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Hacked Emails Reveal NATO General Plotting Against Obama on Russia Policy

The Intercept - Engl. - 4 ore 7 min fa

Retired U.S. Air Force Gen. Philip Breedlove, until recently the supreme commander of NATO forces in Europe, plotted in private to overcome President Barack Obama’s reluctance to escalate military tensions with Russia over the war in Ukraine in 2014, according to apparently hacked emails from Breedlove’s Gmail account that were posted on a new website called DC Leaks.

Obama defied political pressure from hawks in Congress and the military to provide lethal assistance to the Ukrainian government, fearing that doing so would increase the bloodshed and provide Russian President Vladimir Putin with the justification for deeper incursions into the country.

Breedlove, during briefings to Congress, notably contradicted the Obama administration regarding the situation in Ukraine, leading to news stories about conflict between the general and Obama.

But the leaked emails provide an even more dramatic picture of the intense back-channel lobbying for the Obama administration to begin a proxy war with Russia in Ukraine.

In a series of messages in 2014, Breedlove sought meetings with former Secretary of State Colin Powell, asking for advice on how to pressure the Obama administration to take a more aggressive posture towards Russia.

“I may be wrong, … but I do not see this WH really ‘engaged’ by working with Europe/NATO. Frankly I think we are a ‘worry,’ … ie a threat to get the nation drug into a conflict,” Breedlove wrote  in an email to Powell, who responded by accepting an invitation to meet and discuss the dilemma. “I seek your counsel on two fronts,” Breedlove continued, “… how to frame this opportunity in a time where all eyes [sic] on ISIL all the time, … and two,… how to work this personally with the POTUS.”


Breedlove attempted to influence the administration through several channels, emailing academics and retired military officials, including former NATO supreme commander Wesley Clark, for assistance in building his case for supplying military assistance to Ukrainian forces battling Russian-backed separatists.

“I think POTUS sees us as a threat that must be minimized, … ie do not get me into a war????” Breedlove wrote in an email to Harlan Ullman, senior adviser to the Atlantic Council, describing his ongoing attempt get Powell to help him influence Obama.

“Given Obama’s instruction to you not to start a war, this may be a tough sell,” Ullman replied  a few months later, in another string of emails about Breedlove’s effort to “leverage, cajole, convince or coerce the US to react” to Russia.

Breedlove did not respond to a request for comment. He stepped down from his NATO leadership position in May and retired from service on Friday, July 1. Breedlove was  a four star Air Force general and served as the 17th Supreme Allied Commander of NATO forces in Europe starting on May 10, 2013.

Phillip Karber, an academic who corresponded regularly with Breedlove —  providing him with advice and intelligence on the Ukrainian crisis —  verified the authenticity of several of the emails in the leaked cache. He also told The Intercept that Breedlove confirmed to him that the general’s Gmail account was hacked, and that the incident had been reported to the government.

“The last conversation I had about it with General Breedlove, he said, ‘Yeah, I’ve been hacked several times,'” said Karber. He added that he noticed at least one of his personal emails appearing online from the leak before we had contacted him. “I turned this over to the U.S. government and asked them to investigate. No one has given me any answer.”

“I have no idea whose account was leaked or hacked,” said Powell, when reached for comment about the emails. Powell said he had no comment about the discussions regarding Obama’s response to the conflict in Ukraine.

In the European press, Breedlove has been portrayed as a hawkish figure known for leaning on allied nations to ditch diplomacy and to adopt a more confrontational role again Russian-backed separatists in Ukraine. Breedlove, testifying before Congress earlier in February of this year, called Russia “a long-term existential threat to the United States and to our European allies.”

Der Spiegel reported that Breedlove “stunned” German leaders with a surprise announcement in 2015 by claiming that pro-Russian separatists had “upped the ante” in eastern Ukraine with “well over a thousand combat vehicles, Russian combat forces, some of the most sophisticated air defense, battalions of artillery” sent to Donbass, a center of the conflict.

Breedlove’s numbers were “significantly higher” than the figures known to NATO intelligence agencies, and seemed exaggerated to German officials. The announcement appeared to be a provocation designed to disrupt mediation efforts led by Chancellor Angela Merkel.

In previous instances, German officials believed Breedlove overestimated Russian forces along the border with Ukraine by as much as 20,000 troops, and found that the general had falsely claimed that several Russian military assets near the Ukrainian border were part of a special build-up in preparation for a large-scale invasion of the country. In fact, much of the Russian military equipment identified by Breedlove, the Germans said, had been stored there well before the revolution in Ukraine.

The emails, however, depict a desperate search by Breedlove to build his case for escalating the conflict, contacting colleagues and friends for intelligence to illustrate the Russian threat. Karber, who visited Ukrainian politicians and officials in Kiev on several occasions, sent frequent messages to Breedlove — “per your request,” he noted — regarding information he had received about separatist military forces and Russian troop movements. In several updates, Breedlove received military data sourced from Twitter and social media.

Karber, the president of the Potomac Foundation, became the center of a related scandal last year when it was discovered that he had facilitated a meeting during which images of purported Russian forces in Ukraine were distributed to the office of Sen. James Inhofe, R-Okla., and were published by a neoconservative blog. The pictures turned out to be a deception; one supposed picture of Russian tanks in Ukraine was in fact an old photograph of Russian tanks in Ossetia during the war with Georgia.

Breedlove stayed in close contact with Karber and other officials who shared his views on the Ukrainian conflict.

“Phil, can’t we get a statement to counteract the Russians on use of force? what can I do to help? If the Ukrainians lose control of the narrative, the Russians will see it as an open door,” wrote retired Gen. Wesley Clark, who forwarded on his messages with Victoria Nuland, the Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs. He also passed along concerns from the Bulgarian president that Bulgaria might be Russia’s next target.

In other messages, Clark relayed specific requests for the types of military aide desired by Ukrainian officials. In addition to radar systems and other forms of military equipment, Clark recommended that Breedlove “encourage Ukraine to hire some first rate pr firms and crisis communications firms in US and Europe.” He added, “They need the right tools to engage in information warfare.”

Ukraine did hire several D.C. lobbying and communication firms to influence policymakers. In June 2015, the government signed a deal with APCO Worldwide, an influential firm with ties to senior Democratic and Republican officials.

In an email in February 2015, Karber told Breedlove that, “Pakistan has, under the table, offered Ukraine 500 TOW-II launchers (man-portable version) and 8,000 TOW-II missiles,” adding that deliveries of the anti-tank weapons could begin by the end of the month. “However,” Karber wrote, “Pakistan will not make these deliveries without US approval; moreover they will not even request that approval unless they have informal assurance that it would be approved.”

Karber told the Intercept that the Pakistani arms deal never materialized.

Breedlove was most recently in the news explaining that he now thinks we need to talk to the Russian government to resolve the conflict in Ukraine. “I think we need to begin to have meaningful dialogue,” he said last week, while reiterating his views on the need for a strong NATO to militarily match Russia. “Russia does understand power, and strength, and unity,” he said.

The emails were released by DC Leaks, a database run by self-described “hacktivists” who are collecting the communications of elite stakeholders such as political parties, major politicians, political campaigns, and the military. The website currently has documents revealing some internal communications of the Hillary Clinton presidential campaign and George Soros’s Open Society Foundation, among others.

Top photo: General Philip Breedlove.

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The post Hacked Emails Reveal NATO General Plotting Against Obama on Russia Policy appeared first on The Intercept.

British Conservatives in Chaos Over Brexit, but Labour Party’s in No Position to Pounce

The Intercept - Engl. - 4 ore 41 min fa

Until Thursday, the political wrangling in Britain over how, or whether, to withdraw from the European Union — a move supported by a narrow majority of the voters in last week’s referendum, but opposed by 75 percent of the members of Parliament elected just last year — seemed likely to trigger a new general election.

Although the ruling Conservative Party is not required to call an election until 2020, most political observers expected Prime Minister David Cameron to be replaced by the leader of the campaign for a British exit from the EU, Boris Johnson, who would then want a fresh mandate from the public.

That was the thinking, anyway, until an extraordinary sequence of events unfolded, starting with an announcement from Michael Gove, the Leave campaign’s ideologue, who was expected to run Johnson’s campaign to become the new leader of the Conservatives, and hence prime minister. Gove, the justice secretary, released a statement on Thursday saying that he did not think Johnson, his ally in the Leave campaign, was up for the job of running the country, and wanted to be prime minister himself.

If you don't have time for the full 'Gove and Boris' story, basically Gove is the penguin on the right

— Gaby Hinsliff (@gabyhinsliff) June 30, 2016

Gove’s surprise move undermined Johnson’s chances of winning the internal party vote to be leader, but also seemed to make it unlikely that he could succeed either, given how many bitter accusations of betrayal it prompted from fellow Conservatives.

Fury among some Boris backers. 'I'd rather vote for Pol Pot than Gove' says one new May supporter. 'Treachery' says another.

— Ben Wright (@BBCBenWright) June 30, 2016

Tory MP: Gove is f@cked. It was the most monumentally stupid thing to do. From now onwards disloyalty will be simply called 'Doing a Gove'

— Chris Ship (@chrisshipitv) June 30, 2016

With the anti-EU faction of his party suddenly split, and rumors that his candidacy was opposed by the men who run Britain’s most influential right-wing tabloids, Rupert Murdoch and Paul Dacre, Johnson turned up late for the speech in which he was expected to announce his leadership bid, and revealed that he would not take part in the race.

"That person cannot be me," @BorisJohnson rules himself out of #Toryleadership race

— BBC Breaking News (@BBCBreaking) June 30, 2016

The lobby's reaction as expressed by @SamCoatesTimes

— Andrew Alexander (@andrew_alex) June 30, 2016

Important: at Times biz summit yesterday @rupertmurdoch said he had doubts about @BorisJohnson & wished Gove would run

— Robert Peston (@Peston) June 30, 2016

On Monday @rupertmurdoch said Gove "most principled and most able” candidate & "could run a fine government”. Three days later he's running

— Nick Robinson (@bbcnickrobinson) June 30, 2016

Given that it was widely believed that Johnson had only joined the Leave campaign as a way to increase his popularity and make it more likely that he could become prime minister, this shocking turn of events earned him widespread derision online from Britons who see departure from the EU as a disaster for the country.

@BorisJohnson You spineless c$&t You lead this ludicrous campaign to leave EU. Win, and now fuc& off to let someone else clear up your mess.

— Ewan McGregor (@mcgregor_ewan) June 30, 2016

#Boris: I want a pony I want a pony I want a pony
UK: You know you'd have to muck out the stable, right?
Boris: I don't want a pony#Brexit

— Shona L Craven (@shonacraven) June 30, 2016

Boris Johnson rules himself out. What, then, was the last four months of energetic disingenuousness about?To the dustbin of history with you

— John Harris (@johnharris1969) June 30, 2016

So Boris smashed up the whole place for nothing. For nothing.

— Philip Collins (@PCollinsTimes) June 30, 2016

By Friday morning, Johnson was being heckled on the street, accused of plunging the country into chaos for his own advancement, and then dropping out of the contest to be in charge of cleaning up the mess.

Boris Johnson is doorstepped and questioned about Michael Gove and the future of Britain

— Sky News (@SkyNews) July 1, 2016

'You'll be to blame Boris mate': @BorisJohnson is heckled by a teenage Remain supporter #EURef

— ITV News (@itvnews) June 22, 2016

This somewhat farcical series of events was made all the more absurd by how strenuously Gove had previously denied having any ambition to be prime minister in interviews which instantly resurfaced on social networks.

"I'm not equipped" to be PM, "I don't want to be" PM, Michael Gove tells #wato in 2012

— BBC News (UK) (@BBCNews) June 30, 2016

"I will sign a piece of parchment in my own blood…. I don’t want to be PM” #Gove

— Les Hinton (@leshinton) June 30, 2016

Under normal circumstances, this kind of disarray inside the Conservative Party — with the resignation of a prime minister and a deep divide between the factions opposed to and in favor of EU membership — should present an opportunity for the opposition Labour Party. That party, however, has been busy with a civil war of its own.

In the aftermath of the referendum, and driven partly by speculation that there might be an election soon, about 80 percent of the party’s members of Parliament have called for their leader, Jeremy Corbyn, to step down. Corbyn, who was accused of being lukewarm about the EU, has refused — pointing out that he was chosen not by his fellow MPs, but by a clear majority of the party’s members and paying supporters in a direct election held just 10 months ago.

A poll of Labour members released on Thursday suggested that he would easily win a new vote.

Poll just now shows that against named opponents Corbyn still leads comfortably

— Matthijs Krul (@McCaineNL) June 30, 2016

The attempt to topple Corbyn, whose left-wing politics are popular with young voters and trade unions, but frighten pro-business centrists, has led to bitter recriminations and public feuding. That, in turn, has drawn attention away from the fact that the Conservative government has divided the country over the EU, plunging the economy into uncertainty and fostering anti-immigrant hysteria — all without any apparent plan for how to manage the transition out of the EU.

That infighting continued on Thursday, as Labour released a report on confronting anti-Semitism in its ranks. News coverage of the report, however, was devoted not to its recommendations but to the outraged reaction from some members of the party to remarks by Corbyn that they called anti-Semitic. “Our Jewish friends are no more responsible for the actions of Israel or the Netanyahu government,” Corbyn said, “than our Muslim friends are for those of various self-styled Islamic states or organizations.”

That comment was widely misreported as Corbyn comparing Israel to “the Islamic State,” which he denied. But when video of his statement on the report was posted on his own Twitter account later, that part of his remarks was omitted.

The Shami Chakrabarti Inquiry's report into antisemitism and all forms of racism was published yesterday

— Jeremy Corbyn MP (@jeremycorbyn) July 1, 2016

A second spat between Labour members also marred the same news conference. That confrontation began when Marc Wadsworth, a black Labour activist who supports Corbyn, distributed a press release that accused those plotting against the leader of cooperating with the “right-wing, corporate media” to smear him. Wadsworth then complained of what he called an example of such collusion at the news conference, saying that a reporter for The Telegraph, Kate McCann, had handed a copy of his statement to a Labour MP, Ruth Smeeth.

Smeeth, who is Jewish, was outraged by the accusation and stormed out of the event. In a statement she released later, Smeeth said that Wadsworth had “used traditional antisemitic slurs to attack me for being part of a ‘media conspiracy.'” She added that it was “beyond belief that someone could come to the launch of a report on antisemitism in the Labour Party and espouse such vile conspiracy theories about Jewish people, which were ironically highlighted as such in Ms. Chakrabarti’s report, while the leader of my own party stood by and did absolutely nothing.”

Wadsworth wrote later that he “had no idea that Smeeth was Jewish,” had not intended to endorse any conspiracy theory about Jewish control of the media, and had “a life-long record of fighting against racism and anti-Semitism.”

The leadership of the Labour Party is perhaps a sideshow however, distracting attention from the worrying implications of the fact that voters in many of its traditional strongholds supported British withdrawal from the EU. Although just 10 of Labour’s 229 MPs supported the Leave campaign, one study suggested that majorities in 70 percent of the areas represented by Labour in Parliament voted for withdrawal.

Writing in The Guardian this week, John Harris argued that the referendum revealed signs of “a longstanding and possibly terminal malaise” for Labour, from which the party might never recover.

As with the centre-left parties across Europe in the same predicament, Labour is a 20th-century party adrift in a new reality. Its social foundations – the unions, heavy industry, the nonconformist church, a deference to the big state that has long evaporated – are either in deep retreat or have vanished completely. Its name embodies an attachment to the supposed glories of work that no longer chimes with insecure employment and insurgent automation.

Given that level of disarray, it appears unlikely that Labour will be able to capitalize on the Conservative split over leaving the EU any time soon. An early general election is also looking less likely, as the Conservative leadership contest coalesces.

While several Conservatives have put themselves forward to compete with Gove in the party’s internal contest, which will conclude in early September, the clear frontrunner for the job is now Home Secretary Theresa May, even though she supported the campaign for Britain to remain in the EU. As a senior figure in the government elected last year, May made it clear in a speech announcing her candidacy that she would not feel the need to call a new election before 2020.

In her declaration, May pledged to respect the referendum result, saying “Brexit means Brexit: the campaign was fought, the vote was held, turnout was high and the public gave their verdict.”

"Brexit means Brexit," says Theresa May at Tory leadership campaign launch, "there must be no attempts to remain"

— Sky News (@SkyNews) June 30, 2016

She did not, however, specify what sort of arrangement Britain would seek with the remaining 27 members of the union, although it is widely expected to be something like membership of the European Economic Area, along with countries like Norway, that are not in the EU but can trade freely with the bloc in exchange for paying dues, and an agreeing to allow citizens from EU nations to live and work freely in their country.

May also said that Britain would not give formal notification of its departure from the EU, triggering a two-year time limit on negotiations over a new trade deal, until some unspecified time next year.

Although May publicly opposed leaving the EU before the referendum, she has previously worked to restrict immigration into Britain, which many voters said was their main objection to membership in the economic bloc.

Immigration. Patriotism. Muslims. People explain why they voted #Leave

— Ciaran Jenkins (@C4Ciaran) June 24, 2016

As Rebecca Glover observed in The Independent, May is far from a champion of progressive values, as her harsh rhetoric on asylum-seekers and economic migrants at last year’s Conservative Party conference made plain.

“There are people who need our help, and there are people who are abusing our good will,” May said then. “When immigration is too high, when the pace of change is too fast, it’s impossible to build a cohesive society. It’s difficult for schools and hospitals and core infrastructure like housing and transport to cope, and we know that for people in low-paid jobs, wages are forced down even further while some people are forced out of work altogether.”

Theresa May believes the free movement of people makes it "impossible to build a cohesive society." Read into that, and let it sink in.

— Miriam Brett (@MiriamBrett) June 30, 2016

Statements like those, and a promise to restrict immigration in any new deal with the EU, might reassure voters who support the formal British exit, but troubled many of those on the left of the political spectrum who see May as partly to blame for the increasing anxiety over immigration.

Can people on the left stop saying May is the best Tory candidate, she literally made a van drive round London telling immigrants to go home

— Charlotte L. Riley (@lottelydia) June 30, 2016

Never forget Theresa May's "Go Home" vans. She helped stoke the violent racism on our streets.

— Chris Coltrane (@chris_coltrane) June 30, 2016

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The post British Conservatives in Chaos Over Brexit, but Labour Party’s in No Position to Pounce appeared first on The Intercept.

Auch Bundeswehrmaschinen von Triebwerksmängeln betroffen

RIB/DAKS - 13 ore 20 min fa

Nach nur wenigen Flugstunden zeigen die Triebwerke der A400M-Transportflieger schwere Abnutzungsschäden. Zwei der drei deutschen Flieger müssen am Boden bleiben.

Die massiven Probleme mit den Triebwerken des Airbus-Militärtransporters A400M wurden schon mehrfach von uns und einer vielzahl anderer Medien thematisiert. Diesmal sind erstmals auch zwei der drei an Deutschland ausgelieferten A400M-Maschinen betroffen.

Techniker haben an den Triebwerken des Transportfliegers der Luftwaffe so gravierende Abnutzungen im Getriebe festgestellt, dass die Aggregate ausgetauscht werden mussten. Beide Maschinen dürfen vorerst nicht mehr starten.

Die Betroffenen Flugzeuge sind das 54-01 das seit Auslieferung im November 2014 insgesamt 365 Flugstunden vermerkt hat und das 54-02 das seit Auslieferung im Dezember 2016 sogar nur 189 Flugstunden vermerkt hat.

(Besagtes Flugzeug 54-02 auf der ILA2016, Foto Stephan Möhrle, RIB)

Diese Schäden deuten darauf hin das die von uns hier thematisierten Treibwerkschäden tatsächlich Designfehler seitens Airbus sind. Nachdem andere Länder bereits solche Probleme berichteten ordnete die europäische Luftfahrtaufsicht EASA an die erste Inspektion für die Propeller bereits nach 100 Flugstunden zu unternehmen. Danach muss alle 20 Flugstunden ein Check vorgenommen werden. Ein normaler Flugbetrieb oder das Training ist mit diesen Zyklen nach Angaben von Luftwaffeninsidern kaum möglich.

Was dies für den Lieferplan bedeutet, der mehrere Jahres im Verzug ist, kann bisher noch niemand sagen.

Grundlegende Neujustierung

German Foreign Policy - 20 ore 48 min fa
(Eigener Bericht) - Wenige Tage vor dem NATO-Gipfel in der polnischen Hauptstadt Warschau fordern deutsche Think-Tanks neben der Stationierung von Kampftruppen an der Grenze zu Russland den Ausbau des westlichen Atomwaffenarsenals. Eine "Überarbeitung" der "Nuklearstrategie" der NATO sei "dringend geboten", da eine gegen Moskau gerichtete "glaubwürdige Abschreckung" zwingend einer "nuklearen Komponente" bedürfe, erklärt etwa die CDU-nahe Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung. Auch die zentrale militärpolitische Denkfabrik der Bundesregierung, die Bundesakademie für Sicherheitspolitik (BAKS), verlangt nach einem "neuen nuklearstrategischen Konsens" des transatlantischen Bündnisses, um die "anti-westliche Macht" Russland in Schach zu halten. Die Implementierung eines Raketenabwehrsystems in den osteuropäischen NATO-Staaten wird ebenfalls mit der vermeintlichen "Aggressivität" Moskaus und der davon abgeleiteten Notwendigkeit der "Abschreckung" begründet. Ihre "politische Handlungsfähigkeit" gegenüber Russland stelle die westliche Militärallianz zudem dadurch unter Beweis, dass die formal neutralen Staaten Schweden und Finnland bereits "eng in die NATO-Prozesse integriert" seien, heißt es. Darüber hinaus bekennen sich beide Think-Tanks zum gewaltförmigen "globalen Krisenmanagement". Der Adenauer-Stiftung zufolge muss die NATO in der Lage sein, "Bedrohungen" überall "dort auszuschalten, wo sie entstehen". Als solche gelten der Denkfabrik explizit auch "Migrationsströme".

American Journalist in Rebel-Held Syria Reports Barely Dodging a Missile Strike

The Intercept - Engl. - Gio, 30/06/2016 - 23:32

An American journalist and documentary filmmaker reporting from Syrian-rebel controlled territory near Aleppo says he was nearly killed in what he suspects was a drone strike last Sunday. Bilal Abdul Kareem, an American citizen originally from New York, was sitting in a car with his driver outside a village of Khan Touman outside Aleppo when, he reports, a missile struck nearby their vehicle.

“We had soon drones traveling overhead about half an hour before, which is not uncommon, but there were none of the screams that you normally hear before an airstrike,” Abdul Kareem told The Intercept. “We were sitting in the car and then all of a sudden everything went black, it felt like the earth had split open and we’d fallen into it. In reality the explosion had sent the car into the air.”

A video that Abdul Kareem posted after the bombing on his YouTube channel showed the destruction to the vehicle, as well as his camera equipment. He says that this is the fourth airstrike that has nearly hit him in the past month. Given the frequency of the near-misses, Abdul Kareem believes he is being targeted. “Locals had told me that I was being targeted by someone but I hadn’t believed it before,” he says. “I just chalked it up to being in a warzone, bad things happen, but now it seems clear that someone is targeting me.”

Abdul Kareem is one of the last Western journalists covering the conflict in Syria from rebel-controlled territory. Earlier this year he helped produce a series of exclusive CNN reports from Syria with journalist Clarissa Ward. His reporting has also been featured on British outlets Channel 4 and Sky News.

Reporting from Syria has become prohibitively dangerous for most Western journalists, and even Syrians. Last week, Syrian photojournalist Khalid Eesa was killed in an IED attack against a home in Aleppo, after barely escaping an airstrike just days before. Hadi al-Abdalla, one of the most prominent citizen journalists still working in Syria today, was critically wounded in the same bombing that killed Eesa.

Abdul Kareem says that he does not know who would be targeting him, but blames the United States for creating the precedent for drone assassinations. “There are four parties using drones in this area, the U.S., UK, Russia and the Iranian groups, it could have been any one of them,” he says. “I can’t say that these were Americans that launched that drone strike, but I can tell you that the Americans started and then propagated this culture of drone strike activity. Once that culture got started it was inevitable that the Russians and the Iranians would say this is a good idea and start doing it too.”

Abdul Kareem’s reporting, much of it broadcast on his independent YouTube program Face the Truth, provides a unique perspective on the conflict in Syria. Episodes of the program have featured interviews with Syrian civilians living under government bombardment, leaders of the armed uprising and even Western foreign fighters who have joined the conflict from abroad. At great personal risk to himself, Abdul Kareem’s reporting today stands as one of the only independent sources of information about life in rebel-held areas of the country.

But the nature of his reports, which often entail meeting with armed groups, puts him at special risk.

“You feel afraid when filming an interview with an armed faction, because if its a group that Western powers don’t like they, they might take an opportunity to kill you then – knowing that people wouldn’t take up your case afterwards,” he says. “Targeting journalists is a war crime, but when you have these unmanned drones in the skies, there is no level of accountability people can do whatever they want.”

Since the outbreak of the war, the Committee to Protect Journalists has consistently ranked Syria as one of the deadliest countries in the world to be a journalist. Despite his brushes with death over the past few weeks, Abdul Kareem says he will continue to report from the country.

“The lack of journalists is really giving a skewed perspective of what’s going on in Syria. People outside these territories have been led to believe that the situation is a choice between Assad and ISIS, pick your poison, but nothing could be further from the truth,” he says.

“Being the only Western journalist here, to walk away now because of fear or because I’ve had enough, I feel that it would be the wrong thing to do.”

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Eventos importantes no Brasil expõem a fraude do impeachment de DIlma — e a corrupção de Temer

The Intercept - Engl. - Gio, 30/06/2016 - 22:40

(The English version of this article can be read by clicking here)

Desde o começo da campanha para impedir a presidente democraticamente eleita, Dilma Rousseff, a principal justificativa era de que ela havia se utilizado do artifício conhecido como “pedaladas” (“peddling”: atraso ilegal de pagamentos aos bancos estatais) para mascaras a dívida pública. Mas nesta semana, enquanto o Senado conduz o julgamento do impeachment, esta acusação foi suprimida: o relatório de peritos do Senado concluiu que “não há indício de ação direta ou indireta de Dilma” em nenhuma destas manobras orçamentárias. Como colocou a Associated Press: “Auditores independentes contratados pelo Senado brasileiro disseram em relatório divulgado na terça-feira que a presidente suspensa Dilma Rousseff não agiu na modificação da contabilidade de que foi acusada no julgamento de seu impeachment”. Em outras palavras, os próprios técnicos do Senado esvaziaram o primeiro argumento na defesa de que o impeachment era outra coisa que não um golpe.

O relatório não isenta Dilma totalmente, concluindo que Dilma abriu linhas de crédito sem a aprovação do Congresso, o que é parte do caso do impeachment. Mas foi a acusação das pedaladas que dominou todo o debate.

Se o impeachment de Dilma foi de fato motivado por seu motivo declarado – a quebra de leis – esse relatório devastador deveria interromper o percurso do impeachment. Elio Gaspari, importante colunista da Folha de São Paulo, maior jornal brasileiro, escreveu na terça-feira – sob o título “Há Golpe” – que, a luz deste novo relatório, o Impeachment de Dilma pode não ter sido um “golpe” no sentido de que teria sido realizado extrajudicialmente, mas é um golpe no sentido de que é realizado sem eleiç?es: por “estratagemas” através de “práticas ardilosas”.

Mas, é óbvio, o impeachment nunca teve algo a ver com qualquer suposta quebra de lei de Dilma – esse era apenas o pretexto para remover uma presidente democraticamente eleita por motivos ideológicos – o que explica porque a destruição da mais importante acusação contra ela sequer arranhou a dinâmica do impeachment. Mesmo o Estadão, jornal veementemente contrário a Dilma, documentou esta semana como os principais defensores do impeachment mudaram instantaneamente seu raciocínio: do argumento de que as pedaladas exigem o impeachment para o discurso de que, na verdade, isso nunca foi importante em primeiro lugar. Estas são as ações de pessoas dedicadas a um fim sem se importar com as justificativas: eles estão determinados a impedir Dilma por razões ideológicas, então a destruição do caso judicial contra ela não faz diferença.

Ainda mais significante são as crescentes evidências da enorme corrupção do substituto de Dilma, Michel Temer. Em apenas 30 dias desde que assumiu, Temer perdeu três dos seus ministros por conta da corrupção. Um deles, seu aliado extremamente próximo Romero Jucá, foi flagrado em gravação conspirando pelo impeachment de Dilma como uma maneira de estancar as investigações sobre corrupção, bem como indicando que os militares, a mídia e os tribunais estavam tomando parte na conspiração pelo impeachment.

Um informante chave nas investigações, o ex-Senador e executivo da construção civil Sergio Machado, agora disse que Temer recebeu e controlou R$ 1,5 milhão em doações ilegais de campanha, enquanto outro informante disse, na semana passada, que Temer era “beneficiário” de R$ 1 milhão em subornos. Além disso, Temer está agora impedido por uma ordem judicial de disputar qualquer eleição por 8 anos por conta de sua violação das leis eleitorais. Para lembrar: este é quem, em nome da “corrupção”, as elites brasileiras empossaram no lugar da Presidente eleita.

Enquanto isso, o partido de Temer, PMDB, é virtualmente o mais corrupto deste hemisfério. Seu Presidente da Câmara Eduardo Cunha – que presidiu o processo do impeachment – está agora suspenso pelo Supremo Tribunal, e o Conselho de Ética da Câmara acaba de votar por sua cassação uma vez que ele mentiu sobre contas bancárias na Suíça, recheadas de dinheiro de suborno, em seu nome. O mesmo executivo da construção, Machado, testemunhou que três líderes do PMDB – incluindo Jucá – receberam pagamentos num total de R$ 71,1 milhões em subornos. Ao mesmo tempo, dois aliados chave de Temer do PSDB, partido de centro-direita derrotado por Dilma em 2014 – o Ministro das Relações Exteriores de Temer, José Serra, e o oponente de Dilma em 2014, Aécio Neves – estão ambos sob investigação por corrupção.

Ate decidir apoiar o impeachment de Dilma e empoderar seus próprios líderes corruptos, o partido de Temer, o PMDB, era um importante aliado de Dilma. O partido de Dilma, o PT, tem sua própria cota de figuras corruptas. Mas o PMDB é pouco mais que uma facção oportunista de negociação voltada para os próprios interesses, que existe para lubrificar as engrenagens da corrupção e das propinas em Brasília. A ironia por trás do fato de que este partido tenha sido alçado ao poder em nome da luta contra a corrupção é grande demais para ser posta em palavras. Como afirmou o New York Times em maio, o partido de Temer é o que controlou, e agora arruinou, o Rio: “o mesmo partido que criou uma bagunça no Rio está agora gerindo o país”.

Ate decidir apoiar o impeachment de Dilma e empoderar seus próprios líderes corruptos, o PMDB era um importante aliado de Dilma. O partido de Dilma, o PT, tem sua própria cota de figuras corruptas. Mas o PMDB é pouco mais que um partido de negociação que existe para lubrificar as engrenagens da corrupção e das propinas em Brasília. A ironia por trás do fato de que este partido tenha sido alçado ao poder em nome da luta contra a corrupção é grande demais para ser posta em palavras. Como afirmou o New York Times em maio, o partido de Temer é o que controlou, e agora arruinou, o Rio: “o mesmo partido que criou uma bagunça no Rio está agora gerindo o país”.

Por mais expressivos que a corrupção de Temer e a fraude do impeachment de Dilma já fossem, dois novos eventos nesta semana vieram reforça-lo. Primeiro, Temer jantou com dois membros do Superior Tribunal Federal – o órgão que preside a investigação sobre a corrupção e o processo do impeachment. Também estiveram presentes o Ministro das Relações Exteriores, Serra, e seu aliado próximo Aécio: ambos alvos da investigação sobre corrupção. Temer está literalmente se reunindo secretamente com os próprios juízes que estão julgando o impeachment e os processos de corrupção (ao mesmo tempo em que políticos brasileiros, preparando a imposição de medidas de austeridade, estão votando por bajular estes juízes com um enorme aumento de 41% em seus salários: a austeridade não pode ficar no caminho de enriquecer os próprios juízes que decidem se você e seus amigos chegar a ser presidente ou ir para a prisão).

Segundo, ao mesmo tempo em que Temer está se reunindo em privado com estes juízes chave, reportagens revelaram que ele está trabalhando duro em um acordo para “salvar a pele” de Cunha, um dos políticos mais corruptos do país. Temer se reuniu com Cunha nesta semana. Um plano sendo ativamente discutido permitiria Cunha renunciar e então ter seu processo criminal atribuído a juízes favoráveis. Outro prevê que Cunha simplesmente renuncie à presidência da Câmara para aumentar as chances de que ele não seja expulso da mesma por completo. Pior ainda, o Globo reportou hoje que Toemer está agora trabalhado ativamente com Aécio para garantir que o sucessor de Cunha seja favorávela ele: alguém que “não trabalhe pela cassação de Eduardo Cunha”.

Basta pensar sobre o que aconteceu quando estava em jogo o controle do quinto país mais populoso (e rico em petróleo) do mundo. A presidente democraticamente eleita sofreu impeachment apesar da falta de indícios de corrupção pessoal: por políticos que estão afundados em escândalos de subornos e propinas. O principal pretexto utilizado para impedi-la acaba de ser derrubado pelo relatório dos próprios auditores independentes do Senado. E o homem marcado pela corrupção que implantaram no lugar dela – que tem atualmente uma taxa de reprovação de 70%, e quem 60% do país quer que sofra o impeachment – está agora se reunindo secretamente com os juízes cuja suposta independência, credibilidade e integridade eram o principal argumento contra a classificação deste processo de “golpe”, tudo enquanto ele conspira para salvar seu companheiro de partido enriquecido por propinas. E eles estão procedendo para impor uma agenda de direita de austeridade e privatizações que a democracia nunca permitiria.

Sejam quais forem os motivos para se livrar de Dilma, a ilegalidade e a corrupção claramente não tiveram na a ver com isso. É só olhar para o relatório divulgado esta semana pelo Senado, ou o rosto da pessoa que instalaram, para ver como essa é a verdade.

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The post Eventos importantes no Brasil expõem a fraude do impeachment de DIlma — e a corrupção de Temer appeared first on The Intercept.

Major New Brazil Events Expose the Fraud of Dilma’s Impeachment — and Temer’s Corruption

The Intercept - Engl. - Gio, 30/06/2016 - 22:37

(Para ler a versão desse artigo em Português, clique aqui.)

From the start of the campaign to impeach Brazil’s democratically elected President Dilma Rousseff, the primary justification was that she used a budget trick known as pedaladas (“peddling”: illegal delay of re-payments to state banks) to mask public debt. But this week, as the Senate conducts her impeachment trial, that accusation was obliterated: The Senate’s own expert report concluded there was “no indication of direct or indirect action by Dilma” in any such budgetary maneuvers. As the Associated Press put it: “Independent auditors hired by Brazil’s Senate said in a report released Monday that suspended President Dilma Rousseff didn’t engage in the creative accounting she was charged with at her impeachment trial.” In other words, the Senate’s own objective experts gutted the primary claim as to why impeachment was something other than a coup.

The report did not fully exonerate Dilma, finding that she did open lines of credit without congressional approval, part of the impeachment case. But it was the pedaladas charge that dominated the debate all along.

(Headline above: Dilma is under threat of impeachment because of fiscal pedaladas)

If Dilma’s impeachment were actually motivated by its stated cause — lawbreaking — this devastating report would stop impeachment in its tracks. Elio Gaspari, a leading columnist with Brazil’s largest paper, Folha de São Paulo, wrote on Tuesday — under the headline “There is a Coup” — that in light of this new report, Dilma’s impeachment may not be a “coup” in the sense that it is being achieved extra-legally, but it is now a coup in the sense that it is achieved without elections: by “plotting” through a “ruse.”

But so obviously, impeachment was never about any alleged lawbreaking by Dilma — that was just the excuse to remove a democratically elected president for ideological reasons — which is why the destruction of the primary legal charge against her has barely dented the impeachment momentum. Even the vehemently anti-Dilma paper Estadão documented how leading impeachment advocates this week instantly shifted their rationale: from claiming that pedaladas requires her impeachment to proclaiming that it was never actually important in the first place. Those are the actions of people devoted to an end without caring about the justification: They are determined to impeach Dilma for ideological reasons, so the destruction of the legal case against her makes no difference.

(Headline above: Expert report concludes that Dilma did not participate in fiscal pedaladas)

Even more significant is the growing evidence of the full-scale corruption of Dilma’s installed replacement, Michel Temer. In just over 30 days since his installation, Temer lost three of his chosen ministers to corruption. One of them, his extremely close ally Romero Jucá, was caught on tape plotting Dilma’s impeachment as a way to shut down the ongoing corruption investigation, as well as indicating that Brazil’s military, the media, and the courts were all participants in the impeachment plotting.

A key investigation informant, former senator and construction executive Sérgio Machado, has now said that Temer received and controlled 1.5 million reals in illegal campaign funds, while a separate informant last week said Temer was the “beneficiary” of 1 million reals in bribes. And Temer is now banned by a court order from running for any office for eight years due to his own violation of election laws. Remember: This is who, in the name of fighting “corruption,” Brazil’s elites installed in the place of the elected president.

Meanwhile, Temer’s political party, PMDB, is almost certainly the most corrupt in this hemisphere. Its president of the lower House, Eduardo Cunha — who presided over Dilma’s impeachment — is now suspended by the Supreme Court, and the House’s Ethics Commission just voted to expel him entirely because he lied about bribe-filled Swiss bank accounts he controls. The same construction executive, Machado, testified that three of PMBD’s key leaders — including Jucá — were paid a total of 71.1 million reals in bribes. Meanwhile, two key Temer allies from the center-right PSDB that Dilma defeated in 2014 — Temer’s Foreign Minister José Serra and Dilma’s 2014 opponent Aécio Neves — are now both targets of the corruption investigation.

Until Temer’s party, PMDB, decided to support Dilma’s impeachment and thus empower its own corrupt leaders, PMDB was a key ally of Dilma. Dilma’s party, PT, has its own healthy share of corrupt figures. But PMDB is little more than a self-serving, opportunistic transactional faction that has existed to grease the wheels of corruption and kickbacks in Brasília. The ironic joke that this is the party that has gained power and taken over in the name of anti-corruption is too extreme to put into words. As the New York Times put it in May, Temer’s party is the one that controlled, and has now ruined, Rio: “The same party that created a mess in Rio is now running the country.”

As glaring as Temer’s corruption and the fraud of Dilma’s impeachment already were, two new events this week bolster it even further. First, Temer had dinner with two members of Brazil’s Supreme Court — the body presiding over the corruption investigation and impeachment proceedings. Also attending the meeting were his Foreign Minister Serra and his close ally Aécio, both of whom are targets of that corruption probe. So Temer is literally meeting in secret with the very judges who are deciding impeachment and corruption probes (at the same time that Brazilian politicians, preparing to impose austerity measures, are voting to lavish these judges with a massive 41 percent increase in their salary; austerity can’t stand in the way of enriching the very judges who decide if you and your friends get to be president or go to prison).

Second, at the same time that Temer is privately meeting with key judges, reports have surfaced that he is working hard on an agreement to “save the skin” of Cunha, one of the country’s most corrupt politicians. Temer met at night with Cunha just this week. One plan being actively discussed would allow Cunha to resign and then have his criminal case assigned to favorable judges. Another provides that Cunha merely resign his presidency to maximize the chances that he will not be expelled from the House altogether. Worse still, O Globo today reported that Temer is now actively working with Aécio to ensure that Cunha’s successor is favorable to him: someone who “did not work for Cunha’s removal.”

Just think about what has happened when it comes to control over the world’s fifth most populous (and very oil-rich) country. The democratically elected president was impeached despite no allegations of personal corruption — by politicians who are knee-deep in bribery and kickback scandals. The primary pretext used to impeach her has just been debunked by the Senate’s own independent expert report. The corruption-plagued man they installed in her place — who currently has a 70 percent disapproval rating, and whom 60 percent of the country wants impeached — is now secretly meeting with the very judges whose supposed independence, credibility, and integrity were the prime argument against calling this a “coup,” all while he plots to save his bribery-enriched fellow party member. And while all this happens, they are blithely proceeding to impose a right-wing agenda of austerity and privatization that democracy would never allow.

Whatever the motives were for getting rid of Dilma, illegality and corruption plainly had nothing to do with it. Just look at this week’s Senate report, or the face of the person they’ve installed, to see how true that is.

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The post Major New Brazil Events Expose the Fraud of Dilma’s Impeachment — and Temer’s Corruption appeared first on The Intercept.

Former Donald Trump Adviser Calls Racial Profiling “Common Sense”

The Intercept - Engl. - Gio, 30/06/2016 - 22:17

A former adviser to Donald Trump on Wednesday endorsed racial profiling and warned that mainstream Muslim American organizations are waging a covert war of cultural subversion against the United States.

Sebastian Gorka teaches at Marine Corps University and advises law enforcement and national security officials on terrorism and irregular warfare. Last fall, he was paid $8,000 for policy consulting with the Trump campaign. On Wednesday, he spoke at the Family Research Council, a social conservative advocacy group, touting his new book Defeating Jihad: A Winnable War.

Watch the video:

Gorka boasts that he regularly advises law enforcement on ISIS and terrorism. According to the website of his company, Threat Knowledge Group, he also advises the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, the FBI, the Army, and Defense Department Special Operations Command.

On Wednesday, he wrongfully claimed that 98 percent of terrorists are Muslims. Since 9/11, right-wing extremists have killed almost twice as many Americans as Muslim terrorists have.

The Intercept asked Gorka about advising Trump. He cautioned that Trump has a “steep learning curve” on national security, but said Trump “is no fan of political correctness, he knows we are at war, and he wants to win. And my golly gosh isn’t that a refreshing attitude!”

The Family Research Council also played host to anti-Muslim speakers during the 2012 presidential election. But the 2016 race has elevated anti-Muslim conspiracy theorists to new platforms — from Gorka working as a policy consultant for the Trump campaign to a Senate hearing on Tuesday, where Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Tex., invited a witness who testified that Muslim advocacy organizations are front groups for Hamas, and that the FBI and Department of Homeland Security had been infiltrated by a “global jihadi movement.”

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The post Former Donald Trump Adviser Calls Racial Profiling “Common Sense” appeared first on The Intercept.

Secret Rules Make It Pretty Easy for the FBI to Spy on Journalists

The Intercept - Engl. - Gio, 30/06/2016 - 22:05

Secret FBI rules allow agents to obtain journalists’ phone records with approval from two internal officials — far less oversight than under normal judicial procedures.

The classified rules, obtained by The Intercept and dating from 2013, govern the FBI’s use of National Security Letters, which allow the bureau to obtain information about journalists’ calls without going to a judge or informing the news organization being targeted. They have previously been released only in heavily redacted form.

Media advocates said the documents show that the FBI imposes few constraints on itself when it bypasses the requirement to go to court and obtain subpoenas or search warrants before accessing journalists’ information.

The rules stipulate that obtaining a journalist’s records with a National Security Letter (or NSL) requires the sign-off of the FBI’s general counsel and the executive assistant director of the bureau’s National Security Branch, in addition to the regular chain of approval. Generally speaking, there are a variety of FBI officials, including the agents in charge of field offices, who can sign off that an NSL is “relevant” to a national security investigation.

There is an extra step under the rules if the NSL targets a journalist in order “to identify confidential news media sources.” In that case, the general counsel and the executive assistant director must first consult with the assistant attorney general for the Justice Department’s National Security Division.

But if the NSL is trying to identify a leaker by targeting the records of the potential source, and not the journalist, the Justice Department doesn’t need to be involved.

The guidelines also specify that the extra oversight layers do not apply if the journalist is believed to be a spy or is part of a news organization “associated with a foreign intelligence service” or “otherwise acting on behalf of a foreign power.” Unless, again, the purpose is to identify a leak, in which case, the general counsel and executive assistant director must approve the request.

“These supposed rules are incredibly weak and almost nonexistent — as long as they have that second sign-off they’re basically good to go,” said Trevor Timm, executive director of the Freedom of the Press Foundation, which has sued the Justice Department for the release of these rules. “The FBI is entirely able to go after journalists and with only one extra hoop they have to jump through.”


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A spokesperson for the FBI, Christopher Allen, declined to comment on the rules or say if they had been changed since 2013, except to say that they are “very clear” that “the FBI cannot predicate investigative activity solely on the exercise of First Amendment rights.”

The Obama administration has come under criticism for bringing a record number of leak prosecutions, and aggressively targeting journalists in the process. In 2013, after it came out that the Justice Department had secretly seized records from phone lines at the Associated Press and surveilled Fox News reporter James Rosen, then-Attorney General Eric Holder tightened the rules for when prosecutors could go after journalists. The new policies emphasized that reporters would not be prosecuted for “newsgathering activities,” and that the government would “seek evidence from or involving the news media” as a “last resort” and an “extraordinary measure.” The FBI could not label reporters as co-conspirators in order to try to identify their sources — as had happened with Rosen — and it became more difficult to get journalists’ phone records without notifying the news organization first.

Yet these changes did not apply to NSLs. Those are governed by a separate set of rules, laid out in a classified annex to the FBI’s operating manual, known as the Domestic Investigations and Operations Guide, or DIOG. The full version of that guide, including the classified annex, was last made public in redacted form in 2011.

The section of the annex on NSLs obtained by The Intercept dates from October 2013 and is marked “last updated October 2011.” It is classified as secret with an additional restriction against distribution to any non-U.S. citizens.

Emails from FBI lawyers in 2015, which were released earlier this year to the Freedom of the Press Foundation, reference an update to this portion of the DIOG, but it is not clear from the heavily redacted emails what changes were actually made.

In a January 2015 email to a number of FBI employee lists, James Baker, the general counsel of the FBI, attached the new attorney general’s policy and wrote that “with the increased focus on media issues,” the FBI and Justice Department would “continue to review the DIOG and other internal policy guides to determine if additional changes or requirements are necessary.”

“Please be mindful of these media issues,” he continued, and advised consulting with the general counsel’s office “prior to implementing any techniques targeting the media.” But the email also explicitly notes that the new guidelines do not apply to “national security tools.”

Allen, the FBI spokesperson, told The Intercept in an emailed statement that “the FBI periodically reviews and updates the DIOG as needed” and that “certainly the FBI’s DIOG remains consistent with all [Attorney General] Guidelines.”

Bruce Brown, executive director of the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, said that the “use of NSLs as a way around the protections in the guidelines is a serious concern for news organizations.”

Last week, the Reporters Committee filed a brief in support of the Freedom of the Press Foundation’s lawsuit for the FBI’s NSL rules and other documents on behalf of 37 news organizations including The Intercept’s publisher, First Look Media. (First Look also provides funding to both the Reporters Committee and the Freedom of the Press Foundation, and several Intercept staffers serve on the foundation’s board.)

Seeing the rules in their un-censored form, Timm, of the Freedom of the Press Foundation, said that the FBI should not have kept them classified.

“Redacting the fact that they need a little extra sign-off from supervisors doesn’t come close to protecting state secrets,” he said.

The FBI issues thousands of NSLs each year, including nearly 13,000 in 2015. Over the years, a series of Inspector General reports found significant problems with their use, yet the FBI is currently pushing to expand the types of information it can demand with an NSL. The scope of NSLs has long been limited to basic subscriber information and toll billing information — which number called which, when, and for how long — as well as some financial and banking records. But the FBI had made a habit of asking companies to hand over more revealing data on internet usage, which could include email header information (though not the subject lines or content of emails) and browsing history. The 2013 NSL rules for the media only mention telephone toll records.

Another controversial aspect of NSLs is that they come with a gag order preventing companies from disclosing even the fact that they’ve received one. Court challenges and legislative changes have loosened that restriction a bit, allowing companies to disclose how many NSLs they receive, in broad ranges, and in a few cases, to describe the materials the FBI had demanded of them in more detail. Earlier this month, Yahoo became the first company to release three NSLs it had received in recent years.

It’s unclear how often the FBI has used NSLs to get journalists’ records. Barton Gellman, of the Washington Post, has said that he was told his phone records had been obtained via an NSL.

The FBI could also potentially demand journalists’ information through an application to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (or FISA court), which, like NSLs, would also not be covered by the Justice Department policy. The rules for that process are still obscure. The emails about revisions to the FBI guidelines reference a “FISA portion,” but most of the discussion is redacted.

For Brown, of the Reporters Committee, the disclosure of the rules “only confirms that we need information about the actual frequency and context of NSL practice relating to newsgathering and journalists’ records to assess the effectiveness of the new guidelines.”

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The post Secret Rules Make It Pretty Easy for the FBI to Spy on Journalists appeared first on The Intercept.

Videosammlung Rigaer Straße

Linksunten Antimil - Gio, 30/06/2016 - 21:00
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The Death Penalty Is Largely Driven by a Small Number of Overzealous Prosecutors

The Intercept - Engl. - Gio, 30/06/2016 - 20:13

“Cowboy” Bob Macy was a legendary — and infamous — prosecutor in Oklahoma City. Elected the top law enforcer in his county five times, Macy, who died in 2011, was known for his wide-brimmed cowboy hat, his classic western bowtie, and carrying his gun in court. He was also known for his passionate advocacy in support of the death penalty. During his 21 years in office, Macy was personally responsible for sending 54 individuals to death row, an accomplishment that earned him the dubious distinction of deadliest prosecutor in America.

Also part of Macy’s legacy was the high rate of misconduct allegations levied against him — misconduct was alleged in 94 percent of the death cases he prosecuted and substantiated in one-third of them. Courts overturned nearly half of the death convictions Macy obtained; three of those defendants were ultimately exonerated.

The numbers paint a grim portrait of a prosecutor who once told members of a jury it was their “patriotic duty” to sentence a defendant to death. But Macy isn’t alone. He belongs to a small club of five so-called deadliest prosecutors identified in a new report released today by Harvard Law School’s Fair Punishment Project. Together, the five prosecutors, only one of whom is still in office, secured 440 capital convictions — the equivalent of 15 percent of the nation’s current death row population.

In July 1976, the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Gregg v. Georgia reauthorized the use of capital punishment, ushering in the modern death penalty era. The Gregg ruling offered a promise that the death penalty’s previously arbitrary and capricious nature, which contributed to the court’s 1972 decision in Furman v. Georgia to issue a moratorium on its use, could be reined in.

Forty years after Gregg, the FPP report demonstrates that the death penalty is largely driven by a small number of overzealous, often ethically tainted prosecutors in just a handful of jurisdictions across the United States — suggesting the ruling has failed to deliver on its promise.

Furman got rid of the death penalty because of the disparities [in its application], and one of the ostensible reasons for allowing reinstatement in 1976 was that states would make its use more routinized, or at least more objective,” Daniel Medwed, a professor at Northeastern University School of Law who studies the role prosecutors play in securing wrongful convictions, told The Intercept. “And what this report says is that the promise of Gregg is unfulfilled; that it was a failure.”

In addition to Macy, the FPP report examines two prosecutors who each personally secured more than 35 capital convictions, and two more whose offices secured a combined 309 death sentences under their leadership. All five had allegations of significant prosecutorial misconduct leveled against them in connection to these cases.

In Robeson County, North Carolina, Joe Britt obtained 38 death sentences from 1974 to 1988. Courts later determined that Britt had engaged in misconduct in 14 of those cases, and two defendants were eventually exonerated.

Donald Myers, the top prosecutor in Lexington, South Carolina, is the only sitting prosecutor among the five profiled in the report. Myers has won 39 capital convictions since he began serving in 1977; misconduct was uncovered in nearly half of those cases.

In the 19 years that Lynn Abraham, also known as “Queen Death,” oversaw the Philadelphia County district attorney’s office, prosecutors secured a staggering 108 death sentences — second only to the 201 obtained in Houston, Texas, under the 21-year leadership of Johnny Holmes. Harris County, where Houston is located, has long been the single largest supplier of inmates to Texas’s death row.

Taken together, the report states, the prosecutors’ records “demonstrate that the death penalty has been, and continues to be, a personality-driven system with very few safeguards against misconduct and frequent abuse of power, a fact that seriously undermines its legitimacy.”

In an email to The Intercept, Robert J. Smith, a legal fellow at Harvard Law School and one of the report’s researchers, noted that the “fact that a few outlier personalities account for so many death sentences across the entire modern era of capital punishment, and that when those people leave the sentences tend to drop off dramatically, further bolsters the evidence that the vast majority of prosecutors and jurors reject the death penalty in practice.”

Since District Attorney R. Seth Williams, who previously worked for Abraham, took over her post in 2010, death sentences in Philadelphia County have declined dramatically, Smith points out. “The people of Philadelphia did not change in like a two-month period,” he said, emphasizing the heavy influence of personalities at the top in decisions to pursue death sentences.

Nationally, the number of new death sentences has declined in recent years. While four of the five prosecutors included in the report have left their posts, the authors note that “a small group of individuals continue to drive up the total number of death sentences nationwide, which contributes to a misperception that the death penalty is a common practice, when in reality, most of America’s prosecutors have abandoned it.”

According to the Death Penalty Information Center, just 2 percent of the country’s more than 3,000 counties are responsible for the majority of defendants on death row. That troubles Medwed, who argues that a capital punishment system driven by personality cannot stand “because the promise of Gregg was that … states have to set up systems that are checks against arbitrary and discriminatory application of the death penalty.” That was supposedly accomplished by only allowing pursuit of the death penalty where certain aggravating factors were present and certain mitigating circumstances could be weighed.

“But the reality is that prosecutors who want to seek death will find those aggravating factors,” Medwed said. “It continues to be [a] subjective, not objective [system] and is in the hands of individuals who have political axes to grind, or ideological bents,” he added. “It’s mind-boggling. As if all the cases of botched executions and innocence haven’t done enough to propel the abolition movement forward, this should do it — or I would hope this should do it.”

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The post The Death Penalty Is Largely Driven by a Small Number of Overzealous Prosecutors appeared first on The Intercept.

Donald Trump Doesn’t Seem to Understand What Rape Is

The Intercept - Engl. - Gio, 30/06/2016 - 19:33

Donald Trump likened backers of international trade agreements to rapists on Tuesday. “The Trans-Pacific Partnership is another disaster done and pushed by special interests who want to rape our country, just a continuing rape of our country,” he said. “That’s what it is, too. It’s a harsh word: It’s a rape of our country.”

It wasn’t the first time he’d used the word that way. He accused China of rape last month: “We can’t continue to allow China to rape our country,” he said. “And that’s what they’re doing. It’s the greatest theft in the history of the world.”

But looking at how Trump uses the word rape, and whom he accuses of it, reveals a pattern. He uses it to demonize his political targets. At the same time, he seems to lack empathy or understanding of what rape actually is.

“They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists,” he said last year about Mexican  immigrants. He defended the statement by citing a Fusion report that an estimated 80 percent of Central American women coming across the border are raped. “I use the word rape and all of a sudden everyone goes crazy,” he said last July.

“Donald Trump has no problem throwing the word out,” said Lisa Bloom, a civil rights attorney. “I think he lacks seriousness when he uses the word. I think that’s offensive to rape victims and to women.”

Back in 1989, when five New York teenagers — four African-American and one Hispanic — were accused of beating and raping a white woman jogging in Central Park, Trump launched a massive PR campaign against them. He called them “crazed misfits.” They were in the park “wilding,” he said. He took out newspaper advertisements advocating for the death penalty to be used on the boys, all of whom turned out to be innocent.

When alleged rapists are members of a group Trump likes, however, he is more sympathetic. In 2013, in response to the Pentagon’s annual report on sexual assault, he tweeted: “26,000 unreported sexual assults [sic] in the military-only 238 convictions. What did these geniuses expect when they put men & women together?”

Trump has gleefully brought up the various unproven allegations of sexual assault against Bill Clinton, at one point asserting that the former president was guilty of rape and calling Hillary Clinton an “enabler.” “She was an unbelievably nasty, mean enabler, and what she did to a lot of those women is disgraceful.”

Trump himself has been accused of rape and sexual assault, although none of the accusations has ever been proven. One accuser dropped her 1997 federal lawsuit. Another lawsuit, alleging that in 1994 Trump raped a 13-year-old, was filed last week. Trump’s ex-wife Ivana accused him of rape, though she later said it was “not in a literal or criminal sense.” The two divorced over Trump’s “cruel and inhuman treatment” of his wife.

Bloom has called those allegations credible. “I think anybody would consider it important if someone had been accused — in his case three times — of rape or attempted rape, and all of them in the context of court proceedings,” she said.

When Ivana Trump’s accusations resurfaced last year, Trump Organization special counsel Michael Cohen was dismissive: “You’re talking about the frontrunner for the GOP, presidential candidate, as well as a private individual who never raped anybody. And, of course, understand that by the very definition, you can’t rape your spouse,” he said. That is not true, and he later apologized.

When Trump’s friend Mike Tyson was convicted of rape in 1992, Trump proposed that he should be allowed to pay millions of dollars to rape victims instead of going to jail.

Trump has denied reports this week that Tyson was invited to speak at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland. One person who will be there, though, according to Bloomberg, is former Indiana University basketball coach Bobby Knight, who once said: “’I think that if rape is inevitable, relax and enjoy it.”

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Globo ataca policiais em protesto para proteger seus lucros com as Olimpíadas

The Intercept - Engl. - Gio, 30/06/2016 - 18:53

(Read the English version of this article here.)

Policiais e bombeiros do Rio de Janeiro que protestam contra a falta de pagamento com a chegada das Olimpíadas estão se comportando de forma “eticamente condenável” “em ações que beiram o terrorismo”, de acordo com o editorial de quarta-feira do maior jornal do Rio, O Globo. O jornal, propriedade do Grupo Globo, que pertence e é controlado pelos bilionários da família Marinho, é o conglomerado midiático dominante no Brasil, além de ser o principal patrocinador e beneficiário das Olimpíadas de 2016.

Ao atacar a polícia, o jornal não criticou a epidemia de assassinatos de jovens negros cometidos pela polícia, nem a ocupação militar em diversas favelas do Rio que fracassou na tentativa de melhorar a segurança pública, nem as milícias, quadrilhas criminosas formadas por policiais fora de serviço e ex-policiais, que controlam de forma violenta e praticam extorsões em diversas áreas da cidade. Em vez disso, a indignação do jornal foi dirigida aos servidores públicos que protestam de forma pacífica por um direito trabalhista fundamental – o recebimento de salários – em uma manifestação que acaba por ameaçar os interesses corporativos milionários de O Globo. Fato não revelado pelo jornal a seus leitores.

Foto: Imgur

“Bem-vindo ao inferno. Policiais e bombeiros não recebem. Quem vem ao Rio de Janeiro não está seguro”, dizia em inglês a faixa carregada por policiais insatisfeitos no aeroporto internacional do Rio na segunda-feira, apenas algumas semanas antes da cerimônia de abertura dos jogos. O Estado do Rio de Janeiro, após desperdiçar bilhões em isenções fiscais generosas e contratos de construção superfaturados com empresas notoriamente corruptas para as Olimpíadas, declarou estado de calamidade pública, sendo forçado a cortar benefícios, atrasar salários e pensões de servidores públicos e cortar o orçamento operacional. Há meses, policiais e bombeiros encontram-se em conflito com o Estado por conta das defasagens no orçamento. O sindicato estadual dos professores está em greve há quase quatro meses.

Na semana passada, o governo federal anunciou uma injeção emergencial de 2,9 bilhões de reais para ajudar a remediar o problema. No entanto, as unidades de polícia operam com falta de gasolina, tinta de impressora, papel higiênico e até água, enquanto a violência chega a níveis fora do controle. Até agora, cinquenta e nove policiais foram assassinados no estado neste ano e partes da capital lembram zonas de guerra de baixa intensidade, enquanto policiais mal treinados e equipados enfrentam quadrilhas criminosas fortemente armadas em tiroteios. Policiais insatisfeitos, com o apoio de seus líderes, ameaçam entrar em greve durante as Olimpíadas, se não receberem seus salários.

“Jogar contra a Rio-2016 é opção irresponsável e contraproducente”, disse O Globo, insinuando que os policiais têm motivações políticas e são patrocinados por sindicatos (em clara alusão ao Partido dos Trabalhadores — que recebe apoio dos sindicatos — da presidente suspensa Dilma Rousseff, contra quem O Globo e suas filiais vem realizando uma campanha veemente). “Mas isso deve ser feito no âmbito doméstico, dentro da esfera apropriada — nunca por meio de chantagens contra um evento que trará benefícios às próprias finanças estaduais”, continuou.

Porém, o contundente editorial não menciona que o Globo é um dos grandes intervenientes dos Jogos Olímpicos, com enormes investimentos em jogo: sua empresa controladora, o enorme império midiático Grupo Globo, é fornecedor e patrocinador oficial das Olimpíadas de 2016, ao lado de outras duas emissoras, e pagou ao Comitê Olímpico Internacional 190 milhões de dólares pelos direitos de transmissão em rede nacional e on-line dos Jogos de Inverno de 2014 e das Olimpíadas de 2016. Além disso, o Grupo Globo possui um contrato de transmissão exclusiva de 2016 a 2032 por uma quantia não revelada.

De acordo com a AdAge, a Rede Globo recebeu 420 milhões de dólares pela venda de pacotes para as Olimpíadas “que incluem um número elevado de anúncios e menções em televisão e na” de outros patrocinadores oficiais, como Coca-Cola, Procter & Gamble, Bradesco e Claro.

Manifestantes mostram faixa com os dizeres “Olimpíadas pra quem?” próximos a um policial durante protesto contra os Jogos Olímpicos de 2016 no Rio de Janeiro, Brasil, em 5 de agosto de 2015.

Foto: Tasso Marcelo/AFP/Getty Images

“O editorial aponta a “irresponsabilidade” de “jogar contra” os Jogos Olímpicos, como se todos devêssemos nos orgulhar de sediar um evento que supostamente beneficiará indistintamente os cidadãos”, disse à The Intercept Sylvia Moretzsohn, professora de jornalismo da Universidade Federal Fluminense. “É a velha artimanha de sempre: falar em nome do interesse geral para apagar a existência de interesses muito particulares”, concluiu a professora.

A divulgação de conflitos de interesse – reais ou aparentes – é um princípio fundamental da ética jornalística.

No ano passado, o Grupo Globo, maior conglomerado midiático da América Latina, alcançou uma renda bruta de 16 bilhões de reais, lucrando 3 bilhões de reais. Estima-se que cada um dos três irmãos que controlam o grupo estão avaliados em 5,2 bilhões de dólares líquidos. O salário de um policial iniciante da Polícia Militar do Rio de Janeiro é de pouco mais de R$ 2.726; um policial civil recebe pouco menos de R$ 4.190 por mês.

O Globo e sua empresa controladora não responderam aos pedidos de comentário da The Intercept.

“Não é de hoje que O Globo substituiu o jornalismo pela propaganda”, acrescenta Moretzsohn. “Mas eu reconheço que é difícil fazer propaganda quando o país passa por sua maior crise política desde o fim da ditadura, e que vem sendo acompanhada de perto pela imprensa estrangeira.”


Tradução por: Inacio Vieira

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The post Globo ataca policiais em protesto para proteger seus lucros com as Olimpíadas appeared first on The Intercept.

Gerichtsurteil: Kopftuchverbot für Jurareferendarinnen unzulässig - Gio, 30/06/2016 - 18:00


Das Augsburger Verwaltungsgericht hat das Kopftuchverbot für Rechtsreferendarinnen in Bayern für unzulässig erklärt. Das Gericht gab am Donnerstag einer muslimischen Jura-Studentin recht, die seit 2014 im sogenannten Vorbereitungsdienst bei der Justiz ist und dabei eine Auflage erhalten hatte, wonach sie bei Auftritten mit Außenwirkung kein Kopftuch tragen dürfe (Aktenzeichen: Au 2 K 15.457). Bayern kündigte umgehend Berufung an.

Das Münchner Oberlandesgericht, das die Frau eingestellt hatte, hatte sich bei der Auflage an einer Verordnung des bayerischen Justizministeriums von 2008 orientiert. Danach müssen Referendarinnen beispielsweise im Gerichtssaal oder bei Zeugenvernehmungen auf ihr Kopftuch verzichten. Die Augsburger Richter bemängelten nun, dass es für


Cameron-Nachfolge: Boris Johnson kneift - Gio, 30/06/2016 - 18:00


Der ehemalige Londoner Bürgermeister Boris Johnson bewirbt sich völlig überraschend nicht um die Nachfolge des scheidenden Premierministers David Cameron. Der als Favorit gehandelte Brexit-Wortführer kündigte am Donnerstag an, nicht bei der Wahl zum Vorsitzenden der konservativen Tories anzutreten. Damit wird er auch nicht der nächste Premierminister Großbritanniens.

Weniger als eine halbe Stunde vor Ablauf der Bewerbungsfrist für die Wahl des Tory-Vorsitzenden trat Johnson in London mit ernster Miene vor die Kameras. Bis dahin hatte kaum jemand damit gerechnet, dass er verzichten könnte. Dann die große Überraschung: Der künftige Premierminister habe große Herausforderungen zu bewältigen, sagte Johnson und fügte hinzu: „Ich bin


Official Tally of Wiretaps Belies Government Scare Stories About Encryption

The Intercept - Engl. - Gio, 30/06/2016 - 17:47

Despite Obama administration claims that encryption is increasingly obstructing law enforcement investigations, the authoritative annual Wiretap Report from the Administrative Office of U.S. Courts released on Thursday found that encryption was less of a problem in 2015 than the year before.

The report’s figures include all court-ordered wiretaps, but not those conducted without a warrant for “foreign intelligence” purposes by the National Security Agency and others.

Despite a 21 percent increase in wiretaps authorized by state courts overall between 2014 and 2015, the number of cases where law enforcement encountered encryption decreased from 22 to seven.

And out of 1,403 wiretaps authorized by federal judges, only six encountered encrypted communication. Two of those were decrypted by law enforcement, leaving only four that could not be deciphered.

In 2014, federal wiretaps encountered four encrypted communications, three of which could not be deciphered. (The 2014 figures include one 2014 wiretap that was not reported to the courts until 2015.)

That means that in 2015, out of 4,148 total wiretaps, only 11 encountered a form of encryption law enforcement could not break. That’s about one quarter of one percent.

Obama administration officials have been seeking ways to subvert end-to-end encryption, most notably CIA Director John Brennan, Attorney General Loretta Lynch, and FBI Director James Comey. Comey has argued that encryption has “eroded [the FBI’s] ability to obtain electronic information and evidence pursuant to a court order.” Comey has also lobbied Silicon Valley companies to put backdoors into encryption, and pushed Congress to adopt an encryption ban.

Administration officials also wrongly blamed encryption for terrorist attacks in Paris, San Bernardino, and Brussels, before evidence even emerged about terrorists’ online behaviors.

The 2015 Wiretap report also notes that judges denied none of the 4,148 wiretap orders sought by police — revealing an overwhelming deference to law enforcement on the part of courts.

Top Photo: Network cables are plugged in a server room in New York City, in 2014.

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Brazil’s Globo Attacks Protesting Cops to Protect Its Olympics Payday

The Intercept - Engl. - Gio, 30/06/2016 - 16:38

(A versão desse artigo em Português será publicada em breve.)

Police officers and firefighters in Rio de Janeiro protesting their lack of pay as the Olympics approaches are engaged in “ethically reprehensible” actions “bordering on terrorism,” according to an editorial on Wednesday in Rio de Janeiro’s largest newspaper, O Globo. The newspaper, a property of Grupo Globo, which is owned and controlled by the billionaire Marinho family, is Brazil’s dominant media conglomerate and a primary sponsor and beneficiary of the 2016 Summer Olympics.

In attacking the police, the paper was not criticizing the epidemic of police killings of black and brown youth, nor the militarized occupation of many of Rio’s slums that has failed to improve public security, nor the criminal gangs of off-duty and former officers, known as milícias, that violently control and extort vast swaths of the city. Instead, Globo’s indignation was targeted at public servants non-violently demonstrating for a basic worker’s right — being paid — as part of a protest that happens to threaten Globo’s own business interests worth hundreds of millions of dollars, a fact the paper neglected to disclose to its readers.

“Welcome to Hell. Police and firefighters don’t get paid; Whoever comes to Rio de Janeiro will not be safe,” read a sign in English held by disgruntled police officers in Rio’s international airport on Monday, just weeks before the opening ceremony of the 2016 Olympics. The state of Rio, after wasting billions on lavish corporate tax breaks and delayed, over-budget Olympic construction contracts with notoriously corrupt firms, has declared a financial emergency, forcing it to cut benefits, postpone paying salaries and pensions to public workers and slash operating budgets. Police and firefighters have for months been in conflict with the state over budget shortfalls. The state’s teachers union has been on strike for nearly four months.

Last week, the federal government announced an emergency cash injection of $890 million (R$2.9 billion) to help staunch the bleeding. Meanwhile, police units are running shortages on gasoline, printer ink, toilet paper and even water while violence surges out of control. Fifty-nine police officers have been killed in the state so far this year and parts of the capital resemble low-intensity war zones as poorly trained, under-equipped police engage heavily armed criminal gangs in daily shootouts. Fed-up police officers, with support from their leadership, are threatening to go on strike during the Olympics if they do not get paid.

Demonstrators hold a banner reading “Olympics for whom?” next to a policeman during a protest against the Rio 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil on August 5, 2015.

Photo: Tasso Marcelo/AFP/Getty Images

“To play against Rio-2016 is the irresponsible and counterproductive option,” wrote O Globo. while suggesting the police were politically motivated and “sponsored” by unions (a clear allusion to the union-backed Workers’ Party of suspended president Dilma Rousseff, against which all major Globo outlets have vociferously campaigned). “This should be handled domestically, within the appropriate sphere — never through blackmail against an event that will bring benefits to the state’s finances.”

What the scathing editorial fails to mention, however, is that O Globo is a major player in the Olympic Games, with a huge investment on the line: its parent company, the sprawling Grupo Globo media empire, is an official supplier and an official sponsor of the 2016 Olympics and, along with two other networks, and it paid the International Olympic Committee $190 million for nationwide television broadcast and streaming rights to the 2014 and 2016 Games. Globo has an additional exclusive broadcast contract for 2016 through 2032 for an undisclosed amount.

According to AdAge, the Globo network has sold $420 million in Olympics packages “that includes a vast number of ads and mentions on TV and” to other official sponsors like Coca-Cola, Procter & Gamble, Bradesco bank and the wireless telecom company Claro.

“The editorial calls it ‘irresponsible’ to ‘play against’ the Olympic Games, as if we should all be proud to host an event that supposedly benefits all citizens indiscriminately,” Sylvia Moretzsohn, a journalism professor at the Universidade Federal Fluminense, told The Intercept. “It is the same old trick: speak in the general interest to erase the existence of very particular interests,” she continued.

Disclosure of conflicts of interest — real or perceived — is a basic principle of journalistic ethics.

Last year, Grupo Globo, Latin America’s largest media conglomerate, saw gross revenues of nearly $5 billion (R$16 billion) and banked just under $1 billion (R$3 billion) in profit. Each of the three Marinho brothers who control it has an estimated net worth of $5.2 billion. The salary of a new recruit in Rio’s military police amounts to a little more than $800 a month (R$2,726); a civil police investigator’s salary is slightly less than $1,300 (R$4,190) a month.

O Globo and its parent company did not respond to The Intercept’s request for comment.

“This is not the first time that O Globo replaced journalism with propaganda,” notes Moretzsohn. “But I recognize that it is difficult to create propaganda when the country is going through its biggest political crisis since the end of dictatorship, and is being closely monitored by the foreign press.”

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