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Linksunten Antimil - ven, 25/09/2015 - 14:57
0“ gegen „Bürgerkrieg und Asylwahnsinn“. Er hatte im Frühjahr auch die Demonstrationen ...

Profiled: From Radio to Porn, British Spies Track Web Users’ Online Identities

The Intercept - Engl. - ven, 25/09/2015 - 11:40

THERE WAS A SIMPLE AIM at the heart of the top-secret program: Record the website browsing habits of “every visible user on the Internet.”

Before long, billions of digital records about ordinary people’s online activities were being stored every day. Among them were details cataloging visits to porn, social media and news websites, search engines, chat forums, and blogs.

The mass surveillance operation — code-named KARMA POLICE — was launched by British spies about seven years ago without any public debate or scrutiny. It was just one part of a giant global Internet spying apparatus built by the United Kingdom’s electronic eavesdropping agency, Government Communications Headquarters, or GCHQ.

The revelations about the scope of the British agency’s surveillance are contained in documents obtained by The Intercept from National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden. Previous reports based on the leaked files have exposed how GCHQ taps into Internet cables to monitor communications on a vast scale, but many details about what happens to the data after it has been vacuumed up have remained unclear.

Amid a renewed push from the U.K. government for more surveillance powers, more than two dozen documents being disclosed today by The Intercept reveal for the first time several major strands of GCHQ’s existing electronic eavesdropping capabilities.

One system builds profiles showing people’s web browsing histories. Another analyzes instant messenger communications, emails, Skype calls, text messages, cell phone locations, and social media interactions. Separate programs were built to keep tabs on “suspicious” Google searches and usage of Google Maps.

The surveillance is underpinned by an opaque legal regime that has authorized GCHQ to sift through huge archives of metadata about the private phone calls, emails and Internet browsing logs of Brits, Americans, and any other citizens — all without a court order or judicial warrant.

Metadata reveals information about a communication — such as the sender and recipient of an email, or the phone numbers someone called and at what time — but not the written content of the message or the audio of the call.

As of 2012, GCHQ was storing about 50 billion metadata records about online communications and Web browsing activity every day, with plans in place to boost capacity to 100 billion daily by the end of that year. The agency, under cover of secrecy, was working to create what it said would soon be the biggest government surveillance system anywhere in the world.

Radio radicalization

The power of KARMA POLICE was illustrated in 2009, when GCHQ launched a top-secret operation to collect intelligence about people using the Internet to listen to radio shows.

The agency used a sample of nearly 7 million metadata records, gathered over a period of three months, to observe the listening habits of more than 200,000 people across 185 countries, including the U.S., the U.K., Ireland, Canada, Mexico, Spain, the Netherlands, France, and Germany.

A GCHQ graphic illustrating how KARMA POLICE works

A summary report detailing the operation shows that one aim of the project was to research “potential misuse” of Internet radio stations to spread radical Islamic ideas.

GCHQ spies from a unit known as the Network Analysis Center compiled a list of the most popular stations that they had identified, most of which had no association with Islam, like France-based Hotmix Radio, which plays pop, rock, funk and hip-hop music.

They zeroed in on any stations found broadcasting recitations from the Quran, such as a popular Iraqi radio station and a station playing sermons from a prominent Egyptian imam named Sheikh Muhammad Jebril. They then used KARMA POLICE to find out more about these stations’ listeners, identifying them as users on Skype, Yahoo, and Facebook.

The summary report says the spies selected one Egypt-based listener for “profiling” and investigated which other websites he had been visiting. Surveillance records revealed the listener had viewed the porn site Redtube, as well as Facebook, Yahoo, YouTube, Google’s blogging platform Blogspot, the photo-sharing site Flickr, a website about Islam, and an Arab advertising site.

GCHQ’s documents indicate that the plans for KARMA POLICE were drawn up between 2007 and 2008. The system was designed to provide the agency with “either (a) a web browsing profile for every visible user on the Internet, or (b) a user profile for every visible website on the Internet.”

The origin of the surveillance system’s name is not discussed in the documents. But KARMA POLICE is also the name of a popular song released in 1997 by the Grammy Award-winning British band Radiohead, suggesting the spies may have been fans.

A verse repeated throughout the hit song includes the lyric, “This is what you’ll get, when you mess with us.”

The Black Hole

GCHQ vacuums up the website browsing histories using “probes” that tap into the international fiber-optic cables that transport Internet traffic across the world.

A huge volume of the Internet data GCHQ collects flows directly into a massive repository named Black Hole, which is at the core of the agency’s online spying operations, storing raw logs of intercepted material before it has been subject to analysis.

Black Hole contains data collected by GCHQ as part of bulk “unselected” surveillance, meaning it is not focused on particular “selected” targets and instead includes troves of data indiscriminately swept up about ordinary citizens’ online activities. Between August 2007 and March 2009, GCHQ documents say that Black Hole was used to store more than 1.1 trillion “events” — a term the agency uses to refer to metadata records — with about 10 billion new entries added every day.

As of March 2009, the largest slice of data Black Hole held — 41 percent — was about people’s Internet browsing histories. The rest included a combination of email and instant messenger records, details about search engine queries, information about social media activity, logs related to hacking operations, and data on people’s use of tools to browse the Internet anonymously.

Throughout this period, as smartphone sales started to boom, the frequency of people’s Internet use was steadily increasing. In tandem, British spies were working frantically to bolster their spying capabilities, with plans afoot to expand the size of Black Hole and other repositories to handle an avalanche of new data.

By 2010, according to the documents, GCHQ was logging 30 billion metadata records per day. By 2012, collection had increased to 50 billion per day, and work was underway to double capacity to 100 billion. The agency was developing “unprecedented” techniques to perform what it called “population-scale” data mining, monitoring all communications across entire countries in an effort to detect patterns or behaviors deemed suspicious. It was creating what it said would be, by 2013, “the world’s biggest” surveillance engine “to run cyber operations and to access better, more valued data for customers to make a real world difference.”

A document from the GCHQ target analysis center (GTAC) shows the vast Black Hole repository’s structure.

GCHQ is able to identify a particular person’s website browsing habits by pulling out the raw data stored in repositories like Black Hole and then analyzing it with a variety of systems that complement each other.

KARMA POLICE, for instance, works by showing the IP addresses of people visiting websites. IP addresses are unique identifiers that are allocated to computers when they connect to the Internet.

In isolation, IPs would not be of much value to GCHQ, because they are just a series of numbers — like — and are not attached to a name. But when paired with other data they become a rich source of personal information.

To find out the identity of a person or persons behind an IP address, GCHQ analysts can enter the series of numbers into a separate system named MUTANT BROTH, which is used to sift through data contained in the Black Hole repository about vast amounts of tiny intercepted files known as cookies.

Cookies are automatically placed on computers to identify and sometimes track people browsing the Internet, often for advertising purposes. When you visit or log into a website, a cookie is usually stored on your computer so that the site recognizes you. It can contain your username or email address, your IP address, and even details about your login password and the kind of Internet browser you are using — like Google Chrome or Mozilla Firefox.

For GCHQ, this information is incredibly valuable. The agency refers to cookies internally as “target detection identifiers” or “presence events” because of how they help it monitor people’s Internet use and uncover online identities.

If the agency wants to track down a person’s IP address, it can enter the person’s email address or username into MUTANT BROTH to attempt to find it, scanning through the cookies that come up linking those identifiers to an IP address. Likewise, if the agency already has the IP address and wants to track down the person behind it, it can use MUTANT BROTH to find email addresses, usernames, and even passwords associated with the IP.

Once the agency has corroborated a targeted person’s IP address with an email address or username, it can then use the tiny cookie files associated with these identifiers to perform a so-called “pattern of life” analysis showing the times of day and locations at which the person is most active online.

the agency was extracting data containing information about people’s visits to the adult website YouPorn

In turn, the usernames and email and IP addresses can be entered into other systems that enable the agency to spy on the target’s emails, instant messenger conversations, and web browsing history. All GCHQ needs is a single identifier — a “selector,” in agency jargon — to follow a digital trail that can reveal a vast amount about a person’s online activities.

A top-secret GCHQ document from March 2009 reveals the agency has targeted a range of popular websites as part of an effort to covertly collect cookies on a massive scale. It shows a sample search in which the agency was extracting data from cookies containing information about people’s visits to the adult website YouPorn, search engines Yahoo and Google, and the Reuters news website.

Other websites listed as “sources” of cookies in the 2009 document (see below) are Hotmail, YouTube, Facebook, Reddit, WordPress, Amazon, and news sites operated by CNN, BBC, and Channel 4 News.

In one six-month period between December 2007 and June 2008, the document says, more than 18 billion records from cookies and other similar identifiers were accessible through MUTANT BROTH.

The data is searched by GCHQ analysts in a hunt for behavior online that could be connected to terrorism or other criminal activity. But it has also served a broader and more controversial purpose — helping the agency hack into European companies’ computer networks.

In the lead up to its secret mission targeting Netherlands-based Gemalto, the largest SIM card manufacturer in the world, GCHQ used MUTANT BROTH in an effort to identify the company’s employees so it could hack into their computers.

The system helped the agency analyze intercepted Facebook cookies it believed were associated with Gemalto staff located at offices in France and Poland. GCHQ later successfully infiltrated Gemalto’s internal networks, stealing encryption keys produced by the company that protect the privacy of cell phone communications.

Similarly, MUTANT BROTH proved integral to GCHQ’s hack of Belgian telecommunications provider Belgacom. The agency entered IP addresses associated with Belgacom into MUTANT BROTH to uncover information about the company’s employees. Cookies associated with the IPs revealed the Google, Yahoo, and LinkedIn accounts of three Belgacom engineers, whose computers were then targeted by the agency and infected with malware.

The hacking operation resulted in GCHQ gaining deep access into the most sensitive parts of Belgacom’s internal systems, granting British spies the ability to intercept communications passing through the company’s networks.

Cryptome surveillance

In March, a U.K. parliamentary committee published the findings of an 18-month review of GCHQ’s operations and called for an overhaul of the laws that regulate the spying. The committee raised concerns about the agency gathering what it described as “bulk personal datasets” being held about “a wide range of people.” However, it censored the section of the report describing what these “datasets” contained, despite acknowledging that they “may be highly intrusive.”

The Snowden documents shine light on some of the core GCHQ bulk data-gathering programs that the committee was likely referring to — pulling back the veil of secrecy that has shielded some of the agency’s most controversial surveillance operations from public scrutiny.

KARMA POLICE and MUTANT BROTH are among the key bulk collection systems. But they do not operate in isolation — and the scope of GCHQ’s spying extends far beyond them.

GCHQ’s logo for the SOCIAL ANTHROPOID system

The agency operates a bewildering array of other eavesdropping systems, each serving its own specific purpose and designated a unique code name, such as: SOCIAL ANTHROPOID, which is used to analyze metadata on emails, instant messenger chats, social media connections and conversations, plus “telephony” metadata about phone calls, cell phone locations, text and multimedia messages; MEMORY HOLE, which logs queries entered into search engines and associates each search with an IP address; MARBLED GECKO, which sifts through details about searches people have entered into Google Maps and Google Earth; and INFINITE MONKEYS, which analyzes data about the usage of online bulletin boards and forums.

GCHQ has other programs that it uses to analyze the content of intercepted communications, such as the full written body of emails and the audio of phone calls. One of the most important content collection capabilities is TEMPORA, which mines vast amounts of emails, instant messages, voice calls and other communications and makes them accessible through a Google-style search tool named XKEYSCORE.

As of September 2012, TEMPORA was collecting “more than 40 billion pieces of content a day” and it was being used to spy on people across Europe, the Middle East, and North Africa, according to a top-secret memo outlining the scope of the program. The existence of TEMPORA was first revealed by The Guardian in June 2013.

To analyze all of the communications it intercepts and to build a profile of the individuals it is monitoring, GCHQ uses a variety of different tools that can pull together all of the relevant information and make it accessible through a single interface.

SAMUEL PEPYS is one such tool, built by the British spies to analyze both the content and metadata of emails, browsing sessions, and instant messages as they are being intercepted in real time.

One screenshot of SAMUEL PEPYS in action shows the agency using it to monitor an individual in Sweden who visited a page about GCHQ on the U.S.-based anti-secrecy website Cryptome.

Domestic spying

Partly due to the U.K.’s geographic location — situated between the United States and the western edge of continental Europe — a large amount of the world’s Internet traffic passes through its territory across international data cables.

In 2010, GCHQ noted that what amounted to “25 percent of all Internet traffic” was transiting the U.K. through some 1,600 different cables. The agency said that it could “survey the majority of the 1,600” and “select the most valuable to switch into our processing systems.”

Many of the cables flow deep under the Atlantic Ocean from the U.S. East Coast, landing on the white-sand beaches of Cornwall in the southwest of England. Others transport data between the U.K. and countries including France, Belgium, Germany, the Netherlands, Denmark, and Norway by crossing below the North Sea and coming aground at various locations on England’s east coast.

According to Joss Wright, a research fellow at the University of Oxford’s Internet Institute, tapping into the cables allows GCHQ to monitor a large portion of foreign communications. But the cables also transport masses of wholly domestic British emails and online chats, because when anyone in the U.K. sends an email or visits a website, their computer will routinely send and receive data from servers that are located overseas.

“I could send a message from my computer here [in England] to my wife’s computer in the next room and on its way it could go through the U.S., France, and other countries,” Wright says. “That’s just the way the Internet is designed.”

In other words, Wright adds, that means “a lot” of British data and communications transit across international cables daily, and are liable to be swept into GCHQ’s databases.

A map from a classified GCHQ presentation about intercepting communications from undersea cables.

GCHQ is authorized to conduct dragnet surveillance of the international data cables through so-called external warrants that are signed off by a government minister.

The external warrants permit the agency to monitor communications in foreign countries as well as British citizens’ international calls and emails — for example, a call from Islamabad to London. They prohibit GCHQ from reading or listening to the content of “internal” U.K. to U.K. emails and phone calls, which are supposed to be filtered out from GCHQ’s systems if they are inadvertently intercepted unless additional authorization is granted to scrutinize them.

However, the same rules do not apply to metadata. A little-known loophole in the law allows GCHQ to use external warrants to collect and analyze bulk metadata about the emails, phone calls, and Internet browsing activities of British people, citizens of closely allied countries, and others, regardless of whether the data is derived from domestic U.K. to U.K. communications and browsing sessions or otherwise.

In March, the existence of this loophole was quietly acknowledged by the U.K. parliamentary committee’s surveillance review, which stated in a section of its report that “special protection and additional safeguards” did not apply to metadata swept up using external warrants and that domestic British metadata could therefore be lawfully “returned as a result of searches” conducted by GCHQ.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, GCHQ appears to have readily exploited this obscure legal technicality. Secret policy guidance papers issued to the agency’s analysts instruct them that they can sift through huge troves of indiscriminately collected metadata records to spy on anyone regardless of their nationality. The guidance makes clear that there is no exemption or extra privacy protection for British people or citizens from countries that are members of the Five Eyes, a surveillance alliance that the U.K. is part of alongside the U.S., Canada, Australia, and New Zealand.

“If you are searching a purely Events only database such as MUTANT BROTH, the issue of location does not occur,” states one internal GCHQ policy document, which is marked with a “last modified” date of July 2012. The document adds that analysts are free to search the databases for British metadata “without further authorization” by inputing a U.K. “selector,” meaning a unique identifier such as a person’s email or IP address, username, or phone number.

Authorization is “not needed for individuals in the U.K.,” another GCHQ document explains, because metadata has been judged “less intrusive than communications content.” All the spies are required to do to mine the metadata troves is write a short “justification” or “reason” for each search they conduct and then click a button on their computer screen.

Intelligence GCHQ collects on British persons of interest is shared with domestic security agency MI5, which usually takes the lead on spying operations within the U.K. MI5 conducts its own extensive domestic surveillance as part of a program called DIGINT (digital intelligence).

“We think and behave differently based on the assumption that people may be watching.”

GCHQ’s documents suggest that it typically retains metadata for periods of between 30 days to six months. It stores the content of communications for a shorter period of time, varying between three to 30 days. The retention periods can be extended if deemed necessary for “cyber defense.”

One secret policy paper dated from January 2010 lists the wide range of information the agency classes as metadata — including location data that could be used to track your movements, your email, instant messenger, and social networking “buddy lists,” logs showing who you have communicated with by phone or email, the passwords you use to access “communications services” (such as an email account), and information about websites you have viewed.

GCHQ headquarters in Cheltenham, England.

Records showing the full website addresses you have visited — for instance, — are treated as content. But the first part of an address you have visited — for instance, — is treated as metadata.

In isolation, a single metadata record of a phone call, email, or website visit may not reveal much about a person’s private life, according to Ethan Zuckerman, director of Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Center for Civic Media.

But if accumulated and analyzed over a period of weeks or months, these details would be “extremely personal,” he told The Intercept, because they could reveal a person’s movements, habits, religious beliefs, political views, relationships, and even sexual preferences.

For Zuckerman, who has studied the social and political ramifications of surveillance, the most concerning aspect of large-scale government data collection is that it can be “corrosive towards democracy” — leading to a chilling effect on freedom of expression and communication.

“Once we know there’s a reasonable chance that we are being watched in one fashion or another it’s hard for that not to have a ‘panopticon effect,’” he said, “where we think and behave differently based on the assumption that people may be watching and paying attention to what we are doing.”

Light oversight

It is unclear whether there are sufficient internal checks in place to ensure GCHQ’s spies don’t abuse their access to the troves of personal information.

According to the documents, 10 percent of the agency’s “targeting” of individuals for surveillance is audited annually and a random selection of metadata searches are audited every six months.

When compared to surveillance rules in place in the U.S., GCHQ notes that the U.K. has “a light oversight regime.”

The more lax British spying regulations are reflected in secret internal rules that highlight greater restrictions on how NSA databases can be accessed. The NSA’s troves can be searched for data on British citizens, one document states, but they cannot be mined for information about Americans or other citizens from countries in the Five Eyes alliance.

No such constraints are placed on GCHQ’s own databases, which can be sifted for records on the phone calls, emails, and Internet usage of Brits, Americans, and citizens from any other country.

The scope of GCHQ’s surveillance powers explain in part why Snowden told The Guardian in June 2013 that U.K. surveillance is “worse than the U.S.” In an interview with Der Spiegel in July 2013, Snowden added that British Internet cables were “radioactive” and joked: “Even the Queen’s selfies to the pool boy get logged.”

In recent years, the biggest barrier to GCHQ’s mass collection of data does not appear to have come in the form of legal or policy restrictions. Rather, it is the increased use of encryption technology that protects the privacy of communications that has posed the biggest potential hindrance to the agency’s activities.

“The spread of encryption … threatens our ability to do effective target discovery/development,” says a top-secret report co-authored by an official from the British agency and an NSA employee in 2011.

“Pertinent metadata events will be locked within the encrypted channels and difficult, if not impossible, to prise out,” the report says, adding that the agencies were working on a plan that would “(hopefully) allow our Internet Exploitation strategy to prevail.”


Documents published with this article:

The post Profiled: From Radio to Porn, British Spies Track Web Users’ Online Identities appeared first on The Intercept.

Classified Files Could Exonerate Former Gitmo Detainee Now Imprisoned in Morocco

The Intercept - Engl. - ven, 25/09/2015 - 00:34

Two more prisoners have left Guantanamo Bay in the last week, a sign of the Obama administration’s piecemeal efforts to empty  the prison before the end of his presidency.

But one of those men, a  47-year-old named Younous Chekkouri, has not received a warm welcome in his native Morocco. On arrival he was detained by Moroccan authorities and now may face terrorism-related charges. Last night, Chekkouri’s lawyers learned he had been moved to Salé prison, a facility that has been singled out by human rights groups for torture of detainees.

Chekkouri was rounded up by Pakistani forces at the end of 2001 and soon sent to Guantanamo. Although the U.S. government claimed that he had been part of a group of foreign fighters, not a charity group as he maintains, he was never charged with a crime.

In federal habeas corpus proceedings, the government ended up withdrawing many of its claims against Chekkouri, and in 2010, an interagency review recommended him for transfer out of Guantanamo. But much of the material from the habeas proceedings is still secret, under seal in the District Court in Washington D.C.

Cori Crider, Chekourri’s attorney from the human rights group Reprieve, says that those court filings contain information that would help prove his innocence.

“What my client is now potentially facing is some kind of Groundhog Day from hell,” said Crider. “He faces a ‘trial’ in Morocco on the basis of the selfsame allegations that, when tested in federal court in his Gitmo habeas case, collapsed.”

Reprieve began asking the U.S. government to declassify files from the habeas case in 2009, and in 2011, presented a “priority list” of thirteen documents for declassification. In the nearly four years since, the government has released only one of the requested files.

In an emergency motion filed today, Reprieve asked the federal district court to order the government to immediately release three pleadings and produce another seven by October 1st. The Justice Department did not respond to a request for comment on the motion.

Thirteen other Guantanamo detainees have been sent to Morocco, and many of then went to trial. In 2008, Said Boujandia was sentenced to 10 years on terror charges after being repatriated by the United States.

Morocco’s prisons are notorious for torture and extracting confessions through abuse. The CIA had a black-site prison in the country, and sent detainees to Moroccan authorities for interrogations.

The State Department’s 2014 report on human rights in Morocco noted that “numerous credible accounts of cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment of prisoners and detainees…confirmed the existence of ‘a pattern of torture and mistreatment.’” Asked what assurances the State Department had that Chekkouri would receive fair treatment when transferred, a department spokesperson said they would not comment on diplomatic negotiations and referred questions to the Moroccan government. The Moroccan embassy in Washington D.C., was closed for the Muslim holiday and could not be reached for comment.

Chekkouri’s international lawyers, from Reprieve, have not been able to speak with him. He was allowed brief visits with his brother and local lawyer, but no one has had contact with him since he was transferred to Salé yesterday, Crider said.

“The United States has the ability to get him home to his family if they put their backs into the diplomacy now – after stealing fourteen years of Younous’ life, that is the least they owe him,” said Crider.

The post Classified Files Could Exonerate Former Gitmo Detainee Now Imprisoned in Morocco appeared first on The Intercept.

Auf Blut gebaut

German Foreign Policy - ven, 25/09/2015 - 00:00
(Eigener Bericht) - Der deutsche Volkswagen-Konzern muss sich in Brasilien wegen seiner einstigen Unterstützung für die Militärdiktatur gerichtlich verantworten. In einer Zivilklage, die diese Woche eingereicht worden ist, wird dem Unternehmen vorgeworfen, in der Zeit der Diktatur (1964 bis 1985) mit den Repressionsbehörden kollaboriert, "schwarze Listen" missliebiger Arbeiter an sie weitergeleitet und Folter auf dem Werksgelände zugelassen zu haben. Die Vorwürfe werden von der brasilianischen Wahrheitskommission bestätigt, die von 2011 bis 2014 die Verbrechen der Militärdiktatur untersucht hat. Ihr zufolge ist die Sicherheitsabteilung von VW do Brasil in São Paulo von Franz Stangl aufgebaut worden, einem NS-Massenverbrecher, der mehrere NS-Mordanstalten und -Vernichtungslager geleitet hatte. Die Kollaboration von VW mit dem Militärregime ist Teil einer allgemeinen bundesdeutschen Zusammenarbeit mit der brasilianischen Diktatur gewesen, die unter den Bundeskanzlern Erhard und Kiesinger begann und unter ihren Nachfolgern Brandt und Schmidt fortgesetzt wurde. Sie verschaffte der bundesdeutschen Wirtschaft die starke Stellung in Brasilien, die sie immer noch innehat. Auf dieser Stellung beruhen die wiederkehrenden Bemühungen Berlins um exklusive politische Kooperation - bis heute.

[BO/NRW]: OB-Wahl und das Splittergruppendasein der Rechte

Linksunten Antimil - jeu, 24/09/2015 - 23:56
0,4 Prozent mehr als bei der Kommunalwahl 2014 erreichen, jedoch nicht ... parteilosen Omid Pouryousefi (2,3%) und um 0,1% vor dem Einzelbewerber Markus Zarske – und damit im ...

Fluchtursachen bekämpfen

Linksunten Antimil - jeu, 24/09/2015 - 23:56

Legislator Says Gift Ban Violates His Freedom of Speech

The Intercept - Engl. - jeu, 24/09/2015 - 20:57

The Supreme Court, in its Citizens United decision, ruled that corporations have a First Amendment right to spend unlimited amounts in elections. Now politicians in Kentucky are claiming they have a Constitutional right to receive gifts from lobbyists.

In a lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court, Republican Kentucky state Sen. John Schickel, along with two Libertarian political candidates, are suing to overturn state ethics laws, claiming that the campaign contribution limit of $1,000 and a ban on gifts from lobbyists and their employers are a violation of their First and Fourteenth Amendment rights.

The lawsuit notes that lobbyists and the employers of lobbyists are prohibited by Kentucky law from inviting legislators to parties, offering gifts, or paying for food for legislators. “This infringes on the legislator’s, lobbyist’s, and employer of lobbyist’s right to freedom of association, and freedom of speech,” Schickel claims in the suit.

View a copy of Schickel’s complaint below:

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Kentucky’s ethics laws were passed in 1992 after an FBI investigation exposed a number of local politicians selling their votes.

As the Lexington Herald-Leader noted, federal courts have “proven willing in recent years to overturn campaign-finance restrictions that judges believe violate the constitutional rights of donors and candidates.” One court, for instance, struck down the $50,000 limit mandated by Kentucky law on how much gubernatorial candidates may loan their campaigns.

Corporations have increasingly turned to new interpretations of the First Amendment as a legal strategy. Bond-rating agencies that gave high grades to toxic mortgage-backed securities claimed in court that doing so was their First Amendment right. Lobbyists have argued that food-labeling laws undermine the meat industry’s right to free speech. And similarly, AT&T recently argued that net neutrality violates the ISP industry’s First Amendment rights.

The post Legislator Says Gift Ban Violates His Freedom of Speech appeared first on The Intercept.

“Snowden Treaty” Calls for End to Mass Surveillance, Protections for Whistleblowers

The Intercept - Engl. - jeu, 24/09/2015 - 20:56

Inspired by the disclosures of NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, a campaign for a new global treaty against government mass surveillance was launched today in New York City.

Entitled the “The International Treaty on the Right to Privacy, Protection Against Improper Surveillance and Protection of Whistleblowers,” or, colloquially, the “Snowden Treaty,” an executive summary of the forthcoming treaty calls on signatories “to enact concrete changes to outlaw mass surveillance,” increase efforts to provide “oversight of state surveillance,” and “develop international protections for whistleblowers.”

At the event launching the treaty, Snowden spoke via a video link to say that the treaty was “the beginning of work that will continue for many years,” aimed at building popular pressure to convince governments to recognize privacy as a fundamental human right, and to provide internationally-guaranteed protections to whistleblowers who come forward to expose government corruption. Snowden also cited the threat of pervasive surveillance in the United States, stating that “the same tactics that the NSA and the CIA collaborated on in places like Yemen are migrating home to be used in the United States against common criminals and people who pose no threat to national security.”

The treaty is the brainchild of David Miranda, who was detained by British authorities at Heathrow airport in 2013, an experience that he described as galvanizing him towards greater political activism on this issue. Miranda is the partner of Glenn Greenwald, a founding editor of The Intercept who received NSA documents from Snowden. Authorities at Heathrow seized files and storage devices that Miranda was transporting for Greenwald. (The Press Freedom Litigation Fund of First Look Media, the publisher of the Intercept, is supporting Miranda’s lawsuit challenging his detention.)

Along with the activist organization Avaaz, Miranda began working on the treaty project last year. “We sat down with legal, privacy and technology experts from around the world and are working to create a document that will demand the right to privacy for people around the world,” Miranda said. Citing ongoing efforts by private corporations to protect themselves from spying and espionage, Miranda added that “we see changes happening, corporations are taking steps to protect themselves, and we need to take steps to protect ourselves too.”

The full text of the treaty has yet to be released, but it is envisioned as being the first international treaty that recognizes privacy as an inalienable human right, and creates legally-mandated international protections for individuals who are facing legal persecution for exposing corruption in their home countries. Its proponents hope to build momentum and convince both governments and multi-national organizations to adopt its tenets. Since the Snowden revelations there has been increasing public recognition of the threat to global privacy, with the United Nations announcing the appointment of its first Special Rapporteur on this issue in March, followed by calls for the creation of a new Geneva Convention on internet privacy.

Greenwald also spoke at the event, saying, “This campaign offers the opportunity to put pressure on governments to adopt a treaty that pushes back against mass surveillance, and also makes clear that individuals who expose corruption should not be subject to the retribution of political leaders.” Adding that many governments that make a show of supporting the dissidents of other countries tend to persecute their own whistleblowers, Greenwald added, “We need a lot of public pressure to say that mass surveillance should end, and that people who expose corruption should be entitled to international protections.”

The post “Snowden Treaty” Calls for End to Mass Surveillance, Protections for Whistleblowers appeared first on The Intercept.

Pope Decries “Shameful and Culpable Silence” on Arms Sales “Drenched in Innocent Blood”

The Intercept - Engl. - jeu, 24/09/2015 - 20:23

Pope Francis on Thursday gently scolded Congress on a variety of issues, from immigration to foreign policy, but on one unexpected topic — the weapons sales that fuel armed conflicts around the world — he couldn’t have been much more blunt.

He was speaking about his determination “to minimize and, in the long term, to end the many armed conflicts throughout our world,” when he said this:

Here we have to ask ourselves: Why are deadly weapons being sold to those who plan to inflict untold suffering on individuals and society? Sadly, the answer, as we all know, is simply for money: money that is drenched in blood, often innocent blood. In the face of this shameful and culpable silence, it is our duty to confront the problem and to stop the arms trade.

Those were fighting words, especially given where he spoke them. The U.S. is by far the largest arms supplier in the world, with domestic manufacturers selling more than $23.7 billion in weapons in 2014 to nearly 100 different countries. During the Obama administration, weapons sales have surged to record levels, in large part due to huge shipments to Gulf States, particularly Saudi Arabia.

The weapons sales to Saudi Arabia include cluster bombs and other munitions being used to hit densely populated areas, schools, and even a camp for displaced people in Yemen.

And a healthy chunk of those arms sales — especially to Israel and Egypt — are heavily subsidized by the U.S. taxpayer.

Congress, which could have blocked any of this, went along happily — in no small part because of the approximately $150 million a year the defense industry spends on lobbying and direct campaign contributions.

William Hartung, director of the Arms and Security Project at the Center for International Policy, praised the Pope’s comments as “a refreshing change from the antiseptic language that too often surrounds discussions in this country concerning the global arms trade.”

Hartung wrote in an email to The Intercept:

The recognition that arms sales can result in the spilling of “innocent blood” for profit is a far cry from the cover stories so often used to justify multi-billion-dollar arms deals — that they promote “stability” and are only for “defensive purposes.” As the country that reaps the most money from the international arms trade, the United States bears a responsibility to take the leadership in curbing weapons trading around the world. A good start would be to cut off U.S. supplies to Saudi Arabia until they stop engaging in indiscriminate bombing in Yemen, which has caused a humanitarian catastrophe of the highest order.

Hartung’s research shows that the volume of major arms deals concluded by Obama in his first five years far exceeds the amount approved during the eight years of the Bush administration.

U.S. firms make up seven of the top 10 arms-exporting companies, with Lockheed Martin and Boeing coming in at numbers one and two. Also in the top 10: Raytheon, Northrop Grumman, General Dynamics, United Technologies and L-3 Communications.

In June, the State Department announced it was lifting the freeze it imposed on the repressive government of Bahrain, despite recent human rights abuses including arbitrary detention of children, torture, restrictions for journalists and a brutal government crackdown on peaceful protestors in 2011.

And in August, Secretary of State John Kerry announced that he would even further speed up U.S. arms sales to Gulf countries. As part of his attempt to reassure Gulf states alarmed by negotiations with Iran, he said the U.S. “had agreed to expedite certain arms sales that are needed and that have taken too long in the past.”

Thursday’s speech was not the first time the Pope has spoken out about the arms trade. He referred to it as “the industry of death” in a talk with Italian schoolchildren in May. “Why so many powerful people do not want peace? Because they live off wars,” he said.

“This is serious. Some powerful people make their living with the production of arms and sell them to one country for them to use against another country,” he said. “The economic system orbits around money and not men, women. … So war is waged in order to defend money. This is why some people don’t want peace: They make more money from war, although wars make money but lose lives, health, education.”

The post Pope Decries “Shameful and Culpable Silence” on Arms Sales “Drenched in Innocent Blood” appeared first on The Intercept.

Fraue besetzen Bundeswehr-Truck am Fliegerhorst Büchel

Indymedia antimil - jeu, 24/09/2015 - 17:59
von: GA Büchel am: 24.09.2015 - 17:59

Aktivistinnen besetzen BW-Truck am Fliegerhorst Büchel.

NSU-Prozess: Unbekannte hinterließ Spuren in Wohnung - jeu, 24/09/2015 - 17:56


Im zerstörten Haus des mutmaßlichen NSU-Terrortrios in Zwickau haben Ermittler Genmaterial einer unbekannten Frau entdeckt. Das berichtete ein Kriminalbiologe des Bundeskriminalamtes am Donnerstag als Sachverständiger im Münchner NSU-Prozess.

Der Gutachter hatte 39 Zigarettenkippen untersucht, die im Keller des Hauses gefunden worden waren. Den Kellerraum hatte das Trio nach Erkenntnis der Ermittler mit einer Stahltür gesichert, die die mutmaßlichen Rechtsterroristen selber eingebaut haben sollen.

Die Qualität der DNA auf den Zigarettenresten sei gut, sagte der Sachverständige. „Da haben wir ein vollständiges Muster.“ Es gebe aber keine Vergleichs-DNA einer konkreten Person, der die Genspuren auf den Zigarettenresten zugeordnet werden könnten.

Hauptangeklagte im NSU-Prozess ist Beate


Syrien: Merkel für Friedensgespräche mit Assad - jeu, 24/09/2015 - 17:56


In die Suche nach dem Ausweg aus dem Syrienkrieg muss nach Ansicht von Bundeskanzlerin Angela Merkel der syrische Machthaber Baschar al-Assad einbezogen werden. „Es muss mit vielen Akteuren gesprochen werden, auch mit Assad“, sagte Merkel nach dem EU-Gipfel zur Flüchtlingskrise in Brüssel in der Nacht zum Donnerstag. Russland begrüßte den Vorstoß umgehend.

Die Haltung der Kanzlerin entspreche der Position von Präsident Wladimir Putin, sagte Kremlsprecher Dmitri Peskow der Agentur Interfax zufolge. Es sei „unrealistisch“, den „legitimen Präsidenten“ Syriens aus der Suche nach einer Lösung des Konflikts auszuschließen. Russland ist ein enger Partner Syriens und beliefert die Assad-Regierung mit Waffen.

Bisher lehnen insbesondere


Rücktritt der dt. Bundeskanzlerin Dr. Angela Merkel ...

Indymedia antimil - jeu, 24/09/2015 - 16:42
von: anonym am: 24.09.2015 - 16:42

Rücktritt der dt. Bundeskanzlerin Dr. Angela Merkel und sofortige Neuwahl der Bundesregierung ....... Frau Dr. Merkel handelt unverantwortlich nicht nur Deutschland gegenüber, sondern auch der EU und ganz Europa. Sie setzt Gesetze außer Kraft, ohne die Folgen zu bedenken. Sie und Ihre Regierung sind nicht mehr "Herr der Lage“ und somit weder fähig Deutschland zu regieren noch bei für die EU relevanten Belange, weitreichende Entscheidungen zu treffen. ..................................... .........................

Abschreckende Wirkung (III)

German Foreign Policy - jeu, 24/09/2015 - 00:00
(Eigener Bericht) - Die heute beim Gipfeltreffen der Bundesregierung mit den Länder-Ministerpräsidenten anstehenden Asylrechtsverschärfungen lassen eine weitere Radikalisierung des deutschen Abschieberegimes erwarten. Allein in diesem Jahr lehnte das Bundesamt für Migration und Flüchtlinge (BAMF) rund 93.500 Anträge auf Asyl als "offensichtlich unbegründet" ab; das entspricht einer Quote von mehr als 60 Prozent. Gleichzeitig wurden etwa 256.000 Neuanträge gestellt, von denen deutlich mehr als 100.000 negativ beschieden werden dürften. Um die in Deutschland ankommenden Flüchtlinge möglichst schnell außer Landes zu treiben, plant die Bundesregierung unter anderem, Abschiebungen nicht mehr anzukündigen und die Bundespolizei zu ermächtigen, Schutzsuchende direkt an der Grenze abzuweisen. Darüber hinaus sollen vermehrt Nichtregierungsorganisationen (NGOs) in die Abschiebepolitik integriert werden; ihnen ist insbesondere die Aufgabe zugedacht, Flüchtlinge zur "freiwilligen Rückkehr" in ihr Heimatland zu bewegen. Etliche Abschiebegefängnisse wurden mittlerweile gemäß den Vorgaben der geltenden Rechtsprechung "modernisiert".


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