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This is a huge deal. The loya jirga meeting was held today. Karzai has decided to postpone signing the forever war agreement until after the elections in April. What is the tie between the deal with the U.S. and the Afghan elections? Karzai is leaving office. Why is he waiting for the elections? Has he made a deal for a successor and wants to make sure that the bargain is carried out and wants to hold onto his leverage until the last minute? Seems kind of obvious but this is purely speculation on my part. In his speech to the jirga he openly admits that he doesn't trust the U.S. and that they don't trust him. It's possible that he wants to make sure that the person who is elected is someone who isn't a complete puppet even though he himself was propped up by NATO for his years in office. But to be fair, he has stood up to NATO.
Or does he want the new president to sign the deal? That part is not clear but it would actually make sense given that Karzai is committing the country to an open ended committment (agreement says "2024 and beyond") and then leaving office shortly afterward. This article is packed with information, so I recommend reading it. I'll try to include more articles and analysis today and in the coming days.
Afghanistan's Karzai will defer signing U.S. dealThey've attached this amendment to the NDAA, a must pass bill. It's being reported that the vote won't be held before Thanksgiving but I wonder. I'm also very suspicious of the timing of Harry Reid's nuclear option on the filibuster given the big things that are coming through Congress soon, including this. But Merkley supports it so it might actually help the D caucus with this particular legislation. But what about TPP, budget deals that might include "entitlement" cuts, etc.? Why now after five years of dealing with Republican filibusters is it so important to nuke the filibuster?
KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — Afghanistan's president said he backs a security deal with the United States but told a gathering of elders on Thursday that if they and parliament approve the agreement it should be signed after next spring's elections.
Hamid Karzai's abrupt decision to defer signing the agreement until after the April 5 elections came even as he said he supported the Bilateral Security Agreement in a speech to the 2,500-member national consultative council known as the Loya Jirga.
Such a development could be a potential deal breaker as the United States has said it wants an agreement as soon as possible to allow planners in the United States and NATO to prepare for a military presence after 2014, when the majority of foreign combat forces will have left Afghanistan. The U.S. had wanted a deal signed by the end of October.
"If you accept it and Parliament passes it, the agreement should be signed when the election is conducted, properly and with dignity," Karzai said toward the end of a speech that lasted more than one hour.
The Loya Jirga can revise or reject any clause of the draft agreement. Whatever they agree upon then goes to the Afghan parliament, which could make still more changes before the agreement is approved.
The Jirga will hold a series of closed-door meetings until Sunday, when it makes its suggestions on the security deal to Karzai.
Senators to Obama: Congress Must Vote Before Another Decade of War in AfghanistanAl Qaeda in Kentucky. AQK? Interesting timing, deciding to publicize this now, and for the FBI to hand tapes and diagrams over to ABC News, at a time when NSA programs are under fire, when they are having trouble proving that they are of value in thwarting attacks, and when Congress is working on legislation to limit those programs. This is a case from 2009-11. They use the term "intelligence tip" several times and it appears that they are talking about NSA meta data analysis programs since they mention a "needle in a haystack".
The draft agreement didn’t specify troop levels, but Afghan officials told NBC News they hoped 10,000 to 15,000 American troops would remain in the country for at least the next decade, though American officials said it would be closer to 7,000 or 8,000. In either case, if signed, the United States would be agreeing to at least a decade-long military commitment in Afghanistan—meaning a twenty-three-year war, at the very least.
But a bipartisan group of senators—led by Jeff Merkley of Oregon—is trying to pump the brakes. They have a simple principle: before President Obama agrees to another decade of war, he should consult Congress and the American people.
The Nation has learned that Merkley, along with original co-sponsors Rand Paul, Joe Manchin, Mike Lee and Ron Wyden, will introduce an amendment to the upcoming National Defense Authorization Act that expresses a sense of the Senate that Obama should seek congressional approval no later than June 1, 2014, for any extended presence in Afghanistan.
The FBI gave ABC a tape and diagrams for their investigation, which seems very unusual, given that a couple of people interviewed in this article say that there may be dozens more like these AQK refugee/former insurgents still in the U.S. and because this is an ongoing investigation. They used an informant, possibly also selected from NSA program data and they claim that they matched up the refugee's fingerprints with fingerprints of a phone that was used to detonate an IED. The phone was recovered in a pile of gravel s it had gone through an explosion, was covered in dust and gravel and then stored in a warehouse of such items since 2005, but they were still able to detect fingerprints on it and match it up with the refugee who had told an informant that he was involved in the insurgency in Iraq during that time period.
This is a fairly long article. Four pages. A must read, IMHO, for a number of reasons.
Exclusive: US May Have Let 'Dozens' of Terrorists Into Country As RefugeesAlso from ABC News, a day later. I sent a link to this poll to Greenwald and this was his response to it just minutes later:
Several dozen suspected terrorist bombmakers, including some believed to have targeted American troops, may have mistakenly been allowed to move to the United States as war refugees, according to FBI agents investigating the remnants of roadside bombs recovered from Iraq and Afghanistan.
The discovery in 2009 of two al Qaeda-Iraq terrorists living as refugees in Bowling Green, Kentucky -- who later admitted in court that they'd attacked U.S. soldiers in Iraq -- prompted the bureau to assign hundreds of specialists to an around-the-clock effort aimed at checking its archive of 100,000 improvised explosive devices collected in the war zones, known as IEDs, for other suspected terrorists' fingerprints.
"We are currently supporting dozens of current counter-terrorism investigations like that," FBI Agent Gregory Carl, director of the Terrorist Explosive Device Analytical Center (TEDAC), said in an ABC News interview to be broadcast tonight on ABC News' "World News with Diane Sawyer" and "Nightline".
After the FBI received the intelligence tip later that year, a sting operation in Kentucky was mounted to bait Alwan with a scheme hatched by an undercover operative recruited by the FBI, who offered Alwan the opportunity to ship heavy arms to al Qaeda in Iraq. The FBI wanted to know if Alwan was part of a local terror cell -- a fear that grew when he tapped a relative also living in Bowling Green, Hammadi, to help out.
'Needle in a Haystack' Fingerprint Match Found on Iraq Bomb Parts, White House Briefed
"Many things should take place and it should be huge," Hammadi told Alwan in an FBI-recorded conversation, which a prosecutor read at Hammadi's sentencing last year.
Then-FBI Director Robert Mueller briefed President Obama in early 2011 as agents and Louisville federal prosecutors weighed whether to arrest Alwan and Hammadi or continue arranging phony arms shipments to Iraq that the pair could assist with, consisting of machine guns, explosives and even Stinger missiles the FBI had secretly rendered inoperable and which never left the U.S.
Extreme hackery: Democrats, who shrieked endlessly about NSA during Bush, now most pro-NSA group of anyone http://t.co/...— Glenn Greenwald (@ggreenwald) November 21, 2013
Many View NSA Intrusions as Unjustified But More See Damage from Snowden LeaksThis drone strike in Pakistan occurred in an area where they are rarely used, according to this story. An aide to Pakistan's prime minister said that the U.S. had said, just yesterday, that it would temporarily stop the strikes if the Taliban participates in peace negotiations.
Forty-eight percent in this ABC News/Washington Post poll think the NSA intrudes without justification on some Americans’ privacy rights and 42 percent think it intrudes unjustifiably on their own privacy, both up by 8 percentage points since July. Similarly, 46 percent say the spy agency “goes too far” in its surveillance activities.
Drone strike in Hangu kills 5, injures 3Here is what Imram Khan has said about it on Twitter (h/t to Glenn Greenwald tweet pointing to these).
HANGU / ISLAMABAD: A drone fired four missiles at a madrassa in Hangu, killing five people and injuring three others on Thursday.
According to Reuters, two of the deceased were identified as teachers.
“He was the spiritual leader and head teacher of the Haqqani network,” one source told AFP, adding that Jan was a member of the group’s ruling council.
“He was receiving people who were coming to condole the death of Nasiruddin Haqqani because followers of were not able to meet any other member of Haqqani family.”
Another Haqqani source said the seminary was an important rest point for members fighting in Afghanistan’s restive Khost province.
Unacceptable US drone attack in Hangu, KP, simply on assumption of possible future terrorism. 4 innocent children,2 teachers killed.— Imran Khan (@ImranKhanPTI) November 21, 2013
The KP govt will identify and give out the names of the Hangu drone victims to expose the lie of drones killing only "militants".— Imran Khan (@ImranKhanPTI) November 21, 2013
The drone killings will once again create more militants and extremists vowing revenge for the killings of Hangu. Why is Nawaz govt silent?— Imran Khan (@ImranKhanPTI) November 21, 2013
Problems with the FISC’s Newly-Declassified Opinion on Bulk Collection of Internet MetadataSteve Vladeck.
[...]But as far as I can tell, the government wanted to do bulk collection much like it did with its controversial Section 215 telephony metadata bulk collection program. That is, it wanted an order forcing a provider to record and disclose Internet metadata in real time on an ongoing basis for potentially tens of millions of customers, all with a single order obtained with no judicial review based on a mere certification by the Attorney General.
Is that really what Congress authorized?
But that’s only the beginning. Recognizing that the government is asking for permission to conduct a program that Congress presumably did not contemplate, Judge Kollar-Kotelly goes on to ignore the statutory certification standard. She spends most of the opinion conducting her own review of whether she thinks the AG was correct in submitting his certification. Along the way, she adopts the Government’s exceedingly strange suggestion that the relevance standard under the pen register statute is analogous to the reasonableness requirement of searches under the Fourth Amendment. (Huh??) She then concludes that the bulk collection is reasonable in a Fourth Amendment sense — not that the Fourth Amendment applies, as this is just metadata, but rather in the policy sense that the program represents a sensible balance between security and privacy along the lines of that required under Fourth Amendment reasonableness precedents. The application is thus granted because, all things considered, the program does seem to be a pretty good way to find terrorists. See pages 49-54. Judge Kollar-Kotelly then goes on to impose strict limits on how the pen register order is to be implemented, imposing use restrictions on the data, mandating what kinds of queries can be made of the data collected, and the like.
Early Thoughts on the New NSA DisclosuresPublic private partnerships, a favorite of this president and his cabinet, are just scams to rob the public money for education, demonizing the current teachers and workers so they can move in and loot the place.
Although I make a few specific observations below the fold, let me offer off the top my three larger takeaways from these documents. First, on substance, the rationale for the internet metadata program is appallingly weak. Second, whatever its merits, that rationale appears to have informed the rationale for the bulk telephony metadata program–which was then relied upon to support reinstatement of the internet metadata program, a fairly obvious exercise in circular logic. Third, substance aside, it’s hard to miss the repeated allusions to, as Judge Bates put it, the “serious compliance problems that have characterized the government’s prior implementation of FISC orders”–which should provide only further reason to disagree with those who continue to argue that existing accountability mechanisms are sufficient to hold the government to the authorities Congress has provided.
CMD Exposes America’s “Highest Paid Government Workers”
New initiative will expose the CEOs who take over public services and divert millions of tax dollars out of communities and into their pockets
(Madison, WI) – The Center for Media and Democracy (CMD) today launched “America’s Highest Paid Government Workers,” a new initiative that will expose the taxpayer-funded salaries of CEOs whose corporations make billions by taking control of public services.
“Time and again we’re told that librarians, nurses and teachers are to blame for state and local budget problems,” said Lisa Graves, Executive Director of the Center for Media and Democracy. “In reality, taxpayers are being duped by corporate CEOs and Wall Street banks that are siphoning money out of our communities for huge salaries and bonus packages.”
You will not see this on Fox News. Over the next few weeks, CMD will be highlighting some of the CEOs who are living large off the taxpayer dime. The effort is part of our ongoing new project, OutsourcingAmericaExposed.org, which focuses on 12 firms doing the most to privatize public services.
Today, CMD puts the spotlight on Ron Packard, CEO of K12 Inc., America’s highest paid teacher.
Stuxnet's Secret Twin
The real program to sabotage Iran's nuclear facilities was far more sophisticated than anyone realized.
With Iran's nuclear program back at the center of world debate, it's helpful to understand with more clarity the attempts to digitally sabotage that program. Stuxnet's actual impact on the Iranian nuclear program is unclear, if only for the fact that no information is available on how many controllers were actually infected. Nevertheless, forensic analysis can tell us what the attackers intended to achieve, and how. I've spent the last three years conducting that analysis -- not just of the computer code, but of the physical characteristics of the plant environment that was attacked and of the process that this nuclear plant operates. What I've found is that the full picture, which includes the first and lesser-known Stuxnet variant, invites a re-evaluation of the attack. It turns out that it was far more dangerous than the cyberweapon that is now lodged in the public's imagination.
Stuxnet's later, and better-known, attack tried to cause centrifuge rotors to spin too fast and at speeds that would cause them to break. The "original" payload used a different tactic. It attempted to overpressurize Natanz's centrifuges by sabotaging the system meant to keep the cascades of centrifuges safe. "Protection systems" are used anywhere where abnormal process conditions can result in equipment damage or threaten the health of operators and the environment. At Natanz, we see a unique protection system in place to enable sustained uranium enrichment using obsolete and unreliable equipment: the IR-1 centrifuge. This protection system is a critical component of the Iranian nuclear program; without it, the IR-1s would be pretty much useless.
Legend has it that in the summer of 2010, while inflicting its damage on Natanz, Stuxnet "escaped" from the nuclear facility due to a software bug that came with a version update. While that is a good story, it cannot be true. Stuxnet propagated only between computers that were attached to the same local network or that exchanged files though USB drives. In other words, Stuxnet must have spread largely by human hands. But in these days of remote access by modem or via Internet virtual private networks, human hands can extend across continents.
World powers, Iran in new attempt to reach nuclear dealJay Bybee's son committed suicide earlier this week.
(Reuters) - World powers resumed efforts to clinch a preliminary deal to curb Iran's nuclear programme at talks in Geneva on Wednesday, with Russia and Britain confident that agreement can be reached.
Judge's son killed himself at Las Vegas Mormon temple
The man who shot and killed himself at the Mormon Temple in east Las Vegas Tuesday night is the son of 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Jay Bybee.
Scott Greer Bybee, 26, of Henderson, walked into the courtyard of the temple at 827 Temple View Drive, near Bonanza Road and Hollywood Boulevard, and shot himself, according to police.
Police had received calls from Bybee’s family with concerns that he was going to the temple to kill himself, Lt. Mark Reddon said.
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