By Doug Porter
Much of the mainstream media has decided that trivializing whistleblower Edward Snowden is a safer course that actually exploring the implications of his disclosures.
John Oliver didn’t have to ponder more than a few seconds on the Daily Show before concluding the media had gone “Us Weekly on the messenger”, citing supposed news stories about Edward Snowden’s middle school experiences and his girlfriend’s pole dancing videos.
Fortunately, a few observers have maintained their dignity amid the rush to sensationalize trivia and trumpet the bloviating of ignorant blowhards seeking political advantage.
“Hang ‘em (both the leaker and the reporters who covered the story) first and then have a trial” is the Rep. Peter King approach.
Sen. Rand Paul actually appeared simultaneously on CNN and Fox simulated “live” interviews Wednesday wearing different ties (a feat that even the CIA must admire) to stoke political fires with the libertarian/Tea Party set.
Author (Iraq, Inc & Halliburton’s Army) Pratap Chatterjee takes to the pages of The Guardian today to point out the dangers involved in the incestuous relationship between Booz Allen (Edward Snowden’s employer) and the military/intelligence agencies of government.
In February 2012, the US air force suspended Booz Allen from seeking government contracts after it discovered that Joselito Meneses, a former deputy chief of information technology for the air force, had given Booz Allen a hard drive with confidential information about a competitor’s contracting on the first day that he went to work for the company in San Antonio, Texas. …
Chatterjee also references several instances Booz Allen getting caught overbilling the government dating back to 2006. And then there are always the revolving door relationships:
**James Clapper, US director of national intelligence, worked as vice-president at Booz Allen from 1997 to 1998.
**Ralph Shrader, the chairman, CEO and president of Booz Allen, worked for two companies back in the 1970s that were integral to the secret surveillance program known as Minaret which involved handing over to the National Security Agency (NSA) all incoming and outgoing US telephone calls and telegrams.
Minaret and other such snooping programs led to an explosive series of congressional hearings in 1970s named the Senate select committee to study governmental operations with respect to intelligence activities, chaired by Frank Church of Idaho in 1975.
Should the latest revelations of massive government surveillance come before Congress again, it might be worth probing Shrader and his company – rather than shooting the messenger, Edward Snowden.
Michael Riley over at Bloomberg News delves into the relationships between intelligence agencies and a huge assortment of corporations.
Thousands of technology, finance and manufacturing companies are working closely with U.S. national security agencies, providing sensitive information and in return receiving benefits that include access to classified intelligence, four people familiar with the process said.
These programs, whose participants are known as trusted partners, extend far beyond what was revealed by Edward Snowden, a computer technician who did work for the National Security Agency…
The story doesn’t allege anything illegal or improper. But it does shed a lot of light on how the blurring lines between government and industry activities in the intelligence field open up opportunities for a host of questionable activities.
Seventy per cent of the intelligence community’s budget now flows to private firms. Since 9/11, we’ve spent close to $1 trillion on intelligence, meaning about $700 billion has gone to contractors like Booz Allen Hamilton, with 42,000 agreements, most of them secret.
Coming back to John Oliver, it’s all: “Technically legal, probably useful and yet has the potential to do great harm — a bit like bath salts.”
SDPD City Heights Horror Story
Michael Chen over at 10News posted an absolutely horrifying story yesterday stemming from a judge’s ruling that held Dante Harrell and fiancée Shannon Robinson were illegally detained by SDPD officers after they pulled into the parking lot of a City Heights restaurant in 2010. The ruling also said that Harrell was unlawfully arrested.
What started out to be a relaxing brunch ended up being a horrifying experience. From 10News:
Harrell said one of the officers approached them, admitted to typing in the wrong letter during a routine license plate check, but wanted to check them out anyway.
Harrell said after repeated questioning and about 15 minutes of waiting, he asked Robinson to call 911 to ask for a supervisor because something didn’t feel right.
He said he heard one officer says this: “He says, ‘They’re on the phone with our supervisor. Isn’t that childish? I’m about to OC them.” “OC” is another word for pepper spray.
Harrell said he held on to his fiancée as he was pepper sprayed and then tasered repeatedly, before he and Robinson were dragged out of the car.
Unfortunately, this is a civil case. The couple will have to wait until September for a jury to decide whether the police officers used excessive force. City Attorney Jan Goldsmith’s office declined to talk with 10News.
SDPD Officers Ariel Savage and Daniel McLain both remain on active duty, according to Chen.
Issa Faces Monday Deadline on IRS Transcripts
Maryland Congressman Elijah Cummings (D-Maryland), the top Democrat on the House Government Oversight Committee, has given Committee Chairman Darrell Issa a Monday deadline for identifying what—if anything—should be withheld from an interview with the IRS Screening Group Manager.
Issa has thus far refused to release the transcript, after using selected excerpts from interviews to accuse President Obama of using the IRS to punish his political enemies.
Cummings released portions of the committee’s interview on CNN last weekend with the IRS Screening Group Manager, revealing that the employee—a self-described conservative Republican—had not witnessed anything suggesting White House involvement. He said the screening was not motivated by political ideology but rather as an effort to standardize treatment of the flood of tea party applications.
Issa issued a statement on Tuesday saying that releasing full transcripts would hinder the investigation, but that selected releases were important in order to keep the public up-to-date.
Uh, huh. The ball’s in your court, Congressman Issa.
Racist ‘Patriots’ Shamed at NBA Finals
Sebastien De La Cruz performed the Star-Spangled Banner prior to game three in the NBA finals between the San Antonio Spurs and Miami Heat on Tuesday night. The 11 year old boy is proud of his Mexican-American heritage and wore a mariachi outfit at the game.
That was all it took to draw the knuckle draggers out on Twitter. In no time at all racist taunts filled the twitterstream:
“This lil Mexican snuck in the country like 4 hours ago now he singing the anthem,” read one.
“Can’t believe they had the nerve to have a beaner sing the national anthem of AMERICA #smh,” read another.
The boy, a San Antonio native who first found fame as a contestant on “America’s Got Talent”, told CNN yesterday: “I think that the people who were talking bad was because of what I was wearing. And it’s not my fault. It’s what I love.”
Last night La Cruz earned a roaring ovation with encore performance before Game 4 between the San Antonio Spurs and Miami Heat.
Watch his Tuesday night performance:
On This Day: 1846 – A group of settlers in Sonoma proclaimed the Republic of California. 1954 – Americans took part in the first nation-wide civil defense test against atomic attack. 1970 – The Grateful Dead released their “Workingman’s Dead” album.
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Anna Daniels says
RE City Heights horror story. This is indeed a horror story, on many levels. I don’t understand why the officers involved aren’t on administrative leave. City Heights has a fraught love/hate relationship with police. It is essential that police be viewed with trust by the citizenry. Citizens have the right to believe that they are protected and served by the police. The reality is that many of my neighbors feel neither protected nor served. This incident goes a long way in explaining why that is.
Brent Beltran says
That pig should be fired and locked up! Maybe OC him first.
Frances O'Neill Zimmerman says
RE SDPD: Chief Lansdowne (sic) doesn’t seem to put anybody on administrative leave. Let’s hope the court will deliver some justice here.
Frances O'Neill Zimmerman says
Re the runaway gravy train that is privatized intelligence contracting: today the Center for Public Integrity says there are about 4.9 MILLION government workers and private contractors who have security clearances. Of these, 1.4 MILLION have top-secret clearances and fully one-third of these are private contractors. Since 2009 — four years ago — overseer Senator Dianne Feinstein has been working without success to reduce these huge numbers. Seems to be just too much of bad thing.