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Foreign policy motivated London Woolwich attack

MDI comment:

One of the killers involved in the death of Lee Rigby is currently on trial in England, with the trial revealing much about the defendants intention and reasoning behind the attack.

According to Michael Adebolajo, one of the killers, the motivation of his attack, in his own words was the following:

It only happened for one reason only, and that is foreign policy

The defendant couldn't have made himself more clear. So while Islamophobes will go on about Islam being so violent, and the cause behind the attack, the very attacker who committed the attack has clearly stated that his main reason behind the attack was due to foreign policy.

The attacker in question did not state that he committed the attack because 1) The west was non-Muslim and therefore they had a right to be attack because they were not Muslim 2) Because he hated the freedoms of the west and was against it's lifestyle 3) Because he wanted to change the western lifestyle and to implement an Islamic system upon the people of Britain. 

None of the above were his motivations for the attack, but in his own words, his one main and only reason behind the attack, was down to Britain's foreign policy in the Muslim world, namely it's military presence in Afghanistan. 

This obviously doesn't condone or justify his actions, but it does answer a lot of questions, and it does make us realise where we have to concentrate our efforts and where the debate actually lies. Because there are many out there, who shift away from the reality behind such attacks, and misdirect the debate-discussion to areas that have nothing to do with such attacks, such as trying to pin the blame on Islam, or an 'extreme' version of Islam etc. 

So rather than debating and trying to reach at some sort of 'moderate' Islam, the real debate should be centred around the disastrous foreign policies of western countries, that have contributed to such atrocities being committed. 

Daily Star

A man accused of killing an off-duty British soldier in a frenzied knife attack on a London street defended his actions in court Monday, saying he carried out the attack because he is a soldier fighting in the service of God.

Michael Adebolajo, 28, said that he attacked soldier Lee Rigby because he wanted to protest Britain's invasion of Muslim lands. He claimed to be one of many fighters engaged in a war between Islam and Western countries.

"I'm a soldier ... I couldn't do anything else," he said when asked whether he had any regrets.

Adebolajo spoke calmly and clearly as he was cross-examined at London's Central Criminal Court on Monday, telling jurors that while he had never met anyone from al-Qaida, he was full of admiration for the terrorist group.

"I love them. I consider them brothers in Islam," he said.

Adebolajo and fellow defendant Michael Adebowale, 22, are accused of murder in connection with Rigby's death, a brutal slaying that shocked the country. Both deny the charge, and Monday's hearing was the jury's first chance to hear directly from one of the defendants about what led to the attack.

Adebolajo laid out his life story, saying his parents were Christian and he used to read from the Bible, but he became frustrated and converted to Islam during his time in university. He said he had tried to travel to Somaliaso that he could live under Sharia law, but was detained by Kenyan troops before he could get there.

Turning to the attack, he said that he tried to make sure that Rigby was a soldier before he killed him, saying he hoped the death could "indirectly save the lives of many."

"I was keen that the reason for the death of this man is not misunderstood. I wanted people to understand ... It only happened for one reason only, and that is foreign policy," he said.

Adebolajo said he rushed at the police who arrived at the scene minutes after the killing because his religion forbade him to run away from the enemy.

Drone strikes leave several innocent civilians dead

 

2 human rights organizations, Amnesty International, and Human Rights Watch, have released two and separate reports concerning U.S. drone strikes in Pakistan and Yemen.

Amnesty International’s report dealt with U.S. drone strikes in Pakistan over the period covering late 2012, all the way to September 2013.

Human Rights Watch reported on 6 drone strikes that were carried out in Yemen.

In both reports, the organizations found clear evidence of innocent civilians being killed by drone strikes. In the case of Yemen, at least 70% of those killed in the 6 drone attacks that were covered, were civilians.

In one brutal account of a drone strike that occurred in Pakistan, a 68-year-old grandmother was killed when a drone missile directly struck her, tearing her body into pieces as her grandchildren had to witness it.

In all these cases of drone strikes that have killed and maimed innocent civilians, there has been no accountability whatsoever from the U.S., the victims have not been compensated, and virtually no justice has been brought

Both human rights organizations rightly argue that these drone strikes can be construed as a war crime, what else are we going to call them? Acts of bravery? Acts of freedom? Acts of bringing peace to the world?

One wonders how the U.S., a western nation can conduct itself in such a way, and yet still try to lay claim to the high moral ground preaching to others about ‘human rights’ and ‘peace’. One also wonders how western Islamophobic apologists who love bashing and demonizing Muslims as being violent as well as terrorists, can even make such arguments with a straight face?

It boggles the mind that while these apologists try to point fingers at Muslims for being so violent, the United States is going around the world firing off drone missiles that are 1) killing and injuring several innocent civilians 2) violating the sovereignty of those nations that are being struck. But off course, western Islamophobic apologists don’t really mind when it’s the west doing the killing and maiming, you see when they do it, it’s either simply ‘collateral damage’, or it’s justified, when innocent Muslims get killed it’s not as bad as when non-Muslim westerners get killed, they’re two completely different things and it’s okay when it’s the innocent Muslims are getting killed.

If one were also looking to understand why extremism and terrorism does exist, then look no further than these drone strikes. At the end of the day when you fire drone missiles that kill innocent grandmothers in front of their family, it’s going to naturally breed resentment, anger, hate, and the thirst to avenge that injustice. But off course western Islamophobes would have everybody believe that Muslim extremism is simply down to a bunch of crazy Muslim extremists that hate ‘freedom’.

Obviously western Islamophobes are going to have to come up with such rubbish to soothe their (probable) guilty conscience, because it’s easier for them to go to bed at night thinking extremist Muslims simply hate them because of their ‘freedom’ and ‘progression’, rather than the actual truth, that hey hate them because they’ve had their innocent family members killed by getting blown into pieces of charred meat by a hellfire missile.

NSA track the records of millions of Americans for just one suspect

MDI comment:

So during an investigation against one suspected 'terrorist', the NSA has the authority on snooping on the records of millions of Americans, how logical does that sound? An investigation into one person leads this organisation into tracking the phone records of millions of other people, anyone with any sense will know this has nothing to do about national security, but rather is a systematic surveillance system of the all powerful state that wants to track and monitor everybody. 

Al-Jazeera

 

President Barack Obama's national security has team acknowledged for the first time that it has the ability to read the phone records of millions of Americans while looking for just one terrorism suspect.

Appearing before the Senate judiciary committee, John Inglis, the NSA's deputy director, conceded that his agents can track the telephone activities of millions of Americans while searching for one terrorism suspect, but said that agents "try to be judicious" in their searches.

The Obama administration has previously stated that such records are rarely searched and, when they are, officials target only suspected foreign terrorists.

The searches described to the judiciary committee hinge on the "chain" analysis of information gathered on telephone communications. When the NSA identifies a suspect, it can look not just at their phone records, but also the records of everyone they call, everyone who calls those people and everyone who calls those people.

If the average person called 40 people, the analysis would allow the government to mine the records of 2.5 million Americans when investigating one suspect. The NSA conducted 300 such searches last year. 

The Democratic senator, Dick Durbin, said: "So what has been described as a discrete programme, to go after people who would cause us harm, when you look at the reach of this programme, it envelopes a substantial number of Americans."

"We are open to re-evaluating this programme in ways that can perhaps provide greater confidence and public trust that this is in fact a programme that achieves both privacy protections and national security,'' Robert Litt, counsel to the director of National Intelligence, told the judiciary committee.

New leak

The admission came on the same day that fresh information on NSA spying was revealed by the Guardiannewspaper.

Citing documents from whistle-blower Edward Snowden, the newspaper published NSA training material for the "XKeyscore" programme, which it described as the NSA's widest-reaching system that covers "nearly everything a typical user does on the Internet".

Intelligence analysts can conduct surveillance through XKeyscore by filling in an on-screen form giving only a "broad justification" for the search, and no review by a court or NSA staff, the newspaper said.  

The search could then trawl internet search histories, emails and other personal information of those targeted.

In response to the report, the agency said:  "The implication that NSA's collection is arbitrary and unconstrained is false", and added that XKeyscore was part of "NSA's lawful foreign signals intelligence collection system".

Through a prism

Meanwhile, the director of national intelligence released three declassified documents on Wednesday in the "interest of increased transparency". They explained the bulk collection of phone data - one of the secret programmes revealed by Snowden. 

Much of what is in the newly declassified documents has already been divulged in public hearings by intelligence officials. The released documents included 2009 and 2011 reports on the NSA's "Bulk Collection Programme", carried out under the US Patriot Act, the anti-terrorism legislation passed shortly after the September 11 attacks.

They also included an April 2013 order from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, which directed communications company Verizon to hand over data from millions of Americans' telephone calls.

XKeyscore NSA program allows for collection of nearly everything a user does on the internet

MDI comment:

So more classified NSA programs have been revealed, and it just gets worse and worse. In the latest revelation, the NSA has a program called the XKeyscore program, that allows NSA agents, to collect information from internet users on nearly everything they do online. Better yet, the NSA agent requires no authorisation for such a program, all they have to do is fill out a form stating their reasons for wanting to go through a person's record. 

Obviously the response to all of this will be it's in the name of national security, to protect us, yet any sane person will see that this has nothing to do with protecting us, but is all to do with big brother watching and tracking everything we do. 

The Guardian

A top secret National Security Agency program allows analysts to search with no prior authorization through vast databases containing emails, online chats and the browsing histories of millions of individuals, according to documents provided by whistleblower Edward Snowden.

The NSA boasts in training materials that the program, called XKeyscore, is its "widest-reaching" system for developing intelligence from the internet.

The latest revelations will add to the intense public and congressional debate around the extent of NSA surveillance programs. They come as senior intelligence officials testify to the Senate judiciary committee on Wednesday, releasing classified documents in response to the Guardian's earlier stories on bulk collection of phone records and Fisasurveillance court oversight.

The files shed light on one of Snowden's most controversial statements, made in his first video interview published by the Guardian on June 10.

"I, sitting at my desk," said Snowden, could "wiretap anyone, from you or your accountant, to a federal judge or even the president, if I had a personal email".

US officials vehemently denied this specific claim. Mike Rogers, the Republican chairman of the House intelligence committee, said of Snowden's assertion: "He's lying. It's impossible for him to do what he was saying he could do."

But training materials for XKeyscore detail how analysts can use it and other systems to mine enormous agency databases by filling in a simple on-screen form giving only a broad justification for the search. The request is not reviewed by a court or any NSA personnel before it is processed.

XKeyscore, the documents boast, is the NSA's "widest reaching" system developing intelligence from computer networks – what the agency calls Digital Network Intelligence (DNI). One presentation claims the program covers "nearly everything a typical user does on the internet", including the content of emails, websites visited and searches, as well as theirmetadata.

Analysts can also use XKeyscore and other NSA systems to obtain ongoing "real-time" interception of an individual's internet activity.

Under US law, the NSA is required to obtain an individualized Fisawarrant only if the target of their surveillance is a 'US person', though no such warrant is required for intercepting the communications of Americans with foreign targets. But XKeyscore provides the technological capability, if not the legal authority, to target even US persons for extensive electronic surveillance without a warrant provided that some identifying information, such as their email or IP address, is known to the analyst.

One training slide illustrates the digital activity constantly being collected by XKeyscore and the analyst's ability to query the databases at any time.The purpose of XKeyscore is to allow analysts to search the metadataas well as the content of emails and other internet activity, such as browser history, even when there is no known email account (a "selector" in NSA parlance) associated with the individual being targeted.

Analysts can also search by name, telephone number, IP address, keywords, the language in which the internet activity was conducted or the type of browser used.

One document notes that this is because "strong selection [search by email address] itself gives us only a very limited capability" because "a large amount of time spent on the web is performing actions that are anonymous."

The NSA documents assert that by 2008, 300 terrorists had been captured using intelligence from XKeyscore.

Analysts are warned that searching the full database for content will yield too many results to sift through. Instead they are advised to use themetadata also stored in the databases to narrow down what to review.

A slide entitled "plug-ins" in a December 2012 document describes the various fields of information that can be searched. It includes "every email address seen in a session by both username and domain", "every phone number seen in a session (eg address book entries or signature block)" and user activity – "the webmail and chat activity to include username, buddylist, machine specific cookies etc".

Email monitoring

In a second Guardian interview in June, Snowden elaborated on his statement about being able to read any individual's email if he had their email address. He said the claim was based in part on the email search capabilities of XKeyscore, which Snowden says he was authorized to use while working as a Booz Allen contractor for the NSA.

One top-secret document describes how the program "searches within bodies of emails, webpages and documents", including the "To, From, CC, BCC lines" and the 'Contact Us' pages on websites".

To search for emails, an analyst using XKS enters the individual's email address into a simple online search form, along with the "justification" for the search and the time period for which the emails are sought.

he analyst then selects which of those returned emails they want to read by opening them in NSA reading software.

The system is similar to the way in which NSA analysts generally can intercept the communications of anyone they select, including, as one NSA document put it, "communications that transit the United States and communications that terminate in the United States".

One document, a top secret 2010 guide describing the training received by NSA analysts for general surveillance under the Fisa Amendments Act of 2008, explains that analysts can begin surveillance on anyone by clicking a few simple pull-down menus designed to provide both legal and targeting justifications. Once options on the pull-down menus are selected, their target is marked for electronic surveillance and the analyst is able to review the content of their communications:

Chats, browsing history and other internet activity

Beyond emails, the XKeyscore system allows analysts to monitor a virtually unlimited array of other internet activities, including those within social media.

An NSA tool called DNI Presenter, used to read the content of stored emails, also enables an analyst using XKeyscore to read the content of Facebook chats or private messages.An analyst can monitor such Facebook chats by entering the Facebook user name and a date range into a simple search screen.

Analysts can search for internet browsing activities using a wide range of information, including search terms entered by the user or the websites viewed.

As one slide indicates, the ability to search HTTP activity by keyword permits the analyst access to what the NSA calls "nearly everything a typical user does on the internet".

The XKeyscore program also allows an analyst to learn the IP addresses of every person who visits any website the analyst specifies.

The quantity of communications accessible through programs such as XKeyscore is staggeringly large. One NSA report from 2007 estimated that there were 850bn "call events" collected and stored in the NSA databases, and close to 150bn internet records. Each day, the document says, 1-2bn records were added.

William Binney, a former NSA mathematician, said last year that the agency had "assembled on the order of 20tn transactions about US citizens with other US citizens", an estimate, he said, that "only was involving phone calls and emails". A 2010 Washington Post article reported that "every day, collection systems at the [NSA] intercept and store 1.7bn emails, phone calls and other type of communications."

The XKeyscore system is continuously collecting so much internet data that it can be stored only for short periods of time. Content remains on the system for only three to five days, while metadata is stored for 30 days. One document explains: "At some sites, the amount of data we receive per day (20+ terabytes) can only be stored for as little as 24 hours."

To solve this problem, the NSA has created a multi-tiered system that allows analysts to store "interesting" content in other databases, such as one named Pinwale which can store material for up to five years. 

It is the databases of XKeyscore, one document shows, that now contain the greatest amount of communications data collected by the NSA.In 2012, there were at least 41 billion total records collected and stored in XKeyscore for a single 30-day period.

Legal v technical restrictions

While the Fisa Amendments Act of 2008 requires an individualized warrant for the targeting of US persons, NSA analysts are permitted to intercept the communications of such individuals without a warrant if they are in contact with one of the NSA's foreign targets.

The ACLU's deputy legal director, Jameel Jaffer, told the Guardian last month that national security officials expressly said that a primary purpose of the new law was to enable them to collect large amounts of Americans' communications without individualized warrants.

"The government doesn't need to 'target' Americans in order to collect huge volumes of their communications," said Jaffer. "The government inevitably sweeps up the communications of many Americans" when targeting foreign nationals for surveillance.

An example is provided by one XKeyscore document showing an NSAtarget in Tehran communicating with people in Frankfurt, Amsterdam and New York.In recent years, the NSA has attempted to segregate exclusively domestic US communications in separate databases. But even NSA documents acknowledge that such efforts are imperfect, as even purely domestic communications can travel on foreign systems, and NSA tools are sometimes unable to identify the national origins of communications.

Moreover, all communications between Americans and someone on foreign soil are included in the same databases as foreign-to-foreign communications, making them readily searchable without warrants.

Some searches conducted by NSA analysts are periodically reviewed by their supervisors within the NSA. "It's very rare to be questioned on our searches," Snowden told the Guardian in June, "and even when we are, it's usually along the lines of: 'let's bulk up the justification'."

In a letter this week to senator Ron Wyden, director of national intelligence James Clapper acknowledged that NSA analysts have exceeded even legal limits as interpreted by the NSA in domestic surveillance.

Acknowledging what he called "a number of compliance problems", Clapper attributed them to "human error" or "highly sophisticated technology issues" rather than "bad faith".

However, Wyden said on the Senate floor on Tuesday: "These violations are more serious than those stated by the intelligence community, and are troubling."

In a statement to the Guardian, the NSA said: "NSA's activities are focused and specifically deployed against – and only against – legitimate foreign intelligence targets in response to requirements that our leaders need for information necessary to protect our nation and its interests.

"XKeyscore is used as a part of NSA's lawful foreign signals intelligence collection system.

"Allegations of widespread, unchecked analyst access to NSA collection data are simply not true. Access to XKeyscore, as well as all of NSA's analytic tools, is limited to only those personnel who require access for their assigned tasks … In addition, there are multiple technical, manual and supervisory checks and balances within the system to prevent deliberate misuse from occurring."

"Every search by an NSA analyst is fully auditable, to ensure that they are proper and within the law.

"These types of programs allow us to collect the information that enables us to perform our missions successfully – to defend the nation and to protect US and allied troops abroad."

America leads the world in requesting user information on Twitter

MDI comment:

So here's a nice fact, America leads the world in requesting user information from Twitter, not some 3rd world nation, but rather the land of the free.

Raw Story

Twitter revealed on Wednesday that government demands for information about users rose in the first half of this year, with US authorities accounting for more than three-quarters of the requests.

Governments submitted a total of 1,157 requests for information about Twitter accounts, with 78 percent of those queries coming from the United States, according to a transparency report issued by the globally popular one-to-many test messaging service.

Twitter reported that it gave US authorities what they sought in 67 percent of the cases.

Japan was second when it came to requesting information from Twitter during the first six months of 2012, accounting for eight percent of the total.

The number of requests from governments has risen in each of the three Twitter transparency reports issued since the San Francisco-based firm began publishing them last year.

Twitter said the requests typically were made in connection with criminal investigations and lamented that it was barred by law from revealing anything about information demanded through US national security letters.

“An important conversation has begun about the extent to which companies should be allowed to publish information regarding national security requests,” Twitter legal policy manager Jeremy Kessel said in a blog post.

“We have joined forces with industry peers and civil liberty groups to insist that the United States government allow for increased transparency into these secret orders.”

Apple, Facebook, Microsoft and other top Internet and technology companies have come under heightened scrutiny since word leaked of a vast, covert Internet surveillance program US authorities insist targets only foreign terror suspects and has helped thwart attacks.

US lawmakers last week vowed to step up their campaign against government surveillance programs after narrowly failing in a bid to end spying practices they have decried as unconstitutional.

Twitter said that the number of requests by governments to remove user content rose to 60 from 42 in the prior six-month period, and just six in the first transparency report issued in July of last year.

“Governments generally make removal requests for content that may be illegal in their respective jurisdictions,” the report explained.

“For example, we may receive a court order requiring the removal of defamatory statements, or law enforcement may ask us to remove prohibited content.

Meanwhile, notices to take down copyrighted material surged to 5,753 in the first half of this year from 3,268 in the last six months of last year, according to Twitter.

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