Category Archives: South America

CISA Is Now The Law: How Congress Quietly Passed The Second Patriot Act

Update: CISA is now the law: OBAMA SIGNS SPENDING, TAX BILL THAT REPEALS OIL EXPORT BAN

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Back in 2014, civil liberties and privacy advocates were up in arms when the government tried to quietly push through the Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act, or CISA, a law which would allow federal agencies – including the NSA – to share cybersecurity, and really any information with private corporations “notwithstanding any other provision of law.” The most vocal complaint involved CISA’s information-sharing channel, which was ostensibly created for responding quickly to hacks and breaches, and which provided a loophole in privacy laws that enabled intelligence and law enforcement surveillance without a warrant.

Ironically, in its earlier version, CISA had drawn the opposition of tech firms including Apple, Twitter, Reddit, as well as the Business Software Alliance, the Computer and Communications Industry Association and many others including countless politicians and, most amusingly, the White House itself.

In April, a coalition of 55 civil liberties groups and security experts signed onto an open letter opposing it. In July, the Department of Homeland Security itself warned that the bill could overwhelm the agency with data of “dubious value” at the same time as it “sweep[s] away privacy protections.” Most notably, the biggest aggregator of online private content, Facebook, vehemently opposed the legislation however a month ago it was “surprisingly” revealed that Zuckerberg had been quietly on the side of the NSA all along as we reported in “Facebook Caught Secretly Lobbying For Privacy-Destroying “Cyber-Security” Bill.” 

Even Snowden chimed in:

Following the blitz response, the push to pass CISA was tabled following a White House threat to veto similar legislation. Then, quietly, CISA reemerged after the same White House mysteriously flip-flopped, expressed its support for precisely the same bill in August.

And then the masks fell off, when it became obvious that not only are corporations eager to pass CISA despite their previous outcry, but that they have both the White House and Congress in their pocket.

As Wired reminds us, when the Senate passed the Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act by a vote of 74 to 21 in October, privacy advocates were again “aghast” that the key portions of the law were left intact which they said make it more amenable to surveillance than actual security, claiming that Congress has quietly stripped out “even more of its remaining privacy protections.”

“They took a bad bill, and they made it worse,” says Robyn Greene, policy counsel for the Open Technology Institute.

But while Congress was preparing a second assault on privacy, it needed a Trojan Horse with which to enact the proposed legislation into law without the public having the ability to reject it.

It found just that by attaching it to the Omnibus $1.1 trillion Spending Bill, which passed the House early this morning, passed the Senate moments ago and will be signed into law by the president in the coming hours.

This is how it happened, again courtesy of Wired:

In a late-night session of Congress, House Speaker Paul Ryan announced a new version of the “omnibus” bill, a massive piece of legislation that deals with much of the federal government’s funding. It now includes a version of CISA as well. Lumping CISA in with the omnibus bill further reduces any chance for debate over its surveillance-friendly provisions, or a White House veto. And the latest version actually chips away even further at the remaining personal information protections that privacy advocates had fought for in the version of the bill that passed the Senate.

It gets: it appears that while CISA was on hiatus, US lawmakers – working under the direction of corporations adnt the NSA – were seeking to weaponize the revised legislation, and as Wired says, the latest version of the bill appended to the omnibus legislation seems to exacerbate the problem of personal information protections.

It creates the ability for the president to set up “portals” for agencies like the FBI and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, so that companies hand information directly to law enforcement and intelligence agencies instead of to the Department of Homeland Security. And it also changes when information shared for cybersecurity reasons can be used for law enforcement investigations. The earlier bill had only allowed that backchannel use of the data for law enforcement in cases of “imminent threats,” while the new bill requires just a “specific threat,” potentially allowing the search of the data for any specific terms regardless of timeliness.

Some, like Senator Ron Wyden, spoke out out against the changes to the bill in a press statement, writing they’d worsened a bill he already opposed as a surveillance bill in the guise of cybersecurity protections.

Senator Richard Burr, who had introduced the earlier version of bill, didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

“Americans deserve policies that protect both their security and their liberty,” he wrote. “This bill fails on both counts.”

Why was the CISA included in the omnibus package, which just passed both the House and the Senate? Because any “nay” votes  – or an Obama – would also threaten the entire budget of the federal government. In other words, it was a question of either Americans keeping their privacy or halting the funding of the US government, in effect bankrupting the nation.

And best of all, the rushed bill means there will be no debate.

The bottom line as OTI’s Robyn Green said, “They’ve got this bill that’s kicked around for years and had been too controversial to pass, so they’ve seen an opportunity to push it through without debate. And they’re taking that opportunity.

The punchline: “They’re kind of pulling a Patriot Act.”

And when Obama signs the $1.1 trillion Spending Bill in a few hours, as he will, it will be official: the second Patriot Act will be the law, and with it what little online privacy US citizens may enjoy, will be gone.

 

 

Source : Zero Hedge.

Activist Post: Disloyal to the United States? Wesley Clark Wants to Detain You For Duration of War on Terror

Former US General Wesley Clark went on MSNBC to promote detaining domestic ‘radicals’ or people ‘disloyal to the United States’ in internment camps for the duration of the war on terror.

The host asked Clark “How do we fix self-radicalized lone wolves, domestically?”

First, Clark cites people who lose a job or break up with a girlfriend as being especially dangerous. Next he tells us what he’d do to those who’re disloyal to the U.S. during the war on terror.

“In World War II, if someone supported Nazi Germany at the expense of the United States, we didn’t say that was freedom of speech. We put them in a camp,” Clark continued, “They were prisoners of war.””If these people are radicalized, and they don’t support the United States, and they’re disloyal to the United States, as a matter of principle, fine, that’s their right, but it’s our (the government’s) right and our obligation to segregate them from the normal community for the duration of the conflict. And I think we’re going to have to get increasingly get tough on this.”

 

Source : Activist Post

Venezuela imposes mandatory visas for all US citizens, bans for Bush & Cheney

Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro (Reuters/Andrea De Silva)

 

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro announced a new mandatory visa requirement for all Americans visiting the country. The leader also called to review and downsize the number of US embassy staff in Caracas.

 

“In order to protect our country…I have decided to implement a system of compulsory visas for all Americans entering Venezuela,” Maduro said in a speech on Saturday.

This is a reciprocal measure and now all Americans will have to pay tourist visa fees equal to what “a Venezuelan pays to travel to the US.”

When announcing the new regulations for US tourists, Maduro said that Venezuela apprehended American citizens who were involved in “espionage activities.”

“We have captured some US citizens in undercover activities, espionage, trying to win over people in towns along the Venezuelan coast,” he said.

A group of four missionaries had been called in for questioning after participating in a medical assistance campaign in the coastal town of Ocumare de la Costa, the head of a Venezuelan evangelical organization said on Friday.

The four had reportedly left the country for Aruba after having been questioned.

Maduro also said that Venezuela captured a US pilot of Latin American descent in the western state of Tachira, who he claims was also conducting “covert” espionage activities.

At the same time, Maduro asked to review and reduce the number of US diplomatic staff in the country, after allegations of “conspiratorial meetings” against Venezuela.

“I’ve thought about it…First I have ordered the Foreign Ministry…to proceed immediately, to review…[and] limit the number of officials at the [US] embassy in Venezuela,” Maduro said. “They have 100 staff, we have 17.”

He added that former US President George W. Bush, former Vice President Dick Cheney, and Republican Congress members Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Robert Menendez, and Marco Rubio will be denied visas into the country, labeling Bush and Cheney as “terrorists.”

The travel bans, Maduro said, target those who “violated human rights and bombed villages as in Iraq, Syria and Vietnam.”

From now on, US diplomats will be required to seek approval from the Foreign Ministry for meetings they conduct in Venezuela.

The new law is designed to help “control” US interference, the president stressed.

Tense relations between Venezuela and the US reached a new level of intensity earlier in February, when Maduro accused America of being behind the attempted coup in Venezuela.

“The northern imperial power has entered a dangerous phase of desperation, going to talk to the continent’s governments to announce the overthrow of my government. And I accuse Vice President Joe Biden of this,” Maduro said.

The allegations were made amid widespread protests in the country in the first half of 2014, triggered by high levels of inflation, mass power cuts, and a lack of basic goods. Demonstrators demanded Maduro’s resignation amid an economic crisis that was hitting the food sector the most.

Later in February, Venezuela’s leader announced that the country successfully defeated an alleged US-sponsored coup, adding that a plot involved an attack on the presidential palace or another top target, Maduro said.

Prior to that, Maduro claimed at the end of 2014 that there were “recordings” disclosing the US plan to bribe and corrupt Venezuelan authorities.

Washington and Caracas have been at odds with each other since Venezuela’s iconic former leader Hugo Chavez came to power in 2000. Previously, the US had been accused of trying to undermine the Venezuelan government in 2002, when a coup saw Chavez ousted from office for 47 hours before order was restored.

 

Source : RT News.

Venezuelan Opposition Mayor Arrested In Blue Coup Plot | PopularResistance.Org

Venezuelan opposition Mayor and longtime rightwing politician, Antonio Ledezma, has been arrested by the country’s intelligence services, SEBIN, for his alleged role in plotting to stage a coup against the democratically elected government of Nicolas Maduro.

The planned coup was uncovered last week by security forces, just hours before several US backed Air Force officials had planned to partake in a bombing spree of strategic targets in the capital. They had hoped this would lead to the assassination of the country’s president and bring about regime change in the South American country.

“Antonio Ledezma who, today, by order of the Public Prosecutor’s Office, was captured and is going to be prosecuted by the Venezuelan justice system, to make him answer to all of the crimes committed against the peace and security of the country and the Constitution… We’ve had enough of conspiracies, we want to work in peace!” announced Venezuelan President, Nicolas Maduro, amidst a chorus of cheers from onlookers.

Last week, Ledezma, who is current Mayor of the Metropolitan Capital District of Caracas, signed a statement calling for a “National Transition Agreement” alongside opposition politicians, Maria Corina Machado and currently detained leader of the Popular Will party, Leopoldo Lopez.

The document calls on Venezuelans to unite behind a plan to remove elected President Nicolas Maduro and sets out an action programme for the would be provisional government. This includes facilitating the return of “exiled” Venezuelans, prosecuting current members of government and reaching out to international financial lending agencies such as the International Monetary Fund.

Circulated on February 11th, the statement was disclosed just a day before the attempted coup was set to unfold and was reportedly the signal to set the plan in motion.

“It has no base in any juridic text, it is a putschist act of conspiracy that is unfortunately to the liking of thousands of opposition militants who have been indoctrinated to attack democracy,” Constitutional Lawyer, Jesus Silva, told Venezuelanalysis.

Ledezma’s detention comes in the wake of several other arrests, including those of a number of airforce officials implicated in the plan.

According to revelations made by the President of the National Assembly, Diosadado Cabello, on Wednesday night, Ledezma has since been named by one of the arrested officials under questioning.

The confession links Ledezma to a plan to “eliminate” opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez last year in order to create “chaos” and destabilise the government. Fellow opposition politician and National Assembly legislator, Julio Borges, is also implicated in the assassination plan, which forced an intervention by the government in early 2014. At the time, Lopez’s wife, Lilian Tintori, stated that the government had acted to protect her husband’s safety.

Unlike, Ledezma, Borges cannot be prosecuted as National Assembly legislators are protected by political immunity.

The “Blue” Coup 

Although details surrounding Ledezma’s exact role in the recently discovered “Blue” coup plot are still unclear, it appears that the opposition politician is implicated beyond his call for a transitional government.

Following the announcement of the coup plot last Thursday, the Maduro administration suggested that further arrests were to be made once there was sufficient evidence to prosecute the political ringleaders of the plan.

“In these intelligence investigations, we have discovered a codified message, in another language,  by an important leader of a party. On translating it, we found that it gave the details, the elements of the coup. We are about to capture the person who brought the script that they were going to read, the script they were going to read out was already written, and circulated by a person who I will name at the correct moment”, said Maduro, referencing a preplanned statement which was to be read out to the public following the aerial bombardment, announcing a “rebellion” of the armed forces against the government.

Arrest and possible prosecution

Although international press has widely reported that the Mayor was manhandled when SEBIN officers entered his office, a video of the detention has emerged appearing to show a reticent but unharmed Ledezma being escorted from his office by several armed guards. Photos published of glass on the floor in Ledezma’s office by news agency, Ultimas Noticias, appear to show that SEBIN forcibly entered the building.

He has since been transferred to the SEBIN’s head office in Plaza Venezuela, Caracas, where a few hundred of his supporters gathered outside in protest in the early evening. They were joined by former presidential candidate and current Governor of Miranda State, Henrique Capriles Radonski. Streets were clear by around 10pm.

It is expected that the opposition politician will now await a hearing before a judge to decide whether there is sufficient evident to proceed with the case against him.

“Ledezma is Mayor and for that reason he does not bear the Constitutional right to impunity as legislators, governors and the heads of national public powers do. Legally speaking, he should be presented before a judge, along with a public prosecutor and his defence lawyer within the next 48 hours,” Silva informed us.

It is not the first time that Ledezma has been implicated in a plan to violently overthrow the government. In 2002, he participated in an attempted coup which saw socialist president of the time, Hugo Chavez, ousted for a period of 47 hours. Last year, he was also named several times as a “principal ally” by currently detained terror plotter, Lorent Saleh. Saleh was one of the main underground activists fuelling the armed barricades known as guarimbas which last year claimed the lives of at least 43 Venezuelans. He had planned to go on a killing spree with the help of Colombian paramilitaries but was arrested before the plan could take place.

Political trajectory  

Popularly known as “the vampire”, Ledezma began his political career in 1973 as a member of the “Democratic Action” Party. In 1989, he infamously became Governor of the Federal District of Caracas, when he oversaw one of the most violent periods in the history of the Caracas Metropolitan Police.

The police body, which was since disbanded in 2010 due to its human rights violations, regularly opened fire on unarmed student protests, systematically repressed street vendors, pensioners and the unemployed, as well as regularly disappeared political activists.

During this period he also oversaw the “Caracazo,” when up to 3000 people were killed and disappeared by security forces in the wake of violent protests against a government imposed austerity programme.

This particular period of Ledezma’s career earnt him the reputation of “student killer” amongst working class Venezuelans. He is founder and current leader of the rightwing party known as the “Brave People’s Alliance”.

 

Source : PopularResistance.Org.