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Hammond, Manning, Assange and Obama’s Sledgehammer Against Dissent


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.

via Amy Goodman: Hammond, Manning, Assange and Obama’s Sledgehammer Against Dissent – Truthdig.

Anonymous ‘spokesperson’ to spend year in jail without trial


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

via Anonymous ‘spokesperson’ to spend year in jail without trial — RT USA.

via Anonymous ‘spokesperson’ to spend year in jail without trial — RT USA.

Latest Wikileaks Show Further US Intervention in Venezuela


The emails also leave the reader in no doubt about whom these people are helping the Venezuelan right-wing opposition: “to answer your question, the US networks are definitely involved. I cannot confirm for you if that specific gentleman is involved, but the usual establishments are”.

Edited from a piece by Paul Dobson, writing in a personal capacity, Venezuela, Feb 2013

This week Wikileaks published over 40,000 secret documents regarding Venezuela, which show the clear hand of the US in efforts to topple the progressive government of the popular and democratically elected leader Hugo Chavez.

The documents, which date from July 2004 to December 2011 and which were published through Wikileaks twitter account @wikileaks and are now available on Wikileaks Global Intelligence Files online, are based on emails taken from the private US-based intelligence company, Stratfor.

This company claims to provide analysis for multinational corporations looking to invest in Venezuela, and uses a number of local sources to develop their reports. However, their emails prove that their motives and objectives are far from independent, and they are working as an intelligence and strategy agency for those looking to develop suitable political conditions for both economic exploitation and intervention in the country.

Wikileaks describes Stratfor as “a company that fronts as an intelligence publisher, but provides confidential intelligence services to large corporations, such as Bhopal’s Dow Chemical Co., Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, Raytheon and government agencies, including the US Department of Homeland Security, the US Marines and the US Defense Intelligence Agency”.

“The emails”, Wikileaks goes on to explain, “show Stratfor’s web of informers, pay-off structure, payment laundering techniques and psychological methods”.

The leaked emails cover a range of issues, but concentrate on the energy sector, especially petrochemicals and oil; political change and the state of the right-wing forces within Venezuela; and the state of the military and armed forces. They also touch on Venezuela’s relations with Cuba, China, Russia, and Iran, as well as providing bleak projections of the economy and future of the financial sector.

The firm’s emails are listed with the addresses of the sender and receiver, as well as mentioning, amongst other things, the reliability of the source from which they take the information. One email, which exposes the political requisites for reliability, according to Stratfor, uses a source described as a “Venezuelan economist in Caracas” who is described as having “source reliability: B (solidly anti-Chavez)”.

The emails mention meetings with, and biographies of, various prominent Venezuelan right-wing opposition leaders, such as Antonio Ledezma (Mayor of Caracas), Henrique Capriles (the Presidential candidate defeated by Hugo Chavez last year) and Leopoldo Lopez, as well as right wing media tycoon Rafael Poleo: “I spoke to Rafael Poleo [a very prominent Venezuelan

political analyst] a couple of days ago” reports one source. Such naming’s complete the link between right-wing anti-Chavez activities in Venezuela and US/external ambitions in the country.

The emails to and from the Stratfor staff mention various political events during the period, but focus on the student protests of 2009-2010 when right-wing student based opposition sectors manipulated for political ends the power cuts bought about by the worst drought in 100 years which left the hydro-based energy system completely dried up. They also address the

RCTV protests following the rejection of the application to renew the license of the right wing TV channel after they backed the 2002 coup d’état and publically called for the assignation of elected President Chavez.

The emails make frequent reference to a Serbia-based right wing policy group called CANVAS (Center for Applied Non Violent Action and Strategies).Here, there are numerous Word documents sent amongst the emails, many of which are classed as “not for  publication” and which detail the steps recommended to enact a “revolution” which would see Hugo Chavez thrown out of power.

One is indeed referred to as “a how-to guide for revolution”. They go on to class Venezuelan people as “retarded” and who “talk out of their ass”. The country is, according to CANVAS, “absolutely a joke”.

CANVAS explains clearly their recommended strategy for toppling governments: “when somebody asks us for help, as in Vene case, we usually ask them the question ‘and how would you do it’. That means that the first thing is to create a situational  analysis (the word doc I sent you) and after that comes “Mission Statement” (still left to be done) and then “Operational Concept”, which is the plan for campaign” explain CANVAS to Stratfor. “For this case we have three campaigns: unification of opposition, campaign for September elections and parallel with that a “get out and vote” campaign”.

Referring to destabilisation plans, CANVAS go on to state that “we only give them the tools to use”.

Making reference to the opposition alliance of parties, they further state that “in Venezuela’s case, because of the complete disaster that the place is, because of suspicion between opposition groups and disorganization, we have to do the initial analysis. Whether they go on to next steps really depends on them, in other words depends on whether they will become aware that because of a lack of UNITY they can lose the race before it has started”.

“This year we are definitely ramping up activity in Venezuela” they write. Referring to the 2010 Parliamentary elections, the explain that “they have elections in September and we are in close connection with activists from there and people trying to help them (please keep this to yourself for now, no publication). The first phase of our preparation is under way”.

The emails also leave the reader in no doubt about whom these people are helping the Venezuelan right-wing opposition: “to answer your question, the US networks are definitely involved. I cannot confirm for you if that specific gentleman is involved, but the usual establishments are”.

Other emails contains various attached files which provide rundowns of the exact status of the Venezuelan army, air force and navy, including numbers, equipment, and expertise.

“(We) will be sending along more info soon on the whole rundown of how Chavez has revamped the military/security apparatus over the past several years” states the sender. “It’s all scribbled on paper right now from my notes, but gotta say, I’m quite impressed with ‘ol Hugo”.

The fully detailed documents explain that “the army’s reform has stretched beyond the procurement of new assault and sniper rifles and now comprises of a modernized doctrine too. New concepts include asymmetric warfare and reliance on the country’s communication and supply infrastructure as well as popular support to resist a large scale US invasion”.

via Latest Wikileaks Show Further US Intervention in Venezuela – Venezuela Solidarity Campaign.

via Latest Wikileaks Show Further US Intervention in Venezuela – Venezuela Solidarity Campaign.

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