Adonis Diaries

Posts Tagged ‘Glenn Greenwald

What is this  “4th Amendment Exemption Zone”? Two-Thirds of Americans Live in… 

Josh Sager, The Progressive Cynic, posted on January 6, 2014 (and selected as one of today’s posts)

Two-Thirds of Americans Live in the 4th Amendment “Exemption Zone”

Last week, Judge Edward Korman—a Reagan appointee to the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York—confirmed that federal authorities can search the electronic devices of any American within 100 miles of any border without the need to obtain a warrant.

The Abidor et al v. Napolitano et al case, which Judge Korman just dismissed in favor of the government, focused upon warrantless searches of laptops without suspicion at the border.

In this case, an American student was stopped at the border after traveling to several Middle Eastern countries and was forced to unlock/surrender his laptop computer.

Despite the fact that nothing illegal was found on the computer, it still took nearly two weeks for Abidor to recover his laptop (which held the only copy of his thesis paper).

While dismissing this case, Judge Korman conceded to the government’s assertion that there is a 100 miles zone inland from every international border where federal authorities to have the ability to search and seize digital devices without warrant or cause—his only caveat to this concession was that

“if suspicionless forensic computer searches at the border threaten to become the norm, then some threshold showing of reasonable suspicion should be required.”

aclu

In short, if you live in or are traveling through the orange-shaded portion of this map, it would be legal for federal authorities to stop you, force you to give them the password for your laptop, and seize your files—no warrant would be needed and there would be no certainty that you would ever recover your files or your digital devices.

Due to the geography of the United States, the 100-mile exemption zone for searches has the potential to circumvent the 4th Amendment protections for a significant majority of the American people.

In addition to the fact that many major population centers lie within 100 miles of the coast, several states are entirely covered by this zone (ex. Florida, Maine, Vermont, and Connecticut).

The Border Exemption

Federal authorities have the ability to search people who wish to enter the United States—this authority is written into federal law and has been confirmed by the Supreme Court.

Border Biometrics

Under the provisions of federal law which outline the powers of border officials (8 USC § 1357), federal agents have the power to perform warrantless searches within a “reasonable distance” of the US border.

The term “reasonable distance” is defined under Attorney General’s regulation 8 CFR § 287.1 as “within 100 air miles from any external boundary of the United States.”

Several Supreme Court cases (ex. Almeida-Sanchez v. US and US v. Montoya De Hernandez) have upheld this “border exemption” to the 4th Amendment as a function of national sovereignty.

In 1979, the Supreme Court decision Torres v. Puerto Rico included a succinct explanation of the justification for the border exemption:

“The authority of the United States to search the baggage of arriving international travelers is based on its inherent sovereign authority to protect its territorial integrity. By reason of that authority, it is entitled to require that whoever seeks entry must establish the right to enter and to bring into the country whatever he may carry.”

In 2008, this exemption zone was expanded by the Supreme Court to include the search of digital devices in addition to physical baggage by the US v. Arnold ruling.

americanprogress

When past case law is synthesized with current federal law, the result is the federal government asserting the right to search the digital devices and vehicles of any American within 100 miles of a border, without having to get a warrant or show reasonable suspicion that the person in question is committing a crime.

Conclusion

Judge Korman’s ruling in Abidor v. Napolitano et al is just the most recent manifestation of creep in the federal government’s ability to circumvent constitutional protections.

By classifying entire states and cities as border zones, federal authorities are able to get around the 4th Amendment in a way that would likely horrify the authors of the Constitution—after all, at the time of this country’s founding, almost everybody lived along the coasts and this 100-mile “exemption zone.”

The search and seizure powers that the government is asserting (and the courts are confirming) create the perfect situation for abuse. It is unlikely that large numbers of random people will have their digital devices seized by the government, but it is highly likely that this power will be used to target those who challenge the status quo.

Theoretically, the federal government could seize the digital devices and data of a reporter like Glenn Greenwald if he was visiting a coastal city like New York for a conference with other reporters or a meeting with sources.

Federal agents could stop Greenwald in his hotel lobby, take his computer, and mine it for information on sources, contacts, and future stories. Because of the border exemption, neither the 4th Amendment protection from unreasonable searches and seizures, nor the 1st Amendment protections on the press would help Greenwald.

In addition to threatening journalist, these searches and seizures are a threat to political activists (ex. people protesting corruption), academics who have ideas that are not popular to those in power (ex. Professor Juan Cole during the War on Iraq) and even political candidates who threaten the already powerful (Joseph McCarthy would have loved these searches).

Shredding-the-Constitution

Unless the courts side with civil rights groups over the national security apparatus, we will wake up one day and face the fact that our constitutional protections are just words on a page that no longer have any real meaning.

Today, the government may claim that the 4th Amendment must be circumvented in these zones for security and expedience, but what about tomorrow?

If it is okay to curtail the 4th Amendment in these zones, then what is stopping the same argument being used to attack the 5th, 6th and 8th Amendments in these zones tomorrow?

Put simply, the assertion that entire cities and states are “exemption zones” for constitutional protections is nothing more than an end-run around the Constitution and something that no honest jurist should support or condone.

He Frees Minks From Slaughter Area: Dylann Roof

How the term Terrorists is exploited by the law?

Glenn Greenwald published this July 28, 2015

The FBI on Friday announced the arrests in Oakland of two animal rights activists, Joseph Buddenberg and Nicole Kissane, and accused the pair of engaging in “domestic terrorism.” This comes less than a month after the FBI director said he does not consider Charleston Church murderer Dylann Roof a “terrorist.”

The activists’ alleged crimes: “They released thousands of minks from farms around the country and vandalized various properties.” That’s it. Now they’re being prosecuted and explicitly vilified as “terrorists,” facing 10-year prison terms.

Buddenberg and Kissane are scheduled to appear this morning in a federal court in San Francisco for a hearing on bail conditions, while arraignment is set for early September. The indictment comes just days before the scheduled start of the Animal Rights National Conference, the largest and most important annual gathering of activists.

The DOJ did exactly the same thing in July of last year: Shortly before the start of the 2014 conference, they arrested two activists on federal “terrorism” charges for freeing minks and foxes from a fur farm.

The multiple activists and lawyers who spoke to The Intercept since Friday’s arrests are adamant that these well-timed indictments are designed to intimidate activists at the conference and more broadly to chill campaigns to defend animal rights.

This latest federal prosecution, and the public branding of these two activists as “domestic terrorists,” highlights the strikingly severe targeting over many years by the U.S. government of nonviolent animal and environmental rights activists.

The more one delves into what is being done here — the extreme abuse of the criminal law to stifle nonviolent political protest or even just pure political speech, undertaken with tragically little attention — the more appalling it becomes. There are numerous cases of animal rights activists, several of whom spoke to The Intercept, who weren’t even accused of harming people or property, but who were nonetheless sent to federal prison for years.

One obvious and significant reason for the U.S. government’s fixation is that the industries most threatened by this activism are uncontrollably powerful in Washington, virtually owning the Congress without opposition, stacking the relevant agencies with their revolving-door cronies.

Another is that this movement is driven by hard-core believers impressively willing to sacrifice their own liberty in defense of their political values — namely, trying to stop the mass torture and gratuitous slaughter of animals — and that frightens both industry and its government servants; that animal rights as a cause is gaining traction worldwide makes the threat even more alarming.

Yet another reason is that the specific forms of activism this movement has cultivated are shrewd and compelling: As is true for so many types of violence, the savagery, torture and sadism that makes these industries so profitable will be collectively tolerated only if we are not forced to confront their reality. That, for instance, is why the Obama DOJ is so desperately fighting the release of torture and Guantanamo photos, and why it has so severely punished whistleblowers: because few things are more menacing to status quo interests than truth revealed in its most visceral form.

While some E.U. countries have severely regulated or even banned many of the animal abuses targeted by activists, the U.S. factory farms that produce furs are among the cruelest and most sadistic anywhere, imposing extreme amounts of suffering and torture on the animals they slaughter — both in terms of how they confine them and then kill them.

The very graphic photo here shows the carcasses of minks after they have been skinned; this deeply disturbing undercover video from PETA details their treatment at American fur factories:

Independent of the moral questions raised by this savage treatment of animals, these industrial practices spawn serious environmental degradation, exploit small farmers, and produce health risks for workers: practices that can remain undisturbed only as long as we remain blissfully unaware of the harms they cause.

But there’s something deeper driving this persecution. American elites are typically willing to tolerate political protest as long as it remains constrained, controlled, and fundamentally respectful of the rules imposed by institutions of authority — i.e., as long as it remains neutered and impotent.

When protest movements adhere to those constraints, they are not only often ineffective, but more so, they can unwittingly serve as a false testament to the freedom of the political process and the generosity of its rulers (they let us speak out: see, we’re free!). That kind of marginal, modest “protest” often ends up strengthening the process it believes it is subverting.

When, by contrast, a movement transgresses those limitations and starts to become effective in impeding the injustices it targets — particularly when preserving those injustices is valuable to the most powerful — that’s when it has to be stopped at all costs, including criminalizing it with the harshest possible legal weapons.

This is the dynamic that explains the emerging campaign in the West to literally criminalize the previously marginalized BDS movement designed to stop Israeli occupation: It’s gaining too much ground, becoming too effective, and thus must be banned, its proponents and leaders threatened with prosecution. The fear that the animal rights movement is growing stronger and will succeed in exposing the horrifying realities of these industries’ practices is driving the persecution to the point of declaring it to be — and formally punishing it as — terrorism.

Even beyond that, the animal rights movement strikes at the heart of what is most cherished by American elites: the pillars of unrestrained capitalistic entitlement. That so much industrial profit depends upon extreme, constant torture and slaughter of animals is something regarded as, in essence, a sacred right.

Lauren Gazolla, who was imprisoned for 40 months in 2004 for her nonviolent animal rights activism and now works at the Center for Constitutional Rights, said that this movement “strikes at something fundamental. It challenges a way of life: So much of how much we live our lives is based on massive violence against animals, and the more brutal these industries are, the more profit they make.”

Anything that targets or threatens this entitlement is regarded as the highest and most severe threat. That’s why the government, at the behest of the industry interests it serves, is calling it “terrorism”: to them, few things are genuinely more menacing or threatening than an effective political movement aimed at these practices.

he activists arrested on Friday are being charged under the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act (AETA), a draconian 2006 federal law heavily lobbied for by the agriculture, pharmaceutical and farming industries. Its drafting and enactment was led by the notorious and powerful American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), with the lobbying industries also hiding behind groups such as the Animal Enterprise Protection Coalition (AEPC) and the Center for Consumer Freedom (CCF).

As is typical for lobbyist and industry-supported bills, the AETA passed with overwhelming bipartisan support (its two prime Senate sponsors were James Inhofe, R-Okla., and Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif.) and then was signed into law by George W. Bush. This “terrorism” law is violated if one “intentionally damages or causes the loss of any real or personal property (including animals or records) used by an animal enterprise . . . for the purpose of damaging or interfering with” its operations. If you do that — and note that only “damage to property” but not to humans is required — then you are guilty of “domestic terrorism” under the law.

Prior to the 2006 enactment of the AETA, animal rights activism that damaged property was already illegal under a 1992 federal law, as well as various state laws, and subject to severe punishments. The primary purpose of the new 2006 law was to expand the scope of criminal offenses to include plainly protected forms of political protest, and to heighten the legal punishments and intensify social condemnation by literally labeling animal-rights activists as “domestic terrorists.”

At the same time as this draconian statute was signed into law, numerous states enacted so-called “ag-gag” laws that — amazingly — “prohibit workers from taking undercover videos at the facilities and impose fines or jail time for those who do.” Moreover, “roughly half a dozen states have passed laws in recent years to prevent workers from taking images or videos of agricultural facilities.”

They’re so desperate to conceal their savage conduct from the public that they’re literally criminalizing reporting and whistleblowing, so that those who enable vital (and horrific and hard-to-watch) videos like this one — showing incomprehensible cruelty to highly intelligent and emotionally advanced pigs — are subject to prosecution:

For a barbaric industry, nothing is more threatening than the truth. As the Wall Street Journal explained in May: “In 2008, a California meat company recalled 143 million pounds of beef — the largest beef recall in U.S. history — after the Humane Society of the United States distributed an undercover video showing workers kicking sick cows and using forklifts to get them on their feet. The condition of the cows suggested their meat could have posed a risk to consumers.”

That case was the result of an undercover investigation at the Hallmark Meat Packing Co. in Chino, which, in the words of the Humane Society, showed “slaughter plant workers displaying complete disregard for the pain and misery they inflicted as they repeatedly attempted to force ‘downed’ animals onto their feet and into the human food chain.” Because the cows were too sick to walk, they were dragged or pushed with hot prods into the slaughterhouse. Some of that food made its way into the National Lunch Program served to public school students.

In other words, cows that were too sick even to walk, because of their savage mistreatment, were being put into the human food chain. This was discovered only because an undercover video revealed it:

Is it any wonder that these industries are demanding that such reporting and exposure be outlawed? And is it hard to see why the brave activists bringing these truths to light and trying to stop them are regarded as criminals and even “terrorists” for doing so?

This latest case shows how extreme and oppressive this law is by design. No human beings were physically injured by the alleged activism of Buddenberg and Kissane, nor did they attempt to harm any. Whatever one thinks of their tactics, it was — even by the FBI’s telling — confined to property damage: essentially vandalism.

In its Press Releases announcing indictments, the FBI tries to depict the alleged acts in the worst, most inflammatory light possible; for this case, this is all it could muster: They “used paint, paint stripper, a super glue-type substance, butyric acid, muriatic acid and glass etchant to vandalize Furs by Graf, a retail furrier located in San Diego.” There is absolutely no commonly understood meaning of “terrorism” (to the extent such a thing exists) that can include anything they did.

Ben Rosenfeld, a lawyer who has extensively represented animal and environmental activists, told The Intercept that “calling this terrorism is utterly irresponsible and offensive to victims of real terror.” Referring to both the DOJ and Congress, he said, “They should be ashamed of themselves.”

He added that in the post-9/11 era, “Calling this terrorism makes it almost impossible to get a fair trial for these activists. It’s very manipulative. Though the public is more jaded about the manipulative use of this term, it makes a huge impression on judges, most of whom have previously been prosecutors.” Because it’s in the title of the law, the term “terrorism” even appears on verdict forms, “so jurors see it very clearly.”

To label this nonviolent political protest “terrorism” yet again illustrates the utterly malleable and propagandistic nature of that term. This is particularly true given that the same DOJ that is charging the activists as “terrorists” just announced that Dylann Roof — who murdered nine people in a Charleston church to advance clear ideological and political objectives — will not be.

Even more abusive prosecutions — based exclusively on pure political speech and protest rights — have been common. Will Potter is likely the most knowledgeable journalist in the country on these issues; he’s author of a 2011 book entitled Green is the New Redand editor of a great website by the same name that exhaustively covers these issues.

Potter has a new story, published yesterday, on the arrest of four animal-rights activists in Oregon for . . . “allegedly writing political slogans on the public street using sidewalk chalk.” Potter reports that “the chalking was done as part of the growing ‘No New Animal Lab’ campaign, which aims to stop the construction of a new underground animal experimentation facility at the University of Washington.”

In 2004, Gazolla was prosecuted — and imprisoned in a federal penitentiary — for 40 months (three-and-a-half years) on charges that she and other activists maintained a website that endorsed illegal protests, and that her chants at a protest outside an executive’s house included advocacy of violence.

Her co-defendant was Andy Stepanian of Fitzgibbon Media, the communications firm that represents The Intercept and, on a pro bono basis, Chelsea Manning. Stepanian was imprisoned for three years, and during his incarceration, was even placed in a highly oppressive “Communications Management Unit,” called “GITMO North,” typically reserved for Muslims accused of terrorism. The FOIA-obtained prison document ordering his transfer tells the story (redactions in original):

communications firm that represents The Intercept and, on a pro bono basis, Chelsea Manning. Stepanian was imprisoned for three years, and during his incarceration, was even placed in a highly oppressive “Communications Management Unit,” called “GITMO North,” typically reserved for Muslims accused of terrorism. The FOIA-obtained prison document ordering his transfer tells the story (redactions in original):

As Gazolla detailed in a 2014 Salon article, the only conceivable purpose of calling activists like her “terrorists” under the new 2006 law is to stifle legitimate speech:

The AETA was pushed through Congress by the immensely powerful animal agriculture, animal testing and fur industries.

The law is not limited to punishing illegal activity; numerous existing laws already punish vandalism, threats and other illegal forms of protest. Rather, the AETA provides special protection to a specific class of businesses by targeting and stigmatizing a particular group of protesters, hanging the specter of prosecution as “animal enterprise terrorists” over their heads, and ultimately scaring them into silence.

Indeed, the very first case prosecuted under the AETA was in 2009, and it included the same Joseph Buddenberg who was arrested on Friday, along with three other defendants. Industry officials and their lobbyists were furious that no prosecutions had been brought in the two years since its enactment, and were aggressively pressuring the DOJ to find a case.

As Potter reported at the time, the DOJ’s entire case, calling these activists “terrorists,” rested on their pure First Amendment activity such as chalking sidewalks, marching and chanting outside researchers’ homes, and distributing fliers. The following year, the indictments were dismissed by a federal judge on the ground that the DOJ failed even to allege with any specificity what they did that constituted a crime.

But the history since that dismissal makes clear that pure political speech and protest are the real targets of these “terrorism” prosecutions. Gazzola told The Intercept that the AETA succeeded for a time in its goal of weakening and chilling activism: “My prosecution scared people,” she said.

But both Gazzola and Potter echoed what numerous activists and lawyers said: that despite the government’s efforts, animal rights activism is stronger, and the cause more widely accepted, than ever before. Others noted that there’s also a growing right-wing faction to the movement and that it’s starting to cut across ideological lines in interesting ways. Gazzola said that “more and more people are speaking up more strongly now, and there is more support from the broader left and social justice attorneys. All of that has really helped the movement come back.”

For years, animal rights activists worked without much support, even from the left, which generally regarded them as fringe and their cause as marginal (this post does a good job of laying that out). But all of the movement supporters interviewed by The Intercept are optimistic that, for a variety of revealing reasons, they have far more support than ever before.

Potter explained that the left’s aversion to animal rights activism was in part fueled by caricatures created by federal authorities. “They told the left, ‘don’t worry: we’re just going after these hard-core extremists, the ones who think you shouldn’t be able to go to circuses or wear leather shoes.’” That demonization made the left wary of being associated with a movement that had been successfully marginalized.

Beyond that, he said, there’s a strong human incentive to avoid thinking about what is done to animals. Potter explained: “People don’t want to engage with these issues because it challenges the most fundamental assumptions about how we’ve structured our society. It makes people confront the assumption we’ve adopted that we, as humans, have the right to do anything we want to the planet and other species for any reason: clothes, food, entertainment, transportation.

Once you engage with those issues, it can be a shocking confrontation with how you’ve been living your life for awhile. These activists are threatening not only corporate profit, but also the fundamental precept that humans are the center of the universe and have the right to do whatever they want.”

But activists point to a number of positive developments as evidence that animal rights is now becoming far more mainstream. There have been a few successful ballot initiatives to limit the worst abuses in agriculture. A single documentary on animal abuses at Sea World all but destroyed that company. Mainstream, influential figures advocate vegetarianism.

The widespread availability of cheaper technology and access to the internet makes it far easier than ever to produce undercover videos and ensure widespread dissemination. Legal changes are, for the first time, recognizing pets and other animals as having emotional worth, beyond their value as “chattel.” (That’s funny)

In sum, said Potter, we are collectively “expanding our circles of compassion, or at least consideration, in terms of the law and our moral framework.” For the first time in the U.S., it is now being recognized that “animals are worthy of moral consideration.”

But these changes, while positive, are limited, and far from what is needed to shield animal rights activism from vindictive prosecution and additional industry-fueled retribution. Potter used the term “greenwashing” to explain that “the Federal Government loves to tell you that it’s great for you to love the environment, but only if you do it in benign ways that don’t threaten industry.” You can and should recycle, but don’t impede lumber companies from cutting down trees or get in the way of whaling ships. Only “eco-terrorists” do that.

The same dynamic is at play in animal rights activism. We’re told that it’s great to love your pets. It’s fine to get outraged when some revolting, piggish Minnesota dentist — or the hideous spawn of Donald Trump — slaughter majestic animals in Africa for their own twisted pleasure or to compensate for their glaring sense of inadequacy.

“But whatever you do,” said Potter, “don’t turn your gaze to the everyday behavior of America’s largest food companies and farming industries in order to shine a light on their wholesale torture and slaughter of animals.” No matter how much people have learned to love animals and regard them as possessing moral worth, that type of activism — effective and subversive of industry — is still radioactive.

That’s what most needs to change. The countless hours of interviews and reading I’ve now done has made me, for the first time, fully cognizant of the shocking amount of legal abuses being undertaken here. At the very least, the activists who are sacrificing their own liberty in order to protect animals from being tortured and slaughtered — activists who are often poor and thus vulnerable to most abusive prosecutions — deserve a vibrant legal defense.

A legal defense fund has now been created to ensure that both Buddenberg and Kissane have the funds needed to defend themselves. You can, and I hope will, donate to that here. Beyond that, both CCR and the Civil Liberties Defense Center have done stalwart work in fighting the pernicious efforts to equate this activism with “terrorism.”

The propagandistic exploitation of the term “terrorism” has produced a wide range of harms all over the globe. Few harms are as severe as its ongoing use not only to stifle, but outright criminalize, political speech and noble activism.

Andrew Bossone shared this link

Just another example why the word terrorist is loaded: free caged animals and you’re called one; kill black people in a church and you’re not.

WashPost Makes History:

First Paper to Call for Prosecution of Its Own Source (After Accepting Pulitzer)

Journalistic treachery

Three of the four media outlets that received and published large numbers of secret NSA documents provided by Edward Snowden — The Guardian, the New York Times, and The Intercept –– have called for the U.S. government to allow the NSA whistleblower to return to the U.S. with no charges.

That’s the normal course for a news organization, which owes its sources duties of protection, and which — by virtue of accepting the source’s materials and then publishing them — implicitly declares the source’s information to be in the public interest.

But not the Washington Post

In the face of a growing ACLU and Amnesty-led campaign to secure a pardon for Snowden, timed to this weekend’s release of the Oliver Stone biopic “Snowden,” the Post editorial page today not only argued in opposition to a pardon, but explicitly demanded that Snowden — the paper’s own source — stand trial on espionage charges or, as a “second-best solution,” accept “a measure of criminal responsibility for his excesses and the U.S. government offers a measure of leniency.”

In doing so, the Washington Post has achieved an ignominious feat in U.S. media history: the first-ever paper to explicitly editorialize for the criminal prosecution of its own source — one on whose back the paper won and eagerly accepted a Pulitzer Prize for Public Service.
But even more staggering than this act of journalistic treachery against the paper’s own source are the claims made to justify it.

The Post editors concede that one — and only one — of the programs that Snowden enabled to be revealed was justifiably exposed — namely, the domestic metadata program, because it “was a stretch, if not an outright violation, of federal surveillance law, and posed risks to privacy.”

Regarding the “corrective legislation” that followed its exposure, the Post acknowledges: “We owe these necessary reforms to Mr. Snowden.” But that metadata program wasn’t revealed by the Post, but rather by The Guardian.

Other than that initial Snowden revelation, the Post suggests, there was no public interest whatsoever in revealing any of the other programs. In fact, the editors say, real harm was done by their exposure.

That includes PRISM, about which the Post says this:

The complication is that Mr. Snowden did more than that. He also pilfered, and leaked, information about a separate overseas NSA Internet-monitoring program, PRISM, that was both clearly legal and not clearly threatening to privacy. (It was also not permanent; the law authorizing it expires next year.)

In arguing that no public interest was served by exposing PRISM, what did the Post editors forget to mention?

That the newspaper that (simultaneous with The Guardian) made the choice to expose the PRISM program by spreading its operational details and top-secret manual all over its front page is called … the Washington Post.

Then, once they made the choice to do so, they explicitly heralded their exposure of the PRISM program (along with other revelations) when they asked to be awarded the Pulitzer Prize.

If the Post editorial page editors really believe that PRISM was a totally legitimate program and no public interest was served by its exposure, shouldn’t they be attacking their own paper’s news editors for having chosen to make it public, apologizing to the public for harming their security, and agitating for a return of the Pulitzer?

If the Post editorial page editors had any intellectual honesty at all, this is what they would be doing — accepting institutional responsibility for what they apparently regard as a grievous error that endangered the public — rather than pretending that it was all the doing of their source as a means of advocating for his criminal prosecution.

 

Worse than the intellectual dishonesty of this editorial is its towering cowardice.

After denouncing their own paper’s PRISM revelation, the editors proclaim: “Worse, he also leaked details of basically defensible international intelligence operations.” But what they inexcusably omit is that it was not Edward Snowden, but the top editors of the Washington Post who decided to make these programs public.

Again, just look at the stories for which the Post was cited when receiving a Pulitzer Prize:

Almost every one of those stories entailed the exposure of what the Post editors today call “details of international intelligence operations.” I personally think there were very solid justifications for the Post’s decision to reveal those.

As Snowden explained in the first online interview with readers I conducted, in July 2013, he was not only concerned about privacy infringement of Americans but of all human beings, because — in his words — “suspicionless surveillance does not become okay simply because it’s only victimizing 95 percent of the world instead of 100 percent. Our founders did not write that ‘We hold these Truths to be self-evident, that all U.S. Persons are created equal.’”

So I support the decision of the Post back then to publish documents exposing “international intelligence operations.” That’s because I agree with what Post Executive Editor Marty Baron said in 2014, in an article in the Washington Post where they celebrated their own Pulitzer:

Post Executive Editor Martin Baron said Monday that the reporting exposed a national policy “with profound implications for American citizens’ constitutional rights” and the rights of individuals around the world (emphasis added). “Disclosing the massive expansion of the NSA’s surveillance network absolutely was a public service. In constructing a surveillance system of breathtaking scope and intrusiveness, our government also sharply eroded individual privacy. All of this was done in secret, without public debate, and with clear weaknesses in oversight.”

The editorial page is separate from the news organization and does not speak for the latter; I seriously doubt the journalists or editors at the Post who worked on these news stories would agree with any of that editorial.

But still, if the Post editorial page editors now want to denounce these revelations, and even call for the imprisonment of their paper’s own source on this ground, then they should at least have the courage to acknowledge that it was the Washington Post — not Edward Snowden — who made the editorial and institutional choice to expose those programs to the public.

They might want to denounce their own paper and even possibly call for its prosecution for revealing top-secret programs they now are bizarrely claiming should never have been revealed to the public in the first place.

 

But this highlights a chronic cowardice that often arises when establishment figures want to denounce Snowden. As has been amply documented, and as all newspapers involved in this reporting (including the Post) have made clear, Snowden himself played no role in deciding which of these programs would be exposed (beyond providing the materials to newspapers in the first place).

He did not trust himself to make those journalistic determinations, and so he left it to the newspapers to decide which revelations would and would not serve the public interest.

If a program ended up being revealed, one can argue that Snowden bears some responsibility (because he provided the documents in the first place), but the ultimate responsibility lies with the editors of the paper that made the choice to reveal it, presumably because they concluded that the public interest was served by doing so.

Yet over and over, Snowden critics — such as Slate’s Fred Kaplan and today’s Post editorial — omit this crucial fact, and are thus profoundly misleading.

In attacking Snowden this week, for instance, Kaplan again makes the same point he has made over and over: that Snowden’s revelations extended beyond privacy infringements of Americans.

Leave aside the narcissistic and jingoistic view that whistleblowers and media outlets should only care about privacy infringements of American citizens, but not the 95 percent of the rest of the planet called “non-Americans.”

And let’s also set to the side the fact that many of the most celebrated news stories in U.S. media history were devoted to revealing secret foreign operations that had nothing to do with infringing the constitutional rights of U.S. citizens (such as the Pentagon Papers, Abu Ghraib, and the Post’s revelations of CIA black sites).

What’s critical here is that Kaplan’s list of Bad Snowden Revelations (just like the Post’s) invariably involves stories published not by Snowden (or even by The Intercept or The Guardian), but by the New York Times and the Washington Post.

But like the Post editorial page editors, Kaplan is too much of a coward to accuse the nation’s top editors at those two papers of treason, helping terrorists, or endangering national security, so he pretends that it was Snowden, and Snowden alone, who made the choice to reveal these programs to the public.

If Kaplan and the Post editors truly believe that all of these stories ought to have remained secret and have endangered people’s safety, why are they not attacking the editors and newspapers that made the ultimate decision to expose them? Snowden himself never publicly disclosed a single document, so any programs that were revealed were the ultimate doing of news organizations.

Whatever else may be true, one’s loyalty to U.S. government officials has to be slavish in the extreme in order to consider oneself a journalist while simultaneously advocating the criminalization of transparency, leaks, sources, and public debates.

But that’s not new: There has long been in the U.S. a large group that ought to call itself U.S. Journalists Against Transparency: journalists whose loyalty lies far more with the U.S. government than with the ostensible objectives of their own profession, and thus routinely take the side of those keeping official secrets rather than those who reveal them, even to the point of wanting to see sources imprisoned.

But what makes today’s Washington Post editorial so remarkable, such a tour de force, is that the editors are literally calling for the criminal prosecution of one of the most important sources in their own newspaper’s history.

Having basked in the glory of awards and accolades, and benefited from untold millions of clicks, the editorial page editors of the Post now want to see the source who enabled all of that be put in an American cage and branded a felon. That is warped beyond anything that can be described.

Elizabeth Warren Finally Speaks on Israel/Gaza, Sounds Like Netanyahu

America has a very special relationship with Israel. Israel lives in a very dangerous part of the world, and a part of the world where there aren’t many liberal democracies and democracies that are controlled by the rule of law. And we very much need an ally in that part of the world.”

Note: In related news, the British newspaper The Telegraph yesterday published the names of all 504 children who were killed in Gaza over the last 50 days by Israel.

The last time Elizabeth Warren was asked about her views on the Israeli attack on Gaza – on July 17 – she, as Rania Khalek put it, “literally ran away” without answering.

But last week, the liberal Senator appeared for one of her regularly scheduled “office hours” with her Massachusetts constituents, this one in Hyannis, and, as a local paper reported, she had nowhere to run.

One voter who identified himself as a Warren supporter, John Bangert, stood up and objected to her recent vote, in the middle of the horrific attack on Gaza, to send yet another $225 million of American taxpayer money to Israel for its “Iron Dome” system.

Banger told his Senator: “We are disagreeing with Israel using their guns against innocents. It’s true in Ferguson, Missouri, and it’s true in Israel . . .  The vote was wrong, I believe.” To crowd applause, Bangert told Warren that the money “could have been spent on infrastructure or helping immigrants fleeing Central America.”

Steven Salaita shared a link

She’s now being rewarded for keeping quiet throughout Sanders’s campaign. If she doesn’t get the VP nomination, rest assured she’ll be otherwise compensated for her fealty.

Anyway, I have nothing but disdain for politicians who so enthusiastically justify and fund the slaughter of innocent people by repeating age-old exceptionality mantras dripping with contempt and racism:

See More

But Warren steadfastly defended her “pro-Israel” vote, invoking the politician’s platitude: “We’re going to have to agree to disagree on this one.”

According to the account in the Cape Cod Times by reporter C. Ryan Barber, flagged by Zaid Jilani, Warren was also asked about her Israel position by other voters who were at the gathering, and she went on to explain:

“I think the vote was right, and I’ll tell you why I think the vote was right. America has a very special relationship with Israel. Israel lives in a very dangerous part of the world, and a part of the world where there aren’t many liberal democracies and democracies that are controlled by the rule of law. And we very much need an ally in that part of the world.”

Warren said Hamas has attacked Israel “indiscriminately,” but with the Iron Dome defense system, the missiles have “not had the terrorist effect Hamas hoped for.” When pressed by another member of the crowd about civilian casualties from Israel’s attacks, Warren said she believes those casualties are the “last thing Israel wants.”

“But when Hamas puts its rocket launchers next to hospitals, next to schools, they’re using their civilian population to protect their military assets. And I believe Israel has a right, at that point, to defend itself,” Warren said, drawing applause.

Warren even rejected a different voter’s suggestion that the U.S. force Israel to at least cease building illegal settlements by withholding further aid: “Noreen Thompsen, of Eastham, proposed that Israel should be prevented from building any more settlements as a condition of future U.S. funding, but Warren said, ‘I think there’s a question of whether we should go that far.’”

In her defense, Warren has long been clear that this is what she would do.

Her Senate campaign website still contains statements such as “it is a moral imperative to support and defend Israel” and “as a United States Senator, I will work to ensure Israel’s security and success.”

During her time in the national spotlight, Warren has focused overwhelmingly on domestic issues, rarely venturing into foreign policy discussions.

Many of those domestic views, particularly her strident-for-D.C. opposition to banks, have been admirable, elevating her to hero status for many progressives.

But when Warren has spoken on national security, she has invariably spouted warmed-over, banal Democratic hawk tripe of the kind that she just recited about Israel and Gaza.

During her Senate campaign, for instance, she issued wildly militaristic – and in some cases clearly false – statements about Iran and its nuclear program that would have been comfortable on the pages of The Weekly Standard

Even as conservative Democratic Senate candidates from red states such as Nebraska’s Bob Kerrey were vehemently condemning the threat of war against Iran during their campaigns, Warren was claiming (contrary to the U.S. Government’s own assessment) that “Iran is pursuing nuclear weapons”, adding: “I support strong sanctions against Iran and believe that the United States must also continue to take a leadership role in pushing other countries to implement strong sanctions as well.”

Those claims about Iran’s pursuit of nuclear weapons remained her position even after she was told that they squarely contradict the U.S. intelligence community’s clear assessment of Iran’s actions.

In related news, the British newspaper The Telegraph yesterday published the names of all 504 children who were killed in Gaza over the last 50 days by Israel.

In the last week, Israel deliberately destroyed an entire large residential apartment building after giving its residents less than an hour to vacate, leaving more than 40 families homeless, and also destroyed a seven-story office building and two-story shopping center (the video of the apartment building destruction is online and ugly to watch).

Echoing Benjamin Netanyahu (and Hillary Clinton), Elizabeth Warren’s clear position is that Israel bears none of the blame for any of this.

Or, to use her words, “when Hamas puts its rocket launchers next to hospitals, next to schools, they’re using their civilian population to protect their military assets. And I believe Israel has a right, at that point, to defend itself.”

Such carnage is the “last thing Israel wants.” The last thing.

That, ladies and gentlemen, is your inspiring left-wing icon of the Democratic Party.

Note: I definitely read this link a couple years ago, and might have posted it, but a repeat is always a good reminder of the fealty of US politicians.

Andrew Cuomo and Other Democrats Launch Severe Attack on Free Speech to Protect Israel

Glenn Greenwald and Andrew Fishman. June 6, 2016

One of the greatest free speech threats in the West is the growing, multi-nation campaign literally to outlaw advocacy of boycotting Israel.

People get arrested in Paris — the site of the 2015 “free speech” (for Muslim critics) rally — for wearing pro-boycott T-shirts.

Pro-boycott students on U.S. campuses — where the 1980s boycott of apartheid South Africa flourished — are routinely sanctioned for violating anti-discrimination policies.

Canadian officials have threatened to criminally prosecute boycott advocates.

British government bodies have legally barred certain types of boycott advocacy.

Israel itself has outright criminalized advocacy of such boycotts.

Notably, all of this has been undertaken with barely a peep from those who styled themselves free speech crusaders when it came time to defend anti-Muslim cartoons.

But now, New York’s Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo (above, in the 2016 Celebrate Israel Parade) has significantly escalated this free speech attack on U.S. soil, aimed at U.S. citizens.

Andrew Bossone shared this link

“Even more disturbing, Cuomo’s executive order requires that one of his commissioners compile “a list of institutions and companies” that — “either directly or through “Whenever the government creates a blacklist based on political views it raises serious First Amendment concerns and this is no exception.”

One of the greatest free speech threats in the west is now spreading on U.S. soil.
theintercept.com|By Glenn Greenwald

The prince of the New York political dynasty yesterday issued an executive order directing all agencies under his control to terminate any and all business with companies or organizations that support a boycott of Israel.

It ensures that citizens who hold and express a particular view are punished through the denial of benefits that other citizens enjoy: a classic free speech violation (imagine if Cuomo issued an order stating that “anyone who expresses conservative viewpoints shall have all state benefits immediately terminated”).

Even more disturbing, Cuomo’s executive order requires that one of his commissioners compile “a list of institutions and companies” that — “either directly or through a parent or subsidiary” — support a boycott. (McCarthite era of compiling names?)

That government list is then posted publicly, and the burden falls on them to prove to the state that they do not, in fact, support such a boycott.

Donna Lieberman, executive director of the New York Civil Liberties Union, told The Intercept: “Whenever the government creates a blacklist based on political views it raises serious First Amendment concerns and this is no exception.” Reason’s Robby Soave denounced it today as “brazenly autocratic.”

To read the relevant provisions of Cuomo’s order is to confront the mentality of petty censoring tyranny, flavored with McCarthyite public shaming, in its purest form. See for yourself:

Making matters worse still is the imperious nature of Cuomo’s order.

As Salon’s Ben Norton noted, “The New York legislature has unsuccessfully tried to push through anti-boycott legislation for months.” So instead, Cuomo just unilaterally decreed this punishment of boycott advocates.

New York’s Democratic Sen. Chuck Schumer wasted no time, now demanding a federal statute that tracks Cuomo’s order.

Hillary Clinton, last July, wrote a public letter to her (and the Democratic Party’s) billionaire supporter, self-described Israel fanatic Haim Saban, endorsing the core principle of this censorship effort — that boycotting Israel is a form of anti-Semitism — and did so again in her March speech before AIPAC. Numerous Republicans support similar measures.

Beyond the McCarthyism and profound free speech threat, the stench of hypocrisy of Cuomo and Democrats is suffocating. Just over two months ago, Cuomo banned state officials from traveling to North Carolina in order to support the boycott against that American state in protest over its anti-transgender law.

That pro-boycott executive order from Cuomo began by proclaiming that “New York state is a national leader in protecting the civil rights and liberties of all of its citizens” and thus barred “publicly funded travel” to North Carolina.

But in justifying this punishment for Israel critics, Cuomo’s counsel told the New York Times: “It’s one thing to say I want to engage in political speech. It’s another thing to say I’m going to sanction you or penalize you for engaging in commercial activity.”

But that — “I’m going to sanction you or penalize you for engaging in commercial activity” — is exactly what Cuomo did just two months ago by boycotting North Carolina.

Think about how warped that is: To the governor of New York, it’s not only permissible but noble to boycott an American state, but it’s immoral and worthy of punishment to boycott Israel, a foreign country guilty of a decadeslong brutal and illegal occupation.

Questions submitted by The Intercept to Cuomo were not answered as of publication.

More ironic still is that Cuomo, in imposing a boycott of North Carolina, said he was doing so because in “a free society the equal rights of all citizens … must be protected and cherished” — exactly the principle that the boycott of Israel is seeking to fulfill by ending oppression and discrimination against Palestinians.

But even if you disagree with the Israel boycott itself, no rational person should want Andrew Cuomo and other elected officials to have the power to dictate which political views are acceptable and which ones result in denial of state benefits.

The free speech hypocrisy on the part of all sorts of people here is obvious.

In 2012, conservatives were furious when Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced that he would block the restaurant chain Chick-fil-A from expanding in the city as punishment for its owner’s anti-gay activism, depicting this move as a grave threat to free speech (a position we shared).

Throughout 2015, pundits such as New York’s Jonathan Chait wrapped themselves in the free speech flag when it came time to defend racist and anti-gay speech on campus, insisting that all forms of speech, even “hate speech,” should be protected (positions we also share).

Yet now, a systematic, international campaign — fully bipartisan in the U.S. — is being implemented to abuse state resources and the force of law for a full-frontal assault on free speech and free assembly rights, and virtually none of them is objecting because it’s all in service of protecting Israel from criticism.

It’s bizarre enough that someone gets elected as governor of New York and then believes it’s part of his job to shield Israel from criticism.

That he does so by assaulting the free speech rights of citizens of his own country — just weeks after imposing a boycott on another American state — tells you all you need to know about the role Israel continues to play in American discourse and the willingness of people to stomp on free speech principles the moment doing so benefits their political goals.

Vice President Michel Temer (of Lebanese origin) to be the next Brazil president?

The real plan behind Rousseff’s impeachment is to put an end to the ongoing investigation, thus protecting corruption, not punishing it.”

Michel Temer has officially become acting President in Brazil after the Senate suspended Brazil’s President Dilma Rousseff.

It’s not easy for outsiders to sort through all the competing claims about Brazil’s political crisis and the ongoing effort to oust its president, Dilma Rousseff, who won re-election a mere 18 months ago with 54 million votes.

But the most important means for understanding the truly anti-democratic nature of what’s taking place is to look at the person whom Brazilian oligarchs and their media organs are trying to install as president: the corruption-tainted, deeply unpopular, oligarch-serving Vice President Michel Temer (above).

Doing so shines a bright light on what’s really going on, and why the world should be deeply disturbed.

The New York Times’s Brazil bureau chief, Simon Romero, interviewed Temer this week, and this is how his excellent article begins:

RIO DE JANEIRO — One recent poll found that only 2 percent of Brazilians would vote for him. He is under scrutiny over testimony linking him to a colossal graft scandal. And a high court justice ruled that Congress should consider impeachment proceedings against him.

Michel Temer, Brazil’s vice president, is preparing to take the helm of Brazil next month if the Senate decides to put President Dilma Rousseff on trial.

How can anyone rational believe that anti-corruption anger is driving the elite effort to remove Dilma when they are now installing someone as president who is accused of corruption far more serious than she is? It’s an obvious farce.

But there’s something even worse

Asad Ghsoub shared and commented on this link by Glenn Greenwald, April 22, 2016
theintercept.com|By Glenn Greenwald

The person who is third in line to the presidency, right behind Temer, has been exposed as shamelessly corrupt: the evangelical zealot and House speaker Eduardo Cunha (now set aside from his responsibility by the Parliament).

He’s the one who spearheaded the impeachment proceedings even though he got caught last year squirreling away millions of dollars in bribes in Swiss bank accounts, after having lied to Congress when falsely denying that he had any accounts in foreign banks. When Romero asked Temer about his posture toward Cunha once he takes power, this is how Temer responded:

Mr. Temer defended himself and top allies who are under a cloud of accusations in the scheme. He expressed support for Eduardo Cunha, the scandal-plagued speaker of the lower house who is leading the impeachment effort in Congress, saying he would not ask Mr. Cunha to resign. Mr. Cunha will be the next in line for the presidency if Mr. Temer takes over.

By itself, this demonstrates the massive scam taking place here. As my partner, David Miranda, wrote this morning in his Guardian op-ed: “It has now become clear that corruption is not the cause of the effort to oust Brazil’s twice-elected president; rather, corruption is merely the pretext.”

In response, Brazil’s media elites will claim (as Temer did) that once Dilma is impeached, then the other corrupt politicians will most certainly be held accountable, but they know this is false, and Temer’s shocking support for Cunha makes that clear.

Indeed, press reports show that Temer is planning to install as attorney general — the key government contact for the corruption investigation — a politician specifically urged for that position by Cunha.

As Miranda’s op-ed explains, “The real plan behind Rousseff’s impeachment is to put an end to the ongoing investigation, thus protecting corruption, not punishing it.”

But there’s one more vital motive driving all of this.

Look at who is going to take over Brazil’s economy and finances once Dilma’s election victory is nullified. Two weeks ago, Reuters reported that Temer’s leading choice to run the central bank is the chair of Goldman Sachs in Brazil, Paulo Leme.

Today, Reuters reported that “Murilo Portugal, the head of Brazil’s most powerful banking industry lobby” — and a long-time IMF official — “has emerged as a strong candidate to become finance minister if Temer takes power.” Temer also vowed that he would embrace austerity for Brazil’s already-suffering population: He “intends to downsize the government” and “slash spending.”

In an earning calls last Friday with JP Morgan, the celebratory CEO of Banco Latinoamericano de Comercio Exterior SA, Rubens Amaral, explicitly described Dilma’s impeachment as “one of the first steps to normalization in Brazil,” and said that if Temer’s new government implements the “structural reforms” that the financial community desires, then “definitely there will be opportunities.”

News of Temer’s preferred appointees strongly suggests Mr. Amaral — and his fellow plutocrats — will be pleased.

Meanwhile, the dominant Brazilian media organs of Globo, Abril (Veja), Estadão — which Miranda’s op-ed discusses at length — are virtually unified in support of impeachment, as in No Dissent Allowed, and have been inciting the street protests from the start.

Why is that revealing? Reporters Without Borders just yesterday released its 2016 Press Freedom Rankings, and ranked Brazil 103 in the world because of violence against journalists but also because of this key fact: “Media ownership continues to be very concentrated, especially in the hands of big industrial families that are often close to the political class.” Is it not crystal clear what’s going on here?

So to summarize: Brazilian financial and media elites are pretending that corruption is the reason for removing the twice-elected president of the country as they conspire to install and empower the country’s most corrupted political figures.

Brazilian oligarchs will have succeeded in removing from power a moderately left-wing government that won four straight elections in the name of representing the country’s poor, and are literally handing control over the Brazilian economy (the world’s seventh largest) to Goldman Sachs and bank industry lobbyists.

This fraud being perpetrated here is as blatant as it is devastating. But it’s the same pattern that has been repeatedly seen around the world, particularly in Latin America, when a tiny elite wages a self-protective, self-serving war on the fundamentals of democracy.

Brazil, the world’s fifth most populous country, has been an inspiring example of how a young democracy can mature and thrive. But now, those democratic institutions and principles are being fully assaulted by the very same financial and media factions that suppressed democracy and imposed tyranny in that country for decades.

Najat Rizk shared this link
After Two Years, We Finally Have a Lebanese President … in Brazil
Posted By : Najib Michel Temer has officially become acting President in Brazil after the…
blogbaladi.com

adonis49

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