(GUARDIAN) A would-be “underwear bomber” involved in a plot to attack a US-based jet was in fact working as an undercover informer with Saudi intelligence and the CIA, it has emerged.
The revelation is the latest twist in an increasingly bizarre story about the disruption of an apparent attempt by al-Qaida to strike at a high-profile American target using a sophisticated device hidden in the clothing of an attacker.
The plot, which the White House said on Monday had involved the seizing of an underwear bomb by authorities in the Middle East sometime in the last 10 days, had caused alarm throughout the US.
It has also been linked to a suspected US drone strike in Yemen where two Yemeni members of al-Qaida were killed by a missile attack on their car on Sunday, one of them a senior militant, Fahd Mohammed Ahmed al-Quso.
But the news that the individual at the heart of the bomb plot was in fact an informer for US intelligence is likely to raise just as many questions as it answers.
Citing US and Yemeni officials, Associated Press reported that the unnamed informant was working under cover for the Saudis and the CIA when he was given the bomb, which was of a new non-metallic type aimed at getting past airport security.
The informant then turned the device over to his handlers and has left Yemen, the officials told the news agency. The LA Times, which first broke the news that the plot had been a “sting operation”, said that the bomb plan had also provided the intelligence leads that allowed the strike on Quso.
Earlier John Brennan, Barack Obama’s top counter-terrorism adviser and a former CIA official, told ABC’s Good Morning America that authorities are “confident that neither the device nor the intended user of this device pose a threat to us”.
US officials have said the plot was detected in its early stages and that no American airliner was ever at risk.
The FBI is conducting forensic tests on the bomb as a first step towards discovering whether it would have cleared existing airport scanning systems. Dianne Feinstein, the Democratic senator for California who heads the Senate intelligence committee, gave an early hint when she said that she had been briefed about the device which she called “undetectable”.
But AP quoted an unnamed US official as saying current detection methods probably would have spotted the shape of the explosive in the latest device.
Just how major an escalation in threat is posed by the bomb remains unclear. Security sources have told news agencies that it was a step up in levels of sophistication from the original underwear bomb that was used in a failed attempt to blow up an airliner over Detroit on Christmas Day in 2009.
The device used a more refined detonation system, and Brennan said “it was a threat from a standpoint of the design”.
When it comes to who made the device the focus is on an al-Qaida’s offshoot, Al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP). Matthew Levitt, a counter-terrorism expert at the Washington Institute, said that the interception of the plot amounted to a significant achievement for US security agencies.
He said: “The FBI is holding the device, which suggests that this was done by having boots on the ground. This was a sophisticated operation that shows we are making in-roads in serious places.”
Levitt, who was involved as a senior analyst in the FBI’s investigation into 9/11, said that it was natural to be skeptical in a presidential election year about security announcements. “But this was not political, it didn’t come from the White House and my sense was that it was a really unique success,” he said.
Levitt said that the spotlight would now be even more intense on Ibrahim Hassan al-Asiri, AQAP’s assumed bomb-making chief, who is thought to be hiding out in Yemen.
Asiri is believed to have been the creator of the Detroit underwear bomb as well as explosives that were packed into printer cartridges bound for Chicago in 2010.
(ACTIVIST POST) An Arizona federal court this afternoon will be the battleground over the government’s use of a “Stingray” surveillance device in a closely watched criminal case, United States v. Rigmaiden. And in an important development, new documents revealed after an ACLU of Northern California Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request should leave the government with some explaining to do.
“Stingray” is the brand name of an International Mobile Subscriber Identity locator, or “IMSI catcher.” A Stingray acts as a fake cell-phone tower, small enough to fit in a van, allowing the government to route all network traffic to the fake tower. We’ve warned that Stingrays are dangerous because they have the capability to obtain the contents of electronic and wire communications while necessarily sucking down data on scores of innocent people along the way.
The Fourth Amendment requires searches be “reasonable,” generally meaning they must be accompanied by a warrant. To get a warrant, the government must show there is probable cause to believe the place they want to search will have evidence of a crime. And it means the judge must issue ensure the warrant is “particular,” or limited to only allow searches into areas where the evidence is most likely to be found. The only way a judge can make these tough decisions is with the government being forthright about what it’s doing.
But when it comes to Stingrays the government has been extremely secretive about its use, withholding documents in FOIA requests, failing to explain or even understand the technology to a Texas federal judge, and in Rigmaiden, misleading the court about the fact it’s even using one at all.
Daniel David Rigmaiden is charged with a variety of tax and wire fraud crimes. Hoping to pinpoint Rigmaiden’s precise location within an apartment complex, federal agents applied for an order requesting the court to order Verizon to help the agents pinpoint the physical location of a wireless broadband access card and cell phone they believed Rigmaiden was using. The order is clearly directed towards Verizon:
The Court therefore ORDERS, pursuant to Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 41(b); Title 18, United States Code, Sections 2703 and 3117; and Title 28, United States Code, Section 1651, that Verizon Wireless, within ten (10) days of the signing of this Order and for a period not to exceed 30 days, unless extended by the Court, shall provide to agents of the FBI data and information obtained from the monitoring of transmissions related to the location of the Target Broadband Access Card/Cellular Telephone…
Ultimately, it turns out the government did not just get Verizon to give it the data. It also used a Stingray device to find Rigmaiden, sucking up loads of other data from other electronic devices in the complex as well, which it deleted.
When Rigmaiden filed a motion to suppress the Stingray evidence as a warrantless search in violation of the Fourth Amendment, the government responded that this order was a search warrant that authorized the government to use the Stingray.
Together with the ACLU of Northern California and the ACLU, we filed an amicus brief in support of Rigmaiden, noting that this “order” wasn’t a search warrant because it was directed towards Verizon, made no mention of an IMSI catcher or Stingray and didn’t authorize the government—rather than Verizon—to do anything.
Plus to the extent it captured loads of information from other people not suspected of criminal activity it was a “general warrant,” the precise evil the Fourth Amendment was designed to prevent.
The FOIA documents bolster our argument that this isn’t a warrant. The documents are a series of internal emails from DOJ attorneys in the United States Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of California, the district where the order in Rigmaiden’s case was issued. The emails make clear that U.S. Attorneys in the Northern California were using Stingrays but not informing magistrates of what exactly they were doing. And once the judges got wind of what was actually going on, they were none too pleased:
As some of you may be aware, our office has been working closely with the magistrate judges in an effort to address their collective concerns regarding whether a pen register is sufficient to authorize the use of law enforcement’s WIT technology (a box that simulates a cell tower and can be placed inside a van to help pinpoint an individual’s location with some specificity) to locate an individual. It has recently come to my attention that many agents are still using WIT technology in the field although the pen register application does not make that explicit.
While we continue work on a long term fix for this problem, it is important that we are consistent and forthright in our pen register requests to the magistrates….
These emails, combined with the text of the disputed order itself, suggest agents obtained authorization to use a pen register without indicating they also planned to use a Stingray. Either at the time of the application or after the fact, the government attempted to transform that order into a warrant that authorized the use of a Stingray.
Judicial supervision of searches is most needed when the government uses new technologies to embark into new and unknown privacy intrusions. But when the government hides what it’s really doing, it removes this important check on government power. We hope the court sees its been duped, and makes clear to the government that honesty and a warrant are requirements to using a Stingray.
(HUFFINGTON POST) The federal prosecution of five former employees of the private security firm Blackwater has crumbled after the defendants said they were acting at the behest of the CIA by providing five guns as gifts to King Abdullah II of Jordan.
Federal prosecutors indicted former Blackwater president Gary Jackson and four others in 2010 on a long list of felony firearms violations involving dozens of weapons, including 17 M-4 military assault rifles and 17 Romanian-made AK-47s.
All charges against three of the accused were dismissed Thursday at the request of prosecutors after a federal judge ruled earlier this month to reduce several of the felony charges to misdemeanors.
Under a plea agreement, Jackson and former company vice president William Matthews admitted guilt Thursday on misdemeanor charges related to record keeping violations, resulting in $5,000 fines and four months house arrest. They had originally faced decades in prison on 12 felony charges each.
“At the time the Department of Justice brought this case I don’t think they knew all of the facts,” Kenneth Bell, Jackson’s lawyer, said Friday. “Through three years of discovery and litigation, I think they came to know the facts, and did the right thing once they understood the facts.”
Thomas Walker, a U.S. attorney for eastern North Carolina, stressed that the case did result in guilty pleas.
“Accountability is important even if it was the former president and vice president of Blackwater,” Walker said. “At the end of the day, no one is absolved from properly reporting the movement of firearms and the defendants’ pleas of guilty stand for that proposition.”
(Greg Fernandez Jr) Philip Marshall’s first wife, Ann Kallauner, told the Union Democrat she did not believe Marshall was a “Contra pilot.” She believes her former husband provided a taxi service for Barry Seal; a man who worked in black-ops smuggling drugs and guns in and out of the country for the CIA and DEA. So how much did Kallauner really know about her ex-husband? In the same interview she admits that Marshall was not always honest about his travels with Barry Seal. “He’d be in one city, tell me he was in another,” she told the Union Democrat. Philip and Ann Marshall were married for about three years starting in 1985. Kallauner, who lives in Louisiana, was also surprised at the allegation, “I don’t see him doing that without being in an altered state.”
Philip Marshall began flying at age 15. The young pilot’s first flight instructor was his father. On 9/11, after the second plane struck the World Trade Center, Marshall’s father called him from New Orleans, the city where Philip was raised. From his Santa Barbara home in Northern California Marshall picked up the phone, “Phil, thank God you’re home.” Marshall’s father added, “There’s more planes missing.” In Richard Clarke’s gate-keeping book, Against All Enemies, Clarke wrote that on 9/11 there were more than a dozen planes missing that day.
READ THE FULL ARTICLE HERE
(FEDERALJACK) A brief history of Iran and America’s relations and the facts that have led to this political gridlock. This is something that as an American you MUST WATCH!
Down The Rabbit Hole w/ Popeye (02-22-2013) Natalie Marie Hart of Crystal Light Kids Radio, ELEVEN DOLLARS & Death Surrounds The Clinton’s
(FEDERALJACK) On this edition of DTRH Popeye welcomes to the broadcast Natalie Marie Hart of Crystal Light Kids Radio. She is a 12 year old whiz kid who runs her own radio show, does her own video editing, producing and guest booking. As you will hear she steals the first hour of the show. In hour number two Popeye reads an open letter from the mother of a young man named Landon who was killed by three off duty police officers acting as private security guards over an $11.00 movie ticket. Finishing off the broadcast, Popeye reads a list of people surrounding the Clinton’s who have died and the circumstances of their deaths, the list is quite long.
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(FEDERALJACK) Popeye breaks down the origin of the labels “Conspiracy Theorist” and “Conspiracy Theory,” how they are used against us, and how they are misused by the masses today.
(SLATE) When a former senior White House official describes a nationwide surveillance effort as “breathtaking,” you know civil liberties activists are preparing for a fight.
The Wall Street Journal reported today that the little-known National Counter-terrorism Center, based in an unmarked building in McLean, Va., has been granted sweeping new authority to store and monitor massive data-sets about innocent Americans.
After internal wrangling over privacy and civil liberties issues, the Justice Department reportedly signed off on controversial new guidelines earlier this year. The guidelines allow the NCTC, for the first time, to keep data about innocent U.S. citizens for up to five years, using “predictive pattern-matching,” to analyze it for suspicious patterns of behavior. The data the counter-terrorism center has access to, according to the Journal, includes “entire government databases—flight records, casino-employee lists, the names of Americans hosting foreign-exchange students and many others.”
Notably, the Journal reports that these changes also allow databases about U.S. civilians to be handed over to foreign governments for analysis, presumably so that they too can attempt to determine future criminal actions. The Department of Homeland Security’s former chief privacy officer said that it represents a “sea change in the way that the government interacts with the general public.”
The snooping effort, which officials say is subject to “rigorous oversight,” is reminiscent of the so-called Total Information Awareness initiative, dreamt up in the aftermath of 9/11 by the Pentagon’s research unit DARPA. The aim of the TIA initiative was essentially to create a kind of ubiquitous pre-crime surveillance regime monitoring public and private databases. It was largely defunded in 2003, after civil liberties concerns. However, other similar efforts have continued, such as through the work of the Department of Homeland Security’s intelligence-gathering “Fusion Centers.” Most recently, Fusion Centers were subjected to scathing criticism from congressional investigators, who found that they were accumulating masses of data about “suspicious” activity that was not of any use. The intelligence being swept up, the investigators found, was “oftentimes shoddy, rarely timely, sometimes endangering citizens’ civil liberties and Privacy Act protections.”
Such sweeping surveillance efforts pose difficulties for the authorities because they can end up drowning in data, attempting to find a needle in a haystack, in the process deeming innocent people suspicious. As the Journal’s Julia Angwin notes, the risk is that “innocent behavior gets misunderstood—say, a man buying chemicals (for a child’s science fair) and a timer (for the sprinkler) sets off false alarms.” The U.S. government clearly feels far-reaching surveillance initiatives are necessary to help detect potential future terror attacks. But ultimately, in a democracy, the decision should surely rest in the hands of the American public. It is a question of balance: How much liberty should be sacrificed in the name of security? The revelations about the NCTC’s activities may be about to rekindle that debate.
(FEDERALJACK) On this edition of DTRH Popeye speaks with Kurt Haskell. Kurt was a witness to the underwear bomber false flag “terror” attack that occurred on December 25th 2009 and resulted in the naked body scanners being rolled out world wide. Kurt’s testimony destroys the government’s official fairy tale of the event and exposes it for the contrived farce that it is. Kurt also ran for Congress in 2012 but was unfortunately beaten out by people with access to a ton of money that any grassroots candidate would not have access to.
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(ABC) The man who ran the flight school that unwittingly trained two of the 9/11 hijackers now sits behind bars, accused of drug smuggling and offering his illicit services to an undercover federal officer.
Rudi Dekkers, a Danish national who used to run the Florida flight school Huffman Aviation, came to the attention of federal authorities in October when he was introduced to an undercover federal officer as an associate of suspected drug smuggling kingpin Arturo Astorquiza, according to Texas court documents. Though Astorquiza was the target of the federal operation, Dekkers allegedly told the undercover officer in their first meeting that he “was involved in narcotics transportation via private aircraft and that he [had] flown narcotics and U.S. currency previously without any problems.”
After Astorquiza was arrested, the documents say Dekkers reached out to the undercover officer and offered his services directly. Federal investigators then began tailing Dekkers and eventually arrested him in early December when it appeared he was about to make a drug run for another customer.
The arrest comes more than a decade after Dekkers found himself in the national spotlight in the days after terrorists hijacked four commercial airplanes and used them to kill nearly 3,000 people on Sept. 11, 2001. Federal investigators quickly identified Dekkers’ school, Huffman Aviation, as the location where two of the hijackers, Mohamed Atta and Marwan al-Shehhi, earned their instrument certificates from the Federal Aviation Administration. Atta and al-Shehhi were the men at the controls of the planes that flew into New York’s World Trade Center buildings.
In an interview with ABC News in 2001, Dekkers said the men were unfriendly, but he didn’t think there was anything suspicious about them.
Because of his fleeting connection to the 9/11 hijackers, the years after the attack proved difficult for Dekkers as he described in his memoir “Guilt by Association.” He reportedly said in the book he received death threats and that people suspected he was somehow complicit in the attack.
In a recent interview with a local Fox News affiliate, Dekkers was asked if he thought he would ever outlive the shadow of 9/11.
“Yeah,” he said. “When I die.”
Dekkers has been charged with intent to distribute five kilos or more of cocaine and 100 grams or more of heroin. A Texas judge ordered he be held without bond, as the court said there was a “serious risk that the defendant will flee.”
Dekkers has not entered a plea in the case and his public defender declined to comment for this report.