It has now been a year since I entered this embassy and sought refuge from persecution.
As a result of that decision, I have been able to work in relative safety from a US espionage investigation.
But today, Edward Snowden’s ordeal is just beginning.
Two dangerous runaway processes have taken root in the last decade, with fatal consequences for democracy.
Government secrecy has been expanding on a terrific scale.
Simultaneously, human privacy has been secretly eradicated.
A few weeks ago, Edward Snowden blew the whistle on an ongoing program — involving the Obama administration, the intelligence community and the internet services giants — to spy on everyone in the world.
As if by clockwork, he has been charged with espionage by the Obama administration.
The US government is spying on each and every one of us, but it is Edward Snowden who is charged with espionage for tipping us off.
It is getting to the point where the mark of international distinction and service to humanity is no longer the Nobel Peace Prize, but an espionage indictment from the US Department of Justice.
Edward Snowden is the eighth leaker to be charged with espionage under this president.
Bradley Manning‘s show trial enters its fourth week on Monday.
After a litany of wrongs done to him, the US government is trying to convict him of “aiding the enemy.”
The word “traitor” has been thrown around a lot in recent days.
But who is really the traitor here?
Who was it who promised a generation “hope” and “change,” only to betray those promises with dismal misery and stagnation?
Who took an oath to defend the US constitution, only to feed the invisible beast of secret law devouring it alive from the inside out?
Who is it that promised to preside over The Most Transparent Administration in history, only to crush whistleblower after whistleblower with the bootheel of espionage charges?
Who combined in his executive the powers of judge, jury and executioner, and claimed the jurisdiction of the entire earth on which to exercise those powers?
Who arrogates the power to spy on the entire earth — every single one of us — and when he is caught red handed, explains to us that “we’re going to have to make a choice.”
Who is that person?
Let’s be very careful about who we call “traitor”.
Edward Snowden is one of us.
Bradley Manning is one of us.
They are young, technically minded people from the generation that Barack Obama betrayed.
They are the generation that grew up on the internet, and were shaped by it.
The US government is always going to need intelligence analysts and systems administrators, and they are going to have to hire them from this generation and the ones that follow it.
One day, their generation will run the NSA, the CIA and the FBI.
This isn’t a phenomenon that is going away.
This is inevitable.
And by trying to crush these young whistleblowers with espionage charges, the US government is taking on a generation, and that is a battle it is going to lose.
This isn’t how to fix things.
The only way to fix things is this:
Change the policies.
Stop spying on the world.
Eradicate secret law.
Cease indefinite detention without trial.
Stop assassinating people.
Stop invading other countries and sending young Americans off to kill and be killed.
Stop the occupations, and discontinue the secret wars.
The charging of Edward Snowden is intended to intimidate any country that might be considering standing up for his rights.
That tactic must not be allowed to work.
The effort to find asylum for Edward Snowden must be intensified.
What brave country will stand up for him, and recognize his service to humanity?
Tell your governments to step forward.
Step forward and stand with Snowden.
One cyberactivist’s federal case wrapped up this week, and another’s is set to begin. While these two young men, Jeremy Hammond and Bradley Manning, are the two who were charged, it is the growing menace of government and corporate secrecy that should be on trial.
Hammond was facing more than 30 years in prison, charged with hacking into the computers of a private security and intelligence firm called Strategic Forecasting, or Stratfor, when he agreed to a plea agreement of one count of computer hacking. Stratfor traffics in “geopolitical intelligence, economic, political and military forecasting,” according to its website. Yet, after Hammond and others released 5 million emails from Stratfor’s servers to WikiLeaks, it became clear that the firm engages in widespread spying on activists on behalf of corporations. Coca-Cola hired Stratfor to spy on the group PETA, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. Dow Chemical hired Stratfor to spy on the activists who were exposing Dow’s role in the cyanide chemical disaster in Bhopal, India, in 1984 that killed an estimated 8,000 and injured thousands more.
Hammond is scheduled to be sentenced Sept. 6. His lawyers have asked for time served—15 months, some of which was in solitary confinement. He faces 10 years.
Bradley Manning, meanwhile, will finally have his day in military court at Fort Meade, Md. He faces a slew of charges related to the largest leak of classified information in U.S. history. Manning pled guilty to mishandling the information, and acknowledged uploading hundreds of thousands of documents to the WikiLeaks website. But he denies the most serious charge, still pending, of “aiding the enemy.” Prosecutors are seeking life in prison; however, if Manning is found guilty, the judge could still impose the death penalty.
Bradley Manning and Jeremy Hammond are among the highest profile in a series of cases that the Obama administration has been pursuing against whistle-blowers and journalists. Attorney Michael Ratner, president emeritus of the Center for Constitutional Rights, and an attorney for WikiLeaks and its founder, Julian Assange, said in front of the courthouse after Hammond’s court appearance, “This is part of the sledgehammer of what the government is doing to people who expose corporate secrets, government secrets, and really the secrets of an empire.”
Manning explained his actions and his motivation in a detailed statement in his pretrial proceedings. He said, “I believed that if the general public, especially the American public, had access to the information … it could spark a domestic debate on the role of the military and our foreign policy in general.” The first public release by WikiLeaks of the material provided by Manning was the video (titled by WikiLeaks) “Collateral Murder.” The grainy video, taken from an attack helicopter, shows the cold killing of a dozen men on the ground in Baghdad on July 12, 2007. Two of those killed by the U.S. Apache helicopter gunship were employees of the Reuters news agency, cameraman Namir Noor-Eldeen, 22, and his driver, Saeed Chmagh, a father of four.
After their violent, senseless deaths, Reuters sought answers and filed Freedom of Information requests for material relating to the attack, which were denied. Manning saw the video when stationed in Iraq, and researched the background of the attack. He saved the video file. He explained in court, “I planned on providing this to the Reuters office in London to assist them in preventing events such as this in the future.”
Hammond and Manning, facing years in prison, have in common their connection to WikiLeaks and its founder, Assange. Assange is wanted for questioning in Sweden about allegations of sexual misconduct—he has not been charged. After losing a fight against extradition in Britain, he was granted political asylum by the government of Ecuador, and has remained in Ecuador’s embassy in London since last June. It was a leaked Stratfor email that referenced a U.S. indictment against Assange, reading: “Not for Pub—We have a sealed indictment on Assange. Pls protect.”
This all happens amidst recent revelations about the Obama administration’s extraordinary invasion of journalists’ privacy and the right to protect sources. The Associated Press revealed that the Justice Department had secretly obtained two months of telephone records of its reporters and editors in an effort to discover the source of a leak about a foiled bomb plot. Fox News’ chief Washington correspondent, James Rosen, may actually be charged in a criminal conspiracy for allegedly receiving classified information from a source about North Korea.
President Barack Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder have used the Espionage Act six times to prosecute whistle-blowers—more than all previous presidents combined. Obama’s assault on journalism and his relentless war on whistle-blowers are serious threats to fundamental democratic principles on which this nation was founded.
The job of journalists is to hold those in power accountable. Our job is to be the fourth estate, not “for the state.” Let us be.
Denis Moynihan contributed research to this column.
Amy Goodman is the host of “Democracy Now!,” a daily international TV/radio news hour airing on more than 1,000 stations in North America. She is the co-author of “The Silenced Majority,” a New York Times best-seller.
Information warfare is the 21st Century equivalent of class warfare, with people like Aaron Swartz (threatened with decades of imprisonment, then bullied by prosecutors into taking his own life), Barrett Brown (imprisoned, awaiting trial and threatened with life imprisonment), Jeremy Hammond (same), Julian Assange (under investigation by Grand Jury) and Bradley Manning (facing life sentence in upcoming trial) as its most notable victims whom the US Government has decided to make an example of so as to deter others from following suit. Some have described leakers, whistleblowers, hackers and those that publish the information subsequently released by them as modern-day Robin Hoods, engaged in liberating information from the oligarchs of politicians, banker barons and their ilk. Today we focus on what is happening with Barrett Brown (and, in doing so, expand upon some of his investigations).
Glenn Greenwald…”Brown – who has been imprisoned since September on a 17-count indictment that could result in many years in prison – is a serious journalist who has spent the last several years doggedly investigating the shadowy and highly secretive underworld of private intelligence and defense contractors, who work hand-in-hand with the agencies of the Surveillance and National Security State in all sorts of ways that remain completely unknown to the public. It is virtually impossible to conclude that the obscenely excessive prosecution he now faces is unrelated to that journalism and his related activism.”
Here is a link to all the charges raised against Brown.
Barrett Brown’s journalism was centred largely around Project-PM see below – a website that provided a focus for investigations on surveillance systems, including TrapWire . Brown was one of several investigators that looked into and exposed TrapWire and the company behind it (others included Asher Wolf, Justin Ferguson, yours truly and more). Project-PM was “dedicated to investigating private government contractors working in the secretive fields of cybersecurity, intelligence and surveillance”. Brown also set himself the task of sifting through and analysing information obtained by Anonymous hacking of HBGary and Stratfor , both private companies engaged in intelligence gathering for the business community. Brown is now charged with basically helping to disseminate the information from Stratfor (which Jeremy Hammond is accused of hacking). Note: Barrett Brown learned about Cubic by visiting Telecomix IRC Bluecabinet chan.
Christian Storm (WhoWhatWhere)…”ProjectPM is a crowd-sourced research effort with several aims. First, to study 75,000+ e-mails pilfered by Anonymous from military and intelligence contractor, HBGary Federal, and its parent company HBGary. Second, to post these raw, primary-source documents to a website where readers can edit and contribute further information. Third, to use these documents to map out the relationships between private contractors and the federal government that form our current national security state… The Obama administration’s assault on accountability is dual-pronged: attack the messenger (as in the case of Brown, WikiLeaks, even New York Times reporters) and attack the source (Bradley Manning, John Kiriakou, Thomas Drake, etc.).”
Much of ProjectPM’s work is now being continued by Project Blue Cabinet . The content on Blue Cabinet about Ntrepid (which manages Tartan surveillance software) and Abraxas and Anonymiser (proxy email system to entrap activists) is found here .
Persona Management is another technology Blue Cabinet is investigating, particularly the manipulation of social media through the use of fake online “personas” managed by the military. Such technology would allow single individuals to command virtual armies of fake, digital “people” across numerous social media portals. According to Raw Story (see link below) the US Air Force recently awarded a contract for this technology to Ntrepid . Another source states that Central Command (Centcom) has a similar contract with Ntrepid. (A video about Persona Management is displayed above.)
Back in July 2012 Darker Net connected Cubic, Abraxas, Trapwire, Tartan, Ntrepid, as follows…
1. Cubic Corporation (which runs defense systems and transport smart card systems) owns a number of companies, including Abraxas Dauntless and Abraxas Corporation.
2. TrapWire (which runs global surveillance systems using CCTV linked to its database, TrapWire Net) was previously owned by Abraxas Applications (which in turn was owned by Abraxas Corporation but sold off when Cubic Corporation merged with Abraxas).
3. Ntrepid (which runs ‘sock puppet’ fake Twitter accounts to spread disinformation) was assigned to the shareholders of Abraxas Corporation as part of the merger between Cubic Corporation and Abraxas.
4. Some of the expertise relating to Anonymizer (a so-called anonymous email system) was migrated to Ntrepid as part of the deal in 2010 when Cubic Corporation took over Abraxas Corporation, though many of the staff working on Anonymizer stayed on with Abraxas.
5. Tartan (which specialises in targeting protesters, including Occupy and anarchists) is a subsidiary of Ntrepid.
Christian Storm again…”Brown was never indicted for the infiltration, per se. Instead, he was charged with “trafficking” in stolen material and “access device fraud”—as mentioned, for posting, in a chat room, a link to the e-mail cache. Apparently, buried in the thousands of e-mails was the private credit card information of a number of Stratfor employees. It was not clear how Brown’s act was singular. That same link had been previously posted innumerable times across the Internet. All of this raises suspicions about some larger agenda in the government’s Javert-like pursuit of this young man.”
It will get worse unless – unless the information war is turned on its head and a major offensive, aimed at liberating information in a continuous stream from as many sources as possible to expose the corruption of government, its lackeys, business etc, is engaged.
Note: Barrett Brown’s mother has been forced to plead guilty to charges relating to hiding her son’s laptop from FBI and now could face $100,000 fine and up to one year in jail or six months probation.
Does Democracy and Justice still apply in the USA?
The federal trial against alleged computer criminal Barrett Brown has been delayed by six months. Now the activist once called the “spokesperson” of the Anonymous hacker movement will wait in prison for one full year before being tried.
Brown, 31, was scheduled to stand trial later this month for a slew of charges that have handed down in three separate indictments filed by the government since last September. Per the request of his attorneys, however, legal proceedings have been pushed back for six months, delaying the trial until September 2013.
Doug Morris, a public defender appointed to serve as Brown’s defense counsel, asked for an extension in order to evaluate the evidence against his client, the Associate Press reports. US District Judge Sam Lindsay obliged on Wednesday this week.
The AP adds that Brown’s trial for one indictment is now slated for September 3, 2013, with trials for his second and third indictments scheduled to start on Sept. 23. Brown was arrested on Sept. 12 last year and has been in law enforcement custody for the nearly six months since.
The AP describes Brown as having Brown “once served as de facto spokesman for Anonymous, a shadowy movement that has gotten attention for cyberattacks,” although he says he’s never represented himself as such. Although Brown has aligned himself with the Anonymous movement on several occasions in the past and have spoken broadly on matters relating to the group, he wrote from prison last year, “I am not and never have been the spokesman for Anonymous, nor its ‘public face’ or, worse, ‘self-proclaimed’ ‘face’ or ‘spokesperson’ or ‘leader.’”
Brown’s legal issues began last March when FBI agents raided his Dallas, Texas home with search warrants for computers that contained information pertaining to, among other things, the Anonymous collective, offshoot LulzSec and a number of private businesses that were investigated by both groups as well as Brown’s own Project PM, an independent think-tank he designed in part “to develop new methods by which to use the internet for positive change and to encourage others to adapt such methods.”
One day after the March 2012 raid, Brown wrote the FBI “fully intended to take a certain laptop, and did” when the feds raided his mother’s house shortly after the first incident. He also said that federal agents threatened both he and his mother with conspiracy to obstruct justice for the next few months, spawning Brown to lash out at the FBI in a series of YouTube videos and Twitter posts created in September 2012.
“I know what’s legal, I know what’s been done to me… And if it’s legal when it’s done to me, it’s going to be legal when it’s done to FBI Agent Robert Smith — who is a criminal,” claimed Brown in one of the clips uploaded to the Web. “That’s why Robert Smith’s life is over. And when I say his life is over, I’m not saying I’m going to kill him, but I am going to ruin his life and look into his fucking kids… How do you like them apples?”
Hours after that video was uploaded to the Web, a SWAT team raided Brown’s Dallas, Texas apartment and placed him in custody for nearly one month before he was charged with threatening a federal officer. Once behind bars, though, Brown’s legal issues escalated.
While in custody, the Justice Department unsealed two separate indictments against Brown: In December, Brown was charged with sharing an Internet hyperlink that contained over 5,000 credit card account numbers, the card holders’ identification information and the authentication features for the cards. One month later, Brown was charged with obstructing justice by “knowingly and corruptly conceal and attempt to conceal records, documents, and digital data contained on two laptop computers,” as he hinted at nearly one year earlier.
Attorney Jay Leiderman, who is not representing Brown in this case, wrote on his personal blog when the third indictment was unsealed that the hacktivist could face a century in prison if convicted on all counts.
“He is alleged to have made threatening YouTube videos aimed at the FBI agent that raided his home, he is alleged to have shared a link that contained credit card and access information, and he supposedly hid laptops when the FBI came-a-knocking. That’s right, that sorta stuff could cost you 100 years these days,” he wrote.
Brown is alleged to have shared a link to the credit card details in a chat room after seeing it posted in another. The trove of data contained within the link related to subscriber data pilfered by Strategic Forecasting, or Stratfor, a private intelligence company hacked by Anonymous in December 2011. Thousands of emails obtained in that compromise were later given to the whistleblower website WikIleaks and have been subsequently published online.
Upon release of the credit card numbers, Brown disavowed the hack. He said, “Stratfor was not breached in order to obtain customer credit card numbers, which the hackers in question could not have expected to be as easily obtainable as they were. Rather, the operation was pursued in order to obtain the 2.7 million e-mails that exist on the firm’s servers.”
Jeremy Hammond, a hacker and activist from Chicago, has been behind bars for over one year while awaiting trial for charges relating to the Stratfor hack. Federal proscutors say he spearheaded the hack as a member of the groups Anonymous and LulzSec. He stands to face the rest of his life in prison if convicted.e