SIKO Gegenaktionen München

Meldungen (Feeds)

Deutsche-Bank-Manager in München vor Gericht - 53 min 46 sec ago


Auftakt in einem der spektakulärsten Wirtschaftsprozesse seit Jahren: Gleich fünf amtierenden und ehemaligen Top-Managern der Deutschen Bank, darunter Co-Chef Jürgen Fitschen, wird seit Dienstag der Prozess gemacht. Der Vorwurf: Versuchter Prozessbetrug.

Die Staatsanwaltschaft wirft Fitschen und vier Ex-Managern des größten deutschen Geldhauses versuchte Täuschung der Justiz im Kirch-Verfahren vor. Unter großem Medienandrang erschienen Fitschen, seine beiden Vorgänger Josef Ackermann und Rolf Breuer sowie der ehemalige Aufsichtsratschef Clemens Börsig und Ex-Personalvorstand Tessen von Heydebreck zu dem mit Spannung erwarteten Prozess. Die Staatsanwaltschaft wirft ihnen versuchten Prozessbetrug im Verfahren um Schadenersatz für die Erben des verstorbenen Medienunternehmers Leo Kirch vor. Die Manager sollen


USA: Erneut Proteste nach Polizeigewalt - 53 min 46 sec ago


Die zunächst friedlichen Proteste wegen des Todes eines jungen Schwarzen in Polizeigewahrsam sind in der US-Metropole Baltimore in offene Gewalt umgeschlagen. Gebäude gingen in der Nacht zum Dienstag in Flammen auf, Geschäfte wurden geplündert, Polizisten mit Steinen angegriffen. Als Reaktion verhängte über die Stadt an der US-Ostküste eine nächtliche Ausgangssperre, der zuständige Gouverneur rief die Nationalgarde zu Hilfe.

Die Polizei sprach von den schwersten Unruhen in der Metropole seit Jahrzehnten. Nur Stunden zuvor war der 25-jährige Afroamerikaner Freddie Grays (25) zu Grabe getragen worden. Gray war am 12. April festgenommen worden, wenig später erlitt er in Polizeigewahrsam eine Rückenmarkverletzung. Schon ein


Tsarnaev Defense Cites Brother as Extremist Influence, Calls for “Unrelenting Punishment” of Life Sentence

The Intercept - Engl. - 10 hours 56 min ago

On April 15th, 2013, hours after detonating a pair of deadly explosives at the Boston Marathon, Tamerlan Tsarnaev walked into the Al-Burra Grocery store in the Roxbury section of Boston to buy a pack of cookies. As he arrived at the store, he found Laith Al-Behacy, a 46-year old Egyptian immigrant who had been working there since 2008, sitting behind the cash register, watching television footage of the aftermath of the attacks.

Seeing Tamerlan walk in, Al-Behacy asked him in jest whether he had had anything to do with the bombings. Tsarnaev smiled, said no, and calmly walked out with his purchase.

Monday, Al-Behacy testified about this encounter on the opening day of the sentencing phase of the trial of Tamerlan’s younger brother Dzhokhar. While describing Tamerlan as generally polite in his interactions at the store, Al-Behacy also said that he had become the bête noire of Boston’s Muslim community Boston due to his rude and abrasive outbursts at mosque services, as well as his increasing extremism. During one service, which Al-Behacy witnessed, Tamerlan was ejected from the mosque by other congregants after denouncing the imam as a munafiq (hypocrite) for encouraging voting in a forthcoming election.

Such behavior by Tamerlan is likely to be a focus of the coming weeks of testimony, as defense lawyers seek to establish the malign influence he had upon his impressionable younger sibling in the run up to the 2013 bombing.

Somewhat incongruously, the defense has also stated that Tamerlan’s influence should not be held as a straightforward mitigating factor when deciding whether to impose a sentence of life imprisonment or death upon Dzhokhar. Rather, they have argued that death would in fact be a more lenient, and thus less appropriate sentence for their client.

In his opening statements defense lawyer David Bruck argued that Dzhokhar would be subject to “unrelenting punishment” if sentenced to life in prison. He also displayed pictures of the stark conditions at the notorious ADX Supermax facility where Dzhokhar would be held, a prison once famously described as “a clean version of hell.” Bruck also argued that a sentence of life without parole would deny Tsarnaev the possibility of becoming a “martyr,” as well as any type of notoriety or fame which could stem from being executed by the state.

Nonetheless the defense maintains that had it not been for the actions of Tamerlan, characterized as an unhinged, violent and overbearing older brother, Dzhokhar would not have ultimately progressed down a path towards violent extremism and would have remained a “good kid.” While the defense was forbidden from explicitly discussing Tamerlan’s behavior and character during the first phase of Dzhokhar’s trial, such discussions are expected to dominate the sentencing portion.

The defense discussed Tamerlan’s ideological grooming of his brother through a series of extremist lectures and articles emailed to Dzhokhar, which the older Tsarnaev had email during a 2012 visit to Dagestan. One of these was an article discussing the one year anniversary of the “martyrdom” of Osama bin Laden, while another was a videotaped lecture containing religious exhortations by an Australian Salafi preacher, Omar al-Banna. 

In his responses to Tamerlan’s increasingly insistent email proselytizing, Dzhokhar appears to be receptive, but unenthusiastic. In one reply he does not even acknowledge the content, saying simply “I miss you, I hope everything is alright…”

During the first phase of the trial, in which Dzhokhar was found guilty, it was revealed that he had copies of Al Qaeda’s Inspire magazine on his laptop, as well as a handful of other videos by clerics such as Anwar al-Awlaki. Contextualizing his possession of this ideological material, defense lawyers described it as a “faint echo” of the obsessive interest Tamerlan evinced in online jihadist material, which he had increasingly attempted to push on his younger sibling. In addition to his emails, Tamerlan was also revealed to have been running a YouTube channel dedicated to propagating extremist propaganda, portions of which he shares with Dzhokhar. One of the sections of his channel was entitled simply, “Terrorists.”

Judith Russell, the mother of Tamerlan’s wife Katherine Russell, also testified to Tamerlan’s increasingly controlling, abusive and unhinged behavior towards her and her daughter. Describing him as obsessively haranguing her and others with his extremist religious ideas and grievances about American foreign policy — regardless of social setting — she also said that Tamerlan had controlled her daughters life to the point that Katherine was effectively cut off from many of her friends and family. The domineering and oppressive effect Tamerlan had upon Katherine was suggested by Dzhokhar’s lawyers as being analogous to the influence he would later come to have in steering Dzhokhar towards extremist ideology.

In the months leading up to the bombing, Tamerlan, who had once been known as a notorious womanizer and drinker, had increasingly taken to ostentatious public displays of religiosity. He discarded his once flashy dress, and began wearing a flowing white dishdasha in public, a garment common to Gulf Arab countries but alien to the Caucasus region of Russia where he and his family originated. He also grew a beard, and became increasingly vituperative and confrontational in his personal interactions with friends, acquaintances and random passersby.

In November 2012, just months before the attacks, Tamerlan walked into a local halal meat shop where he began yelling and gesticulating angrily towards the store clerk for selling halal turkeys in celebration of Thanksgiving. Louay Assaf, the imam whom Tamerlan had publicly denounced as a “hypocrite,” also testified that he had tried to talk down Tamerlan from his extremist views after he had gotten up and began yelling at him during a February 2013 sermon. “There were a large group of people there, and they separated us and removed him from the mosque,” Assaf said.

“The next time I saw him, he was on television”.

AP/Jane Flavell

The post Tsarnaev Defense Cites Brother as Extremist Influence, Calls for “Unrelenting Punishment” of Life Sentence appeared first on The Intercept.

The Schenker Papers

German Foreign Policy - 12 hours 43 min ago
(Eigener Bericht) - Der größte deutsche Staatskonzern (Deutsche Bahn) beschweigt das Erbe seines Logistikunternehmens DB Schenker und lässt die internationalen Geschäftspartner über Milliardenschulden aus Plünderungen von "Schenker" in der NS-Zeit im Unklaren. Dies geht aus einer Expertise hervor, die der Deutschen Bahn eine systematische Verschleierung ihrer von "Schenker" hinterlassenen finanziellen Verpflichtungen vorwirft. Demnach hat "Schenker" europaweit an "Entjudungen", Raub-, Mord- und Deportationsmaßnahmen teilgenommen, unter anderem in Griechenland und in Frankreich. Die daraus erzielten Einnahmen wanderten in die Kassen des deutschen Staates und wurden nie zurückgezahlt. Heute zählt DB Schenker zu den weltweit führenden Logistikern mit bedeutenden Niederlassungen in den USA oder in Israel. Zu den Einnahmen des DB Konzerns trägt DB Schenker mit rund 20 Milliarden Euro jährlich zu 50 Prozent bei. veröffentlicht eine ausführliche Expertise über die nie entgoltenen und bis heute beschwiegenen "Schenker"-Verbrechen in einer vom "Zug der Erinnerung" erstellten deutschen Fassung ("The Schenker Papers"). Der "Zug der Erinnerung" fordert von der DB AG, die Einnahmen aus den Massendeportationen der Jüdischen Gemeinde von Thessaloniki nach Auschwitz unverzüglich zurückzuerstatten. An den Mordunternehmen der Shoa war die Führungsebene von "Schenker" maßgeblich beteilgt. Tätererben sind der DB-Konzern und der deutsche Staat.

Media Sues to Get Letters from Top Officials in Support of Petraeus

The Intercept - Engl. - Mon, 27/04/2015 - 22:07

(This post is from our new blog: Unofficial Sources.)

A coalition of news organizations that includes The Intercept filed a suit today demanding the release of information about the sentencing of former CIA director and retired general David Petraeus, who last week pleaded guilty to mishandling classified materials.

Petraeus, who admitted to giving secret information to his former mistress and biographer, Paula Broadwell, was sentenced on a misdemeanor charge to two years probation and was fined $100,000.

More than 30 people, including high-level government and military officials, reportedly filed letters of support for Petraeus ahead of his sentencing. “The letters paint a portrait of a man considered among the finest military leaders of his generation who also has committed a grave but very uncharacteristic error in judgment,” U.S. Magistrate Judge David Keesler said at the sentencing.

But those letters, and the sentencing memorandum filed by Petraeus’ lawyers, remain under seal in a federal court in the Western District of North Carolina. The Intercept’s parent company, First Look Media, is joining the New York Times, Bloombergthe Associated Press, the Washington Post and other media in suing to have them released. (Here’s the motion and a memo laying out the news organization’s arguments.)

“Given the attention the case has received, we think it’s important for the public to see the arguments that Petraeus made for leniency, and the people who wrote letters in support of him,” said Hannah Bloch-Wehba, a fellow with the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, which is coordinating the lawsuit. Bloch-Wehba said that in other leak cases, sentencing memoranda have been public, but that thanks to a rule particular to the North Carolina court, Petraeus’ escaped scrutiny.

Petraeus’ monetary punishment — which was more than double what his lawyers and prosecutors had agreed on but still amounts to less than he reportedly charges for speaking engagements — stands in contrast to the stiff penalties sought for other recent leakers. The Intercept has noted that the Justice Department appears to have a “two-tier justice system” for punishing leakers, wherein senior officials accused of mishandling classified information have tended to get off with far lighter consequences than lower-level leakers.

Indeed, last week the government asked for 19 to 24 years for former CIA agent Jeffrey Sterling, who was convicted in January of giving classified information about the CIA’s efforts against Iran’s nuclear program to New York Times reporter James Risen. Sterling’s lawyers have pointed to the Petraeus deal in asking for leniency, saying the court “cannot turn a blind eye to the positions the government has taken in similar cases.”

Photo: Bob Leverone/AP


The post Media Sues to Get Letters from Top Officials in Support of Petraeus appeared first on The Intercept.

Whistleblowers Back “Surveillance State Repeal Act”

The Intercept - Engl. - Mon, 27/04/2015 - 21:39

(This post is from our new blog: Unofficial Sources.)

There is no sign of an end to the erosion of Constitutional liberties that began under George W. Bush after the 9/11 attacks and continues under Barack Obama, a group of seven national security whistleblowers said Monday.

“The government chose in great secrecy to unchain itself,” said Thomas Drake, who was working at the National Security Agency in 2001 and said he saw lawlessness spread under the name of “exigent conditions” during the Bush presidency.

Then, as part of Obama’s war on whistleblowers, prosecutors charged Drake under the Espionage Act – a law intended to brutally punish spies – for talking to a reporter. After a four-year long ordeal that the federal judge in his case called “unconscionable,” all 10 felony charges against Drake were dropped in return for his guilty plea to a single misdemeanor.

Now, Drake said, he is throwing his weight behind H.R. 1466, the Surveillance State Repeal Act.

The bill would completely repeal the 2001 PATRIOT Act (which the NSA cites as the legal basis for its bulk phone metadata collection), repeal the FISA Amendments Act (which ostensibly legitimizes Internet spying) and otherwise protect people’s privacy.

It’s a bipartisan but dark-horse legislative gambit that Reps. Mark Pocan, D-Wisc., and Thomas Massie, R-Ky., have thrown into the mix as Congress debates over the next few weeks what to do before three key provisions of the PATRIOT Act expire — including the one used for bulk metadata.

All seven whistleblowers on the panel sponsored by the pro-accountability group – including Pentagon Papers leaker Daniel Ellsberg, NSA whistleblowers William Binney and J. Kirk Wiebe, and former FBI agent Coleen Rowley – said they backed the bill.

Other legislative proposals, coming nearly two years after former NSA contractor Edward Snowden informed the world about the extent of NSA surveillance, call for considerably more minor reforms – if any at all.

Wiebe said he is increasingly frightened that the country is not “going to be able to get out of this mess.”

“We’ve become a society wiling to look the other way in the face of wrongdoing,” he said.

Ellsberg called Edward Snowden and Chelsea Manning “heroes.” “We need more Snowdens, we need more Chelsea Mannings,” he said. Had there been some earlier, he said, “there would not have been an Iraq war. That would have been a very great service to the United States and the world.”

Ellsberg contrasted his two heroes with former vice president Dick Cheney.

“I’m not saying he’s a traitor,” Ellsberg said. Cheney truly wanted the best for his country, it’s just that “he believed that the best for his country was not the Constitution as written,” Ellsberg said.

Rowley said she was taken aback when she heard Obama, in remarks last week about the drone strike that killed two Western hostages in Pakistan, say that “one of the things that sets America apart from many other nations, one of the things that makes us exceptional is our willingness to confront squarely our imperfections and to learn from our mistakes.”

Said Rowley: “I wish that were true.”

Photo of (left to right) Kirk Wiebe, Coleen Rowley, Raymond McGovern, Daniel Ellsberg, William Binney, Jesselyn Radack, and Thomas Drake by Kathleen McClellan (@McClellanKM) via Twitter

The post Whistleblowers Back “Surveillance State Repeal Act” appeared first on The Intercept.

Anti-Brutality Protesters Battle Police and News Media in Baltimore

The Intercept - Engl. - Mon, 27/04/2015 - 20:21

For the second time in five months, an American city erupted in protests and unrest following a police killing of an unarmed black person. On Saturday evening, scores of people took to the streets of Baltimore to protest the death of 25-year old Freddie Gray in police custody a fortnight ago.

City officials reported that 31 people were arrested, and a half dozen police officers hurt, after demonstrators clashed with police, destroyed a few cruisers, smashed several storefront windows, and ransacked several convenience stores.

Christie Lleto, a reporter with CBS Baltimore, reported breathlessly that, “This seems to be the work of a few outside agitators.” Another anchor on Baltimore’s Fox affiliate actually remarked, “The police have said that outside agitators are responsible for this, so it must be true.”

In fact, according to the Mayor, only one of those arrested hailed from outside Baltimore. But “outside agitator” is an old slur. As Richard Seymour, writing in Jacobin at the height of the Ferguson protests last August, put it, the term “reeks of good old boy vigilantism, the co-mingling of race-baiting and red-baiting that was typical of Southern counter-revolution in the dying days of Jim Crow.”

The biases and allegiances of these journalists affected their coverage. Lleto’s voice was tinged with sadness as she and the in-studio anchor, Denise Koch, applauded the protesters who invoked the “Hands Up, Don’t Shoot” gesture.

“Those are the good protesters,” the anchor said.

Earlier in the evening, an anchor at NBC Baltimore applauded the cops for showing restraint, after letting the viewers know that one of his friends was a cop. Another anchor on Fox Baltimore attacked the protesters for attempting to bait the police — calling to mind a notorious episode from last December, when the same TV station selectively edited a video to make it appear as if demonstrators, protesting the deaths of Eric Garner and Michael Brown, were chanting “kill a cop.”

Anchor after anchor, reporter after reporter, complained about how the protests disrupted the traffic and prevented Baltimore Orioles fans from heading home after the game concluded.

The protesters, strategic in their choices of targets, converged on Camden Yards — home to the Orioles. They destroyed some commercial property and got into skirmishes with onlookers who were there to enjoy the baseball game, as news helicopters hovered above. The police argued that because of the unrest, they were forced to lock down the stadium and force fans to stay put until the disturbances died down. Baltimore’s press dutifully blamed the protesters for this abuse of state power.

The media’s obsession with middle-class fans getting home from a ballgame and traffic problems in the restaurant quarter speaks volumes about how the news establishment acts as a mouthpiece for law enforcement and the government.

In February, the Guardian reported on a site in Chicago used by police there to illegally detain suspects. I asked Tracy Siska, executive director of the Chicago Justice Project, why local press hadn’t covered the issue, and he responded, “That’s the million dollar question. The problem is a lot of reporters agree with the police perspective.” 

Naturally, the media doesn’t portray all rioting mobs in the same fashion.

In 2013, the Baltimore Ravens won the Super Bowl. Mostly white fans then flooded the streets in what NBC Baltimore labeled a “celebration.” It was not entirely peaceful, however. The same station described Saturday’s demonstrations as “tense and violent.” The double standard is familiar. When white people spread chaos in the streets, they are drunks who’ve made drunken mistakes; when black people erupt in justifiable rage after decades of oppression, they are depicted as violent and intimidating agitators.

It’s little wonder then that black protesters over the last eight months have lashed out at members of the media. After Michael Brown’s killer Darren Wilson was not indicted last November, a protester shouted “Fuck CNN” at Don Lemon, who had earlier that night found a marijuana joint that perplexed him. In August, after Fox News reporter Steve Harrigan called Ferguson protesters children, one of the demonstrators confronted him on air. Once more, viewers were treated to a satisfying “Fuck Fox.”

As Baltimore protesters vented their rage, a mere 40 miles away in Washington D.C. elite journalists rubbed elbows with other insiders at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner. That night, cable news networks provided scant coverage of the clashes in Baltimore; CNN opted to cover the narcissistic red carpet of Washington’s Nerd Prom, while Fox News and MSNBC showed documentaries.

Ultimately, there’s no such thing as objective journalists, particularly as it pertains to police killing unarmed black people. We all have our perspectives, biases, and experiences.  Univision’s Jorge Ramos had it right when he said:

The best of journalism happens when we take a stand—when we question those who are in power, when we confront the politicians who abuse their authority, when we denounce an injustice. The best of journalism happens when we side with the victims, with the most vulnerable, with those who have no rights. The best of journalism happens when we, purposely, stop pretending that we are neutral and recognize that we have a moral obligation to tell truth to power. . .We must take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim.

It appears, however, that much of the media has taken the side of the oppressor.

Despite it all, Freddie Gray’s broken spine will always be more important than the broken window of some store in downtown Baltimore.

Photo: Patrick Semansky/AP

The post Anti-Brutality Protesters Battle Police and News Media in Baltimore appeared first on The Intercept.

Senior Congressional Democrat to D.C.’s Lobbying Community: “I’m Thankful to All of You”

The Intercept - Engl. - Mon, 27/04/2015 - 19:52

(This post is from our new blog: Unofficial Sources.)

Fondness for lobbyists is one of the many things in Washington that transcend partisanship.

The Bryce Harlow Foundation awards dinner, a party thrown by lobbyists as a “celebration within the lobbying community in Washington, D.C.” brings together senior lawmakers and lobbyists for a night of self-congratulation.

At last week’s gala, when Minority Whip Rep. Steny Hoyer, D-Md., the second ranking Democrat in the House, introduced Steve Elmendorf, a lobbyist for Goldman Sachs, Verizon, and other corporate interests, Hoyer was effusive in thanking his hosts. The Politico Influence newsletter quoted Hoyer as saying:

“I’m thankful to all of you for what you do because I think what you do is critically important to what I do and to what our people expect us to do, and that is to understand the issues that confront us and them and make the decisions that help them.”

The event serves as annual opportunity for lawmaker to single out a lobbyist for an award, and vice versa. Elmendorf was the lawmakers’ pick. Lobbyists gave their award to Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton, R-Mich.

Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty

The post Senior Congressional Democrat to D.C.’s Lobbying Community: “I’m Thankful to All of You” appeared first on The Intercept.

Encrypting Your Laptop Like You Mean It

The Intercept - Engl. - Mon, 27/04/2015 - 16:36

Time and again, people are told there is one obvious way to mitigate privacy threats of all sorts, from mass government surveillance to pervasive online tracking to cybercriminals: Encryption. As President Obama put it earlier this year, speaking in between his administration’s attacks on encryption, “There’s no scenario in which we don’t want really strong encryption.” Even after helping expose all the ways the government can get its hands on your data, NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden still maintained, “Encryption works. Properly implemented strong crypto systems are one of the few things that you can rely on.”

But how can ordinary people get started using encryption? Encryption comes in many forms and is used at many different stages in the handling of digital information (you’re using it right now, perhaps without even realizing it, because your connection to this website is encrypted). When you’re trying to protect your privacy, it’s totally unclear how, exactly, to start using encryption. One obvious place to start, where the privacy benefits are high and the technical learning curve is low, is something called full disk encryption. Full disk encryption not only provides the type of strong encryption Snowden and Obama reference, but it’s built-in to all major operating systems, it’s the only way to protect your data in case your laptop gets lost or stolen, and it takes minimal effort to get started and use.

If you want to encrypt your hard disk and have it truly help protect your data, you shouldn’t just flip it on; you should know the basics of what disk encryption protects, what it doesn’t protect, and how to avoid common mistakes that could let an attacker easily bypass your encryption.

If you’re in a hurry, go ahead and skip to the bottom, where I explain, step-by-step, how to encrypt your disk for Windows, Mac OS X, and Linux. Then, when you have time, come back and read the important caveats preceding those instructions.

What disk encryption guards against

If someone gets physical access to your computer and you aren’t using disk encryption, they can very easily steal all of your files.

It doesn’t matter if you have a good password because the attacker can simply boot to a new operating system off of a USB stick, bypassing your password, to look at your files. Or they can remove your hard disk and put it in a different computer to gain access. All they need is a screwdriver, a second computer, and a $10 USB enclosure.

Computers have become an extension of our lives and private information continually piles up on our hard disks. Your computer probably contains work documents, photos and videos, password databases, web browser histories, and other scattered bits of information that doesn’t belong to anyone but you. Everyone should be running full-disk encryption on their laptops.

Encrypting your disk will protect you and your data in case your laptop falls into the wrong hands, whether because you accidentally left it somewhere, because your home or office was burglarized, or because it was seized by government agents at home or abroad.

It’s worth noting that no one has privacy rights when crossing borders. Even if you’re a U.S. citizen entering the United States, your Constitutional rights do not apply at the border, and border agents reserve the right to copy all of the files off of your computer or phone if they choose to. This is also true in Canada, and in other countries around the world. If you plan on traveling with electronic devices, disk encryption is the only way you have a chance at protecting your data if border agents insist on searching you. In some situations it might be in your best interest to cooperate and unlock your device, but in others it might not. Without disk encryption, the choice is made for you: the border agents get all your data.

What disk encryption is useless against

There’s a common misconception that encrypting your hard disk makes your computer secure, but this isn’t entirely true. In fact, disk encryption is only useful against attackers that have physical access to your computer. It doesn’t make your computer any harder to attack over a network.

All of the common ways people get hacked still apply. Attackers can still trick you into installing malware. You can still visit malicious websites that exploit bugs in Flash, or in your web browser, or in your operating system’s font or image rendering engines, or countless other ways. When you visit benevolent websites, network attackers can still secretly make them malicious by modifying them in transit. Attackers can still exploit services running on your computer, such as network file sharing, iTunes playlist sharing, or your BitTorrent client, to name a few.

And of course, disk encryption doesn’t do anything to stop internet surveillance. Spy agencies like NSA, who tap into the fiber optic cables that make up the backbone of the internet, will still be able to spy on nearly everything you do online. An entirely different category of encryption is needed to fix that systemic problem.

The different ways you can get hacked or surveilled are too numerous to list in full. In future posts I’ll explain how to reduce the size of your probably-vast attack surface. But for now it’s important to know that disk encryption only protects against a single flavor of attack: physical access.

How it works

The goal of disk encryption is to make it so that if someone who isn’t you has access to your computer they won’t be able to access any of your files, but instead will only see scrambled, useless ciphertext.

Most disk encryption works like this. When you first power your computer on, before your operating system can even boot up, you must unlock your disk by supplying the correct encryption key. The files that make up your operating system are on your encrypted disk, after all, so there’s no way for your computer to work with them until the disk is unlocked.

In most cases, typing your passphrase doesn’t unlock the whole disk, it unlocks an encryption key, which in turn unlocks everything on the disk. This indirection allows you to change your passphrase without having to re-encrypt your disk with a new key, and also makes it possible to have multiple passphrases that can unlock the disk, for example if you add another user account to your laptop.

This means that your disk encryption passphrase is potentially one of the weakest security links. If your passphrase is “letmein”, a competent attacker will get past your disk encryption immediately. But if you use a properly generated high-entropy passphrase like “runge wall brave punch tick zesty pier”, it’s likely that no attacker, not even the NSA or Chinese intelligence, will ever be able to guess it.

You have to be extremely careful with strong disk encryption that can only be unlocked with a passphrase you’ve memorized. If you forget the passphrase, you get locked out of your own computer, losing your data forever. No data recovery service can help you, and if you give your machine to the FBI they won’t be able to access your files either. Because that’s kind of the point of disk encryption.

Once your computer is on and you’ve entered your passphrase, your disk encryption is completely transparent to you and to the applications on your computer. Files open and close as they normally would, and programs work just as they would on an unencrypted machine. You won’t notice any performance impact.

This means, however, that when your computer is powered on and unlocked, whomever is sitting at it has access to all your files and data, unencumbered by encryption. So if you want your disk encryption to work to its full potential, you need to lock your screen when your computer is going to be on while you’re away, and, for those times when you forget to lock it, to set it to lock automatically after, say, 10 minutes of idling.

It’s also important that you don’t have any other users on your system that have weak passwords or no passwords, and that you disable the guest account. If someone grabs your laptop, you don’t want them to be able to login at all.

Attacks against disk encryption

There are a few attacks against disk encryption that are tricky to defend against. Here are some precautions you can take.

Power off your computer completely (don’t just suspend it) when you think it’s at risk of falling into someone else’s hands, like right before going through customs when entering a new country. This defends against memory-based attacks.

Computers have temporary storage called RAM (otherwise known as memory) which you can think of as scratch paper for all of your software. When your computer is powered on, your software is constantly writing to and deleting from parts of your RAM. If you use disk encryption, as soon as you successfully unlock your encrypted disk the encryption key is stored in RAM until you power your computer off. It needs to be—otherwise there would be no way to encrypt and decrypt files on the fly as you use your computer.

But unfortunately, laptops have ports that have direct memory access, or DMA, including FireWire, USB, and others. If an attacker has access to your computer and your disk is unlocked (this is true even if your laptop is suspended), they can simply plug a malicious device into your computer to be able to manipulate your RAM. This could include directly reading your encryption keys or injecting commands into your operating system, such as closing the screen lock program. There is open source software called Inception that does just this using a FireWire cable and a second laptop, and there’s plenty of commercial hardware available too, like this one, or this one. It’s worth noting that new versions of Mac OS X uses a cool virtualization technology called VT-d to thwart this type of DMA attack.

Demonstration of a cold boot attack. (Photo courtesy of J. Alex Halderman et al. “Lest We Forget: Cold Boot Attacks on Encryption Keys”.)

But there are other ways for an attacker to learn what’s in your RAM. When you power your computer off, everything in RAM fades into nothingness. But this doesn’t happen immediately; it takes a few minutes, and an attacker can make it take even longer by physically freezing the RAM. An attacker with physical access to your powered-on computer can use a screwdriver to open the case of your computer and then use an upside-down can of compressed air to freeze your RAM (as in the image above). Then they can quickly cut the power to your computer, unplug your RAM, plug the RAM into a different computer, and dump all of the data from RAM to a disk. By sifting through that data, they can find a copy of your encryption key, which can then be used to decrypt all of the files on your hard disk. This is called the cold boot attack, and you can see a video of it in action here.

The key takeaway is that while your encrypted disk is unlocked, disk encryption doesn’t fully protect your data. Because of this, you may consider closing all your work and completely shutting down your computer at the end of the day rather than just suspending it.

It’s also important to make sure your laptop is always physically secure so that only people you trust ever have access to it. You should consider carrying your laptop with you wherever you go, as inconvenient as that may be, if your data is extremely important to you. When traveling, bring it with you in a carry-on bag instead of checking it in your luggage, and carry it with you rather than leaving it in a hotel room. Keep it with a trusted friend or locked in a safe when you can’t babysit it yourself.

This is all to defend against a different type of disk encryption attack known, in somewhat archaic language, as the “evil maid” attack. People often leave their laptops in their hotel room while traveling, and all it takes is one hotel housekeeper/elite hacker to foil your disk encryption.

Even when you use full disk encryption you normally don’t encrypt 100% of your disk. There’s a tiny part of it that remains in plaintext. The program that runs as soon as you power on your computer, that asks you to type in your passphrase and unlocks your encrypted disk, isn’t encrypted itself. An attacker with physical access to your computer could modify that program on the tiny part of your disk that isn’t encrypted to secretly do something malicious, like wait for you to type your passphrase and then install malware in your operating system as soon as you successfully unlock the disk.

Microsoft BitLocker does some cool tricks to make software-based evil maid attacks considerably harder by storing your encryption key in a special tamper-resistant chip in your computer called a Trusted Platform Module, or TPM. It’s designed to only release your encryption key after confirming that your bootloader hasn’t been modified to be malicious, thwarting evil maid attacks. Of course, there are other attacks against TPMs. Last month The Intercept published a document about the CIA’s research into stealing keys from TPMs, with the explicit aim of attacking BitLocker. They have successfully done it, both by monitoring electricity usage of a computer while the TPM is being used and by “measuring electromagnetic signals emanating from the TPM while it remains on the motherboard.”

You can set up your Linux laptop to always boot off of a USB stick that you carry around with you, which also mitigates against evil maid attacks (in this case, 100% of your disk actually is encrypted, and you carry the tiny unencrypted part around with you). But attackers with temporary access to your laptop can do more than modify your boot code. They could install a hardware keylogger, for example, that you would have no way of knowing is in your computer.

The important thing about evil maid attacks is that they work by tampering with a computer without the owner’s knowledge, but they still rely on the legitimate user to unlock the encrypted disk. If someone steals your laptop they can’t do an evil maid attack against you. Rather than stealing it, the attacker needs to secretly tamper with it and return it to you without raising your suspicions.

You can try using bleeding-edge tamper-evidence technology such as glitter nail polish to detect if someone has tampered with your computer. This is quite difficult to do in practice. If you have reason to believe that someone might have maliciously tampered with your computer, don’t type your passphrase into it.

Defending against these attacks might sound intimidating, but the good news is that most people don’t need to worry about it. It all depends on your threat model, which basically is an assessment of your situation to determine how paranoid you really need to be. Only the most high-risk users need to worry about memory-dumping or evil maid attacks. The rest of you can simply turn on disk encryption and forget about it.

What about TrueCrypt?

TrueCrypt is popular disk encryption software used by millions of people. In May of 2015, the security community went into shock when the software’s anonymous developers shut down the project, replacing the homepage with a warning that, “Using TrueCrypt is not secure as it may contain unfixed security issues.”

TrueCrypt recently underwent a thorough security audit showing that it doesn’t have any backdoors or major security issues. Despite this, I don’t recommend that people use TrueCrypt simply because it isn’t maintained anymore. As soon as a security bug is discovered in TrueCrypt (all software contains bugs), it will never get fixed. You’re safer using actively developed encryption software.

How to encrypt your disk in Windows

BitLocker, which is Microsoft’s disk encryption technology, is only included in the Ultimate, Enterprise, and Pro versions of Windows Vista, 7, 8, and 8.1, but not the Home version which is what often comes pre-installed on Windows laptops. To see if BitLocker is supported on your version of Windows, open up Windows Explorer, right-click on C drive, and see if you have a “Turn on BitLocker” option (if you see a “Manage BitLocker” option, then congratulations, your disk is already encrypted, though you may want to finish reading this section anyway).

If BitLocker isn’t supported in your version of Windows, you can choose to upgrade to a version of Windows that is supported by buying a license (open Control Panel, System and Security, System, and click “Get more features with a new edition of Windows”). You can also choose to use different full disk encryption software, such as the open source program DiskCryptor.

BitLocker is designed to be used with a Trusted Platform Module (TPM), a tamper-resistent chip that is built into new PCs that can store your disk encryption key. Because BitLocker keys are stored in the TPM, by default it doesn’t require users to enter a passphrase when booting up. If your computer doesn’t have a TPM (BitLocker will tell you as soon as you try enabling it), it’s possible to use BitLocker without a TPM and to use a passphrase or USB stick instead.

If you only rely on your TPM to protect your encryption key, your disk will get automatically unlocked just by powering on the computer. This means an attacker who steals your computer while it’s fully powered off can simply power it on in order to do a DMA or cold boot attack to extract the key. If you want your disk encryption to be much more secure, in addition to using your TPM you should also set a PIN to unlock your disk or require inserting a USB stick on boot. This is more complicated, but worth it for the extra security.

Whenever you’re ready, try enabling BitLocker on your hard disk by right-clicking on C drive and choosing the “Turn on BitLocker” option. First you’ll be prompted to make a backup of your recovery key, which can be used to unlock your disk in case you ever get locked out.

I recommend that you don’t save a copy of your recovery key to your Microsoft account. If you do, Microsoft—and by extension anyone Microsoft is compelled to share data with, such as law enforcement or intelligence agencies, or anyone that hacks into Microsoft’s servers and can steal their data—will have the ability to unlock your encrypted disk. Instead, you should save your recovery key to a file on another drive or print it. The recovery key can unlock your disk, so it’s important that it doesn’t fall into the wrong hands.

Follow the rest of the simple instructions and reboot your computer. When it boots up again, your disk will begin encrypting. You can continue to work on your computer while it’s encrypting in the background.

Once your disk is done encrypting, the next step is to set a PIN. This requires tweaking some internal Windows settings, but it shouldn’t be too hard if you follow the instructions to the dot.

Click Start and type “gpedit.msc” and press enter to open the Local Group Policy Editor. In the pane to the left, navigate to Local Computer Policy > Computer Configuration > Administrative Templates > Windows Components > BitLocker Drive Encryption > Operating System Drives.

In the pane to the right, double-click on “Require additional authentication at startup.” Change it from “Not Configured” to “Enabled”, and click OK. You can close the Local Group Policy Editor.

Now open Windows Explorer, right-click on drive C, and click “Manage BitLocker”.

In the BitLocker Drive Encryption page, click “Change how drive is unlocked at startup”. Now you can choose to either require a PIN while starting up, or requiring that you insert a USB flash drive. Both work well, but I suggest you use a PIN because it’s something that you memorize. So if you get detained while crossing a border, for example, you can choose not to type your PIN to unlock your drive, however you can’t help it if border agents confiscate your USB flash drive and use that to boot your computer.

If you choose to require a PIN, it must be between 4 and 20 numbers long. The longer you make it the more secure it is, but make sure you choose one that you can memorize. It’s best if you pick this PIN entirely at random rather than basing it on something in your life, so avoid easily guessable PINs like birthdates of loved ones or phone numbers. Whatever you choose make sure you don’t forget it, because otherwise you’ll be locked out of your computer. After entering your PIN twice, click Set PIN.

Now reboot your computer. Before Windows starts booting this time, you should be promped to type your PIN.

Finally, open User Accounts to see all of the users on your computer, confirm that they all have passwords set and change them to be stronger if necessary. Disable the guest account if it’s enabled.

How to encrypt your disk in Mac OS X

FileVault, Apple’s disk encryption technology for Macs, is simple to enable. Open System Preferences, click on the Security & Privacy icon, and switch to the FileVault tab. If you see a button that says “Turn Off FileVault…”, then congratulations, your disk is already encrypted. Otherwise, click the lock icon in the bottom left so you can make changes, and click “Turn On FileVault…”.

Next you will be asked if you want to store a copy of your disk encryption recovery key in your iCloud account.

I recommend that you don’t allow your iCloud account to unlock your disk. If you do, Apple — and by extension anyone Apple is compelled to share data with, such as law enforcement or intelligence agencies, or anyone that hacks into Apple’s servers and can steal their data — will have the ability to unlock your encrypted disk. If you do store your recovery key in your iCloud account, Apple encrypts it using your answers to a series of secret questions as an encryption key itself, offering little real security.

Instead, choose “Create a recovery key and do not use my iCloud account” and click Continue. The next window will show you your recovery key, which is twenty-four random letters and numbers. You can write this down if you wish. The recovery key can unlock your disk, so it’s important that it doesn’t fall into the wrong hands.

Once you click Continue you will be prompted to reboot your computer. After rebooting, FileVault will begin encrypting your hard disk. You can continue to work on your computer while it’s encrypting in the background.

With FileVault, Mac OS X user passwords double as passphrases to unlock your encrypted disk. If you want your passphrase to survive guessing attempts by even the most well-funded spy agencies in the world, you should follow the instructions here to generate a high-entropy passphrase to use to login to your Mac.

Go back to System Preferences and this time click on the Users & Groups icon. From there you should disable the guest account, remove any users that you don’t use, and update any weak passwords to be strong passphrases.

How to encrypt your disk in Linux

Unlike in Windows and Mac OS X, you can only encrypt your disk when you first install Linux. If you already have Linux installed without disk encryption, you’re going to need to backup your data and reinstall Linux. While there’s a huge variety of Linux distributions, I’m going to use Ubuntu as an example, but setting up disk encryption in all major distributions is similar.

Start by booting to your Ubuntu DVD or USB stick and follow the simple instructions to install Ubuntu. When you get to the “Installation type” page, check the box “Encrypt the new Ubuntu installation for security,” and then click Install Now.

On the next page, “Choose a security key,” you must type your encryption passphrase. You’ll have to type this each time you power on your computer to unlock your encrypted disk. If you want your passphrase to survive guessing attempts by even the most well-funded spy agencies in the world, you should follow the instructions here.

Then click Install Now, and follow the rest of the instructions until you get to the “Who are you?” page. Make sure to choose a strong password—if someone steals your laptop while it’s suspended, this password is all that comes between the attacker and your data. And make sure that “Require my password to log in” is checked, and that “Log in automatically” is not checked. There is no reason to check “Encrypt my home folder” here, because you’re already encrypting your entire disk.

And that’s it.

The post Encrypting Your Laptop Like You Mean It appeared first on The Intercept.

Der lange Atem

Amazonas-Box/Frieden-etc. - Mon, 27/04/2015 - 15:42

Diesen Dienstag um 19 Uhr - mal wieder der "Oskar-Neumann-Film".
siehe auch BIFA-Termineintrag

Jetzt offensichtlich wieder unter dem ursprünglichen Namen "Der lange Atem".

Schon 2006 hab ich den Film gewürdigt - und dass mich Oskars Erzählungen durchaus geprägt haben. (dort auch der Hinweis auf lang/länger)

Ein großer Filmtip für Friedensbewegte - soweit sie den Film nicht eh schon kennen.

Trotzdem kann ich diesmal nicht hin - Stop-G7 ist momentan mein "längerer Atem" ...


Read the Letters and Comments of PEN Writers Protesting the Charlie Hebdo Award

The Intercept - Engl. - Mon, 27/04/2015 - 15:02

Below are the key documents giving rise to the controversy that has erupted inside PEN America over the award the group is bestowing on Charlie Hebdo, which you can read about here. They include the key correspondence between the writer Deborah Eisenberg and PEN’s Executive Director Suzanne Nossel, which sparked the controversy, as well as the full comment given to the Intercept by the writer Teju Cole, who has withdrawn as a table head. The Intercept has also submitted several questions to Nossel, which are posted below; we will prominently post PEN’s responses as soon as they are received.

Eisenberg letter to Nossel, March 26, 2015

What a wonderful thing to give an award to some person or institution that courageously exemplifies freedom of expression – and how entirely in keeping with the objectives of PEN. But as a member, up until now anyhow, of PEN, I would like to express myself freely on PEN’s decision to confer the PEN/Toni and James C. Goodale Freedom of Expression Courage Award on the magazine Charlie Hebdo.

It is clear and inarguable that the January slaughter of 10 Charlie Hebdo staff members as well as 2 policemen in the Charlie Hebdo offices is sickening and tragic. What is neither clear nor inarguable is the decision to confer an award for courageous freedom of expression on Charlie Hebdo, or what criteria, exactly were used to make that decision. Indeed, the matter is fraught, complex, and very troubling.

I doubt there are many who consider the Charlie Hebdo cartoons to be models of wit, but what is at issue is obviously not the value of the cartoons. What is at issue are the various – confused, vague, and sometimes contradictory – symbolic meanings with which the magazine has been freighted in recent months, and exactly which of those symbolic meanings PEN is intending to applaud.

An award for courage is inevitably an award for the value in whose service courage has been exercised. In the case of the PEN/Toni and James C. Goodale Freedom of Expression Courage Award that value is “freedom of expression.” But freedom of expression too, is a very broad designation. Anything at all can be expressed, and just because something is expressed doesn’t ensure that it has either virtue or meaning.

I have read – and heard – that “equal opportunity offence” is the aspiration of Charlie Hebdo. But how is such an aspiration to be fulfilled unless the disparate “targets” of offence occupy an equal position and have an equivalent meaning within the dominant culture?

I don’t doubt that the Charlie Hebdo staff is, and was, entirely sincere in its anarchic expressions of principled disdain toward organized religion. But although the magazine apparently disdains all organized religion, certain expressions of anti-Semitism are illegal in France, so Judaism is out of bounds for satire. In fact, the author of a purported anti-Semitic slur in a 2008 Charlie Hebdo column was fired. Therefore, in pursuing its goal of inclusive mockery of large organized religions, at least those that have a conspicuous presence in France, Charlie Hebdo has been more or less confined to Catholicism and Islam.

But those two religions hold very different positions in France, as well as in most of the Western world. Catholicism, in its most regrettable European roles, has represented centuries of authoritarian repressiveness and the abuse of power, whereas Islam, in modern Europe, has represented a few decades of powerlessness and disenfranchisement. So in a contemporary European context, satires of Catholicism and satires of Islam do not balance out on a scale.

Additionally, an insult particular to Islam lies in a visual portrayal of the Prophet, which is in itself interdicted. Christianity, on the other hand, not only condones, but actually encourages visual portrayals of the sanctified – in fact, for hundreds of years Christian artists painted little else but Jesus and His mother.

I can hardly be alone in considering Charlie Hebdo’s cartoons that satirize Islam to be not merely tasteless and brainless but brainlessly reckless as well. To a Muslim population in France that is already embattled, marginalized, impoverished, and victimized, in large part a devout population that clings to its religion for support, Charlie Hebdo’s cartoons of the Prophet must be seen as intended to cause further humiliation and suffering.

Was it the primary purpose of the magazine to mortify and inflame a marginalized demographic? It would seem not. And yet the staff apparently considered the context of their satire and its wide-ranging potential consequences to be insignificant, or even an inducement to redouble their efforts – as if it were of paramount importance to demonstrate the right to smoke a cigarette by dropping your lit match into a dry forest.

It is difficult and painful to support the protection of offensive expression, but it is necessary; freedom of expression must be indivisible. The point of protecting all kinds of expression is that neither you nor I get to determine what attitudes are acceptable – to ensure that expression cannot be subordinated to powerful interests. But does that mean that courage in expression is to be measured by its offensiveness?

Apparently according to PEN it does. Apparently PEN has reasoned that it is the spectacularly offensive nature of Charlie Hebdo’s expression in itself that makes the magazine the ideal recipient for the PEN/Toni and James C. Goodale Freedom of Expression Courage Award – that awarding Charlie Hebdo underscores the very indivisibility of the principle of freedom of expression and the laws that protect it.

But in that case, one has to ask, is Charlie Hebdo really the most tasteless, brainless, and reckless example of free expression that can be found? Is it more deserving of the PEN/Toni and James C. Goodale Freedom of Expression Courage Award than other example of tasteless, brainless recklessness?

What about the racist chapters of SAE and other fraternities right here in our own country? I would say that they meet the criteria. We have our own reviled population, under constant threat of police brutality, prison and the like. So, are our racist fraternities not equally deserving of the Award? We are PEN America after all, not PEN France, and the fraternity brothers have expressed their views – even in humorous (to them) song – with great clarity and force.

And France itself offers compellingly meritorious alternatives to Charlie Hebdo for the PEN/Toni and James C. Goodale Freedom of Expression Courage Award. What about those recently responsible for the desecrations of a Jewish cemetery? Were there no virulently anti-Semitic graffiti to be found in that ravaged cemetery that should be considered outstanding examples of courageous free expression? Or what about giving the award retroactively to Julius Streicher’s Der St?rmer and its satirical anti-Semitic cartoons? Streicher’s actual purpose was to mobilize popular sentiment against a vilified demographic, so perhaps those cartoons could be considered even more valorous than the Charlie Hebdo cartoons, which, although they do mobilize popular sentiment against a vilified demographic, are intended merely as representative mockery of any and all religions.

In short: is there not a difference – a critical difference – between staunchly supporting expression that violates the acceptable and enthusiastically awarding such expression? Maybe not – maybe I’m confused. To me, in my confusion, the decision to confer the PEN/Toni and James C. Goodale Freedom of Expression Courage Award on Charlie Hebdo almost looks less like an endorsement of free expression than like an opportunistic exploitation of the horrible murders in Paris to justify and glorify offensive material expressing anti-Islamic and nationalistic sentiments already widely shared in the Western world.

In these times when provisions of the amorphous Patriot Act can be invoked to stifle and severely punish the dissemination of information, PEN could have chosen to confer its PEN/Toni and James C. Goodale Freedom of Expression Courage Award upon any of a number of journalists and whistleblowers who have risked, and sometimes lost, their freedom in order to bring information to the rest of us. Chelsea Manning and Edward Snowden are familiar examples, though there are many others. There are also those who have courageously served as conduits for the information such people have unearthed, such as Glenn Greenwald and Laura Poitras. And there are the many journalists who have gone to the Middle East in an attempt to clarify the tangle of horrors that has been unleashed there over the last 20 years or so, including the American, Japanese, and British journalists who have been brutishly beheaded by raging fundamentalist Islamic State terrorists.
Certainly no one could assert that the Charlie Hebdo staff are not, and were not, courageous. They had been threatened for years with violence at the hands of fundamentalist Islamic extremists, and yet they continued to pursue what they considered be their mission. Thus they expended their courage, and ten of them lost their lives, in what was essentially a parochial, irrelevant, misconceived, misdirected, relatively trivial, and more or less obsolete campaign against clericalism. It is also courageous to bait a hallucinating and armed soldier, to walk around naked in the dead of winter, to jump off a roof, to drink from a sewer, or to attempt sexual intercourse with a wild boar.

Those journalists and whistleblowers who exemplify the principles of free expression are also supremely courageous, but their courage has been fastidiously exercised for the good of humanity. Evidently, however, PEN seems to have reasoned that it would undermine the fundamental principle of free expression and cheapen the Award to give it to those whose purposes are noble, intelligent, and selfless rather than pitiful, foolish, and immensely destructive.


Deborah Eisenberg
Jew and atheist

Nossel reply to Eisneberg, March 27

Dear Deborah (if I may):

Thanks for your note and your thoughtful reflections on our decision to confer the PEN/Toni and James C. Goodale Freedom of Expression Courage Award on Charlie Hebdo. I’d be happy to talk through your concerns by phone, but I am taking the opportunity to respond in writing so that you and those on your cc list can see the points as well. I very much appreciate the thought and rigor that went into your message and want to try to give it its due. As you say, these questions are certainly complex and matters on which reasonable people disagree. At PEN we have never shied away from controversy. I am not sure I can convince you that this was the right decision, but I do want to share just some of our thinking.

We believe that honoring Charlie Hebdo affords us an opportunity to inflect global opinion on an issue of longstanding concern to PEN and to free expression advocates worldwide, including many in the Muslim world: namely, efforts to devalue, ban, or punish acts deemed to constitute the defamation of religion. Such assaults come both from governments and from vigilantes, and they are not acceptable in either context. Moreover, the actions of governments have sometimes served to enable or urge on vigilantes, and vis-versa, an interplay which is particularly concerning. I worked on this issue for more than 18 months as an official of the U.S. State Department during the Obama Administration. At the time, certain delegations, led by Pakistan, were waging a powerful global campaign to try to secure an international treaty banning the so-called defamation of religion.

Their efforts, they explained to me, were fueled by a sense of deep grievance by ordinary citizens in their countries toward the West and toward insults against their religion. This sense of frustration and anger fueled the deadly protests in Afghanistan after copies of the Koran were disposed of inappropriately at Guantanamo as well as the assassinations of several moderate figures promoting religious reconciliation in Pakistan, including the Minister of Minority Affairs, Shahbaz Bhatti. Bhatti was murdered in 2011 because he was a “blasphemer of Mohammed.” In private discussions with diplomats from multiple Islamic governments, including at the Pakistani foreign ministry in Islamabad, I heard from officials who admitted that they did not believe that international bans on blasphemy were the right answer to the problems and pressure they were facing. They shared concerns that campaigns for such bans gave a kind of license to those assailants, including rioters in Kabul and assassins in Islamabad, who treated insults to Mohammed as grounds for violent reprisals. In making an award to Charlie Hebdo, we call attention the fact that such policies are abhorrent and extremely dangerous.

There are a range of views about the prohibition on depictions of Mohammed. In a position that has emerged fairly widely in the aftermath of the Hebdo attacks, even some Muslim government officials I spoke to rejected the notion that such a prohibition is universal or enshrined in Islam. Some did say, however, that they thought that insults to the Prophet should be unlawful, and that banning them was perfectly consistent with free speech. Their understanding of the principles of free speech was different than our own. They were willing to listen, and over time we found common ground. The Organization of the Islamic Conference ultimately decided to work very closely with us in trying to steer the debate in a new direction, precisely because they thought that banning and protesting such offensive speech was contrary to free expression and was contributing to violence. Our diplomatic efforts also took me to places such as Paris, London, Geneva, Brasilia, Santiago and Buenos Aires. At the UN, changing course on a human rights issue requires very broad consensus: the Europeans had to bend on their unwillingness to recognize legitimate concerns about respect for religious differences; Islamic delegations had to back off their proposals to ban speech; and moderate Latin and African delegations were needed to provide a measure of political cover to both sides. We worked to convince delegations that the right answer to the efforts to ban defamation of religion was not to vote the Pakistani-backed resolution down and defeat it, but rather to work with all delegations on a compromise approach that would unite the international community behind practical measures – like interfaith dialogue, education, effective hate crimes (as distinct from hate speech) prosecutions, etc.—in place of the proposed bans.

This effort at compromise was successful, culminating in passage of a consensus resolution to replace the defamation of religions resolutions in 2011. This piece recounts some of what happened. Unfortunately, while the compromise has held the matter cannot be said to be resolved. Efforts to ban insults to religion have continued to rear their heads in other places:

The reaction to the Charlie Hebdo killings, which united many governments, religious leaders and civil society organizations in a joint expression of solidarity, drew global attention to the dangers of intolerance for criticism of religion. It awakened even some devout Muslim leaders with poor track records of respect for free speech to the dangers of declaring such insults out-of-bounds, or condoning open season on those who draw or publish them. The idea that no words, no matter how offensive or insulting, can ever justify violence seems basic to us here, but is honored in the breach in many parts of the world. We see honoring Charlie Hebdo as a potent way to affirm and elevate that principle at a moment when the world is paying attention. We see a chance to promote and defend a global definition of free speech that is broad enough to encompass all speech except that which falls outside the U.S.’s First Amendment, namely incitement to imminent violence; speech such as the calls to genocide over the Rwandan airwaves (the European standard is different, and there are some prohibitions on speech – such as bans on Holocaust denial and blasphemy laws still on the books in places like Ireland – that we reject). Our doing this protests the rash of attacks on others such as Kurt Wetgaard and Finn Nørgaard in Denmark and Avijit Roy in Bangladesh.

We also believe strongly in upholding and defending the role of satire in free societies. Satire is, by definition, disrespectful and often insulting. Based on Charlie Hebdo’s history, their statements and the accounts of those within PEN who have personally known and worked with the magazine, we believe that it sits firmly within the tradition of French satire (see in particular They mocked religions, but also prejudices against religion, racial prejudices, ethnocentric attitudes and a whole range of other targets: Boko Harm, Brits, Jews (while I don’t know all the facts but I think the incident you described did happen, but they also published other cartoons targeting Jews. Including quite a few by Stephane Charbonnier, the murdered Hebdo editor), gays etc. They defined their role as pushing boundaries, questioning orthodoxy, casting light on obscured motives and ensuring that nothing was above comment or debate.

We have spoken since the attacks to several American cartoonists who have said that, in contrast to Charlie Hebdo, they see their role as to “comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable,” meaning that they would not publish cartoons that could be seen as offensive to Muslims, precisely because Muslims are discriminated against, targeted and marginalized within Western societies. In my own view, it is a very good thing that many or most cartoonists and satirists feel that way in that it allows Muslims to feel a greater sense of comfort and acceptance. But a commitment to free expression must make room for those who do not accept rules of prudence or political correctness, and who define their own moral obligations differently. A rule that all satirists must only target for offense those who enjoy a concomitant or equal level of security or prestige within a society would surely take too much off limits.

The new editor of Charlie Hebdo has said that in mocking religion their aim has been not to attack religion itself, but rather the role of religion in politics and the blurring of lines in-between, which they see as promoting totalitarianism—an argument some have made about the incursion of religion into American politics. As we look through the cartoons we think most if not all can be understood in that context.

In pushing the boundaries of discourse as the best satirists do—American, European, or otherwise–Charlie Hebdo broke taboos, raised questions and sparked debates that expanded the space for expression and the exchange of ideas. They paid a heavy price for doing so, and then pressed on despite heartbreak and devastation. We think that shows a powerful commitment to free expression no matter the costs, and it is that commitment that we wish to honor. We don’t see this award as legitimizing or applauding everything Charlie Hebdo has written or depicted; the very premise of their own magazine is that nothing enjoys sanctity and everything is a fair object of critique.

We also don’t believe, on the basis of written statements from and interviews with the magazine’s surviving staff, and on the opinions of PEN members who know them, that the editors of Charlie Hebdo intended to cause humiliation or suffering by printing the cartoons. The outcry by a great many Muslim groups in the aftermath of the attacks also reflects a view that satirists should have liberty to express their views, and that these cartoonists were not motivated by cruelty. We have heard from Muslims, many of whom reject the prohibitions on the depiction of Mohammed, actually decrying the discussion about Muslim grievances in the wake of Charlie Hebdo. They believe this line of discourse legitimizes Muslim extremism, which they see as a far greater danger to Muslims than Western anti-Muslim sentiment. This segment on Chinese TV displays two diametrically opposing Muslim views on the topic. (For what it’s worth, the man rejecting the discourse on marginalization is a former officer of Canadian PEN). Personally, I do think it is important to talk about Hebdo in the context of the precarious position of Muslims in French society; I reject the idea that such points should be off-limits in an explication of Hebdo. But I am very cognizant of the diversity of Muslim views on these questions so don’t see those very real issues as grounds not to honor Hebdo. Above all and vitally, we don’t accept the characterization of Hebdo as merchants of hate in the vein of a Streicher or a cemetery vandal; you may disagree but that’s not who we believe they are.

The January attacks also made vivid the types of threats that cartoonists and writers around the world face daily; these issues suddenly became front page news of concern to a much wider constituency than tends to be the case when individual, unknown writers are jailed or killed in far off places. Part of our job here at PEN is to put free expression issues front and center in the global debate. Charlie Hebdo’s notoriety and the impassioned global response evoked by the attacks thus offers the opportunity to draw into PEN’s mission new supporters who have been moved by the attacks and their aftermath. This can be a point of entry that leads new people to explore and become involved with our other work. We saw this in our membership trends, online and social media campaigning after the attacks. For those directly involved in planning the Gala and Awards there was a feeling that including Charlie Hebdo would have a mobilizing effect on PEN’s work more broadly. I understand that it can seem self-serving for an organization like ours to build on a high-profile event to generate support for our cause. But we only do it when we judge that the events and those involved are firmly consonant with our mission.

The evidence that the Hebdo attacks have energized PEN’s core constituency of writers is tangible. Here are a few examples of what new PEN members wrote as part of the spike in membership applications that we received in the immediate aftermath of the attack:

“In the wake of the Charlie Hebdo shootings in Paris, I am reminded that freedom of expression is a vital element of our humanity.”

“I have had “join PEN” on my calendar for awhile, but the tragedy in Paris at the offices of Charlie Hebdo this past week reminded me of the importance of being part of this community.”

“After reading a Facebook post from a colleague who shared the message of PEN in the wake of the Paris terror attack, I was moved to join.”

“I have meant to join for several years but the recent tragedy in Paris was a catalyst.”

“I’ve been meaning to join PEN for some time but after the tragedy at Charlie Hebdo I believe we need to support freedom of expression more than ever.”

“While I have long written about freedom of speech issues, the recent massacre of staffers at Charlie Hebdo was a real wake-up call. I figured that purchasing an overseas subscription to the newspaper (in spite of my shaky French) and joining PEN were the least I could do.”

In sum, we are honoring Charlie Hebdo not because of the material you find offensive, but because of their fearless defense of their right to express themselves, a defense that has made our spines stiffen here at PEN and throughout the free expression community as we recognize the depth of our obligation to stand firm in the force of powerful and dangerous interests.

There are indeed a great many other great examples of courageous champions of free speech worldwide. It has not yet been announced, but this year’s PEN/Barbara Goldsmith Freedom to Write Award will go to Khadija Ismayilova, an intrepid Azerbaijani journalist now in jail. Her bravery is extraordinary and will be a focal point of the Gala and the advocacy action we all take there together. As Pussy Riot helped do for Ilham Tohti, so we hope Charlie Hebdo will help raise Khadija’s profile and make her the 36th winner (out of 40) of the Goldsmith prize to be released from prison. Last year Laura Poitras accepted our invitation to give the Annual Arthur Miller Freedom to Write Lecture (long before she won the Pulitzer or the Oscar) but then withdrew to our great disappointment because she was finishing the documentary and did not feel she could travel. We have held panels on U.S. whistleblowers and are doing a forthcoming report on the topic. Glenn Greenwald was, via Skype, the keynote speaker at a major symposium we held 18 months ago on NSA surveillance. We are inspired by them all. We have also stepped up significantly our work here at PEN spotlighting free expression challenges here in the United States, ranging from an original report on press freedom violations in Ferguson to two landmark reports on NSA surveillance to a series of events on Guantanamo to a new lawsuit filed two weeks ago challenging the U.S. intelligence agencies’ Upstream program.

Deborah, I hope this very long note helps shed light on our reasoning. I appreciate very much your taking the time to read it, and to consider our logic. We very much value you as a member of PEN, and are especially grateful for your involvement in our upcoming Guantanamo event in Montclair which will be amazing. A great friend of mine, Diane Archer, had the privilege of sitting with you at last year’s Gala and had such a wonderful time. We definitely don’t want to lose you here at PEN.

I am happy to discuss any and all of the above by phone.

All my best,


Suzanne Nossel

Executive Director, PEN American Center

Eisenberg reply to Nossel, April 10

Dear Suzanne,

I’m sorry to be so long getting back to you about your detailed response to my letter of March 26 – I’ve come back home to New York after long travels, and have been swamped by chores. In any event, thank you very much for your letter and for your generous offer to talk through my concerns by phone. Unfortunately, though, allaying my concerns would entail altering the state of the world, which I doubt you and I could manage to do on the phone.

But I do want to clarify a few things about which I evidently expressed myself confusingly and to try to disentangle various considerations that have inevitably come up in our correspondence about the PEN/Toni and James C. Goodale Freedom of Expression Courage Award.

On many or most points I’m in complete agreement with you. I agree unreservedly that an expression of views, whether satirical or not, and however disagreeable, is not to be answered by murder. I agree unreservedly that the free expression of views should not be banned. And I agree unreservedly that threats of violence let alone actual violence against people who express their views must be vigorously and vociferously opposed.

You made the very interesting point that laws against blasphemy might encourage independent vigilantes; that certainly seems plausible to me, but, as I’ve never thought there should be laws against blasphemy, I’m not sure how it applies to what I said, unless I gave you the impression that I do think there should be such laws – which I assure you is very far from the case.

But here is a point on which we differ. Or at least as I understand it, this is something that you and PEN are asserting: that people who are murdered for expressing themselves are automatically deserving of praise.

Really? Why is that? A person who is murdered (or threatened or harassed) for his or her views is by definition a victim – but not by definition a hero. He or she may be a hero or not. Let us say that a man considers his wife to be inferior to him and derides her repeatedly, and that she then murders him in his sleep. I think most of us would agree that it is wrong to murder the husband, but I hope few of us would agree that the husband deserves an award.

Your account of international negotiations regarding the differing concepts underpinning laws that regulate limits on expression is interesting and informative, but insofar is it applies to my letter to you, it seems to underscore rather than contravene my conviction that satire is largely dependent for its meaning and effect on context and cultural norms.

You say: “A rule that all satirists must only target for offense those who enjoy a concomitant or equal level of security or prestige within a society would surely take too much off limits.” I agree with that statement, too, as far as it goes. But in actual practice the matter goes very much farther than that wholesale abstract formulation, and the potential ramifications and nuances occasioned by any concrete instance of satire are likely to be ample.

Satire might be thought of as sort of a free zone, where potentially dangerous or destabilizing ideas can be safely sent out to play, or to perform for us, and social inequities are implicitly an element in most satire – though it is the parties thought to be holding disproportionate power or prestige who are the usual object of successful satire. It seems to me that power and prestige are elements that must be recognized in considering almost any form of discourse, including satire, and that to ignore very real inequities between the person holding the mighty pen and the subject fixed on paper by that pen, risks making empty and self-serving nonsense of the discussion. In any case, your apparent assumption that I fail to recognize the value of satire is puzzling, given that I made liberal use of it in my letter of March 26.

Even leaving aside the vast and murky area that concerns freedoms, satire, and norms, at the basis of our discussion, I suppose, are – also vast and murky but urgent – questions of how to confront terrorism. And there, too, you and I are bound to stand on some common ground. Terrorism seeks to inhibit and control behavior and even ideas through the simple and very effective expedient of violence, so it is critical to respond by maintaining our autonomy, both in refusing to be silenced by threats or acts and also by refusing to let fear and intimidation interfere with our ideas and responses to the world around us -which is of course a subtler, vaguer, and more easily manipulated business.

Like you, I greatly admire the courage of those who retain their autonomy and hold fast to reasoned ideals in the face of intimidation. But by the same token, I do not believe that a repudiation of terrorism obliges me to join forces with prejudices I find repugnant. If I were to follow PEN’s line of thought in this instance – the equating of free expression with offensiveness – to its logical conclusion, I would have to distort my own inclinations and convictions and devote myself to drawing incredibly offensive magazine covers. And that, in my view, would be as much a capitulation to terrorism as silence would be.

The issue of objectives you raise in the case of Charlie Hebdo seems to me be critical, and I believe that confusion about it has obfuscated the general discussion. You inform me that the “new editor of Charlie Hebdo has said that in mocking religion their aim has been not to attack religion itself, but rather the role of religion in politics and the blurring of lines in-between, which they see as promoting totalitarianism . . . “ and that the editors (I believe that’s who you’re referring to) “defined their role as pushing boundaries, questioning orthodoxy, casting light on obscured motives and ensuring that nothing was above comment or debate.”

These are truly laudable objectives. And I am quite willing to accept your characterization of the Hebdo staff. But my belief, as I’ve indicated, is that Charlie Hebdo’s objectives are entirely beside the point.

It is the work available to us, not the objectives behind it, which we experience and judge. If, for example, I read a book that strikes me as worthless, my opinion of it will not go up simply because the author tells me that she had wanted it to be better than War and Peace. And further, the subjects of a satire are bound to have a different relationship to that satire than those who are only peripherally involved or who have the same set of cultural assumptions as the satire’s author. The Muslim population of France, so much of which feels despised and out of place in their own home, is very aware that the non-Muslim population of France is reading and enjoying mockery of their religion, and they are very unlikely to care what objectives Charlie Hebdo ascribes to itself, however lofty those objectives may be. A person wounded by ridicule is unlikely to much care what the ridiculer intended – to care whether the goal of the ridicule was to stimulate insight or to inflict humiliation.

But presumably the PEN/Toni and James C. Goodale Freedom of Expression Courage Award is being awarded to Charlie Hebdo for its actual publications, not for its stated aspirations. So those aspirations are as immaterial to PEN’s choice as they are irrelevant to the Muslim population of France. What actually matters most in this instance, in my opinion, is what people believe is being awarded: What does PEN wish to convey by presenting this prestigious award to Charlie Hebdo? And that is still not one bit clear to me.

Charlie Hebdo is undeniably courageous in that it has continued irrepressibly to ridicule Islam and its adherents, who include a conspicuously and ruthlessly dangerous faction. But ridicule of Islam and Muslims cannot in itself be considered courageous at this moment, because ridicule of Islam and Muslims is now increasingly considered acceptable in the West. However its staff and friends see it, Charlie Hebdo could well be providing many, many people with an opportunity to comfortably assume a position that they were formerly ashamed to admit. This is not a voice of dissent, this is the voice of a mob.

Here I am, piping up again, and re-stating some of the things I’ve already said. And how good it would be if you and I could sort out and settle all these issues and those that are attached to them in the exchange of a few letters! But obviously these matters are not easily sorted out, let alone settled – and they are not easily discussed, either. They do, however, call for discussion – for examination, for re-examination, for endless, painstaking vigilance and continual efforts at clear thinking.

You seek to persuade me that Charlie Hebdo was a judicious choice to receive the PEN/Toni and James C. Goodale Freedom of Expression Courage Award by telling me people are flocking to join PEN because of its support for Charlie Hebdo – but that only redoubles the anxieties I described in my first letter. I can only wonder what exactly is so alluring to these new dues-payers: are they indeed demonstrating enthusiasm for PEN’s long-standing support of free and courageous expression, or are they demonstrating enthusiasm for a license that is being offered by PEN to openly rally behind a popular prejudice that has suddenly been legitimized and made palatable by the January atrocities?

In short, it is not Charlie Hebdo I’m writing to you about, it is PEN. I would be very sorry if this essential organization were to alter radically in character, from one that supports and protects endangered voices of dissent to one that encourages voices of intolerance.

All the best,

Teju Cole comment to the Intercept

I am a member of PEN, and a supporter of its work and causes. I agreed to
be a table host at this year’s PEN Literary Gala. Later on, in March, it
was announced that Charlie Hebdo would be honored with the the PEN/Toni and James C. Goodale Freedom of Expression Courage Award in response to the January 7 attacks that claimed the lives of many members of its editorial

I’m a free-speech fundamentalist, but I don’t think it’s a good use of our
headspace or moral commitments to lionize Charlie Hebdo in particular.
L’affaire Rushdie (for example) was a very different matter, as different
as blasphemy is from racism. I support Rushdie 100%, but I don’t want to
sit in a room and cheer Charlie Hebdo. This distinction seems to have been
difficult for people to understand, and any dissent from the consensus
about Charlie Hebdo is read as somehow “supporting the terrorists,” or
somehow believing that they deserved to be murdered.

I would rather honor Raif Badawi, Avijit Roy, Edward Snowden, or Chelsea
Manning, who have also paid steeply for their courage, but whose ideals are
much more progressive than Charlie’s. I would like an acknowledgement of
the Kenyan students who were murdered for no greater crime than being
college students. And, if we are talking about free speech, I would rather
PEN shed more light on the awful effects of governmental spying in the US,
and the general issue of surveillance.

I have withdrawn from my role as table host at the PEN Literary Gala this
year, as have a number of my fellow writers, including Peter Carey, Rachel
Kushner, Michael Ondaatje, Francine Prose, and Taiye Selasi. But in my
notes above, I speak for myself, not on behalf of anyone else.

Questions submitted by the Intercept to PEN America:

1) How many writers or table heads have withdrew from the PEN event in
protest of the Charlie Hebdo award? Has anything on this scale happened
before at PEN?

2) What’s your response to those who are withdrawing? Do they have any
valid grievance?

3) Given that PEN is supposed to stand for unpopular and marginalized
views that are under assault, what purpose does it serve to simply echo
the overwhelming consensus among western governments: that Charlie Hebdo
cartoonists are heroes?

4) In deciding to call them “heroes,” did PEN evaluate the content of
their cartoons? Would PEN consider anyone who is killed for their views
a “hero” without regard to the substance of those views?

5) Is there any validity to the concern about former Obama
administration officials running human rights and similar groups that
are supposed to be adversarial to the government?

The post Read the Letters and Comments of PEN Writers Protesting the Charlie Hebdo Award appeared first on The Intercept.

Writers Withdraw From PEN Gala to Protest Award to Charlie Hebdo

The Intercept - Engl. - Mon, 27/04/2015 - 14:56

As I was close to finishing my own story, The New York Times published a long article last night about the rather intense and fascinating controversy that has erupted inside PEN America, the group long devoted to defending writers’ freedom of expression from attacks by governments. In essence, numerous prominent writers who were to serve as “table heads” or who are long-time PEN members have withdrawn from the group’s annual awards gala and otherwise expressed anger over PEN’s decision to bestow its annual Freedom of Expression Courage Award to Charlie Hebdo.

The Times story does a good job laying out the events and describing the general controversy, so in lieu of repeating that, I instead want to publish the key correspondence between the writer Deborah Eisenberg and PEN’s Executive Director, former Obama State Department official and Amnesty USA Executive Director Suzanne Nossel, which sparked the controversy; post the full comment given to the Intercept by the writer Teju Cole, who has withdrawn as a table head; and make a few observations of my own. The Intercept has also submitted several questions to Nossel, which I’m also posting, and will prominently post PEN’s responses as soon as they are received. All of those documents are here.

Though the core documents are lengthy, this argument is really worth following because it highlights how ideals of free speech, and the Charlie Hebdo attack itself, were crassly exploited by governments around the world to promote all sorts of agendas having nothing to do with free expression. Indeed, some of the most repressive regimes on the planet sent officials to participate in the Paris “Free Speech” rally, and France itself began almost immediately arresting and prosecuting people for expressing unpopular, verboten political viewpoints and then undertaking a series of official censorship acts, including the blocking of websites disliked by its government. The French government perpetrated these acts of censorship, and continues to do so, with almost no objections from those who flamboyantly paraded around as free speech fanatics during Charlie Hebdo Week.

Under the guise of the “War on Terror,” there has indeed been a systematic assault on free speech: though it’s been one waged by western governments primarily against their Muslim citizens. For that reason, it has provoked almost no objections from those who dressed up as free speech crusaders that week. That’s because, as I wrote in the aftermath of that rally, the incident was used to manipulatively exploit, not celebrate and protect, free expression. Celebrating Charlie Hebdo was largely about glorifying anti-Muslim sentiment; free expression was the pretext.

This is all quite redolent of how the U.S. government and its acolytes quite adeptly exploit social issues to advance imperial aims. U.S. officials, for instance, gin up anger toward Putin or Iran by highlighting the maltreatment of those countries’ LGBT citizens – as though that’s why the U.S. Government is hostile – while at the same time showering arms and money on allied regimes in Saudi Arabia and Egypt whose treatment of gays is at least as bad (while LGBT groups in the U.S. say nothing because those are Obama’s policies). Or American and British officials will denounce free press attacks by governments they want to demonize while cozying up to regimes that allow no press freedoms at all. It’s also similar to how neocons tried to persuade feminists to support the war in Afghanistan because the Taliban is heinous to women or justified the invasions of Iraq because Saddam violated human rights – at the very same time that the regimes neocons love the most are at least as bad if not worse on those issues (to say nothing of the human rights records of neocons themselves and the U.S. Government).

This is now a common, and quite potent, tactic: inducing support for highly illiberal western government policy by dressing it up as support for liberal principles. And it highlights the fraud of pretending that celebrations of Charlie Hebdo cartoonists are independent of the fact that the particular group they most prominently mock are Muslims, a marginalized, targeted, and largely powerless group in France and the west generally.

As I wrote after the Paris rally, it is simply inconceivable that Charlie Hebdo would have been depicted as heroes had their primary targets been groups more favored and powerful in the west (indeed, a Charlie Hebdo cartoonist was fired by the magazine in 2009 for mocking Judaism: where were all the newfound free speech crusaders then?). As the objecting PEN writers note, one can regard the murders of the Charle Hebdo cartoonists as repugnant, vile and dangerous (as any decent person does) while simultaneously scorning the Muslim-bashing focus of their “satire.”

What, pray tell, is remotely admirable about sitting in the west – which has been invading, bombing, and otherwise dominating Muslim countries around the world for decades, and has spent the last decade depicting Islam as the Gravest Threat – and echoing that prevailing sentiment by bashing Muslims? Nothing is easier than mocking and maligning the group in your society most marginalized and oppressed. People in the west have their careers destroyed when they’re accused of sympathizing with Islam, not for opposing it. Bashing Muslims and Islam is orthodoxy in the west, both on the level of official policy and political culture.

The controversy provoked by the PEN writers raises an ancillary though important issue: the role played by former Obama officials in human rights and other organizations designed to function as adversaries to the government. Human Rights Watch has come under fire because key officials served in the U.S. State Department and critics claim the group thus echoes the U.S. Government line. NYU students are currently protesting the appointment to the faculty of former Yale Law School dean Harold Koh, who as a legal adviser in Obama’s State Department acted as an advocate of drone killings and Obama’s right to wage war in Libya in the face of a Congressional vote against that war. And now PEN is led by Nossel, a former Obama State Department official who faced serious criticisms after she left for using Amnesty USA’s credibility to advance Obama’s foreign policy.

Nobody suggests that working as an official of the U.S. Government should be permanently disqualifying. But there have to be groups that act as genuine adversaries to the most powerful government on the planet – especially ones claiming to be human rights organizations or those who oppose state censorship – and when those groups are led by the very people who defended and implemented the policies of that government, those groups’ credibility to act in that capacity is seriously compromised. That’s how supposedly dissident groups become co-opted and converted into the opposite of what they claim. The writer Wallace Shawn, who is a member of PEN and protests the Charlie Hebdo award, told me:

The “boards” of every non-profit organization, university, theatre, etc., no matter what the organization’s original goals were, are made up of the same tiny group of people, and they choose the organization’s leaders, presidents, artistic directors on the basis that those individuals would be good at “fund-raising,” i.e. getting money out of a few more people from that same group……Then even the once serious people in the organization begin to internalize the in-born belief of the corporate-minded board members that the most important thing for the organization is to grow, raise more money, get more members………..the trend points in the same direction for every organization…….. (ellipses in original)

Whatever else is true, PEN America has always existed to defend unorthodox and marginalized views from attack, and there is absolutely nothing unorthodox or marginalized in the west about the views expressed by Charlie Hebdo cartoonists or in showering them with courage awards. As Eisneberg put it in her original letter, the Charlie Hebdo award appears to be “an opportunistic exploitation of the horrible murders in Paris to justify and glorify
offensive material expressing anti-Islamic and nationalistic sentiments
already widely shared in the Western world.”

The letters and other documents giving rise to this controversy, which I really encourage you to read, can be found here.

Photo: Dan Kitwood/Getty Images

The post Writers Withdraw From PEN Gala to Protest Award to Charlie Hebdo appeared first on The Intercept.

Mittenwald Dokumentation

Indymedia antimil - Mon, 27/04/2015 - 13:29
von: Anonym am: 27.04.2015 - 13:29

Ruhm oder Schande?

Die umstrittene Gedenkstätte bei Mittenwald


Es ist ein Denkmal, an dem sich die Geister scheiden: das Ehrenmal der Gebirgstruppe auf dem Hohen Brendten bei Mittenwald. Jedes Jahr zu Pfingsten veranstaltet dort der Verein "Kameradenkreis der Gebirgstruppe" eine Gedenkfeier. Kritiker sehen darin eine "Selbsthilfegruppe von Kriegsverbrechern".


Link zum Video / Stream:

Doppeltes Spiel in Syrien - Mon, 27/04/2015 - 12:34

Rebellen und westliche Medien -

Von ANDREAS VON WESTPHALEN, 27. April 2015 -

Nichts ist so, wie es scheint. Auch nicht in Syrien. Dies bestätigt einmal mehr die aktuelle Wendung in dem Fall des US-amerikanischen Journalisten Richard Engel, der mit Kollegen im Dezember 2012 in Syrien entführt wurde. Zu diesem Zeitpunkt war zwar eine Bombardierung Syriens noch nicht zu einem moralischen und strategischen Imperativ erklärt worden, aber die Forderung, dass der Westen die „Freie Syrische Armee“ unterstützen müsse, beherrschte die Debatte. John Kerry, der damalige Vorsitzende im Ausschuss für Außenpolitik, forderte offen eine Hilfe der USA für die Rebellen, um einen Regimewechsel


Ukraine: The Long Arm of the EU

IMI Tübingen - Mon, 27/04/2015 - 11:34
It is often alleged that the EU’s foreign policy is cobbled together in an ad hoc fashion – more often badly than well – and, so the common critique goes, that there is a lack of any coherent strategy. In (…)

Read the rest of this entry »

"Russland, China, Terror"

German Foreign Policy - Mon, 27/04/2015 - 00:00
(Eigener Bericht) - Das Bundeskanzleramt ist schon frühzeitig über die BND-Weitergabe von Kommunikationsdaten deutscher Konzerne und französischer Behörden an die NSA informiert gewesen. Dies geht aus aktuellen Medienberichten hervor. Demnach hielt der BND bereits 2005 fest, dass bei ihm abgefragte Daten nichts mit dem sogenannten Anti-Terror-Krieg zu tun hatten, und informierte mehrmals die zuständige Geheimdienstkontrolle im Kanzleramt. Während der Airbus-Konzern nicht mit besonderen Nachteilen rechnet, hat die Bundesregierung noch nicht zu der Frage Stellung genommen, wieso der BND Daten eines ihrer engsten Verbündeten, nämlich Frankreichs, an einen fremden Dienst weitergeleitet hat. Unklar ist zudem, welche Gegenleistungen Berlin erhalten hat. Berichtet wird, US-Stellen hätten etwa geholfen, die Quelle eines Informationslochs im Kanzleramt aufzudecken. Während Forderungen laut werden, den Einfluss der NSA zurückzudrängen und dem BND entsprechende Fähigkeiten zu verschaffen, erklären andere, die weltpolitischen Konflikte seien bereits so weit vorangeschritten, dass eine allzu starke Abgrenzung gegenüber der US-Spionage schädlich sei: Vorrang habe der Kampf gegen Russland und den Terror.

Ibrahim Okcuoglu - Zwei Tendenzen der Weltwirtschaft (1)

Indymedia antimil - Sun, 26/04/2015 - 23:31
von: anonym am: 26.04.2015 - 23:31

Die Kräfteverhältnisse, die sich nach dem zweiten Weltkrieg weltweit gebildet haben, verändern sich wieder. Die erste Veränderung wurde vom Kampf zwischen dem sozialistischen und dem kapitalistischen System bestimmt. Das sozialistische System brach aus internen Problemen in sich zusammen und folglich fand dieser Kampf zwischen dem kapitalistischen und dem revisionistischen System statt. Die Welt war nun auf zwei Pole polarisiert. Anfang des Jahres 1990 brach zuerst der Revisionistische Block und danach 1991 die sozial-imperialistische Sowjetunion zusammen. Damit war der Grundstein für eine Welt mit einem einzigen Pol (USA) aber mit vielen gegenseitig konkurrierenden Zentren (USA, EU, Japan, China) gelegt. Jetzt ändert sich auch diese Situation. Der amerikanische Imperialismus hat seine „neue Weltordnung“ nicht verwirklichen können. Die Rechten und „Linken“ sprechen, wie nach dem Zusammenbruch des revisionistischen Blocks, auch heute von einer neuen Weltordnung. Diese neue Weltordnung drückt entweder aus, dass sich die Kräfteverhältnisse weltweit dermaßen verändern haben oder dass sich die Kräfteverhältnisse weltweit geändert haben, dass eine neue Weltordnung entsteht.


Subscribe to  | aggregator