January 12, 2012
The Daily Beast
By Barbie Latza Nadeau
“Here is just one more example of why we need to stay far away from Rick Santorum.” –KTRN
In the tiny town of Riva del Garda in northern Italy, 83-year-old-Maria Malacarne Santorum keeps her family’s secrets—including those of her late husband’s cousin, Rick. In an exclusive interview with the Italian weekly magazine Oggi, Mrs. Santorum recalls fondly when Rick visited her in 1985 during his law internship in Florence, and when he came back again in 1986 and 1989. “He loved our culture and cuisine so much, he brought his wife-to-be, Karen, a massive cookbook of Italian recipes,” she said.
But the elder Santorum matriarch doesn’t understand why he has diverged so far from the family’s longtime political stance. “In Riva del Garda his grandfather Pietro and uncles were ‘red communists’ to the core,” writes Oggi journalist Giuseppe Fumagalli, likening the family to “Peppone” after a famous fictional Italian communist mayor who fought against an ultraconservative priest known as Don Cammillo and about which a popular television series is based. “But on the other side of the ocean, it’s like his family here doesn’t exist. Instead he draws crowds as the head of the ultraconservative faction of the Republican party, against divorce, gay marriage, abortion, and immigration.”
Those politics don’t play well in Riva del Garda, a community of ultraliberals. On the campaign trail, Santorum often touts his grandfather’s flight from Italy “to escape fascism,” but he has neglected to publicly mention their close ties with the Italian Communist Party. “Rick’s grandfather Pietro was a liberal man and he understood right away what was happening in Italy,” Mrs. Santorum told Oggi. “He was anti-fascist to the extreme, and the political climate in 1925 was stifling so he left for America. After a few years he returned to Italy with his wife and children, including Aldo, Rick’s father, who passed away late last year. It’s a shame he won’t have the joy to see his son’s success in his bid for the White House.” She goes on to explain how the family then became pillars of the Communist Party in Italy.
September 14, 2010
by Paul Joseph Watson
Two cybersecurity bills that would hand President Obama the power to shut down parts of the Internet in the event of a national emergency have now been merged into a single unified piece of legislation that Democrats will try to pass before the end of the year, with the Department of Homeland Security being given a larger role in policing the world wide web.
Under the new draft bill, which is a combination of the two versions originally crafted by Senators Joe Lieberman and Jay Rockefeller, Janet Napolitano’s DHS will be handed broader authority to determine how to handle potential cybersecurity threats.
“DHS will get expanded authorities. I think that’s clear,” said James Lewis, a cybersecurity expert with think tank Center for Strategic and International Studies, who has studied the new bill.
An expanded role for Homeland Security would be somewhat ironic given the fact that the DHS itself recently failed an extensive cyber-security audit conducted by the agency’s own Inspector General.
“The DHS US-CERT office is currently plagued by at least 600 vulnerabilities that could compromise sensitive data, including 202 which have been classified as high-risk,” reported TG Daily.
Homeland Security’s failure to adequately secure its own internal network will lead to questions about why the agency should be given vast new authority to secure America’s cyber assets and the public Internet.
Democrats want to get the bill passed within the next four weeks, although “sticking points” could delay the legislation, according to a Senate aide familiar with the bill. However, lawmakers are determined to put the package up for a vote before the end of the year.
“Senate Majority Harry Reid has put the measure on his list of top-priority bills to get through the Senate this year,” sources told MoneyControl.com.
Lieberman’s version of the original bill includes language that would hand President Obama the power to shut down parts of the world wide web for at least four months with no congressional oversight. The combined version appears to shift that responsibility to DHS, who under the pretext of a national emergency could block all Internet traffic to the U.S. from certain countries, and close down specific hubs and networks, creating an ominous precedent for government regulation and control over the Internet.
Cybersecurity legislation is being promoted as a vital tool to defend the nation’s critical infrastructure against cyber- terrorism. However, as we have highlighted, the threat from cyber-terrorists to the U.S. power grid or water supply is minimal. The perpetrators of an attack on such infrastructure would have to have direct physical access to the systems that operate these plants to cause any damage. Any perceived threat from the public Internet to these systems is therefore completely contrived and strips bare what many fear is the real agenda behind cybersecurity – to enable the government to regulate free speech on the Internet.
As we reported back in March, the Obama administration’s release of the Comprehensive National Cybersecurity Initiative, a government plan to “secure” (or control) the nation’s public and private sector computer networks, coincided with Democrats attempting to claim that the independent news website The Drudge Report was serving malware, an incident Senator Jim Inhofe described as a deliberate ploy “to discourage people from using Drudge”.
Fears that cybersecurity legislation could be used to stifle free speech were heightened when Senator Lieberman told CNN’s Candy Crowley that the real motivation behind the bill was to mimic the Communist Chinese system of Internet policing.
“Right now China, the government, can disconnect parts of its Internet in case of war and we need to have that here too,” said Lieberman.
As we have documented, the Communist Chinese government does not disconnect parts of the Internet because of genuine security concerns, it habitually does so only to oppress and silence victims of government abuse and atrocities, and to strangle dissent against the state, a practice many fear is the ultimate intention of cybersecurity in the United States.
February 12, 2010
By Daniel Rubin
A federal agent sizing up Nick George might peg him as Most Likely To Be Recruited By The CIA. He’s a physics major at a top college, he minors in Middle Eastern studies, speaks Arabic, has lived in Jordan and is adventurous enough to have backpacked through Sudan and Egypt.
At Philadelphia International Airport last August, his interest in the world got him handcuffed.
The Wyncote native was detained for five hours after Transportation Security Administration screeners grew suspicious about something in his pockets.
Arabic-language flash cards.
George, who was 21 at the time, and about to fly back for his senior year at Pomona College in Claremont, Ca., says he answered every question to the best of his abilities, and figured he’d be quickly sent on his way.
But what questions…
According to a federal suit filed Wednesday on his behalf by the American Civil Liberties Union, a TSA supervisor asked him, “How do you feel about 9/11?”
He said he hemmed and hawed a bit. “It’s a complicated question,” he told me by phone. “But I ended up saying, ‘It was bad. I am against it.’ ”
He was asked if he knew who “did 9/11.”
He answered, Osama bin Laden.
Then he was asked, “Do you know what language he spoke?”
George answered, Arabic.”
The supervisor then held up his flash cards. “Do you see why these cards are suspicious?”
To George, they weren’t suspicious at all. He was using them to translate Al Jazeera, whose coverage in Arabic he considers critical to understanding America’s place in the world. The 200 cards included words for “terrorist” and “explosion,” George said. His interest in the Middle East came not from 9/11 but from watching Lawrence of Arabia with his father, Paul George, a Philadelphia attorney and former public defender.
Nick George says he started taking classes in Middle Eastern history, politics and languages while at Pomona. He spent a semester in Amman. He has applied for a State Department program that encourages the study of Arabic and he has plans to take the Foreign Service exam after college.
He says he did the right thing when questioned.
“My mentality was, ‘Do what they say, and pretty soon they’ll see this is ridiculous and let you go,” he said by phone. “That was my mentality until they put the handcuffs on me. Then it was surreal.”
TSA called the Philadelphia Police, who marched him through the airport to a small office where he sat for more than an hour in cuffs, awaiting FBI agents.
In the suit he contends the agents asked him if he was an Islamist or a Communist. He said no. After about 20 minutes they released him. He missed his flight that day.
Neither the TSA nor the Philadelphia Police would comment yesterday, given that legal action was pending. But in a September Daily News column, TSA spokeswoman Ann Davis said behavioral-detection officers had selected the student for screening even before the flash cards were discovered. Those officers are trained to look for “involuntary physical and physiological reactions that people exhibit in response to a fear of being discovered,” she said.
George says he cannot imagine what they mean – he was calm.
A police official, meanwhile, was quoted as saying it was George’s ID in Arabic that caught their attention – from his Jordanian studies – and police were suspicious that the student’s hair was shorter that day than it was in his Pennsylvania driver’s license photo. “That,” Lt. Louis Liberati said, is “an indication sometimes that somebody may have gone through a radicalization.”
Candace Putter, George’s mother, thinks that’s an amazing statement. She is a longtime advocate for teens in trouble with the law. She said she came of age in the 1960s, when long hair was associated with a different sort of radicalism.
“You can’t change the world on me that completely,” she said, laughing.
Putter said she understands in the post-9/11 world why security officers would pay attention to someone who had been to Muslim countries and was learning Arabic. So can Mary Catherine Roper, George’s ACLU attorney. So can I.
“Clearly we want them to be paying attention,” Cutter said. “But we want them to be paying smart attention.”
Security technologist Bruce Schneier was less polite.
“This is just stupid,” he said. “There’s no other way to explain it. Someone saw these Arabic language cards and just freaked. It should have taken TSA 15 seconds.”
The problem, he said, was that there is no cost to the security agent for doing the wrong thing. “If I detain someone and he’s not a terrorist, nothing happens to me. I’m probably praised. If I let him go, and he is, my career is over. The TSA incentive is to overreact. Terrorism can’t do this to us. I think only we can do this to ourselves.”
February 2, 2010
China has said relations with the United States will be seriously undermined if President Barack Obama holds a meeting with the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama.
A senior Chinese communist party official has said Beijing will take action if the meeting goes ahead.
The White House has indicated that President Obama intends to meet the Dalai Lama, who is due in Washington later this month, but no date has been announced.
China’s ties with the US have become more strained in recent months over a variety of issues, including planned US arms sales to Taiwan and accusations by the internet company Google of systematic attempts originating in China to hack into its computer systems.
China has for many years tried to isolate the Dalai Lama by asking foreign leaders not to meet him.
October 2, 2009
Managers of the building said the lights were to honour the Chinese people, adding that they celebrated many cultures and causes in such a way.
But Human Rights Watch, which has offices in the building, voiced dismay.
The group objected to celebrating the Communist Party, whose rule it said had seen many rights abuses.
“We have no objection to honouring China as a nation, a great civilisation or a vibrant people,” HRW associate director Carrroll Bogert said in a letter to the Empire State’s management.
“However, this date commemorates the rule of the Chinese Communist Party, a political entity that is responsible historically for many grave violations of human rights.”
On Thursday, China staged mass celebrations to mark 60 years since the Communist Party came to power.
Some 30,000 people were invited to watch the events in person, but others were encouraged to stay at home and watch the festivities on TV to “avoid complications”.
Human Rights in China, another group with offices in the Empire State Building, also criticised the illuminations.
“This anniversary has been accompanied by massive rights abuses,” Sharon Hom, the group’s executive director, was quoted as saying by the New York Times.
The lights on the building change in honour of many events during the year, including St Patrick’s Day, Australia Day and India Day.
A spokeswoman for the Empire State Building, which receives hundreds of requests a year, told Reuters that no fee was charged to have specific lights and that there was an application form.
“All special lighting requests are considered based on the merit of their cause, the benefit of their use of the special lighting and their treatment of the Empire State Building’s iconic image for the event and on an ongoing basis,” the building’s website says.
August 31, 2009
By Michael Buchanan
Distinguished American actor and producer Sam Wanamaker was watched by MI5 for several years for his alleged communist sympathies, it has emerged.
Files released by the National Archives show Mr Wanamaker, father of actress Zoe, would have been interned had the UK been attacked in the mid-1950s.
Mr Wanamaker moved to Britain in 1951 when he had been blacklisted in the US.
He went on to become the key architect in the rebuilding of Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre in London.
His US blacklisting took place during the anti-Communist purges led by Senator Joseph McCarthy.
Earlier this year Zoe Wanamaker travelled to the US for an episode of the BBC’s Who Do You Think You Are and discovered that the FBI had a file on her father.
It can now be revealed that for several years in the 1950s, MI5 also kept an eye on the American actor.
You must understand that being an American in Britain one must tread with careful precision on matters involving peace, which have now become a highly political and controversial subject ” – Sam Wanamaker
They initially became aware of him as they were bugging the conversations of British communists who began talking excitedly about his arrival in Britain.
But the US authorities also asked to be kept informed of his activities, as he had been a member of the American Communist Party in the mid-1940s.
MI5 were willing to oblige, and even got permission to intercept his mail.
The MI5 files include a letter Mr Wanamaker sent in May 1952 to a friend, who had asked him to help organise a party supporting peace.
Mr Wanamaker wrote: “You must understand that being an American in Britain one must tread with careful precision on matters involving peace which have now become a highly political and controversial subject.
“Therefore you see I must be extremely careful about… not doing anything which will give them cause, just or not, for any action.”
The cautious tone of the letter appears throughout the files, according to Howard Davies from the National Archives.
“We see in the files that he’s taking the utmost pains while he’s living in the United Kingdom not to do anything that would worsen his position with the American authorities and indeed the British authorities.
“He’s aware that he’s a marked man and everything he does is going to be watched closely.”
Despite Mr Wanamaker’s care, and the lack of any obvious communist-related activities relayed by MI5, another file includes a note on what to do with him if Britain is attacked.
“Miss Coates (Home Office) rang on 10 November to ask whether we were going to make a recommendation for internment or restrictions for Sam Wanamaker. I rang on 11 November and said it would be for internment.”
Much attention was paid by the security services to his role in setting up the New Shakespeare Club in Liverpool in 1957, with investigations taking place into who was funding the project and who Mr Wanamaker was working with.
The files even contain programmes of early events at the club.
“There is little doubt that this Theatre and Club is intended to be used as a vehicle for disseminating extreme left-wing political propaganda under the guise of culture and progressive education, and if successful, will be a great asset to the Communist Party,” concludes one report.
The files do, however, acknowledge his talent, describing him as “a genuinely successful actor and producer” and “unlike most US visitors of the theatrical world in that the majority of his projects do materialise”.
Mr Wanamaker never was a threat to Britain’s security and went on to become an honorary CBE for his contribution to Anglo-American relations, as well as for his work in rebuilding the Globe.
Historian Professor Christopher Andrews said his MI5 file had to be seen in the context of Britain in the 1950s, where every communist or suspected communist had to be investigated.
“They (MI5) were discovering at the end of the 1940s and early 1950s that a tiny minority of communists had given away the biggest secrets in British history – Klaus Fuchs had given away the plans of the first atomic bomb – and they didn’t know how bad it was going to get.
“It was therefore government policy to draw up a list of all members of the Communist Party.”
In a separate file also released, it has been revealed that Sir Francis Meynell, an early editor of the Communist newspaper and of the Catholic weekly The Tablet, smuggled Soviet diamonds into England in a box of chocolates.
The report, dated 29 December 1920, says “he (Meynell) purchased a box of chocolates, extracted the cream contents, and filled them in with diamonds”.
The smuggled jewels are believed to have been used to help fund the Communist Party of Great Britain.