United States secret court rubber stamps NSA spying


This video from the USA says about itself:

What is the FISA Court?

12 June 2013

Thom Hartmann talks with Shahid Buttar, Executive Director-Bill of Rights Defense Committee & civil rights attorney about the FISA Court and its role in surveillance in America.

From the New York Daily News in the USA:

U.S. spy court rejects zero out of 1,457 applications for surveillance in 2015

REUTERS

Updated: Saturday, April 30, 2016, 3:27 AM

The secretive U.S. Foreign Surveillance Intelligence Court did not deny a single government request in 2015 for electronic surveillance orders granted for foreign intelligence purposes, continuing a longstanding trend, a Justice Department document showed.

The court received 1,457 requests last year on behalf of the National Security Agency and the Federal Bureau of Investigation for authority to intercept communications, including email and phone calls, according to a Justice Department memo sent to leaders of relevant congressional committees on Friday and seen by Reuters.

The court did not reject any of the applications in whole or in part, the memo showed.

The total represented a slight uptick from 2014, when the court received 1,379 applications and rejected none.

The court, which acts behind closed doors, was established in 1978 to handle applications for surveillance warrants against foreign suspects by U.S. law enforcement and intelligence agencies and grew more controversial after 2013 leaks by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.

The electronic surveillance often is conducted with the assistance of Internet and telecommunications companies.

Civil liberties advocates have long derided the court for acting as a “rubber stamp” for government surveillance operations.

The memo also stated that 48,642 national security letter (NSL) requests were made in 2015 by the FBI.

NSLs are a type of subpoena authority used to compel Internet and telecommunications firms to hand over customer data, such as web browsing history, email addresses and subscriber information.

One NSL often contains multiple requests for information, such as a sequence of emails believed relevant to an investigation.

The majority of NSL requests, 31,863, made in 2015 sought information on foreigners, regarding a total of 2,053 individuals, the memo stated.

The FBI made 9,418 requests for national security letters in 2015 for information about U.S. citizens and legal immigrants, regarding a total of 3,746 individuals, it showed.

The FBI also made 7,361 NSL requests for only “subscriber information,” typically names, addresses and billing records, of Americans and foreigners regarding 3,347 different people.

National security letters have been available as a law enforcement tool since the 1970s, but their frequency and breadth expanded dramatically under the USA Patriot Act enacted shortly after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the United States.

They are almost always accompanied by an open-ended gag order issued by the Justice Department barring companies from disclosing the contents of the demand for customer data.

The government also made 142 applications to the surveillance court for access to business records, and it did not deny any of those requests, according to the memo.

Clerical sexual abuse in the Netherlands cover-up


This video from the USA says about itself:

Catholic Church’s systematic abuse cover-up in the USA

16 November 2014

The Pope played a leading role in a systematic cover-up of child sex abuse by Roman Catholic priests.

Translated from NOS TV in the Netherlands:

“Deetman intimidated abuse victims to prevent investigation by parliament”

Today, 00:53

Wim Deetman has intimidated board members of an organization that stands up for victims of sexual abuse in the Catholic Church to prevent a parliamentary inquiry. This reports Argos radio.

Deetman was chairman of the commission of inquiry into abuse in the church.

The commission was set up by the Roman Catholic Church in the Netherlands. Wim Deetman is a Christian Democrat Appeal party politician.

In December the final report of the Deetman commission was published. It showed that tens of thousands of children were abused between 1945 and 1981 at Catholic seminaries and boarding schools.

Compelling way

A few months later, four members of the victims’ organization KLOKK had a conversation with Deetman. He asked the four people “with binding effect” not to ask for a parliamentary investigation.

A parliamentary inquiry was initially a mandatory requirement by the victims. Two weeks before the meeting KLOKK wrote that there was “every reason” to urge a parliamentary investigation.

Emails

However, the board members gave in to the request by Deetman. Board member Annemie Knibbe: “Deetman actually wanted to force us to do no parliamentary inquiry”. Argos also says it has emails showing that Deetman had already long before pressured KLOKK to abandon the requirement for a parliamentary investigation.

Deetman said to have threatened to stop investigating if KLOKK survivors would keep insisting on parliamentary inquiry: here.

Kunduz, Afghanistan hospital bombing impunity update


Kunduz hospital after the bombing, AFP photo

From Doctors Without Borders/MSF:

Kunduz: Initial reaction to public release of U.S. military investigative report on the attack on MSF trauma hospital

29 April 2016

NEW YORK, APRIL 29, 2016 — The United States military today released its investigative report on the attack on the Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) trauma hospital in Kunduz, Afghanistan on 3 October 2015. The attack killed 42 people, including 14 MSF staff members, and wounded dozens more. …

MSF acknowledges the U.S. military’s efforts to conduct an investigation into the incident. Today, MSF and other medical care providers on the front lines of armed conflicts continually experience attacks on health facilities that go un-investigated by parties to the conflict. However, MSF has said consistently that it cannot be satisfied solely with a military investigation into the Kunduz attack. MSF’s request for an independent and impartial investigation by the International Humanitarian Fact Finding Commission has so far gone unanswered.

“Today’s briefing amounts to an admission of an uncontrolled military operation in a densely populated urban area, during which U.S. forces failed to follow the basic laws of war,” said Meinie Nicolai, MSF President. “It is incomprehensible that, under the circumstances described by the U.S., the attack was not called off.”

The hospital was fully functioning at the time of the airstrikes. The U.S. investigation acknowledges that there were no armed combatants within – and no fire from – the hospital compound.

“The threshold that must be crossed for this deadly incident to amount to a grave breach of international humanitarian law is not whether it was intentional or not,” said Nicolai. “With multinational coalitions fighting with different rules of engagement across a wide spectrum of wars today, whether in Afghanistan, Syria, or Yemen, armed groups cannot escape their responsibilities on the battlefield simply by ruling out the intent to attack a protected structure such as a hospital.”

The nature of the deadly bombing of the MSF Kunduz Trauma Centre, and the recurring attacks on medical facilities in Afghanistan, demand from all parties to the conflict a clear reaffirmation of the protected status of medical care in the country. MSF must obtain these necessary assurances in Afghanistan before making any decision on if it is safe to re-start medical activities in Kunduz.

“We can’t put our teams – including our colleagues who survived the traumatic attack – back to work in Kunduz without first having strong and unambiguous assurances from all parties to the conflict in Afghanistan that this will not happen again,” said Nicolai. “We need explicit agreement from all parties to the conflict, including the Afghan authorities and the U.S. military, that there will be no military interference or use of force against MSF medical facilities, personnel, patients and ambulances. Equally, we must be assured that MSF staff can safely provide medical care based solely on medical needs, without discrimination, and regardless of their religious, political or military affiliations. Every day that passes without securing these assurances adds to the death toll from the attack, given the loss of lifesaving medical services to people in the region.”

The administrative punishments announced by the U.S. today are out of proportion to the destruction of a protected medical facility, the deaths of 42 people, the wounding of dozens of others, and the total loss of vital medical services to hundreds of thousands of people. The lack of meaningful accountability sends a worrying signal to warring parties, and is unlikely to act as a deterrent against future violations of the rules of war.

At the same time, it has become clear that the victims and their families have neither the option to pursue legal action against the U.S. military, either in Afghanistan or in the US, nor to claim compensation for loss of life and livelihood. This has only compounded the devastation of the attack.

Impunity for Kunduz, Afghanistan hospital bombing


Kunduz, Afghanistan hospital after the bombing, photo Najim Rahim / AFP

Translated from NOS TV in the Netherlands:

No prosecution for United States attack on MSF clinic

Today, 18:28

The American soldiers who were involved in an attack on a Doctors Without Borders/MSF hospital in Afghanistan will not be prosecuted. They will only be disciplined by the military, the Pentagon announced. During the attack last October, 42 people were killed. …

Inexcusable

Injured people and relatives of killed people have reacted angrily to the US decision not to prosecute the soldiers involved. Zabibullah Neyazi, a nurse who lost his left arm, an eye and a finger of his right hand, told Associated Press he thought the attack was “inexcusable.” He said he and other victims want justice.

Only administrative penalties are insufficient according to Neyazi. “There should be a trial in Afghanistan, in our presence, in the presence of the families of the victims, to be just to them.”

Dutch video on World War II anti-nazi resistance


This Dutch amateur video was made in June 1943, in the Evertsbos forest near Anloo village in Drenthe province in the Netherlands. Resistance fighters against the German nazi occupation then built a hut there to hide from the occupiers.

In September 1944, German occupation soldiers discovered the hide. Five of eight anti-nazis present there managed to escape; three people were caught and executed.

In April 2016, just before the liberation of Drenthe, the nazis killed ten resistance fighters at the hide.

This Dutch video is about that history.

Dutch government wants spying on all citizens


This video says about itself:

Orwell’s 1984 a fairytale compared to reality’: Snowden delivers Xmas message

25 December 2013

NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden has delivered his ‘Alternative Christmas Message’ via a British TV channel. The whistleblower called for an end to mass spying by governments, stating that a child born today will have “no conception of privacy.” Read more here.

Translated from NOS TV in the Netherlands:

New ‘snooping law’: Anyone can be hacked

Today, 02:48

The Dutch secret services will be able to hack also innocent civilians with a new law, if they can reach their targets in this way. This is clear from the text of the new Law on Intelligence and Security. The Volkskrant daily has found the not yet disclosed legal text and has shared it with the NOS. …

Interestingly, the government had asked the Privacy and Identity Lab, a collaboration of two universities and TNO, for research into the new law, but it has ignored their advice on that issue. The P. I. Lab writes that hacking “citizens who are not suspects of any crime” goes too far. The study talks about “unacceptable privacy risks.”

Although the government acknowledges that these are powers violating civil rights, they still go ahead with their plans. ….

Civil rights organization Bits of Freedom, which has analyzed the law, does not like it. “Someone has not done anything, but suddenly the secret services do invade his device,” said Ton Siedsma of that organization. It can involve smartphones, tablets or laptops, but also new types of smart devices such as watches, refrigerators and cars.

Mass surveillance

Also the power of large-scale surveillance remains in the new law largely unchanged in spite of criticism by Amnesty International, the Board for the Protection of Human Rights and businesses. Two weeks ago, the government still said it would satisfy the concerns. ….

The legal text shows that the AIVD and its military counterpart, MIVD, may still do mass surveillance extensively. …

It is clear from the explanation of the new law that the coming years there will come a snooping network with four major locations. The government will pay the cost of this mass surveillance, 15 million next year to 35 million in 2019. …

The government, of course, will pay these new costs of spying with taxpayers’ money. Meaning the overwhelmingly non-criminal taxpayers will pay to destroy their own privacy. Dutch taxpayers, of course, do not include the millionaires and billionaires whose money is in offshore tax havens with a little help of the Panama PapersMossack Fonseca or similar tax dodging enablers.

The Dutch secret services with this law will be able to cooperate better with other secret services, says the government.

Critics fear effects on privacy. Thus, opposition party D66 is afraid of a dragnet. Telecom companies also reacted critically, as do business organisations SME Netherlands and VNO-NCW.