Aktionsbündnis Stop G7 Elmau
Sehr geehrte Medienvertreterinnen und Medienvertreter,
es geht in die heiße Phase. Die Planungen des Aktionsbündnisses “Stop G7 Elmau” anlässlich des G7-Gipfels im Werdenfelser Land schreiten erfolgreich voran. Das Interesse an unseren Vorhaben ist groß, was sich in zahlreichen regionalen, überregionalen und europäischen Medienanfragen widerspiegelt.
Wenn Sie ebenfalls Interviewanfragen stellen, O-Töne einfangen oder den Stand der neusten Planungen erhalten wollen, möchten wir Sie gerne einladen:
- Pressekonferenz nach der bundesweiten Aktionskonferenz
mit Vertreter*innen der einzelnen AGs
Sonntag, 26.04.2015, 10 Uhr
Ladenlokal Westendstraße 19
Sie erreichen die Pressegruppe unter: firstname.lastname@example.org
(This post is from our new blog: Unofficial Sources.)
Students at Tufts University are currently staging a sit-in protest at the school president’s office, urging the university to divest from fossil-fuel companies. After negotiations with school officials broke down, students say officials have threatened disciplinary action — and have blocked deliveries of food.
The protest, organized by a campus group called Tufts Climate Action, is calling for Tufts to sell off all its investments in fossil fuel companies over a five-year period.
“We’ve been here since 8 a.m. on Wednesday morning,” said Emma Youcha, a freshman taking part in the sit-in. Youcha said Tufts President Anthony Monaco dismissed her group’s concerns and would not allow the students to present their arguments to the full board of trustees.
The students say they are staging the sit-in to make their voices heard. But university officials called in campus security, who have constructed a fence to prevent students from communicating through a window. And when janitors came to bring a shipment of pizzas to the students, security blocked the delivery.
So far, students say they are subsisting on snacks and a loaf of bread they brought with them initially. Youcha says they will eventually be forced to leave once they run out of food.
Photo: Emma Youcha
The post Officials Block Food Deliveries to Tufts Students Protesting Fossil Fuel Investments appeared first on The Intercept.
Lawyers for Jeffrey Sterling, convicted earlier this year of leaking classified information to New York Times reporter James Risen, urged today that Sterling “not receive a different form of justice” than David Petraeus, the former general and CIA director who has pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor for leaking classified information to his biographer.
While Petraeus will not go to jail—yesterday a judge sentenced him to two years probation and a $100,000 fine—prosecutors have asked for a “severe” sentence against Sterling within federal guidelines of 19 to 24 years in prison. In January, a jury convicted Sterling, a former CIA agent, on nine counts related to leaking information to Risen, a Times reporter who in 2006 wrote a book that revealed the agency had mishandled a program to disrupt Iran’s nuclear-weapons program.
Sterling’s lawyers, Edward MacMahon, Jr. and Barry Pollack, filed their sentencing memorandum today, arguing that their client “should be treated no more harshly than any other person who has been charged and convicted of ‘leaking’ to the press.” In addition to Petraeus, they cited the cases of John Kiriakou, a former CIA agent who was sentenced to 30 months in prison, and Stephen Kim, who received a 13-month sentence. Unlike Petraeus, Kiriakou and Kim, who reached plea agreements, Sterling took his case to a jury. He is scheduled to be sentenced on May 11.
“He should be treated similarly to others convicted for the same crimes and not singled out for a long prison sentence because he elected to exercise his right to trial,” the lawyers stated. “[T]he court cannot turn a blind eye to the positions the government has taken in similar cases.”
The Petraeus and Sterling cases have highlighted another disparity in the government’s handling of leak cases: powerful officials like Petraeus are treated leniently while mid-level ones like Kiriakou, Kim and Sterling go to jail. In the Petraeus case, the government claims no harm was caused by his leak, because none of the information he leaked to Paula Broadwell, his biographer and onetime lover, was published, whereas the information published by Risen had caused “substantial damage” to national security.
However, this characterization was called “overwrought hyperbole” by a former CIA official in a letter of support for Sterling released today by his lawyers. David J. Manners, a former station chief in Prague and Amman as well as chief of the agency’s Iran task force, described as “not credible” the prosecution’s claim that Risen’s book severely hurt the CIA’s ability to recruit spies. Manners, who first met Sterling when both worked at the agency, noted that the government itself has often disclosed the role of intelligence operatives.
“While such disclosures are never helpful, they happen all the time (and sometimes the United States quietly endorses the disclosure—read some of Bob Woodward’s books, or look at Agency collaboration on the film about the bin Laden raid),” Manners wrote.
Sterling’s lawyers called attention to what they regard as another inequity in the treatment of Petraeus and their client. Petraeus admitted in his plea agreement that the classified information he leaked included highly-sensitive names of covert operatives, war plans for U.S. forces, as well as details about his discussions with senior officials including President Obama. Petraeus also admitted to lying to FBI agents about what he had done. Sterling, his lawyers noted, “revealed the names of no covert personnel and never lied about his actions to the FBI.”
The prosecution appears to be trying to do more than put Sterling behind bars for two decades; it appears to be trying to rewrite history and put an end to leaks of information that embarrass the government.
In their sentencing memorandum released earlier this week, prosecutors described the program that Risen wrote about as “meticulously conceived” and “thorough,” whereas Risen, the prosecution noted, had portrayed it as a “rogue” operation that made the agency look “hapless, even reckless.” If it follows the prosecution’s request for a severe sentence, the court may be seen as affirming the government’s upbeat portrayal of the program, which involved providing Iran with nuclear blueprints that would not work. According to Risen’s book, the Iranians were able to figure out which part of the blueprints were accurate and used those.
The prosecution also argued that Sterling’s sentence should be rendered as a warning to other would-be leakers. “A substantial sentence in this case would send an appropriate and much needed message to all persons entrusted with the handling of classified information…that intentional breaches of the laws government the safeguarding of national defense information will be pursued aggressively, and those who violate the law in this manner will be tried, convicted and punished accordingly.”
Sterling’s lawyers argued that he has already been punished severely—he was indicted five years ago, lost his job and is now “unemployed, unemployable, and destitute”—and that there is “no reason to believe that a substantial prison sentence given to a man who last worked at the CIA in 2002 will deter the leakers who supply information to the press on an almost daily basis to serve their own political and personal purposes.” They added, “People know they face penalties, and leaking has continued.”
- Lawyers for CIA Leaker Cite Selective Prosecution After Petraeus Plea Deal
- After Petraeus Plea Deal, Lawyer Demands Release of Stephen Kim
- Petraeus Plea Deal Reveals Two-Tier Justice System for Leaks
- Stephen Kim Spoke To A Reporter. Now He’s In Jail. This Is His Story.
- The Surrender (a short documentary by Stephen Maing)
Photo: John W. Adkisson/Getty
The post Petraeus Gets Leniency for Leaking—And Risen’s CIA Source Should Too, His Lawyers Say appeared first on The Intercept.
(This post is from our new blog: Unofficial Sources.)
Although Hillary Clinton went into great detail extolling the virtures of President Obama’s proposed trade agreements while serving as Secretary of State, as a candidate for president Clinton has only offered vague statements about her current position on the deals.
So how would a President Clinton decide on the Trans-Pacific Partnership or the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership? On Wednesday, White House spokesperson Eric Schultz said he had not “seen anything to suggest any distance” between Clinton’s position and the Obama administration on the deals. And trade consultants close to Clinton remain optimistic about her support.
Asked about Clinton’s TPP position at a recent Bloomberg News conference, Jim Bacchus, former Democratic congressman from Florida, said he is “sure Hillary will get to all of these things and I think she has a good sense to be for trade as part of her overall approach to America’s economic future.”
Later at the same conference, Bob Hormats, who served as Clinton’s Under Secretary of State, said he could not speak on behalf of Clinton, but emphasized that his former boss “understands very clearly that there are enormous trade opportunities in Asia and creating jobs.”
Hormats now serves as Vice Chairman of Kissinger Associates, a consulting firm founded by Henry Kissinger that advises multinational corporations on trade issues.
In Congress, Bacchus was a lead negotiator for NAFTA and later served as chief judge of the World Trade Organization. Bacchus, who now works on trade issues as the Global Practice Chair of the lobbying firm Greenberg Traurig, said he was the first of Florida’s congressional delegation to endorse Bill Clinton’s bid for the presidency, a supporter for Hillary Clinton in 2008 and a strong supporter of her current presidential campaign.
In New Hampshire, Clinton recently said, “Any trade deal has to produce jobs and raise wages and increase prosperity and protect our security.” She has also mentioned that she would like to see currency manipulation as a key part of the deal.
But Clinton’s comments have not persuaded TPP critics. Indeed, vague demands that any deal increase prosperity are more or less identical to the rhetoric offered by strong TPP supporters. I spoke to Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin last Saturday, who had this to say about the TPP and TTIP (emphasis added):
Well, I talked about TTIP the other day in Germany in Hanover at the industrial fair there, and I think fair and open trade is a good thing on either side of the continent for the United States, whethere it’s on the Atlantic or the Pacific. Obvious the details need to be worked out and there’s a lot of details including some specific to my state that need to be worked out. But I think in the end, having a deal that’s fair and offers fair and open trade would be a good thing for the United States and for our trading partners.
Critics of the deal argue they have been burned by double-dealing by politicians in the past.
As a candidate for the presidency in 2008, Barack Obama harshly criticized NAFTA on the campaign trail, claiming he would move to renegotiate the pact as president. Yet, reporters later uncovered evidence that Obama’s aides had met privately with Canadian officials to tell them that Obama’s rhetoric was “more reflective of political maneuvering than policy.”
Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images
The post TPP Proponents Close to Clinton Remain Optimistic About Her Support appeared first on The Intercept.
Im Anschluss an die Refugee-Schulstreik-Demo und die Protestmahnwache vor der Vertretung der Europäischen Kommission mit tausenden Teilnehmer_innen gegen das `Massensterben lassen` durch die EU, die Rolle Deutschlands und geplante Asylrechtsverschärfungen fanden noch einige Flashmobs rund um den Bundestag statt. Dabei wurden jene Kerzen, Blumen, Schilder, Mitteilungen und Papierboote auf die Reise geschickt, die zuvor vor dem "Europäischen Haus" nicht stehen bleiben durften. Damit ist zwar der heutige Aktionstag beendet worden, nicht aber der weiterhin notwenige, wenn nicht gar noch viel verstärkter notwendige, permanente, kontinuierliche Widerstand gegen das Massensterbenlassen im Mittelmeer, ungenügende bzw. sinnlose und eher negative Reaktionen und Maßnahmen durch die EU sowie gegen die geplanten Asylrechtsverschärfungen durch die Bundesregierung! Bleibt am Ball! Weiter so! Refugees Welcome! Danke an alle!
Last week, The Washington Post revealed that in 268 trials dating back to 1972, 26 out of 28 examiners within the FBI Laboratory’s microscopic hair comparison unit “overstated forensic matches in a way that favored prosecutors in more than 95 percent” of the cases. These included cases where 14 people have since been either executed or died in prison.
The hair analysis review — the largest-ever post-conviction review of questionable forensic evidence by the FBI — has been ongoing since 2012. The review is a joint effort by the FBI, Innocence Project and the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers. The preliminary results announced last week represent just a small percentage of the nearly 3,000 criminal cases in which the FBI hair examiners may have provided analysis. Of the 329 DNA exonerations to date, 74 involved flawed hair evidence analysis.
While these revelations are certainly disturbing — and the implications alarming — the reality is that they represent the tip of the iceberg when it comes to flawed forensics.
In a landmark 2009 report, the National Academy of Sciences concluded that, aside from DNA, there was little, if any, meaningful scientific underpinning to many of the forensic disciplines. “With the exception of nuclear DNA analysis … no forensic method has been rigorously shown to have the capacity to consistently, and with a high degree of certainty, demonstrate a connection between evidence and a specific individual or source,” reads the report.
There is one thing that all troubling forensic techniques have in common: They’re all based on the idea that patterns, or impressions, are unique and can be matched to the thing, or person, who made them. But the validity of this premise has not been subjected to rigorous scientific inquiry. “The forensic science community has had little opportunity to pursue or become proficient in the research that is needed to support what it does,” the NAS report said.
Nonetheless, courts routinely allow forensic practitioners to testify in front of jurors, anointing them “experts” in these pattern-matching fields — together dubbed forensic “sciences” despite the lack of evidence to support that — based only on their individual, practical experience. These witnesses, who are largely presented as learned and unbiased arbiters of truth, can hold great sway with jurors whose expectations are often that real life mimics the television crime lab or police procedural.
But that is not the case, as the first results from the FBI hair evidence review clearly show. And given the conclusions of the NAS report, future results are not likely to improve. What’s more, if other pattern-matching disciplines were subjected to the same scrutiny as hair analysis, there is no reason to think the results would be any better. For some disciplines the results could even be worse. Consider the examples below:1. Bite-mark analysis is based on two falsehoods and has wrongfully convicted at least 24 people actual scientific inquiries into the practice in decades.
Indeed, some of the harshest criticism contained in the NAS report focuses on bite-mark evidence, and concludes that there is no scientific underpinning to the discipline. In a recent four-part series on bite-mark analysis, The Washington Post’s Radley Balko described how forensic odontologists — dentists who profess expertise in bite-mark analysis (and who are qualified as such by the American Board of Forensic Odontology) not only reject the NAS’s conclusion, but actively attack anyone who dares to criticize the field. Two examples: In 2013, ABFO leadership orchestrated an aggressive — and ultimately unsuccessful — plan to expel their own colleague, Dr. Michael Bowers, from membership within the American Academy of Forensic Sciences, which would have hamstrung Bowers from testifying against the practice in court. His crime: being a vocal critic of bite-mark “science.” In 2014, speaking at an ABFO dinner, Manhattan prosecutor Melissa Mourges, a strident supporter of bite-mark evidence, not only derided Mary Bush’s work, but also peppered her remarks with petty insults about Bush’s physical appearance.
Of course, as it is with hair analysis — and, really, any of the questionable forensic disciplines critiqued by the NAS — the utter lack of a scientific foundation has done nothing to keep bite-mark evidence out of the courtroom. To date, DNA has exonerated 24 individuals sent to prison on bite-mark evidence.2. Dexter lied to you about blood spatters. They sow chaos and confusion.
In the popular Showtime series Dexter, serial killer of serial killers Dexter Morgan has a day job with the Miami police, where he works as a blood-spatter analyst. The episodes show him expertly analyzing sprays of blood on walls or drops on floors, quickly — and reliably — arriving at a concrete theory of the crime that, more often than not, leads the PD’s homicide detectives to swift resolution.
If only it were that easy.
While there is some actual science involved in bloodstain-pattern analysis — knowledge of the physics of fluids is helpful, as is an understanding of the pathology of wounds — the sheer number of variables involved in the creation of any given bloodstain makes reaching any definitive conclusion about the circumstances of its origin difficult at best. “The uncertainties associated with bloodstain pattern analysis are enormous,” the NAS report concluded.
Yet for defendants, as with other forensic disciplines, the conclusions of a bloodstain “expert,” can mean the difference between living free or behind bars. The NAS report warns that while science supports “some aspects” of bloodstain-pattern analysis — whether blood “spattered quickly or slowly” for example — some experts “extrapolate far beyond what can be concluded.” This risk was powerfully demonstrated in the bizarre case of Warren Horinek, a former Fort Worth, Texas police officer who, based solely on the conclusions of a blood pattern expert, was convicted and sentenced to 30 years in prison for the 1995 murder of his wife — a death that the police, medical examiner, and prosecutor all concluded was actually suicide.
Horinek remains in prison.3. Worn shoes and tires can land you on death row, but there’s no evidence they’re unique
There are several problems with this type of evidence — not least of which is the fact that while the evidence found at a crime scene remains static, fixed in time, shoe and tire wear is continuous, meaning in part that unless you can immediately match a shoe or tire to a crime scene, the potential probative value of that evidence could quickly be irretrievably lost. But more concerning is that there is no science demonstrating that any particular marks are actually unique, nor are there any standards for how many unique characteristics it takes to declare a match between object and evidence. There is “no defined threshold that must be surpassed, nor are there any studies that associate the number of matching characteristics with the probability that the impressions were made by a common source,” reads the NAS report. “Experts in impression evidence will argue that they accumulate a sense of those probabilities through experience, which may be true. However it is difficult to avoid biases in experience-based judgments, especially in the absence of a feedback mechanism to correct an erroneous judgment.”
Indeed, spurious shoe print evidence offered by an FBI examiner helped to send Charles Irvin Fain to death row for the 1982 kidnapping, rape and murder of a 9-year-old girl in Idaho. According to the examiner, wear on Fain’s shoes matched wear patterns in shoe prints connected to the crime — and those wear patterns, the expert concluded, were created by a person with a particular gait. The perpetrator would “have to have the same characteristic walk as the individual who owned those shoes,” the expert testified.
DNA testing ultimately led to Fain’s release from prison in 2001 after spending 18 years on death row.4. No two fingerprints are alike? That is the question
Importantly, fingerprints collected from crime scenes are often only partial prints, distorted, smudged, or generally “noisy,” as one group of investigators, seeking to formulate error rates for fingerprint examination, wrote last year. And that’s where problems can happen: Consider the case of Brandon Mayfield, the Oregon lawyer who was falsely accused of participation in the 2004 Madrid, Spain train bombings based on a fingerprint collected from a bag containing detonation devices. The FBI later admitted it bungled the print match.
Fortunately, there are ongoing efforts underway within the discipline’s community of experts to validate forensic fingerprint examinations. Jennifer Mnookin, a UCLA law professor and lead investigator into fingerprint error rates, says that leaders in the field have begun to embrace the emerging “research culture” that the area is taking on. “At this point it’s not that the work is done,” she says. “It isn’t. But compared to bite marks…to handwriting [analysis], there is now a growing body of research looking at these questions [of validity and reliability] in a way that didn’t exist 10 to 15 years ago.”5. The FBI trained an army of local hair-analysis charlatans
Although it is certainly a good thing that the FBI agreed to undertake a review of the work of its hair examiners — and then to clearly and publicly declare the miserable results — there is a deeper and even more troubling truth about the hair analysis revelations: There are potentially tens of thousands of additional cases out there that will not necessarily ever be reviewed. That’s because the FBI examiners for 25 years provided training to hundreds of hair examiners across the country — training that included the demonstrably, scientifically-flawed language that has been exposed in the current, and ongoing FBI case review.
Whether all of the state cases will ever be identified let alone reviewed, remains to be seen.
For Timothy Bridges, the stakes couldn’t be much higher. Bridges was convicted and sentenced to life in prison for the beating and rape of an 83-year-old woman in Charlotte, NC, in the spring of 1989. The victim (who died of unrelated causes before Bridges trial), variously described her attacker and denied that she was raped. Ultimately, Bridges, who had wavy shoulder-length hair — which is how the victim once described her attacker — was charged with the crime. There was no DNA to connect Bridges to the crime and he was not a match for a bloody palm print found at the scene (that print was never matched to anyone). But there were two hairs collected that an FBI-trained examiner testified not only were “likely” Bridges, but also that there was a very low chance they could belong to anyone else: The “likelihood of two Caucasian individuals having indistinguishable head hair is very low,” expert Elinos Whitlock testified — the very sort of language unsupported by science and found in the faulty cases identified in the current FBI review.
Bridges appealed his conviction, arguing in part that there was no scientific basis to Whitlock’s testimony. In 1992, the state appeals court disagreed: “We find no reversible error,” the court ruled, concluding that testimony by a “properly qualified witness on hair identification” was admissible.
Bridges is currently seeking a new trial and the state is reportedly reviewing the matter.
The post Five Disturbing Things You Didn’t Know About Forensic “Science” appeared first on The Intercept.