US expands global drone warfare

Thomas Gaist

In what the Washington Post describes as the “next phase of drone warfare,” the Obama administration is set to “extend the Pentagon’s robust surveillance networks far beyond traditional, declared combat zones.” According to the Post, Washington is set to deploy the drone fleet to new areas across the globe, where it will be used to monitor drug runners, pirates and “other targets that worry US officials.”

A Defense Department spokeswoman said the military is “committed to increasing” drone activities throughout Asia and the Pacific. The Post also cites Colombia as a war theater that will likely see increased use of American drones, although US drones have already been engaged in operations against “narco-terrorists” in collaboration with the Colombian military.

“Surveillance drones could really help us out and really take the heat and wear and tear off of some of our manned aviation assets,” Marine Gen. John F. Kelly, head of the US Southern Command, said in March.

While Obama has claimed that “the tide of war is receding,” actually the US government is intensifying military operations worldwide. During the past decade, the Pentagon has assembled a fleet of hundreds of high-altitude, “unmanned aerial vehicles” (UAVs), which now carry out missions on a daily basis in service of the strategic aims of US imperialism. The “Predator” drone series alone has carried out at least 80,000 sorties in conflict areas including Afghanistan, Pakistan, Bosnia, Serbia, Iraq, Yemen, Libya and Somalia.

America and Germany: Longstanding Espionage Partners

Stephen Lendman

German artist Oliver Bienkowski, who projected the words ‘United
Stasi of America
’ together with a picture of Kim Dotcom on to the
wall of the US embassy in Berlin, may face criminal charges. Investi-
gation has been launched into whether Bienkowski’s action falls under
the category of “slander against the organizations and representatives
of a foreign state
,” Berlin-based Der Tagesspiegel newspaper reports.

A previous article discussed Stasi. It was East Germany's secret police. It was one of the most repressive state apparatuses in modern times. Its infamous reputation speaks for itself.

It's reincarnated in new form. Given today's state-of-the-art technology. It's worse now than then. The previous article said the following:

On July 7, Der Spiegel headlined "Snowden claims: NSA Ties Put German Intelligence in Tight Spot." They're in bed together. NSA partners with foreign intelligence in other countries. Its Foreign Affairs Directorate [BND] does so. It's done in ways to insulate their political leaders from the backlash. It's precautionary in case people learn how grievously they're violating global privacy.

BND/NSA cooperation is far greater than previously known. At issue are serious violations of Germany's privacy laws. According to Der Spiegel, NSA provides "analysis tools":

They're for BND's signals monitoring of foreign data streams that travel through Germany. Besides other areas, BND focuses on the Middle East route through which data packets from crisis regions travel. Der Spiegel said BND pulls data from five different nodes that are then analyzed at the foreign intelligence service's headquarters in Pullach near Munich. Gerhard Schindler heads it. He confirmed the partnership during a meeting with members of the German parliament's control committee for intelligence issues.

Snowden told Der Spiegel that German outrage over NSA spying was pretense. Both countries work closely together. Relations are longstanding. Current operations far exceed Stasi's.

Zionists design myth of Jewish genome to usurp Palestine

Jim W. Dean

On December 14, 2012, Dr. Eran Elhaik turned almost two generations of Jewish genome research upside down. But he went even further. The young Israeli-Ameican geneticist has charged former researchers with academic fraud, and he has the research to back it up.

How could those those eminent Jewish scientist before him have been so wrong? Easy says Dr. Elhaik, “First these researchers decided what conclusions they wanted to find, and then they set off to find evidence to support it.” I was not bashing Jewish scientists. What Elhaik has described is a slam dunk fraud.

But why? Why would Jews who take such pride in the academic achievement risk exposing themselves to a group deception which was bound to be discovered later? Dr. Elhaik does not delve into the quicksand of the politics, but I will gladly do so.

They perpetrated the fraud solely to support the bogus biblical claim to Palestine which was anchored in their being a separate people. This distinguished them from all others because they claimed a land title in their blood. They bet the farm on this DNA proof of purchase, a God given bar coded passport to the Palestine. Dr. Ehaik just erased the bar code. It was just stamped on anyway, because it was never in the blood.

Aafia Siddiqui: Victim of US Injustice

Stephen Lendman

She's one of thousands of US political prisoners. She's well known. She committed no crimes. She's been brutalized in captivity. Mercy isn't in America's vocabulary. Rogue states operate that way. Washington's by far the worst.

It reportedly agreed to Pakistan's extradition terms. Both sides will swap prisoners. Previous articles discussed her 2003 abduction, detention, torture, false charges, prosecution, and conviction. More on that below.

On July 20, the Pakistan Observer headlined "US agrees on Aafia's Siddiqui's extradition," saying: "In a major breakthrough, the US has offered Pakistan to sign prisoner swap agreement for the extradition of Dr Aafia Siddiqi, after which the Pakistani scientist will be allowed to serve the remaining part of her imprisonment in homeland." Pakistan foreign office spokesman Uman Hameed said terms include other prisoner swaps.

Washington offered Pakistan two deals. They include the European Convention on the Transfer of Sentenced Persons and Inter-American Convention on Serving Criminal Sentences Abroad.

On July 20, Justice for Aafia Coalition (JAC) headlined "The Family of Aafia Siddiqui and the Aafia Movement welcomes development on Aafia issue," saying: "(I)t appears some steps are finally being taken towards" repatriating her. She's called "the daughter of our Nation." Previous steps forward ended up two back. "We are hopeful" what's announced is genuine.

America can't be trusted. It's duplicitous. It's uncertain what's next. Promises made are broken. Aafia's been in limbo for years. It remains to be seen what follows. Will she or won't she be extradited? Nothing's guaranteed. Not in deals with America. Promises made are broken. It's standard rogue state practice. Both prisoner exchange conventions are similar. The Inter-American one is simpler. If both sides agree, Aafia can be returned in weeks.

College Girls, Bottled Water and the Emerging American Police State

John W. Whitehead

UVA student Elizabeth Daly was
booked on three felony charges after
an encounter with ABC agents in the
Harris Teeter parking lot.
(The Hook)

What do college girls and bottled water have to do with the emerging American police state? Quite a bit, it seems.

Public outcry has gone viral over an incident in which a college student was targeted and terrorized by Alcohol Beverage Control agents (ABC) after she purchased sparkling water at a grocery store. The girl and her friends were eventually jailed for daring to evade their accosters, who failed to identify themselves or approach the young women in a non-threatening manner.

What makes this particular incident significant (other than the fact that it took place in my hometown of Charlottesville, Va.) is the degree to which it embodies all that is wrong with law enforcement today, both as it relates to the citizenry and the ongoing undermining of our rule of law. To put it bluntly, due in large part to the militarization of the police and the equipping of a wide range of government agencies with weaponry, we are moving into a culture in which law enforcement officials have developed a sense of entitlement that is at odds with the spirit of our Constitution—in particular, the Fourth Amendment.

The incident took place late in the evening of April 11, 2013. Several University of Virginia college students, including 20-year-old Elizabeth Daly, were leaving the Harris Teeter grocery store parking lot after having purchased a variety of foodstuffs for an Alzheimer’s Association sorority charity benefit that evening, including sparkling water, ice cream and cookie dough, when they noticed a man staring at them as they walked to their car in the back of the parking lot.

What's Next for Syria?

Stephen Lendman

Imagine the worst ahead. Survival's up for grabs.

Conflict drags on interminably. Dozens or more die daily. Syrian forces outmatch Western-backed death squad terrorists. They're not rebels. They're lawless invaders. They're US proxy fighters. They're imported from dozens of countries. They're waging war against sovereign Syrian independence. Don't expect duplicitous Western politicians or media scoundrels to explain.

Assad's military outguns and outflanks Washington's shock troops. Reinforcements keep coming. Libya 2.0 looks possible. Perhaps likely.

Russia hopes for a September international peace conference. Originally a June one was planned. Why bother when Washington prioritizes war. It spurns peace. Last year's conference failed. Expect nothing different this time. Peace remains elusive. Advocates have no partners.

According to European Council president Herman Van Rompuy: "A military solution to the crisis is impossible. (T)he solution is only diplomatic." Conflict can end soon. It can happen if Washington calls off its dogs. It shouldn't have unleashed them in the first place. Syria is Obama's war. He began it. He can end it.[*]

Global Fascism: A Fishpond Stocked With Fish...

David Bromwich

The crux of the NSA story in one phrase: 'collect it all'.
~ Glenn Greenwald

Most Americans who know anything about the National Security Agency probably got their mental picture of it from a 1998 thriller called Enemy of the State. A lawyer (Will Smith), swept up by mistake into the system of total surveillance, suddenly finds his life turned upside down, his family watched and harassed, his livelihood taken from him and the records of his conduct altered and criminalised. He is saved by a retired NSA analyst (Gene Hackman) who knows the organisation from innards to brains and hates every cog and gear that drives it. This ally is a loner. He has pulled back his way of life and associations to a minimum, and lives now in a desolate building called The Jar, which he has proofed against spying and tricked out with anti-listening armour, decoy-signal devices and advanced encryption-ware. From his one-man fortress, he leads the hero to turn the tables on the agency and to expose one of its larger malignant operations.

Michael Hayden, who became the director of the NSA in 1999, saw the movie and told his workers they had an image problem: the agency had to change its ways and inspire the trust of citizens. But in 2001 Hayden, like many other Americans, underwent a galvanic change of consciousness and broke through to the other side. In the new era, in order to fight a new enemy, he saw that the United States must be equipped with a secret police as inquisitive and capable as the police of a totalitarian state, though of course more scrupulous.

Gripped by the same fever and an appetite for power all his own, Dick Cheney floated the idea of Total Information Awareness (soliciting Americans to spy on their neighbours to fight terrorism), but found the country not yet ready for it. So he took the project underground and executed it in secret. Cheney issued the orders, his lawyer David Addington drew up the rationale, and Hayden at NSA made the practical arrangements. Eventually Cheney would appoint Hayden director of the CIA.

Magic carpet ride

Pepe Escobar

Dashte Laili, Northern Afghanistan (Everything Afghanistan)

I've got to confess that Anna Badkhen beat me to it. Sometimes I have the feeling the world is a carpet. She went one up, writing a marvelously evocative book with the same title, centered on a village in Northern Afghanistan so remote that Google Maps cannot find it.

This is a book for those who love the Silk Road; who love Afghanistan; who love carpets; and all of the above. The Roving Eye fits all these descriptions; no wonder Badkhen's delicate tale projected me on a magic carpet ride down memory lane, as I retraced my own steps over the years in bits and pieces of the Silk Road, from Balkh to Bukhara, from Herat to Hamadan; and all these roads, of course, were paved with carpets.

Historic Khorasan - which includes Northern Afghanistan - is quite special. Around Balkh, Turkomen have been spinning wool for 7,000 years. People are born on carpets. They pray on carpets. They sleep on carpets. They even adorn their tombs with carpets.

When Alexander the Great conquered Khorasan in 327 BC he sent his mum, Olympias, a carpet as a souvenir of his victory in Balkh. Balkh is the fabled feudal capital, now in ruins (blame the Mongols) about 36 kilometers southwest of Oqa - the beyond-the-reach-of-the-NSA village in the salt-frosted Afghan desert where Badkhen chose to follow one year in the life of Thawra's mud-and-dung loom room as she weaves a yusufi, a magnificent carpet.

US Courts Approve Indefinite Detention and Torture

Stephen Lendman

America's a police state. It's ruthless. Iron fist authority rules. International law's quaint and out-of-date. US statute protections aren't worth the paper they're written on. Constitutional rights don't matter. They never did for most people. It's truer now than ever. They're null and void. Executive diktat power rules. Congress and federal courts go along. They're complicit. They support sweeping lawlessness. It's unprecedented. It affects domestic and geopolitical issues. No one's safe anywhere.

Obama has life and death powers. He can order anyone murdered. He can do so on his say alone. US citizens are as vulnerable as foreign nationals. He can order anyone indefinitely detained. He can throw them in military dungeons. He can deny them due process and judicial fairness. They can remain there uncharged and untried. They can stay there forever. They can be brutally tortured. It's OK. Federal courts said so. More on that below.

Section 1031 of the FY 2010 Defense Authorization Act contained the 2009 Military Commissions Act (MCA). The phrase "unprivileged enemy belligerent" replaced "unlawful enemy combatant." Language changed but not intent or lawlessness. Obama did what supporters thought impossible. He exceeds the worst of George Bush. He promised to close Guantanamo. He lied. He's a serial liar. He broke every major promise made. He prioritizes keeping it open. He wants it expanded. He's got lots more victims in mind. He'll send there and/or to other US global torture prisons. Dozens operate worldwide.

Guantanamo's the tip of the iceberg. Obama supports torture and other forms of cruel and degrading treatment. He does so unapologetically. He treats US citizens as lawlessly as foreign nationals.

Grasping for Dignity in the Era of the American Police State

John W. Whitehead

Leila Tarantino has filed a lawsuit against the Citris
County Sheriff’s Office for a 2011 traffic stop during
where a female officer removed a tampon during a
road side strip search in plain sight of oncoming traffic.

“The Fourth Amendment was designed to stand between us and arbitrary governmental authority. For all practical purposes, that shield has been shattered, leaving our liberty and personal integrity subject to the whim of every cop on the beat, trooper on the highway and jail official.”—Herman Schwartz, The Nation

During a routine traffic stop, Leila Tarantino was allegedly subjected to two roadside strip searches in plain view of passing traffic, while her two children—ages 1 and 4—waited inside her car. During the second strip search, presumably in an effort to ferret out drugs, a female officer “forcibly removed” a tampon from Tarantino. No contraband or anything illegal was found.

A North Carolina public school allegedly strip-searched a 10-year-old boy in search of a $20 bill lost by another student, despite the fact that the boy, J.C., twice told school officials he did not have the missing money. The assistant principal reportedly ordered the fifth grader to disrobe down to his underwear and subjected him to an aggressive strip-search that included rimming the edge of his underwear. The missing money was later found in the school cafeteria.

Suspecting that Georgia Tech alum Mary Clayton might have been attempting to smuggle a Chik-Fil-A sandwich into the football stadium, a Georgia Tech police officer allegedly subjected the season ticket-holder to a strip search that included a close examination of her underwear and bra. No contraband chicken was found.

Understanding the Anti-Christ

Rixon Stewart

Nearly one hundred years ago Russia underwent a revolution that was to be echoed decades later in China. In historical terms, Russia transformed almost overnight from Imperial Russia to the Soviet Union. From being a largely peasant society ruled by an all powerful Emperor, Russia became a supposedly egalitarian state.

Ostensibly classless, Lenin’s proclamations about the proletariat and the rights of workers were used to dupe the masses. For ultimately Russian communism was based on one thing and one thing only: a belief in the absolute precedence of materialism.

That’s why, according to his grandson John Schiff, to ensure its success, millionaire Jacob Schiff “sank about 20 million dollars for the final triumph of Bolshevism”. For communism was essentially the brainchild of the super rich and served their purposes, rather than those of the ‘workers’.

So despite claims of a more equitable distribution of wealth and although Russia’s leaders may have cloaked their real intentions with political jargon, materialism was still the bedrock on which Russian communism was built. In the eyes of Soviet political commissars any type of spiritual belief was consequently seen as a form of heresy. Resolutely atheistic, they elevated ‘scientific materialism’ over and above any spiritual faith, which they deemed as little more than superstition at best, and a threat to “communism” (i.e. faith in materialism) at worst.

However neither the industrial nor agrarian workers enjoyed much in the way of economic benefit from this new dispensation. They were too busy trying to meet harvest and production targets for that. In other words, their lives were totally beholden to the dictates of materialism.

With hindsight we now know that Russian communism simply didn’t work. Beyond its failure as a political and economic system it also brought unprecedented suffering to millions in the gulags.

Snowden: Up in Arms Against Established Order

Konstantin Gordeev

Edward Snowden, a young American, grabbed the world attention in the wink of an eye making the revelations on US global surveillance come into the open. The world telecommunications are under constant surveillance carried out by the watchful eye of US special services. The snooping is ubiquitous encompassing US citizens and people in other countries of the world. It’s really complete, there is no exaggeration here, it spreads on bums and presidents, bitterest enemies and bosom friends - all of them watched at any given moment. Phone calls are eavesdropped, fax messages, including the coded ones, are tapped, Internet networks and electronic messages are intercepted, bank transactions are followed, each and every thing is under the eagle eye, there is no escape and no exclusion from the rule.

No surprise, many in America think Snowden is a «traitor» and a «spy». But there is something else that is important: according to polls, over 40% of US citizens say no to the persecution of Snowden, they approve his actions and think he is the one who has revealed the illegal activities of US special services.[1] What has he done to make the US authorities exert pressure on other countries so that they would land foreign presidential planes or make the United States threaten everyone who dares to grant him political asylum at the time tens of thousands Americans come out to show their support for Snowden and his courageous deed? That’s what the Americans say in their in website and blogs posts comparing the US administration actions with fascism, in particular, that’s what an article published by the Truthout says.[2] A petition asking President Barack Obama to pardon admitted state secret leaker Edward Snowden and stop his persecution has passed 100,000 signatures.[3-4]

The Waking Nightmare: A Chilling Orwellian Dystopia

RINF Alternative News editorial

When the National Security Agency’s disclosures became known to the public – thanks to Edward Snowden – most people realized that privacy means absolutely nothing.

The governments’ capabilities regarding mass surveillance is jaw dropping and so is their complexity. If you toss in a controlling governance and financial catastrophe, the combined effect is the chilling Orwellian dystopia we see today.

A Look At Greek’s Surveillance and Wiretapping

The figures from the Greek Statistics Agency details – in depth – the scale of the country’s surveillance and wiretapping for the past five years (ever since the beginning of the economic crisis in 2008). Statistics show the country’s wiretaps have increased nearly 1,050 percent during this timeframe.

And, in 2008, the country attained two superbugs that allow Greece’s counter-terrorism and secret police units to listen in on the conversations of its countrymen on a scale that’s unprecedented.

As it stands currently, Internet service providers are not being forced to follow the security standards, meaning browsing histories and emails can be used… all in the name of national security.

One doesn’t have to speculate too hard on who it is the Greek government is they want to “spy” on: governments are ardent to link squatters, anarchists and activists to terrorist groups, property damage and bank robberies. The best way, countries have claimed, is listening in on the private conversations of the whole country.

US government using license plates to track movements of millions

Eric London

A report issued by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) on Wednesday details an immense operation through which nearly 1 billion license plate records of hundreds of millions of drivers are tracked and huge databases are amassed, providing the American government with access to the history and recent whereabouts of the majority of the US population.

For years, a network of federal security agencies, local police departments and private companies have been using automatic license plate readers on police cruisers, in parking lots, at traffic intersections—even through smartphone apps—to photograph cars and their drivers and to record license plate numbers with the matching time, date and location.

“More and more cameras, longer retention periods, and widespread sharing allow law enforcement agents to assemble the individual puzzle pieces of where we have been over time into a single, high-resolution image of our lives,” the report says.

“The systems can also plot all vehicles at a particular location, such as the location where a crime—or a political protest—took place” through a procedure called “geofencing,” whereby “law enforcement or private companies can construct a virtual fence around a designated geographical area, to identify each vehicle entering that space.”

The use of this technology for such authoritarian procedures gives the lie to the claims of the government and security apparatus that the purpose of the license-tracking program is to stop crime.

Stop Doing the Vicious Work of the Ruling Class

Arthur Silber

Chris Floyd: All Systems Go: The Core of the Acquittal - The acquittal of George Zimmerman for his killing of Trayvon Martin has already sparked a torrent of fervid commentary -- millions of words -- and will no doubt produce many millions more in the days and weeks to come. But good sense and insight have been near-impossible to find in the roiling surges of this tsunami. One place where you can find these rare commodities is -- as you might expect -- Arthur Silber's blog. Silber has posted a powerful essay on the case and its implications, extending and deepening a likewise excellent piece by Ta-Nehisi Coates in The Atlantic, which Silber builds upon to striking effect. You should read the whole piece -- read the whole of both pieces -- but be prepared for some counter-intuitive conclusions, the chief of which is this: in the Trayvon Martin case, the system did not fail; the system worked, it did what it was supposed to do. The problem is that what it is supposed to do is to maintain and replicate the brutal, violent and, above all, dehumanizing injustice encoded in the core of the national culture. Trayvon Martin's life was broken on the hard, metallic spikes of this core; an unspeakable personal loss. But the travesty was not the case itself -- an inevitably ambiguous affair (an unwitnessed encounter between two men, one of them left dead) hobbled with a daunting burden of legal proof required to produce a guilty verdict. No, the real travesty is the system that produced the volatile circumstances of that fateful night, and all of the seething, hateful, fearful, alienating currents that lay behind the encounter. But read the eloquent insights of Silber and Coates for more.

The Pursuit of Edward Snowden

Wayne Madsen

In many ways, National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden is more wanted by the U.S. government than was Osama Bin Laden just six months after the 9/11 attack on the United States. President George W. Bush said during a White House press conference, «Who knows if he’s [Bin Laden] hiding in some cave or not. We haven’t heard from him in a long time. The idea of focusing on one person really indicates to me people don’t understand the scope of the mission. Terror is bigger than one person. He’s just a person who’s been marginalized... I don’t know where he is. I really just don’t spend that much time on him, to be honest with you».

Compare Bush’s attitude toward Bin Laden to Obama’s obsession with capturing Snowden and the hypocrisy of American foreign policy across the board comes into clear focus.

Barack Obama has made it one of the linchpins of his administration to identify, prosecute, and imprison national security whistleblowers. Obama has charged more government employees under the provisions of the antiquated 1917 Espionage Act than all of his predecessors combined. Edward Snowden was the seventh person charged with violating the Espionage Act after he released to The Guardian and The Washington Post classified documents from the NSA revealing the extent of U.S. communication surveillance of the Internet, phone calls, text messages, and Skype communications within the United States and around the world.

A Park-Bench View Of The English People

Mike James

You are the Scum of the Earth. The vilest of the vile...

Have you ever found yourself sitting on a park bench in the middle of a big city, all alone with your thoughts, only to be asked by a concerned stranger as to why you are weeping, though you had no idea that tears were streaming down the cheeks of your face?

Did it come as a shock to you that you were a human being mourning the loss of something precious, yet now beyond your grasp? Was the embarrassment yours or that of the stranger, for, in your own timid way, you felt obliged to apologise for having given outward expression of something that troubled your soul?

“Nothing to see here,” you say. “Alles in Ordnung.” Heuschnupfen, hayfever.

You may find yourself in Berlin, as I do, or in Paris, New York, Sydney, Nairobi, Zurich, Warsaw, Rome, Mombasa, Florence, Copenhagen, Amsterdam, as I have in the past. You may even be sitting on one of those park benches in England dedicated to some local non-entity whose life was dedicated to making of you nothing more than a municipal statistic after the nature of his own imagination.

There appears to be little point in going on. Nothing changes; everything remains the same. Within you there exists a huge chasm of despair, upon the edge of which you are of faint lest the echo of your questions haunt and hound you during both your waking and sleeping hours.

You know that deep down inside, as a free-born child of England, the future that belonged as of right to you and your children was stolen by conceited men in suits and hard-faced culture-change career-women who strutted unashamedly the power halls of neo-liberalism and Fabian socialism, swapping roles as proponents of fast-food “freedom and democracy” with the abandon of whores, their legs wide open to the penetrating thrust of the international Zeitgeist and the nuances of the script handed down to them by Bilderberger grandees.

Meet a moderate Syrian insurgent

Pepe Escobar

Hi, my name is Mostafa and I'll be your moderate insurgent today. I'm addressing you all because we badly need your help. We could have started a Facebook page, like We Need Your Weapons or something, or ask the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights to make a YouTube video, but I prefer to speak straight to your heart.

Our Supreme Commander, the blessed General Salim Idriss, has acknowledged we are now receiving many new weapons from many friendly Arab countries, which helped us "destroy more than 90 armored vehicles" of the Syrian regime. And Amrika helped us to get the guns, of course. But we need more.

Your President Mr Obama told the Blessed King of Saudi Arabia last Friday that he is committed to providing more support for us. Your Secretary of State Mr Kerry said on Saturday there must be more support for us "in order to have an impact on the ground". Your CIA said they will make sure only moderate insurgents get the weapons, and not the bad guys.

But your Congress is blocking our weapons. Oh people from Congress!

Don't be such a spoiler! We have such a brotherhood of nations here. People from 29 different countries! OK, there are a lot of Salafis, a bit hot headed. But for us they are all brothers. In fact most of us are moderate insurgents.

Don't you like moderates? Remember when you wanted to talk to the moderate Taliban? Now you're talking to the moderate Taliban! And the Pakistani Taliban, they are now even sending their people here to help us! The other day they raised a big, white Taliban flag somewhere in the Turkish-Syrian border. That was a blessed moment.

Department of Justice memo codifies spying on the press

Tom Carter

On Friday, the US Department of Justice (DOJ) released a memorandum setting forth new “guidelines” concerning government surveillance of members of the press. “These revised guidelines will help ensure the proper balance is struck when pursuing investigations into unauthorized disclosures,” announced Attorney General Eric Holder.

Billed on the front page of the New York Times as a major reform that “would significantly narrow the circumstances under which journalists’ records could be obtained,” the memorandum actually does nothing of the kind.

The memorandum (available here) resembles Holder’s previous work on the subject of military commissions, incommunicado detention, drones, and assassination. Couched behind weasel-words, vague loopholes, and conciliatory language, the Obama administration always goes out of its way not to concede any limits on its asserted powers.

As an initial matter, the idea that an internal Department of Justice memorandum could constitute a “reform” is a sham. If the Obama administration can “self-restrict” its activities, then it can just as easily “self-expand” them.

Mandela's greatness may be assured, but not his legacy

John Pilger

When I reported from South Africa in the 1960s, the Nazi admirer Johannes Vorster occupied the prime minister's residence in Cape Town. Thirty years later, as I waited at the gates, it was as if the guards had not changed. White Afrikaners checked my ID with the confidence of men in secure work. One carried a copy of 'Long Walk to Freedom', Nelson Mandela's autobiography. "It's very eenspirational," he said.

Mandela had just had his afternoon nap and looked sleepy; his shoelaces were untied. Wearing a bright gold shirt, he meandered into the room. "Welcome back," said the first president of a democratic South Africa, beaming. "You must understand that to have been banned from my country is a great honour." The sheer grace and charm of the man made you feel good. He chuckled about his elevation to sainthood. "That's not the job I applied for," he said drily.

Still, he was well used to deferential interviews and I was ticked off several times - "you completely forgot what I said" and "I have already explained that matter to you". In brooking no criticism of the African National Congress (ANC), he revealed something of why millions of South Africans will mourn his passing but not his "legacy".

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