Who is truly investigating Wikileaks (and why we have the right to know)

Because we need to put a serious check on out of control executive and corporate power (via the New York Times):

This much is known: In its hunt for information about three people it believes to be associated with the whistle-blower site WikiLeaks, the Justice Department has sought to extract details about them and their communications on Twitter. What is not yet known is where else the Justice Department went looking.

On Friday, lawyers for the American Civil Liberties Union and the Electronic Frontier Foundation asked a federal court in Virginia to reveal the names of the other Internet companies from whom the Justice Department solicited information about the three people: Jacob Appelbaum, an American citizen; Birgitta Jonsdottir of Iceland; and Rop Gonggrijp of the Netherlands.

Their case has become a testing ground for online privacy and speech, in part because the Justice Department sought the information without a search warrant in 2010. Instead, it relied on a 1994 law called the Stored Communications Act, and asked Twitter to release information about the three Twitter users. It sought, among other things, their Internet Protocol addresses, which identify and can give the location of a computer used to log onto the Internet. Twitter responded by informing the three about the government’s request – and they, in turn, went to court.

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Jacob Appelbaum, leading IT guru, speaks in Melbourne about watching the watchers in our society

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Tariq Ali on Obama’s failed expansion in Afghan/Pakistan wars

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Would Iraq, still under Saddam, have embraced the Arab Spring?

With over one million Iraqis dead and millions displaced since the 2003 invasion, it’s a fascinating question asked in Foreign Policy (though the idea of US military intervention is hardly an answer to anything, as history always shows):

In a tumultuous year that witnessed the fall of Arab tyrants and the U.S. withdrawal from Iraq, proponents of the 2003 invasion, including former Vice President Dick Cheney and conservative academic Fouad Ajami, have sought to portray the decision to topple Saddam Hussein’s regime as the hidden driver of the Arab Spring. But rather than revisit history, why not — on this one-year anniversary of Tunisian strongman Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali’s downfall — try our hand at alternate history: If the United States had never invaded Iraq, would Saddam’s Baathist regime still be standing in today’s Middle East?

This question, of course, is a bedeviling one. It is difficult to imagine the region absent U.S. military intervention in Iraq. The war itself fueled regional dysfunction — particularly in reaffirming and expanding pernicious notions of sectarian identity. Clearly, the specter of enhanced Iranian influence and the spillover effects of Iraq’s brutal 2006-2007 sectarian civil war loom large over the region, most obviously with respect to Syria and Bahrain.

With festering grievances, a repressed populace, and growing destitution, it is highly likely that Iraq would have been part of this past year’s regional wave of uprisings. The wave of revolt has illuminated the manner in which transnational solidarity, buoyed by a shared media space and political links, still plays an important role in the collective imagination of Arabs — even though the grandiose promises of pan-Arab nationalism have long ago been discredited. This phenomenon would not have bypassed Iraq. Furthermore, while the pre-invasion efforts of both the external and internal Iraqi opposition ultimately failed, they did represent genuine opposition politics. And the existence of a Kurdish safe haven would have provided physical space to plan and coordinate anti-government activities. Much more so than even in Tunisia, the building blocks for an uprising would have been in place in Iraq.

Had such an uprising broken out, the surest path for Iraqi regime change would have been a U.S.-led military action in support of local actors. Without the bruising legacy of the Iraq debacle, outside intervention, even absent legal authorization, would have been, for better or worse, a serious option for the United States and its allies. As with Muammar al-Qaddafi in Libya, the United States and its partners would have seen an opportunity to remove a longtime nemesis.

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What being “pro-Israel” can mean

Via the Guardian:

The owner of a Jewish newspaper in Atlanta has said he deeply regrets writing a column suggesting that Israel consider “a hit” on Barack Obama if he stands in the way of the Jewish state defending itself.

Andrew Adler told the Guardian he wrote the column in the weeklyAtlanta Jewish Times ”to get a reaction” from the paper’s readers.

“The headline for the column was: ‘What would you do?’ That’s what I wanted to see,” he said. “It’s got like a Dr Phil reaction: what were you thinking? I feel really bad it did that.”

The column, first brought to light by Gawker, asks readers to imagine that they are the Israeli prime minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, confronting the threat posed by Hezbollah and Iran’s nuclear programme while also under pressure from a US president with an “Alice in Wonderland” belief in diplomacy over force.

Adler lays out what he says are the three options available to Netanyahu: attack Hezbollah and Hamas; defy the US – which is willing to let “Israel take a lethal bullet” – by striking against Iran’s nuclear facilities; or a third option.

“Three, give the go-ahead for US-based Mossad agents to take out a president deemed unfriendly to Israel in order for the current vice-president to take his place, and forcefully dictate that the United States‘ policy includes its helping the Jewish state obliterate its enemies,” Adler wrote in a column that appeared in print by not online.

“Yes, you read “three” correctly. Order a hit on a president in order to preserve Israel’s existence. Think about it. If I have thought of this Tom Clancy-type scenario, don’t you think that this almost unfathomable idea has been discussed in Israel’s most inner circles?”

Adler went on to ask: “How far would you go to save a nation comprised of 7 million lives – Jews, Christians and Arabs alike? You have got to believe, like I do, that all options are on the table.”

Adler said he understood why readers might interpret his writing as suggesting that Israel is seriously considering assassinating the US president but that is not what he meant.

“No, no, no. It’s unfathomable, unthinkable,” he said, adding: “I’m definitely pro-Israel to the max.”

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Shit students can’t say about Israel

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IDF propaganda trips to Nazi death camps aren’t having desired effect, Israel finds

Interesting and reveals the deep cynicism of such trips in the first place (hey Jews, go to Auschwitz, see how bad those Nazis were, come back and love Zionism and abusing Arabs more). Via Haaretz:

The Israel Defense Forces has been “stunned” by the findings of a new study which says an officers’ visitation program to Nazi death camps, meant to reinforce Jewish and national values, has had the opposite effect on up to 20 percent of the soldiers.

The program, called Witnesses in Uniform, was founded in the 1990s and involves IDF officers visiting death camps in Poland. It was greatly expanded in the mid-2000s, under former Chief of Staff (and current Vice Prime Minister ) Moshe Ya’alon. Today, some 3,000 career officers a year make the trip, which is preceded by a mandatory seminar at either the Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum in Jerusalem or the Ghetto Fighters’ House Museum in the Western Galilee. Altogether, some 25,000 officers have participated in the program over the last decade.

With the army’s consent, researchers from the Ariel University Center spent the last 18 months doing in-depth interviews with 600 participants to examine the trip’s influence on them. Army sources said they were “stunned” by the findings, which seem to indicate that the trips are achieving the opposite of their declared purpose.

The study found that before going on the trip, officers expressed a very high level of commitment to the Jewish people and to preserving their Jewish heritage, and high levels of solidarity with the fate of other Jews.

In contrast, they expressed a lower – though still high – level of commitment to more universalist ideas, such as understanding the universal context of the Holocaust.

After they returned from the trips, however, the researchers found a drop in commitment to all values related to Jewish identity, including the importance of the Land of Israel for the Jewish people, the importance of the IDF’s existence, feelings of national pride in being Israeli, and a sense of a shared Jewish fate.

The study found a particularly dramatic decline in the importance the officers attached to Jewish and Israeli symbols, and to Diaspora Jewry.

The trips also produced a decline in IDF-related values, including commitment to the state and the army, feelings of leadership, and love of heroism.

In contrast, the trips produced no change in the officers’ commitment to universal democratic values such as human dignity, the sanctity of life and tolerance.

These findings are the exact opposite of a large-scale study that the same researchers did on how death-camp visits affected high-school students. That study, conducted for the Education Ministry in 2009 and published in 2011, also found that the trips left commitment to universal values unchanged, but found that they strengthened Jewish and national values.

After the trips, students expressed greater levels of identification, with statements such as: “I understand the importance of the Israel Defense Forces’ existence”; “I understand the importance of the Land of Israel for the Jewish people”; and “I feel more national pride in being Israeli.”

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ABCTV News24 on Iran, faltering economy and racism

Last night I appeared on ABCTV’s The Drum (video here) alongside Joe Stella and The Punch editor Tory Maguire.

We talked about the faltering global economy – why oh why is the IMF treated with such respect after years of failed forecasts and neo-liberal “reforms” that have only caused misery for millions globally? – and the proposed preamble for the Australian constitution that recognises the First Australians. Despite the fact that both major sides of politics support the racist Northern Territory Intervention (under the guise of “helping Aborigines”) the preamble should be backed as one small step towards equality before the law.

The question of racism in Australia is a live one and I argued that deep-seated mistrust of Muslims and minorities was rampant. Any more than other countries globally? Hard to say but it’s foolish to deny that media players and politicians regularly play the race card to draw votes. The Murdoch press are some of the worst offenders in this area, routinely demonising the poor and disadvantaged.

The main discussion was around Iran and its alleged nuclear weapon’s program (of which there is no evidence). I stated that most of the mainstream media, the Zionist lobby, Israel-firsters, many politicians and commentators are now leading us to yet another Middle East conflict. Few questions are being asked and White House and Zionist spin (both with a history of lies) are taken at face value. The regime in Tehran is a dictatorial outrage but military strikes against the country would be illegal, immoral, counter-productive and have nothing to do with nuclear weapons but to ensure the American/Israeli/Gulf state hegemony in the Middle East.

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If Palestinians occupied the Jews…

OccupaZION إحـتلال صهيـون ©Jerusalem First Films from Enas I. aL-Muthaffar on Vimeo.

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How Israel is playing US election politics by siding totally with the GOP

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Breaking news; NYT and Haaretz scare Israel because they (now and then) talk about occupation

Amazing and revealing (via JTA):

 Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Israel’s two greatest enemies are The New York Times and Haaretz, the editor of The Jerusalem Post said in a speech.

Steve Linde, addressing a conference in Tel Aviv of the Women’s International Zionist Organization, said Wednesday that Netanyahu made the remark to him about the newspapers at a private meeting “a couple of weeks ago” at the prime minister’s office in Tel Aviv.

“He said, ‘You know, Steve, we have two main enemies,’ ” Linde said, according to a recording of the WIZO speech provided to JTA. “And I thought he was going to talk about, you know, Iran, maybe Hamas. He said, ‘It’s The New York Times and Haaretz.’ He said, ‘They set the agenda for an anti-Israel campaign all over the world. Journalists read them every morning and base their news stories … on what they read in The New York Times and Haaretz.’ ”

Linde said he and other participants at the meeting asked Netanyahu whether he really thought that the media had that strong a role in shaping world opinion on Israel, and the prime minister replied, “Absolutely.”

The Prime Minister’s Office could not be reached immediately for comment.

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Wikileaks and Assange remain rightly defiant

In a new interview with Rolling Stone’s Michael Hastings, Julian Assange outlines what is at stake in America’s determination to prosecute him for daring to expose its dirty little secrets:

In diplomatic cables, the investigation into WikiLeaks by the U.S. government has been called “unprecedented both in its scale and nature.” How much do you know about it? Since last September, a secret grand jury was empaneled in Alexandria, Virginia. There is no defense counsel. There are four prosecutors, according to witnesses who have been forced to testify before the grand jury. The jury itself is taken from the local area, and Alexandria has the highest density of government and military contractors anywhere in the United States. It is a place where the U.S. government chooses to conduct all national-security grand juries and trials because of that makeup of the jury pool.

The investigation has involved most of the U.S. intelligence apparatus, the FBI, the State Department, the United States Army. It has subpoenaed the records of most of my U.S. friends or acquaintances. Under what are called Patriot Act production orders, the government has also asked for their Twitter records, Google accounts and individual ISPs. The laws which they’re working toward an indictment on are the Espionage Act of 1917 and the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act of 1986.

And they’re going after Manning, who is facing a life sentence, to get him to say that you’re a spy? 
To be another chess piece on the board in the attack on us. The U.S. government is trying to redefine what have been long-accepted journalistic methods. If the Pentagon is to have its way, it will be the end of national-security journalism in the United States.

How so? 
They’re trying to interpret the Espionage Act to say that any two-way communication with a source is a collaboration with a source, and is therefore a conspiracy to commit espionage where classified information is involved. The Pentagon, in fact, issued a public demand to us that we not only destroy everything we had ever published or were ever going to publish in relation to the U.S. government, but that we also stop “soliciting” information from U.S. government employees. The Espionage Act itself does not mention solicitation, but they’re trying to create a new legal precedent that includes a journalist simply asking a source to communicate information. A few years ago, for example, the CIA destroyed its waterboarding interrogation videos. In the Manning hearing, prosecutors described how we had a most-wanted list, which included those interrogation videos if they still existed.

The WikiLeaks site had a “most-wanted” list of stories you were eager to get? 
This list was not put together by us. We asked for nominations from human rights activists and journalists from around the world of the information they most wanted, and we put that on a list. The prosecution in the Manning hearing has been attempting to use that list as evidence of our solicitation of information that is likely to be classified, and therefore our complicity in espionage, if we received such information.

From a journalist’s perspective, a list like that would be the equivalent of a normal editorial meeting where you list the crown jewels of stories you’d love to get. 
Exactly.

So if you’re going to jail, then Bob Woodward’s going to jail. 
Individuals like Sy Hersh and Dana Priest and Bob Woodward constantly say to their sources, “Hey, what about this, have you heard anything about it? I heard that there’s been an airstrike in Afghanistan that’s killed a bunch of civilians – do you have any more details, and can you prove them with paper?” And all those would be defined as conspiracy to commit espionage under the Pentagon’s interpretation.

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