Government-transparency

psa

tumblr can give up your information to police and government
tumblr.com/transparency
if you’re going to organize maybe do it through other channels

This day in Wikileaks - June 3, 2012

WikiLeaks has been financially blockaded without process for 548 days.Julian Assange has been under house arrest without charge for 545 days.  Bradley Manning has been in jail without trial for 742 days.  
A secret Grand Jury on WikiLeaks has been active in the US for 628 days.

The TPP and the American Legislative Exchange Council are perfect example why we should demand transparency in government from politicians and our political leaders (regardless if it’s a Democrat or a Republican). How can we trust that the decisions being made behing closed doors is the correct decision for the rest of us? Who really benefits from those decisions being made being closed doors?

It just looks shady when there’s no transparency becuase decisions are being made behind closed doors.

A $14,800 Kickstarter campaign splashed downtown Washington D.C. with these posters. The ads are funded by EpicStep & the Bradley Manning Support Network, whose representatives said:

“The military has done its best to limit public exposure to Bradley Manning’s case by holding the trial at Ft. Meade, a relatively difficult location for the public to attend, and they have not released transcripts of the pretrial hearing, thereby limiting media exposure and making it difficult for laymen to follow the proceedings. Let’s bring the case back to Washington! … These ads will force government workers to remember WikiLeaks and Bradley Manning, remind them that the public is behind Bradley, and explain that what Bradley is accused of doing is a public good.” 

The public deserves and needs to know that the money is going for [that] which it is intended. If it’s going for the purpose intended, there should not be a problem in demonstrating and documenting that.
— 

Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.), is introducing a bill that would force the American Red Cross to open its books and operations to independent review. 

Red Cross Effort To Shut Down Inquiry Fails; Report Calls For Outside Oversight

Keeping our eyes on the “super committee”

I want to throw the spotlight on some organizations and elected officials calling for transparency within the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction, which is responsible for coming up with a plan to reduce the federal deficit by at least $1.2 trillion by Thanksgiving.

In an effort to keep entrenched interests from influencing these committee members, here are several proposals for accountability:

  • The Cato Institute: Jim Harper of Cato @ Liberty encourages transparency by suggesting the super committee makes all “meeting notices, transcripts, written testimonies, live video, original bills, amendments to bills, motions, and votes” available online.
  • MAPLight: The folks over at MAPLight.org have a fantastic breakdown of all campaign contributions received by these joint select committee members over the past decade. They also list the top 10 industry contributors and top 10 organization contributors.
  • Project on Government Oversight: POGO (a necessary follow on Tumblr) suggests a handful of measures to prevent influence from major lobbying efforts. Some of the recommendations: “all agendas, witness lists, and testimony should be posted on the website at least 48 hours” prior to meetings, all documentation from congressional committees sent to the super committee should be made available online as received, online public comments should be allowed and contact information for committee members and staff should be provided online.
  • Public Campaign: In an open letter to Congress signed by groups such as PCCC and Common Cause, Public Campaign calls on committee members to halt all political fundraising.
  • Sunlight Foundation: The organization lists five things the Super Congress should post on its website, including live webcasts of all official meetings and hearings and a list of all campaign contributions as they are received.
  • Senator David Vitter: In early August, the Republican Senator from Louisiana introduced legislation that would require committee members to disclose campaign contributions every 48 hours while they are on the committee.

[Photo of Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction members, left to right: Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-TX); Rep. Dave Camp (R-MI); Rep. Fred Upton, (R-MI); Sen. Jon Kyl (R-AZ); Rob Portman (R-OH); Pat Toomey (R-PA); Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA); Sen. Max Baucus (D-T); Sen. John F. Kerry (D-MA); Rep. James Clyburn (D-SC); Rep. Xavier Becerra (D-CA); Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD). Credit: LA Times]

The People’s Record Memorial Day Dedication 

Breanna Manning: Updates on the Whistleblower’s Trial (photo source)
May 28, 2012

United States Army soldier Breanna Manning, also known as Bradley Manning, has become one of the most influential figures in the quest for government transparency across the world. He was arrested in Iraq in May 2010 on suspicion of leaking classified government cables to activist publishers, Wikileaks. Cables he leaked revealed corruption in Kenya, human rights violations in Guantanamo Bay, footage of journalists and civilians being gunned down by U.S. military, expenditures of the Afghanistan war and other intelligence documents. Information Manning leaked to Wikileaks is considered to be one of the stimuli that sparked the revolution in Tunisia and in other countries throughout the Middle East.

He is being detailed in Virginia on 22 charges, including a capital offense of “aiding the enemy,” which if found guilty, could imprison Manning in jail for life.

Currently, Manning’s defense team says he is being denied a fair trial because of withheld information that may help prove his innocence. His lawyer has laid out the inconsistencies and violations of a fair trial. The military has not searched its own files to find any evidence that may aid in his release, which is it legally obligated to complete.

In addition, the Center for Constitutional Rights is petitioning the Army court of criminal appeals to open up more details about the case to the public and the media. Petitioners include Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, Democracy Now’s Amy Goodman and Salon writer Glenn Greenwald. The secrecy behind the case is a clear violation of the First Amendment and cannot allow Manning to have a fair trial.

Manning’s defense attorney has also called for 10 of the charges be dropped as they are “unconstitutionally vague or fail to state a prosecutable offense.” A military judge will review the charges and make a ruling at the pre-trial on June 8 in Fort Meade.

Click here for a complete list of The People’s Record’s Memorial Day dedications.

en.ria.ru
FBI Has a Lot to Hide About Boston Bombing

The FBI has a lot to hide about last year’s Boston Marathon bombing, according to Russ Baker, a US investigative journalist and founder of the non-profit website WhoWhatWhy.com.

“The FBI has a lot to hide. In this case, there are indications that it was in close contact with the Tsarnaevs prior to the bombing. Whether the Bureau tried or even succeeded in turning the family into informants is something that is essential to uncover,” Baker told RIA Novosti on Tuesday.

The journalist said there was a huge gap between the bureau’s “elaborately crafted public image” and the reality of being capable of “quasi-criminal behavior” and incompetence. In the case of the Boston bombing, the FBI could have seen the Tsarnaevs’ alleged friend Ibragim Todashev as someone who knew too much, Baker said.

“The FBI clearly has made no serious effort to explain the exact conditions that led to his death,” Baker said. Todashev was killed last May by an FBI agent who interrogated him in his Orlando home. It was later disclosed the 27-year-old had been fired at seven times, despite being unarmed.

Baker told RIA Novosti there were too many gray areas in the investigation. “We still don’t know what evidence the government actually has about the involvement of the Tsarnaev brothers in the bombing or the killing of the MIT police officer.”

The mysterious death of MIT Officer Sean Collier, allegedly at the hand of the brothers, is riddled with inconsistencies. Collier was shot dead on April 18 as he sat in a parked MIT cruiser.

“There’s no logical reason that the brothers would have been in that particular spot at that time when Collier was killed. And they did not even take his gun. It almost seems as if someone else killed Collier as part of an effort to implicate the brothers as killers,” Baker said.

The FBI has yet to confirm the identity of a man nicknamed Danny, who is claimed to be the only person Tamerlan Tsarnaev told about the marathon bombing. Danny, a Chinese national and entrepreneur, said the brothers had carjacked him three days after the bombing, pouring out their soul about how they hated Americans, investigators allege.

In March, a report released by the US Congress revealed that Russia had warned Washington about alleged Boston marathon bomber Tamerlan Tsarnaev, saying he had been radicalized. The US placed an alert on Tsarnaev’s name in case he tried to board an international flight, but a spelling mistake prevented Tsarnaev from facing additional screening.

Tamerlan Tsarnaev was killed in a gunfight with police in the days following the bomb attack. His younger brother, Dzhokhar, tried to flee the city, but was wounded and later arrested and is now awaiting trial in federal court, scheduled to begin in November.

qz.com
Taiwan’s new digital minister is a transgender software programmer who wants to make government more open
The self-described "civic hacker" will head digital policy.
By Echo Huang Yinyin

The Taiwanese government has appointed Audrey Tang, a transgender software developer and self-described “civic hacker” to its executive council to head digital policy. Tang, 35, will be the youngest and first transgender official in Taiwan’s executive government, known as the yuan.

Tang will be tasked with making the government more transparent, and making data about how it works available to all, as well helping form Taiwan’s “Asian Silicon Valley,” a new tech zone devoted to the“internet of things” industry. On Facebook on Aug.25, she said that her mission was not to do propaganda but to “serve as a channel” that combines “intelligence and power.”

CLICK THE HEADER LINK TO READ THE FULL ARTICLE.

Breanna Manning has been in prison for two years today

Also known as Bradley, Manning has been subjected to torture over the past two years, including being locked up for 11 months straight in solitary confinement for 23 hours a day - before she was even charged with a crime.

Her pre-trial hearing will be June 8 in Fort Meade, Virginia. 

For the most recent updates on Manning’s case, click here.

eff.org
New Documents Confirm Same Old Fears: NSA Collects First, Seeks Authorization Later

The government released a second batch of documents yesterday in response to EFF’s ongoing FOIA lawsuit for information concerning Section 215 of the Patriot Act—the provision of law the government relies on to compel the disclosure of records of millions of Americans’ calls.

One document, in particular, confirms what in recent months has become abundantly clear: the NSA is unwilling to submit to meaningful and effective oversight and seems unwilling to recognize the extraordinarily sensitive nature of the information it collects.

The document, which appears to be a written response to an Intelligence Committee staffer’s question, describes the NSA’s acquisition and testing of Americans’ cell site location data. The document shows that, prior to obtaining and testing samples of location information taken from Americans’ cell phone calls, the NSA didn’t even bother to inform the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) or the relevant Congressional oversight bodies prior to doing so. In fact, neither NSA nor the National Security Division of the Department of Justice thought the collection of Americans’ location information sufficiently novel or important to even justify an individualized legal analysis. In the view of DOJ, the location information of thousands (or millions) of Americans could just be lumped in with the information the FISC had already approved for collection.

Keep this in mind, too: approximately a year prior, the FISC nearly shut down the call record program after the agency repeatedly misled the court about how and under what circumstances it was accessing Americans’ call records. To then obtain extraordinarily sensitive information about the movements of Americans—without first informing either the FISC or any of NSA’s Congressional oversight bodies—smacks of a fundamental disregard for the NSA’s oversight system and the coordinate branches of government. 

It’s time to put an end to the agency’s “collect first, seek authorization later” mentality. The NSA needs to recognize, once and for all, that it is not above the law. When an agency acts without oversight or the authorization of Congress, the judiciary, or even the President, it’s clear that the agency has gone off the rails. We need a full and public investigation of the NSA’s spying activities, and members of the intelligence community should be held accountable. 

EFF will keep fighting until the NSA’s bulk collection of sensitive communications data is finally reined in. 

eff.org
Transparent Is The New Black

“Secrecy in government is fundamentally anti-democratic…Open debate and discussion of public issues are vital to our national health. On public questions there should be ‘uninhibited, robust, and wide-open’ debate." —New York Times Co. v. U.S., 403 U.S. 713, 724 (1971) (Douglas, J., concurring).

Last week, cloud storage provider Dropbox did the right thing by joining Google, Microsoft, Yahoo, Facebook, and LinkedIn in their consolidated suit before the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court ("FISA Court") demanding permission to publish—for the first time—complete statistics about the US government’s national security requests. Dropbox opened its amicus brief with the above quote from Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas. While Justice Douglas wrote those lines more than forty years ago in response to the Nixon Administration’s attempt to suppress the publication of the Pentagon Papers, its relevance remains undiminished today. The government is again attempting to prevent the publication of truthful, albeit potentially embarrassing, information regarding the activities of its intelligence agencies.

”[W]e can, and must, be more transparent. So I’ve directed the intelligence community to make public as much information about these programs as possible.“ —President Barack Obama, Press Conference, August 9, 2013

With the President’s statement in mind, and in the face of the growing industry consensus that transparency is not just good public relations, but also mandated by the First Amendment, we hoped that the government would finally concede the obvious—companies have a right to tell their users the truth about how often the government comes knocking.

The government’s long-delayed response to the companies’ motions was made public today. Unfortunately, the Department of Justice (DOJ) doesn’t seem to have taken the President’s direction to heart. Indeed, the DOJ’s position is unchanged, writing: "Although the Government is seeking to make public as much information about these activities as the national security interests of the United States will permit, in the FISA context, there is an unquestioned tradition of secrecy, based on the vitally important need to protect national security."

The Government’s unquestioned tradition of secrecy surrounding FISA requests is no answer to the question before the court; what possible justification can there be to prevent companies from reporting the mere number of national security requests they receive? The Government’s filing suggests that those numbers will alert our adversaries to the NSA’s surveillance methods as an additional reason to keep them secret. But that argument is specious at best. NSA surveillance has been front-page news since June.

On Monday, EFF joined a broad coalition of technology companies (including the six before the FISA Court), nonprofits, and advocacy organizations to call on Congress to pass a pair of bills intended to clarify that companies have the right to publish truthful statistics about the Government’s demands for their users’ data. Our collective message is clear: The right to publish truthful information about the Government’s activities goes to the very core of the First Amendment. We hope that the FISA Court, and Congress, agree.

The Secret Sharer

[…] In 2007, the indictment says, [Thomas] Drake willfully retained top-secret defense documents that he had sworn an oath to protect, sneaking them out of the intelligence agency’s headquarters, at Fort Meade, Maryland, and taking them home, for the purpose of “unauthorized disclosure.” The aim of this scheme, the indictment says, was to leak government secrets to an unnamed newspaper reporter, who is identifiable as Siobhan Gorman, of the Baltimore Sun. Gorman wrote a prize-winning series of articles for the Sun about financial waste, bureaucratic dysfunction, and dubious legal practices in N.S.A. counterterrorism programs. Drake is also charged with obstructing justice and lying to federal law-enforcement agents. If he is convicted on all counts, he could receive a prison term of thirty-five years.

[…] When President Barack Obama took office, in 2009, he championed the cause of government transparency, and spoke admiringly of whistle-blowers, whom he described as “often the best source of information about waste, fraud, and abuse in government.” But the Obama Administration has pursued leak prosecutions with a surprising relentlessness. Including the Drake case, it has been using the Espionage Act to press criminal charges in five alleged instances of national-security leaks—more such prosecutions than have occurred in all previous Administrations combined. The Drake case is one of two that Obama’s Justice Department has carried over from the Bush years. [read more]