The think tank New America issued a report today documenting “the lethal terrorist incidents in the United States since 9/11.” It found that a total of 26 Americans have been killed by “deadly jihadist attacks” in the last 14 years, while almost double that number – 48 – have been killed by “deadly right wing attacks.” The significance of that finding was well-captured by the New York Times‘ online home page caption today, promoting the paper’s article that included this quote from Terrorism Professor John Horgan: “There’s an acceptance now of the idea that the threat from jihadi terrorism in the United States has been overblown.”
That the U.S. Government, media and various anti-Muslim polemicists relentlessly, aggressively exaggerate “the terror threat” generally and the menace of Muslims specifically requires no studies to see. It’s confirmed by people’s every day experiences. On the list of threats that Americans wake up and worry about every morning, is there anyone beyond hypnotic Sean Hannity viewers for whom “terrorism by radical Islam” is high on the list?
To believe the prevailing U.S. government/media narrative is to believe that radical Islam poses some sort of grave threat to the safety of American families. The fear-mongering works not because it resonates in people’s daily experiences and observations: it plainly does not. It works because it’s grounded in tribalistic appeals (our tribe is better than that one over there) and the Otherizing of the marginalized (those people over there are not just different but inferior): historically very potent tactics of manipulation and propaganda. Add to that all the pragmatic benefits from maintaining this Scary Muslim mythology – the power, profit and policy advancement it enables for numerous factions – and it’s not hard to see why it’s been so easily sustained despite being so patently false.
It’s literally hard to overstate how trivial the risk of “radical Islam” is to the average American. So consider this:
If anything, the chart severely understates how exaggerated the threat is, since it compares the total number of deaths caused by “Muslim extremists” over the past 14 years to the number of deaths caused daily or annually by threats widely regarded as insignificant. This is the “threat” in whose name the U.S. and its western allies have radically reduced basic legal protections; created all sorts of dangerous precedents for invasions, detentions, and targeted killings; and generally driven themselves to a state of collective hysteria and manipulation.
Photo: CNN screen capture
The post The Greatest Obstacle to Anti-Muslim Fear-Mongering and Bigotry: Reality appeared first on The Intercept.
At his formal sentencing hearing on Wednesday, convicted Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev gave his first and only public statement since the start of his trial.
Tsarnaev began his remarks at the John J. Moakley Courthouse in Boston by thanking his lawyers and the jury for the time they had spent on his case. He noted that it was the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, “the month of mercy … the month of forgiveness,” before expressing remorse for the bombings in a short, emotional statement.
“I would like to now apologize to the victims and to the survivors,” Tsarnaev said, his voice audibly choking with emotion. “Immediately after the bombing that I am guilty of … I learned of some of the victims, their names, their faces, their ages. I was listening as all these people testified,” he said.
“I am sorry for the lives I have taken, for the suffering that I have caused you, for the damage I have done, irreparable damage.”
Tsarnaev ended his statement by telling the court that he was a Muslim and that he prayed to God for mercy for his and his brother’s actions, as well as to heal the pain of his victims. “I pray to Allah to bestow his mercy on you. … I pray for your relief, for your healing, for your well-being, for your health.”
His remarks came in marked contrast to those made by his family members during the course of the trial, particularly his mother, which helped inflame public opinion around the case and sparked debate about whether Tsarnaev, who did not testify at trial, felt remorse for the bombing.
Tsarnaev’s statement came at the close of a day filled with emotional statements from those who were injured or lost loved ones in the 2013 bombing. Bill Richards, the father of 8-year-old Martin Richards, who was killed in the bombing, gave a brief statement earlier in the day that Tsarnaev “could have stopped his brother,” but that “he chose hate, he chose destruction, he chose death.”
Richards, who along with his wife wrote an op-ed in the Boston Globe in April opposing the death penalty for Tsarnaev, reiterated his opposition to the sentence. “We prefer he have a lifetime to reconcile himself with what he did that day,” Richards said.
In his closing remarks, delivered immediately after Tsarnaev’s statement, U.S. District Judge George O’Toole addressed Tsarnaev directly. “When people remember you, they will remember only the evil you have done,” the judge said. “No one will remember that your teachers were fond of you, that you were funny, a good athlete.”
O’Toole concluded his remarks by saying that Tsarnaev believed in a “cruel God,” which could not be “the God of Islam.” He then asked Tsarnaev to stand, before formally stating: “I sentence you to the penalty of death by execution.”
Photo: AP/Jane Flavell Collins
The post Marathon Bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev: “I Am Sorry for the Lives That I Have Taken” appeared first on The Intercept.
Officials at the Office of Personnel Management claim that their system was breached using credentials that were stolen from KeyPoint Government Solutions, a government contractor that provides background checks.
The hack, which exposed personal information for potentionally tens of millions of Americans, has drawn scrutiny to KeyPoint’s security practices, with one senior lawmaker even calling for OPM to cease use of outside contractors.
But for KeyPoint’s parent company, Veritas Capital, a private equity firm based in New York City, the hack is only the latest incident in a long history of controversial government contracting.
Founded in 1992 by the late investment banker Robert McKeon, Veritas Capital grew quickly by buying up government contractors and forming close ties with former senior government officials. Of the many defense-related investments made by the company, the most famous has been the 2005 purchase of DynCorp International, a scandal-plagued company that played a pivotal role in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Though DynCorp prospered under Veritas ownership, the special inspector general for Iraq reconstruction found that DynCorp benefited from lax oversight and frequently billed the government for work that was never requested. In Afghanistan, Wikileaks cables revealed that DynCorp workers paid for young “dancing boys” to entertain policemen. In 2010, Veritas sold its stake in DynCorp.
Other Veritas-backed firms have faced scrutiny for billing practices. In 2008, Veritas and another investment fund purchased Global Tel-Link, a telecommunications company that provides telephone services for prison systems. Under Veritas control, Global Tel-Link charged as much as $5 for a ten-minute call to inmates, a charge criticized as “basically a surtax on inmates and their families.”
The firm also acquired MZM Inc., an intelligence contractor, after the firm’s founder was investigated for providing bribes to Rep. Duke Cunningham, R-Calif., in exchange for help obtaining Pentagon contracts. MZM under Veritas was renamed Athena Innovative Solutions, and as Bloomberg reported, the Pentagon later approved Athena’s takeover of all of MZM’s contracts.
Throughout its history, Veritas has fostered close ties to government officials. Campaign finance records show executives at the investment firm have given over $100,000 to various politicians, mostly Republicans. In 2014, Veritas paid Bill Clinton $250,000 for a speech.
Veritas used its cash to develop close ties to military and foreign policy officials. In September of 2001, the firm brought on a paid advisory board of military officials, including retired generals Anthony Zinni, Barry McCaffrey, and Richard Hawley. Former deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage also served as a Veritas advisory board member. In addition, the company is a sponsor of the Potomac Officers Club, a professional group for business executives and military leaders.
The New York Times reported that McCaffrey earned at least $500,000 from Veritas as the former general used his ties to the Pentagon and frequent appearances in the media to boost Veritas-owned military contractors, including DynCorp.
For KeyPoint, Veritas again leveraged its relationship with a former official. Shortly after KeyPoint became a Veritas portfolio company in 2009, Veritas brought on former Secretary of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff to serve on its board of directors. “I look forward to working with Jeff, and the KeyPoint and Veritas teams on broadening the critical services KeyPoint provides to the government,” Chertoff said in a statement released by the company.
During a House Oversight Committee hearing today about the OPM hack, KeyPoint chief executive Eric Hess disclosed that his company failed to produce documents that were requested by the committee in January. Chairman Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Ut., said that he may subpoena KeyPoint after Hess refused to say when his firm will produce the documents requested by the committee.
Veritas and KeyPoint did not respond to a request for comment.
(This post is from our blog: Unofficial Sources.)
Photo: Officials appear before during a House Oversight and Government Reform Committee on June 24, 2015 (Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
The post OPM Contractor’s Parent Firm Has a Troubled History appeared first on The Intercept.
The National Security Agency, while primarily occupied by sweeping up billions of phone calls, emails, texts, and social media messages a day, wants better visual information on the earth and its residents too, Admiral Michael Rogers said Wednesday.
“Signals intelligence… ain’t enough, you guys,” the NSA chief told a gathering of contractors in the geospatial intelligence business. “We gotta create a much broader picture.”
We need “the ability to visualize,” he explained, because “man is fundamentally a visual creature.”
Rogers, who also heads the Pentagon’s United States Cyber Command, spent much of his keynote speech at the GEOINT 2015 conference pitching the technology, intelligence, and defense companies in the audience on the importance of working together. The conference’s slogan – appropriate, given the government’s ever-growing demands — is “open the aperture.”
“It’s all about partnerships,” Rogers told the audience. “How can we harness the power of the commercial sector?”
Nearly 300 private companies sent representatives, from giants like Booz Allen Hamilton, Dell, and Northrup Grumman, to smaller firms, all displaying their wares on the showroom floor right outside the room where Rogers spoke, at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center.
Walking through the 100,000 square meters of booths, participants can see dozens of digitally rendered, real-time depictions of the earth’s surface. A product called Cesium is “like Google Earth,” an exhibitor said, except it can work in any browser, no downloads required. The KeyW corporation operates its own plane, as well as an intensive open source data scraping system for human geography known as MOSAIC that the National Geo-Spatial Intelligence Agency asked them to build.
Also at the conference on Tuesday, Therese Marie Whelan, a Department of Defense official, pointed to the power of geographical imaging for war. “We are now able to convey information that is reliable and uniquely capable of filling gaps from other intelligence disciplines to warfighters and policy makers with incredible speed,” Whelan said.
“A lot of the problems we deal with today are so complex that no single company or agency or nonprofit can solve them itself,” said Thad Allen, the Booz Allen vice president who introduced Rogers.
(This post is from our blog: Unofficial Sources.)
Photo: NSA Director Mike Rogers speaking at GEOINT. (GEOINT 2015 hand-out)
The post NSA Chief Wants to Watch, as Well as Listen and Read appeared first on The Intercept.
What’s more boring than your 401(k) statement? And what’s more viscerally compelling than having a 2,000-pound bomb dropped on your house?
Malachy Browne, managing editor of Reported.ly (which, like The Intercept, is owned and published by First Look Media) has used documents leaked by the “Yemen Cyber Army” to unravel the intimate connection between these two things — pension and retirement plans around the world on the one hand, and the vicious war Saudi Arabia is waging on Yemen on the other:
An exclusive investigation by reported.ly has traced the manufacture and shipping of bomb components from the European Union to the United Arab Emirates, and also discovered the use of bombs made by the European manufacturer in attacks by the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen, where potentially unlawful civilian deaths have been documented. The Germany-based manufacturer of the bomb components, Rheinmetall AG, is a publicly traded company whose major shareholders have included a host of US financial firms, as well as the New York state pension fund, Virginia’s 529 college savings program and the sovereign pension fund of Norway …
The packing list for the shipment details six 40-foot containers holding the MK82/MK84 bomb components manufactured by RWM Italia … Burkan markets its MK80-series bombs – including the MK82, 83 and 84 – as “perfect for situations where maximum blast and explosion is required.”
(This post is from our blog: Unofficial Sources.)
The post Your Pension: “Perfect for Situations Where Maximum Blast and Explosion Is Required” appeared first on The Intercept.
Am 13. Juni 2015 veranstaltete die Bundeswehr zum 60. jährigen Jubiläum erstmals einen Tag der Bundeswehr.
Insgesamt waren es 230.000 Besucher an den 15 Standorten. 170.000 weniger, als die BW vor Samstag in ihrer Ankündigung geschätzt hat. Link des BMVg.
Dennoch ist das eine astronomische Besucherzahl.
In Flensburg hissten Protestanten an einem Mast der Gorch Fock eine Piratenflagge und ein Transpi mit der Aufschrift „War starts here“. Zeit-Online-Link.
In Eckernförde protestierten Aktivisten und hatten u.a. einen Sensemann, einen Sarg zum Probeliegen dabei.
Außerdem gab es online, u.a. bei Twitter, Proteste gegen diese massive Werbeveranstaltung.