Friday, August 22, 2014

NPR Is Laundering CIA Talking Points

NPR's (now former) Washington, DC headquarters. (photo: unknown)

NPR Is Laundering CIA Talking Points

By Glenn Greenwald, Andrew Fishman, The Intercept
13 August 14

In August 1, NPR’s Morning Edition broadcast a story by NPR national security reporter Dina Temple-Raston touting explosive claims from what she called “a tech firm based in Cambridge, Massachusetts.” That firm, Recorded Future, worked together with “a cyber expert, Mario Vuksan, the CEO of ReversingLabs,” to produce a new report that purported to vindicate the repeated accusation from U.S. officials that “revelations from former NSA contract worker Edward Snowden harmed national security and allowed terrorists to develop their own countermeasures.”

The “big data firm,” reported NPR, says that it now “has tangible evidence” proving the government’s accusations. Temple-Raston’s four-minute, 12-second story devoted the first 3 minutes and 20 seconds to uncritically repeating the report’s key conclusion that ”just months after the Snowden documents were released, al-Qaeda dramatically changed the way its operatives interacted online” and, post-Snowden, “al-Qaeda didn’t just tinker at the edges of its seven-year-old encryption software; it overhauled it.” The only skepticism in the NPR report was relegated to 44 seconds at the end when she quoted security expert Bruce Schneier, who questioned the causal relationship between the Snowden disclosures and the new terrorist encryption programs, as well as the efficacy of the new encryption.

With this report, Temple-Raston seriously misled NPR’s millions of listeners. To begin with, Recorded Future, the outfit that produced the government-affirming report, is anything but independent. To the contrary, it is funded by the CIA and U.S. intelligence community with millions of dollars. Back in 2010, it also filed forms to become a vendor for the NSA. (In response to questions from The Intercept, the company’s vice president Jason Hines refused to say whether it works for the NSA, telling us that we should go FOIA that information if we want to know. But according to public reports, Recorded Future “earns most of its revenue from selling to Wall Street quants and intelligence agencies.”)

The connection between Recorded Future and the U.S. intelligence community is long known. Back in July, 2010, Wired‘s Noah Shachtman revealed that the company is backed by both “the investment arms of the CIA and Google.”

Indeed, In-Q-Tel—the deep-pocket investment arm of both the CIA and other intelligence agencies (including the NSA)—has seats on Recorded Future’s board of directors and, on its website, lists Recorded Future as one of the companies in its “portfolio.” In stark contrast to NPR, The New York Times noted these connections when reporting on the firm in 2011: “Recorded Future is financed with $8 million from the likes of Google’s venture arm and In-Q-Tel, which makes investments to benefit the United States intelligence community, and its clients have included government agencies and banks.”
Worse, Temple-Raston knows all of this. Back in 2012, NPR’s Morning Edition broadcast her profile of Recorded Future and its claimed ability to predict the future by gathering internet data. At the end of her report, she noted that the firm has “at least two very important financial backers: the CIA’s investment arm, called In-Q-Tel, and Google Ventures. They have reportedly poured millions into the company.”

That is the company she’s now featuring as some sort of independent source that can credibly vindicate the claims of U.S. officials about how Snowden reporting helps terrorists.

Beyond all that, the “cyber expert” who Temple-Raston told NPR listeners was “brought in” by Recorded Future to “investigate” these claims—Mario Vuksan, the CEO of ReversingLabs—has his own significant financial ties to the U.S. intelligence community. In 2012, In-Q-Tel proudly touted a “strategic partnership” with ReversingLabs to develop new technology for the Department of Homeland Security. Vuskan hailed the partnership as vital to his company’s future prospects.

If one wants to argue that a government-mimicking report from a company that is funded by the CIA, and whose board is composed in part of its investment arm, and which centrally relies on research from another CIA partner is somehow newsworthy—fine, one can have that debate. But to pass it off as some sort of independent analysis without even mentioning those central ties is reckless and deceitful—especially when, as is true here, the reporter doing it clearly knows about those ties.
Beyond all these CIA connections, the conclusion touted in the NPR report—that al-Qaeda developed more sophisticated encryption techniques due to the Snowden reporting—is dubious in the extreme. It is also undercut by documents contained in the Snowden archive.

The Recorded Future “report”—which was actually nothing more than a short blog post—is designed to bolster the year-long fear-mongering campaign of U.S. and British officials arguing that terrorists would realize the need to hide their communications and develop effective means of doing so by virtue of the Snowden reporting. Predictably, former NSA General Counsel Stewart Baker promptly seized on the report (still concealing the firm’s CIA connections from readers) to argue in The Washington Post that “the evidence is mounting that Edward Snowden and his journalist allies have helped al-Qaeda improve their security against NSA surveillance.”

But actual terrorists—long before the Snowden reporting—have been fixated on developing encryption methods and other techniques to protect their communications from electronic surveillance. And they have succeeded in a quite sophisticated manner.

One document found in the GCHQ archive provided by Snowden is a 45-page, single-spaced manual that the British spy agency calls a “Jihadist Handbook.” Though undated, the content suggests it was originally written in 2002 or 2003: more than 10 years before the Snowden reporting began. It appears to have been last updated shortly after September 2003, and translated into English by GCHQ sometime in 2005 or 2006. Much of it is found online in Arabic. The handbook appears to be an excerpt from a 268-page document called “Abu Zubaydah’s Encyclopedia.” The encyclopedia, uploaded in Arabic to the internet in 2011, describes itself as the “cumulative result of efforts of the brothers who walked on the path of jihad” and contains highly specific and sophisticated instructions for avoiding electronic surveillance.

The first section of the decade-old handbook is entitled “The General Security for all Means of Communication” and includes directions on how to keep landline and mobile telephone calls, emails, and online chats secure. It also includes a detailed discussion of how SIM cards in cell phones can be used by the NSA as tracking devices: exactly the subject of the very first story The Intercept ever published from the Snowden material. The manual further instructs operatives that merely turning off one’s cell phone is insufficient to avoid tracking; instead, it instructs, both the battery and SIM card must be removed. It extensively describes how code words should be used for all online communications.

So sophisticated is the 10-year-old “Jihadist Manual” that, in many sections, it is virtually identical to the GCHQ’s own manual, developed years later (in 2010), for instructing its operatives how to keep their communications secure:

Long before the Snowden reporting, then, those considered by the U.S. to be “terrorists” have been fixated on avoiding electronic surveillance, which is why Osama bin Laden communicated only through personal courier. The “Jihadist Handbook” demonstrates how widespread and sophisticated these techniques have been for many years (GCHQ declined to respond beyond its routine boilerplate claiming that its operations are legal, which has nothing to do with this story).

Then there are the glaring and self-evident fallacies in the report itself. The principal claim on which its conclusion is based is the chronology that extremist groups announced a roll-out of “the first Islamic encryption software for mobiles” in September, 2013 (3 months after the first Snowden report), followed by a new encryption product in December (“The Mujahid’s Security”).

But it should go without saying that this proves nothing about causation; it is a basic logical principlethat “A precedes B” is not evidence that ”A caused B.” The original Recorded Future report literally did nothing more than assert that there were visible encryption improvements from al-Qaeda that post-dated the first Snowden story, and then, based on no evidence, just asserted the causal link.

Beyond that obvious post hoc ergo propter hoc fallacy, there is no question that “jihadists” have been working for years on sophisticated tactics for communications security; the fact that they continued to be after the Snowden reporting began literally proves nothing.

Indeed, in September of last year, The New York Times made clear that the “jihadists” began developing their own advanced encryption methods years before the start of the Snowden reporting:

Al Qaeda’s use of advanced encryption technology dates to 2007, when the Global Islamic Media Front released the Asrar al-Mujahedeen, or so-called “Mujahedeen Secrets,” software. An updated version, Mujahedeen Secrets 2, was released in January 2008, and has been revised at least twice, most recently in May 2012, analysts said.

The program was popularized in the first issue of Inspire, Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula’s quarterly online magazine, in a July 2010 post entitled “How to Use Asrar al-Mujahedeen: Sending and Receiving Encrypted Messages.”

Since then, each issue of Inspire has offered a how-to section on encrypting communications, recommending MS2 as the main encryption tool.

All the way back in February, 2001, USA Today reported that al-Qaeda and other groups have been using “uncrackable encryption” since the mid-1990s; the 2001 article stated: “encryption has become the everyday tool of Muslim extremists in Afghanistan, Albania, Britain, Kashmir, Kosovo, the Philippines, Syria, the USA, the West Bank and Gaza and Yemen, U.S. officials say.”

As has long been clear, “the terrorists” did not need Snowden reporting to know that the U.S. and its partners are doing everything possible to monitor their communications. It is certainly possible that some extremists, like ordinary users all over the world, are more conscious now than before about the need to secure their communications—just as some extremists became aware of interrogation techniques they may face if detained by virtue of reporting on American torture (which is why torture advocates argued that such reporting also helped terrorists). But the key revelation of the Snowden reporting is that the surveillance system built in secret by the NSA and its partners is directed at hundreds of millions of ordinary people and entire populations rather than “the terrorists.”

Responding to one of the criticisms about the glaring flaws in its report (the obvious absence of causation evidence), Recorded Future admits that “in 2007 Al-Qaeda (AQ) had one encryption product (Asrar) for one platform (PC) which has since been periodically updated (e.g. in 2008).” They claim there was a “significant uptick” after the Snowden reporting but still offer no evidence of a causal connection nor any explanation as to what “the terrorists” learned from those reports that could help them better safeguard their communications or that would provide added motivation to shield those communications.

Critically, even if one wanted to accept Recorded Future’s timeline as true, there are all sorts of plausible reasons other than Snowden revelations why these groups would have been motivated to develop new encryption protections. One obvious impetus is the August 2013 government boasting to McClatchy (and The Daily Beast) that the State Department ordered the closing of 21 embassies because of what it learned from an intercepted “conference call” among Al Qaeda leaders:
An official who’d been briefed on the matter in Sanaa, the Yemeni capital, told McClatchy that the embassy closings and travel advisory were the result of an intercepted communication between Nasir al-Wuhayshi, the head of the Yemen-based Al Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula, and al Qaida leader Ayman al Zawahiri in which Zawahiri gave “clear orders” to al-Wuhaysi, who was recently named al Qaida’s general manager, to carry out an attack.

As The Daily Beast put it: “Al-Qaeda leaders had assumed the conference calls, which give Zawahiri the ability to manage his organization from a remote location, were secure. But leaks about the original intercepts have likely exposed the operation that allowed the U.S. intelligence community to listen in on the al-Qaeda board meetings.”

It does the U.S. government no good to attribute these new encryption efforts to leaks from the U.S. government itself. Recorded Future thus ignores that possibility altogether and suggests—with absolutely no evidence—that it was due to Snowden revelations.

They do so even though The New York Times reported a month after the “conference call” leak that ”senior officials have made a startling finding: the impact of a leaked terrorist plot by Al Qaeda in August has caused more immediate damage to American counterterrorism efforts than the thousands of classified documents disclosed by Edward Snowden.” The NYT added: “The drop in message traffic after the communication intercepts contrasts with what analysts describe as a far more muted impact on counterterrorism efforts from the disclosures by Mr. Snowden of the broad capabilities of N.S.A. surveillance programs.”

Then there’s the completely unproven yet vital assumption that this series of events—even if they happened this way—actually helped the terrorists evade monitoring. Bruce Schneier, the security expert quoted at the end of the NPR report, thinks exactly the opposite is true. He notes numerous journalists, in the wake of the report, asked him “how this will adversely affect US intelligence efforts,” and he explained:
I think the reverse is true. I think this will help US intelligence efforts. Cryptography is hard, and the odds that a home-brew encryption product is better than a well-studied open-source tool is slight. Last fall, Matt Blaze said to me that he thought that the Snowden documents will usher in a new dark age of cryptography, as people abandon good algorithms and software for snake oil of their own devising. My guess is that this an example of that.

Chris Soghoian, technologist for the ACLU (whose lawyers represent Snowden) noted that these types of stories have been emerging long before Snowden reporting, telling The Intercept: “every few years, a think tank or security company puts out a report on the use of bespoke encryption software by terrorists, and then media eats it up.”

In the wake of such criticism, Recorded Future issued a supplement to its report, this time claiming that the terrorists “are not using home-brew crypto algorithms” but rather “off the shelf” methods of cryptography. But like Schneier, Soghoian suggested that the developments claimed by Recorded Future would make it easier, not harder, for the U.S. government to monitor the communications of extremists:

If we assume that these programs are developed and distributed by jihadist sympathizers, and not an intelligence service, then the fact that they continue to develop new encryption tools and advocate their use is only further evidence that they don’t really know what they’re doing. Using terrorist-specific encryption tools will only attract the attention of intelligence agencies. If smart terrorists are using encryption, they’re likely using tools like Tor and PGP, the same tools used by government agencies, corporations, journalists, activists and security experts.

Then there are the bizarre implications from embracing the claims of the Recorded Future report. For years, both privacy advocates and experts in cryptography have published guides for how internet users can protect the privacy of their online activities using encryption programs such as PGP email and Tor. Recorded Future claims that terrorist groups are using “open source” and “off the shelf” encryption to shield their communications: does that mean that anyone who publishes information on encryption is guilty of helping the terrorists?

In sum, Recorded Future is a CIA-dependent company devoted to spreading pro-government propaganda, no matter how absurd. Among its lowlights is its boasting of how it monitored media coverage of Occupy Wall Street, whereby it claimed to detect Iran’s “growing influence” over that coverage: “We recently Tweeted a shared link showing coverage and gaining online momentum for the Occupy Wall Street movement. When we look more carefully at influencers in this discussion using our Influencer Map, we find that Iran Press TV is the second largest influencer after the US Media!”

None of these serious doubts, fallacies, or questions about this company and its “report” were even alluded to by Temple-Raston in her NPR story, beyond a cursory and very limited Schneier quote tacked onto the end. It’s hardly surprising that these kinds of firms, linked to and dependent on the largesse of the U.S. intelligence community, produce pro-government tripe of this sort.

That’s their function. It’s the job of media outlets to scrutinize these claims, not mindlessly repeat and then glorify them as NPR did here.

© 2014 Reader Supported News

Donations can be sent to the Baltimore Nonviolence Center, 325 E. 25th St., Baltimore, MD 21218. Ph: 410-366-1637; Email: mobuszewski [at] Go to

"The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. The master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and everything to lose--especially their lives." Eugene Victor Debs

The 'Palestinian Gandhi' Who Still Believes Non-Violence Is the Answer

The 'Palestinian Gandhi' Who Still Believes Non-Violence Is the Answer
By Jeff Stein / August 12, 2014 8:49 AM EDT

Abbas Momani/AFP/Getty

Amid the smoke, rubble and blood, the idea of nonviolent protest in Gaza seems as preposterous as it is naive.

Indeed, those Palestinians who preached nonviolence and led peaceful marches, boycotts, mass sit-downs and the like are mostly dead, in jail, marginalised or in exile.

Mubarak Awad is one of the latter. Often dubbed “the Palestinian Gandhi” or “Palestinian Martin Luther King Jr,” Awad now teaches the theory and practice of nonviolence at American University in Washington, DC, far from his Jerusalem home.

Israel kicked him out in 1988. Five years earlier, he had opened the doors of the Palestinian Centre for the Study of Nonviolence in Jerusalem, with the goal of fomenting mass resistance to the Israeli occupation in the West Bank and Gaza. Do not pay taxes, he lectured. Consume only local goods, like the Indians who followed Gandhi’s movement against British colonial rule. Engage in peaceful protest. Plant olive trees on land coveted by Jewish settlers. Above all, do not pick up the gun. March, and sit down, like civil rights protesters in the American South in the 1960s. Take the beatings, clog up Israeli jails.

It started to take, here and there, even though the leaders of the Palestine Liberation Organisation and Hamas disdained it. Awad was arrested on the orders of then Israeli prime minister Yitzhak Shamir and deported.

Today, beefy and white-haired at 71, with his TV flickering images of Hamas and Israel trading bombs and rockets, Awad insists he is optimistic about the prospects for a nonviolent protest movement in his homeland. “I am very hopeful. I mean, you are talking to a very hopeful person,” he says, ticking off negotiated resolutions to what once seemed implacably violent conflicts in Northern Ireland and South Africa. “Of course, there is violence along the way. Germany and France killed each other for 100 years, and now they are friends.”

That’s the long view, but Awad’s optimism is flagging under the weight of the current Gaza conflict, and he maintains that things could get worse. “The Israelis will leave [Gaza], and we will have even more groups of Palestinians, even more militant than Hamas. The Israelis will say they got the weapons in Gaza, but then [the militants] might go to chemical weapons, or might go to [radiological] weapons – or something worse. These death weapons are getting easy to find and easy to make in the laboratory. So people will engage in worse things to kill each other.”

Many Palestinian youths no longer worry about dying, Awad says. They are egged on by Hamas and even more extreme elements dispatched to Gaza and the occupied West Bank by the so-called Islamic State (IS), the neck-chopping fundamentalists who have taken over large swaths of Syria and Iraq. “When they see people dying there, they say they are not killed, they are being a martyr,” he says. “And they say those people are in paradise, they are in the hands of God. They say they are better than us because they have already died. It’s a crazy religious, spiritual way of dealing with death.”
Extremist cash is greasing the path to martyrdom, Awad explains. “The caliphate – the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq – is funding people who have started recruiting the young in Jerusalem. A great number of those kids have no jobs, they don’t go to school, and they are on drugs. They are told that if they join certain groups they will get some money – hundreds of young people. So some people are falling under the sway of the IS, and they are willing to kill anybody – Christians, Muslims, Jews, anybody blocking their way. That’s very sad.”

Awad came to pacifism through violence. His father was killed by Jewish fighters during Israel’s war for independence in 1948 when he was five, but his mother counseled him to turn the other cheek. “She told me, ‘The one who killed your father did not know he was leaving me a widow with seven children to raise.’ She said, ‘Please don’t take revenge for your father, don’t kill anyone, don’t ever destroy a human life.’ And I took that very seriously,” – even as his mother dispatched him and his brothers to an orphanage.

“And it was horrible for me. For five or six years, I never had a full stomach. I never had enough to eat. But because of my respect for my mother, I always pushed hard for nonviolence. Not only me, but my brothers, two of whom now head Christian institutions in the occupied territories.”

Dr. Mubarak Awad in his office on August 7, 2014 in Washington, D.C. Jared Soares for Newsweek

Greek Orthodox Catholic, Awad was influenced by Quaker and Mennonite missionaries, and in his 20s, in the 1960s, he left Jerusalem for Bluffton University, a Mennonite school in Ohio, where he earned a BA in social work and sociology. Then came a Master’s in education from Saint Francis University in Loretto, Pennsylvania, and a PhD in psychology from Saint Louis University, a Jesuit school in St Louis. Settling in Ohio, he established a statewide programme to find homes for wayward youths ensnared by the criminal justice system.

In 1978 it evolved into the National Youth Advocate Programme. But his heart was in Jerusalem, especially with the outbreak of the first intifada, or uprising, which started out as a kind of rock-throwing children’s crusade. In 1987 he returned to Jerusalem and started agitating for massive, peaceful resistance.

After repeated warnings over five years, Israel had seen enough. In 1988 officials charged him with inciting a “civil uprising” by circulating leaflets advocating civil disobedience – and he was deported. But he has continued to make regular short trips “home” on a tourist visa. His targets: Israeli and Palestinian youths tempted by the siren songs of violence and vengeance.

Awad insists that constant counseling and instruction in alternatives to violence can work – much as Martin Luther King Jr counseled his followers after the outrages of Birmingham. But many longtime observers think his strategy is, at best, way too late.

“Even if most Palestinians [were] convinced of the virtues of nonviolent resistance, it’s likely that there will be small groups who are still committed to violence and will take the opportunity to act on a provocation” from Israeli forces, says Hussein Ibish, a senior fellow at the American Task Force on Palestine, a private group that advocates a two-state solution to the 60-year-long struggle. “This will then justify an even more harsh Israeli crackdown, and the vicious circle will be in full effect.”

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has embraced nonviolence in theory, but “he’s afraid of the fallout”, Awad says, “that people might say he’s weak”.
Without backing from Abbas or Hamas, peaceful resistance is destined to fail. But so, too, is the violence, on both sides. Despite killing over 1,800 Gazans since July 6th – 72% of them civilians and scores of them women and children under 18, according to the United Nations – Israel has not defeated Hamas and may have spawned something worse.

Wearied by the Gaza catastrophe, Awad has a fallback position – a kind of nonviolence bottom line. “The most important thing you can say to Hamas and the Palestinians now is, ‘At least you can take a position not to kill women, not to kill children. Have dignity for human rights.’”

Awad sighs. On television, the carnage in Gaza is continuing, the rockets are flying.

This story has been corrected to reflect that the first intifada started in 1987.

© 2014 Newsweek LLC

Donations can be sent to the Baltimore Nonviolence Center, 325 E. 25th St., Baltimore, MD 21218. Ph: 410-366-1637; Email: mobuszewski [at] Go to

"The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. The master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and everything to lose--especially their lives." Eugene Victor Debs

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Who Said This? Hillary Clinton or Benjamin Netanyahu?

Published on Portside (

Who Said This? Hillary Clinton or Benjamin Netanyahu?
Glenn Greenwald

Monday, August 11, 2014
The Intercept

Quiz: Who Said This? Hillary Clinton or Benjamin Netanyahu?

1) “Israel has a right to defend itself. The steps Hamas has taken to embed rockets and command-and-control facilities and tunnel entrances in civilian areas, this makes a response by Israel difficult.”

2) “Israel did what it had to do to respond to the rockets.”

3) On civilian casualties in Gaza: “That doesn’t mean, just as the United States [tries to] be as careful as possible in going after targets to avoid civilians, that there aren’t mistakes that are made. We’ve made them. I don’t know a nation, no matter what its values are — and I think that democratic nations have demonstrably better values in a conflict position — that hasn’t made errors, but ultimately the responsibility rests with Hamas.”

4) Asked about the bombing of UN schools and killing of Palestinian children: “It’s impossible to know what happens in the fog of war. Some reports say, maybe it wasn’t the exact UN school that was bombed, but it was the annex to the school next door where they were firing the rockets. And I do think oftentimes that the anguish you are privy to because of the coverage, and the women and the children and all the rest of that, makes it very difficult to sort through to get to the truth.”

5) On civilian casualties in Gaza: “There’s no doubt in my mind that Hamas initiated this conflict. … So the ultimate responsibility has to rest on Hamas and the decisions it made.”

6) “When I asked [him/her] about the intense international focus on Gaza, [s/he] was quick to identify anti-Semitism as an important motivating factor in criticism of Israel: ‘It is striking … that you have more than 170,000 people dead in Syria. … You have Russia massing battalions—Russia, that actually annexed and is occupying part of a UN member-state—and I fear that it will do even more to prevent the incremental success of the Ukrainian government to take back its own territory, other than Crimea. More than 1,000 people have been killed in Ukraine on both sides, not counting the [Malaysia Airlines] plane, and yet we do see this enormous international reaction against Israel, and Israel’s right to defend itself, and the way Israel has to defend itself. This reaction is uncalled for and unfair.’”

7) Asked about worldwide objections to Israel’s attacks: “You can’t ever discount anti-Semitism, especially with what’s going on in Europe today. There are more demonstrations against Israel by an exponential amount than there are against Russia seizing part of Ukraine and shooting down a civilian airliner. So there’s something else at work here than what you see on TV.”

8) “What you see on TV is so effectively stage-managed by Hamas, and always has been. What you see is largely what Hamas invites and permits Western journalists to report on from Gaza. It’s the old PR problem that Israel has. Yes, there are substantive, deep levels of antagonism or anti-Semitism towards Israel, because it’s a powerful state, a really effective military. And Hamas paints itself as the defender of the rights of the Palestinians to have their own state. So the PR battle is one that is historically tilted against Israel.”

9) On Iran: “I’ve always been in the camp that held that they did not have a right to enrichment. Contrary to their claim, there is no such thing as a right to enrich. This is absolutely unfounded. There is no such right.”

10) On Israeli efforts to minimize civilian casualties in Gaza: “There is the surprising number and complexity of the tunnels, and Hamas has consistently, not just in this conflict, but in the past, been less than protective of their civilians.”

11) “As a U.S. official, you have to pay attention to anything that threatens Israel directly, or anything in the larger Middle East that arises out of the Palestinian-Israeli situation. That’s just a given.”

12) For a “prime minister of Israel, you’re damn right I would expect to have control over security [on the West Bank], because even if I’m dealing with Abbas, who is 79 years old, and other members of Fatah, who are enjoying a better lifestyle and making money on all kinds of things, that does not protect Israel from the influx of Hamas or cross-border attacks from anywhere else.”

13) “Well, first of all, Hamas is responsible for the deaths of civilians. [Israel is] not targeting a single civilian. [Israel is] responding to Hamas action and [Israel is] telling the civilians to leave, Hamas is telling them to stay. Why is it telling them to stay? Because it wants to pile up their own dead bodies.”

14) “Hamas is making sure that they don’t go anywhere. Let me tell you about the UN school. Secretary General of the United Nations, before this incident took place, admitted that two UN schools in Gaza were used to stockpile rockets. And he condemned Hamas, he condemned Hamas for turning these schools into military targets, legitimate military targets.”

15) “The important thing to understand is that the reason … civilians are killed [is] not because Israel is targeting civilians, but because Hamas is using civilians as human shields.”

16) “I know what efforts the Israeli army takes to minimize civilian casualties, to directly target at terrorists. I think everybody understands that. The United States has been unequivocal in support Israel’s right of self defense and condemning Hamas for using the civilians as human shields. And I think that unequivocal support is necessary if we’re going to have a successful conclusion to this operation.”
* * * * *

Answers 1-12: Hillary Clinton, this week, in an interview with The Atlantic’s Jeffrey Goldberg (writes a proud Goldberg: “She offered a vociferous defense of Israel, and of its prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, as well.” He added that while she previously pressured Israel on growing settlements, “now, she is leaving no daylight at all between the Israelis and herself”)

Answers 13-16: Benjamin Netanyahu, July 29, Meet the Press

Glenn Greenwald is a journalist, constitutional lawyer, and author of four New York Times best-selling books on politics and law. His most recent book, No Place to Hide, is about the U.S. surveillance state and his experiences reporting on the Snowden documents around the world. He can be reached at [1]
Source URL:
Donations can be sent to the Baltimore Nonviolence Center, 325 E. 25th St., Baltimore, MD 21218. Ph: 410-366-1637; Email: mobuszewski [at] Go to

"The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. The master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and everything to lose--especially their lives." Eugene Victor Debs

Do you or someone you know want a job for a few hours?/More US-Made Wind Turbines Are Being Sold Overseas as Congress Fails to Support Wind Power


I received a call for help. Do you know anyone who would be interested in doing some house cleaning in Baltimore? Transportation can be provided, and the pay would be from $80 to $100 for this one-time job. Send me any leads. Thanks.


A rainbow is the backdrop for wind turbines at the Smoky Hill Wind Farm near Ellsworth, Kansas. (photo: Orlin Wagner/AP)

More US-Made Wind Turbines Are Being Sold Overseas as Congress Fails to Support Wind Power
By Emily Atkin, ThinkProgress
19 August 14

A report released by the Department of Energy Monday shows a substantial increase in the percentage of American-made small wind turbines being sold to other countries, driven in part by Congress’ refusal to act on renewing a key subsidy for the U.S. wind industry, which has created uncertainty in the market.

A vast majority — 76 percent — of the small wind turbines manufactured in the United States were exported to other countries last year, the DOE’s 2013 Distributed Wind Market Report said. That’s a big increase from 2012, when only 57 percent of U.S.-made small turbines were exported. The market for U.S. turbines is spread across the world, too — small wind turbines produced here were sold to more than 50 countries, the report said, with top export markets in Italy, Germany, China, and Mexico, among others.

“To compensate for weaker domestic sales, U.S. small wind turbine manufacturers shifted their focus to growing international markets,” The report read. “Importers interviewed for this report indicated that they spent their efforts in more promising international markets … as it was hard to justify sales efforts in the United States without consistent policy support at the federal, state, and utility levels.”

The wind energy industry has struggled to receive consistent policy support particularly within Congress, which most recently refused to revive the Wind Production Tax Credit (PTC) — a $13 billion yearly tax break to the wind industry that has historically helped them compete with fossil fuels. The PTC for wind is a subsidy that’s been built into the tax code for years to encourage growth in the wind industry, but expired on January 1, 2014 due to Congressional gridlock.

It was likely not the actual expiration of the PTC that caused manufacturers to move away from U.S. markets, though. Rather, it was the fact that Congress has repeatedly waited until the last minute to make a decision about whether to renew it. It was only at the very end of 2012 that the tax credit was renewed, uncertainty that proved to be too much for investors, who mostly chose to invest elsewhere in the face of that uncertainty.

The expiration of the PTC is far from the only thing making the domestic wind energy market “sluggish” though, the report noted. Wind’s distributed generation market competes with solar’s distributed generation market, which is improving with “substantial cost reductions” of solar photovoltaic systems. Federal, state, and local incentives for wind energy generation vary greatly — permitting barriers, unreliable performance predictions, and the lack of available financing also play a part.

And the fact that small wind turbine manufacturers have been exporting isn’t bad — in fact, they’re what ultimately “saved the day” for manufacturers here, the report noted. Actual investment in small wind turbines produced in the United States declined substantially, from $101 million in 2012 to just $36 million in 2013, the report said — exports are what helped keep many manufacturers afloat.

Things are looking better the the industry as a whole, though, at least this year and in 2015. Because both the PTC and the Investment Tax Credit (ITC) for wind were actually renewed for one year at the end of 2012, federal tax incentives were available for projects that started construction by the end of 2013. That means “significant new builds” are happening now, which are anticipated to be completed in 2014 and 2015. According to the American Wind Energy Association, more than 12,000 megawatts of wind capacity were currently under construction at the end of 2013.

“These provisions have helped restart the domestic wind market and are expected to spur capacity additions in 2014 and 2015,” the 2013 Wind Technologies Market Report, also released today, read. “With the PTC now expired and its renewal uncertain, however, wind deployment beyond 2015 is also uncertain.”

In addition, at least within the small wind turbine market, U.S. wind power suppliers are increasingly buying their turbines from U.S. manufacturers. In fact, 2013 was one of the best years for domestic supply, the report said, noting that 88 percent of small wind capacity here came from U.S. suppliers. That’s a substantial increase from 2012, when U.S. suppliers provided 71 percent of turbines for existing domestic small wind capacity.

Projections for how much wind capacity will be added to the U.S. grid by 2016 vary greatly depending on whether Congress renews the PTC. If Congress does decide to renew the PTC, the report indicates that the U.S. will continue to add wind capacity to the grid. If not, it will likely drop off, in part due to competition from the oil and gas industries, which benefit from a wealth of federal tax carve-outs.

Even if the PTC is not renewed, however, there is still hope that other policies will boost wind energy production in the future. The DOE’s technology report noted that investments in wind power could be spurred by the implementation of the EPA’s proposal regulations to reduce carbon emissions from existing and new coal power plants, which may create new markets for wind energy.

State officials can also help promote wind energy by defending Renewable Portfolio Standards, which mandate that states produce a certain amount of renewable energy from solar, wind, geothermal, and other sources.

© 2014 Reader Supported News

Donations can be sent to the Baltimore Nonviolence Center, 325 E. 25th St., Baltimore, MD 21218. Ph: 410-366-1637; Email: mobuszewski [at] Go to

"The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. The master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and everything to lose--especially their lives." Eugene Victor Debs

Why We Fight Wars

The Opinion Pages | OP-ED COLUMNIST
Why We Fight Wars
AUG. 17, 2014

A century has passed since the start of World War I, which many people at the time declared was “the war to end all wars.” Unfortunately, wars just kept happening. And with the headlines from Ukraine getting scarier by the day, this seems like a good time to ask why.

Once upon a time wars were fought for fun and profit; when Rome overran Asia Minor or Spain conquered Peru, it was all about the gold and silver. And that kind of thing still happens. In influential research sponsored by the World Bank, the Oxford economist Paul Collier has shown that the best predictor of civil war, which is all too common in poor countries, is the availability of lootable resources like diamonds. Whatever other reasons rebels cite for their actions seem to be mainly after-the-fact rationalizations. War in the preindustrial world was and still is more like a contest among crime families over who gets to control the rackets than a fight over principles.

If you’re a modern, wealthy nation, however, war — even easy, victorious war — doesn’t pay. And this has been true for a long time. In his famous 1910 book “The Great Illusion,” the British journalist Norman Angell argued that “military power is socially and economically futile.” As he pointed out, in an interdependent world (which already existed in the age of steamships, railroads, and the telegraph), war would necessarily inflict severe economic harm even on the victor. Furthermore, it’s very hard to extract golden eggs from sophisticated economies without killing the goose in the process.

We might add that modern war is very, very expensive. For example, by any estimate the eventual costs (including things like veterans’ care) of the Iraq war will end up being well over $1 trillion, that is, many times Iraq’s entire G.D.P.

So the thesis of “The Great Illusion” was right: Modern nations can’t enrich themselves by waging war. Yet wars keep happening. Why?

One answer is that leaders may not understand the arithmetic. Angell, by the way, often gets a bum rap from people who think that he was predicting an end to war. Actually, the purpose of his book was to debunk atavistic notions of wealth through conquest, which were still widespread in his time. And delusions of easy winnings still happen. It’s only a guess, but it seems likely that Vladimir Putin thought that he could overthrow Ukraine’s government, or at least seize a large chunk of its territory, on the cheap — a bit of deniable aid to the rebels, and it would fall into his lap.

And for that matter, remember when the Bush administration predicted that overthrowing Saddam and installing a new government would cost only $50 billion or $60 billion?

The larger problem, however, is that governments all too often gain politically from war, even if the war in question makes no sense in terms of national interests.

Recently Justin Fox of the Harvard Business Review suggested that the roots of the Ukraine crisis may lie in the faltering performance of the Russian economy. As he noted, Mr. Putin’s hold on power partly reflects a long run of rapid economic growth. But Russian growth has been sputtering — and you could argue that the Putin regime needed a distraction.

Similar arguments have been made about other wars that otherwise seem senseless, like Argentina’s invasion of the Falkland Islands in 1982, which is often attributed to the then-ruling junta’s desire to distract the public from an economic debacle. (To be fair, some scholars are highly critical of this claim.)

And the fact is that nations almost always rally around their leaders in times of war, no matter how foolish the war or how awful the leaders. Argentina’s junta briefly became extremely popular during the Falklands war. For a time, the “war on terror” took President George W. Bush’s approval to dizzying heights, and Iraq probably won him the2004 election. True to form, Mr. Putin’s approval ratings have soared since the Ukraine crisis began.

No doubt it’s an oversimplification to say that the confrontation in Ukraine is all about shoring up an authoritarian regime that is stumbling on other fronts. But there’s surely some truth to that story — and that raises some scary prospects for the future.

Most immediately, we have to worry about escalation in Ukraine. All-out war would be hugely against Russia’s interests — but Mr. Putin may feel that letting the rebellion collapse would be an unacceptable loss of face.

And if authoritarian regimes without deep legitimacy are tempted to rattle sabers when they can no longer deliver good performance, think about the incentives China’s rulers will face if and when that nation’s economic miracle comes to an end — something many economists believe will happen soon.

Starting a war is a very bad idea. But it keeps happening anyway.

A version of this op-ed appears in print on August 18, 2014, on page A19 of the New York edition with the headline: Why We Fight.

© 2014 The New York Times Company

Donations can be sent to the Baltimore Nonviolence Center, 325 E. 25th St., Baltimore, MD 21218. Ph: 410-366-1637; Email: mobuszewski [at] Go to

"The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. The master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and everything to lose--especially their lives." Eugene Victor Debs

Causes of War Krugman Overlooked

Causes of War Krugman Overlooked

By David Swanson

While I'm working on a campaign to abolish war, it's helpful and appreciated that a columnist for one of the most effective war promoting institutions in the world, the New York Times, on Sunday mused aloud about why in the world wars are still waged.

Paul Krugman rightly pointed to the destructive nature of wars even for their victors. He admirably presented the insights of Norman Angell who figured out that war didn't pay economically over a century ago. But Krugman didn’t get much further than that, his one proposal to explain wars fought by wealthy nations being political gain for the war makers.

Robert Parry has pointed out the falsity of Krugman's pretense that Vladimir Putin is the cause of trouble in Ukraine. One might also question Krugman's claim that George W. Bush actually "won" his reelection in 2004, considering what went on in Ohio's vote counting.

Yes, indeed, a great many fools will rally around any high official who wages war, and it's good for Krugman to point that out. But it's just plain bizarre for an economist to lament the cost (to the U.S.) of the U.S. war on Iraq as reaching possibly $1 trillion, and never notice that the United States spends roughly $1 trillion on preparations for war each and every year through basic routine military spending -- itself economically destructive, as well as morally and physically destructive.

What drives the spending that Eisenhower warned would drive the wars? Profits, legalized bribery, and a culture that searches for the causes of war primarily among the 95 percent of humanity that invests dramatically less in war-making than the United States does.

Krugman dismisses economic gain as relevant only to poor nations' internal wars, but doesn't explain why U.S. wars concentrate in oil-rich areas. "I am saddened," wrote Alan Greenspan, "that it is politically inconvenient to acknowledge what everyone knows: the Iraq war is largely about oil." As Krugman is no doubt aware, rising oil prices are not lamented by everyone, and the high cost of weaponry is not a downside from the perspective of weapons makers. Wars don't economically benefit societies, but they do enrich individuals. That same principle is central to explaining the U.S. government's conduct on any area other than war; why should war be different?

No particular war, and certainly not the institution as a whole, has a single simple explanation. But it's certainly true that if Iraq's top export were broccoli there'd have been no 2003 war. It's also possible that if war profiteering were illegal and prevented there'd have been no war. It's also possible that if the U.S. culture didn't reward war-making politicians, and/or the New York Times reported on war honestly, and/or Congress had made a habit of impeaching war-makers, and/or campaigns were publicly financed, and/or U.S. culture celebrated nonviolence rather than violence there'd have been no war. It's also possible that if George W. Bush and/or Dick Cheney and a few others were healthier psychologically there'd have been no war.

We should be wary of creating the assumption that there are always rational calculations behind wars. The fact that we can never quite find them is almost certainly not a failure of imagination, but a reluctance to recognize the irrational and evil behavior of our political officials. Global domination, machismo, sadism, and lust for power contribute significantly to the discussions of war planners.

But what makes war common in certain societies and not others? Extensive research suggests that the answer has nothing to do with economic pressures or the natural environment or other impersonal forces. Rather the answer is cultural acceptance. A culture that accepts or celebrates war will have war. One that spurns war as absurd and barbaric will know peace.

If Krugman and his readers are beginning to think of war as a bit archaic, as something requiring an explanation, that can only be good news for the movement to abolish war making.

The next big leap might come sooner if we all try to see the world for a moment from the perspective of someone outside the United States. After all, the idea that the U.S. should not be bombing Iraq only sounds like a denial that there is a major crisis in Iraq requiring swift action, to people who suppose that crises require bombs to solve them -- and most of those people, by some coincidence, seem to live in the United States.
David Swanson wants you to declare peace at His new book is War No More: The Case for Abolition. He blogs at and and works for He hosts Talk Nation Radio. Follow him on Twitter: @davidcnswanson and FaceBook.
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Israel-trained police "occupy" Missouri after killing of black youth

Israel-trained police "occupy" Missouri after killing of black youth
Submitted by Rania Khalek on Fri, 08/15/2014 - 10:21

The killing of Michael Brown in Missouri last weekend prompted this Chicago protest against police violence. (Mikasi)
Since the killing of eighteen-year-old Michael Brown by Ferguson police in Missouri last weekend, the people of Ferguson have been subjected to a military-style crackdown by a squadron of local police departments dressed like combat soldiers. This has prompted residents to liken the conditions on the ground in Ferguson to the Israeli military occupation of Palestine.
And who can blame them?
The dystopian scenes of paramilitary units in camouflage rampaging through the streets of Ferguson, pointing assault rifles at unarmed residents and launching tear gas into people’s front yards from behind armored personnel carriers (APCs), could easily be mistaken for a Tuesday afternoon in the occupied West Bank.
And it’s no coincidence.
At least two of the four law enforcement agencies that were deployed in Ferguson up until Thursday evening — the St. Louis County Police Department and the St. Louis Police Department — received training from Israeli security forces in recent years.
Brute force
It all started when a yet to be named Ferguson police officer killed Michael Brown, an unarmed black teenager. According to witnesses, Brown was attempting to surrender with his hands up when a Ferguson police officer emptied his clip into Brown’s body, shooting the teen up to ten times. [Actually, he was shot six times.]

For hours police left Brown’s lifeless body sprawled in the street uncovered as a growing number of residents gathered nearby, demanding answers from authorities. Police responded by deploying K-9 units and riot squads to crush the crowd, predictably inciting a riot, which police used to justify more brute force.
But the people of Ferguson refuse to submit and have mobilized every single day to demand justice for Brown and an end to the racist, undemocratic regime they live under.

“Hands up, don’t shoot” has become their rallying cry, a symbol of Brown in his last moments and what it means to be black in America, where every 28 hours an African-American is killed by a self-styled vigilante, security guard or police officer.

Still, police did not relent, prompting one Ferguson protester to shout at a row of military-style tactical vehicles, “You gonna shoot us? Is this the Gaza Strip?”

“Will we as a people rise up like the people of Gaza? Will our community be bombed like last night with tear gas? That was a terrorist attack,” remarked another Ferguson protester to The Daily Beast.

Meanwhile, journalists were manhandled and detained. Police were caught on video deliberately firing tear gas at an Al Jazeera America film crew as they were setting up their equipment.

Even elected officials weren’t spared. Missouri state Senator Maria Chappelle-Nadal was tear gassed and St. Louis Alderman Antonio French, who had been documenting the unfolding police repression in Ferguson on social media since just after Brown’s murder, was arrested.

As the situation spiraled further out of control, Palestinians began tweeting advice on dealing with tear gas to the people of Ferguson.
Cops become soldiers
Domestic policing in the US has a long and sordid history rooted in the violent control and subjugation of communities of color, so the police violence directed at the predominantly black residents of Ferguson is nothing new.
But the widespread militarization on display in Ferguson is part of a more recent trendthat began three decades ago with the introduction of the disastrous “war on drugs” and dramatically escalated with the “war on terror” — leading directly to the counterinsurgency-like tactics deployed against the people of Ferguson by civilian police officers who more closely resemble combat soldiers in Afghanistan than domestic cops.

This cop-to-soldier transformation has been facilitated by the US government through mechanisms like the Pentagon’s 1033 or military surplus program, which funnels excess military gear to law enforcement agencies across the country. The program’s motto: ”From warfighter to crimefighter.”

In 2013 alone, the program showered US police departments with nearly $450 million worth of military equipment.

St. Louis County law enforcement agencies, including the Ferguson Police Department, participate in this program and have received military-grade rifles, pistols and night vision equipment in recent years, though it’s unclear if the equipment is being used in Ferguson now.

As The New York Times reported in June, the scaling down of US wars in Iraq and Afghanistan means “former tools of combat — M-16 rifles, grenade launchers, silencers and more — are ending up in local police departments, often with little public notice.”

“During the Obama administration, according to Pentagon data, police departments have received tens of thousands of machine guns; nearly 200,000 ammunition magazines; thousands of pieces of camouflage and night-vision equipment; and hundreds of silencers, armored cars and aircraft,” the newspaper added.
Ferguson police also receive money from the Department of Homeland Security as part of a grant program that has doled out billions to US law enforcement agencies to purchase military-style equipment, like the APCs charging through the streets of Ferguson.
In the last five years alone, Missouri has received nearly $70 million in DHS money for law enforcement related programs.
Emulating apartheid
While there is a wealth of scholarship on police militarization in the US, there has been little to no examination of the ways Israel’s security apparatus facilitates it.
Decades of testing and perfecting methods of domination and control on a captive and disenfranchised Palestinian population has given rise to a booming “homeland security industry” in Israel that refashions occupation-style repression for use on marginalized populations in other parts of the world, including St. Louis.
Under the cover of counterterrorism training, nearly every major police agency in the United States has traveled to Israel for lessons in occupation enforcement, a phenomenon that journalist Max Blumenthal dubbed “the Israelification of America’s security apparatus.” Israeli forces and US police departments are so entrenched that the New York City Police Department (NYPD) has opened a branch in Tel Aviv.

In 2011, then St. Louis County Police Department chief Timothy Fitch attended the Anti-Defamation League’s (ADL) National Counter-Terrorism Seminar, an annual week-long Israeli training camp where US law enforcement executives “study first hand Israel’s tactics and strategies” directly from “senior commanders in the Israel National Police, experts from Israel’s intelligence and security services, and the Israel Defense Forces,” according to the ADL’s website.

Until Thursday night, the St. Louis County Police Department appeared to be the largest most militarized and brutish force operating in Ferguson. “St. Louis County Police” was scrawled across the side of most of the tactical unit vehicles and appeared on the combat-style uniforms of officers aiming assault rifles at peaceful protesters.

The ADL boasts of sending more than 175 senior US law enforcement officials from 100 different agencies to the seminar since 2004, which are “taking the lessons they learned in Israel back to the United States.”
The ADL is just one of several pro-Israel groups forging close ties between US cops and Israel’s security and intelligence apparatus.
Another is the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs (JINSA), a neoconservative think tank that claims to have hosted some 9,500 law enforcement officials in its Law Enforcement Exchange Program (LEEP) since 2004.

LEEP “takes delegations of senior law enforcement executives to Israel to study methods and observe techniques used in preventing and reacting to acts of terrorism” and “sponsors conferences within the United States, bringing Israeli experts before much larger groups of law enforcement leaders,” according to JINSA’s brochure.

Former St. Louis Police Department police chief Joseph Mokwa is listed as having traveled to Israel as part of a LEEP conference in February 2008.

Following nationwide outrage and embarrassment, Missouri Governor Jay Nixon pulled St. Louis County Police forces out of Ferguson and placed the Missouri Highway Patrol in charge of policing demonstrators. The St. Louis Police Department voluntarily removed its officers from Ferguson.
As a result, Ferguson no longer looks like occupied territory, though the underlying issue, Michael Brown’s murder, has yet to be addressed.

Meanwhile, the scope of Israel’s influence on US law enforcement remains virtually ignored by the media despite the troubling implications of emulating an apartheid regime actively engaged in ethnic cleansing and war crimes.
The culture of racism and impunity that has long plagued American policing is deadly enough as it is. Adding Israeli-style repression to an already dangerous mix guarantees disaster.

© 2000-2014

Donations can be sent to the Baltimore Nonviolence Center, 325 E. 25th St., Baltimore, MD 21218. Ph: 410-366-1637; Email: mobuszewski [at] Go to

"The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. The master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and everything to lose--especially their lives." Eugene Victor Debs

Baltimore Activist Alert - August 21 - September 21, 2014

24] Hoops Not Bombs – Aug. 21
25] Film “A Will for the Woods” – Aug. 21
26] Vigil for Justice in Palestine – Aug. 22
27] Vigil for peace at White House – Aug. 22
28] Silent peace vigil – Aug. 22
29] Pray for Peace – Aug. 22
30] Ballroom Dancing – Aug. 22
31] Breakfast with the Animals – Aug. 23 - 24
32] Olney Peace vigil – Aug. 23
33] West Chester, PA demo – Aug. 23
34] Silent peace vigil – Aug. 23
35] Benefit Hardcore Cares – Aug. 23
36] Viva Palestina, a Hip Hop Concert – Aug. 23
37] March for Michael Brown – Aug. 23
38] Catch the Mother Earth Poetry Vibe – Aug. 23
39] Jackson Browne in town – Aug. 23
40] People’s Climate March – Sept. 21
41] Ronda Cooperstein on social media
42] Sign up with Washington Peace Center
43] Join Fund Our Communities
44] Donate books, videos, DVDs and records
45] Do you need any book shelves?
46] Join Global Zero campaign
47] War Is Not the Answer signs for sale
48] Join Peace Park Antinuclear Vigil
24] – Hoops Not Bombs at the White House is happening at the White House, 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, on Thurs., Aug., 21 at 6 PM. Don’t miss this hula hoop jam for peace. With bombs being dropped from Gaza to Iraq, people have been in the streets protesting for peace a lot lately, so take some time to de-stress and get in shape for the long haul! Bring hoops if you have 'em, but don't worry if you don't as plenty will be available! Other toys welcome too- poi, hackysack, jump rope, etc. Enjoy old and new friends, music, and wiggle your hips for peace. RSVP at

25] – What if our last act could be a gift to the planet? Capturing the genesis of a revolutionary social and environmental movement, the film “A Will for the Woods” draws the viewer into a life-affirming and immersive portrait of people embracing their connection to timeless natural cycles. Musician, folk dancer, and psychiatrist Clark Wang prepares for his own green burial, determined that his final resting place will benefit the earth. He has discovered a movement that uses burial to conserve and restore natural areas, forgoing toxic, wasteful funeral practices engineered to preserve the body at the ecosystem’s expense. Clark, a spirited and charismatic advocate, sets out to save a tract of forest with the help of green burial pioneers and a compassionate local cemetarian.

While he continues to battle cancer, he and his partner Jane find great comfort in the thought that his death – whenever it may happen – will be a force for regeneration. As the film follows Clark’s dream of leaving a loving, permanent legacy, environmentalism takes on a deeply human intimacy. The can be seen on Thurs., Aug. 21 at 7:30 PM at the Creative Alliance at The Patterson, 3134 Eastern Ave., Baltimore 21224. Tickets are $12, and $9 for members. Go to Email or call 410/276-1651.

26] – On Fri., Aug. 22 from noon to 1 PM, join the Dorothy Day Catholic Worker in a vigil urging the powers that be to abolish war and torture, to disarm all weapons, to end indefinite detention, to close Guantanamo, to establish justice for all and help create the Beloved Community! The vigil takes place at the White House on Pennsylvania Ave. NW. Contact Art @ or at 202-360-6416.

27] – A vigil for Justice in Palestine/Israel takes place every Friday from noon to 1 PM at 19th & JFK Blvd., Philadelphia, across from Israeli Consulate. It is sponsored by Bubbies & Zaydes (Grandparents) for Peace in the Middle East. Email Go to

28] – There is usually a silent peace vigil on Fridays, from 5 to 6 PM, outside the Cathedral of the Incarnation, University Parkway and St. Paul St. The Aug. 22 vigil, sponsored by Homewood Friends and Stony Run Meetings, reminds us that War Is Not the Answer and that there is the need to stop torture.

29] – Pray for Peace at 7:30 PM on Fri., Aug. 22 at the Cathedral of the Incarnation, 4 East University Parkway, Baltimore ( corner of East University and North Charles St. Enter the parking lot on Charles Street and enter the Cathedral by the doors to the Diocesan Center. Contact Charles Cloughen, Jr. at or at 410-321-0199.

30] – There is an opportunity to participate in ballroom dancing, usually every Friday of the month, in the JHU ROTC Bldg. at 8 PM. Turn south on San Martin Dr. from the intersection of Univ. Parkway and 39th St. Drive on campus by taking the third left turn. The next dance will be Aug. 22. Call Dave Greene at 410-599-3725.

31] – Eat breakfast alongside some of your favorite animals, including penguins, giraffes, and elephants. A same-day entry to the zoo is included with ticket price. The Breakfast with the Animals takes place through Sept. 20, Saturdays & Sundays, 8:30 to 10 AM at the Maryland Zoo in Baltimore, 1876 Mansion House Drive. Call 410-366-7102 or see The cost for non-members is $65, and children under 2 get in for free.

32] – Friends House, 17715 Meeting House Rd., Sandy Spring, MD 20860, hosts a peace vigil every Saturday, 10:30 to 11:30 AM, on the corner of Rt. 108 and Georgia Ave. [Route 97] in Olney, MD. The next vigil is Aug. 23. Call Chuck Harker at 301-570-7167.

33] – Each Saturday, 11 AM – 1 PM, Chester County Peace Movement holds a peace vigil in West Chester in front of the Chester County Courthouse, High & Market Sts. Go to Email

34] – There will be a peace vigil on the West Lawn of the Capitol at noon on Sat., Aug. 23. Look for the blue banner with the message, "Seek Peace and Pursue It.--Psalms 34:14." The vigil lasts one hour and is silent except when one responds to the occasional questions. Go to or email

35] – Over twelve bands will play to benefit Hardcore Cares, a campaign against dog fighting and other forms of animal abuse. All funds raised from the show will go to a Baltimore bully breed rescue. The benefit will happen on Sat., Aug. 23 at 3 PM at the Ottobar, 2549 N. Howard St. Call 410-662-0069 or visit

36] – Get your groove on at Viva Palestina, a Hip Hop Concert in Solidarity with the People of Palestine in St. Stephens Auditorium, 1525 Newton St. (use Columbia Heights Metro) on Sat., Aug. 23 at 7 PM. Jazz up your Saturday evening and support the Palestinian people at the Viva Palestina hip hop concert featuring amazing musical artists and activists: Mazzi, Khaki Mustafa, Luci Murphy, Leftist, Enoch & DJ Earth1ne. The show begins at 8 PM. This is a great opportunity to meet fellow activists, enjoy Palestinian hip hop and show your support for an immediate lift of the blockade and an end to Israeli oppression! Purchase Tickets for $10 to help cover overhead costs at

37] – Join the march to Chinatown for Michael Brown starting at Mt. Vernon Square, 800 Mt. Vernon Pl NW on Sat., Aug. 23 at 7 PM. On Aug. 9, 2014, a police officer in Ferguson, Missouri fatally shot unarmed 18-year-old Michael Brown, leaving his body uncovered in the street for hours. This wasn’t an isolated incident, racial profiling and targeted state violence has a horrific history in communities of color in America. Join with Code Pink, the Answer Coalition and others. RSVP at

38] – Catch the Mother Earth Poetry Vibe on Sat., Aug. 23 at 7:30 PM @ Red Emma's Bookstore Coffeehouse, 30 W. North Ave., Baltimore 21201. This is a poetry/spoken word open mic hosted by Analysis and featuring the Baltimore Citywide Youth Poetry Team! The evening will continue until 10:30 PM. Visit Call 443-602-7585. Go to

39] – Catch Jackson Browne on Sat., Aug. 23 at 8 PM at the Hippodrome Theatre, 12 N. Eutaw St. Call 410-837-7400. See

40] – Join an historic march for climate action on Sun., Sept. 21 in New York City. Next month, President Obama, along with hundreds of other heads of state from around the world, will attend the UN Climate Summit 2014 in New York City. Demand that our leaders commit to bold action to address the climate crisis. The People’s Climate March on Sept. 21 will be the largest mobilization to date for climate action. There will be a bus from Baltimore. To reserve a seat contact Regina at rminniss at

41] -- Ronda Cooperstein has taken to social media, and is recording her opinion pieces on You Tube. Check out her latest essay - THE WASHINGTON POST WITH TOAST:

42] -- The Washington Peace Center has a progressive calendar & activist alert! Consider signing up to receive its weekly email:

43] -- Fund Our Communities campaign is a grass roots movement to get support from local organizations and communities to work together with their local and state elected officials to pressure Congresspersons and senators to join with Congresspersons Barney Frank and Ron Paul, who have endorsed a 25% cut to the federal military budget. Bring home the savings to state and county governments to meet the local needs which are under tremendous budget pressures. Go to

44] -- If you would like to get rid of books, videos, DVDs or records, contact Max at 410-366-1637 or mobuszewski at

45] -- Can you use any book shelves? Contact Max at 410-366-1637 or mobuszewski at

46] -- Join an extraordinary global campaign for the elimination of nuclear weapons: A growing group of leaders around the world is calling for the elimination of nuclear weapons and a majority of the global public agrees. This is an historic window of opportunity. With momentum already building in favor of Zero, a major show of support from people around the world could tip the balance. When it comes to nuclear weapons, one is one too many.

47] -- WAR IS NOT THE ANSWER signs from Friends Committee on National Legislation are again for sale at $5. To purchase a sign, call Max at 410-366-1637.

48] – A Peace Park Antinuclear Vigil takes place every day in Lafayette Park, 1601 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, 24 hours a day, since June 3, 1981. Go to; call 202-682-4282.

Donations can be sent to the Baltimore Nonviolence Center, 325 E. 25th St., Baltimore, MD 21218. Ph: 410-366-1637; Email: mobuszewski [at] Go to

"One is called to live nonviolently, even if the change one works for seems impossible. It may or may not be possible to turn the US around through nonviolent revolution. But one thing favors such an attempt: the total inability of violence to change anything for the better" - Daniel Berrigan

Radio Silence Is Union Strategy at Baltimore Public Broadcasting Station


MONDAY, AUG 18, 2014, 1:44 PM
Radio Silence Is Union Strategy at Baltimore Public Broadcasting Station

As a host at WYPR, Sheilah Kast's right to join workers' bargaining unit has already been challenged by management. (WYPR)

As a daily radio show host and Baltimore Sun columnist, it’s Dan Rodricks’ job to have an opinion on almost every subject that’s in the news. But thus far, he has been silent on one of the hottest issues in his own workplace—a union drive at Baltimore’s public radio station WYPR.

That’s a reflection of the organizing strategy of the Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA), the union attempting to organize 20 to 30 hosts, reporters, producers, analysts and new media professionals at the station. Though an election was held among the workers on July 30, with votes tallied a week later, there has been little news coverage anywhere in the regional media market.

On June 3, SAG-AFTRA presented WYPR with a request for voluntary recognition of the union. In the 12 weeks since, inquiries from In These Times to SAG-AFTRA’s Los Angeles headquarters as to the specifics of the workers’ demands or the circumstances of the drive have been repeatedly brushed off. Last week, a SAG-AFTRA spokesperson responded with an abbreviated statement:

While an election was held on July 30 and the votes counted on August 5, this matter is still open due to objections filed by both sides. Until this matter is completed, we are not making any comments.

The reasons behind SAG-AFTRA’s technique of radio silence are unclear, but public information available at the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) suggests one possibility: The election battle is so extremely close that it seems likely to be decided only by aggressive lawyer combat on both sides. In these kinds of cases, many lawyers often prefer that there be no press coverage that might disrupt legal strategy.

According to Jose Ortiz of the NLRB Office of Legal Counsel, the results of the election were inconclusive. Just nine workers voted for the union, he tells In These Times, and 11 voted against. But seven ballots were challenged from both sides and not counted, he continues; these ballots are considered “determinative” of the election outcome. NLRB officials are expected to schedule the hearings on how the seven ballots will be handled as early as this week. Only after that process is complete, he says, will the agency determine a final count and confirm one side or the other as the winner.

And if SAG-AFTRA is reluctant to talk publicly about the campaign, then WYPR managers are similarly reticent. Reached by telephone, station President Anthony Brandon told In These Times, “There isn’t much to say. There was an attempt to form a union and it was opposed … There should be more to report in a couple of weeks.”

But public documents available from NLRB suggest there is, in fact, more to say about the case. For example, WYPR’s listed lawyer is Laura Pierson-Scheinberg, of the law firm Jackson Lewis. The firm is known nationally as a very aggressive anti-union legal group, and has played a controversial role in countless labor-management struggles. Pierson-Scheinberg did not return several calls from In These Times seeking comment.

According to NLRB documents, Pierson-Scheinberg represented the radio station in one of its early legal maneuvers against SAG-AFTRA. Initially, both radio show host Rodricks and a second WYPR host, Sheilah Kast, were included in SAG-AFTRA’s proposed bargaining unit, meaning that they would be eligible to vote and to be represented by the union in the event of a SAG-AFTRA victory. On behalf of WYPR, however, Pierson-Scheinberg argued that Rodricks and Kast were supervisors under the definition in the National Labor Relations Act, and thus exempt from the worker protections of the law. Local NLRB officials initially agreed with Pierson-Scheinberg, ruling against the union. Higher-lever NLRB officials in Washington, D.C., then overruled that determination, and permitted Rodricks and Kast to vote; management could renew its initial challenge after the election.

It may be perfectly understandable that neither Rodricks nor Kast want to talk about the union publicly before their right to vote is resolved, offers Bill Barry, a retired union organizer and Baltimore labor activist. If either were ruled a "supervisor," they could be subject to retaliation and would have no legal protection from the NLRB. Indeed, both turned down requests by In These Times for comment.

Less understandable, however, is SAG-AFTRA’s failure to engage WYPR-listening Baltimore residents in the union campaign, Barry continues. An appeal to listeners through wide-ranging demonstrations and a media campaign might have mobilized support for the pro-union WYPR workers, according to Barry. “Listen, I personally make [financial] contributions to WYPR, and I sure as hell don’t want my money spent so Jackson Lewis can bust the union. I’ll bet there are a fair number of listeners, and donors, who feel the same way,” he says.

Any public radio station is very sensitive to the pressures of outside opinion, and that can be a powerful tool in a union organizing campaign, Barry says. “The managers of WYPR need to back off. They depend on the goodwill of the listeners and contributors. It’s offensive that they use funds donated by listeners to hire an expensive law firm to frustrate the desire of workers for union representation, which is their right under the law.”

Public influence can indeed be a powerful force in a case like this, agrees Madelyn Elder, President of Communications Workers of America (CWA) Local 7901 in Portland, Oregon. She tells In These Times that her local was able to organize a small unit of workers at KBOO community radio, largely because Portlanders objected to the anti-union actions of the former executive director, including by contacting the station en masse and organizing a coup against her. “The listeners of a station like this tend to be passionate about governance issues.”

Because of this, she says, the union would do well to engage the public as allies on this issue. “As a manager, you can’t declare war on the staff and expect to get away with it,” she says.

Communications Workers of America is a website sponsor of In These Times. Sponsors play no role in editorial content.

Bruce Vail is a Baltimore-based freelance writer with decades of experience covering labor and business stories for newspapers, magazines and new media. He was a reporter for Bloomberg BNA's Daily Labor Report, covering collective bargaining issues in a wide range of industries, and a maritime industry reporter and editor for the Journal of Commerce, serving both in the newspaper's New York City headquarters and in the Washington, D.C. bureau.

Donations can be sent to the Baltimore Nonviolence Center, 325 E. 25th St., Baltimore, MD 21218. Ph: 410-366-1637; Email: mobuszewski [at] Go to

"The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. The master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and everything to lose--especially their lives." Eugene Victor Debs

How Google and the Big Tech Companies Are Helping Maintain America's Empire

Published on Alternet (

AlterNet [1] / By Adam Hudson [2]

How Google and the Big Tech Companies Are Helping Maintain America's Empire

August 19, 2014 |

Silicon Valley has been in the media spotlight for its role in gentrifying and raising rents in San Francisco, helping the NSA spy on American citizens, and lack of racial and gender diversity. Despite that, Silicon Valley still has a reputation for benevolence, innocence and progressivism. Hence Google's phrase, "Don't be evil." A recent Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll [3] found that, even after the Snowden leaks, 53% of those surveyed had high confidence [4] in the tech industry. The tech industry is not seen as evil as, say, Wall Street or Big Oil.

One aspect of Silicon Valley that would damage this reputation has not been scrutinized enough—its involvement in American militarism. Silicon Valley's ties to the National Security State extend beyond the NSA's PRISM program. Through numerous partnerships and contracts with the U.S. military, intelligence and law enforcement agencies, Silicon Valley is part of the American military-industrial complex. Google sells its technologies to the U.S. military, FBI, CIA, NSA, DEA, NGA, and other intelligence and law enforcement agencies, has managers with backgrounds in military and intelligence work, and partners with defense contractors like Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman. Amazon designed a cloud computing system that will be used by the CIA and every other intelligence agency. The CIA-funded tech company Palantir sells its data-mining and analysis software to the U.S. military, CIA, LAPD, NYPD, and other security agencies. These technologies have several war-zone and intelligence-gathering applications.

First, a little background to explain how the military has been involved with Silicon Valley since its conception as a technology center. Silicon Valley's roots date back to World War II, according to [5] a presentation [6] by researcher and entrepreneur Steve Blank. During the war, the U.S. government funded a secret lab at Harvard University to research how to disrupt Germany's radar-guided electronic air defense system. The solution -- drop aluminum foil in front of German radars to jam them. This birthed modern electronic warfare and signals intelligence. The head of that lab was Stanford engineering professor Fred Terman who, after World War II, took 11 staffers from that lab to create Stanford's Electronic Research Lab (ERL), which received funding from the military. Stanford also had an Applied Electronics Lab(AEL) that did classified research in jammers and electronic intelligence for the military.

In fact, much of AEL's research aided the U.S. war in Vietnam. This made the lab a target for student antiwar protesters who nonviolently occupied the lab in April 1969 and demanded an end to classified research at Stanford. After nearly a year of teach-ins, protests, and violent clashes with the police, Stanford effectively eliminated [7] war-related classified research at the university.

The ERL did research in and designed microwave tubes and electronic receivers and jammers. This helped the U.S. military and intelligence agencies spy on the Soviet Union and jam their air defense systems. Local tube companies and contractors developed the technologies based on that research. Some researchers from ERL also founded microwave companies in the area. This created a boon of microwave and electronic startups that ultimately formed the Silicon Valley known today.

Don't be evil, Google

Last year, the first Snowden documents revealed that Google, Facebook, Yahoo!, and other major tech companies provided the NSA access to their users' data through the PRISM program [8]. All the major tech companies denied knowledge of PRISM and put up an adversarial public front to government surveillance. However, Al Jazeera America's Jason Leopold obtained, via FOIA request, two sets of email communications [9] between former NSA Director Gen. Keith Alexander and Google executives Sergey Brin and Eric Schmidt. The communications, according to Leopold, suggest "a far cozier working relationship between some tech firms and the U.S. government than was implied by Silicon Valley brass" and that "not all cooperation was under pressure." In the emails, Alexander and the Google executives discussed information sharing related to national security purposes.

But PRISM is the tip of the iceberg. Several tech companies are deeply in bed with the U.S. military, intelligence agencies, and defense contractors. One very notable example is Google. Google markets and sells [10] its technology to the U.S. military and several intelligence and law enforcement agencies, such as the FBI, CIA, NSA, DEA, and NGA.

Google has a contract [11] with the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA) that allows the agency to use Google Earth Builder [12]. The NGA provides [13] geospatial intelligence, such as satellite imagery and mapping, to the military and other intelligence agencies like the NSA. In fact, NGA geospatial intelligence helped [14] the military and CIA locate and kill Osama bin Laden [15]. This contract allows the NGA to utilize Google's mapping technology for geospatial intelligence purposes. Google's Official Enterprise Blog announced [16] that "Google’s work with NGA marks one of the first major government geospatial cloud initiatives, which will enable NGA to use Google Earth Builder to host its geospatial data and information. This allows NGA to customize Google Earth & Maps to provide maps and globes to support U.S. government activities, including: U.S. national security; homeland security; environmental impact and monitoring; and humanitarian assistance, disaster response and preparedness efforts."

Google Earth's technology "got its start in the intelligence community, in a CIA-backed firm called Keyhole," which Google purchased in 2004, according to [17] the Washington Post. PandoDaily reporter Yasha Levine, who has extensively [18] reported [19] on Google's ties [20]to the military and intelligence community [21], points out [18] that Keyhole's "main product was an application called EarthViewer, which allowed users to fly and move around a virtual globe as if they were in a video game."

In 2003, a year before Google bought Keyhole, the company was on the verge of bankruptcy, until it was saved by In-Q-Tel, a CIA-funded venture capital firm. The CIA worked with other intelligence agencies to fit Keyhole's systems to its needs. According to the CIA Museum page [22], "The finished product transformed the way intelligence officers interacted with geographic information and earth imagery. Users could now easily combine complicated sets of data and imagery into clear, realistic visual representations. Users could 'fly' from space to street level seamlessly while interactively exploring layers of information including roads, schools, businesses, and demographics."

How much In-Q-Tel invested into Keyhole is classified. However, Levine writes that "the bulk of the funds didn’t come from the CIA’s intelligence budget — as they normally do with In-Q-Tel — but from the NGA, which provided the money on behalf of the entire 'Intelligence Community.' As a result, equity in Keyhole was held by two major intelligence agencies." Shortly after In-Q-Tel bought Keyhole, the NGA (then known as the National Imagery and Mapping Agency or NIMA) announced [23] it immediately used Keyhole's technology to support U.S. troops in Iraq at the 2003-2011 war. The next year, Google purchased Keyhole and used its technology to develop Google Earth.

Four years after Google purchased Keyhole, in 2008, Google and the NGA purchased GeoEye-1, the world's highest-resolution satellite, from the company GeoEye. The NGA paid [24] for half of the satellite's $502 million development and committed to purchasing its imagery. Because of a government restriction, Google gets lower-resolution images but still retains exclusive access to the satellite's photos. GeoEye later merged [25] into DigitalGlobe in 2013.

Google's relationship to the National Security State extends beyond contracts with the military and intelligence agencies. Many managers in Google's public sector division come from the U.S. military and intelligence community, according to one of Levine's reports [19].

Michele R. Weslander-Quaid is one example. She became Google's Innovation Evangelist and Chief Technology Officer of the company's public sector division in 2011. Before joining Google, since 9/11, Weslander-Quaid worked [26] throughout the military and intelligence world in positions at the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, Office of the Director of National Intelligence, National Reconnaissance Office, and later, the Office of the Secretary of Defense. Levine noted that Weslander-Quaid also "toured combat zones [27] in both Iraq and Afghanistan in order to see the tech needs of the military first-hand."

Throughout her years working in the intelligence community, Weslander-Quaid "shook things up by dropping archaic software and hardware and convincing teams to collaborate via web tools" and "treated each agency like a startup," according to a 2014 Entrepreneur Magazine profile [28]. She was a major advocate for web tools and cloud-based software and was responsible for implementing them at the agencies she worked at. At Google, Weslander-Quaid's job is to meet "with agency directors to map technological paths they want to follow, and helps Google employees understand what's needed to work with public-sector clients." Weslander-Quaid told Entrepreneur, "A big part of my job is to translate between Silicon Valley speak and government dialect" and "act as a bridge between the two cultures."

Another is Shannon Sullivan [29], head of defense and intelligence at Google. Before working at Google, Sullivan served in the U.S. Air Force working at various intelligence positions. First as senior military advisor and then in the Air Force's C4ISR Acquisition and Test; Space Operations, Foreign Military Sales unit. C4ISR stands for "Command, Control, Communications, Computers, Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance." Sullivan left his Air Force positions to work as Defense Director for BAE Systems, a British-based arms and defense company, and then Army and Air Force COCOMs Director at Oracle. His last project at Google was "setting up a Google Apps 'transformational' test program [30] to supply 50,000 soldiers in the US Army and DoD with a customized Google App Universe", according to Levine.

Google not only has a revolving door with the Pentagon and intelligence community, it also partners with defense and intelligence contractors. Levine writes [20] that "in recent years, Google has increasingly taken the role of subcontractor: selling its wares to military and intelligence agencies by partnering with established military contractors."

The company's partners [31] include two of the biggest American defense contractors -- Lockheed Martin, an aerospace, defense, and information security company [32], and Northrop Grumman, an aerospace and defense technology company [33]. Both Lockheed [32] and Northrop [34] produce aircraft, missiles and defense systems, naval and radar systems, unmanned systems, satellites, information technology, and other defense-related technologies. In 2011, Lockheed Martin made [35] $36.3 billion in arms sales, while Northrop Grumman made $21.4 billion. Lockheed has a major office in Sunnyvale, California, right in the middle of Silicon Valley. Moreover, Lockheed was also involved in interrogating prisoners [36] in Iraq and Guantanamo, through its purchase of Sytex Corporation and the information technology unit of Affiliated Computer Services (ACS), both of whom directly interrogated detainees.

Google worked with Lockheed to design geospatial technologies. In 2007, describing the company as "Google's partner," the Washington Post reported [17] that Lockheed "demonstrated a Google Earth product that it helped design for the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency's work in Iraq. These included displays of key regions of the country and outlined Sunni and Shiite neighborhoods in Baghdad, as well as U.S. and Iraqi military bases in the city. Neither Lockheed nor Google would say how the geospatial agency uses the data." Meanwhile, Google has a $1-million contract [37] with Northrop to install a Google Earth plug-in.

Both Lockheed [38] and Northrop [39] manufacture and sell [40] unmanned systems, also known as drones. Lockheed's drones include theStalker [41], which can stay airborne for 48 hours; Desert Hawk III [42], a small reconnaissance drone used [43] by British troops in Iraq and Afghanistan; and the RQ-170 Sentinel [44], a high-altitude stealth reconnaissance drone used by the U.S. Air Force and CIA. RQ-170s have been used in Afghanistan and for the raid [45]that killed Osama bin Laden. One American RQ-170 infamously crashed [46] in Iran while on a surveillance mission over the country in late 2011.

Northrop Grumman built the RQ-4 Global Hawk [47], a high-altitude surveillance drone used by the Air Force and Navy. Northrop is alsobuilding [48] a new stealth drone for the Air Force called the RQ-180, which may be operational by 2015. In 2012, Northrop sold [49] $1.2 billion worth of drones to South Korea.

Google is also cashing in on the drone market. It recently purchased drone manufacturer Titan Aerospace, which makes high-altitude, solar-powered drones that can "stay in the air for years without needing to land," reported [50] the Wire. Facebook entered [51] into talks to buy the company a month before Google made the purchase.

Last December, Google purchased Boston Dynamics, a major engineering and robotics company that receives funding from the military for its projects. According to [52] the Guardian, "Funding for the majority of the most advanced Boston Dynamics robots comes from military sources, including the US Defence Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) and the US army, navy and marine corps." Some of these DARPA-funded projects include BigDog [53], Legged Squad Support System (LS3) [54], Cheetah [55], WildCat [56], and Atlas [57], all of which are autonomous, walking robots. Altas is humanoid, while BigDog, LS3, Cheetah, WildCat are animal-like quadrupeds. In addition to Boston Dynamics, Google purchased [58] eight robotics companies in 2013—Industrial Perception, Redwood Robotics, Meka, Schaft, Holomni, Bot & Dolly, and Autofuss. Google has been tight-lipped about the specifics of its plans for the robotics companies. But some sources told [59] the New York Times that Google's robotics efforts are not aimed at consumers but rather manufacturing, such as automating supply chains.
Google's "Enterprise Government" page [60] also lists military/intelligence contractors Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC) [61] and Blackbird Technologies [62] among the companies it partners with. In particularly, Blackbird is a military contractor that supplies locators for "the covert 'tagging, tracking and locating' of suspected enemies," according to [63] Wired. Its customers include the U.S. Navy and U.S. Special Operations Command. SOCOM oversees the U.S. military's special operations forces units, such as the Navy SEALs, Delta Force, Army Rangers, and Green Berets. Blackbird even sent some employees as armed operatives on secret missions with special operations forces. The company's vice president is Cofer Black, a former CIA operative who ran the agency's Counterterrorist Center before 9/11.

Palantir and the military

Many others tech companies are working with military and intelligence agencies. Amazon recently developed [64] a $600 million cloud computing system for the CIA that will also service all 17 intelligence agencies. Both Amazon and the CIA have said little to nothing about the system's capabilities.

Palantir, which is based in Palo Alto, California produces and sells [65] data-mining and analysis software [66]. Its customers include [67]the U.S. Marine Corps, U.S. Special Operations Command, CIA, NSA, FBI, Defense Intelligence Agency, Department of Homeland Security, National Counterterrorism Center, LAPD, and NYPD. In California, the Northern California Regional Intelligence Center (NCRIC), one of 72 federally run fusion centers built across the nation since 9/11, uses [68] Palantir software to collect and analyzelicense plate photos [69].

While Google sells its wares to whomever in order to make a profit, Palantir, as a company, isn't solely dedicated to profit-maximizing. Counterterrorism has been part of the company's mission since it began. The company [68] was founded in 2004 by investor Alex Karp, who is the company's chief executive, and billionaire PayPal founder Peter Thiel. In 2003, Thiel came up with the idea to develop software to fight terrorism based on PayPal's fraud recognition software. The CIA's In-Q-Tel helped jumpstart the company by investing $2 million. The rest of the company's $30 million start-up costs were funded by Thiel and his venture capital fund.

Palantir's software has "a user-friendly search tool that can scan multiple data sources at once, something previous search tools couldn't do," according to a 2009 Wall Street Journal profile [70]. The software fills gaps in intelligence "by using a 'tagging' technique similar to that used by the search functions on most Web sites. Palantir tags, or categorizes, every bit of data separately, whether it be a first name, a last name or a phone number." Analysts can quickly categorize information as it comes in. The software's ability to scan and categorize multiple sources of incoming data helps analysts connect the dots among large and different pools of information -- signals intelligence, human intelligence, geospatial intelligence, and much more. All this data is collected and analyzed in Palantir's system. This makes it useful for war-related [71], intelligence [72], and law enforcement [73] purposes. That is why so many military, police, and intelligence agencies want Palantir's software.

U.S. troops in Afghanistan who used Palantir's software, particularly the Marines and SOCOM, found it very helpful for their missions. Commanders liked Palantir's ability to direct them at insurgents who "build and bury homemade bombs, the biggest killer of U.S. troops in Afghanistan," the Washington Times reported [74]. A Government Accountability Office report [75] said Palantir's software "gained a reputation for being intuitive and easy to use, while also providing effective tools to link and visualize data." Special operations forces found Palantir to be "a highly effective system for conducting intelligence information analysis and supporting operations" and "provided flexibility to support mobile, disconnected users out on patrols or conducting missions." Many within the military establishment are pushing to have other branches, such as the Army, adopt [76] Palantir's software in order to improve intelligence-sharing.

Palantir's friends include people from the highest echelons of the National Security State. Former CIA Director George Tenet and former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice are advisers to Palantir, while former CIA director Gen. David Petraeus "considers himself a friend of Palantir CEO Alex Karp", according to [77] Forbes. Tenet told Forbes, "I wish I had Palantir when I was director. I wish we had the tool of its power because it not only slice and dices today, but it gives you an enormous knowledge management tool to make connections for analysts that go back five, six, six, eight, 10 years. It gives you a shot at your data that I don’t think any product that we had at the time did."

High-tech militarism

Silicon Valley's technology has numerous battlefield applications, which is something the U.S. military notices. Since the global war on terror began, the military has had a growing need for high-tech intelligence-gathering and other equipment. "A key challenge facing the military services is providing users with the capabilities to analyze the huge amount of intelligence data being collected," the GAO report said. The proliferation of drones, counter-insurgency operations, sophisticated intelligence-surveillance-reconnaissance (ISR) systems, and new technologies and sensors changed how intelligence is used in counterinsurgency campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan and counterterrorism operations in Pakistan, Somalia, Yemen, and other countries.
According to the report, "The need to integrate the large amount of available intelligence data, including the ability to synthesize information from different types of intelligence sources (e.g., HUMINT, SIGINT, GEOINT, and open source), has become increasingly important in addressing, for example, improvised explosive device threats and tracking the activities of certain components of the local population." This is where Palantir's software comes in handy. It does what the military needs -- data-mining and intelligence analysis. That is why it is used by SOCOM and other arms of the National Security State.
Irregular wars against insurgents and terrorist groups present two problems— finding the enemy and killing them. This is because such groups know how to mix in with, and are usually part of, the local population. Robotic weapons, such as drones, present "an asymmetric solution to an asymmetric problem," according to a Foster-Miller executive quoted in P.W. Singer's book Wired for War. Drones can hover over a territory for long periods of time and launch a missile at a target on command without putting American troops in harm's way, making them very attractive weapons.

Additionally, the U.S. military and intelligence agencies are increasingly relying on signals intelligence [78] to solve this problem. Signals intelligence monitors electronic signals, such as phone calls and conversations, emails, radio or radar signals, and electronic communications. Intelligence analysts or troops on the ground will collect and analyze the electronic communications, along with geospatial intelligence, of adversaries to track their location, map human behavior, and carry out lethal operations.

Robert Steele, a former Marine, CIA case officer, and current open source intelligence advocate [79], explained the utility of signals intelligence. "Signals intelligence has always relied primarily on seeing the dots and connecting the dots, not on knowing what the dots are saying. When combined with a history of the dots, and particularly the dots coming together in meetings, or a black (anonymous) cell phone residing next to a white (known) cellphone, such that the black acquires the white identity by extension, it becomes possible to 'map' human activity in relation to weapons caches, mosques, meetings, etcetera," he said [80] in an email interview. Steele added the "only advantage" to signals intelligence "is that it is very very expensive and leaves a lot of money on the table for pork and overhead."

In Iraq and Afghanistan, for example, Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) commandos combined images from surveillance drones with the tracking of mobile phone numbers to analyze [81] insurgent networks. Commandos then used this analysis to locate and capture or kill their intended targets during raids. Oftentimes, however, this led to getting the wrong person. Steele added that human and open source intelligence are "vastly superior to signals intelligence 95% of the time" but "are underfunded precisely because they are not expensive and require face to face contact with foreigners, something the US Government is incompetent at, and Silicon Valley could care less."

Capt. Michael Kearns, a retired U.S. and Australian Air Force intelligence officer and former SERE instructor [82] with experience working in Silicon Valley, explained how digital information makes it easier for intelligence agencies to collect data. In an email, he told AlterNet, "Back in the day when the world was analog, every signal was one signal. Some signals contained a broad band of information contained within, however, there were no 'data packets' embedded within the electromagnetic spectrum. Therefore, collecting a signal, or a phone conversation, was largely the task of capturing / decoding / processing some specifically targeted, singular source. Today, welcome to the digital era. Data 'packets' flow as if like water, with pieces and parts of all things 'upstream' contained within. Therefore, the task today for a digital society is largely one of collecting everything, so as to fully unwrap and exploit the totality of the captured data in an almost exploratory manner. And therein lies the apparent inherently unconstitutional-ness of wholesale collection of digital data…it's almost like 'pre-crime.'"

One modern use of signals intelligence is in the United States' extrajudicial killing program [83], a major component of the global war on terror. The extrajudicial killing program began during the Bush administration as a means to kill suspected terrorists around the world without any due process. However, as Bush focused on the large-occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan, the extrajudicial killing program was less emphasized.

The Obama administration continued the war on terror but largely shifted away from large-scale occupations to emphasizing CIA/JSOC drone strikes, airstrikes, cruise missile attacks [84],proxies [85], and raids by special operations forces [86] against suspected terrorists and other groups. Obama continued and expanded Bush's assassination program, relying on drones and special operations forces to do the job. According to the Bureau of Investigative Journalism [87], U.S. drone strikes and other covert operations have killed nearly 3,000 to over 4,800 people, including 500 to over 1,000 civilians, in Pakistan, Yemen, and Somalia. During Obama's five years in office,over 2,400 people were killed [88] by U.S. drone strikes. Most of those killed by drone strikes are civilians or low-level fighters [89] and, in Pakistan, only 2 percent [90] were high-level militants. Communities living under drone strikes are regularly terrorized and traumatized [91]by them.

Targeting for drone strikes is based on metadata analysis and geolocating the cell phone SIM card of a suspected terrorist, according to a report [92] by the Intercept. This intelligence is provided by the NSA and given to the CIA or JSOC which will then carry out the drone strike. However, it is very common for people in countries like Yemen or Pakistan to hold multiple SIM cards, hand their cell phones to family and friends, and groups like the Taliban to randomly hand out SIM cards among their fighters to confuse trackers.

Since this methodology targets a SIM card linked to a suspect rather than an actual person, innocent civilians are regularly killed unintentionally. To ensure the assassination program will continue, the National Counterterrorism Center developed the "disposition matrix," [93] a database that continuously adds the names, locations, and associates of suspected terrorists to kill-or-capture lists.

The Defense Department's 2015 budget proposal [94] requests $495.6 billion, down $0.4 billion from last year, and decreases [95] the Army to around 440,000 to 450,000 troops from the post-9/11 peak of 570,000. But it protects money -- $5.1 billion -- for cyberwarfare[96] and special operations forces, giving SOCOM $7.7 billion, a 10 percent increase from last year, and 69,700 personnel. Thus, these sorts of operations will likely continue.

As the United States emphasizes cyberwarfare, special operations, drone strikes, electronic-based forms of intelligence, and other tactics of irregular warfare to wage perpetual war, sophisticated technology will be needed. Silicon Valley is the National Security State's go-to industry for this purpose.

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[97] on How Google and the Big Tech Companies Are Helping Maintain America's Empire

Donations can be sent to the Baltimore Nonviolence Center, 325 E. 25th St., Baltimore, MD 21218. Ph: 410-366-1637; Email: mobuszewski [at] Go to

"The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. The master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and everything to lose--especially their lives." Eugene Victor Debs