AFTER GUNMEN ATTACKED shoppers at Westgate Mall in Nairobi in 2013, killing 67 people and injuring dozens more, Kenyan authorities did not hesitate to blame the violence on Dadaab, a complex of refugee camps in northeast Kenya home to roughly half a million people, mostly Somalis.
“Dadaab is a nursery for terrorists,” the secretary for the interior said on national television. Another politician called Dadaab a “training ground” for terrorists. One policeman claimed to have seen a helicopter carrying the attackers out of Dadaab to Nairobi. The crackdown against Somalis in Kenya was swift and vicious, as detailed in a new book by Ben Rawlence, City of Thorns: Nine Lives in the World’s Largest Refugee Camp.
Rawlence writes that no evidence emerged that Westgate was plotted in Dadaab. Yet Kenya used the attack to try to shut down the camp. The international community, especially the United States, reiterated its support for the Kenyan government and largely ignored the abuses committed in its war on terror.
The mistaken idea that desperate refugees are particularly likely to radicalize and join terrorist groups is having a moment outside Kenya, too. It underlies Western fears about people fleeing conflict in Iraq and Syria. After the attacks in Paris last November, the media quickly grasped at flimsy evidence indicating the perpetrators had arrived as refugees, and public opinion in Europe swung against asylum seekers — even though the majority of the suspects so far identified have been French or Belgian nationals. In the United States, Republican politicians have fallen all over themselves in the race to be sufficiently anti-refugee.
City of Thorns offers a nuanced corrective. Rawlence spent years visiting Dadaab and interviewing refugees from the region while working as a researcher with Human Rights Watch. Dadaab, a tent city first established in 1991, is now home to generations of Somalis who have fled civil war and famines, as well as Ethiopians, Eritreans, Congolese, Sudanese, and others escaping the region’s conflicts. Rawlence explores Dadaab through nine of its inhabitants, portraying them with complexity and compassion, while also critiquing the counterterror policies that have done little, he argues, to bring stability to East Africa.
Rawlence opens his book with a 2014 meeting he attended in the White House with members of the National Security Council, a year after Westgate. Rawlence understood that the NSC wanted to hear why — with desperate poverty and overcrowding and infinitesimal chances for resettlement — had all the young men in Dadaab not joined al Shabaab? Rawlence had often pondered the same thing, but found that “the very question was an insult.” To the refugees he knew, “al Shabaab were crazy, murderous criminals.” Besides, the camps were heavily policed by Kenyan authorities, security guards, and local residents alike. Al Shabaab had a shadowy, often deadly, presence in the camps, but Rawlence couldn’t in good faith tell the gathered officials that Dadaab contributed to terrorism.
“There were no further questions and the meeting came to an early conclusion,” he writes. He had “fallen into the liberal lobbyist’s trap: If the youth were not at risk of being radicalized, then perhaps the NSC didn’t need to worry about Dadaab after all.”
Speaking at an event in New York a few weeks ago, Rawlence said that “so much lazy policy” is based on the idea that the camps are “hotbeds of radicalization.” Western powers throw military aid and drone strikes behind regional governments, he said, but “nobody wants to acknowledge that Kenya is not an honest broker in Somalia, Ethiopia is not an honest broker in Somalia.”
Kenyan military intervention against al Shabaab often made things worse. In the year after the Kenyan army invaded Somalia in fall of 2011, there were 30 attacks on Kenyan soil, against both civilians and security forces. When Kenyan forces took the southern Somali city of Kismayo, “all the sectors in which al Shabaab had been active in trafficking — charcoal, sugar, drugs, weapons, and humans — now boomed.” Western intelligence agencies, according to Rawlence, believed that the Kenyan army simply split revenues with al Shabaab and a local militia. The change in the power dynamics of smuggling affected the camp’s economy, Rawlence writes, as the price of sugar skyrocketed and fights over clan control of trade erupted.
Dadaab’s residents also suffered directly from al Shabaab’s reprisals. Improvised explosives and suicide bombers hit the camps. When seven boys were injured in a shooting in a ramshackle cinema where they had gathered to watch soccer, residents dubbed it “Westgate Two.” Sanitation, healthcare, food distribution, and other aid in the camp dwindled as international aid groups withdrew amid the insecurity; foreign aid workers made obvious kidnapping targets.
But perhaps worst of all was the retaliation from Kenyan authorities. Police often swept through the camps, beating any young men they found. Somalis living in Nairobi had to pay bribes to the police or be rounded up and detained or sent to Dadaab. The book ends in late 2014, as Kenya decided that it wanted the camp officially closed. Refugees were to leave in what Kenya called “spontaneous, voluntary returns,” even though few people wanted to go back to Somalia, which was still very much at war. As Rawlence documents, life in the camps simply got harder. “Dadaab was stuck: no improvements, no investments, but no movement, either,” he writes.
Through these dire happenings, Rawlence deftly winds refugees’ stories. He provides psychological portraits of his characters, recording their lives with sympathy and without moralizing. Tragedy and horror, rape and bombs, shape lives in the camp, but so do love and ambition, jealousy and luck.
The principal characters include Guled, a teenager who fled conscription in al Shabaab’s youth gangs in Mogadishu, and a Somali-Sudanese couple, Muna and Monday, whose mixed-religion marriage causes an uproar. Tawane, a young Somali man who had grown up in the camps and became an influential youth leader, explains the word buufis — a term invented in Dadaab to describe the longing to leave, and the particular depression that comes after one of his friends succeeds in escaping. And there is Lamma, an Ethiopian exile who spent an hour each day collecting water for a tiny garden, “so that his child could know what it was like to sit on grass.”
Top photo: Somali men wait in line outside a registration and food distribution point in the Dadaab refugee camp in northeastern Kenya on July 5, 2011.
The post Refugee Camps Are Factories for Terrorists? Not Really. appeared first on The Intercept.
„Keine Waffen in Kinderhände – Waffenexporte stoppen“ so lautet die Forderung die durch den „Red Hand Day“, am 12. Februar 2016 in die Öffentlichkeit getragen werden soll. – Mehr dazu im neuen Newsletter! – Die Rahmenbedingungen für diesen Aktionstag könnten wohl besser nicht sein, da Umfragen zufolge schon jetzt 83% der Bundesbürger Rüstungsexporte grundsätzlich ablehnen. – Mehr dazu im neuen Newsletter! – Und: selbst Sigmar Gabriel erwägt Gerüchten zufolge die Ausarbeitung eines „Rüstungsexportgesetzes“, wodurch eine zentrale Forderung von „Aktion Aufschrei“ erfüllt würde. – Mehr dazu im neuen Newsletter!
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Red Hand Day 2016 – „Keine Waffen in Kinderhände – Waffenexporte stoppen“
Auch in diesem Jahr ist ein Schwerpunkt der Rote-Hand-Aktion und ihres Aktionstages, des Red Hand Day am 12. Februar, das Thema Waffenexporte. Vor allem richtet sich der Protest auch gegen Kleinwaffenexporte in Krisenregionen, in denen Kinder als Soldaten oder für militärische Zwecke eingesetzt werden.
Im Zuge der Aktion protestieren zum Beispiel Schulen, Aktionsgruppen oder andere Initiativen mit dem Sammeln roter Handabdrücke gegen den Einsatz von Kindersoldaten. Sie setzen sich damit auch für die sechs Forderungen der Rote-Hand-Aktion ein, darunter neben dem Stopp von Waffenexporten beispielsweise auch für die Forderung nach politischem Asyl für geflüchtete Kindersoldaten und nach mehr Geld für Kindersoldatenhilfsprogramme oder nach dem Stopp von Werbung der Bundeswehr, die sich gezielt an Minderjährig richtet (siehe auch: Forderungen des Deutschen Bündnisses Kindersoldaten).
Weitere Informationen unter:
- terre des hommes/Red Hand Day
- Aktionsbericht Red Hand Day 2015
83 Prozent der Bevölkerung sagen NEIN zum Waffenexport –
Eine Presseerklärung von „Aktion Aufschrei – Stoppt den Waffenhandel!“
Auf die Frage: „Einmal grundsätzlich betrachtet, sollte Deutschland ihrer Meinung nach Waffen und andere Rüstungsgüter in andere Länder verkaufen oder nicht?“ antworteten 83 Prozent der Befragten mit ‚Nein‘! Dies ist das Ergebnis einer repräsentativen Umfrage von TNS Emnid vom 12./13. Januar 2016.
Das ist ein Auftrag an die Bundesregierung, wie er deutlicher nicht sein könnte. Die Forderung der Kampagne „Aktion Aufschrei – Stoppt den Waffenhandel!“ nach Verankerung des grundsätzlichen Verbots für den Export von Kriegswaffen und sonstigen Rüstungsgütern liegt aktuell dem Petitionsausschuss des Deutschen Bundestages zur Entscheidung vor. Jetzt ist ein klares politisches Signal möglich! Eine Ablehnung würde das NEIN der Gesellschaft zum Waffenexport ignorieren.
Die bundesweite Kampagne „Aktion Aufschrei – Stoppt den Waffenhandel!“ begrüßt die überaus breite Zustimmung in der Bevölkerung quer durch die Wählerschaft der Parteien zu einem grundsätzlichen „Nein“ zum Export von Kriegswaffen und sonstigen Rüstungsgütern. Die ablehnende Haltung in der Bevölkerung ist gegenüber einer ähnlichen Umfrage von TNS Emnid aus dem Jahre 2011 sogar noch einmal um fünf Prozentpunkte gestiegen.
Die Ablehnung gegenüber Rüstungsexporten ist in allen Parteien gestiegen. Bei der telefonischen Emnid-Umfrage, die im Auftrag der Bundestagsfraktion der Linkspartei erstellt wurde, sprachen sich 76% der CDU/CSU-Anhänger, 91% der Anhänger von SPD und Grünen sowie 92% der Links-Wähler und 88% der Nichtwähler/innen gegen den Rüstungsexport aus. Allein unter Anhängern der Rechtsaußenpartei AfD ist die Zustimmung zu Waffenausfuhren mit 44 Prozent hoch.
Genehmigungen der Bundesregierung für umfassende Waffenexporte in Krisen- und Kriegsgebiete haben dramatische Folgen: Die Waffen werden in den Empfängerländern gegen die eigene Bevölkerung eingesetzt, Millionen von Menschen müssen ihre Heimat verlassen. Wer Fluchtursachen bekämpfen will, muss die Grenzen für Waffen schließen und für Menschen öffnen. In Artikel 26.2 des Grundgesetzes muss deshalb klargestellt werden: Kriegswaffen und sonstige Rüstungsgüter werden grundsätzlich nicht exportiert.
Information: Diese Meldung und die Umfrageergebnisse dieser Frage der TNS Emnid finden Sie auch unter www.aufschrei-waffenhandel.de
Auf dem Weg zu einem Rüstungsexportgesetz?
Vor knapp zwei Jahren, im Mai 2014, erregte die Bundestagsfraktion von Bündnis ’90/Die Grünen ein größeres Medienecho, weil sie einen Antrag eingereicht hatte, in dem von der Bundesregierung die Ausarbeitung eines Rüstungsexportgesetzes gefordert wurde. Nachdem dieser Antrag nun längst Geschichte geworden ist und von den realen Ereignissen – und nicht zuletzt den Waffenexporten in den Nordirak – überrollt wurde, kündigt Sigmar Gabriel als zuständiger Ressortminister an, die Erarbeitung just eines solchen Rüstungsexportgesetzes zu erwägen, wie u. a. der Spiegel berichtete. Details eines solchen Gesetzes sind nicht nur nicht bekannt, sondern scheinen derzeit noch nicht zu existieren, da gerade erst eine Expertenkommission eingesetzt worden zu sein scheint, die Vorschläge erarbeiten soll. In einer Presseerklärung sprechen Agnieszka Brugger (Bündnis ’90/Die Grünen) und Katja Keul (Bündnis ’90/Die Grünen) bereits den an Siegmar Gabriel gerichteten Wunsch aus, es möge sich bei dieser Ankündigung nicht um eine bloße PR-Offensive handeln. Und doch: Unabhängig von der konkreten Gestalt, die ein solches etwa einmal zu erlassendes Gesetz haben könnte, deutet die Ankündigung in die richtige Richtung und setzt ein Signal gegenüber der Rüstungsindustrie. Schon jetzt scheint die Branche, wie die TAZ berichtet, teilweise verunsichert über die künftig zu erwartenden Geschäftsaussichten. Die Ankündigung, an die Ausarbeitung eines Rüstungsexportgesetzes zu gehen, dürfte die Stimmung sicherlich nicht verbessern, da jede Vereindeutigung und rechtlich verbindliche Klärung der Rüstungsexportregeln geeignet erscheint, die Transparenz des Rüstungshandels zu erhöhen und vorhandene, rechtliche Spielräume einzuschränken. So darf man gespannt sein, was das neue Jahr 2016 noch bringen mag.
Mehr Gewalt gegen Flüchtlinge – sowohl in Quantität als auch in Qualität
In den zwölf Monaten des Jahres 2015 soll es 1005 Übergriffe auf Flüchtlinge gegeben haben. Eine entsprechende Zahl nennt zumindest Spiegel Online unter Verweis auf das Bundeskriminalamt.
Im Vergleich zum Vorjahreszeitraum 2014, in dem es zu 199 Übergriffen gekommen sein soll, bedeutet dies eine Verfünffachung. Bei rund 10% dieser Übergriffe soll es sich um Anschläge auf Flüchtlingsunterkünfte gehandelt haben.
Eine Erhebung der Zeit weist darauf hin, dass die Aufklärungsquote bei diesen Delikten verschwindend gering sei. Im Jahr 2015 sei es zu insgesamt nur zwölf Anklageerhebungen gekommen, das entspricht einer Quote von 5,45 %. In rund 25% der Fälle sei es der Polizei mittlerweile gelungen, Tatverdächtige zu identifizieren.
Das neue Jahr hat kaum begonnen, da wird bekannt, dass im hessischen Dreieich ein syrischer Flüchtling durch Schüsse verletzt worden sei. In Villingen-Schwenningen sei eine Handgranate auf einen Container einer Flüchtlingsunterkunft geworfen worden, die jedoch nicht expoldiert sei.
Zeitgleich wird darüber berichtet, dass die Verkäufe von Schreckschuss- und Signalwaffen seit Monaten stark gestiegen sind und die Nachfrage nach solchen Waffen ungebrochen anhält. Wer die Käufer solcher Waffen sind, ist natürlich nicht bekannt, aber einer Anfrage der SPD-Landtagsfraktion in Hessen ist zu entnehmen, dass in Hessen im Jahr 2012 bekennende RechtsextremistInnen 14 Schusswaffen legal besitzen durften. Diese Zahl hat sich bis zum Jahr 2015 jedoch auf 90 Waffen mehr als versechsfacht.
Im Jahr 1993 sorgte Hans Magnus Enzensberger mit seinem kleinen Buch „Aussichten auf den Bürgerkrieg“ für einiges Aufsehen. Und heute ist es der Freitag, in dem „Absurde Gedanken über Krieg und Bürgerkrieg“ in Europa und Deutschland als eine Möglichkeit in den Raum gestellt werden. Vielleicht wäre es an der Zeit, darüber nachzudenken, zivile Friedensfachkräfte nicht mehr nur in die Welt hinaus zu schicken, sondern auch in Friedensprojekten in Deutschland zum Einsatz zu bringen?
Deutsche Waffen im Nordirak
Allen Bedenken zum Trotz liefert die Bundeswehr seit 2014 Waffen an die Kurden im Nordirak. Diese Waffenexporte scheinen mittlerweile zu einer Art Normalität geworden zu sein, zumindest weist die GKKE in ihrem Rüstungsexportbericht 2015 darauf hin (siehe S. 16), dass sich der Begründungszusammenhang, aus dem heraus die entsprechenden Waffenlieferungen legitimiert werden sollen, verändert hat:
Stand bei der Entscheidung im vergangenen Jahr der unmittelbare Handlungszwang des humanitären Schutzes der Jesiden im Vordergrund, so sind es jetzt vor allem die sicherheitspolitischen Begründungen, wie die Unterstützung der kurdischen Regionalregierung und der Peschmerga im Kampf gegen den IS. Mit der Genehmigung der Ausbildungsmission durch die Bundeswehr werden weitere Waffen- und Munitionslieferungen an die Peschmerga zur Routineangelegenheit. Derzeit mehren sich Meldungen, dass die Waffen nicht immer an ihren Bestimmungsort gelangt oder zumindest nicht dort geblieben sind. So sollen Waffen aus der Lieferung der Bundeswehr an die PKK weitergegeben worden sein, die in Deutschland und anderen Staaten als Terrororganisation gelistet ist.
Anlässlich der Debatte über die zweite Lieferung von Waffen an die Kurden berichtete die Tagesschau am 25.September 2015 über diese Exporte:
Laut Verteidigungsministerium gibt es keine Anhaltspunkte dafür, dass die Kurden ihr Versprechen nicht einhalten, die deutschen Waffen nicht an Dritte weiterzugeben. Medienberichte, dass manche Waffen an die PKK gegangen sind, wurden nie bestätigt. Die Grünen-Abgeordnete Doris Wagner vermutet, die Bundesregierung wolle es gar nicht so genau wissen: „Wir haben mehrfach bei der Bundesregierung angefragt mit meiner Fraktion, ob sie etwas über den Verbleib der Waffen sagen könnten, und es kommt immer wieder die gleiche Antwort: ‚Es gibt keine Erkenntnisse.‘ Aber die Bundesregierung hat offenbar auch kein Interesse daran, diese Erkenntnisse zu gewinnen.“
Ende Januar berichtete nun die Tageschau über neue Erkenntnisse: Nach Recherchen von NDR und WDR würden im Nordirak Waffen aus Bundeswehrbeständen auf dem Schwarzmarkt gehandelt. Wie die G3-Schnellfeuergewehre, die in diesem Fall dokumentiert wurden, dorthin gelangten, ist nicht bekannt, aber im Bericht wird ein ehemaliger Peschmerga-Kämpfer zitiert, der behauptet, „etwa 100 Peschmerga“ zu kennen, „die in den vergangenen Monaten ihre Waffen verkauft hätten, um zu fliehen.“ Die Wellen schlagen hoch. Während laut Zeit die Bundesregierung nach Aufklärung verlangt, findet Alfred Hackensberger von der Welt das alles nicht so schlimm, da ja auch sonst manchmal Bundeswehr-Waffen verloren gehen. Die von Hackensberger gemachte Unterstellung ist natürlich interessant – aber macht sie irgendetwas besser?
Niedersachsen: Großauftrag für Heckler & Koch
Die Polizei in Niedersachsen wird neue Dienstwaffen erhalten. Wie berichtet wird, sollen die rund 22.000 Waffen des Typs P2000 von Heckler & Koch schrittweise durch Waffen des Modells SFP9 von Heckler & Koch ersetzt werden. Ein Zeitraum, in dem die Umrüstung abgeschlossen sein soll, wird nicht angegeben, es scheint jedoch, als sollten die vorhandenen Waffen nur dann ausgemustert und durch neue ersetzt werden, wenn Schäden aufreten oder die Waffen ihre prognostizierte Lebenserwartung von 20 Jahren überschritten haben. Das Gesamtvolumen des Geschäfts soll sich auf rund 7,5 Millionen Euro belaufen. Was mit den Altwaffen geschehen wird, scheint derzeit noch nicht ganz geklärt. Wie im Falle der brandenburgischen Polizeiwaffen wird jedoch auch in Niedersachsen eine Verschrottung erwogen.
Waffen mit Zukunft: Atomwaffen
Am 12. Januar erreichte das fünfte von TKMS in Kiel gebaute U-Boot Israel. Das als Atomwaffenträger konzipierte Boot vervollständigt die Befähigung der israelischen Armee zu nuklearen Erst- und Zweitschlägen und festigt somit die militärische Vormachtstellung Israels. Während Atomwaffen in den derzeit dominierenden asymmetrischen Konfliktsituationen teilweise als anachronistische Relikte einer längst vergangenen Epoche erscheinen, zeigt ein Blick auf die Forschungs- und Beschaffungsprogramme der anderen westlichen Atomwaffen-Staaten, dass Israel keineswegs eine Sonderstellung einnimmt, sondern eher als symptomatischer Fall betrachtet werden kann.
Frankreich hat bereits Ende der 1990er Jahre mit der Modernisierung seiner seegetützten Atomwaffenträger begonnen und in den Jahren 1997, 1999, 2004 und 2010 insgesamt vier U-Boote der Triomphant-Klasse beschafft. Diese nuklear angetriebenen U-Boote sollen in den kommenden Jahren mit der von EADS neu entwickelten M51-Rakete bestückt werden. Auf Grund technischer Probleme verzögert sich die Umrüstung derzeit noch.
In den USA besteht das Ohio Replacement Programme, mit dessen Hilfe ein Nachfolger für die in die Jahre gekommenen U-Boote der Ohio-Klasse entwickelt werden soll. Die Ohio-Klasse war und ist Trägerplattform für die atomar bestückbaren Trident-Raketen. Gerüchten zufolge will das Pentagon in den kommenden fünf Jahren für die Beschaffung dieser U-Boote 13 Milliarden US-Dollar bereitstellen. In Großbritannien schließlich sorgt das Successor Programme, in dessen Rahmen ein Nachfolge-Modell für die Boote der Vanguard-Klasse entwickelt werden soll, für Schlagzeilen. Der Grund sind dabei weniger ethische Bedenken als schlicht die erwarteten Kosten.
Der U-Boot-Export nach Israel ist hierfür zwar nicht exemplarisch, da die Kosten von rund 500 Millionen Euro nicht von Israel allein aufgebracht werden mussten, sondern auch durch Subventionen des Bundeshaushalts aufgebracht wurden. Weder in Israel noch in Deutschland haben die entstandenen Kosten für Unmut gesorgt. Anders gestaltet sich die Lage jedoch in Großbritannien. Dort wird das Successor Programme insbesondere durch die in der Opposition befindliche Labour-Partei auf das Schärfste kritisiert. Hinzu kommt, dass der Labour-Spitzenkandidat Jeremy Corbyn ein erklärter Gegner von Atomwaffen ist und in der Vergangenheit für den bedingungslosen und einseitigen Verzicht Großbritanniens auf Atomwaffen eingetreten ist. Außerparlamentarischer Wortführer in der Debatte um das Successor Programme ist die Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, die in den vergangenen – und kommenden – Wochen mit mehreren Aktionstagen ihre Position in die Öffentlichkeit zu tragen bemüht war. Insbesondere aus Kreisen der Gewerkschaften wird diese klare Position für eine atomare Abrüstung mittlerweile kritisiert. Sollte das Successor Programme abgesetzt werden, so drohen Arbeitsplätze in der Rüstungsindustrie verlorenzugehen. In der Rüstungsbranche tätige Gewerkschaftsmitglieder haben mittlerweile angedroht, aus den Gewerkschaften auszutreten, sollten diese ihre rüstungskritische Position nicht modifizieren.
Trotz dieser Unstimmigkeiten macht die britische Diskussion Hoffnung: Vielleicht wird es eines Tages ja auch in Deutschland möglich sein, die nukleare Teilhabe der Bundeswehr zur Disposition zu stellen? Vielleicht wird es eines Tages auch in Deutschland möglich sein, die Entwicklung, die Produktion und den Verkauf von Trägerplattformen für Atomwaffen – also den von Deutschland produzierten U-Booten für die israelische Marine – zu verbieten?
A United Nations panel ruled on Friday that WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange is being “arbitrarily detained,” but British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond rejected what he called “a ridiculous finding.”
Although he claimed “sweet” vindication, Assange nevertheless remains confined in the Ecuadorian embassy in London where he has lived since 2012.
Assange has been fighting extradition by British authorities to Sweden, where he is wanted for questioning concerning accusations of rape and molestation. He has never been charged with a crime.
The U.N. Working Group on Arbitrary Detention called on the U.K. and Sweden “to end Mr. Assange’s deprivation of liberty, respect his physical integrity and freedom of movement, and afford him the right to compensation.”
The working group, which was established in 1991, has previously demanded the release of prominent political prisoners. In 2015, it demanded the release of Washington Post journalist Jason Rezaian, who was released last month by the government of Iran. It also ruled in favor of Burmese opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi, who was released in 2010, and Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi, who is still held in Cairo after a military coup.
Assange’s legal trouble began in 2010, several weeks after WikiLeaks released 90,000 U.S. intelligence reports on the Afghanistan War. Swedish prosecutors issued an arrest warrant for Assange, demanding that he be extradited to Stockholm to face questioning on accusations of sexual assault. Assange was arrested in London, but fought his extradition, claiming that he was at risk of being extradited again to the Untied States, where he was facing detention and a potential indictment under draconian espionage laws.
In 2012, after exhausting his appeals, Assange was granted asylum by Ecuador. But the British government refused to allow him to board a plane, resulting in three years of confinement and legal limbo inside the Ecuadorian Embassy in London.
The Swedish government repeatedly declined to send investigators to question Assange in London. In 2014, a Swedish appeals court scolded prosecutors for failing “to examine alternative avenues … to move the preliminary investigation forward.”
Until October 2015, Scotland Yard kept the embassy under 24-hour surveillance, spending nearly £11.1 million of taxpayer money. Surveillance was scaled back after a local radio station obtained the financial records under the Freedom of Information Act.
Top photo: On the balcony of the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange holds a report of the judgment of the U.N. Working Group on Arbitrary Detention on his case.
The post Julian Assange Remains “Deprived of Liberty” After U.K. Rejects U.N. Ruling appeared first on The Intercept.
The Pentagon today released 198 photos related to its investigations into abuse of detainees by U.S. forces in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The photos are mainly close-up shots of arms, feet, heads, hands, or joints, sometimes showing bruises or scabs. Faces are redacted with black bars. It’s not always clear where each of the photos was taken, but they come from internal military investigations and have dates ranging from 2003 to 2006. Sometimes the marks on the prisoners’ skin are labeled with tape measuring the size of the wound, or a coin or pen for comparison.long maintained that the photos, if released, could cause grievous harm to national security because they could be used for propaganda by groups like al Qaeda and the Islamic State. The legal case has stretched on for more than a decade, since 2004, when the American Civil Liberties Union first sued to obtain photos beyond the notorious images that had been leaked from the prison at Abu Ghraib.
It has been reported that some of the 2,000 images show soldiers posing with dead bodies, kicking and punching detainees or posing them stripped naked next to female guards. The 198 photos that were released today do not show any of this.
“These are only about 10 percent, and presumably the least graphic 10 percent, of the larger set the ACLU sued for,” said Katherine Hawkins, senior counsel at the Constitution Project and a longtime investigator into the United States’ treatment of detainees. “For the most part, it is very difficult to understand exactly what we’re seeing. But some of them are still pretty ugly.”
President Barack Obama planned to release all of the images in 2009, but reversed course after objections from the top U.S. commander in Iraq, as well as then-Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. Congress then created an exemption to the Freedom of Information Act that allowed the secretary of defense to certify that releasing the photos would put American lives at risk. That certification would have to be renewed every three years, and this time around, in November, Defense Secretary Ash Carter decided that these 198 pictures no longer needed to be kept hidden.
The ACLU is still fighting in court for the rest of the photos, arguing that the government’s process doesn’t go far enough in individually considering whether each image truly deserves to stay secret.
“Today’s release illustrates just a small portion of the real-life horror story that was the U.S. government’s practice of torture,” said Naureen Shah, director of Amnesty International USA’s Security and Human Rights Program, in a statement.
The post Pentagon Releases Photos of Detainee Abuse in Iraq and Afghanistan appeared first on The Intercept.
Twitter announced on Friday that it has shut down over 125,000 user accounts for promoting violent threats or terrorist acts, mostly having to do with ISIS, in less than a year.
At the same time, the company made it clear that there is no automated way of distinguishing between protected speech and what it considers violations of its rules.
“As many experts and other companies have noted, there is no ‘magic algorithm’ for identifying terrorist content on the internet, so global online platforms are forced to make challenging judgment calls based on very limited information and guidance,” the company said.
“As an open platform for expression, we have always sought to strike a balance between the enforcement of our own Twitter Rules covering prohibited behaviors, the legitimate needs of law enforcement, and the ability of users to share their views freely — including views that some people may disagree with or find offensive,” the company said.
Just last month, top national security officials parachuted into Silicon Valley to meet with technology executives and ask for technology “that could make it harder for terrorists to use the internet … or easier for us to find them when they do.”
Scientists tend to agree that this is impossible, based on the rarity of terrorist attacks and the unique, unpredictable circumstances surrounding them — though it hasn’t stopped companies like CIA-funded Palantir from trying. These efforts have been criticized because they generate too many false positives, and cast suspicion on far more innocent people than true terrorists lurking in their midst.
Algorithms are better for exerting social control or monitoring political views than they are for predicting large-scale violence.
Twitter’s new policy instead stresses the importance of human monitoring, reports from users, and delicate decision making.
Twitter’s system doesn’t sound all that different from what Facebook does. Facebook reportedly has a team dedicated to responding to user complaints, which then will look for similar content in the network of the offending accounts.
Silicon Valley has pushed back on efforts made by high-ranking Sens. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., and Richard Burr, R-N.C., to essentially delegate to them the task of reporting signs of possible terrorist activity.
The post Twitter Says There’s No “Magical Algorithm” to Find Terrorists appeared first on The Intercept.
So what exactly does Hillary Clinton ask for when she gives a paid speech, like the ones she gave at Goldman Sachs? A contract for a speech she gave at the University of Nevada Las Vegas provides some answers. The contract was obtained by the Las Vegas Review-Journal in August, through the state public records law.
For that speech in October 2014, Clinton requested two payments of $112,500: The contract reveals that the speeches are tightly-controlled, including prior approval of who introduces Clinton and who moderates any question and answer session: The contract also makes clear that the speech itself is the intellectual property of Clinton:
Clinton laughed off a request to release the transcripts of her Goldman Sachs speeches two weeks ago. During the Democratic presidential debate on Thursday she was once again asked about the transcripts and replied that she would “look into” it.
The UNLV contract is not necessarily the same Clinton uses for all of her speaking arrangements. But of course Clinton could release those contracts, too, if she chose to.
- Hillary Clinton Won’t Say if She’ll Release Transcripts of Goldman Sachs Speeches
- Top Hillary Clinton PAC Donation Amounts to 222,000 Bernie Sanders Donations
- Hillary Clinton Laughs When Asked if She Will Release Transcripts of Her Goldman Sachs Speeches
- Hillary Clinton Made More in 12 Speeches to Big Banks Than Most of Us Earn in a Lifetime
- Hillary Clinton’s Single-Payer Pivot Greased by Millions in Industry Speech Fees
The post Here’s What Hillary Clinton’s Paid Speaking Contract Looks Like appeared first on The Intercept.
Taken at face value, Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz’s latest fund-raising pitch to supporters is either impossible, illegal, or a scam.
In an email his campaign blasted out on Tuesday, Cruz wrote: “I just got off the phone with a few very generous supporters who — after our big win in Iowa last night — have pledged huge support for my campaign.”
The donors “have agreed to match all online donations to my campaign made through the links below,” he said. The page he linked to allowed supporters to give up to $5,400 ($2,700 for the primary election; $2,700 for the general election) and, for a 48-hour period, have their donations matched dollar for dollar.
The email did not say exactly how that would work.
Campaign finance experts, however, say there’s no way Cruz could be doing exactly what he promised without violating the law. That’s because there’s no way “a few very generous supporters” could legally be matching a large number of contributions to the campaign.
The operative rule is that individual donations to campaigns are legally capped. “If this money is going to his campaign, any one of those donors can only give a maximum of $2,700 [per cycle] including any money they have given before,” said Fred Wertheimer, a campaign finance expert at Democracy 21.
Many of Cruz’s most “generous donors” have presumably already hit that limit, which is called “maxing out.”
“I don’t know what he’s doing or how he’s doing it, but the only way that I could imagine he could be doing it that’s legal is if he’s got a bunch of not maxed-out donors who are willing to match the contributions of others until they themselves max out at $2,700,” said Paul Seamus Ryan, deputy executive director of the Campaign Legal Center.
Richard Skinner, a policy analyst at the Sunlight Foundation, speculated that the Cruz campaign could perhaps have lined up a conference call with “like a hundred contributors who have not maxed out.” In that scenario, if each one could still give $1,000 and remain below the cap, they could match $100,000 in donations — but that would be all, and Cruz didn’t say there was a limit beyond which donations would no longer be matched.
Rick Tyler, a Cruz campaign spokesman, said he was only “vaguely familiar” with the program but said that “you have to get multiple people to agree to do it.”
He then emailed me the following statement: “I am not going to get into specifics about the performance of our match program. Suffice is to say it meets compliance standards for reporting. We have enough donors to match new contributions under the program. This program has been widely used successfully by many campaigns.” He pointed me toward similar email campaigns, including one just the other day from fellow Republican presidential candidate Marco Rubio. The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee actually offers a triple match.
But if Cruz is telling the truth about the match being covered with only “a few very generous donors” he spoke to on the phone, the only way that could work would be if his campaign is either ignoring the campaign donation limit — or the donors are giving the “matching funds” money to a Cruz-affiliated super PAC.
Neither of those would be remotely legal.
After recent Supreme Court decisions such as Citizens United and SpeechNow — and with the Federal Election Commission almost totally paralyzed by its three Republican members — there isn’t much operative campaign finance law left on the books. Super PACs, for instance, are allowed to accept unlimited contributions as long as they don’t coordinate directly with campaigns. But it seems that every campaign, with the exception of Bernie Sanders’s, is constantly finding new ways to weasel around that restriction.
One of the few rules still standing, however, is that $2,700 limit to campaign giving. Another is that federal candidates are not allowed to solicit more than $5,000 in super PAC contributions from any one person.
“If it is not a large pool of donors, if it is truly just a few generous supporters, it does appear that taking him at his word that his strategy runs afoul of the law one way or the other,” Krumholtz said.
The rule about solicitation is outlined in an FEC advisory opinion from 2011. According to the federal statute in question, which dates back to the McCain-Feingold soft money ban of 2002, “a candidate, individual holding Federal office, agent of a candidate or an individual holding Federal office … shall not … solicit, receive, direct, transfer, or spend funds in connection with an election for Federal office, including funds for any Federal election activity, unless the funds are subject to the limitations, prohibitions, and reporting requirements of this Act.”
And there’s no wiggle room. “To direct,” according to federal regulations, “means to guide, directly or indirectly, a person who has expressed an intent to make a contribution, donation, transfer of funds, or otherwise provide anything of value, by identifying a candidate, political committee or organization, for the receipt of such funds, or things of value.”
To solicit “means to ask, request, or recommend, explicitly or implicitly, that another person make a contribution, donation, transfer of funds, or otherwise provide anything of value.”
According to Ryan of the Campaign Legal Center, “If the matching contributions by Senator Cruz’s ‘very generous supporters’ are going to a super PAC and exceed $5,000 by any one supporter, Cruz is violating the federal law that prohibits candidates from soliciting or directing soft money to super PACs.”
And it’s hard to imagine Cruz denying he played a part. “The problem there would be that he was on the phone call, strategically planning this campaign,” said Krumholtz. “How do you walk that back?”
Cruz could be counting on the fact that the FEC won’t rouse itself even for such a blatant violation.
“There’s no enforcement of the campaign finance laws — all the campaigns and political operatives know that,” said Wertheimer. “There are three Republican commissioners at the FEC who block enforcement of the laws. So it’s the Wild West without a sheriff.
“As long as you think there is going to be no enforcement of the law, it’s just up to each political operative or campaign to decide what they want to do,” Wertheimer said. “It’s a voluntary system, the way the FEC treats it.”
Of course there’s one other possibility: That the whole thing is just a fake marketing gimmick, a scam.
Cruz ended the email with a definite whopper. He told his email subscribers that he will “never get — nor do I want — money from the D.C. lobbyists or the special interest billionaires.”
That would be news to billionaire Robert Mercer, the New York hedge funder who originally met Cruz at a meeting of the Club for Growth, a prominent D.C. special interest group, then gave $11 million to Keep The Promise, a Cruz super PAC.
Another billionaire, energy investor Toby Negegebauer, gave $10 million to one of Cruz’s super PACs. Farris and Dan Wilks, two billionaire brothers who were enriched by the Texas fracking industry, gave $15 million to a Cruz super PAC.
As for Cruz’s pledge that he has never received money from D.C. lobbyists, that’s also demonstrably false. A number of lobbyists have given to his campaign for a total of $5,700, according to Opensecrets.org.
They include James Hyland, the president of the Pennsylvania Avenue Group, which instructs visitors to its website: “Even if you are unsure if you need our lobbying assistance, make an appointment to discuss your options.”
There’s also Ed Rogers, chairman of the lobbying powerhouse BGR Group; Andrew Biar, the founder of Strategic Public Affairs; Jewell Patek, owner of Patek & Associates; and Joseph Mondello, principal of the Mondello Group, who was recently arrested after a worker who failed to fix his computer told police that Mondello became enraged, told him, “You’re not leaving until you fix this,” then pulled out a gun and said, “I’m going to kill you slowly.”
Overall, however, Hillary Clinton’s campaign has received far and away the most donations from lobbyists, with Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio her nearest competitors.
The post Ted Cruz’s Promise That Big Donors Will Match Campaign Donations Could Break Rules appeared first on The Intercept.
Tilo Jung von „Jung&Naiv“ fragt bei Dr. Schäfer, dem Sprecher des Auswärtigen Amtes, nach, wie das so ist, mit dem Völkerrecht und dem Syrieneinsatz.
BEFORE EVERY PHONE CALL that Fatuma Hashi has with her brother Mahdi, FBI agents come on the line to tell her what she is not permitted to talk about. “You’re not allowed to speak about political issues. Or whatever’s happening in the outside world. Or his case,” she told The Intercept.
Mahdi Hashi, a young man of Somali origin who grew up in London, had never been to the United States before he was imprisoned in the 10-South wing of the Metropolitan Correctional Center in lower Manhattan in November 2012, when he was 23. For over three years, he has been confined to a small cell 23 hours a day without natural light, with an hour alone in a slightly larger indoor cage. He has had no physical contact with anyone. Apart from occasional visits by his lawyer, his human interaction has been limited to brief, transactional exchanges with guards and a monthly 30-minute phone call with his family.
Yet most of Hashi’s time in solitary confinement occurred before he had been deemed guilty by the justice system. Prolonged isolation prior to or in the absence of trial, sensory deprivation, and a lack of independent monitoring are normally associated with the detention center at Guantánamo Bay and CIA black sites overseas. But the MCC’s 10-South wing, which houses terrorism suspects, is no different in these respects. A former MCC prisoner and a psychologist specializing in trauma told The Intercept that the kind of extreme isolation imposed on defendants there can pressure them to accept a guilty plea, irrespective of actual guilt.
For Hashi, who worked at a community youth organization in London, everything changed when he was approached by MI5, the U.K.’s domestic intelligence agency. He was pressured to become an informant, according to accounts he gave to rights groups and local authorities, but refused, despite being warned that doing so would make his life difficult.
In 2012, while Hashi was visiting Somalia, the British government used special powers to strip him of his citizenship, leaving him stateless. He crossed into neighboring Djibouti to visit the British consulate there, he claims, and appeal the decision. U.S. prosecutors allege he was traveling to Yemen to join al Qaeda.
Upon entering Djibouti, Hashi was arrested by agents of the secret police and forced to watch other prisoners gagged, blindfolded, and beaten for hours, he alleges in case filings, with the complicity of FBI agents and other unidentified Americans. According to defense attorneys, Hashi was threatened with physical abuse and rape if he did not cooperate.
In November 2012, he was transported to New York by the U.S. government to face charges of supporting al Shabaab, the Somali terrorist organization. Prosecutors say he traveled to Somalia to attend a training camp and fight with al Shabaab in Somalia’s civil war. They accept that Hashi poses no specific threat to any Americans and that he received “harsh treatment” in Djibouti.
In May 2015, after two-and-a-half years of isolation, Hashi entered a guilty plea of conspiring to provide material support to al Shabaab. Last week, on January 29, he was sentenced to nine years in prison. He will likely be incarcerated at a Supermax facility in Colorado or a high-security “communications management unit” in Illinois or Indiana, all of which mean ongoing solitary confinement.
Government prosecutors were seeking 15 years, but Judge John Gleeson of the Eastern District of New York said the case was “complicated,” and accepted, in part, Hashi’s position that he joined al Shabaab not to engage in violent attacks but because he thought the group could restore peace to war-torn Somalia. “I believe you believe this organization you joined was dramatically different than what you thought or hoped it would be,” Judge Gleeson said.
For Fatuma Hashi, the U.S. government’s approach is hard to understand. “He was in his own country,” she said. “It had nothing to do with the United States. Why does this country that has nothing to do with us have a say in his life?”
Fatuma cannot fully share with journalists what she knows about her brother’s treatment in the MCC, a gray slab of a building that goes largely unnoticed by the office workers and tourists walking the streets near the Manhattan end of the Brooklyn bridge. Government restrictions — known as “special administrative measures,” or SAMs — prevent prisoners, their attorneys, and family members from describing the conditions inside the high-security unit to the wider public, shrouding New York’s little Guantánamo in secrecy.Psychological damage
In an account to be published in a new book on solitary confinement — titled Hell Is a Very Small Place — a Pakistani prisoner, Uzair Paracha, gives one of the most detailed illustrations yet of incarceration at the MCC. He was held in isolation there for two-and-a-half years after he was arrested in 2003 at age 23.
“The windows were huge but the glass was frosted so we had a lot of light but couldn’t see a thing,” he said. “It was a shade of white during the day, blue in the evening and early morning, black at night, and yellow when it snowed, as the snow reflected the streetlights. This was one way to estimate the time since they didn’t allow any watches.”
Video cameras constantly monitored the inside of Paracha’s cell, including the shower and toilet areas. Lighting was completely controlled from the outside, so that guards could deliberately leave the lights on at night to make sleeping harder. With their metallic walls, the cells were like ovens in the summer and freezing in the winter.
The medical effects of Paracha’s imprisonment at the MCC were severe: a weakening of his eyesight, brought about by having his entire world just a few feet away; a deterioration of physical coordination that made walking on stairs harder; and breathing problems, especially while trying to sleep.
Dr. Kate Porterfield is a clinical psychologist at the Bellevue/New York University Program for Survivors of Torture. She has evaluated prisoners held at various sites in America’s war on terror, including at Guantánamo. “With isolation, there’s a severing of the orienting data of our lives — the stuff that makes us feel like we are on our feet,” she told The Intercept. “This can result in paranoia, disorientation, feeling confused about whether your perceptions match reality, and not being sure who to trust.”
“That’s very dangerous to someone’s psyche,” she added. “It’s not just about feeling depressed because you’re in prison. The defendant ought to be oriented enough in the realities of their life and world that they can contribute to their own defense. A sense of paranoia and suspicion hampers the defendant in trying to connect with his or her legal team so that they can discuss and investigate the case.”
If a person has experienced torture or coercive interrogation before being put in isolation, they are even more vulnerable, Dr. Porterfield said. “There is then a greater likelihood of psychological damage and even less chance for recovery in any real sense.”
Indeed, virtually every academic study has concluded that solitary confinement has serious mental health consequences. These begin after 60 days and resemble the acute reactions suffered by torture and trauma victims.
The average length of time that defendants in federal terrorism prosecutions spend in solitary confinement prior to trial is 22 months, according to a 2014 report by Human Rights Watch and the Columbia Law School Human Rights Institute. Amnesty International has stated that pre-trial solitary confinement at the MCC amounts to “cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment.”
At least one prisoner who has been held at both the MCC and Guantánamo has described the Manhattan jail as harsher. Ahmed Khalfan Ghailani, who was convicted of involvement in the 1998 bombings of two U.S. embassies in East Africa, told his psychiatrist that Guantánamo is “more pleasant” and “more relaxed” than the isolation section at the MCC. At Guantánamo, he said, prisoners were not strip-searched and could associate together for recreational activities.
Joshua Dratel, an attorney who has represented clients at Guantánamo as well as the MCC, has also said the New York jail is worse.A tool for prosecutors
The one advantage that prisoners at the MCC are supposed to have over their counterparts in Guantánamo is that they are subject to trial in a criminal court rather than a military tribunal. However, the use of pre-trial solitary confinement has become, in effect if not intent, a tool for prosecutors to skew the judicial process in their favor.
Experts like Dr. Porterfield emphasize how extreme isolation can induce a desire to accept a plea. “We find again and again that isolation in prisons and the experience of maltreatment have a huge impact to the point where people do almost anything to get out of the coercive situation,” she said. “If there’s one thing the last 14 years have shown us, it’s that abuse does not lead to good information gathering.”
Laura Whitehorn was held for two months in pre-trial isolation at the MCC in 1986 on allegations of passport fraud, part of a larger conspiracy case for which she was later sentenced to 23 years in prison. “The sense of isolation, even after only two months, was so intense,” she told The Intercept. “I think, at that point, one would be ready to do almost anything to be back in human contact.”
“What was particularly horrible was the constant watching and monitoring,” Whitehorn recalled. “It was like being played with by the guards, a form of psychological taunting. I felt at any moment I could have any part of my being or body violated with impunity.”
Peter Quijano has represented several clients facing federal terrorism charges at the MCC, most of whom have been held in the jail’s isolation unit.
“It just seems obvious that if anyone, regardless of the mental state they have going in, is housed and detained in such a manner for any period of time, it has to start having an effect on them,” he said. “Anecdotally, we’ve seen increased deterioration over a period of time, especially in a pre-trial situation. It seems like a punishment and it affects their ability to assist in their defense.”
Legal visits at the MCC are hampered by the extreme temperatures in the “claustrophobic” visiting room. “It’s hard to stay there for much more than two hours,” Quijano said. Attorney and client remain in separate cages during the visits, divided by a mesh grate that makes eye contact impossible.Severe restrictions on communication
Mahdi Hashi divides his monthly phone call between his parents and siblings in London and his wife in Somalia. His sister Fatuma described being “overwhelmed with emotions” on these calls after not hearing his voice for so long. “Every day I’m in pain thinking about his situation,” she said. Fatuma, who is 24, has not seen Mahdi for six years.
She says the family has sent him books that took eight months to arrive. He never receives the letters and photographs they send. But there are strict limits on what Fatuma can say publicly about his imprisonment due to the SAMs applied in his case, which prevent Mahdi Hashi from any “oral, written, or recorded communications” with another prisoner; restrict his monthly phone calls to immediate family members; and prevent his family from sharing the content of the calls with anyone else.
Nor is Hashi allowed to communicate with journalists in any way, including via his attorney. SAMs, which are issued by the attorney general, are supposed to be specific to individual prisoners who pose “a substantial risk” of communicating messages that “could result in death or serious bodily injury to persons.”
One consequence of the SAMs is that protests by prisoners remain hidden from public view. In September 2013, a blogger claimed that Hashi was on hunger strike to protest the conditions of his imprisonment. He was reportedly hospitalized with jaundice and close to liver failure. But the protest could not be verified or discussed in more detail.
“It’s a last resort when you have so few resources to defend yourself,” said Whitehorn, the former MCC prisoner, on reports of Hashi’s hunger strike.
It has not been established whether Hashi was forced to undergo the brutal force-feeding practices used at Guantánamo, although force-feeding was applied in response to the protest of another MCC prisoner. Oussama Kassir, a Swede who went on hunger strike at the MCC eight years ago, was subjected to “medical feeding,” according to his attorney.
The people best placed to shed light on Hashi’s hunger strike — his lawyers and his family — were restricted by the SAMs, and prosecutors and prison administrators declined to comment. According to the blogger, the FBI cut off a phone call from Hashi to his father — in which Hashi described the protest — after one minute, but the SAMs mean we cannot know if this actually happened.
Saghir Hussain, Hashi’s British lawyer, has spoken with his client about the conditions of his incarceration, but is prevented from sharing such information. Hashi’s American lawyer did not respond to multiple requests for comment.
Mahdi Hashi’s prosecution provides one model of how the U.S. government deals with Western citizens accused of fighting with jihadi organizations overseas: coercive interrogation outside of U.S. jurisdiction, transportation to the isolation unit of a federal jail in New York, solitary confinement and restricted communication in conditions of secrecy until a guilty plea is made, then a lengthy incarceration at a high-security prison.
From one perspective, this approach seems to respect the rule of law. But look a little closer and it becomes clear that there are possibilities for abuse equivalent to or worse than at Guantánamo.
Top photo: Razor wire hangs on a railing at the Metropolitan Correctional Center, June 9, 2009, in New York City.
The post The Guantánamo in New York You’re Not Allowed to Know About appeared first on The Intercept.
Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton had a series of momentous exchanges Thursday night over what Clinton called Sanders’s “artful smear” – the suggestion that taking massive amounts of money from corporate special interests had corrupted her.
Clinton told Sanders during Thursday’s Democratic presidential debate that he would not find a single example of money changing her mind or her vote, and she attacked him for his criticism “by innuendo, by insinuation” that “anybody who ever took donations or speaking fees from any interest group has to be bought.”
Sanders responded by citing examples of political and prosecutorial decisions in the recent past that couldn’t really be explained any other way.
Let’s talk about why, in the 1990s, Wall Street got deregulated. Did it have anything to do with the fact that Wall Street provided — spent billions of dollars on lobbying and campaign contributions?
Well, some people might think, yeah, that had some influence.
Let’s ask why it is that we pay, by far, the highest prices in the world for prescription drugs, and [the price of] your medicine can be doubled tomorrow, and there’s nothing that the government can do to stop it.…
Let’s talk about climate change. Do you think there’s a reason why not one Republican has the guts to recognize that climate change is real, and that we need to transform our energy system? Do you think it has anything to do with the Koch brothers and ExxonMobil pouring huge amounts of money into the political system?
That is what goes on in America. I am not — I like…
… there is a reason. You know, there is a reason why these people are putting huge amounts of money into our political system. And in my view, it is undermining American democracy and it is allowing Congress to represent wealthy campaign contributors and not the working families of this country.
Clinton said she herself had been the target of corporate interests:
I don’t think you could find any person in political life today who has been subjected to more attacks and had more money spent against her by special interests, among whom you have named a few, than I.
And I’m proud of that. You know, when I took on the drug companies and the insurance companies for universal health care coverage, they went after me with a vengeance.
Today, you’ve got hedge fund billionaires aligned with Karl Rove, running ads against me to try to get Democrats to vote for you. I know this game. I’m going to stop this game.
And she insisted that Wall Street was against her:
I think the best evidence that the Wall Street people at least know where I stand and where I have always stood is because they are trying to beat me in this primary. They have collected and spent as much as $6 million on these ads. Hedge fund billionaires, Karl Rove, another billionaire, jumped in.
And why are they doing that? These are guys who try to make smart investments. They know my record, they know me, they know that I say what I believe and I will do it. And I also have a pretty good understanding about how to stop them.
But as the Washington Post reported on Thursday, “donors at hedge funds, banks, insurance companies and other financial services firms had given at least $21.4 million to support Clinton’s 2016 presidential run — more than 10 percent of the $157.8 million contributed to back her bid.” In fact, the Post even noted that Hillary Clinton has now “brought in more money from the financial sector during her four federal campaigns than her husband did during his quarter-century political career.”
Sanders hasn’t directly accused Clinton of being corrupted, but his argument is essentially that no one is incorruptible – that no one could take millions of dollars in contributions and speaking fees from Wall Street and not be influenced by that.
By giving just 12 speeches to Wall Street banks, private equity firms, and other financial corporations, Clinton made $2,935,000 from 2013 to 2015 – more than many people earn in a lifetime.
More recently, Hillary Clinton’s affiliated super PAC has depended on the extraordinary largess of billionaires: George Soros gave Priorities USA $7 million last year, pro-Israel billionaire power couple Haim and Cheryl Saban each gave $2.5 million, as did financiers Donald Sussman and Herbert Sandler.
Clinton didn’t necessarily say that money has no influence on anyone, she said it has no influence on her.
But the obvious, inevitable influence of massive campaign donations in particular has been a central element of Sanders’s campaign. And he’s had extraordinary success in collecting small donations – averaging $27 – from millions of supporters, keeping him competitive with Clinton and her more deep-pocketed donors.
Clinton’s relationship with Goldman Sachs has become a particular flashpoint. Clinton was asked Thursday night if she would release the transcripts from her private, highly paid speeches there – and elsewhere. She demurred.
Sanders had a lot to say about Wall Street in general, and Goldman Sachs in particular:
Wall Street is perhaps the most powerful economic and political force in this country. You have companies like Goldman Sachs, who just recently paid a settlement fine with the federal government for $5 billion for defrauding investors.
Goldman Sachs was one of those companies whose illegal activity helped destroy our economy and ruin the lives of millions of Americans. But this is what a rigged economy and a corrupt campaign finance system and a broken criminal justice is about. These guys are so powerful that not one of the executives on Wall Street has been charged with anything after paying, in this case of Goldman Sachs, a $5 billion fine.
Kid gets caught with marijuana, that kid has a police record. A Wall Street executive destroys the economy, $5 billion settlement with the government, no criminal record. That is what power is about. That is what corruption is about. And that is what has to change in the United States of America.
The post Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders Brawl Over His “Insinuation” That She’s Corrupt appeared first on The Intercept.
During the Democratic presidential debate Thursday evening, MSNBC moderator Chuck Todd picked a question offered by a viewer and pointedly asked Hillary Clinton if she would release the transcripts of her paid speeches to giant investment bank Goldman Sachs. Todd then broadened the question, asking: “Are you willing to release the transcripts of all your paid speeches?”
It was the second time Clinton has been asked if she would release transcripts of the paid speeches she gave behind closed doors. When I asked her in Manchester, New Hampshire two weeks ago, Clinton simply laughed and turned away.
Asked this time on network television, she said, “I will look into it. I don’t know the status, but I will certainly look into it.”
Watch the video below:
Clinton went on to say that she made money from paid speeches by talking “about issues that had to do with world affairs,” suggesting she gave a boilerplate talk. But according to accounts offered by several attendees of one of the Goldman Sachs speeches, Clinton reassured the crowd, telling them that banker-bashing was unproductive and foolish.
Clinton made $675,000 for three paid speeches to Goldman Sachs, a bank that is notorious for hiring former lawmakers and using its influence in government to win access to policymakers. In total, Clinton and her husband have made over $125 million on the paid speaking circuit since 2001.
Todd noted that “there were transcription services for all of those paid speeches.”
The post Hillary Clinton Won’t Say If She’ll Release Transcripts of Goldman Sachs Speeches appeared first on The Intercept.