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Posts tagged ‘WikiLeaks’

Wikileaks’s Assange Says He’s Releasing More Secret Data.

Image: Wikileaks's Assange Says He's Releasing More Secret Data

Wikileaks founder Julian Assange speaks by video link to an audience at the South by Southwest Interactive conference in Austin, Texas. (AP)

Julian Assange, the founder of Wikileaks who has disclosed scores of classified data about U.S. military and diplomatic efforts, said the group would be releasing a new batch of secret information.

Assange, speaking through a video feed Saturday to a crowd of more than 3,000 people at the South by Southwest Interactive conference in Austin, Texas, said he wouldn’t share details about the timing or contents of the data because he doesn’t want to give the subjects a chance to prepare a response.

“I don’t think it’s right to give the perpetrator the heads up,” said Assange.

Assange is one of several speakers at the conference who is focused on Internet privacy and online security. After years of being an event for celebrating startups with new social- networking tools for posting personal information, South by Southwest this year is taking a more critical look at the privacy consequences of sharing that data. Edward Snowden, the government contractor who leaked documents disclosing spying by the National Security Agency, speaks on Monday through a video link.

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Assange, 42, said the disclosures about NSA spying are causing people to reassess the role of government in a world where an increasing amount of personal information is stored online. He said the U.S. agency is losing the public-relations battle since the revelations from Snowden about gathering data from companies such as Google Inc., Facebook Inc. and Apple Inc. The disclosures show a “military occupation” in the Internet’s “public space,” he said.

He said the release of classified information is critical to better understanding of the practices the government is doing in secret. He also said the NSA doesn’t face enough oversight from President Barack Obama’s administration.

“Who really wears the pants in the administration?” Assange said.

Wikileaks, which started in 2006, leaks classified documents under a philosophy of increasing government transparency. With help from people who have access to secret information, the nonprofit group has released materials including State Department communications about foreign governments and military efforts during wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. One U.S. soldier, private Bradley Manning, is serving as long as 35 years in prison for leaking classified information to Wikileaks.

Assange lives in the Ecuadorean embassy in London to avoid arrest in relation to a sexual assault investigation. He has denied the charges.

Google Chairman Eric Schmidt said earlier in the conference that there needs to be a balance between transparency and security because the government information being disclosed could put lives at risk. He also said the disclosures have made Assange and Snowden “celebrities” and may spawn copycat efforts, increasing the risk for harm if the disclosures aren’t done carefully.

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© Copyright 2014 Bloomberg News. All rights reserved.

Report: US Press Freedom Declines Under Obama.

Image: Report: US Press Freedom Declines Under Obama

By Melissa Clyne

Freedom of the press in the United States has plunged during the Obama administration, according to the 2014 Reporters Without Borders World Press Freedom Index.

“The U.S. under President Obama, who once promised to run the ‘most transparent’ administration in the country’s history, fell from 32nd to 46th in the 2014 World Press Freedom Index, a drop of 13 slots,” The Washington Times reports.

The report reviews the state of media freedoms in 180 countries. Major declines occurred in the United States, the Central African Republic, and Guatemala, while marked improvements took place in Ecuador, Bolivia, and South Africa, according to the index compiled by the press advocacy group.

Finland, the Netherlands, and Norway continue to lead the index for press freedoms and government openness, while Turkmenistan, North Korea and Eritrea “continue to be the biggest information black holes, again occupying the last three positions.” Syria also ranked near the bottom.

The rating was based on seven criteria: the level of abuses, the extent of pluralism, media independence, the environment and self-censorship, the legislative framework, transparency, and infrastructure, according to Reporters Without Borders Secretary-General Christophe Deloire.

“It makes governments face their responsibilities by providing civil society with an objective measure, and provides international bodies with a good governance indicator to guide their decisions,” Deloire said in a statement.

The report cited the handling of three events as major contributors to the declining rating for reporter freedoms the United States, according to The Washington Times.

• Former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden’s disclosure of top secret information related to U.S. spying programs;

• Army Pvt. Bradley Manning’s leak of classified documents to WikiLeaks;

• The Justice Department’s handling of a probe of The Associated Press and other media organizations suspected of receiving leaked data.

Freedom of the press is increasingly under siege as governments around the globe are targeting journalists — to get to their sources and those people who leak sensitive information, according to the report.

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© 2014 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

Ex-CIA Analyst: Snowden Journalist Could Have Blood on Hands.

The journalist who holds a cache of documents stolen by National Security Agency secrets leaker Edward Snowden not only disrupts U.S. intelligence but must ultimately take responsibility for any deadly consequences of the leaked information, former CIA analyst and LIGNET contributor Lisa Ruth said Tuesday.

“There is an absolute direct correlation between leaks and problems on the ground,” Ruth said in an exclusive interview with John Bachman on “America’s Forum” on Newsmax TV.

Former Guardian reporter Glenn Greenwald should have “months ago” considered withholding the NSA information in light of killings in 2010 of Afghan tribal leaders after the release of military documents by WikiLeaks, she said.

“I understand journalists believe part of their view is to give information, that’s what they’re trying to do,” she said. “With WikiLeaks, when this information first came out, we know that there were Afghan tribal leaders who were beheaded and killed. These were our sources.”

Story continues below video.

She said the WikiLeaks release was responsible for “not only disrupting our intelligence sources, but that journalist, in my opinion, is carrying the weight of those deaths on his shoulders, and at some point there is an ethical decision, what’s right.

“Obviously we can’t decide that for [Greenwald], but I agree that there is a point where the damage they are doing is far greater than any benefit,” she said.

Ruth said the intelligence community thinks it’s “absurd” that the public is debating the issue of how the government conducts drone strikes overseas, particularly how the military and CIA often rely on data from the NSA’s electronic spy program for targeted drone strikes and killings.

“I just can’t get my head around why we’re all debating this,” she said. “We don’t throw out for a referendum, ‘OK, folks, should we go after this guy or not?’ This is a government decision.”

According to a report from a news website launched by Greenwald, NSA documents confirm the agency “played a key supporting role” in the drone strike in September 2011 that killed U.S. citizen Anwar al-Awlaki, as well as another American, Samir Khan, in Yemen.

“I have to say that it is horrifying to me that we are talking about this,” she said. “I have to go out and say the fact that this is in the press is completely absurd to the intelligence community — the fact that we’re debating drone strikes.”

She said classified information is paramount “if you’re going to carry out operations.”

“Until yesterday, most Americans didn’t know there was a guy in Pakistan, American citizen, who’s with al-Qaida,” she said. “Did it make them feel more safe to know we’re considering attacking him with a drone? Probably not.

“If you look at overall, it’s about trust in your government, really, trust, and right now perhaps that’s not at its highest peak, and I don’t know how you get that back but in terms of intelligence. I don’t’ believe that’s something that needs to be aired,” she said.

She said the reason the CIA “holds . . . the controls to the drone strikes” is that it can “move quickly.”

“Going through military bureaucracy, as you know, takes time,” she said. “The reason they put it in the hands of the CIA was to get things done quickly . . . So, now we’re in a situation where we’re talking about this American, and again, all over the press, all over the news, and whether NSA information is going to be used. From a CIA officer standpoint, that’s only one piece we would use . . . you need a lot of other pieces of information to target in.”

Ruth noted the United States is not getting the “human intelligence” it used to, partly “because of the drones” and partly because of “the way intelligence is done, and cutbacks.”

“The idea that, oh, we can put a bug somewhere or we can use a listening device. That’s not really accurate,” she said.

“Without human intelligence in many cases we’re operating blind, and keep in mind, if I’m hearing something perhaps from a cellphone or other places, I have no way of knowing how accurate that is . . . as a human, I can sit across from you, I’m evaluating you, I’m spotting, I’m assessing, I’m making these decisions, and it usually provides more targeted information, in conjunction with NSA information, of course.”

Ruth said she hopes debate on the issue spurs change for the good.

“From my perspective and some of my contacts at the intelligence community, the hope is to get back on track . . . and that these kinds of debates can really highlight the importance of human intelligence and why we need that, and particularly with a terrorist threat,” she said.

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© 2014 Newsmax. All rights reserved.


By Cathy Burke

Eric Holder to Lecture Swedish Lawmakers on Gay Rights.

Attorney General Eric Holder is set to give a speech to the Swedish Parliament on Tuesday on gay rights.

According to a Department of Justice press release obtained by Newsmax, Holder will “discuss the global struggle for LGBT equality as well as other civil rights challenges shared by the United States and Sweden.”

The speech is titled, “A More Just and Inclusive World: Confronting the Civil Rights Challenges of Our Time,” according to the Swedish blog, Professorsblogg.

Holder is visiting Sweden as part of a European trip to attend a G6 ministerial conference in Poland. Professorsblogg claims the main reason for his visit to Stockholm is to discuss the case of Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, with his Swedish counterpart Beatrice Ask.

Assange, who has been holed up in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London for the past 18 months, is wanted in Sweden on allegations of sexual assault. Assange has claimed that is a front to allow him to be extradited to the United States to face charges for releasing thousands of classified documents.

According to Professorsblogg, Holder may be hoping to receive assurances from Swedish authorities that they will follow any such U.S. extradition request, as the Scandinavian country has always done in the past.

Assange went on TV last month to attack President Barack Obama, after the president had announced plans to reform the U.S. government’s surveillance programs. “It is embarrassing for a head of state to go on like that for 45 minutes and say almost nothing,” he said during an interview with CNN.

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© 2014 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

By Drew MacKenzie

Countdown Calendar: 550 Goodluck Jonathan Days To Go By Sonala Olumhense.


Sonala Olumhense

Today, President Goodluck Jonathan has 550 days left on his oath of office.

I would like to suggest resignation to him as a patriotic and honourable course of action, but I use both adjectives with a deep sigh.

When I first penned my first Countdown Calendar on his presidency, in July 2011, he had almost 1400 days.  On November 27 of that year when I offered the reminder again, he had 1,278.

In the past two years, I did not to write the calendar at all in order to avoid sounding like a heckler.  Today, with just one and a half years left, most of which will fall into the no-man’s land of preparing for the 2015 election, I think it is only fair to remind him again that Time does everything but wait.

What Mr. Jonathan does next, politically, could maim his legacy, or make it.  In my view, the only way for him to make a significant impact on Time may be to resign his office, or at least resist the temptation to seek re-election.  If he respects his country—and his party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP)—more than he loves himself, he ought to consider these options.

For certain, nobody in the presidency will tell him that under his leadership, Nigeria is a defeated country and the laughing stock of the international community.  Nigeria is defeated because Mr. Jonathan is defeated.  And the irony and the agony is that he has been defeated more by his friends than by his opponents.

As he left for London last week for a meeting of the Honorary International Investors’ Council (HIIC), Mr. Jonathan held in his bag his latest defeat, by his own Minister, Stella Oduah.  The HIIC aims to advise Nigeria on development issues, in the course of which it is heavy on political corruption and other challenges to investment such as crime, violence, poverty and political instability.

Mrs. Oduah has been embroiled for nearly two months in extremely scandalous corruption allegations that have taken on a life of their own internationally.  But even while the thunderous allegations went off hourly like bombs on an old Beirut street, Mr. Jonathan neither fired nor suspended her.

Even when he finally succumbed and set up a presidential panel allegedly to probe the matter, he took the Minister with him on a foreign tour for the first of the panel’s two-week lifespan, along with a member of the three-man panel.

You did not need anyone to tell you the president was not really looking for the truth, and it is no surprise the panel has since receded into irrelevance, with no report, no presidential action, and no resolution.  The Minister remains a member of the federal cabinet, and Nigeria is the butt of jokes around the world, many of them certainly heard by members of the HIIC Mr. Jonathan was due to meet in London last week.

Perhaps it was no surprise the Nigeria leader opted for the safety and security of a London hospital bed.  Had that event been in Nigeria and he had to contemplate a hospital bed, I am certainly he would have leapt off the ambulance into the conference hall like the Under-17 football captain Musa Mohammed after a crunchy tackle.

In other words, while Mrs. Oduah may well be innocent, corruption, incompetence and indolence again won the latest battle.

Regrettably, under Mr. Mr. Jonathan, they have won every conceivable ethical confrontation so far, and I challenge any presidency official to contradict this.

This is why no government official dwells on the Transformation Agenda ruse any longer.  As I continue to say, there is neither transformation nor agenda, certainly none of an ennobling or positive character.

I have no love for the PDP, everyone knows, but anyone who tells Mr. Jonathan the PDP—old or new—can win the next presidential election is lying to him.  Worse still, anyone who tells him he can win re-election is merely flattering him.  Nigerians who voted for him in 2011 did on the basis of his potential, but also because of his ruthless armada of political promises.

Those conditions have changed drastically, and I do not see Nigerians falling for any further “I once had no shoes” stories.  Mr. Jonathan’s demonstration of considerable weakness, along with his romance with the seedier dimensions of politics is certain to yield only grief at the polls.  The PDP, like Nigeria, would have a far better chance with someone else that has a chance at seeking believability on his own.

Once upon a time, Mr. Jonathan dismissed WikiLeaks revelations about the corruption in Nigeria of which he was a part, as “beer parlour gossip.”  At the time, the Coordinating Minister for the Economy and Minister of Finance, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, also called the revelations, one of which involved her, “fiction.”

There is neither fiction nor gossip about Ministers who face extensive fraud allegations, just as there is neither fiction nor gossip about looming anarchy because a chief of state cannot summon the character to enforce discipline.

Not only is Mrs. Oduah neither “beer parlor” nor “fiction,” the menace she represents can damage Mr. Jonathan’s presidency irretrievably.   She confirms the advancement of Nigeria’s lootocracy while Mr. Jonathan’s inability to act decisively confirms the worst possible advancement of his political impotence, and his defeat.

The quality of Mr. Jonathan’s defeat as a leader is even more pronounced when one considers that he is unable to identify the relationship between his inability to lead and his unsuitability for leadership.

I am prepared to cheer a leader who pursues the best interests of his country, but when a leader is dragging that country into the depths of despair, the only thing a citizen can do is ask to be set free.   That is why I advocate for Mr. Jonathan a graceful, quiet exit.

Think about it: anywhere else in civilization, Mrs. Alison-Madueke, claiming to be “deepening reforms and rooting out corruption” would be one of those hilarious jokes to which you wake up laughing in the middle of the night, but not in Nigeria.

I have written elsewhere that Mr. Jonathan’s biggest fear on the corruption file is that he cannot control what might fall off the branches should he shake the tree.  Nigerians who wander about the future may want to keep in mind that during the street protests of 2012, the Nigerian leader actually sent armed soldiers into the streets in what I thought was a dangerous power-sharing arrangement with the military

And yet…and yet this is the year, 2013, that he promised Nigeria would see performance wonders from him.  At his Media Chat in June 2012, he dismissed his critics as people who would be humbled in 2013.  “No matter the abuse, we must plan. And after the abuse, people will see the results by 2013 and things will change,” he said.

Really?  2013 is all but over, and Nigeria is doing worse, not better.  Mr. Jonathan may want to remember that it is the mark of a man to be able to look into the mirror and simply say, “No more!”  No more recycling of hopes and promises.

Save yourself, Mr. Jonathan: resign.  Alternatively, please remember that with 550 days, miracles are still possible.

Can you summon the character?   I am not holding my breath.


Snowden Warns of Government Spying in First Russia Video.

MOSCOW — U.S. intelligence leaker Edward Snowden warned of dangers to democracy in the first video released of the fugitive since Russia granted him temporary asylum in August.

“If we can’t understand the policies and programs of our government we can’t grant our consent in regulating them,” Snowden said in one of the short video clips posted on the WikiLeaks website Friday night.

The anti-secrecy group said the videos were filmed Wednesday when Snowden met with a group of four retired US ex-intelligence workers and activists now seeking to promote ethics within the profession.

Snowden, a former National Security Agency computer administrator, is wanted in the United States for espionage and other charges after leaking details of vast U.S. telephone and Internet surveillance programs.

Dressed in a black suit and blue shirt with no tie and looking at ease, Snowden reiterated the dangers of NSA surveillance, saying indiscriminate spying was a “far cry” from legitimate programs.

“It’s a sort of dragnet mass surveillance that puts entire populations under a sort of eye that sees everything, even when it’s not needed,” he said.

“People all over the world are realizing that these programs don’t make us more safe, they hurt our economy, they hurt our country, they limit our ability to speak and think and live and be creative, to have relationships, to associate freely.”

The videos show Snowden and the four former U.S. government employees chatting and smiling over dinner at a luxurious room in an unidentified location.

During the evening, former ex-CIA analyst Ray McGovern gave Snowden an award — a symbolic candlestick — that acknowledges integrity in the profession.

“We are confident that others with similar moral fiber will follow his example in illuminating dark corners and exposing crimes that put our civil rights as free citizens in jeopardy,” WikiLeaks quoted McGovern as saying.

Also present were a beaming WikiLeaks employee Sarah Harrison, a British national who has accompanied Snowden since he arrived in Russia, and his Russian lawyer Anatoly Kucherena.

One of the attendees, former Department of Justice ethics advisor Jesselyn Radack, said Snowden looked “very healthy.”

“He was funny and engaging, he did not seem worried, he did not seem to have lost weight or appear pale or sick in any kind of way,” she said in televised remarks, predicting that more people might follow his example.

“I really think he’s had a wonderful effect for the US and for the world,” she said. “Courage is contagious.”

The 30-year-old spent over a month stuck in transit at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport before being granted asylum on Aug. 1 despite repeated protests from Washington.

Since then his whereabouts have been a mystery. His pro-Kremlin lawyer Kucherena says Snowden is learning Russian, traveling and may soon get a job.

Earlier this week his father Lon Snowden arrived in Moscow and reportedly had an “emotional” meeting with his son.


© AFP 2013

Ron Paul: Assange ‘Fighting for the Cause of Liberty’.

Former Rep. Ron Paul on Thursday thanked Wikileaks founder Julian Assange for “fighting to increase transparency in our government” and fighting “for the cause of liberty.”

Paul’s praise came during the third and final installment of an interview with Assange on the Ron Paul Channel —— the subscription-based Internet channel launched last month by the Texas Republican.

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Paul concluded the interview with Assange – confined in the Ecuadorean embassy in London — by directing viewers to the WikiLeaks site where they could donate to Assange’s cause.

The day after Assange told Paul in the second part of the interview that the United States was taking advantage of the humanitarian crisis in Syria to justify a military strike, Paul took a more personal approach in the final installment, asking about Assange’s personal philosophy.

The Australian described his political philosophy as a blend of “California libertarianism,” Greek political theory, along with thoughts from the Federalist Paper and some naturalist views.

“I freely admit to borrowing from parts of my political education from different schools of thought and one of those is, roughly speaking, Californian libertarianism and from your Federalist Papers,” Assange said.

His political and philosophical diversity is reflected in the political party he founded this year and on whose platform he is campaigning in this weekend’s Australian elections.

The WikiLeaks party “is already the fourth most popular party in Australia and we have a wide variety of people from what are classically known as the right and the left within the party. There are tensions about that and I have to try and resolve those tensions and explain the commonality,” Assange said.

Born in Australia to a mother who was the daughter of academics and a father who was the son of engineers, Assange says political philosophy was not something which his parents imposed on him.

“My mother was the daughter of academics. My grandfather left school at age 14 and worked his way up through the Christian education system and to become a very young military intelligence officer in World War II, but my mother was very careful not to bias me,” he told Paul. He acknowledged that his family environment was influential, including the divorce of his parents when he was 9.

According to Assange, he developed his feelings about the world during a “burst of maturity in adolescence” and by exposing himself to a myriad of political philosophies.

Assange said he is hesitant to assign a concrete definition to his beliefs.

“I have been very careful not to define my political philosophy because those terms tend to trap you into one camp and then opponents of that particular camp try to use it against you,” he said.

As a consequence of the recent NSA disclosures by Edward Snowden and during the Bradley Manning trial, Assange said that a unique political phenomenon is developing.

Assange sees an “extreme center” emerging in the establishment from both sides of the political spectrum that is comprised of people “more concerned about self-promotion, political networking, and creating political dynasties, doing favors for mates” than the issues.

“They are just working the system,” Assange said. “They don’t really have any ideas they believe in. The extreme center, which is pushing forward aggressively in a particular direction to promote itself, has led to others feeling like that is not what they want to be involved in. There is now a magnetic force between those on the right and those on the left,” Assange said.

What unites the two sides is the sense of injustice, he said, adding that the libertarian right views injustice in terms of a lack of freedom.

“Your liberty can’t be deprived from you unless someone else has more power, so there is a commonality between these two sides,” Assange said.

The WikiLeaks Party was registered in 2013 and is running in three of the five states in Australia. Their political chances in Saturday’s election are difficult to quantify due to the complicated nature of Australia’s electoral system, but Assange believes the party will garner between 2 percent and 6 percent of the vote. Australians will have 1,717 candidates and more than 50 parties to choose from when they vote on Saturday.

© 2013 Newsmax. All rights reserved.
By Jennifer G. Hickey

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