Argentina Reaches Agreement with Paris Club Preventing IMF Austerity

NOVANEWS

Argentina reached agreement with the Paris Club, a 19-member block representing some of the world’s wealthiest countries, to repay nearly $10 billion in debts. The agreement ended a dispute that dates back to Argentina’s 2001 default and ensures that there will be no International Monetary Fund (IMF) promoted austerity programs. Further, Argentina has renewed access to capital markets and strengthened its position within the G20.

“Argentina negotiated an agreement that keeps the IMF out of Argentina,” said Eric LeCompte, Executive Director of the religious anti-poverty organization Jubilee USA. “IMF austerity programs have wreaked havoc in both poor and wealthy countries.”

According to Spain’s El Pais, two-thirds of the debt is rooted in previous Argentine dictatorships and corrupt regimes.
“One of the principle problems with Paris Club negotiations is the unwillingness to assign fault to lenders that kept corrupt governments in power that abused their people. We are sending the wrong message to emerging democracies when they are forced to pay for the sins of their oppressors,” shared LeCompte, who is also an expert to United Nations working groups on these issues.

Meanwhile, on May 27th the country filed its final arguments at the US Supreme Court in its dispute with hold-out creditors NML Capital and Aurelius Capital. These predatory hedge funds seek more than $1 billion in debt payments and refuse a deal that nearly 93% of Argentina’s creditors accepted after its default. The high court is expected to decide in June whether or not to take the case. Because of the case’s impacts on poor populations, global debt restructuring and poor country access to credit, Jubilee USA filed an amicus curiae brief to the Supreme Court.

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Unnecessary and Disproportionate: How the NSA Violates International Human Rights Standards

NOVANEWS

(Cartoon: El Spectador)

Even before Ed Snowden leaked his first document, human rights lawyers and activists were concerned about law enforcement and intelligence agencies spying on the digital world. One of the tools developed to tackle those concerns was the development of the International Principles on the Application of Human Rights to Communications Surveillance (the “Necessary and Proportionate Principles”).  This set of principles was intended to guide governments in understanding how new surveillance technologies eat away at fundamental freedoms, and outlined how communications surveillance can be conducted consistent with human rights obligations.  Furthermore, the Necessary and Proportionate Principles act as a resource for citizens—used to compare new tools of state surveillance to global expectations of privacy and due process.

We are now able to look at how the NSA’s mass surveillance programs, which we have learned about in the past year, fare when compared to the Necessary and Proportionate Principles.

As you might expect, the NSA programs do not fare well. To mark the first anniversary of the Snowden disclosures, we are releasing Unnecessary and Disproportionate, which details how some of the NSA spying operations violate both human rights standards and the Necessary and Proportionate Principles.

Some of the conclusions are as follows:

  • The NSA surveillance lacks “legality” in that NSA surveillance laws are largely governed by a body of secret law developed by a secret court, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC), which selectively publishes its legal interpretations of the law;

  • The NSA surveillance is neither “necessary,” nor “proportionate,” in that the various programs in which communications data are obtained in bulk violate the privacy rights of millions of persons who are not suspected of having any connection to international terrorism;

  • The NSA surveillance programs are not supported by competent judicial authoritybecause the only judicial approval, if any, comes from the FISC, which operates outside of normal adversarial procedures such that the individuals whose data are collected lack access to the court;

  • The NSA surveillance programs lack due process because the FISC presents no opportunity for a public hearing;

  • The NSA surveillance programs lack user notification: those whose data is obtained do not know that their communications have been monitored and hence they cannot appeal the decision nor get legal representation to defend themselves;

  • The NSA surveillance programs lack the required transparency and public oversight, because they operate in secret and rely on gag orders against the entities from whom the data are obtained, along with secret, if any, court proceedings;

  • The NSA surveillance programs damage the integrity of communication systems by undermining security systems, such as encryption, requiring the insertion of surveillance back doors in communications technologies, including the installation of fiber optic splitters in transmission hubs; and

  • The US surveillance framework is illegitimate because it applies less favorable standards to non-US persons than its own citizens; this discrimination places it in violation of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR).

More broadly, the United States justifies the lawfulness of its communications surveillance by reference to distinctions that, considering modern communications technology, are irrelevant to truly protecting privacy in a modern society. The US relies on the outmoded distinction between “content” and “metadata,” falsely contending that the latter does not reveal private facts about an individual. The US also contends that the collection of data is not surveillance—it argues, contrary to both international law and the Principles, that an individual’s privacy rights are not infringed as long as her communications data are not analyzed by a human being. It’s clear that the practice of digital surveillance by the United States has overrun the bounds of human rights standards. What our paper hopes to show is exactly where the country has crossed the line, and how its own politicians and the international community might rein it back.

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Jackson Rising: People Power and the New Cooperative Movement

NOVANEWS

Once home to some of the most violent racists in the U.S., Jackson, Mississippi is now a key training ground for self-determination and organized “people power” throughout the U.S. South. From May 2 through May 4, 2014 activists, organizers and fellow revolutionaries from all over the world gathered at the Jackson Rising: New Economies Conference at Jackson State University. An estimated 500 people participated in some or all of the conference.

The primary objective of such an assembly was “to educate and mobilize the people of Jackson to meet the economic and sustainability needs of their community,” and to share with others how such strategies can help produce the radical change oppressed communities will need to survive within the current global capitalist crisis. The event was organized by the Jackson Rising Organizing Committee and was held at the Walter Payton Recreation and Wellness Center, where students and community members were welcomed alike. The spirit of resistance and self-reliance filled the air.

As an opening, the Federation of Southern Cooperatives provided a warm welcome and an insightful introduction to the local cooperative movement there in Jackson, Mississippi, outlining how their efforts have been a form of resistance and an assistance in providing the people’s needs. The Southern Grassroots Economies Project (SGEP) offered an intense overview on why the cooperative movement has begun to blossom and take form throughout the Southern Black Belt, highlighting how public policy can actually support and finance such grassroots efforts.  Regional activists and organizers learned firsthand how the SGEP has been working diligently since 2011 to “build a Southern economy rooted in self-reliance, solidarity, community ownership and meeting human needs rather than maximizing profit.”

Black Workers for Justice and a host of union activists expressed the importance that strategies for worker’s rights coincide with burgeoning worker-owned cooperatives, and how in hindsight, such forces actually strengthen one another.

The Rosa Luxemburg Foundation sponsored a community workshop presenting four case studies inspired by Argentina’s cooperative movement. Omar Sierra, deputy consul general of Venezuela in Boston highlighted the redesigning of communal territories in Venezuela through participatory planning. Manuel Matos, representative of the Afro-Descendant Community Council of La Toma [Colombia], shared how Afro-Colombians are building ties for land autonomy and participatory governance. Mazibuko Jara, of Amanda! Magazine and Alternative Information Center introduced conference participants to how the cooperative movement is resisting the rise of neocolonialism in South Africa.

Black Arts Movement poet and pioneer, Askia Toure was in attendance, along with representatives from Black Left Unity Network. The Malcolm X Grassroots Movement was also there, accompanied by world renowned Hip Hop emcee, Brother Ali. Guest speaker and long-time union organizer, Saladin Muhammad outlined how Black workers in the U.S. South are extremely underpaid, unprotected, and how their rights are completely ignored in a region that claims the “right to work” without union representation.

A call for independent institutions

The main political orientation of this conference was that the working class should no longer depend on capitalism to provide for our basic needs. How can we, if it’s failing us from every angle? Speakers and cultural artists emphasized that freedom fighters have to assist the people in building institutions of liberation, and implementing practical strategies that promote autonomy from the capitalist system. Building cooperatives was stressed as an alternative to corporate grocery chains to supply oppressed communities with fresh fruits and vegetables. Educational cooperatives were presented as a working model to educate our children in a manner that enriches both them and society.

Organizers stressed that the task at hand now is working to construct economic and social networks that serve the oppressed rather than cater to the elite.  The question is how do the people begin to provide themselves with adequate healthcare? How do low-income and marginalized communities create sustainable employment with living wages for themselves? How do underserved communities become their own solution to dilapidated housing, food deserts and waste management? How can communities affected by the school-to-prison pipeline combat such practices through participatory planning and self-reliance? How do communities protect themselves from police departments that terrorize rather than “protect and serve?” Fact is, the capitalist system and its various layers of control and exploitation will not stop until we make it stop! While issuing demands and raising voices is necessary, the harsh reality is the needs of the people have continued to be ignored.

Low-income oppressed communities need more than free newspapers, pamphlets and open access to political forums. In order to truly empower those who are marginalized, freedom fighters must be engaged in the work of providing basic survival needs including food, clothing, shelter and community safety. True, mass marches and political protests are very much so needed, but it will take another kind of mobilization to toil the soil and feed hungry children. It will take more than film screenings to help provide employment for those who have been incarcerated. Such developments require the collective application of practical skills, knowledge and community-based planning. Capitalism couldn’t care less about the needs of the oppressed. Hard work, creativity and revolutionary ingenuity can help lay groundwork for oppressed communities to begin meeting their own needs – creating their own modes of child care and transportation, manufacturing and apparel.

Within the capitalist structure, self-reliance among marginalized communities is a critical form of resistance. Limiting the power and impact capitalism and its corporatocracy possesses over our everyday lives is one of the first steps to building a “People’s Power” Movement. These points were recurring themes amongst organizers throughout the conference.

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Mr. Kerry: Why Snowden Can’t ‘Make his Case’ in ‘Our System of Justice’

NOVANEWS

Secretary of State John Kerry said that Edward Snowden should “return home and come back here and stand in our system of justice and make his case.” Kerry seems to have a high opinion of the Department of Justice and the US courts when it comes to national security issues. I can’t imagine for the life of me why. Kerry is either amazingly ignorant or being disingenuous when he suggests that Snowden would be allowed to “make his case” if he returned to the US. No one outside the penal justice system would ever see him again, the moment he set foot here, assuming he was not given a prior deal. He could maybe try to explain himself to the prison guards, assuming they didn’t stick him in solitary. Here are some reasons Mr. Snowden would be unwise to trust himself to that system, given the charges against him:

1. The United Nations Special Rapporteur found that the US was guilty of cruel and inhuman treatment of Chelsea (Bradley) Manning, who was responsible for the Wikileaks and revelations of US killing of unarmed journalists in Iraq. Manning was kept in solitary confinement and isolated 23 hours a day for months on end, was kept naked and chained to a bed, and was subjected to sleep deprivation techniques, all three well known forms of torture, on the trumped up pretext that he was suicidal (his psychiatrist disagreed).

2. The Espionage Act under which Snowden would likely be tried is a fascist law from the time when President Woodrow Wilson (like Obama a scholar of the constitution) was trying to take the US into the war, and was used to repeal the First Amendment right of Americans to protest this action. It was used to arbitrarily imprison thousands and is full of unconstitutional provisions. In recent decades the act was used against whistleblowers only three times, but Barack Obama loves it to death. It is an embarrassment that it is still on the books and it reflects extremely badly on Obama and on Eric Holder that they have revived it as a tool against whistleblowing (which is most often a public service).

3. John Kiriakou, who revealed CIA torture under Bush-Cheney, was prevented by the Espionage Act from addressing the jury to explain the intentions behind his actions and therefore forced into a plea bargain. None of the CIA officers who perpetrated the torture or their superiors, who ordered it, have been punished, but Kiriakou is in prison and his family is in danger of losing the house because of the lack of income. The US public deserved to know about the torture rather than having Obama bury it the way he has buried so many other things wrong with the system.

4. National security official such as Snowden are not covered by protections for whistleblowers in the Federal government, as Thomas Drake discovered. Drake helped bring to public attention the National Security Agency abuses that Snowden eventually made more transparent. But he was forced to plea bargain to a charge of misusing government computers. He lost his career and his retirement, for trying to let us know that when faced with a choice between a surveillance system that was indiscriminate and one that was targeted, the US government went indiscriminate. Indiscriminate is unconstitutional.

5. Not only did the US torture Manning, US officials have on many occasions practiced arbitrary arrest and imprisonment and torture. Most often these policies have been enacted abroad, as at Abu Ghraib, Bagram, Guantanamo, and black sites in countries such as Poland. But arbitrary arrest, trigger-happy killings, and extended solitary confinement are all practiced domestically as well, on America’s vast gulag of 2.4 million prisoners, 4/5s of them black or brown. A fourth of all the prisoners in jail in the entire world of 7 billion people are in the United States. At any one time 80,000 US prisoners are in 23-hour-a-day solitary confinement. Abu Ghraib wasn’t a low-level military excess. It was simply the transposition to Iraq of the ideals of an incarcerating society, dedicating to disciplining and interrogating those who fall into the system’s hands. You don’t get these outcomes– a fourth of the world’s prisoners and a small city worth people in solitary confinement by accident. These abuses are systemic, and worsened by the privatization of prisons. John Kerry’s notion that there is a fair trial to be had for Snowden in this cruelly flawed system is bizarre.

Kerry is a bright and informed man and knows all this. I vote for disingenuous. He is just trying to deflect Snowden’s obvious popularity with the public and is trying desperately to keep the NSA warrantless dragnet on us all in place. I remember when he compared the US military in Vietnam to the Mongol hordes. He should take off those big black expensive shiny shoes once in a while. He’d find feet of clay there now.

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IMF’s Insistence on Economic Austerity Could Derail Ukraine’s Chance of Survival

NOVANEWS

Ukraine’s interim Prime Minister Arseny Yatseniuk in Kiev on April 3, 2014. Yatseniuk has repeatedly said that “painful” economic measures demanded by the IMF in exchange for billions in loans are necessary for Ukraine. (Credit: Reuters/Valentyn Ogirenko)On May 25, the “Chocolate King” handily won the Ukrainian presidential elections in the first round.

Billionaire Petro O. Poroshenko is so named because he made his fortune in the confectionary business. The defeated runner-up, former prime minister Yulia V. Tymoshenko is sometimes referred to as “the Gas Princess,” since she struck it rich in the energy sector.

It seems that Ukraine has not yet achieved the nominal separation of oligarchy and state that we have in the United States, and being extremely rich is almost a constitutional requirement to run for president – like being at least 35 years old and a natural-born citizen is here.

The U.S. government, which has invested billions of dollars over the last 20 years to bring Ukraine into its political/military orbit in Eastern Europe, seems pleased with the result.

It has become standard operating procedure to get an elected government as soon as possible after a coup such as the one that toppled the prior-elected – and also super-rich President Viktor Yanukovych in February – with help from other Western governments.

Yanukovych, who tried to balance his government between the competing interests of the U.S./European Union alliance and Russia, never really had a chance. If he had agreed to the IMF conditions, his government would probably have become at least as unpopular as it did when he turned to Russia for a desperately needed $15 billion loan.

Which brings us to today: the new government of the Chocolate King is committed to those same conditions, now spelled out in an IMF agreement released at the end of April. I would not want to be in his shoes.

After two years of almost no economic growth, the IMF is now projecting a steep recession for this year, with the economy shrinking by 5 percent. This is largely because of budget tightening that the government has committed to, amounting to about 3 percent of GDP over the next two years.

For comparison, think of the U.S. government cutting $500 billion, roughly the equivalent of the Pentagon’s annual base allocation, from its budget over two years. The economy is supposed to recover next year, but we have heard that before – think of Greece, or Spain or Eurozone austerity generally over the past four years.

Poroshenko took a hard line against Russia during his electoral campaign, which was not surprising since millions of Russian-speaking voters in eastern Ukraine would not be voting anyway – some because they didn’t consider the election legitimate and many because armed militants closed the polling places.

But he has since become friendlier, emphasizing his good personal relations with Russian President Vladimir Putin. This is probably a smart move, and not only because Russia can help him negotiate an end to the civil conflict.

Recent events indicate that Russia may have less influence on separatists in eastern Ukraine than the U.S. and the EU have on their allies in the West.

As it turns out, Putin does not appear interested in annexing more pieces of a divided Ukraine, contrary to the assertions of some in the U.S. His main goal seems more likely to be preventing Ukraine from becoming another base for the NATO military alliance, on its border, which in Russia is understandably seen as a threat.

NATO added 12 countries from Eastern Europe between 1999 and 2009. And this could be better achieved through negotiations.

As for Poroshenko, depending on how badly things go with the IMF/EU program, he may end up needing help from Russia after all.

At the very least he wouldn’t want to leave himself completely at the mercy of the IMF-Washington-EU decision-makers. They have a plan to restructure Ukraine’s economy, and it could turn out to be a mass-unemployment nightmare.

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Stiglitz: Tax-Dodging, Corporate Welfare Destroying US Economy

NOVANEWS
A new progressive tax code would end the assault on shared prosperity, create jobs, and help save the planet, says Nobel Joseph Stiglitz
- Common Dreams

Bill Moyers interviews Nobel economist Joseph Stiglitz to discuss how corporate tax-dodging and perverse incentives are detroying U.S. prosperity. (Credit: Moyers & Company)The proven ability of the nation’s wealthiest individuals and corporations to collude with the federal government in order to avoid paying massive amounts in federal taxes, says economist and Nobel laureate Joseph Stiglitz, is not simply unfair and unprecedented but is actually destroying the broader economy and the nation’s once-heralded prosperity.

“Twenty million Americans would like a full-time job and can’t get one. We have growing inequality. We have environmental problems that threaten the future of our planet. I think we can use our tax system to create a better society, to be an expression of our true values.” —economist Joseph Stiglitz

In an interview with journalist Bill Moyers that airs Friday in which they discuss his new white paper (pdf) on the same topic written for the Roosevelt Institute, Stiglitz describes how the current tax code actually encourages large multinational corporations to invest abroad, hire people abroad, and keep their earnings abroad.

And because these multinationals use their outsized political influence to literally write the tax code and bend financial regulations to fit their interests, says Stiglitz, it has created a nearly complete distortion of the nation’s real economic possibilities. As he explains to Moyers:

You know, there’s a lot discussion going on about we have a budget of deficit. And we have to slash this, and slash that, and cut back education, and cut back research, things that will make our economy stronger, cut back infrastructure.

And I think that’s counterproductive. It’s weakening our economy. But the point I make in this paper is it would be easy for us to raise the requisite revenue. This is not a problem. This is not as if it’s going to oppress our economy. We could actually raise the money and make our economy stronger. For instance, we’re talking about the taxation of capital. If we just tax capital in the same way we tax ordinary Americans, people who work for a job, who pay taxes we pay on wages.

If we eliminate the special provisions of capital gains, if we eliminated the special provisions for dividends we could get, over the next ten years, over, you know, approximately $2 trillion. And those are numbers according to the CBO. And so, we’re talking about lots of money.

Watch the Moyers’ interview with Stiglitz:

And it’s not like there’s nothing to be done with that $2 trillion or more in revenue that Stiglitz says could be generated if the top one percent simply paid what the average American pays in terms of income tax and if corporations were stripped of their preferential “subsidies” and “incentives” which he has long argued should be called what they really are: corporate welfare.

“Our country needs, faces a lot of challenges,” argues Stiglizt. “Twenty million Americans would like a full-time job and can’t get one. We have growing inequality. We have environmental problems that threaten the future of our planet. I think we can use our tax system to create a better society, to be an expression of our true values.”

In the white paper, titled Reforming Taxation to Promote Growth and Equity (pdf), Stiglitz’s argument is that even before the financial crisis that took hold in 2008, it’s not as though the average American or the economy overall was being particularly well-served by the increasing slant of the tax code to favor large corporations and the wealthy.

Though not a new idea, Stiglitz says that it’s imperative people realize the economy has long been run by perverse incentives and that the rules fueling these incentives are not natural laws of the economy or that thing called “the free market” but the direct result of corporate control of the political and legislative process.

What many tax-dodging corporations do might well be “legal,” admits Stiglitz, but the reality is that they “use their lobbyists to make sure that the law gives them the scope to avoid taxes. So, this argument, ‘Oh, we’re only doing what the law allows,’ is disingenuous. The fact is … their lobbying helped create this law that allows them to escape taxes, pushing the burden of taxation on ordinary Americans.”

And the result, of course, the reason that the rest of the economy is burdened by this behavior and these systems of perverse incentives, he continued, is because “somebody has to make up the difference. I mean, we can’t survive as a society without roads, infrastructure, education, police, firemen. Somebody’s going to have to pay these costs.”

And that “somebody,” as is known all too well by low-income and working-class America, is the rest of the population–sometimes now referred to as the 99%.

In his newly published paper that addresses these issues and calls for a new progressive tax code and end to preferential ‘corporate welfare,’ Stiglitz concludes:

We can reform our tax system in ways that will strengthen the economy today, address current economic and social problems, and strengthen our economy for the future. The economic agenda is clear. The question is, will the vested interests which have played such a large role in creating the current distorted system continue to prevail? Do we have the political will to create a tax system that is fair and serves the interests of all Americans?

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Bush/Blair Iraq War Plotting to Remain Largely Hidden From Public: UK

NOVANEWS

‘Neutered’ Iraq War inquiry to censor full content of conversations in lead-up to 2003 invasion

- Sarah Lazare

Tony Blair (left) and George W. Bush shake hands. (Photo: Wikimedia / Creative Commons)Critics are charging that a UK inquiry into the country’s role in the Iraq War has “neutered” its own investigation by censoring critical conversations between George W. Bush and Tony Blair in the lead-up to the 2003 invasion.

Headed by Sir John Chilcot, the inquiry was convened in 2009 by the UK government and tasked with establishing “what happened” in Iraq and identifying “the lessons that can be learned.” The report’s released is years behind schedule, in part due to debate over the release of 25 letters and 130 recordings of conversations between Blair and Bush.

The U.S. has heavily pressured the UK government to block the release of these conversations, which the U.S. says are classified. The UK government has also fiercely lobbied against the full release of the documents.

In a letter dated Wednesday (pdf), Chilcot stated that an agreement has been reached with the UK government to release the “gist” of the conversations and only use direct quotes “the minimum necessary to enable the Inquiry to articulate its conclusions.” According to Chilcot, “Consideration will be based on the principle that our use of this material should not reflect President Bush’s views.”

The announcement was immediately met with condemnation from peace and justice campaigners, who say the public has a right to know why the country went to war.

“Five years, £8 million and we can expect little from the Chilcot report,” Lindsey German of UK-based Stop the War Coalition, declared in a statement. “Launched with a fanfare that it would be the definitive investigation into Blair and Bush’s disastrous and criminal war, it has been neutered effectively, as Chilcot bows to the wishes of the British and US governments and allows only the ‘gist’ of 130 conversations and 25 notes to be made public.”

Lindsey added, “Given that we already know a great deal from the evidence which has already been made public, how bad can this secret evidence be that they are refusing to release it?”

Rose Gentle, whose son Gordon died fighting for the UK in Iraq in 2004, told the BBC that families who have lost loved ones “have the right to see those letters.”

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Snowden and NSA Go Tête-à-Tête over Internal Emails

NOVANEWS

Whistleblower says government’s “strangely tailored and incomplete leak only shows the NSA feels it has something to hide.”

- Jon Queally

‘Ultimately,’ says Edward Snowden, ‘whether my disclosures were justified does not depend on whether I raised these concerns previously. That’s because the system is designed to ensure that even the most valid concerns are suppressed and ignored, not acted upon.’ (Photo: The Washington Post)The National Security Agency and Edward Snowden have entered a public battle over the 30-year-old whistleblower’s claims that he repeatedly raised “official” concerns about surveillance overreach while employed by the government.

Following Snowden’s reassertion in his Wednesday interview with NBC that he did, in fact, attempt to voice objections over U.S. surveillance practices using internal channels with superiors, the NSA responded on Thursday afternoon by releasing a single—and they say “only”—email exchange they can find.

Though the agency has previously said that it could find no record of any such emails, Thursday’s disclosure—made through the office of Sen. Dianne Feinstein, who heads the Senate Intelligence Committee, came less than twenty-four hours after the NBC interview in which Snowden boldly repeated his claim that such documentation did exist.

“If the White House is interested in the whole truth, rather than the NSA’s clearly tailored and incomplete leak today for a political advantage, it will require the NSA to ask my former colleagues, management, and the senior leadership team about whether I, at any time, raised concerns about the NSA’s improper and at times unconstitutional surveillance activities. It will not take long to receive an answer.” —Edward Snowden

Snowden’s internal email to the NSA’s Office of General Counsel, and dated April 2013, shows him asking for clarification from the office about how Executive Orders do or do not “supersede” the authority of laws written by Congress.

“Hello, I have a question regarding the mandatory USSID 18 training,” writes Snowden in the email which was redacted in places, including the exact addressee.

As the Guardian explains, the Snowden email “goes on to cite a list provided in the training that ranks presidential executive orders alongside federal statutes in the hierarchy of orders governing NSA behaviour.”

“I’m not entirely certain, but this does not seem correct, as it seems to imply Executive Orders have the same precedence as law,” adds Snowden. “My understanding is that EOs may be superseded by federal statute, but EO’s may not override statute. Am I incorrect in this?”

According to the Guardian, the issue Snowden raises in the email “is an important one in the context of whether NSA surveillance activities were permissible, as it addresses possible conflict between laws passed by Congress and orders given by the White House.”

In the statement from the NSA that accompanied the release of the redacted email exchange, the agency rejected the idea that this proves Snowden was raising a serious challenge to the legality or constitutionality of any programs. The statement read, in part:

The email did not raise allegations or concerns about wrongdoing or abuse, but posed a legal question that the Office of General Counsel addressed. [...]

There are numerous avenues that Mr Snowden could have used to raise other concerns or whistleblower allegations. [...]

We have searched for additional indications of outreach from him in those areas and to date have not discovered any engagements related to his claims.

Following the release of the email exchange, Snowden himself responded via an email interview with the Washington Post:

Q: How do you respond to today’s NSA statement and the release of your email with the Office of General Counsel?

The NSA’s new discovery of written contact between me and its lawyers – after more than a year of denying any such contact existed – raises serious concerns. It reveals as false the NSA’s claim to Barton Gellman of the Washington Post in December of last year, that “after extensive investigation, including interviews with his former NSA supervisors and co-workers, we have not found any evidence to support Mr. Snowden’s contention that he brought these matters to anyone’s attention.”

Today’s release is incomplete, and does not include my correspondence with the Signals Intelligence Directorate’s Office of Compliance, which believed that a classified executive order could take precedence over an act of Congress, contradicting what was just published. It also did not include concerns about how indefensible collection activities – such as breaking into the back-haul communications of major US internet companies – are sometimes concealed under E.O. 12333 to avoid Congressional reporting requirements and regulations.

If the White House is interested in the whole truth, rather than the NSA’s clearly tailored and incomplete leak today for a political advantage, it will require the NSA to ask my former colleagues, management, and the senior leadership team about whether I, at any time, raised concerns about the NSA’s improper and at times unconstitutional surveillance activities. It will not take long to receive an answer.

Ultimately, whether my disclosures were justified does not depend on whether I raised these concerns previously. That’s because the system is designed to ensure that even the most valid concerns are suppressed and ignored, not acted upon. The fact that two powerful Democratic Senators – Ron Wyden and Mark Udall – knew of mass surveillance that they believed was abusive and felt constrained to do anything about it underscores how futile such internal action is — and will remain — until these processes are reformed.

Still, the fact is that I did raise such concerns both verbally and in writing, and on multiple, continuing occasions – as I have always said, and as NSA has always denied. Just as when the NSA claimed it followed German laws in Germany just weeks before it was revealed that they did not, or when NSA said they did not engage in economic espionage a few short months before it was revealed they actually did so on a regular and recurring basis, or even when they claimed they had “no domestic spying program” before we learned they collected the phone records of every American they could, so too are today’s claims that “this is only evidence we have of him reporting concerns” false.

Now that they have finally begun producing emails, I am confident that truth will become clear rather sooner than later.

Q: Were there others?

Yes, and not just on this topic. I’m glad they’ve shown they have access to records they claimed just a few months ago did not exist, and I hope we’ll see the rest of them very soon.

Q: Were you wrong to say that you reached out to multiple peers and supervisors to express your legal and policy concerns?

No, not at all. The bottom line is that even though I knew the system was designed to reject concerns raised, I showed numerous colleagues direct evidence of programs that those colleagues considered unconstitutional or otherwise concerning. Today’s strangely tailored and incomplete leak only shows the NSA feels it has something to hide.

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Syria Today 19: Disgrace U.S slams elections as ‘a disgrace

NOVANEWS


“Today’s presidential election in 
Syria is a disgrace,” State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf said. “Assad has no more credibility today than he did yesterday.”

 

Hypocrisy1

WASHINGTON: The United States on Tuesday denounced Syrian leader Bashar Al-Assad’s attempt to shore up his authority by staging presidential elections in the middle of a brutal civil war.

Voters turned out in government-controlled areas of Syria to vote in an election seen as certain to return long-standing leader Assad to office with a mandate to continue his battle against rebel forces.

At least 162,000 people have been killed in Syria since an uprising against Assad’s rule erupted in March 2011, triggering a savage crackdown. More than half the population have fled their homes.

Washington blames the chaos on Assad’s rule and has demanded he give way to a transitional government.

Harf said the decision to hold elections was “detached from reality” and part of “a 40-year legacy of violent repression.”

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Iraq: American Human Right ”VIDEO”

Posted in Iraq, USA0 Comments

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