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Member since: Wed Mar 16, 2005, 11:12 AM
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Attention! This Is a Terrorist Alert!


No agencies have an easier time justifying their existence with public relations releases than the intelligence services. If something happens, they were right all along; if nothing happens, they were right all along, too.

Attention! This Is a Terrorist Alert!
Die Tageszeitung, GermanyBy Bettina Gaus
Translated By Ron Argentati
24 August 2013
Edited by Lau­rence Bouvard

Intelligence agencies have always excited public imagination, but these days you need an awful lot of imagination to picture what these agencies do. Sure, we can get a fair mental image of how a telephone tapping operation on terrorist suspects goes down, but how can we know for sure how the conversation went?

Something like this, perhaps: “Salaam alaikum. Could you tell me a bit more about our near-future plans?” “Alaikum salaam. It'll be a gigantic operation that will be a quick surprise somewhere in Europe.” Or maybe it would sound something like this: “I forgot the address of the dead letterbox. Could you give it to me again?” “Sure, no problem. You can find the details in outline form behind the yellow trashcan in the courtyard of the house at 42 Violet Lane.” Or like this: “Does the rabbit travel by train?” “Yes, and it will touch off the skyrockets somewhere in Europe.”

What joy an agent must get from eavesdropping on such an exchange! Maybe it was the same agent who once confused the area code for Washington, D.C. with the one for Egypt. According to the National Security Agency's own sources, that was one of the main reasons for the unnecessary and totally illegal tapping of thousands of phones belonging to U.S. citizens.

But now they finally have a chance to remove that stain from their reputation — and to simultaneously alert their allies, some of whom have begun to voice their displeasure that the American agencies have been collecting any sort of data they can get their hands on. Now we'll show them how useful it can be when their friends are so vigilant!
Posted by unhappycamper | Tue Aug 27, 2013, 05:45 AM (3 replies)

Codename 'Apalachee': How America Spies on Europe and the UN


President Obama promised that NSA surveillance activities were aimed exclusively at preventing terrorist attacks. But secret documents from the intelligence agency show that the Americans spy on Europe, the UN and other countries.

Codename 'Apalachee': How America Spies on Europe and the UN
By Laura Poitras, Marcel Rosenbach and Holger Stark
August 26, 2013 – 11:58 AM

The European Union building on New York's Third Avenue is an office tower with a glittering facade and an impressive view of the East River. Chris Matthews, the press officer for the EU delegation to the United Nations, opens the ambassadors' room on the 31st floor, gestures toward a long conference table and says: "This is where all ambassadors from our 28 members meet every Tuesday at 9 a.m." It is the place where Europe seeks to forge a common policy on the UN.

To mark the official opening of the delegation's new offices in September 2012, EU Commission President José Manuel Barroso and EU Council President Herman Van Rompuy flew in from Brussels, and UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon was on hand as guest of honor. For "old" Europe -- which finances over one-third of the regular UN budget -- this was a confirmation of its geopolitical importance.

For the National Security Agency (NSA), America's powerful intelligence organization, the move was above all a technical challenge. A new office means freshly painted walls, untouched wiring and newly installed computer networks -- in other words, loads of work for the agents. While the Europeans were still getting used to their glittering new offices, NSA staff had already acquired the building's floor plans. The drawings completed by New York real estate company Tishman Speyer show precisely to scale how the offices are laid out. Intelligence agents made enlarged copies of the areas were the data servers are located. At the NSA, the European mission near the East River is referred to by the codename "Apalachee".

The floor plans are part of the NSA's internal documents relating to its operations targeting the EU. They come from whistleblower Edward Snowden, and SPIEGEL has been able to view them. For the NSA, they formed the basis for an intelligence-gathering operation -- but for US President Barack Obama they have now become a political problem.

unhappycamper comment: The NSA has now become an election issue in Germany --> http://www.thenewstribune.com/2013/08/25/2749280/merkel-rival-suspend-trade-talks.html
Posted by unhappycamper | Mon Aug 26, 2013, 06:25 AM (0 replies)

Corporate ineptitude in Navy contract looms over union drive


Corporate ineptitude in Navy contract looms over union drive
by: Mark Gruenberg
August 5 2013

MOBILE, Ala. - Corporate ineptitude on a big U.S. Navy shipbuilding contract in Mobile, Ala., is looming over the latest organizing drive among Austal shipyard workers there, a drive run by the AFL-CIO's Metal Trades Department.

As a result, one point that department President Ron Ault makes to Pentagon officials to get them to ban Austal from using taxpayer dollars to defeat the union organizers is to explain that a unionized workforce at the yard would help solve the mess in Mobile.

MTD's drive at Austal USA is important for several reasons. One is that success would add yet another Navy-oriented shipyard full of union workers, preventing builders from undercutting union workers elsewhere. A second is unionizing Austal would be yet another beachhead - aiding underpaid, exploited workers - in the anti-union South.

Right now, there are two battles brewing in the Austal shipyard, where workers toil at constructing the littoral combat ship (LCS), a multipurpose warship that is supposed to be able to sail with a relatively small crew and easy ability to change missions by changing modules of high-tech equipment.
Posted by unhappycamper | Sun Aug 25, 2013, 10:03 AM (0 replies)

Army Center for Substance Abuse Programs: Bankrupt at the Top, Ignoring Soldier Needs


Army Center for Substance Abuse Programs: Bankrupt at the Top, Ignoring Soldier Needs
by John Stanton
August 24, 2013 - 9:18am

In March of 2012 an article was published outlining some of the allegations of fraud, waste and abuse within the US Army’s Center for Substance Abuse Programs (ACSAP). Since the publication of that piece, sources say, only minor changes were made: one employee resigned, another was reprimanded.

Indeed, sources now report that the ACSAP program has become a lucrative for-profit business operating within the US Federal government (ostensibly a non-profit operation). ACSAP management there, Leslie McFarling and Rhonda Earl, appear to be heading a Tammany Hall operation whose focus is securing positions for close comrades and relatives, not the health of the US military personnel and, of course, their families/communities who ultimately must care for the active or returning soldier.

If the allegations are correct, then the fault for this ultimately rests with uniformed US Army commanders. They are responsible for overseeing private contractors and/or revolving door personnel whose loyalty is to profit, not military personnel or the US Constitution.

Sources claim that ACSAP leadership (McFarling and Earl) are “unethical and corrupt.” They say that personnel brought into the program are unqualified. Moreover, they claim that the products and services that are offered to US military personnel are of low quality and, hence, do not “meet the needs of the military personnel.”
Posted by unhappycamper | Sun Aug 25, 2013, 08:31 AM (0 replies)

Nat Guard budget pinch


Everything on table under sequestration, including merger Guard, Reserves

Nat Guard budget pinch
By Gretel C. Kovachnoon
Aug. 24, 2013


Nationally, the Guard expects to lose about 15 percent of its budget in fiscal 2014. Last week the Army Chief of Staff directed all two-star headquarters and above to cut their budgets 25 percent.

The "very, very scary"¯ developments are looming over the next five years, with the Army taking from a projected $18.6 billion annual budget cut to more than $78 billion under full sequestration - and we absolutely believe that will likely happen,ā€¯ Beevers said.

"I don't think we can survive that. It's not going to be a pretty thing at all," he said. "The spending reductions are going to be so, so significant that we will be forced to do something, and it's going to be a huge challenge."

One option may be to consolidate the National Guard and Army Reserve and place them both under "Title 32" authority, answering to the governor in each state as well as the president, he said.

unhappycamper comment: Get over it.
Posted by unhappycamper | Sun Aug 25, 2013, 08:03 AM (0 replies)

(Really) Young recruits graduate at Pendleton


Young Marines opens new recruit training session

Young recruits graduate at Pendleton
By Linda McIntosh
6:30 a.m.Aug. 23, 2013

CAMP PENDLETON — Thirteen youth from North County and surrounding areas earned the title of Young Marines after completing several weekends of training at Camp Pendleton. The group of boys and girls ages 8 to 18 graduated from recruit training and joined the ranks of Eagle Young Marines during a ceremony Aug. 10 on base. The guest speaker was Oceanside Mayor Jim Wood, a supporter of the program.


Once students complete recruit training, they can join Young Marine encampments and class sessions that build leadership skills. Students advance through the ranks as they prove themselves.

The training instills discipline, leadership and teamwork“ it strengthens kids mentally and physically,ā€¯ said Patti Siegmann, executive officer for the Eagle Young Marines. Siegmann, a retired Marine who runs the program with her husband, Dwayne Siegmann, also a retired Marine, who serves as the group's commanding officer

Young Marine's training covers topics ranging from citizenship, drug education and military courtesy to Marine Corps history, military terms and the Pledge of Allegiance. The program includes exercises to build physical fitness and classes on subjects such as land navigation and compass training, close order drill and mountain survival.
Posted by unhappycamper | Sun Aug 25, 2013, 07:49 AM (3 replies)

Things to Know as Collapse Becomes Hip


Things to Know as Collapse Becomes Hip
Saturday, 24 August 2013 01:43
By Jan Lundberg, Truthout | Op-Ed

A consensus seems to be building toward anticipating collapse. So what's your flavor? Financial meltdown with chaos? Petrocollapse? Climate extinction? The contributing crises are seemingly diverse, including Fukushima's mounting radioactive releases into the Pacific, the growing plastic plague and creeping GMO contamination. If none of those are your thing, you can acknowledge accelerating bee colony collapse.

You may feel the days of "innocence" have receded in the rear-view mirror as we drive off the ecological cliff like motorized lemmings. Even so, maybe you see such resilience in the corporate state and its war machine that you anticipate dictatorship ą la Children of Men, the ominous film set in 2027.

It appears that things must get worse before they get better. The United States has become especially absurd with its intensifying mess of debt and flailing leadership. If a major event in the Persian Gulf or China can trigger the toppling of the US House of Cards, increased consumer vulnerability must be the order of the day. It is surprising to some that total collapse has not yet happened, but news such as record new car sales in July suggests the entire system can keep on going indefinitely. Such news supplies happy-talk for the embattled corporate agenda.


Is this a wake-up call or just part of the relentless barrage of disillusion? What about things the four-fifths can do now that they are not doing? Are they - we - helpless victims? We'll need to do more than wait for the next election, write to Congress or demonstrate in the streets against economic hardship and mismanagement. Yet many of the four-fifths still assume that they can rise above any temporary period of struggling and that money will solve their problems. Meanwhile, the holy grail of national Recovery beckons without arriving.
Posted by unhappycamper | Sun Aug 25, 2013, 07:13 AM (1 replies)

Does the World Care? 1 Mn Syrian Children Refugees & Aid Money Running Out


Does the World Care? 1 Mn Syrian Children Refugees & Aid Money Running Out
Posted on 08/25/2013 by Juan Cole

The Syrian conflict has produced a massive refugee problem, and it reached a new level of horror this week with news that the UN High Commission on Refugees estimates that there are a million children refugees alone. UN resources for dealing with this problem are fast dwindling and donor pledges are falling short.

Note that Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates were able to find $12 billion for Egypt’s military junta when it repressed their rival, the Muslim Brotherhood. The same countries have supported the Syrian uprising and have a responsibility to these Arab children, whose lives are being blighted by lack of sanitation and lack of education.


The United Nations News Service writes:

23 August 2013 – Three years of bloodshed in Syria have driven one million children from their homeland, United Nations agencies said today as they marked this “shameful milestone” by urging the entire international community to do more to help end the conflict and protect the well-being of “a generation of innocents.”

“This one millionth child refugee is not just another number,” said the Executive Director of the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) Anthony Lake. “This is a real child ripped from home, maybe even from a family, facing horrors we can only begin to comprehend.”

unhappycamper comment: The United States cannot send money but we can send weapons.
Posted by unhappycamper | Sun Aug 25, 2013, 06:48 AM (2 replies)

Our View: Make sure the ships work


Our View: Make sure the ships work
Aug. 22, 2013


But the Navy needs to get this right. The ships — being built in Marinette and Mobile, Ala. — cost up to $480 million each and could eventually comprise one-third of the U.S. surface fleet.

A recent report from the Government Accountability Office has raised concerns that the ships may not perform as expected. As the Journal Sentinel's Rick Barrett noted in a recent article, the program has been dogged by problems, including early cost overruns. In addition, the completed ships have suffered from mechanical problems as well as from delays in producing switchable mission modules aimed at making the ships adaptable to varied types of warfare.

Testing has revealed deficiencies with "core ship systems," according to the July 25 GAO report, which says Congress should consider restricting funding for additional littoral combat ships until the Navy completes technical and design studies. On top of that, the Navy is still considering design changes to the ships.

This all could be a recipe for disaster. Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) is among critics of the program. "LCS must not be allowed to become yet another failed program in an already unacceptably long list of amorphous acronyms that, after squandering literally billions of taxpayer dollars, have long since lost meaning," McCain said on the Senate floor in July, citing several recent Army, Air Force and Navy programs such as the presidential helicopter replacement program.
Posted by unhappycamper | Sat Aug 24, 2013, 09:17 AM (0 replies)

Obama DOJ Asks Court to Grant Immunity to George W. Bush For Iraq War


Obama DOJ Asks Court to Grant Immunity to George W. Bush For Iraq War
By davidswanson - Posted on 20 August 2013

SAN FRANCISCO, Calif., (Aug. 20, 2013) — In court papers filed today (PDF), the United States Department of Justice requested that George W. Bush, Richard Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Colin Powell, Condoleezza Rice and Paul Wolfowitz be granted procedural immunity in a case alleging that they planned and waged the Iraq War in violation of international law.

Plaintiff Sundus Shaker Saleh, an Iraqi single mother and refugee now living in Jordan, filed a complaint in March 2013 in San Francisco federal court alleging that the planning and waging of the war constituted a “crime of aggression” against Iraq, a legal theory that was used by the Nuremberg Tribunal to convict Nazi war criminals after World War II.

"The DOJ claims that in planning and waging the Iraq War, ex-President Bush and key members of his Administration were acting within the legitimate scope of their employment and are thus immune from suit,” chief counsel Inder Comar of Comar Law said.

The “Westfall Act certification,” submitted pursuant to the Westfall Act of 1988, permits the Attorney General, at his or her discretion, to substitute the United States as the defendant and essentially grant absolute immunity to government employees for actions taken within the scope of their employment.
Posted by unhappycamper | Sat Aug 24, 2013, 07:26 AM (9 replies)
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