Archive for March 18, 2011


We know the “rebellion” in Egypt and Libya was fueled via “Facebook Groups” which formed the “APRIL 6 MOVEMENT”.  These are part of “Operation Sock Puppet”.

Revealed: US spy operation that manipulates social media
Exclusive: Military’s ‘sock puppet’ software creates fake online identities to spread pro-American propaganda
http://www.guardian.co.uk/technology/2011/mar/17/us-spy-operation-social-networks
Nick Fielding and Ian Cobain – guardian.co.uk, Thursday 17 March 2011 13.19 GMT
General David Petraeus has said American efforts to spy on social media are aimed at ‘countering extremist ideology [Zionism perchance!] and propaganda and ensuring credible voices are heard’. Photograph: Cliff Owen/AP

The US military is developing software that will let it secretly manipulate social media using fake online personas designed to influence internet conversations and spread pro-American propaganda.
A Californian corporation has been awarded a contract with the US Central Command (Centcom) to develop what is described as an “online persona management service” that will allow one serviceman or woman to control up to 10 separate identities at once.
The contract stipulates each persona must have a convincing background, history and supporting details, and that up to 50 controllers must be able to operate false identities from their workstations “without fear of being discovered by sophisticated adversaries”.
The project has been likened by web experts to China’s attempts to control and restrict free speech on the internet.
Centcom’s contract requires the provision of one “virtual private server” in the United States and eight appearing to be outside the US to give the impression the fake personas are real people located in different parts of the world. It calls for “traffic mixing”, blending the persona controllers’ internet usage with the usage of people outside Centcom in a manner that must offer “excellent cover and powerful deniability”.
Once developed the software could allow US service personnel, working around the clock in one location, to respond to emerging online conversations with a host of co-ordinated blogposts, tweets, retweets, chatroom posts and other interventions. Details of the contract suggest this location would be MacDill air force base near Tampa, Florida, home of US Special Operations Command.
Centcom spokesman Commander Bill Speaks said: “The technology supports classified blogging activities on foreign language websites to enable Centcom to counter violent extremist and enemy propaganda outside the US.”
He said none of the interventions were in English, as it would be unlawful to “address US audiences” with such technology, and any English-language use of social media by Centcom was always clearly attributed. The languages in which the interventions are conducted include Arabic, Farsi, Urdu and Pashto.
The multiple persona contract is thought to have been awarded as part of a programme called Operation Earnest Voice (OEV), which was first developed in Iraq as an psychological weapon against the online presence of al-Qaida supporters and others ranged against coalition forces. Since then OEV is reported to have expanded into a $200m programme and is thought to have been used against jihadists across Pakistan, Afghanistan and the Middle East.
OEV is seen by senior US commanders as a vital counter-terrorism and counter-radicalisation programme. In evidence to the US Senate’s armed services committee last year General David Petraeus, then commander of Centcom, described the operation as an effort to “counter extremist ideology and propaganda and to ensure that credible voices in the region are heard”. He said the US military’s objective was to be “first with the truth”.
This month Petraeus’s successor, General James Mattis, told the same committee that OEV “supports all activities associated with degrading the enemy narrative, including web engagement and web-based product distribution capabilities”.
The discovery that the US military is developing false online personalities – known to users of social media as “sock puppets” – could encourage other governments, private companies and non-government organisations to do the same.
Critics are likely to complain that it will allow the US military to create a false consenus in online conversations, crowd out unwelcome opinions and smother commentaries or reports that do not correspond with its own objectives.
Centcom confirmed that the $2.76m contract was awarded to Ntrepid, a newly formed corporation registered in Los Angeles. It would not disclose whether the multiple persona project is in operation or discuss any related contracts.
Nobody was available for comment at Ntrepid.
In his evidence to the Senate committee Gen Mattis said: “OEV seeks to disrupt recruitment and training of suicide bombers; deny safe havens for our adversaries; and counter extremist ideology and propaganda.” Centcom was working with “our coalition partners” to develop new techniques and tactics that the US could use “to counter the adversary in the cyber domain”.
According to a report by the inspector general of the US defence department, in Iraq OEV was managed by the multinational forces rather than Centcom.
Asked whether any UK military personnel had been involved in OEV, Britain’s Ministry of Defence said it could “find no evidence” of this. The MoD refused to say whether it had been involved in the development of persona management programmes, however, saying: “We don’t comment on cyber capability.”
OEV was discussed last year at a gathering of electronic warfare specialists in Washington DC, where a senior Centcom officer told delegates that its purpose was to “communicate critical messages and to counter the propaganda of our adversaries”.
Persona management by the US military would face legal challenges if it were turned against citizens of the US, where a number of people engaged in so-call sock puppetry have faced prosecution.
Last year a New York lawyer who impersonated a scholar was sentenced to jail after being convicted of “criminal impersonation” and identity theft.
It is unclear whether a persona management programme would contravene UK law. Legal experts say it could fall foul of the Forgery and Counterfeiting Act 1981, which states that “a person is guilty of forgery if he makes a false instrument, with the intention that he or another shall use it to induce somebody to accept it as genuine, and by reason of so accepting it to do or not to do some act to his own or any other person’s prejudice”. However, this would apply only if a website or social network could be shown to have suffered “prejudice” as a result.

VETERANS TODAY EXCLUSIVE: RAYMOND DAVIS RELEASE – IMRAN KHAN & IJAZUL HAQ INTERVIEWS – THE INSIDE STORY (video)

March 16, 2011 posted by Gordon Duff

“FAMILY KIDNAPPED, FORCED TO SIGN ‘PARDON LETTER’” – PAKISTAN IN SHOCK

“PAKISTAN’S GOVERNMENT HAS SOLD OUT THE PRIDE OF THE NATION”  Imran Khan

“ABUSE OF ISLAMIC (SHARIA) LAW BY UNITED STATES TO RELEASE A KILLER”  Ijazul Haq

BREAKING!  VIOLENT DEMONSTRATIONS IN FRONT OF US CONSULATE IN LAHORE.  DAVIS FLOWN BY HELICOPTER TO PRIVATE PLANE, THEN TO BAGRAM FOR DEBRIEFING.

By Gordon Duff STAFF WRITER/Senior Editor and Raja Mujtaba, Bureau Chief Veterans Today Islamabad


CIA contractor Raymond Davis was released by Punjab officials after a reported deal was negotiated with the families of the two men he was accused of murdering.  Davis was scheduled to be indicted for murder charges today.  Security forces picked up the families last night.

In direct contradiction to news stories, the payment of “Blood Money” under Sharia law is an admission of guilt and, by western standards represents a conviction.

Former Minister of Religion for Pakistan, Ijazul Haq, called the decision by the United States “inconsistent with America’s rejection of Sharia law and an open admission that claims of “diplomatic privilege” were knowingly false.  Pakistan’s foreign minister, Shah Mehmood Querishi resigned his post on February 16 in protest, based on American demands that he falsify Raymond Davis’ visa status from “business” to “diplomatic.”

Despite the late hour, spontaneous demonstrations have materialized around Pakistan.  The US Consulate in Lahore is the scene tonight of violent clashes between police and anti-American demonstrators.  More demonstrations are planned for tomorrow as political parties vie for credibility in light of the public outrage at Davis’ release.

VETERANS TODAY EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEWS WITH IMRAN KHAN AND IJAZUL HAQ
YouTube – Veterans Today –
YouTube – Veterans Today –

A payment estimated a $2 million was made to secure the release.  The families are still in police custody.  Davis is now at an undisclosed location, rumored to be Bagram Air Force Base in Kabul.

Imran Khan, Pakistan’s “rock star” political leader and philanthropist expressed deep concerns.  “This is a gift for Islamic radicals and will incite, not only waves of hatred toward the United States but an upsurge in terrorism as well.”
YouTube – Veterans Today –

THE REAL STORY

Press stories are largely inaccurate and incomplete.  This is what actually happened according to high ranking sources in the Punjab police and government officials who wish to remain anonymous.

Tonight, Afzal, the uncle of Shumaila, the widow of one of the slain men who had committed suicide, went on Pakistani television.  He told the audience, moments ago:

Family members were told they were being taken to the police station to make statements.  Instead, they were taken to a secret location and held in isolation and told that unless they signed a letter pardoning Davis, “you will never see daylight.”

Ijazul Haq, Pakistan’s former Minister of Religion and son of former Prime Minister Zia al Haq reports, in a VT exclusive, that members of the family and others involved, were given US citizenship to protect them from reprisals.

BACKGROUND

Senator John Kerry flew to Pakistan on February 16, 2011.  He met with Punjab’s ruling duo, Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif and his brother Nawaz Sharif, heads of the PML, Pakistan Muslim League. Kerry announced that the release would

 

FOREIGN MINISTER QUERISHI RESIGNED FEB 16 OVER RAYMOND DAVIS “DIPLOMATIC IMMUNITY” DEMAND

occur in a few days, although families refused to meet with him.

Shah Mahmood Qureshi, the former Foreign Minister resigned in protest but refused to grant diplomatic immunity to a criminal and a terrorist Raymond Davis. Today in press conference Qureshi said with pride that he stands vindicated for his decision.

Rana Sanaullah the Punjab Law Minister played the lead role.  Sources in Pakistan indicate that government and police officials in Punjab received millions in CIA payoffs in the deal.

Both PML leaders, the brothers Shahbaz and Nawaz Sharif, left Pakistan for London earlier this week, making sure they were out of the country after brokering the deal.

 

 

Raymond Davis Walks

From Al Jazeera:

http://english.aljazeera.net/indepth/features/2011/03/2011317131348571552.html

The case of Raymond Davis has all the trappings of a 21st century spy novel.

It is a story of murder, prison and clandestine payments, starring a burly former US Special Forces soldier tangled in a murky web of intelligence agencies, competing diplomats and – differentiating his case from Cold War spy sagas – shady private military contractors.

Pakistani authorities released the CIA contractor from prison on Wednesday, after families of two motorcyclists he killed in January were paid a reported $2.3mn in “blood money“.

Details surrounding the case are sketchy at best: a series of claims and counter-claims from various diplomats, agencies and organisations which are almost impossible to independently verify. And the stakes are high.

Privatising conflict

“The case highlights the fact that the US is engaged in a covert war in Pakistan – a country it has not declared war against,” says Jeremy Scahill, author of Blackwater: the Rise of the World’s Most Powerful Mercenary Army.

Davis, 36, once hustled for Blackwater, the controversial military contractor responsible for killing civilians in Iraq, which has since been rebranded as Xe Services LLC.

“He worked for Blackwater when the company was working on the drone bombing campaign with the JSOC [Joint Special Operations Command], and the CIA against high-value individuals in Pakistan,” Scahill told Al Jazeera.

Davis owns Hyperion Protective Consultants, according to ABC News. The firm sells surveillance equipment and provides clients with “loss and risk management professionals”.

In the new world of intelligence, individuals can wear several different hats, often at the same time.
“In theory, it would be cheaper to have government agents do the work contractors are doing: they don’t get paid as much and there is no dedicated profit margin,” says Eamon Javers, author of Broker, Trader, Lawyer, Spy: The Secret World of Corporate Espionage.

“There is a huge open question about the legal jurisdiction these contractors are operating under in war zones. They are not accountable to US military justice, as special ops would be,” Javers told Al Jazeera.

Christine Fair, a Pakistan expert at Georgetown University says, “There is nothing abnormal about military contractors gathering intelligence, conducting warfare or helping with diplomacy”, concerns about high costs, impunity and jurisdiction notwithstanding.

“The way we [Americans] do business, fight wars, provide assistance, and the way we run our embassies is being done through contractors,” Fair told Al Jazeera.

Who is immune?

When Pakistani authorities arrested Davis in Lahore, he carried classic tools of the spy trade: a Glock semiautomatic pistol, a long-range wireless set, camera, flashlight and small telescope.

The initial public conflict between Pakistan and the US revolved around Davis’s diplomatic status. The US said the contractor had diplomatic immunity from prosecution, while Pakistani authorities disputed the claim.

According to Fair, the issue of diplomatic immunity is simple and was “misconstrued” throughout the Davis saga. Whether Davis was a contractor or a formal embassy employee is not important for the question of immunity, she says.

“The diplomatic status of staff members is set by the sending countries,” she says, referring in this case to the US. “The Pakistani government has one choice to make: to accept the terms or not to. Pakistan accepted the terms and issued a visa and then re-issued it.”

There is no debate about the process for getting diplomatic immunity, as Pakistan and the US have signed the Vienna Convention which sets out the rules.

But Jeremy Scahill is not sure Davis’s diplomatic status is quite so clear. “There have been some reports that the US tried to claim he was a diplomat after the events took place,” Scahill says.

Conflicting crime stories

The events in question transpired on January 27. Davis was driving his car through a poor section of Lahore. He stopped at a crowded intersection. Two Pakistani men jumped off motorcycles and came towards him, with weapons drawn, according to American accounts of the incident. Davis opened fire with his Glock, killing them.

He said he fired in self-defence, assuming they were trying to rob him. Pakistani authorities disputed this claim, saying the men were shot in the back and Davis got out of his car to take photographs of the bodies.

Pakistani security forces chased Davis to a traffic circle a short distance away from the crime scene and arrested him. Before being taken down, Davis called the US Consulate to extract him from the dicey situation. The US sent an unmarked SUV tearing through the streets of Lahore.

It drove the wrong way down a one way street, killing a random motorcyclist, in a development that further infuriated Pakistanis. The three killings lead to widespread outrage, fuelling anti-American demonstrations.

“Those who oppose the partnership between Pakistan and the US have been making noise,” says Rasul Baksh Raees, a political science professor at Lahore University of Management Sciences.

Wary of anger on the streets, Pakistan’s government may have initially denied giving the contractor immunity to save face, says Muqtedar Khan, a professor of international relations at the University of Delaware.

Intrigue

Many Pakistanis, including the political opposition, are furious about US drone strikes and other killings in the country. But this is nothing new.

The intrigue concerns the identities of the men Davis killed – and the nature of his mission.

“Some suggest Davis was trying to document links between Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence agency (ISI) and Lashkar-e-Taiba [the Army of the Pure], which would expose the ISI’s links to the Mumbai attacks [of 2008],” says Khan. The US and UN Security Council have designated Lashkar as an international terrorist organisation.

In February, Leon Panetta, the CIA director, said the ISI-CIA relationship is one of the “most complicated” he has encountered during his time in intelligence.

“If Ray Davis was targeting Laskhkar or trying to establish links between it and Pakistani intelligence, that would be probably one of the most sensitive places to hit the ISI,” says Jeremy Scahill, the author and investigative journalist.

In a US federal court in New York, a lawsuit was filed in 2010 against the ISI for backing the Mumbai attacks. Davis’s conclusions could have damaged more than the ISI’s public image. US tax dollars paid to Pakistani security forces under the auspices of fighting terrorism, not to mention a major financial settlement, could be at stake.

Christine Fair, the Georgetown professor, says two high-level Pakistani officials told her that the men Davis killed were ISI agents tasked with following him.

Davis worked out of a safe house in an obscure part of Lahore as part of a CIA cell investigating Lashkar, Fair says.

“The CIA cooperates with the ISI on certain issues,” Fair says. “But these organisations also operate against each other. This is spy versus spy.”

The origins of Lashkar can be traced to US support for forces fighting against the Soviets in Afghanistan during the 1980s, Khan says. Today, the group operates openly in Pakistan from a sprawling compound in the suburbs of Lahore, where it runs schools, hospitals and a blood bank. Hafiz Saeed, the group’s leader, is a frequent commentator in the Pakistani press.

The group frequently espouses anti-Western ideology, targeting India, Israel and the US in their literature, says professor Fair, adding that “they never really operated to achieve those larger objectives – perhaps until 2004, when they started attacking the US in Afghanistan”.

The ISI and some other branches of Pakistan’s government see Lashkar as an important tool against India in Kashmir, a province claimed by both India and Pakistan, says Muqtedar Khan.

“In recent years, the balance of power has shifted significantly in India’s favour, in terms of traditional warfare,” Khan says. “The economic disparity is such that Pakistan cannot launch a conventional war against India for Kashmir,” he says. Pakistan sees unconventional forces like Lashkar as crucial defences against its traditional rival.

Pakistan also worries about Indian dominance in Afghanistan after the US pulls out, and wants Lashkar ready to fill the vacuum of American power, Khan says.

Money talks

Raymond Davis’s case has caused head-aches for the US and Pakistan. They both hoped it would go-away, but neither could lose face.

The payment of “blood money” to relatives of the men Davis killed – an accepted custom in Pakistan – was the easiest solution.

The sum of $2.3mn is exponentially higher than what the US normally pays family members when its forces kill innocents in Iraq or Afghanistan, Jeremy Scahill says.

Money talks, and such a large sum illustrates the importance of the case. According to Scahill, the blood money suggested by the US state department for victims of Blackwater killings in Iraq was about $5,000.

“What is even more important than the money, is what the Pakistanis and the ISI extracted from the US in exchange for [Davis’s] release,” Scahill says.

After “blood money” was paid, American consular officials whisked Raymond Davis out of the country. His exact mission, or the conclusions from the intelligence he gathered, may never come to light.

Hillary Clinton, the US secretary of state, denied that the US paid family members. However, she wouldn’t comment on who forked over the cash.

“It is rather a charade to suggest [the US] didn’t pay family members,” says Ray McGovern, a former CIA analyst, who alleged that the payment came from Pakistan’s ISI, which receives money from the US through bilateral military cooperation deals.

But Davis’s political footprint will last, as anti-American protests spread across Pakistan, with people demanding more accountability from foreign forces operating on Pakistani territory. “Raymond Davis was basically the tip of the iceberg,” says Professor Khan.

“He was not the cause, but a part of, the diverging interests between Pakistan and the US in the war on terror.”