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Clarity from Edward Snowden and Murky Response from Progressive Leaders in Congress

By Norman Solomon

House Speaker John Boehner calls Edward Snowden a “traitor.” The chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Dianne Feinstein, labels his brave whistleblowing “an act of treason.” What about the leadership of the Congressional Progressive Caucus?

As the largest caucus of Democrats on Capitol Hill, the Progressive Caucus could supply a principled counterweight to the bombast coming from the likes of Boehner and Feinstein. But for that to happen, leaders of the 75-member caucus would need to set a good example by putting up a real fight.

Right now, even when we hear some promising words, the extent of the political resolve behind them is hazy.

NSA Whistleblowing a Strong Tradition

On July 1, 2007, I posted the following report on a then-new NSA whistleblower, a story later repeatedly "broken" by ABC News, Democracy Now!, James Bamford, and others.  Thomas Drake, Edward Snowden, and NSA whistleblowers whose names we've learned are part of a rich and, I hope, growing tradition:

New NSA Whistleblower Speaks

By davidswanson - Posted on 01 July 2007

By David Swanson
http://warisacrime.org/node/24183

A former member of U.S. military intelligence has decided to reveal what she knows about warrantless spying on Americans and about the fixing of intelligence in the leadup to the invasion of Iraq.

Adrienne Kinne describes an incident just prior to the invasion of Iraq in which a fax came into her office at Fort Gordon in Georgia that purported to provide information on the location of Iraqi weapons of mass destruction. The fax came from the Iraqi National Congress, a group opposed to Saddam Hussein and favoring an invasion. The fax contained types of information that required that it be translated and transmitted to President Bush within 15 minutes. But Kinne had been eavesdropping on two nongovernmental aid workers driving in Iraq who were panicked and trying to find safety before the bombs dropped. She focused on trying to protect them, and was reprimanded for the delay in translating the fax. She then challenged her officer in charge, Warrant Officer John Berry, on the credibility of the fax, and he told her that it was not her place or his to challenge such things. None of the other 20 or so people in the unit questioned anything, Kinne said.

He was 29

 

Many years later they found him in a monastery in China.

He agreed to be interviewed.

He looked happy in the eyes.

He said,

“One question.”

So I said,

“Hong Kong, June 2013. 

You were 29.

You said your greatest fear was

That nothing would change,

That the government would continue to grant itself

Unilateral powers.

Every time there is a new leader,

‘They’ll flip the switch’, you said...

A whistleblower holding all the cards: Why did Edward Snowden go to Hong Kong?

By Dave Lindorff

A lot of people in the US media are asking why America's most famous whistleblower, 29-year old Edward Snowden, hied himself off to the city state of Hong Kong, a wholly owned subsidiary of the People's Republic of China, to seek at least temporary refuge.

Hong Kong has an extradition treaty with the US, they say. And as for China, which controls the international affairs of its Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, while granting it local autonomy to govern its domestic affairs, its leaders "may not want to irritate the US" at a time when the Chinese economy is stumbling.

These people don't have much understanding of either Hong Kong or of China.

Over 30,000 Sign Thank-You Note to Edward Snowden

Already over 30,000 people have signed a thank-you note to NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden at SupportEdwardSnowden.org -- a website set up by RootsAction.org.

The note reads: "We thank Edward Snowden for his principled and courageous actions as a whistleblower, informing the public about vast surveillance by the National Security Agency that undermines our civil liberties."

A few of the thousands of comments added read as follows:

"Your courage and integrity give hope to a hardened cynic. I will do what I can to raise awareness and campaign for change, and for your personal safety and liberty. Thank you."

"If only we had more people with your courage and convictions. You have helped restore my faith in humanity."

"What you've done will inspire kindred spirits around the world to take moral action despite the risks."

"Your character and courage are inspirational.  I only hope that if put in the same position I would do the right thing, as you have.  Thank you for your lesson in being a human."

"'In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act.' --George Orwell.  Thank you."

"Thank you for your courageous actions in the defence of democracy, liberty and justice. You have demonstrated the highest form of loyalty and for that you have my respect and admiration. Good luck."

"They are trying to make a criminal out of the person who exposed the crime!"

"Just think how this world would be if everyone did the right thing!  Thank you Edward."

"Your courage is so rare -- thank you for this brave action to defend the 4th amendment.  Wishing you well."

"Thanks for calling attention to the Police State that we have become."

"Thank you, Edward.  We can no longer say, as did people in Nazi Germany, that they didn't know what was going on."

"Thank you for stepping up for freedom. I am proud to join with the people of the world in applauding your conscience."

"Thank you for your honesty, incredible sacrifice, and clarity. We will not allow the government or the media call this anything less than a courageous move and wake up call to resuscitate Democracy."

"I can't thank you enough for this act of  courage and personal sacrifice.  You give me hope that the forces of oppression can eventually be overcome."

"Your bravery and your actions are more than commendable. I stand with you. Keep your spirit up in the challenges ahead. Thank you for standing up for Democracy and your fellow citizens. Well done. You are a true hero."

"Bravery for principle is very contagious, thank you!"

"Thank You Edward. 'The world is a dangerous place, not because of those who do evil, but because of those who look on and do nothing.' - -Albert Einstein"

"You and Bradley Manning are my heroes. I am proud of you."

"Thank you for stepping forward and putting your life at risk to save our precious liberties.  Thank you for believing in the bill of rights.  Thank you for doing what is right even when our government prohibits it.  Thank you for your efforts to stop the decline into the novel '1984'."

"Finally someone with guts."

"Bravo, Edward! You are an inspiration to all freedom-loving people!"

"Thank you for your courageous actions. I hope this will be contagious and result in many more stepping out to join you in exposing the terrible state of freedom here."

"Thank you for letting me know just how far towards fascism my supposedly democratic country has slid, all in the name of 'keeping me safe'. I salute your courage."

"Thank you Edward. We're with you all the way."

The note will be delivered to Snowden with all signatures and comments that anyone adds at SupportEdwardSnowden.org

Privacy Died, and People Didn’t Even Know It

  The KGB alumni portion of the following, which sounds realistic, is actually fiction;  the NSA portion, which sounds like science fiction, is actual news from the real world.

 

It’s June again, and around the globe, in the northern hemisphere, alumni groups are gathering.  In Russia, the KGBAA (KGB Alumni Association)--former officials of the Soviet Union’s “Committee for State Security”--held their annual reunion this week at the Black Sea resort city of Sochi, nearly 22 years after the agency’s dissolution in 1991.  

 

Historic Challenge to Support the Moral Actions of Edward Snowden

By Norman Solomon

In Washington, where the state of war and the surveillance state are one and the same, top officials have begun to call for Edward Snowden’s head. His moral action of whistleblowing -- a clarion call for democracy -- now awaits our responses.

After nearly 12 years of the “war on terror,” the revelations of recent days are a tremendous challenge to the established order: nonstop warfare, intensifying secrecy and dominant power that equate safe governance with Orwellian surveillance.

In the highest places, there is more than a wisp of panic in rarefied air. It’s not just the National Security Agency that stands exposed; it’s the repressive arrogance perched on the pyramid of power.

Edward Snowden: the whistleblower behind the NSA surveillance revelations

Source and video here.

The individual responsible for one of the most significant leaks in US political history is Edward Snowden, a 29-year-old former technical assistant for the CIA and current employee of the defence contractor Booz Allen Hamilton. Snowden has been working at the National Security Agency for the last four years as an employee of various outside contractors, including Booz Allen and Dell.

The Guardian, after several days of interviews, is revealing his identity at his request. From the moment he decided to disclose numerous top-secret documents to the public, he was determined not to opt for the protection of anonymity. "I have no intention of hiding who I am because I know I have done nothing wrong," he said.

Snowden will go down in history as one of America's most consequential whistleblowers, alongside Daniel Ellsberg and Bradley Manning. He is responsible for handing over material from one of the world's most secretive organisations – the NSA.

In a note accompanying the first set of documents he provided, he wrote: "I understand that I will be made to suffer for my actions," but "I will be satisfied if the federation of secret law, unequal pardon and irresistible executive powers that rule the world that I love are revealed even for an instant."

Obama, Clapper and most of Congress are full of s**t: Where’s the Bullshit Repellent When We Need It?

By Dave Lindorff

Many years ago, back in 1975 when Gerald Ford was the nation’s default president, I spent a summer living in the home of two friends, both important anti-war academics, who had two young children. One of their kids, Jacob, who was about seven at the time and smart as a whip, had been given the gift of a can of compressed air which carried a label claiming it contained a miracle product called “Bullshit Repellent.”  Whenever someone in the house -- family member, me, or some other guest -- would say something ridiculous, stupid or false, someone would inevitably yell out, “Jacob, get the Bullshit Repellent!”  Jacob would come running in enthusiastically with the can and would spray it proudly at whoever was uttering the BS.

I sure wish I had Jacob and his spray can right now. I simply cannot believe the BS being spouted by President Obama, National Security Agency Director James Clapper, or the members of Congress who should be demanding their heads for the unprecedented surveillance and spying on all Americans that has just been exposed.  


Making the hero pay: A Nation’s Betrayal

By Dan DeWalt


This week, the government began their assault against private Bradley Manning. Even though he has already plead guilty to misusing classified documents and faces twenty years in prison, prosecutors want him branded as having aided the enemy, with a life sentence to go along.

Recent Revelations are Worse Than Our Worst Nightmare: Privacy Disappears in a Prism

By Alfredo Lopez


This past Thursday (June 6), The Guardian (the British newspaper) and the Washington Post simultaneously reported that the National Security Agency has been collecting staggering amounts of user data and files from seven of the world's most powerful technology companies.

An Open Letter to Dianne Feinstein, Chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee

By Norman Solomon

Dear Senator Feinstein:

On Thursday, when you responded to news about massive ongoing surveillance of phone records of people in the United States, you slipped past the meaning of the Fourth Amendment. As the chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, you seem to be in the habit of treating the Bill of Rights as merely advisory.

The Constitution doesn’t get any better than this: The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”

You Have the Right to Remain Silent...as the Grave: Is the FBI in the Execution Business?

By Dave Lindorff


Anyone who was a fan of the old ABC TV series “The Untouchables” or of the later series, also on ABC, called “The FBI,” would know something is terribly fishy about the FBI slaying of Ibragim Todashev.


Companies use a progressive tool in very non-progressive ways: The "Cloudy" Skies Corporations Want to Sell You

By Alfredo Lopez

 

It's the nature of the shallow, consumer-driven, dream-drunken culture our society tries to impose on us that we popularly adopt terms without knowing what they mean and, more often than not, they don't mean much of anything.

Such is the case with "the Cloud".

Most people who use computers believe they know what it is except that everyone seems to have a different definition. From a satellite-based storage system to a virtually invisible network to a collection of hard drives all over the world to a new form of storage that doesn't require computers to...whatever new definition pops up this week. In any case, you have heard of the "cloud" and probably aren't sure what it really is.

IMBY: The Afghanistan War Comes Home to Philadelphia

By Dave Lindorff


(This article was originally written on assignment forwww.counterpunch.org)


Antiwar.com Sues FBI After Secret Surveillance

Antiwar.com is taking the FBI to court.

The website’s founder and managing editor Eric Garris, along with longtime editorial director Justin Raimondo, filed a lawsuit in federal court today, demanding the release of records they believe the FBI is keeping on them and the 17-year-old online magazine.

Antiwar.com says this is one more example of post-9/11 government overreach, and a stark reminder that the First Amendment has been treated as little more than a speed bump on the road to a government surveillance state. The lawsuit is particularly timely, considering recent scandals in which the Department of Justice secretly seized months of journalists’ phone records at the Associated Press, and did the same and more to a FOX News reporter, while the IRS is acknowledging it singled out conservative groups that criticize the government for extra scrutiny.

Suddenly, the press is more aware than ever that the state has the ability to secretly monitor its activities, heretofore thought of as constitutionally protected from government interference and intimidation.

“Freedom of the press is a cornerstone of our democracy, whether it’s AP or Antiwar.com,” said Julia Harumi Mass, staff attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California, which is representing Antiwar.com in the case. “FBI surveillance of news organizations interferes with journalists’ ability to do their jobs as watchdogs that hold the government accountable.”

The suit was filed on Tuesday at the United States District Court, Northern District of California, San Francisco Division. Both Garris and Raimondo live and work in the San Francisco Bay area.

READ THE REST.

Official Story has Odd Wrinkles: A Pack of Questions about the Boston Bombing

 

By Dave Lindorff


           (This article was originally written forWhoWhatWhy News)


CIA: An Idea Whose Time Has Gone

There's a contradiction built into every campaign promise about transparent government beyond the failure to keep the promises.  Our government is, in significant portion, made up of secret operations, operations that include warmaking, kidnapping, torture, assassination, and infiltrating and overthrowing governments.  A growing movement is ready to see that end.

The Central Intelligence Agency is central to our foreign policy, but there is nothing intelligent about it, and there is no good news to be found regarding it.  Its drone wars are humanitarian and strategic disasters.  The piles of cash it keeps delivering to Hamid Karzai fuel corruption, not democracy.  Whose idea was it that secret piles of cash could create democracy? (Nobody's, of course, democracy being the furthest thing from U.S. goals.)  Lavishing money on potential Russian spies and getting caught helps no one, and not getting caught would have helped no one.  Even scandals that avoid mentioning the CIA, like Benghazigate, are CIA blowback and worse than we're being told.

We've moved from the war on Iraq, about which the CIA lied, and its accompanying atrocities serving as the primary recruiting tool for anti-U.S. terrorists, to the drone wars filling that role.  We've moved from kidnapping and torture to kidnapping and torture under a president who, we like to fantasize, doesn't really mean it.  But the slave-owners who founded this country knew very well what virtually anyone would do if you gave them power, and framed the Constitution so as not to give presidents powers like these.

There are shelves full in your local bookstore of books pointing out the CIA's outrageous incompetence.  The brilliant idea to give Iran plans for a nuclear bomb in order to prevent Iran from ever developing a nuclear bomb is one of my favorites. 

But books that examine the illegality, immorality, and anti-democratic nature of even what the CIA so ham-handedly intends to do are rarer.  A new book called Dirty Wars, also coming out as a film in June, does a superb job.  I wrote a review a while back.  Another book, decades old now, might be re-titled "Dirty Wars The Prequel."  I'm thinking of Douglas Valentine's The Phoenix Program

It you read The Phoenix Program about our (the CIA's and "special" forces') secret crimes in Eastern Asia and Dirty Wars about our secret crimes in Western Asia, and remember that similar efforts were focused on making life hell for millions of people in Latin America in between these twin catastrophes, and that some of those running Phoenix were brought away from similar sadistic pursuits in the Philippines, it becomes hard to play along with the continual pretense that each uncovered outrage is an aberration, that the ongoing focus of our government's foreign policy "isn't who we are." 

Targeted murders with knives in Vietnam were justified with the same rhetoric that now justifies drone murders.  The similarities include the failure of primary goals, the counterproductive blowback results, the breeding of corruption abroad and at home, the moral and political degradation, the erosion of democratic ways of thinking, and -- of course -- the racist arrogance and cultural ignorance that shape the programs and blind their participants to what they are engaged in.  The primary difference between Phoenix and drone kills is that the drones don't suffer PTSD.  The same, however, cannot be said for the drone pilots

"The problem," wrote Valentine, "was one of using means which were antithetical to the desired end, of denying due process in order to create a democracy, of using terror and repression to foster freedom.  When put into practice by soldiers taught to think in conventional military and moral terms, Contre Coup engendered transgressions on a massive scale.  However, for those pressing the attack on VCI, the bloodbath was constructive, for indiscriminate air raids and artillery barrages obscured the shadow war being fought in urban back alleys and anonymous rural hamlets.  The military shield allowed a CIA officer to sit behind a steel door in a room in the U.S. Embassy, insulated from human concern, skimming the Phoenix blacklist, selecting targets for assassination, distilling power from tragedy."

At some point, enough of us will recognize that government conducted behind a steel door can lead only to ever greater tragedy. 

In an email that Valentine wrote for RootsAction.org on Monday, he wrote: "Through its bottomless black bag of unaccounted-for money, much of it generated by off-the-books proprietary companies and illegal activities like drug smuggling, the CIA spreads corruption around the world.  This corruption undermines our own government and public officials.  And the drone killings of innocent men, women, and children generate fierce resentment.. . .Tell your representative and senators right now that the CIA is the antithesis of democracy and needs to be abolished."

What We Know is Bad; What's Behind It is Worse! The AP Seizures and the Frightening Web They've Uncovered

 

By Alfredo Lopez


"Paranoia," said Woody Allen, "is knowing all the facts." By that measure, we're becoming more and more "paranoid" every day.

On Its 20th Birthday, Its Future is Challenged: Social Networking Poses Threat to World Wide Web

 

By Alfredo Lopez


This Summer, a team at the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) has undertaken a remarkable project: to recreate the first web site and the computer on which it was first seen.

Two degrees of Separation: Tsarnaev Brothers had a CIA Connection

 

By Dave Lindorff


Let’s do a little exercise. Forget nationalities and identities for a moment.


Heading towards a police state: Destroying Ourselves

 

By Dan DeWalt


Has the "land of the free and home of the brave" decided to roll over in fear and concede defeat to terrorism?


Craft International Services hired guns at the Boston Marathon: Why Such Secrecy about Private Military Contractor’s Men Working

 

By Dave Lindorff

 

Speaking as an investigative reporter with almost 40 years’s experience, I can say that when government officials won’t talk, they’re generally hiding something embarrassing or worse.

Hunting for the Boogie-Man: 4-19, the Day It All Came Together

 

By John Grant


 “In order to get our message before the public with some chance of making a lasting impression, we’ve had to kill people.”

         --Ted Kaczynski, The Unabomber Manifesto, 1995

 

The Marathon Bombings, Privacy and the Question "Why?"

 

By Alfredo Lopez


One thing is clear amidst the shower of confusion and contradiction that bathes the aftermath of the Boston Marathon bombing: the legal and technological structure of a police state is in place and can be quickly activated. As if on cue, while the hunt for the bombers was ongoing, the House of Representatives obligingly enhanced that police state capability by passing the draconian Cyber Intelligence and Protection Act (CIPA). If approved by the Senate and signed by the President, it will greatly expand the government's intrusion into all our lives.

Who Really Left the Knapsacks with those Bombs in Boston?


By Dave LIndorff

 

I have written a lengthy piece about all the bizarre aspects of the Tsarnaev brothers’ alleged bombing of the Boston Marathon, including questions about where the elder Tsarnaev brother, Tarmelan, who was delivering pizzas, and whose wife was slaving away at a low-paid home health aid job, got the money to buy his fancy clothes and Mercedes Benz, why the Marathon finish line area was crawling with black-jacketed mercenaries from the Craft International Security rent-a-soldier agency, and how the police and federal agencies and National Guard managed to lock down a city of a million in a few hours’ time without any advance planning. 

 

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