June 14th, 2013
CR Note: Either way, the actions of the NSA (etc.) remain the same. BEYOND unacceptable.
While some initially championed Edward Snowden, the 21st century mole holed up in Hong Kong, as a martyr, there also appears to be a growing backlash against the former NSA contractor. And as the story slowly unfolds, one key question stands out: is Snowden the heroic whistleblower he claims to be or something more sinister?
During one of his first newspaper interviews, when he spilled national security secrets, Snowden called himself “just another guy who sits there day to day in the office.” But now some are questioning his motives and wondering whether claims that he wanted to right a perceived wrong are true -- or whether he could be a modern-day double agent, cleverly hiding his actions and painting himself as a victim of the U.S. government while working as an agent for the Chinese.
Gordon Chang, author of “The Coming Collapse of China,” thinks there’s a strong possibility Snowden could be playing for both sides.
“The first clue is that he goes to Hong Kong and they have an extradition agreement with the U.S. and a tradition of close cooperation of law enforcement,” Chang told Fox. “That means, the only thing that stands between him and a lifetime in a super-max prison is Beijing.”
Chang also says the timing of Snowden’s disclosures are suspect.
“He changed the global narrative of China hacking into the U.S. to the American government going after one of its own,” Chang said.
The first of Snowden’s disclosures came right before President Obama met with new Chinese President Xi Jinping.
“That really derailed Obama’s whole talk about cyber security,” he said, adding, “the most rrecent revelations have been about operational details of the NSA spying on Hong Kong and China. This only helps Beijing.”
Chang says it’s likely Snowden went public with his claims because he was tipped off that the NSA was on to him.
Snowden’s most recent claims to the South China Morning Post are that the NSA has more than 61,000 hacking operations globally, the NSA has been hacking computers in Hong Kong and China since 2009 and that the Chinese targets included universities, public officials, businesses and students.
Chang said that if Snowden flees to China "“basically that puts him in a place where U.S. authorities can’t get to him and that’s important because it lets him pretty much do what he wants. And perhaps the issue is that he wasn’t on his own. That he did this with the help of someone else.”
Chang believes that it would be very difficult for Snowden to get the amount of data he got in such a short period of time and from a position where most people didn’t think it would be possible.
Chang also says the time Snowden spent in Hawaii could provide clues as to his true intentions.
“There are a lot of federal agencies in Hawaii where he was and this is a very critical place because this is where we do our surveillance of China,” he said.
For now, what is clear is that there are many more questions that need to be asked and answered.
Here’s what we do know: Snowden was a contractor who allegedly looked at documents he wasn’t supposed to see, took them, fled to another country and is now claiming he did so because he was trying to bring an injustice to light.
On Friday, Attorney General Eric Holder called the NSA leaks “extremely damaging.”
"The national security of the United States has been damaged as a result those leaks," he said.. "The safety of the American people and the safety of people who reside in allied nations have been put at risk as a result of these leaks," Holder said. "We are presently in the process of that investigation, and I'm confident the person who is responsible will be held accountable."
The attorney general made the comment in Dublin, Ireland, when asked by reporters why the U.S. hasn't taken steps to arrest Snowden.
Snowden’s background isn’t squeaky clean. During the eight years that he worked as a contractor for the Central Intelligence Agency and NSA, he routinely went online and ranted against corporations and citizen surveillance.
Records show that Snowden was employed by an unidentified classified agency in Washington from 2005 to mid-2006, by the CIA from 2006 to 2009, when he primarily worked overseas, and by Dell Inc from 2009 to 2013, when he worked in the U.S. and Japan as an NSA contractor. During those years, he posted hundreds of messages on a public Internet forum under a pseudonym.
"I can't hope to change the way things are going by overtly complaining, writing letters, or blowing things up," Snowden wrote in 2003 in response to a discussion about corporate greed on the Ars Technica online forum.
The new information released by Reuters and Time Magazine about Snowden’s employment record, online postings and education come during a time when U.S. lawmakers are demanding answers from intelligence officials on how Snowden, a high-school dropout, got his hands on the country’s top secret programs.
Snowden, 29, fled to Hong Kong with a batch of classified material he allegedly stole from the NSA. The former Booz Allen Hamilton contractor initially said it was his conscience that drove him to expose the “massive surveillance machine the U.S. government is secretly building.”
On Friday, The Global Times, a Communist Party-backed newspaper in China, ran an editorial in both its Chinese and English-language editions that argued Snowden should not be sent back to the U.S. because his revelations about American surveillance programs concern China’s national interest. The paper also cited Beijing's rocky relations with the U.S. and says the Chinese would be unhappy if Snowden were sent back.
The editorial also argued that Snowden could provide Chinese officials with once-classified U.S. intelligence, which would help the country update its understanding of cyberspace.
Richard Haass, president of the Council on Foreign Relations recently tweeted, “Why is the media using sympathetic word ‘whistleblower’ for Edward #Snowden, who leaked secret #NSA program? He broke the law & made us less safe.”
He added, “A ‘whistleblower’ is person who reveals wrongdoing, corruption, illegal activity. None of this applies here even if you oppose US (government) policy.”
June 14th, 2013
According to a confidential internal planning document obtained by The Washington Post, hundreds of Secret Service agents will be dispatched to secure facilities in Senegal, South Africa, and Tanzania, which the first family will visit from June 26 to July 3.
A Navy aircraft carrier or amphibious ship, with a fully staffed medical trauma center, will be stationed offshore in case of an emergency.
In addition, military cargo planes will airlift in 56 support vehicles, including 14 limousines and three trucks carrying bulletproof glass to cover the windows of the hotels where the Obamas will stay. And fighter jets will fly in shifts to provide around the clock coverage over the president's airspace.
The president and first lady Michelle Obama also had planned to take a Tanzanian safari during the trip, which would have required a special counterassault team to carry sniper rifles in the event of a threat from wild animals, the Post reported, citing the document.
But the safari was canceled in favor of a trip to Robben Island off the coast of Cape Town, South Africa, where Nelson Mandela was held as a political prisoner, officials told the newspaper
June 14th, 2013
WASHINGTON – The explosion of intelligence-gathering scandals is giving the left time to get its story straight, at least, on the IRS scandal.
The IRS’ targeting of conservative groups has fallen out of public view, at least momentarily, as the NSA and PRISM data-collection scandals have burst onto the scene.
But, behind the scenes, the left is catching its breath and regrouping, having come up with what it says is an explanation for at least 157 visits to the White House by former IRS Director Douglas Shulman between 2010 and 2012.
By comparison, Shulman’s predecessor Mark Everson visited the White House only one time in four years during the George W. Bush administration, according to the Daily Caller.
The much greater number of visits by Shulman made many people skeptical of his claim that he never discussed the targeting of conservatives with anyone at the White House.
Now, the Atlantic has pushed the narrative that it was really only 11 visits, not 157.
The liberal magazine said White House logs show Shulman signed in only 11 times.
“According to the White House records, Shulman signed in twice in 2009, five times in 2010, twice in 2011 and twice in 2012,” the Atlantic reported.
But that’s no proof Shulman visited the White House only 11 times, or even fewer than 157 times. As the Atlantic also acknowledged, the number of times he signed in “does not mean that he did not go to other meetings, only that the White House records do not show he went to the 157 meetings he was granted Secret Service clearance to attend.”
That’s because Cabinet members and other important visitors often don’t sign in when they visit the White House.
The Atlantic also conceded that point, noting confirmation of the visits “don’t always show up in the visitor’s access records.”
“Neither do visits by staffers, journalists covering large events, or people who enter the White House grounds in their pre-cleared cars, like Cabinet members, who do not wait for badge swipes at the gate with the policymaking hoi polloi.”
The Atlantic also maintained Shulman was in the White House to discuss implementation of Obamacare because he was “cleared 40 times to meet with Obama’s director of the Office of Health Reform, and a further 80 times for the biweekly health reform deputies meetings and others set up by aides involved with the health-care law implementation efforts.”
But if that were so, why did Shulman have such difficulty explaining to a congressional committee the purpose of his visits, citing as his No. 1 reason the Easter Egg Roll?
When asked by a Democrat on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, Rep. Gerald Conolly, D-Va., why he visited the White House so often during a two year period, Shulman responded: “Um, the Easter Egg Roll with my kids, questions about the administrability of tax policy they were thinking of, our budget, us helping the Department of Education streamline application processes for financial aid.”
Not one mention of Obamacare.
A former White House staffer says the sheer numbers make it hard to believe the IRS did not make the White House aware of the targeting of conservatives long before it became public knowledge.
Doug Wead served in the administrations of both President George W. Bush and his father, George H.W. Bush. Wead noted: “Sarah Hall Ingram, the woman responsible for the IRS division that targeted conservative and constitutional groups, made 165 visits to the White House since 2011″ making for a total of 322 visits between her and her boss, Shulman.
Between the two of them, he calculated, that’s almost one visit every other working day.
Wead wondered: “[C]an one meet with the president hundreds of times and not talk about ones work? Isn’t the president too busy to talk about life? Or to quiz an IRS official about personal gossip at the agency? Wouldn’t a chief executive want to know what she is doing and how she is doing it? And would she really make hundreds of visits without the details of her work ever coming up? What would be the purpose of the visits?”
He is particularly skeptical of Ingram. He said “the administrator of the IRS division that targeted conservative groups, the one who made 165 visits to the White House and supposedly never uttered a word about what she was doing, was given a $100,000 bonus and promoted to run the enforcement of ObamaCare. What is that? Coincidence? A payoff?”
The IRS scandal likely won’t stay out of the headlines much longer.
Chairman Issa is planning to haul Lois Lerner back before his House oversight committee.
Lerner is the former head of the IRS tax-exempt division who attempted to invoke her Fifth Amendment right to refuse to answer questions before the committee in May.
However, she first read a statement claiming her innocence. Issa’s spokesman, Ali Ahmed, said that after consulting with counsel, Issa has concluded that Lerner’s Fifth Amendment assertion is no longer valid.
Lerner has blamed the entire scandal on two low-level IRS employees in the Cincinnati office.
However, two workers in that office have since told reporters their work was tightly supervised by superiors in Washington.
More from Garth Kant at WND
Thursday, June 13th, 2013 by Garth Kant -- WASHINGTON — Rep. Michele Bachmann has a plan to stop an amnesty bill from sneaking through the House of Representatives like a "Trojan horse." She and other conservative lawmakers more…
Thursday, June 13th, 2013 by Garth Kant -- WASHINGTON — Even the ranking Democrat expressed concern about the Obama administration's snooping scandals in his opening remarks, as FBI Director Robert Mueller appeared before the House Judiciary more…
Wednesday, June 12th, 2013 by Garth Kant -- By Garth Kant WASHINGTON -- Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., has two dire warnings for America in an exclusive interview with WND. * Don't count on the House to more…
June 13th, 2013
In other words, "I know nothing, I see nothing and I'm clueless."
Pretty much the response of virtually every Obama Cabinet Leader.
But..."What difference does it make?"
Answer: None, we already know the overall answers......duplicitous incompetence.
The country’s top investigator seemed to be in the dark Thursday when pressed to provide details of the IRS investigation into the tax agency’s targeting of Tea Party and conservative groups.
Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, seemed to rattle FBI Director Robert Mueller for not knowing the specifics surrounding the IRS probe.
“You’ve had a month now to investigate,” Jordan said. “This has been the biggest story in the country and you can’t even tell me who the lead investigator is. You can’t tell me the actions the inspector general took which are not typically how investigations are done. You can’t tell me if that’s appropriate or not. This is not speculation. This is what happened.”
Mueller repeatedly declined to answer Jordan’s questions, saying he couldn’t because the investigation was ongoing or that he’d have to get back to the lawmakers with answers.
When Jordan asked again,” Can you tell me who the lead investigator is?” Mueller responded, “Off the top of my head, no.”
The day didn’t go much better for the outgoing FBI chief. He was grilled for hours by lawmakers on a number of different topics, including the federal government’s surveillance programs, the Benghazi scandal and the Boston Marathon bombings.
Mueller defended the government's collection of millions of U.S. phone records, emails and other information as vital to the nation's national security.
Early in the hearing, Mueller tried to make the case for the National Security Agency surveillance programs and said that law enforcement “must stay a step ahead of criminals and terrorists” while still heeding the civil liberties of Americans.
Mueller, who is stepping down from his post in September, said that if the metadata collection program had been in place before the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks, they would have identified one of the 9/11 hijackers in San Diego and most likely derailed the plot.
But Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers Jr. said he was “not persuaded that the argument makes it OK to collect information on every call,” adding, that by Mueller’s interpretation, it would be “anything and everything goes” situation.
Mueller also testified that the government’s controversial surveillance programs that recently surfaced complied “in full with U.S. law and with basic rights guaranteed under the Constitution.”
The Justice Department revealed last month that it had secretly gathered emails of Fox News correspondent James Rosen and phone records of The Associated Press in an effort to crack down on leakers of classified information.
The department later acknowledged that Attorney General Eric Holder was on board with a search warrant for Rosen's personal emails, obtained after federal officials accused him in an affidavit of being a likely criminal "co-conspirator" under a wartime law known as the Espionage Act.
Authorities also obtained phone records for Fox News lines, including those for a number that matched the number of Rosen's parents.
In the past week, a 29-year-old contractor leaked National Security Agency documents on the agency's collection of millions of U.S. phone records and the NSA's collection of emails and other information that people transmit online to and from foreign citizens.
That has touched off a national debate over whether the Obama administration, in its efforts to thwart terrorism, has overstepped by using intrusive surveillance methods.
Rep. Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., the committee's chairman, said when it comes to national security leaks, it's important to balance the need to protect secrecy with the need to let the news media do its job.
Goodlatte also said the committee planned to find out more about the status of what the congressman called the FBI's "stalled investigation" into the attack in Benghazi, Libya that killed four Americans, including the U.S. ambassador.
As for the Boston Marathon bombings, committee members want to know whether there was a breakdown in information-sharing between federal agencies, preventing the FBI from thwarting the explosions that killed three people and injured more than 260.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
June 13th, 2013
The US has neither Interests nor business in Syria. Period.
Those people are US hating Islamists and they are not going to change their viewpoint because we throw weapons or money at them--beyond wondering why we're so stunningly stupid.
Look at Iraq, loook at Libya, look anywhere in the Mideast. We need waste neither time nor treasure there, and yet we will.
By STEVE CHAGGARIS, STEPHANIE CONDON /
The Obama administration has concluded that Syrian President Bashar Assad's government used chemical weapons against the rebels seeking to overthrow him and, in a major policy shift, President Obama has decided to supply military support to the rebels, the White House announced Thursday.
"The president has made a decision about providing more support to the opposition that will involve providing direct support to the [Supreme Military Council]. That includes military support," Deputy National Security Adviser for Strategic Communication Ben Rhodes told reporters.
White House conference call with reporters
Focus on political resolution in Syria, says Sen. Reed
President Obama has repeatedly said that the use of chemical weapons is a "red line" that, if crossed, would be a "game changer" for more U.S. involvement in the Syrian civil war.
"The President has been clear that the use of chemical weapons - or the transfer of chemical weapons to terrorist groups - is a red line for the United States," said Rhodes in a separate written statement.
"The President has said that the use of chemical weapons would change his calculus, and it has," he continued.
In terms of further response, Rhodes said, "we will make decisions on our own timeline" and that Congress and the international community would be consulted. Mr. Obama is heading to Northern Ireland Sunday for a meeting of the G8 group of nations; Rhodes indicated the president will consult with leaders of those countries.
"Any future action we take will be consistent with our national interest, and must advance our objectives, which include achieving a negotiated political settlement to establish an authority that can provide basic stability and administer state institutions; protecting the rights of all Syrians; securing unconventional and advanced conventional weapons; and countering terrorist activity," Rhodes said.
To date, the U.S. policy on Syria has primarily focused on offering the rebels nonlethal assistance and humanitarian aid.
Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., who met with the rebels last month and has been a vocal critic of the president's Syria policy said in a joint statement with Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C.: "We appreciate the President's finding that the Assad regime has used chemical weapons on several occasions. We also agree with the President that this fact must affect U.S. policy toward Syria. The President's red line has been crossed. U.S. credibility is on the line. Now is not the time to merely take the next incremental step. Now is the time for more decisive actions."
"A decision to provide lethal assistance, especially ammunition and heavy weapons, to opposition forces in Syria is long overdue, and we hope the President will take this urgently needed step" they added. Former President Bill Clinton this week, at a private event with McCain, also ratcheted up pressure for the White House to increase its support to the rebels.
However, Rhodes would not detail the type of military support the administration intends on providing. He said helping the opposition improve their effectiveness as a fighting force means helping with "nonlethal assistance" such as communications equipment and transportation. "These are things that allow them to cohere as a unit," he said.
He added, meanwhile, that no decision has been made about enforcing a no-fly zone over Syria. "A no-fly zone... would carry with it open-ended costs for the international community," Rhodes said. "Furthermore, there's not even a clear guarantee that it would dramatically improve the situation on the ground."