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Archpriest Vsevolod Chaplin has praised Russian authorities for not caving in to pressure from abroad, saying granting asylum to US whistleblower Edward Snowden would help prevent the establishment of a ‘global electronic prison camp’.

 

It is encouraging news that Russia is demonstrating its independence in this case as it has in many others, despite the pressure” said the head of the Holy Synod’s Department for Relations between the Church and Society.

Vsevolod Chaplin added that the Snowden saga has been broadly discussed both on the domestic and international level, with Russia’s position potentially bolstering its image as a country upholding “the true freedom of ideals.”

The Russian cleric further argued that Snowden’s revelations confirmed the existence of a pernicious problem discussed by Orthodox Christians for many years – “the prospective of a global electronic-totalitarian prison camp”.

First they get people addicted to convenient means of communication with the authorities, businesses and among each other. In a while people become rigidly connected to these services and as a result the economic and political owners of these services get tremendous and terrifying power. They cannot help feeling the temptation to use this power to control the personality and such control might eventually be much stricter that all known totalitarian systems of the twentieth century,” Interfax news agency quoted Chaplin as saying.

The church official added that in his view true democracy remained an unreachable ideal.

Any political system fixes the domination of a few over many. In the twentieth century the harshest forms of such political power used brute force, but now they are using soft power, through total data collecting and through soft persuasion of people, first through slogans but then through legal acts,” Chaplin explained. He noted that currently the soft power system was promoting such topics as declaring the western political system as the only viable option, making religion a marginal trend, and sidelining both criticism of market fundamentalism and leftist political platforms.

Chaplin urged Russian authorities to defend “real freedom, the freedom from the global ideological dictate and from the electronic prison camp.”

The cleric also offered a possible solution – the development of its own electronic communications system that would be independent from foreign-based mediums. “The nation has the brains for this and I hope we will also have a will,” Chaplin declared.

Russia is currently considering Edward Snowden’s request for temporary asylum and the former NSA contractor still remains in the transit zone of the Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport.

The Russian Justice Ministry on Tuesday sent a formal response to a letter from US Attorney General, who assured Moscow that Snowden would not face the prospect of death or torture if handed over to the United States.

The Russian ministry did not provide the details of its reply to the press.

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U.S. President Barack Obama laughs at the White House Correspondents Association annual dinner in Washington

 

Is anyone really surprised that Attorney General Eric Holder said that the Justice Department followed the rules in seizing two months of telephone records from 20 Associated Press journalists to investigate a CIA leak aas he recused himself from a FBI investigation?

The Obama era has been one of the worst for domestic civil liberties. It has become the status quo for law enforcement at every level to spy on Americans. Los Angeles police track tens of thousands of cars daily. Seattle police read text messages without search warrants. California police look at old e-mails the same way. Internet companies say they will protect users’ privacy, but have policies that still give police what they want.

Which brings us to the Justice Department’s subpeona of the AP’s phone records for an investigation into who leaked details about a failed terror attack to the country’s largest news organization. The DOJ informed the AP on Friday that it had obtained the phone records, creating an uproar in media circles. But no one should be surprised.

“This administration is as untransparent as the Bush administration—if not more,” Dana Priest, Washington Post investigative reporter told the new released documentary, War on Whistleblowers, which traces how the Bush and Obama White Houses have declared war on a litany of national security and Pentagon leakers. “They have really tried very hard to prosecute people who they believe have leaked information.”

“It does have an intimidating effect—not just on leakers, but on the process, on us doing our job” said Michael Isikoff, NBC investigative reporter, told the filmmakers. “And I think the impact is the American public learns less and American democracy is poorer rather than richer as a result of these prosecutions.”

The Dismal Obama Years

Civil libertarians have had very few victories under Obama. In March, a federal District Court blocked the FBI from ordering telecom companies to turn over customer data and blocked FBI gag orders on this domestic spying program, although the government will appeal. And last fall, a federal court also suspended a section of a major defense bill that gave the government permission to arrest people who were suspected of speaking with alleged terrorists, which included the journalists who sued. However, another federal court reinstated that provision pending appeal.

Moreover, even Obama’s latest pledge to try to close the military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, has been seen as disingenuous—and not because Republicans in Congress say they will block that move—but because he hasn’t issued an executive order to do it.
These developments underscore that Obama barely differs from the George W. Bush when it comes to the ‘War on Terrorism.’ While Obama has not continued some tactics used by his predecessor, such as CIA black sites and torture, he’s gone further than Bush with targeted assassinations and with expanding the domestic national security state.

Let’s list Obama’s assault on civil liberties including newest attack on whistleblowers.

1. War on whistleblowers. The seizure of AP phone records is just the latest twist in a deepening war on media whistleblowers. Obama has revived the century-old Espionage Act to prosecute more then double the number of whistleblowers than all prior presidents combined. And he has draped these actions in secrecy. For example, the DOJ told the AP last Friday that it had already taken the phone records with one line in a letter.

2. War on domestic dissent. The Atlantic’s Wendy Kaminer, writinga powerful piece after Obama’s second inaugural said, “Kelly Clarkson’s musical paean to liberty seemed more sincere.” She lists five areas where the Obama is worse that Bush on civil liberties. “They include, but are probably not limited to, summary detention and torture; the prosecution of whistleblowers; surveillance of peaceful protesters; the criminalization of journalism and peaceful human-rights activism; and extensive blacklisting that would have been the envy of Joe McCarthy; and secrecy about a shadow legal system that makes the president’s ‘We the people’ trope seem less inspirational than sarcastic.”

3. Expanded surveillance state. In May 2011, Obama signed a renewal of several of the Patriot Act’s most controversial segments, including the use of ‘ roving wiretaps,’ the government’s expanded access to business records, and the ‘lone wolf’ provision, which allows surveillance of individuals not affiliated with any known terrorist organization. And last December, Obama signed five-year extension of the FISA Amendments Act, which was temporarily blocked in federal court but the administration is appealing it.

4. No legal recourse. Obama has claimed power not merely to detain citizens without judicial review but to execute them if they join America’s enemies abroad, about which The New York Times said, “It is extremely rare, if not unprecedented, for an American to be approved for targeted killing.” The Bush administration never claimed this right, but last fall The Washington Post reported the administration was formalizing a process for approving kills or captures and initially the CIA will not be bound by the new rules.”

5. Expanded military tribunals. Military justice systems do not fall under the U.S. Constitution. In late 2011, Obama signed a bill codifying the administration’s stance on military commissions and detention of terror suspects that extended Bush war on terror doctrine.

But this is not even the full list of the civil liberties abuses under Obama. His response to the Wikileaks case and prosecution of Bradley Manning and lack of transparency on his national security portfolio despite campaign pledges, pose an undeniable conclusion: Obama, the former constitutional law professor, is no friend of civil liberties.

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sealteam6The families of US commandos killed in a 2011 downing of a helicopter in eastern Afghanistan have blamed Washington for the attack and the ensuing cover-up, a report says.

The White House is responsible for the shooting down and subsequent cover-up of the Navy Chinook helicopter carrying 38 people onboard including 17 members of SEAL Team Six in August 2011, the Washington Times quoted the parents of the deceased on May 9.

The family members said the US President Barack Obama’s administration and other White House officials “put a target on their backs” after they announced Osama bin Laden’s killers as SEAL Team Six.

Taliban militants also received leaked information from the US government regarding the landing site of the helicopter, which made the chopper vulnerable to attack, the families added.

“[The militants] were positioned in a tower in a building at the perfect place and the exact time to launch an attack on the CH-47 when it was most vulnerable,” said Doug Hamburger, father of Sergeant Patrick Hamburger who perished onboard the aging Chinook helicopter.


The fallen soldiers were flown to the landing site with a Vietnam-era Chinook helicopter rather than with their customary Special Forces choppers.

Family members also questioned the sudden replacement of seven Afghan commandos onboard the helicopter just before the takeoff.

Moreover, the Obama administration and US Central Command have come under heavy criticism for failing to conduct a thorough investigation into the attack, with family members calling on the government to account for the cover-up.

“It was not a thorough investigation. It’s a shame that we as parents have to demand a congressional investigation to find out answers,” Hamburger said.

The death toll marks the biggest single incident for foreign forces since the US-led invasion of Afghanistan in 2001.

The United States invaded Afghanistan in 2001 under the pretext of combating terrorism. The offensive removed the Taliban from power, but insecurity continues to rise across the country despite the presence of thousands of US-led soldiers.

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New bus lines connecting the West Bank with Israel have sparked controversy. Despite claims they are regular lines, Israeli media believe they were set up specifically for Palestinians, in order to segregate them from Jewish settlers.

Leaflets in Arabic have lately been spread around the West Bank Palestinian villages, calling on their inhabitants to use the new bus lines, which will go from Eyal crossing near the city of Qalqilya to Israel, Ynetnews reported.

The official reason for introducing new bus lines is that the existing “mixed” ones are overcrowded and conflict-prone. Around 30,000 Palestinians work in Israel and have to travel there every day.

Plans to put them on separate bus lines were first announced in November 2012, following several episodes of police taking Palestinian laborers off buses from Tel Aviv to the West Bank. The police acted on complaints from Jewish settlers, who claimed that Palestinians posed a security threat by riding the same buses as them.

The plan for separate buses for Palestinians was condemned by Israeli human rights group B’Tselem: “The attempt at bus segregation is appalling, and the current arguments about ‘security needs’ and ‘overcrowding’ must not be allowed to camouflage the blatant racism of the demand to remove Palestinians from buses,” executive director Jessica Montell said.

Transport officials have denied accusations they were aiming to segregate Palestinians from Israelis: “The Transportation Ministry is forbidden from preventing any passenger from boarding any line of public transportation, nor do we know of a directive to that effect. Instating these lines was done with the knowledge and complete agreement of the Palestinians,” the ministry said in a statement, according to Ynet.

 

However, drivers interviewed by the same source confessed that de facto segregation is inevitable. “We are not allowed to refuse service and we will not order anyone to get off the bus, but from what we were told, starting next week, there will be checks at the checkpoint, and Palestinians will be asked to board their own buses,” said a driver working for Afikim, a company with a government tender to serve West Bank settlements.

Much of the web discourse on the news compared the move with similar practices in history, particularly the ‘Jim Crow’ laws that provided legal basis for segregation in the US between 1896 and 1965. “I believe this is worse than conditions in Montgomery that Rosa Parks felt intolerable in the 1950s,” says Middle East expert Pillip Weiss, the founder and co-editor of Mondoweiss.net.

Controversial survey results published by Haaretz newspaper four months ago revealed a majority of Israeli Jews believe they are living in an apartheid state.

 

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marshallA former US National Security Agency officer says the 9/11 investigative author Philip Marshall and his children were killed in a “black ops hit” by the CIA, dismissing the suicide hypothesis.

Wayne Madsen said in a show organized by Kevin Barrett, a founder of The Muslim-Jewish-Christian Alliance, that he had reached the conclusion after a weeklong investigation.

Marshall was afraid of being silenced for his revelations about 9/11, Madsen said, noting that a side door the investigator never used was wide open when his dead body was found.

Along with Marshall, 14-year-old Micalia and her 17-year-old brother Alex were also found dead.

Madsen suggested that Marshall, who had observed many covert operations, had decided to shed light on mysterious issues in the last years of his life.

Marshall believed the former US President George Bush had pulled off the 9/11 attack to foment a government coup. In his fourth book, he was supposed to disclose blockbuster information.

According to Madsen, the crime scene was cleaned up by professionals, and there was also “an SUV, license plate undetermined, with an array of communication antennas bristling from the roof” outside the building.

In a recent interview with Press TV, Barrett said, “Of course, here in the US, where national security community we’re talking about could be both Israel and the US because essentially the US community has been taken over by the Israeli community since 9/11.”

“It seems that Philip Marshall had gotten his hands on some kind of explosive information as he [Madsen] put it. And, he was planning to publish this in his next book,” he added.

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The people of Libya struggle to regain what they have lost

In October 2011 the leader of the green revolution in Libya, Colonel Gaddafi, was brutally murdered by mercenary thugs backed by the West, after an eight-month Nato bombing campaign that devastated the country. A year on, that ‘victory’ for imperialism is looking increasingly hollow, with the puppets in Tripoli barely able to hold a government together for a week at a time or exercise any authority in the country, and the puppet army increasingly sidelined by rival warring militia.

Meanwhile, the green resistance, supposedly defunct, is making itself felt in ways that the media strive to ignore but Washington dares not.

The bitter truth for imperialism is that memories of Libya’s four decades of economic and social progress remain evergreen in the minds of millions of her citizens, despite all the lies pumped out about ‘Gaddafi the monster’. This means that the resistance fighters have been able to regroup and build up their attacks, strong in the knowledge of the widespread popular sympathy for their actions.

The inconvenient truth for the West is that the resistance, for which the last rites were read a full year ago, never really went away, and is now back with a vengeance.

Bani Walid: hero city of the green revolution

Symptomatic of the enduring loyalty and patriotism of most Libyans has been the refusal of the citizens of the northern city of Bani Walid to bow the head before the quisling government in Tripoli, instead preserving their town as a bastion of sanity whilst much of the country is torn apart by imperialist subversion and tribal conflicts. When the country’s legitimate leadership was brutally ousted by Nato, the citizens formed a Council of Elders to conduct the city’s affairs.

Desperate to reassert their own waning political authority, the puppets decided to make an example of the unacceptably loyal citizens of Bani Walid. The pretext for what was clearly intended as punitive expedition by the puppet army against its own citizens (the very act of which Colonel Gaddafi was so falsely accused) was the demise of one Omran Shaaban, the traitor ‘credited’ with having apprehended Colonel Gaddafi, delivering him at once into the hands of his psychopathic murderers.

Shaaban met his own richly-deserved end in disputed circumstances, after suffering injury when refusing to stop at a city checkpoint in Bani Walid. Even though this imperialist hireling fittingly expired in a Parisian hospital bed, his ‘martyrdom’ was deemed a sufficient pretext for the puppets to issue a decree, Resolution 7, giving the puppet army exceptional powers to use all and any means necessary to take full control of the city.

Even within the puppet General National Council (GNC) itself, voices were raised to protest that such a decree provides carte blanche for genocide. In vain did Bani Walid’s Council of Elders protest that the decree was illegitimate and unconstitutional. Indeed, one of the council’s own members was subsequently kidnapped by rats and taken off to their hole in Misrata to face an uncertain fate.

For weeks the puppet army, flanked and frequently outpaced by the ‘unofficial’ militias which led the assault on Bani Walid, combined indiscriminate shelling of civilians with kidnapping, assassination and massacre, terrorising the population and blocking supplies of food, medicine and other essentials. Doctors complained that militias were stopping vehicles carrying medical supplies, personnel and oxygen from getting through.

Yet despite weeks of heavy pounding by mortars, supplemented by gas bombs and white phosphorous, many of the inhabitants of Bani Walid refused to abandon their homes. One eye witness told Russia Today that “Many armed groups came to the main entrance of Bani Walid and they asked the people to get out of the city. We have decided not to go because we want to defend our rights, our homes, and our families.” (7 October 2012)

Those who could endure no more and were obliged to flee then found their return blocked by armed gangs. Many families found themselves stranded on desert roads with no nourishment or protection. Yet Bani Walid still fights on.

Uncle Sam cuts out the middle man

Having failed to fashion itself a puppet government and army capable of implementing the imperialist agenda, imperialism is putting increasing reliance on going direct to the militias to do their dirty work. And it is notable that one of the militia bands most prominent in the counter-revolutionary violence, Libya Shield, has been publicly courted by the White House since it helped rescue the surviving members of the US mission when it came under attack in Benghazi.

The Independent reported that a CIA-led embassy delegation “travelled to Benghazi to meet and recruit fighters directly from the Libyan Shield, a powerful umbrella organisation of militiasGiven complaints from the acting defence minister in the puppet government that “his ministry had no control over Libyan Shield forces from Misrata that had seized Bani Walid, a former Gaddafi loyalist town, and were blocking displaced residents from returning”, it is clear that Washington has only contempt for the government and its ‘official’ army, hoping instead to combat the resistance forces with hired guns. (11 November 2012)

It is equally clear that, for all the pious talk about overcoming tribal divisions and taking the gun out of politics, the US is doing all it can to play on those divisions, hoping thereby to suppress the patriotic resistance forces. When Russia tried to get a draft statement through the UN calling for a peaceful end to the Bani Walid siege, the US blocked the move.

Washington is deluded in its hope that hired militia guns will do any better than the ‘official’ government puppets when it comes to burying the resistance. Despite the near-total blackout on the massive war crimes being committed daily in Bani Walid, and the umpteenth triumphal announcement of the death of Colonel Gaddafi’s son Khamis (again) and capture of his information minister (again), there is no hiding the confusion and panic now besetting imperialism as yet another ‘easy’ warmongering adventure goes so badly wrong.

If it can’t beat Libya’s tiny population into subservience, the Pentagon must be anguishing, how the hell can it prevail against Syria and Iran?

Resistance on the rise

Over the summer, the number of attacks which may reasonably be attributed to the resistance forces kept multiplying despite the severest repression, giving the lie to media accounts which present all the violence as simply tribal squabbling (with the colonial overlord just there to help ‘keep the peace’).

On 10 August, eight resistance fighters were sprung from the Al Fornaj prison in Tripoli after a coordinated attack, the third such attack since Gaddafi’s overthrow. On 18 August, the resistance detonated a car bomb outside a hotel in Tripoli, targeting a vehicle being used by Benghazi security personnel. On 19 August, there were more car bombs in Tripoli, targeting the interior ministry and an interrogation centre.

On 23 August, in a development reminiscent of the escalating ‘green on blue’ violence which is currently warming the tails of the imperialist soldiery in Afghanistan, Abdelmenom Al Hur, spokesman for the Supreme Security Committee told journalists that the resistance had infiltrated many official security units and secured a whole barracks full of heavy armaments.

In September, the airport in Benghazi, which the US had been using as a drone base, had to close after the resistance kept shooting at the drones.

One website reported some more recent activities, including a near-miss assassination attempt against the military leader of the so-called ‘Transitional Council of Cyrenaica’, Hamid al-Hassi, an escape attempt from Koufiya prison in Benghazi and an RPG attack on the Supreme Security Committee in Tripoli. (libyaagainstsuperpowermedia.com, 8 November 2012)

Most damaging of all to imperialist prestige so far has been the attack on the US mission in Benghazi on 11 September, taking the lives of ambassador Stevens and three other colonial overlords.

At first, the Obama line was that the attack was a spontaneous protest sparked by the dissemination of the crassly islamophobic film Innocence of Muslims – a protest that got out of hand! However, the line then switched: it had been a terrorist attack put together by al Qaeda. This seemed, if anything, still lesscredible, given the sterling service that group so recently rendered to US imperialism by mobilising the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group against Gaddafi. Similar objections can be raised against the candidacy of the salafists, no less fervent opponents of the green revolution.

The simplest explanation might turn out to also be the truest: that the attack was carried out by the resistance itself. It certainly sounds like a professional job. An eye witness wounded in the attack reported that about 125 men moved in with machine guns, RPGs, anti-aircraft weapons and grenades, moving systematically through the complex.

And whilst Obama struggled to get his story straight for the rest of the world, the hapless puppets told a plainer tale. Libya’s ‘president’ el-Megariaf, Libya’s ambassadors to the UN and Washington, and the then ‘prime minister’ Abdurrahim El Keib, all began by blaming Gaddafi loyalists for the attack, only subsequently scrambling to tuck in behind the Nato line.

Whether the resistance can add this to their heroic record of anti-imperialist achievements or whether it turns out to be another spectacular own-goal, the end result is the same: a slap in the face for US imperialism, leaving it confused, humiliated and increasingly divided in its counsels.

The same is true for many other anti-puppet actions, which it is not possible at this stage to ascribe with certainty to the resistance. If imperialism’s own puppets fall prey to the chaotic tribal divisions which their masters have themselves sown, then so be it. The imperialists yet again lift a rock to crush their enemies, only to drop it on their own feet.

Thieves fall out

When, on 26 October, General Petraeus’s girlfriend chose to regale the public with gems from her pillow talk with the now disgraced head of the CIA, she kicked a hornets’ nest, revealing sharp conflicts within imperialist ruling circles.

“Now, I don’t know if a lot of you have heard this but the CIA annex had actually taken a couple of Libyan militia members prisoner, and they think that the attack on the consulate was an effort to try get these prisoners back, so that’s still being vetted … The facts that came out today is that the ground forces there at the CIA annex, which is different from the consulate, were requesting reinforcements. They were requesting the – it’s called the CINC’s (Commander-in-Chief’s) In Extremis Force – a group of Delta Force operators, our very, most talented guys we have in the military. They could have come and reinforced the consulate and the CIA annex that were under attack …

“It is a tragedy that we lost an ambassador and two other government officials, and there was a failure in the system because there was additional security requested … It’s frustrating to see the sort of political aspect of what’s going on with this whole investigation … the challenge has been the fog of war, and the greater challenge is that it’s political hunting season, and so this whole thing has been politicised.”

Standing by her man in a declaration that her man might have preferred to have remained unsaid, Paula Broadwell babbled that the “challenging thing” for Petraeus was having to keep quiet about what was really going on: “So he’s known all of this – they had correspondence with the CIA station chief in Libya, within 24 hours they kind of knew what was happening.”

Yes, it must be hell having to run the CIA and tell ever-taller tales on behalf of a system of global exploitation and domination that is going so spectacularly wrong. Ms Broadwell’s guileless exposure of the warm fraternal relations in place between the Oval office, the Pentagon and Foggy Bottom affords us a welcome glimpse of the stresses and strains obtaining within ruling circles as crisis-stricken imperialism wades deeper into yet another swamp of its own making. May it sink without trace.

Victory to the green resistance!
Death to the rats! 
Death to the king rat: imperialism!

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free-bbA Dallas grand jury has brought charges against Anonymous spokesman Barrett Brown stemming from the 2011 hack of intelligence vendor Stratfor Global Intelligence.

Brown isn’t charged with committing the hack; just with possessing and transmitting credit card numbers that were stolen in the incident.

He has been in prison since he was arrested in dramatic and public fashion three months ago after posting a threatening video to YouTube. Brown was talking with acquaintances during a Sept. 12 TinyChat session when the feds burst in and took him away. The chat session was later posted to the internet.

The Anonymous spokesman was charged the next day with threatening a federal officer.

This time the charges are are related to a different incident: the 2011 Stratfor hack where credit card numbers and internal e-mail messages were stolen.

According to the grand jury indictment, dated Tuesday, Brown posted a link to a zipped version of the documents stolen in the Stratfor hack on Christmas day 2011 — that counts as trafficking in “stolen authentication features,” the indictment claims. He’s also charged with possessing stolen credit card numbers, Card Verification Values, and other information related to those credit card numbers.

Brown, 31, has been in custody since his Sept. 12 arrest, the U.S. Department of Justice said Friday in a press release announcing the 12-count indictment. He could face a maximum of 15 years in prison if convicted on the most serious of these charges.

The self-proclaimed Anonymous spokesman said he was expecting to face fraud charges after his apartment was raided back in March. He mentioned them in a long, rambling video posted to YouTube the day on the same day he was arrested in September. “I bring in no money. I have $25,000 I brought in the last year from this fucking book deal. that’s it.” he said. “A fucking fraud charge for a fucking writer activist who has no fucking money.”

Later in the video, Brown railed against FBI Agent Robert Smith, saying that he was going to “ruin” Smith’s life “and look into his fucking kids.” The Anonymous activist said he was angry that feds were contemplating obstruction of justice charges against his mother.

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