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UN to Investigate US & UK Drone Strikes

In News, UK, USA on January 31, 2013 at 12:17 AM

01/24/2013

A United Nations investigation into targeted killings will examine drone strikes in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia, according to the British lawyer heading the inquiry.

Ben Emmerson QC, a UN special rapporteur, will reveal the full scope of his review which will include checks on military use of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) in UK operations in Afghanistan, US strikes in Pakistan, as well as in the Sahel region of Africa where the conflict in Mali has erupted. It will also take evidence on Israeli drone attacks in Palestinian territories.

About 20 or 30 strikes – selected as representative of different types of attacks – will be studied to assess the extent of any civilian casualties, the identity of militants targeted and the legality of strikes in countries where the UN has not formally recognised there is a conflict.

The inquiry will report to the UN general assembly in New York this autumn. Depending on its findings, it may recommend further action. Emmerson has previously suggested some drone attacks – particularly those known as “double tap” strikes where rescuers going to the aid of a first blast have become victims of a follow-up strike – could possibly constitute a “war crime”.

The inquiry will be co-ordinated through Emmerson’s UN office in Geneva. Among the team of experts working with him will be the former director of public prosecutions, Lord Macdonald QC, a former prosecutor at the international criminal tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, Sir Geoffrey Nice QC, and Dr Nat Cary, one of the UK’s most experienced pathologists who specialises in the interpretation of injuries caused by explosions.

The inquiry is the result of a request by several nations, including Pakistan and two permanent members of the UN security council.

Staff in Geneva have already begun to examine details of individual drone strikes. Emmerson says that, when assembled, his dossier of evidence may not lead to direct “attribution of legal liability” but will enable him to put allegations to the states responsible and obtain a response.

The Ministry of Defence, he said, had assured him of its willingness to co-operate. The influential US Council on Foreign Relations recently recommended that the US president should: “provide information to the public, Congress, and UN special rapporteurs – without disclosing classified information – on what procedures exist to prevent harm to civilians”.

Despite many US officials justifying drone strikes in Yemen, Pakistan and Somalia as acceptable as part of the global war on terrorism, others in the Washington administration have more recently acknowledged a need to demonstrate legal justification for targeted killings to the international community.

Emmerson told the Guardian: “One of the fundamental questions is whether aerial targeting using drones is an appropriate method of conflict … where the individuals are embedded in a local community.

“One of the questions we will be looking at is whether, given the local demography, aerial attacks carry too high a risk of a disproportionate number of civilian casualties.” “The explosion of drone technology [raises the question whether] the military dependence on UAVs carries an unacceptably high risk of civilian casualties.”

Between June 2004 and September 2012, according to research by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, drone strikes killed between 2,562 and 3,325 people in Pakistan, of whom between 474 and 881 were civilians, including 176 children.

Via TheGuardian

UK Asked to Investigate Spyware Firm Selling Surveillance Tech to Repressive Regimes

In Big Brother, News, NWO, Other Leaks, Police State, Science & Technology, WikiLeaks, World Revolution on December 27, 2012 at 5:29 PM

12/27/2012

RT:

Privacy rights activists are calling on HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) to investigate spyware firm Gamma International and its exports of surveillance software to repressive regimes, such as Bahrain, calling the transactions “criminal” and “illegal”.

WikiLeaks Spy Files on GAMMA

 

­The campaign group Privacy International (PI) confirmed in a press release that Gamma International is selling surveillance technology to regimes with horrific human rights records without a proper license.

The software being sold is powerful enough to intercept text messages, phone and Skype calls, remotely turn on cameras and microphones, log keystrokes and copy files, The Guardian reported.

The activist group sent a 186-page report to HMRC, saying that that technology sold is being used to spy on activists, who are later targeted by repressive regimes and “amounts to criminal conduct”.

In April 2011, Egyptian protesters found documents from Gamma International inside Egypt’s secret police office. One of the documents contained an offer dated June 29, 2010, which said to provide ‘FinSpy’ software, hardware, installation and training for 287,000 euro.

Gamma International denied supplying software to Egypt, but did confirm that it has demonstrated such products to the government.

Bahraini pro-democracy activists also were subjected to Gamma International’s surveillance products.

In spring and summer of 2012 activists received emails containing malware. After the University of Toronto’s CitizenLab investigated the case, it found evidence connecting the malware to FinSpy, which is part of the commercial FinFisher intrusion kit.

Citizen Lab managed to extract ‘digital DNA’, from the infected emails that matched that of FinFisher and published the results.

Activist and writer in Bahrain Ala’a Shehabi, 30, was one of the victims targeted by FinSpy malware emails.

She claims to have received the total of four emails from what looked like authentic email accounts.

She later forwarded them to her colleague Bill Marczak, a computer science doctoral candidate at the University of California, Berkeley, who then connected the malware in the email to an internet address in Manama, Bahrain’s capital, which triggered the rest of the investigation.

Shebani told The Guardian that situation in Bahrain at the time was “very charged”.

“I was banned from traveling and forced to stop work,” she added. “I essentially worked on the assumption that everything I did or said was being watched.”

Facebook and Twitter accounts started disappearing, forcing the opposition to go underground.

Gamma International, on the other hand, stated that it had no knowledge of this.

Bahrain’s human rights situation remains “critical in the wake of the brutal crackdown on pro-democracy protesters that erupted in February 2011,” reports Human Rights Watch.

Police regularly use violence to disperse crowds of protesters, while Bahrainis, led by the country’s Shiite Muslim majority, are continuing to protest, demanding greater rights and freedoms from the ruling Sunni minority. More than 80 people have died in the unrest since the pro-democracy protests begun.

Gamma International’s spy software was also discovered being used in Ethiopia and Turkmenistan, PI reported.

PI is calling for greater restrictions on export of UK’s surveillance software, arguing that it is not guarded by the same export laws as traditional weapons.

“For years, British companies like Gamma International have had carte blanche to sell incredibly powerful surveillance technologies to any government that can afford them, even when they are subsequently used to target human rights defenders,” head of research at Privacy International, Eric King, told The Guardian.

Gamma International is a British company that offers “world-class offensive techniques for information gathering,” such as FinFisher – a spyware product that can take control of target computers and capture even encrypted data and communications.

The company markets its products in several languages including Arabic, German, English, Portuguese, French and Russian.

Gamma International has stated that it complies with export controls and denied reports of selling to oppressive regimes.

Due to PI’s efforts, the UK’s Department for Business, Innovation and Skills advised Gamma International that the FinSpy products have been controlled by EU legislation since 2000 and “require a license” in order to export outside the EU. This means that the tech firm would have to disclose the names of suppliers is exports to.

In an email revealed by The Guardian, Gamma International executive Martin Muench stated that the company will not provide any details of export licenses for confidentiality and security reasons, repeating that it only exports to legitimate governments and is cooperating with UK, US and Germany’s export controls.

The company also submitted a control list classification inquiry asking which products required a license, but has not applied for any of them.

PI is calling for more government control of surveillance technology.

DC Police Investigating NBC’s David Gregory for Showing High-Capacity Gun Magazine On Air

In Gun Control, News, Other Leaks, Viral Videos on December 26, 2012 at 7:24 PM

12/23/2012

Breitbart:

While attacking National Rifle Association President Wayne La Pierre on NBC’s Meet the Press this weekend, host David Gregory actually violated gun laws in the city where he broadcasts.

During the show, Gregory waved around a 30-round magazine for what he claimed is an AR-15 rifle. But since Meet the Press is taped in NBC’s Washington D.C. studios this is actually a violation of the city’s strict gun laws.

 

Washington D.C. specifically bans the very ammunition magazine that Gregory bandied about during his discussion.

DC High Capacity Ammunition Magazines – D.C. Official Code 7-2506.01

(b) No person in the District shall possess, sell, or transfer any large capacity ammunition feeding device regardless of whether the device is attached to a firearm. For the purposes of this subsection, the term large capacity ammunition feeding device means a magazine, belt, drum, feed strip, or similar device that has a capacity of, or that can be readily restored or converted to accept, more than 10 rounds of ammunition. The term large capacity ammunition feeding device shall not include an attached tubular device designed to accept, and capable of operating only with, .22 caliber rimfire ammunition.

Penalties include “a maximum fine of $1000 and/or up to a year imprisonment.”

Will D.C. officials prosecute Mr. Gregory? They would anyone else, wouldn’t they?

Sadly, despite all these extremely stringent gun banning laws in the District of Columbia, violent crime soared in 2012.

Finally, maybe Mr. Gregory should have watched CBS to get some facts about those “assault rifles” he is so worried about. CBS recently reported that a scant 2 percent of all gun crimes are committed with assault weapons.

12/25/2012

Breitbart:

Washington D.C. Police Chief Cathy Lanier has confirmed that the department is looking into allegations that NBC’s David Gregory violated D.C.’s gun banning laws during a recent taping of Meet the Press.

Breitbart contacted the office of the police chief and asked if there were any plans to look into this apparent violation of the District’s gun laws. In response, Chief Lanier replied, “Yes, we are investigating the incident to determine if the magazine was in fact real.”

We will continue to watch this developing story.

UPDATE #1:

12/26/2012

LegalInsurreciton:

An email has surfaced purporting to be from the D.C. Metropolitan Police Department stating that NBC requested permission to use a high capacity ammunication magazine and that the request was denied.

DC Police Email to NBC

UPDATE #2:

12/26/2012

TMZ:

An official from the D.C. police told a member of the Federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives that David Gregory COULD display a high capacity magazine on “Meet the Press” Sunday … TMZ has learned.

Well-placed law enforcement sources tell TMZ … a staffer from “Meet the Press” called ATF before the show aired to inquire about the legality of David holding the empty magazine during a segment on gun control.  We’re told the ATF person contacted the D.C. police to find out if the District of Columbia — the place where the show is broadcast — had a law prohibiting such a display.

Our sources say the D.C. police official informed ATF David could legally show the magazine, provided it was empty.  An ATF official then called the staffer from “Meet the Press” to inform them they could use the magazine.

D.C. police released a statement today, saying “NBC contacted the Metropolitan Police Dept. inquiring if they could utilize a high capacity magazine for this segment.  NBC was informed that possession of a high capacity magazine is not permissible and the request was denied.”

It appears “Meet the Press” may have gotten 2 different answers from law enforcement.

UPDATE #3:

12/27/2012

According to POLITICO, a spokesman from the Washington Metropolitan Police Department said it was illegal for David Gregory to use a gun magazine as a prop on Meet the Press — even if it was empty.

Officer Paul Metcalf said “it’d still be illegal” if the magazine didn’t contain bullets.

Yesterday, TMZ reported that Gregory was given the green light after a D.C. official contacted the Federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. And that he may have gotten conflicting responses.

Metcalf did not comment on the report. “I don’t know where they got their information. I can’t confirm what they said,” he said. “All I can say for now is that the matter is still under investigation.”

An ATF official told POLITICO that the information the D.C. official provided to the ATF was inaccurate. As Metcalf said, using the magazine would be illegal — and the ATF official “said the bureau regretted that the misunderstanding had created these issues.”

And so the saga of David Gregory and the gun clip continues…

Related Links:

White House Petition to Charge NBC’s David Gregory for Possession of High-Capacity Magazine in DC

NBC’s David Gregory Not Charged “Despite the Clarity of the Violation of This Important Law”

AZ Sheriff Arpaio Investigating Obama Fraud

In News, NWO, Other Leaks, USA, Viral Videos, World Revolution on April 29, 2012 at 10:01 AM

03/01/2012

The Western Center For Journalism joined with World Net Daily (WND) and the Article II Super PAC to live stream video of the Maricopa County “Cold Case Posse” Investigative Report of President Barack Obama initiated following a request from Tea Party members from Surprise, Arizona. Sheriff Joe Arpaio requested his Cold Case Posse investigate possible fraud and forgery in Barack Obama’s birth certificate. In addition to their findings on the online document presented by the White House, the Posse also addressed problems with Obama’s Selective Service registration card.

 

Sheriff Arpaio’s official report detailing how the Cold Case Posse’s investigation led them to conclude that Barack Obama’s Long Form Birth Certificate as released by the administration on Whitehouse.gov is in fact, forged. This report has been given to the representatives of various media outlets.

03/26/2012

Sheriff Joe Arpaio talks to Infowars about the media blackout surrounding the Obama birth certificate issue.

 

The Obama records which have not been released include; Passport records, Obama kindergarten records, Punahou School records, Occidental College records, Columbia University records, Columbia thesis, Harvard Law School records, Harvard Law Review articles, University of Chicago scholarly articles, Illinois State Bar Association records, Illinois State Senate records/schedules (said to be lost), Medical records, Obama/Dunham marriage license, Obama/Dunham divorce documents, Soetoro/Dunham marriage license, Adoption records and of course the long-form Certificate of Live Birth.

State Representative Carl Seel, who introduced the bill, was joined by Sheriff Joe Arpaio, State Senator Lori Klein, and others in support of the bill. Important new information was revealed during the news conference including a request by Sheriff Joe Arpaio to the current head of the Selective Service Board to investigate the criminal forgery committed in the case of Barack Obama’s Selective Service registration. In addtion, Carl Seel reveals some of the resistance that other Republicans are creating to stop the bill from even heading to a vote.

The bill will require Barack Obama, or any candidate seeking to be on the Arizona ballot, to certify eligibility for the office they are seeking. This will essentially require Barack Obama to certify his eligibility if he wants to be on the ballot this year in Arizona. This could potentially be a game-changing piece of legislation.

Watch the news conference below:

 

03/31/2012

Sheriff Joe Arpaio and the lead investigator of the MCSO Cold Case Posse, Mike Zullo, presented their preliminary findings today (March 31, 2012) regarding their investigation into the “probable” forgery of Barack Obama’s online birth certificate and selective service forms. This presentation was open to the public, and around one thousand attendees showed up, although mainstream media were absent.

The conference took place at the Church on the Green in Sun City, Arizona.

 

Related Links:

Sheriff Arpaio Set to Release “Shocking Revelation” on Obama’s Birth Ceritifcate

Sheriff Arpaio’s Cold Case Posse Finds Man Who Forged Obama’s Birth Certificate

Congress Looks to Investigate HBGary and Hunton & Williams

In Anonymous, NWO, Other Leaks, WikiLeaks on March 3, 2011 at 5:27 PM

arstechnica.com: Embattled HBGary Federal CEO Aaron Barr quit his job yesterday as the prospect of a Congressional investigation loomed. A dozen Democrats in Congress asked various Republican committee chairs to launch probes of HBGary Federal’s idea for a “reconnaissance cell” targeting pro-union organizers. The three companies called themselves Team Themis, and instead of providing simple “business intelligence,” they had a few other ideas:

  • Create a false document, perhaps highlighting periodical financial information, and monitor to see if US Chamber Watch acquires it. Afterward, present explicit evidence proving that such transactions never occurred. Also, create a fake insider persona and generate communications with [union-backed Change to Win]. Afterward, release the actual documents at a specified time and explain the activity as a CtW contrived operation.
  • If needed, create two fake insider personas, using one as leverage to discredit the other while confirming the legitimacy of the second. Such work is complicated, but a well-thought out approach will give way to a variety of strategies that can sufficiently aid the formation of vetting questions US Chamber Watch will likely ask.
  • Create a humor piece about the leaders of CtW.

Now, some members of Congress want an investigation. “The [Team Themis] techniques may have been developed at US government expense to target terrorists and other security threats,” said a letter signed by the representatives.

“The e-mails indicate that these defense contractors planned to mine social network sites for information on Chamber critics; planned to plant ‘false documents’ and ‘fake insider personas’ that would be used to discredit the groups; and discussed the use of malicious and intrusive software (‘malware’) to steal private information from the groups and disrupt their internal electronic communications.”

Did anything illegal happen? The letter suggests that forgery, wire fraud, and computer fraud might have taken place and that Congress should investigate the ways that private contractors turn their military contracting experience on private targets. Other e-mails contain similar proposals to target supporters of WikiLeaks on behalf of Bank of America, which fears it will be that group’s next target. Bank of America has denied knowledge of the proposals.

Hunton & Williams, the middleman law firm in all this (and the middleman between a major US bank and Team Themis’ similar plan to take down WikiLeaks), has steadfastly refused to comment on the whole story. But it too may find itself in trouble after a professional conduct complaint (PDF) was lodged against it last week in Washington, DC. The complaint was filed by Stop the Chamber and Velvet Revolution, two of the groups targeted for the potential Chamber of Commerce campaign. It accuses the three Hunton & Williams lawyers named in the HBGary Federal e-mails of “an extended pattern of unethical behavior that included likely criminal conduct.”

Specifically, they solicited, conspired with and counseled three of its investigative private security firms to engage in domestic spying, fraud, forgery, extortion, cyber stalking, defamation, harassment, destruction of property, spear phishing, destruction of property, identity theft, computer scraping, cyber attacks, interference with business, civil rights violations, harassment, and theft.

Most of this alleged bad behavior was done, of course, by Team Themis and not by Hunton & Williams. Still, they reviewed (and appear to have had no problems with) the material. As the complaint puts it, “none of the H&W lawyers ever expressed any reservation or doubt about the unethical conduct proposed and committed by their investigators. In fact, they actively solicited and approved everything that was proposed and presented.”

The complaint asks the DC Board of Professional Responsibility to strip all three Hunton & Williams lawyers of their licenses.

Related Link: Congress Demands DoD and NSA Contracts with HBGary

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