The pharmaceutical industry has “mobilised” an army of patient groups to lobby against plans to force companies to publish secret documents on drugs trials.
Drugs companies publish only a fraction of their results and keep much of the information to themselves, but regulators want to ban the practice. If companies published all of their clinical trials data, independent scientists could reanalyse their results and check companies’ claims about the safety and efficacy of drugs.
Under proposals being thrashed out in Europe, drugs companies would be compelled to release all of their data, including results that show drugs do not work or cause dangerous side-effects.
While some companies have agreed to share data more freely, the industry has broadly resisted the moves. The latest strategy shows how patient groups – many of which receive some or all of their funding from drugs companies – have been brought into the battle.
The strategy was drawn up by two large trade groups, the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) and the European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations (EFPIA), and outlined in a memo to senior industry figures this month, according to an email seen by the Guardian.
The memo, from Richard Bergström, director general of EFPIA, went to directors and legal counsel at Roche, Merck, Pfizer, GSK, AstraZeneca, Eli Lilly, Novartis and many smaller companies. It was leaked by a drugs company employee.
The email describes a four-pronged campaign that starts with “mobilising patient groups to express concern about the risk to public health by non-scientific re-use of data”. Translated, that means patient groups go into bat for the industry by raising fears that if full results from drug trials are published, the information might be misinterpreted and cause a health scare.
The lobbying is targeted at Europe where the European Medicines Agency (EMA) wants to publish all of the clinical study reports that companies have filed, and where negotiations around the clinical trials directive could force drug companies to publish all clinical trial results in a public database.
“Some who oppose full disclosure of data fear that publishing the information could reveal trade secrets, put patient privacy at risk, and be distorted by scientists’ own conflicts of interest. While many of the concerns are valid, critics say they can be addressed, and that openness is far more important for patient safety.”
Tim Reed, of Health Action International, a group that has previously exposed the pharmaceutical industry’s financial links with patient groups, said: “It’s incredibly ironic that this is a transparency initiative and we’ve now got clear indications that the pharmaceutical industry is ready to use patient organisations to fight their corner.
“It underlines the fact that patient groups who are in the pay of the pharmaceutical industry will go into battle for them. There’s a hidden agenda here. The patient groups will say they think it’s a great idea to keep clinical trials data secret. Why would they do that? They would do that because they are fronts for the pharmaceutical industry.
“Patient groups get traction because they are assumed to represent the voice of the suffering. But industry uses them to say we’re not going to get innovative medicines if the industry is deterred from investing by having to be transparent about their clinical trials,” he added.
A recent review of medical research estimated that only half of all clinical trials were published in full, and that positive results were twice as likely to be published than negative ones.
A source in the European parliament, who is close to the negotiations over the clinical trials directive, said he had experienced intense lobbying from patient groups. “We’ve witnessed this sort of activity in recent months, and it’s a concern if the pharmaceutical industry is behind some of it. They are trying to weaken some of the transparency proposals and that’s clear from the amount of lobbying we’ve had,” he said.
The patient groups focus on the concern that if companies release all of their clinical trials data, the information might be misconstrued, or intentionally cherry-picked, and spark damaging health scares around certain drugs or vaccines.
“These aren’t completely unfounded concerns, but the risk already exists, and those things already happen. The answer is to have a responsible scientific community that can counteract the allegations and claims,” the source said.
Two other strands of the campaign include discussions with scientific associations about the risks of data sharing, and work with other businesses that are concerned about the release of trade secrets and confidential data. The final strand calls, in the long term, for a network of academics across Europe that can be called on to correct false interpretations of the data. “That is deemed to be happening in any case,” the memo concedes.
In response to queries from the Guardian, GSK said: “This is not something we are doing. One of the reasons we’re involved in this is we want more companies to move towards greater transparency. I don’t think it’s for us to be mobilising patient groups to campaign on a negative level.”
A Roche spokesperson said the company consulted patient groups to understand their concerns about clinical trials, but “to our knowledge Roche has not been involved in any EFPIA’s potential activity in mobilising patient groups to express concern about the risk to public health by non-scientific re-use of data”.
A Lilly spokesman said: “Lilly is committed to working with Europe-based patient advocacy organisations for the benefit of patients in a way that is true to the EFPIA code of practice and Lilly’s integrity in business policy.”
Individuals who received the memo at several other companies, including AstraZeneca and Novartis, did not respond.
Tracey Brown, director of the campaign group, Sense about Science, and co-founder of AllTrials, a campaign to get all clinical trials registered and all results reported, said: “We now have the prospect of really significant developments to end the secrecy and make clinical trial reporting a practical reality and, finally, some sound commitments from parts of industry.
“In this context, the industry associations’ strategy to get others to raise further spurious problems is backward. It should embarrass anyone associated with it. I would say to the individual companies that they should publicly distance themselves from any association with EFPIA and PhRMA’s strategy now,” she said.
The EFPIA told the Guardian it had been working with PhRMA on a “commitment to enhance sharing of clinical data” to researchers and the public, and intended to make an announcement this week.
“Knowing that some people want all data to be made available to everyone, EFPIA is engaging with stakeholders to share concerns with harmful ‘re-use’ of data. We will engage not only with patient groups, but also with the scientific community,” it said.
Matt Bennett, senior vice-president of PhRMA, said in a statement: “EMA’s proposed policies on clinical trial information raise numerous concerns for patients. We believe it is important to engage with all stakeholders in the clinical trial ecosystem, including the patients who volunteer to participate in clinical trials, about the issue.
“If enacted, the proposals could risk patient privacy, lead to fewer clinical trials, and result in fewer new medicines to meet patient needs and improve health.”
The fallout from the recent disclosures of the National Security Agency’s secret surveillance programs continues to spread.
On Monday, the European Parliament Civil Liberties Commission voted overwhelmingly to investigate the privacy and civil rights implications of the NSA’s PRISM and other spy programs on European citizens, and demanded more information on the programs from U.S. authorities.
In a resolution, the Parliament called on member nations to also consider suspending any counter-terrorism related data transfer arrangements — such as airline passenger records — they might have with the U.S. until better protections become available for the data.
EPIC asks Supreme Court to stop NSA surveillance
Meanwhile, in a separate development, the Washington-based rights group Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) filed a petition with the U.S. Supreme Court challenging the legal basis that the NSA is using to collect the phone records of tens of millions of Americans.
EPIC’s petition asked the Supreme Court to immediately halt the NSA’s domestic surveillance activities saying the agency has no reasonable basis for conducting such surveillance.
The developments are the latest in a string of events that began when NSA contract worker Edward Snowden leaked documents describing secret U.S. surveillance programs to the media. The documents describe various NSA data collection around the world, and have caused widespread concern about dragnet NSA surveillance activities not just within the United States but outside the country as well.
The EU resolution, which was passed by a margin of 483 votes to 98 (with 65 abstentions), is one measure of the concern stoked by Snowden’s revelations. It strongly condemned the NSA’s alleged activities and urged U.S. authorities to provide the EU with full information on the secret surveillance disclosed by Snowden.
“Parliament’s Civil Liberties Committee will conduct an ‘in-depth inquiry’ into the US surveillance programs, including the bugging of EU premises and other spying allegations, and present its results by the end of this year,” a statement from the Parliament noted. “It will assess the impact of the alleged surveillance activities on EU citizens’ right to privacy and data protection, freedom of expression, the presumption of innocence and the right to an effective remedy.”
The Snowden affair has strained Washington’s relationships with other countries as well. Over the weekend, Brazil for instance, expressed “deep concern” over a report in The Guardian newspaper about U.S. intelligence agencies tapping electronic and phone communications of Brazilian citizens.
In a press statement, the country’s Minister of External Relations, Antonio Patriota, said Brazil’s government has sought clarifications from Washington on the nature of the NSA surveillance activities in that country.
Several other Latin American countries have also expressed displeasure at Washington after a recent incident in which the plane carrying Bolivian President Evo Morales was forced into making an unscheduled stop in Austria on the suspicion that Snowden was on board.
U.S. relations with Russia and China too have taken a hit over the Snowden affair. The U.S. government has accused both countries of not doing enough to extradite Snowden when they have had the ability to do it. Russia’s President, Vladimir Putin, has flatly said his country will not deport Snowden back to the United States.
Snowden is currently believed to be in the transit lounge at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport, where he is evading U.S. authorities. He flew into Moscow from Hong Kong more than two weeks ago.
Journalist Glenn Greenwald speaks during an interview with the Associated Press in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Sunday, July 14, 2013. Greenwald, The Guardian journalist who first reported Edward Snowden’s disclosures of U.S. surveillance programs says the former National Security Agency analyst has “very specific blueprints of how the NSA do what they do.”(AP Photo/Silvia Izquierdo)
RIO DE JANEIRO — Edward Snowden has very sensitive “blueprints” detailing how the National Security Agency operates that would allow someone who read them to evade or even duplicate NSA surveillance, a journalist close to the intelligence leaker said Sunday.
Glenn Greenwald, a columnist with The Guardian newspaper who closely communicates with Snowden and first reported on his intelligence leaks, told The Associated Press that the former NSA systems analyst has “literally thousands of documents” that constitute “basically the instruction manual for how the NSA is built.”
“In order to take documents with him that proved that what he was saying was true he had to take ones that included very sensitive, detailed blueprints of how the NSA does what they do,” Greenwald said in the interview in Brazil, where he lives. He said the interview took place about four hours after his last interaction with Snowden, with whom he said he’s in almost daily contact.
Snowden emerged from weeks of hiding in a Moscow airport Friday, and said he was willing to stop leaking secrets about U.S. surveillance programs if Russia would give him asylum until he can move on to Latin America.
Greenwald told The AP that Snowden has insisted the information from those documents not be made public. The journalist said it “would allow somebody who read them to know exactly how the NSA does what it does, which would in turn allow them to evade that surveillance or replicate it.”
Despite their sensitivity, the journalist said he didn’t think that disclosure of the documents would prove harmful to Americans or their national security.
“I think it would be harmful to the U.S. government, as they perceive their own interests, if the details of those programs were revealed,” said the 46-year-old former constitutional and civil rights lawyer who has written three books contending the government has violated personal rights in the name of protecting national security.
He has previously said the documents have been encrypted to help ensure their safekeeping.
Greenwald, who has also co-authored a series of articles in Rio de Janeiro’s O Globo newspaper focusing on NSA actions in Latin America, said he expected to continue publishing further stories based on other of Snowden’s documents for the next four months.
Upcoming stories would likely include details on “other domestic spying programs that have yet to be revealed” which are similar in scope to those he has been reporting on. He did not provide any further details on the nature of those programs.
Greenwald said he deliberately avoids talking to Snowden about issues related to where the former analyst might seek asylum to avoid possible legal problems himself.
Snowden is believed to be stuck in the transit area of Moscow’s main international airport, where he arrived from Hong Kong on June 23. He’s had offers of asylum from Venezuela, Nicaragua and Bolivia, but because his U.S. passport has been revoked, the logistics of reaching whichever country he chooses are complicated.
Still, Greenwald said that Snowden remains “calm and tranquil,” despite his predicament.
“I haven’t sensed an iota of remorse or regret or anxiety over the situation that he’s in,” said Greenwald, speaking at a hotel in Rio de Janeiro, where he’s lived for the past eight years. “He’s of course tense and focused on his security and his short-term well-being to the best extent that he can, but he’s very resigned to the fact that things might go terribly wrong and he’s at peace with that.”
Defense team now expected to motion for dismissal of charges for ‘lack of evidence’
(Image via Bradley Manning Support Network)After 14 days and 80 witnesses, the United States government prosecuting Pfc. Bradley Manning in the long-awaited trial against the military whistleblower has rested their case.
As Manning’s defense team prepares to present their case next week, they are hoping Manning’s prospects have risen after the government was forced to close their portion of the trial with an “embarrassing admission” that the Army had misplaced Manning’s military contract, the Acceptable Use Policy (AUP) , which laid out the terms of his access to classified information.
Over three years after being arrested for leaking details of military atrocities and intelligence to WikiLeaks, Manning is on trial for 21 charges including aiding the enemy, which carries a possible life sentence.
Ahead of the trial, Judge Colonel Denise Lind stated that in order to prove their charge of ‘aiding the enemy’ the prosecution must demonstrate beyond a reasonable doubt that Manning had “a general evil intent,” in that he “had to know he was dealing, directly or indirectly, with an enemy of the US.”
Lind added that the soldier cannot be found guilty if he acted “inadvertently, accidentally, or negligently.”
Reporting from the trial, The Guardian’s Ed Pilkington writes, “Whether or not the prosecution succeeds in meeting that high bar set by Lind will have far-reaching implications, not just for Manning, whose fate depends on it, but also for the wider relationship in the US between government, whistleblowers and a free press.”
Explaining the gaff related to Manning’s missing military contract, Pilkington also reports:
The document is important as it clarifies whether or not the soldier exceeded the terms of the authorized access to secret documents through his work computer that he directly agreed to.
[…] The AUP could be relevant to charges that Manning knowingly exceeded authorized access to a secret internet network, that he obtained classified information without authorization and that he violated the computer fraud and abuse act.
Consequently, the defense is expected to begin next Monday with a motion to have a number of the charges against Manning dismissed on the grounds of lack of evidence.
“Whether or not the prosecution succeeds in [proving he ‘aided the enemy] will have far-reaching implications, not just for Manning, whose fate depends on it, but also for the wider relationship in the US between government, whistleblowers and a free press.” -Guardian reporter Ed Pilkington
To counter the ‘aiding the enemy’ charge, Manning’s attorney David Coombs will argue that, rather than premeditation, the soldier was provoked to leak information after witnessing a series of military atrocities and that he specifically chose information “that he believed the public should hear and see, information that would make the world a better place.”
Manning has already pleaded guilty to a number of charges which carry a combined maximum prison term of 20 years, including reduced charges on seven of eight espionage counts and two counts of computer fraud. He has also admitted guilt for violating a military regulation prohibiting wrongful storage of classified information.
“Such a substantial admission of responsibility has failed to satisfy military prosecutors, who are clearly determined to send a bold message that will give any would-be leaker pause,” notes Pilkington, who adds that the “aggression displayed” by the US government carries “additional significance” in light of NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden’s ongoing attempts toseek amnesty from US persecution.
All of the trial transcripts are made available to the public via the Freedom of the Press Foundation, which has led a grassroots initiative to crowd-fund a stenographer for the duration of the trial.
There are very critical issues missing from news reports about the U.S. government’s protection of so called classified information and its pursuit of that data’s leakors.
Who classified the data; why; and how is that classification valid?
Scores of news reports have focused on so called classified information leaked out in thousands of documents by WikiLeaks, its agents and entirely separately by Edward Snowden, who exposed the National Security Agency’s massive domestic surveillance program.
Those news reports generally discuss the kind of information disclosed. But, no government agent is quoted as specifically justifying why the data became secret in the first place or who decided it should be so classified.
If leakors of so called classified information are to be charged with crimes or heavily criticized in the news media, that information is crucial to protect the accused. As well, the public needs to be assured that those classifying information as secret have not done so simply to cover up their own mistakes or the government’s crucial and intentional errors.
Federal prosecutors are in the midst of a court-martial of Pfc. Bradley Manning, the former Army intelligence analyst on a charge of aiding the enemy for sending thousands of classified documents to WikiLeaks. They are still pursuing Julian Assange, the WikiLeaks founder, for his role in widely publishing such documents.
Now, according to news reports, federal authorities are separately investigating Snowden, a 29-year-old defense contractor, for leaking documents and data about the classified domestic surveillance program to Britain’s The Guardian newspaper and The Washington Post.
Missing from most daily news reports on the leaks of secrecy issues headlined for months worldwide is this crucial issue. Where is the U.S. government’s proof that the hordes of data at the center of these controversies is properly classified? Where is the valid explanation that each and every one of the documents in question has any information that needs a security classification? And, is there any motivation to cover up data embarrassing to the government, its hired security companies or their employees by simply classifying it?
Here is but one big area of doubt created in the title of a detailed article inside George Washington University’s version of the National Security Archive: “Systematic Overclassification of Defense Information Poses Challenge for President Obama’s Security Review.” The article discloses reams of overclassified data in decades of government documents.http://www.gwu.edu/~nsarchiv/nukevault/ebb281/index.htm
It points out that: Pentagon classification authorities are treating classified historical documents as if they contain today’s secrets, rather than decades-old information that has not been secret for many years.
Here is the legal definition of secret data: USC – 834 – “Classified information” defined:. the term “classified information” means information which, for reasons of national security, is specifically designated by a United States Government agency for limited or restricted dissemination or distribution.
It would seem logical and simply fair that every single classified document needs accountability and identification from the source or sources classifying it. They need to reveal exactly why it is or was classified, and why that so called classification is valid or still valid. Even legally classified documents need to be constantly monitored to assure their top secret, secret and confidential classifications are still valid today.
We already knew that the U.S. spy agencies collect all kinds on Americans, thanks to leaked documents from NSA contractor Edward Snowden. Now, in a fresh leak, we’re learning that Brits are snooping on us, too — tapping the world’s telephone and Internet traffic, and sharing that info with the United States.
Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ), Britain’s version of the NSA, is allowed to tap more than 200 fiber-optic data cables running through British territory, giving the organization access massive amounts of telephone and Internet data, according to the Guardian, who revealed today that Snowden provided it with a document detailing the UK spy agencies efforts to collect phone and web data.
GCHQ cable taps allow it to gather recordings of phone calls, email content, Facebook entries and any Internet users web browsing history — not exactly the anonymous metadata that we’ve been hearing about on the U.S. side of the Atlantic.
What’s not surprising is that the UK shares this information with NSA. Remember, the two nations have their 70-year old “special relationship” and are the founding members of the Five-Eyes intelligence sharing agreement, formally known as the UKUSA agreement (pronounced you-kooza). The Five-Eyes are members of a special club of former British colonies that gather and share super secret signals intelligence with each other — exactly the type of information gathered by NSA and GCHQ. Australia, Canada and New Zealand are the other three members of this little club that was established by secret treaty during World War II.
How sensitive is the information shared between members? Rumor has it that until 1973, Australian prime ministers weren’t even told about the program.
According to the Guardian, Britain’s ability to tap these fiber-optic cables makes it the web eavesdropping powerhouse of the Five-Eyes, with the documents saying that of the five, Britain has “the biggest Internet access.”
UK officials insists that the information is collected legally and hint that analyst access to content of collected communication is extremely limited, with most of what is seen by spies being metadata, the basic information of which telephone and internet users are talking to which, rather than the content of their messages.
British officials boast that GCHQ “produces larger amounts of metadata than NSA.” Still, the Guardian reports that British personnel on the team of 300 GCHQ and 250 NSA analysts sifting through the data were told that “we have a light oversight regime compared to the U.S.”
(Basically, this is the scenario Georgetown law professor David Cole predicted nine days ago in FP.)
The British paper is reporting that 850,000 NSA and employees and private American contractors had access to the information gathered by CGHQ.
These spies were scooping up 600 million “telephone events” a day and were able to process information from 46 cables at any given moment. One of the documents quotes NSA boss Gen. Keith Alexander as urging British spies to collect everything they could.
“Why can’t we collect at the signals, all the time? Sounds like a good summer homework project for Menwith,” reads the top of a slide shown by the Guardian that supposedly quotes Alexander during a 2008 visit to the UK. The slide is titled, “Collect-it-all.”
Menwith refers to RAF Menwith Hill, a secret signals intelligence gathering facility in the English countryside (shown above) run by the British and Americans.
Jay Healey, director of the Atlantic Council’s cyber statecraft initiative who served as a U.S. Air Force signals intelligence officer in the 1990s admitted yesterday that electronic spies want to collect as much information as possible.
“The analogy I look at if you’re dealing with intel guys, especially collectors, whether that’s NSA or any other country’s, is that they want to collect — as an analogy — a copy of every book ever written, even if they happen to get U.S. books in there,” said Healey during a June 20 event at the Brookings Institution in Washington.
GCHQ operatives tapped the fibre-optic cables over the last five years at the point where the transatlantic cables reach British shores — these are the cables that move Internet and telephone data from North America to Western Europe. All of this was done with agreements with the communications companies, described by the document as “intercept partners.”
These companies are likely “compelled” to give the British government access to their data via some sort of court order, much as they can be in the United States.
A British source echoed statements by U.S. officials, who described the bulk collection of American’s cellphone call records as an effort to obtain a haystack of information that would facilitate finding the needles of intelligence.
“Essentially we have a process that allows us to select a small number of needles in a haystack,” the source told the paper. “We are not looking at every piece of straw. There are certain triggers that allow you to discard or not examine a lot of data so you are just looking at needles. If you have the impression that we are reading millions of emails, we are not. There is no intention in this whole program to use it for UK domestic traffic – British people talking to each other.”
Last week, Deputy U.S. Attorney General Robert Cole defended bulk collection of cellphone data and other business records to U.S. lawmakers.
“If you’re looking for a needle in a haystack, you’ve got to get the haystack first,” said Cole during a June 18 House intelligence committee hearing on the matter. “That’s why we have the ability under the [FISA] court order, to acquire . . . all of that data, we don’t get to use all of that data, necessarily.”
So now the UK spies on the U.S. and the U.S. can spy on the U.K. and both nations can share intelligence with each other. This begs the question; how much does it matter if each country is barred from accessing the contents of its citizens’ communications without a court order?
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|” AUDIO/TRANSCRIPT: Interview with ‘Pentagon Papers’ Whistleblower Daniel …
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And whether we were willing to continue that, continue our careers, which might be very comfortable in his case and mine (much more than Bradley Manning’s, for example) or do something to inform the public that would undoubtedly confront us with …
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Edward Snowden – NSA Whistleblower Comes Forward: Daily Whistleblower News – Government Accountability Project
Another groundbreaking story from The Guardian over the weekend revealed the identity of the whistleblower behind the recent NSA surveillance disclosures to be a young, former technical assistant for the CIA and current defense contractor employee who – until very recently – lived a comfortable life with his girlfriend in Hawaii. Years of working on the technical side of surveillance for the world’s most pervasive spy organizations led to increasing disillusionment for 29 year-old Edward Snowden. Witnessing the unethical practices employed by CIA operatives while stationed in Geneva and playing his own role in the NSA’s vast stockpiling of American and foreign citizens’ information, collected through the PRISM program, drove Snowden toward his decision. Already having fled the country to Hong Kong where he is currently pent up in a hotel room, Snowden is fully aware of the Obama administration’s ferocious stance on whistleblowers and is prepared for full pursuit and prosecution.
In this video interview with The Guardian reporter Glenn Greenwald, who has reported the series of disclosures from the NSA/PRISM whistleblower, Snowden describes exactly what compelled him to bring knowledge of the NSA surveillance program into the public realm. He illustrates the extremely invasive authority that the agency can and does use to spy on everyone. A transcript of Greenwald’s interview can be found here. Snowden emphasizes the non-democratic and secret practices of the NSA that go far beyond public consciousness saying, “The extent of their capabilities is horrifying. We can plant bugs in machines. Once you go on the network, I can identify your machine. You will never be safe whatever protections you put in place.”
Daniel Ellsberg, the father of modern whistleblowing responsible for the Pentagon Papers disclosure, has called Snowden’s leak the most important in American history – even more so than Ellsberg’s own disclosure 40 years ago. Snowden’s actions come at an incredibly precarious time for American privacy and the upholding of the constitution. Ellsberg makes clear that since 9/11, American citizens have experienced a revocation of their rights and a neglect of their societal roles in the democracy, and this move by Snowden serves to bring some of the democratic power back to the public to which it originally belonged.
Key Quote (Washington Post): The Government Accountability Project, a nonprofit that advances “corporate and government accountability by protecting whistleblowers,” has a broader, “composite” definition drawn from “state, federal and international cases”:
An employee who discloses information that s/he reasonably believes is evidence of illegality, gross waste or fraud, mismanagement, abuse of power, general wrongdoing, or a substantial and specific danger to public health and safety. Typically, whistleblowers speak out to parties that can influence and rectify the situation. These parties include the media, organizational managers, hotlines, or Congressional members/staff, to name a few.
Jesselyn Radack, director of the national security and human rights program at the Government Accountability Project, says that “source” is the “most neutral term” and doesn’t much like “leaker.” “There’s a derogatory implication to it,” says Radack, who says she’s represented hundreds of whistleblowers.
“I see [Snowden] as a classic whistleblower,” she says. “He is revealing massive abuse and illegality by … the biggest spy agency in the nation and in the world, for that matter.” In some quarters, Radack might encounter some pushback on that last point.
(Reuters): Jesselyn Radack, a former Justice Department lawyer who represents whistleblowers, said she expected prosecutors would “try to indict him as soon as possible” with “voluminous” Espionage Act charges followed by Interpol warrants for his arrest. But she said Snowden fit the profile and legal definition of a whistleblower and should be entitled to protection under a federal law passed to protect people who reveal waste and abuse.
“He said very clearly in statements that he’s given that he was doing this to serve a public purpose,” Radack said
(The Guardian): But Snowden drew support from civil liberty activists and organisations. Jesselyn Radack, a former justice department attorney who represents whistleblowers, told Reuters: “As a whistleblower myself, this is one of the most significant leakers in my lifetime and in US history.”
Radack said she hoped the case could become “a watershed moment that could change the war on whistleblowers and the broader war on information in our country”.
After writing intensely, even obsessively, for years about government surveillance and the prosecution of journalists, Glenn Greenwald has suddenly put himself directly at the intersection of those two issues, and perhaps in the cross hairs of federal prosecutors.
Late Wednesday, Mr. Greenwald, a lawyer and longtime blogger, published an article in the British newspaper The Guardian about the existence of a top-secret court order allowing the National Security Agency to monitor millions of telephone logs. The article, which included a link to the order, is expected to attract an investigation from the Justice Department, which has aggressively pursued leakers.
On Thursday night, he followed up with an article written with a Guardian reporter, Ewen MacAskill, that exposed an N.S.A. program, Prism, that has gathered information from the nation’s largest Internet companies going back nearly six years.
“The N.S.A. is kind of the crown jewel in government secrecy. I expect them to react even more extremely,” Mr. Greenwald said in a telephone interview. He said that he had been advised by lawyer friends that “he should be worried,” but he had decided that “what I am doing is exactly what the Constitution is about and I am not worried about it.”
Being at the center of a debate is a comfortable place for Mr. Greenwald, 46, who came to mainstream journalism through his own blog, which he started in 2005. Before that he was a lawyer, including working 18 months at the high-powered New York firm Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz, where he represented large corporate clients.
“I approach my journalism as a litigator,” he said. “People say things, you assume they are lying, and dig for documents to prove it.”
Mr. Greenwald’s writings at The Guardian — and before that, for Salon and on his own blog — can resemble a legal brief, with a list of points, extended arguments and detailed references and links. As Andrew Sullivan, a frequent sparring partner and sometime ally, put it, “once you get into a debate with him, it can be hard to get the last word.”
While Mr. Greenwald notes that he often conducts interviews and breaks news in his columns, he describes himself as an activist and an advocate. But with this leak about the extremely confidential legal apparatus supporting the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, he has lifted the veil on some of the government’s most closely held secrets.
The leak, he said, came from “a reader of mine” who was comfortable working with him. The source, Mr. Greenwald said, “knew the views that I had and had an expectation of how I would display them.”
Mr. Greenwald’s experience as a journalist is unusual, not because of his clear opinions but because he has rarely had to report to an editor. He began his blog Unclaimed Territory in 2005 after the news of warrantless surveillance under the Bush administration. When his blog was picked up by Salon, said Kerry Lauerman, the magazine’s departing editor in chief, Salon agreed that Mr. Greenwald would have direct access to their computer system so that he could publish his blog posts himself without an editor seeing them first if he so chose.
“It basically is unheard of, but I never lost a moment of sleep over it,” Mr. Lauerman said. “He is incredibly scrupulous in the way a lawyer would be — really, really careful.”
The same independence has carried over at The Guardian, though Mr. Greenwald said that for an article like the one about the N.S.A. letter he agreed that the paper should be able to edit it. Because he has often argued in defense of Bradley Manning, the army private who was charged as the WikiLeaks source, he said he considered publishing the story on his own, and not for The Guardian, to assert that the protections owed a journalist should not require the imprimatur of an established publisher.
Mr. Greenwald said he has had to get up to speed in the security precautions that are expected from a reporter covering national security matters, including installing encrypted instant chat and e-mail programs.
“I am borderline illiterate on these matters, but I had somebody who is really well-regarded actually come and physically do my whole computer,” he said.
That computer is in Brazil, where Mr. Greenwald spends most of his time and lives with his partner, who cannot emigrate to the United States because the federal government does not recognize same-sex marriages as a basis for residency applications.
Mr. Greenwald grew up in Lauderdale Lakes, Fla., feeling like an odd figure. “I do think political posture is driven by your personality, your relationship with authority, how comfortable are you in your life,” he said. “When you grow up gay, you are not part of the system, it forces you to evaluate: ‘Is it me, or is the system bad?’ ”
By the time Mr. Greenwald was studying law at New York University, “he was always passionate about constitutional issues and issues of equal justice and equal treatment,” said Jennifer Bailey, now an immigration lawyer with a nonprofit organization in Maine, who shared a tiny apartment with Mr. Greenwald in the early 1990s.
She emphasized that his passion did not translate into partisanship. “He is not a categorizeable guy,” Ms. Bailey said. “He was not someone who played party politics. He was very deep into the issues and how it must come out. He was tireless and relentless about pursuing this. Nobody worked longer hours.”
As Mr. Greenwald tells it, the last decade has been a slow political awakening. “When 9/11 happened, I thought Bush was doing a good job,” he said. “I was sucking up uncritically what was in the air.”
His writing has made him a frequent target from ideological foes who accuse him of excusing terrorism or making false comparisons between, for example, Western governments’ drone strikes, and terrorist attacks like the one in Boston.
Gabriel Schoenfeld, a national security expert and senior fellow at the Hudson Institute who is often on the opposite ends of issues from Mr. Greenwald, called him, “a highly professional apologist for any kind of anti-Americanism no matter how extreme.”
Mr. Sullivan wrote in an e-mail: “I think he has little grip on what it actually means to govern a country or run a war. He’s a purist in a way that, in my view, constrains the sophistication of his work.”
Ms. Bailey has a slightly different take. Because of his passions, she said, “he is just as willing to make enemies of anybody.”
It’s an anthem that is usually sung with chest-thumping pride and misty eyes by British imperialists. “Rule Britannia, Britannia rules the waves”. This jingoistic celebration of Britain’s former global conquest may yet degenerate into “Rue Britannia, Britannia rues the waves”.
This is because, as The Guardian newspaper reports this week, the
London government has at long last been forced into recognizing compensation payments for as many as 50,000 Kenyan nationals who were victims of torture and other crimes against humanity during that country’s independence struggle in the 1950s. The eventual bill for compensation could run up to tens of millions of pounds.
But the bad news for financially bankrupt Britain does not end there. With this precedent established of compensation for past British imperialist crimes, that now leaves the way open for a global flood of similar claims.
Jingoistic British imperialists may therefore soon rue their often-made reference to Britain ruling the waves and so many countries the world over – at the height of the British Empire some 20 percent of the globe’s land mass was under colonial domination. That’s a lot of people who can claim recompense for past British horrors and deprivation.
If the bill for Britain’s crimes against humanity in Kenya alone runs into tens of millions of pounds, then we can easily multiply that sum manifold if the millions of other victims from across the world who suffered under the British jackboot come forward to claim justice.
The Guardian listed just a handful of additional class-action cases for compensation against the British government. They included the former colonies of Cyprus, Yemen, Swaziland and British Guiana. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg when measuring Britain’s global legacy of crimes and human suffering. Many others would include Britain’s dirty wars and repressive colonial regimes in Bahrain, British Somaliland, Burma, Ghana, Nigeria, Northern Ireland, Oman and Zimbabwe. Even that list is far from complete.
Iran presents a challenging case too. After the British-assisted coup in 1953 that led to the 26-year reign of terror under Shah Pahlavi, tens of thousands of Iranians were subjected to torture by the Western-trained and armed Savak secret police. Iranians therefore have a case for compensation against the British government.
Previously, the British House of Lords decreed arbitrarily that no cases for compensation stemming from before 1954 can be brought to an English court. Fortunately for the British establishment, that ruling excludes millions of more potential litigants from former British India, which gained independence in 1947.
Given the appalling suffering inflicted by the British overlords in India – from starvation, massacres, mass imprisonment and destruction of farming and textile livelihoods to give British exporters a competitive advantage – the resulting claims if filed to the Exchequer would definitely spell good night for Britain’s sputtering economy. Far from ruling the waves, Britannia would sink to a watery grave.
But the real point perhaps is more about principle than money – important though material redress is to victims of injustice. What the case of the Kenyans against the British government is really achieving is to strip bare the truth about Britain’s imperial legacy. British national conceit and history books are replete with double standards and moral relativism. It is too widely and fatuously assumed that Britain’s Empire represented somehow a benevolent contribution to history. British people, and unfortunately English-language academia and media across the world, tend to perceive Britain’s “decolonization” – its retreat from imperial territories – as a magnanimous gesture of granting independence. This delusional notion is best summed up in the Orwellian term “the British Commonwealth of nations”.
With conceited moral duplicity, Britain insists that Imperial Japan and Nazi Germany must pay out compensation to victims of their conquests. But no such obligation pertains to Britain, according to the British rulers. Why not? Only imperial arrogance and a certain sense of victor’s justice stemming from the Second World War are invoked to subjectively justify that contradiction. In the world of objective facts and evidence, Britain is equally liable for redress to its global victims of crimes against humanity.
When Britain set out to destroy the Mau Mau struggle for Kenya’s political independence during the 1950s, the British were not interested in benign, passive “decolonization”. For the British rulers, it was a life-or-death challenge to the entire global system of British Empire and its exploitative excrescence on the world. The same British “siege mentality” manifested ruthlessly against the independence movements in all its colonies.
Up to 300,000 Kenyans were incarcerated in concentration camps during what the British euphemistically called “The Emergency”. That same quaint word – “Emergency” – was used by the British to dissemble their barbarism and brutality in Burma against pro-independence communist guerrilla. During Bahrain and Northern Ireland’s struggle for freedom from Britain’s unlawful dominance, the preferred euphemism for repression was “The Troubles”.
But these semantics aside, the nature of repression meted out by British rulers and their officers was systematically criminal and brutal and comparable to the worst genocidal regimes the world has known.
The Kenyan Mau Mau may have suffered the most, probably owing to a twist of racist depravity among the white British counterinsurgency practitioners. Kenyan prisoners were castrated and roasted over fires by British officers using methods of torture that even classified British records explicitly sanctioned as “Gestapo techniques”.
During the British suppression of the Cypriot insurgency during the 1950s, inmates were routinely tortured by water-boarding sessions in which Kerosene was added to the drowning water. Later, during the 1970s in Northern Ireland’s conflict, Irish prisoners were incarcerated without charge and tortured by hooding, prolonged wall-standing, sleep deprivation, white noise and intimidation with guard dogs, not to mention routine physical beatings.
If such torture and generally repressive regimens sound similar to what has since been uncovered in Afghanistan, Iraq and Guantanamo Bay it is because they are wholly consistent. These are the standard operating practices of British military doctrine and that of its close American ally.
The reason why such barbarity continues to be practiced is because of the moral duplicity and propagandized version of history that the Western media and academia instill. Barbarity is something that others perpetrate, not us.
The glacial pace of justice – as shown by the more than six decades’ delay for the Mau Mau victims of British crimes – is reflective of the massive public deception instilled by Western media on behalf of their criminal governments.
However, thanks to the courageous pursuit of justice by many people across the world, this edifice of deception will eventually be broken down. This is imperative as a matter of justice for the millions of victims of British crimes against humanity.
But, in addition, the exposure of British criminality is crucial to deleting the duplicity that serves to give contemporary British and other Western governments a veneer of legitimacy. Britain has no right to pontificate and brow beat Syria, Iran or any other nation about “international obligations”. With the full record of British criminality on display, this is a country that, far from lecturing others, should be made to hang its head in shame and remain silent.
Despite all the Irregularities listed below nobody has yet been sent to prison.
To put this in perspective almost 200 people were jailed in Ireland for not paying court fines relating to TV licences last year.
One rule for the rich and another for the poor
‘Bankers should be technicians and functionaries who serve the public and provide guaranteed stability. They should not be entrepreneurs, gamblers, who can count on public bailouts if their speculations turn to dust.’
The Guardian, Friday 1 March 2013
One of London’s most successful hedge fund managers, Patrick Degorce, has been forced to part with millions of pounds in tax after Revenue and Customs persuaded the courts to throw out a complex film
RTE – 1st March
Seán FitzPatrick facing 12 charges over financial irregularities. Former Anglo Irish Bank chairman and chief executive Seán FitzPatrick has been sent forward for trial on 12 charges in connection with alleged financial irregularities at the bank. He is accused of making false, misleading or deceptive statements in relation to millions of euro to the company’s auditors, Ernst and Young, over a six-year period. The amounts on the charges are €5.1m in 2002; €14m in 2003; €23m in 2004; €42.1m in 2005; €60.9m in 2006 and €139.8m in 2007.
Telegraph Saturday 02 March 2013
Ernst & Young to pay $123m to settle US tax shelter probe Ernst & Young has agreed to pay $123m to resolve a US federal investigation into its role developing and marketing tax shelters that helped its clients avoid more than $2bn in tax liabilities. As part of the settlement, announced by the Manhattan US Attorney’s Office, the accounting firm also entered into a non-prosecution agreement and admitted to the wrongful conduct of certain partners and employees. The settlement amount reflects the gross fees Ernst & Young earned developing and marketing four tax shelter products from 1999 to 2004, according to the nonprosecution agreement.
Telegraph Saturday 02 March 2013
Commodity giant Glencore under spotlight over Iran Glencore, the FTSE 100 commodity giant, supplied tonnes of raw material to an Iranian firm that supplied the country’s nuclear programme, it emerged. A Western intelligence report seen by Reuters described Glencore’s barter deal as a good way for Tehran to get around global financial restrictions imposed over its nuclear activities, although it did not say that Glencore violated sanctions.
March 2, 2013 Reuters –
Las Vegas Sands says “likely” violated U.S. corruption act March 2, 2013 4:39 PM ET Reuters) – Las Vegas Sands Corp said it “likely” violated the federal Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, which outlaws the bribery of foreign officials, according to a Securities and Exchange Commission filing on Friday. The filing marks the first disclosure by the casino operator, controlled by founder and billionaire Republican donor Sheldon Adelson, that is was under investigation.
Independant Thursday 5th March 2013
IBRC suing two Dubai firms in Quinn case TWO related companies based in Dubai are being sued by Irish Bank Resolution Corporation (IBRC) over their alleged involvement in an asset-stripping scheme by family members of bankrupt businessman Sean Quinn. In the commercial court yesterday Judge Peter Kelly granted an application by IBRC to join Senat Legal and Senat FZC, both of Gold and Diamond Park, Dubai, and Michael Waechter, principal of Senat FZC, as co-defendants to the bank’s action against various members of the Quinn family. The judge noted IBRC special liquidator Kieran Wallace claimed the Senat parties played “a pivotal role” in the scheme to strip assets worth up to $500m from the Quinn family’s International Property Group (IPG). It is alleged the scheme was “masterminded by one or all” of the three, the judge said.
Irish Times Thursday, March 7, 2013
Microsoft fined €561m for limiting browser choice Shares in Microsoft dropped yesterday after the European Commission imposed a €561 million fine on the company for failing to implement a previous ruling obliging it to offer users a choice of internet browsers. It is the first time the commission has been forced to fine a company for non-compliance with agreed commitments. In 2009 a European antitrust investigation found that Microsoft was unfairly tying its internet Explorer browser to its Windows operating system, and ruled that the company must give users a choice of which internet browsers to use.
The Telegraph 8th Mar 2013
Pensioners being ‘ripped off’ by profit margins on annuities Retiring workers are being “ripped off” by financial companies making huge profit margins on annuities, campaigners have warned. A Telegraph investigation has raised concerns about the profits that insurance companies and other firms are making on annuities. Only one annuities provider, Standard Life, has disclosed its margins on annuities, revealing that it pockets almost 20p of every pound a customer pays for an annuity. Other firms refuse to reveal their margins, and experts warn that the industry is concealing large profits. Ros Altmann, a pensions campaigner, said: “These huge margins are outrageous.”
The Guardian, Monday 11 March 2013
All bets are off as online gambling group Intrade launches investigation
Irish company announces it is looking into possible ‘financial irregularities’ and has ‘immediately ceased’ its trading activity Online gambling group Intrade has ceased taking bets after launching an investigation into potential “financial irregularities”.
Irish TIMES 14 MARCH 2013
THE son of bankrupt businessman Sean Quinn has provided statements of Russian bank accounts held by himself and other family members to Irish Bank Resolution Corporation (IBRC) and is anxious to finally purge his contempt of court orders, the High Court heard today.
The Guardian, Friday 15 March 2013
US hedge fund SAC pays record fine to settle insider trading allegations SAC Capital, a hedge fund run by billionaire Steve Cohen, is to pay $600m (£397m), the biggest insider dealing fine in history
The Guardian.co.uk, Friday 15 March 2013
JP Morgan faced a barrage of criticism on Friday for it disastrous “London whale” trading loss as senators and the bank’s regulator accused its executives of believing they were too big to fail, ignoring warnings about the escalating losses and deliberately withholding information. At a hearing a day after it published a damning 300-page report on JP Morgan’s $6.2bn debacle, the Senate subcommittee on investigations hammered bank executives over the affair, while regulators flatly denied JP Morgan’s claims that it had kept them informed about the mounting losses.
The TELEGRAPH 19 Mar 2013
French Budget Minister Jerome Cahuzac resigns after tax fraud probe
Cahuzac, a cabinet heavyweight, had been tasked with fighting tax evasion. He is now under investigation for holding a secret Swiss bank account. The resignation is an embarrassment and a blow to President François Hollande as his government seeks to redraft deficit reduction plans to maintain fiscal credibility with France’s euro zone partners. Mr Cahuzac was responsible for making drastic government spending cuts. He had repeatedly dismissed as “crazy” a report in December by French investigative news website Mediapart that he held an undisclosed account at the Swiss bank UBS until the start of 2010. “I have never had an account in Switzerland or any other place abroad,” he said at the time.
RTE Wednesday, 20 March 2013
Representatives of the special liquidator of IBRC served papers on three former directors of Irish Nationwide last night. It is understood the legal action relates to their stewardship of the building society. Papers were served on former directors Terence Cooney and Stan Purcell, and former chairman Michael Walsh. It is understood that it is intended that papers will be served on former managing director Michael Fingleton and another former director David Brophy.
RTE 27TH March
Britain’s financial services regulator has fined insurer Prudential £30m and censured its chief executive over its handling of a failed bid to acquire rival AIA in 2010. The UK’s Financial Services Authority fine concerned Prudential’s plans to acquire AIA, the Asian subsidiary of AIG. The bid eventually collapsed after both parties failed to agree on a price. The FSA said Prudential did not inform it of the deal – even though they held a detailed meeting only weeks before news of the deal emerged. The FSA also censured CEO Tidjane Thiam, for playing a significant part in the decision not to contact the regulator. The regulator said the deal’s size would have been the biggest in the UK and could have affected confidence in the country’s financial system.
The Guardian, Thursday 28 March
Royal Bank of Scotland is being sued for misleading investors during its £12bn emergency fundraising in 2008, in a landmark joint claim brought by Dutch bank ING and pension funds for British coal miners.