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A Prosecutor Seeks Redemption. Can We Allow Prisoners the Same?

The Intercept - Engl. - Mar, 24/03/2015 - 18:25

have read and been moved by the extraordinary mea culpa published in the Shreveport Times by a man named Marty Stroud III, who more than thirty years ago sent Glenn Ford to die for a crime he did not commit.

“How wrong was I,” wrote Stroud, who as a young prosecutor convicted Ford, a black man, with the help of an all-white jury in Louisiana’s Caddo Parish. Stroud’s murder case against Ford was bankrupt on its face — at trial, a key witness admitted in open court that her testimony had been a lie. Yet Ford didn’t stand a chance. His court-appointed lawyers had never handled a criminal trial, let alone a capital case. He was sentenced to die, though fortunately never executed. After decades spent fighting to prove his innocence, Ford was was finally cleared after the DA’s office revealed it had obtained exonerating evidence. But by the time he was released from prison last year, at 64, Ford was sick with cancer. Doctors say he has just months to live. Ford has spent his last days fighting for financial compensation, which the state has so far denied him. In his anguished letter to the Times, Stroud said that Ford “deserves every penny” for his lost freedom and expressed deep remorse “for all the misery I have caused him and his family.”

Stroud’s apology made headlines across the country. The National Registry of Exonerations called it “uniquely powerful and moving.” In a culture that shields prosecutors from having to answer for even the most outrageous miscarriages of justice, Stroud’s letter is indeed an astonishing read. Though no substitute for accountability – he denies any intentional misconduct — Stroud lays bare the hubris that drives state actors to aggressively pursue even the most questionable convictions. “In 1984, I was 33 years old,” Stroud writes. “I was arrogant, judgmental, narcissistic and very full of myself. I was not as interested in justice as I was in winning.” Stroud recalls going out for drinks to celebrate Ford’s death sentence, which he labels “sick.” Not only because Ford turned out to be innocent. But because today Stroud believes that, as a fallible human being, he never should have had that kind of power to begin with. The death penalty, he writes, “is an abomination that continues to scar the fibers of this society.”

Stroud’s dramatic conversion, his revulsion at the memory of toasting a death sentence, echoes a story told by a different man, former Florida prison warden Ron McAndrew. On the morning after overseeing his first execution in 1996, McAndrew went out to the “traditional breakfast” with the execution team, at a Shoney’s in Starke, FL, just 15 miles from the death chamber. “Everyone in the restaurant knew who we were and what we had just done,” he wrote, “there were even a few ‘high five signs.’” He spotted the defense attorney who had tried to save the life of the man he had just helped execute. “I saw my own sickness on her sad face,” McAndrew wrote. The ritual felt wrong. “It was my first and my last traditional death breakfast.” Later, Esquire would publish a profile of the former warden. It was titled “Ron McAndrew Is Done Killing People.”

Others who once operated the machinery of death have reached similar epiphanies. Two years ago the Guardian published a sobering Q&A with Jerry Givens, a retired executioner who killed no fewer than 62 prisoners for the state of Virginia. Givens, a clearly traumatized man, said taking the job was the “biggest mistake I ever made.” Today he serves on the board of Virginians Against the Death Penalty. Former Georgia warden Allen Ault, who presided over five executions and now speaks out against capital punishment, says he has “spent a lifetime regretting every moment and every killing.” Jeanne Woodford, who gave the order for four executions as the warden of San Quentin Prison, later became the executive director of the abolitionist group Death Penalty Focus. In 2013, the New York Times ran an obituary for a warden-turned-academic who oversaw three executions at Mississippi’s Parchman Farm. It included his nagging belief that one of the men may have been innocent. In its headline the Times remembered him as “Donald Cabana, Warden Who Loathed the Death Penalty.”

These are transformative figures. Their accounts, while powerful on their own, are important in the space they create for others to change as well — perhaps even some still working inside the system they have since disavowed. As Americans increasingly question the death penalty amid new exonerations and botched executions, we can probably expect — and should encourage — more of these stories.

Yet as these narratives become more ubiquitous, they also expose a nagging hypocrisy. If we are drawn to such expressions of penitence and moral clarity, if we see them as brave or enlightened or even noble, why don’t we grant people in prison the same potential for change? Why have we abandoned rehabilitation, once supposedly central to the mission we call “corrections,” and replaced it with the longest sentences on the planet? Why do we give people who do bad things so few pathways toward redemption? Is it too much to consider that murderers in prison are as complex and human as people who kill in the name of the state?

Earlier this month, the state of Georgia came within hours of killing 47-year-old Kelly Gissendaner for the murder of her husband in 1997. Although her degree of culpability made her case controversial — the killing itself was carried out by a boyfriend — there was no question of her guilt. But as her execution neared, it was also clear that Gissendaner was more than the crime that sent her to death row. While incarcerated she became a student of theology and a source of strength to fellow prisoners. If someone was “being escorted across the yard with cut-up or bandaged arms from attempted suicides,” one former prison guard told The New York Times, others “would yell to Kelly about it.” She “could talk to those ladies and offer them some sort of hope and peace.” Yet as a matter of course, the Georgia Board of Pardons and Parole rejected Gissendaner’s clemency petition. Her contributions behind prison walls held no value to authorities in the outside world. Gissendaner is only alive today because of last-minute concerns over the efficacy of the execution drugs the state was set to use. Georgia still plans to kill her.

Even as more states abolish the death penalty, we have installed in its place different forms of permanent punishment, astoundingly long sentences that deny people’s ability to evolve — or even the human tendency to “age out” of crime. Today, one in nine US prisoners, including people convicted as juveniles, are currently serving a life sentence, according to the Sentencing Project, and “those with parole-eligible life sentences are increasingly less likely to be released.” More people than ever are serving life with no possibility of parole — including thousands for nonviolent offenses, as the ACLU found in a major study in 2013. In Shreveport, Louisiana, where Glenn Ford was wrongly sentenced to die, a lesser known man named Sylvester Mead was sentenced to die in prison after he drunkenly threatened a cop while handcuffed in the back of a police car. As I noted at The Nation, Mead’s own trial judge argued that his offense “does not warrant, under any conscionable or constitutional basis, a life sentence.” Yet “Mead’s prosecutor appealed multiple times seeking a harsher sentence because of his old convictions.” We can try to construe this as justice. But like Marty Stroud in 1984, this was a prosecutor bent on winning.

There are some signs that we are moving in a slightly more rational direction. California is releasing “lifers,” only a small fraction of whom are landing back in jail. The Supreme Court is chipping away at permanent sentencing for juveniles. Criminal justice reform is in vogue on Capitol Hill. President Obama recently told the Huffington Post he plans to use his clemency powers “more aggressively” to benefit nonviolent drug offenders. In testimony before Congress last week, before a task force charged with recommending improvements to the federal prison system, Marc Mauer of the Sentencing Project said it is time to get past “modest reforms” and boldly proposed that we cap federal sentences at 20 years. “How much punishment is enough?” he asked. “What are we trying to accomplish, and where does redemption come into the picture?”

If there is room for redemption at all — and if we are honest about addressing the crisis of mass incarceration — we must start by recognizing that the 2.3 million people we have put behind bars are no less human than the rest of us. That includes many who have done terrible things. What if we gave more prisoners a second chance, some meaningful shot at parole — an opportunity to redefine their legacy, like Marty Stroud did when he sat down to write to the Shreveport Times? What kind of human potential might they reveal?

Some have made efforts to answer this question. Just a few days before Stroud wrote his letter, the Los Angeles Times profiled a group of men in at San Quentin, who as part of a writing class, were asked to invent their own obituaries. “These were people who were best known for their worst decisions — stabbing a man to death, gunning down a bystander, robbing banks,” the Times reported. But their teacher wanted the group to imagine how they might otherwise be remembered – “What is your real value?” The resulting essays yearned for redemption. One man, convicted for a gang shooting, pictured himself getting stabbed to death while trying to break up a prison fight. Another prisoner, serving more than 30 years on robbery and firearms charges, imagined dying a free man, getting hit by a car when trying to help a stranger with a flat tire. His obituary boasted that he had “finished top of his class in Janitorial duties” at San Quentin, and said that he had spent his time behind bars focused on his future. In real life, the author died less than a year later, at 42, still behind bars.

“Looking back at that period of time in my life, I was not a very nice person,” Marty Stroud admits about the man he was when he sent Glenn Ford to die. Few seem to doubt his sincerity. How many people in prison would say the same about their own worst mistakes? Would we listen?

Photo: Charles Ommanney/Getty Images

The post A Prosecutor Seeks Redemption. Can We Allow Prisoners the Same? appeared first on The Intercept.

„Halt dein Maul, sonst nehm' ich dich mit“ - Mar, 24/03/2015 - 17:52

Die Geschichte der Blockupy-Proteste wirft ein Schlaglicht darauf, wie mit Teilen der Presse umgegangen wird, wenn es um die Berichterstattung über Polizeigewalt und Demonstrationen geht -

Von WILLI EFFENBERGER, 24. März 2015 -

Im Oktober 2014 wurden drei deutsche Fotojournalisten in Diyarbakir (Kurdistan/Türkei) festgenommen. Die türkische Staatsanwaltschaft warf ihnen vor, Demonstranten aufgestachelt zu haben, beschlagnahmte ihre Fotoapparate und Telefone und unterzog sie Verhören. Der Skandal in Deutschland war klein, aber es war ein Skandal. Zu Recht. Die Türkei ist Vorreiter, wenn es darum geht, Pressefreiheit zu beschneiden und Journalisten


Einschätzung zum Militäreinsatz in Afghanistan

IMI Tübingen - Mar, 24/03/2015 - 17:03
Offiziell sollte der Militäreinsatz in Afghanistan Ende 2014 beendet sein. Davon kann natürlich keine Rede sein. Ein Interview mit Jürgen Wagner von der Informationsstelle Militarisierung in Tübingen zur Zukunft dieses Militäreinsatzes:

Ukraine: Friedensabkommen droht endgültig zu scheitern - Mar, 24/03/2015 - 08:51

Von SEBASTIAN RANGE, 24. März 2015 -

Von einer Waffenruhe im ostukrainischen Kriegsgebiet kann seit dem vergangenen Wochenende nicht mehr die Rede sein. Die mit der Überwachung der Umsetzung des Minsker Friedensabkommens beauftragte Organisation für Sicherheit und Zusammenarbeit in Europa (OSZE) berichtete über Dutzende Fälle von schwerem Beschuss in der Konfliktregion, ohne die Verantwortlichkeit festzustellen. Trotz eines vereinbarten Abzugs großkalibriger Waffen werde in den Regionen Donezk und Lugansk noch immer schwere Militärtechnik gesichtet, teilte die OSZE mit.

„Die Sicherheitslage im Donbass ist fließend und unberechenbar, und die Waffenruhe hält nicht überall“, heißt es in einem OSZE-Bericht, der mehrere Beispiele aufführt, wie sowohl


Heraus zum revolutionären 1. Mai!

Indymedia antimil - Lun, 23/03/2015 - 21:57
von: Bündnis gegen imperialistische Aggression am: 23.03.2015 - 21:57

Heraus zum revolutionären 1. Mai!
Gegen Ausbeutung und Unterdrückung!

Emails Show Jeb Bush Coordinated With Florida Legislature for Favorable Primary Date

The Intercept - Engl. - Lun, 23/03/2015 - 19:22

Emails obtained by The Intercept via a public records request reveal Jeb Bush closely coordinating with the Florida legislature to schedule Florida’s 2016 presidential primary in a way most favorable for Bush.

State Representative Matt Gaetz wrote to Bush on January 2 that he is “concerned that Florida’s current primary date will lead to proportional allocation of delegates” and that a “winner take all” system would be preferable.

“Unless you ask me otherwise, I’ll file legislation to move our primary date back a week,” Gaetz told Bush, who responded to say that his political advisor Sally Bradshaw would give Gaetz a call. “10 4,” Gaetz shot back.

The email exchange had begun with Bush emailing Gaetz, the son of State Senator Don Gaetz, president of the Florida Senate in the previous session. Bush thanked the younger Gaetz for his “willingness to head to Iowa to go door to door,” adding, “Wow, what a generous offer! Happy New Year!”

The email exchange ended on January 3. But last week the primary arrangements proposed over email became a reality.

On Thursday, Gov. Rick Scott signed a bill that sets the date of Florida’s primary as March 15, the first date on which states may award their full quantity of delegates on a winner-take-all basis under Republican National Committee rules. States scheduling primaries between March 1 and 14 must award delegates in proportion to the percentage of votes they receive or lose half their delegates, as Florida Republicans did in 2012.

As the Palm Beach Post noted, the bill appears to be a “a boon for U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio or former Gov. Jeb Bush, who both are considering a presidential run.” Such a front-loaded system often benefits establishment candidates with the most money to spend on television advertisements, as was the case with Mitt Romney in Florida in the 2012 race.

Florida, the state Bush governed for two terms, is perhaps the most important primary election for Bush in his expected quest to secure the GOP presidential nomination. Bush could lose the first few primary elections — which award delegates on a proportional basis — yet come out decisively in the lead in terms of delegates if he is able to win Florida’s winner-take-all primary, with its projected 99 delegates.

The New York Times recently reported that Bush’s political operatives have developed a confidential plan code-named “Homeland Security” to ensure victory in Florida for the primary and general election. The report notes that the Bush team intends to spend $50 million to secure support in Florida.

Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

The post Emails Show Jeb Bush Coordinated With Florida Legislature for Favorable Primary Date appeared first on The Intercept.

Informationsveranstaltung 2015-03-26

Stop G7 - Elmau 2015 - Lun, 23/03/2015 - 16:10

Nach Blockupy kommt G7! – Worum geht es und was für Aktionen sind rund um den G7-Gipfel in Elmau am 7. und 8. juni 2015 geplant? – see red! und das revolutionäre 3A-Bündnis informieren.

Kommt vorbei, informiert euch und diskutiert mit!

Cafe ab 19:00 geöffnet | Beginn 20:00 Uhr


Stop G7 - Elmau 2015 - Lun, 23/03/2015 - 15:59

Zum Jahresthema 2015 bietet FIAN 20 Multiplikator*innen eine kostenlose Fortbildung für „Gipfelstürmer*innen“ an. An zwei Wochenenden werden die Inhalte vertieft und Aktionen entwickelt.

Unter der Überschrift Die Gipfelstürmer*innen werden die Teilnehmenden Aktivitäten zur Mobilisierung des Protests in ihren Wohnorten planen und durchführen, aber auch im weiteren Jahresverlauf Veranstaltungen zum Jahresthema durchführen, beispielsweise zum Welternährungstag am 16. Oktober und dem Festival „Stadt.Land.Food“.

Übernachtung und Verpflegung sind für die TeilnehmerInnen beider Seminare kostenlos.


Stop G7 - Elmau 2015 - Lun, 23/03/2015 - 15:55

Zum Jahresthema 2015 bietet FIAN 20 Multiplikator*innen eine kostenlose Fortbildung für „Gipfelstürmer*innen“ an. An zwei Wochenenden werden die Inhalte vertieft und Aktionen entwickelt.

Unter der Überschrift Die Gipfelstürmer*innen werden die Teilnehmenden Aktivitäten zur Mobilisierung des Protests in ihren Wohnorten planen und durchführen, aber auch im weiteren Jahresverlauf Veranstaltungen zum Jahresthema durchführen, beispielsweise zum Welternährungstag am 16. Oktober und dem Festival „Stadt.Land.Food“.

Übernachtung und Verpflegung sind für die TeilnehmerInnen beider Seminare kostenlos.

G7-Aktiventreffen München

Stop G7 - Elmau 2015 - Lun, 23/03/2015 - 15:48

Servus Aktivist*Innen oder solche, die es werden wollen :)

Nach Frankfurt ist vor Elmau. Seit einigen Monaten werden die Proteste gegen den G7-Gipfel im Juni in Elmau vorbereitet. Jetzt beginnt die heiße Phase, es gibt viel zu tun, viel zu organisieren!

Veranstaltungen, Mobi-Aktionen, Flashmobs etc. pp.

Kommt vorbei, jede Idee, jede Hand und jeder Kopf wird gebraucht :)


Stop G7 - Elmau 2015 - Lun, 23/03/2015 - 15:46

Infostand zu TTIP und G7-Gipfel

Deutschland: Wi(e)der die Großmacht

IMI Tübingen - Lun, 23/03/2015 - 13:53
Die Motivation, diese Broschüre zu erstellen, liegt auf der Hand: Nach dem von langer Hand geplanten und umgesetzten Umbau der Bundeswehr zu einer „Armee im Einsatz“ (Weißbuch 2006) läutete der Auftritt von Bundespräsident Joachim Gauck bei der Münchner Sicherheitskonferenz Anfang (…)

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Protest gegen die Königsbronner Gespräche

IMI Tübingen - Lun, 23/03/2015 - 11:28
Dieser Text ist ein in der IMI-Broschüre “Deutschland: Wi(e)der die Großmacht” erschienener Text. Hier kann er als PDF im Broschürenformat heruntergeladen werden. Bisher fanden die Königsbronner Gespräche, eine militaristische Konferenz auf der Ostalb, bereits drei Mal statt. Getragen wird die (…)

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Die „neue“ Afrika-Politik der BRD – update

IMI Tübingen - Lun, 23/03/2015 - 11:09
Dieser Text ist ein für die IMI-Broschüre “Deutschland: Wi(e)der die Großmacht” überarbeiteter Text der bereits im vergangenen Jahr bei IMI hier erschien. Hier kann er als PDF im aktualisierten Broschürenformat heruntergeladen werden. Bei der Wahl zum Unwort des Jahres 2014 (…)

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Documents Reveal Canada’s Secret Hacking Tactics

The Intercept - Engl. - Lun, 23/03/2015 - 10:02

Canada’s electronic surveillance agency has secretly developed an arsenal of cyber weapons capable of stealing data and destroying adversaries’ infrastructure, according to newly revealed classified documents.

Communications Security Establishment, or CSE, has also covertly hacked into computers across the world to gather intelligence, breaking into networks in Europe, Mexico, the Middle East, and North Africa, the documents show.

The revelations, reported Monday by CBC News in collaboration with The Intercept, shine a light for the first time on how Canada has adopted aggressive tactics to attack, sabotage, and infiltrate targeted computer systems.

The latest disclosures come as the Canadian government debates whether to hand over more powers to its spies to disrupt threats as part of the controversial anti-terrorism law, Bill C-51.

Christopher Parsons, a surveillance expert at the University of Toronto’s Citizen Lab, told CBC News that the new revelations showed that Canada’s computer networks had already been “turned into a battlefield without any Canadian being asked: Should it be done? How should it be done?”

According to documents obtained by The Intercept from National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden, CSE has a wide range of powerful tools to perform “computer network exploitation” and “computer network attack” operations. These involve hacking into networks to either gather intelligence or to damage adversaries’ infrastructure, potentially including electricity, transportation or banking systems. The most well-known example of a state-sponsored “attack” operation involved the use of Stuxnet, a computer worm that was reportedly developed by the United States and Israel to sabotage Iranian nuclear facilities.

One document from CSE, dated from 2011, outlines the range of methods the Canadian agency has at its disposal as part of a “cyber activity spectrum” to both defend against hacking attacks and to perpetrate them. CSE says in the document that it can “disable adversary infrastructure,” “control adversary infrastructure,” or “destroy adversary infrastructure” using the attack techniques. It can also insert malware “implants” on computers to steal data.

The document suggests CSE has access to a series of sophisticated malware tools developed by the NSA as part of a program known as QUANTUM. As The Intercept has previously reported, the QUANTUM malware can be used for a range of purposes – such as to infect a computer and copy data stored on its hard drive, to block targets from accessing certain websites, or to disrupt their file downloads. Some of the QUANTUM techniques rely on redirecting a targeted person’s internet browser to a malicious version of a popular website, such as Facebook, that then covertly infects their computer with the malware.

According to one top-secret NSA briefing paper, dated from 2013, Canada is considered an important player in global hacking operations. Under the heading “NSA and CSEC cooperate closely in the following areas,” the paper notes that the agencies work together on “active computer network access and exploitation on a variety of foreign intelligence targets, including CT [counter terrorism], Middle East, North Africa, Europe, and Mexico.” (The NSA had not responded to a request for comment at time of publication. The agency has previously told The Intercept that it “works with foreign partners to address a wide array of serious threats, including terrorist plots, the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, and foreign aggression.”)

Notably, CSE has gone beyond just adopting a range of tools to hack computers.

According to the Snowden documents, it has a range of “deception techniques” in its toolbox. These include “false flag” operations to “create unrest” and using so-called “effects” operations to “alter adversary perception.” A false-flag operation usually means carrying out an attack but making it look like it was performed by another group – in this case, likely another government or hacker. Effects operations can involve sending out propaganda across social media or disrupting communications services. The newly revealed documents also reveal that CSE says it can plant a “honeypot” as part of its deception tactics, possibly a reference to some sort of bait posted online that lures in targets so that they can be hacked or monitored.

The apparent involvement of CSE in using the deception tactics suggests it is operating in the same area as a secretive British unit known as JTRIG, a division of the country’s eavesdropping agency Government Communications Headquarters, or GCHQ. Last year, The Intercept published documents from Snowden showing that the JTRIG unit uses a range of effects operations to manipulate information online, such as by rigging the outcome of online polls, sending out fake messages on Facebook across entire countries, and posting negative information about targets online to damage their reputations.

CSE declined to comment on any specific details contained in the latest revelations. In a general statement issued to The Intercept and CBC News, a spokesman for the agency said: “In moving from ideas or concepts to planning and implementation, we examine proposals closely to ensure that they comply with the law and internal policies, and that they ultimately lead to effective and efficient ways to protect Canada and Canadians against threats.”

The spokesman said that some of the Snowden documents do “not necessarily reflect current CSE practices or programs.” But he refused to explain which capabilities detailed in the documents the agency is not using, if any. Doing so, he said, would breach the Security of Information Act, a Canadian law designed to protect state secrets.

Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

The post Documents Reveal Canada’s Secret Hacking Tactics appeared first on The Intercept.


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