Edward Snowden’s birthday greeting to Chelsea Manning

This video from the USA says about itself:

23 August 2013

Ann Wright speaks to The Real News in an exclusive interview responding to Wikileaks Whistleblower Chelsea Manning being sentenced to 35 years in prison.

From daily The Guardian in Britain:

Edward Snowden sends birthday greeting to ‘extraordinary’ Chelsea Manning

On Manning’s 27th birthday, NSA whistleblower praises WikiLeaks source for having ‘inspired an angry public’ with her ‘extraordinary act of service’

Ed Pilkington in New York

Tuesday 16 December 2014 17.27 GMT

From one whistleblower in exile to another in military prison: a birthday greeting. Edward Snowden marks the 27th birthday of Chelsea Manning on Wednesday with a personalized message that praises the WikiLeaks source for having “inspired an angry public”.

Since he astounded the world with his NSA revelations in June 2013, Snowden’s name has perhaps inevitably been associated with that of Manning, who had similarly astounded the world with the WikiLeaks trove of state secrets three years previously. In the pantheon of contemporary US official leakers, Snowden and Manning rank supreme – they were jointly nominated for the Nobel peace prize and Snowden referred to Manning in his early interviews, as “a classic whistleblower”.

Related: Dear Chelsea Manning: birthday messages from Edward Snowden, Terry Gilliam and more

Now Snowden has offered words of comfort for Manning as she marks her fifth birthday behind bars. From his own exile in Russia, the former NSA contractor thanks Manning for her “extraordinary act of service”, regretting that “it has come with such an unbelievable personal cost”.

He writes: “You have inspired an angry public to demand a government that is accountable for its perpetration of torture and other war crimes, for the true costs of its wars, and for conspiring in corruption around the world.”

Snowden’s greetings are among a slew of birthday messages from artists, writers and activists published by the Guardian. The group variously express admiration for her act of courage and hope that, with many more years of her sentence left to run, she might find some consolation in the knowledge that she is in the thoughts of others.

As the Nobel prize-winning novelist JM Coetzee puts it: “I’m sure it is not much fun spending your birthday behind bars, but I want to let you know that there are thousands and millions of people in the wider world who are thinking of you and wishing you well.”

Michael Stipe, formerly of REM, sends a handwritten note headlined: “Hey Patriot!!” He says “A lot of friends and supporters are thinking of you today.”

Filmmaker Terry Gilliam offers a cartoon of a wobbly figure tentatively stepping onto a tightrope over a cliff with the words: “Chelsea, your bravery has shown us much to be worried about. We are deeply in your debt.”

Another handwritten letter, with accompanying sketch, comes from the artist Molly Crabapple, who attended parts of Manning’s military trial at Fort Meade last year. Crabapple laments that she was unable to thank Manning there and then, “to hell with the rules of the court”.

Fashion designer Westwood adapts a ecological slogan: “What’s good for the planet is good for Chelsea.”

Further messages come from the Swedish [sic; Icelandic] politician and activist Birgitta Jónsdóttir, philosopher Slavoj Žižek, graphic novelist Alan Moore, cartoonist Joe Sacco, rapper Lupe Fiasco, LGBT campaigner Peter Tatchell, trans author Billy Martin and poet Saul Williams.

Manning, who changed her name to Chelsea by petition in April as part of her gender transition, is serving a 35-year sentence for her transfer of massive databases of secret documents to WikiLeaks in 2010. The digital stash included videos of civilians being killed in Baghdad by a US attack helicopter, war logs from Iraq and Afghanistan that exposed the costs of America’s wars, and US embassy cables from around the world that helped instigate the Arab spring while embarrassing the Washington establishment.

Conditions in the military prison at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, where Manning is held, are considerably better than those in Quantico military base in Virginia where she was first held in solitary confinement following her arrest in Iraq. But she continues to struggle with the US military authorities to allow her access to treatment for gender dysphoria, as she described in a recent Guardian article.

Though she is not allowed to communicate by phone or in person with the media, she continues to write for the Guardian and for the website of her support group. She also receives a stream of letters from the public, many of which receive replies.

Chelsea Manning Turns 27, Gets Birthday Message from Edward Snowden: here.

NSA spying and racism

This video from London, England is called Exclusive: DN! Goes Inside Assange’s Embassy Refuge to Talk WikiLeaks, Snowden and Winning Freedom.

By Dustin Volz, National Journal, in the USA today:

‘Raghead’ Slur in Snowden Leak Prompts White House Call for Discrimination Review

On the heels of an explosive leak from Edward Snowden, the White House is pushing its intelligence agencies to review their internal policies and standards to ensure “diversity and tolerance” in its operations.

An article published Wednesday by The Intercept revealed that the National Security Agency and the FBI spied on the emails of five high-profile Muslim-Americans who were apparently guilty of no wrongdoing. One disclosed file from 2005 shows a target’s unknown name being replaced with a placeholder of “Mohammed Raghead.”

Without confirming or denying other details of the report, the White House said it has asked for an assessment of whether spy agencies are vigorous enough in their policing of potential racial or religious bias.

“As the NSA has said, the use of racial or ethnic stereotypes, slurs, or other similar language by employees is both unacceptable and inconsistent with the country’s core values,” White House spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden said in a statement. “The administration takes all such allegations extremely seriously, and upon learning of this matter, the White House immediately requested that the director of National Intelligence undertake an assessment of Intelligence Community policies, training standards or directives that promote diversity and tolerance, and as necessary, make any recommendations changes or additional reforms.”

Hayden did not offer further details about the scope or duration of the investigation, but did say that it had been initiated in direct response to The Intercept story.

The new leak has already prompted a swift backlash from a wide net of civil-rights groups led by the American Civil Liberties Union, which are seeking “a full public accounting of these practices.”

The coalition of 44 organizations sent a letter to President Obama on Wednesday asking the Justice Department to revisit and strengthen policies discussing the proper use of race by law-enforcement officials.

“While we do not know all of the facts of the individual reported cases, we believe the government has an obligation to explain the basis for its actions,” said the letter, whose signatories included Amnesty International, Free Press, and the Human Rights Watch. “Moreover, we cannot presume that the government acted without prejudice or bias. Too often, both in the past and in the present, we have observed the government engaging in patterns of discriminatory and abusive surveillance.”

A spokeswoman for the NSA said the agency “has not, and would not, approve official training documents that include insulting or inflammatory language.”

But statements from the NSA regarding its surveillance practices continue to prove unpersuasive to the agency’s critics. The Center for Constitutional Rights likened the spying on Muslim-Americans emails to the FBI’s surveillance of Martin Luther King Jr. and other civil-rights activists in the 1960s, who were viewed as radicals by the government.

Snowden documents show NSA spied on prominent Muslim-Americans: here.

NSA spying on WikiLeaks

This video from the USA is called Julian Assange on Being Placed on NSA Manhunting List & Secret Targeting of WikiLeaks Supporters 1/2.

And this video is the sequel.

By Thomas Gaist:

Leaked documents detail NSA surveillance operations against WikiLeaks

19 February 2014

Documents from whistleblower Edward Snowden show that the US National Security Agency and British GCHQ have carried out political surveillance operations targeting WikiLeaks, its founder Julian Assange and readers of the whistle-blowing web site. In addition to the US and Britain, the operations also involved the other members “of the “Five Eyes” allied countries (New Zealand, Australia and Canada).

The documents were posted by Glenn Greenwald and Ryan Gallagher on the Intercept in an extensive expose titled “Snowden Documents Reveal Covert Surveillance and Pressure Tactics Aimed at WikiLeaks and Its Supporters.” Among other things, they show that the agency has collected IP addresses of computers visiting the WikiLeaks site, considered classifying WikiLeaks as “a malicious foreign actor,” and placed Assange on an NSA “manhunting” list that included alleged Al Qaeda terrorists.

The leaked documents have further exposed as lies the claims of the Obama administration that the NSA police-state apparatus is directed against “terrorists.” In reality, the NSA is using its illegal and secret access to the internet backbone to monitor the internet activity of its political adversaries and anyone considered a threat to the interests of the American ruling class.

The government of the UK has played a major role in the targeting of the web site. The leaked documents contained information about a GCHQ program called ANTICRISIS GIRL. The program is revealed in a Power Point slide prepared by the British spy agency for the 2012 SIGDEV Conference, an annual symposium held by the surveillance bureaucracies of the major powers. Under ANTICRISIS GIRL, GCHQ has been collecting IP addresses of individual computers that visit the WikiLeaks site, allowing them to identify and surveil individuals who access WikiLeaks.

As the Intercept wrote, “GCHQ used its surveillance system to secretly monitor visitors to a WikiLeaks site. By exploiting its ability to tap into the fiber-optic cables that make up the backbone of the Internet, the agency confided to allies in 2012, it was able to collect the IP addresses of visitors in real time, as well as the search terms that visitors used to reach the site from search engines like Google.”

“Illustrating how far afield the NSA deviates from its self-proclaimed focus on terrorism and national security,” the Intercept wrote, “the documents reveal that the agency considered using its sweeping surveillance system against Pirate Bay, which has been accused of facilitating copyright violations. The agency also approved surveillance of the foreign ‘branches’ of hacktivist groups, mentioning Anonymous by name.”

It must be assumed that by tapping into Internet cables operated by powerful telecommunications companies, the US government and its allies are able to monitor virtually all Internet activity.

Claims that surveillance does not target Americans have also been further discredited by the leak. One entry from the leaked NSA documents states that it is “Okay to go after foreign servers which US people use also” saying that surveillance operators should “try to minimize” the number of American users swept up in their electronic dragnet. When data from a US user is improperly captured, the documents state, this is “nothing to worry about.”

The US government has carried out a coordinated campaign against WikiLeaks in particular, beginning with the release of the Afghanistan War Logs in July of 2010.

An NSA file titled “Manhunting Timeline” from 2010 described the maneuvers of the US as it sought to coordinate an “international effort to focus the legal element of national power upon non-state actor Assange, and the human network that supports WikiLeaks.” In August 2010, the US government pressed 10 other countries to level criminal charges against Assange, describing him as “founder of the rogue WikiLeaks internet website and responsible for the unauthorized publication of over 70,000 classified documents covering the war in Afghanistan.”

For publishing documents that exposed the war crimes of the US ruling class, Assange is now listed in this gruesomely named file, which is filled with high priority enemies of the state. The “Manhunting Timeline,” according to the Intercept, “details, on a country-by-country basis, efforts by the US government and its allies to locate, prosecute, capture or kill alleged terrorists, drug traffickers, Palestinian leaders and others.”

Baltasar Garzón, a Spanish jurist who represents WikiLeaks, said, “These documents demonstrate that the political persecution of WikiLeaks is very much alive. The paradox is that Julian Assange and the WikiLeaks organization are being treated as a threat instead of what they are: a journalist and a media organization that are exercising their fundamental right to receive and impart information in its original form, free from omission and censorship, free from partisan interests, free from economic or political pressure.”

The leaks show that the NSA has proposed listing of Assange as a “malicious foreign agent,” a move which the Intercept said “would have allowed the group to be targeted with extensive electronic surveillance—without the need to exclude US persons from surveillance searches.”

Assange is currently trapped in the Ecuadorian embassy in London. He faces the danger of being extradited to Sweden on trumped-up sex charges. An NBC report earlier this month documented the use of sex scandals and other dirty tricks to undermine targets.

ANTICRISIS GIRL is one component of Britain’s surveillance efforts. The Global Telecoms Exploitation (GTE), which plays a role in ANTICRISIS, is also involved in the expansive data mining program TEMPORA. TEMPORA collects data from the backbone of the internet, enabling the surveillance agencies to access vast amounts of private information.

As the Intercept wrote about GTE and its role within GCHQ, “Operating in the United Kingdom and from secret British eavesdropping bases in Cyprus and other countries, GCHQ conducts what it refers to as ‘passive’ surveillance—indiscriminately intercepting massive amounts of data from Internet cables, phone networks and satellites. The GTE unit focuses on developing ‘pioneering collection capabilities’ to exploit the stream of data gathered from the Internet.”

In response to the leaks, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange posted a statement online, saying that the intelligence agencies were operating above the law.

“News that the NSA planned these operations at the level of its Office of the General Counsel is especially troubling,” Assange said. “The NSA and its UK accomplices show no respect for the rule of law.”

Gus Hosein, head of the human rights organization Privacy International, similarly cited the documents as evidence of the collapse of the rule of law. “We may be tempted to see GCHQ as a rogue agency, ungoverned in its use of unprecedented powers generated by new technologies. But GCHQ’s actions are authorized by [government] ministers. The fact that ministers are ordering the monitoring of political interests of Internet users shows a systemic failure in the rule of law.”

Students elect Edward Snowden to be rector at historic university: here.

USA: Department of Homeland Security invests $6.9 million to spy on Boston commuters: here.

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Bahrain dictatorship and the USA, new evidence

Pro-democracy demonstrators in Bahrain

By Alastair Sloan, 21 hours ago:

New Wikileaks Revelation Exposes Big State Department Lie, This Time in Bahrain

John Timoney has a face like a fist and a CV out of The Departed. He’s been a cop in New York, Miami and Philadelphia. And now he’s advising the Bahraini government on policing matters.

That’s the Bahraini government, the one that gases, tortures and kills protesters as their preferred method of public order policing. And that’s Timoney, who’s been called “the worst cop in America” and faced hundreds of complaints over his violent approach to public order policing in the U.S.

The State Department has always insisted Timoney’s appointment in Bahrain has nothing to do with them. The distancing is deliberate — human rights groups are scrutinizing the repressive regime closely.

Since the Bahraini government promised reform in November 2011, dozens more have died and thousands have been injured. Many are scared to go to a hospital for fear of being arrested. Amnesty International even accuse the regime of kidnapping and torturing children.

Well, as it turns out, the State Department hasn’t been honest about their involvement in Timoney’s appointment, and by proxy, their involvement in all that police brutality.

An email has turned up on Wikileaks showing the job opportunity that Timoney eventually took when he was promoted by an American “Regional Security Officer” who was stationed at the Bahrain Embassy five months before Timoney was appointed.

The officer, an employee of the U.S. government, had just discussed Timoney’s future role with the Bahraini authorities and was sharing details about expected salary (about $300k plus benefits).

He even tells us how important Timoney’s future position will be to the U.S. government.

“This position has the interest and support of senior U.S. government policy makers, given the strategic importance of our relationship with Bahrain and recent events here. It is seen as a prime engagement opportunity with a non-NATO major ally, hence my current involvement.”

The State Department refused to comment on the leaked email, but back in 2012 officials had been pretty unequivocal when Timoney scored the job.

“This is a Bahraini Government initiative. [Timoney] is not working for or on behalf of the U.S. Government. So we’re not able to speak to what in particular he’s involved with.”

In case you’re wondering why the State Department took such a special interest in Timoney’s appointment, it’s worth remembering the U.S. 5th Naval Fleet is bobbing away in Manama harbour, a stones throw from the ongoing unrest.

The incriminating State Department email was also sent by a “Regional Security Officer.” The RSO job description on the State Department website reads:

“At U.S. embassies and consulates abroad, Regional Security Officers develop and implement the various aspects of a comprehensive security program designed to protect personnel, property, and information against terrorists, foreign intelligence agents, and criminals.”

If Bahrain was ever to fall into full on revolution mode a la Libya, Egypt or Tunisia, a rapid, expensive and risky re-location would be in order, jeopardising the fleet, potential operations in Syria, Iran or Iraq, as well as ongoing anti-piracy activities in the Indian Ocean.

Is Timoney the “worst cop in America?” I think that’s unfair, but commentators in the Guardian and the Miami New Times disagree. Crime — particularly drugs, homicide and corruption — in cities such as New York, Miami and Philadelphia dropped sharply once Timoney arrived.

The ACLU has filed seven suits against him over his policing of a major protest in Miami in 2011, accusing him of deploying excessive force and illegal tactics, but their Executive Director also said of Timoney: “He was probably one of the most professional, competent and experienced police chiefs the city of Miami ever had.” The Philadelphia Inquirer and Esquire Magazine have both praised his “street cop” approach.

But despite his abilities in criminal policing, Timoney has serious flaws when it comes to policing protests, or put another way: doing his job in Bahrain.

As a 55 year old police chief in Miami, he rode his police bike into a crowd of placard-wielding activists and started a fight with “the bigger guy.” He also stopped to yell at another group of protesters “Fuck You! You’re bad!” (not the most eloquent of cusses). Frankly bizarre behaviour for an otherwise professional cop.

In January 2012, he casually dismissed the Occupy movement as an irritating traffic problem, an argument that’s since been used to justify violent dispersal of protests in Bahrain.

Bahrain uses teargas indiscriminately, and even more so since Timoney arrived. Rather than its conventional application as a crowd dispersal tool, policemen have started using it as a weapon. Officers have entered opposition villages at night and fired canisters into sleeping households. Over 30 deaths have occurred due to misuse of teargas.

But Timoney loves teargas. He loves it so much that in 1994 he voluntarily teargassed himself to demonstrate to civil liberties groups that it was better than knocking someone over the head.

Timoney isn’t the only Westerner advising the Bahrain government. John Yates, an ex-Deputy Commissioner at London Metropolitan Police, is also providing consultancy services. Both Yates and Timoney were appointed in December 2011.

Similar to the State Department’s initial stance on Timoney’s position, the U.K. Foreign and Commonwealth Office has denied anything to do with his appointment. And if they are lying, as the State Department clearly was, it wouldn’t be the first time.

Colonel Ian Henderson CBE, who worked as a security adviser to the Bahrain government for 30 years, was accused of complicity in torture during the ’90s, leading to an investigation by British authorities in 2000. The investigation was concluded in August 2001, and no charges were filed. Henderson died at age 86 in April last year still denying he had anything to do with the torture dungeons his offices were just four storeys above.

The British government had always denied their involvement in his appointment until Scottish investigative journalist Ian McKay uncovered secret Foreign Office documents showing how senior British diplomats had persuaded the ruling Sheikh Khalifa (the current Sheikh’s father) to appoint Henderson and allow him to establish the brutal state security apparatus which is still largely in use today.

In a statement to PolicyMic, the U.K. Foreign and Commonwealth Office maintained their position despite the U.S. State Department leak, but did admit that the Embassy had met with John Yates, as part of their policy to meet those “who are assisting the Bahraini Government with their reforms.”

John Horne, a researcher with Bahrain Watch and the man who unearthed the incriminating email, told PolicyMic:

“It is hard to see what John Timoney has achieved in Bahrain beyond a healthy bank balance. After two years, torturers still torture, police still use excessive force, citizens still suffer collective punishment from tear gas, and the security forces still act with impunity.”

John Timoney has not responded to a request for comment.

Religion and Politics in Bahrain criticized the Royal Court’s failure to conduct a productive National Dialogue saying: “The Royal Court has as usual insinuated itself into the process in order to sabotage it from within.” The United Kingdom’s House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee also expressed concerns over Bahrain’s failure to, “quickly implement the important and practical recommendations of the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry” through its National Dialogue: here.

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