Oregon militia

Jan 7, 2016

Mass attitudes towards the other are influenced by the Media. In this day and age of information overload our brains are struggling to keep up with the demands of the digital age. Moreover, the Media is not a neutral player, but an instrument of the power elite.  Thus, we are ripe for the simplifying power of the sound bite and the Media is more than willing to provide us with a boogeyman .
The neat and sharp-focused World offered by the establishment  – where God is on our side, and The Others are evil Muslims and political correct Marxists conspiring to take away our freedom and wealth-  is compelling and comforting; we have the firepower to do what needs to be done.
While the political ideology of the Tea Party is not an exact match of the European fascism of the 1930´s, there are troubling parallels between the events that lead to the Second World War and the circumstances of the early Twenty-First Century. The Tea Party movement shares with Fascism an obsessive preoccupation with community decline, humiliation, and victim-hood, as well as compensatory cults of unity, energy, and purity, in which a mass-based party of committed nationalist militants embrace a credo of violence and ideology-driven armed militias .
The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants:
Thomas Jefferson.
Gun owners tend to be among the political right, and Second Amendment support is a common thread among Tea Party demonstrators. One of the fundamental mantra of them is guns as a mechanism of check and balance against tyranny.   It sounds like sedition.  There is a not only idle talk, there is a trail of actual terrorist activity. The Hutterite militia in Michigan was planning to kill police officers but they had not actually done anything violent before they were arrested, and their ultimate goal was to war against the anti-Christ.  Timothy McVeigh in 1995 blamed the US Government for attacks against American citizens at Waco and Ruby Ridge.
The gun crowd likes to wax eloquent about protecting our natural rights with our weapons when the government becomes unconstitutional, and all other avenues have failed. They see themselves as law abiding insurrects that do not use violence and have confidence in the ballot box, and that that ensure that the government can’t stray too far toward tyranny. Fools playing with fire; a fire that will get us all burned.
In the NRA’s world, we are only free to the extent that our guns allow us to impose our will on others.”
Dennis Henigan of the Brady Campaign,  “Gun Rights and Political Violence”
More guns were sold in December 2015 than almost any other month in nearly two decades, continuing a pattern of spikes in sales after terrorist attacks and calls for stricter gun-buying laws, according to federal data released on Monday.
The heaviest sales last month, driven primarily by handgun sales, followed a call from President Obama to make it harder to buy assault weapons after the terrorist attack in San Bernardino, Calif.
Fear of gun-buying restrictions has been the main driver of spikes in gun sales, far surpassing the effects of mass shootings and terrorist attacks alone, according to an analysis of federal background check data by The New York Times.
During the previous record month, December 2012, President Obama called for new buying restrictions after the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School.

Several days ago a group of right wing militiamen stormed a building on the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Harney County, Oregon. The group is engaged in an armed occupation claiming to be opposing the U.S. government for perceived violations of their rights. They have also made the demand that two rancher brothers convicted of arson, Dwight Hammond Jr. and Steven Hammond, be released from prison. The 150-man strong occupation force is being led by three of Cliven Bundy’s sons, specifically Ammon Bundy. As you may recall they were engaged in an armed standoff with the F.B.I. in 2014 over a dispute involving cattle grazing land.

The militia men are arguing that they should own public land simply because they feel the government hasn’t been kind to them. Their goal is to build private businesses on the protected land. They’re trying to take away land that is being held in common for their own exploitation of it.

The FBI is leading the investigation into the armed occupation of a federal wildlife refuge in Oregon and says it will work with local and state authorities to seek “a peaceful resolution to the situation.” The White House considers it “a local law enforcement matter,” Press Secretary Josh Earnest said Monday.

The Southern Poverty Law Center said in a report on that standoff that the militiamen and the federal land-return movement are part of the same spectrum.

“Anti-government extremists have long pushed, most fiercely during Democratic administrations, rabid conspiracy theories about a nefarious New World Order, a socialist, gun-grabbing federal government and the evils of federal law enforcement,” the center said.

Law enforcement officials said that the occupiers came to the region with a specific goal:

“These men came to Harney County claiming to be part of militia groups supporting local ranchers,” Harney County Sheriff David M. Ward said in a statement Sunday. “When in reality these men had alternative motives, to attempt to overthrow the county and federal government in hopes to spark a movement across the United States.”

Clownish as such stunts unquestionably are, it bears remembering that the activities of such violent abolitionists as John Brown looked just as pointless in their time; their importance was purely as a gauge of the pressures building toward civil war—and that’s exactly the same reading I give to the event just described. The era of rural and urban guerrilla warfare, roadside bombs, internment camps, horrific human rights violations by all sides, and millions of refugees fleeing in all directions, that will bring down the United States of America is still a little while off yet.

Jan 7, 2016

Mass attitudes towards the other are influenced by the Media. In this day and age of information overload our brains are struggling to keep up with the demands of the digital age. Moreover, the Media is not a neutral player, but an instrument of the power elite.  Thus, we are ripe for the simplifying power of the sound bite and the Media is more than willing to provide us with a boogeyman .
The neat and sharp-focused World offered by the establishment  – where God is on our side, and The Others are evil Muslims and political correct Marxists conspiring to take away our freedom and wealth-  is compelling and comforting; we have the firepower to do what needs to be done.
While the political ideology of the Tea Party is not an exact match of the European fascism of the 1930´s, there are troubling parallels between the events that lead to the Second World War and the circumstances of the early Twenty-First Century. The Tea Party movement shares with Fascism an obsessive preoccupation with community decline, humiliation, and victim-hood, as well as compensatory cults of unity, energy, and purity, in which a mass-based party of committed nationalist militants embrace a credo of violence and ideology-driven armed militias .
The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants:
Thomas Jefferson.
Gun owners tend to be among the political right, and Second Amendment support is a common thread among Tea Party demonstrators. One of the fundamental mantra of them is guns as a mechanism of check and balance against tyranny.   It sounds like sedition.  There is a not only idle talk, there is a trail of actual terrorist activity. The Hutterite militia in Michigan was planning to kill police officers but they had not actually done anything violent before they were arrested, and their ultimate goal was to war against the anti-Christ.  Timothy McVeigh in 1995 blamed the US Government for attacks against American citizens at Waco and Ruby Ridge.
The gun crowd likes to wax eloquent about protecting our natural rights with our weapons when the government becomes unconstitutional, and all other avenues have failed. They see themselves as law abiding insurrects that do not use violence and have confidence in the ballot box, and that that ensure that the government can’t stray too far toward tyranny. Fools playing with fire; a fire that will get us all burned.
In the NRA’s world, we are only free to the extent that our guns allow us to impose our will on others.”
Dennis Henigan of the Brady Campaign,  “Gun Rights and Political Violence”
More guns were sold in December 2015 than almost any other month in nearly two decades, continuing a pattern of spikes in sales after terrorist attacks and calls for stricter gun-buying laws, according to federal data released on Monday.
The heaviest sales last month, driven primarily by handgun sales, followed a call from President Obama to make it harder to buy assault weapons after the terrorist attack in San Bernardino, Calif.
Fear of gun-buying restrictions has been the main driver of spikes in gun sales, far surpassing the effects of mass shootings and terrorist attacks alone, according to an analysis of federal background check data by The New York Times.
During the previous record month, December 2012, President Obama called for new buying restrictions after the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School.

Several days ago a group of right wing militiamen stormed a building on the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Harney County, Oregon. The group is engaged in an armed occupation claiming to be opposing the U.S. government for perceived violations of their rights. They have also made the demand that two rancher brothers convicted of arson, Dwight Hammond Jr. and Steven Hammond, be released from prison. The 150-man strong occupation force is being led by three of Cliven Bundy’s sons, specifically Ammon Bundy. As you may recall they were engaged in an armed standoff with the F.B.I. in 2014 over a dispute involving cattle grazing land.

The militia men are arguing that they should own public land simply because they feel the government hasn’t been kind to them. Their goal is to build private businesses on the protected land. They’re trying to take away land that is being held in common for their own exploitation of it.

The FBI is leading the investigation into the armed occupation of a federal wildlife refuge in Oregon and says it will work with local and state authorities to seek “a peaceful resolution to the situation.” The White House considers it “a local law enforcement matter,” Press Secretary Josh Earnest said Monday.

The Southern Poverty Law Center said in a report on that standoff that the militiamen and the federal land-return movement are part of the same spectrum.

“Anti-government extremists have long pushed, most fiercely during Democratic administrations, rabid conspiracy theories about a nefarious New World Order, a socialist, gun-grabbing federal government and the evils of federal law enforcement,” the center said.

Law enforcement officials said that the occupiers came to the region with a specific goal:

“These men came to Harney County claiming to be part of militia groups supporting local ranchers,” Harney County Sheriff David M. Ward said in a statement Sunday. “When in reality these men had alternative motives, to attempt to overthrow the county and federal government in hopes to spark a movement across the United States.”

Clownish as such stunts unquestionably are, it bears remembering that the activities of such violent abolitionists as John Brown looked just as pointless in their time; their importance was purely as a gauge of the pressures building toward civil war—and that’s exactly the same reading I give to the event just described. The era of rural and urban guerrilla warfare, roadside bombs, internment camps, horrific human rights violations by all sides, and millions of refugees fleeing in all directions, that will bring down the United States of America is still a little while off yet.

The Oregon militia

Published on Jan 11, 2016 Members of an anti-government militia have occupied the headquarters of Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in a remote region of eastern Oregon for over a week, protesting what they claim is an overreaching federal government. The … Continue reading

Published on Jan 11, 2016

Members of an anti-government militia have occupied the headquarters of Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in a remote region of eastern Oregon for over a week, protesting what they claim is an overreaching federal government. The occupation is being led by Ammon Bundy and his brother Ryan, two sons of Cliven Bundy, a Nevada rancher best known for an armed standoff with the federal government in 2014 over a cattle grazing dispute.

The protest was sparked by the re-sentencing of two Oregon ranchers, Dwight Hammond Jr. and his son Steven, to five years in a federal prison for deliberately starting fires on their property that spread to the bordering Malheur Wildlife Refuge.

While the media has referred to the situation as an armed standoff, more specifically, the “Oregon Standoff,” the federal authorities have kept their distance, and the local authorities, led by Harney County Sheriff David Ward, are also treading lightly.

VICE News traveled to Harney County, Oregon to meet with militia leaders, attend town hall meetings, and speak with local ranchers whom the protesters claim to be representing.

In Photos: The Faces and Frozen Landscapes of the ‘Oregon Standoff’ – http://bit.ly/1ncia1i

Read “Militia Leader Ammon Bundy Met With a Local Sheriff to Discuss Ending the Oregon Standoff” – http://bit.ly/1kYVwrB

From  Washington Post and Los Angeles Times

January 4, 2016 

BURNS, Ore. — The FBI is leading the investigation into the armed occupation of a federal wildlife refuge in Oregon and says it will work with local and state authorities to seek “a peaceful resolution to the situation.”

President Obama is aware of the Oregon situation, but the White House considers it “a local law enforcement matter,” Press Secretary Josh Earnest said Monday.

The Southern Poverty Law Center said in a report on that standoff that the militiamen and the federal land-return movement are part of the same spectrum.

“Anti-government extremists have long pushed, most fiercely during Democratic administrations, rabid conspiracy theories about a nefarious New World Order, a socialist, gun-grabbing federal government and the evils of federal law enforcement,” the center said.

[The Oregon standoff is far bigger than a group of armed men in a forest]

As news of the encampment spread, along with photos of armed men on a snowy refuge, it drew national attention even as it was affecting people in the region. Officials in the area shuttered local schools for at least a week, while the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said that the refuge “is closed until further notice” because of the situation.
Their illegal occupation of federal land has lasted for four days and militia leader Ammon Bundy refuses to leave until the land is turned over to local control.

Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), who was briefed Sunday morning by the FBI, said the occupation was being monitored closely by state, federal and local authorities.

“The FBI is on this every minute,” Wyden said in an interview. “But based on comments from what we’ve heard in the community and what’s been reported, we may be in just the early stages of this.”

Wyden compared the frustrations of the activists to those of all rural Oregonians, who face a troubled economy yet to fully recover from the decline of the timber industry and dwindling federal dollars to replace lost timber income.

“There’s enormous frustration about the economy and a very powerful sense in rural communities that nobody listens to them, that they don’t have any power, that their voices don’t matter,” Wyden said. “But the next step isn’t to be led by some outsiders into doing something that doesn’t help anybody.”

Ammon Bundy, who has been described as the leader of the protest group, said they have had no contact thus far with federal law enforcement authorities. “Nor is there any police presence here,” he said in a Twitter message to the Los Angeles Times.

“We plan on staying as long as we have to,” he said. “It’s a very peaceful protest.”

He said the occupying group has made “no direct demands,” but the participants have stated that they will leave if the federal government gives up control of the nearby Malheur National Forest.

They are also demanding freedom or a reduced sentence for two Oregon ranchers whose imprisonment sparked the current standoff, Bundy said.

Bundy’s father, Cliven, is a Nevada rancher who has sparred with the government for years and who in 2014 had an armed standoff with federal agents trying to prevent him from illegally grazing his cattle on federal land. After the federal authorities backed down, experts said that the showdown “invigorated” anti-government groups in the United States.

The elder Bundy told a reporter in Oregon that “150 militia men” had occupied the federal land over the weekend, at least one person who saw them leave for the refuge said there were “maybe a dozen” people. On Monday, Ammon Bundy did not answer a reporter’s shouted question about the number of people there.

SIGN YOUR NAME: LOCK UP the Oregon Militiamen for their acts of domestic terrorism >>

After occupying federal property, Bundy claimed that he planned to use the refuse as a militia base for years to come and would not rule out violence if law enforcement attempts to remove them.

The Oregon militia is a radicalized group committing acts of terror and anarchy. They must be held responsible for their unlawful actions.

State and federal authorities were preparing to establish a law enforcement command post to coordinate a response. So far the occupation had gone unchallenged.

Harney County Sheriff David M. Ward pleaded with the activists to leave the area. “It’s time to go home, return to your families,” he said at a news conference Monday.

In Burns, a city about 30 miles north of the refuge, hundreds had rallied to support the Hammonds over the weekend. Some residents were angry that the peaceful demonstrations were overshadowed by the armed takeover of federal property.

“That was very peaceful. That was very appropriate,” Patty Hodge, a bartender, said of Saturday’s protest. “What happened [with the occupation] angered everyone in Harney County, and from what I understand, it angered the militia.”

Law enforcement officials also dismissed the occupiers as being separate from the protest over the Hammonds, saying they came to the region with a specific and different goal.

“These men came to Harney County claiming to be part of militia groups supporting local ranchers,” Harney County Sheriff David M. Ward said in a statement Sunday. “When in reality these men had alternative motives, to attempt to overthrow the county and federal government in hopes to spark a movement across the United States.”

Republican presidential candidates were largely quiet about the takeover Sunday, including those who had supported the elder Bundy and made their own calls for limiting federal control over Western land.

On Monday, some began to speak more about the issue. Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas called on the occupiers to “stand down peaceably” and avoid a violent confrontation, while Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida told KBUR radio that while the government has too much control over land in the West, “you can’t be lawless.”

“I’m sympathetic to the idea that the large collection of federal lands ought to be turned back to the states and the people, but I think the best way to bring about change is through politics,” said Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky. “That’s why I entered the electoral arena. I don’t support any violence or suggestion of violence toward changing policy.”


BUNDY MILITIA MUSTERS AGAIN OVER PAIUTE LAND

JANUARY 5, 2016 DEEP GREEN RESISTANCE NEWS SERVICE
By Steve Russell / Indian Country Today Media Network

Some of the same armed “militia” involved in the Cliven Bundy affair in Nevada have occupied federal land in Oregon formerly reserved for the Northern Paiute. Ironically, the “legal” basis for starting a fight with the federal government is that sovereignty “really” belongs to Oregon rather than the Paiutes, who have seen their federal trust land shrink from over one and a half million acres to a tiny remnant of 760 acres in Burns, Oregon, where this current armed standoff began.

Bitcoin

Published on Nov 21, 2013

From obscure cryptographic experiment to multibillion-dollar virtual currency, Bitcoin’s sudden rise to fame has been steeped in controversy. As US authorities give it the green light for the first time, will Bitcoin become the foundation of a new global financial system, or will the bubble burst, proving to be one of the greatest Ponzi schemes in the history of mankind? Patrick Murck, General Counsel of the Bitcoin Foundation, joins Oksana to discuss these issues.


Published on Oct 29, 2013

In this episode of the Keiser Report, Max Keiser and Stacy Herbert, discuss the revolutionary solution that takes money and power from those who hate and gives it to those who will no longer wait for celebrities and pundits to cogitate, agitate and debate whether or not wristbands and hashtags – oh so quaint – can stop the plunder and pillage by the conmen, hucksters, and banksters backed by the state. Yes, bitcoin. The currency is already creating economic value across Africa, China and the developing world while Brits destroy economic value by moving their money into yet another corrupt bank. In the second half, Max interviews Simon Dixon of BankToTheFuture.com about peer to peer lending and the future in which the population can deploy their own capital in more productive ways.

FOLLOW Max Keiser on Twitter: http://twitter.com/maxkeiser

WATCH all Keiser Report shows here:
http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=… (E1-E200)
http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=… (E201-E400)
http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=… (E401-current)
Published time: October 26, 2013 08:57

US authorities have reported their largest-ever Bitcoin bust amounting to $28 million of the digital currency. It was seized from the owner of the controversial Silk Road website, which was shut down three weeks ago.

A Friday statement by federal prosecutors in New York details the seizure of 144,336 bitcoins, which were discovered on the computer belonging to Silk Road founder Ross William Ulbricht, alias “Dread Pirate Roberts,” Reuters reports. Ulbricht was arrested Oct. 1 in San Francisco on several charges of conspiracy.

Ulbricht’s lawyer could not be reached for comment, but the accused earlier denied all the allegations.

Since its inception in 2011, the now closed website was an anonymous hub for anything from drug deals to weapons and computer hacking programs – even hiring assassins, the Justice Department said.

The digital currency itself has been around since 2008, but it was not until 2011 that authorities showed greater interest in it, following the discovery of the connection to Silk Road and the near to 1 million registered users regularly engaging in illegal activities.

The current bust was part of a joint civil action against Ulbricht and his website. He is expected to appear in court in a matter of weeks to face charges of conspiring to traffic narcotics, launder money and hack computer networks.

Ulbricht’s arrest and the bitcoin seizure followed a string of international arrests of Silk Road users by Swedish, British and US authorities, a testament to the scale of the international crackdown on the website. The director of Britain’s newly-founded National Crime Agency (NCA), Keith Bristow, warned Oct. 9 that the “latest arrests are just the start” and “there are many more to come.”

Bristow added that bitcoin will also now be closely watched, after his agency seized millions of pounds of the electronic currency.

Together with the previous figure of 30,000 bitcoins, the new FBI bust puts the current value of seized currency at $33 million, the US Attorney General’s Office said. In the two years Ulbricht’s website was in operation, about $1.2 billion in bitcoins were traded. Silk Road charged between 8 and 15 percent in commissions.


Bitcoin (sign: BitcoinSign.svg; code: BTC or XBT[8]) is a cryptocurrency where the creation and transfer of bitcoins is based on an open-source cryptographic protocol that is independent of any central authority.[9] Bitcoins can be transferred through a computer or smartphone without an intermediate financial institution.[10] The concept was introduced in a 2008 paper by a pseudonymous developer known only as “Satoshi Nakamoto”, who called it a peer-to-peer, electronic cash system.[1][11][12][13]

The processing of Bitcoin transactions is secured by servers called bitcoin miners. These servers communicate over an internet-based network and confirm transactions by adding them to a ledger which is updated and archived periodically using peer-to-peer filesharing technology.[2] In addition to archiving transactions, each new ledger update creates some newly minted bitcoins. The number of new bitcoins created in each update is halved every 4 years until the year 2140 when this number will round down to zero. At that time no more bitcoins will be added into circulation and the total number of bitcoins will have reached a maximum of 21 million bitcoins.[1][14] To accommodate this limit, each bitcoin is subdivided down to eight decimal places; forming 100 million smaller units called satoshis.[4]

In August 2013 Germany’s Finance Ministry subsumed Bitcoins under the term “unit of account”—a financial instrument—though not as e-money or a functional currency.[15] Although bitcoin is promoted as a digital currency, many commentators have criticized bitcoin’s volatile exchange rate, relatively inflexible supply, high risk of loss, and minimal use in trade.[16][17][18][19][20]

Bitcoins have been associated with illegal online activity such as money laundering

Published on Nov 21, 2013

From obscure cryptographic experiment to multibillion-dollar virtual currency, Bitcoin’s sudden rise to fame has been steeped in controversy. As US authorities give it the green light for the first time, will Bitcoin become the foundation of a new global financial system, or will the bubble burst, proving to be one of the greatest Ponzi schemes in the history of mankind? Patrick Murck, General Counsel of the Bitcoin Foundation, joins Oksana to discuss these issues.


Published on Oct 29, 2013

In this episode of the Keiser Report, Max Keiser and Stacy Herbert, discuss the revolutionary solution that takes money and power from those who hate and gives it to those who will no longer wait for celebrities and pundits to cogitate, agitate and debate whether or not wristbands and hashtags – oh so quaint – can stop the plunder and pillage by the conmen, hucksters, and banksters backed by the state. Yes, bitcoin. The currency is already creating economic value across Africa, China and the developing world while Brits destroy economic value by moving their money into yet another corrupt bank. In the second half, Max interviews Simon Dixon of BankToTheFuture.com about peer to peer lending and the future in which the population can deploy their own capital in more productive ways.

FOLLOW Max Keiser on Twitter: http://twitter.com/maxkeiser

WATCH all Keiser Report shows here:
http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=… (E1-E200)
http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=… (E201-E400)
http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=… (E401-current)
Published time: October 26, 2013 08:57

US authorities have reported their largest-ever Bitcoin bust amounting to $28 million of the digital currency. It was seized from the owner of the controversial Silk Road website, which was shut down three weeks ago.

A Friday statement by federal prosecutors in New York details the seizure of 144,336 bitcoins, which were discovered on the computer belonging to Silk Road founder Ross William Ulbricht, alias “Dread Pirate Roberts,” Reuters reports. Ulbricht was arrested Oct. 1 in San Francisco on several charges of conspiracy.

Ulbricht’s lawyer could not be reached for comment, but the accused earlier denied all the allegations.

Since its inception in 2011, the now closed website was an anonymous hub for anything from drug deals to weapons and computer hacking programs – even hiring assassins, the Justice Department said.

The digital currency itself has been around since 2008, but it was not until 2011 that authorities showed greater interest in it, following the discovery of the connection to Silk Road and the near to 1 million registered users regularly engaging in illegal activities.

The current bust was part of a joint civil action against Ulbricht and his website. He is expected to appear in court in a matter of weeks to face charges of conspiring to traffic narcotics, launder money and hack computer networks.

Ulbricht’s arrest and the bitcoin seizure followed a string of international arrests of Silk Road users by Swedish, British and US authorities, a testament to the scale of the international crackdown on the website. The director of Britain’s newly-founded National Crime Agency (NCA), Keith Bristow, warned Oct. 9 that the “latest arrests are just the start” and “there are many more to come.”

Bristow added that bitcoin will also now be closely watched, after his agency seized millions of pounds of the electronic currency.

Together with the previous figure of 30,000 bitcoins, the new FBI bust puts the current value of seized currency at $33 million, the US Attorney General’s Office said. In the two years Ulbricht’s website was in operation, about $1.2 billion in bitcoins were traded. Silk Road charged between 8 and 15 percent in commissions.


Bitcoin (sign: BitcoinSign.svg; code: BTC or XBT[8]) is a cryptocurrency where the creation and transfer of bitcoins is based on an open-source cryptographic protocol that is independent of any central authority.[9] Bitcoins can be transferred through a computer or smartphone without an intermediate financial institution.[10] The concept was introduced in a 2008 paper by a pseudonymous developer known only as “Satoshi Nakamoto”, who called it a peer-to-peer, electronic cash system.[1][11][12][13]

The processing of Bitcoin transactions is secured by servers called bitcoin miners. These servers communicate over an internet-based network and confirm transactions by adding them to a ledger which is updated and archived periodically using peer-to-peer filesharing technology.[2] In addition to archiving transactions, each new ledger update creates some newly minted bitcoins. The number of new bitcoins created in each update is halved every 4 years until the year 2140 when this number will round down to zero. At that time no more bitcoins will be added into circulation and the total number of bitcoins will have reached a maximum of 21 million bitcoins.[1][14] To accommodate this limit, each bitcoin is subdivided down to eight decimal places; forming 100 million smaller units called satoshis.[4]

In August 2013 Germany’s Finance Ministry subsumed Bitcoins under the term “unit of account”—a financial instrument—though not as e-money or a functional currency.[15] Although bitcoin is promoted as a digital currency, many commentators have criticized bitcoin’s volatile exchange rate, relatively inflexible supply, high risk of loss, and minimal use in trade.[16][17][18][19][20]

Bitcoins have been associated with illegal online activity such as money laundering

24 hours at a time with no overtime pay

According to a recent front-page article in Bloomberg Magazine, Wal-Mart hired a defense contractor, Lockheed Martin, to use military-grade cybersecurity techniques to monitor the social media accounts of labor organizers and Wal-Mart employees. Worse, on at least one occasion, the company’s global security team “began working with the FBI Joint Terrorism Task Forces” to counter worker protests.1
Giant corporations shouldn’t be able to enlist the FBI’s help to crack down on workers simply asking for dignity and respect. So we are joining our friends at OUR Walmart to demand that the Department of Justice investigate the FBI’s relationship with Wal-Mart and whether the agency or company broke any laws.
Wal-Mart jobs pay so little that some workers go hungry. Most face irregular hours that make it impossible to raise parents or plan ahead, and have few benefits or health care coverage. All Wal-Mart employees are asking for is higher pay, safe working conditions, dependable schedules, and respect in the workplace.2 This is not terrorism, and there is no way the FBI should be involved.
The Bloomberg report reveals an intentional and long-running effort on the part of Wal-Mart executives to monitor current and former employees who are involved with OUR Walmart. Wal-Mart organized a “Delta team” of executives tasked with cracking down, staffed up its labor hotline, and hired Lockheed Martin, one of the biggest defense contractors in the world.3 Many of the employees monitored were later fired, potentially violating the law.4
In 2014, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) issued a complaint against Wal-Mart, claiming that the company violated labor law in 14 states by engaging in retaliation against workers who organized for better pay and better lives.5 The NLRB investigation turned up thousands of documents, some of which detail Wal-Mart’s hiring of Lockheed Martin – and its unacceptable coordination with the FBI.6
OUR Walmart has submitted a letter to the Department of Justice demanding an investigation, and we need to show that hundreds of thousands of Americans stand with them.7
We do not know how often the FBI and Wal-Mart have teamed up. The documents unearthed by the NLRB also do not reveal the extent of FBI involvement in monitoring protesters who traveled by bus across the country to the retail behemoth’s Arkansas headquarters. It is also possible that Wal-Mart used information turned over by the FBI to illegally retaliate against employees.8
OUR Walmart and Wal-Mart workers have been at the forefront of the “Fight for $15” and their courageous stand has yielded results providing momentum for higher wages across the country. If the FBI’s anti-terrorism team is partnering with Wal-Mart, it may be working with other companies as well. We need to make sure the Justice Department doesn’t turn a blind eye any outrageous and dangerous abuse of authority targeting Wal-Mart workers.
Tell the Justice Department: Investigate reported FBI spying on Wal-Mart employees. Click below to sign the petition:
Thank you for speaking out,
Murshed Zaheed, Deputy Political Director
CREDO Action from Working Assets
Add your name:
Sign the petition ►
  1. Susan Berfield, “How Walmart Keeps an Eye on Its Massive Workforce,” Bloomberg, November 24, 2015.
  2. Ibid.
  3. Ibid.
  4. OUR Walmart, “Letters to the Department of Justice,” United4Respect.org, January 14, 2016.
  5. Amanda Becker, “U.S. labor board alleges Wal-Mart violated labor law in 14 states,” Reuters, January 15, 2014.
  6. Berfield, “How Walmart Keeps an Eye on Its Massive Workforce.”
  7. OUR Walmart, “Letters to the Department of Justice,” United4Respect.org, January 14, 2016.
  8. Berfield, “How Walmart Keeps an Eye on Its Massive Workforce.”

Started by: Ana Rosa Diaz, Breaux Bridge, Louisiana.
My name is Ana Rosa Diaz. I’m 40 years old and I have four children. I came to the United States on an H-2B guestworker visa from my home in Tamaulipas, Mexico. I work in a small town in Louisiana with other guestworkers, peeling crawfish for a company called C.J.’s Seafood, which sells 85% of its products to Walmart.
Our boss forces us to work up to 24 hours at a time with no overtime pay. No matter how fast we work, they scream and curse at us to make us work faster. Our supervisor threatens to beat us with a shovel to stop us from taking breaks.
We live in trailers across from the boss’s house, and we’re under surveillance all the time. The supervisors come into our trailers without warning, and they threaten to fire us if we leave after 9 p.m.
The supervisor also locked us in the plant so we couldn’t take breaks. One worker called 911. After that the boss rounded us up at 2:30 a.m., closed the door to keep the American employees out, and threatened our families.
He said, “As a friend I can be very good, but you don’t want to know me as an enemy. I have contacts with good people and bad people, and I know where all your families live. I can find you no matter where you hide.” We were terrified. 
We want to work. We need to support our families. But we also want to be treated like human beings.
We joined the National Guestworker Alliance and decided to go on strike. The boss refused to take back his threats against our families, so now we’re taking our demands to Walmart.
Walmart says it doesn’t allow forced labor by any of its suppliers. But Walmart is profiting from the forced labor we lived through right here in Louisiana. And now they’re trying to cover up what happened to us — while refusing even to speak with us.
Walmart needs to meet with us immediately, and to show its suppliers that it won’t tolerate forced labor. We’re demanding that Walmart:
1. Cancel its contract with C.J.’s Seafood to show that it won’t profit from forced labor in Louisiana.
2. Sit down with us, the striking workers, immediately as a first step toward a real investigation — rather than a cover-up.
3. Sign the NGA’s Guestworker Dignity Standards to prevent forced labor and guarantee civil and labor rights for guestworkers across the Walmart supply chain. 
Please sign and stand with us!
According to a recent front-page article in Bloomberg Magazine, Wal-Mart hired a defense contractor, Lockheed Martin, to use military-grade cybersecurity techniques to monitor the social media accounts of labor organizers and Wal-Mart employees. Worse, on at least one occasion, the company’s global security team “began working with the FBI Joint Terrorism Task Forces” to counter worker protests.1
Giant corporations shouldn’t be able to enlist the FBI’s help to crack down on workers simply asking for dignity and respect. So we are joining our friends at OUR Walmart to demand that the Department of Justice investigate the FBI’s relationship with Wal-Mart and whether the agency or company broke any laws.
Wal-Mart jobs pay so little that some workers go hungry. Most face irregular hours that make it impossible to raise parents or plan ahead, and have few benefits or health care coverage. All Wal-Mart employees are asking for is higher pay, safe working conditions, dependable schedules, and respect in the workplace.2 This is not terrorism, and there is no way the FBI should be involved.
The Bloomberg report reveals an intentional and long-running effort on the part of Wal-Mart executives to monitor current and former employees who are involved with OUR Walmart. Wal-Mart organized a “Delta team” of executives tasked with cracking down, staffed up its labor hotline, and hired Lockheed Martin, one of the biggest defense contractors in the world.3 Many of the employees monitored were later fired, potentially violating the law.4
In 2014, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) issued a complaint against Wal-Mart, claiming that the company violated labor law in 14 states by engaging in retaliation against workers who organized for better pay and better lives.5 The NLRB investigation turned up thousands of documents, some of which detail Wal-Mart’s hiring of Lockheed Martin – and its unacceptable coordination with the FBI.6
OUR Walmart has submitted a letter to the Department of Justice demanding an investigation, and we need to show that hundreds of thousands of Americans stand with them.7
We do not know how often the FBI and Wal-Mart have teamed up. The documents unearthed by the NLRB also do not reveal the extent of FBI involvement in monitoring protesters who traveled by bus across the country to the retail behemoth’s Arkansas headquarters. It is also possible that Wal-Mart used information turned over by the FBI to illegally retaliate against employees.8
OUR Walmart and Wal-Mart workers have been at the forefront of the “Fight for $15” and their courageous stand has yielded results providing momentum for higher wages across the country. If the FBI’s anti-terrorism team is partnering with Wal-Mart, it may be working with other companies as well. We need to make sure the Justice Department doesn’t turn a blind eye any outrageous and dangerous abuse of authority targeting Wal-Mart workers.
Tell the Justice Department: Investigate reported FBI spying on Wal-Mart employees. Click below to sign the petition:
Thank you for speaking out,
Murshed Zaheed, Deputy Political Director
CREDO Action from Working Assets
Add your name:
Sign the petition ?
  1. Susan Berfield, “How Walmart Keeps an Eye on Its Massive Workforce,” Bloomberg, November 24, 2015.
  2. Ibid.
  3. Ibid.
  4. OUR Walmart, “Letters to the Department of Justice,” United4Respect.org, January 14, 2016.
  5. Amanda Becker, “U.S. labor board alleges Wal-Mart violated labor law in 14 states,” Reuters, January 15, 2014.
  6. Berfield, “How Walmart Keeps an Eye on Its Massive Workforce.”
  7. OUR Walmart, “Letters to the Department of Justice,” United4Respect.org, January 14, 2016.
  8. Berfield, “How Walmart Keeps an Eye on Its Massive Workforce.”

Started by: Ana Rosa Diaz, Breaux Bridge, Louisiana.
My name is Ana Rosa Diaz. I’m 40 years old and I have four children. I came to the United States on an H-2B guestworker visa from my home in Tamaulipas, Mexico. I work in a small town in Louisiana with other guestworkers, peeling crawfish for a company called C.J.’s Seafood, which sells 85% of its products to Walmart.
Our boss forces us to work up to 24 hours at a time with no overtime pay. No matter how fast we work, they scream and curse at us to make us work faster. Our supervisor threatens to beat us with a shovel to stop us from taking breaks.
We live in trailers across from the boss’s house, and we’re under surveillance all the time. The supervisors come into our trailers without warning, and they threaten to fire us if we leave after 9 p.m.
The supervisor also locked us in the plant so we couldn’t take breaks. One worker called 911. After that the boss rounded us up at 2:30 a.m., closed the door to keep the American employees out, and threatened our families.
He said, “As a friend I can be very good, but you don’t want to know me as an enemy. I have contacts with good people and bad people, and I know where all your families live. I can find you no matter where you hide.” We were terrified. 
We want to work. We need to support our families. But we also want to be treated like human beings.
We joined the National Guestworker Alliance and decided to go on strike. The boss refused to take back his threats against our families, so now we’re taking our demands to Walmart.
Walmart says it doesn’t allow forced labor by any of its suppliers. But Walmart is profiting from the forced labor we lived through right here in Louisiana. And now they’re trying to cover up what happened to us — while refusing even to speak with us.
Walmart needs to meet with us immediately, and to show its suppliers that it won’t tolerate forced labor. We’re demanding that Walmart:
1. Cancel its contract with C.J.’s Seafood to show that it won’t profit from forced labor in Louisiana.
2. Sit down with us, the striking workers, immediately as a first step toward a real investigation — rather than a cover-up.
3. Sign the NGA’s Guestworker Dignity Standards to prevent forced labor and guarantee civil and labor rights for guestworkers across the Walmart supply chain. 
Please sign and stand with us!

Social Media Surveillance

Published time: October 04, 2013 00:47

Improved surveillance, takedown of opposition websites for “illegal content” and paid pro-government commentators are among the increasingly sophisticated tools used by authorities to restrict internet freedom, a new report claims.
The 2013 Freedom on the Net report, compiled by non-profit Freedom House, says that 34 out of the 60 countries it surveyed suffered a falloff in internet freedom over the past year.

Iran, Cuba, China and Syria were ranked as countries with the greatest restrictions. China, which blocks millions of websites and employs thousands-strong armies of censors, “led the way in expanding an elaborate technological apparatus for system internet censorship, while further increasing offline coercion and arrests to deter freedom of expression online.”

Iceland, Estonia and Germany took the podium places in the ranking, followed by the United States.

Nonetheless, the US was castigated for a “troubling decline” in internet freedom, largely as a result of wide-ranging surveillance practices revealed through Edward Snowden’s NSA leaks.

Critics have raised concern that the secret NSA programs may violate the 4th Amendment of the United States Constitution, which protects people inside the US (citizens and non-citizens alike) from unreasonable search and seizure, as well as human rights enshrined in international agreements,” stated the report.
In 35 of the 60 countries examined, the government has “either obtained more sophisticated surveillance technology, increased the scope of people monitored, or passed a new law giving it greater monitoring authority.”


Researchers from the University of Amsterdam in the Netherlands have condemned the United States for allowing the controversial Patriot Act to bypass foreign laws and let Americans intercept data from persons internationally.

In a just published study, Cloud Computing in Higher Education and Research Institutions and the USA Patriot Act, researchers from the school’s Institute for Information Law say that legislation enacted to allegedly protect the security of US citizens has in the process eroded privacy protections on a global scale.
As more and more companies and individuals across the world begin relying on cloud computing to store information digitally on remote servers, the Dutch researchers warn that the Patriot Act and the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) allow for those files to be fed into the US intelligence community, disregarding privacy safeguards in place for others around the globe.


Britain’s so-called “snooper’s charter” bill is heating up debates among MPs as parliamentary reports on it are being prepared. The bill’s initiator has just released an emotional verbal offensive against the opponents, equaling them to criminals. READ MORE


The FBI has got tired of monitoring social media sites manually and wants to reinvent the process. So, soon your posts may instantly light up on a map as a big red dot if considered suspicious, marking the location of the ‘bad actor.’

­”Social media has become a primary source of intelligence because it has become the premier first response to key events and the primal alert to possible developing situations,” says the Request for Information published by FBI on January 19.

The FBI’s ‘market research’ shows that the bureau is planning to monitor all ‘publicly available’ data on social media sites through a new game-changing system.

The bureau is looking for a company which is interested in and capable of building such a system and has published a list of requirements for it.

The enquiry says that the system should provide an automated search and scrape capability of both social networking sites and open source news sites for breaking events, crises, and threats that meet the search parameters defined by the FBI.

It should also be capable of automated filtering of the data and of providing the operator with instant notification of breaking events and emerging threats.

The FBI places strong emphasis on the fact that the system should access only ‘publicly available’ data, taking every occurrence of this phrase in quotes throughout the whole document.

But most people do not realize that the data they are sharing with their friends on social networking sites is in fact publicly available.

The average user believes that only a narrow circle of close friends and relatives are reading his or her blog, and this gives them “the sense of freedom to say what they want without worrying too much about recourse,” says Jennifer Lynch at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, as cited by newscientist.com. “But these tools that mine open source data and presumably store it for a very long time do away with that kind of privacy. I worry about the effect of that on free speech in the US.”

All the collected data will be stored in the FBI database and conveniently displayed on a map upon request (by the way, FBI prefers Google, ESRI, and Yahoo maps to any other service). Of course the functionality of the map will be increased beyond the limits set for the common user.

The interactive map will have additional layers, such as US domestic and worldwide terror data, US embassies and military installations around the world, weather conditions and forecasts, and video feeds from surveillance and traffic cameras.

The revelation of the FBI’s ‘market research’ raises even more concerns about the aspects of private data safety on the Internet, as more and more data about the users is being collected and stored – for different reasons – in numerous databases around the globe.

Collecting the information in not a challenge anymore, but analyzing the data is. But there are companies, for example Google, which can crack such a problem.

Recently Google announced plans to bring all data collected from users’ separate accounts on its sites into a combined profile. Google is seeking ways of creating a simpler product experience and providing better services to its clients. But that move has triggered a lot of outrage and raised more questions about privacy on the Internet.

Published time: October 04, 2013 00:47

Improved surveillance, takedown of opposition websites for “illegal content” and paid pro-government commentators are among the increasingly sophisticated tools used by authorities to restrict internet freedom, a new report claims.
The 2013 Freedom on the Net report, compiled by non-profit Freedom House, says that 34 out of the 60 countries it surveyed suffered a falloff in internet freedom over the past year.

Iran, Cuba, China and Syria were ranked as countries with the greatest restrictions. China, which blocks millions of websites and employs thousands-strong armies of censors, “led the way in expanding an elaborate technological apparatus for system internet censorship, while further increasing offline coercion and arrests to deter freedom of expression online.”

Iceland, Estonia and Germany took the podium places in the ranking, followed by the United States.

Nonetheless, the US was castigated for a “troubling decline” in internet freedom, largely as a result of wide-ranging surveillance practices revealed through Edward Snowden’s NSA leaks.

Critics have raised concern that the secret NSA programs may violate the 4th Amendment of the United States Constitution, which protects people inside the US (citizens and non-citizens alike) from unreasonable search and seizure, as well as human rights enshrined in international agreements,” stated the report.
In 35 of the 60 countries examined, the government has “either obtained more sophisticated surveillance technology, increased the scope of people monitored, or passed a new law giving it greater monitoring authority.”


Researchers from the University of Amsterdam in the Netherlands have condemned the United States for allowing the controversial Patriot Act to bypass foreign laws and let Americans intercept data from persons internationally.

In a just published study, Cloud Computing in Higher Education and Research Institutions and the USA Patriot Act, researchers from the school’s Institute for Information Law say that legislation enacted to allegedly protect the security of US citizens has in the process eroded privacy protections on a global scale.
As more and more companies and individuals across the world begin relying on cloud computing to store information digitally on remote servers, the Dutch researchers warn that the Patriot Act and the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) allow for those files to be fed into the US intelligence community, disregarding privacy safeguards in place for others around the globe.


Britain’s so-called “snooper’s charter” bill is heating up debates among MPs as parliamentary reports on it are being prepared. The bill’s initiator has just released an emotional verbal offensive against the opponents, equaling them to criminals. READ MORE


The FBI has got tired of monitoring social media sites manually and wants to reinvent the process. So, soon your posts may instantly light up on a map as a big red dot if considered suspicious, marking the location of the ‘bad actor.’

­”Social media has become a primary source of intelligence because it has become the premier first response to key events and the primal alert to possible developing situations,” says the Request for Information published by FBI on January 19.

The FBI’s ‘market research’ shows that the bureau is planning to monitor all ‘publicly available’ data on social media sites through a new game-changing system.

The bureau is looking for a company which is interested in and capable of building such a system and has published a list of requirements for it.

The enquiry says that the system should provide an automated search and scrape capability of both social networking sites and open source news sites for breaking events, crises, and threats that meet the search parameters defined by the FBI.

It should also be capable of automated filtering of the data and of providing the operator with instant notification of breaking events and emerging threats.

The FBI places strong emphasis on the fact that the system should access only ‘publicly available’ data, taking every occurrence of this phrase in quotes throughout the whole document.

But most people do not realize that the data they are sharing with their friends on social networking sites is in fact publicly available.

The average user believes that only a narrow circle of close friends and relatives are reading his or her blog, and this gives them “the sense of freedom to say what they want without worrying too much about recourse,” says Jennifer Lynch at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, as cited by newscientist.com. “But these tools that mine open source data and presumably store it for a very long time do away with that kind of privacy. I worry about the effect of that on free speech in the US.”

All the collected data will be stored in the FBI database and conveniently displayed on a map upon request (by the way, FBI prefers Google, ESRI, and Yahoo maps to any other service). Of course the functionality of the map will be increased beyond the limits set for the common user.

The interactive map will have additional layers, such as US domestic and worldwide terror data, US embassies and military installations around the world, weather conditions and forecasts, and video feeds from surveillance and traffic cameras.

The revelation of the FBI’s ‘market research’ raises even more concerns about the aspects of private data safety on the Internet, as more and more data about the users is being collected and stored – for different reasons – in numerous databases around the globe.

Collecting the information in not a challenge anymore, but analyzing the data is. But there are companies, for example Google, which can crack such a problem.

Recently Google announced plans to bring all data collected from users’ separate accounts on its sites into a combined profile. Google is seeking ways of creating a simpler product experience and providing better services to its clients. But that move has triggered a lot of outrage and raised more questions about privacy on the Internet.

David Petraeus

The email accounts of Generals David Petraeus and John Allen aren’t the only ones being targeted by the feds. Google has released its bi-annual transparency report and says that the government’s demands for personal data is at an all-time high.

Internet giant Google published statistics from their latest analysis of requests from governments around the globe this week, and the findings show that it is hardly just the inboxes of the Pentagon’s top-brass that are being put under the microscope. Details pertaining to nearly 8,000 Google and Gmail accounts have been ordered by Uncle Sam during just the first six months of the year, and figures from the periods before suggest that things aren’t about to get any better for those wishing to protect their privacy.

“This is the sixth time we’ve released this data, and one trend has become clear: Government surveillance is on the rise,” Google acknowledges in a blog post published Tuesday, November 13.

From January through June, the US government filed more than 16,000 requests for user data from Google on as many as 7,969 individual accounts, the report shows.

The Silicon Valley company notes that “The number of requests we receive for user account information as part of criminal investigations has increased year after year,” but says that it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the government that’s ramping up the acceleration into a full-blown surveillance state. According to Google’s take, “The increase isn’t surprising, since each year we offer more products and services, and we have a larger number of users.”

For all of those requests in the US, Google says they complied with the government’s demands 90 percent of the time; but while it seems like a high number, that figure actually constitutes the smallest success rate the feds have had since Google began tracking these numbers in 2010. In a separate report published earlier this year by the Electronic Frontier Foundation, the San Francisco-based advocacy group awarded Google high praise for doing more than other industry titans in terms of letting feds force them into handing over information without good reason, citing specifically their efforts — albeit unsuccessfully — in handing over user info to the Justice Department during the start of its ongoing investigation into WikiLeaks.

Of the 20,938 user data request sent from governments around the globe, the United States came in first with the number of demands at 7,969, with India at a distant second with 2,319 requests. The US government’s success rate in terms of getting that information trumps most every other country, however, with full or partial compliance on the part of Google rarely exceeding 70 percent.

Elsewhere in the report, Google says it’s more than just surveillance of individual users that is on the rise. The US has also been adamant with censoring the Web, writing Google five times between January and June to take down YouTube videos critical of government, law enforcement or public officials. In regards to the five pleas to delete seven offending videos, Google says, “We did not remove content in response to these requests.”

The company was more willing to side with authorities in other cases, though, admitting to taking down 1,664 posts from a Google Groups community after a court order asked for the removal of 1,754 on the basis of “a case of continuous defamation against a man and his family.” Google also followed through with around one-third of the requests to remove search results that linked to websites that allegedly defamed organizations and individuals (223 of the 641 pleas) and say “the number of content removal requests we received increased by 46% compared to the previous reporting period.”

According to the report, Google only received one request from the US government to remove a video from YouTube on the grounds of ensuring “national security” but does not disclose the results of that plea. No further information is available in the report as to what the government demanded removed, but in the immediate aftermath of the September 11, 2012 terrorist attack in Benghazi originally blamed by many on an anti-Islamic video clip linked to a California man, Google rejected demands from the US to delete the ‘Innocence of Muslims’ from YouTube.

That isn’t to say that Washington is responsible for the bulk of the demands that end up on the desks of Google’s administrators. The report notes Google has received requests to remove search results that link to sites that host alleged copyright-infringing content more than 8 million times in just the last month, with more than 32,000 websites being singled out by the materials’ respective owners. Taking into account the last year and a half, the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) — the largest trade-group representing the US music industry — asked Google to stop linking to roughly 4.5 million URLs that they say hosted illegal content.

Last month, the Supreme Court heard arguments to decide whether or not a case can go forth that will challenge the FISA Amendment Act of 2008, an update to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act that allows the government to eavesdrop on emails sent as long as one of the persons involved is suspected of being out of the country. When asked earlier in the year to give an estimate of how many Americans have their electronic communications wiretapped by the National Security Administration, the inspector general of the NSA declined to issue a response, even to members of the Senate Intelligence Committee.

According to statements made by NSA whistleblower Bill Binney at the Hackers On Planet Earth (HOPE) conference in New York this year, the US government is “pulling together all the data about virtually every US citizen in the country and assembling that information, building communities that you have relationships with, and knowledge about you; what your activities are; what you’re doing.”


US President Barack Obama has backed a senior general, despite reports that he exchanged “flirtatious” emails with Florida socialite Jill Kelley.

Spokesman Jay Carney said Mr Obama had “faith” in Gen John Allen, chosen to be the next Nato commander in Europe.

Harassment allegations by Mrs Kelley helped unmask an affair between CIA Director David Petraeus and his biographer Paula Broadwell.

Gen Petraeus resigned on Friday. Gen Allen says he has done nothing wrong.

“I can tell you that the president thinks very highly of Gen Allen and his service to his country, as well as the job he has done in Afghanistan,” spokesman Jay Carney said, in the first White House reaction since Gen Petraeus quit.

He has great confidence in the acting CIA director, the secretary of defence and the defence department to carry out the missions he has asked of them”

He added that President Barack Obama was “very happy” with Gen Allen’s service and record.

Mr Carney also asked reporters “not to extrapolate too broadly” about whether the cases involving Gen Petraeus and Gen Allen suggested a wider cultural problem within the US military.

“He has great confidence in the acting CIA director, the secretary of defence and the defence department to carry out the missions he has asked of them,” Mr Carney added.

Nomination on hold

The Pentagon says 20-30,000 pages of Gen Allen’s documents are being examined, with officials saying they contain “potentially inappropriate” emails between the general and Mrs Kelley over the past two years.

An anonymous senior US official who has read the emails told the Associated Press that the exchanges were relatively innocuous, even though they might be construed as unprofessional and flirty.

The official said the emails included pet names such as “sweetheart” and “dear”, but did not suggest an affair or the exchange of classified information.

Gen Allen, 58, took over command of coalition forces in Afghanistan after David Petraeus moved to the CIA in 2011.

Currently commanding 68,000 US troops in Afghanistan, Gen Allen was due to face a confirmation hearing in the US Senate on Thursday for his new role as supreme commander of Nato forces in Europe.

That hearing has now been suspended at the request of Defence Secretary Leon Panetta.


Michael Hastings, the journalist behind the Rolling Stone article which resulted in McChrystal’s ouster, recently wrote for Buzzfeed that spin was crucial to the Iraqi surge: “he [Petraeus] pulled off what is perhaps the most impressive con job in recent American history. He convinced the entire Washington establishment that we won the war.”

Hastings characterized the policy as playing both sides in a civil war,
a policy which resulted in the death of 800 American soldiers and exponentially more Iraqis.

The sectarian fault lines resulting from this policy have left Iraq a powder keg waiting to go off. But it doesn’t matter as far as the target audience is concerned.

Quoting Petraeus’ 1987 Princeton dissertation, Hastings summed up the general’s professional philosophy:

“What policymakers believe to have taken place in any particular case is what matters — more than what actually occurred.”

In that light, the fall of Petraeus coincides with the one tragedy he managed where the perception and what actually occurred intersected: Benghazi.

During the Vice Presidential Debate in October, Joe Biden was accused of throwing the CIA under the bus by insinuating the agency had provided faulty intelligence regarding the 9/11 attack on the US consulate in Benghazi which resulted in the death of U.S. Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens and three members of his diplomatic mission.

The defrocking of Petraeus came one step closer on November 1, when it was revealed that Hillary Clinton called Petraeus the night of the attack asking for help that never came. While the “State Department believed it had a formal agreement with the CIA to provide backup security,””the CIA didn’t have the same understanding about its security responsibilities,” the Wall Street Journal reported.

The writing was on the wall. Petraeus was set to testify in closed-door sessions before the intelligence committees of the Senate and House of Representatives on Thursday, and with the White House’s less than glowing review of his performance, he would have had a venue to vindicate himself.

That “one of the greatest generals in a generation” resigned five days before speaking out has only spurred speculation that he is a patsy for a White House cover-up. His resignation coincidentally came a mere three days after Obama was re-elected, raising speculation regarding the timing of the general’s less than fortunate affair.

And misery loves company, as the current head of ISAF forces in Afghanistan might soon learn.
The nomination of US General John Allen as NATO’s Supreme Allied Commander in Europe was suspended over the probe into CIA Director David Petraeus. Allen was accused of exchanging “inappropriate” emails with a woman linked to Petraeus, though defense officials say the investigation will exonerate him.

There is no definite answer as to why Petraeus was exposed when he was, or who might go down with him. It might have simply been bad timing. Maybe Petraeus would have taken the hit for Benghazi and stayed on like a good soldier. Whatever the case, a few questions must be asked:

  • How long did the White House know about the affair?
  • Did the Obama Administration ask the FBI to suppress information regarding the case until after Election Day and if so, why?

­

Live by the media, die by the media

­The final cost of the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan (and by extension Pakistan) could run as high as $4.4 trillion when it is all said and done. There have been over 3000 coalition deaths in Afghanistan and 4,486 US troop deaths in Iraq. Civilian casualties run into the six digits. But affairs, off-color comments in Music magazines and being more interested in the war one is prosecuting than “fawning” over visiting lawmakers and the Washington elite are the sins that end military careers.


The White House said Tuesday that it was “up to Congress” whether to call former CIA Director David Petraeus to testify about the Sept. 11 attack in Benghazi, Libya.

“Congress [makes] decisions about who is called to testify,” press secretary Jay Carney told reporters at his daily briefing.

The Intelligence Committees of the Senate and House of Representatives had been set to hear from Petraeus about the attack on the American compound in separate closed-door hearings on Thursday. But aides to both panels indicated that the retired Army general would be replaced by Mike Morrell, the acting CIA director.

“The president is confident that Acting Director Morrell is fully informed and capable of representing the CIA in a hearing about the incidents in Benghazi,” Carney said.

Still, key senators have made it clear that Petraeus, whose shocking resignation came after the public disclosure of an extramarital affair, will ultimately need to be heard. The attack claimed the lives of U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans.

Senate Intelligence Committee Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein, a Democrat, told MSNBC on Monday that her panel “should go ahead with Mike Morell and the way it is now set up.”

“But I also think that the community should know that this is not sufficient,” she continued. “And I have no doubt now that we will need to talk with David Petraeus. And we will likely do that in closed session, but it will be done one way or the other.” Feinstein also said the Senate would fight, if necessary, to obtain a report from a Petraeus trip to Libya in late October.
“We have asked to see the trip report. One person tells me he has read it, and then we tried to get it and they tell me it hasn’t been done. That’s unacceptable,” she said. “We are entitled to this trip report, and if we have to go to the floor of the Senate on a subpoena, we will do just that.”


How a cyber-harassment complaint triggered a dragnet that toppled a CIA director

By

It’s hard to stay focused on what really matters in the unfolding David Petraeus story, but there’s one issue that every juicy new tidbit only underscores: the way a strange complaint to a lone FBI agent led to an electronic dragnet that toppled the CIA director and may yet bring down the top U.S. military commander in Afghanistan, Gen. John Allen.

I’ll admit to rubbernecking at each crazy new detail that emerges – the unnamed FBI agent who trigged the Petraeus probe had earlier sent shirtless photos of himself to Jill Kelley, the woman who asked for his help with anonymous harassing emails? Petraeus and Allen intervened in a child custody case on behalf of Kelley’s sister? Kelley, who is of Lebanese Catholic descent, is “a self-appointed go between” with Lebanese and other Mideastern officials? She once cooked alligator on the Food Network?
But the real scandal is the way a complaint about cyber-stalking from a Tampa socialite unleashed the power of the modern surveillance state on Petraeus’ biographer and paramour, Paula Broadwell – and ultimately, ironically or not, on the top spook himself.

Defenders of the surveillance state may point to national security questions about whether Petraeus was a victim of some kind of cyber-attack as a justification for the intrusion into Broadwell’s privacy, and then Petraeus’, and then the complaining Jill Kelley herself, and then Gen. John Allen. And who knows, by the end, maybe they’ll get to the bottom of something that might arguably raise national security concerns. (Marcy Wheeler raises the possibility that Kelley herself had intelligence ties, which might help explain why the FBI took her cyberstalking complaint seriously.) But none of that seems to have been on the table when the FBI decided to open its investigation of Kelley’s complaint.

The fact that Kelley’s FBI acquaintance eventually went to House Majority Whip Eric Cantor when he felt the FBI wasn’t taking the investigation seriously enough just adds another layer of grime to the story. The New York Times reported that the agent “suspected a politically motivated cover-up to protect President Obama.” Cantor admits he took the “whistleblower’s” concerns to FBI director Robert Mueller – as though Mueller wouldn’t know of his own agency’s investigation – just 10 days before the Nov. 6 election. While we can’t be sure Cantor’s motives were political – perhaps an embarrassing White House secret could become an October surprise? – we can’t be sure they weren’t.

So far there’s no evidence that politics drove the Petraeus investigation, from either direction, but the fact that politics was involved should remind us how easily the surveillance state can be used to advance political agendas or settle political scores. Just today Google revealed that it has received more than 16,000 U.S. government requests for user data in the first six months of this year alone (it complies with about 90 percent of requests, the report said.)


The F.B.I. investigation that toppled the director of the C.I.A. and now threatens to tarnish the reputation of the top American commander in Afghanistan underscores a danger that government investigators will unavoidably invade the private lives of Americans.


FBI’s abuse of the surveillance state

The Petraeus scandal is receiving intense media scrutiny obviously due to its salacious aspects, leaving one, as always, to fantasize about what a stellar press corps we would have if they devoted a tiny fraction of this energy to dissecting non-sex political scandals (this unintentionally amusing New York Times headline from this morning – “Concern Grows Over Top Military Officers’ Ethics” – illustrates that point: with all the crimes committed by the US military over the last decade and long before, it’s only adultery that causes “concern” over their “ethics”). Nonetheless, several of the emerging revelations are genuinely valuable, particularly those involving the conduct of the FBI and the reach of the US surveillance state.

As is now widely reported, the FBI investigation began when Jill Kelley – a Tampa socialite friendly with Petraeus (and apparently very friendly with Gen. John Allen, the four-star U.S. commander of the war in Afghanistan) – received a half-dozen or so anonymous emails that she found vaguely threatening. She then informed a friend of hers who was an FBI agent, and a major FBI investigation was then launched that set out to determine the identity of the anonymous emailer.

That is the first disturbing fact: it appears that the FBI not only devoted substantial resources, but also engaged in highly invasive surveillance, for no reason other than to do a personal favor for a friend of one of its agents, to find out who was very mildly harassing her by email. The emails Kelley received were, as the Daily Beast reports, quite banal and clearly not an event that warranted an FBI investigation:

“The emails that Jill Kelley showed an FBI friend near the start of last summer were not jealous lover warnings like ‘stay away from my man’, a knowledgeable source tells The Daily Beast. . . .
“‘More like, ‘Who do you think you are? . . .You parade around the base . . . You need to take it down a notch,'” according to the source, who was until recently at the highest levels of the intelligence community and prefers not to be identified by name.
“The source reports that the emails did make one reference to Gen. David Petraeus, but it was oblique and offered no manifest suggestion of a personal relationship or even that he was central to the sender’s spite. . . .
“When the FBI friend showed the emails to the cyber squad in the Tampa field office, her fellow agents noted the absence of any overt threats.
“No, ‘I’ll kill you’ or ‘I’ll burn your house down,” the source says. ‘It doesn’t seem really that bad.’
“The squad was not even sure the case was worth pursuing, the source says.
“‘What does this mean? There’s no threat there. This is against the law?’ the agents asked themselves by the source’s account.
“At most the messages were harassing. The cyber squad had to consult the statute books in its effort to determine whether there was adequate legal cause to open a case.
“‘It was a close call,’ the source says.
“What tipped it may have been Kelley’s friendship with the agent.”

That this deeply personal motive was what spawned the FBI investigation is bolstered by the fact that the initial investigating agent “was barred from taking part in the case over the summer due to superiors’ concerns that he was personally involved in the case” – indeed, “supervisors soon became concerned that the initial agent might have grown obsessed with the matter” – and was found to have “allegedly sent shirtless photos” to Kelley, and “is now under investigation by the Office of Professional Responsibility, the internal-affairs arm of the FBI”.

[The New York Times this morning reports that the FBI claims the emails contained references to parts of Petraeus’ schedule that were not publicly disclosed, though as Marcy Wheeler documents, the way the investigation proceeded strongly suggests that at least the initial impetus behind it was a desire to settle personal scores.]

What is most striking is how sweeping, probing and invasive the FBI’s investigation then became, all without any evidence of any actual crime – or the need for any search warrant:

“Because the sender’s account had been registered anonymously, investigators had to use forensic techniques – including a check of what other e-mail accounts had been accessed from the same computer address – to identify who was writing the e-mails.
“Eventually they identified Ms. Broadwell as a prime suspect and obtained access to her regular e-mail account. In its in-box, they discovered intimate and sexually explicit e-mails from another account that also was not immediately identifiable. Investigators eventually ascertained that it belonged to Mr. Petraeus and studied the possibility that someone had hacked into Mr. Petraeus’s account or was posing as him to send the explicit messages.”

So all based on a handful of rather unremarkable emails sent to a woman fortunate enough to have a friend at the FBI, the FBI traced all of Broadwell’s physical locations, learned of all the accounts she uses, ended up reading all of her emails, investigated the identity of her anonymous lover (who turned out to be Petraeus), and then possibly read his emails as well. They dug around in all of this without any evidence of any real crime – at most, they had a case of “cyber-harassment” more benign than what regularly appears in my email inbox and that of countless of other people – and, in large part, without the need for any warrant from a court.
But that isn’t all the FBI learned. It was revealed this morning that they also discovered “alleged inappropriate communication” to Kelley from Gen. Allen, who is not only the top commander in Afghanistan but was also just nominated by President Obama to be the Commander of US European Command and Supreme Allied Commander Europe (a nomination now “on hold”). Here, according to Reuters, is what the snooping FBI agents obtained about that [emphasis added]:

“The U.S. official said the FBI uncovered between 20,000 and 30,000 pages of communications – mostly emails spanning from 2010 to 2012 – between Allen and Jill Kelley . . . .
“Asked whether there was concern about the disclosure of classified information, the official said, on condition of anonymity: ‘We are concerned about inappropriate communications. We are not going to speculate as to what is contained in these documents.'”

So not only did the FBI – again, all without any real evidence of a crime – trace the locations and identity of Broadwell and Petreaus, and read through Broadwell’s emails (and possibly Petraeus’), but they also got their hands on and read through 20,000-30,000 pages of emails between Gen. Allen and Kelley.


Since 2008, the NSA has had the legal power to intercept all phone calls, emails and text messages sent by American citizens without probable cause. However, although long suspected, the agency has never admitted that it is analyzing the content of such messages, conceding only that persons, dates and locations are part of the snooping process. However, in a recent sworn declaration to the United States District Court for the Northern District of California, Binney, a former NSA employee with the signals intelligence agency within the DoD, divulges that the federal agency, has the capability to do individualized searches, similar to Google, for particular electronic communications in real time through such criteria as target addresses, locations, countries and phone numbers, as well as watch-listed names, keywords, and phrases in email. Using as many as twenty data intercept centers throughout the United States which can each store an almost unimaginable quantity of information, Binney notes that, The sheer size of that capacity indicates that the NSA is not filtering personal electronic communications such as email before storage but is, in fact, storing all that they are collecting.

http://www.infowars.com/whistleblower-nsa-analyzing-conversations-in-real-time/


The dramatic downfall of CIA chief David Petraeus has given rise to political intrigue in Washington as a drip-feed of details concerning his clandestine affair mixes with serious questions over the timing of the resignation.

Over the weekend it emerged that his relationship with biographer Paula Broadwell was discovered by FBI agents while they investigated harassing emails she allegedly sent to a second woman, who was named on Sunday by the Associated Press as Jill Kelley, a state department military liaison.

The scandal comes at a particularly sensitive time. Petraeus had been due to give evidence before a Congressional body this coming Thursday concerning the attack on the US consulate in Benghazi in which four Americans were killed, including America’s ambassador to Libya, Chris Stevens.

It is now thought that Petraeus will not attend the session, robbing politicians of the opportunity to question an “absolutely necessary witness”, according to Peter King, chairman of the House homeland security committee.

White House and intelligence officials have suggested that there is no connection between the timing of Petraeus’s resignation and the evidence session on the Benghazi attack.

But in Washington, questions are being asked as to why the FBI appeared to have sat on the information it uncovered regarding the affair before handing it on to other authorities some time later.

Intelligence officials have suggested that Petraeus was first questioned over the nature of his relationship with Broadwell two weeks ago.

But it was only on the night of the presidential election that national intelligence director James Clapper was notified of the affair. It is thought that Clapper then advised the CIA chief to resign.

Even then, it was not until the next day that the White House was informed of the situation. It then took a further day before newly re-elected President Barack Obama was told that his intelligence chief was to tender his resignation.

Meanwhile, the Senate intelligence committee only heard about the matter on Friday, just hours before the CIA director announced he was to step down.

Further confusing the timeline of events were reports on Sunday that leading House Republican Eric Cantor had been informed by an FBI whistleblower of the brewing Petraeus scandal two weeks ago.

If true, it would raise the prospect that the affair was known in Washington circles before Friday’s resignation.

House Republican King said on Sunday that the account of who knew what and when “doesn’t add up”, saying that there were a lot of unanswered questions.

The FBI had an “obligation” to tell the president as soon as they had identified a possible security breach, he told CNN’s State of the Union.

Meanwhile, other politicians said that Petraeus may still be compelled to give evidence concerning the 11 September attack in Benghazi.

“We may well ask him,” senator Dianne Feinstein, chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, told Fox News Sunday.

Congress is keen to question the former four-star general over what the CIA knew in advance of the assault, and importantly, what it had told the White House in regards to the nature of the terrorist threat.

In the run-up to last week’s election, senior Republicans accused the White House of misleading Americans over claims that it was not made aware of requests to bolster security in advance of the assault.

It is on this point that Petraeus was expected to be questioned at Thursday’s Congressional hearing. Following his resignation, it is thought that his former deputy, Michael Morell, will testify before Washington in his place as acting director of the CIA.

Morell is slated to meet with Congressional figures on Wednesday to discuss the Petraeus affair in a bid to curtail lingering suspicions over the timing of the resignation.

The political fallout from Friday’s resignation comes amid a personal crisis for a man often referred to as the leading American military mind of his generation.

In the days following his announcement to step down, a steady flow of leaks to the US media have given more detail to the affair that cost Petraeus his job.

The makings of his downfall were in a series of apparently vicious emails sent by his lover – a 40-year-old former army reservist who co-authored All In, a fawning biography of the CIA chief – to Kelley, a state department liaison to the military’s Joint Special Operations Command.

It is thought that the threatening nature of the missives led the Florida-based recipient to seek the protection of the FBI.

An investigation of Broadwell’s personal email account uncovered letters of an explicit nature between her and Petraeus, who has been married for the past 38 years to his wife Holly.

It was then that agents approached the CIA chief directly. Having eliminated the threat of a security breach, it was decided that no further action would be taken by the FBI.

But the damage to Petraeus’s reputation was clear, and having consulted with Clapper, the decision to resign was made.

In a letter to staff explaining his move, the now outgoing CIA boss said: “Such behaviour is unacceptable, both as a husband and as the leader of an organisation such as ours.”

Others close to Petraeus had an even more blunt assessment of the scandal. “He screwed up, he knows he screwed up,” said Steve Boylan, a retired army officer and Petraeus’s former spokesman.


Retired Gen. David Petraeus, who resigned as CIA director last week after admitting an extramarital relationship, could possibly face military prosecution for adultery if officials turn up any evidence to counter his apparent claims that the affair began after he left the military.

The affair between Petraeus and his biographer, Paula Broadwell, both of whom are married, began several months after his retirement from the Army in August 2011 and ended four months ago, retired U.S. Army Col. Steve Boylan, a former Petraeus spokesman, told ABC News.

Broadwell, 40, had extraordinary access to the 60-year-old general during six trips she took to Afghanistan as his official biographer, a plum assignment for a novice writer.

“For him to allow the very first biography to be written about him, to be written by someone who had never written a book before, seemed very odd to me,” former Petraeus aide Peter Mansoor told ABC News.

The timeline of the relationship, according to Patraeus, would mean that he was carrying on the affair for the majority of his tenure at the CIA, where he began as director Sept. 6, 2011. If he carried on the affair while serving in the Army, however, Patraeus could face charges, according to Article 134 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice, which reprimands conduct “of a nature to bring discredit upon the armed forces.”
Whether the military would pursue such action, whatever evidence it accumulates, is unclear.

As the details of the investigation launched by the FBI unraveled this weekend, it became clear that the woman at the heart of the inquiry that led to Petraeus’ downfall had been identified as Jill Kelley, a Florida woman who volunteers to help the military. She is a family friend of Petraeus, who Broadwell apparently felt threatened by.

Kelley and her husband are longtime supporters of the military, and six months ago she was named “Honorary Ambassador to Central Command” for her volunteer work with the military. Officials say Kelley is not romantically linked to Petraeus, but befriended the general and his wife when he was stationed in Florida.

The Kelleys spent Christmases in group settings with the Petraeuses and visited them in Washington D.C., where Kelley’s sister and her son live.

“We and our family have been friends with Gen. Petraeus and his family for over five years.” Kelley said in a statement Sunday. “We respect his and his family’s privacy and want the same for us and our three children.”
Earlier this year, around the time that Petraeus and Broadwell were breaking off their affair, Kelly began receiving anonymous emails, which she found so threatening she went to authorities. The FBI traced the messages to Broadwell’s computer, where they found other salacious and explicit emails between Broadwell and Petraeus that made it clear to officials that the two were carrying on an affair.

Investigators uncovered no compromising of classified information or criminal activity, sources familiar with the probe said, adding that all that was found was a lot of “human drama.”

Broadwell, a married mother of two, had access to Petraeus while she was with him in Afghanistan as his official biographer. People close to the general had previously suspected Broadwell’s feelings for him had crossed a professional line.

They found Broadwell, who spent a year embedded with Petraeus in Afghanistan, to be embarrassing and far too “gushy” about him. They said to one another they thought Broadwell “was in love with him,” sources told ABC News.

Petraeus is said to have been the one to have broken off the extramarital affair.

His storied career, first as the public face of two wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and later as director of the CIA, came crashing down Friday when he announced his resignation from the intelligence agency, citing the indiscretion.

“After being married for over 37 years, I showed extremely poor judgment by engaging in an extramarital affair. Such behavior is unacceptable, both as a husband and as the leader of an organization such as ours,” Petraeus said in a statement Friday.

Director of National Intelligence James Clapper was made aware of the Petraeus situation Tuesday evening around 5 p.m. by the FBI, according to a senior intelligence source.

After having several conversations with Petraeus that evening and the next day, Clapper advised Petraeus that the best thing to do would be for him to resign, the source said.

Clapper notified the White House the next afternoon that Petraeus was considering resigning, according to the source. Petraeus then went to the White House Thursday and told the president he thought he should resign, and Obama accepted his resignation the next day, the source said.

Despite the lengthy investigation into Broadwell by the FBI, the White House says it was not made aware of it until Wednesday, the day after the election, a revelation that surprised many.

“It just doesn’t add up. That the FBI would be carrying on this type of investigation without, again, bringing it to the president or the highest levels of the White House,” Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y., said.

Petraeus and his wife, Holly, who have been married for 38 years, are said to be staying in their Arlington Home and are doing “OK.”

“Knowing the family, I suspect it will be hard work, but given the effort, they will get through it,” Boylan, the former Petraeus spokesman, said.

Numerous questions still remain about the investigation, and some on Capitol Hill are also frustrated because Petraeus was schedule to testify to the House and Senate intelligence committees about the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, in September.

The timing of Petraeus’ resignation “was what it was,” an official told ABC News, adding that the time had come to tie up any loose ends in the investigation and confront the general.


One of America’s best known military leaders, and CIA head David Petraeus, has abruptly announced his resignation. Stepping down, Petraeus admitted to an extramarital affair, saying he was guilty of “unacceptable” behavior. Ex-military intelligence officer, Lieutenant-Colonel Tony Shaffer told RT there’s more behind the resignation than just moral issues.

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – David Petraeus was a star on the battlefield, commanding the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, but was undone by “poor judgment” in engaging in an extramarital affair that led to his downfall as CIA director.

Petraeus, who was widely celebrated as a military commander and even occasionally mentioned as a potential presidential candidate, was sworn in as head of the CIA in September 2011 – and had kept a low profile since. Now speculation is sure to proliferate over whether that low profile resulted from Petraeus focusing on America’s intelligence gathering or on personal matters.

In particular, members of Congress and other officials demanding answers about the Benghazi attack on the US consulate that resulted in the deaths of four Americans – including the US ambassador to Libya, Christopher Stephens, and two CIA agents – will want to know if there was any link between Petraeus’s extramarital activities and what has been increasingly criticized as the CIA’s weak performance on the night of the Benghazi attack.

More broadly, the reason for Petraeus’s departure will raise questions about any compromising of US covert operations and intelligence. The potential for blackmail of intelligence officers is always a concern about the spy corps, but the involvement of the nation’s top spy in an extramarital affair takes the concern to a new level.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation has been probing Petraeus and the potential security risks posed by his affair, CNN reported late Friday afternoon.

In the weeks since the Benghazi attack, officials have leaked information, including how Petraeus kept information on the CIA’s role in Benghazi so private that even Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton was left to call Petraeus as the attack unfolded to try to get intelligence information from him.

Last week, CIA officials revealed that in fact, the intelligence agency’s operations in Benghazi dwarfed diplomatic operations at the consulate and that the CIA maintained what was described as an “annex,” about a mile from the diplomatic mission.

State Department officials have said there was an informal understanding that the annex and its agents would come to the assistance of the consulate (which had private contractors providing security) if a need arose. CIA officials insist their agents responded to the consulate’s distress calls within a half-hour.

Just two days after his 60th birthday, Petraeus stepped down from the spy agency where he had held the top office since September 6, 2011.

“After being married for over 37 years, I showed extremely poor judgment by engaging in an extramarital affair. Such behavior is unacceptable, both as a husband and as the leader of an organization such as ours. This afternoon, the President graciously accepted my resignation,” Petraeus told the shadow warriors he commanded at CIA.

It was a stunning downfall for a revered military man who was seen as one of the top American leaders of his generation and was once considered a potential contender for the White House.

Petraeus was credited with pulling Iraq from the brink of all-out civil war and for battlefield successes in Afghanistan after overseeing a surge of 30,000 troops ordered by President Barack Obama in late 2009. He became known for counter-insurgency strategies that were seen as gaining ground against the Taliban in Afghanistan.

“I don’t think he was professionally overrated. His were genuine accomplishments,” said James Carafano, a war historian with the conservative Heritage Foundation think tank.

At the time of his nomination to the CIA post, some Washington insiders had said the White House wanted to find a prominent position for Petraeus to ensure he would not be recruited by Republicans as a challenger to the 2012 Obama-Biden ticket.

When he was nominated to lead the CIA there were some concerns in intelligence circles that the high-profile four-star Army general might not be able to lead from the shadows as appropriate for a spy chief.

But once he took over the head office at the U.S. spy agency, Petraeus kept a decidedly low public profile.
Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Dianne Feinstein, a Democrat, expressed regret about the resignation of “one of America’s best and brightest” and said it was an “enormous loss” for the country.
“At CIA, Director Petraeus gave the agency leadership, stature, prestige and credibility both at home and abroad. On a personal level, I found his command of intelligence issues second to none,” she said.

RESIGNATION ACCEPTED

After accepting his resignation about a year-and-a-half after nominating Petraeus to the CIA post, Obama said: “By any measure, he was one of the outstanding General officers of his generation, helping our military adapt to new challenges, and leading our men and women in uniform through a remarkable period of service in Iraq and Afghanistan, where he helped our nation put those wars on a path to a responsible end.”

Earlier this week, in a Newsweek article entitled “General David Petraeus’s Rules for Living,” he listed 12 lessons for leadership. Number 5 was: “We all will make mistakes. The key is to recognize them and admit them, to learn from them, and to take off the rear­ view mirrors – drive on and avoid making them again.”

In 2010 Petraeus stepped into the breach as the new commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan to replace General Stanley McChrystal who was fired by Obama in a scandal over an article in which McChrystal and his aides made mocking comments about the president and some of his top advisers.

In 2009 Petraeus was diagnosed with early-stage prostate cancer and underwent radiation treatment. The media-friendly general joked at that time at a Washington event that reporters were only gathered “to see if the guy is still alive.”

Petraeus, born in Cornwall, New York, lives in Virginia with his wife Holly. They have two grown children, a son who was an Army Ranger who served in Afghanistan, and a daughter.

Petraeus’s wife, Holly, is an activist and volunteer who champions military families, and she continued that work after her husband retired from the military and moved to the CIA.

She currently is assistant director of the office of servicemember affairs at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, where she tries to keep unscrupulous lenders from taking advantage of military personnel. The bureau was championed by Harvard law professor Elizabeth Warren, who was elected to the Senate from Massachusetts this week.

Holly Petraeus is the daughter of four-star General William Knowlton, who was superintendent of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point when Petraeus was a cadet.

She briefed the press at the Pentagon on her efforts recently and was introduced by Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, who called her “a true friend of the Department of Defense and a dedicated member of our military family.”

Petraeus has four Defense Distinguished Service Medal awards, three Distinguished Service Medal awards, the Bronze Star Medal for valor, and the State Department Distinguished Service Award.

He has a doctorate in international relations from Princeton University.

(Additional reporting by David Alexander, Matt Spetalnick and Diane Bartz; Editing by Warren Strobel and Jackie Frank)

The email accounts of Generals David Petraeus and John Allen aren’t the only ones being targeted by the feds. Google has released its bi-annual transparency report and says that the government’s demands for personal data is at an all-time high.

Internet giant Google published statistics from their latest analysis of requests from governments around the globe this week, and the findings show that it is hardly just the inboxes of the Pentagon’s top-brass that are being put under the microscope. Details pertaining to nearly 8,000 Google and Gmail accounts have been ordered by Uncle Sam during just the first six months of the year, and figures from the periods before suggest that things aren’t about to get any better for those wishing to protect their privacy.

“This is the sixth time we’ve released this data, and one trend has become clear: Government surveillance is on the rise,” Google acknowledges in a blog post published Tuesday, November 13.

From January through June, the US government filed more than 16,000 requests for user data from Google on as many as 7,969 individual accounts, the report shows.

The Silicon Valley company notes that “The number of requests we receive for user account information as part of criminal investigations has increased year after year,” but says that it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the government that’s ramping up the acceleration into a full-blown surveillance state. According to Google’s take, “The increase isn’t surprising, since each year we offer more products and services, and we have a larger number of users.”

For all of those requests in the US, Google says they complied with the government’s demands 90 percent of the time; but while it seems like a high number, that figure actually constitutes the smallest success rate the feds have had since Google began tracking these numbers in 2010. In a separate report published earlier this year by the Electronic Frontier Foundation, the San Francisco-based advocacy group awarded Google high praise for doing more than other industry titans in terms of letting feds force them into handing over information without good reason, citing specifically their efforts — albeit unsuccessfully — in handing over user info to the Justice Department during the start of its ongoing investigation into WikiLeaks.

Of the 20,938 user data request sent from governments around the globe, the United States came in first with the number of demands at 7,969, with India at a distant second with 2,319 requests. The US government’s success rate in terms of getting that information trumps most every other country, however, with full or partial compliance on the part of Google rarely exceeding 70 percent.

Elsewhere in the report, Google says it’s more than just surveillance of individual users that is on the rise. The US has also been adamant with censoring the Web, writing Google five times between January and June to take down YouTube videos critical of government, law enforcement or public officials. In regards to the five pleas to delete seven offending videos, Google says, “We did not remove content in response to these requests.”

The company was more willing to side with authorities in other cases, though, admitting to taking down 1,664 posts from a Google Groups community after a court order asked for the removal of 1,754 on the basis of “a case of continuous defamation against a man and his family.” Google also followed through with around one-third of the requests to remove search results that linked to websites that allegedly defamed organizations and individuals (223 of the 641 pleas) and say “the number of content removal requests we received increased by 46% compared to the previous reporting period.”

According to the report, Google only received one request from the US government to remove a video from YouTube on the grounds of ensuring “national security” but does not disclose the results of that plea. No further information is available in the report as to what the government demanded removed, but in the immediate aftermath of the September 11, 2012 terrorist attack in Benghazi originally blamed by many on an anti-Islamic video clip linked to a California man, Google rejected demands from the US to delete the ‘Innocence of Muslims’ from YouTube.

That isn’t to say that Washington is responsible for the bulk of the demands that end up on the desks of Google’s administrators. The report notes Google has received requests to remove search results that link to sites that host alleged copyright-infringing content more than 8 million times in just the last month, with more than 32,000 websites being singled out by the materials’ respective owners. Taking into account the last year and a half, the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) — the largest trade-group representing the US music industry — asked Google to stop linking to roughly 4.5 million URLs that they say hosted illegal content.

Last month, the Supreme Court heard arguments to decide whether or not a case can go forth that will challenge the FISA Amendment Act of 2008, an update to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act that allows the government to eavesdrop on emails sent as long as one of the persons involved is suspected of being out of the country. When asked earlier in the year to give an estimate of how many Americans have their electronic communications wiretapped by the National Security Administration, the inspector general of the NSA declined to issue a response, even to members of the Senate Intelligence Committee.

According to statements made by NSA whistleblower Bill Binney at the Hackers On Planet Earth (HOPE) conference in New York this year, the US government is “pulling together all the data about virtually every US citizen in the country and assembling that information, building communities that you have relationships with, and knowledge about you; what your activities are; what you’re doing.”


US President Barack Obama has backed a senior general, despite reports that he exchanged “flirtatious” emails with Florida socialite Jill Kelley.

Spokesman Jay Carney said Mr Obama had “faith” in Gen John Allen, chosen to be the next Nato commander in Europe.

Harassment allegations by Mrs Kelley helped unmask an affair between CIA Director David Petraeus and his biographer Paula Broadwell.

Gen Petraeus resigned on Friday. Gen Allen says he has done nothing wrong.

“I can tell you that the president thinks very highly of Gen Allen and his service to his country, as well as the job he has done in Afghanistan,” spokesman Jay Carney said, in the first White House reaction since Gen Petraeus quit.

He has great confidence in the acting CIA director, the secretary of defence and the defence department to carry out the missions he has asked of them”

He added that President Barack Obama was “very happy” with Gen Allen’s service and record.

Mr Carney also asked reporters “not to extrapolate too broadly” about whether the cases involving Gen Petraeus and Gen Allen suggested a wider cultural problem within the US military.

“He has great confidence in the acting CIA director, the secretary of defence and the defence department to carry out the missions he has asked of them,” Mr Carney added.

Nomination on hold

The Pentagon says 20-30,000 pages of Gen Allen’s documents are being examined, with officials saying they contain “potentially inappropriate” emails between the general and Mrs Kelley over the past two years.

An anonymous senior US official who has read the emails told the Associated Press that the exchanges were relatively innocuous, even though they might be construed as unprofessional and flirty.

The official said the emails included pet names such as “sweetheart” and “dear”, but did not suggest an affair or the exchange of classified information.

Gen Allen, 58, took over command of coalition forces in Afghanistan after David Petraeus moved to the CIA in 2011.

Currently commanding 68,000 US troops in Afghanistan, Gen Allen was due to face a confirmation hearing in the US Senate on Thursday for his new role as supreme commander of Nato forces in Europe.

That hearing has now been suspended at the request of Defence Secretary Leon Panetta.


Michael Hastings, the journalist behind the Rolling Stone article which resulted in McChrystal’s ouster, recently wrote for Buzzfeed that spin was crucial to the Iraqi surge: “he [Petraeus] pulled off what is perhaps the most impressive con job in recent American history. He convinced the entire Washington establishment that we won the war.”

Hastings characterized the policy as playing both sides in a civil war,
a policy which resulted in the death of 800 American soldiers and exponentially more Iraqis.

The sectarian fault lines resulting from this policy have left Iraq a powder keg waiting to go off. But it doesn’t matter as far as the target audience is concerned.

Quoting Petraeus’ 1987 Princeton dissertation, Hastings summed up the general’s professional philosophy:

“What policymakers believe to have taken place in any particular case is what matters — more than what actually occurred.”

In that light, the fall of Petraeus coincides with the one tragedy he managed where the perception and what actually occurred intersected: Benghazi.

During the Vice Presidential Debate in October, Joe Biden was accused of throwing the CIA under the bus by insinuating the agency had provided faulty intelligence regarding the 9/11 attack on the US consulate in Benghazi which resulted in the death of U.S. Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens and three members of his diplomatic mission.

The defrocking of Petraeus came one step closer on November 1, when it was revealed that Hillary Clinton called Petraeus the night of the attack asking for help that never came. While the “State Department believed it had a formal agreement with the CIA to provide backup security,””the CIA didn’t have the same understanding about its security responsibilities,” the Wall Street Journal reported.

The writing was on the wall. Petraeus was set to testify in closed-door sessions before the intelligence committees of the Senate and House of Representatives on Thursday, and with the White House’s less than glowing review of his performance, he would have had a venue to vindicate himself.

That “one of the greatest generals in a generation” resigned five days before speaking out has only spurred speculation that he is a patsy for a White House cover-up. His resignation coincidentally came a mere three days after Obama was re-elected, raising speculation regarding the timing of the general’s less than fortunate affair.

And misery loves company, as the current head of ISAF forces in Afghanistan might soon learn.
The nomination of US General John Allen as NATO’s Supreme Allied Commander in Europe was suspended over the probe into CIA Director David Petraeus. Allen was accused of exchanging “inappropriate” emails with a woman linked to Petraeus, though defense officials say the investigation will exonerate him.

There is no definite answer as to why Petraeus was exposed when he was, or who might go down with him. It might have simply been bad timing. Maybe Petraeus would have taken the hit for Benghazi and stayed on like a good soldier. Whatever the case, a few questions must be asked:

  • How long did the White House know about the affair?
  • Did the Obama Administration ask the FBI to suppress information regarding the case until after Election Day and if so, why?

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Live by the media, die by the media

­The final cost of the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan (and by extension Pakistan) could run as high as $4.4 trillion when it is all said and done. There have been over 3000 coalition deaths in Afghanistan and 4,486 US troop deaths in Iraq. Civilian casualties run into the six digits. But affairs, off-color comments in Music magazines and being more interested in the war one is prosecuting than “fawning” over visiting lawmakers and the Washington elite are the sins that end military careers.


The White House said Tuesday that it was “up to Congress” whether to call former CIA Director David Petraeus to testify about the Sept. 11 attack in Benghazi, Libya.

“Congress [makes] decisions about who is called to testify,” press secretary Jay Carney told reporters at his daily briefing.

The Intelligence Committees of the Senate and House of Representatives had been set to hear from Petraeus about the attack on the American compound in separate closed-door hearings on Thursday. But aides to both panels indicated that the retired Army general would be replaced by Mike Morrell, the acting CIA director.

“The president is confident that Acting Director Morrell is fully informed and capable of representing the CIA in a hearing about the incidents in Benghazi,” Carney said.

Still, key senators have made it clear that Petraeus, whose shocking resignation came after the public disclosure of an extramarital affair, will ultimately need to be heard. The attack claimed the lives of U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans.

Senate Intelligence Committee Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein, a Democrat, told MSNBC on Monday that her panel “should go ahead with Mike Morell and the way it is now set up.”

“But I also think that the community should know that this is not sufficient,” she continued. “And I have no doubt now that we will need to talk with David Petraeus. And we will likely do that in closed session, but it will be done one way or the other.” Feinstein also said the Senate would fight, if necessary, to obtain a report from a Petraeus trip to Libya in late October.
“We have asked to see the trip report. One person tells me he has read it, and then we tried to get it and they tell me it hasn’t been done. That’s unacceptable,” she said. “We are entitled to this trip report, and if we have to go to the floor of the Senate on a subpoena, we will do just that.”


How a cyber-harassment complaint triggered a dragnet that toppled a CIA director

It’s hard to stay focused on what really matters in the unfolding David Petraeus story, but there’s one issue that every juicy new tidbit only underscores: the way a strange complaint to a lone FBI agent led to an electronic dragnet that toppled the CIA director and may yet bring down the top U.S. military commander in Afghanistan, Gen. John Allen.

I’ll admit to rubbernecking at each crazy new detail that emerges – the unnamed FBI agent who trigged the Petraeus probe had earlier sent shirtless photos of himself to Jill Kelley, the woman who asked for his help with anonymous harassing emails? Petraeus and Allen intervened in a child custody case on behalf of Kelley’s sister? Kelley, who is of Lebanese Catholic descent, is “a self-appointed go between” with Lebanese and other Mideastern officials? She once cooked alligator on the Food Network?
But the real scandal is the way a complaint about cyber-stalking from a Tampa socialite unleashed the power of the modern surveillance state on Petraeus’ biographer and paramour, Paula Broadwell – and ultimately, ironically or not, on the top spook himself.

Defenders of the surveillance state may point to national security questions about whether Petraeus was a victim of some kind of cyber-attack as a justification for the intrusion into Broadwell’s privacy, and then Petraeus’, and then the complaining Jill Kelley herself, and then Gen. John Allen. And who knows, by the end, maybe they’ll get to the bottom of something that might arguably raise national security concerns. (Marcy Wheeler raises the possibility that Kelley herself had intelligence ties, which might help explain why the FBI took her cyberstalking complaint seriously.) But none of that seems to have been on the table when the FBI decided to open its investigation of Kelley’s complaint.

The fact that Kelley’s FBI acquaintance eventually went to House Majority Whip Eric Cantor when he felt the FBI wasn’t taking the investigation seriously enough just adds another layer of grime to the story. The New York Times reported that the agent “suspected a politically motivated cover-up to protect President Obama.” Cantor admits he took the “whistleblower’s” concerns to FBI director Robert Mueller – as though Mueller wouldn’t know of his own agency’s investigation – just 10 days before the Nov. 6 election. While we can’t be sure Cantor’s motives were political – perhaps an embarrassing White House secret could become an October surprise? – we can’t be sure they weren’t.

So far there’s no evidence that politics drove the Petraeus investigation, from either direction, but the fact that politics was involved should remind us how easily the surveillance state can be used to advance political agendas or settle political scores. Just today Google revealed that it has received more than 16,000 U.S. government requests for user data in the first six months of this year alone (it complies with about 90 percent of requests, the report said.)


The F.B.I. investigation that toppled the director of the C.I.A. and now threatens to tarnish the reputation of the top American commander in Afghanistan underscores a danger that government investigators will unavoidably invade the private lives of Americans.


FBI’s abuse of the surveillance state

The Petraeus scandal is receiving intense media scrutiny obviously due to its salacious aspects, leaving one, as always, to fantasize about what a stellar press corps we would have if they devoted a tiny fraction of this energy to dissecting non-sex political scandals (this unintentionally amusing New York Times headline from this morning – “Concern Grows Over Top Military Officers’ Ethics” – illustrates that point: with all the crimes committed by the US military over the last decade and long before, it’s only adultery that causes “concern” over their “ethics”). Nonetheless, several of the emerging revelations are genuinely valuable, particularly those involving the conduct of the FBI and the reach of the US surveillance state.

As is now widely reported, the FBI investigation began when Jill Kelley – a Tampa socialite friendly with Petraeus (and apparently very friendly with Gen. John Allen, the four-star U.S. commander of the war in Afghanistan) – received a half-dozen or so anonymous emails that she found vaguely threatening. She then informed a friend of hers who was an FBI agent, and a major FBI investigation was then launched that set out to determine the identity of the anonymous emailer.

That is the first disturbing fact: it appears that the FBI not only devoted substantial resources, but also engaged in highly invasive surveillance, for no reason other than to do a personal favor for a friend of one of its agents, to find out who was very mildly harassing her by email. The emails Kelley received were, as the Daily Beast reports, quite banal and clearly not an event that warranted an FBI investigation:

“The emails that Jill Kelley showed an FBI friend near the start of last summer were not jealous lover warnings like ‘stay away from my man’, a knowledgeable source tells The Daily Beast. . . .
“‘More like, ‘Who do you think you are? . . .You parade around the base . . . You need to take it down a notch,'” according to the source, who was until recently at the highest levels of the intelligence community and prefers not to be identified by name.
“The source reports that the emails did make one reference to Gen. David Petraeus, but it was oblique and offered no manifest suggestion of a personal relationship or even that he was central to the sender’s spite. . . .
“When the FBI friend showed the emails to the cyber squad in the Tampa field office, her fellow agents noted the absence of any overt threats.
“No, ‘I’ll kill you’ or ‘I’ll burn your house down,” the source says. ‘It doesn’t seem really that bad.’
“The squad was not even sure the case was worth pursuing, the source says.
“‘What does this mean? There’s no threat there. This is against the law?’ the agents asked themselves by the source’s account.
“At most the messages were harassing. The cyber squad had to consult the statute books in its effort to determine whether there was adequate legal cause to open a case.
“‘It was a close call,’ the source says.
“What tipped it may have been Kelley’s friendship with the agent.”

That this deeply personal motive was what spawned the FBI investigation is bolstered by the fact that the initial investigating agent “was barred from taking part in the case over the summer due to superiors’ concerns that he was personally involved in the case” – indeed, “supervisors soon became concerned that the initial agent might have grown obsessed with the matter” – and was found to have “allegedly sent shirtless photos” to Kelley, and “is now under investigation by the Office of Professional Responsibility, the internal-affairs arm of the FBI”.

[The New York Times this morning reports that the FBI claims the emails contained references to parts of Petraeus’ schedule that were not publicly disclosed, though as Marcy Wheeler documents, the way the investigation proceeded strongly suggests that at least the initial impetus behind it was a desire to settle personal scores.]

What is most striking is how sweeping, probing and invasive the FBI’s investigation then became, all without any evidence of any actual crime – or the need for any search warrant:

“Because the sender’s account had been registered anonymously, investigators had to use forensic techniques – including a check of what other e-mail accounts had been accessed from the same computer address – to identify who was writing the e-mails.
“Eventually they identified Ms. Broadwell as a prime suspect and obtained access to her regular e-mail account. In its in-box, they discovered intimate and sexually explicit e-mails from another account that also was not immediately identifiable. Investigators eventually ascertained that it belonged to Mr. Petraeus and studied the possibility that someone had hacked into Mr. Petraeus’s account or was posing as him to send the explicit messages.”

So all based on a handful of rather unremarkable emails sent to a woman fortunate enough to have a friend at the FBI, the FBI traced all of Broadwell’s physical locations, learned of all the accounts she uses, ended up reading all of her emails, investigated the identity of her anonymous lover (who turned out to be Petraeus), and then possibly read his emails as well. They dug around in all of this without any evidence of any real crime – at most, they had a case of “cyber-harassment” more benign than what regularly appears in my email inbox and that of countless of other people – and, in large part, without the need for any warrant from a court.
But that isn’t all the FBI learned. It was revealed this morning that they also discovered “alleged inappropriate communication” to Kelley from Gen. Allen, who is not only the top commander in Afghanistan but was also just nominated by President Obama to be the Commander of US European Command and Supreme Allied Commander Europe (a nomination now “on hold”). Here, according to Reuters, is what the snooping FBI agents obtained about that [emphasis added]:

“The U.S. official said the FBI uncovered between 20,000 and 30,000 pages of communications – mostly emails spanning from 2010 to 2012 – between Allen and Jill Kelley . . . .
“Asked whether there was concern about the disclosure of classified information, the official said, on condition of anonymity: ‘We are concerned about inappropriate communications. We are not going to speculate as to what is contained in these documents.'”

So not only did the FBI – again, all without any real evidence of a crime – trace the locations and identity of Broadwell and Petreaus, and read through Broadwell’s emails (and possibly Petraeus’), but they also got their hands on and read through 20,000-30,000 pages of emails between Gen. Allen and Kelley.


Since 2008, the NSA has had the legal power to intercept all phone calls, emails and text messages sent by American citizens without probable cause. However, although long suspected, the agency has never admitted that it is analyzing the content of such messages, conceding only that persons, dates and locations are part of the snooping process. However, in a recent sworn declaration to the United States District Court for the Northern District of California, Binney, a former NSA employee with the signals intelligence agency within the DoD, divulges that the federal agency, has the capability to do individualized searches, similar to Google, for particular electronic communications in real time through such criteria as target addresses, locations, countries and phone numbers, as well as watch-listed names, keywords, and phrases in email. Using as many as twenty data intercept centers throughout the United States which can each store an almost unimaginable quantity of information, Binney notes that, The sheer size of that capacity indicates that the NSA is not filtering personal electronic communications such as email before storage but is, in fact, storing all that they are collecting.

http://www.infowars.com/whistleblower-nsa-analyzing-conversations-in-real-time/


The dramatic downfall of CIA chief David Petraeus has given rise to political intrigue in Washington as a drip-feed of details concerning his clandestine affair mixes with serious questions over the timing of the resignation.

Over the weekend it emerged that his relationship with biographer Paula Broadwell was discovered by FBI agents while they investigated harassing emails she allegedly sent to a second woman, who was named on Sunday by the Associated Press as Jill Kelley, a state department military liaison.

The scandal comes at a particularly sensitive time. Petraeus had been due to give evidence before a Congressional body this coming Thursday concerning the attack on the US consulate in Benghazi in which four Americans were killed, including America’s ambassador to Libya, Chris Stevens.

It is now thought that Petraeus will not attend the session, robbing politicians of the opportunity to question an “absolutely necessary witness”, according to Peter King, chairman of the House homeland security committee.

White House and intelligence officials have suggested that there is no connection between the timing of Petraeus’s resignation and the evidence session on the Benghazi attack.

But in Washington, questions are being asked as to why the FBI appeared to have sat on the information it uncovered regarding the affair before handing it on to other authorities some time later.

Intelligence officials have suggested that Petraeus was first questioned over the nature of his relationship with Broadwell two weeks ago.

But it was only on the night of the presidential election that national intelligence director James Clapper was notified of the affair. It is thought that Clapper then advised the CIA chief to resign.

Even then, it was not until the next day that the White House was informed of the situation. It then took a further day before newly re-elected President Barack Obama was told that his intelligence chief was to tender his resignation.

Meanwhile, the Senate intelligence committee only heard about the matter on Friday, just hours before the CIA director announced he was to step down.

Further confusing the timeline of events were reports on Sunday that leading House Republican Eric Cantor had been informed by an FBI whistleblower of the brewing Petraeus scandal two weeks ago.

If true, it would raise the prospect that the affair was known in Washington circles before Friday’s resignation.

House Republican King said on Sunday that the account of who knew what and when “doesn’t add up”, saying that there were a lot of unanswered questions.

The FBI had an “obligation” to tell the president as soon as they had identified a possible security breach, he told CNN’s State of the Union.

Meanwhile, other politicians said that Petraeus may still be compelled to give evidence concerning the 11 September attack in Benghazi.

“We may well ask him,” senator Dianne Feinstein, chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, told Fox News Sunday.

Congress is keen to question the former four-star general over what the CIA knew in advance of the assault, and importantly, what it had told the White House in regards to the nature of the terrorist threat.

In the run-up to last week’s election, senior Republicans accused the White House of misleading Americans over claims that it was not made aware of requests to bolster security in advance of the assault.

It is on this point that Petraeus was expected to be questioned at Thursday’s Congressional hearing. Following his resignation, it is thought that his former deputy, Michael Morell, will testify before Washington in his place as acting director of the CIA.

Morell is slated to meet with Congressional figures on Wednesday to discuss the Petraeus affair in a bid to curtail lingering suspicions over the timing of the resignation.

The political fallout from Friday’s resignation comes amid a personal crisis for a man often referred to as the leading American military mind of his generation.

In the days following his announcement to step down, a steady flow of leaks to the US media have given more detail to the affair that cost Petraeus his job.

The makings of his downfall were in a series of apparently vicious emails sent by his lover – a 40-year-old former army reservist who co-authored All In, a fawning biography of the CIA chief – to Kelley, a state department liaison to the military’s Joint Special Operations Command.

It is thought that the threatening nature of the missives led the Florida-based recipient to seek the protection of the FBI.

An investigation of Broadwell’s personal email account uncovered letters of an explicit nature between her and Petraeus, who has been married for the past 38 years to his wife Holly.

It was then that agents approached the CIA chief directly. Having eliminated the threat of a security breach, it was decided that no further action would be taken by the FBI.

But the damage to Petraeus’s reputation was clear, and having consulted with Clapper, the decision to resign was made.

In a letter to staff explaining his move, the now outgoing CIA boss said: “Such behaviour is unacceptable, both as a husband and as the leader of an organisation such as ours.”

Others close to Petraeus had an even more blunt assessment of the scandal. “He screwed up, he knows he screwed up,” said Steve Boylan, a retired army officer and Petraeus’s former spokesman.


Retired Gen. David Petraeus, who resigned as CIA director last week after admitting an extramarital relationship, could possibly face military prosecution for adultery if officials turn up any evidence to counter his apparent claims that the affair began after he left the military.

The affair between Petraeus and his biographer, Paula Broadwell, both of whom are married, began several months after his retirement from the Army in August 2011 and ended four months ago, retired U.S. Army Col. Steve Boylan, a former Petraeus spokesman, told ABC News.

Broadwell, 40, had extraordinary access to the 60-year-old general during six trips she took to Afghanistan as his official biographer, a plum assignment for a novice writer.

“For him to allow the very first biography to be written about him, to be written by someone who had never written a book before, seemed very odd to me,” former Petraeus aide Peter Mansoor told ABC News.

The timeline of the relationship, according to Patraeus, would mean that he was carrying on the affair for the majority of his tenure at the CIA, where he began as director Sept. 6, 2011. If he carried on the affair while serving in the Army, however, Patraeus could face charges, according to Article 134 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice, which reprimands conduct “of a nature to bring discredit upon the armed forces.”
Whether the military would pursue such action, whatever evidence it accumulates, is unclear.

As the details of the investigation launched by the FBI unraveled this weekend, it became clear that the woman at the heart of the inquiry that led to Petraeus’ downfall had been identified as Jill Kelley, a Florida woman who volunteers to help the military. She is a family friend of Petraeus, who Broadwell apparently felt threatened by.

Kelley and her husband are longtime supporters of the military, and six months ago she was named “Honorary Ambassador to Central Command” for her volunteer work with the military. Officials say Kelley is not romantically linked to Petraeus, but befriended the general and his wife when he was stationed in Florida.

The Kelleys spent Christmases in group settings with the Petraeuses and visited them in Washington D.C., where Kelley’s sister and her son live.

“We and our family have been friends with Gen. Petraeus and his family for over five years.” Kelley said in a statement Sunday. “We respect his and his family’s privacy and want the same for us and our three children.”
Earlier this year, around the time that Petraeus and Broadwell were breaking off their affair, Kelly began receiving anonymous emails, which she found so threatening she went to authorities. The FBI traced the messages to Broadwell’s computer, where they found other salacious and explicit emails between Broadwell and Petraeus that made it clear to officials that the two were carrying on an affair.

Investigators uncovered no compromising of classified information or criminal activity, sources familiar with the probe said, adding that all that was found was a lot of “human drama.”

Broadwell, a married mother of two, had access to Petraeus while she was with him in Afghanistan as his official biographer. People close to the general had previously suspected Broadwell’s feelings for him had crossed a professional line.

They found Broadwell, who spent a year embedded with Petraeus in Afghanistan, to be embarrassing and far too “gushy” about him. They said to one another they thought Broadwell “was in love with him,” sources told ABC News.

Petraeus is said to have been the one to have broken off the extramarital affair.

His storied career, first as the public face of two wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and later as director of the CIA, came crashing down Friday when he announced his resignation from the intelligence agency, citing the indiscretion.

“After being married for over 37 years, I showed extremely poor judgment by engaging in an extramarital affair. Such behavior is unacceptable, both as a husband and as the leader of an organization such as ours,” Petraeus said in a statement Friday.

Director of National Intelligence James Clapper was made aware of the Petraeus situation Tuesday evening around 5 p.m. by the FBI, according to a senior intelligence source.

After having several conversations with Petraeus that evening and the next day, Clapper advised Petraeus that the best thing to do would be for him to resign, the source said.

Clapper notified the White House the next afternoon that Petraeus was considering resigning, according to the source. Petraeus then went to the White House Thursday and told the president he thought he should resign, and Obama accepted his resignation the next day, the source said.

Despite the lengthy investigation into Broadwell by the FBI, the White House says it was not made aware of it until Wednesday, the day after the election, a revelation that surprised many.

“It just doesn’t add up. That the FBI would be carrying on this type of investigation without, again, bringing it to the president or the highest levels of the White House,” Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y., said.

Petraeus and his wife, Holly, who have been married for 38 years, are said to be staying in their Arlington Home and are doing “OK.”

“Knowing the family, I suspect it will be hard work, but given the effort, they will get through it,” Boylan, the former Petraeus spokesman, said.

Numerous questions still remain about the investigation, and some on Capitol Hill are also frustrated because Petraeus was schedule to testify to the House and Senate intelligence committees about the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, in September.

The timing of Petraeus’ resignation “was what it was,” an official told ABC News, adding that the time had come to tie up any loose ends in the investigation and confront the general.


One of America’s best known military leaders, and CIA head David Petraeus, has abruptly announced his resignation. Stepping down, Petraeus admitted to an extramarital affair, saying he was guilty of “unacceptable” behavior. Ex-military intelligence officer, Lieutenant-Colonel Tony Shaffer told RT there’s more behind the resignation than just moral issues.

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – David Petraeus was a star on the battlefield, commanding the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, but was undone by “poor judgment” in engaging in an extramarital affair that led to his downfall as CIA director.

Petraeus, who was widely celebrated as a military commander and even occasionally mentioned as a potential presidential candidate, was sworn in as head of the CIA in September 2011 – and had kept a low profile since. Now speculation is sure to proliferate over whether that low profile resulted from Petraeus focusing on America’s intelligence gathering or on personal matters.

In particular, members of Congress and other officials demanding answers about the Benghazi attack on the US consulate that resulted in the deaths of four Americans – including the US ambassador to Libya, Christopher Stephens, and two CIA agents – will want to know if there was any link between Petraeus’s extramarital activities and what has been increasingly criticized as the CIA’s weak performance on the night of the Benghazi attack.

More broadly, the reason for Petraeus’s departure will raise questions about any compromising of US covert operations and intelligence. The potential for blackmail of intelligence officers is always a concern about the spy corps, but the involvement of the nation’s top spy in an extramarital affair takes the concern to a new level.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation has been probing Petraeus and the potential security risks posed by his affair, CNN reported late Friday afternoon.

In the weeks since the Benghazi attack, officials have leaked information, including how Petraeus kept information on the CIA’s role in Benghazi so private that even Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton was left to call Petraeus as the attack unfolded to try to get intelligence information from him.

Last week, CIA officials revealed that in fact, the intelligence agency’s operations in Benghazi dwarfed diplomatic operations at the consulate and that the CIA maintained what was described as an “annex,” about a mile from the diplomatic mission.

State Department officials have said there was an informal understanding that the annex and its agents would come to the assistance of the consulate (which had private contractors providing security) if a need arose. CIA officials insist their agents responded to the consulate’s distress calls within a half-hour.

Just two days after his 60th birthday, Petraeus stepped down from the spy agency where he had held the top office since September 6, 2011.

“After being married for over 37 years, I showed extremely poor judgment by engaging in an extramarital affair. Such behavior is unacceptable, both as a husband and as the leader of an organization such as ours. This afternoon, the President graciously accepted my resignation,” Petraeus told the shadow warriors he commanded at CIA.

It was a stunning downfall for a revered military man who was seen as one of the top American leaders of his generation and was once considered a potential contender for the White House.

Petraeus was credited with pulling Iraq from the brink of all-out civil war and for battlefield successes in Afghanistan after overseeing a surge of 30,000 troops ordered by President Barack Obama in late 2009. He became known for counter-insurgency strategies that were seen as gaining ground against the Taliban in Afghanistan.

“I don’t think he was professionally overrated. His were genuine accomplishments,” said James Carafano, a war historian with the conservative Heritage Foundation think tank.

At the time of his nomination to the CIA post, some Washington insiders had said the White House wanted to find a prominent position for Petraeus to ensure he would not be recruited by Republicans as a challenger to the 2012 Obama-Biden ticket.

When he was nominated to lead the CIA there were some concerns in intelligence circles that the high-profile four-star Army general might not be able to lead from the shadows as appropriate for a spy chief.

But once he took over the head office at the U.S. spy agency, Petraeus kept a decidedly low public profile.
Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Dianne Feinstein, a Democrat, expressed regret about the resignation of “one of America’s best and brightest” and said it was an “enormous loss” for the country.
“At CIA, Director Petraeus gave the agency leadership, stature, prestige and credibility both at home and abroad. On a personal level, I found his command of intelligence issues second to none,” she said.

RESIGNATION ACCEPTED

After accepting his resignation about a year-and-a-half after nominating Petraeus to the CIA post, Obama said: “By any measure, he was one of the outstanding General officers of his generation, helping our military adapt to new challenges, and leading our men and women in uniform through a remarkable period of service in Iraq and Afghanistan, where he helped our nation put those wars on a path to a responsible end.”

Earlier this week, in a Newsweek article entitled “General David Petraeus’s Rules for Living,” he listed 12 lessons for leadership. Number 5 was: “We all will make mistakes. The key is to recognize them and admit them, to learn from them, and to take off the rear­ view mirrors – drive on and avoid making them again.”

In 2010 Petraeus stepped into the breach as the new commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan to replace General Stanley McChrystal who was fired by Obama in a scandal over an article in which McChrystal and his aides made mocking comments about the president and some of his top advisers.

In 2009 Petraeus was diagnosed with early-stage prostate cancer and underwent radiation treatment. The media-friendly general joked at that time at a Washington event that reporters were only gathered “to see if the guy is still alive.”

Petraeus, born in Cornwall, New York, lives in Virginia with his wife Holly. They have two grown children, a son who was an Army Ranger who served in Afghanistan, and a daughter.

Petraeus’s wife, Holly, is an activist and volunteer who champions military families, and she continued that work after her husband retired from the military and moved to the CIA.

She currently is assistant director of the office of servicemember affairs at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, where she tries to keep unscrupulous lenders from taking advantage of military personnel. The bureau was championed by Harvard law professor Elizabeth Warren, who was elected to the Senate from Massachusetts this week.

Holly Petraeus is the daughter of four-star General William Knowlton, who was superintendent of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point when Petraeus was a cadet.

She briefed the press at the Pentagon on her efforts recently and was introduced by Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, who called her “a true friend of the Department of Defense and a dedicated member of our military family.”

Petraeus has four Defense Distinguished Service Medal awards, three Distinguished Service Medal awards, the Bronze Star Medal for valor, and the State Department Distinguished Service Award.

He has a doctorate in international relations from Princeton University.

(Additional reporting by David Alexander, Matt Spetalnick and Diane Bartz; Editing by Warren Strobel and Jackie Frank)

A Strong Government

Lon Tomohisa Horiuchi (born 9 June 1954) is a U.S. FBI HRT sniper who was involved in controversial deployments during the 1992 Ruby Ridge standoff and 1993 Waco Siege. In 1997, Horiuchi was charged with manslaughter for the death of Vicki Weaver at Ru…

Lon Tomohisa Horiuchi (born 9 June 1954) is a U.S. FBI HRT sniper who was involved in controversial deployments during the 1992 Ruby Ridge standoff and 1993 Waco Siege. In 1997, Horiuchi was charged with manslaughter for the death of Vicki Weaver at Ruby Ridge; the case was dismissed.

In 1992, while working at sniper position Sierra 4 for the FBI Hostage Rescue Team at Ruby Ridge, Horiuchi shot and killed Vicki Weaver, while also wounding her husband Randy Weaver and Kevin Harris.[2]
After his first shot hit and wounded Randy Weaver, Horiuchi fired a second shot at Kevin Harris, who was armed, some 20 seconds later as Harris was running into the Weaver home. The bullet struck and killed Vicki Weaver while she was holding her 10 month old child behind the door through which Harris was entering the home;[2][3] the round also struck and wounded Harris.[4]

Following the conclusion of the trial of Randy Weaver and Kevin Harris in 1993, the Department of Justice (DOJ) created a “Ruby Ridge Task Force” to investigate allegations made by Weaver’s defense attorney Gerry Spence. On 10 June 1994, the Task Force delivered its 542-page report to the DOJ Office of Professional Responsibility. The Report stated: “With regard to the two shots fired on August 22, we concluded that the first shot met the standard of “objective reasonableness” the Constitution requires for the legal use of deadly force but that the second shot did not satisfy that standard.”[5]

The surviving members of the Weaver family received $3.1M in 1995 to settle their civil suit brought against the U.S. government for wrongful deaths of Sammy and Vicki Weaver. In the out-of-court settlement, the government did not admit any wrong-doing. Harris received $380,000 in 2000.[6]

On 13 September 1993, Charles Riley, a fellow FBI sniper deployed during the Waco Siege claimed that he had heard Horiuchi shooting from Sierra 1, an F.B.I.-held house in front of the compound holding eight snipers, including Horiuchi and Christopher Curran on 19 April 1993. Riley later retracted his statement, saying that he had been misquoted, and that he had only heard snipers at Sierra 1 announce that shots had been fired by Branch Davidians.[7]

Three of the twelve expended .308 Winchester shell casings that the Texas Rangers reported finding in the house were at Horiuchi’s position. However, officials maintain that they could have been left behind from the earlier use of the house by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives snipers on February 28, 1993, and that it would be “nearly impossible” to match them to Horiuchi’s rifle, as it had probably been rebarreled since that time.[8]

For the five months following the Waco inferno, Timothy McVeigh worked at gun shows and handed out free cards printed up with Horiuchi’s name and address, “in the hope that somebody in the Patriot movement would assassinate the sharpshooter”. He wrote hate mail to the sniper, suggesting that “what goes around, comes around”. McVeigh considered targeting Horiuchi, or a member of his family, before settling on a bombing attack on a federal building- choosing to target the Murrah Building.

In 1997, Boundary County, Idaho Prosecutor Denise Woodbury, with the help of special prosecutor Stephen Yagman, charged Horiuchi in state court with involuntary manslaughter over his killing of Vicki Weaver. The U.S. Attorney filed a notice of removal of the case to federal court, which automatically took effect under the statute for removal jurisdiction[10] where the case was dismissed by U.S. District Judge Edward Lodge on May 14, 1998, who cited the supremacy clause of the Constitution which grants immunity to federal officers acting in the scope of their employment.[2]

The decision to dismiss the charges was reversed by an en banc panel of the Ninth Circuit, which held that enough uncertainty about the facts of the case existed for Horiuchi to stand trial on state manslaughter charges.[2] Ultimately, the then-sitting Boundary County Prosecutor, Brett Benson, who had defeated Woodbury in the 2000 election, decided to drop the charges because he felt it was unlikely the state could prove the case and too much time had passed. Yagman, the special prosecutor, responded that he “could not disagree more with this decision than I do.”[11]

The Ninth Circuit granted Boundary County’s motion to dismiss the case against Horiuchi on September 14, 2001


The FBI’s sniper under fire
A controversial agent is at the center of the Waco investigation
US News and World Report, November 8, 1999
By Mike Tharp

The Sierra 4 sniper position was some 200 yards from white separatist Randy Weaver’s cabin, deep in the northern Idaho mountains. The man in camouflage nestled in the thick brush there had a clear field of fire on the wooden structure across the furrowed ridges. On Aug. 22, 1992, the morning was cool, cloudy and rainy.

Eight months later outside Waco, Texas, on April 19, the noonday sun was warm with heavy winds out of the north. The Sierra 1 sniper position was in a boxy concrete outbuilding less than 100 yards from the Branch Davidian compound. The agent stationed there could see the front door and several windows of his target over the gentle grassy rise. Whether shots were fired from this site is one of the hottest controversies in the continuing Waco saga, now the focus of a civil lawsuit and a high-profile congressional investigation.

The man in the Sierra 1 sniper post at Waco and the Sierra 4 post at Ruby Ridge was FBI marksman Lon Tomohisa Horiuchi. Over the past seven years, he has become the most controversial law enforcement officer in America. For most of that time, the 45-year-old West Point graduate and former infantry officer has been in courtrooms or preparing his defense. At Ruby Ridge, Horiuchi shot and killed Weaver’s wife, Vicki, 43, as she held their 10-month-old daughter behind the door of their cabin. He also shot and wounded Weaver, 44, and his friend, Kevin Harris. At Waco, some 80 members of the Branch Davidian religious sect perished after the FBI and other law enforcement agencies moved to end the 51-day siege.

Being there. Now it’s Horiuchi who is in the crosshairs. He is the only individual defendant still left in the wrongful death civil lawsuit filed by Branch Davidians and their survivors against the federal government. His attorneys say he is innocent, that he “didn’t take any shots whatsoever at Waco.” But Houston lawyer Michael Caddell, who represents some of the Davidians, says the group has “specific evidence” showing that Horiuchi did fire his weapon. Earlier this year, a federal judge in Waco ruled that the Davidians had uncovered “at least some evidence to support their claim” that
Horiuchi fired into the burning building.

How did this 15-year FBI veteran, the son of another U.S. Army officer, wind up in such a legal quagmire? What caused this husband and father, a politically conservative Catholic who homeschools some of his six children, to become such a figure of hatred? Horiuchi’s actions at Waco and Ruby Ridge have been documented in great detail. Perhaps it is the significance militia groups have attached to both events, rather than the events themselves, that has intensified the focus on him. For now at least, Horiuchi is not saying. His attorneys have counseled silence, and that seems to be Horiuchi’s preferred response in any case. “He’s a very private person, very protective of his family,” says Adam Hoffinger, one of the lawyers for Horiuchi, a third-generation Japanese-American who grew up in Hawaii. “We’re determined to let him get on with his life.”

To his defenders, Horiuchi-who has testified he could hit a quarter at 200 yards-is a consummate pro, honed as a military officer, burnished as a leader of an FBI Hostage Rescue Team (HRT) sniper crew. “He was dedicated, hard working, aggressive. He was trying to do the right thing, trying to serve his country in a stressful environment,” David W. Johnson, head of the HRT from 1985 to 1989 and once Horiuchi’s supervisor, told the Albany (N.Y.) Times Union in 1995. FBI Director Louis Freeh has also stood by his agent, stressing that his job entailed making “split-second decisions.”

To his critics, Horiuchi is a “paid FBI assassin” carrying out the wishes of an increasingly hostile and unresponsive police establish- ment. “After a year-long review, the U.S. Justice Department decides . . . not to charge sniper Lon Horiuchi with any crime. Like the Germans at Nuremberg, [Justice Department officials] declare he was ‘just following orders,’ ” snapped a Las Vegas Review-Journal editorial after the government closed an investigation of Horiuchi’s actions without filing charges.

Repeat defendant. By the time he became a defendant in the current Waco case, Horiuchi had already been in an Idaho federal court on involuntary-manslaughter charges in connection with Vicki Weaver’s death. A federal judge dismissed the case last year, ruling that “Mr. Horiuchi, rightly or wrongly, was clearly acting under orders authorized by the U.S. government to go shoot and kill an armed male adult because the threat to human lives had already been determined by his supervisors based on the facts then known to them.” The decision is being appealed by the state of Idaho.

Horiuchi and 10 other HRT snipers were flown to the Idaho siege after U.S. Marshal William Degan and Randy Weaver’s 14-year-old son, Sam, were killed. They were positioned around the cabin when Randy Weaver, his daughter Sara, and their friend Kevin Harris attempted to go to a shed where Sam’s body lay. As the trio neared the shed, Horiuchi fired once with his .308-caliber Remington rifle, equipped with a powerful scope, hitting Randy Weaver in the arm. He fired again as the group ran back to the cabin. This round smashed through the door, striking Vicki in the jaw and killing her almost instantly. The same bullet also seriously wounded Harris. Horiuchi later testified he did not see Vicki behind the door and that he believed Randy Weaver and Harris, who was carrying a rifle, posed a threat to an FBI helicopter hovering overhead. (According to Jess Walter, author of Every Knee Shall Bow, a book about the showdown at Ruby Ridge: “There were 11 snipers on the hill, and they all heard the same helicopter. He was the only one who fired.”)

Less than a year later, Horiuchi was again at a sniper post, this time outside the Davidian complex, and his actions there are emblematic of why questions about Waco won’t go away. New evidence has spawned charges of a government coverup, which the feds deny and former Sen. John Danforth is now investigating (box). The FBI denies its officers fired any shots. But Branch Davidian attorneys insist that the FBI’s own infrared videotape, taken from a small aircraft circling above during the last day of the Waco standoff, reveals “characteristic repetitive flashes” associated with gunfire coming from federal agents and from inside the house. They say there are also photos of shell casings on the undercover building where Horiuchi and other snipers were stationed. But firearms experts say it would be nearly impossible to match them with Horiuchi’s weapon. “They re-barrel those [sniper] weapons no less than every two years,” says one weapons analyst. In the wake of Ruby Ridge and Waco, the FBI has tempered its tactics, emphasizing negotiation over force. To wit: The bureau used third-party mediators instead of force to peacefully end the 81-day Montana Freeman standoff in 1996. “Lon Horiuchi changed the history of how the government deals with so-called right-wing groups,” says Kirk Lyons, chief trial counsel of the Southern Legal Resource Center, who represents several of the Davidian plantiffs. “Before Lon Horiuchi, they were considered extremist, but he made [their] criticism of the government legitimate and mainstream.” If true, it is an ironic legacy for a man who has dedicated his life to defending that government.


The FBI’s favorite hitman
Published: 09/14/1999 at 1:00 AM

Was the FBI really at Waco to contain a siege or were trigger-happy agents purposely brought to the Davidian church to finish off the job the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms botched?

Yesterday, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported that FBI agent Charles Riley said all the way back in June 1993 that he heard shots fired from a sniper post occupied by agent Lon Horiuchi, according to court documents filed by Branch Davidians and relatives as part of a wrongful-death suit scheduled to go to trial next month.

If this fact is true, and if the sniper fire occurred, as Davidians charge, on the final day of the siege, this is a very interesting development, indeed.

Why?

Think about it. The final Waco conflagration occurred April 19, 1993. But this was hardly the first time Lon Horiuchi had found himself in a position to shoot innocent civilians.

You see, Horiuchi was the paid assassin the FBI used Aug. 22, 1992 — eight months earlier — to plug a fatal hole in the head of Vickie Weaver, an unarmed mother clutching her 10-month-old baby during a similar siege at Ruby Ridge, Idaho. It seems Lon Horiuchi is something of a specialist — the FBI’s go-to guy when it’s open season on women and children.

Imagine that. Eight months earlier, Horiuchi had blown Vickie Weaver’s head off while she stood in a doorway in an isolated rural area. She was no threat to anyone, not wanted on any charges and, of course, unarmed — unless the FBI now considers infants dangerous weapons.

Horiuchi was indicted for manslaughter by Idaho authorities for the shooting, but the charges were thrown out. The federal government only made excuses for him. And now we have reason to believe that eight months after the incident at Ruby Ridge, one that ultimately cost U.S. taxpayers $3.1 million in a civil settlement with Randy Weaver, Horiuchi was assigned to another volatile siege with civilians — including women and children.

Did he show any restraint? Did he learn a lesson from his earlier shoot-first-and-ask-questions-later approach at Ruby Ridge? Apparently not, if we are to believe one of his colleagues.

Horiuchi was firing away from a sniper’s perch again at Waco.

The FBI spent two years investigating Horiuchi’s actions at Ruby Ridge, ultimately giving him a clean bill of health.

But, in light of the latest Waco revelations, let’s review those actions. On Aug. 21, the government killed Weaver’s son, Sammy. The next day, overcome with grief, Weaver, his 16-year-old daughter, Sara, and a friend, Kevin Harris, ventured out of their cabin to see Sammy and bury him.

As Weaver reached the shed where his son’s body rested, Lon Horiuchi opened fire on him. One round struck Weaver’s underam.

“I’m hit,” Weaver hollered.

Daughter Sara tried desperately to push her father back to the safety of the cabin. Harris ran, his back to the snipers.

“I’m hit, Momma,” Randy had cried to Vicki as he ran toward the door that Vicki had been holding open for them. “I’m hit.”

“Get in here!” Vicki shouted.

Those were her last words. Horiuchi’s bullet smashed into her head and blew off the side of her face. And after she fell, her husband pried the baby from her arms. Weaver and his daughter dragged Vickie’s body through the kitchen, her blood flooding the floor.

Horiuchi told investigators he had been trying to kill Harris when he hit Vickie. But Horiuchi is a professional sharpshooter. Are we to believe he is an incompetent — a lousy shot? Why does the FBI keep sending him out on these assignments if he can’t distinguish between an armed man and an unarmed woman? And even if his story is true, why was he trying to shoot a man in the back?

Nevetheless, despite all the obvious questions, there was Horiuchi again, eight months later — on the firing line, in the sniper’s post — when the FBI’s targets included women and kids in a church compound in Texas. Once again, the FBI’s favorite hitman had an itchy trigger finger. One of his own colleagues reports he heard rounds firing from his perch on the last tragic day of the Waco siege.

This story is getting stranger all the time. Just when you thought you had heard the worst about your government, it surprises you with new lows of murderous contempt for human decency.

But, remember, Horiuchi is only a trigger man. Like he told investigators in a plea reminiscent of the Nazi war criminals: ‘I was only following orders.’ Indeed, he was.

Let’s not allow Horiuchi to be the scapegoat for Waco. It’s time to pursue those who issued the orders that led to the staging of the Waco holocaust — those who framed the ‘rules of engagement.’


Director Statement regarding Agent Horiuchi

Washington, D.C. June 04, 2001
  • FBI National Press Office (202) 324-3691
“We are very disappointed that the court concluded that further fact finding is necessary, especially given the prior court decisions in favor of Agent Horiuchi.
“We have the utmost respect for the process, however, and will continue to support Agent Horiuchi and his family as this litigation continues.
“As so often happens in law enforcement, split-second life and death decisions must be made by those sworn to enforce the law. We continue to believe strongly Agent Horiuchi met the legal standard that protects law enforcement officers when they carry out their sworn duties, even when the consequence in hindsight is regrettable.”


Ex-FBI **LON HORIUCHI** Hired by H.S Precision, Inc. of South Dakota (rifle stocks)

Posted on Tuesday, June 01, 2010 2:38:16 AM by TokuMei

H.S. Precision, Inc.

Lon Horiuchi was one of several snipers in a hide located at the back the Branch Davidian complex at Mount Carmel, Waco, Texas. Mr. Horiuchi was also in service at Ruby Ridge, where he shot Randy Weaver’s wife in the head, killing her, as she held her baby.

Lon Horiuchi retired from the FBI in October of 2006 and was hired as “FBI Program Manager & COTR” at H.S. Precision, Inc., of Rapid City, South Dakota. This company makes high-quality fiberglass stocks, barrels, finished rifles, gunsmithing tools, and hunting apparel.

Their website is http://www.hsprecision.com and their telephone number in Rapid City, South Dakota is (605) 341-3006.


Many people believe that David Koresh (or the Branch Davidians) were responsible for the deaths of the 74 men, women and children who died in the inferno at Waco on April 19, 1993. This is the story that the FBI put out. It is a lie. The guns they had were legal. The local sheriff investigated and found no basis for complaints against them. These were law-abiding American citizens, even if they thought differently to most other folks. They trusted the U.S. Constitution to ensure their political rights, but they were murdered by agents acting under the authority of the U.S. government.

Waco occurred under the presidency of Bill Clinton, with Janet Reno and Wesley Clark in supporting roles. Already back in 1993 the US government demonstrated its contempt for the American people by carrying out a massacre in order to “demonstrate” (on prime time TV) its supposed “authority” (a tactic favored by fascist governments).

Fires and tanks make great television, and on April 19, 1993, Americans sat stunned in front of their sets as they watched a war-like scene with US Army tanks smashing into the Waco compound. The tanks injected tear gas–more precisely, CS gas, a fine powder which on contact with human tissue burns the skin and inflames all mucus membranes. Though CS is supposed to be used outdoors to disperse mobs, the FBI’s plan was to keep injecting it until the Branch Davidians were driven out of their compound. Instead, the 51-day stand-off at Waco ended in a fireball. News cameras were kept at a sanitized distance and observers could barely see any sign of human life. More than twenty young children, most too young to be protected by gas masks, were subjected to six hours of CS gas and died in the fire. But neither their innocent faces nor their ghastly corpses were ever viewed by the American public who, as the news media discovered, rapidly lost interest in the tragedy and showed little sympathy for the unseen victims. As standard “journalistic” practice, television stations now poll their viewers to give them the kind of news they want. Within weeks, Waco had dropped to the bottom of those polls, even in Texas. The American public had seen and heard enough, and their verdict was the “Waco Wackos” had brought it on themselves.

The public’s lack of interest came as a great relief to the Clinton administration. Though the ATF plan to raid the Davidian compound was put together during the Bush administration, the go-ahead was given by Clinton’s new appointees. The ATF’s February 28, 1993 raid, which led to the 51-day standoff, was a nightmare of incompetence; four agents and six Branch Davidians were killed. Secretary of Treasury Lloyd Bentsen, newly responsible for the ATF, escaped without criticism. He may not even have been told about the raid before it happened. Janet Reno, the first woman Attorney General, was to take the hits for the Clinton administration on Waco. She had reluctantly given her consent to the FBI’s gas attack, which was supposed to end the standoff.

In the congressional hearings held immediately after the disaster, Michigan Democrat John Conyers blasted Reno for her role in the tragedy. Conyers was vociferous about the many children who lost their lives. Only days into her job, Reno looked the Congressman straight in the eye and, choking with emotion, promised she would remember the children every day of her life. She took full responsibility but acknowledged no mistakes. Perhaps because government officials so rarely have the courage to take responsibility for any negative result, Reno became the most recognizable and well-liked member of the Clinton cabinet. Indeed, every time the Attorney General has since been challenged about Waco, her stock with the American people has gone up and their conviction that the Branch Davidians brought it on themselves has been reinforced. Surely Janet Reno is not the person to blame for the decisions made at Waco: indeed, her first impulse was to say no to the plan. The lead official at Justice who was most involved in Waco decision-making was then-Associate Attorney General Webster Hubbell. He talked directly to the agents on the ground at Waco, and became convinced that the gas plan was necessary. FBI agent Larry Potts, who played a central role in the FBI’s stand-off with Randy Weaver at Ruby Ridge, had a similar function in Waco. Janet Reno may have been in charge, but these men were calling the shots in the Washington command room. Still, if even a fraction of this documentary’s claims are true, Reno helped circle the wagons and bury the truth after the fact.

One infuriated segment of the American public refused to forget Waco or to forgive Janet Reno: Clinton haters, the National Rifle Association, right-wing militia fanatics, conservative talkmeisters and their audiences. Across America there was a steady stream of talk show callers who kept insisting that Waco, just like Ruby Ridge, was an example of federal law enforcement at war with the American people. Wild claims about conspiracies and about tanks using flame throwers to set the compound on fire accompanied sensible claims about the ATF’s and FBI’s reckless and incompetent military tactics. But the rest of America was not listening. Reno had ordered the Justice Department to investigate itself and the FBI. The supposedly independent investigator, Edward Dennis, an assistant attorney general during the Reagan administration, based his report on that less than searching self-examination. The result was a total whitewash: Dennis proclaimed the operation a success even though all the patients died. He determined that the Branch Davidians had started the fire themselves in a mass suicide and that the FBI had never fired a single shot into the compound. Dennis concluded: “Under the circumstances, the FBI exhibited extraordinary restraint and handled this crisis with great professionalism.”

Only by comparison was there a more aggressive investigation of the ATF, which had planned the original, military-style “dynamic entry” into the compound. The ATF’s independent investigators, unlike the Justice Department’s, laid out the evidence so that a fair-minded person could reach an independent judgment. But the report is written as if to protect the agency. The authors demonize the Branch Davidians and give the agents the benefit of every doubt. Most troubling to me was the report’s uninformed and unwarranted portrayal of the Branch Davidians as cold-blooded killers: “On February 28, Koresh and his followers knew ATF agents were coming and decided to kill them”; they “prepare[d] a deadly ambush.” Despite these distortions, the report singled out for sanctions the two agents who were in charge of the dynamic entry, and they were forced out of the ATF. The Branch Davidians insisted throughout the stand-off that these men should go to prison and the report certainly did not exonerate them. Still, they were able to appeal the sanctions, and were later restored to their previous standing.

On the Branch Davidians’ side, in addition to the six killed in the ATF raid and the more than eighty dead in the fire, several of the survivors were convicted of federal offenses involving firearms and sentenced to long prison terms. The authorities bulldozed the ruins of the Waco compound and quite literally covered it up; there could be no further possibility of physical evidence turning up that would raise new questions about the alleged wrongdoings of federal agents at Waco. Case closed.

Then, exactly two years later, came the enormity of Oklahoma City, home-grown American terrorism–Timothy McVeigh’s Turner Diaries revenge, memorializing the anniversary of Waco with a new and even greater horror. The tragedy forced America to look back at Waco just as McVeigh intended. The moment was perfect for Gazecki’s documentary; unfortunately, he was still filming. By the time he was finished, the soul-searching was over, the McVeigh trial had begun, and the Waco justification was now rubbing salt in the wounds of Oklahoma City. If Gazecki thought the McVeigh trial would help his documentary, he seriously misjudged the mood of Americans.

Stephen Jones, McVeigh’s lawyer, seems to have similarly miscalculated. He thought an American jury contemplating the death penalty would sympathize with McVeigh if they knew his motive was retaliation for Waco. Like Gazecki, Jones also called to enlist my support. He had read my report and wanted me to testify about Waco at the capital sentencing phase of the McVeigh trial. His words were, “you owe it to your country.” The argument was dramatic but unconvincing. Unlike Waco conspiracy theorists, I believe the tragedy at Waco was the result of incompetence and over-reaching: bad judgment and bad decisions, not intentional wrongdoing and a plot against the people. Nor do I believe there was a government conspiracy to cover up these failings. Instead, law enforcement agents closed ranks out of self-interest and group solidarity, and the subsequent investigations turned into bureaucratic damage control. On no moral calculus does the government’s incompetence at Waco justify or mitigate the intentional slaughter of 168 innocent victims in Oklahoma City.

If Gazecki is right, however, Waco was much more than a case of government incompetence. According to his film, federal agents acting under color of law behaved like outlaws, rogue agents murdered Branch Davidians, and the responsible authorities covered up.

The bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building produced a spate of media attention and a new round of congressional hearings–sponsored, it is said, by the National Rifle Association’s lobby. Members of the NRA could empathize with the Branch Davidians, whose large private armory was the original target of the ATF. Politics “makes strange bed-fellows,” we are told, and after Waco, as I can personally attest, sleeping arrangements could not have been more perverse.

Left-wingers, liberal democrats, and minorities have traditionally been the critics of federal law enforcement agencies that overstep their authority, and conservative Republicans have traditionally been the defenders of law and order who support law enforcement even when it over-reaches. Waco produced a role reversal. The Gingrich Republicans were now in control of Congress and they decided to reopen Waco.

Congressman Conyers, now on the minority side of the aisle, was again in the spotlight during the second round of partisan congressional hearings, though this time as a defender of Janet Reno and federal law enforcement. A frequent critic of police brutality, as in the Rodney King case, he burst out laughing as he incredulously read a statement prepared for him by his own staff which extolled the virtues of the Los Angeles Police Department’s SWAT team, whose former chief was testifying on behalf of the FBI. But the Democrats had a better strategy than praising law enforcement.

During the stand-off at Waco, President Clinton had charged David Koresh with sexual abuse of the Branch Davidians’ children. Reno made similar claims about child abuse to justify her own decisions to approve the gas-attack. These allegations profoundly influenced public opinion against Koresh and the Branch Davidians. On that basis alone, many Americans were convinced that Koresh was evil and that was enough to close their minds about possible over-reaching and wrongdoings by federal authorities.

In the second round of congressional hearings, the Democrats deployed the same strategy. At the outset of the hearings a young adolescent girl, under New York Congressman Charles Schumer’s gentle questioning, testified in an entirely believable manner about David Koresh forcing her to submit to sexual intercourse. It was Oprah-style television and the most genuinely gripping moment during the long, tedious, and unproductive hearings that followed. The Democrats put a human face on Waco and the battle for public opinion was lost: before the Republicans got started, they found themselves defending a child-molester. Because these allegations have played such an important part in the American public’s moral judgments about the Branch Davidians and the events at Waco, one might have expected a documentary to clarify this matter, or at least face up to it with candor. Instead the issue is fudged. Here and in other places Gazecki’s long documentary is not long enough to encompass the complex background of the Waco tragedy. As the title advertises, his documentary is primarily about the misdeeds of federal agents and their violations of the “rules of engagement.”

Before considering those misdeeds it is worth confronting the allegations of sexual and child abuse lodged against Koresh. The film deals with them briefly and gingerly. Gazecki includes some footage of the young teenage girl testifying before Congress; one of Koresh’s lawyers then undermines her testimony by referring to similar claims the girl made in a custody dispute. Gazecki leaves us with the impression that she might be lying. This portrayal is irresponsible and misleading. Koresh had convinced his followers that he was the Lamb of God prophesied in the Bible. He possessed the good seed and his offspring would occupy a special place in the Kingdom of Heaven. Koresh apparently had memorized many passages in the Bible and could quote relevant scripture to support his claim. You may think this is madness, but Koresh’s followers, many of them well-educated and deeply religious, had faith in his special powers. Husbands practiced abstinence while they allowed Koresh to cohabit with their wives. Parents permitted Koresh to have sex with their pubescent daughters. Many of the children who died in the compound were Koresh’s biological offspring. Though the children were subject to strict physical discipline, lengthy religious instruction, and a diet free of artificial ingredients, caffeine, and candy, there was never any evidence of child abuse in the sense of neglect or battering that concerned Janet Reno. Nor is there evidence that Koresh molested prepubescent girls. Instead, girls who had reached menarche were induced to have intercourse with Koresh in expectation that his “brides” would have the privilege of bearing his special children. Koresh and the Branch Davidians certainly knew that outsiders would disapprove of these sexual practices and downplayed them in public. Still, the secular state apparently had sufficient evidence to charge Koresh with statutory rape. But despite complaints by outsider parents who were not believers, Koresh was never prosecuted.

The only “apologists” for Koresh’s behavior seem to be academic religionists whose studies show that such practices are common in the early stages of new religious sects. They also defend the Branch Davidians–a branch of an earlier apocalyptic branch of the Seventh Day Adventists–as a religious sect, not a mind-controlling cult. To understand what happened at Waco, you must appreciate that his diverse followers, who came from as far away as Australia, Great Britain, and Israel, believed that Koresh was the Lamb of God who would reveal the secrets of the Seven Seals. They called their compound “Mount Carmel,” and like other millennial believers expected the world was coming to an end. Everyone who has carefully studied the Branch Davidians, and that should include Gazecki, agrees that Koresh, justifying his behavior by scripture, had sexual intercourse with legally underage females.

A documentary of this kind, which aims to set the record straight, has a truth-telling obligation. And since Gazecki’s film is essentially an indictment of federal law enforcement agencies, his cause might have been better served by eliminating this issue from the film rather than undermining his own bona fides by equivocating. Statutory rape is a crime, and so is the possession of illegal weapons, but neither of these offenses justifies the ATF’s initial life-threatening, commando-style raid on a compound full of women and children.

Gazecki constructs his film through a series of juxtapositions that powerfully carry his argument about official misconduct and distortion. We see liberal Democratic congressman Tom Lantos of California belligerently asserting that David Koresh was a madman with fanatic followers and that anyone who thinks differently must also be mad. Then we are shown scenes of a calm and sensible Koresh explaining scripture and talking reasonably to his followers, who look like ordinary church-goers. As a result, the usually clear-thinking Lantos looks like the madman. In this fashion virtually all of the government officials from Attorney General Reno on down are made to look like fools or hypocrites. Trying to explain how it came about that the FBI was using tanks, Reno maladroitly compares the arrangement to renting a car: this, after we have watched the “rented” tanks demolishing the compound’s walls. ATF and FBI spokesmen appear constantly in these juxtapositions to be dissembling, deceiving, or misleading in their communications to the media, Congress, and the American people.

Gazecki also uses juxtaposition to support critics of the government’s handling of Waco. In my report, I had suggested that the FBI’s psychological warfare strategy had nothing to do with the psychology of Koresh or the Branch Davidians, that it was instead a function of the FBI’s own group psychology–that agents were determined to show Koresh that they were in control. The film shows me reiterating this interpretation, and then cuts to an FBI spokesman in a press conference who is explaining the FBI’s new aggressive tactics during the stand-off. The agent, obviously hot under the collar and fed up, is shown walking off the podium and stating: “We are going to show them that we control the compound and they are impotent.” I had never seen that footage before, but could not have invented a more perfect illustration of what I had written.

Gazecki’s editorial juxtapositions suggest a pervasive pattern of misinformation by the Justice Department, FBI, and ATF to mislead the American people, cover up misdeeds, and demonize the Branch Davidians. Interviewed after Oklahoma City, President Clinton unfairly dismissed the Branch Davidians as common criminals. The film should correct that unfortunate verdict, which is apparently shared by most Americans. The Branch Davidians may have been misguided religious extremists, but they were also decent human beings seeking a place in heaven and they believed Koresh could show them the way.

Indeed, during the long stand-off the Branch Davidians realized they were being smeared, and made a video to show their human faces to the American people. Men, women, and teenagers (many of them persons of color) explain why they came to Waco and why they are remaining in the compound. They believed God was on their side and–seen from their perspective–one begins to recognize that the Branch Davidians were subjected to great injustices. The ATF investigation concedes that after the raid, in an effort to cover up mistakes, the ATF hierarchy provided the public with “misleading or wrong” information. The Branch Davidians express their indignation about all this in their video. But the FBI prevented the release of that video for months after the tragedy. Parts of it are presented in the documentary, and they will come as a startling revelation. If Americans had seen the video, the Waco tragedy would have left us all with a guilty conscience; perhaps the final tragedy would not even have happened. Ironically, the Justice Department’s Dennis Report specifically notes the FBI’s concern “that if the tape were released to the media Koresh would gain much sympathy.” The FBI waged a misguided public relations campaign to keep Americans from sympathizing with the Branch Davidians. The American media bought it and pressured the FBI to take more aggressive measures against the “Waco Wackos.”

If Waco: The Rules of Engagement had done no more than show Americans that we had once more fallen into the trap of dehumanizing and demonizing our victims it would have served a useful purpose. But Gazecki goes further: he seems almost determined to dehumanize and demonize the ATF and FBI. Some of the documentary’s allegations about federal agents seem reasonable, and correspond to what I learned from my own efforts to understand what happened at Waco. Other allegations push the envelope of credibility and some strain credulity to the breaking point. There is, however, enough in the documentary to shake up anyone’s preconceived notions. As someone deeply critical of law enforcement’s behavior at Waco, the film made me worry that I had not been critical enough. Even if the documentary does not provide definitive answers, it raises serious questions both about the ATF’s February 28 raid and the FBI’s conduct on April 19.

Gazecki’s film argues that ATF agents fired the first shots, and that they directed automatic gunfire from their helicopters into the compound. These assertions directly contradict the official ATF investigation. If they are accurate, the ATF violated the “rules of engagement,” successfully covered up this violation, and then lied under oath before Congress. More startling, Gazecki assembles evidence to argue that federal agents (presumably the FBI) on the final day of the conflagration were firing automatic weapons into the side of the compound hidden from the TV cameras, and that those tanks we saw on television were not just injecting gas but intentionally smashing sections of the compound and crushing the inhabitants. Footage in the film shows one of these tanks becoming disabled because something red is caught in its tracks. The narrator suggests that this may be part of the body of a Branch Davidian and his red coat. To support allegations about automatic weapon fire, Gazecki shows heat-sensitive film made by the government’s own surveillance aircraft, and his assertions are supported in the film by knowledgeable experts. All this is in direct contradiction of the FBI’s repeated claims, backed up by the Justice Department’s investigation and the Dennis Report, that their purpose on April 19 was to get the Branch Davidians out safely, that the tanks were not attacking, and that they never fired a shot.

What is one to make of these allegations? Let us begin with the ATF raid. The ATF had been gathering intelligence for months and knew that there were many women and children in the compound whose lives would be at risk in a fire-fight. They believed that the Branch Davidians had powerful weapons, thought the end of the world was at hand, and might resist an armed assault by the ATF–the modern day soldiers of Assyria, according to Koresh.

Nonetheless, the ATF planned the largest armed raid in the bureau’s history. The bureau received military training from the US Army at Fort Hood to prepare agents who had never before participated in such an effort. The ATF clearly misled Texas’s then-Governor Ann Richards by falsely claiming that illegal drugs were involved. (The Branch Davidians, like the Seventh Day Adventists, reject all such drugs as a matter of religious tenet.) The illegal drug story was required under federal statute for the ATF to obtain the use of the Texas National Guard’s military helicopters. Those helicopters were supposed to arrive first at the compound to create the diversion and surprise necessary for a “dynamic entry”: diversion and surprise would allow ATF agents to put up ladders and invade the compound through the second floor window–beyond which, according to their faulty intelligence, lay the locked armory to which only David Koresh had the key. The ATF plan was to get there before Koresh could unlock it. If the timing failed, the plan put at risk the lives of 80 federal agents and more than 100 Branch Davidians. Given the alleged offense–violations of an illegal-firearms statute–the entire project seems ill-conceived. Indeed, many commentators later suggested that a single agent could have peacefully served a warrant. Even at the time, the acting Assistant Treasury Secretary in charge of law enforcement thought the plan was unwise and unnecessary when it was laid out to him just hours before the operation started. His first response, like Janet Reno’s, was to say no. But he was misled by the agents in charge who convinced him that the Branch Davidians posed a real threat of violence to their neighbors. The official investigatory report concedes that the plan was inept if not irrational. But it maintains that the Branch Davidians were violent and ignores the possibility that the ATF raid was a dangerous provocation.

As is now well known, the ATF had an agent, Robert Rodriguez, inside the compound on the day of the raid. Rodriguez was pretending to be interested in the Branch Davidians’ faith in order to gather intelligence. David Koresh knew all along that Rodriguez was an ATF agent; in fact, many days earlier Koresh had learned from his neighbors that the ATF had the compound under surveillance. Still, Koresh tried to proselytize Rodriguez. On the morning of the raid, when Koresh learned that the ATF was coming, he told Rodriguez that the Branch Davidians knew he was an agent and that they had been informed of the impending raid. Permitted to beat a hasty retreat (by these supposed killers), the agent informed his superiors that they had lost the essential element of surprise. Everyone in the ATF had agreed that if the element of surprise was lost they would call the operation off: because the main objective was to seize the locked armory before Koresh could distribute weapons to his followers, any other decision was completely irrational. Yet the ATF pushed ahead.

As Gazecki demonstrates, Koresh’s warning resulted in part from the ATF’s own inept attempts to get media attention. We see an agent lamely explaining that she called the local television stations only to make sure she had their weekend telephone numbers so she could contact them after the raid. In another remarkable failure of security, uniformed ATF agents were seen in Waco hotels, restaurants, and cocktail lounges the night before the raid. As a result of these gaffes, local TV stations had crews out looking for the compound long before the raid; when they explained what they were doing and asked a Branch Davidian for directions, he was able to warn Koresh.

Gazecki’s documentary shows ATF agent Rodriguez weeping as he testifies before Congress about how he told his superiors, how they ignored his warning, and how those superiors had been lying to Congress. Gazecki has him nicely juxtaposed with one of the superiors who in bureaucratic “double speak” is explaining to Congress why a warning is not a warning. The ATF leaders must have learned something from Rodriguez as they hurriedly decided to advance the time of their assault. But because of the ATF’s almost-unbelievable incompetence in failing to coordinate radio wave bands, the helicopters did not learn of the changes, kept to the original plan, arrived late, and failed to serve their diversionary function. With neither diversion nor surprise, tragedy was inevitable.

Why on earth did the ATF go ahead? The most realistic answer I have heard is that the ATF was worried about its own morale and standing. The ATF has had many critics over the years and been the object of scorn and ridicule by other law enforcement agencies. (Competition and bad blood among federal law enforcement agencies is well-known inside the Beltway.) It has frequently been suggested that the ATF be dismantled and its functions assigned to the FBI. The ATF wanted to pull off a bold military-style coup that would be widely publicized on television and allow it to display a huge collection of illegal weapons confiscated by its competent and courageous agents. Such a coup, it was thought, would strengthen and protect the ATF, impress Congress, enhance the agency’s prestige, perhaps even increase its budget allocation.

The idea that the ATF acted out of bureaucratic self-interest and was looking for a public relations coup may seem ridiculous, but it is the only credible explanation of its conduct. Several years earlier the ATF had laid siege to a right-wing stronghold. The stand-off was resolved by the FBI and third-party negotiators, but the illegal weapons were all dismantled before the surrender and the ATF lost all the evidence it was hoping to obtain. The ATF had invested an extraordinary amount of time, energy, and resources in the Waco plan, as agents, many of them without previous SWAT-team or incident-response experience, prepared for their commando mission. Gazecki’s film captures the “children-playing-soldier” mood of the ATF in video footage the agents made of themselves as they prepared for their escapade. Indeed, the momentum was so great it obviously overwhelmed the rational judgment of leaders who discounted their own agent’s warning.

Though the agency’s conduct does not constitute a government conspiracy, it is equally preposterous to describe what transpired at the compound as an “ambush,” as the ATF report does. Having been warned, and expecting to be attacked, the Branch Davidians had more than enough time to open their armory and distribute weapons. Whether illegal automatics or legal semiautomatics, their weapons had enormous killing power. Military experts who have examined Waco agree that if the Branch Davidians had decided to kill the agents, as the ATF report claims, they could easily have slaughtered them. They had time to station themselves in strategic positions, including a tower that rose above the compound. Armed with automatic weapons, two or three of them could have fired on the cattle cars in which the agents arrived at the compound (the ATF’s idea of Texas camouflage)–had there been a real ambush, most of the agents would have been killed before they even dismounted from the cattle cars, and many more as they jumped down. Even after the ATF took cover, the Branch Davidians’ strategic firing positions in the tower made the agents visible targets.

The four agents who were killed were among those who went ahead with the planned dynamic entry from the roof of the compound, whose whole purpose was to get to the locked second-floor armory. But as the element of surprise had been lost, the armory had already been opened and the weapons disbursed. As soon as gunfire was exchanged–whoever started it–the ATF had to realize that no purpose could be served by mounting the roof. What we witnessed on television, then, was a tragic exercise in futility. The ATF leaders had put their own agents in a situation where there was nothing to be gained and where lives could be and were lost. Viewers of Gazecki’s film will see again those desperate moments on the compound roof, as one of the agents goes through the window. But the narrator says nothing about the insanity of what is taking place before our eyes. Federal agents killing and being killed for no reason!

Both Gazecki’s documentary and the ATF’s official investigation are misleading about all this. The ATF investigation constructed a narrative in which federal agents were caught in a killing ambush and fired in self-defense. Gazecki’s film, by focusing particularly on the helicopters, makes the ATF out to be the killers. But ATF agents are not killers, and neither were the Branch Davidians. The agents were desperately trying to follow the ill-conceived and futile plan conceived by their superiors. The Branch Davidians were defending their holy ground in the face of violent provocation. Both sides had weapons and were firing them. Indeed, the extraordinary thing, missed by both narratives, is how few lives were lost in this huge display of firepower.

If not a result of conspiracy or ambush, why were the first shots fired? The answer may be painfully banal. The complex ATF plan (of which there was never a written copy) called for the first agents who dismounted to use fire extinguishers to fend off the Branch Davidians’ watch-dogs. As this began, Koresh, who said he had stationed his people to defend the compound, came to the door unarmed to confront the ATF. The ATF report incredibly has the Branch Davidians greeting the cattle cars with a hail of bullets and grenades while Koresh comes to the open door unarmed. It is impossible to believe that these events happened simultaneously as described. Koresh consistently maintained that he could not believe that ATF agents in full battle gear would assault the compound if they knew there were women and children inside. He came to the door to try to explain the situation to them. The first gun shots were then fired by agents at the dogs when their fire extinguishers failed to control them. One of Koresh’s bodyguards, on his own initiative, then fired at those agents; agents responded by opening fire on the compound. The agent closest to Koresh, who was still at the open door, dropped to the ground and shot the unarmed Koresh through the pelvis and wrist. The door closed and gunfire broke out on all sides leading to the battle already described.

In short, the ATF did not go to the compound intending to shoot first and serve warrants later, as Gazecki suggests. Nor did the Branch Davidians intend an ambush to maximize their kill of federal agents, as the ATF’s official report insists. Indeed, when the firing began, Wayne Martin, a Branch Davidian and an African-American graduate of Harvard Law School, called 911. Portions of the tapes can be heard in Gazecki’s documentary. Martin’s spontaneous reactions do not suggest a man participating in an ambush. A trained lawyer and minister, Martin was obviously shocked that armed troops were firing on women and children.

As to Gazecki’s charges that the ATF’s borrowed helicopters fired on the compound, he has presented convincing circumstantial evidence. Three helicopters arrived late on the scene as the fire-fight began. The occupants of the helicopters could not communicate with the leaders on the ground because of the radio-band problem. The agents in the helicopters with automatic weapons had no idea what was happening, and may well have joined in the fire-fight. Gazecki has compelling audiotape of the exchange between ATF agent Cavanaugh and the Branch Davidians during those exact moments. Early in the raid, the two sides had no way to communicate; Martin had reached the local police on their 911 line but they could not contact the ATF. On the tape, telephone communication has been established and we hear a Branch Davidian desperately telling Cavanaugh that the helicopters are shooting automatic weapons into the compound. Cavanaugh denies this. Koresh, though he had already been wounded, comes on and tells the agent they are not going to talk any longer if Cavanaugh refuses to acknowledge the reality that the compound is taking automatic weapon fire from the helicopters. Koresh had no reason to invent this complaint at that time, and Cavanaugh had no way of knowing what was going on in the helicopters. Cavanaugh ingeniously resolves this dispute over the phone by saying he intended only to deny that the helicopters had mounted automatic weapons. Subsequently, the ATF denied that agents ever fired from helicopters. Before Congress, Cavanaugh wept and swore that it was impossible for anyone to think that ATF agents would fire from helicopters. If he believed that they had, he claimed, he would throw away his badge. Gazecki’s film contains a convincing refutation of Cavanaugh’s testimony about the helicopters. Regrettably, Congress never heard it, as no member of Congress confronted or cross-examined him.

Gazecki is less than objective in failing to emphasize that the Branch Davidians fired on the helicopters. This is yet another example of the adversarial style on both sides. In the film, one actually seems to hear the Branch Davidians taking automatic weapon fire from the demonic ATF. In the ATF report we are shown the unarmed helicopters and the bullet holes caused by demonic Branch Davidians.

The ATF raid left dead and dying on both sides and led to a cease-fire agreement. Even the ATF official report acknowledges “chaos at the command post” after the shoot-out. A complex negotiation between the ATF and the FBI followed, resulting in the FBI’s own 51-day siege.

When the FBI replaced the ATF at Waco, their initial strategy of negotiating with the Brach Davidians soon shifted to a declaration of all-out psychological warfare. Most behavioral scientists who have studied the events have questioned the FBI’s decision. Because of the Branch Davidians’ religious beliefs, end-of-the-world expectations, and acceptance of Koresh as the Lamb of God, such tactics might have driven members to mass suicide. When I and the other panelists appointed by the Justice Department met with representatives of the FBI’s behavioral science group for briefings on July 1, 1993, we were told in no uncertain terms that they had decided Koresh was a sociopath who had conned his followers. Their spokesman opined that, when push comes to shove, common criminals such as Koresh, who have antisocial personality disorders, act in their own self-interest. This was presented to us as the behavioral science input into FBI decision-making. These views suggested to the panelists an astonishing ignorance of religious beliefs and of individual and group psychology. But as it turned out this initial part of our briefing was misleading.

The arrangements of the Justice Department for its investigation of Waco in my opinion were not designed to produce a searching inquiry. The panelists were briefed by law enforcement officials who had not been directly involved in Waco, and we were asked to prepare individual reports suggesting improvements in federal law enforcement for the future without a detailed understanding of what happened at Waco. Career Justice Department lawyers were to conduct the separate factual investigation; the so-called independent investigator, Edward Dennis, was to prepare his report based on the Justice Department’s self-examination, and we were instructed not to ask questions about this ongoing investigation. My objection to these arrangements was considered an aberration, indicative of some personal psychopathology. And my subsequent criticism of the process and its findings was taken as a further proof of my bad judgment and “paranoia.” At one point, it seemed as though the Justice Department had removed me from the panel. Eventually it was agreed that I would delay my own report until I had studied the factual report and could pursue any unanswered questions with Justice Department lawyers or the FBI. During this subsequent process I discovered that Peter Smerik, the agent who actually provided behavioral science input at Waco, had submitted two remarkably contradictory memoranda to his superiors. In the first, with impressive psychological insight and prescience, he had noted that Koresh was a religious fanatic, not a con-man sociopath, and that his followers were true religious adherents. He warned his superiors that psychological warfare might drive the Branch Davidians to collective suicide. Twenty-four hours later, he sent a memo advising the FBI to press ahead with psychological warfare. According to the Dennis Report, this psychological warfare memo was the last submitted at Waco by the behavioral science group. Neither the Justice Department’s investigators nor the Dennis Report delved into these strange circumstances.

In the fall of 1993, I asked Smerik about his 180? turnabout. His response, clear and unmistakable, was: “my superior told me I was tying his hands.” He had caved into the pressure and had provided his superiors the advice they wanted to hear. During the congressional hearings in 1995, I sat behind him and heard him testify under oath that no one had actually said those words to him, that no one had pressured him. He testified that it was all in his own head: he had pressured himself. None of the members of Congress present seemed to recognize that Smerik was recanting and had closed ranks with his fellow agents. Smerik’s original story had been the linch-pin of my understanding about what went wrong in the FBI’s management of the stand-off at Waco, and it had been confirmed by several other FBI sources.

There were two warring psychological camps inside the FBI at Waco. The first was the tactical forces, consisting of hostage rescue team members, SWAT-team trained marksmen, and other Green Beret types whose imperative is immediate action. The second camp consisted of negotiators and behavioral scientists, who were prepared to talk the thing through indefinitely to avoid loss of life. Friction between the two camps increased as the stand-off dragged on. The tactical forces pressed for more aggressive and harassing measures, at times even acting independently and undercutting ongoing FBI negotiations. Smerik’s turnabout was only one symptom of this pathology of divided camps. Eventually, the tactical forces were calling all the shots and acting on their plan to tighten a noose of tanks around the compound and then inject the CS gas to drive the Davidians out. As one of my informants told me, by the time the plan was presented to Janet Reno, there were three options: gas, gas, or gas. The FBI’s choice of strategy was not based on insufficient appreciation of apocalyptic religious beliefs or inadequate behavioral science. It was based on the action imperative of tactical law enforcement.

Gazecki compellingly substantiates this conflict inside the FBI. He presents excerpts culled from the reels of negotiation tape in which the negotiator apologizes for behavior by the tactical forces that violated promises made to the Branch Davidians. These tapes indicate that federal agents at times behaved not like professionals but like hooligans–for example, pulling down their pants and mooning the people in the compound. The film also substantiates my opinion, shared by many commentators, that third-party negotiation should have been utilized. On the tapes we hear the Branch Davidians insisting that negotiation with the FBI has reached a dead end and asking for third-party negotiators.

Though it supports all the criticisms contained in my report, and which I reiterate as a talking head on-screen, the documentary suggests that my ultimate conclusion about the Branch Davidians being inadvertently driven to mass suicide is entirely mistaken. Gazecki claims to show us something far more despicable. He believes that on the day of the gas attack some of the FBI’s tactical forces began shooting their automatic weapons into the compound and crushing Branch Davidians under the tanks. According to the autopsy reports at least 20 corpses had bullet holes in them and some of the bodies were maimed. The Justice Department’s explanation of the bullet holes was that fanatic leaders had shot church members; it gave no explanation of the maimed bodies. Until I saw Gazecki’s film I had accepted this explanation, with the proviso that these shootings may have been suicides or mercy killings of people who were dying in agony. Koresh’s own corpse had been shot between the eyes, and I do not believe any Branch Davidian still in the compound would have done that to the “Lamb of God” in malice. Gazecki forces us to ask whether some of those bullet holes were made by federal agents and whether some of the strangely mutilated corpses were the result of tank treads.

When the panelists were assembled on the first day at the Justice Department we were told that we would be given information about the final conflagration that had been gathered through top-secret technology. We were informed that all such information would be redacted from the published investigation under a federal statute–it was–and we were sworn to secrecy. Though the London Times shortly thereafter published photographs of the listening devices used at Waco and described how they had been deployed, I honored the secrecy request until I testified before Congress two years later and was told to reveal what the panel had been told. Gazecki’s documentary has been profoundly disturbing to me on this very matter.

The panel was told that the FBI’s top-secret listening devices picked up all sorts of extraneous noise and conversation, making it impossible to decipher meaningful information as it was recorded. We were also told that well after the fire FBI experts had deciphered a conversation in which the Branch Davidians’ inner circle reported that on the night of the final day Koresh had decided it would end with them “stepping out onto the surface of the sun.” Obviously, we were told, if the FBI had heard that information in real time, they would have taken a different course the next morning. But here was the convincing but secret evidence that the Branch Davidians had committed mass suicide. The FBI never played that tape for the panel nor were we ever given a transcript. Nonetheless, I accepted this oral information as the basic factual premise of my report and concluded that the FBI had inadvertently driven the Branch Davidians to this extremity. To my knowledge this “secret” information convinced the other panelists as well that Waco had ended in mass suicide.

Gazecki’s film argues that I got it wrong, as has everyone else who believed the Justice Department’s investigation and the Dennis Report. The film presents three kinds of evidence about that final day. First, there is a still photograph, apparently taken by authorities after the tragedy, of a ferret round of CS gas that was fired into the compound. A Branch Davidian survivor has testified that many such rounds were fired and that they sounded like mortar fire. This information is confirmed by the Dennis Report, which describes the ferret rounds as “non-burning.” Gazecki’s film, however, claims that they are pyrotechnic devices that explode to deliver the gas, and further argues that these devices, not the Branch Davidians, set fire to the compound. Ferret rounds are either pyrotechnic or not: that question can easily be resolved. However, as the CS gas is in fact a powder that must be dispersed, it is not inconceivable that the canister includes some mechanism for that purpose. The Dennis Report’s description of these rounds as “non-burning” seems evasive rather than definitive. And as the compound was filled with highly volatile fumes, pyrotechnic devices could have sparked the fire.

The documentary’s second kind of evidence consists of films, presented at the congressional hearings, that show a tank ramming back and forth repeatedly through a section of the compound until it collapses. The panelists were never told that this was part of the FBI’s “not an assault” plan. Yet Gazecki also has tape of an FBI spokesman saying that they knew in advance that the women and children might be placed in a bunker near the kitchen, and so intentionally rammed the tank through the wall to deposit gas in the bunker area. The Justice Department has consistently argued that tanks were used only to inject gas or to create exits so that the Branch Davidians could escape. But the Dennis Report reveals that one of the tanks was ordered to clear a path through the compound to the main tower so that another tank could insert CS gas in that area; that during that “endeavor” a portion of the roof collapsed; and that “an apparent deviation from the approved plan began that involved . . . dismantl[ing] the building.”

These uses of the tanks could not have occurred without risk of injury to the occupants. Did Attorney General Reno know the tanks would be used in this risky destructive fashion when she approved the plan? On the day of the tank assault Reno was scheduled to give a talk in Baltimore. She testified that the FBI advised her to go ahead with the talk so as not to create unwarranted concern. She was therefore not in the Washington situation room when the tanks began demolishing the walls of the compound. The documentary argues that the maimed bodies described at autopsy were in fact mangled by the tanks. We see film of the disabled tank being towed away and a Congressman at the hearing complains that after two years there has still been no report of what caused the tread to come off. Gazecki leaves viewers with the impression that a Branch Davidian’s body may have been caught in the tread and that the truth has been covered up.

Because I was very concerned about the lethal risks to small children of prolonged exposure to CS gas, I asked many questions about the tank plan. Not until Gazecki’s film, however, did I learn that the FBI intended to deposit the noxious substance directly on the bunker where they believed the children would be. Nor was I informed that tanks would push down walls to reach that location. The FBI plan in fact imposed much greater risk of loss of life than I was told or had imagined. Gazecki may therefore be correct in believing that some Branch Davidians were crushed by tanks. I had never before considered that possibility.

The documentary’s third kind of evidence is based entirely on heat-sensitive film and an expert’s interpretation of it. The expert repeatedly points to flashing lights on the film which he claims are bursts of heat that do not occur in nature and can only be made by automatic weapons. He asserts that those weapons are firing into the compound on the side away from the television cameras. There has already been enough discussion of this heat-sensitive evidence in the media to suggest that Gazecki’s expert has given a plausible but not irrefutable opinion. If it is true, then many FBI agents knew about it and there was a massive cover-up.

Gazecki seems to want us to believe that FBI agents intentionally crushed Branch Davidians with their tanks and slaughtered them with their automatic weapons. Again, this is a mirror image account of the FBI’s description of the Branch Davidians killing their own people rather than letting them escape the mass suicide. Surely the human truth lies somewhere between these extremes. There is no doubt in my mind that the FBI’s plan for the last day went awry, just as the ATF’s did on the first day. Some of the FBI agents obviously did not follow the established plan. Even the Dennis Report acknowledges this much. The FBI may have circled their wagons after the fact, honoring the law enforcement code of silence. They would not be the first or last law enforcement group to do so. But the Justice Department’s job was to dig out the truth; that was what the Attorney General promised the American people.

One might naively think that the highest priority after a tragedy like Waco would be for everyone involved to consider what went wrong and what they would now do differently. The ATF conceded errors but never acknowledged that the raid was tragically unnecessary. Neither the FBI nor the Justice Department conceded any errors. The government’s self-investigation glossed over the evidence of conflict within the FBI at Waco; it denied the lethal risk of CS gas to infants; it never explained the “apparent deviation” in the tank plan; it never described how decisions were made at Justice or who made them; it never offered convincing reasons for its failure to use third-party negotiations; and it never questioned the wisdom or the practical consequences of demonizing the Branch Davidians. The film documents each of these failings, and Gazecki builds the viewers’ sense of moral outrage by his method of juxtaposition. Because much of what he shows us does seem to be true, his further allegations of extreme wrongdoing become more believable.

Gazecki stops short of suggesting that Waco was a government conspiracy, but he gives conspiracy theorists all the ammunition they will need. Unfortunately, the responsible officials did such an inadequate job of investigating Waco that most viewers will have almost no realistic basis against which to measure Gazecki’s film. Waco: The Rules of Engagement will be another reason for people to distrust their government.

Also see: Alan Stone’s original report to the Justice Department.

Fast and Furious Spooks

Posted by Bill Conroy – July 10, 2011 at 8:17 pmCongressional Inquiry Raising Specter of Spooks in the SoupThe acting head of ATF (the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives) has seemingly blown the cover of both DEA and FBI info…

The acting head of ATF (the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives) has seemingly blown the cover of both DEA and FBI informant operations in order to spare his own neck and to deflect blame away from a badly flawed operation undertaken by his own agency.
In doing so, ATF Acting Director Kenneth Melson has also left open the door to the house of mirrors that always comes into play when U.S. interests intersect with foreign affairs.
The operation that has put Melson in the hot seat before Congress is known as Fast and Furious, which was launched in October 2009 as an offshoot of Project Gunrunner — ATF’s larger effort to stem the flow of illegal weapons into Mexico
However, Fast and Furious actually undermined the goal of Project Gunrunner by allowing some 2,000 or more firearms illegally purchased in the U.S. to “walk” (or be smuggled under ATF’s watch) across the border in a supposed effort by the federal law enforcement agency to target the kingpins behind Mexico’s narco-gun-running enterprises, ATF whistleblowers contend.
Two of the guns linked to the Fast and Furious operation allegedly were found at the murder scene of Border Patrol agent Brian Terry, who was shot to death by Mexican border marauders in Arizona late last year. The whistelblower revelations about Fast and Furious have since sparked Congressional inquiries.
In a letter sent on July 5 to U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, two Republican members of Congress from the committees probing Fast and Furious made startling allegations in the wake of what they say was an interview of ATF’s Melson conducted by “both Republican and and Democratic staff.”
The letter was drafted by U.S. Rep. Darrell Issa, chairman of the House Committee on Oversight & Government Reform; and U.S. Sen. Charles Grassley, ranking member of the Judiciary Committee.
The revelation from that letter of greatest significance:
Specifically, we have very real indications from several sources that some of the gun trafficking “higher-ups” that the ATF sought to identify [via Fast and Furious] were already known to other agencies and may have been paid as informants. The Acting Director [Melson] said that ATF was kept in the dark about certain activities of other agencies, including DEA and FBI. [Emphasis added.]
Mr. Melson said that he learned from ATF agents in the field that information obtained by these agencies [DEA, FBI and “other agencies”] could have had a material impact on the Fast and Furious investigation as far back as late 2009 or early 2010. After learning about the possible role of DEA and FBI [and “other agencies”], he testified that he reported this information in April 2011 to the Acting Inspector General and directly to then-Acting Deputy Attorney General James Cole on June 16th, 2011.
The evidence we have gathered raises the disturbing possibility that the Justice Department not only allowed criminals to smuggle weapons but that taxpayers dollars [in the form of informant payments] from other agencies may have financed those engaging in such activities.
… It is one thing to argue that the ends justify the means in an attempt to defend a policy that puts building a big case ahead of stopping known criminals from getting guns. Yet it is a much more serious matter to conceal from Congress the possible involvement of other agencies in identifying and maybe even working with the same criminals that Operation Fast and Furious was trying to identify. …. [The entire letter can be found at this link.]
What the letter from Issa and Grassley is alleging, simply put, is that multiple U.S. agencies were employing as informants and assets members of Mexican drug organizations who were responsible for importing into their nation thousands of weapons from the U.S., leading to more than 40,000 homicides in Mexico’s drug war since late 2006.
The letter, by its wording, makes clear that the complicit U.S. agencies include FBI and DEA, but it also seems to make clear that “other agencies” might also be involved in the game. And also part of this game was ATF, which, via Fast and Furious, was allowing thousands of guns to be smuggled across the U.S. border into Mexico as part of a supposed plan to identify “higher-ups” in Mexican drug organizations who were responsible for the illegal weapons trade. And, as it turns out, those responsible, in some cases, were the very individuals being employed as informants and assets by other U.S. agencies.
Connecting flight
And in a strange twist of fate, one of the “higher-ups” in the Mexican narco-trafficking world, who recently claimed to be a U.S. government informant, is now pending trial in federal court in Chicago.
Jesus Vicente Zambada Niebla, is the son of Ismael “El Mayo” Zambada Garcia — one of the purported top leaders of the Sinaloa drug-trafficking organization — a leading Mexican-based importer of weapons and exporter of drugs. Zambada Niebla was arrested in Mexico in March 2009 and in February 2010 extradited to the United States to stand trial on narco-trafficking-related charges.
The indictment pending against Zambada Niebla claims he served as the “logistical coordinator” for the “cartel,” helping to oversee an operation that imported into the U.S. “multi-ton quantities of cocaine … using various means, including but not limited to, Boeing 747 cargo aircraft, private aircraft … buses, rail cars, tractor trailers, and automobiles.”
Zambada Niebla also claims be an asset of the U.S. government. His allegation is laid out in a two-page court pleading filed in late March with the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois in Chicago. The pleading asserts that Zambada Niebla was working with “public authority” “on behalf of the U.S. Department of Justice, Drug Enforcement Administration (“DEA”); and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (“FBI”); and the Department of Homeland Security, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (“ICE”).
Interestingly, in addition to the narco-trafficking charges pending against him in Chicago, Zambada Niebla also stands accused of seeking to smuggle weapons into Mexico for the Sinaloa organization.
“Jesus Vicente Zambada Niebla sought to obtain weapons from the United States … and discussed the use of violence…,” U.S. government court pleadings in Zambada Niebla’s case state.
Zambada Niebla also is linked to alleged Sinaloa organization money-launderer Pedro Alfonso Alatorre Damy via a Gulfstream II jet (tail number N987SA) that crashed in Mexico in late 2007 with some four tons of cocaine onboard.
That aircraft was allegedly purchased with Sinaloa organization drug money laundered through Alatorre Damy’s casa de cambio business and a U.S. bank. And that same aircraft was reportedly suspected of being used previously as part of the CIA’s “terrorist” rendition program, according tomedia reports and an investigation spearheaded by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe.
In addition, the Gulfstream II was purchased less than two weeks before it crashed in Mexico by a duo that included a U.S. government operative who allegedly had done past contract work for a variety of US law enforcement and intelligence agencies, according to a known CIA asset (Baruch Vega) who is identified as such in public court records. The four tons of cocaine onboard of the Gulfstream II at the time of its crash landing, according Vega, were purchased in Colombia via a syndicate that included a Colombian narco-trafficker named Nelson Urrego, who,according to Panamanian press reports and Vega, is a U.S. government (CIA) asset.
[For more more details on the Gulfstream II story and connections, read Narco News’s past coverage at this link.]
And now, one of the top players in the Sinaloa drug organization, who, according to the U.S. government, managed logistics for the criminal organization — a job that entailed overseeing the purchase of aircraft for drug smuggling activities, as well as weapons for enforcement activities — now claims to have been actively cooperating with several U.S. law enforcement agencies since at least 2004.
So once again, the DEA and FBI appear in the context of employing high-level narco-traffickers as informants and/or assets. And in the background of such intrigue, always, overseas, as in the Gulfstream II case, is the CIA, which trumps every other U.S. agency when it comes to operations in a foreign land.
A former CIA counterintelligence officer explained how it works as follows, in a recent interview with Narco News:
It’s … true that sometimes agents who do narcotics work [like DEA agents] may also do things that are at the same time of interest to the CIA in terms of intelligence collection.
If CIA and DEA are working the same person, collecting information, the CIA will get the nod [ultimate control] that’s normal. In the field [overseas] the CIA trumps everyone.
… The system is designed so that agencies do not walk over each other’s assets [or informants], so you don’t have two agencies going after the same people for different reasons [DEA to bust them for narco-trafficking and CIA to use them as intelligence assets, for example]. [In those cases, though] it is CIA that gets the preference; CIA is the mother god.
Wacko, Barroom Commandos
When it comes to prime intelligence targets, they don’t come much better than the leaders of Mexican drug organizations, who have their tentacles planted deep inside Latin American governments due to the corrupt reach of the drug trade. So it is not unreasonable to suspect that part of the reason that ATF’s Fast and Furious makes no sense in terms of a law enforcement operation is because it wasn’t one at all.
In fact, it may well have been co-opted and trumped by a covert U.S. intelligence agency operation, such as one run by CIA, that is shielded even from most members of Congress — possibly even the White House, if it was launched under a prior administration and parts of it have since run off the tracks on their own.
As the former CIA counterintelligence officer said: “Is there deviation [from the norm, in terms of CIA operations]? Yes. Stuff happens, but that’s because there was deviation; but it’s not authorized.”
In any event, it’s not likely that even the Attorney General of the U.S. could discuss publicly the specifics of such an intelligence operation, authorized or not, without facing the real threat of being accused of violating national security laws — such is the power of the U.S. intelligence community over even law enforcement and the courts in this nation.
As for Zambada Niebla, it is worth noting that shortly after he filed his motion in federal court outing himself as a U.S. informant, his attorneys filed separate pleadings alleging that he is being held improperly in solitary confinement, with all communications, except with his attorneys, essentially cut off by the very government he claims to have assisted.
From those pleadings, filed on June 27:
Vicente [Zambada Niebla] contends that the sum of the conditions under which he is being held in pre-trial detention violates the Due Process clause of the Fifth Amendment and the Eighth Amendment prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment.
He is prohibited from speaking to any other inmates at any time and for any purpose. Vicente is prohibited from speaking to anyone except his counselor and those Bureau of Prisons personnel above the rank of lieutenant. Neither his counselor nor BOP personnel above the rank of lieutenant are regularly on his floor at the [Chicago Metropolitan Detention Center’s Special Housing Unit].
In the entire period of his pre-trial detention [since March 2011], he has not seen sunlight or breathed fresh air. In contrast, he had outdoor exercise every day in a super maximum security facility in Mexico.
Now, it’s not likely anyone is going to feel pity for Zambada Niebla, who stands accused of being a key player in one of the most ruthless narco-trafficking organizations in Mexico — though it is important to note, for the purposes of the U.S. justice system, he stands accused, but not yet convicted.
However, what should be a bit unsettling, even to those who have no empathy for someone like Zambada Niebla, is the possibility that he is telling the truth about being a U.S. government informant/asset, and that his treatment in jail is, in fact, designed to suppress that truth.
And with the stakes this high, in terms of the drug war in Mexico and the billions of dollars funding it, as well as the Congressional scrutiny now focused on Fast and Furious in Congress, can it be completely ruled out that Zambada Niebla might well be deemed a messenger worth silencing?
Former deep undercover DEA agent Mike Levine, who has extensive experience working in Latin America, offers his take on ATF’s Fast and Furious, a view that is grounded in first-hand knowledge of the drug war and its sordid history:
… Running guns into Mexico into the hands of criminals? There can be no objective to this but death, and lots of it.
The events in Operation Fast and Furious are eerily identical to those surrounding the arrest of General Ramon Guillen Davila, a CIA asset who was [indicted for] smuggling a ton of cocaine into the US [in] 1996, in what was described as an intelligence gathering operation, the problem being that no intelligence was ever gathered and that the ton was only one of many other similar shipments of cocaine that actually hit the streets of the U.S. by way of CIA agents.
If I were a criminal profiler, it wouldn’t take much to identify a CIA pattern here [with Fast and Furious]: A wacko, barroom commando, illegal operation that makes no sense whatsoever, run outside the control of law enforcement.
Stay tuned….


Fast and Furious actions were taken by the Bush administration and Obama is now holding the bag. There is no difference between Republicans and Democrats other than fake discussion points invented and promoted for the sake of entertaining the masses, but it is a good thing that you are getting aware of the level of government corruption.

The point is not to blame Bush but that there is a continuum of policies and actions regardless of party affiliation of the president. That is irrelevant; investigation into some activities is taboo regardless of party. there is a cynic opportunism here on part of the republicans but that do not change the nature of things

What you need to understand is that what are covered are not mistakes or mishandling but actual policies and premeditated action. There is information on the public domain that suggests this is the case but the US government cannot officially acknowledge these policies, regardless of when they were implemented or by whom.

The US government is managing the Mexican Drug War and it is involved in gun-trafficking, money laundering and the drug smuggling itself, Fast and Furious is just part of this operation aimed to strengthen the Sinaloa Cartel to consolidate the drug trade and make it easier to manage

Please contact your representative and senator and tell them you are against the US government involvement in gun-trafficking. By the way in early July there is a UN vote on gun-trafficking controls tell them also you are in favor of controls


BBC

Related Stories

President Obama has taken the rare step of asserting executive privilege to withhold documents sought by lawmakers probing a botched US sting operation.

The attorney general is facing moves to hold him in contempt of Congress over the issue.

Justice officials said the privilege applied to files on how they learned of problems with Fast and Furious.

The operation saw US agents lose track of hundreds of illegal guns allowed into Mexico to trace arms dealers.

A US border agent was killed with a weapon linked to the operation in December 2010.

This is the first use of executive privilege for withholding documents by Mr Obama. Former Presidents George W Bush and Bill Clinton used the privilege six and 14 times respectively during their eight-year terms.

The Department of Justice says it has denied access to the files because they contain information that could affect ongoing criminal investigations.

Eric Holder US Attorney General Eric Holder could be held in contempt of Congress over Fast and Furious

Its officials say they have already sent more than 7,000 documents to the Republican-led House Oversight Committee.

“I write now to inform you that the president has asserted executive privilege over the relevant… documents,” Deputy Attorney General James Cole wrote to the lawmakers.

Wednesday’s contempt vote looms a day after a meeting between Attorney General Eric Holder and committee chairman, Representative Darrell Issa, failed to end the impasse.

Mr Holder said lawmakers had turned down his offer to give them the documents, along with a briefing on the operation, in exchange for assurances that the panel would drop contempt proceedings.

“They rejected what I thought was an extraordinary offer on our part,” he told reporters on Tuesday.

But Republican Senator Charles Grassley, who is not on the committee but attended the meeting, cast doubt on Mr Holder’s version.

“The attorney general wants to trade a briefing and the promise of delivering some small, unspecified set of documents tomorrow for a free pass today,” he told reporters.

On Wednesday, the office of Republican House Speaker John Boehner said use of executive privilege raised questions about the White House’s involvement with the gun probe.

“The White House decision to invoke executive privilege implies that White House officials were either involved in the ‘Fast and Furious’ operation or the cover-up that followed,” Brendan Buck, a spokesman for Mr Boehner, told reporters.

The committee’s top Democrat, Representative Elijah Cummings, accused Mr Issa of having “no interest” in resolving the dispute.

“You’ve been holding the attorney general to an impossible standard,” he told CNN.

“You accused him of a cover-up for protecting documents that he is prohibited from providing.”

It is not clear what will happen if Mr Holder is held in contempt of Congress.

Historically, Congress and the White House have negotiated agreements to avoid a court battle that would limit either Congress’ subpoena power or executive privilege itself.


Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms Agency was intentionally letting guns go to Mexico

Justice Department sends Congress 1,400 pages on ‘Fast and Furious’ 

When Wisconsin Republican Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner and Attorney General Eric Holder had a sharp back-and-forth on whether or not officials in the Department of Justice lied to Congress. The questioning was during Thursday morning’s House Judiciary Committee hearing on Operation Fast and Furious.
“First let me make something very clear, in response to an assertion you made, or hinted at: Nobody in the Justice Department has lied,” Holder said in response to accusations that he or his confidantes lied to Congress. “Nobody has lied.”
“Then why was the letter withdrawn?,” Sensenbrenner retorted, referring to a factually inaccurate letter one of Holder’s deputies, Assistant Attorney General Ronald Weich, sent to Iowa Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley on February 4. In that letter, Weich claimed that guns were never allowed to walk.
Holder and one of his other deputies, Assistant Attorney General Lanny Breuer have both admitted that statement was false in recent Senate hearings.
“The letter was withdrawn because there was information in there that was inaccurate,” Holder replied to Sensenbrenner’s question.
Fast and Furious was a Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives program overseen by the Justice Department. The operation facilitated the sale of thousands of weapons to Mexican drug cartels via straw purchasers. Straw purchasers are people who can legally purchase guns in the United States with the intention of illegally trafficking them into Mexico.
At least 300 people in Mexico were killed with Fast and Furious weapons, as was U.S. Border Patrol agent Brian Terry.

An intense struggle among several senior Justice Department officials was revealed Friday as internal documents on the gun-running Operation Fast and Furious were released by the department.

About 1,400 pages that had been demanded by Capitol Hill investigators were sent to three key congressional committees in advance of what is expected to be a contentious hearing next Thursday when Attorney General Eric Holder testifies on the subject.

The documents lift the veil on conflicting views among Justice Department executives, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), and the Arizona U.S. attorney’s office over whether and how to respond to allegations made in letters from Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa.

(CBS News)
WASHINGTON – Federal agent John Dodson says what he was asked to do was beyond belief.
He was intentionally letting guns go to Mexico?
“Yes ma’am,” Dodson told CBS News. “The agency was.”
An Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms senior agent assigned to the Phoenix office in 2010, Dodson’s job is to stop gun trafficking across the border. Instead, he says he was ordered to sit by and watch it happen.
Investigators call the tactic letting guns “walk.” In this case, walking into the hands of criminals who would use them in Mexico and the United States.
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/04/18/AR2009041800753.html

http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/guns/more/facts.html

https://www.ncjrs.gov/pdffiles1/bja/180752.pdf

http://nij.gov/nij/topics/crime/gun-violence/trafficking.htm

http://www.fas.org/asmp/campaigns/smallarms/IssueBrief3ArmsTrafficking.html

Uploaded by on Mar 11, 2011

http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2011/03/03/eveningnews/main20039031.shtml?tag=…

Transcript:
Federal agent John Dodson says what he was asked to do was beyond belief.

He was intentionally letting guns go to Mexico?

“Yes ma’am,” Dodson told CBS News. “The agency was.”

An Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms senior agent assigned to the Phoenix office in 2010, Dodson’s job is to stop gun trafficking across the border. Instead, he says he was ordered to sit by and watch it happen.

Investigators call the tactic letting guns “walk.” In this case, walking into the hands of criminals who would use them in Mexico and the United States.

Dodson’s bosses say that never happened. Now, he’s risking his job to go public.

“I’m boots on the ground in Phoenix, telling you we’ve been doing it every day since I’ve been here,” he said. “Here I am. Tell me I didn’t do the things that I did. Tell me you didn’t order me to do the things I did. Tell me it didn’t happen. Now you have a name on it. You have a face to put with it. Here I am. Someone now, tell me it didn’t happen.”

Agent Dodson and other sources say the gun walking strategy was approved all the way up to the Justice Department. The idea was to see where the guns ended up, build a big case and take down a cartel. And it was all kept secret from Mexico.

ATF named the case “Fast and Furious.”

Surveillance video obtained by CBS News shows suspected drug cartel suppliers carrying boxes of weapons to their cars at a Phoenix gun shop. The long boxes shown in the video being loaded in were AK-47-type assault rifles.

So it turns out ATF not only allowed it – they videotaped it.

Documents show the inevitable result: The guns that ATF let go began showing up at crime scenes in Mexico. And as ATF stood by watching thousands of weapons hit the streets… the Fast and Furious group supervisor noted the escalating Mexican violence.

One e-mail noted, “958 killed in March 2010 … most violent month since 2005.” The same e-mail notes: “Our subjects purchased 359 firearms during March alone,” including “numerous Barrett .50 caliber rifles.”

Dodson feels that ATF was partly to blame for the escalating violence in Mexico and on the border. “I even asked them if they could see the correlation between the two,” he said. “The more our guys buy, the more violence we’re having down there.”

Senior agents including Dodson told CBS News they confronted their supervisors over and over.

Their answer, according to Dodson, was, “If you’re going to make an omelette, you’ve got to break some eggs.”

There was so much opposition to the gun walking, that an ATF supervisor issued an e-mail noting a “schism” among the agents. “Whether you care or not people of rank and authority at HQ are paying close attention to this case…we are doing what they envisioned…. If you don’t think this is fun you’re in the wrong line of work… Maybe the Maricopa County jail is hiring detention officers and you can get $30,000 … to serve lunch to inmates…”

“We just knew it wasn’t going to end well. There’s just no way it could,” Dodson said.

pandillas en los Estados Unidos

México, DF.- Según un reporte del Buró Federal de Investigaciones (FBI), los cárteles de la droga de México tienen el control de cuatro de 10 pandillas en los Estados Unidos, o el 40 por ciento de alianzas con esas organizaciones delictivas.

El beneficio de estas alianzas entre pandilleros de EU y el crimen organizado nacional es económico principalmente, sin embargo, también se refleja en el control de zonas estratégicas para el trasiego de droga a los Estados Unidos.

Grupos como la “Mafia Mexicana” o el “Sindicato de Texas”, se han asociado con el Cártel del Golfo o Los Zetas, para ingresar armas o protección durante los envíos de droga a EU.

El informe asegura que a la fecha más de 20 mil miembros de las principales pandillas de Texas tiene relación con el crimen organizado.

México, DF.- Según un reporte del Buró Federal de Investigaciones (FBI), los cárteles de la droga de México tienen el control de cuatro de 10 pandillas en los Estados Unidos, o el 40 por ciento de alianzas con esas organizaciones delictivas.

El beneficio de estas alianzas entre pandilleros de EU y el crimen organizado nacional es económico principalmente, sin embargo, también se refleja en el control de zonas estratégicas para el trasiego de droga a los Estados Unidos.

Grupos como la “Mafia Mexicana” o el “Sindicato de Texas”, se han asociado con el Cártel del Golfo o Los Zetas, para ingresar armas o protección durante los envíos de droga a EU.

El informe asegura que a la fecha más de 20 mil miembros de las principales pandillas de Texas tiene relación con el crimen organizado.

We are the 99 per cent

WASHINGTON — The Federal Bureau of Investigation used counterterrorism agents to investigate the Occupy Wall Street movement, including its communications and planning, according to newly disclosed agency records.

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The F.B.I. records show that as early as September 2011, an agent from a counterterrorism task force in New York notified officials of two landmarks in Lower Manhattan — Federal Hall and the Museum of American Finance — “that their building was identified as a point of interest for the Occupy Wall Street.”
That was around the time that Occupy Wall Street activists set up a camp in Zuccotti Park in Lower Manhattan, spawning a protest movement across the United States that focused the nation’s attention on issues of income inequality.
In the following months, F.B.I. personnel around the country were routinely involved in exchanging information about the movement with businesses, local law-enforcement agencies and universities.
An October 2011 memo from the bureau’s Jacksonville, Fla., field office was titled Domain Program Management Domestic Terrorist.
The memo said agents discussed “past and upcoming meetings” of the movement, and its spread. It said agents should contact Occupy Wall Street activists to ascertain whether people who attended their events had “violent tendencies.”
The memo said that because of high rates of unemployment, “the movement was spreading throughout Florida and there were several Facebook pages dedicated to specific chapters based on geographical areas.”
The F.B.I. was concerned that the movement would provide “an outlet for a lone offender exploiting the movement for reasons associated with general government dissatisfaction.”
Since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, the F.B.I. has come under criticism for deploying counterterrorism agents to conduct surveillance and gather intelligence on organizations active in environmental, animal-cruelty and poverty issues.
The disclosure of the F.B.I. records comes a little more than a year after the police ousted protesters from Zuccotti Park in November 2011. Law-enforcement agencies undertook similar actions around the country against Occupy Wall Street groups.
Occupy Wall Street has lost much of its visibility since then, but questions remain about how local and federal law-enforcement officials monitored and treated the protesters.
The records were obtained by the Partnership for Civil Justice Fund, a civil-rights organization in Washington, through a Freedom of Information request to the F.B.I. Many parts of the documents were redacted by the bureau.
The records provide one of the first glimpses into how deeply involved federal law-enforcement authorities were in monitoring the activities of the movement, which is sometimes described in extreme terms.
For example, according to a memo written by the F.B.I.’s New York field office in August 2011, bureau personnel met with officials from the New York Stock Exchange to discuss “the planned Anarchist protest titled ‘Occupy Wall Street,’ scheduled for September 17, 2011.”
“The protest appears on Anarchist Web sites and social network pages on the Internet,” the memo said.
It added: “Numerous incidents have occurred in the past which show attempts by Anarchist groups to disrupt, influence, and or shut down normal business operations of financial districts.”
A spokesman for the F.B.I. in Washington cautioned against “drawing conclusions from redacted” documents.
“The F.B.I. recognizes the rights of individuals and groups to engage in constitutionally protected activity,” said the spokesman, Paul Bresson. “While the F.B.I. is obligated to thoroughly investigate any serious allegations involving threats of violence, we do not open investigations based solely on First Amendment activity. In fact, the Department of Justice and the F.B.I.’s own internal guidelines on domestic operations strictly forbid that.”
But Mara Verheyden-Hilliard, executive director of the Partnership for Civil Justice Fund, said the documents demonstrated that the F.B.I. had acted improperly by gathering information on Americans involved in lawful activities.
“The collection of information on people’s free-speech actions is being entered into unregulated databases, a vast storehouse of information widely disseminated to a range of law-enforcement and, apparently, private entities,” she said. “This is precisely the threat — people do not know when or how it may be used and in what manner.”
The records show little evidence that the members of the movement planned to commit violence. But they do describe a discussion on the Internet “regarding the Occupy Wall Street movement about when it is okay to shoot a police officer” and a law-enforcement meeting held in Des Moines because “there may potentially be an attempt to stop the Iowa Caucuses by people involved in Occupy Iowa.”
There are no references within the documents to agency personnel covertly infiltrating Occupy branches.
The documents indicate, however, that the F.B.I. obtained information from police departments and other law-enforcement agencies that appear to have been gathered by someone observing the protesters as they planned activities.
The documents do not detail recent activities by the F.B.I. involving Occupy Wall Street.
But one activist, Billy Livsey, 48, said two F.B.I. agents visited him in Brooklyn over the summer to question him about planned protests at the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Fla., and about plans to celebrate the first anniversary of Occupy Wall Street in September.
The agents, Mr. Livsey said, told him they knew he was among a group of people involved in the Occupy Wall Street “direct action” group that distributed information about the movement’s activities.
He said he felt unnerved by the visit.
“It was surprising and troubling to me,” Mr. Livsey said.


Occupy Wall Street activists returned to Zuccotti Park on Thursday to protest trespassing charges against activists who were arrested at New York’s Trinity Church on December 17. The protesters had scaled a fence onto church-owned property after Trinity refused to give them sanctuary following their eviction from Zuccotti at the time. Thursday’s rally was held as part of a campaign to pressure Trinity to drop cooperation with prosecutors ahead of the protesters’ trial next week. A group of New York pastors led a prayer vigil in support.

Rev. Rosemary Bray McNatt: “I must take issue with Trinity Church today. I must take issue with their desire to prosecute people for acting in a way that churches and houses of worship [have] acted for centuries. I must take issue with those people, for whatever reason, who have decided that prosecution of free speech and prosecution in the service of human life and human flourishing is a good idea.”

Also speaking at the event on Thursday was the priest, poet and activist, Father Daniel Berrigan.

Father Daniel Berrigan: “Real estate is real when it is in service to the common good. And when people are being served by the real estate, it becomes real once more. We are witnessing, in the case of Trinity, the unreality of real estate out of all control, which is to say, the real estate is growing unreal by playing God, by the way in which it’s trying to be in charge — and failing utterly. One way of putting our project today is to say, we are here to restore the reality to real estate.”


The Occupation of Wall Street, which has successfully and peacefully resisted an eviction attempt by New York police by sheer weight of numbers, has inspired similar occupations across the United States and across the world.

A demonstration which began with a handful of protesters getting pepper-sprayed on the pavements of Manhattan’s financial district has mushroomed into a national phenomenon, with labour unions rushing to offer solidarity and high-profile supporters lending advice and assistance.

After a year of police violence and savage crackdowns on protest across Europe, the injection of energy from across the Atlantic is more than welcome.

There are good reasons to be watching what’s happening in Lower Manhattan right now. The idea of Wall Street as the heart of a global financial system whose collapse threatens the future of human civilisation is as important as the space itself, and while this is no Tahrir Square – the occupiers are hardly storming the skyscrapers above them – the brash symbolism of the protest is hard to ignore.

At the demonstration on London’s Westminster bridge last weekend, I was handed flyers reading “We are the 99 per cent”. As Britain gears up for a fresh wave of student demonstrations beginning on November 9, the mantra of the Occupy America movement, somewhere between an cry of rage and a threat, has begun to resonate around the world.

What does it mean?

As a slogan, “We are the 99 per cent” is inclusive to the point of inarticulacy. It is neither a demand nor an ideology, simply a statement of numbers. While intended to set the majority of ordinary citizens against the elite “one per cent” who, it is alleged, own and control most of the world’s wealth, the slogan has been criticised for its formlessness: Does it mean: “We are the 99 per cent, and we’re here to take back the money you stole?” Does it mean: ”We are the 99 per cent, and we will be pleased to serve you dinner whilst you confiscate our homes?” Does it simply mean “we are the 99 percent, and we’re screwed?”

It means none of these things: The slogan is a statistic, a simple statement of majority. “We are the 99 per cent,” it says. “Why aren’t we represented?”

At their heart, these protests are about democracy. They are about the crisis of representative democracy taking place across the world, as party politics consistently places the interests of business above the interests of society.

Police in New York have arrested about 70 people, as Occupy Wall Street protesters moved to Times Square.
Forty-five were detained in the square, with another 24 held for alleged trespassing at a branch of Citibank in Washington Square Park.
The protests came on a day of worldwide protests against austerity and what protesters call corporate greed.
At least 70 people were injured after a peaceful rally in the Italian capital Rome descended into street battles.
Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi called the violence a “worrying signal” and said the perpetrators “must be found and punished”.
Rome Mayor Gianni Alemanno blamed the violence on “a few thousand thugs from all over Italy, and possibly from all over Europe, who infiltrated the demonstration”.

Series of rallies

Organisers of the New York march from Zannotti Park in Lower Manhattan to Times Square said about 5,000 people took part.
Police arrest woman in Times Square 15 October 2011Polilce made 45 arrests in Times Square alone
Protesters chanted: “We got sold out, banks got bailed out” and “All day, all week, occupy Wall Street.”
There were also protests in a number of other US cities, including 5,000 people who rallied outside City Hall in Los Angeles and 2,000 who marched in Pittsburgh.
The New York protests began on 17 September with a small group of activists and have swelled to include several thousand people at times, from many walks of life.

Festive

The Rome protests began when tens of thousands of people gathered under anti-austerity banners, close to the ruins of the Colosseum.
However militants dressed in black, some of them wearing balaclavas and crash helmets, soon appeared in the crowd and began attacking property.
Cars were burnt, and cash dispensers, banks and shops were attacked, with windows smashed.
A huge rally in Madrid had a more festive atmosphere.
Tens of thousands of people filled the Puerta del Sol Square on Saturday evening, the BBC’s Sarah Rainsford reports from the Spanish capital.
Rally in Madrid's Puerta del Sol 15 October 2011Madrid was one of several European cities to see large-scale protests on Saturday
People of all ages, from pensioners to children, and many of the young unemployed, filled the square, where the “Indignant” movement was launched in May.
In Portugal, 20,000 marched in Lisbon and a similar number in Oporto.
In Greece, about 2,000 people rallied outside parliament in Athens and a similar number reportedly turned out in the second city, Thessaloniki.
At least 1,000 people demonstrated in London’s financial district but were prevented by police from reaching the Stock Exchange, and five arrests were made.
About 500 protesters spent the night camped outside St Paul’s cathedral
Protests were also held in a number of cities across Asia.

This morning may turn out to be the “Millbank moment” for the “Occupy America” movement. When union activists arrived to swell the numbers defending Liberty Plaza, prompting the city authorities to back down from their planned eviction, reports from the occupation were wild with triumphant energy, and the chanting of: “All day, all week, occupy Wall Street!” is probably still going on right now. What I saw and heard in Liberty Plaza when I visited was the same shocked excitement I saw in London almost a year ago, when student demonstrators smashed into the headquarters of the party in government at Millbank: It was young people who have spent their entire lives feeling powerless and alienated suddenly realising that, with enough numbers and enough courage, they can be unstoppable, that they can take on the edifices of power and win, at least for a little while. The difference is that New Yorkers have achieved this without breaking a single window. The scrupulous non-violence of the Occupy America movement leaves the right-wing press unable to tell a simple story about “feral kids kicking off against the cops”: Instead, the images that have been broadcast around the world are of New York police pepper-spraying young women in the face and peaceful protesters being beaten away from Wall Street while chanting the First Amendment in chorus. On the morning of Friday, October 14, hundreds of thousands watched online as the authorities failed to remove the ordinary, indignant people of the United States from Liberty Plaza. When Americans do symbolic protest, they do it utterly without irony. In one way or another, we are all standing in the shadow of Wall Street. The dignified defiance of the New York occupation has inspired the world, and may yet provide some relief for the weary fighters on the European front of what looks set to be a long and punishing fight against austerity and state repression. The question now, for the occupiers and for everyone else is: What will the 99 per cent do next?

http://www.secaucusnewjersey.org/protesters-marched-to-0ccupy-wall-street-10453.html

Protesters Marched To Wall Street

Protesters of about hundreds of people marched to Wall Street in New York on Saturday to protest greed, corruption and budget cuts. The protesters despite negotiations would still descend to the heart of the global finance to air its grievances. Protesters had planned to stake out Wall Street until their anger over a financial system they say favors the rich and powerful was heard.

Police Blocked Streets But Protesters Went Through

The police blocked all the streets near the New York Stock Exchange and Federal Hall in LowerManhattan long before the protesters arrived. But the planned protest of Wall Street today was partially thwarted by a police shutdown of nearby streets in New York City. As it turned out, the demonstrators found much of their target off limits on Saturday as the city shut down sections of Wall Street near the New York Stock Exchange and Federal Hall well before their arrival.

The Aim Of The Protest

According to Bloomberg News, about 1,000 protesters were on site at the start of the protest and a lot more joined in. By noon, many protesters were carrying backpacks and sleeping bags, had gathered near Wall Street to search for a place to camp amid a heavy police presence. The aim of the protest was to get President Obama to establish a commission to end “the influence money has over our represenatives in Washington,” according to the website of Adbusters, a group promoting the event. The protest came as the United States struggles to overcome an economic crisis marked by a huge budget deficit that has triggered cuts in the public service sector while unemployment hovers stubbornly above nine percent.

Protest Was Organized Online & On Twitter

The Next Great Generation blog said the “Occupy Wall Street” protest was “organized online and on Twitter.” “People have a right to protest, and if they want to protest, we’ll be happy to make sure they have locations to do it,” New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg said Sept. 15 at a press conference. “As long as they do it where other people’s rights are respected, this is the place where people can speak their minds, and that’s what makes New York, New York.”

In this article you learned that protesters of about hundreds of people marched to Wall Street in New York on Saturday to protest greed, corruption and budget cuts. The protest came as the United States struggles to overcome an economic crisis marked by a huge budget deficit that has triggered cuts in the public service sector while unemployment hovers stubbornly above nine percent.

WASHINGTON — The Federal Bureau of Investigation used counterterrorism agents to investigate the Occupy Wall Street movement, including its communications and planning, according to newly disclosed agency records.

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The F.B.I. records show that as early as September 2011, an agent from a counterterrorism task force in New York notified officials of two landmarks in Lower Manhattan — Federal Hall and the Museum of American Finance — “that their building was identified as a point of interest for the Occupy Wall Street.”
That was around the time that Occupy Wall Street activists set up a camp in Zuccotti Park in Lower Manhattan, spawning a protest movement across the United States that focused the nation’s attention on issues of income inequality.
In the following months, F.B.I. personnel around the country were routinely involved in exchanging information about the movement with businesses, local law-enforcement agencies and universities.
An October 2011 memo from the bureau’s Jacksonville, Fla., field office was titled Domain Program Management Domestic Terrorist.
The memo said agents discussed “past and upcoming meetings” of the movement, and its spread. It said agents should contact Occupy Wall Street activists to ascertain whether people who attended their events had “violent tendencies.”
The memo said that because of high rates of unemployment, “the movement was spreading throughout Florida and there were several Facebook pages dedicated to specific chapters based on geographical areas.”
The F.B.I. was concerned that the movement would provide “an outlet for a lone offender exploiting the movement for reasons associated with general government dissatisfaction.”
Since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, the F.B.I. has come under criticism for deploying counterterrorism agents to conduct surveillance and gather intelligence on organizations active in environmental, animal-cruelty and poverty issues.
The disclosure of the F.B.I. records comes a little more than a year after the police ousted protesters from Zuccotti Park in November 2011. Law-enforcement agencies undertook similar actions around the country against Occupy Wall Street groups.
Occupy Wall Street has lost much of its visibility since then, but questions remain about how local and federal law-enforcement officials monitored and treated the protesters.
The records were obtained by the Partnership for Civil Justice Fund, a civil-rights organization in Washington, through a Freedom of Information request to the F.B.I. Many parts of the documents were redacted by the bureau.
The records provide one of the first glimpses into how deeply involved federal law-enforcement authorities were in monitoring the activities of the movement, which is sometimes described in extreme terms.
For example, according to a memo written by the F.B.I.’s New York field office in August 2011, bureau personnel met with officials from the New York Stock Exchange to discuss “the planned Anarchist protest titled ‘Occupy Wall Street,’ scheduled for September 17, 2011.”
“The protest appears on Anarchist Web sites and social network pages on the Internet,” the memo said.
It added: “Numerous incidents have occurred in the past which show attempts by Anarchist groups to disrupt, influence, and or shut down normal business operations of financial districts.”
A spokesman for the F.B.I. in Washington cautioned against “drawing conclusions from redacted” documents.
“The F.B.I. recognizes the rights of individuals and groups to engage in constitutionally protected activity,” said the spokesman, Paul Bresson. “While the F.B.I. is obligated to thoroughly investigate any serious allegations involving threats of violence, we do not open investigations based solely on First Amendment activity. In fact, the Department of Justice and the F.B.I.’s own internal guidelines on domestic operations strictly forbid that.”
But Mara Verheyden-Hilliard, executive director of the Partnership for Civil Justice Fund, said the documents demonstrated that the F.B.I. had acted improperly by gathering information on Americans involved in lawful activities.
“The collection of information on people’s free-speech actions is being entered into unregulated databases, a vast storehouse of information widely disseminated to a range of law-enforcement and, apparently, private entities,” she said. “This is precisely the threat — people do not know when or how it may be used and in what manner.”
The records show little evidence that the members of the movement planned to commit violence. But they do describe a discussion on the Internet “regarding the Occupy Wall Street movement about when it is okay to shoot a police officer” and a law-enforcement meeting held in Des Moines because “there may potentially be an attempt to stop the Iowa Caucuses by people involved in Occupy Iowa.”
There are no references within the documents to agency personnel covertly infiltrating Occupy branches.
The documents indicate, however, that the F.B.I. obtained information from police departments and other law-enforcement agencies that appear to have been gathered by someone observing the protesters as they planned activities.
The documents do not detail recent activities by the F.B.I. involving Occupy Wall Street.
But one activist, Billy Livsey, 48, said two F.B.I. agents visited him in Brooklyn over the summer to question him about planned protests at the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Fla., and about plans to celebrate the first anniversary of Occupy Wall Street in September.
The agents, Mr. Livsey said, told him they knew he was among a group of people involved in the Occupy Wall Street “direct action” group that distributed information about the movement’s activities.
He said he felt unnerved by the visit.
“It was surprising and troubling to me,” Mr. Livsey said.


Occupy Wall Street activists returned to Zuccotti Park on Thursday to protest trespassing charges against activists who were arrested at New York’s Trinity Church on December 17. The protesters had scaled a fence onto church-owned property after Trinity refused to give them sanctuary following their eviction from Zuccotti at the time. Thursday’s rally was held as part of a campaign to pressure Trinity to drop cooperation with prosecutors ahead of the protesters’ trial next week. A group of New York pastors led a prayer vigil in support.

Rev. Rosemary Bray McNatt: “I must take issue with Trinity Church today. I must take issue with their desire to prosecute people for acting in a way that churches and houses of worship [have] acted for centuries. I must take issue with those people, for whatever reason, who have decided that prosecution of free speech and prosecution in the service of human life and human flourishing is a good idea.”

Also speaking at the event on Thursday was the priest, poet and activist, Father Daniel Berrigan.

Father Daniel Berrigan: “Real estate is real when it is in service to the common good. And when people are being served by the real estate, it becomes real once more. We are witnessing, in the case of Trinity, the unreality of real estate out of all control, which is to say, the real estate is growing unreal by playing God, by the way in which it’s trying to be in charge — and failing utterly. One way of putting our project today is to say, we are here to restore the reality to real estate.”


The Occupation of Wall Street, which has successfully and peacefully resisted an eviction attempt by New York police by sheer weight of numbers, has inspired similar occupations across the United States and across the world.

A demonstration which began with a handful of protesters getting pepper-sprayed on the pavements of Manhattan’s financial district has mushroomed into a national phenomenon, with labour unions rushing to offer solidarity and high-profile supporters lending advice and assistance.

After a year of police violence and savage crackdowns on protest across Europe, the injection of energy from across the Atlantic is more than welcome.

There are good reasons to be watching what’s happening in Lower Manhattan right now. The idea of Wall Street as the heart of a global financial system whose collapse threatens the future of human civilisation is as important as the space itself, and while this is no Tahrir Square – the occupiers are hardly storming the skyscrapers above them – the brash symbolism of the protest is hard to ignore.

At the demonstration on London’s Westminster bridge last weekend, I was handed flyers reading “We are the 99 per cent”. As Britain gears up for a fresh wave of student demonstrations beginning on November 9, the mantra of the Occupy America movement, somewhere between an cry of rage and a threat, has begun to resonate around the world.

What does it mean?

As a slogan, “We are the 99 per cent” is inclusive to the point of inarticulacy. It is neither a demand nor an ideology, simply a statement of numbers. While intended to set the majority of ordinary citizens against the elite “one per cent” who, it is alleged, own and control most of the world’s wealth, the slogan has been criticised for its formlessness: Does it mean: “We are the 99 per cent, and we’re here to take back the money you stole?” Does it mean: ”We are the 99 per cent, and we will be pleased to serve you dinner whilst you confiscate our homes?” Does it simply mean “we are the 99 percent, and we’re screwed?”

It means none of these things: The slogan is a statistic, a simple statement of majority. “We are the 99 per cent,” it says. “Why aren’t we represented?”

At their heart, these protests are about democracy. They are about the crisis of representative democracy taking place across the world, as party politics consistently places the interests of business above the interests of society.

Police in New York have arrested about 70 people, as Occupy Wall Street protesters moved to Times Square.
Forty-five were detained in the square, with another 24 held for alleged trespassing at a branch of Citibank in Washington Square Park.
The protests came on a day of worldwide protests against austerity and what protesters call corporate greed.
At least 70 people were injured after a peaceful rally in the Italian capital Rome descended into street battles.
Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi called the violence a “worrying signal” and said the perpetrators “must be found and punished”.
Rome Mayor Gianni Alemanno blamed the violence on “a few thousand thugs from all over Italy, and possibly from all over Europe, who infiltrated the demonstration”.

Series of rallies

Organisers of the New York march from Zannotti Park in Lower Manhattan to Times Square said about 5,000 people took part.
Police arrest woman in Times Square 15 October 2011Polilce made 45 arrests in Times Square alone
Protesters chanted: “We got sold out, banks got bailed out” and “All day, all week, occupy Wall Street.”
There were also protests in a number of other US cities, including 5,000 people who rallied outside City Hall in Los Angeles and 2,000 who marched in Pittsburgh.
The New York protests began on 17 September with a small group of activists and have swelled to include several thousand people at times, from many walks of life.

Festive

The Rome protests began when tens of thousands of people gathered under anti-austerity banners, close to the ruins of the Colosseum.
However militants dressed in black, some of them wearing balaclavas and crash helmets, soon appeared in the crowd and began attacking property.
Cars were burnt, and cash dispensers, banks and shops were attacked, with windows smashed.
A huge rally in Madrid had a more festive atmosphere.
Tens of thousands of people filled the Puerta del Sol Square on Saturday evening, the BBC’s Sarah Rainsford reports from the Spanish capital.
Rally in Madrid's Puerta del Sol 15 October 2011Madrid was one of several European cities to see large-scale protests on Saturday
People of all ages, from pensioners to children, and many of the young unemployed, filled the square, where the “Indignant” movement was launched in May.
In Portugal, 20,000 marched in Lisbon and a similar number in Oporto.
In Greece, about 2,000 people rallied outside parliament in Athens and a similar number reportedly turned out in the second city, Thessaloniki.
At least 1,000 people demonstrated in London’s financial district but were prevented by police from reaching the Stock Exchange, and five arrests were made.
About 500 protesters spent the night camped outside St Paul’s cathedral
Protests were also held in a number of cities across Asia.

This morning may turn out to be the “Millbank moment” for the “Occupy America” movement. When union activists arrived to swell the numbers defending Liberty Plaza, prompting the city authorities to back down from their planned eviction, reports from the occupation were wild with triumphant energy, and the chanting of: “All day, all week, occupy Wall Street!” is probably still going on right now. What I saw and heard in Liberty Plaza when I visited was the same shocked excitement I saw in London almost a year ago, when student demonstrators smashed into the headquarters of the party in government at Millbank: It was young people who have spent their entire lives feeling powerless and alienated suddenly realising that, with enough numbers and enough courage, they can be unstoppable, that they can take on the edifices of power and win, at least for a little while. The difference is that New Yorkers have achieved this without breaking a single window. The scrupulous non-violence of the Occupy America movement leaves the right-wing press unable to tell a simple story about “feral kids kicking off against the cops”: Instead, the images that have been broadcast around the world are of New York police pepper-spraying young women in the face and peaceful protesters being beaten away from Wall Street while chanting the First Amendment in chorus. On the morning of Friday, October 14, hundreds of thousands watched online as the authorities failed to remove the ordinary, indignant people of the United States from Liberty Plaza. When Americans do symbolic protest, they do it utterly without irony. In one way or another, we are all standing in the shadow of Wall Street. The dignified defiance of the New York occupation has inspired the world, and may yet provide some relief for the weary fighters on the European front of what looks set to be a long and punishing fight against austerity and state repression. The question now, for the occupiers and for everyone else is: What will the 99 per cent do next?

http://www.secaucusnewjersey.org/protesters-marched-to-0ccupy-wall-street-10453.html

Protesters Marched To Wall Street

Protesters of about hundreds of people marched to Wall Street in New York on Saturday to protest greed, corruption and budget cuts. The protesters despite negotiations would still descend to the heart of the global finance to air its grievances. Protesters had planned to stake out Wall Street until their anger over a financial system they say favors the rich and powerful was heard.

Police Blocked Streets But Protesters Went Through

The police blocked all the streets near the New York Stock Exchange and Federal Hall in LowerManhattan long before the protesters arrived. But the planned protest of Wall Street today was partially thwarted by a police shutdown of nearby streets in New York City. As it turned out, the demonstrators found much of their target off limits on Saturday as the city shut down sections of Wall Street near the New York Stock Exchange and Federal Hall well before their arrival.

The Aim Of The Protest

According to Bloomberg News, about 1,000 protesters were on site at the start of the protest and a lot more joined in. By noon, many protesters were carrying backpacks and sleeping bags, had gathered near Wall Street to search for a place to camp amid a heavy police presence. The aim of the protest was to get President Obama to establish a commission to end “the influence money has over our represenatives in Washington,” according to the website of Adbusters, a group promoting the event. The protest came as the United States struggles to overcome an economic crisis marked by a huge budget deficit that has triggered cuts in the public service sector while unemployment hovers stubbornly above nine percent.

Protest Was Organized Online & On Twitter

The Next Great Generation blog said the “Occupy Wall Street” protest was “organized online and on Twitter.” “People have a right to protest, and if they want to protest, we’ll be happy to make sure they have locations to do it,” New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg said Sept. 15 at a press conference. “As long as they do it where other people’s rights are respected, this is the place where people can speak their minds, and that’s what makes New York, New York.”

In this article you learned that protesters of about hundreds of people marched to Wall Street in New York on Saturday to protest greed, corruption and budget cuts. The protest came as the United States struggles to overcome an economic crisis marked by a huge budget deficit that has triggered cuts in the public service sector while unemployment hovers stubbornly above nine percent.