Tag Archives: Human rights

Freedom to discriminate? Controversial Arizona bill takes step toward becoming law

Freedom to discriminate Freedom to discriminate? Controversial Arizona bill takes step toward becoming law

The Arizona state Senate approved legislation Wednesday permitting businesses in the state to refuse service to potential customers based on an owner’s religious beliefs, infuriating equal rights advocates who claim the bill legalizes LGBT discrimination.
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The bill, known officially as Senate Bill 1062, was approved by the Republican-controlled Senate, which voted along strict party lines. State Democrats proposed eight amendments to the bill in an attempt to stop what they decried as discrimination against the gay and lesbian community, but each of those efforts failed.

The most polarizing part of the bill reads, in part:

“’Exercise of religion’ means the practice or observance of religion, including the ability to act or refusal to act in a manner substantially motivated by a religious belief whether or not the exercise is compulsory or central to a larger system of religious belief.”

State Senator Steve Yarbrough, the bill’s sponsor, said he has been pressing for the bill because of a New Mexico state Supreme Court ruling that allowed a gay couple to sue a photographer for refusing to take pictures at their wedding.

The bill’s opponents say that Yarbrough and other social conservatives are trying to portray themselves as martyrs as they aim to pass a vague law that would leave widespread discrimination unchecked.

The Arizona Republic reported that the bill, which has a counterpart in the state House of Representatives known as HB 2153, was written by the conservative Center for Arizona Policy and Alliance Defending Freedom – a non-profit Christian lobby group that dedicates funding to the pro-life movement and has long opposed marriage equality.

The bill now heads to the desk of Republican Governor Jan Brewer. She has five days to sign or veto the bill. If she chooses to ignore it, it will automatically become law. While the governor has given little indication about which way she is leaning, Brewer has forged her reputation as a conservative on similar hot button social issues like immigration and abortion.

EJ Montini, a columnist with the Arizona Republic, said that SB 1062 sets a dangerous precedent for people of various backgrounds.

Essentially what it would do is allow people to refuse service to people who may be gay, who may be of certain religious affiliations – we don’t know, there could be a lot of exposure in this particular bill- only because they have a particular religious belief,” he said. “We really have no issue like this in Arizona and this is extremists in the legislature essentially appeasing zealots out in the community…It is the most ungodly way to view religious freedom.”

While Arizona would be the first state in the US to approve such a bill, other right-leaning states including Idaho, South Dakota, and Kansas have considered similar legislation. A number of the bills have come in response to the federal government’s recent announcement that same-sex couples will be given the same treatment as heterosexual couples under current tax law.

Source: RT

Deadly US drone strike violated civilian protections promised by Obama

deadly us drone strike yemen Deadly US drone strike violated civilian protections promised by Obama

The United States may have killed up to 12 civilians during a drone strike in Yemen last year, possibly violating both international law and the Obama administration’s own targeted killing policy, according to a report by Human Rights Watch.
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While US officials have claimed the December 2013 strike only killed members of Al-Qaeda, witnesses of the incident told HRW that the US actually ended up targeting a wedding procession. The witnesses said everyone killed and injured was a civilian.

For its part, the report found that the group targeted was indeed a wedding convoy, though it also allowed for the possibility that militants – whose identities are still unknown – were part of the group. Regardless, the report suggests that at least some civilian casualties were involved.

At least 12 men were killed as a result of the four Hellfire missiles launched at 11 vehicles, while another 15 were injured. Both US and Yemeni officials have also stated that the primary target of the strike, an Al-Qaeda leader named Shawqi Ali Ahmad al-Badani, was not killed and managed to escape.

“We asked both the Yemeni and the U.S. authorities to tell us which of the dead and wounded were members of militant groups and which if any were civilians,” report author Letta Tayler, a senior terrorism and counterterrorism researcher at HRW, said to the Associated Press. “They did not reply to this question.”

“While we do not rule out the possibility that [Al-Qaeda] fighters were killed and wounded in this strike, we also do not rule out the possibility that all of those killed and wounded were civilians.”

Either way, the report stated that if the United States failed to differentiate between noncombatants and militants before carrying out the strike, it may have violated international law “by causing civilian loss disproportionate to the expected military advantage.”

Additionally, the attack may have violated the targeted killing policy detailed by President Barack Obama in May 2013, in which he stated the need for “near certainty” that civilians would not be harmed by a strike. The US “has also failed to demonstrate that the alleged target was present, could not feasibly have been arrested, or posed a ‘continuing and imminent threat’—three other US policy requirements,” the report stated.

Three unnamed US officials told the AP the government has conducted two investigations of its own into the incident, both of which confirmed its initial claim: that only militants were killed in the strike. These reports have not been released to the public.

“When we believe that civilians may have been killed, we investigate thoroughly,” Caitlin Hayden, a National Security Council spokeswoman, told the AP. “In situations where we have concluded that civilians have been killed, the U.S. has made condolence payments where appropriate and possible.”

Still, Hayden wouldn’t confirm or deny whether any of those affected by this particular strike have received compensation.

In its report, HRW urges the US to conduct a transparent investigation into the incident, hold individuals accountable for any wrongdoing, and properly compensate the affected parties.

“The US refusal to explain a deadly attack on a marriage procession raises critical questions about the administration’s compliance with its own targeted killing policy,” Tayler said in a statement. “All Yemenis, especially the families of the dead and wounded, deserve to know why this wedding procession became a funeral.”

Meanwhile, updated figures by the New America Foundation have also shed light on American drone activity in Yemen. Since 2002, drone strikes in the country have killed between 78 and 84 civilians, with another 30-50 deaths that cannot be classified. With more than 900 total strikes carried out, somewhere between 600 and 800 enemy combatants have been killed. With the singular exception of one 2002 strike, all have been carried out by the Obama administration.

Source: RT

Homeland Security cancels national license plate tracking plan

Homeland Security cancels national license plate tracking plan Homeland Security cancels national license plate tracking plan

Only days after the US Department of Homeland Security began seeking a company to help it track license plates nationwide, the agency has reportedly canceled the initiative over civil liberties concerns.
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According to the Washington Post, Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson canceled the plan on Wednesday, after media outlets noticed a proposal by the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency looking for partners to help develop the tracking system.

As RT reported this week, the plan would allow DHS and other law enforcement officials to sift through a nationwide database of license plates once they are photographed, collected, and stored on a system owned by a private company. Government officials stated the database would be used to help locate illegal immigrants who are on the run from authorities, but civil liberties advocates became worried about the possibility that it would also be used to track the movement of American citizens.

ICE spokeswoman Gillian Christensen tried to downplay these concerns, saying the database “could only be accessed in conjunction with ongoing criminal investigations or to locate wanted individuals.”

These words didn’t do much to calm groups concerned with potential abuse, especially in light of ongoing leaks regarding the National Security Agency’s wide-ranging surveillance program.

“Ultimately, you’re creating a national database of location information,” Jennifer Lynch, a staff attorney with the Electronic Frontier Foundation said on Tuesday. “When all that data is compiled and aggregated you can track somebody as they go through their life.”

On Thursday, Christensen confirmed that DHS and ICE have nixed the project.

“The solicitation, which was posted without the awareness of ICE leadership, has been cancelled,” she said in a statement. “While we continue to support a range of technologies to help meet our law enforcement mission, this solicitation will be reviewed to ensure the path forward appropriately meets our operational needs.”

The decision was greeted with open arms by opponents, some of which found cause for concern even in Christensen’s statement. Speaking with the Post, Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) – the ranking Democrat on the House Homeland Security Committee – said the idea ICE leadership was unaware of the proposal “highlights a serious management problem within this DHS component that currently does not have a director nominated by the president.”

Others, meanwhile, were relieved to see the listing taken down, especially since the ICE’s promise to comply with the Privacy Act of 1974 did not necessarily mean the system wouldn’t be abused.

“The Privacy Act protections are quite weak, especially because they have loads of exemptions for law enforcement,” said Harley Geiger of the nonprofit Center for Democracy & Technology.

The cancellation of this nationwide initiative doesn’t mean that local law enforcement agencies don’t currently use similar methods. Private companies have already set up smaller license plate databases with local agencies in order to track traffic violations as well as suspected criminal meetings.

Source: RT

‘Reckless & unlawful’: Assange calls for probe into NSA ‘manhunt’ on WikiLeaks

Assange NSA manhunt wikileaks ‘Reckless & unlawful’: Assange calls for probe into NSA ‘manhunt’ on WikiLeaks

Julian Assange has called on the White House to appoint a special prosecutor to investigate NSA spying on WikiLeaks. Secret documents have revealed how the NSA spied on WikiLeaks and its followers, seeking to classify it as “a malicious foreign actor.”
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In its latest release of US government documents, WikiLeaks has accused the National Security Agency of tracking its members and followers. WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has called the NSA’s espionage program “reckless and illegal” and has demanded Washington open an investigation into the claims.

“News that the NSA planned these operations at the level of its Office of the General Counsel is especially troubling,” Assange said in a statement on WikiLeaks’ website. “Today, we call on the White House to appoint a special prosecutor to investigate the extent of the NSA’s criminal activity against the media, including WikiLeaks, its staff, its associates and its supporters.” 

The NSA went to great lengths in an attempt to justify its surveillance. According to 2011 documents leaked by Edward Snowden to The Intercept, the agency was considering classifying WikiLeaks as a“malicious foreign actor” which would have given the NSA more extensive surveillance powers. Moreover, Julian Assange was put on a so-called “manhunting” target list along with suspected Al-Qaeda terrorists.

The government entry into the “Manhunting Timeline” in 2010 describes the program as part of “an international effort to focus the legal element of national power upon non-state actor Assange, and the human network that supports WikiLeaks.”

The documents also note that the NSA considered classifying the torrent website Pirate Bay as a“malicious foreign actor.” The documents are inconclusive as to whether the site was finally classified as such, but classification would have meant the NSA gathered information on anyone – including American citizens – communicating with the organization for any reason.

The NSA was not alone in its sweeping espionage on the whistleblowing organization. It also enlisted its allies in the Five Eyes spying network (UK, New Zealand, Australia and Canada) as well as other nations. In documents dating back from August 2010, the US urged 10 other countries with forces in Afghanistan to consider pressing criminal charges against Julian Assange - “founder of the rogue WikiLeaks internet website and responsible for the unauthorized publication of over 70,000 classified documents covering the war in Afghanistan.”

 

 

The documents show the UK’s spy agency, the GCHQ played a significant role in monitoring the visitors to the WikiLeaks site. A leaked PowerPoint presentation details a program – created by Britain’s GCHQ and distributed amongst the Five Eyes in 2012 – that was especially designed to keep an eye on the site’s visitors. 

As part of the program – dubbed “Anti-crisis girl” in the documents – the GCHQ hauled in massive amounts of data from phone networks, internet cables and satellites.‘No respect for the rule of law’
The new revelations prompted immediate reaction from Julian Assange who decried both the NSA and the GCHQ for acting with total impunity. 

“The NSA and its UK accomplices show no respect for the rule of law,”
 he said in a statement on WikiLeaks’ site. “But there is a cost to conducting illicit actions against a media organization.”

WikiLeaks’ lawyer Judge Baltasar Garzon is now preparing an appropriate response to the new information and the organization has pledged that those responsible will be brought to justice. Garzon said the new documents are a testament to the fact the repression facing WikiLeaks is still very much alive. 

“The paradox is that Julian Assange and the WikiLeaks organization are being treated as a threat instead of what they are: a journalist and a media organization that are exercising their fundamental right to receive and impart information in its original form, free from omission and censorship, free from partisan interests, free from economic or political pressure,” he told the Intercept. 

Both the NSA and the GCHQ have so far refrained on commenting on the new claims from WikiLeaks.

Innocent man beaten and tasered by California police for signaling he is deaf

cop tasered and beaten deaf man Innocent man beaten and tasered by California police for signaling he is deaf

A California man was allegedly beaten and tasered multiple times by four police officers while attempting to signal that he was deaf. Now, he’s suing local law enforcement.
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The suit was filed on behalf of Jonathan Meister by the Greater Los Angeles Agency on Deafness, and claims police used excessive force and violated Meister’s civil rights under the Americans with Disabilities Act.

The incident took place on February 13, when Meister visited a friend to pick up snowboarding equipment that was stored in his home. Suspecting a burglary, a neighbor called out to the man, who didn’t respond because he cannot hear.

When two officers arrived at the scene shortly after, Meister reportedly put his boxes down and tried to use hand gestures to tell them he was deaf. As he approached police, though, the officers supposedly grabbed his hands, turned him around, and attempted to handcuff him.

“Because he is deaf, Mr. Meister depends on using his hands while facing a person to communicate,” the lawsuit states, according to a local publication called the Daily Breeze. “The officers’ sudden aggression, which both caused pain and interfered with his ability to communicate, caused Mr. Meister reflexively to pull his hands away, hop back over the fence and step toward the gate … to create some space so that he could communicate.”

Police then became more physical with Meister, taking him to the ground with a stun gun. Two other officers had arrived at the scene by this time, and helped the other officials by striking Meister with their fist and feet. The Courthouse News Service reported that in the lawsuit, Meister said police then subjected him to multiple “punishing shocks” with tasers and were purposely “burning his flesh.”

Meister was eventually knocked unconscious and taken to a hospital, where he was charged with assault. Police described him as “aggressive and violent” in their report, but ultimately ended up dropping the charges and releasing him.

According to Courthouse News, Meister’s lawsuit claims the entire confrontation could have been avoided if Hawthorne police were trained to properly communicate with deaf individuals.

“We’re really concerned about the problem of law enforcement and people who are deaf,” said Meister’s attorney, Paula Pearlman, to the Daily Breeze. “He wasn’t doing anything other than trying to get away from people who were hurting him.”

The Hawthorne Police Department declined to comment on the situation.

Source: RT

DARPA developing ultimate web search engine to police the internet

darpa internet search engine DARPA developing ultimate web search engine to police the internet

​The Pentagon’s research arm that fosters futuristic technology for the military will soon begin working to surpass current abilities of commercial web search engines. Yet, once it masters the “deep Web,” the agency doesn’t say much about what comes next.

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The Defense Advanced Research (DARPA) said its “Memex” project will be able to search the far corners of internet content that is unattainable by modern, mainstream search engines, offering DARPA“technological superiority in the area of content indexing and Web search on the Internet.”

DARPA said earlier this month in its solicitation announcement for Memex proposals that the system will initially be used to counter human trafficking, which often thrives in web forums, chat rooms, job postings, hidden services and other websites.

To root out trafficking operations within the invisible corners of the web, commonly referred to as the“deep web,” Memex (a melding of “memory” and “index”“will address the inherent shortcomings of centralized search by developing technology for domain-specific indexing of Web content and domain-specific search capabilities.”

With Memex, DARPA hopes to achieve the ability for decentralized, automated, topic-precise searches that can leverage image recognition and natural language technology.

DARPA has asked researchers to develop advanced web-crawler software to reach sites and resources that have sophisticated crawler defenses. Memex operators would then be able to access the indexed domain-relevant content with much greater precision and ease than is currently possible.

Memex, DARPA says, will be first employed against human trafficking, which, “especially for the commercial sex trade, is a line of business with significant Web presence to attract customers and is relevant to many types of military, law enforcement, and intelligence investigations.”

DARPA says that dark places online where trafficking occurs enables “a growing industry of modern slavery” that can be stopped with Memex capabilities.

“An index curated for the counter trafficking domain, including labor and sex trafficking, along with configurable interfaces for search and analysis will enable a new opportunity for military, law enforcement, legal, and intelligence actions to be taken against trafficking enterprises,” DARPA’s solicitation announcement reads.

Yet while DARPA mentions the usefulness of such technology for law enforcement and investigative purposes regarding human trafficking – basically, crimes few are opposed to stopping – it does not address the myriad other uses Memex would offer the US military, government intelligence operations, or police actions.

Amid the recent disclosures of government spying via the National Security Agency’s operations, the topic of complete surveillance over the entirety of the web is a sore subject. Thus, DARPA says it is“specifically not interested in proposals for the following: attributing anonymous services deanonymizing or attributing identity to servers or IP addresses, or gaining access to information which is not intended to be publicly available.”

How DARPA would catch traffickers without “deanonymizing” someone, though, the agency does not explain. Nor does it address just how far it wants to out anyone hiding in the deep web for legitimate reasons, whether they are journalists, whistleblowers, activists, and the like.

The Memex project takes its name from a 1945 article in The Atlantic titled “As We May Think,” by Dr. Vannevar Bush, head of the White House Office of Scientific Research and Development. Bush envisioned a “device” that could be used for finding and categorizing the world’s information, acting as a supplement for the human brain.

“In a nutshell, Bush wanted to mimic how the human brain thinks, learns, and remembers information,”writes Motherboard. “Which is exactly what artificial intelligence researchers at the DoD and in Silicon Valley are trying to do now, to glean better insights from the unruly army of big data being collected by web giants and the military alike.”

The Memex project is expected to run over the next three years, with proposals due in April.

Source: RT

Judge sides with US servicemen used as guinea pigs in terrifying Cold War experiment

US Dept Army Judge sides with US servicemen used as guinea pigs in terrifying Cold War experiment

A federal judge has ruled the United States Army must quickly inform veterans of any potentially harmful health effects stemming from the secret medical and drug experiments conducted on them during the Cold War.
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According to a report by Courthouse News wire service, the ruling comes in favor of 7,800 soldiers claiming to have been involved in the experiments. After recruiting Nazi scientists to help through a program called “Project Paperclip,” the Army and CIA administered between 250 and 400 kinds of drugs to the soldiers in an attempt to advance US ability to wage war.

Among the many drugs used were Sarin, amphetamines, LSD, mustard gas, THC, incapacitating agents, and phosgene, a chemical weapon used in trenches during World War I. By administering these drugs and others, the military hoped to uncover new ways to control human behavior, pinpoint weaknesses, hypnotize, and increase an individual’s resistance to torture.

These experiments began in the 1950s and continued until President Richard Nixon halted research into offensive chemical weapons in 1969. Although soldiers signed consent forms agreeing to undertake the experiments, the soldiers argued in court they essentially had no other choice under training that directed them to follow orders. Veterans also argued these forms violated international law and the Wilson Directive, which mandates voluntary consent as “essential.”

After U.S. District Judge Claudia Wilken ruled the Army must notify veterans of possible health concerns related to the experiments in November, the Army requested a delay in the process, claiming the notification process would cost nearly $9 million. This request was denied after Wilken ruled the cost borne by the Army paled in comparison to the health of veterans.

“On the one hand, there are the expenses that will be incurred by defendants and, on the other, there is the very real possibility that the aging and adversely affected test subjects will not learn about health effects that could be mitigated if known,” Wilken wrote, according to Courthouse News.

“Any expense incurred by defendants doing research and providing information to adversely affected test subjects, even if defendants should not have been required to incur those expenses, would not be wasted.

“However, lost time for the adversely affected test subjects could lead to irreversible health consequences.”

The lingering effects of the experiments have become grounds for contention between former soldiers and the Department of Veterans Affairs. Many veterans believe the long-term health issues they’ve developed can be traced directly back to the drugs they took decades ago at the behest of the government. The VA, however, has declined to cover the medical costs for the vast majority of those applying for coverage.

Speaking to CNN back in 2012, former Army Private Tim Josephs said that unless he agreed to the terms outlined in the experimental consent form, he would be thrown in jail.

“Sometimes it was an injection. Other times it was a pill,” Josephs said, though he didn’t know what exactly he was taking. “A lot of chemicals were referred to as agent one or agent two.”

Nonetheless, once the military began administering the drugs, Josephs was told, “There is nothing here that could ever harm you.” Nowadays, he has been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease and was forced to retire early. The VA granted him 40 percent disability, but others haven’t been so lucky: roughly 84 of 86 health claims related to chemical or biological contact are turned down.

“The whole thing stinks, and if the American people knew about it, they would not tolerate it,” said attorney Gordon Erspamer to CNN. “This kind of behavior toward our veterans would not be allowed to happen.”

Source: RT

 

Trooper sues more than 100 cops for harassment after pulling over Miami police officer

FHP Pullover Miami cop Trooper sues more than 100 cops for harassment after pulling over Miami police officer

Florida Highway Patrol trooper Donna Jane Watts was just doing her job when she pulled over a Miami police officer for topping speeds of 120 mph, but the fallout has been anything but routine: She’s now suing her colleagues for harassment.
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According to the Florida-based Sun-Sentinel, Watts has filed a lawsuit against more than 100 police officers and agencies for illegally accessing her personal information and creating a “life-threatening situation.”

Watts claims the harassment by law enforcement began after she pulled over Miami cop FaUsto Lopez in October 2011 for speeding in his patrol car. Traveling well over 100 mph, Lopez was reportedly weaving in and out of lanes so fast it took Watts seven minutes to pull him over even with her lights flashing and sirens blaring.

FHP Pullover Miami cop 2 Trooper sues more than 100 cops for harassment after pulling over Miami police officer

When Lopez finally pulled aside, Watts made her way to the police vehicle with her gun drawn, handcuffed the Miami officer, and took his weapon.

Lopez was eventually fired for his behavior, but that was just the beginning of the story for Watts. She began receiving phone calls from unknown phone numbers – some of which were prank calls, while others contained threats. The lawsuit alleges that orders for pizza were made in her name without her knowledge, and that multiple police vehicles would linger in front of her house or on her street.

The lawsuit states the situation became so dire that Watts “started to experience physical symptoms to include dry heaves and nausea when performing basic activities such as opening her mailbox, starting her ignition, or when being followed by a law enforcement vehicle for no apparent reason.”

FHP Pullover Miami cop 3 Trooper sues more than 100 cops for harassment after pulling over Miami police officer

After filing a public records request with the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, Watts discovered that her personal information was accessed by at least 88 officers from 25 different jurisdictions over a three-month span. Her profile was viewed more than 200 times total – a number that attorney Mirta Desir claims violates the Driver Privacy Protection Act. Under that law, improperly accessing an individuals profile results in a $2,500 fine per violation.

“This is an invasion of privacy,” Desir, who is representing Watts, told the Sun-Sentinel. “Law enforcement does have access to information most residents don’t and with that level of access there should come a certain amount of care. … This is something that is not supposed to be done.”

The various officials and law enforcement agencies have declined to comment on the matter, but they have asked the judge involved to throw out the lawsuit. According to the Associated Press, they believe Congress can only impose a penalty on police officers for selling personal data, not simply for viewing it.

0 Trooper sues more than 100 cops for harassment after pulling over Miami police officer

The Department of Justice, however, disagrees, and has filed its own argument stating that multiple courts have upheld Congress’ right to monitor the issue regardless of whether information is sold or not.

“There is value in drivers’ information and a market for it,” Justice Department lawyers said to the AP.“What the defendants fail to recognize is that there is value in drivers’ information whether or not it is actually sold.”

Already, some police agencies have settled the lawsuit with Watts, acknowledging that their employees had broken the law. The city of Margate agreed to pay Watts $10,000 for the incident.

Even so, groups like the National Association of Police Agencies are now looking to change the law itself and remove the $2,500 penalty except for cases in which officers pursue opportunities to make money off personal data.

As for Watts herself, she’s still employed by the FHP, but has been relocated to another county.

Source: RT

Use of NSA metadata to find drone targets kills civilians – Greenwald

nsa headquarters Use of NSA metadata to find drone targets kills civilians – Greenwald

The US is relying upon NSA metadata to identify targets for drone strikes, reports the Intercept. A former NSA operative said the tactic is flawed and the agency targets phones “in the hopes that the person on the other end of the missile is the bad guy.”
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Citing documents leaked by Edward Snowden and testimonies from former Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) members, Glen Greenwald and colleague Jeremy Scahill have revealed the extent which the US military is using NSA intel to establish targets for drone strikes in an article in the Intercept.

The most common tactic employed by the NSA is known as ‘geolocation’, which entails locking on to the SIM card or handset of a suspected terrorist. A former drone sensor operator with the US Air Force, Brandon Bryant, told the Intercept that using the metadata led to inaccuracies that killed civilians.

The NSA uses a program called Geo Cell to follow potential targets and often do not verify whether the carrier of the phone is the intended target of the strike.

“It’s really like we’re targeting a cell phone. We’re not going after people – we’re going after their phones, in the hopes that the person on the other end of that missile is the bad guy,”
 Bryant told the Intercept – the nascent news site created by eBay founder Pierre Omidyar to “to hold the most powerful governmental and corporate factions accountable.”

Over the past five years the NSA “has played an increasingly central role in drone killing,” but the growing reliance on metadata to find insurgents is also targeting civilians. The analysis of the electronic surveillance leaves a lot of room for error and can kill “the wrong people.”

Moreover, the lack of operatives on the ground in Afghanistan, Yemen and Pakistan means the JSOC is often not able to confirm the identity of the targets.

‘Gilgamesh’ and ‘Shenanigans’

Instead of accessing cellphone metadata through cell phone towers and internet service providers, the NSA uses a program called Gilgamesh. To be able to track the cellphones of potential targets a special device known as a ‘virtual base-tower transceiver’ has to be installed on the drone. The transceiver emits a signal that forces the target’s mobile to lock into the NSA’s system, allowing the target to be tracked to within 30 feet of their location.

As well as Gilgamesh, the NSA has developed a program known as ‘Shenanigans’ that acts like a giant cyber vacuum cleaner. A pod on an aircraft downloads massive amounts of information from any wireless networks, smart phones, computers, or other electronic devices that are within range.

Bryant told the Intercept the “JSOC acknowledges that it would be completely helpless without the NSA conducting mass surveillance on an industrial level.”

Noting that innocent people have “absolutely” been killed in these strikes, Bryant said that some terrorists have got wise to geo-tracking and have developed a number of tricks to elude the NSA. Taliban groups, he said, had been known to purposely distribute SIM cards among their organization to muddle trackers.

“They would do things like go to meetings, take all their SIM cards out, put them in a bag, mix them up, and everybody gets a different SIM card when they leave,” said Bryant, adding the targets “might have been terrorists, or they could have been family members who have nothing to do with the target’s activities.”

The classified data paints a very different picture of the targeted killings to Washington’s stance on the matter. The White House maintains the strikes are conducted with the utmost precision and all possible measures are taken to minimize civilian casualties.

Last year President Obama claimed “before any strike is taken, there must be near-certainty that no civilians will be killed or injured.”

GCHQ secret unit uses DDOS attack tactics against Anonymous – Snowden leak

Anon GCHQ secret unit uses DDOS attack tactics against Anonymous – Snowden leak

British intelligence has its own hacker subdivision that uses questionable practices for hunting down enemies of the state, reveals a new leak from Edward Snowden. GCHQ is fighting Anonymous and LulzSec hacktivists with DDoS attacks and malware.
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classified document obtained by NBC News reveals that the British secret service is brandishing a cyber-sword in the guise of the Joint Threat Research Intelligence Group (JTRIG), an intelligence unit not constrained by domestic or international laws.

The JTRIG unit is staging distributed denial of service (DDoS) cyber-attacks, implanting malware to disclose identities of hackers in order to prevent their communications. JTRIG is such a secret unit that its very name has never been mentioned anywhere before.

A PowerPoint presentation prepared for a 2012 NSA conference called SIGDEV, obviously from the collection of documents from the former NSA contractor, Edward Snowden, contains information about the Rolling Thunder operation against Anonymous hacktivists. JTRIG organized a DDoS attack on the internet relay chat (IRC) used by Anonymous, which reportedly resulted in 80 percent of the users quitting internet chat rooms.

The fact that the presentation was made at a conference of America’s National Security Agency is particularly interesting. It means that the NSA was informed about such governmental activities in the UK.

A DDoS attack is a criminal offence in most countries, the US and UK included. For example, in the UK a person found guilty of a cyber attack would be charged in accordance with the Computer Misuse Act, while in the US such illegal activities are prosecuted with the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA).

Servers GCHQ secret unit uses DDOS attack tactics against Anonymous – Snowden leak

Besides that, according to cyber experts, a DDOS attack takes down an entire server, with all websites hosted on it, along with other severs operated by the same Internet Server Provider (ISP). This means that while attacking Anonymous chat rooms, JTRIG was actually disabling other web resources that had no connection to Anonymous whatsoever.

If the fact of a DDoS attack by a secret service gets some independent proof, it would mean that Britain will become the first state incriminated in staging a cyber-attack, internationally recognized as unlawful.

“Law enforcement and intelligence officials must be able to pursue individuals who are going far beyond speech and into the realm of breaking the law: defacing and stealing private property that happens to be online,” said the former head of the US National Counterterrorism Center and now an NBC News analyst Michael Leiter, noting that “there must, of course, be limitations”.

“No one should be targeted for speech or thoughts, but there is no reason law enforcement officials should unilaterally declare law breakers safe in the online environment,” said Leiter.

“Targeting Anonymous and hacktivists amounts to targeting citizens for expressing their political beliefs,”said NBC News’ Gabriella Coleman, an anthropology professor at McGill University.

In another NSA document in possession of NBC News, a JTRIG official maintains that the unit’s activities are definitely not limited to computer network protection. JTRIG is staging attacks itself, Such as “Active Covert Internet Operations” and “Covert Technical Operations”. The unit is vigorously using cyber tools to disrupt enemy communications, engaging in computer and phone jamming, breaching email accounts and conducting ‘false flag’ operations.

The Anonymous global hacker community emerged in 2011, and conducted the “Operation Payback” campaign, a series of attacks against government websites in Britain and the US in protest against the prosecution of Chelsea Manning, who handed over thousands of classified US military documents to WikiLeaks. They also attacked several financial organizations, such as credit card companies and the PayPal pay service for blocking donations support to WikiLeaks.

Source: RT