Edward Snowden interviewed


This video from the USA says about itself:

11 October 2014

The New Yorker Festival presents Edward Snowden in conversation with Jane Mayer.

From The Nation magazine in the USA:

Edward Snowden Speaks: A Sneak Peek at an Exclusive Interview

We recently met with the courageous whistleblower for over three hours in Moscow for a wide-ranging conversation on surveillance, technology and politics.

Katrina vanden Heuvel and Stephen F. Cohen

October 10, 2014

On October 6, Nation editor and publisher Katrina vanden Heuvel and contributing editor Stephen Cohen sat down in Moscow for a rare and wide-ranging conversation with Edward Snowden, whose courageous actions exposing the extent of warrantless surveillance of millions living in the United States by the NSA have sparked a critical, unprecedented and transformative debate about mass surveillance. Among other issues, they discussed the price Snowden has paid for speaking truth to power, his definition of patriotism and accountability, how his experience has changed his view of US history and his frustration over America’s political system. What follows are a few passages from their conversation. A longer edited version will be published in a forthcoming issue and at TheNation.com.

Katrina vanden Heuvel: The Nation, many years ago, did an issue on patriotism and asked about a hundred people—how do you define patriotism? You’ve been called many names, and you’ve been called a patriot, but how do you, personally, define patriotism?

Edward Snowden: So, in terms of patriotism, I would say that what defines patriotism, for me, is the idea that one elevates—or they act to benefit—the country, right? That’s distinct from acting to benefit the government, and that distinction, that’s increasingly lost today. You’re not patriotic, just because you back whoever is in power today. You’re not patriotic because you back their policies. You’re patriotic when you work to improve the lives of the people in your country, in your community, in your family, those around you.

And sometimes that means making hard choices, choices that work against your own personal interest. You know, people sometimes say I broke an “oath of secrecy,” that was one of the early charges leveled against me. But it’s a fundamental misunderstanding, because there is no oath of secrecy for people who work in the intelligence community. You’re asked to sign a civil agreement, called “Standard Form 312,” which basically says, if you disclose classified information they can sue you, they can do this, that and the other. And you stand at risk of going to jail. But you are also asked to take an oath, and that’s the oath of service. The oath of service is not to secrecy; it’s to the Constitution—to protect it against all enemies, foreign and domestic. That’s the oath that I kept, that James Clapper and Keith Alexander did not.

Stephen Cohen: You signed that?

ES: You raise your hand, and you give the oath in your class when you “on-board.” All incoming officers are made to do it when you work for the Central Intelligence Agency. At least, that’s where I took the oath—as well as another in the military.

But “whistleblowing,” as a label, calling someone a whistleblower, I think that does them—it does all of us—a disservice, because it “otherizes.” Using the language of heroism, calling Dan Ellsberg a hero, you know, all these people who made great sacrifices—what they have done is heroic—but to distinguish them from the civic duty they have performed by saying they are heroes excuses the rest of us from the same civic duty to stand up and say when we see something wrong, when we witness our government engaging in serious crimes, when we witness the people in power abusing that power, engaging in massive historic violations of the Constitution of the United States. We have to stand up and say something, or we are party to that bad action.

KvH: In light of your personal experience—the risks you’ve taken, you’re sitting here in Moscow. When you think of a young man or woman who might want to take comparable risks, do you think your experience encourages or discourages that?

ES: I think when you compare my example to the example of Chelsea Manning—who revealed the Iraq war logs, which showed that there were attacks against civilians, whether intentional or unintentional, that had been concealed by the military; the fact that there were people being held indefinitely that classified documents had said did not represent a threat to anyone or any state or any government anywhere but were instead being held for intelligence purposes and would never face any charges against them. You know, these are the kinds of things voters in a democracy need to know in order to make meaningful choices. But when they were brought forward—regardless of your opinion on how it was done or whether it could’ve been done better or if it was a good or bad thing—Manning got thirty-five years in prison. Meanwhile, I’m still free. I talk to people in the ACLU office in New York all the time. I’m able to participate in the debate. I’ve been able to campaign for reform, and I’m just the first to come forward in the manner that I did and succeed.

There’s a danger when governments go too far to punish people for actions that are dissent rather than a real threat to the nation; they delegitimize not just their systems of government, not just their systems of justice, but the very legitimacy of their government. Because when we bring political charges against people for acts that were clearly intended to work in the public interest, we deny them the opportunity, the ability, to even mount a public-interest defense. The espionage charges they brought against me, for example, explicitly deny the ability to make a public-interest defense. There were no whistleblower protections that would’ve protected me—and that’s known for everybody who’s in the intelligence community. There are no proper channels for making this information available when the system fails comprehensively.

The government would assert that individuals who are aware of serious wrongdoing in the intelligence community should bring their concerns about these programs to the ones most responsible for that wrongdoing, and rely on those people to correct the problems that those people intentionally authorized. It’s clear that doesn’t work. We see in the case of Thomas Drake, who brought forward serious evidence of waste, fraud and abuse in the government and the mass surveillance programs, Bill Binney, Kirk Wiebe, Ed Loomis and other whistleblowers in the past, going all the way back to Dan Ellsberg. The government is not concerned with damage to national security because in each of these cases, damage did not result.

At the trial of Chelsea Manning, the government could point to no case of specific damage that had been caused by a massive revelation of classified information. The charges are a reaction to the government’s embarrassment more than genuine concern about these activities, otherwise they would substantiate what the harms were. We’re now more than a year on from the NSA revelations, and despite numerous testimony before Congress, despite tons of off-the-record quotes from anonymous officials who have an axe to grind, not a single US official, not a single representative of the United States government has ever pointed to a single case of individualized harm caused by these revelations. This, despite the fact that Keith Alexander, former director of the National Security Agency, said this would cause grave and irrevocable harm to the nation.

KvH: Are you looking forward to Laura Poitras’s movie [Citizenfour]? I think it is going to have a big impact.

ES: She’s very impressive. Of all of the journalists that I’ve worked with, she was actually the most conscious of operational security out of anybody. I don’t know if it’s because she had spent time in the war zone or what. But she was very rigorous in how she followed everything, and that was really encouraging. It’s rare for me to meet somebody who can be more paranoid when it comes to electronic security than I can be.

In a speech Thursday at the Brookings Institution in Washington DC, titled “Going Dark: Are Technology, Privacy, and Public Safety on a Collision Course?” Federal Bureau of Investigation Director James Comey demanded that the major telecommunications corporations develop new “backdoor” access points in their encryption systems to facilitate the US government’s mass surveillance programs: here.

Bahraini dictatorship’s hacking of computers in Britain


This 13 May 2013 video is called UK spyware used against Bahraini activists – Ala’a Shehabi.

From daily The Guardian in Britain:

UK police asked to investigate alleged Bahraini hacking of exiles’ computers

Rights group Privacy International files complaint that officials illegally monitored devices of pro-democracy trio in UK

Owen Bowcott, legal affairs correspondent

Monday 13 October 2014 11.16 BST

The police National Cyber Crime Unit has been asked to investigate claims that computers and mobile phones used by exiled Bahraini pro-democracy activists living in the UK are under illegal surveillance.

A complaint about Bahraini officials’ alleged monitoring of the devices was compiled by the civil liberties group Privacy International (PI) and submitted to the Metropolitan police on Monday.

The remote interference is said to have started after Dr Saeed Shehabi, Jaafar al-Hasabi and Mohammed Moosa Abd-Ali Ali inadvertently downloaded malicious software or had their machines infected by the programs. The intrusive technology is able to copy and transmit documents, remotely turn on cameras and microphones to record, as well as send emails from other people’s accounts, according to PI.

It said the technology involved was FinFisher, software once owned by Gamma International, a company that used to be based in Andover, Hampshire, but is now run by a firm based in Germany.

The complaint is partially based on evidence published in August by Bahrain Watch and WikiLeaks, which, it is said, details exchanges between Bahraini officials and Finfisher staff who were providing technical support.

The three men allegedly targeted are human rights activists who oppose the current regime in Bahrain and have been granted asylum in the UK.

Moosa Abd-Ali Ali and Hasabi had both been detained and tortured in Bahrain. Shehabi has been sentenced to life imprisonment in absentia and had his Bahraini citizenship revoked.

“We often had the feeling that they were spying on us but we had no physical evidence of intrusion,” said Shehabi, 60, who is a journalist. “I have lived here since 1971. I thought I was under British protection.”

His only direct evidence of computer interference was when his Twitter account inexplicably began following more and more people; on another occasion, he said, his daughter’s travel plans were disclosed to Bahraini government officials. Three years ago his home in the UK was the target of an arson attack.

Hasabi, 43, an IT specialist, said he had received numerous emails which he did not open because they appeared suspicious. He was alarmed to see his computer’s details appear in the WikiLeaks list online.

Moosa Abd-Ali Ali, 33, a TV camera operator, said: “Many times I received notices from my friends that I had sent them emails when I had not. Once I opened up my Facebook page and found that someone was writing it. Later I found it had been deleted. On other occasions I received notices from Gmail saying someone had tried to hack into my account.

“When I first came to the UK I felt safe but I don’t any more. They have hacked my computer.”

PI said: “It is clear from the Gamma documents published online that among those targeted by the Bahraini government with FinFisher technology were Mohammed, Jaafar and Saeed, along with prominent Bahraini opposition politicians, democracy activists and human rights lawyers.

FinFisher was developed and produced by the British company Gamma International. Promotional material for FinFisher shows that it allows its user full access to a target’s infected device and everything contained within it, even enabling them to turn on functions such as cameras and microphones.

“Reports from the Citizen Lab suggest that FinFisher command and control servers have been found in 35 countries, including Ethiopia, Turkmenistan, Bahrain, and Malaysia.”

The National Cyber Crime Unit is part of the National Crime Agency. Earlier this year PI made a similar complaint to police about alleged surveillance of the computer of an Ethiopian activist living in the UK.

Commenting on the alleged surveillance of the Ethiopian, a Metropolitan police spokesperson said: “On 28 February 2014, we received an allegation that a man in Islington had had his computer accessed without authorisation. This matter is currently under investigation by Islington CID.”

PI alleges that surveillance carried out by Bahraini authorities amounts to unlawful interception of communications under section 1 of the UK’s Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (Ripa) 2000.

FinFisher and its previous owner Gamma have previously claimed they only sold their products to responsible governments. The German-based firm did not respond to requests for a comment, nor did the embassy of Bahrain.

See also here. And here.

Bahraini government, with help from FinFisher, tracks activists living in the UK: here.

FinFisher spyware used to snoop on Bahraini activists, police told. Gamma International on the end of UK criminal complaint: here.

Privacy International files criminal complaint on behalf of Bahraini activists targeted by spyware FinFisher: here.

G4S Bahrain to provide manned and electronic security to [Saudi] Al Arab News: here.

Many wildlife sounds on the Internet


This video from the USA is called Wood Thrush singing song close-up. The wood thrush is one of the over 9,000 animal species with sound recordings at the Macaulay Library of Natural Sounds from the USA, which is on the Internet.

From Wired.com in the USA:

Nature Zen: Audio Library of Nature

By Gwen Pearson

10.06.14

Stuck at your desk? Need a soundtrack to mellow out on a Monday? I have just what you need! This hour-long recording of a dawn chorus in the mountains of Costa Rica is lovely to listen to, especially as winter edges closer here in the Northern Hemisphere. You might also like an interlude in a very different sounding forest in Queensland, Australia.

The Cornell Lab of Ornithology is a massive digital repository of cool stuff, and a big piece of it is the Macaulay Library of Natural Sounds‘s audio and video recordings of wildlife all over the world. Since 1920 scientists at Cornell have been recording wildlife, at first mostly birds, and then branching out to other animals.

In early 2013, they migrated over 150,000 digital recordings online, dating from 1929 to the present. It’s over 10 terabytes of data, representing more than 9,000 species. This museum has thrown open the doors and invites you into rummage around their collection. Beware, though–this library of natural recordings is huge and addictive.

New conservation Internet site


This video from Jamaica says about itself:

Protecting Pedro – Building Conservation Capacity

24 July 2012

Starting in 2005, The Nature Conservancy in partnership with the Government of Jamaica, has been working on the Pedro Bank to develop conservation solutions; including thorough environmental and social assessments, a management plan and the establishment of a fish sanctuary surrounding Southwest Cay (Bird Cay).

From BirdLife:

New online resource to help meet global conservation challenges

By Martin Fowlie, Tue, 30/09/2014 – 20:45

A new online resource, capacityforconservation.org has been launched that aims to support and strengthen conservation organisations and help them to achieve – and sustain – their conservation and organisational development goals.

The free online tool, created collaboratively by BirdLife International, Fauna & Flora International (FFI), the Tropical Biology Association and the University of Cambridge, will help conservation organisations to build and expand on existing knowledge and skills, ultimately helping them to better accomplish their conservation goals.

Capacityforconservation.org already contains tools, resources and case studies gathered by the world’s leading conservation NGOs from around the world. It encourages users to upload their own practical tools, resources and case studies covering various aspects of strategic conservation planning, from finance management, fundraising and communications to organisational governance and project development. These tools allow users to learn from best practice, while sharing their own examples so conservationists around the world can learn from each other, ultimately helping to address the complex conservation challenges faced today.

Dr Hazell Shokellu Thompson, BirdLife International’s Interim Chief Executive said, “many organisations within the BirdLife Partnership are seeking to become an even stronger force for nature conservation, both nationally and internationally. I believe that capacityforconservation.org is a fantastic platform to help BirdLife Partners to continue to develop and grow, and achieve their organisational goals.”

Two hundred and forty people have already registered on the website, logging on from 103 countries, from Antigua to Zimbabwe. Resources are available in 18 languages, with more being added by users, and work is underway to translate the site into Spanish, Portuguese and Italian.

Capacityforconservation.org was created by with support from the Cambridge Conservation Initiative, a unique collaboration between the University of Cambridge and leading internationally-focussed biodiversity conservation organisations clustered in and around Cambridge, UK.

Bahrain regime arrests human rights defender Nabeel Rajab again


This video is called Nabeel Rajab: Bahrain ‘Bought British Government’s Silence’ Over Human Rights Violations.

From AFP news agency:

October 1, 2014 7:45pm

Bahrain detains top activist over ‘insulting’ tweets

Bahraini police on Wednesday detained prominent rights activist Nabil Rajab after questioning him over remarks posted on Twitter deemed offensive to the security forces, the interior ministry said.

Rajab acknowledged during questioning that he was responsible for the remarks posted on his Twitter account, and “legal measures have been taken to refer him to the general prosecution”, a ministry statement said.

It said Rajab “insulted official bodies in his tweets”.

In one tweet posted on Sunday, Rajab charged that Bahrainis allegedly joining Islamist extremists in Syria were originally members of the Sunni-ruled kingdom’s security forces.

“Many #Bahrain men who joined #terrorism & #ISIS came from security institutions and those institutions were the first ideological incubator,” he wrote, referring to one acronym for the Islamic State jihadist group.

Rajab, who heads the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights, was released in May after serving two years in jail for participating in unauthorised protests.

The vocal activist had led anti-government protests following a crackdown on Shiite-led demonstrations against the Al-Khalifa ruling family in March 2011.

See also here.

Bahrain’s Prominent Human Rights Activist Arrested for Criticizing Police Defectors Who Joined ISIS: here.

We, the staff and Advisory Board members of the Gulf Center for Human Rights (GCHR), call for the immediate release of our colleague Nabeel Rajab, GCHR Director, who has been arrested today in Manama. Rajab, who is also President of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR) and Deputy Secretary General of the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), returned home from Europe last night, 30 September, after being away for a couple of months: here.

Nabeel Rajab Arbitrarily Detained. Please ask your [British] MP to support the campaign by writing to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office: here.

Media Coverage of Nabeel Rajab Arrest: here.

During his visit to Ireland in late August, Rajab spoke with Malachy Browne about his experience in a Bahraini prison, the failure of western media and governments to support human rights in the Gulf, and the challenges facing the pro-democracy movement which began in earnest in February 2011: here.