Julian Assange, Chelsea Manning and Edward Snowden Nominated Together for the 2021 Nobel Peace Prize

Source: Culture of Peace News Network

Ms. Mairead Maguire, Nobel Peace Laureate, has today nominated Julian Assange, Chelsea Manning, and Edward Snowden for the 2021 Nobel Peace Prize.

In her nomination letter to Nobel Committee in Oslo, Ms. Maguire wrote:

“My reasons for nominating them together are simple.   Individually each has given countless examples of courage exposing governments’ illegal actions that caused millions of deaths – putting their own freedom and lives on the line.

“Collectively, their lives of self-sacrifice and selflessness constitute remarkable demonstrations of the magnificence of the human spirit.   They are indeed breathtaking testimonies to the goodness inherent in the human heart.

“The Nobel Committee could protect and help save the lives of these three Champions of Peace by awarding them the 2021 Nobel Peace Prize.  By doing so the Committee would honor the will of Nobel, in acknowledging true heroes of Peace.   The Nobel Committee would also give great hope to publishers, journalists, writers, and many who face repression and persecution by their governments as they struggle to be writers of truth and history of humanity.”

4th January 2021

The Norwegian Nobel Committee
Henrik Ibsen’s gate 51
O255 Oslo, Norway

Subject:  Nomination of Julian Assange, Chelsea Manning, and Edward Snowden for the 2021 Nobel Peace Prize

Dear Members of the Norwegian Nobel Committee, I hope this finds you well.
I am herein nominating these three individuals, as a group, for the 2021 Nobel Peace Prize.

All three have been individually nominated in previous years for the Peace Prize, but none received it to date. My reasons for nominating them together are simple.

Individually, each has given countless examples of courage exposing governments’ illegal actions that caused millions of deaths—putting their own freedoms and lives on the line.

Collectively, their lives of self-sacrifice and selflessness constitute remarkable demonstrations of the magnificence of the human spirit. They are indeed breathtaking testimonies to the goodness inherent in the human heart.

Today around the world, when we listen or read about violence, militarism, poverty, war, pandemics, climate change, and particularly the suffering of millions of little children hungry in a rich world, it is hard not to feel despair and wonder… ‘where is the hope?’  However, the hope lies in the lives of ordinary people doing extraordinary things to serve and help others even sometimes at the cost of their own lives.


Edward Snowden, Julian Assange and Chelsea Manning Nominated for 2020 Nobel Peace Prize

By  Aaron Kesel | Activist Post

Two whistleblowers—Chelsea Manning and Edward Snowden—were nominated alongside WikiLeaks journalist and former editor-in-chief Julian Assange for the Nobel Peace Prize of 2020 by 17 members of a German parliamentary group.

Żaklin Nastić (MdB) writes:

I am one of a total of 17 members of our parliamentary group who have nominated Julian Assange, Chelsea Manning and Edward Snowden for the 2020 Nobel Peace Prize. These brave people should not be criminalized but should be recognized and honored. The war criminals and their henchmen must be held accountable.

We feel that Assange, Manning and Snowden have to be recognized for their ‘unprecedented contributions to the pursuit of peace and their immense personal sacrifices to promote peace for all.’ With the unveiling of US war crimes in Afghanistan and Iraq and the global surveillance program of the US secret services, the three have ‘exposed the architecture of war and strengthened the architecture of peace’.

The full letter was published on the Courage Foundation’s website and reads:

Dear Members of the Norwegian Nobel Committee,

We wish to nominate Julian Assange, Chelsea Manning and Edward Snowden for the 2020 Nobel Peace Prize, in honour of their unparalleled contributions to the pursuit of peace, and their immense personal sacrifices to promote peace for all.

The year 2020 began with Julian Assange arbitrarily detained and tortured, at risk of death according to the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture and over 100 medical doctors, for revealing the extent of harm and illegality behind the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. 2020 began with Chelsea Manning in her secound year of renewed imprisonment for resisting to testify to a Grand Jury empaneled against Wikileaks, after having also been imprisoned seven years previously and tortured, following her disclosures that were published by Julian Assange. 2020 began with Edward Snowden in his 7th year of asylum for revealing illegal mass surveillance, in defence of the liberties underpinning revelations such as those made by Chelsea Manning and Julian Assange.

The Collateral Murder video, provided by Chelsea Manning in 2010 and published by Wikileaks, honoured the dignity of those slain needlessly in war. It gave names and identities to victims whose humanity had been kept from public view, capturing the last moments of life for a young Reuters photojournalist, Namir Noor-Eldeen. Namir, who was killed in cold blood while on assignment in Baghdad, was described by his colleagues as among “the pre-eminent war photographers in Iraq” with “a tender eye that brought humanity via quiet moments to a vicious war”.

For humanising Namir and his driver Saeed Chmagh, a father of four, slain in front of two children who sat strafed with bullets in a van, Julian Assange faces 175 years in a US prison under the 1917 Espionage Act, and Chelsea Manning is currently detained without charge.

As well as humanising innocent victims of war, in 2010 Julian Assange and Wikileaks exposed the means by which public abhorrence of killing is overcome, and peace subverted, by psychological manipulation and strategic messaging.

In March 2010 the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) produced a memorandum, subsequently published by Wikileaks, entitled, Afghanistan: Sustaining West European Support for the NATO-led Mission-Why Counting on Apathy Might Not Be Enough.

At the time of the memorandum, 80 percent of French and German publics opposed greater troop deployment to Afghanistan. The memo expressed concern that public “indifference might turn into active hostility if spring and summer fighting results in an upsurge in military or Afghan civilian casualties.” To overcome public opposition to the “bloody summer” ahead, the memorandum advised tailoring messages for French audiences that “could tap into acute French concern for civilians and refugees,” given that French “opponents most commonly argued that the mission hurts civilians.”

“Appeals by President Obama and Afghan women might gain traction” the memorandum added.

With respect to the legalities of peace, Julian Assange and Wikileaks have contributed to the historical record on the International Criminal Court (ICC), established in 2002 under the Rome Statute of 1998, to promote the “peace, security and well-being of the world.” The ICC’s mission was to end impunity by prosecuting “the worst atrocities known to mankind”: war crimes, crimes against humanity and the crime of genocide.

When the ICC’s enforcement capabilities were taking shape in the years following its inception, cables published by WikiLeaks exposed bilateral deals between nations under Article 98 of the Rome Statute, in which states placed themselves outside the ICC’s jurisdiction. The Article 98 deals undercut the ICC’s power to prosecute war crimes and other internationally illegal obstacles to a peaceful world order.

Later, in 2013, when Edward Snowden revealed the warrantless masssurveillance of citizens and officials worldwide, he exposed an immense global network with the capability to intercept and obstruct peace proponents such as Chelsea Manning and Julian Assange. Edward Snowden’s revelations have contributed to international investigations, transparency initiatives and legislative reforms around the globe.

These are but a selection of the contributions that Julian Assange, Chelsea Manning and Edward Snowden have made towards pursuing and defending lasting peace.

Together, their actions have exposed the architecture of abuse and war, and fortified the architecture of peace. In return, all three individuals have been forced to sacrifice the very liberties, rights and human welfare that they worked so hard to defend.

A Nobel Peace Prize for Julian Assange, Chelsea Manning and Edward Snowden would do more than honour their actions as individuals. It would ennoble the risks and sacrifices that those pursuing peace so often undertake, to secure the peace and freedom for all.


Sevim Dağdelen Member of the German Bundestag

Doris Achelwilm Member of the German Bundestag

Diether Dehm Member of the German Bundestag

Sylvia Gabelmann Member of the German Bundestag

Heike Hänsel Member of the German Bundestag

Andrej Hunko Member of the German Bundestag

Ulla Jelpke Member of the German Bundestag

Jutta Krellmann Member of the German Bundestag

Fabio De Masi Member of the German Bundestag

Żaklin Nastić Member of the German Bundestag

Dr. Alexander S. Neu Member of the German Bundestag

Eva-Maria Schreiber Member of the German Bundestag

Alexander Ulrich Member of the German Bundestag

Kathrin Vogler Member of the German Bundestag

Andreas Wagner Member of the German Bundestag

Pia Zimmermann Member of the German Bundestag

Sabine Zimmermann Member of the German Bundestag.

It is worth noting that Bundestag Die Linke member Pascal Meiser called for the asylum of the publisher and whistleblower in Germany last year. According to the letter, Meiser didn’t sign the nomination appeal for the Nobel Peace Prize.

Earlier this month, more than 130 prominent figures in Germany from the world of art, politics, and the media signed an appeal for the release of Julian Assange, including former German vice-chancellor Sigmar Gabriel and Nobel Prize winner Elfriede Jelinek, DW reported.

Assange has won a total of twenty awards, Manning has won eleven, and Snowden has won nine for their individual bravery helping to shed light on the truth. Last year, Assange’s friend Nobel Peace Prize laureate Mairead Maguire accepted the joint GUE/NGL prize for Journalists, Whistleblowers, and Defenders of the Right to Information.

For that award, Assange was nominated by Courage Foundation “based on his contributions to journalism and whistleblower protections, his dire circumstances and need for public support, and what his case means for journalists and whistleblowers around the world,” the Courage Foundation wrote.

Maguire gave an incredible heart-wrenching speech in support of her friend Julian Assange during the acceptance speech stressing he exposed corruption and the war empire.

Assange is set to face trial for extradition on February 24 for publishing documents that exposed corruption and U.S. war crimes. Protests are planned all over the world as the future of press freedom lies in the outcome of just one man’s case.

Last year in April, Assange was dragged out of the Ecuadorian Embassy in violation of 2 UN rulings following the withdrawal of his asylum status by the Ecuadorian government.

Assange faces 175 years in the United States if convicted of exposing war crimes and various corruption within the United States, 17 charges of which are under the Espionage Act. In total, Assange faces 18 charges including an absurd charge under the CFAA for “computer hacking” by helping his source, Chelsea Manning, protect herself against being discovered to leak him information.

By Aaron Kesel | Creative Commons | TheMindUnleashed.com

Leaks, Fake News, Hidden Agendas — Analyzing Mainstream News Anti-Logic

By Jon Rappoport | Activist Post

Thousands of articles have been written about the so-called Russian hack of the US election. The term “Russian hack” suggests the Russkies actually found a way to subvert the results of voting machines.

But of course, no convincing evidence has been presented to support such a charge. In fact, when you drill down a few inches below the surface, you find this charge instead: Russia hacked into email accounts and scooped up Hillary, DNC, and Podesta emails, and passed them to WikiLeaks, who then published them.

No chain of evidence supporting this claim has been presented to the public, either. But even assuming the assertion is true, an important factor is intentionally being ignored: THE CONTENT OF THOSE LEAKED EMAILS.

In other words, if making all this content publicly available cost Hillary the election, and if no one is seriously questioning the authenticity of the emails, then THE TRUTH undermined Hillary. However, no major media outlet is reporting the story from that angle.


Those headlines would attract millions of clicks. Why weren’t they printed? Big news outlets didn’t want readers to think about the story from that perspective.

Why not? Why was the heavy emphasis put on the hacking of the emails? To obscure the importance of their content: for example, DNC collusion to obstruct and undermine the campaign of Bernie Sanders.

“Let’s make the story all about WHO we claim stole the emails, rather than WHAT THE EMAILS CONTAINED.”

When a tape surfaced in which Trump spoke about women who were eager to have sex with famous men, did major media make the story all about who had the tape and who released it to the press? No.

Perhaps you remember this 2009 email-hack controversy. Wikipedia sums it up: “The Climatic Research Unit email controversy (also known as “Climategate”) began in November 2009 with the hacking of a server at the Climatic Research Unit (CRU) at the University of East Anglia (UEA) by an external attacker, copying thousands of emails and computer files, the Climatic Research Unit documents, to various internet locations several weeks before the Copenhagen Summit on climate change.”

One of the most revealing elements in the email exchanges: an obvious attempt to sideline scientific critics of global warming. But major media quickly began to reframe the story. It was all about illegal hacking, and investigations were launched to determine the criminal. The contents of the emails were brushed off as “proprietary work product” and “misleading” because “context was missing.”

The case of Edward Snowden was somewhat different. There the media felt compelled to expose the CONTENT of the NSA documents Snowden stole. They also gave considerable space to Snowden himself. To some degree, this was a fait accompli, because The Guardian newspaper was committed, from the beginning, to publishing NSA documents and an analysis of their meaning—so other media outlets followed suit.

Big news media decide whether to focus on the WHO or the WHAT, in each case. “Should we give primary coverage to the leaker or what he leaked?”

But that is not a choice you are making. It’s a choice being made for you.

Government agencies and spokespeople leak news to the press all the time. In these instances, of course, the press doesn’t turn around and launch a probe aimed at exposing the WHO and discovering WHY a particular tidbit was passed along for publication. Newspapers and television news departments simply run with the stories.

“Okay, Bob. Here’s a little gem for you. The White House and the Congress are cooperating on this one. In the next few days, a piece of legislation is going to be inserted into a current bill in the House. It’ll establish a working group to combat ‘fake news’ operations that confuse the public…”

Does Bob, the reporter, bite the hand that feeds him? Does he write a story accusing his source of trying to knock out independent news competitors who contradict official reality? Of course not. Bob plays along.

Sometimes, both the WHO and the WHAT are censored. Such was the case with CDC whistleblower, William Thompson, who confessed publicly, in August of 2014, that he and colleagues at the CDC committed fraud in a 2004 study of the MMR vaccine, by covering up the vaccine’s connection to autism. Thompson admitted the study was cooked. The mainstream press put a chokehold on the story. Aside from scattered references, and official denials, the story faded quickly. The leaker and what he was leaking remained in the shadows. Independent news outlets (such as this one) kept the story percolating.

You can find examples of government actors spying on Trump—in these instances, the press decides to focus on the WHAT, the content gained from spying; and downplays the WHO, the people who green-lighted the surveillance.

There is no logic in the mainstream approach to leaks and leakers. The WHO and WHAT are decided on the basis of serving official interests and agendas—and repressing the public interest.

The NSA, with its gargantuan reach into the lives of the population (including government officials), has enough content to keep the press busy for the next 50 years reporting leaks; but the NSA decides when, and for what reasons, to hold back what it knows. Or to leak bits and pieces through cut-outs.

A seasoned reporter, who obtains a leak from a trusted source, doesn’t ask pressing questions about exactly who the source is fronting for.

The leaks-game is played over and over, and the rules of the game are shifted, depending on unrevealed agendas. Who do we want to expose this time? Who do we want to come out looking like a winner? Who are our friends at the CIA supporting?

Editors are there to keep reporters in line and correct oversights. Not in so many words, an editor would let a reporter know: “You picked the wrong source this time, Bob. Your guy is telling a story we don’t want to promote. Find a different source with a better take, in line with our agenda to attack (fill in a name).”

That’s what the editor means. But he might simply say: “Bob, that source of yours…I don’t trust him anymore. I’ve been hearing odd things about him. Don’t use him for this piece.” The reporter gets the message.

This technique of casual ad hominem criticism and rumor even extends to the realm of science. In 1987, a prestigious molecular biologist, Peter Duesberg, “leaked” what many virologists privately knew: the evidence for HIV as the cause of AIDS was full of gaping holes. Duesberg published a paper in the journal, Cancer Research, exposing the con.

Overnight, a whisper-campaign against Duesberg spread through the research community. “We always knew Duesberg was an odd duck. He likes publicity. He hates authority. He runs his mouth off. He doesn’t care about evidence. He’ll take a contrary position just to stand out.”

The game of leaks, sources, and fake news takes many shapes.

Welcome to mainstream news.

The author of three explosive collections, THE MATRIX REVEALEDEXIT FROM THE MATRIX, andPOWER OUTSIDE THE MATRIX, Jon was a candidate for a US Congressional seat in the 29th District of California. He maintains a consulting practice for private clients, the purpose of which is the expansion of personal creative power. Nominated for a Pulitzer Prize, he has worked as an investigative reporter for 30 years, writing articles on politics, medicine, and health for CBS Healthwatch, LA Weekly, Spin Magazine, Stern, and other newspapers and magazines in the US and Europe. Jon has delivered lectures and seminars on global politics, health, logic, and creative power to audiences around the world. You can sign up for his free emails at NoMoreFakeNews.com or OutsideTheRealityMachine.

Image credit: TFTP

Read more great articles at Activist Post.

Five Things Edward Snowden has Changed with His Damning NSA Disclosure


By Amando Flavio | We Are Anonymous

For us, the American computer professional who worked previously as a contractor for the National Security Agency (NSA), Edward Snowden, is a superhero.

Snowden made headlines around the world in 2013, after he copied and leaked classified information from the NSA belonging to the United States government. His disclosures revealed how the American government had covertly spied on its citizens – and the rest of the world – in the name of so-called national security.

The damning revelations exposed the American government, even among its allies. The Department of Justice later unsealed charges against Snowden, forcing him to seek asylum in Russia. Currently, Snowden is living at an undisclosed location in the vast country.

Related Article: 10 Orwellian Moments Found in the Newly Leaked Private NSA Newsletters

Truly, Snowden has sacrificed his freedom so that the rest of the world could be free from the diabolical and clandestine agenda of the United States government.

Three years now, into the exile of Snowden, we are looking at some of the things his disclosure has changed, especially in the United States. For the moment we are only looking at five, but will examine the rest in our subsequent publications.

NSA disclosure

NSA disclosure

First, government spying is no longer a secret. Due to the leak by Snowden, worldwide, people have become aware of a possible spying by their governments, and the Big Brother Orwell wrote about, is indeed, well and truly active.

Privacy activists have pushed for more anti-spying laws. In the United States for example, Congress ordered the NSA to end its bulk phone metadata collection program authorized by a particular portion—Section 215—of the Patriot Act. Under the new guidelines from Congress, the NSA may no longer directly collect and hold data about the domestic phone records of United States citizens. Although we cannot entirely trust the government, at least we have witnessed action taken on the issue, and the credit goes to nobody else other than Mr Snowden.

NSA disclosure

Another change Snowden brought about with his NSA leak, is that the majority of citizens of the United States today, oppose the NSA. In 2015, a poll published by the Pew Research revealed that the majority of Americans disapprove of the United States’ government’s collection of telephone and Internet data through the NSA. In fact, many don’t want to see the existence of the NSA, much less other intelligence agencies that continually violate their privacy. Who can we give the credit for raising the consciousness of the American people? Certainly, it is to Snowden that the credit should directly be attributed.

Related Article: Government Spying is “Chilling” Writers’ Freedom of Expression (Project Censored #7)

NSA disclosure

Again, Snowden has ensured that technology companies are adding better privacy settings to their platforms. Earlier this year, we witnessed the clash between technology giant Apple and the FBI, warring over the data of one of the San Bernardino shooters.  Even though the shooter was labeled as a terrorist, we saw the difficulty the FBI had to go through in its attempts to access the shooter’s data. Some observers even admitted that the clash between Apple and the FBI reflected the wider debates in the United States and elsewhere, regarding security measures used by technology companies to protect users of devices such as smartphones, and how much leverage authorities should have to gain special access. Here too, we can only credit Snowden for making this impossibility possible.

NSA disclosure

Again, by the help of Snowden, tighter laws have been enacted to restrict the operations of the NSA. Before the Snowden leak, the bulk phone metadata collection program was authorized by a particular portion—Section 215—of the United States Patriot Act. However, when Congress ordered the NSA to end the mass surveillance, the Freedom Act was enacted to restrict the operation of the NSA. With the Freedom Act now promulgated, the NSA will no longer be able to spy on citizens like it previously did.

NSA disclosure

Lastly, more and more people across the world are speaking out against mass surveillance becauseof Snowden’s self-sacrifice. Since Snowden exposed the NSA, we have seen an increased number of privacy activists holding public demonstrations and protests, telling the government of the harm the surveillance program is causing to people. In many major cities across the world, activists have gathered to express their displeasure on how governments’ steal their information without their consent. These activists have also called for all charges against Snowden to be dropped immediately.

You can see plainly see that Snowden has done something historically important for us. We paid him nothing, yet he sacrificed all he had, just to make us safe from our governments. Never stop praying for Snowden. Let’s continue to press for his freedom. Edward Snowden truly is a hero of our time!

This article (Five Things Edward Snowden has Changed with His Damning NSA Disclosure ) is a free and open source. You have permission to republish this article under a Creative Commons license with attribution to the author and AnonHQ.com.

Read more great articles at We Are Anonymous.

‘Shameful’: Yahoo Spied on Email Customers at Government’s Request

Snowden and others react to new allegations that Yahoo scanned all of its customers incoming emails last year on behalf of the government. (Image: Esther Vargas/flickr/cc)

Snowden and others react to new allegations that Yahoo scanned all of its customers incoming emails last year on behalf of the government. (Image: Esther Vargas/flickr/cc)

By Lauren McCauley | Common Dreams

In an astounding and “unprecedented” new account of U.S. government surveillance,Reuters reported Tuesday that Yahoo secretly scanned all of its customer’s incoming emails for a specific set of characters, per request of the National Security Agency (NSA) or FBI.

“The order issued to Yahoo appears to be unprecedented and unconstitutional. The government appears to have compelled Yahoo to conduct precisely the type of general, suspicionless search that the Fourth Amendment was intended to prohibit.” —Patrick Toomey, ACLU

The news agency broke the investigation after speaking with “two former employees and a third person apprised of the events,” who described how the email giant complied with the vast government directive and built a custom software program to scan hundreds of millions of accounts for a “specific set of characters.”

The classified directive was reportedly sent to the company’s legal team last year. “It is not known what information intelligence officials were looking for, only that they wanted Yahoo to search for a set of characters,” Reuters reported. “That could mean a phrase in an email or an attachment, said the sources, who did not want to be identified.”

Reporter Joseph Menn said that he was “unable to confirm whether the 2015 demand went to other companies, or if any complied.” Further, it is not known “what data Yahoo may have handed over, if any.”>

Related Article: Yahoo! Just Exposed One of the FBI’s Most Secretive Tricks to Unethically Obtain Your Info

Private surveillance experts consulted by the news outlet said they had “never seen” such a such a “broad directive for real-time Web collection or one that required the creation of a new computer program,” Reuters reported.

According to the reporting, the decision by Yahoo chief executive Marissa Mayer to comply with the government order inflamed some executives. Menn wrote:

They were also upset that Mayer and Yahoo General Counsel Ron Bell did not involve the company’s security team in the process, instead asking Yahoo’s email engineers to write a program to siphon off messages containing the character string the spies sought and store them for remote retrieval, according to the sources.

The sources said the program was discovered by Yahoo’s security team in May 2015, within weeks of its installation. The security team initially thought hackers had broken in.

When Stamos found out that Mayer had authorized the program, he resigned as chief information security officer and told his subordinates that he had been left out of a decision that hurt users’ security, the sources said. Due to a programming flaw, he told them hackers could have accessed the stored emails.

Rights groups were instantly outraged over the report.

Sherif Elsayed-Ali, head of technology and human rights at Amnesty International, minced no words when he declared that, “If true, this news will greatly undermine trust in the internet. For a company to secretly search all incoming email of all its customers in a response to a broad government directive would be a blow to privacy and a serious threat to freedom of expression.”

“I wonder how the candidates feel about Yahoo spying on every single customer’s emails for NSA/FBI. Will they defend this shameful practice?”
—Edward Snowden

“If true,” he continued, “this would demonstrate the failure of U.S. government reforms to curb NSA’s tendency to try and indiscriminately vacuum up the world’s data. The NSA has clearly not changed its spots.”

And Patrick Toomey, a staff attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), said the order issued “appears to be unprecedented and unconstitutional.”

“The government appears to have compelled Yahoo to conduct precisely the type of general, suspicion-less search that the Fourth Amendment was intended to prohibit,” he said in a press statement.

“It is deeply disappointing that Yahoo declined to challenge this sweeping surveillance order, because customers are counting on technology companies to stand up to novel spying demands in court,” Toomey continued. “If this surveillance was conducted under Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, this story reinforces the urgent need for Congress to reform the law to prevent dragnet surveillance and require increased transparency.”

Outcry was swift on social media:



And Mike Masnick noted at TechDirt that the news “comes out less than a week after the NY Times had a big report on how Mayer de-prioritized security, despite having built up a great team of computer security experts called ‘The Paranoids’.”

“Mayer apparently downplayed or blocked their efforts,” Masnick wrote, “leading many to go elsewhere.”

He continued:

Now, there are still a number of open questions about this: chief among them if others, such as Google, Microsoft, Facebook, and Twitter were similarly compelled to create similar software.

Related Article: Secret Surveillance Battle Between Yahoo and US Government Revealed

[…] It seems clear that Yahoo either didn’t think it could win a legal fight over this (certainly a possibility), or that it just didn’t want to. At the very least, this seems like yet another example of totally secretive rulemaking by the US government on what surveillance capabilities are legal, without any public review or adversarial process designed to make sure that civil liberties are protected. I know that many of the more paranoid folks out there think that the NSA already had deals with the big companies to scan all content, but they weren’t supposed to, and as far as we knew they did not as of a few years ago. But if that changed last year, that’s a big, big deal, and much more information needs to become public on this.

“This is a clear sign that people can trust neither their government nor their service providers to respect their privacy,” added Elsayed-Ali. “Free speech online, and in society in general, cannot thrive in a world where governments can pry into our private lives at will.”

Read more great articles at Common Dreams.

Assange, Manning and Snowden, Standing with the Conscience of Truthtellers

"Whistleblowers are true defenders of democracy," the author writes. (Photo: Tony Webster/flickr/cc)

“Whistleblowers are true defenders of democracy,” the author writes. (Photo: Tony Webster/flickr/cc)

By Nozomi Hayase | Common Dreams

Last week, Oliver Stone’s biopic “Snowden” hit the theaters. The film illuminates the life of Edward Snowden between 2004 and 2013, aiming to humanize one of the most wanted men in the world. Just before its release, a public campaign was launched urging President Obama to pardon this renowned NSA whistleblower.

The massive US government persecution of truthtellers over the past years has exiled conscience from civil society, locking it behind bars and driving it into asylum. Yet, despite these attacks, it refuses to die.

From prison where she is serving 35 years, Chelsea Manning is standing up for her dignity. Recently, she protested her dehumanizing treatment by engaging in a hunger strike. All the while, WikiLeaks editor in chief Julian Assange keeps publishing, giving asylum to the most persecuted documents, while being arbitrarily detained in the Ecuadorian embassy for the last 4 years. As this struggle continues, the torch for transparency and courage that kindled hearts and has sparked public debate keeps shedding light on the state of the world we live in.

Related Article: Wikileaks Founder Reveals More Reasons Why the TPP Should Never Become Law

In a debate with executive director of Freedom Press, Trevor Timm, which addressed the question of pardoning Snowden, National security attorney Bradley Moss expressed his disdain over the former NSA contractor providing information to the Press. He criticized Snowden’s act, noting how journalists are unauthorized to possess government information:

“There’s approximately 4 million people who also hold clearances. It is a sacred trust and Snowden broke it by giving these documents to people who were not authorized to have it.”

Moss’s statement revealed the culture of the Intelligence community that permeates the life of not only U.S. citizens, but of people around the globe. What is this “sacred trust” that Moss referred to that would give exclusive privilege to a certain population? Implied in Moss’s comment is that honoring this trust would take precedence over the right to free speech, requiring journalists to ask for permission to engage in activities that are supposedly protected under the First Amendment of the US Constitution. This signals the existence of an invisible governance that claims superiority over the highest law of the land.

Government Secrecy

There are some who have come to see the internal working of a patronage network that is bound within this exclusive trust. In his 2006 seminal writing Conspiracy as Governance,Assange noted how secrecy was used by political elites “as the primary planning methodology behind maintaining or strengthening authoritarian power”. He then assessedhow “collaborative secrecy, working to the detriment of a population is enough to define their behavior as conspiratorial”.

In his latest book, The WikiLeaks Files, Assange described how through seeing “a level of hysteria and non-corporeality” displayed by the intelligence community in reaction to WikiLeaks’ disclosures, he observed something “that is not easily captured by traditional theories of power”. He recognized how classified documents function as a tangible object that symbolizes a bond among those who are inside this secret network, in a similar way that “many religions and cults imbue their priestly class with additional scarcity value by keeping their religious texts secret from the public or the lower orders of the devoted”. Hepointed out how US government employees who have been cleared to read classified documents are forbidden to read the same documents when published by journalistic organizations like WikiLeaks:

“If cleared employees ever come across them, they are expected to self-report their contact with the newly profaned object, and destroy all traces of it … The implication is that there is a non-physical property that inhabits documents once they receive their classification markings, and that this marginal property is extinguished, not by copying the document, but by making the copy public. The now public document has, to devotees of the national security state, not merely become devoid of this marginal property and reverted to a mundane object, it has been inhabited by another non-physical property; an evil one.”

With over-classification, high ranking government officials maintain secrecy and a sense of exceptionalism. Once one goes through the clearance of this embedding process, one is invited into the inner circle to participate in a ritual to conspire. Here, elites who cut their ties from the rest of humanity have formed an exclusive allegiance to one another. They are essentially secret brotherhoods, who have elevated themselves above the law, claiming unearned authority and entitlement.

This conspiratorial governance floats above Congress. These self-selected elites have their own laws. They have their own secret judicial proceedings with the likes of the FISA Court. This state within a state can act as an empire of all states, making sealed court orders and commanding private payment companies to engage in for example the extra-judicialbanking blockade against WikiLeaks. It exercises its power in virtually any jurisdiction in the world, going after anyone they deem a threat to their structure of power. This is shown in the case of Kim Dotcom, founder of Megaupload, who was branded a fugitive and subject to an egregious civil asset forfeiture process by the US government.

Like the Dark Riders in J. R. R. Tolkien’s Middle-earth legendarium, major media outlets, political parties and candidate are bound to this sacred trust to act as servants for its elusive core. This became apparent with the DNC leaks, revealing the organization and media’s efforts to undermine the democratic process, along with the New York Timesblatantly acting as a mouthpiece for the Hillary Clinton campaign.

This unaccounted authority has been magnified with a complete double-standard toward other leaks. Retired US Army General and former CIA director General David Petraeusrevealed classified national security information to his mistress with little consequence and more recently, Hillary Clinton’s mishandling of classified materials was given leniency. All the while, whistleblowers who released information responsibly in the public interest, causing no harm have been aggressively prosecuted.

Entrapment through Deception

With government secrecy and propaganda, super-villains inside the ring of power have exploited the youth’s idealism and their genuine devotion for the country, making them serve their selfish interests. The USA Patriot ACT, a bill that gave intelligence agencies wide-ranging power in the post 9-11world unleashed a tyrannical monster that is blind to the terror it is creating, swallowing information indiscriminately.

Under the ubiquitous prying eyes of the NSA, the influence of this unelected power has expanded around the world. This invisible force of governance has been blending into the fabric of our culture through the private sector. With the growing market in mobile phones and Internet services, companies like Google have become agents to snare the masses into their vision of the future.

Related Article: The FBI Won’t Charge Hillary Clinton, So Edward Snowden Did This…

In his book When Google Met WikiLeaks, Assange revealed Google’s ties to the US State Department and to the former secretary of state, who will likely be anointed the next president. Assange brought attention to how this Internet giant is not as innocent as many think. He elucidated Google’s participation in mass surveillance and its political aspirations that is “firmly enmeshed within the foreign-policy agenda of the world’s largest superpower”. Through ‘marketing’ and chasing ads online, they prey on people, turning them into products. With friendly, progressive images offering free emails and data storage, this tech giant gains wide popularity and gets users to consent to terms and conditions of their services, making them pawns to advance geopolitical agendas.

To this priest class, whistleblowers that threaten the security of their sacred trust are their greatest enemies.With the power of social media and Internet, technology is now used as a strategic weapon against democracy. Recently Google was accused ofmanipulating search engines to create positive suggestions and hide negative terms for Hillary Clinton with its auto complete, inserting bias and intruding into people’s thought processes. It is not just corporate media that is used to influence national elections. Seemingly innocent and apolitical actors like Silicon Valley companies are also interfering with the democratic process by engaging in electronic manipulation and altering people’s views.

Persecuting Conscience with the Espionage Act

Those with conscience remember truth and the heritage of humanity – our intrinsic obligation to one another. They can find what is stolen from the public inside the castle of those who claim to be holier than the rest. Their courage to bring back what belongs to the public opened the door into these hidden halls of power. In the wake of such unauthorized disclosures, federal agencies have tried to tighten cyber-security to tackle these threats from within. They implemented new control mechanisms such as insider threat programsto detect and monitor those who may disrupt such exclusive lines of communication.

Many classified documents keep prestige in this rarefied air of power. Once they are unsealed by conscience, they lose this magical power. This unsealing challenges their god-like omnipotence, showing it to be a fantasy of grandeur created through collaborative secrecy, using dirty tricks, lies and manipulation. Released documents recollected in the public memory awakens a history that had been condemned to the oblivion of the hidden past.

To this priest class, whistleblowers that threaten the security of their sacred trust are their greatest enemies. Journalists who publish this material are treated as aiding traitors. Just as unsealed documents that have lost their scent of holiness in the temple need to be destroyed, so does the conscience of ordinary man that shines light into the darkness that binds them.

We are now seeing a kind of modern witch-hunt. The Espionage Act of 1917, a US federal law created after World War I for wartime prosecutions is now being used to burn the conscience of whistleblowers. This law does not allow a public interest defense and prevents whistleblowers from having their motivations considered in court, making it impossible for them to defend their acts and receive a fair trial.

Manning was convicted and Snowden charged under the Espionage Act by the President Obama, who has been at the helm of this empire state for 8 years. Obama with his kill-listexerts sole power emanating within the Executive branch, and can act as accuser, prosecutor, judge, jury and executioner all in one, completely unchecked, stripping off due process and can assassinate anyone, including US citizens.

Behind the smile of his promised transparency, Obama has also waged an unprecedented war against whistleblowers, hunting down those who defend press freedom and act in the public interest.

Obama signed into law the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that greatly expands the scope of government, allowing the military to detain US citizens without due process under these new anti-terrorism provisions. This unauthorized power has escalated. In his final months in the office, Obama vowed to seal the corporate trade deals of TPP, TTIP and TISA. This is a trade dictatorship by a self-selected group of rich countries where corporations can have governments completely subordinate to their interests, bringing entire populations around the globe to their knees.

Our Sacred Bond

Whistleblowers are true defenders of democracy. Both Manning and Snowden believed in ordinary people, in their ability to make vital decisions about their own lives. Manning once wrote how she wants “people to see the truth . . . regardless of who they are . . . because without information, you cannot make informed decisions as a public”. Snowden also expressed his sense of duty to return information to the public.

Their faith in one’s fellow human beings made them question and ultimately break what they had been indoctrinated to believe as a “sacred trust”. Snowden woke up to the fact the government that he had believed in all his life was engaged in “an extraordinary act of deception”. He now reminds government workers how their “first allegiance as a public servant is to the public rather than to the government”.

By acting on behalf of the people, these truthtellers revealed true sacred trust that is inscribed in our hearts – the same breath that inspired the founding documents of the United States. In her request for a presidential pardon in 2013, Manning wrote how her time in Iraq made her “question the morality of America’s military presence since 9/11” and she realized that “in our efforts to meet the risks posed to us by the enemy, we had forgotten our Humanity”. She continued:

“I will serve my time knowing that sometimes you have to pay a heavy price to live in a free society. I will gladly pay that price if it means we could have a country that is truly conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all women and men are created equal.”

These patriots of the Internet generation pledged allegiance to trust in the common man, reminding us of a kinship that binds us all together, regardless of religion, gender and nationality. When the system cannot self-correct according to the ideals that founded this country through its internal mechanism of checks and balances, efforts to achieve such goals have to come from outside existing models of democracy. A call for Presidential pardon for Snowden must become a larger political resistance. Efforts to free these brave souls ask each of us to step forward to respond to their extraordinary courage.

The resilience of truthtellers in the face of this adversity teaches us that truly nothing else will do if our courage is not to fail us. In the court of public opinion formed through our uncompromising power, we can claim that the highest law of the land is that of the commons enshrined in our own sacredness – in the conscience of ordinary people.

Nozomi Hayase

Nozomi Hayase, Ph.D., is a former WikiLeaks Central contributing writer who has been covering issues of freedom of speech, transparency and decentralized movement. Her work is featured in many publications. Follow on Twitter: @nozomimagine

Read more great articles at Common Dreams.

FBI Director Says He Covers His Webcam — and That You Should Too


By Josie Wales | The Anti-Media

(ANTIMEDIA) FBI Director James Comey spoke at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington earlier this week to discuss the importance of cybersecurity. During the discussion, Assistant Attorney General John Carlin asked Comey if he still had his webcam covered with tape, a question referencing previous statements by the director. Comey replied, Heck yeah, oh, heck yeah.” He continued to encourage the public to do the same thing:

Related Article: Yahoo! Just Exposed One of the FBI’s Most Secretive Tricks to Unethically Obtain Your Info

“I get mocked for a lot of things, and I am much mocked for that, but I hope people lock their cars. Lock your doors at night. I have an alarm system — if you have an alarm system, you should use it. I use mine. It’s not crazy that the FBI director cares about personal security as well, and so I think people ought to take responsibility for their own safety and security. There are some sensible things you ought to be doing, and that’s one of them. If you go into any government office, we all have our little camera things that sit on top of the screen, they all have a little lid that closes down on them. You do that so people who don’t have authority don’t look at you. I think that’s a good thing.”

This isn’t the first time the FBI Director has mentioned his homemade security measures. During a Q&A after a speech on encryption and privacy at Kenyon College earlier this year, during which he claimed “absolute privacy hampers law enforcement,” he also admitted to wanting his own privacy. “I saw something in the news, so I copied it. I put a piece of tape — I have obviously a laptop, personal laptop — I put a piece of tape over the camera. Because I saw somebody smarter than I am had a piece of tape over their camera.”  

In the same breath, he also told the audience:

“[The public should] demand to know how the government conducts surveillance. Demand to know how they’re overseen, how they’re constrained. Demand to know how these devices work.”  

While that may seem open and honest, the message being sent by the U.S. government completely contradicts such a sentiment.

Whistleblower Edward Snowden provided some insight when he revealed the expansive and unaccountable systems of modern global surveillance used by the NSA and its international intelligence partners to spy on American citizens and others. He is now hiding in Russia to avoid extradition to the U.S. after being charged under the 1917 Espionage Act.

Related Article: NSA Director Finally Admits Encryption Is Needed to Protect Public’s Privacy

So, according to FBI Director Comey, it’s okay to ask if the government is spying on you — but the answer is classified.

This article (FBI Direct Says He Covers His Webcam — and That You Should Too) is free and open source. You have permission to republish this article under a Creative Commons license with attribution to Josie Wales and theAntiMedia.org. Anti-Media Radioairs weeknights at 11 pm Eastern/8 pm Pacific. If you spot a typo, please email the error and name of the article toedits@theantimedia.org.

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The FBI Won’t Charge Hillary Clinton, So Edward Snowden Did This…

Credit: Wired.com

Credit: Wired.com

By Amanda Froelich | True Activist

It’s intriguing to consider that after Edward Snowden, a former NSA subcontractor, leaked secret information about the government’s surveillance activities, he was charged with “theft of government Property”, “unauthorized communication of national defense information” and “willful communication of classified communications intelligence information to an unauthorized person.”

Hillary Clinton, however, the Democratic presidential nominee in this year’s election and former Secretary of State, deleted 30,000+ emails from a private server and has received no reprimand from the FBI. In fact, on Tuesday, FBI Director James Comey told the press that he would not recommend criminal charges against Clinton for using private email servers during her time as secretary of State.

Double standard, much? 

Edward Snowden wasn’t the only American left speechless by the decision, but his Tweet definitely summarized what most people were thinking:


When Snowden first fled the country in 2013, Clinton stated that she could never condone what he did. She said the former NSA employee was a “Traitor” who had “blood on his hands,” reports DailyCaller.

Again, intriguing, considering that the war criminal is to blame for destabilizing Haiti and making Libya a failed state – among other unsavory accomplishments. Edward Snowden’s crime was to enlighten the public on the fact that they aren’t as free as they think, but Clinton’s actions have earned her a spot as the potential President of the United States.

If anything, 2016 seems to be the year Americans find out just how corrupt their government is and the extent to which the political system is rigged.

Comment your thoughts below and share this news!

This article (The FBI Won’t Charge Hillary Clinton, So Edward Snowden Did This…) is free and open source. You have permission to republish this article under a Creative Commons license with attribution to the author and TrueActivist.com

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The Panama Papers: ‘Biggest Leak in History’ Exposes Global Web of Corruption

The Panama Papers is one of the biggest leaks and largest collaborative investigations in journalism history. (Photo: Screenshot)

The Panama Papers is one of the biggest leaks and largest collaborative investigations in journalism history. (Photo: Screenshot)

By Deirdre Fulton | Common Dreams

An anonymous source, an enormous cache of leaked documents, and a year-long investigative effort by around 400 journalists from more than 100 media organizations in over 80 countries have yielded the Panama Papers, an unprecedented look at how the world’s rich and powerful, from political leaders to celebrities to criminals, use tax havens to hide their wealth.

The investigation went live on Sunday afternoon.

German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung wrote:

Over a year ago, an anonymous source contacted the Süddeutsche Zeitung (SZ) and submitted encrypted internal documents from Mossack Fonseca, a Panamanian law firm that sells anonymous offshore companies around the world. These shell firms enable their owners to cover up their business dealings, no matter how shady.

In the months that followed, the number of documents continued to grow far beyond the original leak. Ultimately, SZ acquired about 2.6 terabytes of data, making the leak the biggest that journalists had ever worked with. The source wanted neither financial compensation nor anything else in return, apart from a few security measures.

The data provides rare insights into a world that can only exist in the shadows. It proves how a global industry led by major banks, legal firms, and asset management companies secretly manages the estates of the world’s rich and famous: from politicians, Fifa officials, fraudsters and drug smugglers, to celebrities and professional athletes.

“These findings show how deeply ingrained harmful practices and criminality are in the offshore world,” said Gabriel Zucman, an economist at the University of California, Berkeley and author of The Hidden Wealth of Nations: The Scourge of Tax Havens. Zucman, who was briefed on the media partners’ investigation, said the release of the leaked documents should prompt governments to seek “concrete sanctions” against jurisdictions and institutions that peddle offshore secrecy.

Fusion dubbed it “the WikiLeaks of the mega-rich.”

In a statement on Sunday, international anti-corruption organization Global Witness said the exposé had “once again shown the insidious role that tax havens, corporate secrecy and shell companies play in aiding widespread crime, corruption, and violence. These threaten the safety, security and well-being of people around the world.”

The group pointed out that “despite stereotypes portraying the problem of tax havens and shell companies as an ‘offshore’ problem, this is a big and homegrown issue in the U.S. as well.” To that end, Global Witness will join faith leaders, small business owners, voices from law enforcement, and other community activists from over 25 states in Washington, D.C. from April 11-13 to call on Congress to pass legislation that would end anonymous companies.

The hashtag #PanamaPapers was trending on Twitter:

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License

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Project Censored #3: ICREACH: The NSA’s Secret Search Engine

By Kori Williams & Nick Sedenquist | * Project Censored

(Photo cropped from EFF Photos via flickr)

(Photo cropped from EFF Photos via flickr)

Based on documents leaked by Edward Snowden, Ryan Gallagher reported for the Intercept that the National Security Agency (NSA) has developed a “Google-like” search engine called ICREACH, which has the capacity to gather personal information. This search engine can access over 850 million personal records, including private e-mails, chats, and some phone locations. The NSA is sharing the data collected through its ICREACH program with nearly two dozen US government agencies. “The documents provide the first definitive evidence,” Gallagher wrote, “that the NSA has for years made massive amounts of surveillance data directly accessible to domestic law enforcement agencies.” Planning documents specifically identify the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), and the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) as “core participants,” Gallagher reported.

According to a December 2007 NSA secret document, “The ICREACH team delivered the first-ever wholesale sharing of communications metadata within the U.S. Intelligence Community.” The Interceptreported that one key issue raised by the ICREACH program is whether domestic law enforcement agencies, such as the FBI or the DEA, have used ICREACH to trigger secret investigations of US citizens through a controversial process known as “parallel construction.” As Gallagher explained, parallel construction involves information gathered covertly by law enforcement agents, who subsequently create a new evidence trail that excludes the original, covert one. “This hides the true origin of the investigation from defense lawyers and, on occasion, prosecutors and judges—which means the legality of the evidence that triggered the investigation cannot be challenged in court.”

[Read more here]

*Originally entitled: “#18 ICREACH: The NSA’s Secret Search Engine”


Ryan Gallagher, “The Surveillance Engine: How the NSA Built Its Own Secret Google,” Intercept, August 25, 2014, https://firstlook.org/theintercept/2014/08/25/icreach-nsa-cia-secret-google-crisscross-proton/.

Jack Crone, “NSA Builds Its Own Google: Spy Agency Secretly Providing Data to Dozens of Government Agencies with Search Engine that Shares 850 Billion Phone and Email Records,” Daily Mail (UK), August 26, 2014, https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2734498/NSA-builds-Google-Spy-agency-secretly-providing-data-dozens-government-agencies-search-engine-shares-850-BILLION-phone-email-records.html.

Robert O'Leary 150x150Robert O’Leary, JD BARA, has had an abiding interest in alternative health products and modalities since the early 1970’s, and he has seen how they have made people go from lacking health to vibrant health. He became an attorney, singer-songwriter, martial artist and father along the way and brings that experience to his practice as a BioAcoustic Soundhealth Practitioner, under the tutelage of the award-winning founder of BioAcoustic Biology, Sharry Edwards, whose Institute of BioAcoustic Biology has now been serving clients for 30 years with a non-invasive and safe integrative modality that supports the body’s ability to self-heal using the power of the human voice. Robert brings this modality to serve clients in Greater Springfield (MA), New England and “virtually” the world, through his new website, www.romayasoundhealthandbeauty.com. He can also be reached at romayasoundhealthandbeauty@gmail.com

Project Censored #24: NSA’s AURORAGOLD Program Hacks Cell Phones Around World

By Michael Brannon & Peter Phillips | Project Censored

The House of Representatives passed the USA Freedom Act on Wednesday with a 338-88 vote, but experts say that powers of mass surveillance will continue, and even expand, if the bill passes and becomes law. (Image: EFF/flickr/cc)

Editor’s Note: As you may recall, within the last year, I have featured most of Project Censored’s 2013-2014 Top 25 List. Now the latest list, for 2014-2015, has been released. Here is Project Censored # 24 article and stay tuned for more to come each week.

The National Security Agency (NSA) has hacked cell phone networks worldwide for many years, according to a report in the Intercept based on documents provided by Edward Snowden. Ryan Gallagher’s article analyzed the contents of at least nine NSA documents that show how the NSA has spied on hundreds of companies, as well as other countries that are close to the US. As Gallagher reported, through a secret program codenamed AURORAGOLD, the NSA sought security weaknesses in cell phone technology to exploit for surveillance. Furthermore, Gallagher wrote, the documents also revealed NSA plans “to secretly introduce new flaws into communication systems,” which would make those systems easier for the NSA to access—a “controversial tactic,” Gallagher wrote, because doing so could expose “the general population to criminal hackers.”

AURORAGOLD monitored the contents of messages sent and received by over 1,200 e-mail accounts associated with major cell phone service providers. In some cases, this allowed the NSA to intercept “confidential company planning papers” that would help it “hack into phone networks,” Gallagher wrote.

“Even if you love the NSA and you say you have nothing to hide, you should be against a policy that introduces security vulnerabilities,” according to Karsten Nohl, a leading cell phone security expert and cryptographer. “Once NSA introduces a weakness, a vulnerability, it’s not only the NSA that can exploit it.”

[Read more here]

Source: Ryan Gallagher, “Operation Auroragold: How the NSA Hacks Cellphone Networks Worldwide,” Intercept, December 4, 2014, https://firstlook.org/theintercept/2014/12/04/nsa-auroragold-hack-cellphones/.

Robert O'Leary 150x150Robert O’Leary, JD BARA, has had an abiding interest in alternative health products & modalities since the early 1970’s & he has seen how they have made people go from lacking health to vibrant health. He became an attorney, singer-songwriter, martial artist & father along the way and brings that experience to his practice as a BioAcoustic Soundhealth Practitioner, under the tutelage of the award-winning founder of BioAcoustic Biology, Sharry Edwards, whose Institute of BioAcoustic Biology has now been serving clients for 30 years with a non-invasive & safe integrative modality that supports the body’s ability to self-heal using the power of the human voice. Robert brings this modality to serve clients in Greater Springfield (MA), New England & “virtually” the world, with his website, www.romayasoundhealthandbeauty.com. He can also be reached at romayasoundhealthandbeauty@gmail.com.

AT&T Helped U.S. Spy on Internet on a Vast Scale

By Julia Angwin and Jeff Larson | The New York Times

GovernmentSpying-38253819_m-680x380-ModifiedThe National Security Agency’s ability to spy on vast quantities of Internet traffic passing through the United States has relied on its extraordinary, decades-long partnership with a single company: the telecom giant AT&T.

While it has been long known that American telecommunications companies worked closely with the spy agency, newly disclosed N.S.A. documents show that the relationship with AT&T has been considered unique and especially productive. One document described it as “highly collaborative,” while another lauded the company’s “extreme willingness to help.”

AT&T’s cooperation has involved a broad range of classified activities, according to the documents, which date from 2003 to 2013. AT&T has given the N.S.A. access, through several methods covered under different legal rules, to billions of emails as they have flowed across its domestic networks. It provided technical assistance in carrying out a secret court order permitting the wiretapping of all Internet communications at the United Nations headquarters, a customer of AT&T.

The N.S.A.’s top-secret budget in 2013 for the AT&T partnership was more than twice that of the next-largest such program, according to the documents. The company installed surveillance equipment in at least 17 of its Internet hubs on American soil, far more than its similarly sized competitor, Verizon. And its engineers were the first to try out new surveillance technologies invented by the eavesdropping agency.

One document reminds N.S.A. officials to be polite when visiting AT&T facilities, noting, “This is a partnership, not a contractual relationship.”

The documents, provided by the former agency contractor Edward J. Snowden, were jointly reviewed by The New York Times and ProPublica. The N.S.A., AT&T and Verizon declined to discuss the findings from the files. “We don’t comment on matters of national security,” an AT&T spokesman said.

It is not clear if the programs still operate in the same way today. Since the Snowden revelations set off a global debate over surveillance two years ago, some Silicon Valley technology companies have expressed anger at what they characterize as N.S.A. intrusions and have rolled out new encryption to thwart them. The telecommunications companies have been quieter, though Verizon unsuccessfully challenged a court order for bulk phone records in 2014.

[Read more here]

Robert O'Leary 150x150Robert O’Leary, JD BARA, has had an abiding interest in alternative health products & modalities since the early 1970’s & he has seen how they have made people go from lacking health to vibrant health. He became an attorney, singer-songwriter, martial artist & father along the way and brings that experience to his practice as a BioAcoustic Soundhealth Practitioner, under the tutelage of the award-winning founder of BioAcoustic Biology, Sharry Edwards, whose Institute of BioAcoustic Biology has now been serving clients for 30 years with a non-invasive & safe integrative modality that supports the body’s ability to self-heal using the power of the human voice. Robert brings this modality to serve clients in Greater Springfield (MA), New England & “virtually” the world, with his website, www.romayasoundhealthandbeauty.com. He can also be reached at romayasoundhealth andbeauty@gmail.com.  

Edward Snowden: The World Says No to Surveillance

By Edward J. Snowden | The New York Times


Editor’s Note: Since the Patriot Act & USA Freedom Act have been so much in the news lately, amid a heated debate   about security & civil liberties, it is informative to see what one of the men, so instrumental in making a lot of this happen, has to say about society’s progress in finding the right balance between governmental rights & private citizen rights. The following is that commentary.

MOSCOW — TWO years ago today [i.e., June 5, 2015], three journalists and I worked nervously in a Hong Kong hotel room, waiting to see how the world would react to the revelation that the National Security Agency had been making records of nearly every phone call in the United States. In the days that followed, those journalists and others published documents revealing that democratic governments had been monitoring the private activities of ordinary citizens who had done nothing wrong.

Within days, the United States government responded by bringing charges against me under World War I-era espionage laws. The journalists were advised by lawyers that they risked arrest or subpoena if they returned to the United States. Politicians raced to condemn our efforts as un-American, even treasonous.

Privately, there were moments when I worried that we might have put our privileged lives at risk for nothing — that the public would react with indifference, or practiced cynicism, to the revelations.

Never have I been so grateful to have been so wrong.

Two years on, the difference is profound. In a single month, the N.S.A.’s invasive call-tracking program was declared unlawful by the courts and disowned by Congress. After a White House-appointed oversight board investigation found that this program had not stopped a single terrorist attack, even the president who once defended its propriety and criticized its disclosure has now ordered it terminated.

This is the power of an informed public.

Ending the mass surveillance of private phone calls under the Patriot Act is a historic victory for the rights of every citizen, but it is only the latest product of a change in global awareness. Since 2013, institutions across Europe have ruled similar laws and operations illegal and imposed new restrictions on future activities. The United Nations declared mass surveillance an unambiguous violation of human rights. In Latin America, the efforts of citizens in Brazil led to the Marco Civil, an Internet Bill of Rights. Recognizing the critical role of informed citizens in correcting the excesses of government, the Council of Europe called for new laws to protect whistle-blowers.

Beyond the frontiers of law, progress has come even more quickly. Technologists have worked tirelessly to re-engineer the security of the devices that surround us, along with the language of the Internet itself. Secret flaws in critical infrastructure that had been exploited by governments to facilitate mass surveillance have been detected and corrected. Basic technical safeguards such as encryption — once considered esoteric and unnecessary — are now enabled by default in the products of pioneering companies like Apple, ensuring that even if your phone is stolen, your private life remains private. Such structural technological changes can ensure access to basic privacies beyond borders, insulating ordinary citizens from the arbitrary passage of anti-privacy laws, such as those now descending upon Russia.

Spymasters in Australia, Canada and France have exploited recent tragedies to seek intrusive new powers despite evidence such programs would not have prevented attacks. Prime Minister David Cameron of Britain recently mused, “Do we want to allow a means of communication between people which we cannot read?” He soon found his answer, proclaiming that “for too long, we have been a passively tolerant society, saying to our citizens: As long as you obey the law, we will leave you alone.”

[Read more here]

At the turning of the millennium, few imagined that citizens of developed democracies would soon be required to defend the concept of an open society against their own leaders.

Yet the balance of power is beginning to shift. We are witnessing the emergence of a post-terror generation, one that rejects a worldview defined by a singular tragedy. For the first time since the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, we see the outline of a politics that turns away from reaction and fear in favor of resilience and reason. With each court victory, with every change in the law, we demonstrate facts are more convincing than fear. As a society, we rediscover that the value of a right is not in what it hides, but in what it protects. ☐

Victory for Privacy, Vindication for Snowden as NSA Phone Dragnet Sunsets

By Jon Queally | Common Dreams

Sunset over the U.S. Capitol Building. "Sunsetting the Patriot Act is the biggest win for ending mass surveillance programs, and one that conventional DC wisdom said was impossible," said Tiffiniy Cheng, co-founder of Fight for the Future. "We are seeing history in the making and it was because the public stood up for our rights to freedom of expression and freedom of association – and there’s no turning back now."

Nearly two years after NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden first revealed the U.S. government was secretly operating mass surveillance programs against the American public, including bulk collection of telephone data, privacy advocates and civil libertarians are celebrating—at least temporarily—after the U.S. Senate on Sunday failed to extend authorities for key portions of those programs before a midnight deadline.

As the Associated Press reports:

The National Security Agency lost its authority at midnight to collect Americans’ phone records in bulk, after GOP Sen. Rand Paul stood in the way of extending the fiercely contested program in an extraordinary Sunday Senate session.

But that program and several other post-Sept. 11 counter-terror measures look likely to be revived in a matter of days. With no other options, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, in an about-face, reluctantly embraced a House-passed bill that would extend the anti-terror provisions, while also remaking the bulk phone collections program.

Although the lapse in the programs may be brief, intelligence officials warned that it could jeopardize Americans’ safety and amount to a win for extremists. But civil liberties groups applauded as Paul, who is running for president, forced the expiration of the once-secret program made public by NSA contractor Edward Snowden, which critics say is an unconstitutional intrusion into Americans’ privacy.

The Senate voted 77-17 to move ahead on the House-passed bill, the USA Freedom Act, which only last weekend fell three votes short of the 60 needed to advance in the Senate. For McConnell, it was a remarkable retreat after objecting ferociously that the House bill would make the bulk phone collections program dangerously unwieldy by requiring the government to search records maintained by phone companies.

A coalition formed by anti-surveillance organizations CREDO, Fight for the Future, and Demand Progress welcomed the “sunsetting” of the provisions, even as they warned against the possibility of Congress re-authorizing some of the same programs as soon as this week. In a joint statement, the groups said:

The expiration of key PATRIOT Act provisions – even if only temporary – is a victory for the countless civil liberties activists in every congressional district in the country who, since Edward Snowden blew the whistle on government surveillance, have fought for real reform. It demonstrates that the public can win battles in Congress that just a few years ago we were barely able to fight at all.

However, the Senate failed the American people today. Despite overwhelming evidence that Section 215 of the PATRIOT Act violates our civil liberties without making us safer, the Senate overwhelmingly bowed to pressure from surveillance agencies and voted to advance a bill that would renew their illegal and ineffective mass surveillance authorities under the PATRIOT Act.

The USA FREEDOM Act is a mass surveillance bill dressed up as a reform bill, and its passage will authorize unconstitutional surveillance practices.

“The overwhelming majority of Americans who don’t want to be indiscriminately spied on by their very own government have brought their will to bear in this fight – and have upended the inside-the-Beltway conventional wisdom that said a sunset was impossible,” said David Segal, executive director of Demand Progress. “The fiercely contested battle over the PATRIOT Act and its temporary sunset demonstrate the growing power of the mass movement to reform America’s out-of-control surveillance agencies. With the expiration of Section 215 of the PATRIOT Act, each senator must now go on record and publicly decide whether to protect our civil liberties or codify unconstitutional government spying all over again through the USA FREEDOM Act.”

“Sunsetting the Patriot Act is the biggest win for ending mass surveillance programs, and one that conventional DC wisdom said was impossible. We are seeing history in the making and it was because the public stood up for our rights to freedom of expression and freedom of association – and there’s no turning back now,” said Tiffiniy Cheng, co-founder of Fight for the Future.

Meanwhile, the ACLU’s Michael Macleod-Ball, acting director of its Washington Legislative Office, said the NSA’s reliance on Section 215 to maintain the bulk collection of telephone data, which a federal court last month found to be unconstitutional, should be permanently ended and the Senate should take this new opportunity to take up truly meaningful reform legislation, not a “weak bill” like the USA FREEDOM Act.

“Sunday’s vote, at least a temporary sunset, and the debate of the last few weeks are a reflection of strong support — across the political spectrum — for meaningful and comprehensive reform of the surveillance laws,” Macleod-Ball said.

As the New York Times reports:

The expiration of three key provisions of the Patriot Act means that, for now, the N.S.A. will no longer collect newly created logs of Americans’ phone calls in bulk. It also means that the F.B.I. cannot invoke the Patriot Act to obtain, for new investigations, wiretap orders that follow a suspect who changes phones, wiretap orders for a “lone wolf” terrorism suspect not linked to a group, or court orders to obtain business records relevant to an investigation.

However, the Justice Department may invoke a so-called grandfather clause to keep using those powers for investigations that had started before June 1, and there are additional workarounds investigators may use to overcome the lapse in the authorizations.

According to the Huffington Post, a vote on the House version of the USA FREEDOM Act could come this week:

Senate staffers predict that Tuesday morning is the earliest a final vote could be convened on the bill that would revive the NSA program, along with a handful of other authorities Washington’s intelligence apparatus stands to lose.

In the meantime, lawmakers from both sides of the aisle will be lobbying to attach their tweaks to the legislation. Any changes by the Senate, though, will require the bill to be kicked back to the House, further complicating its path to the president’s desk — and the NSA’s reset of the program.

Court Rules NSA Bulk Spying Illegal: New Vindication for Snowden, and Uncertainty for PATRIOT Act

Source: Democracy Now!

https://democracynow.org – A federal appeals court has ruled the National Security Agency’s bulk collection of millions of Americans’ phone records is illegal. The program was exposed by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden; the ACLU filed its lawsuit based largely on Snowden’s revelations. In a unanimous decision Thursday, a three judge panel of the Second Circuit Court of Appeals in New York called the bulk phone records collection “unprecedented and unwarranted.” The ruling comes as Congress faces a June 1st deadline to renew the part of the Patriot Act that authorizes the NSA’s bulk data surveillance. Another measure, the USA Freedom Act, would lead to limited reforms of some of the NSA’s programs.

Democracy Now! is joined by Jameel Jaffer, Deputy Legal Director of the ACLU, which filed the case challenging the NSA’s bulk collection of American’s phone records.