Puppet MastersS

Eye 1

Obama sez.: U.S. not monitoring German chancellor Angela Merkel's phone

© Reuters/Yves HermanGermany's Chancellor Angela Merkel uses her mobile phone before a meeting at a European Union summit in Brussels December 9, 2011.
White House spokesman Jay Carney said the United States "is not monitoring and will not monitor the communications" of German Chancellor Angela Merkel after the German government received information that the leader's cell phone might have been targeted.

Merkel complained to President Barack Obama on Wednesday after learning that U.S. intelligence may have targeted her mobile phone, saying that would be "a serious breach of trust" if confirmed. The two leaders spoke by phone, Carney said.

"The president assured the chancellor that the United States is not monitoring and will not monitor the communications of the chancellor," said Carney. "The United States greatly values our close cooperation with Germany on a broad range of shared security challenges."

However, Carney did not specifically say that that U.S. had never monitored or obtained Merkel's communications.

Eye 1

Forget Merkel, the NSA has been tapping the phones of at least 35 world leaders

The National Security Agency monitored the phone conversations of 35 world leaders after being given the numbers by an official in another US government department, according to a classified document provided by whistleblower Edward Snowden.

The confidential memo reveals that the NSA encourages senior officials in its "customer" departments, such the White House, State and the Pentagon, to share their "Rolodexes" so the agency can add the phone numbers of leading foreign politicians to their surveillance systems.

The document notes that one unnamed US official handed over 200 numbers, including those of the 35 world leaders, none of whom is named. These were immediately "tasked" for monitoring by the NSA.

The revelation is set to add to mounting diplomatic tensions between the US and its allies, after the German chancellor Angela Merkel on Wednesday accused the US of tapping her mobile phone.

After Merkel's allegations became public, White House press secretary Jay Carney issued a statement that said the US "is not monitoring and will not monitor" the German chancellor's communications. But that failed to quell the row, as officials in Berlin quickly pointed out that the US did not deny monitoring the phone in the past.

Comment: Like we said in our radio show when 'NSA-gate' broke, drown them in data! Let them EAT DATA!

PRISM for your Mind: NSA, WikiLeaks and Israel

Eye 2

Psychopath and War Criminal Tony Blair attributes political 'achievements' to his 'skills of empathy'

Tony Blair attributes his success as a conflict mediator to his ability to absorb the "sense of pain" felt by participants and his skill in transmitting raw emotions from one side to the other.

The former prime minister says mediators can only bring opponents together if they can understand their suffering on an "empathetic level".

Blair was appointed in 2007 as envoy for the Middle East Quartet of the US, EU, UN and Russia - which aims to mediate a peace process in the Israel-Palestine conflict - after his success in brokering a political settlement in Northern Ireland.

In a new foreword to the latest volume of diaries by Alastair Campbell, which focus entirely on the Northern Ireland peace process, Blair writes that the main participants in the negotiations became his friends because "I had inside me something of the passions they felt inside them".

Campbell, whose diaries are published this weekend, likens Blair to a marriage guidance counsellor. In an interview for Saturday's Guardian, the former Downing Street communications director says: "Tony's genius was to be like a Relate counsellor. It was like he was absorbing all this angst and anger and bitterness and hatred and the rest of it. He was somehow able to make both sides feel that he kind of got it - he really did understand it."

Comment: Note how the focus is on Northern Ireland, with the legacy of his role in murdering 1.5 million Iraqis left out of this 'psychological profile'.

But even if we look at his 'achievements' in Northern Ireland in isolation, the so-called 'peace process' has done nothing to change the fact that Northern Ireland remains occupied territory. Sectarianism in Northern Ireland is still being reinforced by the military-security apparatus that has long since infiltrated and controlled both 'sides' in the conflict.

Together with Campbell, the extent of Blair's 'empathy' was to convince people and other governments that carpet bombing Serbia, Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere would make the world a better place.

Far from being a 'skilled mediator', Tony Blair is a dangerous war criminal.

See also: Arundhati Roy: Tony Blair is a psychopath


Dangerous Freedom vs. Peaceful Slavery

Over the weekend a close friend sent me the following image, which was found spray-painted somewhere in Brooklyn:

Dangerous Freedom vs. Peaceful Slavery
© LibertyBlitzkrieg
The words above reflect a state of mind and disposition that has been expressed by philosophers and revolutionaries for thousands of years. It is not a novel or new concept, but it is a concept that seems to have been forgotten across much of these United States. The population has largely been domesticated and this is the primary reason why there has been such little pushback to the global oligarchs looting the landscape.

A pathetically large percentage of the population would rather not think, they'd prefer to be told what to believe. They would rather not have any risk in their lives, they'd prefer to have shiny gadgets handed to them. They would rather not explore the wonderful expansive world around them, they'd rather sit on the couch and watch television.

Planet earth is a truly incredible place. Majestic mountains, glistening and seemingly endless blue seas, powerful dense forests. Its beauty is too profound for me to accurately put into words. At the same time, there are terrible tsunamis, horrific hurricanes, devastating floods and countless other natural disasters that pose a constant deadly threat.

Top Secret

Top CIA lawyer sides with damning Senate torture report

Stephen W. Preston
Stephen W. Preston
Last night, along with the bill reopening the government, the Senate confirmed Stephen W. Preston, the top lawyer at the C.I.A., to move to the Pentagon to serve in the same role there. The vote slipped by unnoticed by most, but on close inspection, it revealed previously unreleased documents that lift the lid on an unusual standoff between Congress and the Obama Administration's C.I.A. At its core is a bitter disagreement over an apparently devastating, and still secret, report by the Senate Intelligence Committee documenting in detail how the C.I.A.'s brutalization of terror suspects during the Bush years was unnecessary, ineffective, and deceptively sold to Congress, the White House, the Justice Department, and the public. The report threatens to definitively refute former C.I.A. personnel who have defended the program's integrity. But so far, to the consternation of several members of the Intelligence Committee, the Obama Administration, like Bush's before it, is keeping the damning details from public view.

Preston's confirmation became a proxy skirmish in the fight. Obama reportedly hoped to get Preston confirmed before the congressional recess this past summer. Instead, Senator Mark Udall, a Democrat from Colorado, who is a member of both the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence and the Armed Services Committee, put a "hold" on Preston's confirmation until he answered a set of additional, and previously undisclosed, questions. A copy of these seven questions, and Preston's answers, obtained by The New Yorker (see here), sheds new light on the conflict.

The questions and answers make clear that Udall, who has pushed vigorously for the report's release, voted to confirm Preston only after he believed that the general counsel distanced himself from his own intelligence agency's defiant and defensive stance on the six-thousand-three-hundred page report, which cost forty million dollars to produce. Democrats on the Senate Intelligence Committee, including Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein, are pushing to declassify and publicly release it. But John Brennan, the agency's director, a career C.I.A. officer, and an Obama confidant, is apparently resisting disclosure, and challenging many of the report's conclusions.


Drones, high-value targets - and the innocent

Game of drones
© unknown
American troops are gone from Iraq and will exit Afghanistan next year, but the United States' "War on Terror" isn't over: It has moved from boots on the ground to drones in the sky.

Deployed correctly, drones can be an effective tool in counterinsurgency warfare. Their exceptional surveillance capabilities are supposed to improve accuracy and limit civilian casualties in combat. That's the theory. The practice has been less antiseptic.

This week, reports by Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International document in piercing detail how drones, President Obama's weapon of choice on "high-value" targets in Yemen and Pakistan, can sometimes be the United States' worst enemy.

Researchers found that strikes in remote villages often missed their mark, with disastrous results. In Pakistan, a 68-year-old woman tending crops was blown to bits in front of her grandchildren. In Yemen, five men were killed near a mosque; only three proved to be members of al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. The other two were bystanders. One was a cleric who often preached against jihad.

Comment: America's deadly double tap drone attacks are 'killing 49 people for every known terrorist in Pakistan'
Pakistan claim 400 civilians killed by drone strikes: US refuses to release death toll figures claiming 'they're classified'
UN report says drone strikes killed more civilians than publicly acknowledged


Bank of America's subprime lender Countrywide found guilty of mortgage fraud

House Mortage
© iStockphoto

A federal jury Wednesday concluded that Bank of America defrauded mortgage finance firms Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac with a lending program that fast-tracked mortgages ahead of the housing bust.

The jury's ruling sets Bank of America on course for a federal civil penalty to be determined by US District Judge Jed Rakoff.

The lending program was created by Countrywide, once a giant in subprime mortgages, prior to its 2008 acquisition by Bank of America.

The Justice Department alleged that Countrywide created the so-called "Hustle" program in 2007 as government-backed Freddie and Fannie were tightening their underwriting guidelines and loan purchase requirements in response to rising loan defaults.

Countrywide allegedly eliminated key checkpoints on loan quality and compensated employees solely based on loan volumes, leading to "rampant instances of fraud" while Countrywide informed the loan-finance firms that it tightened requirements, the Justice Department said in court papers.

US Attorney Preet Bharara praised Wednesday's verdict.


Obama purging military commanders

US Flag
© Wikimedia Commons
Nine senior commanding generals have been fired by the Obama administration this year, leading to speculation by active and retired members of the military that a purge of its commanders is underway.

Retired generals and current senior commanders that have spoken with The Blaze say the administration is not only purging the military of commanders they don't agree with, but is striking fear in the hearts of those still serving.

The timing comes as the five branches of the U.S. armed forces are reducing staff due to budget cuts, and as U.S. troops are expected to withdraw from Afghanistan next year.

"I think they're using the opportunity of the shrinkage of the military to get rid of people that don't agree with them or not tow the party line. Remember, as (former White House chief of staff) Rahm Emanuel said, never waste a crisis," a senior retired general told The Blaze on the condition of anonymity because he still provide services to the government and fears possible retribution.

"Even as a retired general, it's still possible for the administration to make life miserable for us. If we're working with the government or have contracts, they can just rip that out from under us," he said.

Retired U.S. Army Maj. Gen. Paul Vallely, an outspoken critic of the Obama administration, said the White House fails to take action or investigate its own, but finds it easy to fire military commanders "who have given their lives for their country."

Eye 1

TSA accessing government and private databases to pre-screen everyone

© AFP Photo/Karen Bleier
Jetsetters, take note: According to a front page article in Tuesday's edition of the New York Times, the United States Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is learning much more about airline passengers than just their meal preference.

It shouldn't come as a surprise to many, but Times reporter Susan Stellin revealed this week that the TSA has access to a trove of huge databases - both federally and privately run - which it uses to keep track of information about almost anyone traveling through American airspace.

Tax identification numbers, old travel plans, property records and even physical characteristics are contained in these databases, Stellin wrote, which is then shared among government agencies and often combined with other information on record elsewhere, including intelligence maintained by the likes of debt collectors and other private agencies whose profits depend on digging up personal information.

This mass data-mining is being used by Department of Homeland Security agencies like the TSA as a tool to monitor suspected terrorists and other criminals, and could assist in an agency-wide goal of trimming time off of the notoriously lengthy security pat-downs currently in place at airports across the country. But while representatives from the TSA touted these efforts to the Times as necessary implements in ensuring utmost safety, privacy advocates are asking for change.

According to Stellin, the TSA is now not just conducting routine background and criminal checks on airline ticket holders, but also relying on these massive databases to identify any potential red flags. With computers - not humans - calling the shots, though, it could change the face of travel to one where everyone and everything is suspect, until the system ensures them otherwise.

"I think the best way to look at it is as a pre-crime assessment every time you fly," Identity Project consultant Edward Hasbrouck told the Times. "The default will be the highest, most intrusive level of search, and anything less will be conditioned on providing some additional information in some fashion."

Arrow Down

Meet SIBIOS: Argentina's massive, Orwellian biometric database

Two years ago, the UK dismantled their national ID scheme and shredded their National Identity Registry in response to great public outcry over the privacy-invasive program. Unfortunately privacy protections have been less rosy elsewhere. In Argentina, the national ID fight was lost some time ago. A law enacted during the military dictatorship forced all individuals to obtain a government-mandated ID.

Now, they are in the process of enhancing its mandatory National Registry of Persons (RENAPER) with biometric data such as fingerprints and digitized faces. The government plans to repurpose this database in order to facilitate "easyaccess" to law enforcement by merging this data into a new, security-focused integrated system. This raises the specter of mass surveillance, as Argentinean law enforcement will have access to mass repositories of citizen information and be able to leverage existing facial recognition and fingerprint matching technologies in order to identify any citizen anywhere.
- From the EFF's must read article: Biometrics in Argentina: Mass Surveillance as a State Policy

The above passage was written in early 2012, but I had never taken the time to look into Argentina's burgeoning and extremely creepy biometric database until now. It takes on increased importance to Americans now that Apple has rolled out its iPhone 5NsA.