Isn’t that a gorgeous photo? There was a double rainbow over Boston last night, and quite a few people took photos and videos of it. Here’s another shot of it over the harbor and seaport.
You can see more views of it here.
Some people said the rainbow must be a positive sign for the Boston Bruins, who are in the Stanley Cup playoffs against the Chicago Blackhawks. It didn’t work out that way though. The Blackhawks ended up winning game one, after what seemed like an endless triple-overtime hockey game.
In other local news, yesterday was the first day of the trial of 83-year-old Irish gangster James “Whitey” Bulger. Opening statements were apparently riveting. It’s a shame the federal courts won’t allow TV cameras, because this trial is going to be an incredible show. Yesterday both sides gave their opening statements. From The Washington Post:
BOSTON — The trial of James “Whitey” Bulger, the Irish mob boss who allegedly helped scratch out 19 lives and ran this city’s underworld aided by corrupt FBI agents, got underway Wednesday morning almost 20 years after he fled the city on the eve of his indictment.
Now 83 and with just a bit of white hair left, Bulger wore a long-sleeve green shirt and jeans and listened without displaying any reaction as prosecutors laid out their 32 charges against him in a packed South Boston federal courtroom near the gangster’s old hangouts.
“It’s a case about organized crime, public corruption and all types of illegal activities,” federal prosecutor Brian Kelly said during opening statements. “He was no ordinary leader. He did the dirty work himself. He was a hands-on killer.”
Kelly told the story of one of Bulger’s alleged murder victims, Arthur “Bucky” Barrett, who prayed for his life before he was led to a cellar stairwell. “Barrett’s going downstairs to lie down for a while,” Bulger told an accomplice. Barrett walked down the stairs, and Bulger shot him the back, Kelly said.
Bulger’s rise as the city’s brutal organized crime leader was aided and abetted by corrupt FBI agents, who brushed off Bulger’s racketeering and violence in exchange for his help as an informant to bring down the local mafia, according to a lengthy ruling by a federal judge and other investigations.
On the defense side, (Hartford Courant)
Bulger lawyer Jay Carney made it clear in his remarks to the jury that much of the crime boss’s defense will be spent trying to discredit the government’s three chief witnesses. They are close former Bulger associates who agreed to turn on him for leniency or other considerations.
Carney argued to the jury that the three — John Martorano, Stephen Flemmi and Kevin Weeks — will say whatever they think the government wants in order to protect their cooperation agreements. Among other things, he said, they are accusing Bulger of their crimes.
Martorano was sentenced to 14 years in prison for 20 murders. Weeks, once a Bulger protégé, got a shorter sentence for less serious offenses. Flemmi, Bulger’s long-time partner, got a life sentence, but was not exposed to possible death sentences for crimes in Florida and Oklahoma related to the gang’s attempt to takeover World Jai Alai, once one of the country’s largest pari-mutuel businesses.
Carney compared the federal prosecutors to chefs and the three witnesses to elaborately prepared meals.
‘What [we] are going to try to do is show you what happens in the prosecutors’ kitchen before the witness comes out,” Carney said.
I guess I’ve bored you with enough Boston news for today. Let’s see what’s happening in the rest of the world. Read the rest of this entry »
Breaking . . . Edward Snowden Tells South China Morning Post US Hacks Into Hong Kong, China ComputersPosted: June 12, 2013
I’m no expert on the laws about revealing classified information to foreign governments, but this doesn’t sound very smart to me. Edward Snowden, who has leaked information about methods the NSA uses to collect data on Americans has now showed documents to the South China Morning Post to prove that the U.S. has been hacking into computers in Hong Kong and China since at least 2009.
In a frank hour-long interview, the 29-year-old, who US authorities have confirmed is now the subject of a criminal case, said he was neither a hero nor a traitor and that:
US National Security Agency’s controversial Prism programme extends to people and institutions in Hong Kong and mainland China;
The US is exerting “bullying’’ diplomatic pressure on Hong Kong to extradite him;
Hong Kong’s rule of law will protect him from the US;
He is in constant fear for his own safety and that of his family.
Snowden told the interviewer that none of the documents related to Chinese “military systems.”
One of the targets in the SAR, according to Snowden, was Chinese University and public officials, businesses and students in the city. The documents also point to hacking activity by the NSA against mainland targets.
Snowden believed there had been more than 61,000 NSA hacking operations globally, with hundreds of targets in Hong Kong and on the mainland.
“We hack network backbones – like huge internet routers, basically – that give us access to the communications of hundreds of thousands of computers without having to hack every single one,” he said….
Snowden said he was releasing the information to demonstrate “the hypocrisy of the US government when it claims that it does not target civilian infrastructure, unlike its adversaries”.
“Not only does it do so, but it is so afraid of this being known that it is willing to use any means, such as diplomatic intimidation, to prevent this information from becoming public.”
What the hell? This guy is really starting to sound like a loose cannon. I’ll update with more info in the comment thread as I get it.
Ever since the bombings at the Boston Marathon on April 15, there has been plenty of intrigue going on between the U.S. and Russia.
While he was in Dagestan, Tsarnaev was squired around by a relative who is “a prominent Islamist” and most likely introduced Tsarnaev to two men who were fighting with the Chechen rebels. Soon after these meetings, these men were killed by the Russians.
Tsarnaev had expressed interest in joining the fight for Chechen independence, but left Dagestan soon after his two friends were killed. He hurriedly traveled to Moscow and then flew back to JFK in NY without anyone in Russian intelligence noticing supposedly. No one can explain how Tsarnaev was able to board a plane for Russia at JFK Airport when he was on two U.S. terror lists or how he was able to fly out of Moscow when he was supposedly being closely watched by Russian intelligence during his stay there.
There have also been numerous reports of CIA connections to the Tsarnaev brothers. In addition, a professor at U. Mass Dartmouth (Brian Glynn Williams, a Chechnya expert) who has worked with the CIA [NOTE: This link to post by Mark Ames at nsfwcorp will be available for 23 hrs], served as Dzhokhar Tsarnaev’s mentor for a project on Chechen ethnic identity that the younger Tsarnaev brother did as a student at Cambridge Rindge and Latin High School. Dzhokhar later attended U. Mass Dartmouth, although Williams says he never had any direct contact with the future accused bomber (they interacted by e-mail).
The Latest U.S.-Russia Dustup
This morning news is breaking that an American diplomat has been detained in Russia by the FSB for allegedly trying to “recruit a Russian agent” for the CIA.
Russia’s security services claimed Tuesday to have arrested a CIA agent posing as an employee of the U.S. Embassy in Moscow for allegedly trying to recruit a Russian secret service agent to work for the U.S.
The Federal Security Service (FSB) announced that it had detained a man identified as Ryan Christopher Fogle on the evening of May 13 or early the next morning for attempting to recruit a Russian agent….
Russian news agency RIA Novosti quoted a statement from the FSB as saying Fogle was arrested while trying to recruit a member of the Russian security services, and he had on his person, “special technical devices, written instructions for the Russian citizen being recruited, a large sum of cash and means of changing his appearance.”
After being arrested and processed by Russian security services, the man was handed back to the U.S. diplomatic mission in Moscow.
The FSB said Fogle had been masquerading as a career diplomat at the Political Section of the U.S. Embassy, but that he was a CIA employee. A photo provided by the FSB and published across Russian media allegedly showed his Russian-issued diplomatic identification card.
And get this: Fogle was wearing a long blonde wig when he was arrested! And he had other disguises for his potential regruit. From the NYT:
Photographs that appeared on Russian news sites on Tuesday afternoon showed a man in a blue checked shirt and baseball cap being pinned to the ground, evidently by a Russian officer. Further images showed a number of items evidently confiscated from him: a brown and blond wig, three pairs of glasses, several stacks of 500-Euro notes, and an embassy card identifying him as Ryan C. Fogle.
Mr. Fogel was brought to F.S.B. headquarters and then delivered to officials at the American embassy, the statement said. The F.S.B. went on to say its counterintelligence service has documented a series of recent attempts by the United States to recruit officers from Russian law enforcement and “special departments.”
According to the Times article, “Russia’s foreign ministry has summoned United States Ambassador Michael A. McFaul to appear on Wednesday to respond to the allegation” that Fogel was “carrying written instructions for a Russian recruit.” From Twitter, I learned that Fogel has a condo in McLean, Va.
Russia Today has lots of photos, including a photograph of an instruction sheet offering money and explaining how to set up a gmail account (WTF?!) to be used to contact U.S. intelligence. Apparently Fogel had “a large sum of cash” (in Euros?!) with him to hand over to the new recruit. Is this really how the CIA operates? It seems so half-assed.
Connections to the Tsarnaev Investigation?
Whether any of this will connect back to the Tsarnaev saga, I have no way of knowing; but I can’t help but suspect it will. There has simply been too much recent activity between the U.S. and Russia being reported lately for this to be completely unrelated to the Boston bombing investigation. Time will tell.
I think that’s about all the weird news I can handle for right now. I’ll leave it to you to post your own links–on any topic–in the comment thread.
Have a great day!!
We’ve known for years that the Feds are tapping phones, reading e-mails, checking on which site we go to on the internet, all without warrants. This afternoon the news broke that the DOJ subpoenaed two months
of phone records of reporters and editors for The Associated Press in what the news cooperative’s top executive called a “massive and unprecedented intrusion” into how news organizations gather the news.
The records obtained by the Justice Department listed incoming and outgoing calls, and the duration of each call, for the work and personal phone numbers of individual reporters, general AP office numbers in New York, Washington and Hartford, Conn., and the main number for AP reporters in the House of Representatives press gallery, according to attorneys for the AP.
In all, the government seized those records for more than 20 separate telephone lines assigned to AP and its journalists in April and May of 2012. The exact number of journalists who used the phone lines during that period is unknown but more than 100 journalists work in the offices whose phone records were targeted on a wide array of stories about government and other matters.
Naturally AP reporters and executives are outraged and President and CEO Gary Pruitt has sent a letter of protest to Attorney General Holder.
The government would not say why it sought the records. U.S. officials have previously said in public testimony that the U.S. attorney in Washington is conducting a criminal investigation into who may have leaked information contained in a May 7, 2012, AP story about a foiled terror plot. The story disclosed details of a CIA operation in Yemen that stopped an al-Qaida plot in the spring of 2012 to detonate a bomb on an airplane bound for the United States.
The story in question was about the successful foiling of the so-called underwear bombing plot. There’s much more at the AP link. So the feds are enraged because of a leak about a successful counterterror operation. Imagine if it had been unsuccessful? Maybe those reporters would be headed to re-education camps by now.
But that’s not the whole story, according to Think Progress. The reason the feds were so nervous about that AP story was that the CIA stopped the underwear bomber rather than the FBI.
Why that drew the attention of the Justice Department, however, is that the CIA was the one who foiled the plot, which the AP report made clear:
The FBI is examining the latest bomb to see whether it could have passed through airport security and brought down an airplane, officials said. They said the device did not contain metal, meaning it probably could have passed through an airport metal detector. But it was not clear whether new body scanners used in many airports would have detected it.
The would-be suicide bomber, based in Yemen, had not yet picked a target or bought a plane ticket when the CIA stepped in and seized the bomb, officials said. It’s not immediately clear what happened to the alleged bomber.
AP learned of the plot a week before publishing, but “agreed to White House and CIA requests not to publish it immediately” due to national security concerns. But, by reporting the CIA’s involvement in foiling the plot, they put AQAP on notice that the CIA had a window into their activities. The AP’s reporting also led to other stories involving an operative in place within AQAP, and details of the operations he was involved in. That operative, it was feared, would be exposed and targeted by AQAP as retribution for siding with the United States.
John Brennan, who is now the head of the CIA, said at his confirmation hearing that the release of information to AP was an “unauthorized and dangerous disclosure of classified information.”
The AP knew they were being investigated–the shock came when they realized the breathtaking extent of the federal intrusion.
The DOJ issued a statement claiming that “because we value the freedom of the press, we are always careful and deliberative in seeking to strike the right balance between the free flow of information and the public interest”
Okay, if you say so….
So now what? Will mainstream reporters who have been accepting of government surveillance as long as it was directed at us “little people” now begin a real pushback? We shall see.