US extends global terror alert

Thomas Gaist

A Bahraini armoured personnel vehicle reinforces US
embassy security in Manama, Bahrain.
(Associated Press)

Patrick Martin: The US terror scare

The US State Department announced Sunday that 19 foreign embassies will remain closed all week in accordance with the ongoing global terror alert announced Friday. The alert was launched, according to a White House statement, in response to a threat “possibly occurring in or emanating from the Arabian Peninsula.” Britain and a number of other European countries moved to close their facilities in Yemen as well.

US officials said on Sunday that the decision to extend the closures was based on the need to “exercise caution” and not on new information regarding possible attacks. On Monday afternoon, the State Department released information citing “a rare intercepted communication” between Ayman al-Zawahri in Pakistan and Nasir al-Wahisi in Yemen, claiming that this intercept prompted the terror alert.

The media continues to promote the claims of the government uncritically, despite the absence of any factual substantiation and the vague and non-specific nature of the purported threat. There is barely a hint from the corporate-controlled media that previous terror alerts in the course of the so-called “war on terror” have proven baseless, and no reference to the rampant lying of the government in relation to the illegal spying operations that have been exposed by whistle-blower Edward Snowden.

Lawmakers, both Democratic and Republican, continue to seize on the terror alert as supposed justification for the National Security Agency’s sweeping eavesdropping and data collection programs, which are in flagrant violation of the US Constitution. Yet there is no suggestion in the alarmist media reports that there might be an ulterior political motive behind the sudden announcement of an imminent terror threat.

Obama administration launches terror scare

Thomas Gaist

One day after Russian asylum for Snowden Obama administration launches terror scare

Amid escalating denunciations and threats against both Edward Snowden, the National Security Agency (NSA) contractor-turned whistle-blower, and Russia, which granted Snowden temporary asylum on Thursday, the Obama administration on Friday issued a “global travel alert,” closing US embassies in Tripoli, Cairo, Tel Aviv, Baghdad, Riyadh and Doha based on supposed threats of Al Qaeda attacks.

In total, 22 embassies and consulates are to be closed, and a terror alert has been issued covering the entire Middle East. Official statements have asserted that a contact from Yemen—a country that has been under bombardment from US drones for years—gave information raising the possibility of terror attacks against US embassies.

All three major television networks led their evening news reports with the government’s claims, reporting them uncritically despite the lack of any substantiation or any specific purported threats. Terrorism “experts” were trundled out in the usual fashion to stoke up public alarm.

None of the government’s claims should be taken for good coin. They follow more evidence of broad popular support for Snowden, whom the Obama administration is witch-hunting and targeting for prosecution—or worse—for leaking details of secret surveillance programs that invade the privacy and violate the rights of every American and millions more people around the world.

Father of Edward Snowden issues open letter to Obama denouncing “Orwellian surveillance programs”

Thomas Gaist

Lon Snowden, father of Edward Snowden, has written an open letter to President Barack Obama denouncing the NSA surveillance programs exposed by his son and the Obama administration’s international witch-hunt in response to the disclosures.

The letter, dated July 26, 2013, was written together with Lon Snowden’s lawyer, Bruce Fein.

In the letter, Snowden compares the NSA surveillance programs to the Fugitive Slave Act and the Jim Crow laws in the American South and writes that the United States has lessons to learn from “the dynamics of the Third Reich.” The letter further compares the present situation to the post-World War II Nuremburg trials “in which ‘following orders’ was rejected as a defense.”

It comes amid new revelations concerning the expansive scope of the programs. In an interview on ABC News’ “This Week” program on Sunday, Guardian journalist Glenn Greenwald commented: “The NSA has trillions of telephone calls and emails in their databases that they’ve collected over the last several years.”

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.

Questions surrounding 2011 triple murder point to government cover-up in Boston Marathon bombing

Thomas Gaist & Barry Grey

Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev
is visible through an ambulance window after he was
captured in Watertown, Massachusetts.
(New York Post)

The New York Times published a front-page article Thursday (“In 2011 Murder Inquiry, Hints of Missed Chance to Avert Boston Bombing”) that raises new questions about the alleged perpetrators of the April 15 Boston Marathon bombing and adds to the evidence of a government cover-up in the explosions that killed three people and wounded more than 260 others.

Citing “senior law enforcement officials,” the article asserts that the elder of the two Tsarnaev brothers alleged to have detonated two bombs near the finish line of the marathon, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, was involved in the murder of three men in Waltham, Massachusetts, a suburb of Boston, on September 11, 2011—the tenth anniversary of the terror attacks on New York and Washington DC.

The ostensible occasion for the article was the arraignment on Wednesday of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, Tamerlan’s younger brother, on multiple terrorism charges before a federal judge in Boston. Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, 19, was captured on April 19 following a shootout in which his older brother was killed. He pled not guilty to 30 counts, most of which potentially carry the death penalty. (See: “Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev arraigned in federal court”).

The Times article published Thursday asserts that Ibragim Todashev, a friend of Tamerlan Tsarnaev and, like Tsarnaev, an ethnic Chechen and martial arts fighter, was also involved in the triple slaying. The authors of the article repeat the official story that Todashev confessed to the involvement of Tamerlan Tsarnaev and himself in the gruesome killings during hours of interrogation at his Florida apartment last May 22. The questioning ended with a Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) operative repeatedly shooting and killing Todashev.

US escalates threats against governments considering asylum for Snowden

Thomas Gaist

Top US officials escalated their threats over the weekend against any government that grants asylum to Edward Snowden, the source of leaks detailing illegal government surveillance programs directed at the population of the United States and the entire world.

On Friday, Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro said that the country would offer Snowden “humanitarian asylum,” and the leaders of Nicaragua and Bolivia both indicated that Snowden could receive asylum in those countries as well. The statements came in the wake of the forced grounding of Bolivian president Evo Morales’s plan last week under suspicions that Snowden may have been on board.

An anonymous State Department official said over the weekend:

“There is not a country in the hemisphere whose government does not understand our position at this point.” The official asserted that granting Snowden asylum “would put relations in a very bad place for a long time to come.” The official continued, “If someone thinks things would go away, it won’t be the case.”

NSA monitoring US communications without a warrant, documents show

Thomas Gaist

This is a blueprint for universal accumulation and indefinite retention of all communications of everyone in the world.

Classified top secret documents submitted to the secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court by US Attorney General Eric Holder, published by The Guardian on Thursday, show that US Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISA) judges have approved sweeping general orders authorizing the National Security Agency (NSA) to monitor US communications data without individual warrants.

According to the Guardian, the documents—presumably obtained from NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden—“show that even under authorities governing the collection of foreign intelligence from foreign targets, US communications can still be collected, retained and used.”

In their defense of the NSA surveillance programs, Obama administration officials—including Obama himself—have frequently and insistently declared that no communications of people in the US are monitored without a warrant. The documents released by The Guardian reveal these claims to be outright lies.

New reports detail vast scale of NSA “mega data collection”

Thomas Gaist

New reports indicate that the NSA engages in warrantless wiretapping of the audio content of telephone communications of Americans, and records and archives virtually all internet usage, everywhere.

The primary concern of the Obama administration, congressional leaders and top intelligence officials is to lie and obfuscate in order to conceal the true nature and extent of the spying.

The rapid pace of new revelations has been catching leading representatives of the American state in one blatant lie after another. On almost a daily basis, new information surfaces illustrating the vast, all-pervading scale of the NSA surveillance apparatus.

Bush administration officials and leading congressmen have repeatedly asserted that the American government does not monitor the content of telephone and other communications without a warrant. During a House Judiciary hearing on Thursday, however, Representative Jerrold Nadler cited a secret briefing with US intelligence officials exposing these assertions as lies.

When FBI director Robert Mueller claimed that the NSA required “a special, particularized order from the FISA court direct at that particular phone of that particular individual” in order to monitor communication content, Nadler responded, “We heard precisely the opposite at the briefing the other day. We heard precisely that you could get the specific information from that telephone simply based on an analyst deciding that…In other words, what just said is incorrect. So there's a conflict.”

Nadler's comment corroborate Snowden's assertion that, working as a low level analyst in Hawaii, he was able to “wiretap anyone from you or your accountant to a federal judge to even the president.”

Snowden defends actions as Obama administration pushes for prosecution of whistleblower

Thomas Gaist

The accumulation of vast amounts of data will be used against any opposition that emerges to the policies of the American ruling class.

Edward Snowden, the former intelligence employee, is facing extradition and prosecution by the US government for his actions in exposing the National Security Agency's massive police-state surveillance system.

In an interview with the South China Morning Post, Snowden asserted that the US government has been “trying to bully” Hong Kong into extraditing him.

“I am not here to hide from justice,” he said from an undisclosed location in Hong Kong. “I am here to reveal criminality.” Snowden left the hotel he was previously staying in out of concern that he would be targeted by US intelligence. “The US government will do anything to prevent me from getting this into the public eye, which is why they are pushing so hard for extradition,” he told the Post.

In testimony before a House committee on Thursday, FBI Director Robert Mueller said that “all necessary steps” are being taking to prosecute Edward Snowden. “As to the individual who has admitted to making these disclosures, he is the subject of an ongoing criminal investigation,” Mueller said.

ABC News reported Thursday that US officials now consider Snowden’s case a “foreign espionage matter” due to supposed concerns that he “may be attempting to defect to China with a trove of America’s most sensitive secrets.”

US congressman calls for prosecution of journalist over NSA leak

Thomas Gaist

The Guardian journalist Glenn Greenwald (

Representative Peter King of New York said late Tuesday that he supports prosecution of journalist Glenn Greenwald who published material leaked last week by Edward Snowden. The leaks exposed two secret and unconstitutional programs run by the Pentagon-based National Security Agency that collect the electronic communications of tens of millions of Americans and hundreds of millions more around the world.

King, a Republican, said in an interview with CNN's Anderson Cooper: “If they [journalists publishing leaked material] willingly knew that this was classified information, I think actions should be taken, especially on something of this magnitude.” Asked directly whether he would support punishment of journalists, King replied, “The answer is yes, to your question.”

On Wednesday, King was asked whether he thought Washington Post reporter Barton Gellman, who has also been in contact with Snowden and has written on the leaks, should be prosecuted. “I’m talking about Greenwald,” King told Fox News, claiming without any foundation that the journalist was threatening to release the names of CIA agents. “The last time that was done in this country, we saw a CIA station chief murdered in Greece.” King added that the leaks released so far are “putting American lives at risk and this is clearly done to hurt Americans.”

By the perverse logic of the state, attempts to reveal to the American people the unconstitutional actions of the government amount to efforts to “hurt Americans.” While King’s remarks bear the fascistic sentiment that has become his hallmark, they are in fact entirely in line with the assault on press freedom that is being spearheaded by the Obama administration.

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