How Israel’s war industry profits from violent US immigration “reform”April 10, 2014
Immigrant rights advocates in the US organized a national day of action on 5 April, the day they expected President Barack Obama’s record-breaking rate of deportations to reach a total of 2 million during his administration.
But scant attention has been paid to the list of global benefactors awaiting the profits from legislation escalating border militarization.
Israel, America’s closest ally, tops the lineup of patrons eager for rewards while advocates demanding a meaningful overhaul of US immigration and border enforcement continue their defiant battle in the streets. In this setting, rights supporters must know which global partners stand beside the US in repressing undocumented im/migrant communities.
But how does the situation in Palestine — thousands of miles away — affect US immigration reform and vice versa? What does one have to do with the other?
Quite a lot, actually.
“Border security on steroids”
Take the recent news that Israeli arms manufacturing giant Elbit Systems won a USDepartment of Homeland Security (DHS) contract to provide surveillance technology along the southern divide with Mexico, initially in Arizona.
Specifically, Elbit will provide its sensor-based Peregrine surveillance system for Customs and Border Protection’s (CBP) Integrated Fixed Tower project, which consists of ground radar and camera technology mounted on towers strewn throughout the borderlands. Congress approved the plan earlier this year.
A Bloomberg trade analyst estimated that Elbit’s $145 million award “may eventually reach $1 billion if legislation to rewrite US immigration laws passes Congress and helps fund the project’s expansion in the Southwest” (“Israel’s Elbit wins US border work after Boeing dumped,” 27 February 2014).
The little-discussed Corker-Hoeven amendment attached to the 2013 Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act (S. 744) is the key legislation referenced by the Bloomberg analyst. The Senate passed the bill last June; the House of Representatives has stalled on voting on the package in any form.
Promoted as “border security on steroids” by the bill’s co-author, Republican Senator from Tennessee Bob Corker, the measure sets aside $46 billion for security “triggers” that must be in place in areas including Arizona before a pathway to citizenship can be opened for an estimated 11 million people living undocumented in the US today.
No wonder that DHS’s $145 million payment to Elbit could skyrocket by 700 percent. And that’s just one bid by one Israeli company. There could be many more to come.
Israel and the “homeland security” industry
Journalist Todd Miller, author of the book Border Patrol Nation (City Lights Books), interviewed numerous corporate leaders and scoured boundary-enforcement security fairs and expos across the Southwest.
Miller described to The Electronic Intifada his constant encounters with Israeli security peddlers in the borderlands.
During his research for the book, Miller wasn’t looking for Israel anywhere. Yet the state’s agents kept surfacing at every turn, he said.
Israeli companies, specialists and top military brass have become an increasingly visible presence at border and “homeland security” trade shows in the years since the 11 September 2001 attacks.
The US has spent $100 billion on immigration enforcement in the decade since then.
In that time, Israel became the world’s sixth-largest defense exporter and a leading supplier and consumer in the budding border-security industrial complex (“Israel ranks as the world’s sixth largest arms exporter in 2012,” Haaretz, 25 June 2013).
Companies large and small such as Elta Systems, Elbit Systems and NICE Systems have provided technologies including radar, virtual fencing and CCTV surveillance for Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s Phoenix, Arizona department, as Jimmy Johnson has reported (“A Palestine-Mexico Border,” North American Congress on Latin America, 29 June 2012).
The Golan Group (founded by former Israeli special forces officers) provided training sessions for the US Border Patrol, as Naomi Klein notes in her 2007 book The Shock Doctrine.
Israel aids deadly “deterrence” strategy
Elta Systems got a boost in late 2012 when, Haaretz reported, the US Border Patrol hired the company to provide radar along the border “to protect the US-Mexico border against illegal migrant infiltration.” US Border Patrol’s deal offered the company “a potential market worth hundreds of millions of dollars.”
The US partnership with Israel is reciprocal: where the US has the finances, Israel has the expertise.
On the company’s end, according to Raanan Horowitz, CEO of Elbit Systems of America, the Peregrine system “will meet the demanding mission requirements of the Customs Border Protection (CPB) while enhancing its agents’ safety” (“Elbit Systems of America awarded contract for US Customs Border Protection integrated fixed towers project,” Elbit Systems, 8 March 2014).
But what does this situation look like in terms of human consequences? In CBP’s statedmission of “keeping terrorists and their weapons out of the US,” under the pretext of personal safety, Border Patrol agents have killed at least 19 persons in recent years, often under the alleged threat of rock-throwing (“Border Patrol’s use of deadly force criticized in new report,” Los Angeles Times, 27 February 2014).
In this deadly equation, the reform legislation’s amendment calls for a “military-style surge” of 700 more miles of “border fencing” and doubles the current number of Border Patrol agents to 40,000 (“Border security: Boost for Senate immigration bill,” Associated Press, 20 June 2013).
Two decades of border militarization
Increased deployment of military-style resources to strategic areas along the border has mushroomed since the early 1990s, as Joseph Nevins documents in his book Operation Gatekeeper: The Rise of the “Illegal Alien” and the Making of the US-Mexico Boundary.
President Bill Clinton, expanding on past boundary security-enforcement trends under his predecessors Ronald Reagan and Jimmy Carter, instituted a new “deterrence” strategy designed to “reroute” migrants away from urban areas and into “geographically harsher,” more “remote and hazardous border regions” where the treacherous terrain would potentially kill them (“656 Weeks on the Killing Fields of Arizona,” The Huffington Post, 12 November 2012).
In such a way, planners devised, the “mortal danger” of the “geography would be an ally to us.”
This aggressive shift came less than a decade after the last immigration overhaul. In 1986, the Immigration Reform and Control Act opened the door to citizenship for three million people of extra-legal status and increased border controls for those continuing to come, but without addressing the US-based economic and political policies driving migration.
Predictably, within a decade of the “deterrence” policy’s onset, “Arizona had become a killing field,” Tucson-based journalist Margaret Regan describes in her book The Death of Josseline: Immigration Stories from the Arizona Borderlands.
Israel continues to reap the benefits from US border militarization as the levels of death and suffering grow in line with an enriching investment climate.
Border death rate doubles
A June 2013 study by scholars and forensics specialists at the University of Arizona’s Binational Migration Institute and the local county medical examiner’s office found that the rate of migrant deaths had nearly doubled in the previous two years (“A continued humanitarian crisis at the border: undocumented border crosser deaths recorded by the Pima County office of the medical examiner, 1990-2012” [PDF]).
As more and more bodies are recovered, government and media continue to report all-time lows in apprehensions by the Border Patrol. Yet the simultaneous increase in border deaths remains enormously underreported.
But this is all good news to Senator Corker, who urged those concerned with border security not to worry because the bill is so tough that it’s “almost overkill.”
In fact, the package “is not only sufficient, it is well over sufficient,” Arizona Republican Senator John McCain concurred. “We’ll be the most militarized border since the fall of the Berlin Wall,” McCain boasted.
More drones
One provision in S. 744 would add 18 more unmanned aerial vehicles (also known asdrones or UAVs) to the already ballooning fleet operated by Customs and Border Protection.
Israeli-built “Hermes” drones were the first deployed along the southern border with Mexico as early as 2004. Currently, the fleet buzzing throughout the borderlands skies is wholly comprised of US-made Predator B drones, according to a CBP spokesperson.
Rivaling the US as the world’s leader in such technology, Israel can still view immigration reform as a hefty bounty for its “battle-proven” military technology that is “tried and tested on the West Bank and Gaza.”
As proposed in the legislation, the path to citizenship for the 11 million undocumented people in the US would take at least 13 years. Even then, the measures would benefit only those who are able to afford the mounting fees associated with the process, according to an analysis by Coalición de Derechos Humanos.
Though it won overwhelming approval in the Democrat-controlled Senate, the bill has stalled for nine months in the Republican-controlled House of Representatives.
Many House members are hostile to any pathway to citizenship for undocumented people. Worse, House Republicans, like their Senate counterparts, have shown a penchant for fueling the fantasy of border security as a sound solution to US immigration issues.
A new military occupation
The US and Israel both continue to dispossess indigenous people of their lands, and even of their existence.
In the US, Native peoples are left out of the “immigration reform” discourse altogether. Even though some are US-born, they are “undocumented” in every sense of the term, since they were born at home and lack a birth certificate.
The ancestral lands of the Tohono O’odham people span from modern-day Sonora, Mexico into southern Arizona — bisected by the Mexico-US border wall. Some were born on one side of the divide but grew up or spend most of their time on the other side and are therefore considered suspect by Border Patrol.
Miller writes in Border Patrol Nation: “While it may seem that the days of killing or corralling Native Americans and annexing their territories are an ancient and forgotten chapter in US history, the experience of the Tohono O’odham Nation show us that nothing can be further from the truth.” O’odham people regularly face abuse, harassment and even death at the hands of US Border Patrol.
Some of the country’s largest Border Patrol stations (and at least one US military outpost in a remote location, known as a “forward-operating base”) surround the Tohono O’odham Nation as the second-largest reservation in the US, and military-style checkpoints control all movement entering and leaving the nation. According to Miller, this presence of federal forces occupying permanent positions on Tohono O’odham lands is the largest in US history.
The extra layers of militarized infrastructure isolates the nation while still in Arizona, Miller observes, “as if the nation itself were a foreign country under a new, post-9/11 form of military occupation.”
Full article

How Israel’s war industry profits from violent US immigration “reform”
April 10, 2014

Immigrant rights advocates in the US organized a national day of action on 5 April, the day they expected President Barack Obama’s record-breaking rate of deportations to reach a total of 2 million during his administration.

But scant attention has been paid to the list of global benefactors awaiting the profits from legislation escalating border militarization.

Israel, America’s closest ally, tops the lineup of patrons eager for rewards while advocates demanding a meaningful overhaul of US immigration and border enforcement continue their defiant battle in the streets. In this setting, rights supporters must know which global partners stand beside the US in repressing undocumented im/migrant communities.

But how does the situation in Palestine — thousands of miles away — affect US immigration reform and vice versa? What does one have to do with the other?

Quite a lot, actually.

“Border security on steroids”

Take the recent news that Israeli arms manufacturing giant Elbit Systems won a USDepartment of Homeland Security (DHS) contract to provide surveillance technology along the southern divide with Mexico, initially in Arizona.

Specifically, Elbit will provide its sensor-based Peregrine surveillance system for Customs and Border Protection’s (CBP) Integrated Fixed Tower project, which consists of ground radar and camera technology mounted on towers strewn throughout the borderlands. Congress approved the plan earlier this year.

A Bloomberg trade analyst estimated that Elbit’s $145 million award “may eventually reach $1 billion if legislation to rewrite US immigration laws passes Congress and helps fund the project’s expansion in the Southwest” (“Israel’s Elbit wins US border work after Boeing dumped,” 27 February 2014).

The little-discussed Corker-Hoeven amendment attached to the 2013 Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act (S. 744) is the key legislation referenced by the Bloomberg analyst. The Senate passed the bill last June; the House of Representatives has stalled on voting on the package in any form.

Promoted as “border security on steroids” by the bill’s co-author, Republican Senator from Tennessee Bob Corker, the measure sets aside $46 billion for security “triggers” that must be in place in areas including Arizona before a pathway to citizenship can be opened for an estimated 11 million people living undocumented in the US today.

No wonder that DHS’s $145 million payment to Elbit could skyrocket by 700 percent. And that’s just one bid by one Israeli company. There could be many more to come.

Israel and the “homeland security” industry

Journalist Todd Miller, author of the book Border Patrol Nation (City Lights Books), interviewed numerous corporate leaders and scoured boundary-enforcement security fairs and expos across the Southwest.

Miller described to The Electronic Intifada his constant encounters with Israeli security peddlers in the borderlands.

During his research for the book, Miller wasn’t looking for Israel anywhere. Yet the state’s agents kept surfacing at every turn, he said.

Israeli companies, specialists and top military brass have become an increasingly visible presence at border and “homeland security” trade shows in the years since the 11 September 2001 attacks.

The US has spent $100 billion on immigration enforcement in the decade since then.

In that time, Israel became the world’s sixth-largest defense exporter and a leading supplier and consumer in the budding border-security industrial complex (“Israel ranks as the world’s sixth largest arms exporter in 2012,” Haaretz, 25 June 2013).

Companies large and small such as Elta Systems, Elbit Systems and NICE Systems have provided technologies including radar, virtual fencing and CCTV surveillance for Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s Phoenix, Arizona department, as Jimmy Johnson has reported (“A Palestine-Mexico Border,” North American Congress on Latin America, 29 June 2012).

The Golan Group (founded by former Israeli special forces officers) provided training sessions for the US Border Patrol, as Naomi Klein notes in her 2007 book The Shock Doctrine.

Israel aids deadly “deterrence” strategy

Elta Systems got a boost in late 2012 when, Haaretz reported, the US Border Patrol hired the company to provide radar along the border “to protect the US-Mexico border against illegal migrant infiltration.” US Border Patrol’s deal offered the company “a potential market worth hundreds of millions of dollars.”

The US partnership with Israel is reciprocal: where the US has the finances, Israel has the expertise.

On the company’s end, according to Raanan Horowitz, CEO of Elbit Systems of America, the Peregrine system “will meet the demanding mission requirements of the Customs Border Protection (CPB) while enhancing its agents’ safety” (“Elbit Systems of America awarded contract for US Customs Border Protection integrated fixed towers project,” Elbit Systems, 8 March 2014).

But what does this situation look like in terms of human consequences? In CBP’s statedmission of “keeping terrorists and their weapons out of the US,” under the pretext of personal safety, Border Patrol agents have killed at least 19 persons in recent years, often under the alleged threat of rock-throwing (“Border Patrol’s use of deadly force criticized in new report,” Los Angeles Times, 27 February 2014).

In this deadly equation, the reform legislation’s amendment calls for a “military-style surge” of 700 more miles of “border fencing” and doubles the current number of Border Patrol agents to 40,000 (“Border security: Boost for Senate immigration bill,” Associated Press, 20 June 2013).

Two decades of border militarization

Increased deployment of military-style resources to strategic areas along the border has mushroomed since the early 1990s, as Joseph Nevins documents in his book Operation Gatekeeper: The Rise of the “Illegal Alien” and the Making of the US-Mexico Boundary.

President Bill Clinton, expanding on past boundary security-enforcement trends under his predecessors Ronald Reagan and Jimmy Carter, instituted a new “deterrence” strategy designed to “reroute” migrants away from urban areas and into “geographically harsher,” more “remote and hazardous border regions” where the treacherous terrain would potentially kill them (“656 Weeks on the Killing Fields of Arizona,” The Huffington Post, 12 November 2012).

In such a way, planners devised, the “mortal danger” of the “geography would be an ally to us.”

This aggressive shift came less than a decade after the last immigration overhaul. In 1986, the Immigration Reform and Control Act opened the door to citizenship for three million people of extra-legal status and increased border controls for those continuing to come, but without addressing the US-based economic and political policies driving migration.

Predictably, within a decade of the “deterrence” policy’s onset, “Arizona had become a killing field,” Tucson-based journalist Margaret Regan describes in her book The Death of Josseline: Immigration Stories from the Arizona Borderlands.

Israel continues to reap the benefits from US border militarization as the levels of death and suffering grow in line with an enriching investment climate.

Border death rate doubles

A June 2013 study by scholars and forensics specialists at the University of Arizona’s Binational Migration Institute and the local county medical examiner’s office found that the rate of migrant deaths had nearly doubled in the previous two years (“A continued humanitarian crisis at the border: undocumented border crosser deaths recorded by the Pima County office of the medical examiner, 1990-2012” [PDF]).

As more and more bodies are recovered, government and media continue to report all-time lows in apprehensions by the Border Patrol. Yet the simultaneous increase in border deaths remains enormously underreported.

But this is all good news to Senator Corker, who urged those concerned with border security not to worry because the bill is so tough that it’s “almost overkill.”

In fact, the package “is not only sufficient, it is well over sufficient,” Arizona Republican Senator John McCain concurred. “We’ll be the most militarized border since the fall of the Berlin Wall,” McCain boasted.

More drones

One provision in S. 744 would add 18 more unmanned aerial vehicles (also known asdrones or UAVs) to the already ballooning fleet operated by Customs and Border Protection.

Israeli-built “Hermes” drones were the first deployed along the southern border with Mexico as early as 2004. Currently, the fleet buzzing throughout the borderlands skies is wholly comprised of US-made Predator B drones, according to a CBP spokesperson.

Rivaling the US as the world’s leader in such technology, Israel can still view immigration reform as a hefty bounty for its “battle-proven” military technology that is “tried and tested on the West Bank and Gaza.”

As proposed in the legislation, the path to citizenship for the 11 million undocumented people in the US would take at least 13 years. Even then, the measures would benefit only those who are able to afford the mounting fees associated with the process, according to an analysis by Coalición de Derechos Humanos.

Though it won overwhelming approval in the Democrat-controlled Senate, the bill has stalled for nine months in the Republican-controlled House of Representatives.

Many House members are hostile to any pathway to citizenship for undocumented people. Worse, House Republicans, like their Senate counterparts, have shown a penchant for fueling the fantasy of border security as a sound solution to US immigration issues.

A new military occupation

The US and Israel both continue to dispossess indigenous people of their lands, and even of their existence.

In the US, Native peoples are left out of the “immigration reform” discourse altogether. Even though some are US-born, they are “undocumented” in every sense of the term, since they were born at home and lack a birth certificate.

The ancestral lands of the Tohono O’odham people span from modern-day Sonora, Mexico into southern Arizona — bisected by the Mexico-US border wall. Some were born on one side of the divide but grew up or spend most of their time on the other side and are therefore considered suspect by Border Patrol.

Miller writes in Border Patrol Nation: “While it may seem that the days of killing or corralling Native Americans and annexing their territories are an ancient and forgotten chapter in US history, the experience of the Tohono O’odham Nation show us that nothing can be further from the truth.” O’odham people regularly face abuse, harassment and even death at the hands of US Border Patrol.

Some of the country’s largest Border Patrol stations (and at least one US military outpost in a remote location, known as a “forward-operating base”) surround the Tohono O’odham Nation as the second-largest reservation in the US, and military-style checkpoints control all movement entering and leaving the nation. According to Miller, this presence of federal forces occupying permanent positions on Tohono O’odham lands is the largest in US history.

The extra layers of militarized infrastructure isolates the nation while still in Arizona, Miller observes, “as if the nation itself were a foreign country under a new, post-9/11 form of military occupation.”

Full article

President Obama denounces Russia, defends war in Iraq as legalMarch 28, 2014
President Barack Obama gave a speech Wednesday in Brussels where he denounced Russia and defended the  2003 Iraq War as legal and done while working within the international system.  The speech comes after the Crimea was annexed by Russia under a controversial referendum and American neoconservatives have criticized the Obama Administration as naive and ineffective.
The remarks on Iraq came as Obama responded to complaints by the Russian government and others that America’s position on respecting sovereignty was hypocritical given the 2003 Iraq War.


Russia has pointed to America’s decision to go into Iraq as an example of Western hypocrisy. Now, it is true that the Iraq war was a subject of vigorous debate, not just around the world but in the United States, as well. I participated in that debate, and I opposed our military intervention there.
But even in Iraq, America sought to work within the international system. We did not claim or annex Iraq’s territory. We did not grab its resources for our own gain. Instead, we ended our war and left Iraq to its people in a fully sovereign Iraqi state that can make decisions about its own future.


Worked within the international system? So if Russia had gone to the UN to get a resolution, failed, then annexed Crimea it would have been OK?
President Obama then oddly tried to conflate the Arab Spring protests in Tunisia with the far right revolt in Ukraine. Obama also falsely claimed that the US had no role in promoting the protests despite clear evidence to the contrary.


It’s not America that filled the Maidan with protesters. It was Ukrainians. No foreign forces compelled the citizens of Tunis and Tripoli to rise up. They did so on their own. From the Burmese parliamentarian pursuing reform to the young leaders fighting corruption and intolerance in Africa, we see something irreducible that all of us share as human being: a truth that will persevere in the face of violence and repression and will ultimately overcome.


America actually gave $5 billion to help foment “protesters” and was caught advising the current “interim” leader in Kiev, Arseniy Yatsenyuk. So while US officials may not have bussed people to the Maidan, America helped fund the operation and continues to advise and support those who came to power from it.
While the American people are uninterested in pursuing further action in Ukraine, President Obama seems determined to remain confrontational. But to what end?
Source

President Obama denounces Russia, defends war in Iraq as legal
March 28, 2014

President Barack Obama gave a speech Wednesday in Brussels where he denounced Russia and defended the  2003 Iraq War as legal and done while working within the international system.  The speech comes after the Crimea was annexed by Russia under a controversial referendum and American neoconservatives have criticized the Obama Administration as naive and ineffective.

The remarks on Iraq came as Obama responded to complaints by the Russian government and others that America’s position on respecting sovereignty was hypocritical given the 2003 Iraq War.

Russia has pointed to America’s decision to go into Iraq as an example of Western hypocrisy. Now, it is true that the Iraq war was a subject of vigorous debate, not just around the world but in the United States, as well. I participated in that debate, and I opposed our military intervention there.

But even in Iraq, America sought to work within the international system. We did not claim or annex Iraq’s territory. We did not grab its resources for our own gain. Instead, we ended our war and left Iraq to its people in a fully sovereign Iraqi state that can make decisions about its own future.

Worked within the international system? So if Russia had gone to the UN to get a resolution, failed, then annexed Crimea it would have been OK?

President Obama then oddly tried to conflate the Arab Spring protests in Tunisia with the far right revolt in Ukraine. Obama also falsely claimed that the US had no role in promoting the protests despite clear evidence to the contrary.

It’s not America that filled the Maidan with protesters. It was Ukrainians. No foreign forces compelled the citizens of Tunis and Tripoli to rise up. They did so on their own. From the Burmese parliamentarian pursuing reform to the young leaders fighting corruption and intolerance in Africa, we see something irreducible that all of us share as human being: a truth that will persevere in the face of violence and repression and will ultimately overcome.

America actually gave $5 billion to help foment “protesters” and was caught advising the current “interim” leader in Kiev, Arseniy Yatsenyuk. So while US officials may not have bussed people to the Maidan, America helped fund the operation and continues to advise and support those who came to power from it.

While the American people are uninterested in pursuing further action in Ukraine, President Obama seems determined to remain confrontational. But to what end?

Source

TW: Suicide - Eight year old commits suicide after deportationMarch 22, 2014
An eight year old reportedly committed suicide last week after border patrol authorities caught her with a migrant smuggler as they attempted to cross the U.S.-Mexico border, according to the Associated Press. Mexico’s Comisión Nacional de los Derechos Humanos (National Human Rights Commission) released a press statement on Monday, saying that it would investigate her death and find her parents who live in the United States.
Federal authorities turned the young girl over to Chihuahua state authorities who put her in a private shelter, “instead of one run by the state’s child protective services,” in the border city of Ciudad Juarez, Mexico. State prosecutors said that the girl hanged herself inside the bathroom of the private shelther, “La Esperanza,” but that “there was no foul play.”
While it’s unknown how many children commit suicide after they are picked up by federal authorities and returned to their countries of origin, children who make the treacherous journey often face traumatic experiences in both countries. In 2006, at least 3,000 unaccompanied children were deported to Ciudad Juarez, which some call “ground zero” for the violence raging in Mexico, after they were apprehended while trying to cross into the United States, according to a Journal of the Southwest report.
Of the 404 children interviewed by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in a March 2014 report, 58 percent of children crossed the border because they faced violence by organized armed criminal actors and violence in the home. The same report found that 40 percent of the children from Mexico are exploited to be part of a human smuggling ring, by “facilitating others in crossing into the United States unlawfully.”
Once caught at the border, children end up in deportation proceedings where they are “mixed with adult detainees and exposed to human and contraband trafficking, exploitation, and labor abuses before they are deported from the United States.” Children often spend the night in an Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) office before they face an “interview” the next day where they are asked the “same questions they’ve been asked since the first moment they were apprehended in the field,” fingerprinted, and made to describe the smuggler they were with. Children who remain in deportation proceedings can spend anywhere between one week to four months, with an average of 61 days in the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) custody, an agency responsible for children after they are apprehended by border agents. What’s more the Border Patrol has in the past deported minors expeditiously and only informed the consulate of the incident after the fact.

Last year alone, minors accounted for one in 13 people caught by Border Patrol and 17 percent of them were under the age of 13. According to the Los Angeles Times, up to 120 unaccompanied children cross the border each day. And the Vera Institute of Justice found that 40 percent of unaccompanied children may be eligible for “statuses that exempt them from deportation. Among the most likely possibilities: asylum, because they fear persecution in their home country, or a special immigrant juvenile status for children abused or abandoned by a parent.”
Source
Next month, President Obama is expected to hit 2 million deportations.
With an average of 395,689 deportations each year since the beginning of his 2009 term, he has deported more people than any other president. 

TW: Suicide - Eight year old commits suicide after deportation
March 22, 2014

An eight year old reportedly committed suicide last week after border patrol authorities caught her with a migrant smuggler as they attempted to cross the U.S.-Mexico border, according to the Associated Press. Mexico’s Comisión Nacional de los Derechos Humanos (National Human Rights Commission) released a press statement on Monday, saying that it would investigate her death and find her parents who live in the United States.

Federal authorities turned the young girl over to Chihuahua state authorities who put her in a private shelter, “instead of one run by the state’s child protective services,” in the border city of Ciudad Juarez, Mexico. State prosecutors said that the girl hanged herself inside the bathroom of the private shelther, “La Esperanza,” but that “there was no foul play.”

While it’s unknown how many children commit suicide after they are picked up by federal authorities and returned to their countries of origin, children who make the treacherous journey often face traumatic experiences in both countries. In 2006, at least 3,000 unaccompanied children were deported to Ciudad Juarez, which some call “ground zero” for the violence raging in Mexico, after they were apprehended while trying to cross into the United States, according to a Journal of the Southwest report.

Of the 404 children interviewed by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in a March 2014 report, 58 percent of children crossed the border because they faced violence by organized armed criminal actors and violence in the home. The same report found that 40 percent of the children from Mexico are exploited to be part of a human smuggling ring, by “facilitating others in crossing into the United States unlawfully.”

Once caught at the border, children end up in deportation proceedings where they are “mixed with adult detainees and exposed to human and contraband trafficking, exploitation, and labor abuses before they are deported from the United States.” Children often spend the night in an Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) office before they face an “interview” the next day where they are asked the “same questions they’ve been asked since the first moment they were apprehended in the field,” fingerprinted, and made to describe the smuggler they were with. Children who remain in deportation proceedings can spend anywhere between one week to four months, with an average of 61 days in the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) custody, an agency responsible for children after they are apprehended by border agents. What’s more the Border Patrol has in the past deported minors expeditiously and only informed the consulate of the incident after the fact.

Last year alone, minors accounted for one in 13 people caught by Border Patrol and 17 percent of them were under the age of 13. According to the Los Angeles Times, up to 120 unaccompanied children cross the border each day. And the Vera Institute of Justice found that 40 percent of unaccompanied children may be eligible for “statuses that exempt them from deportation. Among the most likely possibilities: asylum, because they fear persecution in their home country, or a special immigrant juvenile status for children abused or abandoned by a parent.”

Source

Next month, President Obama is expected to hit 2 million deportations.

With an average of 395,689 deportations each year since the beginning of his 2009 term, he has deported more people than any other president. 

The White House has been covering up the presidency’s role in torture for yearsMarch 18, 2014
The fight between the CIA and the Senate Intelligence Committee over the Committee’s Torture Report – which Dan Froomkin covered here – has now zeroed in on the White House.
Did the White House order the CIA to withdraw 920 documents from a server made available to Committee staffers, as Senator Dianne Feinstein says the agency claimed in 2010? Were those documents – perhaps thousands of them – pulled in deference to a White House claim of executive privilege, as Senator Mark Udall and then CIA General Counsel Stephen Preston suggested last fall? And is the White House continuing to withhold 9,000 pages of documents without invoking privilege, as McClatchy reported yesterday?
We can be sure about one thing: The Obama White House has covered up the Bush presidency’s role in the torture program for years. Specifically, from 2009 to 2012, the administration went to extraordinary lengths to keep a single short phrase, describing President Bush’s authorization of the torture program, secret.
Some time before October 29, 2009, then National Security Advisor Jim Jones filed an ex parte classified declaration with the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, in response to a FOIA request by the ACLU seeking documents related to the torture program. In it, Jones argued that the CIA should not be forced to disclose the “source of the CIA’s authority,” as referenced in the title of a document providing “Guidelines for Interrogations” and signed by then CIA Director George Tenet. That document was cited in two Justice Department memos at issue in the FOIA. Jones claimed that “source of authority” constituted an intelligence method that needed to be protected.
As other documents and reporting have made clear, the source of authority was a September 17, 2001 Presidential declaration authorizing not just detention and interrogation, but a range of other counterterrorism activities, including targeted killings.
Both former CIA Director Michael Hayden and former CIA Acting General Counsel John Rizzo have made clear that the torture program began as a covert operation. “A few days after the [9/11] attacks, President Bush signed a top-secret directive to CIA authorizing an unprecedented array of covert actions against Al Qaeda and its leadership.” Rizzo explained in 2011. One of those actions, Rizzo went on, was “the capture, incommunicado detention and aggressive interrogation of senior Al Qaeda operatives.”
As Steven Aftergood, director of the Federation of American Scientists Project on Government Secrecy, noted  in 2009 – shortly after Hayden revealed that torture started as a covert operation – this means there should be a paper trail implicating President Bush in the torture program. “[T]here should be a Presidential ‘finding’ authorizing the program,” he said, “and [] such a finding should have been provided to Congressional overseers.”
The National Security Act dictates that every covert operation must be supported by a written declaration finding that the action is necessary and important to the national security. The Congressional Intelligence committees – or at least the Chair and Ranking Member – should receive notice of the finding.
But there is evidence that those Congressional overseers were never told that the finding the president signed on September 17, 2001 authorized torture. For example, a letter from then ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee, Jane Harman, to the CIA’s General Counsel following her first briefing on torture asked: “Have enhanced techniques been authorized and approved by the President?” The CIA’s response at the time was simply that “policy as well as legal matters have been addressed within the Executive Branch.”
Nevertheless, the finding does exist. The CIA even disclosed its existence in response to the ACLU FOIA, describing it as “a 14-page memorandum dated 17 September 2001 from President Bush to the Director of the CIA pertaining to the CIA’s authorization to detain terrorists.” In an order in the ACLU suit, Judge Alvin K. Hellerstein confirmed that the declaration was “intertwined with” the administration’s effort to keep the language in the Tenet document hidden. When the administration succeeded in keeping that short phrase secret, all effort to release the declaration also ended.
Enduring confusion about this particular finding surely exists because of its flexible nature. As Bob Woodward described in Bush at War, CIA Director Tenet asked President Bush to sign “a broad intelligence order permitting the CIA to conduct covert operations without having to come back for formal approval for each specific operation.” As Jane Mayer described in The Dark Side, such an order not only gave the CIA flexibility, it also protected the President. “To give the President deniability, and to keep him from getting his hands dirty, the finding called for the President to delegate blanket authority to Tenet to decide on a case-by-case basis whom to kill, whom to kidnap, whom to detain and interrogate, and how.”

When George Tenet signed written guidelines for the CIA’s torture program in 2003, however, he appeared to have deliberately deprived the President of that deniability by including the source of CIA’s authorization – presumably naming the President – in a document interrogators would see. You can’t blame the CIA Director, after all; Tenet signed the Guidelines just as CIA’s Inspector General and DOJ started to review the legality of the torture tactics used against detainees like Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, who was threatened with a drill and a gun in violation of DOJ’s ban on mock executions.
Full article

The White House has been covering up the presidency’s role in torture for years
March 18, 2014

The fight between the CIA and the Senate Intelligence Committee over the Committee’s Torture Report – which Dan Froomkin covered here – has now zeroed in on the White House.

Did the White House order the CIA to withdraw 920 documents from a server made available to Committee staffers, as Senator Dianne Feinstein says the agency claimed in 2010? Were those documents – perhaps thousands of them – pulled in deference to a White House claim of executive privilege, as Senator Mark Udall and then CIA General Counsel Stephen Preston suggested last fall? And is the White House continuing to withhold 9,000 pages of documents without invoking privilege, as McClatchy reported yesterday?

We can be sure about one thing: The Obama White House has covered up the Bush presidency’s role in the torture program for years. Specifically, from 2009 to 2012, the administration went to extraordinary lengths to keep a single short phrase, describing President Bush’s authorization of the torture program, secret.

Some time before October 29, 2009, then National Security Advisor Jim Jones filed an ex parte classified declaration with the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, in response to a FOIA request by the ACLU seeking documents related to the torture program. In it, Jones argued that the CIA should not be forced to disclose the “source of the CIA’s authority,” as referenced in the title of a document providing “Guidelines for Interrogations” and signed by then CIA Director George Tenet. That document was cited in two Justice Department memos at issue in the FOIA. Jones claimed that “source of authority” constituted an intelligence method that needed to be protected.

As other documents and reporting have made clear, the source of authority was a September 17, 2001 Presidential declaration authorizing not just detention and interrogation, but a range of other counterterrorism activities, including targeted killings.

Both former CIA Director Michael Hayden and former CIA Acting General Counsel John Rizzo have made clear that the torture program began as a covert operation. “A few days after the [9/11] attacks, President Bush signed a top-secret directive to CIA authorizing an unprecedented array of covert actions against Al Qaeda and its leadership.” Rizzo explained in 2011. One of those actions, Rizzo went on, was “the capture, incommunicado detention and aggressive interrogation of senior Al Qaeda operatives.”

As Steven Aftergood, director of the Federation of American Scientists Project on Government Secrecy, noted  in 2009 – shortly after Hayden revealed that torture started as a covert operation – this means there should be a paper trail implicating President Bush in the torture program. “[T]here should be a Presidential ‘finding’ authorizing the program,” he said, “and [] such a finding should have been provided to Congressional overseers.”

The National Security Act dictates that every covert operation must be supported by a written declaration finding that the action is necessary and important to the national security. The Congressional Intelligence committees – or at least the Chair and Ranking Member – should receive notice of the finding.

But there is evidence that those Congressional overseers were never told that the finding the president signed on September 17, 2001 authorized torture. For example, a letter from then ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee, Jane Harman, to the CIA’s General Counsel following her first briefing on torture asked: “Have enhanced techniques been authorized and approved by the President?” The CIA’s response at the time was simply that “policy as well as legal matters have been addressed within the Executive Branch.”

Nevertheless, the finding does exist. The CIA even disclosed its existence in response to the ACLU FOIA, describing it as “a 14-page memorandum dated 17 September 2001 from President Bush to the Director of the CIA pertaining to the CIA’s authorization to detain terrorists.” In an order in the ACLU suit, Judge Alvin K. Hellerstein confirmed that the declaration was “intertwined with” the administration’s effort to keep the language in the Tenet document hidden. When the administration succeeded in keeping that short phrase secret, all effort to release the declaration also ended.

Enduring confusion about this particular finding surely exists because of its flexible nature. As Bob Woodward described in Bush at War, CIA Director Tenet asked President Bush to sign “a broad intelligence order permitting the CIA to conduct covert operations without having to come back for formal approval for each specific operation.” As Jane Mayer described in The Dark Side, such an order not only gave the CIA flexibility, it also protected the President. “To give the President deniability, and to keep him from getting his hands dirty, the finding called for the President to delegate blanket authority to Tenet to decide on a case-by-case basis whom to kill, whom to kidnap, whom to detain and interrogate, and how.”

When George Tenet signed written guidelines for the CIA’s torture program in 2003, however, he appeared to have deliberately deprived the President of that deniability by including the source of CIA’s authorization – presumably naming the President – in a document interrogators would see. You can’t blame the CIA Director, after all; Tenet signed the Guidelines just as CIA’s Inspector General and DOJ started to review the legality of the torture tactics used against detainees like Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, who was threatened with a drill and a gun in violation of DOJ’s ban on mock executions.

Full article

Immigrant hunger strikers threatened with force-feedingMarch 14, 2014
Immigrant detainees who started a hunger strike last Friday at Northwest Detention Center in Tacoma, Wash., are reporting increased retaliation by guards — including threats of force-feeding — according to a lawyer backing the group.
As the hunger strike entered its sixth day Wednesday, attorney Sandy Restrepo told Al Jazeera that the detainees have vowed to continue their strike in the face of threats until adequate negotiations take place between strikers and the U.S. Department of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
ICE denied that it was retaliating against the strikers.
The detainees are demanding safer working conditions, better treatment by guards, more sanitary food options, and for President Barack Obama to sign an executive order halting deportations until the U.S. immigration system is overhauled.
As of Tuesday evening, five strikers had been placed under medical observation. ICE said that one of the detainees had broken the fast Wednesday morning and was allowed to “return to the general population.” 
Maru Mora Villalpando, an immigration reform advocate and founder of Latino Advocacy, told Al Jazeera that her group is in contact with elected officials to push for “a monitored negotiation process to prevent further abuse by detention center officials.”
Restrepo, who met with some of the hunger strikers on Tuesday, described guards as armed and dressed in riot gear. “Immigrants on hunger strike are being placed in solitary confinement, coerced into signing deportation forms, and threatened with forced-feeding if they continue their protest. Asylum seekers are being threatened with denial of their cases,” Restrepo said.
ICE rejected the allegations of retaliation. “There have been no punitive actions taken against individuals who are participating in the protest,” ICE officials said in an emailed statement. “ICE fully respects the rights of all people to express their opinion without interference.”
Although ICE did acknowledge that strikers were advised that they may be force-fed, it said that it was looking out for the strikers’ well-being.
“Detainees are being advised of the health consequences of remaining on a hunger strike,” the ICE statement said. “This includes the fact that going without food for a prolonged period of time could put their life in danger, and if that point is reached ICE may be forced to obtain a court order to force feed an individual.”
Villalpando, who has communicated with some of the strikers, said that guards were also threatening strikers with deportation, and in some cases forcing them to sign consent forms authorizing immediate deportation.
In one case, she said that a detainee was dragged into a room before guards and told to end his strike or sign a form authorizing deportation. “When he refused to do either, one of the guards pulled his arm and forced his fingerprint,” Villalpando said.
Strike leaders in particular, she said, are being targeted and placed in solitary confinement. “They are being told that they cannot rejoin the general population unless they end their hunger strike,” she said.
While ICE confirmed reports that some strikers were separated from the general population, it said that the basis for its decision to do so was “medical observation.”
The Washington state detainees are the latest to join a nationwide campaign to protest deportations, with similar actions recently taking place in Arizona, Illinois, California and Virginia. The coordinated protests represent a new strategy in the battle to halt deportations after a bipartisan immigration reform bill stalled in the Republican-controlled House of Representatives.
Immigration activists have shifted their focus from Congress to Obama, demanding that he issue an executive order to end deportations until the immigration system is overhauled for the estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants currently living in the United States.
Under Obama, U.S. deportations have hit record highs, immigration advocates point out.
"For us, this president has been the deporter-in-chief," said Janet Murguia, a former Obama ally and president of the National Council of La Raza, the largest Hispanic advocacy group in the United States. "Any day now, this administration will reach the 2 million mark for deportations. It is a staggering number that far outstrips any of his predecessors and leaves behind it a wake of devastation for families across America."
On Tuesday, family members of the Washington hunger-strikers attended solidarity rallies organized outside of the detention facility. Veronica Noriega, the wife of one of the hunger strike leaders, told Al Jazeera that her husband was placed in solitary confinement with three other strikers for his role in organizing the protest.
Noriega attended Tuesday’s rally with her three children, ages 5, 11, and 13. She is currently working three jobs to make ends meet following her husband’s detainment in September 2013, she said.
Restrepo said the government’s inability to pass immigration reform is taking its worst toll on families. “These are fathers and mothers in there, people who will one day be eligible to stay under any new immigration law. There’s no reason why they shouldn’t be allowed to return to their families, to challenge their case from the outside,” she told Al Jazeera.
Source

Immigrant hunger strikers threatened with force-feeding
March 14, 2014

Immigrant detainees who started a hunger strike last Friday at Northwest Detention Center in Tacoma, Wash., are reporting increased retaliation by guards — including threats of force-feeding — according to a lawyer backing the group.

As the hunger strike entered its sixth day Wednesday, attorney Sandy Restrepo told Al Jazeera that the detainees have vowed to continue their strike in the face of threats until adequate negotiations take place between strikers and the U.S. Department of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

ICE denied that it was retaliating against the strikers.

The detainees are demanding safer working conditions, better treatment by guards, more sanitary food options, and for President Barack Obama to sign an executive order halting deportations until the U.S. immigration system is overhauled.

As of Tuesday evening, five strikers had been placed under medical observation. ICE said that one of the detainees had broken the fast Wednesday morning and was allowed to “return to the general population.” 

Maru Mora Villalpando, an immigration reform advocate and founder of Latino Advocacy, told Al Jazeera that her group is in contact with elected officials to push for “a monitored negotiation process to prevent further abuse by detention center officials.”

Restrepo, who met with some of the hunger strikers on Tuesday, described guards as armed and dressed in riot gear. “Immigrants on hunger strike are being placed in solitary confinement, coerced into signing deportation forms, and threatened with forced-feeding if they continue their protest. Asylum seekers are being threatened with denial of their cases,” Restrepo said.

ICE rejected the allegations of retaliation. “There have been no punitive actions taken against individuals who are participating in the protest,” ICE officials said in an emailed statement. “ICE fully respects the rights of all people to express their opinion without interference.”

Although ICE did acknowledge that strikers were advised that they may be force-fed, it said that it was looking out for the strikers’ well-being.

“Detainees are being advised of the health consequences of remaining on a hunger strike,” the ICE statement said. “This includes the fact that going without food for a prolonged period of time could put their life in danger, and if that point is reached ICE may be forced to obtain a court order to force feed an individual.”

Villalpando, who has communicated with some of the strikers, said that guards were also threatening strikers with deportation, and in some cases forcing them to sign consent forms authorizing immediate deportation.

In one case, she said that a detainee was dragged into a room before guards and told to end his strike or sign a form authorizing deportation. “When he refused to do either, one of the guards pulled his arm and forced his fingerprint,” Villalpando said.

Strike leaders in particular, she said, are being targeted and placed in solitary confinement. “They are being told that they cannot rejoin the general population unless they end their hunger strike,” she said.

While ICE confirmed reports that some strikers were separated from the general population, it said that the basis for its decision to do so was “medical observation.”

The Washington state detainees are the latest to join a nationwide campaign to protest deportations, with similar actions recently taking place in Arizona, Illinois, California and Virginia. The coordinated protests represent a new strategy in the battle to halt deportations after a bipartisan immigration reform bill stalled in the Republican-controlled House of Representatives.

Immigration activists have shifted their focus from Congress to Obama, demanding that he issue an executive order to end deportations until the immigration system is overhauled for the estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants currently living in the United States.

Under Obama, U.S. deportations have hit record highs, immigration advocates point out.

"For us, this president has been the deporter-in-chief," said Janet Murguia, a former Obama ally and president of the National Council of La Raza, the largest Hispanic advocacy group in the United States. "Any day now, this administration will reach the 2 million mark for deportations. It is a staggering number that far outstrips any of his predecessors and leaves behind it a wake of devastation for families across America."

On Tuesday, family members of the Washington hunger-strikers attended solidarity rallies organized outside of the detention facility. Veronica Noriega, the wife of one of the hunger strike leaders, told Al Jazeera that her husband was placed in solitary confinement with three other strikers for his role in organizing the protest.

Noriega attended Tuesday’s rally with her three children, ages 5, 11, and 13. She is currently working three jobs to make ends meet following her husband’s detainment in September 2013, she said.

Restrepo said the government’s inability to pass immigration reform is taking its worst toll on families. “These are fathers and mothers in there, people who will one day be eligible to stay under any new immigration law. There’s no reason why they shouldn’t be allowed to return to their families, to challenge their case from the outside,” she told Al Jazeera.

Source

All I want is what President Obama promised – my liberty, and fair treatment for others. I have been cleared for five years, and I have been force-fed for seven years. This is not a life worth living, it is a life of constant pain and suffering. While I do not want to die, it is surely my right to protest peacefully without being degraded and abused every day

Emad Abdullah Hassan, a 34-year-old Guantanamo Bay prisoner who has been force-fed more than 5,000 times since 2007 as part of the military’s efforts to break his hunger strike. 

He is the plaintiff in a landmark lawsuit challenging the practice of force-feeding at the US military prison camp. The case represents the first time a US court will hear allegations of detainee abuse at Gitmo.

How the NSA plans to infect “millions” of computers with malwareMarch 13, 2014
Top-secret documents reveal that the National Security Agency is dramatically expanding its ability to covertly hack into computers on a mass scale by using automated systems that reduce the level of human oversight in the process.
The classified files – provided previously by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden – contain new details about groundbreaking surveillance technology the agency has developed to infect potentially millions of computers worldwide with malware “implants.” The clandestine initiative enables the NSA to break into targeted computers and to siphon out data from foreign Internet and phone networks.
The covert infrastructure that supports the hacking efforts operates from the agency’s headquarters in Fort Meade, Maryland, and from eavesdropping bases in the United Kingdom and Japan. GCHQ, the British intelligence agency, appears to have played an integral role in helping to develop the implants tactic.
In some cases the NSA has masqueraded as a fake Facebook server, using the social media site as a launching pad to infect a target’s computer and exfiltrate files from a hard drive. In others, it has sent out spam emails laced with the malware, which can be tailored to covertly record audio from a computer’s microphone and take snapshots with its webcam. The hacking systems have also enabled the NSA to launch cyberattacks by corrupting and disrupting file downloads or denying access to websites.
The implants being deployed were once reserved for a few hundred hard-to-reach targets, whose communications could not be monitored through traditional wiretaps. But the documents analyzed by The Intercept show how the NSA has aggressively accelerated its hacking initiatives in the past decade by computerizing some processes previously handled by humans. The automated system – codenamed TURBINE – is designed to “allow the current implant network to scale to large size (millions of implants) by creating a system that does automated control implants by groups instead of individually.”
In a top-secret presentation, dated August 2009, the NSA describes a pre-programmed part of the covert infrastructure called the “Expert System,” which is designed to operate “like the brain.” The system manages the applications and functions of the implants and “decides” what tools they need to best extract data from infected machines.
Mikko Hypponen, an expert in malware who serves as chief research officer at the Finnish security firm F-Secure, calls the revelations “disturbing.” The NSA’s surveillance techniques, he warns, could inadvertently be undermining the security of the Internet.
“When they deploy malware on systems,” Hypponen says, “they potentially create new vulnerabilities in these systems, making them more vulnerable for attacks by third parties.”
Hypponen believes that governments could arguably justify using malware in a small number of targeted cases against adversaries. But millions of malware implants being deployed by the NSA as part of an automated process, he says, would be “out of control.”
“That would definitely not be proportionate,” Hypponen says. “It couldn’t possibly be targeted and named. It sounds like wholesale infection and wholesale surveillance.”
The NSA declined to answer questions about its deployment of implants, pointing to a new presidential policy directive announced by President Obama. “As the president made clear on 17 January,” the agency said in a statement, “signals intelligence shall be collected exclusively where there is a foreign intelligence or counterintelligence purpose to support national and departmental missions, and not for any other purposes.”
Full article

How the NSA plans to infect “millions” of computers with malware
March 13, 2014

Top-secret documents reveal that the National Security Agency is dramatically expanding its ability to covertly hack into computers on a mass scale by using automated systems that reduce the level of human oversight in the process.

The classified files – provided previously by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden – contain new details about groundbreaking surveillance technology the agency has developed to infect potentially millions of computers worldwide with malware “implants.” The clandestine initiative enables the NSA to break into targeted computers and to siphon out data from foreign Internet and phone networks.

The covert infrastructure that supports the hacking efforts operates from the agency’s headquarters in Fort Meade, Maryland, and from eavesdropping bases in the United Kingdom and Japan. GCHQ, the British intelligence agency, appears to have played an integral role in helping to develop the implants tactic.

In some cases the NSA has masqueraded as a fake Facebook server, using the social media site as a launching pad to infect a target’s computer and exfiltrate files from a hard drive. In others, it has sent out spam emails laced with the malware, which can be tailored to covertly record audio from a computer’s microphone and take snapshots with its webcam. The hacking systems have also enabled the NSA to launch cyberattacks by corrupting and disrupting file downloads or denying access to websites.

The implants being deployed were once reserved for a few hundred hard-to-reach targets, whose communications could not be monitored through traditional wiretaps. But the documents analyzed by The Intercept show how the NSA has aggressively accelerated its hacking initiatives in the past decade by computerizing some processes previously handled by humans. The automated system – codenamed TURBINE – is designed to “allow the current implant network to scale to large size (millions of implants) by creating a system that does automated control implants by groups instead of individually.”

In a top-secret presentation, dated August 2009, the NSA describes a pre-programmed part of the covert infrastructure called the “Expert System,” which is designed to operate “like the brain.” The system manages the applications and functions of the implants and “decides” what tools they need to best extract data from infected machines.

Mikko Hypponen, an expert in malware who serves as chief research officer at the Finnish security firm F-Secure, calls the revelations “disturbing.” The NSA’s surveillance techniques, he warns, could inadvertently be undermining the security of the Internet.

“When they deploy malware on systems,” Hypponen says, “they potentially create new vulnerabilities in these systems, making them more vulnerable for attacks by third parties.”

Hypponen believes that governments could arguably justify using malware in a small number of targeted cases against adversaries. But millions of malware implants being deployed by the NSA as part of an automated process, he says, would be “out of control.”

“That would definitely not be proportionate,” Hypponen says. “It couldn’t possibly be targeted and named. It sounds like wholesale infection and wholesale surveillance.”

The NSA declined to answer questions about its deployment of implants, pointing to a new presidential policy directive announced by President Obama. “As the president made clear on 17 January,” the agency said in a statement, “signals intelligence shall be collected exclusively where there is a foreign intelligence or counterintelligence purpose to support national and departmental missions, and not for any other purposes.”

Full article

What “My Brother’s Keeper” - Obama’s new blame game initiative - gets wrong about young men of colorBy the Philadelphia Student UnionFebruary 28, 2014

In a statement issued by the White House on President Obama’s latest initiative called My Brother’s Keeper, it says: “Boys and young men of color—regardless of where they come from—are disproportionately at risk from their youngest years through college and the early stages of their professional lives.” 


What exactly are young men of color at risk for? We know that they are at risk for being funneled into the school-to-prison pipeline. They are at risk for being put in cages of the prison industrial complex. They are at risk for being shot, murdered, or sexually assaulted by police officers. They are at risk for living in a society that criminalizes, abuses and exploits their bodies, while refusing to invest in their communities and schools. 
The White House goes on to say: “And we need to help these young men stay in school and find a good job– so they have the opportunity to reach their full potential, contribute to their communities and build decent lives for themselves and their families.” 
This plan puts the onus of success on the backs of young people, rather than transforming the systems that oppress young men of color in the first place. When it comes to dismantling systems like the school-to-prison pipeline or the prison industrial complex, we know that it is not about individual effort. Collective organizing is needed to dismantle the systems that continue to oppress young men of color.We seek systemic change that would improve the lives of young men of color for generations to come. We do not expect that systemic change to come from those who manufactured the systems themselves. 
This effort will seek “to make sure that every young man of color who is willing to work hard and lift himself up has an opportunity to get ahead and reach his full potential,” the White House official said. 
By making the problem seem like young men of color just need to “work hard”, they cover up the real barriers to equal opportunity, such as the racial violence of police brutality that is directed at young black men. It is very difficult to “work hard” when the powers that be are working hard at criminalizing you. They allow the bodies of young men of color to be criminalized when they put the blame on young people rather than changing racist policing polices. 
When society, specifically those in power, tell a young man of color to “lift himself up”, they are telling him to ignore hundreds of years of racial injustice designed to keep people of color down. This blames youth themselves for their disadvantaged position and the inequities they face. This delegitimizes the current systems and long histories of oppression that have led us to where we are today. We must look back at hundreds of years of the criminalization of young black men and disinvestment from communities of color before placing the responsibility of fixing that in the laps of young people. 
Young men of color have in fact been rising up! They’ve been fighting the root causes of systemic oppressions in their lives. We’ve seen young men of color rise up across the nation in remembrance of Trayvon Martin, Jordan Davis and other victims of racial violence. Youth of color, LGBTQ youth and other impacted youth work together to end the schoolhouse to jailhouse pipeline. Young people know the obstacles they face, because they encounter them daily.
The White House recently released a statement on ending the school-to-prison pipeline. For years, young men of color across the nation have been organizing in coalitions such as the Alliance for Educational Justice, the Dignity in Schools Campaign, Journey for Justice and many others. This work has finally received a response from the the government on the growing crisis of the school-to-prison pipeline. Young men of color have been fighting for change in a way that far surpasses the White House’s request for young men of color to “lift themselves up” They have been fighting to lift up their entire communities despite stop & frisk, the prison industrial complex and widespread poverty. 
The President made today’s announcement alongside Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Michael Bloomberg. These two men have been responsible for the closing of hundreds of schools in both Chicago and New York City; the results of which undeniably displaced hundreds of thousands of young black men. The systematic uprooting of young black men from their communities, those which the President claims will be lifted up by these various proposals, is a perfect example of why we cannot expect those in power to make changes that will actually serve to benefit young men of color in our communities. Real change always comes from we who are impacted by injustice and who have the vision to fight for a just world.
Let’s talk about the responsibility of those in power and their abuse of it, before we ask young people to do the same. 
Source

What “My Brother’s Keeper” - Obama’s new blame game initiative - gets wrong about young men of color
By the Philadelphia Student Union
February 28, 2014

In a statement issued by the White House on President Obama’s latest initiative called My Brother’s Keeper, it says: “Boys and young men of color—regardless of where they come from—are disproportionately at risk from their youngest years through college and the early stages of their professional lives.” 

What exactly are young men of color at risk for? We know that they are at risk for being funneled into the school-to-prison pipeline. They are at risk for being put in cages of the prison industrial complex. They are at risk for being shot, murdered, or sexually assaulted by police officers. They are at risk for living in a society that criminalizes, abuses and exploits their bodies, while refusing to invest in their communities and schools. 

The White House goes on to say: “And we need to help these young men stay in school and find a good job– so they have the opportunity to reach their full potential, contribute to their communities and build decent lives for themselves and their families.” 

This plan puts the onus of success on the backs of young people, rather than transforming the systems that oppress young men of color in the first place. When it comes to dismantling systems like the school-to-prison pipeline or the prison industrial complex, we know that it is not about individual effort. Collective organizing is needed to dismantle the systems that continue to oppress young men of color.We seek systemic change that would improve the lives of young men of color for generations to come. We do not expect that systemic change to come from those who manufactured the systems themselves. 

This effort will seek “to make sure that every young man of color who is willing to work hard and lift himself up has an opportunity to get ahead and reach his full potential,” the White House official said

By making the problem seem like young men of color just need to “work hard”, they cover up the real barriers to equal opportunity, such as the racial violence of police brutality that is directed at young black men. It is very difficult to “work hard” when the powers that be are working hard at criminalizing you. They allow the bodies of young men of color to be criminalized when they put the blame on young people rather than changing racist policing polices. 

When society, specifically those in power, tell a young man of color to “lift himself up”, they are telling him to ignore hundreds of years of racial injustice designed to keep people of color down. This blames youth themselves for their disadvantaged position and the inequities they face. This delegitimizes the current systems and long histories of oppression that have led us to where we are today. We must look back at hundreds of years of the criminalization of young black men and disinvestment from communities of color before placing the responsibility of fixing that in the laps of young people. 

Young men of color have in fact been rising up! They’ve been fighting the root causes of systemic oppressions in their lives. We’ve seen young men of color rise up across the nation in remembrance of Trayvon MartinJordan Davis and other victims of racial violence. Youth of color, LGBTQ youth and other impacted youth work together to end the schoolhouse to jailhouse pipeline. Young people know the obstacles they face, because they encounter them daily.

The White House recently released a statement on ending the school-to-prison pipeline. For years, young men of color across the nation have been organizing in coalitions such as the Alliance for Educational Justice, the Dignity in Schools CampaignJourney for Justice and many others. This work has finally received a response from the the government on the growing crisis of the school-to-prison pipeline. Young men of color have been fighting for change in a way that far surpasses the White House’s request for young men of color to “lift themselves up” They have been fighting to lift up their entire communities despite stop & frisk, the prison industrial complex and widespread poverty. 

The President made today’s announcement alongside Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Michael Bloomberg. These two men have been responsible for the closing of hundreds of schools in both Chicago and New York City; the results of which undeniably displaced hundreds of thousands of young black men. The systematic uprooting of young black men from their communities, those which the President claims will be lifted up by these various proposals, is a perfect example of why we cannot expect those in power to make changes that will actually serve to benefit young men of color in our communities. Real change always comes from we who are impacted by injustice and who have the vision to fight for a just world.

Let’s talk about the responsibility of those in power and their abuse of it, before we ask young people to do the same. 

Source

The NSA’s secret role in the U.S. assassination programFebruary 10, 2014
The National Security Agency is using complex analysis of electronic surveillance, rather than human intelligence, as the primary method to locate targets for lethal drone strikes – an unreliable tactic that results in the deaths of innocent or unidentified people.
According to a former drone operator for the military’s Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) who also worked with the NSA, the agency often identifies targets based on controversial metadata analysis and cell-phone tracking technologies. Rather than confirming a target’s identity with operatives or informants on the ground, the CIA or the U.S. military then orders a strike based on the activity and location of the mobile phone a person is believed to be using.
The drone operator, who agreed to discuss the top-secret programs on the condition of anonymity, was a member of JSOC’s High Value Targeting task force, which is charged with identifying, capturing or killing terrorist suspects in Yemen, Somalia, Afghanistan and elsewhere.
His account is bolstered by top-secret NSA documents previously provided by whistleblower Edward Snowden. It is also supported by a former drone sensor operator with the U.S. Air Force, Brandon Bryant, who has become an outspoken critic of the lethal operations in which he was directly involved in Iraq, Afghanistan and Yemen.
In one tactic, the NSA “geolocates” the SIM card or handset of a suspected terrorist’s mobile phone, enabling the CIA and U.S. military to conduct night raids and drone strikes to kill or capture the individual in possession of the device.
The former JSOC drone operator is adamant that the technology has been responsible for taking out terrorists and networks of people facilitating improvised explosive device attacks against U.S. forces in Afghanistan. But he also states that innocent people have “absolutely” been killed as a result of the NSA’s increasing reliance on the surveillance tactic.
One problem, he explains, is that targets are increasingly aware of the NSA’s reliance on geolocating, and have moved to thwart the tactic. Some have as many as 16 different SIM cards associated with their identity within the High Value Target system. Others, unaware that their mobile phone is being targeted, lend their phone, with the SIM card in it, to friends, children, spouses and family members.
Some top Taliban leaders, knowing of the NSA’s targeting method, have purposely and randomly distributed SIM cards among their units in order to elude their trackers. “They would do things like go to meetings, take all their SIM cards out, put them in a bag, mix them up, and everybody gets a different SIM card when they leave,” the former drone operator says. “That’s how they confuse us.”
As a result, even when the agency correctly identifies and targets a SIM card belonging to a terror suspect, the phone may actually be carried by someone else, who is then killed in a strike. According to the former drone operator, the geolocation cells at the NSA that run the tracking program – known as Geo Cell –sometimes facilitate strikes without knowing whether the individual in possession of a tracked cell phone or SIM card is in fact the intended target of the strike.
“Once the bomb lands or a night raid happens, you know that phone is there,” he says. “But we don’t know who’s behind it, who’s holding it. It’s of course assumed that the phone belongs to a human being who is nefarious and considered an ‘unlawful enemy combatant.’ This is where it gets very shady.”
The former drone operator also says that he personally participated in drone strikes where the identity of the target was known, but other unknown people nearby were also killed.
“They might have been terrorists,” he says. “Or they could have been family members who have nothing to do with the target’s activities.”
What’s more, he adds, the NSA often locates drone targets by analyzing the activity of a SIM card, rather than the actual content of the calls. Based on his experience, he has come to believe that the drone program amounts to little more than death by unreliable metadata.
“People get hung up that there’s a targeted list of people,” he says. “It’s really like we’re targeting a cell phone. We’re not going after people – we’re going after their phones, in the hopes that the person on the other end of that missile is the bad guy.”
Full article
This piece is written by Glenn Greenwald & Jeremy Scahill as part of the launch of The Intercept, an independent media platform that’s currently focused on revealing & analyzing Edward Snowden’s leaked documents on the American surveillance state. 

The NSA’s secret role in the U.S. assassination program
February 10, 2014

The National Security Agency is using complex analysis of electronic surveillance, rather than human intelligence, as the primary method to locate targets for lethal drone strikes – an unreliable tactic that results in the deaths of innocent or unidentified people.

According to a former drone operator for the military’s Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) who also worked with the NSA, the agency often identifies targets based on controversial metadata analysis and cell-phone tracking technologies. Rather than confirming a target’s identity with operatives or informants on the ground, the CIA or the U.S. military then orders a strike based on the activity and location of the mobile phone a person is believed to be using.

The drone operator, who agreed to discuss the top-secret programs on the condition of anonymity, was a member of JSOC’s High Value Targeting task force, which is charged with identifying, capturing or killing terrorist suspects in Yemen, Somalia, Afghanistan and elsewhere.

His account is bolstered by top-secret NSA documents previously provided by whistleblower Edward Snowden. It is also supported by a former drone sensor operator with the U.S. Air Force, Brandon Bryant, who has become an outspoken critic of the lethal operations in which he was directly involved in Iraq, Afghanistan and Yemen.

In one tactic, the NSA “geolocates” the SIM card or handset of a suspected terrorist’s mobile phone, enabling the CIA and U.S. military to conduct night raids and drone strikes to kill or capture the individual in possession of the device.

The former JSOC drone operator is adamant that the technology has been responsible for taking out terrorists and networks of people facilitating improvised explosive device attacks against U.S. forces in Afghanistan. But he also states that innocent people have “absolutely” been killed as a result of the NSA’s increasing reliance on the surveillance tactic.

One problem, he explains, is that targets are increasingly aware of the NSA’s reliance on geolocating, and have moved to thwart the tactic. Some have as many as 16 different SIM cards associated with their identity within the High Value Target system. Others, unaware that their mobile phone is being targeted, lend their phone, with the SIM card in it, to friends, children, spouses and family members.

Some top Taliban leaders, knowing of the NSA’s targeting method, have purposely and randomly distributed SIM cards among their units in order to elude their trackers. “They would do things like go to meetings, take all their SIM cards out, put them in a bag, mix them up, and everybody gets a different SIM card when they leave,” the former drone operator says. “That’s how they confuse us.”

As a result, even when the agency correctly identifies and targets a SIM card belonging to a terror suspect, the phone may actually be carried by someone else, who is then killed in a strike. According to the former drone operator, the geolocation cells at the NSA that run the tracking program – known as Geo Cell –sometimes facilitate strikes without knowing whether the individual in possession of a tracked cell phone or SIM card is in fact the intended target of the strike.

“Once the bomb lands or a night raid happens, you know that phone is there,” he says. “But we don’t know who’s behind it, who’s holding it. It’s of course assumed that the phone belongs to a human being who is nefarious and considered an ‘unlawful enemy combatant.’ This is where it gets very shady.”

The former drone operator also says that he personally participated in drone strikes where the identity of the target was known, but other unknown people nearby were also killed.

“They might have been terrorists,” he says. “Or they could have been family members who have nothing to do with the target’s activities.”

What’s more, he adds, the NSA often locates drone targets by analyzing the activity of a SIM card, rather than the actual content of the calls. Based on his experience, he has come to believe that the drone program amounts to little more than death by unreliable metadata.

“People get hung up that there’s a targeted list of people,” he says. “It’s really like we’re targeting a cell phone. We’re not going after people – we’re going after their phones, in the hopes that the person on the other end of that missile is the bad guy.”

Full article

This piece is written by Glenn Greenwald & Jeremy Scahill as part of the launch of The Intercept, an independent media platform that’s currently focused on revealing & analyzing Edward Snowden’s leaked documents on the American surveillance state. 

Workers with disabilities left out of Obama wage planFebruary 1, 2014
Advocates are crying foul after learning that many individuals with disabilities will likely be left out of President Barack Obama’s plan to hike the minimum wage for federal contractors.
Obama said in his State of the Union address earlier this week that he will issue an executive order mandating that federal contractors pay their workers no less than $10.10 per hour.
“In the coming weeks, I will issue an executive order requiring federal contractors to pay their federally-funded employees a fair wage of at least $10.10 an hour — because if you cook our troops’ meals or wash their dishes, you shouldn’t have to live in poverty,” Obama said.
But now advocates say they are being told that the plan excludes people with disabilities who currently earn less than the federal minimum of $7.25 per hour.
Employers — including many with federal government contracts — can obtain special permission from the U.S. Department of Labor to pay those with disabilities less than minimum wage under a provision that’s been in place since the 1930s. Many disability advocacy groups have urged an end to the policy in recent years arguing that it is outdated and unfairly encourages segregation.
It’s unclear how many people earn less than minimum wage as employees of federal contractors, but the AbilityOne Program, which facilitates federal contracts for employers of those with disabilities, says that nearly 50,000 people with disabilities were employed through its programs in 2012, many of whom are believed to be working for subminimum wage.
In a call this week with U.S. Secretary of Labor Tom Perez and Vice President Joe Biden, disability advocates say they were told that the executive order would not alter the ability of approved federal contractors to continue paying people with disabilities less than minimum wage, though such workers could see a slight uptick in pay. That’s because subminimum wage is often calculated as a percentage of the pay that a typical worker would earn for the same job.
Now disability groups are uniting to ask Obama to reconsider.
“This may mean that a worker receiving pennies an hour today may receive a dime as a result of the executive order. Surely we can do better than this,” wrote Jeff Rosen, chairperson of the National Council on Disability, an independent federal agency tasked with advising Congress and the president on disability issues, in a letter to Perez and Obama.
Meanwhile, a separate letter to the administration organized by the Collaboration to Promote Self Determination has support from the Autism Society, the National Down Syndrome Congress, the Autistic Self Advocacy Network and TASH, among others.
“All employees of federal contractors should mean all employees, regardless of disability status,” the letter says.
White House officials declined to offer specifics about the executive order Obama will issue, but said that any changes to the current subminimum wage laws would require action from Congress. Further details about the executive order will be released “in the near future,” an administration spokesman said.
Advocates insist, however, that the president does have the authority to act unilaterally.
“We believe that if the president has the power to require government contractors to pay a higher wage for workers without disabilities that he can do the same for workers with disabilities,” said Ari Ne’eman, president of the Autistic Self Advocacy Network.
Source

Workers with disabilities left out of Obama wage plan
February 1, 2014

Advocates are crying foul after learning that many individuals with disabilities will likely be left out of President Barack Obama’s plan to hike the minimum wage for federal contractors.

Obama said in his State of the Union address earlier this week that he will issue an executive order mandating that federal contractors pay their workers no less than $10.10 per hour.

“In the coming weeks, I will issue an executive order requiring federal contractors to pay their federally-funded employees a fair wage of at least $10.10 an hour — because if you cook our troops’ meals or wash their dishes, you shouldn’t have to live in poverty,” Obama said.

But now advocates say they are being told that the plan excludes people with disabilities who currently earn less than the federal minimum of $7.25 per hour.

Employers — including many with federal government contracts — can obtain special permission from the U.S. Department of Labor to pay those with disabilities less than minimum wage under a provision that’s been in place since the 1930s. Many disability advocacy groups have urged an end to the policy in recent years arguing that it is outdated and unfairly encourages segregation.

It’s unclear how many people earn less than minimum wage as employees of federal contractors, but the AbilityOne Program, which facilitates federal contracts for employers of those with disabilities, says that nearly 50,000 people with disabilities were employed through its programs in 2012, many of whom are believed to be working for subminimum wage.

In a call this week with U.S. Secretary of Labor Tom Perez and Vice President Joe Biden, disability advocates say they were told that the executive order would not alter the ability of approved federal contractors to continue paying people with disabilities less than minimum wage, though such workers could see a slight uptick in pay. That’s because subminimum wage is often calculated as a percentage of the pay that a typical worker would earn for the same job.

Now disability groups are uniting to ask Obama to reconsider.

“This may mean that a worker receiving pennies an hour today may receive a dime as a result of the executive order. Surely we can do better than this,” wrote Jeff Rosen, chairperson of the National Council on Disability, an independent federal agency tasked with advising Congress and the president on disability issues, in a letter to Perez and Obama.

Meanwhile, a separate letter to the administration organized by the Collaboration to Promote Self Determination has support from the Autism Society, the National Down Syndrome Congress, the Autistic Self Advocacy Network and TASH, among others.

“All employees of federal contractors should mean all employees, regardless of disability status,” the letter says.

White House officials declined to offer specifics about the executive order Obama will issue, but said that any changes to the current subminimum wage laws would require action from Congress. Further details about the executive order will be released “in the near future,” an administration spokesman said.

Advocates insist, however, that the president does have the authority to act unilaterally.

“We believe that if the president has the power to require government contractors to pay a higher wage for workers without disabilities that he can do the same for workers with disabilities,” said Ari Ne’eman, president of the Autistic Self Advocacy Network.

Source

Kshama Sawant to deliver Socialist response to State of the Union
January 28, 2014

Tweet your followers, message your friends, and call your neighbors, because Seattle City Council member Kshama Sawant will be delivering tonight’s Socialist response to President Barack Obama’s State of the Union Address!

President Obama is scheduled to start speaking around 6:00 pm (Pacific), with the official GOP response (from WA’s own Representative Cathy McMorris Rodgers!) scheduled to start around 6:45 pm, followed by the Tea Party Caucus response about 20 minutes later. So Sawant will start her Socialist State of the Union around 7:15ish, give or take.

Remember to check out all of The Stranger’s SOTU coverage beginning at 6 pm tonight on Slog and on Twitter, and ending with Sawant’s live address. So much fun!

UPDATE: Turns out Sawant’s address will be streamed from the Seattle Channel’s studios—better video quality for her, fewer bragging rights for us. Ah, well. I’ll update with the new links and embed codes as soon as they are available.

Source

From the #SawantResponse Facebook eventYou will be able to watch it over at her official Seattle City Council website: http://www.seattle.gov/council/sawant/ We expect to begin between 7:30 and 8pm, more details to come!

More than 2,400 dead as Obama’s drone campaign marks five years
January 23, 2014

Five years ago, on January 23 2009, a CIA drone flattened a house in Pakistan’s tribal regions. It was the third day of Barack Obama’s presidency, and this was the new commander-in-chief’s first covert drone strike.

Initial reports said up to ten militants were killed, including foreign fighters and possibly a ‘high-value target’ – a successful first hit for the fledgling administration.

But reports of civilian casualties began to emerge. As later reports revealed, the strike was far from a success. At least nine civilians died, most of them from one family. There was one survivor, 14-year-old Fahim Qureshi, but with horrific injuries including shrapnel wounds in his stomach, a fractured skull and a lost eye, he was as much a victim as his dead relatives.

Later that day, the CIA attacked again – and levelled another house. It proved another mistake, this time one that killed between five and ten people, all civilians.

Obama was briefed on the civilian casualties almost immediately and was ‘understandably disturbed’, Newsweek reporter Daniel Klaidman later wrote. Three days earlier, in his inauguration address, Obama had told the world ‘that America is a friend of each nation, and every man, woman and child who seeks a future of peace and dignity.’

The Pakistani government also knew civilians had been killed in the strikes. A record of the strikes made by the local political administration and published by the Bureau last year listed nine civilians among the dead. But the government said nothing about this loss of life.

Yet despite this disastrous start the Obama administration markedly stepped up the use of drones. Since Obama’s inauguration in 2009, the CIA has launched 330 strikes on Pakistan – his predecessor, President George Bush, conducted 51 strikes in four years. And in Yemen, Obama has opened a new front in the secret drone war.

Lethal strikes
Across Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia, the Obama administration has launched more than 390 drone strikes in the five years since the first attack that injured Qureshi – eight times as many as were launched in the entire Bush presidency. These strikes have killed more than 2,400 people, at least 273 of them reportedly civilians.

Although drone strikes under Obama’s presidency have killed nearly six times as many people as were killed under Bush, the casualty rate – the number of people killed on average in each strike – has dropped from eight to six under Obama. The civilian casualty rate has fallen too. Strikes during the Bush years killed nearly more than three civilians in each strike on average. This has halved under Obama (1.43 civilians per strike on average). In fact reported civilian casualties in Pakistan have fallen sharply since 2010, with no confirmed reports of civilian casualties in 2013.

The decline in civilian casualties could be because of reported improvements in drone and missile technology, rising tensions between Pakistan and the US over the drone campaign, and greater scrutiny of the covert drone campaign both at home and abroad.

The apparent change in targeting  is well demonstrated by comparing a strike carried out by the Bush administration in 2006 and one seven years later under Obama. On October 30 2006 at least 68 children were killed when CIA drones destroyed a madrassa – a religious school – in the Bajaur area of Pakistan’s tribal belt. The attack was reportedly targeting then-al Qaeda second-in-command Ayman al Zawahiri. He escaped. On November 21 last year, drones again targeted a madrassa, this time in Hangu, outside the tribal regions. As many as 80 students were sleeping in the building. But the strike destroyed a specific portion of the building – just one or two rooms – and killed between six and nine people.

In Yemen, however, civilians continue to die in US drone strikes. Last year saw the highest civilian casualty rate since Obama first hit the country in 2009.

Drones were not the first weapon the administration turned to when it started to attack the country. On December 17 2009 a US Navy submarine launched a cluster bomb-laden cruise missile at a suspected militant camp in al Majala, southern Yemen.

The missile slammed into a hamlet hitting one of the poorest tribes in Yemen. Shrapnel and fire left at least 41 civilians dead, including at least 21 children and 12 women – five of them were pregnant. A week earlier President Obama had been awardedthe Nobel Peace Prize. He used his acceptance speech to defend the use of force at times as ‘not only necessary but morally justified’. He warned that ‘negotiations cannot convince al Qaeda’s leaders to lay down their arms’.

Full article

…can we all just talk about this? Where is the outrage?

President Barack Obama: Remove Assata Shakur from the FBI’s “Most Wanted Terrorists” List

Dear President Obama:
We write to urge you to overrule the FBI’s decision to put Assata Shakur, aka Joanne Chesimard, on the “Most Wanted Terrorists List, with $1 Million FBI Reward Offered for Information Leading to Her Capture and Return,” as phrased by the FBI’s May 2, 2013 announcement.  This $1 million combines with the $1 million bounty already offered by New Jersey. We know of no support for the claims by the FBI in making that announcement that Ms. Shakur has used her asylum in Cuba to “promote” “terrorist ideology” and espouse “terrorism.” We ask that the FBI be directed to publicly produce documentation to support these claims, and that until and unless this is done, its officials be directed to withdraw these assertions. The FBI’s accompanying actions should also be immediately withdrawn for the following additional reasons. 
President Obama, commenting on the Boston Marathon bombings last month, you declared “Anytime bombs are used to target innocent civilians, it is an act of terror.”This is consistent with the generally accepted view of terrorism as "the calculated use of violence or threat of violence against civilians for the purpose of intimidation or coercion or changing government policy." There is no evidence that Ms. Shakur has taken part in any violence or threats of violence against civilians to intimidate or coerce changes in government policies. Going back 40 years, the May 1973 incident, which led to her only criminal convictions, was initiated by the New Jersey State Police.  They pulled the vehicle she was in off the highway based on an allegedly defective tail light. This type of police action was consistent with tactics used to harass Black people generally, particularly Black males; and, sometimes provoke incidents particularly against members of Black militant organizations during that period. The loss of life on both sides ensuing from that stop was clearly regrettable; and, we do not intend to retry here her controversial trial and conviction before an all white jury. We know that there were serious questions of fairness sufficient to draw international attention and for Ms. Shakur to be granted political asylum in Cuba nearly 30 years ago, although Cuba has returned some others wanted by U.S authorities.
We believe putting Ms. Shakur’s name on the FBI’s “Most Wanted Terrorist List,” and increasing the $1 million bounty to a total of $2 million, 40 years after the fact, only makes sense in light of recent press reports regarding your administration’s consideration to take Cuba off the U.S. list of nations that allegedly sponsor terrorism – a designation which is so unfounded that it has become an embarrassment to our country.  Opponents of steps towards normalization with Cuba have seized on this aged and disputed case in what we view as a transparent attempt to recast this history into today’s fears, using Assata Shakur as a pawn in their political maneuvering.
The FBI’s participation in this political maneuvering by joining with New Jersey to offer a $2 million bounty is a dangerous act, encouraging someone to try to kidnap her, breaking Cuban law as well as being a violation of International Law. Should the offer be taken seriously by someone, the foreseeable result would be bloodshed, if not also a major international incident.
The FBI’s stated rationale for these actions is also regrettable and dangerous because it equatesradical beliefs favoring fundamental social and economic change, with “terrorism.” These serve to intimidate and chill others who dare to speak out against United States’ domestic and international policies.  In this regard, these actions directly undermine the protections given all citizens under the First Amendment to the United States Constitution.  
Finally, this decision continues to racialize the United States criminal punishment system, a system that since the enslavement of African peoples has targeted Africans and African Americans for harsher punishments than those given particularly to similarly situated whites.  The accusation of terrorism has fallen prey to this continuing travesty of making the color of “crime,” now the color of “terrorism,” black.  One needs only recall the early reports of who was suspected of the Boston Marathon bombing to support this conclusion: the first reports were of a darker-skinned male, possibly African American.  This message scrolled continuously on CNN for a number of hours and then “African American male” was deleted, leaving darker skinned male.  But the alleged perpetrators were far from “darker skinned.” 
In conclusion, we ask that you stand behind the statements made by Attorney General Holder when he became the Attorney General in 2009 in addressing assistant United States attorneys and make these statements applicable to the FBI:  “Your job is in every case, every decision you make, to do the right thing.  Anybody who asks you to do something other than that is to be ignored.”  The FBI’s recent actions are far from the “right thing” for this country and we urge you to reverse them.




Sincerely,


Sign the petition here.
There are currently 3,650 signatures out of the 5,000 signature goal. 

President Barack Obama: Remove Assata Shakur from the FBI’s “Most Wanted Terrorists” List

Dear President Obama:

We write to urge you to overrule the FBI’s decision to put Assata Shakur, aka Joanne Chesimard, on the “Most Wanted Terrorists List, with $1 Million FBI Reward Offered for Information Leading to Her Capture and Return,” as phrased by the FBI’s May 2, 2013 announcement.  This $1 million combines with the $1 million bounty already offered by New Jersey. We know of no support for the claims by the FBI in making that announcement that Ms. Shakur has used her asylum in Cuba to “promote” “terrorist ideology” and espouse “terrorism.” We ask that the FBI be directed to publicly produce documentation to support these claims, and that until and unless this is done, its officials be directed to withdraw these assertions. The FBI’s accompanying actions should also be immediately withdrawn for the following additional reasons. 

President Obama, commenting on the Boston Marathon bombings last month, you declared “Anytime bombs are used to target innocent civilians, it is an act of terror.”This is consistent with the generally accepted view of terrorism as "the calculated use of violence or threat of violence against civilians for the purpose of intimidation or coercion or changing government policy." There is no evidence that Ms. Shakur has taken part in any violence or threats of violence against civilians to intimidate or coerce changes in government policies. Going back 40 years, the May 1973 incident, which led to her only criminal convictions, was initiated by the New Jersey State Police.  They pulled the vehicle she was in off the highway based on an allegedly defective tail light. This type of police action was consistent with tactics used to harass Black people generally, particularly Black males; and, sometimes provoke incidents particularly against members of Black militant organizations during that period. The loss of life on both sides ensuing from that stop was clearly regrettable; and, we do not intend to retry here her controversial trial and conviction before an all white jury. We know that there were serious questions of fairness sufficient to draw international attention and for Ms. Shakur to be granted political asylum in Cuba nearly 30 years ago, although Cuba has returned some others wanted by U.S authorities.

We believe putting Ms. Shakur’s name on the FBI’s “Most Wanted Terrorist List,” and increasing the $1 million bounty to a total of $2 million, 40 years after the fact, only makes sense in light of recent press reports regarding your administration’s consideration to take Cuba off the U.S. list of nations that allegedly sponsor terrorism – a designation which is so unfounded that it has become an embarrassment to our country.  Opponents of steps towards normalization with Cuba have seized on this aged and disputed case in what we view as a transparent attempt to recast this history into today’s fears, using Assata Shakur as a pawn in their political maneuvering.

The FBI’s participation in this political maneuvering by joining with New Jersey to offer a $2 million bounty is a dangerous act, encouraging someone to try to kidnap her, breaking Cuban law as well as being a violation of International Law. Should the offer be taken seriously by someone, the foreseeable result would be bloodshed, if not also a major international incident.

The FBI’s stated rationale for these actions is also regrettable and dangerous because it equatesradical beliefs favoring fundamental social and economic change, with “terrorism.” These serve to intimidate and chill others who dare to speak out against United States’ domestic and international policies.  In this regard, these actions directly undermine the protections given all citizens under the First Amendment to the United States Constitution.  

Finally, this decision continues to racialize the United States criminal punishment system, a system that since the enslavement of African peoples has targeted Africans and African Americans for harsher punishments than those given particularly to similarly situated whites.  The accusation of terrorism has fallen prey to this continuing travesty of making the color of “crime,” now the color of “terrorism,” black.  One needs only recall the early reports of who was suspected of the Boston Marathon bombing to support this conclusion: the first reports were of a darker-skinned male, possibly African American.  This message scrolled continuously on CNN for a number of hours and then “African American male” was deleted, leaving darker skinned male.  But the alleged perpetrators were far from “darker skinned.” 

In conclusion, we ask that you stand behind the statements made by Attorney General Holder when he became the Attorney General in 2009 in addressing assistant United States attorneys and make these statements applicable to the FBI:  “Your job is in every case, every decision you make, to do the right thing.  Anybody who asks you to do something other than that is to be ignored.”  The FBI’s recent actions are far from the “right thing” for this country and we urge you to reverse them.

Sincerely,

Sign the petition here.

There are currently 3,650 signatures out of the 5,000 signature goal. 

That, in general, has long been Obama’s primary role in our political system and his premiere, defining value to the permanent power factions that run Washington. He prettifies the ugly; he drapes the banner of change over systematic status quo perpetuation; he makes Americans feel better about policies they find repellent without the need to change any of them in meaningful ways. He’s not an agent of change but the soothing branding packaging for it.

As is always the case, those who want genuine changes should not look to politicians, and certainly not to Barack Obama, to wait for it to be gifted. Obama was forced to give this speech by rising public pressure, increasingly scared US tech giants, and surprisingly strong resistance from the international community to the out-of-control American surveillance state.