A fascinating article from The New Yorker. Much, much more at the link.
State of Deception
Why won’t the President rein in the intelligence community?
In practice, Obama has not wavered from the position taken by the N.S.A.’s lawyers and embraced by Feinstein and the majority of the Intelligence Committee. “The system generally has worked,” Matthew Olsen told me. “One way to think about the current debate is the degree to which, as a lawyer or as a citizen, you have confidence in our government institutions to operate effectively and trust our system of court oversight, congressional oversight, and executive-branch responsibilities.”
The history of the intelligence community, though, reveals a willingness to violate the spirit and the letter of the law, even with oversight. What’s more, the benefits of the domestic-surveillance programs remain unclear. Wyden contends that the N.S.A. could find other ways to get the information it says it needs. Even Olsen, when pressed, suggested that the N.S.A. could make do without the bulk-collection program. “In some cases, it’s a bit of an insurance policy,” he told me. “It’s a way to do what we otherwise could do, but do it a little bit more quickly.”
Full article at http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2013/12/16/131216fa_fact_lizza?currentPage=all.
Updated to add this leaked NSA slide from Der Spiegel
RT Moscow Op-Edge 15th December, 2013 – It’s Putin vs Bandar Bush on the Syrian chessboard
Everyone remembers the spectacular four-and-a-half hour meeting last August in Moscow between President Putin and Bandar Bush – aka Bandar bin Sultan, Saudi Arabia’s Director of National Intelligence.
Well, there was a remix last week, also in Moscow. And once again in absolute secrecy, until a formidable leak from “a close and reliable source” in Russia reached Lebanese newspaper al-Manar.
Bandar Bush’s first offensive was a disaster; not only did Putin rebuff his attempt to “bribe” Moscow into abandoning Damascus, but subsequently Russia was pivotal in preventing the Obama administration from bombing Syria.
… President Putin’s answer can be summarized as a model of restraint. The “opposition” armed and financed by Saudi Arabia and Qatar is on a losing streak. Saudi support for the opposition has nothing to do with democracy; these “rebels” are in fact terrorists.
Neither Damascus nor Moscow needs Saudi funds to rebuild Syria; Russia, Iran and China will do the job. Moreover, Russia and the US reached an understanding that takfiri terrorism is a danger not only to American security, but to Russian and global security. The Europeans – fearful of returnee terrorists – also agree.
As the cherry on the sundae, Putin suggested to Bandar Bush to abandon “sectarian instigations and supporting terrorism, because it is a double edged sword that will rebound inside Saudi Arabia and gather momentum in a manner that you will not be able to control.”
Much more at link – http://rt.com/op-edge/syria-putin-bandar-saudi-263/
The Specials – Free Nelson Mandela
For those who think I’m a total lefty, I was actually once, in much younger days, a paid up member of the Conservative Party. I resigned principally over their “Hang Nelson Mandela” campaign, in the early 80s.
What on earth is going on?
Craig’s Blog craigmurray.org.uk has reverted to 2009.
All posts since May 2009 have vanished. Is there anything special about the page currently displayed?
Clark has been in contact with Craig (see comments below) and whatever has happened to the blog has NOT been authorised by Craig. Clark is now attempting to contact expathos hosting by email. FURTHER UPDATE: Richard at expathos has explained the situation in a comment here and will get the problem addressed on Monday. Monday: Craig’s blog is back up to date. Thanks Richard Kastelein.
Meanwhile there’s a very recent interview with Craig, originally linked by Mary, which you can find in the comments as well.
Comet Ison Comes to Life
Comet ISON Comes to Life
Veteran comet observer John Bortle reports that Comet ISON is undergoing a major outburst. It was six times brighter when he observed it this morning (November 14th) than on the previous morning.
Bortle noted a short, faint tail while viewing the comet through 15×70 binoculars. At least one observer has reported seeing the comet without optical aid.
New Bruce Gary Images
Animations and Images (C) Bruce Gary. Much more at http://brucegary.net/ISON/