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Saudi Journalist Tortured To Death After Online Identity Exposed By Regional Twitter HQ

Another Saudi journalist was reported tortured and killed at the hands of Saudi authorities last week, but this time the Saudis may have actually had assistance from Twitter in uncovering the identity behind a controversial account which led to the detention of the journalist

Arabic news source The New Khaleej was the first to report that Saudi journalist and writer Turki Bin Abdul Aziz Al-Jasser died after being tortured while in detention after his initial arrest last March. According to the report his arrest came after it was learned that he he administered the Twitter account Kashkool — which was known for highlighting human rights violations and crimes committed by the royal family and government officials. 

The Twitter account is still online after it stopped tweeting to its 183,000 followers early lost March — prior to that it appeared to tweet frequently in Arabic and sometimes in English. The New Khalieej report was the first to reveal that authorities identified Al-Jasser’s online identity using informants in Twitter’s regional office located in Dubai.

And following up on the story, the UK’s highest circulation newspaper Metro late last week published an explosive report that quickly went viral as it cited sources confirming leaked information out of Twitter’s offices in the region led to the arrest of the dissident journalist. 

According to the Metro report:

“They got his information from the Twitter office in Dubai. That is how he was arrested,” a source, who wishes to remain anonymous, told Metro.co.uk.

“Twitter has become insecure for dissidents or critics. Everyone speaks under threat and pressure.”

“The accounts of Saudi dissidents are spied on. We are not safe using Twitter.”

The source said Saudi authorities have placed moles inside the American social media giant’s office in Dubai, making all dissident activity on Twitter unsafe amidst an increasing crackdown by Riyadh.

A former top adviser to the Royal Court, Saud al-Qahtani, recently issued threats to Twitter users, stating a year ago that authorities would seek to uncover fake online names. According to the Metro report, Qahtani said, “Does your nickname protect you from the #blacklist?’ Al-Qahtani wrote online. No. 1. States have a way of knowing the owner of the name. 2 – IP can be identified in many technical ways. 3- The secret I’m not going to say.” This suggests the Saudi “secret” backdoor may have been to have an intelligence presence within the Twitter office itself. 

The Metro report found further:

The source also claimed that Saud al-Qahtani, the former adviser to the Royal Court, leads a ‘cyber spy ring’ and has contacts inside the Dubai Twitter office. They allege that a so-called ‘Twitter mole’ handed over information on Al-Jasser, leading to his arrest earlier this year.

Given the current outrage and media scrutiny of Saudi leaders in the wake of the October 2nd murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, it’s surprising that the mainstream media has yet to dig further into the details of Turki Bin Abdul Aziz Al-Jasser’s death.

The “Kashkool” account (@coluche_ar— believed to be run by Turki Bin Abdul Aziz Al-Jasser who was “disappeared” and now reported killed — routinely mocked crown prince bin Salman, such as in the below tweet about a state visit by President Sisi of Egypt, who appeared humiliated when MbS failed to observe protocol:

السيسي صاير ملطشة.
سفير MBS يطرد السيسي من التشريفات.
سبحان من خلق الذل والخور في قلب هذا السيسي. pic.twitter.com/IklE7TpmsB

— كشكول (@coluche_ar) March 8, 2018

Twitter sought to distance itself from these fresh allegations as al-Jasser’s story went viral last week. A Twitter spokesperson issued the following statement to Metro

“We do not comment on individual cases for and security reasons. Twitter has a well-documented, strong track record of protecting user information and data. We require law enforcement to meet a high legal threshold and to undergo strict process when making information requests to Twitter. As a company, we will always err on the side of protecting the voices of those who use our service.

The statement failed to mention, however, whether or not the company was conducting an internal investigation focused on its Dubai offices. 

A Middle East Eye report from last year exposed just how aggressive Saudi authorities have been in attempting to root out anonymous dissenting speech on social media. At that time and since the Saudi authorities had posted messages to official state accounts asking citizens to inform on each other over  “information crimes”.

Former CIA Officer: Brennan And Clapper Should Not Escape Prosecution

Authored by John Kiriakou via ConsortiumNews.com,

Recently declassified documents show that the former CIA director and former director of national intelligence approved illegal spying on Congress and then classified their crime. They need to face punishment…

Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa made a dramatic announcement this month that almost nobody in America paid any attention to. Grassley released a statement saying that four years ago, he asked the Intelligence Community Inspector General to release two “Congressional Notifications” written by former CIA Director John Brennan and former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper.

Grassley had had his requests to declassify the documents ignored repeatedly throughout the last two years of the Obama administration. He decided to try again because all of the Obama people at the CIA and DNI are gone now. This time, his request was approved.

So what was the information that was finally declassified? It was written confirmation that John Brennan ordered CIA hackers to intercept the emails of all potential or possible intelligence community whistleblowers who may have been trying to contact the Congressional oversight committees, specifically to the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence and the Senate Judiciary Committee. 

Simply put, Brennan ordered his people to hack into the Senate email system—again. Grassley is the longtime chairman of Judiciary Committee, and he was understandably appalled.

First, let me explain what a Congressional Notification is. The CIA is required by law to inform the Congressional oversight committees whenever one of its officers, agents, or administrators breaks the law, when an operation requires Congressional approval because it is a “covert action” program, or whenever something happens at the CIA that’s potentially controversial and the Agency wants to save itself the embarrassment of explaining itself to Congress later. 

Brennan apparently ordered his officers to spy on the Senate. Remember, back in 2014 his officers spied on Intelligence Community investigators while they were writing the Senate Torture Report. This time, he decided to inform Congress. 

But Brennan and Clapper classified the notification. It was like a taunt. “Sure, I’m spying on Congress, which is illegal. But it’s classified, so what are you going to do about it?”

Grassley went through the proper channels. And even though Brennan and Clapper essentially gave him the middle finger, he didn’t say anything until the documents were finally declassified. He’s a bigger man than I.

John Brennan, left, and James Clapper. (LBJ Library / Flickr)

I think Grassley missed an opportunity here, though.

First, it’s my own opinion that John Brennan belongs in prison. He has flouted U.S. national security laws with impunity for years. That’s unacceptable. In these declassified notifications, he’s confessing to hacking into the Senate’s computer system. That’s a violation of a whole host of laws, from illegal use of a government computer to wire fraud to espionage. There ought to be a price to pay for it, especially in light of the fact that Brennan was the leading force behind the prosecutions of eight national security whistleblowers during the Obama administration, almost three times the number of whistleblowers charged under the Espionage Act by all previous presidents combined.

Second, it’s a crime, a felony, to overclassify government information. Most Americans have no idea that that’s the case. Of course, nobody has ever been charged with it. But it’s a serious problem, and it’s antithetical to transparency.  The CIA Inspector General said of the notifications, “I could see no reason to withhold declassification of these documents. They contained no information that could be construed as sources and methods.” That’s an admission that the notifications were improperly classified in the first place.

Grassley added,

“There is a strong public interest in (the notifications’s) content.  I do not believe they need to be classified at all, and they should be released in their entirety.”

Grassley went so far as to call out Brennan and Clapper by name.

“What sources or methods would be jeopardized by the declassification of these notifications? After four-and-a-half years of bureaucratic foot-dragging, led by Brennan and Clapper, we finally have the answer: None.”

So why weren’t they declassified four years ago? Remember, it’s illegal to classify a crime. And it’s illegal to classify something solely for the purpose of preventing embarrassment to the CIA. Yet those were the very reasons for classifying the documents in the first place. It was because Brennan and Clapper think they’re somehow special cases. (Recall that it was Clapper who lied directly to the Senate Intelligence Committee about intercepting the communications of American citizens. He also did that with impunity.) 

Brennan and Clapper think the law doesn’t apply to them. But it does. Without the rule of law, we have chaos in our country. The law has to apply equally to all Americans. Brennan and Clapper need to learn that lesson the hard way. They broke the law. They ought to be prosecuted for it. 

Hedge Fund CIO: When Investing Is Like Waging War

Submitted by Eric Peters, CIO of One River Asset Management

Warfare

“If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle.”

              – Sun Tzu, The Art of War, 650 BC

“Out of every one-hundred men you send us, ten shouldn’t even be here, eighty are just targets, nine are the real fighters, and we are lucky to have them, for they the battle make. Ah, but the one, one is a warrior, and he will bring the others back.”

             – Heraclitus, 500 BC

“The only easy day was yesterday – Get comfortable being uncomfortable – Don’t run to your death – Have a shared sense of purpose – Move, shoot, communicate – No plan survives first contact with the enemy – All in, all the time.”

             – US Naval Special Ops

“Capital markets and combat are not turn-based games like chess,” said the Deputy CIO, top decile performer, Marine Force Recon veteran.

“This means that there’s no such thing as waiting to make a decision, because waiting is a decision,” he continued. “Waiting can frequently be correct near-term, but you need to be intentional about how to use that time – to gather information, prioritizing the data that will have the most significant impact on your probability of a favorable outcome.”

There’s a vast difference between incomplete and insufficient information. “Defining the threshold for information sufficiency is an art, honed through experience, often indistinguishable from intuition.” Acting with insufficient information imposes an unnecessary risk that will get you killed in combat or cause avoidable losses as an investor.

“But waiting for complete/perfect information is foolish because it’s an illusion – it’s not possible, because events move in real time.” You cannot fall victim to the zero-defect mentality – the search for perfect information cripples your ability to execute.

“There are two contrasting philosophies in military science about the best use of reserves; plugging holes or reinforcing success.” The US Marine Corps has decisively adopted the latter. “We don’t apply resources evenly across a front.” Our forces search for gaps.

“As a battle develops we don’t deploy reserves to areas where we experience the most resistance. We deploy them to the areas where we’re experiencing the most success.” The Germans pioneered this doctrine between WWI and WWII, devastating their neighbors through the lightning of Blitzkrieg.

Portfolio rebalancing is an expression of this philosophy. It’s a rules-based process that forces you to do what everyone says they’re trying to do, but few do.” Which is to redeploy resources through selling high and buying low, applying pressure to gaps in the market.

“The Special Operations community selects and trains with the expectation that we will always be outnumbered but must never be outmanned,” he said. “We only play away games. And we’re expected to win every one.”

Illinois Adjusts Course… Directly Into The Abyss

Authored by Mark Glennon via Wirepoints.com,

How much closer to Detroit or Puerto Rico must Illinois go before it reforms?

That’s now the central question, and this week we’ve learned we have much further to go. The primary culprits in Illinois’s collapse ran the field – Chicago machine Democrats retained firm control of both houses of the General Assembly and won every statewide office.  Congressional election results were just as dismal.

Plenty of Republicans share blame. Bruce Rauner was a failure, deeply alienating even his base. The number of genuine Republican reformers who understand Illinois’ problems who are candid enough to speak about them remain few.

None of that came as a surprise, except the race for Attorney General, and that result is terrifying. Erika Harold was a solid candidate but was trounced by Kwame Raoul. Raoul will present a special obstacle to reform and Illinois’ economy, politicizing law enforcement on behalf of his sponsor, House Speaker Michael Madigan, just like his predecessor. Raul’s race was a straight up test of Illinois’ sanity, and it failed.

In almost all other races, Illinois voters effectively chose to believe they can “vote themselves money,” as Benjamin Franklin put it, which, he said will “herald the end of the Republic.”

Their lesson will come, though when remains unclear.

They chose, more  precisely than ever, the malfeasance and corruption that long ago set the state’s trajectory into the abyss, and offered no indication of what or when would be enough to convince them they’ve reached the bottom. A bottom will come, but when? Something then will arise, but what?

Personally, it’s one of my favorite, historical pictures that haunts the short term but inspires hope for a later day. It shows the first business to reopen in Chicago after the Great Fire, marking the start of a hundred rip roaring years when Chicago was among the most dynamic cities on the planet.

A similar day, far, far off, is all we can hope for.

When The Guns Fell Silent: Hear The Eerie Quiet That Followed The End Of WWI

On the eleventh hour, of the eleventh day of the eleventh month, an Armistice was declared that ended what had been, up until that point, the bloodiest conflict in human history. Millions of citizens in the US and Europe greeted the peace – declared 100 years ago on Sunday – with jubilation as it meant the end of four years of brutal trench warfare and mechanized slaughter that killed 16 million had finally come to an end.

But the impact of the Armistice was especially palpable on the front, where heavy artillery had been firing right up to the minute that peace was declared. In a stunning recording released by the British Imperial War Museum on observance of the anniversary, listeners can hear the guns firing on the American front near the River Moselle one minute before the Armistice was declared – then the stunning silence that followed one minute after.

As the boom of the guns faded, the silence was punctuated only by chirping birds and a rustling wind.

After the recording’s release, comments poured in from users on Twitter, many of whom were amazed to learn that the guns had been firing up to the minute the war ended.

This soundpiece took me completely by surprise. So moving. I never realised the big guns were firing right up to the hour. I can only wonder at what the silence of the ceasefire meant to those in the trenches. This, then silence, then then The Last Post. Imagine. Well done @I_W_M https://t.co/viJ415D0WF

— Tom Davidson (@TomDavidsonCP) November 7, 2018

According to Metro, the audio clips were patched together by sound designers Coda to Coda.