Venezuela’s acting President warns about U.S. led assassination attempt on political rival

Nicolas Maduro says that Pentagon and CIA plan to assassinate Capriles

By DANIEL WALLIS | REUTERS | MARCH 18, 2013

Venezuela’s acting president urged U.S. leader Barack Obama to stop what he called a plot by the Pentagon and the Central Intelligence Agency to kill his opposition rival and trigger a coup before an April 14 election.

Nicolas Maduro said the plan was to blame his opponent’s murder on the OPEC nation’s government and to “fill Venezuelans with hate” as they prepare to go to vote following the death of socialist leader Hugo Chavez.

Maduro first mentioned a plot against his rival, Henrique Capriles, last week, blaming it on former Bush administration officials Roger Noriega and Otto Reich. Both rejected the allegations as untrue, outrageous and defamatory.

“I call on President Obama – Roger Noriega, Otto Reich, officials at the Pentagon and at the CIA are behind a plan to assassinate the right-wing presidential candidate to create chaos,” Maduro said in a TV interview broadcast on Sunday.

Maduro, who is Chavez’s preferred successor, said the purpose of the plot was to set off a coup and that his information came from “a very good source.”

During his 14 years in power, the charismatic but divisive Chavez, who died March 5 after a two-year battle with cancer, often denounced U.S. plots against him and his “revolution.” Critics dismissed those claims as a smokescreen to keep voters focused on a sense of “imperialist” threat.

In kicking off the opposition’s campaign in the provinces on Saturday, Capriles said Maduro would be to blame if anything happened to him.

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When does the perception of legality trump morality and ethics?

By LUIS MIRANDA | THE REAL AGENDA | FEBRUARY 8, 2013

The dire consequences of having a lawyer as President of a country are well-known by now. According to many lawyers, legality, or the perception of legality trumps morality and ethics. Sometimes even in the absence of legality, immoral and unethical acts are committed and justified with little or no opposition from those who, in other cases, sustain the power of the laws when they benefit their baseless explanations.

The notion that a person or a person on behalf of a country or a group of people can award himself the power to murder others who he thinks are a threat, has no legal, moral or ethical standing. Lawyers, however will tell you the opposite. They will tell you that killing someone whose guilt is yet to be proven can be legal in some cases. They use criteria that is supposedly contained in international, constitutional and national security laws used as justification to execute someone without proving guilt or intention to commit a crime, and in doing so, the right to have due process and the benefit of being tried by a jury of peers is illegally denied.

The latest example of what I call the ‘idiocy of legalities’ is the perception expressed by Christopher Swift, Assistant Professor of National Security Studies at the University of Georgetown. During an interview where he was questioned about the legality, morality and ethics used to support the murder of Americans and thousands of innocents with drones, Swift poses that such action must be analyzed through three different microscopes. First, the legal aspect, where he stands along the murderous policies of the United States government.

In the case of Anwar al-Awlaki — an American citizen assassinated in Yemen by a drone attack — “it met international law,” says Swift, because the man was in a country which authorized the U.S. to use drones in the fight against Al-Qaeda. As we all know by now, al-Awlaki was a U.S. asset in the region. He was an agent of the U.S. government who dined at the Pentagon just days after the 9/11 attacks. He was a member of al-Qaeda, a terrorist organization created by the U.S. government back in the 1970s.

“It also meets constitutional legality,” adds Swift. He says that a U.S. president can order the death of a fellow citizen “even if he is in a foreign country that is at war.” Mr. Swift bases his assumption on the debunked claim that al-Awlaki was plotting to attack United States or an American ally. That claim comes from the same U.S. government who the cleric used to work for, in which case the people in need to be tried and or assassinated would be the members of government who sponsored, kept secret or aided al-Awlaki to supposedly carry out such attacks. In fact, there is a legal mechanism to do that very same thing when people are accused of Treason, which is what a group of hand-picked, high-level government official engage into.

Swift’s position on this issue shows three things. First, he is, at least publicly, a gullible loser who trusts his government. Second, he would kill anyone before awarding him the proper due process, just because there is a law that says so. Third, the perception of legality and constitutionality, as they were understood in the framework of the U.S. Constitution, has been changed by so-called legal experts, because while the document guarantees due process to anyone accused of a crime, those who read, study and interpret the law do not believe such right should be respected in some cases. To sum up, nowhere on the U.S. Constitution the government is allowed to capture, hold indefinitely or murder citizens without a trial, and any law created by politicians that says the contrary is simply unconstitutional. But lawyers make up laws and interpretations of the laws so that it is perceived that such actions are legal and constitutional.

“The Supreme Court upheld that it is legitimate to kill a U.S. citizen without violating the Fifth Amendment as long as it involves an imminent threat,” asserts Swift. The fact that the Supreme Court upholds the prerogative that the government gave itself to kill citizens at home or abroad does not have any legal, moral or ethical standing. Murder is always a crime and the idea that some questionable, bogus threat justifies murdering someone are really threatening to the legal pillars that sustain the United States as a Republic. Just because something is perceived or interpreted as legal, which is not the case here, does not make it constitutional, moral or ethical.

Mr. Swift then analyzed the legality of enhanced interrogations, better known as torture. In the case of the crimes committed by the previous administration, Swift does find the standing to call it illegal. “The authorization of the use of torture during the mandates of George W. Bush is completely illegal,” said Swift. It is important to remember that many of the torture sessions carried out by the United States government, which have been proven not to be useful tools to obtain relevant intelligence, ended up in the death of those who were tortured. In this sense, Swift sees murders committed by people flying high-tech toys as legal, while condemning murder by methods such as water boarding. Double standard?

When questioned about whether the Obama administration should change its strategy in its supposed attempt to fight terrorism, Swift quickly pointed out what according to him is the relevant aspect of the discussion. “The debate should not focus on the legality of drone attacks, but on its long-term effectiveness. How effective will the fight against terrorism be when done with a remote control? Not effective at all. The military success of the Army is not contributing to political stability that is what the U.S. intends to achieve in Yemen and Afghanistan.”

Clearly, Mr. Swift and the U.S. government have a lot in common. For example, they believe that the universal right to life does not exist when a person has brown skin, wears a turban and lives in a country thousands of miles away from the U.S., where he expresses hatred towards American politics. Also, legality and constitutionality are not what the founding documents of the United States say they are, but whatever lawyers say it is; no matter how badly those interpretations of what is legal or constitutional oppose the U.S. Constitution and the Bill of Rights. Last but not least, legality trumps morality and ethics. One could even risk a guess and say that for people like Barack Obama, a constitutional lawyer himself, and Christopher Swift, the trait of humanity is simply meaningless if there is a legal backdoor that can be crossed to destroy it.

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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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American Military and black operations: Where is the red line?

By LUIS MIRANDA | THE REAL AGENDA | DECEMBER 11, 2012

Just as public and corporate partnerships have merged over the past two decades, so has the connection between the worlds most corrupt terrorist agency – the CIA – and the United States Department of Defense. Given the unsuccessful operations in Iraq and Afghanistan after declaring war on both nations to hunt those ghost organizations that the United States itself created and managed, the White House agreed to give the CIA even more power to carry out so-called anti-terrorist operations abroad, which are terrorist operations against non-aligned regimes.

Recent examples of these terror operations are the actions taken by the CIA previous and during the Arab Spring in Egypt, Libya and now in Syria, where western forces including NATO and CIA operatives launched attacks from Turkey into the kingdom of Bashar al-Assad. The new powers given to the CIA include enhancing its operations with the latest surveillance technology, for example unmanned armed remotely controlled drones which are operated by the Pentagon under CIA direction.

It is not a surprise that the U.S. Government decided to switch the head of the CIA and the commander of military operations in the Middle East last year in an attempt to homogenize the operations of both government organizations. The White House has also increased the spy network that works directly with the Pentagon to exercise a greater control over terrorist plots in the Arab Peninsula, Africa and Asia.

The move to inadvertently combine the power of both the CIA and the Pentagon began more actively under the George W. Bush administration, but rapidly accelerated under the presidency of Barack Hussein Obama. The CIA has grown its operations over territories supposedly taken over yihadists, but not to combat their operations.

The U.S. Government managed to buy off terrorists groups as it did in Afghanistan back in the 1970s with a group known today as al-Qaeda. The flow of drug money and other funds laundered by large banking corporations fuel the bribery system that allows the CIA to keep certain key terrorist groups working for them, as supposed to against U.S. Interest in some of the most volatile regions of the planet.

The merge of the CIA and the Pentagon was completed after the 2011 summer directive issued by Barack H. Obama to have the then CIA Director, Leon Panetta, take over the United States Department of Defense, while David Petraeus, the most influential ground operations commander in Iraq and Afghanistan was named the head of the Central Intelligence Agency.

General David Petraeus left the CIA last november after he allegedly admitted to have had an extramarital affair with his biographer. Of course, it is unlikely such an affair was the real reason Petraeus left the spy agency. Former intelligence insiders believe it was Petraeus opposition to America’s way of conducting military and intelligence operations what made him leave his post as the top spy chief.

Petraeus is not the first top General to exit U.S. military entities. Two or three other strong men inside the military were fired or asked to be relieved of their duties due to their disagreements with the way combat missions were being conducted.

There is an increased trend from the part of the CIA and the U.S. military to use remotely controlled drones to carry out attacks in the Middle East, North Africa and other regions and a diminishing trend to use heavy military power. The new way to wage war includes the use of special operations commandos as well as special forces which carry out attacks from land and sea positions.

Both of these operational groups rely more often than not on CIA assets in the region along with a higher number of military analysts”, explains professor Paul Rogers, a specialist on international security from Bradford University. “I think we won’t see the U.S. Government sending large numbers of troops to war-torn regions as it happened in Iraq and Afghanistan. Long are the days when the Army needed to send 100,000 soldiers to the battlefield,” he adds.

The so-called presidential kill list has never been more relevant, as the CIA becomes more militarized with its own drone flotilla and presidential authorization to people who the president believes represent a threat to the United States. Who and why are on that list is known by just a few people. In September 2011, the U.S. government carried out a terrorist attack on a former CIA asset, Anwar al-Awlaki, who had dined at the Pentagon weeks after the 9/11 terror attacks on New York and Washington.

After al-Awlaki, the U.S. has carried out even more drone attacks against targets who are thought to be heads of terrorist organizations that intend to attack America or its interests in Asia, Africa and the Middle East. However, neither the Pentagon nor the CIA have shown proof that such a threat exists. Anwar al-Awlaki’s involvement with al-Qaeda or any other terrorist organizations was never proven while the U.S. government always denied he had ever dined with members of the Pentagon’s leadership. Al-Awlaki was a United States citizen.

Besides the kill list in the hands of the CIA, the U.S. Army also has its own note pad full of names of people who need to be put down. This list is updated on a weekly basis in a meeting held by military analysts. Those analysts supposedly make recommendations to the president to add or remove names from the list during an intelligence briefing known as “terror Tuesday”.

Attacks such as the one that killed Awlaki are carried out by unmanned drones which are controlled by trained assassins in various military based around the world. Since 2002, the U.S. military and the CIA have launched almost 500 kill missions in countries like Pakistan, Afghanistan, Yemen and Somalia. Many of those attacks raised tensions last year between the U.S. and Pakistan who in several occasions asked the U.S. to vacate bases on Pakistani soil and to stop killing its citizens.

The person directly responsible for the drone attacks is the commander-in-chief of the armed forces, whomever this person may be. Barack H. Obama himself has authorized attacks on both Yemen and Somalia, but according to intelligence officials Obama is kept in the dark about most drone attacks launched in Pakistan. The U.S. military also employs drone attacks against supposed targets in Afghanistan, even after major murder operations concluded.

Those attacks which are not supposedly authorized by Obama, are jointly organized and managed by the Central Intelligence Agency and the Pentagon’s Special Operations Command. Although the White House denies the existence of an official military program where drones are used, it is well-known that both the CIA and the Department of Defense carry out continuous surveillance operations both inside and outside the United States.

Despite the secrecy, which the American government justifies with the classic “it is a matter of national security” many of the attacks are known to be based on false intelligence. “They don’t know what they’re doing,” says Professor Clive Stafford, the head of REPRIEVE, a Human Rights organization. “For example, in the case of the information provided by Pakistani sources, such intelligence information comes from people who are paid to seek and pass the information. But this same people are also paid by sources on the other side to provide false information to the Americans. That is why the CIA has now asked the U.S. government to support the recruitment of 1,600 new intelligence assets, which according to the spook agency will help improve the quality of the information received by the military and the CIA itself.

Another problem with the terrorist air attacks, says Stafford, is that the attacks always take the lives of people who have nothing to do with the supposed terrorists. But both for the military and the CIA, these casualties of war are worthwhile if it means that their operations will continue to have funding from the U.S. tax payers and drug money with which a terrorist organization such as the CIA finances most of its operations.

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Leon Panetta announces that “Cyber Pearl Harbor” is near

By LUIS MIRANDA | THE REAL AGENDA | OCTOBER 22, 2012

The cyber ​​war against Iran began under President Bush with a series of attacks commanded by the governments of the United States and Israel. Their first known product, the Stuxnet virus, severely disrupted the Iranian nuclear facilities a couple of years ago. When it was discovered in the summer of 2010, the virus had escaped to the Internet from the Iranian Natanz nuclear plant. Obama made clear his concern and said he was weary about the U.S. turning into a “hacker” which could be a justification for other countries to launch attacks against the U.S.. But that is precisely what the cyber war is all about: seeking an external attack by provoking American foes so the military industrial complex can justify the takeover of the internet. Obama himself has approved internet censorship legislation that enables him and his government to block large portions of the internet or even to switch the net off.

Although officially the Iranians are the villains, they were not the first to push the button. It was Obama himself, who during his first presidential term, decided to carry out this less futile kind of war. He and his government developed cyber spying and cyber sabotage procedures that are now applied against the American people themselves as well as foreign governments. The plans to launch spying and cyber war games includes the use of drones to attack targets in countries such as Somalia, Yemen, Afghanistan and Pakistan.

The cyber war is usually kept quiet, so not many people learn about it unless it is found out that the U.S. and Israel are behind the attacks launched against Iran, as it has happened lately. Meanwhile, Leon Panetta, who has just declared that his country is on the brink of a “cyber Pearl Harbor”, does not say absolutely anything about the provocations carried out by the U.S. and its ally Israel. What is causing Panetta’s concerns? The Defense Secretary of the United States is referring to recent attacks on computer systems that belong to Saudi oil companies and U.S. financial institutions, which the U.S. attributes to Iran; more specifically, a cyber war operation put together by the Islamic Republic of Iran.

The existence of Iranian cyber warriors is not new, but the US has not shown any convincing proof that Iran was the one that attacked the Saudis or American banks. Since 2011 and in response to a previous cyber attacks that sought to hack its nuclear program — conducted by Israel and the US — Iran began working on a program to not only defend itself from such attacks, but to carry out offensives against its aggressors. But the United States has not demonstrated that the attacks carried out in August that affected the national oil company Saudi Aramco and some US banks, were of Iranian making.

Obama’s doubts about having the US work as a cyber terrorists state ended quickly and the White House along with the Pentagon and the CIA began a program known as Olimpic Games. Through this and other programs, Obama approved the escalation of cyber attacks against Iran. back in early July, The New York Times published an extensive report that explained how Obama “secretly ordered increased attacks against sophisticated computer systems inside Iranian factories that worked in the enrichment of uranium.” The report detailed how this plan expanded significantly the use of cyber terror tools from the part of the US government.

After launching the attacks, Obama also called on American civil and military intelligence services to work closer together and to cooperate on this front with the Israelis. After initially denying it, so that it did not have to recognize its weakness, the Iranian regime ended up recognizing that trojans, viruses and malware coming from outside Iran had infiltrated its nuclear energy programs.

In 2010, Richard A. Clarke, who was head of U.S. counterterrorism services with Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, published an essay entitled Cyber ​​War. Clarke talked about World War III in cyberspace for which states like U.S., Israel, Russia and China were already preparing to fight.

Some people believe that Flame, one of the viruses that got inside Iranian computers may have been the first of many trojan horses to come. In late May, the Iranian government agency dedicated to the fight against piracy (its acronym CERT) announced that it had located the virus, the most malignant ever invented. Flame had been infecting computers for two years without being detected by any antivirus software.

Flame is a set of programs that performs multiple tasks of espionage and sabotage: records conversations, allows the computer to be controlled remotely, has Bluetooth and takes over upcoming mobile phones near the computers, copies and transmits data remotely and is  undetectable by any existing antivirus program today.

Of course, the U.S. does not officially recognize any of these viruses that have undermined Iran’s nuclear program. Neither does Israel. But it is well known that the U.S. Air Force already has 7000 cyber warriors in bases located in Texas and Georgia. It is unknown to the public how many more of these the US has in other departments of the Pentagon, the CIA and other U.S. federal government agencies.

The effort to turn the US into a cyber terrorist state began in 2009 under President Obama. After approving various pieces of legislation, the US government created the United States Cyber ​​Command (USCYBERCOM) which is the organ that manages all special operations of the U.S. Air Force.

USCYBERCOM was not the only creature of its kind and now it seems to have found a serious rival in the Iranian specialized units.

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