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Thursday, October 08, 2015

Tony Blair milked 9/11 – and ruined my election, says Ian Duncan Smith

Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair © Brendan McDermid
Tony Blair milked 9/11 and ruined Ian Duncan Smith’s Tory leadership tenure as a result, the Work and Pensions secretary claimed shortly after Blair gave a speech on extremism at the 9/11 memorial museum in New York.
Speaking at a fringe meeting at the Conservative party conference in Manchester, Duncan Smith bemoaned the lack of coverage his 2001 election as Tory leader attracted.
The day before I got elected the twin towers were struck,” Duncan Smith said. “So first of all we got no lift on my announcement. It had to be buried the following day, hardly anybody was paying attention.
Now you know, when the nation is kind of at war there is only one person they look to and it is the prime minister, because the prime minister is powerful. He’s the one who directs it. And Blair, of course, which maybe you can argue, he milked that for all that was worth,” Duncan Smith said.
He complained that it had been impossible to get any domestic issues brought up and that foreign policy is not generally an issue that the opposition wins on.
Duncan Smith’s comment came a day after Blair, whose support for the 2003 Iraq War at the time made him a more popular figure in the US than at home, laid out his vision of where jihadism comes from and how to approach it.
The conspiracy theories which illuminate much of the jihadi writings have significant support even amongst parts of the mainstream population of some Muslim countries,” he told the audience.
There are millions of schoolchildren every day in countries round the world – not just in the Middle East – who are taught a view of the world and of their religion which is narrow-minded, prejudicial and therefore, in the context of a globalized world, dangerous.
READ MORE: Politicians should witness ‘direct consequences of their lust for war’ – Labour MP 
Blair said the battle against radical Islam is a “general struggle” against a particular “ideology” within Islam.
He also said there are many within the faith who “feel a deep sense of outrage at the hijacking of their religion by the extremists and who are determined to retake it and restore its true purpose.

Webcam hacker spied on sex acts with BlackShades malware

A Leeds-based hacker used a notorious piece of malware called BlackShades to spy on people via their webcams.Investigators from the National Crime Agency found images on the computer of Stefan Rigo, 34, including ones of people involved in sexual activity, some of whom were on Skype at the time.
Rigo was arrested in November last year during an international investigation.
He has been given a 20-week suspended sentence and placed on the sex offenders' register for seven years.
Rigo targeted a variety of victims after gaining remote access to their computers' webcams.
Incriminating images on his computer were discovered after a forensic examination.
Out of 14 confirmed individuals he spied on - roughly half were people he knew personally, an NCA spokesman told the BBC.
At a hearing in July, Rigo pleaded guilty to one count of voyeurism and another computer-related offence.
The court took Rigo's guilty plea into account when handing down the 20 week sentence. As well as being placed on the sex offenders register, Rigo will have to complete 200 hours of unpaid work within the next 12 months.

Victims 'unaware'

Investigators found and arrested Rigo after raiding two addresses in Leeds.
The hacker had used his ex-girlfriend's details to purchase BlackShades, a remote access trojan (RAT) which allows for a high level of surreptitious control over a victim's computer.
"The problem with RATs specifically is a lot of the time people don't know they're being affected," the NCA spokesman said.
"In the case of Stefan Rigo that we were looking at, his victims weren't aware."
BlackShades has been around since 2010 and has been sold for as little as $40 (£26), explained Jens Monrad at cyber security firm FireEye.
"The application in itself is not that difficult to detect but typically the attackers will wrap some sort of exploit around the application," said Mr Monrad.
"Even with patches the victim will still be vulnerable so long as there is a hole in the operating system."
Mr Monrad recommended that computer users be careful of clicking on suspicious links or downloading dubious email attachments.

Cam scams

The criminal market for webcam hacking tools is highly active, according to Mr Monrad, since malicious hackers are often able to exploit their victims after taking covert images of them.
There have also been cases in which hackers sold access to specific cameras.
Connected security cameras in buildings may be at risk too, though there are sometimes difficulties in publicly discussing how secure they are.
One researcher recently cancelled a forthcoming talk on the issue following legal pressure from the manufacturers of widely-used surveillance cameras.
Gianni Gnesa was due to discuss "vulnerabilities found on major surveillance cameras and show how an attacker could used them to stay undetected" at the HITB GSEC security conference in Singapore.
The Register reports that a legal threat from one, unnamed, manufacturer resulted in Gnesa withdrawing his presentation.

Google Adblock shock a load of cock – users mock post hoc

Adblock denies Google has found a way to block Adblock

AdBlock Plus has denied Google has found a way of getting around its adblocking tool, instead blaming the problem on Chrome.
Users complained that ads were loading on YouTube and not displaying a skip button.
Initially it was thought the failure to use the adblocking tool was an aggressive tactic by Google to combat its flagging YouTube ad revenues.
One user said: "I'm having trouble using Adblock on managed Chrome devices like the Chromebook and Chromebox. I have them setup to be Public Kiosks, and I've added Adblock to be a forced installed extension, but it never installs.
"I'm wondering if Google has blocked Adblock from being installed in a public session."
Another tweeted: "So YouTube has finally clamped down on Adblock, if Adblock is active on the page, the pre-roll ad will play without a skip option."
However, Be Williams, director of AdBlock Plus, said: "The problems on YouTube are because of an issue in Chrome. It apparently is only affecting a small subset of users. We know about it, I imagine they'll get a fix up soon."
A recent post on Google's Chromium support forum reported a workaround had been found through a patch.
Adblock Plus owner Eyeo recently saw off two legal cases in Germany fought by publishers claiming its practice of adblocking was not legal. ®

Adobe patches Flash dirty dozen, ignores 155 in Shockwave shocker

Sixteen code execution holes closed

Adobe has patched nearly two dozen vulnerabilities in its Flash player including 16 that lead to code execution but is still serving flawed versions with hundreds of holes as part of its Shockwave bundle.
The Flash vulnerabilities patched yesterday affect Windows, Mac, and Linux as part of the version 19.x updates.
It addresses code execution flaws resulting from buffer overflow vulnerabilities, memory corruption, and stack and stack overflow corruption.
Some of the 23 fixes include information disclosure, an update to harden against vector length corruptions, and validation checks to reject content from vulnerable JSONP callback APIs.
Google's Project Zero, HP's Zero Day Initiative, and Alibaba were among those security shops credited with discovering and reporting the holes.
While users running Flash should receive automatic updates, those grabbing clean installations of bundled Shockwave will risk having deployed severely outdated versions of the ravaged runtime.
The bundled Adobe Shockwave is serving Flash versions dating back to released Feburary and containing a staggering 155 vulnerabilities, according to KrebsonSecurity.
Installation tests by this author on Windows 10 found Shockwave had installed version 18, released June.
Both borked versions would leave users open to dangerous attacks including some code execution holes being actively exploited in popular attack tools like the Angler exploit kit.
Version 18 leaves users exposed to three then zero day holes dumped in the Hacking Team breach, a 23 June activel;y exploited zero day flaw, 37 vulnerabilities dropped in July, and 35 in August.
It's not all bad news for Flash lovers; the latest update introduces shiny features like AIR Workers for iOS, better Stage3D error messages, and bug fixes. ®

AVG to flog your web browsing, search history from mid-October

Your secrets sold to advertisers
Changes in the privacy policy of AVG's free antivirus doodad will allow it to collect your web browsing and search history – and sell it to advertisers to bankroll its freemium security software products.
The changes will come into play on 15 October, according to the Czech-based biz in a blog post. The revised privacy policy can be found here, with the key paragraph extracted below:
We collect non-personal data to make money from our free offerings so we can keep them free, including:
  • Advertising ID associated with your device.
  • Browsing and search history, including meta data.
  • Internet service provider or mobile network you use to connect to our products.
  • Information regarding other applications you may have on your device and how they are used.
AVG will also collect and broker information about apps it finds on a user's computer or device.
The security software firm says it will not sell personal information such as names, emails, addresses, or payment card details, and will try to "anonymize the data we collect and store it in a manner that does not identify you."
The biz admitted that private information may be exposed or inferred from one's browsing history. "Sometimes browsing history or search history contains terms that might identify you," AVG's privacy policy reads.
"If we become aware that part of your browsing history might identify you, we will treat that portion of your history as personal data, and will anonymize this information." ®

Webcam spyware voyeur sentenced to community service

Nabbed in operation targeting 'low-skilled' crooks

Woman slaps man. Pic: Shutterstock

A UK voyeur who hacked webcams to spy on victims has avoided going to prison for his crimes.
Stefan Rigo, 33, of Leeds, used the Blackshades malware to infect systems and spy on victims. He was arrested in November 2014 as part of an international operation targeting low-skilled crooks using Blackshades, which gives hackers complete control of compromised Windows PCs.
“A forensic examination of Rigo’s computer equipment found a series of images that involved people engaged in sexual acts over Skype or in front of their computers,” a statement by police at the UK’s National Criminal Agency explains. “Under interview Rigo admitted using functions of Blackshades that enabled him to control others’ webcams and monitor their desktops, enabling him to obtain passwords and email content.”
Rigo was found guilty of voyeurism offences following a trial at Leeds Magistrates Court. During his trial the 33-year-old admitted to being addicted to monitoring people via their computers, spending five to 12 hours a day doing so over a three-year period. He also pled guilty to hacking (Computer Misuse Act) offences.
The voyeur received a 40-week suspended sentence for his offences. In addition, Rigo's name was added to the sex offenders register for seven years and he was ordered to perform 200 hours of unpaid work during a sentencing hearing on 7 October. His computers have been seized.
Angela McKenna, senior investigating officer for the NCA’s National Cyber Crime Unit, said: “People using malicious tools like Blackshades can massively violate the privacy of their victims, and use compromised computers to facilitate further crime.
“Users of these tools are continuing to find that despite having no physical contact or interaction with their victims, they can still be identified, tracked down and brought to justice by the NCA and its partners,” she added.
Tips for avoiding infection from malicious RATs such as Blackshades can be found on UK government websites, cyberstreetwise.com and getsafeoline.org. Victims of online crimes can report them to the police via Action Fraud, the UK’s national fraud and internet crime reporting centre.
Malware has been used to spy on victims for years. Many such scams rely on spying on vulnerable youngsters alone in their bedrooms and capturing images before blackmailing victims into handing over more salacious material. Targets of such sextortion scams down the years have included former Miss Teen USA Cassidy Wolf and many others.
Security experts reckon the privacy problem of devices in the home is only going to get worse with the growing popularity of (often insecure) Internet of Things devices.
Adrian Beck, director of enterprise security program management at application security firm Veracode, commented: ”With yet another case of webcams compromised by hackers, the threat of insecure connected devices to our privacy could never be clearer. In this shocking case, people’s most intimate moments were watched, and the threat of compromised connected devices will only get worse as we introduce more and more smart products into our homes.” ®

Rights groups: Darn you Facebook with your 'government names'

ZuckerBorg can assimilate us, but not on those terms


The ZuckerBorg's continued refusal to assimilate anyone who won't provide their "real" name to the site has provoked an angry letter from 75 human rights, digital rights, LGBTQ and women's rights advocates.
Facebook has always claimed its "real name" policy protects users from harassment, as without the right to anonymity users are less likely to behave online in a manner they would not attempt in meatspace.
A letter sent to the company today, however, takes issue with this.
The so-called "Nameless Coalition" stated: "It's time for Facebook to provide equal treatment and protection for all who use and depend on Facebook as a central platform for online expression and communication."
The coalition members – which included the American Civil Liberties Union of California, the Electronic Frontier Foundation and Human Rights Watch – issued five demands to which it asked Facebook to respond by 31 October.
  • Commit to allowing pseudonyms and non-legal names on its site in appropriate circumstances, including but not limited to situations where using an every day name would put a user in danger, or situations where local law requires the ability to use pseudonyms.
  • Require users filing real name policy abuse reports to support their claims with evidence. This could come in written form, multiple-choice questions, or some alternative documentation.
  • Create a compliance process through which users can confirm their identities without submitting government ID. This could include allowing users to submit written evidence, answer multiple-choice questions, or provide alternative documentation such as links to blog posts or other online platforms where they use the same identity.
  • Give users technical details and documentation on the process of submitting identity information such as where and how it is stored, for how long, and who can access it. Provide users with the ability to submit this information using PGP or another common form of encrypted communication, so they may protect their identity information during the submission process.
  • Provide a robust appeals process for users locked out of their accounts. This could include the ability to request a second review, to submit different types of evidence, and to speak to a real Facebook employee, especially in cases involving safety.
The coalition notes several incidents in which Facebook's reporting process has been abused for harassment or censorship purposes.

A Short History of U.S. Bombing of Civilian Facilities

On October 3, a U.S. AC-130 gunship attacked a hospital run by Médecins Sans Frontières in Kunduz, Afghanistan, partially destroying it. Twelve staff members and 10 patients, including three children, were killed, and 37 people were injured. According to MSF, the U.S. had previously been informed of the hospital’s precise location, and the attack continued for 30 minutes after staff members desperately called the U.S. military.
The U.S. first claimed the hospital had been “collateral damage” in an airstrike aimed at “individuals” elsewhere who were “threatening the force.” Since then, various vague and contradictory explanations have been offered by the U.S. and Afghan governments, both of which promise to investigate the bombing. MSF has called the attack a war crime and demanded an independent investigation by a commission set up under the Geneva Conventions.
While the international outcry has been significant, history suggests this is less because of what happened and more because of whom it happened to. The U.S. has repeatedly attacked civilian facilities in the past but the targets have generally not been affiliated with a European, Nobel Peace Prize-winning humanitarian organization such as MSF.
Below is a sampling of such incidents since the 1991 Gulf War. If you believe some significant examples are missing, please send them our way. To be clear, we’re looking for U.S. attacks on specifically civilian facilities, such as hospitals or schools.
Illustration: Matt Bors
Infant Formula Production Plant, Abu Ghraib, Iraq (January 21, 1991)

On the seventh day of Operation Desert Storm, aimed at evicting Iraq military forces from Kuwait, the U.S.-led coalition bombed the Infant Formula Production Plant in the Abu Ghraib suburb of Baghdad. Iraq declared that the factory was exactly what its name said, but the administration of President George H.W. Bush claimed it was “a production facility for biological weapons.” Colin Powell, then chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, chimed in to say, “It is not an infant formula factory. It was a biological weapons facility — of that we are sure.” The U.S. media chortled about Iraq’s clumsy, transparent propaganda, and CNN’s Peter Arnett was attacked by U.S. politicians for touring the damaged factory and reporting that “whatever else it did, it did produce infant formula.”
Iraq was telling the truth. When Saddam Hussein’s son-in-law, Hussein Kamel, defected to Jordan in 1995, he had every incentive to undermine Saddam, since he hoped the U.S. would help install him as his father-in-law’s successor — but he told CNN “there is nothing military about that place. … It only produced baby milk.” The CIA’s own investigation later concluded the site had been bombed “in the mistaken belief that it was a key BW [Biological Weapon] facility.” The original U.S. claims have nevertheless proven impossible to stamp out. The George W. Bush administration, making the case for invading Iraq in 2003, portrayed the factory as a symbol of Iraqi deceit. When the Newseum opened in 2008, it included Arnett’s 1991 reporting in a section devoted to — in the New York Times’ description — “examples of distortions that mar the profession.”
Air Raid Shelter, Amiriyah, Iraq (February 13, 1991)

The U.S. purposefully targeted an air raid shelter near the Baghdad airport with two 2,000-pound laser-guided bombs, which punched through 10 feet of concrete and killed at least 408 Iraqi civilians. A BBC journalist reported that “we saw the charred and mutilated remains. … They were piled onto the back of a truck; many were barely recognizable as human.” Meanwhile, Army Lt. Gen. Thomas Kelly of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff said: “We are chagrined if [civilian] people were hurt, but the only information we have about people being hurt is coming out of the controlled press in Baghdad.” Another U.S. general claimed the shelter was “an active command-and-control structure,” while anonymous officials said military trucks and limousines for Iraq’s senior leadership had been seen at the building.
In his 1995 CNN interview, Hussein Kamel said, “There was no leadership there. There was a transmission apparatus for the Iraqi intelligence, but the allies had the ability to monitor that apparatus and knew that it was not important.” The Iraqi blogger Riverbend later wrote that several years after the attack, she went to the shelter and met a “small, slight woman” who now lived in the shelter and gave visitors unofficial tours. Eight of her nine children had been killed in the bombing.
Al Shifa pharmaceutical factory, Khartoum, Sudan (August 20, 1998)

After al Qaeda attacks on U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998, the Clinton administration targeted the Al Shifa factory with 13 cruise missiles, killing one person and wounding 11. According to President Bill Clinton, the plant was “associated with the bin Laden network” and was “involved in the production of materials for chemical weapons.”
The Clinton administration never produced any convincing evidence that this was true. By 2005, the best the U.S. could do was say, as the New York Times characterized it, that it had not “ruled out the possibility” that the original claims were right. The long-term damage to Sudan was enormous. Jonathan Belke of the Near East Foundation pointed out a year after the bombing that the plant had produced “90 percent of Sudan’s major pharmaceutical products” and contended that due to its destruction “tens of thousands of people — many of them children — have suffered and died from malaria, tuberculosis, and other treatable diseases.” Sudan has repeatedly requested a U.N. investigation of the bombing, with no success.
Train bombing, Grdelica, Serbia (April 12, 1999)

During the U.S.-led bombing of Serbia during the Kosovo war, an F-15E fighter jet fired two remotely-guided missiles that hit a train crossing a bridge near Grdelica, killing at least 14 civilians. Gen. Wesley Clark, then Supreme Allied Commander Europe, called it “an unfortunate incident we all regret.” While the F-15 crew was able to control the missiles after they were launched, NATO released footage taken from the plane to demonstrate how quickly the train was moving and how little time the jet’s crew had to react. The German newspaper Frankfurter Rundschau later reported that the video had been sped up three times. The paper quoted a U.S. Air Force spokesperson who said this was accidental, and they had not noticed this until months later — by which point “we did not deem it useful to go public with this.”
Radio Television Serbia, Belgrade, Serbia (April 23, 1999)

Sixteen employees of Serbia’s state broadcasting system were killed during the Kosovo War when NATO intentionally targeted its headquarters in Belgrade. President Clinton gave an underwhelming defense of the bombing: “Our military leaders at NATO believe … that the Serb television is an essential instrument of Mr. Milosevic’s command and control. … It is not, in a conventional sense, therefore, a media outlet. That was a decision they made, and I did not reverse it.” U.S. envoy Richard Holbrooke told the Overseas Press Club immediately after the attack that it was “an enormously important and, I think, positive development.” Amnesty International later stated it was “a deliberate attack on a civilian object and as such constitutes a war crime.”
Chinese Embassy, Belgrade, Serbia (May 7, 1999)

Also during the Kosovo war, the U.S. bombed the Chinese embassy in Serbia’s capital, killing three staff and wounding more than 20. The defense secretary at the time, William Cohen, said it was a terrible mistake: “One of our planes attacked the wrong target because the bombing instructions were based on an outdated map.” The Observer newspaper in the U.K. later reported the U.S. had in fact deliberately targeted the embassy “after discovering it was being used to transmit Yugoslav army communications.” The Observer quoted “a source in the U.S. National Imagery and Mapping Agency” calling Cohen’s version of events “a damned lie.” Prodded by the media watchdog organization Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting, the New York Times produced its own investigation finding “no evidence that the bombing of the embassy had been a deliberate act,” but rather that it had been caused by a “bizarre chain of missteps.” The article concluded by quoting Porter Goss, then chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, as saying he believed the bombing was not deliberate – “unless some people are lying to me.”
Red Cross complex, Kabul, Afghanistan (October 16 and October 26, 2001)

At the beginning of the U.S-led invasion of Afghanistan, the U.S. attacked the complex housing the International Committee of the Red Cross in Kabul. In an attempt to prevent such incidents in the future, the U.S. conducted detailed discussions with the Red Cross about the location of all of its installations in the country. Then the U.S. bombed the same complex again. The second attack destroyed warehouses containing tons of food and supplies for refugees. “Whoever is responsible will have to come to Geneva for a formal explanation,” said a Red Cross spokesperson. “Firing, shooting, bombing, a warehouse clearly marked with the Red Cross emblem is a very serious incident. … Now we’ve got 55,000 people without that food or blankets, with nothing at all.”
Al Jazeera office, Kabul, Afghanistan (November 13, 2001)

Several weeks after the Red Cross attacks, the U.S. bombed the Kabul bureau of Al Jazeera, destroying it and damaging the nearby office of the BBC. Al Jazeera’s managing director said the channel had repeatedly informed the U.S. military of its office’s location.
Al Jazeera office, Baghdad, Iraq (April 8, 2003)

Soon after the start of the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, the U.S. bombed the Baghdad office of Al Jazeera, killing reporter Tarek Ayoub and injuring another journalist. David Blunkett, the British home secretary at the time, subsequently revealed that a few weeks before the attack he had urged Prime Minister Tony Blair to bomb Al Jazeera’s transmitter in Baghdad. Blunkett argued, “I don’t think that there are targets in a war that you can rule out because you don’t actually have military personnel inside them if they are attempting to win a propaganda battle on behalf of your enemy.”
In 2005, the British newspaper The Mirror reported on a British government memorandum recording an April 16, 2004, conversation between Blair and President Bush at the height of the U.S. assault on Fallujah in Iraq. The Bush administration was infuriated by Al Jazeera’s coverage of Fallujah, and according to The Mirror, Bush had wanted to bomb the channel at its Qatar headquarters and elsewhere. However, the article says, Blair argued him out of it. Blair subsequently called The Mirror’s claims a “conspiracy theory.” Meanwhile, his attorney general threatened to use the Official Secrets Act to prosecute any news outlet that published further information about the memo, and, in a secret trial, did in fact prosecute and send to jail a civil servant for leaking it.
Palestine Hotel, Baghdad, Iraq (April 8, 2003)
The same day as the 2003 bombing of the Al Jazeera office in Baghdad, a U.S. tank fired a shell at the 15th floor of the Palestine Hotel, where most foreign journalists were then staying. Two reporters were killed: Taras Protsyuk, a cameraman for Reuters, and Jose Couso, a cameraman for the Spanish network Telecinco. An investigation by the Committee to Protect Journalists concluded that the attack, “while not deliberate, was avoidable.”
This story has been updated to include the April 8, 2003, attack on the Palestine Hotel in Baghdad.

Saudi Arabia Continues Hiring Spree of American Lobbyists, Public Relations Experts

Photo: Saud Loeb/AFP/Getty Images

Saudi Arabia Continues Hiring Spree of American Lobbyists, Public Relations Experts

Oct. 5 2015, 4:53 p.m.
Saudi Arabia is in the market for a better reputation in Washington, D.C.
In September alone, foreign lobbying disclosure documents show the Saudi government signing deals with PR powerhouse Edelman and lobbying leviathan the Podesta Group, according to recent disclosures.
Edelman, the largest privately owned public relations agency in the world, is known for helping clients win favorable media coverage on mainstream outlets. The Podesta Group is a lobbying firm founded by Tony Podesta, a major fundraiser for the Hillary Clinton presidential campaign.
The new signings are the latest in a year-long hiring spree by the Persian Gulf state as it further builds up its already formidable political arsenal inside the Beltway. The Saudi Arabian Royal Embassy did not respond to a request for comment.
In March, the Saudi Royal Embassy retained two influential lobbying firms, DLA Piper and Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman. DLA Piper, for instance, employs a small army of former government officials, including retired U.S. Sens. Saxby Chambliss and George Mitchell. Also in March, the embassy retained two firms that specialize in analyzing big data for political clients, Targeted Victory and Zignal Labs.
Saudi Arabia’s political operation already includes former Sen. Norm Coleman, R-Minn., who chairs one of the largest Republican Super PACs in the country, as well as the public relations firm MSLGROUP/Qorvis, and Saudi Aramco, the state-owned oil company that funds several influential American political groups, including the American Petroleum Institute. Aramco’s U.S. subsidiary, Saudi Refining, is a registered agent of the Saudi government. The government also finances a number of think tanks and universities, and has made contributions to prominent American nonprofits, including the Clinton Foundation.
The Podesta Group contract is with the Center for Studies and Media Affairs at the Saudi Royal Court. The contract, filed in the Justice Department’s foreign lobbying database, says that the firm will provide “public relations” work for the center.
It is our company policy not to comment further on our work for clients beyond what is required by law and to direct reporters and other interested parties to our clients for any additional information,” said Missi Tessier, a spokesperson for the Podesta Group, when reached for more information about the relationship.
Edelman’s contract calls for the firm to “engage with opinion influencers, establish media engagement opportunities for [sic] principal, and assist in opinion editorial placement” on behalf of the Saudi Arabian General Investment Authority.
The Saudi regime is currently facing yet another public relations crisis as the Kingdom moves to execute Ali Mohammed al-Nimr, the young son of a government critic.
The nation also faces international outcry over the widespread killing of civilians in Yemen. Since March, Saudi Arabia has led a coalition that includes the U.S., U.K., Egypt and several Persian Gulf nations to support the Yemeni government in its war against the Houthi rebels. The Saudi-led coalition has repeatedly attacked schools, hospitals, and other civilian targets, including recent reports of a wedding party that was bombed, killing over 100 people.
Last week, I spoke to a number of lawmakers about Saudi human rights abuses, but found them extremely reluctant to criticize the Kingdom. Disclosures reveal that the lobbying firms that have worked for Saudi Arabia for years communicate frequently with senior members of Congress. Beyond entrenched military and economic ties between Saudi Arabia and the United States, the Kingdom appears to be working to maintain its political clout.

Drone Flies Over NSA Complex in Germany, Dropping Leaflets

A group of activists flew a drone over a key National Security Agency complex in Germany on Friday, dropping leaflets encouraging the intelligence workers inside to quit in protest over invasive surveillance.
The site of the drone fly-by, the Dagger Complex, is a U.S. military installation south of Frankfurt. It houses the European Cryptologic Center — a major source of signals and communications intelligence in Europe for the NSA. According to German media, its 1,100 employees monitor massive amounts of communications with tools such as XKEYSCORE, one of the programs revealed by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden.
The group behind the drone mission, Intelexit, made headlines last week when it drove moving billboards past intelligence agencies in the U.S. and abroad. The billboards, framed by picturesque scenes of sunsets and American flags, include catchphrases such as “Complicit in mass surveillance and drone wars?” and “Listen to your heart, not to private phone calls,” directing observers to “exit intelligence.”
The latest campaign added a layer of symbolism with its use of a drone.
“We are inviting our many supporters to think of innovative ways to reach those who are in distress because of their role in supporting mass surveillance and drone warfare,” Sascha Fugel, a spokesperson for the campaign, said in a press release.
“Germany remains inactive and has to date taken no responsibility for the activities at the Dagger Complex,” Fugel continued. “We know that there are employees of the Dagger Complex who are experiencing great moral conflict because of their tacit involvement in spying.”
Activists who went to GCHQ headquarters, the British spying agency, were “really harassed by security/police who it seems, had already expected them,” Ariel Fischer, one of Intelexit’s organizers, wrote in an email to The Intercept. Freelance photographer Ben Grad accompanied a driver hired by Intelexit to drive around NSA headquarters in Fort Meade, Maryland. Grad told The Intercept that he and the driver took pictures on the NSA campus, but were told by security guards to delete them.
“In general, the response from the intelligence community so far has been to try and get rid of us as quickly as possible!” wrote Fischer.
Intelexit is supported by whistleblowers including Thomas Drake, a former senior NSA official who was indicted under the Espionage Act for sharing information about programs he viewed as expensive, illegal, and major risks to citizens’ privacy. Drake is featured in Intelexit’s homepage video.
According to a press release, Intelexit will be rolling out its networked support program for spies in its next phase.

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