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News :: Human Rights
Obama and the CIA—who runs Washington?
11 Jul 2014
The arrests, raids, apartment searches and discussions about a wider spy ring taking place in Berlin recall the Cold War novels of John le Carré, chronicling the period in which the city was a covert battleground between the KGB, on the one hand, and the US, British and German intelligence services on the other.
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11 July 2014

Today, however, the objects of German police and intelligence operations are not Soviet spies, but American ones. An employee of the BND, the country’s main intelligence agency, has been arrested for passing hundreds of classified documents to the CIA, and a functionary at the defense ministry is under investigation. Other arrests may be forthcoming.

The seriousness of the affair was underscored Thursday with Chancellor Angela Merkel’s expulsion of the CIA’s Berlin station chief, as well as by suggestions from German officials that Berlin may resume active spying on Washington, for the first time since the end of World War II. The episode marks the most serious crisis in US-German relations since fall of the Nazi regime, nearly 70 years ago.

Yet, we are told, President Barack Obama was entirely ignorant of US spying in Germany, not even told about the arrest the day after it had taken place, when he was conducting a telephone discussion with Chancellor Merkel.

While Obama and the CIA have both remained silent on the spying affair, the story of his ignorance was obviously leaked by the White House. It has provoked attacks from Republicans and some sections of the intelligence community for what they have described as “throwing the CIA under the bus.”

Obama’s motive for claiming he knew nothing are clear. The new US spy scandal in Germany comes one year after NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden released documents revealing that the US spy agency was continuously monitoring the electronic communications of millions of Germans. And it comes just nine months after it was exposed that among the many cellphones being tapped was that of Merkel herself.

Since then, the US administration has sought to smooth over the public furor over these revelations in Germany, while seeking to closely align Berlin with Washington’s aggression in Ukraine and elsewhere in the east and maintaining the closest collaboration with Germany’s intelligence service. The new revelations threaten to revive public animosity in Germany, even as growing sections of the country’s political establishment are calling for a more independent foreign policy to advance the distinct strategic interests of German imperialism.

The dilemma faced by Obama shares some essential features with that confronted by President Dwight D. Eisenhower 54 years ago, when a top secret U-2 spy plane piloted by Francis Gary Powers was shot down over the Soviet Union, creating a scandal that also cut across US foreign policy objectives.

With the May 1, 1960 downing of the U-2 coming on the eve of an East-West summit, the Eisenhower administration initially attempted—with humiliating results—to cover up the affair, claiming that the aircraft was a weather plane that had gone off course. The Soviets, however, had captured the pilot and were able to swiftly debunk the American alibi. At the same time, the Moscow bureaucracy, based on its policy of “peaceful coexistence” with US imperialism, took the position that the CIA and its politically powerful director, Allen Dulles, were solely to blame for the spy flight, and that Eisenhower himself was not responsible.

The silence of the White House on the affair led to criticism of Eisenhower on the floor of the Senate. Then-Democratic majority whip Mike Mansfield said that reports Eisenhower had no knowledge of the U-2 spying raised the question of “whether or not this administration has any real control over the federal bureaucracy.” The US press began sounding the same theme, criticizing the US president for failing to exercise control over the intelligence agency. Ten days after the downing of the plane, Eisenhower was compelled to make a public statement claiming responsibility for the spy program.

Several months later, Eisenhower was to deliver his farewell address, warning of the perils embodied in the growth of what he called the “military-industrial complex.” Its “acquisition of unwarranted influence,” he said, posed the danger of “the disastrous rise of misplaced power.”

Today, no one in Congress or the corporate media questions in regard to the German affair whether Obama exercises “any real control” over the US intelligence agencies, which, together with the military, have grown beyond anything that Eisenhower could have ever imagined. Eisenhower’s warning has been fully realized in the rise of a vast, secretive military-intelligence apparatus that wields the real power in Washington, while carrying out continuous and murderous violence, provocations and massive spying around the globe.

Nor, for that matter, does Obama feel any need to assert his dominance over the CIA, NSA and Pentagon. He has no separate interests from theirs, serving as their figurehead “commander-in-chief.” His job is not to rein in the military and the intelligence agencies, but rather to provide them with public relations services, trying to convince the American and world public that wholesale spying, drone assassinations—whose targets he helps select at the White House’s “terror Tuesdays”—and military massacres are all necessary instruments of the “war on terror,” and in harmony with democratic rights and methods of rule.

Obama, who after graduating from college took his first job as an “analyst” for Business International Corporation, which provided intelligence dossiers for US corporations while serving as a front for covert CIA agents, personifies this military-intelligence complex. This is still the milieu in which he is most comfortable: the classified intelligence briefing and the review of secret dossiers.

The German spying episode has served to underscore both the terminal crisis of American democracy and the increasing inter-imperialist tensions that threaten—as they did twice in the 20th century—to give rise to a new world war.

World Socialist Web Site --

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Re: Obama and the CIA—who runs Washington?
11 Jul 2014
Merkel fffff.jpg
Spy vs spy.......
China enjoys watching the US get caught spying on Germany.
11 Jul 2014
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( a brief video report from Berlin - )

Germany has kicked an American intelligence official out of the country after a second reported incident of American espionage in a week. The situation threatens to damage the relationship between the two countries even further.

The past week has felt like a spy movie in Germany: Double agents, an outraged public and angry statements from government officials. And now in the latest twist, Germany has thrown out an American intelligence chief.

"The federal government has asked the U.S. intelligence services representative here in Germany to leave the country," Clemens Binninger with German Parliamentary Control Committee said.

The move comes in response to two apparent spying incidents that have come to light in the last week, straining relations between the allies.

"The German government is under domestic political pressure to act and that’s costly of course because it has to engage in these discussions with the United States when other very important foreign policy crises are on the table," Professor Lora Ann Viola with Free University Of Berlin said.

While the German interior minister has called the value of the obtained information laughable, the political fallout is serious.

"We can’t imagine that the information advantage gained from intelligence services in Germany outweighs the political costs right now, especially because of the importance of the partnership for current crises in Europe and the Middle East," Professor Lora Ann Viola said.

A shift in the relationship between the U.S. and Germany could have major consequences.

"On a deeper level, I do think that despite the domestic political pressure that the German government is under, I think that people in the German government are asking about the credibility of the United States, the reliability of the United States, as a partner," Professor Lora Ann Viola said.

Earlier, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Germany and the United States had "very different approaches" with regard to the role of spy agencies.

The United States has not commented directly on the situation although the White House did release a statement describing the security and intelligence relationship with Germany as very important.
Obama and the CIA
11 Jul 2014
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CCTV Berlin.png
President Obama tells Angela Merkel he listens to her phone calls.
Re: Obama and the CIA—who runs Washington?
11 Jul 2014
Abusing Partners -- NSA Spying on Germany by BINOY KAMPMARK

It is a rare thing when an ally tells another that one of their embassy individuals should be sent packing from their plumb surrounds. The French did it in 1995, when it expelled several US officials on the grounds of suspected espionage. But French-US relations during the post-World War II period have been periodically icy, making such an act less of a surprise than something of a clarifying gesture.

The order of expulsion was executed on Thursday, when it was revealed in the German press that a CIA station chief was, for all intents and purposes, given his marching orders. While embassies are to spies what honey is to bees, the manner of its execution raised a few eyebrows.

Clemens Binninger, chair of the committee that oversees the intelligence services of Angela Markel’s Christian Democrats, said at a press conference in Berlin that the action was occasioned by Washington’s ‘failure to cooperate on resolving various allegations, starting with the NSA and up to the latest incidents’. The head of the SPD parliamentary group, Thomas Opperman, is beside himself. ‘It is a degrading spectacle to watch US spies being exposed on a weekly basis.’ Much of this rage, however, must be seen as the indignation of impotence.

Steffen Seibert confirmed the decision in an official statement. ‘The government takes these activities very seriously. It is essential and in the interest of the security of its citizens and its forces abroad for Germany to collaborate closely and trustfully with its western partners, especially the US.’ Seibert emphasised that openness was fundamental to the relationship. But that is where he is simply wrong. Washington has been selectively open with its German ally, as it has been from the start.

This follows revelations of espionage in Die Welt about a German soldier who was sniffed out by the German military counter-intelligence service. Some days prior, it was revealed that an employee of the German BND had been funneling files to the CIA, the sort of arrangement that went well and truly beyond the bounds of the alliance.

The BND employee in question was supposedly labouring under a physical disability and speech impediment, but received some 25,000 euros for 218 confidential documents. The psychological profile of the individual in question was less one of greed than egomania. Both characteristics often feature when those privy to information wish to do the dirty on their employees.

The US ambassador to Berlin, John Emerson, has been doing the rounds, placating officials even as his masters take a good long dump on the German-US relationship. In a speech on Tuesday, he conceded that ‘ that the German-American relationship is now undergoing a difficult challenge’. The CIA chief, John Brennan, has also been doing his share of pacifying.

The Clintons, always masters at the power game, have bought into denouncing the NSA for its conduct regarding Germany. Hillary has taken to the press, arguing in Der Spiegel that such conduct, notably regarding the tapping of Merkel’s phone, was unwarranted. Not, mind you, that Merkel deserved an apology from the Obama administration. That is just not the done thing. Wounding in a relationship should be taken in your stride. The not so hidden suggestion here is that the Germans are better than all that.

It was clear, according to Clinton, that the US had ‘to do a much better job in working together between Germany and the United States to sort out what the appropriate lines of cooperation are on intelligence and security. I think the cooperation is necessary for our security, but we don’t want to undermine it by raising doubts again and again.’

In truth, neither side intends a separation. There will be tiffs, a few tears perhaps, and a stony glance here and there. But the abused and abusive will still come together in the field of security cooperation, if it can be called that. Social workers tend to be avoided in the field of diplomatic consultancy, since abusive relationships are deemed workable. Even the decision on the part of the US government to refuse access to a request by the German chancellor to access her NSA file will, at the end of the day, be accepted.

Power, with its distorting tendencies, corrupts, sometimes in spectacular fashion. But usually it is a poison that operates over a considerable amount of time, taking hold of the body, paralyzing it in parts while allowing others aspects of it to function. Neither Merkel, nor her allies, wishes to find the true antidote to the situation. The spies will be replaced, and new recruits found. They are no doubt on their way. The important thing is to keep up the pretense of anger – and be very convincing.

Dr. Binoy Kampmark was a Commonwealth Scholar at Selwyn College, Cambridge. He lectures at RMIT University, Melbourne. Email: bkampmark (at)
Re: Obama and the CIA—who runs Washington?
11 Jul 2014
Station Chief Ousted as CIA Spies Found in German Parliament and Spy Agency

What’s a Little Espionage Among ‘Friends’? by DAVE LINDORFF


You have to wonder how much more the German public will take of the country’s ongoing humiliation by the United States and its extensive program of secretly spying on what nominally is one of America’s most reliable allies.

The latest scandal involves the discovery of a CIA mole working in the highest reaches of Germany’s Defense Ministry. This exposé follows, by less than a week, the arrest of another US spy in Germany’s own intelligence agency, the Bundesnachrichtsdienst (BND).

Yesterday, the German government ordered the expulsion of the CIA station chief in Berlin because of the discovery of the two active spies. It was the first such expulsion of a CIA station chief by a US ally in memory, but even so, the action appears to be largely symbolic, and designed to appease public anger domestically, not to actually impact spying within Germany by the US. The German government, after all, didn’t even blow the station chief’s identity — an act of professional courtesy that in this case was totally inappropriate to the offense.

The German people then — and we Americans watching this farce — must be left wondering why the German government, almost like an abused child who is old enough to strike back, puts up with this kind of embarrassment at the hands of the US government.

Germany, after all, has a powerful economy — one that, driven as it is by a strong manufacturing sector and a solid trade surplus, including with the US, in many ways is much stronger than the US economy. Germany has no need to worry about any risk of US trade sanctions, the way most countries do that consider trying to stand up to the US. Nor does Germany need to rely on the US military for protection. The country faces no threat from any direction. (As anti-war activist David Swanson puts it in his column US out of Germany, “Protection from Russia? If the Russian government weren’t demonstrating a level of restraint that dwarfs even that of the Brazilian soccer team’s defense there would be full-scale war in Ukraine right now. Russia is no more threatening Germany than Iran is preparing to nuke Washington or the U.N. is confiscating guns in Montana.”)

Why, one has to ask, would such a powerful country put up with the crap that the US is doing here, which even includes the tapping Chancellor Angela Merkel’s cell phone (as disclosed in documents released by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden), or paying spies to rat out the inner workings of a Bundestag intelligence committee?

I suppose one logical explanation would be that there is enough corruption and political wheeling and dealing behind the scenes here that, knowing how deeply compromised they have been during a decade of NSA monitoring of their communications, the political leadership of Germany — both the Christian Democrats and the Social Democrats — must be afraid (like their spineless counterparts in the US Congress) to take a stand against further US spying abuses.

Still, there is bound to be a limit to what the German public will tolerate, particularly in a country that has such raw memories of what it was like to live in a police state. After all, there is the history of the Nazi regime, and much more recently, of the Stasi state in East Germany, which only ended in 1990, and whose massive and all-pervasive spy apparatus and its predations have been luridly exposed over the course of the intervening years.

On July 4, the German news magazine Der Spiegel published an interview with Edward Snowden’s attorney Jesselyn Radack and fellow NSA whistleblower Thomas Drake, in which Drake, who had intimate knowledge about the cooperation between the NSA and Germany’s BND, explained that German intelligence had basically for years operated as an extension, and junior partner, of the NSA in the latter agency’s effort to monitor virtually all communications inside of Germany.

Radack accused the Christian Democratic and Social Democratic politicians in the German Bundestag of being cowards, both in their hearings into the US spying operation in Germany and the cooperation the NSA had received from the BND, and in their unwillingness to grant asylum to Snowden, given all the information he had provided about the NSA’s spying on Germany and the German people.

Drake warns Germans in that Spiegel article that national security in the US has at this point become a kind of “state religion.” That’s a statement which should send a shudder down the spine of any German familiar with the country’s recent history.

This is a sordid story that is not going to go away, even if the current US station chief does.

Dave Lindorff is a founding member of ThisCantBeHappening!, an online newspaper collective, and is a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion (AK Press).
Obama and the CIA—
11 Jul 2014
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First Amendment’s racial tumult: Why Greenwald’s latest revelation matters

We're now wiretapping minority groups -- just as we once did with African-Americans. Here's what we've become

In a much-anticipated story, the Intercept has profiled five Muslim-Americans who were wiretapped under FISA. Of the five, four are affiliated with — in two cases the founders of — Muslim-American civil society organizations, including the Council on American-Islamic Relations (the nation’s largest Muslim civil rights organization), the American Muslim Council, the American Muslim Alliance and the American-Iranian Council. The fifth person profiled represented Muslim organizations, including a charity accused of ties to terrorism, in legal matters.

The Intercept story raises the specter that the government has resumed wiretapping civil society organizations representing minorities, just as it did when it surveilled African-American groups under COINTELPRO.

The Department of Justice and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence released a statement today, denying a claim the Intercept did not make explicitly (and making no mention of the article) that these men were spied on because of their First Amendment protected activity. “It is entirely false that U.S. intelligence agencies conduct electronic surveillance of political, religious or activist figures solely because they disagree with public policies or criticize the government, or for exercising constitutional rights.” The Intercept instead suggests that these men were wiretapped because of their associations plus their Muslim descent.

The DOJ/ODNI statement goes on to claim no one can be surveilled for First Amendment activities – some First Amendment activities, that is — specifically. “No U.S. person can be the subject of surveillance based solely on First Amendment activities, such as staging public rallies, organizing campaigns, writing critical essays, or expressing personal beliefs.”

Of course, that formulation leaves out several parts of the First Amendment, such as religion (though they mentioned that earlier in the statement) and association, which goes unmentioned in the statement.

That’s significant because the government has argued that it may spy on people because of association via communication. In a 2008 memo describing who could be spied on under the phone and Internet dragnets, for example, it argued freedom of association was just an “extension of the other constitutional protections” under the First Amendment. Based on that claim, the government protections against spying for First Amendment reasons “are not intended … to preclude entirely the conclusion of association based on communications contact observed in communications metadata.”

In other words, the government has maintained that it can spy on Americans based on whom they talk to via email or on the phone.

Tellingly, that memo does not appear to cite a 1957 Supreme Court case, NAACP v. Alabama, which protects the membership of formal organizations like the African-American civil rights group — and like these Muslim-American organizations. The NAACP decision held that “the right of the members to pursue their lawful private interests privately and to associate freely with others in so doing … come[s] within the protection of the Fourteenth Amendment.”

While the government’s response to the Intercept story suggests the government claims to respect specific actions — staging a public rally — it’s not clear that its spying respects the right to belong to organizations that do such things.

All that is particularly important given the government’s reported spying on Nihad Awad, the co-founder and executive director of CAIR, from 2006 until 2008. During that same period, DOJ included CAIR on a list of “unindicted co-conspirators” in a material support for terrorism case; a judge later found release of the list violated CAIR’s Fifth Amendment rights. The FBI also refused to turn over records it held on CAIR under a FOIA request.

Just as important, CAIR is already suing the government based on a First Amendment claim to association rights. It is a named plaintiff in the Electronic Frontier Foundation lawsuit challenging NSA’s phone dragnet. The suit argues that by collecting all the phone records of the plaintiffs – which show both their own communications and those they advocate on behalf of – has harmed their ability to engage in that advocacy.

According to the

According to the dragnet orders, Awad’s targeting under FISA means his phone number (and presumably email addresses) could be used to seed the phone dragnet with no further approval process. It’s likely, then, that the government not only collected Awad’s email content, but mapped his contacts, as well as anyone three degrees of separation from him. It’s likely, that is, the government mapped out the associations of CAIR going back to 2006.

Just before the Intercept published this article last week, the government told journalists it never had a FISA warrant on Awad, in spite of the NSA spreadsheet showing it had, which delayed the publication of the story.

It’s possible, however, that DOJ’s refusal to comment about Awad’s targeting — and its careful silence about freedom of association — stems from a hope it can avoid litigating the question of whether NSA can spy on Americans because of their associations, whether they be emails to someone targeted by the government, or aggressive advocacy for a target’s rights.

Note, DOJ already destroyed the records that would have covered this period; EFF claims it did so in violation of a protection order issued in 2008.

In the 1970s, the FBI got caught spying on advocacy organizations, particularly those advocating for the rights of African-Americans. Because of this Intercept story, we may well find out whether it believes it has a legal right to do so still.

Marcy Wheeler