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Mass Murder in Gaza and Ukraine

sjlendman.blogspot.com - Tue, 12/08/2014 - 02:57
Mass Murder in Gaza and Ukraine
by Stephen Lendman
Washington bears responsibility for supporting Israel's genocidal war in Gaza and backing Kiev fascist forces against Southeastern Ukrainian freedom fighters.
Committing high crimes against peace is official US policy. So is partnering with rogue state allies doing the same thing.
Israel is a lawless, racist, apartheid terror state. Its Operation Protective Edge Gaza war is one of history's great crimes.
Another 72-hour ceasefire sham changes nothing. It bears repeating what previous articles stressed.
Israel is all take and no give. It demands unconditional acceptance of terms favoring its interests. It offers virtually nothing in return.
When concessions are made, they're not worth the paper they're written on. Multiple violations occur straightaway. Hellish status quo conditions remain.
Gaza is still besieged. Palestine remains occupied. Land theft continues. So do the worst of overall nightmarish conditions. 
No relief is in sight. Long denied justice prevails. Last week, Israeli negotiators walked out of Cairo talks. On Monday they returned.
A sham process certain to fail resumed. Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said new talks are "the last chance" for a deal.
Egypt's Foreign Ministry issued a statement Sunday. It urged "both sides to exploit this truce to resume indirect negotiations immediately and work towards a comprehensive and lasting ceasefire agreement."
Palestinian delegation head, Azzam Ahmed, said unless Israel participated in good faith without preconditions, his delegation would leave Cairo.
Hamas and other Palestinian resistance groups want Israel's siege unconditionally ended. They want political prisoners released. They include PA legislators incarcerated for not being subservient to Israeli interests.
Palestinians want unrestricted movement of people and goods, a seaport to facilitate imports and exports, fishing zones extended, and control over their borders, coastline, air space and resources.
They want long denied fundamental freedoms. Israel categorically refuses to provide them.
It wants Gaza demilitarized, control over people and goods entering and exiting Gaza, international oversight over construction materials, and PA security forces controlling Gaza and international donor money.
Both sides are locked in impasse. Nothing suggests current talks will change things. 
Washington and other Western countries support Israel. The international community is unresponsive to fundamental Palestinian demands. Expect no substantive change ahead.
Yaakov Perry formerly headed Israel's Shin Bet security service. He's a Knesset member science, technology and space minister.
He recommends regional talks involving Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states. His goal is ending the longstanding "Israeli - Arab dispute."
"Inside this framework, (he believes) it will be easier to deal with (the) Palestinians on bilateral negotiations, which have failed."
He suggests an "Arab Peace Initiative" will fare better. At the same time, Israel won't accept fundamental concessions. 
They include unconditionally lifting Gaza's siege, withdrawing from occupied territories, permitting diaspora Palestinians to return, accepting East Jerusalem as Palestine's exclusive capital, and letting Palestinians control their resources, borders, air space and coastal waters within 22% of historic Palestine.
Despite little chance for success, Perry believes "the time has come for Israel to recognize the importance of (change), declare its readiness to begin a discussion on the initiative and take steps to leverage it for local and regional strategic advantages."
For now, both sides remain at impasse. Nothing suggests substantive change. Expect Cairo talks to fail regardless of rhetoric following their conclusion.
Palestinians remain isolated on their own. They have little hope for long denied justice any time in the foreseeable future. Believing otherwise is foolhardy fantasy.
The only good news is a temporary halt in Israeli mass murder and destruction. For how long remains to be seen. 
Terrorizing West Bank Palestinians continues unabated. The latest incident occurred overnight Sunday. Israeli forces murdered 24-year old Zakariyya Mousa Dawood al-Aqra in cold blood.
They attacked his three-story building with heavy gunfire and grenades. At least eight other residents were injured. They included women and children.
Bulldozers destroyed part of the structure before Israeli forces entered. They murdered al-Aqra inside. He never had a chance.
He was a prominent activist. He faced uncorroborated charges of injuring an Israeli soldier. Official Israeli policy is shoot first, ask questions later. 
Deaths and injuries result. Longstanding injustice remains unchanged.
Israel repeatedly accuses Hamas and other resistance groups of using Gazan civilians as human shields. The accusation is ludicrous on its face. 
No evidence whatever corroborates it. None exists. Major media scoundrels regurgitate Israeli lies irresponsibly.
In contrast, Israel has a long history of using Palestinians as human shields. Documented evidence proves it even though Israel's High Court banned the practice on October 5, 2005.
In July 2008, the Al Mezan Center for Human Rights released a report titled "Hiding behind civilians: The continued use of Palestinian civilians as human shields by the Israeli Occupation Forces."
The practice is considered a crime or war and against humanity. It's longstanding Israeli practice. MSM scoundrels report nothing on it despite its widespread use.
One Palestinian woman described her experience. It reflects what many other Palestinian men, women and children endured.
"They handcuffed and blindfolded me," she said. Then, they forced us to move out of the room, pushing me with their hands and guns to move although I was blindfolded and pregnant." 
"I heard them pushing others to hurry up as well. I got exhausted and fell down many times." 
"I told them that I was four months pregnant and couldn't continue but a soldier threatened to shoot me."
Other Palestinians related similar incidents. Tragedy sometimes followed. Israel and America are the world's greatest human rights abusers.
They violate the fundamental right to life, liberty and security of person. They're mindless of rule of law principles. Their entire history reflects lawlessness.
Fourth Geneva protects civilians in times of war. Hostage taking is strictly prohibited. Israel does it unaccountably. It puts Palestinian civilians willfully in harm's way.
It did so during Operation Protective Edge. Clear testimonial evidence proves it. 
Ramadan Muhammad Qdeih is one of many Israeli victims. Soldiers stormed his home. 
Sixty family members took refuge in the basement for safety. Israel forced them to act as human shields.
First, they murdered Qdeih's aging father in cold blood. Then they forcibly positioned family members (including children) at windows.
They used them as human shields. They fired from behind them at targets.
"They ordered us to take off our clothes and tied our hands up," said Qdeih. "They took us to one of the rooms and used us as shields, making us stand at the windows as if we were looking outside." 
"I was at one window and three children from my family at another. The soldiers then began firing around us."
For around eight hours, they were denied food and water. Their hands were bound behind their backs. They were moved from one room to another. Incoming fire could have killed or wounded them.
Seventeen-year old Ahmad Jamal Abu Reeda recounted his experience. Israeli soldiers restrained him.
They interrogated and beat him. They threatened to kill him. They ordered him to walk ahead of them at gunpoint.
Police dogs accompanied them. They searched houses and other buildings. Israel used him as a human shield for five days. He was lucky to survive the ordeal.
During Operation Cast Lead (2008-09), using Palestinians as human shields was standard Israeli practice. It repeated throughout Operation Protective Edge. 
Media scoundrels report nothing. Failure to hold Israel accountable permits this practice, torture, mass murder and destruction.
Rogue states operate this way. America and Israel commit the worst of high crimes against peace and then some. The pattern repeats with disturbing regularity.
Conditions in Southeastern Ukraine remain dire. Fierce fighting around Donetsk and Lugansk rages. Non-combatant men, women and children are targeted. 
Donetsk's main hospital was shelled for the second time in recent days. Last week, dental and pediatric wings were struck. At least one death resulted. 
On Sunday, explosions rocked a maternity ward. Tragedy was averted because expectant mothers were moved to basement locations the night before.
Thousands of residents are fleeing. They seek shelter in temporary Russian settlements. Hundreds of centers were set up to accommodate them.
Since January, tens of thousands were internally displaced. Around 730,000 Ukrainians sought refuge in Russia. Numbers fleeing conflict conditions increase daily.
Fascist Kiev forces vow to control Southeastern Ukrainian conflict areas building by building. In the meantime, heavy shelling continues. Civilians are affected most.
A potential environmental disaster looms. Heavy shelling in Donetsk region nearly hit its largest chemical plant, Stirol. It produces lethal agents.
On Sunday, plant spokesman Pavel Brykov said "(d)ue to the irresponsible actions of the Ukrainian army, citizens of Ukraine, Russia, and Belarus are exposed to a deadly threat from an ecological disaster on a daily basis, the size of which cannot be predicted."
A shelling incident could cause a toxic nitrochlorobenzene leak. If ingested, it harms the liver, heart and bone marrow causing death.
Western and Ukrainian media suppress information about a potential disaster this grave. 
Kiev forces are going all-out to crush Southeastern Ukrainian freedom fighting resistance. Heavy ground and air weapons target residential areas. 
They're fired indiscriminately. Numerous civilian deaths and injuries follow. A potential chemical catastrophe heightens the overall risk to many thousands of residents.
MSM reports turn truth on its head. They portray fascist Kiev killers as liberators. Freedom fighting Ukrainians are falsely called pro-Russian separatists. 
New York Times misreporting is typical. On August 10, it headlined "Ukraine Steps Up Assault of Rebel City," saying:
"Ukraine pressed ahead on Sunday with its military assault to stamp out pro-Russian separatists in the east of the country with its most intensive artillery bombardment of this rebel capital yet."
"The attack with artillery and ground-to-ground rockets defied Russian threats to intervene."
Fact: It bears repeating. Ukrainian freedom fighters aren't separatists or terrorists.
Fact: They reject Kiev fascists.
Fact: They want real democracy.
Fact: They're risking life and limb for it.
Fact: No evidence whatever suggests Russian intervention.
Fact: The Times lied claiming otherwise.
Fact: So do all other MSM scoundrels.
Fact: Speaking truth to power isn't their mandate.
Fact: Supporting wealth, power and privilege comes first.
Humanitarian aid is vitally needed. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov calls delivering it "a pressing issue that admits of no delay."
"This issue is under control of the Russian president," he said. "We hope we will be able to agree (on) relief aid deliveries to those who need them as soon as possible."
"Now, our top priority task is to agree on urgent humanitarian aid to the Lugansk and Donetsk regions with the Ukrainian side, with the International Committee of the Red Cross and with international humanitarian organizations within the United Nations system."
So far, aid has not been forthcoming. According to Putin spokesman Dmitry Peskov:
"As soon as we agree and if we agree on all conditions and nuances, then, naturally, the aid will follow immediately, because the tragic humanitarian situation in the region requires an immediate response."
Last week, Russia offered to send an international humanitarian mission with Moscow-supplied aid.
The International Committee of the Red Cross welcomed Russia's proposal.
Washington and rogue Western allies rejected it. They want aid delivered only with Kiev's consent. Otherwise they call doing so "unjustified and illegal."
A humanitarian catastrophe looms. Vital aid is needed. So far, Kiev wants it denied. 
Washington wants unnecessary pain and suffering to continue. It's longstanding US policy in its war against peace, equity and justice.
In collusion with Kiev, it wants Southeastern Ukrainian freedom fighters ending their liberating struggle unconditionally.
In the meantime, horrific conditions worsen. Lugansk has no running water or electricity. Hospitals are short of supplies.
Donetsk lacks enough vital to life supplies. A major assault on the city looms. A population of nearly one million is affected.
Last week, Alexander Zakharchenko replaced Alexander Borodai as Donetsk People's Republic (DPR) head.
He warned of a potential catastrophe if Kiev forces stormed the city. He urged both sides observe a ceasefire to avoid one.
Kiev fascists rejected his request. They demand unconditional surrender. It bears repeating. They want freedom fighting resistance crushed.
Uberhawk UN envoy Samantha Power disgraces the office she holds. Her principles are reprehensible and then some.
She blamed Russia irresponsibly for US and Kiev crimes.
She lied saying "any further unilateral intervention by Russia into Ukrainian territory, including one under the guise of providing humanitarian aid, would be completely unacceptable and deeply alarming, and it would be viewed as an invasion of Ukraine.”
Fact: Russia didn't invade Ukraine.
Fact: No evidence suggests any intention to do so.
Fact: Power and other US administration officials know it.
Fact: They lie claiming otherwise.
Fact: Russia wants Ukrainian conflict conditions settled equitably.
Fact: Washington, its rogue European allies and Kiev fascists want conflict continued until all freedom fighting resistance is crushed.
Fact: Deplorable humanitarian conditions threaten to worsen. 
Fact: Hundreds of thousands of civilian men, women and children are affected.
Fact: So far, no relief is in sight.
Fact: Denying it is official US policy.
It bears repeating. Rogue states operate this way.  America and Israel commit the worst of high crimes against peace and then some. The pattern repeats with disturbing regularity.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. 
His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."
http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanIII.html
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. 
Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.
It airs three times weekly: live on Sundays at 1PM Central time plus two prerecorded archived programs. 

http://www.progressiveradionetwork.com/the-progressive-news-hour 

Israel Murders Gazan Health Workers

sjlendman.blogspot.com - Mon, 11/08/2014 - 01:52
Israel Murders Gazan Health Workers
by Stephen Lendman
Israel wages genocidal wars without mercy. Even doctors, nurses, ambulance drivers and other health workers are targeted.
Civilians are as vulnerable as combatants. It's longstanding Israeli policy.
On August 7, Amnesty International (AI) headlined "Mounting Evidence of deliberate attacks on Gaza health workers by Israeli army."
Former prime minister Ehud Barak once outrageously called it "the most moral army in the world." It's a lawless, ruthless killing machine.
As a former prime minister, defense minister, foreign minister, and chief of general staff, Barak was complicit in some of its worst crimes of war, against humanity and genocide.
Morality is not part of its mandate. Mass slaughter and destruction are prioritized.
AI urges an immediate investigation of Israeli war crimes. Disturbing testimonies alone from doctors, nurses and ambulance personnel reveal a snapshot of overall Israeli ruthlessness.
According to AI's North Africa Director, Philip Luther:
"The harrowing descriptions by ambulance drivers and other medics of the utterly impossible situation in which they have to work, with bombs and bullets killing or injuring their colleagues as they try to save lives, paint a grim reality of life in Gaza."
"Even more alarming is the mounting evidence that the Israeli army has targeted health facilities or professionals." 
"Such attacks are absolutely prohibited by international law and would amount to war crimes. They only add to the already compelling argument that the situation should be referred to the International Criminal Court."
Throughout Operation Protective Edge, medical workers were targeted, murdered or injured.
Others were prevented from reaching wounded Palestinians to rush them for treatment.
Jaber Khalil Abu Rumileh supervises Al-Aqsa Martyrs Hospital ambulance services. He described one Israeli shelling attack on his facility as follows:
"It was 3pm and I was working in the emergency unit. I heard bombing that shook the hospital. It was a shelling that had hit the fourth floor, the pregnancy and caesarean unit." 
"Then there were a few more hits. People were terrified. Patients ran out. Doctors could not enter to help the injured and remove the dead."
"Then the third floor was hit and four people were killed. I saw one women come running with the child she just gave birth to. Some women gave birth during the shelling."
Ambulance driver Mohammad Abu Jumiza is one of many Palestinian victims.
"We were on our way back to Nasser hospital, driving with the lights and sirens on as always," he said. "The ambulance was clearly marked as such."
"The doctor, nurse and I were all wearing medical uniforms. When we reached the Islamic University I heard an explosion right next to us and the front and back windows of the car fell out." 
"As I was turning another missile hit next to us, and then a third one. When the fourth missile hit, I lost control and we crashed." 
"So we ran out of the car and found shelter in a building. Then there were two more missiles fired and some people were injured."
According to the Palestinian Red Crescent Society (PRCS), at least two of its ambulance workers were killed. At least another 35 injured.
Seventeen health vehicles were damaged or destroyed by Israeli attacks.
"Our ambulances are often targeted although they are clearly marked and display all signs that they are ambulances," said PRCS. 
"The army should be able to distinguish from the air that what they targeting are ambulances." They know precisely what they're targeting.
Israel shot ambulance worker Mohammad Al-Abadlah multiple times. He bled to death.
He was traveling in a clearly marked ambulance wearing his medical uniform. Colleagues trying to help him were also shot.
Overall conditions in Gaza are catastrophic:
  • entire neighborhoods destroyed or damaged;

  • entire families murdered in cold blood;

  • according to UN officials, around 450 Palestinian children killed;

  • the official Palestinian death toll tops 1,900.

  • with many bodies under rubble to be found and fatalities from grave injuries ahead, a more accurate figure easily tops 2,000;

  • as many as 10,000 wounded; some too gravely to save;

  • no power;

  • inadequate water, food, essential drugs and medical equipment; and

  • impossible to understand nightmarish human misery beyond comprehension except for Palestinians experiencing it.

Fact: Israel continues committing one of history's great crimes.
Fact: Palestinian deaths and injuries mount.
Fact: No end of conflict looms.
Fact: The world community yawns and does nothing to help beleaguered Palestinians.
Fact: Washington fully supports Israel's killing machine.
Fact: US tax dollars pay for death, destruction and human misery.
Fact: A war on truth accompanies hot war.
Fact: Non-combatant civilians suffer most.
Fact: The vast majority of Gazan victims are civilian men, women, children, infants, the elderly and infirm.
Fact: Israel considers them legitimate targets.
Fact: Cold-blooded mass murder and destruction reflect official Israeli policy.
Fact: Where things end, who knows!
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. 
His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."
http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanIII.html
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. 
Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.
It airs three times weekly: live on Sundays at 1PM Central time plus two prerecorded archived programs. 

http://www.progressiveradionetwork.com/the-progressive-news-hour 

Waging Genocidal War on Humanity

sjlendman.blogspot.com - Sun, 10/08/2014 - 23:11
Waging Genocidal War on Humanity
by Stephen Lendman
Doing so constitutes longstanding US and Israeli policy. The indisputable record speaks for itself.
Besides its genocidal native population genocide, every US post-WW II war was waged lawlessly. 
So were all Israeli wars throughout its existence except for the 1973 Yom Kippur conflict.
Both nations prioritize violence and instability. They deplore peace. It's a non-starter. 
Civilians are considered legitimate targets. Mass murder, destruction and genocide follow. The disturbing pattern repeats unaccountably.
Both countries partner in horrendous crimes against humanity. The world community yawns and does nothing to stop them. 
Millions are slaughtered in cold blood. Unspeakable human misery follows. Western media scoundrels support what demands condemnation.
Big Fat Lies substitute for truth and full disclosure. No two nations have a more deplorable human rights record. 
None more egregiously violate international laws, norms and standards. None more repeatedly get away with mass murder, destruction and genocide.
None have less right to call themselves democracies. None are more guilty of virtually every crime imaginable and then some.
None more gravely threaten humanity's survival. Both countries are unfit and unsafe to live in. None more egregiously mock the values they claim to support.
State terrorism defines their agenda. That's how police states operate.
Each country's war on terror is a war of terror against largely defenseless populations. Each operates extrajudicially. Laws are for other nations, not them.
Each has no enemies except ones they invent. It bears repeating. The disturbing pattern repeats ad nauseam. 
The end game may be humanity's destruction. The world community able to stop this madness does nothing. 
Israel's genocidal war on Palestine continues. Up to 80% or more willfully targeted are non-combatant men, women, children, infants, the elderly and infirm.
Every attack on every target was deliberate. None accidental. Israel considers UN refuges, hospitals, schools, mosques, and vital civilian infrastructure fair game.
Lawless collective punishment is official Israeli policy. Every square inch of Gaza is unsafe. 
The entire territory is vulnerable to deliberate, malicious attacks by land, air and sea any time for any reason or none at all.
Israel is the aggressor. All Palestinians the victims. Israel calls genocidal slaughter self-defense. It calls legitimate Palestinian self-defense terrorism.
Days earlier conflict resolution Cairo talks were dead on arrival. Israel is all take and no give. Agreements when made are systematically violated with impunity.
After Israel's November Pillar of Cloud aggression, Egypt under then President Mohamed Morsi negotiated ceasefire terms.
Israel agreed to halt all Gaza hostilities. They included land, air and sea attacks as well as targeted assassinations.
Hamas and other Palestinian resistance groups agreed to stop rocket and other hostile actions.
Israel agreed to open border crossings and facilitate movements of people and goods.
Egypt got assurances from both sides to abide by agreed on terms.
They committed themselves to no breaches henceforth. Hamas stuck to the letter of the deal. Israel violated it straightaway.
It bears repeating. All Israeli agreements aren't worth the paper they're written on. They're worthless, meaningless.
All are violated egregiously. Since December 2012 to before Israel's current Operation Protective Edge aggression, multiple violations occurred daily.
Palestinian civilians are the main victims every time. Israel deliberately targets them. They're slaughtered in cold blood. 
Israel outrageously claims self-defense against non-combatants posing no threat whatever. It blames Palestinians for its high crimes against peace.
Following dead on arrival Cairo talks, Netanyahu vowed Operation Protective Edge would continue.
On Saturday, Israel struck over two dozen targets. Many others on Friday. More Palestinians died, including children.
Israeli negotiators left Cairo. Sham talks ended. No concessions whatever were made. None were expected.
Palestinian delegation head, Azzam Ahmed, said unless Israel resumed conflict resolution talks, his team would return home.
It bears repeating. Palestine's good faith effort was dead on arrival. Resuming talks will change nothing. 
Israel demands all its terms be accepted unconditionally. It offers virtually nothing in return. 
It fundamentally refuses to give Palestinians what they most want - long denied justice.
Nonexistent world community pressure with teeth alone can change things. Palestinians remain isolated on their own.
Conflict without end continues. Netanyahu said it "will take time. No one announced its termination."
"The campaign will continue until the mission is completed - an extended period of quiet in the South."
"Israel will continue to act in any way (necessary). Hamas won't wear us down, and we will not negotiate under fire."
Fact: Israel never negotiates.
Fact: It demands unconditionally.
Fact: It offers virtually nothing in return.
Fact: It wages continued war without mercy on near defenseless Palestinians.
Fact: Virtually every time conflict erupts, Israel is the aggressor.
Facts: Palestinians are the victims.
Fact: Israel terrorizes West Back communities multiple times daily.
Fact: It incarcerates thousands of Palestinian political prisoners under horrendous gulag conditions.
Fact: Torture is official Israeli policy.
Fact: So is permanent war on Palestine.
Fact: Non-combatant civilians are considered legitimate targets.
Fact: Slow-motion genocide defines official Israeli policy.
Fact: Washington generously funds and arms its killing machine.
Fact: Both nations partner in the worst of unspeakable high crimes against peace.
Fact: Both are the world's most egregious human rights abusers.
Fact: Both operate extrajudicially.
Fact: Israeli polls show overwhelming support for state-sponsored genocide.
Fact: It shows propaganda repeated ad nauseam works as intended. 
Fact: Israelis are as out of touch with reality as the vast majority of Americans and Europeans.
Fact: The price of ignorance and indifference is mass slaughter, destruction and genocide. 
Fact: No conflict resolution looms any time in the foreseeable future.
Fact: Expect the worst of Israeli high crimes to continue without end.
Fact: Expect no relief from what demands accountability.
Fact: Expect Israel to keep blaming Palestinians for its crimes.
Fact: Expect media scoundrels to support its lawlessness.
Fact: Expect horrific Palestinian suffering to continue without end.
Fact: Expect justice to be systematically denied.
America's killing machine ramped up. Iraq again is targeted. Obama authorized lawless aggression. Reasons given were Big Fat Lies.
Obama is a serial liar. He's a war criminal multiple times over. He belongs in prison, not high office. He's arguably America's worst ever president.
He disgraces the office he holds. Attacks on ISIS (the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria) or ISIL (the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant) targets America's ally in Syria.
ISIS (ISIL) and other extremist groups serve as Washington's ally and enemy. Sometimes simultaneously in different war theaters.
Media scoundrels don't explain. Most Americans don't know what's not reported. Public ignorance lets Washington get away with high crimes against peace repeatedly.
On Saturday, Obama said Iraq airstrikes may continue longterm. Perhaps with shock and awe intensity if ordered. Maybe US troops on the ground if ineffective.
Claiming they're to prevent genocide against minority groups, for humanitarian aid, and to protect US area forces don't wash. It's the oil, stupid, and for unchallenged regional control.
US warplanes and drones are involved. Attacks began Friday. They target Northwest Sinjar locations. 
At the same time, Obama wants the current Iraqi stooge government replaced. It wants a new one more amenable to US demands.
"The most important timetable that I'm focused on right now is the Iraqi government getting formed and finalized," he said before leaving for summer vacation.
"I don't think we’re going to solve this problem in weeks. I think this is going to take some time."
"What we don't have yet is a prime minister and a cabinet that can…start reaching out to all the various groups and factions inside Iraq."
What's not in place is a government subservient enough to US regional objectives. Unchallenged control defines them.
Given their hydrocarbon resources, the Middle East/North Africa are especially vital to US interests. Post-9/11, wars on Iraq and Libya were waged for them.
Obama's proxy war on Syria continues without end. Iran remains a future US target. So does Hezbollah in Lebanon.
Washington partners with Israel in its longstanding war on Palestine.
Humanitarian intervention and right to protect are non-starters. America's main objective is unchallenged world dominance.
It includes control of vital resources with pro-Western friendly or stooge regimes serving US interests everywhere.
Independent outliers aren't tolerated. Wars are waged to replace them. Millions die.
Peace is more illusion than reality. Since January 1991, America waged war on Iraq for the third time.
What happens now going forward remains to be seen. One thing is certain.
Civilians will suffer most. Innocent non-combatants will be slaughtered. Iraq again may be ravaged before current hostilities end.
Call it the curse of oil. New millennium resource wars ramped up again.
They represent a modern-day great game. Its predecessor pitted Britain again Tsarist Russia.
Conflict lasted 100 years. Who knows how long this time.
Oil is especially valued. World resources are finite. No one is sure how much is left.
America is going all-out to secure control of as much of world supplies as possible.
Iraq is oil rich. So is Iran. Washington wants unchallenged control of their reserves. 
Why resources wars won't end any time in the foreseeable future. Washington asserts a sovereign right to wage "preventive" wars against (nonexistent) perceived threats.
America's imperial grand strategy prioritizes them. Obama exceeds the worst of George Bush.
His rage for war reflects madness. Waging them risks letting things spin out of control. 
It risks potential global war. It risks humanity's destruction. Perhaps it won't survive Obama's second term.
According to an ancient proverb: "Those whom the gods wish to destroy they first make mad."
Perhaps it had Obama, Netanyahu, top officials around them, as well as congressional and Knesset leaders in mind.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. 
His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."
http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanIII.html
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. 
Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.
It airs three times weekly: live on Sundays at 1PM Central time plus two prerecorded archived programs. 

http://www.progressiveradionetwork.com/the-progressive-news-hour 

The Battle for Ukraine's Soul

sjlendman.blogspot.com - Sun, 10/08/2014 - 03:35
The Battle for Ukraine's Soul
by Stephen Lendman
Many previous articles explained the geopolitical importance of crisis conditions in Ukraine.
The book "Flashpoint in Ukraine: How the US Drive for Hegemony Risks World War III" discusses its gravity and much more in detail.
Ukraine remains in the eye of the storm. Neocons infest Washington. They influence administration policy.
They want total unchallenged world dominance. Russia and China mainly stand in the way. 
United they pose formidable opposition to Washington's imperial aims. At risk is a potential East/West confrontation. 
July 28 marked WW I's 100th anniversary. WW II followed the war to end all wars. 
US-led NATO bears full responsibility for perpetual wars through today's ongoing conflicts. It's a global killing machine.
Wars on humanity persist without end. World peace hangs by a thread. America's rage for dominance risks WW III.
Ukraine could become the flashpoint that ignites it. The risk is huge. Daily events should scare everyone.
Western propaganda wrongfully blames Russia for US crimes. Putin is maliciously vilified.
Sanctions wars persist. An August 7 New York Times editorial urges Western unity against a fabricated in Washington Russian enemy.
It outrageously accuses Putin of "brazen(ly) challeng(ing) the post-Soviet order." It falsely calls Southeastern Ukrainian freedom fighters "secessionists."
It suggests possible Russian "direct intervention in support of the rebels" battling Ukrainian forces. 
It ignores their freedom-fighting struggle. Their rejection of illegitimate fascist governance. Their passion for real democracy.Their willingness to risk all for it.
Numerous Western editorials and op-eds falsely accused Russia of downing MH17. Michel Chossudovsky cited expert Peter Haisenko's analysis.
A missile was not responsible for the plane's destruction. No evidence whatever suggests it.
Shrapnel marks suggest a " '30 millimeter caliber projectile' fired from a military aircraft." Eyewitnesses reported a Ukrainian one flying close to MH17 when it was downed.
The New York Times and other Western media falsely blamed Russia and Southeastern Ukrainian freedom fighters for MH17's destruction.
The Kiev government in collusion with Washington bears full responsibility.
The obvious went unreported. Cui bono? Clearly, Russia and Ukrainian freedom fighters had nothing to gain and plenty to lose.
In contrast, Kiev and Washington benefit greatly by blaming Moscow and Ukrainian freedom fighters for their crime.
The incident was a classic false flag. Planned in Washington. Executed by the illegitimate fascist Ukrainian government. Falsely blamed on Russia and Ukrainian freedom fighters. 
On August 7, Malaysia's New Straits Times accused Washington and Kiev of downing MH17. Western media ignored the report. 
It refutes the official propaganda narrative. It bursts the illusion of Russian/Ukrainian freedom fighters' involvement.
At the same time, Moscow has verifiable satellite and radar data. They show a Ukrainian Sukhoi-25 warplane tailing MH17 before its destruction.
The New Straits Times cited "experts who had said that the photographs of the blast fragmentation patterns on the fuselage of the airliner showed two distinct shapes - the shredding pattern associated with a warhead packed with 'flechettes,’'and the more uniform, round-type penetration holes consistent with that of cannon rounds.”
It bears repeating. Clear evidence is consistent with machine gun fire. No missile of any kind was involved. US and Western media claims otherwise are bald-faced lies.
A deplorable July 17 Washington Post editorial headlined "The world must know whose weapon destroyed a passenger plane."
It falsely claimed nonexistent evidence of "a missile fired by Russian-made surface-to-air battery supplied to Moscow's Ukrainian proxies."
It called on Washington and its allied to "insist that those responsible be held accountable - including those in the Kremlin."
It accused "Ukrainian rebels (of) cover(ing) up what occurred." It ridiculed Putin's correct analysis. It claimed he "disingenuously" blamed Kiev.
Wall Street Journal editors quoted billionaire anointed Ukrainian president Petro Poroshnko. He accused "Russian staff officers (of) taking part in military operations against Ukrainian forces."
No corroborating evidence was cited. Journal editors disgracefully accused Putin of "attempting to disguise his use of force to achieve his strategic goals…"
Facts are conveniently turned on their head. Truth is systematically suppressed. Pressure builds. 
It bears repeating. A potential East/West confrontation looms. Western media propaganda aids and abets the possibility.
So does John Kerry. He shames the office he holds. He's an unindicted war criminal. He's a serial liar. 
He claimed nonexistent "extraordinary circumstantial" evidence claiming freedom fighting Ukrainians downed MH17 with Moscow provided missiles.
The New Straits Times report discredits his fabricated account. So does other credible evidence. 
Don't expect media scoundrels to explain. The official narrative repeats ad nauseam.
It constitutes lies, damn lies, and malicious anti-Russian propaganda. Truth is consistently drowned out. Pro-Western propaganda substitutes.
In mid-July, Moscow's UN envoy Vitaly Churkin submitted "elements" for a Security Council resolution on Ukraine.
Another won't follow, he stressed. "Instead, we offer the key elements that we believe are necessary to include in the text of the resolution,” he said.
They include halting all violence by both sides immediately. Giving journalists free access to cover events.
Going all-out for equitable conflict resolution. He called Poroshenko's peace plan "smoke screen" mumbo jumbo to militarize Ukraine's East.
At the time, Poroshenko said "(f)or every taken life of our servicemen, they will pay with tens and hundreds of theirs." 
"Not a single terrorist will escape responsibility. Everyone will get what they deserve."
Meanwhile, fierce fighting continues. US-led NATO is funding and arming Kiev forces. Doing so, it claims, is to "protect (Ukraine's) eastern border against (nonexistent) Russian aggression."
The battle of words accompanies hot conflict. Deaths and destruction continue.
On August 7, US-led NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen expressed support for Ukraine's putschist fascist government, saying:
"NATO's support for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine is unwavering. Our partnership is long-standing." 
"It's strong, and in response to Russia's (nonexistent) aggression, NATO is working even more closely with Ukraine to reform its armed forces and defence institutions."
Rasmussen shamelessly accused Russia of massing troops on Ukraine's border, shielding "separatists," and using pretexts for further intervention. 
He turned reality on its head. He pointed fingers the wrong way. He made similar comments many times before. He lied blaming Russia for US-led NATO/Ukrainian crimes.
He called on Russia "to step back from the brink. Step back from the border. Do not use peacekeeping as an excuse for war-making."
He "urge(d) Russia to follow the genuine path to peace. To stop its support for separatists. To pull pack its troops from Ukraine's border. And to engage in a sincere dialogue for a peaceful solution."
Russia's Defense Ministry blasted NATO's claims. It called them unsubstantiated. They support a litany of Big Fat Lies.
Shameless Russia bashing continues unabated. Putin genuinely wants peaceful conflict resolution. Washington wants war without mercy. 
It continues unabated. Western media sanitize deaths, destruction and appalling Kiev atrocities.
They report nothing about ordinary Ukrainian soldiers. They're underpaid, poorly fed and clothed, as well as deplorably treated.
Many young men seek refuge in Russia to avoid serving in a conflict they want no part of. Others are forced to fight against their will.
In contrast, Ukraine's National Guard is controlled by neo-Nazi extremists. Western media ignore their involvement and appalling atrocities.
Myth-making substitutes for reality. Lawless fascist elements are considered democrats. Courageous freedom fighters are called terrorists.
Truth telling is verboten. Most Americans are mindless of the real Ukraine story. 
They're indifferent about a distant war. It's in a country they know nothing about.
On the one hand, they're fed up with US wars. They want them ended. They crave elusive peace. 
On the other, they're unaware of US military and political involvement in Ukraine. 
Euromaidan conflict erupted last November. Obama's dirty hands bore full responsibility.
Last February, Washington orchestrated democratically elected Viktor Yanokovych's ouster. It replaced him with putschist fascist governance.
Euromaidan protesters didn't go quietly into the good night. They remained. Their protests continue.
They clashed with police. They fortified old barricades. They erected new ones.
They threw stones and Molotov cocktails at police. They burned tires. They remain in control of government buildings and hotels seized earlier.
Ukrainian prosecutor general, Vitaly Yarema, said refusal to clear Maidan and leave occupied buildings constitutes criminal responsibility.
So far, protesters remain committed. It's unclear what may follow. Kiev's Independence Square again is on fire.
Despite Ukraine's new government, protesters say they'll remain in Maidan to ensure promised change benefitting them and all Ukrainians.
Expect them to be bitterly disappointed. What follows remains to be seen. 
At the same time, Kiev Mayor Vitali Klitschko said protesters agreed to vacate the city's administration building as well as an area from the Central Department Store (TsUM) to Proreznaya Street.
Turmoil still rocks the city. Robberies and attacks on journalists increased. Garbage piled up. Sanitation is poor.
Kiev police initiated three criminal cases. Police chief Aleksandr Tereshchuk said "investigation(s) were underway under three articles of Ukraine's criminal code into car theft, illegal handling of firearms, ammunition and explosives, and hooliganism."
At the same time, Russia bashing and false accusations persist. Putin spokesman Dmitry Peskov categorically denied Russian military forces attempting to infiltrate Ukrainian territory.
"We struggle to understand what the Ukrainian side means. There have been no attempts of infiltration by the Russian army,” said Peskov. 
Claims otherwise are false. They're Big Fat Bald-Faced Lies. They repeat. They persist. They risk potential global war.
Ukraine is the gravest geopolitical crisis since WW II. Washington stops at nothing to advance its imperium. Millions of corpses attest to its barbarity.
Replacing independent governments with subservient pro-Western ones is longstanding US policy. Wars are waged to achieve it.
Previous articles explained that Obama's Ukrainian allies are fascist thugs. They have no legitimacy whatever. They represent mob rule.
They're murdering their own people in cold blood. They're committing appalling atrocities. 
Western media turn a blind eye. They support what demands condemnation. Major conflicts begin this way. 
Potential nuclear war is possible. Preventing the unthinkable matters most. Obama pledged full support for Kiev. Even at the risk of open confrontation with Russia.
Belligerence is longstanding US policy. "Washington threatens the world," says Paul Craig Roberts. Its reckless irresponsibility is the greatest threat to world peace and stability.
The battle for Ukraine's soul persists. The struggle for humanity's survival matters most.
A Final Comment
An astonishing number of supportive well-wishing emails continue welcoming me back. Words can't properly express my gratitude. 
Good friends are precious. I'm blessed with many. My sincerest thanks to everyone wishing me well. 
It's wonderful being home. It's glorious doing what I love best. It's special knowing many friends, colleagues and readers care.
So do I. About spreading important truths on vital issues at the most perilous time in world history.
Survival depends on enough good people committed to doing the right thing. Settling for nothing less that peace, equity and justice for everyone.
This writer for sure is committed. Hopefully, good health will permit many more active years speaking truth to power - no punches pulled.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. 
His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."
http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanIII.html
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. 
Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.
It airs three times weekly: live on Sundays at 1PM Central time plus two prerecorded archived programs. 

http://www.progressiveradionetwork.com/the-progressive-news-hour 

Abbas: Longtime Israeli Collaborator

sjlendman.blogspot.com - Sun, 10/08/2014 - 03:34
Abbas: Longtime Israeli Collaborator
by Stephen Lendman
Note: This article was written before my two month illness. It remained unsubmitted on my desktop.
It's appropriate now given Abbas' less than wholehearted condemnation of Israeli mass murder and destruction in Gaza.
It continues as this article is posted on my blog site and sent to web editors.
Abbas is a longtime Israeli co-conspirator and collaborator against his own people. He shames the office Israel arranged for him to hold. He governs illegitimately.
Israel rigged his 2005 election. It was payback for enforcer services rendered. For betraying his own people.
He profited greatly. He serves illegitimately. His term expired in January 2009. He refuses to call new elections. 
He shames the office he holds. Why Palestinians put up with him, they'll have to explain.
He admitted collaborating with the enemy. Electronic Intifada co-founder Ali Abunimah explained. More on this below.
Deep-seated corruption and other crimes against his own people continue on his watch.
Large-scale Palestinian resistance is badly needed. Submissiveness is self-defeating. A third Intifada is long overdue. Not on Abbas' watch.
"We will not go back to terrorism and violence," he said. Israel wrote his lines. 
He dutifully regurgitated them as ordered. "We will only operate through diplomacy and through peaceful means," he said.
He permits occupation harshness, passivity and acquiescence alone. Freedom isn't in his vocabulary. 
Liberation struggles aren't tolerated. Israeli rogues couldn't say it better. Abbas serves them. He's a convenient stooge.
Months earlier, Israeli President Shimon Peres praised him, saying:
He "condemned terror and has pledged that under his leadership there will not be a third intifada." 
"He understands very well that the solution to the Palestinian refugee problem cannot be within Israeli territory, so as not to change the demographic character of Israel." 
"But he has put out a hand to Israel to renew the peace process."
Israel values collaborationist Palestinians. Abbas sold out long ago. He's more double agent than legitimate leader.
The late Edward Said (1935 - 2003) met him in March 1977. At a Cairo National Council meeting.
It launched secret PLO/Israeli meetings. It "made Oslo possible," Said said. It didn't matter.
Israelis came prepared. They "fielded an array of experts supported by maps, documents, statistics, and at least 17 prior drafts (before) Palestinians" accepted what demanded rejection, Said explained. 
"Three PLO men" alone were allowed to negotiate. "(N)ot one of whom knew English or had a background in international (or any other kind of) law," said Said.
"The outcome was predictable, a one-sided agreement for Israel. Palestinians getting nothing besides anointment as 'Israel's sheriff,' " Said explained.
In his 1995 memoir, "Through Secret Channels: The Road to Oslo," Abbas took unfair credit.
He anointed himself Oslo's architect. He never left Tunis. "Arafat pull(ed) all the strings," said Said. 
He arranged his own capitulation. "No wonder then that the Oslo negotiations made the overall situation of the Palestinians a good deal worse." 
Said called Abbas "colorless, moderately corrupt, and without any clear ideas of his own, except that he wants to please the white man."
His "authenticity (was) lacking in the path" he chose to follow. He was a tailor-made stooge. Hugely corrupt later on.
Concerned solely for his own welfare. Mindless of Palestinian rights. He represents Quisling leadership.
He's against Palestine's liberating struggle. He knew about Cast Lead in advance. A previous article explained.
On November 30, 2010, Reuters headlined "Israel says Abbas, Egypt warned on Gaza war - leaks," saying:
Ahead of Cast Lead, Israel "conferred with the Western-backed Palestinian leadership and with Egypt..."
Leaked US diplomatic cables quoted a senior Israeli official confirming it. Haaretz reported the same thing. Mubarak and Abbas were briefed in advance.
Haaretz said "Israel tried to coordinate the Gaza war with the Palestinian authority." WikiLeaks released US diplomatic cables confirming it.
In June 2009, months before Cast Lead, Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak met with US congressional members.
He "consulted with Egypt and Fatah prior to Operation Cast Lead." He asked "if they were willing to assume control of Gaza once Israel defeated Hamas."
He "received negative answers from both." Previous leaked information reported the same thing. WikiLeaks provided "the first documented proof."
Abbas denied getting advance word. He lied. Mubarak said nothing either way.
Reuters said Abbas "urged Israel to crush Hamas during the war."
Avigdor Lieberman held ministerial positions under Sharon and Ehud Olmert. In April 2009, he became Netanyahu's Foreign Minister.
He explained Abbas' involvement, saying:
"Over the past year, I witnessed (Abbas) at his best. In Operation Cast Lead, (he) called us personally, applied pressure, and demanded that we topple Hamas and remove it from power."
Throughout Cast Lead, a senior Olmert official called his comments "essentially accurate."
Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said this information "reaffirms the fact that Mahmoud Abbas is no longer fit to represent our people, who conspired against his people during a war."
Abbas was never fit to serve. That's why Israel and Washington chose him.
WikiLeaks disclosed that Hamas spokesman Salah Al-Bardaweel said:
"We have not ruled out that Fatah and the Palestinian Authority could have contributed in one way or another in the war against Gaza for political reasons such as bringing down the Hamas movement and regaining control."
Washington's Tel Aviv embassy said Fatah officials asked Israel to attack Hamas.
Shin Bet head Yuval Diskin said "demoralized" Fatah officials wanted help to destroy Hamas.
"They are approaching a zero-sum situation," he said. "(Y)et they ask us to attack Hamas. They are desperate. This is a new development. We have never seen this before."
"Fatah is in a very bad shape in Gaza. We have received requests to train their forces in Egypt and Yemen." 
"We would like them to get the training they need, and to be more powerful, but they do not have anyone to lead them."
Shin Bet has a "very good working relationship" with Abbas. His internal security service collaborates with Israel. 
He understands "Israel's security is central to (his) survival in the struggle with Hamas…"
At the time, Fatah collaborated with Washington to oust Hamas. An abortive coup failed. More information surfaced.
WikiLeaks published a June 12, 2007 cable. It said Israeli military intelligence head Amos Yadlin told US embassy officials that Hamas retaining power in Gaza was advantageous.
"Although not necessarily representing a GOI (government of Israel) consensus view," said Yadlin, 
"Israel would be 'happy' if Hamas took over Gaza because the IDF could then deal with (it) as a hostile state."
Israel needs manufactured enemies. Having them facilitates violence and instability. They help justify small and larger-scale wars.
Cast Lead and Pillar of Cloud were planned months in advance. Their aim was advancing Israel's imperium.
Doing so involves controlling all valued parts of Judea and Samaria, depopulating much of Palestine, and confining remaining population elements to canonized worthless scrubland.
Both conflicts were more about weakening Hamas than destroying it. They involved waging war on noncombatant men, women, children, infants and the elderly.
It's official Israeli policy. Abbas and other Fatah officials knew about Cast Lead and Pillar of Cloud in advance. They urged them.
Abbas did nothing to help beleaguered Gazans. He approved Israeli slaughter and mass destruction.
It bears repeating. Abbas is a longtime Israeli collaborator. 
According to Abunimah, he "told Israeli journalists and business people that his collaboration with Israeli occupation forces is 'sacred' and would continue even if the PA forms a 'government' backed by the Palestinian military resistance organization Hamas."
"The security relationship…and I say it on air, security coordination is sacred, is sacred," Abbas stressed.
"And we'll continue it whether we disagree or agree over policy." 
"US-financed PA intelligence and security forces work closely with Israeli occupation forces and Shin Bet secret police to suppress any Palestinian resistance to occupation," said Abunimah.
Abbas showed which side he's on numerous times before.
"In 2012, he pleaded with a visiting Israel lobby delegation to help him secure weapons from Israel to stop resistance," Abunimah explained.
"If they help me to get weapons, I'm helping them because I’m promoting security," Abbas said.
He praised Oslo at the same time. He did so disgracefully. It was unilateral surrender. A Palestinian Versailles.
A vaguely defined negotiating process was agreed on. No fixed timeline or outcome were specified. 
Israeli officials obstructed and delayed. They refused to make concessions. They kept stealing Palestinian land. They never stopped.
Colonization is policy. Occupation harshness enforces it. Negotiating with Israel is fruitless. 
Palestinians got nothing for renouncing armed struggle, recognizing Israel's right to exist, and agreeing to leave major unresolved issues for later final status talks. They're still waiting.
Major issues include Palestinian self-determination. Free from occupation. Inside 1967 borders. The right of return.
Settlements. Clearly defined borders. Water and other resource rights. Air and coastal water rights. East Jerusalem as Palestine's exclusive capital.
Abbas feigns support. Privately he backs Israeli delay and deny tactics. He openly declared opposition to boycotting Israel.
He wants diaspora Palestinians denied their right of return. He said so publicly. It bears repeating.
He's a longtime Israeli collaborator. He's a world class traitor. He's a scoundrel writ large. He betrayed his own people. 
He did so for special benefits he derives. He's more Zionist than Palestinian. Liberation is impossible with him in charge.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. 
His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."
http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanIII.html
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. 
Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.
It airs three times weekly: live on Sundays at 1PM Central time plus two prerecorded archived programs. 

http://www.progressiveradionetwork.com/the-progressive-news-hour 

A Recap of the First EFF CUP Workshop

eff.org - Sat, 09/08/2014 - 10:50

Updated: August 13th, 11:13AM to clarify that Wickr does not maintain private key servers

At the SOUPS conference in July, we convened the first EFF CUP Workshop. The one-day event brought together a diverse group of software developers and researchers around the common goal of developing an end-to-end encryption communication tool which is both secure and usable. Specifically, our goal was to explore the current state-of-the-art and evaluate the feasibility and usefulness of awarding a prize for the solution today that is closest to this goal.

We began the day with an invited talk from Trevor Perrin (slides here), who's been prolific in this space and started the excellent Modern Crypto mailing lists. Trevor laid out the many technical challenges in secure messaging; for many there are two or three plausible solutions but each has trade-offs and we generally don't know what will be usable for the masses and practical at scale. For example, is it better to build a designated application for secure messaging? Or design a plugin or overlay to bring security to an existing application? There are also a number of unsolved technical problems like verifying the mapping from crypto keys to users. Will users ever find a way for users to intuitively understand and verify key fingerprints? Or can another solution, based on a centralized distribution server with sufficient transparency logs to keep it honest, win out?

Next up we had a number of developers present 2-3 minute demos of their work, which are now available online. We started with four projects showcasing four different approaches to key exchange and verification: Confusion (video) which uses short shared passwords to derive anonymized key exchange messages which are then broadcast; OkTurtles (video) which uses DNSChain (built on NameCoin) to tie public keys to names using a Bitcoin-like block chain; Petmail (video) which allows users to share short invitation-codes and exchange keys over relay servers (which may be anonymous); and SafeSlinger (video), a protocol designed for small groups of people (up to 9) to exchange keys in-person using their mobile devices (though it may also be used remotely). The first three of these projects all are relatively complex and early-stage, with advanced security features. Trying to explain them to a room full of technically-minded people showcased the difficulty in designing an elegant user interface. But they also all demonstrated that there are still many novel architectures possible. SafeSlinger, by contrast, is further along, with deployed apps already being used in practice and looks like a nice breakthrough for in-person key exchange which avoids the traditional problem of users neglecting to carefully compare keys.

Next we heard from two projects aiming to re-imagine email and put users in charge of their data: Mailpile (video), a web-based email interface which can be self-hosted or cloud-hosted and which is designed with PGP support built in; and Kinko (video), a complete mail-transfer agent to be contained in an open-source hardware appliance. Both projects are alpha-stage but represent exciting efforts to make email as elegant and easy as today's commercial webmail without relying on remote storage. The two projects also appear to complement each other well. A key challenge discussed was how to blend PGP-encrypted email with unencrypted email (when communicating with recipients without PGP support), particularly in email threads with multiple participants, and explain this all to users.

Next were Wickr (video) and ChatSecure, both chat applications available for Android and iOS that already have significant numbers of users. The approaches vary: Wickr is a proprietary application with centralized public key servers used for authenticating conversations, while ChatSecure uses the well-known OTR protocol. While many attendees expressed concern about trusting a non-open-source application, it was interesting to contrast Wickr's sales pitch which focuses on simplicity and fun with the security-focused pitches of many other projects.

The next session had demos from Scramble (video), Xmail (video), and Google's End-to-End. All three are browser plugins enabling encrypted communication to be added in a variety of different websites.

Finally we heard from GPGTools (video) and OpenKeychain (video), frontends for GPG in Mac OS X and Android, respectively. PGP, for better and for worse, has been around for quite some time now and both projects reported some struggles with backwards-compatibility issues.

The tool demonstrations and discussions underscored the point that key verification is the catastrophic weakness in all of the available end-to-end cryptosystems.  Beyond that, subsets of them also fail to be usable because of key discovery, installation difficulties, version incompatibilities, or simply bugs -- and of course many fail to be secure for purely technical reasons.  Although some innovation has improved it slightly (shared secrets in OTR, words as session verifiers in RedPhone and SilentPhone) it isn't clear that these techniques are secure against a sophisticated adversary.

After lunch we had two panels. The first was on usability metrics. Ann-Marie Horcher presented a framework for quantifying the difficulty of using software by measuring the number of actions tasks take and the complexity of those actions. While not perfect, this can be a way to get a sense of how complicated an interface is without a large user test. By contrast, Peter Eckersley discussed a more ambitious approach with participants being asked to communicate with each other in an "alternative reality game" that would include simulated man-in-the-middle attacks to try to evaluate how a tool holds up against plausible real-world attacks. This might be the ultimate test of success, but in discussion concerns were raised about the cost of doing this and that it might only be appropriate for comparing the usability of very mature tools.  Adrienne Porter Felt pointed out that preliminary evaluations, walkthroughs and user testing would make more sense to start out with. Overall the panel discussion focused on early, simple tests and panelists agreed that it will be very hard to ever be "done" with a usable and secure messaging app, it will be a process of continual refinement and many projects seem a considerable way from victory.

The final panel of the day focused on the big question of organizing a contest. It was structured as a panel and we had interesting contributions from several panelists with experience in contests and crowd-funding in other contexts (some of these have been successful, but it is clear they need to be designed with care), and Kurt Opsahl on EFF's contest-like Encrypt the Web scorecard, but it quickly led to an open-ended discussion with many attendees participating. A number of design considerations were raised about holding a contest: will we be able to conclusively evaluate projects? Can ensure that the contest fosters a climate of collaboration? Will it be unfair comparing projects with distinct goals? Will we need a large number of different criteria and prizes? Does it make sense to give prize money to projects once they've achieved goals, instead of using the money to help them achieve those goals? Will a contest motivate new work?

A few themes emerged from discussion. One is that most, if not all, projects are not where we'd like them to be, and nearly all of the free/open source efforts are struggling for resources. In particular, only a handful of the free/open source projects have designers or usability evaluators on their teams. One possible explanation was that for financial reasons, designers are much less able to work for free in support of open-source projects than software developers are, so they're rarely involved.  One route discussed was to try to find UX researchers in academia to fill this gap.  Participating academics said that existing HCI conferences and journals would not publish incremental evaluations or attempts to improve encryption tools, because the problem was considered "answered": those tools are unusable.  It was concluded that special issues of journals, new conference tracks, or entirely new workshops would be needed before academic researchers would have career incentives to assist in pushing toward the first usable, secure communications tools.

Another solution proposed for the "design gap" was to introduce and fund designers to work with promising projects.  Some viewed this approach as more relevant to a prize, at least at this stage.  Yet there are also good arguments against switching from a contest paradigm to more of a grant-making paradigm. For one, there's value to singling out a winner for the sake of publicity and encouraging the community to adopt and support a champion, even if the selection process isn't perfect. Second, there are already many organizations supplying grants. One of the core competencies we can contribute is technical expertise to run a contest.

One point of discussion was whether to organize a single large prize contest, or a series of smaller ones. Many projects are still too immature to be evaluated as finished products and we still don't know exactly what criteria we want in the end. Smaller, targeted contests, perhaps on an annual basis, or perhaps a series of rounds building up to a final prize round in the future, might be more practical goals. A synthesis of these ideas was basing the contest on a "scorecard" of both the security and usability properties of tools; there could be a prize for the (potentially distant) goal of reaching a perfect score, but along the way projects could track their progress in meaningful, incremental ways.

Overall, it was a very productive and interesting day. We had not yet made any firm decisions about whether to organize a formal prize. The main goal was to learn as much as possible from the people whose support and participation we'll need to make a contest worthwhile. We certainly achieved that goal, and had a fascinating gathering of a perse group of minds interested in making progress on a challenging but worthwhile problem. Thanks to everybody who helped make it happen!

Related Issues: PrivacySecurity
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Google Boosts Secure Sites in Search Results

eff.org - Sat, 09/08/2014 - 07:46

In a bold and welcome move to protect users, Google announced on Wednesday that they have started prioritizing sites offering HTTPS (HTTP over TLS) in their page ranking algorithm. Google's Online Security Blog explains that domains with transport layer encryption have a slight advantage in search results, and the preference may grow stronger in the coming months:

For now it's only a very lightweight signal—affecting fewer than 1% of global queries, and carrying less weight than other signals such as high-quality content—while we give webmasters time to switch to HTTPS. But over time, we may decide to strengthen it, because we’d like to encourage all website owners to switch from HTTP to HTTPS to keep everyone safe on the web.

The post also provides solid recommendations for webmasters adopting TLS—use a strong 2048-bit key and check your configuration with the Qualys Lab tool.

This move to protect end users and reward sites taking steps to ensure the privacy and security of their visitors fits into a long tradition of advancing encryption at Google. The company led the field when it introduced HTTPS by default for Gmail and for search in 2010. As revelations of the NSA-GCHQ MUSCULAR program tapping the links between Google data centers came to light in late October 2013, it responded quickly in early November by announcing it would begin encrypting the traffic on its internal network. Google was also an early adopter of STARTTLS, encrypting the traffic between email providers, and recently provided a comprehensive data set to help us understand Internet-wide trends in STARTTLS adoption.

This week's announcement further underlines a commitment to encrypting Internet traffic and keeping user data safe, and encouraging others to do so. We urge Google to go further and carry out its plan to strengthen the preference of HTTPS sites, as well as favoring sites that have configured HTTPS well, such as by enabling Perfect Forward Secrecy.

Qualys, the organization that provides the configuration-testing tool, also has a best practices guide that may be useful for webmasters configuring HTTPS.

Related Issues: Security
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Australian Proposal Would Require Suspicionless Domestic Spying by ISPs

eff.org - Sat, 09/08/2014 - 06:49

The Australian government announced new anti-terrorism measures this week, in response to the alleged involvement of Australian citizens with extremist groups in countries including Syria and Iraq. Quietly omitted from the briefing at which those changes were announced, but separately leaked to the press this week, were the government's plans to introduce mandatory data retention requirements for Australian Internet Service Providers (ISPs).

These changes are causing an outcry from privacy advocates and political parties alike. And they should.

The new measures remain shrouded in confusion—some of which is coming from its very proponents. There have been conflicting reports about whether users' browser history would be hoovered up by the new surveillance laws. And in a now infamous interview, Attorney General George Brandis struggled to explain how retaining the addresses of websites visited was different than determining what content users were viewing. Prime Minster Tony Abbott also attempted and failed to make the same distinction two days later.

The government has attempted to clarify, emphasizing that the data retained would include the IP addresses of websites visited, as well as the times and durations of visits. Also included would be senders' and recipients' email addresses, IP addresses assigned to users, as well as details of phone calls such as caller and recipient numbers, caller location and duration.

This is still an extraordinary amount of information. And EFF has previously explained why metadata matters at least as much as the content of communications. Users can take no solace in the fact that content is not being collected. As former National Security Agency General Counsel Stu Baker said: “metadata absolutely tells you everything about somebody’s life. If you have enough metadata, you don’t really need content.” Metadata includes information like who your contacts are, where and when you go online, and websites that you may legally visit that might be politically subversive, iconoclastic, or simply your own private business. But as a Stanford study earlier this year demonstrated, it can also reveal “medical conditions, firearm ownership, and more.”

So how is the government spinning this? One rationale for data retention sometimes heard in this debate is that ISPs collect some of this metadata already anyway for technical and billing purposes. But this rationale falls short—under Australian privacy law they are not permitted to collect personal data that they do not need, nor are they permitted to retain it for longer than they need it for the purpose of collection. That would all change under this new proposal, which may help explain why ISPs are expressing concerns and confusion about the potential mandate.

Although threatening, the proposal is not exactly new. Most recently it resurrects the subject of a 2012 discussion paper that recommended that ISPs be required to maintain the metadata of users for two years. At the time, a member of the current government, who was then in opposition, likened proposals for data retention to Gestapo tactics, and they were eventually dropped into the lead-up to the 2013 general election.

So if the proposals wouldn't fly in 2012 under the previous government, why now—particularly in light of leaked documents from Edward Snowden that show the role Australia has played in the NSA's invasive surveillance? The Prime Minister himself admits that the terrorist threat has not changed. Yet in a replay of the rushed introduction of similar laws in the United Kingdom last month, the new proposal could become law as soon as next month, before it has even been tabled for consideration of the Cabinet.

It appears the government is attempting to manipulate allegations of Australian citizens' involvement in terrorist activities overseas, to justify a much broader and more intrusive domestic surveillance regime. It's a cynical move, and one that the Australian public should not stand for.

Related Issues: InternationalMandatory Data Retention
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Middle East in Turmoil

sjlendman.blogspot.com - Sat, 09/08/2014 - 05:56
Middle East in Turmoil
by Stephen Lendman
Again my great thanks to the many friends, colleagues and readers welcoming me back, sending me get well wishes from around the world.
It means so much to me. I thanked everyone and will ahead. Support messages mean so much emotionally and physically.
I continue my recovery as an outpatient. It's my top priority. I hope to write and do media work as able. It's what I love best.
It was agonizing being silenced during the worst of Israel's genocidal slaughter of non-combatant men, women, children, infants, the elderly and infirm.
The mass destruction of their neighborhoods, homes, property, vital infrastructure, loved ones and everything they hold dear. 
The cruel, calculated, premeditated state-sponsored aggression by one of the world's most powerful, ruthless military killing machines against near defenseless people is indefensible.
The murder of nonviolent West Bank protesters compounded the outrage. 
Israel is a rogue terror state. It thrives on violence and instability.
It aims to be the sole regional power. It's the only country without fixed borders.
It wants them expanded. It wants regional lines redrawn. It wants current Middle East states balkanized. It wants added territory at the expense of other nations.
It's mindless of international law, norms and standards. US tax dollars support its lawless agenda. 
The sham ceasefire and go nowhere peace talks were dead on arrival. Longterm all talk, no give, is official Israeli policy. 
Gazans want long denied justice. They won't tolerate more of the same. Nor should they. 
All Palestinians want the same thing - lifting the lawless siege Israel by its own admission says is political, not security related.
Israel's only enemies are ones it invents. The same is true for America.
Palestinians are systematically denied. They want Gaza's siege lifted. They want occupation ended. 
They deserve real, universally recognized self-determination. The right of return. Jerusalem as Palestine's exclusive capital. 
The release of thousands of political prisoners. The end of future mass arrests, torture, imprisonment, and land theft.
It bears repeating. Palestinians want what everyone deserves - peace, equity and justice.
They want what Israel categorically refuses to give. It bears repeating. Cairo talks were dead on arrival.
Resumed war may result. Hundreds more Palestinians my die. Maybe thousands.
Countless others may be injured. Some seriously. Others maimed for life. Israel remains unaccountable for unspeakable crimes of war, against humanity and slow-motion genocide.
Cairo talks went nowhere as expected. Israel yields nothing. America and Western allies one-sidedly support its killing machine.
Hamas and other Palestinian groups in Cairo are not terrorist organizations. Hamas was democratically elected Palestine's government in January 2006.
It and similar groups are legitimate resistance organizations. They're afforded the right of self-defense against Israeli premeditated aggression under international law.
Israel bears full responsibility for all violent outbreaks. Hamas and others are wrongfully blamed. They justifiably respond when attacked. The disturbing pattern repeats ad nauseam. 
Israel willfully attacked UN refuge centers. It outrageously suggested Hamas responsibility. Civilians were deliberately targeted and murdered in cold blood.
Israel's terror war against non-combatants is called Dahiya or the Dahiya Doctrine. It's named after a Beirut suburb IDF forces  attacked and destroyed in the 2006 Lebanon war.
IDF Northern Commander Gabi Eisenkot explained, saying:
"What happened in the Dahiya quarter of Beirut in 2006 will happen in every village from which Israel is fired on." 
"We will apply disproportionate force at the heart of the enemy's weak spot (civilians) and cause great damage and destruction."
"From our standpoint, these are not civilian villages (towns or cities), they are military bases."
Israel prioritizes damaging or destroying power and other vital infrastructure, assets, economic interests, and centers of civilian power and influence.
Doing so requires longterm reconstruction. It's hard to accomplish in Gaza because of the siege.
International law protects civilians, their property and non-military targets. Collective punishment is strictly prohibited.
Israel ignores all international laws with impunity. It repeatedly commits mass murder and destruction unaccountably.
The world community able to act does nothing. Washington generously funds Israel's killing machine. Both countries are partners in unspeakable crimes.
Afghans, Palestinians, Iraqis, Libyans, Syrians, Lebanese and others throughout the region suffer from crimes America, Israel and their rogue allies commit.
After Israel refused to agree to fundamental Palestinian demands in Gaza, the sham ceasefire ended for now. Bombing and shelling resumed. Where things end, who knows.
Israel's so-called Operation Protective Edge reflects premeditated mass murder and destruction. 
Civilians are willfully targeted. Hamas uses no human shields. Gaza is small and densely populated. 
Not one square inch of space is free from Israeli targeting. Every IDF attack is planned. They're deliberate. None are accidental.
Israel has precision weapons. They can accurately strike chosen targets. 
Gazans are trapped in the world's largest open air prison. They're stuck. They can't leave. There's no place to seek safety.
Israeli mass murder is like shooting fish in a barrel. IDF forces take full advantage.
It bears close watching where things go from here. Given longstanding history, things ahead look grim. Injustice remains.
Death, destruction and human misery haunts millions of Palestinians. The PA speaks piously. It does precious little to help its own people.
Abbas and other longtime Israeli collaborators are traitors. They're Israeli enforcers.
Abbas sided with Israel against Hamas in Operation Cast Lead. It's hard believing his pro-Israeli policy changed now.
He's not gone public condemning Israeli crimes in the strongest possible way. His attitude reflects continued siding with the enemy against his own people.
Israel's current Operation Protective Edge is Cast Lead on steroids. It could continue much longer.
Generous US tax dollars fund it. More money, weapons and political support come on request.
Trapped Palestinians remain on their own. They're struggling to survive against one of the world's most ruthless, lawless regimes.
It's the most one-sided mismatch anywhere. America, Western allies, Saudi Arabia and most other Gulf states support Israel.
So do Jordan and other regional Arab states. Palestinians are treated like Hitler's untermenschen - nonpersons, yesterday's garbage and much worse.
Israel treats Palestinians the way Nazis treated Jews. Nothing in prospect look encouraging. Long denied justice remains light years away.
The other vital remaining regional issue is Obama's lawlessly authorizing resumed US war on Iraq.
Air strikes against Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) elements began. At the same time, ISIS is an Al Qaeda offshoot. Washington uses it strategically as both enemy and ally.
It's longstanding US policy unreported by Western media scoundrels. On the one hand, Washington supports ISIS and likeminded groups. On the other, it declares them enemies and attacks.
It's unknown if air strikes approach shock-and-awe intensity or will ahead. Or if US troops will be involved on the ground.
It's unclear what, how many, and locations of targets.
It's uncertain how long the campaign will last. The objective is Iraqi oil and overall control. It has nothing to do with humanitarian intervention.
Post-9/11, America murdered many millions of Afghans, Iraqis, Libyans, Syrians, and conspired with Israel against Palestinians. 
Proxy wars rage in Somalia, Yemen and elsewhere. America's killing machine operates globally. It's lawless and ruthless. Western media scoundrels afford it unconditional support.
Unspeakable war crimes are sanitized, ignored and cheerled. Truth and full disclosure are systematically buried.
International law is clear and unequivocal. No nation may attack another except in self defense until the Security Council acts. It alone has final say.
It failed to authorize America's post 9/11 wars. Failure means lawless aggression against non-threatening nations in all cases.
Bush and Obama are war criminals multiple times over. Attacking Iraq again is the latest example. It's entirely unjustified and illegal.
It doesn't matter. Laws are for other nations. Not for America or Israel. Both countries consider themselves above international norms and standards.
Both get away with mass murder and destruction. Both remain unaccountable. Both plan lots more death, destruction as well as unspeakable human misery against defenseless populations.
Permanent wars without end persist. Media scoundrels feature all pro-Western/pro Israeli propaganda all the time.
Viewers and readers are systematically lied to daily. Outrageous human suffering is considered just cause.
Justice is upside down. US tax dollars fund unspeakable crimes. At the same time, vital homeland needs go begging.
While ill, offline and physically impaired, I was unable to comment on these and other vital issues. It was painful to be sidelined when I wanted my voice heard - no punches pulled.
Now it can be again if not as intensively as pre-illness for until I regain my full health and vigor. Writing and media work will come as able.
Every effort will be made to tell readers, listeners, and viewers what's essential to know - the truth, all of it, free from media scoundrel propaganda.
The Middle East threatens to boil over again. Gaza did, paused briefly, and threatens more of the same with no end of conflict in sight.
Resumed air war on Iraq may expand to something greater. It bears close watching to see what follows initial attacks.
Libya remains on the boil. Its a cauldron of violence thanks to 2011 US-led NATO naked aggression against a nonbelligerent leader and government supported by the great majority of their people.
The same holds in Syria. Assad was democratically reelected with a near 89% majority. Syrians want no one else leading them.
Washington's war of aggression continues. Syria was invaded by US enlisted extremist elements. Obama bears full responsibility.
Syria's war without end continues. Millions were displaced. Many tens of thousands died. Many others were injured.
Civilians most of all are affected. No end sight looms. 
The prospect of resumed war in Palestine, continued West Bank persecution, land theft and more, as well as Obama unleashing America's war machine in Iraq bodes ill for the region and world peace.
Dire Ukrainian conditions persist. US-led NATO lawlessly installed an illegitimate fascist government. Freedom fighting Southeastern Ukrainians reject tyranny.
They want real democracy. They're willing to sacrifice life and limb for it. They define the essence of courage and commitment. 
They deserve universal support, not condemnation. Instead they're wrongfully vilified. 
Billionaire anointed president Petro Poroshenko awarded US-led NATO Ukraine's highest award for foreigners - the Order of Freedom. 
It's a notion of fairness and lawfulness America categorically opposes. It thrives on violence, lawlessness and permanent wars. 
The notions of stability and peace are repugnant. World turmoil persists. Much is Middle East Centered.
US and Israeli wars against humanity compound a continuing deplorable situation. 
No end in sight looms. Continued death and destruction persist. The short and longer term outlooks appear grim.
Expect continued turmoil throughout the region with no end in sight. Expect unspeakable human suffering no populations should have to endure.
Blame Washington and Israel. They're partners in crime. They bear full responsibility for the worst high crimes against peace. 
The US and Israeli killing machines continue rampaging unchallenged. Justice remains denied. Innocent civilians suffer most.
It bears repeating. Israel considers them legitimate targets. So does Washington. Unspeakable crimes persist without end.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. 
His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."
http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanIII.html
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. 
Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.
It airs three times weekly: live on Sundays at 1PM Central time plus two prerecorded archived programs. 

http://www.progressiveradionetwork.com/the-progressive-news-hour 

Dear FCC: Get Out of D.C. and Talk to the Over 1 Million Americans Who Support Real Net Neutrality

eff.org - Sat, 09/08/2014 - 04:08

The FCC is slated to close the written comment window for the net neutrality proceeding on September 10th, but that doesn’t mean that the FCC is going to make up its mind anytime soon. In fact, it doesn’t even mean that the FCC will be done hearing from the public. Technically, the public can continue to comment, and the FCC, if it decides to do so, can continue to listen to Americans who speak out against proposed rules that would allow Internet providers to discriminate against how we access parts of the Net.

This is about the future of our Internet. It’s a big deal and the FCC should treat it as such by holding public hearings in geographically diverse locations around the country to hear directly from Americans who will be affected by the Commission’s net neutrality decision.

The FCC has held public hearings before. In 2007, the Commission hosted a series of events, in places like Nashville, Los Angeles, and Tampa, to discuss how new rules about media consolidation would effect the information needs of Americans.  Thousands of individuals spoke out, standing in line to testify in person, share stories, and build a robust public record that undeniably demonstrated the interest of the public. It’s time to do that again.

Filing a comment with the FCC is largely done via webforms on advocacy sites, like EFF’s own DearFCC.org. While online comments are a wonderful way to participate, we believe the Commission would greatly benefit from hosting public meetings to hear directly from the vibrant and richly diverse American public. If anyone can tell the FCC what is right and what is wrong with a potential rule set that would allow Internet providers to offer pay-to-play service for certain websites, it will be the students, entrepreneurs, artists, public safety officials, and everyday people for whom the Internet is a vital tool.

While written comments can be powerful, on an issue as important as this one, the Commission should listen to the voices of people who would stand up at a meeting, tell their stories and share their concerns about the future of the Internet. It’s time for the FCC to put faces to the over one million who have written to the Commission to speak out in defense of a neutral net.

So join us in calling for field hearings after the written comment period closes in September. And don’t forget to take action and get your comments into the FCC before September 10th. Now is the time to speak up. Let’s make sure the FCC listens.

Related Issues: Net Neutrality
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A Weakened California Open Access Bill Makes Its Way Forward

eff.org - Sat, 09/08/2014 - 02:46

Earlier this week, AB 609, a California bill promoting better public access to taxpayer-funded research, passed through the Senate Appropriations Committee. The bill, which flew out of the Assembly last year, heads next to the Senate floor. It's great that California is just two steps away from passing the first meaningful state-level public access legislation in the US. We are disappointed, however that the current version of the bill has been watered down significantly.

In its initial stages, the bill required all publicly funded research in California to be made freely available six months after publication. But then politics stepped in. Before long, the embargo period changed from six months to a year. And most recently, with pressure mounting from publishers, the bill greatly narrowed its scope to only cover research funded by the State Department of Public Health.

On balance, we still support the bill, but taxpayers should have better access to the research they fund. In an effort to make sure this discussion isn't off the table, we sent a letter of concern [pdf] to the Appropriations Committee last week:

The initial version of AB 609 applied to all publication stemming from publicly funded research in California. Public access to such publications is crucial not only to doctors, patients, and researchers, but also to educators, students, entrepreneurs, and individuals who can benefit from the state of the art across all disciplines. Public access is quickly becoming the norm, particularly on the federal level with the White House's Office of Science and Technology Policy initiative last year mandating over 20 agencies create and implement public access policies. This initiative extends beyond public health research to cover publications about education, transportation, energy, security, and basic science. We hoped to see California follow this trend.

The current version of AB 609 is a step in the right direction, but an unnecessarily modest one. While we support the bill's intent and are encouraged to see California on its way to being the first state to pass meaningful public access legislation, we urge the bill's sponsors to restore its initial scope, so the public can benefit from the full array of extraordinary work California supports.

There is a chance the scope of California's potential public access policy could expand in future legislative sessions. Open access is as hot a topic as ever, and we do seem to be making inroads on the federal level. But it would be nice to see California meaningfully leading the charge to bring the people access to the important research we fund.

Files:  eff-letter-ab609-concerns.pdfRelated Issues: Open Access
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Understanding the New USA FREEDOM Act: Questions, Concerns, and EFF’s Decision to Support the Bill

eff.org - Fri, 08/08/2014 - 05:30

Ever since the Snowden revelations, honest (and some dishonest) efforts have been made in Congress to try to scale back at least some of the NSA’s spying.  It’s a complex problem, since the NSA has overstepped reasonable bounds in so many different directions and there is intense secrecy surrounding the NSA’s activities and legal analysis.

The bill with the best chance to make some positive change currently is the Senate version of USA FREEDOM Act, a new piece of legislation with an older name.

After extensive analysis and internal discussion, EFF has decided to support this bill. But given the complexities involved, we wanted to lay out our thinking in more detail for our friends and allies.

Senator Leahy introduced S. 2685, the USA FREEDOM Act of 2014, last week. It’s clearly a vast improvement over the version of the bill that passed out of the House.1 It would also be an improvement over current law.

But it still has problems, some of which are inherent in any attempt to legislate in the shadow of national security. Specifically, we’ve seen the NSA and the intelligence community twist common words into tortured and unlikely interpretations to try to excuse their surveillance practices. We’re worried that, for all its good intentions, the bill may leave room for the intelligence community to continue to do so. Due to the secretive nature of surveillance, it will be difficult to ensure the intelligence community is not abusing its powers. And finally, this bill is a compromise between those who seek to reform the NSA and those who want to defend the status quo. Those compromises often fell short of what we’d hope for in comprehensive NSA reform.

Bad Faith Interpretations of the Bill’s Language

We now know that the NSA plays word games when it comes to interpreting the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) and the Constitution. Words like “collect” and “target” have meanings for the NSA that no ordinary person would use. Words like “relevant” have been stretched far beyond any reasonable interpretation. 

The new USA FREEDOM Act is also vulnerable to this kind of misuse. The language has wiggle room and ambiguity in places that we tried to get rid of, and failed. It also likely has language that can be misused that we haven’t yet recognized.  While the clear intent of the bill is to end bulk collection of call detail records and bring more transparency to the NSA, the government could attempt to argue in bad faith that the bill does not require either.

Folks have begun pointing out where this is possible and we think this effort should continue. Specifically, some have emphasized that the bill only has extra restrictions for “daily” call record collection, like the collection the government currently does. They’ve argued that this means that the government can continue bulk collection if it simply crafts its request for call detail records, say, on a weekly or yearly basis. This interpretation of the legislation doesn’t take into account the additional restrictions imposed on any requests not made under the new language, but it’s still concerning.

Others have pointed out that the government can still get a second set of call detail records (a second “hop”) if there’s a “direct connection” to the first specific selection term. But the term “direct connection” is undefined. Some have noted that the government could interpret “direct connection” to include the physical proximity of two mobile devices, or being in someone’s address book, since both might be called “direct”—yet the bill is trying to stop that sort of surveillance by association.

While we do believe that the intent of the bill is to disallow either of these scenarios, some additional clarity in the language would really help here, especially given the secrecy discussed below.

We hope the entire community of people concerned about mass surveillance will join us in poring over this bill and helping to identify other areas where additional clarity is needed.

Secrecy May Still Undermine Accountability

We’ve only gotten this far in ensuring that ordinary people know how pervasive surveillance really is due to whistleblowers like Mark Klein, William Binney, Thomas Drake, J. Kirk Wiebe, Edward Snowden and countless anonymous whistleblowers, as well as the tenacious efforts of litigators under the Freedom of Information Act. Intelligence agencies like the NSA and FBI have fought hard to maintain as much secrecy as possible, only opening up when cornered.  

While there is significant new transparency required by the USA FREEDOM Act, much will remain secret, and some of those secrets may undermine our ability to know whether the bill has actually achieved the reform it is aimed at. Some government secrecy in national security investigations may be merited of course, but even 20 years ago, Senator Daniel Moynihan documented the problems arising from the government’s rampant overclassification.

Even after USA FREEDOM, the FISA Court (FISC) will continue to approve requests in secret. While we are pleased that the bill creates a panel of special advocates to argue for civil liberties in the FISC, more is needed—and even these advocates have limitations. For example, the advocate role is limited and advocates can only be appointed upon the government’s approval. In addition, special advocates have security clearance restrictions—an opportunity for the executive branch to block an advocate by denying a clearance or arguing an advocate doesn’t have adequate clearance to access certain documents.  Perhaps most concerning, the intelligence community will continue to determine what legal interpretations by the FISC will be made public.

By its very nature, national security law is hard to assess because of the secrecy that surrounds it. USA FREEDOM is no exception.

Compromises in the USA FREEDOM Act

This bill is a first step. And it’s a small step because Senator Leahy’s goal was to introduce something that had a real chance of passing this Congress and not getting vetoed by President Obama.

Some of the compromises in this bill are obvious. It does less than the original USA FREEDOM. It doesn’t simply outlaw bulk collection, as EFF has long advised. It doesn’t give the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board subpoena authority. It has special advocate and declassification provisions that will help transparency, but they aren’t as strong as the original USA FREEDOM Act. It doesn’t address bulk Internet collection under Section 702 of the FISA Amendments Act substantively at all and it pushes out the sunset date on Section 215 from 2015 to 2017, when the FISA Amendments Act is scheduled to sunset.

But some of the compromises in the bill are less apparent, especially if you haven’t been poring over NSA spying legislation. We are also particularly concerned with how the bill deals with the FBI. The FBI is exempt from Section 702 reporting, and the bill appears to provide a path for the FBI to get permanent gag orders in connection with national security letters.  

Why We Support the Bill, Even with Our Concerns

Despite these concerns, EFF supports the USA FREEDOM Act as a first step in spying reform. We believe it ensures that the government will be collecting less information about innocent people, that it creates an independent voice to argue for privacy in the FISA Court, and that it will provide modest transparency improvements that will assist in accountability. The second and third of those would not be possible through litigation alone. 

What’s more, we believe that this bill will help move comprehensive reform forward. It will show that the growing global community concerned about mass surveillance can band together and get legislation passed.  We know that the original Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act was not enacted until 1978, three years after the Church Committee was formed. We are in this for the long haul.

Some wonder why we’d support legislation when we have litigation proceeding against Section 215 call records surveillance that could be sent back for further review if the law passes. While we’re very confident in our case, litigation is a long process and we’ve seen that progress in the courts can be undermined by subsequent legislation— our original case against AT&T was killed by Congress when it passed the FISA Amendments Act. So if we can end the telephone records collection in Congress, it may be a more lasting win. 

Finally, there is value in Congress reacting to the clear consensus: Americans of all political stripes think the NSA has gone too far—they do not support indiscriminate surveillance. Congress is where that political consensus should be expressed.

Your Support

This post lays out why we decided to support USA Freedom, and also many of our concerns. We made our decision based on the current version and we will not hesitate to pull our support if the bill gets watered down. 

But we also support efforts of the community to raise these or other concerns and push Congress to clarify and plug the holes. Since Congress is in recess we have a month to go before this has any chance of getting to the floor, and we’ll be continuing to scour the bill with a fine-toothed comb. We look forward to assistance.  We also respect those who have decided that they cannot support this bill without further changes, even significant ones.

In the meantime, if you agree with us that USA FREEDOM is a reasonable first step in the long project of surveillance reform, find out where your representatives stand and let them know what you think by tweeting at them, sending an email, or even setting up an in-district meeting over the Congressional recess.

  • 1. Some background may be helpful here: When USA FREEDOM was originally introduced in October of 2013, EFF called it a floor, not a ceiling. We supported the bill, but cautioned that it was just a first step towards NSA spying reform and still had some problematic pieces. But we were hopeful because it had bipartisan support in both the House and the Senate. Most importantly, we believed that it could start to address intelligence agency overreach.

    Unfortunately, months later, a drastically altered bill was introduced as a manager’s amendment in the House of Representatives. We made it clear that this bill, the result of political compromises, never earned our support. It passed out of the House as H.R. 3361. The current Senate version of USA FREEDOM is not as strong as the original version, but far stronger than what passed out of the House.

Related Issues: National Security LettersNSA SpyingPATRIOT ActRelated Cases: Jewel v. NSAFirst Unitarian Church of Los Angeles v. NSA
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Back from the Abyss

sjlendman.blogspot.com - Thu, 07/08/2014 - 23:30
Back from the Abyss
by Stephen Lendman
I've been ill and unable to do what I love best for 2 months. Yesterday, August 6, I came home for the first time since hospitalized on June 4.
At the time, I posted a brief message on my blog site. I expected a few days of treatment. Then home to resume my writing and media work.
Things didn't turn out that way. I owe my friends, colleagues and readers an explanation.
Multiple problems developed. One rather serious one. Thankfully they were resolved. But it took time - 2 weeks at Northwestern Memorial Hospital followed by 6 weeks at Warren Barr rehab facility.
The experience was life changing. I wondered at times if I'd ever be me again. I still have lots of recovery to go as an outpatient. 
I worked very hard with good therapy people helping me daily. I'm deeply grateful to them for taking me from a very low point to going home yesterday.
It never felt so good to walk through my front door. I began emailing friends and colleagues to explain. More emailing coming.
Wonderful responses came. Means so much to this old guy - age 80 in mid-August. Still with so much I want to do - articles, media work and another book or 2 - maybe more as able.
I'll slowly get back to what I love best. My health, of course, is top priority. Later this morning I have hours of treatment at Northwestern Mem. Hosp and weekly after that for 2 months followed by monthly treatment for a year.
I'm working with wonderful doctors. Some personal friends. They know what I do. They want me back in full swing. Will take time. I'm very patient.
Writing et al will come as able. Important not to overdue it. Yet what i love best is therapeutic - for the mind, soul and body. I'm fully committed to return to a much full health as possible - my top priority.
My great thanks to everyone now wishing me well. I was offline, unconnected with no email addresses so unable to communicate until now.
Physically for a good while I wasn't in good shape enough to do it.
Now I'm back. My output won't be my customary 2 articles a day. I'll do what I can as health and strength permits. 
Words can't explain how wonderful it feels and how deeply grateful i am to be back from a very low point - mostly dependent on others to being near independent again now.
I can do things now we otherwise take for granted - my personal hygiene, cooking, laundry, all chores in my apartment, walk on the street with a walker, ride the bus, take a cab down, shop nearby and more.
Each day begins with an exercise regimen. It's crucial to my recovery and ability to regain full health and vigor. 
It gives me the energy to do my daily tasks. A day at a time I hope will make me fully me again - the me I largely took for granted. Never again. 
While absent I couldn't write on vital issues I'd have focused on daily - Israel's genocidal, cold, calculated, premeditated aggression, mass murder and destruction of Gaza.
It was and remains one of history's greatest crimes of war, against humanity, and genocide.
Israel remains unaccountable as always. Cairo talks will achieve nothing for the Palestinians. Israeli agreements when made aren't worth the paper they're written on.
They're systematically and repeatedly violated. Expect nothing different this time.
The Gaza war was much more than against Hamas. It was against millions of Palestinian non-combatant men, women, children, infants, the elderly and infirm. It's genocide writ large.
It's supported by Washington with billions of dollars of annual aid, weapons, Security Council vetoes and more. 
The international community yawns and lets Israel get away with unspeakable crimes with impunity. 
The pattern repeated large and smaller scale since the 1947-48 war taking a horrific toll on the entire Palestinian population.
Expect more of the same ahead. Expect Palestine's liberating struggle to continue with virtually no help from the international community.
Expect more Israeli initiated mass much and destruction. Expect multiple daily pre-dawn Israeli West Bank incursions, terrorizing Palestinian families.
Expect many more political prisoners in Israel's gulag. Expect torture, targeted assassinations and land theft to continue unabated.
Expect justice systematically denied as always. Expect Palestinians largely on their own in their struggle for dignity and proper treatment never afforded.
Expect Israeli crimes of war, against humanity and slow-motion genocide to continue unabated. 
Expect Hamas and other resistance groups to be unjustly blamed for repeated Israeli crimes - like premeditated shelling UN refuges, civilian neighborhoods, hospitals, schools, mosques, power and other vital infrastructure and more.
Israel is a lawless, rogue, racist, apartheid terror state - uncountable for horrific crimes repeatedly. 
Palestinian suffering is beyond words to explain properly. When will it end? How? No time soon for sure.
How many more Palestinians will die unjustly? How many more will have Israeli shells, bombs and missiles dismember their bodies?
How many more families will lose loved ones? How many more communities will be destroyed? How many more orphaned Palestinian children will be on their own?
How many more parents will lose their offspring, homes and all their possessions?
How much longer will injustice prevail? When, if ever, will Israel be held accountable?
When, if ever, will US tax dollars stop funding Israel's out-of-control killing machine?
Future articles will have much more to say - written as health permits.
And much to say about the war in Ukraine - the democratic freedom fighting struggle against lawless, illegitimate US installed fascism.
Much to say about these and other important issues ahead as health and strength permits.
It's wonderful being back doing what I love best.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. 
His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."
http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanIII.html
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. 
Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.
It airs three times weekly: live on Sundays at 1PM Central time plus two prerecorded archived programs. 

http://www.progressiveradionetwork.com/the-progressive-news-hour 

One Way to Stand Against Spying: Meet With A Legislator

eff.org - Wed, 06/08/2014 - 10:31

The NSA pulls no punches when it comes to the surveillance of innocent people in every corner of the world in its attempt to “collect it all.” Those in the U.S. prepared to vigorously oppose mass government spying need to fight back and hold our representatives to account for the routine human rights violations perpetrated by the National Security Agency. And this activism needs to occur on all levels, from lobbying local and state officials to setting up meetings with Congress members.

That’s part of the inspiration behind StandAgainstSpying.org, a tool that grades members of Congress on their track record in the fight against unconstitutional mass surveillance and the protection of the basic human right to privacy. Congress is in recess for the month of August, so right now is an ideal time to schedule a visit in-district.

Yet elected officials rarely hear from the diverse communities of everyday people who live under the shadow of government surveillance—which includes every American. That’s why we’re encouraging people visit their Congressional office and local representatives and make sure they know beyond a shadow of a doubt that their constituents demand meaningful NSA reform. After all, our political leaders are supposed to be working for us.

Senator Leahy introduced the new USA FREEDOM Act S. 2685 in the Senate at the end of July. It’s likely to come up for a vote in September. That means that for the next month activists and concerned citizens need to flood the offices of our Senators and make sure they hear us loud and clear: now is the time to pass this critically important bill that will work rein in the NSA’s illegal mass spying and help to restore justice in the secret FISA court.

To help with lobbying visits to local Congressional offices, we made a handy one-page guide on the USA FREEDOM Act that you can leave with the staff person you meet with at your elected representative’s office.

Lobby for digital rights

Lobbying—whether you’re a concerned citizen or a representative of an interest group—boils down to building relationships. Usually these relationships are with staff members or, if at the local level, sometimes with elected officials directly.

Citizen lobbying can be a powerful tool for driving a vision for reform, especially when it comes to tech policy and digital rights issues, where elected officials often are non-experts.

What’s more, most expertise on technology issues too often comes from specialists hired by industry interests, so when constituents visit their representative to discuss how hard-to-approach technology issues effect voters back home, you’ll typically find policymakers ready to listen carefully.

Is there an issue that you think your member of Congress should consider more closely or change her stance on? Consider discussing the issue with your elected representative by attending a town-hall meeting or visiting the closest constituent office. Here are some tips for how to contact your representative—either federal, state, or local—to ensure a successful meeting.

Find your target office

The first step is to locate which political office you wish to target. This is easier for federal issues than state issues. For federal issues, you may wish to target a particular Senate or House committee or subcommittee, which might take some searching on the Internet.

In local political matters—for example, if you want to investigate the purchase or use of drones by your local police department—you may start by scheduling a meeting with a staff person from your City Council Member’s office.

Senate: Every state is represented by two senators and every senator has an office in Washington, D.C. and multiple offices in the state they represent.

House of Representatives: States are separated into numbered districts, and each district is represented by one representative in the House of Representatives. The number of districts in a state is adjusted after each census. Similar to Senators, Representatives have an office in Washington, D.C. and at least one office in their home state.

Mayors: You may wish to contact your mayor or city manager about issues in your city, like issues concerning the police department, municipal broadband initiatives, or funding for technology education in your city. Find your mayor.

Governors: For statewide issues, contact your governor’s office to share your views or set up a meeting.

State Lawmakers and City Council Members: Local political arenas are sometimes the best places to achieve tangible political change. Do some Internet searching to find your representative.

City councils have a tremendous affect on populations as they can pass resolutions, bring issues to mayoral offices, and conduct studies to drive policy reform. Consider going to a meeting to raise concerns about a local fusion center, community fiber Internet, or the need for more government transparency.

Set up a meeting

A phone call in favor of or against a particular action that an elected official can take is a great way to advocate for reform, but nothing beats a face-to-face meeting with a staff person or your representative.

Setting up a meeting is easy. On a federal level, when Congress is not in session members work out of their in-district offices, so try to set up meetings there at those times. Members also hold frequent "town-hall" meetings for constituents. Inquire at your local office about when they will be held. You can also track when your representative will be in town by looking at the Congressional calendars for the House and the Senate. Congress often designates "constituent weeks" in order to inform the public when they will be in their district. Elected representatives want to hear from voters back home.

You’ll most likely get a meeting with a staff person, and that’s great. Staffers usually know more about the specific details of issues than the representative herself.

When you make the call and set up the meeting, be sure you tell them which organization you represent or if you’re a solo concerned citizen, where you live, and the issue that you want to discuss.

Prepare for your meeting

Do your research and be prepared. You have the opportunity to be a local expert and help shape the thinking of your elected official!

  • Who are you representing? Try to bring a petition or a letter that has numerous signatories to the meeting. Show that you’re representing a community of people that will be affected by the change you’re calling for.
  • Bring research. Consider making a folder or an information packet with research, white papers, local stories, and contact information. If your issue is a digital rights related issue, visit EFF.org for helpful resources!
  • Prepare stories. A fantastic way to communicate the need for reform is by sharing stories. Politicians often repeat stories to make a case, so be prepared to share yours.
  • Have a website and contact information ready to share. Try to have a website and business card ready in advance of your meeting. This will help the staff person find you, your community, and your position in the future.
  • Consider organizing a small delegation. Bring a group of stakeholders that all have diverse stories to share. The more real people and constituent numbers that you can tie to an issue the better.
Following up

After your meeting, send a thank-you email to the person who met with you. In your email, be sure to include information and one or two links that you want your representative to consider. Try to set up another meeting if you feel that you didn’t get to finish making your case. Always be polite and gracious and don’t overload the staffer with more information than she’ll realistically read.

If your contact responds with questions, this is a good sign, and by all means answer them. This is a chance for you to become an expert that your representative on digital rights issues. Remember: lobbying is all about building relationships, so try to keep the conversation going and meet again.

Good luck! Email info@eff.org to let us know how it went!

RESOURCE: A One-page guide to leave with your representative on the new USA FREEDOM Act

Related Issues: NSA SpyingStudent and Community Organizing
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EFF to Patent Office: End the Flood of Stupid Software Patents

eff.org - Wed, 06/08/2014 - 06:51

We have often written about how software patents feed trolls and tax innovation. We’ve pushed for patent reform in Congress, in the courts, and at the Patent Office. While new legislation has stalled (for now), reformers have won significant victories in the courts. Of these, the Supreme Court’s recent decision in Alice Corp. v. CLS Bank may be the most important. In this case, the court issued a landmark decision cutting back on abstract software patents.

While the decision in Alice is promising, it will mean nothing if the Patent Office fails to apply it. Vested interests support the status quo and some commentators have already called for the Patent Office to essentially ignore Alice. (While software patents are bad for innovation, they are great for lawyers and trolls.) Last week, EFF filed written comments with the Patent Office urging it to diligently apply the new Alice standard to pending applications.

In our comments, we explain that Alice is a major change to patent law. Most significant was the court’s holding that “generic computer components” do not become patent eligible simply upon being “configured” to perform “specific computerized functions.” Many thousands of software patents—particularly the vague and overbroad patents so beloved by patent trolls—should be rejected under this standard. While some of those accustomed to the pre-Alice regime will complain about this result, the Patent Office should not hesitate to apply the Supreme Court’s standard.

EFF also urges the Patent Office to make sure that all pending applications (even those at the point of issuing) are reviewed under Alice. Last week we introduced our inaugural Stupid Patent of the Month—a very dumb patent on using a computer to take a telephone message for a doctor. In our view, this patent is clearly invalid under Alice. Yet it issued weeks after the Supreme Court’s decision. Since patent litigation is so expensive, even a clearly invalid patent can cause enormous harm. We hope the Patent Office ensures no more of these invalid abstract patents are granted.

Ultimately, Alice is good news for the Patent Office. A recent Washington Post article revealed that the office is overwhelmed by the massive volume of applications. Many patent examiners spend as little as ten hours per application. This is not nearly enough time to properly review an application and look for potential prior art (the publications and products that predate an application and render it obvious). While Alice creates some extra work now, the decision will hopefully deter applicants from filing applications for abstract software patents in the first place, especially since the Supreme Court made clear that clever wording (the “draftman’s art”) cannot make the unpatentable patentable. There is no better way to reduce the patent backlog than by clearing the system of thousands of bad software patent applications.

Files:  eff_comments_regarding_patentable_subject_matter_and_alice_corp.pdfRelated Issues: Fair Use and Intellectual Property: Defending the BalancePatentsPatent TrollsInnovationRelated Cases: Abstract Patent Litigation
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UNSEALED: The US Sought Permission To Change The Historical Record Of A Public Court Proceeding

eff.org - Wed, 06/08/2014 - 06:19

A few weeks ago we fought a battle for transparency in our flagship NSA spying case, Jewel v. NSA. But, ironically, we weren't able to tell you anything about it until now.

On June 6, the court held a long hearing in Jewel in a crowded, open courtroom, widely covered by the press. We were even on the local TV news on two stations. At the end, the Judge ordered both sides to request a transcript since he ordered us to do additional briefing. But when it was over, the government secretly, and surprisingly sought permission to “remove” classified information from the transcript, and even indicated that it wanted to do so secretly, so the public could never even know that they had done so.

We rightly considered this an outrageous request and vigorously opposed it. The public has a First Amendment right not only to attend the hearing but to have an accurate transcript of it. Moreover, the federal law governing court reporting requires that “each session of the court” be “recorded verbatim” and that the transcript be certified by the court reporter as “a correct statement of the testimony taken and the proceedings had.” 28 U.S.C. § 753(b).

The Court allowed the government a first look at the transcript and indicated that it was going to hold the government to a very high standard and would not allow the government to manufacture a misleading transcript by hiding the fact of any redactions. Ultimately, the government said that it had *not* revealed classified information at the hearing and removed its request. But the incident speaks volumes about the dangers of allowing the government free rein to claim secrecy in court proceedings and otherwise.

We couldn't tell you anything about that fight because the government's request, our opposition to it, and the court's order regarding it were all sealed. But with today's order by Judge White, the transcript and the arguments over the government's request to revise it are finally public documents.

Here's how the events transpired:

On June 6, 2014, Judge White held a hearing in Jewel and Shubert v. Obama on our emergency motion to enforce the court's previous order that the government preserve evidence of its Internet backbone surveillance, evidence that is directly relevant to the plaintiffs' claims in Jewel that their Internet communications were collected by the government. Although the government's lawyers participated by telephone, the hearing was held in a crowded, open courtroom including TV and written press. The government never requested that the courtroom be closed or that attendance be limited in any way.

One week later, the government wrote a letter to Judge White, submitting it ex parte (which means we didn't get a copy), requesting that it be given the chance to review the written transcript of that hearing before the transcript was provided either to plaintiffs or the public. The government explained that Anthony Coppolino, the lawyer who argued for the government on June 6, “inadvertently made a statement during the hearing that we believe is classified.” The government further explained that “The National Security Agency has asked us to contact the Court to explore ways to determine whether the transcript in fact reveals classified information and, if it does, to attempt to remove it from the public record of the hearing.” The government further asked that neither the plaintiffs, their lawyers nor the public be told of its request.

Judge White correctly decided that there was no reason that plaintiffs' lawyers should not know the government's request. Thus, the day after receiving the government's letter, Judge White issued an order, still under seal but sent to us, alerting us to the government's request and giving us the opportunity to respond to it.

We filed our response on June 20, explaining that the US Supreme Court had repeatedly rejected attempts to prohibit or punish the publication of confidential material when that material was inadvertently disclosed to the public. We asked Judge White to reject the government's request in full arguing that the government could not meet the strong First Amendment test to prove that its revisions to the transcript were “essential to preserve higher values and narrowly tailored to serve that interest.” We also argued that under no circumstances should the government be able to “remove” anything from the transcript without indicating that something has in fact been removed, a process commonly called “redaction,” not “removal,” the term used in the government's request. We also asked the court to unseal all of the papers that had been filed about this dispute.

After receiving our response, Judge White asked the government to reply, which they did on June 30, trying to create a new rule that would allow such outrageous claims when the government accidentally revealed classified information in a public courtroom.

On July 11, Judge White ordered that the transcript be given to the government, and gave the government two-and-a-half weeks to inform it whether there was any classified information in the transcript. If the government believed that the transcript contained classified information, it was required to present to the court “the information that they content was classified and inadvertently disclosed, supported by declarations indicating that the information disclosed had been previously classified and is currently classified.” The court would then perform its own review and determine whether or not to redact anything from the transcript. Judge White further ruled that while this process was going on, these papers would remain sealed.

On July 28, the government informed the court that after reviewing the transcript it determined that there was no inadvertent disclosure of classified information after all.

As a result, Judge White today granted our motion to unseal and as this is being written the various papers are being unsealed. The disputed transcript has already been posted. We will continue to post and index the other documents on our Jewel page as they are unsealed.

The transcript of a court proceeding is the historical record of that event, what will exist and inform the public long after the persons involved are gone. The government's attempt to change this history was unprecedented. We could find no example of where a court had granted such a remedy or even where such a request had been made. This was another example of the government's attempt to shroud in secrecy both its own actions, as well as the challenges to those actions.

We are pleased that the record of this attempt is now public. But should the situation recur, we will fight it as hard as we did this time.

 

Related Cases: Shubert v ObamaJewel v. NSA
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