And so very, very much more. . .
We begin with action on the domestic front from Reuters:
Marchers in Washington, New York, Boston protest police killings
Thousands marched in Washington, New York and Boston on Saturday to protest killings of unarmed black men by police officers.
Organizers said the marches were among the largest in the recent wave of protests against the killings of black males by officers in Ferguson, Missouri; New York; Cleveland; and elsewhere. The protests were peaceful, although police in Boston said they arrested 23 people who tried to block a highway.
Decisions by grand juries to return no indictments against the officers involved in the deaths of Michael Brown in Missouri and Eric Garner in New York have put police treatment of minorities back on the national agenda.
“We’re going to keep the light on Mike Brown … on all of the victims. The only way you make roaches run is to keep the light on,” said civil rights leader the Rev. Al Sharpton, whose National Action Network organized the Washington rally.
The McClatchy Washington Bureau covers umbrage taken:
Police officers across U.S. upset at being seen as brutal racists
Police officers dispatched to investigate a 911 hang-up last week in an Idaho suburb were surprised by the reaction they got from the mother of the children who’d been playing with the phone.
“She said, ‘I’ve told my kids not to talk to you because you’re the people who kill us,’ “ recalled Tracy Basterrechea, deputy police chief in Meridian, Idaho, near Boise. The mother was Hispanic and her children African-American, he said.
Police in Meridian and other cities across the country are facing an angry backlash from the public after a series of police killings of unarmed African-Americans.
From United Press International, via the Department of Implausible Excuses:
Police officer disciplined for playing ‘Sweet Home Alabama’ at protest
The man who recorded “Sweet Home Alabama” coming from a Chicago police car at a protest said he knows some groups use it as “an anthem of Southern pride and those Confederate-type values.”
A Chicago police officer said he played “Sweet Home Alabama” at a weekend protest because he is a University of Alabama fan, the department said.
In a statement released Thursday, police officials said the officer faces disciplinary action. The Chicago Tribune said it was told by a source he will be suspended for 10 days if Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy approves the penalty.
Gabriel Michael, a Chicago resident who was at Sunday’s “Black lives matter” march, which protested the killing of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., and Eric Garner in New York, heard the Lynyrd Skynyrd song coming from what appeared to be an unmarked police car. Michael said the car was in the midst of a group of police cars following the march.
Michael videotaped the car.
“Some of the lyrics in themselves aren’t racist … but I know it’s also been co-opted by groups, maybe bigoted groups, as an anthem of Southern pride and those Confederate-type values,” Michael told the Tribune. “That’s what was so jarring to me. To hear that playing from a police car at the end of a protest against police brutality and the murder of African-Americans, it was just jarring.”
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution covers police injustice compensated:
Cobb County to pay $100K to woman arrested for ‘F-bombing’ cops
Cobb County is paying $100,000 to a woman who police arrested for shouting profanity to protest their actions.
Amy Elizabeth Barnes, a well-known political activist, sued in federal court saying the county violated her First Amendment rights and maliciously prosecuted her when it jailed her on charges of disorderly conduct and the use of abuse words to “incite an immediate breach of the peace.”
She had been shouting “Cobb police suck” and “(Expletive) the police” and raising her middle finger while riding her bicycle past two officers questioning an African-American man outside a convenience store on Easter Sunday 2012.
“Ms. Barnes’ comments to the police may have been offensive, but no one in the United States of America should be chased down and arrested for their free speech,” said lawyer Cynthia Counts, who represented Barnes in her civil and criminal litigation. “The officers argued that it was a bad neighborhood and you shouldn’t disrespect the police because it could create issues,” she added.
The Guardian again, with the cost of another case of overzealous policing:
New York woman wins $1.12m after arrest for snapping military base for website
- Deputy sheriff allegedly said he wanted to make an example of ‘right-wingers’
- Jailed for four days and misdemeanor trespass charge was dismissed
A New York woman who claimed she was falsely arrested outside an Air National Guard base for taking photographs for a “Support Our Troops” website has been awarded $1.12m in compensatory damages, her attorney said on Friday.
“What they took from this woman cannot be measured in money,” said prominent Long Island civil rights attorney Frederick Brewington. “There is no reason to treat another human the way they treated her.”
He said Suffolk County sheriff’s deputies humiliated Nancy Genovese after arresting her in July 2009 while she took photographs of a decorative helicopter on display outside the Gabreski Airport Air National Guard base in Westhampton Beach on eastern Long Island. A deputy sheriff allegedly said he would arrest her for terrorism to make an example of other “right-wingers”, according to Brewington.
From the the Los Angeles Times, oy vey:
San Diego council aide suspended for comments about protesters
A San Diego City Council member has suspended a staffer without pay for two weeks for referring to police-conduct protesters as idiots and suggesting – in jest – that she wanted to shoot them.
The comments were made after a council meeting Wednesday in which two dozen protesters indicated opposition to the decisions by grand juries in Ferguson, Mo., and New York not to indict white police officers in the deaths of two unarmed black men.
Children in the group wore black sweat shirts with the phrase: “Don’t Shoot.”
In the moments after the meeting, Shirley Owen, staff member to Councilwoman Lorie Zapf, reportedly told a friend that the protesters were “ … idiots” and “I wanted to shoot them.”
The McClatchy Washington Bureau poses a question:
Will police protests fade like tea party and Occupy?
Protesters may find they’ll have to channel their energy into community organizing or other non-traditional means rather than rely on the political process.
“People today see politicians as spinally challenged,” said South Carolina state Rep. Gilda Cobb-Hunter, chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee’s Southern Caucus. “They know we ought not to see getting elected to office as the only way to change the system.”
That’s a big change from days past, making the legacy of today’s protests uncertain.
This much, though, is clear, said Shackelford: “These protests are making people think about change again.”
And from the Sacramento Bee, a look at a step in the right direction, not a panacea:
Stockton Police Department demonstrates body camera
The Mobile Field Force Operation of the Stockton Police Department has equipped its officers with body cams for over a year now. Only two of the more than a dozen law enforcement agencies in the greater Sacramento area equip police with body cameras meant to record officers’ interactions with civilians. Andrew Seng/Aseng@sacbee.com
Drone scare from the London Telegraph:
Drones ‘could be used as flying bombs for terror attack on passenger jet’
- Terrorists could “with impunity” fly multiple drones to take out passenger aircraft, a leading expert warns, following report into ‘near-miss’ at Heathrow Airport
Drones could be used as flying bombs by terrorists to take down a passenger aircraft, according to a leading expert, who called for improved security measures to deal with the “gaping hole” in the national defences.
Prof David H Dunn, of the University of Birmingham, said that jihadis could “with impunity” fly multiple remote-controlled unmanned aircraft into the engines of a jumbo jet, causing it crash.
Prof Dunn was speaking after it emerged that a drone flew within 20ft of an Airbus A320 as it landed at Heathrow Airport in July.
While SciDev.Net covers a drone boon:
View on Migration: Drone searches aid refugee rescues
- Italy has cut its migrant search and rescue missions in the Mediterranean
- A charity has been using drones to spot migrants in trouble and alert help
- But even the Migrant Offshore Aid Station must fundraise to continue work
While Italy has scaled back its operations, a new NGO based in Malta has been assisting migrants with the help of cutting-edge technology: Schiebel camcopter drones. “We are using equipment for humanitarian reasons that — up to now — has been used almost exclusively by the military,” says Martin Xuereb, the NGO’s director.
The NGO, called the Migrant Offshore Aid Station (MOAS), was launched last April by Christopher and Regina Catrambone, two entrepreneurs based in Malta who committed US$2.64 million of their own funds to the project. Since then, MOAS has been using the military grade camcopters to locate migrants in trouble on the sea, and then either alert the relevant authorities or dispatch its own rescue boats. So far 3,000 people — mainly Syrian and Eritrean asylum seekers — have received help from MOAS.
“We feel this is a global problem that should be addressed globally, and not only by nation-states or international organisations; we have a moral responsibility to ensure that nobody dies at sea,” Xuereb tells me.
A Scandinavian terror scare from TheLocal.dk:
Terror threat in Denmark has increased: PET
A new report from the Danish Security and Intelligence Service (PET) says that the number of Danes fighting in Syria and Iraq has increased, as has the risk of a terror attack.
Using a small but significant change in language, domestic intelligence agency PET has warned of a greater risk of a terror attack in Denmark.
The latest threat level assessment from PET’s Center for Terror Analysis (CTA) states that “the terror threat against Denmark is serious, but the risk of being the victim of a terror attack in Denmark is limited”.
In CTA’s previous threat level assessment, the agency called the risk of a terror attack “very limited”.
Off to the war with BBC News:
‘Hundreds’ more UK troops to be sent to Iraq – Michael Fallon
Hundreds of British troops will be sent to Iraq in the New Year, Defence Secretary Michael Fallon has said.
The deployment – to help train local forces – will be in the “very low hundreds” but could also include a small protection force of combat-ready soldiers, he said. About 50 UK troops are already training Iraqi and Kurdish forces fighting Islamic State militants in Iraq.
The Ministry of Defence said the move had not yet been formally approved. An MoD spokesman said: “No decision on troop numbers, units or locations have yet been made”.
Weaponizing water with Homeland Security News Wire:
ISIS uses control of water as a tool of war
Global security analysts have warned for some time now that water scarcity due to climate change will be used as a tool of war in regions with poor government.
The on-going wars in Iraq and Syria provide the first examples of the strategic and tactical use of water as a tool of war, as militant groups operating in both countries have been using water against residents of areas they control. “ISIS has established a blueprint that can be used by other entities to take advantage of drought and water scarcity,” writes on researcher.
“For all the conversation about ISIS taking control of oil refineries, one could argue that their control of water is even more significant, as it deprives the population of a resource necessary for daily sustenance and gives the militant group significant leverage over local governments and populations.”
From the McClatchy Washington Bureau, treating us like mushrooms [kept in the dark and fed with bullshit]:
U.S. providing little information to judge progress against Islamic State
The American war against the Islamic State has become the most opaque conflict the United States has undertaken in more than two decades, a fight that’s so underreported that U.S. officials and their critics can make claims about progress, or lack thereof, with no definitive data available to refute or bolster their positions.
The result is that it’s unclear what impact more than 1,000 airstrikes on Iraq and Syria have had during the past four months. That confusion was on display at a House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing earlier this week, where the topic – “Countering ISIS: Are We Making Progress?” – proved to be a question without an answer.
“Although the administration notes that 60-plus countries having joined the anti-ISIS campaign, some key partners continue to perceive the administration’s strategy as misguided,” Rep. Ed Royce, R-Calif., the committee’s chairman, said in his opening statement at the hearing, using a common acronym for the Islamic State. “Meanwhile, there are grave security consequences to allowing ISIS to control a territory of the size of western Iraq and eastern Syria.”
Messaging the media with the New York Times:
Online Trail Leads to Arrest of Indian as Man Behind Posts Backing Extremists
Police in Bangalore, India, arrested on Saturday the man accused of being behind @ShamiWitness, the Twitter handle of a fervent and widely followed English-language supporter of the Islamic State extremist group.
The authorities had been on the hunt for the man, Mehdi Masroor Biswas, since Channel 4 news in Britain broke the improbable story of a clean-shaven Indian executive who it said lived a double life: spending his hours off from his food company far from any Middle Eastern battlefield cheering on the Islamic States’ advances and trying to rally Muslims from around the world to its jihadi cause.
The police said Mr. Biswas, 24, would be charged with multiple offenses, including waging war against Asiatic states.
And on to torture, first with enablers in white coats from the Washington Post:
CIA report describes medical personnel’s intimate role in harsh interrogations
As the tempo of harsh CIA interrogation of terrorism suspects increased in early 2003, an agency medical officer observed to a colleague that their role of providing an “institutional conscience and the limiting factor” for the program had clearly changed.
Medical personnel, the officer wrote in an e-mail, were becoming “the ones who are dedicated to maximizing the benefit in a safe manner and keeping everyone’s butt out of trouble.”
As described in the Senate Intelligence Committee report released this week, CIA medical doctors, as well as psychologists, were intimately involved in virtually every interrogation session to a far greater extent than was previously known.
Oops! Where failures of intelligence andmorality meet, via the New York Times:
Amid Details on Torture, Data on 26 Who Were Held in Error
The Senate Democratic staff members who wrote the 6,000-page report counted 119 prisoners who had been in C.I.A. custody. Of those, the report found that 26 were either described in the agency’s own documents as mistakenly detained, or released and given money, evidence of the same thing.
The C.I.A. told the Senate in its formal response that the real number of wrongful detentions was “far fewer” than 26 but did not offer a number. Human rights advocates who have tracked the C.I.A. program believe that considerably more than 26 were wrongfully detained. Another Yemeni client of Ms. Satterthwaite, for instance, Mohammed al-Asad, was left out of the Senate’s count, even though he languished for months in C.I.A. prisons without being questioned, was sent home to Yemen and was never charged with a terrorism-related crime.
“The U.S. caused a great deal of suffering to people who posed no threat,” said Anne FitzGerald, director of research and crisis response at Amnesty International, who visited Yemen eight times to talk to Mr. Bashmilah, Mr. Asad and others who appeared to be former C.I.A. detainees. “International standards are there for a reason — they protect everyone.”
From the Hill, a damaging admission:
Bush attorney general says CIA overstepped legal guidance
Bush administration Attorney General Alberto Gonzales said Friday that it appeared that the Central Intelligence Agency had overstepped Justice Department guidance offered by the agency on the use of harsh interrogation techniques.
“You know, we provided a guidance, and, you know, it was up to the CIA to comply with that guidance. As I started hearing about some of the items in the report, I became a little — I became troubled, because some of those things, some of what was being referenced appear beyond the guidance,” Gonzales said on NewsMaxTV’s “Steve Malzberg Show.
Gonzales was White House counsel when the Justice Department issued its memos on the CIA’s ability to use torture. He later became Attorney General.
He also said that the drone program — which President Obama has supported — was likely as damaging to America’s reputation abroad as waterboarding.
VICE News notes context:
CIA Torture Was No ‘Rash’ Mistake
This week, the Senate Intelligence Committee confirmed this with the release of its 500-page executive summary of its $40 million report on the CIA’s “enhanced interrogation” program: broken bones stood on, forced rectal feeding, near drowning. On it went, because no one wanted to be “that guy” who said “enough.” Anyone who did was crushed.
In the polemic and fictional world of Zero Dark Thirty — and in the minds of real-life politicians — this barbarism effectively served a dangerous political requirement to find the monster in the cave: Torturing bad guys would lead us to bin Laden. Of course, as the report found, torture did not actually lead us to that prize — but let’s imagine that by some unhappy accident, it did. Would we then rest easy with the fact that American agents systematically, and with ample funding and support, became torturers? Would it have been worthwhile to waterboard, and freeze, and beat, and so much more? All for an infamous corpse in Abbottabad, tossed out the chambers of the sea.
The answer is no. We play a dangerous game in decrying torture because it is ineffective and not because it is torture. We also, in focusing on the failure of CIA torture in getting results, give an easy pass to the recent historical context that birthed the interrogation program. The widespread use of torture was a vile consequence; the problem was a paranoid national security ideology that would, did, and does justify any violation of rights and liberties under the pretext of fighting terror. To hold itself accountable in any honest way, which it will not, the US must admit that it was wrong because it perpetrated crimes. But beyond that, the country must face the fact that after 9/11, it would have done anything — torture, and much more.
The Guardian covers Old Blighty blowback:
Britain convulsed by its dirty secret in wake of CIA torture report
- Senate report on rendition contrasts with recalcitrant UK, whose judge-led inquiry was shut down by Cameron
In September 2005, on the day the Guardian published its first edition in the new Berliner format, the newspaper informed its readers that a fleet of CIA aircraft had been using the UK’s airports during the agency’s so-called extraordinary rendition operations.
Aircraft from the 26-strong fleet had flown into and out of the UK at least 210 times since 9/11, the newspaper reported, “an average of one flight a week”, refuelling at RAF bases and civilian airports that included Northolt, Heathrow, Birmingham, Bournemouth, Belfast and – the agency’s favourite destination – Prestwick.
“It is not a matter for the MoD,” one Ministry of Defence official told the newspaper. “The aircraft use our airfields. We don’t ask any questions.”
Since then, a handful of British parliamentarians, judges, human rights activists and journalists have dragged into the public domain one piece of damning evidence after another to construct an incomplete but nonetheless disturbing picture of the UK’s involvement in the global kidnap and torture programme that was launched immediately after 9/11.
Reuters covers the Polish case:
After U.S. torture report, Poland asks what its leaders knew
The disclosure of details about the CIA’s brutal interrogation program could provide new leads for Polish prosecutors investigating how much Poland’s leaders at the time knew about a secret jail the agency was running in a Polish forest.
Prompted by a U.S. Senate report on the CIA’s “black sites” for interrogating al Qaeda suspects, former Polish President Aleksander Kwasniewski, at a joint news conference with former Prime Minister Leszek Miller, said on Wednesday he knew about the facility in Poland.
He said the CIA had denied Polish officials access to the site, a villa on the grounds of a Polish intelligence training academy, so they did not know people inside were being tortured. He said that while he and Miller knew people were detained there, they were told the detainees were cooperating willingly with U.S. intelligence and would be treated as prisoners of war.
Lawyers for former detainees say however that even if the detainees were treated as prisoners of war – which the lawyers dispute – it is illegal to detain anyone in secret, and Poland had a legal obligation to prevent this happening.
And from MercoPress, trained by the masters:
US/UK trained Brazil military in torture techniques; British were particularly sophisticated
Officials from the United States and the United Kingdom spent years teaching members of the Brazilian military how to develop and improve their torture techniques during the country’s two-decade long dictatorship (1964/1985), it was confirmed this week by the National Truth Commission, CNV, report.
According to that document the Brazilian Armed Forces’ “systematic use of torture,” which concluded that more than 400 individuals, considered to have been “subversives”, were killed or disappeared by the state, received international training to that purpose.
In effect as part of Washington’s support for anti-Communist governments in Latin America, United States trained more than 300 military officers from Brazil at the notorious ‘School of the Americas’, based in Georgia, the report says. The officers received “theoretical and practical lessons on torture,” it adds, with the intention that they could “replicate” their ideas in Brazil.
The CNV reports also reveals that the UK government shared the anti-communist crusade, and also contributed knowledge on torture techniques in training sessions with Brazilians.
Yet another intel failure, via CNN:
2003 CIA cable casts doubt on claim linking Iraq to 9/11
A recently released CIA cable casts heavy doubt on a key claim used by the Bush administration to justify the 2003 U.S.-led invasion of Iraq.
It discounts intelligence that said Mohammed Atta, one of the 9/11 ringleaders, met with an Iraqi official in the Czech Republic a few months before the attacks.
The Bush administration — which maintained that Atta had met with Iraqi agent Ahmad al-Anian in Prague in April 2001 — had used the report to link the September 11 attacks to Iraq.
CIA Director John Brennan included a portion of the cable in a letter to Sen. Carl Levin, D-Michigan. Levin, the retiring chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, made the letter public on Thursday.
The cable reads that “there is not one USG (counterterrorism) or FBI expert that…has said they have evidence or ‘know’ that (Atta) was indeed (in Prague). In fact, the analysis has been quite the opposite.”
In a 2001 interview with NBC’s “Meet the Press,” then-Vice President Dick Cheney said, “It’s been pretty well confirmed that (Atta) did go to Prague, and he did meet with a senior official of the Iraqi intelligence service in (the Czech Republic) last April, several months before the attack.”
After the jump, new light coming on a mysterious death, Washington rescinds demands that reporters spill their sources, a European leak prosecution, Sweden ups defense spending in Cold War 2.0, another Russian close encounter in Swedish air space, Congress grants new powers to the NSA, a German court turns down a Snowden visit to Germany, Germany says no proof NSA tapped Merkel’s cell but Spiegel stands by their story, cell phone spy gear covers the capital, Google’s NSA response, the Army gets cyberwar serious while Homeland Security extends is cyberpowers, Canada claims a Chinese hack of its research agency, a claim that Iran hacked Sheldon Adelson casinos and claims Iran is busily hacking American firms and universities, a major hacking campaign targets Russia, a Murdoch editor cops to phone hacks, on to the Sony hack, first with an executive’s future clouded, how the Game of Zones forced a Seth Rogen reedit, a Bond script and studio anti-Google strategies leaked as well as sleazy Maureen Down promises, and Sony own DDOS attacks on computers hosting the leaks, protesting Spain’s draconian new anti-protest law, Google retreats from Russia, an Argentinian Dirty War mass grave revealed, mass protests shut down Karachi, Washington hopes for North Korean talks, Hong Kong Occupy final shutdown set for Monday while Beijing hints at stronger measures ahead, the ape of Nanjing commemorated, Obama pressure on Tokyo for talks with Seoul, challenged to Abe’s Japanese militarization turned back by court, A-bomb survivors question Manhattan Project National Park plans, and your camera shake can ID you like a fingerprint. . . Continue reading