| Jeremy Hammond’s sentencing statement exposes FBI’s global criminal exploits!

Sentenced to 10 Years in Prison, Jeremy Hammond Uses Allocution to Give Consequential Statement Highlighting Global Criminal Exploits by FBI Handlers ~ Sparrow Media.

 

[NEW YORK, NY]  Jeremy Hammond, a 28-year-old political activist, was sentenced today to 10 years in prison after pleading guilty to participating in the Anonymous hack into the computers of the private intelligence firm Strategic Forecasting (Stratfor).  The Ceremonial Courtroom at the Federal Court for the Southern District of New York was filled today with an outpouring of support by journalists, activists and other whistleblowers who see Jeremy Hammond’s actions as a form of civil disobedience, motivated by a desire to protest and expose the secret activities of private intelligence corporations.

jeremy hammond by molly crabapple
Jeremy Hammond, by Molly Crabapple

The hearing opened with arguments as to what sections of the court record will remain redacted after sentencing. While Jeremy’s attorneys initially erred on the side of caution in previous memorandums and kept large pieces of the record redacted, both the defense and prosecution agreed this morning that many of the sections should now be made available for public view. The prosecution, however took stiff exception to portions of the court record being made public that indicate victims, specifically foreign governments, that Jeremy allegedly hacked under the direction of Hector “Sabu” Monsegur, the FBI informant at the helm of Jeremy’s alleged actions. Judge Preska ordered that the names of these foreign governments remain sealed.

Jeremy’s counsel, Sarah Kunstler, who is 9 months pregnant and due to give birth today, delivered a passionate testimonial as to the person that Jeremy is, and the need for people like Jeremy during this era of exponential changes in our socio-political landscape. (Read Sarah Kunstler’s complete argument HERE)  She was followed by co-counsel, Susan Kellman, who wept as she recalled her own experiences reading the hundreds of letters from supporters to the court detailing Jeremy Hammond’s unbridled selflessness and enthusiastic volunteerism.  She pointed out that it was this same selflessness that motivated Jeremy’s actions in this case.  She closed her testimony by underscoring that, “The centerpiece of our argument is a young man with high hopes and unbelievably laudable expectations in this world.”

Susan was followed by Jeremy Hammond himself, who gave a detailed, touching and consequential allocution to the court.  The following is Jeremy’s statement to the court.  We have redacted a portion [marked in red] upon the orders of Judge Preska.  While we believe the public has a right to know the redacted information therein, we refuse to publish information that could adversely effect Jeremy or his counsel.

JEREMY HAMMOND’S SENTENCING STATEMENT  |  11/15/2013

Good morning. Thank you for this opportunity. My name is Jeremy Hammond and I’m here to be sentenced for hacking activities carried out during my involvement with Anonymous. I have been locked up at MCC for the past 20 months and have had a lot of time to think about how I would explain my actions.

Before I begin, I want to take a moment to recognize the work of the people who have supported me. I want to thank all the lawyers and others who worked on my case: Elizabeth Fink, Susan Kellman, Sarah Kunstler, Emily Kunstler, Margaret Kunstler, and Grainne O’Neill. I also want to thank the National Lawyers Guild, the Jeremy Hammond Defense Committee and Support Network, Free Anons, the Anonymous Solidarity Network, Anarchist Black Cross, and all others who have helped me by writing a letter of support, sending me letters, attending my court dates, and spreading the word about my case. I also want to shout out my brothers and sisters behind bars and those who are still out there fighting the power.

The acts of civil disobedience and direct action that I am being sentenced for today are in line with the principles of community and equality that have guided my life. I hacked into dozens of high profile corporations and government institutions, understanding very clearly that what I was doing was against the law, and that my actions could land me back in federal prison. But I felt that I had an obligation to use my skills to expose and confront injustice—and to bring the truth to light.

Could I have achieved the same goals through legal means? I have tried everything from voting petitions to peaceful protest and have found that those in power do not want the truth to be exposed. When we speak truth to power we are ignored at best and brutally suppressed at worst. We are confronting a power structure that does not respect its own system of checks and balances, never mind the rights of it’s own citizens or the international community.

My introduction to politics was when George W. Bush stole the Presidential election in 2000, then took advantage of the waves of racism and patriotism after 9/11 to launch unprovoked imperialist wars against Iraq and Afghanistan. I took to the streets in protest naively believing our voices would be heard in Washington and we could stop the war. Instead, we were labeled as traitors, beaten, and arrested.

I have been arrested for numerous acts of civil disobedience on the streets of Chicago, but it wasn’t until 2005 that I used my computer skills to break the law in political protest. I was arrested by the FBI for hacking into the computer systems of a right-wing, pro-war group called Protest Warrior, an organization that sold racist t-shirts on their website and harassed anti-war groups. I was charged under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, and the “intended loss” in my case was arbitrarily calculated by multiplying the 5000 credit cards in Protest Warrior’s database by $500, resulting in a total of $2.5 million.My sentencing guidelines were calculated on the basis of this “loss,” even though not a single credit card was used or distributed – by me or anyone else. I was sentenced to two years in prison.

While in prison I have seen for myself the ugly reality of how the criminal justice system destroys the lives of the millions of people held captive behind bars. The experience solidified my opposition to repressive forms of power and the importance of standing up for what you believe.

When I was released, I was eager to continue my involvement in struggles for social change. I didn’t want to go back to prison, so I focused on above-ground community organizing. But over time, I became frustrated with the limitations, of peaceful protest, seeing it as reformist and ineffective. The Obama administration continued the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, escalated the use of drones, and failed to close Guantanamo Bay.

Around this time, I was following the work of groups like Wikileaks and Anonymous. It was very inspiring to see the ideas of hactivism coming to fruition. I was particularly moved by the heroic actions of Chelsea Manning, who had exposed the atrocities committed by U.S. forces in Iraq and Afghanistan. She took an enormous personal risk to leak this information – believing that the public had a right to know and hoping that her disclosures would be a positive step to end these abuses. It is heart-wrenching to hear about her cruel treatment in military lockup.

I thought long and hard about choosing this path again. I had to ask myself, if Chelsea Manning fell into the abysmal nightmare of prison fighting for the truth, could I in good conscience do any less, if I was able? I thought the best way to demonstrate solidarity was to continue the work of exposing and confronting corruption.

I was drawn to Anonymous because I believe in autonomous, decentralized direct action. At the time Anonymous was involved in operations in support of the Arab Spring uprisings, against censorship, and in defense of Wikileaks. I had a lot to contribute, including technical skills, and how to better articulate ideas and goals. It was an exciting time – the birth of a digital dissent movement, where the definitions and capabilities of hacktivism were being shaped.

I was especially interested in the work of the hackers of LulzSec who were breaking into some significant targets and becoming increasingly political. Around this time, I first started talking to Sabu, who was very open about the hacks he supposedly committed, and was encouraging hackers to unite and attack major government and corporate systems under the banner of Anti Security. But very early in my involvement, the other Lulzsec hackers were arrested, leaving me to break into systems and write press releases. Later, I would learn that Sabu had been the first one arrested, and that the entire time I was talking to him he was an FBI informant.

Anonymous was also involved in the early stages of Occupy Wall Street. I was regularly participating on the streets as part of Occupy Chicago and was very excited to see a worldwide mass movement against the injustices of capitalism and racism. In several short months, the “Occupations” came to an end, closed by police crackdowns and mass arrests of protestors who were kicked out of their own public parks. The repression of Anonymous and the Occupy Movement set the tone for Antisec in the following months – the majority of our hacks against police targets were in retaliation for the arrests of our comrades.

I targeted law enforcement systems because of the racism and inequality with which the criminal law is enforced. I targeted the manufacturers and distributors of military and police equipment who profit from weaponry used to advance U.S. political and economic interests abroad and to repress people at home. I targeted information security firms because they work in secret to protect government and corporate interests at the expense of individual rights, undermining and discrediting activists, journalists and other truth seekers, and spreading disinformation.

I had never even heard of Stratfor until Sabu brought it to my attention. Sabu was encouraging people to invade systems, and helping to strategize and facilitate attacks. He even provided me with vulnerabilities of targets passed on by other hackers, so it came as a great surprise when I learned that Sabu had been working with the FBI the entire time.

On December 4, 2011, Sabu was approached by another hacker who had already broken into Stratfor’s credit card database. Sabu, under the watchful eye of his government handlers, then brought the hack to Antisec by inviting this hacker to our private chatroom, where he supplied download links to the full credit card database as well as the initial vulnerability access point to Stratfor’s systems.

I spent some time researching Stratfor and reviewing the information we were given, and decided that their activities and client base made them a deserving target. I did find it ironic that Stratfor’s wealthy and powerful customer base had their credit cards used to donate to humanitarian organizations, but my main role in the attack was to retrieve Stratfor’s private email spools which is where all the dirty secrets are typically found.

It took me more than a week to gain further access into Stratfor’s internal systems, but I eventually broke into their mail server. There was so much information, we needed several servers of our own in order to transfer the emails. Sabu, who was involved with the operation at every step, offered a server, which was provided and monitored by the FBI. Over the next weeks, the emails were transferred, the credit cards were used for donations, and Stratfor’s systems were defaced and destroyed. Why the FBI would introduce us to the hacker who found the initial vulnerability and allow this hack to continue remains a mystery.

As a result of the Stratfor hack, some of the dangers of the unregulated private intelligence industry are now known. It has been revealed through Wikileaks and other journalists around the world that Stratfor maintained a worldwide network of informants that they used to engage in intrusive and possibly illegal surveillance activities on behalf of large multinational corporations.

After Stratfor, I continued to break into other targets, using a powerful “zero day exploit” allowing me administrator access to systems running the popular Plesk webhosting platform. Sabu asked me many times for access to this exploit, which I refused to give him. Without his own independent access, Sabu continued to supply me with lists of vulnerable targets. I broke into numerous websites he supplied, uploaded the stolen email accounts and databases onto Sabu’s FBI server, and handed over passwords and backdoors that enabled Sabu (and, by extension, his FBI handlers) to control these targets.

These intrusions, all of which were suggested by Sabu while cooperating with the FBI, affected thousands of domain names and consisted largely of foreign government websites, including those of XXXXXXX, XXXXXXXX, XXXX, XXXXXX, XXXXX, XXXXXXXX, XXXXXXX and theXXXXXX XXXXXXX. In one instance, Sabu and I provided access information to hackers who went on to deface and destroy many government websites in XXXXXX. I don’t know how other information I provided to him may have been used, but I think the government’s collection and use of this data needs to be investigated.

jeremy hammond hearing
Sketch from inside Judge Preska’s courtroom by Molly Crabapple

The government celebrates my conviction and imprisonment, hoping that it will close the door on the full story. I took responsibility for my actions, by pleading guilty, but when will the government be made to answer for its crimes?

The U.S. hypes the threat of hackers in order to justify the multi billion dollar cyber security industrial complex, but it is also responsible for the same conduct it aggressively prosecutes and claims to work to prevent. The hypocrisy of “law and order” and the injustices caused by capitalism cannot be cured by institutional reform but through civil disobedience and direct action. Yes I broke the law, but I believe that sometimes laws must be broken in order to make room for change.

In the immortal word of Frederick Douglas, “Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will. Find out just what any people will quietly submit to and you have found out the exact measure of injustice and wrong which will be imposed upon them, and these will continue till they are resisted with either words or blows, or both. The limits of tyrants are prescribed by the endurance of those whom they oppress.”

This is not to say that I do not have any regrets. I realize that I released the personal information of innocent people who had nothing to do with the operations of the institutions I targeted. I apologize for the release of data that was harmful to individuals and irrelevant to my goals. I believe in the individual right to privacy – from government surveillance, and from actors like myself, and I appreciate the irony of my own involvement in the trampling of these rights. I am committed to working to make this world a better place for all of us. I still believe in the importance of hactivism as a form of civil disobedience, but it is time for me to move on to other ways of seeking change. My time in prison has taken a toll on my family, friends, and community. I know I am needed at home. I recognize that 7 years ago I stood before a different federal judge, facing similar charges, but this does not lessen the sincerity of what I say to you today.

It has taken a lot for me to write this, to explain my actions, knowing that doing so — honestly — could cost me more years of my life in prison. I am aware that I could get as many as 10 years, but I hope that I do not, as I believe there is so much work to be done.

STAY STRONG AND KEEP STRUGGLING!

To schedule interviews with Jeremy Hammond’s attorneys and supporters following today’s sentencing please contact Andy Stepanian, 631.291.3010, andy@sparrowmedia.net.

Anticopyright, Sparrow Media Project

Jeremy Hammond gets 10 years: The activist, who admitted involvement in Anonymous’ Stratfor hack, is latest victim of a vile war on information

Jeremy Hammond: FBI directed my attacks on foreign government sites: Anonymous hacktivist told court FBI informant and fellow hacker Sabu supplied him with list of countries vulnerable to cyber-attack

| BLACKMAIL: Ten explosive US Govt secrets about Israel!

Ten Explosive U.S. Government Secrets about Israel ~ Grant F. Smith, IRmep.

Absent greater transparency, Americans should assume the worst!

In 1968 Director of Central Intelligence Richard Helms wrote urgently to Attorney General Ramsey Clark and President Lyndon B. Johnson that some highly enriched uranium fueling Israel’s Dimona nuclear reactor was stolen from America.  LBJ reportedly uttered, “Don’t tell anyone else, even [Secretary of State] Dean Rusk and [Defense Secretary] Robert McNamara.”  The FBI immediately launched a deep investigation into the inexplicably heavy losses at the Nuclear Materials and Equipment Corporation NUMEC in Pennsylvania and the highly suspicious activities and Israeli connections of the Americans running it.  The CIA was tasked to find out what was going on in Israel, and compiledthousands of documents about the incident. (PDF) Although CIA officials in a position to know unofficially went on record claiming a diversion had occurred, for decades the CIA has thwarted declassification and release of the LBJ memos.  On October18, 2013 the only appeals panel with the power to overrule the CIA—the Interagency Security Classification Appeals PanelI SCAP—sent notification that Americans are not yet ready to know the contents of the memos (ISCAP decision PDF). This denial of public release of decades-old secrets concerning U.S.-Israel relations is far from unique.  Although the Obama administration promised unprecedented transparency, it has emasculated the public’s ability to give informed consent on a wide range of key foreign policy issues. A review of ten particularly toxic U.S. secrets about Israel suggests stakeholders should start assuming the worst but most logical explanation.

In 2006 former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld famously told reporters at an Iraq war briefing “There are known knowns. These are things we know that we know. There are known unknowns. That is to say, there are things that we know we don’t know. But there are also unknown unknowns. There are things we don’t know we don’t know.”  Bush administration secrecy and Rumsfeld’s pithy quotes failed to quell gradual public awareness that the ill-fated invasion was launched on purposely fabricated pretexts.  And yet the Iraq debacle could have been avoided if Americans had been better informed over time how government truly functions through greater access to the fourth category leftunmentioned by Rumsfeld:  “unknown knowns.” 

“Unknown knowns” are the paradigm-shifting bits of information known only by a select few in government but kept from their fellow American citizens because they would reveal indefensible, secret policies and institution-level corruption that favor a special interest.  By locking “unknown knowns” under heavy guard in document archives, covering them in secrecy classification stamps and making an example out of whistleblowers who release them without authorization, busy bureaucrats with the highest security clearances maintain a vast  and growing trove of “unknown knowns.”  Historians and watchdog organizations are continually thwarted in their mandate tocontextualize and educate the public about relevant past events that could deeply inform the governed—and ultimately improve governance.  Senator Carl Schurz said, “My country right or wrong, if right, to be kept right, and if wrong, to be set right.” “Unknown knowns” obliterate the public’s ability to execute the latter two-thirds of that sage advice. 

Even the passage of time does not guarantee “unknown knowns” ever become “known knowns.”   Under current government records preservation guidelines—particularly for information that researchers are not actively seeking to declassify—some “unknown knowns” quietly become “unknown unknowns” as they decay, are physically destroyed, erased or “lost.” Manyknowledgeable former officials take their secrets to the grave. As a product of the ill-gotten power and influence of the Israel lobby, the pile of “unknown knowns” about U.S.-Israel policy is particularly large. Curious Americans who rightfully question official narratives about the U.S.-Israel “special relationship” have often requested “unknown knowns” under the Freedom of Information Act.  Former government insiders who know firsthand about explosive secrets often seek their public release to alertothers using the Mandatory Declassification Review, even requesting documents by name, subject, location, author and date.  Aftersuch “unknown knowns” (like the LBJ memos) are unsuccessfully sought for decades by multiple researchers, well-warrantedsuspicions arise about the reasons behind the impermeable government wall of refusal.  The following ten US-Israel policy “unknown knowns” suggest the Israel lobby’s ongoing corrupt power is the only possible explanation for why they are still secret.

1. Henry Morgenthau Jr‘s Israel policy is the stuff of legend in accounts about the birth of Israel. Some researchers claim that FDR’s former Treasury Secretary was present at the original 1945 meeting of American Zionists with Jewish Agency executive director David Ben-Gurion to set up the massive Haganah smuggling network to steal, illegally buy and smuggle surplus WWII arms from the U.S. to Jewish fighters in Palestine.  (report PDF)  This was the first major broadly organized Israel lobby challenge to U.S. sovereignty.  It successfully overrode American policy enshrined in neutrality and arms export laws.  Others claim Morgenthau was also instrumental in the illicit financing Israel’s clandestine nuclear weapons program in direct opposition to policy set by American presidents. 

The FBI’s dusty 10,000 page file on Morgenthau, numbered 105-HQ-188123 (the 105 code signifies “foreign counterintelligence”) including intercepts to Morgenthau from Israel, could finally clear up many of these allegations, especially when compared to current research.  Although the FBI—after a process that began in 2010—in September 2013 claims it has fully declassified the Morgenthau file, censors have blanked out nearly every page with a paint-roller of black ink (sample PDF).  How do high officials with strong ties to Israel and its lobby who are politically appointed to the U.S. Treasury Department flout U.S. laws with their own foreign-coordinated foreign policy movements?  The FBI and Justice Department do not believe Americans are quite yet ready to know.

2. Eisenhower and the Lavon Affair.  In 1954, the Israeli government launched its “Operation Susannah” false flag terrorist attack on U.S. facilities in Egypt.  Israel’s operatives were quickly arrested when bombs exploded prematurely.  The operation’s utter failure resulted in a political crisis known as the Lavon Affair.  President Dwight D. Eisenhower, periodically swarmed by American Zionist Council lobbyists urging him to send money and arms to Israel, must have learned some very hard lessons about U.S.-Israel relations from the incident.  Yet the Eisenhower presidential archive—which is not subject to FOIA—has never released anything revelatory about the administration’s reaction to the attempted false flag attack.  A narrow request for such files yielded only a single non-specific declassified opinion that the commander-in-chief believed the Israelis were “fanatics.” (National Security Council PDF) Yet the false flag operation’s objective, attacking to keep U.S. troops stationed in the Suez Canal Zone to respond to “Egyptian militants,” seemed entirely rational to Israel, and possibly to some of its U.S. supporters who struggled for years afterwards to minimize the importance of the affair.  Today Eisenhower library archivists claim that huge quantities of Eisenhower’s papers are still “unprocessed,” but may hold some private reflections or lessons learned. 

 

3. Israeli theft of nuclear material from NUMEC.  In 2013, the CIA continues to resist release of thousands of files about the NUMEC diversion by referring to CIA Deputy Director for Operations John H. Stein’s secret decision in 1979 (2013 FOIA denial PDF).  Stein claimed that release of even a few of CIA’s closely-held files—especially if they were compared with Science Advisor of the Interior Commission Henry Meyer’s blunt allegations (PDF) to Congressman Morris Udall in 1979 that NUMEC was an Israeli smuggling front—was impossible “because of the need to have a coordinated Executive Branch position and our desire to protect a sensitive and valuable liaison equity.”  In plain English, that appears to mean Americans still cannot have official CIA confirmation of the uranium theft because the U.S. president would have to drop the ongoing nonsense of “strategic ambiguity” and forego intelligence Israel is funneling to America.

4. FBI files of Israeli (but not Russian) spies Russia’s dashing red-headed spy, Anna Chapman, was arrested in 2010 and sent packing back Russia.  Any interested American can now watch Chapman’s moves in surveillance videos and read the FBI counterintelligence files.  Not so with most of Israel’s top spies who targeted American economic, nuclear and national defense infrastructure.  America is still crawling with Israeli spies (our “constant companion” according to intelligence expert Jeff Stein).  The 2010 revelations of nuclear equipment smuggling from Telogy (prohibited export smuggling PDF) in California and Stewart Nozette’s 1998-2008 Israel Aerospace Industries-funded penetrations of classified U.S. information storehouses around Washington reveal that while Israeli spying has never stopped, secret prosecution strategies now emphasize quietly rolling up Israeli operations via industry regulators,fines and penalties or isolating and entrapping American spies on lesser charges but steering around their Israeli handlers. 

Unlike its treatment of information requests about Russian spies, the FBI and Justice Department have denied every individual FOIA request for the files of major Israeli spies.  Access to Rafael Eitan’s many harmful exploits against U.S. targets are banned from release unless Eitan personally waives his privacy rights (FOIA denial).  The FBI claimed it can no longer find files about deceased nuclear espionage mastermind Avraham Hermoni, even though his name appears across many previously released NUMEC files  (FOIA denial PDF).  Flooding from Hurricane Sandy is the excuse the FBI gives for not being able to find files on spy-for-Israel Ben Ami-Kadish (Flood FOIA denial PDF).  One might argue it is merely a series of unfortunate events that keepsIsraeli spy files out of public hands, except that the Justice Department has now issued a blanket ban on declassifying any files about the FBI’s decades-long counterintelligence tango with Israel’s Mossad. (Justice Department blanket denial PDF).

The results of the Justice Department’s kid-glove approach to Israel propagates into mandatory counterintelligence reports to Congress.  Although Israel unambiguously ranked as a top economic and national defense intelligence threat in past assessments ofagencies like the Office of National Counterintelligence Executive, because criminal prosecution strategies toward Israel (throughnot Iran, Russia or China) have been undermined from within, Israel has disappeared from the most current reports.

 5. Jonathan J. Pollard’s most heinous crime. Israel’s only American spy ever to do serious time in jail—despite the best efforts of his many American and Israeli supporters to spring him—once confidently claimed before he was convicted that “…it was the established policy of the Department of Justice not to prosecute U.S. citizens for espionage activities on behalf of Israel.”  Many believe it was only Defense Secretary Casper Weinberger’s classified briefing to sentencing Judge Aubry Robinson that made Pollard the near sole exception to that curious rule.

Some Pentagon insiders and national security reporters believe Pollard’s sentence was so harsh because Israel used stolen U.S. intelligence as “trade goods” with the Soviet Union to increase Russian émigrés to Israel.   As Pollard’s sentence draws to a close, few know exactly what Weinberger told Robinson that caused him to deliver a life sentence.  The recent partial releases of a CIA damage assessment and a DIA videoabout Pollard shed little light. 

In 2010, the Department of Defense disclaimed all ownership of the still-classified “Weinberger declaration” passing the FOIA ball to the Justice Department’s Criminal Division (FOIA transfer PDF).   In a novel approach, the Executive Office of US Attorneys now claims that it cannot find its own copy but that FOIA does not require EOUSA FOIA officers to travel two blocks to the DC District Court to retrieve a sealed copy of the memorandum for review (FOIA denial PDF) or even ask DOD for a copy.  The National Archives and Records Administration Office of Government Information Services OGIS agrees that there is no “duty for agencies to retrieve records that are not physically present in their own files.” Although the 2008 case of Ben-Ami Kadish proves the Pollard espionage ring was much larger than was publicly disclosed in the late 1980s, the FBI has also not allowed release of its Jonathan Pollard investigation files (FOIA denial PDF) for overdue public review of how the investigation might have—like many others—been short-circuited by the Department of Justice because it involved Israel.

6. Wiretap of AIPAC pushing for a US war on Iran. When AIPACexecutives Keith Weissman and Steven J. Rosen dialed up Washington Post reporter Glenn Kessler in 2004, they were determined to leverage purloined classified U.S. national defense information into a story that Iran was engaged in “total war” against the US in Iraq. FBI special agents played audio intercepts of their pitch to AIPAC’s legal counsel and AIPAC promptly fired the pair to distance itself from activities it had long supported.  Rosen and Weisman were later indicted under the Espionage Act, although the case was later quashed under an intense Israel lobby pressure campaign shortly after President Obama entered office.

What exactly did AIPAC’s two officials tell the Washington Post in its unrelenting drive to gin up a U.S. war with Iran?  A decade later, the U.S. Department of Justice doesn’t believe the American public is entitled to hear a tape long ago played to AIPAC’s lawyer Nathan Lewin, even as AIPAC continues to agitate for more wars. (MDR denial PDF)

 7. Niger uranium forgery underwriters. Although Ike may or may not have worried much about the implications of Operation Susannah, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee certainly did.  A secret memo touched off years of Senate and Justice Department investigations into Israel lobbying over fears that American operatives might engage in other overseas clandestine provocations aimed at duping the U.S. into ill-advised conflicts that would benefit Israel (the short memo references the Lavon affair twice). The Iraq war proves those fears were well-founded.

Many have long suspected that the Niger uranium forgeries, fake documents the Bush administration trumpeted to falsely accuse Iraq of buying uranium from Africa for nuclear weapons, were chartered by American neoconservatives in order to provide a pretext  they desperately needed for war.  Perhaps the FBI’s investigation into the matter definitively proves it.  However, despite years of requests for the 1,000 pages of that investigation, the FBI after initially duly proceeding with a FOIA,has now suddenly clammed up. (Niger uranium denial PDF)

8. Israel lobbyists embedded in the Treasury and Justice Departments. Israel lobbying organizations have been very effective at embedding their operatives in key positions across the Federal government, such as Stuart Levey in the Treasury Department’s economic warfare unit, or former AIPAC director Tom Dine as a contractor at the floundering US government-funded Arabic-language broadcaster Alhurra. It used to be possible to get a phone directory or conduct a comprehensive audit of which key political appointees (and the people they brought in) were running critical divisions of federal agencies by obtaining detailed Office of Personnel Management and other public records.  Not anymore.  (FOIA response PDF) Leveraging heightened post-911 sensitivities, the US Treasury Department now claims the same protections against disclosure formerly enjoyed only by intelligence agency employees.

Since the 1940s, the U.S. Department of Justice has earned a reputation as a place where Israel lobby criminal investigations go to die.  Justice is also where an AIPAC official like Neil Sher can while away a few years on pet projects at taxpayer expense before moving on to more lucrative outsidework.  DOJ also routinely denies files about its past official decisions not to pursue criminal cases on the basis that doing so could jeopardize privacy, ongoing investigations, or factors underlying its coveted “prosecutorial discretion” (e.g. charging the disenfranchised but not powerful insiders for wrongdoing). Like Treasury, it is now almost impossible to survey and produce an organization chart of the Israel lobby’s political appointees embedded at high and mid-level Justice Department posts or the biographies of the staff  and contractors they bring in with them. 

9. Unclassified IDA report about US charities funding the Israeli nuclear weapons program.Sensitive reports need not be classified for the government to hang on to them indefinitely.  In 1987 the Institute for Defense Analyses delivered an unclassified report to the Department of Defense titled “Critical Technology Issues in Israel.”  The study implicates the Israeli Weizmann Institute for Science and Technology in nuclear weapons research, raising deep questions about the group’s U.S. tax-exempt charitable fundraising and U.S. commitment to enforce the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. The Department of Defense withheld the IDA report from release on the basis of FOIA exemptions covering trade secrets and “intra-agency communications protected by the deliberative process privilege,” among others. (FOIA denial PDF)

10. Justification for NSA funneling raw intelligence on Americans to Israel. If former NSA contractor Edward Snowden has taught Americans anything, it is that “unknown knowns” are usually even worse than many might have first imagined.  Some careful observers knew about massive NSA surveillance, while others alerted the public about the danger of “backdoor” U.S. intelligence flows to Israel.  But who ever suspected the NSA was shipping wholesale raw intercepts gathered on Americans to Israel under a secret deal struck in 2009?  No government that wholly denies such relevant information can claim legitimacy via consent of the governed.   There can be little doubt why these ten files are kept closed: it serves the Israel lobby.  The means by which this closure is sustained is also no secret.  The millions of dollars that line politician’s pockets, promote media pundits and quietlyspirit political appointees into key gatekeeper positions maintain closed files and prevent informed public debate.  

Because of this, Americans should proceed assuming the worst conceivable, most logical explanation for any given U.S.-Israel “unknown known” is correct—until proven otherwise.  Under this guideline, it is prudent to believe that LBJ—properly warned by his intelligence services and advisors that Israel was stealing the most precious military material on earth from America—was simply too marinated in Israel lobby campaign cash to faithfully uphold his oath of office. It is similarly reasonable to believe the Justice Department and FBI won’t release Israeli spy files because Americans would finally understand that, despite massive ongoing harm to America, political appointees in the Justice Department thwart warranted prosecutions.  DOJ finds it much easier to stay “on message”through a long line of lobby-approved but mostly bogus”Islamic terrorism cases” (many made via sketchy undercover informants goading members of targeted minority communities into “terror” plots). According to its own records, every time ittried to uphold the law in the 1940s the DOJ suddenly found itself internally and externally swarmed by Israel lobbyists with inexhaustible financial war chests and legal expertsworking to quash warranted prosecutions in secret coordination with Israel.  The DOJ now likely believes it can never win against Israel lobby generated media and political agitation when it moves to prosecute, and has now simply given up.

It is logical to assume that Israel was found selling out America to the Soviets in Pollard’s case, since little else explains theunusually harsh impact of Weinberger’s secret memo.  It is similarly likely that the FBI’s AIPAC wiretaps would, if released today,accurately reveal Rosen and Weissman to be what they actually were—unregistered foreign agents operating on behalf of and in ongoing contact with the Israeli government rather than legitimate domestic lobbyists.  It is similarly more productive to assumethat at least one neoconservative operative with strong ties to the involved entities in Italy—such as Michael Ledeen—served as barker to the Italian sideshow that disseminated forged documents.  

According to documents released by Edward Snowden, the transfer of raw NSA intercepts on American citizens to Israel was authorized under a secret doctrine that “the survival of the state of Israel is a paramount goal of US Middle East policy.”  This”prime directive” was probably a secret because it is a blank check obligating American blood and treasure to a cause American citizens never approved via advise and consent.  But why did the Obama administration—even as it dismissed espionage charges against AIPAC staff in 2009—so deeply betray American privacy?  Under “unknown known” doctrine, most would assume that like LBJ before him, Obama sold out America because his Israel lobby handlers secretly demanded and paid for it on behalf of a foreign country.  What other goodies Obama doled out to Israel in exchange for help gaining the highest office remain to emerge.

The official process for obtaining official public disclosure of “uknown knowns”—the Freedom of Information Act—does not function when the stakes in disclosure are high and Israeli interests are involved.  Agencies (and ISCAP) correctly perceive government credibility is at stake when there is real openness, and that bona fide transparency would positively impact how government behaves.  Visibly corrupt federal government officials and institutions are counting on continued secrecy to accumulate illegitimate power by undermining public accountability.

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| Gayness -vs- Paedophilia: Renowned Gay Writer on FBI’s Ten Most Wanted List CAPTURED!

The Strange Case of Walter Lee Williams: Renowned Gay Writer on FBI’s Ten Most Wanted List Captured ~, Lambda Literary. 

On Tuesday, June 18 the FBI added Walter Lee Williams, 64, to its Ten Most Wanted List. Williams was being sought for sexual exploitation of children, travel with intent to engage in illicit sexual conduct, engaging in illicit sexual conduct in foreign places and criminal forfeiture, according to a Department of Justice statement.

Williams story is lurid and difficult to fathom. A renowned gay academic, writer and archivist, Williams was a Fulbright Scholar with a substantial and impressive resume. Now he’s in custody, facing up to 100 years in prison. Video of Williams being taken, in handcuffs, through LAX airport in Los Angeles shows a gray-haired man, bent over at the waist, trying to avert his face from photographers. It’s a very different look from a photo taken two years ago in the Philippines showing a tanned and relaxed Williams reclining on a boat with some young men.

Less than 24 hours after Williams had been added to the FBI list, he was arrested in Playa del Carmen, a pretty little resort town in eastern Mexico, while drinking coffee near a local café. Williams was caught unaware, according to police. He was taken back to his house in Cancun, and from there to the police station. Late Wednesday, June 19, he was deported back to the U.S. where he will be arraigned in Los Angeles.

A Los Angeles police department spokesperson said Williams was turned in by a Mexican citizen who recognized him from the FBI photo. A $100,000 reward was offered for his capture.

The sordid criminal tale began in January 2011, when Williams fled the U.S. for Mexico. Williams had returned only a week earlier from a trip to the Philippines where the FBI says he had gone to meet two 14-year-old boys for sex.

According to LAPD Assistant Chief Michel Moore, the LAPD had been alerted that Williams was trolling for minor boys on the Internet to have sex with in 2010. Moore said a student of Williams’ had contacted police after a series of conversations online. The student is not a minor. But at that time, Moore said, there was “insufficient evidence for a warrant,” so even though the police were suspicious, they could only watch Williams.

Williams made that relatively easy. In January 2011 he went to the Philippines, allegedly to have sex with two boys, both 14, with whom he was already engaging in Internet webcam sex.

The trip to the Philippines provided the turning point. The FBI was waiting for Williams. They confiscated his laptop computer which allegedly had photos of minors in sexual situations as well as “evidence of sex crimes with boys overseas.”

Williams was questioned by the FBI and after learning he was being investigated on suspicion of engaging in sex with children and acquiring and making child pornography, he fled across the border to Mexico immediately after being questioned.

According to the FBI, a strong case was built against Williams based on numerous statements. Williams was indicted and a federal warrant for his arrest was issued earlier this year. The FBI contacted at least ten alleged victims who ranged in age from nine to 17. All the victims were boys in different Asian countries. None were American. The FBI is still investigating to see if Williams has victims in Mexico, and have requested that victims in the U.S. come forward as well, believing that there are victims in the Los Angeles area. Both the FBI and the LAPD have made statements describing Williams as a serial predator.

The FBI describes the hunt for Williams as “piecing together the pieces of a puzzle.” But part of the puzzle is the nagging question of whether Williams entire career charting different native groups was, as the FBI asserts, just a means to prey on young boys of color in poverty-stricken areas of the U.S. and other countries.

Williams’ story is a tale of two identities: respected professor and indicted serial pedophile.

Until he fled the U.S. to escape indictment, Williams was a tenured professor at the University of Southern California (USC). His LinkedIn profile states he is a professor of Anthropology, History and Gender Studies. He also taught Transgender Studies. An ethnographer, Williams’ resume lists traveling throughout the American Southwest to study Native American tribes, notably the Cherokee and Sioux, as well as travel in Asia and South America. Williams describes one of his areas of research as “sexuality of the South Pacific.”

Williams is the founding editor of the International Gay and Lesbian Review, “the first academic journal to be published entirely on the Internet”(gaybookreviews.info), as well as a dozen books. His most recent book, Spirit of the Pacific, was published in February by Lethe Press. The novel’s cover copy reads, in part:

This is the story of Eddie Freeman, an African American slave from South Carolina, who escaped slavery in 1860… Eddie was attracted to his own sex, and in 21st century nomenclature would be called gay. But in his day he was just a young man trying to find love and give affection….This is a story about learning to transcend the polarities of slave and free, sacred and profane, love and hate, human and animal.

Lethe publisher Steve Berman told me that “Lethe feels it is the responsible action to pull Walter’s books from distribution until legal issues become clear.”

Another Lethe publication by Williams, a well-received novel of historical fiction, Two Spirits: The Story of Life with the Navajo, was published in 2005.

Berman had posted on Facebook immediately after Williams went on the most wanted list:

I just want to go on record stating that Toby Johnson and I are aware of the situation with Walter L. Williams. I made sure to contact the FBI this morning [June 18] and have had a couple conversations with agents. Lethe has stopped distributing the print editions of Williams’ books and will be doing the same with electronic versions (which takes a bit longer as there are more venues). Obviously, we were very much surprised to hear about the situation.

Johnson did not respond to a request for comment.

What’s difficult to imagine is how Williams explained his sudden move to Mexico—leaving his job at USC literally overnight, right before the beginning of the spring semester—and what he told friends and colleagues.

Williams’ bio in Spirit of the Pacific states that Williams founded ONE National Gay and Lesbian Archives, which is “the world’s largest collection of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender materials.” The bio also states that Williams is the co-founder and chair of the Committee on Lesbian and Gay History for the American Historical Association and that he is an officer of the Society of Lesbian and Gay Anthropologists.

How did Williams explain he would be handling these roles from Mexico—forever?

Williams’ academic treatise, The Spirit and the Flesh: Sexual Diversity in American Indian Culture, published in 1988won the Gay Book of the Year Award from the American Library Association, The Ruth Benedict Award from the Society of Lesbian and Gay Anthropologists, and the Award for Outstanding Scholarship from the World Congress for Sexology. The book was widely reviewed and a revised edition was released from Beacon Press in 1992.

Yet over the two decades since that work was published, Williams is alleged to have used his research as a cover to travel to countries where child prostitution is common.

The FBI’s initial report alleges that Williams used his research as an excuse for traveling throughout Southeast Asia—notably Thailand and the Philippines where he would lure young boys with money and gifts. The FBI stated, “Williams has an extensive history of travel throughout the Southeast Asia region, specifically the Philippines.” The FBI also stated that Williams had lived for extended periods in Indonesia, Polynesia, and Thailand. Williams’ academic bio notes that he taught English as a second language in these countries and has a blog called Easy English Learning.

According to the United Nations, UNICEF and HumanTrafficking.org, a human rights group, Thailand is the world’s sexual tourism center. There are 2.8 million sex workers in Thailand, 40 percent of whom are children. Of the tourists who visit Thailand, 70 percent are Western men who have traveled there to have sex with prostitutes, especially minors. In February, ABC News “Nightline” team investigated Americans in the Philippines engaged in sex trafficking of minors.

Williams was allegedly able to have Internet webcam sex sessions with the two boys he went several thousand miles to see. But while prostitution is largely ignored in Thailand—where it is a thriving business, even though it’s illegal—in the Philippines, prostitution is illegal and prosecuted harshly. If these allegations are true, Williams was taking quite a risk, going to the Philippines for child prostitutes.

As the Williams case unfolds, more is likely to be revealed about his supposed involvement with other boys as well as what others knew about his activities. In the meantime, because of Williams’ background as a respected academic who was openly gay and involved in myriad LGBT organizations as well as teaching Gender Studies, a major story in the news might be conflating gay and pedophile—a conflation the LGBTQ community has tried for decades to refute.

 

[Photo: William Lee Williams via FBI]

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MAN FREE

truth free

| Truth: The Manning Trial’s Real Defendant!

The Manning Trial’s Real Defendant ~ Daniel C. Maguire, Consortiumnews.

Exclusive: The trial of Pvt. Bradley Manning for leaking classified documents is a test of values in the American Republic. The case pits a democracy’s need for knowledge against the government’s insistence on secrecy, a moral balancing act assessed by religious ethicist Daniel C. Maguire.

Bradley Manning is the accused but the real question is who is guilty, the accuser or the accused, the truth-teller or the secrecy-keeper, Private Manning or the U.S. government? In this case Manning is charged with truth-telling portrayed as a criminal act.

Intrinsic to a democracy is the tension between openness and concealment. In fairness to the government, truth-telling may be treacherous, even criminal. But in fairness to Private Manning, truth-telling may be an act of heroic patriotism.

Protesters outside Ft. Meade, Maryland, the site of Pvt. Bradley Manning’s court martial for leaking classified material.

The ethical definition of a lie tells why truth-telling is not always a virtue: A lie is when you deny the truth to someone who has a right to it.

Someone who was bringing food to Anne Frank and her family every day is asked by the Gestapo if he knows the whereabouts of the Frank Family. He replies “no” and he even adds his impression that the family left Amsterdam a long time ago. All of that is false, but is it a lie? No, because the Gestapo had no right to the truth regarding the Frank family. Falsiloquium (speaking falsely) is not alwaysmendacium (a lie.) Secrecy and concealment may be necessary to save lives.

In ethics this is called an issue of “supervening value.” In other words, ethics is a venue of competing values. Life-saving is more important than truth-telling in the Gestapo case. Telling the truth to the Gestapo would have been a lethal and immoral act.

When Truth-telling Is Right Even If Illegal

Bradley Manning is not charged with lying; he is charged with truth-telling. The central issue is whether the public has a right to know of war crimes committed by its government. A temptation to despotism lurks in every democratic society; it puts the burden of proof on the whistleblower, not on the classifier especially in matters military. In practice, the whistleblower is presumed guilty (especially if it is clear he violated the letter of a law) and the classifier enjoys an unmerited presumption of innocence..

The assumption is that the classifier saves lives while the whistleblower imperils them, but the very opposite may be and often is the truth. Excessive secrecy takes the leash off the dogs of war and people die unnecessarily.

It is a cliché that truth is the first casualty in war. For that reason, the Founders reserved the right to go to war (and to continue a war) to the Congress. James Madison said that “in no part of the Constitution is more wisdom to be found.” The insight of the Framers was that truth is more likely to be served in the branch of government where open debate isde rigueur.

Truth is more likely to get out and the vox populi is more likely to be informed and heard. That is why, as Professor Bruce Russett has shown, democracies win their wars as much as 80 percent of the time since more truth gets into the cost-benefits analysis that leads to a democratic declaration of war.

The ruling principle is this: There is never a time when citizens should be more informed than when their government is killing people in their name.

Declaring war according to the Constitution has been out of vogue since December 1941. This trashing of the Constitution subverts cleansing transparency and – given the misguided war choices emanating from the Executive Branch since then – post-World War II history vindicates the wisdom of the Founders.

“Debacle,” not “victory,” is applicable to our undeclared military expeditions in Korea, Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan. That sorry record owes more to excessive secrecy than to speakers of truth. And now the history of war has turned a corner with the entrance of drones, and again secrecy is dominant, possibly to be institutionalized in a “secret court” which will decide mob-style on who is to be whacked.

Bradley Manning is being tried in a culture that makes a fair trial all but impossible. The reigning jurisprudence – especially in military courts but also in the court of uninformed public opinion – has given the hegemony to secrecy and concealment. The crime of cover-up has been normalized and the truth-teller, like the truth, must be imprisoned.

The arguments in any trial are like waves. What counts are the tides of assumptions that undergird and control the proceedings. A history of hegemonic secrecy beclouds this j’accuse and Private Manning like the young biblical David faces formidable odds. Silence in the face of this makes citizens complicit in the cover-up of crimes against children, women and men who are the bloodied victims of our shrouded militarized foreign policy.

Whistle-blowing as Civil Service

Bradley Manning does not stand alone on the honor roll of patriotic whistleblowers and the good effects of his courageous act are just beginning to ripple out into history. Others have gone before him on this noble path. FBI historian Richard Fid Powers wrote in his book Broken: The Troubled Past and Uncertain Future of the FBI:

“The FBI’s power to conduct secret operations depended on its absolute freedom from any inquiry into its internal operations. On the night of March 8, 1971, that changed forever. A group calling itself the Citizens Commission to Investigate the FBI broke into the FBI resident agency in Media, Pennsylvania. The burglars were never caught.”

In witness to the fevered passion for secrecy, J Edgar Hoover launched the largest hunt in the history of the FBI, involving as many as 200 agents. That hunt failed but the noble burglary did not. It influenced the strengthening of the Freedom of Information Act in 1974 leading to the release of thousands of secret FBI documents. The FBI’s secret harassment of dissenters to the Vietnam War was exposed to disinfectant sunlight.

Military injustice may imprison Bradley Manning for revealing the crimes of our wars but Bradley Manning has served this nation, and the world, by showing again, as the Bible put it, that “you shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free.”(John 8:32)

Daniel C. Maguire, a professor of religious ethics at Marquette University, is author of Ethics: A Complete Method for Moral ChoiceFortress Press, 2010.

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scapegoat A

BS C

| Islamophobia: The FBI’s anticipatory prosecution of Muslims to criminalize speech!

The FBI’s anticipatory prosecution of Muslims to criminalize speech ~

    • guardian.co.uk.

      _____________________________________________________________

      A court ruling in one of the most abusive prosecutions yet highlights the dangers posed by this familiar tactic.
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Hayat

US-born Hamid Hayat was sentenced to 24 years in prison for allegedly attending a terrorist training camp when he was 19 Photograph: AP

One of the major governmental abuses denounced by the 1976 final report of the Church Committee was the FBI’s domestic counter intelligence programs (COINTELPRO). Under that program, the FBI targeted political groups and individuals it deemed subversive and dangerous – including civil rights activists (such as the NAACP and Martin Luther King), black nationalist movements, socialist and communist organizations, anti-war protesters, and various right-wing groups – and infiltrated them with agents who, among other things, attempted to manipulate members into agreeing to commit criminal acts so that the FBI could arrest and prosecute them. This program was exposed only because a left-wing group, the so-called “Citizens’ Commission to Investigate the FBI“, broke into an FBI office in Pennsylvania, stole the files relating to the program, and sent them to various newspapers.

What made the program so controversial was that the FBI was attempting to create and encourage crimes rather than find actual criminals – all in order to punish those whose constitutionally protected political activism the US government found threatening. As Noam Chomsky wrote in a comprehensive 1999 article on the program: “During these years, FBI provocateurs repeatedly urged and initiated violent acts, including forceful disruption of meetings and demonstrations on and off university campuses, attacks on police, bombings, and so on.” Once the program was exposed, FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover insisted that there was no centralized authority for it and that it had ended, while the Church Committee’s final report made clear just how illegal and threatening it was:

church committee. . .

church committee. . . .

church committee. . . .

church committee.

Please re-read those last two highlighted sentences, as this is exactly what is happening again now: systematically and without much notice. Over the past decade, US Muslims have been routinely targeted with precisely this same tactic of preemptive or anticipatory prosecution. It’s all designed to take people engaged in political and religious advocacy which the US government dislikes – usually very young and impressionable Muslims with zero criminal history, though increasingly non-Muslims engaged in other forms of dissent – and use paid informants to trick them into saying just enough to turn them into criminals who are then prosecuted and imprisoned for decades.

The same pattern repeats itself over and over. The FBI ensnares some random Muslim in a garden-variety criminal investigation involving financial fraud or drugs. Rather than prosecute him, the FBI puts the Muslim criminal suspect on its payroll, sending him into Muslim communities and mosques in order not only to spy on American Muslims, but to befriend them and then actively manipulate them into saying just enough to make their prosecution possible. At times, the FBI’s informants have been so unstable and aggressive in trying to recruit members to join Terrorist plots that the targeted mosque members themselves have reported the informant to the FBI. Time and again, at the direction of these paid provocateurs who know that their ongoing payments depend upon enabling prosecutions, young Muslims in their late teens or early twenties end up saying something hostile about the US and/or statements that are otherwise politically offensive.

The DOJ takes those inflammatory political statements and combines them with evidence of commitment to Islam to depict the target as a dangerous jihadist. They use the same small set of government-loyal “terrorism experts”who earn an ample living testifying for the government and telling juries that unremarkable indicia of Islam are “typical” of Terrorists. Federal judges, notorious for subservience to the government in cases involving Muslims and Terrorism, go out of their way to allow even the most dubious government evidence while excluding the huge bulk of the defendant’s.

Federal prosecutors use this combination to convince a jury of Americans – inculcated with more than a decade of intense Islamophobic propaganda – to convict the defendants under “material support for terrorism” statutes even though they have harmed nobody and have taken no real steps toward doing so. The case is based overwhelmingly on the political and religious beliefs of the defendants, which are enough to convince Americans jurors that they are Bad People. These convictions not only result in decades of prison, but incarceration in special facilities reserved mostly for Muslims that, in most respects, are as restrictive and oppressive as those found at Guantanamo.

There have been several excellent articles reporting on how pervasive this FBI tactic has become, including this Mother Jones article by Trevor Aaronson andthis Nation story by Petra Bartosiewicz. Both the Guardian and the Washington Post have reported on some of the worst abuses. I’ve written about various cases on several occasions. And one truly great organization, the National Coalition to Protect Civil Freedoms, has devoted itself to chronicling and battling against this assault. As Bartosiewicz reported:

“Nearly every major post-9/11 terrorism-related prosecution has involved a sting operation, at the center of which is a government informant. In these cases, the informants — who work for money or are seeking leniency on criminal charges of their own — have crossed the line from merely observing potential criminal behavior to encouraging and assisting people to participate in plots that are largely scripted by the FBI itself. Under the FBI’s guiding hand, the informants provide the weapons, suggest the targets and even initiate the inflammatory political rhetoric that later elevates the charges to the level of terrorism.”

Like most abusive post-9/11 trends, this tactic is now stronger than ever: “there have been 138 terrorism or national security prosecutions involving informants since 2001, and more than a third of those have occurred in the past three years.”

As common as this tactic has become, it’s vital to look at particularly egregious cases to see what is really at play. This week, a panel of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, by a 2-1 decision, affirmed the 2005 “material support” conviction of US-born Hamid Hayat, and it’s one of the worst yet most illustrative cases yet (that’s US justice: he was convicted 8 years ago, and his appeal is only now decided). Hayat was convicted for allegedly having attended “a terrorist training camp” when he was 19 years old. In the Sacramento Bee this week, Stanford Law Professor Shirin Sinnar wrote: “Even among anticipatory prosecutions, this case stands out for the fragility of the government’s case and the rank taint of prejudice, raising the haunting prospect that a man who had done nothing was convicted for a violent state of mind.”

Notably, the dissenting judge was A. Wallace Tashima, the first Japanese-American appointed to the federal bench; he was imprisoned during World War II in an internment camp in Arizona. As Professor Sinnar observed: “Perhaps as a Japanese American who was interned as a child, he remembered well the danger of preventative security measures founded on group-based judgments.” In dissent, Judge Tashima wrote: “This case is a stark demonstration of the unsettling and untoward consequences of the government’s use of anticipatory prosecution as a weapon in the ‘war on terrorism.'” He then described anticipatory prosecutions and explained why they are so dangerous:

hayat case. . .

hayat ruling.

hayat rulingThe evidence that Hayat attended a “terrorist training camp” came from a government informant, Nassem Kahn, who was originally arrested by the FBI as part of money laundering scheme. But rather then prosecute Kahn, he was paid between $3,000 and $4,000 per month – as the dissent said, “more than $200,000 by the FBI” total – to infiltrate a local mosque in Lodi, California. That is how he befriended the then-19-year-old Hayat and began trying to induce him into criminal conduct. Desperate to maintain his payments, Kahn outright fabricated stories in order to show his value, including claims – which even the FBI acknowledged were false – that he had on several occasions seen al-Qaida’s then-second-highest official, Ayman al Zawahiri, at the Lodi mosque.

Over the course of hundreds of hours of recorded conversations, Kahn actively encouraged Hayat to attend a terrorist camp in Pakistan. At one point, he even mocked the youth for failing to do so, and on another, told Hayat that he had spoken to Hayat’s father who wanted him to go to the camp:

“Hayat traveled with his family to Pakistan in April 2003. Two of the recorded conversations took place when he was there. Like the earlier conversations, they covered a wide range of topics. On one occasion, Khan scolded Hayat for being lazy and not going to a training camp. In response, Hayat protested that the camp was closed during hot weather and that had the camp been open, he ‘would have been there.’ On another occasion,Khan relayed to Hayat a conversation in which Hayat’s father explained that ‘[Hayat wi]ll enter the Madrassah, and, God Willing, he [will] go for training!’ Hayat responded to Khan: ‘Um-hmm. . . . No problem, absolutely.’ (Underlined portion spoken in English).”

Remarkably, the judge allowed Kahn to testify that Hayat told him that he attended a camp, but then refused to allow Hayat’s lawyers to ask Kahn about the fact that Hayat eventually told him that he never intended to go to a camp and was simply lying out of bravado. That is one major factor that caused Judge Tashima to insist that the conviction must be reversed:

“The prosecution was allowed to introduce inculpatory out-of-court statements Hayat made to Khan, but the defense was prevented from eliciting testimony regarding Hayat’s exculpatory out-of-court statements made in the same conversation. . . . . The district court’s exclusion of a crucial exculpatory statement made under identical conditions and contemporaneously with the inculpatory statement was grossly unfair. . . . This seriously calls into question the fairness and integrity of the proceedings.”

Worse, the prosecution was allowed to introduce “expert testimony” telling the jury that “a particular kind of person would carry” a “supplication” prayer written in Arabic that was found in Hayat’s wallet: namely, “a person who perceives him or herself as being engaged in war for God against an enemy”. As bad as it was to allow such blanket “expert testimony” about his likely state of mind based on a prayer in his wallet, the judge then excluded Hayat’s own expert witness who would have testified that such a prayer is common among perfectly peaceful Muslims and has all sorts of possible meanings. As Judge Tashima pointed out, Hayat was merely carrying “a written prayer, whose meaning to any particular faithful likely is obscure. This is particularly so in this case because Hayat did not speak or read Arabic, the language in which the prayer was written.” To decide that someone is a Terrorist deserving of decades in prison because of that is a travesty beyond belief.

The only other evidence presented was a videotape in which Hayat, after many hours of being badgered in FBI custody, finally said that he had been present a camp at which terrorists were “possibly” or “probably” present. But even an FBI agent, citing how vague and coerced the statement was, himself deemed it the “sorriest confession [he had] ever seen.” Judge Tashima derided it as “a meandering and almost nonsensical confession to the FBI”. He added that the “confession” was extracted only “after hours of questioning, beginning around 11:00 a.m., and lasting into the early morning hours of the following day, [when] he finally agreed with FBI interrogators, who repeatedly insisted, despite his continuing denials, that Hayat had in fact attended such a
training camp.” The trial judge refused to allow expert testimony about how and why it was clear that this statement had been coerced.

But worst of all – and most revealing – the jury foreperson, Joseph Cote, made all sorts of post-trial statements demonstrating clear Islamophobic bias. Cote excused the FBI informant’s fabrications that he had seen al-Zawhiri at the Lodi moseque by saying: “they all look the same when wearing a costume”. Other jurors swore in affidavits that “[t]hroughout the deliberation process, Mr. Cote made other inappropriate racial comments.” In an interview with the Atlantic, Cote, noting the 2005 London subway bombings, said that he could not let Hayat go free “on the basis of what we know of how people of his background have acted in the past.”

That is as bigoted a statement as it gets: that Hayat should be subjected to heightened suspicion because he is Muslim. That’s exactly the mindset that has led the US to create what New York Times editorial page editor Andy Rosenthal has called “essentially a separate justice system for Muslims.” Indeed, Cote specifically endorsed the government’s post-9/11 tactic of preemptively prosecuting Muslims. As the Atlantic article by Amy Waldman explained, the US government’s treatment of Muslims is a direct repudiation of what had long been the core precept of US justice:

“Testifying before Congress in 2004, Paul Rosenzweig of the Heritage Foundation paraphrased a well-known maxim, saying, ‘It is better that ten guilty go free than that one innocent be mistakenly punished.’ September 11 changed the paradigm, he argued, and now, ‘we simply cannot afford a rule that ‘Better ten terrorists go undetected than that the conduct of one innocent be mistakenly examined.'”

The Atlantic article then quoted Cote, again citing the danger from Muslims, as wholeheartedly concurring with this mindset:

“This preventive approach, Cote said, means that ‘just as there are people in prison who never committed the crime, this may also happen . . . .He argued that it was ‘absolutely’ better to run the risk of convicting an innocent man than to let a guilty one go. ‘Too many lives are changed’ by terrorism, he said. ‘So shall one man pay to save fifty? It’s not a debatable question.”

Despite all these comments, the two judges voting to affirm Hayat’s conviction contorted themselves into pretzels to find non-bigoted interpretations of these comments and to conclude, ultimately, that even if ugly, these sentiments are not enough to compel a new trial.

After the jury found him guilty, Hayat was sentenced to 288 months – 24 years – in federal prison. That included the maximum 15-year sentence for “materially supporting” terrorism. Convicted at the age of 23 and now 30 years old, Hayat will not be free until he’s 47 years old – even though there was zero evidence that he had taken any steps to harm anyone.

That’s why I say that this case, though extreme, is incredibly illustrative. It’s how these cases against young Muslims – and, increasingly, non-Muslim activists in the US – typically function. The FBI, using a paid informant, spent years trying to turn him into a criminal. Even with all those efforts, they obtained virtually nothing, but were able to play on the anti-Muslim prejudices of American jurors who equate Muslim religiosity with evidence of Terrorism.

But what makes the case so pernicious, what makes the tactic so dangerous, is exactly what the Church Committee cited when denouncing COINTELPRO: namely, it is the US government targeting citizens for their political beliefs, and then turning them into criminals by exploiting their unpopular political views. Here is the summary of the “evidence” against Hayat from the Atlantic’s Waldman:

“To prove intent, then, the government had to turn to the rubble of Hayat’s life—an accretion of circumstantial but ugly evidence that prosecutors said proved ‘a jihadi heart and a jihadi mind.’ There were Hayat’s words, taped by an informant, in which he praised the murder and mutilation of the journalist Daniel Pearl: ‘They killed him—I’m so pleased about that. They cut him into pieces and sent him back … That was a good job they did—now they can’t send one Jewish person to Pakistan.’ There was what the prosecution called Hayat’s ‘frequently expressed hatred toward the United States’; his comment that his heart ‘belongs to Pakistan’; his description of President Bush as ‘the worm.’ There was, at his house, literature by a virulent Pakistani militant and a scrapbook of clippings celebrating both the Taliban and sectarian violence.”

It’s incredibly common for young people of that age to dabble in extremist thought. But whatever one thinks of those opinions, they are clearly constitutionally protected as free speech. Yet throwing these opinions in the face of the jury, combined with evidence of one’s belief in Islam, is more than enough to persuade all too many Americans that the person is guilty of Terrorism, that he has “a jihadi heart and a jihadi mind”. And that’s what makes these “preemptive” and “anticipatory” prosecutions so menacing: by criminalizing free speech and turning dissidents into felons, they achieve exactly that which the First Amendment, above all else, was designed to prohibit. That these practices created such an intense backlash when exposed 40 years ago by the Church Committee, yet are accepted with such indifference now, speaks volumes about the state of US political culture.

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| Police State Exposed: How the FBI coordinated Crackdown on Occupy!

Revealed: how the FBI coordinated the crackdown on Occupy ~

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New documents prove what was once dismissed as paranoid fantasy: totally integrated corporate-state repression of dissent!
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Occupy Oakland clashes

Police used teargas to drive back protesters following an attempt by the Occupy supporters to shut down the city of Oakland. Photograph: Noah Berger/AP

It was more sophisticated than we had imagined: new documents show that the violent crackdown on Occupy last fall – so mystifying at the time – was not just coordinated at the level of the FBI, the Department of Homeland Security, and local police. The crackdown, which involved, as you may recall, violent arrests, group disruption, canister missiles to the skulls of protesters, people held in handcuffs so tight they were injured, people held in bondage till they were forced to wet or soil themselves –was coordinated with the big banks themselves.

The Partnership for Civil Justice Fund, in a groundbreaking scoop that should once more shame major US media outlets (why are nonprofits now some of the only entities in America left breaking major civil liberties news?), filed this request. The document – reproduced here in an easily searchable format – shows a terrifying network of coordinated DHS, FBI, police, regional fusion center, and private-sector activity so completely merged into one another that the monstrous whole is, in fact, one entity: in some cases, bearing a single name, the Domestic Security Alliance Council. And it reveals this merged entity to have one centrally planned, locally executed mission. The documents, in short, show the cops and DHS working for and with banks to target, arrest, and politically disable peaceful American citizens.

The documents, released after long delay in the week between Christmas and New Year, show a nationwide meta-plot unfolding in city after city in an Orwellian world: six American universities are sites where campus police funneled information about students involved with OWS to the FBI, with the administrations’ knowledge (p51); banks sat down with FBI officials to pool information about OWS protesters harvested by private security; plans to crush Occupy events, planned for a month down the road, were made by the FBI – and offered to the representatives of the same organizations that the protests would target; and even threats of the assassination of OWS leaders by sniper fire – by whom? Where? – now remain redacted and undisclosed to those American citizens in danger, contrary to standard FBI practice to inform the person concerned when there is a threat against a political leader (p61).

As Mara Verheyden-Hilliard, executive director of the PCJF, put it, the documents show that from the start, the FBI – though it acknowledgesOccupy movement as being, in fact, a peaceful organization – nonetheless designated OWS repeatedly as a “terrorist threat”:

“FBI documents just obtained by the Partnership for Civil Justice Fund (PCJF) … reveal that from its inception, the FBI treated the Occupy movement as a potential criminal and terrorist threat … The PCJF has obtained heavily redacted documents showing that FBI offices and agents around the country were in high gear conducting surveillance against the movement even as early as August 2011, a month prior to the establishment of the OWS encampment in Zuccotti Park and other Occupy actions around the country.”

Verheyden-Hilliard points out the close partnering of banks, the New York Stock Exchange and at least one local Federal Reserve with the FBI and DHS, and calls it “police-statism”:

“This production [of documents], which we believe is just the tip of the iceberg, is a window into the nationwide scope of the FBI’s surveillance, monitoring, and reporting on peaceful protestors organizing with the Occupy movement … These documents also show these federal agencies functioning as a de facto intelligence arm of Wall Street and Corporate America.”

The documents show stunning range: in Denver, Colorado, that branch of the FBI and a “Bank Fraud Working Group” met in November 2011 – during the Occupy protests – to surveil the group. The Federal Reserve of Richmond, Virginia had its own private security surveilling Occupy Tampa and Tampa Veterans for Peace and passing privately-collected information on activistsback to the Richmond FBI, which, in turn, categorized OWS activities under its “domestic terrorism” unit. The Anchorage, Alaska “terrorism task force” was watching Occupy Anchorage. The Jackson, Michigan “joint terrorism task force” was issuing a “counterterrorism preparedness alert” about the ill-organized grandmas and college sophomores in Occupy there. Also in Jackson, Michigan, the FBI and the “Bank Security Group” – multiple private banks – met to discuss the reaction to “National Bad Bank Sit-in Day” (the response was violent, as you may recall). The Virginia FBI sent that state’s Occupy members’ details to the Virginia terrorism fusion center. The Memphis FBI tracked OWS under its “joint terrorism task force” aegis, too. And so on, for over 100 pages.

Jason Leopold, at Truthout.org, who has sought similar documents for more than a year, reported that the FBI falsely asserted in response to his own FOIA requests that no documents related to its infiltration of Occupy Wall Streetexisted at all. But the release may be strategic: if you are an Occupy activist and see how your information is being sent to terrorism task forces and fusion centers, not to mention the “longterm plans” of some redacted group to shoot you, this document is quite the deterrent.

There is a new twist: the merger of the private sector, DHS and the FBI means that any of us can become WikiLeaks, a point that Julian Assange was trying to make in explaining the argument behind his recent book. The fusion of the tracking of money and the suppression of dissent means that a huge area of vulnerability in civil society – people’s income streams and financial records – is now firmly in the hands of the banks, which are, in turn, now in the business of tracking your dissent.

Remember that only 10% of the money donated to WikiLeaks can be processed – because of financial sector and DHS-sponsored targeting of PayPal data. With this merger, that crushing of one’s personal or business financial freedom can happen to any of us. How messy, criminalizing and prosecuting dissent. How simple, by contrast, just to label an entity a “terrorist organization” and choke off, disrupt or indict its sources of financing.

Why the huge push for counterterrorism “fusion centers”, the DHS militarizing of police departments, and so on? It was never really about “the terrorists”. It was not even about civil unrest. It was always about this moment, when vast crimes might be uncovered by citizens – it was always, that is to say, meant to be about you.

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| Entrapment Frenzy: FBI thwarts Dumbass Terrorist – After helping him, of course!

FBI Thwarts Dumbass Terrorist – After Helping Him, of Course ~ Reason.com.

 

The face of the enemy. The very stupid enemy.

As reported yesterday, the FBI arrested Quazi Mohammad Rezwanul Ahsan Nafis, 21, of Bangladesh, for attempting to blow up a bomb outside the Federal Reserve building in lower Manhattan. It didn’t happen because the bomb was a fake, provided for him by the FBI. (Also, please tell me I wasn’t the only libertarian who worried at first it was some nut who had attached himself to the “End the Fed” folks)

Spencer Ackerman at Wired delved through the government’s complaint to get the details. Assuming the complaint is the truth, the guy’s intentions were legit, but his competence … well, maybe not so much:

The Justice Department alleges that Nafis came to Queens, New York, in January from Bangladesh on a student visa — and quickly began exploring his options for pulling off a terrorist attack. Only Nafis was so inattentive to keeping his operation a secret that he practically stood on a street corner and waved his arms until the FBI and NYPD took notice.

 

In July, Nafis crossed the radar of an anonymous FBI informant, according to the criminal complaint against him. When they initially spoke on a phone call, Nafis attempted to cover himself with a crude code: He was a fan of “O” (Osama bin Laden), a reader of “I” (Inspire, al-Qaida’sEnglish-language webzine for DIY terrorism), and he wanted to pull off “J” (jihad). But the very next day, Nafis was so trusting that he openly discussed on Facebook “Islamic legal rulings” on the permissibility of bombing a country that granted him a student visa. Within a week, was ranting in person to the informant about killing “a high-ranking government official” and boasting of his ties to al-Qaida.

 

The informant did what informants in these cases do: snitch. He told Nafis that he knew a member of al-Qaida in New York. An excited Nafis attended a meeting with the al-Qaida agent in Central Park on July 24, where he allegedly gushed about wanting to pull off something “very, very very very big, that will shake the whole country, that will make America not one step ahead, change of policy… [but] that will make us one step closer to run[ning] the whole world.”

The “member of al-Qaida” was, of course, an FBI agent. Reason readers know full well that the FBI has a stellar reputation for creating terrorist activities to thwart, organizing plans and pushing hapless goons along for the ride before arresting them. Nafis doesn’t appear to fall in this category, but we’re only getting one side of the story so far.

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SEE ALSO – 

Bangladesh father denies son involved in New York bomb plot

“The intelligence of the USA is playing with a mere boy whom we sent for higher study. The allegation against my son is not true at all. He could not even drive a car. How was he caught with a van?”

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