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Former Qwest CEO says refusal to comply with NSA spying landed him in jail

RT | October 1, 2013

nacchioFormer Qwest CEO Joseph Nacchio, who spent over four years in prison for insider trading, now says his conviction was based on his company’s refusal to cooperate with NSA requests to spy on its customers.

Nacchio says he feels “vindicated” by ongoing revelations provided by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden that the NSA does, in fact, access massive amounts of metadata and communications information of both foreigners and Americans.

Nacchio told The Wall Street Journal that the NSA set up a meeting with him in February 2001 wherein he believed they would discuss potential government contracts. But he says the NSA instead asked him for permission to surveil Qwest customers.

He says he refused to cooperate based on advice from his lawyers that such an action would be illegal, as the NSA would not go through the normal process of asking the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court for a subpoena. About this time, he says the company’s ability to win unrelated government contracts – something it did not have trouble with before the NSA meeting – slowed significantly.

It took until 2007 before Nacchio was convicted of insider trading. Prosecutors claim he was guilty of selling off Qwest stock in early 2001, not long before the company went through financial ills. Nevertheless, he claimed in court documents that he was still confident in the firm’s ability to win government contracts.

Nacchio believes his conviction was in retaliation for his refusal to play ball with legally dubious NSA spying requests.

“I never broke the law, and I never will,” Nacchio told the WSJ.

His version of events matches reporting by USA Today in 2006, in which the paper noted that Qwest was the lone holdout from the government’s warrantless surveillance operations and that defiance “might affect its ability to get future classified work with the government.”

Yet despite his efforts, Nacchio was barred from using any evidence of potential retaliation in his defense, given that the material was considered classified, and his judge refused requests to allow the evidence in trial. Reports from The Washington Post on evidence that has been made public on his case since that time seem consistent with the CEO’s claims.

As a result of his likely hobbled defense, Nacchio was indicted by federal prosecutors and served four-and-a half years in federal prisons before being released in late September.

The NSA has declined to comment on Nacchio, according to the WSJ and The Washington Post.

While spying operations disclosed by Snowden have had some level of legal backing, President George W. Bush’s wiretapping program did not. Thus, telecom companies that cooperated with the program were eventually given immunity for their compliance in 2008.

October 1, 2013 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Deception, Full Spectrum Dominance, Subjugation - Torture | , , , , , | Comments Off on Former Qwest CEO says refusal to comply with NSA spying landed him in jail

Snowden Accuses UK Gov’t Of Leaking Documents He Never Leaked To Make Him Look Bad

By Mike Masnick | Techdirt | August 23, 2013

The UK’s Independent newspaper today had an “exclusive” article, in which they claim that documents from Ed Snowden’s leaks revealed a secret internet surveillance base in the Middle East run by the UK government. There’s just one problem. While the article implies (though does not state) that it got those documents from Snowden, Snowden says he’s never talked to nor given anything to The Independent. Instead, he argues, that he’s worked carefully with key journalists (namely, Glenn Greenwald, Laura Poitras, and Barton Gellman) to make sure that the things they publish don’t reveal anything that might put anyone in danger. Snowden suggests, instead, that this is the UK government itself releasing this information in an attempt to “defend” the detention of David Miranda.

I have never spoken with, worked with, or provided any journalistic materials to the Independent. The journalists I have worked with have, at my request, been judicious and careful in ensuring that the only things disclosed are what the public should know but that does not place any person in danger. People at all levels of society up to and including the President of the United States have recognized the contribution of these careful disclosures to a necessary public debate, and we are proud of this record.

It appears that the UK government is now seeking to create an appearance that the Guardian and Washington Post’s disclosures are harmful, and they are doing so by intentionally leaking harmful information to The Independent and attributing it to others. The UK government should explain the reasoning behind this decision to disclose information that, were it released by a private citizen, they would argue is a criminal act.

If you read the Independent’s coverage carefully, they never actually claim they got the documents from Snowden, even if they leave that impression. Instead, they claim that “information on [the base’s] activities was contained in the leaked documents obtained from the NSA by Edward Snowden.” In other words, they got that information from someone else — almost certainly the UK government. And, yes, that’s convenient timing for the UK government to claim that some of the documents that Snowden downloaded might contain useful information to terrorists, so that they can then turn around and argue that they detained Miranda and took all of his electronics (and destroyed a Guardian hard drive) to avoid having this information “fall into the hands of terrorists.”

The Independent article also implies that the UK government is afraid that Greenwald is going to start revealing this type of info in response to the Miranda detention, even though there’s no basis to believe that all. Greenwald has been quite careful so far not to reveal any information that puts anyone at risk, so it’s odd to believe that he’d start doing so now. Of course, it’s fairly bizarre since the Independent story itself contains tons of details — the kinds of details that Greenwald has avoided.

If Snowden’s assertion is correct — and it does seem like the most plausible argument at this point — then it highlights the ridiculous lengths to which the UK government is going: releasing potentially damaging information that Snowden himself has avoided revealing just to suggest that Snowden was leaking damaging information. Incredible.

August 23, 2013 Posted by | Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Snowden Accuses UK Gov’t Of Leaking Documents He Never Leaked To Make Him Look Bad

Guardian editor on Miranda detention: ‘Terror and journalism being aligned’

RT | August 21, 2013

The UK government created a “lawless bit of Britain” under the terror act which suspends all checks and balances, Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger said in an interview, adding that the paper is financing David Miranda’s lawsuit against the Home Office.

Rusbridger called ports and airport transit lounges a “stateless bit of Britain,” where a government can use the word “terror” to “suspend all the normal rules.”

The comment was made in reference to UK authorities detaining and questioning David Miranda, the partner of Guardian journalist Glenn Greenwald, for nine hours in London’s Heathrow airport on Sunday under Schedule 7 of the UK’s anti-terrorism law.

Miranda told the BBC in an interview that he felt threatened during his 9-hour detention and as if “he were naked in front of a crowd.”

Greewald’s partner said that he was “forced to give passwords” to email and social media accounts to his interrogators. Authorities allegedly threatened him with prison if he did not comply.

Inside Britain, journalists and anyone else carrying material have more opportunities to stand their ground. “You can go before a judge, you can argue about public interest and the public interest of that work,” Rusbridger said.

“The disturbing thing about the way they treated Miranda was the use of this terror act, and there is a little noticed section there, Schedule 7, which effectively suspends all the normal checks and balances that you would have if you were arrested in the Heathrow car park,” he added.

Rusbridger believes there are “confusions in law” when it comes to where you are when you’re in a transit lounge and “whose laws you apply to.”

The UK created this “lawless bit of Britain” over a decade ago, according to the editor. It is a place “where anybody can be questioned for up to nine hours without access to a solicitor and where all your belongings can be confiscated and there’s nothing you can do about it,” he said.

Financing Miranda’s lawsuit

Rusbridger revealed that the Guardian is funding Miranda’s legal actions as he seeks a judicial review of the legal basis for his detention and assurances that the property seized from him by police will not be examined.

“The Guardian is supporting that action and we are supporting that in terms of financing it, because David Miranda was acting on behalf of Glenn Greenwald at the time that he was detained. I think it’s a good thing to challenge that law and see exactly why terror and journalism are being aligned in this disturbing way.”

“Miranda wasn’t really on assignment, he is Glenn Greenwald’s partner and Glenn Greenwald is a very busy man and he assists Glenn in his journalistic work. And he was acting as a messenger or intermediary in a way that is difficult for Glenn at the moment because he’s got a lot of work to be doing in Brazil and I think he’s also a bit nervous about traveling at the moment.”

‘The best choice was to destroy hard drives’

Rusbridger also explained that he chose to destroy the Guardian’s hard drives instead of complying with the government because he wanted to avoid a legal dead-end, where the paper would be prevented from publishing Snowden’s leaked documents.

“We were faced effectively with an ultimatum from the British government that if we didn’t hand back the material or destroy it then they would move to law,” he said. “That would mean prior restraint, a concept that is anathema in America and other parts of the world, in which the state can effectively prevent a publisher from publishing, and I didn’t want to get into that position.”

Rusbridger revealed in an article posted on the British newspaper’s website on Monday that intelligence officials from the Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) told him that he would either have to hand over all the classified documents or have the newspaper’s hard drives destroyed.

Rusbridger told security officials that the Guardian had other copies in America and Brazil, “so they wouldn’t be achieving anything.”

“But once it was obvious that they would be going to law, I would rather destroy the copy than hand it back to them or allow the courts to freeze our reporting.”

“I don’t think we had Snowden’s consent to hand it back and I didn’t want to help the UK authorities know what he had given us. So to me I was not going to hand it back to the government and I was happy to destroy it because it was not going to inhibit our reporting, we would simply do it from America and not from London.”

Rusbridger described the UK as being “genuinely torn” during negotiations.

“To begin with they were reasonable conversations, it was a reasonable dialogue and all I can say is that at some point something changed and that switched into a threat of legal action. I don’t know what changed or why they changed, I imagine there were different conversations going on within the security apparatus within Whitehall and within Downing Street and at some point a message came to me that we had had our fun and that the time had come to return the documents.” 

Revealing the destruction of hard drives

Rusbridger told The Huffington Post that the Guardian could not reveal the destruction of the hard drives earlier because of “operational reasons.”

“Having been through this and not written about it on the day for operational reasons, I was sort of waiting for a moment when the government’s attitude to journalism – when there was an issue that made this relevant,” Rusbridger said.

The editor believed that moment was Miranda’s detention.

“The fact that David Miranda had been detained under this slightly obscure schedule of the terrorism act seemed a useful moment to write about the background to the government’s attitude to this in general,” he said.

When asked why the Guardian did not devote a front-page article to the issue, Rusbridger said “it was a personal take really.”

“I felt this was a piece of background that readers ought to know about it, but I wanted to write about it in my voice instead of putting in a news story.”

“It wasn’t immediate news…it felt more natural to write about it in a more discursive way,” he added.

‘On a road to total surveillance’

The Guardian editor highlighted that in this age of “mass collection of millions of emails, details of phone calls, texts…the business of reporting securely and having confidential sources is becoming difficult.”

“Journalists should be aware of the difficulties they are going to face in the future because everybody in 2013 leaves a very big digital trail, which is very easily accessed.”

Snowden risked his own freedom to draw attention to the “degree to which we are on a road to total surveillance, we are not there yet, but in these documents there is the stated ambition to scoop up everything and save it all and to master the internet.”

Rusbridger argued that the UK faces the danger of being “complacent about what is being revealed.”

August 21, 2013 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Guardian editor on Miranda detention: ‘Terror and journalism being aligned’

UK ordered Guardian to destroy hard drives in effort to stop Snowden revelations

RT | August 20, 2013

UK authorities reportedly raided the Guardian’s office in London to destroy hard drives in an effort to stop future publications of leaks from former NSA contractor Edward Snowden. The action is unlikely to prevent new materials coming out.

Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger revealed in a Monday article posted on the British newspaper’s website that intelligence officials from the Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) told him that he would either have to hand over all the classified documents or have the newspaper’s hard drives destroyed.

After more talks, two “security experts” from GCHQ – the British version of the National Security Agency – visited the Guardian’s London offices.

Rusbridger wrote that the government officials then watched as computers, which contained classified information passed on by Snowden, were physically destroyed in one of the newspaper building’s basements.

“We can call off the black helicopters,” Rusbridger said one of the officials joked.

Another source familiar with the event confirmed to Reuters that Guardian employees destroyed the computers as UK officials observed.

During negotiations with the government, Rusbridger said that the newspaper could not fulfill its journalistic duty if it satisfied the authorities’ requests.

But GCHQ reportedly responded by telling the Guardian that it had already sparked the debate, which was enough.

“You’ve had your debate. There’s no need to write any more,” Reuters quoted the unnamed official as saying.

In the article, Rusbridger explained that because of existing “international collaborations” between journalists, it was still possible to report the story and “take advantage of the most permissive legal environments.”

“I explained to the man from Whitehall about the nature of international collaborations… Bluntly, we did not have to do our reporting from London. Already most of the NSA stories were being reported and edited out of New York. And had it occurred to him that [reporter Glenn] Greenwald lived in Brazil?” wrote Rusbridger.

“The man was unmoved. And so one of the more bizarre moments in the Guardian’s long history occurred – with two GCHQ security experts overseeing the destruction of hard drives in the Guardian’s basement just to make sure there was nothing in the mangled bits of metal which could possibly be of any interest to passing Chinese agents.”

Rusbridger pointed out that the whole incident felt like a “pointless piece of symbolism that understood nothing about the digital age.”

The news comes after Sunday’s international incident during which David Miranda, the partner of Guardian journalist Glenn Greenwald, was held at Heathrow airport under the UK Terrorism Act for the maximum time allowed before pressing charges. Greenwald was the reporter who exclusively broke the Snowden story.

The editor promised that the Guardian will “continue to do patient, painstaking reporting on the Snowden documents, we just won’t do it in London. The seizure of Miranda’s laptop, phones, hard drives and camera will similarly have no effect on Greenwald’s work.”

Another US security source told Reuters that Miranda’s detention was meant to send a message to those who received Snowden’s classified documents, about how serious the UK is in closing all the leaks in relation to the whistleblower’s revelations.

Greenwald, who first published secrets leaked by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, responded by promising to release more documents. He added that the UK would be “sorry” for detaining his partner for nine hours.

Snowden, who has been granted asylum by Russia, gave Greenwald up to 20,000 documents with details about the US National Security Agency and the UK’s GCHQ surveillance operations.

‘US is the intellectual author behind detention of Miranda’

Lawyer Eva Golinger told RT that the UK has violated all concepts of freedom of the press. “We are talking about a media outlet. Journalists and their spouses and partners being detained and interrogated. So clearly there has been a decision made that everything related to Edward Snowden must be captured no matter what, violating anyone’s right under any country’s laws.”

Golinger believes that government’s pressure on journalists could inspire some to cover the topic of government surveillance even more, instead of discouraging them to do so.

“The more principled the people reporting are, the more they will continue to pursue that work in the face of threat. Such cheap threats and intimidation give people even more reasons to continue doing what they are doing because it shows that those in power are clearly frightened of the information that is being put out,” she explained.

“At the same time it could certainly intimidate other journalists and create the environment of self-censorship, where many would be unwilling to take the risks that are involved with national security reporting, particularly when it comes to the US.”

Golinger argued that US is the “intellectual author behind the detainment of Miranda.”

“We are talking about a search and capture that is going on for Edward Snowden and it is the US that is leading that effort. It is not the UK or other European nations, they are merely abiding by the wishes of the US…What I believe is that Washington has simply put out a request to all of its allies that anyone related to Edward Snowden must be detained if they come into your territory and the UK abided by that and did their duty.”

August 20, 2013 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance | , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on UK ordered Guardian to destroy hard drives in effort to stop Snowden revelations

Snowden: NSA targeted journalists critical of government after 9/11

By Jonathan Easley | The Hill  | August 13, 2013

Leaker Edward Snowden accused the National Security Agency of targeting reporters who wrote critically about the government after the 9/11 attacks and warned it was “unforgivably reckless” for journalists to use unencrypted email messages when discussing sensitive matters.

Snowden said in an interview with the New York Times Magazine published Tuesday that he came to trust Laura Poitras, the documentary filmmaker who, along with Guardian reporter Glenn Greenwald, helped report his disclosure of secret surveillance programs, because she herself had been targeted by the NSA.

“Laura and [Guardian reporter] Glenn [Greenwald] are among the few who reported fearlessly on controversial topics throughout this period, even in the face of withering personal criticism, and resulted in Laura specifically becoming targeted by the very programs involved in the recent disclosures,” Snowden said for the article, a profile of Poitras.

Snowden didn’t detail how Poitras was targeted by the NSA surveillance programs he disclosed, but suggested the agency tracked her emails and cautioned other journalists that they could be under surveillance.

“I was surprised to realize that there were people in news organizations who didn’t recognize any unencrypted message sent over the Internet is being delivered to every intelligence service in the world,” he said. “In the wake of this year’s disclosures, it should be clear that unencrypted journalist-source communication is unforgivably reckless.”

Snowden, who at one point in the interview referred to himself as “famously paranoid,” said he came to trust Poitras because she was one of the few journalists “to challenge the excesses of the government” during a time of “heightened nationalism.”

“After 9/11, many of the most important news outlets in American abdicated their role as a check to power – the journalistic responsibility to challenge the excesses of government – for fear of being seen as unpatriotic and punished in the market during a period of heightened nationalism,” he said.

“From a business perspective, this was the obvious strategy,” he continued. “But what benefitted the institutions ended up costing the public dearly. The major outlets are still only beginning to recover from this cold period. Laura and Glenn are among the few who reported fearlessly on controversial topics.”

Earlier this month, the Russian government granted Snowden temporary asylum. The U.S. government wants the NSA leaker sent back to face trial on espionage charges.

August 14, 2013 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Deception, Full Spectrum Dominance | , , , | Comments Off on Snowden: NSA targeted journalists critical of government after 9/11

IRS gets help from DEA and NSA to collect data

By Robert Bridge | RT | August 8, 2013

The Internal Revenue Service reportedly received incriminating information on US citizens from the Drug Enforcement Agency, with the assistance of the National Security Agency, before concealing the paper trail from defendants.

Details of a Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) program that provides tips to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and then advises them to “recreate the investigative trail” were published in a manual used by IRS agents for two years, Reuters revealed.

The practice of concealing the source of information has attracted the scrutiny of legal experts and is now under review by the US Justice Department.

A brief entry in the Internal Revenue Manual instructed agents of the US tax agency to omit any reference to information provided by the DEA’s Special Operations Division, especially with regard to “affidavits, court proceedings or investigative files.”

The entry was published and posted online in 2005 and 2006, and removed in early 2007.  An IRS spokesman had no comment on the entry or on why it was removed from the manual, Reuters reported.

The IRS publication provides some further detail on the parallel construction concept.

“Special Operations Division has the ability to collect, collate, analyze, evaluate, and disseminate information and intelligence derived from worldwide multi-agency sources, including classified projects,” the IRS manual says. “SOD converts extremely sensitive information into usable leads and tips which are then passed to the field offices for real-time enforcement activity against major international drug trafficking organizations.”

According to the document, IRS agents are directed to use the intelligence as a starting point for unearthing new, “independent” evidence: “Usable information regarding these leads must be developed from such independent sources as investigative files, subscriber and toll requests, physical surveillance, wire intercepts, and confidential source information. Information obtained from SOD in response to a search or query request cannot be used directly in any investigation (i.e. cannot be used in affidavits, court proceedings or maintained in investigative files).”

In addition to the IRS, the Special Operations Division cooperates with a number of government agencies, including the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the National Security Agency and the Central Intelligence Agency.

The way the intelligence-gathering system worked is as follows: The Special Operations Division of the DEA channels secret data from overseas NSA intercepts, domestic wiretaps, informants and a large DEA database of telephone records to authorities nationwide to assist them with criminal investigations of US citizens, according to the Reuters report.

The DEA telephone database is different from the NSA database that was revealed by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, who is now living in Russia under asylum.

The DEA, which works behind the scenes to investigate drug dealers, money launderers and other criminals, argues that the practice does not violate the law and has been in “near-daily use since the 1990s.” The agency said the reason it directs federal agents to recreate the investigation trail is to “protect sources and methods, not to withhold evidence.”

Judicial hurdles ahead

Legal experts, however, say that concealing potential evidence from defendants violates the US Constitution. According to documents and interviews obtained by Reuters, federal agents use a procedure called “parallel construction” to conceal the tracks of the investigative trail. For example, agents could say that an investigation was launched due to a traffic violation as opposed to an SOD tip.

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers expressed concern with the parallel construction program.

“If they’re recreating a trail, that’s wrong and we’re going to have to do something about it,” Rogers, a former FBI agent, said on the Mike Huckabee Show radio program. “We’re working with the DEA and intelligence organizations to try to find out exactly what that story is.”

Spokespeople for the DEA and the Department of Justice declined to comment.

Sen. Rand Paul, a member of the Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee, said he was troubled that DEA agents have been “trying to cover up a program that investigates Americans.”

“If the Constitution still has any sway, a government that is constantly overreaching on security while completely neglecting liberty is in grave violation of our founding doctrine,” Paul added

The NSA database contains data about every telephone call made inside of the United States. This information, according to a NSA official, as quoted by Reuters, “is not used for domestic criminal law enforcement.”

The DEA database, or DICE for short, consists largely of phone log and internet data gathered legally by the DEA through “subpoenas, arrests and search warrants nationwide.” DICE has on file “about 1 billion records,” which are stored for about one year before being destroyed, DEA officials said.

August 8, 2013 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Deception, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on IRS gets help from DEA and NSA to collect data

Snowden deals blow to ‘global electronic prison camp’ – Russian Orthodox Church

RT | July 30, 2013

Archpriest Vsevolod Chaplin has praised Russian authorities for not caving in to pressure from abroad, saying granting asylum to US whistleblower Edward Snowden would help prevent the establishment of a ‘global electronic prison camp’.

“It is encouraging news that Russia is demonstrating its independence in this case as it has in many others, despite the pressure” said the head of the Holy Synod’s Department for Relations between the Church and Society.

Vsevolod Chaplin added that the Snowden saga has been broadly discussed both on the domestic and international level, with Russia’s position potentially bolstering its image as a country upholding “the true freedom of ideals.”

The Russian cleric further argued that Snowden’s revelations confirmed the existence of a pernicious problem discussed by Orthodox Christians for many years – “the prospective of a global electronic-totalitarian prison camp”.

“First they get people addicted to convenient means of communication with the authorities, businesses and among each other. In a while people become rigidly connected to these services and as a result the economic and political owners of these services get tremendous and terrifying power. They cannot help feeling the temptation to use this power to control the personality and such control might eventually be much stricter that all known totalitarian systems of the twentieth century,” Interfax news agency quoted Chaplin as saying.

The church official added that in his view true democracy remained an unreachable ideal.

“Any political system fixes the domination of a few over many. In the twentieth century the harshest forms of such political power used brute force, but now they are using soft power, through total data collecting and through soft persuasion of people, first through slogans but then through legal acts,” Chaplin explained. He noted that currently the soft power system was promoting such topics as declaring the western political system as the only viable option, making religion a marginal trend, and sidelining both criticism of market fundamentalism and leftist political platforms.

Chaplin urged Russian authorities to defend “real freedom, the freedom from the global ideological dictate and from the electronic prison camp.”

The cleric also offered a possible solution – the development of its own electronic communications system that would be independent from foreign-based mediums. “The nation has the brains for this and I hope we will also have a will,” Chaplin declared.

Russia is currently considering Edward Snowden’s request for temporary asylum and the former NSA contractor still remains in the transit zone of the Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport.

The Russian Justice Ministry on Tuesday sent a formal response to a letter from US Attorney General, who assured Moscow that Snowden would not face the prospect of death or torture if handed over to the United States.

The Russian ministry did not provide the details of its reply to the press.

July 31, 2013 Posted by | Full Spectrum Dominance | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Holder’s desperate letter proves Mr. Snowden is in grave danger

By John Robles | The Voice Of Russia | July 28, 2013

The Attorney General of the United States of America Eric Holder has taken the unusual step of writing a letter to the Russian Federation essentially making promises that United States will do nothing unusual or in any way against U.S. law if the Russian Federation will just put aside its own norms, the Russian Constitution, international law and conventions and just, as the U.S. Ambassador put it, “return” Mr. Edward Snowden to the United States.

The Attorney General begins his letter by listing the “crimes” that Mr. Snowden is charged with ignoring the fact that the laws that Mr. Snowden is said to have broken are not crimes in the Russian Federation, or perhaps Mr. General is under the assumption that U.S. law somehow is something that the rest of the world must abide by and follow.

Judging from the real and documented history of the United States, the country possesses a total lack of respect or regard for international law and the laws of other sovereign nations, especially the Russian Federation. This is evident from the illegal invasions of sovereign nations, illegal torture programs, extra-judicial executions by drone and other means and with regard to Russia, the continuous illegal kidnapping and rendition of Russian citizens back to the United States.

I have been documenting these crimes for over a decade and have been the victim of similar U.S. ‘retribution”, so hearing the Attorney General preach to Russia about U.S. law as it is engaging in asking Russia to also set aside its Constitution, as the U.S. does, and engage in double standards and hypocrisy, is something nauseating to say the least.

The sheer hypocrisy that is evident in the U.S. actions surrounding Mr. Snowden and the level of desperation that the U.S. has shown are simply mind boggling in their breadth and scope.

Mr. Holder writes:

“Mr. Snowden believes that he is unable to travel out of Russia and must therefore take steps to legalize his status. That is not accurate; he is able to travel. Despite the revocation of his passport on June 22, 2013, Mr. Snowden remains a U.S. citizen. He is eligible for a limited validity passport good for direct return to the United States. The United States is willing to immediately issue such a passport to Mr. Snowden.”

The whole point, in case Mr. Holder has missed it, which it is obvious he has, is that Mr. Snowden has been granted political asylum in several countries and had wanted to travel to those countries. Not face death or torture at the hands of a government that has secret torture prisons, launches wars of aggression at every political whim, has off-shore indefinite detention facilities and engages in regular extra-judicial executions, just to name a few of the continuing violations of international norms that the U.S. is guilty of.

Such a government can and must never be trusted and that is a fact that can in no way be known better than by someone like Mr. Snowden who worked for the CIA and the NSA. So a one way ticket to America is not an option Mr. Holder. No one in their right mind would trust any of the assurances given by Holder, and Mr. Snowden is right, and moreover, has the right, to seek asylum and be protected.

Holder:

“We also understand from press reports that Mr. Snowden has filed papers seeking temporary asylum in Russia on the grounds that if he were returned to the United States, he would be tortured and would face the death penalty. These claims are entirely without merit.”

Again are we supposed to forget the last several decades of world history? Are we supposed to forget Manning who has been tortured, are we to forget Abu-Ghraib, Guantanamo and even ex Vice President Richard Chaney signing off on such torture techniques as “puncturing an eye” and “slicing a testicle”? Are we to forget case after case after case and report after report of other instances of torture, extra-judicial executions and even innocent men and women being executed when there was evidence that exonerated them?

Mr. Holder insults our intelligence.

“Second, Mr. Snowden will not be tortured. Torture is unlawful in the United States…”

It is interesting to note that he says “unlawful” and not “illegal” and this whole argument is absurd regardless of the wording because we know the U.S. renditions people all the time to countries where torture is legal and we know the U.S. has its own special off-shore torture prison at Guantanamo. Simply unbelievable.

The rest of the letter goes on to say that Mr. Snowden would be granted a fair trial blah blah blah… Yeah good one Mr. Holder, just like the NATO 5, Jeremy Hammond, Bradley Manning, Julian Assange, Muammar Gaddafi, Saddam Hussein, everyone who has ever been droned, the hundreds of men at Guantanamo and let’s not forget how Trayvon Martin’s family got justice, etc. ad-nauseum.

The United States has become a rogue illegal nation and the continued persecution of Mr. Edward Snowden, a young man who exposed that rogue nation’s illegality against the world and its own citizens and more importantly Mr. Holder, against the very Constitution you are sworn to uphold, prove beyond all doubt that Mr. Snowden is in very grave and imminent danger.

Please don’t insult the intelligence of the world and the Russian Government by engaging in such ridiculous letter writing Mr. Holder. We all know that once Mr. Snowden is in your hands, and I pray for him that never happens, he will be interrogated using your “enhanced interrogation techniques” until he goes insane or kills himself and if he does survive he will be locked in solitary confinement under special observation until the day he dies, that is of course if he is not executed, as nothing will stop you from executing him once he is in your hands.

Will a letter from the Russian Government saying execution is illegal stop you if there comes a day when the switch is about to be pulled on Mr. Snowden? No. So why should your false guarantees force Russia to violate its own Constitution?

By the way Mr. Holder, how are Mr. Bout and Mr. Yaroshenko faring after you illegally renditioned them from third countries? Rule of law? Only when it is convenient for you and those in power. Mr. Snowden exposed your illegality, as did I and we know what happens to those who expose the illegality of the Imperial United States of America. Just ask Julian Assange.

And lastly, just in case Mr. Holder was not aware: The Russian Government knows what you are up to better than you think Mr. Holder, Russian officials and the Russian Government are not fools, after all Mr. Snowden won’t be the first American who has received asylum in Russia due to the illegality of the American state. He won’t be the first, because actually, I was.

The opinions and views expressed here are my own I can be reached at robles@ruvr.ru.

July 29, 2013 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance, Subjugation - Torture | , , , | Comments Off on Holder’s desperate letter proves Mr. Snowden is in grave danger

A Shameful Day to Be a US Citizen

AG Holder promises Russia not to torture Snowden

By Dave Lindorff | This Can’t Be Happening | July 27th, 2013

I have been deeply ashamed of my country a number of times. The Nixon Christmas bombing of Hanoi and Haiphong was one such time, when hospitals, schools and dikes were targeted. The invasion of Iraq was another. Washington’s silence over the fatal Israeli Commando raid on the Gaza Peace Flotilla–in which a 19-year-old unarmed American boy was murdered–was a third. But I think I have never been as ashamed and disgusted as I was today reading that US Attorney General Eric Holder had sent a letter to the Russian minister of justice saying that the US would “not seek the death penalty” in its espionage case against National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden, promising that even if the US later brought added charges against Snowden after obtaining him, they would not include any death penalty, and vowing that if Snowden were handed over by Russia to the US, he would “not be tortured.”

So it has come to this: That the United States has to promise (to Russia!) that it will not torture a prisoner in its control — a US citizen at that — and so therefore that person, Edward Snowden, has no basis for claiming that he should be “treated as a refugee or granted asylum.”

Why does Holder have to make these pathetic representations to his counterpart in Russia?

Because Snowden has applied for asylum saying that he is at risk of torture or execution if returned to the US to face charges for leaking documents showing that the US government is massively violating the civil liberties and privacy of every American by monitoring every American’s electronic communications.

Snowden has made that claim in seeking asylum because he knows that another whistleblower, Pvt. Bradley Manning, was in fact tortured by the US for months, and held without trial in solitary confinement for over a year before being finally put on trial in a kangaroo court, where the judge is as much prosecutor as jurist, and where his guilt was declared in advance by the President of the United States — the same president who has also already publicly declared Snowden guilty too.

It is incredibly shameful that we US citizens have to admit that we live in a country that tortures its prisoners, that casually executes people who are mentally retarded, who are innocent, who had defense attorneys who slept through their clients’ trials, whose prosecutors slept with the judge, who were denied access to DNA evidence that could have proven their innocence, or who were convicted based upon the lies of prosecutors and prosecution witnesses.

This country’s “justice” system has become so perverted and politically tainted that the rest of the world, including Russia, knows that Snowden is telling the truth when he says he cannot hope to receive a fair trial here. Indeed, Congress has passed laws, and the President has signed laws, giving this government the power to lock someone like Snowden up indefinitely without trial, to torture him, and even to kill him, not through a jury decision on capital punishment, but simply on the basis of a secret “finding” by the President that he has aided or abetted terrorism.

No wonder Russia and several other countries, including Venezuela, Bolivia and Nicaragua, have offered or are considering offering Snowden asylum.

And no wonder that, in its obsession with getting its tyrannical hands on him, this government is willing to promise (for what a promise from the US government is worth) not to kill him or torture him.

Shame and anger are the only appropriate responses to that letter from Holder.

If this were a country that honored the rule of law, Attorney General Holder would not need to promise not to torture. He would need only to point to the US Constitution, with its ban on “cruel and unusual punishment.” He would not need to promise a fair trial to Snowden, with no capital punishment on any charges. He could point instead to the Constitution’s promise of a presumption of innocence and of a public trial by a jury of the accused’s peers, to make the case against the granting of asylum.

In such a country, someone like Snowden, with the help of a crack legal team, would have a fair shot at proving to a jury his innocence of the government’s frivolous espionage charges. He’d have a fair chance of convincing at least one juror of his absolute innocence of any crime, making his conviction impossible.

But that is not what this country is, especially today.

In today’s US courts, we know the “Justice” Department would seek to bar testimony about Snowden’s motives in leaking the documents he downloaded from the NSA’s computers. They would ask the judge to limit defense arguments and testimony in the case to the narrow issue of whether or not he downloaded and leaked files, not to whether those files exposed Constitutional violations and needed to be brought to the public’s attention. Our judges, nominated by presidents and confirmed by senators, Democrat and Republican, who want jurists who favor government secrecy and who generally side with the government against the people, can be counted on to grant the government’s motions.

In such circumstances, a defendant like Snowden, facing charges of espionage or theft of government secrets, has no ability to defend himself. The trial would be like in a Lewis Carroll event: “Verdict first, trial later!”

Hopefully President Vladimir Putin will not be pressured by the US into pretending that Snowden has nothing to fear in going back to face “justice” in the US.

It is bad enough that we Americans have to hang our heads in shame as our Attorney General pretends, against all evidence to the contrary, that there is still a fair legal system operating in the US, and that the US respects human rights and the rule of law.

We should not have to also endure yet another kangaroo court trial, this time of Edward Snowden.

Snowden should be granted asylum in Russia, or should be allowed to travel to one of the other countries of his choice that have had the courage to offer him asylum.

If we’re going to have trials on the issue of spying in the US, let them be of Holder himself, and of President Obama.

July 27, 2013 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Progressive Hypocrite | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Does the Right to Privacy Now Apply Only to the US Government?

By JAMES ROTHENBERG | July 25, 2013

Whatever our opinion of Edward Snowden, if we’re fair we see it being formed from a neutral perspective. This is because he was, until recently, a complete unknown. Snowden’s antagonist, the United States Government (USG), occupies the established part of this relationship in our minds.

How do we come to form our opinions? Largely from assessing new information against the background of existing information, in this case, what we know, or, what we believe we know. It’s clear that whatever our opinion of Snowden is is every bit as much a statement about our opinion of the USG.

The USG is not a blank background against which to measure the pros and cons of Snowden’s actions. My contention is simply this: In order to have achieved a position on Snowden close to neutral supposes a worldview in which the US is a neutral reactor to world events and is bent on opposing evil in the interest of creating a more secure world. This is not the history of states, particularly ours.

Even with only an appreciation of very recent American history, we are brought face to face with incessant bombing, crippling sanctions that harm a country’s “little people”, white phosphorus, napalm, depleted uranium, civilian humiliation, indefinite “Devil’s Island style” detention, targeted assassination, robotized and sanitized drone warfare, killing as revealed in Collateral Murder video, and officially sanctioned torture.

No, not a blank background. And now we know, as we should have known, that the vaunted “right to privacy” extends only to, and stops at, the USG. We are to put ourselves in the position of the child whose “parent” knows what is best for us and insists on our trust.

The word “insists” is very important. It has to be backed by something. In the case of the USG it is backed by force, all the force at its disposal. Imagine the reciprocal. The people insist that their government trust them! The absence of force at this level explains the current citizen/state relationship.

There’s a recent, seemingly benign, revelation regarding the United States Postal Service (USPS). Seems like they’ve been photographing the outside of every envelope, package, and postcard passing through its hands. Chalk up 160 billion eavesdropping bits for the USPS last year.

What’s troubling is the legal rationale provided for the intrusion. Loosely stated it’s that the postman has from time immemorial had visual access to the outside of envelopes, so that this was never a privacy concern! And we’re supposed to swallow this whole. The dog-fearing mailman, nosybody that he is, feels free to cop a peek. And, naturally, since he is an agent of the government this “freedom to peek” obtains to the USG as well, because it is unthinkable that an agent should possess powers that do not extend to that for which he is performing his lawful function.

Now that we’ve placed the mailman on a par with the state, and made no distinction between his mild transgression (actually closer to overhearing than snooping), why not extend this to the “Big Brother” image? Could the legal rationale for that be that since we are eminently observable by people in our everyday lives then there is no privacy concern when a certain, larger group of people decide to observe us?

Since the USPS goes lacking for funds, and since it performs a “national security” function, a working idea might be to place the USPS under the Department of Defense, to which money flows freely. That way we could keep the post offices open and possibly slow the escalation of its prices in the bargain.

Snowden has come under criticism because he fled the country. Some believe he should face US justice, what I would characterize as the “martyr solution”, because that is what it would amount to. He fled because this country is no longer safe for whistleblowers. Daniel Ellsberg said as much.

Some believe he should have come in through the front door and taken his case directly to Congress instead of Hong Kong. Go to Congress? To push an approach like this would be to completely ignore the working agenda of a capitalist, militarist, imperialist state and the role its politicians play in it.

To expect the politicians that are complicit with the state in the furtherance of its agenda to play an adversarial role against the very institutions, the financial and corporate elite that sustains them, and upon which they are dependent for their current and future livelihoods is to expect the sun to obey the earth. Whatever bias the public might show toward the USG is magnified times over by those in Congress, with few admirable exceptions.

The term “full spectrum dominance” signifies the ambitious national military project to control all of land, sea, air, space, biological, and cyber fighting capabilities. The term does not originate with avid leftists but is used by them, in quotes, because it is the Pentagon’s preferred description, an open confession of sorts. So, no, Snowden is really only waking the people who have been sleeping.

According to Der Spiegel (whose bias is distinctly anti-left) Jimmy Carter remarked, in defense of Edward Snowden, that “America does not have a functioning democracy at the present time”. He’s been known to have walked away from previous statements, and this remark seems to have been made to a private audience (making it no less true), but the remark itself is totally unsurprising. One can doubt the need for the ending qualifier, “at the present time”. Whether viewed domestically or from abroad, American behavior reveals itself for what it is.

When you see something that looks like a duck, walks like a duck, sounds like a duck, and in constantly seen in the company of other ducks, you can assume that it’s a duck. That’s funny, but even better it’s funny and speaks to something more. It’s a valuable heuristic.

Take the case of the USG. When you see a country that seeks out right wing dictatorships in foreign countries, aids the right-wingers, deals with the right-wingers, fights with the right-wingers, and is never but never seen in the company of left-wingers, you can assume you have a right-winger.

The slide into fascism is smooth and the momentum is particularly strong at the bottom. In many respects we are already there.

James Rothenberg can be reached at:  jrothenberg@taconic.net

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July 25, 2013 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance | , , , , | 1 Comment

NSA Surveillance Through the Prism of Political Repression

By CARLOS BORRERO  July 23, 2013

July 28th marks the 35th anniversary of the political assassination of two Puerto Rican independence activists, Carlos Soto Arriví and Arnaldo Darío Rosado, in the infamous Cerro Maravillai case. This case, which was widely followed among Puerto Ricans, involved an agent provocateur that led the activists to an ambush that resulted in their brutal murder by paramilitary agents within the colonial police force. The event led to two investigations, the second of which revealed a conspiracy to cover up both the assassination plot as well as the destruction and manipulation of evidence carried out by the colonial police and justice department, as well as the federal justice department and FBI. Cerro Maravilla symbolizes for many the most outstanding recent example of repressive measures, from surveillance to political assassination, unleashed by US imperialism against the anticolonial movement in Puerto Rico.

The recent revelations of NSA spying by Edward Snowden have provoked mass outrage across the globe. Much of the consternation comes from what is commonly understood as a violation of privacy. In the official media, Snowden’s actions have been framed as a debate between ‘national security’ and ‘privacy’. However, framing the question in these terms is pure subterfuge. The Puerto Rican experience shows that the true objectives of surveillance programs by intelligence agencies like the NSA, CIA, and FBI having nothing to do with ‘security’ or ‘protection’ but rather political repression. Systematic surveillance can only be understood as an essential part of state repression, the purpose of which is to intimidate those that question the status quo by promoting a culture of fear. One can never be separated from the other.

The systematic surveillance and repression of Puerto Rico’s anticolonial movement is obviously just one example of many. A brief historical sketch of US imperialism’s repressive efforts against anticolonial forces in Puerto Rico must begin with the political intrigues that preceded the 1898 military invasion as well as the martial law that characterized both military and civilian colonial governments in its immediate aftermath. This history goes on to include the surveillance and repressive attacks against the Puerto Rican Nationalist Party and its followers from the 30s through the 50s, which included massacres of unarmed civilians, political assassinations and imprisonments, the harassment and attacks against labor unions and newly emergent socialist organizations of the same period, as well as COINTELPRO operations against resurgent nationalist and socialist political formations during the 60s and 70s.ii Indeed, in 1987 it was revealed that over 130,000 files on individuals and organizations had been accumulated through systematic surveillance on the island. This history is an integral part of the parallel campaigns of systematic state repression unleashed within the United States against groups such as the Black Liberation Movement, the American Indian Movement, the Chicano Liberation Movement, radical labor organizations, progressive students and antiwar activists, as well as communists.iii As such, what constitutes a scandal for the broader public is in fact part of the daily reality for those that fight for freedom and an end to oppression.

Snowden’s revelation that the United States Security Group Command’s Sabana Seca installation, located in the northern coastal municipality of Toa Baja, is part of an international surveillance network, which includes the Fornstat program, comes to no surprise to Puerto Rican anticolonial activists. From Sabana Seca, US naval intelligence monitors and gathers Internet, phone, and other forms of communication. In 1999, Duncan Campbell and Mark Honigsbaum of The Guardian already highlighted the naval intelligence’s “Echelon” operations from Sabana Seca and other locations both in the US and internationally as part of joint US British surveillance programs.iv

What is critical to highlight about US imperialism in Puerto Rico is the continued military character of colonialism on the island. For the benefit of those that may be unaware or who take the position that US militarism characterized only the past history of colonialism in Puerto Rico, a few contemporary examples serve to illustrate the point. Over the past decade and a half, Puerto Ricans have mobilized en masse to oppose a proposed military radar system intended for the Lajas valley in the southwestern part of the island, to end the practice of using the eastern island of Vieques as a bombing range by the US military and its allies (It should be noted that there was also a successful campaign to end the militarization of Culebra island also off the eastern coast of the main island in the 70s), and in more recent times against a system of potentially toxic and environmentally destructive antennas used both by the military and cellular companies that have proliferated across the island. In an article in the current issue of Claridad, the spokesperson for the grassroots Coalition of Communities Against the Proliferation of Antennas, Wilson Torres, sheds light on the US military’s Full Spectrum Dominance program currently being implemented in Puerto Rico. v

Understood in the context of pervasive unemployment, which serves to ensure an ever present pool of recruits used as cannon fodder in US military campaigns throughout the world as well as the structural dependence of large parts of the colonial economy on the Pentagon, this picture constitutes the modified form of US militarism in Puerto Rico in the present context. One may add the militarization of the colonial police force in the ongoing attacks against residents of public housing and other marginalized communities to this reality.

It would not be difficult to draw parallels between much of what is described immediately above and the realities faced by many North Americans. Heavy-handed policing and economically depressed communities dependent upon military or prison industries are a familiar reality for many. Yet the notion that the United States of America is characterized by a repressive state is much more difficult for the average person to accept. The narrative of 9/11 provides the pretext that results in the conflation of national security and state repression in the minds of many.

Notwithstanding, the revelations about the NSA spying program have provoked the condemnation of all except the most recalcitrant sycophants of US imperialism. Yet, it is absolutely necessary to place these programs in the context of the long history of state repression and militarism. Those on the left must push to extend the public discourse beyond questions of personal privacy to a discussion of systematic political repression within increasingly militarized “liberal” democracies. The experiences of anticolonial activists and militant, class-conscious revolutionaries from Puerto Rico lend valuable insights that add to the discussion around the significance of what Snowden’s leaks reveal: systematic surveillance and state repression are two sides of the same coin.

An insightful comment by Marx, writing in the New York Daily Tribune about British imperialism in India during the mid 1800s and often repeated among Puerto Rican comrades, is a useful starting point for the US left:

“The profound hypocrisy and inherent barbarism of bourgeois civilization lies unveiled before our eyes, moving from its home, where it assumes respectable form, to the colonies, where it goes naked.”

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July 24, 2013 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Deception, Full Spectrum Dominance, Subjugation - Torture, Timeless or most popular | , , , | Comments Off on NSA Surveillance Through the Prism of Political Repression

Russian official slams US for turning down Moscow’s extradition requests

RT | July 22, 2013

The US is pressuring Russia to hand over NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden to face espionage charges. However, it routinely denies Russian requests to hand over suspected criminals living in America.

“Law agencies asked the US on many occasions to extradite wanted criminals through Interpol channels, but those requests were neither met nor even responded to,” spokesman for the Russian Interior Ministry Andrey Pilipchuk said on Monday.

He named Ilyas Akhmadov and Tamaz Nalbandov as examples of people living in the US, who Russia unsuccessfully tried to get for prosecution.

Akhmadov, a former officer in the Soviet Union’s Red Army, joined the militant movement in the Russian Republic of Chechnya in the early 1990s, fighting for some time along with the notorious terrorist Shamil Basayev. He is wanted in Russia over his connection to crimes committed by the insurgents.

He served as an official of the short-lived ‘government of Ichkeria’, an entity which wanted to form a sovereign Islamist state on Chechen territory. In 1999, Akhmadov was appointed ‘Foreign Minister of Ichkeria’, and toured Western countries to rally support for his cause.

After Moscow re-established control over Chechnya, he settled in the US in 2003 and sought political asylum there. He received it a year later, despite objections from the US Department of Homeland Security.

Nalbandov, an ethnic Ossetian, is suspected of abduction and extortion in Russia. In 2001, he was placed on domestic and international wanted lists.

In 2000, he moved to the US seeking political asylum and successfully obtained it. He was granted a residence permit in 2002.

Russia sought extradition of both men on several occasions in vain.

The criticism comes as the US pressures Russia to hand over Edward Snowden, a former NSA contractor, who exposed the agency’s secret surveillance programs and the role that other countries played in them.

Snowden is stranded at a Moscow airport after arriving there from Hong Kong last month. The US cancelled his passport as part of its effort to apprehend him and prosecute him on espionage charges. His limbo status means Snowden is unable to leave the airport’s transit zone in any direction.

The whistleblower is seeking political asylum in several countries, including Russia. Moscow tried to distance itself from Snowden’s case, although several Russian officials voiced their support for him and called on the government to help him.

Snowden won sympathies from activists worldwide, as many people see him as a hero, who sacrificed his career and possibly freedom to expose questionable secretive government policies. Russian human rights activists supporting the American said they regularly receive offers of money, jobs and even marriage to Snowden, the latter to facilitate his entrance to the country.

 

July 23, 2013 Posted by | Aletho News | , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Russian official slams US for turning down Moscow’s extradition requests