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Few Americans understand what or who “Al Qaeda” is or is not, especially since they have, of recent, become America’s ally against the government of Syria. No one is surprised at the Manning verdict, but many around the world are disgusted by it, particularly those who have tired of America’s hypocrisy.Only two weeks ago, the US government ordered the defacto release of Dr. Aafia Siddiqui, in a prisoner swap with Pakistan. She had been considered one of the world’s most dangerous terrorists. Both Siddiqui and Manning had suffered years of torture before their tribunals, the end result long predetermined. Questions we won’t see asked, not in the American press certainly, is how a nation whose former leaders stand indicted around the world for capital offenses, war crimes of every description, can still consider “show trials” such as that Bradley Manning was subjected to as “justice?” Who or whatever Edward Snowden is, heroic whistleblower or “Assange-like” showman and distraction, one thing for certain, no nation on earth, not Russia, not anyone, can every deliver anyone to the United States for trial and call it anything but “rendition” or kidnapping.Since Edward Snowden allegedly revealed secret practices of the National Security Agency (NSA), the US has been loudly proclaiming that he should be returned to the US to stand trial. They constantly reference the “Rule of Law” as their basis. They have sought his return from the Moscow airport where he is supposed to currently reside. This despite the fact that the US and Russia do not have an extradition treaty in place. They have gone as far as to offer a sort of plea deal to Russia that if he is returned, the US promises not to seek the death penalty in his trial. (Note – Since this was written, Russia has announced that it is granting asylum to Edward Snowden. This has elicited a very strong condemnation from the US government)
The United States would have a more credible position if they did not routinely violate international law and ignore extradition requests from countries that do have extradition treaties with them. In 2002, President George W. Bush announced that The United States was withdrawing from the international treaty that set up The International Criminal Court (ICC) even though the treaty had been signed in 2000 by then president Bill Clinton. This withdrawal infuriated world leaders that believed that the US was taking this action because it feared that its leaders and soldiers would be subject to prosecution as war criminals if the US accepted the treaty.At that time, the Washington Working Group on the ICC, a group of organizations supporting the court, said withdrawing from the treaty was a “rash action signaling to the world that America is turning its back on decades of US leadership in prosecuting war criminals since the Nuremberg trials.” Judge Richard Goldstone, the first chief prosecutor at The Hague war crimes tribunal on the former Yugoslavia, stated:
Shortly after removing itself from the ICC, the US made a pre-emptive strike on Iraq; this, despite the fact that Iraq posed no threat to the United States.
During the following ten years, it has been alleged that the US used illegal weapons and tactics in the war, including the probable use of small-scale “tactical” nuclear weapons. Evidence of their use has recently surfaced largely due to the work of Dr. Chris Busby. After many years of dealing with red tape, Dr. Busby went to the Fallujah region of Iraq to research the effects of depleted uranium use.
What he found was that that fertility had been suppressed and the region was plagued with the onslaught of horrific birth defects. His hypothesis was that this was caused by the use of depleted uranium but he found that samples taken from the local population indicated that it wasn’t just depleted uranium but pure, weapons-grade U-235 that was used in the area.
The use of nuclear weapons is strongly prohibited by international law except in defending against a nuclear attack, and those ordering or carrying out such an attack would be subject to prosecution as war criminals.
Recently, President Obama has re-joined the ICC, but lately the cases that they are handling appear to be rigged to support war criminals rather than punish them. Low level crimes and small players are being brought before the court on flimsy evidence and are being found not guilty. Precedents are being set, so that when the real criminals are brought before the court, they will also be found not guilty. This is intended to create an acceptance of the martial law that is on the horizon in the west. There have been several arrest warrants issued for members of the Bush administration, but no one really expects them to be acted upon.
The flouting of international law by the US is not limited to high level officials. In 2003, suspected terrorist Osama Moustafa Hassan Nasr was kidnapped off a street in Milan, Italy. He was thrown into a van and subjected to rendition, first by a secret CIA “black site,” and later by Egyptian police, who, he says, tortured him for the US. Nasr was released four years later, after an Egyptian court ruled that he was not guilty of anything.
Robert Seldon Lady, who at that time was the CIA station chief in Rome, Italy, along with 21 other CIA operatives, were indicted by the Italian courts. They asked for the accused to be extradited by the US to stand trial. Despite the long-time mutual extradition treaty between the US and Italy, the request was ignored.
The Italians were forced to try them in absentia. Lady, as station chief and mastermind of the kidnapping, was found guilty along with 13 others (eight men were acquitted) and was sentenced, also in absentia, to nine years in prison.
Following his sentencing, Italy obtained an international warrant for his arrest and sought to have him extradited by the US to accept his punishment, but the US refused.
In an interview in GQ magazine in 2007, Lady himself virtually admitted his guilt by saying:
Lady seemed to vanish following his conviction, and was thought to be hiding out in Central America. He was arrested in Panama two weeks ago on an international fugitive warrant. At that point, Italy made clear that it was seeking his extradition, but on July 19, Lady was allowed to escape to the United States, which has no intention of returning him to Italy. Since the US has great influence in Panama, it is almost certain that they applied the necessary pressure for his “accidental” escape.
The US has clearly thumbed its nose at international law in this case. Documents leaked in 2010 by the US Department of Defense show that Defense Secretary Robert Gates had secretly worked with then Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, to have the CIA agents’ case dropped, with Berlusconi promising to “do what he could,” and complaining that the Italian courts were run by “a bunch of leftists.”
Berlusconi has recently been tried and convicted of corruption in a tax-evasion case and he has been sentenced to four years in prison. More recently, he was also tried and convicted of sex with an underage girl, and was sentenced to an additional seven years in prison.
When Snowden went public with his allegations that the NSA is spying on the electronic communications of all Americans, and on hundreds of millions of other people around the world, including US allies, the Obama administration began attempting to coerce countries of Europe, Asia and especially Latin America, to not grant him asylum. Even Russia, where Snowden is currently holed up because the US has cancelled his US passport, has been threatened and pressured to keep them from granting him even temporary asylum. The US position is that other nations of the world must “follow the rule of law,” and hand Snowden over to the US for prosecution.
Snowden and his attorneys have pointed out, it is a right under international law to seek humanitarian asylum. That doesn’t matter to the US, though. They are strongly warning all countries that those who offer Snowden asylum, or even safe passage, will “pay a price” not just immediately but “for years to come.”
The Obama administration, like the Bush/Cheney administration before it, clearly considers that the rule of law only applies to the weak and the poor. The administration makes it clear that international law doesn’t apply to the US.
Massive U.S. spying programs are not about national security but are aimed at identifying “political dissidents, veterans” and “constitutionalists,” says James Henry Fetzer, an editor at Veterans Today. On Sunday, Glenn Greenwald, the Guardian reporter who first broke the news of U.S. surveillance programs based on American whistleblower Edward Snowden’s documents, said Snowden had sensitive “blueprints” containing information on how the U.S. National Security Agency runs its operations. According to Greenwald, Snowden has thousands of documents which are basically the instruction manual for how the NSA conducts spying.
“The information about the methods of collecting information by the NSA is its most closely guarded secret. It’s not surprising that they would be paranoid about its possible release,” said Fetzer in a phone interview with Press TV’s U.S. Desk on Monday.
“It [the U.S. spying program] is intended not for national security but to protect the national security state,” added Fetzer. Snowden has blown the lid on massive surveillance by the U.S. National Security Agency including a major spying program, codenamed PRISM, for tracking the use of U.S.-based web servers by American citizens and other nationals. Documents revealed by Snowden have also shown that the U.S. spied on European Union representations, ordinary European citizens, and companies and individuals in Latin America.
“The NSA has been violating the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. Snowden has been upholding his oath of allegiance to the Constitution which even members of the United States Senate and the president himself have been failing to do,” Fetzer pointed out.
The primary business model of the Internet is built on mass surveillance, and our government’s intelligence-gathering agencies have become addicted to that data. Understanding how we got here is critical to understanding how we undo the damage.
Computers and networks inherently produce data, and our constant interactions with them allow corporations to collect an enormous amount of intensely personal data about us as we go about our daily lives. Sometimes we produce this data inadvertently simply by using our phones, credit cards, computers and other devices. Sometimes we give corporations this data directly on Google, Facebook, Apple Inc.’s iCloud and so on in exchange for whatever free or cheap service we receive from the Internet in return.
The NSA is also in the business of spying on everyone, and it has realized it’s far easier to collect all the data from these corporations rather than from us directly. In some cases, the NSA asks for this data nicely. In other cases, it makes use of subtle threats or overt pressure. If that doesn’t work, it uses tools like national security letters.
The result is a corporate-government surveillance partnership, one that allows both the government and corporations to get away with things they couldn’t otherwise.
There are two types of laws in the U.S., each designed to constrain a different type of power: constitutional law, which places limitations on government, and regulatory law, which constrains corporations. Historically, these two areas have largely remained separate, but today each group has learned how to use the other’s laws to bypass their own restrictions. The government uses corporations to get around its limits, and corporations use the government to get around their limits.
This partnership manifests itself in various ways. The government uses corporations to circumvent its prohibitions against eavesdropping domestically on its citizens. Corporations rely on the government to ensure that they have unfettered use of the data they collect.
Here’s an example: It would be reasonable for our government to debate the circumstances under which corporations can collect and use our data, and to provide for protections against misuse. But if the government is using that very data for its own surveillance purposes, it has an incentive to oppose any laws to limit data collection. And because corporations see no need to give consumers any choice in this matter — because it would only reduce their profits — the market isn’t going to protect consumers, either.
Our elected officials are often supported, endorsed and funded by these corporations as well, setting up an incestuous relationship between corporations, lawmakers and the intelligence community.
The losers are us, the people, who are left with no one to stand up for our interests. Our elected government, which is supposed to be responsible to us, is not. And corporations, which in a market economy are supposed to be responsive to our needs, are not. What we have now is death to privacy — and that’s very dangerous to democracy and liberty.
The simple answer is to blame consumers, who shouldn’t use mobile phones, credit cards, banks or the Internet if they don’t want to be tracked. But that argument deliberately ignores the reality of today’s world. Everything we do involves computers, even if we’re not using them directly. And by their nature, computers produce tracking data. We can’t go back to a world where we don’t use computers, the Internet or social networking. We have no choice but to share our personal information with these corporations, because that’s how our world works today.
Curbing the power of the corporate-private surveillance partnership requires limitations on both what corporations can do with the data we choose to give them and restrictions on how and when the government can demand access to that data. Because both of these changes go against the interests of corporations and the government, we have to demand them as citizens and voters. We can lobby our government to operate more transparently — disclosing the opinions of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court would be a good start — and hold our lawmakers accountable when it doesn’t. But it’s not going to be easy. There are strong interests doing their best to ensure that the steady stream of data keeps flowing.
US to other countries: Do as I say, not as I do
Edward Snowden, NSA Whistleblower: GO TO guardian.co.uk read the whole article THERE. Edward Snowden, a 29-year-old former employee of the CIA who has spent the last four years working with the NSA in conjunction with various defense contractors.
An American philosopher says massive spying programs by the United States government shows that a “Stalinist Soviet Union” is coming to America.
“The real deal what’s actually going on here is a massive surveillance of the American people to determine who in the population might pose a threat not to national security, but to the national security state”, James Fetzer said in a phone interview with Press TV’s U.S. Desk on Tuesday.
“They are identifying and classifying individuals and groups who are veterans because they know how to use weapons, constitutionalists because they believe in the law, 9/11 truthers because they know the government is lying to them, people who support Ron Paul and or even Rand Paul or any other group that might potentially resist the imposition of a fascistic police state dominated by the Department of Homeland Security”, he explained.
Fetzer made the remarks after President Barack Obama once again defended the National Security Agency’s collection of phone and other electronic records of American people, calling the program “transparent”.
“The real story behind the NSA spying scandal is far deeper and more profound than the American people or the world has begun to appreciate. Ostensibly on its face the assumption what they made that what is going on is that the NSA is searching for threats that individuals might pose to the national security of the United States by performing terrorist acts”, the analyst said.
He concluded that however there are “zero” domestic terrorist activities in the country except those staging by the government.
Even the claim by General Alexander, the head of the NSA, that this program had foiled 50 terrorist plots appears to be hokum. Ron Paul, for example, explained that it was an ad hoc exaggeration and that it included some 40 trivial events that were alleged to have occurred not in the United States but abroad and a story of an attempt to blow up Wall Street that has all the signs of another FBI fabricated event.
So the existence of a bona-fide domestic terrorist threat appears to be a cover-story to justify the most massive spying ever undertaking using enormous computer capabilities to accumulate information on our emails, our phone calls, our financial transactions and even (no doubt) our medical records. They want to know everything there is to know about each and every one of us to promote their own agenda.
DHS preparing for civil war
Everyone must know by now that DHS has acquired 2 billion rounds of .40 caliber hollow-point ammunition, which is not ever permissible in combat under the Hague Convention of 1899.
It has also obtained 2,700 light tanks of the kind deployed in Boston (in violation of Posse Comitatus) and 7,000 assault weapons (of the kind that gun control legislation has been proposed to ban). They are preparing for war.
DHS has even made special arrangements with funeral homes and mortuaries to handle “an excess of casualties” should hospitals and emergency care facilities be overwhelmed.
This can only be because the government is planning to take out or otherwise “neutralize” the enemies of the state that are being identified by means of its massive surveillance program, which Edward Snowden has revealed to us all.
(1) Violation of the 4th amendment
The first problem with this program is that blatantly violates the 4th amendment’s guarantee to freedom from unreasonable searches and seizures and a history of lower court decisions decreeing the right of citizens to privacy.
Rand Paul has spoken out eloquently about this and Snowden appears to have secret FISA court decisions that rule against the legality of the program that Obama is trying to defend.
Most Americans and others worldwide naively assume that the NSA scandal represents an excess of zeal in attempting to track down domestic terrorists who want to attack targets in America.
What they do not appreciate is that this has nothing to do with national security and everything to do with the national security state. They are not the same. From the perspective of DHS, veterans are potential terrorists.
(2) Potential for blackmail and manipulation
Those who say, “I have nothing to hide”, are being extremely naïve, because this surveillance program is complete. It was not designated as “Total Information Awareness” for nothing when first introduced by Admiral Poindexter.
The public outcry led to its re-designation as “Terrorist Information Awareness”, but that did not mean that anything had changed. The NSA wants to know everything about everyone so it can selectively use the information to control or modify our actions.
The use for the purpose of political blackmail ought to be obvious to anyone who knows, for example, that J. Edgar Hoover maintained sex dossiers on the members of Congress, while the Mafia kept one on him.
Relationships with girlfriends and mistresses, watching porn or having had an abortion are illustrations of the kinds of information that could be used to manipulate Senators, Presidents or the Courts.
(3) Surveillance programs privatized
Practically no one in the mass media has observed that Snowden had access to these records because he was working for a private firm, Booz Allen, which gave him opportunities to obtain data that a normal government program would not have allowed.
And most of our security and surveillance programs are run by Israeli companies, which is one of the mechanisms by which it controls our leaders.
When the US Senate voted 99-0 to support Israel should it decide to attack Iran in its own self-defense without adding that that would have to be in accordance with international law, it thereby violated not only the UN Charter but the US Constitution, which grants treaties, such as ours with the UN, the same status under the Constitution as the Constitution itself. It was a completely unjustifiable act given that Iran has no nuclear weapons program. But it was also an act of treason.
When Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) declares that the revelations by Edward Snowden are “not going to play out well for the national security interests of the United States”, therefore, she is not talking about the interests of the American people, who are entitled to have their privacy preserved and to be safe-guarded from blackmail and embarrassment. There is no legitimate national security interest that could not be better served by traditional procedures with warrants.
When Sen. Diane Feinstein (D-CA), Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY), and (the usual suspects) Sens. John McCain and Lindsey Graham condemn Snowden for treason, they themselves are the ones who are violating the Constitution, their oaths of office and betraying the American people.
Edward Snowden is an American and international hero for speaking out against tyranny and the conversion of America into a fascist state. He deserves commendation, not prosecution.