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DiFi's NSA transparency "reform" effort codifying worst of govt hacking makes her look a fool today

McClatchy reports— CIA employees improperly accessed computers used by the Senate Intelligence Committee to compile a report on the agency’s now defunct detention and interrogation program, an internal CIA investigation has determined.

Findings of the investigation by the CIA Inspector General’s Office “include a judgment that some CIA employees acted in a manner inconsistent with the common understanding reached between SSCI (Senate Select Committee on Intelligence) and the CIA in 2009,” CIA spokesman Dean Boyd said in a statement.

The statement represented an admission to charges by the panel’s chairwoman, Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., that the CIA intruded into the computers her staff used to compile the soon-to-be released report on the agency’s use of harsh interrogation methods on suspected terrorists in secret overseas prisons during the Bush administration.

Committee staffers used computers inside a CIA facility to review documents related to the investigation, and Feinstein came to believe the CIA was monitoring their work, a belief confirmed by today's news . . .

FLASHBACK: Code Pink co-founder Medea Benjamin ripped into Sen. Feinstein in March:

“It is very hypocritical of Senator Feinstein to defend the NSA’s practices of mass spying and condemn Edward Snowden as a traitor, but then express outrage when it’s possible that her committee has been spied on by the CIA,” Benjamin said. “We completely agree with Edward Snowden in that this is an example of the ‘Merkel Effect’ in which ‘an elected official does not care at all that the rights of millions of ordinary citizens are violated by our spies, but suddenly it's a scandal when a politician finds out the same thing happens to them.’”

Snowden followed with a statement to NBC News:

"It's clear the CIA was trying to play 'keep away' with documents relevant to an investigation by their overseers in Congress, and that's a serious constitutional concern. But it's equally if not more concerning that we're seeing another 'Merkel Effect,' where an elected official does not care at all that the rights of millions of ordinary citizens are violated by our spies, but suddenly it's a scandal when a politician finds out the same thing happens to them."

Feinstein defended the program of routinely collecting and storing the phone records millions of Americans, in an op-ed for USA Today:

"The call-records program is not surveillance. It does not collect the content of any communication, nor do the records include names or locations. The NSA only collects the type of information found on a telephone bill: phone numbers of calls placed and received, the time of the calls and duration. The Supreme Court has held this "metadata" is not protected under the Fourth Amendment."

and in a statement in 2013 on the NSA Call Records Ruling which found the program unconstitutional:

“Those of us who support the call records program do so with a sincere belief that it, along with other programs, is constitutional and helps keep the country safe from attack.

“In upholding these convictions, Judge Miller cited Smith v. Maryland (1979) the controlling legal precedent and held the defendants had ‘no legitimate expectation of privacy’ over the type of telephone metadata acquired by the government—which is the ‘to’ and ‘from’ phone numbers of a call, its time, its date and its duration. There is no content, no names and no locational information acquired.

“Clearly we have competing decisions from those of at least three different courts (the FISA Court, the D.C. District Court and the Southern District of California). I have found the analysis by the FISA Court, the Southern District of California and the position of the Department of Justice, based on the Supreme Court decision in Smith, to be compelling."

In January, President Obama actually repudiated Feinstein's position by announcing his wish to end NSA's systematic collection of data about Americans’ calling habits. However, as the administration strained to protect its ability to conduct surveillance, it contradicted the President's fine words about our constitution and the rights of Americans:

I’ve also made it clear that the United States does not collect intelligence to suppress criticism or dissent, nor do we collect intelligence to disadvantage people on the basis of their ethnicity or race or gender or sexual orientation or religious beliefs. We do not collect intelligence to provide a competitive advantage to U.S. companies or U.S. commercial sectors.

And in terms of our bulk collection of signals intelligence, U.S. intelligence agencies will only use such data to meet specific security requirements: counterintelligence; counterterrorism; counterproliferation; cybersecurity; force protection for our troops and our allies; and combating transnational crime, including sanctions evasion.

In this directive, I have taken the unprecedented step of extending certain protections that we have for the American people to people overseas. I’ve directed the DNI, in consultation with the attorney general, to develop these safeguards, which will limit the duration that we can hold personal information while also restricting the use of this information. The bottom line is that people around the world, regardless of their nationality, should know that the United States is not spying on ordinary people who don’t threaten our national security and that we take their privacy concerns into account in our policies and procedures.

This applies to foreign leaders as well. Given the understandable attention that this issue has received, I’ve made clear to the intelligence community that unless there is a compelling national security purpose, we will not monitor the communications of heads of state and government of our close friends and allies.

Clearly, today's apology by the director of the Central Intelligence Agency, John Brennan, admitting after months of denials that they had spied on Senate intelligence committee staff, is an invitation to doubt anything this administration has been asserting about its intelligence operations.

All of that said, Sen. Feinstein's complaints about the CIA spy gang working to undermine her committee's efforts to determine the extent of the CIA's rendition and torture activities during the Bush administration were certainly valid and prescient.

“The CIA’s search may also have violated the Fourth Amendment, the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, as well as Executive Order 12333, which prohibits the CIA from conducting domestic searches or surveillance,” Feinstein said during her speech on the Senate floor regarding the committee’s study on the CIA Detention and Interrogation Program which found that the agency had destroyed videotapes of some of their first interrogations using “enhanced techniques."

Per an exchange of letters in 2009, then-Vice Chairman Bond, then-Director Panetta, and I agreed in an exchange of letters that the CIA was to provide a “stand-alone computer system” with a “network drive” “segregated from CIA networks” for the committee that would only be accessed by information technology personnel at the CIA—who would “not be permitted to” “share information from the system with other [CIA] personnel, except as otherwise authorized by the committee.”

It was this computer network that, notwithstanding our agreement with Director Panetta, was searched by the CIA . . .

. . . the CIA has previously withheld and destroyed information about its Detention and Interrogation Program, including its decision in 2005 to destroy interrogation videotapes over the objections of the Bush White House and the Director of National Intelligence. Based on the information described above, there was a need to preserve and protect the Internal Panetta Review in the committee’s own secure spaces.

The CIA had responded to the intelligence committee's complaints by accusing the staffers of obtaining their information through illegal means. Feinstein responds:

Shortly thereafter, on January 15, 2014, CIA Director Brennan requested an emergency meeting to inform me and Vice Chairman Chambliss that without prior notification or approval, CIA personnel had conducted a “search”—that was John Brennan’s word—of the committee computers at the offsite facility. This search involved not only a search of documents provided to the committee by the CIA, but also a search of the ”stand alone” and “walled-off” committee network drive containing the committee’s own internal work product and communications.

According to Brennan, the computer search was conducted in response to indications that some members of the committee staff might already have had access to the Internal Panetta Review. The CIA did not ask the committee or its staff if the committee had access to the Internal Review, or how we obtained it.

Instead, the CIA just went and searched the committee’s computers. The CIA has still not asked the committee any questions about how the committee acquired the Panetta Review. In place of asking any questions, the CIA’s unauthorized search of the committee computers was followed by an allegation—which we have now seen repeated anonymously in the press—that the committee staff had somehow obtained the document through unauthorized or criminal means, perhaps to include hacking into the CIA’s computer network.

As I have described, this is not true. The document was made available to the staff at the offsite facility, and it was located using a CIA-provided search tool running a query of the information provided to the committee pursuant to its investigation . . .

Feinstein correctly pointed out that, not only was there an attempt to criminalize the actions of her staff in apparent retaliation for complaining about the CIA activities, there was also a clear conflict of interest involving the very people who were working to prosecute the staff:

As I mentioned before, our staff involved in this matter have the appropriate clearances, handled this sensitive material according to established procedures and practice to protect classified information, and were provided access to the Panetta Review by the CIA itself. As a result, there is no legitimate reason to allege to the Justice Department that Senate staff may have committed a crime. I view the acting general counsel’s referral as a potential effort to intimidate this staff—and I am not taking it lightly.

I should note that for most, if not all, of the CIA’s Detention and Interrogation Program, the now acting general counsel was a lawyer in the CIA’s Counterterrorism Center—the unit within which the CIA managed and carried out this program. From mid-2004 until the official termination of the detention and interrogation program in January 2009, he was the unit’s chief lawyer. He is mentioned by name more than 1,600 times in our study.

And now this individual is sending a crimes report to the Department of Justice on the actions of congressional staff—the same congressional staff who researched and drafted a report that details how CIA officers—including the acting general counsel himself—provided inaccurate information to the Department of Justice about the program.

If nothing else happens as a result of this admission by the CIA, it should reinvigorate the effort to hold accountable those in the Bush administration who approved and executed illegal and immoral torture policies and rendition activities.

from the Guardian today:

The Obama administration has walked a delicate line over the torture report. Obama has insisted its prompt and thorough declassification – which has taken nearly four months – is a priority. Yet he appointed the CIA itself as the lead agency to determine what aspects of a report directly implicating CIA activities the public can see.

Even before he was sworn in, Obama disappointed civil-liberties supporters by indicating his disinclination to prosecuting agency and ex-Bush administration officials who ordered and implemented the torture program. In 2012, a special prosecutor ended an inquiry without bringing charges. Only one man, a former CIA contractor named David Passaro, has gone to jail in connection to the CIA’s post-9/11 torture.

Brennan’s apology also complicates a developing CIA pushback against a report that agency officials, current and former, consider shoddy. George Tenet, the former director whom Brennan served and who oversaw the brutal practices – where suspected terrorists were subjected to simulated drowning, had guns fired by their heads, were kept in undisclosed prisons for years and were sent to countries like Gadhafi’s Libya and Assad’s Syria for even more abusive treatment – is said to be developing a public strategy to attack the committee once the report is released.

The agency, consistent with a pattern that has held since 9/11, appears out of danger from criminal liability. Earlier this month, a Justice Department probe, also first reported by McClatchy, declined to pursue an investigation into Feinstein’s now-vindicated charges.

Meanwhile, the White House is responding to the CIA admission by stating that Pres. Obama has “great confidence” in Brennan, and praising the CIA director for "proactive leadership" in calling for the probe that his agency resisted with every fiber of their database.

Understandable, after all, in their defense of their winning team in covering up and protecting the former administration's most criminal operators from prosecution. It makes one wonder how much of the White House defense and approval of the CIA's obstruction efforts in the investigation of the Bush-era crimes involves shielding their own activities from accountability.

Dianne Feinstein, chairwoman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, and CIA director John Brennan. Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images

NO ONE is responsible for this many attacks on innocent civilians, except the ones attacking them

It's bullshit, plain and simple to blame Hamas for Israel's direct attacks on the civilian population in Gaza. It's even more ludicrous to blame the non-combatant civilians for the attacks, as some have done. No one is responsible for those attacks, except the Israeli attackers. That's not only common sense, it's also the dictate of international laws that govern military conflict.

How can our government justify standing by, almost silent to the crimes - except to remind us that they hold Hamas responsible for Israel's actions; claiming beyond any proof offered at all, that it's Hamas putting these Palestinian victims in the way of the missile attacks? Never for a moment allowing that anyone on the Israeli side is responsible for placing civilians underneath Hamas sympathizer's rockets.

Where are the demands that Israel show any proof that the risk from their targets outweigh the risk to Palestinian civilians? There is none. Israeli citizens are protected by an 'Iron Dome' of defense; Palestinians have no such protection.

The U.S. defenders of Israel may well claim that Hamas is responsible for the violence and the killing by Israelis of men, women, and children, who are doing little more than dodging Israel's bombs and bullets. However, it's not clear at all what they expect Palestinian civilians to do to prevent combatants, on either side, from engaging in violence.

In any instance, how can anyone claim that these civilians are in any way responsible for that? Where is the risk from the children they're maiming and blowing to bits? What is the goal of Israel, outside of outright punishment for things over which they have absolutely no control?

Is it the annihilation of Palestinians that they're trying to effect, or is it some sort of punishment or coercion? Neither is within any moral boundaries that Americans assume our nation represents or stands for.

History will remember how our government stood by and allowed this violence against unarmed civilians - actively funded the Israeli military effort and even considered funding them more at the same time their 'allies' bombs were falling on homes, schools, hospitals, refuge centers where civilians huddled to escape the unending carnage. History will correctly judge our nation as criminally callous and complicit in these crimes against humanity.

History will wonder at our arrogance, and at our inability to restrain our military and its agents from pursuing ambitions far outside of the mandate of our constitution or conscience. We can scarcely hope to repair the injustice and the pain which our great and powerful nation has caused, around the world and here at home; through our greed, with our zeal, and by our neglect.


Protection of civilians during armed conflict is a cornerstone of international humanitarian law

Civilians in war

UNRWA Condemns Israeli Shelling Of Its School In Gaza As Serious Violation Of International Law

Consequences. When most of us fail to do our job or deliver there are consequences; often immediate

When the President or Congress fails, they make certain they don't suffer any consequences.

I'm thinking about the unemployment extension that legislators have been promising for months. Time and time again, Congress has taken away the money that legislators have found to fund the extension and time and time again, Congress has found a way to spend that found funding on something else.

Republicans have now taken to claiming that withholding benefits is magically FORCING people to take jobs they might not otherwise. They cynically point to the lower unemployment numbers and claim that withholding benefits is some sort of magic elixir - tough love - and they're doing us a favor by withholding an extension of benefits and forcing workers into one of the part-time sub-poverty-level jobs available, if any actually exist.

A mostly bipartisan group of legislators have committed themselves to finding funding for the extension and have gotten commitments over the past months that the extension will be attached to key funding bills, but each and every one has seen the extension stripped out.

Senator Reid told Sen. Reed and republican Sen. Heller from Nevada (unemployment in his state at 7.7%) that "there's a chance" to add the unemployment benefits extension to the emergency spending bill for the border that Pres. Obama requested. That bill appears doomed, at least before the August recess.

Reed and Heller crafted a new bill that would cost a total of $10 billion and was planned to be paid for by "pension smoothing" and "extending Customs user fees through 2024".

The new highway bill that the republican Congress passed overwhelmingly with Democratic votes, 367 to 55, stripped the bipartisan unemployment extension agreement out and just folded the money that was organized for the UE bill and swallowed it up to pay for the highway legislation.

As Sen. Reed commented afterward, "This is now the second time they've taken offsets intended to help the unemployed and used them to pay for other priorities."

President Obama was so eager to get a highway bill that he almost immediately gave his blessing to the House bill without mentioning the unemployment extension at all. Not one word about it; not one proposal from the WH about where to include the UE legislation he's used in his speeches as an example of republican heartlessness and neglect. In giving his tacit approval to the republican highway bill Pres. Obama effectively condoned their shelving of the jobless worker funding extension.

The President gave the extension lip service in a June speech: "They've said no to extending unemployment insurance for more than three million Americans who are out there looking every single day for a new job, despite the fact that we know it would be good not just for those families who are working hard to try to get back on their feet, but for the economy as a whole," he said.

Thing is, Pres. Obama has refused to threaten to veto ANY bills over the benefits extension or bothered to hold ANY republican priorities hostage to an unemployment extension.

That's what I mean by consequences. There are virtually no consequences for republicans in arrogantly refusing to extend benefits; no consequences for their arrogant expectation that inadequate employment and workers disappearing from the rolls by just giving up represents some sort of solution - out of sight, out of their minds.

As I said, the passage of the highway bill, and the President's acceptance of the republican tactic of robbing the UE funding to make that bill happen begs the question of whether the President will EVER insist on ANY consequences for ignoring and using their twisted logic in refusing this traditionally automatic extension.

When is this WH, when is this President going to hold republicans accountable and make them pay a price for their obstinacy and disregard of hurting workers around the nation who haven't benefited from the recovery other states may be experiencing?

When is he going to hold up what republicans want to force THEM to do THEIR jobs? When is he going to exact a price from the republicans? When is he going to make them pay the consequences of their refusal to do their job?

And, yes, this is personal to me. I'm not going to wear my problems on my sleeve and I'm not discussing my personal needs here at all. Period. But, this is personal to me.

Martin O'Malley: 'We Can't Send Children Back to Death' - Says 'Get Them Out Of These Kennels'

Jack Bohrer @JRBoh · 2h
Martin O'Malley: We Can't 'Send Children Back to Death' http://ti.me/W4Uyi0

Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley broke publicly with President Barack Obama and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton Friday, calling for a more humane policy toward the tens of thousands of unaccompanied minors who have illegally crossed into the United States.

“It is contrary to everything we stand for to try to summarily send children back to death,” the Democratic lawmaker told reporters. O’Malley also criticized the “kennels” in which those who have been detained are being kept and calling for the children to be placed in “the least restrictive” locations, including foster homes or with family members in the U.S.

“Through all of the great world religions we are told that hospitality to strangers is an essential human dignity,” O’Malley said. “It is a belief that unites all of us. And I have watched the pictures of young kids who have traveled for thousands of miles. I can only imagine, as a father of four, the heartbreak that those parents must have felt in sending their children across a desert where they can be muled and trafficked or used or killed or tortured. But with the hope, the hope, that they would reach the United States and that their children would be protected from what they were facing at home, which was the likelihood of being recruited into gangs and dying a violent death.”

O’Malley went so far as to call the children “refugees,” a term with legal weight that would allow most of them to remain in the U.S. He called on Congress and the President to avoid modifying the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act of 2008. That measure requires that children who are not from Canada or Mexico who have crossed the border to be given an opportunity to see an immigration judge to make their case for amnesty. Lawmakers on both sides, as well as the White House, are reviewing ways to amend that law to ease deportations of the tens of thousands of migrant children, who are largely from El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras.

O’Malley said “the whole world is watching” how the U.S. responds to the humanitarian crisis.

“We have to do right not just by these kids but by our kids and protect the children who are here, put them in the least restrictive settings, get them out of these detention centers and these kennels where they are being cooped up, and operate as the good and generous people that we have always been,” he added. “That’s what’s at stake here, as well as the lives of these kids.”

read more: http://time.com/2978026/martin-omalley-minors-immigration/

Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley speaks during a general session at the California Democrats State Convention, March 8, 2014, in Los Angeles. Jae C. Hong—AP

Martin O'Malley ‏@GovernorOMalley 1h
The greatest power we have is power of our principles. We're not a country that should send children away & send them back to certain death

*listen*: https://soundcloud.com/americarising/martin-omalley-we-are-not-a-country-that-should-turn-children-away

'Afghan Democracy.exe' failed to install due to operations timing out - Do you want to try again?

Angry Staff Officer ‏@pptsapper 1h
This was stenciled on a jersey barrier in Kandahar. Someone's got a wicked sense of humor. And too much time.

Big flaw in Hobby Lobby decision is in assuming 'corporate personhoods' can hold religious belief

If you assume, as the Court does, that Hobby Lobby is a corporation - not a sole proprietorship or even a partnership - there isn't any recognized role that religion plays in such a corporate structure as defined by the Court.

The Supreme Court, in 'Citizens United' recognized rights for corporations which are associated with the individuals who form those entities for the purposes of protections of their freedom of press; or to secure their property from unreasonable searches or seizures. The Court recognized the individuals who formed the entities interest in pooling their resources to conduct financial transactions and grow their businesses.

Corporations aren't formed for religious purposes, like churches, they're formed for profit, and only recognized as such under stringent state laws. The only way to get to the religious belief of the owners of Hobby lobby would be to recognize the views of the owners as individuals; not the definition of the corporation, itself, which the Court has already described as a business entity; not a religious institution which is guaranteed those protections of belief and practice.

The corporation can't, itself, hold religious belief - not under the Logic of corporate personhood. The Court is really saying that Hobby Lobby isn't a person, after all - defying all of the logic and reasoning they've used to allow corporations 'free speech' rights to spend as much unaccountable money as they want in campaigns - and has reduced them to what they arguably are; a business made up of people.

But the Court hasn't gone all the way and recognized corporations, themselves as religious entities. As far as anyone can discern from what the Court has said corporations like Hobby Lobby represent, there isn't any religious element that supports that recognition, just rights afforded the individual owners to conduct business. Nowhere in that recognition of corporate personhood by the Court is there any understanding that there is something integral, necessary, or even predominant about religious belief to the operation of these businesses or their ability to conduct business.

That's what the recognition of the Courts of corporations as persons was all about; not a refuge for religious belief. That refuge is already afforded to churches and synagogues. For instance, you can't apply most discrimination laws in the hiring of clergy. That refuge for religiosity isn't incorporated into any understanding the Court has determined as a necessity for conducting business.

Besides, the entire rationale for recognizing corporations was to separate the businesses from the owners. Hobby Lobby and the Courts can't have it both ways. Either they are just an accountable owner and investors, or they are a corporation of interests.

A corporation can't hold or express a religious belief; they're not afforded religious liberty, so there is none to be restrained by complying with the mandate. And, remember, all rights afforded to individuals can't be reasonably applied to corporations . . . Second Amendment, Fifth . . .

Correct me where I'm wrong here, because I'm obviously no expert.
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