News Release Archive - Domestic Surveillance

9/11 Cover-up: Whistleblower Coleen Rowley

COLEEN ROWLEY, rowleyclan@earthlink.net@ColeenRowley
A former FBI special agent and division counsel, Rowley famously wrote a May 2002 memo to then FBI Director Robert Mueller exposing some of the FBI’s pre-9/11 conduct. She was then named one of TIME magazine’s “Persons of the Year.”

She said today: “Already on the day of September 11, 2001, some of us insiders knew some agonizing truth, that the horrible terrorist attacks of that day could have been easily prevented if FBIHQ had just read, shared and acted on the memos addressed to officials there. But I didn’t know the half of it that day, that other agencies like the CIA actually knew much more as their agents had been monitoring the meetings and developments of key Al Qaeda figures for a couple of years prior but were keeping that intelligence secret even from other counter-terrorism agencies. Most importantly the CIA hid the fact from the FBI until it was too late that they knew Al Qaeda terrorists (who would become 9-11 aircraft hijackers and suicide pilots) were already in the country. Along with all the prior info they kept secret, Director of Central Intelligence George Tenet had been briefed with a ‘Fundamentalist Learns to Fly’ PowerPoint weeks before the attacks. (He later could not explain why as head of all U.S. national security intelligence, he still took no action.)

“Even worse, instead of coming to grips with this truth that would have enabled speedy solutions to these relatively easy-to-fix administrative problems/flubs that mostly involved lack of information sharing (what the 9-11 Commission termed ‘failure to connect the dots’), massive cover-ups ensued after 9-11. Nearly all U.S. political figures and other officials in Washington would bury the truth, fight accountability and even lie in order to institute their pre-determined agendas, long planned to commence after a ‘new Pearl Harbor’ pretext. So without dissent and no truth, the misbegotten, counter-productive ‘global war on terrorism’ was immediately launched that served as fig leaf for actual, successive wars on Mideastern countries beginning with Afghanistan and Iraq, bloody wars that would take the lives of millions but had no chance of reducing terrorism or spreading democracy, wars that would destabilize the entire region, vastly increase extremist massacres and sprout new terrorist groups like hydras but would fill the coffers of the military industrial complex’s war profiteers.”

Philip Shenon, who was a New York Times reporter for many years and wrote the bestseller The Commission recently stated of Philip Zelikow, the executive director of the 9/11 commission: “I’d argue he was more influential than several of the 10 commissioners when it came to writing the final report. At the end of the investigation, many staffers felt their most important and controversial conclusions were not reflected in the report’s findings, especially when it came to demanding accountability in the Bush administration for the intelligence failures that led to 9/11. That was also true about the evidence of possible Saudi government ties to the conspiracy. The choice of an executive director — to run the day-to-day investigation — is vital. … Zelikow was close to Condi Rice and had been on the Bush administration’s White House transition team in 2000, with responsibility for national-security issues. That still astonishes me.”

AP reported in June on calls for “a full-blown investigation” of the pandemic crisis “by a national commission like the one that looked into 9/11.” The article notes that a “privately sponsored team” is “already laying the groundwork for one.” Zelikow, now at the University of Virginia, is “leading the planning group.”

Britain’s Imprisonment of Journalist Craig Murray “Disgraceful”

Craig Murray — a former British ambassador who has become a journalist — has been imprisoned on the charge of “jigsaw identification.” Murray and others charge that he was targeted for his anti-establishment political stances including his exposing British and U.S. complicity with torture in Uzbekistan, where he was ambassador, and for his outspoken defense of Wikileaks founder Jullian Assange.

Scottish PEN noted the prosecution was without recent precedent, expressing “grave concern over the imprisonment of Craig Murray and calls for his release. The writer is the first person to be imprisoned in Scotland for media contempt for over 70 years. We fear this ruling will have a chilling effect on reporting and free expression.”

JOHN PILGER, jpilger2003@yahoo.co.uk@johnpilger
    Pilger is a longtime, award-winning journalist who has written several books and produced dozens of documentaries. He noted that the ruling against Murray drew a distinction between the actions of establishment outlets and those of independent journalists or bloggers: “The truly shocking jailing of Craig Murray means that journalists approved by the state are protected and those who challenge power — real journalism — are in grave danger.” See recent piece by Jonathan Cook: “Craig Murray’s jailing is the latest move in a battle to snuff out independent journalism.”

    Mohamed Elmaazi broke down several aspects of the case in May, following the original ruling and before Murray’s appeal was recently denied, in the article: “Whistleblower Craig Murray Sentenced To 8 Months In Prison Over His Reporting on Former Scottish First Minister’s Trial“: “A three-judge panel determined on March 25, 2021 — following a two-hour trial in January — that information published by Murray in a number of his blog posts was likely to lead indirectly to people being able to identify witnesses in [former Scottish First Minister Alex] Salmond’s sexual assault trial. This process, known as ‘jigsaw identification,’ refers to the possibility that a person may piece together information from various sources to arrive at the identification of a protected witness. … Salmond was acquitted by a jury on all 14 counts of sexual harassment and assault brought against him. However, that fact was considered irrelevant by the court when deciding the contempt of court case against Murray. Before Salmond was tried in March 2020, evidence had already emerged of a potential conspiracy against the former leader of the Scottish National Party (SNP).”

    Hugh Kerr, a former vice chair of Scottish Executive Council of the National Union of Journalists, was a Labour Party Member of the European Parliament before he joined the SNP. He told Elmaazi that he considered both the verdict and the sentence in Murray’s case to be “disgraceful.”

    “Craig Murray has compiled a remarkable record of courage and integrity in exposing crimes of state and working to bring them to an end,” Professor Noam Chomsky stated, contending Murray “fully merits our deep respect and support for his achievements.”

    Murray put out a statement which was noted by the support group Craig Murray Justice before being imprisoned on Sunday: “I believe this is actually the state’s long-sought revenge for my whistleblowing on security service collusion with torture and my long term collaboration with Wikileaks and other whistleblowers. Unfortunately, important free speech issues are collateral damage.”

Global Rights Threat of Israeli Spying Firms

RICHARD SILVERSTEIN, richards1052@gmail.com, @richards1052
Silverstein is an independent journalist and researcher writing about Israeli foreign policy and covert operations. He writes the Tikun Olam blog and contributes to Al Jazeera English, Middle East Eye, and Jacobin magazine.

He just wrote the piece “NSO Group Targets 50,000 Cell Phone Numbers in 50 Countries: Heads of State, Cabinet Ministers, Diplomats, Security Officials.” He also recently wrote the piece “Israeli Cyber-Mercenary Company, Candiru, Exposed as New Global Rights Threat.”

He said today: “Two major media exposes in the New York Times and Washington Post have shone a light on the damage done by Israeli cyber-hacking companies to human rights around the world. The Post story, published in collaboration with Amnesty International’s Pegasus Project, details a massive corporate spying campaign by the world’s largest such company, NSO Group, targeting 50,000 cell phones located in 50 countries. At its heart is the most sophisticated cyber-malware product on the world market, Pegasus.

“Among those targeted were heads of state, cabinet ministers, diplomats, and military-security officials. The articles indicate that the NSO client state Saudi Arabia had infected the phones of a close associate of murdered journalist, Jamal Khasoggi, his ex-wife, and his fiance. The electronic device of a Mexican journalist was hacked less than two weeks before his murder.

“As it faces a major lawsuit from Whatsapp, which was compromised by an exploit created by NSO, the company is mounting an aggressive defense including creating an ethics panel meant to whitewash the moral and ethical lapses for which the technology is responsible. Members of the panel included former Obama administration officials including Julie Kayyem and former U.S. ambassador to Israel, Dan Shapiro. It has also hired a major D.C. lobbying firm and one of Washington’s leading libel lawyers in an effort to cajole or intimidate its critics into silence.

“These reports prove that this industry must be regulated by U.S. legislation and/or international treaty. Cyber-hacking on this scale is an incredibly lucrative business in which the more dangerous the technology, the more money is to be made. If restraints aren’t imposed, the damage could spread exponentially in coming years.”

Assange Case: British Court Grants Biden Limited Appeal to Continue Attack on WikiLeaks Founder

KEVIN GOSZTOLA, kevin@shadowproof.com, @kgosztola

Managing editor of Shadowproof, Gosztola has extensively covered the legal proceedings regarding Assange.

He just wrote the piece “Assange Extradition: British High Court Grants U.S. a Limited Appeal” for The Dissenter which reports: “The High Court of Justice rejected U.S. efforts to ‘second guess’ factual findings made about medical and expert evidence.”

Gosztola notes that he has “reviewed the appeal submissions, which are not publicly available” and gives a breakdown of the arguments in his just-published article.

He reports: “’It comes as no surprise that the U.K. High Court will consider the U.S. government’s appeal, but Julian Assange should not be in this position in the first place,’ stated Reporters Without Borders director of international campaigns Rebecca Vincent. ‘He has been targeted for his contributions to public interest reporting, and his prosecution in the U.S. would have severe and long-lasting implications for journalism and press freedom around the world.’

‘”We call again for [President Joe Biden’s] administration to drop the appeal and close the case, and for the U.K. to immediately release Assange from prison, where his mental and physical health remain at high risk,’ Vincent added.

“‘[Stella] Moris [Assange’s partner] asserted, [Attorney General] Merrick Garland has egg on his face because of the decision to use a witness that perjured himself in order to try to imprison Julian and keep him imprisoned.'” See IPA news release from a week ago: “Key Witness Against Assange Admits Fabrication.”

Gosztola wrote in January: “British Judge Keeps Assange In Prison, Despite Ruling Against Extradition.”

* Key Witness Against Assange Admits Fabrication * China Whistleblower

KEVIN GOSZTOLA, kevin@shadowproof.com, @kgosztola

Managing editor of Shadowproof, Gosztola has extensively covered the legal proceedings regarding Assange. He highlights the reporting of the Icelandic outlet Stundin, which reports: “A major witness in the United States’ Department of Justice case against Julian Assange has admitted to fabricating key accusations in the indictment against the Wikileaks founder. The witness, who has a documented history with sociopathy and has received several convictions for sexual abuse of minors and wide-ranging financial fraud, made the admission in a newly published interview in Stundin where he also confessed to having continued his crime spree whilst working with the Department of Justice and FBI and receiving a promise of immunity from prosecution.”

Added Gosztola: “What [the witness, Sigurdur Ingi] Thordarson recanted, contradicted, or clarified about Assange for Stundin shows why cross-appeal is priority for Assange and his legal team. Though extradition was denied, they never had [a] fair opportunity to impeach witness testimony after [a] third indictment was sprung on them.”

Since the charges against Assange have to do with helping expose U.S. war crimes and not with Russiagate, Gosztola noted: “More than two years later and Respectable Elite Pundits still have no clue what the U.S. case is against Assange. They just know why they hate him and damn the consequences to freedom and democracy if he’s ever actually brought before a U.S. court.”

Gosztola also just wrote the piece: “Pentagon whistleblower under investigation after warning about risks of war with China over Taiwan,” which states: “Pentagon whistleblower Franz Gayl has been part of the United States Marine Corps for over four decades. He spent the last months trying to warn U.S. government officials and the public of the threat of becoming entangled in a war with China over Taiwan.

“Yet instead of seriously considering his perspective, Gayl faces a counterintelligence investigation into articles he wrote and early retirement.

“He published an open letter to President Joe Biden on LinkedIn on June 22 in a last-ditch effort to reach the White House and communicate his concerns over the increased potential for an ‘ill-advised foreign war.’

“Gayl warned, ‘Taiwan’s own watershed “Gulf of Tonkin” event is only a matter of time, probably through an accident or miscalculation. Sensing the urgency, I submitted numerous op-eds to U.S. newspaper and electronic media outlets, but each was rejected.’

“’As a last resort, I contacted the [People’s Republic of China’s] own Global Times, which published my op-eds in April and May.’

“The publications spurred an investigation by the Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS). His security clearances were revoked on June 1. …”

Biden, Building on Trump’s Censorship, Targets Iranian and Palestinian Websites

Al Jazeera reports in “U.S. seizes three dozen websites used for ‘Iranian disinformation’” that: “Seized sites include Press TV and Houthi and Palestinian outlets. Move comes amid tense efforts to revive nuclear deal.”

At NATO headquarters recently, Biden spoke of his commitment to the “important shared missions” of “renewing and strengthening the resilience of our democracies” as well as “protecting the free press and independent judiciaries.” Later, he spoke of his insistence to Russian President Vladimir Putin of the “importance of a free press and freedom of speech.”

See Institute for Public Accuracy news release from last year: “Code Red: Barr Seizes Internet Domains of Media Outlets.”

ANDREW STEWART, hasc.warrior.stew@gmail.com@DCBabylon1
On Tuesday, Stewart wrote the piece “FBI & Dept of Commerce Seize Iranian Press TV Web Domain” for Washington Babylon.

He states: “This step by Commerce and the FBI proves … rhetorical flourishes are a smokescreen for a widening censorship mandate within Washington. Since the September 11, 2001 attacks, the federal policing agencies have sharpened a carceral lens upon the information superhighway, invoking moral panics like ‘internet radicalization,’ aberrant sexual behavior, multimedia piracy, or illicit drug trafficking to justify the crackdown. While there’s certainly no denying that serious malfeasance like white nationalist indoctrination, child pornography, copyright infringement, or sales of narcotics take place online, laws passed in the name of combatting such practices are wildly overreaching and create judicial precedents for later use in cases like that of Press TV. These legislative efforts also conveniently ignore that there were already plenty of laws with harsh, sometimes overly-sadistic penalties for sexual assault, kidnapping, murder, or narco vending. However, none of those laws provided censorship opportunities, something that Washington and Silicon Valley have been desperate to implement after the early Wild West days of the web opened floodgates for free information that could not be used for profits and taxes.

“I have always been wary of state-sponsored broadcasters like RT or Press TV. Both have editorial lines driven by the geopolitical concerns of their sponsors, which is anathema to what journalists are mandated to serve. … None of these qualms, however, justify censorship.”

New Domestic Terrorism Legislation “Would Make It Worse”

CHIP GIBBONS, chip@defendingdissent.org, @ChipGibbons89
Policy director at Defending Rights & Dissent, Gibbons recently wrote the piece “The Capitol Riot Was Bad Enough. New Domestic Terrorism Legislation Would Make It Even Worse” for Jacobin, which states that since 9/11, the U.S. government has erected a vast “apparatus in the name of ‘national security.’ Yet this security apparatus completely failed to thwart a plot carried out in plain sight.

“On top of that, just last summer, demonstrations against police violence and racism were repeatedly met with militarized police and wanton repression. In a country where you can’t even take expired suntan lotion past airport security, where Quakers organizing against the death penalty are surveilled in the name of ‘counterterrorism,’ and where police that resemble an occupying army — because they are literally equipped with gear from an occupying army — greet peaceful protests, it’s rational to wonder just how all of this could have happened.

“One thing is certain: the failure to prevent the Capitol attack is not because of a lack of police powers or anti-terrorism measures. Still, some people have wasted no time hijacking the moment to advocate new domestic terrorism legislation. A lawmaker in the solidly Democratic state of Maryland has proposed a state domestic terrorism statute, and others are sure to follow.

“This is not the first time in recent memory that far-right violence has sparked calls for new domestic terrorism legislation. The general uptick in violence that has plagued the Trump years, including the horrific white supremacist shooting at a Walmart in El Paso, Texas, has produced a steady drumbeat of demands for a new domestic terrorism law. Joe Biden’s campaign website put him on record as backing a new domestic terrorism law, though it’s unclear where he currently stands.”

Last year, The Intercept published Gibbon’s in-depth investigation: “FBI Opened Terrorism Investigations Into Nonviolent Palestinian Solidarity Group, Documents Reveal.”

See National Security Archives documents on FBI and NSA spying on Martin Luther King Jr.

You Can’t Fight Fascism by Expanding the Police State

EVAN GREER, evan@fightforthefuture.org, @fightfortheftr

Greer is deputy director of Fight for the Future and recently wrote the piece “You can’t fight fascism by expanding the police state” for Fast Company, which states: “In the coming days and weeks we are likely to see pundits and lawmakers call for things like passing a new domestic terrorism law, expanding mass surveillance programs, increasing funding for the FBI and law enforcement, installing backdoors in encrypted messaging apps, and arming police with more technology like facial recognition and social media monitoring software. …

“This is the exact opposite of what we need to be doing. Expanding the U.S. government’s already bloated surveillance state will only bring more terror and harm to the same communities that Trump targeted with his racist policies and rhetoric. …

“President-elect Joe Biden has already expressed that he supports the creation of a new domestic terrorism statute. Experts warn that a new law isn’t needed — acts of terrorism are already illegal. Creating a new designation would fail to prevent right-wing attacks while threatening marginalized communities with increased surveillance, prosecution, and harassment for engaging in First Amendment protected activities. In the last few years, top Democrats and Republicans have called for billions of dollars in additional funding for the FBI, and have scuttled attempts to rein in the phone and internet spying programs enabled by the USA Patriot Act, which was rushed through Congress faster than lawmakers could read it in the immediate wake of 9/11.”

Trump and Barr Turn to Joint Terrorism Task Force to Crush Protests

DAVE LINDORFF, dlindorff at gmail.com
Editor of ThisCantBeHappening.net and 2019 winner of an “Izzy” Award for Outstanding Independent Media, Lindorff just wrote the piece “Tear Gas and Clubs in Lafayette Square Were Just the Beginning” for The Nation.

Lindorff reports: “On June 1, President Trump ordered National Park Police and troops from the District of Columbia National Guard and some other federal law enforcement agencies to drive peaceful protesters from Lafayette Square, north of the White House, to clear the way for his Bible-holding photo op. The same day, Trump and his Attorney General William Barr, along with Defense Secretary Mark Esper, also placed a call to the nation’s 50 governors.

“A leaked transcript of that taped conversation, published in full by a number of major news organizations [audio], shows both Trump and Barr referring in glowing terms to the way the Obama administration, almost nine years earlier, had crushed the months-long Occupy Movement across the country in a matter of a few days.

“Trump told the governors, many of whose states were experiencing massive protests against police brutality in the wake of the brutal videotaped police murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis, ‘This is like Occupy Wall Street. It was a disaster until one day somebody said, “That’s enough.” And they just went in and wiped them out. And it’s the last time I heard the name Occupy Wall Street. …’

“Trump was followed at that point in the call by Attorney General Barr, who told the assembled governors that the Trump administration planned to use the same Fusion Centers and Joint Terrorism Task Forces (JTTFs) the Obama administration had relied on to spy on and then crush the Occupy Movement to shut down the current wave of urban uprisings and protests over police brutality.

“As Barr put it, ‘The structure we’re going to use is the Joint Terrorist Task Force, which I know most of you are familiar with. Tried and true system. It’s worked for domestic and homegrown terrorists, and we’re going to employ that model.’

“It’s important to remember what actually happened with the Occupy Movement, a remarkable protest against inequality, corporate power, and the corrupt Wall Street banks whose recklessness had caused the 2008 financial crisis. Occupy was a spontaneous grassroots protest that sprang up in September 2011 in Lower Manhattan with the occupation of a one-block space called Zuccotti Park located just two blocks north of the intersection of Wall Street and Broadway. That encampment was quickly replicated in over 18 cities across the nation as part of a movement that introduced into popular discourse the class-conscious notion of ‘the 1 percent and the 99 percent.’

“As Mara Verheyden-Hilliard, executive director of the Washington, D.C.–based Partnership for Civil Justice Fund (PCJF) recalls, the Occupy movement” was targeted by the government. She said, “That’s why you saw encampments wiped out by police with over 7,000 arrests.”

“PCJF, following that shutdown of Occupy, turned to the Freedom of Information Act, seeking all documents relating to efforts to crush that movement from both the FBI and the Obama administration’s Department of Homeland Security, as well as the Pentagon and other intel agencies. After appeals, the organization received thousands of pages [see BigBrotherAmerica.org] of heavily redacted documents that made it clear that even as the FBI was reporting that the Occupy movement was peaceful, it had been classified as a domestic terrorist threat by both the FBI and DHS, ‘before even the first encampments were set up in Zuccotti Park and elsewhere in mid-September,’ with the FBI already providing detailed warnings of Occupy Wall Street’s plans to Wall Street banks and US corporations as early as August, 2011.”

Pelosi, Hoyer and Schiff Keep Trying to Give Trump More Spying Powers?

Speaker Nancy Pelosi and House Majority Steny Hoyer in the Oval Office on Wednesday, May 13, 2009

CommonDreams is reporting: “Pelosi Accused of ‘Trying to Do an End-Run Around Her Own Party’ by Sending Spy Powers Bill to Conference.”

Trevor Timm, executive director of Freedom of the Press Foundation, on Thursday wrote the piece “Congress Is Alarmingly Close to Handing Trump Dangerous Spying Powers: And Adam Schiff, of all people, is the one giving it to him.”

Reporter Dell Camron writes: “Democratic leaders are doing anything and everything they can to prevent privacy protections from being added to FISA. People need to be asking themselves why this is happening. What do Pelosi/Hoyer/Schiff have to gain by defending warrantless surveillance?”

Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer said: “At the request of the Speaker of the House, I am withdrawing consideration of the FISA Act. The two-thirds of the Republican party that voted for this bill in March have indicated they are going to vote against it now. I am told they are doing so at the request of the President. I believe this to be against the security interest of the United States and the safety of the American people.”

Politico reports: “Effort to renew FISA crumbles: It was a rare legislative setback for Pelosi, and Trump rejoiced.”

EVAN GREER, evan at fightforthefuture.org, @fightfortheftr

Greer is deputy director of Fight for the Future. She tweeted Thursday: “I just want to be extremely clear that right now Nancy Pelosi the so-called leader of ‘The Resistance’ is actively trying to gut a bipartisan amendment that specifically protects journalists & religious groups from abusive surveillance, so she can reauthorize FISA & Patriot Act.”

See statement by the group Demand Progress.