Meldungen (Feeds)

Target of Contested National Security Letter Was a Muslim the FBI Wanted to Turn Informant

The Intercept - Engl. - sam, 30/07/2016 - 17:09

The target of a federal investigation that set off a more than decade-long battle over secret subpoenas called national security letters was a Muslim prison reform advocate the FBI wanted to become an informant.

Nick Merrill, who fought to make the information public, revealed that information for the first time at a hacker conference in New York City.

Merrill was the head of an Internet hosting company when the controversy began. He had launched a small New York-based internet service provider called Calyx Internet Access in the 1990s, and he also consulted on digital security.

In 2004, the FBI sent him a national security letter demanding extensive records on one of his customers.

National security letters are secret subpoenas the FBI can send to internet and technology companies to demand various types of records about their customers’ online behaviors without ever getting a court order. In Merrill’s case, that request was particularly broad — for browsing records, email address information, billing information, and more.

In response, Merrill launched a court battle challenging the constitutionality of the letter itself, and then, when the FBI withdrew it, to free himself from the gag order forbidding him from ever speaking about it.

Speaking during the Hackers of Planet Earth, or HOPE, conference last week, Merrill shared previously nonpublic information about the nearly 12 years he spent first trying to challenge the FBI’s request itself, and then trying to lift the gag order placed on him after the FBI withdrew it. He disclosed additional details to The Intercept following his talk.

Merrill told The Intercept that the target of the national security letter was someone whose website he was hosting. He said the target was Muslim, but gave no further details, to protect his identity. He did not explain why the FBI considered this a national security matter.

Merrill’s national security letter was issued before President George W. Bush’s Department of Justice told the FBI it didn’t have the power to ask for such extensive records without consulting a judge — though as The Intercept reported in June, it’s not clear the agency ever actually stopped asking for such records.

Merrill said that as far as he knows, the target of the FBI investigation was never charged with a crime and turned over his hard drives voluntarily. The man had trouble finding jobs and boarding airplanes during the investigation, according to Merrill’s presentation.

Merrill said he maintained contact with the man for the entire 12 years, walking on eggshells when it came to the case and what he could share. One time, he told The Intercept, the target even sent him a photo of something he found on the bottom of his car — a device Merrill says a friend told him was a military-grade tracker.

Very little description about the target is included in the court documents that are public. Merrill wouldn’t provide his name. Merrill said the man has refused every interview request in the past.

The case reflects how little is known about the actual uses of national security letters — either about the targets or what information the FBI has sought.

“Part of the problem is that NSLs are secret and since they almost never result in prosecution, targets almost never get notice (which means we never find out who gets targeted),” Robyn Greene, surveillance policy counsel for the Open Technology Institute, wrote in an email to The Intercept. The secret requests “historically have been used for bulk collection.”

The FBI has been criticized by the Department of Justice inspector general in multiple reports for not following the rules when it comes to filing national security letters — sending them in bulk and without any real evidence of a crime. The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court in 2006 rejected an FBI request to obtain records because it “implicated the target’s First Amendment rights” — but the FBI went ahead and asked for the information anyway using a national security letter. The criticism has since led to reform, but the real impact of any changes is still secret.

The FBI declined to comment on Merrill’s new revelations.

Top photo: FBI headquarters.

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The post Target of Contested National Security Letter Was a Muslim the FBI Wanted to Turn Informant appeared first on The Intercept.

Das Bayrische „Sicherheit durch Stärke“-Konzept

RIB/DAKS - sam, 30/07/2016 - 16:04

Foto Peter Kneffel/dpa

Das von der Bayrischen Landesregierung nach den Taten von Ansbach, Würzburg und München verabschiedete neue Sicherheitskonzept heißt „Sicherheit durch Stärke“. Die Bayerische Polizei dazu um insgesamt 2.000 Kräfte aufgestockt werden erhalte neue, modernste Ausrüstung: besondere  ballistische Helme, neuartige Schutzwesten und gepanzerte Fahrzeuge. Es sollen mehr Polizisten zum Kampf gegen Cyber-Kriminalität eingesetzt werden und es soll mehr Möglichkeiten für einen Einsatz der Bundeswehr im Innern geben. Darüber hinaus fordert die Staatsregierung eine Ausweitung der sogenannten Vorratsdatenspeicherung.

Exkurs: Vorratsdatenspeicherung

In einen ersten Versuch eine Vorratsdatenspeicherung per EU-Richtlinie im dem Jahr 2006 einzuführen wurden alle EU-Mitgliedsstaaten verpflichtet, solche Vorratsdatenspeicherungen einzuführen. In Deutschland trat ein entsprechendes Gesetz 2008 in Kraft. Das Bundesverfassungsgericht in Karlsruhe erklärte die deutschen Vorschriften zur Vorratsdatenspeicherung da die Regelung zur Vorratsdatenspeicherung gegen Art. 10 Abs. 1 Grundgesetz verstoße mit Urteil vom 2. März 2010 für verfassungswidrig und nichtig.[1]

Am 8. April 2014 erklärte auch der Europäische Gerichtshof die eingeführte EU-Richtlinie zur Vorratsdatenspeicherung für ungültig, da diese mit der Charta der Grundrechte der Europäischen Union nicht vereinbar sei.[2]

Hinsichtlich der Vorratsdatenspeicherung ist auf rechtliche Ebene also festzustellen das die Versuche in der Vergangenheit eine Nationale oder Europäische Lösung in dieser Sache zu erreichen nicht von Erfolg gekrönt waren.

Aber neben den juristischen Bedenken wegen der Verstöße gegen nationales- europäischem und Menschenrechten gibt es auch rein sachliche Gründe die gegen eine Vorratsdatenspeicherung sprechen.

Eine abschreckende Wirkung durch ein höheres Entdeckungsrisiko sei nicht nachweisbar und in Staaten wie beispielsweise Frankreich in denen eine Vorratsspeicherung erfolgt, nicht zu beobachten. Das Max-Planck-Institut für ausländisches und internationales Strafrecht hat im Jahr 2007 im Rahmen einer Untersuchung festgestellt das „[…] selbst unter den heutigen rechtlichen Bedingungen nur […] etwa 2 % der Abfragen […] wegen Löschungen ins Leere gehen.“ [3]

Das BKA stellte 2005 fest das 381 Straftaten vor allem aus den Bereichen Internetbetrug, Austausch von Kinderpornografie und Diebstahl erfasst waren, welche in den vergangenen Jahren wegen fehlender Telekommunikationsdaten nicht aufgeklärt werden konnten. Diesen 381 Fällen stehen jedoch jährlich insgesamt 6,4 Millionen Straftaten gegenüber, von denen laut Polizeilicher Kriminalstatistik Jahr für Jahr 2,8 Millionen unaufgeklärt bleiben. das würde eine Steigerung der Aufklärungsquote von 55% auf bestenfalls 55,006% bedeuten. [4] Auch ohne die Vorratsdatenspeicherung werden in den Fällen von Verbreitung Pornografischer Schriften via Internet 78,5/ der Fälle, bei Internetbetrug 86% der Fälle und bei Straftaten gegen die Urheberrechtsbestimmungen 85,5% der Fälle aufgeklärt [5]

Das Freiburger Max-Planck-Instituts für ausländisches und internationales Strafrecht, das vom deutschen Justizministerium in Auftrag gegeben wurde, kam zu dem Ergebnis, dass Vorratsdatenspeicherung keine Veränderungen in Aufklärungsraten verursacht.[6]

Auch der Nutzen der gespeicherten ist unverhältnismäßig gering. Die Speicherung von Verkehrsdaten ist vergangenheitsbezogen und kann daher praktisch nur der nachträglichen Aufklärung bereits begangener Straftaten dienen. Durch die Vorratsdatenspeicherung sind in der Vergangenheit keine Anschläge Vereitelt worden. weder die Anschläge am 11. September 2001 noch die Attentate in Großbritannien im Juli 2005 noch die geplanten Anschläge in deutschen Zügen 2006 sind durch die zu den zeiten Jeweils geltenden Vorschriften zur Vorratsdatenspeicherung in den betreffenden Ländern verhindert worden. Auch die Anschläge in Paris, Nizza und Rouen sind durch die Vorratsdatenspeicherung verhindert worden.

Alles in allem kann festgestellt werden das sich die Vorratsdatenspeicherung nicht als Instrument eignet um dem Terrorismus in Europa wirksam zu begegnen.

Exkurs Bundeswehr im Inneren

Die rechtlichen Regelungen für einen Bundeswehreinsatz im Inneren sind im Grundgesetz dargelegt. „Außer zur Verteidigung dürfen die Streitkräfte nur eingesetzt werden, soweit dieses Grundgesetz es ausdrücklich zulässt.“  lautet es in Art. 87a Absatz 2 GG. Diese Ausnahmen sind im Grundgesetz als Katastrophenhilfe gem. Art. 35 Abs. 2 Satz 2 und Abs. 3 und dem Inneren Notstand gem. Art. 87 a IV GG benannt.

Die Flüchtlingshilfe der Bundeswehr erfolgt derzeit als Amtshilfe nach Art. 35 Abs. 1 GG Amtshilfe stellt keinen Einsatz darf sondern leistet nur technische Unterstützung wie Hilfestellungen, Versorgung oder Transport. Da hierbei keine hoheitlichen Tätigkeiten vorgenommen werden ist diese Amtshilfe zulässig.

Aber beispielsweise Grenzsicherung, Verkehrskontrollen oder andere hoheitliche Aufgaben können angehörige der Bundeswehr nicht übernehmen. Dafür ist nach deutscher Rechtslage ausschließlich die Polizei des Bundes oder der Länder zuständig.

Die einzige Ausnahme wann die Bundeswehr z.B. zum Schutz ziviler Objekte eingesetzt werden darf ist wenn der Bestand der Bundesrepublik Deutschland unmittelbar gefährdet ist. Solange dies durch die Taten wie in Würzburg, Ansbach oder München nicht der Fall ist entfällt eine Grundlage zum Einsatz der Bundeswehr.

Ob im Rahmen eines Terroranschlags Katastrophenhilfe geleistet werden darf hat das Bundesverfassungsgericht im Jahr 2012 geregelt. Diese Katastrophenhilfe kommt nur dann in Betracht wenn nach einem Unglücksfall die Polizei nicht mehr alleine dazu in der Lage ist Sicherheit und Ordnung wiederherzustellen. Ein besonders schwerer Unglücksfall liege nur vor, bei einer „ungewöhnlichen Ausnahmesituation katastrophischen Ausmaßes“, stellt das Gericht fest. Ob sich Amok- und Terrorattacken darunter sachlich gerechtfertigt subsumieren lassen muss bezweifelt werden.

Exkurs Starker Staat und Terrorismus

Der Bayrische Ministerpräsident Horst Seehofer erklärte am Samstagmorgen „Wir müssen alles dafür tun, um unsere Sicherheit zu verteidigen. Ohne Sicherheit gibt es keine Freiheit.“ – dieser Satz erinnert an Benjamin Franklins Mahnung „Wer wesentliche Freiheit aufgeben kann um eine geringfügige bloß jeweilige Sicherheit zu bewirken, verdient weder Freiheit, noch Sicherheit.“[7]

Auch die Annahme das ein starker Staat dazu in der Lage sei den Terrorismus zu Verhindern ist inhaltlich schwer zu halten. Die Terrorattacken von Nizza und Rouen haben in Frankreich in einem Land das bereits aufgrund der Attentate von Paris den Notstand verhängt hat stattgefunden. Auch Großbritannien ist kein „schwacher Staat“ und dennoch haben dort in aller öffentlichkeit Terrorattacken stattgefunden. In Belgien feierte sich der IS dafür ein ganzes Land durch Notstandsgesetze dergestalt  gelähmt zu haben dass das öffentlich leben fast gänzlich zum erliegen kam.

Fazit

Das neue Sicherheitskonzept der bayrischen Landesregierung erscheint unter diesen Umständen eher als politisch motivierter Aktionismus als eine ausgewogene Reaktion.

[1] Az. 1 BvR 256/08, 1 BvR 263/08, 1 BvR 586/08

[2] Az. C‑293/12 und C‑594/12

[3] Rechtswirklichkeit der Auskunftserteilung über Telekommunikationsverbindungsdaten nach §§ 100 g, 100h StPO

[4] Bundeskriminalamt, Polizeiliche Kriminalstatistik 2006 S. 63. 243

[5] Bundeskriminalamt, Polizeiliche Kriminalstatistik 2006 S. 243

[6] http://www.spiegel.de/netzwelt/netzpolitik/ueberwachung-studie-stellt-sinn-von-vorratsdaten-in-frage-a-811675.html Abgerufen am 30.07.2016, 15:06 Uhr

[7] Dr. Benjamin Franklin’s nachgelassene Schriften und Correspondenz […], Band 3, Bejamin Franklin und Adolf Wagner, Weimar 1818

 

New Documentary Pierces the Psychology of Modern Suicide Bombers

The Intercept - Engl. - sam, 30/07/2016 - 13:00

In a scene from Norwegian journalist Paul Refsdal’s new documentary Dugma: The Button, Abu Qaswara, a would-be suicide bomber, describes the sense of exhilaration he felt during an aborted suicide attack against a Syrian army checkpoint. “These were the happiest [moments] I’ve had in 32 years. If anyone had felt exactly what I felt at that moment, Muslims would want to go through the same feeling and non-Muslims would convert just to experience it,” he enthuses to the camera, visibly elated by his attempted self-immolation.

Abu Qaswara’s attack failed after his vehicle was blocked by obstacles on the road placed by the Syrian military. But speaking shortly after he returned from his mission, it was clear that his brush with death had filled him with euphoria. “It was a feeling more than you can imagine,” he says. “Something I cannot describe, it cannot be described.”

Dugma follows the lives of several volunteers fighting with Jabhat al-Nusra, al Qaeda’s former affiliate organization in Syria. Refsdal, who previously produced a film while embedded with the Afghan Taliban, spent six weeks living with al-Nusra fighters in Syria. The men profiled are not Syrians, but volunteers from abroad. Abu Qaswara is a Saudi citizen who traveled to fight in Syria, while another character in the film, Abu Basir al-Britani, is a British-born convert to Islam. Raised in London, Abu Basir came to public attention last year when British reporters discovered that he had formerly been an amateur rock musician named Lucas Kinney in a band called Hannah’s Got Herpes.

The film profiles Abu Qaswara and Abu Basir as they prepare for their respective missions. The men have been approved by al-Nusra leadership to be placed on “the list,” a roster of individuals cleared to conduct suicide attacks. As one al-Nusra religious leader counsels Abu Qaswara, “[This] is about a human life, the most precious thing you have.” Adding, “A person would not sacrifice himself for tons of money, but as you can see, the young men compete over martyrdom operations.”

The lives of the volunteers leading up to their suicide missions are remarkably quotidian. Abu Qaswara meets friends at a fried chicken restaurant, talks on the phone to his family in Saudi Arabia, and beams while watching videos of his young daughter on his laptop. Abu Basir reads the news, picks flowers, and sarcastically jokes with friends about American foreign policy. Describing his own path to joining al-Nusra, he tells Refsdal that while growing up in Britain, “I saw myself as a little different to the people around me. I questioned a lot more.”

Only the few Syrians who appear in the film speak at length about their grievances over the crimes of the Syrian government. In contrast, the foreign volunteers appear largely driven by personal motivations. Liberating the local people from oppression appears at best a secondary concern. Perishing in the conflict and reaping the existential rewards of such an end takes precedence. Both Abu Qaswara and Abu Basir gave up comfortable lives to come to Syria, knowing that certain death would be the outcome of that decision. But rather than deterring them, the prospect of a rewarding death was a primary factor motivating their decision to fight.

This impulse toward self-destruction is actually seen as selfish by some fellow insurgents. In his co-authored 2014 memoir The Arabs at War in Afghanistan, Mustafa Hamid, a former high-ranking Egyptian volunteer with the Afghan mujahideen in the 1980s, described his own frustration with many of the later waves of volunteers arriving to that conflict. “One of the negatives that emerged from the jihad, and which continues to have severe consequences today, was the tendency for the youth to focus not on success and achieving victory and liberating Afghanistan, but on their desire for martyrdom and to enter paradise,” Hamid wrote. This overriding preoccupation with becoming a martyr meant that participation in the conflict, “became individual instead of for the benefit of the group or the country where the fight for liberation is taking place.”

Tracing how the contemporary practice of jihad deviated from his own ideal of defending the rights of oppressed populations, Hamid lamented that “this desire for martyrdom and the rise of a sentiment that nothing matters in war except for retaliation has come to result in suicide operations against civilian targets.” This has in turn bred a callous attitude toward violence that “has reached the level of bragging in front of the camera while carrying out horrific violent acts.”

Abu Qaswara, right, seeking advice about his coming “martyrdom operation” from a Jabhat al-Nusra leader.

The degeneration of mass movements over time that Hamid lamented has been widely documented in other contexts by political scientists. Although the Islamic State militant group is considered to be the most depraved purveyor of violent jihadism today, it is not hard to glimpse the same sense of heedless fanaticism among Jabhat al-Nusra’s foreign recruits. Despite volunteering to join a civil war, they evince little altruism. In their zeal to die, they manage to transform what in theory is the ultimate act of self-sacrifice — giving one’s life for a cause — into a profoundly selfish act. The distance between this nihilistic attitude and the ad hoc internationalism of Mustafa Hamid, or even the illiberal utopianism of Muslim Brotherhood ideologue Sayyid Qutb, is difficult to overstate.

Suicide bombing has become a common feature of the current age of terrorism and state collapse. As a tactic of war, it was initially pioneered not by Islamists, but by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, a Marxist-Leninist separatist group fighting a civil war against the Sri Lankan government. But after being adopted by Middle Eastern militants in the late 1980s and early 1990s (including by several leftist groups), the tactic has since become synonymous in the public imagination with Muslim extremism.

When Abu Qaswara seeks out advice about his coming martyrdom, the al-Nusra leader he speaks with tells him to reflect on his intentions to ensure that he is not simply attempting to “escape from life.” Although the act of suicide has for centuries been considered impermissible by Muslim religious tenets, it was given an aura of ambiguity in modern times after being defended by unscrupulous religious authorities during the Palestinian armed resistance against Israeli occupation. That initial, tacit legitimation of suicide bombing has since contributed to the spread and institutionalization of this tactic by terrorists and insurgent groups around the world.

Belated efforts to put the genie back in the bottle have proven difficult.

Though beautifully made, in many ways Dugma is a difficult film to watch. The characters methodically prepare for death, but at the same time, evince profound love and concern for the wives and children they will leave behind. The ideological circumlocutions they use to justify their impending suicides are often infuriating.

Toward the end of the film, some of the would-be suicide bombers begin expressing reservations about their decision. After learning that his wife is pregnant, Abu Basir al-Britani begins to grapple with the magnitude of his decision to give up his own life. “If I go to a battle and get killed, that’s one thing,” he says, pausing to reflect. “But if I take the conscious decision to go and press the button — if I have a wife and children, they will not forgive me for this.”

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The post New Documentary Pierces the Psychology of Modern Suicide Bombers appeared first on The Intercept.

“The Two-Party System Is the Worst Case Scenario” – An Interview With the Green Party’s Jill Stein

The Intercept - Engl. - ven, 29/07/2016 - 21:39

As the Democratic convention in Philadelphia progressed, and hopes of a revolution on the floor quickly faded for the thousands of Bernie Sanders supporters, support for another figure began to emerge on the streets: Green Party candidate Jill Stein. By the end of the week, Vote Jill signs where everywhere in the city, her name often scribbled directly over old Sanders posters and T-shirts. Bernie’s revolution had taken an unexpected turn, and as more protesters and delegates called for a “Demexit,” talk of a third-party option suddenly gained ground at a major party convention. On Thursday, as Clinton prepared to accept her party’s nomination, The Intercept spoke with Stein at an improvised South Philly campaign headquarters.

I have heard from you and from many of your supporters that we shouldn’t vote for the lesser evil, that we should vote for the greater good. Is the prospect of a Trump presidency equal in your view to that of a Clinton one?

I think they both lead to the same place. The lesser evil, the Democrats, certainly have a better public relations campaign, they have better spin. The dangers are less evident but they’re catastrophic as well. Just look at the policies under Obama on climate change.

Come November, is there a worst-case scenario?

No, the two-party system is the worst case scenario. In my view the worst horror of all is a political system that tells us we have to choose between two lethal options, and that’s what we have to fight and we shouldn’t be manipulated into thinking it’s one or the other of these villains out there, one or the other evil.

There’s a readily available solution right now: ranked-choice voting, which would take the fear out of voting and would ensure that people can vote for their values as their first choice, and their pragmatic choice, whatever that is, as their number two. That would actually enable us to move forward in a good way and bring our values back to democracy.

You cannot have a democracy in a moral vacuum. When there’s a moral vacuum it allows the predatory political actors to swoop in and take control. 

One of the main criticisms of your campaign is that the “moral choice” is a privilege that those who have the most to lose out of a Trump presidency can’t afford. Poor people, people of color, immigrants, people who need a higher minimum wage, health care access, immigration reform.

I think that’s really subject to debate. Because who is it that ushered in the agenda of globalization, of rigged trade agreements, of Wall Street deregulation? This was the Clintons. This is the core of Clintonism. That’s what’s creating the rightwing extremism.

In fact, the lesser evil inevitably leads to the greater evil in the same way that Barack Obama lost both houses of Congress. He had two years with two Democratic houses of Congress – they could have passed any law that they wanted. They could have provided health care as a human right, they could have pulled back on these wars for oil and the war against terror, and the assault on immigrants, and assault on the press and our freedom of speech and privacy.  They could have done any of that. And what did they do? They bailed out Wall Street and installed Larry Summers, the architect of Wall Street deregulation. They’re not on our side.

But in practice, if Trump wins, what happens to the Fight for $15, what happens to Planned Parenthood, what happens to health reform and immigration reform? Wouldn’t there be a difference between a Trump presidency and a Clinton one?

Maybe around the margins. We would have the Affordable Care Act, instead of some other privatized option. The Affordable Care Act is not a solution, it’s quite a problem. It provides some care for all, there was a Medicaid expansion but that Medicaid expansion has been stopped, and it made health care more expensive and more out of reach.

If you were to actually win an election wouldn’t the extreme right panic and radicalize even more?

I don’t think so at all. I don’t think the resistance is there because we are progressive, the resistance is there because neoliberalism is not progressive. Neoliberalism has caused an incredible crisis of austerity, a crisis of jobs, of labor rights, health care, student debt, and the rest of it. I think this is what’s driving the crisis.

Let’s go back to Bernie Sanders for a moment. Why do you think he has chosen to throw his support behind Clinton, and is now trying to get his supporters to do the same?  

I think his paradigm is obsolete. He’s grown up with the concept of the Democratic Party as the New Deal party. I think his experience in Vermont was that as independent third party you couldn’t move forward. But I think we are in a different era right now. The American public has moved and has repudiated these two political parties, and we have the internet and we have the capacity to self-mobilize. Sanders is anchored in a different paradigm. He hasn’t been part of the social movements on the streets over the last 10 to 15 years, he’s been in Washington D.C. surrounded by Democrats, and it’s just a different mindset.

Do you think there’s any value in the way Sanders has shaped the Democratic platform to include many of his more progressive policies?

The platform is notably meaningless and nonbinding. And they couldn’t even pretend to stop fracking, they couldn’t pretend to stand up for Palestinian human rights, they couldn’t pretend to support health care as a human right. They gave some lip service to breaking up the banks and they couldn’t pretend to oppose the Trans-Pacific Partnership when even their candidate is pretending to oppose it. This is not meaningful progress, this is how they sabotaged a breakaway movement. This is what the Democratic Party has been doing ever since George McGovern won the nomination in 1972.

Have you spoken with Bernie Sanders?

No. I’ve tried. He has not been interested. Never returned a phone call or answered an email. It’s pretty clear where he stands.

Would you have supported Sanders if he had become the Democratic nominee?

In my view, inside the Democratic Party it won’t happen, it’s not going to happen. He would have been hijacked one way or another, his hands would have been tied. And we still need opposition politics and we need a voting system that allows us to have political opposition. If we don’t have political opposition in this country, it doesn’t matter what else we do: we are heading to tyranny, we are heading to fascism, and we’re heading to climate meltdown and nuclear confrontation.

You said before that President Obama came into office with an incredible public mandate, and yet he had an incredibly hard time getting anything through Congress. If you were to win the election, would you be able to get any legislation past them?

Because he didn’t want to. He didn’t try. He put his ground troops on the shelf.  The myth is out there that the Republicans stopped him. He had two Democratic houses of Congress, he could have done something. He didn’t.  What he did was make George Bush’s tax cuts for the rich permanent and he gave Wall Street the biggest bailout on record, that’s what he did.

You think Congress wouldn’t stop you?

No, because we won’t put our ground troops on the shelf. That’s what Barack Obama did. When he got into office he took his ground troops out of commission. That’s what enabled him to win the primary, because he had such an active grassroots movement. He dismantled that grassroots movement at the same time he was appointing Larry Summers and it became perfectly clear what his agenda was.

On the streets, one of the most pressing issues I see is the question of racial justice. What would you do, specifically, to address police violence and police racism?

It’s not rocket science, it’s obvious things. We need civilian review boards, with the power to subpoena, we need to have the power to hire and fire police commissioners, in particular. We need to have full-time investigators so that it doesn’t take a miracle and the Department of Justice in Washington to get an investigation. Every death at the hands of police should be routinely investigated. And we call for a truth and reconciliation commission, along with reparations. We need a national facilitated discussion to actually drag out of the shadows the living legacy of the institution of slavery. That legacy has not gone away.

Here in Philadelphia I have seen large support in the streets for your campaign, particularly from former Sanders supporters. Are you starting to receive support from any elected officials?

Yes. We’re at the point where it’s still the very principled people. There’s not a bandwagon effect yet, but there is an opening. And certainly with Bernie supporters the floodgates have opened, and they are here lock, stock, and barrel, and it’s been really wonderful.

Did you see this coming?

No, totally not. I have not gotten my head around what’s happening at all. I don’t know if you have been to any of the events we have had this week. We haven’t even had time to process it among ourselves and I’m wondering, ‘Am I’m experiencing what it looks like out there, or is this just my subjective experience?’ I’m in the middle of an ocean of people, it’s hard to understand except in metaphysical terms that there’s like this energy vortex.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

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The post “The Two-Party System Is the Worst Case Scenario” – An Interview With the Green Party’s Jill Stein appeared first on The Intercept.

Federal Judge Rips Uber Apart Over Dirt-Digging Investigation

The Intercept - Engl. - ven, 29/07/2016 - 21:15

In December of last year, Yale environmental researcher Spencer Meyer filed suit against Uber, alleging price fixing by Uber’s drivers and founder in violation of federal antitrust law. Hardly the first person to accuse Uber of corporate malfeasance, Meyer nonetheless became the target of private investigators, working for a security company hired by Uber, who attempted to dig up derogatory information — an act the district judge hearing the case, Jed Rakoff, has now, in a 31-page order, called “blatantly fraudulent and arguably criminal.”

Emails turned over by Uber on the judge’s instructions and summarized in the order show that, on the day Meyer filed suit, Uber counsel Salle Yoo contacted the company’s chief security officer, asking “could we find out a little more about this plaintiff?”

Uber investigations chief Mat Henley then selected a New York-based private investigative firm called Ergo, also known as Global Precision Research, and began working with one of its executives, Todd Egeland, Henley said in a sworn deposition. Egeland’s online bios state openly that he is a 28-year veteran of the CIA with experience in counterintelligence and cyberthreats.

From the very start, the Uber-Ergo deal was set up to avoid potential scrutiny: Court-obtained documents reveal that both parties used Wickr, a self-deleting messaging app, and encrypted email “to avoid potential discovery issues,” although, as seen in the email message below, from Henley to two Ergo executives, including Egeland, some of the material was eventually discovered.


Ergo, according to Rakoff’s order, tasked an agent named Miguel Santos-Neves, who began contacting Meyer’s friends and colleagues in the hopes he might find negative information. Throughout this work, Santos-Neves operated under the guise that he was working on a “profile [of] up and coming people in environmental conservation.” Santos-Neves conversations included queries regarding “any personal issues that might affect [Meyer’s] professional reputation,” and if he had ever “butted heads with the law in any way.”  Furthermore, the calls were recorded without consent.

And although Ergo’s findings were ultimately pretty tame (see here), Uber’s use of a personal investigation designed to  discredit a plaintiff is undeniably chilling.

In hits ruling, Judge Rakoff described the investigation as a “dismal incident”:

“It is a sad day when, in response to the filing of a commercial lawsuit, a corporate defendant feels compelled to hire unlicensed private investigators to conduct secret personal background investigations of both the plaintiff and his counsel. It is sadder yet when these investigators flagrantly lie to friends and acquaintances of the plaintiff and his counsel in an (ultimately unsuccessful) attempt to obtain derogatory information about them.”

Rakoff goes on to highlight a litany of irresponsible and “arguably criminal” acts on the part of Ergo and Uber:

Moreover, if Ergo’s misrepresentations to sources were not sufficient evidence of the applicability of the crime-fraud exception, two additional features of Ergo’s conduct highlight their conduct’s impropriety. First, although Ergo was located in New York, Ergo, as previously noted, did not possess a private investigator’s license to engage in its investigative activities, as required by New York law…Violation of this licensing provision may itself be prosecuted as a criminal misdemeanor. See id. Ergo seeks to explain this violation as, variously, an “oversight of a small company with limited resources,”…or as a product of Ergo’s understanding that its work did not “fit the traditional plain meaning of private  investigation work in New York,”…But if concocting fictitious stories to induce acquaintances of a client’s litigation adversary to shed light on the adversary’s employment, finances, family life, and motivation for bringing a lawsuit does not constitute private investigation work, then the Court does not know what would.

Rakoff notes that “Uber lawyers were required by New York’s Rules of Professional Conduct to adequately supervise the Ergo non-lawyers that Uber hired to do work,” and adds that “the Court cannot help but be troubled by this whole dismal incident,” because “potential plaintiffs and their counsel need to know that they can sue companies they perceive to be violating the law without having lies told to their friends and colleagues so that their litigation adversaries can identify ‘derogatories.'” The letter concludes by denying Uber permission to use any of the materials it compiled against Meyer in its defense against his original suit.

Neither Uber nor Ergo returned a request for comment.

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Intelligence Chief Suffers Intelligence Failure Over His Own Team’s Willingness to Brief Donald Trump

The Intercept - Engl. - ven, 29/07/2016 - 21:12

The country’s top intelligence official, James Clapper, insisted on Thursday that there has been no hesitation within the intelligence community when it comes to giving classified briefings to the presidential candidates, including Donald Trump.

“Is there any hesitation in the intel community to brief either of these candidates?” CNN’s Jim Sciutto asked the director of National Intelligence at the Aspen Security Forum, eliciting laughter from the audience.

“No there isn’t,” Clapper said, going on to describe the briefing as a nonpartisan tradition. “We’ve got a team all prepared,” he said.

But several news reports over the past several months have indicated there was dissension in the ranks when it comes to telling Trump secrets — culminating in a Washington Post story Thursday night that quoted a senior intelligence official saying, “I would refuse.”

All of which raises the question: How good can Clapper be at ferreting out secrets from foreign adversaries if he doesn’t even know what his own staff is thinking?

Then again, he could just have been lying. He’s done it before.

In June, Reuters reported that eight senior security officials were worried about Trump having access to classified information.

“People are very nervous,” one senior U.S. security official told Reuters, speaking under the condition of anonymity. “We’ve never had a situation like this before. Ever.”

In March, former CIA analyst Aki Peritz raised concerns in a column in The Guardian:

If Trump were the nominee, a man famously without filter will be privy to national secrets — and compartmentalizing his thoughts from his public utterances has never been one of his strengths. He has tweeted random, and sometimes untrue, items he read on the internet; he’s trumpeted false crime statistics; he’s even been fine with quoting Benito Mussolini. So far, he’s been able to get away with much of it by disavowing responsibility afterward.

Others members of the intelligence community called out Trump for his unpredictable style.

“My concern with Trump will be that he inadvertently leaks, because as he speaks extemporaneously, he’ll pull something out of his hat that he heard in a briefing and say it,” one former senior U.S. intelligence official told the Daily Beast.

And former Deputy CIA Director John McLaughlin told Mother Jones that briefing Trump may just be a challenge: “As an intelligence briefer, you’d probably be telling him a fair number of things that are at odds with his stated views,” he said. “And then you would find out how well he absorbs discordant information. … Trump’s public statements don’t suggest that he’s someone who easily deals with things that strongly disagree with his view.”

Both candidates are expected to receive intelligence briefings as soon as next week. “There’s a long tradition that the intelligence community at the appropriate time — and now is the appropriate time, since both candidates have been officially anointed — that both campaigns will be — both camps will be reached out to and offered briefings,” Clapper said Thursday.

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Hillary Clinton Will Be Good for Business, Predicts Chamber of Commerce Lobbyist

The Intercept - Engl. - ven, 29/07/2016 - 19:58

When Jennifer Pierotti Lim strode up to the podium on the final day of the Democratic National Convention, she was identified as the co-founder of Republican Women for Hillary, a group of conservative activists supporting Hillary Clinton.

Lim focused her brief comments on Donald Trump’s history of sexist comments, telling the audience that “Trump’s loathsome comments about women and our appearances are too many to list and too crass to repeat.”

But what was even more significant is her day job as a top lobbyist for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce; she’s the Chamber’s director of health policy.

It was the latest indication that the U.S. big-business community may be preparing to back Hillary Clinton, which would be a truly tectonic shift.

Although the Chamber may present itself as the champion of small businesses, it essentially functions as a money laundry for the world’s largest multi-national corporations, who want to keep their political activity at arm’s length.

The Chamber’s $85 million lobbying budget in 2015 dwarfs all others in D.C., and that doesn’t include the over $35 million it spent on political ads in both the 2012 and 2014 election cycles.

That money has almost always gone directly into supporting Republicans and trying to unseat Democrats.

In an interview with The Intercept after her remarks Thursday night, Lim said she could not speak for her colleagues at the Chamber, but said she hears from a lot of Republicans who increasingly support Clinton on account of her pro-corporate policies.

“I think [Clinton] is going to be a moderate policy maker, especially for the general election. She’s clearly going back towards the middle,” said Lim. “She wants to reduce the red tape and regulation on America’s small businesses, and I think that’s a starting point for a lot of Republicans.”

It also may not be a coincidence that, as CNN reported in early July, her husband Tim Lim has worked for the Clinton campaign and is a partner at Bully Pulpit Interactive, which has a multimillion-dollar contract with the Clinton campaign.

Nevertheless, Jennifer Lim’s comments coincide with increasing evidence that the lobbying group is warming up to Clinton.

Earlier this month, Chamber President Tom Donohue told Fox Business News that he was undecided between the two major party’s candidates. Donohue criticized Trump for his opposition to pro-corporate trade deals, like the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), and North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

When The Intercept asked Lim if she thought Clinton would support the TPP, she said that was likely. “That’s a great question. I know that she has changed her position a little bit recently on it,” Lim said, “but I think that she will go back towards the middle on TPP.”

As secretary of state, Clinton called the TPP “the gold standard in trade agreements,” but then avoided taking a firm position during her primary campaign against Sen. Bernie Sanders, whose opposition to the agreement resonated with working class voters.

After negotiations for the treaty ended in October, Clinton told PBS that the TPP would not meet “the high bar I have set,” leaving open the possibility that she might support the agreement if something changed.

People close to Clinton have doubted her commitment to opposition. Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe, a close ally of Clinton, told Politico Tuesday that he expected her to change her position on the agreement after the election. Clinton’s campaign quickly denied McAuliffe’s comments, and McAuliffe told Gawker early Friday morning that Clinton had “never supported it and never would.”

Chamber head Tom Donohue has also predicted that Clinton would support the TPP after the election.

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Erdogans wirtschaftspolitisches Scheitern

Hintergrund.de - ven, 29/07/2016 - 17:52

Der Boom der Türkei war ebenso auf Sand gebaut wie die Entwicklung vieler anderer Schwellenländer. Daran kann auch Präsident Erdogan nichts ändern –

Von NICOLAI HAGEDORN, 29. Juli 2016 -

Zuletzt knöpfte sich der türkische Staatspräsident Erdogan die US-amerikanische Ratingagentur Standard Poor´s vor: „Wir sind doch gar nicht dein Mitglied, was geht es dich an, wer bist du denn?“, fragte er bei einer Rede im türkischen Parlament und zeigte damit neben einem sehr fragwürdigen Verständnis von Arbeit und Struktur einer Ratingagentur auch erste Anzeichen von Verzweiflung. S&P hatte die Türkei zuvor

Weiterlesen...

In the Hillary Clinton Era, Democrats Welcome Lobbying Money Back Into the Convention

The Intercept - Engl. - ven, 29/07/2016 - 16:56

 

By quietly dropping a ban on direct donations from registered federal lobbyists and political action committees, the Democratic National Committee in February reopened the floodgates for corruption that Barack Obama had put in place in 2008.

Secret donors with major public-policy agendas were welcomed back in from the cold and showered with access and appreciation at the Democratic convention in Philadelphia.

Major donors were offered “Family and Friends” packages, including suites at the Ritz-Carlton, backstage passes, and even seats in the Clinton family box. Corporate lobbyists like Heather Podesta celebrated the change, telling Time: “My money is now good.”

What was going on inside the convention hall was also reflected outside, at costly events sponsored by the  fossil fuel industrytechnology companiesfor-profit collegespharmaceutical companies, and railway companies, to name a few.

Craig Holman, an elections financing expert at Public Citizen, said that the end of the lobbyist contribution ban as well as Congress’s 2014 termination of all remaining public financing of the party conventions has served to undermine democracy. “The implications of these changes are that we have opened up access to the parties and the conventions to just the very, very wealthy,” he said.

He pointed out that Congress originally passed the law to publicly finance presidential conventions after a 1972 scandal where President Richard Nixon terminated an anti-trust investigation eight days after the telecommunications company ITT donated heavily to that year’s Republican convention.

For the more than 1,900 Bernie Sanders delegates at the convention, the dependence on high-roller lobbyists was particularly galling. Sanders’s campaign was built on a simple promise: he would shun big-ticket fundraisers and corporate lobbyists in favor of a legion of small donors. And it worked. By the end of April 2016, Sanders’s campaign was actually raising more money than Clinton’s, which was welcoming support from corporate lobbyists and bundlers.

But an overwhelming majority of Democratic lawmakers we spoke to at the convention didn’t seem troubled by the rule change at all.

At a posh event hosted by The Atlantic and paid for by the American Petroleum Institute oil lobby, Rep. Henry Cuellar, D-Texas, shrugged off concerns about the influence of special interest groups.

“I don’t know, you’ll have to ask the DNC on that,” he said in response to a question whether lifting the ban was the right move.

“Do you think that lobbyists have undue influence?” we followed up.

“I don’t know.”

“What about energy lobbyists? What about oil lobbyists?”

“What about ’em?”

“Do you think they have undue influence in the United States?”

“I think they’re just like teachers, like firemen, like everybody who contributes.”

“What about the Koch Brothers, who spent $400 million on an election?”

“You’ve gotta go talk to the Koch Brothers,” he replied, ending the conversation.

Democratic Rep. Hank Johnson of Georgia offered a Willie Sutton justification for lifting the lobbying ban. “The lobbyists, that’s where the money is,” he said.

Former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley made attacks on special interests a cornerstone of his short-lived Democratic presidential primary campaign — decrying Hillary Clinton’s “cozy relationship with Wall Street.” Just a few short months later, his concern about moneyed interests influencing the Democratic Party seem to have evaporated.

“I’m really kind of agnostic on it,” he said. “I really don’t care one way or another.”

Rep. Elijah Cummings of Maryland ducked the question. “It’s above my paygrade,” he quipped.

Missouri Rep. Emanuel Cleaver said he would never have banned lobbyists like Obama did in the first place. “I wouldn’t have done it,” he said. “It’s not a matter of wrong or right. It’s a matter of making sure we have the resources to put on a convention.”

Former Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell, the chair of the DNC’s Host Committee, has refused to disclose donors to that committee until 60 days after the convention.

In an interview with The Intercept, Rendell insisted there was nothing wrong with keeping the committee’s donors secret until just a few weeks before the election, and he downplayed the influence of big donors. “I never made one decision where I was influenced by a campaign contribution,” he said.

“So why are lobbyists giving money to the DNC now again,” we asked. “Are they doing it just because they have extra money to give?”

“They want access,” he acknowledged.

Rep. Sander Levin of Michigan avoided the question. “At this point I want to focus on the basic issues. I’m in favor of getting money more and more out of politics,” he said. When we followed up by asking whether lobbyists should be able to fundraise for the DNC, he walked away.

House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi of California stopped to talk to us, but after hearing the subject, briskly walked away as a fleet of staffers blocked off access to her.

A staffer for Rep. Adam Schiff of Washington asked the subject of our interview question. She then informed her boss, who told her, “I don’t want to talk about that.”

Sen. Chris Murphy of Connecticut said he was unconcerned with the policy shift. “Unfortunately, we’re in a world today where we have to raise private money,” he said. “I don’t get too concerned about who and what groups you take money from. It’s up to you.”

There were, however, a few dissenters to the new policy.

Rep. Jim McGovern of Massachusetts said he favored the Obama-era ban. “I think the president had it right,” he told us.

When informed of the new policy, Rep. Jerry McErney of California was blunt. “Yeah, that’s probably a bad idea,” he said.

Sen. Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin said she wanted to see a return to of the ban. “That would be something that I would encourage,” she said.

Rep. Rosa DeLauro of Connecticut also objected to the change. “I think they should not have done that,” she said.

When informed that lobbyists could give six figures to the DNC, former Iowa Democratic Sen. Tom Harkin was taken aback.

“That’s wrong,” he said.

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A Famed Hacker Is Grading Thousands of Programs — and May Revolutionize Software in the Process

The Intercept - Engl. - ven, 29/07/2016 - 16:00

At the Black Hat cybersecurity conference in 2014, industry luminary Dan Geer, fed up with the prevalence of vulnerabilities in digital code, made a modest proposal: Software companies should either make their products open source so buyers can see what they’re getting and tweak what they don’t like, or suffer the consequences if their software failed. He likened it to the ancient Code of Hammurabi, which says that if a builder poorly constructs a house and the house collapses and kills its owner, the builder should be put to death.

No one is suggesting putting sloppy programmers to death, but holding software companies liable for defective programs, and nullifying licensing clauses that have effectively disclaimed such liability, may make sense, given the increasing prevalence of online breaches.

The only problem with Geer’s scheme is that no formal metrics existed in 2014 for assessing the security of software or distinguishing between code that is merely bad and code that is negligently bad. Now, that may change, thanks to a new venture from another cybersecurity legend, Peiter Zatko, known more commonly by his hacker handle “Mudge.”

Mudge and his wife, Sarah, a former NSA mathematician, have developed a first-of-its-kind method for testing and scoring the security of software — a method inspired partly by Underwriters Laboratories, that century-old entity responsible for the familiar circled UL seal that tells you your toaster and hair dryer have been tested for safety and won’t burst into flames.

Called the Cyber Independent Testing Lab, the Zatkos’ operation won’t tell you if your software is literally incendiary, but it will give you a way to comparison-shop browsers, applications, and antivirus products according to how hardened they are against attack. It may also push software makers to improve their code to avoid a low score and remain competitive.

“There are applications out there that really do demonstrate good [security] hygiene … and the vast majority are somewhere else on the continuum from moderate to atrocious,” Peiter Zatko says. “But the nice thing is that now you can actually see where the software package lives on that continuum.”

Joshua Corman, founder of I Am the Cavalry, a group aimed at improving the security of software in critical devices like cars and medical devices, and head of the Cyber Statecraft Initiative for the Atlantic Council, says the public is in sore need of data that can help people assess the security of software products.

“Markets do well when an informed buyer can make an informed risk decision, and right now there is incredibly scant transparency in the buyer’s realm,” he says.

Corman cautions, however, that the Zatkos’ system is not comprehensive, and although it will provide one indicator of security risk, it’s not a conclusive indicator. He also says vendors are going to hate it.

“I have scars to show how much the software industry resists scrutiny,” he says.

Photo: Cole C Wilson

Software Seal of Approval

When Mudge announced on Twitter last year that the White House had asked him to create a cyber version of Underwriters Laboratories, praise poured in from around the security community.

No one knew the details, but people were confident if he was involved, it would be great.

“Excellent! Something everyone has talked about for decades!” the Def Con hacker conference tweeted after his announcement.

“That’s a concept that really could make a difference if executed well,” wrote Bruce Potter, founder of the Shmoo Group crypto-security collective, which runs the annual Shmoocon security conference

Mudge has been tightlipped about the nature of the cyber UL ever since, but he agreed to discuss the details in advance of a talk he’s presenting next week at the Black Hat conference in Las Vegas.

“To use the car analogy, does it have seatbelts, does it have air bags, does it have anti-lock brakes?” — Peiter Zatko

He says the method their lab uses to evaluate software is based on one he taught NSA hackers in the 1990s about how to find the softest targets on an adversary’s network. (During his run back then with the famed hacker think tank L0pht Heavy Industries, Mudge and his L0pht colleagues regularly provided advice to various parts of the government.)

The technique involves, in part, analyzing binary software files using algorithms created by Sarah to measure the security hygiene of code. During this sort of examination, known as “static analysis” because it involves looking at code without executing it, the lab is not looking for specific vulnerabilities, but rather for signs that developers employed defensive coding methods to build armor into their code.

“To use the car analogy, does it have seatbelts, does it have air bags, does it have anti-lock brakes? All the things that are going to make [a hacker’s] life more difficult,” Mudge says.

The Zatkos say a code’s security hygiene, measured by the programming methods developers use, as well as by the tools and settings used to compile the resulting software, are good predictors of whether a software application will have serious security vulnerabilities and reliability issues.

Their algorithms run through a checklist of more than 300 items, such as whether the compiler used to convert the source code into binary inserted common protective features, like preventing portions of memory reserved for program data — the “stack” and “heap” — from being used to hold additional software.

“Things like ASLR [address space layout randomization] and having a nonexecutable stack and heap and stuff like that, those are all determined by how you compiled [the source code],” says Sarah. “Those are the technologies that are really the equivalent of airbags or anti-lock brakes [in cars]. They’re the things that make software better than it used to be.”

Modern compilers of Linux and OS X not only add protective features, they automatically swap out bad functions in code with safer equivalent ones when available. Yet some companies still use old compilers that lack security features.

The lab’s initial research has found that Microsoft’s Office suite for OS X, for example, is missing fundamental security settings because the company is using a decade-old development environment to build it, despite using a modern and secure one to build its own operating system, Mudge says. Industrial control system software, used in critical infrastructure environments like power plants and water treatment facilities, is also primarily compiled on “ancient compilers” that either don’t have modern protective measures or don’t have them turned on by default.

Asked about the findings, a Microsoft spokesperson would only say, “We are focused on security as a core component in the software development process. We developed and are committed to the Security Development Lifecycle, and continue to lead the industry in creating the most secure products across all platforms.”

The Zatkos’ algorithms also assess the number of branches in a program; more branches mean more complexity and more potential for error. And they look at the presence of complex algorithms that could be susceptible to algorithmic complexity attacks.

The lab is also looking at the number of external software libraries a program calls on and the processes it uses to call them. Such libraries make life more convenient for programmers, because they allow them to repurpose useful functions written by other coders, but they also increase the amount of potentially vulnerable code, increasing what security experts refer to as the “attack surface.” There are about 200 specific external library calls, Mudge says, that are particularly difficult to implement in a manner that ensures a given program executes safely.

If they get a really low score, “we can guarantee that … they’re doing so many things wrong that there are vulnerabilities” in their code. — Sarah Zatko

The process they use to evaluate software allows them to easily compare and contrast similar programs. Looking at three browsers, for example — Chrome, Safari, and Firefox — Chrome came out on top, with Firefox on the bottom. Google’s Chrome developers not only used a modern build environment and enabled all the default security settings they could, Mudge says, they went “above and beyond in making things even more robust.” Firefox, by contrast, “had turned off [ASLR], one of the fundamental safety features in their compilation.”

Mudge worked for Google previously, so some might accuse him of bias, but he says their algorithms, which have been vetted by an outside technical board, ensure that the automated assessments aren’t biased.

Software vendors will no doubt object to the methods they’re using to score their code, arguing that the use of risky libraries and old compilers doesn’t mean the vendors’ programs have actual vulnerabilities. But Sarah disagrees.

“If they get a really good score, we’re not saying there are no vulnerabilities,” says Sarah. But if they get a really low score, “we can guarantee that … they’re doing so many things wrong that there are vulnerabilities [in their code].”

The lab aims to prove such vulnerabilities with the second part of its testing regimen, which uses fuzzing, a method that involves throwing a lot of data at a program to see if it crashes or does something else it shouldn’t do.

“In actually executing it and crashing it, we’re confirming that, yes, this thing has bugs, this thing crashed,” Mudge says. “We were able to give it input and it behaved abhorrently.”

Not all crashes indicate the presence of a bug that hackers can exploit, but they do, at a minimum, indicate that a program may be unreliable for users. In the lab reports the Zatkos plan to make available to the public, they will note which crashes they found were potentially exploitable.

The Zatkos don’t plan to fuzz every program, only enough to show a direct correlation between programs that score low in their algorithmic code analysis and ones shown by fuzzing to have actual flaws. They want to be able to say with 90 percent accuracy that one is indicative of the other.

Mudges Storied Hacking History

Mudge has a long history in the hacker and security communities. While a member of L0pht, he and his L0pht colleagues testified to federal lawmakers in 1998 that the group could bring down the internet in 30 minutes using a serious flaw that still exists.

Photo: Cole C Wilson

He also advised the Clinton administration on cybersecurity issues; was a program manager for DARPA’s Cyber FastTrack initiative, which offered fast-turnaround grants for short cybersecurity projects; and more recently, worked for Google’s Advanced Technologies and Projects Group, a sort of rapid-response skunkworks group, before leaving to launch the testing lab.

His interest in doing software security assessments dates back to a paper one of his L0pht colleagues wrote in 1998 about such evaluations. The idea moved from theory to practice when L0pht merged with a security startup called @Stake and began developing an automated way to do static analysis of code. That method became the basis for what a company called VeraCode does today: assess software for government and corporate clients before they buy it.

Chris Wysopal, CTO of VeraCode and a former L0pht colleague of Mudge’s, says clients generally won’t purchase software his company finds problematic until the software maker fixes the problems, which he says is great for other buyers.

“To me that’s like actually finishing the job; we’re not just pointing out the problems but helping make better software,” he says.

But these assessments are done privately and often on enterprise software, leaving the rest of the public with no way to assess the security of software and little leverage to force vendors to fix other poorly secured code. The Zatkos’ venture could fill that gap, Wysopal says.

Two years ago, Mudge says someone from the White House technology office approached him about helping to set up a government program to evaluate software. He had no interest in working inside the government and decided to set up a nonprofit instead. Although his tweet last year said the White House asked him to create the lab, the White House isn’t involved in his project.

Instead, with $600,000 in funding from DARPA, the Ford Foundation, and Consumers Union, he and Sarah set up the lab in the basement of their home. The outside technical board that vets their methodology and algorithms includes security notables such as former NSA hacker Charlie Miller; Dino Dai Zovi, a security engineer with Square; and Frank Rieger, CTO of the German firm GSMk, which makes the Cryptophone.

Vendors don’t pay for the evaluations. The Zatkos choose the software they evaluate and either buy it or obtain free evaluation copies from vendor websites. They’re examining both commercial software programs and open-source ones. For each software package they test, they produce three reports. The first, automatically generated by their algorithms, scores the software on a scale between 0 and 100. The second contains a detailed breakdown of what they found in the software and will be available for free on their website. The third report, which they plan to sell, will contain raw data from their assessments for anyone who wants to recreate them.

They’ve examined about 12,000 programs so far and plan to release their first reports in early 2017. They also plan to release information about their methodology and are willing to share the algorithms they use for their predictive fuzzing analysis if someone wants them.

There’s already a growing interest in their work. They’re working with Consumer Reports, another inspiration for the lab, to develop a way to use their data to evaluate products the magazine tests. They’ve also had interest from AIG and other insurers who want to use the data to do risk-assessments of companies seeking cyber insurance.

But there is at least one downside to scoring software like this: Attackers can use it to gauge where they should focus their energy to find vulnerabilities, targeting low-scoring applications. Lawyers will also likely want to use the data to assess liability for companies that get hacked. Did they install risky software on their network when a measurably more secure one was available?

Mudge says he’s not upset about the prospect of lawyers finding joy in their scores. “We’ve been begging people to give a shit about security for a decade. … [But] there’s very little incentive if they’ve already got a product to change a product. If you come out with a quantifier saying what you’ve got is not as secure as this other one, that’s going to be an incentive for them to go out and get the other one.”

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Der gescheiterte Putsch und die Folgen für die Türkei, Teil 2

RIB/DAKS - ven, 29/07/2016 - 09:19

Erstmals beeinträchtigen die sogenannten Säuberungsaktionen der türkischen Regierung in der Armee auch die außenpolitischen Angelegenheiten der Türkei. James Clapper, Geheimdienstdirektor beim NATO-Partner USA hat auf einer Sicherheitskonferenz in Colorado verlauten lassen  „Viele unserer Gesprächspartner sind entlassen oder verhaftet worden“. Der gesamte Sicherheitsapperat sei von den Maßnahmen betroffen, dies beeinträchtige die Zusammenarbeit mit dem NATO-Staat insgesamt. Insbesondere sei dies problematisch bei der Zusammenarbeit im Kampf gegen den IS in Syrien.

(C) dpa

Nach dem gescheiterten Putsch wurden fast 1700 Armeeangehörige unehrenhaft Entlassen, darunter auch fast 40 %  der Generäle und der Admiräle. Ein Drittel der insgesamt 360 dienenden Generäle wurde Festgenommen. Der im Bild zu sehende türkische Armeechef Hulusi Akar aber bleibt im Amt

Auch neben dem Militär gehen die Säuberungsaktionen des durch den Ausnahmezustand per Dekret regierenden Präsidenten Erdogan weiter. Die Türkische Staatsanwaltschaft will die Privatvermögen von mehr als 3000 Suspendierten Richtern und Staatsanwälten beschlagnahmen lassen. Davon betroffen sind 3049 Richter und Staatsanwälte denen Verbindungen zu dem im Exil lebenden Prediger Fetullah Gülen nachgesagt werden. Den vom Dienst freigestellten Juristen sollen unter anderem Immobilien, Bankkonten und Fahrzeuge entzogen werden. Nach Angaben des Innenministeriums saßen am Mittwoch mehr als 1600 Richter und Staatsanwälte in Untersuchungshaft. Der Gülen-Bewegung wird vorgeworfen einen Staat im Staate errichten zu wollen und deswegen den Staatsapparat zu unterwandern.

Mit seinem jüngsten Dekret hat Erdogan die Schließung von über 100 Medienredaktionen angeordnet. Drei Nachrichtenagenturen, 16 Fernsehstationen, 23 Radiosender, 45 Zeitungen, 15 Magazine sowie 29 Verlagshäuser und Pressevertriebe müssen nun die Arbeit Einstellen.

Nachdem Erdogan von Deutschland die Auslieferung von Gülen-Anhängern verlangte mahnte die Bundeskanzlerin Angela Merkel die Türkei das „Prinzip der Verhältnismäßigkeit“ zu wahren. Die Bundeskanzlerin äußerte Ihre sorge das nach dem gescheiterten Putsch in der Türkei „doch sehr hart vorgegangen wird“. Der Bundesaußenminister Frank Walter Steinmeier sagte den Ruhrnachrichten das die türkischen Reaktionen auf den Putschversuch „weit über jedes Maß hinaus“ gehen würden. Er mahnte man könne nicht schwiegen „Wenn Zehntausende Beamte, Lehrer und Richter entlassen, Tausende von Schulen und Bildungseinrichtungen geschlossen und dutzende Journalisten festgenommen werden, ohne dass ein direkter Zusammenhang mit dem Putsch erkennbar wäre, können wir nicht einfach schweigen“.

Khizr Khan, Father of American Muslim Soldier Killed in Iraq, Shames Donald Trump

The Intercept - Engl. - ven, 29/07/2016 - 05:47

Given that Hillary Clinton’s Senate vote, on October 11, 2002, to authorize the invasion of Iraq might have been what cost her the Democratic nomination for the presidency in 2008, it was remarkable that the most powerful speech on her behalf on Thursday night in Philadelphia came from the father of an American soldier who was killed in that war.

However, the words of Khizr Khan — a Pakistani Muslim immigrant, whose son, Capt. Humayun S.M. Khan, was posthumously awarded the Bronze Star and Purple Heart for saving the lives of fellow soldiers in Baquba, Iraq in 2004 — were not about the wisdom or morality or politics of the war. They were about how his son’s love of country, and his family’s sacrifice, exposed the anti-Muslim bigotry behind Donald Trump’s plan to bar followers of that faith from becoming Americans.

“Hillary Clinton was right when she called my son the best of America,” Khan said, standing beside his wife, Ghazala. “If it was up to Donald Trump, he never would have been in America.”

Khan then addressed the Republican candidate directly, with quiet dignity: “Donald Trump, you are asking Americans to trust you with their future. Let me ask you: have you even read the United States Constitution?” Reaching slowly into his jacket, Khan then removed a small booklet and added, “I will gladly lend you my copy.”

“In this document, look for the words ‘liberty’ and ‘equal protection of law,'” he continued. “Have you ever been to Arlington cemetery? Go look at the graves of brave patriots who died defending the United States of America. You will see all faiths, genders and ethnicities.”

“You have sacrificed nothing, and no one,” he added. “We cannot solve our problems by building walls.”

Standing ovation for Khizr Khan & his wife- they lost their son in war. #muslim #american "we are stronger together" pic.twitter.com/O3nnWSG83r

— Heidi Hatch (@tvheidihatch) July 29, 2016

A historic moment when Khizr Khan, father of one of 14 Muslims who died serving the U.S. after 9/11, got a standing ovation at the #DNC.

— Raza Ahmad Rumi (@Razarumi) July 29, 2016

In 2007, when Clinton was forced to explain her vote on Iraq during a primary battle with Barack Obama — who had spoken out against the “dumb war” as an Illinois state legislator in October, 2002 — she initially blamed the faulty intelligence presented to Senators. “Obviously, if we knew then what we know now, there wouldn’t have been a vote — and I certainly wouldn’t have voted that way,” she told NBC News.

“I should have stated my regret sooner and in the plainest, most direct language possible,” Clinton reflected later, in her 2014 memoir, “Hard Choices.” She added: “I thought I had acted in good faith and made the best decision I could with the information I had. And I wasn’t alone in getting it wrong. But I still got it wrong. Plain and simple.”

In December, after Trump responded to the mass shooting in San Bernardino by demanding, “a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country’s representatives can figure out what the hell is going on,” Clinton’s campaign released video of her praising the heroism of Capt. Khan.

Amid an outpouring of support and praise for Khan’s speech, a rare sour note was struck by the Trump-supporting extremist Ann Coulter. Jerry Saltz, a New York magazine writer, advised her to look at a photograph of Capt. Khan’s grave in Arlington National Cemetery.

@AnnCoulter pic.twitter.com/qxFz73g1Ty

— Jerry Saltz (@jerrysaltz) July 29, 2016

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Hillary Clinton’s Nomination Met With Joy From Many Women at DNC, But Disenchantment From Others

The Intercept - Engl. - ven, 29/07/2016 - 04:22

As the Democratic Party formally announced its nominee on Tuesday night, the gigantic screen at the Wells Fargo Center showed images of the last 44 U.S. presidents until, with a great shattering sound, Hillary Clinton appeared from behind virtual glass shards.

It was not subtle. Some found it emotional; others found it corny. And in a week that’s been defined by profound divisions inside the convention hall — and greater ones between the convention and the streets outside –- the significance of Clinton’s breaking of a gender barrier also elicited a split response.

As Clinton became the first woman to receive the presidential nomination of a major party, there were those who celebrated her achievement — and those whose deep disenchantment with her and the Democratic leadership remained unaffected by her gender.

Among women, in particular, Clinton’s nomination only seemed to accentuate gaping divisions.

At a DNC women’s caucus meeting on Thursday morning, the crowd was jubilant and running high on the emotions of the week. Hundreds of women of all ages decked out in “I’m with her” gear and pink Planned Parenthood shirts filled the room, as inspirational videos of little girls saying they wanted to be president played in the background.

“My sisters, we have made history here in Philadelphia,” convention CEO Leah Daughtry told a roaring crowd. “Just think that less than 100 years ago, a woman was not even guaranteed the right to vote, and just think that a little over 50 years ago, an African-American woman, Fannie Lou Hamer, was not even permitted to be seated at our convention. And now, we have nominated our first woman to be president at a convention run by an African-American woman.”

Breaking the glass ceiling

Photo: Alice Speri

Kelly Jacobs, a 57-year-old delegate from Mississippi, was ecstatic. She wore a gold chain with President Hillary spelled out in sparkling stones, a Hillary Clinton hairpin over her pink hairnet, a huge portrait of the candidate printed on her dress, and a picture of the White House showing through one of her skirt’s layers. The four-time delegate said she had printed Clinton’s face on the fabric herself — and had created a different outfit for every day of the convention.

“It may have seemed cheesy, but for a lot of us, breaking the glass ceiling was a rallying cry,” she teared up. “It’s not just for her, it’s also for those of us who have tried to get promoted, tried to get paid the same as men.”

Jacobs recalled being harassed as the only woman on her water polo team in the 1970s, and spoke of growing up watching disempowered women on television. “Your generation hasn’t spent years and years not seeing any woman at the top,” she said. “When I was growing up, the woman on TV was Bewitched, and her husband was always putting her down. It wasn’t until Judge Judy came and she was kicking ass and saying ‘I’m smarter than you’ that perceptions changed. Now, you just take it for granted that there are women judges, women in charge, but when I was growing up there was none of that — there was Hazel, a woman cleaning house. It was all about putting women down and suppressing them.”

Jacobs said some Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump supporters harassed her on the subway, laughing at her Hillary outfits and yelling at her “I’m not voting for that bitch.” “They have been horrible to her, her entire career,” she said of Clinton. “Because they’re sexist. And we’re sexist, women too, our entire country is sexist because we have accepted that.”

Photo: Alice Speri

Inside the convention arena, a women’s group raffled off a doll dressed in a shirt that said “Someday a woman will be president!” — the same shirt that Walmart controversially banned in the 1990s. Outside, people sold “Hil Yes” pins and a man in a red dress, pearls, and a Bill Clinton mask carried a sign saying “First Lady Bill.”

But blocks away, and across the city, many signs bearing Hillary’s name had the word “never” preceding it.

If the nomination was a historic moment, it had taken the country so long to get it that many, especially younger women, shrugged at the idea.

And even more significantly, Clinton’s unpopularity and heated criticism of her politics far overshadowed any excitement over her achievement.

“I don’t care,” Sally Briggs, a Bernie Sanders supporter from Colorado, said in reference to the shattered glass ceiling. “When the right woman becomes president, great, but Hillary shouldn’t be that woman.”

Briggs, who is 59 and had her own “Sally for Bernie” pin made, added that she often found herself siding with younger women over her own peers, who she thought allowed Clinton’s gender to distract them from her record. “She keeps on the woman thing so there’s less time to talk about her corruption and her bad foreign policy,” she said. “That doesn’t matter to younger women, because they already are empowered. They support who they want to support.”

Is Hillary Clinton a feminist?

Clinton’s nomination also revamped an old question: who is a feminist, and is she one?

“I say, let’s unpack that word a little bit,” Medea Benjamin, founder of the antiwar women’s group Codepink, said at a rally earlier this week. “Would a feminist have to hesitate one minute to say that working people deserve a living wage, especially women who are at the bottom of the rung? Would a feminist say that we should invade a country that has never done us any harm?” Benjamin called out Clinton on her lack of support for Palestinian women, and her close ties to women-repressive Saudi Arabia. “People have said to me, come on, we need a first woman president,” she added. “And I say yes, we do, and that is [Green Party candidate] Jill Stein.”

Similar questions were raised at a women’s “speak-out” held at a local church on the sidelines of the convention. The event, which drew mothers of victims of police violence, Flint residents, indigenous activists, and one of the most diverse crowds of the week, was opened by Laura Zuñiga Cáceres, daughter of the slain Honduran activist Berta Cáceres, who before her assassination had called out Clinton’s support for the Honduran coup .

“We have an opportunity to talk about what feminism looks like for us. Whenever I go abroad, people ask me if Hillary Clinton is a feminist, and I don’t know what to say about that,” Helena Wong, a community organizer, said at the event, as someone from the crowd shouted back “Say no!”

“We have to call out the idea that having a woman in power is actually a step forward,” Wong added. But, she noted, “Berta was murdered under the Democratic party, and Hillary Clinton, who was Secretary of State, has publicly stated that she supported the coup that has created the conditions for the criminalization of protest and the murder of human rights activists in Honduras and around the world.”

At the event, women spoke of fair wages, environmental rights, and state violence at home and abroad — rarely of women directly.

“There’s been a kind of institutional feminism that’s been promoted by women like Hillary Clinton,” Ana Martina, a community organizer originally from Mexico, said while breastfeeding her ten-month old daughter. “Feminism is more holistic. For a woman to think that they’re being represented by a feminist in Hillary is totally wrong. She’s a rightwing candidate, no better or worse than Trump.”

Trump’s sexism

But the specter of a possible Trump presidency — and the ways in which the Republican nominee has spoken to and about women – also served many observers as a reminder of the progress women have yet to make.

Photo: Alice Speri

“Donald Trump changes his mind three times a day but the one thing that’s been consistent is a pattern of misogyny,” said Zach Wahls, an Iowa delegate who spoke at the last DNC after a video he made about being raised by two lesbian mothers went viral. Wahls was selling decks of “woman card(s)” designed by his younger sister in response to Trump’s use of the expression — with Clinton as the ace, Ruth Bader Ginsburg as the King, and Beyonce as the Queen.

“It’s very clear that this is a man who does not respect women, believes women should not have an equal place in our society,” he said. “He sees himself as superior to women because he’s a man.”

“That’s the thing with Trump, it’s that he says things that people are actually thinking, and we didn’t see that before,” echoed Brittany MacPherson, a 25-year-old delegate from Oregon who was wearing a hat covered in pins with slogans like “another feminist for Hillary.”

“We got our first black president and people were like, racism doesn’t exist in America! When Obama’s presidency made racism so much more evident than it had been,” she said. “And now with Hillary we’re seeing the sexism come out, and if she wins — when she wins — there will be so much more sexism uncovered.”

MacPherson couldn’t understand why fellow millennial women would be so dismissive of Clinton’s achievement. “It’s been 240 years, only 20 percent of government is women, and we’re 50 percent of the population and 55 percent of the voting bloc,” she said. “Feminists that have come before us have done so much, and we have gotten so much, that it feels like we’re equal — but we’re not. Until we have 50 percent of women in government, and CEOs, we’re not equal. Until we get equal pay, we’re not equal.”

MacPherson said she supports Clinton because she is “the most experienced person to ever run for president.” “But I don’t shy away from saying ‘Yes, I am voting for her because she’s a woman,’ because representation actually matters,” she added.

That’s the very idea that many Clinton critics rejected.

“We don’t want people to just say, ‘Well, we have a woman.’ It’s what the woman stands for and what she has demonstrated that’s more important,” said Pat Albright, a community activist and former single mother and welfare recipient who slammed Clinton for her past support of a number of policies that had a devastating impact on poor families and women.

“We want women in positions of power to stand with those with less power, and support our demands rather than be there to further their own interests. We don’t want someone to just mirror the power structure — the worst of the power structure,” she said. “We’d rather have a man who’s really representing us.”

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As the Syrian Government Tightens Its Noose, Aleppo’s Doctors Fear the Worst

The Intercept - Engl. - ven, 29/07/2016 - 02:50

It was just before 4 p.m. local time last Friday in the northern Syrian city of Aleppo when Dr. Farida Almouslem picked up the phone. With bombs falling outside, the 37-year-old calmly described the chaos unfolding around her. “I’m at home and staying in the middle of my home, because airstrikes are hitting us now,” she said. “We are hiding inside our bathroom.”

For four years now, Aleppo City, Almouslem’s hometown, has been a centerpiece in Syria’s brutal civil war, controlled by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s regime to the west and opposition forces to the east. The period has been marked by tragedy, bloodshed, and, for the more than 2 million people who called the city home when the fighting began, widespread collective trauma. The situation has now gone from bad to worse.

Syrian children living in Athens, Greece, take part in a demonstration against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad on March 15, 2012.

Photo: Louisa Gouliamaki/AFP/Getty Images

On July 7, just hours after Assad announced a three-day ceasefire, the Syrian president’s forces seized control of Castello Road, a vital artery that supplies anti-government forces with weapons and provides life-saving food and medicine to the civilians still living in opposition-controlled eastern Aleppo. “We are under siege now,” Almouslem said.

The Russian government has now said it will open humanitarian corridors to allow the besieged population safe exit, though people on the ground question how that proposal will play out. Speaking to The Intercept, Almouslem described the bleak circumstances in which medical workers and ordinary civilians in Aleppo find themselves. “The regime is killing us every day,” she said. “If they take Aleppo City, they will kill everyone.”

As Assad and his Russian allies have systematically targeted medical facilities with airstrikes, the number of doctors in Aleppo City has plummeted into the low dozens. The number of remaining medical specialists is even smaller. Almouslem, who specializes in obstetrics and gynecology, says she is one of two doctors left — in a besieged city of 300,000 — whose professional focus is on women’s health and delivering babies.

Eastern Aleppo City’s medical professionals often work underground, in the basements of crumbling buildings that serve as ERs, patient wards and operating rooms all rolled into one. Eight such facilities continue to accept patients in rebel-held territory. Almouslem’s hospital, Omar Ibn Abdel Aziz, has long been the only functioning medical facility in its pocket of eastern Aleppo City. According to the U.N., the hospital has served “an average of 5,500 outpatient consultations, 125 obstetric deliveries, 74 caesarean sections and 143 major surgeries per month.”

Damage inside the Omar Ibn Abdel Aziz hospital in the northern Syrian city of Aleppo after a barrel bomb struck on July 16, 2016.

Photo: Thaer Mohammed/AFP/Getty Images

Over the course of 45 days this summer in June and July, Omar Ibn Abdel Aziz was hit by at least three airstrikes. Almouslem was inside the hospital during two of the air raids. She was performing a caesarean operation during one of the assaults and her incapacitated patient had to be rushed to a nearby house. The third and most devastating attack, which injured a number of staff members, took place on July 16, and reportedly included a barrage of barrel bombs — one of the Assad regime’s signature aerial weapons — followed by Russian airstrikes. Footage purporting to show the aftermath of the attack depicted injured children and babies in dust-filled rooms and rescue workers with headlamps carrying wounded patients through darkened hallways.

Assad’s push to retake eastern Aleppo City has relied on the use of overwhelming airpower, often in conjunction with the Russian military. According to the BBC, Syrian and Russian forces pounded opposition-held areas with more than 600 airstrikes in the span of just six days during the first week of July, killing 126 people — rebels responded by firing rockets into western Aleppo, killing 58 people. Since then, warplanes have showered eastern Aleppo City with bombs. “Every day, every day,” Almouslem said. “Every three or four hours.”

Since the regime seized Castello Road, residents of eastern Aleppo City have felt the noose tightening. Samer Attar, a Syrian-American physician based in Chicago, described the closure of Castello Road as a “catastrophic turning point” and detailed the horrific challenges that eastern Aleppo City’s medical community and civilian population are now facing. Attar, an orthopedic surgeon, was in Aleppo City when the Assad regime ramped up its offensive earlier this month, and caught one of the last rides out of the city before the siege began. “I saw horrifying things — children getting amputations, civilians showing up with their intestines spilling out of their bellies,” he said.

Now, there are no cars on the street, fuel is hard to come by, and driving is dangerous. Electricity is available for no more than six hours a day. Aleppo’s residents “rely on the fact that Castello Road is open for humanitarian aid, humanitarian supplies, food, cooking oil,” said Attar, speaking to The Intercept Wednesday night.

With the last remaining roadway connecting eastern Aleppo City to the outside world now severed, humanitarian groups are sounding the alarm over a potential disaster in the making. In a statement before the United Nations’ Security Council Monday, Stephen O’Brien, the U.N.’s undersecretary for humanitarian affairs and emergency relief coordinator, described the deteriorating developments in eastern Aleppo as “medieval and shameful,” highlighting repeated attacks on Almouslem’s hospital, in particular, as evidence of the dangers the city’s civilian population now faces. “I cannot stress enough how critical the situation is for those trapped in eastern Aleppo City,” O’Brien said.

Residents of rebel-held Aleppo plant their own crops as they try to become self-sufficient confronted with the scarcity of food products, March 26, 2016.

Photo: Karam Al-Masri/AFP/Getty Images

Marianne Gasser, the Red Cross’s most senior official in Syria, who is currently in Aleppo, echoed O’Brien’s sentiment, calling the situation “devastating and overwhelming.” Human Rights Watch, meanwhile, called on U.S. and Russian officials “to press the Syrian government and other warring parties to allow unhindered access to aid” and noted that intentionally starving civilian populations is a war crime.

Assaults on medical facilities in Aleppo City, a well-documented tactic of the Assad government, continued through last weekend. While Almouslem’s hospital was spared this time around, at least four hospitals and a blood bank in opposition territory were battered by repeated airstrikes over two days. According to UNICEF, a pediatric hospital it supports in the neighborhood of al-Hakim — “the only one in the city” — was reportedly attacked twice in the span of 12 hours. “According to reports, a two-day-old baby died in his incubator due to interruptions in the oxygen supply as a result of airstrikes on al-Hakim,” the organization said in a statement Tuesday.

Hours after the bombs began falling last weekend, Assad said he was prepared to continue peace talks. On Tuesday, Syria Direct, a nonprofit media organization, reported that the most recent round of attacks meant five of eastern Aleppo City’s eight hospitals are “now restricted to offering no more than basic medical care.”

Despite the rapid depletion of resources, Almouslem has continued her work on a bombed-out floor of her hospital, as well as in her own private clinic. The siege has made her 12-hour days all the more grueling. While temperatures soar over 100 degrees Fahrenheit in Aleppo City, Almouslem works in operating rooms with no air conditioning.

“The average number of patients I see per day is 120,” she said. “They come for deliveries, for exams, for everything,” she explained. “Every day we deliver about 10 to 15 babies in our hospital.”

Hospital workers react after a barrel bomb struck just outside the Omar Ibn Abdel Aziz hospital in Aleppo, Syria, following government air raids on rebel-held districts, July 16, 2016.

Photo: Thaer Mohammed/AFP/Getty Images

Critically, Almouslem said, the siege has cut off eastern Aleppo City’s access to life-saving shipments of medicine that used to arrive once a week. She pointed to Oxytocin, a hormone used to induce labor and control a woman’s bleeding after childbirth, as one example. “It’s a very important drug for delivery,” Almouslem said. As of last week, she estimated the city had about 20 days of Oxytocin left. Once it runs out, Almouslem predicts a “very, very big disaster.”

Aleppo City is one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities on the planet. Thousands have fled or perished since rebels swept into its ancient streets in the summer of 2012. Almouslem, however, has stayed. For her, Aleppo City, where she received her education and continues to live alongside her daughter, husband, mother, and sister, is home. If she left, she explained, the population she serves would lose half of its women’s health specialists. “I want to help them,” Almouslem said. What’s more, she added, the nature of the work she does allows her brief moments of relief from the violence engulfing her city. “When I see [a mother] smile after delivery,” she explained, “I forget everything.”

Syrians help a wounded youth following an airstrike on the rebel-held Fardous neighborhood in the northern Syrian city of Aleppo on April 26, 2016.

Photo: Ameer AlhalbiAFP/Getty Images

On Thursday, Russia’s defense minister said three humanitarian corridors would be opened to allow civilians and fighters willing to lay down their arms escape eastern Aleppo City. UNICEF regional chief Juliette Touma told the BBC, “It is premature really to judge whether these humanitarian corridors are going to work or not.” U.N. Syria envoy Staffan de Mistura said he had not been consulted about the Russian offer and it was too early to comment.

The siege of Aleppo comes at a critical time for Western governments. A U.S.-led coalition force is currently intensifying operations in the region, some of which have turned increasingly bloody, in advance of major military offensives planned against Islamic State strongholds in the Iraqi city of Mosul and Raqqa, the extremist group’s de facto capital in Syria. Secretary of State Kerry, meanwhile, is pushing a controversial proposal that would see the United States working alongside Russia in conducting airstrikes in Syria to target Jabhat al-Nusra and the Islamic State — the idea being that in exchange for sharing targeting information, Russia would pressure the Assad regime to stop slaughtering its own people.

Critics have noted that working alongside the Russian military, which entered into the Syrian civil war in order to prop up the same Assad government currently choking the life out of eastern Aleppo City, could send a problematic message to U.S.-backed opposition forces on the ground — some of which have been targeted by Russian airstrikes in the past — and tip the balance of power in the conflict in favor of a murderous dictator.

Attar, the Syrian-American physician, believes the U.S. should take a far stronger public stance against the Assad government and its Russian allies. “Everyone saw this happening in slow motion,” he said. “Everyone saw the intensity of Russian bombardment escalating and Syrian government forces encroaching onto Castello Road. Nothing was done.”

Almouslem, for her part, has no doubt that the Assad regime will not let up until it takes control of her city. When it does, she said, the consequences for her, and everyone around her, will be severe.

“It’s our nightmare,” she said.

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Chelsea Manning Could Face Additional Punishment for Her Suicide Attempt

The Intercept - Engl. - ven, 29/07/2016 - 00:51

U.S. Army whistleblower Chelsea Manning tried to kill herself on July 5 in her cell at Fort Leavenworth military prison. Now, military officials are considering filing charges in connection to the suicide attempt that could make the terms of her imprisonment much more punitive — possibly including indefinite solitary confinement — while possibily losing any chance of receiving parole.

According to a charge sheet posted by the ACLU, Manning was informed by military officials on Thursday that she is under investigation for “resisting the force cell move team,” “prohibited property,” and “conduct which threatens.” In the weeks following her suicide attempt, she has been active on social media, thanking her followers for their moral support.

Manning’s treatment in prison since her 2010 arrest has repeatedly generated outrage among civil liberties advocates. The punitive tactics that have been employed against her include stripping her naked in her cell on a nightly basis, extended solitary confinement and denial of medical necessities like eyeglasses. In 2011, then-State Department spokesman P.J Crowley publicly described Manning’s treatment in prison as “ridiculous, counterproductive and stupid.”

Following a 14-month investigation into Manning’s treatment by the United Nations special rapporteur on torture, the UN accused the U.S. government of holding Manning in conditions that constituted “cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment,” particularly with regard to their extended use of pretrial solitary confinement. The harsh measures the military has employed during Manning’s detention have led to suspicions that the government is attempting make an example of her over her whistleblowing activities.

The latest threat to charge Manning with offenses related to her own attempted suicide seems to be proceeding in the same spirit of abusive treatment.

“The government has long been aware of Chelsea’s distress associated with the denial of medical care related to her gender transition and yet delayed and denied the treatment recognized as necessary,” ACLU attorney Chase Strangio said in a statement. “Now, while Chelsea is suffering the darkest depression she has experienced since her arrest, the government is taking actions to punish her for that pain. It is unconscionable and we hope that the investigation is immediately ended and that she is given the health care that she needs to recover.”

In a statement released by Manning after her 2013 guilty plea on espionage charges, she asked for a pardon and said that she had been motivated by moral outrage after details of U.S. military killings and torture of civilians in Iraq. “In our zeal to kill the enemy, we internally debated the definition of torture,” she said. “If you deny my request for a pardon, I will serve my time knowing that sometimes you have to pay a heavy price to live in a free society.”

She is currently six years into serving a 35-year sentence.

Fort Leavenworth.

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Merkel geißelt Terror

Hintergrund.de - jeu, 28/07/2016 - 21:41

(28.07.2016/hg/dpa)

Bundeskanzlerin Angela Merkel (CDU) hat die Anschläge von Würzburg und Ansbach als „islamistischen Terror“ verurteilt und Konsequenzen aus den jüngsten Gewalttaten in Aussicht gestellt. „Diese Anschläge sind erschütternd, bedrückend und auch deprimierend“, sagte sie am Donnerstag vor Journalisten in Berlin. „Es werden zivilisatorische Tabus gebrochen. Die Taten geschehen an Orten, wo jeder von uns sein könnte.“

Zugleich sicherte Merkel zu, dass die Behörden alles tun würden, um die Taten aufzuklären. Sie kündigte unter anderem ein besseres Frühwarnsystem für Bedrohungen neben dem organisierten Terrorismus an. Die Kanzlerin sagte, die Anschläge in Würzburg und Ansbach von zwei Flüchtlingen kamen, „verhöhnt das Land, das

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Türkei verlangt von Deutschland Auslieferung von Gülen-Anhängern

Hintergrund.de - jeu, 28/07/2016 - 21:41

(28.07.2016/hg/dpa)

Nach dem Putschversuch in der Türkei fordert die islamisch-konservative Regierung von Deutschland die Auslieferung türkischer Gülen-Anhänger. Damit droht neuer Streit zwischen Ankara und Berlin. Per Notstands-Dekret ordnete Staatspräsident Recep Tayyip Erdogan die Schließung von mehr als 100 Medien an.

Bundeskanzlerin Angela Merkel (CDU) ermahnte Erdogan am Donnerstag zu mehr Zurückhaltung im Umgang mit Gegnern. Sie zeigte sich besorgt über die jüngsten Entwicklungen in der Türkei, in der seit Donnerstag vergangener Woche der Ausnahmezustand gilt.

In einem Rechtsstaat müsse der Grundsatz der Verhältnismäßigkeit „unter allen Umständen“ gewahrt werden, sagte Merkel. „Die Sorge besteht darin, dass sehr hart vorgegangen wird, und dieses Prinzip der

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Dunkler Auftakt einer vermeintlichen Lichtgestalt

Hintergrund.de - jeu, 28/07/2016 - 21:41

Wie kein anderer Präsident vor ihm hat der seit dem 30. Juni amtierende Rodrigo R. Duterte die philippinische Gesellschaft binnen eines Monats schroff polarisiert. Die Zahl außergerichtlicher Hinrichtungen steigt täglich und ein „Dutertismo“ gewinnt an Konturen –

Von Rainer Werning, 28. Juli 2016 –

Beginnen wir mit einem der seltenen lichten Momente in der ansonsten von Betrug, Bestechung, Korruption und fiesen Winkelzügen geprägten Politik im Moloch Manila:

Am vergangenen Montag, dem 25. Juli, fand ein alljährlicher Event der besonderen Art in höchst ungewöhnlicher Form statt. Immer gegen Ende Juli tritt der amtierende Präsident der

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U.S. Government Finally Pays Family of Italian Aid Worker Killed In Drone Strike

The Intercept - Engl. - jeu, 28/07/2016 - 21:25

The U.S. government has reached an agreement with the family of an Italian aid worker killed in a CIA drone strike in Pakistan, over a year after President Barack Obama acknowledged the operation and promised an investigation and compensation. The news comes as other victims of U.S. counterterrorism strikes are pushing for the administration to also acknowledge their cases under a new executive order signed by Obama this month.

Lawyers for the family of the slain aid worker, 37 year-old Giovanni Lo Porto, confirmed to The Intercept that the U.S. government had provided a payment, but would not disclose the dollar amount, in keeping with the family’s wishes.

In January 2015, a missile fired by a CIA drone struck an al Qaeda compound in Pakistan where Lo Porto and an American humanitarian, Warren Weinstein, were being held hostage. A few months later, Obama, in an unprecedented admission, took “full responsibility” for Lo Porto and Weinstein’s deaths. Despite hundreds of hours of surveillance, he said, the United States had not known that the hostages were present.

Despite the president’s personal pledge, resolution for the families has been slow in coming.

As The Intercept reported earlier this year, Lo Porto’s family heard nothing from the U.S. government, either directly or through the Italian authorities, for more than a year after the strike took place. Negotiations began after the family went public in March with their frustrations.

The final settlement, reached this week, comes in the form of an “ex gratia” payment — essentially a gesture of condolence — from the U.S. government to Lo Porto’s parents and brothers, who live in Italy. There is no admission of wrongdoing, and it leaves the family free to pursue other legal action in the future. The government also did not disclose any further details about the strike.

Daniele, right, and Giuseppe Lo Porto, brothers of Giovanni Lo Porto, during a press conference in Rome in March 2016.

Photo: Gregorio Borgia/AP Images

An Italian state prosecutor could still, in theory, bring charges related to the strike, although so far there has been little progress on that front, according to Giulia Borgna, an attorney with the Italian firm representing the Lo Porto family. If the prosecutor dismisses the case, she said, it would be up to the family to decide if they would pursue other legal avenues.

It is not clear whether the Weinstein family has also reached an arrangement with the government. A lawyer who has represented the Weinsteins did not respond to requests for comment; in February, he accused the administration of stonewalling negotiations.

The White House did not respond to questions about the settlements, or about the status of a review of the incident by the CIA’s Inspector General. A spokesman for the National Security Council, Ned Price, said that the offer of a condolence payment was made “knowing that no dollar figure could ever bring back their loved one.”

Originally from Palermo, Sicily, Lo Porto had worked in disaster zones around the world, from Haiti to Myanmar. In early 2012, he had just arrived in Pakistan for a job rebuilding flood-damaged areas when an unknown group kidnapped him along with a German colleague. While the colleague was eventually released, Lo Porto ended up held by al Qaeda militants along with Weinstein, who had been snatched in 2011. Lo Porto’s brother, Daniele, told The Intercept that Italian authorities informed the family that they were in negotiations with intermediaries to free Giovanni just weeks before he was killed. The family learned of his death on the same day last April that Obama went public with the news.

A Precedent for Disclosure

Lo Porto and Weinstein’s deaths were unusual for the frank admission from the White House, in contrast to its silence on other strikes that killed innocent people–most of them non-Westerners. The United States has reportedly made payments for some other drone strike casualties, but not publicly acknowledged them.

Naureen Shah, director of Amnesty International’s Security with Human Rights program, said she welcomed the recognition for Lo Porto, but wished that the response would be extended to others as well. “It’s that particular invisibility of people who live in the communities where these drone strikes occur,” she said. “Their death is considered unsurprising and inconsequential. That goes against everything that we believe in the universality of human rights.”

Earlier this month, the White House released its own drone casualty figures, asserting that U.S. strikes in Yemen, Pakistan, Somalia and Libya had killed between 64 and 116 civilians, and 2,372 and 2,581 combatants, in 473 strikes over the first seven years of the Obama administration.

Those numbers were roundly disputed by outside observers. Over the years, several groups have maintained tallies of deaths by drone strike compiled from media reports and on-the-ground investigations by human rights groups, and they have estimated between 200 and 1,000 civilian deaths.

The government’s report did not enumerate the strikes, give their locations, name the victims, or even break out the numbers year by year.  The report acknowledged the discrepancies between its numbers and other counts, but argued that the government has access to sensitive intelligence that researchers and the media do not.

The strike that killed Lo Porto provides a clear instance where such intelligence was fallible, however. That attack was what’s known as a “signature strike,” where the agency fires on people exhibiting suspect behavior without necessarily knowing their identity.

It’s also not always been clear how the government categorizes casualties; statements by officials and documents published by The Intercept suggested that there was a presumption that all military-aged men killed in a strike were combatants (the White House denies that this is the case.)

Along with the casualty count, Obama issued an executive order requiring agencies engaged in armed conflict or “in the exercise of the Nation’s inherent right of self-defense” to take measures to avoid civilian casualties; to investigate instances of civilian harm, taking into consideration outside reporting; and in cases where the United States was responsible, to acknowledge and provide compensation for civilian victims.

This week, Amnesty International sent a letter to the CIA’s general counsel invoking the executive order to ask the agency to respond to a 2012 strike that killed Mamana Bidi, an elderly Pakistani woman. In an op-ed published in Time this week, her son described his children witnessing the bombing, and wrote that, “No U.S. official has ever acknowledged what happened to my mother, or apologized to us. We are still waiting for justice.”

Amnesty’s Naureen Shah told The Intercept that she believes the executive order should apply to past incidents as well, and could be a powerful accountability tool—if the agency complies with it.

The CIA’s drone strikes, while widely acknowledged, are still covert and operate under greater secrecy than those run by the military: the Pentagon has recently begun announcing its strikes in Yemen in press releases.

“The trick for us is ensuring this isn’t aspirational, but that it actually requires agencies to take action,” Shah said. “It has to become a meaningful piece of paper.”

The CIA referred a request for comment on Amnesty’s letter to the National Security Council. The council spokesman, Ned Price, said that the White House “will not address specific operations,” but that the executive order “emphasizes the U.S. Government’s consideration of credible information from non-governmental organizations in post-strike reviews.”

“Our focus is on the unprecedented provision of aggregate data regarding these sensitive operations, as well as the unprecedented commitment to continue providing such information going forward, rather than on any particular strikes,” Price said in emailed statement.

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The post U.S. Government Finally Pays Family of Italian Aid Worker Killed In Drone Strike appeared first on The Intercept.

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