Archive for CIA

News, Views & Muse

FacebookTwitterRedditDiggStumbleUponTumblrLinkedInPinterestEmailShare

I was a bit worried that there might not be enough news to talk about with Congress going on a 5 1/2 week recess but, then again, it's not like they do anything when they're in session.

But the drama that unfolded yesterday as they all attempted to leave DC was the perfect snapshot to illustrate the comedy of errors that the 113th Congress is. Adding to the absurdity of it all was Boehner's contention that President Obama, against whom the Speaker is filing a lawsuit over his use of executive orders, should use his executive powers to do something to fix the "crisis" at the border that the House is too gridlocked to do itself!

As Steve Benen explains,

The new House Republican leadership team held a brief press conference yesterday following a closed-door caucus meeting, fielding a few questions, all of which related to the humanitarian crisis at the U.S./Mexico border. One exchange between a reporter and House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) stood out for me.

QUESTION: Just a follow up on that: are you still committed to having a vote before you leave? And, given the concerns within your own conference about the costs of this border bill, can you pass something?

BOEHNER: Listen, I, I’d like to act. We’ve got a humanitarian crisis on the border, and that has to be dealt with. But the president clearly isn’t going to deal with it on his own, even though he has the authority to deal with it on his own.

Wait a second. Hold on. Boehner has spent months shouting, sometimes literally, about President Obama’s out-of-control power grabs. As the Speaker and his caucus see it, Obama no longer gives a darn about separation of powers, and he’s embraced a tyrannical model in which the president is king. Boehner is so outraged by Obama’s willingness to act unilaterally that the Speaker is literally going to take the White House to court.

Hypocrisy is the definition of today's Republican Party!

Liar is the word that comes to mind when I think of CIA director John Brennan. Back in March when Senate Intelligence Committee Chair Dianne Feinstein took to the floor to declare that the CIA had hacked into computers used by committee staffers, Brennan denied it vehemently, saying

"As far as the allegations of the CIA hacking into Senate computers, nothing could be further from the truth. We wouldn't do that. I mean, that's that's that's just beyond the, the uh, the scope of reason."

Liar! Cue the New York Times.

An internal investigation by the Central Intelligence Agency has found that its officers improperly penetrated a computer network used by the Senate Intelligence Committee to prepare its damning report on the C.I.A.'s detention and interrogation program.

The report by the agency’s inspector general found that C.I.A. officers created a fake online identity to gain access on more than one occasion to computers used by members of the committee staff, and tried to cover their movements as they rooted around the system, according to an official with knowledge of the investigation’s findings.

A statement issued Thursday morning by a C.I.A. spokesman said that John O. Brennan, the agency’s director, had apologized to the two senior members of the intelligence committee and would set up an internal accountability board to review the issue. The statement said that the board, which will be led by former Senator Evan Bayh, an Indiana Democrat, could recommend “potential disciplinary measures” and “steps to address systemic issues.”

Brennan apologized. How nice! A resignation would be better.

But the saddest news of the day comes from the Middle East where Israel and Hamas are battling it out, and the Palestinians trapped in the Gaza strip are paying dearly with their lives. A 72-hour cease fire was agreed on yesterday, and the peace held for a couple of hours before rockets began flying again. Both sides blame the other.

Maysoon Zayid is a Palestinian American, a comedian and my friend, and she joined me on the show this morning to talk about the mess. Although we agreed that the horrific pictures emerging from the burned out buildings in Gaza are turning hearts and minds against the Israeli tactics, Maysoon suggested checking out Humanize Palestine instead, as every one of those approximately 1500 Gaza civilians who've been killed in recent days was a living, breathing person with families and friends who loved them. They're not just numbers, they're human beings. And the killing has got to stop.

Maysoon is doing a show Thursday, August 7 at the Comic Strip in NY, with the proceeds from this show being donated to the Palestinian Children's Relief Fund .

It's the Big Brown Comedy Hour is back featuring NYC's top Arab, Indian, Iranian, Pakistani and other "Brown" comedians. This is a VERY special spot! I will be filming my spot for a huge TV special AND *The proceeds from this show will be donated to the PCRF - Palestine Children's Relief Fund

This show features Dean Obeidallah, Maysoon Zayid, Ramy Youssef , Sabrina Jalees, Eman Morgan, Nader Uthman, Manvir Singh, Atheer Yacoub, Ashwin Bhandari, Feraz Shere, Tony Dabas and more.
All the Big Brown Comedy Hour's have sold out in the past, so don't wait to purchase your tickets! It will be a great night of Brown comedy.
Thursday, August 7, 8:00 PM at The Comic Strip Comedy Club
1568 2nd Ave at 82nd Street
New York, NY 10028
Tickets: http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/761447 or call 800-838-3006

 

After all the talk of war and bombs, I needed some music to soothe the savage beast. Good thing it's Friday, as we wrap up each week with a blast from the past for Flashback Friday! Today, we had a double-header.

I'd already planned on playing back the January 1997 interview I did with Patty Griffin. It was her first LA radio appearance, as she had just released her debut album, Living With Ghosts. The radio station was KSCA fm 101.9 in Los Angeles, and it would be on the air for only about a month longer, as Gene Autry was getting ready to sell it. I wanted to get Patty on the air before then, so she came in for an interview and performance while in LA to film a music video. What a treat that was!

Nicole Sandler and daughter Alison with Patty Griffin in 2008

Nicole Sandler and daughter Alison with Patty Griffin in 2008

Earlier this morning, I saw a piece on MSNBC about a developer's purchase of the Nashville building that houses the legendary recording RCA Studio A, and their plans to tear it down to build condos. I learned that Ben Folds has held the lease on the studio for about a decade, and thought today would be good time to also play Ben Folds Five's first Los Angeles radio appearance - at that same station with me in late 1995, just after the release of their self-titled debut album.

Ben Folds Five with Nicole Sandler at KSCA/Los Angeles c. 1996

Ben Folds Five with Nicole Sandler at KSCA/Los Angeles c. 1996

Here's the segment about the studio. I hope he's able to keep it open.

So, it was a double header for Flashback Friday today. That's ok, as there are lots of savage beasts to soothe these days. Hopefully, that'll hold us over for the weekend.

I'll be back to take on a new week on Monday, radio or not...

FacebookTwitterRedditDiggStumbleUponTumblrLinkedInPinterestEmailShare

Breaking News: Benghazi Attack Leader Captured By U.S.

FacebookTwitterRedditDiggStumbleUponTumblrLinkedInPinterestEmailShare

Benghazi attack pic(AFP/Getty Images)

Oh, no. Now what will all those Republican Benghazi conspiracy theorists going to do? WWTGS -- What Will Trey Gowdy Say?

According to the Washington Post:

U.S. Special Operations forces captured one of the suspected ringleaders of the terrorist attacks in Benghazi in a secret raid in Libya over the weekend, the first time one of the accused perpetrators of the 2012 assault has been apprehended, according to U.S. officials.

The officials said Ahmed Abu Khattala was captured Sunday near Benghazi by American troops, working alongside the FBI, following months of planning, and was now in U.S. custody “in a secure location outside Libya.” The officials said there were no casualties in the operation, and that all U.S. personnel involved have safely left Libya.

This looks bad. Bad if you're a Republican who was counting on the Benghazi special congressional committee, the eighth committee to witch-hunt the terrible Libyan tragedy, to find something to tag onto Obama and Hillary Clinton. One of the major talking points is that Obama, who promised right away to seek out and find the culprits, has done nothing since the event nearly two years ago. Nobody had been apprehended. This was a GOP talking point on the lack of interest in the Benghazi attacks and the President's concern.

So much for that asshat argument. Obama said he'd take out Osama Bin Laden. He did. He said he'd bring to justice those responsible for Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other American deaths in this Benghazi attack, and the round-up has begun.

Now what do you have to say for yourself, Speaker Boehner on your special committee? So Obama's been doing nothing, eh?

What have you been doing? Your job is to run the Congress. Where's the jobs bill, your alternative to the ACA, the long-term unemployment extension, the immigration reform bill, minimum wage increases, etc?

Seems if anyone's asleep at the wheel, it's the House of Representatives. You're the Speaker, Boehner. Maybe you should be doing the people's work like you're being paid for and let the President do his. He's showing results.  You? Not so much. You saw what the conservatives in Virginia's 7th district did to your right hand man, Eric Cantor. Don't think it can't happen to you.

FacebookTwitterRedditDiggStumbleUponTumblrLinkedInPinterestEmailShare

Torture worse than waterboarding: Inside the Senate report on CIA interrogations

FacebookTwitterRedditDiggStumbleUponTumblrLinkedInPinterestEmailShare

bush torture larger

Did you know that waterboarding was the "least worst" method of torture used on high-value detainees by the CIA under the Bush administration's watch?

My dear friend and one of the best investigative reporters out there, Jason Leopold, went on Nicole Sandler's radio show just before my weekly spot. He's a tough act to follow, especially when he reveals what the corporate "news" media won't touch with a ten-foot ad buy. Which is why you haven't heard about the "not legally authorized" torture "techniques" that will likely turn many American stomachs once details are finally (if ever) made public.

Now, because Jason has made such good and plentiful use of the FOIA (Freedom of Information Act), he is being called a "FOIA terrorist" and has had to deal with considerable blowback from some very powerful people in very powerful places. IMHO, the reason they feel so "terrorized" is that they're scared to death of Jason's reporting and the truths he brings to light.

Here are a few excerpts from Jason's Al Jazeera America piece:

A still-classified report on the CIA's interrogation program established in the wake of 9/11 sparked a furious row last week between the agency and Senate Intelligence Committee chairwoman Dianne Feinstein. Al Jazeera has learned from sources familiar with its contents that the committee's report alleges that at least one high-value detainee was subjected to torture techniques that went beyond those authorized by George W. Bush's Justice Department.

Two Senate staffers and a U.S. official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the information they disclosed remains classified, told Al Jazeera that the committee's analysis of 6 million pages of classified records also found that some of the harsh measures authorized by the Department of Justice had been applied to at least one detainee before such legal authorization was received. They said the report suggests that the CIA knowingly misled the White House, Congress and the Justice Department about the intelligence value of detainee Zain Abidin Mohammed Husain Abu Zubaydah when using his case to argue in favor of harsher interrogation techniques. [...]

Even before accessing the documents, committee staffers received crucial information in a briefing from former FBI agent Ali Soufan in early 2008, according to Al Jazeera’s sources. Soufan — who now runs a private security and intelligence consultancy — told the staffers that he had kept meticulous notes about the methods used by a psychologist under CIA contract to interrogate Abu Zubaydah at a CIA black site in Thailand after his capture in Pakistan in March of 2002. Soufan's account, the staffers say, shows that torture techniques were used on Abu Zubaydah even before some had been sanctioned as permissible by the Bush administration. [...]

Two Senate staffers told Al Jazeera that the Panetta documents question the Bush administration claims about the efficacy of Abu Zubaydah’s torture, and the staffers noted that some of the techniques to which he was subjected early in his captivity had not yet been authorized.

Jason explained that the previously undisclosed torture methods made waterboarding seem like the least ghastly practice by comparison... and perhaps that's why the public focus was (intentionally) on waterboarding. See the shiny, inhumane keys? Now move along.

You can hear Jason talk about these revelations in his own words here (podcast). And please read his entire Al Jazeera post here. Where you will not read, hear, or see any references to Jason Leopold's reporting is in the corporate "mainstream" media. Maybe we can all use our social media skills to force the press into covering his work. Wouldn't that be novel?

torture

FacebookTwitterRedditDiggStumbleUponTumblrLinkedInPinterestEmailShare

"Well, Senator Feinstein, how does it feel?"

FacebookTwitterRedditDiggStumbleUponTumblrLinkedInPinterestEmailShare

Senator Feinstein Dianne Feinstein CIA

Today's Los Angeles Times letters to the editor, Senator Feinstein Hypocrisy Edition, because our voices matter:

Re "CIA denies Senate spying claim," March 12

Anyone who fails to appreciate the supreme irony of Sen. Dianne Feinstein's (D-Calif.) righteous indignation over the CIA's alleged spying on and undermining of the Senate Intelligence Committee (of which Feinstein is chair) has not been paying attention.

For years, she has been one of the intelligence community's most steadfast champions, deflecting criticism of the surveillance state, attacking whistle-blowers and justifying nearly every abuse. Her tenure at the spy community's ultimate oversight body, tasked with safeguarding the public interest, has seen that institution perform as something between a star chamber and a cheerleading squad.

Only when the monster she helped create might have turned against her does she seem to remember something called the Constitution. Is it any wonder that Congress is held in utter contempt by the people?

Mark McCormick

Los Angeles

***

In January, a Times news article described Feinstein as "a key defender of the National Security Agency's data tracking program." Now, just two months later, Feinstein is riled up about the national security apparatus, but only because she believes it turned a jaundiced eye on Senate staffers.

Well, Senator Feinstein, how does it feel?

Frankly, I believe she and her supporters should be ashamed of her hypocrisy. Of course, this includes The Times, which endorsed Feinstein in 2012, stating clearly that "endorsing her for another term is an easy call."

Paul Marsden

Garden Grove

***

Feinstein's committee found documents showing that President Bush's torture program was far more barbaric than previously revealed and far less effective than claimed. This controversy is really about the CIA hiding potential crimes from Feinstein's committee.

CIA Director John Brennan endorsed torture and rendition under Bush. As director, he has kept the lid on the truth. He should be fired.

The Senate Intelligence Committee report needs to be declassified, and if the U.S. won't pursue possible war criminals, the International Criminal Court should.

But under Bush, the U.S. refused to be under the court's jurisdiction. The Obama administration has since renewed a relationship with the court, but Senate ratification is needed for the ICC to do what no one in this country has the stomach to do.

It is the president's job to ask the Senate for ratification. Shame on us all if he does not.

Richard Green

San Clemente

FacebookTwitterRedditDiggStumbleUponTumblrLinkedInPinterestEmailShare

Maddow Demonstrates How Clueless The CIA Really Is

FacebookTwitterRedditDiggStumbleUponTumblrLinkedInPinterestEmailShare

InspectorClouseauw254h204

When there's something strange in your neighborhood, who you gonna call? Well if you're in the real world. it's not Ghostbusters. And it's certainly not the CIA. You'd have more luck turning on CNN or MSNBC.

Last night Rachel Maddow eviscerated the CIA for a number of hugely important blunders -- their ignorance of major events that affected our nation and our security. In case you missed the royal Rachel M. dress-down, here's a sampling:

It's hard to believe this organization whose middle letter "I" stands for intelligence could be so inept. So out of the loop. So totally ineffective. Oh, and did I leave out, so costly. For 2013, the CIA alone was budgeted for $14.787 billion.

From Rachel's report, it would have been cheaper by $14.787 billion to just turn on CNN. What's that cost, 30 bucks a month as part of basic cable?

How we spend our tax money is important. And what we do in the name of national security is paramount. So this report of incompetence is shocking.

And so is this little tidbit that was reported this morning on Talking Points Memo:

The CIA has launched an internal review after members of Congress complained that the CIA may have been monitoring Senate Intelligence Committee staffers who worked on a report about the agency's detention and interrogation program, according to reports.

This review by the CIA of a review by Congress reminds me of this classic moment:

I'd like to reassure those congressional members who think the CIA has been spying on them that even if they are, Congress has nothing to worry about. It's the same CIA who's been failing at competency reviews for years. They're more Casablanca's Inspector Renault than TV's Inspector Columbo. Now if it was CNN or MSNBC's Rachel Maddow who was running a congressional investigation, perhaps then they should be shaking in their boots.

The GOP have a new catchword, one they're using about Obama and his foreign policy. It's "feckless."

feck·less: lacking initiative or strength of character; irresponsible; "a feckless mama's boy"
synonyms: useless; worthless; incompetent; inept; good-for-nothing

Maybe the GOP neo-cons and their puppets are using the right word, but just in the wrong context.

FacebookTwitterRedditDiggStumbleUponTumblrLinkedInPinterestEmailShare

James Clapper, Director of National Intelligence, As Angry As The Birds

FacebookTwitterRedditDiggStumbleUponTumblrLinkedInPinterestEmailShare

pigs fly

"When pigs fly," so the expression goes. That's when something greatly anticipated will happen. Is it that time now?

It may be right around the corner, according to U.S. National Intelligence Director, James Clapper. In case the name isn't all that familiar, he's the guy who lied to Congress on whether or not the NSA was spying on all of us. Still need a little more intel on Director Clapper?

Washington Post:

"Director Clapper continues to hold his position despite lying to Congress under oath about the existence of bulk data collection programs in March 2013," the letter reads. "Asking Director Clapper, and other federal intelligence officials who misrepresented programs to Congress and the courts, to report to you on needed reforms ... is not a credible solution."

Sometimes you just don't know who you can trust. I have been a fan of the game, Angry Birds for a few years now.
AngryBirdsw392h244
I love that game. I find it's addictive. In case you haven't tried it, the app is simply you launch angry birds via slingshot to topple the structures that house the pigs. Kind of like the Tea Party launching their assaults on human rights housed within the confines of Capitol Hill.

Sadly though, whether we like it or not, Director Clapper is looking for a scapegoat for his incompetence on the job. After all, on his watch, Edward Snowden took off with millions of data bits on US spying. And Clapper doesn't want to bear the brunt of his failure and the breach on his watch, so he's tossing around a few Angry Bird bombs on his own, trying to take down the pigs around him.

His latest Angry Birds? He's livid that Edward Snowden revealed this cockamamie scheme by the NSA to perform unwarranted spying on us through a smartphone game.

So self-admitted liar Clapper has gone on the offense. Instead of copping to the infringement on our personal lives that most certainly has no justification (unless it's mandatory for all spies, foreign and domestic to play Angry Birds) the Dapper Mr. Clapper has proffered this, according to The Daily Beast:

Thanks to NSA leaker Edward Snowden, the world now knows that America’s intelligence agencies snoop on people through smartphone apps like Angry Birds. The U.S. intelligence community is now saying that this story, along with another disclosure of the U.S. “black budget,” has placed spies in grave danger.

So, the prevaricating NSA director expects us to rise up in arms and become angry with Snowden -- kind of his attempt to make us angry birds for the intelligence community. All this because some hotshot at the spy agency sold Clapper and his cohorts on a scheme to spy on us via a playful video game.

Clapper is taking this distraction from his own truncated dance with the truth quite seriously. He's sounding the "call to arms" by all the Angry Birds.

During a Senate hearing, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper asserted that the damage done by Snowden “includes putting the lives of members or assets of the intelligence community at risk as well as our armed forces, diplomats, and citizens.” He made this claim in his opening statement on behalf of the leaders of the CIA, the FBI, the Defense Intelligence Agency and the National Counter-Terrorism Center.

I think the only one hurt by this reveal could be Rovio -- the company that made billions when producing this game. But that hasn't stopped the Director from pulling back his slingshot, loading it with an angry bird and firing it at the pigs.

Clapper provided no evidence or specifics to back up the charge in his public testimony. But a senior U.S. intelligence official told The Daily Beast that two specific Snowden disclosures led to the new assessment. This official pointed to the documents published this week by the New York Times about the NSA’s efforts to hack into popular smart phone apps like Angry Birds.

So, perhaps the alarms that Clapper's sounding off are just distractions. Or even worse, he's actually telling the truth. But sadly, once you lie before Congress, it's very hard to be taken seriously -- especially when you're dealing with Angry Birds, feisty pigs and a director who looks much more like the latter and is behaving like the former.

Do we believe him?:

James Clapper

 

Or him?:

angry bird pig

FacebookTwitterRedditDiggStumbleUponTumblrLinkedInPinterestEmailShare