Processing Distortion with Peter B. Collins: “Free Shaker Aamer!”

Peter B. Collins Presents Andy Worthington

In the second of two reports on Guantanamo prisoners, Andy Worthington details the new campaign to bring home Shaker Aamer, the last Briton at Gitmo. With a large, inflatable “Shaker” and a heartfelt endorsement from Pink Floyd’s Roger Waters, activists are demanding that the Cameron government negotiate the immediate release of Aamer, who has been held for 13 years without charge or trial, and was cleared for release 5 years ago. We talk about the recent transfer of 6 prisoners, with 10 more reported to be imminent, and the disappointing recent ruling about force feeding by Judge Gladys Kessler. Roger Waters makes a cameo appearance.

*Andy Worthington is a British journalist and author of The Guantanamo Files. Visit his website here and the Shaker Aamer site here

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Processing Distortion with Peter B. Collins: Gitmo Force Feeding Case Update

Peter B. Collins Presents Attorney Jon Eisenberg

Hunger striking prisoners at Guantanamo are often forcibly “extracted” from their cells to be force fed. Jon Eisenberg relates the recent ruling in the case of Abu Wa’el Dhiab, where Judge Gladys Kessler showed compassion for Dhiab and expressed outrage over aspects of his treatment, but failed to address the key legal issues. While he is very disappointed in the ruling, Eisenberg confirms that there was a secret hearing with only government lawyers present, and notes that he is pursuing the same legal points in another case before a different judge. He says Dhiab’s treatment has improved, and that the release of videos of cell extraction and force feeding may be delayed by government appeals.

*Jon B. Eisenberg is an attorney in Oakland, California who is one of many pro bono lawyers aligned with Reprieve (UK) and the Center for Constitutional Rights. He was lead counsel in the al Haramain illegal wiretapping case.

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Podcast Show #116-Anwar al-Awlaki: An Agent of Terror on the Government Payroll

The Boiling Frogs Show Presents Chris Farrell

In this riveting and bold episode we are joined by Chris Farrell to discuss the severely classified status of assassinated terror agent Anwar al-Awlaki as an agent of the United States government. Mr. Farrell delves into Judicial Watch investigations and findings pertaining to al-Awlaki’s relationship and status with the FBI and CIA, the extraordinary measures taken by the government to classify all pertinent documents related to its ongoing relationship and connections with al-Awlaki, and how this case parallels several others such as Ali Mohamed. We discuss the US government’s ongoing partnership and joint operations with Al-Qaeda, starting with the Afghan-Soviet war and continuing into our operations in Central Asia-Caucasus, Balkans all the way to Libya and Syria. Do Not Miss this explosive and daring interview!

Christopher J. Farrell is the Director of Investigations & Research at Judicial Watch. He was a Distinguished Military Graduate from Fordham University with a B.A. in History, and is a graduate of the Military Intelligence Officers Basic and Advanced Courses, the U.S. Army Advanced Counterintelligence Training Course, the Combined Arms Services Staff School of the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College, the Defense Intelligence Agency’s Military Operations Training Course, and the Haus Rissen Institut für Politik und Wirtschaft in Hamburg, Germany.He has pursued additional graduate studies in National Security Studies, specializing in unconventional warfare and terrorism. Mr. Farrell serves as the Judicial Watch main representative to United Nations Headquarters in New York.

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The Makings of a Police State-Part IV

Secret reports, Secret budgets, Secret operations, Secret courts … A Secret Government!

 
The liberties of a people never were, nor ever will be, secure, when the transactions of their rulers may be concealed from them. -- Patrick Henry

As stated by Patrick Henry with conviction and passion, a democratic government will not last if its operations and policies are not visible to its public. The foundation of our democratic republic is supposed to be based on an open and accountable government. Transparency is what enables accountability.

TopSecFor several decades post 1945, under the guise of the Cold War, with the creation of the Central Intelligence Agency and an aggressive foreign policy based on overt and covert intervention abroad, the seeds of excessive secrecy were planted, aggressively nurtured, and taken to heights not imaginable in our founding fathers’ vision of transparent and accountable government. Although the Watergate Scandal brought a short-lived wave of awakening, and to a certain degree defiance, by getting Americans to question the extent of and the real need for governmental secrecy, the subsequent political movements were eventually halted with no real action ever taken, thanks to a Congress unwilling to truly exercise its oversight authority over the intelligence community.

With the September 11 Terrorist Attacks the establishment had all it needed to take government secrecy to new heights where neither the Constitution nor the separation of powers would matter or be applicable. These new heights could never be reached in a functioning and live democracy, nor could they be sustained and flourish without a home marked by all the characteristics of a police state. Those new heights were indeed reached, and they surely have been not only sustained, but actually increased; notch by notch. Waving the national security flag nonstop, reminding us on a daily basis of some vague boogiemen terrorists who may be hiding under our beds, drilling the words terror-terrorists-terrorism every hour, did the magic; thanks to the US Media.

Let’s examine some of these new heights of secrecy we’ve reached and appear to have accepted:

The Cost

For the fiscal year 2005, based on an official report released by the National Archives, the total security classification cost estimates for Government was $7.7 billion. This figure represents costs provided by 41 executive branch agencies, including the Department of Defense. But it does not include the cost estimates of the CIA, which is classified by the agency. Here is the breakdown:

Personnel Security = $1.15 Billion
Physical Security = $1 Billion
Information Security = $4 Billion

Information Technology = $3.6 Billion
Classification Management =
$310 Million
Declassification
= $57 Million

Professional Education and Training = $219 Million
Security Management and Planning = $1.2 Billion
Unique = $6.6 Million

Total= $7.7 Billion

Based on the consensus among the knowledgeable this was truly a new height for government secrecy spun out of control. But wait, this new record height was short-lived! It climbed much higher very quickly. Here is the major new height for 2007 secrecy as reported by the US Information Security Oversight Office:

The U.S. Information Security

Oversight Office recorded an all-time-high record in the cost of implementing the national security classification system.

The annual report, released Thursday, representing the classification and declassification activity throughout the executive branch, said the cost of national security classifications totaled $9.91 billion in 2007. The total cost was a 4.6 percent increase over 2006 and became the highest total recorded in ISOO's history.

That’s right. In two years the cost of our government’s classification and its secrecy increased from $7.7 Billion to $9.91 Billion. And, as with the 2005 cost this too does not include the CIA and other classified operations and entities we don’t know about. Just keep in mind all those rendition, detention and torture operations we’ve been engaged in around the globe.

The Trend

The following is a snap shot of a few items in the Secrecy Report Card for 2008 issued by Open the Government:

18% of DOD FY 2008 Acquisition Budget, equaling to more than $31 Billion, is classified.

Our Secret FISA Court issued 2,371 secret orders in 2007.

Over 25% of our Federal Government’s Contracts, equaling to $114 billion, were granted with no competition whatsoever.

Over 64% of the 7,067 meetings of Federal Advisory Committees on scientific technical areas were completely closed to the public.

What does this tell us? Secret Budgets, Secret Courts & Secret Orders, Secret Meetings, no-competition & no-oversight contracts paid by taxpayers’ dollars…

Secret Budgets, Secret Expenditures

What does it mean when we keep hearing secret budget for this agency, secret budget for that acquisition, secret budget for this and that operation? Take this example:

The Defense Department will spend $35.8 billion on secret technologies in 2010, according to a new report from the Washington, D.C.-based Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments.

“Restrictions placed on access to classified programs have meant that DoD and Congress typically exercise less oversight over classified programs than unclassified ones,” the report notes. That can result in big losses, when programs go awry.

Take the hush-hush Future Imagery Architecture program, meant to “develop the next generation of spy satellites for the National Reconnaissance Office.” “The electro-optical satellite component of the program was canceled in 2005 due to significant cost overruns and technical issues,” CSBA recalls, “resulting in what was reported as a $4 billion loss for the government.”

We’ve seen many examples like this; CIA, NSA, DOD, FBI…Here is another ludicrous example: [Read more...]