Eurozone industrial output falls which put the economic recovery into question. Bank of England is stress testing banks for a property crash, as we know housing is in a bubble in the US, UK and around the world. China is pushing the yuan into the world market, it has surpassed the Euro and is now second to the US dollar. DHS is purchasing license plate scanners to track people and they are in the process of purchasing sniper round ammo. The Geneva II peace talks have produced nothing, the main objective is to remove Assad from government. If the Assad government does not agree to this deal be prepared for a false flag event to push war with Syria.
Please check the Sentinel Alerts for the latest news on the economic collapse. The Sentinel Alerts are updated throughout the day. If you haven’t already, go to “The People” and join the community of people who are helping each through the economic collapse.
Current News – 02.12.2014
- Official figures show industrial output in the 17-nation eurozone fell more than expected last December, underlining the fragility of the bloc’s recovery process.
- The official statistical office of the European Union, Eurostat, said Wednesday that the industrial output dropped by 0.7 percent in December 2013 after a revised 1.6 upturn in the previous month.
- The December drop was higher than forecast, as analysts polled by Reuters expected a fall of 0.3 percent for the month.
- Eurostat also revealed that the industrial output in the full 28-member European Union also fell by 0.7 percent in the last month of 2013 compared with November, when it rose 1.3 percent.
- A contributing factor to the slump was a fall in output of energy and capital goods, which dropped by 2.1 percent against November.
- The U.K. has already almost breached the unemployment level that was a target for considering tightening policy, and Governor Mark Carney is widely expected to update the market on interest rate guidance.
- Possibly of more importance is the fact that the Bank of England is to test whether UK banks and building societies would go bust if house prices crash. A ‘stress test’ will examine whether banks will need bailing out, or bailing in as seems more likely now, if house prices materially correct again.
- Preparations have been or are being put in place by the international monetary and financial authorities, including the Bank of England for bail-ins. The majority of the public are unaware of these developments, the risks and the ramifications.
- The test is being drawn up by the Bank’s Financial Policy Committee, whose members include Governor Mark Carney.
- A Nationwide Building Society survey just out showed house prices had risen by 8.8% in January over the same month last year. London house prices have all the symptoms of a classic bubble.
- Many UK banks are already over extended and the real risk is that many banks would not be able to withstand house price falls. This heightens the risk of bail-ins.
- Despite being told by Bullard, Yellen (and numerous other Federal Reserve thinkers) that quantitative easing was aimed at improving the housing market, the data suggests that – somewhat predictably – it did very little for mom-and-pop organic real home-buyer but stoked speculation and fervor among fast-money cheap-funding investors (and as Marc Faber noted actually hurt the average homebuyer via un-affordability). The week-to-week ebbs and and flows in mortgage applications are notable (this week saw purchase applications drop 5% and back near recent lows) but a bigger picture glance at just where this “recovery” has been tells a very different story about confidence among home-buyers.
- Mortgage applications for home purchases have basically flatlined since the Fed began QE and hover now just above their lowest levels since 1995…
One banker dies you can say it was a freak accident, if bankers die every other week it is the central bankers cleaning up the mess.
- Ordinarily we would ignore the news of another banker’s death – after all these sad events happen all the time – if it wasn’t for several contextual aspects of this most recent passage. First, the death in question, as reported by the Stamford Daily Voice is that of Ryan Henry Crane, a Harvard graduate, who is survived by his wife, son and parents at the very young age of 37. Second, Ryan Henry Crane was formerly employed by JPMorgan – a bank which was featured prominently in the news as recently as two weeks ago when another of its London-based employees committed suicide by jumping from the top floor of its Canary Wharf building. Third: Crane was an Executive Director in JPM’s Global Program Trading desk, founded in 1999 by an ex-DE Shaw’er, a function of the firm which is instrumental to preserving JPM’s impeccable and (so far in 2013) flawless trading record of zero trading losses.
- There was little detail surrounding the death:
- The bill, which passed with a simple majority of 55-43, now goes to President Barack Obama, who has indicated he will sign it into law.
China Eyes Ways to Broaden Yuan’s Use - Aug 24, 2012
China aims to turn a trickle of cross-border trade that is settled
in yuan into a stream, with Latin America and the Middle East as the next
possible focal points,
BoK Governor Calls for Permanent Yuan-Won Swap - Oct 9,2012
South Korea’s top central banker Thursday called for a permanent swap
between won and China’s yuan, as part of efforts to prevent the repeat
of another financial crisis and reduce reliance on the U.S. dollar
Japan: Fear of a Yuan World - Oct 11, 2012
The Yuan or Chinese RMB will supplant the U.S. Dollar as the world’s reserve currency and the entire house of cards in the U.S. will come down as they are forced to pay for their imports with exports. Japan sees this coming…and they might be the first nation to publicly declare their fear of a Yuan World.
Aussies about to put another nail in the coffin of the USD - Nov 12, 2012
Chinese and Australian central banks are considering direct trading
between the yuan and the Australian dollar
Yuan gains acceptance as global currency – Nov 16, 2012
THE internationalization of yuan is gaining momentum as more and
more companies in Asia and Europe showed desire to use the
currency in the next six months
London’s yuan push stirs hopes of Eurodollar-style boom - March 4, 2013
A Bank of England pledge to help London become a global trading
centre for China’s yuan has stirred talk of a revival in the city’s
fortunes, similar to the explosion of the U.S. dollar market in
the 1960s and 70s.
Russian Banks Look to Yuan Bond Market - March 11, 2013
Russian banks are increasingly selling bonds in the offshore yuan market
as growing demand allows them to borrow at cheaper rates and gives them
a chance to diversify their funding bases.
China, Australia Reach Currency Deal - April 8 ,2013
Australia and China have agreed to allow each other’s currencies
to be directly converted, Prime Minister Julia Gillard said Monday.
Starting Wednesday, the Australian dollar will be directly convertible
into the yuan and vice versa.
Preparations underway for France- China currency swap – April 18,2013
The head of France’s central bank, Christian Noyer, has said a currency
swap agreement with China is definitely a way to go as the country seeks
to set up a mechanism to convert the Chinese currency within the
Singapore Launches RMB Clearing Service - June 4, 2013
The Singapore Branch of the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC)
kicked off its RMB clearing service in Singapore marking an
important step in Singapore’s development as an offshore RMB center
China-UK Sign Currency Swap Deal - June 24, 2013
China and Britain have reached a three-year deal to swap their currencies
when needed, the first such agreement between Beijing and a major developed
economy and a move that could help boost the Chinese yuan outside Asia.
Yuan Rises to Ninth-Most-Actively-Traded Currency Globally – Sept 7 ,2013
Watch the RMB quickly move into the top 3 traded currencies as soon as China makes the
RMB convertible which should be in 2014.
Kenya aims to host Africa’s first yuan clearing house - Sept 18, 2013
Kenya wants to host a clearing house for China’s yuan currency – a bold African first that would deepen the continent’s ties with Beijing, already a big investor from The Cape to Cairo.
China Fires Shot Across Petrodollar Bow: Shanghai Futures Exchange Will Price Crude Oil Futures In Yuan - Nov 21,2013
Shanghai Futures Exchange could price its crude oil futures contract in yuan, its chairman said on Thursday, adding that the bourse is speeding up preparatory work to secure regulatory approvals
Yuan Passes Euro as 2nd-Most Used Trade-Finance Currency - Dec 2013
China’s yuan overtook the euro to become the second-most used currency in global trade finance after the dollar this year, according to the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication.
Nigeria Central Bank to Move More Currency Reserves in Yuan - Jan 28,2014
Nigeria’s central bank plans to shift more of its $43 billion of reserves into yuan from dollars, the deputy governor said today, as the Chinese currency gains greater prominence in global trade.
Zimbabwe adopts Chinese yuan as currency Jan 30, 2014
- China is developing its first national single mobile payment platform. It’s been created to lift domestic information consumption and boost economic growth, and could replace cash, credit and debit cards.
- The system has been undergoing trials since the end of last year, China Daily reports.
- Very few countries possess an operating national payment platform, Colin Light, China Digital Consulting Leader for PricewaterhouseCoopers in Hong Kong told China Daily. China’s mobile platform based on Near Field Communication technology (NFC) has a bright future and potentially could abolish cash and plastic cards.
- The platform enables communication between financial institutions that provide mobile payments, and mobile network operators, People’s Bank of China Deputy Governor Li Dongrong revealed in an interview on Monday.
- Li said 21st century mobile finance is undergoing a standardization process to integrate mobile payment providers into a single system. The NFC-platform “provides a solid infrastructure foundation to help China boost domestic information consumption and make the sector a new driver for economic growth.”
- Mobile payment arms of China’s leading financial organizations, including China Construction Bank Corp, China CITIC Bank Corp Ltd, China Everbright Bank Co Ltd, China UnionPay have been connected to the country’s largest telecom operator China Mobile.
- “The biggest obstacle for banks and mobile operators to operate in a unified way is to build scale. You need a scale advantage to reach wide acceptance of payments,” said Light.
- Wang Weidong, an analyst with iResearch Group, said that despite heavy support from the People’s Bank of China, the NFC-based payments so far cannot compete with other internet payment systems simply because “there are not many NFC-enabled smartphones in China”.
- “To promote proximity payment, you need people to buy mobile devices that are tailor-made to use this technology,” Wang said, adding that it would imply changing the habits of people who use traditional forms of payment.
- NFC technology enables users to make quick payment by tapping a NFC-equipped device, such as smartphone, on a special terminal at checkout.
- So far the volume of payments done in this way in China is quite small, only 0.8 percent, which could be explained by the small number of NFC-terminals, said the iResearch Group. In 2013 third-party mobile payment transaction surged 700 percent to reach $197 billion.
- The Chinese Yuan is growing in importance as a global currency, and this trend has been especially apparent since the 2008 financial crisis. Several countries including Japan, Australia, and Brazil have set up bilateral trade agreements that stipulate that more trade between China and these countries will take place in their local currencies (the Yen, the Australian Dollar, and the Real), as well as in the Chinese Yuan. A consequence of this is that the U. S. Dollar will be used less frequently.
- In the past couple of days, we have seen a couple of announcements from two African countries — Nigeria and Zimbabwe — which indicate that this trend is set to continue.
- On January 28, Nigeria’s central bank announced that it intends to increase its Yuan holdings from 2 percent of total foreign exchange reserves to 7 percent. It will sell U. S. Dollar holdings in order to accomplish this. This means that Nigeria will sell roughly $2.15 billion worth of Dollars in order to buy Yuan.
- Nevertheless, these are significant announcements. They are part of a larger pattern — namely, the gradual global shift away from the U. S. Dollar and towards the Chinese Yuan. Dollar hegemony is waning as the Yuan’s usage is growing throughout the world as more nations want to do business with China without using Dollars. This is happening very slowly, but it is happening.
- A few years ago, China positioned itself as a global economic player, becoming the world’s second largest economy, mainly based on its trade relations with the rest of the world. Growing foreign trade has somehow motivated China to trade in yuan, also known as the renminbi. A recent report by the Bank for International Settlements (BIS) stated that the yuan joined the ranks of the most-traded international currencies. However, among the currencies of the world’s five largest economies, China’s renminbi is the only one that is not a reserve currency
- Through China’s economic development underpinned by trade and investments, the Chinese government has made it their agenda to increase the yuans international use. Even though monetary specialists argue that China’s financial system has to change before the renminbi becomes an international currency, China has already made inroads into the global financial market. Through the People’s Bank of China, China has first developed its domestic financial sector through reforms and created commercial banks which progressively entered international markets by taking equity stakes in foreign banks.
- China has become Africa’s largest trading partner. But the diversification of African countries’ foreign reserves into yuan has limitations for Africa’s overall global trade. The use of the renminbi in Africa could settle trade and financial transactions between China and African countries. This is one step of the internationalisation of the yuan. The central banks of both emerging markets and advanced economies have started having the yuan in their reserves. While there is an advantage for those countries to settle trade and financial operations with China by using the yuan, the increase of this practice also enables China to become less dependent of the US dollar
- The internationalisation of the yuan remains strategic for China to secure its imports, particularly resources from Africa. Since the 2008 to 2009 global financial crisis, China has been encouraging the use of the yuan in trade transactions. Growing trade and investments ties between China and Africa drives the use of the yuan in many African countries. In order to avoid using the dollar (which is highly used in the global market and involve exchange costs) in their transactions, African and Chinese businessmen, banks, companies and so on, welcome the idea of trading in yuan. Many African banks aim at diversifying their reserve currency and are open to the use of the yuan for trade settlement with China.
- Can Utah shut down the new NSA data center by turning off the water? A new bill introduced by state Rep. Marc Roberts seeks to do just that.
- The legislation drafted by a transpartisan coalition organized by the Tenth Amendment Center (TAC) and the Bill of Rights Defense Committee (BORDC) called OffNow Coalition. The Utah Fourth Amendment Protection Act would expressly prohibit state material support, participation, and assistance to any federal agency that collects electronic date or metadata without a search warrant “that particularly desribes the person, place and thing to be searched or seized.”
- “Without question, the mass surveillance and data collection by the Utah Data Center is a delicate and important matter,” Roberts said. “But for me, the language of the Fourth Amendment is clear. It simply protects us against unreasonable and unwarranted searches or seizures of our persons, private residencies and property, documents and information and personal and private belongings. This legislation preserves those rights to the people.”
- This puts contracts that provide the 1.7 million gallons of water a day necessary to cool the NSA computers at its Bluffdale facility in the crosshairs.
- Bluffdale, a political subdivision of Utah, provided the NSA with a sweetheart water deal. The bill would begin the process of ending that deal, potentially crippling the NSA’s ability to keep the facility functional.
- “No water equals no NSA data center,” TAC executive director Michael Boldin said.
- He called the potential impact of this legislation significant, especially compared to what Congress has done to deal with the agency.
- “In 1975, Sen. Frank Church warned that the power of the NSA could enable ‘total tyranny.’ He recommended that Congress should limit the agency’s power. Almost four decades later, we’re still waiting. Congress is not going to stop the NSA. The people and their states have to,” Boldin said. “Turn it off.”
- BORDC executive director Shahid Buttar echoed Boldin’s enthusiasm for state action.
- “At stake is nothing less than our nation’s triumph in the Cold War. The NSA’s decade of warrantless surveillance en masse assaults not only the rights of hundreds of millions of law-abiding Americans, and our democracy as a whole, but resembles Soviet-style spying — on meth, empowered and amplified by the past generation’s remarkable advances in computing technology,” he said. “Utah residents have a chance to take matters into their own hands, defending democracy by shutting off state resources consumed by the Bluffdale data center in its assault on We the People, our fundamental rights, and the Constitution that enshrined them.”
- Notable anti-establishment figures such as Naomi Wolf and Pentagon Papers whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg advise the BORDC.
- “The NSA was welcomed by politicians in Utah with a promise that their activities would be “conducted according to constitutional law”. As we all know, that promise has been violated—institutionally, repeatedly, and aggressively,” said Utah Libertas Institute President Conor Boyack. ”If Congress and the Courts are unable or unwilling to rein in this beast and put a stop to the rising surveillance state, then it’s up to the states to stake their ground and resist such broad violations of the Constitution. This new bill, along with others like it in over a dozen states, would accomplish that very thing.
All countries understand the collapse is inevitable and they need to keep track of those people who will be a threat to their power. Once the collapse occurs these drones will then be modified and armed to push back any of those who oppose them.
- About $400 have all ready been spent by the EU on the development of a secret drone project, that adds to the country’s further militarization, while the Parliament receives no information on the subject, Statewatch rights group reports.
- The EU keeps channeling money from taxpayers’ pockets to provide for the development of the surveillance drones. “More than 315 million euro ($430 million) has so far been spent in EU research funding on drone technology or drones geared towards a specific purpose such as policing or border control,” Statewatch rights group reports in their ‘Eurodrones Inc.’ report.
- The document is called invisible, since the Parliament of Europe remains uninformed on this matter, which lacks political oversight that could help to suppress the situation. Both chambers of the Britain’s parliament stated that they have not been informed about the construction of the unmanned aerial vehicles.
- The legislation called it a top-priority to develop surveillance drones for police and security services and to guard the borders. Security industry lobbying group seems to control the situation, giving away all kinds of awards to the supporters among the politicians, watchdogs report.
- The rights group reminds that the European Commission itself stated in 2012 that the development of the unmanned aerial craft should be more transparent, but as time goes by it become obvious that this statement served only to distract public attention.
- The European Group on Ethics, the LIBE Committee of the European Parliament and the European Agency for Fundamental Rights and Data Protection Supervisor were supposed to help manage the situation and work on the subject of the transparency, but the organizations were never involved.
- Their absence from policy debates means that many of the conversations the EU should be having about drones – such as what they should and should not be used for, and how to prevent further militarization and the deployment of fully autonomous weaponized drones – have been all but ignored.”
- While the activists do not openly clamor against the drones, they are concerned the UAVs can be used for all kinds of illegal and unwarranted operations.
- Today, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), through Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), have solicited for Commercial-Off-The-Shelf technology that allows DHS employees to track citizens by using license plate tracking readers on government vehicles in a system known as the National License Plate Recognition database (NLPR).
- DHS/ICE intend to track license plate numbers that are passed through the camera’s range, or are entered into the database by repossession companies and others. This data is then shared with all law enforcement, as there are no limits placed within the solicitation.
- Law enforcement officers will be able to search the NLPR database, presumably for an investigation; however, safeguards are frequently bypassed with regards to LEO access to LEDS/NCIC access. License plate tracking will be the next LEO abuse.
- The officers will be able to determine where and when the vehicle has traveled, and is touted as providing an extra layer of “Officer Safety” to allow for arrests away from a suspect’s residence. It is further espoused that this will reduce needed man-hours to conduct surveillance.
- LICENSE PLATE TRACKING
- Presumably, this is just for Homeland Security. But the truth of the matter is that this system is to be used by every law enforcement agency within the US.
- Data will be compiled from metropolitan areas, which can be searched from Smartphones, such as the Android/iPhone/BlackBerry that are currently in use by DHS/ICE, thus allowing for license plate pictures to be taken, and uploaded – cross referenced and then sent to alert the officer/agent of a positive match.
- While the government would insist on Originating Agency Identifiers (ORI), the solicitation requests:
- The Government would prefer the ability of the NLPR data service to allow communication between users (anonymously, via alias, or with full identity) to share information amongst the User group based on specific “Hot-List” “Target Vehicle” records.
- And DHS/ICE would like to keep some agencies out of the loop, by being able to conduct searches anonymously so that other law enforcement agencies may not have access.
- Local police departments have been using plate readers, primarily to locate stolen vehicles or absconders from justice. There is even a Grant Assistance for agencies to purchase license plate readers from ELSAG North America.
- The following is a partial list of agencies that currently use plate readers:
- Denver and Colorado Springs, CO
- South Portland, MN
- Gwinnett, Douglas and Cherokee counties in Georgia
- Clinton, CT
- Newark, Albany County, N.Y
- Ann Arbor, MI
- Portsmouth, VA
- Norwalk, CT
- Louisville, KY
- All of these agencies, and about 40 more, will be adding their photographs to the next monster database.
- Do not kid yourself. This is tracking of an individual that can be accessed at a whim. Yearly, officers are terminated for accessing the LEDS/NCIC database for looking into the histories of ex-lovers, future spouses, and potential sons/daughters-in-law.
- And with license plate tracking toy (not a tool), they will know where you are, as long as you have driven into the crosshairs of this new weapon for tyranny
- “My first shot at a hog with an AMAX out of the 300 SAUM was spectacular. Hit in the neck at 258 yards and there was only a little piece of fur holding the body together at that point. Good terminal performance.” -Mark Swab’s appraisal of the Hornady .308 AMAX sniper ammunition round
- Despite rising unemployment, record number of people on public assistance, the US Government via the Department of Homeland Security’s Immigration & Customs Enforcement (ICE) has placed a solicitation for more sniper ammo, in this order – they are requesting 141,160 rounds of ammunition (7,058 boxes) of Hornady .308 Winchester 168gr A-MAX TAP Ammunition.
- This is not their first foray into purchasing sniper ammunition.
- In September 2012, we reported DHS’s intent to purchase 176,000 rounds of the .308 caliber 168 grain ammunition. And surprisingly, they abruptly cancelled the solicitation.
- There has been no further requests for the ammunition until recently.
- Sniper Ammunition
- What makes the .308 ammunition so deadly is the long-range capability of the round. The ability is called ballistic coefficient, or the efficiency of a projectile in overcoming air resistance as it travels to its target. According to Speer Reloading Manual Number 13, the .308 165 grain has the highest coefficient of any hunting rifle:
- .224″ (.22) 55 grain, BC .255
- .243″ (6mm) 90 grain, BC .385
- .243″ (6mm) 100 grain BT, BC .430
- .257″ (.25) 100 grain BT, BC .393
- .257″ (.25) 120 grain BT, BC .435
- .264″ (6.5mm) 120 grain, BC .433
- .264″ (6.5mm) 140 grain, BC .496
- .277″ (.270) 130 grain BT, BC .449
- .284″ (7mm) 145 grain, BC .457
- .308″ (.30) 150 grain BT, BC .423
- .308″ (.30) 165 grain BT, BC .477
- .311″ (.303) 150 grain, BC .411
- .323″ (8mm) 150 grain, BC .369
- .338″ (.338) 200 grain, BC .448
- .375″ (.375) 270 grain BT, BC .429
- Hornady ammunition is not for the budget minded, and the Federal government will pay a premium price for their sniper ammunition: approximately $1.20 for each round, when they can get a lower grain .308 round for as little as $0.69 for a 147 grain .308 round from Lucky Gunner.
- In what has to be the most surreal “news” of the past 24 hours, we learned that Spain, caught in the vice of an unprecedented historic depression, endless “recovery” propaganda notwithstanding, and Turkey, the country whose currency crashed to record lows against the dollar a few short days ago and whose government has been defending itself from a tsunami of corruption allegations and busy firing all the judges who dare to voice disagreement with PM Erdogan, have decided to jointly build … wait for it … an aircraft carrier.
- According to Bloomberg, the proposed ship will be similar to Spain’s Juan Carlos I aircraft carrier, Turkish PM Recep Tayyip Erdogan says in Ankara during a news conference with Spanish counterpart Mariano Rajoy, in which Rajoy repeated that Spain remains a big supporter of Turkey joining the EU even if Germany has repeatedly (and will continue to) say “nein.”
- The State Department issued a travel warning Tuesday asking U.S. citizens to be aware of the risks of traveling to Saudi Arabia.
- According to the security warning:
- The security climate in Saudi Arabia continues to improve, despite an attack of unknown motivation on two German Embassy officials in Awamiyah in the Eastern Province in January 2014. The last major terrorist attack against foreign nationals occurred in 2007, but security threats are ongoing and terrorist groups, some affiliated with al-Qaida, may target both Saudi and Western interests. Possible targets include housing compounds, hotels, shopping areas and other facilities where Westerners congregate, as well as Saudi government facilities and economic/commercial targets within the Kingdom. This replaces the Travel Warning issued July 25, 2013, to update information on the current security situation in Saudi Arabia and the continuing threat posed by terrorism, and to reiterate recommendations on security awareness.
- On the night of January 13, 2014, unknown gunmen attacked the vehicle of two German Embassy officials who were traveling through the Awamiyah section of the al-Qatif Governate in the Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia. U.S. government personnel are prohibited from traveling to Awamiyah, and we recommend private U.S. citizens avoid the area as well.
- The rugged border area dividing Yemen and Saudi Arabia remains porous and is not clearly defined. U.S. government personnel are restricted from traveling within 50 miles of the border, which includes the cities of Jizan and Najran, without permission from Embassy security officials. Visitors who choose to travel to these areas despite U.S. government concern should be aware that terrorist and criminal elements may be operating there, including al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP). U.S. citizens are strongly urged to read the Department of State Travel Warning for Yemen before traveling to southern Saudi Arabia.
- A leading House lawmaker is calling on President Obama to publicly release the full text of the recently signed Iran nuclear deal, which is currently being held under lock and key in a secure compound on Capitol Hill.
- Rep. Ileana Ros Lehtinen (R., Fla.), a leading member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, wrote to Obama on Wednesday in a bid to force the Iran deal into the public.
- The precise details of the deal have remained “shrouded in secrecy” despite the critical nature of the agreement, Ros-Lehtinen said.
- The White House has come under increasing fire from lawmakers and others for refusing to publicly release the text of the deal. Lawmakers and qualified Hill staffers must submit to an extensive security procedure just to view the text, which is being kept hidden from the American public.
- The deal was even kept from members of Congress until the last moment, according to Ros-Lehtinen.
- “While the administration released an outline to the public of what the deal entailed, it was not until just days before implementation that the full text of the agreement was made available for members of Congress to review,” she wrote.
- “While you and members of your administration have touted the significance of this agreement, the fact is that you have provided only some of the details to the American public while keeping the rest shrouded in secrecy,” the letter states.
- The secrecy surrounding the deal has prevented Congress from providing critical oversight on the negotiations with Tehran, according to Ros-Lehtinen.
- “In order for Congress to properly perform its oversight functions and for the American people and our allies to have a full and open debate on the issue, I respectfully request that you make public the full text of the” deal, she wrote.
- As the deal text stays hidden in a secured office of Capitol Hill, Iran has “developed [nuclear] centrifuges that are 15 times faster than what they currently possess and claimed to have successfully test fired to long range missiles,” Ros-Lehtinen added.
- Due to Iran’s increasingly confrontational actions, as well as the White House’s continued refusal to release the deal, Ros-Lehtinen asks that Obama “take ever effort to make the full text” public to the “American people so they can judge for themselves the merits of this deal.”
- A step-by-step look at how ‘unclassified’ deal text is kept hidden from public
- The White House is keeping close tabs on who has read the text of the recently signed Iran nuclear deal, a document that has been marked as “unclassified,” yet is being kept in a highly secured location.
- Members of Congress and staffers with high-level security clearances are being forced by the White House to consent to top-secret security measures in order to view the deal text, which is off limits to the American public, according to a senior Senate aide familiar with the process.
- The White House has come under fire from Congress and others for refusing to publicly release text of the deal, which aims to roll back portions of Iran’s contested nuclear program in exchange for billions of dollars in economic sanctions relief.
- Precise details about the deal and the exact process to view it remain hazy.
- One senior Senate source described to the Washington Free Beacon an elaborate security process aimed at tracking who views the document and ensuring that no details emerge publicly.
- This is the type of treatment typically reserved for highly classified information, the source said.
- All members of Congress have clearance to view the deal. Yet “only staff who hold a ‘secret’ level or higher clearance are allowed to view it”—even though the deal is officially marked as an “unclassified document,” the source said.
- And everyone—members and staffers alike—must submit to a series of security procedures.
- Those looking to view the deal must go to a highly secured Capitol Hill office and submit to multiple security procedures meant to ensure that the Iran deal text does not become public.
- “Anyone eligible to view the document must make their way to the Senate Security Office in the Capitol Visitor’s Center,” the source told the Free Beacon. “This is the central depository for all classified material held inside the Capitol.”
- Upon arriving at the security office, “all communications devices must be stored outside the facility before entering” through the door.
- Once inside the security office, “you must identify yourself, show [proper identification], and sign a document listing your name, office, and date/time of viewing,” the source said.
- This step is to ensure that the Obama administration can keep track of who has viewed the deal and when.
- “This control document can be accessed and viewed by the administration at any time to review who is looking at the document,” the source explained.
- Once initial security checks are complete, the viewer is given a copy of the Iran deal.
- “You may take a copy of the document into a private reading room,” the source said.
- However, “no photocopies are allowed, no photos can be taken, and remember, your Blackberry or iPhone is sitting outside” the room, the source said. “Upon completion of review, you must sign it back in at the desk before leaving.”
- The process has frustrated members and staffers alike.
- “All of this for a document marked ‘unclassified’ at the top,” the Senate aide said. “This is complete insanity. People are right to wonder why an agreement the president hails as a milestone is being guarded from the public like gold at Fort Knox.”
- Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R., Fla.) has also described the deal text as being held in a “super secret location” that is shrouded in a “cone of silence.”
- “Why is it that members of Congress have to go to a super secret location, a cone of silence … to look at the deal?” Ros-Lehtinen asked a panel of nuclear experts last month during a House hearing.
- Ros-Lehtinen described the secret document as “quite eye opening” and wondered why the Obama administration continues to keep it under lock and key.
- “It’s a very easy to read document; one doesn’t have to be as expert,” she said, urging other members on the committee to examine the deal.
- “If this is such a great deal and so good for peace and diplomacy in our time why is it held in secret?” Ros-Lehtinen went on to ask. “If the administration is proud of it, I think they should highlight it.”
- Negotiations aimed at reaching a final deal with Iran are set to resume next week.
- The top U.S. intelligence chief said on Tuesday the war in Syria had created an “apocalyptic disaster” and said he was convinced that documents alleging torture and murder in the conflict were authentic.
- National Intelligence Director James Clapper Was asked by Senator John McCain during a Senate hearing whether he had seen the documents, published by an array of media outlets including CNN, as potential proof of atrocities by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s government.
- Clapper said he had, and that he believed they were real.
- “They’re terrible. And when you consider the humanitarian disaster in addition to the 2.5 million refugees, the 6.5 million or 7 million that are internally displaced, the 134,000 plus people that have been killed, it is an apocalyptic disaster,” he said.
- McCain, an Arizona Republican, asked if it was Clapper’s “professional opinion” that the documents are authentic.
- “I believe they are. I have no reason to doubt that, and it would be difficult to suggest, you know, that something of that magnitude could have been fabricated,” Clapper told the Senate Armed Services Committee.
- President Obama on Tuesday demanded Russian action in pushing Syria to fulfill its pledges on relinquishing its chemical arsenal, RIA Novosti reports.
- “Syria must meet its commitments, and Russia has a responsibility to ensure that Syria complies,” Obama told journalists in Washington.
- President Bashar Assad’s government admitted possessing chemical weapons and agreed to give them up several weeks after sarin nerve agent allegedly killed more than 1,400 people on the edge of Damascus. Russia, a backer of Assad’s regime, has supported the regime’s denials of responsibility for the chemical strike in rebel-occupied territory.
- Washington recently accused the Syrian government of dragging its feet in the disarmament effort, which last week missed a deadline for moving most of the chemical-warfare stocks onto foreign vessels for removal and destruction. Damascus has blamed delays on the dangerous nature of shipping the materials across territory ravaged by nearly three years of civil war. Still, Syrian and Russian officials have suggested an end-of-June deadline remains within reach for the stockpile’s full destruction.
- A key international official on Tuesday said Assad’s government is demonstrating “constructive cooperation” in the disarmament effort, and voiced confidence that the mid-year goal “will be met,”Agence France-Presse reported.
- “What’s important … is that there is an acceleration and intensification of efforts as we progress in time towards the deadline,” said Sigrid Kaag, special coordinator of the international disarmament operation overseen by the United Nations and the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons.
- Meanwhile, Obama said Washington has not ruled out the option of attacking Syrian government targets.
- “Right now we don’t think that there is a military solution per se to the problem, but the situation is fluid and we are continuing to explore every possible avenue to solve this problem,” he said.
- The potential for the United States to employ armed force in Syria became widely discussed immediately following the Aug. 21 chemical strike in the Syrian capital’s Ghouta suburbs.
- Despite having full information about what is happening in Syria on the humanitarian and disarmament tracks, the United States for some unclear reason tendentiously distorts Russia’s position on Syria, the Russian Foreign Ministry’s official spokesman Alexander Lukashevich said in a statement on Wednesday.
- He stressed that Russian-US partnership on Syria had played a crucial role in launching a political settlement on the basis of the Geneva Communique, which was signed on June 30, 2012.
- Earlier, US President Barack Obama, at a joint press conference after talks with French President Francois Hollande, held the Syrian government responsible for the worsening humanitarian crisis and for the disruption of the agreed schedule for Syria’s chemical weapons disarmament.
- The Syrian opposition called on Wednesday for a transitional governing body to be set up that would oversee a total ceasefire under UN monitoring and be empowered to drive out foreign fighters deployed on both sides of the civil war.
- The classified paper, obtained by Reuters, was presented to international mediator Lakhdar Brahimi and a Syrian government delegation at a joint session held at peace talks in Geneva.
- “The Transitional Governing Body will prepare and oversee a total ceasefire by taking immediate measures to stop military violence, protect civilians and stabilise the country in the presence of UN observers,” the five-page document said.
- Assad would be removed and a puppet regime will be put in his place.
- A multi-agency government task force looking into cyberattacks against retailers says it has not come across evidence suggesting the attacks are a coordinated campaign to adversely affect the U.S. economy.
- In a two-page report, the National Cyber Investigative Joint Task Force says the global implications of the retail attacks and the economic impact to private business and individual citizens cannot be overstated.
- The report obtained by the Associated Press does not identify the retailers by name, but it comes after recent attacks on Target and Neiman Marcus.
- The task force document says it is tracking and coordinating cyber investigative information among government agencies and industry partners concerning the use of Kaptoxa, a type of malware that compromises payment information systems, and other related malware by criminal elements.
- The report is the combined effort of the FBI, Secret Service, intelligence agencies, and the Department of Homeland Security.
- “Bringing all of the government’s knowledge together to date, the report demonstrates there is no evidence of a coordinated effort — whether by criminal groups or nation states — to harm the US economy,” said Steve Chabinsky, a cyber expert with cybersecurity technology firm CrowdStrike who spent 15 years with the FBI. “Plain and simple, whoever did this just wants to make a whole lot of money.”
- Chabinsky said he has an unclassified copy of the report. He said it is an effort by the government to reach out to the entire retail industry expressing the government’s concern that if these intrusions are allowed to continue, the unintended consequences could have global economic impact.
- “The outreach to retail is fairly unique,” said Chabinsky. “They’re encouraging the retail industry to become part of the information sharing process. Retailers are used to standard losses, but this impacts not only a few individual companies, but potentially a wave of organizations getting hit by the same type of exploit: the government is clearly taking it seriously.”
- The White House is hoping to help American industries help themselves prevent cyberattacks.
- Administration officials developed standards to protect the computer systems that run critical sectors of the economy like transportation, financial, health care and energy. They also are launching a voluntary program to encourage businesses to put the standards into use.
- The standards come on the one-year anniversary of President Barack Obama’s signing of an executive order calling for their creation. Obama said in a statement Wednesday that “cyberthreats pose one the gravest national security dangers that the United States faces.”
- Obama wants Congress to pass legislation that would give the government more power to secure networks and deter attacks. But private sector companies oppose increased government regulation, and lawmakers have not acted amid disagreement over legislation.
- Though the adoption of the Framework is voluntary, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has established the Critical Infrastructure Cyber Community (C3) Voluntary Program as a public-private partnership to increase awareness and use of the Cybersecurity Framework. The C3 Voluntary Program will connect companies, as well as federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial partners, to DHS and other federal government programs and resources that will assist their efforts in managing their cyber risks. Participants will be able to share lessons learned, get assistance, and learn about free tools and resources that can help them.
- A senior U.S. intelligence official on Tuesday warned of a “very real” risk of extremist groups gaining control of Syrian chemical or biological weapons.
- “The current instability in Syria presents a perfect opportunity for al-Qaida and associated groups to acquire these weapons [of mass destruction] or their components,” U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency Director Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn said in Tuesday testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee, citing the terrorist organizations’ longtime stated interest in acquiring the most dangerous arms.
- His remarks stand in contrast to some recent comments by U.S. diplomats who have played down the risk that extremists might seize Syrian chemical arms as they are transported to a coastal city for international removal and destruction.
- Syrian President Bashar Assad’s government has blamed delays in moving these sensitive warfare materials out of the country on security concerns, amid assertions that the sensitive convoys already have come under rebel attack. Damascus last year agreed to U.S. and Russian demands that it surrender its entire chemical arsenal following a major sarin gas attack that allegedly killed more than 1,400 civilians.
- “While Syria’s stockpiles are currently under the control of the regime, the movement of these weapons from their current locations for disposal or other reasons drastically increases the risk of these weapons or their components falling into the wrong hands,” Flynn said. “There is also the very real possibility that extremists in the Syrian opposition could overrun and exploit chemical and biological weapons storage facilities before all of these materials are removed.”
- Damascus this week said nearly all of most of its most deadly chemicals would be moved out of Syria by the end of the month — two months past a deadline set by international authorities.
- At the Tuesday hearing, U.S. National Intelligence Director James Clapper told the panel it was “hard to discern” whether the Syrian delays were due to legitimate security concerns. Instead, he indicated, the lag times could reflect a scheme by Damascus aimed at lengthening the chemical disarmament process for “as long as possible because it … serves to implicitly legitimize Assad.”
- U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power in comments to reporters last week seemed to minimize Damascus’ argument that extremist threats to chemicals under transportjustified the delays.
- “We know the regime has the ability to move these weapons and materials because they have moved them multiple times over the course of this conflict,” Power said. “It is time for the Assad government to stop its foot-dragging.”
- On Tuesday, Clapper also told the Senate panel there are projected to be in excess of 7,500 foreign fighters hailing from about 50 countries currently in Syria. “Among them are a small group of [Afghanistan-Pakistan] al-Qaida veterans who have aspirations for external attacks in Europe, if not the [U.S.] homeland itself,” he said.