Monthly Archives: June 2015

Amériques – La NSA contrainte de suspendre ses activités de surveillance aux États-Unis

La NSA est contrainte, depuis dimanche, de suspendre sa collecte des données des appels téléphoniques américains, faute d’accord au Sénat pour prolonger l’autorité légale du programme. Une suspension jugée “irresponsable” par la Maison Blanche.

Le programme de surveillance à grande échelle des appels téléphoniques aux États-Unis, par la National Security Agency (NSA), révélé au grand public par Edward Snowden, est suspendu depuis dimanche.

Faute d’un accord au Sénat américain pour éviter l’expiration de la section 215 du Patriot Act, fondement juridique depuis 2001 de la collecte des métadonnées (horaires, durées, numéro appelé) de tous les appels téléphoniques.

C’est le sénateur Rand Paul, candidat à l’investiture républicaine pour l’élection présidentielle de 2016 et adversaire résolu de toute contrainte fédérale sur la liberté individuelle, qui a bloqué, au moins provisoirement, l’adoption définitive d’une nouvelle loi.

“Le Patriot Act expire ce soir”, s’est félicité l’élu républicain et libertaire, qui a profité de la procédure législative compliquée de la chambre haute du Congrès pour bloquer le texte.

“À partir de ce soir les employés de la NSA qui consultaient la base de données ne pourront plus le faire, tout cela grâce au sénateur Rand Paul”, a indiqué de son côté à l’AFP le sénateur Richard Burr, président de la commission du renseignement du Sénat.

“Irresponsable”

La Maison Blanche a qualifié dimanche soir d'”irresponsable” l’expiration de la collecte des données téléphoniques, demandant au Sénat de faire en sorte que l’autorité légale du programme soit rétablie le plus rapidement possible.

La Maison Blanche avait en effet prévenu cette semaine que tous les serveurs de la NSA collectant les métadonnées des appels téléphoniques américains (horaires, durées, numéro appelé) cesseraient de fonctionner à 00 h 01 (04 h 01 GMT) si le Sénat ne prolongeait pas l’autorité légale du programme.

Le Sénat va continuer cette semaine à examiner le texte bloqué dimanche soir, Rand Paul ne pouvant retarder trop longtemps la procédure et un grand nombre de sénateurs, républicains et démocrates, ayant manifesté leur soutien. Toutefois, le vote final, dans le courant de la semaine, pourrait ensuite ouvrir la voie à un rétablissement de l’autorité légale de la collecte

“Nous voterons cette semaine” le projet de loi, a déclaré le sénateur Ted Cruz (Texas), autre candidat potentiel à l’investiture républicaine pour la présidentielle.

Le texte en souffrance au Sénat, le USA Freedom Act, prolonge pour quelques mois la collecte des données par la NSA, le temps de permettre aux compagnies téléphoniques de mettre en place les moyens de les stocker elles-mêmes.

Le USA Freedom Act renforce également le contrôle judiciaire sur l’exploitation des données par les agences de renseignement.

Il est soutenu par les grandes entreprises Internet et informatiques américaines, dont l’image avait souffert de leur coopération supposée avec la NSA, et par une partie des ONG qui défendent la vie privée et combattent la surveillance électronique.

Le texte a déjà été voté par la Chambre des représentants, et la Maison Blanche a multiplié cette semaine les appels en sa faveur.

“Malheureusement, certains essaient d’utiliser ce débat pour marquer des points politiques”, avait déclaré le président Barack Obama, en visant Rand Paul.

“Je pense que les terroristes surveillent très attentivement ce qui se passe aux États-Unis”, avait averti de son côté dimanche matin John Brennan, le directeur de la CIA.

“On ne peut pas se permettre” de diminuer le système de surveillance, au moment où la menace terroriste est particulièrement forte, a-t-il indiqué.

 

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Senate takes up House bill but fails to avoid spying lapse

Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., talks with a reporter as he leaves the Capitol following his address to the Senate in Washington, Sunday, May 31, 2015. Senate Republicans say they’ve been unable to make a deal to extend contested anti-terror provisions. As a result, the post-Sept. 11 programs will expire at midnight.

Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., talks with a reporter as he leaves the Capitol following his address to the Senate in Washington, Sunday, May 31, 2015. Senate Republicans say they’ve been unable to make a deal to extend contested anti-terror provisions. As a result, the post-Sept. 11 programs will expire at midnight.

WASHINGTON — Eight days after blocking it, Senate Republicans have agreed to begin debate on a House bill that would overhaul the National Security Agency’s handling of American calling records while preserving other domestic surveillance provisions.

But that remarkable turnabout didn’t happen soon enough to prevent the laws governing the programs from expiring at midnight Sunday as Republican Sen. Rand Paul, a presidential contender, stood in the way of extending the program, angering his GOP colleagues and frustrating intelligence and law enforcement officials.

Now, the question is whether the Senate will pass a bill the House can live with. If so, the surveillance programs will resume, with some significant changes in how the phone records are handled. If not, they will remain dormant.

The Senate vote on the measure known as the USA Freedom Act can come no earlier than 1 a.m., Tuesday. Senate Republican aides said they expected some amendments, but no major revisions to the bill.

“Having gone past the brink, the Senate must now embrace the necessity of acting responsibly,” said Adam Schiff, the ranking Democrat on the House intelligence committee, in a statement after Sunday’s Senate vote.

The high-stakes drama played out as Congress debated the most significant changes prompted by the disclosures of Edward Snowden, the former NSA contractor who revealed the phone records collection and other main surveillance programs. With no deal reached in time, the NSA stopped collecting American phone records at 3:59 p.m. EST Sunday, officials said.

Other authorities that expired allowed the FBI to collect business records in terrorism and espionage investigations, and to more easily eavesdrop on a suspect who is discarding cell phones to avoid surveillance.

Intelligence officials publicly warned of danger, but were not deeply concerned with a lapse of a few days or weeks, given that the authorities remain available in pending investigations. What they most fear is a legislative impasse that could doom the programs permanently.

“The Senate took an important_if late_step forward tonight,” White House spokesman Josh Earnest said in a statement. “We call on the Senate to ensure this irresponsible lapse in authorities is as short-lived as possible.”

President Barack Obama supports the USA Freedom Act, which ends NSA bulk collection of U.S. phone records but allows the agency to search records held by the phone companies. That bill, which preserves the other expiring provisions, passed the House overwhelmingly May 13.

Senate Republicans blocked that legislation on May 23, arguing that it undercut the NSA’s ability to quickly search the records. It fell three votes short of the 60 needed to advance.

But with no other options, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, in an about-face, reluctantly embraced the House-passed bill Sunday night.

“It’s not ideal but, along with votes on some modest amendments that attempt to ensure the program can actually work as promised, it’s now the only realistic way forward,” McConnell said.

The Senate then voted 77-17 to move ahead on the USA Freedom Act.

McConnell was boxed in by the actions of his fellow Kentucky Republican, Paul, who helped stymy the leader’s attempt to pass an extension of current law. Paul objected each time McConnell attempted to bring that measure to a vote.

Paul opposes the USA Freedom Act as not going far enough. But, he predicted , the USA Freedom Act “will ultimately pass.”

Earlier, in a fiery speech decrying NSA surveillance, he shouted, “This is what we fought the revolution over, are we going to so blithely give up our freedom? … I’m not going to take it anymore.” Supporters wearing red “Stand With Rand” T-shirts packed the spectator gallery.

Paul’s moves infuriated fellow Republicans and they exited the chamber en masse when he stood up to speak after the Senate’s vote on the House bill.

Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz. complained to reporters that Paul places “a higher priority on his fundraising and his ambitions than on the security of the nation.”

Paul, for his part, asserted that, “People here in town think I’m making a huge mistake. Some of them I think secretly want there to be an attack on the United States so they can blame it on me.”

Civil liberties groups were split. Some, including the ACLU, oppose the USA Freedom Act as too weak, and applauded the expiration of the surveillance laws. If the USA Freedom Act passes, the NSA would resume bulk phone records collection during a six month transition period to the new system.

“Congress should take advantage of this sunset to pass far-reaching surveillance reform, instead of the weak bill currently under consideration,” said Michael Macleod-Ball, acting director of the ACLU Washington Legislative Office.

But that seemed unlikely. Liberal senators who have been aggressive in criticizing the NSA are backing the USA Freedom Act.

“I’m pleased Republicans joined with Democrats to do what’s responsible and support the passage of the USA Freedom Act,” said Sen. Martin Heinrich, a New Mexico Democrat. “This is a bipartisan compromise that would ensure that our intelligence community has the tools it needs to focus more narrowly on the records of actual terrorists, and end the bulk collection of law-abiding Americans’ private phone calls.”

 

No scandal too far-fetched for Bill and Hillary Clinton

     BY Linda Stasi

It’s hard to believe one couple can always be this close to so much corruption in one lifetime.

How is it possible that 676,000 Republicans are running for President while the Democrats can only only come up with one candidate? And that one has more scandals under her belt than a Clinton.

Oh wait, she is a Clinton.

Crazier still, just when you thought the worst had come out about the Clinton couple candidacy, three more bombs exploded this week. And some of them really are bombshells. Literally.

Not surprisingly, one bombshell involves Bill and a blond — a gorgeous, blond supermodel bombshell. Very surprisingly, the scandal doesn’t involve sex. But not surprisingly, it does involve money. A lot of money.

On Friday, the New York Times revealed that Bill had actually rejected the solicitations of supermodel Petra Nemcova. No, not for doing the nasty, but it doesn’t mean he didn’t do something really nasty. The former Prez allegedly rejected an invitation from the model to accept an award from her charity, the Happy Hearts Fund — until it agreed to fork over $500,000 to the Bill, Hilary and Chelsea Clinton Foundation.

Nemcova, who barely survived the 2004 Indonesian tsunami and lost her boyfriend in the disaster, began the charity after she recovered from extensive injuries, in order to build schools in the ravaged country.

Surprisingly, Bill Clinton’s scandal with gorgeous blond Petra Nemcova doesn’t involve sex.

The “donation” from her charity to the Clintons’ charity cost, according to The Times, almost one-quarter of the event’s total proceeds.

Makes you kind of want to shower for the rest of your life, no?

Right. But don’t turn off the hot water just yet. The International Business Times reported earlier in the week that, under Hillary Clinton, the State Department managed to clear gigantic arms deals with 20 foreign countries worth $165 billion to countries that donated to the Bill, Hillary and Chelsea Foundation. In addition, $151 billion in Pentagon-brokered arms deals were approved to 16 countries such as Algeria, Saudia Arabia, Kuwait, United Arab Emirates, Oman and Qatar, who also were cleared “to buy cachés of American-made weapons” even as the department singled them out for a range of human-rights violations.

As in all things Clinton — how much money was donated to their foundation? Who knows? Maybe $54 million, maybe $141 million. What’s a hundred million bucks between friends – and Emirates?

No scandal is too far-fetched or too far for the long octopus tentacles of the Clintons. Their charity even received (again, who knows exactly how the hell much) between $50,000 and $100,000 from soccer’s corrupt governing body, FIFA! Bill was once honorary chairman of the bid committee to get the U.S. to host either the 2018 or 2022 World Cup. Sadly, we didn’t get it. Maybe he didn’t either. (A big enough donation, I mean.)

It’s almost impossible to believe that one couple can always be this close to so much corruption in one lifetime. Well, not without serving that lifetime in a federal lockup, that is.

But the Clintons prefer the White House to the big house.

CRYING POVERTY UNHOLY

Quick! Somebody call Pope Francis so he can spread the wealth to the Catholic school teachers who are joining the ranks of the poor even as the Archdiocese of New York spends like the Borgias.

Since 2011, under its Pathways to Excellence campaign, the archdiocese has closed 60 schools. Excellence? Really?

That move saved the archdiocese about $12 million and cost the teachers that much in lost salaries, according to the Federation of Catholic Teachers.

Meanwhile, the archdiocese has been leasing out the shuttered buildings, bringing in approximately $10 million annually, they say.

Austerity is one thing, but the renovations on St. Patrick’s Cathedral are estimated at $175 million! That’s a lot of collection basket donations.

As a famous fella once said, “Now you Pharisees clean the outside of the cup and of the dish, but inside you are full of greed and wickedness.”

EXPRESS LINES

Cuba Libre: On Friday, President Obama decided to finally take Cuba off the list of state sponsors of terrorism. Today, I am going to Cuba with the Cosmos soccer team.

If Cuba goes back on the bad list on Monday, I swear it’s not because of my dancing … Speed Limits: A multiuniversity study sponsored by the National Institute of Drug Abuse shows that potheads did more poorly on processing speed, among other tasks, than did nonusers.

You’re kidding. The thing is that a study done just a year ago at the University of Minnesota found that stoners had relatively better processing speed than nonindulgers. Processing speed? Like in a meth lab?

… Wacky Pataki: On Thursday, former Gov. George Pataki announced that he’s running for President. When “running for President” is put into Google Translate, it is interpreted as: “I want a cabinet position.”

Mariah Carey whined that “American Idol” was not just the worst experience of her life, but that it’s boring and fake.

DIVA DOWN UNDER

Mariah Carey appeared on Australian TV to dump on “American Idol,” which dumped her. Carey (above) says the show was not just the worst experience of her life (not to mention ours), but that it’s “boring and fake.”

While there to promote her album “#1 to Infinity,” Carey proved herself to be such an expert on fakes that she could work for Christies. That album cover, for example, has a photo of Mariah (would you call such an airbrushed extravaganza a photo?) that is so fake that Mariah has magically turned into Sofia Vergara — only better. If Kim Kardashian’s Photoshopped butt broke the Internet, Carey’s Photoshopped face broke Photoshop.

OH BABY, WHAT A MESS!

A woman was asked to leave a TEDWomen Conference on female empowerment because she brought her baby despite the no-kids policy. That alone was enough of an insult to drive the Internet and organizers insane. They vowed to right that horrible wrong immediately. First off, grownups read the rules before signing up for events, and secondly, grownup events are for grown-ups. God invented fathers, grandparents, friends and baby-sitters for a reason — to watch your kid so you can go enjoy grownup events.

Former House Speaker Dennis Hastert (r.) is accused of paying hush money to blackmailer to keep allegations of sexual abuse under wraps.

PINNED TO THE MAT

Trusting former House Speaker Dennis Hastert to teach your kids to wrestle turned out to be as dumb an idea as asking Charles Manson to teach kids to play guitar.

Hastert looks like every pervy child predator priest and pastor with his creepy, pasty skin, wavy white hair and benevolent grin. He’s like a walking pervy DNA warning sign.

Hastert’s former colleagues are giving him the benefit of the doubt despite his giant payoffs of hush money. The guy made 15 withdrawals of $50,0000 each after he stepped down. That’s a lot of cheddar, even for a Clinton. But then again, he became a D.C. lobbyist. For those guys that’s not even small Gorgonzola.

 

Russia has right to place nuclear arms on its soil, including Crimea

Islander E anti-aircraft missile complex

Russia has the right to house nuclear weapons on its territory, if it deems this move to be necessary, while this also includes the option of stationing them in Crimea, a statement from the Foreign Ministry read.

“Russia obviously retains the right, if needed, to deploy its nuclear weapons anywhere on its national territory, including on the Crimean Peninsula,” the Director of the Department for Non-Proliferation and Arms control at the Russian Foreign Ministry, Mikhail Ulyanov told the RIA Novosti news agency on Monday.

Ulyanov’s statement comes in response to the Ukrainian Foreign Minister Pavlo Klimkin saying in May that the deployment of Russian arms in Crimea would violate the Non-Proliferation Treaty.

“Any activity or even signals from Russia that they are even considering deploying nuclear weapons in Crimea will be considered a grave breach of the international code of conduct. If this happens, the international community will need to act decisively,” Klimkin said.

Mikhail Ulyanov added that the US missile defense plans remain a major challenge in relations between Moscow and Washington, while also mentioning that discussions between the two countries concerning nuclear disarmament are not looking positive.

“Of all the factors which are negatively affecting strategic stability, the most significant is the creation of the [US] National Missile Defense program,” he said, adding that the system was being developed step by step.

“Our position on this matter [US missile defense] has been voiced repeatedly. We need reliable guarantees of what we are told verbally at every corner – that this system is not directed against Russia’s nuclear deterrent. But so far we are told that such guarantees can not be written down on paper and that the system will be created with or without Russia’s backing,” Ulyanov added.

 

‘2,300 Humvees in Mosul alone’: Iraq reveals number of US arms falling into ISIS hands

Iraq has admitted that ISIS jihadists captured huge caches of US-made weapons, including thousands of Humvees seized from Iraqi forces retreating from Mosul last year. The spoils of war have since then been used by ISIS to gain ground in Iraq and Syria.

“In the collapse of Mosul, we lost a lot of weapons,” Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said in an interview with Iraqiya state TV. “We lost 2,300 Humvees in Mosul alone.”

Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) captured Iraq’s second city of Mosul in June 2014, as government forces retreated from the country’s Sunni stronghold.

The number of potential heavy and light weapons abandoned by Iraq’s army remains unknown but over the past decade the US sold thousands of the armed vehicles to the Iraqis, in addition to tanks and other military hardware.

Just this month the Pentagon estimated that at least half a half dozen tanks were abandoned when Baghdad forces lost Ramadi, in addition to artillery pieces, and some 100 Humvees.

Meanwhile the US approved new arms deliveries to the Iraqis last December to replenish the stock ransacked by IS. One contract allows the sale of 175 heavy M1A1 Abarams worth $12.4 billion, while another approves the delivery of 1,000 Humvees, equipped with M2.50 caliber machine guns and MK-19 40mm grenade launchers.

They are exactly the types of weapons IS used to gain vast amount of territory both in Iraq and northern Syria. In fact, the first use of US-Humvees on Syrian territory was reported last year shortly after Mosul has fallen to jihadists.

In mid-May IS gained control of the capital of Anbar province where Iraqi forces had held out against militants for more than a year. They also secured control of Palmyra in Syria, carrying out many executions.

US intelligence points to growing IS strength

Meanwhile on Sunday CIA Director John Brennan acknowledged that IS gains in both Iraq and Syria did not really come as a surprise to the intelligence community.

“I went back over the intelligence of last week, taking a look at what we knew and when we knew it about ISIS and its movements inside of Iraq and Syria,” Brennan said in an interview on CBS’ Face the Nation. “We saw a growing strength.”

He attributed ISIS success to “a lot of factors” on the ground that came into play, in particular the lack of leadership in some Iraqi units and logistic support needed to fight extremists.

While the Iraqi troop’s failures could have looked as a “lack of a will to fight,” Brannan says in fact “there has been a fair amount of intelligence about the growing capabilities of ISIS as well as the challenges that beset the Iraqi government.”