whistleblowers

The European Union plans to use military force to curb the influx of migrants from Libya. According to leaked details, the E.U. will destroy boats used for transporting migrants and refugees on Libyan territory, thereby preventing them from reaching Europe. “They are intending to at least risk killing people in blowing up these boats,” says Julian Assange, founder of WikiLeaks. Watch our exclusive interview with Assange on Democracy Now! today.

Parliament passed the first of three anti-terror bills last week.

The 1st bill (now passed) gaols journalists and whistleblowers who disclose classified info and makes it easier for ASIO to spy on our net.

The 2nd bill makes it easier for cops to barge into Aussies’ homes.

The 3rd bill gives the Government more access to our internet metadata.

The last two bills can still be stopped with your help. #StopDataRetention

When a soldier who shared information with the press and public is punished far more harshly than others who tortured prisoners and killed civilians, something is seriously wrong with our justice system. A legal system that doesn’t distinguish between leaks to the press in the public interest and treason against the nation will not only produce unjust results, but will deprive the public of critical information that is necessary for democratic accountability. This is a sad day for Bradley Manning, but it’s also a sad day for all Americans who depend on brave whistleblowers and a free press for a fully informed public debate.
—  ACLU’s Ben Wizner - Source
It’s harder to get through airport security than to get on a Trident nuclear weapons submarine.
—  Julian Assange, founder of WikiLeaks. Assange spoke to Democracy Now! about a new WikiLeaks report that reveals lax security at Britain’s Trident nuclear base in Scotland. Watch the interview on Democracy Now! today.
Often the best source of information about waste, fraud, and abuse in government is an existing government employee committed to public integrity and willing to speak out. Such acts of courage and patriotism, which can sometimes save lives and often save taxpayer dollars, should be encouraged rather than stifled. We need to empower federal employees as watchdogs of wrongdoing and partners in performance. Barack Obama will strengthen whistleblower laws to protect federal workers who expose waste, fraud, and abuse of authority in government. Obama will ensure that federal agencies expedite the process for reviewing whistleblower claims and whistleblowers have full access to courts and due process.
— 

Barack Obama, 2008.

My, how the times have changed.

The US government killed three secure email services this week

August 9, 2013

Yesterday, the encrypted email service Lavabit announced it would shut down rather than comply with any court orders that would result from the conclusion of a secret legal battle it's been fighting for six weeks. Now, Silent Circle, a company that offers encrypted phone, video, and text services, has announced it will shut down its email service in a preemptive move to avoid being compelled by the US government to hand over user data.

In a blog post, Silent Circle’s Jon Callas wrote that the company has initially debated whether to offer an email service at all, because unlike Silent Circle’s other products, email is much harder to secure. But because of customer demand, the company decided it would offer email with the caveat that it might not be totally secure.

The company has since thought better of the decision (emphasis mine):

We’ve been thinking about this for some time, whether it was a good idea at all. Today, another secure email provider, Lavabit, shut down their system lest they “be complicit in crimes against the American people.” We see the writing the wall, and we have decided that it is best for us to shut down Silent Mail now. We have not received subpoenas, warrants, security letters, or anything else by any government, and this is why we are acting now.

Callas wrote that the company had been “debating this for weeks,” and it appears that the Lavabit news was the last straw. In both cases, the government’s increasingly instrusive access to personal data—just today, the New York Times poked yet another hole in the bullshit claim that the NSA only scans metadata, not content, without court orders—was enough to convince the companies that they could no longer offer their services as advertised.

What’s worrisome is that we’re beginning to see the chilling effects of government surveillance that we’ve all been worried about for some time now. First it was with whistleblowers—following aggressive pursuit and prosecution of B. Manning and others, as well as Edward Snowden’s current stint in political purgatory, how many potential whistleblowers will now think twice?

But now we’re talking about private, legitimate companies shutting down their services, not because of government regulation or anything open to debate or public discourse, but because of government intrusion and secret strong arming backed by the word of secret courts.

This is the US government’s attack on privacy taken to its logical conclusion. Add in the FBI’s compromising of Tormail, and we’ve lost three (perhaps not so) secure email services inside of a week. These types of services are valuable because they’re easy for the average privacy-minded person to use. When are more going to fall? 

That’s the end game of the government’s attacks on privacy. Government agencies, supported by judges who don’t think privacy is a right, want to dismantle every barrier to privacy that Americans have, all in the name of fighting terrorism or crime. The internet is the main target right now, and it’s becoming increasingly apparent that the US government can access an enormous amount of what we do online.

What happens if and when its online access is effectively complete? You can’t even expect to move through public anymore without your movements being warrantlessly scanned and tracked. And as we move into a post-privacy society, what does the government plan to do with all of that data? Unfortunately, we don’t know, because it won’t tell us.

Source

Your Government is Treasonous, Not Edward Snowden | AmericaWakieWakie

June 29th, 2013

Americans abide in a state of illusion. We are a republic no longer able to comprehend the need for transparency in government, much less what it takes to protect our civil liberties like our constitutionally afforded guarantees to privacy.

With the Obama administration’s rhetoric calling Edward Snowden a traitor in full swing, and the American media following as close as Tom to Jerry, it’s no wonder the illusion of trading liberty for security has become self-reinforcing and ubiquitous. Every time you check into CNN or Fox News you see Wolf Blitzer or Shepard Smith perpetuating the idea that Snowden did we United States citizens a life-endangering disservice. The fact remains though, it is not Snowden who has violated our rights, it is and continues to be our own government.

Who then is treasonous? 

As we witness Snowden’s unfolding narrative we can be reminded of how this may play out by looking back over the Obama administration’s crackdown of whistleblowers like Julian Assange, founder of Wikileaks, and Bradley Manning, the young soldier brave enough to leak hundreds of thousands of US cables.  

In 2010 WikiLeaks’ release of a seventeen minute video depicting an unwarranted attack by United States military forces on several Iraqi civilians, reporters, and even children, catapulted the news organization into the sights of our government. Since then Julian Assange has now been relegated to the Ecuadorian embassy for over a year, avoiding extradition to Sweden on allegations of sexual misconduct. Assange refuses to face those charges because he suspects they are a smokescreen to extradite him into US custody. Manning, who leaked the video, has been remanded to solidarity confinement for more than a year, and is just now having a chance to exercise his right to a trial.   

Snowden fears the same wrath. The irony is United States prides itself as the shining light of democracy in the world. But if critical questions cannot be asked and the answers sought, that light has been extinguished. Our constitution protects freedom of speech and press under the first amendment, “Congress shall make no law… abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press…” (United States Constitution). Instead of our first amendment rights though, we are getting freedom “of what the U.S. government wants us to know,“ and apparently if that isn’t good enough, too bad. Either remain ignorant or go to jail, and you’re lucky if it’s not Guantanamo.

After Wikileaks published the video, in a statement to the Associated Press, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said, “To the extent that we can find anybody who was involved in the breaking of American law, who put at risk the assets and the people I have described, they will be held responsible; they will be held accountable,"  then calling Wikileaks an “ongoing criminal investigation.” 

Sounds like deja vu. Last week FBI director Robert Muller said of Snowden, "As to the individual who has admitted making these disclosures, he is the subject of an ongoing criminal investigation. Mueller continued: “We are taking all necessary steps to hold the person responsible for these disclosures.”

This is all superfluous language to reiterate that our government is simply seeking to silence whistle-blowers.

And we allow ourselves to be persuaded. With the bobble-heads of the 24 hour news cycle constantly demonizing men like Snowden, Assange and Manning, it is easy for us to forget the tradition of reigning in our government through meaningful unabridged transparency. We need people like Edward Snowden like we needed Daniel Ellsberg and The Pentagon Papers

On June 13, 1971, the Times began printing a 7,000 page document which depicted lies to the American public preceding the Vietnam War, ultimately embarrassing the Nixon administration beyond repair. The event aided public support for leaving the war. Then The Pentagon Papers, like Snowden’s NSA leak now, exposes the truth that government cannot be trusted. 

Ellsberg himself has praised Snowden too, saying “I think there has not been a more significant or helpful leak or unauthorized disclosure in American history ever … and that definitely includes the Pentagon Papers.”

Per the usual course, the Obama administration has continued attacks on Snowden as they try to defend the NSA’s surveillance apparatus. 

We Americans have to look past the illusion that our government is so benevolent as to always have our best interests at heart. The truth is the Obama administration is wielding its political clout to suppress our first amendment rights, and because yet again the American public is in denial about our government, we are letting it happen. Wake up folks, the tyranny is right here—it is called Washington, D.C. 

(Photo Credit: The Guardian/AP)

Meet Alayne Fleischmann, the JPMorgan Chase whistleblower who explains how the bank helped to wreck the economy — and then got away with it.

“For a long time I believed that the government would do their investigation and come forward with it. It’s actually taken a really long time … I’m in the position where If I keep silent and the statute of limitation runs out, or they do one of these agreements where they whitewash everything, then it’s too late.

Fleischmann joins investigative reporter Matt Taibbi for an exclusive interview on Democracy Now! today.

 

He was selective. He had access to literally hundreds of millions of documents as an all-source analyst, and these were the documents that he released…because he was hoping to make the world a better place.
—  Attorney David Coombs • Defending his client, Pfc. Bradley Manning, from U.S. Army prosecutor Capt. Joe Morrow, who claimed the young soldier “systematically” leaked information he knew would endanger the lives of his fellow soldiers. Pfc. Manning’s trial began on Monday, more than three years after his arrest back in May 2010, and the proceedings are expected to last up to 12 weeks. source
Watch on whatwouldthomasjeffersondo.tumblr.com

A whistleblower’s video that hit YouTube over the weekend is sure to outrage many Americans already questioning foreign-policy and the legitimacy of the War on Terror.

Already being questioned as one of the worst foreign-policy disasters in American political history, with the advent of long-overdue admissions by the mainstream media about Bush administration falsifications in the run-up to the War on Terror, the more people continue to learn about what actually goes on in countries like Iraq and Afghanistan the worse those fabrications appear.

Once Wikileaks released the now infamous videos of innocent Iraqi civilians and journalists being gunned down by US warships in 2007, with soldiers openly relishing the brutally dehumanizing murders as they were being committed, the reality of war shocked the entire country and the way in which the US and its allies were engaging innocents in other countries brought the entire war into question.

A video of what appears to be a US troop sacrifice was released by whistleblower in the US military, showing al Qaeda or locals planting an IED in front of a US troop vehicle convoy that was never warned of the impending trap.
Credits: Youtube / Dahboo Knight

Even the UN has been raising concerns about human rights violations that occurred in Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq, after it became public that prisoners of war, many found to be totally innocent, were being systematically abused, tortured and sometimes murdered by US troops while in captivity.

The blood pressure of those already frustrated by the circumstances could have only gone up once the news broke that members of the Obama administration and the Justice Department watched Amb. Stephens and a few of his colleagues die from a live drone video feed and never bothered to call in backup.

But perhaps nothing is sure to raise doubts about what’s actually going on overseas than the (attached) video that surfaced on YouTube over the weekend, one that many will actually get to see for themselves.

If true, what appears to unfold is the frightening realization (for those that don’t already know) that not even US or allied troops are held as sacred and, as often claimed by many in the alternative media, are often used as a tool or an excuse for the need for further occupation or the war’s ultimate perpetuation.

According to the video’s narrator, the footage was released by a whistleblower in the military, much like Bradley Manning, for the purposes of shedding light on the truth about what goes on behind the scenes in the so-called War on “Terror.”

As described on the video, much like what happened in Benghazi last summer, a feed taken by a drone over a 24 hour time period shows either Al Qaeda or locals planting an Improvised Explosive Device (IED), in preparation for an oncoming convoy of either US or allied troops or related contractor’s vehicles.

Despite the entire scene playing out over a live video feed, the oncoming convoy was never alerted to the approaching danger and was allowed to roll right into the trap. The result was the devastation of the vehicle that ran over the IED and the possible injuries or deaths of those on or near the horrific explosion.

The individual responsible for exposing the video is making an appeal that all those with the ability to copy or mirror the video do so in hopes of forcing it’s ultimate virility, so that it too makes as much of an impact as did the videos Bradley Manning and Wikileaks released.

Source: examiner.com

Obama’s NDAA (Indefinite military detention of citizens) ruled unconstitutional
September 13, 2012

The Obama administration’s efforts to enshrine sweeping 9/11-era rollbacks of civil liberties and constitutional rights as federal law hit a serious roadblock yesterday, as a federal judge struck down clauses of the National Defense Authorization Act as unconstitutional.

The offending section of the NDAA, signed by Obama on New Year’s Eve last year, grants the government the power to put citizens in military detention indefinitely and without the usual recourse to civil courts.

Chris Hedges, along with other writers and activists including Daniel Ellsberg and Noam Chomsky, challenged the law soon after in a federal lawsuit.

They argued that the phrasing of the law, which allows for the detention of anyone who has “substantially supported al-Qaeda, the Taliban, or associated forces that are engaged in hostilities against the United States or its coalition partners,” is so broad that in infringes on their own first-amendment rights.

Judge Katherine Forrest, a recent Obama appointee to the federal bench, was clearly sympathetic, and granted a preliminary injunction of the offending sections of the law.

The parties were back in court for further arguments last month for further arguments, but by Forrest’s close questioning of administration lawyers, it was clear she still wasn’t buying the government’s argument.

That impression was confirmed yesterday with Forrest’s 112-page ruling, which resoundingly dismisses the law as unconstitutional:

The Government did not–and does not–generally agree or anywhere argue that activities protected by the First Amendment could not subject an individual to indefinite military detention under § 1021(b)(2). The First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution provides for greater protection: it prohibits Congress from passing any law abridging speech and associational rights. To the extent that § 1021(b)(2) purports to encompass protected First Amendment activities, it is unconstitutionally overbroad.

First amendment rights aren’t the only constitutional problem with the law, Forrest continues:

The due process rights guaranteed by the Fifth Amendment require that an individual understand what conduct might subject him or her to criminal or civil penalties. Here, the stakes get no higher: indefinite military detention–potential detention during a war on terrorism that is not expected to end in the foreseeable future, if ever. The Constitution requires specificity–and that specificity is absent from § 1021(b)(2).

Forrest is particularly dismissive of the government’s argument that the issue is none of the court’s business, and that at most, courts can consider individual habeas corpus petitions from already-detained prisoners.

That argument is without merit and, indeed, dangerous…. If only habeas review is available to those detained under § 1021(b)(2), even U.S. citizens on U.S. soil, core constitutional rights available in criminal matters would simply be eliminated. No court can accept this proposition and adhere truthfully to its oath.

Speaking with the Voice Wednesday night, Hedges said he is happy with the ruling.

“I’m elated,” he said. “This judge is amazing. She had the courage to do the right thing in an age when most judges write long opinions about why they can’t do the right thing.”

There’s good reason to temper the elation, however. The government is almost certain to appeal the ruling. Indeed, the administration already has appealed the temporary injunction granted in May.

“That’s all right,” Hedges said Wednsday. “If they appeal, we’ll fight them, and we’ll keep fighting them, and we’ll fight them until we win.”

Source

And people want to vote for this man who wants to indefinitely detain citizens in military prisons without due process?

The NDAA would light the First & Fifth Amendment up in flames.

Breaking: Manning Acquitted of “Aiding the Enemy,” found guilty of several other counts under Espionage Act

Although Manning was not convicted of the harsher “aiding the enemy” charge, which would have introduced a death-eligible charge into the government’s anti-whistleblower toolbox, he was convicted of several other lesser counts. He probably will not receive a life sentence, but still faces potentially decades or more in prison. His sentencing is scheduled for 9:30 a.m. ET tomorrow (Wednesday) morning, and if he receives the maximum sentence on all counts he will face over 100 years.

The acquittal on the “aiding the enemy” charge is undoubtedly a small victory, but Manning’s case will still serve as a deterrent to those who might shine light on America’s dirty secrets.

He was denied his constitutional right to a speedy trial, waiting over three years to appear in court. He was subjected to cruel and unusual punishment, held first in Kuwait and then for eleven months in solitary confinement in a 6 x 12 foot windowless cell at Quantico. During that time he was often deprived of clothing and not allowed to sleep or lie down during certain hours.

If you haven’t already seen it, watch the Collateral Murder video here. The video, shot from an Apache helicopter gun-sight, clearly shows the unprovoked slaying of a wounded Reuters employee and his rescuers. Two young children involved in the rescue were also seriously wounded. Before Manning anonymously shared the video with Wikileaks in 2010, Reuters had been unsuccessfully trying to obtain it through the Freedom of Information Act since the time of the attack.

Manning’s so-called crimes consist of leaking the Collateral Murder video, the Iraq and Afghanistan war logs, which betrayed more war crimes and the extent of America’s quagmires in the Middle East, and the embarrassing diplomatic cables that demonstrated the low-level corruption, bullying, and hypocrisy of modern diplomacy.

Professor Yochai Benkler has written, “The implications of Manning’s case go well beyond  Wikileaks, to the very heart of accountability journalism in a networked age.”

[W]e have to look at ourselves in the mirror of this case and ask: Are we the America of Japanese Internment and Joseph McCarthy, or are we the America of Ida Tarbell and the Pentagon Papers? What kind of country makes communicating with the press for publication to the American public a death-eligible offense?

What a coup for Al Qaeda, to have maimed our constitutional spirit to the point where we might become that nation.

Photo: U.S. Army Private First Class Bradley Manning is escorted by military police as he arrives to hear the verdict in his military trial July 30, 2013 at Fort George G. Meade, Maryland. (AFP Photo / Mark Wilson)

EXCLUSIVE: CIA whistleblower Jeffrey Sterling has been sentenced to 42 months in prison. Today, in an exclusive video interview the former CIA officer talks about leaking classified information to New York Times reporter James Risen about a failed U.S. effort to undermine Iran’s nuclear program. On Monday, Sterling became the latest government employee jailed by the Obama administration for leaking information. Since he was indicted four years ago, Jeffrey Sterling’s voice has never been heard by the public. But that changes today. Watch Democracy Now! for an exclusive report that tells his story, “The Invisible Man.”

We have a real double standard. A few weeks ago we were all complaining that we didn’t have enough information about those kids in Boston and we needed broader intelligence sharing. Now we say we want to clamp down on how the information moves.
—  Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) • Speaking after an off-record briefing, attended by roughly half of the Senate’s members, about the NSA’s surveillance programs. Despite McCain’s skeptical take on the matter, momentum seems to be growing in favor of more limitations on information-sharing, with one key defender of the NSA programs, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), claiming that legislation was on its way. “We will certainly have legislation which will limit or prevent contractors from handling highly classified and technical data, and we will do some other things,” she said.