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Posts tagged ‘The McClatchy Company’

Russia: Report Blames Syrian Rebels for Chemical Weapons Attack.


A 100-page report that Russia says it has compiled details what the country says is evidence that the Syrian rebels carried out a deadly sarin gas attack in an Aleppo suburb in March.

The document, disclosed late on Wednesday by the Russian Foreign Ministry, appeared to counter accusations that forces loyal to President Bashar Assad where behind the attack in the Khan al Asal suburb, McClatchy reports.

The foreign ministry said the report was delivered to the United Nations in July — and that it included detailed scientific analysis of samples that Russian technicians collected at the site of the alleged attack.

The investigation of the March 19 incident was conducted under strict guidelines established by the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, Russia said. The international agency governs adherence to treaties prohibiting the use of chemical weapons, according to McClatchy.

Russia said samples that its technicians had collected had been sent to OPCW-certified laboratories in Russia.

The document itself was not released, McClatchy reports.

The foreign ministry, however, drew a pointed comparison between what it said was the scientific detail of the report and the far shorter intelligence summaries that the United States, Britain, and France have released to justify claims that the Syrian government used chemical weapons against Damascus suburbs on Aug. 21.

The longest of those summaries, by the French, ran nine pages, McClatchy reports.

Further, each relies primarily on circumstantial evidence to make its case, the Russian Foreign Ministry said, and they disagree with on some details, including the number of people who died in the attack, according to McClatchy.

“The Russian report is specific,” the ministry said in a statement. “It is a scientific and technical document.”

No immediate comment was available from the United States, McClatchy reports.

© 2013 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

By Todd Beamon

McClatchy Asks Whether Obama Administration Spied on Its Reporter.


The McClatchy news organization asked National Intelligence Director James Clapper on Tuesday whether U.S. intelligence agencies monitored cellphone calls between a McClatchy freelance reporter and his sources in Afghanistan.

In a letter to Clapper, Anders Gyllenhaal, McClatchy’s vice president of news, and Karole Morgan-Prager, vice president, corporate development and general counsel, called the allegations that U.S. intelligence agencies helped target a journalist working for a U.S. news organization “disturbing.”

“Absent a well-founded, good faith belief that a journalist is engaged in terrorist activities, compiling and analyzing a journalist’s metadata would violate core First Amendment principles, and U.S. law,” Gyllenhaal and Morgan-Prager wrote.

They asked Clapper whether any U.S. intelligence agencies helped in the “collection, use or analysis” of any metadata from McClatchy freelancer Jon Stephenson’s cellphone while he worked in Afghanistan last year.

Metadata includes logs and timing of phone calls and lists of Internet communications, but does not include the actual contents of communications.

“We regard any targeted collection of the metadata of our journalists as a serious interference with McClatchy’s constitutional rights to gather and report the news,” the two McClatchy officials wrote.

Clapper’s office had no immediate comment late Tuesday.

Stephenson has claimed his reporting was monitored by the U.S. intelligence programs revealed by National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden on behalf of New Zealand’s military.

On Sunday, the Star-Times newspaper of New Zealand reported that the New Zealand military conspired with U.S. spy agencies to monitor Stephenson’s communications with sources in Afghanistan. New Zealand officials have denied the allegations.

Stephenson’s claim was the latest revelation in the ongoing debate over government snooping since Snowden in June revealed two top secret U.S. programs that monitor millions of Americans‘ telephone and Internet communications each day.

U.S. intelligence officials have denied Stephenson’s claim, but wouldn’t elaborate on what did happen. Other intelligence officials and experts suggested Stephenson’s phone calls to Afghan sources might have been caught up in standard military intelligence monitoring of enemy combatant’s communications.

Experts and former intelligence officials have said if Stephenson’s phone records were collected, they would have been gathered in a military intelligence sweep that is shared among allies — and has for years monitored most communications in war zones, where there is little expectation of privacy.

© Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
Source: NEWSmax.com.

Experts: Obama’s Plan to Predict Future Leakers Unlikely to Work.


President Barack Obama’s initiative to catch government leakers before they have a chance to pose a threat to national security is based on profiling techniques that are not likely to work, reports McClatchy Newspapers after reviewing documents related to the program.

Obama launched what is known as the Insider Threat Program in October 2011 after Army private Bradley Manning downloaded hundreds of thousands of documents from a classified computer network and sent them to WikiLeaks.

Under the program, millions of federal employees and contractors are directed to watch out for “high-risk persons or behaviors” among co-workers. The order covers virtually every federal department and agency, including the Peace Corps, the Department of Education, and other agencies not directly involved in national security.

According to McClatchy, workers are asked to pay close attention to the lifestyles, attitudes, and behaviors of co-workers as a means of predicting whether they might do “harm to the United States.”

Managers of special insider threat offices have “regular, timely, and, if possible, electronic access” to employees’ personnel, payroll, disciplinary and personal contact files, as well as records of their use of classified and unclassified computer networks, travel reports, and financial disclosure forms.

“In past espionage cases, we find people saw things that may have helped identify a spy, but never reported it,” Gen Barlow, a spokesman for the Office of the National Counterintelligence Executive, told McClatchy. “That is why the awareness effort of the program is to teach people not only what types of activity to report, but how to report it and why it is so important to report it.”

But experts have questioned the use of such techniques, noting that trying to predict future acts through behavioral monitoring is unproven and could lead to illegal profiling and privacy violations.

McClatchy cited a 2008 National Research Council report on detecting terrorists that concluded, “There is no consensus in the relevant scientific community or on the committee regarding whether any behavioral surveillance or physiological monitoring techniques are ready for use at all.”

“Doing something similar about predicting future leakers seems even more speculative,” said Stephen Fienberg, a professor of statistics and social science at Carnegie Mellon University and a member of the committee that wrote the report.

Caitlin Hayden, a spokeswoman for the White House National Security Council, told McClatchy the program includes extra safeguards for “civil rights, civil liberties and privacy,” adding that Manning’s leaks showed that at the time protections of classified materials were “inadequate and put our nation’s security at risk.”

Nevertheless, fast forward to the spring of 2013 and it is clear the new effort failed to prevent former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden from leaking classified information about the government’s secret surveillance programs to The Guardian and The Washington Post.

Some critics say it could also cause more harm than good.

“The answer is not to have a Stasi-like response,” Eric Feldman, a former inspector general of the National Reconnaissance Office, told McClatchy, referring to the former East Germany’s secret police.

“You’ve removed that firewall between employees seeking help and the threat that any employee who seeks help could be immediately retaliated against by this insider threat office.”

© 2013 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

By Lisa Barron

Obama Orders All Federal Employees To Engage In ‘PreCrime’ Reporting.


Looking for that Minority Report

WASHINGTON — In an initiative aimed at rooting out future leakers and other security violators, President Barack Obama has ordered federal employees to report suspicious actions of their colleagues based on behavioral profiling techniques that are not scientifically proven to work, according to experts and government documents.

obama-orders-federal-workers-to-spy-on-each-other-big-brother-new-world-order

Experts say that trying to predict future acts through behavioral monitoring is unproven and could result in illegal ethnic and racial profiling and privacy violations.

The techniques are a key pillar of the Insider Threat Program, an unprecedented government-wide crackdown under which millions of federal bureaucrats and contractors must watch out for “high-risk persons or behaviors” among co-workers. Those who fail to report them could face penalties, including criminal charges.

Obama mandated the program in an October 2011 executive order after Army Pfc. Bradley Manning downloaded hundreds of thousands of documents from a classified computer network and gave them to WikiLeaks, the anti-government secrecy group. The order covers virtually every federal department and agency, including the Peace Corps, the Department of Education and others not directly involved in national security.

Under the program, which is being implemented with little public attention, security investigations can be launched when government employees showing “indicators of insider threat behavior” are reported by co-workers, according to previously undisclosed administration documents obtained by McClatchy. Investigations also can be triggered when “suspicious user behavior” is detected by computer network monitoring and reported to “insider threat personnel.”

Federal employees and contractors are asked to pay particular attention to the lifestyles, attitudes and behaviors – like financial troubles, odd working hours or unexplained travel – of co-workers as a way to predict whether they might do “harm to the United States.” Managers of special insider threat offices will have “regular, timely, and, if possible, electronic, access” to employees’ personnel, payroll, disciplinary and “personal contact” files, as well as records of their use of classified and unclassified computer networks, polygraph results, travel reports and financial disclosure forms.

FAST-precrime-thought-detection-system-homeland-security

Over the years, numerous studies of public and private workers who’ve been caught spying, leaking classified information, stealing corporate secrets or engaging in sabotage have identified psychological profiles that could offer clues to possible threats. Administration officials want government workers trained to look for such indicators and report them so the next violation can be stopped before it happens.

“In past espionage cases, we find people saw things that may have helped identify a spy, but never reported it,” said Gene Barlow, a spokesman for the Office of the National Counterintelligence Executive, which oversees government efforts to detect threats like spies and computer hackers and is helping implement the Insider Threat Program. “That is why the awareness effort of the program is to teach people not only what types of activity to report, but how to report it and why it is so important to report it.”

But even the government’s top scientific advisers have questioned these techniques. Those experts say that trying to predict future acts through behavioral monitoring is unproven and could result in illegal ethnic and racial profiling and privacy violations.

“There is no consensus in the relevant scientific community nor on the committee regarding whether any behavioral surveillance or physiological monitoring techniques are ready for use at all,” concluded a 2008 National Research Council report on detecting terrorists. source – McClatchy

by NTEB News Desk

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