Edward Snowden

Open Letter To Obama

July 26, 2013 President Barack Obama The White House 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W. Washington, D.C. 20500 Re: Civil Disobedience, Edward J. Snowden, and the Constitution Dear Mr. President: You are acutely aware More »

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Category Archives: media control

Open Letter To Obama

Edward Snowden

July 26, 2013

President Barack Obama

The White House

1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.

Washington, D.C. 20500

Re: Civil Disobedience, Edward J. Snowden, and the Constitution

Dear Mr. President:

You are acutely aware that the history of liberty is a history of civil disobedience to unjust laws or practices. As Edmund Burke sermonized, “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.”

Civil disobedience is not the first, but the last option. Henry David Thoreau wrote with profound restraint in Civil Disobedience: “If the injustice is part of the necessary friction of the machine of government, let it go, let it go: perchance it will wear smooth certainly the machine will wear out. If the injustice has a spring, or a pulley, or a rope, or a crank, exclusively for itself, then perhaps you may consider whether the remedy will not be worse than the evil; but if it is of such a nature that it requires you to be the agent of injustice to another, then, I say, break the law. Let your life be a counter friction to stop the machine.”

Thoreau’s moral philosophy found expression during the Nuremburg trials in which “following orders” was rejected as a defense. Indeed, military law requires disobedience to clearly illegal orders.

A dark chapter in America’s World War II history would not have been written if the then United States Attorney General had resigned rather than participate in racist concentration camps imprisoning 120,000 Japanese American citizens and resident aliens.

Civil disobedience to the Fugitive Slave Act and Jim Crow laws provoked the end of slavery and the modern civil rights revolution.

We submit that Edward J. Snowden’s disclosures of dragnet surveillance of Americans under § 215 of the Patriot Act, § 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act Amendments, or otherwise were sanctioned by Thoreau’s time-honored moral philosophy and justifications for civil disobedience. Since 2005, Mr. Snowden had been employed by the intelligence community. He found himself complicit in secret, indiscriminate spying on millions of innocent citizens contrary to the spirit if not the letter of the First and Fourth Amendments and the transparency indispensable to self-government. Members of Congress entrusted with oversight remained silent or Delphic. Mr. Snowden confronted a choice between civic duty and passivity. He may have recalled the injunction of Martin Luther King, Jr.: “He who passively accepts evil is as much involved in it as he who helps to perpetrate it.” Mr. Snowden chose duty. Your administration vindictively responded with a criminal complaint alleging violations of the Espionage Act.

From the commencement of your administration, your secrecy of the National Security Agency’s Orwellian surveillance programs had frustrated a national conversation over their legality, necessity, or morality. That secrecy (combined with congressional nonfeasance) provoked Edward’s disclosures, which sparked a national conversation which you have belatedly and cynically embraced. Legislation has been introduced in both the House of Representatives and Senate to curtail or terminate the NSA’s programs, and the American people are being educated to the public policy choices at hand. A commanding majority now voice concerns over the dragnet surveillance of Americans that Edward exposed and you concealed. It seems mystifying to us that you are prosecuting Edward for accomplishing what you have said urgently needed to be done!

The right to be left alone from government snooping–the most cherished right among civilized people—is the cornerstone of liberty. Supreme Court Justice Robert Jackson served as Chief Prosecutor at Nuremburg. He came to learn of the dynamics of the Third Reich that crushed a free society, and which have lessons for the United States today.

Writing in Brinegar v. United States, Justice Jackson elaborated:

The Fourth Amendment states: “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”

These, I protest, are not mere second-class rights but belong in the catalog of indispensable freedoms. Among deprivations of rights, none is so effective in cowing a population, crushing the spirit of the individual and putting terror in every heart. Uncontrolled search and seizure is one of the first and most effective weapons in the arsenal of every arbitrary government. And one need only briefly to have dwelt and worked among a people possessed of many admirable qualities but deprived of these rights to know that the human personality deteriorates and dignity and self-reliance disappear where homes, persons and possessions are subject at any hour to unheralded search and seizure by the police.

We thus find your administration’s zeal to punish Mr. Snowden’s discharge of civic duty to protect democratic processes and to safeguard liberty to be unconscionable and indefensible.

We are also appalled at your administration’s scorn for due process, the rule of law, fairness, and the presumption of innocence as regards Edward.

On June 27, 2013, Mr. Fein wrote a letter to the Attorney General stating that Edward’s father was substantially convinced that he would return to the United States to confront the charges that have been lodged against him if three cornerstones of due process were guaranteed. The letter was not an ultimatum, but an invitation to discuss fair trial imperatives. The Attorney General has sneered at the overture with studied silence.

We thus suspect your administration wishes to avoid a trial because of constitutional doubts about application of the Espionage Act in these circumstances, and obligations to disclose to the public potentially embarrassing classified information under the Classified Information Procedures Act.

Your decision to force down a civilian airliner carrying Bolivian President Eva Morales in hopes of kidnapping Edward also does not inspire confidence that you are committed to providing him a fair trial. Neither does your refusal to remind the American people and prominent Democrats and Republicans in the House and Senate like House Speaker John Boehner, Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi, Congresswoman Michele Bachmann,and Senator Dianne Feinstein that Edward enjoys a presumption of innocence. He should not be convicted before trial. Yet Speaker Boehner has denounced Edward as a “traitor.”

Ms. Pelosi has pontificated that Edward “did violate the law in terms of releasing those documents.” Ms. Bachmann has pronounced that, “This was not the act of a patriot; this was an act of a traitor.” And Ms. Feinstein has decreed that Edward was guilty of “treason,” which is defined in Article III of the Constitution as “levying war” against the United States, “or in adhering to their enemies, giving them aid and comfort.”

You have let those quadruple affronts to due process pass unrebuked, while you have disparaged Edward as a “hacker” to cast aspersion on his motivations and talents. Have you forgotten the Supreme Court’s gospel in Berger v. United States that the interests of the government “in a criminal prosecution is not that it shall win a case, but that justice shall be done?”

We also find reprehensible your administration’s Espionage Act prosecution of Edward for disclosures indistinguishable from those which routinely find their way into the public domain via your high level appointees for partisan political advantage. Classified details of your predator drone protocols, for instance, were shared with the New York Times with impunity to bolster your national security credentials. Justice Jackson observed in Railway Express Agency, Inc. v. New York: “The framers of the Constitution knew, and we should not forget today, that there is no more effective practical guaranty against arbitrary and unreasonable government than to require that the principles of law which officials would impose upon a minority must be imposed generally.”

In light of the circumstances amplified above, we urge you to order the Attorney General to move to dismiss the outstanding criminal complaint against Edward, and to support legislation to remedy the NSA surveillance abuses he revealed. Such presidential directives would mark your finest constitutional and moral hour.

Sincerely,

Bruce Fein

Counsel for Lon Snowden

Lon Snowden

Mexico student protests cause election stir

Los Angeles Times
May 24, 2012
By Tracy Wilkinson

MEXICO CITY — It’s almost starting to look like a movement.  Thousands of university students have poured into the streets of Mexico City for the second time in a week to protest the way the nation’s upcoming presidential election is being run and, more specifically, covered in the Mexican media.

They are especially incensed that victory by Enrique Peña Nieto on July 1 is often portrayed as a fait accompli.

About 15,000 people (by city officials’ count) gathered Wednesday evening at the controversial Pillar of Light monument (seen by many here as a government boondoggle) and marched down the iconic Paseo de la Reforma.


They stopped outside the headquarters of the giant Televisa broadcasting network to demand fairer and more pluralistic TV news. “We are not one, we are not 100. Televisa, count us!” some chanted.

The protesters came from a wide range of universities: public, private; leftist, rightist, Catholic. And while many were decidedly anti-Peña Nieto — a message made clear in banners and signs — their protest appears to go beyond pure partisan politics and represents a broader questioning of Mexico’s status quo.

Television channel and newspaper ownership is concentrated in a few hands in Mexico, and many of the demonstrators believe it is skewed in favor of the Peña Nieto campaign and the return to presidential power of his Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI. The PRI ruled single-handedly for seven decades until being ousted in 2000.

That feeling of being left out, and a general disillusionment with a system long plagued by corruption, had led many of Mexico’s young voters to sit out this campaign. Wednesday’s protest, and another one over the weekend, may not be enough to turn the tide, but the efforts are attracting attention.

“The real miracle is that a complete generation that was condemned to apathy, to only observe, and to individualism, is once again making the nation’s destiny their own,” said Mexican writer Paco Ignacio Taibo II, who attended Wednesday’s march.

Televisa and other major news organizations have defended their coverage of the campaign, noting that they are required by law to give equal time to candidates.

“I came here to ask for transparency in the media,” said Chloe Nava, a student from the Panamericana University. “It seems we need to rescue that instinct as citizens.”

Full Article Here – http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/world/la-fg-mexico-election-students-20120525,0,6629519.story?track=rss&utm_source=dlvr.it&utm_medium=twitter 

U.S. ‘info ops’ programs dubious, costly

USA Today
Feb. 29, 2012 
By Tom Vanden Brook and Ray Locker

WASHINGTON – As the Pentagon has sought to sell wars in Iraq and Afghanistan to often-hostile populations there, it has spent hundreds of millions of dollars on poorly tracked marketing and propaganda campaigns that military leaders like to call “information operations,” the modern equivalent of psychological warfare.

From 2005 to 2009, such spending rose from $9 million to $580 million a year mostly in Iraq and Afghanistan, Pentagon and congressional records show. Last year, spending dropped to $202 million as the Iraq War wrapped up. A USA TODAY investigation, based on dozens of interviews and a series of internal military reports, shows that Pentagon officials have little proof the programs work and they won’t make public where the money goes. In Iraq alone, more than $173 million was paid to what were identified only as “miscellaneous foreign contractors.”
“What we do as I.O. is almost gimmicky,” says Army Col. Paul Yingling, who served three tours in Iraq between 2003 and 2009, including as an information operations specialist. “Doing posters, fliers or radio ads. These things are unserious.”

Indeed, information operations are no panacea in crises such as the current showdown in Afghanistan after revelations that U.S. forces burned copies of the Quran, the Islamic holy book. NATO and Afghan forces have had little success in calming the country after a week of riots, attacks on U.S. and NATO forces and even a suicide car bombing.
The Pentagon’s counterinsurgency manual — the guide to U.S. military policy in Afghanistan — urges commanders to “aggressively use” information operations to win over local populations and to “admit mistakes (or actions perceived as mistakes) quickly.”
President Obama has apologized to Afghan President Hamid Karzai, and Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, has called the Quran burning a mistake. While the riots have subsided, it’s unclear whether even the best information operations program could have stopped the growing rage over this incident.
As to whether the hundreds of millions of dollars spent in Afghanistan and Iraq have been worth the U.S. investment, the USA TODAY investigation found:

D’oh! Oil industry lobbyists punked by enviro activist (AUDIO)

The Lookout
Dec. 20, 2011
By Zachary Roth

The oil industry spends millions each year to shape its image and shift the public debate in its favor. But amid growing concern over climate change — and over the industry’s clout in Washington — it can sometimes find itself losing control of its message pretty quickly.

That’s what happened earlier this month, when the American Petroleum Institute (API), a powerful Washington-based lobbying organization for oil and gas companies, put out a call for volunteers to appear in an upcoming commercial about domestic energy production — and got more than it bargained for. The ad campaign, scheduled to launch January 1 on CNN and coordinated by the high-priced Edelman PR firm, uses ordinary-looking people, dubbed “Energy Citizens,” to insert a pro-oil and gas message into the 2012 elections.


But one respondent to the casting call, Connor Gibson, turned out not to be quite what the industry was looking for. Unbeknownst to the organizers, Gibson was an activist with the environmental group Greenpeace, and was surreptitiously recording the proceedings — recordings that Greenpeace provided exclusively to Yahoo News.

As the director begins to feed him his lines, Gibson veers radically off script. With the cameras rolling, he assails what he calls the “lies and influence-peddling” of the oil industry. And before being hurriedly shown the door, Gibson derides the Energy Citizens campaign as “an astroturf front group created by the American Petroleum Institute to make it sound like there is citizen support for petroleum in our energy future.”

Awkward.

Before intentionally blowing his cover, Gibson also recorded the organizers themselves saying things they might have preferred to keep private. For instance, at one point, a production staffer says participants will be put in costume, then fed lines by a director. That contrasts with API’s original call for volunteers, obtained by Greenpeace, which promises participants they’ll be able to “express their views” and “have an honest debate.” More important, Greenpeace argues, the scripted nature of the ads undercuts the core message they’re intended to convey: that there’s widespread, authentic, grassroots support for the oil and gas industry.

Full Article Here – http://news.yahoo.com/blogs/lookout/d-oh-oil-industry-lobbyists-punked-enviro-activist-143714171.html 

PROPAGANDA ALERT: FOX News Fakes MOSCOW Protest With Athens Clashes

You Tube
Dec. 8, 2011

Must See!

YouTube
Sept. 7

Mass troop movements within the U.S.? What do they know that we don’t?

Charity president says aid groups are misleading the public on Somalia

Guardian
Sept. 3, 2011
By

The head of an international medical charity has called on aid agencies to stop presenting a misleading picture of the famine in Somalia and admit that helping the worst-affected people is almost impossible.

The international president of Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), Dr Unni Karunakara, returned from Somalia last week and said that, even though there was chronic malnutrition and drought across east Africa, hardly any agencies were able to work inside war-torn Somalia, where the picture was “profoundly distressing”. He condemned other organisations and the media for “glossing over” the reality in order to convince people that simply giving money for food was the answer.

According to Karunakara, agencies have been able to provide medical and nutritional care for tens of thousands in camps in Kenya and Ethiopia, which have been receiving huge numbers of refugees from Somalia. But trying to access those in the “epicentre” of the disaster has been slow and difficult. “We may have to live with the reality that we may never be able to reach the communities most in need of help,” he said.


Karunakara said that the use of phrases such as “famine in the Horn of Africa” or “worst drought in 60 years” obscured the “man-made” factors that had created the crisis and wrongly implied that the solution was simply to find the money to ship enough food to the region.

He described Mogadishu, the Somali capital, as dotted with plastic sheets supported by twigs, sheltering groups of weak and starving people who had walked in from the worst-affected areas in southern and central Somalia. “I met a woman who had left her home with her husband and seven children to walk to Mogadishu and had arrived after five days with only four children,” he said.

“MSF is constantly being forced to make tough choices in deploying or expanding our activities, in sticking to our principles of neutrality with the daily realities of people going without healthcare, without food. Our staff face being shot. But glossing over the man-made causes of hunger and starvation in the region and the great difficulties in addressing them will not help resolve the crisis. Aid agencies are being impeded in the area.

“MSF has been working in Somalia for 20 years, and we know that if we are struggling then others will not be able to work at all. The reality on the ground is that there are serious difficulties that affect our abilities to respond to need.”

Full Article Here – http://www.guardian.co.uk/global-development/2011/sep/03/charity-aid-groups-misleading-somalia 

Syria’s electronic army

Al Jazeera
Aug. 28, 2011
By Jillian C. York

While the battles between the opposition and the Syrian regime are waged on the ground, a different battle is emerging online.

In the midst of a virtual blackout on the city of Hama, citizen videos – often shaky and unverifiable – document the brutality of the Syrian military’s crackdown on the city, ongoing since July 31 – the day before the start of Ramadan – while online campaigns, hosted on Facebook and Twitter, aim to draw attention to events on the ground. The narrative: Syrians are suffering and want the world to take notice.

At the same time, and often on the same networks, a different story can be seen, as Syrians in favour of the Assad regime stake out online ground in attempt to shift the narrative in their favour. And though there are individuals who post supportive sentiments about Assad, the overwhelming majority of pro-regime content online appears well-coordinated; the work of organised groups coming together to support the beleaguered president.

The Syrian electronic army

Tunisia’s Ben Ali promised a more open internet just one day before he was ousted. In Egypt, Mubarak sought a different strategy, shutting down the majority of the internet for a week in the hopes of disabling activist networks. Syria has taken a different approach to the internet altogether, first unblocking popular social networking sites, then throwing support to pro-regime hackers in the hopes of countering opposition forces online.

As Helmi Noman has documented, the Syrian Electronic Army – a cabal of hackers, acknowledged as a positive force by Assad himself in a June 20 speech – has overtaken certain Facebook pages, such as those belonging to French and US presidents Nicolas Sarkozy and Barack Obama, TV talk show host Oprah Winfrey, and the page for ABC News and flooding them with comments like “we love Bashar al-Assad” and “I live in Syria, stop lying, nothing is happening in Syria”.

More recently, the group has targeted the US Department of Treasury, in light of US government plans to impose further sanctions on the Syrian regime.

In addition to flooding Facebook pages, it has coordinated hacking attempts from their own Facebook page, and have defaced or disabled a number of websites. Although Facebook has removed a number of their pages, a quick search of the site brings up numerous new ones, suggesting a strong sense of determination.

Though the “electronic army” doesn’t seem to have much of a presence on Twitter, other groups vie for influence there by flooding popular hashtags with largely irrelevant content, such as photographs of the Syrian landscape, often accompanied by other, unrelated hashtags.

Fighting back

Though the Army seemed to reign in the online domain for more than a month, just as the scales in Syria now seem to be tipping in favour of the opposition, so are they in favour of Syrian digital activists and their supporters.

In early August, the sites of Syrian First Lady Asma Assad and the UAE Embassy in Syria were hacked, for which Anonymous took credit. On August 7, the Syrian Ministry of Defence website was also targeted with an elaborate defacement, featuring the Syrian flag, the symbol of Anonymous, and the following message:

“To the Syrian people: The world stands with you against the brutal regime of Bashar al-Assad. Know that time and history are on your side – tyrants use violence because they have nothing else, and the more violent they are, the more fragile they become. We salute your determination to be non-violent in the face of the regime’s brutality, and admire your willingness to pursue justice, not mere revenge. All tyrants will fall, and thanks to your bravery Bashar Al-Assad is next.

“To the Syrian military: You are responsible for protecting the Syrian people, and anyone who orders you to kill women, children, and the elderly deserves to be tried for treason. No outside enemy could do as much damage to Syria as Bashar Al-Assad has done. Defend your country – rise up against the regime! – Anonymous.”

Full Article Here – http://english.aljazeera.net/indepth/opinion/2011/08/201181191530456997.html?utm_content=automateplus&utm_campaign=Trial5&utm_source=SocialFlow&utm_medium=MasterAccount&utm_term=tweets

A social media crackdown is the wrong response to riots

Guardian
Aug. 11, 2011
By

The government is contemplating tactics against the UK riots that set dangerous precedents.

In parliament today, prime minister David Cameron said authorities and the industry were looking at “whether it would be right to stop people communicating via these websites and services when we know they are plotting violence, disorder and criminality”. Well, at least he did post it as a question of right and wrong.

It would be wrong, sir. Who is to say what communication and content should be banned from whom on what platform? On my BlackBerry? My computer? My telephone? My street corner?


Cameron also said, according to a Guardian tweet, that he would look at asking online services to take down offending photos. Again, who decides that content is offending? If you give authority to government and telco and social companies to censor that, what else can and will they censor?

Beware, sir. If you take these steps, what separates you from the Saudi government demanding the ability to listen to and restrict its BBM networks? What separates you from Arab tyrannies cutting off social communication via Twitter or from China banning it?

This regulatory reflex further exposes the danger of British government thinking it can and should regulate media. Beware, my friends. When anyone’s speech is not free, no one’s speech is free. I refer the honourable gentleman to this . Censorship is not the path to civility. Only speech is.

There is also debate about tactics to restrict anonymity in public. Cameron wants police to have the authority “in certain circumstances” to require face masks to be removed: instead of a burqa ban, a hoodie ban. One MP in the current debate also suggested rioters be sprayed with indelible ink. In addition, Cameron said that CCTV pictures – and, one assumes, pictures on social networks and the afore-derided BBM – would be used to identity and arrest rioters. I understand the motive and goal to control crime. I don’t necessarily oppose the moves, for I argue in Public Parts that what one does in public is public.

But again, be aware of the precedents these actions would set. Be aware how they could be used under other circumstances. In Public Parts, I compare the use of social media to identity Egyptian secret police from ID photos taken from their liberated headquarters with the use of social media to identity protestors in Iran. A tool used for good can be used for bad.

The bottom line of these debated tactics would be this: anonymity would be banned in public; it would require that one be public in public.

Right now, online, we are having many debates about anonymity and identity .

So now we need to look at how the public street in London compares with the public street on the internet, on Facebook, Twitter, BBM, blogs and newspapers. What government does on the streets it could do on the internet, and vice versa. Each is a form of a public.

Full Article Here – http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2011/aug/11/social-media-riots

BREAKING: All Communications Cut to 1.7 Million in Gaza, Including Mobile, Landline and Internet

Daily Kos
Aug. 9, 2011
By David Harris Gershon

Information is difficult to procure at this stage, but initial reports indicate that Israeli bulldozers, possibly by accident, have cut all communication lines connecting Gaza to the world.

The reports, coming in both on Twitter and via Maan, a Palestinian news outlet, seem to confirm that efforts to reach residents in Gaza are unsuccessful.

I am doing my best to confirm this information from sources in Israel and through monitoring of various forums, and will post updates below the fold as they come.

I ask that people not make definite claims in the comments about what has occurred, since this is just breaking and very difficult to sort out.


However, it is potentially a major story, and one that needs to be reported, particularly with the massive protests ongoing in the background.

Full Article Here – http://www.dailykos.com/story/2011/08/09/1005150/-BREAKING:-All-Communications-Cut-to-17-Million-in-Gaza,-Including-Mobile,-Landline-and-Internet?via=siderec