I’m shocked — shocked! — that Colonel Denise Lind, the military judge who ruled in February that Bradley Manning could be tried on various charges even after being held prior to arraignment for more than five times the absolute longest time specified in the US Armed Forces’ “speedy trial” rules, has now also ruled that Manning can be convicted of aiding an enemy that does not exist.
Yes, you read that right: There’s only an “enemy” to aid, in any legal sense, if the United States is at war, a state created by a congressional declaration. There’s been no such declaration since World War II.
Lind had only one legal duty as judge in this case: To dismiss all charges due to the government’s failure to meet the “speedy trial” deadline. If the United States was, as John Adams put it, “a government of laws, not of men,” that’s exactly what she would have done.
“Any person subject to this chapter who –
“(1) is responsible for unnecessary delay in the disposition of any case of a person accused of an offense under this chapter; or
“(2) Knowingly and intentionally fails to enforce or comply with any provision of this chapter regulating the proceedings before, during, or after trial of an accused; shall be punished as a court-martial may direct.”
No, I’m not really shocked that none of this happened. It’s par for the course. Laws, including the “supreme law of the land,” aka the US Constitution, are for us little people. The US government doesn’t need or want them, except for use as camouflage. It does whatever it wants to do (or rather whatever the ruling members of the American political class tell it to do).
The only reasonable takeaway from the Manning trial is that American “rule of law” is a sham. The US government doesn’t operate within the Constitution’s constraints on state power, nor does it honor that Constitution’s list of enshrined individual rights. It never has done so absent extreme compulsion and it never will do so on anything like a regular basis.
The corollary: If the US government isn’t bound by its own alleged rules, why on Earth would anyone else be?
The Americans do not only spy on governments, authorities and private individuals across the world with the help of their secret services; they also understand how to push forward the global interests of their companies with full force. An impressive example of this is the agriculture giant Monsanto, the leading manufacturer of genetically modified seeds in the world.
A glimpse into the world of Monsanto shows that companies which delivered the pesticide ‘Agent Orange’ to the US military in the Vietnam war had close connections with the central power in Washington, with tough people from the field of the US secret services and with private insurance companies.
“Imagine the internet as a weapon”
In the global fight against genetic engineering, the US group draws on dubious methods, strange helpers – and the power of Washington. Critics of the group feel they are being spied upon.
The US group Monsanto is a giant in the agriculture business: and number one in the controversial field of plant genetic engineering. For its opponents, many of whom live in Europe, Monsanto is a sinister enemy. Time and again mysterious things happen, which make the enemy seem yet more sinister.
In the previous month, the European environmental organisation ‘Friends of the Earth’ and the German Environmental and Nature Protection Association (BUND) wanted to present a study on the pesticide glyphosate in the human body. Weed killers containing glyphosate are the big seller for Monsanto. The company aims for more than two billion dollars turnover for the Roundup product alone. ‘Roundup herbicide’ has a “long history of safe use in more than 100 countries”, Monsanto emphasises.
As viruses attack their computers, the eco-activists ask themselves: “could we be seeing ghosts?”
However, there are studies which show that the product may damage plants and animals and the latest study shows that many large city inhabitants now have the field poison in their bodies, without knowing it. Exactly what the spray can trigger in an organism is, as with so many things in this field, disputed.
Two days before the study across 18 countries was set to be published, a virus disabled the computer of the main organiser, Adrian Bepp. There was a threat that press conferences in Vienna, Brussels and Berlin would be cancelled. “We panicked”, remembers Heike Moldenhauer from BUND. The environmental activists were under extreme time pressure.
Moldenhauer and her colleagues have widely speculated about the motives and identity of the mysterious attacker. The genetic engineering expert at BUND believes the unknown virus suppliers wanted in particular to “generate confusion”. Nothing is worse for a study than a cancelled press conference: “we did ask ourselves at the time if we were seeing ghosts”, said Moldenhauer.
There is no evidence that Monsanto was the ghost or had anything to do with the virus. The company does not do things like that. It takes pride in operating “responsibly”: “Today, it is very easy to make and spread all kinds of allegations,” Monsanto claims. They say that “over and over there are also dubious and popular allegations spread, which disparage our work and products and are in no way based on science.”
Critics of the group see things differently. This is due to the wide network Monsanto has developed across the world. There are ties with the US secret services, the US military, with very hard operating private security companies and of course, with the US government.
A conspicuously large number of Monsanto critics report regular attacks by professional hackers. The secret services and military also like to employ hackers and programmers. These specialise in developing Trojans and viruses in order to penetrate foreign computer networks. Whistle-blower Edward Snowden has indicated the connection between intelligence services actions and economic drive. However, this sinister connection has been overshadowed by other monstrosities.
Some powerful Monsanto supporters know a lot about how to carry out a cyber war. “Imagine the internet as a weapon, sitting on the table. Either you use it or your opponent does, but somebody’s going to get killed” said Jay Byrne, the former head of public relations at Monsanto, back in 2001.
Companies regularly fight with dubious methods to uphold what they see as their right: but friend or foe, him or me – that is fighting talk and in a war, you need allies. Preferably professionals. Such as those from the secret service milieu, for example.
Monsanto contacts are known to the notorious former secret service agent Joseph Cofer Black, who helped formulate the law of the jungle in the fight against terrorists and other enemies. He is a specialist on dirty work, a total hardliner. He worked for the CIA for almost three decades, among other things as the head of anti-terroism. He later became vice president of the private security company Blackwater, which sent tens of thousands of soldiers to Iraq and Afghanistan under US government orders.
Investigations show how closely connected the management and the central government in Washington are, as well as with diplomatic representatives of the USA across the world. In many instances, Monsanto has operationally powerful assistants. Former Monsanto employees occupy high offices in the USA in government authorities and ministries, industrial associations and in universities; sometimes in almost symbiotic relationships. According to information from the American Anti-Lobby-Organisation, Open Secrets Org, in the past year, 16 Monsanto lobbyists have taken up sometimes high ranking posts in the US administration and even in regulatory authorities.
For the company, it is all about new markets and feeding a rapidly growing world population. Genetic engineering and patents on plants play a big role here. Over 90 % of corn and soya in the USA is genetically modified. In some parts of the rest of the world the percentage is also growing constantly.
Only the European markets are at a standstill. Several EU countries have many reservations about the Monsanto future, which clearly displeases the US government administration. In 2009, the German CSU politician, Ilse Aigner, Federal Minister for Food, Agriculture and Consumer Protection, also banned the corn type MON810 from German fields. When she travelled to the USA shortly afterwards, she was approached by her US colleague, Tom Vilsack about Monsanto. The democrat was once governor in the agricultural state of Iowa and distinguished himself early on as a supporter of genetic engineering. The genetic engineering industry elected him as ‘governor of the year’ in 2001.
Unfortunately, there is no recording of the discussion between Vislack and Aigner. It was said to be controversial. A representative for the Federal Government described the tone: there were “huge efforts to force a change in direction of the German government regarding genetic policy.” The source preferred not to mention details the type of “huge efforts” and the attempt “to force” something. That is not appropriate between friends and partners.
Thanks to Snowden and Wikileaks, the world has a new idea of how these friends and partners operate where power and money are concerned. The whistle-blowing platform published embassy dispatches two years ago, which also included details about Monsanto and genetic engineering.
For example, in 2007, the former US ambassador in Paris, Craig Stapleton, suggested the US government should create a penalties list for EU states which wanted to forbid the cultivation of genetically engineered plants from American companies. The wording of the secret dispatch: “Country team Paris recommends that we calibrate a target retaliation list that causes some pain across the EU.” Pain, retaliation: not exactly the language of diplomacy.
Monsanto led the fight to allow the famous genetically engineered corn plant MON810 in Europe with lots of lobbying – the group completely lost the fight. It was even beaten out of the prestigious French and German markets. An alliance of politicians, farmers and clergy rejected genetic engineering in the fields and the consumers do not want it on their plates. But the battle is not over. The USA is hoping that negotiations started this week for a free-trade agreement between the USA and the EU will also open the markets for genetic engineering.
Lobbying for your own company is a civic duty in the USA. Even the important of the 16 US intelligence services have always understood their work as being a support for American economic interests on the world markets. They spy on not only governments, authorities and citizens in other countries under the name of the fight against terror, they also support American economic interests, in their own special way.
A few examples?
Monsanto denies the accusations and emphasises that it operates “responsibly”
More than two decades ago, when Japan was not yet a major economic power, the study ‘Japan 2000’ appeared in the USA, created by the employees of the Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT). Japan, the study read, was planning a kind of world takeover with a ‘reckless trade policy’. The USA would be the losers, stated the study. The national security of the USA was at threat, it continued and the CIA gave the call to war.
America’s economy must be protected from the European’s “dirty tricks”, explained former head of the CIA James Woolsey. This, he maintained, is why the “continental European friends” were spied upon. A clean America.
The whistle-blower Snowden was once in Switzerland for the CIA and during this time, he reported on which tricks the company was said to have tried in order to win over a Swiss banker to spy on account data. The EU allowed the American services to take a close look at its citizens’ financial business. Allegedly, this was to dry up money sources for terror. The method and purpose are highly dubious.
In Switzerland, the scene of many earlier espionage novels now plays one of these episodes that make Monsanto especially mysterious and enigmatic: In January 2008, the former CIA agent Cofer Black travelled to Zurich and met Kevin Wilson, at the time Monsanto’s safety officer for global issues. About what did the two men talk? Probably the usual: Opponents, business, mortal enemies.
The investigative journalist Jeremy Scahill, who wrote the reference work about Blackwater, the company specializing in mercenaries, wrote in the American weekly The Nation in 2010 about the reported strange meeting in Zurich. He had received leaked documents once again. These show: Monsanto wanted to put up a fight. Against activists who destroyed the fields. Against critics, who influenced the mood against the genetic modification company. Cofer Black is the right man for all seasons: “We’ll take off the kid gloves”, he declared after the 11 September terrorist attacks, and tasked his CIA agents in Afghanistan to take out Osama bin Laden: “Get him, I want his head in a box.” However, he also understands a lot about the other secret service business, which operates with publicly available sources. When he meets with the Monsanto safety officer Wilson, Cofer Black is still the Vice (President) at Blackwater, who has the Pentagon, the State Department, the CIA and, of course private companies as customers. However, there was a lot of anxiety in January 2008, because the mercenaries of the security company had shot 17 civilians in Iraq and some Blackwater employees had drawn attention by bribing Iraqi government employees. It just so happened that Cofer Black was at the same time head of the security company Total Intelligence Solutions (TIS), which was a subsidiary of Blackwater, not saddled with the same devastating reputation, however staffed with some excellent and versatile experts.
According to their own statements, Monsanto was conducting business with TIS at the time and not with Blackwater. It is without doubt that Monsanto received reports from TIS about the activities of critics. The activities in question were those that would have presented a risk for the company, its employees or its operating business. The information collected ranged from terrorist attacks in Asia to the scanning of websites and blogs. Monsanto emphasizes that TIS only used publicly accessible material when preventing said risk.
This matched Black’s modus operandus. No shady dealings.
There used to be rumors that Monsanto wanted to take over TIS to mitigate their risk – and there are new rumors these days that the group allegedly is considering a takeover of the company Academi that emerged after a few transformations from the former Blackwater Company. Is anything correct about these rumors? “As a rule we are not disclosing details about our relations with service providers, unless that information is already available to the public,” is the only commentary from Monsanto.
Every company has its own history, and the history of Monsanto includes a substance, which the turned the company into a demon not only not only for the aging 1968ers: Monsanto was one of the leading manufacturers of the pesticide Agent Orange, which was used until January 1971 by the US military in the Vietnam War. Forests were defoliated by constant chemical bombardment to make the enemy visible. Arable land was poisoned, so that the Vietcong had nothing to eat. In the sprayed areas, the teratogenic effects increased more than ten times. Children were born without noses, without eyes, with hydrocephalus, with facial clefts and the US military stated that the Monsanto agent was as harmless as aspirin.
Is everything allowed in war? Especially in the new fangled cyber war?
It is already obvious that somebody makes life difficult for Monsanto critics and an invisible hand ends careers. However, who is this somebody? The targets of these attacks are scientists, such as the Australian Judy Carman. Among other things, she has made a name for herself with studies of genetically modified plants. Her publications were questioned by the same professors which also attacked the the studies of other Monsanto critics.
It does not stop at skirmishes in the scientific community. Hackers regularly target various web pages where Carman publishes her studies and the sites are also systematically observed, at least that is the impression Carman has. Evaluations of IP log files show that not only Monsanto visits the pages regularly, but also various organizations of the U.S. government, including the military. These include the Navy Network Information Center, the Federal Aviation Administration and the United States Army Intelligence Center, an institution of the US Army, which trains soldiers with information gathering. Monsanto’s interest in the studies is understandable, even for Carman. “But I do not understand why the U.S. government and the military are having me observed,” she says.
The organization GM Watch, known to be critical of gene technology, also experiences strange events. Editor Claire Robinson reports continued hacker attacks on the homepage since 2007. “Every time we increase the page security just a bit, the opposite side increases their tenacity and following are new, worse attacks”, she says. She also cannot believe the coincidences that occur. When the French scientist Gilles Eric Seralini published a controversial study on the health risks of genetically modified maize and glyphosate in 2012, the web site of GM Watch was hacked and blocked. The same repeats when the opinion of the European food inspectorate (EFSA) is added to the site. The timing was skilfully selected in both cases. The attacks took place exactly when the editors wanted to publish their opinion.
It has not yet been determined who is behind the attacks.
Monsanto itself, as stated, emphasizes that the company operates “responsibly”.
The fact is, however, that much is at stake for the group. It is about an upcoming bill. Especially about the current negotiations on the free trade agreement. Particularly sensitive is the subject of the agricultural and food industry. The Americans want to open the European markets for previously prohibited products. In addition to genetically engineered plants controversial feed additives and hormone-treated beef are subject of the negotiations. The negotiations will probably extend over several years.
The Americans want to use the Free Trade Agreement to open the European GMO Market.
The negotiations will be detailed. Toughness will rule the day. US President Barack Obama has therefore appointed Islam Siddiqui as chief negotiator for agriculture. He has worked for many years for the US ministry of agriculture as an expert. However, hardly anyone in Europe knows: From 2001 to 2008, he represented CropLife America as a registered lobbyist. CropLife America is an important industry association in the United States, representing the interests of pesticide and gene technology manufacturers – including of course Monsanto. “Actually, the EU cannot accept such a chief negotiator because of bias”, says Manfred Hausling, who represents the Green Party in the EU parliament.
Translated by New Europe Translations for Sustainable Pulse (Original in German)
In the past years, the U.S. Government has been blaming other countries for threatening cyber security. However, the recent leakage of the two top-secret U.S. surveillance programs of the National Security Agency (NSA) has smashed the image of the U.S. as a cyber liberty advocate and revealed its hypocrisy.
Edward Snowden, a 29-year-old defense contractor, revealed last week that the NSA is monitoring a wide swath of telephone and Internet activity as part of its counterterrorism efforts.
In an interview with the newspaper, Snowden said he wanted to demonstrate “the hypocrisy of the U.S. government when it claims that it does not target civilian infrastructure, unlike its adversaries.”
“We hack network backbones — like huge Internet routers, basically — that give us access to the communications of hundreds of thousands of computers without having to hack every single one,” he said.
“Not only does it do so, but it is so afraid of this being known that it is willing to use any means, such as diplomatic intimidation, to prevent this information becoming public.”
The revelations have renewed the debate over surveillance in the United States and overseas under the pretext of fighting terrorism. Civil liberties advocates describe the measures as “dangerous and unacceptable intrusions.”
“Americans’ faith in the law is touching. In this instance, it is misplaced,” read an article posted on the New Yorker on Wednesday.
“Ever since 9/11 and the USA Patriot Act and the explosion of new security organizations, the American people have seen their liberties eroded.” said Bob Beckel, a liberal Democratic strategist. And Cal Thomas, a USA Today’s columnist, shared Beckel’s opinion when they discussed the impact of the leaks on citizens’ liberty in his Wednesday’s column.
U.S. officials have argued the programs strike the correct balance between privacy and national security. Obama administration have attempted to justify the surveillance programs by pointing to the arrests and convictions of would-be New York subway bomber Najibullah Zazi in 2009 and David Headley, who is serving a 35-year prison sentence for his role in the 2008 Mumbai attacks.
However, court documents lodged in the U.S. and UK, as well as interviews with involved parties, suggest that data-mining through Prism and other NSA programs played a relatively minor role in the interception of the two plots, according to a report of the Guardian.
The New York Times also criticized that the U.S. government is “using a would-be subway bomber to justify sweeping surveillance.”
While the U.S. government is defending its own surveillance programs, it keeps accusing other countries including China of launching cyber attacks.
For months now, the U.S. government has implicated Beijing in state-sponsored hacking. China has denied such attacks while defending itself as a victim of cyber crimes. Snowden’s testimony now certainly adds a dose of conviction to the Chinese government’s statements.
According to the whistleblower, among some 61,000 reported targets of the NSA are thousands of computers in China — which U.S. officials have increasingly criticized as the source of thousands of attacks on U.S. military and commercial networks.
China’s cyber security has come under increasingly severe threats amid a variety of safety risks, according to a report released in March by the National Computer Network Emergency Response Technical Team Coordination Center (CNCERT).
Hackers have tampered with 16,388 web pages in China — including 1,802 government websites — in the past year, up 6.1 percent and 21.4 percent year on year respectively, the report said.
In 2012, around 73,000 overseas Internet Protocol addresses were involved in hijacking nearly 14.2 million mainframes in China via Trojan or Botnet, with the United States being the largest source of such hacking activities.
As the birthplace of the World Wide Web, the United States already has a matchless superiority and ability to launch cyber attacks around the globe.
Currently, the U.S. military has established a significant cyber force, including the 780th Military Intelligence Brigade, which is a regular military unit tasked with carrying out cyber missions.
Earlier media reports said Iran was once attacked by U.S. military intelligence agencies via the Internet, while, according to China’s foreign ministry, a majority of the cyber attacks against China comes from the United States.
As the aftershocks of NSA surveillance programs continue, it’s time for the U.S. government to make more self-examination instead of pointing fingers at other nations.
WikiLeaks released an enormous treasure-trove of classified US government documents in 2010. It included US military logs from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, over 250,000 diplomatic cables, and Collateral Murder, a video depicting the killing of 12 civilians by a US helicopter gunship in Iraq.
The source of the leaks, US Private Bradley Manning, acted on his conscience. He believed that people have a right to see the information he had been privy to as an army intelligence analyst. He was prepared to risk his life and liberty to reveal that information.
Through his exposure to thousands of classified documents, Manning became aware of the disparity between his government’s rhetoric and its actions. In Iraq, he witnessed his superiors turning a blind eye to torture, and was appalled by the “seemingly delightful bloodlust” of the US aerial weapons team in the Collateral Murder video.
Manning said he hoped the leaked documents would “spark a domestic debate on the role of the military and our foreign policy in general”. His courage will likely cost him a lifetime in prison, while his government is seeking to subject WikiLeaks’ Julian Assange to a similar fate.
When an empire is built on lies, truth is the enemy. Western governments do not want to be held accountable for their secret corruption and war crimes. Transparency poses a great danger to them.
Ruling elites depend on a democratic facade to conceal the inequalities and injustices inherent in our stratified societies. Information published by WikiLeaks can help us understand how the power exercised by our governments, in our name, ends up serving the interests of a powerful few.
With that understanding, people can demand the political and economic change that is needed to form more just and democratic societies. Transparency promotes criminal justice when it reveals individual wrongdoing, but it also promotes social justice: the sort of justice that comes from a shift in the balance of power from the 1% to a better-informed 99%.
The powerful cannot tolerate this threat to power and privilege. The US government is determined to make an example of Manning and Assange. They must be vilified, marginalised and punished severely, so those inclined to follow their path can see what will become of them if they do.
Manning has been held in pre-trial detention for three years, with nine months of that time spent in solitary confinement in a windowless cell where he was often forced to be naked.
Last year, the UN special rapporteur on torture ruled that Manning’s conditions constituted “at a minimum cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment”, and were a “violation of [Manning’s] right to physical and psychological integrity as well as of his presumption of innocence”.
For enduring this unlawful pre-trial punishment, Manning was granted a meagre 112 day reduction off his eventual sentence.
Manning’s trial by a military court begins on June 3. He has been prevented from defending himself on the grounds that he was acting for the public good, since a pre-trial judge ruled that he cannot submit evidence as to his motives for leaking information. He will likely be convicted of most of the 22 charges against him.
Assange and WikiLeaks have been the subject of a US criminal investigation since 2010. The investigation has been described in cables from the Australian embassy in Washington as “unprecedented in both its scale and nature”.
As of June last year, the FBI file on WikiLeaks was reported to comprise 42,135 pages, excluding grand jury testimony.
In September last year, a Pentagon spokesperson said that the very existence of WikiLeaks is regarded as an ongoing crime. This suggests the US government is not about to let up its pursuit of Assange any time soon. It is possible that a secret sealed grand jury indictment of Assange on charges of espionage or conspiracy already exists.
The US government and its allies seek to reassert their authority through the persecution of Manning and Assange, but their actions only serve to further undermine their legitimacy.
Reassuring notions of “human rights” and “civil liberties” appear to underpin our democracies, until we see how quickly they can be dispensed with to punish those who challenge the authority of the state.
US writer and activist Chris Hedges said in an interview with Democracy Now! that the attacks on Manning and Assange were part of a troubling pattern of increasing repression.
The Barack Obama administration has prosecuted more whistleblowers under the 1917 Espionage Act than all previous administrations combined. It introduced the 2011 National Defence Authorisation Act, which allows for the indefinite military detention of anyone the government claims is offering “substantial support” to terrorists or “associated forces”.
The administration has refused to rule out the possibility that journalists could be subject to this provision.
It was revealed in May that the Obama administration had secretly appropriated the work, home and mobile phone records of 100 reporters and editors at the Associated Press (AP). The government has refused to explain why it carried out the raid, but it is believed to have been part of an investigation into the identity of the source of an AP story about a CIA operation in Yemen.
Hedges said these measures are “symptomatic of a reconfiguration of our society into a totalitarian security and surveillance state, one where anyone who challenges the official narrative, who digs out cases of torture, war crimes — which is, of course, what Manning and Assange presented to the American public — is going to be ruthlessly silenced”.
Australians should be no less concerned about these developments than citizens of the United States. Where the US government goes, the Australian government tends to follow, and the US is increasingly applying its laws extra-territorially.
The Australian government’s treatment of Assange demonstrates how quickly it will sacrifice the welfare of an Australian citizen, and violate its international obligations to protect journalists, in deference to a powerful ally.
Australia generally offers poor legal protections to journalists, who are increasingly finding themselves in court for refusing to reveal their sources.
In an extraordinary attack on personal privacy, the Australian government wants to force internet service providers to retain our personal data for two years, making it available to the police and the Australian Security and Intelligence Organisation (ASIO).
Laws proposed last year would also give ASIO the power to demand online passwords to access users’ personal data, and the power to remotely control computers and modify the content.
If we do not fight these measures, and if we fail to stand up for Manning and Assange, we will simply be inviting more of the same. We need to set an example to those in power: we will not stand by while they strip us of our rights and freedoms, and punish anyone who dares to challenge their authority.
Crucially, though, if we hope to build enduring just and democratic societies, we need to set an example to ourselves.
In a recent interview with US philosopher and activist Cornel West, Assange revealed that he understands very well that the limits we place on ourselves are as powerful as any external constraints.
Assange told West that in his early 20s, he was asked by the Australian police to inform on friends within the Australian activist community. Assange said that he refused, not because he was worried about what others would think of him, but because he did not want to “set a precedent to himself of succumbing”.
Assange said, “there is no other way to live, but to live your own life, and to try and manifest your principles in the world”.
We might think of ourselves as freedom, justice, and peace-loving people, but it’s our actions that shape our character. To act in accordance with our deepest values in the face of great personal cost, is empowering. As Assange put it, “to be courageous emancipates our own character”.
Each time we “succumb” to injustice and oppression, we are training ourselves to succumb when we find ourselves in similar circumstances. Our capacity for courage is diminished.
If we fail to stand up for what we believe in as individuals, we cannot expect others to, and we cannot expect to live in a society which reflects our values.
Assange told West: “We must all fight to set precedents to ourselves about how our character will act in certain circumstances …
“Perhaps, for every person, their primary task is to strengthen and emancipate their own character, because how can they emancipate other people?”
If we do not act to defend Assange and Manning, we will be succumbing to a system which locks up those who expose war crimes, and lets war criminals walk free.
If we do not attempt to fulfill the potential for change which Manning and WikiLeaks have offered us, we will be succumbing to a world of inequality, injustice and permanent war.
[Linda Pearson is an activist with Sydney Support Assange and WikiLeaks Coalition. Email firstname.lastname@example.org for details of the SSAWC’s June 1 action for Bradley Manning.]
The US government has dramatically lifted the stakes in its crackdown on journalism, subpoenaing a US company in an effort to obtain information about the research and writing of articles that exposed its links with the cybersecurity industry.
In a remarkable fishing expedition, the US Department of Justice has used its prosecution of author and activist Barrett Brown to issue a subpoena to web-hosting company Cloudflare for information relating to the Echelon wiki site.
That site was used by Project PM, an international collaborative research project dedicated to piecing together a clearer picture of the US cybersecurity industry, its extensive links with the US government and secret activities such as the HBGaryFederal-Palantir-Berico plot to destroy WikiLeaks. The subpoena demands, inter alia, “account access history including any and all authentication, file transfer, web server logs or other transaction logs containing source IP addresses relating to the subscriber’s use of Cloudflare services”.
Another of Project PM’s targets was a US company called Endgame, a provider of cybersecurity services to many US government agencies, including the Pentagon. Endgame’s services should be enough to make even the most Luddite citizen paranoid. As Business Week — the only mainstream media outlet to investigate the company — revealed in a 2011 article:
“… Endgame executives will bring up maps of airports, parliament buildings, and corporate offices. The executives then create a list of the computers running inside the facilities, including what software the computers run, and a menu of attacks that could work against those particular systems. Endgame weaponry comes customized by region — the Middle East, Russia, Latin America, and China — with manuals, testing software, and ‘demo instructions’. There are even target packs for democratic countries in Europe and other US. allies. Maui (product names tend toward alluring warm-weather locales) is a package of 25 zero-day exploits that runs clients $2.5 million a year. The Cayman botnet-analytics package gets you access to a database of internet addresses, organization names, and worm types for hundreds of millions of infected computers, and costs $1.5 million. A government or other entity could launch sophisticated attacks against just about any adversary anywhere in the world for a grand total of $6 million …”
“Zero-day exploits” attack previously unrevealed flaws in software before developers can patch them.
“Project PM set about revealing the sordid truth about this shadowy industry. Those who participated are now being targeted …”
Some of the information compiled by Project PM was obtained from the famous HB Gary Federal hack, in which would-be US cybersecurity player Aaron Barr and his company had their emails leaked. The emails provided an insight into the rarely-glimpsed world of high-level US cybersecurity, espionage and surveillance. The emails were also used by outlets such as the New York Times to explore links between cybersecurity firms and the US government.
Now, the US government is using its prosecution of Brown, including for the heinous crime of sharing a link, to go after those involved with Project PM, which may have been up to 20 people around the world who used leaked materials and other publicly available information to generate a clearer picture of a secretive industry. The tenuous connection between the charges levelled at Brown and his Project PM activities relates to the hack of emails of self-promoting “alternative CIA” Stratfor, which forms a limited basis for some Project PM materials.
Many of the Project PM contributors are outside the US, including the current webmaster of the site. Among those who contributed research was Melbourne information and transparency activist Asher Wolf. This is the second time Wolf has been dragged into US prosecutions, after Massachusetts prosecutors tried to subpoena a Twitter hashtag relating to the Occupy movement last year.
“The U.S. Department of Justice is out of control,” Wolf told Crikey. “It is deeply troubling that people who engage in journalism, academic research, or who have an interest in following emerging political movements via social media platforms are finding themselves potentially included in U.S. legal dragnets. These sort of subpoenas are not only vindictive, but also aim to scare people away from poking around in the guts of allegations of nation-wide corruption and malfeasance amongst infosec contractors.
“The fact that a bit of Saturday night online research into infosec contractors – or simply following an issue on Twitter – has now meant I’ve twice faced potential dragnet inclusion in U.S. subpoenas is bloody outrageous. The U.S. should be ashamed of themselves. They’re acting like thugs.”
The fishing expedition continues the disturbing record of both the Obama administration and state-level US prosecutors in persecuting whistleblowers, undermining the First Amendment by arguing releasing information to the media is “aiding the enemy” and aggressively pursuing online activists in an attempt to make an example of them.
But Project PM, and particularly information about Endgame, was important because it demonstrated that, contrary to the narrative pushed by Western governments (including our own) that they are hapless victims of Chinese espionage, cyberterrorists and online activists, Western governments devote considerable resources to their own espionage and cyberattack efforts, frequently via unaccountable, secretive private firms.
Moreover, cybersecurity remains an issue the mainstream media, with rare exceptions, not merely fails to cover accurately but sends out its journalists to serve as enthusiastic spruikers. Journalists hype threats and impacts to strengthen the case for more government and corporate spending to be directed toward the companies that operate in this space, which are increasingly controlled by big US and European defence contractors.
Unlike professional journalists engaged in hysterics, Project PM set about revealing the sordid truth about this shadowy industry. Those who participated are now being targeted by the most powerful government on earth.
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Did you ever wonder what happens when a gas plant explodes.? Well just take a look at this Video.
Can you really trust Shell to do the job right?
“Royal Dutch Shell is a company with sham business principles and no scruples. It plotted to exploit the 9/11 attack for commercial purposes, adopted a Touch F*** All approach to the safety of offshore operations costing the lives of Shell offshore workers, and even defrauded its own investors. Is the U.S. government really going to allow this thoroughly discredited blundering company to continue with its jinxed Arctic folly? And I have not mentioned its horrendous track record in Nigeria, including the embedding of spies throughout the host government.”
The above from http://www.royaldutchshellplc.com/
The Guardian -31st Jan 2013
Shell continues spilling oil in North Sea despite efforts to improve
Anglo-Dutch group has been responsible for over 20 pollution accidents in British waters over a six month period
The Grounding of the Kulluk in Alaska
There is no mention of making any insurance claim, because Shell was apparently unable to obtain contingency cover.
The venture was to risky.
The ill fated voyage of the Kulluk, which ended on the rocks, was prompted, as Shell has admitted, by a tax dodging motive.
Do you the people of Co. Mayo trust Shell?