Today’s compendium of events in the wordl of spooks and enforcers begins with signs of the times, via The Guardian:
From Quebec to Spain, anti-protest laws are threatening true democracy
The clash between neoliberal austerity and popular democracy has produced a crisis of ‘ungovernability’ for authorities
From Deutsche Welle, the latest in cosmetic repairs:
US lawmakers in Berlin for NSA talks
German officials have urged the US to restore trust between the countries following allegations of spying by intelligence services. Berlin and Washington are currently working on a new agreement regarding espionage.
And while they’re there, they can take heart from the latest breaking news: It wasn’t just the NSA tapping Merkel’s mobile, reports TheLocal.de:
UK, China and Russia ‘tapped Merkel’s phone’
It was not just the US – Britain, Russia, China and North Korea were also tapping Chancellor Angela Merkel’s mobile phone, German security services believe, according to magazine reports.
From the Wall Street Journal, a resignation refused for political reasons:
Shaken NSA Grapples With an Overhaul
Agency’s Director Offered to Resign Last Summer in Wake of Snowden Leaks
Shortly after former government contractor Edward Snowden revealed himself in June as the source of leaked National Security Agency documents, the agency’s director, Gen. Keith Alexander, offered to resign, according to a senior U.S. official.
[O]fficials also didn’t think his resignation would solve the security problem and were concerned that letting him leave would wrongly hand Mr. Snowden a win, the former defense official said.
Techdirt covers a dirty little secret [at least to some]:
How The FBI Actually Does Much Of The NSA’s Spying, But Is Keeping That Quiet
from the like-they-don’t-have-a-history-of-abuses? dept
And Reuters covers low fears in high places:
Spies worry over “doomsday” cache stashed by ex-NSA contractor Snowden
British and U.S. intelligence officials say they are worried about a “doomsday” cache of highly classified, heavily encrypted material they believe former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden has stored on a data cloud.
One source described the cache of still unpublished material as Snowden’s “insurance policy” against arrest or physical harm.
From McClatchy Washington Bureau, the latest hypocrisy for The Most Transparent Administration in History™:
Obama’s overhaul of spy programs so far cloaked in more secrecy
President Barack Obama has faced withering criticism around the globe for his secret spying programs. How has he responded? With more secrecy.
Obama has been gradually tweaking his vast government surveillance policies. But he is not disclosing those changes to the public. Has he stopped spying on friendly world leaders? He won’t say. Has he stopped eavesdropping on the United Nations, the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund? He won’t say.
Even the report by the group Obama created to review and recommend changes to his surveillance programs has been kept secret.
From Slate, metadata as supersnitch:
Taking the “Meh” out of Metadata
How the government can discover your health problems, political beliefs, and religious practices using just your metadata.
CNBC covers a flight considered:
Google mulled ditching US after NSA scandal
Google, the giant of the Internet, thought about moving its servers out of the U.S. after the NSA debacle, said Eric Schmidt, the company’s chairman, on Friday at the Paley International Council Summit in New York.
And The Guardian covers conflicting security claims:
Japan’s PM demands China revoke claim to air zone over disputed islands
China, Japan and US exchange increasingly testy accusations, as airlines say they will have to notify China of flight plans
More from the South China Morning Post:
Beijing’s air defence zone over East China Sea branded ‘dangerous act’ by Japan
Beijing’s declaration of an air defence zone in the East China Sea kick-started a diplomatic free-for-all yesterday.
Channel NewsAsia Singapore covers other Asia heat, ratcheting upwards:
US hints at more sanctions on North Korea after Iranian deal
Washington’s point man on North Korea on Monday hinted at more sanctions against Pyongyang over its atomic weapons programme in the wake of Iran’s nuclear deal with world powers.
The Jakarta Globe covers ongoing blowback:
Lawyer Says Australian Diplomats May Face Removal
The Indonesian government can remove Australian diplomats from the country should the letter sent by Prime Minister Tony Abbott in response to President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono’s request for clarity regarding the wiretapping issue fail to address the president’s concerns, an expert says.
Deutsche Welle brings the newest drone power:
Anger over US drones mounting, Pakistan builds own unmanned sky army
Pakistan has unveiled locally built drone aircraft capable of surveillance. The United States claims its drone strikes in the country are aimed at taking out high-profile al Qaeda and Taliban targets.
While the Washington Post covers drone power politicals in the black world:
CIA not ready to relinquish role in drone strikes
Six months after President Obama signaled his desire to shift responsibility for the missile attacks to the military, his plan for the lethal counterterrorism program remains a distant goal.
How to buy friends and influence people, via TheLocal.de:
German universities use Pentagon research cash
German universities are breaking ethics rules by taking millions of euros from the US military for research projects into munitions, environmentally-friendly explosives and drone software, critics claim.
At least 22 universities and research institutes have confirmed accepting more than €10 million in Pentagon research grants since 2000, the Süddeutsche Zeitung newspaper said on Monday.
From Spiegel, Old Father Hubbard’s German groupies get a reprieve:
Waning Numbers: Germany To Suspend Monitoring of Scientology
Germany’s domestic security agency has reportedly decided to suspend monitoring of the controversial Scientology organization in the country. The decision, part of wider reforms, has led to criticism by some states.
The agency is currently trying to focus its efforts towards counter-espionage in light of recent allegations that Germany’s allies, including the United States, have been spying on the country. This move comes after the considerable strengthening of BFV’s department dealing with right-wing extremists following the uncovering of the National Socialist Union neo-Nazi terror cell.
Back to Japan with the Mainichi and resistance to a key ingredient in the emerging national security state:
Top adviser to PM admits difficulty in external evaluation of special secrets
A top adviser to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has admitted to the difficulty in the government designating information as special secrets to be evaluated by an independent third party, if the government-sponsored special state secrets bill is passed into law.
Yosuke Isozaki, special adviser to the prime minister who is in charge of the state secrets bill currently under Diet debate, expressed the view during an interview with the Mainichi Shimbun on Nov. 19, underscoring fears that the scope of the government’s designation of information as special secrets could be indefinitely expanded.
From the South China Morning Post, China’s own march in the same direction:
Will new security panel be US or Soviet flavoured?
Plenum resolution was typically vague on the role and structure of new intelligence panel
From Reuters, an intensifying Asian security crisis in a very familiar venue:
New conditions appear to push U.S., Afghanistan farther from striking security deal
From the London Telegraph, another legacy of the Crusade for Freedom™:
Afghanistan ‘plans to reintroduce public stoning as punishment for adultery’
Human Rights Watch calls on international donors to withhold funds if government presses ahead with controversial new law to bring back stoning
From the Bangkok Post, a security crisis in Southeast Asia:
Protesters storm key ministries
PM imposes ISA in city, parts of nearby provinces
Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra has imposed the Internal Security Act (ISA) across the capital and in nearby areas after protesters stormed key ministries in a bid to topple the government
Quartz has an interesting sidebar:
Bangkok’s unlikely embrace of drone journalism shows the extent of the government’s problems
From Independent.ie, security problems on familiar terrain:
Warning of surge in dissident activity after bomb explodes under shopping centre
NORTHERN Ireland’s top police officer has warned of a surge in dissident republican activity after a bomb partially exploded under a shopping centre.
From the London Daily Mail, creepy but justifiable?:
New York State Troopers given tall, unmarked SUVs to peer down and catch drivers who text
New York has given state police 32 of the SUVs, part of one of the nation’s most aggressive attacks on texting while driving.
What’s next? Tanks? Well, consider this from Business Insider:
The Spoils Of War: Sheriffs, Police Nationwide Getting Armored Vehicles Left Over From Iraq
Coming soon to your local sheriff: 18-ton, armor-protected military fighting vehicles with gun turrets and bulletproof glass that were once the U.S. answer to roadside bombs during the Iraq war.
The South China Morning Post has the latest on an embarrassed news service:
Bloomberg hits China roadblock over reporting of sensitive issues
Concern growing that journalism is being compromised to allow financial network to maintain business ties and appease Beijing
From TheLocal.no Big Brother watched, acted:
Police in Norway arrest racist tweeter
Police in Norway have arrested a man for making racist comments on the micro-blogging service Twitter under the account name “@Negerjeger”, or “Nigger hunter”.
The man, who is in his 20s, was arrested on Friday in the northern city of Tromsö after being tracked down by the NCIS, the Norwegian police’s serious crimes unit.
He was then released on Saturday after being charged with violating Norway’s racism law. He faces up to three years in prison if found guilty.
Meanwhile, India continues to struggle with impact of of a scandal involving what NSA staffers jestingly call “Loveint.” From the Times of India:
Gujarat snooping: Modi govt sets up panel to probe scandal
Under fire for using the state machinery to illegally snoop on a woman, the Gujarat government formed a two-member commission of inquiry to investigate the charge on Monday. The snooping was allegedly supervised in 2009 by then junior home minister Amit Shah at the behest of his ‘saheb’.
Computerworld covers corporate tracking:
LoJack system will allow parents, auto makers and insurance companies to track vehicles
Insurance companies, auto makers will also have tracking capabilities
And we close with a very important question, raised by The Guardian:
JSoc: Obama’s secret assassins
The president has a clandestine network targeting a ‘kill list’ justified by secret laws. How is that different than a death squad?