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Vom Nutzen des Jihad (II)

German Foreign Policy - Gio, 28/05/2015 - 00:00
(Eigener Bericht) - Die Nutzung jihadistischer Kräfte durch den Westen, die ein aktuelles US-Geheimdienstpapier mit der Entstehung des "Islamischen Staats" (IS) in Verbindung bringt, hat eine jahrzehntelange Tradition und dauert bis in die Gegenwart an. Dies zeigen ein Rückblick auf den Afghanistan-Krieg der 1980er Jahre sowie eine Analyse des westlichen Machtkampfs gegen Iran vor allem seit 2003. Unterstützten die Staaten des Westens in Kooperation mit Saudi-Arabien in den 1980er Jahren die Jihadisten um Usama bin Ladin, um den sowjetischen Streitkräften am Hindukusch eine Niederlage zu bereiten, so fördern sie seit mindestens zehn Jahren punktuell erneut arabische "Gotteskrieger", um wichtige Verbündete Irans zu schwächen. Diese Maßnahmen, die parallel zum offiziellen "Anti-Terror-Krieg" erfolgen, seien ein "Unternehmen mit sehr hohem Risiko", warnen US-Geheimdienstler. Eine zentrale Rolle in der Jihadisten-Unterstützung spielt mit Saudi-Arabien einer der zentralen Verbündeten Deutschlands in der arabischen Welt.

U.S. Border Questionnaire: Is Anyone in Your Family a “Martyr”

The Intercept - Engl. - 55 min 40 sec fa

“Have you participated in any formal religious training or schooling?”

“What house of worship do you attend?”

“Do you have any relatives or friends who have been martyred fighting in the defense of your beliefs?”

If you’re a Muslim-American, these are some of the questions you might hear from Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials while at a port of entry crossing back into the United States. The questions are contained in a heavily-redacted ICE questionnaire released last month by the Department of Homeland Security in response to an ongoing lawsuit filed by the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR). The suit, filed in 2012 on behalf of four American citizens who say they were detained, subjected to body searches and questioned aggressively about their religious beliefs while attempting to cross the U.S-Canada border, alleges that border officials engaged in unconstitutional profiling intended to humiliate and stigmatize them at the border over their religious beliefs.

In a declaration accompanying the release of the redacted document, Derek Benner, Deputy Executive Associate Director of Homeland Security Investigations for ICE, wrote that the purpose of the questionnaire is “to provide guidance to special agents who are called upon to conduct a certain type of investigatory review of persons.”

ICE is now fighting to keep the full questionnaire, as well as training documents used to instruct border officials on how to conduct such interrogations, shielded from public view. Last week, the plaintiffs in the lawsuit filed a motion contesting the government’s ongoing effort to keep the documents under seal, arguing that the concealed portions of the questionnaire are “clearly relevant to contextualizing the document and discovering information related to the apparent ICE policy of conducting religious questioning [of] Muslim travelers.”

Unredacted sections of the questionnaire include questions about “martyrdom” as well as religious education and practice.

“There is very obviously a concerted effort to question and intimidate Muslim-Americans based on their religious beliefs,” said Gadeir Abbas, one of the attorneys representing the plaintiffs in the case. “The types of questions specifically asked of Muslim travelers at borders across the country are far too consistent for there to not be some type of overarching framework and direction being used to target them.”

DHS is fighting to keep the remainder of the document secret by invoking law enforcement privilege, saying that release of the remainder of the document would “reveal the purpose and investigative reasons for the interviews in which the questionnaire was used.”

ICE has asserted that the questions are religiously neutral in nature and are not specifically targeted towards Muslims. However, there have been longstanding allegations that Muslim-Americans have been targeted for invasive religious questioning at border crossings while attempting to return to the United States.

In 2011, one of the plaintiffs in the profiling lawsuit, Kheireddine Bouzid, then a 22-year old high school teacher from Detroit, was detained while crossing back into the United States from Canada. Border agents handcuffed Bouzid, before proceeding to question him for hours about his religious beliefs, mosque attendance and whether he was involved with any Muslim advocacy organizations. At one point, an agent asked him “whether he has ever felt like killing a non-Muslim.”

Bouzid was eventually released without explanation, but says that such aggressive questioning has long been the norm for him whenever he returns to the United States at any border crossing.

Several other Muslim-American complainants who wished to remain anonymous have also come forward to state that, in recent years, they have been detained and questioned at U.S. border crossings about whether and how often they pray, what mosque they attend, and their views on Islamic eschatological beliefs. In one case, a religious leader from Detroit claimed to have been questioned at length by border agents about the Shia Muslim belief in the mahdi (messiah), including being asked his opinion about when the mahdi could be expected to return to earth and whether the mahdi had been born yet.

In 2014, then-Attorney General Eric Holder announced new rules to curb racial and religious profiling by federal law enforcement agents. However the new measures conspicuously did not cover major Department of Homeland Security agencies such as Customs and Border Protection (CBP), the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), and ICE.

ICE declined a request to comment on the questionnaire and their use of religious profiling at borders, citing ongoing litigation.

“Asking Muslim-Americans questions about ‘martyrs’ in their family when they’re crossing the border doesn’t serve any constructive purpose, especially when there’s not even a clear definition of what the word means,” said Dawud Walid of CAIR. “These types of questions not only infringe on American citizens’ constitutional rights, they serve no practical purpose other than scaring people or intimidating them on the grounds of their religious identity.”

Photo: David Duprey/AP

The post U.S. Border Questionnaire: Is Anyone in Your Family a “Martyr” appeared first on The Intercept.

TSA Body Scanner Lobbyist Takes Congressional Job Overseeing Spending on TSA Security

The Intercept - Engl. - 1 ora 22 min fa

Rapiscan Systems lobbied aggressively to win a major contract with the Transportation Security Administration to provide X-ray body scanners at airports, only to lose the contract in 2013 after the company failed to deliver software to protect the privacy of passengers.

Rapiscan now has a friend on the inside.

Earlier this month, Rapiscan lobbyist Christopher Romig took a job with the House Appropriations Committee’s Homeland Security Subcommittee, which oversees the TSA budget.

During the previous push for a TSA contract, Rapiscan employed Michael Chertoff, former Secretary of Homeland Security, who now works as a pundit and a homeland security industry consultant through his firm the Chertoff Group. According to the Huffington Post, Rapiscan previously spent as much as $271,500 on lobbying per year to help secure business with the TSA.

Romig’s shift through the revolving door was first noted by Legistorm.

In his last lobbying filing statement, Romig disclosed that he lobbied Congress on “aviation, port and border security,” as well as the “budget and appropriation.” All areas he will now supervise as a professional staff member.

(This post is from our blog: Unofficial Sources.)

Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty 

The post TSA Body Scanner Lobbyist Takes Congressional Job Overseeing Spending on TSA Security appeared first on The Intercept.

First Look Media Publishes Warrant “Canary,” Releases Software for Managing Canaries

The Intercept - Engl. - 1 ora 26 min fa

Today The Intercept‘s parent company First Look Media published a warrant “canary” — a statement that attempts to assure readers that the company has not been compelled to comply with a secret government order like a National Security Letter.

In addition to this, First Look is publishing AutoCanary: Simple, free, open-source software to easily create and manage warrant canaries.

Our warrant canary lets the public know that we have not received a secret subpoena, warrant or other legal compulsion that we are prohibited from disclosing. In the event the company is issued such a legal process, our plan is to not renew the canary statement.

Gag orders can be issued to service providers to forbid them from informing users that their information has been requisitioned. For instance, in 2011, Google started a four-year legal battle with the U.S. government over a gag order which prevented the company from notifying members of Wikileaks that their emails were requested by the U.S. government.

While the government may be able to compel silence about legal processes through a gag order, it’s much more difficult to argue that it can compel a service provider to falsely state that it has not received legal process when, in fact, it has. The proposition behind a warrant canary is that you shouldn’t be forced to sign a document that you know to be untrue. Hence, if a National Security Letter or other gag order is served, the recipient would simply allow their canary to expire — to stop chirping, if you will — rather than sign a document that has become false.

In 2013, Apple became the best-known organization to publish a canary when it included such a statement in its transparency report. In 2014, it was reported that the canary statement was missing from Apple’s transparency reports covering July–December 2013 and January–June 2014. A variety of organizations have either published warrant canaries or included canary-style language in their transparency reports. A list of such organizations is kept on the Canary Watch website and includes Silent Circle, which makes software for encrypted phone calls; Tumblr, the blog publishing brand owned by Yahoo; the online community Reddit; the Medium publishing platform; Cloudflare, which accelerates the delivery of web content; and Pinterest, a product-centric social network.

To this date, First Look Media has not received any legal process that includes a gag order. Today, we publish our warrant canary affirming this for the month of April, 2015. Our canary will be updated on the first week of each month to cover the previous month. In order to simplify our process, we wrote AutoCanary, which you can download from our new First Look Code website.

There is no public record of a warrant canary ever being tested in court. You should consult a lawyer to discuss the benefits and hazards before you decide whether publishing a warrant canary is a good course for your service.

The post First Look Media Publishes Warrant “Canary,” Releases Software for Managing Canaries appeared first on The Intercept.

First Look Publishes Open Source Code To Advance Privacy, Security, and Journalism

The Intercept - Engl. - 1 ora 26 min fa

The Intercept and its publisher First Look Media strongly believe in the benefits of free and open source software — in part because we rely on such software every day. To keep our journalists and sources safe, we use secure communication tools like the data-encryption system GnuPG, the Off-the-Record secure messaging protocol, the SecureDrop communications platform, and the secure calling and texting app Signal. To publish on the web, we use the GNU/Linux operating system; the Apache web server; OpenSSL, a web encryption library; WordPress, the open-source blogging engine; and Piwik, which tracks web traffic. The list goes on.

We greatly appreciate the hard work of developers who give away their code to benefit the internet and the world. And today we’re excited to contribute back to the open source community by launching First Look Code, the home for our own open source projects related to privacy, security, data, and journalism. To begin with, First Look Code is the new home for document sanitization software PDF Redact Tools, and we’ve launched a brand new anti-gag order project called AutoCanary.

PDF Redact Tools

When The Intercept first launched, part of my job involved redacting documents from NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden before publishing them. Because we didn’t want to inadvertantly publish sensitive information we’d intended to redact — as no less cautious an institution than The New York Times once did — I developed PDF Redact Tools, a simple command-line program for Mac OS X and Linux that helps with redacting, stripping metadata, and sanitizing PDFs in preparation for publishing.

Read more about PDF Redact Tools on its new website.


A warrant canary is a regularly published statement that a company hasn’t received any legal orders that it’s not allowed to talk about, such as a national security letter.

Canaries can help prevent web publishers from misleading visitors and prevent tech companies from misleading users when they share data with the government and are prevented from talking about it. One such situation arose — without a canary in place — in 2013, when the U.S. government sent Lavabit, a provider of encrypted email services apparently used by Snowden, a legal request to access Snowden’s email, thwarting some of the very privacy protections Lavabit had promised users. This request included a gag order, so the company was legally prohibited from talking about it. Rather than becoming “complicit in crimes against the American people,” in his words, Lavabit founder Ladar Levison, chose to shut down the service.

Warrant canaries are designed to help companies in this kind of situation. You can see a list of companies that publish warrant canary statements at Canary Watch. As of today, First Look Media is among the companies that publish canaries.

We’re happy to announce the first version of AutoCanary, a desktop program for Windows, Mac OS X, and Linux that makes the process of generating machine-readable, digitally-signed warrant canary statements simpler.

Read more about AutoCanary on its new website.

The post First Look Publishes Open Source Code To Advance Privacy, Security, and Journalism appeared first on The Intercept.

On Patriot Act Renewal and USA Freedom Act: Glenn Greenwald Talks With ACLU’s Jameel Jaffer

The Intercept - Engl. - 2 ore 22 min fa

Even in the security-über alles climate that followed 9/11, the Patriot Act was recognized as an extreme and radical expansion of government surveillance powers. That’s why “sunset provisions” were attached to several of its key provisions: meaning they would expire automatically unless Congress renewed them every five years. But in 2005 and then again in 2010, the Bush and Obama administrations demanded their renewal, and Congress overwhelmingly complied with only token opposition from civil libertarians.

That has all changed in the post-Snowden era. The most controversial provisions of the Patriot Act are scheduled to “sunset” on June 1, and there is almost no chance for a straight-up, reform-free authorization. The Obama White House has endorsed the so-called “reform” bill called the USA Freedom Act, which passed the House by an overwhelming majority. Yet the bill fell three votes short in the Senate last week, rendering it very unclear what will happen as the deadline rapidly approaches.

Unlike many privacy and civil liberties groups, the ACLU has refrained from endorsing the USA Freedom Act and instead is advocating for allowing the Patriot Act provisions to sunset — i.e., to die a long overdue death rather than being “reformed.” Meanwhile, almost all of the 86 “no” votes in the House were based on the argument that the USA Freedom Act either does not go far enough in limiting the NSA or that it actually makes things worse.

I spoke yesterday with the ACLU’s Deputy Legal Director, Jameel Jaffer, about what is likely going to happen as the June 1 deadline approaches, whether the USA Freedom Act is a net positive for privacy supporters, and what all of this reform means for Edward Snowden’s status. The discussion is roughly 20 minutes and can be heard on the player below; a transcript is also provided.


This transcript has been edited for clarity.

GREENWALD: This is Glenn Greenwald with the Intercept, and my guest today is Jameel Jaffer, the Deputy Legal Director of the ACLU, and we are here to discuss the still intensifying drama in the Senate and the House over the debate concerning reauthorization of the Patriot Act, key provisions of which are scheduled to expire on June 1st. Jameel, thanks very much for taking some time to talk with me.

JAFFER: Thank you.

GREENWALD: So, just to lay out in a very brief and summary fashion where things stand, there are essentially three factions, broadly speaking, in the Congress, one of which is advocating for a bill called the USA Freedom Act. The White House is behind this bill; it’s being sold as reform of the NSA, essentially to reform some of the excesses, particularly the domestic spying program that was revealed by the documents brought forward by Edward Snowden.

There’s a second faction in the Senate, primarily, that believes there should be no reform of any kind, that wants essentially reauthorization of the Patriot Act as is, if not actually strengthened to give the NSA even more power, and these are kind of the national security hawks led by Mitch McConnell and a few other Republican Senators – Senator Cotton, Marco Rubio, and a couple of other people like that.

And then there’s a faction, both in the House and Senate, led by Rand Paul, Justin Amash, and a bunch of House liberals, who think that the USA Freedom Act doesn’t go far enough, and that it actually makes things worse, and I think about 86 of them voted no on the USA Freedom Act not on the grounds that it restricted the NSA too much, but on the grounds that it restricted the NSA not enough.

So the House voted in favor of the USA Freedom Act. The Senate failed to do the same by, I think, three votes short of the 60 votes needed in the Senate to break a filibuster and enact the law. And so we have this sort of standoff where these key provisions of the Patriot Act are scheduled to expire in about a week. The Senate is in recess. Can you lay out what the plausible scenarios are for how this standstill will be resolved and what you think is the most likely outcome?

JAFFER: I was worried that you were going to ask me that question. I’m impressed that you managed to sum all of that up so neatly. I think it’s really complicated and it’s really difficult to say how it’s going to play out. As you say, there are these three different camps, although it’s actually a little bit difficult to measure the force of each of those camps, because some of the people who are supporting USA Freedom, for example, would actually be in favor of stronger reform, but just think that given the choice between USA Freedom and the other things that are on the table, USA Freedom is the better option.

And then there are some people who say they are in favor of reauthorization, but what they really want to reauthorize is the bulk collection program, the call records program. And then there are other people who are in favor of reauthorization who want to reauthorize everything except that program. You did a good job of summing it up, but it’s pretty messy.

And in terms of what happens next, it’s hard to say. There are presumably negotiations going on right now between some of the big players – Senator Mitch McConnell, for example, Senator Diane Feinstein, Rand Paul, Ro Wyden, Senator Leahy, and maybe something will get wrapped up in a neat bow and presented to us on Sunday when the Senate comes back. You know, I hope not.

Given the way the landscape looks now, I think the best course would be sunset. USA Freedom, in my view, would be a step in the right direction, but a very, very small step. So unless that bill is strengthened, sunset would be the better course.

GREENWALD: Describe what you mean when you say “sunset.”

JAFFER: Section 215 of the Patriot Act, which was enacted in 2001, gave the government broad surveillance power, but also had language that said the law would disappear unless Congress reauthorized it periodically. And the sunset is scheduled to take place on June 1; in other words, the law – ‘Section 215 – is going to disappear. Two other provisions too, but Section 215 is the most controversial of them. That law is going to disappear on June 1 unless Congress re-authorizes it. That’s why we find ourselves in the situation we find ourselves in now.

GREENWALD: You know, it’s interesting – when you talk about the temporary provisions in the Patriot Act, it’s actually quite unusual for a law to be enacted with a 3-year, 4-year, or 5-year sunset where it just disappears unless Congress renews it. Can you describe why the Patriot Act has this sunset provision?

It was renewed in 2005. It was renewed again without a great deal of opposition – in fact, with the Obama administration behind it – in 2010. Why was this in the Patriot Act to begin with, even in the wake of 9/11?

JAFFER: That’s important. Right after 9/11, there was a demand on the part of the intelligence community for more power. In fact, they’d been asking for some of these powers even before 9/11, but in the wake of 9/11, there was the opportunity to ask once more for powers that had been rejected in the past. And nobody really knew what these powers meant, in part because the surveillance laws are very complicated.

The Patriot Act was drafted in a way so that the Act itself is just a series of amendments, so you can’t really read the Patriot Act from cover to cover and know what’s going on. You need to read the Patriot Act, which is hundreds of pages, cover to cover, and also read from cover to cover all of these laws that have been enacted in the past, including the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which is a law enacted in 1978. And nobody had any time to do that in the wake of 9/11, and the country wasn’t in the mood to be asking or answering questions about the need for more surveillance authorities. So really what happened was that the intelligence community proposed these powers, and most legislators declined to ask questions.

The one good thing that happened at that point was that some legislators said, “Well, if we are going to put these new powers in place, powers that we don’t understand and could be used in a million different ways, we need to have language ensuring that we can come back and reconsider the necessity for the powers once more is known about how they were used.”

GREENWALD: It’s amazing how even back then, the Patriot Act was regarded as a pretty radical step, so much so that it needed these time limits, and fourteen years later, the radical position is to say, “Well, actually, we can live without the Patriot Act, like we did throughout our whole history.”

Now, there’s this split, even among privacy and civil liberty groups, about whether to endorse the USA Freedom Act. There are several groups that have a really long and impressive history of advocating for privacy who actually are not only advocating for the USA Freedom Act, but actively lobbying for it, trying to get Senators who voted no the first time to change their vote and vote yes. Whereas the ACLU came out, first in an op-ed by its director, Anthony Romero, and since then in various ways, essentially saying “No, the best course is to let the whole thing lapse.”

Can you explain the contours of that debate a little and the rationale behind the ACLU’s position that the best thing to do is just let these provisions lapse instead of trying to reform them with this law?

JAFFER: Sure. I don’t want to overstate the disagreement between the groups because the groups, I think, are largely in the same place about where we want to go eventually in this debate. The disagreement is really one of tactics rather than strategy or grand vision or anything like that. But still, you’re right that there’s a disagreement between what the better choice is right now between the USA Freedom Act as it’s currently drafted and the possibility of just a straight sunset of these provisions.

Our position from the beginning has been very bureaucratic sounding: “We take no position. We are neither in support nor in opposition to the USA Freedom Act.” But between USA Freedom as it’s drafted right now and sunset, our preference is sunset.

The USA Freedom Act would make some important improvements to the law. For example, it would end the bulk collection of call records. It would also limit the government’s ability to collect other kinds of records in bulk. It would impose some new transparency requirements. It would also create a new amicus provision – a kind of “friend of the court” provision – for the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, so those are all very important things. But they are limited things. And we think the scheduled expiry of these provisions presents Congress with a unique opportunity to enact broader reform.

We would like to see the USA Freedom Act strengthened in some respects. I mentioned that it would end the call records program. It wouldn’t prevent the large-scale collection of other kinds of records. And while it has transparency provisions, it exempts some key information from those transparency requirements.

For example, the FBI’s use of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act amendments of 2008 to conduct what some people are calling backdoor searches of some Americans’ electronic communications. I should explain: the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act was enacted in 1978, but there were these big amendments in 2008 that essentially allowed the government to collect Americans’ international communications in bulk – large volumes of Americans’ international communications. And what happens is that the FBI then goes into this database that houses all of those communications – millions and millions of communications – and searches through them using identifiers associated with US persons. In other words, an American’s name, or email address, or phone number. It searches through the database for communications associated with those identifiers. And it does all of that without a warrant.

So some members of Congress, Senator Wyden in particular, have been trying to convince Congress to prohibit that practice, to ensure that the government gets a warrant before reviewing Americans’ electronic communications. But the USA Freedom Act doesn’t do that. So we would like to see the USA Freedom Act amended to include that kind of fix.

GREENWALD: Let me ask you about that specifically, because we talked before about the three factions, and there’s this faction that voted no in the House. And their argument is not, “The USA Freedom Act: we wish it went further in limiting the NSA, it goes in the right direction but we wish it went further and therefore we’re voting no.” Their argument is actually that it’s a net negative for privacy. That it actually strengthens the USA’s surveillance powers above and beyond even what the status quo allows. Is there validity in that argument?

Is it clear to you that the USA Freedom Act – obviously your preference is to just let the Patriot Act provisions lapse – but between the other two options, which is to enact the USA Freedom Act or just keep the status quo, is it clear to you that the USA Freedom Act, on balance, is a better alternative to the status quo? Or is there validity to the concern that it actually strengthens the NSA’s power to beyond what it has now?

JAFFER: I definitely don’t think their argument is frivolous, or anything like that. I think there’s a serious argument on that side. That’s not where I come down in the end.

We think that USA Freedom would, on balance, be a step in the right direction. But the argument that they’re making on the other side is that, “Look, some of the language in USA Freedom, which is meant to limit bulk collection, would also have the effect of entrenching what’s sometimes called ‘bulky collection,’ or large-scale collection that doesn’t reach the scale of the call records program but is still very broad collection.” And they might be right about that.

It’s very hard to say because the language is still very abstract and at the end of the day, it’s the NSA and the FISA court who are going to implement this, at least in the first instance. So that’s why I say it’s not a frivolous argument.

But at the same time, there are things in the USA Freedom Act that I think are unmitigated positives, like the transparency requirements, the amicus provision in the FISA court, and the end of the call records program. And those things are good. They’re limited, but they’re good.

GREENWALD: Now, obviously the Obama administration is –

JAFFER: Let me just say one other thing about that. The fact that we’re having that argument only underscores how limited USA Freedom actually is.

GREENWALD: Right. Even if it’s a step in the right direction it’s a very small step in the right direction.

JAFFER: That’s right.

GREENWALD: Now, the Obama administration’s argument, even though they’re behind the USA Freedom Act, is that they’re very much opposed to the course of action that the ACLU is advocating which is letting the Patriot Act provisions lapse entirely – just go away.

And the new Attorney General, Loretta Lynch, sounds like she has been fear mongering for many years when she went on CBS with Nora O’Donnell and talked about how scary it would be if the Patriot Act provisions lapsed; that it would make us less safe, that it would give a blind spots to the intelligence community.

Are there any legitimate dangers to just letting these provisions lapse?

JAFFER: No. There aren’t.

There have been a number of reviews now of precisely these questions, especially with respect to Section 215. So there was the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board review of the call records program. There was another one by the President’s Review Group.

These are all executive branch appointees or entities that are doing the reviews. And they conclude that the call records program has never been pivotal in any terrorism-related investigation. That was from the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board. And the President’s Review Group concluded essentially the same thing. That was about the call records program specifically.

But there was a report issued earlier this week by the Department of Justice’s Inspector General which concluded essentially the same thing about Section 2015 more generally. In other words, that Section 215 had never been crucial in any terrorism investigation. Not just the call records program, but any surveillance under Section 215.

So it’s very hard to see why the sky would fall if Section 215 were allowed to expire. And Section 215 is overlapping with a number of other authorities. So even if it were the case that certain targeted surveillance under Section 215 had actually been crucial, or even useful, in any terrorism investigations, there’s no reason why the government couldn’t conduct that kind of targeted surveillance under other provisions. So I just don’t see it.

I don’t see why anyone should believe that the sky would fall or even that the government’s investigative authority will be limited in any meaningful way.

I think the better question comes from the other side, which is: Do you think the sunset of Section 215 will be a meaningful step towards reform?

GREENWALD: That’s what I was going to ask next, actually.

JAFFER: That’s a good question. The problem –

GREENWALD: Let me just interject there: the argument that people make, and I’m sympathetic to it, which isn’t the same thing as saying I agree with it, is how significant would it really be?

The NSA has all of these other authorities. They can cite executive orders and other things, on top of which they’ve done a really good job of co-opting laws in the past. We had this FISA law that said you can’t eavesdrop on Americans’ communications without a warrant, and they did it anyway.

They invented this incredibly radical interpretation of the Patriot Act – of 215 – that says “This lets us collect everything we want,” and that was the interpretation the Second Circuit, ten years later, rejected, finally, just a couple of weeks ago.

So given how adept they are at kind of co-opting the process to do what they want – the other authorities – and their propensity to circumvent the law or even break it to do what they want, how significant would it really be?

JAFFER: A couple of responses to that. One is that the authorities are overlapping, and so the sunset of any one of them alone is not going to achieve a lot.

It’s got to be the first step in a broader effort. And if we thought that sunset would be the end of the conversation, then I don’t think we’d be too enthusiastic about sunset. But we’re hopeful that sunset would be the beginning of the conversation, and not the end. So that’s one thing.

But the second thing is, no matter what legal changes of the kind we’ve just been discussing get made, there is always the possibility the laws will be co-opted. The laws are abstract, and they’re malleable, and especially when they are interpreted in secret, it’s relatively easy for an executive agency to read them to mean one thing when the world thinks they mean something else. And so you need to have multiple safeguards.

And one safeguard is transparency. You require the government to be more transparent about what it’s doing.

Another safeguard is the FISA court itself. You require the FISA court to have some form of adversarial process. You require the FISA court to make public some of its decisions relating to these consequential decisions that implicated individual privacy.

Another safeguard, then, is the ordinary federal courts. You’ve been writing about this, Glenn, for many, many years, but the ordinary federal courts have been, until very recently, unreceptive to challenges to government surveillance.

Every time somebody walks in saying “I think this particular government surveillance program is unconstitutional,” or “I think this particular surveillance statute is unconstitutional,” the response that the executive has given has been, “Well, all of this is covered by the state secrets privilege, and anyway, these guys don’t have standing to challenge the law because they can’t prove that they were monitored under it.”And the courts have accepted those arguments over and over again. I hope that that’s changing now; I think that the Second Circuit’s decision is a positive sign. But it has been a real issue in the past.

And I think unless the ordinary federal courts become more receptive or more open to those kinds of challenges, then one crucial safeguard isn’t going to be there.

GREENWALD: Right, and one other safeguard, and sort of the safeguard of last resort, is that if all those institutions fail to do their job and to compel adherence to the law, then you know the safeguard is an Edward Snowden, or a Tom Drake, or a Daniel Ellsberg, or whomever, or a Chelsea Manning, who comes forward and shows us what’s been going on that shouldn’t have been kept from us.

And that’s what my last question is about, Jameel. There has been this sea change in journalists and pundits who have said, “you know what, I was wrong about Snowden, attacking him this whole time, when it turns out what he did was right.” There was a column in Salon by Hodding Carter; Juan Williams, who was really harsh on Snowden for two years, wrote a column saying, “I was wrong.”

The Second Circuit decision says that the program he revealed was clearly illegal. And now this debate – and we’re going to have some kind of change in the law; it seems almost inevitable; with regard to the program that he came forward to expose – shines new light on him, for everyone other than the most entrenched ideological critics.

Do you think that this bodes at all well for the future for him, in terms of being able to reduce the charges against him to something reasonable, or at some point even being able to come back to the US without having to go to prison for a long period of time? I don’t think I’ve even discussed this question with you in any form before, so I’m interested in your thoughts on that.

JAFFER: I hope that’s right. I think that at this point, as you say, there really has been a tremendous shift in the political landscape, and that could not possibly have happened without Snowden.

It’s not just that people think now that some of these policies were unwise; that some of them went too far. It’s that we have multiple institutions, including, most recently, a three-judge panel, the Second Circuit, saying that some of these activities were unlawful and unconstitutional.

I think that that’s a pretty big deal, and it would be pretty difficult for somebody to make the argument that we all would have been better off if this unconstitutional activity had never been brought to light and nobody would have known about it. I don’t even see people making that argument anymore. So I hope that that has the kind of effect that you hope it does.

I think that we owe Snowden a huge debt, collectively. We really owe him a huge debt. Because this kind of stuff was kept secret for almost fifteen years. Behind closed doors, these powers got broader and broader. The government learned to use them in new ways, and more and more intrusive ways. The checks and balances that were meant to limit those activities failed, one after another.

And all of that would just have continued, but for Snowden’s courage. So I think we owe him a huge debt, and I think it’s a travesty that he is stuck in Russia. He ought to be here, but there’s no reason he should be here behind bars. So I hope that debate goes in the way that you speculate it might.

GREENWALD: Well, it’s very rare to have a debate in Congress that is both interesting and where the outcome is uncertain, but that’s what we have now, and I really appreciate your taking the time to help sort it all out.

JAFFER: Great to talk to you.


Photo: Mark Wilson/Getty Images

The post On Patriot Act Renewal and USA Freedom Act: Glenn Greenwald Talks With ACLU’s Jameel Jaffer appeared first on The Intercept.

Blockadekonzept veröffentlicht

Stop G7 - Elmau 2015 - 5 ore 2 min fa
Das Blockadekonzept

Teil der vielfältigen Aktionen gegen den G7-Gipfel sind auch die Blockaden am Samstag den 6.6. und Sonntag den 7.6.

Das Blockadekonzept
Unser Ziel ist es den G7-Gipfel und seine Vorbereitungen effektiv mit Massenblockaden zu stören. Unser Aktionszeitraum für die Blockaden soll deshalb im laufe des Samstag (6. Juni) beginnen und bis Sonntag Mittag (7. Juni) gehen. Wir stellen uns darauf ein unsere Blockaden solange wir möglich zu halten, bereitet euch entsprechend vor (Sitzgelegenheiten, Verpflegung (Essen, Trinken, Medikamente) für 24 Stunden (!)).
Da das Gebiet in dem sich die Blockaden abspielen können begrenzt ist, werden im Vorfeld keine Blockadepunkte veröffentlicht. Effektive Blockadepunkte sind jedoch vorhanden, achtet auf Fingerfahnen und auf Informationen vor Ort.

Wir gehen davon aus, dass unser Recht auf Demonstrationsfreiheit gewahrt bleibt und wir ein Camp in unmittelbarer Nähe unserer Demonstrationsroute bekommen. Sollte uns dies verweigert werden, campen wir wo wir wollen, dann ist unser Camp überall und damit auch unser Widerstand – bereitet euch darauf vor.

In jedem Fall benötigt ihr etwas was euch in der Nacht vor Regen und Kälte schützt und was ihr schnell aufbauen könnt (z.B. (Wurf-)Zelte o.ä., seit kreativ!) Schlafsack und Isomatte

  • In den nächsten Tagen folgt noch eine detalliertere Beschreibung der Lage vor Ort.
  • Ermittlungsausschuss, Anwält_innen und Sanitäter_innen werden vor Ort sein.
  • Beachtet außerdem den Aktionskonsens, der auch für die Blockaden gilt.


[Kolumbien] Gestern war er noch ganz friedlich

Indymedia antimil - 6 ore 12 min fa
von: Kol-Info am: 27.05.2015 - 17:38

2. Teil der Geschichtsreihe zum 51. Jahrestag der Gründung der FARC-EP:

Eine historische Geschichte aus der Zeit vor der Gründung der FARC, als die Bauernverbände die Repression der Regierung fürchteten - Von Arturo Alape

New Faces at The Intercept: Farai Chideya and Roger Hodge

The Intercept - Engl. - 7 ore 48 min fa

The Intercept is thrilled to welcome two new members to its editorial team: Farai Chideya and Roger Hodge.

Chideya, joining us as a Columnist and Consulting Editor, will explore in her columns the ways technology shapes our lives — as each individual is shadowed by what Chideya calls a “cloud self” that increasingly defines our existence at home, work and in social and political arenas. Her debut piece today focuses on the experiences of people whose online identities were exposed in the sorts of data breaches that have recently spread across the United States and the world.

A former reporter and program host for ABC News, CNN and NPR, Chideya, who has sought throughout her career to “bring the human experience alive in media,” is the author of the forthcoming book The Episodic Career: The Future of Work in America. A revised edition of her 1995 book on race and media, Don’t Believe the Hype, is also forthcoming. She was a fellow at Harvard’s Institute of Politics in 2012, and is a Distinguished Writer in Residence at New York University’s Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute.

In addition to writing for the site, Chideya will draw on her extensive radio experience to develop The Intercept’s podcast programming.

We are also delighted to announce that Roger D. Hodge will be our new National Editor. Hodge will oversee major investigations as well as editing features and news articles on a range of subjects, with special attention to the manipulation of the democratic process by moneyed elites. “The underlying theme that unites most of The Intercept’s journalism is the abuse of power and the corruption of our democratic institutions,” Hodge said. “This corruption has the effect of reducing democratic citizens into helpless subjects of the state, and this has been one of the central themes of my work as an editor and as a writer.”

Hodge has been editor of the Oxford American since September 2012. Prior to that, he was the editor of Harper’s Magazine, where he began as a fact-checker in 1996. The cover story of Hodge’s final issue at Harper’s, “The Guantánamo Suicides,” by Scott Horton, received the 2011 National Magazine Award for Reporting. Hodge is the author of The Mendacity of Hope: Presidential Power, Corporate Money, and the Politics of Corrupt Influence, and his essays have appeared in magazines such as Popular Science, the London Review of Books, and Texas Monthly.

In addition, we are restructuring and expanding our Washington office. Dan Froomkin, who has been covering Washington for The Intercept as a Senior Writer, will now lead our D.C. coverage as Washington Editor, overseeing our investigative blog, Unofficial Sources, which will soon be adding new contributors.

A month ago, we welcomed Charlotte Greensit, a former senior editor of Time magazine, as Managing Editor at our New York headquarters. Peter Maass will continue to write commentary and features while developing, as Senior Editor, our new coverage of books and films. In the coming weeks and months we’ll expand further, enabling us to deepen our investigative coverage of national security and criminal justice while branching out into new terrain.

The post New Faces at The Intercept: Farai Chideya and Roger Hodge appeared first on The Intercept.

Your Data is Showing: Breaches Wreak Havoc While the Government Plays Catch-Up

The Intercept - Engl. - 7 ore 48 min fa

WHEN KANSAS CITY, Missouri, real estate appraiser Dave Markus learned he was one of about 80 million people whose personal data was exposed in the Anthem health insurance breach discovered at the end of January, he immediately signed up for an identity protection service. But then he got a letter from the IRS in March. “Basically they said, ‘Before we send you your return, we want you to get ahold of us and verify your identity for your 2014 return.’ But we hadn’t filed yet.”

His wife spent time in “IRS voicemail hell.” She, and later he, went to the local office, where they were told to file a paper return, including photocopies of their drivers licenses and social security cards. It’s not clear whether the Anthem breach was even related to Markus’s tax woes. As in many cases of identity theft, which data breach was the cause will never be known. And the local IRS officials seemed confounded as to who should get involved. “They wanted me to file a police report with St. Louis,” Markus recalls. “And I said ‘Why?’ Are they going to fly to Shanghai or St. Petersburg or wherever these guys are?’”

Markus’s predicament is increasingly common. Just this week, news broke that criminals penetrated the IRS to pilfer nearly $50 million in refunds that belonged to more than 100,000 taxpayers. The agency claimed the perpetrators had seized data from other breaches. “These are extremely sophisticated criminals with access to a tremendous amount of data,” said an IRS spokesperson on Tuesday. The tax breach has drawn fire from critics who say that the government should have done a better job protecting citizens’ data. For its part, the IRS reiterates that it’s been facing cyberthreats in an environment of budget cuts, which since 2010 have cut 10,000 jobs from its enforcement staff.

In the past two years alone, well over 100 million people have gotten a letter, call or email notifying that they’ve been victims of a data breach. In some cases, key personal data has been exposed by retailers, including Target; for others, it’s health insurance companies including Anthem, or employers like Sony. Companies are paying a financial price, but in the end it may be relatively modest, and not enough to encourage better data protection practices. For example, Target has incurred more than $250 million in breach-related expenses, according to SEC filings, but only a fraction of that has been committed to consumers. The company agreed to a proposed class-action settlement for $10 million in March, which specified up to $10,000 for each person who could prove they had suffered clear damages and the rest to be split among other victims of the breach, which, if spread across all possible class members, would be less than a dollar a person. Benjamin Dean, a fellow for cybersecurity and Internet governance at Columbia University’s SIPA, wrote, “When we subtract insurance reimbursement, the losses fall to $162 million. If we subtract tax deductions (yes, breach-related expenses are deductible), the net losses tally $105 million. This is the equivalent of 0.1% of 2014 sales.”

In the meantime, both courts and consumers are faced with a quandary. Data leaked now could be used a decade or more hence, and both courts and individuals are left calculating probable future risk as well as current exposure. Consumers face limited options for protecting themselves. A telling measure of frustration is a syndrome that has been termed “data breach fatigue.” A third of people notified about a breach don’t take any action at all, according to a 2014 study by the Ponemon Institute.

In our age of big data, individuals are extremely vulnerable to breaches, but both government and corporations have an interest in collecting as much personal information as possible, from our shopping habits to our cellphone metadata. Columbia’s Benjamin Dean said he questions whether “opaque information sharing arrangements between companies and intelligence agencies” undermine the government’s incentive to advocate for consumer privacy protections. For example, the federal government can not only ask for data about consumers using platforms like Facebook and Amazon, but also require those companies to shroud the details of how many national security-related requests were made. That’s in addition to revelations that the government hacked the world’s largest SIM card manufacturer, giving intelligence agencies the capacity to access a large portion of the world’s cell phone users’ communications.

To be fair, the government has taken some of the right steps. The variety of federal agencies that deal with cybercrime in one form or the other is staggering — including the FBI, IRS and Department of Homeland Security. Some are more hands-on with consumers than others.  The IRS said it stopped 19 million suspicious returns between 2011 and October 2014. Notwithstanding the recent breach, the agency says it prevented almost 3 million suspicious returns this year.  Tax identity theft victims like Dave Markus of Kansas City are offered the chance to get an IRS Identity Protection PIN — a six-digit code that tax filers can use along with their social security number. So far, 1.5 million people affected by tax identity theft have signed up for the IP PIN program, which allows them to file more securely.

But as Lee Tien, a senior staff attorney for the Electronic Frontier Foundation, says, “We’ve always known that [federal] entities have internally conflicting missions. On the one hand they do enforce privacy laws and secure networks. But when they go after bad guys, their job is to infiltrate. They are dual-hatted.”


THE LEGAL PROCESS around big data breaches typically unfolds in a now-familiar pattern: victims claim that companies could have been more secure; the companies argue most or all of the people exposed haven’t been harmed; both parties settle out of court. Litigation against Sony, which, according to the U.S. government, was targeted by hackers in North Korea over the movie The Interview, is ongoing. The plaintiffs in one class-action suit describe their exposure as “an epic nightmare,” saying that Sony “failed to secure its computer systems, servers and databases, despite weaknesses that it has known about for years.” The data revealed included mortifying in-house memos between studio executives (including Amy Pascal, who was forced out as chair), but more importantly for employees at large, 47,000 social security numbers, plus medical and salary records. Sony, which refused to comment for this article, said in a filing to dismiss, “There are no allegations of identity theft, no allegations of fraudulent charges, and no allegations of misappropriation of medical information.” Instead, the plaintiffs assert a broad range of common-law and statutory causes of action based on their alleged fear of an increased risk of future harm, as well as expenses they claim to have incurred to prevent that future harm.

Anthem, the healthcare company whose breach affected 80 million, declined an interview request but emailed a statement which read in part, “To date, in working with the FBI, we have found no evidence that the cyber attackers have shared or sold any of our members’ data and there is no evidence that fraud has occurred against our members, including fraudulent tax returns.” An FBI spokesperson confirmed the bureau hadn’t, so far, found that attackers sold or shared data. But it wouldn’t weigh in on the assertion that no fraud had occurred.

During a Securities and Exchange Commission roundtable last year, attorney Douglas Meal raised a troubling possibility: What if companies just didn’t disclose data breaches? Meal, who consulted with Target — whose 2013 data breach exposed information from 40 million credit cards and data from approximately 70 million shoppers — told the SEC, “I think, just to be someone speaking from the trenches … there is a tremendous disincentive to disclose a breach,” adding the qualifiers, “if the breach isn’t otherwise going to become public” and “if a company can conclude that it doesn’t otherwise have a disclosure obligation.” In his words, once a breach is disclosed, “you are now going to be a target of a lot of class-action plaintiffs, of consumer protection regulators, who will not look at you as the victim of the breach … but will look at you as almost the perpetrator.” Target reacted by saying they favored prompt disclosure — but Meal had spelled out logic that could well appeal to other firms facing a similar predicament. And of course, we’d never know.

The EFF’s Tien says that keeping data breaches secret from consumers was a common corporate strategy until state regulators began to demand disclosure. (All but three states now have disclosure laws.) And there’s new legislation pending in Congress, including HR 1770, the Data Security and Breach Notification Act of 2015, that would require consumer notification in all states and the District of Columbia. Yet some lawmakers point out the bill actually weakens existing state-level provisions. Rep. Jan Schakowsky, D-Ill., stated that the bill would “weaken existing state law in 38 states,” and in some cases, “this bill would prevent you from being notified about breaches for which your state currently requires notification.” The pending legislation also leaves out the stickier question of what data privacy practices should be in place to prevent breaches from happening, or appropriate legal liability and penalties when breaches occur. “The current legal system has a short circuit because it doesn’t give companies very much incentive to address this,” says Tien.


ARE THERE PATHS to better data security for citizens and customers? Right now, several countries including the U.S., the U.K. and Australia that are at the crossroads of commerce, travel and immigration have aggressively pursued access to citizen data. On the other hand, Columbia’s Benjamin Dean applauds the X-Road system of the relatively tiny Estonia (population 1.3 million) for allowing “secure and confidential sharing of information.” X-Road is designed so that data can be securely verified across government agencies without that information being held in a central repository. For example, a citizen can link bank data to a national healthcare system, or quickly validate his or her ID at the border. While some other European nations are experimenting with the X-Road platform, a country like the United States would potentially have to submit to limitations on its direct access to citizen information in order to participate or duplicate this type of effort.

Meanwhile, individuals are triaging data notices and personal concerns. Rochelle and Paul (last names withheld) found out they were compromised in the Anthem breach at the same time that they were moving Rochelle’s father into assisted living. Two weeks later, she says, “someone’s opened a Paypal Credit account in Paul’s name and charged $682 from a place called Modern Coin.” They called Paypal Credit to close the account, followed up with Anthem, and, via Anthem, got 24 months of credit monitoring from AllClear ID. “But I failed to jump into action immediately. We gave this asshole, whoever opened up the Paypal Credit, the opportunity to do that,” Rochelle says.

While it would be easy to blame consumers — saying they should monitor their information more closely — the problem of data theft is endemic, and frustration is justified. The EFF’s Tien says, “Back in the day we’d be asked, ‘What are the 10 things a consumer can do to protect themselves?’ I hate to be a gloomy Gus, but the message I give journalists and others is there’s basically nothing you can do. It’s like saying, what can you do about climate change by yourself … when the problem is structural architecture and the flow around your data.” (The EFF does offer individuals Privacy Badger, a tool that blocks third parties from tracking which sites you visit as you surf the Internet.) Politicians, Tien notes, including the first successful data miner in chief, President Obama, have “very mixed incentives about stomping on this area.”

Photo: A copy of an email sent to Anthem Inc. plan members with notification of a cyberattack. (Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg/Getty Images)

The post Your Data is Showing: Breaches Wreak Havoc While the Government Plays Catch-Up appeared first on The Intercept.

State Department Officials Pass Through Revolving Door, Lobby for Passage of TPP

The Intercept - Engl. - 8 ore 7 min fa

While Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton is refusing to reveal her position on the massive Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement, other former State Department officials are actively supporting the agreement. They’re just not bothering to reveal their conflicts of interest.

More than 30 former State Department officials, envoys, military officers and White House national security advisers who served under both Republican and Democratic presidents signed a letter last month calling the trade agreement “a defining test for American political and economic leadership in the Asia-Pacific region” and urging members of Congress to give President Obama “fast-track” authority to speed its passage.

Though the officials identified themselves in the letter using their prior government titles, many have since passed through the revolving door and now work at consulting firms focused on helping multinationals with interests in East Asia. Six of those with non-disclosed involvement in ventures that focus heavily on Pacific Rim trade served under Secretary Clinton.

The congressional letter was organized, in part, by Kurt Campbell, a former top aide to Clinton. Campbell served from 2009 until 2013 as assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific Affairs. Metadata from the letter identifies the author of the document as Yong Kwon, an analyst with the Asia Group, a consulting firm founded by Campbell within days of leaving the State Department in February 2013.

Nirav Patel, the COO of the Asia Group and a former deputy assistant secretary of state in the Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs under Clinton, also signed the letter.

Other signatories include:

  • Andrew Shapiro, former United States assistant secretary of state, who is now managing director of Beacon Global Strategies. The firm markets Shapiro as having “made key contributions to the U.S. pivot to Asia by leading an increase in military sales and transfers to U.S. partners including Taiwan, Japan, and Indonesia.”
  • Jeffrey Bader, a National Security Council staffer under President Obama, who is now a senior fellow at the Brookings Institute; “president and sole proprietor of Jeffrey Bader LLC, which provides assistance to companies with interests in Asia”; and “a member of the board of directors of HSBC North America Holdings, Inc.”
  • David Huebner, former U.S. ambassador to New Zealand under President Obama, who is a partner with Arnold and Porter’s international arbitration, public international law and national security practices.
  • John Roos, former U.S. Ambassador to Japan under President Obama, who is a senior advisor for Centerview Partners, “an international investment banking advisory practice specializing in independent advice and other client services.”
  • Stanley Roth, assistant secretary of state during President Clinton’s second term, who has been Boeing’s vice president of international government relations since 2006.
  • Stapleton Roy, a former assistant Secretary of State for intelligence and research under Bill Clinton, who is now a member of Kissinger Associates, the consulting firm founded by former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger.
  • Susan Shirk, deputy assistant secretary of state under President Clinton, who is now senior director of Albright Stoneridge, a “strategic advisory and commercial diplomacy firm” founded by former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright.
  • Tom Schieffer, former ambassador to Australia and Japan, who “founded and remains active in Envoy International LLC, which largely does consulting work on international affairs for clients on both sides of the Pacific.”
  • Richard Armitage, former deputy secretary of state under George W. Bush, who founded Armitage International, a firm that offers “multinational clients with critical support in the areas of international business development, strategic planning, and problem-solving.”
  • Randall Schriver, former deputy assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific Affairs under Bush, who is now a founding partner of Armitage International.

In response to a request for comment about the letter, former Ambassador Tom Schieffer said via email that  “none of my clients has taken a position on the TPP.”

Frank Lavin, a signatory to the letter and former undersecretary of commerce for international trade during President George W. Bush’s second term, said Campbell helped organize the lobby effort. Asked why the officials signed the letter with their former government titles alone, and not their current titles, Lavin said, “the letter was a communication on behalf of former government officials, so we should not find it surprising that we were all identified according to our past government position.” Lavin is the CEO and founder of Export Now, a firm that bills itself as “the only complete solution for selling online in China, the world’s largest e-commerce market.”

“There were two letters, one for Asia hands and organized by Kurt Campbell, and one for former Commerce Department people, organized by Chris Padilla,” Lavin said. Padilla, now a chief IBM lobbyist, succeeded Lavin as Bush’s final undersecretary of commerce for international trade.

Asked about the letter, Rep. Alan Grayson, D-Fla., said he was disappointed to see former government advisers failing to disclose that “they’re on the take.”

Other TPP critics say that the letter is indicative of a recurring problem. “I guess the main thing that jumps out of me — it’s really kind of the norm. I’m not saying that’s good,” said Center for Economic and Policy Research co-director Dean Baker. He said he’s seen pro-TPP opinion columns that fail disclose similar conflicts of interest.

On Friday, the U.S. Senate passed trade promotion authority, the “fast-track” bill Obama requested to make passage of the actual agreement easier. After the vote, Speaker of the House John Boehner, R-Ohio, said that the House “will take up this measure,” but did not specify when.

Despite calls by Sens. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., and Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., to oppose the agreement, Clinton has not taken a definitive position on the accord.

View the letter below:
DV.load('//', { width: '100%', height: '450', sidebar: false, container: '#dcv-2085011-tpp-letter' });

(This post is from our blog: Unofficial Sources.)

Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty


The post State Department Officials Pass Through Revolving Door, Lobby for Passage of TPP appeared first on The Intercept.

Chicago Police Put Antlers on Black Man and Posed for Pictures

The Intercept - Engl. - 8 ore 34 min fa

The photo shows two white Chicago Police officers posing with an unidentified black man. The officers — Timothy McDermott and Jerome Finnigan — are holding rifles as the black man lies on the floor with a dazed look on his face and with antlers on his head as if he were a prized, big buck finally hunted down.

Finnegan is smiling and grabbing the right antler, while McDermott is holding up the man’s head as if it were his trophy.

The photo was taken in a police station on the West Side of Chicago sometime between 1999 and 2003. The Chicago Police Department successfully kept it hidden from the public until a judge refused to keep it under seal and the Chicago Sun-Times pulled a copy from a court filing. 

Finnigan is a notoriously dirty ex-cop who was a member of the police department’s elite Special Operations Section (SOS) until 2006, when he was charged with leading a gang of fellow officers who robbed suspects, illegally invaded homes and stole thousands of dollars in cash. He’s now serving 12 years in federal prison.

In a 2012 interview with Playboy, Finnigan admitted the SOS beat and tortured multiple suspects, and described shutting down an internal affairs investigation by appealing to one of his comrades in blue who worked in the Internal Affairs Division.

The Sun-Times reports that federal authorities gave the photo to Chicago Police in 2013, after Finnigan’s prosecution. As a result, a police board last year voted to fire McDermott — but only by a 5-4 margin.

After the Guardian disclosed this year how Chicago police kept their detention and torture at the Homan Square facility off the books, police told me no suspect is detained without proper paperwork. But it’s not at all surprising to find out that Finnigan and McDermott filed no arrest report the night the photograph was taken.

As for the man in the photo, he has no name. The police claimed he was dealing drugs, but there is no reason to believe them. Ultimately, whether the man was a drug dealer or not is irrelevant.

He was a human being, dehumanized by other men who swore to protect and serve the public good. And if the police, who have a monopoly on sanctioned violence, view a segment of the population as not quite human, then they will do anything to those people.

Against this backdrop, the deer photo — so reminiscent of the “trophy” pictures taken by the torturers at Abu Ghraib — has a direct relationship to the way police treat black communities.

The anti-black sickness that infects America’s police departments will not be solved by body cameras or any other ornament of reform. A more profound, national rejection is called for.

(This post is from our blog: Unofficial Sources.)

Photo: Cook County Illinois Court/Chicago Sun-Times

The post Chicago Police Put Antlers on Black Man and Posed for Pictures appeared first on The Intercept.

Vom Nutzen des Jihad (I)

German Foreign Policy - 23 ore 51 min fa
(Eigener Bericht) - Die westlichen Mächte haben salafistische Organisationen im Syrien-Krieg gezielt gestützt und die Gründung des "Islamischen Staats" (IS) im Kampf gegen die Assad-Regierung vollauf bewusst in Kauf genommen. Dies geht aus einem deklassifizierten Papier des US-Militärgeheimdiensts DIA ("Defense Intelligence Agency") hervor, das vergangene Woche veröffentlicht worden ist. Demnach hielt die DIA im August 2012 nicht nur die Errichtung eines "salafistischen Fürstentums" in Ostsyrien für denkbar, das von den westlichen Mächten, Saudi-Arabien und der Türkei sogar gewünscht werde. Der Geheimdienst rechnete auch damit, dass über die syrisch-irakische Grenze hinweg ein "Islamischer Staat" entstehen könne - mit "schrecklichen Konsequenzen", wie es in dem stark zensierten DIA-Papier heißt. Ungeachtet der drohenden Gefahren drang auch die Bundesregierung im Sommer und im Herbst 2012 energisch auf Assads Sturz - und sprach sich dabei ausführlich mit Saudi-Arabien ab, dem maßgeblichen Förderer salafistischer und jihadistischer Milizen, darunter der IS. Die zugrundeliegende Strategie ist Jahre älter als der Syrien-Krieg; ihr folgt der Westen bis heute.

The Bugaboo That Is Advocacy Journalism

The Intercept - Engl. - Mar, 26/05/2015 - 21:00

Tonight at 7 p.m. EST Brooklyn Independent Media is airing a new episode of Straight Up, a quirky show that brings together journalists to discuss current events while drinking beer or cocktails at Emerson Bar in Clinton Hill, Brooklyn. BRIC is on Cablevision (channel 70), Time Warner (756) and
Verizon FiOS (46) in New York City. If you don’t have New York cable television, you can watch the whole show online here.

I had the privilege of being on with Mic’s Derrick Clifton and host Jarrett Murphy as we talked about the news media’s coverage of Baltimore, the role race plays in said coverage, and that big bugaboo “advocacy journalism.”

Jarrett Murphy asked me if I saw myself as a journalist or an advocate and I replied (as seen in the excerpt above): “I see myself as a journalist, but also an advocate for changing the condition of black Americans. Neutrality is a privileged position … and if anyone has a problem with that, they can pick a number, get in line and kiss my black ass.”

(This post is from our blog: Unofficial Sources.)

This post has been updated since publication with the channels on which BRIC airs.

The post The Bugaboo That Is Advocacy Journalism appeared first on The Intercept.

Huge Pipeline Company Kinder Morgan Hired Off-Duty Cops to “Deter Protests” in Pennsylvania

The Intercept - Engl. - Mar, 26/05/2015 - 20:47

Kinder Morgan, the self-proclaimed “largest energy infrastructure company in North America,” paid $50,000 for off-duty police officers from a Pennsylvania department to patrol a controversial gas pipeline construction site. The hiring came after a request from the corporation for uniformed officers that could “deter protests and prevent delays,” according to a report by Earth Island Journal’s Adam Federman.

What’s unique about the case is not that a corporation paid off-duty officers to protect oil and gas infrastructure – a common but rarely-acknowledged practice – but that a document indicates that the explicit purpose of the surveillance was to stymie dissent.

Federman obtained a May 2013 letter from Kinder Morgan’s manager of corporate security to the police chief of the Eastern Pike Regional Police Department, requesting use of its officers “to provide a visible presence in our construction areas to create a deterrent effect.” The corporation asked the department to monitor its Northeast Upgrade Project, an expansion of the Tennessee Gas Pipeline, which would cut through environmentally sensitive areas of Pennsylvania. The officers were paid $54.80 per hour for their work.

The document adds, “Due to the controversial nature of the project Kinder Morgan has experienced protests from local activists who oppose the pipeline, which has resulted in costly delays … The objective is for a uniformed officer to be seen frequently making spot checks of our construction areas and be available to respond should protesters attempt to block those sites.”

Off-duty cops are regularly hired to protect all sorts of moneyed interests across the U.S. As of 2007, according to Department of Justice statistics, 83 percent of departments had a policy on off-duty employment. Although policies vary by locality, hired cops are generally allowed to wear their uniforms and maintain the powers of active officers, making them in many cases indistinguishable from their on-duty counterparts.

The Pennsylvania police department loaned its cops to Kinder Morgan through a Texas-based contractor called Off Duty Services. According to its web site, two of the company’s primary services include “pipeline security” and “critical infrastructure protection,” such as for electric utilities. It also hires cops to watch petrochemical plants, corporate headquarters, laboratories, retail stores and banks.

The practice drew new scrutiny last October when 18-year-old VonDerrit Myers was shot and killed by an off-duty officer working for a private security firm hired by a nearby residential association.

There are clear First Amendment implications when activists whose interests conflict with corporations encounter contracted off-duty police. In Utah, a journalist and activist filed a lawsuit after being stopped outside an oil refinery in December 2013 by an off-duty officer who explained, according to the complaint, that the refinery is “critical infrastructure and you’re taking pictures of it.” The suit claims the officer “explained that it is the policy of Salt Lake City Police officers employed by Tesoro to stop and question anyone filming or photographing the Tesoro Salt Lake City refinery.” The city denied the allegation, and the case is pending.

A Kinder Morgan spokesperson told Federman that “Kinder Morgan has no interest in limiting constitutionally protected free speech rights and legitimate, lawful protest activity” and that its letter to the police department was written after “months of coordinated, documented, illegal attempts to interfere with pipeline construction activities.”

Still, Mary Catherine Roper, deputy legal director of the ACLU in Philadelphia, told Earth Island Journal, “If they are actually being instructed to deter protest that’s not okay … That’s just flat out unconstitutional.”

(This post is from our blog: Unofficial Sources.)

Photo: Ben Nelms/Reuters/Landov



The post Huge Pipeline Company Kinder Morgan Hired Off-Duty Cops to “Deter Protests” in Pennsylvania appeared first on The Intercept.

Sen. Mary Landrieu, After Pushing for Keystone XL, Joins TransCanada Lobbying Firm

The Intercept - Engl. - Mar, 26/05/2015 - 20:07

The law firm Van Ness Feldman announced today that former Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., who lost her reelection bid last year, will be joining the company to help run its lobbying division and focus on energy issues.

Landrieu joins the firm after pushing aggressively for energy-related policy goals that overlapped with Van Ness Feldman’s clients. In November of last year, Landrieu helped force a vote to approve the Keystone XL, the controversial tar sands pipeline owned by Transcanada, a firm represented by Van Ness Feldman.

Landrieu also worked to expedite the approval of liquified natural gas export terminals, another contentious issue. Landrieu sponsored legislation to expedite the LNG approval process and specifically pushed for individual projects, including the Sempra Cameron LNG facility in Louisiana. Van Ness Feldman has a large practice on LNG issues and lobbied for approval of several LNG export terminals, including the Sempra facility touted by Landrieu.

“I am proud to join Van Ness Feldman,” Landrieu said in a statement released by the firm. “I have always respected the firm and worked closely with them during my 18 years in the Senate,” she noted. “Their substantive and sophisticated approach to important public policy issues in the areas of energy, the environment and natural resources was a major factor in my decision making process.”

Landrieu told the New Orleans Times-Picayune that her new job as a senior adviser with Van Ness Feldman will provide her with “flexibility” to continue work for the Walton Family Foundation. She will not technically lobby Congress, as former senators are barred from engaging in lobby activity as defined by the Lobbying Disclosure Act for two years after leaving office.

But one person’s lobbying is another person’s advising. The Department of Justice has never brought an enforcement action on unregistered lobbying and ethics experts believe the law is regularly flouted.

Landrieu’s shift to a firm filled with clients she helped promote is becoming a regular feature of the Washington revolving door. Former Sen. Judd Greg, R-N.H., shaped financial reform issues, then took a lucrative job for Goldman Sachs and for a Wall Street trade association after leaving elected office. Former Rep. Billy Tauzin, R-La., cost taxpayers hundreds of billions of dollars by writing the law that prevents Medicare from importing prescription drugs from Canada or from negotiating for cheaper prices. Tauzin left Congress to join a drug company lobby group called PhRMA, a position that eventually paid him more than $11 million in one year alone.

(This post is from our blog: Unofficial Sources.)

Photo: Mary Landrieu, Sean Gardner/Getty Images. 

The post Sen. Mary Landrieu, After Pushing for Keystone XL, Joins TransCanada Lobbying Firm appeared first on The Intercept.

[Kolumbien] Die Wurzeln der FARC

Indymedia antimil - Mar, 26/05/2015 - 18:05
von: Kol-Info am: 26.05.2015 - 18:05

1. Teil der Geschichtsreihe zum 51. Jahrestag der Gründung der FARC-EP:

Die FARC haben ihre Wurzeln in den Ursprüngen eines früheren Konfliktes. Liberale Guerilleros, entstanden im Bürgerkrieg zwischen den beiden traditionellen Parteien in den vierziger Jahren, hielten ihre Waffen aufrecht im Kampf gegen die Repression und Terror von rechts.

Mitch McConnell Will Do Just About Anything Not to Vindicate Edward Snowden

The Intercept - Engl. - Mar, 26/05/2015 - 16:28

Senate Republican leaders managed to scrape up enough votes just past midnight Saturday morning to put off decisive action on the NSA’s bulk collection of American phone records until next Sunday, May 31.

But the hardliners — and make no mistake, they are taking an even harder and more absurd line than the NSA itself — have no endgame.

Only two outcomes are possible at this point:

First, three provisions of the Patriot Act — one of which has provided the legal cover for bulk collection — expire on June 1. (Indeed, the Obama administration has already begun the process of winding it down.)

Or second, the Senate passes the USA Freedom Act, which extends those provisions but requires the NSA to request specific records from telecom companies, instead of getting them all.

Fifty-seven senators, only three short of the necessary 60, voted Saturday to invoke cloture and limit debate on the reform bill, itself a milquetoast compromise that won overwhelming bipartisan support in the House. Nothing else has the votes, certainly not a blanket renewal of the Patriot Act, now that the world actually knows how it’s being misused, thanks to NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden

Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., led a very public yet essentially meaningless quasi-filibuster against the Patriot Act last Wednesday. But early Saturday morning, he and two Democrats — Ron Wyden of Oregon and Martin Heinrich of New Mexico — followed that up with a series of devastatingly effective objections that blocked Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s attempt to extend the authorities to June 8, then to June 5, then to June 3, then to June 2.

But why are McConnell and his gang “playing chicken,” as White House press secretary put it on Friday? Why create, as Senator Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., accurately called it, a “manufactured crisis“?

Anybody paying attention knows it’s not a policy debate. The reasons McConnell and others cite for wanting to extend the program as is — despite the fact that it’s flatly illegal, essentially useless, and spectacularly invasive — are laughable. In fact, the compromise they’re willing to fight to the death to oppose was actually proposed by the NSA.

The issue is they just don’t want Snowden officially vindicated, by an act of Congress.

Ever since 9/11, the GOP has found huge political gain in exploiting national security fears. And ever since Obama’s election, they have pursued a singularly successful campaign of obstruction, by making Congress almost entirely dysfunctional.

But this time, fear isn’t working, and dysfunction doesn’t get the job done. The Patriot Act provisions in question require an affirmative act of Congress to stay in place.

So although McConnell has managed to extend his fight longer than pretty much anyone anticipated (including me), come May 31, he loses, and Snowden wins.

(This post is from our blog: Unofficial Sources.)

Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images.



The post Mitch McConnell Will Do Just About Anything Not to Vindicate Edward Snowden appeared first on The Intercept.


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