Posted by greydogg, 99GetSmart
* THIS WEEK IN PRESS FREEDOMS AND PRIVACY RIGHTS
By Glenn Greenwald, Guardian
The travesty calling itself “the Bradley Manning court-martial”, the kangaroo tribunal calling itself “the FISA court”, and the emptiness of what the Obama DOJ calls “your constitutional rights”
[…] (1) In the utter travesty known as “the Bradley Manning court-martial proceeding”, the military judge presiding over the proceeding yet again showed her virtually unbreakable loyalty to the US government’s case by refusing to dismiss the most serious charge against the 25-year-old Army Private, one that carries a term of life in prison: “aiding and abetting the enemy”. The government’s theory is that because the documents Manning leaked were interesting to Osama bin Laden, he aided the enemy by disclosing them. Harvard Law Professor Yochai Benkler explained in the New Republic in March why this theory poses such a profound threat to basic press freedoms as it essentially converts all leaks, no matter the intent, into a form of treason.
At this point, that seems to be the feature, not a bug. Anyone looking for much more serious leaks than the one that Manning produced which ended up attracting the interest of bin Laden should be looking here. The Obama White House yesterday told Russia that it must not persecute “individuals and groups seeking to expose corruption” – as Bradley Manning faces life in prison for alerting the world to the war abuses and other profound acts of wrongdoing he discovered and as the unprecedented Obama war on whistleblowers rolls on. That lecture to Russia came in the context of White House threats to cancel a long-planned meeting over the Russian government’s refusal to hand over NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden to the US to face espionage charges.
(2) The kangaroo tribunal calling itself “the FISA court” yesterday approved another government request (please excuse the redundancy of that phrase: “the FISA court approved the government’s request”). Specifically, the “court” approved the Obama administration’s request for renewal of the order compelling Verizon to turn over to the NSA all phone records of all Americans, the disclosure of which on June 6 in this space began the series of NSA revelations. This ruling was proudly announced by the office of the Director of National Intelligence, which declassified parts of that program only after we published the court ruling. In response, the ACLU’s privacy expert Chris Soghoian sarcastically observed: “good thing the totally not a rubberstamp FISA court is on the job, or we might turn into a surveillance state”; the Wall Street Journal’s Tom Gara noted: “Reminder: The style guide for mentioning the FISA court is that it’s written ‘court’ with scare quotes.”
(3) In response to our NSA reporting, several groups, including the ACLU and EFF, filed lawsuits challenging the constitutionality of the US government’s spying programs. A federal court yesterday heard arguments in the suit brought by the ACLU, and the Obama DOJ asked the court to dismiss it on several grounds, including that it “cannot be challenged in a court of law”.
(4) Speaking of the Obama DOJ attempting to block judicial adjudication of the legality of its actions: a different federal judge heard a lawsuit yesterday challenging the constitutionality of Obama’s extra-judicial killings by drones of three American citizens, including the 16-year-old American-born Abdulrahaman Awlaki, whose grandfather wrote this powerful Op-Ed in the New York Times this week under the headline “The Drone That Killed My Grandson”. The judge repeatedly expressed incredulity at the DOJ’s argument that courts had no role to play in reviewing the legality of these killings, which then led to this exchange:
“‘Are you saying that a US citizen targeted by the United States in a foreign country has no constitutional rights?’ she asked Brian Hauck, a deputy assistant attorney general. ‘How broadly are you asserting the right of the United States to target an American citizen? Where is the limit to this?’
“She provided her own answer: ‘The limit is the courthouse door’ . . . .
“‘Mr. Hauck acknowledged that Americans targeted overseas do have rights, but he said they could not be enforced in court either before or after the Americans were killed.'”
Re-read that last line, as it’s the Obama administration in a nutshell: of course you have those pretty rights, dear citizens. It’s just that nobody can enforce them or do anything to us when we violate them. But you do have them, and they’re really, really important, and we do value them so very highly, and President Obama will deliver another really majestic speech soon in front of the Constitution about how cherished and valued they are.[…]
* AUGUST 2007 – FISA DEBATE: RUSH HOLT
The US House of Rep debated changes to FISA requested by the Bush administration.
* AMERICA NO LONGER HAS A FUNCTIONING JUDICIAL SYSTEM
The Separation of Powers Which Define Our Democracy Have Been Destroyed
The Department of Justice told a federal court this week that the NSA’s spying “cannot be challenged in a court of law”.
(This is especially dramatic given that numerous federal judges and legal scholars – including a former FISA judge – say that the FISA spying “court” is nothing but a kangaroo court.)
Also this week, the Department of Justice told a federal court that the courts cannot review the legality of the government’s assassination by drone of Americans abroad:
“‘Are you saying that a US citizen targeted by the United States in a foreign country has no constitutional rights?’ [the judge] asked Brian Hauck, a deputy assistant attorney general. ‘How broadly are you asserting the right of the United States to target an American citizen? Where is the limit to this?’
“She provided her own answer: ‘The limit is the courthouse door’ . . . .
“‘Mr. Hauck acknowledged that Americans targeted overseas do have rights, but he said they could not be enforced in court either before or after the Americans were killed.’”
(Indeed, the Obama administration has previously claimed the power to be judge, jury and executioner in both drone and cyber-attacks. This violates Anglo-Saxon laws which have been on the books in England and America for 800 years.)
The Executive Branch also presents “secret evidence” in many court cases … sometimes even hiding the evidence from the judge who is deciding the case.
Bush destroyed much of the separation of powers which made our country great. But under Obama, it’s gotten worse.
For example, the agency which decides who should be killed by drone is the same agency which spies on all Americans.
After Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Chris Hedges, journalist Naomi Wolf, Pentagon Papers whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg and others sued the government to enjoin the NDAA’s allowance of the indefinite detention of Americans – the judge asked the government attorneys 5 times whether journalists like Hedges could be indefinitely detained simply for interviewing and then writing about bad guys. The government refused to promise that journalists like Hedges won’t be thrown in a dungeon for the rest of their lives without any right to talk to a judge.
The Department of Justice has also tapped Congressional phones, and a high-level NSA whistleblower says that the NSA is spying on – and blackmailing – top government officials and military officers including all 9 Supreme Court justices.
It’s not just the Executive Branch which has attacked the courts. For example, Congress passed a bill stripping courts of the power to review issues related to genetically modified foods. […]
* THE HUNTED AND THE HATED: AN INSIDE LOOK AT THE NYPD’s STOP-AND-FRISK POLICY
A secret audio recording of a stop-and-frisk in action sheds unprecedented light on a practice that has put the city’s young people of color in the NYPD’s crosshairs. Read the full story at: http://www.thenation.com/article/1704…
* KOCH BROTHERS FLOUT LAW GETTING RICHER WITH SECRET IRAN SALES
By Asjylyn Loder & David Evans, Bloomberg
In May 2008, a unit of Koch Industries Inc., one of the world’s largest privately held companies, sent Ludmila Egorova-Farines, its newly hired compliance officer and ethics manager, to investigate the management of a subsidiary in Arles in southern France. In less than a week, she discovered that the company had paid bribes to win contracts.
“I uncovered the practices within a few days,” Egorova- Farines says. “They were not hidden at all.”
She immediately notified her supervisors in the U.S. A week later, Wichita, Kansas-based Koch Industries dispatched an investigative team to look into her findings, Bloomberg Markets magazine reports in its November issue.
By September of that year, the researchers had found evidence of improper payments to secure contracts in six countries dating back to 2002, authorized by the business director of the company’s Koch-Glitsch affiliate in France.
“Those activities constitute violations of criminal law,” Koch Industries wrote in a Dec. 8, 2008, letter giving details of its findings. The letter was made public in a civil court ruling in France in September 2010; the document has never before been reported by the media.
Egorova-Farines wasn’t rewarded for bringing the illicit payments to the company’s attention. Her superiors removed her from the inquiry in August 2008 and fired her in June 2009, calling her incompetent, even after Koch’s investigators substantiated her findings. She sued Koch-Glitsch in France for wrongful termination. […]