The senator from Illinois who said he was willing to compromise and talk to our enemies is running out of time and is lacking in foreign policy results. The relationship with Russia and Putin has just reached a new low. The West has treated Putin with disdain in earlier years, the former KGB member takes it all in stride and calls bluf on all threats coming his way. The relation with Congress shows no breakthrough and Obama has resorted to send top Republicans to the Middle-East as his envoys. Nice!? Obama is putting his bet on the renewed IP peace talks under leadership of John Kerry in the coming nine months. If these fail, what results will Obama have to show as his legacy of eight years in the White House? Upheaval in the Middle-East, a broken Iraq and Afghanistan in despair on human rights, security and governance. What did Obama’s surge of 33,000 troops achieve in the battle against the Taliban. The opening of the Taliban office in Qatar and its shut down within days is a damning illustration. Perhaps Obama is just trying too hard and has lost his ability to prioritize and relativity. Too much a control freak and thereby passing the threshold of becoming an authoritarian incapable of accepting criticism. I will never understand his choice of key positions for Samantha Power and Susan Rice. Could it be his loyalty to individuals is fogging his judgement to the ultimate goal of US foreign policy? His best choice (by default!) is John Kerry as new Secretary of State.

Obama Administration Winning the Battle Against Journalists’ Rights

(The Contributor) July 24, 2013 – The part of the First Amendment that prohibits “abridging the freedom … of the press” is now up against the wall, as the Obama administration continues to assault the kind of journalism that can expose government secrets.

Last Friday, the administration got what it wanted – an ice-cold chilling effect — from the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, which ruled on the case of New York Times reporter James Risen. The court “delivered a blow to investigative journalism in America by ruling that reporters have no First Amendment protection that would safeguard the confidentiality of their sources in the event of a criminal trial,” the Guardian reported.

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The Executive Branch fought for that ruling — and is now celebrating. “We agree with the decision,” said a Justice Department spokesman. “We are examining the next steps in the prosecution of this case.” The Risen case, and potentially many others, are now under the ominous shadow of the Appeals Court’s pronouncement: “There is no First Amendment testimonial privilege, absolute or qualified, that protects a reporter from being compelled to testify … in criminal proceedings.”

At the Freedom of the Press Foundation, co-founder Trevor Timm calls the court ruling “the most significant reporter’s privilege decision in decades” and asserts that the court “eviscerated that privilege.” He’s not exaggerating. Press freedom is at stake.

Journalists who can be compelled to violate the confidentiality of their sources, or otherwise go to prison, are reduced to doing little more than providing stenographic services to pass along the official story. That’s what the White House wants.

The federal Fourth Circuit covers the geographical area where most of the U.S. government’s intelligence, surveillance and top-level military agencies — including the NSA and CIA — are headquartered. The ruling “pretty much guts national security journalism in the states in which it matters,” Marcy Wheeler writes.

That court decision came seven days after the Justice Department released its “News Media Policies” report [pdf] announcing “significant revisions to the Department’s policies regarding investigations that involve members of the news media.”

Did the NSA Help New Zealand Spy on a Reporter in Afghanistan?

(Atlantic Wire) – According to Snowden (and The Guardian’s Glenn Greenwald), NSA analysts have broad access to collected data. It shares access to data it collects with Britain in a fairly frictionless manner. If New Zealand has similar access privileges, it may not require much approval from NSA headquarters in Fort Meade, Maryland.

As for whether or not, the Defence Force would seek to surveil a journalist, the Star-Times suggests it would.

    An internal Defence document leaked to the Star-Times reveals that defence security staff viewed investigative journalists as “hostile” threats requiring “counteraction”. The classified security manual lists security threats, including “certain investigative journalists” who may attempt to obtain “politically sensitive information”.

We know that the United States government has sought similar metadata on journalists. In May, the Associated Press revealed that the FBI had subpoeaned a number of records related to phone numbers the agency maintains. It’s not clear if that subpoena was to the metadata database compiled by the NSA or directly to the phone companies. (The metadata is collected by the NSA to track terror suspects, but the FBI can use information from it with a subpoena for criminal investigations.)

The strongest evidence against the idea again comes from the AP, in the form of a partial admission from the New Zealand government — one that even the reporter for the Star-Times called “unsettling” to his story.

    New Zealand Defense Minister Jonathan Coleman acknowledged the existence of an embarrassing confidential order that lists investigative journalists alongside spies and terrorists as potential threats to New Zealand’s military. That document was leaked to Hager, who provided a copy to The Associated Press. Coleman said the order will be modified to remove references to journalists.

     He also said the New Zealand Defense Force had conducted an extensive search of its records over the weekend and had found no evidence that either it or any other agency had spied on Stephenson.

This is one of the side effects of the Snowden revelations. There was a time when a flat denial by a government would be sufficient. Now, governments that are complicit in the NSA’s surveillance are far less likely to get the benefit of the doubt. And it may take some time before we learn if that skepticism is warranted.

XKeyscore: NSA tool collects ‘nearly everything a user does on the internet’

Yemeni journalist who reported US missile strike is released from jail

(The Guardian) July 23, 2013 – A Yemeni journalist who was kept in prison for years at the apparent request of the Obama administration has been released in the Yemeni capital of Sana’a, according to local reports.

Abdulelah Haider Shaye was imprisoned in 2010, after reporting that an attack on a suspected al-Qaida training camp in southern Yemen for which the Yemeni government claimed responsibility had actually been carried out by the United States. Shaye had visited the site and discovered pieces of cruise missiles and cluster bombs not found in Yemen’s arsenal, according to a Jeremy Scahill dispatch in the Nation.

Shaye was arrested in August 2010 and charged, the following month, with being an al-Qaida operative himself. He was known for his ability to make contacts with extremist groups, skills that led to regular work reporting for western media outlets such as ABC News and the New York Times. At his trial, his reporting work was marshaled as evidence of terrorist ties. In January 2011, he was sentenced to a five-year term.

The charges against Shaye provoked an outcry among tribal leaders, human-rights activists and fellow journalists. Bowing to the pressure, then-president Ali Abdullah Saleh pardoned Shaye weeks after his sentencing. But in a February 2011 phone call with Saleh, President Barack Obama “expressed his concern over the release” of Shaye. The pardon was revoked.

Twitter account Jeremy Scahill: On this night, I honor the newly freed journalist Abdulelah Haider Shaye. Never should have been imprisoned pic.twitter.com/bGtTLBysVf

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Abdulelah Haider Shaye, imprisoned Yemeni journalist, reportedly freed (VIDEO)

Original story as reported in my diary:
Al-Awlaki Family Members Killed
By Oui on Sat Dec 26th, 2009 at 12:49:53 PM PDT

Yemen seems to be a hotspot where the U.S. has focused to counteract Al-Qaeda. For months heavy fighting by government forces with U.S. aid and CIA intelligence. The forces of Saudi Arabia have entered the battle zone along the extensive border. The influx of Somalian refugees has compounded the problems and stability of the Muslim state. Recently, U.S. cruise missile attack caused heavy casualties including 14 Bedouin children.

[Update] More than 120 people were reportedly killed by an airstrike in Yemen’s Saada province — and the Huthi insurgency is blaming the U.S. Air Force. (RT video)

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