We begin today’s tales from the work of the insecure with a not-so-surprising helping hand from the Japan Times:
Israel provides intelligence on Islamic State, Western diplomat reveals
Israel has provided satellite imagery and other intelligence in support of the U.S.-led aerial campaign against Islamic State in Iraq, a Western diplomat said on Monday.
Once “scrubbed” of evidence of its Israeli origin, the information has often been shared by Washington with Arab and Turkish allies, the diplomat said.
Israel’s Defence Ministry neither confirmed nor denied involvement in any international efforts against the militant group.
The London Telegraph has one possible result:
Predator drones being flown over Isil’s Syrian ‘capital’
- Attempt to target al-Baghdadi, the jihadist group’s leader, comes as Iraq’s MPs back first government, appointments by new prime minister
US drones are being flown over Isil’s Syrian “capital” for the first time as part of a drive by America to target Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the jihadist group’s elusive leader.
Residents of the northern Syrian city of Raqqa have captured photo and video footage of remotely-piloted planes, which Western weapons experts have identified as American Predators, the same drones used in Pakistan and Yemen to attack suspected terrorists.
The US has not publicly stated that it is flying drones over Syria, and the sightings over Raqqa are the first indication that it is doing so.
While Homeland Security News Wire questions another assault:
State Department’s social media campaign against ISIS questioned
The State Department is advancing its anti-terrorism efforts on social media by reaching out to vulnerable English-speakers who could be recruited to join the Islamic State (IS).
The campaign emphasizes IS’s brutality, and, mockingly, advises would-be recruits to learn “useful new skills” such as “blowing up mosques” and “crucifying and executing Muslims.”
Experts say that there is a psychological error in trying to scare people off with threats that something might be exciting and thrilling. “If you challenge a young adult, particularly a male, with the fact that something might be especially difficult or challenging, you’re just exciting them,” says an expert in the psychology of terrorists.
From the Guardian, another sort of insecurity:
Petition calls on Obama to respect rights of journalists to do their job
The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), the New York-based press freedom body, has launched a petition today calling on President Obama’s administration to respect journalists’ right to gather and report news.
The petition, “Right to report in the digital age”, makes three key demands of the US government:
It should prohibit the hacking and surveillance of journalists and media organisations; it must limit prosecutions that ensnare journalists and intimidate whistleblowers; and it must halt the harassment of journalists at the US border.
In its preamble to the petition, the CPJ argues that incidents of surveillance, intimidation and exploitation of the press “have raised unsettling questions about whether the US and other western democracies risk undermining journalists’ ability to report in the digital age.”
And from the New York Times, insecurity that flows from the barrel of a gun:
The Rise of the SWAT Team in American Policing
Posse comitatus is not a phrase that trips lightly off every tongue. It is typically translated from Latin as “force of the county.” Anyone who has ever watched an old Western movie will instantly recognize the first word as referring to men deputized by the sheriff to chase down some varmints who went thataway. (Rappers and their tag-alongs later gave “posse” a different context.) The full phrase is more obscure, but the concept that it embraces is enshrined in American law. The Posse Comitatus Act, passed in 1878 at the end of Reconstruction and amended but slightly over the decades, prohibits the nation’s armed forces from being used as a police force within the United States. Soldiers, the reasoning goes, exist to fight wars. Chasing local wrongdoers is a job for cops.
But many police departments today are so heavily armed with Pentagon-supplied hand-me-downs — tools of war like M-16 rifles, armored trucks, grenade launchers and more — that the principle underlying the Posse Comitatus Act can seem as if it, too, has gone thataway. Questions about whether police forces are overly militarized have been around for years. They are now being asked with new urgency because of the recent turmoil in Ferguson, Mo., where unarmed demonstrators protesting the fatal police shooting of a teenager faced off for a while against mightily armed officers in battle dress and gas masks. What the world saw were lawmen looking more like combat troops in the Mideast than peacekeepers in the Midwest.
And the accompanying online video from the New York Times:
SWAT: Mission Creep | Retro Report | The New York Times
SWAT teams were created in the 1960s to combat hostage-takings, sniper shootings, and violent unrest. But today they’re often used in more controversial police work.
From the Guardian, insecurity commodified in Oakland:
Urban Shield: after Ferguson, police and suppliers consider fate of military-grade tactical gear
Giant black armoured vehicles, assault rifles, gas masks and drones: the modern face of policing in America is on display at a four-day police trade show in Oakland, held mere weeks after a fatal police shooting in Ferguson, Missouri
“Warriors”, says the sign emblazoned in huge letters across the top of the Marriott conference center in downtown Oakland. It refers to the Golden State Warriors, the hometown basketball team who have their practice facilities here, but it might equally apply to the unusual gathering inside the hotel.
Sprawled across the ground floor of the Marriott, a trade show was under way that represents the modern face of policing in America. Hundreds of burly men (they are largely men), heads shaved and dressed in battlefield uniforms in black, green or camouflage are milling around in groups of 10 or 20. There to greet them are scores of weapons manufacturers and military-grade technology companies eager to win their business.
On three sides of the hall, giant black tactical armoured vehicles are stationed, wheels chest-height, sides armour-plated to resist an AK-47 round or blast of a roadside bomb, roofs decked out with spotlights, surveillance cameras and swivel turrets able to house machine guns. One of the vehicles, the aptly named Sentinel – 21ft long, 17,500lbs in weight, and costing $250,000 and up – was developed by a Florida-based company called International Armored Group that began supplying the US army in Iraq and Afghanistan. “With all that experience in blast resistance, we decided to branch off into tactical vehicles tailored to police departments at home,” said the company’s Sally Stefova.
The Guardian again, with the same in Spain:
Spain prepares for an autumn of discontent by buying €1bn of riot gear
- Amid concerns about heavy handed policing, protesters will face a newly equipped force and truck-mounted water cannon
The Spanish government is readying itself for an autumn of discontent, spending nearly €1bn on riot gear for police units as disparate protest groups prepare a string of demonstrations.
Since June, the interior ministry has tendered four contracts to purchase riot equipment ranging from shields to stab vests. The ministry also finalised its purchase of a new truck-mounted water cannon, an anti-riot measure used during Spain’s dictatorship and the transition to democracy but little seen in recent years. Despite attempts by opposition Socialist politician Antonio Trevín to paint the purchase as “a return to times that we would rather forget”, the ministry said in its tender that the water cannon was necessary, “given the current social dynamic”.
The government’s spending spree comes as groups across Spain are predicting a season of protests. “We’re calling it the autumn of confronting power and institutions,” said the activist group Coordinadora 25-S which has its roots in the indignados movement.
From TheLocal.de, overly Aryanized?:
Police ‘must do more’ to reflect diversity
People from immigrant backgrounds are massively under-represented in Germany’s police forces and security agencies, which are not making enough effort to track the problem, a study published on Monday found.
Migration information service Mediendienst Integration asked all 16 state police agencies, the Federal Criminal Police (BKA), the Federal Police and the Office for the Protection of the Constitution about their workers’ origins.
Most states do not collect figures on the backgrounds of their entire police forces, and neither do the federal agencies.
In the states which do record such figures, numbers were low.
Ditto, from EnetEnglish.gr:
Greek island police chief snapped giving Nazi salute
- In 1999, same officer fired shots at funeral of junta leader Papadopoulos
- Hydra island police chief is photographed giving a Nazi salute in a transport museum in Germany, where such behaviour is punishable with imprisonment of up to three years or a fine
A photograph has emerged showing the police chief of a Greek island giving a fascist salute in front of a Nazi-era train in a German museum.
In the image, published in Ethnos on Sunday, Lieutenant Yiorgos Kagkalos, chief of police on the island of Hydra, can be seen with an outstretched right arm. Behind him, on a red locomotive, is a large Reichsadler, a stylised eagle combined with the Nazi swastika used as a national emblem in Nazi Germany.
According to Ethos, the photograph was taken on 13 March 2011 when Kagkalos visited the Nuremburg Transport Museum. The train appears to resemble a Elektrolokomotive E 19 12, a model of which is kept at the museum.
And the key part of said image:
From the Guardian, stirring the insecurity pot:
DHS chief: ‘unacceptable security risks’ if Congress withholds border funds
- Obama administration’s Homeland Security chief renews request for $1.2bn as flow of unaccompanied migrants slows
The Obama administration renewed its plea Monday for Congress to provide additional money to deal with the unaccompanied migrant children at the border. The request seemed likely to fall on deaf ears as neither party showed an appetite to revive the issue.
Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson said in a statement that without the $1.2bn in additional funding for 2015, he will be forced to take money from other accounts, such as $405m moved earlier this summer from the disaster relief fund.
“This reprogramming is not sustainable, and leaves the nation vulnerable to unacceptable homeland security risks,” Johnson said.
From the Los Angeles Times, insecurity in the ranks:
Scathing report on Alaska National Guard forces out commander
The Alaska National Guard’s commander was forced to resign after a six-month federal investigation found that some members of the Guard had been ostracized and abused after reporting sex assaults and that Guard members lacked trust and confidence in their leaders.
Alaska Gov. Sean Parnell asked the National Guard Bureau Office of Complex Investigations to conduct the review. After receiving the report, he requested the resignation of Maj. Gen. Thomas H. Katkus, who also served as commissioner of the state Department of Military and Veterans Affairs.
The scathing 229-page report, released late Thursday, found that complaints by some sexual assault victims before 2012 were not properly documented, that the victims were not referred to victim advocates, that their confidentiality was breached and that “in some cases, the victims were ostracized by their leaders, peers and units.”
Reuters covers a body count:
Fueling drug gangs’ impunity, unidentified corpses pile up in Mexico
Authorities’ failure to catch the killers in the vast majority of cases or even identify many of the dead is largely down to poor police work and a haphazard patchwork of forensic services across Mexico.
It also helps fuel impunity and further violence. More than 100,000 people have been killed since former President Felipe Calderon ordered a military offensive against drug gangs in late 2006, a move that led to waves of extreme violence.
Despite repeated requests by Reuters, the attorney general’s office did not say how many victims are yet to be identified.
But partial figures from the National Human Rights Commission offer a glimpse: Between 2006 and 2011, more than half of the 40,000 people reported killed in armed confrontations were never identified.
On to the spooky front, first with the predictable, from National Journal:
NSA Reform Will Likely Have to Wait Until After the Election
Legislation to reform the government’s surveillance programs looks destined for a lame-duck session of Congress—and might not get touched at all until next year.
A bill that would curtail the government’s broad surveillance authority is unlikely to earn a vote in Congress before the November midterms, and it might not even get a vote during the postelection lame-duck session.
The inaction amounts to another stinging setback for reform advocates, who have been agitating for legislation that would rein in the National Security Agency ever since Edward Snowden’s leaks surfaced last summer. It also deflates a sudden surge in pressure on Congress to pass the USA Freedom Act, which scored a stunning endorsement from Director of National Intelligence James Clapper last week.
The hard-fought bill has a wide array of backing from tech companies, privacy and civil-liberties groups, the White House, and even the intelligence community. But multiple sources both on and off Capitol Hill say the measure is not a top legislative priority on a jam-packed Senate calendar filled with other agenda items, including unresolved fights over a continuing resolution and the Import-Export Bank.
RT gets protective:
Switzerland ‘unlikely to extradite Snowden’, if he appears for NSA testimony
Switzerland will most likely guarantee safety to National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden, if he comes to testify against the NSA’s spying activities, Swiss media said.
In the document, titled “What rules are to be followed if Edward Snowden is brought to Switzerland and then the United States makes an extradition request,” Switzerland’s Attorney General stated that Snowden could be guaranteed safety if he arrives in the country to testify, Sonntags Zeitung reported.
In the document, the authority said that Switzerland does not extradite a US citizen, if the individual’s “actions constitute a political offense, or if the request has been politically motivated,” Swiss ATS news agency reported.
A different response in a different country from TheLocal.no:
‘If Snowden wins Nobel Prize, arrest him!’: MP
Should Edward Snowden get a Nobel Peace Award this year, the US dissident faces arrest if he comes to Norway to collect his prize, said Norwegian politician Michael Tetzschner on Monday.
MP Michael Tetzschner of the Conservative Party believes that if the American whistle-blower Edward Snowden receives the Nobel Peace Prize in December this year, then Norwegian police could and should arrest him if he comes to Norway.
Snowden has been nominated for the Peace Prize amid growing support for him to receive the award this year.
A counterprovocation from Canadian Press:
Canadian warship HMCS Toronto buzzed by Russian fighter jets during NATO military exercise in Black Sea
A Canadian frigate taking part in a NATO exercise in the Black Sea was buzzed by Russian military jets off the southern coast of Ukraine on Sunday.
Defence Minister Rob Nicholson calls the incident unnecessarily provocative and says it risks escalating tensions in the region even further at a time when a fragile ceasefire is just taking hold.
The minister says the planes circled HMCS Toronto in a manner that did not pose a threat.
From intelNews, he shoulda been a Bush:
Egypt ex-president charged with spying for Qatar, faces death penalty
Egypt’s ousted president Mohammed Morsi has been officially charged with spying for the government of Qatar, in what Egypt’s state prosecutor calls the biggest espionage case in the country’s history.
In the summer of 2012, Morsi, representing the Muslim Brotherhood, became the first democratically elected national leader in Egyptian history, after winning the presidential election with nearly 52 percent of the vote. But he was ousted in a military coup a year later, following widespread protests against him and the Muslim Brotherhood, and has been held in prison ever since.
Now Egypt’s state prosecutor has charged Morsi and eight others, including two former presidential aides, with spying on behalf of the government of Qatar. Egypt’s government accuses Morsi of selling classified documents “with direct bearing on Egypt’s national security” to the intelligence services of Qatar in exchange for $1 million. The documents allegedly included sensitive information on Egyptian military strategy, as well as tactical “positioning and the nature of its armaments”.
After the jump, the latest the Asia and the Game of Zones, including Chinese military budgets reimagined, Japanese sartorial stupidity in China, a Sino/Formosan realignment sought, another alleged Chinese line-crossing and a Japanese response, Heil fellows well met in Tokyo, and more opposition to a U.S. base in Okinawa. . . Continue reading