In 1975 Senator Frank Church convened a joint senatorial/congressional inquiry into the egregious human rights and civil liberties violations of the Central Intelligence Agency (“CIA”), National Security Agency (“NSA”), as well as the Federal Bureau of Investigation (“FBI”) against people both foreign and domestic. Such blatant transgressions included the “neutralization” and “elimination” of political dissidents, “enemies of the state,” real or imagined threats to National Security, and anyone else on the proverbial shit list of the Military Industrial Complex (“MIC”).
The Church Committee was the United States Senate Select Committee to Study Governmental Operations with Respect to Intelligence Activities, a U.S. Senate committee chaired by Senator Frank Church (D ID) in 1975. A precursor to the U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, the committee investigated intelligence gathering for illegality by the aforementioned agencies after certain activities had been revealed by the Watergate affair.
Some famous examples which have since emerged include: (1) the FBI sending letters to Martin Luther King Jr encouraging him to kill himself or else they would tell the world about his sexual proclivities; (2) the planned or successful assassinations of foreign leaders such as Fidel Castro, Patrice Lumumba, and countless other South American, Middle Eastern or Asian leaders; (3) the wholesale undermining of entire foreign economies if they democratically elected someone at odds with the elite power structure deep state of the United States such as what occurred against Salvatore Allende of Guatemala; (4) the possible assassination of John F Kennedy; (5) revelations of Christopher Pyle in January 1970 of the U.S. Army’s spying on the civilian population; (6) the December 22, 1974 New York Times article by Seymour Hersh detailing operations engaged in by the CIA over the years that had been dubbed the “family jewels,” involving covert action programs involving assassination attempts against foreign leaders and covert attempts to subvert foreign governments were reported for the first time; (7) efforts by intelligence agencies to collect information on the political activities of US citizens; and (8) countless other examples, both overseas and domestically.
The end result of the Church Committee Hearings was the outright banning on CIA assassinations as well as the FBI/DOJ COINTELPRO gang-stalking programs. In 1975 and 1976, the Church Committee published fourteen reports on various U.S. intelligence agencies’ formation, operations, and the alleged abuses of law and of power that they had committed, with recommendations for reform, some of which were later put in place.
Among the other matters investigated were attempts to assassinate other foreign leaders such as Rafael Trujillo of the Dominican Republic, the Diem brothers of Vietnam, Gen. René Schneider of Chile, and Director of CIA Allen Dulles’s plan (approved by President Dwight Eisenhower) to use the Sicilian Mafia to kill Fidel Castro of Cuba.
Under recommendations and pressure by this committee, President Gerald Ford issued Executive Order 11905 (ultimately replaced in 1981 by President Reagan’s Executive Order 12333) to ban U.S. sanctioned assassinations of foreign leaders.
Together, the Church Committee’s reports have been said to constitute the most extensive review of intelligence activities ever made available to the public. Much of the contents were classified, but over 50,000 pages were declassified under the President John F. Kennedy Assassination Records Collection Act of 1992.
The Church Committee learned that beginning in the 1950s, the CIA and FBI intercepted, opened, and photographed more than 215,000 pieces of mail by the time the program was shut down. The Church report found that the CIA was zealous about keeping the US Postal Service from learning that mail was being opened by government agents. CIA agents moved mail to a private room to open the mail or in some cases opened envelopes at night after stuffing them in briefcases or coat pockets to deceive postal officials.
On May 9, 1975, the Church Committee called CIA director William Colby. That same day Ford’s top advisers (Henry Kissinger, Donald Rumsfeld, Philip W. Buchen, and John Marsh) drafted a recommendation that Colby be authorized to brief only rather than testify, and that he would be told to discuss only the general subject, with details of specific covert actions to be avoided except for realistic hypotheticals. But the Church Committee had full authority to call a hearing and require Colby’s testimony. Ford and his top advisers met with Colby to prepare him for the hearing.
The Ford administration, particularly Rumsfeld, was “concerned” about the effort by members of the Church Committee in the Senate and the Pike Committee in the House to curtail the power of U.S. intelligence agencies. It seemed that Rumsfeld et al was comfortable giving the power to arbitrarily destroy anyone as “enemies of the state” by anyone working in the IC and MIC.
COINTELPRO (COunter INTELligence PROgram) was a series of covert and illegal projects conducted by the FBI aimed at surveilling, infiltrating, discrediting, and disrupting domestic “political dissidents.”
FBI records show that COINTELPRO resources targeted groups and individuals that the FBI deemed subversive, including anti Vietnam War organizers, activists of the Civil Rights Movement or Black Power movement (e.g., Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Black Panther Party), feminist organizations, anti colonial movements (such as Puerto Rican independence groups like the Young Lords), and a variety of organizations that were part of the broader New Left.
FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover issued directives on COINTELPRO, ordering FBI agents to “expose, disrupt, misdirect, discredit, neutralize or otherwise eliminate” the activities of these movements and especially their leaders. Under Hoover, the agent in charge of COINTELPRO was William C. Sullivan.
Tactics included anonymous phone calls, IRS audits, and the creation of documents that would divide their targets internally.
After the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, Hoover singled out King as a major target for COINTELPRO. Under pressure from Hoover to focus on King, Sullivan wrote: “In the light of King’s powerful demagogic speech, we must mark him now, if we have not done so before, as the most dangerous Negro of the future in this nation from the standpoint of communism, the Negro, and national security.”
The Final Report of the Select Frank Church Committee blasted the behavior of the intelligence community in its domestic operations (including COINTELPRO) in no uncertain terms:
“The Committee finds that the domestic activities of the intelligence community at times violated specific statutory prohibitions and infringed the constitutional rights of American citizens. The legal questions involved in intelligence programs were often not considered. On other occasions, they were intentionally disregarded in the belief that because the programs served the “national security” the law did not apply. While intelligence officers on occasion failed to disclose to their superiors programs which were illegal or of questionable legality, the Committee finds that the most serious breaches of duty were those of senior officials, who were responsible for controlling intelligence activities and generally failed to assure compliance with the law. Many of the techniques used would be intolerable in a democratic society even if all of the targets had been involved in violent activity, but COINTELPRO went far beyond that – the Bureau conducted a sophisticated vigilante operation aimed squarely at preventing the exercise of First Amendment rights of speech and association, on the theory that preventing the growth of dangerous groups and the propagation of dangerous ideas would protect the national security and deter violence.”
According to attorney Brian Glick in his book War at Home, the FBI used four main methods during COINTELPRO:
(1) Infiltration: Agents and informers did not merely spy on political activists. Their main purpose was to discredit and disrupt. Their very presence served to undermine trust and scare off potential supporters. The FBI and police exploited this fear to smear genuine activists as agents;
(2) Psychological warfare: The FBI and police used myriad “dirty tricks” to undermine progressive movements. They planted false media stories and published bogus leaflets and other publications in the name of targeted groups. They forged correspondence, sent anonymous letters, and made anonymous telephone calls. They spread misinformation about meetings and events, set up pseudo movement groups run by government agents, and manipulated or strong armed parents, employers, landlords, school officials and others to cause trouble for activists. They used bad jacketing to create suspicion about targeted activists, sometimes with lethal consequences;
(3) Harassment via the legal system: The FBI and police abused the legal system to harass dissidents and make them appear to be criminals. Officers of the law gave perjured testimony and presented fabricated evidence as a pretext for false arrests and wrongful imprisonment. They discriminatorily enforced tax laws and other government regulations and used conspicuous surveillance, “investigative” interviews, and grand jury subpoenas in an effort to intimidate activists and silence their supporters;
(4) Illegal force: The FBI conspired with local police departments to threaten dissidents; to conduct illegal break ins in order to search dissident homes; and to commit vandalism, assaults, beatings and assassinations. The object was to frighten or eliminate dissidents and disrupt their movements.
The FBI specifically developed tactics intended to heighten tension and hostility between various factions in their targeted groups and individuals, and this resulted in numerous deaths, among which were San Diego Black Panther Party members John Huggins, Bunchy Carter and Sylvester Bell.
While COINTELPRO was officially terminated in April 1971, critics allege that continuing FBI actions indicate that post COINTELPRO reforms did not succeed in ending COINTELPRO tactics.
ENTER THE “COPS” FEDERAL AND STATE SANCTIONED GANG-STALKING PROGRAM
“Community Oriented Policing,” (“COPS”) is a strategy of policing that focuses on police “building ties and working closely with members of the communities,” and originated in 1994 when then Senator Joseph Biden wrote and then President Bill Clinton enacted the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act (“VCCLEA”) establishing the Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (“COPS”) within the US Department of Justice.
Community policing is supposedly a policy that requires police to engage in a “proactive approach” to address public safety concerns, and is a cornerstone of the Clinton Administration, gaining its funding from the 1994 Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act.
Common implementations of community policing include: (1) relying on community based crime prevention by utilizing “civilian education,” neighborhood watch, and a variety of other techniques, as opposed to relying solely on police patrols; (2) restructuring the patrol from an emergency response based system to emphasizing proactive techniques such as foot patrol; (3) increased officer accountability to civilians they are “supposed to serve;” and (4) decentralizing police authority, allowing more discretion amongst lower ranking officers, and more initiative expected from them.
In other words, federal and state sanctioned and approved GANG-STALKING.
Gang Stalking has been described as fascism, using East Germany style “Stasi Tactics,” a systemic form of control, which seeks to control every aspect of a “Targeted Individual’s” life. Gang Stalking has many similarities to workplace mobbing, but takes place outside in the community, where the target is followed around and placed under surveillance by groups of organized civilian spies/snitches 24/7, 365 days a year. Targeted Individuals are harassed in this way for months or years before they realize that they are being targeted by an organized program of gang-stalking harassment. This is very similar to what happened to many innocent individuals in the former East Germany or activists and dissidents in the former Soviet Union. Many innocent people in the former East Germany would be targeted for these harassment programs, and then their friends, family, and the community at large would be used to monitor, prosecute, and harass them. In the former USSR it was used by the state to target activists, political dissidents, or anyone that the Secret Police thought was an “enemy of the state,” or as “mentally unfit,” and many were institutionalized or murdered using this form of systematic control.
In Bill Clinton’s COPS Gang-Stalking Program, civilian spies are recruited from every segment of society, and everyone in the “targets” life is made a part of this ongoing, continuous, and systematic form of control and harassment, with such actions that are specifically designed to control the target and to “keep them in line,” like a Pavlovian Dog. These actions are also designed to mentally, physically, emotionally, spiritually, financially, socially, and psychologically destroy the target over years, to make them appear to be crazy, and leave them with no form of support, whatsoever.
For the targets of this harassment, COPS Gang Stalking is experienced as a covert psychological, emotional and physical attack that is capable of immobilizing and destroying a target over time. For the state, it is a way to keep their targets in line, control them, or ultimately destroy them.
This modern day systematic form of control is funded at the highest levels of government, just like it has in other societies where these similar types of harassment programs have been implemented.
Targets can be chosen for many reasons: (1) political views; (2) whistle blowing; (3) political dissidence; (4) asserting rights at work; (5) making the wrong enemy; (6) too outspoken; (7) investigating something that the state does not want investigated; (8) signing a petition; (9) writing a letter; (10) being “suspicious” by a civilian spy/snitch; or (11) being a religious/ethnic/racial minority.
The goal of the COPS state sanctioned organized gang-stalking program is to isolate the target from all forms of support, so that the target can be set up in the future for arrest, institutionalized, or forced suicide. Other goals of this harassment are to destroy the targets reputation and credibility, and to make the target look “crazy” or unstable.
The process often involves sensitizing the target to every day stimuli’s as a form of control, which is used to control targets when they “get out of line.” Targets of this harassment become vulnerable and destitute, and often become homeless, jobless, have a breakdown, are driven to suicide, similar to targets of the banned COINTELPRO. The government eliminates perceived “enemies of the state” in this manner.
When a target moves or changes jobs, the harassment continues.
Every time the target moves, the same defamation, lies, libel, and slander will be spread, and the systematic harassment will continue. Online defamation, libel, and slander on the internet has made this continuation of COPS gang-stalking a great deal easier.
People from all segments of society can be recruited to be the “eyes and ears” of the state, such as laborers, drug dealers, drug users, street people, prostitutes, punks, church groups, youth groups, your best friend, your lawyer, local policeman, doctor, emergency services, a neighbor, family, social workers, politicians, judges, dentists, vet, supermarket cashier, postman, religious leader, care worker, landlord, anyone.
Most of these recruited civilian spies/snitches do not understand or even care that the end consequence of this harassment protocol is to eventually destroy the targeted person, and function as “useful idiots” of the state sanctioned COPS gang-stalking program.
It has been reported that people participate in this COPS gang stalking because it: (1) gives them a sense of power; (2) is a way to make friends; (3) is something social and fun; (4) breaks down race/gender/age/social barriers; (5) is forced or blackmailed upon them by the State or police to take part; (6) is told to them that they are part of “homeland or national security” to help keep an eye on “dangerous” or “emotionally disturbed” individuals where they are “heroic spies for the state;” (7) is used on local thugs or informants who are already being used for other activities where their energies are diverted into these COPS gangstalking community spy programs; (8) is either a choice of spying for the State or police, or else go to jail; (9) involves outright lies and slander about the target to get them to go along with ruining the targets life; (10) includes average citizens recruited by the state the same way citizens were recruited in the former East Germany and other countries.
Some techniques used against targets in this organized COPS Gang-stalking program include: (1) classic conditioning where a target is sensitized to everyday stimuli over a period of months and years to harass them in public to let them know they are constantly being harassed and monitored; (2) 24/7 Surveillance following the target everywhere they go, learning about the target and where they shop, work, play, who their friends and family are, getting close to the target, moving into the community or apartment where they live, across the street, monitoring the targets phone, house, and computer activity; (3) isolating the target via defamation, libel, and slander campaigns, (eg, people in the target’s community are told that the target is a thief, into drugs, a prostitute, pedophile, crazy, in trouble for something, needs to be watched, false files will even be produced on the target, shown to neighbors, family, store keepers); (4) constant or intermittent noise and mimicking campaigns disrupting the targets life and sleep with loud power tools, construction, stereos, doors slamming, etc; (5) talking in public about private things in the target’s life; (6) mimicking actions of the target and basically letting the target know that they are in the target’s life; (7) daily interferences, not too overt to the untrained eye, but psychologically degrading and damaging to the target over time; (8) everyday life breaks and street theater such as flat tires, sleep deprivation, drugging food, putting dirt on targets property; (9) mass strangers doing things in public to annoy targets such as getting called/text messages to be at a specific time and place to perform a specific action; (10) blocking targets path, getting ahead of them in line, cutting or boxing them in on the road, saying or doing things to elicit a response from the target; (11) “baiting” tactics where a surveillance operation can selectively capture evidence of a targeted person responding to harassment, and then that evidence could then be used to justify the initiation of more formal scrutiny by a government agency.
The COPS Gang-Stalking Program, as all other state sanctioned/approved gang-stalking programs, have always been funded by the Government. They are the only ones with enough money, coordination, and power to keep such a system in place. These coordinated efforts then join hands with others for this systemic form of control and harassment.
Such operations have nothing to do with the target’s criminality – they are led and perpetrated by federal agents and intelligence/security contractors, often with the support of state and local law enforcement personnel. Unofficial operations of this type are often private investigators and vigilantes – including many former agents and police officers, sometimes on behalf of corporate clients and others with connections to the public and private elements of America’s security industry.
The goal of such operations is “disruption” of the life of an individual deemed to be an enemy (or potential enemy) of clients or members of the security state. Arguably, the most accurate term for this form of harassment would be “counterintelligence stalking.”
Agents of communist East Germany’s Stasi (state police) referred to this process as Zersetzung (German for “decomposition” or “corrosion” – a reference to the severe psychological, social, and financial effects upon the victim). Victims have described the process as “no touch torture” – a phrase which also captures the nature of the crime: cowardly, unethical (and often illegal), but difficult to prove legally, because it generates minimal forensic evidence.
Tactics include online and personal slander, libel, defamation, blacklisting, “mobbing” (intense, organized harassment in public), “black bag jobs” (residential break ins), abusive phone calls, computer hacking, framing, threats, blackmail, vandalism, “street theater” (staged physical and verbal interactions with the minions of the people who orchestrate the stalking), harassment by noises, and other forms of bullying.
Such stalking is sanctioned (and in some cases, orchestrated) by federal agencies; however such stalking is also sometimes used unofficially for personal and corporate vendettas by current and former corrupt employees of law enforcement and intelligence agencies, private investigators, and their clients.
Since counterintelligence stalking goes far beyond surveillance – into the realm of psychological terrorism, as it is essentially a form of extrajudicial punishment. As such, the harassment is illegal – even when done by the government. It clearly violates the US Constitution’s Fourth Amendment, which prohibits unwarranted searches, and the Sixth Amendment which guarantees the right to a trial. Such operations also violate similar fundamental rights defined by state constitutions. Stalking is also specifically prohibited by the criminal codes of every state in America.
As was stated above, organized stalking methods were used extensively by communist East Germany’s Stasi (state police) as a means of maintaining political control over its citizens. Although this is supposedly illegal in the US, the same covert tactics are quietly used by America’s local and federal law enforcement, and intelligence agencies, to suppress political and domestic dissent, silence whistle blowers, and get revenge against persons who have angered someone with connections to the public and private agencies involved.
Although Edward Snowden’s revelations about the National Security Agency (“NSA”) in 2013 and 2014 generated a great deal of public discussion about mass surveillance, US domestic counterintelligence activities such as the COPS Program receive relatively little attention.
The FBI’s COINTELPRO operation is still happening, involving even more advanced surveillance technology – and this program is none other than Joseph Biden and Bill Clinton’s COPS Program.
US Department of Justice crime statistics from a 2006 survey indicated that an estimated 445,220 COPS gangstalking victims reported three or more perpetrators (the only ones reported), and this number is growing exponentially on a daily basis.
In addition to being morally reprehensible, the COPS gang stalking program, just like the original version of the FBI’s COINTELPRO operations, is very, very illegal. It violates criminal laws in all fifty states against stalking, as well as grossly violates the US Constitution’s prohibitions against warrantless searches and extra judicial punishment.
While the vast majority of Americans are never personally targeted by the Joseph Biden/Bill Clinton COPS gangstalking program, they should still be concerned about the existence of such operations.
Even if such activities were constitutionally legitimate (which they are not), they still have an enormous potential for abuse as a personal or political weapon by enemies currently employed or friendly with these governmental institutions.
Ending this cowardly and illegal practice by law enforcement agencies, intelligence agencies, and their parasitic corporate and individual recruits will first require exposing what is happening, to the public.
USA and Australia Worry About Cyber Attacks from China Amidst Pegasus Spyware
Pegasus Spyware Scandal has shaken whole India and several other countries. What will be its fallout no one knows as we know only tip of iceberg. Amidst Pegasus Spyware Scandal USA and Australia both have shown serious concerns about Cyber Attacks on US and Australian interests. Both say that China is hub of malware software and both face millions of such attacks daily.
I am trying to understand why a software is needed to spy on a particular individual when all calls, messages, data, emails are easily accessible from server. In most of cases these servers are located in USA and some cases these are located in host country. In certain sensitive cases Government Agencies have their own server like Central Intelligence Agency and hundreds of other agencies and military establishment world over including India. Now point is who installs those servers.
A couple of years back I had talked to Mr Mike Molloy who is Chief Executive Officer of Orion Global Technologies previously known as Orion SAS. He had explained me how his company installs servers in host countries on request of private or gov bodies. He talks about contract and trust. That means even when a company or Gov buys a server or software for designated uses the “Secrecy” Factor remain on discretion of company which has supplied server or software.
Now if all data, e-mail, chat, messages, calls are accessible to Gov as per law and technology (Through Server all components of Communication are accessible and thats why me and you see start seeing call recording of a person even after many years later), I am unable to understand why a Gov will be needing a software to Spy on any one.
Now coming to where Australia and USA wants to carry the whole debate.
Australian Foreign Minister Sen Marise Payne said, “Australian Government joins international partners in expressing serious concerns about malicious cyber activities by China’s Ministry of State Security.
“In consultation with our partners, the Australian Government has determined that China’s Ministry of State Security exploited vulnerabilities in the Microsoft Exchange software to affect thousands of computers and networks worldwide, including in Australia. These actions have undermined international stability and security by opening the door to a range of other actors, including cybercriminals, who continue to exploit this vulnerability for illicit gain”, She further added.
She opined, ”The Australian Government is also seriously concerned about reports from our international partners that China’s Ministry of State Security is engaging contract hackers who have carried out cyber-enabled intellectual property theft for personal gain and to provide commercial advantage to the Chinese Government”.
She warned China by saying, “Australia calls on all countries – including China – to act responsibly in cyberspace. China must adhere to the commitments it has made in the G20, and bilaterally, to refrain from cyber-enabled theft of intellectual property, trade secrets and confidential business information with the intent of obtaining competitive advantage”.
On other hand USA’s The National Security Agency (NSA), Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) and Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) released a Cybersecurity Advisory on Chinese State-Sponsored Cyber Operations. National Security Advisor said, ”Chinese state-sponsored cyber activity poses a major threat to U.S. and allied systems. These actors aggressively target political, economic, military, educational, and critical infrastructure personnel and organizations to access valuable, sensitive data. These cyber operations support China’s long-term economic and military objectives”.
The information in this advisory builds on NSA’s previous release “Chinese State-Sponsored Actors Exploit Publicly Known Vulnerabilities.” The NSA, CISA, and FBI recommended mitigations empower our customers to reduce the risk of Chinese malicious cyber activity, and increase the defensive posture of their critical networks.
Afghan issue can not be understood from the simplistic lens of geopolitical blocs
Authors: Tridivesh Singh Maini and Varundeep Singh*
On July 14, 2021 a terror attack was carried out in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KPK) province in which a number of Chinese engineers, working on the Dasu hydropower project (a project which is part of the China Pakistan Economic Corridor) were killed. The attack predictably evinced a strong response from China. The Chinese foreign minister, Wang Yi speaking before a Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) Foreign Minister’s meeting asked the Taliban to disassociate itself from ‘terrorist elements’ and in a meeting with Pakistan Foreign Minister, Shah Mehmood Qureshi, asked Pakistan to bring the perpetrators to book. Earlier in April 2021, a car bomb attack took place at Serena hotel in Quetta which was hosting China’s Ambassador to Pakistan (four people were killed and twelve were injured)
Wang Yi significantly praised the Ashraf Ghani government, for its attempts towards building national unity and providing effective governance. Beijing clearly realizes that its economic investments in the country as well as big ticket infrastructural projects can not remain safe if there is no security. Afghanistan also criticized Pakistan for its role in sending 10000 Jihadis to Taliban, this is important in the context of the region’s geopolitics.
Like all other countries, Beijing and Islamabad, would have expected uncertainty after the US withdrawal of troops but perhaps over estimated their capabilities in dealing with the turbulence which had been predicted by many.
Importance of Chinese Foreign Minister’s statements
Wang Yi’s statements are important because days earlier a Taliban spokesman, Suhail Shaheen had praised China and welcomed its role in the country’s reconstruction. He had also assured China that those involved in the insurgency in Xinjiang would not be given refuge in Afghanistan (one of China’s major concerns has been the support provided by Taliban to the East Turkmenistan movement)
While Beijing may have opened back channels with the Taliban and realized that it needs to adapt to the changing geopolitics, recent developments would have increased its skepticism vis-à-vis the Taliban. On the other hand, Russia has been more favorable towards the Taliban. Russia’s Deputy Chief of Mission in India, Roman Babushkin argued that the Taliban are a reality which needs to be accepted, and also that any military activities without a political process are insufficient.
Babushkin did make the point that for successful negotiations, Taliban needed to end violence.
‘that Taliban should deal with the problem of terrorism and other related issues in order to become legitimate, in order to [get] delisted [at the UN Security Council], in order to go ahead with the future Afghanistan and creation of the inclusive government
It would be pertinent to point out, that Zamir Kabulov, Russian President’s Afghanistan envoy went a step further and said that the Afghan government was not doing enough to make talks with Taliban a success.
China’s statements subtle warning to the Taliban, indicating its reservations, and praise of Ghani indicate a possibility of greater understanding between Washington and Beijing (even though Beijing has repeatedly attributed the current troubles in Afghanistan to Washington’s decision to withdraw troops).
Can US and China find common ground
It remains to be seen if Biden who has exhibited dexterity on a number of complex issues reaches out to Xi Jinping to find common ground with regard to Afghanistan. Significantly, while US-Turkey relations had witnessed a downward trajectory and Biden has been critical of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s authoritarian tendencies and Human rights record, both leaders met on the sidelines of the NATO Summit in June 2021. During the meeting Turkey agreed to secure Kabul Airport. US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan while commenting on Turkey’s assurance said
‘The clear commitment from the leaders was established that Turkey would play a lead role in securing Hamid Karzai International Airport, and we are now working through how to execute to get to that,’
Taliban earlier this week warned Turkey of ‘consequences’ if the Middle Eastern nation increased its troop presence in Afghanistan.
Russia’s statements with regard to the Taliban indicate that it is not totally on the same page as China (its prior experience in Afghanistan has made it more cautious and circumspect), and that the Afghan issue can not be understood from the simplistic lens of geo-political blocs and traditional lenses. All major stakeholders in Afghanistan, both within the region and outside, seem to be understandably befuddled by the turn of events. It is not just the US, but even China which would be worried not just from an economic stand point but the overall security implications of the turmoil in Afghanistan. The terror attack in KPK indicates that other CPEC related projects could also face threats from militant groups. Beijing would thus need to be quick to react to the overtures from the Taliban in order to secure its economic assets and lives of Chinese workers in neighbouring Pakistan.
It is especially important for Washington, Beijing and other important stakeholders in the region to work together for dealing with the near term turbulence as well as long term challenges Afghanistan is likely to face.
*Varundeep Singh is an Independent Policy Analyst.
Pegasus: Human rights-compliant laws needed to regulate spyware
The UN human rights chief on Monday said the apparent widespread use of Pegasus spy software to illegally undermine the rights of those under surveillance, including journalists and politicians, was “extremely alarming” and confirmed “some of the worst fears” surrounding the potential misuse of such technology.
“Various parts of the UN Human Rights system, including my own Office, have repeatedly raised serious concerns about the dangers of authorities using surveillance tools from a variety of sources supposed to promote public safety in order to hack the phones and computers of people conducting legitimate journalistic activities, monitoring human rights or expressing dissent or political opposition”, said High Commissioner Michelle Bachelet in a statement.
According to reports, the Pegasus data leak allegations which surfaced through a consortium of media organisations over the weekend, suggests widespread and continuing abuse of the software, which the manufacturers insist, is only intended for use against criminals and terrorists.
The Pegasus malware infects electronic devices, enabling operators of the tool to obtain messages, photos and emails, record calls, and even activate microphones, according to the consortium’s reporting. The leak contains a list of more than 50,000 phone numbers which reportedly belong to those identified as people of interest, by clients of the company behind Pegasus, including some governments.
Surveillance software has been linked to the arrest, intimidation and even killing of journalists and human rights defenders, according to the senior UN official.
Reports of surveillance also trigger fear and cause people to censor themselves.
“Journalists and human rights defenders play an indispensable role in our societies, and when they are silenced, we all suffer”, she said, reminding all States that surveillance measures can only be justified in narrowly defined circumstances when necessary and proportional to a legitimate goal.
Given that Pegasus spyware, “as well as that created by Candiru and others, enable extremely deep intrusions into people’s devices, resulting in insights into all aspects of their lives”, the UN rights chief underscored, “their use can only ever be justified in the context of investigations into serious crimes and grave security threats.”
If recent allegations about the use of Pegasus are even partly true, she maintained that the “red line has been crossed again and again with total impunity”.
Companies developing and distributing surveillance technologies are responsible for avoiding human rights abuses, she said, and they must take immediate steps to mitigate and remedy the damage their products are causing, or contributing to, and carry out “human rights due diligence” to ensure that they no longer play a part in “such disastrous consequences” now, or in the future.
States also have a duty to protect individuals from privacy rights abuses by companies, she added.
One key step in this direction is for States to require by law that the businesses meet their human rights responsibilities by becoming more transparent in their design and use of products and by putting in place effective accountability mechanisms.
Better regulation key
Reports also confirm “the urgent need to better regulate the sale, transfer and use of surveillance technologies and ensure strict oversight and authorization.”
Governments should not only immediately stop using surveillance technologies in ways that violate human rights, but also “take concrete actions” to protect against such invasions of privacy by “regulating the distribution, use and export of surveillance technology created by others”, the High Commissioner said.
Without human rights-compliant regulatory frameworks, Ms. Bachelet upheld that there are “simply too many risks” that the tools could be used to intimidate critics and silence dissent.
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