The Pronk Pops Show 885, May 3, 2017, Breaking — Story 1: FBI Director James Comey On Decision To Speak, Conceal or No Action On Clinton Emails On Weiner Laptop — Videos — Story 2: Time For President Trump To Instruct Attorney General Sessions To Appoint Independent Special Prosecutor To Pursue The Many Clinton Crimes Before Statue of Limitations Runs Out In February 2018! — Videos — Breaking — Story 3: Will There Be A House Vote to Repeal and Replace Obamacare? Only If Republican Have The Votes! — Breaking — Republican Videos

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The Pronk Pops Show Podcasts

Pronk Pops Show 885,  May 3, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 884,  May 1, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 883 April 28, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 882: April 27, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 881: April 26, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 880: April 25, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 879: April 24, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 878: April 21, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 877: April 20, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 876: April 19, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 875: April 18, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 874: April 17, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 873: April 13, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 872: April 12, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 871: April 11, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 870: April 10, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 869: April 7, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 868: April 6, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 867: April 5, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 866: April 3, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 865: March 31, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 864: March 30, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 863: March 29, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 862: March 28, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 861: March 27, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 860: March 24, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 859: March 23, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 858: March 22, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 857: March 21, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 856: March 20, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 855: March 10, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 854: March 9, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 853: March 8, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 852: March 6, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 851: March 3, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 850: March 2, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 849: March 1, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 848: February 28, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 847: February 27, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 846: February 24, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 845: February 23, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 844: February 22, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 843: February 21, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 842: February 20, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 841: February 17, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 840: February 16, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 839: February 15, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 838: February 14, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 837: February 13, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 836: February 10, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 835: February 9, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 834: February 8, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 833: February 7, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 832: February 6, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 831: February 3, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 830: February 2, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 829: February 1, 2017

Image result for fbi director james comey May 3, 2017 Image result for cartoons branco on comey and emails on clintonImage result for cartoons branco on repeal and replace

Breaking — Story 1: FBI Director James Comey On Decision To Speak, Conceal or No Action On Clinton State Department Emails On Weiner Laptop — Videos

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Clinton blames Comey, Russia for election loss

Comey on Clinton: Concealing in my view would have been catastrophic

Comey reveals why he announced a new Clinton investigation 11 days before the election

WOW: Comey Answers WHY He Announced Hillary Clinton Email Investigation 11 Days Before Election

James B. Comey, the F.B.I. director, described his decision to reopen an investigation into Hillary Clinton’s emails in October during questioning by Senator Dianne Feinstein at a hearing on Wednesday.

By THE NEW YORK TIMES on Publish Date May 3, 2017. Photo by Gabriella Demczuk for The New York Times. Watch in Times Video »

WASHINGTON — James B. Comey, the F.B.I. director, sharply defended his rationale for notifying Congress about new emails related to the Hillary Clinton investigation less than two weeks before Election Day, saying Wednesday that any suggestion he affected the vote’s outcome made him “mildly nauseous.”

Mr. Comey’s comments at a Senate Judiciary Committee oversight hearing were his first public explanation for his actions, which roiled the presidential campaign in its final days and cast a harsh spotlight on the F.B.I. director.

Mr. Comey said he went public on Oct. 28 because he believed that the emails found by his agents might provide insight into Mrs. Clinton’s reasons for using a private server as secretary of state and might change the outcome of the investigation. Failing to inform Congress, Mr. Comey said, would have a required an “act of concealment.”

“Concealment, in my view, would have been catastrophic,” he said, adding later that he knew the decision would be “disastrous for me personally.”

What Mr. Comey viewed as concealing, Justice Department officials viewed simply as following the rules. The F.B.I. does not normally confirm ongoing investigations. Senior Justice Department officials urged him not to send a letter to Congress informing them that the bureau was examining the new emails.

When Mr. Comey recounted that confrontation to Congress in 2007, he was calm and confident. But in his testimony on Wednesday, he appeared more animated — even, at times, defensive — as committee members peppered him with questions. And while the hospital room showdown earned him bipartisan praise, Mr. Comey has instead gotten bipartisan criticism for his decisions in the final days of the 2016 campaign.

Unlike a House Intelligence Committee hearing in March in which Mr. Comey took the extraordinary step of confirming the existence of an investigation into Russian meddling in the election, the hearing Wednesday was supposed to be a more routine congressional oversight proceeding. But little has been routine for the F.B.I. over the past 10 months, as the dramatic moment from Mr. Comey showed.

The tone of the opening statements from both the top Republican and the top Democrat on the committee made clear that they wanted answers from Mr. Comey on a number of issues, including Mrs. Clinton’s emails, the Russia investigation, leaks to the news media and the use of wiretapping as an investigative tool.

“We need the F.B.I. to be accountable because we need the F.B.I. to effective,” said Senator Charles E. Grassley, Republican of Iowa and the chairman of the committee.

Senator Dianne Feinstein, the ranking Democrat on the panel, immediately pounced on Mr. Comey, saying he took an enormous gamble in sending the letter to Congress on Oct. 28 informing them that the F.B.I. was examining new Clinton-related emails without knowing how the messages might shape the Clinton investigation.

“We need to hear how the F.B.I. will regain that faith and trust,” Ms. Feinstein said. “We need straightforward answers to our questions and we want to hear how you’re going to lead the F.B.I. going forward. We never, ever want anything like this to happen again.”

She demanded to know why he treated the investigations so “dramatically different.”

Mr. Comey rejected her assertion.

He said that the F.B.I. had confirmed the existence of an investigation into Mrs. Clinton’s emails months after the bureau began it, and that it said no more until after it was closed. Similarly, Mr. Comey said, the F.B.I. revealed there was an investigation into Russian efforts to influence the election months after it was opened in July, and only after it had been widely reported in the media. And as in the Clinton investigation, the F.B.I. has refused to talk about what it has found.

“We’re not going to say another peep about it until we’re done,” Mr. Comey said, acknowledging that the inquiry into Russian meddling is ongoing. “And I don’t know what will be said when we’re done, but that’s the way we handled the Clinton investigation, as well.”

Mr. Comey’s handling of the Clinton email investigation continues to shadow him. Not even President Trump seems keen to forget the decisions the F.B.I. director made during the election. On Tuesday night, the president criticized him in a Twitter post, writing that Mr. Comey was “the best thing that ever happened to Hillary Clinton in that he gave her a free pass for many bad deeds!”

Mr. Trump also played down the F.B.I.’s investigation into Russian efforts to help his campaign.

“The phony Trump/Russia story was an excuse used by the Democrats as justification for losing the election,” the president wrote on Twitter, apparently in reaction to Mrs. Clinton’s comments on Tuesday in which she heaped blame on the F.B.I. and Russian-backed hackers for her election loss. She also said Mr. Trump was unprepared for the presidency.

Mr. Comey was also pressed Wednesday about leaks to journalists and whether F.B.I. agents in New York revealed information during the election to former federal law enforcement and elected officials, including Rudolph W. Giuliani, the onetime New York City mayor. Three days before Mr. Comey’s announcement in October, Mr. Giuliani, an adviser to Mr. Trump’s campaign, said on Fox News that the campaign had “a couple of surprises” in store.

After Mr. Comey’s letter was made public, putting Mr. Giuliani’s comments in a new light, a Trump campaign spokesman said the former mayor had been simply “having fun.” But Mr. Giuliani later undermined that assertion, saying he knew in advance that the F.B.I. had found new emails related to Mrs. Clinton. His comments reinforced suspicions that some F.B.I. agents were out to get her.

“If I find out that people were leaking information about our investigations, whether to reporters or private parties, there will be severe consequences,” Mr. Comey told the questioner, Senator Patrick J. Leahy, Democrat of Vermont.

The warm reception Mr. Comey once received on Capitol Hill, where he was applauded for his efforts to keep the country safe, has cooled considerably in recent months.

Mr. Comey plunged himself into last year’s campaign when he announced at a news conference in July that the F.B.I. was closing the Clinton email investigation. Though he said he would not recommend charging Mrs. Clinton or her aides, he also criticized her for how she had handled government information.

The criticism angered Democrats. Months later, they fumed anew over Mr. Comey’s decision to send the letter to Congress — less than two weeks before Election Day — saying the F.B.I. had found more emails pertinent to the investigation. The emails turned out not to change the outcome of the investigation, but that revelation upended the election and later prompted accusations from some Clinton supporters that Mr. Comey had cost her the White House.

In March, Democrats got some satisfaction when Mr. Comey acknowledged before the House Intelligence Committee that the F.B.I. had opened an investigation over the summer into Russian meddling in the presidential election and whether any Trump associates were involved. But they also criticized Mr. Comey for not confirming the existence of that inquiry sooner.

Republicans have grilled Mr. Comey over his decision not to recommend charges in the Clinton email investigation and over a string of leaks to the news media from unnamed officials that were seen as damaging to Mr. Trump in the early days of his administration and in the weeks before the inauguration.

Mr. Comey has tried to keep a low profile since the March hearing, where he talked about the Russia investigation and dismissed Mr. Trump’s claim that he had been wiretapped by President Barack Obama.

Later that month, Mr. Comey spoke to national security experts at a dinner that members of the news media attended. His agenda then was clear.

“I’m determined not to make news,” he said.

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/05/03/us/politics/james-comey-fbi-senate-hearing.html?_r=0

Comey says classified Clinton emails were forwarded to Anthony Weiner

Comey on Clinton investigation: ‘I would make the same decision’

FBI Director James Comey responded, May 3, before the Senate Judiciary Committee to a question from Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) on his announcement about re-opening the probe into Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server days before the election.(Reuters)
May 3 at 12:47 PM
Hillary Clinton emails containing classified information were forwarded to former congressman Anthony Weiner, the director of the FBI testified Wednesday as he defended his handling of politically sensitive probes surrounding the last year’s presidential race.Under questioning from the senior Democrat on the committee, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), James B. Comey revealed more details about how Clinton’s emails ended up on Weiner’s computer.Weiner, a New York Democrat, was married to a top aide to Clinton, Huma Abedin. Weiner was being investigated separately for possible inappropriate communications with a minor.

“Somehow, her emails were being forwarded to Anthony Weiner, including classified information,” Comey said, adding later, “His then-spouse Huma Abedin appears to have had a regular practice of forwarding emails to him for him to print out for her so she could deliver them to the secretary of state.”

Here is the opening statement from FBI Director James B. Comey at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on May 3. (Photo: AP/Reuters)

The two were investigated for possible mishandling of classified material, but the FBI ultimately dropped the matter without seeking charges because they could not show either of them intended to violate the law, Comey said.

“Really the central problem we had with the whole email investigation was proving people… had some sense they were doing something unlawful. That was our burden and we were unable to meet it,’’ he said.

The director defended his decision to notify Congress that he had reopened the Clinton email probe just days before the election, saying he was forced to choose between saying something or concealing what he knew — or, as he put it, “between really bad and catastrophic.’’

He added: “It makes me mildly nauseous to think we might have had some impact on the election.”

Comey said he has been interviewed by the Justice Department’s inspector general as part of an internal investigation into how the FBI handled the Clinton case.

“I want that inspection, I want my story told,’’ he said. “If I did something wrong, I want to hear that.’’

But he added that he still thinks he behaved appropriately and had no regrets about his decisions.

FBI Director James B. Comey described the difference between investigative journalism and what he called “intelligence porn” released by WikiLeaks, speaking to the Senate Judiciary Committee on May 3 at the Capitol. (Reuters)

“Lordy, has this been painful,’’ he said. “I’ve gotten all kinds of rocks thrown at me and this has been really hard, but I think I’ve done the right thing at each turn.’’

Comey has been under intense pressure from both Republicans and Democrats to explain his decision-making, and he faced more criticism in Wednesday’s hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee. The hearing was scheduled to conduct general congressional oversight of the FBI, but politically sensitive investigations quickly became the focus of lawmakers’ questions.

The chairman of the committee, Sen. Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa), opened the hearing by saying that “a cloud of doubt hangs over the FBI.” He demanded that the bureau reveal more about how it has handled the probes.

“We need to know whether there was anything improper going on between the Trump campaign and the Russians, or if these allegations are just a partisan smear campaign that manipulated our government into chasing conspiracy theories,” Grassley said.

Comey began his prepared testimony by praising the work of the FBI, citing the recent successful investigations of bomb threats against Jewish community centers, hacking networks and doctors accused of female genital mutilation.

“I love this work, I love this job, and I love it because of the mission and the people I get to work with,’’ he said.

Grassley’s first question to Comey was about leaks, asking Comey if he had ever been an anonymous source for stories about Clinton or Trump.

“Never,’’ Comey said. Asked if he had authorized someone else to speak anonymously to reporters about those cases, the director said no.

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) asked Comey what threat Russia posed to future U.S. elections. “In my view the greatest threat of any nation on earth given their intention and their capability,’’ Comey answered, adding that while Russia did not alter vote tallies in 2016, they have tried to do so in other countries and he said U.S. officials should expect them to try to do so in future U.S. elections.One of the lessons that particularly the Russians may have drawn from this is that it works,’’ Comey said.

Democrats repeatedly pressed Comey about his decision to notify Congress just days before the election that he was reopening the probe into Clinton’s use of a private email server for her work as secretary of state. Democrats are particularly upset about that decision because after the election, Comey acknowledged that the FBI had begun secretly investigating in late July whether any Trump associates might be working with Russian officials to meddle with the presidential campaign.

“It’s still very unclear — and I hope, director, that you will clear this up — why the FBI’s treatment of these two investigations was so dramatically different,” Feinstein said.

The FBI has already concluded that Russian intelligence hacked into Democratic computer systems and email accounts, stealing information that was published by WikiLeaks during the campaign.

Asked about WikiLeaks, Comey said he thought the anti-secrecy group was engaged in something more sinister than journalism.

“To my mind, it crosses a line when it moves from being trying to educate the public and instead becomes about intelligence porn, quite frankly,’’ said Comey. A “huge portion’’ of WikiLeaks’ activities “has nothing to do with legitimate news activity,’’ he said, “… but is simply about releasing classified information to damage the United States of America.’’

The Washington Post reported last month that the Justice Department is trying to determine if it can bring criminal charges against those working for the anti-secrecy group.

On Tuesday, Clinton said the move by Comey on Oct. 28 to tell Congress that his investigators were looking at a new batch of Clinton emails helped alter the outcome of the presidential election.

“If the election had been on October 27, I would be your president,” she said at an event in New York. Clinton said that as the candidate on the ballot, she took responsibility for the loss. But she added that she was “on the way to winning until a combination of Jim Comey’s letter on October 28 and Russian WikiLeaks raised doubts in the minds of people who were inclined to vote for me and got scared off.”

Tuesday night, Trump tweeted a fresh broadside at Comey and Clinton, saying the FBI director “was the best thing that ever happened to Hillary Clinton in that he gave her a free pass for many bad deeds.” In a second tweet, he added that the “phony Trump/Russia story was an excuse used by the Democrats as justification for losing the election.”

https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/fbi-director-james-comey-begins-testimony-to-congress/2017/05/03/9e3244bc-3006-11e7-9534-00e4656c22aa_story.html?utm_term=.3db1fe1a3f76

Story 2: Time For President Trump To Instruct Attorney General Session To Appoint Independent Special Prosecutor To Pursue The Many Clinton Crimes Before Statue of Limitations Runs Out In February 2018! — The Clintons are NOT Above the Law — American People Demand Justice! — Videos

Image result for Hillary Clinton interview Image result

Image result for cartoons branco on comey and emails on clinton

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If Hillary Clinton supporters are confused why she lost, watch this

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Why Hillary Clinton Thinks She Lost The 2016 Election | The 11th Hour | MSNBC

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“Shattered” tells behind-the-scenes story of Hillary Clinton’s election loss

Here’s how a special prosecutor investigating Trump and Russia would get appointed

donald trump
President Donald Trump in a meeting with business leaders.Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

After revelations Wednesday that Attorney General Jeff Sessions had two conversations with Russia’s ambassador to the US during the 2016 campaign, lawmakers renewed calls for a special prosecutor to investigate ties between Trump associates and Russian operatives.

House Oversight Committee Chair Rep. Jason Chaffetz, a Republican from Utah, tweeted Thursday morning “AG Sessions should clarify his testimony and recuse himself.”

Democratic senators have called repeatedly for a special prosecutor, more often called an independent or special counsel, to be appointed.

But what exactly is a special prosecutor, how does he or she get appointed, and what happens next? We broke it down.

Who appoints a special prosecutor?

Jeff Sessions

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson (L) and Attorney General Jeff Sessions (R) arrive for US President Donald Trump’s first address to a joint session of Congress on the floor of the House of Representatives in Washington, U.S., February 28, 2017.REUTERS/Jim Lo Scalzo/Pool

A special counsel could be appointed by either Sessions himself or by Congress to investigate potential ties between Trump’s inner circle and Russia, said Professor William Banks, the founding director of the Institute for National Security and Counterterrorism at Syracuse University.

A “special counsel” is a modern day term for a “special prosecutor,” according to Banks, and any investigation would likely use the term “special counsel.” The term “special prosecutor” was used up through the 1980s, after which the laws around special prosecutors expired and were not renewed, therefore retiring the term.

Banks said there may be pressure on Sessions not to appoint a special counsel, given that he was appointed by Trump. “We would hope [Sessions] would exercise independent judgment about the efficacy of having a special counsel,” Banks told Business Insider.

Democratic lawmakers, led by Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, have requested Sessions recuse himself from any investigations multiple times, renewing the call on Thursday following news about Sessions’ meeting with the Russian ambassador. (After the latest revelations, Schumer said he should resign.) House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy said on Thursday that “it would be easier” if Sessions recused himself.

“I think, the trust of the American people, you recuse yourself in these situations,” McCarthy said, according to Politico. “I just think for any investigation going forward, you want to make sure everybody trusts the investigation … that there’s no doubt within the investigation.”

Sessions has previously said that he would recuse himself on anything requiring him to do so, but he has asserted that he sees no need to remove himself from any Trump-Russia investigations.

The Department of Justice does have a rule that could affect Sessions’ role in a special counsel investigation:

“No DOJ employee may participate in a criminal investigation or prosecution if he has a personal or political relationship with any person or organization substantially involved in the conduct that is the subject of the investigation or prosecution, or who would be directly affected by the outcome.”

chuckschumer

Senate Minority Leader Chuck SchumerMario Tama/Getty Images

If the attorney general recuses himself, it falls to the deputy attorney general to appoint an independent counsel, according to the Code of Federal Regulations. The appointment of a special counsel by the attorney general or deputy attorney general is “unreviewable,” according to the Center for Legal and Economic Studies.

Preliminary investigations are currently underway in the Senate and House intelligence committees, but Banks said he believes it is unlikely a special counsel would be created until those investigations conclude.

The other way to establish an independent counsel goes through Congress.

Congress could initiate the process to create a different independent counsel for investigations by passing a law, as it did in 1978, when the Ethics in Government Act was passed. The law dictated that a three-judge panel based at the US Court of Appeals in DC would appoint the counsel. The law, which was reauthorized several times until its sunset in 1999, was used more than a dozen times to initiate investigations, according to PBS Frontline. It was used most famously in the 1990s to appoint attorney Kenneth Starr to oversee investigations in to President Bill Clinton.

Such a law would have to be either signed by Trump or, in the event of a presidential veto, overridden by a two-thirds majority of both houses of Congress. There is precedent, however, for a president to sign an independent counsel law amid scrutiny. Clinton signed a reauthorization of the 1978 law in 1994 with a number of alleged scandals brewing.

Congress could, however, launch its own investigation into the executive branch without legislation because such authority is implicit in the appropriations power, Banks said. If Congress decided to act on its own, it is much more likely that it would establish a commission or committee to investigate, rather than passing ethics legislation, Banks added.

What kinds of people are appointed to a special counsel?

Special counsels tend to be highly respected lawyers or judges. Examples, according to Banks, include: highly experienced private practice lawyers, retired judges, and former Justice Department prosecutors.

How long would a special counsel investigation take to complete?

A special counsel investigation would likely take between six to nine months, according to Banks, who said that such investigations tend to be extremely complicated by nature. With so much classified information, intelligence agency officials that need to be interviewed, and hard to obtain information, it takes a while to sort out.

What does a special counsel have access to?

A special counsel investigation would involve arranging access to classified documents. This could be achieved by either declassifying information or creating clearance to classified documents for the purpose of the investigation only. If the latter is done, it is unlikely the public would see the documents obtained.

A special counsel would also be expected to interview a vast range of people with knowledge of or connection to the investigation.

flynn trump and bannon

President Donald Trump speaks on the phone with Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull in the Oval Office of the White House, January 28, 2017 in Washington, DC. Also pictured at right, National Security Advisor Michael Flynn and White House Chief Strategist Steve Bannon.Drew Angerer/Getty Images

In the case of the Trump-Russia allegations, a special counsel would look into any and all classified or declassified documents that the FBI, CIA, and various police departments and investigation groups might have the incident.

This would include human or digital intelligence, and the dossier delivered by British intelligence. Extensive interviews would be run with anyone close to the situation, including Trump’s inner circle, and anyone who had access to digital or technical related information, said Banks. The special counsel themselves would ultimately determine which evidence to use.

What happens after the special counsel investigation concludes?

What happens next depends in part on who appoints a special counsel. Attorney General Jeff Sessions would decide whether the special counsel appointed under him had enough evidence to prosecute Trump or implicated officials.

If Congress created an office for an independent or special counsel, it is likely that the counsel would refer results of the investigation to Congress, though that could change depending on the legislation passed. If Congress initiated an investigation through a commission or committee, it would fall to the attorney general to decide whether to prosecute based on the results provided.

Why are people asking for a special counsel?

Trump and his inner circle have been accused of having close ties to Russia. The White House has denied many of those accusations. Business Insider has previously reported that:

  • Trump and several associates continue to draw intense scrutiny for alleged ties to and communications with the Russian government.
  • A dossier of unverified claims alleged serious misconduct in the final months of the 2016 presidential campaign. The White House has dismissed the dossier as fiction, and most of the claims remain unverified.
  • Trump’s campaign aides were accused of having frequent contact with Russia in a report released by the New York Times.
  • A report published on Wednesday by the Washington Post said that Attorney General Jeff Sessions met with the Russian Ambassador twice during the 2016 election.

White House press secretary Sean Spicer has argued that Trump and his aides have been sufficiently investigated already, and that no evidence of wrongdoing has been found.

Michelle Mark contributed reporting on this article.

Special prosecutor

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

A special prosecutor (or special counsel or independent counsel) is a lawyer appointed to investigate and possibly prosecute a specific legal case of potential wrongdoing for which a conflict of interest exists for the usual prosecuting authority. For example, the investigation of an allegation against a sitting president or attorney general might be handled by a special prosecutor rather than an ordinary prosecutor, who would otherwise be in the position of investigating their own boss. Investigations into others connected to the government but not in a position of direct authority over the prosecutor, such as cabinet secretaries or election campaigns, have also been handled by special prosecutors.

The term is not specific to the United States,[1] or to the federal government. According to Harriger, the concept originates in state law: “state courts have traditionally appointed special prosecutors when the regular government attorney was disqualified from a case, whether for incapacitation or interest.”[2] While the most prominent special prosecutors have been those appointed since the 1870s to investigate presidents and those connected to them, the term can also be used to refer to any prosecutor appointed to avoid a conflict of interest or appearance thereof. For example, because district attorneys’ offices work closely with police, some activists argue that cases of police misconduct at the state and local level should be handled by “special prosecutors”.[3]

The term special counsel as used here is distinct from the United States Office of Special Counsel, which is a permanent government agency (unlike special counsels, who are appointed for specific, temporary assignments), which protects government whistleblowers, among other things.

Terminology

The terms “special prosecutor”, “independent counsel”, and “special counsel” have the same fundamental meaning, and their use (at least at the federal level in the US) is generally differentiated by the time period to which they are being applied. The term “special prosecutor” was used throughout the Watergate era, but was replaced by the less confrontational “independent counsel” in the 1983 reauthorization of the Ethics in Government Act.[4] Those appointed under that act after 1983 are generally referred to as independent counsels. Since the independent counsel law expired in 1999, the term special counsel has generally been used. This is the term used in the current US government regulations concerning the appointment of special counsels.[5]

While the term special prosecutor is sometimes used in historical discussions of all such figures before 1983, the term special counsel appears to have been frequently used as well, including, for example, in contemporary newspaper accounts[6] describing the first presidentially appointed special counsel in 1875.

United States appointment at the federal level

History of appointments

Pre-Watergate

The first federal special prosecutor, John B. Henderson, was appointed by Ulysses Grant in 1875 to investigate the Whiskey Ring scandal. After attempting to stifle Henderson’s investigation of the president’s personal secretary, Grant fired Henderson on the basis that Henderson’s statements to a grand jury regarding Grant were impertinent.[7] Following criticism, Grant appointed a new special prosecutor, James Broadhead, to continue the investigation.

James Garfield appointed the next special prosecutor, William Cook, in 1881 to investigate the Star route scandal. Cook continued his investigation into the Chester Arthur administration. Under the Theodore Roosevelt administration, special prosecutors were appointed to investigate two scandals. In 1903, Roosevelt appointed two special prosecutors (a democrat and a republican) to investigate allegations of bribery at the Post Office department. In 1905, Roosevelt’s attorney general, Philander Knox,[8] appointed Francis Heney special prosecutor to investigate the Oregon land fraud scandal.

Calvin Coolidge appointed two special counsels, Atlee Pomerene and Owen Roberts to investigate the Teapot Dome scandal. This appointment was unique in that it was made under a special Congressional resolution, and was subject to approval in the Senate.[9]

In 1952, Harry Truman appointed Newbold Morris “special assistant to the Attorney General” to investigate the corruption at the Bureau of Internal Revenue following Congressional pressure and calls for a special prosecutor.[10]After Morris submitted a lengthy questionnaire on personal finances to be completed by all senior executive officers, he was fired by Attorney General Howard McGrath, who was in turn fired by the president. Following the appointment of a new attorney general, the investigation was continued through regular channels.

Watergate

In May 1973, Richard Nixon‘s attorney general, Elliott Richardson, appointed Archibald Cox special prosecutor to investigate the Watergate scandal after Richardson had agreed in his senate confirmation hearing to appoint a Watergate special prosecutor. As part of his investigation, in July of that year, Cox first requested and then subpoenaed the Nixon White House tapes, secret recordings Nixon had made of conversations in the Oval Office and elsewhere. The Nixon administration refused to produce the tapes citing executive privilege, and the dispute was fought in court until October. After a Court of Appeals instructed the president to comply with the special prosecutor’s subpoena, Nixon ordered the special prosecutor fired. In what became known as the Saturday Night Massacre, both the attorney general and deputy attorney general (who had both made promises regarding the special prosecutor in their senate confirmations) resigned rather than carry out the order to fire Cox. Solicitor General Robert Bork, who was third in line at the Department of Justice, then fired Cox.

Initially, the Nixon Whitehouse announced that the office of the special prosecutor had been abolished, but after public outcry Nixon instead had Bork appoint Leon Jaworski as the second Watergate special prosecutor, less than two weeks after the Saturday Night Massacre. Jaworski continued Cox’s pursuit of the White House tapes, which were ultimately released following the supreme court decision in United States v. Nixon. Jaworski resigned after just under a year as special prosecutor, about two and a half months after Nixon’s own resignation, to be replaced by his (and Cox’s) deputy, Henry Ruth Jr. Ruth in turn resigned in 1975, leaving Charles Ruff the fourth and final Watergate special prosecutor. Acting under his existing appointment as Watergate special prosecutor, Ruff conducted an unrelated investigation into whether Gerald Ford had misused campaign funds while a congressman, clearing the president of any wrongdoing.[11]

Independent counsel law

Inspired in part by Watergate, in 1978 Congress passed the Ethics in Government Act, which among other things established formal rules for the appointment of a special prosecutor. The special prosecutor provisions in the bill were temporary, but were reauthorized by Congress in 1983 and 1987, expiring five years later in 1992, then were reinstated for another five years in 1994 before expiring again in 1999. The appointment of special prosecutors under the Ethics in Government Act varied in important ways from appointments made before and since. Most notably, although the decision to appoint a special prosecutor was still made by the attorney general, the actual selection of the special prosecutor was made by a three-judge panel.[12]

Roughly twenty special prosecutors (called independent counsels after 1983) were appointed under the Ethics in Government Act and its reauthorizations[13] during each of the Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, George HW Bush, and Bill Clinton administrations. These include significant investigations into the Iran–Contra affair and the Whitewater controversy, the latter of which ultimately led to the impeachment of Bill Clinton over the Lewinsky scandal. Numerous smaller investigations into cabinet secretaries for relatively minor offenses, such as drug use, were also carried out by special prosecutors during this period.

During the period 1992–1994 when the independent counsel provisions were not in force, Attorney General Janet Reno appointed Robert Fiske special counsel to investigate Whitewater. When the law was reauthorized in 1994, Reno invoked it to order an independent counsel be appointed to investigate Whitewater, and suggested Fiske continue in that role. Instead, Ken Starr was given the job by the three-judge panel. Starr resigned and was replaced by Robert Ray in 1999 just before the expiration of the independent counsel statute.[14] Ray formally concluded the Whitewater investigation in 2003.

Since 1999

Since the expiration of the independent counsel statute in 1999, there is no federal law governing the appointment of a special prosecutor, as was the case until 1978. With the law’s expiration in 1999, the Justice Department, under Attorney General Reno, promulgated procedural regulations governing the appointment of special counsels. These regulations were used that year by Reno to appoint John Danforth special counsel to investigate the FBI’s handling of the Waco siege.[15]

In 2003 during the George W Bush administration, Patrick Fitzgerald was appointed special counsel by Deputy Attorney General James Comey, acting after the recusal of Attorney General John Ashcroft, to investigate the Plame affair.

Legal authority

The legal authority under which special prosecutors are appointed has changed over the years.

In the case of the Teapot Dome investigation, Congress passed a special joint resolution requiring the appointment of a special counsel for the case, and requiring confirmation of the special counsels by the Senate, similarly to a cabinet appointment.[9] This process was unique in the history of federal special prosecutors.

Special prosecutors have also been appointed under special one-time regulations issued by the attorney general. This was the case, for example, for the Watergate special prosecutors.[16]

Passed partly in response to the events of Watergate, the Ethics in Government Act of 1978 created a statutory basis for the appointment of special prosecutors, and specifically restricted the authority of the president or attorney general, for example, to fire the independent counsel once appointed. The independent counsel provisions of the law were in effect during the periods 1978–1992 and 1994–1999.

With the expiration of the independent counsel authority in 1999, the Department of Justice under Attorney General Janet Reno promulgated regulations for the future appointment of special counsels. As of 2017, these regulations remain in effect as 28 CFR section 600.[5] While the regulations place limits on the authority of the attorney general, for example to fire the special counsel once appointed, they are internal Department of Justice regulations without an underlying statutory basis. It is thus unclear whether the limits these regulations place on the attorney general would prove binding in practice.

The existence of a law or regulations specifying one process to appoint a special prosecutor does not preclude the attorney general (or acting attorney general) from using their inherent authority to appoint a special prosecutor by other means, as has happened twice. Despite the passage of the Ethics in Government Act the previous year, Paul Curran was appointed to investigate Jimmy Carter’s peanut business in 1979 under the attorney general’s inherent authority (and was selected by him rather than by a three-judge panel as under the law), ostensibly because the alleged wrongdoing preceded the passage of the act.[7] Patrick Fitzgerald’s appointment as special counsel in 2003 was specifically not made under the 28 CFR 600 regulation.[17] The special counsel regulations specify that a special counsel must be a lawyer from outside the US government, while Fitzgerald was already a federal prosecutor at the time of his appointment.

Initiating a special prosecutor investigation

The decision to appoint a special prosecutor rests with the attorney general (or acting attorney general), or, historically, with the president. Under the independent counsel statute that expired in 1999, Congress could formally request the attorney general to appointment a special prosecutor (see role of legislative and judicial branches); however the law only required the attorney general to respond in writing with a decision and reasons, and in any event it is no longer in force.[16] Similarly, under the statute, the choice of who to appoint as special prosecutor was made by a three-judge panel of the Court of Appeals. This is no longer the case, and the decision of who to appoint now rests entirely with the attorney general.

The current special counsel regulations specify that:[5]

The Attorney General, or in cases in which the Attorney General is recused, the Acting Attorney General, will appoint a Special Counsel when he or she determines that criminal investigation of a person or matter is warranted and—

  • (a) That investigation or prosecution of that person or matter by a United States Attorney’s Office or litigating Division of the Department of Justice would present a conflict of interest for the Department or other extraordinary circumstances; and
  • (b) That under the circumstances, it would be in the public interest to appoint an outside Special Counsel to assume responsibility for the matter.

The attorney general sets the subject jurisdiction of the special counsel:

The jurisdiction of a Special Counsel shall be established by the Attorney General. The Special Counsel will be provided with a specific factual statement of the matter to be investigated. The jurisdiction of a Special Counsel shall also include the authority to investigate and prosecute federal crimes committed in the course of, and with intent to interfere with, the Special Counsel’s investigation, such as perjury, obstruction of justice, destruction of evidence, and intimidation of witnesses; and to conduct appeals arising out of the matter being investigated and/or prosecuted.

The choice of who to appoint is to be made by the attorney general with the following guidelines:

An individual named as Special Counsel shall be a lawyer with a reputation for integrity and impartial decisionmaking, and with appropriate experience to ensure both that the investigation will be conducted ably, expeditiously and thoroughly, and that investigative and prosecutorial decisions will be supported by an informed understanding of the criminal law and Department of Justice policies. The Special Counsel shall be selected from outside the United States Government. Special Counsels shall agree that their responsibilities as Special Counsel shall take first precedence in their professional lives, and that it may be necessary to devote their full time to the investigation, depending on its complexity and the stage of the investigation.

Terminating a special prosecutor investigation

Generally, the special prosecutor him or herself decides when an investigation will terminate, with or without formal charges being pursued. The special prosecutor typically issues a final report on their investigation at this time. The current special prosecutor regulations specify that[5] “At the conclusion of the Special Counsel’s work, he or she shall provide the Attorney General with a confidential report explaining the prosecution or declination decisions reached by the Special Counsel.”

Firing the special prosecutor

Three special prosecutors have been fired before they had completed their investigations. President Grant fired the special prosecutor investigating the Whiskey Ring scandal on charges of impudence against the president, but later replaced him following public pressure. President Truman’s attorney general fired Newbold Morris when Morris submitted a lengthy questionnaire to be filled out by all senior executive officers. Truman later fired the attorney general, and concluded the investigation through ordinary means. President Nixon fired special prosecutor Archibald Cox after Cox subpoenaed the White House tapes. Controversy over the propriety and legality of this last firing sparked a constitutional crisis, dubbed the Saturday Night Massacre. The firing was ruled illegal in the case of Nader v. Bork, but, as a new special prosecutor had already been appointed, the case was already moot when decided, and the decision was never appealed past the district court.[18]

The independent counsel law originally enacted in the Ethics in Government Act did not allow independent counsels appointed under the law to be removed except under specific circumstances such as wrongdoing or incapacitation. This law is no longer in effect.

The current special counsel regulations specify that:[5]

The Special Counsel may be disciplined or removed from office only by the personal action of the Attorney General. The Attorney General may remove a Special Counsel for misconduct, dereliction of duty, incapacity, conflict of interest, or for other good cause, including violation of Departmental policies. The Attorney General shall inform the Special Counsel in writing of the specific reason for his or her removal.

Unlike the independent counsel law, however, the current special counsel regulations were promulgated by the Justice Department and have no underlying statutory basis. Thus their force to constrain the attorney general is uncertain.

Role of the legislative and judicial branches

The decision to appoint a special prosecutor is made by the executive branch, historically by the president or attorney general (or acting attorney general). The only exception to this was the Teapot Dome special prosecutors, whose appointment was mandated by a joint resolution of Congress.[9]

Under the independent counsel statute, majorities of either party within the House or Senate Judiciary Committee could formally request the attorney general to appoint an independent counsel on a particular matter, but the decision of whether or not to appoint the independent counsel remained with the attorney general and was not reviewable in court. If the attorney general decided not to appoint an independent counsel in response to such a request, they were only required to respond in writing with the reasons.[16] Although under the statute the attorney general made the decision of whether or not to appoint an independent counsel, the actual selection of the individual to serve in this role was made by a three-judge panel of the US Court of Appeals.[which?][12]

Since the expiration of the independent counsel laws, as was the case before 1978, neither Congress nor the courts have any official role in the appointment of a special counsel; however Congress can use other powers to pressure an administration into appointing a special counsel. This happened, for example, in the appointment of Watergate special prosecutor Archibald Cox; senators secured a promise from Attorney General nominee Richardson to appoint a Watergate special prosecutor as a condition of his confirmation. Congress also has independent authority to investigate the president and his or her close associates through Congressional hearings as part of its government oversight role.[16]

Constitutionality

The appointment of a special prosecutor raises inherent separation of powers questions under the US Constitution. Since the special prosecutor is a member of the executive branch, it has been argued that the special prosecutor is ultimately answerable to the president, and can therefore be fired by them. Richard Nixon, for example, argued that he could not be compelled by a subpoena issued by his own subordinate.

The constitutionality of the independent counsel law was affirmed by an 7–1 decision of the supreme court in the case of Morrison v. Olson.

Calls for a special counsel to investigate Russian interference in the 2016 US election

On December 21, 2016, Democratic Congresswoman Nydia Valázquez wrote a letter to Attorney General Loretta Lynch asking Lynch to appoint a special counsel to investigate Russian interference in the 2016 United States election. Such an appointment would have been unusual in that the conflict of interest to be addressed was anticipated, following the inauguration of Donald Trump as president, rather than immediate.[19]

On February 24, 2017, Republican Congressman Darrell Issa called for the appointment of a special counsel on the Real Time with Bill Maher show.

On March 2, 2017, Attorney General Jeff Sessions recused himself from the investigation regarding Russian interference in the 2016 election following revelations that he had had meetings with the Russian ambassador while a Trump campaign surrogate, and had falsely testified otherwise in his senate confirmation hearing. The decision over whether to appoint a special counsel thus devolved to his deputy, currently Acting Deputy Attorney General Dana Boente. In senate confirmation hearings for Rod Rosenstein to replace Boente as Deputy Attorney General, ongoing in March 2017, several Democratic senators have sought to make the confirmation conditional on Rosenstein’s agreement to appoint a special counsel. Rosenstein has declined to make such a commitment, and because Democrats are in the minority, this is unlikely to prevent his confirmation.[20]

United States appointment at the state level

Special prosecutors are appointed in state court with greater frequency than federal, and most often in cases where a conflict of interest arises or to avoid even the appearance such a conflict exists. In local state governments, special prosecutors are appointed by a judge, government official, organization, company or group of citizens to prosecute violations of law committed by one or more governmental agents and procure indictments for actions taken under color of state law.[21] Unlike in courts having federal jurisdiction, where the terms “special counsel” and “independent counsel” have a uniform definition, in state court meanings of legal terms continually vary, but with “special prosector” referencing the appointment of an attorney (supra) in contemplation of representation and prosecution of one or more government agent(s) for unlawful conduct.

References

  1. Jump up^ “South Korea prosecutor paves way for charges against Park if impeachment upheld”. Reuters. 2017-03-06. Retrieved 2017-03-14.
  2. Jump up^ Harriger, Katy (1992). The Federal Special Prosecutor in American Politics. Lawrence, KS: University Press of Kansas. p. 3. ISBN 0-7006-0535-5.
  3. Jump up^ “Policy 11: Special or Independent Prosecutors | Justice in Policing Toolkit”. http://www.justiceinpolicing.com. Retrieved 2017-03-14.
  4. Jump up^ “The Office – A Brief History Of The Independent Counsel Law | Secrets Of An Independent Counsel | FRONTLINE | PBS”. http://www.pbs.org. Retrieved 2017-03-14.
  5. ^ Jump up to:a b c d e e-CFR: TITLE 28—Judicial Administration, retrieved 2017-03-14
  6. Jump up^ “THE WHISKY RING FRAUDS.; THE PROSECUTIONS IN ST. LOUIS. INDICTMENT OF GEN. BABCOCK–LETTER OF THE GRAND JURY TO THE PRESIDENT THANKING HIM FOR THE SUPPORT GIVEN THEM BY HIM–THE SPECIAL COUNSEL–MR. HENDERSON’S CASE. MR. HENDERSON’S ATTACK ON THE PRESIDENT–HE SAYS HE WAS INCORRECTLY REPORTE–THE REPORTED DISPATCH OF SENATOR MORTON.”. Retrieved 2017-03-14.
  7. ^ Jump up to:a b “OIC Smaltz: Speeches and Articles: Georgetown Law Journal: A View From Inside”. govinfo.library.unt.edu. Retrieved 2017-03-14.
  8. Jump up^ Greenberg, Gerald (2000). Historical Encyclopedia of U.S. Independent Counsel Investigations. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press. pp. 164–166. ISBN 0-313-30735-0.
  9. ^ Jump up to:a b c “A summary of the Teapot Dome scandal from the Brookings Institution”. academic.brooklyn.cuny.edu. Retrieved 2017-03-14.
  10. Jump up^ Greenberg, Gerald (2000). Historical Encyclopedia of U.S. Independent Counsel Investigations. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press. pp. 231–233. ISBN 0-313-30735-0.
  11. Jump up^ Greenberg, Gerald (2000). Historical Encyclopedia of U.S. Independent Counsel Investigations. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press. pp. 293–295. ISBN 0-313-30735-0.
  12. ^ Jump up to:a b “The Office – What Is The Special Division? | Secrets Of An Independent Counsel | FRONTLINE | PBS”. http://www.pbs.org. Retrieved 2017-03-14.
  13. Jump up^ “The Office – Independent Counsel Investigations, 1978 To The Present | Secrets Of An Independent Counsel | FRONTLINE | PBS”. http://www.pbs.org. Retrieved 2017-03-14.
  14. Jump up^ Post, From the Washington (1999-10-17). “Starr’s Chosen Successor Draws Praise, Criticism”. Los Angeles Times. ISSN 0458-3035. Retrieved 2017-03-14.
  15. Jump up^ “09-09-99: PRESS CONFERENCE WITH ATTORNEY GENERAL JANET RENO RE: APPOINTMENT OF FORMER SENATOR JOHN DANFORTH TO HEAD WACO PROBE”. http://www.justice.gov. Retrieved 2017-03-14.
  16. ^ Jump up to:a b c d Maskell, Jack (June 20, 2013). “Independent Counsels, Special Prosecutors, Special Counsels, and the Role of Congress” (PDF).
  17. Jump up^ “December 30, 2003 Letter from Deputy Attorney General James B. Comey to Patrick J. Fitzgerald” (PDF).
  18. Jump up^ “Nader v. Bork, 366 F. Supp. 104 (D.D.C. 1973)”. Justia Law. Retrieved 2017-03-14.
  19. Jump up^ “House Democrat appeals for special counsel to probe Russian hacking”. Washington Post. Retrieved 2017-03-14.
  20. Jump up^ “Grilled on Russia probe, deputy attorney general pick sidesteps Democrats’ calls for special prosecutor”. Washington Post. Retrieved 2017-03-14.
  21. Jump up^ Black’s Law Dictionary (8th ed. 2004) Prosecutor.

Further reading

  • Doyle, James (1977). Not Above the Law: the battles of Watergate prosecutors Cox and Jaworski. New York: William Morrow and Company. ISBN 0-688-03192-7.

External links

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Special_prosecutor

Story 3: Will There Be A House Vote to Repeal and Replace Obamacare? Only If Republican Have The 216 Votes! —  Until The Twelfth of Never — Breaking — Republican Have 216+ Votes — Videos

Image result for cartoons branco repeal of obamacare

Image result for cartoons branco repeal of obamacareImage result for cartoons branco repeal of obamacare

Image result for preexisting conditions

 The Truth Behind the Affordable Care Act – Learn Liberty

Obamacare: Goals vs. Outcomes- Learn Liberty

Rand Paul Questions Tom Price on Replacing Obamacare

Molyneux and Schiff For Liberty – Discrimination and Pre-Existing Conditions in Health Insurance

The GOP Has A Pre-Existing Condition | All In | MSNBC

MSNBC: Dr Jason Johnson on Trump’s Effort to Sway GOP Votes to Repeal and Replace Obamacare 5/3/17

Republicans could vote on health care this week

King: Leave pre-existing conditions to states

Rep. Jim Jordan: Pre-Existing Conditions Covered In GOP Healthcare Bill | MTP Daily | MSNBC

White House Continues To Work To Save Healthcare Bill

Pre-existing conditions mandate threatens Republican health care bill

Sources say WH aiming for health reform vote on Wednesday

President Trump guarantees pre-existing condition coverage in new health care bill

Published on Apr 30, 2017

President Trump says the new health care bill promises coverage for Americans with pre-existing conditions. “We have a specific clause that guarantees,” Trump tells CBS News’ John Dickerson.

CNN graphic nails Trump for lying about preexisting conditions

Trump Again Leads Effort To Repeal Affordable Care Act

Pre-existing condition

Politics Unusual: Washington Gridlock

12th of never

“the 12th of never” is used as the date of a future occurrence that will never come to pass.

JOHNNY MATHIS The Twelfth Of Never

Twelfth of Never
You ask me how much I need you, must I explain?
I need you, oh my darling, like roses need rain
You ask how long I’ll love you, I’ll tell you true
Until the Twelfth of Never, I’ll still be loving you
Hold me close, never let me go
Hold me close, melt my heart like April snow
I’ll love you ’til the bluebells forget to bloom
I’ll love you ’til the clover has lost its perfume
I’ll love you ’til the poets run out of rhyme
Until the Twelfth of Never and that’s a long, long time
Until the Twelfth of Never and that’s a long, long time
Songwriters: Jerry Livingston / Paul Webster

ObamaCare repeal gains votes and momentum

Reps. Fred Upton (R-Mich.) and Billy Long (R-Mo.) on Wednesday said they would support the GOP’s ObamaCare repeal-and-replace bill with the addition of an amendment, giving the effort new momentum as GOP leaders push toward a floor vote.

The two Republicans made the announcement at the White House after meeting with President Trump.

“I think it is likely now to pass the House,” Upton said.

But Upton added he’s “not on the whip team” and can’t definitively say there are enough votes for it to pass.

Both Upton and Long dealt a setback to the health care measure earlier this week, when they came out against it because they said it failed to protect people with pre-existing conditions.

The new amendment from Upton would provide $8 billion over five years to help people with pre-existing conditions afford their premiums in states that are granted a waiver from ObamaCare’s protections.

The liberal Center for American Progress estimated on Tuesday that the high-risk pools are underfunded by much more: $200 billion over 10 years.

The GOP bill already includes $130 billion over 10 years, which was not swaying many moderates as of Tuesday.

Upton himself said on Tuesday afternoon that more money for the high-risk pools “does not do the trick,” but he appeared to have a change of heart on Wednesday.

GOP leaders are whipping aggressively in favor of the healthcare bill in hopes of holding a vote before a one-week recess.

Upton said votes in the House Rules Committee, which would set up debate of the bill on the floor, could be held as soon as Thursday.

If the House votes on the bill this week, there would not be time for a new Congressional Budget Office analysis of Upton’s changes or of an amendment from Rep. Tom MacArthur (R-N.J.) that won over the House Freedom Caucus.

The MacArthur amendment set off moderates’ concerns in the first place. It allows states to waive ObamaCare protections that prevent people from being charged higher premiums based on their health. If those were repealed, insurers could go back to charging exorbitant premiums to sick people, which could put coverage out of reach for many.

Supporters of the bill argue high-risk pools could fill the gap, and note that people with pre-existing conditions would still be protected if they had no gaps in coverage.

It is not immediately clear how many other moderates Upton’s changes will sway. The moderate Tuesday Group was set to meet at 2 p.m. Wednesday.

Centrist Reps. Charlie Dent (R-Pa.) and Ryan Costello (R-Pa.) said Wednesday they are still opposed to the bill even after the changes.

Rep. Mike Coffman (R-Colo.) said in a statement Wednesday he could support the bill “if House leadership will work to tighten protections for those with pre-existing conditions.”

GOP Reps. Barbara Comstock (Va.), Frank LoBiondo (N.J.), Dan Donovan (N.Y.), Jaime Herrera Beutler (Wash.) and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (Fla.) are all still opposed to the bill after the changes, their respective offices told The Hill on Wednesday.

A spokesman for Rep. John Faso (N.Y.) said he is still undecided.

But in a key development for Republican leaders, the ultraconservative House Freedom Caucus has indicated it will continue to back the bill with the Upton amendment as long as it contains only additional funds and no policy changes.

On conservative host Hugh Hewitt’s radio show Wednesday, Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) praised Upton’s efforts, calling his amendment something that “nobody has a problem with.”

“Fred Upton identified something he thinks will make the bill better,” Ryan said. “What we’re doing is listening to our members, finding where that sweet spot of consensus is and driving there.”

Illustrating the pressure from the White House, Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney called for a vote on Fox News Wednesday morning.

Mulvaney said that if he were Speaker of the House, “I’d probably go to the floor today, because it’s just that close.”

The healthcare legislation was abruptly pulled from the House floor in late March after it became clear that a planned vote would have failed.

The underlying bill also has several provisions some moderates object to, such as deep Medicaid cuts. The Congressional Budget Office estimated the overall legislation would result in 24 million more people becoming uninsured over a decade.

Democrats and some health policy experts have also raised concerns that $8 billion will not be enough to cover everyone with pre-existing conditions who would lose their insurance coverage.

But Trump is hungry for a major legislative achievement after not securing one during his first 100 days in office, and the White House is in full court press to rally support behind the healthcare plan.

After announcing he was a “no” vote, Long said Trump called him multiple times to plead for his support. “The president said, ‘Billy, we really need you, we need you, man,’” the congressman said.

Upton said he and Long went to the White House to sell Trump on their amendment. The Michigan lawmaker said during their meeting he read Trump his comments during a Bloomberg News interview in which he said the health bill “will be every bit as good on pre-existing conditions as ObamaCare.”

“I want him to keep that pledge,” Upton said. “This amendment allows that to happen.”

– Scott Wong contributed. Updated 1:18 p.m.

http://thehill.com/policy/healthcare/331755-obamacare-repeal-gains-votes-and-momentum

Pre-existing condition

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
This article is about the term in health insurance. For medical use of the term, see Complication (medicine).

In the context of healthcare in the United States, a pre-existing condition is a medical condition that started before a person’s health insurance went into effect. Before 2014 some insurance policies would not cover expenses due to pre-existing conditions. These exclusions by the insurance industry were meant to cope with adverse selection by potential customers. Such exclusions are prohibited after January 1, 2014, by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

Definitions

The University of Pittsburgh Medical Center defines a pre-existing condition as a “medical condition that occurred before a program of health benefits went into effect”.[1] J. James Rohack, president of the American Medical Association, has stated on a Fox News Sunday interview that exclusions, based upon these conditions, function as a form of “rationing” of health care.[2]

Conditions can be broken down into two further categories, according to Lisa Smith of Investopedia:[3]

Most insurance companies use one of two definitions to identify such conditions. Under the “objective standard” definition, a pre-existing condition is any condition for which the patient has already received medical advice or treatment prior to enrollment in a new medical insurance plan. Under the broader, “prudent person” definition, a pre-existing condition is anything for which symptoms were present and a prudent person would have sought treatment.

Which definition may be used was sometimes regulated by state laws. Some states required insurance companies to use the objective standard, while others required the prudent person standard. 10 states did not specify either definition, 21 required the “prudent person” standard, and 18 required the “objective” standard.[4]

Regulation

Regulation of pre-existing condition exclusions in individual (non-group) and small group (2 to 50 employees) health insurance plans in the United States is left to individual U.S. states as a result of the McCarran–Ferguson Act of 1945 which delegated insurance regulation to the states and the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA) which exempted self-insured large group health insurance plans from state regulation. After most states had by the early 1990s implemented some limits on pre-existing condition exclusions by small group (2 to 50 employees) health insurance plans, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (KassebaumKennedy Act) of 1996 (HIPAA) extended some minimal limits on pre-existing condition exclusions for all group health insurance plans—including the self-insured large group health insurance plans that cover half of those with employer-provided health insurance but are exempt from state insurance regulation.[5][6][7][8][9][10]

Current federal regulation

Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (Pub.L. 111-148) enacted March 23, 2010[11]
  • Immediate reform: effective June 21, 2010 (90 days after enactment)
    • National high-risk pool for individuals with a pre-existing condition who have been uninsured for the prior 6 months
      • Premium to be set at a standard rate for a standard population
      • Premium for older individuals allowed to be up to 4 times the premium for younger individuals
      • Premium for tobacco users allowed to be up to 1.5 times the premium for non-tobacco users
  • Immediate reform: effective September 23, 2010 (6 months after enactment)
    • Group health insurance plans and new (non-grandfathered) individual health insurance plans[12]
      • Pre-existing condition exclusions prohibited for children under age 19
  • Reform delayed for 4 years: effective January 1, 2014
    • Individual and group health insurance plans
      • Pre-existing condition exclusions prohibited in all health insurance plans
      • Prohibit treating acts of domestic violence as a pre-existing condition
      • Waiting period for enrollment in new health insurance plans limited to 90 days
    • Grandfathered existing health insurance plans must prohibit pre-existing condition exclusions by January 1, 2014

Former regulation

Individual (non-group) health insurance plans[13][14]
Small group (2 to 50 employees) health insurance plans[15]
Large group (self-insured) health insurance plans
  • Maximum pre-existing condition exclusion period
    • 12 months: 50 states + DC
  • Maximum look-back period for pre-existing conditions
    • 6 months: 50 states + DC

Pre-existing condition exclusions were prohibited for HIPAA-eligible individuals (those with 18 months continuous coverage unbroken for more than 63 days and coming from a group health insurance plan).

Individual (non-group) health insurance plans could exclude maternity coverage for a pre-existing condition of pregnancy.[2]

Group health insurance plans sponsored by employers with 15 or more employees were prohibited by the Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978 from excluding maternity coverage for a pre-existing condition of pregnancy; this prohibition was extended to all group health insurance plans by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA).[2]

Practices and effects

Advocates against pre-existing condition rules argue that they cruelly deny needy people treatment. State Farm spokeswoman K.C. Eynatten has said, “We realized our position was based on gut feelings, not hard numbers… we became aware that we were part of the reason a woman and her children might not leave an abuser. They were afraid they’d lose their insurance. And we wanted no part of that.”[16] Jerry Flanagan, health-care policy director of Consumer Watchdog, has stated that “insurance companies want premiums without any risk” and go to extreme “lengths… to go to make a profit”.[17] InsureMe, an insurance quote provider website, has argued that even though health insurance is basically to protect people from very high costs of health care, the commercial health insurance system is not playing fair and are always trying to avoid risk in order to boost their profits.[18]

Some practices by some health insurance companies, such as determining domestic violence to be an excludable pre-existing condition, have been called abuses by Maria Tchijov, a Service Employees International Union new media coordinator, and by an Office of Rural Health Policy report.[16][19][20]

The rationale behind pre-existing condition clauses, according to those who defend the policies, is that they reduce the cost of health insurance coverage for those who still receive it, thus giving more people an opportunity to afford insurance in the first place.[16][21] The San Francisco Chronicle has reported that “[c]osts for those with coverage could go up because people in poor health who’d been shut out of the insurance pool would now be included… they would get medical care they could not access before.”[21] Senator Mike Enzi, a Republican from Wyoming, has voted to allow insurance companies to consider domestic violence as a pre-existing condition and supported his vote by saying that covering such people could raise insurance premiums to the point where it would preclude others from buying it. He has remarked that “If you have no insurance, it doesn’t matter what services are mandated by the state”.[16][22]

According to the California-based advocacy group Consumer Watchdog, other possible situations falling under pre-existing condition clauses are chronic conditions as acne, hemorrhoids, toenail fungus, allergies, tonsillitis, and bunions, hazardous occupations such as police officer, stunt person, test pilot, circus worker, and firefighter, and pregnancy and/or the intention to adopt.[17]

Commentary by lawmakers

According to a Reason.com libertarian opinion blog by Peter Suderman, the ‘Pledge to America‘ issued by the Republican Party in September 2010 stated, “Health care should be accessible for all, regardless of pre-existing conditions or past illnesses…. We will make it illegal for an insurance company to deny coverage to someone with prior coverage on the basis of a pre-existing condition.”[23] In a March 3, 2010, address, President Barack Obama said that coverage denied to those with pre-existing conditions is a serious problem that would only grow worse without major reforms.[24] In a September 2010 visit with Falls Church, Virginia, residents, Obama referred to a woman with an eye condition and a woman with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma as personal examples in the audience of those benefiting from changing pre-existing condition rules.[25]

Public opinion

A Time Magazine-Abt SRBI poll in late July 2009 found that a large majority of Americans (80%) favored a requirement that insurance companies insure people even if they suffer from pre-existing conditions.[26]

In September 2009, the monthly Kaiser Health Tracking Poll report said:[27]

The public’s most unanimous and bipartisan support is saved for a proposal to have the federal government require that health insurance companies cover anyone who applies, even if he/she has a pre-existing condition. Overall, eight in ten back the proposal, including 67 percent of Republicans, 80 percent of political independents and 88 percent of Democrats.

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The Pronk Pops Show 878, April 21, 2017, Story 1: French Confirm Killing of Police Officer By Radical Islamic Terrorist Killer, Karim Cheurfi, Connected To Islamic State, — Videos — Story 2: Will Marine Le Pen Win In The First Round of French Presidential Election? First Round –Yes — — Making France Great Again — Second Round –Marine Le Pen May Be First Woman President or Emmannuel Marcon The Youngest — Videos — Story 3: Trump Administration Rolls Out New Tax Reform Plan and House Votes On Repeal and Replace Compromise Bill — By Day 100 — American People Want The FairTax And Full Repeal of Obamacare and Republican Establishment Wants Partial Repeal of Obamacare and Border Adjustment Tax — Stupid Party? — Videos — Story 4: Democrats Want To Shut-down Government Over Trump’s Wall — Republicans Pass Continuing Resolution — Videos

Posted on April 21, 2017. Filed under: American History, Banking System, Blogroll, Breaking News, Budgetary Policy, Communications, Computers, Congress, Corruption, Countries, Culture, Donald J. Trump, Donald J. Trump, Donald Trump, Donald Trump, Economics, Education, Elections, Federal Government, Fiscal Policy, Foreign Policy, Free Trade, Government, Health Care, Health Care Insurance, History, House of Representatives, Human, Illegal Immigration, Immigration, Independence, Insurance, Investments, Labor Economics, Law, Legal Immigration, Life, Media, Monetary Policy, News, Philosophy, Photos, Politics, Polls, President Trump, Presidential Appointments, Progressives, Radio, Raymond Thomas Pronk, Regulation, Rule of Law, Tax Policy, Terror, Terrorism, U.S. Negotiations with Islamic Republic of Iran, United States of America, Videos, Wealth, Wisdom | Tags: , , , , , , , , , |

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Masked police officers were photographed standing on top of a vehicle on the Champs Elysees following an incident which left one officer deadEmmanuel Macron and Marine Le Pen.Image result for trump omb director mike mulveney

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Story 1: French Confirm Killing of Police Officer By Radical Islamic Terrorist Killer, Karim Cheurfi, Connected To Islamic State,  — Videos — 

ISIS Reportedly Claims Responsibility For Paris Attack That Left 1 Officer Dead | TODAY

Is Marine Le Pen the Donald Trump of France?

Paris shooting: Gunman was ‘focus of anti-terror’ probe – BBC News

Police search home of shooting suspect in Paris suburb

Raw: Memorial For Officer Killed In Paris Shooting

Geert Wilders message for Europe

Revealed: ISIS terrorist who shot dead cop in Paris attack was arrested TWO MONTHS ago for threatening to kill police and served 15 years for trying to murder two officers

  • Policeman Xavier Jugele, 37, was killed last night after being ‘targeted’ on the Champs Elysees in central Paris
  • The attacker was eventually shot dead after French police officers rushed to the scene in the heart of the city
  • The gunman’s Audi contained a pump action shotgun, knives and ID of known ‘extremist’ Karim Cheurfi 
  • Two other police officers were ‘seriously injured’ and a ‘female foreign tourist’ was wounded in the incident
  • A note declaring allegiance to ISIS was discovered on the Champs Elysees and is being investigated by police 

French security services are today facing troubling questions as to how they failed to prevent an ISIS gunman from slaughtering one policeman and wounding two other officers in Paris when he was arrested as recently as February.

Karim Cheurfi, 39, had served 15 years of a 20-year jail sentence for attempting to kill two officers in 2001, before his release last year.

In February, the terrorist tried to obtain weapons and made threats to kill police officers, but was let go in early March due to lack of evidence.

On Thursday night, the fanatic was killed by police after he got out of his Audi and opened fire at police who had stopped at a red light on Champs Elysees. His car was packed with more weapons, including a pump action shotgun and knives. A copy of the Koran was also found in the vehicle.

Traffic officer Xavier Jugele, 37, died instantly with a shot to the head, while the other two were hurt before Cheurfi himself was gunned down by nearby armed police. A ricocheting bullet fired by the terrorist also wounded a female foreign tourist passing by.

ISIS has claimed responsibility for the attack and nicknamed the attacker ‘Abu Yousuf al-Belgiki’, which translates to ‘the Belgian’ in Arabic – a name which was listed in uncovered documents from the terror group last year.

A note declaring allegiance to ISIS was discovered on the Champs Elysees and is being investigated by police. Its presence and the speed at which ISIS claimed responsibility may suggest the attack was directed by the jihadist group rather than carried out by a lone supporter.

Karim Cheurfi

Pictured is the suspected ISIS gunman, who has been identified locally as 39-year-old father Karim Cheurfi

Pictured (left and right) is the suspected ISIS gunman, who has been identified locally as 39-year-old Karim Cheurfi

The alleged ISIS gunman, identified as 39-year-old Karim Cheurfi - who was jailed for 20 years for trying to kill officers in 2001 - parked his Audi and opened fire after police stopped at a red light on the world famous avenue. Pictured is his arrest warrant from last month, when he was detained for trying to obtain weapons 'to kill police'

The alleged ISIS gunman, identified as 39-year-old Karim Cheurfi – who was jailed for 20 years for trying to kill officers in 2001 – parked his Audi and opened fire after police stopped at a red light on the world famous avenue. Pictured is his arrest warrant from last month, when he was detained for trying to obtain weapons ‘to kill police’

Traffic officer Xavier Jugele (pictured), 37, died instantly with a shot to the head, while the other two were hurt before Cheurfi himself was gunned down by nearby armed police

Traffic officer Xavier Jugele (pictured), 37, died instantly with a shot to the head, while the other two were hurt before Cheurfi himself was gunned down by nearby armed police

Pictured is armed police crowded two other officers, believed to have been shot in the attack, on Champs Elysees on Thursday night

Pictured is armed police crowded two other officers, believed to have been shot in the attack, on Champs Elysees on Thursday night

French police leave the home of ISIS gunman Karim Cheurfi in the suburb of Chelles, in Paris, following last night's attack

French police leave the home of ISIS gunman Karim Cheurfi in the suburb of Chelles, in Paris, following last night’s attack

A woman places a flower near the spot on the Champs Elysees where the shooting occurred last night in the French capital

A woman places a flower near the spot on the Champs Elysees where the shooting occurred last night in the French capital

A body is removed from the scene after a traffic officer was killed by an ISIS gunman in central Paris last night

A body is removed from the scene after a traffic officer was killed by an ISIS gunman in central Paris last night

French police officers and forensic teams searched a vehicle which was close to the scene on the Champs Elysees in Paris

French police officers and forensic teams searched a vehicle which was close to the scene on the Champs Elysees in Paris

A police lorry seized the Audi which the attacker was driving, before he got out and shot at traffic officers last night

A police lorry seized the Audi which the attacker was driving, before he got out and shot at traffic officers last night

A still image from video footage shows police forensic investigators inspect the car used by the attacker in Paris last night

A still image from video footage shows police forensic investigators inspect the car used by the attacker in Paris last night

In the latest developments after the attack:

  • French police have this morning arrested three family members of ISIS gunman Karim Cheurfi 
  • Police are hunting a second suspect, who was brought to their attention by Belgian authorities 
  • A man whose image appeared on social media as ‘second suspect’ handed himself to police in Antwerp claiming he was not linked to the plot. Detectives have said this man had nothing to do with the attack 
  • Far-right presidential candidate Marine Le Pen called for all French terror suspects to be expelled
  • France’s government has reviewed its already extensive election security measures and says it is ‘fully mobilised’ and nothing will stop Sunday’s presidential vote
  • US President Donald Trump believes the attack will have a ‘big effect’ on the outcome of the election 
  • British Prime Minister Theresa May has sent condolences to the French president following the latest attack but the pair have not spoken directly since last night 
  • Iran’s foreign secretary Bahram Ghasemi said France was feeling a blowback for its support of rebels in Syria 

French officials revealed that Cheurfi was detained in Meaux, 24 miles east of Paris, on February 23 this year, after it emerged he was trying to buy weapons ‘to kill police’.

On Friday night, but prosecutors tonight denied that he was on a security watch list and added the terrorist showed no signs of radicalisation before the attack.

He reportedly used the alias ‘Abu Yousuf the Belgian’ and reportedly made threats to murder officers using the social media app Telegram, an instant messaging service.

Despite having a long list of police-hating convictions, he was able to obtain a Kalashnikov, a pump action shotgun and several knives ahead of last night’s attack.

He had been jailed for 20 years in 2005 for trying to kill two policemen.  He opened fire five times with a .38 revolver following a car chase in 2001, leaving the officers and a third victim wounded. All three survived the attack in Roissy-en-Brie, in the Seine-et-Marne department of northern France.

An armed police officer hoists his weapon as they storm the streets of Paris after the latest terror attack to hit the city

An armed police officer hoists his weapon as they storm the streets of Paris after the latest terror attack to hit the city

Armed police outside a shop in central Paris after an ISIS gunman killed a traffic officer and injured three other people

Armed police outside a shop in central Paris after an ISIS gunman killed a traffic officer and injured three other people

Armed police officers on the streets of Paris after a gunman killed a traffic cop and seriously injured two others last night

Armed police officers on the streets of Paris after a gunman killed a traffic cop and seriously injured two others last night

Armed police officers stood guard after they rushed to the scene in the centre of the capital following the incident which left frightened witnesses sprinting for their lives 

Armed police officers stood guard after they rushed to the scene in the centre of the capital following the incident which left frightened witnesses sprinting for their lives

A team of forensic detectives examine the Audi, which the gunman was driving. ID of Karim Cheurfi was found in the vehicle

A team of forensic detectives examine the Audi, which the gunman was driving. ID of Karim Cheurfi was found in the vehicle

Cheurfi, who was born in France, was a recluse who blamed police for ruining his life, a friend of the family revealed today.

OFFICER SHOT DEAD GUARDED BATACLAN AT ITS REOPENING

By Sam Tonkin for MailOnline 

The policeman killed by an ISIS gunman on the Champs-Elysees was today named as Xavier Jugelé, a 37-year-old Paris officer who defiantly said ‘no to terrorists’ at the reopening of the Bataclan theatre last November.

He was shot in the head when the terrorist – identified today as French national Karim Cheurfi, 39 – launched his attack on three police officers at around 9pm last night.

Jugelé, who was a proud defender of gay rights, was named as the victim who died by French newspaper Le Parisien.

It has since emerged that Jugelé was on duty at the reopening of the Bataclan theatre on November last year - a year on from the Paris attacks which left 130 dead.
Jugelé

It has since emerged that Jugelé (pictured left and right) was on duty at the reopening of the Bataclan theatre on November last year – a year on from the Paris attacks which left 130 dead

It has since emerged that Jugelé was on duty at the reopening of the Bataclan theatre on November last year – a year on from the Paris attacks which left 130 dead.

As British singer Sting marked the occasion with a performance at the concert hall, Jugelé defiantly told PEOPLE.com that he was there ‘to say no to terrorists’.

The policeman added: ‘I’m happy to be here. Glad the Bataclan is reopening. It’s symbolic.

‘We’re here tonight as witnesses. Here to defend our civic values. This concert’s to celebrate life. To say no to terrorists.

‘It doesn’t feel strange, it feels important,’ he added. ‘Symbolic.’

He did not attend formal mosque prayer services and became fascinated by jihadist propaganda via the internet, a confident of his mother claimed.

‘Karim did not pray, he drank alcohol and watched jihadist propaganda,’ neighbour Hakim, 50, told MailOnline.

‘He was not a good Muslim, he was a lost soul. He had no friends, no girlfriend, he never went out. He stayed at home all day watching stuff on the internet.’

Another neighbour added: ‘Karim didn’t go to the mosque. He just stayed at home. You never saw him.’

Hakim continued: ‘Karim blamed the police for ruining his life. He fired (a pistol) at police during a burglary and got sentenced to 15 years prison.

‘He was only 20 at the time. He hated the police, he said they had ruined his life. He was ‘anti-cop’. He would swear at officers in the street, call them bastards. He didn’t care.’

Hakim, whose family is close to Cheurfi’s mother, said the gunman had only recently returned to the quiet residential street after spending years behind bars.

Cheurfi lived separately from his mother in a purpose-built apartment in the front of the property.

Hakim added: ‘He lived in the studio in the garden. The mother lived in the big house.’

Cheurfi’s Algerian-born mother had divorced his father and had married a Frenchman with who she had second son. She later divorced her second son.

Another neighbour said: ‘His parents split up but they stayed living at the same property.

‘The father Salat lived in the apartment in the front of the garden and the mother lived in the house at the back of the property.

‘The mother married again, to a Frenchman, and they had a son together but the father stayed living at the property.

‘So it was a bit complicated but that’s life. Karim got on well with his half brother who is called Stephane.

‘But he went to live in the apartment with his father when he got of prison.’

Another neighbor added: ‘The mother is not here. She is in Algeria. She goes there every few months to visit relatives. She’s not been well.’

Officers have been searching the home of Karim in east Paris and arrested three of his family members.

A French government spokesman said the ISIS gunman began firing against police using ‘a weapon of war’.

The fatal incident unfolded as presidential candidates, including National Front party leader Marine Le Pen, debated on a TV show nearby before Sunday’s election.

Paris police search the suspected Champs-Elysee attacker’s house

A French police officer has been shot dead on the Champs Elysees in Paris (pictured) - just days before the French presidential election 

A French police officer has been shot dead on the Champs Elysees in Paris (pictured) – just days before the French presidential election

People held their hands up as they walked towards officers close to the scene where a policeman was fatally shot in Paris

People held their hands up as they walked towards officers close to the scene where a policeman was fatally shot in Paris

Police closed off the popular avenue (pictured) after a policeman was killed during a shooting incident in the French capital

Police closed off the popular avenue (pictured) after a policeman was killed during a shooting incident in the French capital

Pictured is the scene of a restaurant in Paris when the gunman opened fire on the streets outside. Diners are seen cowering on the ground in fear

Pictured is the scene of a restaurant in Paris when the gunman opened fire on the streets outside. Diners are seen cowering on the ground in fear

An armed policeman speaks to diners in a nearby Parisien restuarant, who cowered to the floor in fear of the ISIS gunman

An armed policeman speaks to diners in a nearby Parisien restuarant, who cowered to the floor in fear of the ISIS gunman

The gunman has been identified by police but they will not officially reveal his name until investigators determine whether he had accomplices, according to the Paris prosecutor.

Prosecutor Francois Molins said: ‘The identity of the attacker is known and has been checked. I will not give it because investigations with raids are ongoing.

‘The investigators want to be sure whether he had or did not have accomplices.’

The Interior Ministry spokesman said the officers were deliberately targeted and the police union added that the policeman was killed while sat in a car at a red light.

US President Donald Trump said: ‘It looks like another terrorist attack. What can you say? It never ends.’

The attack which took place on the Champs Elysees (pictured) comes just three days before the first round of balloting in France's tense presidential election

The attack which took place on the Champs Elysees (pictured) comes just three days before the first round of balloting in France’s tense presidential election

A French police officer stood guard on the Champs Elysees in central Paris following the fatal shooting, which has been described as 'terrorist related' 

A French police officer stood guard on the Champs Elysees in central Paris following the fatal shooting, which has been described as ‘terrorist related’

Police officers secured the area after a gunman got of an Audi vehicle and targeted officers by firing an automatic gun towards them 

Police officers secured the area after a gunman got of an Audi vehicle and targeted officers by firing an automatic gun towards them

A man and a woman put their hands in the air as armed officers stood just yards away from them following the incident in the city 

A man and a woman put their hands in the air as armed officers stood just yards away from them following the incident in the city

Officers searched the home of the suspected gunman on Thursday evening after they travelled to his home in the east part of the capital 

Officers searched the home of the suspected gunman on Thursday evening after they travelled to his home in the east part of the capital

People were seen running away from the area after Thursday night's attack, which has been described as being 'terrorist related'

People were seen running away from the area after Thursday night’s attack, which has been described as being ‘terrorist related’

Police officers searched the home of the suspected gunman in east Paris following the attack in the capital on Thursday 

Police officers searched the home of the suspected gunman in east Paris following the attack in the capital on Thursday

The Audi which is believed to belong to the attacker was taken away from the scene on the back of a lorry as police rushed to the popular avenue 

The Audi which is believed to belong to the attacker was taken away from the scene on the back of a lorry as police rushed to the popular avenue

Forensic experts and police officers were seen examining evidence from a van on the Champs Elysees in central Paris 

Forensic experts and police officers were seen examining evidence from a van on the Champs Elysees in central Paris

ISIS claimed responsibility for the attack and dramatic video footage showed the immediate aftermath of the incident which left one policeman dead.

Pierre-Henry Brandet, spokesman for the French Interior Ministry, confirmed that both injured officers in hospital were now ‘out of danger’ and ‘stable’, while the female tourist was far less badly hurt.

Mr Brandet did not name any of the victims, but praised the officers for ‘helping to avoid a bloodbath’ by ‘neutralising’ the attacker as quickly as possible.

French President Francois Hollande said the attack was ‘terrorist related’ and scheduled an emergency meeting following the shootings on Thursday evening.

Mr Hollande said a national tribute will be paid to the policeman and added that a ‘passerby was hit’ before the ‘assailant was neutralised’.

Conservative contender Francois Fillon, who has campaigned against ‘Islamic totalitarianism,’ said on France 2 television that he was canceling his planned campaign stops Friday.

Far-right candidate Le Pen, who campaigns against immigration and Islamic fundamentalism, took to Twitter to offer her sympathy for law enforcement officers ‘once again targeted.’

She canceled a minor campaign stop, but scheduled another.

Centrist candidate Emmanuel Macron offered his thoughts to the family of the dead officer.

Socialist Benoit Hamon tweeted his ‘full support’ to police against terrorism.

Le Pen and Francois Fillon announced that they have both cancelled their campaigning on Friday.

Paris gunman’s neighbour speaks out as police raid suspect’s home

French presidential election candidate Jean-Luc Melenchon (pictured) took part in the TV show just days before the election 

French presidential election candidate Jean-Luc Melenchon (pictured) took part in the TV show just days before the election

French presidential candidates, including National Front party leader Marine Le Pen (pictured), took part in a key debate

French presidential candidates, including National Front party leader Marine Le Pen (pictured), took part in a key debate

Mr Brandet said ‘all lines of investigation were being pursued’, while intelligence sources said the dead assailant was a known radical on a so-called S-file, for ‘State-security’.

This means he would have been under surveillance, because he was a known risk to the country.

An eyewitness, called Chelloug, said: ‘It was a terrorist. He came out with a Kalashnikov and started shooting, but he could’ve shot us on the pavement and killed more people with a spray of shots.

‘But he targeted the policemen and fortunately there were the policemen who killed him.’

Another witness said: ‘I saw someone shoot at the police officers. They returned fire, they killed him, he fell on the floor. And then the emergency services came.

‘It took place by Zara and there was a CRS (Republican Security Companies) van parked up and the man shot the police officers. He took out a weapon and shot them.

‘I think the police officer was killed on the spot and his colleagues fired back and killed the individual.’

The attack comes just three days before the first round of balloting in France’s tense presidential election.

A witness, identified only as Ines, told BFM that she heard a shooting, saw a man’s body on the ground and the area was quickly evacuated by police.

It comes just two days after police arrested two men in southern Marseille with weapons and explosives who were suspected of preparing an attack to disrupt the first-round of the presidential election on Sunday.

France is in a state of emergency and at its highest possible level of alert since a string of terror attacks that began in 2015, which have killed over 230 people.

Thousands of troops and armed police have been deployed to guard tourist hotspots such as the Champs Elysees or other potential targets like government buildings and religious sites.

Police officers quickly secured the area - which is popular with tourists and Parisians - after the attack and the road was on lockdown by 9pm 

Police officers quickly secured the area – which is popular with tourists and Parisians – after the attack and the road was on lockdown by 9pm

Police search the car reportedly used in Paris attack

Police officers took positions near the Champs Elysees avenue in Paris after the gunman - who was known to the security services - launched the attack 

Police officers took positions near the Champs Elysees avenue in Paris after the gunman – who was known to the security services – launched the attack

An armed soldier spoke to a man a told him to leave the area following the fatal shooting close to the Arc de Triomphe (pictured) 

An armed soldier spoke to a man a told him to leave the area following the fatal shooting close to the Arc de Triomphe (pictured)

French soldiers secure the Champs Elysees Avenue after a police officer was killed when a gunman opened fire in Paris

French soldiers secure the Champs Elysees Avenue after a police officer was killed when a gunman opened fire in Paris

French police officers searched the area after some of their colleagues were shot in the heart of Paris on Thursday evening

French police officers searched the area after some of their colleagues were shot in the heart of Paris on Thursday evening

French President Francois Hollande (pictured) said the attack was 'terrorist related' and scheduled an emergency meeting following the shootings

French President Francois Hollande (pictured) said the attack was ‘terrorist related’ and scheduled an emergency meeting following the shootings

‘Stay back, stay back!’ Police warn after shooting in Paris

LE PEN ACCUSED OF ‘EXPLOITING’ ATTACK FOR VOTES

By Thomas Burrows for MailOnline 

French Prime Minister Bernard Cazeneuve has accused far-right candidate Marine Le Pen of ‘exploiting’ the Champs-Elysees terror attack to win votes ahead of Sunday’s presidential election.

In the wake of the shooting Le Pen called for foreign terror suspects to be expelled immediately and claimed France needed a ‘presidency which acts and protects us.’

Responding to that, Cazeneuve, a Socialist, said Le Pen’s National Front (FN) ‘after each attack, seeks to exploit it and use it for purely political means.’

Experts believe the shooting last night could boost Le Pen’s chances of getting elected just days before France goes to the polls.

Le Pen today called for foreign terror suspects to be kicked out the country despite the fact the ISIS gunman was French

Le Pen today called for foreign terror suspects to be kicked out the country despite the fact the ISIS gunman was French

Voters could flock to far-right candidate Marine Le Pen following the latest terror attack

Voters could flock to far-right candidate Marine Le Pen following the latest terror attack

In last night’s attack a police officer was killed and two more were injured after a gunman opened fire close to the Champs-Elysees.

Le Pen today called for foreign terror suspects to be kicked out the country despite the fact the ISIS gunman was French. The 39-year-old had used the war name ‘Abu Yousuf the Belgian’.

Officials confirmed the homegrown fanatic was a French national despite his nickname.

A manhunt is underway for the second suspect who travelled by train to France from Belgium.

The Champs-Elysees terror attack could boost far-right candidate Marine Le Pen's chances of getting elected, experts believe

The Champs-Elysees terror attack could boost far-right candidate Marine Le Pen’s chances of getting elected, experts believe

The shooting took place just four days before the French election and experts believe it could bolster Le Pen’s chances of being elected.

Le Pen has made immigration and security the core part of her campaign. She has pledged to tighten French borders controls and build more jails, and claimed authorities were not doing enough to protect citizens from terror attacks.

More than half of police officers in France had already said they were voting for Le Pen because of her strong anti-terror stance, according to an IFOP poll.

Experts believe it could increase her chances of winning Sunday’s election.

Fredrik Erixon, director at the European Centre for International Political Economy, told CNBC: ‘[It could lead to] a greater performance of Marine Le Pen than otherwise would have been the case.

‘It’s difficult to see how this attack will not play into the hands of political forces that want this campaign to be focused only on issues around migration and terrorism.’

Vishnu Varathan, senior economist at Mizuho Bank, added: ‘The Paris gunman attack may well swing support in her favor; and this may not be picked up by the polls in a timely manner.’

Armed police officers were quick on the scene and closed the world famous avenue following the incident which shocked the city

Armed police officers were quick on the scene and closed the world famous avenue following the incident which shocked the city

The world famous was shut at around 9pm and it is believed police are still searching for a second suspect in relation to the attack 

The world famous was shut at around 9pm and it is believed police are still searching for a second suspect in relation to the attack

Police officers blocked the access of a street near the Champs Elysees in Paris after the fatal shooting on Thursday, April 20

Police officers blocked the access of a street near the Champs Elysees in Paris after the fatal shooting on Thursday, April 20

Officers were wearing vests and helmets as they patrolled the area close to where the fatal shooting took. A 39-year-old man is believed to be responsible for the shooting 

Officers were wearing vests and helmets as they patrolled the area close to where the fatal shooting took. A 39-year-old man is believed to be responsible for the shooting

The world famous street was put on lockdown by 9pm and officers guarded the area in central Paris (pictured, the Eiffel Tower in the background) 

The world famous street was put on lockdown by 9pm and officers guarded the area in central Paris (pictured, the Eiffel Tower in the background)

A policeman attended the scene and was armed with a gun following the incident. Police have reportedly issued a warrant for a second attacker

A policeman attended the scene and was armed with a gun following the incident. Police have reportedly issued a warrant for a second attacker

Up until now, polls showed voters more concerned about unemployment and their spending power than terrorism or security, though analysts warned this would change in the event of further bloodshed.

For weeks, centrist former banker Le Pen has been out in front but opinion polls now show there is a chance that any of the four leading candidates could reach the second-round runoff on May 7.

Scandal-plagued conservative Fillon and far-left firebrand Jean-Luc Melenchon have closed the gap substantially in the last two weeks.

A COUNTRY UNDER SIEGE: TIMELINE OF FRANCE TERROR

By Rory Tingle for MailOnline 

March, 18, 2017 – Convicted criminal with links to radical Islam shouted ‘I am here to die for Allah, there will be deaths’ seconds before he was shot dead during an attack at Orly airport. The 39-year-old, named locally as career criminal Ziyed Ben Belgacem, was killed after wrestling a soldier’s gun from her and fleeing into a McDonald’s. He sent a text message to his brother and father stating ‘I shot the police’, shortly before he was killed.

February 3, 2017 – A man is shot five times outside the Louvre museum in the heart of Paris after attempting to storm the historic art gallery.

July 14, 2016 – Amid Bastille Day celebrations in the Riviera city of Nice, a large truck is driven into a festive crowd. Some 86 people from a wide variety of countries are killed. The driver is shot dead. Islamic State extremists claim responsibility for the attack. The state of emergency in France is extended and extra protection, including robust barriers to prevent similar attacks, is put in place at major sites in France.

June 13, 2016 – Two French police officers are murdered in their home in front of their 3-year-old son. Islamic State claims responsibility for the slaying, which was carried out by a jihadist with a prior terrorist conviction. He is killed by police on the scene.

Nov. 13, 2015 – Islamic State militants kill 130 people in France’s worst atrocity since World War II. A series of suicide bomb and shooting attacks are launched on crowded sites in central Paris, as well as the northern suburb of Saint-Denis. Most of those killed are in a crowded theater where hostages are taken. Islamic State extremists claim responsibility and say it was in retaliation for French participation in airstrikes on the militant group’s positions in Syria and Iraq. It leads to the declaration of a state of emergency in France. Police powers are expanded.

Jan. 7, 2015 – Two brothers kill 11 people inside the Paris building where the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo is headquartered in what Islamic State extremists claim is retaliation for the publication of cartoons about the Prophet Muhammad. More are killed subsequently in attacks on a kosher market in eastern Paris and on police. There are 17 victims in all, including two police officers. The attackers are killed.

The UK Foreign Office said: ‘The British Embassy is in contact with local authorities and urgently seeking further information following reports of a shooting incident on the Champs-Elysees in Paris.

‘You should remain vigilant and follow the advice of the local security authorities and/or your tour operator.

‘If you’re in the area and it is safe to do so, contact your friends and family to tell them you are safe.’

 were photographed standing on top of a vehicle on the Champs Elysees following an incident which left one officer dead

French police officers reacted after the shooting which left one officer dead and two more seriously injured in Paris 

French police officers reacted after the shooting which left one officer dead and two more seriously injured in Paris

French soldiers were armed with guns (pictured) and stood guard at the Arc de Triomphe near the Champs Elysees in Paris

French soldiers were armed with guns (pictured) and stood guard at the Arc de Triomphe near the Champs Elysees in Paris

Heavily armed officers had flooded the area following the gunshots which were heard in a busy part of the French capital 

Heavily armed officers had flooded the area following the gunshots which were heard in a busy part of the French capital

Reports have suggested that two police officers have been killed on the Champs Elysees in central Paris (pictured) this evening

Reports have suggested that two police officers have been killed on the Champs Elysees in central Paris (pictured) this evening

It was originally believed the other officer was seriously wounded while the attacker was killed on the world famous avenue (pictured)

It was originally believed the other officer was seriously wounded while the attacker was killed on the world famous avenue (pictured)

The incident last night comes as France remains in a state of emergency following the Paris attacks in 2015 and the Bastille Day killings in Nice in 2016.

The shooting comes just hours after one of the busiest roads in Paris was closed off by police as officers dealt with a ‘suspicious package’.

Reports suggested that items were discovered by officers as Rue de Rivoli remained shut. Stunned witnesses described seeing a large police presence on the two-mile-long road.

Rue de Rivoli is a busy commercial street just north of the River Seine which is home to some of the most fashionable shops in the world.

CHAMPS-ELYSEES: THE MOST BEAUTIFUL AVENUE IN THE WORLD

By Thomas Burrows for MailOnline 

The Champs-Elysees – the scene of Thursday night’s terror attack – is the beating historic heart of Paris.

It has been described as the ‘most beautiful avenue’ in the world and is visited by millions of tourists every year.

Tens of thousands of people daily throng the tree-lined 1.2 mile avenue that is home to luxury stores and chain stores, cafes, cinemas and high-end offices.

A tourist draw as famed as the Eiffel Tower just across the River Seine, the avenue, stretching from the Arc de Triomphe down to Concorde Square, was first laid out in 1670.

Over the decades people have gathered there to mark momentous moments in French history.

During the French Revolution in 1789 an angry mob set off from the avenue to march on Versailles, Louis XVI’s opulent retreat.

It was also the site chosen by General Charles de Gaulle to celebrate the August 25, 1944, liberation of Paris from the Germans during World War Two.

More recently, hundreds of thousands congregated along the avenue to celebrate France’s 1998 World Cup victory (sealed with a 3-0 win over Brazil) on home soil.

The Champs Elysees is famously the finish line for the world’s toughest cycling race, the Tour de France.

Thursday was not the first time violence has been visited on the avenue.

In 1986, it witnessed two attacks – the first, on February 3, seeing one death and eight injured at the Claridge shopping arcade.

A second attack on March 20 at the Point Show arcade killed two and injured 29. Both attacks were linked to Middle East terrorism.

On Bastille Day in 2002, president Jacques Chirac survived an assassination attempt by a right-wing extremist who fired off one shot from a rifle hidden in a guitar case before bystanders wrestled him to the ground.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4429938/Paris-terror-attack-video-shows-police-shoot-gunman.html#ixzz4evbT4kjq

Story 2: Will Marine Le Pen Win In The First Round of French Presidential Election? First Round –Yes — — Making France Great Again —  Second Round –Marine Le Pen May Be First Woman President or Emmanuel Marcon The Youngest President — Videos

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“Marine Le Pen will be the next French President” – Christopher Dickey

Dear French People | French Presidential Election 2017

Who will be France’s next leader? | DW English

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French election 2017: Who’s who – BBC News

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RT – Why Marine Le Pen is The Only Way to Save Europe #Frexit #EndEU

Le Pen destroys Merkel

Marine Le Pen will not put up with any nonsense from BBC reporter

Marine Le Pen gets poll boost after Paris attack as Donald Trump says her chances of victory have improved

Donald Trump Marine Le Pen

Donald Trump has said the Paris terrorist attack would boost Marine Le Pen’s presidential chances after a last-minute poll gave her a modest increase in support.

The US president said the shooting would “probably help” Ms Le Pen in Sunday’s election, because she is “strongest on borders, and she’s the strongest on what’s been going on in France.”

“Whoever is the toughest on radical Islamic terrorism, and whoever is the toughest at the borders, will do well in the election,” he said.

Marine Le Pen at a campaign rally in Marseille
Marine Le Pen at a campaign rally in Marseille CREDIT: EPA

US presidents typically avoid weighing in on specific candidates running in overseas election. But Mr Trump suggested his opinion was no different from an average observer, saying: “Everybody is making predictions on who is going to win. I’m no different than you.”

Cancelling visits and meetings on Friday, candidates traded blows across the airwaves as it emerged that the Isil-backed gunman had been kept in custody just 24 hours in February despite attempts to procure weapons to murder police.

Xavier Jugelé, 37, a policeman who had been deployed in the 2015 Bataclan attack, was killed in the shooting.

This undated image provided on Friday, April 21, 2017, by FLAG, an association of LGBT police officers, shows French police officer Xavier Jugele
This undated image provided on Friday, April 21, 2017, by FLAG, an association of LGBT police officers, shows French police officer Xavier Jugele CREDIT: FLAG VIA AP

Ms Le Pen, the far-Right candidate, blasted the mainstream “naive” Left and Right for failing to get tough on Islamism, calling for France to instantly reinstate border checks and expel foreigners who are on the watch lists of intelligence services.

François Fillon, the mainstream conservative candidate, pledged an “iron fist” in the fight against “Islamist totalitarianism” – his priority if elected. “We are at war, it’s either us or them,” said the conservative, whose campaign has been weighed down by allegations he gave his British wife a “fake job”.

Meanwhile, Emmanuel Macron, the independent centrist, whom critics dismiss as a soft touch, hit back at claims shutting borders and filling French prisons would solve the problem, saying: “There’s no such thing as zero risk. Anyone who pretends (otherwise) is both irresponsible and deceitful.”

Sticking to his campaign agenda, far-Left candidate Jean-Luc Mélenchon told everyone to keep a “cool head” as he took part in a giant picnic.

A last-minute Odoxa poll taken after the attack suggested that Mr Macron was still on course to come first in Sunday’s first round, with Ms Le Pen just behind and through to the May 7 runoff.

However, Mr Fillon and Mr Mélenchon were still snapping at their heels.

The government on Friday announced elite units would join 50,000 police and troops to guard polling booths on Sunday in France’s first presidential election to be held in a state of emergency.

Matthieu Croissandeau, editor of Nouvel Obs magazine, said the French are now thicker-skinned after two years of bloodshed. “The French are unfortunately getting used to terror attacks on home soil and I don’t think this latest one created the shock and awe that might have made a significant difference,” he said.

Ms Le Pen has struggled to get the campaign to focus on her party’s pet issues of security, Islam and immigration. By contrast, she has been thrown on the defensive over her position to pull out of the eurozone.

After the attack, she called on the “notoriously feeble” socialist, President François Hollande, to instantly reinstate border checks and expel foreigners who are on the watch lists of intelligence services. She said: “We cannot afford to lose this war. But for the past 10 years, Left-wing and Right-wing governments have done everything they can for us to lose it.

“We need a presidency which acts and protects us,” she said from her Paris campaign headquarters. Elected French president, I would immediately, and with no hesitation, carry out the battle plan against Islamist terrorism and against judicial laxity.”

Marine Le Pen reacts to the terror attack in Paris
But Ms Le Pen was not the only one to issue stern pledges. Mr Fillon, who also talks tough on security, said the fight against “Islamist totalitarianism” should be the next president’s priority.

“It will require an unyielding determination and a cool head,” the former prime minister said. “We are at war, there is no alternative, it’s us or them.”

Mr Fillon, though knocked off his initial course towards victory by incessant allegations involving “fake job” payments to his British wife, promised to govern with “an iron fist”.

But the moderate Mr Macron, whom other candidates have portrayed as too inexperienced, took a different tack, warning against any attempts to use the shooting for political gain. “I think we must once and for all have a spirit of responsibility at this extreme time and not give in to panic and not allow it to be exploited, which some might try to do,” he told French radio.

Karim Cheurfi had been detained in February after reports that he had threatened police 
Karim Cheurfi had been detained in February after reports that he had threatened police 

Ms Le Pen’s solutions, he said, were woefully simplistic and “would not protect France”. And he added that to promise a “zero risk” scenario “is both irresponsible and deceitful”.

He also took a swipe at Mr Fillon, saying that intelligence had been depleted on his watch as the prime minister in Nicolas Sarkozy’s presidency.

Meanwhile, Bernard Cazeneuve, the Socialist prime minister, accused Le Pen of “shamelessly seeking to exploit fear and emotion”.

Footage shows moments after suspected terrorist is shot in Paris

00:24

Opinion polls have for months forecast that Le Pen would make it through to the run-off, but then lose in the final vote. Given the margin of error, none of the leading four candidates is a sure bet to reach the final. All hope to woo the third of French voters still undecided.

Previous terror attacks ahead of elections – such as the November 2015 attacks in Paris before regional ballots – did not effect those ballots.

Analyst Who Predicted Trump’s Ascendancy Bets on Le Pen Win

April 21, 2017, 3:41 AM CDT April 21, 2017, 5:42 AM CDT
  • Undecided voters bad news for Macron, says GaveKal’s founder
  • Recommends overweight sterling, large-caps; bond shorts
 How Will Markets React to Elections in France?

Don’t bank on a relief rally in the euro area anytime soon.

Markets are underpricing the prospect of Marine Le Pen emerging victorious in the French election as a sea of undecided voters throws into sharp relief pronounced apathy for center-leftist Emmanuel Macron — the front-runner by a whisker — and the backlash against the European Union project.

That’s the conclusion drawn by Charles Gave, founder of Hong-Kong based asset-allocation consultancy GaveKal Research, who predicted the triumph of Donald Trump in the U.S. election, and is now betting on a win for the anti-euro National Front candidate.

“Le Pen’s momentum is a slow-moving reaction against the men of Davos — as we have seen with Brexit and Trump — but markets don’t want to believe it,” he said by phone before the first round of the French poll on April 23.

Given the prospect of a Le Pen victory, Gave, who has been researching tactical asset allocation for more than 40 years, is advising clients to adopt long positioning in the pound as the U.K. would benefit from haven bids, and shorts on inflation-linked German bonds amid the risk of deflation in the euro area.

Safer Bet

The French economist also recommends bets on the likely outperformance of publicly-listed European multinationals, given their outsize share of income in foreign currencies. In effect, for investors obliged to invest liquidity in euros, Gave says a basket of high-quality stocks is a safer bet than euro-denominated government bonds.

“The market is talking about the nightmare scenario but it’s not pricing it in” said Mark Tinker, head of AXA Framlington Asia. Tinker’s a GaveKal client, and admirer of Gave’s tail-risk warnings over the past year. “After Sunday, we will have more information to make a considered risk-return wager to trade and hedge, but high-quality European companies and German bonds look like an attractive bet,” Tinker said.

Markets are pining for a scenario that would preserve the status quo: Macron, an independent candidate, defeating Le Pen in the second round on May 7. Thursday saw something of a French relief rally, with strong demand at a government debt auction, while France’s benchmark CAC 40 Index rose 1.5 percent aspolls showed Macron pulling marginally ahead of Le Pen.

The euro held steady on Friday and French bonds gained after a police officer was shot in Paris, which may influence the outcome of the first-round vote, according to some analysts. The CAC 40 dropped for the first time in three days, declining 0.5 percent.

The stars, however, appear to be aligning for the National Front candidate, said Gave. The fact two candidates for the runoff are likely to be determined by voters who have yet to make up their minds — as many as 40 percent — is a bad omen for the centrist contender, he said.

Momentum Curtailed

At least half of the far-left and half of the center-right won’t vote for Macron in the second round if he is pitted against Le Pen, believing he is“tainted” by his association with Francois Hollande’s government, and would rather abstain, Gave said.

Supporters of Francois Fillon, a center-right candidate whose momentum has been curtailed by graft charges, and a sizable chunk of Macron’s followers would probably rally to Le Pen’s cause if she were to face leftist Jean-Luc Mélenchon in the final round, according to Gave. He sees only Fillon with a chance to defeat Le Pen in the run-off.

If she emerges victorious, the euro would tank as markets would price in the prospect of its dissolution, rather than focus on Le Pen’s legislative hurdles to exit the single-currency bloc. French and Italian bonds will be “unquotable” given vanishing bids, and the European banking system would be beset by seismic turmoil, he said.

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-04-21/analyst-who-predicted-trump-ascendancy-is-betting-on-le-pen-win

French Elections: Marine Le Pen Backed By Quiet Army of Women

Image: Marine Le Pen campaign rally in Paris

Le Pen waves at the audience after speaking at a rally in Paris on April 17. Christophe Petit Tesson / EPA

COGOLIN, France — Muslims preoccupy Jennifer Troin.

“I’m worried about my nieces having to wear the veil,” said the soft-spoken 29-year-old.

This fear has helped propel the young mother to the far-right of the political spectrum ahead of key presidential elections Sunday — and into the arms of the hard-line National Front party.

Troin sells children’s clothes at a store in Cogolin, a town of 11,000 a few miles from the jet-set resorts of the French Riviera. In 2014, Cogolin became one of a handful of communities nationwide to elect mayors from the National Front, which is also known by the acronym FN.

Image: Jennifer Troin, 29, is a sales assistant in a children's clothes store in Cogolin on April 13, 2017

Jennifer Troin, 29, is a sales assistant in a children’s clothes store in Cogolin, France on April 13, 2017.Saphora Smith / for NBC News

Troin told NBC News that it wasn’t just the FN’s stance on Islam and immigration that attracted her, but also the party’s populist take on the economy.

But most of all, it was the party’s charismatic leader, Marine Le Pen, who captured Troin’s loyalty.

“She fights for women’s rights against Islam,” she said. “I vote because of Marine.”

Troin is part of a quiet army of female National Front supporters, who could well tip the balance of the election and give the presidency to the hard-right.

An FN victory would rewrite the continent’s political playbook, given the party’s pledge to take France out of the European Union. Were it to win, it would not have been an easy ride for a movement that peaked in 2002 when founder Jean Mari Le Pen — Marine Le Pen’s father — reached the second and final round of the presidential election.

French voters flocked to the polls in the runoff to ensure Le Pen did not win, instead electing former President Jacques Chirac with a resounding 78 percent of the vote. Most pollsters expect a similar outcome in May’s second-round vote, predicting moderate voters to rally once again to shut out the FN.

But few doubt that the party’s anti-immigrant and anti-establishment platform is resonating.

The Front’s anti-Islamic message is especially potent in France, whose 4.7 million Muslims make up around 7.5 percent of the population. Islamist militant attacks have killed more than 230 people over two years and plunged the country into a long-term state of emergency.

Play
Marine Le Pen: Mass Immigration Is a Tragedy for France 1:00

This anxiety deepened on the eve of the election after a gunman ambushed three Parisian police officers on the Champs-Elysees late Thursday, killing one and wounding two others. ISIS claimed responsibility for the shooting and French President Francois Hollande said it was likely a terrorist attack.

Meanwhile, the FN’s influence has spread from its heartlands along the Mediterranean coast and in the rust-belt north, into rural “forgotten” France.

‘Marine is different’

Polling institute Elabe recently predicted that 22 percent of women would vote for the National Front in the first round Sunday — almost 5 percent more than in 2012.

With just days to go, polls show the race is tightening. Centrist Emmanuel Macron is edging his way ahead on 24 percent and Le Pen is a fraction behind on 22.5 percent, according to Bloomberg polling.

Just below them, hard-left candidate Jean-Luc Melenchon has enjoyed a late surge and scandal-hit conservative Francois Fillon has hung in there despite a slew of allegations that he paid thousands of euros to his British-born wife for assistance she allegedly did not provide. A third of voters remain undecided.

Image: French far-right Front National leader Marine Le Pen is kissed by her father Jean-Marie Le Pen
Front National leader Marine Le Pen is kissed by her father Jean-Marie Le Pen after being re-elected as president of the party on Nov. 30, 2014.Laurent Cipriani / AP, file

The FN’s ability to motivate French women could be decisive. Traditionally, it has struggled to attract female voters amid accusations of sexism, racism and anti-Semitism.

In its early years under Jean-Marie Le Pen, the party advocated a traditional image of women, opposed abortion rights and developed a reputation for a macho, strongman culture.

This bias showed. The FN was far less successful at attracting women than men. During Jean-Marie Le Pen’ time in charge, around 12 percent of French women supported the party compared with 17 percent of men, according toSciences Po Cevipof, a political institute based in Paris.

Marine Le Pen changed this.

Since taking over in 2011, she has softened the party’s image, steering the FN away from some of its overtly anti-Semitic and racist rhetoric in an effort to broaden its electoral base. In 2015, she expelled her father after he repeated his view that the Holocaust was a “detail of history.”

In the run up to the this year’s election, Le Pen dropped her last name from campaign handouts, referring to herself simply as Marine.

More recently, she specifically targeted the female vote. She has published special pamphlets and a campaign video that describes her as a woman and a mother and shows her flicking through family photo albums. She has also changed the party’s logo from a flame to a blue rose.

‘Hitler-like figure’

For Troin, the children’s clothes seller in Cogolin, her interest in the National Front has grown with Marine Le Pen’s rise. While immigration, job security and her fear of Islam remained underlying motivators, she was also attracted to the party’s re-brand.

For her, the former leader “was too outspoken, too offensive. He was a Hitler-like figure,” Troin said. “But Marine is different.”

In the last presidential election in 2012 — the first with Marine Le Pen as leader — the party’s gender gap closed to 1.5 percentage points. It’s what Cevipof professor and FN expert Nonna Mayer called the “Marine Le Pen effect.”

The party has long advocated clamping down on immigration and securing borders, and throughout her campaign Le Pen has consistently made the country’s Muslims a target.

Image: Marine Le Pen supporters cheer
Marine Le Pen supporters cheer at a rally in the southern city of Marseille on Wednesday.Jeff J Mitchell / Getty Images

“In France we respect women, we don’t beat them, we don’t ask them to hide themselves behind a veil as if they were impure. We drink wine when we want, we can criticize religion and speak freely,” she said during a rally Monday night, comments clearly aimed at Muslims.

During the rally, Le Pen pledged to suspend all visas from non-European migrants hoping to join their families in France — often code for immigrants from mainly Muslim North Africa and the Middle East.

After Thursday night’s attack in Paris, she again singled out what she sees as the threat posed by Islam.

“It is a war in which there can be no retreat because all our population and all our territory are exposed,” she said.

And for all her rebranding, Marine Le Pen can also fall back into the older, harsher style of messaging.

Cathy, a 50-year-old dental assistant who was shopping for groceries in Cogolin, said she was all set to vote FN but was taken aback by Le Pen’s recent comments that the French were not to blame for the anti-Jewish policies of the government during the Nazi occupation in World War II.

Referring to the “Vel d’Hiv” roundup of Jews by French police in July 1942, in which nearly 13,000 were detained and deported to concentration camps, Le Pen told French radio earlier this month she thought France was “not responsible.”

Cathy, who didn’t want to be identified by her second name, said Le Pen’s remarks had made her pause.

“Perhaps she has the same ideas as her father but they’re just hidden behind good PR skills,” she said. “So I’m still thinking.”

Others needed no time to reflect.

“The FN is xenophobic, racist and anti-feminist,” said retired teacher Mireille Escarrat. “For me it feels like the 1930s. We’re going backwards.”

‘I don’t talk politics here’

Many of the National Front supporters interviewed by NBC News were reluctant to admit it, and others were concerned about being named.

“I don’t talk politics here,” a local woman said, having led the way into a backroom of her business in the town. The 60-year-old asked not to be named or for her business to be described because she felt that admitting her loyalty to the FN would damage her reputation.

“I wouldn’t mind if it weren’t for my business,” she added, out of earshot of her customers. “But this is somewhere everyone can come whether you vote communist or for the right.”

Even in this town — where 53 percent of the population voted FN in 2014 — voting Le Pen still carries a social stigma. There’s no telling just how many closet female FN voters there may be.

The party’s marriage of socialist economic policy and right-wing identity politics is working in the town, which sits in the FN’s traditional southern heartland. With the decline of traditional industries and unemployment at 18 percent, locals worry Cogolin is being reduced to a seasonal economy dependent on rich resort communities.

Newly-converted women at the FN’s regional headquarters in neighboring Sainte-Maxime said Sunday’s election would be the first time they voted for the Front in a presidential race.

“We didn’t vote for Jean-Marie Le Pen because he scared us,” said Monique Guckert, 67, a retired shop assistant. “His ideas were too fascist, too racist. It was too much.”

Image: Mayor Marc Etienne Lansade sits at his desk
Cogolin’s mayor Marc Etienne Lansade sits at his desk.Saphora Smith / for NBC News

Even the FN mayor of Cogolin, Marc Etienne Lansade, admitted his mother would never have voted for Jean-Marie Le Pen.

“He drove her crazy,” he said. “Women understand Marine Le Pen, she’s divorced, she has three children, she works — she’s a modern woman,” he added, sitting in his second-floor office in the town hall.

Still, not all women appreciate Le Pen’s message. On Monday, a topless protester carrying flowers charged the candidate during a rally northern Paris.

Le Pen does not try to make out that she is a feminist. Of her 144 manifesto pledges, only one addresses women’s issues. In it, she promises to defend women’s rights by fighting against Islam, implementing a plan for equal pay and combating social and job insecurity.

“She’s a fake feminist,” said Camille Froidevaux-Metterie, a political scientist and expert on women in politics at the University of Reims.

Asked if a Le Pen win would be a victory for women, she said that though symbolically “it would not be nothing.” She said it would mean France is ready for a female president but would have elected one on a non-feminist agenda.

“It’s a sort of paradox,” she said.

http://www.nbcnews.com/news/world/french-elections-marine-le-pen-backed-quiet-army-women-n748136

French elections: New poll shows Macron’s lead over Le Pen is narrowing

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The Pronk Pops Show 877, April 20, 2017, Story 1: Ashes to Ashes Dust to Dust Bomb North Korea If You Must — Videos — Story 2: Obama’s Iran Nuclear Agreement Legacy Heading Towards The Wastebasket? No. Certification Granted and Sanctions Suspended — All Talk–No Action — Bad Appeasement Deal Stands — Videos– Story 3: Radical Islamic Terrorist Attack In Paris, France Target Police One Officer Killed and One Wounded and One Shooter Killed and One Escaped — Videos — Story 4 Republicans Return Repeal Replace Obamacare — Compromise Should Pass House by April 28, 2017 Videos —

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Story 1: Ashes to Ashes Dust to Dust Bomb North Korea If You Must — Videos —

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson says Iran could be the next North Korea

Tillerson Threatens Iran: ‘The Great Destabilizer’?

Trump Shies Away From Striking Down Obama Era Iran Deal: Why It Doesn’t Matter

What’s In The Iran Nuclear Deal?

Implementation of the JCPOA: Is It Working?

WASHINGTON — Secretary of State Rex W. Tillerson described a landmark Iran nuclear deal as a failure on Wednesday, only hours after the State Department said Tehran was complying with its terms. But the top United States diplomat stopped short of threatening to jettison the 2015 agreement that was brokered by world powers, or saying whether the Trump administration would punish Iran with new sanctions.

The whiplash left Republicans on Capitol Hill, who had universally excoriated the agreement to limit Iran’s nuclear program and voted against its implementation, uncertain of how to respond. Its architects, however, said they were cautiously optimistic that the deal would stay in place.

The nuclear deal “fails to achieve the objective of a non-nuclear Iran,” Mr. Tillerson said. “It only delays their goal of becoming a nuclear state.”

He said that Iran continued to threaten the United States and the rest of the world, and he announced that the Trump administration was reviewing ways to counter challenges posed by Tehran.

It was an attempt to clarify a State Department certification, issued shortly before a midnight deadline on Tuesday, that said Iran was complying with the nuclear agreement that also eased crippling international sanctions against the Islamic republic’s economy. During the 2016 campaign, President Trump denounced the agreement as “the worst deal ever,” and Vice President Pence promised to rip it up.

In a hastily called news conference at the State Department on Wednesday, Mr. Tillerson likened Iran to North Korea, whose nuclear weaponry and burgeoning missile technology is what the administration now believes is the gravest risk to world peace and security. Mr. Pence visited Seoul, South Korea, this week to declare that the United States was united with its allies to stem North Korea’s threat.

The Iran deal “represents the same failed approach to the past that brought us to the current imminent threat that we face from North Korea,” Mr. Tillerson told reporters. “The Trump administration has no intention of passing the buck to a future administration on Iran. The evidence is clear: Iran’s provocative actions threaten the United States, the region and the world.”

Once the National Security Council completes a review of the nuclear deal, Mr. Tillerson said, “we will meet the challenges Iran poses with clarity and conviction.”

Hours earlier, late on Tuesday night, Mr. Tillerson sent a terse letter to Speaker Paul D. Ryan pledging to evaluate whether earlier suspension of sanctions against Iran, as required under the terms of the nuclear agreement, “is vital to the national security interests of the United States.”

A man of few words, Mr. Tillerson has sometimes found that his cryptic remarks create more confusion than clarity among allies, friends and even adversaries. Earlier on Wednesday, Sean Spicer, the White House press secretary, offered little additional information about the Iran certification. He refused to say whether the Trump administration would add the Iran deal to a series of other stunning foreign policy reversals it has made by deciding to retain it instead of ripping it up or renegotiating the agreement as promised.

“I think part of the review, the interagency process, is to determine where Iran is in compliance with the deal and to make recommendations to the president on the path forward,” Mr. Spicer said.

The enigmatic remarks left top Republicans on Capitol Hill nonplused. Senator Tom Cotton, the Arkansas Republican who led congressional opposition to the Iran deal, said in a statement that the administration’s “certification is shaky, and it doesn’t mean that the intentions behind Iran’s nuclear program are benign.”

Senator Bob Corker, Republican of Tennessee and chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, said the Trump administration appeared to be preparing a tougher line against Iran.

“Secretary Tillerson made clear that regardless of Iran’s technical compliance with the nuclear deal, the administration is under no illusion about the continued threat from Tehran and is prepared to work closely with Congress to push back,” Mr. Corker said in a statement on Wednesday.

Tuesday’s certification extends sanctions relief for Iran in exchange for continued constraints on its nuclear program. American sanctions, as approved by Congress, were suspended instead of revoked; they can be reimposed with the stroke of a presidential pen.

The Trump administration has given itself 90 days to complete its review, but it will need to make a series of decisions in coming weeks about whether to continue its support of the deal, which was also brokered with Britain, China, France, Germany and Russia. Those governments, along with representatives of the United States and Iran, will meet next week in Vienna to review the pact’s progress.

Mr. Trump faces a mid-May deadline, as imposed by Congress, to decide whether to continue the suspension of sanctions.

Backing away from the agreement would spur enormous consternation across Europe and in Moscow.

In their first congratulatory phone calls to Mr. Trump after his electoral victory, both President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia and Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany emphasized the need to keep the Iran deal in place. And after her first meeting with Mr. Tillerson in February, Federica Mogherini, the European Union’s foreign minister, said the Trump administration pledged “to stick to the full strict implementation of the agreement in all its parts.”

Analysts and former government officials said it was unlikely the Trump administration would renounce the Iran agreement.

“I’m glad this deal has held up to this point, and I hope it continues to hold up,” said Wendy Sherman, a former under secretary of state who was deeply involved in negotiating terms of the deal during the Obama administration.

Robert Einhorn, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution who was involved in Iran policy under President Barack Obama, said it was “pretty much a foregone conclusion” that Mr. Trump would keep the nuclear agreement in place.

Still, the administration has sought since its first days in office to ratchet up pressure on Iran. In January, before he resigned, Michael T. Flynn, then the national security adviser, walked into the White House briefing room and declared that the administration was “officially putting Iran on notice” after it launched a ballistic missile.

The Trump administration has returned the United States to closer ties with its traditional Arab friends in the Middle East, including Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. Part of those ties means supporting those nations, which are overwhelmingly Sunni Muslim, in their intense rivalry with Iran, a Shiite power.

By contrast, by the end of his second term, Mr. Obama had begun to view those sectarian tensions with a jaundiced eye, believing the United States should not intervene in a millennium-old religious struggle.

Earlier on Wednesday, Mr. Tillerson attended a United States-Saudi Arabia chief executive summit meeting where he declared that he was “pleased to be here today to reaffirm the very strong partnership that exists between the United States and the kingdom of Saudi Arabia.”

Mark Dubowitz, chief executive of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, a group that sought to defeat the Iran deal, said the administration may still walk away from the agreement or renegotiate it. He contended that the administration “should not be bound by arms control agreements that are deeply flawed.”

And even Ms. Sherman shied away from predicting it will remain in place. “I’m taking this one day at a time,” she said.

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/04/19/world/middleeast/trump-administration-grudgingly-confirms-irans-compliance-with-nuclear-deal.html?_r=0

Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action
Iran Talks Vienna 14 July 2015 (19067069963).jpg

Officials announcing the agreement.
Created 14 July 2015
Ratified N/A (ratification not required)
Date effective
  • 18 October 2015 (Adoption)[1]
  • 16 January 2016 (Implementation)[2]
Location Vienna, Austria
Signatories Iran, P5+1, European Union
Purpose Nuclear non-proliferation

The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA; Persian: برنامه جامع اقدام مشترک‎, translit. barnāme jāme‘ eqdām moshtarak‎, acronym: برجامBARJAM),[3][4] known commonly as the Iran deal or Iran nuclear deal, is an international agreement on the nuclear program of Iran reached in Vienna on 14 July 2015 between Iran, the P5+1 (the five permanent members of the United Nations Security CouncilChina, France, Russia, United Kingdom, United States—plus Germany),[a] and the European Union.

Formal negotiations toward the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action on Iran’s nuclear program began with the adoption of the Joint Plan of Action, an interim agreement signed between Iran and the P5+1 countries in November 2013. For the next twenty months, Iran and the P5+1 countries engaged in negotiations, and in April 2015 agreed on an Iran nuclear deal framework for the final agreement and in July 2015, Iran and the P5+1 agreed on the plan.

Under the agreement, Iran agreed to eliminate its stockpile of medium-enriched uranium, cut its stockpile of low-enriched uranium by 98%, and reduce by about two-thirds the number of its gas centrifuges for 13 years. For the next 15 years, Iran will only enrich uranium up to 3.67%. Iran also agreed not to build any new heavy-water facilities for the same period of time. Uranium-enrichment activities will be limited to a single facility using first-generation centrifuges for 10 years. Other facilities will be converted to avoid proliferation risks. To monitor and verify Iran’s compliance with the agreement, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) will have regular access to all Iranian nuclear facilities. The agreement provides that in return for verifiably abiding by its commitments, Iran will receive relief from U.S., European Union, and United Nations Security Council nuclear-related economic sanctions.

Background

A nuclear weapon uses a fissile material to cause a nuclear chain reaction. The most commonly used materials have been uranium 235 (U-235) and plutonium 239 (P-239). Both uranium 233 (U-233) and reactor-grade plutonium have also been used.[7][8][9] The amount of uranium or plutonium needed depends on the sophistication of the design, with a simple design requiring approximately 15 kg of uranium or 6 kg of plutonium and a sophisticated design requiring as little as 9 kg of uranium or 2 kg of plutonium.[10] Plutonium is almost nonexistent in nature, and natural uranium is about 99.3% uranium 238 (U-238) and 0.7% U-235. Therefore, to make a weapon, either uranium must be enriched, or plutonium must be produced. Uranium enrichment is also frequently necessary fornuclear power. For this reason, uranium enrichment is a dual-use technology, a technology which “can be used both for civilian and for military purposes”.[11] Key strategies to prevent proliferation of nuclear arms include limiting the number of operating uranium enrichment plants and controlling the export of nuclear technology and fissile material.[9][11]

Iranian development of nuclear technology began in the 1970s, when the U.S. Atoms for Peace program began providing assistance to Iran, which was then led by the Shah.[12] Iran signed the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) in 1968 as a non-nuclear weapons state and ratified the NPT in 1970.[12]

In 1979, the Iranian Revolution took place, and Iran’s nuclear program, which had developed some baseline capacity, fell to disarray as “much of Iran’s nuclear talent fled the country in the wake of the Revolution.”[12] Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini was initially opposed to nuclear technology; and Iran engaged in a costly war with Iraq from 1980 to 1988.[12]

Starting in the later 1980s, Iran restarted its nuclear program, with assistance from Pakistan (which entered into a bilateral agreement with Iran in 1992), China (which did the same in 1990), and Russia (which did the same in 1992 and 1995), and from the A.Q. Khan network.[12] Iran “began pursuing an indigenous nuclear fuel cycle capability by developing a uranium mining infrastructure and experimenting with uranium conversion and enrichment.”[12] According to the nonpartisan Nuclear Threat Initiative, “U.S. intelligence agencies have long suspected Iran of using its civilian nuclear program as a cover for clandestine weapons development.”[12] Iran, in contrast, “has always insisted that its nuclear work is peaceful”.[13]

In August 2002, the Paris-based National Council of Resistance of Iran, an Iranian dissident group, publicly revealed the existence of two undeclared nuclear facilities, the Arak heavy-water production facility and the Natanz enrichment facility.[12][14] In February 2003, Iranian President Mohammad Khatami acknowledged the existence of the facilities and asserted that Iran had undertaken “small-scale enrichment experiments” to produce low-enriched uranium for nuclear power plants.[12] In late February, International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspectors visited Natanz.[14] In May 2003, Iran allowed IAEA inspectors to visit the Kalaye Electric Company, but refused to allow them to take samples, and an IAEA report the following month concluded that Iran had failed to meet its obligations under the previous agreement.[14]

In June 2003, Iran—faced with the prospect of being referred to the UN Security Council—entered into diplomatic negotiations with France, Germany, and the United Kingdom (the EU 3).[12][14] The United States refused to be involved in these negotiations.[14] In October 2003, the Tehran Declaration was reached between Iran and the EU 3; under this declaration Iran agreed to cooperate fully with the IAEA, sign the Additional Protocol, and temporarily suspend all uranium enrichment.[12][14] In September and October 2003, the IAEA conducted several facility inspections.[12] This was followed by the Paris Agreement in November 2004, in which Iran agreed to temporarily suspend enrichment and conversion activities, “including the manufacture, installation, testing, and operation of centrifuges, and committed to working with the EU-3 to find a mutually beneficial long-term diplomatic solution”.[12]

In August 2005, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, a hard-liner, was elected president of Iran. He accused Iranian negotiators who had negotiated the Paris Accords of treason.[14][15] Over the next two months, the EU 3 agreement fell apart as talks over the EU 3’s proposed Long Term Agreement broke down; the Iranian government “felt that the proposal was heavy on demands, light on incentives, did not incorporate Iran’s proposals, and violated the Paris Agreement”.[12][14] Iran notified the IAEA that it would resume uranium conversion at Esfahan.[12][14]

In February 2006, Iran ended its voluntary implementation of the Additional Protocol and resumed enrichment at Natanz, prompting the IAEA Board of Governors to refer Iran to the UN Security Council.[12][14] After the vote, Iran announced it would resume enrichment of uranium.[14] In April 2006, Ahmadinejad announced that Iran had nuclear technology, but stated that it was purely for power generation and not for producing weapons.[14] In June 2006, the EU 3 joined China, Russia, and the United States, to form the P5+1.[14] The following month, July 2006, the UN Security Council passed its first resolution demanding Iran stop uranium enrichment and processing.[14]Altogether, from 2006 to 2010, the UN Security Council subsequently adopted six resolutions concerning Iran’s nuclear program: 1696 (July 2006), 1737 (December 2006), 1747 (March 2007), 1803 (March 2008), 1835 (September 2008), and 1929 (June 2010).[16] The legal authority for the IAEA Board of Governors referral and the Security Council resolutions was derived from the IAEA Statute and the United Nations Charter.[16] The resolutions demanded that Iran cease enrichment activities and imposed sanctions on Iran, including bans on the transfer of nuclear and missile technology to the country and freezes on the assets of certain Iranian individuals and entities, in order to pressure the country.[12][14] However, in Resolution 1803 and elsewhere the Security Council also acknowledged Iran’s rights under Article IV of the NPT, which provides for “the inalienable right … to develop research, production and use of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes”.[16][b]

In July 2006, Iran opened the Arak heavy water production plant, which led to one of the Security Council resolutions.[12] In September 2009, U.S. President Barack Obama, revealed the existence of an underground enrichment facility in Fordow, near Qom saying, “Iran’s decision to build yet another nuclear facility without notifying the IAEA represents a direct challenge to the basic compact at the center of the non-proliferation regime.”[22] Israel threatened to take military action against Iran.[14]

In a February 2007 interview with the Financial Times, IAEA director general Mohamed ElBaradei said that military action against Iran “would be catastrophic, counterproductive” and called for negotiations between the international community and Iran over the Iranian nuclear program.[23] ElBaradei specifically proposed a “double, simultaneous suspension, a time out” as “a confidence-building measure”, under which the international sanctions would be suspended and Iran would suspend enrichment.[23] ElBaradei also said, “if I look at it from a weapons perspective there are much more important issues to me than the suspension of [enrichment],” naming his top priorities as preventing Iran from “go[ing] to industrial capacity until the issues are settled”; building confidence, with “full inspection” involving Iranian adoption of the Additional Protocol; and “at all costs” preventing Iran from “moving out of the [treaty-based non-proliferation] system”.[23]

A November 2007 U.S. National Intelligence Estimate assessed that Iran “halted its nuclear weapons program” in 2003; that estimate and subsequent U.S. Intelligence Community statements also assessed that the Iranian government at the time had was “keeping open the ‘option’ to develop nuclear weapons” in the future.[24] A July 2015 Congressional Research Service report said, “statements from the U.S. intelligence community indicate that Iran has the technological and industrial capacity to produce nuclear weapons at some point, but the U.S. government assesses that Tehran has not mastered all of the necessary technologies for building a nuclear weapon.”[24]

In March 2013, the United States began a series of secret bilateral talks with Iranian officials in Oman, led by William Joseph Burns and Jake Sullivan on the American side and Ali Asghar Khaji on the Iranian side.[14][25] In June 2013, Hassan Rouhani was elected president of Iran.[14][26] Rouhani has been described as “more moderate, pragmatic and willing to negotiate than Ahmadinejad”. However, in a 2006 nuclear negotiation with European powers, Rouhani said that Iran had used the negotiations to dupe the Europeans, saying that during the negotiations, Iran managed to master the conversion of uranium yellowcake at Isfahan. The conversion of yellowcake is an important step in the nuclear fuel process.[27] In August 2013, three days after his inauguration, Rouhani called for a resumption of serious negotiations with the P5+1 on the Iranian nuclear program.[28] In September 2013, Obama and Rouhani had a telephone conversation, the first high-level contact between U.S. and Iranian leaders since 1979, and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry had a meeting with Iranian foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, signaling that the two countries had an opening to cooperation.[14][28]

After several rounds of negotiations, on 24 November 2013, the Joint Plan of Action, an interim agreement on the Iranian nuclear program, was signed between Iran and the P5+1 countries in Geneva, Switzerland. It consisted of a short-term freeze of portions of Iran’s nuclear program in exchange for decreased economic sanctions on Iran, as the countries work towards a long-term agreement.[29] The IAEA began “more intrusive and frequent inspections” under this interim agreement.[28] The agreement was formally activated on 20 January 2014.[30] On that day, the IAEA issued a report stating that Iran was adhering to the terms of the interim agreement, including stopping enrichment of uranium to 20 percent, beginning the dilution process (to reduce half of the stockpile of 20 percent enriched uranium to 3.5 percent), and halting work on the Arak heavy-water reactor.[28][30]

A major focus on the negotiations was limitations on Iran’s key nuclear facilities: the ArakIR-40heavy water reactor and production plant (which was under construction, but never became operational, as Iran agreed as part of the November 2013 Joint Plan of Action (interim agreement) not to commission or fuel the reactor); the Bushehr Nuclear Power Plant; the Gachin uranium mine; the Fordow Fuel Enrichment Plant; the Isfahan uranium-conversion plant; the Natanz uranium enrichment plant; and the Parchin military research and development complex.[31]

Negotiations

The agreement between the P5+1+EU and Iran on the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) is the culmination of 20 months of “arduous” negotiations.[32][33]

The agreement followed the Joint Plan of Action (JPA), an interim agreement between the P5+1 powers and Iran that was agreed to on 24 November 2013 at Geneva. The Geneva agreement was an interim deal,[34] in which Iran agreed to roll back parts of its nuclear program in exchange for relief from some sanctions. This went into effect on 20 January 2014.[35] The parties agreed to extend their talks with a first extension deadline on 24 November 2014[36] and a second extension deadline set to 1 July 2015.[37]

An Iran nuclear deal framework was reached on 2 April 2015. Under this framework Iran agreed tentatively to accept restrictions on its nuclear program, all of which would last for at least a decade and some longer, and to submit to an increased intensity of international inspections under a framework deal. These details were to be negotiated by the end of June 2015. The negotiations toward a Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action were extended several times until the final agreement, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, was finally reached on 14 July 2015.[38][39] The JCPOA is based on the framework agreement from three months earlier.

Subsequently the negotiations between Iran and the P5+1 continued. In April 2014, a framework deal was reached at Lausanne. Intense marathon negotiations then continued, with the last session in Vienna at the Palais Coburg lasting for seventeen days.[40] At several points, negotiations appeared to be at risk of breaking down, but negotiators managed to come to agreement.[40] As the negotiators neared a deal, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry directly asked Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif to confirm that he was “authorized to actually make a deal, not just by the [Iranian] president, but by the supreme leader?”[40] Zarif gave assurances that he was.[40]

Ultimately, on 14 July 2015, all parties agreed to a landmark comprehensive nuclear agreement.[41] At the time of the announcement, shortly before 11:00 GMT, the agreement was released to the public.[42]

The final agreement’s complexity shows the impact of a public letter written by a bipartisan group of 19 U.S. diplomats, experts, and others in June 2015, written when negotiations were still going on.[43][44] That letter outlined concerns about the several provisions in the then-unfinished agreement and called for a number of improvements to strengthen the prospective agreement and win their support for it.[43] After the final agreement was reached, one of the signatories, Robert J. Einhorn, a former U.S. Department of State official now at the Brookings Institution, said of the agreement: “Analysts will be pleasantly surprised. The more things are agreed to, the less opportunity there is for implementation difficulties later on.”[43]

The final agreement is based upon (and buttresses) “the rules-based nonproliferation regime created by the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and including especially the IAEA safeguards system.”[45]

Souvenir signatures of lead negotiators on the cover page of the JCPOA document. The Persian handwriting on top left side is a homage by Javad Zarif to his counterparts’ efforts in the negotiations: “[I am] Sincere to Mr. Abbas [Araghchi] and Mr. Majid [Takht-Ravanchi].”[46]

Signatories

Summary of provisions

The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) runs to 109 pages, including five annexes.[33] Major provisions of the final accord include the following:[33][47][48]

Nuclear

JCPOA summary of enrichment-related provisions
(sources: The Economist[49]Belfer Center[50]:29)
Capability Before JCPOA After JCPOA
(for 10-year period)
After 15 years
First-generation
centrifuges installed
19,138 capped at 6,104 Unconstrained
Advanced centrifuges installed 1,008 0 Unconstrained
Centrifuge R&D Unconstrained Constrained Unconstrained
Stockpile of
low-enriched uranium
7,154 kg 300 kg Unconstrained
Stockpile of
medium-enriched uranium
196 kg 0 kg Unconstrained
  • Iran’s current stockpile of low-enriched uranium will be reduced by 98 percent, from 10,000 kg to 300 kg. This reduction will be maintained for fifteen years.[33][51][52][53] For the same fifteen-year period, Iran will be limited to enriching uranium to 3.67%, a percentage sufficient for civilian nuclear power and research, but not for building a nuclear weapon.[51][52][54]However, the number of centrifuges is sufficient for a nuclear weapon, but not for nuclear power.[55] This is a “major decline” in Iran’s previous nuclear activity; prior to watering down its stockpile pursuant to the Joint Plan of Action interim agreement, Iran had enriched uranium to near 20% (medium-enriched uranium).[51][52][53] These enriched uranium in excess of 300 kg of up to 3.67% will be down blended to natural uranium level or be sold in return for natural uranium, and the uranium enriched to between 5% and 20% will be fabricated into fuel plates for the Tehran Research Reactor or sold or diluted to an enrichment level of 3.67%. The implementation of the commercial contracts will be facilitated by P5+1. After fifteen years, all physical limits on enrichment will be removed, including limits on the type and number of centrifuges, Iran’s stockpile of enriched uranium, and where Iran may have enrichment facilities. According to Belfer, at this point Iran could “expand its nuclear program to create more practical overt and covert nuclear weapons options”.[50][56]
  • For ten years, Iran will place over two-thirds of its centrifuges in storage, from its current stockpile of 19,000 centrifuges (of which 10,000 were operational) to no more than 6,104 operational centrifuges, with only 5,060 allowed to enrich uranium,[33][51] with the enrichment capacity being limited to the Natanz plant. The centrifuges there must be IR-1 centrifuges, the first-generation centrifuge type which is Iran’s oldest and least efficient; Iran will give up its advanced IR-2M centrifuges in this period.[31][52][53] The non-operating centrifuges will be stored in Natanz and monitored by IAEA, but may be used to replace failed centrifuges.[57][58] Iran will not build any new uranium-enrichment facilities for fifteen years.[51]
  • Iran may continue research and development work on enrichment, but that work will take place only at the Natanz facility and include certain limitations for the first eight years.[31] This is intended to keep the country to a breakout time of one year.[51]
  • Iran, with cooperation from the “Working Group” (the P5+1 and possibly other countries), will modernise and rebuild the Arak heavy water research reactor based on an agreed design to support its peaceful nuclear research and production needs and purposes, but in such a way to minimise the production of plutonium and not to produce weapons-grade plutonium. The power of the redesigned reactor will not exceed 20 MWth. The P5+1 parties will support and facilitate the timely and safe construction of the Arak complex.[59] All spent fuel will be sent out of the country.[31] All excess heavy water which is beyond Iran’s needs for the redesigned reactor will be made available for export to the international market based on international prices. In exchange, Iran received 130 tons of uranium in 2015 and in late 2016 was approved to receive 130 tons in 2017.[60] For 15 years, Iran will not engage in, or research on, spent fuel reprocessing.[61] Iran will also not build any additional heavy-water reactors or accumulate heavy water for fifteen years.[31]
  • Iran’s Fordow facility will stop enriching uranium and researching uranium enrichment for at least fifteen years; the facility will be converted into a nuclear physics and technology center. For 15 years, Fordow will maintain no more than 1,044 IR-1 centrifuges in six cascades in one wing of Fordow. “Two of those six cascades will spin without uranium and will be transitioned, including through appropriate infrastructure modification,” for stable radioisotope production for medical, agricultural, industrial, and scientific use. “The other four cascades with all associated infrastructure will remain idle.” Iran will not be permitted to have any fissile material in Fordow.[31][51][53]
  • Iran will implement an Additional Protocol agreement which will continue in perpetuity for as long as Iran remains a party to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). The signing of the Additional Protocol represents a continuation of the monitoring and verification provisions “long after the comprehensive agreement between the P5+1 and Iran is implemented”.[62]
  • A comprehensive inspections regime will be implemented in order to monitor and confirm that Iran is complying with its obligations and is not diverting any fissile material.[51][52][c]
    • The IAEA will have multilayered[73] oversight “over Iran’s entire nuclear supply chain, from uranium mills to its procurement of nuclear-related technologies“.[74] For declared nuclear sites such as Fordow and Natanz, the IAEA will have “round-the-clock access” to nuclear facilities and will be entitled to maintain continuous monitoring (including via surveillance equipment) at such sites.[74][75] The agreement authorizes the IAEA to make use of sophisticated monitoring technology, such as fiber-optic seals on equipment that can electronically send information to the IAEA; infrared satellite imagery to detect covert sites, “environmental sensors that can detect minute signs of nuclear particles”; tamper-resistant, radiation-resistant cameras.[43][76] Other tools include computerized accounting programs to gather information and detect anomalies, and big data sets on Iranian imports, to monitor dual-use items.[73]
    • The number of IAEA inspectors assigned to Iran will triple, from 50 to 150 inspectors.[43]
    • If IAEA inspectors have concerns that Iran is developing nuclear capabilities at any non-declared sites, they may request access “to verify the absence of undeclared nuclear materials and activities or activities inconsistent with” the agreement, informing Iran of the basis for their concerns.[75] The inspectors would only come from countries with which Iran has diplomatic relations.[77] Iran may admit the inspectors to such site or propose alternatives to inspection that might satisfy the IAEA’s concerns.[75] If such an agreement cannot be reached, a process running to a maximum of 24 days is triggered.[75] Under this process, Iran and the IAEA have 14 days to resolve disagreements among themselves.[75] If they fail to, the Joint Commission (including all eight parties) would have one week in which to consider the intelligence which initiated the IAEA request. A majority of the Commission (at least five of the eight members) could then inform Iran of the action that it would be required to take within three more days.[78][79] The majority rule provision “means the United States and its European allies—Britain, France, Germany and the EU—could insist on access or any other steps and that Iran, Russia or China could not veto them”.[78] If Iran did not comply with the decision within three days, sanctions would be automatically reimposed under the snapback provision (see below).[79]

As a result of the above, the “breakout time”—the time in which it would be possible for Iran to make enough material for a single nuclear weapon—will increase from two to three months to one year, according to U.S. officials and U.S. intelligence.[33][51][80][d] An August 2015 report published by a group of experts at Harvard University‘s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs concurs in these estimates, writing that under the JCPOA, “over the next decade would be extended to roughly a year, from the current estimated breakout time of 2 to 3 months”.[50] The Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation also accepts these estimates.[82][83] By contrast, Alan J. Kuperman, coordinator of the Nuclear Proliferation Prevention Project at the University of Texas at Austin, disputed the one-year assessment, arguing that under the agreement, Iran’s breakout time “would be only about three months, not much longer than it is today”.[84]

The longer breakout time would be in place for at least ten years; after that point, the breakout time would gradually decrease.[33][80] By the fifteenth year, U.S. officials state that the breakout time would return to the pre-JCPOA status quo of a few months.[33][80] The Belfer Center report states: “Some contributors to this report believe that breakout time by year 15 could be comparable to what it is today—a few months—while others believe it could be reduced to a few weeks.”[50]

Exemptions

Reuters reported that exemptions were granted to Iran prior to January 16, 2016. The reported purpose of the exemptions was so that sanctions relief and other benefits could start by that date, instead of Iran being in violation. The exemptions included: (a) Iran able to exceed the 300 Kg of 3.5% LEU limit in the agreement; (b) Iran able to exceed the zero Kg of 20% LEU limit in the agreement; (c) Iran to keep operating 19 “hot cells” that exceed the size limit in the agreement; (d) Iran to maintain control of 50 tonnes of heavy water that exceed the 130 tonne limit in the agreement by storing the excess at an Iran-controlled facility in Oman.[85] In December 2016, the IAEA published decisions of the Joint Commission that spell out these clarifications of the JCPOA.[86]

Sanctions

Further information: Sanctions against Iran

The following provisions regarding sanctions are written into the JCPOA:

  • Following the issuance of a IAEA report verifying implementation by Iran of the nuclear-related measures, the UN sanctions against Iran and some EU sanctions will terminate and some will be suspended. Once sanctions are lifted, Iran will recover approximately $100 billion of its assets (U.S. Treasury Department estimate) frozen in overseas banks.[87]
    • Eight years into the agreement, EU sanctions against a number of Iranian companies, individuals and institutions (such as the Revolutionary Guards) will be lifted.[88]
  • The United States will “cease” application of its nuclear-related secondary sanctions[89] by presidential action or executive waiver.[90]Secondary sanctions are those that sanction other countries for doing business with Iran. Primary U.S. sanctions, which prohibit U.S. firms from conducting commercial transactions with few exceptions, are not altered by the JCPOA.[91]
    • This step is not tied to any specific date, but is expected to occur “roughly in the first half of 2016”.[89][92][93]
    • Sanctions relating to ballistic missile technologies would remain for eight years; similar sanctions on conventional weapon sales to Iran would remain for five years.[33][94]
    • However, all U.S. sanctions against Iran related to alleged human rights abuses, missiles, and support for terrorism are not affected by the agreement and will remain in place.[53][95] U.S. sanctions are viewed as more stringent, since many have extraterritorial effect (i.e., they apply worldwide). EU sanctions, by contrast, apply only in Europe.[88]
  • No new UN or EU nuclear-related sanctions or restrictive measures will be imposed.[96]
  • If Iran violates the agreement, any of the P5+1 can invoke a “snap back” provision, under which the sanctions “snap back” into place (i.e., are reimplemented).[51][52][96]
    • Specifically, the JCPOA establishes the following dispute resolution process: if a party to the JCPOA has reason to believe that another party is not upholding its commitments under the agreement, then the complaining party may refer its complaint to the Joint Commission, a body created under the JCPOA to monitor implementation.[53][97] If a complaint made by a non-Iran party is not resolved to the satisfaction of the complaining party within thirty-five days of referral, then that party could treat the unresolved issue as grounds to cease performing its commitments under the JCPOA, notify the United Nations Security Council that it believes the issue constitutes significant non-performance, or both.[97] The Security Council would then have thirty days to adopt a resolution to continue the lifting of sanctions. If such a resolution is not adopted within those thirty days, then the sanctions of all of the pre-JCPOA nuclear-related UN Security Council resolutions would automatically be re-imposed. Iran has stated that in such a case, it would cease performing its nuclear obligations under the deal.[42][97] The effect of this rule is that any permanent member of the Security Council (United States, United Kingdom, China, Russia and France) can veto any ongoing sanctions relief, but no member can veto the re-imposition of sanctions.
    • Snapback sanctions “would not apply with retroactive effect to contracts signed between any party and Iran or Iranian individuals and entities prior to the date of application, provided that the activities contemplated under and execution of such contracts are consistent with this JCPOA and the previous and current UN Security Council resolutions”.[57]

Ankit Panda of The Diplomat states that this will make impossible any scenario where Iran is non-compliant with the JCPOA yet escapes re-imposition of sanctions.[97] Mark Dubowitz of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (which opposes the agreement) argues, however, that because the JCPOA provides that Iran could treat reinstatement of sanctions (in part or entirely) as grounds for leaving the agreement, the United States would be reluctant to impose a “snapback” for smaller violations: “The only thing you’ll take to the Security Council are massive Iranian violations, because you’re certainly not going to risk the Iranians walking away from the deal and engaging in nuclear escalation over smaller violations.”[98]

Records

According to several commentators, JCPOA is the first of its kind in the annals of non-proliferation and is in many aspects unique.[99][100][101][102][103]

The 159-page JCPOA document and its five appendices, is the most spacious text of a multinational treaty since World War II.[104] Throughout the history of international law, this is the first and only time that a country subject to Chapter VII of the United Nations CharterIran – has managed to end its case and stop being subject to this chapter through diplomacy.[104][105][106] All other cases have ended through either regime change, war or full implementation of the Security Council’s decisions by the country.[107]

This is the first time that the United Nations Security Council has recognized the nuclear enrichment program of a developing countryIran[104][108] and backs an agreement (JCPOA) signed by several countries within the framework of a resolution (United Nations Security Council Resolution 2231).[104][109] For the first time in the history of the United Nations, a country –Iran– was able to abolish 6 UN resolutions against it –1696, 1737, 1747, 1803, 1835, 1929– without even one day of implementating them.[104]Sanctions against Iran was also lifted for the first time.[104]

In the 47-year history of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), no country other than Iran has ever voluntarily agreed to put extraordinary restrictions on its nuclear activities.[110]

During the final negotiations, U.S. Secretary of StateJohn Kerry stayed in Vienna for 17 days, making him the top American official devoting time to a single international negotiation in more than four decades.[111]Mohammad Javad Zarif broke the record of an Iranian Foreign Minister being far from home with 18-days stay in Vienna,[104] and set the record of 106 days of negotiations in 687 days, a number higher than any other chief nuclear negotiator in 12 years.[112] The negotiations became the longest continuous negotiations with the presence of all foreign ministers of the permanent members of the United Nations Security Council.[104]

Pictured here, Iranian foreign affairs minister and U.S. secretary of state shaking hands at the end of negotiations on 14 July 2015, Vienna. They shook hands on 26 September 2013 in the United Nations Headquarters for the first time.[113]

The negotiations included ‘rare events’ in Iran–United States relations not only since the 1979 Iranian Revolution, but also in the history of the bilateral relations. The U.S. Secretary of State and Iranian Foreign Minister met on 18 different dates –sometimes multiple occasions a day– and in 11 different cities, unprecedented since the beginning of the relations.[114] On 27 April 2015, John Kerry visited the official residence of the Permanent Representative of Iran to the United Nations –which counts as Iranian soil– to meet his counterpart. The encounter was the first of its kind since the Iran hostage crisis.[114][115] On the sidelines of the 70th session of the United Nations General Assembly, U.S. PresidentBarack Obama shook hands with the Iranian foreign minister Javad Zarif, marking the first such event in history. The event was also noted in form of diplomatic ranks, as a head of state shook hands with a minister.[116] Obama is reported to have said in the meeting: “Too much effort has been put into the JCPOA and we all should be diligent to implement it.”[117]

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joint_Comprehensive_Plan_of_Action

Story 3: Radical Islamic Terrorist Attack In Paris, France Target Police One Officer Killed and One Wounded and One Shooter Killed and One Escaped — Videos — 

Image result for paris france shootings april 20, 2017 Image result for paris france shootings april 20, 2017

One Officer Killed, One Wounded In Paris Shooting | NBC News

Trump Says Paris Shooting Looks Like Terror Attack

BREAKING Paris ISLAMIC Terrorist with Machine Gun kills police officer 2nd hurt April 20 2017 News

BREAKING!!! TERROR ATTACK IN PARIS!!!

Paris shooting ‘looks like another terrorist attack’ Trump says: ‘It just never ends’

  • The U.S. president addressed the assault on two police officers at a news conference Thursday afternoon in the White House’s East Room
  • French police say the incident involving at least two gunman was probably a ‘terrorist act’ 
  • ‘We have to be strong, and we have to be vigilant, and I’ve been saying it for a long time,’ Trump said 

President Donald Trump says a shooting in Paris today ‘looks like another terrorist attack.’

The U.S. president addressed the assault on two police officers at a news conference Thursday afternoon.

‘It just never ends,’ he said of the terror threat from the White House’s East Room.

French police say the incident involving at least two gunman was probably a ‘terrorist act.’

President Donald Trump says a shooting in Paris today 'looks like another terrorist attack.'

President Donald Trump says a shooting in Paris today ‘looks like another terrorist attack.’

White House press secretary Sean Spicer said just before the news conference began that Trump had been briefed on the shooting that happened while he was meeting with the Italian prime minister.

‘Condolences from our country to the people for France again. It’s happening it seems,’ Trump said from the podium. ‘I just saw it as I was walking in, so it’s a terrible thing and it’s a very, very terrible thing that’s going on in the world today.’

Trump did not comment on the assault at the top of his remarks but said after he was asked for a reaction, ‘It looks like another terrorist attack, and what can you say? It just never ends.

‘We have to be strong, and we have to be vigilant, and I’ve been saying it for a long time,’ Trump told Fox News’ John Roberts.

France is in the process of holding a national election. The first round of voting begins on April 23.

A gunman wielding an AK-47 killed one police officer and wounded another today on the Champs-Elysees. The assailant was killed in the showdown with police, Paris police have said. Another suspect is believed to have been involved, as well.

Police just two days ago arrested two men in southern Marseille with weapons and explosives who were suspected of preparing an attack to disrupt the first-round of the presidential election on Sunday.

France is in a state of emergency and at its highest possible level of alert since a string of terror attacks that began in 2015 and have killed over 230 people.

Thousands of troops and armed police have been deployed to guard tourist hotspots such as the Champs Elysees or other potential targets like government buildings and religious sites.

‘Stay back, stay back!’ Police warn after shooting in Paris

Police closed off the popular avenue (pictured) after a policeman was killed during a shooting incident in the French capital

Police closed off the popular avenue (pictured) after a policeman was killed during a shooting incident in the French capital

A French police officer was tonight shot dead on the Champs Elysees in Paris (pictured) - just as presidential candidates took part in a TV debate nearby

A French police officer was tonight shot dead on the Champs Elysees in Paris (pictured) – just as presidential candidates took part in a TV debate nearby

Up until now, polls showed voters more concerned about unemployment and their spending power than terrorism or security, though analysts warned this would change in the event of further bloodshed.

For weeks, centrist Emanuel Macron and National Front (FN) leader Marine Le Pen have been out in front.

Scandal-plagued conservative Francois Fillon and far-left firebrand Jean-Luc Melenchon have closed the gap substantially in the last two weeks.

Opinion polls now show there is a chance that any of the four leading candidates could reach the second-round run-off on May 7 if none of them reach a majority in this weekend’s election.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4430264/Paris-shooting-looks-like-terror-Trump-says.html

PARIS SHOOTING

Paris shooting leaves one policeman dead and ‘two seriously injured’ as ‘ISIS terrorists armed with AK47s’ open fire on the Champs-Élysée in Paris

The officers were gunned down in the central boulevard of the famous street at around 9pm local time

A POLICEMAN has died and two are seriously injured after at least one gunman opened fire “with an AK47” in central Paris this evening.

A 39-year-old gunman was killed by police following the “terror attack” at the central boulevard of the Champs-Élysé, which ISIS have claimed responsibility for.

Paris

REUTERS
Three policemen have been shot – one dead – in Paris

Paris

GETTY IMAGES
A man raises his arms in front of police officers close to the scene in Paris

Paris

REUTERS
Forensics search a car thought to have been driven by the attacker

Arc De Triomph

EPA
Emergency services guard the Arc De Triomph
 

Footage potentially show s the moments after the Paris shootingPolice say the suspect was from an eastern Paris in suburb, despite ISIS naming him as a Belgian national on their Amaq news agency.

He is thought to have been known to security services for “extremist links”.

The shooter’s house in an eastern Paris suburb and other addresses are being searched by officers, a source told Reuters.

Cops have said they are hunting a second suspect who may or may not be involved in the incident.

Local police advised people to avoid the area after shots were fired at around 9pm local time.

Witnesses said the attacker pulled up beside a stationery police car and fired through the window.

“He parked just behind the van and he got out with a Kalashnikov and I heard six gunshots,” a witness named Chelloug said.

“I thought they were firecrackers, because we all looked around the road and there was no one.

“In fact, he was hidden behind the van and shooting at the police.

Champs-Élysée

TWITTER
The officers were gunned down at around 9pm local time

police

REUTERS
A police van at the scene in Paris, where a policeman has been shot
 

Eyewitness of the Paris shooting says he heard six gun shots between police and the gunman

 

Two French police officers killed by gunman in Paris ‘terror’ attack”I think he hit a policeman. As soon as the policeman opened the door of the van, he fell, I think.

“As soon as we saw that, we all ran back inside (a building). We hid and I went up to the first floor and we saw them (the policeman) shoot him (the perpetrator).”

He added: ” I was afraid. I have a two year-old girl and I thought I was going to die… He shot straight at the police officer.”

President Francois Hollande said officials are “convinced” the incident is a terror attack.

Paris Prosecutor’s anti-terror office has opened an inquiry.

Champs-Elysees boulevard

GETTY IMAGES
The shooting took place at the iconic Champs-Elysees boulevard

as-map-paris-shooting

The policeman was shot dead on the central boulevard of the Champs-Elysees

Paris

Police on high alert after three officers were shot in Paris

Paris shooting leaves one policeman dead and 'two seriously injured' as 'ISIS terrorists armed with AK47s' open fire on the Champs-Élysée in Paris

Women raise their arms as they head towards armed police

Eyewitness of the Paris shooting says he heard six gun shots between police and the gunman

 

ISIS claims it was behind Paris police shootingYvan Assioma of the police union Alliance said: “The exact circumstances are still unclear but I can confirm the tragic death of one of our colleagues. Our thoughts are very much with the family.

“One or several attackers have been shot dead by the police. Some officers were hit but the bullets were stopped by their bulletproof vests, but two were hit.

“Nothing is being ruled out for the time being, terrorism or a criminal act.”

Eiffel tower

The Eiffel Tower is seen behind police cars

Paris

TWITTER/JAMES MATE
As police car at the scene in Paris, where a police officer has reportedly been killed

Paris shooting leaves one policeman dead and 'two seriously injured' as 'ISIS terrorists armed with AK47s' open fire on the Champs-Élysée in Paris

A soldier stands guard in front of the illuminated Arc De Triomphe
 

Champs-Elysees in Paris evacuated after two police officers shot dead

 

French police closes traffic on Champs Elysees after shootingA Government spokesperson said: “An automatic weapon was used against police, a weapon of war.

“The shooting started shortly after 9pm, when a car stopped alongside a stationary police car.

“A man immediately got out and opened fire on the police car, fatally wounding a police officer. He also wounded a second one, it would seem very seriously.”

The shooting happened near the Métro station Franklin D Roosevelt and the Marks and Spencer store on the Champs-Elysées.

It is one of the most famous streets in the world and a busy tourist hub.

Armed police and emergency services have been spotted at the scene.

Paris

Passersby raise their arms as they pass the scene

Police

An armed policeman stands guard with the Arc de Triomphe in the background

Police

Emergency services at the scene of a fatal shooting in Paris

Paris

Members of the public have been advised to steer clear of the area

police

A police cordon is in place around the scene
 

Armed officers tak e position behind a kiosk on the Champs ElyséesFrance’s President Francois Hollande has scheduled an emergency meeting following the shootings.

French Presidential candidates Marine Le Pen and Francois Fill0n have cancelled their trips tomorrow.

The shooting comes just just days ahead of France’s presidential election.

On Tuesday, days after police arrested two men in southern Marseille with weapons and explosives who were suspected of preparing an attack to disrupt the first-round of the presidential election on Sunday.

PAris

A soldier guides people away from the scene in Paris

PAris

AP:ASSOCIATED PRESS
A police officer close to the Arc De Triomphe in Paris

Paris

Armed police at the scene in Paris

Paris

Emergency services rushed to the scene in Paris
 

Policeman shot dead and ‘two seriously injured’ on Champs-Élysé, Paris

 

Police officers evacuate people off the Champs Elysees after ‘terror attack’France is in a state of emergency and at its highest possible level of alert since a string of terror attacks that began in 2015, which have killed over 230 people.

The UK Foreign Office said: “The British Embassy is in contact with local authorities and urgently seeking further information following reports of a shooting incident on the Champs-Elysees in Paris.

“You should remain vigilant and follow the advice of the local security authorities and/or your tour operator.

“If you’re in the area and it is safe to do so, contact your friends and family to tell them you are safe.”

https://www.thesun.co.uk/news/3376910/paris-shooting-terror-attack-champs-elysees/

Story 4: Republicans Return Repeal Replace Obamacare — Compromise Should Pass House by April 28, 2017 Videos —

House Republicans Close To Obamacare Repeal

Published on Apr 20, 2017

House Freedom Caucus and moderate Republicans are edging closer to a deal on repealing Obamacare. The agreement, brokered by House Freedom Caucus chairman Mark Meadows (R-NC) and Tuesday Group co-chairman Tom MacArthur (R-NJ), would allow states to eliminate Obamacare’s community rating system, a rule that prohibits health insurers from pricing health care plans based on age, gender, or health status. States that repeal Obamacare’s community rating rules would have to join a federal high-risk pool or establish a local high-risk pool to obtain the waiver.

Ryan Claims GOP Healthcare Bill Still Alive

Reviving Obamacare repeal and replace efforts an uphill battle for GOP?

Andy Puzder on Trump’s renewed push to repeal, replace ObamaCare

It’s going to be nearly impossible for Republicans to repeal and replace Obamacare next week

Paul Ryan donald trump

The developing plan from House Republicans to push forward their overhaul of the US healthcare system has one big problem: timing.

According to reports, the White House is pushing to get a deal done on the American Health Care Act by April 28 to show progress on their pledge to repeal and replace Obamacare during President Donald Trump’s first 100 days.

A new amendment leaked Wednesday night appears to be a compromise between the leaders of the conservative House Freedom Caucus and moderate Tuesday Group that could produce some movement on the bill in that timeframe.

But Congress faces another looming deadline by April 28: funding the federal government. If no new funding bill is passed by next Friday, parts of the federal government will shut down.

Washington is not known for multitasking, and it could be difficult to get a funding bill passed as the White House and lawmakers push to add policy proposals to the funding bill. Given the political ramifications of the issue, the shutdown fight could consume the calendar.

According to Politico, the White House and Congress are considering passage of a one-week extension on funding in order to hash out a more considered funding bill and possibly give the House time to take up the AHCA, which became colloquially known as “Trumpcare.”

Barring such an extension, however, it would be highly unlikely that the American Health Care Act moves forward before Trump’s 100th day in the Oval Office.

http://www.businessinsider.com/trumpcare-ahca-house-gop-government-shutdown-problem-2017-4

Here’s the plan that some Republican leaders think will get their Obamacare repeal bill to pass

Paul Ryan

House Speaker Paul Ryan, the Wisconsin Republican, said on Wednesday that the GOP was putting the “finishing touches” on an Obamacare deal. J. Scott Applewhite/AP

Republicans are closing in on a deal to try — again — to push their plan to repeal and replace Obamacare through the House.

The compromise, first reported by Matt Fuller and Jonathan Cohn at The Huffington Post, would allow states to obtain a waiver from the federal government to do away with certain protections from the Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare.

According to The Huffington Post, the deal would initially keep two provisions — essential health benefits and community rating — favored by moderate GOP lawmakers but allow states to waive these protections. In order to waive the protections, states would have to fulfill two provisions: prove that the waiver would bring down costs and either join a federal high-risk pool or establish their own.

The full text of the proposed amendment, obtained by Politico’s Jake Sherman and Anna Palmer, states that the waiver would be granted by the federal government if the state can prove that it has an alternative to “reduce premium costs, increase the number of persons with healthcare coverage, or advance another benefit to the public interest in the state.”

Essential health benefits require insurers to cover a baseline of health procedures such as prenatal care and emergency room visits. Community rating means that insurers must charge people living in the same area the same price for insurance regardless of things such as age, gender, or preexisting conditions.

“The gist of this is that federal protections for pre-existing conditions and required benefits remain…unless a state doesn’t want them to,” tweeted Larry Levitt, senior vice president at health policy think thank The Kaiser Family Foundation on Thursday.

Without the community rating, insurers could charge people with preexisting conditions higher premiums and some policy experts fear this could price sick people out of the market.

However, this means that the Trump administration, most likely Secretary of Health and Human Services Tom Price, would have final say on whether or not a waiver is granted.

While the deal was reportedly reached by conservative House Freedom Caucus chair Rep. Mark Meadows and moderate Tuesday Group chair Rep. Tom MacArthur, it also bears similarities to a previous deal that drew the ire of moderates for going too far in pulling back protections.

Additionally, it does not address the concerns of moderates such as the defunding of Medicaid expansion or the estimates that the Affordable Health Care Act could leave up to 24 million fewer people without health coverage over the next 10 years.

The Washington Post’s Robert Costa reported after the amendment’s outline was leaked that the GOP leadership is planning to release the exact language for the amendment later on Thursday and are targeting Wednesday for a vote on the revised bill, but that could change.

According to CNBC, a Freedom Caucus source said the changes would bring 18 to 20 members of the group who were originally against the AHCA over to a “yes” vote on the bill. It is unclear how many moderate Republicans would shift to a “no.” By most accounts the House GOP was as many as 33 votes short of the needed number when the AHCA went to the House floor on March 24.

The amendment comes the day after reports that the White House was pushing for a deal to be completed by the end of next week in order to show progress during Trump’s first 100 days as president. Additionally, House Speaker Paul Ryan said in London on Wednesday that the GOP was putting the “finishing touches” on an Obamacare deal.

Passing the AHCA, even with the proposed changes, would be difficult in the short-term as Congress must also pass a bill to fund the federal government before parts of it shut down on April 28.

Read the full summary of the amendment, via Politico (PDF) »

Treasury’s Mnuchin: We’re ‘pretty close’ to bringing forward ‘major tax reform’

Jacob Pramuk |

U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin speaks at 2017 Institute of International Finance (IIF) policy summit in Washington, U.S., April 20, 2017.

Mnuchin: Most significant tax code change since Reagan  9 Hours Ago | 01:19

The Trump administration is close to bringing forward “major tax reform,” Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Thursday, days after he tempered expectations for how quickly it will pass.

Mnuchin, who this week backed off of his earlier goal of passing tax reform by August, said the White House will unveil a plan “very soon.” However, the Trump administration previously missed several of its deadlines for releasing its tax plan.

In terms of timing, he said he hoped passing a tax overhaul will not “take till the end of the year.”

Mnuchin spoke at the Institute of International Finance Washington Policy Summit, where White House chief economic advisor Gary Cohn was set to appear later Thursday.

In a Financial Times interview published Monday, Mnuchin said getting a bill to President Donald Trump‘s desk before August is “highly aggressive to not realistic at this point.” He said in February that he wanted to see “very significant” tax reform passed by Congress’ August recess.

The business community has hoped Republicans can move quickly on overhauling the American tax system, a prospect that partly fueled stock market gains in the months following Trump’s election. However, political realities have tempered expectations for changes to the tax system.

Republicans attempted to pass legislation to replace the Affordable Care Act before moving to a tax reform bill. That effort failed late last month, and Mnuchin said the setback contributed to his assessment that passing a tax overhaul by August could be difficult.

Trump put the pressure back on Tuesday after Mnuchin and Cohn appeared to walk back expectations for how quickly tax reform will happen. He called out Mnuchin by name during a speech at Snap-on headquarters in Wisconsin.

“So we’re in very good shape on tax reform. We have the concept of the plan. We’re going to be announcing it very soon,” Trump said at that time. “But health care, we have to get the health care taken care of, and as soon as health care takes care of we are going to march very quickly. You’re going to watch. We’re going to surprise you. Right, Steve Mnuchin? Right?”

Even though the president sounded optimistic Tuesday, the Trump administration has set deadlines for tax policy before that have not come to pass. In late February, Trump said the tax plan was “very well finalized,” only a day after press secretary Sean Spicer said it would be released “in the next couple weeks.

Republicans have refocused on resurrecting the effort to repeal the ACA, better known as Obamacare, as they get set to return from a recess next week. House GOP leaders are trying to balance the concerns of the both the party’s conservative and moderate wings as they try to follow through on a major campaign pledge.

Mnuchin said Thursday that “whether health care gets done or health care doesn’t get done, we’re going to get tax reform done.”

http://www.cnbc.com/2017/04/20/treasurys-mnuchin-were-pretty-close-to-bringing-forward-major-tax-reform.html

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The Pronk Pops Show 866, April 3, 2017, Breaking News — Story 1: Obamagate Surveillance/Spying Scandal Spreading — Abuse of Power By Former National Security Adviser Susan Rice — Requested Revealing or Unmasking of American Citizen Identities Including Trump and Trump Campaign and Transition Teams For 7 Months (July 2016 – January 2017) — The Smoking Gun — What Did President Obama Know and When Did He Know It? — Videos — Story 2: Lying Lunatic Left Democratic National Committee Chair Tom Perez Cracks up — Trump Didn’t Win Election — Videos —

Posted on April 3, 2017. Filed under: American History, Blogroll, Breaking News, Communications, Congress, Constitutional Law, Corruption, Crime, Culture, Donald J. Trump, Donald J. Trump, Donald Trump, Donald Trump, Elections, Foreign Policy, Freedom of Speech, Government, Government Spending, High Crimes, Hillary Clinton, History, House of Representatives, Human, Illegal Immigration, Immigration, Language, Law, Legal Immigration, Life, News, Obama, Politics, Polls, President Barack Obama, President Trump, Presidential Appointments, Progressives, Radio, Raymond Thomas Pronk, Scandals, Senate, Trump Surveillance/Spying, United States of America, Videos | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

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Breaking News — Story 1: Obamagate Surveillance/Spying Scandal Spreading — Abuse of Power By Former National Security Adviser Susan Rice — Requested Revealing or Unmasking of American Citizen Identities Including Trump and Trump Campaign and Transition Teams For 7 Months (July 2016 – January 2017) — The Smoking Gun — Videos — 

Image result for obama surveillance scandalImage result for obama surveillance scandal
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Rice asked for Trump transition associates to be unmasked

Where does the Susan Rice story go from here?

Hume talks Supreme Court fight, Susan Rice revelations

Jennings: New surveillance details are ‘political bombshell’

Report: Obama adviser Susan Rice sought to unmask Trump associates

Susan Rice Requested Intel to Unmask Names of Trump Transition Officials

Obama’s SPY Susan Rice CAUGHT SPYING ON TRUMP and Trump’s Team said Rush Limbaugh

Furious AG Sessions: we will convict some people to make the leaking stop

Susan Rice Unmasked Trump Team, 1566

Published on Apr 3, 2017

This video is about Susan Rice Unmasked Trump Team, 1566

President Obama’s National Security Advisor, Susan Rice, deliberately unmasked President-Elect Donald Trump, and other incoming Trump officials, according to reporter Michael Chernovich.
Furthermore, Chernovich learned that New York Times reporter Maggie Haberman has had this story for at least 48 hours, and has chosen to sit on it in an effort to protect the reputation of Obama.
According to Chernovich:
“The White House Counsel’s office identified Rice as the person responsible for the unmasking after examining Rice’s document log requests.”
“The reports Rice requested to see are kept under tightly-controlled conditions. Each person must log her name before being granted access to them.”
According to Chernovich two other people close to Obama had authorization to unmask the names of Americans as well: CIA Director John Brennan and then-Attorney General Loretta Lynch.
Yesterday, Fox News announced that House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes, R-Calif, knew who unmasked General Michael Flynn, saying that the person was:
“… very well known, very high up, very senior in the intelligence world.”
I had speculated that that person may have been Jeh Johnson, the former Director of Homeland Security. We will see in the morning if the Fox report confirms that it was indeed Susan Rice.
If it was Rice, that puts the source of this felonious conduct right at the door of former President Obama.

Susan Rice On Unmasking Of Trump Team, ‘I Know Nothing’

Multiple Felonies Committed By Obama Admin. Obama Surveillance on Trump.

Obama Official Admits They Were Surveilling Trump & His Team, Unmasking Names & Leaking Intel

Team Obama Gets Caught Committing Political Espionage, Spying on Trump & His Team

Susan Rice Reportedly “Unmasked” Trump in Incidental Data Collection

Trump Proven 100% Right about Obama Admin “Wiretapping”(Surveilling) Him & His Team

 Donald Trump’s Administration was Wiretapped | Rand Paul

Susan Rice, Ben Rhodes, John Brennan are suspects: James Comey Intelligence Hearing @ congressRand Paul Calls For Susan Rice To Testify On Unmasking Trump Officials

Susan Rice requested to unmask names of Trump transition officials, sources say

Multiple sources tell Fox News that Susan Rice, former national security adviser under then-President Barack Obama, requested to unmask the names of Trump transition officials caught up in surveillance.

The unmasked names, of people associated with Donald Trump, were then sent to all those at the National Security Council, some at the Defense Department, then-Director of National Intelligence James Clapper and then-CIA Director John Brennan – essentially, the officials at the top, including former Rice deputy Ben Rhodes.

The names were part of incidental electronic surveillance of candidate and President-elect Trump and people close to him, including family members, for up to a year before he took office.

It was not clear how Rice knew to ask for the names to be unmasked, but the question was being posed by the sources late Monday.

Such amazing reporting on unmasking and the crooked scheme against us by @foxandfriends. “Spied on before nomination.” The real story.

“What I know is this …  If the intelligence community professionals decide that there’s some value, national security, foreign policy or otherwise in unmasking someone, they will grant those requests,” former Obama State Department spokeswoman and Fox News contributor Marie Harf told Fox News’ Martha MacCallum on “The First 100 Days. “And we have seen no evidence … that there was partisan political notice behind this and we can’t say that unless there’s actual evidence to back that up.”

White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer, asked about the revelations at Monday’s briefing, declined to comment specifically on what role Rice may have played or officials’ motives.

“I’m not going to comment on this any further until [congressional] committees have come to a conclusion,” he said, while contrasting the media’s alleged “lack” of interest in these revelations with the intense coverage of suspected Trump-Russia links.

When names of Americans are incidentally collected, they are supposed to be masked, meaning the name or names are redacted from reports – whether it is international or domestic collection, unless it is an issue of national security, crime or if their security is threatened in any way. There are loopholes and ways to unmask through backchannels, but Americans are supposed to be protected from incidental collection. Sources told Fox News that in this case, they were not.

This comes in the wake of Evelyn Farkas’ television interview last month in which the former Obama deputy secretary of defense said in part: “I was urging my former colleagues and, frankly speaking, the people on the Hill – it was more actually aimed at telling the Hill people, get as much information as you can, get as much intelligence as you can, before President Obama leaves the administration.”

Meanwhile, Fox News also is told that House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes knew about unmasking and leaking back in January, well before President Trump’s tweet in March alleging wiretapping.

Nunes has faced criticism from Democrats for viewing pertinent documents on White House grounds and announcing their contents to the press. But sources said “the intelligence agencies slow-rolled Nunes. He could have seen the logs at other places besides the White House SCIF [secure facility], but it had already been a few weeks. So he went to the White House because he could protect his sources and he could get to the logs.”

As the Obama administration left office, it also approved new rules that gave the NSA much broader powers by relaxing the rules about sharing intercepted personal communications and the ability to share those with 16 other intelligence agencies.

Rice is no stranger to controversy. As the U.S. Ambassador to the UN, she appeared on several Sunday news shows to defend the adminstration’s later debunked claim that the Sept. 11, 2012 attacks on a U.S. consulate in Libya was triggered by an Internet video.

Rice also told ABC News in 2014 that Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl “served the United States with honor and distinction” and that he “wasn’t simply a hostage; he was an American prisoner of war captured on the battlefield.”

Bergdahl is currently facing court-martial on charges of desertion and misbehavior before the enemy for allegedly walking off his post in Afghanistan.

http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2017/04/03/susan-rice-requested-to-unmask-names-trump-transition-officials-sources-say.html

JULIEGRACE BRUFKE,  Capitol Hill Reporter

GOP Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul said he believes former National Security Advisor Susan Rice should testify before Congress on her request to unmask the names of Trump transition officials collected during routine intelligence-gathering operations.

Paul argued the situation should not be downplayed, saying reforms need to be made to prevent individuals from being blackmailed on personal aspects of their lives through unmasking. He noted there was nothing stopping the former administration from looking through Trump officials and national security advisors’ conversations during the transition window.

“If it is allowed, we shouldn’t be allowing it, but I don’t think should just discount how big a deal it is that Susan Rice was looking at these,” he told reporters Monday. “And she needs to be asked, ‘Did President Obama ask her to do this? Was this a directive from President Obama?  I think she should testify under oath on this.”

Paul said he has long thought there are too many people with the ability to unmask individuals.

“The law says you can’t reverse target people, but how would you know that once you get inside the brain and the people that are unmasking people,” Paul continued. “So, what if I decided to unmask and I’m there and I only unmask the conversations of my Democrat opponents — shouldn’t there be more restrictions for unmasking people in the political process?”

He said he believes there should be two individuals at the top of the agency to allow for identities to be unmasked. Paul noted the process is indiscriminate, noting the United States previously captured every phone call in Italy for a month.

“Basically there’s no Fourth Amendment when you use these kinds of things, you go with a lower standard because we’ve got to protect the country and we don’t care about spying on foreigners,” he said, adding there are said to be millions of Americans caught up in the country’s foreign targeting.

Paul said the president did not bring up the matter on their golf trip Sunday, but he voiced his opinion on the matter.

http://dailycaller.com/2017/04/03/rand-paul-calls-for-susan-rice-to-testify-on-unmasking-trump-officials/#ixzz4dDyYjidj

Top Obama Adviser Sought Names of Trump Associates in Intel

By Eli Lake

APRIL 3, 2017 10:13 AM EDT

White House lawyers last month learned that the former national security adviser Susan Rice requested the identities of U.S. persons in raw intelligence reports on dozens of occasions that connect to the Donald Trump transition and campaign, according to U.S. officials familiar with the matter.

The pattern of Rice’s requests was discovered in a National Security Council review of the government’s policy on “unmasking” the identities of individuals in the U.S. who are not targets of electronic eavesdropping, but whose communications are collected incidentally. Normally those names are redacted from summaries of monitored conversations and appear in reports as something like “U.S. Person One.”

The National Security Council’s senior director for intelligence, Ezra Cohen-Watnick, was conducting the review, according to two U.S. officials who spoke with Bloomberg View on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss it publicly. In February Cohen-Watnick discovered Rice’s multiple requests to unmask U.S. persons in intelligence reports that related to Trump transition activities. He brought this to the attention of the White House General Counsel’s office, who reviewed more of Rice’s requests and instructed him to end his own research into the unmasking policy.

The intelligence reports were summaries of monitored conversations — primarily between foreign officials discussing the Trump transition, but also in some cases direct contact between members of the Trump team and monitored foreign officials. One U.S. official familiar with the reports said they contained valuable political information on the Trump transition such as whom the Trump team was meeting, the views of Trump associates on foreign policy matters and plans for the incoming administration.

Rice did not respond to an email seeking comment on Monday morning. Her role in requesting the identities of Trump transition officials adds an important element to the dueling investigations surrounding the Trump White House since the president’s inauguration.

Both the House and Senate intelligence committees are probing any ties between Trump associates and a Russian influence operation against Hillary Clinton during the election. The chairman of the House intelligence committee, Representative Devin Nunes, is also investigating how the Obama White House kept tabs on the Trump transition after the election through unmasking the names of Trump associates incidentally collected in government eavesdropping of foreign officials.

Rice herself has not spoken directly on the issue of unmasking. Last month when she was asked on the “PBS NewsHour” about reports that Trump transition officials, including Trump himself, were swept up in incidental intelligence collection, Rice said: “I know nothing about this,” adding, “I was surprised to see reports from Chairman Nunes on that account today.”

Rice’s requests to unmask the names of Trump transition officials do not vindicate Trump’s own tweets from March 4 in which he accused Obama of illegally tapping Trump Tower. There remains no evidence to support that claim.

But Rice’s multiple requests to learn the identities of Trump officials discussed in intelligence reports during the transition period does highlight a longstanding concern for civil liberties advocates about U.S. surveillance programs. The standard for senior officials to learn the names of U.S. persons incidentally collected is that it must have some foreign intelligence value, a standard that can apply to almost anything. This suggests Rice’s unmasking requests were likely within the law.

The news about Rice also sheds light on the strange behavior of Nunes in the last two weeks. It emerged last week that he traveled to the White House last month, the night before he made an explosive allegation about Trump transition officials caught up in incidental surveillance. At the time he said he needed to go to the White House because the reports were only on a database for the executive branch. It now appears that he needed to view computer systems within the National Security Council that would include the logs of Rice’s requests to unmask U.S. persons.

The ranking Democrat on the committee Nunes chairs, Representative Adam Schiff, viewed these reports on Friday. In comments to the press over the weekend he declined to discuss the contents of these reports, but also said it was highly unusual for the reports to be shown only to Nunes and not himself and other members of the committee.

Indeed, much about this is highly unusual: if not how the surveillance was collected, then certainly how and why it was disseminated.

https://www.bloomberg.com/view/articles/2017-04-03/top-obama-adviser-sought-names-of-trump-associates-in-intel

White House logs indicate Susan Rice consumed unmasked intel on Trump associates

by Sara Carter and John Solomon

Computer logs that former President Obama’s team left behind in the White House indicate his national security adviser Susan Rice accessed numerous intelligence reports during Obama’s last seven months in office that contained National Security Agency intercepts involving Donald Trump and his associates, Circa has learned.

Intelligence sources said the logs discovered by National Security Council staff suggested Rice’s interest in the NSA materials, some of which included unmasked Americans’ identities, appeared to begin last July around the time Trump secured the GOP nomination and accelerated after Trump’s election in November launched a transition that continued through January.

The exact national security justifications for Rice accessing the reports isn’t clear and may require additional documentation that the House and Senate intelligence committees have requested from the NSA, America’s lead agency in spying on foreign powers.

Rice has not returned repeated calls for comment from Circa. But in an interview with PBS recently, she said she had no idea what House Intelligence Committee chairman Devin Nunes was talking about when he said Obama officials were monitoring Trump associates after the election.

Both the Republican chairman and Democratic vice chairman of the Housing Intelligence Committee have been shown the documents discovered by the NSC over the last 10 days.

But Circa reported last week that Obama opened the door for his political aides like Rice to more easily gain access to unmasked Americans’ names in NSA intercepts through a series of rule changes beginning in 2011.

http://circa.com/politics/accountability/white-house-logs-indicate-susan-rice-consumed-unmasked-intel-on-trump-associates

Obama adviser Ben Rhodes claims Obama didn’t spy on Americans — instantly receives brutal fact check

Chris Enloe

President Donald Trump took to Twitter early on Saturday to bash NBC News anchor Chuck Todd for reporting on the investigation into alleged collusion between Trump’s campaign and Russia instead of focusing on “Obama surveillance.”

Trump tweeted:

When will Sleepy Eyes Chuck Todd and @NBCNews start talking about the Obama SURVEILLANCE SCANDAL and stop with the Fake Trump/Russia story?

But Ben Rhodes, who served as a senior national security adviser for former President Barack Obama, took issue with Trump’s claim that the Obama administration surveyed him.

“There is no Obama SURVEILLANCE SCANDAL even when you capitalize the words,” he tweeted at Trump.

However, Twitter was quick to hit back at Rhodes, given the Obama administration’s record of surveillance — which isn’t the best. Under Obama’s leadership, domestic spying became a key issue after they were caught spying on journalists from the Associated Press and Fox News correspondent James Rosen.

The Obama administration was even forced to weather a massive NSA spying scandal after NSA contractor Edward Snowden leaked thousands of NSA documents, which revealed government collection programs like PRISM.

Needless to say, no one was buying Rhodes’ lies.

http://www.theblaze.com/news/2017/04/01/obama-adviser-ben-rhodes-claims-obama-didnt-spy-on-americans-instantly-receives-brutal-fact-check/

Global surveillance disclosures (2013–present)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
“Global surveillance disclosures” redirects here. For disclosures published before those of Edward Snowden, see Global surveillance disclosures (1970–2013).

Ongoing news reports in the international media have revealed operational details about the United States National Security Agency (NSA) and its international partners’ global surveillance[1] of foreign nationals and US citizens. The reports mostly emanate from a cache of top secret documents leaked by ex-NSA contractor Edward Snowden, which he obtained whilst working for Booz Allen Hamilton, one of the largest contractors for defense and intelligence in the United States.[2] In addition to a trove of US federal documents, Snowden’s cache reportedly contains thousands of Australian, British and Canadian intelligence files that he had accessed via the exclusive “Five Eyes” network. In June 2013, the first of Snowden’s documents were published simultaneously by The Washington Post and The Guardian, attracting considerable public attention.[3] The disclosure continued throughout 2013, and a small portion of the estimated full cache of documents was later published by other media outlets worldwide, most notably The New York Times (United States), the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, Der Spiegel (Germany), O Globo (Brazil), Le Monde (France), L’espresso (Italy), NRC Handelsblad (the Netherlands), Dagbladet (Norway), El País (Spain), and Sveriges Television (Sweden).[4]

These media reports have shed light on the implications of several secret treaties signed by members of the UKUSA community in their efforts to implement global surveillance. For example, Der Spiegel revealed how the German Bundesnachrichtendienst (BND) transfers “massive amounts of intercepted data to the NSA”,[5] while Swedish Television revealed the National Defence Radio Establishment (FRA) provided the NSA with data from its cable collection, under a secret treaty signed in 1954 for bilateral cooperation on surveillance.[6]Other security and intelligence agencies involved in the practice of global surveillance include those in Australia (ASD), Britain (GCHQ), Canada (CSEC), Denmark (PET), France (DGSE), Germany (BND), Italy (AISE), the Netherlands (AIVD), Norway (NIS), Spain (CNI), Switzerland (NDB), Singapore (SID) as well as Israel (ISNU), which receives raw, unfiltered data of US citizens that is shared by the NSA.[7][8][9][10][11][12][13][14]

On June 14, 2013, United States prosecutorscharged Edward Snowden with espionage and theft of government property.[15] In late July 2013, he was granted a one-year temporary asylum by the Russian government,[16] contributing to a deterioration of Russia–United States relations.[17][18] On August 6, 2013, US President Barack Obama made a public appearance on national television where he told Americans that “We don’t have a domestic spying program” and that “There is no spying on Americans”.[19] Towards the end of October 2013, the British Prime Minister David Cameron warned The Guardiannot to publish any more leaks, or it will receive a DA-Notice.[20] In November 2013, a criminal investigation of the disclosure was being undertaken by Britain’s Metropolitan Police Service.[21] In December 2013, The Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger said: “We have published I think 26 documents so far out of the 58,000 we’ve seen.”[22]

The extent to which the media reports have responsibly informed the public is disputed. In January 2014, Obama said that “the sensational way in which these disclosures have come out has often shed more heat than light”[23] and critics such as Sean Wilentz have noted that many of the Snowden documents released do not concern domestic surveillance.[24] In its first assessment of these disclosures, the Pentagon concluded that Snowden committed the biggest “theft” of U.S. secrets in the history of the United States.[25] Sir David Omand, a former director of GCHQ, described Snowden’s disclosure as the “most catastrophic loss to British intelligence ever”.[26]

Background

Barton Gellman, a Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist who led The Washington Posts coverage of Snowden’s disclosures, summarized the leaks as follows:

“Taken together, the revelations have brought to light a global surveillance system that cast off many of its historical restraints after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. Secret legal authorities empowered the NSA to sweep in the telephone, Internet and location records of whole populations.”

The disclosure revealed specific details of the NSA’s close cooperation with U.S. federal agencies such as the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI)[28][29] and the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA)[30][31] in addition to the agency’s previously undisclosed financial payments to numerous commercial partners and telecommunications companies,[32][33][34] as well as its previously undisclosed relationships with international partners such as Britain,[35][36] France[12][37] Germany,[5][38] and its secret treaties with foreign governments that were recently established for sharing intercepted data of each other’s citizens.[7][39][40][41] The disclosures were made public over the course of several months since June 2013, by the press in several nations from the trove leaked by the former NSA contractor Edward J. Snowden,[42] who obtained the trove while working for Booz Allen Hamilton.[2]

George Brandis, the current Attorney-General of Australia, asserted that Snowden’s disclosure is the “most serious setback for Western intelligence since the Second World War.”[43]

Global surveillance

Main article: Global surveillance

As of December 2013, global surveillance programs include:

Global surveillance programs
Program International contributors and/or partners Commercial partners
United StatesPRISM
United StatesXKeyscore
United KingdomTempora
United KingdomMUSCULAR
GermanyProject 6
Stateroom
Lustre

The NSA was also getting data directly from telecommunications companies codenamed Artifice, Lithium, Serenade, SteelKnight, and X. The real identities of the companies behind these codenames were not included in the Snowden document dump because they were protected as Exceptionally Controlled Information which prevents wide circulation even to those (like Snowden) who otherwise have the necessary security clearance.[65][66]

Disclosures

Although the exact size of Snowden’s disclosure remains unknown, the following estimates have been put up by various government officials:

As a contractor of the NSA, Snowden was granted access to U.S. government documents along with top secret documents of several allied governments, via the exclusive Five Eyes network.[69] Snowden claims that he is currently not in physical possession of any of these documents, after having surrendered all copies to the journalists he met in Hong Kong.[70]

According to his lawyer, Snowden has pledged not to release any documents while in Russia, leaving the responsibility for further disclosures solely to journalists.[71] As of 2014, the following news outlets have accessed some of the documents provided by Snowden: Australian Broadcasting Corporation, Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, Channel 4, Der Spiegel, El Pais, El Mundo, L’espresso, Le Monde, NBC, NRC Handelsblad, Dagbladet, O Globo, South China Morning Post, Süddeutsche Zeitung, Sveriges Television, The Guardian, The New York Times, and The Washington Post.

Historical context

In the 1970s, NSA analyst Perry Fellwock (under the pseudonym “Winslow Peck”) revealed the existence of the UKUSA Agreement, which forms the basis of the ECHELON network, whose existence was revealed in 1988 by Lockheed employee Margaret Newsham.[72][73] Months before the September 11 attacks and during its aftermath, further details of the global surveillance apparatus were provided by various individuals such as the former MI5 official David Shayler and the journalist James Bamford,[74][75] who were followed by:

In the aftermath of Snowden’s revelations, The Pentagon concluded that Snowden committed the biggest theft of U.S. secrets in the history of the United States.[25] In Australia, the coalition government described the leaks as the most damaging blow dealt to Australian intelligence in history.[43] Sir David Omand, a former director of GCHQ, described Snowden’s disclosure as the “most catastrophic loss to British intelligence ever”.[26]

Timeline

The Mira hotel in Hong Kong, where Edward Snowden hosted his first meeting with Glenn Greenwald, Laura Poitras, and journalist Ewen MacAskill of The Guardian[86]

In April 2012, NSA contractor Edward Snowden began downloading documents.[87] That year, Snowden had made his first contact with journalist Glenn Greenwald of The Guardian and he contacted documentary filmmaker Laura Poitras in January 2013.[88][89]

2013

May

In May 2013, Snowden went on temporary leave from his position at the NSA, citing the pretext of receiving treatment for his epilepsy. Towards the end of May, he traveled to Hong Kong.[90][91] Greenwald, Poitras and the Guardian’s defence and intelligence correspondent Ewen MacAskill flew to Hong Kong to meet Snowden.

June

After the U.S.-based editor of The Guardian, Janine Gibson, held several meetings in New York City, it was decided that Greenwald, Poitras and the Guardians defence and intelligence correspondent Ewen MacAskill would fly to Hong Kong to meet Snowden. On June 5, in the first media report based on the leaked material,[92]The Guardian exposed a top secret court order showing that the NSA had collected phone records from over 120 million Verizon subscribers.[93] Under the order, the numbers of both parties on a call, as well as the location data, unique identifiers, time of call, and duration of call were handed over to the FBI, which turned over the records to the NSA.[93] According to The Wall Street Journal, the Verizon order is part of a controversial data program, which seeks to stockpile records on all calls made in the U.S., but does not collect information directly from T-Mobile US and Verizon Wireless, in part because of their foreign ownership ties.[94]

On June 6, 2013, the second media disclosure, the revelation of the PRISM surveillance program (which collects the e-mail, voice, text and video chats of foreigners and an unknown number of Americans from Microsoft, Google, Facebook, Yahoo, Apple and other tech giants),[95][96][97][98] was published simultaneously by The Guardian and The Washington Post.[86][99]

Slide from a 2008 NSA presentation about XKeyscore, showing a worldmap with the locations of XKeyscore servers

Der Spiegel revealed NSA spying on multiple diplomatic missions of the European Union (EU) and the United Nations Headquarters in New York.[100][101] During specific episodes within a four-year period, the NSA hacked several Chinese mobile-phone companies,[102] the Chinese University of Hong Kong and Tsinghua University in Beijing,[103] and the Asian fiber-optic network operator Pacnet.[104] Only Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the UK are explicitly exempted from NSA attacks, whose main target in the EU is Germany.[105] A method of bugging encrypted fax machines used at an EU embassy is codenamed Dropmire.[106]

During the 2009 G-20 London summit, the British intelligence agency Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) intercepted the communications of foreign diplomats.[107] In addition, GCHQ has been intercepting and storing mass quantities of fiber-optic traffic via Tempora.[108] Two principal components of Tempora are called “Mastering the Internet” (MTI) and “Global Telecoms Exploitation“.[109] The data is preserved for three days while metadata is kept for thirty days.[110] Data collected by GCHQ under Tempora is shared with the National Security Agency (NSA) of the United States.[109]

From 2001 to 2011, the NSA collected vast amounts of metadata records detailing the email and internet usage of Americans via Stellar Wind,[111] which was later terminated due to operational and resource constraints. It was subsequently replaced by newer surveillance programs such as ShellTrumpet, which “processed its one trillionth metadata record” by the end of December 2012.[112]

The NSA follows specific procedures to target non-U.S. persons[113] and to minimize data collection from U.S. persons.[114] These court-approved policies allow the NSA to:[115][116]

  • keep data that could potentially contain details of U.S. persons for up to five years;
  • retain and make use of “inadvertently acquired” domestic communications if they contain usable intelligence, information on criminal activity, threat of harm to people or property, are encrypted, or are believed to contain any information relevant to cybersecurity;
  • preserve “foreign intelligence information” contained within attorney–client communications; and
  • access the content of communications gathered from “U.S. based machine[s]” or phone numbers in order to establish if targets are located in the U.S., for the purposes of ceasing further surveillance.

According to Boundless Informant, over 97 billion pieces of intelligence were collected over a 30-day period ending in March 2013. Out of all 97 billion sets of information, about 3 billion data sets originated from U.S. computer networks[117] and around 500 million metadata records were collected from German networks.[118]

In August 2013, it was revealed that the Bundesnachrichtendienst (BND) of Germany transfers massive amounts of metadata records to the NSA.[119]

Der Spiegel disclosed that Germany is the most targeted country of the 27 members of the European Union due to the NSA systematic monitoring and storage of Germany’s telephone and Internet connection data. According to the magazine the NSA stores data from around half a billion communications connections in Germany each month. This data includes telephone calls, emails, mobile-phone text messages and chat transcripts.[120]

On June 11, 2013, The Guardian published a snapshot of the NSA’s global map of electronic data collection for the month of March 2013. Known as the Boundless Informant, the program is used by the NSA to track the amount of data being analyzed over a specific period of time. The color scheme ranges from green (least subjected to surveillance) through yellow and orange to red (most surveillance). Outside the Middle East, only China, Germany, India, Kenya, Colombia, the United Kingdom, and the United States are colored orange or yellow

July[edit]

The NSA gained massive amounts of information captured from the monitored data traffic in Europe. For example, in December 2013, the NSA gathered on an average day metadata from some 15 million telephone connections and 10 million Internet datasets. The NSA also monitored the European Commission in Brussels and monitored EU diplomatic Facilities in Washington and at the United Nations by placing bugs in offices as well as infiltrating computer networks.[121]

The U.S. government made as part of its UPSTREAM data collection program deals with companies to ensure that it had access to and hence the capability to surveil undersea fiber-optic cables which deliver e-mails, Web pages, other electronic communications and phone calls from one continent to another at the speed of light.[122][123]

According to the Brazilian newspaper O Globo, the NSA spied on millions of emails and calls of Brazilian citizens,[124][125] while Australia and New Zealand have been involved in the joint operation of the NSA’s global analytical system XKeyscore.[126][127] Among the numerous allied facilities contributing to XKeyscore are four installations in Australia and one in New Zealand:

O Globo released an NSA document titled “Primary FORNSAT Collection Operations“, which revealed the specific locations and codenames of the FORNSAT intercept stations in 2002.[128]

According to Edward Snowden, the NSA has established secret intelligence partnerships with many Western governments.[127] The Foreign Affairs Directorate (FAD) of the NSA is responsible for these partnerships, which, according to Snowden, are organized such that foreign governments can “insulate their political leaders” from public outrage in the event that these global surveillance partnerships are leaked.[129]

In an interview published by Der Spiegel, Snowden accused the NSA of being “in bed together with the Germans”.[130] The NSA granted the German intelligence agencies BND (foreign intelligence) and BfV (domestic intelligence) access to its controversial XKeyscore system.[131] In return, the BND turned over copies of two systems named Mira4 and Veras, reported to exceed the NSA’s SIGINT capabilities in certain areas.[5] Every day, massive amounts of metadata records are collected by the BND and transferred to the NSA via the Bad Aibling Station near Munich, Germany.[5] In December 2012 alone, the BND handed over 500 million metadata records to the NSA.[132][133]

In a document dated January 2013, the NSA acknowledged the efforts of the BND to undermine privacy laws:

“The BND has been working to influence the German government to relax interpretation of the privacy laws to provide greater opportunities of intelligence sharing”.[133]

According to an NSA document dated April 2013, Germany has now become the NSA’s “most prolific partner”.[133] Under a section of a separate document leaked by Snowden titled “Success Stories”, the NSA acknowledged the efforts of the German government to expand the BND’s international data sharing with partners:

“The German government modifies its interpretation of the G-10 privacy law … to afford the BND more flexibility in sharing protected information with foreign partners.”[50]

In addition, the German government was well aware of the PRISM surveillance program long before Edward Snowden made details public. According to Angela Merkel’s spokesman Steffen Seibert, there are two separate PRISM programs – one is used by the NSA and the other is used by NATO forces in Afghanistan.[134] The two programs are “not identical”.[134]

The Guardian revealed further details of the NSA’s XKeyscore tool, which allows government analysts to search through vast databases containing emails, online chats and the browsing histories of millions of individuals without prior authorization.[135][136][137] Microsoft “developed a surveillance capability to deal” with the interception of encrypted chats on Outlook.com, within five months after the service went into testing. NSA had access to Outlook.com emails because “Prism collects this data prior to encryption.”[47]

In addition, Microsoft worked with the FBI to enable the NSA to gain access to its cloud storage service SkyDrive. An internal NSA document dating from August 3, 2012 described the PRISM surveillance program as a “team sport“.[47]

Even if there is no reason to suspect U.S. citizens of wrongdoing, the CIA‘s National Counterterrorism Center is allowed to examine federal government files for possible criminal behavior. Previously the NTC was barred to do so, unless a person was a terror suspect or related to an investigation.[138]

Snowden also confirmed that Stuxnet was cooperatively developed by the United States and Israel.[139] In a report unrelated to Edward Snowden, the French newspaper Le Monde revealed that France’s DGSE was also undertaking mass surveillance, which it described as “illegal and outside any serious control”.[140][141]

August

Documents leaked by Edward Snowden that were seen by Süddeutsche Zeitung (SZ) and Norddeutscher Rundfunk revealed that several telecom operators have played a key role in helping the British intelligence agency Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) tap into worldwide fiber-optic communications. The telecom operators are:

Each of them were assigned a particular area of the international fiber-optic network for which they were individually responsible. The following networks have been infiltrated by GCHQ: TAT-14 (Europe-USA), Atlantic Crossing 1 (Europe-USA), Circe South (France-UK), Circe North (The Netherlands-UK), Flag Atlantic-1, Flag Europa-Asia, SEA-ME-WE 3 (Southeast Asia-Middle East-Western Europe), SEA-ME-WE 4 (Southeast Asia-Middle East-Western Europe), Solas (Ireland-UK), UK-France 3, UK-Netherlands 14, ULYSSES (Europe-UK), Yellow (UK-USA) and Pan European Crossing.[143]

Telecommunication companies who participated were “forced” to do so and had “no choice in the matter”.[143] Some of the companies were subsequently paid by GCHQ for their participation in the infiltration of the cables.[143]According to the SZ, GCHQ has access to the majority of internet and telephone communications flowing throughout Europe, can listen to phone calls, read emails and text messages, see which websites internet users from all around the world are visiting. It can also retain and analyse nearly the entire European internet traffic.[143]

GCHQ is collecting all data transmitted to and from the United Kingdom and Northern Europe via the undersea fibre optic telecommunications cable SEA-ME-WE 3. The Security and Intelligence Division (SID) of Singapore co-operates with Australia in accessing and sharing communications carried by the SEA-ME-WE-3 cable. The Australian Signals Directorate (ASD) is also in a partnership with British, American and Singaporean intelligence agencies to tap undersea fibre optic telecommunications cables that link Asia, the Middle East and Europe and carry much of Australia’s international phone and internet traffic.[144]

The U.S. runs a top-secret surveillance program known as the Special Collection Service (SCS), which is based in over 80 U.S. consulates and embassies worldwide.[145][146] The NSA hacked the United Nations’ video conferencing system in Summer 2012 in violation of a UN agreement.[145][146]

The NSA is not just intercepting the communications of Americans who are in direct contact with foreigners targeted overseas, but also searching the contents of vast amounts of e-mail and text communications into and out of the country by Americans who mention information about foreigners under surveillance.[147] It also spied on the Al Jazeera and gained access to its internal communications systems.[148]

The NSA has built a surveillance network that has the capacity to reach roughly 75% of all U.S. Internet traffic.[149][150][151] U.S. Law-enforcement agencies use tools used by computer hackers to gather information on suspects.[152][153] An internal NSA audit from May 2012 identified 2776 incidents i.e. violations of the rules or court orders for surveillance of Americans and foreign targets in the U.S. in the period from April 2011 through March 2012, while U.S. officials stressed that any mistakes are not intentional.[154][155][156][157][158][159][160]

The FISA Court that is supposed to provide critical oversight of the U.S. government’s vast spying programs has limited ability to do so and it must trust the government to report when it improperly spies on Americans.[161] A legal opinion declassified on August 21, 2013, revealed that the NSA intercepted for three years as many as 56,000 electronic communications a year of Americans not suspected of having links to terrorism, before FISA court that oversees surveillance found the operation unconstitutional in 2011.[162][163][164][165][166] Under the Corporate Partner Access project, major U.S. telecommunications providers receive hundreds of millions of dollars each year from the NSA.[167] Voluntary cooperation between the NSA and the providers of global communications took off during the 1970s under the cover name BLARNEY.[167]

A letter drafted by the Obama administration specifically to inform Congress of the government’s mass collection of Americans’ telephone communications data was withheld from lawmakers by leaders of the House Intelligence Committee in the months before a key vote affecting the future of the program.[168][169]

The NSA paid GCHQ over £100 Million between 2009 and 2012, in exchange for these funds GCHQ “must pull its weight and be seen to pull its weight.” Documents referenced in the article explain that the weaker British laws regarding spying are “a selling point” for the NSA. GCHQ is also developing the technology to “exploit any mobile phone at any time.”[170] The NSA has under a legal authority a secret backdoor into its databases gathered from large Internet companies enabling it to search for U.S. citizens’ email and phone calls without a warrant.[171][172]

The Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board urged the U.S. intelligence chiefs to draft stronger US surveillance guidelines on domestic spying after finding that several of those guidelines have not been updated up to 30 years.[173][174] U.S. intelligence analysts have deliberately broken rules designed to prevent them from spying on Americans by choosing to ignore so-called “minimisation procedures” aimed at protecting privacy[175][176] and used the NSA’s agency’s enormous eavesdropping power to spy on love interests.[177]

After the U.S. Foreign Secret Intelligence Court ruled in October 2011 that some of the NSA’s activities were unconstitutional, the agency paid millions of dollars to major internet companies to cover extra costs incurred in their involvement with the PRISM surveillance program.[178]

Mastering the Internet” (MTI) is part of the Interception Modernisation Programme (IMP) of the British government that involves the insertion of thousands of DPI (deep packet inspection) “black boxes” at various internet service providers, as revealed by the British media in 2009.[179]

In 2013, it was further revealed that the NSA had made a £17.2 million financial contribution to the project, which is capable of vacuuming signals from up to 200 fibre-optic cables at all physical points of entry into Great Britain.[180]

September

The Guardian and The New York Times reported on secret documents leaked by Snowden showing that the NSA has been in “collaboration with technology companies” as part of “an aggressive, multipronged effort” to weaken the encryption used in commercial software, and GCHQ has a team dedicated to cracking “Hotmail, Google, Yahoo and Facebook” traffic.[181][182][183][184][185][186]

Germany’s domestic security agency Bundesverfassungsschutz (BfV) systematically transfers the personal data of German residents to the NSA, CIA and seven other members of the United States Intelligence Community, in exchange for information and espionage software.[187][188][189] Israel, Sweden and Italy are also cooperating with American and British intelligence agencies. Under a secret treaty codenamed “Lustre“, French intelligence agencies transferred millions of metadata records to the NSA.[63][64][190][191]

The Obama Administration secretly won permission from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court in 2011 to reverse restrictions on the National Security Agency’s use of intercepted phone calls and e-mails, permitting the agency to search deliberately for Americans’ communications in its massive databases. The searches take place under a surveillance program Congress authorized in 2008 under Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. Under that law, the target must be a foreigner “reasonably believed” to be outside the United States, and the court must approve the targeting procedures in an order good for one year. But a warrant for each target would thus no longer be required. That means that communications with Americans could be picked up without a court first determining that there is probable cause that the people they were talking to were terrorists, spies or “foreign powers.” The FISC extended the length of time that the NSA is allowed to retain intercepted U.S. communications from five years to six years with an extension possible for foreign intelligence or counterintelligence purposes. Both measures were done without public debate or any specific authority from Congress.[192]

A special branch of the NSA called “Follow the Money” (FTM) monitors international payments, banking and credit card transactions and later stores the collected data in the NSA’s own financial databank “Tracfin”.[193] The NSA monitored the communications of Brazil’s president Dilma Rousseff and her top aides.[194] The agency also spied on Brazil’s oil firm Petrobras as well as French diplomats, and gained access to the private network of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of France and the SWIFT network.[195]

In the United States, the NSA uses the analysis of phone call and e-mail logs of American citizens to create sophisticated graphs of their social connections that can identify their associates, their locations at certain times, their traveling companions and other personal information.[196] The NSA routinely shares raw intelligence data with Israel without first sifting it to remove information about U.S. citizens.[7][197]

In an effort codenamed GENIE, computer specialists can control foreign computer networks using “covert implants,” a form of remotely transmitted malware on tens of thousands of devices annually.[198][199][200][201] As worldwide sales of smartphones began exceeding those of feature phones, the NSA decided to take advantage of the smartphone boom. This is particularly advantageous because the smartphone combines a myriad of data that would interest an intelligence agency, such as social contacts, user behavior, interests, location, photos and credit card numbers and passwords.[202]

An internal NSA report from 2010 stated that the spread of the smartphone has been occurring “extremely rapidly”—developments that “certainly complicate traditional target analysis.”[202] According to the document, the NSA has set up task forces assigned to several smartphone manufacturers and operating systems, including Apple Inc.‘s iPhone and iOS operating system, as well as Google‘s Android mobile operating system.[202] Similarly, Britain’s GCHQ assigned a team to study and crack the BlackBerry.[202]

An NSA presentation called “Your target is using a BlackBerry? Now what?” shows an intercepted Mexican government e-mail.

Under the heading “iPhone capability”, the document notes that there are smaller NSA programs, known as “scripts”, that can perform surveillance on 38 different features of the iOS 3 and iOS 4 operating systems. These include the mapping feature, voicemail and photos, as well as Google Earth, Facebook and Yahoo! Messenger.[202]

On September 9, 2013, an internal NSA presentation on iPhone Location Services was published by Der Spiegel. One slide shows scenes from Apple’s 1984-themed television commercial alongside the words “Who knew in 1984…”; another shows Steve Jobs holding an iPhone, with the text “…that this would be big brother…”; and a third shows happy consumers with their iPhones, completing the question with “…and the zombies would be paying customers?”[203]

October

On October 4, 2013, The Washington Post and The Guardian jointly reported that the NSA and GCHQ had made repeated attempts to spy on anonymous Internet users who have been communicating in secret via the anonymity network Tor. Several of these surveillance operations involved the implantation of malicious code into the computers of Tor users who visit particular websites. The NSA and GCHQ had partly succeeded in blocking access to the anonymous network, diverting Tor users to insecure channels. The government agencies were also able to uncover the identity of some anonymous Internet users.[204][205][206][207][208][209][210][211][212]

The Communications Security Establishment Canada (CSEC) has been using a program called Olympia to map the communications of Brazil’s Mines and Energy Ministry by targeting the metadata of phone calls and emails to and from the ministry.[213][214]

The Australian Federal Government knew about the PRISM surveillance program months before Edward Snowden made details public.[215][216]

The NSA gathered hundreds of millions of contact lists from personal e-mail and instant messaging accounts around the world. The agency did not target individuals. Instead it collected contact lists in large numbers that amount to a sizable fraction of the world’s e-mail and instant messaging accounts. Analysis of that data enables the agency to search for hidden connections and to map relationships within a much smaller universe of foreign intelligence targets.[217][218][219][220]

The NSA monitored the public email account of former Mexican president Felipe Calderón (thus gaining access to the communications of high-ranking cabinet members), the emails of several high-ranking members of Mexico’s security forces and text and the mobile phone communication of current Mexican president Enrique Peña Nieto.[221][222] The NSA tries to gather cellular and landline phone numbers—often obtained from American diplomats—for as many foreign officials as possible. The contents of the phone calls are stored in computer databases that can regularly be searched using keywords.[223][224]

The NSA has been monitoring telephone conversations of 35 world leaders.[225] The U.S. government’s first public acknowledgment that it tapped the phones of world leaders was reported on October 28, 2013, by the Wall Street Journal after an internal U.S. government review turned up NSA monitoring of some 35 world leaders.[226]GCHQ has tried to keep its mass surveillance program a secret because it feared a “damaging public debate” on the scale of its activities which could lead to legal challenges against them.[227]

The Guardian revealed that the NSA had been monitoring telephone conversations of 35 world leaders after being given the numbers by an official in another U.S. government department. A confidential memo revealed that the NSA encouraged senior officials in such Departments as the White House, State and The Pentagon, to share their “Rolodexes” so the agency could add the telephone numbers of leading foreign politicians to their surveillance systems. Reacting to the news, German leader Angela Merkel, arriving in Brussels for an EU summit, accused the U.S. of a breach of trust, saying: “We need to have trust in our allies and partners, and this must now be established once again. I repeat that spying among friends is not at all acceptable against anyone, and that goes for every citizen in Germany.”[225] The NSA collected in 2010 data on ordinary Americans’ cellphone locations, but later discontinued it because it had no “operational value.”[228]

Under Britain’s MUSCULAR programme, the NSA and GCHQ have secretly broken into the main communications links that connect Yahoo and Googledata centers around the world and thereby gained the ability to collect metadata and content at will from hundreds of millions of user accounts.[229][230][231][232][233]

The mobile phone of German Chancellor Angela Merkel might have been tapped by U.S. intelligence.[234][235][236][237][238][239][240] According to the Spiegel this monitoring goes back to 2002[241][242][243] and ended in the summer of 2013,[226] while The New York Times reported that Germany has evidence that the NSA’s surveillance of Merkel began during George W. Bush‘s tenure.[244] After learning from Der Spiegel magazine that the NSA has been listening in to her personal mobile phone, Merkel compared the snooping practices of the NSA with those of the Stasi.[245] It was reported in March 2014, by Der Spiegel that Merkel had also been placed on an NSA surveillance list alongside 122 other world leaders.[246]

On October 31, 2013, Hans-Christian Ströbele, a member of the German Bundestag, met Snowden in Moscow and revealed the former intelligence contractor’s readiness to brief the German government on NSA spying.[247]

A highly sensitive signals intelligence collection program known as Stateroom involves the interception of radio, telecommunications and internet traffic. It is operated out of the diplomatic missions of the Five Eyes (Australia, Britain, Canada, New Zealand, United States) in numerous locations around the world. The program conducted at U.S. diplomatic missions is run in concert by the U.S. intelligence agencies NSA and CIA in a joint venture group called “Special Collection Service” (SCS), whose members work undercover in shielded areas of the American Embassies and Consulates, where they are officially accredited as diplomats and as such enjoy special privileges. Under diplomatic protection, they are able to look and listen unhindered. The SCS for example used the American Embassy near the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin to monitor communications in Germany’s government district with its parliament and the seat of the government.[240][248][249][250]

Under the Stateroom surveillance programme, Australia operates clandestine surveillance facilities to intercept phone calls and data across much of Asia.[249][251]

In France, the NSA targeted people belonging to the worlds of business, politics or French state administration. The NSA monitored and recorded the content of telephone communications and the history of the connections of each target i.e. the metadata.[252][253] The actual surveillance operation was performed by French intelligence agencies on behalf of the NSA.[63][254] The cooperation between France and the NSA was confirmed by the Director of the NSA, Keith B. Alexander, who asserted that foreign intelligence services collected phone records in “war zones” and “other areas outside their borders” and provided them to the NSA.[255]

The French newspaper Le Monde also disclosed new PRISM and Upstream slides (See Page 4, 7 and 8) coming from the “PRISM/US-984XN Overview” presentation.[256]

In Spain, the NSA intercepted the telephone conversations, text messages and emails of millions of Spaniards, and spied on members of the Spanish government.[257] Between December 10, 2012 and January 8, 2013, the NSA collected metadata on 60 million telephone calls in Spain.[258]

According to documents leaked by Snowden, the surveillance of Spanish citizens was jointly conducted by the NSA and the intelligence agencies of Spain.[259][260]

On October 4, 2013, The Washington Post published a powerpoint presentation leaked by Snowden, showing how the NSA had compromised the Tor encrypted network that is being employed by hundreds of thousands of people to circumvent “nation state internet policies”. By secretly exploiting a JavaScriptplug-in, the NSA was able to uncover the identities of various anonymous Internet users such as dissidents, terrorists, and other targets

November

The New York Times reported that the NSA carries out an eavesdropping effort, dubbed Operation Dreadnought, against the Iranian leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. During his 2009 visit to Iranian Kurdistan, the agency collaborated with GCHQ and the U.S.’s National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, collecting radio transmissions between aircraft and airports, examining Khamenei’s convoy with satellite imagery, and enumerating military radar stations. According to the story, an objective of the operation is “communications fingerprinting”: the ability to distinguish Khamenei’s communications from those of other people in Iran.[261]

The same story revealed an operation code-named Ironavenger, in which the NSA intercepted e-mails sent between a country allied with the United States and the government of “an adversary”. The ally was conducting a spear-phishing attack: its e-mails contained malware. The NSA gathered documents and login credentials belonging to the enemy country, along with knowledge of the ally’s capabilities for attacking computers.[261]

According to the British newspaper The Independent, the British intelligence agency GCHQ maintains a listening post on the roof of the British Embassy in Berlin that is capable of intercepting mobile phone calls, wi-fi data and long-distance communications all over the German capital, including adjacent government buildings such as the Reichstag (seat of the German parliament) and the Chancellery (seat of Germany’s head of government) clustered around the Brandenburg Gate.[262]

Operating under the code-name “Quantum Insert”, GCHQ set up a fake website masquerading as LinkedIn, a social website used for professional networking, as part of its efforts to install surveillance software on the computers of the telecommunications operator Belgacom.[263][264][265] In addition, the headquarters of the oil cartel OPEC were infiltrated by GCHQ as well as the NSA, which bugged the computers of nine OPEC employees and monitored the General Secretary of OPEC.[263]

For more than three years GCHQ has been using an automated monitoring system code-named “Royal Concierge” to infiltrate the reservation systems of at least 350 upscale hotels in many different parts of the world in order to target, search and analyze reservations to detect diplomats and government officials.[266] First tested in 2010, the aim of the “Royal Concierge” is to track down the travel plans of diplomats, and it is often supplemented with surveillance methods related to human intelligence (HUMINT). Other covert operations include the wiretapping of room telephones and fax machines used in targeted hotels as well as the monitoring of computers hooked up to the hotel network.[266]

In November 2013, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation and The Guardian revealed that the Australian Signals Directorate (DSD) had attempted to listen to the private phone calls of the president of Indonesia and his wife. The Indonesian foreign minister, Marty Natalegawa, confirmed that he and the president had contacted the ambassador in Canberra. Natalegawa said any tapping of Indonesian politicians’ personal phones “violates every single decent and legal instrument I can think of—national in Indonesia, national in Australia, international as well”.[267]

Other high-ranking Indonesian politicians targeted by the DSD include:

Carrying the title “3G impact and update”, a classified presentation leaked by Snowden revealed the attempts of the ASD/DSD to keep up to pace with the rollout of 3G technology in Indonesia and across Southeast Asia. The ASD/DSD motto placed at the bottom of each page reads: “Reveal their secrets—protect our own.”[268]

Under a secret deal approved by British intelligence officials, the NSA has been storing and analyzing the internet and email records of UK citizens since 2007. The NSA also proposed in 2005 a procedure for spying on the citizens of the UK and other Five-Eyes nations alliance, even where the partner government has explicitly denied the U.S. permission to do so. Under the proposal, partner countries must neither be informed about this particular type of surveillance, nor the procedure of doing so.[39]

Towards the end of November, The New York Times released an internal NSA report outlining the agency’s efforts to expand its surveillance abilities.[269] The five-page document asserts that the law of the United States has not kept up with the needs of the NSA to conduct mass surveillance in the “golden age” of signals intelligence, but there are grounds for optimism because, in the NSA’s own words:

“The culture of compliance, which has allowed the American people to entrust NSA with extraordinary authorities, will not be compromised in the face of so many demands, even as we aggressively pursue legal authorities…”[270]

The report, titled “SIGINT Strategy 2012–2016″, also said that the U.S. will try to influence the “global commercial encryption market” through “commercial relationships”, and emphasized the need to “revolutionize” the analysis of its vast data collection to “radically increase operational impact”.[269]

On November 23, 2013, the Dutch newspaper NRC Handelsblad reported that the Netherlands was targeted by U.S. intelligence agencies in the immediate aftermath of World War II. This period of surveillance lasted from 1946 to 1968, and also included the interception of the communications of other European countries including Belgium, France, West Germany and Norway.[271] The Dutch Newspaper also reported that NSA infected more than 50,000 computer networks worldwide, often covertly, with malicious spy software, sometimes in cooperation with local authorities, designed to steal sensitive information.[42][272]

On November 23, 2013, the Dutch newspaper NRC Handelsblad released a top secret NSA presentation leaked by Snowden, showing five “Classes of Accesses” that the NSA uses in its worldwide signals intelligence operations.[42][272] These five “Classes of Accesses” are:

 3rd PARTY/LIAISON—refers to data provided by the international partners of the NSA. Within the framework of the UKUSA Agreement, these international partners are known as “third parties”.
 REGIONAL—refers to over 80 regional Special Collection Services (SCS). The SCS is a black budget program operated by the NSA and the CIA, with operations based in many cities such as Athens, Bangkok, Berlin, Brasília, Budapest, Frankfurt, Geneva, Lagos, Milan, New Delhi, Paris, Prague, Vienna, and Zagreb, and others, targeting Central America, the Arabian Peninsula, East Asia, and Continental Europe.
 CNE—an abbreviation for “Computer Network Exploitation“. It is performed by a special cyber-warfare unit of the NSA known as Tailored Access Operations (TAO), which infected over 50,000 computer networks worldwide with malicious software designed to steal sensitive information, and is mostly aimed at Brazil, China, Egypt, India, Mexico, Saudi Arabia, and parts of Eastern Europe
 LARGE CABLE—20 major points of accesses, many of them located within the United States
 FORNSAT—an abbreviation for “Foreign Satellite Collection”. It refers to intercepts from satellites that process data used by other countries such as Britain, Norway, Japan, and the Philippines.

December

According to the classified documents leaked by Snowden, the Australian Signals Directorate (ASD), formerly known as the Defence Signals Directorate, had offered to share intelligence information it had collected with the other intelligence agencies of the UKUSA Agreement. Data shared with foreign countries include “bulk, unselected, unminimised metadata” it had collected. The ASD provided such information on the condition that no Australian citizens were targeted. At the time the ASD assessed that “unintentional collection [of metadata of Australian nationals] is not viewed as a significant issue”. If a target was later identified as being an Australian national, the ASD was required to be contacted to ensure that a warrant could be sought. Consideration was given as to whether “medical, legal or religious information” would be automatically treated differently to other types of data, however a decision was made that each agency would make such determinations on a case-by-case basis.[273] Leaked material does not specify where the ASD had collected the intelligence information from, however Section 7(a) of the Intelligence Services Act 2001 (Commonwealth) states that the ASD’s role is “…to obtain intelligence about the capabilities, intentions or activities of people or organisations outside Australia…”.[274] As such, it is possible ASD’s metadata intelligence holdings was focused on foreign intelligence collection and was within the bounds of Australian law.

The Washington Post revealed that the NSA has been tracking the locations of mobile phones from all over the world by tapping into the cables that connect mobile networks globally and that serve U.S. cellphones as well as foreign ones. In the process of doing so, the NSA collects more than five billion records of phone locations on a daily basis. This enables NSA analysts to map cellphone owners’ relationships by correlating their patterns of movement over time with thousands or millions of other phone users who cross their paths.[275][276][277][278][279][280][281][282]

The Washington Post also reported that both GCHQ and the NSA make use of location data and advertising tracking files generated through normal internet browsing (with cookies operated by Google, known as “Pref”) to pinpoint targets for government hacking and to bolster surveillance.[283][284][285]

The Norwegian Intelligence Service (NIS), which cooperates with the NSA, has gained access to Russian targets in the Kola Peninsula and other civilian targets. In general, the NIS provides information to the NSA about “Politicians”, “Energy” and “Armament”.[286] A top secret memo of the NSA lists the following years as milestones of the Norway–United States of America SIGINT agreement, or NORUS Agreement:

The NSA considers the NIS to be one of its most reliable partners. Both agencies also cooperate to crack the encryption systems of mutual targets. According to the NSA, Norway has made no objections to its requests from the NIS.[287]

On December 5, Sveriges Television reported the National Defence Radio Establishment (FRA) has been conducting a clandestine surveillance operation in Sweden, targeting the internal politics of Russia. The operation was conducted on behalf of the NSA, receiving data handed over to it by the FRA.[288][289] The Swedish-American surveillance operation also targeted Russian energy interests as well as the Baltic states.[290] As part of the UKUSA Agreement, a secret treaty was signed in 1954 by Sweden with the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia and New Zealand, regarding collaboration and intelligence sharing.[291]

As a result of Snowden’s disclosures, the notion of Swedish neutrality in international politics was called into question.[citation needed] In an internal document dating from the year 2006, the NSA acknowledged that its “relationship” with Sweden is “protected at the TOP SECRET level because of that nation’s political neutrality.”[292] Specific details of Sweden’s cooperation with members of the UKUSA Agreement include:

  • The FRA has been granted access to XKeyscore, an analytical database of the NSA.[293]
  • Sweden updated the NSA on changes in Swedish legislation that provided the legal framework for information sharing between the FRA and the Swedish Security Service.[52]
  • Since January 2013, a counterterrorism analyst of the NSA has been stationed in the Swedish capital of Stockholm[52]
  • The NSA, GCHQ and the FRA signed an agreement in 2004 that allows the FRA to directly collaborate with the NSA without having to consult GCHQ.[52] About five years later, the Riksdag passed a controversial legislative change, briefly allowing the FRA to monitor both wireless and cable bound signals passing the Swedish border without a court order,[294] while also introducing several provisions designed to protect the privacy of individuals, according to the original proposal.[295] This legislation was amended 11 months later,[296] in an effort to strengthen protection of privacy by making court orders a requirement, and by imposing several limits on the intelligence-gathering.[297][298][299]

According to documents leaked by Snowden, the Special Source Operations of the NSA has been sharing information containing “logins, cookies, and GooglePREFID” with the Tailored Access Operations division of the NSA, as well as Britain’s GCHQ agency.[300]

During the 2010 G-20 Toronto summit, the U.S. embassy in Ottawa was transformed into a security command post during a six-day spying operation that was conducted by the NSA and closely coordinated with the Communications Security Establishment Canada (CSEC). The goal of the spying operation was, among others, to obtain information on international development, banking reform, and to counter trade protectionism to support “U.S. policy goals.”[301] On behalf of the NSA, the CSEC has set up covert spying posts in 20 countries around the world.[10]

In Italy the Special Collection Service of the NSA maintains two separate surveillance posts in Rome and Milan.[302] According to a secret NSA memo dated September 2010, the Italian embassy in Washington, D.C. has been targeted by two spy operations of the NSA:

  • Under the codename “Bruneau”, which refers to mission “Lifesaver”, the NSA sucks out all the information stored in the embassy’s computers and creates electronic images of hard disk drives.[302]
  • Under the codename “Hemlock”, which refers to mission “Highlands”, the NSA gains access to the embassy’s communications through physical “implants”.[302]

Due to concerns that terrorist or criminal networks may be secretly communicating via computer games, the NSA, GCHQ, CIA, and FBI have been conducting surveillance and scooping up data from the networks of many online games, including massively multiplayer online role-playing games (MMORPGs) such as World of Warcraft, as well as virtual worlds such as Second Life, and the Xbox gaming console.[303][304][305][306]

The NSA has cracked the most commonly used cellphone encryption technology, A5/1. According to a classified document leaked by Snowden, the agency can “process encrypted A5/1” even when it has not acquired an encryption key.[307] In addition, the NSA uses various types of cellphone infrastructure, such as the links between carrier networks, to determine the location of a cellphone user tracked by Visitor Location Registers.[308]

US district court judge for the District of Columbia, Richard Leon, declared[309][310][311][312][313][314] on December 16, 2013, that the mass collection of metadata of Americans’ telephone records by the National Security Agency probably violates the fourth amendment prohibition of unreasonable searches and seizures.[315] Leon granted the request for a preliminary injunction that blocks the collection of phone data for two private plaintiffs (Larry Klayman, a conservative lawyer, and Charles Strange, father of a cryptologist killed in Afghanistan when his helicopter was shot down in 2011)[316] and ordered the government to destroy any of their records that have been gathered. But the judge stayed action on his ruling pending a government appeal, recognizing in his 68-page opinion the “significant national security interests at stake in this case and the novelty of the constitutional issues.”[315]

However federal judge William H. Pauley III in New York City ruled[317] the U.S. government’s global telephone data-gathering system is needed to thwart potential terrorist attacks, and that it can only work if everyone’s calls are swept in. U.S. District Judge Pauley also ruled that Congress legally set up the program and that it does not violate anyone’s constitutional rights. The judge also concluded that the telephone data being swept up by NSA did not belong to telephone users, but to the telephone companies. He further ruled that when NSA obtains such data from the telephone companies, and then probes into it to find links between callers and potential terrorists, this further use of the data was not even a search under the Fourth Amendment. He also concluded that the controlling precedent is Smith v. Maryland: “Smith’s bedrock holding is that an individual has no legitimate expectation of privacy in information provided to third parties,” Judge Pauley wrote.[318][319][320][321] The American Civil Liberties Union declared on January 2, 2012 that it will appeal Judge Pauley’s ruling that NSA bulk the phone record collection is legal. “The government has a legitimate interest in tracking the associations of suspected terrorists, but tracking those associations does not require the government to subject every citizen to permanent surveillance,” deputy ACLU legal director Jameel Jaffer said in a statement.[322]

In recent years, American and British intelligence agencies conducted surveillance on more than 1,100 targets, including the office of an Israeli prime minister, heads of international aid organizations, foreign energy companies and a European Union official involved in antitrust battles with American technology businesses.[323]

A catalog of high-tech gadgets and software developed by the NSA’sTailored Access Operations (TAO) was leaked by the German news magazine Der Spiegel.[324] Dating from 2008, the catalog revealed the existence of special gadgets modified to capture computer screenshots and USB flash drives secretly fitted with radio transmitters to broadcast stolen data over the airwaves, and fake base stations intended to intercept mobile phone signals, as well as many other secret devices and software implants listed here:

The Tailored Access Operations (TAO) division of the NSA intercepted the shipping deliveries of computers and laptops in order to install spyware and physical implants on electronic gadgets. This was done in close cooperation with the FBI and the CIA.[324][325][326][327][328][329][330] NSA officials responded to the Spiegel reports with a statement, which said: “Tailored Access Operations is a unique national asset that is on the front lines of enabling NSA to defend the nation and its allies. [TAO’s] work is centred on computer network exploitation in support of foreign intelligence collection.”[331]

In a separate disclosure unrelated to Snowden, the French Trésor public, which runs a certificate authority, was found to have issued fake certificates impersonating Google in order to facilitate spying on French government employees via man-in-the-middle attacks.[332]

On December 4, 2013, The Washington Post released an internal NSA chart illustrating the extent of the agency’s mass collection of mobile phone location records, which amounts to about five billion on a daily basis.[275] The records are stored in a huge database known as FASCIA, which received over 27 terabytes of location data within seven months.[333]

2014

January

The NSA is working to build a powerful quantum computer capable of breaking all types of encryption.[334][335][336][337][338] The effort is part of a US$79.7 million research program known as “Penetrating Hard Targets”. It involves extensive research carried out in large, shielded rooms known as Faraday cages, which are designed to prevent electromagnetic radiation from entering or leaving.[335] Currently, the NSA is close to producing basic building blocks that will allow the agency to gain “complete quantum control on two semiconductorqubits“.[335] Once a quantum computer is successfully built, it would enable the NSA to unlock the encryption that protects data held by banks, credit card companies, retailers, brokerages, governments and health care providers.[334]

According to The New York Times, the NSA is monitoring approximately 100,000 computers worldwide with spy software named Quantum. Quantum enables the NSA to conduct surveillance on those computers on the one hand, and can also create a digital highway for launching cyberattacks on the other hand. Among the targets are the Chinese and Russian military, but also trade institutions within the European Union. The NYT also reported that the NSA can access and alter computers which are not connected with the internet by a secret technology in use by the NSA since 2008. The prerequisite is the physical insertion of the radio frequency hardware by a spy, a manufacturer or an unwitting user. The technology relies on a covert channel of radio waves that can be transmitted from tiny circuit boards and USB cards inserted surreptitiously into the computers. In some cases, they are sent to a briefcase-size relay station that intelligence agencies can set up miles away from the target. The technology can also transmit malware back to the infected computer.[42]

Channel 4 and The Guardian revealed the existence of Dishfire, a massive database of the NSA that collects hundreds of millions of text messages on a daily basis.[339] GCHQ has been given full access to the database, which it uses to obtain personal information of Britons by exploiting a legal loophole.[340]

Each day, the database receives and stores the following amounts of data:

  • Geolocation data of more than 76,000 text messages and other travel information[341]
  • Over 110,000 names, gathered from electronic business cards[341]
  • Over 800,000 financial transactions that are either gathered from text-to-text payments or by linking credit cards to phone users[341]
  • Details of 1.6 million border crossings based on the interception of network roaming alerts[341]
  • Over 5 million missed call alerts[341]
  • About 200 million text messages from around the world[339]

The database is supplemented with an analytical tool known as the Prefer program, which processes SMS messages to extract other types of information including contacts from missed call alerts.[341]

The Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board report on mass surveillance was released on January 23, 2014. It recommends to end the bulk telephone metadata, i.e., bulk phone records – phone numbers dialed, call times and durations, but not call content collection – collection program, to create a “Special Advocate” to be involved in some cases before the FISA court judge and to release future and past FISC decisions “that involve novel interpretations of FISA or other significant questions of law, technology or compliance.”[342][343][344]

According to a joint disclosure by The New York Times, The Guardian, and ProPublica,[345][346][347][348][349] the NSA and GCHQ have begun working together to collect and store data from dozens of smartphoneapplication software by 2007 at the latest. A 2008 GCHQ report, leaked by Snowden asserts that “anyone using Google Maps on a smartphone is working in support of a GCHQ system”. The NSA and GCHQ have traded recipes for various purposes such as grabbing location data and journey plans that are made when a target uses Google Maps, and vacuuming up address books, buddy lists, phone logs and geographic data embedded in photos posted on the mobile versions of numerous social networks such as Facebook, Flickr, LinkedIn, Twitter and other services. In a separate 20-page report dated 2012, GCHQ cited the popular smartphone game “Angry Birds” as an example of how an application could be used to extract user data. Taken together, such forms of data collection would allow the agencies to collect vital information about a user’s life, including his or her home country, current location (through geolocation), age, gender, ZIP code, marital status, income, ethnicity, sexual orientation, education level, number of children, etc.[350][351]

A GCHQ document dated August 2012 provided details of the Squeaky Dolphin surveillance program, which enables GCHQ to conduct broad, real-time monitoring of various social media features and social media traffic such as YouTube video views, the Like button on Facebook, and Blogspot/Blogger visits without the knowledge or consent of the companies providing those social media features. The agency’s “Squeaky Dolphin” program can collect, analyze and utilize YouTube, Facebook and Blogger data in specific situations in real time for analysis purposes. The program also collects the addresses from the billions of videos watched daily as well as some user information for analysis purposes.[352][353][354]

During the 2009 United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen, the NSA and its Five Eyes partners monitored the communications of delegates of numerous countries. This was done to give their own policymakers a negotiating advantage.[355][356]

The Communications Security Establishment Canada (CSEC) has been tracking Canadian air passengers via free Wi-Fi services at a major Canadian airport. Passengers who exited the airport terminal continued to be tracked as they showed up at other Wi-Fi locations across Canada. In a CSEC document dated May 2012, the agency described how it had gained access to two communications systems with over 300,000 users in order to pinpoint a specific imaginary target. The operation was executed on behalf of the NSA as a trial run to test a new technology capable of tracking down “any target that makes occasional forays into other cities/regions.” This technology was subsequently shared with Canada’s Five Eyes partners – Australia, New Zealand, Britain, and the United States.[357][358][359][360]

On January 27, 2014, The New York Times released[347] an internal NSA document from a 2010 meeting that details the extent of the agency’s surveillance on smartphones. Data collected include phone settings, network connections, Web browsing history, buddy lists, downloaded documents, encryption usage, and user agents. Notice the following line of text at the bottom – “TOP SECRET//COMINT//REL TO USA, FVEY” – which is used to indicated that this top secret document is related to communications intelligence (COMINT), and can be accessed by the USA and its Five Eyes (FVEY) partners in Australia, Britain, Canada, and New Zealand

February

According to research by Süddeutsche Zeitung and TV network NDR the mobile phone of former German chancellor Gerhard Schröder was monitored from 2002 onwards, reportedly because of his government’s opposition to military intervention in Iraq. The source of the latest information is a document leaked by Edward Snowden. The document, containing information about the National Sigint Requirement List (NSRL), had previously been interpreted as referring only to Angela Merkel‘s mobile. However Süddeutsche Zeitung and NDR claim to have confirmation from NSA insiders that the surveillance authorisation pertains not to the individual, but the political post – which in 2002 was still held by Schröder. According to research by the two media outlets, Schröder was placed as number 388 on the list, which contains the names of persons and institutions to be put under surveillance by the NSA.[361][362][363][364]

GCHQ launched a cyber-attack on the activist network “Anonymous“, using denial-of-service attack (DoS) to shut down a chatroom frequented by the network’s members and to spy on them. The attack, dubbed Rolling Thunder, was conducted by a GCHQ unit known as the Joint Threat Research Intelligence Group (JTRIG). The unit successfully uncovered the true identities of several Anonymous members.[365][366][367][368]

The NSA Section 215 bulk telephony metadata program which seeks to stockpile records on all calls made in the U.S. is collecting less than 30 percent of all Americans’ call records because of an inability to keep pace with the explosion in cellphone use according to the Washington Post. The controversial program permits the NSA after a warrant granted by the secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court to record numbers, length and location of every call from the participating carriers.[369][370]

The Intercept reported that the U.S. government is using primarily NSA surveillance to target people for drone strikes overseas. In its report The Intercept author detail the flawed methods which are used to locate targets for lethal drone strikes, resulting in the deaths of innocent people.[371] According to the Washington Post NSA analysts and collectors i.e. NSA personnel which controls electronic surveillance equipment use the NSA’s sophisticated surveillance capabilities to track individual targets geographically and in real time, while drones and tactical units aimed their weaponry against those targets to take them out.[372]

An unnamed US law firm, reported to be Mayer Brown, was targeted by Australia’s ASD. According to Snowden’s documents, the ASD had offered to hand over these intercepted communications to the NSA. This allowed government authorities to be “able to continue to cover the talks, providing highly useful intelligence for interested US customers”.[373][374]

NSA and GCHQ documents revealed that the anti-secrecy organization WikiLeaks and other activist groups were targeted for government surveillance and criminal prosecution. In particular, the IP addresses of visitors to WikiLeaks were collected in real time, and the US government urged its allies to file criminal charges against the founder of WikiLeaks, Julian Assange, due to his organization’s publication of the Afghanistan war logs. The WikiLeaks organization was designated as a “malicious foreign actor”.[375]

Quoting an unnamed NSA official in Germany, Bild am Sonntag reported that whilst President Obama’s order to stop spying on Merkel was being obeyed, the focus had shifted to bugging other leading government and business figures including Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere, a close confidant of Merkel. Caitlin Hayden, a security adviser to President Obama, was quoted in the newspaper report as saying, “The US has made clear it gathers intelligence in exactly the same way as any other states.”[376][377]

The Intercept reveals that government agencies are infiltrating online communities and engaging in “false flag operations” to discredit targets among them people who have nothing to do with terrorism or national security threats. The two main tactics that are currently used are the injection of all sorts of false material onto the internet in order to destroy the reputation of its targets; and the use of social sciences and other techniques to manipulate online discourse and activism to generate outcomes it considers desirable.[378][379][380][381]

The Guardian reported that Britain’s surveillance agency GCHQ, with aid from the National Security Agency, intercepted and stored the webcam images of millions of internet users not suspected of wrongdoing. The surveillance program codenamed Optic Nerve collected still images of Yahoo webcam chats (one image every five minutes) in bulk and saved them to agency databases. The agency discovered “that a surprising number of people use webcam conversations to show intimate parts of their body to the other person”, estimating that between 3% and 11% of the Yahoo webcam imagery harvested by GCHQ contains “undesirable nudity”.[382]

March

The NSA has built an infrastructure which enables it to covertly hack into computers on a mass scale by using automated systems that reduce the level of human oversight in the process. The NSA relies on an automated system codenamed TURBINE which in essence enables the automated management and control of a large network of implants (a form of remotely transmitted malware on selected individual computer devices or in bulk on tens of thousands of devices). As quoted by The Intercept, TURBINE is designed to “allow the current implant network to scale to large size (millions of implants) by creating a system that does automated control implants by groups instead of individually.”[383] The NSA has shared many of its files on the use of implants with its counterparts in the so-called Five Eyes surveillance alliance – the United Kingdom, Canada, New Zealand, and Australia.

Among other things due to TURBINE and its control over the implants the NSA is capable of:

  • breaking into targeted computers and to siphoning out data from foreign Internet and phone networks
  • infecting a target’s computer and exfiltrating files from a hard drive
  • covertly recording audio from a computer’s microphone and taking snapshots with its webcam
  • launching cyberattacks by corrupting and disrupting file downloads or denying access to websites
  • exfiltrating data from removable flash drives that connect to an infected computer