Wednesday, September 17, 2014

The NSA Gives Private Communications Of Americans To Israel

How is this possibly acceptable?  I'm grateful to Edward Snowden for all that he has exposed.  Our police state is running amok - and spying on our own citizens for a foreign power.  I don't care if that foreign power is your favorite country in the world, it is still a foreign power.

Among his most shocking discoveries, he told me, was the fact that the N.S.A. was routinely passing along the private communications of Americans to a large and very secretive Israeli military organization known as Unit 8200. This transfer of intercepts, he said, included the contents of the communications as well as metadata such as who was calling whom.
Typically, when such sensitive information is transferred to another country, it would first be “minimized,” meaning that names and other personally identifiable information would be removed. But when sharing with Israel, the N.S.A. evidently did not ensure that the data was modified in this way.
Mr. Snowden stressed that the transfer of intercepts to Israel contained the communications — email as well as phone calls — of countless Arab- and Palestinian-Americans whose relatives in Israel and the Palestinian territories could become targets based on the communications. “I think that’s amazing,” he told me. “It’s one of the biggest abuses we’ve seen.”
It appears that Mr. Snowden’s fears were warranted. Last week, 43 veterans of Unit 8200 — many still serving in the reserves — accused the organization of startling abuses. In a letter to their commanders, to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and to the head of the Israeli army, they charged that Israel used information collected against innocent Palestinians for “political persecution.” In testimonies and interviews given to the media, they specified that data were gathered on Palestinians’ sexual orientations, infidelities, money problems, family medical conditions and other private matters that could be used to coerce Palestinians into becoming collaborators or create divisions in their society.
This is just sickening.  And don't doubt that the same kind of extortionate behavior (blackmail, etc.) can and will be brought to bear on people in the United States.  Anyone parroting the line that Edward Snowden should have "gone through the proper channels" instead of leaking is a fool or worse.

Friday, September 12, 2014

23 Years Of American Military Involvement In Iraq

The 23 year long war
Fortunately, there were no better uses for the money, oil prices plunged as a result, and there have been zero repercussions.
The 23 year long war by digby 1991: 1998: 2003: 2014: I'm getting some blowback for suggesting that this argument about congressional authorization is a dodge, but I honestly believe that it's i…

Right?

Give That Man A Nobel Prize!


Obama Widens Endless War
Via Greg Mitchell, Philip Gourevitch has a lengthy reaction to Obama's ISIS speech at the New Yorker.  At least he remembers Libya (beyond Benghazi!!1!) and how great that has turned out.
The President never mentioned Libya. That was the last time he attempted to wage a war on the spur of the moment, getting into it, at first, as a rescue mission to prevent a predicted massacre, then escalating fast and hard—but remaining always in the air—in support of rebel ground forces whom we barely knew, and whom we understood even less, with no clear end but total regime change, and with no commitment whatever beyond the first rush of the revolution. That war then spilled over into Mali, and turned inward in Libya, so that today the country is an absolute catastrophe—far worse off than when NATO joined its troubles, with Tripoli in the hands of forces much like ISIS.
We never seem to be short of money for bombs or training killers.  Why are schools, trains, and sewers so hard to pay for?

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

OMG Bomb Syria 2.0

"Let's Bomb Syria" Version 2 Is Working; Why Did Version 1 Fail?
If at first you don't succeed, try try again. Last year it was dubious sarin attacks. This year ISIS is coming to kill us all in our beds. And once again the media is complicit in hyping a threat and amplifying the war drums. 

Unfortunately, this time Anericans seem to be buying it.  We never learn, do we?
Polls taken almost exactly one year apart show a remarkable reversal in US opinion regarding the prospect of air strikes on Syria. Last year, in a poll conducted September 6-8, (pdf) there were a number of questions regarding action in Syria. By a margin of 59% to 39%, Americans overwhelmingly said they thought Congress should not pass the then pending resolution authorizing "military action for 60 to 90 days" that also banned use of US troops in a combat role. Further, 55% of those polled stated that even if Congress passed the resolution, they opposed US air strikes in Syria while only 43% favored them. In the hypothetical of no Congressional authorization, opposition to the air strikes rose to 71% with only 27% favoring them. Just one year later, those numbers have reversed. In a poll conducted September 4-7, 65% of Americans now say they support expanding US air strikes against the Sunni insurgents into Syria, while only 28% oppose them. Checking the crosstabs, support for the strikes jumps to 74% for Republicans but still is 60% for Democrats.

Jo Anne Simon Wins Assembly District 52 (That's Us) Primary

Congratulations to Jo Anne Simon (and campaign manager Paul Nelson) on last night's victory after a hard fought campaign.

Jo Anne will be a terrific advocate for our neighborhoods in Albany and continue to provide the sort of constituent attention we've come to expect from our retiring Assemblywoman Joan Millman and Eileen Dugan before her.

I also want to congratulate Pete Sikora for running a campaign on issues that are near to my heart like income inequality, early childhood education and livable streets.  This was a race where we had two excellent candidates to choose from.

At the state level, I'm glad we were able to send Governor Cuomo a message.  Teachout/Wu ran a shoestring campaign and still picked up more than 35% of the vote.  In AD52, Teachout trounced Governor Cuomo by 6,629 to 3,587 (hat tip to Gatemouth).

Primary season is now history.  I will gladly vote for Jo Anne Simon in November, and grudgingly cast a vote for Cuomo/Hochul as well.  Let's hope that Governor Cuomo takes the right lesson from this primary.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Democratic Primary Endorsements!

A reminder to vote today in the NY democratic primary! I'll be voting for Pete Sikora for Assembly and the Teachout/Wu ticket for statewide office. I hope you'll join me. See the link below for a longer version including links to candidate websites.


http://firstandcourt.blogspot.com/2014/09/democratic-primary-endorsements.html?m=1


Typos courtesy of my iPhone

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Foreign Powers Buy Influence at Think Tanks - NYTimes.com

Here's a crazy thought. How about enforcing the law?
"The money is increasingly transforming the once-staid think-tank world into a muscular arm of foreign governments' lobbying in Washington. And it has set off troubling questions about intellectual freedom: Some scholars say they have been pressured to reach conclusions friendly to the government financing the research.The think tanks do not disclose the terms of the agreements they have reached with foreign governments. And they have not registered with the United States government as representatives of the donor countries, an omission that appears, in some cases, to be a violation of federal law, according to several legal specialists who examined the agreements at the request of The Times.As a result, policy makers who rely on think tanks are often unaware of the role of foreign governments in funding the research."
My favorite trick is when the hawks in Congress appropriate money to foreign groups, such as the Iraqi National Congress, or shady opposition groups in Iran, who then funnel the money back into lobbying the US government and propagandizing in the US.  Like a perpetual motion machine for foreign adventurism.