U.S. says it’s ready to strike back at Chinese cyber attackers

By LUIS MIRANDA | THE REAL AGENDA | FEBRUARY 20, 2013

As The Real Agenda informed yesterday, a new report issued by internet security company Mandiant has concluded that some of the most visible cyber attacks on U.S. based companies and government entities are coming from China. This wasn’t a secret at all, since much of the equipment used in American companies and institutions are either manufactured in China or have Chinese-made components. According to experts, it is precisely through this components that the Chinese hackers may be entering sensible systems in government and large corporations such as banks and media outlets.

The accusation made by Mandiant established that the Chinese military is responsible for hacking into government and private computer systems to steal data in an attempt to get its hands on trade secrets and information about infrastructure. Today, the Obama administration is said to be weighing a list of fines and commercial punishment to stop the Chinese and any other government-sponsored cyber attack.

Research conducted by Mandiant in the last three years, shows that attacks on American government agencies, and private companies are coming directly from a Chinese-based operation in Shanghai. The existence of this entity and the purpose of its operations are well-known by the Asian government, says Mandiant.

The Associated Press reports today that American officials familiar with the U.S. plans, the White House will present a report with preliminary proposals to address the Chinese threat. It is not clear whether this proposals are real actions that the U.S. government will take, has taken already or if it is only a way to publicly show concern about the attacks while privately maneuvering in a different direction. The U.S. report will speak again about the imminent cyber threat previously described by people like Leon Panetta, who earlier this year and late in 2012 spoke about the possibility of a possible ‘cyber Pearl Harbor’.

Mandiant’s report, which apparently was requested by a group of private companies reveal that more than 140 enterprises were attacked by the People’s Liberation Army’s Unit 61398. The attacks were carried out after the hackers breached security protocols in those companies which supposedly enabled them to steal sensible information about their operations as well as private data about their customers. Along with Mandiant’s report, military experts believe that the hackers are part of China’s cyber command which works directly under orders from the Joint Chiefs of Staff. This would mean that the cyber attacks are authorized by people in important positions who work for China’s military.

“If the Chinese government flew planes into our airspace, our planes would escort them away. If it happened two, three or four times, the president would be on the phone and there would be threats of retaliation,” said former FBI executive assistant director Shawn Henry to AP. Both Mandiant’s report and the U.S. government’s recognition of the alleged Chinese threat, puts even more pressure on the Americans to show firmness in their actions. Simply talking about the threat will not solve anything. The Americans will have to retaliate strongly against the hackers and / or begin direct public talks with the Chinese military in order to sort out the details of the attacks.

According to Mandiant, this division of the Chinese Army employs thousands of people modern programming techniques and network management, which means that it counts with the support of important people and government organizations. The alleged Chinese military unit has stolen hundreds of terabytes of data since its activities were first registered in 2006″.

Although many of the alleged corporate victims are based in the United States, Canadian and British companies have also been attacked. In the case of the Canadians and British, hackers have accessed and stolen information about business transactions, mergers, acquisitions, and emails from senior managers.

“We believe APT1 can continue a campaign of cyber espionage in large part because it receives direct support from the Chinese government,” says Mandiant, identifying APT1 with Unit 61398. The same way that APT1 seems to be conducting cyber espionage activities on American, Canadian and British companies and government agencies, it is clear that American intelligence and spying agencies also conduct operations to learn about what other countries are up to.

“In a state that rigorously monitors Internet use, it is highly unlikely that the Chinese government is unaware of an attack group that operates from the Pudong New Area of Shanghai,” says the Mandiant report. APT1 “systematically stole hundreds of terabytes of data from at least 141 organizations,” Mandiant said.

A report by the U.S. Congress last year said that increasingly dexterous entities backed by the Chinese government are trying to enter the U.S. systems, and called China “the most threatening player in cyberspace.” This means that the U.S. did not learn about the threat by reading Mandiant’s report, so it would be interesting to know why the Americans haven’t publicly demanded answers from the Chinese, if the threat is do evident.

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Quando a percepção da legalidade dinamita a ética e a moral?

POR LUIS MIRANDA | THE REAL AGENDA | FEVEREIRO 12, 2013

As terríveis conseqüências de ter um advogado como presidente de um país são bem conhecidas. De acordo com muitos advogados, a lei, ou a percepção da legalidade prevalece sobre a moral e a ética. As vezes, mesmo na ausência de legalidade, atos imorais e antiéticos são cometidos e justificados com pouca oposição daqueles que, em outros casos, mantêm o poder das leis que beneficiam suas explicações infundadas.

A idéia de que uma pessoa ou uma pessoa em nome de um país ou um grupo pode se dar o poder de matar os outros, se ele acha que são uma ameaça, não é legal, moral ou ético. Alguns advogados, no entanto, dizem o contrário. Eles explicam que matar alguém cuja culpa não foi provada é legal em alguns casos. Usam critérios que são supostamente contidos em leis de segurança internacionais, constitucionais e nacionais que utilizam como justificativa para executar alguém sem provar sua culpa ou a intenção de cometer um crime, e, assim, prejudicam o direito ao devido processo legal e o benefício a ser julgados de acordo com a lei.

O exemplo mais recente do que eu chamo de “idiotice da legalidade” é o ponto de vista do Christopher Swift, professor assistente de Estudos de Segurança Nacional da Universidade de Georgetown. Durante uma entrevista onde ele foi questionado sobre a legalidade, moralidade e ética que são usados ​​para apoiar o assassinato de americanos e milhares de inocentes com ataques dom drones, Swift argumenta que tal ação deve ser analisada através de três microscópios diferentes. Primeiro, o aspecto legal, no qual Swift apoia as políticas assassinas do governo dos EUA.

No caso de Anwar al-Awlaki – um cidadão dos EUA assassinado no Iêmen por um ataque com drones – “está dentro do direito internacional”, disse Swift, porque o homem estava em um país que autorizou EUA usar drones na luta contra a Al-Qaeda. Como todos já sabem, al-Awlaki era um agente dos EUA na região. Ele era um ativo do governo dos EUA quem jantou no Pentágono poucos dias depois dos ataques de 9/11. Ele era um membro da Al-Qaeda, a organização terrorista criada pelo governo dos EUA na década de 1970, como Hillary Clinton, disse na Fox News.

“É também atende legalidade constitucional”, diz Swift. Ele diz que um presidente dos EUA pode encomendar a morte de um Americano “, mesmo se ele estiver em um país estrangeiro que está em guerra.” Swift baseou sua hipótese sobre a alegação desacreditada que al-Awlaki estava conspirando para atacar os Estados Unidos ou um aliado dos EUA.

Esta afirmação vem do governo dos EUA, para quem o clérigo trabalhou, em cujo caso as pessoas que deveriam ser assassinados são os membros do governo que patrocinaram, e mantiveram em segredo o apoio a Al-Awlaki, supostamente para realizar tais ataques. Na verdade, há um mecanismo legal para punir aqueles que violam a segurança do país (EUA). Essas pessoas são acusadas ​​de traição, que é o que um seleto grupo de altos funcionários do governo dos EUA têm feito: cometido traição contra o seu país.

A posição do Swift sobre esta questão mostra três coisas. Primeiro, que ele é, pelo menos publicamente, um perdedor incauto que confia no seu governo. Segundo, ele mataria qualquer pessoa antes de conceder o devido processo, só porque há uma lei que o apoia, mesmo que a lei é contra a Constituição. Em terceiro lugar, a percepção da legalidade e constitucionalidade, como é entendida no âmbito da Constituição dos EUA, foi alterada pelos chamados juristas, porque, embora o documento garante o devido processo a toda pessoa acusada de um crime, quem estuda e interpreta a lei não acreditam que esse direito deve ser respeitado em alguns casos. Em suma, em nenhuma parte da Constituição dos EUA o governo está autorizado a sequestrar, reter ou assassinar cidadãos sem julgamento, e quaisquer outras regras criadas por políticos que diga o contrário é simplesmente inconstitucional. Mas os advogados criam leis e interpretações de leis, de forma que o público percebe que tais ações são legais e constitucionais.

“O Supremo Tribunal Federal confirmou que é legítimo matar um cidadão dos EUA, sem violar a Quinta Emenda, desde que, ele seja uma ameaça iminente”, diz Swift. O fato de que o Supremo Tribunal considerou que a prerrogativa do governo deu-se para matar cidadãos do país ou no exterior, não tem status legal, moral ou ético. O assassinato é sempre um crime e a idéia de que qualquer ameaça questionável, quase sempre falsa, justifica matar alguém realmente está ameaçando os pilares legais que suportam os Estados Unidos como uma república.

Só porque algo é percebido ou interpretado como legal, o que não é o caso aqui, não quer dizer que é constitucional, moral ou ético. Em outras palavras, uma lei não é legal porque é uma lei, mas porque é regida pelas disposições legais no documento único que deve ser a base para toda a atividade de governo: a Constituição.

Swift também analisa a legalidade da tortura. No caso de crimes cometidos pela administração anterior, Swift encontra argumentos legais para dizer que a tortura é ilegal. “A autorização do uso de tortura durante os mandatos de George W. Bush é totalmente ilegal “, disse Swift.

É importante lembrar que muitas das sessões de tortura realizadas pelo governo dos EUA, que têm mostrado ser ferramentas inúteis para obter informações relevantes, terminou na morte de muitos daqueles que foram torturados. Desta forma, Swift vê assassinatos por drones como uma ação jurídicamente legal, enquanto condena outros métodos de assassinato tais como a simulação de afogamento. Há um duplo padrão aqui?

Quando perguntado sobre se o governo Obama deve mudar sua estratégia em sua suposta tentativa de combater o terrorismo, Swift rapidamente apontou o que ele acredita ser o aspecto relevante da discussão. “O debate não deve incidir sobre a legalidade de ataques com drones, mas a sua eficácia a longo prazo. É eficaz a luta contra o terrorismo, quando feito com um controle remoto? Não é eficaz, não. O sucesso do exército não está contribuindo para a estabilidade política que é o que os EUA pretende alcançar no Iêmen e no Afeganistão. ” Swift tenta evitar desafios legais, éticos e morais tentando virar a discussão para a eficácia dos assassinatos em um contexto diferente, o da suposta estabilização da região oriental.

Claramente Swift e o governo dos EUA têm muito em comum. Por exemplo, eles acreditam que o direito universal à vida não existe quando uma pessoa tem a pele morena, veste um turbante e vive em um país a milhares de quilômetros de distância dos EUA, de onde expressa o ódio pela política dos EUA.

Além disso, a legalidade e constitucionalidade não são o que os documentos fundadores dos Estados Unidos dizem que são, mas o que os advogados dizem que é, não importa quanto essas interpretações do que é legal ou constitucional desafiam à Constituição e a Declaração de Direitos dos EUA. Por último, mas não menos importante, a lei prevalece sobre a moral e a ética. Você pode até mesmo arriscar um palpite e dizer que para pessoas como Barack Obama, um advogado constitucional e Christopher Swift, o traço da humanidade é simplesmente irrelevante, especialmente se houver uma ‘porta dos fundos’, que pode ser usada para destruí-la.

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Obama extends illegal spying of citizens and foreigners

The measure also enables the government to continue spying on foreigners with American ties

By LUIS MIRANDA | THE REAL AGENDA | JANUARY 7, 2013

Barack Obama started 2013 receiving criticism from activists for human rights supporters in the U.S. after extending two controversial measures, both remnants of the Administration of George W. Bush and his spying and detention practices.

The current president extended a program to spy on foreigners who live in the U.S. as well as Americans who maintain contact with them and, against his own judgment, gave approval for a Pentagon funding bill that opposes his own promise to close the detention center at the Guantanamo Naval Base, which was opened by Bush in 2002.

On the penultimate day of the year, the president ratified a five-year extension of the Act and the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Program, that allows U.S. spy agencies to trace calls and emails of foreign citizens who without any proof are deemed as suspects who may pose a risk to the national security of the United States.

Written during the last years of the administration of George W. Bush, the law allows foreign espionage  without warrants. With the measure, the United States gives itself the prerogative to carry out such spying without the consent of foreign governments and to hide the findings from those governments.

The law was actually tested back in 1978, but was modified and expanded in 2008 to, among other things, allow spying of U.S. citizens who maintain contact with foreigners, provided the latter task is to obtain information in other countries.

“The Bush Administration’s program of surveillance without controls that once was considered a radical threat to the Fourth Amendment of the Constitution [which protects against arbitrary searches], has been institutionalized for five more years,” says Michelle Richardson, legal adviser of the American Civil Liberties Union.

On Thursday, in addition, Obama signed the Defense Authorization Act of 2013, which allows the financing of the Pentagon with about 633,000 million dollars, to which the Obama administration has intentionally attached the payment given to soldiers, so congressmen who might be against his spying and endless war policies are unable to vote against it.

The Capitol, however, sent the bill to the president with a major disincentive: in three sections, prohibits the transfer of detainees in Afghanistan and Guantanamo, a move that lawmakers believe will prompt Obama to keep Guantanamo open for the forseeable future, and that breaks one of the promises of his 2008 campaign.

“I object to this provision,” Obama said in a statement added to the text to ratify the law, “which replaces what should be a determination of Congress, based on the factual and professional advice of counter-terrorism and law enforcement on when and where to prosecute Guantanamo detainees,” said Obama as he tried to remove responsibility from his shoulders.

“In this Annex, the president reserves the right to veto such specific prohibition. Initially, Obama sought to transfer some detainees to U.S. soil, but found considerable resistance on Capitol Hill.

Despite his firm opposition to these and other measures adopted by the Bush administration during his two tenures, Obama, a constitutional lawyer, has failed miserably to remove regulations that violate the most basic principles that helped create and maintain the United States as a place where both citizens and foreigners could be assured that their civil liberties would be safe.

Obama has not only maintained Bush’s violations of the Constitution, but he has also empowered his  executive office while undermining and eroding hundreds of years of legal achievements that guaranteed that due process was the rule and not the exception.

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Welcome to Obamanation: Land of Redistribution

By LUIS MIRANDA | THE REAL AGENDA | NOVEMBER 6, 2012

The Robyn Hood economy is about the kick off its latest plan to bring about ‘social justice’ and ‘equality’. With zero concern for reelection and lots of promises to fulfill, Robyn Hood Obama is set to carry out the biggest transformation in the history of the country. This transformation includes completely open borders, unlimited issuance of debt and the highest tax rates ever seen for the middle class.

After shocking the country and the world with its  QE unlimited, endless financial rescues, hungry power-grab oriented executive decrees and complete ignorance of how government should work if it is to favor an exit from the economic crisis, Obama will now execute the second phase of the largest wealth redistribution plan he foretold before being elected in 2008.

Despite being the most apparent threat to traditional American values, fifty percent of voters — even taking out voting fraud — still put their support behind the man who promised phones, homes, and welfare to anyone who helped re-elect him in 2012.

Now, the time has come to get money from those pesky members of the middle class and increase corporate welfare to unknown levels in order to consolidate the plan to make a large majority of the population equally poor. That is what equality means under the current model of underdevelopment being implemented in the United States for the past 100 years.

The start of the plan to radically transform America — Obama’s own words — has nothing to do with bringing optimal living conditions to most people. One of the first steps of this plan intends to erase all opposition that may exist to the enactment of the transformation itself. It includes doing away with any political, social and economic resistance.

Obama is now being echoed by George W. Bush, the compassionate conservative, who supports imposing a plan to legalize some 30+ million illegal immigrants. That will guarantee that the fakest liberal — Republican or Democrat — running for president in the next few political cycles gets enough support to be elected president. Understandably, those 30+ million people together with 50 percent or so of the electorate will be the most dependent and powerful force to command politics and policy for many years to come.

The most radical transformation of America will not necessarily be achieved through executive decrees or centralized government, but through a significant change in the way people conceive the role of government. Someone who completely depends on handouts will most certainly support almost any decision that  guarantees survival. As pointed out yesterday, the current global crisis was not necessarily caused by corruption, but by the adoption of an immoral set of living standards.

The next aspect of the redistribution plan is to guarantee that the government can keep up with its plans, and that requires financial guarantees. That’s why we’ve now learned about unlimited quantitative easing. When it comes to spending, trillions are not enough to maintain government sponsored programs. The plan of the Federal Reserve to create $85 billion a month out of thin air to buy mortgage-backed securities will only assure what has been coming for a long time: the death of the dollar. None of the money spent by the FED on behalf of the U.S. government actually gets to the people who need aid, as it all goes to the banks.

Every month that the FED spends the kind of money it is now spending causes the dollar to devaluate by 3 to 4 percent. How long does it take then for the so-called reserve currency to be worth as little as the paper it is printed on? Two, three years at the most. Hence the warnings from economists and insiders about the dollar ending its good run in no less than four years time.

For the second half of Obama’s time as CEO of Obamanation, there will be an even deeper transformation. States around the country are now assessing proposals and passing legislation that aims to raise income taxes to as high as 50 percent. Among them, there is California and New York; two of the states in the direst economic downfall and whose people have been impacted by bureaucratic irresponsibility.

But somehow the people in these two states rationalized that the best possible option was to support the guy who openly wants to make things worse, much worse. Although the idea was sold on the premise that the rich need to pay more taxes, Proposition 30, for example, will raise taxes on people who earn more than $250,000. I don’t know where do super-liberals get their news, but no one who earns a quarter of a million or near that amount is mathematically or otherwise wealthy.

Strangely, the Obama mob is composed by some people who earn just about $250,000 a year or less, which means they actually support their own demise. Perhaps they don’t see themselves as wealthy as Obama sees them through his magnifying glass. Also, isn’t it wealthy a variable idea in different parts of the country?

For most of the Obama people, the plan to bring about ‘social justice’ is well on its way, as most of them depend on the well to do fellows for their income. If the middle class is the portion of the population who proportionally pay the most taxes and the money collected through taxation is used by government to bribe the dependent population, then people who live off government handouts couldn’t possibly see wealth redistribution as a bad thing, could they?

But don’t expect the money collected from the middle class to go into the pockets of the needy. The U.S. government has more important investment opportunities such as increasing corporate welfare as development model and training first responders for the coming zombie apocalypse.

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Obama Sponsoring Privileged Corruption

Obama hides behind legalities to build iron presidency and support government corruption.

By LUIS MIRANDA | THE REAL AGENDA | JUNE 21, 2012

It was just a matter of time after Barack Obama took office for the public to find out about his real deal, and it took less time than with previous presidents. The man who came in promising change, jobs, transparency and a great economy, not only has failed at everything, but also reminded us all that we are not out of the woods when it comes to men who love to build iron castles to hide their support for a powerful Executive Office. As his predecessor once said: “Fool me once is on me, fool me twice is on you.” Americans were fooled again, and so was the world.

After criticizing George W. Bush for his overreach of power — and with reason — during the political campaign of 2008, Obama decided to follow on his tracks to make an ever more powerful Executive branch; one that does not need Congress or the opinion of the people who elected him to make decisions, but the permission of the United Nations and NATO, as Obama himself during several press conferences and speeches. The same talking point came out of the Leon Panetta’s mouth in congressional hearings. “We can’t wait” is the excuse given by the imperial presidency of Barack Obama, who justifies his unilateral actions by saying Congress doesn’t act, so he has the obligation to use his privilege to write executive order to create ‘laws’.

Both Republicans and Democrats have always stood in the way when a president had a ‘signature’ plan in mind to improve the country, but never has a president declared war on the Constitution, the American people and the rest of the world as Barack Obama has done up until today. Mr. Obama has built upon George Bush’s work that began by declaring the so-called war on terror, pushing the Patriot Act and bailing out foreign banks with his TARP legislation. Obama has declared citizens are enemy combatants, even on US soil, grabbed an nonexistent right to assassinate them if he decides is his best interests and has put troops on the streets of the country as no president has done for the past 30 years. While Obama preaches regime change for lawfully elected world leaders, he crushes his own citizens at home.

In the latest example of political and moral deceit, Obama has decided to concede  US Attorney General, Eric Holder executive privilege on documents related to the Fast&Furious gun-running program. Under Fast&Furious, the US government send thousands of fire arms to Mexican Drug Cartels in a supposed attempt to learn about drug and money trafficking from Mexico to North America. But as congressional investigation and alternative media revelations have shown, the US government’s dealings with Mexican drug organizations is nothing else than arms trade between the cartels and the drug-running, money-laundering US government. Some of the fire arms that made their way into Mexico were responsible for the murder of US Border Patrol officer Brian Terry and hundreds of innocent people on the Mexican side of the border.

Congressman Darrell Issa recently announced the start of an official voting process to hold Eric Holder in contempt of Congress after he decided not to provide sensible documents about Fast&Furious which Obama has now hidden behind his shameless executive privilege. The House Oversight Committee was informed Wednesday morning about Obama’s legitimation of government corruption regarding the Fast&Furious programs, to which Darrell Issa responded that “this untimely assertion by the Justice Department falls short of any reason to  delay today’s proceedings”. Issa, who has questioned Holder in several occasions, accused the Justice Department of trying to have the investigation into the Fast&Furious scandal closed. Apparently, Holder had promised to hand over some documents related to the operation, but Issa said he could not accept that  deal.

After being pressed to the limit, Holder contradicted himself a number of times about what he knew, when he knew it and how he learned about Fast&Furious. In an effort to try to avoid more public scrutiny, Holder’s Justice Department requested in a letter addressed to Obama to keep the incriminating documents related to the gun-running operation secret. Obama rapidly granted his request. “We regret that we have arrived at this point, after the many steps  we have taken to address the committee’s concerns and to accommodate the  committee’s legitimate oversight interests regarding Operation Fast and  Furious,” said Deputy Attorney General James Cole. “Although we are deeply disappointed that the committee  appears intent on proceeding with a contempt vote, the department remains willing to work with the committee to reach a mutually satisfactory resolution  of the outstanding issues.”

A significant fact about Obama’s decision to use his executive privilege to hide the Fast&Furious documents is that this is Obama’s first assertion of such privilege. The reason for his acceptance is that Fast&Furious has the potential to bring down Eric Holder and even Obama himself. From all the fire arms that ‘walked’ into Mexico under Fast&Furious, the US government allegedly lost 2,000. How did the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms (BATF), the agency coordinating with the Department of Justice the Fast&Furious operation lost 2,000 weapons is still unknown. These and other details have been kept secret by DOJ. “The documents responsive to the remaining subpoena items pertain to sensitive law enforcement activities, including ongoing criminal investigations and prosecutions, or were generated by department officials in the course of responding to Congressional investigations or media inquiries about this matter that are generally not appropriate for disclosure,” said James Cole.

In addition to hiding the details related to Fast&Furious, Obama signed statements saying that Congress could not declare it unconstitutional for him to have ‘czars’, increased the number of decisions made by himself alone regarding domestic policy, including sponsoring government violence against taxpayers by forcing them to buy health insurance from a government program, reaffirmed the right of the US government to carry out torture, enabled and agreed on the continuation of government spying on the American people through the communications infrastructure, drones and satellites, and so on. In other words, Obama is doing exactly what George W. Bush did during his two term presidency, which in the eyes of many Democrats were actions proper of a dictator, not a president. “Obama’s not saying he has the right to defy a Congressional statute. But if the legislative path is blocked and he otherwise has the legal authority to issue an executive order on an issue, they are clearly much more willing to do that now than two years ago,” said Richard H. Pildes to the New York Times.

In some of Obama’s most recent acts of defiance to the US Constitution and Congressional oversight, he directed the Justice Department to stop defending the Defense of Marriage Act, and last week he announced he would legalize foreigners who came to the US illegally. “I refuse to take ‘no’ for an answer,” said Obama in one of his speeches as he flashed a banner with the message “We Can’t Wait”. “When Congress refuses to act and — as a result — hurts our economy and puts people at risk, I have an obligation as president to do what I can without them.” The problem is that all that Obama has accomplish through his unilateral decisions has been to erode the US Constitution — just as his predecessors did — without having any positive outcome. In fact, due to the violence generated by programs like Fast&Furious both in Mexico and the US, government agencies and the main stream media often request tighter restrictions on civil liberties and individual rights. Coincidence? Not likely.