Turkey blocks Wikipedia under national security law

A Turkish court blocked access to Wikipedia on Saturday , the free online encyclopedia, enforcing an earlier restriction by Turkey's telecommunications watchdog in a move that social media users called censorship. The Information and Communication Technologies Authority (BTK) said an Ankara court ordered that a "protection measure" related to suspected internet crimes be applied to Wikipedia. Such measures are used to block access to pages or entire websites to protect "national security and public order." In response, Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales tweeted his support for those who labeled the decision censorship: "Access to information is a fundamental human right. Turkish people I will always stand with you to fight for this right." Access to information is a fundamental human right. Turkish people, I will always stand with you and fight for this right. #turkey https://t.co/5ZAsc9coVX— Jimmy Wales (@jimmy_wales) April 29, 2017 Turkey Blocks, an internet censorship monitor, said users in Turkey have been unable to access all language editions of Wikipedia since 8 am on Saturday. "The loss of availability is consistent with internet filters used to censor content in the country," the monitor said. The site had initially been blocked by BTK under a provisional administration measure. The exact reason for the ban remains unclear. But Turkey's official news agency, quoting the Ministry of Transport, Maritime Affairs and Communications, said Saturday the site was blocked for "becoming an information source acting with groups conducting a smear campaign against Turkey in the international arena." Update: Court order for #Wikipedia block approved by Ankara 1st Criminal Court of Peace https://t.co/LFun43BMP7 pic.twitter.com/LHuF5MaPaz— Turkey Blocks (@TurkeyBlocks) April 29, 2017 The state-run Anadolu Agency said officials had warned Wikipedia to remove content likening Turkey to terror groups Continue Reading

USC students explore civil rights, national security in university’s first history class on WWII internment

USC faculty member Susan Kamei was struck by discomforting moments of deja vu during the 2016 presidential campaign.As some calls rose for restrictions on Muslims and Arab Americans, purportedly to protect national security, Kamei thought of her parents. Exactly 76 years ago Monday, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066, which paved the way for the incarceration of Kamei’s parents and about 120,000 others of Japanese descent, most of them American citizens, following Japan’s 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor.Kamei had helped right that wrong as a legal advocate for the successful 1988 effort to win an apology and monetary reparations from the U.S. government to those incarcerated. But after President Trump’s election, she feared that any lessons learned were being forgotten.“Between the election and President Trump’s inauguration, there were things in the press about the Japanese American internment being a precedent for what various people were proposing...like a Muslim registry,” Kamei said. “We thought: ‘Wow, we thought we won on this 30 years ago. And here we are again talking about this and fighting the same misconceptions and prejudices.’ ”Now Kamei is leading a new generation of students to plumb that past in USC’s first-ever history course on the Japanese American internment, the constitutional issues raised and the relevance today amid the war on terror.“I want students today to have an opportunity to appreciate the importance of the issues around the constitutional tension between national security and civil liberties,” said Kamei, a lecturer in history and managing director of the USC Spatial Sciences Institute.In 2004, UCLA launched the nation’s first endowed academic chair focusing on the internment; but most universities that cover the subject do so in broader classes on Asian American studies, U.S. history or constitutional law.Kamei said that USC Continue Reading

The 10 Best Moments in the CNN Republican National Security Debate

The Republican field is not heavy on foreign policy expertise. The only candidate with significant international experience, former ambassador to China Jon Huntsman, is a not a serious competitor. Given President Bush’s failed and unpopular foreign policy and President Obama’s comparative success—killing Osama bin Laden and withdrawing from Iraq, two things Bush couldn’t or wouldn’t do—Republicans don’t like to talk about foreign policy very much. But on Tuesday night CNN co-hosted a national security debate with the American Enterprise Institute and the Heritage Foundation. There were a few gaffes and troubling statements, but also a few surprising moments of sanity and intellectual honesty. The highlights are below. Most insightful point: Texas Governor Rick Perry has promised to start funding for foreign aid for all countries at zero and only build it back up for those who demonstrate their loyalty to us. Former Senator Rick Santorum (R-PA) articulated how this policy is unwise and inhumane, and ultimately how it is also not fiscally conservative. “I hear people up here talking abut zeroing out foreign aid and humanitarian aid in particular. I think that’s absolutely the wrong course. You want to—you want to spend more money on the military, zero out all the things we do to develop relationships around the world and we will spend a lot more money on the military.” Most absurdly irrelevant answer: Rick Perry’s answer to a question about whether the Transportation Security Administration’s policy of conducting pat downs of people flying is a violation of civil liberties or necessary to protect national security. Perry ignored the actual question and, upon hearing the abbreviation “TSA” his memorized TSA talking point was triggered. He immediately trotted out a favored conservative hobbyhorse: privatization. “Governor Perry,  you proposed legislation that would Continue Reading

52 House Democrats demand Jared Kushner’s security clearance be revoked to ‘protect national security’

An increasing number of House Democrats are Russian to strip Jared Kushner’s clearance in the name of “national security.” Fifty-two representatives on Thursday — up from just a handful in April — demanded the Trump son-in-law’s security clearance be revoked over reports he tried to establish a secret backchannel with the Kremlin and failed to disclose meetings with Russian officials. The White House should “immediately” revoke Kushner’s clearance pending the conclusion of the FBI’s Russia probe that has reportedly zeroed in on Kushner, the lawmakers wrote in a letter to White House counsel Don McGahn. “Jared Kushner’s actions are incompetent if not criminal, and he cannot be trusted,” said Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.), who led Thursday’s letter co-signed by Reps. Ted Lieu (D-Calif.), Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.), Barbara Lee (D-Calif.), Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) and others. “Kushner’s story about ‘accidentally’ omitting meetings with Russian officials becomes less plausible every day,” he said in a statement, “given reports that he talked with Russian officials during the campaign, discussed opening secret communications with Putin, and urged Donald Trump to fire James Comey.” The White House senior adviser’s behavior shows “an obvious pattern of secrecy and deception,” Beyer added. Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), the ranking House Intelligence Committee member, had also called for renewed scrutiny of Kushner’s clearance in a Sunday interview with ABC’s “This Week.” “I do think there ought to be a review of his security clearance to find out whether he was truthful, whether he was candid,” Schiff said. Kushner met with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak in December — a meeting he neglected to disclose in security clearance forms — to Continue Reading

LUPICA: Jeff Sessions’ war on free press is the bigger threat to national security

So now Jeff Sessions, a career small thinker now entrusted with the big job of running the Department of Justice, thinks he is big and tough enough to take on the freedom of the press as a way of battling leaks he treats like a far bigger threat to our country than Russians. To do this Sessions becomes the latest in the current government to hide behind a lie. The one Sessions tells is that he and the DOJ have to go against not just leakers, but the free press as well, as a way of making this country safer. In a pig's eye they do. Here is just some of what Sessions said at a press conference on Friday, when we was speaking a lot more to the President than he was to you and me: "We respect the important role that the press plays and we will give them respect, but it is not unlimited. They cannot place lives at risk with impunity. We must balance the press' role with protecting national security and the lives of those who serve in the intelligence community and all law-abiding Americans." Of course the truth here is that it's the media these days that does far more to protect the values of this country than Sessions ever will. It was President Trump who recently referred to Sessions as being "beleaguered," part of Trump's continuing anger about Sessions' recusal from the investigation into Russian interference with our last presidential election that ultimately got Robert Mueller hired as a special counsel, and got Mueller into the President's business, but good. But if Sessions continues down this path, he will not just permanently shame himself. He will shame his office, and what are supposed to be its ideals. Hysterics on the right still act as if one conversation between Sessions' predecessor, Loretta Lynch, and Bill Clinton during the last presidential campaign was the same kind of federal offense that Sessions believes these awful leaks are. That meeting was a mistake, absolutely. No one would dispute Continue Reading

Obama says airstrikes in Syria were necessary to protect national security and eliminate terrorist threat

WASHINGTON — President Obama said Tuesday that U.S.-led airstrikes against ISIS extremists in Syria were vital for national security, and that the participation of Arab nations shows that “this is not America’s fight alone.” In brief remarks from the White House after the U.S. struck ISIS positions in Syria for the first time, Obama singled out the five Arab states that played roles in the expanded campaign — Bahrain, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and the United Arab Emirates. “We were joined in this action by our friends and partners,” Obama said. “America is proud to stand shoulder to shoulder with these nations on behalf of our common security.” He said the joint fight against the Islamic State will take time but is vital to the security of the United States, the Mideast and the world. Obama also took note of the simultaneous airstrikes in Syria on Monday night to “disrupt a plot by seasoned al Qaeda operatives in Syria” to attack America. Military officials said earlier Tuesday that the plot was “imminent.” “We will not tolerate safe havens for terrorists that threaten our people,” Obama said. “We are going to do what is necessary to take the fight to this terrorist threat.” Obama spoke as he left the White House for the United Nations in New York, where he hoped to rally the world against the ISIS extremists. He spoke for three minutes on the White House lawn, with the helicopter Marine One behind him, a dramatic backdrop as he prepared to board the chopper for the flight to Andrews Air Force Base, and then onto New York and the U.N. The airstrikes were part of the campaign that the President announced two weeks ago to “degrade and destroy” ISIS, also known as the Islamic State, which has killed thousands of people, beheaded Westerners — including two American journalists — and captured large swaths of Continue Reading

President Obama, national security team powwow to decide on urge to surge in Afghanistan

WASHINGTON - President Obama rounded up his military and civilian national security team on Wednesday to start deciding whether to ramp up the war in Afghanistan.White House officials said Obama still believes Afghanistan is a "war of necessity," but he searched for a strategy as he convened the heads of the Pentagon, State Department, CIA and the Joint Chiefs of Staff in the supersecure Situation Room. White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said the meeting was the first of several, and a decision was weeks away. The goal, Gibbs added, is to "get a firm strategy" in the face of rising death tolls and fading public support for the eight-year war. "Let's poke and prod it and ensure that we've done it the right way, then implement tactics to achieve that strategy," Gibbs said. Obama and the assembled officials, including Secretary of State Clinton, Vice President Biden and Defense Secretary Robert Gates, received a chalk talk by satellite from Army Gen. Stanley McChrystal, the top commander in Afghanistan. McChrystal has warned of "likely failure" without a course correction aimed more at protecting civilians than rooting out the Taliban. His request for up to 40,000 more U.S. troops has split Obama's advisers. "I hate to get into characterizing that there's a line down the middle of the room," Gibbs said, but Clinton is believed to be backing McChrystal while Biden favors a scaled-back effort focused on aerial and commando strikes on Al Qaeda. The wild card in the mix is Gates in the debate over whether a counterinsurgency strategy with more ground troops is the best way forward compared with a counterterror plan favoring air strikes. Gates "has clearly been a strong proponent of counterinsurgency," a Pentagon spokesman said, "but he wants to have a thorough discussion with the President and the rest of the national security team." Republicans ripped Obama for dithering on the advice from a ground commander. Failure to add more troops would "put the United States Continue Reading

FBI says it abused national security letters to grab people’s private info

WASHINGTON - The FBI improperly used national security letters in 2006 to obtain personal data on Americans during terror and spy investigations, the agency's director said Thursday.Director Robert Mueller told the Senate Judiciary Committee that the privacy breach by FBI agents and lawyers occurred a year before the bureau enacted sweeping new reforms to prevent future lapses. Details on the abuses will be outlined in the coming days in a report by the Justice Department's inspector general. The report is a follow-up to an audit by the inspector general a year ago that found the FBI demanded people's personal data from banks, telephone and Internet providers and credit bureaus without official authorization and in non-emergency circumstances between 2003 and 2005. Mueller, noting senators' concerns about Americans' civil and privacy rights, said the new report "will identify issues similar to those in the report issued last March." The similarities, he said, are because the time period of the two studies "predates the reforms we now have in place." "We are committed to ensuring that we not only get this right, but maintain the vital trust of the American people," he said. Several other Justice Department and FBI officials familiar with this year's findings have said privately the upcoming report will show the letters were wrongly used at a similar rate during the previous three years. In contrast to the outrage by Congress and civil liberties groups after last year's report was issued, Mueller's disclosure drew no criticism from senators during just over two hours of testimony during Wednesday's hearing. Speaking before the FBI chief, Senate Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) urged Mueller to be more vigilant in correcting what he called "widespread illegal and improper use of national security letters." "Everybody wants to stop terrorists. But we also, though, as Americans, we believe in our privacy rights and we want those protected," Leahy said. Continue Reading

JFK files: Feds release 2,800 secret records; Trump withholds others due to national security concerns

WASHINGTON — Sketchy testimony from barroom drunks in New Orleans, accounts of parties in Mexico City attended by gunman Lee Harvey Oswald and squabbles between CIA officials and congressional investigators marked the release of the final batch of records Thursday related to the Nov. 22, 1963, assassination of President John F. Kennedy.President Trump authorized the release of almost 2,900 document files through the John F. Kennedy Assassination Records Collection Act of 1992, which set Thursday as the final deadline to release them. Others were kept secret because of requests from the CIA and FBI, which feared their release would compromise national security.Long awaited by historians, journalists, researchers and conspiracy theorists, the final batch of secret files shed more light on the Kennedy assassination, which has fascinated Americans for almost 54 years. The 1964 Warren Commission, led by then-Chief Justice Earl Warren, was created by Kennedy's successor, Lyndon Johnson, as a way to clear up questions about the murder, but it instead spawned multiple conspiracy theories. More: JFK files: Highlights from 2,800 previously classified records More: JFK files: New details on Lee Harvey Oswald, Castro plots; no 'smoking gun' More: JFK files: Search the secret files on John F. Kennedy assassination While many of the documents pertained to the CIA and FBI investigations into the activities of Oswald, the 24-year-old former Marine sharpshooter identified as Kennedy's killer, many dealt with the multiple covert operations of the Cold War 1960s and 1970s, including Cuban exile groups, defectors from the Soviet Union and the espionage hothouse that was Mexico City.Other files included notes from committees that investigated the original investigation of the assassination, as well as the 1968 killing of civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. Some of the notes were lists of newspaper articles or Continue Reading

Obama tells Coast Guard graduates that global warming is national security threat

President Obama on Wednesday told a cohort of the newest U.S. Coast Guard cadets that climate change was a threat to national security that could lead to greater poverty and instability and jeopardize the readiness of American forces. “Make no mistake, it will impact how our military defends our country,” Obama said during his commencement address at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy in New London, Conn. “We need to act and we need to act now.” Climate change “is not just a problem for countries on the coast or for certain regions of the world. Climate change impacts every country on the planet,” Obama explained, pointing out that this year’s class of cadets would be the first generation of officers to begin their service in a world where global warming could “shape how every one of our services plan, operate, train, equip and protect their infrastructure.” The President in recent months has pressed for action on climate change as matters of health, of environmental protection and of international obligation. Obama, facing resistance from Republicans in Congress, tried to tackle the problem himself, using executive orders to cut greenhouse gas emissions. With News Wire Services ON A MOBILE DEVICE? WATCH THE VIDEO HERE Continue Reading