Whistle-blower says U.S. missed Boston Marathon, ‘underwear bomb’ plots because NSA was ‘tied up monitoring online games.’
(US News) – Exiled whistle-blower Edward Snowden told the European Parliament in testimony published Friday there are many more surprises in the classified cache of documents he downloaded and distributed last year.
But, Snowden said, he will allow the journalists with whom he’s shared the material to decide what to report.
“There are many other undisclosed programs that would impact EU citizens’ rights, but I will leave the public interest determinations as to which of these may be safely disclosed to responsible journalists in coordination with government stakeholders,” he said.
The documents that have already been reported on reveal massive effthan ever.orts by the National Security Agency and its British partner, the Government Communications Headquarters, to scoop up electronic data.
“I don’t want to outpace the efforts of journalists, here, but I can confirm that all documents reported thus far are authentic and unmodified, meaning the alleged operations against Belgacom, SWIFT, the EU as an institution, the United Nations, UNICEF, and others based on documents I provided have actually occurred,” he said. “I expect similar operations will be revealed in the future that affect many more ordinary citizens.”
Snowden was granted asylum by Russia in August 2013, two months after the first press reports on his leaks, which exposed the NSA’s dragnet phone and Internet surveillance programs.
The European Union’s parliament voted July 4 to authorize an investigation into mass surveillance by its Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs, before explosive revelations that the NSA tapped the personal cellphone of German Chancellor Angela Merkel and spied on other U.S. allies. The committee voted Jan. 9 to invite Snowden to provide testimony.
Snowden is wanted on felony charges of espionage and theft in the U.S. He told the committee “I love my country” and said his revelations reveal the U.S. government likely missed terror plots because it was busy collecting large volumes of useless information.
“Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the ‘Underwear Bomber,’ was allowed to board an airplane traveling from Europe to the United States in 2009. The 290 persons on board were not saved by mass surveillance, but by his own incompetence, when he failed to detonate the device,” Snowden testified. “While even Mutallab’s own father warned the U.S. government he was dangerous in November 2009, our resources were tied up monitoring online games and tapping German ministers. That extraordinary tip-off didn’t get Mutallab a dedicated U.S. investigator. All we gave him was a U.S. visa.”
A carnival float depicts President Barack Obama putting Edward Snowden in an electric chair during a parade Monday in Duesseldorf, Germany.
A carnival float depicts President Barack Obama putting Edward Snowden in an electric chair during a parade Monday in Duesseldorf, Germany.
He continued: “Nor did the U.S. government’s comprehensive monitoring of Americans at home stop the Boston Bombers. Despite the Russians specifically warning us about Tamerlan Tsarnaev, the FBI couldn’t do more than a cursory investigation – although they did plenty of worthless computer-based searching – and failed to discover the plot [in which] 264 people were injured, and 3 died. The resources that could have paid for a real investigation had been spent on monitoring the call records of everyone in America.”
Snowden’s testimony also focused on alleged collaboration from European countries. He said Dutch, German, Swedish and other officials “received instruction from the NSA, sometimes under the guise of the U.S. Department of Defense and other bodies, on how to degrade the legal protections of their countries’ communications” to allow bulk data-gathering.
NSA lawyers, Snowden said, “work very hard to search for loopholes in laws and constitutional protections that they can use to justify indiscriminate, dragnet surveillance operations that were at best unwittingly authorized by lawmakers.”
The spy agency’s Foreign Affairs Division is specifically charged with making other countries’ laws amenable to U.S. surveillance, he said, after which the NSA assists with the setup of surveillance capabilities, sometimes providing the necessary hardware.
“The result is a European bazaar, where an EU member state like Denmark may give the NSA access to a tapping center on the (unenforceable) condition that NSA doesn’t search it for Danes, and Germany may give the NSA access to another on the condition that it doesn’t search for Germans,” he said. “Ultimately, each EU national government’s spy services are independently hawking domestic accesses to the NSA, GCHQ, FRA, and the like without having any awareness of how their individual contribution is enabling the greater patchwork of mass surveillance against ordinary citizens as a whole.”
Snowden told the lawmakers “I do seek EU asylum,” but added, “I have yet to receive a positive response to the requests I sent to various EU member states.”
The parliamentary committee scuttled an effort last month to demand that member states offer asylum to Snowden, which he suggested “ran into such mysterious opposition” because of U.S. influence.
The Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) is proudly announcing that the U.S. military is again using their chaplains.
Taxpayers have paid more than $2.4 million to develop “origami condoms,” including male and female versions, and the “first of its kind anal condom.”
Out to “reinvent the condom,” Los Angeles businessman Danny Resnic has completed the first rounds of testing for three variations based on Japanese folding paper, courtesy of the National Institutes of Health.
The Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development initially spent $212,162 for a feasibility study on Resnic’s “new condom” in 2006. The idea was a non-rolled, silicone-based condom that “increases pleasure” and is more effective at preventing sexually transmitted diseases.
The issue is important to Resnic who said a broken condom in the 1990s changed his life.
“We all know that latex condoms don’t feel great. They break, they slip, and they interfere with intimacy,” Resnic said, sporting green neon shoes and sitting next to an outdoor fireplace for a promotional video on his website.
“From my perspective, the latex condom, designed in 1918, just got it wrong,” he said. “In 1993 I had a life-changing incident, a broken condom and an HIV diagnosis. This drastically changed my view about condoms.”
“Like many people, I don’t love condoms for the obvious reasons,” Resnic continued. “Do you know anyone who does? What if there was something new and radical that you loved using instead of latex condoms?”
Resnic says he has done just that, creating a design that gives the feeling of “sex without a condom: the real deal.”
Perfecting his condoms would not be possible without the U.S. taxpayers. “Generous research and development funding” provided by the NIH supported Resnic’s company’s research and development and four Phase I clinical trials. Since 2006, he has received $2,466,482 to test the three variations.
The NIH’s National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases then began funding Resnic’s clinical trials in 2009, providing two grants worth $1,130,670 to design and test the Origami RAI condom for “receptive anal intercourse.”
The “feasibility and acceptability study” tested the anal condom, which is “worn internally by a receptive male or female partner,” on 24 couples.
The condom is intended to “provide better sensation and less breakage” and to “increase the acceptability of condoms among those who practice anal intercourse and are at risk of HIV / STIs.”
“Unlike the off-label use of the rolled latex male condom, the [origami anal condom] OAC creates direct tactile contact for the penis inside the internally lubricated condom,” the company said. “The Top partner does not need to wear a condom, creating an experience closer to ‘sex without a condom.’”
“You can walk around and do most any activity with the condom pre-inserted,” Resnic said.
The anal condom is expected to hit the market in late 2015. It is undergoing further clinical trials.
Additionally, Resnic received $591,950 to test his “Origami female condom” on 40 heterosexual couples.
The female condom’s design provides “maximum protection against breakage, slippage, and viral permeability.” It features a “unique patented reservoir designed to minimize semen backflow,” the grant said. A video demonstration is provided on Resnic’s website.
Finally, the initial study for the “Origami male condom” cost $531,700, beginning in 2011. The male and female versions, which can “accommodate a range of penis sizes,” are also expected to reach the market in 2015.
“I am grateful for the support from the epidemiology research community and the NIH, without whom these innovations would not be possible,” Resnic said on his website.
Resnic’s version of the male condom has received praise for its original design, being the first non-rolled, “accordion-folded” condom.
“We re-invented the condom,” a promotional video on the Origami condom website said. The video will be used on social media to market the products, since the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) restricts their advertising on television and radio.
Set to electronic dance music and neon colors, the 30-second promo begins with a song:
We’ve realized that people are still having sex
They’ve been told not to
Perhaps they are perplexed
When you see them holding hands
They’re making future plans to engage in the activity
Do you understand me?
People are still having sex
Lust keeps on lurking
Nothing makes them stop
Indiegogo from ORIGAMI Condoms on Vimeo.
“We did not anticipate the marketing challenge with FCC restrictions on media placement for the condom ads on TV and radio,” Resnic said. “The FCC will not allow a condom to be shown on TV, and radio messages have language restrictions. This makes it really difficult to market a product that cannot be seen or discussed.”
Resnic, who studied design at the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, Calif., said the “strategic” promo works around the FCC rules. “Origami condoms won’t go viral, but our promo should,” he said.
The Origami condom has been praised by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which is also providing millions in research for new condom designs. The billionaire and Microsoft founder is a strong proponent for increasing contraceptive use in developing countries in response to “population growth.”
Resnic also sees his products as being used around the world.
“In the long term we believe we can make a sustainable and measurable difference to reduce incidence of HIV and unplanned pregnancies on a global scale,” he said.
Requests for comment from NIH were not returned.
Zaid Jilani, a former blogger with the left-wing think tank Center for American Progress, explained this week how the Obama administration frequently tries to censor the progressive organization’s content when it departs from the White House’s agenda.
Jiliani was reacting to two on-air protests by journalists opposed to Russia’s invasion of southern Ukraine. The two worked for Russia Today (RT) — an English-speaking media outlet funded directly by Moscow — and felt their bosses were trying to censor their opinions (RELATED: Anchor on Russia’s English-language propaganda network quits on air over Ukraine [VIDEO]).
In a post titled, ”How Working in Washington Taught Me We’re All A Little Like RT America,” Jilani explained how the White House frequently played the part of the Kremlin — leaning on management to push their writers in a particular direction, and punishing them if they strayed from the party line.
“I’m writing this post to explain how working in Washington taught me we’re all a little bit like the good folks who work at RT America,” Jilani explained, “struggling against editorial censors, doing our best to follow our conscience despite sometimes suffocating pressures from our publishers and sponsors.”
The blogger never assumed he would agree with everything pushed by the Center for American Progress’s Action Fund when he joined the 501(c)(4) nonprofit to write about national security in 2009. But he soon discovered that one topic in particular was entirely shielded from criticism — the war in Afghanistan, which President Obama was then in the process of escalating.
“One of the controversial topics that was very constrained in our writing at ThinkProgress in 2009 was Afghanistan.,” he wrote. “CAP had decided not to protest Obama’s surge, so most of our writing on the topic was simply neutral — we weren’t supposed to take a strong stand.”
That was tough for Jilani, a strong opponent of the war. And as congressional opposition to the war increased over time, he found he was able to criticize the White House more directly.
But in 2011, one post went too far.
Jilani had just published a story — “one of the most successful things [he] had ever written at that point” — which indicated troops levels at the end of Obama’s Afghan “surge” would actually be higher than at any point in the George W. Bush administration. And it came complete with a graph, which congressional opponents of the war took into committee hearings on Capitol Hill.
The Obama administration was furious.
“Phone calls from the White House started pouring in,” Jilani claimed, “berating my bosses for being critical of Obama on this policy . . . Soon afterwards all of us ThinkProgress national security bloggers were called into a meeting with CAP senior staff and basically berated for opposing the Afghan war and creating daylight between us and Obama.”
And there was an ethical component to CAP’s compliance with the White House, as well.
“It confused me a lot because on the one hand, CAP was advertising to donors that it opposed the Afghan war,” Jilani noted. “In our ‘Progressive Party,’ the annual fundraising party we do with both Big Name Progressive Donors and corporate lobbyists (in the same room!) we even advertised that we wanted to end the war in Afghanistan.”
“What that meeting with CAP senior staff showed me was that they viewed being closer to Obama and aligning with his policy as more important than demonstrating progressive principle, if that meant breaking with Obama,” Jilani explained.
“Essentially, they were doing the same thing to us RT America is telling its American producers to do now — align with your boss, who is the president of the country.”
The blogger eventually left his post at CAP, citing “reasons of other censorship and dealing with both corporate sponsors and that institution’s fealty to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC).”
How secure are U.S. military installations? You would think the answer is: very. But, as a reporter uncovered, one installation, in southern Arizona, has been overrun by illegal alien border crossers, and the problem is only getting worse.
Last month, TRN reported on a criminal illegal alien fugitive who managed to gain security clearance and access to an Arizona Air Force base. Now comes the story of Fort Huachuca — only 15 miles north of the border with Mexico — which has been invaded by “hundreds” of illegal aliens over the past year. Or at least that is the number that were caught.
Fort Huachuca is home of the U.S. Army Intelligence Center and the U.S. Army Network Enterprise Technology Command. Much of the work that goes on at Fort Huachuca is classified but, as News 4 Tucson Investigators learned, the Army seems to be unable to keep foreign nationals out.
And the number of illegals apprehended on the base has doubled in 2013 over the prior year.
Dave Stoddard, a former U.S. Border Patrol supervisor said, “I think the average American should be petrified.”
Stoddard knows the area well. He grew up in Cochise county, served in the U.S. Army, and has even testified before Congress about illegal immigration.
“That smuggling operation going through there is very very sophisticated. They’ve been getting by with it for years. They know the formula. They know the routine,” Stoddard says.
In fiscal year 2013, there were 331 illegal aliens apprehended on Fort Huachuca. In fiscal year 2012, that number was 112. There were 96 captured on-post in fiscal 2011.
Stoddard says the problems of illegal immigrants slipping onto the post isn’t a new one. “The military chooses to close its eyes and ignore it,” Stoddard says.
Officials at Fort Huachuca refused requests for an on-camera interview on the issue, saying “apprehending undocumented immigrants is a Department of Homeland Security mission and not a D.o.D. one.”
Passing the buck? That’s their answer to this security nightmare?
Incidentally, DHS did not respond to TRN’s requests for comment on this issue.
Stoddard says he worries about the possibility that weapons could also be coming across the border, and through Fort Huachuca.
“When you look at the photographs of these aliens coming through the border, and some coming through Fort Huachuca, with backpacks weighing 30 to 50 pounds, who knows what’s in there really?” Stoddard says.
Stoddard believes the solution is simple.
“Our immigration laws work, they’re just not enforced, and therein is the problem,” Stoddard says.