Plus the latest on the ongoing uproar over those missing Mexican college students, Hong Kong, and hacks.
First, from USA TODAY, a chronic constitutional condition:
The United States is in a perpetual state of national emergency.
Thirty separate emergencies, in fact.
An emergency declared by President Jimmy Carter on the 10th day of the Iranian hostage crisis in 1979 remains in effect almost 35 years later.
A post-9/11 state of national emergency declared by President George W. Bush — and renewed six times by President Obama — forms the legal basis for much of the war on terror.
Tuesday, President Obama informed Congress he was extending another Bush-era emergency for another year, saying “widespread violence and atrocities” in the Democratic Republic of Congo “pose an unusual and extraordinary threat to the foreign policy of the United States.”
Those emergencies, declared by the president by proclamation or executive order, give the president extraordinary powers — to seize property, call up the National Guard and hire and fire military officers at will.
From the Associated Press, terror in the north:
Gunman in Canada attack complained about mosque
The gunman who shot and killed a soldier in plain daylight then stormed Canada’s Parliament once complained that Vancouver mosque he attended was too liberal and inclusive, Muslim leaders said Friday.
Assam Rashid, spokesman for the British Columbia Muslim Association, said Michael Zehaf-Bibeau, 32, visited the Masjid Al-Salaam mosque for several months in 2011 before he was told not to come back.
Rashid said the association has been working on a preventive program that focuses on minimizing the effect of terrorist and criminal propaganda in Canada.
And the inevitable demand for the same things that happen south of the border from CBC News:
Ottawa shooting: Harper government wants to make terror arrests easier
- ‘Accelerated review of police abilities’ underway, Public Safety Minister Steven Blaney says
Public Safety Minister Steven Blaney is giving more indications of how the government intends to strengthen Canada’s security laws in the wake of Wednesday’s attack in Ottawa on Parliament Hill.
The minister told Radio-Canada on Friday that the government is eyeing the thresholds established in Canadian law for the preventive arrests of people thought to be contemplating attacks that may be linked to terrorism. Officials are considering how to make it easier to press charges against so-called lone-wolf attackers.
“The challenges are the thresholds — the thresholds that will allow either preventive arrest, or charges that lead to sentences, or more simple operations,” Blaney said in French. “So what the prime minister has asked is for us to review in an accelerated manner the different mechanisms that are offered to police to ensure everyone’s security.”
While Al Jazeera America focuses on the cause:
Foreign policy shift puts Canada in extremists’ crosshairs
- Unprecedented stance on Middle East affairs is putting Canada ‘on the map’ for armed attacks
A drastic shift in Canada’s Middle East policy has put the country “on the map” of international armed groups like the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), said one analyst, after two lethal attacks in the span of a week — one of which is said to have been inspired by the group.
“Canada seems to have gone far right” under the administration of Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, said Roksana Bahramitash, director of research for the Canada research chair in Islam, pluralism and globalization at the University of Montreal.
His administration’s dramatic stance on Middle Eastern affairs, what analysts call an unprecedented departure from that of previous governments, which focused their diplomacy on aid and peacekeeping missions, “puts Canada in a position it has never been in before,” she said.
And from Reuters, what as surprise. . .:
U.S. weighs passport, border changes in wake of Ottawa attack
U.S. officials are debating whether to tighten controls on the border with Canada and make it easier to revoke the passports of suspected militants, steps that could gain traction following two attacks in Canada this week.
The officials cautioned on Thursday that the discussions are in preliminary stages and that no immediate action appeared likely by either U.S. President Barack Obama’s administration or Congress.
While there was no specific evidence of a new threat in the United States, federal and state authorities were on a heightened state of alert following a gunman’s attack in Ottawa on Wednesday and another by an assailant in Quebec on Monday.
An interesting development from the Washington Post:
Russian fighter suspected of terrorism and held in Afghanistan to be prosecuted in U.S.
A Russian captured fighting with insurgents in Afghanistan and held for years at a detention facility near Bagram air base will be flown to the United States to be prosecuted in federal court, according to U.S. officials.
The move marks the first time a foreign combatant captured on the battlefield in Afghanistan and held at Bagram will be transferred to the United States for trial, a decision the Obama administration has weighed for months. With combat operations winding down, the administration’s authority to continue to hold the man was in question, and U.S. officials said Russia had little interest in getting him back.
The detainee, known by the nom de guerre Irek Hamidullan, is suspected of leading several insurgent attacks in 2009 in which U.S. troops were wounded or killed. He was captured that year after being wounded in a firefight.
Disputing Kerry via Xinhua:
Russia, U.S. reach no agreement on sharing intelligence against IS: Russian FM
Russia has reached no agreement with the United States over sharing intelligence against the extremist Islamic State (IS) group or sending military instructors to Iraq, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Saturday.
“There was no agreement that we would share information in the context of the activities of the so-called coalition set up by the Americans to combat the Islamic State, nor was there an agreement that we would send our instructors to train the Iraqi army,” Lavrov told a local TV channel.
Lavrov made the clarification in response to U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry’s remarks after their meeting in Paris on Oct. 14 that the two had agreed “to intensify intelligence cooperation with respect to ISIL (Islamic State) and other counter-terrorism challenges.”
BuzzFeed claims a scalp:
Exclusive: Shakeup At NSA After BuzzFeed News Reports On Potential Conflict Of Interest
Top National Security Agency official Teresa Shea is leaving her position after BuzzFeed News reported on her and her husband’s financial interests. The move comes as the NSA faces more questions about the business dealings of its former director Keith Alexander, and potential ethics conflicts. This post has been updated to include a response from the NSA.
One of the nation’s top spies is leaving her position at the National Security Agency (NSA), a spokesman confirmed Friday, amid growing disclosures of possible conflicts of interest at the secretive agency.
The shakeup comes just a month after BuzzFeed News began reporting on the financial interests of the official, Teresa Shea, and her husband.
Shea was the director of signals intelligence, or SIGINT, which involves intercepting and decoding electronic communications via phones, email, chat, Skype, and radio. It’s widely considered the most important mission of the NSA, and includes some of the most controversial programs disclosed by former contractor Edward Snowden, including the mass domestic surveillance program.
The NSA provided a statement Friday that said Teresa Shea’s “transition” from the SIGINT director job was routine and “planned well before recent news articles.” The agency indicated she would remain employed, but did not provide specifics.
From the Washington Post, their lips are Sealed:
In a federal trial examining a classified military deal, don’t mention the Navy SEALs
Witnesses, attorneys and even the judge took special care not to let the phrase “Navy SEALs” pass their lips during a federal criminal trial in Alexandria this week, further cloaking an already mysterious case involving the purchase of hundreds of unmarked rifle silencers for the military.
Instead, people involved in the trial referred obliquely to “the program,” “operators” and “other entities in the government” when discussing who might have wanted to use the silencers, which were acquired through a classified Navy contract.
On Wednesday, a key defense witness was interrupted almost immediately after he introduced himself as the weapons accessory manager for the Naval Special Warfare Command — which oversees the Navy’s commando units, including the furtive SEALs.
“Has it been explained to you that certain terms are not to be used?” U.S. District Court Judge Leonie M. Brinkema cautioned. The witness, Rodney F. Lowell, replied that he had been advised of the restrictions, but noted that the name of the Navy command itself was hardly a secret.
RT covers a Polish black prison appeal:
CIA secret prison ruling sees Poland appeal to European Human Rights Court
Poland has lodged an appeal with the European Court of Human Rights against a condemning ruling on the country’s so-called ‘black sites’. The court found Warsaw had violated two terror suspects’ rights as it let the CIA interrogate them on its territory.
The appeal to review the case was lodged by Poland’s Foreign Ministry, which announced the move on Friday. Details of the appeal are withheld, but it is said to have been prepared on procedural grounds, according to Reuters.
In July, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) ruled that Poland violated an international treaty to protect human rights in 2002-2003 as it stroke a deal with the CIA. The rights the Polish authorities were cited to have abused include cover-up of torture, the right to liberty and the right to an effective remedy for victims of crime.
From the Guardian, sea hunt cancelled:
Sweden calls off hunt for submarine
- Reports of foreign underwater activity in the Stockholm archipelago triggered week-long search
Sweden’s navy has cancelled its week-long operation in the archipelago off Stockholm after finding no trace of the Russian submarine widely anticipated by military specialists and the media.
“Our assessment is that in the inner archipelago there was a plausible foreign underwater operation,” Rear Adm Anders Grenstad said. “But we believe that what has violated Swedish waters has left.”
Whatever was there could not have been a conventional submarine, Grenstad said, but a “craft of a lesser type”. It was not possible to state how big it was or to what country it belonged, he added. “The operation is substantially complete. The vessels and amphibious units have gone to port and resumed normal preparedness,” he said.
The Guardian covers a Whisper-ing campaign:
Top senator demands explanation from Whisper after user tracking revelations
- Senator Jay Rockefeller emphasises concern over location tracking and says Guardian revelations raise ‘serious questions’
The chair of the Senate commerce committee has said revelations about how the “anonymous” social media app Whisper is tracking its users raise “serious questions” over privacy and demanded an explanation from the company.
Senator Jay Rockefeller wrote to the chief executive of Whisper to ask for a detailed, in-person briefing for his committee staff. He emphasised his concern over the location tracking of supposedly anonymous users of the app and demanded documents from Whisper.
Rockefeller’s intervention comes a week after the Guardian revealed how Whisper is tracking the location of its users, including some who have specifically asked not to be followed by opting out of geolocation services. Privacy experts have already called for the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to examine the app’s business practices.
From the Guardian again, keeping them in suspense:
Whisper CEO suspends staff pending inquiry into ‘anonymity’ revelations
- Editor-in-chief reported to be placed on leave
- Heyward: Guardian reporting ‘just plain wrong
The chief executive of the “anonymous” social media app Whisper has placed at least two employees on administrative leave, pending an internal investigation by the company.
Earlier this month, the Guardian revealed that Whisper, which promises users anonymity and claims to be “the safest place on the internet”, was tracking the location of its users, including some who had specifically asked not to be followed.
Michael Heyward made the announcement the day after it emerged that a powerful Senate committee chairman had written to the company, raising “serious questions” about its use of data.
SecurityWeek covers a doubly ominous development:
Malvertising Campaign Infected Visitors to Yahoo, Other Sites With Ransomware
Researchers at Proofpoint have uncovered a malvertising campaign that hit a number of high-profile sites, including Yahoo, Match.com and AOL domains.
According to Proofpoint, the scheme generated an estimated $25,000 a day for the attackers.
“Without having to click on anything, visitors to the impacted websites may be stealthily infected with the CryptoWall 2.0 ransomware,” blogged Wayne Huang, vice president of engineering at Proofpoint. “Using Adobe Flash, the malvertisements silently “pull in” malicious exploits from the FlashPack Exploit Kit.”
“The exploits attack a vulnerability in the end-users’ browser and install CryptoWall 2.0 on end-users’ computers,” he continued. “Similar to the behavior of other “ransomware,” CryptoWall then encrypts the end-users’ hard drive and will not allow access until the victim pays a fee over the Internet for the decryption key.”
And the Independent covers woes for a Murdoch minion:
Phone-hacking: The Piers Morgan connection – Mirror admits some stories during Morgan’s tenure may have been obtained by illegal means
The publisher of the Daily Mirror has admitted for the first time that articles likely to have been the product of illegal phone hacking appeared in editions of the newspaper during the period when Piers Morgan was its editor.
In new defence documents produced by Mirror Group Newspapers (MGN), the company accepts that several stories which appeared in the Daily Mirror between 2002 and 2004 were likely to have involved “unlawful interceptions of voicemails” and the blagging of call data.
The publisher is currently fighting dozens of civil claims which allege a “widespread and habitual” use of hacking inside its three national titles.
From the Contra Costa Times, another selfie scandal:
Warrant: CHP officer says stealing nude photos from female arrestees ‘game’ happened in L.A., Dublin offices
The California Highway Patrol officer accused of stealing nude photos from a DUI suspect’s phone while she was in custody told investigators such image-stealing has been going on for years in the state law enforcement agency, stretching from its Los Angeles office to his own Dublin station, according to court documents obtained by this newspaper Friday.
CHP officer Sean Harrington, 35, of Martinez confessed to stealing explicit photos from a second Contra Costa County DUI suspect without her permission in August and forwarding images to at least two other CHP officers. The five-year CHP veteran called it a “game” among officers, according to an Oct. 14 search warrant affidavit. Harrington told investigators he had done the same thing to female arrestees a “half dozen times in the last several years,” according to the court records, which included graphic text messages between Harrington and his Dublin CHP colleague Officer Robert Hazelwood.
“It appears as though other women have fallen victim to this ongoing ‘game’ while in the custody of law enforcement,” said Rick Madsen, a Danville attorney representing a 23-year-old San Ramon who was the first to report that Harrington stole her photos while she was in custody at County Jail in Martinez on Aug. 29. “The callousness and depravity with which these officers
From the Guardian, yet another broadside:
Ferguson protests: Amnesty report criticises police excesses
- Rights group raises concerns about heavy-duty equipment, ammunition, curfew and children affected by teargas
An excessive police response to protests in Ferguson, Missouri, over the death of an unarmed 18-year-old earlier this year ran the risk of killing demonstrators and impinged on their human rights, according to a new report by Amnesty International.
The report, by Amnesty observers deployed to monitor the protests, found that the militarised reaction to a small minority of violent demonstrators “impacted the rights of all participating” to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly under the US constitution and state law.
Heavily armed police clashed with demonstrators in Ferguson on successive nights in August after Michael Brown was shot dead by officer Darren Wilson. Teargas, stun grenades and rubber and wooden bullets were shot at crowds to force them to leave the streets.
Noting that the so-called “less-lethal” ammunition that was shot at crowds in Ferguson “can result in serious injury and even death”, Amnesty’s 23-page report said on Friday that “at least two children were treated for exposure to teargas” during the protests.
After the jump, more graves found in hunt for missing Mexican students, the chief suspects, a governor recuses himself but fails to alleviate, a Mexican editor is murdered, life sentences for Argentine junta murderers, ISIS splits the Afghan Taliban, Comfort Women cloud Seoul/Tokyo relations, North Korean nukes go ballistic, on to Hong Kong and an ominous observation as protest leaders submit to their own vote, a backlash protest targets journalists, and a pronouncement from Beijing, and an unanticipated national security issue in France. . . Continue reading