Manning Not Guilty of Aiding the Enemy

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I guess we don’t consider Osama bin Ladin our enemy any longer, since we won the war on terror… or something. But apparently, the hundreds of thousands of reports that whining little shitbag Bradley “Call me Breanna” Manning released being found in bin Ladin’s compound doesn’t qualify as “aiding the enemy,” because a military judge acquitted that piece of crap of that charge.

A military judge on Tuesday found Pfc. Bradley Manning not guilty of “aiding the enemy” for his release of hundreds of thousands of military and diplomatic documents to WikiLeaks. But she convicted him of multiple counts of violating the Espionage Act, stealing government property and other charges that could result in a maximum sentence of 136 years.

In delivering the mixed verdict, the judge, Col. Denise Lind, pulled back from the government’s effort to create a precedent that press freedom specialists had warned could have broad consequences for the future of investigative journalism about national security in the Internet era.

Never mind that the documents Manning released were found in Osama bin Ladin’s compound.

Never mind that thanks to Manning and his buddy Assmange, scores of innocent Afghans were threatened by the Taliban and several were kidnapped in retaliation for cooperating with coalition forces.

Never mind that this sniveling, simpering, blubbering douche canoe revealed a list of critical infrastructure – both America’s and our allies’ – to our enemies.

No…. he’s not guilty of aiding the enemy!

Just what is it that will make Manning guilty of aiding the enemy? Does it involve a tonguebath of Ahmadinejad’s taint? Does it involve a pair of knee pads and some chapstick as he slurps up every drop of Kim Jong Un’s tiny little schlong?

Just what is it that will make Manning’s arbitrary and intentional release of sensitive information that wound up in bin Ladin’s murderous paws be considered aiding the enemy?

This is not about investigative journalism. Nothing that Manning stole or Assmange released could be considered journalism. They released the names of sources, information about special forces, a list of critical infrastructure entrusted to us by our allies, descriptions of those who cooperated with coalition forces in Afghanistan and a bunch of personal communications between State Department employees that were no one’s business but theirs.

Manning didn’t do this out of any sense of honor. He did it, because he didn’t feel important and thought he’d show the Army just how important he could be. He did it because he was a little drug addicted asshole.

(1:39:03 PM) Manning: i cant believe what im confessing to you :’(
(1:40:20 PM) Manning: ive been so isolated so long… i just wanted to be nice, and live a normal life… but events kept forcing me to figure out ways to survive… smart enough to know whats going on, but helpless to do anything… no-one took any notice of me

[…]

(1:43:59 PM) Manning: im self medicating like crazy when im not toiling in the supply office (my new location, since im being discharged, im not offically intel anymore)

[…]

(02:40:26 PM) Manning: i mean, i was never noticed
(02:41:10 PM) Manning: regularly ignored… except when i had something essential… then it was back to “bring me coffee, then sweep the floor”
(02:42:24 PM) Manning: i never quite understood that
(02:42:44 PM) Manning: felt like i was an abused work horse…

He did it because he is a whining shitwad, who was apparently too good for the military, because they didn’t give him the respect to which he felt he was entitled.

Shove the self-important shitstick into a dank cell and let him stay there for a long time.

Diminutive Violin for Snowden

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I haven’t blogged about Edward Snowden in a while. The former NSA contractor admitted to having released classified documents that detail the agency’s activities and spying against… well… everyone, and now he’s stuck in Moscow’s Sheremetyevo Airport, looking for asylum wherever possible.

First he ran away to Hong Kong and released the information to world media. Then he hopped a plane to Moscow, hoping to keep running to whatever nation will have him. Now, he’s upset and is accusing the United States, and particularly Barack Obama, of making him a “stateless person.”

Snowden’s requests for asylum have been outright rejected by several nations, while others hemmed and hawed that he’d have to get there first to fill out the proper paperwork. Russian President Vladimir Putin said Russia was willing to offer Snowden asylum, but that he’d have to quit disclosing US classified information (and probably hand over any other intel to the FSB).  Snowden wasn’t happy with that deal, so he withdrew his asylum request, and is currently festering at Sheremetyevo with nowhere to go.

I have a few thoughts here.

Snowden obviously did what he thought was right. I’m not a fan of my government spying on me either, and I’m disturbed by these revelations.  People deserve to know that their own government is spying on them.

That said… Snowden has repeatedly attempted to paint himself as bigger and more important than he was.  He claimed to have been a highly-paid government contractor with the authorization and ability to access anyone’s phone conversations and read anyone’s emails. Fact of the matter is he was a low-level contractor, making $122,000  per year. I seriously doubt he was “authorized” to do anything of the sort.

As for authorization to access people’s communications? No low-level contractor with a few months on the job has that authorization.

Any analyst at any time can target anyone…. Where those communications will be picked up depends on the range of the sensor networks and the authorities that that analyst is empowered with. Not all analysts have the ability to target everything. But I, sitting at my desk, certainly had the authorities to wiretap anyone: From you or your accountant, to a federal judge, to even the president if I had a personal email.

Dude, come on. Really? Is anyone really stupid enough to believe that with all the safeguards and bureaucratic snags in place at any government agency, a low-level contractor with nothing but a GED would have the authorization to access the President’s email? Good luck with that. If you believe that, I have this bridge to sell you…

Not only that, but a diplomatic cover overseas with the CIA? For a high school drop out with not even an Associate’s degree? You’ve GOT to be friggin’ kidding me!

And there’s this little matter of the Army Special Forces, covered by the guys at This Ain’t Hell.

He claims to be 29 now, so, in 2003 when he says he went through SF training, he was 19. He also didn’t have a high school diploma – so those two things disqualified him right there. He says that he “began a training program to join the Special Forces” which could mean anything really – since his training would have begun at BCT (Basic Combat Training), just the wording of that statement makes me think that he didn’t get anywhere near Camp Mackall. Looking at his picture, I don’t think I can imagine him on the 5 mile airport run at Mackall with a ruck packed with bricks.

Then he goes to tell how he thought he would be helping people, but the Army seemed more interested in killing Arabs. That makes me think that he was headed to a civil affairs job and he’s calling it “Special Forces” as we’ve seen phonies do in our pages. And yeah, in basic training they kinda teach new soldiers how to kill people who are intent on killing the new soldiers – hence the name “basic combat training”.

Overall, my impression of Snowden is that he’s one of those fringe freaks, who blindly takes anything out of the mouth of Ron Paul as gospel. He figured that since Ron Paul and his acolytes claim that everyone hates America and our imperialist tendencies, that he would be welcomed as a hero who fought for liberty in many countries – especially ones who are adversarial toward the United States.

But it didn’t work out that way. Like Ron Paul, Snowden appears to be woefully ignorant of political, diplomatic and foreign policy realities, and trying to kiss up to nations that don’t like the US wouldn’t quite work out the way he planned.

Obama didn’t make Edward Snowden stateless. The only person who made Edward Snowden stateless was Edward Snowden.  He made a decision to release classified information, and expected to be welcomed anywhere in the world with open arms, because the US (according to Paulian rhetoric) is so reviled by everyone because of our foreign policy.

As far as I’m concerned, Snowden needs to take some responsibility for the decision he made. If he truly believed it was correct to release classified information to the world, he needs to understand that decision comes with consequences. And he needs to be able to accept those consequences, which he doesn’t appear to be willing to do, preferring to snuggle up to our adversaries in hopes that the enemy of his enemy will be his friend.

As far as I’m concerned, if he’s proud of what he did, then he needs the conviction to stand up proudly in the United States and answer the charges against him.

That’s what I call real courage.

 

So Let’s Say It Was a Mistake…

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Let’s say that the government accidentally and mistakenly mined data on millions of Americans. Let’s say they meant to focus on some suspects in foreign intelligence cases but wound up targeting innocent citizens suspected of nothing and accessing their telephone and email communications. That’s exactly what officials are claiming transpired when NSA “mistakenly” intercepted communications of innocent Americans.

Ret. Adm. Dennis Blair, who served as President Obama’s DNI in 2009 and 2010, told NBC News that, in one instance in 2009, analysts entered a phone number into agency computers and “put one digit wrong,” and mined a large volume of information about Americans with no connection to terror. The matter was reported to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, whose judges required that all the data be destroyed, he said.

Another former senior official, who asked not to be identified, confirmed Blair’s recollection and said the incident created serious problems for the Justice Department, which represents the NSA before the federal judges on the secret court.

This is one of the problems of allowing the government to snoop as they do.

Let’s assume that this time it was a mistake. Thousands of people have had their privacy compromised, and we knew nothing about it until this fiasco was made public by the Guardian a few days ago.

Let’s assume the government’s intentions were nothing but pure – to protect this nation from another devastating terrorist attack by using the best tools at its disposal.

The problem is it happened, and it can happen again.

It can happen by mistake – through a mistyped digit – allowing government to snoop on innocent people.

It can happen intentionally – through one bureaucrat’s desire to snoop on a paramour who hasn’t paid enough attention to him – allowing government to snoop on an innocent person and find out with whom he or she may be involved, in order to allow one bureaucrat access to the object of his or her “affection.”

It can happen intentionally – through a directive from Washington, as a way to target political opponents or groups – allowing government to snoop on an innocent person or group, allowing politicians to gather data on adversaries and shut them up.

Do you see the common thread here?

Allowing the government such power endangers all of our rights – whether through an inadvertent mistake or intentional abuse – allows the potential for serious compromises and violations of our rights and freedoms as Americans.

And that is distinctly UNAmerican.

Got Verizon?

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Share everything.

Today America woke up to find out that if they are a Verizon customer, their phone records are being collected on a daily basis and indiscriminately sent over to the NSA. They may not have done anything wrong, but that does not matter.

The secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISA) granted the order to the FBI on April 25, giving the government unlimited authority to obtain the data for a specified three-month period ending on July 19.

Under the terms of the blanket order, the numbers of both parties on a call are handed over, as is location data, call duration, unique identifiers, and the time and duration of all calls. The contents of the conversation itself are not covered.

It is no secret that I wasn’t thrilled with the passage of the Patriot Act under Bush and the government powers it broadened. I fully understand the need to protect this nation, and I am acutely aware of the national security threats we face every day.  But it was one of those monsters very few legislators had the time or the inclination to read. They just wanted to look like they were doing something, and that something ushered in a slow, systematic erosion of our rights. And obscenely, the Bush administration had publicly expressed its opinion that individual rights are to be sacrificed at the altar of “national security.”

The Bush administration made no secret of its hopes that the Patriot Act would be broadly interpreted by the judiciary branch. In a letter to Senators Bob Graham, Orrin Hatch, Patrick Leahy, and Richard Shelby, Assistant Attorney General Daniel J. Bryant had the unmitigated goal to state:
 
The courts have observed that even the use of deadly force is reasonable under the Fourth Amendment if used in self-defense or to protect others… Here, for Fourth Amendment purposes, the right to self-defense is not that of an individual, but that of the nation and its citizens… If the government’s heightened interest in self-defense justifies the use of deadly force, then it certainly would also justify warrantless searches.

The majority of the Patriot Act was vaguely innocuous. It provided for more resources for our intelligence community, promoted information sharing, etc. But a few of the sections of this act were odious in nature, and were a precursor to what we are seeing today.

Prior to the September 11th attacks, a wiretap order targeted toward a specific person or group was confined to a particular computer or telephone.  This is no longer the case. The new law allows a court to issue an order that is valid anywhere in the U.S.  that is it may “rove” wherever a target goes, including a public library. Additionally, roving wiretaps and pen trap orders to include searches performed on the internet and keywords typed into browsers.

Under Section 216, a law enforcement agent or a government attorney can get a pen register, which records the telephone number of an outgoing call, or trap and trace order, which records the source of an incoming telephone call. To get such an order, the agent must simply certify to a judge that the information to be obtained is “relevant to an ongoing criminal investigation.”According to case law, information about who sent an email to whom and when holds no reasonable expectation of privacy  much like the address blocks on a regular envelope or telephone numbers, which are necessarily provided to the telephone companies in order to complete a call. Much like the outside of an envelope, or a telephone number that’s dialed, envelope information on emails isn’t protected by constitutional privacy expectations.

However, this is where the constitutional challenges arise. While the sender of a letter can reasonably expect that the contents of a sealed letter will be private, unless no envelope is provided with the address block on the letter serving as an address device for the post office, and while a caller can reasonably expect that the content of his telephone conversation can be private, unless it’s transmitted over public airwavesbecause the content of email messages is invariably contained on the same “page” as the “envelope information”, the courts could reasonably rule that the content of an email message is not constitutionally protected.

The Patriot Act also allowed law enforcement to share information with the intelligence community (CIA, NSA, etc.), and  there’s no judicial review requirement to share wiretap and grand jury information, which effectively allows these intelligence agencies to keep tabs on ordinary citizens under the guise of “national security.”

So here we are…

These days, the FISA ruling has forced Verizon to hand over telephone records to the NSA, including communications between the United States and abroad” or “wholly within the United States, including local telephone calls.”

The standard for FISA approval is actually lower than regular courts, which require probable cause to grant a warrant in a criminal matter, and originally FISA warrants were only supposed to be used for those suspected of acting on behalf of a foreign power. Prior to the passage of the Patriot Act, FISA’s lax standards could only be applied if the actual purpose of the surveillance was the gathering of foreign intelligence. But Section 218 of the bill relaxed that standard to apply to a domestic criminal investigation if the gathering of foreign intelligence information merely constitutes a significant purpose of the surveillance. Not so much anymore.

Information is being collected on every Verizon customer in bulk – without reasonable suspicion of any individual or set of individuals and no specific target.

I fully admit there are things we don’t know. Maybe there is a specific target buried in all that data. But to collect intelligence on millions of American citizens looking for a needle in a haystack sounds like an egregious abuse of power to me.

I also doubt NSA employees are sitting around giggling at the phone sex you had with your significant other last night. Frankly, they have bigger things to worry about.

But if the government is capable of forcing a company to hand over your private information, it also has the power to use that information against you. It knows with whom you’re having conversations and for how long. Corrupt government bureaucrats can now not only target you – and any person that opposes their agenda – but also that person’s friends and family. Suspicion by association.

I don’t trust the government to have that information at its disposal. Do you?

ADDING SOME IRONY: George Orwell’s “1984” was published 64 years ago today.

Sequester Blamed for Airport Delays

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At least that’s according to J-Nap, who says, “U.S. airports, including Los Angeles International and O’Hare International in Chicago, are already experiencing delays as a result of automatic federal spending cuts.”

Napolitano said Monday that delays will become worse. The Transportation Security Administration and Customs and Border Protection agencies, which are part of the Homeland Security Department, are sending furlough notices and have cut overtime for employees.

Of course, O’Hare is the #1 most delayed airport in the country, according to weather.com owing mostly to the fact that it handles 70 million passengers annually, and the AP admits that both Los Angeles International and O’Hare routinely suffer delays anyway…

But heck, never miss an opportunity to panic monger about the sequester!

EVERYBODY PANIC!

 

Inexcusable leaks

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Found this video at This Ain’t Hell. The folks at the Special Operations (OPSEC) Political Committee made a video that clearly explains why they oppose this administration’s compromise of our national security for political gain.

Watch it. It’s important. The movies, the self-congratulatory bullshit, the “briefings” to Hollywood… these politicians have no idea how much their antics hinder our national security.

Our operators are quiet professionals. They don’t do what they do for glory. And while they risk their lives and even die, the idiots in Washington use their accomplishments as political capital.

We cannot afford to have these amateurs continue to compromise OPSEC and our national security. Think about that when you cast your votes this fall.

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