Terroralarm am Mittelmeer: Nicht die Küstengebiete in Libyen oder in Syrien sind unsicher, laut Bild bedroht der IS „unsere“ Strände auf Mallorca und in Italien. Beweise? Null. C-Promis sind dennoch in Sorge
Von RÜDIGER GÖBEL, 4. Mai 2016 -
Sommer, Sonne, Saufen am Mittelmeer, das ist nicht mehr, Bild hat kürzlich Alarm geschlagen: „Sicherheitsbehörden warnen. Terror an unseren Ferien-Stränden geplant.“ Getarnt als Strandverkäufer sollen Selbstmordattentäter an europäischen Stränden morden, kolportiert der Springer-Boulevard. Getarnt als fliegende Händler sollen sie kommen, getarnt als Verkäufer sollen sie Touristen statt Sonnenbrillen, T-Shirts und Getränken den Tod bringen, will Bild aus Ermittlerkreisen des
FROM 2013 to 2015, the NSA and CIA doubled the number of warrantless searches they conducted for Americans’ data in a massive NSA database ostensibly collected for foreign intelligence purposes, according to a new intelligence community transparency report.
The estimated number of search terms “concerning a known U.S. person” to get contents of communications within what is known as the 702 database was 4,672—more than double the 2013 figure.
And that doesn’t even include the number of FBI searches on that database. A recently released Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court ruling confirmed that the FBI is allowed to run any number of searches it wants on that database, not only for national security probes but also to hunt for evidence of traditional crimes. No estimates have ever been released of how often that happens.
Under Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, the NSA collects hundreds of millions of digital communications at rest and in transit from the major internet backbones running in and out of the U.S., as well as from Google, Facebook, YouTube, and other companies, involving “targets” overseas
Americans’ communications are constitutionally protected from warrantless searches, but when those communications are swept up by the NSA “incidentally” to its main goal, those protections have been essentially ignored.
The Office of the Director of National Intelligence has said the practice of searching the database for American communications is not “unlawful” because the content is collected legitimately in the first place—and because there are protections against sharing Americans’ identities unless it’s absolutely necessary.
But many privacy activists, as well as lawmakers including Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., and Rep. Thomas Massie, R-Ky., describe this practice as a “backdoor” search—because it’s a way to gather evidence on Americans without getting court approval.
“If intelligence officials are deliberately searching for and reading the communications of specific Americans, the Constitution requires a warrant,” said Wyden in a press release in June 2014.
The ODNI Director of Legislative Affairs, Dierdre M Walsh, wrote in a 2013 letter to Wyden that the NSA approved 198 searches, or “queries” for the content of American communications in the 702 database—while the CIA approved “fewer than 1900” queries— for about 2100 overall.
That’s the number that more than doubled in 2015. But the ODNI doesn’t make its transparency reports easy to understand, leaving open the possibility of misinterpretation. For instance, the 2015 figure includes “recurring queries”—basically searches using the same terms more than once. In 2013, the NSA said its estimate “may” have included repeated queries counted individually. That could account for some of the increase between 2013 and 2015.
However, the number of queries for metadata–information about who the communications are to and from, and so on, rather than their content–also went up dramatically.
According to the 2014 letter to Wyden, NSA conducted “approximately 9,500 queries” of American metadata in 2013, including repeated queries—and excluding CIA searches, because the agency doesn’t track that information.
In 2015, the ODNI reported 23,800 searches on metadata—excluding “one IC element” that couldn’t provide statistics—presumably the CIA.
“The number of backdoor searches doubling since last reported shows that warrantless Section 702 surveillance is a significant and growing problem for Americans,” Jake Laperruque, privacy fellow at the Constitution Project, wrote in a message to The Intercept after reading the new report.
The missing data from the FBI is of great concern to privacy advocates. The USA Freedom Act, passed in June 2015, “conspicuously exempts the FBI” from disclosing how often it searches the 702 database, the Project on Government Oversight (POGO) wrote in a letter to the Director of National Intelligence, James Clapper, in October 2015.
“There is every reason to believe the number of FBI queries far exceeds those of the CIA and NSA,” POGO wrote. “To present a fair overview of how foreign intelligence surveillance is used, it is essential that you work with the Attorney General to release statistics on the FBI’s use of U.S. person queries.”
The new report also leaves unanswered how many Americans’ communications are collected in the first place.
Fourteen lawmakers on the House Judiciary Committee sent Clapper a letter on April 22 demanding to know how often programs authorized under Section 702 vacuum up communications belonging to innocent Americans. Others, including Sen. Wyden, members of the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board, and dozens of civil liberties activist groups have been asking the same question for years.
Clapper recently said he is working to provide an estimate on the number of Americans caught up in the dragnet.
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INFLUENTIAL DEMOCRATIC CONSULTANTS, some of whom work for the Super PACs backing Hillary Clinton, have signed up to fight a bold initiative to create a state-based single-payer system in Colorado, according to a state filing posted Monday.
Coloradans for Coloradans, an ad-hoc group opposing single payer in Colorado, revealed that it raised $1 million over the first five months of this year. The group was formed to defeat Amendment 69, the ballot measure before voters this year that would change the Colorado constitution and permit a system that would automatically cover every state resident’s health care.
The anti-single-payer effort is funded almost entirely by health care industry interests, including $500,000 from Anthem Inc., the state’s largest health insurance provider; $40,000 from Cigna, another large health insurer that is current in talks to merge with Anthem; $75,000 from Davita, the dialysis company; $25,000 from Delta Dental, the largest dental insurer in the state; and $100,000 from SCL Health, the faith-based hospital chain.
Under the new system, there would be no health insurance premiums or deductibles, and all health and dental care would be paid for by the state through a new system called ColoradoCare. The plan calls for raising $25 billion through a mix of payroll taxes, along with bringing down costs through negotiations with providers.
The filing reveals that the anti-single-payer group has retained the services of Global Strategy Group, a Democratic consulting firm that has served a variety of congressional candidates and is currently advising Priorities USA Action, the Super PAC backing Clinton’s bid for the presidency.
Last month, Global Strategies Group circulated a polling memo that contends that the single-payer ballot measure can be defeated because voters “overwhelmingly reject” the idea.
But, the memo warned, the measure “has some traction with key groups,” including Democrats and millennials, and that the 2016 election year has proven difficult to predict. “[A] sustained campaign pointing out the many flaws in Amendment 69 is essential, especially in such an unpredictable environment,” the memo concluded.
After the memo appeared online last month, I called Andrew Baumann, the vice president of research at Global Strategy Group, to ask him about it, but said he could not reveal who had paid for it or why his firm was researching vulnerabilities with the single-payer initiative.
The filing shows that the firm was paid $58,000 by Coloradans for Coloradans for “consultant and professional services.”
A number of other Democratic firms have signed up to help defeat single payer, too. Hilltop Public Solutions, a firm managed by former campaign staffers to Barack Obama, was paid $45,000 by the group. Hilltop has also provided consulting services to Ready PAC, another Clinton-supporting Super PAC that eventually folded into the Clinton campaign.
The Trimpa Group, a consulting company run by Democratic strategist Ted Trimpa, also received a payment from Coloradans for Coloradans.
The Democratic consultants are listed alongside several Republican firms, including Brandeberry-McKenna Public Affairs, a GOP company that also lobbies for the drug industry.
As we previously reported, healthcare interests have mobilized to defeat Amendment 69, with the health insurance industry leading the way.
Countries such as Canada and the United Kingdom have been largely successful in providing universal healthcare at far lower costs than the U.S. using a single-payer system. Private health interests have lobbied for decades to defeat cost-saving healthcare reforms, starting with President Harry Truman’s effort to create single payer.
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Seit über einem Jahr ist die Situation in der Türkei und Nordkurdistan (kurdisch: Bakur) für große Teile der Bevölkerung unerträglich. Nicht eine Woche vergeht, ohne dass die türkische Regierung, das Militär oder die Polizei Angriffe, Massaker oder Verhaftungswellen gegen Revolutionäre und Linke durchführt. Erdogan, der amtierende Präsident geht mit der islamisch-konservativen AKP (Partei für Gerechtigkeit und Aufschwung) brutal gegen linke, revolutionäre, kurdische und demokratische Kräfte vor. Demonstrationsverbote, die Abschaffung der Pressefreiheit, haltlose Verhaftungen, Ausgangssperren und die konstante Bombardierung von ZivilistInnen sollen ein Präsidialsystem mit Erdogan an der Spitze sichern. Jede Form von Protest soll verhindert und politische GegnerInnen sowie die Bevölkerung eingeschüchtert werden.
STOP ME IF you’ve heard this one: an outsider politician who owes his station in life to the hundreds of millions he inherited from his father is running a failing campaign for office based on stoking fear of Muslims.
The word “failing” — as in 20 points down in the polls days before the election — is a clue that we are speaking about someone other than Donald Trump.
In this case, the politician’s name is Zac Goldsmith, and he is the millionaire scion of a prominent British family. He was thought of, until recently, as a mild-mannered Conservative member of Parliament, known mainly for his environmentalism and his sister’s friendship with the late Princess Diana.
For the past two months, however, he has generated waves of disgust and, polls suggest, not much sympathy, by pursuing a mayoral campaign filled with racially divisive innuendo about the supposed danger of electing his Labour Party rival, Sadiq Khan, a son of Pakistani Muslim immigrants.
The heavier the defeat for #NastyZac on Thursday, the longer it will be before the Tories dare to run a vile, racist campaign again. Vote!
— Pete Sinclair (@pete_sinclair) May 2, 2016
Things reached something of a crescendo over the weekend, when Goldsmith — advised by a political consultant whose website boasts that he was “Described by Newt Gingrich as the UK’s own ‘Lee Atwater’” — published a dog-whistle appeal to voters in the Mail on Sunday, a right-wing tabloid, that implied Khan, a moderate member of Parliament, would somehow fail to defend the British capital from Islamist terrorists.
The piece, which offered nothing more than hyperbolic claims that Khan was linked to extremists through his prior work as a human rights lawyer, ran alongside a photograph of a bus destroyed during the July 7, 2005 terror attacks in London, under the headline: “On Thursday, are we really going to hand the world’s greatest city to a Labour party that thinks terrorists are its friends?”
Zac Trump https://t.co/GuLcWFJnwc
— Hugo Rifkind (@hugorifkind) May 1, 2016
The use of that image, and the perverse implication that the Muslim candidate whose own father drove a London bus should be associated with the terrorists who carried out that atrocity, did further damage to Goldsmith’s reputation, energizing his opponents and apparently costing him the support of even some friends and Conservative colleagues.
— Billy Bragg (@billybragg) May 2, 2016
Among those who expressed disgust at the opinion piece were Sayeeda Warsi, a Conservative member of the House of Lords and the first Muslim to serve in a British cabinet, and Smith’s friend Bianca Jagger, who accused him of surrendering to his party’s Australian campaign strategist, Lynton Crosby.
— Sayeeda Warsi (@SayeedaWarsi) May 1, 2016
I am very disappointed Lynton Crosby has mastermind Zac Goldsmith's racially divisive strategy. The campaign doesn't reflect the Zac I knew
— Bianca Jagger (@BiancaJagger) May 2, 2016
Even The Times know that Zac's gone mad pic.twitter.com/q8zGh8jvgo
— Charles White (@charleswhite3) May 2, 2016
This effort to play on fears of Islamist terrorism, just days before the voters go to the polls, was perhaps the most blatant part of Goldsmith’s campaign against Khan, but, as Simon Hattenstone explained in the Guardian, it followed a concerted effort to drive a wedge between different parts of London’s large South Asian population.
The first phase of the effort, which generated alarm in March, concerned campaign literature mailed to London voters presumed to be Hindus or Sikhs, based on their last names, that seemed designed to exploit anti-Muslim tensions among different faith groups from the Indian subcontinent.
One line of attack seemed to be based on the assumption that members of those communities would reject Khan, the British-born son of Pakistanis, either because he did not attend a ceremony to welcome India’s divisive prime minister, Narendra Modi, or might impose a tax on the gold jewelry of their families.
Zac Goldsmith targeting my Hindu name to warn me that about that Muzzer Sadiq Khan. Chip off the old racist block pic.twitter.com/RRmj6dVF4u
— Atanu Roy (@atsroy) March 15, 2016
Amazed at traction from shameful Goldsmith letter sent to me on Monday. Divide Sth Asian Londoners at yr peril! https://t.co/tMh8ZGpOjn
— Pukkah Preservation (@pukkahpreserve) March 16, 2016
— Gurtej sandhu (@gsandhu) March 18, 2016
— Anita Vasisht (@Anita_Vasisht) March 19, 2016
That part of Goldsmith’s campaign led Shazia Awan, a Conservative party activist and former parliamentary candidate from Wales, to speak out about what she described as an “attitude to ethnic minority voters” that recalled colonial-era strategies of divide and rule, which she said have no place in a modern, cosmopolitan Britain.
— Shazia (@ShaziaAwan) April 6, 2016
“I always admired Goldsmith and felt he was a principled Tory, an environmental campaigner, someone who, despite the privilege he was born into, truly loves the real London and the people that make this city great,” Awan wrote in the New Statesman last month. “All I see now is a man who is too weak to stand up to those directing his campaign, and as a result ruining his own reputation and credibility in the fickle pursuit of power.”
— Shazia (@ShaziaAwan) April 25, 2016
Goldsmith’s attempt to position himself as a defender of British Indian culture also led to some inadvertent hilarity when he insisted last month that he loved the genre of Indian cinema known as Bollywood, but was immediately stumped when asked to name a single actor or film that he liked.
After Khan directly accused Goldsmith of running an Islamophobic campaign, the Conservative attempted to connect his rival to extremism by telling the Evening Standard that the Labour candidate had shown “appalling judgment” by speaking at events alongside “repellent” extremists like a Muslim cleric named Suliman Gani.
— Sadiq Khan MP (@SadiqKhan) April 11, 2016
That attempt backfired spectacularly when Gani himself revealed photographic evidence that he had also appeared with Goldsmith, and even campaigned for the Conservatives against Khan at last year’s general election over the Labour candidate’s vote for same-sex marriage.
Oh no, I just read that Zac apparently calls me 'one of the most repellent figures in this country'
Dirty politics pic.twitter.com/WWYfIcdU5h
— Suliman Gani (@sulimangani) April 13, 2016
— Suliman Gani (@sulimangani) April 13, 2016
Worth pointing out that Zac's party voted in majority against gay marriage, while Sadiq Khan voted for and received death threats for it
— Nesrine Malik (@NesrineMalik) May 2, 2016
The result of Goldsmith’s campaign is that he not only trails badly in the polls, but has inspired critics like Owen Jones, a Guardian columnist, to call on voters to deliver a landslide victory for Khan in London, where the ethnic minority population is now 44 percent.
Even Ken Livingstone, a former Labour mayor of the capital — who was repudiated by Khan last week, for bringing up Hitler in a debate over anti-Semitism — has expressed sympathy for Goldsmith’s apparent unease at saying things he probably does not believe in a desperate effort to get elected.
“Zac looks as if he’s heading for a breakdown, because he’s being forced to behave in a way that isn’t natural to him,” Livingstone told the Guardian last week. “Given the cosmopolitan nature of his family, he can’t possibly believe all this crap.” Goldsmith’s father, Sir James Goldsmith, was Jewish, and his sister, Jemima, was once married to the Pakistani cricket star turned politician Imran Khan.
Meanwhile people keep wishing me luck for the Mayoral campaign of my brother… Sadiq khan
— Jemima Goldsmith (@Jemima_Khan) March 23, 2016
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“I’ve been waiting 40 years for someone like you.” Those were the first words Daniel Ellsberg spoke to me when we met last year. Dan and I felt an immediate kinship; we both knew what it meant to risk so much — and to be irrevocably changed — by revealing secret truths.
One of the challenges of being a whistleblower is living with the knowledge that people continue to sit, just as you did, at those desks, in that unit, throughout the agency, who see what you saw and comply in silence, without resistance or complaint. They learn to live not just with untruths but with unnecessary untruths, dangerous untruths, corrosive untruths. It is a double tragedy: What begins as a survival strategy ends with the compromise of the human being it sought to preserve and the diminishing of the democracy meant to justify the sacrifice.
But unlike Dan Ellsberg, I didn’t have to wait 40 years to witness other citizens breaking that silence with documents. Ellsberg gave the Pentagon Papers to the New York Times and other newspapers in 1971; Chelsea Manning provided the Iraq and Afghan War logs and the Cablegate materials to WikiLeaks in 2010. I came forward in 2013. Now here we are in 2016, and another person of courage and conscience has made available the set of extraordinary documents that are published in The Assassination Complex, the new book out today by Jeremy Scahill and the staff of The Intercept. (The documents were originally published last October 15 in The Drone Papers.)
We are witnessing a compression of the working period in which bad policy shelters in the shadows, the time frame in which unconstitutional activities can continue before they are exposed by acts of conscience. And this temporal compression has a significance beyond the immediate headlines; it permits the people of this country to learn about critical government actions, not as part of the historical record but in a way that allows direct action through voting — in other words, in a way that empowers an informed citizenry to defend the democracy that “state secrets” are nominally intended to support. When I see individuals who are able to bring information forward, it gives me hope that we won’t always be required to curtail the illegal activities of our government as if it were a constant task, to uproot official lawbreaking as routinely as we mow the grass. (Interestingly enough, that is how some have begun to describe remote killing operations, as “cutting the grass.”)
A single act of whistleblowing doesn’t change the reality that there are significant portions of the government that operate below the waterline, beneath the visibility of the public. Those secret activities will continue, despite reforms. But those who perform these actions now have to live with the fear that if they engage in activities contrary to the spirit of society — if even a single citizen is catalyzed to halt the machinery of that injustice — they might still be held to account. The thread by which good governance hangs is this equality before the law, for the only fear of the man who turns the gears is that he may find himself upon them.
Hope lies beyond, when we move from extraordinary acts of revelation to a collective culture of accountability within the intelligence community. Here we will have taken a meaningful step toward solving a problem that has existed for as long as our government.
There are authorized leaks and also permitted disclosures. It is rare for senior administration officials to explicitly ask a subordinate to leak a CIA officer’s name to retaliate against her husband, as appears to have been the case with Valerie Plame. It is equally rare for a month to go by in which some senior official does not disclose some protected information that is beneficial to the political efforts of the parties but clearly “damaging to national security” under the definitions of our law.
This dynamic can be seen quite clearly in the al Qaeda “conference call of doom” story, in which intelligence officials, likely seeking to inflate the threat of terrorism and deflect criticism of mass surveillance, revealed to a neoconservative website extraordinarily detailed accounts of specific communications they had intercepted, including locations of the participating parties and the precise contents of the discussions. If the officials’ claims were to be believed, they irrevocably burned an extraordinary means of learning the precise plans and intentions of terrorist leadership for the sake of a short-lived political advantage in a news cycle. Not a single person seems to have been so much as disciplined as a result of the story that cost us the ability to listen to the alleged al Qaeda hotline.
If harmfulness and authorization make no difference, what explains the distinction between the permissible and the impermissible disclosure?
The answer is control. A leak is acceptable if it’s not seen as a threat, as a challenge to the prerogatives of the institution. But if all of the disparate components of the institution — not just its head but its hands and feet, every part of its body — must be assumed to have the same power to discuss matters of concern, that is an existential threat to the modern political monopoly of information control, particularly if we’re talking about disclosures of serious wrongdoing, fraudulent activity, unlawful activities. If you can’t guarantee that you alone can exploit the flow of controlled information, then the aggregation of all the world’s unmentionables — including your own — begins to look more like a liability than an asset.
At the other end of the spectrum is Manning, a junior enlisted soldier, who was much nearer to the bottom of the hierarchy. I was midway in the professional career path. I sat down at the table with the chief information officer of the CIA, and I was briefing him and his chief technology officer when they were publicly making statements like “We try to collect everything and hang on to it forever,” and everybody still thought that was a cute business slogan. Meanwhile I was designing the systems they would use to do precisely that. I wasn’t briefing the policy side, the secretary of defense, but I was briefing the operations side, the National Security Agency’s director of technology. Official wrongdoing can catalyze all levels of insiders to reveal information, even at great risk to themselves, so long as they can be convinced that it is necessary to do so.
Reaching those individuals, helping them realize that their first allegiance as a public servant is to the public rather than to the government, is the challenge. That’s a significant shift in cultural thinking for a government worker today.
I’ve argued that whistleblowers are elected by circumstance. It’s not a virtue of who you are or your background. It’s a question of what you are exposed to, what you witness. At that point the question becomes Do you honestly believe that you have the capability to remediate the problem, to influence policy? I would not encourage individuals to reveal information, even about wrongdoing, if they do not believe they can be effective in doing so, because the right moment can be as rare as the will to act.
This is simply a pragmatic, strategic consideration. Whistleblowers are outliers of probability, and if they are to be effective as a political force, it’s critical that they maximize the amount of public good produced from scarce seed. When I was making my decision, I came to understand how one strategic consideration, such as waiting until the month before a domestic election, could become overwhelmed by another, such as the moral imperative to provide an opportunity to arrest a global trend that had already gone too far. I was focused on what I saw and on my sense of overwhelming disenfranchisement that the government, in which I had believed for my entire life, was engaged in such an extraordinary act of deception.Change has to flow from the bottom to the top.
At the heart of this evolution is that whistleblowing is a radicalizing event — and by “radical” I don’t mean “extreme”; I mean it in the traditional sense of radix, the root of the issue. At some point you recognize that you can’t just move a few letters around on a page and hope for the best. You can’t simply report this problem to your supervisor, as I tried to do, because inevitably supervisors get nervous. They think about the structural risk to their career. They’re concerned about rocking the boat and “getting a reputation.” The incentives aren’t there to produce meaningful reform. Fundamentally, in an open society, change has to flow from the bottom to the top.
As someone who works in the intelligence community, you’ve given up a lot to do this work. You’ve happily committed yourself to tyrannical restrictions. You voluntarily undergo polygraphs; you tell the government everything about your life. You waive a lot of rights because you believe the fundamental goodness of your mission justifies the sacrifice of even the sacred. It’s a just cause.
And when you’re confronted with evidence — not in an edge case, not in a peculiarity, but as a core consequence of the program — that the government is subverting the Constitution and violating the ideals you so fervently believe in, you have to make a decision. When you see that the program or policy is inconsistent with the oaths and obligations that you’ve sworn to your society and yourself, then that oath and that obligation cannot be reconciled with the program. To which do you owe a greater loyalty?
One of the extraordinary things about the revelations of the past several years, and their accelerating pace, is that they have occurred in the context of the United States as the “uncontested hyperpower.” We now have the largest unchallenged military machine in the history of the world, and it’s backed by a political system that is increasingly willing to authorize any use of force in response to practically any justification. In today’s context that justification is terrorism, but not necessarily because our leaders are particularly concerned about terrorism in itself or because they think it’s an existential threat to society. They recognize that even if we had a 9/11 attack every year, we would still be losing more people to car accidents and heart disease, and we don’t see the same expenditure of resources to respond to those more significant threats.
What it really comes down to is the political reality that we have a political class that feels it must inoculate itself against allegations of weakness. Our politicians are more fearful of the politics of terrorism — of the charge that they do not take terrorism seriously — than they are of the crime itself.
As a result we have arrived at this unmatched capability, unrestrained by policy. We have become reliant upon what was intended to be the limitation of last resort: the courts. Judges, realizing that their decisions are suddenly charged with much greater political importance and impact than was originally intended, have gone to great lengths in the post-9/11 period to avoid reviewing the laws or the operations of the executive in the national security context and setting restrictive precedents that, even if entirely proper, would impose limits on government for decades or more. That means the most powerful institution that humanity has ever witnessed has also become the least restrained. Yet that same institution was never designed to operate in such a manner, having instead been explicitly founded on the principle of checks and balances. Our founding impulse was to say, “Though we are mighty, we are voluntarily restrained.”
When you first go on duty at CIA headquarters, you raise your hand and swear an oath — not to government, not to the agency, not to secrecy. You swear an oath to the Constitution. So there’s this friction, this emerging contest between the obligations and values that the government asks you to uphold, and the actual activities that you’re asked to participate in.
These disclosures about the Obama administration’s killing program reveal that there’s a part of the American character that is deeply concerned with the unrestrained, unchecked exercise of power. And there is no greater or clearer manifestation of unchecked power than assuming for oneself the authority to execute an individual outside of a battlefield context and without the involvement of any sort of judicial process.
Traditionally, in the context of military affairs, we’ve always understood that lethal force in battle could not be subjected to ex ante judicial constraints. When armies are shooting at each other, there’s no room for a judge on that battlefield. But now the government has decided — without the public’s participation, without our knowledge and consent — that the battlefield is everywhere. Individuals who don’t represent an imminent threat in any meaningful sense of those words are redefined, through the subversion of language, to meet that definition.
Inevitably that conceptual subversion finds its way home, along with the technology that enables officials to promote comfortable illusions about surgical killing and nonintrusive surveillance. Take, for instance, the Holy Grail of drone persistence, a capability that the United States has been pursuing forever. The goal is to deploy solar-powered drones that can loiter in the air for weeks without coming down. Once you can do that, and you put any typical signals collection device on the bottom of it to monitor, unblinkingly, the emanations of, for example, the different network addresses of every laptop, smartphone, and iPod, you know not just where a particular device is in what city, but you know what apartment each device lives in, where it goes at any particular time, and by what route. Once you know the devices, you know their owners. When you start doing this over several cities, you’re tracking the movements not just of individuals but of whole populations.Unrestrained power may be many things, but it’s not American.
By preying on the modern necessity to stay connected, governments can reduce our dignity to something like that of tagged animals, the primary difference being that we paid for the tags and they’re in our pockets. It sounds like fantasist paranoia, but on the technical level it’s so trivial to implement that I cannot imagine a future in which it won’t be attempted. It will be limited to the war zones at first, in accordance with our customs, but surveillance technology has a tendency to follow us home.
Here we see the double edge of our uniquely American brand of nationalism. We are raised to be exceptionalists, to think we are the better nation with the manifest destiny to rule. The danger is that some people will actually believe this claim, and some of those will expect the manifestation of our national identity, that is, our government, to comport itself accordingly.
Unrestrained power may be many things, but it’s not American. It is in this sense that the act of whistleblowing increasingly has become an act of political resistance. The whistleblower raises the alarm and lifts the lamp, inheriting the legacy of a line of Americans that begins with Paul Revere.
The individuals who make these disclosures feel so strongly about what they have seen that they’re willing to risk their lives and their freedom. They know that we, the people, are ultimately the strongest and most reliable check on the power of government. The insiders at the highest levels of government have extraordinary capability, extraordinary resources, tremendous access to influence, and a monopoly on violence, but in the final calculus there is but one figure that matters: the individual citizen.
And there are more of us than there are of them.
From The Assassination Complex: Inside the Government’s Secret Drone Warfare Program by Jeremy Scahill and the staff of The Intercept, with a foreword by Edward Snowden and afterword by Glenn Greenwald, published by Simon & Schuster.
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IN A RECENT INTERVIEW with USA Today, Phil Knight, the co-founder and chair of Nike, expressed puzzlement over Americans’ anger about trade agreements like NAFTA, and concern that this anger is having an effect on the presidential race.
“Everybody’s railing on NAFTA now,” said Knight, currently the 16th-richest person in the U.S., “but since 1996, when we signed NAFTA, the gross national product of the United States has risen three times. Do we really think it would have gone up more than that if we didn’t have trade agreements?”
Knight’s frustration might be understandable if it had some connection to reality. It does not.
The U.S. economy has not tripled in size — or to put it another way, grown by 200 percent — since the signing of NAFTA.
According to the Bureau of Economic Analysis, the U.S. real gross domestic product has actually grown by just 69 percent, or a third of what Knight believes, since the beginning of 1994. (NAFTA was signed in 1993, not 1996, and took effect on January 1, 1994.)
Moreover, if Knight knew the most basic facts about the U.S. economy he would have realized he was wrong without checking. For the GDP to triple in size in 22 years would require an average annual growth rate of over 5 percent — but the U.S. economy didn’t grow that fast, year over year, even once from 1994 to 2016.
So how has Knight latched onto this blatantly wrong factoid? Possibly because there is something that’s tripled in size in the past 20 years: Knight’s own net worth. According to Forbes, Knight’s net worth in 1996 was, adjusted for inflation, about $8 billion; today it’s $25 billion. You can understand why he’d be convinced the economy is in great shape.
And it’s not just Knight: a belief in blatantly wrong numbers is a tradition among U.S. elites anxious about elections and trade. In December 2007, the Washington Post editorial page was similarly concerned that Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton were listening to voters’ concerns about trade deals. Why didn’t anyone care about NAFTA’s benefits for Mexico, the Post wondered, since its GDP had “more than quadrupled since 1987″?
In fact, Mexico’s economy had grown by just 84 percent from 1987 to 2007, not 300 percent. The Post failed to correct its made-up statistic even after the paper’s own fact checker called it “misleading,” and it’s still sitting there on the Post website nine years later.
This is why being an American feels sort of like being a passenger on a plane approaching the Rockies when the flight crew announces there’s a big tunnel in Mt. Elbert and they’re going to fly through it to the other side. You’d like to think they’re lying and will pull up at the last second. But in fact they honestly believe that, and are going to plow the plane right into the side of the mountain.
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(The English version of this article can be read here.)
UM JUIZ ESTADUAL determinou que as operadoras de telefonia bloqueassem o WhatsApp, serviço de mensagens online extremamente popular em todo o país, por 72 horas. A decisão, emitida em 26 de abril, tornou-se pública hoje quando foi notificada às operadoras de telefonia. Ela entrou em vigor às 14h; a partir deste horário, as pessoas que tentaram usar o serviço no Brasil não podiam se conectar, nem enviar ou receber qualquer mensagem. O não cumprimento da decisão sujeitará as prestadoras a uma multa de 500 mil reais por dia.
O WhatsApp é o aplicativo mais utilizado no Brasil, um país de 200 milhões de pessoas (ele é agora propriedade do Facebook, o segundo aplicativo mais usado no país). Estimativas apontam que 91 porcento dos brasileiros usuários de telefonia móvel – mais de 100 milhões de indivíduos – usam o WhatsApp para se comunicar gratuitamente (o app tem 900 milhões de usuários ativos diariamente ao redor do mundo). Os brasileiros passaram a manhã, durante as horas anteriores ao bloqueio, enviando mensagens no WhatsApp avisando que o serviço seria interrompido por três dias.
A determinação foi feita pelo mesmo juiz, Marcel Maia Montalvão, de uma pequena cidade no estado de Sergipe, que dois meses atrás ordenou a detenção do Vice Presidente do Facebook na América Latina, Diego Dzodan, por conta da indisposição do WhatsApp em cooperar com uma intimação feita como parte de uma investigação criminal. O juiz disse que a detenção foi justificada pelo “reiterado descumprimento de ordens judiciais” pelo Facebook em uma investigação de tráfico de drogas. Em conformidade com a determinação, Dzodan foi preso pela polícia federal e mantido sob custódia por um dia inteiro, até que um tribunal de apelação anulou a ordem.
Depois, o executivo do Facebook insistiu que “da maneira como a informação está criptografada de um telefone para o outro, não há nenhuma informação armazenada que possa ser entregue às autoridades”. O WhatsApp também disse: “O WhatsApp não pode fornecer informações que não tem”. Segundo a Folha de S. Paulo, maior jornal do Brasil, a ordem para a suspensão do WhatsApp de hoje decorre daquele mesmo caso.
A determinação extraordinária reflete o que está se tornando uma controvérsia global na luta das companhias de tecnologia para oferecer criptografia “end-to-end” aos seus usuários. Esse serviço, que tem cada vez mais demanda na sequência das reportagens sobre os arquivos fornecidos por Edward Snowden, demonstram que apenas os usuários – mas não as companhias – podem acessar os conteúdos que estão compartilhando. A fixação pós-Snowden das companhias para demonstrar um legítimo comprometimento com a proteção da privacidade de seus usuários (motivado pelo próprio interesse nos negócios) gerou uma cisão entre o Silicon Valley e o governo dos EUA, parceiros outrora totalmente colaborativos em relação à vigilância, criando uma guerra amarga e prolongada de relações públicas que culminou, no mês passado, com a batalha Apple/FBI sobre o acesso a iPhones.
Como resultado das proteções de criptografia, a posição do WhatsApp em resposta às intimações diz que eles são incapazes de fornecer as comunicações dos usuários porque a criptografia não mantém apenas governos e atores não governamentais longe dos dados, mas também a própria companhia. Ao longo dos últimos anos, muitos países começaram a criar leis para evitar que as empresas usem qualquer criptografia que não possa ser contornada, e a administração Obama tem debatido se apóia uma legislação que permitiria apenas o uso de criptografia para a qual as agências governamentais tenham acesso “backdoor” (nos anos 90, o governo Clinton usou o caso do atentando em Oklahoma City para promover uma lei similar, mas ela foi bloqueada por uma coalizão de defensores da privacidade de ambos os partidos no congresso).
ESTA NÃO É a primeira vez que o serviço do WhatsApp foi interrompido no Brasil. Em dezembro, em um caso separado, um juiz de primeira instância de São Paulo determinou que as operadoras bloqueassem o aplicativo por 48 horas em represália a sua indisposição em cooperar com uma investigação criminal. Um tribunal de segunda instância anulou a decisão horas depois da suspensão do serviço, invocando “princípios constitucionais” para dizer que “não se mostra razoável que milhões de usuários sejam afetados em decorrência da inércia da empresa”.
De muitas maneiras, o Brasil – com um enorme número de usuários de internet e uma crescente população online de pessoas jovens – é um campo de batalha chave na luta global pela liberdade na internet. O Wall Street Journal chamou o Brasil de “a capital universal das mídias sociais”. Em janeiro, depois da última suspensão do WhatsApp, dois analistas do Instituto Igarapé radicado no Brasil, Robert Muggah e Nathan Thompson, escreveram no The New York Times que “o país tem uma das populações de usuários de internet que mais crescem no mundo. Ferramentas online como o Facebook, Twitter e WhatsApp não são usadas apenas para expressão opiniões; são uma alternativa acessível aos serviços de telecomunicação extremamente caros”.
Em um país com sérios conflitos políticos e uma população online engajada, o debate sobre a liberdade de internet se tornou muito proeminente no Brasil. Junto com a Alemanha, o governo brasileiro, depois das revelações de Snowden, foi o mais eloqüente em denunciar os EUA por sua excessiva vigilância com a NSA (o Brasil era um alvo chave na espionagem). Em 2014, o governo criou o que chamou de uma lei para proteger a liberdade da internet, o “Marco Civil da Internet”, que forneceu alguma proteção à privacidade mas também cedeu novos poderes de vigilância ao governo. No mês passado, o governo exigiu, e recebeu, uma nova e draconiana lei anti-terrorismo que concede a ele novos poderes legais extremos (fazendo com que o ex-presidente Lula da Silva discordasse de seu partido, que controla o governo, dizendo ao The Intercept, em entrevista, que era contra a lei).
Agora, como reportou o The Intercept na semana passada, novas propostas prestes a serem aprovadas (a CPI de crimes cibernéticos) poderão codificar poderes de desligamento da internet do tipo que o juiz estadual impôs hoje. Em uma postagem no Facebook, Ronaldo Lemos, fundador-diretor do Instituto de Tecnologia e Sociedade do Rio de Janeiro e um doso arquitetos da legislação do Marco Civil da Internet, de 2014, disse: “Amanhã a CPI dos Cibercrimes vota proposta para tornar esse tipo de bloqueio amparado por lei. Se a proposta da CPI for em frente, esse será o novo normal do país. Todas as semanas teremos notícias de sites e serviços bloqueados. Tal como na Arábia Saudita ou na Coreia do Norte”.
É impressionante assistir a um único juiz instantaneamente desligar um meio de comunicação online essencial para o quinto maior país do mundo. Os dois especialistas em segurança escreveram no NYT sobre a primeira suspensão do WhatsAPP: “a ação do juiz foi imprudente e representa uma ameaça potencial e de longo prazo a liberdade dos brasileiros”. Mas não há dúvidas de que é só um sinal do que está por vir para outros países que não o Brasil: haverá, sem dúvida, batalhas similares em inúmeros países ao redor do mundo sobre os direitos que as empresas têm de oferecer proteção à privacidade de seus usuários.
Traduzido por: Erick Dau
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A BRAZILIAN STATE JUDGE ordered mobile phone operators to block nationwide the extremely popular WhatsApp chat service for 72 hours, a move that will have widespread international reverberations for the increasingly contentious debate over encryption and online privacy. The ruling, issued on April 26, became public today when it was served on mobile service providers. It took effect at 2 P.M. local time (1 pm ET); as of that time, people in Brazil who tried to use the service could not connect, nor could they send or receive any messages. Failure to comply will subject the service providers to a fine of R$ 500,000/day (US$ 142,000/day).
WhatsApp is the most-used app in Brazil, a country of 200 million people (it is now owned by Facebook, the country’s second-most used app). An estimated 91 percent of Brazilian mobile users nationwide — more than 100 million individuals — use WhatsApp to communicate with one another for free (it has 900 million active daily users around the world). Brazilians spent this morning, in the hours before the block took effect, frantically sending each other messages on WhatsApp warning that the service was going down for three days.
This ruling comes from the same judge, Marcel Maia Montalvão, of a small town in Sergipé state, who two months ago ordered Facebook’s Vice President for Latin America, Diego Dzodan, to be detained over WhatsApp’s failure to cooperate with a subpoena issued as part of a criminal investigation. The judge said the arrest was justified by Facebook’s “repeatedly failing to comply with judicial orders” in a drug trafficking case. Pursuant to that order, Dzodan was arrested by federal police and held in custody for a full day, until an appellate court overturned the order.
Afterward, the Facebook executive insisted that “the way that information is encrypted from one cell phone to another, there is no information stored that could be handed over to authorities.” WhatsApp similarly said: “WhatsApp cannot provide information we do not have.” According to Folha de São Paulo, Brazil’s largest newspaper, today’s ruling ordering the shutdown of WhatsApp stems from the same case.
The extraordinary orders reflects what is becoming a global controversy over the fight of technology companies to offer their users “end-to-end” encryption. That service, which has become quite in demand in the wake of reporting from the archive provided by Edward Snowden, ensures that only the users – but not the company itself – can access the content they are sharing. The post-Snowden fixation of tech companies to demonstrate a genuine commitment to protect the privacy of their users(motivated by business self-interest) has driven a wedge between the once-fully-collaborative Silicon Valley and U.S. government surveillance state partners, creating a protracted and bitter public P.R. war that culminated last month in the Apple/FBI fight over access to iPhones.
As a result of their encryption protections, the position of WhatsApp in response to subpoenas has been that they are incapable of turning over users’ communications because the encryption not only keeps governments and non-state actors out but also the company itself. Over the past several years, numerous countries have begun enacting laws to bar companies from using any encryption which they cannot circumvent, and the Obama administration has been debating whether to support legislation that would allow only the use encryption to which government agencies have backdoor access (in the 1990s, the Clinton administration used the Oklahoma City bombing to argue for a similar law, but it was blocked by a coalition of privacy advocates from both parties in Congress).
This is not the first time WhatsApp service has been interrupted in Brazil. Last December, in a separate case, a lower court judge in São Paulo state ordered service providers to block the app for 48 hours as retribution for its failure to cooperate in a criminal investigation. An appeals court overturned the ruling but only after hours of service outrage, invoking “constitutional principles” to say that “it does not seem reasonable that millions of users are affected because of the inertia of a company.”
In many ways, Brazil – with huge numbers of internet users and a growing online population of young people – is a key battleground for for the global struggle for internet freedom. The Wall Street Journal called Brazil “the social media capital of the universe.” In January, after the last WhatsApp shutdown, two Brazilian think tank fellows, Robert Muggah and Nathan Thompson from the Igarapé Institute, wrote in The New York Times that “the country has one of the fastest growing populations of Internet users in the world. Online tools like Facebook, Twitter and WhatsApp are used not only to express opinions; they are an affordable alternative to exorbitantly priced Brazilian telecom providers.”
In a country with turbulent political conflicts and a highly engaged online population, the debate over internet freedom has become very prominent in Brazil. Along with Germany, the Brazilian government, in the wake of Snowden revelations, was the most vocal in denouncing the U.S. for excessive NSA surveillance (Brazil was a key target for such spying). In 2014, the government enacted what it claimed was a law to protect internet freedom, “Marco Civil da Internet,” that did provide some privacy protections but also granted new surveillance powers to the government. Just last month, the government demanded, and received, a new draconian anti-terrorism law that provided it with extreme new law enforcement powers (causing ex-President Lula da Silva to break with his party, which controls the government, by telling The Intercept in an interview that he opposes the new law).
And now, as The Intercept reported last week, a new cyber-crime bill on the verge of being enacted could codify internet-shutdown powers of the type the state judge today imposed. In a Facebook post, Ronaldo Lemos, founding-director of the Institute of Technology and Society of Rio de Janeiro and an architect of Brazil’s landmark 2014 Marco Civil internet legislation, wrote: “Tomorrow, the Cybercrime CPI will vote on a proposal to make this type of block lawful. If the CPI proposal goes forward, this will be the new normal in the country. Every week we would have news of sites and services that are blocked, as it is in Saudi Arabia and North Korea.”
It is stunning to watch a single judge instantly shut down a primary means of online communication for the world’s fifth-largest country. The two Brazilian communication experts in the NYT wrote of the first WhatsApp shutdown: “the judge’s action was reckless and represents a potentially longer-term threat to the freedoms of Brazilians.” But there is no question that is just a sign of what is to come for countries far from Brazil: there will undoubtedly be similar battles in numerous countries around the world over what rights companies have to offer privacy protections to their users.
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