Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Did US Help New Zealand Spy on War Crimes Reporter?

Published on Wednesday, July 31, 2013 by Common Dreams Did US Help New Zealand Spy on War Crimes Reporter? McClatchy newspapers wants to know if NSA turned its "metadata" collection capabilities on investigative journalist looking into torture in Afghanistan - Jon Queally, staff writer New Zealand journalist Jon Stephenson believes he was tracked by his government's intelligence agencies with possible help from the US. His employer, McClatchy newspapers, would like some answers. (Photo: The Atlantic)Did the US government or one of its intelligence agencies assist New Zealand in tracking and secretly monitoring a journalist trying to uncover the possibility of war crimes by US and New Zealand military personnel that took place in Afghanistan? That's what McClatchy is trying to find out. In a sharply worded letter to the NSA director James Clapper on Tuesday, executives and lawyers with the US-based news agency asked about the veracity of a report that appeared in the Sunday Star Times of Auckland earlier this week which said journalist Jon Stephenson, who worked for McClatchy in Afghanistan, had been the target of US surveillance. As McClatchy reports: “We regard any targeted collection of the metadata of our journalists as a serious interference with McClatchy’s constitutional rights to gather and report the news. We therefore request clarification about whether any U.S. intelligence agencies helped in the collection, use and/or analysis of any metadata from the cell phone of McClatchy journalist Jon Stephenson,” the letter said. The reports are “particularly alarming” as they said that Stephenson was targeted because the New Zealand military was unhappy with his reporting “about possible war crimes” committed in the handling of Afghan detainees by New Zealand special forces, and it wanted to identify his sources, the letter said. “If the reports are accurate, the U.S. Government’s facilitation of such retaliatory monitoring of a reporter would be a serious breach of both the constitutional protection of newsgathering and the statutory limits imposed on the collection and use of communications information by intelligence agencies,” the letter said. According to the reporting that led to McClatchy's concern: The New Zealand military received help from US spy agencies to monitor the phone calls of Kiwi journalist Jon Stephenson and his associates while he was in Afghanistan reporting on the war. Stephenson has described the revelation as a serious violation of his privacy, and the intrusion into New Zealand media freedom has been slammed as an abuse of human rights. The spying came at a time when the New Zealand Defence Force was unhappy at Stephenson's reporting of its handling of Afghan prisoners and was trying to find out who was giving him confidential information. The monitoring occurred in the second half of last year when Stephenson was working as Kabul correspondent for the US McClatchy news service and for various New Zealand news organisations. The Sunday Star-Times has learned that New Zealand Defence Force personnel had copies of intercepted phone "metadata" for Stephenson, the type of intelligence publicised by US intelligence whistleblower Edward Snowden. The intelligence reports showed who Stephenson had phoned and then who those people had phoned, creating what the sources called a "tree" of the journalist's associates. For his part, Stephenson has said that he has "very specific information that leaves me in no doubt that there has been collection of my metadata." Stephenson subsequently explained to McClatchy that he believes any tracking by intelligence agencies stemmed from investigative stories he’d written mostly between 2009 and 2011 about New Zealand special forces in 2002 turning over to U.S. troops and Afghan security personnel 55 “ghost detainees” who were “harmed and tortured.”; The prisoners were called "ghost detainees" because no records of their names or identities were kept. _________________________________ This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Source URL: Published on Wednesday, July 31, 2013 by Common Dreams Greenwald Slams "Establishment" Double-Standard for Manning 'If you're sufficiently rich and powerful and well-connected in Washington, the laws don't apply to you.' - Jon Queally, staff writer Jeffrey Toobin, the CNN legal analyst who spent most of Tuesday on the air of his cable network commending the decision of the military judge who found Pfc. Bradley Manning guilty of nineteen criminal counts for leaking classified information to Wikileaks, was taken to task for his "inside the beltway" position during a primetime segment on Anderson Cooper's 360. CNN's Jefferey Toobin and Guardian journalist Glenn Greenwald. In a debate with Guardian journalist Glenn Greenwald, Toobin once again said he thought the verdict was the right one and expressed contentment that Manning was facing a long prison term. In response, Greenwald said that Toobin's remarks simply proved that "if you're sufficiently rich and powerful and well-connected in Washington, the laws don't apply to you. You don't get punished. The only people who do are people like Bradley Manning." Greenwald said that Toobin's comments represented much of the reason why so many people despise Washignton insiders and argued that establishment journalists like Bob Woodward and the top officials who leak much more highly classified material "all the time" are insulated from the kind of prosecution that Manning faced. ___________________________________________ This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Source URL: Donations can be sent to the Baltimore Nonviolence Center, 325 E. 25th St., Baltimore, MD 21218. Ph: 410-366-1637; Email: mobuszewski [at] Go to "The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. The master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and everything to lose--especially their lives." Eugene Victor Debs

What Bradley Manning's Sentence Will Tell Us

Actually Manning will be sentenced late August. Moore writes: "Manning now faces a potential maximum sentence of 136 years in jail. When his sentence is announced tomorrow, we'll all get a good idea of how seriously the U.S. military takes different crimes." Bradley Manning. (photo: Brendan Smialowski/Getty Images) What Bradley Manning's Sentence Will Tell Us By Michael Moore, Open Mike Blog 31 July 13 oday Bradley Manning was convicted on 20 of 22 counts, including violating the Espionage Act, releasing classified information and disobeying orders. That's the bad news. The good news is he was found not guilty on the charge of "aiding the enemy." That's 'cause who he was aiding was us, the American people. And we're not the enemy. Right? Manning now faces a potential maximum sentence of 136 years in jail. When his sentence is announced tomorrow, we'll all get a good idea of how seriously the U.S. military takes different crimes. When you hear about how long Manning - now 25 years old - will be in prison, compare it to sentences received by other soldiers: Col. Thomas M. Pappas, the senior military intelligence officer at Abu Ghraib and the senior officer present the night of the murder of Iraqi prisoner Manadel al-Jamadi, received no jail time. But he was reprimanded and fined $8,000. (Pappas was heard to say about al-Jamadi, "I'm not going down for this alone.") Sgt. Sabrina Harman, the woman famously seen giving a thumbs-up next to al-Jamadi's body and in another photo smiling next to naked, hooded Iraqis stacked on each other in Abu Ghraib, was sentenced to six months for maltreating detainees. Spec. Armin Cruz was sentenced to eight months for abusing Iraqis at Abu Ghraib and covering up the abuse. Spc. Steven Ribordy was sentenced to eight months for being accessory to the murder of four Iraqi prisoners who were "bound, blindfolded, shot and dumped in a canal" in Baghdad in 2007. Spc. Belmor Ramos was sentenced to seven months for conspiracy to commit murder in the same case. Sgt. Michael Leahy Jr. was sentenced to life in prison for committing the four Baghdad murders. The military then granted him clemency and reduced his sentence to 20 years, with parole possible after seven. Marine Sgt. Frank D. Wuterich received no jail time for negligent dereliction in the massacre of 24 unarmed men, women and children in 2005 in the Iraqi town of Haditha. Seven other members of his battalion were charged but none were punished in any way. Marine Lance Cpl. Jerry Shumate and Lance Cpl. Tyler Jackson were both sentenced to 21 months for the aggravated assault of Hashim Ibrahim Awad, 52, a father of 11 and grandfather of four, in Al Hamdania in 2006. Awad died after being shot during the assault. Their sentences were later reduced. Marine Lance Cpl. Robert Pennington was sentenced to eight years for the same incident, but served only a few months before being granted clemency and released from prison. Marine Sgt. Lawrence G. Hutchins III was sentenced to 15 years for murder in the Awad case but his conviction was soon overturned and he was released. No soldiers received any punishment for the killing of five Iraqi children, four women and two men in one Ishaqi home in 2006. Among the U.S. diplomatic cables leaked by Bradley Manning was email from a UN official stating that U.S. soldiers had "executed all of them." When Wikileaks published the cable, the uproar in Iraq was so big that the Nouri al-Maliki government couldn't grant any remaining U.S. troops immunity from prosecution in Iraqi courts, thus forcing the Obama administration to abandon its plans to keep several thousand U.S. soldiers in Iraq permanently. All U.S. troops were removed at the end of 2011. My guess is Bradley Manning will spend more time in jail than all of the other soldiers in all of these cases put together. And thus, instead of redeeming ourselves and asking forgiveness for the crimes that Spc. Manning exposed, we will reaffirm to the world who we really are. Donations can be sent to the Baltimore Nonviolence Center, 325 E. 25th St., Baltimore, MD 21218. Ph: 410-366-1637; Email: mobuszewski [at] Go to "The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. The master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and everything to lose--especially their lives." Eugene Victor Debs

'Blow the Whistle, Face Life in Jail': Progressives Slam Verdict in Manning Case

Published on Portside ( 'Blow the Whistle, Face Life in Jail': Progressives Slam Verdict in Manning Case Jon Queally Tuesday, July 30, 2013 Common Dreams [Democracy Now carried in depth coverage which is available here [1] - moderator] Reactions to the verdict in the Bradley Manning trial were swift on Tuesday. Though some found solace in the fact that the 25-year-old US Army whistleblower was found "not guilty" on the "most outrageous" charge of "aiding the enemy," voices across the progressive community were expressing mixtures of outrage and sadness after Judge Col. Denise Lind found Manning guilty on 19 other counts that could lead to a sentence of more than 100 years in prison. The Center for Constitutional Rights put out a statement [2], which read in part: While the "aiding the enemy" charges (on which Manning was rightly acquitted) received the most attention from the mainstream media, the Espionage Act itself is a discredited relic of the WWI era, created as a tool to suppress political dissent and antiwar activism, and it is outrageous that the government chose to invoke it in the first place against Manning. Government employees who blow the whistle on war crimes, other abuses and government incompetence should be protected under the First Amendment. We now live in a country where someone who exposes war crimes can be sentenced to life even if not found guilty of aiding the enemy, while those responsible for the war crimes remain free. If the government equates being a whistleblower with espionage or aiding the enemy, what is the future of journalism in this country? What is the future of the First Amendment? Manning’s treatment, prosecution, and sentencing have one purpose: to silence potential whistleblowers and the media as well. Wikileaks founder Julian Assange issued a long response [3] which included this assessment of the case: This is the first ever espionage conviction against a whistleblower. It is a dangerous precedent and an example of national security extremism. It is a short sighted judgment that can not be tolerated and must be reversed. It can never be that conveying true information to the public is ’espionage’. President Obama has initiated more espionage proceedings against whistleblowers and publishers than all previous presidents combined. In 2008 presidential candidate Barack Obama ran on a platform that praised whistleblowing as an act of courage and patriotism. That platform has been comprehensively betrayed. His campaign document described whistleblowers as watchdogs when government abuses its authority. It was removed from the internet last week. Throughout the proceedings there has been a conspicuous absence: the absence of any victim. The prosecution did not present evidence that - or even claim that - a single person came to harm as a result of Bradley Manning’s disclosures. The government never claimed Mr. Manning was working for a foreign power. The only ’victim’ was the US government’s wounded pride, but the abuse of this fine young man was never the way to restore it. Rather, the abuse of Bradley Manning has left the world with a sense of disgust at how low the Obama administration has fallen. It is not a sign of strength, but of weakness. Journalist Marcy Wheeler writes [4] at Salon: That Lind found Manning guilty of 20 charges is not a surprise. Manning himself had pled guilty [5] to 10 lesser offenses the day he read his statement, pleading to “unauthorized possession” and “willful communication” of most, but not all of the items he was accused of leaking. On several of the charges — notably, Manning’s leak of a video of Americans shooting a Reuters journalist — Lind accepted Manning’s lesser pleas. [...] But the big news — and very good news — is that Manning is innocent of the aiding the enemy charge. That ruling averted a potentially catastrophic effect on freedom of speech in this country. Freelance journalist Nathan Fuller, who has covered the trial extensively on behalf of the Bradley Manning Support Network, tweeted: Nathan Fuller @nathanLfuller [6] Relieved that he was acquitted of aiding the enemy, and totally outraged that Bradley Manning was convicted of Espionage. Nathan Fuller @nathanLfuller [7] Bradley Manning still faces more than 100 years in a cage or exposing war crimes, abuse, and corruption Reporter Without Borders highlighted the important role [8] leaks provided Manning played in exposing war crimes by the US government: The verdict is warning to all whistleblowers [9], against whom the Obama administration has been waging an unprecedented offensive that has ignored the public interest in their revelations. It also threatens the future of investigative journalism, which risks finding its sources drying up. “The information that Manning allegedly passed to WikiLeaks – used by newspapers such as The New York Times, The Guardian, Der Spiegel and Le Monde in coordination with Julian Assange’s website ¬– included revelations of grave abuses in the ‘war on terror’ launched by the Bush administration,” Reporters Without Borders said. “The ‘collateral’ fatal shooting of Reuters employees by a U.S. Army helicopter in Baghdad in July 2007 is a well-known example (see video [10]). Should this reality have been concealed from the U.S. public and international opinion? Which was more serious – committing such crimes or revealing them to the public? The ACLU's Ben Wizner director of the ACLU's Speech, Privacy and Technology Project, released this statement [11]: While we're relieved that Mr. Manning was acquitted of the most dangerous charge, the ACLU has long held the view that leaks to the press in the public interest should not be prosecuted under the Espionage Act. Since Manning already pleaded guilty to charges of leaking information – which carry significant punishment – it seems clear that the government was seeking to intimidate anyone who might consider revealing valuable information in the future. Guardian journalist James Ball writes [12]: The prosecution of Manning was intended to send a signal. If nothing else, it has done that. It has shown that when faced with evidence of its own wrongdoing, the current US administration focuses on punishing the messenger. It shows the first amendment is easier to honour in the abstract than in reality. And it risks sending a message to nations that routinely imprison, assault or even kill journalists and activists, that when it comes to the crunch, the supposed leader of the free world is not much different. This trial has not been the proudest moment in America's history. It should serve as a warning to those who care about its future. And hopefully, it can also be a turning point. Amnesty International also released a statement [13] on the verdict: It undermines accountability when the US government is so selective about who it chooses to investigate and prosecute, Amnesty International said. This is particularly true when they seem intent on punishing those who reveal unlawful government behaviour and protecting those who actually engaged in or ordered such behaviour. “Since the attacks of September 11, we have seen the US government use the issue of national security to defend a whole range of actions that are unlawful under international and domestic law,” said Widney Brown, Senior Director of International Law and Policy at Amnesty International. “It's hard not to draw the conclusion that Manning's trial was about sending a message: the US government will come after you, no holds barred, if you're thinking of revealing evidence of its unlawful behaviour.” And the Manning family released a statement, via Manning's aunt, to the Guardian, which thanked those who supported him and expressed a mixture of emotions on the heels of the verdict: While we are obviously disappointed in today’s verdicts, we are happy that Judge Lind agreed with us that Brad never intended to help America’s enemies in any way. Brad loves his country and was proud to wear its uniform. We want to express our deep thanks to David Coombs, who has dedicated three years of his life to serving as lead counsel in Brad’s case. We also want to thank Brad’s Army defense team, Major Thomas Hurley and Captain Joshua Tooman, for their tireless efforts on Brad’s behalf, and Brad’s first defense counsel, Captain Paul Bouchard, who was so helpful to all of us in those early confusing days and first suggested David Coombs as Brad’s counsel. Most of all, we would like to thank the thousands of people who rallied to Brad’s cause, providing financial and emotional support throughout this long and difficult time, especially Jeff Paterson and Courage to Resist and the Bradley Manning Support Network. Their support has allowed a young Army private to defend himself against the full might of not only the US Army but also the US Government. Source URL: Links: [1] [2] [3] [4] [5] [6] [7] [8],44995.html [9],44651.html [10],36951.html [11] [12] [13] Donations can be sent to the Baltimore Nonviolence Center, 325 E. 25th St., Baltimore, MD 21218. Ph: 410-366-1637; Email: mobuszewski [at] Go to "The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. The master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and everything to lose--especially their lives." Eugene Victor Debs

Baltimore Activist Alert - July 31 - Aug. 8

16] “Iranian Public Opinion and the Rowhani Presidency" – July 31 17] HR 676 briefing – July 31 18] Nuclear Threat Initiative – July 31 19] Exile and Palestinian Consciousness – July 31 20] Student Activist Training – July 31 21] Book Event with Rosalie Riegle – July 31 22] View '5 Broken Cameras' – Aug. 1 23] Stop the Hate on the Yemeni People – Aug. 1 24] WRL conference – Aug.1 - 4 25] Practice a pitch to state legislators – Aug. 1 26] Hiroshima-Nagasaki commemorations – Aug, 6 & 8 16] – On Wed., July 31 from 10 to 11:30 AM, Ebrahim Mohseni, University of Tehran Polling Center, will discuss "Attitudes from Tehran: Iranian Public Opinion and the Rowhani Presidency" at the New America Foundation, 1899 L St. NW, Suite 400, WDC 20036. RSVP at 17] – On Wed., July 31 at 11 AM, catch Gerald Friedman’s Congressional Briefing on Student Activist Training. Be at a Congressional Briefing on Gerald Friedman’s new HR 676 Economic Impact Study, sponsored by Physicians for a National Health Program. Afterwards there will be a press conference outside the Capitol with Rep. John Conyers and Sen. Bernie Sanders for Medicare’s Anniversary. We need single-payer activists to bring signs of support for Improved Medicare for All. The briefing is in Cannon Room 121 (South of the Capitol bounded by Independence Ave., First St., New Jersey Ave., and C St. SE. The press conference is at 1 PM at the House Triangle (located just outside the Capitol Visitor’s Center. Call Healthcare-NOW at 800-453-1305. 18] – On Wed., July 31 from noon to 1:30 PM, John Carlson, Nuclear Threat Initiative, will speak about "Pyroprocessing Safeguards: Technical-Institutional Measures and Nonproliferation Implications" at Global America Business Institute, 1001 Connecticut Ave. NW, Suite 435, WDC. RSVP at 19] –The 14th Annual Summer Intern Lecture Series: Exile and Palestinian Consciousness is happening on Wed., July 31 from 12:30 to 2 PM at The Palestine Center, 2425 Virginia Ave. NW. This panel will feature local Arab art experts, Ms. Ikram Lakhdhar and Ms. Manal Deeb, for a discussion about art, resistance and exile. Art plays a unique role in shaping national consciousness and preserving Palestinian identity, serving to both inform and reflect national movements, from the Arab Spring to the Palestinian experience. Drawing on knowledge from personal experience as well as research, each of the panelists will offer insight into the importance of art for people of all nationalities, and especially for Palestinians, for whom art is a link to a lost homeland and a historical narrative that will not be erased. See 20] – Participate in a Student Activist Training With Public Citizen on Wed., July 31 from 2 to 5 PM at the Public Citizen Offices, 1600 20th St. NW. The goal is to educating students about the effects of money in politics and about the student movement to create a democracy of, for and by the people. Open to both DC area students as well as reach out to those that work with students (internship employers, etc. Students will learn the most effective activist and leadership skills including volunteer recruitment, outreach and communications, and working with the media. Students will also have a chance to network with peers and with nonprofit professionals who have influenced the D.C. area and the nation. Email or call 202-588-7717. 21] – Get over to a Book Event with Rosalie Riegle on Wed., July 31 from 6:30 to 8 PM at Busboys & Poets, 5th & K Sts., Cullen Room, WDC. The co-sponsors are Dorothy Day Catholic Worker, War Resisters League, Jonah House and the Murphy Peace Institute. Go to Rosalie Riegle is the author of “Doing Time for Peace: Resistance, Family, and Community” and “Crossing the Line: Nonviolent Resisters Speak Out for Peace.” Rosalie will be joined by several narrators featured in her work. 22] – View '5 Broken Cameras' on the AIPAC HQ Building on Thurs., Aug. 1 at 12:30 PM at 251 H St. NW. Join CODEPINK DC as they screen Emad Burnat's '5 Broken Cameras' on the outside wall of AIPAC's (American Israel Public Affairs Committee) HQ. Bring your lawn chairs, popcorn, and bug spray for this drive-in style screening projected right onto the building of the Israel lobby's HQ itself! Go to 23] – Join a rally Stop the killing, Stop the Hate on the Yemeni people on Thurs., Aug. 1 at 1 PM at the White House, 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. NW. Hold President Hadi and President Obama accountable. President Obama will be meeting with Yemeni President Abdo Rabbu Mansour Hadi at the White House. According to the White House press release, the two will be discussing the Yemen-US partnership and shared interest in the stability of Yemen, the Yemeni counter-terrorism partnership, and the Yemeni detainees at Guantanamo Bay who have been designated for transfer. If the US is serious about supporting a democratic transition of Yemen then both President Obama and President Hadi must respect the Yemeni people's right to self-determination. President Hadi and President Obama must fully respect the rule of law and the human rights and dignity of the Yemeni people. Bring home Guantanamo prisoners and End the Drone War. See 24] – The War Resisters League's 90th Anniversary Conference is taking place on Thurs., Aug. 1 from 5 PM through Sun., Aug. 4 at 10 AM at Georgetown University. See Speakers at the conference will include Barbara Ehrenreich, Winona LaDuke, Phyllis Bennis, Sachio Ko-Yin, David Swanson, Arun Gupta, Bruce Gagnon, Leslie Cagan, David McReynolds and others. Register at 25] – On Thurs., Aug. 1 at 7 PM at Noel Levy's house in Pikesville, practice a spiel and prepare for meetings with state legislators. Newbies welcome. Practice a pitch to state legislators on why the Maryland General Assembly needs to pass a resolution for a ‘Convention of the States’ (‘Article V Convention’) to propose the 28th Amendment to the Constitution. The amendment is for Free and Fair elections and overturning the ‘Citizens United’ Supreme Court decision (getting money out of politics). RSVP required at 410-849-0670 (leave a message) or The location is 11 Windsong Court, Pikesville, 21208, just off Keyser Road, which is between Woodvalley Road and Stevenson Road. It’s north of the Beltway, between exits 21 and 22. Noel’s number is 410-486-1541 if you need to call. 26] – For the 29th year, the Hiroshima-Nagasaki Commemoration Committee will remember the atomic bombings of Japan on August 6 & 9, 1945, which killed more than 200,000 people. Other organizations involved in the commemorations are Baltimore Quaker Peace and Justice Committee of Homewood and Stony Run Meetings, Chesapeake Physicians for Social Responsibility, Crabshell Alliance and Pledge of Resistance-Baltimore. The HIROSHIMA COMMEMORATION is on Tues., Aug. 6, and starts at 33rd & N. Charles Sts. at 5 PM. Demonstrate against Johns Hopkins University’s weapons contracts, including research on killer drones, commemorate the atomic bombing of Hiroshima, and remember the nuclear energy disaster at Fukushima, Japan. At 6 PM, there will be a potluck dinner at Homewood Friends Meeting, 3107 N. Charles Street. At 7 PM, a Hibakusha guest, Setsuko Thurlow, will speak about the atomic bombing. At 7:30 PM, there will be a performance of an anti-killer drone strike play – THE PREDATOR by Jack Gilory. The NAGASAKI COMMEMORATION is on Thurs., Aug. 8 at Homewood Friends Meeting, 3107 N. Charles St. At 7 PM, remember Nagasaki with the DVD showing of THE MAN WHO SA VED THE WORLD, followed by a discussion led by Dr. Art Milholland. At 8:30 PM, join a discussion of the nuclear energy disaster at Fukushima. Call 410-366-1637 or email mobuszewski at To be continued. Donations can be sent to the Baltimore Nonviolence Center, 325 E. 25th St., Baltimore, MD 21218. Ph: 410-366-1637; Email: mobuszewski [at] Go to "The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. The master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and everything to lose--especially their lives." Eugene Victor Debs

Monday, July 29, 2013

‘Fruitvale Station,’ a Landmark

Published on Portside ( ‘Fruitvale Station,’ a Landmark Julianne Hing : Monday, July 8, 2013 ColorLines When audiences see actor Michael B. Jordan get pulled off the BART train in “Fruitvale Station [1],” they’ll see the dramatized last moments of Oscar Grant’s life, filmed at the actual station where BART police officer Johannes Mehserle killed him on New Year’s Eve 2009. The feature film premieres nationally on July 12 to plenty of early buzz and rave reviews for director Ryan Coogler’s debut effort, and for performances from actors like Jordan and Academy Award winner Octavia Spencer, who plays Grant’s mother. But for many in the Bay Area who lived through Grant’s death and the national outrage that followed, the real-life sets will be just as arresting. Fruitvale Station became a landmark in the community almost immediately after Mehserle gunned Grant down there. Situated in the middle of a bustling Latino immigrant neighborhood, Fruitvale is a popular starting point for protests and marches for a range of issues. But it will forever be tied to Grant’s death. “Anyone in our community can point to other locations where somebody was killed or brutalized by the police,” says Dereca Blackmon, an organizer and co-founder of the Coalition Against Police Executions, which was formed after Grant’s death. “What Fruitvale actually memorializes is, ‘Here is where a cop was actually caught and held accountable.’ “ The film opens with the cell phone footage that lit up the Internet in the days after Grant was killed. Fruitvale’s cement walls and faded beams are there in the grainy cell phone vidoes. So are the glass windows looking out onto the street below, turned into mirrors in the night; the staggered brown tile floors; the fluorescent lighting and cream interior walls of the BART train. Today many people wait for their trains exactly in the spot where Grant was killed. And that same cement wall and those same dark windows are there in the movie, when Grant and his friends and Mehserle are replaced by actors. It was New Year’s Eve 2009 and Grant and his friends were on their way back to the East Bay from San Francisco. They’d taken public transit on his mom’s suggestion, for safety. Along the ride a fight broke out on the train. At Fruitvale BART, transit police officers pulled Grant and his friends off the car while the train, packed with New Year’s Eve revelers, idled with its doors open. Mehserle and other transit police officers were responsible for calming down the situation, but did exactly the opposite. After an officer named Tony Pirone kneed Grant and called him “a bitch ass n——-,” Pirone and Mehserle moved to handcuff him—Pirone by pushing his knee down on top of Grant’s neck. Mehserle stood, pulled his Sig Sauer P226 from its holster, and shot Grant in the back. Grant was lying face down on the platform. He was just 22 years old. All of this was caught on video and uploaded to YouTube. It shook up the country. Police violence is nothing new for black and brown communities, but something was different this time. Mehserle shot an unarmed Grant at point blank range, while he was laying on his stomach. The cell phone videos provided unequivocal proof of the kind of police brutality that is an all too regular part of life for many young men of color. In the days following Grant’s death Davey D, host of Hard Knock Radio on KPFA in the Bay Area says he remembered seeing people in Oakland crying openly. “People were so angry and so frustrated and so in disbelief that this was happening,” says Davey D. “You could see the look of pain in people’s faces.” Grant was killed three weeks before President Obama was first inaugurated, and the nation’s glee over electing its first black president was still palpable. There was a sense that justice would be swift, the radio journalist recalls. So after the shooting happened and Obama never addressed it, and the Department of Justice’s inquiry ultimately went nowhere, the letdown was especially bitter. “Fruitvale represented a couple things. It symbolized the continuation of police brutality, and it was a stark reminder that even with a black president and a black attorney general, shit ain’t changed and folks were gonna have to do it for themselves,” Davey D says. The very first community protest happened at Fruitvale Station, just over a week after Grant’s death. At that first protest the energy of the crowd, so swollen with anger and pain, compelled BART officials to shut the gates to the station. (Watch YouTube footage of the protest [2].) Silence from the city’s leaders compounded the community outrage, says Blackmon. Organizers moved subsequent protests to the Alameda County courthouse to demand that the district attorney file criminal charges against Mehserle. But while the largest protests took place downtown at Frank Ogawa Plaza and in the streets of Oakland, Fruitvale remained a place to gather and protest and remember, and became a landmark. The day before Mehserle was released from prison in 2011, hundreds gathered [3] once again to demand structural accountability and an end to police violence. There was also a community push to rename the station Oscar Grant Station. “Some people wanted to remember that,” says Davey D. “And some people didn’t want to go back on BART for a long time. [Police violence] happens so much that there’s a certain, I wouldn’t say normalization, but you just learn to cope with it.” As common as police killings of black and Latino men are, accountability rarely follows. Even Mehserle’s second-degree murder charges were a victory of sorts; it’s extremely rare for on-duty police officers to be charged with murder when they kill people, and even rarer still for a conviction to stick. In 2010, just three days after a judge sentenced Mehserle to two years in prison, which was the lightest possible sentence, Oakland police officers fired nine shots at a black man named Derrick Jones as he fled, hitting him six times. Jones died. In 2011 Oakland school police officers shot and killed 20-year-old Raheim Brown outside of a high school dance. Last year Oakland police officers shot and killed 18-year-old high school senior Alan Blueford after he and his friends were stopped by cops. The DA’s office has declined to charge officers of those subsequent shootings with any criminal wrongdoing. This ever elusive justice has activists questioning the utility of turning to the criminal justice system to demand accountability of its own members. “We’ve started asking the question: Does it make sense to ask the institutions that kill us for justice?” said Cat Brooks, a co-chair of the Onyx Organizing Committee, a group dedicated to ending police violence. “For me, the most important conversation that is happening now is how do we grow this beyond any individual young man into a larger campaign against police terror? How do we come together to create enough pushback … so they know they can’t get away with it anymore?” Brooks said. Almost five years on from Grant’s death, Brooks, who lives in West Oakland, still avoids the Fruitvale BART station as much as she can. “It is and forever will be where Johannes Mehserle executed Oscar Grant.” Every year on the anniversary of his death, Grant’s family and community gather at Fruitvale for a remembrance of his life. It’s a tradition now. “But what ends up happening,” Blackmon says, “is there’s always five more mothers standing next to [Grant’s mother] Wanda, every year.” Links: [1] [2] [3] Donations can be sent to the Baltimore Nonviolence Center, 325 E. 25th St., Baltimore, MD 21218. Ph: 410-366-1637; Email: mobuszewski [at] Go to "The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. The master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and everything to lose--especially their lives." Eugene Victor Debs

Manning decision/'Do the Right Thing': World Rallies Behind Bradley Manning

Friends, Judge Denise Lind announced that she has reached a verdict in Pfc. Bradley Manning's trial, and the decision is expected at 1 PM on Tuesday, July 30. I am expecting the worst possible verdict. Her verdict is sure to be appealed. After the judge issues a verdict, there will be multiple weeks where prosecutors present their sentencing case. The defense is well prepared. This chapter in the court martial will be contentious. If Manning is convicted of "aiding the enemy," there will be an immediate appeal to the Army Court of Criminal Appeals. I will leave Baltimore at noon on Tuesday to vigil outside the main gate of Fort Meade. Most supporters will go inside the courtroom. I hope my pessimism is misplaced. Kagiso, Max Published on Monday, July 29, 2013 by Common Dreams 'Do the Right Thing': World Rallies Behind Bradley Manning International Day of Solidarity as the whistleblower awaits sentencing, faces 11th hour switch in charges - Sarah Lazare, staff writer Army private Bradley Manning received an outpouring of support over the weekend as people around the world launched rallies, vigils, and civil disobedience actions demanding the release of the whistleblower. Yet, inside the courtroom, Manning has been met with anything but support: the whistleblower faces a last-minute change in charges that his lawyers say defies due process and could weaken his defense. From London to Seoul to San Francisco, organizers in over 40 cities across the globe launched solidarity actions Saturday, as Manning awaits sentencing from the judge overseeing his case. The actions included protests at US embassies throughout Europe, a large banner drop in Florida, and a flash mob in San Francisco, organizers told Common Dreams. RT reports 40 protests in German cities alone, with the largest German rally in Frankfurt. "It is very heartwarming to see people support him, but it is not a surprise, and support is growing day after day," Farah Muhsin of the Bradley Manning Support Network told Common Dreams. "People see that this is not a fair trial, and they see that Bradley Manning did the right thing and the heroic thing, sparking the debate he hoped to spark about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, about US involvement in other countries. Organizing these actions helps spark these debates." Last week, the presiding judge defied legal propriety and assisted the prosecution by allowing the government to change its charges just days away from sentencing, to accusations that Manning 'stole' portions of databases, rather than entire databases. This puts the defense at a severe disadvantage, as they have spent the previous months defending against charges that are now irrelavent. Manning's defense is demanding a mistrial on the 'theft' charges. Jeff Paterson and Nathan Fuller of the Bradley Manning Support Network declared in a statement, "If [the judge] does not declare a mistrial on the theft charges, she will be taking the government’s unsupported position yet again, further prejudicing Bradley Manning, whose trial is already rife with injustice." The weekend protests followed several rallies last week—timed to garner support as Manning enters the sentencing phase—including an action immediately following closing arguments in Manning's trial, in which supporters blocked the gates to Ft. McNair, Washington, D.C. at the office of Major General Jeffrey Buchanan, the trial's convening authority. Manning's supporters are calling on Buchanan—who has the ability to reduce Manning's sentence—to 'do the right thing' and protect the whistleblower. Manning is currently facing a possible life sentence for exposing hundreds of thousands of classified documents revealing US war crimes and injustices after the judge presiding his trial refused to drop the 'aiding the enemy' charge. Manning's supporters have blasted military authorities and the Obama Administration for denying the private due process, elevating his charges, and placing him in solitary confinement torture conditions for nearly a year—severe punishments that critics say are aimed at intimidating whistleblowers. Update: The judge presiding over Manning's case announced today that the verdict will be read at 1pm eastern time Tuesday. _____________________ This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License Source URL: Donations can be sent to the Baltimore Nonviolence Center, 325 E. 25th St., Baltimore, MD 21218. Ph: 410-366-1637; Email: mobuszewski [at] Go to "The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. The master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and everything to lose--especially their lives." Eugene Victor Debs

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Russia Dumped 17 Nuclear Reactors and Tons of Waste in the Arctic Russia Dumped 17 Nuclear Reactors and Tons of Waste in the Arctic 30 AUG 2012 by Charles Digges / Enormous quantities of decommissioned Russian nuclear reactors and radioactive waste were dumped into the Kara Sea in the Arctic Ocean north of Siberia over a course of decades, according to documents given to Norwegian officials by Russian authorities and published in Norwegian media. Bellona had received in 2011 a draft of a similar report prepared for Russia’s Gossoviet, the State Council, for presentation at a meeting presided over by then-president Dmitry Medvedev on Russian environmental security. The Russian state nuclear corporation Rosatom confirmed the figures in February of this year during a seminar it jointly held with Bellona in Moscow. Bellona is alarmed by the extent of the dumped Soviet waste, which is far greater than was previously known – not only to Bellona, but also to the Russian authorities themselves. The catalogue of waste dumped at sea by the Soviets, according to documents seen by Bellona, and which were today released by the Norwegian daily Aftenposten, includes some 17,000 containers of radioactive waste, 19 ships containing radioactive waste, 14 nuclear reactors, including five that still contain spent nuclear fuel; 735 other pieces of radioactively contaminated heavy machinery, and the K-27 nuclear submarine with its two reactors loaded with nuclear fuel. Bellona’s two decades on the case “Bellona has worked with this issue since 1992 when we first revealed the dangerous nuclear waste laying at the bottom of the Kara Sea,” said Bellona President Frederic Hauge. He acknowledged, however, that a precise accounting from the Russian side could hardly be expected given Russia’s own ignorance of the extent of the dumped radioactive waste. Hauge demanded that Norwegian Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Støre take the issue up with his counterparts in the Russian foreign ministry as soon as possible. “The Norwegian government talks a lot about oil and gas with the Russian government,” said Hauge. “But this report shows that decommissioned nuclear reactors and radioactive waste must be much higher on the agenda when the two countries meet on an official level. Gradual revelations Per Strand of the Norwegian Radiation Protection Authority told Aftenposten that the information on the radioactive waste had come from the Russian authorities gradually. “No one can guarantee that this outline we have received is complete,” he said. He added that Russia has set up a special commission to undertake the task of mapping the waste, the paper reported. A Norwegian-Russian Expert Group will this week start an expedition in areas of the Kara Sea, which the report released by Russia says was used as a radioactive dump until the early 1990s. The expedition will represent the first time Norway has participated in plumming the depths of Russian waters for radioactive waste since 1994, said Aftenposten. Making way for oil exploration Bellona’s Igor Kurdrik, an expert on Russian naval nuclear waste, said that, “We know that the Russians have an interest in oil exploration in this area. They therefore want to know were the radioactive waste is so they can clean it up before they beging oil recovery operations.” He cautiously praised the openness of the Russian report given to Norway and that Norway would be taking part in the waste charting expedition. Bellona thinks that Russia has passed its report to Norway as a veiled cry for help, as the exent of the problem is far too great for Moscow to handle on its own. The most crucial find missing Kudrik said that one of the most critical pieces of information missing from the report released to the Norwegian Radiation Protection Authority was the presence of the K-27 nuclear submarine, which was scuttled in 50 kilometers of water with its two reactors filled with spent nuclear fuel in in Stepovogo Bay in the Kara Sea in 1981. Information that the reactors about the K-27 could reachieve criticality and explode was released at the Bellona-Rosatom seminar in February. “This danger had previously been unknown, and is very important information. When they search and map these reactors, they must be the first priority,” said Kudrik. Researchers will now evaluate whether it is possible to raise the submarine, and attempt to determine if it is leaking radioactivity into the sea. Bård Vegar Solhjell, Norway’s Minster of the Environment sought in Aftenposten to play down dangers associated with the enormous Soviet-era nuclear dumping ground. “I am concerned that people should not be unnecessarily disturbed by this – we do not yet know if anything is seriously wrong,” he said. He added that he was not aware of any risk of explosion aboard the sunken K-27. Other sources of contamination Similar joint expeditions between Russia and Norway to map radioactive waste were undertaken in the waters east of Novaya Zemlya in 1992, 1993, and 1994. The expeditions aimed to establish the dangers posed by the dumped radioactive waste. Novaya Zemlya was a nuclear weapons testing site during the Cold War. Russia has conducted a number of other expeditons to chart undersea sources of radioactive pollution since 1994, but without Norwegian assistance, said Aftenposten. Igor Kurdrik contributed to this report. Donations can be sent to the Baltimore Nonviolence Center, 325 E. 25th St., Baltimore, MD 21218. Ph: 410-366-1637; Email: mobuszewski [at] Go to "The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. The master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and everything to lose--especially their lives." Eugene Victor Debs

Can you visit Phantom?/Chevron Granted Access to Environmental Activists' Email Accounts

Friends, I am going away for a few days. Can you stop in to visit my cat Phantom while I am away? If yes, call 410-366-1637 or email mobuszewski at Kagiso, Max White reports: "Oil giant Chevron has been granted access to 'more than 100 email accounts, including environmental activists, journalists, and attorneys' involved in a long-running dispute involving damage 'caused by oil drilling' in Ecuador, reports the Electronic Frontier Foundation." Indigenous Ecuadorean leader Emergildo Criollo travels from Amazon rainforest to California to deliver 325,000+ letters urging Chevron's new CEO John Watson to clean up the oil giant's toxic legacy. (photo: Jonathan McIntosh/Rainforest Action Network) Chevron Granted Access to Environmental Activists' Email Accounts By Alex White, Guardian UK 24 July 13 Is oil giant Chevron trying to stifle criticism of its Ecuadorian oil drilling operations by accessing private email accounts of critics? il giant Chevron has been granted access to "more than 100 email accounts, including environmental activists, journalists, and attorneys" involved in a long-running dispute involving damage "caused by oil drilling" in Ecuador, reports the Electronic Frontier Foundation. Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) which, with EarthRights International (ERI), is opposing the New York court's decision says: After years of litigation, an Ecuadorian court last year imposed a judgment of over $17 billion on Chevron for dumping toxic waste into Amazon waterways and causing massive harm to the rainforest. Instead of paying, Chevron sued more than 50 people who were involved in the Ecuador lawsuit, claiming they were part of a conspiracy to defraud the oil giant. None of the individuals represented by EFF and ERI has been sued by Chevron or accused of wrongdoing. Both EFF and ERI have warned that Chevron's subpoenas will have a "chilling effect" on people who would speak out against the oil company's activities in Ecuador and elsewhere. The background to the case was reported by Common Dreams staff writer Lauren McCauley: The oil giant is demanding the records in an attempt to cull together a lawsuit which alleges that the company was the victim of a conspiracy in the $18.2 billion judgment against it for dumping 18.5 billion gallons of oil waste in the Ecuadorean Amazon, causing untold damage to the rainforest. EarthRights International has also raised concerns that the presiding judge, Lewis Kaplan, who has been "accused of prejudice against Ecuadorians and their lawyers" made some sweeping and startling arguments in this case: Kaplan's decision upheld Chevron's sweeping subpoena with an argument that is as breathtaking as the subpoena itself. According to Judge Kaplan, none of the accountholders could benefit from First Amendment protections since the accountholders had "not shown that they were U.S. citizens." Now, let's break this down. The account-holders in this case were proceeding anonymously, which the First Amendment permits. Because of this, Judge Kaplan was provided with no information about the account holders' residency or places of birth. It is somewhat amazing then, that Judge Kaplan assumed that the account holders were not US citizens. As far as I know, a judge has never before made this assumption when presented with a First Amendment claim. We have to ask then: on what basis did Judge Kaplan reach out and make this assumption? Regardless of what you think of the USA's first amendment rights, this case has some exceptionally worrying ramifications for people who oppose the environmental destruction caused by multinational oil corporations. Chevron is one of the "rogue" fossil fuel companies named by global climate activist Bill McKibben in his Rolling Stone article, Do The Math, whose reserves, if burned, amount to a carbon bomb: According to the Carbon Tracker report, if Exxon burns its current reserves, it would use up more than seven percent of the available atmospheric space between us and the risk of two degrees. BP is just behind, followed by the Russian firm Gazprom, then Chevron, ConocoPhillips and Shell, each of which would fill between three and four percent. Taken together, just these six firms, of the 200 listed in the Carbon Tracker report, would use up more than a quarter of the remaining two-degree budget. In Australia, environmental groups and individual conservationists were targeted with SLAPP suits (strategic lawsuit against public participation), aimed at destroying community opposition to damaging developments. David R Baker, writing in SFGate, commented in June 2013 on Chevron's litigation tactics: That aggressive strategy has worked wonders, putting Chevron's opponents on the defensive and convincing many people that the Ecuador suit is a sham. And you can trace much of that strategy back to a 2008 memo by San Francisco's master of crisis communications, Sam Singer. Singer has built up an impressive practice of counseling companies, public agencies and government officials facing controversy. (Chronicle reporter Heather Knight, writing last year in our City Insider blog, called Singer the kind of crisis manager who can make shoplifting politicians seem sympathetic.) In October of 2008, he sent Chevron spokesman Kent Robertson a four-page memo outlining steps the company could take to change public perceptions of the Ecuador lawsuit. Singer recommended going on the offensive. The company should portray Ecuador's court system as corrupt, with collusion between judges and the plaintiffs in the lawsuit. Pointing out the leftward tilt of Ecuadoran President Rafael Correa wouldn't hurt. And Singer recommended "counter attacks" on the plaintiffs and their legal team, particularly lead lawyer Steven Donziger. It would appear that Chevron is using this subpoena to discourage opposition to its oil drilling operations. You can read the court documents here (pdf). Donations can be sent to the Baltimore Nonviolence Center, 325 E. 25th St., Baltimore, MD 21218. Ph: 410-366-1637; Email: mobuszewski [at] Go to "The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. The master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and everything to lose--especially their lives." Eugene Victor Debs

Baltimore Activist Alert - July 24-27, 2013

Friends, I am going away for a few days. Can you stop in to visit my cat Phantom while I am away? If yes, call 410-366-1637 or email mobuszewski at Kagiso, Max 19] Bradley Manning supporters meeting – July 24 20] Book talk on civil rights movement – July 24 21] Film “Occupy Love” – July 24 22] Bradley Manning court martial continues – July 25 23] Can an Agricultural Revolution Fight Climate Change? – July 25 24] Guestworkers, Immigration, and the Future of Workers Rights – July 25 25] Oppose Keystone XL and fossil fuels – July 25-27 26] Documentary TRIPLE DIVIDE – July 25 19] – Get over to the Bradley Manning Support Network Organizing Meeting on Wed., July 24 at 7 PM at the Peace House, 1233 12th St. NW (between M and N Sts. NW). Use the Metro at the Convention Center. Email 20] – The Brown Lecture Series presents Simeon Booker talking about his book “Shocking the Conscience: A Reporter’s Account of the Civil Rights Movement on Wed., July 24 at 7 PM at the Enoch Pratt Free Library, Central Library, 400 Cathedral St. Call 410-396-5430 or go to Booker wrote for Jet and Ebony for 53 years, longer than any other journalist. He was on the front lines of virtually every major event of the civil r4ights movement. This is the story of the century that changed everything about journalism, politics, and more in the USA. “Shocking the Conscience” was written with Carol McCabe Booker. 21] – The Baltimore Ethical Society is showing the film “Occupy Love” on Wed., July 24 at 7:30 PM. The film looks at the Occupy Movement and Arab Spring as expressions of a profound awakening. View the trailer here: Join the meetup: 22] – The trial of Army whistleblower Bradley Manning will continue on Thurs., July 25 at 9:30 AM for the defense and prosecution to make closing arguments. The judge will rule on two defense motions in the morning, after which the defense will face off against the prosecution with its compelling argument for why Bradley should not be convicted of Aiding the Enemy and other major changes. This will be an especially important day to attend the proceedings at Ft. Meade. If you plan on attending the proceedings, join the vigil outside the Main Gate of Ft. Meade during media check-in hour, from 7to 8:30 AM. 23] – Can an Agricultural Revolution Fight Climate Change? This will be discussed on Thurs., July 25 at 12:15 PM at 1899 L Street, N.W., Suite 400. By harnessing photosynthesis’ power, experts think we can turn a major part of the problem into a solution. But can we take this new way of thinking out of the lab and into the policy realm? Will American farmers, many of whom deny climate change is man-made, get onboard? Will Big Agriculture join in—or is it too focused on today’s profits to worry about tomorrow’s climate? Lunchtime debate with featured speakers hosted by the New America Foundation! Visit 24] – Guestworkers, Immigration, and the Future of Workers Rights is the topic on Thurs., July 25 from 6 to 8 PM at the Communications Workers of America, 501 3rd St. NW, WDC. Join the National Guestworker Alliance, Dissent Magazine, and Georgetown University's Kalmanovitz Initiative for Labor and the Working Poor in a discussion about the future of workers' rights in the United States. Visit 25] – Oppose Keystone XL and fossil fuels and remind President Obama, Keep your Promise. has organized Summer Heat. Working with local groups, they're mobilizing activists at a dozen actions across the country in the next few weeks to stand up against Keystone XL, coal, fracking, toxic pollution, and the industry that brings them to us. On Fri., July 26 at noon, join a resistance action on K Street to protest a corporation supporting Keystone XL. On Sat., July 27 at 11:30 AM, rally for Independence from Fossil Fuels, across from the White House in Lafayette Park. Those participating in the action on Friday will need to attend a training on Thursday at 6 PM at Saint Stephen and the Incarnation Church, 1525 Newton St. On Sat., July 27, Rally for Independence from Fossil Fuels. Walkers will leave St. Stephens Church at 9:30 AM, walk through Meridian Hill/Malcolm X Park on 16th Street (which has a statue of Joan of Arc on horseback with a sword pointed toward the White House), and then proceed the two miles to Lafayette Park for the 11:30 AM rally. The theme of the rally will be our collective responsibility to each other, our children and the earth’s future – and our request for President Obama to keep his promises on climate change and to protect the future generations of children by rejecting the Keystone XL pipeline. The rally will feature youth from iMatter and elsewhere, who will tell stories of the impact of climate change on their communities, and they will discuss their federal lawsuit. Bill McKibben will be one of the speakers. RSVP at 26] – See a free fracking film screening on Thurs., July 25. View the eye-opening fracking documentary “Triple Divide” from 6:30 to 8:30 PM at Morgan State University, University Student Center Theater, 1700 E Cold Spring Ln., Baltimore MD 21251. RSVP at “Triple Divide” is an eye-opening film that uncovers the lies, deceit, and power of the natural gas industry in Pennsylvania. It includes interviews with landowners, industry executives, and expert testimony that shows how gas companies are rewriting history in order to cover up their toxic messes. Email To be continued. Donations can be sent to the Baltimore Nonviolence Center, 325 E. 25th St., Baltimore, MD 21218. Ph: 410-366-1637; Email: mobuszewski [at] Go to "The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. The master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and everything to lose--especially their lives." Eugene Victor Debs

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Obama's Escalating War on Freedom of the Press Obama's Escalating War on Freedom of the Press Tuesday, 23 July 2013 09:06 By Norman Solomon, Norman Solomon's Blog | Op-Ed In a major ruling about press freedoms, a divided federal appeals court ruled on Friday, July 19, 2013, that James Risen, an author and reporter for The New York Times, must testify in the criminal trial of a former Central Intelligence Agency official charged with providing him with classified information. Risen in a 2006 portrait. (Photo: Fred R. Conrad / The New YOrk Times) The part of the First Amendment that prohibits “abridging the freedom … of the press” is now up against the wall, as the Obama administration continues to assault the kind of journalism that can expose government secrets. Last Friday the administration got what it wanted -- an ice-cold chilling effect -- from the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, which ruled on the case of New York Times reporter James Risen. The court “delivered a blow to investigative journalism in America by ruling that reporters have no First Amendment protection that would safeguard the confidentiality of their sources in the event of a criminal trial,” the Guardian reported. The Executive Branch fought for that ruling -- and is now celebrating. “We agree with the decision,” said a Justice Department spokesman. “We are examining the next steps in the prosecution of this case.” The Risen case, and potentially many others, are now under the ominous shadow of the Appeals Court’s pronouncement: “There is no First Amendment testimonial privilege, absolute or qualified, that protects a reporter from being compelled to testify … in criminal proceedings.” At the Freedom of the Press Foundation, co-founder Trevor Timm calls the court ruling “the most significant reporter’s privilege decision in decades” and asserts that the court “eviscerated that privilege.” He’s not exaggerating. Press freedom is at stake. Journalists who can be compelled to violate the confidentiality of their sources, or otherwise go to prison, are reduced to doing little more than providing stenographic services to pass along the official story. That’s what the White House wants. The federal Fourth Circuit covers the geographical area where most of the U.S. government’s intelligence, surveillance and top-level military agencies -- including the NSA and CIA -- are headquartered. The ruling “pretty much guts national security journalism in the states in which it matters,” Marcy Wheeler writes. That court decision came seven days after the Justice Department released its “News Media Policies” report announcing “significant revisions to the Department’s policies regarding investigations that involve members of the news media.” The report offered assurances that “members of the news media will not be subject to prosecution based solely on newsgathering activities.” (Hey thanks!) But the document quickly added that the government will take such action “as a last resort” when seeking information that is “essential to a successful investigation or prosecution.” Translation: We won’t prosecute journalists for doing their jobs unless we really want to. Over the weekend, some news accounts described Friday’s court decision as bad timing for Attorney General Eric Holder, who has scrambled in recent weeks to soothe anger at the Justice Department’s surveillance of journalists. “The ruling was awkwardly timed for the Obama administration,” the New York Times reported. But the ruling wasn’t just “awkwardly timed” -- it was revealing, and it underscored just how hostile the Obama White House has become toward freedom of the press. News broke in May that the Justice Department had seized records of calls on more than 20 phone lines used by Associated Press reporters over a two-month period and had also done intensive surveillance of a Fox News reporter that included obtaining phone records and reading his emails. Since then, the Obama administration tried to defuse the explosive reaction without actually retreating from its offensive against press freedom. At a news conference two months ago, when President Obama refused to say a critical word about his Justice Department’s targeted surveillance of reporters, he touted plans to reintroduce a bill for a federal shield law so journalists can protect their sources. But Obama didn’t mention that he has insisted on a “national security exception” that would make such a law approximately worthless for reporters doing the kind of reporting that has resulted in government surveillance -- and has sometimes landed them in federal court. Obama’s current notion of a potential shield law would leave his administration fully able to block protection of journalistic sources. In a mid-May article -- headlined “White House Shield Bill Could Actually Make It Easier for the Government to Get Journalists’ Sources” -- the Freedom of the Press Foundation shed light on the duplicity: As a supposed concession to press freedom, the president was calling for reintroduction of a 2009 Senate bill that “would not have helped the Associated Press in this case, and worse, it would actually make it easier for the Justice Department to subpoena journalists covering national security issues.” Whether hyping a scenario for a shield law or citing new Justice Department guidelines for news media policies, the cranked-up spin from the administration’s PR machinery does not change the fact that Obama is doubling down on a commitment to routine surveillance of everyone, along with extreme measures specifically aimed at journalists -- and whistleblowers. The administration’s efforts to quash press freedom are in sync with its unrelenting persecution of whistleblowers. The purpose is to further choke off the flow of crucial information to the public, making informed “consent of the governed” impossible while imposing massive surveillance and other violations of the First, Fourth and Fifth Amendments. Behind the assault on civil liberties is maintenance of a warfare state with huge corporate military contracts and endless war. The whole agenda is repugnant and completely unacceptable. This piece was reprinted by Truthout with permission or license. Norman Solomon is co-founder of and founding director of the Institute for Public Accuracy. His books include War Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death. He writes the Political Culture 2013 column. Donations can be sent to the Baltimore Nonviolence Center, 325 E. 25th St., Baltimore, MD 21218. Ph: 410-366-1637; Email: mobuszewski [at] Go to "The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. The master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and everything to lose--especially their lives." Eugene Victor Debs

Baltimore Activist Alert - july 23-24, 2013

Baltimore Activist Alert July 23 – July 29, 2013 "I speak as an American to the leaders of my own nation. The great initiative in this war is ours. The initiative to stop it must be ours." -Martin Luther King Jr. Friends, this list and other email documents which I send out are done under the auspices of the Baltimore Nonviolence Center. Go to If you appreciate this information and would like to make a donation, send contributions to BNC, 325 East 25th Street, Baltimore, MD 21218. Max Obuszewski can be reached at 410-366-1637 or mobuszewski [at] Tune into the Maryland Progressive Blog at 1] Books, buttons & stickers 2] Web site for info on federal legislation 3] Join Nonviolent Resistance lists 4] Buy coffee through HoCoFoLa 5] Potter's House book sale – through July 31 6] BUILD's 35 Years of Organizing -- through Aug. 31 7] Created Equal exhibit – through Aug. 31 8] Wildlife Rescue exhibit – through Sept. 2 9] “Fast to Close Guantanamo” – July 23 -24 10] Philadelphia Peace Vigil – July 23 11] No drone research at JHU – July 23 12] Film “Flag Wars” – July 23 13] Guatemala Trivia Night – July 23 14] Book “The Militarization of America's Police Force” – July 23 15] Discrimination Against Palestinian-Americans – July 24 16] Housing Rally – July 24 17] Raise the Minimum Wage – July 24 18] THE UNITED STATES OF ALEC – July 24 1] – Buttons, bumperstickers and books are available. “God Bless the Whole World, No Exceptions” stickers are in stock. Donate your books to Max. Call him at 410-366-1637. 2] – To obtain information how your federal legislators voted on particular bills, go to Congressional toll-free numbers are 888-818-6641, 888-355-3588 or 800-426-8073. The White House Comment Email is accessible at 3] – THE ORGANIZING LIST will be the primary decision-making mechanism of the National Campaign of Nonviolent Resistance [NCNR]. It will be augmented by conference calls and possibly in-person meetings as needed. It will consist of 1 or 2 representatives from each local, regional, or national organization (not coalitions) that wishes to actively work to carry out the NCNR campaign of facilitating and organizing nonviolent resistance to the war in Iraq. To join the ORGANIZING List, please send your name, group affiliation, city and email address to Different local chapters of a national organization are encouraged to subscribe. THE NOTICES LIST will include only notices of NCNR actions and related information and is open to any interested person to subscribe. It will be moderated to maintain focus & will include periodic notices about getting involved in NCNR national organizing. To join the NOTICES List, send an email message to You will get a confirmation message once subscribed. If you have problems, please write to the list manager at 4] – You can help safeguard human rights and fragile ecosystems through your purchase of HOCOFOLA Café Quetzal. Bags of ground coffee or whole beans can be ordered by mailing in an order form. Also note organic cocoa and sugar are for sale. For more details and to download the order form, go to The coffee comes in one-pound bags. Fill out the form and mail it with a check made out to HOCOFOLA on or before the second week of the month. Be sure you indicate ground or beans for each type of coffee ordered. Send it to Adela Hirsch, 5358 Eliots Oak Rd., Columbia, MD 21044. Be sure you indicate ground (G) or bean (B) for each type of coffee ordered. The coffee will arrive some time the following week and you will be notified where to pick it up. Contact Adela at 410-997-5662 or via e-mail at 5] – The Potter's House coffeehouse and bookstore are closing to daily business beginning Aug. 3. Time will be given to literally stopping to renew and to recreate. Potter’s House will reopen this fall with a renovated space and renewed sense of mission. Mary Easley, the Southern Chef extraordinaire has worked and served Potter's House for 53 years and will be retiring at the youthful age of 69 this August. Please come by and wish her well. Any donations made to Potter's House during the month of July will be designated and presented to Mary as a parting gift on Aug. 2. Thank you to everyone from 2004 on who helped us raise retirement fund for her. Payments from this fund will begin in September. Please donate online at Worship services will continue as scheduled until beginning renovations. There is Taize Sung Prayer at 7 PM on Mondays through the end of August; Jubilee Church at 6 PM on Wednesdays; Friends of Jesus at 5:30 PM on Thursdays; and Eighth Day at 10:30 AM on Sundays. All books will be 50% off for the first 2 weeks, 75% off for the third week, and with special deals for the fourth week. Come by to share your memories, photos, poems, stories of what the PH has meant to you and your wishes for the future. There is a wall dedicated to these stories of the past and hopes for the future. The regular hours are Tuesdays, 7 AM - 8 PM, Wed-Fri, 7 AM - 5 PM and Saturdays, 10 AM - 6 PM. 6] – The Enoch Pratt Free Library, Central Library, 400 Cathedral St., hosts an exhibit Learning, Listening, Leading: BUILD's 35 Years of Organizing in Baltimore City, which documents the achievements of BUILD, featuring the leaders who made these changes possible, through Sat., Aug. 31. Call 410-396-5430. Go to 7] – Created Equal, an exhibit celebrating the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation, the 50th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King's "I Have a Dream" speech, and the second inauguration of President Barack Obama, is on display through Aug. 31 at the Enoch Pratt Free Library, Central Library, 400 Cathedral St. Call 410- 396-5430 or go to 8] – Wildlife Rescue is a new Maryland Science Center's travelling exhibit. It allows for experiment and exploration of the science of how we can save Earth's ecosystems. Visitors to the exhibit will be introduced to the rescue efforts used by experts, have a chance to experiment with puppets and costumes, and learn survival. The exhibit at the Science Center, 601 Light St., will continue through September 2. Call 410-685-5225 or go to 9] – Join the ongoing “Fast to Close Guantanamo” until noon EDT on Wed., July 24. The situation at Guantanamo is dire. Many in the religious community will express their concern about the situation in Guantanamo by fasting for 24 hours before the hearing or within another timeframe that aligns with their religious observances and traditions. The National Religious Campaign Against Torture will sponsor a breaking of the fast on Wed., July 24 at noon at the Friends Committee on National Legislation, 245 Second St. NE, WDC 20002. At 2 PM on Wed., July 24, Sen. Richard Durbin, chair of the Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Human Rights of the Judiciary Committee, will hold a hearing about the possibility of closing the Guantanamo Bay detention facility. The hearing will examine the national security, fiscal and human rights implications of continuing to detain prisoners at Guantanamo indefinitely, and will explore how Guantanamo undermines U.S. moral authority. RSVP for the hearing, which is tentatively scheduled to take place in Room 226 of the Dirksen Senate Office Bldg. Email Go to 10] – Each Tuesday from 4:30 - 5:30 PM, the Catholic Peace Fellowship-Philadelphia for peace in Afghanistan and Iraq gathers at the Suburban Station, 16th Street & JFK Blvd., at the entrance to Tracks 3 and 4 on the mezzanine. The next vigil is July 23. Call 215-426-0364. 11] – Vigil to say "No Drone Research at JHU" each Tuesday at 34th & North Charles Sts. Join this ongoing vigil. The next vigil is July 23 from 5:30 to 6:30 PM. Call Max at 410-366-1637. 12] -- Housing for All Documentary Series is showing “Flag Wars” on Tues., July 23 at 6 PM at the Martin Luther King Library: 901 G St. NW. Tensions rise in a community in Columbus, Ohio, when gay and lesbian white homebuyers move into a working-class black neighborhood. Email 13] – Get over to the Guatemala Trivia Night on Tues., July 23 at 6 PM at Haydee's Restaurant, 3102 Mt. Pleasant St. NW. Guatemala Human Rights Commission is holding a trivia night! Whether you know a lot or not about Guatemala it will be a load of fun. It costs $5 per person or $25 per team. You can come with a team or come alone. You will be matched with a team. You should arrive hungry and thirsty as Haydee's is generously donating 30% of what you buy that night to GHRC. Go to 14] – Radley Balko’s book “The Militarization of America's Police Force” will be discussed, and there will be a book signing on Tues., July 23 at 6:30 PM at Busboys and Poets, 5th and K Sts. NW. Balko - senior writer for the Huffington Poet and Media Fellow at Cato- investigates the disturbing rise of paramilitary police forces and the immense threat they pose to our civil liberties. He shows how politicians' ill-considered policies and relentless declarations of war against vague enemies like crime, drugs, and terror have blurred the distinction between cop and soldier. His fascinating, frightening narrative shows how over a generation, a creeping battlefield mentality has isolated and alienated American police officers and put them on a collision course with the values of a free society. Email 15] – Catch a talk Discrimination Against Palestinian-Americans at the Israeli Border on Wed., July 24 from 12:30 to 2 PM at the Palestine Center, 2425 Virginia Ave. NW. Nour Joudah and Sandra Tamari will address the issues facing Palestinian, Arab, and Muslim Americans as they attempt to return to Palestine. They will discuss the discrimination that Americans of Arab and Muslim backgrounds face while entering Palestine, and will highlight the illegal practices of Israeli border security in the treatment of Arab and Muslim Americans. This is the second installment of the summer lecture series, "Exile and Palestinian Consciousness," which will focus on the aspects of Palestinian identity that are shaped by displacement. Email 16] – Hold on to HUD! Housing Rally is happening on Wed., July 24 at 1 PM at the Capitol SE Lawn (1st St. and Independence Ave. SE). HUD (Housing and Urban Development) is experiencing major cuts to its budget, threatening programs *essential* to providing housing for those in need. HOUSING IS AN ESSENTIAL FOUNDATION for everyone's well being. FULLY FUND HUD, REPEAL sequestration, and keep up the fight to END HOMELESSNESS! Email or call 202.408.0305. Visit 17] – Raise Maryland: Rally to Raise the Minimum Wage is on Wed., July 24 from 3 to 5 PM at Baltimore City Hall: 100 N Holliday St. Join elected officials, low wage workers, and community leaders to call for a raise in the minimum wage! Raise Maryland is a diverse coalition of community, labor, immigrant, civil rights, faith and business organizations that seek to pass a statewide minimum wage increase and index minimum wage inflation. See 18] – On Wed. July 24 at 7 PM, join Progressive Maryland, Common Cause and Delegate Mary Washington for Bill Moyers' acclaimed film THE UNITED STATES OF ALEC, followed by a discussion at the Baltimore County, Public Library, 320 York Road, Towson. Too few people have heard about ALEC, or the American Legislative Exchange Council. But this is a group that everyone should know about! Come watch the astounding Bill Moyers documentary and get a detailed look at what ALEC is and does. ALEC calls itself a "nonpartisan public-private partnership," but this is a case of false identity. Actually ALEC is an organization that writes "model legislation" on a variety of topics that its member legislators use in state after state, including Maryland, to make new laws. These attack labor rights and promote corporate interests and privatization in every part of American life: education, health care, the environment, and voting rights - you name it. Call 301-494-4998. RSVP at To be continued. Donations can be sent to the Baltimore Nonviolence Center, 325 E. 25th St., Baltimore, MD 21218. Ph: 410-366-1637; Email: mobuszewski [at] Go to "The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. The master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and everything to lose--especially their lives." Eugene Victor Debs

President Obama, like Bush, has defied the Supreme Court.,0,4996590.story OP-ED War on terror: Life, death and drones President Obama, like Bush, has defied the Supreme Court. Anwar al Awlaki was an American-born imam whose radical take on Islam was connected to terrorist plots in North America and Europe. He was killed on Sept. 30, 2011, by an American drone attack. (AFP / Getty Images / November 11, 2009) By John J. Gibbons July 19, 2013 On Friday, a federal judge in Washington will hear a challenge to the Obama administration's approach to targeted killings. I find myself frustrated by how little progress we've made. In 2004, I represented Guantanamo Bay detainees in the Supreme Court in Rasul vs. Bush, challenging President George W. Bush's claim that he could hold noncitizens at Guantanamo without judicial review based on the administration's unilateral claim that the detainees were enemies of the United States. I argued that the president's position presented a profound threat to the role of the courts in safeguarding the rule of law, and that the prisoners were entitled to due process, including judicial examination of the government's reasons for holding them. The Supreme Court agreed, reaffirming that an asserted "state of war is not a blank check" for the executive branch when civil liberties are at stake. When campaigning for office, then-Sen. Barack Obama agreed with the court's decision and criticized Bush's abandonment of basic checks and balances in the so-called war on terror. Yet today, President Obama has taken his predecessor's assertion of executive fiat even further. His administration says it has the power not just to detain suspected terrorists but also to kill them without any judicial oversight or accountability. POLL: How do you feel about the FBI using drones? That dramatic claim of authority is at issue in a lawsuit brought by the Center for Constitutional Rights and the American Civil Liberties Union, which challenges the 2011 extrajudicial killing by drones of three American citizens, including an alleged (but never criminally charged) terrorism suspect, Anwar Awlaki, his companion Samir Khan — and, two weeks later and hundreds of miles away, 16-year-old Abdulrahman Awlaki, Anwar's son, whom no one had accused of wrongdoing. The lawsuit charges that the killings violated the Constitution, including its most elementary protection against the deprivation of life without due process of law. Seeking to dismiss the lawsuit, the Justice Department has maintained that such killings are immune from judicial review. The administration argues that due process does not require judicial process and that we should trust the executive's judgment when it takes the lives of its own citizens abroad. That position — that the government should be able to use lethal force against individuals it deems to be a threat based on a secret executive process using standards and evidence that are never tested by a court — is disturbingly familiar. Indeed, it is just as much an affront to the rule of law as it was in 2004 when it was defended by the Bush administration. Our constitutional system of separation of powers demands a role for courts when individual liberties are at issue. This premise is not only made plain by the 5th Amendment's guarantee of due process, it has also been repeatedly vindicated by historical experience. The Bush administration defended the secrecy surrounding Guantanamo detainees — and its contention that due process was unnecessary in their detention — by saying its actions were justified by danger the men presented. The administration insisted that the courts should simply accept its determination that all of them were hardened terrorists or the "worst of the worst" — a once-popular claim that was proved manifestly false after the Rasul decision permitted legal access to the men. Likewise, the Bush administration's solicitor general tried to reassure a skeptical Supreme Court to trust its unilateral executive authority by proclaiming that the "U.S. does not torture" — a claim dramatically belied by pictures from Abu Ghraib released just days later. The Obama administration is following a disturbingly similar course, attempting to reassure the public that it is making life-and-death decisions with careful deliberation and concern. But hidden processes that lack sufficient transparency and meaningful checks inevitably produce errors. The killing of 16-year-old Abdulrahman Awlaki, whom the government has said was not "specifically targeted," is but one example that makes this all too clear. Equally important, we sacrifice a core requirement of our constitutional republic when decisions about such grave deprivations of life and liberty rely solely on the judgment of one branch of government, no matter how well-meaning it may be. As Supreme Court Justice Robert Jackson warned in a landmark case decades ago, claims to unreviewable executive power predicated on an amorphous and unlimited state of war are particularly dangerous because "such power either has no beginning or no end." In Washington on Friday, lawyers for two families who have lost relatives to U.S. drone strikes will ask a federal court to continue the judiciary's long-standing and vital role in our constitutional system. In doing so, the court can remind the executive branch that a fair and open legal process is most important when it comes to matters of life and death. John J. Gibbons, a director of a New Jersey law firm, is the former chief judge of the U.S. 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals.

Russian Officials Say They Didn’t Receive an Asylum Request From Snowden July 13, 2013 Russian Officials Say They Didn’t Receive an Asylum Request From Snowden By DAVID M. HERSZENHORN MOSCOW — Senior Kremlin officials said Saturday that Russia’s Federal Migration Service had not yet received a formal appeal for asylum from Edward J. Snowden. And the Russian foreign minister, Sergey V. Lavrov, insisted that the government had had no contact with him — a curious statement given the government’s clear role in arranging a meeting at Sheremetyevo airport here in Moscow on Friday between Mr. Snowden and lawyers and human rights advocates. At the meeting on Friday, Mr. Snowden, the former intelligence contractor who is on the run from American authorities and faces criminal charges of disclosing classified information, told the lawyers and rights advocates that he was requesting shelter in Russia because the United States and its allies were illegally preventing him from traveling to Latin America, where three countries have expressed a willingness to take him in. The verbal maneuvering seems to signal that Russia’s political position vis-à-vis Mr. Snowden has been complicated further by his now publicly professed desire to stay here. Although President Vladimir V. Putin has insisted that Mr. Snowden must stop harming American interests, the Obama administration has made clear that it believes those interests are being harmed so long as Mr. Snowden is on the loose. Mr. Snowden on Friday appealed to the human rights advocates to intervene on his behalf with the Russian government, though it is unclear how influential they can be, given that at least two of the groups represented — Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch — have had their Moscow offices raided by the authorities in recent months, and some of their local representatives have faced personal threats apparently aimed at curtailing their work. “I ask for your assistance in requesting guarantees of safe passage from the relevant nations in securing my travel to Latin America, as well as requesting asylum in Russia until such time as these states accede to law and my legal travel is permitted,” Mr. Snowden said Friday in his remarks, according to a text released by WikiLeaks, the antisecrecy group that is helping him. “I will be submitting my request to Russia today, and hope it will be accepted favorably,” he said. On Saturday, however, the director of Russia’s Federal Migration Service, Konstantin Romodanovsky, told the Interfax news agency that no request had been received. “At the present time, there have been no applications from Snowden,” he said. “If we receive an application, it will be considered in due process of law.” Mr. Lavrov, who was in Cholpon-Ata, Kyrgyzstan, for a meeting of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, told reporters, “To be granted political asylum, Russian law presumes a certain procedure, and the first step is the filing of an application with the Federal Migration Service.” Mr. Lavrov added, “We have no contacts with Snowden,” and said the issues raised by Mr. Snowden during the meeting at the airport were “extensively covered by the media, and I learned about them just as anybody else.” Since Mr. Snowden’s arrival in Moscow from Hong Kong on June 23, apparently with advance clearance from the Kremlin, Russian officials have engaged in an elaborate theatrical exercise, at times insisting that they are following all legal technicalities while simultaneously making clear that he is under official protection. There is nothing remotely normal about his situation — a purgatory in the airport transit zone with no clear end in sight. Mr. Putin most recently had seemed to urge Mr. Snowden to stop releasing information about the classified American surveillance programs. “He must stop his work aimed at harming our American partners, as strange as that sounds coming from my lips,” he said — a condition that the presidential spokesman Dmitri S. Peskov reiterated on Friday and that Mr. Snowden appeared willing to accept. But Mr. Putin had also indicated some desire to be rid of Mr. Snowden, calling him a free man and saying, “The sooner he chooses his final destination, the better it will be both for us and for him.” Mr. Lavrov’s assertion that the government has not had contact with Mr. Snowden was notable given that numerous government agencies appeared to have had a role in Friday’s meeting, including the Federal Customs Service and the airport administration. Several of the participants in the meeting are also close to the Kremlin, including Russia’s human rights ombudsman, Vladimir P. Lukin, and Vyacheslav A. Nikonov, a member of the Duma, the lower house of Parliament. People invited to attend the meeting received instructions from airport management, and reaching the transit zone required special passes to get through the customs control zone. At one point, a bus brought the lawyers and rights advocates from one part of the terminal to another, and several said they met Mr. Snowden in a room with a door marked “Staff Only.” Mr. Snowden, in the meeting, said that the official offer of asylum that he had received from Venezuela should be regarded as giving him clear protection under international law and that he should be permitted to travel. He accused the United States and its allies of acting illegally in blocking him from traveling there. The Russian government has itself shown little regard for the international asylum process when it has pursued fugitives abroad. In a case last fall, a political opposition leader wanted by the Russian authorities who fled to Kiev and requested asylum was kidnapped when he stepped outside of his lawyer’s office for lunch. He was put in a van by masked men and driven back to Moscow, where federal officials insisted he had surrendered. © 2012 The New York Times Company Donations can be sent to the Baltimore Nonviolence Center, 325 E. 25th St., Baltimore, MD 21218. Ph: 410-366-1637; Email: mobuszewski [at] Go to "The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. The master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and everything to lose--especially their lives." Eugene Victor Debs

Leaked Pakistani Report Confirms High Civilian Death Toll in CIA Drone Strikes

Published on Monday, July 22, 2013 by The Bureau of Investigative Journalism Exclusive: Leaked Pakistani Report Confirms High Civilian Death Toll in CIA Drone Strikes by Chris Woods A secret document obtained by the Bureau reveals for the first time the Pakistan government’s internal assessment of dozens of drone strikes, and shows scores of civilian casualties. The United States has consistently claimed only a tiny number of non-combatants have been killed in drone attacks in Pakistan – despite research by the Bureau and others suggesting that over 400 civilians may have died in the nine-year campaign. The internal document shows Pakistani officials too found that CIA drone strikes were killing a significant number of civilians – and have been aware of those deaths for many years. Of 746 people listed as killed in the drone strikes outlined in the document, at least 147 of the dead are clearly stated to be civilian victims, 94 of those are said to be children. The confidential 12-page summary paper, titled Details of Attacks by Nato Forces/Predators in FATA was prepared by government officials in Pakistan’s Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA). 'Can you imagine the uproar that would be caused anywhere else in the world if 94 children were reported murdered in just three years?’ Jemima KhanBased on confidential reports from a network of government agents in the field, it outlines 75 separate CIA drone strikes between 2006 and late 2009 and provides details of casualties in many of the attacks. Five attacks alleged to be carried out by Nato or other unspecified forces are also listed. The numbers recorded are much higher than those provided by the US administration, which continues to insist that no more than 50 to 60 ‘non-combatants’ have been killed by the CIA across the entire nine years of Pakistan bombings. New CIA director John Brennan has described claims to the contrary as ‘intentional misrepresentations‘. The document shows that during the 2006-09 period covered, when Pakistan’s government and military were privately supporting the CIA’s campaign, officials had extensive internal knowledge of high civilian casualties. A spokesman for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs told the Bureau the present Pakistani government opposes drone strikes: ‘Pakistan’s position on drone strikes has been stipulated on several occasions. The drone strikes violate our sovereignty and international law. These also entail human rights and humanitarian implications.’ A former Political Agent for North Waziristan who was shown the leaked report by the Bureau says he does not believe the casualty figures to be exaggerated. ‘There was no benefit in officials “cooking the books” here, since this document was clearly never intended to be seen outside the civilian administration,’ said Rauf Khan Khattak, who also recently served in Pakistan’s caretaker government. Three separate sources The leaked document – which the Bureau obtained from three separate sources – is based on field reports by government officials rather than on media coverage. The Bureau understands that the document is continually updated as attacks occur – although the copy obtained ends with a strike on October 24 2009. Prepared for the FATA Secretariat – the political administration of the tribal areas – the document was never intended for public release. Since no individual victims are named, the Bureau has assessed that it is safe to publish the paper in its entirety. Read the full internal Pakistani document. Of 746 people listed killed in the 75 drone strikes, at least 147 of the dead are clearly stated by the leaked report to be civilian victims. Some 94 of those are said to be children.The document often includes fresh information on strikes, for example confirming the location and target of a September 2 2008 CIA attack, only previously alluded to in a US intelligence document. The newly released paper gives a precise location and casualty count for that strike, noting: Predator attack was made on the house of Bakhtawar Khan Daur, Mohammad Khel, Tehsil Datta Khel Miranshah. One injured. According to former officials familiar with the process, the internal casualty data listed in the document would have been collated through an extended network of government contacts. Each tribal area such as North Waziristan is administered by a Political Agent and his assistants. Beneath them are agents known as tehsildars and naibs who gather information when drone strikes occur – the names and identities of those killed, damage to property and so on. Additional information is also drawn from the khassadar – the local tribal police – and from paid informants in villages. ‘What you end up with in these reports is reasonably accurate, because it comes from on-the-ground sources cultivated over many years. And the political agent is only interested in properly understanding what actually happened,’ says former official Rauf Khan Khattak. Key document Both the US and Pakistani authorities have historically been wary of releasing casualty data for the ‘secret’ CIA campaign. However in March, UN special rapporteur Ben Emmerson QC – who is carrying out an investigation into drone strikes – said that Pakistani officials had now produced estimates of civilians killed in CIA drone attacks. Emmerson stated that Islamabad ‘has been able to confirm that at least 400 civilians had been killed as a result of drone strikes, and that a further 200 individuals were regarded as probable non-combatants. Officials indicated that due to under-reporting and obstacles to effective investigation on the ground these figures were likely to be under-estimates of the number of civilian deaths.’ In contrast, leaked US intelligence documents recently obtained by news agency McClatchy show the CIA rarely admits to civilian deaths in Pakistan. Yet the internal document obtained by the Bureau shows that for years Pakistani officials were noting privately what news media and researchers were already reporting publicly – that significant numbers of civilians were indeed being killed in CIA attacks. In a US strike on the village of Damadola in January 2006, for example, officials noted: ’05 children 05 women and 6 mens [sic] all civilians’ died. Press reports at the time indicated that between 10 and 18 civilians had died. On four other occasions, tribal officials privately reported civilian deaths where the media had reported none. On June 14 2009, for example, FATA officials secretly noted that an attack on a vehicle which killed three people was on ‘a civilian pickup truck’. No Urdu or English-language media at the time reported any civilian deaths. Most controversially, tribal officials reported back to Islamabad in October 2006 that 81 civilians, all but one of whom were described as children, were killed in a single drone strike on a religious school in Bajaur Agency. According to officials, the casualties were ’80 children 01 men all civilian’. It was widely reported at the time that scores of children had died: Pakistani newspaper The News published the names and ages of 69 children, under the UN definition of a child as being under 18 years old. The discrepancy appears to be because the FATA Secretariat has also classified older students killed as children. As with all early CIA drone strikes, Pakistan’s military had initially claimed it was responsible for the 2006 Bajaur strike. As word of civilian deaths began to emerge, the army reversed its position and denied carrying out the attack, although it has consistently claimed that only militants died that day. 'Most controversially, tribal officials reported back to Islamabad in October 2006 that 81 civilians, all but one of whom were described as children, were killed in a single drone strike on a religious school.’In June 2012, Pakistan’s former President General Pervez Musharraf told journalist Jemima Khan: ‘In the media, they said it was all children. They were absolutely wrong. There may have been some collateral damage of some children but they were not children at all, they were all militants doing training inside.’ Jemima Khan is associate editor of British magazine the New Statesman and also the former wife of Pakistani politician Imran Khan – who campaigns vociferously against US drone strikes. ‘Can you imagine the uproar that would be caused anywhere else in the world if 94 children were reported murdered in just three years?’ Ms Khan told the Bureau. Ms Khan said that she was angered to learn that senior military and government officials were denying the deaths of children at Bajaur, even as they privately knew otherwise. ‘This leaked document proves what many have suspected all along – that US and Pakistani politicians have been lying to us,’ she said. Former officials agree that the leaked document is most likely accurate: ‘You can’t distort that kind of information. If children hadn’t been killed, we’d have had people coming to us from all over Bajaur who would have told us so,’ former FATA agent Rauf Khan Khattak insists. Unnamed dead The secret government papers are revealing, but they also have some puzzling omissions. None of those killed are named in the document – either civilians or alleged or known militants. Even where prominent militant commanders were killed – such as Baitullah Mehsud, head of the Pakistan Taliban (TTP), who died in August 2009 – no reference is made to the target. Reports of civilian deaths also disappear entirely for most of 2009, after President Obama took office. In part this is because officials occasionally note that ‘details of casualties are yet to be ascertained.’ But many credible reports of civilian deaths are simply missing. The Bureau’s own research shows that civilian deaths have been credibly reported in at least 17 of the 53 CIA drone strikes in Obama’s first year in office. Yet FATA officials report civilian deaths in only three incidents in 2009. On January 23 that year, for example, the secret file notes only that five people died in a strike in South Waziristan – with no indication of civilian deaths. However, a letter from the South Waziristan Political Agency – obtained in 2010 by the Center for Civilians in Conflict (right) – clearly notes four civilian deaths in that attack. President Obama is also reported to have been informed of civilian deaths in this and another strike on the same day. For the years 2006 to 2008, the internal document far more closely matches media reports of civilian deaths. Yet measured against the public record, it is unclear why references to civilian deaths in the report disappear almost entirely after Obama’s election. ‘No such documents’ Ambassador Rustan Shah Mohmand, who was a senior administrator in the tribal areas for 25 years between 1973 and 1998, cautions that the released file might not be the fullest data available. Noting that Pakistan’s military is responsible for security in FATA, he told the Bureau: ‘Tribal documents might present a broad picture. But any accuracy is dependent on what data the military chooses to release to or withhold from the political agents. In the last eight years, for example, no precise casualty figures have ever been submitted to Pakistan’s parliament.’ Rumours have been circulating for many months of internal Pakistani documents detailing drone strike casualties. The Chief Justice of the Peshawar High Court, Dost Muhammad Khan, began demanding in mid 2012 that the FATA Secretariat release all casualty data it held. Khan presided over a successful civil case against the CIA brought by the Foundation for Fundamental Rights. FATA officials at first claimed that no such internal documents existed, though in August 2012 an official presented the court with limited details of CIA strikes up to 2008. In his final judgment Chief Justice Khan, citing ‘Political Authorities’ in FATA, said that 896 civilians had been killed by the CIA between 2007 and 2012 in North Waziristan, with a further 533 civilian deaths in South Waziristan. Those figures indicate that FATA officials may now be claiming a far higher civilian death toll than that reported by the leaked document - although the source for those claims is not clear. ‘How come the same civil servants are feeding one kind of data to the Peshawar High Court and another kind of data to the FATA secretariat?’ asked Shahzad Akbar, the Pakistani barrister behind the successful Peshawar case. ‘Are they fudging the numbers based on who was on the receiving end?’ US counter-terrorism officials declined to comment on the specifics of the leaked document, though referred the Bureau to recent comments by both President Obama and CIA Director Brennan stating that the US goes to great lengths to limit civilian deaths in covert drone strikes. Follow Chris Woods on Twitter. Source URL: Donations can be sent to the Baltimore Nonviolence Center, 325 E. 25th St., Baltimore, MD 21218. Ph: 410-366-1637; Email: mobuszewski [at] Go to "The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. The master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and everything to lose--especially their lives." Eugene Victor Debs