Like FBI, CIA Has Used Secret ‘Letters’

For three years, the Bush administration has drawn fire from civil liberties groups over its use of national security letters, a kind of administrative subpoena that compels private businesses such as telecommunications companies to turn over information to the government. After the 2001 USA Patriot Act loosened the guidelines, the FBI issued tens of thousands of such requests, something critics say amounts to warrantless spying on Americans who have not been charged with crimes.Now, newly released documents shed light on the use of the letters by the CIA. The spy agency has employed them to obtain financial information about U.S. residents and does so under extraordinary secrecy, according to the American Civil Liberties Union, which obtained copies of CIA letters under the Freedom of Information Act.

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War pimp alert: Now the Saudis tool up for war

The White House line that Iraq’s extremists are all backed by Iran is a myth, writes robert fox
T his weekend, buyers from across the Gulf states and the Middle East will descend on a huge arms fair in Dubai. Sheikhs, emirs, princes and kings will be buying anything from specialised sniper ammunition by the ton, to the highest-tech surveillance gear and even the odd British Aerospace gunboat or Eurofighter.The Arab world will use the International Defence Exhibition (IDEX), to tool up for a coming confrontation with Iran, and to arm Sunni insurgents to fight Iran’s allies in Iraq, the Shia militias.

Even the Bush administration will now admit, under its collective breath of course, that Iraq is in the throes of a full-blown civil war between armed groups of its Sunni and Shia Arab communities, triggered a year ago by the destruction of the al-Laskar mosque in Samara, a revered Shia shrine.
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US quietly demands Iraq give defense contractors, US military immunity from prosecution

US officials are dragooning Iraq into accepting immunity for US civilian contractors in new negotiations with the Iraqi government just months after a feud over a private defense contractor exploded into an international outcry.

The Bush administration insists that Baghdad give the US “broad authority to conduct combat operations and guarantee civilian contractors specific legal protections from Iraqi law, according to administration and military officials,” a front page story in Friday’s New York Times reports.

The Administration’s proposed security agreement would replace the current United Nations mandate authorizing the US presence in Iraq, which is set to expire Dec. 31, 2008.

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War pimp alert: Over 40 Russian planes to take part in naval drills in Atlantic

MOSCOW, January 24 (RIA Novosti) – Over 40 aircraft of Russia’s Air Force will take part in the final stage of a naval exercise in the Atlantic later this month, an aide to the Air Force commander said on Thursday.

“The Air Force will play an active role in the final stage of the naval task force exercises. Over 40 planes will be employed from January 28 to February 1,” Alexander Drobyshevsky said.

He said Tu-160 Blackjacks, Tu-95MS Bears, Tu-22M3 Backfire C strategic bombers, A-50 Mainstay airborne early warning aircraft, Il-78 Midas aerial tankers, MiG-31 Foxhound long-range interceptors and Su-27 Flanker frontline fighter aircraft will participate in the drills.

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