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October 31, 2013

UNMANNED: America’s Drone Wars (full film)

see the DM report on the film here

Human Rights Attorneys Working with Germany on Possible Asylum for Snowden in Exchange for Testimony

 October 31, 2013 at 5:04 AM



Kevin Gosztola/FDL:

Human rights attorneys have been discussing the possibility of asylum for former NSA contractor Edward Snowden with left-wing politicians in Germany. The plan being developed involves giving testimony in an official government setting on recent revelations, such as the fact that the United States spied on Chancellor Angela Merkel’s cellphone. In return, he would be given asylum.

Jesselyn Radack, an attorney and national security and human rights director of the Government Accountability Project, confirmed the above details as part of an exclusive for Firedoglake.

No asylum offer has been made. No formal application for asylum has been submitted to the German government. However, it does appear this may be a next step.

Snowden was visited by a German politician, and they discussed whether he might enter the witness protection program or be granted asylum. They determined that pursuing the possibility of asylum would be better than witness protection.


NSA infiltrates links to Yahoo, Google data centers worldwide, Snowden documents say

In this slide from a National Security Agency presentation on “Google Cloud Exploitation,” a sketch shows where the “Public Internet” meets the internal “Google Cloud” where user data resides. Two engineers with close ties to Google exploded in profanity when they saw the drawing.

By Barton Gellman and Ashkan Soltani, Published: October 30 E-mail the writer

The National Security Agency has secretly broken into the main communications links that connect Yahoo and Google data centers around the world, according to documents obtained from former NSA contractor Edward Snowden and interviews with knowledgeable officials.By tapping those links, the agency has positioned itself to collect at will from hundreds of millions of user accounts, many of them belonging to Americans. The NSA does not keep everything it collects, but it keeps a lot.


How the NSA is hacking private networks, such as Google’s

Click Here to View Full Graphic Story

How the NSA is hacking private networks, such as Google’s

More on this story:

How MUSCULAR collects too much data from Yahoo and Google

How MUSCULAR collects too much data from Yahoo and Google

OCT 30

This NSA document describes a common problem of collecting too much information – and how the agency is attempting to control it.

Why the NSA wanted more access

Why the NSA wanted more access

Andrea Peterson OCT 30

The NSA already legally compelled tech companies to give it data via PRISM. So why did it hack into data links?

Full coverage: NSA Secrets

Full coverage: NSA Secrets

Read all of the stories in The Washington Post’s ongoing coverage of the National Security Agency’s surveillance programs.

According to a top-secret accounting dated Jan. 9, 2013, the NSA’s acquisitions directorate sends millions of records every day from internal Yahoo and Google networks to data warehouses at the agency’s headquarters at Fort Meade, Md. In the preceding 30 days, the report said, field collectors had processed and sent back 181,280,466 new records — including  “metadata,” which would indicate who sent or received e-mails and when, as well as content such as text, audio and video.
The NSA’s principal tool to exploit the data links is a project called MUSCULAR, operated jointly with the agency’s British counterpart, the Government Communications Headquarters. From undisclosed interception points, the NSA and the GCHQ are copying entire data flows across fiber-optic cables that carry information among the data centers of the Silicon Valley giants.The infiltration is especially striking because the NSA, under a separate program known as PRISM, has front-door access to Google and Yahoo user accounts through a court-approved process.

The MUSCULAR project appears to be an unusually aggressive use of NSA tradecraft against flagship American companies. The agency is built for high-tech spying, with a wide range of digital tools, but it has not been known to use them routinely against U.S. companies.

In a statement, the NSA said it is “focused on discovering and developing intelligence about valid foreign intelligence targets only.”

“NSA applies Attorney General-approved processes to protect the privacy of U.S. persons — minimizing the likelihood of their information in our targeting, collection, processing, exploitation, retention, and dissemination,” it said.

In a statement, Google’s chief legal officer, David Drummond, said the company has “long been concerned about the possibility of this kind of snooping” and has not provided the government with access to its systems.

“We are outraged at the lengths to which the government seems to have gone to intercept data from our private fiber networks, and it underscores the need for urgent reform,” he said.

A Yahoo spokeswoman said, “We have strict controls in place to protect the security of our data centers, and we have not given access to our data centers to the NSA or to any other government agency.”

Under PRISM, the NSA gathers huge volumes of online communications records by legally compelling U.S. technology companies, including Yahoo and Google, to turn over any data that match court-approved search terms. That program, which was first disclosed by The Washington Post and the Guardian newspaper in Britain, is authorized under Section 702 of the FISA Amendments Act  and overseen by the Foreign ­Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC).

read on here

Starved Syria civilians flee besieged Damascus suburb

          29 October 2013 Last updated at 17:59 GMT

The BBC’s Lyse Doucet was there to witness thousands of Syrians fleeing their home after nine months under siege

Thousands of Syrian civilians have finally been allowed to leave the besieged Damascus suburb of Moadamiya.

The BBC’s Lyse Doucet, who was at the scene, describes a tide of desperate people leaving the area, which has been closed off since March.

Supplies in Moadamiya had been running desperately short, and residents had pleaded to be saved from starvation.

The exodus of civilians has been made possible by an apparent relaxation of a blockade by government forces.

The Syrian army had previously said that rebel-held areas of Damascus such as Moadamiya could surrender or starve.

At least three of Damascus’s suburbs – Yarmouk, Eastern Ghouta and Moadamiya – have been besieged by government forces for several months.

Continue reading the main story

image of Lyse Doucet Analysis Lyse Doucet Chief international correspondent

A tide of people fled Moadamiya today – some on stretchers, some crying, all showing the severe strain of a life under siege.

“We didn’t see a piece of bread for nine months,” one woman told me. “We were eating leaves and grass.”

A little girl in a pink dress showed me her trembling hands. “We are all sick,” she said, as she and her little sister clutched pieces of bread distributed by the Syrian Arab Red Crescent Society.

Some 20 buses were waiting at the entrance to Moadamiya to take residents to a government shelter.

But men, young and old, were kept in a separate queue. They will now be questioned about what side they are on, and what was their involvement in the fight.

The situation has become so desperate that earlier this month Muslim clerics issued a religious ruling allowing people to eat cats, dogs and donkeys just to survive.

Those animals are usually considered unfit for human consumption in Islam.

Eating grassFor months, the UN and other aid agencies have been calling for urgent help, fearing the worst for the people of Moadamiya.

“We didn’t see a piece of bread for nine months,” one woman told the BBC. “We were eating leaves and grass.”

The Minister for Social Affairs, Kinda Al Shamamat, who was overseeing the evacuation, has accused rebel gunmen – whom she describes as terrorists – of infiltrating Moadamiya.

But rebel fighters – who have stayed behind in the suburb – accuse the government of trying to starve them into submission.

Now that most civilians have fled, the battle will intensify, our correspondent says.

People walk from the rebel-held suburb of Moadamiya to government-held territory, helped by aid workers
The people of Moadamiya were running short of food and water
A volunteer from the Syrian Arab Red Crescent helps a weeping man
Moadamiya has been under siege and heavy bombardment since March – with no one able to get in or out
Woman held by Red Crescent workers
Some were too ill to walk, and had to be assisted by Red Crescent workers
Syrian families leave their besieged town
Most of those trapped were women and children
Men wait to be searched by the Syrian military
The men were taken to a separate area, to be searched by the military
Men wait to be searched by the Syrian military
The army wants to check if any of these men were fighting on the rebels’ side

Polio outbreakThe World Health Organization has confirmed 10 cases of polio in Syria – the first outbreak in the country in 14 years.

Save the Children’s Brie O’Keefe: Syria polio is “a deterioration in global progress”

The UN body says a further 12 cases are still being investigated.

Before Syria’s civil war began in 2011, some 95% of children in the country were vaccinated against the disease, but now an estimated 500,000 children have not been immunised.

There has been speculation that foreign groups fighting in Syria may have imported polio into the country.

The disease has been largely eradicated in developed countries but remains endemic in Nigeria, Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Meanwhile Syria’s Deputy Prime Minister, Qadri Jamil, was dismissed on Tuesday for leaving the country and acting without government permission, state media said.

Mr Jamil met US officials in Geneva over the weekend to discuss peace negotiations, according to UN and Middle East officials.

But the state news agency Sana said Mr Jamil had been dismissed by President Bashar al-Assad “because he left his centre of work without prior permission and did not follow up on his duties”.

“Additionally, he undertook activities outside the nation without co-ordinating with the government,” Sana said.


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