Debate Flares Over Israel’s Access to American Secrets

James Bamford

James Bamford

A bestselling author writing about America’s most secretive intelligence agency is raising eyebrows with his claims that Israeli intelligence has potentially gained access to sensitive American communications information.

Investigative writer James Bamford contends in his new book, “The Shadow Factory, the Ultra-Secret NSA from 9/11 to the Eavesdropping on America,” that at least two high-tech companies with alleged ties to Israeli intelligence mined American communications data on a mass scale. The companies were hired to help major American telecommunications firms that were cooperating with the National Security Agency on its controversial eavesdropping program.

Bamford has written about the NSA, which conducts a wide array of electronic-surveillance activities, over the last quarter century. While some of the revelations in his latest book – NSA’s failure to act upon crucial information that could have prevented the 9/11 attacks and the abuses of the eavesdropping program – have received praise in the mainstream press, his Israel-related claims have been ignored by most and criticized by a few.

Full article: www.insight-info.com

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The Shocking Story of Ali al-Marri

Ali al-Marri

Ali al-Marri

In brighter times, before a fog of fear descended on the United States, and the discourse of decent men and women was coarsened by an acceptance of the use of torture as a “no-brainer,” it would have been inconceivable that an American could have been held for seven years without charge or trial on the US mainland, in a state of solitary confinement so debilitating that he is said to be suffering from “severe damage to his mental and emotional well-being, including hypersensitivity to external stimuli, manic behavior, difficulty concentrating and thinking, obsessional thinking, difficulties with impulse control, difficulty sleeping, difficulty keeping track of time, and agitation.”

And yet, this is exactly what has happened in the case of Ali Saleh Kahlah al-Marri. A Qatari national — and legal US resident — al-Marri had studied computer science in Peoria, Illinois in the 1980s, had graduated in 1991, and had legally returned to the United States on September 10, 2001 to pursue post-graduate studies, bringing his family — his wife and five children — with him. Three months later, on December 12, 2001, he was arrested at his home by the FBI, and taken to the maximum security Special Housing Unit at the Metropolitan Correctional Center in New York, where he was held in solitary confinement as a material witness in the investigation into the 9/11 attacks.

In February 2003, al-Marri was charged with credit card fraud, identity theft, making false statements to the FBI, and making a false statement on a bank application, and was moved back to a federal jail in Peoria, but on June 23, 2003, a month before he was due to stand trial, the charges were suddenly dropped when President Bush declared that he was an “enemy combatant,” who was “closely associated” with al-Qaeda, and had “engaged in conduct that constituted hostile and war-like acts, including conduct in preparation for acts of international terrorism.” Also asserting that he possessed “intelligence,” which “would aid US efforts to prevent attacks by al-Qaeda,” the President ordered al-Marri to be surrendered to the custody of the Defense Department, and transported to the Consolidated Naval Brig in Charleston, South Carolina.

full article: www.insight-info.com

American Muslims Seven Years after 9/11

Seven years after 9/11, Muslims in America remained at the receiving end with assault on their civil rights and their faith in the name of “war on terror.” Muslims are the prime targets of the post 9/11 reconfiguration of American laws, policies, and priorities. Defending civil rights remains the single most important challenge before the seven million-strong American Muslim community as the consequences of the 9/11 tragic terrorist attacks continue to unfold seven years after the ghastly tragedy. The government initiatives have reshaped public attitudes about racial profiling and created a harsh backlash against the Muslim community. At the same time Muslims and Islam remain a popular past time for the US media and some prominent religious and political leaders who never miss any opportunity to attack Muslims and their faith in the name of extremism. Unfortunately, in the post-9/11 America, Islamophobia is not only more widespread but more mainstream and respectable.

Boston Globe columnist Derrick Z. Jackson’s article titled “Holding Muslims at Arm’s Length” best reflect how fear mongering and Islamophobia is being used in the 2008 presidential election. He points out that in his year-and-a-half-long run for president, Obama has visited churches and synagogues, but no mosque. Jackson answers to Obama’s meaningful reluctance to visit a mosque when he quotes a Newsweek poll of May which concludes that only 58 percent of Americans think Obama is a Christian.

full article: www.insight-info.com

The Closing of the American Border

American Border

American Border

After the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, the government seemed to put forth a unified stance on the need to combat terror. But you say in your book that there was actually a fierce internal fight between two groups – you call them The Cops versus The Technocrats. Who are they?

Indeed, this fight began the very night of 9/11. Jim Ziglar, who was the head of Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) at the time, was strongly opposed to what the Ashcroft Justice Department did after 9/11, which was to use immigration laws aggressively as a counter-terrorism tool, to hold people on immigration violations if they believed they had even the slightest connection to terrorism.

There was one faction that said, “Look, we need to use immigration law aggressively as our main tool in the war on terrorism.” Another group of people, most of them under Tom Ridge in the White House, and later the Department of Homeland Security, said, “Look, if we do that, all we’re going to succeed in doing is driving away people that we want and need to come to the United States. We need to be more targeted and intelligent about how we strengthen our border after 9/11.”

You quote George W. Bush saying to his customs chief, “You’ve got to secure our borders against a terror threat, but you have to do it without shutting down the U.S. economy.” How did the ones who were all for using immigration law win out?

The ones who wanted to strengthen border controls intelligently knew what they wanted to do, but it was a long process. You needed to develop new systems to identify more accurately who was coming into the United States and who you had reason to be concerned about.

The people in the Justice Department who wanted to use immigration law didn’t need to wait. Immigration law is an incredibly powerful tool for arresting and detaining any foreigner. One of the officials that I interviewed said, “Immigration law is like tax law – you’re guilty until proven innocent.”

Less Than Half the World Believes al Qaeda Was Behind 9/11 Attacks

9/11 Victims

9/11 Victims

An international poll released this week by the Project on International Policy Attitudes (PIPA) found that outside the United States, many are skeptical that al Qaeda was really responsible for the Sept. 11 attacks.

Sixteen thousand people in 17 countries — allies and adversaries in Asia, Europe, Africa, Latin America and the Middle East — were asked the open-ended question: “Who do you think was behind the 9/11 attacks?”

On average, fewer than half of all respondents said al Qaeda (although there was significant variation between countries and regions). Fifteen percent said the United States government itself was responsible for the attacks, 7 percent cited Israel, and fully 1 in 4 said they just didn’t know.

Among our closest allies, very slim majorities believe al Qaeda was the culprit. According to the study, “Fifty-six percent of Britons and Italians, 63 percent of French and 64 percent of Germans cite al Qaeda. However, significant portions of Britons (26%), French (23%), and Italians (21%) say they do not know who was behind 9/11. Remarkably, 23 percent of Germans cite the U.S. government, as do 15 percent of Italians.”

Whatever one thinks of “alternative” theories of who the perpetrators were that day, the results are an eye-opening indication of how profoundly the world’s confidence in the United States government has eroded during the Bush era. The researchers found little difference among respondents according to levels of education, or to the amount of exposure to the news media they had. Rather, they found a clear correlation with people’s attitudes toward the United States in general. “Those with a positive view of America’s influence in the world are more likely to cite al Qaeda (on average 59%) than those with a negative view (40%),” wrote the authors. “Those with a positive view of the United States are also less likely to blame the U.S. government (7%) than those with a negative view (22%).”

full article: www.insight-info.com

The role of madrasas in inter-faith dialogue

Interfaith

Interfaith

Inter-faith dialogue has become an urgent necessity today. In this regard, what role can or should madrasas play? Can they indeed play any role at all in this? Before discussing this issue, it is important to understand why inter-faith dialogue has become so necessary today.

Undoubtedly, in today’s world inter-community harmony is a major need, and the lack of it has emerged as a major challenge. Inter-faith and inter-community harmony must be built on the foundations and concerns that different faith communities share in common. It must also seek to build bridges of understanding between these communities, and to remove mutual misunderstandings that are a major source of inter-community conflict.

In the aftermath of the attacks of 9/11, Muslim religious groups in the West, for instance, have increasingly realised the pressing need for inter-faith dialogue. They have invited people of other faiths to visit mosques and the offices of Muslim organisations so that they can observe what happens therein and can have their questions and concerns about Islam and Muslims answered. This has had a positive fall-out in terms of improving inter-community relations, which is itself something that Muslims themselves require.

Several Muslim countries are also developing plans for promoting inter-faith dialogue. In June 2008 the Rabita al-Alami al-Islami (‘World Muslim Council’) organised an international conference on inter-faith dialogue. This was a very major initiative. At the conference it was decided that an international institution would be established to further promote this sort of dialogue. It was also decided to institute an award for inter-faith dialogue work. Through these and similar initiatives, one hopes that Muslims will now play a major role in promoting inter-faith understanding and peaceful dialogue.

full article: www.insight-info.com

The Perils of a Bankers War with Iran

The neocons are not going to get their war with Iran if it’s to be left to their traditional power centers in the Bush Administration to make the call: They’ve lost the Pentagon, and it’s abundantly clear that neither the uniformed brass nor Defense Secretary Gates have any interest in starting another catastrophic war. And the fact that they still have a solid ally in Vice President Cheney doesn’t mean much, because Cheney is far less influential five years into the Iraq debacle than he had been on its eve. Nor is there any significant support (outside of Israel) among U.S. allies for a confrontational path. Still, all is not lost for that merry little band of neocon bomb throwers who’ve spent the Bush tenure quite literally “setting the East ablaze.” There’s always the Treasury.

Well, its Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN), dedicated to fighting the “war on terror” etc. via the international banking system. John McGlynn offers fascinating insights into a critical aspect of Bush Administration policy that has scarcely appeared on the radar of most mainstream media. In particular, he warns, FinCEN’s March 20 advisory warning the international banking community that
doing business with any Iranian bank, or bank that does business with an Iranian bank, runs the risk of falling afoul of the U.S. Treasury’s expansive interpretation and enforcement of UN sanctions and of anti-terror money laundering regulations adopted under the post-9/11 USA Patriot Act.

The beauty of this approach, from a neocon point of view, is that it completely skirts all those troublesome international diplomatic forums where the U.S. and its closest allies have failed to convince others to apply meaningful sanctions against Iran — most of the international community is skeptical over the claims being made by the U.S. of an imminent Iranian threat (as, of course, is the U.S. intel community, as last year’s NIE showed) and even more skeptical of the value of sanctions in resolving the issue, rather than in preparing the way for confrontation.

Bush: Troops give lives, I give up golf

A true leader!

bush golf

US President George W. Bush has revealed the great sacrifice he has made for American troops fighting in Iraq by giving up playing golf.

In an interview with Politico and Yahoo News, President Bush admitted that he has been touched by the true cost of war in Iraq.

“I don’t want some mom whose son may have recently died to see the commander in chief playing golf,” he said.

“I feel I owe it to the families to be in solidarity as best as I can with them. And I think playing golf during a war just sends the wrong signal.”
President Bush added that he made the decision several months after the invasion of Iraq when the top United Nations official in Iraq, Sergio Vieira de Mello, was killed in the 2003’s bombing of the UN headquarters in Baghdad.

“I remember when de Mello, who was at the UN, got killed in Baghdad as a result of these murderers taking this good man’s life,” Bush said.

Pundits believe in the mind of the US president, who waged the war based on faulty intelligence against oil-rich Iraq, no sacrifice is too great for the troops who have sacrificed life and limb, mental health and family integrity.

Some say Bush deserves praise for the recent revelation -the decision to take a five-year hiatus from the game-, recalling a post 9/11 appearance by the president in 2001.

“We must stop the terror. I call upon on all nations to do everything they can to stop these terrorist killers,” said President Bush in a golf outfit. “Now, watch this drive.”
Source: Press Tv