Monthly Archives: June 2013

In Syria and Africa, Obama Ignores US Laws and Human Rights Violations

Ecuador President: Snowden Can’t Leave Moscow

June 30, 2013 “Information Clearing House – “AP“— PORTOVIEJO, Ecuador (AP) — Edward Snowden is “under the care of the Russian authorities” and can’t leave Moscow’s international airport without their consent, Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa told The Associated Press Sunday in an interview telegraphing the slim and diminishing possibility that the National Security Agency leaker will end up in Ecuador.
Correa portrayed Russia as entirely the master of Snowden’s fate and said Ecuador is still awaiting an asylum request from Snowden before deciding its next moves.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has distanced himself from the case since Snowden arrived in Moscow last week, insisting the 30-year-old former NSA contractor remains in the transit zone of the capital’s Sheremetyevo Airport and that as long as he has not legally entered Russia, he is out of the Kremlin’s control.
At the same time, the Kremlin said Sunday that it will take public opinion and the views of human rights activists into account when considering Snowden’s case, a move that could lay the groundwork for him to seek asylum in Russia.
“This is the decision of Russian authorities,” Correa told the AP during a visit to this Pacific coast city. “He doesn’t have a passport. I don’t know the Russian laws, I don’t know if he can leave the airport, but I understand that he can’t. At this moment he’s under the care of the Russian authorities. If he arrives at an Ecuadorean Embassy we’ll analyze his request for asylum.”
Last week, several members of Russia’s Presidential Council for Human Rights spoke out in support of Snowden, saying he deserved to receive political asylum in the country of his choice and should not be handed over to the United States. And a handful of protesters picketed outside the Moscow airport in what appeared to be an orchestrated demonstration on Friday, holding signs reading “Edward, Russia is your second motherland” and “Russia is behind Snowden.”
Putin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told Ekho Moskvy radio that while Snowden is not Russia’s concern, the Kremlin is aware of the viewpoints of Russian experts and representatives of human rights organizations.
“Public opinion on the subject is very rich,” Peskov said in the radio interview. “We are aware of this and are taking it into account.”
Correa said he had no idea Snowden’s intended destination was Ecuador when he fled Hong Kong for Russia last week. He said the Ecuadorean consul in London committed “a serious error” by not consulting officials in Ecuador’s capital when the consul issued a letter of safe passage for Snowden. He said the consul would be punished, although he didn’t specify how.
Analysts familiar with the workings of the Ecuadorean government said Correa’s claims that the decision was entirely Russia’s appeared to be at least partly disingenuous. They said they believed Correa’s administration at first intended to host Snowden, then started back-tracking this week when the possible consequences became clearer.
“I think the government started to realize the dimensions of what it was getting itself into, how it was managing things and the consequences that this could bring,” said Santiago Basabe, an analyst and professor of political sciences at the Latin American School of Social Sciences in the Ecuadorean capital, Quito. “So it started pulling back, and they’ll never tell us why, but I think the alarm bells started to go off from people very close to the government, maybe Ecuador’s ambassador in Washington warned them about the consequences of asylum for Snowden.”
Correa said Snowden must assume responsibility if he broke U.S. laws, but added the broader legitimacy of Snowden’s action must be taken into consideration. He said Ecuador would still consider an asylum request but only if Snowden is able to make it to Ecuador or an Ecuadorean Embassy to apply.
The U.S. is seeking the former NSA contractor’s extradition for leaking secret documents that, among other things, detail U.S. surveillance of international online activity. On Sunday, German magazine Der Spiegel reported that classified documents taken by Snowden also revealed U.S. spies had allegedly bugged European Union offices.
Correa never entirely closed the door to Snowden, whom he said had drawn vital attention to the U.S. eavesdropping program and potential violations of human rights. But Correa appeared to be sending the message that it is unlikely Snowden will ever end up in Ecuador. He repeatedly emphasized the importance of the U.S. legal process and praised Vice President Joe Biden for what he described as a courteous and appreciated half-hour call about the Snowden case on Friday.
He similarly declined to reject an important set of U.S. trade benefits for Ecuadorean exports, again a contrast with his government’s unilateral renunciation of a separate set of tariff benefits earlier in the week.
“If he really could have broken North American laws, I am very respectful of other countries and their laws and I believe that someone who breaks the law must assume his responsibilities,” Correa said. “But we also believe in human rights and due process.”
He said Biden had asked him to send Snowden back to the United States immediately because he faces criminal charges, is a fugitive from justice and has had his passport revoked.
“I told him that we would analyze his opinion, which is very important to us,” Correa said, adding that he had demanded the return of several Ecuadoreans who are in the United States but face criminal charges at home.
“I greatly appreciated the call,” he said, contrasting it with threats made by a small group of U.S. senators to revoke Ecuadorean trade privileges. “When I received the call from Vice President Biden, which was with great cordiality and a different vision, we really welcomed it a lot.”
Ecuadorean officials believe Russian authorities stymied the country’s efforts to approve a political asylum application from the former NSA systems analyst, according to government officials with direct knowledge of the case.
Those officials said Ecuador had been making detailed plans to receive and host Snowden. One of the officials said Russia’s refusal to let Snowden leave or be picked up by Ecuadorean officials had thwarted the plans. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they weren’t authorized to discuss the case by name.
One of the officials said Snowden had intended to travel from Moscow to the Ecuadorean capital of Quito. The official said Ecuador had also asked Russia to let Snowden take a commercial flight to meet Foreign Minister Ricardo Patino in Vietnam or Singapore, where Patino was on an official trip.
The Russians rejected all of Ecuador’s requests to let Snowden leave Moscow, or to let an Ecuadorean government plane pick him up there, the official said.
Asked Sunday about those accounts, Correa responded, without elaborating, “We don’t have long-range aircraft. It’s a joke.”
Snowden’s path to Ecuador would have gone through Cuba, which said little about the case all week, including whether it would have allowed him to use its territory to transit.
Cuban leader Fidel Castro praised Correa’s rejection of U.S. trade pressure, expressing his “sympathies” for the Ecuadorean leader in a Sunday editorial in the state press.
_______ Gonzalo Solano contributed from Quito, Ecuador. Lynn Berry in Moscow contributed to this report.

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Foreign Media Portrayals of the Conflict in Syria are Dangerously Inaccurate

World View: It is naive not to accept that both sides are capable of manipulating the facts to serve their own interests
By Patrick Cockburn
June 30, 2013 “Information Clearing House – “The Independent“— Every time I come to Syria I am struck by how different the situation is on the ground from the way it is pictured in the outside world. The foreign media reporting of the Syrian conflict is surely as inaccurate and misleading as anything we have seen since the start of the First World War. I can’t think of any other war or crisis I have covered in which propagandistic, biased or second-hand sources have been so readily accepted by journalists as providers of objective facts.
A result of these distortions is that politicians and casual newspaper or television viewers alike have never had a clear idea over the last two years of what is happening inside Syria. Worse, long-term plans are based on these misconceptions. A report on Syria published last week by the Brussels-based International Crisis Group says that “once confident of swift victory, the opposition’s foreign allies shifted to a paradigm dangerously divorced from reality”.
Slogans replace policies: the rebels are pictured as white hats and the government supporters as black hats; given more weapons, the opposition can supposedly win a decisive victory; put under enough military pressure, President Bashar al-Assad will agree to negotiations for which a pre-condition is capitulation by his side in the conflict. One of the many drawbacks of the demonising rhetoric indulged in by the incoming US National Security Adviser Susan Rice, and William Hague, is that it rules out serious negotiations and compromise with the powers-that-be in Damascus. And since Assad controls most of Syria, Rice and Hague have devised a recipe for endless war while pretending humanitarian concern for the Syrian people.
It is difficult to prove the truth or falsehood of any generalisation about Syria. But, going by my experience this month travelling in central Syria between Damascus, Homs and the Mediterranean coast, it is possible to show how far media reports differ markedly what is really happening. Only by understanding and dealing with the actual balance of forces on the ground can any progress be made towards a cessation of violence.
On Tuesday I travelled to Tal Kalakh, a town of 55,000 people just north of the border with Lebanon, which was once an opposition bastion. Three days previously, government troops had taken over the town and 39 Free Syrian Army (FSA) leaders had laid down their weapons. Talking to Syrian army commanders, an FSA defector and local people, it was evident there was no straight switch from war to peace. It was rather that there had been a series of truces and ceasefires arranged by leading citizens of Tal Kalakh over the previous year.
But at the very time I was in the town, Al Jazeera Arabic was reporting fighting there between the Syrian army and the opposition. Smoke was supposedly rising from Tal Kalakh as the rebels fought to defend their stronghold. Fortunately, this appears to have been fantasy and, during the several hours I was in the town, there was no shooting, no sign that fighting had taken place and no smoke.
Of course, all sides in a war pretend that no position is lost without a heroic defence against overwhelming numbers of the enemy. But obscured in the media’s accounts of what happened in Tal Kalakh was an important point: the opposition in Syria is fluid in its allegiances. The US, Britain and the so-called 11-member “Friends of Syria”, who met in Doha last weekend, are to arm non-Islamic fundamentalist rebels, but there is no great chasm between them and those not linked to al-Qa’ida. One fighter with the al-Qa’ida-affiliated al-Nusra Front was reported to have defected to a more moderate group because he could not do without cigarettes. The fundamentalists pay more and, given the total impoverishment of so many Syrian families, the rebels will always be able to win more recruits. “Money counts for more than ideology,” a diplomat in Damascus told me.
While I was in Homs I had an example of why the rebel version of events is so frequently accepted by the foreign media in preference to that of the Syrian government. It may be biased towards the rebels, but often there is no government version of events, leaving a vacuum to be filled by the rebels. For instance, I had asked to go to a military hospital in the al-Waar district of Homs and was granted permission, but when I got there I was refused entrance. Now, soldiers wounded fighting the rebels are likely to be eloquent and convincing advocates for the government side (I had visited a military hospital in Damascus and spoken to injured soldiers there). But the government’s obsessive secrecy means that the opposition will always run rings around it when it comes to making a convincing case.
Back in the Christian quarter of the Old City of Damascus, where I am staying, there was an explosion near my hotel on Thursday. I went to the scene and what occurred next shows that there can be no replacement for unbiased eyewitness reporting. State television was claiming that it was a suicide bomb, possibly directed at the Greek Orthodox Church or a Shia hospital that is even closer. Four people had been killed.
I could see a small indentation in the pavement which looked to me very much like the impact of a mortar bomb. There was little blood in the immediate vicinity, though there was about 10 yards away. While I was looking around, a second mortar bomb came down on top of a house, killing a woman.
The pro-opposition Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, so often used as a source by foreign journalists, later said that its own investigations showed the explosion to have been from a bomb left in the street. In fact, for once, it was possible to know definitively what had happened, because the Shia hospital has CCTV that showed the mortar bomb in the air just before it landed – outlined for a split-second against the white shirt of a passer-by who was killed by the blast. What had probably happened was part of the usual random shelling by mortars from rebels in the nearby district of Jobar.
In the middle of a ferocious civil war it is self-serving credulity on the part of journalists to assume that either side in the conflict, government or rebel, is not going to concoct or manipulate facts to serve its own interests. Yet much foreign media coverage is based on just such an assumption.
The plan of the CIA and the Friends of Syria to somehow seek an end to the war by increasing the flow of weapons is equally absurd. War will only produce more war. John Milton’s sonnet, written during the English civil war in 1648 in praise of the Parliamentary General Sir Thomas Fairfax, who had just stormed Colchester, shows a much deeper understanding of what civil wars are really like than anything said by David Cameron or William Hague. He wrote:
For what can war but endless war still breed?
Till truth and right from violence be freed,
And public faith clear’d from the shameful brand
Of public fraud. In vain doth valour bleed
While avarice and rapine share the land.

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New NSA Leaks Show How US is Bugging its European Allies

Exclusive: Edward Snowden papers reveal 38 targets including EU, France and Italy
By Ewen MacAskill in Rio de Janeiro and Julian Borger 
June 30, 2013 “Information Clearing House – “The Guardian“– US intelligence services are spying on the European Union mission in New York and its embassy in Washington, according to the latest ‘top secret’ US National Security Agency documents leaked by whistleblower Edward Snowden.
One document lists 38 embassies and missions, describing them as “targets”. It details an extraordinary range of spying methods used against each target, from bugs implanted in electronic communications gear to taps into cables to the collection of transmissions with specialised antennae.
Along with traditional ideological adversaries and sensitive Middle Eastern countries, the list of “targets” includes the EU missions and the French, Italian and Greek embassies, as well as a number of other American allies, including Japan, Mexico, South Korea, India and Turkey. The list in the September 2010 document does not mention the UK, Germany or other western European states.
One of the bugging methods mentioned is codenamed ‘Dropmire’, which according to a 2007 document is “implanted on the Cryptofax at the EU embassy, DC” – an apparent reference to a bug placed in a commercially available encrypted fax machine used at the mission. The NSA documents notes the machine is used to send cables back to foreign affairs ministries in European capitals.
The documents suggest that the aim of the bugging exercise against the EU embassy in central Washington is to gather inside knowledge of policy disagreements on global issues and other rifts between member states.
The new revelations come at a time when there is already considerable anger across the EU over earlier evidence provided by Snowden of NSA eavesdropping on America’s European allies.
Germany’s justice minister, Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger, demanded an explanation from Washington, saying that if confirmed, US behaviour “was reminiscent of the actions of enemies during the cold war”.
The German magazine Der Spiegel reported at the weekend that some of the bugging operations in Brussels targeting the EU’s Justus Lipsius building – a venue for summit and ministerial meetings in the Belgian capital – were directed from within Nato headquarters nearby.
The US intelligence service codename for the bugging operation targeting the EU mission at the United Nations is ‘Perdido’. Among the documents leaked by Snowden is a floor plan of the mission in mid-town Manhattan. The methods used against the mission include the collection of data transmitted by implants, or bugs, placed inside electronic devices, and another covert operation that appears to provide a copy of everything on a targeted computer’s hard drive.
The eavesdropping on the EU delegation to the US, on K Street in Washington, involved three different operationstargeted on the embassy’s 90 staff. Two were electronic implants and one involved the use of antennae to collect transmissions.
Although the latest documents are part of an NSA haul leaked by Snowden, it is not clear in each case whether the surveillance was being exclusively done by the NSA – which is most probable as the embassies and missions are technically overseas – or by the FBI or the CIA, or a combination of them. The 2010 document describes the operation as “close access domestic collection”.
The operation against the French mission to the UN had the covername ‘Blackfoot’ and the one against its embassy in Washington was ‘Wabash’. The Italian embassy in Washington was known to the NSA as both ‘Bruneau’ and ‘Hemlock’.
The eavesdropping of the Greek UN mission was known as ‘Powell” and the operation against its embassy was referred to as ‘Klondyke’.
Edward Snowden, the 30 year-old former NSA contractor and computer analyst, whose leaks have ignited a global row over the extent of US and UK electronic surveillance, fled from his secret bolthole in Hong Kong a week ago. His plan seems to have been to travel to Ecuador via Moscow, but he is currently in limbo at Moscow airport after his US passport was cancelled, and without any official travel documents issued from any other country.

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Julian Assange Praises ‘Hero’ Snowden, Rebukes U.S. ‘Disgraceful’ Treatment On ABC This Week

Edward Snowden May be the Last of the Human Spies

Bradley Manning Should Win the Nobel Peace Prize

As a peace prize winner myself, I am nominating Manning for this honor for his work to help end the Iraq War and other conflicts
By Mairead Corrigan-Maguire 
June 30, 2013 “Information Clearing House – “The Guardian“– Peace is more than simply the absence of war; it is the active creation of something better. Alfred Nobel recognized this when he created alongside those for chemistry, literature, medicine and physics, an annual prize for outstanding contributions in peace. Nobel’s foresight is a reminder to us all that peace must be created, maintained, and advanced, and it is indeed possible for one individual to have an extraordinary impact. For this year’s prize, I have chosen to nominate US Army Pfc Bradley Manning, for I can think of no one more deserving. His incredible disclosure of secret documents to Wikileaks helped end the Iraq War, and may have helped prevent further conflicts elsewhere.
I recently visited Syria, where I met a few of the millions of refugees and internally displaced people whose lives have been torn apart by the ongoing conflict in that country. I learned from those I spoke to, both within the government and in opposition groups, that while there is a legitimate and long-overdue movement for peace and non-violent reform in Syria, the worst acts of violence are being perpetrated by outside groups. Extremist groups from around the world have converged upon Syria, bent on turning this conflict into one of ideological hatred.
In recent years this would have spelled an undeniable formula for United States intervention. However, the world has changed in the years since Manning’s whistleblowing – the Middle East especially. In Bahrain, Tunisia, Egypt, and now Turkey, advocates of democracy have joined together to fight against their own governments’ control of information, and used the free-flowing data of social media to help build enormously successful non-violent movements. Some activists of what has come to be known as the Arab Spring have even directly credited Bradley Manning, and the information he disclosed, as an inspiration for their struggles.
In a Middle East newly dedicated to democratic flow of information, those who would commit human rights violations can more easily be held accountable. If not for whistleblower Bradley Manning, the world still might not know of how US forces committed covert crimes in the name of spreading democracy in Iraq, killing innocent civilians in incidents such as the one depicted in the “Collateral Murder” video, and supporting Iraqi prisoner torture. Now, those who would support foreign intervention in the Middle East know that every action would be scrutinized under international human rights law. Clearly, this is for the best. International peacekeepers, as well as experts and civilians inside Syria, are nearly unanimous in their view that United States involvement would only worsen this conflict.
Around the world, Manning is hailed as a peacemaker and a hero. His nomination for the Nobel Peace Prize is a reflection of this. Yet at his home in America, Manning stands trial for charges of espionage and “aiding the enemy”. This should not be considered a refutation of his candidacy – rather, he is in good company. Burmese politician Aung San Suu Kyi and Chinese writer Liu Xiaobo were each awarded the prize in recent years while imprisoned by their home countries.
Last week at Manning’s trial, the public learned that at the time Manning released his information, WikiLeaks stated they wanted to publish “the concealed documents or recordings most sought after by a country’s journalists, activists, historians, lawyers, police or human rights investigators”. Manning’s disclosures to Wikileaks only “aided the enemy,” as his prosecutors charge, if the enemy is international cooperation and peace itself.
Manning is the only one on trial, yet what of those who committed the atrocities he revealed? The United States, the most militarized country on earth, should stand for something better than war. Its government must be open to “debates, discussions and reforms” concerning its foreign policy, to use Manning’s own words. By heeding Pfc Bradley Manning’s message on the importance of transparency, America’s government can once again rebuild its image in the eyes of the world, and spread democracy not through foreign invasions, but through setting a strong example.
I hope American leaders will embrace the U.S. constitution, and base their national and foreign policies on ethical values, human rights and international law.

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The Crime of Indifference

The Obamas Do Africa

“The U.S. is not in the business of fair and mutually beneficial trade – it’s about the business of imperialism.”
By Glen Ford
BAR executive editor
June 30, 2013 “Information Clearing House – The President and his family are spending a week in sub-Saharan Africa, with Senegal, Tanzania and South Africa on the itinerary. The focus of the trip, if you believe the White House, is trade, an arena in which the United States has been eclipsed by China since 2009. China, by some measurements, now does nearly twice as much business with Africa as the U.S., and the gap is growing. It is now commonly accepted that the Chinese offer far better terms of trade and investment than the Americans, that they create more jobs for Africans, and their investments leave behind infrastructure that can enrich their African trading partners in the long haul.
No one expects Obama to offer anything on this trip that will reverse America’s declining share of the African market. That’s because the U.S. is not in the business of fair and mutually beneficial trade – it’s about the business of imperialism, which is another matter, entirely. The Americans ensure their access to African natural resources through the barrel of a gun.
So, while the Chinese and Indians and Brazilians and other economic powerhouses play by the rules of give and take, the U.S. tightens its military grip on the continent through its ever-expanding military command, AFRICOM.
To justify its rapid militarization of Africa, Washington plunges whole regions of the continent into chaos. U.S. policies, under presidents Clinton, Bush and Obama, have utterly destroyed Somalia, made the Horn of Africa a theater of war, drawn the northern tier of the continent into America’s cauldron of terror, and killed six million people in the eastern Congo.
The face of America in Africa is war, not trade; extraction of minerals by military intimidation, not conventional commerce. Washington’s priority is to embed AFRICOM ever deeper into the militaries of African states – rather than configuring more favorable trade relationships on the continent. But you won’t learn that from the U.S. corporate media, which chooses to focus on the $100 million cost of Obama’s African trip, or to look for human interest angles on Obama’s decision not to touch down in his father’s homeland, Kenya. However, even that angle is too sinister for deeper exploration by the corporate press, because Kenya’s absence from the itinerary is meant as a threat.
The United States is angry because Washington wanted the Kenyan people to elect a different president, one more acceptable to U.S. policymakers. The Americans expected the whole of Kenyan civil society to bend to Washington’s will, and reject the candidacy of Uhuru Kenyatta, simply to please the superpower. When that didn’t happen, it was decided that Kenya must be shunned, despite its past services to U.S. imperialism.
Skipping Kenya was a warning that more serious repercussions may lurk in the future – which is a potent threat, because the U.S. controls most of the guns of Africa. As the U.S.-backed warlord in Somalia said in Jeremy Scahill’s excellent film The Dirty War, “The Americans are masters of war.” War, and the threat of war, is the reality behind every U.S. presidential visit, to Africa and everywhere else. Whether the terms of trade are good or bad, the declining U.S. empire will get access to the resources it needs, or thousands – millions! – will die.
For Black Agenda Radio, I’m Glen Ford. On the web, go to – BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at
© 2013 Black Agenda Report

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Attacks from America: NSA Spied on European Union Offices

Ecuador’s Correa says Biden asked him to deny Edward Snowden asylum

Senior White House official confirms vice-president talked to Ecuadorean president over the NSA whistleblower’s status
By Guardian Staff and agencies
June 30, 2013 “Information Clearing House – US vice-president Joe Biden has asked Ecuador to turn down an asylum request from National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden, the country’s president said Saturday.
Rafael Correa said he had a “friendly and very cordial” conversation with Biden, and told the vice-president that Ecuador hadn’t sought to be put in the situation of deciding whether to harbor an American fugitive. Correa said Ecuador can’t consider the asylum request until Snowden is on Ecuadorean soil.
“The moment that he arrives, if he arrives, the first thing is we’ll ask the opinion of the United States, as we did in the Assange case with England,” Correa said. “But the decision is ours to make.”
Julian Assange, founder of the anti-secrecy group WikiLeaks has been given asylum in Ecuador’s embassy in London.
White House spokeswoman Bernadette Meehan confirmed that the two leaders spoke by phone Friday and discussed Snowden, but wouldn’t disclose any details about the conversation. It’s the highest-level conversation between the US. and Ecuador that has been publicly disclosed since Snowden began seeking asylum from Ecuador.
Correa, in a weekly television address, praised Biden for being more courteous than US senators who have threatened economic penalties if Ecuador doesn’t cooperate.
At the same time, Correa rebuked the Obama administration for hypocrisy, invoking the case of two bankers, brothers Roberto and William Isaias, whom Ecuador is seeking to extradite from the US.
“Let’s be consistent,” Correa said. “Have rules for everyone, because that is a clear double-standard here.”
The US believes Snowden is holed up in a Moscow airport’s transit zone. He may be waiting to see whether Ecuador or another country may grant him asylum. Snowden is charged with violating American espionage laws.
Correspondence obtained by Univision and shared with the Wall Street Journal shows that divisions over Assange have agitated Ecuador’s government.
After meeting with other Ecuadorean diplomats privately, Correa declared invalid a temporary travel document that could have helped extract Snowden from his reported location in Moscow.
In a TV interview on Friday, Snowden’s father expressed concerns about the involvement of WikiLeaks. “I don’t want to put him in peril, but I am concerned about those who surround him,” Lonnie Snowden told NBC’s Today show.
“I think WikiLeaks, if you’ve looked at past history … their focus isn’t necessarily the constitution of the United States. It’s simply to release as much information as possible.”
Lonnie Snowden said he told US attorney general Eric Holder through his lawyer that his son might return home if he would not be detained before trial, could choose the location for his trial and would not be subjected to a gag order. It was not clear that Lonnie Snowden was communicating his son’s views, as he also said they had not spoken since April.

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‘UK Aid for Extremists Stokes Woolwich-style Terrorism’: George Galloway

The Crime of Indifference

By Lawrence Davidson
June 30, 2013 “Information Clearing House – Elie Wiesel is a worldwide personality. Through his powerful descriptive writing about the Nazi concentration camps, he has come to personify the suffering of the Holocaust. Among his many insights is the famous observation, “The opposite of love is not hate, it is indifference.” Wiesel has repeatedly put forth this idea. In a 2011 commencement address at Washington University in St. Louis he told his listeners, “The greatest commandment — to me — in the Bible . . . is ‘Thou shalt not stand idly by.’ Which means when you witness an injustice, don’t stand idly by.” After a Boston lecture in 2012 Wiesel told Boston University students “I think that is the greatest danger, ignorance, which leads to indifference and therefore to detachment. . . .If somebody suffers and I don’t do anything to diminish his or her suffering, something is wrong with me.” 
Unfortunately, Wiesel has identified himself with Zionism and by doing so has inevitably been caught up in contradictions and dilemmas that challenge his reputation as a moral icon. For instance, in May 2010 he made a public appeal to President Obama not to put any pressure on the Israeli government over the issue of Jerusalem even as the Israelis evicted Palestinian residents. In doing so he revealed his own indifference to the real nature of Israeli objectives and behavior. As a result a hundred Israeli intellectuals and activists wrote him a public reply expressing “frustration” and “outrage” at his attitude and actions.
Nonetheless, his comments about indifference and insensitivity are important and insightful and can be used as a standard to judge some of his fellow Zionists, many of whom have been “standing idly by” for decades and thus are examples of Wiesel’s dictum, “if somebody suffers and I don’t do anything to diminish his or her suffering, something is wrong with me.” 
Part II – Israeli Indifference 
Recently there have been several articles calling attention to the fact that, as Uri Avnery puts it, “We [Israelis] have become so accustomed to this situation [an occupation “going on only a few minutes drive from our homes”] that we see it as normal.” Ethan Bronner, the New York Times’ former Jerusalem bureau chief, confirmed this pervasive indifference to the suffering that Israeli policies and discriminatory practices cause. “Few [Israelis] even talk about the Palestinians . . . .Instead of focusing on what has long been seen as their central challenge — how to share this land with another nation — Israelis are largely ignoring it.” 
More specifically they are ignoring such revelations as the fact that since September 2000, when the second Intifada broke out, Israeli forces have killed over 1500 Palestinian children. According to the Middle East Monitor, that means “one child killed by Israel every 3 days for almost 13 years.” In the same time the number of children injured has reached 6000 and the number under the age of 18 arrested is about 9000. The suffering of Palestinians, documented by the United Nations as well as private NGOs such as Human Rights Watch, is ongoing yet apparently unnoticed by the average Israeli. 
Nor is any improvement in the situation likely. While Israelis display indifference to Palestinian suffering, the Israeli government has indicated its intention to keep the regime of suffering going indefinitely. According to Israeli trade minister Naftali Bennett, “a rising star in the Israeli cabinet,” the idea of a Palestinian state is “dead” and Israel should annex large portions of the West Bank. Danny Danon, the deputy defense minister, agrees. “We are a nationalist government, not a government that will establish a Palestinian government in the 1967 lines.” Meanwhile, a significant number of Israelis, whether they think about it or not, are profiting from the expanding, and illegal, occupation of Palestinian land. 
Part III – The Role of Ignorance 
Thus we can ask, using Wiesel’s words, what is wrong with the Israelis that they care little or nothing for the Palestinians’ 65 years of suffering? Wiesel himself has part of the answer when he observes “ignorance . . . leads to indifference and therefore to detachment.” 
Ignorance? Is the average Israeli really ignorant in this matter? At first this assertion appears ridiculous. After all, as Avnery notes, the suffering of the Palestinians is never more than “minutes” from most Israeli backyards, and it now and then violently boomerangs back on Israeli Jews. Nonetheless, a kind of contrived, willful ignorance does come into play. One can be raised in ignorance and educated to a view of history that eliminates others’ suffering as well as one’s role in causing it. Entire populations can be psychologically shaped this way, with those doing the shaping being the truest of the true believers. Such conditioned ignorance lays the foundation for indifference to the fate of others. The Israelis have made an art of this process. 
Yet, this scenario is not original with the Israelis and Zionists. In fact, many Zionists learned how to see the world this way from Americans. Some years back I published a book, America’s Palestine in which this legacy is explored. As it turns out, one of the Zionist themes of the 1920s was that the native Palestinians were the Arab equivalent of hostile American Indians, violently resisting the forces of civilization and modernization. What was the average American’s attitude to the fate of these Indians — to their brutal dispossession and ethic cleansing? It was indifference which has grown greater with time until most Americans do not give the Indians or their fate much thought at all. 
Several years ago, at a debate held at the University of Pennsylvania, I tried to explain this connection to an Israeli vice consul from the Philadelphia consulate and his coterie of Zionist students. I suggested to them that the long-term Zionist strategy was to ethnically cleanse the Palestinians and then count on the world to, over time, get used to and then forget this crime. In a hundred or a hundred and fifty years, who would cry over the Palestinians? About the same number as bemoan the Apache or Cheyenne today? However, I also told them that in our post-imperialist world, this historical scenario was unlikely to repeat itself. The reception to all of this from the Consul and his hangers-on was negative. They walked out. 
Part IV – Conclusion 
The indifference, leading to detachment, that Wiesel so fears can quickly become a habitual part of our lives. After all, so much of our lives are just “a stream of habitual actions” that can be either “rationally useful or irrationally unfit for a given situation.” It is in the latter case that we get into trouble. When Israelis ignore Palestinian suffering they act in a way “irrationally unfit for their given situation” and that means, in Wiesel’s terms, “there is something wrong” with them. As Americans, we should recognize the symptoms, for we too have repeatedly behaved in this fashion. Having modeled this insensitivity for the Zionists, it now stands as a mark of our “special relationship” with the land of Israel. 
Lawrence Davidson was born in 1945 in Philadelphia PA. He grew up in Elizabeth NJ in a secular Jewish household. In 1963 he matriculated at Rutgers University for his BA. At Rutgers, Davidson developed a left leaning activist orientation to the problems facing the US in the 1960s. In 1967 he moved on to Georgetown University for his MA. –

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Lifting the Arms Embargo on Syria – A Decision Whose Results Will Be Measured In Hecatombs

Syria, The Faces Behind The Terror

Building for Armageddon?
By Soraya Sepahpour-Ulrich
June 29, 2013 “Information Clearing House – In her extraordinarily bold and direct speech addressed to the Irish Parliament, Clare Daly (TD, Dublin North) called Obama a “war criminal”and “hypocrite of the century”.
In describing the fawned reception of Obama in Ireland akin to pimping and prostituting of that nation, Ms. Daly hit the nail on the head. Sadly, America dwarfs Ireland and elsewhere in the undignified category of prostitution – the 29 standing ovations from Congress in May 2011 for war criminal Benjamin Netanyahu attests to this tragic fact.
While Daly was quite right in censuring Obama for his criminal policies, including aiding terrorists in Syria, it is worthwhile noting that Obama is merely a willing instrument; the faces and factors behind his handlers and the policies merit greater scrutiny and exposure.
Backing and arming the so-called Syrian opposition distracts from the threat posed by Israel and its expansionist agenda by internalizing the enemy in order to weak the State. As former Israeli Intelligence Chief, Amos Yaldin told the audience at the Israel Policy Forum in February 2013:
“And this military [Syrian], which is a huge threat to Israel , is now also weakening and, in a way, disintegrating. We still have risk from Syria– a risk of being an AlQaeda country, a Somalia-type country — but from military point of view, each one of these are less dangerous than the Syrian regular army.”
Perpetuating adversaries to kill each other is a time-tested tactic – one which was used during the bloody eight year Iran-Iraq war; a war which according to Leon Wieseltier[i]was a “distraction” when Israeli boots were on the ground in Southern Lebanon. In that war, the United States was providing arms and intelligence to both sides. When asked what the logic was in aiding both sides in the bloody war, a former official replied: “You had to have been there”[ii]. But why Syria ?
The Need for Water
The primary goal of the early Zionist leadership was to control and secure the region’s waters. At the Paris Peace Conference of 1919, Chaim Weizmann declared that ‘it was of vital importance not only to secure all water resources feeding the country, but to control them at the sources – and the development of these waters became the primary aim of the Yishuv as a whole[iii]. This policy remained in place. As Israel ’s third Prime Minister Levi Eshkol put it, water was “the blood flowing through the arteries of the nation”.
As previously stated (Here and Here), the chaos we witness in Syria today has been in the making for years with the aid and backing of Israel-firsters in order to accommodate Israel’s agenda – expansion and control of regional water supplies while weakening its adversary/ies.
Israel faced one of its worst droughts in 1990-91. A second more serious drought in 1998, forced it to turn to water rich Turkey . Turkey and Israel engaged in serious negotiations starting in May 2000 to import 50 billion cubic meters of fresh water from Turkey using tanker ships, but using tankers was not cost effective for the transport of water. Alternate plans were suggested.
In September 2000, the same year that young Bashar-al Assad succeeded his father as President of Syria, a strategy paper entitled “The Geopolitics of Water” by the Institute for Advanced Strategic and Political Studies (IASPS) opined that “Since extensive water planning proposals will necessitate the establishment of pipelines and energy grids stretching across borders, a political and military structure that can ensure the safety and security of the carriers will be the prerequisite to effective water sharing” ….. “But an effective regional system would require political-military cooperation against Syria ”.
How to achieve this?
Israeli-Firsters to the rescue
Media mogul Haim Saban became involved in politics in the mid 1990’s with a view to support Israel . Saban professes that his greatest concern is the“protection” of Israel . At a conference in Israel , Saban described his method of influencing American politics : ‘Make donations to political parties, establish think tanks, and control media outlets’. (Saban penned an opinion piece in The New York Times in support of President Obama in his 2012 re-election bid).
It was no surprised therefore that in 2002, Saban pledged $13 million to start a research organization at the Brookings Institution called the Saban Center for Middle East Policy. Saban Center would play an important role in propping up Syrian opposition (as it did in fermenting unrest post-2009 Iran elections with their June 2009 publication titled: “Which Path to Persia ? Options for a New American Strategy Towards Iran “[1]). In 2006, Time Magazine revealed that that the US had been agitating, funding, and supporting “opposition” in Syria . According to the Time, the U.S. was “supporting regular meetings of internal and diaspora Syrian activists” in Europe . The document bluntly expresses the hope that “these meetings will facilitate a more coherent strategy and plan of actions for all anti-Assad activists.”
It is worthwhile mentioning here that America ’s support of the so-called “opposition” which includes criminals, terrorists, and foreign fighters to effect regime change underscores America ’s stark hypocrisy. According to 18 USC § 2385 -Advocating overthrow of Government (Cornell Law), advocating the overthrow of the government, ‘organizing or help or attempt to organize any society, group, or assembly of persons who teach, advocate, or encourage the overthrow or destruction of the government of the United States or the government of any political subdivision therein, by force or violence’bears serious consequences including fines and prison sentence of up to 20 years.
What is most revealing about the abovementioned Time Magazine piece of 2006 is that America ’s efforts to aid the opposition and undermine Assad were run through a foundation operated by Amar Abdulhamid, a Washington-based member of a Syrian umbrella opposition group known as the National Salvation Front (NSF). Abdulhamid was a visiting Fellow at the Saban Center (2004-2006) before moving on to the Neocon-run National Defense of Democracies.
When in 2008, Israel-firster Dennis Ross met with the “opposition” to discuss “Syria in Transition”, Saban’s fellow – Amar Abdullhamid was present. In February 2009, Dennis Ross joined the Obama Administration team. In April 2009, the US funded, London-based Baraada TV started its anti-Assad propaganda into Syria (The epicenter of the uprisings’ was Baraada over water distribution). Baraada TV’s chief editor, Malik al-Abdeh, is a cofounder of the Syrian exile group Movement for Justice and Development headed by Anas al-Abdah who was in attendance at the 2008 meeting with Dennis Ross.
It came as no surprise that John McCain who was a member of the Committee for the Liberation of Iraq (CLI) formed to rid Iraq of Saddam Hossein, and a cheerleader for the Libya intervention, the Egyptian opposition to Mubarak, for bombing Iran, and so on…..visited Syrian “opposition” (via Turkey) in order to encourage more bloodshed. And expectedly, he was de-briefed — not at the White House, but at the Saban Center!
Soon after McCain’s presentation at the Saban Center , the White House disputed UN’s account and claimed that that Syria had crossed the ‘red line’ and used chemical weapons.
It is not the intention of this article to exclude the plethora of other individuals, think tanks, forums, and media pundits who have institutionalized Israel’s policies and promoted them as ‘America’s interests’; these are too numerous to mention here. However, a notable other Israel supporter must be named.
The Evangelical Factor
While various groups in Washington perpetuate and support Israel ’s aggressive and expansionist policies — at a cost to America , non have the zeal and the zest of the Evangelicals who support Israel to death. According to the dispensational model, a time of turmoil lies ahead, but believers will be “raptured” away before it begins. This period of tribulation will culminate in the final battle at Armageddon, a valley northwest of Jerusalem .
The close association between American evangelicals and Israel has been a clear goal of Israeli politicians, especially those in the Likud party. According to Rabbi Marc Tanenbaum of AJC, “the evangelical community is the largest and fastest-growing bloc of pro-Jewish sentiment in this country”[iv]. Israel and Jewish organizations continue to rely on the support of Evangelicals to justify Israel ’s occupation of Arab land even as Christian Zionists zest for evangelizing Jews remains a point of tension.
For example, within days of the June 1982 invasion of Lebanon (with a green light from Reagan), full-page ads appeared in leading papers requesting Evangelical support for the invasion[v]. In 1998, when Benjamin Netanyahu visited Washington , he met with Jerry Falwell and numerous fundamentalist Christians before meeting with President Clinton. Similarly, as recently as April 2013, Pat Robertson warned that brokering peace between Israel and Palestine would bring punishment on America.
It has been alleged that funds raised in America by right wing Christians is funneled to West Bank settlements. The mayor of Ariel on the West Bank had estimated that two thirds of all Jewish settlements were funded by Christian Zionists.[vi]
Building for Armageddon?
While Evangelicals (not all) are rupture-ready and encourage Israel ’s expansionist agenda, Israeli politicians are not yet Armageddon-ready; at least, not yet.
In March 2013, Business Insider revealed that the United States is spending hundreds of millions of dollars building bunkers in Israel due to be completed 900 days from February 13, 2013. The project called Site 911 “will have five levels buried underground and six additional outbuildings on the above grounds, within the perimeter. At about 127,000 square feet, the first three floors will house classrooms, an auditorium, and a laboratory — all wedged behind shock resistant doors — with radiation protection and massive security. Only one gate will allow workers entrance and exit during the project and that will be guarded by only Israelis”.
Each door of the facility will have a detailed description of the mezuzahs written in“in-erasable ink”.
This should be heartwarming news to Americans whose taxes are spent on such projects while the bridges at home are crumbling.
The Future
The political establishment and the media has pimped out the nation. The list of conflicts awaiting us is long and bloody.
Syria will not be the last conflict. This has been a brief and incomplete overview of what drives our nation, and where we are headed, the handlers and the willing instruments (in the words of Clare Daly, pimps and prostitutes).
We continue to sink our head in sand and hope for a hero – for ‘something to happen’. There is only one hope for the future, and the only one power that can alter this destructive path: “We, The People”.
Soraya Sepahpour-Ulrich is an independent researcher and writer with a focus on U.S. foreign policy and the role of lobby groups in influencing US foreign policy.
[i] Wieseltier , Leon ,“ Israel meets Iran in Lebanon ; The Wrong War”, The New Republic, Apr 8, 1985
[1]Chapter 6 reads: “The United States could play multiple roles in facilitating a revolution. By funding and helping organize domestic rivals of the regime, the United States could create an alternative leadership to seize power. As Raymond Tanter of the Iran Policy Committee argues, students and other groups “need covert backing for their demonstrations. They need fax machines. They need Internet access, funds to duplicate materials, and funds to keep vigilantes from beating them up.” Beyond this, US-backed media outlets could highlight regime shortcomings and make otherwise obscure critics more prominent. The United States already supports Persian language satellite television (Voice of America Persian) and radio (Radio Farda) that bring unfiltered news to Iranians (in recent years, these have taken the lion’s share of overt US funding for promoting democracy in Iran). US economic pressure (and perhaps military pressure as well) can discredit the regime, making the population hungry for a rival leadership……”
[ii]Stephen R. Shalom, The United States and Iran-Iraq War, citing Stephen Engelberg, “Iran and Iraq Got ‘Doctored Data, U.S. Officials Say,” New York Times, 12 Jan. 1987, pp. A1, A6.
[iii]Jan Selby, “Water, Power & Politics in the Middle East ; The Other Israeli-Palestinian Conflict”, Palgrave Macmillan, 2003
[iv]Donald Wagner, “Evangelicals and Israel : Theological roots of a political alliance”, The Christian Century, Nov. 4, 1998).
[v]Donald Wagner, “Evangelicals and Israel : Theological roots of a political alliance”, ibid
[vi]Colin Shindler, “Likud and the Christian Dispensationalists: A Symbiotic Relationship”, Israeli Studies, March 31, 2000

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Full Disclosure: What the Media Isn’t Telling You About War in Syria

Starving for Justice

Edward Snowden: A Conscience, Just Waiting For a Cause

By William Blum 
June 29, 2013 “Information Clearing House – In the course of his professional life in the world of national security Edward Snowden must have gone through numerous probing interviews, lie detector examinations, and exceedingly detailed background checks, as well as filling out endless forms carefully designed to catch any kind of falsehood or inconsistency. The Washington Post (June 10) reported that “several officials said the CIA will now undoubtedly begin reviewing the process by which Snowden may have been hired, seeking to determine whether there were any missed signs that he might one day betray national secrets.”
Yes, there was a sign they missed – Edward Snowden had something inside him shaped like a conscience, just waiting for a cause.
It was the same with me. I went to work at the State Department, planning to become a Foreign Service Officer, with the best – the most patriotic – of intentions, going to do my best to slay the beast of the International Communist Conspiracy. But then the horror, on a daily basis, of what the United States was doing to the people of Vietnam was brought home to me in every form of media; it was making me sick at heart. My conscience had found its cause, and nothing that I could have been asked in a pre-employment interview would have alerted my interrogators of the possible danger I posed because I didn’t know of the danger myself. No questioning of my friends and relatives could have turned up the slightest hint of the radical anti-war activist I was to become. My friends and relatives were to be as surprised as I was to be. There was simply no way for the State Department security office to know that I should not be hired and given a Secret Clearance. 1
So what is a poor National Security State to do? Well, they might consider behaving themselves. Stop doing all the terrible things that grieve people like me and Edward Snowden and Bradley Manning and so many others. Stop the bombings, the invasions, the endless wars, the torture, the sanctions, the overthrows, the support of dictatorships, the unmitigated support of Israel; stop all the things that make the United States so hated, that create all the anti-American terrorists, that compel the National Security State – in pure self defense – to spy on the entire world.
Eavesdropping on the planet
The above is the title of an essay that I wrote in 2000 that appeared as a chapter in my book Rogue State: A Guide to the World’s Only Superpower. Here are some excerpts that may help to put the current revelations surrounding Edward Snowden into perspective …
Can people in the 21st century imagine a greater invasion of privacy on all of earth, in all of history? If so, they merely have to wait for technology to catch up with their imagination.
Like a mammoth vacuum cleaner in the sky, the National Security Agency (NSA) sucks it all up: home phone, office phone, cellular phone, email, fax, telex … satellite transmissions, fiber-optic communications traffic, microwave links … voice, text, images … captured by satellites continuously orbiting the earth, then processed by high-powered computers … if it runs on electromagnetic energy, NSA is there, with high high tech. Twenty-four hours a day. Perhaps billions of messages sucked up each day. No one escapes. Not presidents, prime ministers, the UN Secretary-General, the pope, the Queen of England, embassies, transnational corporation CEOs, friend, foe, your Aunt Lena … if God has a phone, it’s being monitored … maybe your dog isn’t being tapped. The oceans will not protect you. American submarines have been attaching tapping pods to deep underwater cables for decades.
Under a system codenamed ECHELON, launched in the 1970s, the NSA and its junior partners in Britain, Australia, New Zealand, and Canada operate a network of massive, highly automated interception stations, covering the globe amongst them. Any of the partners can ask any of the others to intercept its own domestic communications. It can then truthfully say it does not spy on its own citizens.
Apart from specifically-targeted individuals and institutions, the ECHELON system works by indiscriminately intercepting huge quantities of communications and using computers to identify and extract messages of interest from the mass of unwanted ones. Every intercepted message – all the embassy cables, the business deals, the sex talk, the birthday greetings – is searched for keywords, which could be anything the searchers think might be of interest. All it takes to flag a communication is for one of the parties to use a couple or so of the key words in the ECHELON “dictionary” – “He lives in a lovely old white house on Bush Street, right near me. I canshoot over there in two minutes.” Within limitations, computers can “listen” to telephone calls and recognize when keywords are spoken. Those calls are extracted and recorded separately, to be listened to in full by humans. The list of specific targets at any given time is undoubtedly wide ranging, at one point including the likes of Amnesty International and Christian Aid.
ECHELON is carried out without official acknowledgment of its existence, let alone any democratic oversight or public or legislative debate as to whether it serves a decent purpose. The extensiveness of the ECHELON global network is a product of decades of intense Cold War activity. Yet with the end of the Cold War, its budget – far from being greatly reduced – was increased, and the network has grown in both power and reach; yet another piece of evidence that the Cold War was not a battle against something called “the international communist conspiracy”.
The European Parliament in the late 1990s began to wake up to this intrusion into the continent’s affairs. The parliament’s Civil Liberties Committee commissioned a report, which appeared in 1998 and recommended a variety of measures for dealing with the increasing power of the technologies of surveillance. It bluntly advised: “The European Parliament should reject proposals from the United States for making private messages via the global communications network [Internet] accessible to US intelligence agencies.” The report denounced Britain’s role as a double-agent, spying on its own European partners.
Despite these concerns the US has continued to expand ECHELON surveillance in Europe, partly because of heightened interest in commercial espionage – to uncover industrial information that would provide American corporations with an advantage over foreign rivals.
German security experts discovered several years ago that ECHELON was engaged in heavy commercial spying in Europe. Victims included such German firms as the wind generator manufacturer Enercon. In 1998, Enercon developed what it thought was a secret invention, enabling it to generate electricity from wind power at a far cheaper rate than before. However, when the company tried to market its invention in the United States, it was confronted by its American rival, Kenetech, which announced that it had already patented a near-identical development. Kenetech then brought a court order against Enercon to ban the sale of its equipment in the US. In a rare public disclosure, an NSA employee, who refused to be named, agreed to appear in silhouette on German television to reveal how he had stolen Enercon’s secrets by tapping the telephone and computer link lines that ran between Enercon’s research laboratory and its production unit some 12 miles away. Detailed plans of the company’s invention were then passed on to Kenetech.
In 1994, Thomson S.A., located in Paris, and Airbus Industrie, based in Blagnac Cedex, France, also lost lucrative contracts, snatched away by American rivals aided by information covertly collected by NSA and CIA. The same agencies also eavesdropped on Japanese representatives during negotiations with the United States in 1995 over auto parts trade.
German industry has complained that it is in a particularly vulnerable position because the government forbids its security services from conducting similar industrial espionage. “German politicians still support the rather naive idea that political allies should not spy on each other’s businesses. The Americans and the British do not have such illusions,” said journalist Udo Ulfkotte, a specialist in European industrial espionage, in 1999.
That same year, Germany demanded that the United States recall three CIA operatives for their activities in Germany involving economic espionage. The news report stated that the Germans “have long been suspicious of the eavesdropping capabilities of the enormous U.S. radar and communications complex at Bad Aibling, near Munich”, which is in fact an NSA intercept station. “The Americans tell us it is used solely to monitor communications by potential enemies, but how can we be entirely sure that they are not picking up pieces of information that we think should remain completely secret?” asked a senior German official. Japanese officials most likely have been told a similar story by Washington about the more than a dozen signals intelligence bases which Japan has allowed to be located on its territory.
In their quest to gain access to more and more private information, the NSA, the FBI, and other components of the US national security establishment have been engaged for years in a campaign to require American telecommunications manufacturers and carriers to design their equipment and networks to optimize the authorities’ wiretapping ability. Some industry insiders say they believe that some US machines approved for export contain NSA “back doors” (also called “trap doors”).
The United States has been trying to persuade European Union countries as well to allow it “back-door” access to encryption programs, claiming that this was to serve the needs of law-enforcement agencies. However, a report released by the European Parliament in May 1999 asserted that Washington’s plans for controlling encryption software in Europe had nothing to do with law enforcement and everything to do with US industrial espionage. The NSA has also dispatched FBI agents on break-in missions to snatch code books from foreign facilities in the United States, and CIA officers to recruit foreign communications clerks abroad and buy their code secrets, according to veteran intelligence officials.
For decades, beginning in the 1950s, the Swiss company Crypto AG sold the world’s most sophisticated and secure encryption technology. The firm staked its reputation and the security concerns of its clients on its neutrality in the Cold War or any other war. The purchasing nations, some 120 of them – including prime US intelligence targets such as Iran, Iraq, Libya and Yugoslavia – confident that their communications were protected, sent messages from their capitals to their embassies, military missions, trade offices, and espionage dens around the world, via telex, radio, and fax. And all the while, because of a secret agreement between the company and NSA, these governments might as well have been hand delivering the messages to Washington, uncoded. For their Crypto AG machines had been rigged before being sold to them, so that when they used them the random encryption key could be automatically and clandestinely transmitted along with the enciphered message. NSA analysts could read the messages as easily as they could the morning newspaper.
In 1986, because of US public statements concerning the La Belle disco bombing in West Berlin, the Libyans began to suspect that something was rotten with Crypto AG’s machines and switched to another Swiss firm, Gretag Data Systems AG. But it appears that NSA had that base covered as well. In 1992, after a series of suspicious circumstances over the previous few years, Iran came to a conclusion similar to Libya’s, and arrested a Crypto AG employee who was in Iran on a business trip. He was eventually ransomed, but the incident became well known and the scam began to unravel in earnest.
In September 1999 it was revealed that NSA had arranged with Microsoft to insert special “keys” into Windows software, in all versions from 95-OSR2 onwards. An American computer scientist, Andrew Fernandez of Cryptonym in North Carolina, had disassembled parts of the Windows instruction code and found the smoking gun – Microsoft’s developers had failed to remove the debugging symbols used to test this software before they released it. Inside the code were the labels for two keys. One was called “KEY”. The other was called “NSAKEY”. Fernandez presented his finding at a conference at which some Windows developers were also in attendance. The developers did not deny that the NSA key was built into their software, but they refused to talk about what the key did, or why it had been put there without users’ knowledge. Fernandez says that NSA’s “back door” in the world’s most commonly used operating system makes it “orders of magnitude easier for the US government to access your computer.”
In February 2000, it was disclosed that the Strategic Affairs Delegation (DAS), the intelligence arm of the French Defense Ministry, had prepared a report in 1999 which also asserted that NSA had helped to install secret programs in Microsoft software. According to the DAS report, “it would seem that the creation of Microsoft was largely supported, not least financially, by the NSA, and that IBM was made to accept the [Microsoft] MS-DOS operating system by the same administration.” The report stated that there had been a “strong suspicion of a lack of security fed by insistent rumors about the existence of spy programs on Microsoft, and by the presence of NSA personnel in Bill Gates’ development teams.” The Pentagon, said the report, was Microsoft’s biggest client in the world.
Recent years have seen disclosures that in the countdown to their invasion of Iraq in 2003, the United States had listened in on UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, UN weapons inspectors in Iraq, and all the members of the UN Security Council during a period when they were deliberating about what action to take in Iraq.
It’s as if the American national security establishment feels that it has an inalienable right to listen in; as if there had been a constitutional amendment, applicable to the entire world, stating that “Congress shall make no law abridging the freedom of the government to intercept the personal communications of anyone.” And the Fourth Amendment had been changed to read: “Persons shall be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, except in cases of national security, real or alleged.” 2
The leading whistleblower of all time: Philip Agee
Before there was Edward Snowden, William Binney and Thomas Drake … before there was Bradley Manning, Sibel Edmonds and Jesselyn Radack … there was Philip Agee. What Agee revealed is still the most startling and important information about US foreign policy that any American government whistleblower has ever revealed.
Philip Agee spent 12 years (1957-69) as a CIA case officer, most of it in Latin America. His first book, Inside the Company: CIA Diary, published in 1974 – a pioneering work on the Agency’s methods and their devastating consequences – appeared in about 30 languages around the world and was a best seller in many countries; it included a 23-page appendix with the names of hundreds of undercover Agency operatives and organizations.
Under CIA manipulation, direction and, usually, their payroll, were past and present presidents of Mexico, Colombia, Uruguay, and Costa Rica, “our minister of labor”, “our vice-president”, “my police”, journalists, labor leaders, student leaders, diplomats, and many others. If the Agency wished to disseminate anti-communist propaganda, cause dissension in leftist ranks, or have Communist embassy personnel expelled, it need only prepare some phoney documents, present them to the appropriate government ministers and journalists, and – presto! – instant scandal.
Agee’s goal in naming all these individuals, quite simply, was to make it as difficult as he could for the CIA to continue doing its dirty work.
A common Agency tactic was writing editorials and phoney news stories to be knowingly published by Latin American media with no indication of the CIA authorship or CIA payment to the media. The propaganda value of such a “news” item might be multiplied by being picked up by other CIA stations in Latin America who would disseminate it through a CIA-owned news agency or a CIA-owned radio station. Some of these stories made their way back to the United States to be read or heard by unknowing North Americans.
Wooing the working class came in for special treatment. Labor organizations by the dozen, sometimes hardly more than names on stationery, were created, altered, combined, liquidated, and new ones created again, in an almost frenzied attempt to find the right combination to compete with existing left-oriented unions and take national leadership away from them.
In 1975 these revelations were new and shocking; for many readers it was the first hint that American foreign policy was not quite what their high-school textbooks had told them nor what the New York Times had reported.
“As complete an account of spy work as is likely to be published anywhere, an authentic account of how an ordinary American or British ‘case officer’ operates … All of it … presented with deadly accuracy,” wrote Miles Copeland, a former CIA station chief, and ardent foe of Agee. (There’s no former CIA officer more hated by members of the intelligence establishment than Agee; no one’s even close; due in part to his traveling to Cuba and having long-term contact with Cuban intelligence.)
In contrast to Agee, WikiLeaks withheld the names of hundreds of informants from the nearly 400,000 Iraq war documents it released.
In 1969, Agee resigned from the CIA (and colleagues who “long ago ceased to believe in what they are doing”).
While on the run from the CIA as he was writing Inside the Company – at times literally running for his life – Agee was expelled from, or refused admittance to, Italy, Britain, France, West Germany, the Netherlands, and Norway. (West Germany eventually gave him asylum because his wife was a leading ballerina in the country.) Agee’s account of his period on the run can be found detailed in his book On the Run (1987). It’s an exciting read.

  1. To read about my State Department and other adventures, see my book West-Bloc Dissident: A Cold war Memoir (2002)
  2. See Rogue State: A Guide to the World’s Only Superpower, chapter 21, for the notes for the above.
Books by William Blum
America’s Deadliest Export: Democracy

America’s Deadliest Export: Democracy

The Truth About US Foreign Policy and Everything Else
Killing Hope

Killing Hope

U.S. Military and CIA Interventions Since World War II
Rogue State

Rogue State

A Guide to the World’s Only Superpower

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Glenn Greenwald Speaks Out

The Criminal N.S.A.

The Duty of Lawyers

By Ralph Nader
June 29, 2013 “Information Clearing House – What happens when the rule of law increasingly bows to the whims and violations of unaccountable public officials?
In the United States, we are seeing the rule of law eroded by those at the top levels of our government. We are witnessing the dismantling of the guiding principles of justice and the rule of law. Our legal system has been gamed to preferentially serve the needs of the few rather than those of the many.
The rule of law should be a persistent guard against — rather than an instrument of — unfair advantage or injustice for those with power, money and influence.
Our elected officials have failed in their duty to uphold the rule of law. This malfeasance has led to secret law, secret courts, secret evidence, secret budgets and secret prisons under the guise of “national security.” There is surveillance of attorney-client communications, unauditable secret expenditures for foreign military exploits, dragnet snooping of electronic and telephone data and even redacted published judicial decisions.
Habeas corpus has been tarnished by the inhumane and unjust treatment of prisoners in Guantanamo Bay including many already cleared by the government but still jailed. Infinite detention has tarnished our legal system. Some dictocrats even argue that American citizens should be subjected to indefinite imprisonment.
Drone attacks in foreign nations are justified by secret legal memos. The president, without any Congressional authorization, can target any “suspected terrorist,” including American citizens.
Who has the power to stop this descent into a nation of reckless leadership and lawlessness?
The million lawyers of America do. Lawyers know how to apply law to power. They know how to use the courts and how to lobby. They can cut through the jungle of legalese. They know when the laws are being violated and the remedies for the victims. They know how to draft legislation. They have contacts and resources. It’s only a matter of more of them utilizing these powerful tools.
Being a lawyer is about much more than billable hours. Consider the differentiation of the terms lawyer and attorney. An attorney represents their clients; they represent the more vocational side of the law. It is this side of the legal profession that is driven by the big-client imperative, those profitable corporate industries that dominate the time and talent of many in the legal field.
On the other hand, a lawyer represents the professional side. A lawyer’s duties extend beyond the needs of their clients to the vital needs of the public interest and the justice system. Lawyers are deemed “officers of the court.” They can and should be sentinels and guardians for the just rule of law.
Although law school curriculums have improved greatly since the 1950s — when they were largely shaped by the job market and business interests — there is still an immense need for law professors to instill idealism in their students.
Three points every current law student should take to heart.
1. You can act as a positive force in society as a lawyer. A lawyer’s role can be to advance systems of justice, to enlarge the peoples’ access to justice and to improve the administration of justice.
2. You can make a difference to society today as a law student. Find a public cause and devote some time to advancing justice.
3. Do not allow law school to break your idealism. The legal profession will tempt you with money and the illusion of prestige. Our country needs more lawyers working to preserve the rule of law, rather than serving clients who subvert it.
Being a lawyer should include public service. Our nation is in dire need of more lawyers speaking out to uphold their oath of office and working to restore constitutional authorities and legal facilities and boundaries.
The million-plus practicing lawyers and their many bar organizations should be on the ramparts defending against the insidious rejection of due process, probable cause, habeas corpus and privacy that come out of our Constitution.
(Autographed copies of my latest book Told You So: The Big Book of Weekly Columns are available at

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Washington Is Driving The World To The Final War

Government Agencies Are Keeping Records Of Your Credit Card Transactions

By Michael Snyder
June 29, 2013 “Information Clearing House – “Economic Collapse” — Were you under the impression that your credit card transactions are private? If so, I am sorry to burst your bubble. As you will see below, there are actually multiple government agencies that are gathering and storing records of your credit card transactions. And in turn, those government agencies share that information with other government agencies that want it. So if you are making a purchase that you don’t want anyone to know about, don’t use a credit card. This is one of the reasons why the government hates cash so much. It is just so hard to track. In this day and age, the federal government seems to be absolutely obsessed with gathering as much information about all of us as it possibly can. But there is one big problem. What they are doing directly violates the U.S. Constitution. For those that are not familiar with it, the following is what the Fourth Amendment actually says: “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.” Unfortunately, the Fourth Amendment is essentially dead at this point. The federal government is investigating all of us and gathering information on all of us all day, every day without end.
Many Americans have never even heard of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, but Judicial Watch has discovered that they are spending millions of dollars to collect and analyze our financial transactions…
Judicial Watch announced today that it has obtained records from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) revealing that the agency has spent millions of dollars for the warrantless collection and analysis of Americans’ financial transactions. The documents also reveal that CFPB contractors may be required to share the information with “additional government entities.”
Judicial Watch was able to obtain some absolutely shocking documents thanks to a Freedom of Information Act request that it filed in April. The following is a summary of some of the things those documents show…
Overlapping contracts with multiple credit reporting agencies and accounting firms to gather, store, and share credit card data as shown in the task list of a contract with Argus Information & Advisory Services LLC worth $2.9 million
An “indefinite delivery, indefinite quantity” contract with Experian worth up to $8,426,650 to track daily consumer habits of select individuals without their awareness or consent
$4,951,333 for software and instruction paid to Deloitte Consulting LLP
A provision stipulating that “The contractor recognizes that, in performing this requirement, the Contractor may obtain access to non-public, confidential information, Personally Identifiable Information (PII), or proprietary information.”
A stipulation that “The Contractor may be required to share credit card data collected from the Banks with additional government entities as directed by the Contracting Officer’s Representative (COR).”
How do you feel about the fact that the government has contracts with “multiple credit reporting agencies and accounting firms to gather, store, and share credit card data”?
How do you feel about the fact that your credit card data and other “non-public, confidential information” may be shared with “additional government entities”?
Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton put it very well when he said that this “warrantless collection of the private financial information of millions of Americans is mind-blowing. Is there anything that this administration thinks it can’t do?”
But of course the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is not the only one keeping records of your credit card transactions.
We have also recently learned that the NSA is doing it too. The following is from a recent Time Magazine article
Networks are most likely giving the government “metadata.” That is, the credit card issuers could provide the NSA details such as an account or card number, where and when a purchase was made, and for how much. Even though the exact items purchased aren’t revealed, Brian Krebs, who blogs at, says “merchant category codes” in such data give clues about what was bought.
If the NSA is collecting data at the processor level, “at that point the transaction gets cleared and posts to an account, so, yes, you can track it down to a person,” Aufsesser says.
The NSA conceivably could — and probably would — be able get the names of individual account holders from banks issuing credit cards. ”I don’t see how you would anonymize it,” says Al Pascual, senior analyst for security, risk and fraud for Javelin Strategy & Research.
We are rapidly becoming a “Big Brother society” where the government tracks virtually every move that we make.
And don’t think that you can escape this by not using credit cards or by staying off of the Internet. The truth is that we are being tracked in hundreds of different ways.
For example, have you heard of automated license plate readers?
They are being installed on police vehicles all over the nation, and the amount of information that they are gathering on all of us is frightening.
A computer security consultant named Michael Katz-Lacabe asked the city of San Leandro, California for a record of every time that these license plate readers had scanned his vehicle, and what he discovered absolutely stunned him
The paperback-size device, installed on the outside of police cars, can log thousands of license plates in an eight-hour patrol shift. Katz-Lacabe said it had photographed his two cars on 112 occasions, including one image from 2009 that shows him and his daughters stepping out of his Toyota Prius in their driveway.
That photograph, Katz-Lacabe said, made him “frightened and concerned about the magnitude of police surveillance and data collection.” The single patrol car in San Leandro equipped with a plate reader had logged his car once a week on average, photographing his license plate and documenting the time and location.
At a rapid pace, and mostly hidden from the public, police agencies throughout California have been collecting millions of records on drivers and feeding them to intelligence fusion centers operated by local, state and federal law enforcement.
Most Americans do not even know that these devices exist, but they have been “collecting millions of records” and feeding them into law enforcement databases all over the nation.
In San Diego alone, more than 36 million license plate scans have been fed into a regional database just since 2010
In San Diego, 13 federal and local law enforcement agencies have compiled more than 36 million license-plate scans in a regional database since 2010 with the help of federal homeland security grants. The San Diego Association of Governments maintains the database. Like the Northern California database, the San Diego system retains the data for between one and two years.
“License-plate data is clearly identifiable to specific individuals,” said Lee Tien, a senior staff attorney at the Electronic Frontier Foundation. “This is like having your barcode tracked.”
Is this the kind of society that we want to become?
Do we really want the police to be taking millions of photographs of us?
Do we really want all of our financial transactions to be fed directly into federal databases?
Do we really want the government to track every phone call we make and every email we send?
As I wrote about recently, it has been documented that literally thousands of companies have been handing over customer data to the NSA.
Is this the kind of legacy that we want to leave for our children and our grandchildren?
Fortunately, it appears that at least some Americans are waking up to all of this.
According to a brand new Rasmussen survey, 56 percent of likely voters in the United States now believe that the federal government is a threat to individual rights…
A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that 56% of Likely U.S. Voters now consider the federal government a threat to individual rights rather than a protector of those rights. That’s up 10 points from 46% in December.
While 54% of liberal voters consider the feds to be a protector of individual rights, 78% of conservatives and 49% of moderates see the government as a threat.
Overall, only 30% believe the feds today are a protector of individual rights. Fourteen percent (14%) are undecided. (To see survey question wording, click here.)
If the American people do not stand up and demand change, the people that are constantly violating our privacy are going to continue to do so.
Sadly, the vast majority of the politicians in both major political parties seem to think that there is nothing wrong with the status quo. So I wouldn’t expect any major changes in the short-term. But hopefully government surveillance will start to become such a major issue with the American people that the politicians will be forced to start addressing it.
Copyright © 2013 The Economic Collapse

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Postcard from the End of America: Camden

US, Japan to establish military bases in the Philippines

Ireland: Bankers joke about their €7 billion bailout scam

Senate approves legislation to militarize US-Mexico border

By Thomas Gaist 
29 June 2013
The US Senate on Thursday passed the Border Security, Economic Opportunity and Immigration Modernization Act of 2013, with significant support from both big business parties. The legislation beefs up the repressive and surveillance capacities of the state, militarizes the entire US-Mexico border zone, in what senators have described as a “border surge,” and creates a new category of second-class citizens.
The security portion of the bill calls for a massive ramping up of the police presence and military hardware along the border, with 20,000 new border patrol agents, doubling the total to 40,000. It also calls for 700 miles of new fencing and the deployment of National Guard elements.
Under the bill, the border will be subject to “persistent surveillance,” with “continuous and integrated manned or unmanned monitoring, sensing or surveillance of 100 percent of southern border mileage or the immediate vicinity of the southern border.”
Unmanned aerial drones will be deployed on a 24/7 basis, creating a “drone zone” stretching up to 100 miles north of the border. Vehicle Dismount and Exploitation Radar (VADER) systems will be deployed, as well as a dizzying array of monitoring technologies, including thousands of ground sensors, cameras, infrared and night-vision scopes, and a fleet of 40 new helicopters.
Taken together, these provisions will triple government spending on border security to a grand total of $46 billion. Republican Senator Bob Corker of Tennessee, one of the authors of the bill, frankly described the security measures as “almost overkill.”
The US-Mexico border is being transformed into a fully militarized zone, resembling conflict areas such as Israel-Palestine. Democratic Senator Charles Schumer of New York lauded the creation of a “virtual human fence.”
The bill also universalizes the anti-democratic E-Verify system, a massive information reservoir operated by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). The E-Verify program assembles biographic information on employees in a nationwide computer network. The law stipulates that no immigrants will receive green cards until E-Verify has been implemented at every work place across the US.
Under the new law, all employers will be required to begin using E-Verify within 5 years, and foreigners entering or leaving the US will be subject to new forms of biometric tracking.
Mandatory E-Verify establishes something approaching a national identification system. National ID, long resisted by the American people, is being slipped in through the backdoor under the guise of immigration reform.
The American Civil Liberties Union has characterized the effect of the E-Verify program as “inverting the relationship between the individual and government” by forcing individuals to undergo screening and receive “affirmative permission” before carrying out basic life activities.
The ACLU stated that the legislation “takes significant steps toward a ‘cardless’ national ID system which could be used to track and limit Americans’ movements and activities.”
As the New York Times acknowledged in an article Thursday, “[M]ost Americans are unaware of the mandate’s broad scope.” The Times observed that many will face “unexpected bureaucratic headaches” and “even lose new jobs” as a result.
Democratic Senator Chris Coons admitted that E-Verify can become “a single, national, searchable database of vital biographic information and photographs of nearly every American.”
Immigration policy analyst David Bier observed, “I don’t think people really understand that this creates a regulation not just for every employer, or for every immigrant, but also for every citizen in this country.”
The “regulation” that the bill creates is that all citizens will have to undergo background checks, having their life history scrutinized and recorded in a vast government database, in order to start a new job.
Homeland Security has had access to 113 million State Department passport records and photos since 2010, but the expanded variant of E-Verify contained in the immigration bill will allow the department to access all 212 million drivers licenses and extend access to the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).
Vigorous bi-partisan support for universal E-Verify provides yet another illustration of the commitment of the entire political establishment to the dismantling of democratic rights and buildup of a police state apparatus. The legislation was prepared by the “Gang of Eight” senators, which includes leading Democrats and Republicans, and is backed by the Obama administration.
The “path to citizenship” component of the bill involves arduous and convoluted procedures that immigrants will have to navigate in pursuit of legal status. Undocumented immigrants will first have to apply for registered provisional immigrant (RPI) status, paying a $500 fine in the process. RPIs are banned from receiving any federal health or welfare benefits, and will have fewer legal rights than citizens.
Once they have lived for 10 years in the US as RPIs, immigrants then have the opportunity to apply for a green card, paying an additional $1,000 fine. Leaving the US at any time during the entire process will invalidate their citizenship application.
The multi-tiered system elaborated in the path to citizenship establishes preferential treatment for skilled laborers, reflecting the massive input of hi tech corporations that want access to highly educated foreigners whom they can hire at lower wage rates than those paid to Americans. Rather than enabling immigrants to live in the US free from state harassment or deportation, the real purpose of the “path to citizenship” is to provide an increased supply of cheap labor for exploitation by the US capitalist elite.
The Obama administration is presenting the bill as progressive legislation that will allow millions of immigrants to gain citizenship status. “Today, the Senate did its job. It’s now up to the House to do the same,” President Barack Obama declared after the vote.
Republican House leaders have indicated, however, that they will not pass the bill in its present form in the lower chamber.

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UK chancellor announces a further £11.5 billion in cuts

Mother of teen jailed for Facebook post speaks to WSWS

By Tom Carter 
29 June 2013
Justin River Carter was arrested on February 14 of this year in Austin, Texas and charged as a “terrorist” for a post he made on Facebook. He faces up to ten years in prison.
The prosecution of Justin Carter as a “terrorist” is one of a string of dozens of similar prosecutions around the country, mainly involving teenagers and online posts on sites such as Facebook. As the World Socialist Web Site has previously reported, the purpose of these prosecutions is to undermine the First Amendment guarantee of free speech and to pave the way for the criminalization of political dissent. (See “The criminalization of political dissent in America”.)
In one of the more prominent of these cases, Massachusetts high school student Cameron D’Ambrosio was arrested in May on “terror” charges for posting rap lyrics making reference to the Boston bombings on his Facebook page. He faced up to 20 years in prison. D’Ambrosio was subsequently released when a grand jury refused to indict him, but not before he spent a month in prison.
Justin Carter’s purportedly “terrorist” post was made in the context of an argument on Facebook related to an online game. Justin was accused of being “crazy.” His response, which his mother contends was just her son’s sarcastic sense of humor, was, “I’m f—ed in the head alright. I think I’ma shoot up a kindergarten and watch the blood of the innocent rain down and eat the beating heart of one of them.” Then Justin wrote, “j/k” (which means “just kidding”).
Police appeared at Justin Carter’s workplace the following day to arrest him. A police SWAT team later raided his apartment. He was charged with making a “terroristic threat” to “impair public/government service.”
Media reports (such as this one) described a terrorist on the loose (Justin Carter had already been arrested by this time), and even identified a particular kindergarten as the supposed target.
The string of Facebook “terror” prosecutions nationwide are significant in that they target mere speech alone, i.e., free speech traditionally protected under the First Amendment. In Justin Carter’s case, as in Cameron D’Ambrosio’s, there was no weapon or bomb, no plans to acquire one, no specific target, no conspiracy, and no plans or attempt to carry out an attack. There were no real or intended victims. There was no alleged connection to Al Qaeda or any other group.
These Facebook “terror” prosecutions are the tip of the wedge that is being used to open the way for the full spectrum of “anti-terror” laws and powers that were enacted or asserted in the “war on terror” to be brought to bear against the American public. It is the Obama administration’s position that someone who is a “terrorist” can be denied all basic rights, imprisoned without trial, tortured, and even assassinated.
Justin Carter recently turned 19 in jail. The prosecutor has offered him 8 years in prison in return for an admission of guilt. As of this writing, he has not accepted the offer. Justin Carter’s employer, an audio/visual company, believes in his innocence and is holding his job open for him. A petition for Justin Carter’s release has gathered more than a thousand signatures His trial is expected to begin July 1.
The World Socialist Web Site recently spoke to Justin Carter’s mother, Jennifer Carter:
Tom Carter: What was it like for you, from your point of view, to learn that your son would be charged as a terrorist? How did you find out? What was your first reaction?
Jennifer Carter: Well, my ex-husband sent me an email on Valentine’s Day and told me that Justin was in jail. I called my ex-husband, and he told me that police had arrested him at his job for a post he had written on Facebook. My response was, “What kind of post was it?” He said it was on the news, and sent me a link.
Justin, Logan and Jennifer Carter
I saw the news, and it said they were charging him with making a terroristic threat. My first feeling about it was that this was ridiculous. I thought as soon as the police talk to him, they will see it was a joke and let him go. If anything, it would be a misdemeanor. I thought if they talked to him, they would realize it was just his sarcastic sense of humor.
The next day, they went in front of the judge to set the bond, and the bond was set at $250,000. It was later increased to $500,000. That’s when I realized it was serious. And it was devastating. I never thought that my son would go to jail, and I certainly never thought he would go to jail for being a terrorist.
“Terrorist”—that is a word now in America that’s associated with someone who is going to blow something up or shoot a bunch of people. We’ve always been an anti-gun kind of a family. We’ve never owned guns. Justin was afraid of guns. He was scared when one time his roommate showed him a gun.
It was devastating. I cried for days. Then I got really angry, and I started trying to do something about it. My brother in law sent out letters to the ACLU and the EFF [Electronic Frontier Foundation].
TC: What kind of person is your son? Did he pose a threat to anyone?
JC: My son is sarcastic, and has a dark sense of humor for sure. But he’s a pussycat. He can’t fight. He has a younger brother, and when they would fight, he would always lose.
When we would have family parties, he was always the one playing with the kids, and teaching them how to play video games. He would be the one rolling around on the floor with them, playing hide and seek.
The idea that he would do anything to hurt kids—it’s not who he is at all.
TC: In your son’s case, I understand the prosecutor is offering a sentence of eight years in return for a guilty plea, but is threatening to seek more if the case goes to trial. What is it like to have to make that choice?
JC: It’s hard to put into words the kind of emotions you have with this kind of thing. Every time we get bad news about the D.A. [District Attorney], and hear what they are trying to push for, whether it is 8 years or 10 years—all I can think of is my son when he was a little boy, and what a good person he is.
The idea that he would be locked away for 8 years or 10 years—he is not a criminal. He’s not cut out for jail. My first thought when I found out was that someone would kill him in jail.
It’s hard. He’s almost broken when I talk to him on the phone. He’s lost all hope. He doesn’t think he’s ever going to get out. He told me that if he gets out, “I’ll never take sunshine or grass for granted. I’ll never play video games again. If only I can be free again.”
It’s so frustrating that I can’t fix this, and I can’t do anything to help him. (crying) Sometimes I feel like I can be cold and methodical and get things done. At other times I just start crying and can’t stop.
TC: What conditions does he face inside the prison system?
JC: He’s already been transferred four different times after being beaten up by other inmates. They have classified him as a “baby killer.” They steal his food. They spit on him.
He went from being a happy kid, with a good job, in an apartment on his own doing well—now he says he has no chance of surviving. He thinks someone is going to kill him, or that one of these beatings is going to permanently scar him or injure him.
TC: What do you think about other teenagers around the country being charged as terrorists for online posts? What are the implications for democratic rights and free speech?
JC: I used to believe that we had free speech in this country. I don’t believe it anymore.
Now, whenever I see anyone posting anything online, I tell them to take it off immediately, before someone sees it or reports them. I’m scared to post my political views. I just don’t think we have free speech in this country if they can charge children for saying stupid things online. Teenagers say stupid things all the time. It doesn’t mean they are going to do anything, or that they are dangerous. If someone says something stupid, you talk to them. If there isn’t any danger, they shouldn’t be put in jail.
It’s like they are running out of people to put in jail, and now they are turning to teenagers.
TC: If it were up to you, and you were the city official who could decide who was prosecuted and for what, how would you have handled your son’s Facebook post?
JC: I would have sent someone to come talk to him at his home. Any sane policeman after talking to him would have seen. Justin was completely honest about it. He didn’t try to lie. He admitted that he posted it. In the world I thought we lived in, they would have said, “Don’t post anything stupid like that online again.” And that would have been it.
Most of my friends and family can’t even believe that this is happening, that this is real. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve said, “Yes, that’s it.” They think there must have been something more to it. There’s nothing more to it. That’s it. That post, that statement alone is enough for 10 years in jail? It’s ridiculous.
TC: What did you think of the official media coverage of your son’s case? Has that changed the way you watch the news?
JC: I don’t believe the news anymore. I had a healthy skepticism before that, because I guess I’m a liberal or whatever. But when I saw the news—they reported that he was “on the loose” and the police were looking for him. But he had already been in custody for hours at that point.
I felt bad for the people at the school that they said he was threatening. I felt bad for the parents. I wanted to call the school and say—the news is wrong. Don’t scare the kids. Nobody is out on the loose. I felt bad for the parents.
TC: Why is your son’s case important? Why should people care about this issue?
JC: Freedom of speech is one of the basic rights we have in America. This is supposed to be the land of the free. You’re supposed to have opinions and be able to state them publicly without fear, whether it’s on politics or religion.
The whole reason we have the Bill of Rights is that there was a tyranny, and people were afraid of being killed by the king for saying the wrong thing. When you start taking away freedoms, and start saying that something you say is “terrorism” and cannot be a joke or political statement—when you start taking away that right, people start living in fear.
Everyone I know that knows about this case is now afraid to say stuff online. They see that even if you are joking, you can be arrested and put in jail for an indefinite amount of time. If you take away freedom of speech, then we’ve lost everything in this country.
TC: Have you been following the ongoing revelations about Edward Snowden and about NSA spying on the population?
JC: I think he’s a whistleblower. People are divided, and some people say he is a traitor, but I say he’s a whistleblower.
I don’t understand why the NSA is listening to people’s conversations or monitoring the phone calls—of American citizens! It goes back to the Bill of Rights. We’re supposed to have privacy. You’re not supposed to be able to listen in to things you’re not supposed to be listening into.
I saw they were listening in to his [Justin’s] phone calls from jail with me and to his father. I was horrified. The idea that people are listening to your phone calls and making judgments about you and making files on you—it’s horrifying. Most people live in a bubble and don’t understand that this kind of stuff is going on.
The government is listening. It’s terrifying that we live in this kind of country now, or that we’ve been living in it all along and didn’t know it.
TC: Is there anything else you would like readers of the WSWS to know?
JC: I would want them to know that we have to fight for our rights. The rights that we think we have, we don’t. If we don’t stand up to the government, the police, the court system—we don’t deserve our rights unless we stand up and fight for them.
The author also recommends:
[11 May 2013]

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Washington ships arms to Al Qaeda-linked forces in Syria

By Chris Marsden 
29 June 2013
The United States is to officially begin arms shipments to Syria, after months of doing so through third parties, such as Saudi Arabia and Qatar.
A story placed with the Wall Street Journal cited CIA sources relating plans to start supplying arms directly to the opposition Free Syrian Army “within a month.”
The CIA has already begun shipping weapons to a secret network of warehouses in neighbouring Jordan, in an operation backed by European and Arab powers. It will provide training to forces that are supposedly “moderate” and “separate” from Al Qaeda-linked forces such as the Al Nusra Front.
The shipments will fuel an August offensive against the regime of Bashar al-Assad.
The Obama administration cited unsubstantiated US and French claims that pro-Assad forces have used chemical weapons such as sarin on ten separate occasions to claim that a “red line” has been crossed justifying an open policy of arming the opposition.
Vast quantities of weaponry have already been sent via Saudi Arabia to Islamist groups. Washington now claims that weapons sent to “moderates” are the best means of ensuring that Al Nusra’s dominant role can be challenged. This is supposed to be guaranteed by CIA oversight and training by US special operations forces. But the CIA will spend a mere two weeks vetting and training an initial group of fighters.
The US already has 1,000 troops in Jordan providing training.
France is considering sending arms “to balance” the military aid received by the Assad regime from Russia, Iran and Hezbollah, according to Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius.
In Britain, there is substantial domestic political opposition to sending arms, including within the ruling Conservative Party and its Liberal Democrat coalition partners. This has forced Prime Minister David Cameron to promise a vote in parliament on the issue that might make him dependent upon the opposition Labour Party.
Labour Leader Ed Miliband was invited Wednesday to discuss Syria at the National Security Council in 10 Downing Street. He was last invited to attend a National Security Council meeting in 2011, to sign off on the government’s decision to take military action against former Libyan leader Colonel Muammar Gaddafi.
Cameron has also said the government reserves the right to act in the national interest without parliamentary assent.
Washington’s reliance on Saudi Arabia to arm the opposition gives the lie to all claims that it is seeking to prevent Al Qaeda securing weapons, given Saudi intelligence agencies’ close ties to far-right Islamist forces throughout the region.
On Tuesday, speaking alongside US Secretary of State John Kerry, Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal said that Saudi Arabia would help the Syrian opposition fight in an “invaded country” that was facing “genocide” in “the most effective way we can.”
Saudi Arabia and Qatar will provide heavy weaponry, including hand-held surface-to-air missiles.
Kerry said, “We share a belief with Saudi Arabia and many countries that … this next period of time is an important period of time where decisions could be made that could affect the region for years to come.”
His only caveat on supplying weapons was that “we want to make sure that’s being done in a coordinated way.”
Reinforcing the demand for arms shipments, a team of United Nations inspectors are in Turkey, supposedly to gather information about the possible use of chemical weapons, headed by Swedish scientist Ake Sellstrom. He is expected to deliver an interim report in July, without any basis for doing so other than to justify a predetermined course of action and, in particular, the military offensive planned to begin in August.
A Turkish official admitted that it is not possible to establish anything conclusively, “As [Sellstrom] cannot travel to Syria.” All he will have will be intelligence and interviews provided by Turkey and alleged victims.
In Saudi Arabia, Kerry made the appropriate noises about seeking a negotiated solution and denied that there were any US or Saudi troops “on the ground” in Syria, because he is formally committed to a peace conference in Geneva—that again will not take place until after the planned military offensive.
Russia is an ally of the Assad regime and is insisting that it will be represented at the Geneva talks alongside Iran. The US also faces opposition from its allies including Italy and Germany to arming the opposition.
Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Friday that Russia is committed to arranging a peace conference, but other countries and groups are trying to set preconditions. “The opposition, which is supported by the West, and other countries in the region, announced they are not going to the conference as long as the regime doesn’t agree to capitulate,” he said.
On Wednesday, outgoing US ambassador to the UN Susan Rice attacked Russia and China for vetoing action against Syria, calling the UN Security Council’s inaction “a stain” on its reputation. “The council’s inaction on Syria is a moral and strategic disgrace that history will judge harshly,” she pontificated. Rice is set to become President Barack Obama’s national security adviser.
Russia this week announced that it has withdrawn all its military and non-diplomatic civilian personnel out of Syria, including an evacuation of the 70 people at its naval supply station in the Mediterranean port of Tartus. The move does not affect Russia’s ability to operate militarily in either the Mediterranean or in Syria, as Cyprus has agreed the use of its ports. A 16-ship naval task force is still in the eastern Mediterranean.
Politically, however, it indicates an assumption that an escalation of the war is imminent.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel made a diplomatic but nevertheless firm statement that Berlin would not supply weapons to the opposition. Speaking in parliament Thursday, she said that “The hardship of the people of Syria is immeasurably great, their situation is unbearable” and that “anyone with a heart” would want to help them.
“In this desperate situation, which is increasingly threatening the entire region, surely each of us can understand that our friends and partners the US, Britain and France are considering helping parts of the Syrian opposition with weapons shipments,” she said, but added, “Whether this approach can succeed is an entirely different question.”
“The risks, in my view, would be almost impossible to assess,” she said. At the G8 summit in Northern Ireland, she continued, “I made it unmistakably clear that Germany for legal reasons sends no weapons into civil war zones, including Syria.”
Washington, Berlin, London and Paris all face majority domestic opposition to their warmongering in Syria, with only the various pseudo-left groups such as the US International Socialist Organisation, Germany’s Die Linke, Britain’s Socialist Workers Party and France’s New Anti-capitalist Party still denying the obviously sectarian character of the opposition militias.
This week and last, new videos have emerged on YouTube of opposition fighters beheading and shooting Syrian civilians, including two women. Two men, beheaded with a small knife before a cheering crowd, were accused of aiding Assad and were reportedly a priest and another Christian.
On Thursday, four people were killed in a suicide blast in a Christian neighborhood in the Syrian capital, Damascus. The blast took place near the Greek Orthodox Virgin Mary Church in Bab Sharqi. Several people were wounded.

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US Army bars access to Guardian newspaper web site

By Kevin Reed 
29 June 2013
In response to Edward Snowden’s exposure of massive National Security Agency (NSA) spying on the public, the Army Network Enterprise Technology Command (NETCOM) has censored access to the Guardian newspaper’s web site throughout the US Army.
Reports of limited access by Army staff to the Guardian began to emerge shortly after Snowden’s revelations were first published by the British newspaper. Employees in several departments of the US Army Garrison Presidio of Monterey in California reported to the Monterey County Heraldthat access was being blocked.
The Herald wrote: “Employees could go to the Guardian’s US home page,, but were blocked from reading stories, such as NSA articles, that redirected to the British site, Presidio spokesman Dan Carpenter said.”
On Thursday, the Herald obtained a statement from NETCOM spokesman Gordon Van Vleet that the actions were, in fact, Army-wide. He said NETCOM was filtering “some access to press coverage and online content about NSA leaks.”
Van Fleet wrote: “The Department of Defense routinely takes preventive ‘network hygiene’ measures to mitigate unauthorized disclosures of classified information onto DoD unclassified networks.”
The implications of the US Army censorship were made plain in a statement from the Presidio of Monterey information assurance security officer, Jose Campos, who sent an email to base employees that said the Guardian’s web site was blocked by Army Cyber Command “in order to prevent unauthorized disclosure of classified information.” He wrote further that an employee who downloaded classified information could face disciplinary action if found to have knowingly downloaded material on an unclassified computer.
The Presidio of Monterey is primarily a training facility and houses the Defense Language Institute Foreign Language Center. There are approximately 3,000 civilian employees at the garrison as well as 1,450 Army students, 300 in the Marine Corps, 550 in the Navy and 1,300 in the Air Force. The Defense Language Institute teaches two-dozen foreign languages and the staff is made up of 2,000 instructors, 98 percent of whom are native speakers of the languages they teach.
It would appear that the staff at the Foreign Language Center was of particular concern because language specialists are an integral aspect of the signals intelligence work of the NSA and are deeply involved in cyber surveillance activities within the US and abroad.
The Monterey County Herald obtained and published the contents of a June 7 memorandum from the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense Timothy A. Davis to Defense Department security directors instructing them to warn employees and contractors that classified information posted on public web sites was still considered classified. Sent to the Presidio and other military installations, the memo read, “Leadership must establish a vigilant command climate that underscores the critical importance of safeguarding classified material against compromise.”
An attachment to the memo instructs employees on how to delete classified information if it is accidentally downloaded and also warns of sanctions if they “proliferate the information in any way.” NETCOM spokesman Van Vleet said the letter was meant as a “heads-up” and designed to remind Army staff, “Everyone’s under the same agreement that Snowden most likely signed.”
The military and intelligence establishment fears widespread knowledge within the ranks about the illegal activities of the NSA. It is worried that other employees or contractors may follow in Snowden’s footsteps and bring to the public’s attention more details of criminal enterprises of the US government.
The censorship and threats of sanctions for possession of information that is widely known by the public all over the world is aimed at bolstering the drive by the state to criminalize legitimate journalism . It is also aimed at preventing any discussion among government employees and military personnel about the implications and meaning of the exposures made by Snowden.
The Army’s censorship of a major international news source underscores the scale and ferocity of the assault on democratic rights being carried out by the Obama administration and the military/intelligence agencies. Their response to the exposure of the NSA’s seizure of the telephone records of all calls made in the US and its wire-tapping of electronic communications in the US and around the world is to step up their assault on democratic rights.
The censorship of the news coincides with an international manhunt and campaign of vilification directed against Snowden, who is being denounced by politicians, Democratic as well as Republican, and by the media as a spy and traitor. The US is seeking to seize the 30-year-old former NSA contractor, having indicted him under the Espionage Act.
The Obama administration has issued threats against China and Russia for their refusal to extradite Snowden to the US. It is believed the whistleblower is holed up in a transit lounge at the airport in Moscow, unable to travel further in part because the Obama administration has revoked his passport.
Meanwhile, Obama administration spokesmen have publicly denounced Snowden as a traitor, claiming that his efforts to inform the American people of massive and secret state surveillance—in violation of the US Constitution—constitute a violation of “national security.” Such statements by White House Press Secretary Jay Carney and others make a mockery of any claim that Snowden, were he to be captured and brought to the US, could receive a fair trial.
Obama’s assertions that the NSA programs are lawful and do not violate privacy rights are thoroughly exposed by the Army’s attempts to stop its personnel and employees from reading newspapers. Were such practices exposed in China or Iran, Washington and the US media would be denouncing their governments for violating human rights.
Unable to overcome popular support for Snowden and opposition to government surveillance, the US government is resorting to repression and intimidation.
Politicians and the media have increasingly targeted the few news media and journalists who have made Snowden’s exposures available to the public. In recent days, there have been growing demands from Congressmen for theGuardian ’s Glenn Greenwald to be prosecuted for interviewing Snowden and publishing stories based on his revelations. Last Sunday, David Gregory, the moderator of NBC News’ “Meet the Press” program, demanded that Greenwald explain why he should not be prosecuted.
The widening witch-hunt reflects the fear and hysteria within the state and the political establishment over the exposure of their attacks on democratic rights. At the same time, the official response demonstrates the degree to which authoritarian conceptions permeate the ruling elite and the very advanced state of its preparations for dictatorial forms of rule.
The World Socialist Web Site and the Socialist Equality Party are calling on all working people, youth and students to come to the defense of Edward Snowden, as well as Private Bradley Manning and Julian Assange. Their defense and the demand that all charges against them be dropped are an essential part of the development of a mass, independent political movement of the working class in defense of democratic rights.
Click here to get involved in this campaign.

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The EU’s fraudulent “call to action” on youth unemployment

Fact or Fiction? Ecuador Cools on Edward Snowden Asylum as Assange Frustration Grows

President Correa revokes Snowden’s temporary travel document amid concerns WikiLeaks founder is ‘running the show’
By Rory Carroll in Quito and Amanda Holpuch in New York
President Correa declared that the safe conduct pass issued by Ecuador’s London consul – in collaboration with Assange – was unauthorised. Photograph: EPA
June 28, 2013 “Information Clearing House – “The Guardian” — The plan to spirit the surveillance whistleblower Edward Snowden to sanctuary in Latin America appeared to be unravelling on Friday, amid tension between Ecuador‘s government and Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks.
President Rafael Correa halted an effort to help Snowden leave Russia amid concern Assange was usurping the role of the Ecuadoran government, according to leaked diplomatic correspondence published on Friday.
Amid signs Quito was cooling with Snowden and irritated with Assange, Correa declared invalid a temporary travel document which could have helped extract Snowden from his reported location in Moscow.
Correa declared that the safe conduct pass issued by Ecuador’s London consul – in collaboration with Assange – was unauthorised, after other Ecuadorean diplomats privately said the WikiLeaks founder could be perceived as “running the show”.
According to the correspondence, which was obtained by the Spanish-language broadcaster Univision and shared with the Wall Street Journal, divisions over Assange have roiled Ecuador’s government.
Ecuador’s ambassador to the US, Nathalie Cely, told presidential spokesman Fernando Alvarado that Quito’s role in the drama was being overshadowed by the WikiLeaks founder, who has sheltered in Ecuador’s London embassy for the past year to avoid extradition.
“I suggest talking to Assange to better control the communications. From outside, [Assange] appears to be running the show.”
Earlier this week a senior foreign diplomat in Quito told the Guardian that some – though not all – factions in the government were annoyed with what they saw as Assange grandstanding.
In a message attributed to Assange sent to Ecuador’s foreign minister, Ricardo Patiño, and other top officials, the WikiLeaks founder apologised “if we have unwittingly [caused] Ecuador discomfort in the Snowden matter.” The note continued: “There is a fog of war due to the rapid nature of events. If similar events arise you can be assured that they do not originate in any lack of respect or concern for Ecuador or its government.”
Assange appears to have had a strong role in obtaining the travel document for Snowden, dated 22 June which bore the printed name, but not signature, of the London consul, Fidel Narvaez, a confidante. By mid-week Narvaez was reportedly in Moscow.
The document could have helped Snowden, whose US passport has been revoked, leave the transit lounge of Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport where he has reportedly holed up since fleeing Hong Kong last weekend.
On Thursday, Correa, who previously has hailed Snowden for exposing US spying, and has earned kudos for defying Washington pressure over the affair, reduced Snowden’s chances of making it to Quito.
At a press conference the president declared the travel document invalid and said Ecuador would not consider an asylum request unless Snowden reached Ecuadorean territory, an increasingly remote prospect.
“The situation of Mr Snowden is a complex situation and we don’t know how he will solve it.”
Correa did however ramp up defiance of the US by waiving preferential trade rights to thwart what officials called Washington “blackmail”. Analysts said Correa, an economist who specialised in game theory, had so far skilfully extracted political capital from the saga without drawing US retaliation.
In a TV interview on Friday, Snowden’s father said said he was worried about the involvement of WikiLeaks. “I don’t want to put him in peril, but I am concerned about those who surround him,” Lonnie Snowden told NBC.
“I think WikiLeaks, if you’ve looked at past history … their focus isn’t necessarily the constitution of the United States. It’s simply to release as much information as possible.”
Snowden said he did not believe his son had betrayed his country. “At this point, I don’t feel that he’s committed treason. He has broken US law, in a sense that he has released classified information. And if folks want to classify him as a traitor, in fact he has betrayed his government. But I don’t believe that he’s betrayed the people of the United States.”
Snowden said he had told US attorney general Eric Holder through his lawyer that his son might return home if he would not be detained before trial, could choose the location for his trial and would not be subjected to a gag order. It was not clear that Lonnie Snowden was communicating his son’s views, as he also said they had not spoken since April.

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Syria: the Art of Standing on the Right Side of History

Horrific Video of Beheading Raises Questions of Arms Supply to Syrian Rebels

Video Report By RT

Another act of brutal violence reportedly by Syrian rebels has appeared on the web. Unverified video shows the beheading of 3 supposed government supporters. The title of the graphic footage suggests an orthodox Christian bishop was among the victims, although other reports claim he’d been shot dead in an assault on a monastery

Posted June 28, 2013

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The Executive Branch of the U.S. Government World’s Most Evil and Lawless Institution?

NSA Collected US Email Records In Bulk For More Than Two Years Under Obama

Ecuador Snubs US Trade ‘Blackmail’ Over Snowden, Offers Human Rights Training

June 28, 2013 “Information Clearing House – “RT” — Ecuador renounced trade benefits which the US threatened to revoke over the Latin American country’s consideration of harboring NSA leaker Edward Snowden. It offered $23 million a year to fund human rights education for Americans instead.
The government of leftist President Rafael Correa came up with an angry response on Thursday after an influential US senator said he would use his leverage over trade issues to cut preferential treatment of Ecuadoran goods at the US market, should Ecuador grant political asylum to Snowden.
“Ecuador will not accept pressures or threats from anyone, and it does not traffic in its values or allow them to be subjugated to mercantile interests,” government spokesman Fernando Alvarado said at a news conference.
He added that Ecuador is willing to allocate $23 million annually, an equivalent of the sum that it gained from the benefits, to fund human rights training in the US. It will “avoid violations of privacy, torture and other actions that are denigrating to humanity,” Alvarado said.
US Senator Robert Menendez, who heads the Foreign Relations Committee in the Senate, said this week that Ecuador risks losing the benefits it enjoys under two trade programs because of its stance on the NSA whistleblower. 
“Our government will not reward countries for bad behavior,” he said.
The US is Ecuador’s prime trade partner, with over 40 percent of exports going to the US market.
Both programs were due to expire by the end of next month and were subject to congressional review. Before the Snowden debacle arose, the US legislature was expected to scrap one of them while renewing another one.
Snowden has applied for political asylum, hoping to find protection from American prosecutors, who charged him with espionage over his leaking of classified documents on US surveillance programs.
He is currently thought to be staying in the transit zone of a Moscow airport. He became stranded in the Russian capital after arriving from Hong Kong, because the US annulled his travel passport as part of its effort to get him to American soil for trial.
World order unjust and immoral!’ Ecuador’s Correa rips into Snowden coverage
Ecuador’s President Rafael Correa came up with scalding online remarks over criticism his country faced from the US press for potentially granting asylum to NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden.
“They’ve managed to focus attention on Snowden and on the ‘wicked’ countries that ‘support’ him, making us forget the terrible things against the US people and the whole world that he denounced,” Correa said Wednesday in response to a Tuesday Washington Post editorial.
“The world order isn’t only unjust, it’s immoral,” Correa added.
The US newspaper accused Correa of adhering to double standards in the NSA leaker case, as Ecuador is considering harboring Snowden from prosecution over US espionage charges. It descried the Ecuadoran president as “the autocratic leader of a tiny, impoverished” country with an ambition to replace the late Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez as “the hemisphere’s preeminent anti-US demagogue”.
The Washington Post lashed out at a legislation recently adopted by Ecuador, saying that it diminishes freedom of press. It also said Ecuador is profiting from duty-free trade with the US while criticizing Washington’s policies.
Earlier this week US Secretary of State John Kerry chose rhetoric similar to that of the Washington Post as he admonished China and Russia for failing to apprehend Snowden and extradite him for trial in America.
“I wonder if Snowden chose Russia or China for assistance because they are such bastions of internet freedom,” he said sarcastically.
Cost of non-compliance
US officials are also mounting pressure on Ecuador over its stance in the leaker debacle. Senator Robert Menendez, who heads the Foreign Relations Committee in the Senate, said such a move would hurt Ecuador’s international trade, which is highly dependent on export to the US.
“Our government will not reward countries for bad behavior,” the influential US lawmaker said, as he was warning that he would target two trade programs with Ecuador for accepting the NSA leaker.
Menendez said he would lead the effort to prevent the renewal of Ecuador’s duty-free access to US markets under the Generalized System of Preferences program. He also said he would block renewal of the Andean Trade Promotion and Drug Eradication Act (ATPDEA). Both programs expire at the end of next month.
Bunches of roses from Ecuador are stacked for delivery at Liberty Wholesale in the flower market.(Reuters / Lucy Nicholson)
The major commodities of Ecuador’s export to the US are crude oil, cut flowers, fruits and vegetables, shrimp and prawns. Duty-free access to US markets is supporting roughly 400,000 jobs in the country of 14 million people.
Ecuador is the last remaining recipient of the ATPDEA, which used to include Bolivia, Colombia and Peru in the past and was not expected to be renewed for Ecuador even before Snowden came up with his revelations of the US phone and internet surveillance programs.
The country has been lobbying the Obama administration to include additional goods under the Generalized System of Preferences program to soften the blow from the cancellation.

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The Personal Side Of Taking On The NSA: Emerging Smears

Hey, MSM: All Journalism is Advocacy Journalism

By Matt Taibbi
June 28, 2013 “Information Clearing House – “Rolling Stone” — So New York Times Dealbook writer Andrew Ross Sorkin has apologized to journalist Glenn Greenwald for saying he’d “almost arrest” him, for his supposed aid and comfort of NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden. “I veered into hyperbole,” was Sorkin’s explanation.
I got into trouble the other day on Twitter for asking if David Gregory may have just had a “brain fart” when he asked Greenwald his infamous question, “To the extent that you have aided and abetted Snowden, even in his current movements, why shouldn’t you be charged with a crime?” I hadn’t seen the show and had only read the quote, and quite frankly, I don’t watch a lot of David Gregory. Apparently, in context, even the question I asked is absurd (more on that later). But Sorkin is different. For Sorkin to call his outburst an accident, that I know is hilarious. 
Did he also “veer into” a long career as a shameless, ball-gargling prostitute for Wall Street? As Jeff Cohen eloquently pointed out onHuffPo, isn’t Sorkin the guy who’s always bragging about how close he is to top bankers and parroting their views on things? This is a man who admitted, in print, that he only went down to Zucotti Park after a bank C.E.O. asked him, “Is this Occupy thing a big deal?”
(Sorkin’s reassuring response: “As I wandered around the park, it was clear to me that most bankers probably don’t have to worry about being in imminent personal danger . . .”)
And when Senator Carl Levin’s report about Goldman’s “Big Short” and deals like Abacus and Timberwolf came out, it was Sorkin who released a lengthy screed in Dealbook defending Goldman, one I instantly recognized as being nearly indistinguishable from the excuses I’d heard from Goldman’s own P.R. people.
But the biggest clue that Sorkin’s take on Greenwald was no accident came in the rest of that same Squawk Box appearance (emphasis mine):
I feel like, A, we’ve screwed this up, even letting him get to Russia. B, clearly the Chinese hate us to even let him out of the country.
I would arrest him . . . and now I would almost arrest Glenn Greenwald, who’s the journalist who seems to want to help him get to Ecuador.
We? Wow. That’s a scene straight out of Malcolm X. (“What’s the matter, boss, we sick?”) As a journalist, when you start speaking about political power in the first person plural, it’s pretty much glue-factory time.
The irony of all of this is that this whole discussion is taking place in a phony “debate” that’s now being cooked up about the legitimacy of advocacy journalism, which is exactly what Sorkin practices when he goes down to Zucotti Park on behalf of a bank CEO or when he talks about how “we” screwed up, letting Snowden out of the country. Preposterously, they’ve made the debate about Glenn Greenwald, who absolutely does practice advocacy journalism. But to pretend he’s the only one is lunacy.
All journalism is advocacy journalism. No matter how it’s presented, every report by every reporter advances someone’s point of view. The advocacy can be hidden, as it is in the monotone narration of a news anchor for a big network like CBS or NBC (where the biases of advertisers and corporate backers like GE are disguised in a thousand subtle ways), or it can be out in the open, as it proudly is with Greenwald, or graspingly with Sorkin, or institutionally with a company like Fox.
But to pretend there’s such a thing as journalism without advocacy is just silly; nobody in this business really takes that concept seriously. “Objectivity” is a fairy tale invented purely for the consumption of the credulous public, sort of like the Santa Claus myth. Obviously, journalists can strive to be balanced and objective, but that’s all it is, striving.
Try as hard as you want, a point of view will come forward in your story. Open any newspaper from the Thirties or Forties, check the sports page; the guy who wrote up the box score, did he have a political point of view? He probably didn’t think so. But viewed with 70 or 80 years of hindsight, covering a baseball game where blacks weren’t allowed to play without mentioning the fact, that’s apology and advocacy. Any journalist with half a brain knows that the biases of our time are always buried in our coverage.
Like many others, in my career I decided early on that I’d rather be out in the open about my opinions, and let readers know what my biases are to the extent that I can. I recognize, however, that there’s value in the other kind of reporting, where papers like the Timesstrive to take personal opinions out of the coverage and shoot for a “Just the facts, Ma’am” style. The value there is that people trust that approach, and readers implicitly enter into a contract with the newspaper or TV station that takes it, assuming that the organization will honestly try to show all points of view dispassionately.
Some organizations do a great job of that, but others often violate that contract, and carefully choose which “Just facts” to present and which ones to ignore, so as to put certain political or financial interests in a better light. But that doesn’t mean the approach per se is illegitimate. It’s just different.
What’s frightening now is that we suddenly have talk from people who ought to know better, not only advancing the childish lie that Glenn Greenwald and his ilk are the world’s only advocacy journalists, but also that the legitimacy of such journalists is even in question.
Gregory, I later found out, shamelessly went there in his exchange with Greenwald, saying, “Well, the question of who’s a journalist may be up to a debate with regards to what you’re doing.”
But even crazier was a subsequent Washington Post article, also cited by Cohen, entitled “On NSA disclosures, has Glenn Greenwald become something other than a reporter?” The article was unintentionally comic and surrealistic because despite writer Paul Farhi’s above-the-fray tone, the mere decision to write such a piece is a classic demonstration of the aforementioned brand of hidden-bias, non-advocacy advocacy.
I mean, why not write exactly the same piece, but ask whether Andrew Ross Sorkin or David Gregory in this scandal has become something other than a reporter? One could make exactly the same argument using the behaviors of those two as the hook. The editorial decision to make it about Glenn was therefore a major piece of advocacy, despite the “agnostic” language employed in the piece (straight-news editors love the term “agnostic” and hilariously often think it applies to them, when in fact they usually confine their doubts to permitted realms of thought).
The Post piece was full of the usual chin-scratching claptrap about whether it’s appropriate for journalists to have opinions, noting that “the line between journalism – traditionally, the dispassionate reporting of facts – and outright involvement in the news seems blurrier than ever.”
This is crazy – news organizations are always involved in the news. Just ask the citizens of Iraq, who wouldn’t have spent the last decade in a war zone had every TV network in America not credulously cheered the White House on when it blundered and bombed its way into Baghdad on bogus WMD claims. Ask Howard Dean, whom I watched being driven literally bonkers by the endless questions posed by “dispassionate” reporters about whether or not he was “too left” or “too strident” to be president, questions they were being spoon-fed in bars along the campaign trail late at night by Democratic Party hacks who resented the fact that Dean went through outside channels (i.e. the Internet) to get campaign funding, and in his speeches was calling out the Dems’ pathetic cave-in on the Iraq issue.
Even worse was this quote in the Post piece from a University professor:
Edward Wasserman, dean of the University of California at Berkeley’s journalism school, said having a “social commitment” doesn’t disqualify anyone from being a journalist. But the public should remain skeptical of reporters who are also advocates. “Do we know if he’s pulling his punches or has his fingers on the scale because some information that should he should be reporting doesn’t fit [with his cause]?” Wasserman asked in an interview. “If that’s the case, he should be castigated.”
Wasserman, the piece pointed out, noted that he hadn’t seen such cause for alarm in Greenwald’s case. But even so, his opinion is astonishing. We should be skeptical of reporters who are advocates, because they might be pulling punches to advance a cause?
Well . . . that’s true. But only if we’re talking about all reporters, because all reporters are advocates. If we’re only talking about people like Glenn Greenwald, who are open about their advocacy, that’s a crazy thing to say. People should be skeptical of everything they read. In fact, people should be more skeptical of reporters who claim not to be advocates, because those people are almost always lying, whether they know it or not.
The truly scary thing about all of this is that we’re living in an age where some very strange decisions are being made about who deserves rights, and who doesn’t. Someone shooting at an American soldier in Afghanistan (or who is even alleged to have done so) isn’t really a soldier, and therefore isn’t really protected by the Geneva Conventions, and therefore can be whisked away for life to some extralegal detention center. We can kill some Americans by drone attacks without trial because they’d ceased to have rights once they become enemy combatants, a determination made not collectively but by some Star Chamber somewhere.
Some people apparently get the full human-rights coverage; some people on the other end aren’t really 100 percent people, so they don’t.
That’s what makes this new debate about Greenwald and advocacy journalism so insidious. Journalists of all kinds have long enjoyed certain legal protections, and those protections are essential to a functioning free press. The easiest way around those protections is simply to declare some people “not journalists.” Ten years ago, I would have thought the idea is crazy, but now any journalist would be nuts not to worry about it. Who are these people to decide who’s a journalist and who isn’t? Is there anything more obnoxious than a priesthood?

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Big Brother, not Snowden and Greenwald, Is the Story

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