Finder of Flame Virus Tells Israel to Stop Before It’s Too Late



Finder of Flame Virus Tells Israel to Stop Before It’s Too Late

By Karl Vick | @karl_vick | June 6, 2012 | 18



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Baz Ratner / Reuters

Eugene Kaspersky, Chairman and CEO of Kaspersky Labs, speaks at a Tel Aviv University cybersecurity conference on June 6, 2012

Eugene Kaspersky, the Russian cybersleuth who last week revealed the most sophisticated virus yet targeting Iran, was greeted as a hero at the Tel Aviv University conference on digital security on Wednesday. He didn’t pretend not to know why, any more than the Israeli audience that played along with the coy remarks its officials have made about the country’s role in the digital espionage bedeviling the Iranian program.

“Maybe there are some people here who are not happy with work I was doing with Stuxnet and Flame,” he told an audience of more than 1,000 at the university’s annual International Conference on Cyber Security. (Stuxnet was the previous virus that hit Iran, targeting its nuclear program; Flame hit the petroleum industry.) Then the keynote speaker, clad in jeans and an untucked linen shirt, leaned forward and said in a stage whisper, “I’m really sorry.” Waves of laughter and applause followed. “It’s not personal,” Kaspersky went on, drawing out the laughter, which had a quality of mutual congratulation. “It’s my job … So next time, be more careful.”

But when the room quieted down, the guru got serious. Cyberweapons, Kaspersky advised, “are a very, very bad idea.” Whatever advanced knowledge allowed engineers to fashion the malicious software targeted at Iran’s nuclear program will, in short order, become known to other nations, he said, and next time could well be directed back at the originators — the very worry that President Obama reportedly voiced in approving the digital espionage in a joint program with Israel. “I’m afraid that in the future there will be other countries in this game,” Kaspersky said. “It’s only software. Maybe hacktivists will become cyberterrorists. And maybe the traditional terrorists will be in touch with the cyberterrorists.”

(MORE: Report: Obama, Israel Behind Stuxnet Worm and Accelerated Iran Cyberattacks)

“My message is: Stop doing that before it’s too late. The ideas are spreading too fast. There is a genie in a bottle.”

Kaspersky, who was introduced as one of the top four experts on cybersecurity in the world, pointed out that cyberweapons “can replicate,” as Stuxnet did — escaping the Iranian centrifuge machinery that was its sole intended target and infecting computers around the globe. Flame is even more complex, monitoring computers it has infected and even recording conversations; it appears to infect computers disguised as a legitimate Microsoft Windows update. The Russian said his concern is the vulnerability of civilian infrastructure that relies on computer operating systems like Microsoft Windows, which cannot be hardened against attack. The only way to secure systems that deliver water, electricity and the economy is through a newly designed OS with security at its core. And until that new system is developed, he said, any country that launches a digital attack is running a terrific risk. “There are a lot of software engineers in Israel, I know,” he said. “But I don’t think there are enough to do it in three or five years.” In the meantime, he said, “I’m afraid that that cyberboomerang may get back to you.”

Silence greeted the warning. Earlier in the day, Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak acknowledged for the first time publicly that the Jewish state has an offensive cyberwarfare capability. The acknowledgment came, however, as part of an emphatic assertion that defending against cyberattacks is far more important: “Our goal with cyberdefense, which is the more important and difficult component, is to prevent damage,” he said. “It is more than we can benefit from an offensive action, even though both aspects exist.”

MORE: Attacked by Flame: Will Iran Retaliate for the Latest Cyberassault?

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Related Topics: cyber-warfare, digital security, Eugene Kaspersky, Flame, Iranian nuclear program, Stuxnet, iran, israel, Terrorism
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governments use malware for surveillance

Wikileaks docs reveal that governments use malware for surveillance

By | Published about 2 hours ago
Wikileaks docs reveal that governments use malware for surveillance

An agent from The Matrix getting ready to apply some ‘surveillance malware’.

The latest round of documents published by Wikileaks offers a rare glimpse into the world of surveillance products. The collection—which Wikileaks calls the Spy Files—includes confidential brochures and slide presentations that companies use to market intrusive surveillance tools to governments and law enforcement agencies.

A report that Wikileaks published alongside the documents raises concern about the growing use use of mass surveillance tools that indiscriminately monitor and analyze entire populations. The group also points out that some of products described in the documents are sold to authoritarian regimes, which use them to hunt and track political dissidents.

The details revealed by Wikileaks echo a recent report by The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) that discussed the surveillance industry. The publication analyzed approximately 200 documents from 36 separate companies as part of a special investigative project called The Surveillance Catalog. The material released by Wikileaks corroborates much of what the WSJ reported, but includes a broader range of material.

The documents published by Wikileaks include 287 files that describe products from 160 companies. The group says that these files are only the first set of a larger collection and that more will be published in the future. The project is being carried out in collaboration with activist groups such as Privacy International and press organizations such as the Bureau of Investigative Journalism and the Washington Post.

“[The surveillance industry] is, in practice, unregulated. Intelligence agencies, military forces, and police authorities are able to silently, and on mass, and [sic] secretly intercept calls and take over computers without the help or knowledge of the telecommunication providers,” wrote Wikileaks in its report. “In the last ten years systems for indiscriminate, mass surveillance have become the norm.”

Surveillance products revealed in the Spy Files cover a wide range of different communication technologies. Many are designed to circumvent standard privacy and security safeguards in mainstream consumer technology products so that they can collect as much data as possible. Some are even deliberately programmed to operate like malware.

One example of commercial malware designed to aid criminal investigations is DigiTask’s remote forensic software, which is described in a confidential slide presentation that Wikileaks included in its document collection. DigiTask is a German company that characterizes itself as a market leader in building special telecommunications systems for law enforcement agencies. The company promises that its software—which is designed to work on Windows, Linux, Mac OS X, and some smartphones—can circumvent SSL encryption by intercepting the keys on the local system.

The software will capture the content of encrypted communications—including instant messaging conversations, e-mails, and the user’s Web activity—and will relay the data to the party conducting surveillance. The software also includes key logging, remote file access, and has the ability to capture screenshots. The company cites “zero day exploits” and “social engineering” in a bulleted list of ways that its remote forensic software can be installed on the computer of a surveillance target.

The same company also produces a self-contained portable system called the WifiCatcher that is designed to capture and analyze data on a public WiFi hotspot. The system is wireless and can be used covertly from a distance. It is even capable of tracking “nomadic” users who move from one hotspot to another. It comes with packet decoding software so that it will be easy for the user to monitor various types of communication.

Wikileaks has organized the documents by type, company, and date. The files—which are mostly in the PDF format—can be accessed from the Wikileaks website.

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Hackers Turn a Flare Gun Into a DIY CameraDrone Launcher



Hackers Turn a Flare Gun Into a DIY CameraDrone Launcher

By Rebecca Boyle Posted 08.08.2011 at 12:50 pm 2 Comments



Drone Launcher Joshua Marpet with the 37mm flare launcher. TechWorld

When you don’t have an advanced flying spy drone, launching a wireless camera 500 feet into the air could be your best option. But most people, even in law enforcement, don’t have access to 40mm grenade launchers, the logical choice for such a task. How about using a flare gun instead?

A pair of hackers at the Defcon convention demonstrated a flare gun that can launch a tiny wireless camera, hoping it can be used for search and rescue or law enforcement operations.

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DIY, Rebecca Boyle, cameras, DIY, drones, grenade launcher, guns, hackers, launcher, military tech, spy craft, spy drones

This creation is based on the less-DIY Firefly single-use spy cam developed by Israeli military contractors. That system fires a mini projectile, carrying a small camera, from a grenade launcher mounted on a standard M16 assault rifle. The wireless camera sends back 8 seconds of video as it flies through the air — enough of a glimpse to give military personnel an idea of what threats lie ahead.

In the civilian sector, it has legitimate uses: ensuring full coverage of a search area in a rescue operation, say, or drawing a bead on a target in a hostage situation. Hacker Vlad Gostom works as a search and rescue specialist with the U.S. Civil Air Patrol in New Jersey, which inspired him to work on this modified device, Tech World says.

Private citizens can’t buy those little Israeli kamikaze drones, so Gostom and Joshua Marpet modified a 37mm flare gun to serve the same purpose. Their first test involved a small camera inside a hard plastic slug, transmitting images back to a 5.8 GHz wireless receiver. The first test didn’t go so well, according to a writeup in Tech World — the powder didn’t fully ignite, so the camera only flew about 30 feet into the air, and it flew too fast to transmit images to the receiver. But they hope to test a second version later this year.

[Tech World]

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08/08/11 at 2:45 pm

Would it be possible to put a small parachute in the grenade canister that would allow the camera to have a good picture of what is straight below for more than 8 seconds? I guess that would defeat the purpose of using the camera for longer range.

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08/08/11 at 3:08 pm

Use a remote Dirigible or just a free balloon with a tracking system to steady the camera. The civil war used balloons often as look outs. Yes, the bad guys will shoot it down, but you still get a good look see.

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Hackers Cyber crime and a New Kind of War.

Hackers Cyber crime and a New Kind of War.


Gerald Celente Internet nuke bomb waiting to go off

Uploaded by RussiaToday on Jan 10, 2011

Gerald Celente, the founder of the Trends Research Institute, believes that the Internet will empower the youth of the world to unite to start a revolution that will overthrow the existing deadlocked elitist establishment. He predicts that in 2011 every citizen is going to realize that the Great Recession the world has been living through is actually a Great Depression, because the American establishment is “running out of schemes.”
RT on Facebook:
RT on Twitter:

Youth revolution:

Cause: > bailout for rich but not for them in their sense of alienation, joblessness, debt personal, education etc   

Tool: >fight back with using cyber war and crime



Hacking Group Anonymous Vows to Kill Facebook on Nov. 5

Published August 10, 2011


REUTERS/Thierry Roge

PALO ALTO, Calif. –  The Anonymous Internet hacking group is planning to “kill” Facebook and has announced the date it will attempt do so, in a statement gaining prominence Tuesday. But the group is clearly not unified against the social network.

In a YouTube video, the hacking group warns, “Your medium of communication you all so dearly adore will be destroyed.”

“If you are a willing hacktivist or a guy who just wants to protect the freedom of information then join the cause and kill Facebook for the sake of your own privacy.”

Whether that’s a single angry hacker or the will of the entire collective was unclear, however. “#OpFacebook is just another fake!” read a Twitter feed associated with the Anonymous group early Wednesday morning. “We don’t ‘kill’ the messenger. That’s not our style.”

Hours later, the group appeared to have changed its tune: “#OpFacebook is being organised by some Anons. This does not necessarily mean that all of #Anonymous agrees with it,” the Twitter feed read just two hours later.

The group said in its message that “Operation Facebook” would be begin November 5. It claimed the social network, based in Palo Alto,Calif., provides information to “government agencies” so they can “spy on people.”

While not necessarily a single entity, Anonymous links hackers across the word with the goal of committing acts of civil disobedience online.

Most recently, the “AntiSec” hacking group — linked to Anonymous — claimed last weekend that it had “defaced and destroyed” the websites of scores of US police agencies in retaliation for the arrests of cyber attack suspects.

NewsCore contributed to this report. 
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Exposing the truth can be “high-tech terrorism”

Picture above – light dispels darkness as truth dispels ignorance


What is high tech terrorism?

Is information and exposing crimes and state crimes and torture and state terrorism, and power plays, and economic coercion, etc, high technological terrorism?

See below

Note that you are  >     HERE       > so do you want to browse a bit



What is high tech terrorism?
Who is a high tech terrorist?

Can merely exposing the truth  be “high-tech terrorism” and make you a terrorist?

“… the man is a high-tech terrorist.”  “…. if it’s found that Assange hasn’t violated the law, then the law should be changed.”

If this with this man, what about with many others, even children testing to their buddies?


‘Collateral Murder’ Soldier Speaks in New Film

Ethan McCord, a 33-year-old Army specialist, was engaged in a firefight with insurgents in an Iraqi suburb in July 2007, when his platoon, part of Bravo Company, 2-16 Infantry, got orders to investigate the aftermath of a recent firefight on a nearby street.

When McCord’s platoon arrived, the soldiers found a scene of fresh carnage –- the scattered remains of a group of men, believed to be armed, who had just been gunned down by Apache attack helicopters. They also found 10-year-old Sajad Mutashar and his 5-year-old sister Doaha covered in blood in a van. Their 43-year-old father, Saleh, had been driving them to a class when he spotted one of the wounded men moving in the street and drove over to help him, only to become a victim of the Apache guns.

McCord was photographed in a video shot from one helicopter as he ran frantically to a military vehicle with Sajad in his arms seeking medical care. That video created its own firestorm when the whistleblower site WikiLeaks published it April 5, 2010, one year ago Tuesday, on a site called “Collateral Murder.” It was the leak that put WikiLeaks on the map and is among a multitude of high-profile leaks allegedly provided to the site by former Army intelligence analyst Bradley Manning. interviewed McCord last year about the incident and about his experience of suddenly seeing himself on the news, three years after the event. McCord had just returned from dropping his children at school on April 5, when he turned on the TV news to see grainy black-and-white video footage of himself running from a bombed-out van with Sajad in his arms. It was a scene that had played repeatedly in his mind for three years and had caused him much grief.

A new short film about the Baghdad incident will be showing this month at the Tribeca Film Festival in New York. In it, McCord goes into more detail about the events of that day and shows a number of photos he took of his fellow soldiers before and after the controversial attack. You can see a clip from the film Incident in New Baghdad above.


War crimes good, exposing them bad

While military and political leaders accused of war crimes sleep soundly, one alleged whistleblower languishes in jail.
Medea Benjamin and Charles Davis Last Modified: 10 Mar 2011 10:11 GMT
Protesters gather to support Bradley Manning outside the Quantico base where he is being held in solitary confinement. As Manning endures his incarceration, political and military leaders accused of war crimes walk free [EPA]

Bradley Manning is accused of humiliating the political establishment by revealing the complicity of top US officials in carrying out and covering up war crimes. In return for his act of conscience, the US government is torturing him, humiliating him and trying to keep him behind bars for life.

The lesson is clear, and soldiers take note: You’re better off committing a war crime than exposing one.

An Army intelligence officer stationed in Kuwait, the 23-year-old Manning – outraged at what he saw – allegedly leaked tens of thousands of State Department cables to the whistle-blowing website WikiLeaks. These cables – cables that show US officials covering up everything from child rape in Afghanistan to an illegal, unauthorised bombing in Yemen.

Manning is also accused of leaking video evidence of US pilots gunning down more than a dozen Iraqis in Baghdad, including two Reuters journalists – and then killing a man who stopped to help them. The two young children of the passerby were also severely wounded.

“Well, it’s their fault for bringing kids into a battle,” a not-terribly-remorseful US pilot can be heard remarking in the July 2007 “Collateral Murder” video.

Walking free

None of the soldiers who carried out that war crime have been punished, nor have any of the high-ranking officials who authorised it. And that’s par for the course. Indeed, committing war crimes is more likely to get a soldier a medal than a prison term. And authorising them? Well, that’ll get you a book deal and a six-digit speaking fee. Just ask George W Bush. Or Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld or Condoleezza Rice. Or the inexplicably “respectable” Colin Powell.

In fact, the record indicates Manning would today be far better off if he’d killed those men in Baghdad himself – and on the lecture circuit, rather than in solitary confinement.

Hyperbole? Consider what happened to the US soldiers who, over a period of hours – not minutes – went house to house in the Iraqi town of Haditha and executed 24 men, women and children in retaliation for a roadside bombing.

“I watched them shoot my grandfather, first in the chest and then in the head,” said one of the two surviving eyewitnesses to the massacre, nine-year-old Eman Waleed.

“Then they killed my granny.”

The relative value of life

Almost five years later, not one of the men involved in the incident is behind bars. And despite an Army investigation revealing that statements made by the chain of command suggest they “believe Iraqi civilian lives are not as important as US lives”, with the murder of brown-skinned innocents considered “just the cost of doing business” – a direct quote from Maj Gen Eldon Bargewell’s 2006 investigation into the killings – none of their superiors are behind bars either.

Now consider the treatment of Bradley Manning. On March 1, 2011, the military charged Manning with 22 additional offences – on top of the original charges of improperly leaking classified information, disobeying an order and general misconduct. One of the new charges, “aiding the enemy”, is punishable by death. That means Manning faces the prospect of being executed or spending his life in prison for exposing the ugly truth about the US empire.

Meanwhile, the Obama administration has decided to make Manning’s pre-trial existence as torturous as possible, holding him in solitary confinement for 23 hours a day since his arrested ten months ago – treatment which Psychologists for Social Responsibility notes is, “at the very least, a form of cruel, unusual and inhumane treatment in violation of US law”.

In addition to the horror of long-term solitary confinement, Manning is barred from exercising in his cell and is denied bed sheets or a pillow. And every five minutes, he must respond in the affirmative when asked by a guard if he’s “okay”.

Presumably he lies.

While others sleep soundly

It gets worse. On his blog, Manning’s military lawyer, Lt Col David Coombs, reveals his client is now stripped of his clothing at night, left naked under careful surveillance for seven hours, and, when the 5:00am wake-up call comes, he’s then “forced to stand naked at the front of the cell”.

If you point out that the emperor has no clothes, it seems the empire will make sure you have none either.

Officials at the Quantico Marine Base where Manning is being held claim the move is “not punitive”, according to Coombs. Rather, it is for Manning’s own good – a “precautionary measure” intended to prevent him from harming himself. Do they really think Manning is going to strangle himself with his underwear – and that he could do so while under 24-hour surveillance?

“Is this Quantico or Abu Ghraib?” asked US Representative Dennis Kucinich. Good question, congressman. Like the men imprisoned in former President Bush’s Iraqi torture chamber, Manning is being abused and humiliated – despite having not so much as been tried in a military tribunal, much less convicted of an actual crime.

So much for the presidential term of the candidate of hope and change.

Administrations change, much remains the same

Remember back when Obama campaigned against such Bush-league torture tactics? Recall when candidate Obama said “government whistleblowers are part of a healthy democracy and must be protected from reprisal”? It appears his opposition to torture and support for whistleblowers was mere rhetoric. And then he took office.

Indeed, despite the grand promises and soaring oratory, Obama’s treatment of Manning is starkly reminiscent of none other than Richard Nixon.

Like Obama – who has prosecuted more whistleblowers than any president in history – Nixon had no sympathy for “snitches”, and no interest in the US public learning the truth about their government. And he likewise argued that Daniel Ellsberg, the leaker of the Pentagon Papers, had given “aid and comfort to the enemy” for revealing the facts about the war in Vietnam.

But there’s a difference. Richard Nixon never had the heroic whistleblower of his day thrown in solitary confinement and tortured. If only the same could be said for Barack Obama.

Medea Benjamin is cofounder of Global Exchange and CODEPINK: Women for Peace, while Charles Davis is an independent journalist.

On March 20, CODEPINK and others will hold a rally at the Quantico Marine Base in Virginia, USA, in support of Bradley Manning. For details, click here.

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Al Jazeera’s editorial policy.


Lawyer: Julian Assange Was in Hiding — from Sarah Palin

Assange leaves Belmarsh Magistrates Court in London on Feb. 8, 2011

Assange leaves Belmarsh Magistrates Court in London on Feb. 8, 2011

Andrew Winning / Reuters

Julian Assange could not be reached by the Swedish authorities who are investigating sex-crimes allegations against him because the WikiLeaks founder had become spooked by “death threats” issued by American politicians, including Sarah Palin, Assange’s Swedish lawyer told a British court on Tuesday.

One of the central mysteries of Assange’s extradition hearing in London this week is why the 39-year-old Australian is facing extradition at all. Why didn’t he voluntarily return to Sweden to face questioning in the weeks following the accusations by two Swedish women?

(More on See a TIME video interview with Julian Assange.)

After allowing Assange to leave Sweden last September, investigators sought him later that month for questioning, but he was no longer in the country. A European warrant was issued by Swedish authorities, and he was arrested in London.

Giving evidence in London, Assange’s Swedish attorney Bjorn Hurtig said his client could not be reached by the authorities because he had gone into hiding due to fears that he would be killed by forces from the U.S.

“There were a lot of threatening statements made by politicians in the U.S. … you should keep in mind that during this period I’ve known Julian, he has actually received death threats in the media … that he should be given the death sentence,” Hurtig said, using an interpreter, in court on Tuesday. “As a consequence of this, Julian was duly worried.”

Hurtig’s statement is part of an effort by Assange’s lawyers to fight extradition to Sweden on the grounds that doing so would violate Assange’s human rights by putting him at risk of execution. They support this claim by citing British media reports that U.S. Republican politicians Sarah Palin and Mike Huckabee have called for him to be executed. Palin is reported to have said that Assange “should be hunted down like al-Qaeda.”

(More on See TIME’s December 2010 cover story on Julian Assange.)

Assange’s lawyers have said that if the WikiLeaks boss is taken to Sweden, the Swedes could “bow to U.S. pressure” and allow his further extradition to the U.S. or “naively” rely on diplomatic assurances and allow Assange to be removed from Sweden. In interviews, Assange’s lawyers have even suggested that their client could face extraordinary rendition and end up in Guantánamo Bay.

Now, we at NewsFeed find it a bit far-fetched to imagine the CIA storming across the tarmac at Stockholm’s cozy Arlanda Airport with dark hoods, powerful sedatives and a private jet at the ready. Nor do we find it likely that Sweden, a country with no death penalty, would extradite Assange to the U.S. Indeed, Swedish prosecutors have assured Assange’s human rights if his extradition to Sweden is successful, and on Tuesday they reinforced that “as a matter of law and practice” he could not be subsequently sent to the U.S. But then, can we really blame Assange for being afraid of Palin?

The hearing continues on Friday. (via AAP)

More on See pictures of WikiLeaks’ bunke

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Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell speaking about WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange for releasing ‘classified material’ in diplomatic cables which continues to expose US government lies, double standards,  illegal activities, criminal actions, interference in the internal affairs of foreign nations, and a myriad of other misdeeds.

If someone exposes official government crime and injustice on a vast scale, he is targeted as a “High Tech Terrorist” and is targeted for elimination.


Members of ‘Anonymous’ often wear Guy Fawkes masks in public, inspired by the film ‘V for Vendetta’.
Image: Wikimedia Commons

…..informal group of alias …. known as ‘Anonymous’ – had attacked the websites of Paypal, Mastercard and Visa … after each of the services had apparently withdrawn their services from the whistleblowing website, apparently under political pressure…..


Joe Biden Calls WikiLeaks Chief Julian Assange A ‘High-Tech Terrorist’

First Posted: 12-19-10 03:51 PM   |   Updated: 12-19-10 05:55 PM

Vice-President Joe Biden made his case for why WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange is a “high-tech terrorist” on Sunday, in an appearance on NBC’s “Meet The Press.”

“This guy has done things and put in jeopardy the lives and occupations of people in other parts of the world,” Biden said. “He’s made it difficult to conduct out business with our allies and our friends. … It has done damage.”

Biden claims the leaks have had a direct impact on his own work when meeting with world leaders. “There is a desire now to meet with me alone rather than have staff in the room,” he said. “It makes things more cumbersome.”

Biden said the Justice Department is exploring possible legal action against Assange. His comments echoed those made by Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell earlier this month. “I think the man is a high-tech terrorist,” McConnell said.


US seeks legal pursuit of ‘hi-tech terrorist’ Assange: Biden


LONDON: US vice president Joe Biden on Sunday blasted Julian Assange as a dangerous “hi-tech terrorist” and said Washington was exploring a legal pursuit of the WikiLeaks founder.

Biden made the comments as Assange spent his third full day under “mansion arrest” at a friend’s house in eastern England while he fights extradition to Sweden, where he is wanted for questioning over allegations of sex crimes.

The Australian has enraged the United States by obtaining a cache of some 250,000 US diplomatic cables and slowly releasing the documents through his whistleblowing website, often causing huge embarrassment in Washington.

Assange voiced fears last week that the US would try to extradite him on charges related to the leaked cables, and Biden said the US Justice Department was examining how to take legal action against Assange.

“We’re looking at that right now,” the vice president told NBC’s Sunday talk show “Meet the Press”, without elaborating on just how the administration could act against the WikiLeaks chief.

“I’m not going to comment on that process.”When asked whether he thought Assange was a hi-tech terrorist or a whistleblower akin to those who released the Pentagon Papers — a series of top-secret documents revealing US military policy in Vietnam — Biden said: “I would argue that it’s closer to being hi-tech terrorist.”As he savoured his first day of freedom Friday after a British court released him on bail, Assange said his lawyers believed a secret US grand jury investigation had been started into his role in the diplomatic cable leak.

Media reports suggest that US prosecutors are trying to build a case against him on the grounds that he encouraged a US soldier, Bradley Manning, to steal US cables from a government computer and pass them to WikiLeaks.

Assange has denied knowing Manning.

A report by congressional researchers said the Espionage Act and other US laws could be used to prosecute Assange, but there is no known precedent for prosecuting publishers in such a case.

Assange is staying at Ellingham Hall, the mansion in eastern England of journalist friend Vaughan Smith, as part of the conditions of bail, which he was granted by London’s High Court on Thursday.

He must also report daily to a nearby police station and wear an electronic tag.

On Saturday, WikiLeaks was dealt another blow when Bank of America, the largest US bank, became the latest institution to halt financial transactions for the site after MasterCard, PayPal, Visa Europe and others.

The bank said its decision was “based upon our reasonable belief that WikiLeaks may be engaged in activities that are, among other things, inconsistent with our internal policies for processing payments.”But Assange lashed out at the move, telling AFP it was a “new type of business McCarthyism in the US.”The term was coined to describe the anti-communist pursuits of former US senator Joseph McCarthy from the late 1940s to the 1950s.

New information about the allegations Assange faces in Sweden also emerged at the weekend.

Several British newspapers published lurid new details of the claims of sexual assault against two women, over which Swedish prosecutors want to question him. The 39-year-old denies the charges.

The Guardian newspaper — which has cooperated with WikiLeaks on the publication of the US documents — and the Mail on Sunday both reported that the two women with whom he had sex in Sweden had gone to police after he refused to take an HIV test.

Assange hit out at Swedish handling of the case, accusing authorities there of leaking fresh details about the case that even he and his defence lawyers have not had access to.

The former computer hacker also reiterated that there were threats against his life and those of the website’s staff, but he vowed that WikiLeaks would continue publishing the cables.

“We are a robust organisation. During my time in solitary confinement we continued to publish every day and it’s not going to change,” he said. – AFP


Ellsberg defends WikiLeaks founder, Army private


Associated Press

WASHINGTON — The man who famously leaked the Pentagon Papers during the Vietnam War defended both WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange and the Army private suspected of providing the site with thousands of sensitive government documents.

Daniel Ellsberg said Thursday that Wikileaks’ disclosure of government secrets on the Iraq and Afghanistan wars and thousands of diplomatic cables was “exactly the right thing” to do.

“I think they provided a very valuable service,” Ellsberg said, also referring to man suspected of leaking the documents, Pvt. Bradley Manning. “To call them terrorists is not only mistaken, it’s absurd.”

Ellsberg said he frequently hears people praise his 1971 leak of the Pentagon’s secret history of the Vietnam War while condemning the WikiLeaks disclosures. The 79-year-old former military analyst rejected that argument, calling Manning a “brother” who, if he indeed provided the documents to WikiLeaks, committed “a very admirable act.”

And he said the government is wrong to pursue criminal charges against Assange, comparing him to New York Times and Washington Post journalists who have published information from classified documents.

“Anybody who believes Julian Assange can be distinguished from The New York Times … is on a fool’s errand,” Ellsberg said.

Ellsberg once faced criminal charges over his leak, but they were thrown out by a judge.

While generally praising Assange, Ellsberg said Assange should have done a better job in his initial document releases of redacting names of people and sources who could be subject to violence if their names were discovered, such as Afghans who could be targeted by extremists for helping the U.S. He said WikiLeaks has modified its policies to release only documents that are also released by mainstream news outlets.

Ellsberg acknowledged that the government needs to keep some secrets, but said the WikiLeaks documents expose information that the public needs to know, including cables showing that U.S. special forces are engaged in operations in the tribal areas of Pakistan.

Ellsberg’s comments came as a House committee held a hearing on what laws could be used to prosecute Assange. Attorney General Eric Holder has said a criminal investigation of WikiLeaks is ongoing.

After his news conference – sponsored by the Australian activist group GetUp!, which released a petition with more than 90,000 Australian signatures supporting Assange – Ellsberg joined hundreds of protesters at an anti-war rally in Lafayette Park. He was one of dozens of demonstrators arrested in front of the White House for failing to obey police orders to clear the sidewalk. Ellsberg said it was the 80th time he was arrested.

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  • WikiLeaks: U.S. having trouble tying Assange to Manning

    WikiLeaks: U.S. having trouble tying Assange to Manning

    WASHINGTON — Even as some government officials contend that the release of thousands of classified documents by WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange jeopardizes U.S. national security, legal experts, Pentagon officials and Justice Department lawyers concede any effort to prosecute him faces numerous hurdles.

    Among them: Prosecutors apparently have had difficulty finding evidence that Assange ever communicated directly with Army Pfc. Bradley Manning, 23, an intelligence specialist who’s widely thought to be the source of the documents, but is charged only with misusing and illegally downloading them.

    Prosecutors declined to discuss what evidence they have in the Manning case, but three Pentagon officials who cautioned that their information is two months old told McClatchy this week that as of that time prosecutors had no evidence tying Manning to Assange.

  • What comes next can’t be good

    What comes next can’t be good

    A ll the hoopla about whether WikiLeaks has harmed U.S. foreign policy has missed the most stunning lesson of this drama.

    We now know that, in the age of the Internet, two obscure individuals can upend U.S. diplomacy and command global headlines. A bored U.S. Army private and an obsessive Australian oddball have set the world on edge.

    Although I am a journalist, and journalists are supposed to love leaks, I do not think this is a good thing. Consider: If two hackers can cause such a global stir by dumping tens of thousands of secret diplomatic cables onto the Web, what comes next?

  • WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange surrenders in UK

    WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange surrenders in UK

    WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange surrendered to London police Tuesday to face a Swedish arrest warrant, the latest blow to an organization that faces legal, financial and technological challenges after releasing hundreds of secret U.S. diplomatic cables.

    Assange was at Westminster Magistrate’s Court on Tuesday afternoon, waiting to attend a hearing. His Swedish lawyer told The Associated Press his client would challenge any extradition from Britain to Sweden.

    If that is the case, Assange will likely be remanded into U.K. custody or released on bail until another judge rules on whether to extradite him, a spokeswoman for the extradition department said on customary condition of anonymity.

  • Assange may surrender to British police

    Assange may surrender to British police

    Julian Assange’s lawyer was arranging to deliver the WikiLeaks founder to British police for questioning in a sex-crimes investigation of the man who has angered Washington by spilling thousands of government secrets on the Internet.

    Lawyer Mark Stephens told reporters in London that the Metropolitan Police had called him to say they had received an arrest warrant from Sweden for Assange. Assange has been staying at an undisclosed location in Britain.

    “We are in the process of making arrangements to meet with police by consent,” Stephens said Monday, declining to say when Assange’s interview with police would take place.

  • Building a legal case against Assange won’t be easy, experts say

    Building a legal case against Assange won’t be easy, experts say

    Even as some government officials contend that the release of thousands of classified documents by WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange jeopardizes U.S. national security, legal experts, Pentagon officials and Justice Department lawyers concede any effort to prosecute him faces numerous hurdles.

    Among them: Prosecutors apparently have had difficulty finding evidence that Assange ever communicated directly with Army Pfc. Bradley Manning, 23, an intelligence specialist who’s widely thought to be the source of the documents, but is charged only with misusing and illegally downloading them.

    Prosecutors declined to discuss what evidence they have in the Manning case, but three Pentagon officials who cautioned that their information is two months old recently told McClatchy Newspapers that as of that time prosecutors had no evidence tying Manning to Assange.


Associated Press

WASHINGTON — The man who famously leaked the Pentagon Papers during the Vietnam War defended both WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange and the Army private suspected of providing the site with thousands of sensitive government documents.

Daniel Ellsberg said Thursday that Wikileaks’ disclosure of government secrets on the Iraq and Afghanistan wars and thousands of diplomatic cables was “exactly the right thing” to do.

“I think they provided a very valuable service,” Ellsberg said, also referring to man suspected of leaking the documents, Pvt. Bradley Manning. “To call them terrorists is not only mistaken, it’s absurd.”

Ellsberg said he frequently hears people praise his 1971 leak of the Pentagon’s secret history of the Vietnam War while condemning the WikiLeaks disclosures. The 79-year-old former military analyst rejected that argument, calling Manning a “brother” who, if he indeed provided the documents to WikiLeaks, committed “a very admirable act.”

And he said the government is wrong to pursue criminal charges against Assange, comparing him to New York Times and Washington Post journalists who have published information from classified documents.

“Anybody who believes Julian Assange can be distinguished from The New York Times … is on a fool’s errand,” Ellsberg said.

Ellsberg once faced criminal charges over his leak, but they were thrown out by a judge.

While generally praising Assange, Ellsberg said Assange should have done a better job in his initial document releases of redacting names of people and sources who could be subject to violence if their names were discovered, such as Afghans who could be targeted by extremists for helping the U.S. He said WikiLeaks has modified its policies to release only documents that are also released by mainstream news outlets.

Ellsberg acknowledged that the government needs to keep some secrets, but said the WikiLeaks documents expose information that the public needs to know, including cables showing that U.S. special forces are engaged in operations in the tribal areas of Pakistan.

Ellsberg’s comments came as a House committee held a hearing on what laws could be used to prosecute Assange. Attorney General Eric Holder has said a criminal investigation of WikiLeaks is ongoing.

After his news conference – sponsored by the Australian activist group GetUp!, which released a petition with more than 90,000 Australian signatures supporting Assange – Ellsberg joined hundreds of protesters at an anti-war rally in Lafayette Park. He was one of dozens of demonstrators arrested in front of the White House for failing to obey police orders to clear the sidewalk. Ellsberg said it was the 80th time he was arrested.

Read more:


Ron Paul’s Passionate Defense Of Julian Assange And WikiLeaks On House Floor


by Colby Hall | 10:19 am, December 10th, 2010

Ron Paul is nothing if not an conservative iconoclast. The Texas Republican House Representative, with deep libertarian roots is taking a counter-intuitive departure from the traditional and established GOP rhetoric on the issue of WikiLeaks. In an impassioned speech on the U.S. House floor, Paul likened the attack on Julian Assange to “killing the messenger for bringing bad news” before providing nine provocative questions for Americans to consider.

Mr. Paul concluded his speech with a list of questions for the American citizens to consider, the transcript of which is below (via FromTheOld.)

Number 1: Do the America People deserve know the truth regarding the ongoing wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Yemen?

Number 2: Could a larger question be how can an army private access so much secret information?

Number 3: Why is the hostility directed at Assange, the publisher, and not at our governments failure to protect classified information?

Number 4: Are we getting our moneys worth of the 80 Billion dollars per year spent on intelligence gathering?

Number 5: Which has resulted in the greatest number of deaths: lying us into war or Wikileaks revelations or the release of the Pentagon Papers?

Number 6: If Assange can be convicted of a crime for publishing information that he did not steal, what does this say about the future of the first amendment and the independence of the internet?

Number 7: Could it be that the real reason for the near universal attacks on Wikileaks is more about secretly maintaining a seriously flawed foreign policy of empire than it is about national security?

Number 8: Is there not a huge difference between releasing secret information to help the enemy in a time of declared war, which is treason, and the releasing of information to expose our government lies that promote secret wars, death and corruption?

Number 9: Was it not once considered patriotic to stand up to our government when it is wrong?

Watch the entire speech from C-Span…


Florida Republican defends WikiLeaks

By Gautham Nagesh – 12/07/10 01:52 PM ET

Rep. Connie Mack (R-Fla.) on Monday accused the federal government of intimidating citizens connected to WikiLeaks and said officials are trying to distract the public from the contents of the classified documents published by the site.

Last week, Mack said Americans have a right to know the contents of the leaks, regardless of how the materials were obtained. He doubled down on that view Monday during an appearance on Fox Business, accusing the federal government of vilifying WikiLeaks in order to escape scrutiny of its military and foreign policy.

“The people are not really understanding what’s happening here. The fear should be: What will our federal government do to try to punish American citizens and corporations if those citizens or corporations do something that the government doesn’t like? It doesn’t make sense,” Mack said on “Freedom Watch with Judge Napolitano.”

“The idea that we’re focusing on WikiLeaks and not focusing on what the federal government is trying to do, it’s a head fake,” Mack added, comparing the leaks to the warrantless wiretapping of Americans’ phones under the Patriot Act.

Mack’s views are strongly at odds with his fellow Republicans, some of whom have called for WikiLeaks to be labeled a terrorist organization. A group of senators unveiled a bill last week aimed at stopping the site by making it a crime to disclose the name of classified military or intelligence sources of information.

Watch the interview here.


Ex-CIA group supports Assange and WikiLeaks

America can handle the truth

08 December, 2010

A group of ex-intelligence officers from the CIA, FBI and the British Government has written an open letter of support for Julian Assange and WikiLeaks.

Fronted by Daniel Ellsberg – the former US military analyst who leaked the Pentagon Papers in 1971, exposing the truth about the Vietnam War – the statement says: “WikiLeaks has teased the genie of transparency out of a very opaque bottle, and powerful forces in America, who thrive on secrecy, are trying desperately to stuff the genie back in.”

Ellsberg has said that labelling the Pentagon Papers leak as ‘good’ whilst the Cablegate leaks are ‘bad’ makes no sense. “That’s just a cover for people who don’t want to admit that they oppose any and all exposure of even the most misguided, secretive foreign policy. The truth is that EVERY attack now made on WikiLeaks and Julian Assange was made against me and the release of the Pentagon Papers at the time.”

The statement is also keen to point out something that most of the mainstream media, and the growing list of cowardly organisations like Visa, Mastercard and PayPal which have kowtowed to to government pressure and cut off WikiLeaks from its only source of income, seem to have forgotten.

WikiLeaks hasn’t actually leaked anything. It has simply published material leaked by a young army private who, having watched Iraqi police abuses, and having read of similar and worse incidents in official messages, reportedly concluded, “I was actively involved in something that I was completely against.” Refusing to just sit back and ignore the horrific actions going on all around him, he said, “I want people to see the truth… because without information you cannot make informed decisions as a public.

Sadly, the courage of Pfc Manning’s convictions will probably see him rotting in jail for the rest of his life unless, of course, some of America’s more obnoxious politicians and commentators get their way and manage to have the soldier executed for treason.

The mainstream media also comes under heavy attack from the group of ex-spooks:

“The big question is not whether Americans can ‘handle the truth’,” the statement reads. “We believe they can. The challenge is to make the truth available to them in a straightforward way so they can draw their own conclusions – an uphill battle given the dominance of the mainstream media, most of which have mounted a hateful campaign to discredit Assange and WikiLeaks.

“So far, the question of whether Americans can “handle the truth” has been an academic rather than an experience-based one, because Americans have had very little access to the truth. Now, however, with the WikiLeaks disclosures, they do. Indeed, the classified messages from the Army and the State Department released by WikiLeaks are, quite literally, “ground truth.”

The signatories to the statement, who are all associated with Sam Adams Associates for Integrity in Intelligence, include former Danish intelligence analyst Frank Grevil, former UK civil servant Katharine Gun, ex-CIA analysts David MacMichael and Ray McGovern, fired UK ambassador to Uzbekistan Craig Murray, former FBI Special Agent and Division Counsel Collen Rowley and retired US Army Colonel Larry Wilkerson.

The vast majority of them have, like Ellsberg, been involved in high-profile leaks of their own.

You can read the statement in full here.


ex CIA -Ray McGovern Defends Julian Assange! “You Should Be Following His Example” To American Media

“…proof is in the pudding… ”

“….the only lives put into danger are the troops we we sent over to Iraq and Afghanistan under false pretenses ….”

“…seek out the secrets…”

“…find out why my taxpayer money is going to fund trafficked young boys…. take a look at the documents and see….”  “… abhorrent activities that our government have endorsed through its contractors …”

[[[What he means is – for instance and there are many more examples  – that American Government officials and forces in Afghanistan are endorsing and protecting pedophile soldiers trafficking little boys as sex slaves ,,,, euphemistically called “gay” activities,  meaning brutal slavery and rape… the ultimate “don’t ask don’t tell”  ]]]


Ray McGovern

When asked whether Julian Assange was a journalist, he replied “Yeah, actually, with all due respect, I think you (the mainstream media) should be following his example.”, [12] to the CNN reporter.


Ellsberg: “EVERY attack now made on WikiLeaks and Julian Assange was made against me and the release of the Pentagon Papers at the time.”

by Michael Ellsberg on December 8, 2010

[Below is a news release put out by the Institute for Public Accuracy, co-signed by Daniel Ellsberg]

Ex-Intelligence Officers, Others See Plusses in WikiLeaks Disclosures

WASHINGTON – December 7 – The following statement was released today, signed by Daniel Ellsberg, Frank Grevil, Katharine Gun, David MacMichael, Ray McGovern, Craig Murray, Coleen Rowley and Larry Wilkerson; all are associated with Sam Adams Associates for Integrity in Intelligence.

WikiLeaks has teased the genie of transparency out of a very opaque bottle, and powerful forces in America, who thrive on secrecy, are trying desperately to stuff the genie back in. The people listed below this release would be pleased to shed light on these exciting new developments.

How far down the U.S. has slid can be seen, ironically enough, in a recent commentary in Pravda (that’s right, Russia’s Pravda): “What WikiLeaks has done is make people understand why so many Americans are politically apathetic … After all, the evils committed by those in power can be suffocating, and the sense of powerlessness that erupts can be paralyzing, especially when … government evildoers almost always get away with their crimes. …”

So shame on Barack Obama, Eric Holder, and all those who spew platitudes about integrity, justice and accountability while allowing war criminals and torturers to walk freely upon the earth. … the American people should be outraged that their government has transformed a nation with a reputation for freedom, justice, tolerance and respect for human rights into a backwater that revels in its criminality, cover-ups, injustices and hypocrisies.

Odd, isn’t it, that it takes a Pravda commentator to drive home the point that the Obama administration is on the wrong side of history. Most of our own media are demanding that WikiLeaks leader Julian Assange be hunted down — with some of the more bloodthirsty politicians calling for his murder. The corporate-and-government dominated media are apprehensive over the challenge that WikiLeaks presents. Perhaps deep down they know, as Dickens put it, “There is nothing so strong … as the simple truth.”

As part of their attempt to blacken WikiLeaks and Assange, pundit commentary over the weekend has tried to portray Assange’s exposure of classified materials as very different from — and far less laudable than — what Daniel Ellsberg did in releasing the Pentagon Papers in 1971. Ellsberg strongly rejects the mantra “Pentagon Papers good; WikiLeaks material bad.” He continues: “That’s just a cover for people who don’t want to admit that they oppose any and all exposure of even the most misguided, secretive foreign policy. The truth is that EVERY attack now made on WikiLeaks and Julian Assange was made against me and the release of the Pentagon Papers at the time.”

Motivation? WikiLeaks’ reported source, Army Pvt. Bradley Manning, having watched Iraqi police abuses, and having read of similar and worse incidents in official messages, reportedly concluded, “I was actively involved in something that I was completely against.” Rather than simply go with the flow, Manning wrote: “I want people to see the truth … because without information you cannot make informed decisions as a public,” adding that he hoped to provoke worldwide discussion, debates, and reform.

There is nothing to suggest that WikiLeaks/Assange’s motives were any different. Granted, mothers are not the most impartial observers. Yet, given what we have seen of Assange’s behavior, there was the ring of truth in Assange’s mother’s recent remarks in an interview with an Australian newspaper. She put it this way: “Living by what you believe in and standing up for something is a good thing. … He sees what he is doing as a good thing in the world, fighting baddies, if you like.”

That may sound a bit quixotic, but Assange and his associates appear the opposite of benighted. Still, with the Pentagon PR man Geoff Morrell and even Attorney General Eric Holder making thinly disguised threats of extrajudicial steps, Assange may be in personal danger.

The media: again, the media is key. No one has said it better than Monseñor Romero of El Salvador, who just before he was assassinated 25 years ago warned, “The corruption of the press is part of our sad reality, and it reveals the complicity of the oligarchy.” Sadly, that is also true of the media situation in America today.

The big question is not whether Americans can “handle the truth.” We believe they can. The challenge is to make the truth available to them in a straightforward way so they can draw their own conclusions — an uphill battle given the dominance of the mainstream media, most of which have mounted a hateful campaign to discredit Assange and WikiLeaks.

So far, the question of whether Americans can “handle the truth” has been an academic rather than an experience-based one, because Americans have had very little access to the truth. Now, however, with the WikiLeaks disclosures, they do. Indeed, the classified messages from the Army and the State Department released by WikiLeaks are, quite literally, “ground truth.”

How to inform American citizens? As a step in that direction, on October 23 we “Sam Adams Associates for Integrity in Intelligence” (see below) presented our annual award for integrity to Julian Assange. He accepted the honor “on behalf of our sources, without which WikiLeaks’ contributions are of no significance.” In presenting the award, we noted that many around the world are deeply indebted to truth-tellers like WikiLeaks and its sources.

Here is a brief footnote: Sam Adams Associates for Integrity in Intelligence (SAAII) is a group of former CIA colleagues and other admirers of former intelligence analyst Sam Adams, who hold up his example as a model for those who would aspire to the courage to speak truth to power. (For more, please see here.)

Sam did speak truth to power on Vietnam, and in honoring his memory, SAAII confers an award each year to a truth-teller exemplifying Sam Adams’ courage, persistence, and devotion to truth — no matter the consequences. Previous recipients include:

-Coleen Rowley of the FBI
-Katharine Gun of British Intelligence
-Sibel Edmonds of the FBI
-Craig Murray, former UK ambassador to Uzbekistan
-Sam Provance, former Sgt., US Army
-Frank Grevil, Maj., Danish Army Intelligence
-Larry Wilkerson, Col., US Army (ret.)
-Julian Assange, WikiLeaks

“There is nothing concealed that will not be revealed, nothing hidden that will not be made known. Everything you have said in the dark will be heard in the daylight; what you have whispered in locked rooms will be proclaimed from the rooftops.”
– Luke 12:2-3

The following former awardees and other associates have signed the above statement; some are available for interviews:

A former government analyst, Ellsberg leaked the Pentagon Papers, a secret government history of the Vietnam War to the New York Times and other newspapers in 1971. He was an admirer of Sam Adams when they were both working on Vietnam and in March 1968 disclosed to the New York Times some of Adams’ accurate analysis, helping head off reinforcement of 206,000 additional troops into South Vietnam and a widening of the war at that time to neighboring countries.

Grevil, a former Danish intelligence analyst, was imprisoned for giving the Danish press documents showing that Denmark’s Prime Minister (now NATO Secretary General) disregarded warnings that there was no authentic evidence of WMD in Iraq; in Copenhagen, Denmark.

Gun is a former British government employee who faced two years imprisonment in England for leaking a U.S. intelligence memo before the invasion of Iraq. The memo indicated that the U.S. had mounted a spying “surge” against U.N. Security Council delegations in early 2003 in an effort to win approval for an Iraq war resolution. The leaked memo — published by the British newspaper The Observer on March 2, 2003 — was big news in parts of the world, but almost ignored in the United States. The U.S. government then failed to obtain a U.N. resolution approving war, but still proceeded with the invasion.

MacMichael is a former CIA analyst. He resigned in the 1980s when he came to the conclusion that the CIA was slanting intelligence on Central America for political reasons. He is a member of Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity.

McGovern was a CIA analyst for 27 years, whose duties included preparing and briefing the President’s Daily Brief and chairing National Intelligence Estimates. He is on the Steering Group of Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity.

Murray, former UK ambassador to Uzbekistan, was fired from his job when he objected to Uzbeks being tortured to gain “intelligence” on “terrorists.” Upon receiving his Sam Adams award, Murray said, “I would rather die than let someone be tortured in an attempt to give me some increment of security.” Observers have noted that Murray was subjected to similar character assassination techniques as Julian Assange is now encountering to discredit him.

Rowley, a former FBI Special Agent and Division Counsel whose May 2002 memo described some of the FBI’s pre-9/11 failures, was named one of Time Magazine’s “Persons of the Year” in 2002. She recently co-wrote a Los Angeles Times op-ed titled, “WikiLeaks and 9/11: What if? Frustrated investigators might have chosen to leak information that their superiors bottled up, perhaps averting the terrorism attacks.”

Wilkerson, Col., U.S. Army (ret.), former chief of staff to Secretary Colin Powell at the State Department, who criticized what he called the “Cheney-Rumsfeld cabal.” See recent interviews

For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020; or David Zupan, (541) 484-9167


Exclusive: ‘The Fourth Estate is dead,’ former CIA analyst declares

By Nathan Diebenow
Friday, December 10th, 2010 — 12:53 pm


‘The Empire’ is ‘being threatened by a slingshot in the form of a computer’

RayMcGovern Exclusive: The Fourth Estate is dead, former CIA analyst declares Traditional lines of communication between the people and the press have fallen into such disrepair in America that a whole new approach is necessary to challenge the military-industrial-governmental complex, according to a former CIA analyst sympathetic to WikiLeaks.

“The Fourth Estate is dead,” Ray McGovern, of Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity, told Raw Story in an exclusive interview. “The Fourth Estate in his country has been captured by government and corporations, the military-industrial complex, the intelligence apparatus. Captive! So, there is no Fourth Estate.”

McGovern explained that the term the “Fourth Estate,” known today as the news media in the US, was first coined by 18th century British statesman Edmund Burke. Burke is said to have pointed to the balcony in Parliament and lauded the print media of his day for being the safeguards of democracy.

“That was very powerful back then,” McGovern said. “And just a century later you get Tom Paine, James Madison. You know what Thomas Jefferson said? He said if we have to make a choice between having a government and having a press, I’ll go for the press every time. He understood that any government without a free press will resort to despotism.”

McGovern, a CIA analyst for 27 years, whose duties included preparing and briefing the President’s Daily Brief and chairing National Intelligence Estimates, said that he preferred to focus on the First Amendment battle of WikiLeaks’ founder Julian Assange than on the current “cyber war” in which WikiLeaks is embroiled.

McGovern said that modern people can now become informed through what he termed “The Fifth Estate.”

“Luckily, there is a Fifth Estate,” he said. “The Fifth Estate exists in the ether. It’s not susceptible of government, of corporations, or advertisers or military control. It’s free. That is very dangerous to people who like to make secrets and to make secret operational things. It’s a huge threat. And the Empire – the Goliath here – is being threatened by a slingshot in the form of a computer and a stone through these emissions thrown into the ether to our own computers.”

“It’s quite amazing,” he added.

wikileakslogo Exclusive: The Fourth Estate is dead, former CIA analyst declares

“Will the United States and its slavish allies present in Sweden… succeed in making such an object lesson of what happens to an organization and a person – a demonized person – namely Julian Assange? What happens to them if they defy the Empire if they break the rules which they have?” McGovern asked.

He also questioned Attorney General Eric Holder’s handling of the WikiLeaks founder’s case in the wake of habeas corpus being thrown “out the window” by the previous administration. Specifically, he wondered what Holder, the highest law enforcement officer in the US government, meant by the federal government using “other tools” to get Assange and shut down WikiLeaks.

Assange’s attorney said Friday that he expected his client to be indicted by the US.

“The broad hint is the extra-judiciary tools,” he said, referring to the news media. “And yet not one of those stenographer correspondents sitting before him there has the guts to say, “What do you mean ‘other tools?’ You going to assassinate the guy?”

McGovern continued, “They’re just letting it hang out there like other stuffed shirts like Jeff Merrell at the Pentagon [who says to the effect,] ‘Everything is on the table. We don’t rule anything out.’ Well, you know that reflects the state of the defunct Fourth Estate. That’s precisely why you need people to be able to get out of the framework of the Fourth Estate and to the new.”

McGovern also noted the demise of the Fourth Estate, with an anecdote about the 30th anniversary of the Pentagon Papers’ release in June 2001, months before the 9/11 attacks.

He said that at the reunion, most of those in attendance did not believe the press would publish such information were it made available today.

“They went down the line, two guys from the [New York Times], two guys from the [Washington Post], and they all said, ‘I don’t know,'” McGovern said. “I’m looking at that, and I’m thinking, ‘Holy shit!'”

He continued, “The amazing thing was that these people still had a lot of self-identification with these newspapers – some were still actively employed by them. And not only did they say this, but there was no hint of embarrassment or remorse. It was just the way it is today.”

Even while the Fourth Estate may be dead, WikiLeaks learned one important lesson from Daniel Ellsberg’s release of the Pentagon Papers, McGovern admitted. That lesson was to tell the news media that the documents are being given to more than one outlet at the same time.

WikiLeaks addressed that question by making sure that when they gave documents to the Times, they said The Guardian, Der Spiegal, Le Monde, and El Pais also had them, McGovern said.

“These guys are very, very clever,” he said. “As you can see, I wish them all the success in the world.”

McGovern said that WikiLeaks’ benefit is that it gives people the chance to become informed and place a check on government. He added that WikiLeaks’ information on the wars is the “ground-truth,” in that the data came from the American troops on the ground in Iraq and Afghanistan.

McGovern said that WikiLeaks — or outlets like it — has the potential to make the world safer to the degree American people get exposed to this information, draw adult conclusions from it, and pressure the US government to change its policies.

“You have no doubt about the authenticity of what these people are reporting, and it’s a new ballgame once these things become accessible to the American people,” he said.


Saturday, December 18, 2010

Pulitzer-winner, ex-CIA analyst, FBI whistleblower among those arrested outside White House

From Raw Story.

As President Barack Obama was unveiling a new report on progress of the war in Afghanistan, a lineup of high-profile dissenters joined in an act of civil disobedience that ended with about 135 demonstrators being arrested outside the White House Thursday afternoon.

The number of arrestees came by way of an attorney for one of the defendants, who spoke to Raw Story. (Update: the official number of arrestees was 131.)

The military’s assessment (.pdf) of the war effort found that while US troops can begin withdrawing as scheduled in July, a military presence will continue until at least 2014.

At the same time the president was speaking, dozens of protesters, organized by Veterans for Peace, lined up along the White House fence in an act of civil disobenience. Many chained or tied themselves to the fence and chanted “End, end, end the occupation. Troops out now!”

Police spent several hours arresting demonstrators, taking photos of each one before placing them into vans.

Notable participants risking arrest included Daniel Ellsberg, who leaked the Pentagon Papers, retired 27-year CIA analyst Ray McGovern, FBI whistleblower Colleen Rowley, and Pulitzer-winning former New York Times war correspondent Chris Hedges.

Raw Story was able to confirm the arrests of Ellsberg, McGovern, Rowley and Hedges, along with Veterans for Peace members Elliott Adams, Mike Ferner, Mike Hearington and Leah Bolger…


Julian Assange, Wikileaks And V For Vendetta

Submitted by Rich Johnston on December 16, 2010 – 6:16 am(15) comments

It does appear that, thanks to V For Vendetta, the Guy Fawkes imagery and V logo is becoming a true symbol for the 21st century. This was a scene outside the London courts this week, a group of protestors dressed as V , holding Free Assange signs. It’s not the first time V and Julian Assange have been associated. Take this poster from November;

The Wikileaks defence activist group Anonymous has been using the V symbology for some time. Here are some of their anti-Scientology protests.

What is different here is that Julian Assange is being associated with V. Which may play into the hands of people who accuse Assange of being a terrorist. V was clearly a terrorist aiming to bring down a corrupt government and take revenge on those who held him captive and tortured him. The film’s ending gave us a crowd of Vs, all wearing masks and it’s that collective identification and simultaneous anonymity that is so appealing to Anonymous as imagery. And means that comic shops keep selling more and more of those masks.

But, whatever image you choose, there are some who will take that iconography and use it in ways you never intended.


Operation Payback — It’s a Bitch

Reverend Manny on December 10, 20107 Comments

Make a Move and Plead the 5th cuz you can’t Plead the 1st

Anonymous has taken to the defense of WikiLeaks. This is just the beginning.

“we are legion divided by zero” — anonymous

There remains no cut and dry explanation of what just happened because Operation PayBack, much like Anonymous‘ history and psychology, remains wrapped in self-reference, allusion and obfuscation. Operation LeakSpin, part two of the WikiLeaks defense, BEGINS tonight.

If you think you’re going to bust Anon and its supporters only to find a bunch of 14 year olds… you are very gravely mistaken. If you think these are lone wolf types with aluminum hats on. You are mistaken.

Almost as mistaken as Sarah Palin when she lied about Anon attacking her. That is to say, very mistaken.

While the first level of DDOS attacks is being down-played as simplistic, make you no doubt about it, Amazon, Twitter, Facebook and PayPal are all feeling some serious burn. Operation LeakSpin should be considerably more sophisticated.

This is a people’s action. Mob action. Anarchism faster than greed. People faster than companies. Truth before cordial murder.

Anonymous is a hacker flock. This is different from a gang or any concretely defined organization. It is not people that define Anonymous but a series of actions.

Anonymous is NOT related to WikiLeaks. In fact, there are members of the hacker/hacktivist community that have actually attacked WikiLeaks directly — including Jester, who claims to have taken it down. 2600 Magazine, a hacker quarterly, is another hacker group that has come out strongly against both WikiLeaks AND Anonymous.

As I have predicted for half a decade now, the moment has finally come when a massive hacker community has developed a consciousness. While the actions of the movement participants add up to one elemental consciousness known as Anonymous, much like human consciousness, this consciousness has many competing, and occasionally even contradictory, drives. Anonymous operates as a series of hints through several major sites and hundreds of lesser known online image and bulletin boards. Anonymous is not people specifically–but only the people in the moment of action. In that, anonymous is the action of a wide and varying group of people who cease to be Anon-proper when the action is complete.

Anonymous, besmirched as a gang by the powers that be, is the electronic version of Vox Populi. The movement begs in its over-seriousness to be looked at as under-serious (see use of V for Vendetta masks). This isn’t an intended dualism, but it functions as the free-form intellectual framework through which the hyper-dramatic is fused with the concrete.

If you think DDoS is the end of it…. well… sit back and enjoy (and that’s just a prediction). Twitter probably committed the worst party foul of all..

For one, Anonymous (not namely the group, but actions of group members, and perhaps some pre-programed botnets) attacked Visa, Mastercard, Paypal and  have Amazon in their sights (for dropping WikiLeaks). Visa and MasterCard are so afraid of the truth that they cancelled payments to WikiLeaks — but not to the Ku Klux Klan.

But keep in mind that Anonymous is defending your right to a true version of what has happened here in our lifetimes. And they might not be as evil as the propaganda makes them. In fact, you might find the people that support Anonymous to be rather open to the spread of truth and democracy.

So far, the ‘hacktivist’ group known as Anonymous been launching distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks at companies perceived as the enemies of Wikileaks, including Mastercard, Paypal, and Visa. Their new strategy suggests more sophisticated thinking: to actually read the cables Wikileaks has published, find the most interesting bits that haven’t yet been publicized, then publicize them.

Tonight December 10, 2010, Anonymous, its supporters and fellow travelers begin Operation PayBack Part 2: operation LEAKSPIN… the following note has emerged...

Operation LeakSpin

Basically what this means is that even if you’re not a member of Anonymous, you can help defend Wikileaks by spreading the goodies held therein. Perhaps make something like this. Or like this (Nukes Reactor in Burma?).

Just keep in mind how dangerous a truthful first draft might be. There is a long and furious battle to keep these truths from us. This isn’t the first time WikiLeaks has exposed such brutal truths.  The forces that be, for their own good, might want to re-consider their repression.  Here’s a great time line from the Guardian listing some of the repressive efforts of american politicians and diplomats.

There’s a reason the powers that be are scared (and it’s not just governments that are the the worried powers that be). There are some jaw-dropping revelations… here’s a few

Out of all the national governments, it’s pathetic to see only Australia and Russia support Wikileaks. (update: the government of Bolivia has also substantially shown its support for wikileaks)

When LeakSpin starts spreading at 9pm I think the patient web-searcher will find a feisty and determined new breed of human  marching towards the Bastille. And really, in terms of democratic legitimacy is there any other defense of Anonymous or WikiLeaks needed?

One Love, One World, One Struggle,
–Reverend Manny (of the Human Tribe)

Anonymous calls on public to do Media' Job ("get your ass behind a proxy")


U.S. must draw the line at pedophilia in Afghanistan

By Amitai Etzioni, Special to CNN
December 17, 2010 — Updated 1426 GMT (2226 HKT)
  • Amitai Etzioni: Reports show widespread, accepted use of boys as sexual slaves
  • Vile Pashtun tradition revived: Boys sold by their families to be used for sex, he says
  • We can’t ask cultures to follow Western values, but this crosses the line, Etzioni writes
  • U.S. must not fund or protect regime that allows large-scale sex abuse of children, he says

Editor’s note: Amitai Etzioni is a sociologist and professor of international relations at George Washington University and the author of several books, including “Security First” and “New Common Ground.” He was a senior adviser to the Carter administration and has taught at Columbia and Harvard universities and the University of California, Berkeley.

(CNN) — President Obama is reviewing, again, what we are doing in Afghanistan. He should order our diplomats and generals to stop turning a blind eye to the widespread sexual abuse of children.

At the time our troops helped liberate Afghanistan in 2001, pedophilia had been largely curbed by the Taliban. However, since then, some Pashtun men have have been abusing the new freedoms for which our young men and women are dying — to molest young boys.

This vile practice has been recently documented by an Afghan journalist who returned to his native country for public television’s “Frontline.”

The program starts with a flat statement: “In an Afghanistan ravaged by war and poverty, an ancient tradition has been secretly revived: Young boys sold by their families to wealthy merchants and warlords, taught to dance and entertain, and used for sex.”

A U.N. representative correctly refers to this outrageous conduct as “a form of slavery […] sexual slavery.” The documentary shows that some of the boys are as young as 11, other reports say 9, and when they do not perform or are caught in a rivalry among jealous owners, they are beaten and in some cases murdered.

A State Department report puts it starkly: “Child abuse was endemic throughout the country, based on cultural beliefs about child-rearing, and included general neglect, physical abuse, sexual abuse, abandonment, and confined forced labor to pay off family debts.”

It continues: “Sexual abuse of children remained pervasive” … ” (and) most child sexual abusers were not arrested.”

A U.S. Defense Department report, “Pashtun Sexuality,” quotes an Afghan saying: “Women are for children, boys are for pleasure.”

It reveals that boys are forcibly removed from their homes to travel with and be used by Afghan security guards. The “Frontline” investigation found some Afghan police officers attending parties with the “dancing boys.”

My review of numerous dispatches, cables and reports from Afghanistan found no sign that our diplomats and generals are urging the Afghans to carry out their elementary duty of protecting children; thus, in effect, they are enabling the abuse to continue. This is in sharp contrast to the strong promotion of women’s rights to attend school and to leave home unsupervised and of voting rights of the general population.

As a sociologist, I fully realize that we cannot march into other countries, countries that have different cultures and traditions, and expect them to follow our values. I know that we must compromise.

I regret to say that there may be little we can do to curb opium production in Afghanistan, which supplies 90% of the world’s opium. I understand that if we tried to eradicate the poppies, we would deprive many Afghan farmers of a major source of income and drive them into the arms of the Taliban.

I am distressed to realize that we must put up with a head of state who presides over a corrupt regime and holds onto power because he benefited from fraudulent elections. However, I understand that we seem unable to find a better partner.

However, every decent human being and nation must observe a line, one that separates the world of accommodations and compromise from non-negotiable core values to which one adheres, whatever the costs and consequences. If selling children to the rich and powerful for sexual slavery does not cross that line, what does?

The president should inform our representatives in Afghanistan that although we shall continue to put up with much that we do not condone, there are limits to our accommodations. We shall neither finance nor protect a regime that refuses to act against large-scale sexual abuse of children.

The opinions in this commentary are solely those of Amitai Etzioni.


WikiLeaks: Texas Company Helped Pimp Little Boys To Stoned Afghan Cops

By John Nova Lomax, Tue., Dec. 7 2010 @ 7:01AM
Categories: Crime
DynCorp: WikiLeaks is not kind

Another international conflict, another horrific taxpayer-funded sex scandal for DynCorp, the private security contractor tasked with training the Afghan police.

While the company is officially based in the DC area, most of its business is managed on a satellite campus at Alliance Airport north of Fort Worth. And if one of the diplomatic cables from the WikiLeaks archive is to be believed, boy howdy, are their doings in Afghanistan shady.

The Afghanistan cable (dated June 24, 2009) discusses a meeting between Afghan Interior Minister Hanif Atmar and US assistant ambassador Joseph Mussomeli. Prime among Atmar’s concerns was a party partially thrown by DynCorp for Afghan police recruits in Kunduz Province.

Many of DynCorp’s employees are ex-Green Berets and veterans of other elite units, and the company was commissioned by the US government to provide training for the Afghani police. According to most reports, over 95 percent of its $2 billion annual revenue comes from US taxpayers.

And in Kunduz province, according to the leaked cable, that money was flowing to drug dealers and pimps. Pimps of children, to be more precise. (The exact type of drug was never specified.)

Since this is Afghanistan, you probably already knew this wasn’t a kegger. Instead, this DynCorp soiree was a bacha bazi (“boy-play”) party, much like the ones uncovered earlier this year by Frontline.

For those that can’t or won’t click the link, bacha bazi is a pre-Islamic Afghan tradition that was banned by the Taliban. Bacha boys are eight- to 15-years-old. They put on make-up, tie bells to their feet and slip into scanty women’s clothing, and then, to the whine of a harmonium and wailing vocals, they dance seductively to smoky roomfuls of leering older men.

After the show is over, their services are auctioned off to the highest bidder, who will sometimes purchase a boy outright. And by services, we mean anal sex: The State Department has called bacha bazi a “widespread, culturally accepted form of male rape.” (While it may be culturally accepted, it violates both Sharia law and Afghan civil code.)

For Pashtuns in the South of Afghanistan, there is no shame in having a little boy lover; on the contrary, it is a matter of pride. Those who can afford the most attractive boy are the players in their world, the OG’s of places like Kandahar and Khost. On the Frontline video, ridiculously macho warrior guys brag about their young boyfriends utterly without shame.

So perhaps in the evil world of Realpolitik, in which there is apparently no moral compass US private contractors won’t smash to smithereens, it made sense for DynCorp to drug up some Pashtun police recruits and turn them loose on a bunch of little boys. But according to the leaked document, Atmar, the Afghani interior minister, was terrified this story would catch a reporter’s ear.

He urged the US State Department to shut down a reporter he heard was snooping around, and was horrified that a rumored videotape of the party might surface. He predicted that any story about the party would “endanger lives.” He said that his government had arrested two Afghan police and nine Afghan civilians on charges of “purchasing a service from a child” in connection with the party, but that he was worried about the image of their “foreign mentors,” by which he apparently meant DynCorp. American diplomats told him to chill. They apparently had a better handle on our media than Atmar, because when a report of the party finally did emerge, it was neutered to the point of near-falsehood.

The UK Guardian picks up the tale:

US diplomats cautioned against an “overreaction” and said that approaching the journalist involved would only make the story worse.”A widely-anticipated newspaper article on the Kunduz scandal has not appeared but, if there is too much noise that may prompt the journalist to publish,” the cable said.
The strategy appeared to work when an article was published in July by the Washington Post about the incident, which made little of the affair, saying it was an incident of “questionable management oversight” in which foreign DynCorp workers “hired a teenage boy to perform a tribal dance at a company farewell party”.

A tribal dance? Could illegal strip clubs stateside possibly try that one out? “Naw, those are not full-contact lap-dances, Mr. Vice Cop. Krystal and Lexxis are just performing an ancient Cherokee fertility dance. See those buck-skin thongs on and those feathers in their hair?”

As we mentioned, this isn’t DynCorp’s first brush with the sex-slavery game. Back in Bosnia in 1999, US policewoman Kathryn Bolkovac was fired from DynCorp after blowing the whistle on a sex-slave ring operating on one of our bases there. DynCorp’s employees were accused of raping and peddling girls as young as 12 from countries like Ukraine, Moldova and Romania. The company was forced to settle lawsuits against Bolkovac (whose story was recently told in the feature film The Whistleblower) and another man who informed authorities about DynCorp’s sex ring.

There’s your tax dollars at work, Joe Six-Pack. Maybe now you won’t get so worked up about the fact that KPFT gets about ten percent of its funding from the government and uses some of it to air Al-Jazeera.

See our update, with DynCorp’s response.


Wikileaks drops Info-Bomb

July 25, 2010Posted in: News

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Wikileaks founder Julian Assange

Source: The New York Times

Julian Assange finally did what the U.S. Government feared the most. He let loose his arsenal of classified documents obtained from a soldier working in US Army intelligence. And some of those cables, are pretty damning.

Everything from the Pakistani ISI aiding the enemy, to US Soldiers slaughtering civilians, even gunning down a person who not only was deaf, but also mute.

Stories like these never make it to the mainstream media, unless someone has an inside source. Luckily for us, Wikileaks founder Julian Assange had one.

Visit Wikileaks and see for yourself.


Nobel Peace Prize for Assange? ‘Arrest a set up, info bomb on standby’

they want to intimidate …. threats …. others ways and legal ways … is in danger personal danger …. could be friendly intelligence services … MOSSAD specialists in targeted assassinations


Wikileaks Spokesman: Only Way To Stop Whistleblowers Is To Shut Down The Web

  • The Alex Jones Channel Alex Jones Show podcast Prison Planet TV Twitter Alex Jones' Facebook Infowars store

Intelligence experts warn Assange could be taken out by Mossad, other “friendly” security agencies

Wikileaks Spokesman: Only Way To Stop Whistleblowers Is To Shut Down The Web 081210assange

Steve Watson
Wednesday, Dec 8th, 2010

A spokesman for Wikileaks has told the media that the website continues to function as normal without it’s founder Julian Assange, and that the only way it could be stopped is for the entire internet to be shut down.

In an interview with ABC News, Wikileaks’ spokesman Kristinn Hrafnsson noted that Wikileaks is still on track with a prearranged schedule of releasing information.

Hrafnsson said that Wikileaks remains active despite the detention of Assange, the cutting of access to funds and donations and the continuing denial of service attacks, presumably all carried out at the behest of the US government.

“It is not derailing us in any way,” said Hrafnsson, adding that a group of five to six people is running Wikileaks’ operations in Assange’s absence.

The website has 750 mirror sites all over the world, and has threatened a huge classified information dump if attempts to it shut down are carried through.

The aggressive action taken against wikileaks also threatens to spur widespread backlash in cyberspace and beyond.

“This is a turning tide and starting a trend that you can’t really stop unless you want to shut down the Internet.” Hrafnsson told ABC.

Today we also learned that Sen. Joe Lieberman intends to push for investigation of media outlets that reported on the WikiLeaks cables, and possibly even prosecution, a move that would constitute a chilling attack on the first amendment.

“We are getting seriously close to censorship in the U.S., and that must surely go against the fundamental values the country is based upon,” Wikileaks spokesman Hrafnsson added.

Meanwhile, former CIA analyst Ray McGovern told Russia Today that he believes Assange’s life is in danger:

“From the people with power’s perspective, what they want to do is intimidate people.” McGovern said.

“What they want to do is say that even though we have no evidence against this fellow, even though it’s clearly a setup, we’re going to go after him and we’re going to make sure that every newspaper in the world, when it mentions Julian Assange, it will mention also the word ‘rapist’. It’s a matter of intimidating others in an effort to prevent further disclosures, but the cat is out of the bag.”

“If you look at the statements coming out of the department of defense and also the department of justice, you have very implicit threats. They say we’ll try to do this the right way, but there are other ways, everything is on the table. That’s the same thing the Attorney General said, there are other ways we can get at this. I suppose what he means is other ways than legal ways.”

“So yes, I am very afraid, I think that Julian Assange is in danger, personal danger, personal safety. And it wouldn’t have to be the CIA, it could be some of these “friendly” intelligence services. Mossad comes immediately to mind, who are specialists in targeted assassinations.”

In the light of the threat Assange faces, it is likely that he turned himself in to the British police, not only in order to attempt to clear his name, but considering that he may be safer under custody and under more media scrutiny than effectively staying hidden away.

Assange recently told Spanish media that he has “had hundreds of specific death threats from US military militants” warning that those close to him could be murdered in an attempt to silence him. “Recently the situation has changed, with these threats now extending out [to] our lawyers and my children,” he said.

Former NSA analyst Wayne Madsen added that Assange was likely used as a pawn by the US government as a way to draw attention to the issue of cyber defense and general internet freedoms, but could now have “outlived his usefulness”.

Watch the video report:

Wayne Madsen Also appeared on the Alex Jones show yesterday to expand on these comments:

Alex also appeared on Coast To Coast AM last night to discuss the use of Assange as an excuse for pushing draconian internet censorship legislation. (audio to follow shortly)

Picture credit: New Media Days


Steve Watson is the London based writer and editor at Alex Jones’, and regular contributor to He has a Masters Degree in International Relations from the School of Politics at The University of Nottingham in England.

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WikiLeaks releases CIA paper on U.S. as ‘exporter of terrorism’

By Ellen Nakashima

Washington Post Staff Writer Thursday, August 26, 2010; 12:43 PM

The United States has long been an exporter of terrorism, according to a secret CIA analysis released Wednesday by the Web site WikiLeaks. And if that phenomenon were to become a widely held perception, the analysis said, it could damage relations with foreign allies and dampen their willingness to cooperate in “extrajudicial” activities, such as the rendition and interrogation of terrorism suspects.

That is the conclusion of the three-page classified paper produced in February by the CIA’s Red Cell, a think tank set up after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks by then-CIA Director George J. Tenet to provide “out-of-the-box” analyses on “a full range of analytic issues.”

Titled “What If Foreigners See the United States as an ‘Exporter of Terrorism’?,” the paper cites Pakistani American David Headley, among others, to make its case that the nation is a terrorism exporter. Headley pleaded guilty this year to conducting surveillance in support of the 2008 Lashkar-i-Taiba attacks in Mumbai, which killed more than 160 people. The militant group facilitated his movement between the United States, Pakistan and India, the agency paper said.

Such exports are not new, the paper said. In 1994, an American Jewish doctor who had emigrated from New York to Israel years earlier opened fire at a mosque at the Tomb of the Patriarchs in Hebron, killing 29 Palestinian worshippers. The rampage by Baruch Goldstein, a member of the militant group Kach founded by the late Meir Kahane, helped trigger a wave of bus bombings by the extremist Palestinian group Hamas in 1995, the paper noted.

As WikiLeaks disclosures go, this paper pales in comparison to the organization’s recent releases. Last month the group published 76,000 classified U.S. military records and field reports on the war in Afghanistan. That disclosure prompted criticism that the information put U.S. troops and Afghan informants at risk, along with demands from the Pentagon that the documents be returned. WikiLeaks says it is still planning to release 15,000 more Afghan war records that it has been reviewing to redact names and other information that could cause harm.

CIA spokeswoman Marie Harf played down the significance of the paper: “These sorts of analytic products – clearly identified as coming from the Agency’s ‘Red Cell’ – are designed simply to provoke thought and present different points of view.”

While counterterrorism experts focus on threats to the homeland, al-Qaeda and other terrorist groups “may be increasingly looking for Americans to operate overseas,” the paper said.

And if the made-in-America brand becomes well-known, foreign partners may become balky, perhaps even requesting “the rendition of U.S. citizens” they deem to be terrorists. U.S. refusal to hand over its citizens could strain alliances and “in extreme cases . . . might lead some governments to consider secretly extracting U.S. citizens suspected of foreign terrorism from U.S. soil.”


Julian Assange like a hi-tech terrorist, says Joe Biden

US vice-president makes strongest remarks by any White House official over WikiLeaks founder and dipomatic cables

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 Joe Biden appears on NBC's Meet the Press, for a taped interview. Joe Biden appears on NBC’s Meet the Press, for a taped interview. Photograph: Getty ImagesThe US vice-president, Joe Biden, today likened the WikiLeaks founder, Julian Assange, to a “hi-tech terrorist”, the strongest criticism yet from the Obama administration.Biden claimed that by leaking diplomatic cables Assange had put lives at risk and made it more difficult for the US to conduct its business around the world.His description of Assange shows a level of irritation that contrasts with more sanguine comments from other senior figures in the White House, who said the leak had not done serious damage.Interviewed on NBC’s Meet the Press, Biden was asked if the administration could prevent further leaks, as Assange warned last week. “We are looking at that right now. The justice department is taking a look at that,” Biden said, without elaborating.The justice department is struggling to find legislation with which to prosecute Assange.

Asked if what Assange had done was criminal, Biden seemed to suggest it would be considered criminal if it could be established that the WikiLeaks founder had encouraged or helped Bradley Manning, the US intelligence analyst suspected of being behind the leak. Biden claimed this was different from a journalist receiving leaked material.

“If he conspired to get these classified documents with a member of the US military that is fundamentally different than if someone drops on your lap … you are a press person, here is classified material.”

Asked if he saw Assange as closer to a hi-tech terrorist than the whistleblower who released the Pentagon papers in the 1970s, which disclosed the lie on which US involvement in Vietnam was based, Biden replied: “I would argue it is closer to being a hi-tech terrorist than the Pentagon papers. But, look, this guy has done things that have damaged and put in jeopardy the lives and occupations of people in other parts of the world.

“He’s made it more difficult for us to conduct our business with our allies and our friends. For example, in my meetings – you know I meet with most of these world leaders – there is a desire now to meet with me alone, rather than have staff in the room. It makes things more cumbersome – so it has done damage.”

The interview, though broadcast yesterday, was conducted on Friday. In an interview the previous day, he had been more neutral about WikiLeaks, saying: “I don’t think there’s any substantive damage.”

The US secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, led criticism of the WikiLeaks revelations at the end of November when she accused the website of mounting an “attack” on the world.

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Gabor Rona
International Legal Director

To paraphrase H.L Mencken, no one ever went broke underestimating how low a politician will go to gain an advantage.

Exhibit A: Vice President Joseph Biden, who likens Wikileaks honcho Julian Assange to a “high-tech terrorist.

What a nice marriage of images. Especially for those of us old enough to recall poor Clarence Thomas who, when charged with sexual harassment in his Supreme Court confirmation hearing, so deftly turned defense into offense by calling the accusations a “high-tech lynching for uppity blacks.”

Now that terrorism is the new communism, why shouldn’t everyone the government wants to vilify be labeled a terrorist?

Here’s a reason. Doing it with communism, which is an idea but not a crime, was bad enough. It trashed constitutional rights, ruined lives and fueled national divisions that clouded our ability to distinguish, and act rationally about, perceived and real threats. It was also Sen. Joe McCarthy’s vehicle to get an “ism” named after him for using baseless fear-mongering as a resume builder.

Doing it with terrorism gives you all the above, but wait, there’s more! Human Rights First has already noted its concerns, here and here, about the damage to freedom of expression that comes with the territory of piling on against Wikileaks.

Terrorism is not just an idea or a theory. It is conduct designed to terrorize by scattering significant numbers of unsuspecting and innocent civilians’ body parts over a large area.

We may already have gone beyond a point of no return by irrationally equating all terrorism with war and describing all terrorists as enemy combatants – a clearly foolish thing to do since terrorists crave nothing more than to be seen as warriors rather than war criminals, or what is more typically the case, just plain old mass murderers. Congress’s decision this week to prevent federal criminal prosecution of Guantanamo detainees is a piece of this package – a bold contribution to fear-mongering at the expense of national security and accountability.

By calling a guy who publishes classified documents a terrorist Biden dilutes the meaning of the term. By the same token, absent evidence that Assange somehow participated in the initial leak of classified documents, every news organization, web site and dinner conversationalist who publishes or cites these materials is also now a terrorist.

What’s worse, this dilution diverts our attention from the task of fighting the true phenomenon that is terrorism.

On this point, I’d say you’re either with us or against us, Mr. Vice-President. You could ask the boss to send a predator drone after Julian Assange (kinda like he jokingly threatened to do to any young whippersnapper who looks at his daughter the wrong way – ha, ha, ha).

Or you could retract if you truly respect the seriousness of what terrorism is, what its victims suffer, and that the way to fight it is through appeals to reason, not bluster.

Follow Human Rights First on Twitter:

Michael Moore

Michael Moore

Oscar and Emmy-winning director

Posted: December 14, 2010 06:55 AM
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Yesterday, in the Westminster Magistrates Court in London, the lawyers for WikiLeaks co-founder Julian Assange presented to the judge a document from me stating that I have put up $20,000 of my own money to help bail Mr. Assange out of jail.

Furthermore, I am publicly offering the assistance of my website, my servers, my domain names and anything else I can do to keep WikiLeaks alive and thriving as it continues its work to expose the crimes that were concocted in secret and carried out in our name and with our tax dollars.

We were taken to war in Iraq on a lie. Hundreds of thousands are now dead. Just imagine if the men who planned this war crime back in 2002 had had a WikiLeaks to deal with. They might not have been able to pull it off. The only reason they thought they could get away with it was because they had a guaranteed cloak of secrecy. That guarantee has now been ripped from them, and I hope they are never able to operate in secret again.

So why is WikiLeaks, after performing such an important public service, under such vicious attack? Because they have outed and embarrassed those who have covered up the truth. The assault on them has been over the top:

– Sen. Joe Lieberman says WikiLeaks “has violated the Espionage Act.”

The New Yorker‘s George Packer calls Assange “super-secretive, thin-skinned, [and] megalomaniacal.”

– Sarah Palin claims he’s “an anti-American operative with blood on his hands” whom we should pursue “with the same urgency we pursue al Qaeda and Taliban leaders.”

– Democrat Bob Beckel (Walter Mondale’s 1984 campaign manager) said about Assange on Fox: “A dead man can’t leak stuff … there’s only one way to do it: illegally shoot the son of a bitch.”

– Republican Mary Matalin says “he’s a psychopath, a sociopath … He’s a terrorist.”

– Rep. Peter A. King calls WikiLeaks a “terrorist organization.”

And indeed they are! They exist to terrorize the liars and warmongers who have brought ruin to our nation and to others. Perhaps the next war won’t be so easy because the tables have been turned — and now it’s Big Brother who’s being watched … by us!

WikiLeaks deserves our thanks for shining a huge spotlight on all this. But some in the corporate-owned press have dismissed the importance of WikiLeaks (“they’ve released little that’s new!”) or have painted them as simple anarchists (“WikiLeaks just releases everything without any editorial control!”). WikiLeaks exists, in part, because the mainstream media has failed to live up to its responsibility. The corporate owners have decimated newsrooms, making it impossible for good journalists to do their job. There’s no time or money anymore for investigative journalism. Simply put, investors don’t want those stories exposed. They like their secrets kept … as secrets.

I ask you to imagine how much different our world would be if WikiLeaks had existed 10 years ago. Take a look at this photo. That’s Mr. Bush about to be handed a “secret” document on August 6th, 2001. Its heading read: “Bin Ladin Determined To Strike in US.” And on those pages it said the FBI had discovered “patterns of suspicious activity in this country consistent with preparations for hijackings.” Mr. Bush decided to ignore it and went fishing for the next four weeks.

But if that document had been leaked, how would you or I have reacted? What would Congress or the FAA have done? Was there not a greater chance that someone, somewhere would have done something if all of us knew about bin Laden’s impending attack using hijacked planes?

But back then only a few people had access to that document. Because the secret was kept, a flight school instructor in San Diego who noticed that two Saudi students took no interest in takeoffs or landings, did nothing. Had he read about the bin Laden threat in the paper, might he have called the FBI? (Please read this essay by former FBI Agent Coleen Rowley, Time’s 2002 co-Person of the Year, about her belief that had WikiLeaks been around in 2001, 9/11 might have been prevented.)

Or what if the public in 2003 had been able to read “secret” memos from Dick Cheney as he pressured the CIA to give him the “facts” he wanted in order to build his false case for war? If a WikiLeaks had revealed at that time that there were, in fact, no weapons of mass destruction, do you think that the war would have been launched — or rather, wouldn’t there have been calls for Cheney’s arrest?

Openness, transparency — these are among the few weapons the citizenry has to protect itself from the powerful and the corrupt. What if within days of August 4th, 1964 — after the Pentagon had made up the lie that our ship was attacked by the North Vietnamese in the Gulf of Tonkin — there had been a WikiLeaks to tell the American people that the whole thing was made up? I guess 58,000 of our soldiers (and 2 million Vietnamese) might be alive today.

Instead, secrets killed them.

For those of you who think it’s wrong to support Julian Assange because of the sexual assault allegations he’s being held for, all I ask is that you not be naive about how the government works when it decides to go after its prey. Please — never, ever believe the “official story.” And regardless of Assange’s guilt or innocence (see the strange nature of the allegations here), this man has the right to have bail posted and to defend himself. I have joined with filmmakers Ken Loach and John Pilger and writer Jemima Khan in putting up the bail money — and we hope the judge will accept this and grant his release today.

Might WikiLeaks cause some unintended harm to diplomatic negotiations and U.S. interests around the world? Perhaps. But that’s the price you pay when you and your government take us into a war based on a lie. Your punishment for misbehaving is that someone has to turn on all the lights in the room so that we can see what you’re up to. You simply can’t be trusted. So every cable, every email you write is now fair game. Sorry, but you brought this upon yourself. No one can hide from the truth now. No one can plot the next Big Lie if they know that they might be exposed.

And that is the best thing that WikiLeaks has done. WikiLeaks, God bless them, will save lives as a result of their actions. And any of you who join me in supporting them are committing a true act of patriotism. Period.

I stand today in absentia with Julian Assange in London and I ask the judge to grant him his release. I am willing to guarantee his return to court with the bail money I have wired to said court. I will not allow this injustice to continue unchallenged.

P.S. You can read the statement I filed today in the London court here.

P.P.S. If you’re reading this in London, please go support Julian Assange and WikiLeaks at a demonstration at 1 PM today, Tuesday the 14th, in front of the Westminster court.


In Surprise Appeal, TJX Hacker Claims U.S. Authorized His Crimes


Albert Gonzalez, the hacker who masterminded the largest credit card heists in U.S. history, is asking a federal judge to throw out his earlier guilty pleas and lift his record-breaking 20-year prison sentence, on allegations that the government authorized his years-long crime spree.

Gonzalez, 29, admitted last year that he and accomplices hacked into TJX, Office Max, Dave & Busters, Heartland Payment Systems and other companies to steal more than 130 million credit and debit card numbers, in what the government deemed the biggest computer crime case ever prosecuted in the United States. He’s currently serving time at the Milan low-security federal prison in southeastern Michigan, with a release date in the year 2025.

The government has acknowledged that Gonzalez was a key undercover Secret Service informant at the time of the breaches. Now, in a March 24 habeas corpus petition filed in the U.S. District Court in Massachusetts, Gonzalez asserts that the Secret Service authorized him to commit the crimes.

“I still believe that I was acting on behalf of the United States Secret Service and that I was authorized and directed to engage in the conduct I committed as part of my assignment to gather intelligence and seek out international cyber criminals,” he wrote. “I now know and understand that I have been used as a scapegoat to cover someone’s mistakes.”

‘One day I was unknown and nothing, and the next day I am being hailed as a genius and giving presentations to Secret Service Agents in Washington, D.C. All of this was mind-boggling for me.’

In his 25-page petition, he faults one of his attorneys for failing to prepare a “Public Authority” defense, by which someone who commits a crime argues that he did so with the approval of government authorities.

He says his attorneys never discussed a Public Authority defense with him. Had he known the option existed, he would never have pleaded guilty.

Habeas motions, known as 2255 motions, can be used by convicted prisoners to assert defective counsel or other jurisdictional and constitutional issues outside of a direct appeal. Gonzalez is acting as his own attorney in the petition.

Gonzalez became a confidential informant for the Secret Service when he was arrested in New York in 2003 after withdrawing cash from ATMs using stolen card numbers. While working closely with agents for more than four years to put other carders behind bars, he was simultaneously running a criminal enterprise he dubbed “Operation Get Rich or Die Tryin’,” according to court documents.

He was arrested in 2008 and eventually pleaded guilty to conspiracy and computer fraud, among other charges. He received two sentences last March amounting to 20 years and a day in prison — the lengthiest punishment ever imposed for computer or identity theft crimes.

At one of his sentencing hearings, Gonzalez told the court that he deeply regretted his crimes and was remorseful for having taken advantage of the personal relationships he’d forged.

“Particularly one I had with a certain government agency … that gave me a second chance in life,” he said.

But in the motion to withdraw his plea, he asserts that “each and every illegal act” he was charged with was conducted during covert operations that were controlled and operated by the Secret Service.

He writes that when he was arrested in May 2008 by Miami police, he “was expecting Secret Service to come and take custody of me and squash the charges.” Instead, he was charged with crimes that he says he committed on the government’s behalf.

Gonzalez’s former attorney, Rene Palomino, disputes assertions that the Secret Service approved Gonzalez’s crimes.

“He was given the opportunity of a lifetime to work for the Secret Service,” Palomino says. “He chose to become a criminal, bottom line, and become a double agent working both sides — the criminal side and the legal side.”

In his petition, Gonzalez faults Palomino and co-counsel Martin Weinberg with failing to file a notice of appeal as he requested after his sentencing and, more important, failing to file a motion to suppress evidence obtained from a Ukrainian carder’s laptop after his arrest in Turkey.

Gonzalez says that in 2007 the carder, Maksym “Maksik” Yastremskiy, was tortured by Turkish officials in order to obtain the passphrase to decrypt his computer.

Yastremskiy was considered the top card vendor in the underground and allegedly earned more than $11 million selling stolen credit and debit card data. He was lured to a meeting in Turkey with an undercover operative, where he was nabbed.

Gonzalez says prior to Yastremskiy’s arrest, he had been passing information about the carder’s activities to his government handlers and was even congratulated by Secret Service agent Steve Ward over lunch after the arrest. He also writes that Ward told him that the Turks had “beat Yastremskiy’s ass and made him give up the passphrase.”

Data gleaned from the laptop, along with other information, allowed authorities to zero in on two hackers who appeared to be Yastremskiy’s biggest suppliers of stolen card data from top retailers such as TJX, OfficeMax and Dave & Busters. One of the suppliers, “Segvec,” was eventually identified as Gonzalez.

When he was arrested in 2008, Gonzalez told Palomino about Yastremskiy’s alleged beating and asked him to investigate. But when Palomino sought funds from Gonzalez’s parents to fly to Turkey, Gonzalez’s parents said they couldn’t afford it.

Without an affidavit, Palomino told Gonzalez, he couldn’t file a motion to suppress. Palomino was “ineffective” for failing to file the motion, Gonzalez writes. Had he done so, the evidence would have been suppressed, and the government “would have had no case against me.”

In his petition, Gonzalez further argues that he should be allowed to withdraw his plea because the government failed to uphold its part of the agreement. He was told that if he pleaded guilty, the government would ask the court to consolidate the three cases against him — in New York, New Jersey and Massachusetts — into a single case before one judge, allowing him to receive a single sentence.

Prosecutors did request a consolidation from the court, but the court agreed to consolidate only two of the cases. Gonzalez ended up receiving two sentences — 20 years, and 20 years and a day — which he is serving concurrently.

Palomino insists his former client has no grounds for withdrawing his plea.

“This was a negotiated plea,” says Palomino. “He knew what he was getting into when he signed off on this agreement.”

Regarding his failure to file a motion to suppress evidence obtained under torture, Palomino says, “We researched the issue regarding the evidence, and there were no grounds for suppression. Everything that was legally possible that could have been done for him was done for him. Nothing was left undone.”

The filing provides a glimpse at some of Gonzalez’s undercover work and at the relationship he formed with his handlers, Secret Service agents David Esposito and Steve Ward, who he says paid him $1,200 a month in cash for the work he performed.

Using the online names “Cumbajohnny” and “Segvec,” Gonzalez engaged carders in underground chat rooms and helped set them up to be busted. During his undercover time, he went to California for a week for one operation and to Chicago, where he helped set up a honeypot.

He was also invited to Secret Service headquarters in Washington, D.C., to give a presentation on malware and computer-security vulnerabilities. He proved himself so trustworthy, that he was invited to agent briefings and became privy to “highly confidential information.”

He even went bike riding and bar hopping with his handlers in the evening after work.

“They treated me like one of their own and did everything but give me a gun and a badge,” Gonzalez writes. “On one occasion, even the possibility of a gun for protection was discussed if the need ever arose.”

In 2004, he participated in his biggest sting operation from a military base at Cavens Point, New Jersey. Called Operation Firewall, the groundbreaking sting focused on carders on an underground forum called Shadowcrew and led to arrests of more than 20 people.

After Operation Firewall ended, Gonzalez moved back to Miami, where he’d grown up, and continued to work undercover for the agency on the “Shadow Ops” operation. A former associate of Gonzalez told Threat Level previously that it was during this period that he began earning $75,000 a year working for the Secret Service. It was also during this period that he committed the bulk of the crimes for which he was later charged.

Gonzalez writes that when the agents asked him to commit acts he knew were illegal, he complied, “to please the Agents who had shown me such respect and friendship.” He said the agents told him they had his back and would intervene if he was ever arrested.

“At that point I would have done anything they asked me to do,” he writes. “I was overwhelmed and felt like I could do no wrong.”

Gonzalez says the agents even turned a blind eye when he committed crimes in order to resolve a $5,000 debt with an unnamed Russian carder. Gonzalez incurred the debt before he began working for the feds and didn’t have the funds to clear it.

He says he told the agents that if he didn’t repay the debt, he’d lose credibility in the underground and thus his effectiveness as an informant. Agent Ward allegedly told him, “Go do your thing and pay the debt, just don’t get caught.”

“All of this inflated my ego and made me feel very important and made me feel like I was really a part of the Secret Service with the backing and support of the Government Agency,” Gonzalez writes.

“One day I was unknown and nothing, and the next day I am being hailed as a genius and giving presentations to Secret Service Agents in Washington, D.C. All of this was mind boggling for me.”

A Secret Service official told Threat Level that because the case was going through the appellate process he was unable to comment.

Photo of Albert Gonzalez courtesy of Stephen Watt

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Court Says Bush Illegally Wiretapped Two Americans

A federal judge on Wednesday said the George W. Bush administration illegally eavesdropped on the telephone conversations of two American lawyers who represented a now-defunct Saudi charity.

The lawyers alleged some of their 2004 telephone conversations to Saudi Arabia were siphoned to the National Security Agency without warrants. The allegations were initially based on a classified document the government accidentally mailed to the former Al-Haramain Islamic Foundation lawyers. The document was later declared a state secret and removed from the long-running lawsuit weighing whether a sitting U.S. president may create a spying program to eavesdrop on Americans’ electronic communications without warrants

“Plaintiffs must, and have, put forward enough evidence to establish a prima facie case that they were subjected to warrantless electronic surveillance,” U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker ruled, in a landmark decision. Even without the classified document, the judge said he believed the lawyers “were subjected to unlawful electronic surveillance” (.pdf) in violation of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which requires warrants in terror investigations.

It’s the first ruling addressing how Bush’s once-secret spy program was carried out against American citizens. Other cases considered the program’s overall constitutionality, absent any evidence of specific eavesdropping.

President George W. Bush and wife, Laura, board Air Force One for last time as President Barack Obama succeeded him.President George W. Bush and wife, Laura, board Air Force One for last time as President Barack Obama succeeded him last year.

The Obama administration’s Justice Department staunchly defended against the lawsuit, which challenged the so-called Terror Surveillance Program that Bush adopted in the aftermath of the 2001 terror attacks. The classified document was removed from the case at the behest of both the Bush and Obama administrations, which declared it a state secret.

The Justice Department said it was reviewing the decision.


Judge Walker likened the department’s legal tactics as “argumentative acrobatics.” He said counsel for attorneys Wendell Belew and Asim Gafoor are free to request monetary damages.

Their lawyer, Jon Eisenberg, said in a telephone interview that “the case is not about recovering money.”

“What this tells the president, or the next president, is, you don’t have the power to disregard an act of Congress in the name of national security,” Eisenberg said.
Because of the evocation of the state secrets privilege, Walker had ruled the lawyers must make their case without the classified document. So Eisenberg amended the case and cited a bevy of circumstantial evidence (.pdf). Walker ruled that evidence shows that the government illegally wiretapped the two lawyers as they spoke on U.S. soil to Saudi Arabia. Walker said the amended lawsuit pieces together snippets of public statements from government investigations into Al-Haramain, the Islamic charity for which the lawyers were working, including a speech about their case by an FBI official.

Under Bush’s so-called Terrorist Surveillance Program, which The New York Times disclosed in December 2005, the NSA was eavesdropping on Americans’ telephone calls without warrants if the government believed the person on the other line was overseas and associated with terrorism. Congress, with the vote of Obama — who was an Illinois senator at the time — subsequently authorized such warrantless spying in the summer of 2008.

The legislation also provided the nation’s telecommunication companies immunity from lawsuits accusing them of being complicit with the Bush administration in illegal wiretapping.

It’s uncertain whether Wednesday’s decision will withstand appeal.

In 2006, for example, a Detroit federal judge declared Bush’s spy program unconstitutional. But a federal appeals court quickly reversed, ruling that the plaintiffs did not have legal standing to bring a case, because they had no evidence to show that their telephone calls specifically were intercepted. The Supreme Court declined to review that ruling.

Photo: Associated Press

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Justice Dept. to Congress: Don’t Saddle 4th Amendment on Us

The Obama administration is urging Congress not to adopt legislation that would impose constitutional safeguards on Americans’ e-mail stored in the cloud.

As the law stands now, the authorities may obtain cloud e-mail without a warrant if it is older than 180 days, thanks to the Electronic Communications Privacy Act adopted in 1986. At that time, e-mail left on a third-party server for six months was considered to be abandoned, and thus enjoyed less privacy protection. However, the law demands warrants for the authorities to seize e-mail from a person’s hard drive.

A coalition of internet service providers and other groups, known as Digital Due Process, has lobbied for an update to the law to treat both cloud- and home-stored e-mail the same, and thus require a probable-cause warrant for access. The Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing on that topic Tuesday.

The companies — including Google, AOL and AT&T — maintain that the law should be changed to reflect that consumers increasingly access their e-mail on servers, instead of downloading it to their hard drives, as a matter of course.

But the Obama administration testified that imposing constitutional safeguards on e-mail stored in the cloud would be an unnecessary burden on the government. Probable-cause warrants would only get in the government’s way.

James A. Baker, associate deputy attorney general, testified:

Congress should recognize the collateral consequences to criminal law enforcement and the national security of the United States if ECPA were to provide only one means — a probable cause warrant — for compelling disclosure of all stored content. For example, in order to obtain a search warrant for a particular e-mail account, law enforcement has to establish probable cause to believe that evidence will be found in that particular account. In some cases, this link can be hard to establish. In one recent case, for example, law enforcement officers knew that a child exploitation subject had used one account to send and receive child pornography, and officers discovered that he had another email account, but they lacked evidence about his use of the second account.

Baker invoked the usual parade of horribles in his argument.

“The government’s ability to access, review, analyze and act promptly upon the communications of criminals that we acquire lawfully, as well as data pertaining to such communications, is vital to our mission to protect the public from terrorists, spies, organized criminals, kidnappers and other malicious actors,” (.pdf) Baker testified.

Don’t expect Congress to come out in favor of expanding Americans’ civil liberties in the post–Sept. 11 world. CNET reported that Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) said demanding warrants would be a burden to law enforcement in addition to “the court system.”

Congress has held countless hearings about reforming the Patriot Act, too. In the end, however, lawmakers have repeatedly punted on that issue, and we suspect they will embark on the same course when it comes to reforming EPCA.

The judiciary, however, has taken a different course. A federal appeals court in December ruled that e-mails were protected by the warrant requirement.

That decision by the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals became law March 21. It affects Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio and Tennessee.

Photo: Subliminati/Flickr

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