Category Archives: Intolerance

InSecurityWatch: Cuba, cops, Sony, war, woes


We open with the long-overdue, via the New York Times:

Obama Announces U.S. and Cuba Will Resume Relations

The United States will restore full diplomatic relations with Cuba and open an embassy in Havana for the first time in more than a half-century after the release of an American contractor held in prison for five years, President Obama announced on Wednesday.

In a deal negotiated during 18 months of secret talks hosted largely by Canada and encouraged by Pope Francis, who hosted a final meeting at the Vatican, Mr. Obama and President Raúl Castro of Cuba agreed in a telephone call to put aside decades of hostility to find a new relationship between the United States and the island nation just 90 miles off the American coast.

“We will end an outdated approach that for decades has failed to advance our interests and instead we will begin to normalize relations between our two countries,” Mr. Obama said in a nationally televised statement from the White House. The deal will “begin a new chapter among the nations of the Americas” and move beyond a “rigid policy that is rooted in events that took place before most of us were born.”

Hosting a sit-down with the Associated Press:

Canada hosted secret meetings between Cuba and US

Canada hosted about seven meetings between the U.S. and Cuba that helped lead to President Barack Obama’s announcement Wednesday that the two countries will establish full diplomatic relations, a senior Canadian government official said.

The meetings were held in Ottawa and Toronto from 2013 to 2014, according to the official. The official spoke on condition of anonymity, lacking authority to discuss the meetings publicly.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper said Canada did not play a role in the discussions themselves.

“I don’t want to exaggerate Canada’s role. We facilitated places where the two countries could have a dialogue and explore ways on normalizing relations,” Harper told the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. “We were not trying in any way to direct or mediate the talks. We just wanted to make sure they had the opportunity to have the kind of dialogue they needed to have.”

Anticipating another missile crisis, presumably non-Cuban this time, via the Christian Science Monitor:

Pentagon’s floating missile defense future: a pair of billion-dollar blimps

  • The Pentagon previewed two helium-filled surveillance airships Wednesday. The giant dirigibles are expected to be deployed over the East Coast in February as the United States’ new missile defense system.

Two US military blimps flying 10,000 feet above the East Coast will act as a new missile defense system for the United States.

The giant airships, known as the Joint Land Attack Cruise Missile Defense Elevated Netted Sensor System, or JLENS within the Pentagon, will be able to scan the oceans and coastline in a 340-mile radius, or from Norfolk, Va., to Boston.

It is designed to defend against cruise missile attacks, or the sort of rogue aircraft incursions that happened during the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

The US military previewed the giant balloons, which cost a reported $2.8 billion, in the skies near Baltimore for the media on Wednesday. They are expected to be fully operational by February and will be integrated into the defense systems of US Northern Command, which can respond with patriot missiles in the event of an attack on the US homeland.

On to U.S. domestic issue of the day, via the Smoking Gun:

“Witness 40″: Exposing A Fraud In Ferguson

  • TSG unmasks witness who spun fabricated tale

The grand jury witness who testified that she saw Michael Brown pummel a cop before charging at him “like a football player, head down,” is a troubled, bipolar Missouri woman with a criminal past who has a history of making racist remarks and once insinuated herself into another high-profile St. Louis criminal case with claims that police eventually dismissed as a “complete fabrication,” The Smoking Gun has learned.

In interviews with police, FBI agents, and federal and state prosecutors–as well as during two separate appearances before the grand jury that ultimately declined to indict Officer Darren Wilson–the purported eyewitness delivered a preposterous and perjurious account of the fatal encounter in Ferguson.

Referred to only as “Witness 40″ in grand jury material, the woman concocted a story that is now baked into the narrative of the Ferguson grand jury, a panel before which she had no business appearing.

That cop thing, much closer to Casa esnl, via the Oakland Tribune:

Berkeley: Police Department denounced at raucous City Council meeting

A smaller-than-expected crowd showed up at a rescheduled, venue-changed City Council meeting on a rainy Tuesday night, but what the gathering may have lacked in size, it more than made up in passion.

More than 50 speakers denounced, in often scathing terms, the conduct of Berkeley police and other cities’ forces that assisted them during recent, mostly peaceful protests against decisions by grand juries in Missouri and New York not to indict white police officers who killed unarmed black men.

But perhaps the biggest beating Tuesday was to Berkeley’s image as the most liberal city in America, a phrase used derisively by several speakers. Many painted a picture of a Berkeley not much different from Ferguson, Missouri, or the New York City borough of Staten Island, as a place where people of color as well as people with mental health issues bear the brunt of police suspicion and use of force.

“We haven’t come to grips with some of the issues that have plagued us for over 400 years in this country,” Councilman Max Anderson said during a break. “For us to have to declare, in 2014, that black lives matter, is an indictment of our failure to address the problems that beset us in this society.”

Terror ties question from StarAfrica:

Mauritania trade union wants CIA links clarified

The General Confederation of Mauritania Workers (CGTM) has demanded the government to clarify its alleged cooperation with the CIA over the presence of secret prisons in the country.

Over the last few days, some of the nation’s media have published articles, quoting [The Independent], suggesting information relating to a CIA program to build secret prisons in some countries, CGTM claimed in a statement.

According to the statement published in Nouakchott on Tuesday, the newspaper listed Mauritania among countries cooperating with the program.

For CGTM, “these practices banned by international conventions, including the Geneva Convention, must be prohibited and denounced by all those who have deep love for peace and justice.”

Old school spookery, via intelNews:

Estonian intel officer comes out as Russian spy in TV interview

Estonian authorities have charged a retired officer in the country’s internal intelligence service with espionage, after he revealed in a television interview that he spied for Russia for nearly 20 years.

Uno Puusepp retired from the Internal Security Service of Estonia, known as KaPo, in 2011. He first joined the Soviet KGB as a wiretapping expert in the 1970s, when Estonia was part of the USSR. Following the dissolution of the USSR, when Estonia became an independent nation, he was hired by KaPo and worked there until his retirement, three years ago, at which time he moved permanently to Russian capital Moscow.

Last Sunday, however, Puusepp was the main speaker in a documentary entitled Our Man in Tallinn, aired on Russian television channel NTV. In the documentary, Puusepp revealed that he was a double spy for the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB), which is KGB’s successor, from 1996 until his retirement.

And the possibly related, via RT:

Italian ex-MEP arrested, kicked out of Estonia & called Russian ‘agent of influence’

Journalist and former European Parliament member, Giulietto Chiesa of Italy, was detained by the Tallinn police due to his pro-Russian views, which make him a threat to Estonia’s national security, the country’s Foreign Ministry told RT in an e-mail.

Chiesa spent several hours behind bars after being taken into custody from his hotel in center of the Estonian capital Monday. The police told the Italian politician that he had violated a ban on entering the country imposed on him on December 13.

“Due to the current activities of Mr Giulietto Chiesa, there is a good reason to believe that he is involved in the Russian influence operations and his stay in Estonia may pose threat to Estonia’s security, its public order and public safety,” Mari-Liis Valter, Estonia’s Foreign Ministry spokeswoman, wrote in answer to questions from RT.

On to the hack of the year, first with the Los Angeles Times:

Sony Pictures cancels Christmas Day release of ‘The Interview’

Sony Pictures Entertainment has canceled the Christmas Day release of “The Interview” after the nation’s major theater chains said they would not screen the film.

The studio said “we respect and understand our partners’ decision” and “completely share their paramount interest in the safety of employees and theatergoers.”

Regal, AMC and Cinemark — the three largest chains in the United States — decided not to screen “The Interview” starting on Christmas Day in the wake of threats made by Sony hackers, said people familiar with the decision. The chains asked Sony to postpone the release date of the controversial film.

“Due to the wavering support of the film “The Interview” by Sony Pictures, as well as the ambiguous nature of any real or perceived security threats, Regal Entertainment Group has decided to delay the opening of the film in our theatres,” Regal said in a statement.

And it’s not just theatrical release that’s DOA, reports USA Today:

Some industry insiders speculated Sony might release the film in the video-on-demand format, but the studio tells USA TODAY there will be no further release plans of any kind.

“I think they just want to wash their hands of it,” says Matthew Belloni, executive editor of The Hollywood Reporter.

Internal blowback, again via the Los Angeles Times:

Sony hack draws lawsuits by former employees

The massive computer breach at Sony Pictures Entertainment could test laws that require companies to protect their employees’ personal and medical information.

Lawyers representing former Sony Pictures employees have separately filed in Los Angeles two lawsuits that seek class-action status, alleging Sony Pictures Entertainment was negligent in the months leading up to the devastating hack. One of the complaints — a 45-page federal lawsuit, which seeks to represent former and current Sony employees — contends that Sony ignored warnings that its computer network was prone to attack.

Sony “failed to secure its computer systems, servers and databases, despite weaknesses that it has known about for years” and “subsequently failed to timely protect confidential information of its current and former employees from law-breaking hackers,” according to the federal complaint filed late Monday.

The other suit, which was filed in Los Angeles Superior Court on Tuesday, also alleges negligence and invasion of privacy of former Sony employees.

The United Press International fingers a suspect:

Reports: U.S. officials blame Sony hacking on North Korea

U.S. officials believe those responsible for hacking into Sony Pictures were working under the direction of the North Korean government, several media organizations reported Wednesday.

Sources with direct knowledge of a U.S. government investigation into the security breach told the Wall Street Journal it is believed a North Korean government hacking team known as Unit 121 is behind the attack. The sources were not identified.

CNN, also quoting unnamed sources, reported that an official announcement is expected Thursday blaming the Pyongyang-based group called Bureau 121.

The London Daily Mail covers the sadly inevitable:

State Department saw graphic Kim Jong-un death scene in ‘The Interview’ and ‘approved of it,’ hacked emails reveal

  • Sony executives hired an foreign policy analyst to consult after North Korea called the film The Interview ‘an act of war’ for depicting the assassination of Kim Jon-un
  • The consultant gave a greenlight and said the scene showing the dictator’s death could be good for Koreans – on both sides of the dividing line
  • Consultant also said he spoke about the film to US envoy for North Korean issues
  • Sony Pictures CEO Michael Lynton said he also talked to a ‘very senior’ official at the State Department

And from the London Daily Mail again, , another film dies:

Hollywood studio pulls the plug on Steve Carell’s new movie Pyongyang just hours after Sony scraps release of The Interview

New Regency decided to cancel production of the thriller based on graphic novel by Guy Delisle

  • Movie that was set to be directed by Gore Verbinski, with Carell playing an American living in Pyongyang
  • The cancellation comes in the wake of Sony hacking scandal

The Sony hacking scandal continued reverberating throughout the Hollywood film industry Wednesday, leading New Regency studio to pull the plug on a new film about North Korea starring Steve Carell.

The announcement was made just hours after Sony scrapped the release of the controversial Seth Rogen-James Franco comedy The Interview, which was scheduled to premiere Christmas Day.

Titled Pyongyang, New Regency’s now-defunct film has been described as a thriller based on Guy Delisle’s eponymous graphic novel about his experiences living in the totalitarian state, reported The Wrap.

Following the news that Pyongyang has been scrapped, Steve Carell tweeted to his 3.64million followers: ‘Sad day for creative expression,’ followed by the hashtag, ‘feareatsthesoul.’

After the jump, it’s on to drone anxieties and a proposed Big Apple ban, Arab Springs succeeded by what was before, a born again demand on Swedish Jews, Nigerian mutiny ends in 54 death warrants, top Afghan spook bids a sad farewell to Western boots on the ground, a plea from Pakistan to Afghanistan to help catch the butchers of children, a lethal retaliatory assault, another killer drone strike, Pakistan’s peculiarly spooky complications, and the zealot in question whose most notable prior action made a Pakistani girl a Nobel Peace Price winner, and a solidarity demonstration for the children in Berkeley, Thai police launch an international hunt for lese majeste suspects, Chinese nuclear aircraft carrier ambitions, Obama and Abe — Trans-Pacific BFFs, and a university stands up to Tojo revisionism. . . Continue reading

InSecurityWatch: Terror, cops, hacks, war, zones


Much ground to cover, mostly because of illness yesterday and overnight that leaves us two days worth of gleanings. So on with the show, with little preamble.

From Sky News, the deplorable:

Pakistan Militants Kill 141 In School Massacre

  • One boy describes his friends “lying injured and dead” around him as the Taliban says it wanted them to “feel our pain”

Taliban gunmen have killed 141 people, including at least 132 children, in a school attack in Peshawar, Pakistan.

Nine men stormed the army-run school while around 500 children and teachers were believed to be inside, with many students taking exams at the time.

Most of the victims of the country’s deadliest terror attack were killed in the first few hours as the gunman fired bullets indiscriminately at pupils and teachers.

A local hospital said the dead – and the more than 120 who were injured – were aged from 10 to 20 years old.

The Independent covers Cold War 2.0 in escalation:

As Russia unveils nuclear subs with underwater drones and robots, the stealth race heats up: governments pour cash into secret armies

Russia, apparently not wanting to be overshadowed by yesterday’s announcement that China has built a long-range heat ray weapon, has revealed plans for its nuclear submarines — including on-board battle robots and underwater drones.

Through small, unmanned drones in the air, to the invisible pain gun like that made by China, the race in military tech is to create weapons that can go mostly unnoticed, while at the same time managing for control on the battlefield and during civil unrest.

Russia’s new submarine takes that battle underwater, too.

The country’s new fifth generation submarines could feature drones that can be released by submarines and stay still, while the ship itself moves away. That would allow the submarine to evade anyone watching by giving the impression it has stayed in place, while only the drone has done so.

Meanwhile, a sidebar to the story most Western media devoured, via New York Times:

In Sydney Hostage Siege, Australia’s New Antiterrorism Measures Proved Ineffective

Around the time that grisly images of beheadings circulated across the world this fall, Prime Minister Tony Abbott of Australia introduced a raft of laws in response to what he said was an increasing threat that the Islamic State jihadist group would attempt a bold act of terrorism on Australian soil.

The laws, which passed Parliament with wide support, made it an offense to advocate terrorism; banned Australians from going to fight overseas; allowed the authorities to confiscate and cancel passports; and provided for the sharing of information between security services and defense personnel. The government also deployed hundreds of police officers in counterterrorism sweeps across the country.

None of these measures prevented a man with a long history of run-ins with the law, known to both the police and leaders of Muslim organizations as deeply troubled, from laying siege to a popular downtown cafe this week and holding hostages for 16 hours. The attacker, Man Haron Monis, an Iranian immigrant, and two of the 17 hostages were killed early Tuesday amid the chaos of a police raid. The victims were identified as Katrina Dawson, 38, a lawyer, and the cafe’s manager, Tori Johnson, 34.

BBC News covers the ironic:

Sydney gunman was ‘wanted in Iran’

Iran says it requested 14 years ago the extradition of Man Haron Monis – the gunman behind the Sydney siege – but Australia refused to hand him over.

The head of Iran’s police, Gen Ismail Ahmadi Moghaddam, told reporters that Monis was wanted for fraud at the time.

He said Monis had fled to Australia via Malaysia in the late 1990s.

Monis and two hostages were shot dead on Tuesday morning, when commandos stormed the Sydney cafe where he had been holding captives for 16 hours.

Sky News adds that he. . .

. . .fled to Malaysia after committing fraud while working as the manager of a travel agency in 1996.

Following legal proceedings in 2000, Iran’s judiciary reportedly informed Interpol about his crime and demanded his extradition from Australia.

Australia allegedly refused to do so, saying it did not have a criminal extradition agreement with Iran.

The Daily Californian covers a Berkeley media event:

Artists claim responsibility for depictions of apparent lynchings hung from Sather Gate

On Sunday, a Bay Area collective of artists released a statement taking responsibility for the installation of the effigies.

The group identified itself as AnonArt Oakland and described its members as consisting of queer and black members. According to the statement, the group intended the project to be in “unambiguous alignment” with the affirmation of black lives and apologized for the disturbance it caused.

The statement emphasized that the images of historical lynchings remain relevant today, as the recent deaths of black men, such as Garner, illustrate the consequences of systemic racism.

“For those who think these images depict crimes and attitudes too distasteful to be seen — we respectfully disagree. Our society must never forget,” the statement read. “We apologize solely and profusely to black Americans who felt further attacked by this work. We are sorry — your pain is ours — our families’, our history’s.”

More from the Guardian:

“We are sorry – your pain is ours, our families’, our history’s,” the group wrote. But they also refused to back down. “For those who think these images no longer relevant to the social framework in which black Americans exist everyday – we respectfully disagree.”

The effigies, found hanging with virtually no context or explanation of intent, left the campus community baffled and on edge after their discovery on Saturday morning. Each cutout featured the name of a lynching victim and year of death, but only one had a modern point of reference: the words “can’t breathe” – an allusion to the last words of Garner, an unarmed black man whose July death at the hands of a white policeman has prompted protests around the US.

The group wrote that they vehemently disagreed with the suggestion that the cutouts were racist, and said they “intended only the confrontation of historical context”. The statement explained that the group meant the effigies to represent crimes that “are and should be deeply unsettling to the American consciousness”.

The collective refused to heed the call of the UC Berkeley chancellor, Nicholas Dirks, that the group responsible identify itself: “We choose to remain anonymous because this is not about us as artists, but about the growing movement to address these pervasive wrongs.” Before the collective posted its statement, Dirks had called for calm and unity, and said that regardless of intent “the imagery was deeply disturbing”.

And still more from the Washington Post:

Leigh Raiford, an associate professor of African American studies at UC Berkeley, told the Chronicle she didn’t think the effigies were intended to threaten students.

“To me this suggested a really powerful public art installation that was trying to provoke people to make a historical connection between the history of lynching, state violence against black folks and the contemporary situation that we’re faced with around police brutality and these non-indictments,” she said.

The San Francisco Chronicle covers belligerence blowback:

San Jose cop on leave over tweets on protests

A San Jose police officer was placed on leave after he posted, and later deleted, two threatening Twitter messages directed at protesters rallying against police brutality.

Officer Phillip White tweeted on Saturday, “By the way if anyone feels they can’t breathe or their lives matter I’ll be at the movies tonight, off duty, carrying my gun.”

White also tweeted that he would use his “God given and law appointed right and duty to kill” anyone who threatens his family. He ended the message with the hashtag #CopsLivesMatter — a twist on the popular #BlackLivesMatter hashtag used during protests following grand jury decisions not to indict police officers for killing unarmed black men in Missouri and New York.

White later deleted his tweets, and eventually his entire account, but Buzzfeed captured screen shots of the remarks. The San Jose Police Department said it is taking “the matter very seriously” and conducting an internal investigation.

From Associated Press, influence exerted:

Police altering tactics after killings, protests

With tensions running high over the killings of blacks by police, departments around the country are changing policies and procedures to curb the use of deadly force, ease public distrust and protect officers from retaliation.

New York City plans to issue stun guns to hundreds more officers. The Milwaukee department is making crisis-intervention training mandatory. And in Akron, Ohio, police have begun working in pairs on all shifts for their own safety.

Police departments are constantly updating training. But some of the more recent measures have been prompted by rising anger toward police. And in some cases, departments are making sure to let the public know about these changes.

“It’s not a mistake or a coincidence that a lot of these departments are publicizing their training or are perhaps revamping their training guidelines and things like that in the wake of these really high-profile incidents,” said Kami Chavis Simmons, director of the criminal justice program at the Wake Forest University School of Law in North Carolina and a former federal prosecutor in Washington.

A Monday protest in the neighborhood, via the Oakland Tribune:

Oakland: Two dozen arrested in protest at police HQ

More than 250 protesters blocked Oakland’s downtown police headquarters for more than four hours Monday morning, including some who chained themselves to the front doors and one who clambered up a flagpole.

A total of 25 protesters were arrested for blocking access to a public building and obstructing or delaying a police officer, among other charges, Officer Johnna Watson said.

The mostly peaceful protest by Black Lives Matter began about 7:30 a.m. outside the police administration building at 455 Seventh St. and ended about 1:35 p.m.

By midmorning, one man had climbed a flagpole in front of the building, and police were trying to persuade him to come down. Six people chained themselves to the pole, and protesters chanted “Justice for Mike Brown is justice for us all.”

The bar barring, via the Los Angeles Times:

Lawyers lie down in the rain to protest killings by police

Amid calls for justice and chants of “black lives matter,” more than 100 lawyers, law students and others staged a “die-in” outside a downtown Los Angeles courthouse Tuesday, arguing that the legal system in which they operate is broken.

The group blocked a lane of traffic and clogged the walkway leading to the Hill Street entrance of the Stanley Mosk Courthouse, making it virtually impossible for passing motorists and court visitors to ignore their message.

“The issue of police brutality is not about any single officer or victim, nor is it about good people versus bad people,” Priscilla Ocen, a law professor, declared over a bullhorn. “The number of unjustified homicides is a result of an entire system left too long without the leigitimate checks necessary to ensure accountability and justice.”

The Oakland Tribune covers the sadly expectable:

Fallout grows over Richmond police chief’s participation in #BlackLivesMatter protest

One week after photos of him holding a “#BlackLivesMatter” sign at a peaceful local protest went viral on social media, Richmond police Chief Chris Magnus is still grappling with the fallout — including accusations from his department’s police union that he broke the law — but says he has no regrets.

“It wasn’t the easiest statement to make,” Magnus said by phone Monday morning, “but it was the right thing to do.”

Since the small protest, Magnus has been flooded with more than 300 emails, dozens of phone calls and a flurry of messages on Twitter and Facebook. He estimated that more than 70 percent of the responses have been in support.

From the Guardian, detox for the fruit of the poisonous tree:

Supreme court: car stop was mistake, but drugs found are legal evidence

  • Rules 8-1 against driver stopped for invalid reason found to have drugs in car
  • Chief justice says officer’s error did not violate driver’s constitutional rights

The US supreme court on Monday ruled that a police officer in North Carolina lawfully stopped a car with a faulty brake light – and then found a stash of cocaine in the vehicle – even though driving with one working light is not illegal in the state.

In an 8-1 decision, the court ruled against Nicholas Heien, who had argued that the sandwich bag of cocaine found in the April 2009 search should not have been allowed as evidence when he was charged with drug trafficking because the Surry County sheriff’s department sergeant had no valid reason to stop the car.

Heien, who consented to the search of the car after he was stopped, pleaded guilty and was given a maximum prison term of two years.

After the jump, a Texas cop tasers an innocent 76-year-old, a Tennessee cop charged with rape, body cams for L.A. cops on the way, commodifying a whistleblower, torturers in white coats, cell phone interception sites in Norway prompt demands, Pyongyang tweaks Washington over torture, and on to the hack of the year with a new threat, warnings of theatrical attacks, exploding head suspicions, Sony claims high moral ground over media, Sorken gets sore, hospital gets ransom demand over stolen patient data, malware spam attacks accelerate, a data theft at UC Berkeley, corporate data theft in the cloud, Dutch fine Google for Gmail and search data consolidation for marketing, Google News completes retreats from Spain, pushing the West to intervene in Libya, t Chinese fighting for ISIS, the Syrian war continues,  Spain cracks an ISIS recruiting ring, anti-Islamic far right surges in Germany, Netanyahu’s settlement surge, a plea for troops in the Congo, A Chinese drone shootdown brings calls for a crackdown, the final Occupy Hong Kong eviction, China admits a fatal miscarriage of justice, and predictions of a Sino/American Game of Zones confrontation, and on to Japan for a Red victory of sorts, Abe sets his revisionist militarized agenda and his newly elected legislators back his play, Abe looks to Washington with details to come [but the public dissents], some things just aren’t said, Tojo fans threaten a newspaper, and hate speech aimed at Japan’s Koreans continues. . . Continue reading

InSecurityWatch: Cops, torture, hacks, & Asia


And so much more. . .

To open, there’s an ap for that via the Associated Press:

‘Driving while black’ apps give tips for police stops

A “Driving While Black” smartphone application is set for release this month, but its developers say motorists should be careful when they use it.

“Do not reach for your phone when you are talking to police,” stressed attorney Melvin Oden-Orr, who created the app with another Portland lawyer and a software developer.

Avoiding any move that could make officers think you’re reaching for a gun is just one of the tips “Driving While Black” offers. And despite its attention-grabbing name, the common-sense advice it offers applies to motorists of all races.

The app describes how people can assert their civil rights with officers, enables drivers to alert friends and family with a push of a button that they’ve been pulled over, and includes a recording function to document the interaction.

Empirical policing from MIT Technology Review:

Researchers Will Study Police Confrontations Via Body Cameras

  • UCLA scholars will analyze raw video and audio feeds to glean insights into effective policing

As more police are equipped with cameras on their bodies to capture footage of interactions with the public, a group of researchers at the University of California, Los Angeles, has been given permission to study video and audio streams from one police department to learn how best to prevent confrontations from escalating.

Police body-cams have been proposed as ways to resolve allegations of needless use of force following the police shooting of an unarmed teenager in Ferguson, Missouri, and the death of a New York City man during his arrest for selling cigarettes illegally.

The White House last week pledged $75 million that police departments could use to buy 50,000 body cameras as a way to help “build and sustain trust” among civilians. But whether or not cameras will resolve disputes or improve trust, they could at least provide a wider window into how policing works.

From Channel 4 News, solidarity in London:

76 arrests at Eric Garner protests in London

Program notes:

Police have arrested 76 people who were part of a mass demonstration at Westfield shopping centre in London.

On to that torture thing, first with a “what if?” from the New York Times:

C.I.A. First Planned Jails Abiding by U.S. Standards

Just six days after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, President Bush signed a secret order that gave the Central Intelligence Agency the power to capture and imprison terrorists with Al Qaeda. But the order said nothing about where they should be held or how the agency should go about the business of questioning them.

For the next few weeks, as the rubble at ground zero smoldered and the United States launched a military operation in Afghanistan, C.I.A. officials scrambled to fill in the blanks left by the president’s order. Initially, agency officials considered a path very different from the one they ultimately followed, according to the newly released Senate Intelligence Committee report on the C.I.A.’s harsh interrogation program.

They envisioned a system in which detainees would be offered the same rights and protections as inmates held in federal or American military prisons. Conditions at these new overseas prisons would be comparable to those at maximum-security facilities in the United States. Interrogations were to be conducted in accordance with the United States Army Field Manual, which prohibits coerced, painful questioning. Everything at the prisons would “be tailored to meet the requirements of U.S. law and the federal rules of criminal procedure,” C.I.A. lawyers wrote in November 2001.

The Los Angeles Times covers the tortured semantics of somatic torture:

CIA struggled to keep rationalizing brutal interrogations, report shows

When CIA interrogators waterboarded their first prisoner, Al Qaeda operative Abu Zubaydah, on Aug. 4, 2002, they justified the simulated drowning as a vital tool to extract secrets about future attacks against the United States.

But after 20 days of round-the-clock interrogation at a secret prison in Thailand, during which Zubaydah was repeatedly waterboarded in long sessions, slammed against walls, slapped, confined in a coffin-size box for 266 hours and chained in “stress positions,” the interrogators concluded the Saudi-born operative knew nothing about new plots.

At that point, the justification changed: Officials said the brutal treatment was necessary not to extract information, but to reassure themselves that Zubaydah already had told them everything he knew.

“Our goal was to reach the stage where we have broken any will or ability of subject to resist,” the interrogators said in an email to CIA headquarters. The goal was to get to “the point that we could confidently assess” that Zubaydah did “not possess undisclosed threat information,” they said.

From the New York Times, the inevitable:

Chinese Coverage of C.I.A. Torture Report Says It Highlights U.S. Hypocrisy

The report on the C.I.A.’s interrogations of terrorism suspects, released by the Senate Intelligence Committee on Tuesday, has received extensive coverage in China, which has long accused the United States of hypocrisy on human rights issues.

At a regular news briefing in Beijing on Wednesday, a spokesman for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Hong Lei, said that China “consistently opposes torture.”

“We believe that the U.S. side should reflect upon and rectify its relevant behavior, earnestly obey and implement the provisions of international conventions,” he said.

Another Asia voice from the Guardian:

Afghan president condemns ‘shocking’ and ‘inhumane’ torture described in CIA report

  • Ashraf Ghani vows to defends the dignity of those who had been jailed in reminder of how impact of CIA interrogation programme still fuels anger

The Afghan president, Ashraf Ghani, has described detailed revelations of US torture as “shocking” and “inhumane”, and demanded to know how many Afghans had been debased in grim facilities inside their own country.

The recently elected leader promised to defend the dignity of those who had been jailed, and gave notice that from the start of next year no foreign organisation would have the right to detain or torture Afghans.

“This is a vicious cycle. When a person is tortured in an inhumane way, the reaction will be inhumane,” Ghani told a specially convened news conference in Kabul. “There can be no justification for these kinds of actions and inhumane torture in today’s world.”

More tortuous spookspeak from the Washington Post:

CIA chief: ‘Unknowable’ whether ordinary interrogation would bring same intel gains

CIA Director John Brennan said Thursday that valuable information was obtained from detainees subjected to harsh interrogation techniques, but it remains “unknowable” whether conventional questioning alone could have led to the same intelligence gains.

In his first public comments since Tuesday’s release of the Senate Intelligence Committee’s report on the CIA detention program, Brennan also defended the use of so-called “enhanced” techniques as the “right” response at a time when the agency believed al-Qaeda was possibly preparing another wave of terrorism in the wake of the Sept. 11 attacks.

Brennan also directly challenged some of the reports main conclusions.

Where have we heard this before?:

Rummy’s more cadaverous other half weighs in via Techdirt:

Dick Cheney Says CIA Torture Report Is ‘Full Of Crap’ — Then Admits He Hasn’t Read It

  • from the judging-a-book-by-its-cover dept

It’s no secret that those most closely responsible for the CIA’s torture program are pulling out all the stops to attack the Senate Intelligence Committee’s report on the program, trying out a variety of defenses from “it actually saved lives” to “it’s just a partisan hack job.” So it should come as no surprise that former Vice President Dick Cheney has been making the cable TV news appearances to help attack the report. After all, many have argued that the real person behind the torture program was Cheney and his staff — and to date, Cheney has insisted that everything that was done was perfectly reasonable and he’d do it again. Thus there’s no surprise when Cheney appears on Fox News (because, of course), to claim that the report is “a bunch of hooey” and “full of crap” and “deeply flawed” only to then admit “ I haven’t read the report.”

Wait, what?

Even the Fox News interviewer was taken aback — and Cheney must have realized how stupid he looked, because he then tried to backtrack, arguing that he hadn’t read “all 6,000 pages,” but then saying he’d read “parts of it” and “summaries.” Yes, we’ve all read “summaries.” But some of us have sat down to read the whole 500 pages (minus the redacted bits, of course). You would hope that if Cheney was going on TV to respond to questions about the report that he might have done so as well, rather than just repeating the talking points handed out to folks associated with the program. Apparently not.

More inevitability from the New York Times:

U.S. Tells Court That Documents From Torture Investigation Should Remain Secret

The Obama administration has urged a court to reject a request to disclose thousands of pages of documents from a Justice Department investigation into the torture of detainees by the Central Intelligence Agency, including summaries of interviews with about 100 witnesses and documents explaining why in the end no charges were filed.

The administration made the filing late Tuesday in response to a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit brought by The New York Times, hours after the Senate Intelligence Committee made public a 524-page executive summary of its own investigation into C.I.A. torture. The committee based its report on a review of C.I.A. documents but did not conduct any interviews.

The Justice Department materials, the court filing revealed, include 10 reports and memorandums totaling 1,719 pages — more than three times the number of pages in the Senate report released Tuesday — as well as “numerous” pages of reports on interviews with current and former C.I.A. officials.

The London Telegraph covers acts of omission by commission:

Downing Street admits: CIA torture report redacted at request of British spies

  • No 10 confirms British intelligence officials discussed redactions to torture report ‘on grounds of national security’

Key passages of report into the CIA’s torture programme were censored at the request of British spies, Downing Street has admitted, raising fears that the UK’s hand in the post-9/11 interrogation programme was covered up.

David Cameron’s spokesman admitted the Security Services asked their American counterparts to censor a US Senate report into the brutal interrogation of terror suspects at secret foreign prisons. It is understood the requests were granted.

John Brennan, the head of the CIA, tonight defended the “abhorrent” interrogation programme, saying the information helped locate Osama Bin Laden.

Mr Brennan said there was “strong concern” among foreign spy chiefs that the report was about to be made public. “Covert was something that they hoped was going to remain such,” he said.

And Channel NewsAsia Singapore covers an Asian denial:

Thailand denies existence of CIA black site

Thailand has long been accused by human rights groups of being one of a number of countries which hosted secret prisons run by the CIA to interrogate Al-Qaeda suspects in the years after the 9/11 attacks on New York

A senior Thai official on Thursday (Dec 11) flatly rejected longstanding claims the kingdom hosted a secret CIA prison after the publication of a US Senate report this week reignited controversy over Washington’s “black site” network.

Thailand has long been accused by human rights groups of being one of a number of countries which hosted secret prisons run by the CIA to interrogate Al-Qaeda suspects in the years after the 9/11 attacks on New York.

But Suwaphan Tanyuvardhan, a minister in the Prime Minister’s Office, rejected any suggestions that the Thai government had been complicit in running any “black sites”. “There has been no such thing as a secret prison or torture facilities in Thailand. Thai officials do not do these kind of actions,” he told reporters.

More semantic persiflage from the Washington Post:

‘Learned helplessness’: The chilling psychological concept behind the CIA’s interrogation methods

Of all the harrowing accounts and chilling examples in the U.S. Senate report on CIA interrogation practices, among the most striking was that of Abu Zubaydah. One of the first detainees in the war on terror, he was also one of the most vital. Lying in a bed in Thailand, he told FBI interrogators all about Khalid Sheik Mohammed — the mastermind of the Sept. 11th attacks.

But then the CIA showed up. Its team was accompanied by a psychologist. And he wanted to conduct a test that would get “Zubaydah to reveal everything by severing his sense of personality and scaring him almost to death,” reported Vanity Fair in 2007 in a groundbreaking story. So interrogators built a coffin and stuffed him inside it, the Senate report said, for 300 hours. He was waterboarded 83 times in 17 days. He was absolutely broken by the procedures — but not one significant plot was foiled as a result of his confessions.

Despite the failure of the interrogation methods, the psychological concept guiding them — called “learned helplessness” — lived on. With the guidance of two psychologists on contract to the CIA for $1,800 per day, the technique of stripping someone of their will would be applied to numerous additional prisoners in the coming years. Media reports have named the two psychologists: Jim Mitchell and Bruce Jessen, who in all earned $81 million in payment. They derived their approach from a well-known 1967 research paper by University of Pennsylvania psychologists.

And from the London Telegraph, more inevitability:

Russia calls for prosecutions over ‘inquisition-style’ CIA interrogation methods

Foreign ministry says “shocking” Senate report was “latest confirmation of gross, systemic human rights violations” by US authorities

Russia has called on the United States to punish those responsible for the use of “inquisition-style” interrogation methods in the “global war on terror”, as revealed in the US Senate report on torture this week.

Konstantin Dolgov, the human rights ombudsman of Russia’s foreign ministry, said the results of the “shocking” report were “the latest confirmation of gross, systemic human rights violations by the American authorities”.

The long-awaited torture report, published in 500-page summary form on Tuesday by the Senate’s intelligence committee, detailed brutal interrogation methods used by the CIA against al-Qaeda suspects

The Guardian covers the objects of the machine, free at last:

Guantánamo prisoners released to Uruguay: ‘We are so happy to be here’

Six former US detainees who were never charged with a crime, were flown to Uruguay on Sunday to begin new lives as refugees

Over the past 12 years, Ali al-Shaaban has experienced precious little human kindness. Detained in Pakistan as a suspected al-Qaida member in the months after the 9/11 terror attacks, he was transferred to the US military prison at Guantánamo Bay, where he was held for more than a decade.

This week, however, the 32-year old Syrian has been the subject of a wave of affection in a country half a world away from his homeland: government officials offer him warm embraces; total strangers wave to him and offer words of encouragement.

Shaaban is one of six Guantánamo prisoners who were flown to Uruguay on Sunday to begin new lives as refugees. The six – four Syrians, a Palestinian and a Tunisian – were never charged, and were cleared for release in 2009, but the US struggled to find countries willing to receive them until the Uruguayan president, José Mujica agreed to accept them.

The Associated Press covers culture war:

US co-opted Cuba’s hip-hop scene to spark change

In early 2009, a U.S. government contractor sent a Serbian music promoter to Cuba with these covert marching orders: Recruit one of Havana’s most notorious rappers to spark a youth movement against the government.

In communist Cuba, it was a project that could have landed Rajko Bozic in jail. So when he made his pitch to team up with hip-hop artist Aldo Rodriguez, Bozic left out the part about his true intentions — or that he was working for the U.S. Agency for International Development.

Dreadlocked, muscled and tattooed, Aldo, as he was known, was a hero in the hip-hop underground for lyrics protesting the Castro government’s grip on everyday life in songs like “El Rap Es Guerra,” or “Rap Is War,” words he tattooed on his forearm.

He and his group, Los Aldeanos, were about to unknowingly get sucked into a tug-of-war between Havana and Washington, as thousands of pages of documents obtained by The Associated Press and dozens of interviews show.

A video report from the Guardian:

USAid uses Cuban hip-hop to spark youth unrest

Program notes:

Hip-hop is latest covert weapon in the US government’s attempts to unseat Cuba’s communist government.

For more than two years, the American development aid organisation USAid has been secretly trying to infiltrate Cuba’s underground hip-hop movement. Like its previous efforts, including exploding cigars, poisoned milkshakes and the botched Bay of Pigs invasion, the attempt to co-opt rappers ended in ignominious failure, new documents have shown.

Grounded, via the Los Angeles Times:

European Union bans all Libyan airlines, citing safety risk

The European Union on Thursday banned all seven Libyan airlines from operating in the airspace of the 28-nation bloc, citing threats to flight operations while the country is plagued by violent militias battling for dominance.

“Recent events in Libya have led to a situation whereby the Civil Aviation Authority is no longer able to fulfill its international obligations with regard to the safety of the Libyan aviation sector,” European Union Transport Commissioner Violeta Bulc said in a statement issued in Brussels.

“My priority in aviation is passenger safety, which is nonnegotiable, and we stand ready to help the Libyan aviation sector as soon as the situation on the ground will allow for this,” Bulc said.

After the jump, Spanish law formalizes immigrant expulsions and implements anti-protest fines, ISIS tries hostage corpse ransom, Cold War 2.0 on the Baltic, using the deplorable to justify the unspeakable in Old Blighty, the hack of the year yields Tinseltown tawdriness and other revelations, fighting POODLE attacks on your browser, Spanish law triggers a Google News departure, prosecution urged for Brazilian military dictatorship crimes, a legal victory for journalists in Sierra Leone, forced conversions alleged in India, freedom of information oversight defunding Down Under, a virginity test for Indonesian policewomen, North Korean kidnap leaks alleged, China memorial brings Japanese war crimes into the present, Hong Kong Occupy evicted with 247 arrests as some vow to return, China rejects a Vietnamese island claim, Washington pushes for a Japanese/South Korean rapprochement, a Hollywood film inspires a revisionist censorship cry in Japan, and Tojo nostalgia in Tokyo as Japan ups its military budget again. . . Continue reading

InSecurityWatch: Torture, hacks, drones, & zones


And more. . .

We begin with a segment from Abby Martin’s Breaking the Set:

Why the Senate Torture Report Doesn’t Matter | Interview with David Remes

Program notes:

Abby Martin speaks with human rights lawyer, David Remes, about the contents of the newly released Senate torture report summary and how it will impact the future of the “war on terror”.

And from CBC News, a call for prosecution:

UN counterterrorism expert says U.S. officials must be prosecuted for CIA torture

Senior U.S. officials who authorized and carried out torture as part of former President George W. Bush’s national security policy must be prosecuted, a top United Nations special investigator said Wednesday.

Ben Emmerson, the UN’s special rapporteur on counterterrorism and human rights, said in addition that all CIA and other U.S. officials who used waterboarding and other torture techniques must be prosecuted.

He said the Senate intelligence committee report on the CIA’s harsh interrogation techniques at secret overseas facilities after the 9/11 terror attacks shows “there was a clear policy orchestrated at a high level within the Bush administration, which allowed to commit systematic crimes and gross violations of international human rights law.”

The New York Times covers leaks the spooks love:

Report Says C.I.A. Used Media Leaks to Advantage

The Central Intelligence Agency leaked classified material to reporters to shape the perception that its detention and interrogation program was an effective tool in thwarting terrorism, according to a Senate Intelligence Committee report released Tuesday.

The report also said that in 2002, a publication, revealed later on Tuesday to be The New York Times, agreed to withhold information about a secret prison in Thailand at the urging of the agency and Vice President Dick Cheney.

In addition to providing vivid details of the C.I.A.’s use of secret prisons and more aggressive torture methods than was previously known, the Senate report provides examples — in highly redacted form — of the interactions between the agency and journalists in the years after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

The details in the report speak to tensions inside the government over the intelligence community’s dealings with the media. In some cases, the agency authorized the disclosure of classified information to journalists. Yet, in recent years, the government has investigated reporters and officials, including prosecuting a C.I.A. officer for leaking details of the torture program.

And from the Washington Post, debunking a myth:

Senate report disputes CIA account of Osama bin Laden search

The killing of Osama bin Laden in May 2011 was hailed by current and former CIA officials as the crowning justification for the use of harsh interrogation tactics. High-value detainees, when subjected to those methods, provided intelligence that the officials said helped lead the spy agency to a mysterious courier and, ultimately, to the terrorist leader himself.

The Senate Intelligence Committee report released Tuesday upends that version of history, providing an alternate case study that revives questions about the agency’s account. The report asserts that the role of harsh interrogation techniques was greatly exaggerated.

“A review of CIA records found that the initial intelligence obtained, as well as the information the CIA identified as the most critical — or the most valuable — on Abu Ahmad al-Kuwaiti, was not related to the use of the CIA’s enhanced interrogation techniques,” investigators concluded.

The role the CIA detention and interrogation program played in the hunt for bin Laden is one of the most pivotal questions in assessing the effectiveness of the agency’s response to the Sept. 11 attacks. The Senate report notes that even in the weeks before the raid in Abbottabad, Pakistan, the CIA’s Office of Public Affairs had prepared “agreed-upon language” to be released that would stress “the critical nature of the detainee reporting in identifying bin Laden’s courier.”

The Los Angeles Times offers a frank assessment:

At CIA’s ‘Salt Pit’ prison, torture reigned with little oversight

The first detainee interrogated in the old abandoned brick factory north of Kabul became the model for what would later unfold in the cave-like halls of a CIA interrogation facility known as the “Salt Pit.”

Ridha Najjar, a suspected former bodyguard for Osama bin Laden, often was left alone in the shadows under a barrage of shrieking music, cold, shackled and hooded, his dark figure handcuffed to an overhead bar for 22 hours a day, according to a report released Tuesday by the Senate Intelligence Committee.

Later, another detainee, Gul Rahman, believed to have served in a security detail for an Afghan warlord, would die in the Salt Pit.

He was dragged though the dirt and grime of the corridors, his mouth taped, his clothes falling off. His captors slammed and punched him, and left him chained to a concrete floor in a sweatshirt but no pants. Officials labeled the death hypothermia, though his face, legs, shoulders and waist were cut and bruised.

A few months later in March 2003, with the outside world still unaware of the secret facility, a lead CIA officer who ordered Rahman to be shackled naked in his cell was presented a $2,500 “cash award” for his “consistently superior work,” the report states.

And a bottom line, summed up in a headline from the Los Angeles Times:

Senate report says CIA torture methods yielded no useful intelligence

The CIA’s brutal interrogations of terrorism suspects from 2002 to 2008 led to false confessions and fabricated information, produced no useful intelligence about imminent terrorist attacks and were so badly run that the CIA lost track of captives, according to a long-delayed Senate report released Tuesday.

TheLocal.de covers an error with great bodily harm:

CIA tortured German it mistook for a terrorist

A German citizen abducted and tortured by Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) agents in 2004 should never have been detained, a US Senate report published on Tuesday showed.

Khalid al-Masri was “rendered” – a term for extrajudicial transfers of prisoners – to the CIA in January 2004 after being arrested by Macedonian border authorities, who mistook him for an al-Qaeda suspect.

While in CIA custody he was severely beaten, stripped, shackled and sodomized with a suppository as part of a process the agency called “capture shock”.

He was later flown to a CIA site in Kabul, Afghanistan, where he was beaten, kicked and subjected to other abuse in a prison called the “Salt Pit”.

And the London Telegraph reports an admission:

Polish president admits Poland agreed to host secret CIA ‘black site’

  • Alexander Kwasniewski, Poland’s president from 1995-2005, admits for the first time that Poland agreed to host a secret CIA ‘black site’

A former Polish president has admitted for the first time Poland agreed to host a secret CIA “black site” where terrorism suspects were held and allegedly tortured.

Alexander Kwasniewski, Poland’s president from 1995-2005, said he had permitted America to operate a base on Polish soil in the wake of the September 11 attacks but stressed there was “no agreement on torture”.

It is the first time a senior Polish politician in office during 2002-2003, when the base was operational, has conceded the CIA had a site in Poland.

For many years they issued flat denials about its existence despite a mountain of evidence indicating the base had existed, and allegations by former terrorism suspects that not only were they prisoners in Poland but also tortured there.

More from RT:

Poland: We hosted secret CIA torture prison

Program notes:

The damning report into CIA torture has led Poland to finally admit that it DID host a secret American prison – after years of denying it. It’s the first acknowledgement by a foreign country to hosting such a site.

TheLocal.at covers a partner in crime:

Austria complicit in US torture program

Austria was one of many European and Arab countries which was complicit in US torture programs, by supporting the secret and illegal transfer of detainees to some of its ‘black site’ prisons, according to a new report released on Tuesday.

The report is based on an in-depth investigation by the US senate, and was led by US Senator Dianne Feinstein, the chairwoman of the Senate Intelligence Committee.

Although many parts of the report are redacted, or have code names instead of countries, reporters and analysts have combined other information to glean details of which countries were actively supporting the US in its program of secret prisons around the world, where torture was allegedly carried out by the CIA on a routine basis.

From Techdirt, torture profiteers:

Profiting Massively From Torture: Designers Of CIA Torture Program Raked In $81 Million (And Are Still Getting Money)

  • from the how-do-they-sleep-at-night? dept

There are so many incredible things in the CIA Torture Report that will be discussed and analyzed over the next few weeks and months. But one that stands out to me is that the architects of the torture program were not only wholly unqualified to design it, but they profited massively from the program, to the tune of at least $81 million. And that number may go up, as they also are getting paid by the government for any legal issues related to the program, including over $1 million for legal fees associated with responding to the Senate Intelligence Committee investigation that resulted in this report.

The report uses pseudonyms for the two psychologists: Grayson Swigert and Hammond Dunbar. However, their names were actually revealed back in 2007: James Mitchell and Bruce Jessen. To say they were unqualified for the work of designing the torture program would be an understatement. While they were psychologists with the US Air Force’s “Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape” (SERE) program (which is supposed to help train US military personnel in case they’re captured), you’d think they’d actually have some relevant background with terrorism and/or interrogation. But, nope:

Neither psychologist had experience as an interrogator, nor did either have specialized knowledge of al- Qa’ida, a background in terrorism, or any relevant regional, cultural, or linguistic expertise. SWIGERT had reviewed research on “learned helplessness,” in which individuals might become passive and depressed in response to adverse or uncontrollable events. He theorized that inducing such a state could encourage a detainee to cooperate and provide information.

And from the Guardian, torture by others:

Rousseff in tears as Brazilian report details junta’s killings and torture

  • Brazil’s president, herself tortured by 1970s military regime, breaks down as she says ‘new generations deserve truth’

Brazil’s National Truth Commission delivered a damning report on the killings, disappearances and torture committed by government agents during the country’s 1964-85 military dictatorship. It called for those responsible to face prosecution.

The 2,000-page report was delivered on Wednesday to President Dilma Rousseff, a former Marxist guerrilla who endured harsh torture and long imprisonment in the early 1970s.

“Under the military dictatorship, repression and the elimination of political opposition became the policy of the state, conceived and implemented based on decisions by the president of the republic and military ministers,” the report states. The commission “therefore totally rejects the explanation offered up until today that the serious violations of human rights constituted a few isolated acts or excesses resulting from the zeal of a few soldiers”.

Investigators spent nearly three years combing through archives, hospital and morgue records and questioning victims, their families and alleged perpetrators. The document represents Brazil’s most sweeping attempt yet to come to terms with the human rights abuses committed under the country’s military regime.

Who were trained by Uncle Sam, via BuzzFeed News:

The U.S. Spent Decades Teaching Torture Techniques To Brazil

The Latin American country’s National Truth Commission just produced its own torture report, which among other things documents the way American teachers taught Brazilian officers the theory and methods of torture.

U.S. military officials spent years teaching torture techniques to Brazil’s military, including throughout the South American giant’s lengthy period of military dictatorship, according to a new report.

After more than two years of investigation, the panel charged with documenting the human rights abuses committed under Brazil’s military dictatorship released its final report on Wednesday. The Brazilian report comes just a day after the release of the Senate Intelligence Committee’s own lengthy chronicle of the United States’ use of torture in prosecuting last decade’s War on Terror.

According to O Globo, the National Truth Commission (CNV) report documents how more than 300 members of the Brazilian military spent time at the School of the Americas, run out of Fort Benning near Columbus, Georgia. While there, attendees “had theoretical and practical lessons on torture, which would later be replicated in Brazil.”

teleSUR covers survivors arriving:

Mujica to Meet Guantanamo Refugees

  • The President of Uruguay urged Obama to release political prisoners and end the Cuban embargo.

The ex-inmates of the Guantanamo prison that Uruguay has accepted will meet with President Jose Mujica, local media reported on Wednesday.

The meeting was expected to happen Wednesday afternoon at the military hospital which the refugees entered after arriving inthe South American country on Sunday, to undergo medical examinations.

Also on Wednesday, five of them were released from the hospital.

And the Los Angeles Times comes to a conclusion:

CIA torture report not likely to result in reforms or prosecutions

Amid a fresh call for a major shake-up at the highest levels of the CIA, the White House expressed support for agency Director John Brennan, who was the deputy executive director in 2002 when the interrogation program was designed and implemented.

The Justice Department defended its decision not to prosecute those involved, saying the report would not trigger reconsideration.

And in Congress, where lawmakers split along party lines over the accuracy of the findings and the wisdom of releasing the 500-page redacted summary, there were few signs of momentum behind legislation.

Techdirt goes down the rabbit hole:

GCHQ Follows NSA Into Paranoia — Just As Julian Assange Predicted

  • from the cognitive-decline dept

One of the knock-on effects of Snowden’s leaks is that the NSA is terrified there might be more whistleblowers, and has taken extreme action in an attempt to reduce the risk of that happening by stripping 100,000 people of their security clearances. In other words, it no longer trusts huge swathes of the people it works with — hardly a healthy situation. Now it seems that GCHQ has succumbed to a similar paranoia about its employees:

GCHQ is sponsoring ways of identifying disgruntled employees and those who might go on to be a security threat through their use of language in things like office emails.

The article in the Gloucestershire Echo — the English county where GCHQ is located — explains how potential whistleblowers will be identified:

“research will investigate the use of techniques from the field of natural language processing to detect the early indicators of an insider’s threat.”

That means changes in the way a person communicates can give a clue that they are unhappy and perhaps prepared to do something to harm the organisation.

On to the year’s other major domestic story, via United Press International:

Medical students across U.S. hold ‘die-ins’ to protest racism

Medical students at the University of Pennsylvania blocked traffic as they joined a national “die-in” to protest the police killings of unarmed black men and racism in health care.

White-coated medical students from Harvard to the University of California held “die-ins” Wednesday to protest the deaths of unarmed black men and racism in health care.

The National White Coat Die-In involved scores of medical schools across the United States.

Lucy Ogbu Nwobodo, one of the organizers of the protest at the UC Davis Medical School in Sacramento, said the national discussion of the shooting of Michael Williams in Ferguson, Mo., and the chokehold death of Eric Garner in New York “have affected all of us.”

“We decided to come together as one voice to speak up about these issues,” Nwobodo told Capital Public Radio. “We believe that because it affects our patients outside of the hospital it’s just as important as what we see in the medical clinics.”

At Yale in New Haven, Conn., medical students spent 4 1/2 minutes lying on the ground, a minute for each hour Williams’ body remained on the street, and then, like Garner, shouted “I can’t breathe.” Jessica Minor, a medical student, said the protest was also aimed at the under-representation of minorities and women in medical school.

At the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, protesters stopped traffic. About 100 students blocked Walnut Street by lying down.

The same, this time in Old Blighty, via USA Today:

Londoners hold ‘die-in’ in support of U.S. protests

Hundreds of protesters rallied Wednesday at one of Europe’s largest shopping malls to show solidarity with U.S. demonstrations over the killing of unarmed black men by white officers.

Shouting “black lives matter” and “we can’t breathe,” the multiracial crowd marched through the Westfield center in west London and staged several “die-ins,” echoing recent protests in the U.S. at Macy’s Herald Square and Grand Central Station in New York City, as well as Union Station in Washington. Other protests in recent days have occurred in Berkeley, Calif.

The English protest was called by the London Black Revolutionaries, the National Union of Students Black Students’ Campaign and the London Campaign Against Police and State Violence.

From United Press International, another response:

Columbia Law School postpones exams after Garner, Ferguson grand jury decisions

Columbia Law School is granting final exam postponements to students who say they were traumatized by recent grand jury decisions not to indict white police officers responsible for killing unarmed black men in Ferguson, Mo., and Staten Island, N.Y.

The school’s interim dean, Robert E. Scott, announced the decision Saturday in an email to the school. He allowed the extensions after a petition was posted by The Columbia Law School Coalition of Concerned Students of Color on the same day.

“Recent events have unsettled our lives as students,” the petition read. “We have struggled to compartmentalize our trauma as we sit and make fruitless attempts to focus on exam preparation. We sit to study with the knowledge that our brothers and sisters are regularly killed with impunity on borders and streets; we sit to study with the understanding that our brothers and sisters are marching to have our humanity recognized and valued by a system that has continually failed us.”

And from Reuters, a win:

Chicago proposes chokehold ban in wake of U.S. protests

Chicago city council members have proposed a ban on the use of chokeholds by police officers working within city limits in an expansive proposal coming in the wake of the chokehold death of an unarmed black man being arrested in New York.

The proposal, which includes all security personnel such as deputy sheriffs, U.S. Marshals and private security guards, is the first among U.S. municipalities attempting to regulate arrest techniques after a grand jury last week declined to indict a New York City police officer in a chokehold death.

Council members in favor of the ban, which was introduced this week to the city’s finance committee, say they want Chicago in front of the issue of excessive police force that has resulted in street protests across the nation.

After the jump, Uncle Sam demands handover of emails in Ireland, then on to the hack of the year, first with FBI doubts about Pyongyang’s responsibility, word that a ransom demand came first, while Homeland Security warned Sony of possible North Korean retaliation, the film in question approved at the top, and a celebrity scandal emerges from the leaks, on to other malware, starting with a new version of an old curse, another new breed of malware, and a high level hacker cabal resurfaces, the FAA gives limited private drone us OK to four companies, another Palestinian tragedy and another provocation from the Israeli government, an African security investigation, on to Asia and American arms sale to Taiwan, Hong Kong braces for Occupy eviction, Brits angry at China for blocking a parliamentary Hong Kong visit, Chinese Game of Zones anger at Washington, and hints of a Beijing secret Game of Zones play, Chinese jets cross a Japanese line, a Chinese ballistic challenger, fears of a South Korean press crackdown, more fears over Japan’s new state secrets act amidst a right wing campaign against the press, while racists continue their Kyoto hate speech campaign, and Abe’s government steps up its campaign to whitewash war crimes abroad, cinematic Hitler love in Thailand, and a facesit-in protest in Old Blighty. . . Continue reading

Chart of the day: Contrasting views of justice


From the latest report from the Pew Research Center [PDF]:

BLOG Ra ce

Hitler’s Furies: The women who enabled genocide


A fascinating look at a rarely seen side of the Third Reich: The Nazi woman as enabler of and sometimes participant in the killing fields of the Eastern Front and the death camps.

While many are familiar with the story of Ilse Koch — wife of concentration camp commandant Karl-Otto Koch and collector of tattooed inmate skins — thousands of other German women accompanied troops to the Eastern Front and did their part in the lethal ethnic cleansing commands that followed close on the heels of advancing and retreating troops.

Here’s a fascinating talk by a woman who looked at their role in infamy, Via University of California Television:

Hitler’s Furies: Women of the Third Reich Holocaust Living History — The Library Channel

Program notes:

Award-winning historian Wendy Lower discusses the lives and experience of German women in the Nazi killing fields. Her study chillingly debunks the age-old myth of the German woman as mother and breeder, removed from the big world of politics and war. The women Lower labels “furies” humiliated their victims, plundered their goods, and often killed them, and like many of their male counterparts, they got away with murder. Lower is the John K. Roth professor of history at Claremont McKenna College and has published widely on the Shoah in Eastern Europe. She is presented here as part of the Holocaust Living History Workshop at UC San Diego. Recorded on 11/13/2014.

InSecurityWatch: Cops, spooks, hacks, war


And more. . .

First, resistance continues, via the New York Times:

Protests Continue in New York City on Friday

Protests continued for a third night in New York City over a grand jury’s decision this week not to indict a white police officer in the death of an unarmed black man on Staten Island in July.

Demonstrators gathered in Union Square, Columbus Circle and Rockefeller Center on Friday, with hundreds flooding the Apple store on Fifth Avenue, Macy’s in Herald Square and Grand Central Terminal.

Thousands of people across the country have protested since Wednesday, when a grand jury announced that it would not indict Officer Daniel Pantaleo, 29, over his fatal encounter with Eric Garner, 43. Mr. Garner was allegedly selling loose cigarettes on a sidewalk when he was put into a forbidden chokehold by the officer, after resisting arrest.

The protesters in New York came out despite chilly temperatures and a drizzling rain that was expected to continue on and off through the night. The demonstrations have largely been peaceful, though the police late Friday arrested some people who marched on the Franklin D. Roosevelt Drive.

And a California city that just beat back a Chevron-funded bid to control the city council takes a significant step, via the Oakland Tribune:

Richmond police receive body cameras, will be on every officer in 2015

Police body cameras have become an issue du jour in the wake of Ferguson and other controversies involving use of force by law enforcement, but Richmond’s Police Department first moved in that direction with a pilot program more than a year ago.

Police officials received a shipment of 120 body cameras this week, paid for by a U.S. Department of Justice grant, and police leaders expect to have all officers in the field outfitted with them by mid-January. The City Council approved the purchase in October.

“We are already thinking that more employees beyond sworn personnel may wear them in the future,” said Capt. Mark Gagan.

The FirstVu evidentiary cameras and support equipment, provided by Kansas-based Digital Ally, are the size of a matchbook and will be worn on officers’ lapels with a power source held in the breast pocket. Footage immediately transmits to a remote server and stores in the cloud, with no chance for modification or editing, Gagan said.

From BuzzFeed, the shame of a nation, Ohio style:

Cleveland Police Pistol-Whipped Suspects, Punched Juveniles, And Pepper-Sprayed Mentally Ill People

  • Inside the Justice Department’s shocking and appalling report on the Cleveland Police.

A one-year investigation by the Justice Department into the Cleveland Police Department found off-duty officers pistol-whipped suspects, assaulted a juvenile in the back of a squad car, abused the mentally ill, were reckless with Tasers, and fired their weapons when they didn’t have to.

Attorney General Eric Holder announced at a press conference this week that the investigation revealed a pattern of excessive force, reckless behavior, and poor training and accountability policies within the department.

The violations are so egregious that the CDP will now face government intervention mandating reform. The CDP is already in the midst of an investigation into the fatal shooting of 12-year-old Tamir Rice by Cleveland police.

From BBC News, a national rebuke:

Eric Garner death: UN fears over no-charge jury decisions

UN human rights experts have expressed “legitimate concerns” about US juries failing to charge policemen involved in the deaths of two black civilians.

It is part of a broader “pattern of impunity” concerning minority victims, the UN said in a statement.

Thousands of people have taken to the streets in protest over the deaths of two black men at the hands of white officers in recent months.

Grand juries in Missouri and New York failed to charge either officer.

“I am concerned by the grand juries’ decisions and the apparent conflicting evidence that exists relating to both incidents,” UN Special Rapporteur on minority issues, Rita Izsak, said in a statement.

The Christian Science Monitor raises a question of semantics:

US ‘terrorism?’ What’s not being said about Kansas City, Austin attacks.

  • The adoption of slogans like the ‘war on terrorism’ since Al Qaeda’s attacks on 9/11 was supposed to be about the tactic, not about the underlying beliefs of the attacker

Yesterday, a man in an SUV who’d been making online and in-person threats against the Muslim community ran down and killed a 15-year-old boy getting into the family car outside a mosque in Kansas City, Mo. At the end of last month a man with ties to extremist Christian groups and opposed to immigration fired more than 100 rounds at various targets in Austin, Texas, including the police headquarters, the federal courthouse, and the Mexican consulate, before he was killed.

In neither case has the word “terrorism” featured prominently in the coverage of the attack. And, if the US press and politicians stay true to what’s become the accepted framing for homegrown “terrorism,” it’s unlikely to appear much going forward.

The adoption of slogans like the “war on terrorism” since Al Qaeda’s attacks on New York and Washington in 2001 was supposed to be about the tactic, not about the underlying beliefs of the attacker. But in practice, terrorism carried out by Muslims is portrayed as far scarier, a far greater danger, than similar violent acts carried out by adherents of other faiths.

From the Intercept, oh, golly whillikers!:

White House Getting Cold Feet Over Exposing CIA’s Torture Secrets

After seven months of promising to release a report exposing CIA torture of terror suspects, the Obama administration Friday reportedly sent Secretary of State John Kerry to ask Senate Intelligence Committee chair Dianne Feinstein to consider holding off “because a lot is going on in the world.”

The White House has been negotiating with Feinstein since April over extensive CIA-requested redactions before making public a 450-page summary of the committee’s exhaustive investigation into CIA detention and interrogation during the Bush/Cheney years.

But the intelligence community never wanted its dirty secrets revealed. I suggested as early as six weeks ago that administration officials, doing the CIA’s bidding, were stalling negotiations until Republicans took over the chamber and killed the report themselves.

intelNews reminds:

NSA spies on every cell phone company in the world, new data shows

The United States National Security Agency has spied on virtually every cell phone manufacturer and provider in the world in an attempt to uncover security weaknesses that can be exploited for surveillance, according to newly leaked data.

It also appears that the NSA has worked to sabotage the technical security features of commercial telecommunications systems in order to be able to spy on their users.

From Network World, puns avoided:

US Senator introduces bill to block FBI backdoor access

U.S. Senator Ron Wyden on Thursday introduced a bill that would prevent the government from forcing companies to design backdoors or security vulnerabilities into their products to aid surveillance.

The Secure Data Act aims to preempt moves by the government to better eavesdrop over newer communications technologies, and is part of an overall bid by some legislators to place curbs on extensive government surveillance.

A key legislation that would put curbs on the bulk collection of phone records by the U.S. National Security Agency, called the USA Freedom Act, could not move towards a final vote on the legislation in the Senate last month, despite backing from the administration of U.S. President Barack Obama.

From United Press International superespiocypher power:

American intelligence agencies building new supercomputer

Current supercomputing utilizes technology that relies on tens of megawatts and requires large amounts of physical space to house the infrastructure and power and cool the components.

American intelligence agencies announced plans Friday to develop and build a new superconducting supercomputer, one which would increase current computing capacity while simultaneously reducing the energy consumption and physical footprint of the machines.

The Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity, a branch of the U.S. intelligence community, said in a press release that the agency has embarked on a multi-year research effort called the Cryogenic Computer Complexity program, or C3.

Current supercomputing utilizes technology that relies on tens of megawatts and requires large amounts of physical space to house the infrastructure and power and cool the components.

C3 hopes to use recent breakthroughs in supercomputing technologies — “new families of superconducting logic without static power dissipation and new ideas for energy efficient cryogenic memory” — to construct a superconducting supercomputer with “a simplified cooling infrastructure and a greatly reduced footprint.”

A British spooky imprimatur, from BBC News:

GCHQ does not breach human rights, judges rule

The current system of UK intelligence collection does not currently breach the European Convention of Human Rights, a panel of judges has ruled.

A case claiming various systems of interception by GCHQ constituted a breach had been brought by Amnesty, Privacy International and others. It followed revelations by the former US intelligence analyst Edward Snowden about UK and US surveillance practices.

The judges said the case had been important in clarifying GCHQ’s policy.

Some of the organisations who brought the case, including Amnesty UK and Privacy International, say they intend to appeal the decision to the European Court of Human Rights.

Others raise a more fundamental point, via the Independent:

UK democracy undermined by police power to snoop, say MPs

Secretive snooping powers that have been used by police to blow the cover of whistleblowers are “not fit for purpose”, MPs warn today amid serious concerns about the use of surveillance in the UK.

British democracy is being undermined by the abuse of terror laws which saw the police sign off more than 500,000 requests last year to retrieve communications data, says the influential Home Affairs committee.

The current powers, which have also been exploited by councils to spy on ordinary citizens, must be overhauled urgently, the MPs argue in a report published just hours after judges ruled that GCHQ’s current system of intelligence collection is lawful.

After the jump, on to a Sony hack elevated by threatening emails to employees and a look at Pyongyang’s elite military hacker brigade, a warning of widespread vulnerabilities, another chain store credit card system hacked, preinstalled malware in consumer cell phones, France orders a Pirate Bay ISP blockade, on to the Mesopotamia war and optimism dashed, European homecoming fears, and Iranian confirmation of anti-IS airstrikes in Iraq, then on to Hong Kong and a final anti-Occupy sweep approaches, and China announces a military technology push while announcing a media drive for the approaching national day of remembrance of the Rape of Nanjing. . . Continue reading