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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NBC San Diego July 1, 2013 By Christina London The man accused of vandalism for drawing with chalk outside banks has been found not guilty on all charges. A jury returned its More »

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The Bigger Story Behind the AP Spying Scandal

Washington’s Blog/Global Research May 20, 2012 By George Washington Attack on the Press You know that the Department of Justice tapped scores of phone lines at the Associated Press. You might have More »

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‘Anonymous’ Hacker Explains Why He Fled The US

Business Insider Mar. 2, 2012 By Michael Kelley Anonymous is front and center these days: the amorphous hacktivist group has been publishing internal data of U.S. banks while prominent members are prosecuted More »

Category Archives: human rights

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

The Bigger Story Behind the AP Spying Scandal

freedom-of-the-press

Washington’s Blog/Global Research
May 20, 2012
By George Washington

Attack on the Press

You know that the Department of Justice tapped scores of phone lines at the Associated Press.

You might have heard that the Attorney General of the United States isn’t sure how often reporters’ records are seized.

You might have learned that the Department of Justice is prosecuting a whistleblower regarding North Korea … as well as the chief Washington correspondent for Fox News who reported on what the whistleblower told him.  As the Washington Post notes:

[Department of Justice investigators] used security badge access records to track the reporter’s comings and goings from the State Department, according to a newly obtained court affidavit. They traced the timing of his calls with a State Department security adviser suspected of sharing the classified report. They obtained a search warrant for the reporter’s personal e-mails.

You might have read that the Department of Justice Inspector General published a new report today saying that former U.S. Attorney for Arizona Dennis Burke leaked a document intended to smear Operation Fast and Furious scandal whistleblower John Dodson, concluding:

‘Anonymous’ Hacker Explains Why He Fled The US

anon

Business Insider
Mar. 2, 2012
By Michael Kelley

Anonymous is front and center these days: the amorphous hacktivist group has been publishing internal data of U.S. banks while prominent members are prosecuted on charges of stealing information and sharing links to stolen credit card information.

Yet overarching insights into the decentralized collective are hard to find.

Information activist Asher Wolf provides a unique perspective in an interview with a prominent American Anon, who has more than 290,000 Twitter followers via @AnonyOps and is living in exile by choice.

The hacker left the country out of a fear of being harshly prosecuted by the government for radical advocacy of movements such as WikiLeaks and Occupy .

“I think the idea was planted when I saw others leaving,” @AnonyOps told Wolf. ” Glen Greenwald left … There’s a brain drain of political dissidents – America’s punishment for screwing with civil liberties.

Anonymous Launches Operation Wall Street, Targets CEOs

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Information Week
Mar. 2, 2012
By Mathew J. Schwartz

Anonymous has a new mission: Operation Wall Street.

The loosely organized hacktivist collective Thursday declared war — or at least inconvenience — on financial services businesses in a call to arms against “the crimes of Goldman Sachs and other firms” for their role in contributing to the mortgage crisis, amongst other alleged misdeeds.

“It should be the duty of any Anonymous, any hacker, in solidarity with Occupy, to release the Dox on the CEOs & any and all Executives of Goldman Sachs, AIG, Wells Fargo, Chase, Meryl Lynch, and any other guilty party,” it wrote, referring to releasing (doxing) stolen data. “Their dox, any and all possible personal information on these people, must be released and made public and spread across the internet as much as possible. The people who have lost their homes and had their lives destroyed deserve to know who it was that did it.”

The new statement from Anonymous struck a populist note, referencing widespread bankruptcies triggered by the mortgage crisis, bank employees’ bonuses and the poor treatment of Internet activist Aaron Swartz. But it was also personal, calling out Bank of America for its “pathetic assault on Anonymous’ methods,” referring to what it first alleged Monday was a campaign funded by Bank of America to spy on Anonymous and Occupy members.

NYPD lied under oath to prosecute Occupy activist

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RT
March 2, 2012

An Occupy Wall Street activist was acquitted of assaulting a police officer and other charges on Thursday after jurors were presented with video evidence that directly contradicted the NYPD’s story.

Michael Premo was found innocent of all charges this week in regards to a case that stems from a December 17, 2011 Occupy Wall Street demonstration in Lower Manhattan. For over a year, prosecutors working on behalf of the New York Police Department have insisted that Premo, a known artist and activist, tackled an NYPD officer during a protest and in doing so inflicted enough damage to break a bone.

During court proceedings this week, Premo’s attorney presented a video that showed officers charging into the defendant unprovoked. The Village Voice reports that jurors deliberated for several hours on Thursday and then elected to find Premo not guilty on all counts, which included a felony charge of assaulting an officer of the law.

Bradley Manning prosecution to call full witness list despite guilty plea

bradley-manning

Guardian
Mar. 1, 2013
By

The US government is pressing ahead with a full-blown prosecution of Bradley Manning, the soldier who has admitted to being the source of the massive WikiLeaks disclosures, even though he has pleaded guilty to charges that carry a top sentence of 20 years.

Army prosecutors have indicated that they intend to proceed with a full court martial against the 25-year-old intelligence analyst in which he will face some of the most serious charges available in a leak case such as this. They include the charge under the Espionage Act that he “aided the enemy” – in practice al-Qaida – by leaking information that ended up on the internet, an accusation that carries possible life in military custody with no chance of parole.

It will be the sixth time the Espionage Act has been unleashed against the source of an official leak of classified information under the Obama administration – more than the total number of times it has been deployed under all previous presidents since it was enacted in 1917.

Cops May Be Liable for Felling Occupy Berkeley

Occupy Protests

Courthouse News Service
Mar. 1, 2012
By CHRIS MARSHALL

OAKLAND, Calif. (CN) – Police must face excessive-force claims related to an Occupy protest they dispersed at the University of California, Berkeley, a federal judge ruled.

The protesters claimed to have been engaged in a peaceful protest of tuition hikes and the privatization of public education when officers battered them and used excessive force.

After police raided their Sproul Hall encampment on Nov. 9, 2011, hundreds of protestors allegedly returned later that evening and erected more tents.

They said Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs Harry LeGrande warned them to remove their tents before the police arrived 10 p.m., at which time they would allegedly give a 10-minute warning and remove the tents by force. Officers actually arrived in riot gear at 9:30 and raided the encampment, according to the complaint.

Sniper Posts Pic of Child in Crosshairs

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ABC News
Feb. 18, 2012
By Alexander Marquardt

JERUSALEM – A photo posted online by an Israeli soldier showing a child in the crosshairs of a rifle scope has created a firestorm on the internet, drawing widespread criticism.

The photo was reportedly posted on Jan. 25 by Mor Ostrovski, 20, a member of an Israeli sniper unit. It shows crosshairs zeroed in on the back of the head of what appears to be a Palestinian boy in a village. The photo has since been taken down and Ostrovski’s account has been deactivated.

“There are no other images to suggest that the photographer actually fired at the person in the image in this case,” wrote Palestinian activist Ali Abuminah who runs the site Electronic Intifada and drew much of the attention to the photo. “The image is simply tasteless and dehumanizing. It embodies the idea that Palestinian children are targets.”

Thousands protest to end evictions in Spain

spain

AFP
Feb. 16, 2012

Thousands of people demonstrated in Spanish cities on Saturday pushing for a new law to end a wave of evictions of homeowners ruined by the economic crisis.

Several thousand marched yelling to the din of drums and horns in central Madrid, waving banners reading “Stop evictions” and yelling “We have no homes!”

Similar protests were called in Barcelona and 50 other Spanish cities, the latest of months of demonstrations driven by anger at Spain‘s recession and the conservative government, which is imposing austere economic reforms.

Campaigners passed a rare milestone on Tuesday when the Spanish parliament agreed to debate a popular bill of measures to protect poor homeowners, backed by a petition that received more than 1.4 million signatures.

Kids in the crosshairs: Photo of Palestinian children killed by IDF wins World Press Photo award

palestinian

RT
Feb. 16, 2013

A picture of two Palestinian children killed in an Israeli airstrike has won the 2012 World Press Photo award. And as if to further prove the danger to the region’s youth, an IDF sniper has posted a photo of a child in his rifle’s scope to Instagram.

­A procession of wailing men carrying two Palestinian children to their funeral, captured with the click of a camera, has won the 2012 World Press Photo.

The photo was taken by the Swedish photographer Paul Hansen, working for the Dagens Nyheter newspaper.

Taken in Gaza on November 20, 2012, the photo shows a group of men marching the dead bodies of a brother and sister, wrapped in white cloth, through the city. The piece portrays what became a common scene on the ground during Israel’s eight-day military conquest, Operation Pillar of Defense, against Hamas in the Gaza Strip.