Death By Metadata: Jeremy Scahill & Glenn Greenwald Reveal NSA Role in Assassinations Overseas

Published on Feb 10, 2014

http://www.democracynow.org – In the first exposé for their new venture, First Look Media’s digital journal The Intercept, investigative journalists Jeremy Scahill and Glenn Greenwald reveal the National Security Agency is using complex analysis of electronic surveillance, rather than human intelligence, as the primary method to locate targets for lethal drone strikes. The NSA identifies targets based on controversial metadata analysis and cell-phone tracking technologies, an unreliable tactic that has resulted in the deaths of innocent and unidentified people. The United States has reportedly carried out drone strikes without knowing whether the individual in possession of a tracked cell phone or SIM card is in fact the intended target of the strike. Scahill and Greenwald join us to discuss their report and the launch of their media project.

Share and watch the full 35-minute discussion uninterrupted

USGIF: Where Our National Security Begins

While I was searching for more information (specifically about James R. Clapper Jr.) to add to the The Menace of the Military Mind post last night, I stumbled across a rather interesting corpo-government website that provides a nice behind-the-scenes look at some of the movers, shakers and decision makers who are responsible for our ever-growing World Wide Spy Machine. Here are some bits & pieces of what I’ve browsed through so far…Enjoy! ~Reb

 United States Geospatial Intelligence Foundation, Inc

USGIF - “In 2003, a group of leading authorities realized an inherent need for a unified vision and approach to promoting the geospatial intelligence tradecraft. This group created the successful GEO-INTEL 2003 conference—the predecessor to the annual GEOINT Symposium—and in early 2004 established USGIF. The Foundation’s mission was, and continues to be, to bring together government, industry, academia, professional organizations and individuals for the advancement of the geospatial intelligence tradecraft as it relates to national security.

Being the first and only organization of its kind, USGIF has helped to advance the tradecraft through its many events and programs, such as the highly acclaimed GEOINT Symposium and technology focused Tech Days. The Foundation currently has more than 200 sustaining member organizations supporting and assisting in executing the Foundation’s objectives. The Foundation also has made education a top priority, exemplified by its scholarships, college and university accreditation programs, grants to underprivileged K-12 schools and other initiatives.

USGIF is dedicated to bringing together the many disciplines involved in the geospatial intelligence sector to exchange ideas, share best practices and promote the education and importance of a national geospatial intelligence agenda.”

USGIF is located at 2325 Dulles Corner Boulevard, Suite 450, Herndon, VA 20171.

Download USGIF Fact Sheet

ProjectGEO- “Oct 23, 2012 In this special coverage interviewing USGIF President Keith Masback we dive into detail on several topics including what the USGIF is, it’s mission, and it’s impact on the GEOINT community. Keith also talks about the Young Professionals Group (YPG) and the GEOINT symposium. Watch the video to get exciting insight into the USGIF.

Keynote Speakers At GEOINT

(National Snitch-N- Snoop Convention?)

Keynotes for GEOINT 2013*

January 9, 2014 -Several speakers have reconfirmed their keynote addresses for the rescheduled GEOINT2013* Symposium, to be held April 14-17, 2014, at the Tampa Convention Center in Tampa, Fla.

Confirmed speakers include:

• The Honorable James R. Clapper, Director of National Intelligence (DNI)
• LTG Michael T. Flynn, U.S. Army, Director, Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA)
• Ms. Letitia A. Long, Director, National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA)
• ADM William H. McRaven, U.S. Navy, Commander, U.S. Special Operations
Command (USSOCOM)
• Ms. Betty J. Sapp, Director, National Reconnaissance Office (NRO)
• Mr. Robert Scoble & Mr. Shel Israel, Co-Authors, “Age of Context”

The annual GEOINT Symposium is the nation’s premier intelligence event. It offers a wealth of quality information, cutting-edge technologies, and top-notch activities that keep attendees coming back year after year. In addition to insightful keynote addresses and though-provoking panels with leaders from the Defense and Intelligence communities, the GEOINT Symposium provides attendees with an unparalleled opportunity to network at various social events and explore new technologies in a 100,000-square-foot exhibit hall.

GEOINTv 2012-Booth Tour Northrop Grumman (Video)

USGIF ACCOUNT LEVELS AND PRICING 

MEMBERSHIP DIRECTORY

USGIF released its 2013 Membership Directory in the Q1 issue of trajectory magazine.

The directory contains brief descriptions and contact information for all 224 USGIF sustaining member organizations. The directory is also complemented by an online capabilities index, which lists more than 50 products and services the membership organizations provide.

Download the 2013 USGIF Membership Directory

USGIF BOARD MEMBERS

USGIF’s Africa Working Group Hosts First Event

Project Geo – S2 E6 – Apocalyptic Maps

Syrian Children Study While Bombs Fall Nearby

RT – “Russia’s foreign minister has urged the US to maintain contacts with all sides in the Syrian conflict, except for jihadist groups. Sergey Lavrov, speaking after talks in Moscow with Syria’s opposition leaders, also welcomed the rebels’ willingness to take part in the Geneva negotiations, set to resume next week. But while politicians push for a breakthrough – time is running out for people living in the warzone…”

Click to learn more. School Days: A lifeline for Syria’s young minds.

The Menace of the Military Mind

Excerpts, Truthdig (Emphasis, mine) – “…For the next 20 years I would go on from war zone to war zone as a foreign correspondent immersed in military culture. Repetitive rote learning and an insistence on blind obedience—similar to the approach used to train a dog—work on the battlefield. The military exerts nearly total control over the lives of its members. Its long-established hierarchy ensures that those who embrace the approved modes of behavior rise and those who do not are belittled, insulted and hazed. Many of the marks of civilian life are stripped away. Personal modes of dress, hairstyle, speech and behavior are heavily regulated. Individuality is physically and then psychologically crushed. Aggressiveness is rewarded. Compassion is demeaned. Violence is the favorite form of communication. These qualities are an asset in war; they are a disaster in civil society. 

!MLK

Homer in “The Iliad” showed his understanding of war. His heroes are not pleasant men. They are vain, imperial, filled with rage and violent. And Homer’s central character in “The Odyssey,” Odysseus, in his journey home from war must learn to shed his “hero’s heart,” to strip from himself the military attributes that served him in war but threaten to doom him off the battlefield. The qualities that serve us in war defeat us in peace.

Most institutions have a propensity to promote mediocrities, those whose primary strengths are knowing where power lies, being subservient and obsequious to the centers of power and never letting morality get in the way of one’s career. The military is the worst in this respect. In the military, whether at the Paris Island boot camp or West Point, you are trained not to think but to obey. What amazes me about the military is how stupid and bovine its senior officers are. Those with brains and the willingness to use them seem to be pushed out long before they can rise to the senior-officer ranks. The many Army generals I met over the years not only lacked the most rudimentary creativity and independence of thought but nearly always saw the press, as well as an informed public, as impinging on their love of order, regimentation, unwavering obedience to authority and single-minded use of force to solve complex problems.

So when I heard James R. Clapper Jr., a retired Air Force lieutenant general and currently the federal government’s director of national intelligence, denounce Edward Snowden and his “accomplices”—meaning journalists such as Glenn Greenwald and Laura Poitras—before the Senate Intelligence Committee last week I was not surprised. Clapper charged, without offering any evidence, that the Snowden disclosures had caused “profound damage” and endangered American lives. And all who have aided Snowden are, it appears, guilty of treason in Clapper’s eyes…

…The U.S. military has won the ideological war. The nation sees human and social problems as military problems. To fight terrorists Americans have become terrorists. Peace is for the weak. War is for the strong. Hypermasculinity has triumphed over empathy. We Americans speak to the world exclusively in the language of force. And those who oversee our massive security and surveillance state seek to speak to us in the same demented language. All other viewpoints are to be shut out. “In the absence of contrasting views, the very highest form of propaganda warfare can be fought: the propaganda for a definition of reality within which only certain limited viewpoints are possible,” C. Wright Mills wrote. “What is being promulgated and reinforced is the military metaphysics—the cast of mind that defines international reality as basically military.”

This is why people like James Clapper and the bloated military and security and surveillance apparatus must not have unchecked power to conduct wholesale surveillance, to carry out extraordinary renditions and to imprison Americans indefinitely as terrorists. This is why the nation, as our political system remains mired in paralysis, must stop glorifying military values. In times of turmoil the military always seems to be a good alternative. It presents the facade of order. But order in the military, as the people of Egypt are now learning again, is akin to slavery. It is the order of a prison. And that is where Clapper and his fellow generals and intelligence chiefs would like to place any citizen who dares to question their unimpeded right to turn us all into mindless recruits. They have the power to make their demented dreams a reality. And it is our task to take this power from them.” Read The (Outstanding) Article In Full Here

 

Is the State Department Trying to Silence Pakistani Drone Victims by Delaying Their Attorney’s Visa?

Rafiq ur-Rehman’s mother was working as his two children played near her in a field just outside his village of Tappi in the tribal region of North Waziristan in Pakistan when some of the CIA’s pilotless spy planes targeted their village and fired four missiles almost one year ago this month. 

TruthOut- “Rehman’s children, 13-year-old Nabila and 9-year-old Zubair, watched as the drone strike killed their 67-year-old grandmother, Mamana, instantly, and lodged shrapnel into their legs, hospitalizing them. Rehman returned from work to find the remains of his mother, his injured and bleeding children and a smoking field dotted with dead cattle.

A year later, Congressman Alan Grayson (D-Florida) has formally invited Rehman, who is a primary school teacher in North Waziristan, and his children to testify about their experience before a Congressional ad-hoc hearing. It would mark the first time survivors of military drone strikes have traveled to Capitol Hill to give a voice and face to the reality of the CIA’s covert drone program.

But the family can’t travel to the United States to tell lawmakers their story because their attorney’s visa has been delayed by the State Department. Rehman’s attorney and translator, Shahzad Akbar, is a fellow at the human rights organization Reprieve and represents more than 156 drone strike victims.

Akbar has accused the State Department of deliberately barring his entry to the United States to silence the voices of drone strike survivors after they have prepared for months to travel to Washington, D.C. The State Department already has granted Rehman’s and his children’s visas.

“I have been blacklisted for simply one reason, that is my drone work. Otherwise, if I am any kind of security threat, [the State Department] can simply say,” Akbar told Truthout in a telephone interview.

This is not the first time Akbar has had trouble gaining entry into the country. Before he began investigating drone strikes in 2010, he traveled frequently to the U.S. as a consultant for U.S. agencies. But when he was invited to speak at a human rights conference in May 2011 at Columbia University about his work on legal cases involving drone strikes, his visa was delayed by the State Department for 14 months…”

Click Here For Full Story on TruthOut

America’s Private Sector Army

Prior to the Iraq war, most people wouldn’t have heard of the private military companies (PMCs) that provide their services to the USA. Then came the the headlines, thick and fast, as the heavy involvement of PMCs such as Blackwater led to controversy. 

Excerpts, The Kernel - “The number of contractors used is staggering. In 2010 there were 94,413 contractors in Afghanistan, compared with 91,600 US troops.

MERCENARIES IN EVERYTHING BUT NAME

Most PMCs provide logistical support, but one stands out above all others: Blackwater. Described by some as a “private army”, they differ from modern day military units such as the British Army’s Brigade of Gurkhas and the French Foreign Legion, in that they are an autonomous company providing military services. Mercenaries in everything but name. Blackwater in particular stands out for their boots-on-the ground provision of “security guards” who look, smell and operate like any other combat soldier.

Blackwater, now called Academi, became known for a string of controversial incidents involving its personnel. Now that Middle Eastern occupations are winding down and court cases have been settled, Blackwater has managed to slip under the radar again. But it still exists, albeit with a new name, and is as influential as ever.

In the sixteen years of its existence, Blackwater has changed the face of modern warfare. How did they do it, what are they doing now and what does their continued existence mean for the future?

In explaining his vision for Blackwater, its founder Erik Prince famously stated:

“We are trying to do for the national security apparatus what FedEx did for the Postal Service.” 

Blackwater started out by offering training services to the military and landed a major contract to train Navy personnel following the 2000 bombing of USS Cole of the coast of Yemen.

With their reputation established, Blackwater began to hoover up government contracts as the War on Terror progressed. At first they provided security to secret CIA bases, then they became the default private security force for the raft of diplomats and State Department employees who found themselves involved in occupied Iraq. Blackwater proudly remind people that “not one State Department employee was killed while we were protecting them”. No officials may have been killed but a number of innocent Iraqis did, at the barrel of Blackwater guns.

The US military has long had a reputation for financial ineptitude when it come to hardware acquisition. It’s a reputation that has persisted with their procurement of contract services. At the height of the Iraq war, sergeants in the military were getting paid one-sixth of their counterparts from Blackwater. This problem of capitalism colliding with patriotism was so serious that Defense Secretary Robert Gates considered asking US troops to sign a non-compete clause…

…The largest incident branded on Blackwater’s reputation is what has become known as The Blackwater Baghdad shootings. On September sixteenth 2007, Blackwater military contractors shot and killed seventeen Iraqi civilians in Nisour Square, Baghdad…

“They became a symbol of what was seen as an occupying force. They are always heavily armed with machine-guns, and wear body armour and wraparound sunglasses. Usually they are beefy men with goatees, covered in tattoos. They swagger around like something out of a movie. Their presence here has been deeply damaging.”

Blackwater has become a destination of choice for ex-public servants looking for a cushy retirement, resulting in the company having even stronger ties to the centres of American power post-Iraq than pre-Iraq. The board of directors now includes Bobby Ray Inman, the former head of the National Security Agency and Jack Quinn, the former White House Counsel to President Bill Clinton. 

Lessons have learned by both the Government and private companies from their flirtation over the last couple of decades and the legacy will have repercussions on future conflicts. The Government has found a way to patch up their military personnel shortcomings with off-the-shelf and adaptable solutions: no need for the tedium of training youngsters and paying out pension plans.

By buying up experienced Army personnel, Blackwater have made themselves indispensable as a training institution for America’s elite troops. And next time the US goes gung-ho into another country? The contractors will be ready. Academi have developed and manufactured their own infantry mobility vehicle called The Grizzly APC. They were too late to the military hardware party this time around but they have all the pieces in place to take an even greater role in the USA’s next major conflict.” Full Article on The Kernel

 

 

Unmanned F-16 Fighter Jet Completes First Flight

“The Air Force has maintained that QF-16s will only be used in training exercises when pilots are completing dogfight simulations in the air. The planes remain capable of being flown by an on board pilot though, and a bomb will be placed on board in the event that an unmanned plane needs to be destroyed.”

via RT- “The US Air Force and the Boeing aerospace and defense corporation announced they have successfully converted a retired F-16 into a drone. It is now possible for fighter jets to fly supersonic speeds, land, and operate normally without a pilot on board.

Boeing announced Tuesday that modified versions of the F-16 Fighting Falcon will operate as a QF-16 Full Scale Aerial Target for use in Air Force training practices. Last week, two Air Force pilots controlled the first successful flight from the ground station at Florida’s Tydall Air Force Base.

The maiden flight departed from the runway as normal and completed a series of simulated maneuvers in the air over the Gulf of Mexico, surpassing the speed of sound and landing safely.

It was a little different to see it without anyone in it, but it was a great flight all the way around,” said US Air Force Lieutenant Colonel Ryan Inman, the commander of the 82nd Aerial targets Squadron. “It’s a replication of current, real world situations and aircraft platforms they can shoot as a target. Now we have a 9G capable, highly sustainable aerial target.” Full Story

DoD’s Active Denial System

“For the first millisecond, it just felt like the skin was warming up. Then it got warmer and warmer and you felt like it was on fire…” 

The Active Denial System had its first demonstration of power aboard an Army vessel at Joint Base Langley-Eustis September 12, 2013.

Like all focused energy, the beam will irradiate all matter in the targeted area, including everything beyond/behind it that is not shielded, with no possible discrimination between individuals, objects or materials. Anyone incapable of leaving the target area (e.g., physically handicapped, infants, incapacitated, trapped, etc) would continue to receive radiation until the operator turned off the beam. Reflective materials such as aluminium cooking foil should reflect this radiation and could be used to make clothing that would be protective against this radiation.

The Active Denial System, from a presentation ...

The Active Denial System, from a presentation of the U.S. Department of defense (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 Wiki- The Active Denial System (ADS) is a non-lethal, directed-energy weapon developed by the U.S. military, designed for area denial, perimeter security and crowd control. Informally, the weapon is also called the heat ray since it works by heating the surface of targets, such as the skin of targeted human subjects. Raytheon is currently marketing a reduced-range version of this technology. The ADS was deployed in 2010 with the United States military in the Afghanistan War, but was withdrawn without seeing combat. On August 20, 2010, the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department announced its intent to use this technology on prisoners in the Pitchess Detention Center in Los Angeles, stating its intent to use it in “operational evaluation” in situations such as breaking up prisoner fights. The ADS is currently only a vehicle-mounted weapon, though U.S. Marines and police are both working on portable versions. ADS was developed under the sponsorship of the DoD Non-Lethal Weapons Program with the Air Force Research Laboratory as the lead agency. There are reports that Russia is developing its own version of the Active Denial System…

…Many possible long-term effects have been studied, with the conclusion that no long-term effects are likely at the exposure levels studied. However, over-exposures of either operators or targets may cause long-term damage including cancer. According to an official military assessment, “In the event of an overexposure to a power density sufficient to produce thermal injury, there is an extremely low probability that scars derived from such injury might later become cancerous. Proper wound management further decreases this probability, as well as the probability of hypertrophic scarring or keloid formation.”
  • Cancer: A mouse cancer study was performed at two energy levels and exposures with a 94 GHz transmitter: a single 10 second, 1 W/cm exposure; and repeated 10 second exposures over 2 week period at 333 mW/cm. At both energy levels, no increase in skin cancers were observed. No studies of higher energy levels, or longer exposure times have been performed on millimeter wave systems.
  • Cornea damage: tests on non-human primate eyes have observed no short-term or long-term damage as the blink reflex protects the eye from damage within 0.25s.
  • Birth defects: millimeter waves only penetrate 0.4mm (1/64″) into the skin, making direct damage to the testes or ovaries impossible.
  • Blisters and scarring: pea-sized blistering due to second degree burns occurred in a very small (less than 0.1%) of tested exposures, which have a remote potential for scarring.

ADS operators would be exposed to more than the standard maximum permissible exposure (MPE) limits for RF energy, and military use requires an exception to these exposure limits.”

The Council on Foreign Relations noted that ”wider integration of existing types of nonlethal weapons (NLW) into the U.S. Army and Marine Corps could have helped to reduce the damage done by widespread looting and sabotage after the cessation of major conflict in Iraq” Continue reading

War Dividend: Arms Firms Ready To Cash In

“War against a foreign country only happens when the moneyed classes think they are going to profit from it.”

- George Orwell

~$~

Published on Sep 16, 2013

RT “US military forces remain in position to strike Syria, if Damascus fails to comply – with France backing up Washington’s threat. An attack would bring huge risks. But also stellar profits for US arms firms, as Lindsay France reports…”

~$~

war-is-money

~$~

“Politicians hide themselves away
They only started the war
Why should they go out to fight?
They leave that role to the poor…” 

Meet ATLAS

Whoa…I can’t decide whether I should be awed by the achievement…or terrified by the potential mis-use of the technology..?

Meet “ATLAS”…one of the most advanced humanoids ever built.

Echoes Of Darkness

StormCloudsGathering“The powers that be shredded the constitution and took you into a series of wars that have left countless civilians dead based on this event. You owe it to your children and grand children to take another look at it…”

Out of Sight, Out of Mind

Below is a link to a very disturbing animated infograph of all confirmed US drone strikes in Pakistan alone…

Out Of Sight,Out Of Mind

via Out of Sight, Out of Mind – “Because the US Government does not disclose strike information, the data must be manually collected on the ground by reporters. The challenge is that stories and estimates vary between sources. In cases where there are inconsistencies, a minimum and a maximum number of possible fatalities are recorded. We take the average whole number between these estimates for each attack. In a few instances there were fatalities confirmed, but the estimated number of fatalities was not obtainable. In these cases, we simply omitted the fatalities. The list of high-profile targets (the white squares) comes from the New America Foundation.”

ESTIMATED TOTAL FATALITIES – 3149

 

“Since 2004, the US has been practicing in a new kind of clandestine military operation. The justification for using drones to take out enemy targets is appealing because it removes the risk of losing American military, it’s much cheaper than deploying soldiers, it’s politically much easier to maneuver (i.e. flying a drone within Pakistan vs. sending troops) and it keeps the world in the dark about what is actually happening. It takes the conflict out of sight, out of mind. The success rate is extremely low and the cost on civilian lives and the general well-being of the population is very high. This project helps to bring light on the topic of drones. Not to speak for or against, but to inform and to allow you to see for yourself whether you can support drone usage or not.
Attacks and Victims View
The first view you see illustrates the attacks by the drones. We also wanted to give an emphasis on the victims. By clicking on the Victims link you can see an expanded view of the actual victims with the total number of attacks and fatalities for each month.
Important Notes
The category of victims we call “OTHER” is classified differently depending on the source. The Obama administration classifies any able-bodied male a military combatant unless evidence is brought forward to prove otherwise. This is a very grey area for us. These could be neighbors of a target killed. They may all be militants and a threat. What we do know for sure is that they are targeted without being given any representation or voice to defend themselves.” Learn More Here

War Is A Racket

War is a Racket by Smedley Butler is a famous speech denouncing the military industrial complex. This speech by two-time Congressional Medal of Honor recipient exposes war profits that benefit few at the expense of many. Throughout his distinguished career in the Marines, Smedley Darlington Butler demonstrated that true patriotism does not mean blind allegiance to government policies with which one does not agree. To Hell with war.

– Excerpt from a speech delivered in 1933, by Major General Smedley Butler, USMC.

War is just a racket. A racket is best described, I believe, as something that is not what it seems to the majority of people. Only a small inside group knows what it is about. It is conducted for the benefit of the very few at the expense of the masses.

I believe in adequate defense at the coastline and nothing else. If a nation comes over here to fight, then we’ll fight. The trouble with America is that when the dollar only earns 6 percent over here, then it gets restless and goes overseas to get 100 percent. Then the flag follows the dollar and the soldiers follow the flag…

I wouldn’t go to war again as I have done to protect some lousy investment of the bankers. There are only two things we should fight for. One is the defense of our homes and the other is the Bill of Rights. War for any other reason is simply a racket.

There isn’t a trick in the racketeering bag that the military gang is blind to. It has its “finger men” to point out enemies, its “muscle men” to destroy enemies, its “brain men” to plan war preparations, and a “Big Boss” Super-Nationalistic-Capitalism.

It may seem odd for me, a military man to adopt such a comparison. Truthfulness compels me to. I spent thirty- three years and four months in active military service as a member of this country’s most agile military force, the Marine Corps. I served in all commissioned ranks from Second Lieutenant to Major-General. And during that period, I spent most of my time being a high class muscle- man for Big Business, for Wall Street and for the Bankers. In short, I was a racketeer, a gangster for capitalism.

I suspected I was just part of a racket at the time. Now I am sure of it. Like all the members of the military profession, I never had a thought of my own until I left the service. My mental faculties remained in suspended animation while I obeyed the orders of higher-ups. This is typical with everyone in the military service.

I helped make Mexico, especially Tampico, safe for American oil interests in 1914. I helped make Haiti and Cuba a decent place for the National City Bank boys to collect revenues in. I helped in the raping of half a dozen Central American republics for the benefits of Wall Street. The record of racketeering is long. I helped purify Nicaragua for the international banking house of Brown Brothers in 1909-1912 (where have I heard that name before?). I brought light to the Dominican Republic for American sugar interests in 1916. In China I helped to see to it that Standard Oil went its way unmolested.

During those years, I had, as the boys in the back room would say, a swell racket. Looking back on it, I feel that I could have given Al Capone a few hints. The best he could do was to operate his racket in three districts. I operated on three continents…

The Syrian War: What You’re Not Being Told

The latest post from StormCloudsGathering.

What’s really going on in Syria? Let’s look at the evidence.

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