Informationsveranstaltung:Die Air Base Ramstein
Wann: 29.02.2016 | 18.00 bis 20.30 Uhr
Wo: Gemeindesaal in der Versöhnungskirche Kaiserslautern | Leipziger Straße 1 | 67663 Kaiserslautern
Wir bitten um Anmeldung: *protected email*, Betreff: Air Base Ramstein
Bekannt ist, dass der US-Militärstützpunkt Ramstein ein zentrales Drehkreuz für die Vorbereitung und Durchführung völkerrechtswidriger Angriffskriege ist. Aber was sind die neuesten Entwicklungen, die Aus- und Umbaupläne?
Welche Rolle spielt die Air Base im Syrienkrieg und bei den Einsatzplanungen der Bundeswehr?
US-Drohnenpilot_innen auf verschiedensten Militärbasen nutzen Ramstein für die Steuerung der Killerdrohnen in weltweiten und illegalen Kriegseinsätzen. In Ramstein analysieren und aktualisieren ca. 650 Mitarbeiter_innen ständig die Überwachungsdaten der vermeintlichen Zielpersonen und leiten ihre Daten dann weiter. Was sind die neuesten Entwicklungen im Drohnenkrieg national und international? Welche Drohnen bekommt die Bundeswehr? Geht der Drohnenkrieg trotz vieler Proteste einfach so weiter?
Die Klage gegen die Air Base wird beim Bundesverwaltungsgericht verhandelt werden. Wie sind die Aussichten in diesem Prozess? Was ist völkerrechtswidrig und warum?
Wie können Erfahrungen mit 25 Jahren Konversionspraxis in Deutschland und Europa genutzt werden, um die nächste Etappe zivilen Umbaus in der Westpfalz zu einer Erfolgsstory zu machen?
Wie geht es weiter mit den Protesten gegen die Air Base? Nach der Demonstration der 1500 Teilnehmer_innen ist eine große Menschenkette am 11.06.2016 geplant. Was soll dort genau geschehen?
Alte und neue Fragen für die Informationsveranstaltung mit kompetenten Referierenden.
Weitere Infos auf: www.ramstein-kampagne.eu.
Fee Strieffler, Ramsteiner Appell, Luftpost
Aktuelle Entwicklungen in und um Ramstein
Alexander Ulrich, MdB, DIE LINKE
Ramstein und die Interventionskriege
Claudia Haydt, Informationsstelle Militarisierung (IMI)
Drohnen in Ramstein, in Deutschland und international
Dr. Peter Becker, IALANA
Ramstein(-klage) und das Völkerrecht
Roland Vogt, vormals MdB DIE GRÜNEN, Konversionsexperte
Regionale Konversion – eine Militärregion erfolgreich
Kampagne „Stopp Ramstein“, Geschäftsführer IALANA
February 3, 2016
Neuer Beitrag auf NachDenkSeiten – Die kritische Website
Die Ankündigung des Verteidigungsministeriums, die US-NATO-Streitkräfte an den russischen Grenzen zu vervierfachen, macht es wahrscheinlicher, dass aus dem neuen Kalten Krieg ein tatsächlicher Krieg wird, womöglich ein nuklearer.
Unter dieser Überschrift fasst Stephen F. Cohen in The Nation seine wöchentliche Diskussion mit John Batchelor über den neuen Kalten Krieg zwischen den USA und Russland zusammen. Das Gespräch der beiden Journalisten finden Sie im Original hier.
Mehr von diesem Beitrag lesen
Workers at a Carrier Air Conditioner plant in Indianapolis were summoned to a group assembly this week to be told their jobs would soon be moving to Monterrey, Mexico. In all, 1,400 jobs are expected to be lost.
The moment was caught on video:
“I want to be clear, this is strictly a business decision,” says the speaker, Carrier general manager Chris Nelson, as the crowd erupts in anger. “This was an extremely difficult decision.… It was most difficult because as I understand it will have an impact on all of you, your families, and the community.” Carrier is owned by United Technologies.
Also this week, Democratic Senator Joe Donnelly confronted Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen about the move. He noted that United Technologies Electronic Controls will move 700 jobs at another Indiana operation to Mexico as well.
“Now the promise of America has always been you work hard, you do your job, you help your company be profitable and then in return, you hope to have a decent retirement,” he said. “So how do we tell workers who have put their whole heart and soul into a company, who have provided them with over $6.1 billion in sales, that it is not enough? I mean, the reason folks are here is because there has always been a promise: if you work hard, the company in return will stand up and do right by you. So, how is doing right having $6.1 billion dollars in earnings and shipping 2,100 Indiana jobs off to Mexico?”
Yellen, who has come under fire for rate hikes many fear will undermine the unemployment situation, replied: “This is a miserable and burdensome situation that many households have faced.”
The post Watch Carrier Workers Find Out Their Jobs Are Moving to Mexico appeared first on The Intercept.
The sparring during Thursday’s Democratic presidential debate between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders over whether Henry Kissinger is an elder statesman or a pariah has laid bare a major foreign policy divide within the Democratic Party.
Clinton and Sanders stand on opposite sides of that divide. One represents the hawkish Washington foreign policy establishment, which reveres and in some cases actually works for Kissinger. The other represents the marginalized non-interventionists, who can’t possibly forgive someone with the blood of millions of brown people on his hands.
Kissinger is an amazing and appropriate lens through which to see what’s at stake in the choice between Clinton and Sanders. But that only works, of course, if you understand who Kissinger is — which surely many of today’s voters don’t.
Some may only dimly recall that Kissinger won a Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts to end the Vietnam War (comedian Tom Lehrer famously said the award made political satire obsolete) and that he played a central role in President Nixon’s opening of relations with China.
But Kissinger is reviled by many left-leaning observers of foreign policy. They consider him an amoral egotist who enabled dictators, extended the Vietnam War, laid the path to the Khmer Rouge killing fields, stage-managed a genocide in East Timor, overthrew the democratically-elected left-wing government in Chile, and encouraged Nixon to wiretap his political adversaries.
First, let’s review what happened at the debate. Here’s the video, followed by the transcript:
SANDERS: Where the secretary and I have a very profound difference, in the last debate — and I believe in her book — very good book, by the way — in her book and in this last debate, she talked about getting the approval or the support or the mentoring of Henry Kissinger. Now, I find it rather amazing, because I happen to believe that Henry Kissinger was one of the most destructive secretaries of state in the modern history of this country.
I am proud to say that Henry Kissinger is not my friend. I will not take advice from Henry Kissinger. And in fact, Kissinger’s actions in Cambodia, when the United States bombed that country, overthrew Prince Sihanouk, created the instability for Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge to come in, who then butchered some 3 million innocent people, one of the worst genocides in the history of the world. So count me in as somebody who will not be listening to Henry Kissinger.
IFILL: Secretary Clinton?
CLINTON: Well, I know journalists have asked who you do listen to on foreign policy, and we have yet to know who that is.
SANDERS: Well, it ain’t Henry Kissinger. That’s for sure.
CLINTON: That’s fine. That’s fine.
You know, I listen to a wide variety of voices that have expertise in various areas. I think it is fair to say, whatever the complaints that you want to make about him are, that with respect to China, one of the most challenging relationships we have, his opening up China and his ongoing relationships with the leaders of China is an incredibly useful relationship for the United States of America.
So if we want to pick and choose — and I certainly do — people I listen to, people I don’t listen to, people I listen to for certain areas, then I think we have to be fair and look at the entire world, because it’s a big, complicated world out there.
SANDERS: It is.
CLINTON: And, yes, people we may disagree with on a number of things may have some insight, may have some relationships that are important for the president to understand in order to best protect the United States.
SANDERS: I find — I mean, it’s just a very different, you know, historical perspective here. Kissinger was one of those people during the Vietnam era who talked about the domino theory. Not everybody remembers that. You do. I do. The domino theory, you know, if Vietnam goes, China, da, da, da, da, da, da, da. That’s what he talked about, the great threat of China.
And then, after the war, this is the guy who, in fact, yes, you’re right, he opened up relations with China, and now pushed various type of trade agreements, resulting in American workers losing their jobs as corporations moved to China. The terrible, authoritarian, Communist dictatorship he warned us about, now he’s urging companies to shut down and move to China. Not my kind of guy.
And now, some background about Kissinger.
Greg Grandin, a history professor at New York University, just published a timely book called Kissinger’s Shadow: The Long Reach of America’s Most Controversial Statesman. In an article in the Nation last week, “Henry Kissinger, Hillary Clinton’s Tutor in War and Peace,” he offered this pithy summary:
Let’s consider some of Kissinger’s achievements during his tenure as Richard Nixon’s top foreign policy–maker. He (1) prolonged the Vietnam War for five pointless years; (2) illegally bombed Cambodia and Laos; (3) goaded Nixon to wiretap staffers and journalists; (4) bore responsibility for three genocides in Cambodia, East Timor, and Bangladesh; (5) urged Nixon to go after Daniel Ellsberg for having released the Pentagon Papers, which set off a chain of events that brought down the Nixon White House; (6) pumped up Pakistan’s ISI, and encouraged it to use political Islam to destabilize Afghanistan; (7) began the U.S.’s arms-for-petrodollars dependency with Saudi Arabia and pre-revolutionary Iran; (8) accelerated needless civil wars in southern Africa that, in the name of supporting white supremacy, left millions dead; (9) supported coups and death squads throughout Latin America; and (10) ingratiated himself with the first-generation neocons, such as Dick Cheney and Paul Wolfowitz, who would take American militarism to its next calamitous level. Read all about it in Kissinger’s Shadow!
A full tally hasn’t been done, but a back-of-the-envelope count would attribute 3, maybe 4 million deaths to Kissinger’s actions, but that number probably undercounts his victims in southern Africa. Pull but one string from the current tangle of today’s multiple foreign policy crises, and odds are it will lead back to something Kissinger did between 1968 and 1977. Over-reliance on Saudi oil? That’s Kissinger. Blowback from the instrumental use of radical Islam to destabilize Soviet allies? Again, Kissinger. An unstable arms race in the Middle East? Check, Kissinger. Sunni-Shia rivalry? Yup, Kissinger. The impasse in Israel-Palestine? Kissinger. Radicalization of Iran? “An act of folly” was how veteran diplomat George Ball described Kissinger’s relationship to the Shah. Militarization of the Persian Gulf? Kissinger, Kissinger, Kissinger.
The late essayist Christopher Hitchins examined Kissinger’s war crimes in his 2001 book, “The Trial of Henry Kissinger.” He listed the key elements of his case:
1. The deliberate mass killing of civilian populations in Indochina.
2. Deliberate collusion in mass murder, and later in assassination, in Bangladesh.
3. The personal suborning and planning of murder, of a senior constitutional officer in a democratic nation — Chile — with which the United States was not at war.
4. Personal involvement in a plan to murder the head of state in the democratic nation of Cyprus.
5. The incitement and enabling of genocide in East Timor
6. Personal involvement in a plan to kidnap and murder a journalist living in Washington, D.C.
Kissinger’s role in the genocide that took place in East Timor is less well known than the one he enabled in Indochina. Author Charles Glass wrote about that episode in 2011:
On December 6, 1975, Kissinger and Gerald Ford met President Suharto in Indonesia and promised to increase arms supplies to sustain Indonesian suppression of the former Portuguese colony. Kissinger, quoted verbatim in US Embassy cables of that war council, insisted that American weapons for the Indonesian Army’s invasion could be finessed: “It depends on how we construe it; whether it is in self-defense or is a foreign operation.”
Since no one in East Timor had attacked or intended to attack Indonesia, Suharto could hardly plead self-defense. But Kissinger would make the case for him. All he asked was that Suharto delay the invasion a few hours until he and Ford had left Jakarta. He presumably relied on the American public’s inability to connect the Jakarta conference with the invasion so long as he and Ford were back in Washington when the killing began. As far as the American media went, he was right. The Indonesian Army invaded on the anniversary of a previous day of infamy, December 7, massacring about a third of the population. The press, apart from five Australian journalists whom the Indonesian Army slaughtered, ignored the invasion and subsequent occupation. Well done, Henry.
By the time Suharto was overthrown in 1998, Kissinger had gone private—charging vast fees to advise people like Suharto on methods for marketing their crimes. He also kept posing as an elder statesman whose views were sought (and often paid for) by a media that enabled his penchant for self-publicity. He was a patriot whose love of country stopped short of taking part in the 9/11 Commission if it meant disclosing how much the Saudi royal family paid him for his counsel.
The continuing role Kissinger plays in modern foreign policy is perfectly illustrated by Hillary Clinton, his long-time fan and friend. Just recently, in November, she reviewed Kissinger’s latest book, “World Order,” for the Washington Post. There’s a summary of that here.
Clinton called it “vintage Kissinger, with his singular combination of breadth and acuity along with his knack for connecting headlines to trend lines.” She wrote that “his analysis, despite some differences over specific policies, largely fits with the broad strategy behind the Obama administration’s effort over the past six years to build a global architecture of security and cooperation for the 21st century.”
And she said he came off as “surprisingly idealistic. Even when there are tensions between our values and other objectives, America, he reminds us, succeeds by standing up for our values, not shirking them, and leads by engaging peoples and societies, the source of legitimacy, not governments alone.”
A key passage:
Kissinger is a friend, and I relied on his counsel when I served as secretary of state. He checked in with me regularly, sharing astute observations about foreign leaders and sending me written reports on his travels. Though we have often seen the world and some of our challenges quite differently, and advocated different responses now and in the past, what comes through clearly in this new book is a conviction that we, and President Obama, share: a belief in the indispensability of continued American leadership in service of a just and liberal order.
The difference between the two views of Kissinger is not simply of academic or historical interest. How a presidential candidate feels about him is a clear sign of her or his worldview and indicates the kind of decisions she or he will make in office – and, perhaps even more importantly, suggests the kind of staffers she or he will appoint to key positions of authority in areas of diplomacy, defense, national security, and intelligence.
Sanders has not made clear who he is turning to for foreign policy advice, if anyone. (What’s your dream foreign policy team? Email me at email@example.com.)
But Clinton is clearly picking from the usual suspects — the “securocrats in waiting” who make up the Washington D.C. foreign policy establishment.
They work at places like Albright Stoneridge, the powerhouse global consulting firm led by former secretary of state Madeline Albright, a staunch Clinton backer. They work at places like Beacon Global Strategies, which is providing high-profile foreign policy guidance to Clinton — as well as to Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz. And they work at places like Kissinger Associates. In fact, Bob Hormats, who was a Goldman Sachs vice chairman before serving as Clinton’s under secretary of state, is now advising Clinton’s campaign even while serving as the vice chairman of Kissinger Associates.
Despite the wildly bellicose and human-rights-averse rhetoric from the leading Republican presidential candidates, they’re picking from essentially the same pool as well.
A few weeks ago, I talked to Chas Freeman, the former diplomat I once called a “one-man destroyer of groupthink,” whose non-interventionism and even-handed approach to the Middle East was so un-Kissingeresque that his surprising appointment to President Obama’s National Intelligence Council in 2009 lasted all of a few days.
He marveled at the lack of any “honest brokers” in the D.C. foreign policy establishment. “We have a foreign policy elite in this country that’s off its meds, basically,” he said.
“There’s no debate because everybody’s interventionist, everybody’s militaristic.” They all are pretty much in the thrall of neoconservatism, he said. You can see them “speckled all over the Republican side” and “also in the Clinton group.”
Henry Kissinger is thus a litmus test for foreign policy. But don’t count on the mainstream media to help you understand that.
Imagine two types of people: Those who would schmooze with Kissinger at a cocktail party, and those who would spit in his eye. The elite Washington media is almost without exception in that first category. In fact, they’d probably have anyone who spit in Kissinger’s eye arrested.
Since they only see one side, they don’t want to get into it. And there was a little indicator at Thursday night’s debate, hosted by PBS, of just how eagerly the elite political media welcomes an honest exploration of the subject.
Just as Sanders raised the issue of Kissinger’s legacy in Vietnam, either Gwen Ifill or Judy Woodruff — both of whom are very conventional, establishment, Washington cocktail-party celebrities, — was caught audibly muttering “Oh, God.”
Top photo: Hillary Clinton smiles as Henry Kissinger presents her with a Distinguished Leadership Award from the Atlantic Council in Washington in May 2013.
The post Henry Kissinger’s War Crimes Are Central to the Divide Between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders appeared first on The Intercept.
IN THE SUMMER of 2013, Missouri criminal defense attorney Jennifer Bukowsky was preparing for an evidentiary hearing in the case of a pro bono client, Jessie McKim. The stakes were high: Along with his co-defendant, James Peavler, McKim had been convicted in 1999 of killing a woman named Wendy Wagnon and was serving life without parole at a maximum security prison. At the upcoming hearing, Bukowsky planned to argue that her client was innocent — and that the murder that sent him to die in prison was never a murder at all.
McKim was convicted in part based on the testimony of a local medical examiner, who claimed that the presence of petechiae on a dead body — small spots on the skin or the whites of the eyes where capillaries have hemorrhaged — is proof that a person was suffocated. But a toxicology report — completed after Wagnon’s cause of death had already been determined as asphyxiation — revealed that Wagnon had lethal levels of methamphetamine in her system when she died. Among the witnesses Bukowsky planned to call at the hearing were five different pathologists who would testify that the state’s medical examiner was wrong when he claimed Wagnon was suffocated — and that evidence pointed to a meth overdose instead. (A sixth pathologist, retained as an expert by the state, also agreed that Wagnon died of an overdose, not of suffocation.)
“It was a really big time, and a crucial time, for his case,” Bukowsky recalls. As she prepped witnesses and decided who else should take the stand, she shared her strategy with McKim via lengthy phone calls — calls understood to be protected by attorney-client privilege. Unlike calls between prisoners and their family or acquaintances, which are routinely monitored, conversations with lawyers are not to be recorded. During these calls, says Bukowsky, “I’m telling him my concerns about calling this or that person — that is crucial information that should be private between us.”
The hearing took place in August 2013. The following spring, a circuit court judge ruled against McKim, upholding his conviction and saying that even if Wagnon was not suffocated, McKim and his co-defendant could have killed her another way — by intentionally forcing her to overdose on meth, a theory the state had never previously argued, for which there was no supporting evidence.
Bukowsky was confounded by the ruling, but remained undeterred — she is convinced of McKim’s innocence and knows from experience that in a system that favors finality, undoing an unjust conviction can be frustrating work. “It takes a lot of grit & it makes me angry,” she wrote in an email.
Last fall, Bukowsky received an unexpected phone call related to McKim’s case. The call came from The Intercept, following our November 11, 2015, report on a massive hack of Securus Technologies, a Texas-based prison telecommunications company that does business with the Missouri Department of Corrections. As we reported at the time, The Intercept received a massive database of more than 70 million call records belonging to Securus and coming from prison facilities that used the company’s so-called Secure Call Platform. Leaked via SecureDrop by a hacker who was concerned that Securus might be violating prisoners’ rights, the call records span a 2 1/2-year period beginning in late 2011 (the year Securus won its contract with the Missouri DOC) and ending in the spring of 2014.
Although Securus did not respond to repeated requests for comment for our November report, the company released a statement condemning the hack shortly after the story was published. Securus insisted there was “absolutely no evidence” that any attorney-client calls had been recorded “without the knowledge and consent” of the parties to each call.
The Intercept’s analysis, to the contrary, estimated that the hacked data included at least 14,000 records of conversations between inmates and attorneys. In the wake of the story’s publication, we informed Bukowsky that her phone number had been found among the records and provided her a spreadsheet of the calls made to her office — including the name of the client and the date, time, and duration of the calls. In turn, Bukowsky searched her case files for notes and other records, ultimately confirming that at least one call with McKim — which was prearranged with the Missouri DOC to be a private attorney call — was included in the data. The privileged call, more than 30 minutes long, was made at the height of Bukowsky’s preparations for McKim’s hearing. A unique recording URL accompanied each of Bukowsky’s calls included in the data, suggesting that audio had been recorded and stored for more than two years — and ultimately compromised by the unprecedented data breach.
The discovery was distressing. “I was in the thrust of litigating with the state attorney general’s office a very hotly disputed habeas petition, and I was acting under good faith that they were not recording,” she said. “And,” it appears, “they were.”
THE ABILITY OF COUNSEL and client to communicate confidentially is a cornerstone of the American legal system. The recording, monitoring, or storage of such legally protected communications not only chills the attorney-client relationship, but may also run afoul of constitutional protections — including the right to effective assistance of counsel and access to the courts.
The mass recording of inmate calls is itself a fairly recent practice, sold by private telecommunications companies, like Securus, to jails and prisons as a security measure — a way to thwart violent uprisings, for example, or curb the introduction of contraband into a facility. This bulk surveillance — the recording and long-term storage of millions and millions of routine communications — raises serious concerns about the privacy rights of incarcerated persons and their loved ones, says David Fathi, director of the ACLU’s National Prison Project. And indeed, while incarceration may compromise some individual rights, a detainee’s right to confidential communication with an attorney is not one that can be trampled by the state — or a private company. In criminal cases, the attorney-client privilege bars defense attorneys from disclosing, or prosecutors from using, any case-related information obtained in confidence. It is, says Fathi, “the oldest privilege of confidentiality known in our legal system.”
After The Intercept exposed the Securus hack, numerous defense attorneys contacted us to find out whether the database contained any of their call data. As we previously reported, the data contained 1.3 million unique telephone numbers; to determine if the 70 million call records contained attorney-client calls, we did a reverse lookup of each number, finding that at least 14,000 calls were made to attorneys. But because the reverse lookup was limited to a commercial directory, and because we searched only for business listings that included the words “attorney,” “law,” or “legal,” we concluded that we were likely missing thousands of additional calls — including those made to attorney cellphone numbers, which would not necessarily be listed in a commercial directory.
The attorneys who contacted The Intercept helped advance our investigation into the data by identifying additional phone numbers as belonging to lawyers, which were not previously included in our estimate. We have now identified at least 43,000 additional records of attorney-client communications — including both attempted and completed calls — contained within the hacked data. (But again, because the subsequent searches were done only for attorneys who reached out to The Intercept, we suspect there are still many more attorney-client call records not yet identified in the data.)
Among these additional records are more than 33,000 calls that detainees placed to lawyers working for Missouri’s state public defender office, and more than 1,000 made to the Midwest Innocence Project, which handles wrongful conviction cases in Missouri and four other states. That the hack contained so many calls to the MIP is distressing to the nonprofit’s executive director, Oliver Burnette. “It really gave us pause, and I think it can really hinder how we try to do business for the most vulnerable among us, those people … who are in jail and may be innocent,” he said.
As with Bukowsky’s calls, some of these additional records correspond to phone conversations arranged with prison officials to be confidential attorney-client communications, which never should have been recorded.
After a detailed review of several specific fields contained within the hacked records, The Intercept has been able to narrow the geographical scope of the recorded calls, tracing all of the detainee call records to Missouri prison facilities. Although, as we previously reported, the database reflects calls to at least 37 states, the vast majority — 85 percent — were made to phone numbers in Missouri. An additional 5 percent were placed to numbers with Kansas and Illinois area codes — states that border Missouri’s largest cities, Kansas City and St. Louis. Each phone record includes the name of the prisoner making the call, an acronym for a location that maps to a correctional facility in Missouri, as well as an identification number that appears to correspond with Missouri DOC prisoner IDs. The records do not include the number from which each phone call originated.
For Bukowsky — who founded her eponymous firm in Columbia in 2010 — the potential for damage was vast. At the August 2013 hearing in McKim’s case, the state called to the stand a woman, Melissa McFarland, who was with Wagnon just before her death and then implicated McKim in that death, a circumstance Bukowsky would have discussed with McKim. “So for them to hear me — if they’re listening to me, which I don’t know if they did — but were they to, they would know all the different things that I’m saying to my client that I think are problems for McFarland that I’m going to cross-examine her on [and] they could then prep her accordingly.”
In an email response to The Intercept, a spokesperson for the Missouri attorney general said that its office did not have access or listen to any phone calls between Bukowsky and McKim.
Bukowsky notes that violating attorney-client confidentiality in the manner that appears to have happened — and could still be happening, whether in Missouri or any of the jurisdictions where Securus operates, which include 47 states and the District of Columbia, as well as Canada and Mexico — is just another way the odds are stacked in favor of the state in criminal prosecutions.
IN OUR INITIAL REPORT, the ACLU’s Fathi described the hack as potentially representing the “most massive breach of the attorney-client privilege in modern U.S. history.” Upon learning The Intercept was able to confirm that the data included prearranged, privileged communications between lawyers and their clients, Fathi was even more troubled: “It’s very disturbing that calls that were explicitly set up as attorney-client calls were also recorded,” he said. “There’s no excuse for recording attorney-client calls, and there’s certainly no excuse for indefinitely retaining those recordings.”
Securus’ first public statement following our November report characterized the breach as an inside leak. In a subsequent press release on November 13, the company dropped the language about the hack being an inside job, declaring that it was “working on multiple fronts to fully investigate … and to prevent future criminal attacks.” The company said it had hired a forensic data analysis firm to determine how the hack happened and “to confirm that it happened outside of the Securus network and systems.” Securus has not publicly released any additional information related to the breach, nor responded to our requests for additional information and comment for this story.
Securus previously contested The Intercept’s conclusions about the recording of potentially privileged calls. “While The Intercept reports that they matched call data from the stolen data with phone numbers attached to attorneys’ offices,” it said in its second release regarding the hack, “no evidence has been provided that any of these calls were actually recorded, and if so, whether any of them would actually constitute privileged communications,” In addition, Securus said that its calling systems contain “multiple safeguards to prevent attorney-client recordings from occurring,” and pointed out that “licensed attorneys are able to register their numbers or a specific call to exempt them from recording.”
Although specific procedures differ depending on the state or locality involved, it is commonly the responsibility of lawyers to verify and register their numbers with jail or prison officials — ostensibly to ensure that legal calls are not recorded or monitored.
“While it is possible that not all of these safeguards were followed by the callers in some cases,” the company continued, “we have seen no evidence to date of recorded calls that would fall under that category.”
But criminal defense lawyers in Missouri told The Intercept that, unlike other jurisdictions in which Securus provides inmate calling services, the Missouri DOC does not allow attorneys to provide individual phone numbers to the agency or to individual facilities for inclusion in a standing do-not-record list. In an email, Missouri DOC Communications Director David Owen said the DOC “respects the right of offenders to have privileged communications with their attorneys” and explained that in order to guarantee a call is private, “attorneys must demonstrate, in written form, they are a licensed attorney, and request to have a privileged telephone call with an incarcerated offender.” Once scheduled, such calls are “set to private,” he explained, adding that lawyers “must make this request every time they wish to have a privileged telephone conversation with an incarcerated offender.”
But, after reviewing call record information provided by The Intercept, five attorneys in Missouri confirmed that contained in the hacked data were calls that were prearranged with the DOC to be private communications. “How can a client feel safe sharing information with his attorney when he suspects that the opposing party is listening to the call? How can an attorney expect to share legal strategy with their client if she suspects the same?” asks Jennifer Merrigan, a defense attorney who has represented Missouri death row prisoners for more than a decade, including as a former staff attorney and director of the Death Penalty Litigation Clinic in Kansas City. “A critical foundation of trust and confidence in the process has been destroyed.”
“It’s a little bit disconcerting,” says Missouri criminal defense attorney Kent Gipson, who discovered three calls made to him by three different clients that he could confirm were set up in advance, through prison authorities, as privileged calls that were not to be recorded. Each call record he identified also contained a unique recording URL. At the same time, Gipson notes, the allegation that all calls, including attorney calls, are routinely recorded or monitored is not a new one among attorneys or inmates. “Nothing much surprises me anymore,” he said.
AFTER REVIEWING RECORDS found in the hacked data for calls made to public defender offices across Missouri, Michael Barrett, director of the Missouri State Public Defender System, said in an email that his office’s “initial finding” did not reveal any call records that match up with calls known to have been prearranged by system attorneys. “Not to say it didn’t happen,” he wrote, “just that we cannot identify a prearranged call that was recorded.”
But Barrett is among those The Intercept interviewed who suggest that the recording of any attorney-client communications can hinder the effectiveness of counsel. “Confidentiality is at the heart of what we do, and if a client feels as if what they say is being compromised, to whatever degree, he or she may not be sufficiently forthcoming with counsel so that the most effective defense can be presented on their behalf,” Barrett wrote. The best approach, he suggests, is to have a policy of never recording phone calls between lawyers and their clients. This would also mean “the risk of confidential information being leaked is zero.”
The MIP’s Burnette agrees, noting that there is no reason for clients to call except to talk about their cases — and any call in which representation is discussed should be considered privileged and thus not recorded, monitored, logged, or stored. “I think that any time someone calls our office, it’s a legal call,” he says. “I mean, we’re not talking about the [Kansas City] Chiefs game.” That is “not their concern when they call us. They’re trying to go into issues on their case.”
Tricia Bushnell, the MIP’s legal director, said that while review of the call data is not yet complete, so far she has been able to locate within the records The Intercept provided three calls that were prearranged in the manner the Missouri DOC has said is required.
Still, that may not necessarily reflect the true number of calls within the data that were intended to be privileged — indeed, despite the Missouri DOC’s insistence that only prearranged calls would be considered privileged, one Missouri attorney told The Intercept that policies governing how attorney-client calls are handled vary from facility to facility within the system, which makes it difficult to determine exactly how many privileged call records are contained within the leaked data.
“Every place is different,” Burnette agrees. “Perhaps that’s part of the problem, is that there’s no standardization.” But Burnette says the volume of legal calls included in the hack suggests that the Securus-Missouri DOC call system simply doesn’t work — and isn’t meeting its duty to protect prisoner rights. “Neither of those organizations are above the law afforded to everyone,” he says.
In response to a list of additional questions The Intercept emailed to the Missouri DOC, a spokesperson reiterated the agency’s initial response — that privileged calls must be prearranged — but added a caveat: “If a requested private call goes past its scheduled time that has been entered into the vendor software, the telephone software system will begin recording the call. At this time, the users will be [given] a notification that the call is being recorded.”
AFTER THE INTERCEPT reported on the Securus hack, the company said there was no evidence that any confidential attorney-client calls were actually recorded. However, the hacker had provided The Intercept with several audio files — recordings of actual conversations — that had been downloaded by clicking on the recording URLs within the call records, leading us to draw the logical inference that the other live links were also connected to audio files. Subsequently, Securus appears to have moved the more than 70 million calls in question to a new server, severing further access to the audio files through the links in the data.
Even if an audio file was not available for each of the calls identified by lawyers as confidential, the collection of metadata on those calls is a problem, says the ACLU’s Fathi. The database includes names and locations for individual detainees, the date, time, and duration of their calls, as well as the number called and data that appears to indicate how the call was paid for. “You can imagine all kinds of cases where the metadata would itself reveal confidential information,” says Fathi.
Burnette agrees that even collecting metadata on attorney-client calls is concerning. “We’ve talked about this on calls for private citizens — we know what they can glean from metadata,” he said. “We know the danger of it — and the value of it. If it wasn’t a valuable resource, there wouldn’t be Google, right? [With] metadata they know a lot about us.”
Take, for example, calls made by detainees to prosecutors — of which we found numerous examples within the data, including calls placed to a U.S. attorney’s office in Missouri. “The disclosure that a prisoner called a prosecutor’s office could potentially put that prisoner in very great danger,” Fathi points out. “If the prisoner were to be, rightly or wrongly, labeled a snitch or informant that could have very serious, and indeed, lethal consequences for the prisoner.”
Among prisoners, it is an open secret in Missouri (and, indeed, throughout the criminal justice system) that calls intended to be confidential are monitored and/or recorded by the state. Defense attorney Gipson says that “a lot” of his clients suspect that all of their calls are monitored and/or recorded — despite official assurances to the contrary. “They think that even though it’s supposed to be a confidential call, they put [attorney calls] on a line that can be monitored — and then do, I think.”
One woman whose husband is housed in a Missouri prison told The Intercept that he and his fellow inmates consider it common knowledge that all calls — including privileged communications — are monitored and recorded. According to her husband, she said, at least one fellow inmate related that, while in a court proceeding, prosecutors demonstrated knowledge of information they couldn’t possibly have obtained without being privy to communications between the man and his attorney.
This isn’t an isolated allegation: In Austin, Texas, a federal lawsuit alleging that privileged calls have been recorded by Securus in the county’s jail facilities is currently pending against the company. The lawsuit claims that lawyers there have received copies of their privileged conversations from prosecutors during the evidence discovery process.
The Missouri prisoner’s wife also said that it wasn’t until December 14, 2015 — more than a month after our initial story was published, but just days after we emailed the DOC a series of questions for this story — that prison officials informed her husband and other inmates of the hack, telling them only that “the system was breached and everyone needed a new PIN” in order to place calls. The Intercept obtained a copy of the letter prison officials provided to inmates, which says that the data hacked was “historical call detail records” and did not include any compromising information, such as credit card information or social security numbers. Moreover, the letter reiterated Securus’ previous press statements regarding the hack, insisting that there is “no evidence” that attorney-client calls were recorded. “The system has been verified and is working properly,” the letter reads.
THE BREACH OF Securus’ data in Missouri suggests something larger not only about the mass recording and storage of inmate calls but also about the perils of privatizing core state responsibilities — as is often the case in corrections, where health care, food service, phone service, and even some prison facilities have been privatized. “These are … services for a population that has very little political power,” said Fathi. “So there’s not really a lot of care being put into oversight and monitoring and making sure that this service is being provided correctly,” he continued. “It continues to be incredible [to me] the sheer scale of what has happened here … and I think it shows what happens when technological advances and lax oversight come together to produce a bad result of very large proportions.”
In fact, the scale of recording and storage of inmate calls by Securus — as well as by its competitors, including industry leader Global Tel*Link — is infinitely larger than represented by the hacked data leaked to The Intercept. As of 2012, Securus alone was processing more than 1 million calls per day, from 1,700 facilities serving 850,000 detainees. According to company data provided to International Business Times, which ran a friendly profile of Securus CEO Rick Smith last month, the company has now grown to serve more than 1.2 million inmates in 3,450 facilities. The article did not include data on how many calls are currently processed each day, though logic would dictate that the call volume has increased in proportion to the company’s expanded reach, from significantly less than 1 million detainees in fewer than 2,000 facilities three years ago to 1.2 million across 3,450 facilities today.
And there is no reason to think that thousands of attorney-client calls, including clearly privileged communications, were improperly recorded only in Missouri and only over a 2 1/2-year period. “Absolutely,” says Fathi. “I am 100 percent certain that this is just the tip of the iceberg.”
Research: Joshua Thayer
The post Lawyers Speak Out About Massive Hack of Prisoners’ Phone Records appeared first on The Intercept.
Last February, the White House held a three-day summit on the topic of “Countering Violent Extremism.” At the summit, government officials announced the launch of pilot programs in Boston, Los Angeles, and Minnesota to explore “the preventative aspects of counterterrorism as well as interventions to undermine the attraction of extremist movements.”
One year later, it’s still unclear what that entails, exactly. The government has provided few details on how it actually intends to “counter extremism” in the U.S., despite calling CVE an “administration priority” in the 2017 fiscal budget and allocating tens of millions of dollars in spending. In an indication of how these efforts are ramping up, this week a Senate subcommittee on Homeland Security approved a bill to create of an “Office for Partnerships Against Violent Extremism,” which will soon head to the full Senate for approval. A 2017 budget submission for the Office of Justice Programs also mentions “$69 million for CVE programs” proposed for the Departments of Homeland Security and Justice.
Hoping to shed light on the situation, the American Civil Liberties Union yesterday filed a lawsuit under the Freedom of Information Act against the Department of Justice, Department of Homeland Security, the FBI, the Department of Education, and other federal agencies demanding the release of information about their CVE initiatives.
“Countering violent extremism programs have been identified by the government as top national security priority, but the public knows appallingly little about them,” says Hina Shamsi, Director of the ACLU’s National Security Project. “We’re suing because government agencies have repeatedly failed to provide us information that we’ve requested about the nature of their CVE initiatives.”
In a briefing paper released with their lawsuit, the ACLU said that CVE programs often target “people for monitoring based on their beliefs or ideologies,” thus potentially criminalizing speech protected under the First Amendment. It also highlighted past abuses of CVE programs, including instances in which young people who refused to take part were characterized as radicals and where community leaders were told they would have to identity and discuss cases of specific youths with law enforcement.
The Department of Homeland Security declined to comment for this story, citing pending litigation. The Department of Justice did not respond to request for comment.
Government-led CVE efforts in the United States are inspired in large part by programs rolled out in past years in the United Kingdom. Broadly speaking, CVE programs seek to expand counterterrorism efforts beyond law enforcement to involve other government workers, like teachers and social workers, as well as community leaders outside of government, like clergy. They can involve propaganda and other communication strategies as well as monitoring and questioning.
Those programs have been deeply controversial in the UK, where civil society activists have blamed them for exacerbating ethnic tensions within British society while failing to meaningfully fight extremism. In recent months, the UK government has also rolled out anti-radicalization programs in schools, which have led to instances in which Muslim schoolchildren have been stigmatized by teachers as potential terrorists.
In the U.S., some of the most controversial CVE initiatives are those that focus on children. Leaked documents from the National Counterterrorism Center, published by The Intercept last year, showed that the government had developed a questionnaire to evaluate young people for their risk of future extremism, evidently for use by social workers, healthcare practitioners and teachers, among others. A controversial online counter-extremism game called “Don’t Be a Puppet” was also launched by the FBI this week, ostensibly targeted at the same young demographic.
“The apparent focus on young people as a target of government counter-extremism initiatives should be troubling to everyone,” says Shamsi. “It would be very unfortunate to see teachers or social workers potentially reporting kids to law enforcement as possible extremists, particularly when many of the designated ‘warning signs’ for extremism correspond with ordinary behaviors often exhibited by adolescents and teenagers.”
Critics have also questioned whether there is any credible empirical or scientific basis behind CVE initiatives.
The ACLU, alongside many Muslim-American civil society groups, fear that U.S. government CVE efforts will similarly undermine the position of Muslims living here. “Our country’s history shows that policies and programs that stigmatize one group always inevitably spread to other groups,” Shamsi says. “The government’s focus should be on policing crimes, not thoughts and beliefs.”
Photo: Screengrab from FBI Countering-Violent Extremism game, “Don’t Be a Puppet”
The post Lawsuit Demands Information on Shadowy “Countering Violent Extremism” Programs in U.S. appeared first on The Intercept.
The NYPD has used cell-site simulators, commonly known as Stingrays, more than 1,000 times since 2008, according to documents turned over to the New York Civil Liberties Union. The documents represent the first time the department has acknowledged using the devices.
The NYPD also disclosed that it does not get a warrant before using a Stingray, which sweeps up massive amounts of data. Instead, the police obtain a “pen register order” from a court, more typically used to collect call data for a specific phone. Those orders do not require the police to establish probable cause. Additionally, the NYPD has no written policy guidelines on the use of Stingrays.
Stingrays work by imitating cellphone towers. They force all nearby phones to connect to them, revealing the owners’ locations. That means they collect data on potentially hundreds of people. They are small enough to fit in a suitcase, or be mounted on a plane.
When they were originally developed in 2003, Stingrays were designed for military use. But in the past decade, they have increasingly been purchased by law enforcement agencies. According to the ACLU, Stingrays are used by at least 59 police departments in 23 states, and at least 13 federal agencies, including the DEA, FBI, and the IRS. Because most departments withhold information about Stingrays, these numbers likely underrepresent the total.
In December, The Intercept published a secret U.S. government catalogue of cellphone surveillance technology, including Stingrays and “dirt-boxes.” The advertisements boast that many of the items can spy on “up to 10,000 targets.”
Stingrays have long been a topic of concern for privacy activists. “Cell-site simulators are powerful surveillance devices that can track people, including in their homes, and collect information on innocent bystanders,” said Mariko Hirose, a senior staff attorney at the NYCLU. “If they are going to be used in communities the police should at minimum obtain a warrant and follow written policies.”
Instead, law enforcement agencies have fought to keep Stingrays secret, even dropping criminal cases to avoid disclosing anything about them. The FBI has forced local police agencies to sign Stingray-related non-disclosure agreements, claiming that criminals and terrorists who know about Stingrays could take countermeasures against them.
The increasing use of Stingrays, coupled with the lack of transparency, has alarmed civil liberties groups. “I think it’s critical to have transparency about the use of technology like Stingrays,” said Faiza Patel, an attorney with the Brennan Center for Justice. “That’s what allows courts, the public, and our elected officials to weigh in on the proper rules.”
In September, the Department of Justice issued guidelines requiring its officers to seek probable cause warrants before using a Stingray. But the guidelines only applied to federal law enforcement agencies, not to state and local police, who have fought such a change. In one ongoing court case, the state of Maryland has argued that anyone who turns on their phone consents to having his or her location tracked.
In November, Senator Ron Wyden, D-Ore., and Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, introduced the GPS Act, a bill that would extend the Department of Justice’s guidelines to all law enforcement agencies. “Buying a smartphone shouldn’t be interpreted as giving the government a free pass to track your movements,” Wyden said.
See the government catalogue here:
The post New York Police Have Used Stingrays Widely, New Documents Show appeared first on The Intercept.