TSA-Trained Disney World in Goofy ‘Terrorist Detection’ Methods

The same ridiculed and useless techniques used by the Transportation Safety Administration (TSA) to not find terrorists at America’s airports are now being used at Orlando theme parks, including Disney World, Sea World, and Busch Gardens, to not find terrorists.

A Billion Dollars Hits the SPOT

The Screening of Passengers by Observation Techniques, or SPOT, program is TSA’s one billion dollar “behavioral detection” scheme. SPOT requires TSA staff to be on the lookout for indicators, “tells” to you poker players out there, that give away bad guys. Some of the actual indicators are listed on the graphic, above.

There are actually 92 individual indicators (terrorists are sneaky!), divided into various categories with a point score assigned to each. Those categories include a preliminary “observation and behavior analysis.” Those passengers pulled over for additional inspection are scored based on two more categories: whether they have “unusual items,” like almanacs and “numerous prepaid calling cards or cell phones,” and a final category for “signs of deception,” which include “covers mouth with hand when speaking” and “fast eye blink rate.”

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Tell Us Why We’re At War in Iraq Again, Mr. President: Peter Van Buren

When I was a kid, three presidents told us we had to fight in Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos, because if we didn’t fight them over there, we’d have to fight them on the beaches of California. We believed. It was a lie.

I was a teenager during the Cold War, and several presidents told us we needed to create massive stockpiles of nuclear weapons, garrison the world, invade Cuba, fight in odd little places and use the CIA to overthrow democratically elected governments and replace them with dictators, or the Russians would destroy us. We believed. It was a lie.

When I was in college our president told us that we needed to fight in El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua or the Sandinistas would come to the United States. He told us Managua was closer to Washington DC than LA was. He told us we needed to fight in Lebanon, Grenada and Libya to protect ourselves. We believed. It was a lie.

When I was a little older our president told us how evil Saddam Hussein was, how his soldiers bayoneted babies in Kuwait. He told us Saddam was a threat to America. He told us we needed to invade Panama to oust a dictator to protect America. We believed. It was a lie.

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New Report: US Aid to Afghanistan Basically Wasted or Stolen

As Obama fails on another campaign promise, this one to end the war in Afghanistan, and as that war moves into its 15th year, it is important to remember the US has spent around $110 billion (no one knows the exact amount due to poor record keeping) to “rebuild” that beleaguered nation, so far.

We say “so far” in that the spending continues, and like the end of the war itself, as no foreseeable end date.

So how is that rebuilding thingee going?

Not well, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, which issued a report saying “The Afghan private sector has thus far failed to fulfill its potential as an engine of economic growth or an instrument of social inclusion.”

In addition to America tossing that $110 billion of taxpayer money into the hole, foreign aid groups have been flushing away $15.7 billion a year. Taken together, all that money now accounts for around 98 percent of the entire Afghan gross domestic product.

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Snowden: NSA, GCHQ Using Your Phone to Spy on Others (and You)

You are a tool of the state, according to NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden.

The NSA in the U.S., and its equivalent in the UK, GCHQ, are taking control of your phone not just to spy on you as needed, but also to use your device as a way to spy on others around you. You are a walking microphone, camera and GPS for spies.

Snowden, in a BBC interview, explained that for the most part intelligence agencies are not really looking to monitor your private phone communications per se. They are actually taking over full control of the phone to take photos or record ongoing conversations within earshot.

According to Snowden, the UK’s spy agency, the Government Communications Headquarters, uses NSA technology to develop software tools to control almost anyone’s smartphone. He notes that all it takes is sending an encrypted text message to get into virtually any smartphone. Moreover, the message will not be seen by the user, making it almost impossible to stop the attack.

GCHQ calls these smartphone hacking tools the “Smurf Suite.” The suite includes:

“Dreamy Smurf” is the power management tool that turns your phone on and off with you knowing.

“Nosey Smurf” is the hot mic tool. “For example,” Snowden said, “if the phone is in your pocket, NSA/GCHQ can turn the microphone on and listen to everything that’s going on around you, even if your phone is switched off because they’ve got the other tools for turning it on.

“Tracker Smurf” is a geolocation tool which allows spies to follow you with a greater precision than you would get from the typical triangulation of cellphone towers.

“Paranoid Smurf” is a defensive mechanism designed to make the other tools installed on the phone undetectable.

Snowden said the NSA has spent close to $1 billion to develop these smartphone hacking programs.

Reprinted with permission from WeMeantWell.com.

My Dreams Seek Revenge: Revisiting Hiroshima One More Time: Peter Van Buren

I’ve visited Hiroshima many times.

There is a Japanese jail not far from the Hiroshima Peace Park, and in my guise as a diplomat working in Japan, one of my jobs was to visit Americans in jail, typically young men and women who’d smoked a little weed in drug-conscious Japan.

I’d check up on their welfare, pass messages to and from home for them, that kind of thing. There were always enough of these folks in Hiroshima for at least quarterly visits, and I always took the opportunity to visit the Peace Park, the Atomic Dome and the museum. You’ve seen them all in photos many, many times.

The thing that always struck me about Hiroshima was simply being there. The train pulled into the station under an announcement that you had arrived in Hiroshima. It was another stop on the bullet train’s long run from Osaka to Fukuoka, so they called out the name as if it was just another stop. I’d get off the train, step out into the sunlight — that sunlight — and I was in Hiroshima. I had the same feeling only once before, taking a bus out of Munich and having the driver announce the next stop as Dachau. Somehow such names feel wrong being said so prosaically.

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Torture and the Myth of Never Again: The Persecution of John Kiriakou

No one except John Kiriakou is being held accountable for America’s torture policy. And John Kiriakou didn’t torture anyone, he just blew the whistle on it.

In a Galaxy Far, Far Away

The United States sanctioned acts of torture by the Central Intelligence Agency and others. The acts took place in secret prisons (“black sites”) against persons detained indefinitely without trial. They were described in detail and explicitly authorized in a series of secret torture memos drafted by John Yoo, Jay Bybee, and Steven Bradbury, senior lawyers in the DOJ’s Office of Legal Counsel. (Office of Legal Counsel attorneys technically answer directly to the DOJ, which is supposed to be independent from the White House, but obviously was not in this case.) Not one of those men, or their Justice Department bosses, has been held accountable for their actions.

Some tortured prisoners were killed by the CIA. Attorney General Eric Holder announced recently that no one would be held accountable for those murders either. “Based on the fully developed factual record concerning the two deaths,” he said, “the Department has declined prosecution because the admissible evidence would not be sufficient to obtain and sustain a conviction beyond a reasonable doubt.”

Jose Rodriguez, a senior CIA official, admitted destroying videotapes of potentially admissible evidence, showing the torture of captives by operatives of the U.S. government at a secret prison thought to be located at a Vietnam-War-era airbase in Thailand. He was not held accountable for deep-sixing this evidence, nor for his role in the torture of human beings.

John Kiriakou Alone

The one man in the whole archipelago of America’s secret horrors who went to jail is former CIA officer John Kiriakou. Of the untold numbers of men and women involved in the whole nightmare show of those years, only one.

And of course, he didn’t torture anyone.

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