Intelligence Agency News StoriesExcerpts of Key Intelligence Agency News Stories in Major Media
Note: This comprehensive list of intelligence agency news stories is usually updated once a week. Explore our full index to revealing excerpts of key major media news stories on several dozen engaging topics. And don't miss amazing excerpts from 20 of the most revealing news articles ever published.
The Pentagon gave a controversial U.K. PR firm over half a billion dollars to run a top secret propaganda program in Iraq, the Bureau of Investigative Journalism can reveal. Bell Pottinger’s output included short TV segments made in the style of Arabic news networks and fake insurgent videos which could be used to track the people who watched them, according to a former employee. The agency’s staff worked alongside high-ranking U.S. military officers in their Baghdad Camp Victory headquarters. Bell Pottinger reported to the Pentagon, the CIA, and the National Security Council on its work in Iraq. In the first media interview any Bell Pottinger employee has given about the work for the U.S. military in Iraq, video editor Martin Wells told the Bureau his time in Camp Victory was “shocking, eye-opening, life-changing.” The firm’s output was signed off by former General David Petraeus - then commander of the coalition forces in Iraq - and on occasion by the White House, he said. Bell Pottinger’s work in Iraq was a huge media operation which cost over a hundred million dollars a year on average. The ... most sensitive program described by Wells was the production of fake al Qaeda propaganda films. U.S. marines would take the CDs on patrol and drop them in the chaos when they raided targets. Wells explained how the team embedded a code into the CDs which linked to a Google Analytics account, giving a list of IP addresses where the CDs had been played.
Note: So the Pentagon made propaganda films to recruit for Al Qaeda, bombed a place upsetting the people there, then seeded these films to try to capture anyone who was interested in the propaganda they spread. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles about war corruption and the manipulation of public perception.
Yahoo has been accused of secretly building a customised software programme to search all of its customers’ incoming emails for specific information provided by US intelligence officials. The company complied with a classified US government directive, scanning hundreds of millions of Yahoo Mail accounts at the behest of the National Security Agency or FBI. Reuters said that a number of surveillance experts said this represented the first case to surface of a US Internet company agreeing to a spy agency’s demand by searching all arriving messages, as opposed to examining stored messages or scanning a small number of accounts in real time. The agency also said it was unable to determine what data the company had handed over, and if the intelligence officials had approached other email providers besides Yahoo. US phone and Internet companies are known to have handed over bulk customer data to intelligence agencies. But some former government officials and private surveillance experts said they had not previously seen either such a broad directive for real-time Web collection or one that required the creation of a new computer program. “I’ve never seen that, a wiretap in real time on a ‘selector’,” said Albert Gidari, a lawyer who represented phone and Internet companies on surveillance. A selector refers to a type of search term used to zero in on specific information. He added: “It would be really difficult for a provider to do that.”
Over his two terms, Obama has created the most powerful surveillance state the world has ever seen. From 22,300 miles in space, where seven Advanced Orion [spy satellites] now orbit; to a 1-million-square-foot building in the Utah desert that stores data intercepted from personal phones, emails, and social media accounts; to taps along the millions of miles of undersea cables that encircle the Earth like yarn, U.S. surveillance has expanded exponentially since Obama’s inauguration on Jan. 20, 2009. The effort to wire the world ... has cost American taxpayers more than $100 billion. Yet has the president’s blueprint for spying succeeded on its own terms? An examination of the unprecedented architecture reveals that the Obama administration may only have drowned itself in data. Privacy hasn’t been traded for security, but for the government hoarding more data than it knows how to handle. A panel set up by Obama [in 2013] to review the NSA’s operations concluded that the agency had stopped no terrorist attacks. Beyond failures to create security, there is the matter of misuse or abuse of U.S. spying, the effects of which extend well beyond violations of Americans’ constitutional liberties. Obama, meanwhile, has taken virtually no steps to fix what ails his spying apparatus, [but] has gone after people blowing the whistle on intelligence abuses. The Justice Department has charged eight leakers — more than double the number under all previous presidents combined.
Note: The above was written by James Bamford, whistleblower and author of "The Shadow Factory: The Ultra-Secret NSA From 9/11 to the Eavesdropping on America." Former US Senator Frank Church warned of the dangers of creating a surveillance state in 1975. By 2013, it had become evident that the US did not heed his warning. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles about intelligence agency corruption and the disappearance of privacy.
“The United States does not torture,” said George W Bush on 6 September 2006. Bush was, for the first time, acknowledging the existence of the program that Senate intelligence committee staff investigator Daniel Jones would later expose as taking power drills to the heads of captured men; making them stand with their arms stretched above their heads for days at a time; leaving at least one of them naked until he froze to death; waterboarding them to the point of catatonia as bubbles rose from their open mouths; and inserting pureed food into their rectums while claiming it was necessary for delivering nutrients. Details of those procedures were outlined in the 525 pages which CIA director John Brennan, Barack Obama and White House chief of staff Denis McDonough allowed to become public. The CIA’s response to Jones’s report was split into two corps, one official and one not. The agency itself would no longer defend torture outright. The second corps consisted of retired CIA directors, a group known colloquially as the “Formers”. They laid into the Senate committee, [and] savaged it as a Democratic witchhunt. Jones has regrets about the way the declassified report turned out. Most prominently, Jones wishes he had gotten declassified the nearly 100-page table of contents for the full 6,700-page torture report, so readers could understand from the headings and subheadings just what the full contours of the torture was. In May 2016, the CIA inspector general’s office destroyed its only copy of the classified torture report.
Note: For more along these lines, see the "10 Craziest Things in the Senate Report on Torture". For more, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles about corruption in government and in the intelligence community.
Oliver Stone has taken aim at the US government for deceiving people about the levels of surveillance that exist in the country. His new film Snowden, about the controversial NSA informant Edward Snowden, received its world premiere. The drama ... tells of the former CIA employee’s discovery that the agency had constructed a system to spy on the public. “Americans don’t know anything about it because the government lies about it all the time,” Stone said at a press conference. “What’s going on now is pretty shocking. This story not only deals with eavesdropping but mass eavesdropping, drones and cyberwarfare. As Snowden said himself the other day, ‘It’s out of control, the world is out of control.’” The film also features a cameo from Snowden himself, who still resides at an undisclosed location in Russia while he searches for asylum elsewhere. Stone hopes that he may return to US ground but is doubtful. “Obama could pardon him and we hope so,” he said. “But he has vigorously prosecuted eight whistleblowers under the espionage act, which is an all-time record for an American president, and he’s been one of the most efficient managers of this surveillance world. It is the most extensive and invasive surveillance state that has ever existed and he’s built it up.” The film-maker ... likens [the current situation] to a George Orwell novel. “I never thought this could happen,” he said. “But from 2001 on, it’s very clear that something radical has changed. There’s more to it that meets the eye and whatever they tell you, you’ve got to look beyond.”
The days leading up to last Friday’s release of director Oliver Stone’s Snowden looked like one long movie trailer. The American Civil Liberties Union ... announced a campaign to win a presidential pardon for Edward Snowden, the former National Security Agency contract employee who leaked hundreds of thousands of its highly classified documents. The next day, the House Intelligence Committee released a bipartisan letter to the president that advised him against any pardon. The week before, Stone had invited me to a private screening of his movie, [along with] a small group of former government employees who were whistleblowers before Snowden – and paid a high price for it. The reason they had been persecuted is that U.S. law makes no distinction between revealing illegal government activity to the press about eavesdropping on Americans or engaging in torture, and betraying the country by passing secrets for money or ideology to foreign governments. The Espionage Act was enacted nearly a century ago following World War One, and has already been amended several times. One key issue confronting the next president ... is whether the law needs to be amended again – this time to separate the whistleblowers from the spies. Today ... the battle lines have been drawn between those in government – both the executive branch and Congress – who view the theft of government secrets as espionage, regardless of the motive, and those in civil-liberties groups and the media who see motive as a critical distinction.
Note: The above was written by James Bamford, whistleblower and author of "The Shadow Factory: The Ultra-Secret NSA From 9/11 to the Eavesdropping on America." For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing intelligence agency corruption news articles from reliable major media sources.
The United States paid over a million euros to the family of Giovanni Lo Porto, an Italian aid worker killed in a U.S. drone strike in January of last year, according to newly released documents. The 37-year-old Lo Porto died when CIA drones struck an al Qaeda compound where he was being held hostage along with Warren Weinstein, an American humanitarian worker. In a rare admission of responsibility, President Barack Obama acknowledged the strike and promised compensation for the families. The Intercept first reported that the family had reached a settlement with the U.S. government in July. The document also states that the agreement does not imply “a waiver of sovereign or personal immunity.” Lawyers for the Lo Porto family had pressed the Italian state prosecutor to consider a criminal case against the United States, while acknowledging that the chances of such a case going forward were slim. They also asked for more information from U.S. agencies about the strike and its aftermath. The U.S. has, in a few instances, paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to the families of civilians killed in attacks in Yemen, but has not publicly acknowledged doing so. Many human rights advocacy groups see a double standard in the silence of the U.S. government on the cases of non-Westerners who have died.
Note: The families of thousands of innocent citizens killed by US drones in the Middle East have received zero compensation. Drone strikes almost always miss their intended targets and reportedly create more terrorists than they kill. Casualties of war whose identities are unknown are frequently mis-reported to be "militants". For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing government corruption news articles from reliable major media sources.
For two years after the accident, Yei Yang refused to leave his home. "I couldn't farm, I couldn't go to see friends, as they might be afraid of me," Yang tells CNN. "I didn't want to live." Yang was just 22 and burning rubbish near his village in the province of Xieng Khoung in north-eastern Laos, when a bomb blast tore off one of his eyelids, his top lip and an ear, mutilated one of his arms, and left him with severe scarring from the waist up. His wounds were not caused by a modern day conflict, but by the remnants of a war that was waged more than 40 years ago, and is still destroying lives in this small Southeast Asian nation. Some 80 million unexploded bombs are scattered across the country - the deadly legacy of what became known as America's "secret war" in Laos - a CIA-led mission during the Vietnam War. In total, between 1964 and 1973, the US dropped more than two million tons of bombs - one of the heaviest aerial bombardments in history. Most of the munitions dropped were cluster bombs, which splinter before impact, spreading hundreds of smaller bomblets. To this day, less than 1% of the bombs have been removed, according to US-based NGO Legacies of War, which is spearheading the campaign to clear them. More than 20,000 people have been killed or maimed by the unexploded ordnance (UXOs) since the war ended, and currently, 50 people are maimed or killed every year. Around 40% of those are children.
A specialist unit created by the British domestic counterintelligence and security agency MI5 to “get inside the heads” of terrorists has helped foil seven attacks in the past year. The Behavioural Science Unit at Thames House, the headquarters of MI5 [establishes] whether people flagged as potential threats are "talkers" or "walkers" - those who simply boast or those who are preparing to act. Research by MI5 shows that more than 60 per cent of so-called lone wolves unwittingly provide clues that they are preparing to strike. The BSU’s work involves picking up signs of such changing behaviour. Neil, an Arabic and Norwegian speaker who has worked for the unit for six years, said ... his team is passed intelligence by officers that is gleaned from a network of informants and the public. The BSU then looks for signs of unusual activity. The BSU team pays close attention to “lone-actor” terrorists. The number of experts working in the BSU, which was created in 2004, has more than doubled since ... 2013. “We deal with probabilities and that is the nature of our work,” said Neil, [adding that] some of those they profiled lied to themselves about their intention and the ultimate aim was to persuade them to abandon their radical ideology. He said the assumption that many extremists had mental health problems was wrong. “Only 2 per cent of members of terrorist organisations suffer from mental health problems, compared with an average of up to 30 per cent of members of the public,” Neil said.
Some of the most powerful espionage tools created by the National Security Agency’s elite group of hackers have been revealed in recent days. A cache of hacking tools with code names such as Epicbanana, Buzzdirection and Egregiousblunder appeared mysteriously online over the weekend, setting the security world abuzz with speculation over whether the material was legitimate. The file appeared to be real, according to former NSA personnel who worked in the agency’s hacking division, known as Tailored Access Operations (TAO). The exploits are not run-of-the-mill tools to target everyday individuals. They are expensive software used to take over firewalls, such as Cisco and Fortinet, that are used “in the largest and most critical commercial, educational and government agencies around the world,” said [former TAO operator] Blake Darche. Some former agency employees suspect that the leak was the result of a mistake by an NSA operator, rather than a successful hack by a foreign government of the agency’s infrastructure. It is not unprecedented for a TAO operator to accidentally upload a large file of tools ... one of the former employees said. “What’s unprecedented is to not realize you made a mistake,” he said. “You would recognize, ‘Oops, I uploaded that set’ and delete it.” Critics of the NSA have suspected that the agency, when it discovers a software vulnerability, frequently does not disclose it, thereby putting at risk the cybersecurity of anyone using that product.
Note: Former US Senator Frank Church warned of the dangers of creating a surveillance state in 1975. By 2013, it had become evident that the US did not heed his warning. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles about intelligence agency corruption and the disappearance of privacy.
Federal drug agents regularly mine Americans’ travel information to profile people who might be ferrying money for narcotics traffickers - though they almost never use what they learn to make arrests or build criminal cases. Instead, that targeting has helped the Drug Enforcement Administration seize a small fortune in cash. The DEA surveillance is separate from the vast and widely-known anti-terrorism apparatus. DEA units assigned to patrol 15 of the nation’s busiest airports seized more than $209 million in cash from at least 5,200 people over the past decade “They count on this as part of the budget,” said Louis Weiss, a former [DEA group] supervisor. “Basically, you’ve got to feed the monster.” Federal law gives the government broad powers to seize cash and other assets if agents have evidence that they are linked to crime. That process, commonly known as asset forfeiture, has come under fire ... after complaints that police were using the law as a way to raise money rather than to protect the public or prevent crime. Court records show agents and informants flagged travelers for questioning based on whether they were traveling with one-way tickets, had paid in cash, had listed a non-working phone number on the reservation or had checked luggage. Agents said Zane Young fit that profile when they ... seized $36,000 from his bags. Young’s lawyer, Thomas Baker, said in a court filing that the drug agency’s profile was “vague, ambiguous, overbroad, and can be manipulated to include just about anyone.”
Note: Read about how the DEA stole a young man's life savings without ever charging him with a crime. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on government corruption and the erosion of civil liberties.
Days before an ISIS sympathizer attacked a cartoon contest in Garland, Texas, he received a text from an undercover FBI agent. “Tear up Texas,” the agent messaged Elton Simpson days before he opened fire at the Draw Muhammad event, according to an affidavit filed in federal court Thursday. “U know what happened in Paris,” Simpson responded. “So that goes without saying ... No need to be direct.” That revelation comes amidst a national debate about the use of undercover officers and human sources in terrorism cases. The texts were included in the indictment, released Thursday, of Erick Jamal Hendricks. He was charged with conspiring to provide material support to ISIS. [Hendricks] tried to recruit other Americans to form an ISIS cell on secret compounds and introduced an undercover agent to one of the Draw Muhammad attackers, according to the FBI. But Hendricks did more than make a connection. According to the court papers, he asked the undercover officer about the Draw Muhammad event’s security, size, and police presence, during the event, according to an affidavit filed in court. FBI spokeswoman Carol Cratty hung up on The Daily Beast after being asked about the “tear up Texas” text. But shortly after that exchange, Simpson and his accomplice, Nadir Soofi, drove up to the contest and opened fire. Both men were killed in the altercation, but Hendricks would remain free for another year. Every major U.S. attack was linked to FBI investigation before it happened.
Note: The FBI has been stepping up its use of stings in ISIS cases. Read how an FBI mole posing as a potential lover recently convinced a man to become a terrorist. If terrorism is such a grave threat in the US, why does the FBI have to manufacture "terrorist" plots and then exaggerate its anti-terrorism success?
As part of an ongoing effort to “exploit medical intelligence,” the National Security Agency teamed up with the military-focused Defense Intelligence Agency to extract “medical SIGINT” from the intercepted communications of nonprofit groups starting in the early 2000s, a top-secret document shows. Medical intelligence can include information about disease outbreaks; the ability of a foreign regime to respond to chemical, biological, and nuclear attacks; the capabilities of overseas drugs companies; advances in medical technology; medical research, and the medical response capabilities of various governments, according to the document and others like it, provided by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden. One of the more prominent examples of focused medical spying came in 2010, when the agency crafted a plan to stow tracking devices with medical supplies bound for an ill Osama bin Laden in order to locate the terrorist leader. One article from August 2003 identifies an NSA project to keep an eye on the evolution of biotechnology in various countries. “Can we ... determine the specific features that would distinguish a Bio Warfare Program from a benign civilian pharmaceutical production effort?” the author wrote, identifying a “suspect Iranian [biological warfare] facility” as a target for inspection. Medical intelligence gathering has continued since then, according to the so-called “black budget” proposed for the 2013 fiscal year, published in February 2012.
Bechtel - a behemoth among closely held companies - has been the world’s builder, benefiting from vast government contracts for engineering and infrastructure work in difficult places while it nurtured relationships with power brokers in Washington. In The Profiteers, journalist Sally Denton seeks to unravel the history of Bechtel. Her story is one of “how a dynastic line of rulers from the same American family conducts its business” and how its system of networking now pervades US capitalism. Anecdotes of Bohemian Grove, the secretive retreat that became an all-male “summer camp” for US corporate, political and military elites to toast marshmallows, skinny-dip in the river north of San Francisco and dress in drag for skits, elucidate the chummy nature of big business. As of 2014, [Bechtel's] reported revenue was $37bn, with projects and employees in 37 countries. The corporation’s embrace of Saudi Arabia as a lucrative client and its decades-long and contorted experience in Iraq also makes sense of some aspects of US foreign policy - as well as its intelligence-gathering operations. The life and times of John McCone, a former Bechtel executive who later served as CIA director in the US administrations of Presidents Kennedy and Johnson, is chronicled deftly here. It is worth noting: McCone was and is critical to Bechtel’s dominance today. He devised the idea of “cost-plus contracts” for the toughest jobs sought by government. Contractors are guaranteed a profit in such deals.
Note: Bechtel was at the center of a major Iraqi reconstruction scandal in 2007. More recently, major defense contractors have been publicly congratulating themselves for steering US policy towards militarism. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on corruption in government and in the corporate world.
WikiLeaks published the DNC’s hacked emails. There has been a flurry of accusations – including from the Hillary Clinton campaign – that Russian president Vladimir Putin orchestrated both the hack and the leak, in an attempt to help Donald Trump win the presidency. It’s amazing how quickly the media are willing to forgo any skepticism and jump to conspiracy-tinged conclusions where Putin is involved. There is some circumstantial evidence that the hack may have originated in Russia, but there are also many questions that haven’t been resolved. As Adam Johnson detailed, when you look closely, the evidence is shoddy and often contradictory. The bulk of the “evidence” has come from the statements of cybersecurity firms FireEye and Crowdstrike, both of which have lucrative contracts with the US government. As FireEye’s CEO once made clear, his company has a financial stake in nation-state hacking tensions. As Edward Snowden pointed out ... with an accompanying NSA document, “Our government specifically authorized the hacking of political parties.” The US has also considered hacking and then releasing sensitive and embarrassing information in China in retaliation for cybersecurity attacks, as the New York Times reported last year. If the US wants to place blame at the feet of the Russians, they should do so transparently and in public, without leaving it to anonymous officials and cybersecurity firms to make claims without providing hard evidence.
In 1986, the director of Britain's premier domestic spy agency told Margaret Thatcher's cabinet secretary the risk of "embarrassment" from publicizing a politician's suspected child abuse was greater than the "danger" he presented. CBS News partner network Sky News reported the new twist in Britain's long and still-unfolding child sexual abuse scandal on Thursday, saying then-MI5 director Sir Antony Duff had told Prime Minister Thatcher's staffer "the risks of political embarrassment to the government is rather greater than the security danger." The name of the Member of Parliament Duff had been asked to investigate, over allegations he had a "penchant for small boys," has not been revealed, but Sky reported Wednesday that four former senior politicians were named in previously unseen government documents on abuse. All four have been dead for years, but they were senior members of Thatcher's cabinet. Over the course of several years the sex abuse scandal has snowballed, revealing - at best - a pervasive lax attitude among British law enforcement, politicians and celebrity culture toward the abuse of children during the 1970s and 80s. The ongoing police investigation has already landed some big names from British culture ... in jail for abuses committed during the height of their popularity. Others have been posthumously revealed as serial abusers. Sky's investigation, however, is the first time any suggestion of a possible cover-up of abuse by senior government officials has emerged.
Note: The Thatcher government was reported to have covered up a VIP pedophile ring. Watch an excellent segment by Australia's "60-Minutes" team "Spies, Lords and Predators" on a pedophile ring in the UK which leads directly to the highest levels of government. A second suppressed documentary, "Conspiracy of Silence," goes even deeper into this topic in the US. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing sexual abuse scandal news articles from reliable major media sources.
When you listen to any member of our government state that the newly released 29 pages are no smoking gun - they are lying. Read the 29 pages and ... remember that they were written during 2002 and 2003. President Bush wanted to go to war in Iraq - not Saudi Arabia. So, 29 full pages that said “Saudi” and “Bandar” instead of “Hussein” and “Iraq” was a huge problem. There was a concerted effort by the FBI and the Bush Administration to keep incriminating Saudi evidence out of the Inquiry’s investigation. The Joint Inquiry was still able to write 29 full pages regarding Saudi complicity in the 9/11 attacks. No other nation is given such singular prominence in the Joint Inquiry’s Final Report. Not Iraq. Not Iran. Not Syria. Not Sudan. Not even Afghanistan or Pakistan. The 29 pages have been kept secret and suppressed from the American public for fifteen years - not for matters of genuine national security - but for matters of convenience, embarrassment, and cover-up. Instead of calling for an emergency session of Congress to immediately name the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia as a State Sponsor of Terrorism, President Obama continues to downplay, belittle, and ignore the truth leaving us vulnerable to terrorist attacks that are still to this very day being funded by our “ally”. The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia provided operational and financial support to the 9/11 hijackers. That is a fact. And, the U.S. government has been covering up that fact for fifteen years - even to this very day.
Note: Read these pages that they didn't want you to see on this webpage and explore good commentary at this link. Check out also five key revelations of these documents. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing 9/11 news articles from reliable major media sources. Then explore the excellent, reliable resources provided in our 9/11 Information Center.
One of the most tortured men in the history of Guantánamo Bay has received clearance from the wartime prison’s quasi-parole board to leave after nearly 14 years of detention without charge. Mohamedou Ould Slahi, a Mauritanian citizen whose harrowing account of his torture at Guantánamo Bay became an international bestseller in 2015, will soon leave behind the Cuban detention center where US military personnel contorted his body; bombarded him with noise; deprived him of sleep; stuffed his clothing with ice during a nighttime boat ride meant to to convince him he was headed to an even worse place; threatened his life; and threatened his mother with rape. A nonlegal panel representing various US security agencies tasked with assessing threats posed by Guantánamo’s 76 residual detainees, found Slahi to represent no “continuing significant threat to the security of the United States”. The consensus decision, reached on 14 July, was made public on Wednesday. A federal judge in 2010 [had previously] ordered him freed for lack of evidence untainted by torture to justify his detention, yet the US justice department appealed. In the summer of 2003, senior Guantánamo officials, believing Slahi was an important link to al-Qaida, sought and received permission from the Pentagon to torture him. US defense secretary Donald Rumsfeld personally approved Slahi’s torture. In his book, Slahi recalled ... that he would tell his tormentors whatever they wished to hear. “I don’t care, as long as you are pleased,” Slahi informed his interrogators.
Note: By the time Slahi's bestselling book Guantanamo Diary was published, leaked documents obtained by BBC News had revealed that more than 150 innocent people were detained at Guantanamo after being rounded up for no reason. For more along these lines, read about how the torture program fits in with a long history of human experimentation by corrupt intelligence agencies working alongside unethical scientists.
The Obama administration just released numbers suggesting ... that drone strikes in countries excluding Iraq, Afghanistan and Syria have resulted in between at least 64 and 116 noncombatant deaths during his administration. The president also issued an executive order effectively directing his successor to ... publish this data going forward. The new executive order means it will be harder for the next president to kill in total secrecy. Obama’s use [of drones] over the last seven years set a disastrous global precedent: using a new weapons technology as an excuse to kill in secret and without regard for international law. Today’s developments are an incremental but important step away from the notion that new technology is a license for secrecy. The downside, though, is that the drone data could be completely misleading – and provide a veneer of legitimacy to unlawful killings. There are reports of hundreds of unidentified people killed in apparent “signature strikes,” where targeting decisions were made on the basis of patterns of behavior rather than identification of a specific individual. Amnesty International and other groups have also documented so-called rescuer strikes, where the US killed or injured individuals who were trying to help the victims of an initial strike. The CIA, an agency with an extremely poor record of accountability to the public, is still conducting strikes. Its continued role is likely one reason we aren’t getting fuller answers to our questions about drones.
Note: Drone strikes almost always miss their intended targets and reportedly create more terrorists than they kill. Casualties of war whose identities are unknown are frequently mis-reported to be "militants". For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing war news articles from reliable major media sources.
Secret FBI rules allow agents to obtain journalists’ phone records with approval from two internal officials - far less oversight than under normal judicial procedures. The classified rules ... govern the FBI’s use of national security letters, which allow the bureau to obtain information about journalists’ calls without going to a judge or informing the news organization being targeted. Obtaining a journalist’s records with a national security letter (or NSL) requires the signoff of the FBI’s general counsel and the executive assistant director of the bureau’s National Security Branch. The Obama administration has come under criticism for bringing a record number of leak prosecutions and aggressively targeting journalists in the process. In 2013, after it came out that the Justice Department had secretly seized records from phone lines at the Associated Press and surveilled ... reporter James Rosen, then-Attorney General Eric Holder tightened the rules. The FBI could not label reporters as co-conspirators in order to try to identify their sources - as had happened with Rosen - and it became more difficult to get journalists’ phone records without notifying the news organization first. Yet these changes did not apply to NSLs. Those are governed by a separate set of rules. The FBI issues thousands of NSLs each year, including nearly 13,000 in 2015. Over the years, a series of Inspector General reports found significant problems with their use, yet the FBI is currently pushing to expand the types of information it can demand with an NSL.
Note: The aggressive pursuit of leaks and journalists that report them led BBC to recently ask: "Is the US government at war with whistleblowers?" Read more about the FBI's use of secret National Security Letters. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on media manipulation and the disappearance of privacy.
Important Note: Explore our full index to revealing excerpts of key major media news stories on several dozen engaging topics. And don't miss amazing excerpts from 20 of the most revealing news articles ever published.