- About Us
- Get Involved
- Our Projects
- Affiliated Projects
- Support Us
- Our Building
by Norman Solomon
Edward Snowden’s disclosures, the New York Times reported on Sunday, “have renewed a longstanding concern: that young Internet aficionados whose skills the agencies need for counterterrorism and cyberdefense sometimes bring an anti-authority spirit that does not fit the security bureaucracy.”
Agencies like the NSA and CIA -- and private contractors like Booz Allen -- can’t be sure that all employees will obey the rules without interference from their own idealism. This is a basic dilemma for the warfare/surveillance state, which must hire and retain a huge pool of young talent to service the digital innards of a growing Big Brother.
With private firms scrambling to recruit workers for top-secret government contracts, the current situation was foreshadowed by novelist John Hersey in his 1960 book The Child Buyer. When the vice president of a contractor named United Lymphomilloid, “in charge of materials procurement,” goes shopping for a very bright ten-year-old, he explains that “my duties have an extremely high national-defense rating.” And he adds: “When a commodity that you need falls in short supply, you have to get out and hustle. I buy brains.”
That’s what Booz Allen and similar outfits do. They buy brains. And obedience.
But despite the best efforts of those contractors and government agencies, the brains still belong to people. And, as the Times put it, an “anti-authority spirit” might not fit “the security bureaucracy.”
In the long run, Edward Snowden didn’t fit. Neither did Bradley Manning. They both had brains that seemed useful to authority. But they also had principles and decided to act on them.
Like the NSA and its contractors, the U.S. military is in constant need of personnel. “According to his superiors . . . Manning was not working out as a soldier, and they discussed keeping him back when his unit was deployed to Iraq,” biographer Chase Madar writes in The Passion of Bradley Manning. “However, in the fall of 2009, the occupation was desperate for intelligence analysts with computer skills, and Private Bradley Manning, his superiors hurriedly concluded, showed signs of improvement as a workable soldier. This is how, on October 10, 2009, Private First Class Bradley Manning was deployed . . . to Iraq as an intelligence analyst.”
In their own ways, with very different backgrounds and circumstances, Bradley Manning and Edward Snowden have confounded the best-laid plans of the warfare/surveillance state. They worked for “the security bureaucracy,” but as time went on they found a higher calling than just following orders. They leaked information that we all have a right to know.
This month, not only with words but also with actions, Edward Snowden is transcending the moral limits of authority and insisting that we can fully defend the Bill of Rights, emphatically including the Fourth Amendment.
What a contrast with New York Times columnists David Brooks, Thomas Friedman and Bill Keller, who have responded to Snowden’s revelations by siding with the violators of civil liberties at the top of the U.S. government.
Brooks denounced Snowden as “a traitor” during a June 14 appearance on the PBS NewsHour, saying indignantly: “He betrayed his oath, which was given to him and which he took implicitly and explicitly. He betrayed his company, the people who gave him a job, the people who trusted him. . . . He betrayed the democratic process. It’s not up to a lone 29-year-old to decide what's private and public. We have -- actually have procedures for that set down in the Constitution and established by tradition.”
Enthralled with lockstep compliance, Brooks preached the conformist gospel: “When you work for an institution, any institution, a company, a faculty, you don't get to violate the rules of that institution and decide for your own self what you’re going to do in a unilateral way that no one else can reverse. And that's exactly what he did. So he betrayed the trust of the institution. He betrayed what creates a government, which is being a civil servant, being a servant to a larger cause, and not going off on some unilateral thing because it makes you feel grandiose.”
In sync with such bombast, Tom Friedman and former Times executive editor Bill Keller have promoted a notably gutless argument for embracing the NSA’s newly revealed surveillance programs. Friedman wrote (on June 12) and Keller agreed (June 17) that our government is correct to curtail privacy rights against surveillance -- because if we fully retained those rights and then a big terrorist attack happened, the damage to civil liberties would be worse.
What a contrast between big-name journalists craven enough to toss the Fourth Amendment overboard and whistleblowers courageous enough to risk their lives for civil liberties.
by The New York Times Editorial Board
Researchers have long known that African-Americans are more likely to be arrested for marijuana possession than whites, even though studies have repeatedly shown that the two groups use the drug at similar rates.
New federal data, included in a study by the American Civil Liberties Union, now shows that the problem of racially biased arrests is far more extensive that was previously known — and is getting worse. The costly, ill-advised “war on marijuana” might fairly be described as a tool of racial oppression.
The study, based on law enforcement data from 50 states and the District of Columbia, is the most detailed of its kind so far. Marijuana arrests have risen sharply over the last two decades and now make up about half of all drug arrests in the United States. Of the more than eight million marijuana arrests made between 2001 and 2010, nearly 90 percent were for possession. There were nearly 900,000 marijuana arrests in 2010 — 300,000 more than for all violent crimes combined.
Nationally, African-Americans are nearly four times as likely to be arrested for marijuana possession as whites. The disparity is even more pronounced in some states, including Illinois, Iowa and Minnesota, where African-Americans are about eight times as likely to be arrested. And in some counties around the country, blacks are 10, 15 or even 30 times as likely to be arrested.
This nationwide pattern is evident in all kinds of communities — urban and rural, wealthy and low income, in places where the African-American populations are large and in places where they are small.
As the report notes, police officers who are targeting black citizens and black neighborhoods are turning “a comparatively blind eye to the same conduct occurring at the same rates in many white communities.”
Paradoxically, this is happening at a time when polls show growing public support for full legalization. Two states, Colorado and Washington, have legalized the drug for general use by adults; 18 others and the District of Columbia have legalized it for medical use. The mindless push to make low-level possession arrests distracts the police from serious crime, wastes billions of dollars and alienates minority citizens from the law. It also brings disastrous consequences for young people, as convictions can lead to fines, jail time and temporary loss of federal student financial aid — not to mention criminal records that make it difficult for them to find housing or work. The report urges the states to license and regulate marijuana, legalizing it for people 21 or older.
Regardless of laws in individual states, federal officials and local police departments need to abandon policies that evaluate officers based on numerical arrest goals, which encourage petty arrests, along with illegal stops that violate the Fourth Amendment.
This also means restructuring a main federal program that finances state and local efforts to enforce drug laws so that petty marijuana arrests are no longer counted as evidence of effective police performance. Beyond that, law enforcement agencies need to put an end to what is obviously a widespread practice of racial profiling.
Meet The New York Times’s Editorial Board »
Copyright 2013 The New York Times
by Thomas H. Clarke
WASHINGTON, DC — Just a day after a report found that over $300 million (http://www.thedailychronic.net/2013/23008/report-obama-justice-departmen...) has been spent by the federal government on aggressive marijuana enforcement in states where medical marijuana is legal, a new poll has found that 57% of Americans want to see the crackdown come to an end.
According to the HuffPost/YouGov poll released Friday, 60% of Americans are in favor of allowing a doctor to recommend medical marijuana to their patients, and 57% want state compliant medical marijuana patients and dispensaries to be exempt from federal anti-marijuana laws.
The poll also found that 55% of Americans believe the federal government should not interfere with states who legalize the adult use of marijuana.
Colorado and Washington both legalized marijuana for adults 21 or older in the November elections, and lawmakers in both states are working towards implementing a legal, regulated, adult marijuana retail market.
Medical marijuana has been authorized in 21 jurisdictions in the United States, and legislation remains pending in several more.
Since 2011, the Department of Justice and Attorney General Eric Holder has launched a full scale crackdown on medical marijuana dispensaries in medical marijuana states.
Creative Commons 3.0 Attribution/Noncommercial/Share-Alike License
Lawyers and intelligence experts with direct knowledge of two intercepted terrorist plots that the Obama administration says confirm the value of the NSA's vast data-mining activities have questioned whether the surveillance sweeps played a significant role, if any, in foiling the attacks.
The defence of the controversial data collection operations, highlighted in a series of Guardian disclosures over the past week, has been led by Dianne Feinstein, chairwoman of the Senate intelligence committee, and her equivalent in the House, Mike Rogers. The two politicians have attempted to justify the NSA's use of vast data sweeps such as Prism and Boundless Informant by pointing to the arrests and convictions of would-be New York subway bomber Najibullah Zazi in 2009 and David Headley, who is serving a 35-year prison sentence for his role in the 2008 Mumbai attacks.
Rogers told ABC's This Week that the NSA's bulk monitoring of phone calls and internet contacts was central to intercepting the plotters. "I can tell you, in the Zazi case in New York, it's exactly the programme that was used," he said.
But court documents lodged in the US and UK, as well as interviews with involved parties, suggest that data-mining through Prism and other NSA programmes played a relatively minor role in the interception of the two plots. Conventional surveillance techniques, in both cases including old-fashioned tip-offs from intelligence services in Britain, appear to have initiated the investigations.
In the case of Zazi, an Afghan American who planned to attack the New York subway, the breakthrough appears to have come from Operation Pathway, a British investigation into a suspected terrorism cell in the north-west of England in 2009. That investigation discovered that one of the members of the cell had been in contact with an al-Qaida associate in Pakistan via the email address firstname.lastname@example.org.
British newspaper reports at the time of Zazi's arrest said that UK intelligence passed on the email address to the US. The same email address, as Buzzfeed has pointed out, was cited in Zazi's 2011 trial as a crucial piece of evidence. Zazi, the court heard, wrote to email@example.com asking in coded language for the precise quantities to use to make up a bomb.
Eric Jurgenson, an FBI agent involved in investigating Zazi once the link to the Pakistani email address was made, told the court: "My office was in receipt – I was notified, I should say. My office was in receipt of several email messages, email communications. Those email communications, several of them resolved to an individual living in Colorado."
Michael Dowling, a Denver-based attorney who acted as Zazi's defence counsel, said the full picture remained unclear as Zazi pleaded guilty before all details of the investigation were made public. But the lawyer said he was sceptical that mass data sweeps could explain what led law enforcement to Zazi.
"The government says that it does not monitor content of these communications in its data collection. So I find it hard to believe that this would have uncovered Zazi's contacts with a known terrorist in Pakistan," Dowling said.
Further scepticism has been expressed by David Davis, a former British foreign office minister who described the citing of the Zazi case as an example of the merits of data-mining as "misleading" and "an illusion". Davis pointed out that Operation Pathway was prematurely aborted in April 2009 after Bob Quick, then the UK's most senior counter-terrorism police officer, was pictured walking into Downing Street with top secret documents containing details of the operation in full view of cameras.
The collapse of the operation, and arrests of suspects that hurriedly followed, came five months before Zazi was arrested in September 2009. "That was the operation that led to the initial data links to Zazi – they put the clues in the database which gave them the connections," Davis said.
Davis said that the discovery of the firstname.lastname@example.org email – and in turn the link to Zazi – had been made by traditional investigative work in the UK. He said the clue-driven nature of the inquiry was significant, as it was propelled by detectives operating on the basis of court-issued warrants.
"You can't make this grand sweeping [data collection] stuff subject to warrants. What judge would give you a warrant if you say you want to comb through vast quantities of data?"
Legal documents lodged with a federal court in New York's eastern district shortly after Zazi's arrest show that US counter-intelligence officials had been keeping watch over him under targeted surveillance with the warranted approval of the special intelligence court. During the course of the prosecution, the US served notice that it would be offering evidence "obtained and derived from electronic surveillance and physical search conducted pursuant to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 (Fisa)."
Feinstein and Rogers have also pointed to the case of David Headley, who in January was sentenced to 35 years in jail for having made multiple scouting missions to Mumbai ahead of the 2008 terrorist attacks that killed 168 people. Yet the evidence in his case also points towards a British tip-off as the inspiration behind the US interception of him.
In July 2009, British intelligence began tracking Headley, a Pakistani American from Chicago, who was then plotting to attack Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten in retaliation for its publication of cartoons of the prophet Mohammed. Information was passed to the FBI and he was thereafter, until his arrest that October, kept under targeted US surveillance.
An intelligence expert and former CIA operative, who asked to remain anonymous because he had been directly involved in the Headley case, was derisive about the claim that data-mining sweeps by the NSA were key to the investigation. "That's nonsense. It played no role at all in the Headley case. That's not the way it happened at all," he said.
The intelligence expert said that it was a far more ordinary lead that ensnared Headley. British investigators spotted him when he contacted an informant.
The Headley case is a peculiar choice for the administration to highlight as an example of the virtues of data-mining. The fact that the Mumbai attacks occurred, with such devastating effect, in itself suggests that the NSA's secret programmes were limited in their value as he was captured only after the event.
Headley was also subject to a plethora of more conventionally obtained intelligence that questions the central role claimed for the NSA's data sweeps behind his arrest. In a long profile of Headley, the investigative website ProPublica pointed out that he had been an informant working for the Drug Enforcement Administration perhaps as recently as 2005. There are suggestions that he might have then worked in some capacity for the FBI or CIA.
Headley was also, ProPublica found, the subject of several inquiries by agents of the FBI-led Joint Terrorism Task Force. A year before the Mumbai attacks his then wife, Faiza Outalha, reported on him to the US embassy Islamabad, saying he was on a secret mission in India and was a "drug dealer, terrorist and spy".
by Christopher H. Pyle
Edward Snowden is not a traitor. Nor is he a hero, at least not yet. But he probably will be martyred by an establishment that cannot abide critics.
Both House Majority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) and Senate Intelligence Committee chair Dianne Feinstein (D-Cal.) have called him a traitor, which only shows how ignorant they are. Under our Constitution (and the Espionage Act of 1917), it is not enough for a leaker to do something that might arguable “aid or comfort” an enemy; the leaker must also have the intent, by his disclosures, to betray the United States. No proof exists the Mr. Snowden had either motive.
Quite the contrary. Had he wanted to aid an enemy and hurt the United States, he would not have gone public. He would have secretly disclosed very different information to the agents of a foreign power.
Which raises the question: Why can’t these politicians respect Mr. Snowden for what he is: an ordinary young man who does not claim to be a hero, but is willing to go to jail, if necessary, to start a debate over what our bloated intelligence community and do-nothing Congress are doing to our liberties?
Part of the answer is that the politicians don’t want to admit that Congress (and the courts) have failed to exercise adequate oversight over a giant network of secret agencies and corporations that is wasting billions of dollars on worthless surveillance and, in the process, invading the privacy of millions of Americans and endangering the capacity of reporters, leakers, and crusading members of Congress to check the secret abuses of secret government.
This scandal is not just about Edward Snowden, the National Security Agency, and Snowden’s profiteering bosses at Booz Allen Hamilton. It is about secret government in general, the militarization of intelligence, the privatization of governmental functions, and the role of secret campaign contributions to prevent adequate oversight of the executive branch and its pet companies.
Senator Feinstein and her colleagues don’t want to admit it, but the secrecy system does not permit her and her colleagues to restrain secret government. Once they get a secret briefing, they are pledged not to discuss what they have learned, even with their staffs. Feinstein is such a weak overseer that she could not even persuade the secret FISA court to declassify its sweeping surveillance orders or the legal rationale behind them. But Mr. Snowden could do that with his leaks. He, not the senator, revealed that the secret court had, with its rubber stamp, rendered the Fourth Amendment protections against unreasonably broad seizures meaningless.
This is not Senator Feinstein’s fault alone. It’s not even the president’s fault. The secrecy system is out of control. There are supposed to be three levels of security classifications: Confidential, Secret, and Top Secret. Bradley Manning’s massive leaks proved that most documents marked Confidential or Secret do not deserve to be classified at all. Much that is labeled Top Secret only needs be kept secret for short periods of time. The truly important secrets are classified, if that is the right word, well above Top Secret, in that access to them is restricted to people with special authorizations and special needs to know.
This security system, which keeps Congress and the public largely in the dark about matters they ought to know in a timely fashion, is profoundly corrupt. Contrary to what the politicians say, its chief function is not to keep enemies ignorant; most secret information has nothing to do with the kind of details that might help an enemy. Its chief function is to protect bureaucrats and politicians from being held accountable for their failings, including their wasteful distribution of government contracts to companies like Booz Allen.
So, if Congress wants to make the intelligence budget go further, it ought to ask why Booz Allen is paying people of Snowden’s limited education more than $125,000 a year, and taking still more money off the top of the contract for itself. (The company routinely steals valuable employees from the government by paying them more, and then rents them back to their former agencies at an inflated price.) But Congress probably won’t investigate, because Booz Allen has hired Mike McConnell, the former NSA (and National Intelligence) director, as its vice chairman.
Since 9/11 private corporations have greatly expanded the intelligence community. Seventy percent of the community’s budget now goes to private contractors. So members of Congress, reporters, and suspected leakers are not just vulnerable to government surveillance; they are vulnerable to corporate reprisals, should their investigations or disclosures pose a threat to companies in the intelligence business. These surveillance powers can be used not only to protect secret agencies from criticism; they can be used, as General Motors once used them, to try to discredit critics like Ralph Nader.
Many people believe that they have nothing to fear from government/corporate surveillance because they have nothing to hide. But every bureaucracy is a solution in search of a problem, and if it can’t find a problem to fit its solution, they will redefine the problem. In the 1960s, the surveillance bureaucracies redefined anti-war and civil rights protests as communist enterprises; today the same bureaucracies redefine anti-war Quakers, environmentalists, and animal rights activists as “terrorists.” So political activists, no matter how benign, have good reasons to fear these bureaucracies.
Again, most Americans do not worry, because they are not political activists, reporters, investigating legislators, or crusading attorneys general like Eliot Spitzer. Most Americans are like the Germans who did not fear the secret police because they were not Jews. But all Americans depend on reporters, leakers, and crusading legislators to keep government agencies and private corporations under control. So they should worry about government secrecy, the militarization of surveillance, the privatization of intelligence, and the role of corporate money in elections.
Snowden has revealed just enough to show how pervasive this spying is. Will we pay attention, or will we be distracted by irrelevant attacks upon his character? Given all he has sacrificed to let us know what is happening inside our secret government, don’t we owe it to him to pay attention?
Christopher H. Pyle teaches constitutional law and civil liberties at Mount Holyoke College. He is the author of Military Surveillance of Civilian Politics and Getting Away with Torture. In 1970, he disclosed the U.S. military’s surveillance of civilian politics and worked as a consultant to three Congressional committees, including the Church Committee.
by Thomas Drake
What Edward Snowden has done is an amazingly brave and courageous act of civil disobedience.
Like me, he became discomforted by what he was exposed to and what he saw: the industrial-scale systematic surveillance that is scooping up vast amounts of information not only around the world but in the United States, in direct violation of the fourth amendment of the US constitution.
The NSA programs that Snowden has revealed are nothing new: they date back to the days and weeks after 9/11. I had direct exposure to similar programs, such as Stellar Wind, in 2001. In the first week of October, I had an extraordinary conversation with NSA's lead attorney. When I pressed hard about the unconstitutionality of Stellar Wind, he said:
"The White House has approved the program; it's all legal. NSA is the executive agent."
It was made clear to me that the original intent of government was to gain access to all the information it could without regard for constitutional safeguards. "You don't understand," I was told. "We just need the data."
In the first week of October 2001, President Bush had signed an extraordinary order authorizing blanket dragnet electronic surveillance: Stellar Wind was a highly secret program that, without warrant or any approval from the Fisa court, gave the NSA access to all phone records from the major telephone companies, including US-to-US calls. It correlates precisely with the Verizon order revealed by Snowden; and based on what we know, you have to assume that there are standing orders for the other major telephone companies.
It is technically true that the order applies only to meta-data. The problem is that in the digital space, metadata becomes the index for content. And content is gold for determining intent.
This executive fiat of 2001 violated not just the fourth amendment, but also Fisa rules at the time, which made it a felony – carrying a penalty of $10,000 and five years in prison for each and every instance. The supposed oversight, combined with enabling legislation – the Fisa court, the congressional committees – is all a kabuki dance, predicated on the national security claim that we need to find a threat. The reality is, they just want it all, period.
So I was there at the very nascent stages, when the government – wilfully and in deepest secrecy – subverted the constitution. All you need to know about so-called oversight is that the NSA was already in violation of the Patriot Act by the time it was signed into law.
When I was in the US air force, flying an RC-135 in the latter years of the cold war, I was a German-Russian crypto-linguist. We called ourselves the "vacuum-cleaner of the sky" because our capability to gather information was enormous at the time. But it was always outward-facing; we could not collect on US targets because that was against the law. To the US government today, however, we are all foreigners.
I became an expert on East Germany, which was then the ultimate surveillance state. Their secret police were monstrously efficient: they had a huge paper-based system that held information on virtually everyone in the country – a population of about 16-17 million. The Stasi's motto was "to know everything".
So none of this is new to me. The difference between what the Bush administration was doing in 2001, right after 9/11, and what the Obama administration is doing today is that the system is now under the cover and color of law. Yet, what Snowden has revealed is still the tip of the iceberg.
General Michael Hayden, who was head of the NSA when I worked there, and then director of the CIA, said, "We need to own the net." And that is what they're implementing here. They have this extraordinary system: in effect, a 24/7 panopticon on a vast scale that it is gazing at you with an all-seeing eye.
I lived with that dirty knowledge for years. Before 9/11, the prime directive at the NSA was that you don't spy on Americans without a warrant; to do so was against the law – and, in particular, was a criminal violation of Fisa. My concern was that we were more than an accessory; this was a crime and we were subverting the constitution.
I differed as a whistleblower to Snowden only in this respect: in accordance with the Intelligence Community Whistleblower Protection Act, I took my concerns up within the chain of command, to the very highest levels at the NSA, and then to Congress and the Department of Defense. I understand why Snowden has taken his course of action, because he's been following this for years: he's seen what's happened to other whistleblowers like me.
By following protocol, you get flagged – just for raising issues. You're identified as someone they don't like, someone not to be trusted. I was exposed early on because I was a material witness for two 9/11 congressional investigations. In closed testimony, I told them everything I knew – about Stellar Wind, billions of dollars in fraud, waste and abuse, and the critical intelligence, which the NSA had but did not disclose to other agencies, preventing vital action against known threats. If that intelligence had been shared, it may very well have prevented 9/11.
But as I found out later, none of the material evidence I disclosed went into the official record. It became a state secret even to give information of this kind to the 9/11 investigation.
I reached a point in early 2006 when I decided I would contact a reporter. I had the same level of security clearance as Snowden. If you look at the indictment from 2010, you can see that I was accused of causing "exceptionally grave damage to US national security". Despite allegations that I had tippy-top-secret documents, In fact, I had no classified information in my possession, and I disclosed none to the Baltimore Sun journalist during 2006 and 2007. But I got hammered: in November 2007, I was raided by a dozen armed FBI agents, when I was served with a search warrant. The nightmare had only just begun, including extensive physical and electronic surveillance.
In April 2008, in a secret meeting with the FBI, the chief prosecutor from the Department of Justice assigned to lead the prosecution said, "How would you like to spend the rest of your life in jail, Mr Drake?" – unless I co-operated with their multi-year, multimillion-dollar criminal leak investigation, launched in 2005 after the explosive New York Times article revealing for the first time the warrantless wiretapping operation. Two years later, they finally charged me with a ten felony count indictment, including five counts under the Espionage Act. I faced upwards of 35 years in prison.
In July 2011, after the government's case had collapsed under the weight of truth, I plead to a minor misdemeanor for "exceeding authorized use of a computer" under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act – in exchange for the DOJ dropping all ten felony counts. I received as a sentence one year's probation and 240 hours of community service: I interviewed almost 50 veterans for the Library of Congress veterans history project. This was a rare, almost unprecedented, case of a government prosecution of a whistleblower ending in total defeat and failure.
So, the stakes for whistleblowers are incredibly high. The government has got its knives out: there's a massive manhunt for Snowden. They will use all their resources to hunt him down and every detail of his life will be turned inside out. They'll do everything they can to "bring him to justice" – already there are calls for the "traitor" to be "put away for life".
He can expect the worst; he knows that. He went preemptively overseas because that at least delays the prying hand of the US government. But he could be extracted by rendition, as he has said. Certainly, my life was shredded. Once they have determined that you are a "person of interest" and an "enemy of the state", they want to destroy you, period.
I am now reliving the last 12 years from what's been disclosed in the past week. I feel a kinship with Snowden: he is essentially the equivalent of me. He saw the surveillance state from within and saw how far it's gone. The government has a pathological incentive to collect more and more and more; they just can't help themselves – they have an insatiable hoarding complex.
Since the government unchained itself from the constitution after 9/11, it has been eating our democracy alive from the inside out. There's no room in a democracy for this kind of secrecy: it's anathema to our form of a constitutional republic, which was born out of the struggle to free ourselves from the abuse of such powers, which led to the American revolution.
That is what's at stake here: to an NSA with these unwarranted powers, we're all potentially guilty; we're all potential suspects until we prove otherwise. That is what happens when the government has all the data.
The NSA is wiring the world; they want to own internet. I didn't want to be part of the dark blanket that covers the world, and Edward Snowden didn't either.
We are seeing an unprecedented campaign against whistleblowers and truth-tellers: it's now criminal to expose the crimes of the state. Under this relentless assault by the Obama administration, I am the only person who has held them off and preserved his freedom. All the other whistleblowers I know have served time in jail, are facing jail or are already incarcerated or in prison.
That has been my burden. I've dedicated the rest of my life to defending life, liberty and pursuit of happiness. I didn't want surveillance to take away my soul, and I don't want anyone else to have to live it.
For that, I paid a very high price. And Edward Snowden will, too. But I have my freedom, and what is the price for freedom? What future do we want to keep?
Thomas Drake is a former senior executive of the US National Security Agency and whistleblower. In 2006, he leaked information about the NSA's dysfunctional data-gathering Trailblazer Project to the Baltimore Sun. He was prosecuted under the Espionage Act in 2010, but the case collapsed
by Philip Smith
LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM — In a paper published Wednesday in the journal Nature Reviews Neuroscience, a group of leading scientists argue that global drug prohibition has not only compounded the harms of drug use, but also produced the worst censorship of research in centuries. They likened the banning of psychoactive drugs and the subsequent hampering of research on them to the Catholic Church banning the works of Copernicus and Galileo.
The paper, Effects of Schedule I Drug Laws on Neuroscience Research and Treatment Innovation (abstract only), was written by Professor David Nutt of Imperial College London and Leslie King, both former government advisors, and Professor David Nichols of the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.
The possession of marijuana, MDMA (ecstasy) and psychedelics are stringently regulated under national laws and international conventions dating back to the 1960s, but those laws are not based on science, and the global prohibition regime is rigid and resistant to change, they argued.
“The decision to outlaw these drugs was based on their perceived dangers, but in many cases the harms have been overstated and are actually less than many legal drugs such as alcohol,” said Nutt, professor of neuropsychopharmacology at Imperial College London. “The laws have never been updated despite scientific advances and growing evidence that many of these drugs are relatively safe. And there appears to be no way for the international community to make such changes.”
In the paper, Nutt and his colleagues argue that the scheduling of psychoactive drugs impedes research into their methods of action and therapeutic potentials and sometimes makes it impossible.
“This hindering of research and therapy is motivated by politics, not science,” said Nutt. “It’s one of the most scandalous examples of scientific censorship in modern times. The ban on embryonic stem cell research by the Bush administration is the only possible contender, but that only affected the USA, not the whole world.”
Research in psychoactive drugs should be free of severe restrictions, the scientists argued.
“If we adopted a more rational approach to drug regulation, it would empower researchers to make advances in the study of consciousness and brain mechanisms of psychosis, and could lead to major treatment innovations in areas such as depression and PTSD,” Nutt said.
Nutt headed Britain’s Advisory Committee on the Misuse of Drugs until 2009, when he was forced out by the Labor government of Prime Minister Gordon Brown. Nutt was sacked after publicly criticizing the government for ignoring the committee’s scientific advice on marijuana on ecstasy. He then became chair of the Independent Scientific Committee on Drugs, which aims to review and investigate the harms and benefits of drugs free from political interference.
Preclinical study data published online in the scientific journal Nutrition & Diabetes reports that tetrahydrocannabivarin (THCV) — a naturally occurring analogue of THC — possesses positive metabolic effects in animal models of obesity.
British researchers assessed the effects of THCV administration on dietary-induced and genetically modified obese mice. Authors reported that although THCV administration did not significantly affect food intake or body weight gain in any of the models, it did produce several metabolically beneficial effects, including reduced glucose intolerance, improved glucose tolerance, improved liver triglyceride levels, and increased insulin sensitivity.
Researchers concluded: “Based on these data, it can be suggested that THCV may be useful for the treatment of the metabolic syndrome and/or type 2 diabetes (adult onset diabetes), either alone or in combination with existing treatments. Given the reported benefits of another non-THC cannabinoid, CBD in type 1 diabetes, a CBD/THCV combination may be beneficial for different types of diabetes mellitus.”
Last month, Harvard Medical School researchers published observational data in The American Journal of Medicine reporting that subjects who regularly consume cannabis possess favorable indices related to diabetic control as compared to occasional consumers or non-users of the substance. Writing in an accompanying commentary, the journal’s Editor-in-Chief stated: “These are indeed remarkable observations that are supported, as the authors note, by basic science experiments that came to similar conclusions. … I would like to call on the NIH and the DEA to collaborate in developing policies to implement solid scientific investigations that would lead to information assisting physicians in the proper use and prescription of THC in its synthetic or herbal form.”
Observational trial data published in 2012 in the British Medical Journal previously reported that adults with a history of marijuana use had a lower prevalence of type 2 diabetes and possess a lower risk of contracting the disease than did those with no history of cannabis consumption, even after researchers adjusted for social variables such as subjects’ ethnicity and levels of physical activity.
Previously published preclinical data also indicates that the administration of cannabidiol (CBD) halts the development of type 1 (juvenile) diabetes in mice genetically predisposed to the condition.
Full text of the study, “The cannabinoid delta 9-tetrahydrocannabivarin (THCV) ameliorates insulin sensitivity in two mouse models of obesity,” is available online here.
by Daniel Elsberg
In my estimation, there has not been in American history a more important leak than Edward Snowden's release of NSA material – and that definitely includes the Pentagon Papers 40 years ago. Snowden's whistleblowing gives us the possibility to roll back a key part of what has amounted to an "executive coup" against the US constitution.
Since 9/11, there has been, at first secretly but increasingly openly, a revocation of the bill of rights for which this country fought over 200 years ago. In particular, the fourth and fifth amendments of the US constitution, which safeguard citizens from unwarranted intrusion by the government into their private lives, have been virtually suspended.
The government claims it has a court warrant under FISA – but that unconstitutionally sweeping warrant is from a secret court, shielded from effective oversight, almost totally deferential to executive requests. As Russell Tice, a former National Security Agency analyst, put it: "It is a kangaroo court with a rubber stamp."
For the president then to say that there is judicial oversight is nonsense – as is the alleged oversight function of the intelligence committees in Congress. Not for the first time – as with issues of torture, kidnapping, detention, assassination by drones and death squads –they have shown themselves to be thoroughly co-opted by the agencies they supposedly monitor. They are also black holes for information that the public needs to know.
The fact that congressional leaders were "briefed" on this and went along with it, without any open debate, hearings, staff analysis, or any real chance for effective dissent, only shows how broken the system of checks and balances is in this country.
Obviously, the United States is not now a police state. But given the extent of this invasion of people's privacy, we do have the full electronic and legislative infrastructure of such a state. If, for instance, there was now a war that led to a large-scale anti-war movement – like the one we had against the war in Vietnam – or, more likely, if we suffered one more attack on the scale of 9/11, I fear for our democracy. These powers are extremely dangerous.
There are legitimate reasons for secrecy, and specifically for secrecy about communications intelligence. That's why Bradley Manning and I – both of whom had access to such intelligence with clearances higher than top-secret – chose not to disclose any information with that classification. And it is why Edward Snowden has committed himself to withhold publication of most of what he might have revealed.
But what is not legitimate is to use a secrecy system to hide programs that are blatantly unconstitutional in their breadth and potential abuse. Neither the president nor Congress as a whole may by themselves revoke the fourth amendment – and that's why what Snowden has revealed so far was secret from the American people.
"I know the capacity that is there to make tyranny total in America, and we must see to it that this agency and all agencies that possess this technology operate within the law and under proper supervision, so that we never cross over that abyss. That is the abyss from which there is no return."
The dangerous prospect of which he warned was that America's intelligence gathering capability – which is today beyond any comparison with what existed in his pre-digital era – "at any time could be turned around on the American people and no American would have any privacy left."
That has now happened. That is what Snowden has exposed, with official, secret documents. The NSA, FBI and CIA have, with the new digital technology, surveillance powers over our own citizens that the Stasi – the secret police in the former "democratic republic" of East Germany – could scarcely have dreamed of. Snowden reveals that the so-called intelligence community has become the United Stasi of America.
So we have fallen into Senator Church's abyss. The questions now are whether he was right or wrong that there is no return from it, and whether that means that effective democracy will become impossible. A week ago, I would have found it hard to argue with pessimistic answers to those conclusions.
But with Edward Snowden having put his life on the line to get this information out, quite possibly inspiring others with similar knowledge, conscience and patriotism to show comparable civil courage – in the public, in Congress, in the executive branch itself – I see the unexpected possibility of a way up and out of the abyss.
Pressure by an informed public on Congress to form a select committee to investigate the revelations by Snowden and, I hope, others to come might lead us to bring NSA and the rest of the intelligence community under real supervision and restraint and restore the protections of the bill of rights.
Snowden did what he did because he recognized the NSA's surveillance programs for what they are: dangerous, unconstitutional activity. This wholesale invasion of Americans' and foreign citizens' privacy does not contribute to our security; it puts in danger the very liberties we're trying to protect.
Daniel Ellsberg was put on trial in 1973 for leaking the Pentagon Papers, but the case was dismissed after four months because of government misconduct. He is the author of "Secrets: A Memoir of Vietnam and the Pentagon Papers."
by Dan Frosch
DENVER — With the recreational use of marijuana now legal in Colorado, officers who patrol the state’s roads face a new set of challenges. Though smoking or possessing small amounts of cannabis is no longer breaking the law, anyone who drives while impaired is still subject to arrest.
Which raises a knotty question: How many tokes can a driver take before the ability to control a vehicle is compromised to the point of being a danger on the road?
Unlike alcohol, which has an undisputed — and usually quite apparent — influence on driving, there is no clear-cut consensus on the amount of marijuana that must be consumed to impair a driver’s ability.
This year, as Colorado lawmakers worked out regulatory matters, including taxes on sales, they also passed legislation that set legal limits on marijuana levels in the bloodstream. Under the new law, which took effect on May 28, a driver is assumed to be impaired if a blood test shows a level of tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, that is five or more nanograms per milliliter. A nanogram is a billionth of a gram.
“What this bill does is create a standard like we have for driving under the influence of alcohol,” said State Representative Mark Waller, a Republican from Colorado Springs and the bill’s chief sponsor. “Juries have come to expect that standard. So this aids in the prosecution of these cases.”
Previous attempts to pass such legislation have met strong opposition. Some legislators felt that the five-nanogram threshold was too low, in part because medical marijuana users always have some THC, the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana, in their blood. Others said that the blood test needed to measure the THC level was too intrusive.
Studies conducted to determine just how much THC it takes to diminish a driver’s ability have differed in their conclusions.
Even the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, which warns against taking the wheel under the influence of any drug that affects the ability to drive safely, acknowledges that detecting impairment caused by marijuana can be trickier than it is for alcohol. The safety agency is studying the effects of cannabis on drivers, and the results are expected late next year.
Some states, like Arizona, have enacted zero-tolerance laws that make driving with any trace of marijuana in the blood unlawful. A handful of other states have set their own thresholds for THC in the bloodstream.
Washington State, where recreational marijuana is also legal, has established the same THC limit as Colorado.
Earlier this year, in a widely viewed broadcast, a Seattle TV station, KIRO, had three volunteers smoke marijuana before driving.
They started out well enough, even after each far exceeded the state’s five-nanogram limit. Predictably, the more they smoked, the worse they drove.
Colorado’s law tries to strike a balance. Even with its five nanogram standard, the law has some flexibility, letting defendants present evidence that they were not too impaired to drive even when their THC levels exceeded the statutory level.
“I think certainly for the consumer, this is better law than a per se law, because it allows the defendant a chance to offer evidence of their innocence at trial,” said Paul Armentano, deputy director of Norml, which advocates for the legalization of marijuana.
“We have this notion that since we have a magic number for alcohol, that we are going to have a similar number for marijuana,” he said. “The problem is that marijuana is not metabolized and absorbed by the body in the same way alcohol is.”
A spokesman for the Colorado State Patrol, Trooper Josh Lewis, said the law would not have a significant effect on how the police handled stops, though he noted that more officers would be trained in drug recognition.
“We’ll still patrol the same way we did before,” he said. “We’ll look for signs of impairment.”
Jeremy Rosenthal, a Denver lawyer who handles cases of driving under the influence, said he thought the law was a good compromise, and he liked that it did not rely solely on a measurement from a blood test.
Mr. Rosenthal said he still thought most juries would end up convicting people who had more than five nanograms in their bloodstream. But allowing a certain measure of leeway in marijuana cases seemed fair to him, given that such cases were different from those involving alcohol.
“I think people in Colorado generally support the right to use marijuana,” he said. “But they also don’t like people driving around impaired.”
Copyright 2013 The New York Times
No healthy democracy can endure when the most consequential acts of those in power remain secret and unaccountable
by Glenn Greenwald
We followed Wednesday's story about the NSA's bulk telephone record-gathering with one yesterday about the agency's direct access to the servers of the world's largest internet companies. I don't have time at the moment to address all of the fallout because - to borrow someone else's phrase - I'm Looking Forward to future revelations that are coming (and coming shortly), not Looking Backward to ones that have already come.
But I do want to make two points. One is about whistleblowers, and the other is about threats of investigations emanating from Washington:
1) Ever since the Nixon administration broke into the office of Daniel Ellsberg's psychoanalyst's office, the tactic of the US government has been to attack and demonize whistleblowers as a means of distracting attention from their own exposed wrongdoing and destroying the credibility of the messenger so that everyone tunes out the message. That attempt will undoubtedly be made here.
I'll say more about all that shortly, but for now: as these whistleblowing acts becoming increasingly demonized ("reprehensible", declared Director of National Intelligence James Clapper yesterday), please just spend a moment considering the options available to someone with access to numerous Top Secret documents.
They could easily enrich themselves by selling those documents for huge sums of money to foreign intelligence services. They could seek to harm the US government by acting at the direction of a foreign adversary and covertly pass those secrets to them. They could gratuitously expose the identity of covert agents.
None of the whistleblowers persecuted by the Obama administration as part of its unprecedented attack on whistleblowers has done any of that: not one of them. Nor have those who are responsible for these current disclosures.
They did not act with any self-interest in mind. The opposite is true: they undertook great personal risk and sacrifice for one overarching reason: to make their fellow citizens aware of what their government is doing in the dark. Their objective is to educate, to democratize, to create accountability for those in power.
The people who do this are heroes. They are the embodiment of heroism. They do it knowing exactly what is likely to be done to them by the planet's most powerful government, but they do it regardless. They don't benefit in any way from these acts. I don't want to over-simplify: human beings are complex, and usually act with multiple, mixed motives. But read this outstanding essay on this week's disclosures from The Atlantic's security expert, Bruce Schneier, to understand why these brave acts are so crucial.
Those who step forward to blow these whistles rarely benefit at all. The ones who benefit are you. You discover what you should know but what is hidden from you: namely, the most consequential acts being taken by those with the greatest power, and how those actions are affecting your life, your country and your world.
In 2008, candidate Obama decreed that "often the best source of information about waste, fraud, and abuse in government is an existing government employee committed to public integrity and willing to speak out," and he hailed whistleblowing as:
"acts of courage and patriotism, which can sometimes save lives and often save taxpayer dollars, should be encouraged rather than stifled as they have been during the Bush administration."
The current incarnation of Obama prosecutes those same whistleblowers at double the number of all previous presidents combined, and spent the campaign season boasting about it.
The 2008 version of Obama was right. As the various attacks are inevitably unleashed on the whistleblower(s) here, they deserve the gratitude and - especially - the support of everyone, including media outlets, for the noble acts that they have undertaken for the good of all of us. When it comes to what the Surveillance State is building and doing in the dark, we are much more informed today than we were yesterday, and will be much more informed tomorrow than we are today, thanks to them.
(2) Like puppets reading from a script, various Washington officials almost immediately began spouting all sorts of threats about "investigations" they intend to launch about these disclosures. This has been their playbook for several years now: they want to deter and intimidate anyone and everyone who might shed light on what they're doing with their abusive, manipulative exploitation of the power of law to punish those who bring about transparency.
That isn't going to work. It's beginning completely to backfire on them. It's precisely because such behavior reveals their true character, their propensity to abuse power, that more and more people are determined to bring about accountability and transparency for what they do.
They can threaten to investigate all they want. But as this week makes clear, and will continue to make clear, the ones who will actually be investigated are them.
The way things are supposed to work is that we're supposed to know virtually everything about what they do: that's why they're called public servants. They're supposed to know virtually nothing about what we do: that's why we're called private individuals.
This dynamic - the hallmark of a healthy and free society - has been radically reversed. Now, they know everything about what we do, and are constantly building systems to know more. Meanwhile, we know less and less about what they do, as they build walls of secrecy behind which they function. That's the imbalance that needs to come to an end. No democracy can be healthy and functional if the most consequential acts of those who wield political power are completely unknown to those to whom they are supposed to be accountable.
There seems to be this mentality in Washington that as soon as they stamp TOP SECRET on something they've done we're all supposed to quiver and allow them to do whatever they want without transparency or accountability under its banner. These endless investigations and prosecutions and threats are designed to bolster that fear-driven dynamic. But it isn't working. It's doing the opposite.
The times in American history when political power was constrained was when they went too far and the system backlashed and imposed limits. That's what happened in the mid-1970s when the excesses of J Edgar Hoover and Richard Nixon became so extreme that the legitimacy of the political system depended upon it imposing restraints on itself. And that's what is happening now as the government continues on its orgies of whistleblower prosecutions, trying to criminalize journalism, and building a massive surveillance apparatus that destroys privacy, all in the dark. The more they overreact to measures of accountability and transparency - the more they so flagrantly abuse their power of secrecy and investigations and prosecutions - the more quickly that backlash will arrive.
I'm going to go ahead and take the Constitution at its word that we're guaranteed the right of a free press. So, obviously, are other people doing so. And that means that it isn't the people who are being threatened who deserve and will get the investigations, but those issuing the threats who will get that. That's why there's a free press. That's what adversarial journalism means.
© 2013 Guardian News and Media
Glenn Greenwald is a columnist on civil liberties and US national security issues for the Guardian. A former constitutional lawyer, he was until 2012 a contributing writer at Salon. His most recent book is, With Liberty and Justice for Some: How the Law Is Used to Destroy Equality and Protect the Powerful.
by Norman Solomon
Dear Senator Feinstein:
On Thursday, when you responded to news about massive ongoing surveillance of phone records of people in the United States, you slipped past the meaning of the Fourth Amendment. As the chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, you seem to be in the habit of treating the Bill of Rights as merely advisory.
The Constitution doesn’t get any better than this: “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”
The greatness of the Fourth Amendment explains why so many Americans took it to heart in civics class, and why so many of us treasure it today. But along with other high-ranking members of Congress and the president of the United States, you have continued to chip away at this sacred bedrock of civil liberties.
As The Guardian reported the night before your sudden news conference, the leaked secret court order “shows for the first time that under the Obama administration the communication records of millions of U.S. citizens are being collected indiscriminately and in bulk—regardless of whether they are suspected of any wrongdoing.”
One of the most chilling parts of that just-revealed Surveillance Court order can be found at the bottom of the first page, where it says “Declassify on: 12 April 2038.”
Apparently you thought—or at least hoped—that we, the people of the United States, wouldn’t find out for 25 years. And the fact that we learned about this extreme violation of our rights in 2013 instead of 2038 seems to bother you a lot.
Rather than call for protection of the Fourth Amendment, you want authorities to catch and punish whoever leaked this secret order. You seem to fear that people can actually discover what their own government is doing to them with vast surveillance.
Meanwhile, the Executive Branch is being run by kindred spirits, as hostile to the First Amendment as to the Fourth. On Thursday night, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper issued a statement saying the “unauthorized disclosure of a top secret U.S. court document threatens potentially long-lasting and irreversible harm to our ability to identify and respond to the many threats facing our nation.”
That statement from Clapper is utter and complete hogwash. Whoever leaked the four-page Surveillance Court document to Glenn Greenwald at The Guardian deserves a medal and an honorary parade down Pennsylvania Avenue in the Nation’s Capital. The only “threats” assisted by disclosure of that document are the possibilities of meaningful public discourse and informed consent of the governed.
Let’s be candid about the most clear and present danger to our country’s democratic values. The poisonous danger is spewing from arrogance of power in the highest places. The antidotes depend on transparency of sunlight that only whistleblowers, a free press and an engaged citizenry can bring.
As Greenwald tweeted after your news conference: “The reason there are leakers is precisely because the govt is filled with people like Dianne Feinstein who do horrendous things in secret.” And, he pointed out, “The real story isn’t just the spying itself: it’s that we have this massive, ubiquitous Surveillance State, operating in total secrecy.”
Obviously, you like it that way, and so do most other members of the Senate and House. And so does the president. You’re all playing abhorrent roles, maintaining a destructive siege of precious civil liberties. While building a surveillance state, you are patting citizens on the head and telling them not to worry.
Perhaps you should have a conversation with Al Gore and ask about his statement: “Is it just me, or is secret blanket surveillance obscenely outrageous?” Actually, many millions of Americans understand that the blanket surveillance is obscenely outrageous.
As a constituent, I would like to offer an invitation. A short drive from your mansion overlooking San Francisco Bay, hundreds of us will be meeting June 11 at a public forum on “Disappearing Civil Liberties in the United States.” (You’d be welcome to my time on the panel.) One of the speakers, Pentagon Papers whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg, could explain to you how the assaults on civil liberties and the wars you keep supporting go hand in hand, undermining the Constitution and causing untold misery.
Senator Feinstein, your energetic contempt for the Bill of Rights is serving a bipartisan power structure that threatens to crush our democratic possibilities.
A huge number of people in California and around the country will oppose your efforts for the surveillance state at every turn.
Norman Solomon is co-founder of RootsAction.org and founding director of the Institute for Public Accuracy. His books include “War Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death” and "Made Love, Got War: Close Encounters with America's Warfare State".
by Noam Cohen and Leslie Kaufmann
After writing intensely, even obsessively, for years about government surveillance and the prosecution of journalists, Glenn Greenwald has suddenly put himself directly at the intersection of those two issues, and perhaps in the cross hairs of federal prosecutors.
Late Wednesday, Mr. Greenwald, a lawyer and longtime blogger, published an article in the British newspaper The Guardian about the existence of a top-secret court order allowing the National Security Agency to monitor millions of telephone logs. The article, which included a link to the order, is expected to attract an investigation from the Justice Department, which has aggressively pursued leakers.
On Thursday night, he followed up with an article written with a Guardian reporter, Ewen MacAskill, that exposed an N.S.A. program, Prism (http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2013/jun/06/us-tech-giants-nsa-data), that has gathered information from the nation’s largest Internet companies going back nearly six years.
“The N.S.A. is kind of the crown jewel in government secrecy. I expect them to react even more extremely,” Mr. Greenwald said in a telephone interview. He said that he had been advised by lawyer friends that “he should be worried,” but he had decided that “what I am doing is exactly what the Constitution is about and I am not worried about it.”
Being at the center of a debate is a comfortable place for Mr. Greenwald, 46, who came to mainstream journalism through his own blog, which he started in 2005. Before that he was a lawyer, including working 18 months at the high-powered New York firm Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz, where he represented large corporate clients.
“I approach my journalism as a litigator,” he said. “People say things, you assume they are lying, and dig for documents to prove it.”
Mr. Greenwald’s writings at The Guardian — and before that, for Salon and on his own blog — can resemble a legal brief, with a list of points, extended arguments and detailed references and links. As Andrew Sullivan, a frequent sparring partner and sometime ally, put it, “once you get into a debate with him, it can be hard to get the last word.”
While Mr. Greenwald notes that he often conducts interviews and breaks news in his columns, he describes himself as an activist and an advocate. But with this leak about the extremely confidential legal apparatus supporting the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, he has lifted the veil on some of the government’s most closely held secrets.
The leak, he said, came from “a reader of mine” who was comfortable working with him. The source, Mr. Greenwald said, “knew the views that I had and had an expectation of how I would display them.”
Mr. Greenwald’s experience as a journalist is unusual, not because of his clear opinions but because he has rarely had to report to an editor. He began his blog Unclaimed Territory in 2005 after the news of warrantless surveillance under the Bush administration. When his blog was picked up by Salon, said Kerry Lauerman, the magazine’s departing editor in chief, Salon agreed that Mr. Greenwald would have direct access to their computer system so that he could publish his blog posts himself without an editor seeing them first if he so chose.
“It basically is unheard of, but I never lost a moment of sleep over it,” Mr. Lauerman said. “He is incredibly scrupulous in the way a lawyer would be — really, really careful.”
The same independence has carried over at The Guardian, though Mr. Greenwald said that for an article like the one about the N.S.A. letter he agreed that the paper should be able to edit it. Because he has often argued in defense of Bradley Manning, the army private who was charged as the WikiLeaks source, he said he considered publishing the story on his own, and not for The Guardian, to assert that the protections owed a journalist should not require the imprimatur of an established publisher.
Mr. Greenwald said he has had to get up to speed in the security precautions that are expected from a reporter covering national security matters, including installing encrypted instant chat and e-mail programs.
“I am borderline illiterate on these matters, but I had somebody who is really well-regarded actually come and physically do my whole computer,” he said.
That computer is in Brazil, where Mr. Greenwald spends most of his time and lives with his partner, who cannot emigrate to the United States because the federal government does not recognize same-sex marriages as a basis for residency applications.
Mr. Greenwald grew up in Lauderdale Lakes, Fla., feeling like an odd figure. “I do think political posture is driven by your personality, your relationship with authority, how comfortable are you in your life,” he said. “When you grow up gay, you are not part of the system, it forces you to evaluate: ‘Is it me, or is the system bad?’ ”
By the time Mr. Greenwald was studying law at New York University, “he was always passionate about constitutional issues and issues of equal justice and equal treatment,” said Jennifer Bailey, now an immigration lawyer with a nonprofit organization in Maine, who shared a tiny apartment with Mr. Greenwald in the early 1990s.
She emphasized that his passion did not translate into partisanship. “He is not a categorizeable guy,” Ms. Bailey said. “He was not someone who played party politics. He was very deep into the issues and how it must come out. He was tireless and relentless about pursuing this. Nobody worked longer hours.”
As Mr. Greenwald tells it, the last decade has been a slow political awakening. “When 9/11 happened, I thought Bush was doing a good job,” he said. “I was sucking up uncritically what was in the air.”
His writing has made him a frequent target from ideological foes who accuse him of excusing terrorism or making false comparisons between, for example, Western governments’ drone strikes, and terrorist attacks like the one in Boston.
Gabriel Schoenfeld, a national security expert and senior fellow at the Hudson Institute who is often on the opposite ends of issues from Mr. Greenwald, called him, “a highly professional apologist for any kind of anti-Americanism no matter how extreme.”
Mr. Sullivan wrote in an e-mail: “I think he has little grip on what it actually means to govern a country or run a war. He’s a purist in a way that, in my view, constrains the sophistication of his work.”
Ms. Bailey has a slightly different take. Because of his passions, she said, “he is just as willing to make enemies of anybody.”
Copyright 2013 The New York Times
by Marcy Wheeler
Congressman Mike Rogers (R-Mich.), in an effort to defend his efforts to approve and hide dragnet collection on all Americans for years, claimed today that the dragnet prevented a terrorist attack.
“Within the last few years, this program was used to stop a terrorist attack in the United States. We know that. It’s important. It fills in a little seam that we have,” Rogers told reporters Thursday. ”And it’s used to make sure that there is not an international nexus to any terrorism event if there may be one ongoing. So in that regard, it is a very valuable thing,” Rogers said.
When pressed later for more details, Rogers said the committee is “working on trying to get this declassified in a way that we can provide more information. We’re not there yet. But it was a significant case that happened within the last few years.”
Get this: Rogers’ defense argues it makes sense to conduct dragnet surveillance of 310 million Americans for 7 years (plus the 5 years Bush did so illegally), all to thwart one terrorist plot.
21 million person-years of call data collected since 2006.
In his statement, Ron Wyden is a lot more skeptical that this program is so valuable.
"The American people have a right to know whether their government thinks that the sweeping, dragnet surveillance that has been alleged in this story is allowed under the law and whether it is actually being conducted. Furthermore, they have a right to know whether the program that has been described is actually of value in preventing attacks. Based on several years of oversight, I believe that its value and effectiveness remain unclear."
Hey, I’d say that one plot over 7 years — especially when you consider how many banksters have done trillions of damage while FBI and NSA have been fiddling with the call records of innocent people — is the definition of a waste of time and resources.
© 2013 EmptyWheel.net
Marcy Wheeler writes the blog Emptywheel. Her book, Anatomy of Deceit: How the Bush Administration Used the Media to Sell the Iraq War and Out a Spy, provided a primer on the CIA Leak case surrounding Valerie Plame and her husband, Joe Wilson. She has a Ph.D. from University of Michigan; her research focused on the oppositional uses of a particular literary-journalistic form that arose with the industrial press. Marcy is a recipient of the Hillman Award for blog journalism.
Beneath all the smoke and mirrors, here is what seems to be going on.
Apparently (according to wikipedia), despite rejection by Congress of several attempts to do so, there is no existing legal requirement that telecommunications providers retain such metadata. Having failed to achieve a legal basis for requiring them to do so, the security services made an end-run around Congress, which is why a few of the are upset (why they all aren't pissed at this says a lot about who your congresscritters really represent.)
This one order obtained by The Guardian was just one small piece of a much larger program where these orders are entered and renewed over and over. The government is thus building, not a short-term retention database as already rejected by Congress, but a permanent database. All the data collected every three months goes into it -- and most likely will never be deleted.
Sure, they say they're chasing terrorists today, although it's questionable how much assistance it will actually be. It won't prevent ANY terrorist act, because it's all about records, not realtime. And the temptation will always be, "Hey, we've got this great database we're spending billions on, we should make wider use of it..."
If your government can pull end-runs like this around our legislators, how the heck is it trustworthy about much of anything else?
Pot for Pets: Vets Recommending Medical Marijuana in Growing Trend
by The Associated Press
LOS ANGELES, CA – Until she introduced “magic cheese” to her sick and aging bulldog, Laura Bugni-Daniel watched him suffer for two years. He’d spend his days lying down or throwing up.
Today, at age 12, he plays like a puppy through the day, his fur is soft and he sleeps at night, soothed not by magic, but by the dose of marijuana in that cheese.
Bugni-Daniel is part of a growing movement to give medical marijuana to pets in pain. Many urge caution until there’s better science behind it. But stories abound about changes in sick and dying pets after they’ve been given cannabis – even though it remains illegal under federal law despite being legal for people in 19 states and the District of Columbia.
Leading the charge is Los Angeles veterinarian Doug Kramer, 36, known as the “Vet Guru,” who felt it was his duty to speak out.
“I grew tired of euthanizing pets when I wasn’t doing everything I could to make their lives better,” he said. “I felt like I was letting them down.”
Pot eased his Siberian husky’s pain during her final weeks, after she had surgery to remove tumors. Not only did Nikita stop whimpering while using cannabis, but she started eating, gaining weight and meeting him at the door again.
It gave him six extra weeks with his dog before he had to euthanize her, he says. It wasn’t a cure, but he thinks it freed her of pain and improved her last days.
Some other vets contacted said they share Kramer’s view on pot, but they wouldn’t talk on the record for fear of arrest or retaliation.
Kramer hasn’t lost any clients over his view, but he was asked not to return to some of the clinics where he volunteered or relieved other vets because of concerns over the negative image his advocacy creates, he said.
Dr. Duncan Lascelles, a professor of surgery and pain management at North Carolina State University College of Veterinary Medicine, thought about studying marijuana a decade ago. He didn’t, not for lack of interest, but because the timing was wrong.
“I have been considering looking at that field again because I think it does have a lot of potential,” he said.
He also figures those all-important grants needed for research will be available now.
Testing could take 10 years or more to be sure a pain killer will be effective and free of side effects, Lascelles said.
Kramer said it’s unconscionable to let a decade pass, when millions of pets will die of illness and old age.
Vets who want traditional testing point to a study by two Colorado animal hospitals that compared the number of dogs treated for what appeared to be accidental marijuana overdoses between 2005 and 2010 with increases in the number of marijuana licenses issued. As registrations increased 146-fold, the number of sickened pets went up four-fold.
“Sometimes public sentiment and activity gets ahead of the scientific background and that can be dangerous,” said Barry Kellogg, senior veterinary adviser to the Humane Society of the United States.
While two dogs with pot in their system died in the Colorado survey, hallucinogenic reactions may make dogs wobbly on their legs, raise their pulse and cause dribbly urine, said Dr. Karl Jandrey, an emergency and critical care vet at the Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital at the University of California, Davis.
But pot clinic managers say that a proper dose of the drug will prevent a bad reaction.
Jessica LeRoux of Twirling Hippy Confections in Denver made custom treats that helped extend the life of her last service dog, a black Lab-border collie mix named Thor.
“I got the 15th year out of that relationship because of the product I made for him,” she said.
Old or ailing pets who take cannabis usually experience an immediate boost in appetite and relief from pain. That lets them get around, relieve themselves without help, sleep better and enjoy their families until age or disease catches up, LeRoux said in explaining how the cannabis helps pets.
At La Brea Compassionate Caregivers in Los Angeles, manager Megan Hanley recommends a drop of liquid marijuana extract marketed as Companion Cannabis for every 10 pounds of dog. It can be spread on cheese or bread.
“It’s a revolutionary product and response to it has been tremendous in the last year,” she said.
Bugni-Daniel, in Divide, Mont., is allowed to have four marijuana plants under state law for her medical needs. She turns that into extract for her and Rabito.
Marijuana has been like the fountain of youth for the American bulldog.
“It’s really nice to see your sick pet, for his last moments or weeks or months, be happy and not real sick and dealing with needles and surgery,” Bugni-Daniel said.
Copyright 2013 The Associated Press
by Cindy Cohn and Mark Rumold
Late on Wednesday, the Guardian newspaper confirmed what EFF (and many others) have long claimed: the NSA is conducting widespread, untargeted, domestic surveillance on millions of Americans. This revelation should end, once and for all, the government's long-discredited secrecy claims about its dragnet domestic surveillance programs. It should spur Congress and the American people to make the President finally tell the truth about the government's spying on innocent Americans.
In a report by Glenn Greenwald, the paper published an order from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (or FISC) that directs Verizon to provide “on an ongoing daily basis” all call records for any call “wholly within the United States, including local telephone calls” and any call made “between the United States and abroad.”
In plain language: the order gave the NSA a record of every Verizon customer’s call history -- every call made, the location of the phone, the time of the call, the duration of the call, and other “identifying information” for the phone and call -- from April 25, 2013 (the date the order was issued) to July 19, 2013. The order does not require content or the name of any subscriber and is issued under 50 USC sec.1861, also known as section 215 of the Patriot Act.
There is no indication that this order to Verizon was unique or novel. It is very likely that business records orders like this exist for every major American telecommunication company, meaning that, if you make calls in the United States, the NSA has those records. And this has been going on for at least 7 years, and probably longer.
This type of untargeted, wholly domestic surveillance is exactly what EFF, and others have been suing about for years. In 2006, USA Today published a story disclosing that the NSA had compiled a massive database of call records from American telecommunications companies. Our case, Jewel v. NSA, challenging the legality of the NSA’s domestic spying program, has been pending since 2008, but it's predecessor, Hepting v. AT&T filed in 2006, alleged the same surveillance. In 2011, on the 10th Anniversary of the Patriot Act, we filed a FOIA lawsuit against the Department of Justice for records about the government’s use of Section 215 – the legal authority the government was relying on to perform this type of untargeted surveillance.
But at each step of the way, the government has tried to hide the truth from the American public: in Hepting, behind telecom immunity; in Jewel, behind the state secrets privilege; in the FOIA case, by claiming the information is classified at the top secret level. In May 2011, Senator Ron Wyden, one of the few courageous voices fighting against the government’s domestic surveillance program, said this in a debate about reauthorizing Section 215:
I want to deliver a warning this afternoon: when the American people find out how their government has secretly interpreted the Patriot Act, they will be stunned and they will be angry.
Today is that day. The American people have confirmed how the government has secretly interpreted Section 215. And we’re angry. It’s time to stop hiding behind legal privileges and to come clean about Section 215 and FISA. It’s time to start the national dialogue about our rights in the digital age. And it’s time to end the NSA’s unconstitutional domestic surveillance program.
Illinois’ Flawed Fracking Law Is Everyone’s Problem, Ecologist Says
by Jeff Biggers and Ben Evans
The backroom negotiations behind the midwestern state’s new fracking regulations may be a taste of what’s to come in other places.
What happens in Illinois, doesn't stay in Illinois. That was the message last week of acclaimed scientist and author Sandra Steingraber, who joined the growing local uprising’s last ditch effort to pass a moratorium on the controversial hydraulic gas drilling operations until the state could conduct a comprehensive scientific and health assessment.
The Illinois House and Senate passed a regulatory bill last Friday, which had been brokered in a backroom deal by Illinois Democrats, gas industry and labor representatives, and a small cadre of environmental groups—and to the consternation of Steingraber and grassroot activists, without any independent scientists, health experts, or impacted downstate residents at the negotiating table.
Despite these concerns, the Chicago Tribune’s lede was "Let the fracking begin.” The Washington Post, similarly, ran with the prevailing narrative about the bill: "Illinois lawmakers approve nation's toughest fracking regulations."
Not so, says Steingraber, an Illinois native, who has played a key role in the anti-fracking movement in New York and across the country. Testifying at a last minute House committee hearing with Gasland director Josh Fox, leading protests at the Illinois state capitol and confronting bill negotiators from the offices of Gov. Pat Quinn, Attorney General Lisa Madigan, and environmental lobbyists, Steingraber didn't pull any punches. "We consider the fracking regulatory bill to be a subversion of both science and democracy,” she said. “No public hearings or public comment periods ever took place. And yet it is the public that is being compelled to live with the risks sanctioned by this bill. It is an unjust law."
Filmmaker Ben Evans and I sat down with Steingraber on the eve of the vote and asked her to speak on a number of topics, including why Illinois' historic fracking regulations should matter to the rest of the nation, and why the state is becoming another ground zero for the national climate movement.
(Part 1 of the video is above, while parts 2 through 5 are posted below.)
Jeff Biggers and Ben Evans created this article and shot these videos for YES! Magazine, a national, nonprofit media organization that fuses powerful ideas and practical actions.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License
Jeff Biggers is the author of The United States of Appalachia, and more recently, Reckoning at Eagle Creek: The Secret Legacy of Coal in the Heartland (The Nation/Basic Books). Follow him on twitter: @JeffRBiggers
Ben Evans is a documentary filmmaker, actor, and owner of BEgreenCreative. His award-winning eco-docu-comedy, "YERT: Your Environmental Road Trip," is now available from First Run Features and at the film's website.
by Ezekial Edwards
Marijuana has become the drug of choice for police departments nationwide. According to The War on Marijuana in Black and White, released today, police made over 8 million marijuana arrests between 2001 and 2010, and marijuana arrests now account for half of all drug arrests in America. Almost 90% of these are for possession – which means that thousands of people have been unnecessarily ensnared in our criminal justice system just for having marijuana.
Let's begin with the backstory. Over the last twenty years, police have turned much of their zeal for fighting the misguided War on Drugs towards the enforcement of marijuana laws in communities across the country. And like America's larger War on Drugs, America's War on Marijuana has been a failure. Despite being a priority for police departments nationwide, the aggressive enforcement of marijuana laws has not diminished the use or availability of marijuana; in fact, use has increased.
How is this failed War on Marijuana impacting our communities?
Over-criminalization. In 2010, cops made one marijuana bust every 37 seconds. Once ensnared in the criminal justice system, people can lose their liberty, money, time, jobs, public benefits, child custody, drivers' licenses and student aid, and can be deported. Click here for stories from real people whose lives have been derailed by marijuana arrests.
Wasted Time and Money. If current trends continue, states will spend over $20 billion enforcing marijuana laws over the next six years – money that could have been otherwise invested in our communities to enhance public health and safety, public schools, drug treatment programs, and police-community relations. Click here to learn more about the numbers behind the failed War on Marijuana.
Unacceptable Racial Bias. Marijuana usage rates are comparable among Blacks and whites, yet Blacks are over 3.7 times more likely to be arrested for marijuana possession. Watch this video for more on racial bias in marijuana arrests.
The aggressive enforcement of marijuana possession laws needlessly mires hundreds of thousands of people in the criminal justice system, crowds our jails, wastes billions of taxpayers' dollars, fails to reduce marijuana use and availability, diverts precious police resources away from solving serious crimes, and is carried out with staggering racial bias.
It's clearly time to end the failed War on Marijuana.
I am trying to contact someone from CUPJ to be on a PBS radio show June 23 from 5 to 6 p.m. called "Keepin' the Faith." The station is WILL580 and the usual host is Steve Shoemaker. We would like someone to come on to talk about the "No More Jails Campaign." Please respond a.s.a.p to this email address: email@example.com, or call me, Don Nolen, at 359-7203.
"Keepin the Faith"