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What To Do When You're Stopped By Police - The ACLU & Elon James White

What To Do When You're Stopped By Police - The ACLU & Elon James White

Know Anyone Who Thinks Racial Profiling Is Exaggerated? Watch This, And Tell Me When Your Jaw Drops.

This video clearly demonstrates how racist America is as a country and how far we have to go to become a country that is civilized and actually values equal justice. We must not rest until this goal is achieved. I do not want my great grandchildren to live in a country like we have today. I wish for them to live in a country where differences of race and culture are not ignored but valued as a part of what makes America great.

Saturday, June 04, 2011

The Associated Press: Malaysia police slammed for cattle-branding women

The Associated Press: Malaysia police slammed for cattle-branding women

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) — Malaysian lawyers, politicians and activists lambasted the police Saturday, accusing them of abusing their power in chaining up and marking the bodies of 30 foreign women detained for alleged prostitution.

Police raided a high-end nightclub in northern Penang state late Thursday and arrested 29 women from China and one from Vietnam, along with eight Malaysian men. Local media reported police officers went undercover at the club for a week before the raid.

It triggered an outcry after local newspapers carried photos of the women bound up with a long chain and marked with either a tick or an X on their chest and forehead.

"The police branded the detained women as though they are cattle," opposition lawmaker Teresa Kok said in a statement. "It is sickening that the police would employ such dehumanizing tactics as a show of power and moral superiority over their detainees."

Women's rights group Tenaganita said the detainees had been victimized and called for an investigation into the police conduct.

Another rights group, Lawyers for Liberty, said the police action was "very unusual and inhumane" as the women were merely suspects and not convicted of any crime.

Police have defended their action, saying the markings served as a way to identify the women.
Penang police chief Ayub Yaakob told the New Straits Times that the situation was chaotic, with the suspects trying to escape. He said police were forced to mark the women after some donned new clothes to try and blend in with other female patrons of the club.

He also said the women had wrecked many marriages and that police had received numerous complaints from wives of men who sought their services.

Monday, April 04, 2011

Fixing the Mistake With Young Offenders -

Fixing the Mistake With Young Offenders -

There is new evidence that state governments are finally understanding what a tragic mistake they made during the 1990s when they began trying ever larger numbers of children as adults instead of sending them to the juvenile justice system.

Prosecutors argued that harsh sentencing would protect the public from violent, youthful predators. But it has since turned out that most young people who spend time in jails and prisons are charged with nonviolent offenses. As many as half are never convicted of anything at all. In addition, research has shown that these young people are vulnerable to battery and rape at the hands of adult inmates and more likely to become violent, lifelong criminals than those who are held in juvenile custody.

A new study by the Campaign for Youth Justice, a Washington advocacy group, shows that state legislatures across the country are getting the message. In the last five years, the authors say, 15 states have passed nearly 30 pieces of legislation aimed at reversing policies that funnel a quarter of a million children into the adult justice system each year.

Ten states, including Arizona, Connecticut, Illinois, Indiana and Nevada, have cut the number of offenses that get youthful offenders automatically transferred to adult courts. Three states have expanded the jurisdiction of the juvenile courts, so that children under 18 are no long automatically prosecuted as adults. And several states have limited the circumstances under which young people can be housed in adult lock-ups before or after conviction.

Momentum is building for similar reforms all across the country. For example, Nebraska is considering a bill that would give people sentenced as juveniles to life without parole an opportunity to petition for reductions.

Far too many children are still being sentenced by adult courts and confined to adult prisons. But this study shows that the tide has begun to turn.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Fox underestimates crisis in Japan

A bleak future for boys in China, India and South Korea

A bleak future for boys in China, India and South Korea

Just backing up a post by Marcus Roberts the other day, the Canadian Medical Association Journal has just published an article which claims that it will be decades before the natural sex-ratio is restored in parts of India, China and South Korea because of sex-selective abortion and a tradition of son preference:

In the next 20 years in large parts of China and India, there will be a 10% to 20% excess of young men because of sex selection and this imbalance will have societal repercussions, states an analysis in the Canadian Medical Association Journal.

A preference for sons in China, India and South Korea combined with easy access to sex-selective abortions has led to a significant imbalance between the number of males and females born in these countries. The sex ratio at birth (SRB) – the number of boys born to every 100 girls – is consistent in human populations in which about 105 males are born to every 100 females. However, with the advent of ultrasounds that enable sex-selection, the sex ratio at birth in some cities in South Korea climbed to 125 by 1992 and is over 130 in several Chinese provinces from Henan in the north to Hainan in the south.

In 2005 in China, "it was estimated that 1.1 million excess males were born across the country and that the number of males under the age of 20 years exceeded the number of females by around 32 million," writes Professor Therese Hesketh, UCL Centre for International Health and Development, London, United Kingdom with coauthors.

In India, similar disparities exist, with sex ratios as high as 125 in Punjab, Delhi and Gujarat in the north but normal sex ratios of 105 in the southern and eastern states of Kerala and Andhra Pradesh.

"A consistent pattern in all three countries is the marked trend related to birth order and the influence of the sex of the preceding child," state the authors. If the first or second born are girls, couples will often sex select to ensure the second or third child is a boy.

The societal implications mean that a significant percentage of the male population will not be able to marry or have children because of a scarcity of women. In China, 94% of unmarried people aged 28 to 49 are male, 97% of whom have not completed high school, and there are worries the inability to marry will result in psychological issues and possibly increased violence and crime.

Policy makers in China, India and South Korea have taken some steps to address the issue, such as instituting laws forbidding fetal sex determination and selective abortion, but more can be done.

"To successfully address the underlying issue of son preference is hugely challenging and requires a multifaceted approach," state the authors.

The relaxation of China's one-child policy, especially in rural areas, could have some impact on sex ratios. But more important is to change underlying and long-standing attitudes towards son preference. Public awareness campaigns have had an impact. In South Korea and China, awareness campaigns have helped reduce the sex ratio at birth (for example, 118 in 1990 in South Korea to 109 in 2004).

"However, these incipient declines will not filter through to the reproductive age group for another two decades, and the SRBs in these countries remain high. It is likely to be several decades before the SRB in countries like India and China are within normal limits," conclude the authors.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Assange case in turmoil as accuser linked to police

Julian Assange, photoImage via WikipediaAssange case in turmoil as accuser linked to police

STOCKHOLM: A Swedish police officer involved in the investigation against Julian Assange over sexual assault charges knew one of the two plaintiffs in the case against the WikiLeaks founder, police have confirmed.

The admission comes after a newspaper reported that an unnamed female officer in charge of questioning the two alleged victims, who have accused Mr Assange of rape and molestation, had internet contact with one of them more than a year before the accusations surfaced last August.

Mr Assange's Swedish defence lawyer, Bjoern Hurtig, has said the revelation raises very serious concerns and described the officer's role in the investigation as ''highly inappropriate''.

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The policewoman became friends with the woman referred to in court as Miss A through Sweden's Social Democratic party, the daily paper Expressen reported.

Mr Hurtig added that if it was proven that Mr Assange's first interrogation was not objective, ''then there was really no grounds for the investigation to begin with, and perhaps the whole probe needs to start over''.

The pair corresponded on the internet 16 months before the allegations were made against Mr Assange, Miss A commented on a Facebook update on the police officer's page as recently as February 10 and Miss A links to the officer's private blog from her personal page.

The woman officer is also alleged to have posted negative comments on Facebook about Mr Assange, and had voiced support for the lawyer representing the two women.

''Go Claes Borgstroem!'' she wrote in one posting last month after the women's lawyer had discussed the case on Swedish public radio, while describing Mr Assange in another post as ''the bubble that is ready to burst''.

However, the lawyer representing the alleged victims, Claes Borgstroem, said there were ''numerous faulty facts'' in the newspaper article.

''This is a minor matter. It has no impact on the case and lacks any interest for the continuation of the case,'' he said.

It previously emerged that neither of the victims wanted to press charges against Mr Assange but had instead gone to the police to find out if they could force him to undergo an HIV test after he had unprotected sex with them, despite their explicit request he use a condom.

According to reports, it was one of the officers involved in the interrogations who deemed what they had been through amounted to rape in one case and sexual molestation in another and took the matter to a prosecutor. It is unclear if the friend of the alleged victim was the police officer who reported the matter to the prosecutor.

Mr Assange, the 39-year-old Australian former hacker, is awaiting a British appeal hearing on whether he can be extradited over the allegations after a London court ruled he could be sent to Sweden.

During those proceedings, Mr Assange's lawyers blasted the Swedish judiciary and claimed the allegations were motivated by anger at WikiLeaks' publication of hundreds of thousands of secret US military and diplomatic documents. A police spokesman confirmed that the officer knew one of the plaintiffs but claims she did not interview her on August 20 last year.

Agence France-Presse

and agencies

Monday, March 07, 2011

'Jonathan voted four times in 2007'

Seal of the President of Nigeria Category:Nati...Image via Wikipedia'Jonathan voted four times in 2007'

He was only a candidate for vice president then but in 2007, Goodluck Jonathan took matters into his own hands — literally. According to US diplomatic cables leaked to the whistleblower site Wikileaks, and which were made exclusively available to us, Mr. Jonathan helped himself gain the vice presidency four years ago by voting illegally four times. The astonishing accusation against Mr. Jonathan, now a president seeking validation at the polls next month, came from Edo governor Adams Oshiomhole, in a December 2008 briefing with US diplomats.

According to Mr. Oshiomhole, as reported in the US diplomatic cables, the court ruling voiding the supposed election of the ruling People’s Democratic Party (PDP) candidate for Edo governor and declaring Mr. Oshiomhole the legitimate winner would not have been possible without documentary evidence that, Mr. Jonathan, among others, personally rigged the election.

“Oshiomhole told poloffs (‘political officers’ at the US embassy) that it proved impossible to use forensic evidence because of the poor quality of thumbprints and that claims of intimidation also proved difficult to prove in a court of law, but documentary evidence, such as proof that the ‘vice president’ had voted four times, for example, proved decisive in the courts,” the cables revealed.

The content of the cables received an angry reaction from Aso Villa. Ima Niboro, the president's spokesperson, dismissed the claims as "stupid" and challenged anyone to come forward with evidence that linked President Jonathan with electoral malpractice. "Why should the president vote four times? Go and ask Adams Oshiomhole to come out and tell Nigerians. I can't respond to WikiLeaks," he said.

Several calls were made to Mr.Oshiomhole but both his phone numbers were unreachable. Further calls and text messages were made to Peter Okhiria, his spokesperson, but were also unreturned.

Little birds

These particular cables from US diplomats stationed in Nigeria and reporting to the State Department in Washington are among a massive trove of documents made available to NEXT in a worldwide exclusive. The documents cover a whole range of people and events in our country from as early as 2003 to the last months of the poorly President Umaru Yar’Adua, whose death in office a year ago ended a constitutional crisis and resulted in the ascent of Mr. Jonathan to the highest office in the land. The cables provide an unusually unvarnished insight into the dysfunctional and ineffectual nature of our government at all levels, the various forces pushing and pulling at the country, and the vileness and rapacity of those we have allowed to govern us. Two unnamed political officers, or “poloffs,” in US diplomatic jargon, visited the governor on Dec. 17, 2008 shortly after his legal victory. It was during that meeting that Mr. Oshiomhole made his explosive claim, as dutifully recorded by his visitors. Their cable originated from the Lagos consulate. In the cable, dated Dec. 29, 2008, Mr. Jonathan, who was vice president at the time, is said to have violated the Electoral Act by voting more than once. The law stipulates a maximum fine of N1 million or 12 months’ imprisonment for violators. At a campaign rally on Thursday, President Jonathan repeated his recent declaration that neither he nor his party had any desire to rig the coming elections. He added that he would advocate transparent elections even at the cost of losing the election.

“I am assuring Nigerians that though I am contesting, nobody must manipulate votes in my favour. Our vote is very important,” he said.

Not so secret

The vote-rigging allegations against the president are known to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), according to a highly-placed source at the Commission. The source, who did not want to be named for fear of a reprisal, revealed that a petition had been filed at INEC since 2007 in which references were made to the fact that the former vice president and other public figures voted several times. The source said that the petition did not single out President Jonathan but used him as a high profile example of the rife multiple registrations that took place in Bayelsa, Mr. Jonathan’s home state, where he had served as governor, and other states in the broader Delta region.

“There was a petition which I was aware of dated November 2007 or so,” the source told NEXT. “It was filed by a pressure group in the South-South who named several people as being complicit in multiple voting. Jonathan was one of the people mentioned.

“We get hundreds of such petitions and most of them are without merit. Also, the truth is we just don’t have the time to look into all of them.”

Local and international observers condemned the 2007 election for being heavily rigged in favour of the PDP, with some classifying it as our worst ever. Even President Yar’Adua, in his inaugural address, acknowledged as much, promising to clean things up by 2011. Several cases are still pending in court over the four-year-old election, with successful upturns recorded in Ondo, Ekiti, Edo and Osun states. Mr. Oshiomhole, who is himself a beneficiary of a successful legal challenge in Edo state, is described in the diplomatic cable as a “refreshing reminder that Nigeria possesses competent and honest leaders”.

During the visit by the US officials, the Edo State governor said that approximately 2,000 volunteers in 120 different polling stations had gone through ballots, result sheets and voter registration records to identify documentary evidence of fraud.

Double registration

A day before President Jonathan announced that “nobody must manipulate votes in my favour”, Attahiru Jega, the electoral commission chairman, revealed that several high profile individuals registered more than once in the recently completed voter registration exercise. Mr. Jega refused to divulge the names of the “high profile double registrants” but said that they could all face prosecution.

Several parties have responded angrily to Mr. Jega’s stark admission that influential Nigerians were planning to rig the forthcoming elections. Ibrahim Modibbo, a spokesperson for the Nuhu Ribadu presidential campaign, said that although the INEC chairman did not mention any names, almost all of the offenders were in the PDP.

“I don’t believe you will find ACN members in this act because we are disciplined people,” he said.

The party’s secretary, Lai Mohammed, denounced Mr. Jega’s decision to withhold the name of the culprits and demanded he publish them.

“If he has the names as he claims, what is he waiting for? He should publish their names and prosecute them,” he said.

The spokesperson for the All Nigeria People’s Party (ANPP), Emma Eneukwu, said the offenders should be taken to court,

“It is a criminal offence,” he said. “If the penalty attached to these offences are handed to the offenders, it will serve as deterrent. There is no sacred cow.

“The issue of multiple registration has been a problem in the country and until somebody is punished we cannot have transparent polls.”

The Conference of Nigeria Political Parties(CNPP) spokesman, Osita Okechukwu, challenged the electoral commission boss to publish the names.

“We challenge Jega to publish forthwith the names of those involved and prosecute them in accordance with the provisions of the Electoral Act,” he said. “He should immediately ask all the RECs (Resident Electoral Commissioners) to audit the Authentic Finger Identification System (AFIS) so that they can separate the junk and the underaged.”

Sunday, March 06, 2011

PressTV - Georgia considers anti-immigrant bill

PressTV - Georgia considers anti-immigrant bill

The state of Georgia's House of Representatives has passed an immigration bill known as the “Arizona copycat law,” which envisages extreme measures to be taken against undocumented immigrants.

The legislation, known as House Bill 87, cleared the House by a vote of 113-56 on Thursday, The Newnan Times-Herald reported.

The bill, sponsored by the Republican Representative Matt Ramsey, would require employers to verify workers' legal status using a federal database system called “E-Verify.”

Human rights and labor groups have described the bill, which also includes a measure allowing police to detain people they suspect of being undocumented immigrants, as racially motivated.

Amnesty International, Georgia Latino Alliance for Human Rights and Teamsters Local 728, along with others, helped to organize a protest outside the Capitol building on Thursday, to urge Governor Nathan Deal to veto the legislation if passed by the state Senate.

“This bill is an embarrassment to the people of Georgia. While everyday Georgians struggle to keep their homes and jobs, the legislature spends its time scapegoating hard working immigrants who contribute to Georgia's economy and culture. We can't afford to be passing racially biased laws that embarrass us in the eyes of the country and the world," Director of the Georgia Association of Latino Elected Officials Jerry Gonzalez stated.

Atlanta's Mexican Consulate has expressed concern over the “potentially grave effects” the law would have on Mexican nationals.

“As many local human rights organizations have already expressed, the consulate shares the view that measures focused on criminalizing migrants open possibilities for undue law enforcement practices and racial profiling,” the consulate said in a statement.

In response to the criticism made by the Mexican government, Ramsey stated, "I find it incredibly arrogant and audacious that the Mexican government would inject itself into the Georgia Legislature's debate on this pressing state issue."

Related articles

Shield law now goes beyond the media to cover everyone | The Australian

Shield law now goes beyond the media to cover everyone | The Australian

THE scope of the planned federal shield law for journalists' sources has been dramatically widened by the Greens, who have persuaded the government to extend the scheme beyond the traditional news media.

The federal shield law will still create a rebuttable presumption that journalists' confidential sources will be legally protected, but the government has made changes to ensure it is "technology neutral".

Anyone "engaged and active" in the publication of news in any medium will be considered to be a journalist and will be able to claim protection for their sources.
The changes, which were approved by the Senate on Thursday, triggered a warning from opposition legal affairs spokesman George Brandis.
While endorsing the need to protect journalists' sources, Senator Brandis said the changes supported by the government and the Greens had given the term "journalist" a meaning that was too broad.

"It says to every person in society that, whether they are journalists or not, if they are seeking to publish or bring to public awareness a fact which they assert to be a newsworthy fact, they should have a presumptive privilege," Senator Brandis told the Senate.
He said this was not the protection of journalists' sources, but the protection of communication between people that resulted in one of them publishing news. Any form of privilege meant withholding information from courts and should therefore be done as conservatively and narrowly as possible, he said.
Justin Quill of legal firm Kelly Hazell Quill said the changes would make no practical difference to journalists working for mainstream media.
The great benefit of the scheme for the mainstream media was that the shield law would shift the onus of proof so those seeking disclosure of a source would need to prove their case.

Mr Quill believed the changes could make it possible for bloggers and people such as WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange to claim protection for their sources but each case would need to be examined by a court.
Media lawyer Veronica Scott of Minter Ellison said the scheme that had been passed by the Senate was quite different to the original, more limited shield law bill drawn up by independents Nick Xenophon and Andrew Wilkie and endorsed by the government.
"It now extends the protection of sources to anybody who sends news by the internet and I query what news means in terms of this broadened definition of journalist," Ms Scott said.

She said the expanded definition meant anyone who published information that had been disclosed to them could be protected from not having to disclose the identity of their source.

Ms Scott believed the practical effect of the Greens' changes would be to encourage judges to apply another part of the shield law more rigorously when deciding whether the presumption in favour of protecting sources should be overturned.

"You will have a court opening up a much broader line of inquiry in relation to what is the public interest and the competing considerations as to whether that source's identity should be disclosed, potentially developing case law that could broaden the attack on your traditional journalists' sources," Ms Scott said.
She accepted that there were arguments in favour of protecting confidences, but she believed the shield law might not be the appropriate mechanism.
Many "citizen journalists" seeking to claim its protection could fail because they may not have extended a promise of confidentiality.
"If there is no promise, there is no shield," Ms Scott said.

Saturday, March 05, 2011

Egyptian Activists Expose Torture Tools and Files, Tied to US Renditions | Firedoglake

Egyptian Activists Expose Torture Tools and Files, Tied to US Renditions | Firedoglake

Twitter has been the site of an amazing narrative today as Egyptian activists, following the lead of their brothers and sisters in Alexandria yesterday, broke into the AmrDawla security police center and uncovered the secret files and torture devices. As Wikileaks has been mentioning on twitter, these same torture chambers have been used for prisoners transferred in the US rendition programs as well as on Egyptian dissidents.
Zeinobia writes:

During the Mubarak era the state security HQ in Nasr city had this infamous reputation not only inside the country but also outside it. Its international infamousness was recognized when it turned out that the Bush administration used its secret cells and also the expertise of its infamous officers to interrogate its illegal detainees during its unholy war on terrorism.

The Egyptians called that big building in Nasr city district “The capital of hell” and you can imagine why Egyptians called it like that. A scary building any taxi driver will tell you horror stories about it and about the secret underground prison cells and torture rooms.

Tonight Egyptian protesters managed not to only to encircle the fearful building by thousands but they have also entered it for the first time not as detainees blindfolded but actually as victorious revolutionaries who had enough from that castle of terrorists.

Friday, March 04, 2011

Bradley Manning Forced to Strip Naked… Again | FDL Action

Bradley Manning Forced to Strip Naked… Again | FDL Action

Bradley Manning civilian clothes

For the second night in a row, Pfc. Bradley Manning has been forced to strip naked in his cell and spent the night in humiliation in his cell at Quantico. Manning’s lawyer writes on his blog that Quantico’s new brig commander, CWO-2 Denise Barnes, directly made the decision to strip Manning without consulting the brig’s mental health specialists.

PFC Manning was forced to strip naked in his cell again last night. As with the previous evening, Quantico Brig guards required him to surrender all of his clothing. PFC Manning then walked back to his bed, and spent the next seven hours in humiliation.

The decision to require him to be stripped of all clothing was made by the Brig commander, Chief Warrant Officer-2 Denise Barnes. According to First Lieutenant Brian Villard, a Marine spokesman, the decision was “not punitive” and done in accordance with Brig rules. There can be no conceivable justification for requiring a soldier to surrender all his clothing, remain naked in his cell for seven hours, and then stand at attention the subsequent morning. This treatment is even more degrading considering that PFC Manning is being monitored — both by direct observation and by video — at all times. The defense was informed by Brig officials that the decision to strip PFC Manning of all his clothing was made without consulting any of the Brig’s mental health providers.

Last month Barnes replaced Quantico Brig Commander James Averhart after Averhart improperly put Manning on a punitive suicide watch against the recommendations of Quantico’s mental health staff. Like Averhart, Barnes is also ignoring the mental health staff’s recommendations to remove Pfc. Manning from the highly restrictive Prevention of Injury order, and is not consulting the mental health providers on the inconceivable decision to strip Manning at night.

This was all just as promised; Coombs noted yesterday that Manning was informed he would continue to be stripped of his clothes and humliated before he goes to bed. Jeff Kaye, a psychologist specializing in torture victims, wrote last night:

Alert commenter Mad Dog noticed this important part of David Coombs’ article, chilling in its open avowal of continuing abuse. Referring to the imposition of forced nakedness, Coombs reports that “PFC Manning has been told that the same thing will happen to him again tonight.” Meanwhile, Trudy B. has sent me a link to a Kate Zernike and David Rohde’s June 2004 piece in the New York Times, on the “pervasive pattern” of forced nakedness at Abu Ghraib, at Guantanamo and elsewhere.

It got so bad at Abu Ghraib that in October 2003, Zernike and Rohde wrote that “Red Cross monitors were so alarmed by the number of nude detainees that they halted their visit and demanded an immediate explanation. ‘The military intelligence officer in charge of the interrogation explained that this practice was “part of the process,”‘ the Red Cross wrote in a report in February.”

I guess that’s the case now at Quantico. “Part of the process” is what torture has now come down to, embraced on U.S. soil against an American citizen.

Harvard Law Reviews WikiLeaks Censorship | GroundReport

Julian Assange, photo ("sunny country bac...Image via WikipediaHarvard Law Reviews WikiLeaks Censorship | GroundReport

Harvard Law Professor Yochai Benkler is about to release a comprehensive study on the U.S. government and media’s role in censoring WikiLeaks. The forthcoming report , to appear in the Harvard Civil Rights-Civil Liberties Law Review, titled “A Free Irresponsible Press: WikiLeaks and the Batter over the Soul of the Networked Fourth Estate.” In the report, Benkler dissects the mechanisms that have censored WikiLeaks.

A working draft of the report has been made available online. The draft exposes how the U.S. government, mainstream media, and the emerging corporatocracy have been working together to infringe on the First Amendment Rights of the “networked fourth estate” sites, like WikiLeaks. Essentially, the government has been tripping over its feet to find ways to stop Wikileaks from expressing speech which Benkler argues is clearly protected by the U.S. Constitution and solidly supported by Supreme Court precedent.

In the 66 page document, Benkler suggests the U.S. government has attempted to falsely frame the WikiLeaks revelations in a way to discredit WikiLeaks and Julian Assange. The false framing begins with what Benkler calls the “hurt America” argument. The report points to a string of statements made by Vice President Joe Biden, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Senator Joe Libermann, and Secretary of Defense Robert Gates. For example, the report quotes Biden’s claim that WikiLeaks is “more like high tech terrorist than the Pentagon Papers.” In addition, Clinton’s comment, “Let's be clear: This disclosure is not just an attack on America's foreign policy interests. It is an attack on the international community - the alliances and partnerships, the conversations and negotiations, that safeguard global security and advance economic prosperity.”

Immediately after top U.S. officials falsely framed WikiLeaks as a terrorist organization engaged in an attack on America, the main stream media picked up on the false framing and ran with it. Benkler shows commentator after commentator, on all the main stream media outlets, began echoing the “WikiLeaks hurts America” theme. On top of the White House’s calls, Senator Lieberman, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Homeland Security, suggested the possible criminality of WikiLeaks actions, “I call on any other company or organization that is hosting WikiLeaks to immediately terminate its relationship with them. WikiLeaks' illegal, outrageous, and reckless acts have compromised our national security and put lives at risk around the world. No responsible company - whether American or foreign - should assist WikiLeaks in its efforts to disseminate these stolen materials.”

The problem with all this is that what WikiLeaks has done was nothing different than what The New York Times and The Washington Post has done. And besides that, the U.S. government’s own reviews have found that WikiLeaks has actually done little to nothing to compromise our national security. As Department of Defense Robert Gates has repeatedly said under oath, “Is this embarrassing? Yes. Is it awkward? Yes. Consequences for U.S. foreign policy? I think fairly modest.” Gates followed up in a separate hearing saying, “The review to date has not revealed any sensitive intelligence sources and methods compromised by this disclosure.”

Benkler explains, “The political attack on WikiLeaks as an organization and on Julian Assange as its public face was launched almost immediately upon release of the cables. Their defining feature was to frame the event not as journalism, irresponsible or otherwise, but as a dangerous, anarchic attack on the model of the super-empowered networks of terrorism out to attack the U.S.”

With false statements coming from the State Department, key Senators, and the White House, major credit cards, Pay Pal, and host of other sites like Amazon cut off ties with WikiLeaks. Benkler points out that legally, the U.S. government did not have the right to shut down WikiLeaks. However, by a series of “extra-legal” means, the government was able to temporarily shut down the site and its revenue stream. Essentially, all the major corporate controls of the Internet, have now blocked WikiLeaks, as a result of a relentless government propaganda campaign to censor the organization.

Benkler makes clear, that WikiLeaks has done nothing different than dozens of other mainstream media sources throughout our nation’s history. Benkler illustrates that WikiLeaks has published the very same material The New York Times, The Guardian, and Der Spiegle has published.

Yesterday, the U.S. Army charged the alleged “source” of the leaked government documents, Private Bradley Manning, with 22 additional charges including “aiding the enemy.” Constitutional law scholar and best-selling author, Glenn Greenwald has been following the media and government’s attempt to censor WikiLeaks from the beginning. Writing in the online magazine Solon, Greenwald has published numerous articles documenting the attacks on whistle-blowers and journalists involved in exposing government corruption. Greenwald has documented the Obama administration’s escalating assault on protected speech.

In his most recent article, Greenwald explains the new charges and asks the very important question, who is the enemy Manning is charged with aiding? According to Greenwald, under Article 104(b) “a person is guilty if he “gives intelligence to or communicates or corresponds with or holds any intercourse with the enemy, either directly or indirectly” If found guilty of aiding the enemy, the court could sentence Manning to death.

Greenwald goes on to ask who is the alleged enemy? He points out that whether the government labels WikiLeaks or Al Qaeda as the enemy, the prosecution’s theory turns acts of whistle-blowing into a “hanging-offense”. In addition, Greenwald argues that if Manning aided the enemy, than so did The New York Times and The Guardian. To further support his argument, Greenwald quotes a Professor Heller:

“If Manning has aided the enemy, so has any media organization that published the information he allegedly stole. Nothing in Article 104 requires proof that the defendant illegally acquired the information that aided the enemy. As a result, if the mere act of ensuring that harmful information is published on the internet qualifies either as indirectly "giving intelligence to the enemy" (if the military can prove an enemy actually accessed the information) or as indirectly "communicating with the enemy" (because any reasonable person knows that enemies can access information on the internet), there is no relevant factual difference between Manning and a media organization that published the relevant information.”

Greenwald and Heller note that while newspapers and Wikileaks can’t be charged under the UCMJ, “there is still something profoundly disturbing about the prospect of convicting Manning and sentencing him to life imprisonment [GG: or the death penalty] for doing exactly what media organizations did, as well."

Greenwald concludes by stating, “It's true that members of the military have legal duties that others do not have -- including the duty not to leak classified information -- but this incredibly expansive interpretation of what it means to "aid the enemy" dangerously encompasses all sorts of legitimate press and speech activities, especially when combined with the Obama administration's escalating war on whistle-blowing and the journalists who expose government secrets. This is yet another step in infecting the law with doctrines of Endless War and its accompanying mentality.”

Greenwald, Heller, and Benkler put their fingers on a deeply disturbing development in America. While attacks on whistle-blowers and journalist that expose corruptions is nothing new, the intensity and veracity of the Obama Administration’s propaganda campaign and assault on WikiLeaks, along with the inhuman treatment of Private Manning, should sound off serious warning bells to proponents of the First Amendment. Let us not forget, amongst other things, the WikiLeaks documents have shown a widespread American cover-up of torture in Iraq. Manning first attempted, to no avail, to use the chain of command to expose and bring to an end crimes against humanity. Since commanding officers did little to nothing about the criminality going on around them, under both the UCMJ and international law, Manning had a legal obligation to disobey orders. According to Greenwald, this issue was settled during the Nuremberg trials.

Whether we want to admit it or not, our government’s attempt to crack down on whistle-blowers and protected, free-speech is dangerous. This is a series and complicated issue. Most people would rather simply go on believing our leaders when the make public statements about our national security. However, just because Joe Biden and Hillary Clinton said it is so, doesn’t automatically make it is so. Remember, the legendary journalist I.F. Stone once famously said, “All Governments Lie.” Why should the Obama Administration be any different?

Beijing to Track People's Movements via Their Mobile Phones - PCWorld

BEIJING - OCTOBER 21:  A Chinese visitor speak...Image by Getty Images via @daylifeBeijing to Track People's Movements via Their Mobile Phones - PCWorld

China plans on tracking the movements of people in Beijing using their mobile phones, a measure that while aimed at relieving traffic congestion, could set off concerns over misuse.

China announced the plans in an article posted on a government website earlier this week. The system would work by tracking the movements of the 17 million users in Beijing currently signed on with the telecommunications carrier China Mobile. Once the users turned on their phone, the system could pinpoint their location and what direction they were heading.

The plan would tackle Beijing's growing traffic problem, which has resulted in highway jams that have lasted as long as nine days. But China has also gained a reputation for using technology to squelch dissent. The government has allegedly hacked the email accounts of human rights activists and launched cyberattacks against websites carrying online protest calls.

The new system would use mobile phone information to monitor traffic flows in different areas of the city, and see how residents are using the subway and bus systems. The article did not say when or exactly how the system will be implemented, only that it has passed expert review.

Users will be able to sign up and receive data from the system, the notice said. But it's unclear whether or not residents of Beijing can voluntarily bow out of the system to protect their privacy. The Beijing Science & Technology Commission behind the project could not be reached for comment.

Although the Chinese government intends to use the data for traffic purposes, "anytime data like this is collected, there is a potential for misuse," said Mark Natkin, managing director for Beijing-based Marbridge Consulting.

China has also made previous efforts to collect data on mobile phone users. Last year, the government began requiring people to use their real identities when setting up mobile phone accounts. China has more than 850 million mobile phone users, many of whom bought their numbers without using their actual ID.

Experts have said these past moves could be a part of a larger agenda by the Chinese government to reduce anonymity among the populace. In the case of China's plan for a tracking system in Beijing, it could potentially monitor an individual's movement, Natkin added.

"By U.S. standards, European standards, that would be considered a violation of a person's privacy, but not necessarily here (in China)," he said.

Not everyone sees a problem with the planned tracking system.

"The project seems like it will look at the data on a large scale. The data they are dealing with is so big, I don't think it will result with any privacy problems," said Zhao Wei, CEO of Chinese security company Knownsec. "I think it could actually be effective in solving traffic problems."

Thursday, March 03, 2011

The Law Office of David E. Coombs: PFC Manning Forced to Strip Naked

The Law Office of David E. Coombs: PFC Manning Forced to Strip Naked:

Last night, PFC Manning was inexplicably stripped of all clothing by the Quantico Brig. He remained in his cell, naked, for the next seven hours. At 5:00 a.m., the Brig sounded the wake-up call for the detainees. At this point, PFC Manning was forced to stand naked at the front of his cell.

The Duty Brig Supervisor (DBS) arrived shortly after 5:00 a.m. When he arrived, PFC Manning was called to attention. The DBS walked through the facility to conduct his detainee count. Afterwards, PFC Manning was told to sit on his bed. About ten minutes later, a guard came to his cell to return his clothing.

This type of degrading treatment is inexcusable and without justification. It is an embarrassment to our military justice system and should not be tolerated. PFC Manning has been told that the same thing will happen to him again tonight. No other detainee at the Brig is forced to endure this type of isolation and humiliation.

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

Justices Rule for Protesters at Military Funerals -

Justices Rule for Protesters at Military Funerals -

Westboro Baptist Church at the United Nations ...Image via WikipediaJustices Rule for Protesters at Military Funerals -

WASHINGTON — The First Amendment protects hateful protests at military funerals, the Supreme Court ruled on Wednesday in an 8-1 decision.

“Speech is powerful,” Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. wrote for the majority. “It can stir people to action, move them to tears of both joy and sorrow, and — as it did here — inflict great pain.”

But under the First Amendment, he went on, “we cannot react to that pain by punishing the speaker.” Instead, the national commitment to free speech, he said, requires protection of “even hurtful speech on public issues to ensure that we do not stifle public debate.”

The case arose from a protest at the funeral of a Marine who had died in Iraq, Lance Cpl. Matthew A. Snyder. As they had at hundreds of other funerals, members of the Westboro Baptist Church of Topeka, Kan., appeared with signs bearing messages like “America is Doomed” and “God Hates Fags.”

The church contends that God is punishing the United States for its tolerance of homosexuality.

The father of the fallen Marine, Albert Snyder, sued the protesters for, among other things, intentional infliction of emotional distress, and won a substantial jury award that was later overturned by an appeals court.

Chief Justice Roberts wrote in the ruling that three factors required a ruling in favor of the church group. First, he said, its speech was on matters of public concern. While the messages on the signs carried by its members “may fall short of refined commentary,” the chief justice wrote, “the issues they highlight — the political and moral conduct of the United States and its citizens, the fate of our nation, homosexuality in the military and scandals involving the Catholic clergy — are matters of public import.”

Second, he wrote, the relationship between the church and the Snyders was not a private grudge.

Third, the members of the church “had the right to be where they were.” They were picketing on a public street 1,000 feet from the site of the funeral, they complied with the law and with instructions from the police, and they protested quietly and without violence.

Chief Justice Roberts suggested that the proper response to hurtful protests are general laws creating buffer zones around funerals and the like, rather than empowering of juries to punish unpopular speech.

The opinion acknowledged that “Westboro’s choice added to Mr. Snyder’s already incalculable grief” and emphasized that the ruling was narrow and limited to the kinds of protests staged by the church.

Justice Stephen G. Breyer joined the majority opinion but wrote separately to say that other sorts of speech, including television broadcasts and Internet postings, might warrant different treatment.

The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press and 21 news organizations, including The New York Times Company, filed a brief supporting the church.

Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. dissented in the case, Snyder v. Phelps, No. 09-751. He likened the protest to fighting words, which are not protected by the First Amendment.

“In order to have a society in which public issues can be openly and vigorously debated,” he wrote, “it is not necessary to allow the brutalization of innocent victims.”

I could not see how the Supreme Court could have ruled otherwise.

John H. Armwood

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Monroe Price: Clinton's "Long Game" Advancing Internet Freedom

Official portrait of Secretary of State Hillar...Image via WikipediaMonroe Price: Clinton's "Long Game" Advancing Internet Freedom

While Bahrain careens and Egypt moves toward a new stasis, the debate over the shape and role of the Internet intensifies in different register and in different levels of abstraction.

An important forum for this global discussion is the Department of State and its vision for the Internet. There's now an incipient tradition: an annual Clinton Internet-celebrating speech given in the winter months. Secretary Clinton's George Washington University speech, given February 15, can best be understood by comparing it to the Internet speech she delivered, with great flourish and fanfare, a little more than one year earlier.

There was a big geopolitical difference. The 2010 speech was given, primarily, with an eye on China. This 2011 speech was set in the wake of Tunisia and Egypt and the roiling Middle East.

The 2011 speech sought -- nobly and romantically -- to emphasize the human aspects, not the mere technological ones, of great public actions that could alter history. This was a speech nominally about the Internet, but Secretary Clinton again and again talked about the power of people massing and demonstrating, not because of technology but merely aided by it. Brave individuals "stood and marched and chanted and the authorities tracked and blocked and arrested them. The Internet did not do any of these things; people did" (emphasis added).

There was a modesty to the speech that refined the most extensive global claims of its 2010 predecessor. The 2010 speech was called "Remarks on Internet Freedom." The 2011 speech put this freedom in context: it was on "Internet Rights and Wrongs: Choices and Challenges in Networked World." Things were and should be stated in a more complicated way.

The 2010 talk spoke about "one Internet" as a challenge to notions of state sovereignty. That formulation was a specific challenge to China with its emphasis on national sovereignty. The idea of "one Internet" was not so marked in the 2011 presentation. In the 2011 speech the Secretary put the United States on the "side of openness" in fighting for an Internet that would aid in fulfilling human rights. It was -- as it was last year -- a complicated balancing act to draw the boundaries of openness, especially during a time of WikiLeaks. This speech -- more rounded, more circumspect -- was only slightly defensive, still prescriptive and committed. The choice of the words "on the side of" openness seems accurate rather than hyperbolic.

At the end, consistent with a pragmatic theme, the Secretary moved to the practical and instrumental: "We realize that in order to be meaningful, online freedoms must carry over into real world activism."

A key paragraph:

While the rights we seek to protect and support are clear, the various ways that these rights are violated are increasingly complex. I know some have criticized us for not pouring funding into a signle technology. But we believe there is not a silver bullet in the struggle against internet repression. There is no app for that. Start working those of you out there. And accordingly, we are taking a comprehensive and innovative approach, one that matches our diplomacy with technology, secure distribution networks for tools, and direct support for those on the front lines.
Subtly, or maybe not so subtly, this paragraph alludes to an intense Beltway and beyond debate about how to split up $30 million appropriated by Congress to facilitate access to the Internet in repressive contexts with an emphasis on circumvention technologies. Here, implicit is defining the proper role of the United States in furthering an open Internet, in furthering the "right to connect" as Secretary Clinton tries to define it. The State Department seems to be working to find this spot -- what combination of strenuous activities advances Internet freedom. Implicit is that some interventions can be counterproductive.

Of course, it's an appealing idea to say that opening up the sluices of information will swiftly bring down dictators, and that's a plausible and welcome reading of events. But these events in Egypt and Bahrain, Libya and elsewhere are the result of many, many activities, inputs, efforts, discussions. Bullets, silver or otherwise, come by and large from the side of tyrants.

Mobilization, demonstration, action -- these, Secretary Clinton seems to conclude -- are the consequence of a system of approaches, not the easy pulling of an off/on switch.

The effort at State involves the sometimes exciting, sometimes duller work of attempting a myriad of activities, "supporting multiple tools," as Clinton put it. She mentioned connecting NGOs and advocates with technology and training, playing a role as "venture capitalist" for new technologies of freedom. What mix is the right one, what judgments help produce the great human acts of bravery and the shift to democratic realization -- that remains subject to the hard realities of day to day executive judgment.

Towards the end of her speech the secretary asserted -- at this time of toppled regimes, sudden changes, mercurial reputations and overnight transformations -- that "we are playing for the long game... progress [in Internet use] will be measured in years, not seconds. The course we chart today will determine whether those who follow us will get the chance to experience the freedom, security and prosperity of an open internet."

The long game is on, and the scores are already coming in.

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

The ‘Italian Job’ and Other Highlights From U.S.’s Rendition Program With Egypt - ProPublica

The ‘Italian Job’ and Other Highlights From U.S.’s Rendition Program With Egypt - ProPublica

Among the many aspects of the U.S.-Egypt relationship, few have been as controversial as the CIA’s extraordinary rendition program, where the agency frequently handed over suspected terrorists to foreign governments with histories of torture and illegal detention.

According to Human Rights Watch, Egypt welcomed more CIA detainees than any other country from the 1990s through 2005. And while renditions happen only with the assurance that a foreign partner will not torture the prisoner, as one CIA officer once told Congress, the assurances “weren’t worth a bucket of warm spit.” (Want to know more about rendition? Here’s a good backgrounder.)

In the case of Egypt, the assurances were given by Omar Suleiman, former head of the country’s intelligence service, and the man President Hosni Mubarak picked as his vice president a few days ago.

Perhaps the most notorious case is that of Ibn al-Shaikh al-Libi, a Libyan national captured by Pakistani authorities in the months after the September 11, 2001 attacks. According to a 2006 Senate Intelligence Committee report, [PDF] al-Libi was turned over to American authorities and eventually sent to Egypt, where his fabricated testimony, given under torture, became a key piece of “evidence” falsely linking al-Qaeda to Saddam Hussein.

According to the Senate report, al-Libi said he began to feed his captors false intelligence once American interrogators threatened to send him to a foreign government. He started talking, he said, but was sent to Egypt anyway. He later told the CIA that his Egyptian captors placed him in a box less than 2 feet square for 17 hours.

Then, “when he was let out of the box, al-Libi claims that he was given a last opportunity to ‘tell the truth.’ ” He was struck down, he said, and finally “was punched for 15 minutes.” In another episode, he says he was beaten in a way that wouldn’t leave any marks.

As The New Yorker’s Jane Mayer and others have detailed, the “intelligence” he provided made its way into the 2003 speech that Secretary of State Colin Powell gave to the United Nations, laying out the evidence to justify war with Iraq. Years later, after no weapons of mass destruction were found, al-Libi recanted.

“When the F.B.I. later asked him why he had lied, he blamed the brutality of the Egyptian intelligence service,” Mayer writes. “Libi explained, ‘They were killing me,’ and that, ‘I had to tell them something.’ ”

Another famous case is that of Osama Mustafa Hassan Nasr, an Egyptian cleric who disappeared for a year after he was snatched off the streets of Milan in 2003 and taken to Egypt. Known in the agency as “The Italian Job,” the operation was exposed when Italian prosecutors were able to reconstruct the kidnapping after Nasr was released. In 2009, an Italian court convicted 23 Americans in absentia for the kidnapping.

A 2005 report from Human Rights Watch documented 63 cases of people being rendered to and from Egypt, though the report also estimated that the total number of cases was much higher, with as many as 200 people sent away since 2001. The United States was involved in most but not all of those cases, according to the report.

Muhammad al-Zawahiri, the brother of high-ranking al-Qaeda member Ayman, was reportedly kidnapped in the United Arab Emirates in 1999. He was presumed dead for years until the Arab press picked up on his detention.

“For more than five years, the Egyptian government refused to answer a single question about al-Zawahiri’s whereabouts, and allowed his family to believe that he had died rather than disclose his continued incarceration,” the HRW report said. His brother Hussain was also abducted in 1999, reportedly with help of the CIA in Malaysia, according to the report.

Days after taking office, President Obama signed an executive order restricting renditions but also keeping them as an option. "Obviously you need to preserve some tools – you still have to go after the bad guys," an administration official told the Los Angeles Times.

In September, a federal appeals court ruled that detainees cannot sue the CIA over allegations of torture at the hands of foreign governments.