The U.S. Military Ordered Bin Laden Photos Destroyed 10 Days After Freedom of Information Act Request

I’ve highlighted the bizarre opacity and intentional official obfuscation regarding the details of the Osama bin Laden raid on many occasions. My most recent post on the topic was published last summer with the article: U.S. Government’s Secret Move to Hide Files on the Osama Bin Laden Raid. I started out that post writing:

The Osama Bin Laden raid was suspect from the very beginning.  Not only were key initial descriptions of the assault completely incorrect (such as him being armed and his wife being killed), but the manner in which his body was rapidly tossed into the ocean was beyond bizarre.  I mean, Tony Soprano keeps a body longer than that.

I also pointed out what the AP had to say on the matter:

In the days after bin Laden’s death, the White House provided conflicting versions of events, falsely saying bin Laden was armed and even firing at the SEALs, misidentifying which of bin Laden’s sons was killed and incorrectly saying bin Laden’s wife died in the shootout. Obama’s press secretary attributed the errors to the “fog of combat.”

Well an already strange story has gotten even stranger. We now know, thanks to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request, that the U.S. military ordered the destruction of all the bin Laden photos as soon as it got wind that the media had requested them. 

Repeat after me: Most. Transparent. Ever.

From the AP:

WASHINGTON (AP) — A newly-released email shows that 11 days after the killing of terror leader Osama bin Laden in 2011, the U.S. military’s top special operations officer ordered subordinates to destroy any photographs of the al-Qaida founder’s corpse or turn them over to the CIA.

The email was obtained under a freedom of information request by the conservative legal group Judicial Watch. The document, released Monday by the group, shows that Adm. William McRaven, who heads the U.S. Special Operations Command, told military officers on May 13, 2011 that photos of bin Laden’s remains should have been sent to the CIA or already destroyed. Bin Laden was killed by a special operations team in Pakistan on May 2, 2011.

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Video of the Day – Edward Snowden’s Recent Interview with German Television

Many people have lamented the fact that the U.S. mainstream propaganda media has barely covered this excellent interview of Edward Snowden conducted recently by German television. Some have gone so far as to call it intentional censorship. Either way, I’m more than happy to bring it to you. There’s a lot of really good stuff in here. Thank you once again Edward Snowden, hero and patriot.

Enjoy.

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Former NSA Head, Michael Hayden, Aggressively Attacks the Entire Hacking Community

There’s an interesting trend happening in America today. A trend characterized by old, authoritarian, formerly “highly respected” figures in society becoming so confused and concerned that the zeitgeist of the nation is moving away from them, that they are overcome by dementia and publicly lash out like spoiled children in increasingly irrational manner. Two of my favorite examples of such behavior are Senator John McCain and NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg. Now we can add another character to the list, former CIA and NSA head Michael Hayden. Amongst other things, here is what he said about Snowden supporters:

Nihilists, anarchists, activists, Lulzsec, Anonymous, twenty-somethings who haven’t talked to the opposite sex in five or six years.

First of all, this is a typical response from a person who cannot win an argument. Appeal to emotion or engage in bizarre personal attacks. We saw Chris Christie desperately do this the other day when he attacked libertarians for “thinking,” in a pathetic attempt to create some perverted neocon buzz about himself ahead of 2016. However, even more hilariously, here is a picture of Michael Hayden.

Former Director Of The NSA And CIA Michael Hayden Speaks At Security ConferenceImage from Washington Post (Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

Wait, who hasn’t talked to the opposite sex in five or six years? I’m sure the ladies are  rioting in the streets to get a date with this guy. From the Washington Post:

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Meet the Military-Industrial-Wall Street Complex: Blackstone Hires General Wesley Clark

So how’s a private equity company snatching up homes all across America, pushing average citizens out of the market and then renting these homes back to the once middle class, but now indentured servitude masses supposed to hedge itself against future backlash?  Simple, put a former General and NATO Supreme Allied Commander in Europe on your payroll.  That’s exactly what Blackstone has just done.

According to Bloomberg, Blackstone has hired General Wesley Clark to “to advise on its investments in energy companies.”  This makes perfect sense since General Clark may be privy to information regarding which countries’ oil wells and refineries may be next in line or liberation by America.  From Bloomberg:

Blackstone Group LP hired Wesley Clark, the former NATO Supreme Allied Commander in Europe and a one-time U.S. presidential candidate, to advise on its investments in energy companies.

Private-equity firms hire high-ranking executives and former officials to expand relationships with corporations and governments worldwide, as well as to benefit from their industry experiences. KKR & Co., the buyout company run by Henry Kravis and George Roberts, hired former CIA director David Petraeus last month to run a new unit for public policy and economic research at the New York-based firm.

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Meet the Whistleblower: Edward Snowden

In a courageous and brilliant strategic move, the whistleblower everyone is talking about has come forward and revealed his identity as well as current location.  His name is Edward Snowden, he is 29 years old and has fled to Hong Kong.  He was most recently working with the NSA as a contractor for Booz Allen Hamilton.  If you recall, Booz Allen Hamilton is one of the defense contractors that activist and unofficial Anonymous spokesperson Barrett Brown was investigating when he was arrested and turned into a political prisoner. As might be expected, The Guardian has broken Mr. Snowden’s story.  Some choice excerpts are below:

The individual responsible for one of the most significant leaks in US political history is Edward Snowden, a 29-year-old former technical assistant for the CIA and current employee of the defence contractor Booz Allen Hamilton. Snowden has been working at the National Security Agency for the last four years as an employee of various outside contractors, including Booz Allen and Dell.

The Guardian, after several days of interviews, is revealing his identity at his request. From the moment he decided to disclose numerous top-secret documents to the public, he was determined not to opt for the protection of anonymity. “I have no intention of hiding who I am because I know I have done nothing wrong,” he said.

In a note accompanying the first set of documents he provided, he wrote: “I understand that I will be made to suffer for my actions,” but “I will be satisfied if the federation of secret law, unequal pardon and irresistible executive powers that rule the world that I love are revealed even for an instant.”

He has had “a very comfortable life” that included a salary of roughly $200,000, a girlfriend with whom he shared a home in Hawaii, a stable career, and a family he loves. “I’m willing to sacrifice all of that because I can’t in good conscience allow the US government to destroy privacy, internet freedom and basic liberties for people around the world with this massive surveillance machine they’re secretly building.”

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Notes from the Underground: John Kiriakou’s Letter from Prison

Greetings from the Federal Correctional Institution at Loretto, Pennsylvania.  I arrived here on February 28, 2013 to serve a 30-month sentence for violating the Intelligence Identities Protection Act of 1982.  At least that’s what the government wants people to believe.  In truth this is my punishment for blowing the whistle on the CIA’s illegal torture program and for telling the public that torture was official U.S. government policy.  But that’s a different story.  The purpose of this letter is to tell you about prison life.    

The prison population is much like you might expect.  Loretto has 1,369 prisoners (I never call myself an “inmate.”  I’m a prisoner).  About 50% are black, 30% are Hispanic, and 20% are white.  Of the white prisoners, most are pedophiles with personal stories that would make you sick to your stomach.  The rest of the white prisoners are here for drugs, except for a dozen or so who ran ponzi schemes.  

-John Kiriakou

What follows is a rather brief, but incredibly interesting letter from John Kiriakou, the only person to be jailed in a torture related case in the U.S. Of course, he wasn’t involved in torture, he blew the whistle on it.  For that offense he has been caged, while those actually involved in allowing torture roam free.  I first highlighted John’s plight last year before he was jailed in my piece:  Have You Heard of John Kiriakou?  I suggest reading that post before getting into the letter below.  Enjoy.

How the CIA Enriches Warlords, Drug Dealers and the Taliban in Afghanistan

This article from the New York Times further solidifies the notion that we clearly have no idea what we are doing anywhere, whether it relates to the domestic economy or foreign policy. While the American citizenry remains unemployed and increasingly on food stamps, we are paying tens of millions of dollars to Afghan warlords and drug dealers so that they can build their “dream homes.”  My favorite line is: “the cash has fueled corruption and empowered warlords, undermining Washington’s exit strategy from Afghanistan.”   Makes sense.  We are simply exporting our domestic economic model abroad.  From the New York Times:

KABUL, Afghanistan — For more than a decade, wads of American dollars packed into suitcases, backpacks and, on occasion, plastic shopping bags have been dropped off every month or so at the offices of Afghanistan’s president — courtesy of the Central Intelligence Agency.

“We called it ‘ghost money,’ ” said Khalil Roman, who served as Mr. Karzai’s deputy chief of staff from 2002 until 2005. “It came in secret, and it left in secret.”

Kind of like Corzine at MF Global!

Moreover, there is little evidence that the payments bought the influence the C.I.A. sought. Instead, some American officials said, the cash has fueled corruption and empowered warlords, undermining Washington’s exit strategy from Afghanistan.

Payments ordinarily range from hundreds of thousands to millions of dollars, the officials said, though none could provide exact figures. The money is used to cover a slew of off-the-books expenses, like paying off lawmakers or underwriting delicate diplomatic trips or informal negotiations.

It is not clear that the United States is getting what it pays for. Mr. Karzai’s willingness to defy the United States — and the Iranians, for that matter — on an array of issues seems to have only grown as the cash has piled up. Instead of securing his good graces, the payments may well illustrate the opposite: Mr. Karzai is seemingly unable to be bought.

But the C.I.A. has continued to pay, believing it needs Mr. Karzai’s ear to run its clandestine war against Al Qaeda and its allies, according to American and Afghan officials.

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McClatchy Study: Obama Administration Has No Idea Who They are Killing with Drones

McClatchy has released a very important study that demonstrates that not only is the Obama Administration being intentionally secretive about their entire drone program, but in reality they have no idea who they are killing or how many.  In many cases those killed are just classified as an “unknown extremist,” aka civilian.  We already know how insane the drone program is from many sources, including the confessions of drone operator Brandon Bryant, who quit after realizing his superiors told him the child he had incinerated was just a “dog.”  From McClatchy:

WASHINGTON — Contrary to assurances it has deployed U.S. drones only against known senior leaders of al Qaida and allied groups, the Obama administration has targeted and killed hundreds of suspected lower-level Afghan, Pakistani and unidentified “other” militants in scores of strikes in Pakistan’s rugged tribal area, classified U.S. intelligence reports show.

The administration has said that strikes by the CIA’s missile-firing Predator and Reaper drones are authorized only against “specific senior operational leaders of al Qaida and associated forces” involved in the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks who are plotting “imminent” violent attacks on Americans.

“It has to be a threat that is serious and not speculative,” President Barack Obama said in a Sept. 6, 2012, interview with CNN. “It has to be a situation in which we can’t capture the individual before they move forward on some sort of operational plot against the United States.” 

Copies of the top-secret U.S. intelligence reports reviewed by McClatchy, however, show that drone strikes in Pakistan over a four-year period didn’t adhere to those standards.

The intelligence reports list killings of alleged Afghan insurgents whose organization wasn’t on the U.S. list of terrorist groups at the time of the 9/11 strikes; of suspected members of a Pakistani extremist group that didn’t exist at the time of 9/11; and of unidentified individuals described as “other militants” and “foreign fighters.”

Micah Zenko, an expert with the Council on Foreign Relations, a bipartisan foreign policy think tank, who closely follows the target killing program, said McClatchy’s findings indicate that the administration is “misleading the public about the scope of who can legitimately be targeted.”

You don’t say.

The documents also show that drone operators weren’t always certain who they were killing despite the administration’s guarantees of the accuracy of the CIA’s targeting intelligence and its assertions that civilian casualties have been “exceedingly rare.”

McClatchy’s review is the first independent evaluation of internal U.S. intelligence accounting of drone attacks since the Bush administration launched America’s secret aerial warfare on Oct. 7, 2001, the day a missile-carrying Predator took off for Afghanistan from an airfield in Pakistan on the first operational flight of an armed U.S. drone.

At least 265 of up to 482 people who the U.S. intelligence reports estimated the CIA killed during a 12-month period ending in September 2011 were not senior al Qaida leaders but instead were “assessed” as Afghan, Pakistani and unknown extremists.  Drones killed only six top al Qaida leaders in those months, according to news media accounts.

“Unknown extremists,” just another euphemism for civilian.

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Bruce Schneier: “The Internet is a Surveillance State”

Last week, I wrote an article on “encryption” that highlighted Kim Dotcom’s effort to create an encrypted email service and Bitcoin’s successful foray into the creation of a decentralized crypto-currency.  Some of the feedback I received from several tech savvy people I know is that the spying is so pervasive there’s really no chance at true anonymity at the moment no matter what we do.  A few days later, this article by legendary American cryptographer and computer security specialist, Bruce Schneier came out.  Here’s what he had to say:

Increasingly, what we do on the Internet is being combined with other data about us. Unmasking Broadwell’s identity involved correlating her Internet activity with her hotel stays. Everything we do now involves computers, and computers produce data as a natural by-product. Everything is now being saved and correlated, and many big-data companies make money by building up intimate profiles of our lives from a variety of sources.

This is ubiquitous surveillance: All of us being watched, all the time, and that data being stored forever. This is what a surveillance state looks like, and it’s efficient beyond the wildest dreams of George Orwell.

This isn’t something the free market can fix. We consumers have no choice in the matter. All the major companies that provide us with Internet services are interested in tracking us. Visit a website and it will almost certainly know who you are; there are lots of ways to betracked without cookies. Cellphone companies routinely undo the web’s privacy protection. One experiment at Carnegie Mellon took real-time videos of students on campus and was able to identify one-third of them by comparing their photos with publicly available tagged Facebook photos.

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“It’s National Security”…Government Transparency Hits Record Low in 2012 Under Obama

Surprise, surprise…the “most transparent administration ever” is, well, the least transparent.  Not that any of you are shocked by this revelation, but a new report by the Associated Press demonstrates just how secret our government and intelligence agencies have become.  Not only did they claim “national security” over and over like a bunch of drunk parrots, they also claimed the need to protect “internal deliberations.”  Specifically, the number of times the government withheld or censored reports in 2012 was 479,000 times, up 22% from 2011.  The CIA denied 60% of requests, up from 49% in 2011.  From the Associated Press:

The AP examined more than 5,600 data elements measuring the administration’s performance on government transparency since Obama’s election.

When the government withheld or censored records, it cited exceptions built into the law to avoid turning over materials more than 479,000 times, a roughly 22 percent increase over the previous year.

In a year of intense public interest over deadly U.S. drones, the raid that killed Osama bin Laden, terror threats and more, the government cited national security to withhold information at least 5,223 times — a jump over 4,243 such cases in 2011 and 3,805 cases in Obama’s first year in office. The secretive CIA last year became even more secretive: Nearly 60 percent of 3,586 requests for files were withheld or censored for that reason last year, compared with 49 percent a year earlier.

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