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Update: Snowden has arrived in Moscow.  More in NSA Files section below.

Jesus.  The "Insider Threat" program?  What is this paranoid bullshit?  Insider threat is just another code word for terrorist.  Take that and connect the NDAA laws to it and you can see where this might go.  WTF is this?  Seriously, WTF.

Obama’s crackdown views leaks as aiding enemies of U.S.

WASHINGTON — Even before a former U.S. intelligence contractor exposed the secret collection of Americans’ phone records, the Obama administration was pressing a government-wide crackdown on security threats that requires federal employees to keep closer tabs on their co-workers and exhorts managers to punish those who fail to report their suspicions.

President Barack Obama’s unprecedented initiative, known as the Insider Threat Program, is sweeping in its reach. It has received scant public attention even though it extends beyond the U.S. national security bureaucracies to most federal departments and agencies nationwide, including the Peace Corps, the Social Security Administration and the Education and Agriculture departments. It emphasizes leaks of classified material, but catchall definitions of “insider threat” give agencies latitude to pursue and penalize a range of other conduct.

Government documents reviewed by McClatchy illustrate how some agencies are using that latitude to pursue unauthorized disclosures of any information, not just classified material. They also show how millions of federal employees and contractors must watch for “high-risk persons or behaviors” among co-workers and could face penalties, including criminal charges, for failing to report them. Leaks to the media are equated with espionage.

“Hammer this fact home . . . leaking is tantamount to aiding the enemies of the United States,” says a June 1, 2012, Defense Department strategy for the program that was obtained by McClatchy.


[...] Some non-intelligence agencies already are urging employees to watch their co-workers for “indicators” that include stress, divorce and financial problems.

[Emphasis added]

Michael Hastings Wrote Email About ‘Big Story’ Before His Death

Hastings’ reporting had gotten him in trouble before. After his 2010 Rolling Stone profile on Gen. Stanley McChrystal led to the dismissal of the commander of US and NATO forces in Afghanistan, Hastings received death threats from one of McChrystal’s staffers.

In his book, The Operators: The Wild and Terrifying Inside Story of America’s War in Afghanistan, Michael Hastings recalled the incident.

“We’ll hunt you down and kill you if we don’t like what you write,” the staffer threatened, according to Hastings, who responded: “Well, I get death threats like that about once a year, so no worries.”

Hastings sent the email around 1pm on Monday.  He blind copied a guy who he had gotten to know while embedded with a unit in Afghanistan, Staff Sergeant Biggs, who released the email.  If a federal agency issues a National Security Letter (NSL) on someone, it allows them to investigate the person secretly and order people/companies to release information on the target of their investigation. Those who receive the letters are under a gag order and cannot disclose that they ever received the letter.  

I'm not saying that there was an NSL on Hastings (and I don't know if interviews can be conducted using NSLs), and the FBI has said he was not under investigation by them (however other agencies, such as the CIA and the Pentagon can also issue them domestically in cases where they suspect terrorism or espionage).  I'm just saying that this could be one explanation why he knew that friends and colleagues were being questioned about him (or required to produce documentation about him), but it would also mean that whoever told him about it either leaked the information to him, or a friend or colleague broke the gag order and told him about it.  When it was first reported that he thought he was under investigation, it sounded like it was just a suspicion on his part, but now that we can see the email, it doesn't look like he suspected it, it sounds like he knew it for a fact.

Exclusive: Hastings Sent Colleagues Email Hours Before Crash

Biggs had known Hastings since 2008, when the journalist was embedded in his unit in Afghanistan.

“On Monday morning, I woke up and I got an email, and it’s very panicked,” Biggs said.

He was blind-copied on the email, which was sent to Hastings’ colleagues.

In part, it said that the feds were interviewing his close friends and associates, and that he was onto a big story and needed to get off the radar.

The FBI has denied that Hastings was ever under investigation.

“It alarmed me very much,” Biggs said. “I just said it doesn’t seem like him. I don’t know, I just had this gut feeling and it just really bothered me,” he said.

The email was sent just before 1 p.m. on Monday, 15 hours before the deadly crash.

There is no copyright or attribution at the bottom of this email in the KTLA story (below), so I assume that it's okay to put a screenshot of it here, now that it's public and the names are redacted. Note the subject line: "FBI investigation, re: NSA".  We know that he was working on a story about Jill Kelley.  Was he also working on the NSA Files case with Greenwald and others?  Was there another whistleblower?  Was there a connection between the Jill Kelley/Petraeus story and the NSA Files story?  Somewhere else along the line we heard that one of the stories he was working on involved John Brennan.
Hastings' Email


This video doesn't show the actual crash.  It shows what they are saying is Hastings' car passing by before the crash and then the news videographer approaching the area of the crash (but goes around few corners first?) minutes later.  There is already a neighbor outside with a garden hose, at 4 a.m. who must have run out immediately and must have been a quick thinker.  They suggest that the car running the red light was Hastings', but they don't report it with certainty and admit that there's something wrong with the timing.  
Freelance videographer catches footage via dashcam

The video, by freelance TV news crew LOUD LABS NEWS, shows a vehicle blazing through a red light on Highland Avenue and Santa Monica Boulevard, only four blocks from the crash:
The video appears to have been taken from a LOUD LABS vehicle awaiting the night's news.

Freelance videographers work the night shift in L.A. because local TV stations don't budget enough for expensive, three-person news vans to work overnight. The freelance crews listen to police scanners and sell their footage to the stations.
Soon after, multiple reports are heard on an LAPD frequency regarding an "ambulance traffic" accident at Highland and Melrose avenues only a few blocks south.

The video indicates those calls came in four minutes later, but we'd guess, given the vehicle's speed and proximity to the crash site, that if it was the same Mercedes connected to the Hastings crash, it was more like a matter of seconds.

The Young Turks co-host interviews a witness to the crash.
Witness to Michael Hastings Car Crash Shares His Story

NYT Public Editor/Ombudsman, Margaret Sullivan, criticizes the obituary that her paper did on Hastings.  It's well worth reading. She did a nice job of analyzing whether the obituary was fair, in citing other souces, including the guy who wrote the obit, and in doing him more justice.  Sadly though, the original obituary stands, for the record, unless there was an update that I'm not aware of. The man who wrote it disagreed with the criticisms.
Hastings Obituary Did Not Capture His Adversarial Spirit

An obituary of the journalist Michael Hastings missed an opportunity to convey to Times readers what a distinctive figure he was in American journalism.

The obituary, which has drawn criticism — most notably in a strongly worded e-mail from Mr. Hastings’ widow, Elise Jordan, to the executive editor, Jill Abramson, and others at The Times, including the public editor’s office — is not factually inaccurate, as far as I can tell.

But it doesn’t adequately get across the essence of Mr. Hastings’ journalism or the regard in which he was held. And, in the way it presents the Pentagon’s response to his most celebrated article in Rolling Stone, which brought down Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal, the obituary seems to diminish his work’s legitimacy.

NSA Files

Bill Clinton on NSA: Americans need to be on guard for abuses of power by US
Former president tells Scottish audience there needs to be accountability and transparency when surveillance is used

"So this is one of those areas, which in my opinion will always be blurry, grey and make people uncomfortable, and we wish we didn't even have to talk about it or deal with it. But freedom and security are not necessarily mutually exclusive.

"You can destroy freedom with false claims that you have to do it to make everybody secure, but usually when somebody's doing it, they don't give a rip about security, they're just trying to get more power.

"And so the key here is accountability, transparency and protection against use of information, inadvertently found, for other purposes."

NSA leaker Snowden flies to 'third country' via Moscow

Snowden examined by Ecuadorian embassy doctor at Moscow airport upon arrival – RT source

The plane carrying whistleblower Edward Snowden has landed at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport. The former CIA contractor, who left Hong Kong in a bid to elude US extradition on espionage charges, is on his way to a ‘third country’ via Russia.


Stop Watching Us.

The revelations about the National Security Agency's surveillance apparatus, if true, represent a stunning abuse of our basic rights. We demand the U.S. Congress reveal the full extent of the NSA's spying programs.

Blog Posts and Tweets of Interest

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