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American Resistance To Empire

THE UPCOMING CIVIL WAR IN THE ISLAMIC WORLD

THE UPCOMING CIVIL WAR IN THE ISLAMIC WORLD

Source: Katehon.com


The destabilization of the Islamic world is the grand strategy of the US in order to eliminate any alternative poles to its hegemony.

Introduction

When the Cold War ended peacefully in 1989 with the collapse of Communist bloc led by the USSR, the hope to build a just, secure and democratic world rose in the minds of many people. The ultraliberal rhetoric of globalization accompanied with developments in communication and transportation brought the nations of the world closer together. The interaction and cooperation between countries in politics, trade, tourism and culture increased. Many thinkers assumed that as the advocate of democracy, freedom and equality, the US would lead the world to a just and secure international system and no hegemony would be imposed on other countries.

Unfortunately the reality was just the opposite. Although the US promised Russians that if the USSR peacefully ended the Cold War, the West would not advance East even one centimeter, twelve ex-Communist countries joined NATO, and US and UK troops have been deployed to the Baltic countries, Poland and Romania. Even twin brothers, Russians and Ukrainians, began to fight against each other in Ukraine due to the provocations of the US and EU to isolate Ukraine from the sphere of the Slavic world and incorporate her into Western Bloc as a buffer zone and exploit the cheap labor, good quality commodities, and 45 million market for EU export products.

The grand strategy of the US is always to hinder any pole that can empower Heartland, Eurasia. Assuming itself to be invincible and the sole lord of the world, the US chose the Islamic world as the second target that must be weakened. After the collapse of the Communist bloc, in addition to surrounding Russia, a war against the Islamic world was very crucial for the US to eliminate the potential pole that could empower the Heartland,which in the long run can challenge the US hegemony, especially if cooperation between the Islamic world and Slavic world or China and the Pacific can be established. Unsurprisingly, the US lost no time, and 434 days after the fall of the Berlin Wall, it invaded Iraq in the first days of 1991.

Why Was Iraq Selected As The First Country To Be Destabilized?

Iraq was a consciously selected target and most suitable country for the US invasion to destabilize the Islamic world. When we talk about the Islamic world, we mean mainly Arabs, Turks, Persians and Kurds in terms of ethnicity, and Sunnis and Shiites in terms of sects. Of course, there are considerable amounts of Muslims living in other parts of world such as Pakistan, Indonesia, etc., but the center of the Islamic world is Mesopotamia.

Iraq’s population is composed of Sunni Arabs, Shiite Arabs, Sunni Kurds, Sunni and Shiite Turks (Turkomans), and Iraq is surrounded by Iran, Turkey, Syria, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait. Therefore, Iraq, not only due to her geographical location, but also her uniqueness as a small example of the Islamic world both in terms of ethnicities and sects, is the most suitable country to destabilize the whole Islamic World.

On the other hand, Iraq was ruled by the Sunni Arab Saddam Hussein since 1979, and he engaged in a war against Iran between 1980 and 1988. Most of the Arab countries supported Iraq against Iran to defend Arab frontiers in the East. But half of the population of Iraq is Shiite Arab, and the war against a Shiite country discomforted them. Moreover, the suppressing of the Kurds in the North of Iraq by the Saddam Hussein regime, and massacres especially in Halabja by using chemical weapons, are unforgettable for Kurds.

Consequently, as a Sunni Arab, Saddam Hussein’s reign paved the way for tensions between Sunnis and Shiites, Arabs and Persians, Kurds and Arabs. The US exploited the situation, and destabilization of the Islamic world began from Iraq with the First Gulf War in 1991, and finally the direct invasion of the county in 2003 by the US.

Events went as the US planned and Iraq was de facto divided into three parts. In the North of the country, the Kurds founded autonomous semi-independent government, in the South and Baghdad, Shiite Arabs ruled, and in the center, Sunnis lived without an administration. Bombings between Sunnis and Shiites began which increased tension in the country in terms of inter-sect relations. Shiites and Kurds founded their own semi-regular armies other than the national army of the Iraq. Due to the separation in terms of sect and ethnicity accompanied by the fight against the US invasion, radical Salafi organizations found base among Sunni Arabs which finally resulted in the establishment of ISIS. On the other hand, the foundation of an autonomous Kurdish Region in the North threatened Turkey, Syria and Iran, where Kurdish minorities live. Therefore Pandora’s box was opened in the Islamic world.

Prototype Civil War In the Islamic World

Currently, the struggle in Iraq between Sunni and Shiite Arabs and Kurds is ongoing. Especially after the recapturing of Mosul from ISIS, the fate of the country will be clearer. In the South, Shiite Arabs are supported by Iran, while Sunni Arabs are not represented in the Iraq government and to some extent Turkey and Saudi Arabia try to represent their interests. Kurds are divided also. Barzani Kurds are supported by Turkey while the Talabani side is closer to Iran. Unfortunately, in such a separated situation, Iraq is far from unity and stabilization in the near future.

The Syrian Civil War was the most devastating and bloodiest scene of the the so-called Arab Spring (It is better to say “Arab Winter”). Not only the local people of Syria – Sunni Arabs, Allewites (close to Shiites), Kurds, and Turkomans – but also Turkey, Iran, and Saudi Arabia directly or via proxies engaged and fought each other in the Syrian Civil War. Though the ceasefire is obeyed generally in the country between moderate opponents and the Assad regime, the fight against ISIS is ongoing and the future of the country is unclear as the tension and clashes continue between Turkey and Syrian Kurds, Turkey and Russia’s direct military interventions, and the influx of foreign warriors such as Shiite Hezbollah, Salafi Al Nusra. The current situation in Syria is similar to Iraq in terms of territorial disunity and destabilization.

The Yemeni Civil War relying on sectarian differences between Sunni and Shiite Arabs has divided the country, and Saudi Arabia with its Arab allies  have interfered directly. There is no hope for ending the conflict in the short run, and it is the scene of a war between Saudi Arabia and Iran.

Furthermore, Pakistan and Lebanon are other unstable countries where Sunni-Shiite clashes may easily increase to a bloodier degree. In Pakistan, suicide bombings occur between Sunnis and Shiites and in Lebanon Shiites have the armed organization Hezbollah. While Hezbollah is supported by Iran, Sunni Muslims are supported by Turkey and Saudi Arabia. If the civil war in the Islamic world spreads to a greater area, Israel, India, Azerbaijan, and Armenia can be other candidates to be involved in military clashes.

Consequently in Iraq, Syria, and Yemen, the core of the Islamic world in terms of ethnicity and sects (Arabs, Turks, Persians and Kurds and Sunnis and Shiites) either directly or via proxies are at war against each other. Unfortunately, if the main actors of the Islamic world do not change their policies against each other, the ongoing battles are only prototypes and signal a great civil war in the Islamic world. The great civil war in the Islamic world will be not via proxies such as in Iraq, Syria and Yemen, but direct and conventional, i.e. regular armies and devastating armaments will be used. War will overwhelm and ruin the Middle East and Islamic world.

Possible Battlefields In The Islamic World Civil War

Saudi Arabia & Gulf Kingdoms vs Iran

The Sunni Arab Kingdoms – United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Bahrain, Kuwait, and Oman – act together under the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) led by Saudi Arabia. Although Sunni leaderships exist in GCC countries, 70% of the population of Bahrain, 15% of the population of Saudi Arabia, and 30% of the population of Kuwait is composed of Shiites. Unrest and protests among Shiites increased with the Arab Spring especially in Bahrain, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia. GCC countries have close military and political ties with the US, UK, and Turkey. Although they invest heavily in armaments, they need foreign military support against Iran. In addition to US and UK military bases in GCC, Turkey established a military base in Qatar last year.

GCC kingdoms are in a defensive position against Iran currently. Iran’s military power solely based on local sources may easily crush GCC countries. Incidents in Iraq, Syria and Yemen are in favor of Iran, and GCC countries are on the losing side regionally. Iran’s operational military capacity and capability via proxies is another factor that threats GCC countries where considerable Shiite populations live. Hezbollah in Lebanon and Syria and Shiite militias in Iraq are acting as semi-professional armies. Although the GCC mainly rely on US and UK military assistance, Turkey becomes an ally against Iran due to increasing tension between Turkey and Iran. On the other hand, the GCC try to incorporate other Arab and African Muslim Sunni countries under the umbrella of an Islamic Army against Iran.

Turkey vs Iran

Turkey is struggling against the Kurdish separatist PKK since 1984. After the US military intervention in Iraq in 1991, Kurds in the North of Iraq declared autonomy. Turkey firstly perceived the Iraqi Kurds as a threat to her territorial unity, but later Turkey and Iraq Kurds began to cooperatively act against Shiites in Iraq. Turkey treated Iraq’s Kurds as a buffer to Shiite Arabs and Iran’s influence in Iraq. On the other hand, Iraqi Kurds regard Turkey as an ally for their existence and an economic partner. After the Syrian Civil War, the PKK-linked YPG began to dominate the Syrian Kurds in Northern Syria. Unlike Iraqi Kurds, Syrian Kurds have close linguistic and kinship ties with the Kurds living in the southeastern regions of Turkey.

Moreover the US has let the YPG rule the Sunni Arab-populated parts of Syria once ruled by ISIS. Therefore, in addition to her territorial unity concerns, Turkey regards the US and Iran’s efforts as an attempt to found a Kurdish and Shiite belt in Syria and Iraq to break the ties of Sunni Turks and Sunni Arabs. The historical ties between Turks and Sunni Arabs date back to the time of the Ottoman Empire. The Ottomans ruled all of the Arab territories and western parts of Iran where Shiite Azerbaijani Turks live. The Turks and Arabs’ alliance against Iran continued for centuries and Iran never had an opportunity to impose hegemony on the Arab world, which was under the protection of Sunni Turks. Contrary to the GCC countries, as the second largest army of NATO, Turkey has a strong military power that can compete against Iran.

Furthermore both Turkey and Iran have Kurdish minority problems that are not solved yet. On the other hand, 20% of the population of Iran living in the northern provinces are Azerbaijani Turks who are the same nation as Turkey’s Turks. In a clash between Turkey and Iran, their attitude towards this sect and ethnicity and choice will be very crucial ing determining the result of war.

Turkey vs Kurds: Turks and Kurds have distinct historical relations. In Ottoman times, Kurds acted against Shiite Iran as a buffer layer. All of the Kurds are Sunni Muslim and loyal to the Muslim Caliphate in Istanbul. After the collapse of the Ottoman Empire and the founding of the modern nation-state of Turkey that is founded mainly on a Turkish majority, the Kurds began to be alienated and in 1984 armed struggle for secession was initiated by the PKK. After the collapse of the Ottoman Empire, the Kurds were separated into four countries: Turkey, Syria, Iraq, and Iran. The Kurdish PKK in Turkey and the PKK-linked YPG in Syria that dominates Northern Syria are the current foes of Turkey. On the other hand, Iraqi Kurds are divided. While the Barzani side acts in collaboration with Turkey, the Talabani side is an ally of Iran.

Kurds vs Arabs: Because of the US military intervention in Iraq and Syrian Civil War, the clashes are mainly on a sectarian basis between Arabs. Kurds exploited the intra-Arab conflicts and founded semi-independent regimes in the northern parts of those countries. Kurds are regarded as threats to the central Arab governments of both Iraq and Syria although the former is ruled by Sunni and the latter by Alawites. Therefore, in a comprehensive civil war in the Islamic world, it would be no surprise to witness Arab-Kurd battles.

Lebanon Scene: Lebanon, composed of Sunni and Shiites Muslims as well as Christians, and internal politics based on sharp religious and sectarian identities, is a perfect scene where harsh clashes could take place between Sunnis and Shiites. Refugees from Palestine and Syria, Syrian and Israel occupation in the last two decades, Hezbollah’s presence and its active interference in the Syrian Civil War all add to the complexity of the country. Iran’s support for Hezbollah against Israel and Sunni opponents, Turkey and Saudi Arabia’s backing for Sunni Lebanese Arabs and Palestinian refugees, Israel’s security concerns and military operations against both Hezbollah and Palestinian armed groups can easily draw the country into the civil war in the Islamic World.

Pakistan Scene: Pakistan as a Sunni Muslim country, due to its geographic location, is a historical and natural ally of Turkey. Squeezed between India and Shiite Iran, it may be another bloody scene in the civil war of the Islamic World. The country currently faces bombing attacks between Sunnis and Shiites, and radical Islamist armed groups, which originated in unstable Afghanistan, struggle against the government. On the other hand, the unsolved Jammu and Kashmir problem with India, where Muslims and Indians sometimes clash, is another source of instability for Pakistan.

Azerbaijan Scene: “The same nation, two countries” is the slogan of Turks in Turkey and Azeri Turks in Azerbaijan which expresses the degree of close ties between Turkey and Azerbaijan. On the other hand, “the same nation but different sect” is the differentiating point in Turkey-Azerbaijan relations. If Turkey initiates a nationalistic revolt in South Azerbaijan that is part of Iran, then Azeri Turks have to choose either ethnicity or their Shiite sect. Their choice is extremely important to determining the fate of the war between Turkey and Iran. In such a situation, Armenia could enter the war against Azerbaijan either as an ally of Iran against Turks, or just to exploit the war conditions to consolidate her military presence in Nagorno-Karabakh in Azerbaijan.

War Scenario Of The Civil War In The Islamic World

In 1979, when the Islamic Revolution took place in Iran, the biggest threat to Saudi Arabia and the Gulf Kingdoms was the very fact of possible influence on their populations to overthrow the pro-Western monarchies and establish an Islamic type of governments in those countries. The US invasion in Iraq, followed by the Syrian and Yemen Civil War, removed the tension to a Sunni-Shiite civil war that is carried on via proxies. Turkey has joined the conflict mainly to cope with Kurdish separatism. Although Kurds are Sunni Muslim, they have nationalistic concerns and try to exploit the conflicts in the Middle East to gain their independence from Iraq, Iran, Turkey, and Iran.

Iran’s next step will be the most important breaking point to determine the fate of the civil war in the Islamic world. If Iran, via her armed proxies in Iraq, interferes in Kuwait and/or Bahrain, then Saudi Arabia, UAE, and Qatar will immediately respond heavily. The next step could be direct clashes in the Persian Gulf between Iran and the Arab Kingdoms. At this point, with the arbitration of Russia and Turkey, the tension of the war can be decreased, otherwise Turkey enters Northern Iraq in order to hit PKK military camps and protect Sunni Arabs and Barzani Kurds. If the Iraqi central government and Shiite militias respond to Turkey, then Syrian Kurds will also join the war against Turkey. Turkey’s response will be to drawn Iran’s Azeri Turks into the conflict in order to weaken Iran internally. Iran will rush to promote Armenian efforts against Azerbaijan in order to block possible support from Azerbaijan to Azeri Turks in Iran.

To exploit these war conditions, Israel will not wait to hit Shiite Hezbollah in Lebanon. Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and other Gulf Kingdoms will use their close ties with Sunni Palestinian armed groups to weaken Hezbollah in Lebanon and Syria. As a response, if Iran provokes India to exploit the Jammu Kashmir conflict and block Pakistan’s possible assistance to Turkey, then the armed Uzbek Turks and Sunni Islamic groups in Afghanistan will be the proxies of Turkey and Saudi Arabia against Iran.

This potential civil war in the Islamic world would cause millions of casualties, change the frontiers of the Middle East, ruin towns and the economy of Islamic countries, and the Islamic world would need at least a century to recover. In this scenario, outside actors such as the US, Russia and China, are not excluded. In fact, their attitudes will determine the conclusion of the war. If they directly intervene militarily, this means the beginning of the Third World War.

Conclusion

The destabilization of the Islamic world is the grand strategy of the US in order to eliminate any alternative poles to its hegemony. Russia, China, India, and the EU should be aware of this danger that is against multipolarity, and mediate between Sunnis and Shiites to avoid a civil war in the Islamic world while it is still in the preliminary stage. Muslim countries should seek dialogue and instead of using sectarian beliefs for their national interests, prefer peace and diplomacy to solve conflicts, focus on economic development to prevent poverty that feeds unrest among Muslims, democratize their political systems to represent different groups in their countries, and contribute to world civilization by interacting with other civilizations in terms of peace, diplomacy, economic, and cultural cooperation.

America is in a pre-Civil War State

Back to the Roots: America is in a pre-Civil War State

The following is from an interview transcript

 

In my opinion, in regards to Trump’s presidency and the attempt by globalist forces to use Russia in particular to weaken or even reverse the results of the elections, it is important to understand the historical context of it.

This is something that is not widely reported in the media because it requires a more intellectual format than most of the media is used to.

It’s important to see that the Trump phenomenon is a kind of a resurrection of the American people against the occupation of the federal government.

In historical terms, the Founding Fathers, when they were thinking about the American Constitution, they were familiar with governing model of Russia, France and England. All these countries were governed from centers. The system that the Founding Fathers wanted to put in place was completely opposite. They wanted to distribute power to the states. They didn’t want all power in Washington D.C.

The American Constitution gives very limited power to the central government – only those powers that are related to foreign relations and common defense. Therefore ,the Federal Government used to have very limited power and the states could basically have almost complete self-ruled autonomy with respect to the Constitution.

But then, starting in the 1960’s, the Federal Government used three instruments to take over power from the states and bring it to Washington D.C.

The first instrument was human rights. What the Federal Government did and is still doing today is defending minority groups. These minority groups, first of all African Americans, were being hurt and imposed upon. So, they declared that the rights of these groups need to be protected. Then they federalized everything that has to do with that group. For example, in 1969, schools in America that used to be segregated were desegregated. In order to do that, the government had to deploy the American federal military to accomplish that result. The next group was homosexuals, and in recent time we are talking about transgenders. Using this one instrument, a tremendous area of control that used to belong to the states, especially when it comes to education and criminal justice, was transferred from the states to the center, Washington.

The second instrument was environmental policy. Under various acts and regulations like the “Clean Air and Water Act”, major areas of state control, such as land use, were transferred from the states to the Federal Government. For instance, a state that has its economy based on coal extraction like it was in Virginia, would want to mine coal, because that’s where the money comes from. But the Federal Government is using Environmental Protection Agency to stop that by putting in place regulations that have to do with how water is damaged and so forth, so they make it impossible to mine coal. Therefore, states that used to have wealth all of a sudden became powerless and poor.

The third tool that the government used to take power from the states to the center was constant conflict, and this is really where Russia comes in. Everything about national defense and foreign relations belongs to the Federal Government, but the Founding Fathers wanted American to mind its own business, to be friendly to other countries and not interfere in affairs, not join any  complicated alliances. But later, after the First World War and during the Second World War, the United States became much more involved. Then, starting with Churchill’s Iron Curtain in 1946, there was this Cold War that many Americans loved because it made them rich. The military industrial complex was taking over the country in the late ’50’s. Back then, it wasn’t even the small fraction of what it is today. So, many people loved this idea of constant conflict because they could justify the uncontrollable growth of Federal Government and justify money that went from the states to the Federal Government in order to build more nuclear weapons and other arms, to create surveillance agencies and so on. When the Cold War ended with the collapse of Soviet Union in 1990, for about ten years those people in Washington were frustrated and disappointed, they had interests in this idea of constant war. So, when the 9/11 attacks happened, there was a kind of relief in the American Industrial Military Complex and in Washington. Now they could create another permanent war – the war on terror.

It’s very clear that in America – whether on the Left and on the Right or people who support Trump or not – everybody is tired of these endless Middle Eastern wars. This idea of keeping war alive forever didn’t really work. What was beautiful with the Cold War from the American perspective is that they could justify spending a lot of money but nobody really shot anybody on a battlefield and nobody expected to win. However, when we are talking about ISIS, you’re suppose to win.

What they are trying to do now is transition from this constant war in the Middle East back to Russia. And that is really the foundation of the whole idea of war against Trump: using Russia as a cover. The globalists need Russia as a permanent enemy against whom you can never win but you can always fight.

So, through these three instruments, America stopped being in reality a constitutional republic and became a kind of meritocratic oligarchy. If you graduated from one of the prestigious American universities like Harvard or Princeton, if you know the right people, you can start working for the American bureaucracy. And it doesn’t matter who the president is, there is no difference between George Bush and Obama. The country is really governed by this enormous bureaucracy.

It took a long time, but finally people in places like Ohio and Kentucky and even Michigan decided that that’s enough. They couldn’t recognize their own country anymore. People in the outlying areas are living worse than they lived twenty years ago.

So, along came somebody like Donald Trump, who is a classic kind of revolutionary figure. He is a reaction against all this transfer of power. Trump promised that he will undo all three of those instruments that the Federal Government used to steal power. He wants to cut the budget of the Environmental Protection Agency by one third; he is already undoing these regulations that make it impossible to mine coal and so on; as for human rights side he is stopping this whole transgender idea and giving much more power back to the states; and what the most important is that Trump is against this permanent war against Russia. This idea was impossible for the globalists.

If Trump succeeds, this means the end of this takeover of America by the bureaucrats and the return of America to its constitutional roots. Enormous amount of money went from the state to Washington, and when people have that money and power, they are not likely to give it back.

That’s what is happening now.

From 97% to 99% of American bureaucrats voted for Hillary. In states like Western Virginia, more than 70% voted for Trump. Therefore, America is now divided into two countries. That’s why we have this pre-Civil War atmosphere. In the states, there is about 2/3 of the population against globalization, but in Washington everybody is pro-globalization. The power equation is what will now determine the outcome of this.

As president, Trump has very limited power because the bureaucracy is completely against him, and these people don’t care about Constitution. Unfortunately, in this kind of struggle, there will be no truth, there will be a winner or loser. On Trump’s side, there are the people who have guns and most of the military, on the other side there is the Deep State – the oligarchs and bureaucrats who have all the information and the media. And it will be interesting who will win.

Related links

US Border Agents Can Now Search Your Cell Phone Upon Entry Into Our Police State

 

 

 

http://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/american-citizens-u-s-border-agents-can-search-your-cellphone-n732746?google_editors_picks=true

These individuals shown have all reported encounters with officers at U.S. border checkpoints. Officers have been removing Americans from airport terminals or their vehicles, demanding access to citizens’ SmartPhones and social media accounts. From left to right in the top row are: Adeel Syed, Akram Shibly, Kelly McCormick, Ali Khan, Mohammed Mamun, Bilal Farooqi, and Haisam Elsharkawi. On the bottom row, from left to right are: Zainab Merchant, Mohammed Hossain, Mohammed Rasheed, Sidd Bikkannavar, Rizwan Merchant, and Mohammed Bhamji.

When Buffalo, New York couple Akram Shibly and Kelly McCormick returned to the U.S. from a trip to Toronto on Jan. 1, 2017, U.S. Customs & Border Protection officers held them for two hours, took their cellphones and demanded their passwords.

“It just felt like a gross violation of our rights,” said Shibly, a 23-year-old filmmaker born and raised in New York. But he and McCormick complied, and their phones were searched.

Three days later, they returned from another trip to Canada and were stopped again by CBP.

“One of the officers calls out to me and says, ‘Hey, give me your phone,'” recalled Shibly. “And I said, ‘No, because I already went through this.'”

The officer asked a second time.

Watch Cynthia McFadden on Nightly News for More

Within seconds, he was surrounded: one man held his legs, another squeezed his throat from behind. A third reached into his pocket, pulling out his phone. McCormick watched her boyfriend’s face turn red as the officer’s chokehold tightened.

Then they asked McCormick for her phone.

“I was not about to get tackled,” she said. She handed it over.

American citizens Akram Shibly, left, and Kelly McCormick had their phones searched as they reentered the U.S. at Niagara Falls, New York on two separate trips in January 2017. They say Shibly was put in a chokehold when he refused to hand over his phone on the second crossing. Michael Adamucci / for NBC News

Shibly and McCormick’s experience is not unique. In 25 cases examined by NBC News, American citizens said that CBP officers at airports and border crossings demanded that they hand over their phones and their passwords, or unlock them.

The travelers came from across the nation, and were both naturalized citizens and people born and raised on American soil. They traveled by plane and by car at different times through different states. Businessmen, couples, senior citizens, and families with young kids, questioned, searched, and detained for hours when they tried to enter or leave the U.S. None were on terror watchlists. One had a speeding ticket. Some were asked about their religion and their ethnic origins, and had the validity of their U.S. citizenship questioned.

What most of them have in common — 23 of the 25 — is that they are Muslim, like Shibly, whose parents are from Syria.

Data provided by the Department of Homeland Security shows that searches of cellphones by border agents has exploded, growing fivefold in just one year, from fewer than 5,000 in 2015 to nearly 25,000 in 2016.

According to DHS officials, 2017 will be a blockbuster year. Five-thousand devices were searched in February alone, more than in all of 2015.

“That’s shocking,” said Mary Ellen Callahan, former chief privacy officer at the Department of Homeland Security. She wrote the rules and restrictions on how CBP should conduct electronic searches back in 2009. “That [increase] was clearly a conscious strategy, that’s not happenstance.”

“This really puts at risk both the security and liberty of the American people,” said Senator Ron Wyden, D-Oregon. “Law abiding Americans are being caught up in this digital dragnet.”

“This is just going to grow and grow and grow,” said Senator Wyden. “There’s tremendous potential for abuse here.”

What Changed?

What CBP agents call “detaining” cellphones didn’t start after Donald Trump’s election. The practice began a decade ago, late in the George W. Bush administration, but was highly focused on specific individuals.

The more aggressive tactics of the past two years, two senior intelligence officials told NBC News, were sparked by a string of domestic incidents in 2015 and 2016 in which the watch list system and the FBI failed to stop American citizens from conducting attacks. The searches also reflect new abilities to extract contact lists, travel patterns and other data from phones very quickly.

DHS has published 24 reports detailing its extensive technological capability to forensically extract data from mobile devices, regardless of password protection on most Apple and Android phones. The reports document its proven ability to access deleted call logs, videos, photos, and emails to name a few, in addition to the Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram apps.

But the officials caution that rhetoric about a Muslim registry and ban during the presidential campaign also seems to have emboldened federal agents to act more forcefully.

“The shackles are off,” said Hugh Handeyside, a staff attorney with the ACLU’s National Security Project. “We see individual officers and perhaps supervisors as well pushing those limits, exceeding their authority and violating people’s rights.”

And multiple sources told NBC News that law enforcement and the Intelligence Community are exploiting a loophole to collect intelligence.

Under the Fourth Amendment, law enforcement needs at least reasonable suspicion if they want to search people or their possessions within the United States. But not at border crossings, and not at airport terminals.

“The Fourth Amendment, even for U.S. citizens, doesn’t apply at the border,” said Callahan. “That’s under case law that goes back 150 years.”

Customs and Border officers can search travelers without any level of suspicion. They have the legal authority to go through any object crossing the border within 100 miles, including smartphones and laptops. They have the right to take devices away from travelers for five days without providing justification. In the absence of probable cause, however, they have to give the devices back.

CBP also searches people on behalf of other federal law enforcement agencies, sending its findings back to partners in the DEA, FBI, Treasury and the National Counterterrorism Center, among others.

Callahan thinks that CBP’s spike in searches means it is exploiting the loophole “in order to get information they otherwise might hot have been able to.”

On January 31, an engineer from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory was pulled into additional screening upon his return to the U.S. after a two-week vacation in Chile. Despite being cleared by the Global Entry program, Sidd Bikkannavar received an “X” on his customs form. He is not Muslim, and he is not from any of the seven countries named in President Trump’s original “travel ban” executive order. Half his family comes from India but he was born and raised in California.

Bikkannavar was brought into a closed room and told to hand over his phone and passcode. He paid particular notice to the form CBP handed him which explained it had the right to copy the contents of the phone, and that the penalty for refusal was “detention.”

“I didn’t know if that meant detention of the phone or me and I didn’t want to find out,” said Bikkannavar. He tried to refuse but the officer repeatedly demanded the PIN. Eventually he acquiesced.

“Once they had that, they had everything,” Bikkannavar said. That access allowed CBP officers to review the backend of his social media accounts, work emails, call and text history, photos and other apps. He had expected security might physically search any travelers for potential weapons but accessing his digital data felt different. “Your whole digital life is on your phone.”

The officers disappeared with his phone and PIN. They returned 30 minutes later and let him go home.

Sidd Bikkannavar poses for a portrait in 2014. Takashi Akaishi

CBP also regularly searches people leaving the country.

On February 9, Haisam Elsharkawi was stopped by security while trying to board his flight out of Los Angeles International Airport. He said that six Customs officers told him he was randomly selected. They demanded access to his phone and when he refused, Elsharkawi said they handcuffed him, locked him in the airport’s lower level and asked questions including how he became a citizen. Elsharkawi thought he knew his rights and demanded access to legal counsel.

“They said if I need a lawyer, then I must be guilty of something,” said Elsharkawi, and Egyptian-born Muslim and naturalized U.S. citizen. After four hours of questioning in detention, he unlocked his smartphone and, after a search, was eventually released. Elsharkawi said he intends to sue the Department of Homeland Security.

The current policy has not been updated since 2009. Jayson Ahern, who served in CBP under both Bush and Obama, signed off on the current policy. He said the electronic searches are supposed to be based on specific, articulable facts that raise security concerns. They are not meant to be random or routine or applied liberally to border crossers. “That’s reckless and that’s how you would lose the authority, never mind the policy.”

The Customs & Border Patrol policy manual says that electronic devices fall under the same extended search doctrine that allows them to scan bags in the typical security line.

“As the threat landscape changes, so does CBP,” a spokesperson told NBC News.

Since the policy was written in 2009, legal advocates argue, several court cases have set new precedents that could make some CBP electronic searches illegal.

Several former DHS officials pointed to a 2014 Supreme Court ruling in Riley v California that determined law enforcement needed a warrant to search electronic devices when a person is being arrested. The court ruled unanimously, and Chief Justice John Roberts wrote the opinion.

“Modern cellphones are not just another technological convenience. With all they contain and all they may reveal, they hold for many Americans ‘the privacies of life,'” wrote Roberts. “The fact that technology now allows an individual to carry such information in his hand does not make the information any less worthy of the protection for which the Founders fought.”

Because that case happened outside of the border context, however, CBP lawyers have repeatedly asserted in court that the ruling does not apply to border searches.

For now a Department of Justice internal bulletin has instructed that, unless border officers have a search warrant, they need to take protective measures to limit intrusions, and make sure their searches do not access travelers’ digital cloud data. The ‘cloud’ is all content not directly stored on a device, which includes anything requiring internet to access, like email and social media.

Former DHS officials who helped design and implement the search policy said they agreed with that guidance.

Wyden Pushes to Change the Policy

On February 20, Sen. Wyden wrote to DHS Secretary John Kelly demanding details on electronic search-practices used on U.S. citizens, and referred to the extent of electronic searches as government “overreach”. As of publication, he had yet to receive an answer.

Now Sen. Wyden says that as early as next week he plans to propose a bill that would require CBP to at least obtain a warrant to search electronics of U.S. citizens, and explicitly prevent officers from demanding passwords.

“The old rules … seem to be on the way to being tossed in the garbage can,” said Senator Wyden. “I think it is time to update the law.”

Akram Shibly at home in Buffalo, Sunday March, 12, 2017. Michael Adamucci / for NBC News

Asked about the Shibly case, a CBP spokesperson declined to comment, but said the Homeland Security Inspector General is investigating. The spokesperson said the agency can’t comment on open investigations or particular travelers, but that it “firmly denies any accusations of racially profiling travelers based on nationality, race, sex, religion, faith, or spiritual beliefs.”

Explaining the sharp increase in electronic searches, a department spokesperson told NBC News: “CBP has adapted and adjusted to align with current threat information, which is based on intelligence.” A spokesman also noted that searches of citizens leaving the U.S. protect against the theft of American industrial and national security secrets.

After repeated communications, the Department of Homeland Security never responded to NBC News’ requests for comments. Nonetheless, the Homeland Security Inspector General is currently auditing CBP’s electronic search practices.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) also has filed two dozen complaints against CBP this year for issues profiling Muslim Americans. CAIR and the Electronic Frontier Foundation are considering legal action against the government for what they consider to be unconstitutional searches at the border.

China ready to neutralise THAAD After US Deployment

 

Catherine Wong Catherine Wong

The military will deploy its own system before Seoul sets up the American one, Wang Hongguang says

 

China knew it might not be able to stop Seoul deploying a US anti-missile system and was prepared to counter with its own anti-radar equipment, a retired PLA general said on Monday.

The comments by Wang Hongguang came as a South Korean court’s decision to uphold the impeachment of Park Geun-hye, the country’s former president, fanned hopes Seoul might put plans for the Terminal High Altitude Area ­Defence system on hold.

China vows ‘resolute’ measures as US deploys first parts of THAAD missile system to South Korea

Park supported the installation of the system to help protect South Korea against threats from North Korea, which Beijing says can peer through China’s defences.

Wang, former deputy commander of the Nanjing Military Region, said China could not take the chance the next South Korean president would change policy and roll back the deployment.

The first THAAD components arrived at the Osan Air Base in South Korea last week.

 

Wang said Beijing had measures in place to neutralise THAAD’s radars. “We will complete our deployment before THAAD begins operations. There is no need to wait for two months [before the election of the next South Korean president],” he said on the sidelines of the political sessions in Beijing. “We already have such equipment in place. We just have to move it to the right spot.”

Yue Gang, a military commentator and former People’s Liberation Army colonel, said China could either destroy THAAD or neutralise it.

“Destroying [THAAD] should only be an option during wartime,” Yue said.

But China could interfere with the system’s functions through electromagnetic technology, he said.

Yue said an ideal place to install the Chinese equipment was on the Shandong peninsula on the country’s east coast, opposite South Korea.

US must ditch deployment of THAAD missile-defence system

Fu Qianshao, an aviation equipment expert with the PLA Air Force, said China could also send planes – manned or unmanned – to fly close to THAAD to interfere with its radar signals. All the country’s armed forces had the capacity to interfere with radar signals, Fu said.

Wang said China’s chief concern was not just with South Korea’s deployment of the American system but also the United States’ broader potential to contain the region in a sophisticated web of missile defence systems in Japan, Singapore, the Philippines and even Taiwan.

The THAAD system consists of a sophisticated radar and interceptor missiles designed to spot and knock out incoming ballistic missiles.

Will Mosul Ever Be Liberated?

Russian diplomat blasts global media for hushing up Mosul tragedy

According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, more than 210,000 people have been displaced from their homes in Mosul during the Iraqi army’s operation to liberate the city

Families flee clashes between Iraqi forces and Islamic State group militants in Mosul

Families flee clashes between Iraqi forces and Islamic State group militants in Mosul  © AP Photo/Susannah George

MOSCOW, March 14. /TASS/. The global media has been carefully hushing up the tragedy of Iraq’s Mosul, Russian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova wrote on Facebook on Tuesday.

“It seems strange that not a single English-speaking girl suffering in Mosul has yet opened a Twitter account,” she commented. “It is strange that every day Christiane Amanpour (CNN’s Chief International Correspondent) fails to ask how many people were killed as a result of the international coalition’s activities in this city. It is strange that nobody mentions the humanitarian catastrophe in Mosul at important press conferences in world capitals, there are neither impressive photos, nor hashtags, nor catchy headlines in leading newspapers and magazines. It is strange that there are no actual numbers, facts and information about refugees, displaced persons and makeshift camps.”

“It is also surprising that there have been no demonstrations in front of the coalition members’ embassies, with banners and all. There is nothing,” Zakharova stressed. “The global media are going to great lengths to sweep the Mosul tragedy under the rug, taking into account the scale of the disaster.”

“It is just another example of the mainstream media’s fake news,” the Russian diplomat pointed out.

The campaign to free Iraq’s second largest city was launched on October 17, 2016. Over this period, the country’s authorities have managed to regain control over eastern Mosul and drive the extremists out of some of the western quarters. Islamic State (outlawed in Russia) terrorists were smoked out of the eastern part of the city in late January. On February 19, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi launched an offensive against the western part of Mosul.

According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, more than 210,000 people have been displaced from their homes in Mosul during the Iraqi army’s operation to liberate the city from the Islamic State militants.

“the CIA don’t just report on wars and the like, they go out and make their own,”–HST

Truman Was Right About the CIA

 

 

Say what you will about President Harry Truman, but at least he didn’t leave the White House a suspiciously rich man. He also actually went home, to Independence Missouri, and moved into a modest house he didn’t own. It was the same house belonging to his wife’s family where he had lived with Bess (and his mother-in-law!) decades earlier.

Flat broke, and unwilling to accept corporate board positions or commercial endorsements, Truman sought a much-needed loan from a local Missouri bank. For several years his sole income was a $113 monthly Army pension, and only the sale of a parcel of land he inherited with his siblings prevented him from nearly “being on relief,” as Truman allegedly stated. In the 1950s, perhaps almost entirely to alleviate Truman’s embarrassing financial situation, Congress authorized a $25,000 yearly pension for ex-presidents Truman and the much-wealthier Herbert Hoover.

Contrast this with the luxe post-presidential life of the Reagans in Bel Air, or the still-unfolding saga of the Obama’s jet-setting life between Kalorama, Palm Springs, and Oahu!

But even if Truman’s homespun honesty and common man persona sometime wore thin, he deserves enormous credit for the startling admission that he regretted creating the CIA. Speaking to a biographer in the 1960s, less than 20 years after signing the National Security Act of 1947, Truman expressed a sense of foreboding about what the agency had become, and would become:

Merle Miller: Mr. President, I know that you were responsible as President for setting up the CIA. How do you feel about it now?
Truman: I think it was a mistake. And if I’d know what was going to happen, I never would have done it.

This is decidedly not the kind of thing ex-presidents usually say. We won’t expect George W. Bush to announce his regrets over invading Iraq anytime soon. But Truman’s instincts were right, even if he couldn’t have imagined what the CIA and the entire Deep State nexus would become. In Truman’s era, spying and subterfuge were physical endeavors, involving skilled agents and analog technology. Today the covert arts don’t require James Bond, but instead a trained technician who can pull information from a server farm.

The digital revolution gives modern intelligence agencies vastly more power than they had during the Cold War spy days: they simply access existing metadata, from whatever source, rather than collect it in real time. And intelligence gathering is not just a supplementary form of warfare waged against hostile foreign governments, but also a domestic political tool that allows Deep State actors to strike at civilian and political targets. As Mr. Trump has discovered, the “strike” can consist of a coordinated media attacks, leaks from trusted officials, and even bizarre triangulations aimed at pinning his election on Vladimir Putin.

One justification Truman provides for his action is the old bureaucratic unicorn known as “consolidation,” which is often promised by politicians but never delivered. When then-congressman Ron Paul and his staff furiously argued against the creation of the Department of Homeland Security in 2002, GOP congressional leaders assured us that an entirely new department would actually consolidate several different agencies and functions. “It will save money!”, they told us, to bring all of these disparate federal employees under one efficient umbrella. Fast forward to 2017, and DHS is just another failed department with a thousand-page, $42 billion annual budget.

But Truman apparently bought into the consolidation argument:

Truman: the President needed at that time a central organization that would bring all the various intelligence reports we were getting in those days, and there must have been a dozen of them, maybe more, bring them all into one organization so that the President would get one report on what was going on in various parts of the world. Now that made sense, and that’s why I went ahead and set up what they called the Central Intelligence Agency.

Unfortunately it was only in hindsight that Truman came to see the “Iron Law of Oligarchy” at work, which posits that all organizations– particularly government bureaucracies– eventually fall under the control of an elite few. That elite, he came to understand, did not include the president or his cabinet:

Truman: But it got out of hand. The fella … the one that was in the White House after me never paid any attention to it, and it got out of hand. Why, they’ve got an organization over there in Virginia now that is practically the equal of the Pentagon in many ways. And I think I’ve told you, one Pentagon is one too many.

Now, as nearly as I can make out, those fellows in the CIA don’t just report on wars and the like, they go out and make their own, and there’s nobody to keep track of what they’re up to. They spend billions of dollars on stirring up trouble so they’ll have something to report on. They’ve become … it’s become a government all of its own and all secret. They don’t have to account to anybody.

That’s a very dangerous thing in a democratic society, and it’s got to be put a stop to. The people have got a right to know what those birds are up to. And if I was back in the White House, people would know. You see, the way a free government works, there’s got to be a housecleaning every now and again, and I don’t care what branch of the government is involved. Somebody has to keep an eye on things.

And when you can’t do any housecleaning because everything that goes on is a damn secret, why, then we’re on our way to something the Founding Fathers didn’t have in mind. Secrecy and a free, democratic government don’t mix. And if what happened at the Bay of Pigs doesn’t prove that, I don’t know what does. You have got to keep an eye on the military at all times, and it doesn’t matter whether it’s the birds in the Pentagon or the birds in the CIA.

This is a remarkable statement by Truman, even if delivered during a relatively unguarded moment with a trusted biographer. It shows a humility and willingness to admit grave error that is lacking in public life today. It also stands on its own as a inadvertent libertarian argument against state power itself.

Did Truman stand by his statements about the CIA? Yes and no. Speaking to Esquire in 1971, he continued to praise the agency as a needed consolidation:

When I took over the Presidency he received information from just about everywhere, from the Secretary of State and the State Department, the Treasury Department, the Department of Agriculture. Just everybody. And sometimes they didn’t agree as to what was happening in various parts of the world. So I got couple of admirals together, and they formed the Central Intelligence Agency for the benefit and convenience of the President of the United States . . . So instead of the President having to look through a bunch of papers two feet high, the information was coordinated so that the President could arrive at the facts. It’s still going, and it’s going very well.

Hypocritical backpedaling on Truman’s part? Perhaps. But his biographer Merle Miller calls the Esquire quote “pretty faint praise,” and more importantly Truman never ordered the removal of his brief chapter on the CIA from the Plain Speaking biography. His mea culpa still stands, in print. So while he could not have fully imagined what the CIA would become, he knew in his gut he had made a terrible mistake– a mistake we are only beginning to understand today thanks to WikiLeaks.

Jeff Deist is president of the Mises Institute. He previously worked as a longtime advisor and chief of staff to Congressman Ron Paul. Contact: email; twitter.

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