Russia Negotiating with Cuba to Open Naval Base

REUTERS | JULY 27, 2012

Russia hopes to establish its first naval base abroad since the 1991 collapse of the Soviet Union and is looking at Cuba, Vietnam and the Seychelles as possible locations, state-run RIA news agency quoted the navy chief as saying on Friday.

Russia has been increasing the reach of its navy in recent years, sending warships further afield as part of an effort to restore pride project power in a world dominated by the U.S. military.

“It’s true that we are continuing work on providing the navy with basing outside the Russian Federation,” RIA quoted Vice Admiral Viktor Chirkov as saying in an interview.

The Soviet Union had a large naval base in Communist ally Vietnam but post-Soviet Russia opted to vacate the Cam Ranh base in 2002, during President Vladimir Putin’s first Kremlin term, because rent payments were a burden on state coffers.

The fate of Russia’s only naval facility outside the former Soviet Union, a maintenance and supply facility in the Syrian port of Tartous, is uncertain because of the conflict in Syria.

Chirkov said Russia was “working out the issue of creating sites for material and technical support on the territory of Cuba, the Seychelles and Vietnam,” RIA reported.

Chirkov’s wording suggested facilities in those countries might be less extensive than full-scale naval bases. Navy officials could not immediately be reached for comment.

Vietnamese President Truong Tan Sang, who was in Russia and was to meet Putin on Friday, was quoted as telling a Russian radio station that Vietnam has “no intention of cooperating with any country with the aim of military use of the port of Cam Ranh”.

However, Sang was quoted as telling Voice of Russia radio that a maintenance and service facility at the port would be open to ships from all nations and that, in the interest of furthering a “strategic partnership” with Moscow, Vietnam “will provide Russia with advantages in Cam Ranh, including with aim of developing military cooperation”.

Mossad, CIA and Blackwater operate in Syria

Russia Today
March 7, 2012

security operation in Homs reveals Mossad, CIA and Blackwater are involved in the military violence in this part of Syria, as over 700 Arab and Western gunmen and Israeli, American and European-made weapons were detained in Baba Amr district.

Members of the Free Syrian Army patrol an area in Qusayr, 15 kms (nine miles) from Homs.

­Syrian security forces got yet further proof of Western powers’ military involvement in Syria’s internal conflict, reports Al-Manar, a news agency, affiliated with Hezbollah, the Lebanon-based militant group and political party.

Around 700 gunmen were recently arrested in the former rebel stronghold of Babar Amr.

“The captured gunmen held Arab nationalities, including Gulf, Iraqi, and Lebanese. Among them were also Qatari intelligence agents and non-Arab fighters from Afghanistan, Turkey, and some European countries like France,” the agency quotes Syrian expert in strategic affairs Salim Harba as saying.

Harba also confirmed to the agency that “a coordination office was established in Qatar under American-Gulf sponsorship. The office includes American, French, and Gulf – specifically from Qatar and Saudi Arabia – intelligence agents, as well as CIA, Mossad, and Blackwater agents and members of the Syrian Transitional Council.”

The Syrian expert also added the security forces have also seized Israeli-, European- and American-made weapons.

“The Syrian army also uncovered tunnels and equipments there,” he told to the agency, “advanced Israeli, European, and American arms that have not yet been tested in the countries of manufacture, in addition to Israeli grenades, night binoculars, and communication systems were confiscated by the security forces.”

Salim Harba however said the Syrian authorities are not planning to reveal all the obtained information now, but assured all the evidence is of high value.

“The Syrian security forces have documents and confessions that could harm everyone who conspired against Syria, and could make a security and political change, not just on the internal Syrian level, but also on the regional level,” he said.

The recent Stratfor leak and hacked email of the company’s director of analysis also suggest undercover NATO troops are already on the ground in Syria.

There have been previous allegations of a Western presence on the side of the rebels as 13 French officers were reportedly captured by the loyalist forces earlier in March.

President Bashar al-Assad has repeatedly claimed his regime is fighting not with peaceful protesters as claimed by the West, but with the military gangs supported by the West.

Western powers however have categorically denied any military involvement in Syrian internal conflict.

Is the U.S. setting up operation Iranian Freedom?

Russia Today
January 25, 2012

Washington is prepared to engage in war over the Strait of Hormuz at any moment, the Pentagon says. Some observers say the dangerous move is being viewed as a far from worst-case scenario in America, especially by its hawks.

­American troops in the Persian Gulf region do not require any build-up for a possible military conflict with Iran, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said Wednesday.

“We are not making any special steps at this point in order to deal with the situation. Why? Because, frankly, we are fully prepared to deal with that situation now,” Panetta explained.

The US says it will attack Iran if it tries to block the Strait of Hormuz, a crucial route for regional oil transit. Tehran has threatened to stop traffic through the Strait in response to mounting pressure, including threats, sanctions and particularly an air strike on its nuclear facilities, which Israel and the US say are on the table.

The US Navy has two aircraft carrier strike groups in the region at the moment, presumably performing a routine rotation. US troops are also stationed in a number of nearby countries, including the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Kuwait and other Gulf nations.

Panetta’s ready-for-war rhetoric was frowned upon by Beijing. China’s foreign ministry spokesman Liu Weimin commented on Thursday that “sanctions and military threats will not help solve the problem but only aggravate the situation.”

Russia holds a similar position on the brewing conflict. “What Western states… have been adding as they adopt their additional unilateral sanctions against Iran has nothing in common with the desire to keep the nuclear weapons nonproliferation regime unshaken,” Russia’s Foreign Minister, Sergey Lavrov, warned at his Q&A conference on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi has reiterated that Tehran wants talks on the nuclear issue, which Western powers cite as the main motive for sanctions against the country. But, Salehi maintained, it is up to the other parties, particularly the US and EU, to arrange a time and place for a meeting.

Read Full Article…

America is One Signature away from a ‘Lawful’ Police State

After Senate Bill 1867, also known as the Indefinite Detention legislation made its way through the House of Representatives earlier this week and through the Senate tonight, Americans are that much closer to becoming legal enemies of the state.

By Luis R. Miranda
The Real Agenda
December 15, 2011

On the way to a place called Police State America

UPDATE 12/16/11 12:00 S.1867 will also allow the Department of Defense to ‘lawfully’ wage war on the internet. The law will permit the government to attack cyber enemies. Congress confirms that the Pentagon has the capacity to, at the request of the president, will conduct cyberwar operations to “defend the Nation, Allies and other interests”. (1) the policy principles and legal regimes that the Department follows for kinetic capabilities, including the law of armed conflict; and (2) the War Powers Resolution (50 U.S.C. 1541 et seq.). Read more on the cyber Police State here. END OF UPDATE

It is not new that run-away oppressive states tend to employ illegal practices by stealth before they implement them widely. The passage of legislation that partially or fully destroy constitutional and civil rights is simply the codification  of an already well established status quo. This happened many times in recent history, but people don’t learn from it because they ignore history.

The introduction and passage of S.1867 and its consequent approval by both the House and Senate of the once free and brave America is the completion of what those in power have been working on for decades; maybe more. S.1867 legalizes the apprehension, imprisonment and if necessary, torture and murder of anyone who the United States president decides poses a threat to the continuity of government. It just happens that this government is not the people’s government anymore, but His or Her government.Although president Barack H. Obama warned with vetoing the bill if it survived the legislative process, he back-pedaled on that threat in less than a month. But Obama did not warn senators and representatives about the veto because he thought it was illegal or unconstitutional to waive all the legal framework that kept America free and brave. He threatened with the veto because the passage of S.1867 would legally strain powers that the office of the president already possesses; or at least Obama thinks it does. “The White House explained it would veto the bill because these provisions, mandating military custody amount to a restriction of president’s authority,” explained John Glaser, assistant editor at Antiwar.com on Russia Today television.

It was Senator Carl Levin, one of the sponsors of the approved bill, who explained on the Senate floor that it had been president Obama who had requested that S.1867 included Americans who lived in the United States in the bill, so that all of its provisions could also apply to them. The bill already contemplated applying its rules to Americans living abroad as well as anyone captured on American soil or overseas, who was deemed a terrorist. It was also Obama, who harshly criticized George W. Bush for what he called the illegal detention of people who were held without a formal accusation and were denied a proper trial. Obama also made it one of his campaign promises to close the Guantanamo Bay prison.

If S.1867 is signed by Obama into law, which could happen in the next 24 to 48 hours, it will give the  US military the power to “disappear” American citizens for crimes that will never be made public. “If you look carefully at this legislation, if you have a family or a friend who publicizes that you’ve disappeared they too can be detained. If anybody helps you with a taxi ride or attempts to give assistance to your family in the circumstances of your disappearance, they too can be detained. This is the architecture of the fascist state,” says radio host Ralph Schoenman.

One of the most contested parts of the bill, which was challenged by at least 40 senators, says that “Congress affirms that the authority of the President to use all necessary and appropriate force pursuant to the Authorization for Use of Military Force, includes the authority for the Armed Forces of the United States to detain covered persons pending depositions under the law of war.” Exactly 220 years after the U.S. Bill of Rights was approved, the Senate voted 86-13 in favor of giving the president and the Army the powers described above. Adding insult to injury, Senator Lindsey Graham, a Republican from South Carolina, spoke on the Senate floor right after the vote tool place and said with a straight face that he hoped that his colleagues believed America was part of the battlefield in the fight against… well, he did not say who; and that from now on, anyone alleged to be in opposition to the United States would be the subject of military-style detention. Graham’s speech resembled that of George W. Bush, who after 9/11 publicly announced that those who did not stood by the side of the United States, would stand against it in the fight against what he called terror.

The difference between Bush’s and Graham’s speeches is that Graham’s did not specify who would be granted more attention as suspects of terrorism or of supporting terrorist groups. He left it more open, more vague. He said: “anyone alleged to be in opposition to the United States”. Will public protest be considered as opposition? Will publishing articles that oppose the government’s policies be deemed as opposition? What does the government deem as opposition? Only the president and the military know that. Indeed, what S.1867 does is to legitimize the president’s authority to indefinitely detain an individual who is deemed a threat. It recognizes that the president, whoever it is, can hold anyone label as an enemy combatant, no matter where they are captured. “…because that only makes sense,” said Senator Carl Levin. Meanwhile, Lindsey Graham further taunted the civil and constitutional liberties now being destroyed by saying that denying Americans their due process would make everyone less safe. “It would serve as an unprecedented threat to our constitutional liberties.”Lindsey Graham went further to attack America’s legal system as inadequate because it allowed alleged terrorists to be treated as common criminals.

Putting it simply, what S.1867 does is to militarize the United States of America, as citizens who oppose government will be met with all the might of the Armed Forces. Although no one expects the government to enforce the new legislation against a conservative radio talk show host, people who don’t maw their lawns or Occupy Wall Street protestors just yet, it is clear the U.S. government will make its case to begin enforcing it as soon as it has a chance. Obama will use the same military that he  commanded to war in Libya, without asking Congress to declare war, to catch fictitious terrorists who may have a plan -that no one will be able to verify- to blow a building or kill Americans.

As reported by Russia Today, under the legislation, a literal police state will be installed over the United States. Republican Congressman Ron Paul said earlier this week that “this should be the biggest news going right now,” as the legislation would allow for “literally legalizing martial law. This step where they can literally arrest American citizens and put them away without trial….is arrogant and bold and dangerous,” said congressman Paul.

None of the other Republican presidential candidates manifested their opposition to the indefinite detention bill. In fact, Newt Gingrich had already shown his support for practices that mirrored the provisions contained in the legislation just approved by Congress.

When a government gets away with capturing anyone without any proof that such person -citizen or not citizen- committed a crime; when it gives itself the prerogative to hold him/her indefinitely without a formal accusation; when it decides that is has the power to torture and murder because it considers it an effective measure to prevent or preempt a crime that has not happen, hope is lost. But worse than everything, when people let a government do all of this without a challenge; everything is lost.

Terror and the terrorists are everywhere and the world is the battlefield against them. That is both insane and clever. It is to prevent terror and terrorists from attacking us!, claim many willful ignorants. Al-Qaeda is everywhere and we need to be vigilant and protected!, claim the accomplices. That is why we must give away our human rights! We need to give liberty in exchange for security.

At our own peril! And if we do, we deserve everything we get!

Luis R. Miranda is the Founder and Editor of The Real Agenda. His 15 years of experience in Journalism include television, radio, print and Internet news. Learn  more about Luis here.

CIA Spies Found and Captured in Lebanon

Associated Press
November 21, 2011

The CIA’s operations in Lebanon have been badly damaged after Hezbollah identified and captured a number of U.S. spies recently, current and former U.S. officials told The Associated Press. The intelligence debacle is particularly troubling because the CIA saw it coming.

Hezbollah leader Sheik Hassan Nasrallah.

Hezbollah’s longtime leader, Sheik Hassan Nasrallah, boasted on television in June that he had rooted out at least two CIA spies who had infiltrated the ranks of Hezbollah, which the U.S. considers a terrorist group closely allied with Iran. Though the U.S. Embassy in Lebanon officially denied the accusation, current and former officials concede that it happened and the damage has spread even further.

In recent months, CIA officials have secretly been scrambling to protect their remaining spies – foreign assets or agents working for the agency – before Hezbollah can find them.

To be sure, some deaths are to be expected in shadowy spy wars. It’s an extremely risky business and people get killed. But the damage to the agency’s spy network in Lebanon has been greater than usual, several former and current U.S. officials said, speaking on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly about security matters.

The Lebanon crisis is the latest mishap involving CIA counterintelligence, the undermining or manipulating of the enemy’s ability to gather information. Former CIA officials have said that once-essential skill has been eroded as the agency shifted from outmaneuvering rival spy agencies to fighting terrorists. In the rush for immediate results, former officers say, tradecraft has suffered.

The most recent high-profile example was the suicide bomber who posed as an informant and killed seven CIA employees and wounded six others in Khost, Afghanistan in December 2009.

Last year, then-CIA director Leon Panetta said the agency had to maintain “a greater awareness of counterintelligence.” But eight months later, Nasrallah let the world know he had bested the CIA, demonstrating that the agency still struggles with this critical aspect of spying and sending a message to those who would betray Hezbollah.

The CIA was well aware the spies were vulnerable in Lebanon. CIA officials were warned, including the chief of the unit that supervises Hezbollah operations from CIA headquarters in Langley, Va., and the head of counterintelligence. It remains unclear whether anyone has been or will be held accountable in the wake of this counterintelligence disaster or whether the incident will affect the CIA’s ability to recruit assets in Lebanon.

In response to AP’s questions about what happened in Lebanon, a U.S. official said Hezbollah is recognized as a complicated enemy responsible for killing more Americans than any other terrorist group before September 2001. The agency does not underestimate the organization, the official said.

The CIA’s toughest adversaries, like Hezbollah and Iran, have for years been improving their ability to hunt spies, relying on patience and guile to exploit counterintelligence holes.

In 2007, for instance, when Ali-Reza Asgari, a brigadier general in the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps of Iran, disappeared in Turkey, it was assumed that he was either killed or defected. In response, the Iranian government began a painstaking review of foreign travel by its citizens, particularly to places like Turkey where Iranians don’t need a visa and could meet with foreign intelligence services.

It didn’t take long, a Western intelligence official told the AP, before the U.S., Britain and Israel began losing contact with some of their Iranian spies.

The State Department last year described Hezbollah as “the most technically capable terrorist group in the world,” and the Defense Department estimates it receives between $100 million and $200 million per year in funding from Iran.

Backed by Iran, Hezbollah has built a professional counterintelligence apparatus that Nasrallah – whom the U.S. government designated an international terrorist a decade ago – proudly describes as the “spy combat unit.” U.S. intelligence officials believe the unit, which is considered formidable and ruthless, went operational in about 2004.

Using the latest commercial software, Nasrallah’s spy-hunters unit began methodically searching for spies in Hezbollah’s midst. To find them, U.S. officials said, Hezbollah examined cellphone data looking for anomalies. The analysis identified cellphones that, for instance, were used rarely or always from specific locations and only for a short period of time. Then it came down to old-fashioned, shoe-leather detective work: Who in that area had information that might be worth selling to the enemy?

The effort took years but eventually Hezbollah, and later the Lebanese government, began making arrests. By one estimate, 100 Israeli assets were apprehended as the news made headlines across the region in 2009. Some of those suspected Israeli spies worked for telecommunications companies and served in the military.

Back at CIA headquarters, the arrests alarmed senior officials. The agency prepared a study on its own vulnerabilities, U.S. officials said, and the results proved to be prescient.

The analysis concluded that the CIA was susceptible to the same analysis that had compromised the Israelis, the officials said.

CIA managers were instructed to be extra careful about handling sources in Lebanon. A U.S. official said recommendations were issued to counter the potential problem.

But it’s unclear what preventive measures were taken by the Hezbollah unit chief or the officer in charge of the Beirut station. Former officials say the Hezbollah unit chief is no stranger to the necessity of counterintelligence and knew the risks. The unit chief has worked overseas in hostile environments like Afghanistan and played an important role in the capture of a top terrorist while stationed in the Persian Gulf region after the attacks of 9/11.

“We’ve lost a lot of people in Beirut over the years, so everyone should know the drill,” said a former Middle East case officer familiar with the situation.

But whatever actions the CIA took, they were not enough. Like the Israelis, bad tradecraft doomed these CIA assets and the agency ultimately failed to protect them, an official said. In some instances, CIA officers fell into predictable patterns when meeting their sources, the official said.

This allowed Hezbollah to identify assets and case officers and unravel at least part of the CIA’s spy network in Lebanon. There was also a reluctance to share cases and some files were put in “restricted handling.” The designation severely limits the number of people who know the identity of the source but also reduces the number of experts who could spot problems that might lead to their discovery, officials said.

Nasrallah’s televised announcement in June was followed by finger-pointing among departments inside the CIA as the spy agency tried figure out what went wrong and contain the damage.

The fate of these CIA assets is unknown. Hezbollah treats spies differently, said Matthew Levitt, a counterterrorism and intelligence expert at the Washington Institute for Near East Studies who’s writing a book about the terrorist organization

“It all depends on who these guys were and what they have to say,” Levitt said. “Hezbollah has disappeared people before. Others they have kept around.”

Who’s responsible for the mess in Lebanon? It’s not clear. The chief of Hezbollah operations at CIA headquarters continues to run the unit that also focuses on Iranians and Palestinians. The CIA’s top counterintelligence officer, who was one of the most senior women in the clandestine service, recently retired after approximately five years in the job. She is credited with some important cases, including the recent arrests of Russian spies who had been living in the U.S. for years.

Officials said the woman was succeeded by a more experienced operations officer. That officer has held important posts in Moscow, Southeast Asia, Europe and the Balkans, important frontlines of the agency’s spy wars with foreign intelligence services and terrorist organizations.