Welcome to Sott.net
Fri, 07 Oct 2022
The World for People who Think

Puppet Masters
Map

Bad Guys

Islamists attack north Mali city after suicide bombings

Image
© AFP, Pascal Guyot
French soldiers patrol at the site where a suicide bomber blew himself up on February 10, 2013 in northern Gao
Islamist gunmen attacked the largest city in northern Mali on Sunday following two straight days of suicide bombings, intensifying their insurgency on territory reclaimed by French-led forces.

In the first large-scale urban guerrilla assault of the conflict, rebels from the Movement for Oneness and Jihad in West Africa (MUJAO) attacked Malian troops in the streets of central Gao, sending residents running for cover as Kalashnikov bullets and 14.5-millimetre rounds pierced the air.

Rocket-propelled grenade explosions and fire from heavy machine guns and light weapons resounded late into the afternoon before dying down in the evening, when a power cut plunged the city into darkness.

A French Tiger attack helicopter was circulating over the neighbourhood around the governor's offices and the central police station, the focal points of the attack.

French and Malian forces conducted joint patrols, warning residents that snipers could be hidden in the city.

"Many Islamists were killed," said Colonel Mamadou Sanake of the Malian army.

Che Guevara

Brennan, drones, and war: a former drone operator speaks out

For the last several years, the Obama administration has been nearly silent about the military drone program which targets militants overseas. This week, the legal justification for drones and their use against American citizens offshore was leaked to NBC news. John Brennan, one of the architects of the program, was questioned about drones at the confirmation hearing for his new position as head of the CIA on Thursday. Brent spoke to Brandon Bryant, a former drone operator with the US air force for more than five years, about the human aspect of drone warfare. We reached him in Billings, Montana.

Alarm Clock

Former Defense Secretary Robert Gates endorses 'drone courts'

Image
© AFP Photo
Former US defense secretary Robert Gates on Sunday endorsed the idea of having a special court review drone strikes as a check against a president's power to, in effect, execute Americans.

The issue came to the fore last week during a Senate hearing to confirm John Brennan, President Barack Obama's counter-terrorism chief, as director of the CIA.

Gates, a former CIA director who served as defense secretary under both Obama and former president George W. Bush, said the rules followed by the Obama administration "are quite stringent and are not being abused."

"But who is to say about a future president?" he said in an interview with CNN's State of the Union.

"I just think some check on the ability of a president to do this has merit as we look to the longer-term future," he said.

Eye 1

Electronic privacy groups slam Raytheon secret software that tracks social media and 'predicts' people's future behavior

tracking
© Unknown
A video obtained by the Guardian reveals how an "extreme-scale analytics" system created by Raytheon, the world's fifth largest defence contractor, can gather vast amounts of information about people from websites including Facebook, Twitter and Foursquare.

Raytheon says it has not sold the software - named Riot, or Rapid Information Overlay Technology - to any clients.

But the Massachusetts-based company has acknowledged the technology was shared with US government and industry as part of a joint research and development effort, in 2010, to help build a national security system capable of analysing "trillions of entities" from cyberspace.

The power of Riot to harness popular websites for surveillance offers a rare insight into controversial techniques that have attracted interest from intelligence and national security agencies, at the same time prompting civil liberties and online privacy concerns.

The sophisticated technology demonstrates how the same social networks that helped propel the Arab Spring revolutions can be transformed into a "Google for spies" and tapped as a means of monitoring and control.

Using Riot it is possible to gain an entire snapshot of a person's life - their friends, the places they visit charted on a map - in little more than a few clicks of a button.

Snakes in Suits

Rand Paul mocks Ashley Judd as 'an attractive woman' who doesn't deserve to run

Image
Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) is dismissing actress Ashley Judd as an "attractive woman" who does not deserve to be a Kentucky senator because she owns a home in Scotland.

During an interview with Paul on Sunday, CNN's Candy Crowley pointed out that a recent attack ad created by Karl Rove's Crossroad GPS suggested that Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) was threatened by the possibility that Judd could take his Senate seat.

"Is he at this point looking weak?" Crowley wondered.

"You know, when I heard Ashley Judd might run for office, I thought maybe it was [the Bristish] Parliament because she lives in Scotland half of the year," Paul smirked. "But no, I think really part of politics is making sure that people know about who you're running against."

Cell Phone

Software that tracks people on social media created by defence firm

Image
Exclusive: Raytheon's Riot program mines social network data like a 'Google for spies', drawing ire from civil rights groups

A multinational security firm has secretly developed software capable of tracking people's movements and predicting future behaviour by mining data from social networking websites.

A video obtained by the Guardian reveals how an "extreme-scale analytics" system created by Raytheon, the world's fifth largest defence contractor, can gather vast amounts of information about people from websites including Facebook, Twitter and Foursquare.

Raytheon says it has not sold the software - named Riot, or Rapid Information Overlay Technology - to any clients.

But the Massachusetts-based company has acknowledged the technology was shared with US government and industry as part of a joint research and development effort, in 2010, to help build a national security system capable of analysing "trillions of entities" from cyberspace.

Pistol

Learning from America's history of assassinations

Image
It is unfortunate that senior administration officials making life and death decisions today on when, where, and against whom drone strikes should be launched did not live through, as I did, the period of 1975-76 when Congressional investigations, including the famous Church committee, discovered plots by our government to assassinate foreign leaders. In the case of Fidel Castro those plots had an almost demented insistence and caused the CIA to partner with the Mafia to achieve its objectives, ordered by at least two administrations.

Profound Constitutional and moral issues were raised by these plots and their discoveries. For a new and very young senator, it was shocking to discover that a sewer of still unknown dimensions was flowing underneath the city on a hill. Such a discovery causes you to suspect almost everyone and everything (in my case not enough) and to believe that expediency will trump principle on almost every occasion.

The drone assassination policy is the product of the confluence of the notion of preemption, terrorism as war not crime, and a mistaken notion that "national security" can be defined so broadly that any action is justified. At least one prominent Air Force general desperately wanted to initiate large-scale nuclear attacks on the Soviet Union in the 1940s. Presumably, the preemption doctrine would have justified massive bombing raids on the Imperial palace and Japanese Ministry of War if we had known they were planning Pearl Harbor. These and more actions are possible if you totally put aside what the United States of America claims to stand for.

Star of David

Israel commits crimes without punishment

Image
Israel is a rogue state. It's a serial abuser. It commits crimes without punishment. It tolerates no criticism.

Last May, it suspended contact with the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR).

On April 30, Haaretz headlined "Israel joins UN list of states limiting human rights organizations."

Censure followed an earlier Ministerial Committee on Legislation approval to restrict foreign governments from funding NGOs. It should have been for crimes against humanity. Israel commits them daily.

It spurns fundamental rule of law principles. It rejects Fourth Geneva's de jure applicability. It's defied dozens of UN resolutions. It ignored the International Court of Justice's 2004 condemnation of its Separation Wall.

It refused cooperation with the Goldstone Commission on Cast Lead. In 2012, it denied UN investigators entry to collect testimonies on its lawless settlements.

War Whore

U.S. officials confess to targeting Iran's civilian population

Image

Tehran, Iran
Azadeh, a graduate law student from Tehran University, on the sidelines of Iran's Third Annual Hollywoodism (http://www.hollywoodism.org), reminded her interlocutors of the obvious damming admissions last week by two US politicians:

"It would be a defense lawyer's worst nightmare wouldn't it? I mean to have one's clients, in this case the Vice-President of the United States and the outgoing Secretary of state, confess so publicly to serial international crimes against a civilian population?"

The confessions and the crimes, she correctly enumerated to her audience, were those admitted to by US Vice-President Joe Biden and outgoing Secretary of State Hillary Clinton this past week.

Both of the US officials, in discussing US relations with the Islamic Republic, openly admitted that the US-led sanctions against Iran (and Syria) are politically motivated and constitute a "soft-war" against the nearly 80 million people of Iran (23 million people in Syria) in order to achieve regime change.

Mrs. Clinton was the first of the dynamic duo to be heard from. She acknowledged that the harsh US sanctions were intended to target and send the people of Iran a message. "So we hope that the Iranian people will make known their concerns... so my message to Iranians is do something about this."

USA

Ex-Gitmo prosecutor slams drone policy: 'Since 9/11 we've been the constrained and the cowardly'

Image
A former chief prosecutor for the Guantanamo Bay prison facility sounded off on both President Barack Obama's administration's use of drone strikes and the apparent acceptance of the practice by the American people.

"We used to be the land of the free and the home of the brave," Col. Morris Davis told Current TV host Cenk Uygur on Friday. "Since 9/11, we've been the constrained and the cowardly."

Uygur mentioned that an unidentified "recent poll" showed that the practice of using drones to target suspected "imminent threats" has actually been met with support.

"The American people say, 'Ehhh, well if the government calls them suspected terrorists, well then we agree that we should drone stroke them,'" Uygur said. "What's happening with the American people where we seem to be, you know, killing democracy to thunderous applause?"