The Ghosts Of Robespierre

MAN'S ENDLESS MARCH TO REALIZATION

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Number of Syrian refugees tops three million mark, UN says

newsdock:


"Syria’s intensifying refugee crisis will today surpass a record three million people," the UN’s refugee agency said in a statement, adding that the number did not include hundreds of thousands of others who fled without registering as refugees. Less than a year ago, the number of registered Syrian refugees stood at two million, UNHCR said, pointing to reports of "increasingly horrifying conditions inside the country" to explain the surge. The increasingly fragmented conflict raging in Syria has claimed more than 191,000 lives since erupting in March 2011. In addition to the refugees, the violence has also displaced 6.5 million people within the country, meaning that nearly 50 percent of all Syrians have been forced to flee their homes, UNHCR said.
Source: AFP

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Slain Iraqis 'of no threat' to Blackwater guards

newsdock:


The 14 Iraqi civilians mowed down by four guards with the Blackwater private security firm were of no threat and “were not legitimate targets,” a prosecutor said Wednesday, as their high-profile trial reached its climax. The four, who were guarding a US diplomatic convoy when they opened fire, are accused of shooting dead the unarmed Iraqis, including women and children, who were desperately trying to flee for their lives on September 16, 2007 in Baghdad’s Nisour Square. The hail of gunfire, which also wounded 18 people, exacerbated Iraqi resentment toward Americans and was seen by critics as an example of the impunity enjoyed by private security firms on the US payroll in Iraq. At the close of the two-and-a-half-month trial in a federal court in Washington, US Attorney Anthony Asuncion asked simply what had motivated the men, now former Blackwater employees, to fire on the terrified civilians.
Source: AFP

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thepeoplesrecord:

ICREACH: How the NSA built its own secret Google
August 27, 2014

The National Security Agency is secretly providing data to nearly two dozen U.S. government agencies with a “Google-like” search engine built to share more than 850 billion records about phone calls, emails, cellphone locations, and internet chats, according to classified documents obtained by The Intercept.

The documents provide the first definitive evidence that the NSA has for years made massive amounts of surveillance data directly accessible to domestic law enforcement agencies. Planning documents for ICREACH, as the search engine is called, cite the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Drug Enforcement Administration as key participants.

ICREACH contains information on the private communications of foreigners and, it appears, millions of records on American citizens who have not been accused of any wrongdoing. Details about its existence are contained in the archive of materials provided to The Intercept by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden.

Earlier revelations sourced to the Snowden documents have exposed a multitude of NSA programs for collecting large volumes of communications. The NSA has acknowledged that it shares some of its collected data with domestic agencies like the FBI, but details about the method and scope of its sharing have remained shrouded in secrecy.

ICREACH has been accessible to more than 1,000 analysts at 23 U.S. government agencies that perform intelligence work, according to a 2010 memo. A planning document from 2007 lists the DEA, FBI, Central Intelligence Agency, and the Defense Intelligence Agency as core members. Information shared through ICREACH can be used to track people’s movements, map out their networks of associates, help predict future actions, and potentially reveal religious affiliations or political beliefs.

The creation of ICREACH represented a landmark moment in the history of classified U.S. government surveillance, according to the NSA documents.

“The ICREACH team delivered the first-ever wholesale sharing of communications metadata within the U.S. Intelligence Community,” noted a top-secret memo dated December 2007. “This team began over two years ago with a basic concept compelled by the IC’s increasing need for communications metadata and NSA’s ability to collect, process and store vast amounts of communications metadata related to worldwide intelligence targets.”

The search tool was designed to be the largest system for internally sharing secret surveillance records in the United States, capable of handling two to five billion new records every day, including more than 30 different kinds of metadata on emails, phone calls, faxes, internet chats, and text messages, as well as location information collected from cellphones. Metadata reveals information about a communication—such as the “to” and “from” parts of an email, and the time and date it was sent, or the phone numbers someone called and when they called—but not the content of the message or audio of the call.

ICREACH does not appear to have a direct relationship to the large NSA database, previously reported by The Guardian, that stores information on millions of ordinary Americans’ phone calls under Section 215 of the Patriot Act. Unlike the 215 database, which is accessible to a small number of NSA employees and can be searched only in terrorism-related investigations, ICREACH grants access to a vast pool of data that can be mined by analysts from across the intelligence community for “foreign intelligence”—a vague term that is far broader than counterterrorism.

Data available through ICREACH appears to be primarily derived from surveillance of foreigners’ communications, and planning documents show that it draws on a variety of different sources of data maintained by the NSA. Though one 2010 internal paper clearly calls it “the ICREACH database,” a U.S. official familiar with the system disputed that, telling The Intercept that while “it enables the sharing of certain foreign intelligence metadata,” ICREACH is “not a repository [and] does not store events or records.” Instead, it appears to provide analysts with the ability to perform a one-stop search of information from a wide variety of separate databases.

In a statement to The Intercept, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence confirmed that the system shares data that is swept up by programs authorized under Executive Order 12333, a controversial Reagan-era presidential directive that underpins several NSA bulk surveillance operations that monitor communications overseas. The 12333 surveillance takes place with no court oversight and has received minimal Congressional scrutiny because it is targeted at foreign, not domestic, communication networks. But the broad scale of 12333 surveillance means that some Americans’ communications get caught in the dragnet as they transit international cables or satellites—and documents contained in the Snowden archive indicate that ICREACH taps into some of that data.

Legal experts told The Intercept they were shocked to learn about the scale of the ICREACH system and are concerned that law enforcement authorities might use it for domestic investigations that are not related to terrorism.

“To me, this is extremely troublesome,” said Elizabeth Goitein, co-director of the Liberty and National Security Program at the New York University School of Law’s Brennan Center for Justice. “The myth that metadata is just a bunch of numbers and is not as revealing as actual communications content was exploded long ago—this is a trove of incredibly sensitive information.”

Brian Owsley, a federal magistrate judge between 2005 and 2013, said he was alarmed that traditional law enforcement agencies such as the FBI and the DEA were among those with access to the NSA’s surveillance troves.

“This is not something that I think the government should be doing,” said Owsley, an assistant professor of law at Indiana Tech Law School. “Perhaps if information is useful in a specific case, they can get judicial authority to provide it to another agency. But there shouldn’t be this buddy-buddy system back-and-forth.”

Jeffrey Anchukaitis, an ODNI spokesman, declined to comment on a series of questions from The Intercept about the size and scope of ICREACH, but said that sharing information had become “a pillar of the post-9/11 intelligence community” as part of an effort to prevent valuable intelligence from being “stove-piped in any single office or agency.”

Using ICREACH to query the surveillance data, “analysts can develop vital intelligence leads without requiring access to raw intelligence collected by other IC [Intelligence Community] agencies,” Anchukaitis said. “In the case of NSA, access to raw signals intelligence is strictly limited to those with the training and authority to handle it appropriately. The highest priority of the intelligence community is to work within the constraints of law to collect, analyze and understand information related to potential threats to our national security.”

Full article

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Pennsylvania Judge Sentenced For 28 Years For Selling Kids to the Prison System

Mark Ciavarella Jr, a 61-year old former judge in Pennsylvania, has been sentenced to nearly 30 years in prison for literally selling young juveniles for cash. He was convicted of accepting money in exchange for incarcerating thousands of adults and children into a prison facility owned by a developer who was paying him under the table. The kickbacks amounted to more than $1 million.

(Source: azspot)

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I’ve seen a homeless man told that he is a “piece of sh*t” by an officer in uniform. I’ve seen 12-year-old girls taken into custody because they had dark skin and the wrong color t-shirt. We’ve had our house raided by mistake in a sting operation gone awry with officers throwing people to the ground and ripping one woman’s shirt nearly off. We are in the middle of a case right now where officers were responsible for breaking a young child’s leg. And in one of the most tragic instances, we saw a mentally-ill homeless man shot to death as he hid behind a metal chair. Those are the bad stories. And they are real. Having somewhat double vision now, I understand why 70% of white folks trust the police and about 70% of black folks don’t. We’ve seen different things out our windows.
Give Us New Eyes (via azspot)

(via azspot)

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Germany steps up fight against far right after neo-Nazi murders

newsdock:


Germany has drafted legislation to help prevent a repeat of a racist murder spree by a neo-Nazi cell in 2011, giving a bigger role to federal prosecutors and allowing courts to focus more on xenophobic motives. The killings shocked Germany after going undetected for more than a decade and coming to light only by chance in late 2011. The draft law, approved by Chancellor Angela Merkel’s cabinet on Wednesday, will implement recommendations made by a parliamentary panel after the murders of eight Turks, a Greek and a policewoman in Germany between 2000 and 2007. “Overall it will become easier to justify the responsibility of the federal prosecutor,” the government said in a statement.
Source: Reuters

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The Water Cure - The New Yorker

zombiecuddle:

eush:

The scale of abuses in the Philippines remains unknowable, but, as early as March, rhetoric like Root’s was being undercut by further revelations from the islands. When Major Littleton Waller, of the Marines, appeared before a court-martial in Manila that month, unprecedented public attention fell on the brutal extremities of U.S. combat, specifically on the island of Samar in late 1901. In the wake of a surprise attack by Filipino revolutionaries on American troops in the town of Balangiga, which had killed forty-eight of seventy-four members of an American Army company, Waller and his forces were deployed on a search-and-destroy mission across the island. During an ill-fated march into the island’s uncharted interior, Waller had become lost, feverish, and paranoid. Believing that Filipino guides and carriers in the service of his marines were guilty of treachery, he ordered eleven of them summarily shot. During his court-martial, Waller testified that he had been under orders from the volatile, aging Brigadier General Jacob Smith (“Hell-Roaring Jake,” to his comrades) to transform the island into a “howling wilderness,” to “kill and burn” to the greatest degree possible—“The more you kill and burn, the better it will please me”—and to shoot anyone “capable of bearing arms.” According to Waller, when he asked Smith what this last stipulation meant in practical terms, Smith had clarified that he thought that ten-year-old Filipino boys were capable of bearing arms. (In light of those orders, Waller was acquitted.)

I was just reading another piece that mentioned the Balangiga massacre. If you’ve never heard of it (and you probably haven’t — hell, I’m from here and I didn’t hear about this until I was in college), here’s Wikipedia to the rescue:

The Balangiga massacre was an incident in 1901 in the town of the same name during the Philippine–American War. It initially referred to the killing of about 48 members of the US 9th Infantry by the townspeople allegedly augmented by guerrillas in the town of Balangiga on Samar Island during an attack on September 28 of that year. In the 1960s Filipino nationalists applied it to the retaliatory measures taken on the island. This incident was described as the United States Army’s worst defeat since the Battle of the Little Bighorn in 1876. Filipinos regard the attack as one of their bravest acts in the war.

There has been much heated discussion regarding the number of Filipino casualties, for which there are no reliable documentary records. Gen. Jacob H. Smith, who ordered the killing of every male over ten years old during the retaliatory campaign, was subject to court-martial for “conduct to the prejudice of good order and military discipline”. Reprimanded but not formally punished, Smith was forced into retirement from the service because of his conduct.

The Hardcore History episode on this, “The American Peril” is really really good and IIRC several hours long. Covers a large part of the Spanish American war too so you get to see the full transition from isolationism to imperialism. If anyone else likes spending their time listening to audiobook-length military histories I can’t recommend it enough.

They didn’t teach us about the Phillipines or Cuba in school here. Wonder why.