Archive for January, 2016

Headwinds for Hillary—she’s toast-

January 26, 2016

Taharrush or group rape of European women by Muslim refugees shocks Continent

January 18, 2016

As the European Union works to accommodate millions of refugees fleeing the war-torn Middle East, many western countries are witnessing an increase in crimes against women. Complicating the refugee crisis in Europe are reports that hundreds of German women were raped during New Year’s Eve celebrations using an Arabic practice called “taharrush.” This war on women uses group rape as a weapon of subjugation against females and it’s been around for centuries.

Watch San Diego CW News report here.

German authorities said the phenomenon is responsible for a rash of sexual attacks in many major cities.

The taharrush ritual is carried out in public and almost always at large public gatherings where attackers can find safety in numbers and chaos. Even though numerous women have come forward and reported the sexual assaults, authorities say the crimes usually go unpunished because there are multiple perpetrators and the victims are unable to personally identify them.

So far, the German police have arrested 19 men for the alleged rape — all were foreigners, according to a report by Mr. Jäger, a German interior minister.

Meanwhile, weekend raids in Düsseldorf rounded up dozens more foreign criminals. Frank Kubicki, a police officer in charge said, “We expect to get insight that could bring investigations [in Cologne] forward.”

Responding to the public outrage, the Cologne Mayor Henriette Reker suggested: “There’s always the possibility of keeping a certain distance of more than an arm’s length—that is to say to make sure you don’t look to be too close to people who are not known to you.”

That response prompted massive demonstrations in Cologne Germany to end the violent crimes against women by foreign nationals.

The sound of acquiescence also came from Vienna Police Chief Gerhard Purstl, who said, “Women should in general not go out on the streets at night alone, they should avoid suspicious looking areas and also when in pubs and clubs should only accept drinks from people they know.”

This reporter first described the increasing rapes in Germany back in November on San Diego CW 6 News. German Air Force Colonel (ret) Paul Werner Schoendorf spoke about the growing crisis and the realities that come with accepting 1.5 million Middle Eastern refugees in such a short period of time. “This is a very difficult question. They have another cultural background. They don’t accept German law they think they have their own law, Sharia law,” he said. “Refugees are coming in and they need housing and I think this will be a source of social conflict in the future.”

One of the first known instances of ‘taharrush’ reported in Western media came from 60 Minute’s reporter Lara Logan. She was sent to cover the Arab Spring in 2011 when she was attacked and raped in Egypt’s Tahrir Square. She described the horrifying event on TV; “The camera battery went down and we had to stop for a moment and suddenly Baho (inaudible) looks at me and says we have to get out of here… I thought not only am I going to die here, but it’s going to be a torturous death that’s going to go on forever an ever and ever.”

Another UK female TV producer Natasha Smith explained she was attacked in a similar manner. “I have been forced to leave Cairo prematurely following a horrific sexual and physical attack in Tahrir Square.” She wrote about her experience and said she begged God to make it stop, even though she is not religious. “Please God. Please make it stop,” she wrote.

Angie Abdelmonem, of Arizona State University, recently published a report regarding taharrush during the Egyptian Arab Spring she wrote, “Between 2011 and 2013, sexual harassment became common at protests in Tahrir Square, exemplified by a number of highly publicized violent attacks that demonstrate how women’s bodies became objectified and dehumanized during the uprising.”

Another study found in a 2008 survey by the Egyptian Center for Women’s Rights,” Mona Eltahawy writes; “More than 80 percent of Egyptian women said they’d experienced sexual harassment, and more than 60 percent of men admitted to harassing women. A 2013 UN survey reported that 99.3 percent of Egyptian women experience street sexual harassment. Men grope and sexually assault us, and yet we are blamed for it because we were in the wrong place at the wrong time, wearing the wrong thing.”

This phenomenon now appears to be working its way through Germany and Europe. Police authorities acknowledged that they mishandled the New Year’s Eve celebration. However, the police as well as the victims, said they have never encountered anything like this gang rape before. As a result of the increased crime wave, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, has been forced to try and assimilate the refugees at a time when patience and tolerance is dwindling.

German authorities are scouring surveillance cameras from the police and state railway as well as nearby businesses and hotels hoping to identify the perpetrators. The police said they have 135 officers examining 350 hours of video.

The New Year’s Eve attacks have prompted some German cities to cancel Carnival celebrations on February 8th. Carnival revelers typically dress up in costumes throughout Germany and parade throughout the streets drinking alcohol. “However, the attacks in Cologne have left some German officials worried that migrant men with little knowledge of the annual tradition could misinterpret or take advantage of the raucous atmosphere to commit similar sexual assaults,” according to DW. “Germans were shocked when allegations emerged that about 1,000 men – many of them of migrant backgrounds – sexually molested women near the main train station in the western city of Cologne on New Year’s Eve. The episode has increased the pressure on Chancellor Angela Merkel, whose unpopular refugee policies have led to criticism from politicians on both sides of the spectrum.”

Unfortunately, the welcome signs that encouraged millions of displaced refugees to flee the Middle East wars and seek refuge in Germany and other EU nations are now giving way to mass protests against the refugee influx. German police admit there has been a steady increase in crimes like robbery and rape of women who do not dress modestly, according to Islamic standards.

A consequence of this violence against women has lead to the piecemeal, abandonment of the Schengen Agreement that prohibits imposing restrictions on movement within the European Union. This extreme remedy is being employed in an effort to stem the entry of immigrants and to limit escape by criminal elements within the EU.

The clash of cultures is no more readily evident then in taharrush where rape is a crime in Europe but in Islam it is just another form of punishment.

NSA, the black hole of government spying

January 11, 2016

It was revealed last week that Israeli diplomats were not the only targets of the Department of Defense’s data gathering operation on Capitol Hill. The NSA also intercepted sensitive calls by members of Congress in the data collection frenzy. Chairman of the House Oversight committee, Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) sent a one-page letter requesting any and all guidance documents regarding the data collection against members of Congress, and, specifically any discussions surrounding the sensitive Iranian nuclear deal. The inquiry also requested that NSA disclose with whom it has shared its data.

But was the NSA’s collection legal? Former House Intelligence Committee Chairman and now Fellow at the Investigative Project on Terrorism, Pete Hoekstra says Congress needs to act on this disturbing disclosure. “Clearly, they should have the intelligence committees do oversight hearings. They should demand an independent investigation through the IG – inspector general – of these different agencies. They need to find out exactly what happened. I think what happened is this information went from NSA, went to the White House, and the White House then used it to formulate and to push its political agenda on Capitol Hill with this inside information. It is absolutely outrageous and it’s probably the biggest scandal of this president’s administration.”

WATCH SAN DIEGO 6 NEWS TV SEGMENT HERE

So how exactly is the US government collecting all that information? The CIA uses its private venture capital firm, In-Q-Tel, a tax-exempt, 501(c)3 corporation to funnel investment in high-tech startups. One such investment, Palantir, is a privately held data collection firm estimated to be worth 20 billion dollars. Palantir’s primary focus is data mining and data analysis contracts with the private sector as well as the US government and foreign intelligence agencies.

Palantir’s work in Washington has expanded its products from eight pilots to more than 50 in a few short years. A scroll through Palantir’s website confirms it has contracts with multiple US Government agencies including, the CIA, DHS, NSA, FBI, CDC, the Marine Corps, the Air Force, Special Operations Command, West Point, Joint IED-defeat organization and Allies, the Recovery Accountability and Transparency Board and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children to name a few.

But the cozy government data collection relationships of CIA, NSA, and private sector firms, have multiple critics, namely former 30-year NSA veteran William Binney, who blew the whistle on the military’s mass data mining. He said, “If you have information on everybody on the planet that means you might have material to blackmail them or influence them, one way or the other, to make a decision that you want them to make.”

He further explained the dangers of massive data collection. “See that’s the reason why I have been coming out publicly, because where I see it going is a Totalitarian State. I mean you (have) got the NSA doing all the collection of materials on all its (US) citizens, that’s what the SS, the Gestapo, the Stasi, the KGB, and the MVD did. That’s the whole thing, I mean I was there and I watched the people, I worked there for 30 years.”

NSA’s charter reads, in part: “Information Assurance mission confronts the formidable challenge of preventing foreign adversaries from gaining access to sensitive or classified national security information. The Signals Intelligence mission collects, processes, and disseminates intelligence information from foreign signals for intelligence and counterintelligence purposes and to support military operations (emphasis added). This Agency also enables Network Warfare operations to defeat terrorists and their organizations at home and abroad, consistent with US laws and the protection of privacy and civil liberties.”

But are they operating successfully under their charter? Binney claims zero domestic attacks have been prevented. “We‘re doing better at collecting info so you can target individuals if you want to. We’re not doing very good at stopping terrorist attacks,” he told Reason TV.

In an effort to keep the media at bay, many government agencies will use “national security” as a means to block access to highly technical data collection processes. The danger of abuse is real. For example, if the executive branch were in fact collecting phone conversations from members of Congress via the NSA, that knowledge would provide an unfair advantage to the Oval office. Historically, the Intelligence Community (IC) would notify Congress if Congressional information were inadvertently captured, but it does not appear to be the case this time.

Timothy B. Lee of the Washington Post further explains, “In the hands of an unscrupulous future president, mass surveillance could be turned into a powerful weapon against democratic government. For example, having the calling records of every member of Congress would likely reveal which members kept mistresses, which could be used to blackmail members of Congress into supporting a future president’s agenda. Calling records could also provide valuable political intelligence, such as how frequently members of Congress were talking to various interest groups.”

In response to this reporter’s query regarding NSA domestic spying, General Mike Flynn, US Army (Ret) and former director of the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) believes “The greatest threat to our nation’s security is the loss of trust between our government and our citizens; (this is) why there is such a sense of frustration in the country. Rebuilding that trust is necessary for us to truly achieve what our founding fathers described as life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. We should fear no enemy, but we should ensure that our enemies respect us–today, they don’t.”

Perhaps the most neglected topic concerning the collection of metadata comes with the much talked about backdoors and firewalls in hardware and software. The ramifications on US national security would be devastating if foreign countries obtained backdoors and firewalls into US IC databases.

However, this issue is more than just hyperbole, Carl Cameron reported for Fox News back in 2001 that the US was, in fact, relying on foreign entities to provide secure underwater phone wiring lines, according to Taki Magazine. “Amdocs (an Israeli company with IC pedigree) has contracts with the 25 biggest phone companies in America and more worldwide. The White House and other secure government phone lines are protected, but it is virtually impossible to make a call on normal phones without generating an Amdocs record of it. But sources tell Fox News that in 1999, the (former) super-secret National Security Agency, headquartered in northern Maryland, issued what’s called a Top Secret/Sensitive Compartmentalized Information report, TS/SCI, warning that records of calls in the United States were getting into foreign hands – in Israel, in particular. Investigators don’t believe calls are being listened to, but the data about who is calling whom and when is plenty valuable in itself.”

CIA whistleblower Edward Snowden and Binney both shattered the IC circulated myth that only metadata was being collected by the NSA when in fact some calls had been recorded as far back as 2004, according to PBS.

Even a federal appeals court ruled, that the telephone bulk collection goes well beyond the parameters of controversial USA Patriot Act’s Section 215.

“The three-judge panel was asked to consider whether the program violated the Constitution. One of the big reasons it is hard to discern congressional intent in this case, the court wrote, is that the bulk collection program has been shrouded in secrecy. So it cannot ‘reasonably be said” that Congress OK’d ‘a program of which many members of Congress — and all members of the public — were not aware.’”

The court concluded that if Congress wanted to “authorize such a far‐reaching and unprecedented program, it has every opportunity to do so, and to do so unambiguously.”

Furthermore, focusing on the CIA, NSA and military partnerships, both the Bush and Obama administrations appear to have eviscerated the Posse Comitatus Act that constrains the federal government’s use of military assets in domestic law enforcement.

While there have not been any known reports of coercion or blackmail against members of Congress, the practice is not new. It has been widely reported that former FBI Director, Edgar J. Hoover’s FBI used confidential information to cement his power in Washington DC, even reportedly against John and Robert Kennedy when they sought to fire him.

Nevertheless, reports are that Speaker of the House, Paul Ryan, is considering an investigation into the spying, but Hoekstra suggests forming a select committee to investigate followed by the appointment of a Special Prosecutor if the evidence supports a review of the full legal consequences.

With the IC seemingly involved in data collection inside the US, members of Congress need to ensure we do not lose sight of Winston Churchill’s observation that “The Official Secrets Act was devised to protect the national defense … and ought not to be used to shield ministers who have a strong personal interest in concealing the truth.”

So far both In Q Tel and Palantir have declined comment on this story.

White House spying on Congress threatens Constitutional government

January 4, 2016

Nearly two years after President Obama promised to retool the way the National Security Agency (NSA) collects private conversations, the Wall Street Journal reports the NSA tapped Congressional phone lines and relayed the information to the White House. The administration claims it intended to use the NSA’s foreign surveillance capabilities to record Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s efforts to persuade Congress to block the Iran nuclear deal. This disclosure sheds light on the NSA’s intelligence gathering processes in the US and raises new questions about the severity of domestic spying.

In a January 2014 speech, President Obama vowed that the intelligence community, under his orders, would be reigned in. “I have approved a new presidential directive for our intelligence activities, both here and abroad. This guidance will strengthen executive branch oversight of our intelligence activities. It will take into account our security requirements, but also our alliances, trade and investment relationships, including concerns of American companies and our commitment to privacy and basic civil liberties.”

What President Obama’s administration neglected to tell members of Congress was their conversations were part of the collection process. This prompted a quick response from House Oversight Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz (R-UT), along with Ron DeSantis (R-FL), who both demanded the White House respond to allegations that the NSA intercepted Congressional communications, and further, allowed agency employees to screen private work-related conversations involving prominent members of Congress.

This new discovery prompts serious legal questions. Under the constitutional rule of law, there are three co-equal branches of government, the legislative, executive, and  judicial. The alleged spying by the White House on the deliberative process of the Congress is not only a violation of US laws, but threatens to give the White House an unequal position in negotiations with Congress on controversial issues.

In a letter to the President, Congressman Chaffetz proffered multiple queries including “questions concerning the processes NSA employees follow in determining whether intercepted communications involved members of Congress, and the latitude agency employees have in screening communications with members of Congress for further dissemination within the Executive Branch.”

The one-page letter also requested any and all guidance documents, including formal and informal policies used to determine whether a particular telephone conversation involved a member of Congress. The lawmakers also wanted to know with whom the NSA shares its information.

The latest NSA eavesdropping allegedly caught Israeli officials trying to persuade undecided Congressman to oppose the Iran deal and unknowingly gave White House advisors inside information to use on Congress to blunt an embarrassing loss for President Obama.

But did the White House really let the NSA decide what to share and what to withhold? Senior officials told the Wall Street Journal that “We didn’t say, do it, but we didn’t say, don’t do it,” either.

Another issue to consider is that the NSA is a military organization whose mission is to collect electronic metadata from foreign governments – not on the US government or American citizens. However in a highly technological society US Big Brother has the tools to monitor just about anyone. It remains to be seen if Congress will impose controls to preserve the independence of the three branches of government and ensure the will of the people is applied inside the beltway.

In the past, intelligence protocols required disseminators of the intelligence to notify lawmakers if their conversations were inadvertently scooped up, but House Intel Committee Chairman Devin Nunes (R-CA) said he doesn’t remember any notification. This creates room for executive branch abuse.

“The House Intelligence Committee is looking into allegations in the Wall Street Journal regarding possible Intelligence Community (IC) collection of communications between Israeli government officials and Members of Congress,” Nunes said. “The Committee has requested additional information from the IC to determine which, if any, of these allegations are true, and whether the IC followed all applicable laws, rules, and procedures.”

The holiday bombshell elucidated that some Senior White House staffers knew the NSA collection could be construed as an abuse of executive branch power. Nevertheless, in an effort to seize the upper-hand in the Iranian nuclear deal negotiations, White House advisors allowed NSA officials to continue collection of conversations between Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his top advisors, even if they were talking to members of Congress.

President Obama’s relationship with Israel has always been tenuous, however the US and Israeli spy agencies have always worked together on the volatile Middle East region.  The NSA’s counterpart, Israel’s Unit 8200, shared threats, including the Stuxnet computer worm that targeted Iranian industrial control system that monitored/controlled a large industrial nuclear facility in an effort to sabotage centrifuges for Iran’s nuclear program. Both the NSA and Unit 8200 spent decades inserting electronic chips in networks that collected phone calls, text messages as well as emails.

“The WSJ report that NSA spied on Congress(ional) and Israel(i) communications (is) very disturbing. Actually outrageous. Maybe (an) unprecedented abuse of power,” Pete Hoesktra (R-CA) said in a tweet during the Christmas break. Another read, “NSA and Obama officials need to be investigated and prosecuted if any truth to WSJ reports. NSA loses all credibility. Scary.”

And then there’s Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA.), who blasted the CIA for spying on the Senate Committee members in charge of collecting all the information about George W. Bush’s torture program. Ms. Feinstein took to the well of the Senate to personally lambaste the CIA and said, “The CIA’s search of the staff’s computers might well have violated … the Fourth Amendment.”  She also laminated that there are “grave concerns” that the CIA spying may have “violated the separation of powers principles embodied in the United States Constitution.” It must be noted that there has never been any CIA firings over this matter and in fact could now be used as a precedent on future actions.

Before Kentucky Senator Rand Paul decided to run for president, he made national news by consistently calling out the government on unwarranted NSA surveillance tactics. Over the weekend Paul told Fox News “I’m appalled by it and this is exactly why we need more NSA reform. The debate in Washington right now is (sic) unfortunately been going the other way since the San Bernardino shooting. Everybody’s saying ‘Oh, we need more surveillance of Americans.’ In reality what we need is more targeted surveillance.”

As the House returns to DC this week, many lawmakers are calling on Party leaders to investigate the potential abuse of power. “If the latest reports are true, laws were broken and there must be accountability for all responsible,” Lee Zeldin (R-NY) said in a statement. As a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Zeldin recalled a closed-door debate that involved world leaders and who should be on the spy list.

“In closed-door debate, the Obama administration weighed which allied leaders belonged on a so-called protected list, shielding them from NSA snooping. French President François Hollande, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and other North Atlantic Treaty Organization leaders made the list, but the administration permitted the NSA to target the leaders’ top advisers, current and former U.S. officials said. Other allies were excluded from the protected list, including Recep Tayyip Erdogan, president of NATO ally Turkey, which allowed the NSA to spy on their communications at the discretion of top officials. Putting the spying of Israeli leadership aside for a moment, in what interpretation of national security can the president of the United States justify using National Security Agency assets to spy on members of Congress? Is this really for national security or is it for political gain? The Obama administration must disclose the entirety of its role in this questionable activity. The United States Department of Justice should appoint a special prosecutor and the United States Congress should investigate the Obama administration and National Security Agency to pursue full clarity and accountability regarding this deeply troubling activity.”

But in 2014 “Nothing NSA does can fairly be characterized as ‘spying on members of Congress or other American elected officials,” is how then-NSA Director Army General Keith Alexander describe the NSA data collection process.

Such disclosures reinforce the wisdom of our third president, Thomas Jefferson, who said, “That government is best which governs least.”

Part II to this article will review the depth of the CIA’s involvement in the private sector’s data collection efforts, and the influence of Israeli intelligence practices on American methods and processes under the Constitutional’s rule of law.

Watch San Diego 6 TV segment: https://youtu.be/VSlBXjXISLQ