Jerry Jackson

Posts Tagged ‘Wikileaks’

Julian Assange seeks to take extradition fight to supreme court

In Activism, Hacktivist, Human Rights, Internet Censorship, Police State, Society, Wikileaks, World News on December 13, 2011 at 1:31 am


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WikiLeaks founder will ask permission to appeal against high court ruling that he must face sex crime charges in Sweden.

Photograph: Dan Kitwood/Getty Images

WikiLeaks founder will ask permission to appeal against high court ruling that he must face sex crime charges in Sweden.

Julian Assange arrives to speak to Occupy protesters outside St Paul’s cathedral in London on October 15.
The founder of WikiLeaks, Julian Assange, is to apply for a supreme court hearing to appeal against extradition to Sweden to face sex crime allegations.
His solicitor, Gareth Peirce, confirmed he will ask senior judges in London on 5 December to certify that his case should be considered by the highest court in the land. He must establish that his case raises “a question of law of general public importance”.
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Assange, 40, lost a high court battle against removal on 2 November but has announced he wants to fight on against a European arrest warrant that has been outstanding since last December.
A supreme court hearing would be the third stage of the 40-year old Australian’s appeal against extradition to face allegations of rape, sexual molestation and unlawful coercion by two women he met on a visit to Stockholm in August 2010.


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Assange’s decision means a verdict on whether he should be extradited could be delayed until as late as next summer, legal observers said.

Continue reading ‘Julian Assange seeks to take extradition fight to supreme court,’ at Global Freedom Technology Firm.
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Bradley Manning: American hero – Opinion – Al Jazeera English

In Activism, Human Rights, Police State, Society, Wikileaks on July 10, 2011 at 9:00 pm

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Bradley Manning: American hero – Opinion – Al Jazeera English.


Bradley Manning: American hero
Four reasons why Pfc Bradley Mannning deserves the Presidential Medal of Freedom, not a prison cell.

We still don’t know if he did it or not, but if Bradley Manning, the 24-year-old Army private from Oklahoma, actually supplied WikiLeaks with its choicest material – the Iraq War logs, the Afghan War logs, and the State Department cables – which startled and riveted the world, then he deserves the Presidential Medal of Freedom instead of a jail cell at Fort Leavenworth.
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President Obama recently gave one of those medals to retiring Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, who managed the two bloody, disastrous wars about which the WikiLeaks-released documents revealed so much. Is he really more deserving than the young private who, after almost ten years of mayhem and catastrophe, gave Americans – and the world – a far fuller sense of what the US government is actually doing abroad?

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Bradley Manning, awaiting a court martial in December, faces the prospect of long years in prison. He is chargedwith violating the Espionage Act of 1917. He has put his sanity and his freedom on the line so that Americans might know what their government has done – and is still doing – globally. He has blown the whistle on criminal violationsof US military law. He has exposed the secretive government’s pathological over-classification of important public documents.

Here are four compelling reasons why, if he did what the government accuses him of doing, he deserves that medal, not jail time.

1: At great personal cost, Bradley Manning has given the foreign policy elite the public supervision it so badly needs.

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In the past ten years, US statecraft has moved from calamity to catastrophe, laying waste to other nations while never failing to damage our own national interests. Do we even need to be reminded that our self-defeating response to 9/11 in Iraq and Afghanistan (and PakistanYemen, and Somalia) has killed roughly 225,000 civilians and 6,000 US soldiers, while costing our country more than $3.2 trillion? We are hemorrhaging blood and money. Few outsideWashington would argue that any of this is making the US safer.

An employee who screwed up this badly would either be fired on the spot or put under heavy supervision.  Downsizing our entire foreign policy establishment is not an option. However, the website WikiLeaks has at least tried to make public scrutiny of our self-destructive statesmen and women a reality by exposing their work to ordinary citizens.

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Consider our invasion of Iraq, a war based on distortions, government secrecy, and the complaisant failure of our major media to ask the important questions. But what if someone like Bradley Manning had provided the press with the necessary government documents, which would have made so much self-evident in the months before the war began? Might this not have prevented disaster? We’ll never know, of course, but could additional public scrutiny have been salutary under the circumstances?

Thanks to Bradley Manning’s alleged disclosures, we do have a sense of what did happen afterwards in Iraq and Afghanistan, and just how the US operates in the world. Thanks to those disclosures, we now know just how Washington leaned on the Vatican to quell opposition to the Iraq War and just how it pressured the Germans to prevent them from prosecuting CIA agents who kidnapped an innocent man and shipped him off to be tortured abroad.

As our foreign policy threatens to careen into yet more disasters in Yemen, Pakistan, Somalia, and Libya, we can only hope that more whistleblowers will follow the alleged example of Bradley Manning and release vital public documents before it’s too late. A foreign policy based on secrets and spin has manifestly failed us.

In a democracy, the workings of our government should not be shrouded in an opaque cloud of secrecy. For bringing us the truth, for breaking the seal on that self-protective policy of secrecy, Bradley Manning deserves the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

2: Knowledge is powerful. The WikiLeaks disclosures have helped spark democratic revolutions and reforms across the Middle East, accomplishing what Operation Iraqi Freedom never could.

Wasn’t it US policy to spread democracy in the Middle East, to extend our freedom to others, as both recent American presidents have insisted?

No single American has done more to help further this goal than Pfc Bradley Manning. The chain reaction of democratic protests and uprisings that has swept Egypt, Libya, Bahrain, Syria, Yemen, and even in a modest way Iraq, all began in Tunisia, where leaked US State Department cables about the staggering corruption of the ruling Ben Ali dynasty helped trigger the rebellion.


In all cases, these societies were smouldering with longstanding grievances against oppressive, incompetent governments and economies stifled by cronyism. The revelations from the WikiLeaks State Department documents played a widely acknowledged role in sparking these pro-democracy uprisings.

In Egypt, Tunisia, Bahrain, and Yemen, the people’s revolts under way have occurred despite US support for their autocratic rulers. In each of these nations, in fact, we bankrolled the dictators, while helping to arm and train their militaries. The alliance with Mubarak’s autocratic state cost the US more than $60 billion and did nothing for American security – other than inspire terrorist blowback from radicalised Egyptians such as Mohammed Atta and Ayman al Zawahiri.

Even if US policy was firmly on the wrong side of things, we should be proud that at least one American – Bradley Manning – was on the right side. If indeed he gave those documents to WikiLeaks, then he played a catalytic role in bringing about the Arab Spring, something neither Barack Obama nor former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates (that recent surprise recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom) could claim.

Perhaps once the Egyptians consolidate their democracy, they, too, will award Manning their equivalent of such a medal.

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3: Bradley Manning has exposed the pathological over-classification of America’s public documents.

“Secrecy is for losers”, as the late Senator and United Nations Ambassador Daniel Patrick Moynihan used to say. If this is indeed the case, it would be hard to find a bigger loser than the US government.

How pathological is the government’s addiction to secrecy?

In June, the National Security Agency declassified documents from 1809, while the Department of Defense only last month declassified the Pentagon Papers, publicly available in book form these past four decades. Our government is only just now finishing its declassification of documents relating to World War I.

This would be ridiculous if it weren’t tragic. Ask the historians. Barton J Bernstein, professor emeritus of history at Stanford University and a founder of its international relations program, describes the government’s classification of foreign-policy documents as “bizarre, arbitrary, and nonsensical”.

George Herring, professor emeritus at the University of Kentucky and author of the encyclopedic From Colony to Superpower: A History of US Foreign Policy, has chronicled how his delight at being appointed to a CIA advisory panel on declassification turned to disgust once he realised that he was being used as window dressing by an agency with no intention of opening its records, no matter how important or how old, to public scrutiny.

Any historian worth his salt would warn us that such over-classification is a leading cause of national amnesia and repetitive war disorder. If a society like ours doesn’t know its own history, it becomes the great power equivalent of a itinerant amnesiac, not knowing what it did yesterday or where it will end up tomorrow. Right now, classification is the disease of Washington, secrecy its mania, and dementia its end point. As an ostensibly democratic nation, we, its citizens, risk such ignorance at our national peril.

President Obama came into office promising a “sunshine” policy for his administration while singing the praises of whistleblowers. He has since launched the fiercest campaign against whistleblowers the republic has ever seen, and further plunged our foreign policy into the shadows.

Challenging the classification of each tightly guarded document is, however, impossible. No organisation has the resources to fight this fight, nor would they be likely to win right now. Absent a radical change in our government’s diplomatic and military bureaucracies, massive over-classification will only continue.

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If we hope to know what our government is actually doing in our name globally, we need massive leaks from insider whistleblowers to journalists who can then sort out what we need to know, given that the government won’t. This, in fact, has been the modus operandi of WikiLeaks.

Our whistleblower protection laws urgently need to catch up with this state of affairs, and though we are hardly there yet, Bradley Manning helped take us part of the way. He did what Barack Obama swore he would do on coming into office. For striking a blow against our government’s fanatical insistence on covering its mistakes and errors with blanket secrecy, Bradley Manning deserves not punishment, but the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

4. At immense personal cost, Bradley Manning has upheld a great American tradition of transparency in statecraft and for that he should be an American hero, not an American felon.

Bradley Manning is only the latest in a long line of whistleblowers in and out of uniform who have risked everything to put our country back on the right path.

Take Daniel Ellsberg, leaker of the Pentagon Papers, a Pentagon-commissioned secret history of the Vietnam War and the official lies and distortions that the government used to sell it. Many of the documents it included were classed at a much higher security clearance than anything Bradley Manning is accused of releasing – and yet Ellsberg was not convicted of a single crime and became a national hero.

Given the era when all this went down, it’s forgivable to assume that Ellsberg must have been a hippie who somehow sneaked into the Pentagon archives, beads and patchouli trailing behind him. What many no longer realise is that Ellsberg had been a model US Marine. First in his class at officer training school at Quantico, he deferred graduate school at Harvard to remain on active duty in the Marine Corps. Ellsberg saw his high-risk exposure of the disastrous and deceitful nature of the Vietnam War as fully consonant with his long career of patriotic service in and out of uniform.

And Ellsberg is hardly alone. Ask Lieutenant Colonel (ret) Darrel Vandeveld. Or Tom Drake, formerly of the National Security Agency.

Transparency in statecraft was not invented last week by WikiLeaks creator Julian Assange. It is a longstanding American tradition. James Madison put the matter succinctly: “A popular government, without popular information, or the means of acquiring it, is but a prologue to a farce or a tragedy; or, perhaps both.”

A 1960 Congressional Committee on Government Operations report caught the same spirit: “Secrecy – the first refuge of incompetents – must be at a bare minimum in a democratic society … Those elected or appointed to positions of executive authority must recognise that government, in a democracy, cannot be wiser than the people.”

John F Kennedy made the same point in 1961: “The very word ‘secrecy’ is repugnant in a free and open society.” Hugo Black, great Alabaman justice of the twentieth-century Supreme Court had this to say: “The guarding of military and diplomatic secrets at the expense of informed representative government provides no real security for our Republic.”

And the first of World-War-I-era president Woodrow Wilson’s 14 Points couldn’t have been more explicit: “Open covenants of peace, openly arrived at, after which there shall be no private international understandings of any kind but diplomacy shall proceed always frankly and in the public view.”

We need to know what our government’s commitments are, as our foreign policy elites have clearly demonstrated they cannot be left to their own devices. Based on the past decade of carnage and folly, without public debate – and aggressive media investigations – we have every reason to expect more of the same.

If there’s anything to learn from that decade, it’s that government secrecy and lies come at a very high price in blood and money. Thanks to the whistleblowing revelations attributed to Bradley Manning, we at least have a far clearer picture of the problems we face in trying to supervise our own government.

If he was the one responsible for the WikiLeaks revelations, then, for his gift to the republic, purchased at great price, he deserves not prison, but a Presidential Medal of Freedom and the heartfelt gratitude of his country.

Chase Madar is a lawyer in New York and a frequent contributor to the London Review of Books, theAmerican Conservative magazine, CounterPunch.org, and Le Monde Diplomatique. His next book, The Passion of Bradley Manning, will be published by O/R Books this fall.  He is covering the Bradley Manning case and trial for TomDispatch.com. To listen to Timothy MacBains latest TomCast audio interview in which Madar discusses the Manning case, click here, or download it to your iPod here.

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

A version of this article was previously published on TomDispatch.

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Government Internet Takeover Continues Apace

In Activism, Big Business, Hacktivist, Human Rights, Internet Censorship, Military, Police State, Society, Wikileaks on May 27, 2011 at 4:58 am


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Moves to place restrictions and controls on the internet by Western governments are gathering pace, with the US setting the standard as the Department of Homeland Security seized yet more domain names over the weekend and shut down several websites under the guise of piracy and copyright regulations.


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The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee held a hearing Monday to debate the Obama administration’s proposed move to provide the president with the authority to completely shut down the internet during a national emergency.
As we have documented, the administration’s vision provides the President the power to shut down the Internet with a figurative flick of a switch, and has made it clear that his Protecting Cyberspace as a National Asset Act is about big government deciding who can say what on the web.
Critics in the Senate, including Maine Republican Susan Collins, argued that the government is taking advantage of “outmoded yet potentially sweeping authorities granted in the Communications Act of 1934″ that allow for the president to take over radio stations in a time of national emergency.
The administration is seeking to extend those powers to online communications.
Long term internet censorship proponent, Joe Lieberman argued that “The country would be better off if we did create some new law regarding the authority of the president to act in these emergencies,”
Last year, Lieberman’s Senate Homeland Security Committee pressured Amazon to axe Wikileaks from its servers. At the time, the Senator stated that the “Decision to cut off Wikileaks now is the right decision and should set the standard for other companies Wikileaks is using to distribute its illegally seized material.”
Electronic Frontier Foundation senior staff attorney Kevin Bankston labeled Amazon’s decision to kill the website “disappointing,” adding that “pressure” from Lieberman’s office or any other authority serves to “limit the materials the American public has a First Amendment right to access.”
Lieberman’s vision for the Internet is less of an information superhighway and more of a government-controlled sanitized clone of cable television, where the web is purged entirely of dissent in a system even more draconian than that employed by the Communist Chinese.
“Right now China, the government, can disconnect parts of its Internet in case of war and we need to have that here too,” Lieberman told CNN’s Candy Crowley in 2010.
This is what Lieberman envisions for the future of the Internet in the United States, a highly regulated, state-controlled forum where the government can shut down websites it disapproves of on a whim, as is already being done by Homeland Security without court order, as yet more cases have proven this week.
Meanwhile, in Europe, the vehemently unpopular French President Nicolas Sarkozy has convened a global conference to push the idea that governments should have supreme authority over the internet.
The gathering, dubbed the e-G8, is taking place this week in Paris. Guests include Google executive chairman Eric Schmidt, News Corp. Chairman and CEO Rupert Murdoch, and Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg.
“You need to hear our limits, our red lines.” Sarkozy told the gathering today as he argued for enforced government rules to ” prevent misuse of the Internet”.
Included in that definition, according to Sarkozy are websites such as Wikileaks. Referring to the whistle blowing website, Sarkozy warned the gathering:


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“Do not let [the internet] become an instrument in the hands of those who want to damage our security, and so our integrity. Do not let the revolution that you have launched harm the basic right each person has to a private life,” he said.
France was one of the first countries to crack down on the servers on its territory that enabled WikiLeaks to publish vast amounts of material last year.
In 2009 the Sarkozy government attempted to pass draconian copyright laws to restrict the internet. The law, known by the acronym Hadopi, set up a new state agency with the power to cut off internet access for up to a year for people who download music and film illegally.
The French Constitutional court ruled against the powers however, defining “free access to public communication services on line” as a fundamental human right. The government is still pushing the proposed law, however. Currently only judges have the authority to restrict internet access. The same law was instituted in Britain in 2010.
Sarkozy’s government also operates an internet black list, that targets any website that is reported as “offensive”. Similar policies are now being employed by supposedly democratic governments around the world.
The push to restrict and control the internet, as we have repeatedly warned for years, is being pursued by an establishment petrified at the fact that alternative and independent sources of information are now eclipsing corporate and government controlled media outlets in terms of audience share, trust, and influence.
The move needs to be met with fierce opposition at every level and from across the political spectrum. Regulation of the Internet would not only represent a massive assault on free speech, it would also create new roadblocks for e-commerce and as a consequence further devastate the economy.


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Assange: Facebook is an ‘appalling spy machine’

In Big Business, Human Rights, Internet Censorship, Police State, Society, Wikileaks on May 14, 2011 at 12:07 am


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WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange says Facebook, Google, and Yahoo are actually tools for the U.S. intelligence community.

Speaking to Russian news site RT in an interview published yesterday, Assange was especially critical of the world’s top social network. He reportedly said that the information Facebook houses is a potential boon for the U.S. government if it tries to build up a dossier on users.

“Facebook in particular is the most appalling spying machine that has ever been invented,” Assange said in the interview, which was videotaped and published on the site. “Here we have the world’s most comprehensive database about people, their relationships, their names, their addresses, their locations and the communications with each other, their relatives, all sitting within the United States, all accessible to U.S. intelligence.”

If that’s the case, it might surprise some that WikiLeaks has its very own Facebook page. In fact, last year, when WikiLeaks released a controversial batch of confidential documents–putting Assange on the run–Facebook refused to shut down that page. The company said at the time that the page did not “violate our content standards nor have we encountered any material posted on the page that violates our policies.”

Facebook’s response stood in stark contrast to the treatment of WikiLeaks by many other companies in the U.S. last year. Several firms, including PayPal, blocked the company’s accounts.

But Assange didn’t just stop at Facebook. He also told RT that in addition to the world’s largest social network, Google and Yahoo “have built-in interfaces for U.S. intelligence.”

“It’s not a matter of serving a subpoena,” he told RT. “They have an interface that they have developed for U.S. intelligence to use.”

Surprisingly, Assange didn’t mention Twitter, another major social network with which his organization has run into trouble.

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Earlier this year, the U.S. Justice Department sent a court order to Twitter, requesting the social network deliver information from accounts of activists that allegedly had ties to WikiLeaks. In March, the Justice Department was granted access to those accounts following a judge’s ruling in favor of the seizure. Last month, the Justice Department said that complaints over its desire to obtain Twitter information is “absurd,” and its actions are quite common in criminal investigations.

However, the Justice Department didn’t secure a search warrant for access to the information. Instead, it obtained a 2703(d) order, allowing investigators to secure online records that are “relevant and material to an ongoing criminal investigation.”

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For U.S. intelligence, getting information from Facebook is much easier, Assange said in the interview. He reportedly told RT that the U.S. intelligence community’s use of “legal and political pressure” on Facebook is enough for it get what it wants.

“Everyone should understand that when they add their friends to Facebook, they are doing free work for United States intelligence agencies in building this database for them,” Assange said, according to the RT interview.

For its part, Facebook disagrees with Assange’s sentiment. In a written statement to CNET, a Facebook spokesman said that it does only what’s legal–and nothing more.

“We don’t respond to pressure, we respond to compulsory legal process,” the spokesman told CNET. “There has never been a time we have been pressured to turn over data [and] we fight every time we believe the legal process is insufficient. The legal standards for compelling a company to turn over data are determined by the laws of the country, and we respect that standard.”


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DOJ defends WikiLeaks probe of Twitter accounts

In Activism, Hacktivist, Human Rights, Internet Censorship, Police State, Society, Wikileaks on April 10, 2011 at 3:33 am


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The U.S. Justice Department today dismissed as “absurd” any privacy and free speech concerns about its request for access to the Twitter accounts of WikiLeaks volunteers.

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In a 32-page brief filed in federal court in Virginia, prosecutors characterized their request for a court order as a “routine compelled disclosure” that raises no constitutional issues.

These types of records “are widely subpoenaed by grand juries without raising ‘chilling effects,’ or occasioning constitutional litigation and delays,” prosecutors wrote. Any claim that Twitter’s logs “are subject to heightened protections under the First Amendment is baseless,” they say, adding that there is no “legitimate expectation of privacy” in Internet addresses provided to a third party.

Today’s brief follows an appeal that attorneys representing the WikiLeaks volunteers filed March 25. A hearing has been set for later this month in Arlington, Va., before U.S. District Judge Liam O’Grady.

The attorneys’ appeal to O’Grady seeks to throw out a magistrate judge’s ruling on March 11 that granted prosecutors access to the accounts, including information about what Internet and e-mail addresses are associated with them. The government sought the court order as part of a grand jury probe that appears to be investigating whether WikiLeaks principals, including editor Julian Assange, violated American criminal laws.

The accounts at issue include Birgitta Jónsdóttir, a member of the Icelandic parliament who helped with WikiLeaks’ release of a classified U.S. military video; Seattle-based WikiLeaks volunteer Jacob Appelbaum; and Dutch hacker and XS4ALL Internet provider co-founder Rop Gonggrijp. The order also sought records relating to Assange and suspected WikiLeaks source Bradley Manning, who did not contest the request.

The Justice Department’s brief filed this afternoon, which asks O’Grady to “direct Twitter to fully and promptly comply,” also raises a series of other arguments including: criminal procedures instead of civil should apply; the order complied with the Stored Communications Act; and that the Fourth Amendment doesn’t apply.

In their own brief last month, attorneys for the Twitter account holders said prosecutors’ request violates federal law, “intrudes upon” their clients’ First Amendment right to freedom of association, and “threatens” their right to privacy. (PDF)

The court order approved by U.S. Magistrate Judge Theresa Buchanan would require Twitter to divulge “all” direct messages, even ones unrelated to WikiLeaks, argue the ACLU, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, and a host of private attorneys representing the Twitter account holders. It “has a chilling effect not only on the parties’ speech and association rights,” they say, “but on the rights of Twitter users in general.”

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This case came to light in January, when Twitter notified the subscribers that prosecutors had obtained a court order for their “account information.” That led Jónsdóttir, Appelbaum, and Gonggrijp to retain their own attorneys, who filed motions asking the judge to overturn her earlier decision.

The U.S. government began a criminal investigation of WikiLeaks and Assange last July after the Web site began releasing what would become a deluge of confidential military and State Department files. In November, Attorney General Eric Holder said that the probe was “ongoing,” and a few weeks later an attorney for Assange said he had been told that a grand jury had been empaneled in Alexandria, Va.

Buchanan’s order isn’t a traditional subpoena or search warrant–in fact, if the Justice Department obtained a search warrant, the ACLU and EFF would likely drop the case. Rather, it’s what’s known as a 2703(d) order, which allows police to obtain certain records from a Web site or Internet provider if they are “relevant and material to an ongoing criminal investigation.” In this case, prosecutors are asking for logs and other information about the account but not “content” such as direct messages.

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Read more: http://news.cnet.com/8301-31921_3-20052249-281.html#ixzz1J4FOtUab


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Recommendations concerning access to information and press freedom in the US

In Activism, Human Rights, Internet Censorship, Police State, Society on April 6, 2011 at 4:38 am


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In light of the upcoming Universal Periodic Review of the United States at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva this week, Reporters Without Borders would like to make the following recommendations concerning access to information and press freedom in the US:

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1) American officials must review their methods for classifying information and improve transparency surrounding the Freedom of Information Act requests filed by civil society groups and the media

Several incidents over the past year have raised questions about the government’s use of national security concerns to try and curb media access to issues of legitimate public interest. The WikiLeaks release of a 2007 video of a US helicopter attack in Iraq that killed 12 people including two Reuters’ staff and the Pentagon’s decision to ban four journalists from military commissions at Guantanamo Bay a month later, although eventually reversed, highlighted the military’s perceived lack of transparency and inconsistencies in its compliance to the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests.

More than two weeks ago, in a new blow to the FOIA, the US Supreme Court refused to consider an appeal by 23 lawyers representing Guantanamo Bay detainees who want the National Security Agency to reveal whether it tapped their phone conversations with their clients and, if so, to provide them with transcripts.

2) The Federal Shield Law must allow blogs and whistleblower websites the same protection as it does to all other media organizations

National security issues are playing an important role in the consideration of the Federal Shield Law legislation, which is being delayed by proposals to exclude whistleblowing websites from source protection, mainly because of the political reaction to WikiLeaks publishing over 70,000 classified Afghan war documents. Such amendments would be, in Reporters Without Borders’ opinion, unfair and unnecessary, as the legislation already contains exemptions relating to legitimate questions of national security.

3) The Obama administration must ensure that commercial agreements between internet companies and content providers do not pose a threat to Net Neutrality or the free flow of information

In January 2010, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton reaffirmed the United States’ commitment to protect the Internet as a place for social development and emphasized the importance of equal access to knowledge and free exchange of ideas. However in August, Google and Verizon were reportedly nearing an agreement that could allow Verizon to relay online content to Internet users more quickly if the content’s creators are willing to pay for the privilege.

4) To regularly assess domestic press freedom issues and the working conditions of journalists throughout the country

Although Reporters Without Borders welcomed the enactment of the Daniel Pearl Act in May 2010, requiring the State Department to list countries that threaten freedom of expression and tolerate violence against journalists, our organization believes American officials must also monitor the press freedom situation within the US in the same manner.

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Assange: “WikiLeaks is the intelligence agency of the people”

In Activism, Hacktivist, Human Rights, Internet Censorship, Society, Wikileaks, World News on April 5, 2011 at 11:57 pm

Julian Assange at New Media Days 09 in Copenhagen.

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The WikiLeaks chief discusses radical journalism and WikiLeaks’s main threat in an exclusive New Statesman essay.

In an exclusive essay for the New Statesman, the editor-in-chief of WikiLeaks, Julian Assange, argues that WikiLeaks is a return to the days of the once popular radical press. He also discusses why the New York Times dislikes the whistle-blowing website, and reveals the biggest threat to WikiLeaks today.

“WikiLeaks is part of an honourable tradition that expands the scope of freedom by trying to lay ‘all the mysteries and secrets of government’ before the public,” writes Assange, who compares WikiLeaks to the pamphleteers of the English Civil War and the radical press of the early twentieth century. “We are, in a sense, a pure expression of what the media should be: an intelligence agency of the people, casting pearls before swine.”

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Assange argues that the New York Times‘s hostility to WikiLeaks stems from the newspaper’s illiberal tradition of failing to back organisations or figures which challenge established elites. He highlights the newspaper’s failure to support the American pacifist and anti-war campaigner Eugene Debs, who was imprisoned for ten years for making an anti-war speech in 1918.

“The New York Times, true to form, had been calling for [Debs’s] imprisonment for more than two decades, saying in an editorial of 9 July 1894 that Debs was ‘a lawbreaker at large, an enemy of the human race. There has been quite enough talk about warrants against him and about arresting him,'” writes Assange. “Seen within this historical perspective, the New York Times‘s performance in the run-up to the US-led invasion of Iraq, and its hostile attitude to WikiLeaks today, are not surprising.” WikiLeaks only agreed to work with the newspaper, among others, in its major leaks “for reasons of realpolitik”, according to Assange.

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WikiLeaks is able to succeed because, unlike many of its forebears, it does not rely on advertisers, he continues. “As well as the hostility of governments, popular grass-roots publishers have had to face the realities of advertising as a source of revenue. [T]he Daily Herald…was forced to close despite being among the 20 largest-circulation dailies in the world, because its largely working-class readers did not constitute a lucrative advertising market.”

WikiLeaks, however, has other problems, writes Assange: “How do we deal with an extrajudicial financial blockade by Bank of America, Visa (including Visa Europe, registered in London), MasterCard, PayPal, Western Union, the Swiss PostFinance, Moneybookers and other finance companies, all keen to curry favour with Washington?”

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Julian Assange police investigator a friend of sex assault accuser

In Activism, Biography, Hacktivist, Human Rights, Wikileaks, World News on March 25, 2011 at 11:44 pm


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Officer and Miss A met through political party and corresponded over internet months before WikiLeaks chief was accused

Julian Assange "Wikileaks"

Julian Assange‘s lawyers used the link between the police investigator and one of the sexual assault accusers to argue against his extradition to Sweden. Photograph: Lewis Whyld/PA

The police investigator who first interviewed two Swedish women about allegations of rape and sexual assault against Julian Assange is a friend and political associate of one of the women, a Swedish newspaper has claimed.

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The female officer became friends with the woman referred to in court as Miss A through Sweden‘s Social Democratic party, in which both are involved, according to Expressen. The pair corresponded on the internet 16 months before the allegations were made against Assange.

Miss A commented on a Facebook update on the police officer‘s page as recently as 10 February, the paper said, and Miss A links to the officer’s private blog from her personal page.

The paper said the officer had made anti-Assange comments on the internet.

The WikiLeaks founder is appealing against a British magistrate’s decision last month to extradite him to Sweden to answer the accusations, which include an allegation of rape against another woman, Miss B. Miss A alleges Assange had sex with her without a condom, against her wishes. He has not been charged with any offence.

His legal team has argued that the Swedish judicial process is unfair and a number of those involved in the prosecution are politically motivated.

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According to Expressen, Miss A and the police interrogator had internet contact in April 2009, when Miss A wrote a blog about white men “who take the right to decide what is not abusive”. The officer commented that the author “puts her finger on the bottom line and speaks out”, to which Miss A replied: “Hello! Thanks for the compliment. And like you say, white men must always defend the right to use abusive words. Then they of course deny that these very words are part of a system that keeps their group at the top of the social ladder.”

The paper said that when another newspaper, Aftonbladet, hosted a recent webchat with Assange, the officer commented “What the heck is this! Judgment zero!” The previous day she had commented on the same page: “Way to go, Claes Borgstrom!” Borgstrom is the lawyer representing the women and a former SDP politician, who Assange’s team has argued is acting from political motives.

The paper says the officer had just started her shift at Klara police station in Stockholm on 20 August when Miss A and Miss B arrived to make a complaint against Assange. It says she did not declare a conflict of interest. The police say that the officer in question did not interview Miss A and she played no further part in the investigation. On the basis of the interrogations, duty prosecutor Maria Häljebo Kjellstrand ordered Assange’s arrest, a decision overturned by a more senior prosecutor. Borgstrom appealed against that decision and the case was reinstated by prosecutor Marianne Ny.Mark Stephens, Assange’s lawyer, said they had been aware of the relationship, which had informed their arguments in court last month that the Swedish judicial process had been improper.

“There are a whole raft of issues like this which should cause reasonable people a bit of concern,” he said. “I’m delighted that the Swedes, who objected so strongly to our criticisms of the case, have started to acknowledge that there are systemic problems in their judicial process which allow this sort of thing to happen.”

Police superintendent Ulf Göranzon told Expressen he was not aware of any relationship between the two women, and would not comment on rumours.

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The Swedish prosecutor’s office also declined to comment, citing the ongoing extradition process in the UK.

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Bush cancels out of event where Assange was due to attend

In Wikileaks on February 28, 2011 at 12:56 pm


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Julian Assange at New Media Days 09 in Copenhagen.

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Washington – Former president George W Bush abruptly cancelled a speaking engagement planned for Saturday after learning that WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange had also been invited to attend.
Bush spokesman David Sherer on Friday said ‘the former president has no desire to share a forum with a man who has willfully and repeatedly done great harm to the interests of the United States.’
Bush had six months ago accepted the invitation to speak at the Young President’s Organization Global Leadership Summit in Denver, a gathering of young chief executives.
Assange was also apparently invited, though he is being held in London pending extradition to Sweden to face charges for sexual offences.
Many US politicians and the government officials have condemned WikiLeaks and its founder Assange for releasing thousands of private US diplomatic cables and Pentagon documents from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

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Global police moves against ‘hacktivists’

In Activism, Hacktivist, Human Rights, Society, World News on February 22, 2011 at 4:55 am

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An online “hacktivist” group that brought down the websites of perceived opponents of WikiLeaks has itself become the target of an international police crackdown.

The London Metropolitan Police arrested five men in connection with a recent spate of attacks by Anonymous, behind last month’s revenge assault on the websites of a number of organisations that had severed links with WikiLeaks.

In the US, the Federal Bureau of Investigation said it executed “more than 40” search warrants on Thursday to gather evidence likely to lead to arrests.

The FBI said it was working on the case along with the UK, “authorities in the Netherlands, Germany and France”. Spokeswoman Jenny Shearer said no US arrests had been made by late afternoon on Thursday. “Evidence is being gathered and the investigation is ongoing”, she said. “These things do take time”.

The Met’s e-Crime unit said five men aged between 15 and 26 were being held following a swoop on residential addresses in the West Midlands, Northamptonshire, Hertfordshire, Surrey and London on Thursday morning in the UK in relation to offences under the Computer Misuse Act 1990.

The maximum penalty under the UK act is 10 years imprisonment and a £5,000 fine. The FBI said those convicted in the US also could face 10-year sentences.

Anonymous, a disparate group of online activists that has previously carried out campaigns against the Church of Scientology and the record industry, claimed last month’s attacks on companies including MasterCard and PayPal were a response to attempts to hinder WikiLeaks’ freedom of speech campaign.

The internet activists used a distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack, overloading the targeted websites by bombarding them with requests. “Facilitating or conducting a DDoS attack is illegal”, the FBI said. “The victims included major US companies across several industries”.

An FBI spokeswoman told the FT that the US warrants were under seal. Since the attack software distributed by Anonymous members does not disguise the internet addresses of those participating in the electronic assaults, former law enforcement officers have predicted that traffic logs from the companies affected would lead to internet service providers – the likely recipients of at least some of Thursday’s search warrants – and then in short order to the attackers themselves.

In response to the UK arrests, Anonymous issued an open letter to the government via Twitter, the messaging site, explaining that it saw DDoS attacks as the modern digital equivalent of a sit-in demonstration, rather than a criminal action.

“Just as is the case with traditional forms of protest, we block access to our opponents infrastructure to get our message across,” the letter said. “It is clear then, that arresting somebody for taking part in a DDoS attack is exactly like arresting somebody for attending a peaceful demonstration in their hometown.”

The letter accused the arrests of being “politically motivated, and were being carried out under pressure from the US government”, adding that the potential punishments were disproportionate.

Activity in Anonymous chat rooms has been subdued recently. Activists have been fretting about a rumoured international “swoop” by the authorities since mid-December. Dutch police arrested two teenagers last month in connection with the DDoS attacks.

“Most of us have been laying low for a good while now. People were getting arrested and our VPN [virtual private network] got taken down by the feds [police],” one Anon told the FT on Wednesday.

He said that recent arrests had exposed a weakness in the group’s shroud of anonymity. “They logged our IRC [internet relay chat] servers … stupid people. So the feds know about every one of us.”

One of the Dutch people arrested has been released but the other remains in “deep trouble”, the Anon said.

French police launched an investigation in the immediate aftermath of the cyberattack by Anonymous. In December they detained a 15-year-old on suspicion of participating in the hacking, holding her for several hours of questioning, according to a report on the website of Le Parisien newspaper. The girl was later released, but an inquiry is underway to determine her exact involvement, the paper says.

The WikiLeaks website and its controversial founder, Julian Assange, are immersed in a political storm following the leak highly sensitive US government cables.

Earlier this month, it emerged that Twitter had been asked to hand over documents to the US government including internet addresses and phone numbers of Mr Assange and WikiLeaks supporters in multiple countries.

Many lawyers say the US government faces stiff obstacles in its bid to build a case for the extradition of Mr Assange. The Pentagon describes as “premature” reports that the US government had failed to establish a link between Mr Assange and Bradley Manning, a former US intelligence official, facing charges of leaking classified information.

But establishing conspiracy charges against the two, or prosecuting Mr Assange on other grounds, could prove especially demanding.

Meanwhile, Mr Assange will appear in court next month to decide whether he should be extradited to Sweden in connection with alleged sex crimes.

Undeterred by the furore surrounding WikiLeaks, the group’s former spokesman this week launched his own whistleblowing website. Daniel Domscheit-Berg’s OpenLeaks website bills itself as “a non-profit community and service provider for whistleblowers and organisations, media, and individuals who engage in promoting transparency. It makes leaking at a local, grassroot level possible and allows for certain scalability.”

Read @FT.com

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