protect

PALESTINIANS ASK UNESCO TO ‘PROTECT’ TOMB OF PATRIARCHS FROM ISRAEL

 

The Palestinian Authority has asked UNESCO to protect Hebron’s Old City from Israel, in a letter to the organization urging that the site be inscribed on its World Heritage List in Danger next month.

The Palestinian delegation to United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, in a letter to the World Heritage Center, spoke of “alarming details about the Israeli violations in Al-Khalil/ Hebron, including the continuous acts of vandalism, property damage, and other attacks.”

 

The letter was written to the center’s director Metchtild Rossler in March but obtained only on Wednesday by The Jerusalem Post.

“Some of the above mentioned violations have irreversible negative effect on the integrity, authenticity and/or the distinctive character of the property,” the letter said.

The PA initially intended to propose inscribing Hebron’s Old City – including the Tomb of the Patriarchs and the Cave of Machpela, what it calls the Ibrahimi Mosque – on the World Heritage List in 2018, but decided to try getting it inscribed this year through an emergency procedure that places it on a list of endangered properties.

Israel, the Palestinian delegation said, has also ignored 10 resolutions by UNESCO’s executive board. Previous Palestinian complaints to UNESCO about the site have also been ignored, the delegation said.

It presented the World Heritage Center with a lengthy list of alleged Israeli violations in over the last three years in Hebron’s Old City and at the Tomb, including refusal to allow Muslim worshipers access to the site and failure to make necessary repairs.

On its list of complains was the placement of security barriers by the Tomb of the Patriarchs and in Hebron’s Old City, as well as an attempt by Jewish residents of the city to purchase property. The Palestinian delegation also protested the use of tear gas in the Old City.

The International Council on Monuments and Sites, which makes recommendations with regard to the World Heritage List, has yet to issue a report on Hebron. It has request permission from Israel to visit the area but has yet to receive a reply.

Israel defended itself against Palestinian allegations in a letter its Ambassador to UNESCO in Paris Carmel Shama Hacohen wrote to World Heritage Center Director Rossler on June 15.

“This Palestinian initiative is politically motivated, completely unfounded and intended to embroil the World Heritage Committee… in a highly sensitive issue, already drawing the attention of Israeli public opinion and Jewish Organizations around the world,” Shama Hacohen wrote. “By listing fallacious accusations regarding alleged actions taken by Israeli Authorities in and around the Cave of the Patriarchs, the Palestinian Delegation to UNESCO wishes to create the impression that Israel is adopting unilaterally measures which have a bearing on the soundness of ‘the Site.’”

Shama Hacohen gave an example from April 2018, in which the Civil Administration at the request of the Wakf, made repairs to the Herodian structure that houses both the tomb and the mosque.

“The inscription of the Old City of Hebron as a Palestinian World Heritage Site in Danger will stir resentment and fierce reactions in Israel and throughout the Jewish world. This is why we ask to reject the Palestinian request to discuss this sensitive issue,” Shama Hacohen said.

The 21 member states of the World Heritage Committee will vote on Hebron, along with 34 other sites, during its 41st session that it will hold in Krakow, Poland.

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The Federal Government Is Setting Up to Protect the Elite (Jews and Freemasons) from Nuclear Attack While Letting the Rest of Us Die

If a nuclear attack threatens the U.S., who is most likely to survive? It’s a question often explored in disaster films, and one that has resulted in the growth of an industry devoted to sheltering the wealthy and the powerful in the wake of a serious attack.

Journalist Garrett Graff explores this phenomenon in his new book, Raven Rock: The Story of the US Government’s Secret Plan to Save Itself—While the Rest of Us Die, where he brings to light how the U.S. government has begun to renovate and strengthen secret bunkers across the country to protect high-ranking government officials from a nuclear attack. The book looks at the intensified effort by the government and Congress to fund the top secret “Continuity of Government” plan, and a preview from the New York Post details a number of hidden bunkers scattered across the country.

Raven Rock, for instance, is located in Pennsylvania, and is dedicated to sheltering members of the military. Following its construction in 1953, the hidden space boasted 100,000 feet of office space and could hold about 1,400 people. It was also equipped with two sets of 340-ton blast doors and 1,000-foot-long-tunnels to protect occupants in the event of a bomb blast. Raven Rock has since undergone several renovations, the largest of which began following the second anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. Today, Raven Rock has expanded to 900,000 square feet and can hold between 3,000 and 5,000 government employees. The only catch: no families allowed.

“Families would have been prohibited from Raven Rock—as they would have been from effectively all of the doomsday bunkers,” Graff writes in his book.

Another hidden bunker, Peters Mountain, is located in the Appalachian Mountains in Virginia. To fool those on the outside, the space is made to look like an AT&T communications station, complete with an AT&T logo painted on the helipad. Smaller than Raven Rock, Peters Mountain can house several hundred people.

The Mount Weather bunker in Bluemont, Virginia, is specifically meant to protect civilian leadership of the government, including the president, Cabinet officials, senior congressional leaders and members of the Supreme Court. The bunker also includes a list of 6,500 names and addresses of people who are considered “vital” and “key” to maintaining “essential and non-interrupted services” during an emergency. Similar to Raven Rock, Mount Weather has undergone extensive upgrades since 9/11.

The secrecy of these government bunkers reflects the rapid development of a capitalist disaster-relief industry dedicated solely to the elite. Journalist Naomi Klein discusses this phenomenon in The Intercept, where she writes about Silicon Valley elites and Wall Street tycoons—“the more serious high-end survivalists,” she writes—who purchase space in underground bunkers in Kansas and build escape homes in New Zealand. There are even insurance companies that provide exclusive services to their highest-paying customers in the wake of natural disasters, a practice that can be seen in California and Colorado following a wildfire. And while this growing “survivalist phenomenon” may seem a bit fantastical, the ability of the wealthy to purchase their own protection against natural disasters or nuclear attack comes at the expense of developing an efficient disaster relief model that helps all people and not just the wealthy.

Celisa Calacal is a junior writing fellow for AlterNet. She is a senior journalism major and legal studies minor at Ithaca College in Ithaca, New York. Previously she worked at ThinkProgress and served as an editor for Ithaca College’s student newspaper. Follow her at @celisa_mia.

Fired by Trump, reviled by Democrats, Comey will be missed by those who protect US Jews

WASHINGTON (JTA) — “You make us better,” James Comey told the Anti-Defamation League in his final public speech as FBI director. Judging from the applause in the conference room at Washington DC’s venerable Mayflower Hotel, the feeling was mutual.

Mired in investigations of the scandals of 2016 (Hillary Clinton’s relationship with her email server) and 2017 (Donald Trump’s relationship with Russia), not a lot of love ended up being lost between the FBI director and either party.

Democrats called for Comey’s firing last year when a week and a half before the election he reopened the Clinton case because of emails found on former congressman Anthony Weiner’s laptop in an unrelated case.

US President Donald Trump (who as a candidate repeatedly praised the FBI director) fired Comey on Tuesday, ostensibly because Comey treated Clinton unfairly last July when he excoriated her for her email habits in a press conference (but recommended against legal action). The firing, however, was drawing attention for its timing: Comey is delving into ties between Trump campaign and transition officials who may have had ties to Russia.

But among the folks whose business it is to keep Jews safe – like those gathered Monday in the Mayflower for the ADL’s leadership summit – admiration for Comey was fairly unequivocal. To a degree greater than most of his predecessors, he made the Jewish story central to the FBI mission.

FBI Director James Comey addresses the Anti-Defamation League's annual National Summit at the Mayflower Hotel in Washington DC on May 8, 2017 (screen capture)

Comey required all FBI staffers to undergo a tour of the US Holocaust Memorial Museum.

“Good people helped to murder millions. And that’s the most frightening lesson of all,” he told a museum dinner in 2015. “That is why I send our agents and our analysts to the museum. I want them to stare at us and realize our capacity for rationalization and moral surrender.”

Comey, already known as a persuasive speaker, was especially adept at understanding what moved Jewish Americans. In his ADL speech this week, he recalled meeting a man who was not far from the scene when a gunman opened fire last June at a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida.

“My name is Menachem Green and I’m Jewish,” Comey quoted the man as saying (pronouncing Menachem impeccably) and went on to say Menachem Green was pleased to tell him that he ran toward the shooting alongside a police officer he learned was a Muslim.

“We were Jew and Muslim and Christian and white and black and Latino running to help people we didn’t know,” he said. He also recalled the “Muslim activists who raised over $100,000 to repair Jewish headstones in St. Louis and Philadelphia – that makes us better.”

Comey also embraced one of the ADL’s signature issues, improving reporting of hate crimes by local authorities. “We must do a better job of tracking and reporting hate crime to fully understand what is happening in our country so we can stop it,” he said.

FBI Director James Comey testifies in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee during an oversight hearing on the FBI on Capitol Hill May 3, 2017 in Washington, DC. (Eric Thayer/Getty Images/AFP)

Just a week earlier, Comey was due to receive a recognition award from Secure Community Network, the security affiliate of the Jewish Federations of North America. Paul Goldenberg, the SCN director, said Comey was to be recognized for his work with the community in tracking down the perpetrator of dozens of bomb hoaxes on JCCs and other Jewish institutions.

“Director Comey put in extraordinary resources and showed tremendous commitment to the American Jewish community,” noting that the agency had deployed agents to Jewish communities across the states.

Comey could not personally accept the recognition, and SCN delivered it to a surrogate – but this was because Comey was on the Hill, testifying to the Senate about how he handled the email and Russia scandals.

He noted in his testimony one of the FBI triumphs of recent months as a defense of the agency – helping to solve the JCC bomb threats.

“Children frightened, old people frightened, terrifying threats of bombs at Jewish institutions, especially the Jewish community centers — the entire FBI surged in response to that threat,” Comey said in his opening remarks Wednesday to the Senate Judiciary Committee.

This file photo taken on January 22, 2017 shows US Vice President Mike Pence, 2nd left, shaking hands with FBI Director James Comey, right, watched by Secret Service Director Joseph Clancy, left, and US President Donald Trump, 3rd right, during the reception for law enforcement officers and first responders in the Blue Room of the White House in Washington, DC. (AFP/ MANDEL NGAN)

In March, an Israeli-American teen was arrested in Israel on suspicion of calling in more than 200 bomb threats. Last month, the U.S. Justice Department charged the teen, Michael Kadar, with making threatening calls to JCCs in Florida, conveying false information to the police and cyberstalking.

“Working across all programs, all divisions, our technical wizards, using our vital international presence and using our partnerships especially with the Israeli national police, we made that case and the Israelis locked up the person behind those threats and stopped the terrifying plague against the Jewish community centers,” Comey said.

Comey may be gone, but the shock among Democrats – and some congressional Republicans — at his departure means his memory is unlikely to fade anytime soon.

“We must have a special prosecutor,” Sen. Chuck Schumer, a New York Democrat who is the minority leader in the Senate, said in a statement delivered at a briefing for reporters late on Tueday. He said he had told Trump in a phone call that firing Comey was a “very big mistake.”

Trump fired back at Schumer on Twitter, recalling that Schumer had recently said that he did not have confidence in Comey. “Then acts so indignant,” Trump said of Schumer.

Cryin’ Chuck Schumer stated recently, “I do not have confidence in him (James Comey) any longer.” Then acts so indignant.

Rep. Adam Schiff, a California Democrat who is the ranking Democrat on the US House of Representatives Intelligence Committee, which is also probing the Trump campaign’s Russia ties, said there was no contradiction between being appalled at Comey’s handling of the Clinton case and also at Comey’s firing.

He noted that Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who has recused himself from the Russia investigation because he had met with a Russian diplomat during the transition, had signed off on the firing.

“The decision by a President whose campaign associates are under investigation by the FBI for collusion with Russia to fire the man overseeing that investigation, upon the recommendation of an Attorney General who has recused himself from that investigation, raises profound questions about whether the White House is brazenly interfering in a criminal matter,” he said.

Protect your PC from the cyber-flu with these awesome free antivirus options

best free antivirus software avast anti virus laptop
Viruses and malware are bad news; they can slow down your PC by ramping up CPU usage, modifying important files, and messing with the way your system behaves. If you’re reading this, it’s likely that you’re making an effort to avoid such infections — or worse, looking for a way to exterminate them. Luckily, there are a host of free, high-quality programs built specifically to keep your PC safe from all manner of viruses and malware. Better yet, these free options are often just as good, and in some cases better, than premiums apps that offer similar functionality and features.

To help you find the best option, we’ve assembled this list of the best free antivirus software available for Windows 10, whether you prefer innate utilities Like Windows Defender, or quality third-party alternatives in the Avira vain.

Avast! Free Antivirus 2017

avast! Free Antivirus 2016In terms of basic protection, Avast has been shown to be one of the best antivirus programs out there, scoring a 5.5 out of 6 in in AV Test’s protection test. The latest free antivirus suite from Avast! is an impressive package. Aside from the usual virus and malware protection — including anti-rootkit and anti-spyware capabilities — the software comes with a slew of customizable options you can toggle at installation, including protection for your Android devices through Avast mobile Security & Antivirus. The 2017 version of Avast goes the extra mile when it comes to making sure you feel safe using the program; at installation, there is a very clear breakdown of exactly how Avast! uses your private information.

Avast gets out in front of potential malware attacks by initiating scans before an unknown file opens, and will prevent it from doing so should it cause any red flags. The software is good at protecting your PC while online, blocking malicious URLs and stopping auto-downloads from occurring. The 2017 version watches the behavior of specific apps to see they are doing anything suspicious, as well.

Of course as a free program, you’ll be missing out on some features exclusive to the paid package, including auto-scans and auto-updates. Those wanting such upgrades will need to opt for a subscription plan, which ranges from $10 to $180 per month. Still, sticking with the free version will keep you well-protected.

Comodo Free Antivirus

ComodoComodo’s free download, available for both Windows and Mac, includes antivirus and firewall capabilities that are designed for small businesses, but available to private users via a free version (with no limit on how long you can use it). The interface is sharp and task-oriented, the options for control are diverse, and Comodo has a great suite of tools for sole proprietors and busy personal computers alike.

Comodo has also done an impressive job of keeping up on the latest security options, including cloud-based whitelisting for service providers, auto sandboxing so that any unknown programs are run in a safe environment before integrating with the rest of your OS, and a customized scanning schedule. There are also new additions, like game mode designed for at-home computers, making this software even more versatile.

Sophos Home

SophosSophos Home is a free version of the Sophos security program for Mac and PC. It’s a particularly good choice for families with the ability to manage up to 10 computers on a single browser and block unwanted websites. However, it also includes classic abilities like antivirus and anti-malware protection and scans.

Otherwise, the Home version of Sophos is simple and uncluttered, with basic alerts, browser controls, and scanning functions that anyone can figure out. It’s an ideal choice for those who want to focus on parental controls while still getting the benefit of firewalls and scans. Currently, the software works with Edge, IE, Safari, Chrome and Firefox.

360 Total Security Essential

360 Total Security360 Total Security gets high marks for its sheer amount of choices. Antivirus, anti-malware, and anti-ransomware protection are backed up by multiple engine protection, including cloud scan, system repair, QVMII AI, Avira, and Bitdefender – in other words, it’s even compatible with other antivirus software if you prefer their scans more than 360.

But the choices don’t end there. System protection includes USB drive, network, file system, and registry defenses, as well as options to scan files at download or on opening. Internet security options include online shopping protection and malicious site blocking. If you want even more options, consider upgrading to the next tier, which is currently also free, but includes more options for patching Adobe and Microsoft products, Wi-Fi security checks, and tools to clean out unnecessary files and improve internet speeds.

Bitdefender Antivirus Free Edition

bitdefender-gray-bg-720xBitdefender Antivirus Free Edition revels in a minimalist design that makes it low-maintenance. Though the application features no configurations of any kind, it automatically scans your machine in the background using cloud-based detection, subsequently performing a deeper scan if it comes across any malicious software or red flags.

The bundled, real-time virus shield additionally blocks malicious URL and uses behavior-based detection, protecting against potential threats. Newer features include anti-fraud options that uses more advanced filters to warn you away from any sites that have been known to try to steal identities.

Aside from commendable malware blocking and removal, the lightweight program doubles as an excellent anti-rootkit and anti-phishing utility, the latter detecting and blocking fraudulent sites through HTTP-based scanning.

Malwarebytes Anti-Malware Free

MalwarebytesNow boasting a whopping 300 million downloads worldwide (and counting), Malwarebytes provides some of the best and most comprehensive virus-removal software available, frequently making it one of the first go-to sources for tech agencies and support groups alike.

The program uses Chameleon technology to get the application running on already infected systems, triggering the “mbam-chameleon” app when necessary and helping install and update any required drivers crucial to the software’s functionality. Options are divided into four different modules. Anti-malware protects against and removes malware with automatic scans, while anti-ransomware helps shield files from ransomware attacks. Anti-exploit helps protect against any known vulnerabilities discovered in your system or apps, while malicious website protection keeps you away from fake or malicious sites.

This article was updated on April 24th, 2017 by Tyler Lacoma. Removed out-of-date applications, added Sophos, Comodo, and 360 Total Security. 

Read more: http://www.digitaltrends.com/computing/best-free-antivirus-software/#ixzz4fl2ZzWQq
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New Orleans PD Posted Snipers to Protect Contractors as They Tore Down Confederate Monument in Secret

http://www.renegadetribune.com/new-orleans-pd-posted-snipers-protect-contractors-tore-confederate-monument-secret/

 

By Daniel Lang of The Daily Sheeple

Ever since a racially motivated mass shooting of a church occurred in Charleston, South Carolina two years ago [Ren Ed: staged psyop], there’s been a widespread campaign to remove statues and flags that have Confederate origins. That campaign continues to this day in New Orleans, where multiple monuments to Confederate icons and events were ordered to be taken down in 2015, despite the protests of many white southerners who felt that their history was being demolished.

Now the city is following through on its promise to tear down these monuments. On April 24th, which is often celebrated as Confederate memorial day in many Southern states, the New Orleans city government removed an obelisk that commemorates the Battle of Liberty Place. The battle took place several years after the Civil War ended, and was fought by a paramilitary group called the Crescent City White League against local police forces, in an attempt to overthrow the Reconstruction Louisiana state government.

The monument was taken down unannounced and in the middle of the night, by contractors who wore masks to protect their identities. Protesters arrived on the scene at midnight once they heard that monument was being taken down, but by 1:30 AM they had dispersed. Police then set up barricades to keep anyone else away, and posted snipers on a nearby building.

The next day, the president of a group called the Monumental Task Committee, spoke out against the decision to tear down the monument. “This secretive removal under the cloak of darkness, outside of the public bid, masked contractors, and using unidentified money wreaks of atrocious government.”

New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu defended his decision to take down the monument under these conditions, and claimed that “intimidation and threats by people who don’t want the statues down” forced him to do it at night and without notice. He called the obelisk a monument to “White supremacists” and proclaimed that “We will no longer allow the Confederacy to literally be put on a pedestal.”

The obelisk has since been placed in storage, where it will soon be joined by memorials to President Jefferson Davis, General Robert E. Lee and General P.G.T. Beauregard. Landrieu hasn’t said when the monuments will be removed, but said that they may be placed in a museum at a later date.


This article originally appeared on the The Daily Sheeple.

Reform movement urges synagogues to protect immigrants facing deportation

(JTA) — The Reform movement called on its member synagogues to protected undocumented immigrants facing deportation from the United States.

The Union for Reform Judaism issued a resolution Friday recommending that its congregations provide shelter and legal assistance, as well as material, financial or educational support to at-risk immigrants.

Rabbi Jonah Pesner, who heads the movement’s policy arm, the Religious Action Center, implored synagogues not already aiding immigrants to start doing so.

“Today, we urge congregations to protect undocumented immigrants facing deportation by adopting a plan for providing resources, temporary shelter, legal assistance, or other forms of support to those in need,” Pesner said in a Friday statement. “There are Reform synagogues in communities nationwide that are already supporting and protecting undocumented immigrants facing deportation within their communities, and with this resolution we hope growing numbers will join this holy work.”

Also this week, the Union for Reform Judaism was among more than 50 co-sponsors of a Jewish rally for refugees in Washington, D.C. Nearly 800 people attended the rally organized by HIAS, a refugee resettlement group formerly known as the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society.

Donald Trump made ending illegal immigrants a central part of his presidential campaign, and as president he has directed the government to observe immigration laws more strictly, including deporting undocumented immigrants, even if they have not committed serious crimes.

Moment of Truth: Will Trump Protect Internet Privacy?

http://www.renegadetribune.com/moment-truth-will-trump-protect-internet-privacy/

 

By Torchy Blane of The New Nationalist

Corporate tracking of your online activity is about to get even more invasive. Republicans in a party-line vote in both Congress and the Senate passed a resolution that unwinds an Obama-era FCC regulation that currently requires home and mobile Internet service providers obtain permission to collect and sell users’ sensitive data by asking users to opt-in.

In sum, the resolution disbanding the FCC regulation would allow home and mobile Internet service providers such as Comcast and Verizon to:

  • Collect your browsing history
  • Alter your search results
  • Monitor your online activity
  • Sell your data to advertisers

Proponents of Internet privacy describe the scrapping of the FCC regulation as “a gift to the cable and telephone industry” because it “takes surveillance to a more intimate level.”

Essentially, a broadband service provider without permission can record every URL visited, see every time you get online, how much time you spend online, from where you got online and the emails you send and receive. It also allows providers to collect, store, share and sell your personal information, including health and financial info, as well as data entered in online forms, such as your phone number, social security number, credit card number and passwords.

Who could be in favor of such a thing? The majority of the Republicans Party, which has shown it has no libertarian strains left. Instead, it’s become a nasty blend of corporatism and the Cheka. The GOP voted 215 to 205 in favor in the House. Only 15 reps proved they weren’t in the pocket of telecoms by voting against it. The House roll call voting results can be viewed here.

These are the 50 Senators who just voted to gut rules & let ISPs sell your private data to marketers without permission.

Massachusetts Rep. Michael Capuano (D) on Tuesday summed it up best by shouting the following message across the isle:

What the heck are you thinking!? What is in your mind?! Why would you want to give out any of your personal information to a faceless corporation for the sole purpose of them selling it? Give me one good reason why Comcast should know what my mother’s medical problems are. … Last week I bought underwear on the Internet. Why should you know what size I take, or the color, or any of that information. When I was growing up, I thought one of the tenets of the Republican Party that I admired the most was privacy.”

Texas Rep. Michael Burgess (R) had the uncomfortable task of introducing the resolution to end online privacy to the House. Awkward! He meekly read from a sheet of paper no doubt delivered to him by some telecom lobbying group. His points, in sum, were:

  • The FCC regulation is “duplicative” of FTC rules (but the FTC has no enforcement mechanism)
  • The regulation provides an “unfair” advantage to Internet “edge companies,” such as Google, Facebook and Amazon, because they don’t have to request visitors opt-in to collect data
  • Service providers want a bigger piece of the ad-revenue pie enjoyed by companies like Google and Amazon (the nation’s largest ISP has a net worth of $150 billion; whereas a parent company of the nation’s largest Internet company is $500 billion)
  • Internet users are experiencing “opt-in fatigue”
  • Being prompted to opt-in is confusing for Internet users
  • Republicans want limited government
  • Undoing the FCC regulation would restore free-market competitiveness

Nobody came to the floor to back up Burgess and speak in favor of the resolution. Watch for yourself. The “debate” begins at 01:12:00.

 

The resolution is now on its way to the Oval Office, where Trump is expected to sign it. If he does, we predict his approval rating — now hovering at 36% — will take an additional hard hit. After all, more than 90% of voters say they value their Internet privacy.  Yep, for those still smokin’ the Trumpian hopium, this could be a harsh wake-up call. Approving the resolution would prove once and for all that he’s not the people’s president. We shall soon see …

What You Can Do

According to Market Watch:

Consumers can still circumvent surveillance by using a Virtual Private Network, or VPN. The tool loops user traffic through a private, encrypted network rather than sending it directly to the servers of your internet company, obscuring your browsing habits from the service provider. It’s notoriously difficult to rank the best VPN services, but Freedom and Private Internet Access (PIA) are often regarded as solid choices, according to security experts, and cost only a few dollars a month.

However, Falcon noted, many consumers lack the “technical sophistication” to use a VPN — while more than 25% of people around the globe use VPNs, only 16% of Americans have used one, and it’s still largely considered a “niche tool” outside of those who use them to connect to their office’s virtual desktop.


 

Feds Drop Charges in Child Porn Case to Protect Secrets

http://www.renegadetribune.com/feds-drop-charges-child-porn-case-protect-secrets/
By James Holbrooks of The Anti-Media

In a case that’s drawn criticism from multiple angles, last week federal prosecutors in Washington state dropped all charges against a man who allegedly downloaded child pornography from a website that was infiltrated, taken over, and allegedly even improved by the FBI.

The site, Playpen, operated on a platform designed to mask the real identities of its users, as Gizmodo explained Monday:

The site in question operated on the Tor network, a system used to anonymize web activity. The network makes use of a special web browser that conceals people’s identities and location by routing their internet connections through a complex series of computers and encrypting data in the process.”

The feds first targeted Playpen back in February of 2015. About a year later, the Washington Post ran a piece outlining the FBI’s methods in going after pedophiles. Using suspect “Pewter” as an example, the paper described how the feds’ operation worked:

The agency, with a warrant, surreptitiously placed computer code, or malware, on all computers that logged into the Playpen site. When Pewter connected, the malware exploited a flaw in his browser, forcing his computer to reveal its true Internet protocol address. From there, a subpoena to Comcast revealed his real name and address.”

The case, United States v. Jay Michaud, is one of around 200 that resulted from the FBI’s Playpen operation. Regardless of the manner in which the evidence against Michaud was collected — which drew staunch criticism — a lack of it wasn’t the reason the charges were dropped.

The reason, as was made clear in a court filing last Friday, is that the FBI would rather let Michaud walk free than reveal its tactics in open court.

The government must now choose between the disclosure of classified information and dismissal of its indictment,” federal prosecutor Annette Hayes explained in the filing. “Disclosure is not currently an option. Dismissal without prejudice leaves open the possibility that the government could bring new charges should there come a time within the statute of limitations when and (if) the government (should) be in a position to provide the requested discovery.”

That’s right. The federal government is letting a potential child predator back out onto the streets so it doesn’t have to reveal its law enforcement methods.

Some, such as Zachary Goldman, executive director of the Center on Law and Security, argue that the FBI supplying the court with its techniques would ostensibly weaken its ability to enforce the law.

The adjunct NYU professor told Gizmodo the fact the charges against Michaud are being dropped “doesn’t mean that the F.B.I.’s investigation was unjust or unjustified,” and that it actually proves the agency is “placing paramount importance on preserving the ability to use this technique in the future.”

Attorney Zachary Margulis-Ohnuma, who has represented some of the defendants in the Playpen investigation, disagrees. He says the FBI’s dragnet-style approach violated citizens’ Fourth Amendment protections against unlawful search and seizure.

“In law enforcement situations, some people have the mentality that ends justify the means,” Margulis-Ohnuma said, referring to the news about Michaud. “I do not think they would have done this in a drug case. They wouldn’t mail out drugs to hundreds of people. I think because child pornography is so heinous, they bend the rules.”

Many feel the government should have shut Playpen down the second it took it over. The feds, however, went in another direction. Once the FBI was in control, a federal attorney in North Carolina says, it made the site run better.

In a motion to have charges against a Playpen client thrown out, assistant defender Peter Adolf claimed the government improved the Playpen service in order to draw in more customers — in other words, people they were planning to arrest:

Indeed, government agents worked hard to upgrade the website’s capability to distribute large amounts of child pornography quickly and efficiently, resulting in more users receiving more child pornography faster than they ever did when the website was running ‘illegally.’”

Adolf claimed Playpen membership grew by 30 percent during the two weeks under FBI control and that average weekly visitors rose from around 11,000 to somewhere closer to 50,000. He also claims in the motion that during that two-week period, “approximately 200 videos, 9,000 images, and 13,000 links to child pornography were posted on the site.”


This article (Feds Drop Charges in Child Porn Case to Protect Secrets) was originally created and published by The Anti-Media and is re-posted here with permission. 

WikiLeaks aftermath: Can you protect your phone or TV from spying?

The publication by WikiLeaks of documents it says are from the CIA’s secret hacking program describe tools that can turn a world of increasingly networked, camera- and microphone-equipped devices into eavesdroppers.

Smart televisions and automobiles now have on-board computers and microphones, joining the ubiquitous smartphones, laptops and tablets that have had microphones and cameras as standard equipment for a decade. That the CIA has created tools to turn them into listening posts surprises no one in the security community.

In a statement to CBS News, the CIA said it had no comment on the authenticity of the documents or the status of any investigation into their source.

“CIA’s mission is to aggressively collect foreign intelligence overseas to protect America from terrorists, hostile nation states and other adversaries. It is CIA’s job to be innovative, cutting-edge, and the first line of defense in protecting this country from enemies abroad,” the agency said. “It is also important to note that CIA is legally prohibited from conducting electronic surveillance targeting individuals here at home, including our fellow Americans, and CIA does not do so.”

The agency also warned that the disclosure of hacking tools could allow America’s adversaries to take advantage of them, too.

The release of the documents by WikiLeaks has prompted many questions about potential vulnerabilities.

Q: How worried should consumers be?

A: The intrusion tools highlighted by the leak do not appear to be instruments of mass surveillance. So, it’s not as if everyone’s TV or high-tech vehicle is at risk.

“It’s unsurprising, and also somewhat reassuring, that these are tools that appear to be targeted at specific people’s (devices) by compromising the software on them — as opposed to tools that decrypt the encrypted traffic over the internet,” said Matt Blaze, a University of Pennsylvania computer scientist.

The exploits appear to emphasize targeted attacks, such as collecting keystrokes or silently activating a Samsung TV’s microphone while the set is turned off. In fact, many of the intrusion tools described in the documents are for delivery via “removable device.”

Q: What can be done to prevent a compromised internet-connected device from communicating with spies?

A: Not much if you don’t want to sacrifice the benefits of the device.

“Anything that is voice-activated or that has voice- and internet-connected functionality is susceptible to these types of attacks,” said Robert M. Lee, a former U.S. cyberwar operations officer and CEO of the cybersecurity company Dragos.

That includes smart TVs and voice-controlled information devices like the Amazon Echo, which can read news, play music, close the garage door and turn up the thermostat. An Amazon Echo was enlisted as a potential witness in an Arkansas murder case.

To ensure a connected device can’t spy on you, unplug it from the grid and the internet and remove the batteries, if that’s possible. Or perhaps don’t buy it, especially if you don’t especially require the networked features and the manufacturer hasn’t proven careful on security.

Security experts have found flaws in devices — like WiFi-enabled dolls — with embedded microphones and cameras.

Q: I use WhatsApp and Signal for voice and text communication because of their strong encryption. Can the exploits described in the WikiLeaks documents break them?

A: No. But exploits designed to infiltrate the operating system on your Android smartphone, iPhone, iPad or Windows-based computer can read your messages or listen in on conversations on the compromised device itself, though communications are encrypted in transit.

“The bad news is that platform exploits are very powerful,” Blaze tweeted. “The good news is that they have to target you in order to read your messages.”

Apple and Google, the company behind Android, have issued statements saying many of the alleged vulnerabilities have already been patched.

Blaze and other experts say reliably defending against a state-level adversary is all but impossible. And the CIA was planting microphones long before we became networked.

Q: I’m not a high-value target. But I still want to protect myself. How?

A: It may sound boring, but it’s vital: Keep all your operating systems patched and up-to-date, and don’t click links or open email attachments unless you are sure they are safe.

There will always be exploits of which antivirus companies are not aware until it’s too late. These are known as zero-day exploits because no patches are available and victims have zero time to prepare. The CIA, National Security Agency and plenty of other intelligence agencies purchase and develop them.

But they don’t come cheap. And most of us are hardly worth it.

FORMER MOSSAD CHIEF: MAYBE FLYNN WAS THROWN UNDER THE BUS TO PROTECT TRUMP

 

As the heat stays on the Trump administration about possible illegal communications with Russia, the resignation of National Security Council chief Michael Flynn last week and the proximity of his meetings with the Russian ambassador to his meetings with Mossad Director Yossi Cohen once again raised the question of whether Israeli intelligence has or could be leaked to Moscow.

In December and January, stories started to circulate in the media that Israel, the UK, Australia and others might be reconsidering whether they could fully openly share intelligence with the Trump administration when incoming US President Donald Trump, Flynn and others seemed so close to Russia.

 

On Thursday, The Wall Street Journal reported that some US intelligence officials are withholding certain intelligence from Trump because of continued concerns it will be compromised or leaked.

Most US and Israeli officials interview by The Jerusalem Post in January and early February dismissed the concerns. But there have been developments since then. Flynn resigned on Tuesday – stepping down for having spoken to Russian officials about removing sanctions before Trump entered office as well as for lying to other members of the administration about what he discussed with the Russians.

But not only were the discussions’ content, the lies and the resignation new, but it turns out that Flynn met with the Russian ambassador on December 29, sandwiched just after and just before secret meetings with Cohen in which the sides presumably exchanged key intelligence.

The Post once again interviewed former Israeli intelligence officials on the issue, to see if their confidence in Trump and his team, or more specifically in Flynn, was shaken by the latest developments.

Former Mossad director Danny Yatom came out strongly, saying he knew Flynn personally and affirming that he would not have leaked Israeli intelligence information to Russia even if he may have violated certain US norms by discussing sanctions relief to Russia before Trump had taken office.

Asked about the possibility of a leak, Yatom said, “I don’t think so, from my personal evaluation. Flynn was very experienced. No one thinks he was a Russian spy. He was experienced and smart enough…

maybe he made a mistake even with no intention, but that can happen to anyone. I don’t think we need to worry that our intelligence will go to Russia.”

He speculated that Flynn may have even “been thrown under the bus,” echoing some theories that Flynn’s discussion of sanctions with Russian officials may have been under orders from Trump, but that at this point he may have “fallen on his sword” to protect the US president from fallout.

Yatom said that Flynn’s dismissal should not have a huge impact on Israeli-US intelligence cooperation, since Trump has just come into office and top officials tend to have more power and influence after serving with a new leader for at least a year. This allows time to gain his confidence and authorization for various policies.

Yatom broke down the process of relevant information exchanges in terms of protecting Israeli intelligence sources into two pieces.

The first he said, concerned information meant exclusively for the US, which goes directly to the CIA or the National Security Agency. “Only after it gets to the NSA does it get to the president. The CIA and NSA don’t need to tell the president and others at the White House who is the source of the intelligence they received – they don’t need to know,” he said.

He explained that if the US president does not know the source of the intelligence, then there is no danger to Israel’s sources and no danger to sharing the intelligence.

The second he described as “intelligence we intentionally want to give to Russia. We give them a paraphrase. We don’t give them the actual original material which would let them analyze potential sources of the material. We give intelligence to Russia, for example, to convince them that Iran is not standing by its obligations.”

“Some of the facts we present to Russia directly and some through the US, but we do it in a smart way so they can’t figure out the source,” of the intelligence, said Yatom.

Other former intelligence officials indicated that they could not be sure one way or another about the fate of any Israeli intelligence given to Flynn, with one official saying, “He was a US general, I hope he was not a traitor.”

One former official said that Israel has no choice in these situations about whether to share intelligence with the US, noting “We also receive. We can’t say yes and then no” about Israel asking for the US to share information and then refusing to share or refusing to share in an equal manner.

He indicated that the intelligence sharing between Cohen and Flynn was part of regular working intelligence relations and could have included some of the most important secrets that there are.

Overall, Yatom said he was most worried by reports that US intelligence officials did not trust Trump enough to give him the full picture.

Yatom did not necessarily buy into all of the various theories about Trump and Russia, but he said some of the allegations at the very least required investigation from an internal US perspective, as if some of the allegations were true it would be “a nightmare scenario.”
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TAGS: Mossad United States Donald Trump