Intelligence Committee. Rogers responded directly to the French and said that this is all a “good thing” and the French really “applauding and popping champagne corks” for keeping them all under surveillance and destroying any notion of privacy.

Rogers truly personifies the new mentality of the surveillance state created under President Obama. While George Bush sought to expand sought surveillance, it was Obama who succeeded in getting Democrats and other politicians to embrace the new security state and a transparent society model. What is most striking is how members, particularly those supposed to be exercising oversight of these agencies, have become virtual spokespersons for the security state.
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A Welcome US/Saudi ‘Reset’

Last week it was reported that Saudi Arabia decided to make a “major shift” away from its 80 years of close cooperation with the United States. The Saudi leadership is angry that the Obama administration did not attack Syria last month, and that it has not delivered heavy weapons to the Syrian rebels fighting to overthrow the Assad government. Saudi Arabia is heavily invested in the overthrow of the Assad government in Syria, sending money and weapons to the rebels.

However, it was the recent diplomatic opening between the United States and Iran that most infuriated the Saudis. Saudi Arabia is strongly opposed to the Iranian government and has vigorously lobbied the US Congress to maintain sanctions and other pressure on Iran. Like Israel, the Saudis are fearful of any US diplomacy with Iran.
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Al-Qaeda’s Corridor Through Syria

Syria Rebels

On Tuesday night, suicide bombers and gunmen attacked Iraqi checkpoints along Highway 11, which runs from Baghdad to Syria via Ramadi. They bombed the checkpoint at Rutba as well as points just west of Ramadi. Thirty-seven people were killed in these attacks, a majority of them security officers. Highway 11 is Iraq’s southern route into Syria. The other road from Baghdad to Syria is Highway 12, which runs from Ramadi northwards to the towns of Anan and Rawah, along the Euphrates River and into the Syrian city of Raqqa. Last week, gunmen of the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Shams (ISIS) attacked the towns of Anan and Rawah, destroying a bridge and trying to destroy the electricity transmission towers. The Iraqi army was able to deter the ISIS attack on Rawah, and so held off ISIS’s attempt to take the towns that would give it effective control of Highway 12. Iraq’s Deputy Prime Minister Saleh al-Mutlaq said that last week’s attack was a “hopeless attempt by al Qaeda [ISIS] to establish a foothold in Iraq.” It seems likely that ISIS decided to try and take Highway 11 after its attack on Highway 12 was repulsed.
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Stasi Meets Steve Jobs


“Gentlemen do not read other gentlemen’s mail” sniffed US Secretary of State Henry Stimson in 1929 when told that American cryptographers had broken Japan’s naval and diplomatic codes.

Stimson, who later headed the War Department, ordered code-breaking shut down.

Alas, there are not any old-school gentlemen left in Washington these days. Revelations of US electronic spying by whistleblower Edward Snowden have ignited a furor across Latin America and now Europe.
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