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[l] at 11/28/22 9:43am
Hundreds of supporters of incarcerated Native American rights activist Leonard Peltier rallied at the nations capital on Sunday to demand President Joe Biden grant clemency to the long-held prisoner.  Hes 78-years-old, he has type 2 diabetes and an abdominal aortic aneurysm thats fatal if it ruptures. He had a stroke where he lost 80 percent of the vision in one of his eyes,” Rachel Thunder, one of the organizers for the rally, told Shadowproof. “He should be spending the remainder of his life with his family, not locked up in a cage.  Thunder was one of many Peltier supporters who walked across the country to raise awareness of his incarceration as part of a national Walk To Justice that began earlier this year. The march started on September 1 in Minneapolis, Minnesota and took nearly three months to complete. Participants covered over 1,100 miles before arriving at their final destination of Washington, D.C on November 13.   This public spectacle by Peltier’s supporters is just the latest development in an half century-long international campaign advocating for his release. Nelson Mandela, The Dalai Lama, Pope Francis, Desmond Tutu, and Mother Teresa are among the figures who have petitioned for Peltiers freedom throughout his 47 years of imprisonment.  Supporters of Native American rights activist and political prisoner Leonard Peltier march toward the Lincoln Memorial, waving flags for the American Indian Movement, to demand President Joe Biden grant his release from federal prison. (Photo by Sam Bishop.) The high-profile prisoner was originally convicted in 1977 for the murder of two FBI agents after a shootout on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota.  Peltier was, at the time, a member of the American Indian Movement. The organization was formed in 1968 as a Native American civil rights group and subsequently became famous for their high profile political protests in the 1970s, such as their occupations of Alcatraz Island in 1969 and the Bureau of Indian Affairs headquarters in 1971. Peltier was invited to the Pine Ridge Reservation by locals who claimed that a corrupt tribal official named Dick Wilson and his cronies were responsible for the unsolved deaths of several dozen political opponents. Wilson had allegedly operated a private militia, known as the Guardians of the Oglala Nation (GOONs), to terrorize anyone on the reservation critical of his administration.  Wilson was unpopular among many in the tribe after becoming chairman in 1972. Soon after, his most vocal critics found themselves targeted with violence. Those who spoke out against Wilson found their homes shot up in drive-by shootings or set on fire in the dead of night. This string of violent incidents left over 60 dead with all of the killings labeled as unsolved. Finally, when a team of white lawyers came to the reservation to investigate the attacks, their plane was riddled with bullets and they were ambushed and beaten by Wilson and his men. Peltier was hoping to counter the violence and oust Wilson by organizing local residents on the reservation. On June 26, 1975 while driving to the home where he and other AIM activists had been staying, he found himself pursued by two unmarked cars. The cars belonged to FBI Special Agents Ronald Williams and Jack Coler, who began following Peltier while attempting to locate a man named Jimmy Eagle who had allegedly stolen a pair of boots.  Despite Peltier having no connection to Eagle, the agents followed him from the main road of town onto private property until he stopped in the middle of his driveway and exited his car to confront them. Peltier alleges the agents began shooting at him the moment they saw he was armed, and never identified themselves as law enforcement. Peltier returned fire and two AIM members, Robert Robideau and Darrelle Butler, rushed from the home and opened fire on the agents from the ridge top, mortally wounding them.  Both Robideau and Butler were acquitted of murder after arguing they had acted in self defense. Peltier, whose gunfire had never actually struck the agents, was tried separately. Once the trial began, a number of witnesses came forward to testify against him. Their testimonies made up the bulk of the prosecutions case, alleging Peltier had confessed to the murders while others who testified claimed to have witnessed the murders themselves. Peltier’s supporters point out that witness testimony contradicts the ballistic evidence, and that a number of witnesses who testified against Peltier have since recanted their statements. Today, most of those who originally testified for the prosecution now publicly say that they were coerced by the FBI, and in some cases had never actually met Peltier or even knew who he was before testifying against him. One witness even admitted during trial that she was paid $42,000 by the FBI in exchange for her cooperation on the case. “I looked at this [case] as a member of the federal judiciary and what happened was clear to me,” Kevin Sharp—a former federal judge that came to lead Peltier’s legal team—told the crowd.  “The constitutional violations that occurred to convict this man were clear to me. The violations were so open and obvious but, wasn’t clear to me was the why,” he said. “I’ve spent the last few years slowly uncovering that.”  Former U.S. Attorney James Reynolds, whose office originally prosecuted Peltier, also spoke at the rally, sharing similar statements while calling for the activists sentence to be commuted.  “Years ago, I wrote a letter to President Obama, joining Leonard in asking for clemency, and I did that because I thought it was my duty in the name of justice—because justice in this case is clemency for Leonard.” Reynolds explained during the rally.  Climate lawyer Steve Donziger, who last year was sentenced to 6 months in prison for contempt of court in a case which, like Peltier’s, has earned him the title of political prisoner, also spoke in favor of clemency.  “What’s happening to Leonard in my view, yes its persecution, yes its oppression but its also really really weak.” Donziger told the crowd. “When a person has a message that’s so threatening to these entrenched interests of power, they will mobilize the judicial system and other levers of governmental power to try and silence that person, and weaponize that person to scare everyone else who will do work on that kind of level.”  While many advocates called for Peltier’s release on the grounds of his innocence, members of his family are demanding his freedom for more personal reasons. “I’ve only known my father through stories,” Kathy Peltier said of her father. “Everyone would tell me what a funny guy he was. I never saw that. The only time I ever saw him he was always serious and it was when I was visiting him in jail.” President Joe Biden’s administration is the fifth to face pressure from Peltier supporters petitioning for his release. During previous clemency talks during the Clinton Administration, 500 FBI Agents picketed the White House in an unprecedented protest by federal law enforcement to demand that Peltier stay in jail. His supporters hope they can mount more pressure on the administration than their opponents this time around.  Organizers say they will stay in Washington, D.C to meet with government officials over the next few days regarding the possibility of President Biden granting clemency on compassionate grounds. So far, 11 members of Congress have signed an open letter to the administration asking for Peltier to be released. The post Leonard Peltier Supporters Walk Over 1,000 Miles To Demand Freedom For Native American Activist appeared first on Shadowproof.

[Category: Featured Reporting, Latest News, Prison Protest, American Indian Movement, Clemency, Leonard Peltier]

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[l] at 11/28/22 9:11am
This article was funded by paid subscribers of The Dissenter Newsletter. Become a monthly paid subscriber to help us continue our independent journalism.In August, a lawsuit against the CIA, former CIA director Mike Pompeo, UC Global, and UC Global director David Morales was filed that alleged Americans who visited WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange when he was living in the Ecuador embassy had their privacy rights violated.Attorney Richard Roth filed a complaint on behalf of two attorneys, Deborah Hrbek and Margaret Ratner-Kunstler, and two journalists, Charles Glass and John Goetz. They say they were spied upon by the CIA-backed operation when they met with Assange.The lawsuit will be deliberated over in a United States court in the Southern District of New York. It was assigned to Judge John Koeltl.Kevin Gosztola recently spoke with Richard about the status of the lawsuit and what happens next.   Enjoy the interview? Leave us a tip! GOSZTOLA: What is the status of the case?ROTH: The current status is we have filed a complaint, which has received a tremendous amount of attention (for good reason). And we are in the process of serving the summons and complaint. We served it on Mike Pompeo. We served it on the CIA, which is the United States’ Attorney’s Office which represents the CIA. And we are in the middle of serving it on two Spanish—one entity and one individual—but the two defendants who live in Spain.Once we do that, we have a conference schedule. I think it’s January 17, and we will set a roadmap for discovery and ultimately the trial of this case.GOSZTOLA: I know one of the issues for this case when you are proving that people’s rights were systematically violated. Particularly, when you are involving the Central Intelligence Agency, you have to have standing. If you went into court tomorrow and you had to prove to the judge you had standing, what would you say to the judge?ROTH: So great question. I like how you artfully asked it. The bottom line is that I would say the following. I would say we have four US individuals, all of whom were on embassy soil. That is diplomacy soil. And each of them are protected by the Fourth Amendment. The Fourth Amendment provides protection from any search and seizure—whether you’re in the US or whether you’re in Bangladesh—for any US citizen.Here they happen to have been in London at the Ecuador embassy, and they because they’re US citizens have that right to not be violated, not be invaded by the CIA or any governmental entity. There’s a process, Your Honor, and the process essentially requires the CIA, or whoever it may be that wants to tape record conversations, to go and get a search warrant. They have to show probable cause. They have to go before a judge. They have to get an order.Only upon those events can they go and actually listen in on conversations or copy conversations. Without that, it gives us standing, and it’s a violation of the Fourth Amendment. GOSZTOLA: Just to make sure I cover all the bases, up to this point are there any responses from the lawyers or attorneys that will be representing the CIA? I know you issued a complaint to Mike Pompeo in his private capacity. Have you received any response? ROTH: We have not. They have been radio silent. One thing we know, which gives us tremendous confidence, is that there’s a lawsuit pending in Spain, and El País, which is the largest newspaper reports on it frequently. And we’ve amassed a series of information from that Spanish lawsuit. So we’re very comfortable in our position. We believe that we can prove what we need to prove, but to date, nobody has given a response. GOSZTOLA: Part of the lawsuit that you have filed is enabled by some of that journalism that has been done, as you’re saying. We have El País  who has investigated. We have the Yahoo! News from September 2021 that laid out some details; actually made Mike Pompeo a central figure. So a lot of evidence that you’re bringing into court, a lot of it’s public now. But by bringing this lawsuit, you believe that there will be an opportunity for a discovery phase in order to investigate and uncover even more detail on the violations of people’s privacy rights.ROTH: We believe there’s a tremendous amount of discovery. We believe that there are hundreds of communications by and between the defendants, which went into the New York and Washington offices of the CIA (at minimum). We believe we’re entitled to all those communications. We believe we’re also entitled to what they actually imaged.Remember, the allegations are that when you went to the embassy, you gave the embassy personnel every computer device you had, whether it be a phone, an iPad, a laptop. And they imaged everything while you were meeting Assange.So, we will be able to get a tremendous amount of information, and we are looking forward to the judge giving us an opportunity to get that.GOSZTOLA: You believe that this could have potentially affected over a thousand of people from the US, who you could consider US persons in one way or another. Put that in perspective. In terms of a case involving people’s privacy rights, what does that really mean? What does that number mean?ROTH: The number is for anyone that visited embassy. Remember, Julian Assange was in there for seven years. He had friends. He had family. He had doctors. He had journalists. He had people that he worked with visited him, and he had lawyers visit him. So that number is not all US citizens, meaning they can’t all be plaintiffs, but people have come forward since the filing of the complaint saying hey, I’m a US citizen. I want to be a plaintiff.It means a lot because not only did the CIA violate the Fourth Amendment by wrongfully taking information of everyone, but there’s a lot of other things they violated, like for example, every attorney has attorney-client privilege. If I represented you, any communications we would have either oral or in writing are privileged. By going in and listening to the conversations between Assange and either Ms. Hrbek or Ms. Kunstler, the CIA essentially violated the sanctity of attorney-client privilege.Not only that, but if they went in and imaged, as we alleged, the computers of these lawyers, then they have attorney-client privileged information of the lawyers, which doesn’t even relate to Assange. So Deborah Hrbek has a memo to a client, to her client in her computer, and the CIA actually imaged it. Then they have additional information, which has nothing to do with Assange.Add to that [Assange] saw doctors so they have doctor-patient information. So there’s a lot of information that we think they have, all illegally, which we want.GOSZTOLA: Then, of course, there’s the two journalists. You’ve got Charles Glass and John Goetz, and those two individuals as journalists—at least as far as the norms that are accepted within the society in the United States—is that you should not be explicitly targeting those individuals.And I suppose it’s worth pointing out while this lawsuit is unfolding that it’s now been codified by the Justice Department that they are not supposed to target journalists. That is to allow them to become collateral damage in prosecutions, whether those involve leaks or other criminal investigations. So there could not be a justification for targeting your two journalist clients.I suppose they could argue in retrospect they did have the justification if they think they were spying on them in the context of a criminal investigation. But by and large, we accept those people are entitled to their privacy.ROTH: Absolutely. So we have journalists that went in and interviewed Assange, and they went in and the CIA went and took that. Can you imagine what that does to investigative journalism, if an investigative journalist that he’s being tape recorded by the CIA?And on top of that even, the doctors, there are doctors that went to visit Julian Assange. There’s a doctor-patient privilege, which he has. If he is going to see a doctor for an ailment or illness, why in god’s name would the CIA be entitled to that information?Yes, the journalists, the doctors, the lawyers. It’s just really, really inappropriate. And it’s overreaching, and the irony is that the US has indicted Julian Assange for essentially wrongfully disclosing information. In the meantime, what is the CIA doing? They are worse than Assange because they are wrongfully taking information. So, yeah, it’s interesting how what’s good for the goose as they say is not necessarily good for the gander.GOSZTOLA: You mention there are people who have come to you who say they’ve been spied on too. Is there any likelihood that this gets certified as some kind of a class action because there are a number of people who have been targeted allegedly?ROTH: There are people who have come to us. Some of them we exclude because they are not US citizens. Tomorrow I’m meeting with somebody else. There is a chance that it goes to a class action lawsuit, although the goal is not to complicate the litigation. Class action lawsuits by definition complicates it because you got to certify the class, and there’s motions over that.Our goal here really is to essentially seek grievance for the four people who did come to us, and say listen, you just can’t do this. So right now, our only clients are these four, but there’s a likelihood it will expand.GOSZTOLA: It’s worth pointing out that what you’re doing is a valuable check on the power of the executive branch when in fact what we’ve seen is an incredible lack of interest and action on the part of the legislative branch in order to investigate. Which is to say that we know that the House intelligence committee, or the Senate intelligence committee, could find that this is very troubling that the CIA engaged in this activity against a diplomatic outpost or an embassy.I can’t imagine what would happen if we found out that a country was targeting explicitly [a United States] embassy while they were hosting somebody who was an asylum seeker, say a rival power was targeting people as they came in and out, and they investigated those visitors. That they violated their privacy. We know the outrage that we would hear from the US State Department, and yet there hasn’t been any public assessment or address when it comes to this issue.Your lawsuit is very important I think for forcing that out into the open. Because even if for some reason the CIA is able to stifle this lawsuit—or Pompeo is able to stifle your lawsuit, you’ve at least made this a public issue.ROTH: That’s correct. And let’s not forget, not only did they go in and image each of the plaintiffs’ computers, laptops, and phones while they left it with security. The CIA actually had recording devices, audio and video recording devices, in the conference room where they met Assange. So they have everything, and what we learn in the Spanish case, these individuals that worked for UC Global essentially were asking their bosses, why am I tape recording and sending these tapes back to Washington? I don’t understand what Washington had to do with it.There were individuals who were employees of this company that were stuck in the middle. They wanted to keep their job, and they couldn’t understand why information about Julian Assange would go to the CIA. So, we have some very, very damning information against the CIA and Pompeo, and we intend on pursuing it.GOSZTOLA: One of the final questions I have for you is to point out that, yes, people might be cynical. If they are following this Assange case closely and if they are following things related to this spying operation, they might have seen that the Spanish court has had some significant difficulties when it comes to getting information from the Justice Department, to get compliance. I know they want to know the IP addresses, who was making those connections, where were those computers, what were those computers that were receiving this data.But why don’t you take a moment just to point out what you’ll be able to do as somebody who is a US lawyer and in a US court in order to force the discovery of this information. It won’t be as easy to not comply and deny you information that the Spanish court is not able to get.ROTH: That’s absolutely right. What we’ve learned from the Trump era, four years, is that they are masterful at avoiding processes. They have avoided everything that the Spanish court has sought, even by subpoena. We know what they did with the January 6th committee, where they wouldn’t produce documents and testify. We know what happened with the impeachment proceedings and the entire presidential organization.So, they essentially are very good at either stonewalling or refusing to produce documents. Recently, when the tax documents were ordered to be produced, Trump appealed that again.To your point, [the Spanish court does] not have the federal authority of a federal court judge. A federal court judge was appointed to the case, a guy by the name of Judge Koeltl. As is true of all federal court judges, he was appointed by the President of the United States. They have tremendous power. They can compel Mike Pompeo and the CIA to produce documents. If they don’t, they could be held in contempt of court and could go to jail.When you have federal court judge, someone you don’t mess with, whoever it may be, you can’t play the games that they played in Spain with the Spanish court. They played with the January 6th committee. They played with other organizations. This is the judge, and the judge is going to say to them I want you to produce it and I want you to produce it now. That’s going to help us out much more than any other dispute before another foreign organization.GOSZTOLA: Its important to mention that Judge Koeltl already had a case before him that  involved WikiLeaks and already came down on the side of protecting freedom of the press when the Democratic National Committee chair Tom Perez tried to lump WikiLeaks with alleged Russian agents and with the Trump campaign, when it came to their alleged examples of interference in the 2016 election. He said no, if you obtain hacked materials, which is what WikiLeaks did, then they have an absolute right to publish just as anybody in the United States does under the First Amendment.You must feel pretty good knowing that you’ve got somebody who is going to preside over this case, who has a history with WikiLeaks and isn’t going to see just see that this involves Julian Assange and have some kind of irrational response to your efforts.ROTH: I think we are very fortunate to get Judge Koeltl, not necessarily because of that prior decision but because of his experience. He’s a Harvard grad. He worked at a major law firm. He was involved with the Watergate prosecution team. He was appointed by President Bill Clinton in 1994. So, he’s been at the federal court bench almost thirty years.You don’t say no to a federal court judge that’s been there for a year. He’s been there for twenty-eight, I believe. Certainly, it’s a really great force that we have, and if the federal government wants to reckon with it, then Judge Koeltl will definitely be on our side.Listen, he’s very unbiased. He very professional. He’s unbelievably experienced. Nothing is going to slip past him. So, we’re lucky we have a judge with such experience and stamina.GOSZTOLA: The last thing I’ll ask, I think we have to make clear that you’re not on Julian Assange’s legal team. You’re representing these people that are coming before court or will come before the court and argue that their privacy rights were violated and present the evidence as best possible. But that extradition case and the potential for Julian Assange to be put on trial in the United States is going to be a backdrop and could potentially be happening at the same time that this moves through the court.Is there anything that you want to say about this dynamic and what it means for your lawsuit?ROTH: You hit it on the head. There’s not much more to say except that, think about this. If the CIA is in Assange’s conference room, listening in on conversations that he had with his lawyer for that case—Remember, years ago he brought a very experienced DC lawyer to help him defend against this indictment, which was released three years ago, but it was sealed initially.  Could you imagine if the CIA, the government prosecuting Assange already has conversations between Assange and his lawyer? And even documents? So, there really is a stink to it.In the other case, we don’t represent Assange in the other matter, but I have even as a lawyer and American, I have a problem with the government going in and actually taking information against if you will its adversary in that case.We’ll see how it plays out. I’m not sure what’s going to happen. He’s probably going to be extradited. He’ll probably be tried in Virginia. It is a very complicated case. It’s a difficult case. The First Amendment cries out in that case. So, we will see what happens in that case, and this is somewhat intertwined to the extent that the government, his adversary, went and took information from him—which is a subject matter of this case—for that case.GOSZTOLA: It’s kind of intertwined because your lawsuit is going to hopefully succeed in proving even more than we already know. That the CIA was connected to this private security company. I think it’s like a half dozen or so people. It’s a small outfit that was engaged in providing the security for the Ecuador embassy.But hopefully we’ll be able to actually, truly through your lawsuit connect that, and then I imagine even though that’s not the goal of your lawsuit immediately, it might open some doors for the Assange defense because they’ll be able to introduce that into their evidence.In fact, I imagine the cases move in the same way that the extradition proceedings have in some ways been affected and influenced periodically by what’s happening in Spain. Just because you cannot separate these issues. Like you’re saying, if the CIA is targeting the person who the US is trying to prosecute, it’s hard to believe that you could get fair justice.ROTH: That’s exactly right. And we will see how this plays out. They’re very important cases, both of them, in our country. They have tremendous significance. Listen, we all believe in the CIA and its powers, and we believe its a necessity to know what’s going on in Ukraine and Russia, to know what’s going on in the Middle East. But every federal government, every organization, every branch of government has to stay within its boundaries. And our lawsuit really tests those boundaries to see whether or not the government, the CIA in particular and Mike Pompeo, are really going way over the line.GOSZTOLA: You mentioned that your judge was involved in the Watergate prosecution, and it seems like we’re looking at similar excesses here. And so, it’s not unheard of. Americans are pretty familiar with the periods in history when their government agencies acted out of line, crossed into trampling on rights, and they know that it’s the job of people, whether it be attorneys, journalists, or elected representatives, judges and courts, to rein those people in.ROTH: That’s right. It’s interesting. It’s not going to be easy. We’re going to have a lot of obstacles. Were going to have a lot of road blocks. But we will get there. The post Attorney: Plenty To Uncover On CIA-Backed Spying That Violated Privacy Of Assange Visitors appeared first on Shadowproof.

[Category: Dissenter Featured, Latest News, The Dissenter, CIA, Julian Assange, Spying, The Dissenter Newsletter, WikiLeaks]

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[l] at 11/10/22 11:14am
Originally published at Ongoing History of Protest MusicOn October 31, 2022, trailblazing singer-songwriter and activist Patrick Haggerty died at the age of 78. A few weeks earlier he suffered a stroke. He fronted Lavender Country which is widely believed to be the first openly gay country band. In 1973, they released their self-titled debut often cited as the first gay-themed country album. Initially, there were only 1000 copies printed. The album later garnered interest from historians, music journalists, and record collectors. In 2014, the album was reissued by the Paradise of Bachelors label. Haggerty also embarked on a nationwide tour, which introduced a new generation to his music. Paying tribute to Haggerty, Paradise of Bachelors co-founder Brendan Greaves wrote: “He was more than a hero; he was also a friend, mentor, comrade, and fatherly figure for us and our families. He was hilarious too; it was always an adventure spending time with him.” In 2019, Lavender Country released their long-awaited sophomore album, Blackberry Rose. Three years later, the album received increased exposure when it was reissued by Don Giovanni Records. “Patrick Haggerty was one of the funniest, kindest, bravest, and smartest people I ever met,” Don Giovanni Records stated. “He never gave up fighting for what he believed in, and those around him who he loved and took care of will continue that fight.” As an openly gay artist in a conservative genre, simply creating music was a political statement, especially back in 1973 during the wake of Stonewall uprising. But Haggerty took it further by using his lyrics to address social issues. One notable example is “Waltzing Will Trilogy” off the 1973 self-titled album. Haggerty directly calls out the “pack of straight white honky quacks” who administer shock treatment to homosexuals (“they call it mental hygiene but I call it psychic rape”). The tune also addresses how young gay men were beaten to death by police and sodomized by prison guards. In the liner notes to Strong Love, a 2012 compilation of early gay artists, musician Richard Dworkin wrote: “One could argue that Patrick Haggerty … was as in-your-face shocking and transgressive as anything the [70s] would produce—up to and including the Sex Pistols and Dead Kennedys.” RIP Patrick Haggerty (September 27, 1944-October 31, 2022) The post Protest Song Of The Week: Waltzing Will Trilogy By Lavender Country appeared first on Shadowproof.

[Category: Latest News, The Dissenter, Protest Song of the Week]

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[l] at 11/3/22 5:57pm
This article was funded by paid subscribers of The Dissenter Newsletter. Become an annual paid subscriber to help us continue our coverage of whistleblowers.A National Security Agency whistleblower unearthed a hot-shot analyst’s unauthorized “project” that targeted the communications of citizens or persons in the United States, according to a top secret inspector general report from 2016.The project, or “experiment,” was not approved by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, the attorney general, the NSA director, or the director for the division that handles signals intelligence. It was also not vetted by the analyst’s chain of command or any NSA officers responsible for oversight.Journalist Jason Leopold obtained a highly censored version of the 2016 report through a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit and co-authored a paywalled article about what that report revealed for Bloomberg.On March 18, 2013, only a few months before NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden exposed several of the NSA’s mass surveillance programs, a whistleblower stumbled upon a colleague who was collecting or attempting to collect a “large volume of telephone numbers without any foreign intelligence purpose.”The whistleblower, or “source,” who was a “global network analyst,” complained to several offices tasked with oversight. They then shared what they found with the inspector general’s office in May, and on June 18, while the NSA reeled from the unprecedented scrutiny brought about by Snowden’s disclosures, they contacted the Office of General Counsel, which is the NSA’s legal office.A group of “management officials” at the NSA considered the whistleblower complaint in several meetings and email exchanges, but even with the fallout from Snowden, they largely maintained that the concerns were unfounded. The unauthorized project started collecting—or attempting to collect data—that included US persons communications as early as 2012.According to the whistleblower, multiple people in NSA oversight positions lacked the technical expertise to understand what the analyst was doing with their project. They did not understand why the analyst’s collection was in violation of clear procedures.The inspector general concluded, “Although [the analyst] was told by different supervisors, oversight officials, and attorneys that his activities were acceptable, he was told by others to stop immediately.”“[The analyst] acted with reckless disregard of the regulations, policies, and procedures that governed the use of the SIGINT system,” the inspector general added, which essentially means he abused his access to programs that enabled mass surveillance. It is unclear if the analyst who acted recklessly suffered any consequences. He obviously was not prosecuted for engaging in misconduct.“When I said in 2013 that while I was at the NSA I could pull the communications of anyone who passed through our net—including Americans—officials hotly contested the claim and a lot of folks believed them,” Snowden told Bloomberg. “But it was true, as the NSA itself secretly acknowledges.” Snowden continued, “Defenders of broad surveillance authorities always insist that Americans don’t have to worry because our intelligence agencies are tightly constrained by law and policy. But time and again we’ve seen that when laws are violated and powers are abused, no one is held legally accountable.”In fact, as Leopold highlighted, on April 21, 2014, a year into the investigation by the inspector general, the whistleblower contacted the office again to allege that the analyst was still targeting US communications.“I wasn’t sure whether to report it or wait till he actually gets collection (if any),” the whistleblower wrote. “Also wasn’t sure whether to send the information to you or file a new report with the IG hotline.”The NSA employee who abused his access was interviewed for the inspector general’s investigation and asserted that his “project” fell under Executive Order 12333, which is a toothless presidential order that US security agencies have invoked to justify the expansion of mass surveillance.Asked about the “foreign intelligence purpose” of the project, the analyst told the inspector general that it was to “make the collection system healthier, the analytic powers richer, and the system more efficient.” (Part of his response was censored in the declassified report.)One official claimed that the analyst had not asked for permission to pursue the project and had been told to “stop the project.” At least a few NSA employees saw it as an experiment.There was no audit mechanism for ensuring the project was compliant with NSA procedures. The inspector generals report said, “He was the only person working on the project, and each day he did not know what he might try to do, what made sense, was easily sustainable, repeatable, and defensible.” He proceeded “[kind of] by the seat of his pants.” As Demand Progress, an advocacy organization which has challenged abuses of power that threaten civil liberties, noted, the investigation pointed to Title VII of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) that contains “Section 702,” which the US government has “abused for years to knowingly access Americans’ communications without a warrant.” The congressional intelligence committees have claimed to be robust overseers of intelligence agencies. If accurate, this inspector general report should not only be known to them, but also the subject of serious investigation,” declared Sean Vitka, a senior policy council for Demand Progress. “We call on the House and Senate intelligence committees to release what they know, including how many people this illegal activity impacted, what punishments the people involved faced, and what the committees have done to ensure this never happens again.”“The government has abused its surveillance powers for too long and blatantly disregarded the privacy rights of the American people. Like the FBI’s recent wrongful spying on business, religious, civic, and community leaders, this adds to the mounting evidence that Title VII is simply too dangerous to reauthorize,” Vitka concluded. The post NSA Whistleblower Unearthed Project That Targeted US Communications appeared first on Shadowproof.

[Category: Latest News, The Dissenter, Edward Snowden, NSA, surveillance, The Dissenter Newsletter]

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[l] at 10/26/22 8:12pm
Originally published at Ongoing History of Protest MusicIn Virginia, back in 1759, a white Scottish servant named Elizabeth Gallimore fell in love with a black slave whose name had been lost over time. Their great-great-great-great-great-great-great-grandson, Xavier Amin Dphrepaulezz, who performs under the pseudonym Fantastic Negrito, has released a compelling concept album, White Jesus Black Problems, based on his recently discovered lineage. The ambitious multimedia project includes a companion film, and Fantastic Negrito says the project was produced to challenge a popular narrative around polarization.“There’s a feeling out there right now that we can’t get anything done because we’re so polarized, soentrenched in our ideologies and unmoved by facts or logic, but I wanted to share this story because Ithink it smashes that narrative to pieces, Fantastic Negrito declared. I stand on the shoulders of my ancestors, both Black and white, who showed me that anything is possible. There was a lot of ugliness in their story, but there was a lot of beauty, too, because in the end, perseverance overcame.Man with No Name, which appears on the album, is a painful reminder that often the identity and experiences of the oppressed are erased. With the song (and album), the stories of the courageous forgotten are reclaimed and finally told. The message, I keep moving on, encourages perseverance even when it is difficult to be hopeful. The post Protest Song Of The Week: Man With No Name By Fantastic Negrito appeared first on Shadowproof.

[Category: Latest News, The Dissenter, Protest Song of the Week]

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[l] at 10/25/22 1:19pm
This article was funded by paid subscribers of The Dissenter Newsletter and originally published at TheDissenter.org. Become an annual paid subscriber to help us continue our independent journalism.The United States government censored parts of Chelsea Manning’s new book, where she attempted to describe the information she provided to WikiLeaks in 2010.Manning says she wrote README.txt because she had not really been able to tell her story, and this the book was a “first draft of history” from her perspective.“While I did testify a little bit during the court-martial, my voice has been kind of lost during this whole process,” Manning declared on “CBS Mornings.” However, the US government used the publication review system to block her from highlighting any of the documents from the Afghanistan War Logs, Iraq War Logs, or US Embassy cables that garnered widespread news headlines. “At the end of July, WLO [WikiLeaks organization] had uploaded seventy-five thousand records from what became known as the Afghan war logs to its site, and The Guardian, The New York Times, and Der Spiegel copublished them,” Manning recalls. “(The Iraq documents would be published later.) Public sentiment, already turning against the war, dipped still more with facts revealed in the documents—”The dash on the page leads to six black bars that hide what Manning had hoped to highlight for readers.Text resumes with, “The fallout from the release of Afghan SIGACTS [war logs] was instant and intense. The documents proved, unambiguously and unimpeachably, just how disastrous the war still was.”Specifics from the disaster that were detailed in the files Manning revealed are stricken from the pages. Do you support independent journalism? Then leave us a tip Manning was detained and held in harsh confinement at the Quantico Marine brig when the Iraq War Logs were released. She was “too disconnected to notice, too preoccupied with surviving with my faculties intact” to know that her disclosures were still the subject of “international media attention.”“What I now know is in late October, a larger group of journalistic outlets—The New York Times, The Guardian, Al Jazeera, Le Monde, the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, the Iraq Body Count Project, and Der Spiegel—partnered with one another and with WikiLeaks to publish the next round of disclosures: what became known as the Iraq war logs, more than 390,000 documents.”Two to three paragraphs of black bars follow. The US government refused to allow Manning to write about anything related to documents, which captured moments in a war and occupation that was a massive crime perpetrated against the people of Iraq. In the section on the US embassy cables, Manning describes how the files offered a “stunning look behind the curtain and showed just how frankly our officials talked in private about other countries and the way the United States threw its weight around on the international stage.”“Journalists immediately started using the cables to fact-check, to get a deeper understanding of the powerful institutions they covered, and to uncover new truths,” Manning adds.Yet as far as examples go, readers, who can easily access the cables and news stories that mention them, were deprived of further details because the US government censored much of this page during their publication review. Weaponizing The Classification System Against Manning Can Manning really tell her story if she cannot speak about details in the documents, especially those which had a positive impact on our world?This is all part of the US military weaponizing the classification system against Manning, which is what she contends Major Ashden Fein consistently did when he was the lead military prosecutor in her court-martial. “[Fein] requested that the most limited amount of information possible be released publicly—with huge redactions in even that. My right to a fair public trial was annihilated because of the very structure of my court-martial,” Manning argues. “Actually, it was effectively two courts-martial: there were the hearings that the world saw, and then there were the classified hearings, which were completely sealed.”The classified hearings not only presented a “fuller picture of what had led up to my decision,” but according to Manning, “just about everything that seemed broadly favorable to me appeared only in the classified evidence. Twenty-four of the witnesses the prosecution called gave their testimony, at least in part, under those conditions of secrecy.” I covered Chelsea Mannings trial extensively, and this is true. In fact, I dont know if I can really say I covered Mannings entire case cause I was not in the courtroom for classified hearings.Judge Colonel Denise Lind maintained, ‘The overriding interest of protecting national security information from disclosure outweighs any danger of miscarriage of justice.In other words, the very thing that helped me decide that leaking was worth it—the arbitrary, self-dealing, and occasionally manipulative use of the classification system—[was] weaponized against me, Manning declares.As Manning puts it, “The control this gave the government verged on Kafkaesque. For example, the cables that I had leaked, which anyone in the world could call up via a simple Google search, remained classified.” A Security Regime That Pretends To Be Blind and Deaf This absurd secrecy was on display back in December 2011 when the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) requested twenty-three diplomatic cables, and the State Department responded with eleven censored cables. Officials also refused to release twelve cables and revealed a “roadmap” for classification decisions.  “The information released by the State Department is perhaps more sensitive than the cables themselves, revealing what the government thinks the public should and should not be able to see,” Anna Estevao and Nathan Freed Wessler wrote for the ACLU. “The government redacted significant portions of the eleven cables it released to us. But because WikiLeaks has already published the full text of each cable, we know what’s underneath those redactions.”The State Department “claimed the authority to conceal information that is embarrassing to or critical of the government, like criticism of the CIA’s black-site prison program and treatment of Guantanamo detainees, while releasing information that paints the US in a positive light. The government also redacted multiple passages containing information that has long been publicly available, such as the fact that Italian prosecutors alleged that a US military jet traversed Swiss airspace on the day the CIA kidnapped cleric Abu Omar from Milan.”Referring to the twelve cables that the State Department withheld as the “dirty dozen,” Estevao and Wessler highlighted their contents. …What is it they don’t want the public to see? Allegations that a former detainee sustained an injury during interrogation at Guantánamo, mention of the tension created between the US and the British and Irish governments over those countries’ disapproval of the US government’s extralegal rendition flights, an account of the Yemeni government’s role in facilitating US airstrikes in Yemen, an explanation of why torture at Abu Ghraib made the United States less secure, and a description of pressure brought by the US government on Germany to prevent Germany from holding the US accountable for kidnapping, torturing, and secretly detaining German citizen Khaled El-Masri. All of these cables describe issues of widespread public concern, so what’s the point of withholding them, but not the others? Like Estevao and Wessler asserted, the information could not do more “harm” to “national security” if released because the information was already public. Any “damage” was done when leaked.But the State Department hid “behind a security regime that pretends to be blind and deaf, maintaining that if they say something is secret, people don’t actually know it. This twisted logic defies reason and serves the government’s desire to only be held accountable for information and actions they choose to admit.”That security regime, which pretends to be blind and deaf, is the same one that benefits from a US court system that protects its authority to censor former US intelligence and military employees like Chelsea Manning.President Barack Obama may have commuted Mannings sentence, but she will never truly be free.As is the case for all military or national security whistleblowers prosecuted under the Espionage Act, the US government may forever instill fear that FBI agents could come to her home and take her off to jail if she dares to speak about the “classified information”—information we all are within our rights to read and share.This is also information which US officials are prosecuting WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange for publishing in an unprecedented attack on journalism.This is the second in a series of articles at The Dissenter on Chelsea Mannings new book. The first article can be read here. The post The Parts Of Chelsea Mannings Book Censored By The US Government appeared first on Shadowproof.

[Category: Dissenter Featured, Latest News, The Dissenter, Chelsea Manning, Secrecy, State Department, WikiLeaks]

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[l] at 10/25/22 1:11pm
This article was funded by paid subscribers of The Dissenter Newsletter and first published at TheDissenter.org. Become an annual paid subscriber to help us continue our independent journalism.In the United States government’s case against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, prosecutors claim that he communicated with US Army whistleblower Chelsea Manning through an encrypted chat client known as Jabber. Prosecutors highlight several alleged exchanges between Manning and a username, or handle, associated with Assange. Yet they have never been able to definitively prove that Manning was chatting with Assange, and Manning’s new book, README.txt, further complicates their case. Manning recalls in February 2010 that she told a chat room with individuals she believed to be associated with WikiLeaks that they could expect an “important submission.” She received a response from someone with the handle “office,” who changed their handle to “pressassociation.”At this time, Manning had prepared what became known as the “Collateral Murder” video for submission to WikiLeaks. The video showed an Apache helicopter attack in Baghdad by US soldiers that killed two Reuters journalists, Saeed Chmagh and Namir Noor-Eldeen, and Saleh Matasher Tomal, a good Samaritan who pulled up in a van and tried to help the wounded.“We eventually began to talk on another encrypted chat client, Jabber, and I saved the person in my contacts as ‘Nathaniel Frank,’ a decoy that was an homage to the author of a book I’d read the previous year (Unfriendly Fire: How the Gay Ban Undermines the Military and Weakens America),” Manning writes.Consistent with the statement she delivered during her court-martial in February 2013, she adds, “I never knew for sure who the real person was behind the ‘Nathaniel Frank’ handles. Over time, and from the role he played in the chat room, I came to understand this was an important person in the group.”“I guessed it was likely Julian Assange, or maybe Daniel Schmitt (now known as Daniel Domscheit-Berg), another central figure in WLO [WikiLeaks]. Or else it was someone representing them. To this day, I can’t say with absolute certainty who it was; that’s the point of having a handle online, of course. There are no driver’s licenses presented in the hacking world.”Manning mentions that she used a “random name generator” to get her handle: DawgNetwork. Do you support independent journalism? Then leave us a tip  Without Reference To The Specific Moniker In the indictment against Assange, prosecutors state, “No later than January 2010, Manning repeatedly used an online chat service, [Jabber], to chat with Assange, who used multiple monikers attributable to him.”“The grand jury will allege that the person using these monikers is Assange without reference to the specific moniker used,” according to the indictment. This illustrates the intent of US prosecutors to rely upon circumstantial evidence to tie Assange to the account, like they did during Manning’s court-martial. However, as was true during the court-martial, the government still cannot prove Assange was the WikiLeaks associate chatting with Manning under a specific moniker.During a four-week extradition hearing in September 2020, Assange’s legal team had Patrick Eller, a command digital forensic examiner responsible for a team of more than eighty examiners at US Army Criminal Investigation Command headquarters, provide testimony to the UK district court. He had access to the court-martial record.Eller said that he was unable to find any evidence that linked Assange to the “Nathaniel Frank” account.Now, in a government affidavit from 2019, assistant US attorney Kellen Dwyer claimed the US has a witness that the FBI interviewed in 2011, who will testify that Assange used the pressassociation account. The witness is a woman who was romantically involved with Assange and met him in Berlin in 2009.Dwyer also indicates that Siggi Thordarson, an FBI informant from Iceland who is a diagnosed sociopath and serial criminal, will testify that Assange used pressassociation as one of his online nicknames.None of this featured in the extradition proceedings, and Crown prosecutors did not contest Mark Summers QC, an Assange attorney, when he had Eller address the lack of proof that Assange used the account that chatted with Manning. Prosecutors subpoenaed Manning to testify before a grand jury in January 2019, and they likely hoped they could coerce her into answering questions about her chats with this particular account. But Manning was steadfast, maintained her grand jury resistance for nearly a year, and prosecutors were never able to elicit any testimony that could be used against Assange.Her book should help Assanges legal team establish reasonable doubt that Assange used the name, especially if they can show that other WikiLeaks associates had access to the account for chatting with potential sources. Contesting The US Governments Theory In The Assange Case The US governments theory of the case against Assange depends upon a narrative that involves Assange recruiting Manning to leak documents to WikiLeaks. Facts of the case have always conflicted with this conspiracy theory, and Manning raises a few of these facts.[Major Ashden] Fein tried to make it seem like Id started hunting around explicitly on behalf of WikiLeaks as soon as I got to Iraq. He pointed to a list they posted of they Most Wanted Leaks for 2009, and tried to claim that Id been looking for the Garani video in November, just two weeks after Id gotten to Iraq.This backfired, according to Manning. First of all, we has evidence that I hadnt uploaded the Garani video until the spring of 2010. Second, the video wasnt even on the Most Wanted list. Third, the vast majority of things Id posted werent on it either.In late March, as Manning details, searching through the CENTCOM directory for information I needed for my job, I discovered a video of a 2009 air strike in Garani, Afghanistan. More than one hundred Afghani civilians, mostly women and children, were accidentally killed, and the air strike had been covered all over the world.It was chilling to see death on that scale, and the conclusions of the report that accompanied it were even more disturbing to me than the ones for the video that became known as Collateral Murder.'Manning adds, What I was saw indelible and awful: graphic footage of women, children, and old people dying the most painful kind of death, a result of munitions containing white phosphorus hitting an extremely flammable structure.She submitted the Garani video to WikiLeaks, but the video was never published. The US governments report on what resulted in the deaths of so many innocent civilians remains highly classified. An exchange with “Nathaniel Frank” about the detainee assessment briefs, which were published as the “Gitmo Files,” is highlighted in the book. In the indictment against Assange, this exchange is the first alleged exchange between Manning and the person who prosecutors insist—without proof—was Assange.“I asked ‘Nathaniel Frank’—on March 7, the day of the Iraqi elections—what he thought. Were they worth publishing?” Manning shares. “He told me that it probably wouldn’t change much politically, but that perhaps they could be of use to the individual detainees in their legal battles, and that they seemed important for filling out the general historical record of the Guantanamo detainments.”What Manning writes aligns with the indictment, although the indictment is more vague. “Manning asked Assange how valuable the Guantanamo Bay detainee assessments would be,” and the account that prosecutors associate with Assange confirmed they had value.Manning engaged in chats with “Nathaniel Frank” because she yearned for a personal connection with anyone who would discuss topics that were of interest to her. They exchanged messages on politics and information technology.“Soon, we were talking almost every day, sometimes for almost an hour at a time, about a range of topics, not just whatever publications WikiLeaks was preparing,” Manning recounts. “I felt freer to be myself thanks to the cloak of anonymity the encrypted chat provided, and that was a lifeline to me then. It was an escape from the pressure and anxiety of the deployment.”“In retrospect, I realize that this meant more to me than it did to ‘Nathaniel Frank,’ and that our closeness was an artificial, circumstantial one. But I so badly needed an escape valve, and some semblance of friendship and trust.” This is the first in a series of articles at The Dissenter on Chelsea Mannings new book. The post Chelsea Mannings Book Further Complicates US Governments Case Against Julian Assange appeared first on Shadowproof.

[Category: Dissenter Featured, Latest News, The Dissenter, Chelsea Manning, Espionage Act, Julian Assange, Justice Department]

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[l] at 10/6/22 9:35am
In The Will to Change: Men, Masculinity and Change, bell hooks warns that it isn’t true that men are unwilling to change; they are actually afraid to change.  “It is true that masses of men have not even begun to look at the ways that patriarchy keeps them from knowing themselves, from being in touch with their feelings, from loving,” hooks writes in the 2004 edition of the book. “To know love, men must be able to let go of the will to dominate. They must be able to choose life over death. They must be willing to change.” In 2014, Charles Berry and Richie Reseda Edmond-Vargas put hooks’ words to the test by co-founding the Success Stories Program at the California Training Facility prison. The program is dedicated to treating some of the root causes of harm and violence—patriarchy and toxic masculinity—among people who are criminalized and incarcerated.  Also known as “The Feminist on Cellblock Y,” after being featured in a CNN documentary of the same name, Edmond-Vargas noticed an oversight in the programs offered to prisoners in California. Though there were instructional workshops on topics like anger management and substance abuse, none of the education on offer actually got to the heart of the problem: patriarchy. “Most behavioral issues, theyre all steeped in patriarchy, but nobody was talking about it [in prison].” Mannie Thomas III, Coach and Growth Coordinator of Success Stories and a previous participant of the program, said. “Richie really saw that oversight—we know everybodys bouncing around the idea of masculinity and patriarchy, and no ones really talking about it.” Edmond-Vargas took that oversight as an opportunity to speak about patriarchy at the gym, where he was laughed out of the room. He persisted, and through trial and error and conversation with Transformational Coach and Growth Coordinator Chris Johnson, came up with a method of sharing experiences in a conversational setting that started reaching incarcerated men and encouraging them to change. “Once we started to share very real stories, what weve seen is peoples ability to relate to the topic, the topic became real, right?” Thomas explained. “When you’re talking to a group of cisgender men about how patriarchy informs their life, and how it may keep them from being the highest version of themselves, or how it’s harming their community—before we told our stories, they couldnt really make the correlation.” Success Stories became a 12-week program where men are encouraged to reassess how they live their lives, and discover how to live more fully through the rejection of patriarchal values and toxic masculinity. The participants of the program meet once a week for two hours at a time and go through myriad topics.  Through exchanging stories and experiences on what matters most in the lives of the participants, participants redefine whats most important to them. After exploring the root causes of male violence, facilitators offer what they see as the remedy for patriarchy: integrity and relearning how to feel emotions. “We realized that while participating in patriarchy, men as a whole don’t have complex language to express complex emotions because we dont do it often,” Thomas said. “So we have a conversation about love and what it means, because we realize that most of us grew up with the definition of love that may not actually be that. And then well talk about our belief system and how it influences our behavior.” * In many ways, Success Stories is deconstructing and reconstructing the ways marginalized men relate to the world and to the people in their lives. Edward Munsuer, who attended the program while incarcerated, says that he learned another way to be a man through the workshops. “Most men focus on violence, money, and women, as well as repressing and covering up their true emotions,” Munsuer said. “The world makes us think that if we have the hottest girl, or the most money, or we are the toughest and punk people, or beat people up, then we are the coolest and everybody will like us. But when we treat people with love and equality, the world becomes a better place.” The program also powerfully teaches men how to love in healthy ways, recognizing that patriarchy and toxic masculinity might have hindered their ability to give and receive love. In a page of Munsuer’s notes during the program, he wrote down the “seven A’s of love” taught in the course: action, attention, acceptance, appreciation, affection, affirmations and actualization. Next to each word, Monsuer noted what made sense to him, and today he puts the lessons in practice. “My experience with Success Stories was quite profound,” he said. “It truly opened my eyes to focus on what’s important in life, as well as love for others.” The program also has a recommended list of books to accompany the conversations and learning experiences. All About Love, The Will to Change, and We Real Cool—all by bell hooks—are a few of the readings recommended to participants. According to Thomas, the reading is not a requirement but it can help men understand they are operating within a system of patriarchal capitalist exploitation.  “The thing that weve noticed about patriarchy and misogyny is that men feel like that were the only ones going through this,” Thomas said. “And a lot of us dont even recognise that were working within a system. So when you have the opportunity to read the literature, it makes it more real, because its like—oh, this isnt just me.”  The transformative power of the program is that it’s designed to reach all kinds of people from all kinds of backgrounds, and lead them to understand, together, that patriarchy and toxic masculinity have been imposed onto their lives from an early age. The collective discovery fosters a feeling of comradery and companionship that is the polar opposite of the isolation of patriarchy. “We were all given this template about masculinity and because we are part of this patriarchal system, weve experienced a lot of the same things right,” Thomas said. “This opens up the door for people to be more truthful and vulnerable, because theyre seeing somebody whos experienced the same thing. And it alleviates this isolation that we feel as men because, as men, were not told to help each other out. Some of the participants are doing that for the first time, it’s not comfortable for them, but its relieving and its healing.” The program has faced resistance and challenges since its inception. Thomas himself says he was skeptical of Edmond-Vargas when they first met in the prison yard. Thomas made a comment about Edmond-Vargas tattoo being gay, and his response was so non-accusatory and open-ended that Thomas became intrigued.  “He was like: ‘Have you ever considered that the way that you use language perpetuates the oppression of other people?’ I was like, bro, youre doing too much. And I was arrogant at the time. But then it was just eating at me, like, wait a minute, what am I missing? So I asked him about the group.”  The resistance Thomas described in himself, often held by some participants of the program, is overcome through the sharing of personal experiences with other men. This exchange exposes the similarities of the participants’ stories, and how patriarchy encouraged them to be violent to prove themselves as men.  From that point on, ignoring patriarchy as an active force in their lives becomes impossible, and so the work begins. But the most impactful part of Success Stories, which has an abolitionist politic behind its work and scope, is that it’s helping men be released from prison early with a better perspective on how to live a full life. While Thomas doesn’t have data to share on the program’s success yet, he says most of the core members of the organization were sentenced to life in prison and got out early largely due to the program. “We went from a program inside prison that nobody wanted to talk about to now a program thats not only inside, but is being taught in multiple prisons,” Thomas said. “The prisons gave us rehabilitative achievement credits, which means people who go through our program actually earn time off their sentence. That was huge.” Punishment and imprisonment, Thomas says, is not the solution for patriarchy and the harm caused by toxic masculinity — indeed, the current solutions we have for male violence generally result in recidivism and more harm instead of helping men of color find better ways to live in community. Still, he believes the program can be expanded beyond prison to prevent incarceration through educating boys before they offend.  “We hope to be the alternative to the punishment culture,” Thomas said. “Dont send people to jail, send them to our program because we believe true transformation is possible while people are still in our community without having to subjugate them to further isolation.” The post In California, Prisoners Organize Program To Confront Patriarchy And Toxic Masculinity appeared first on Shadowproof.

[Category: Featured Reporting, Latest News, Prison Protest, Patriarchy, Prison Programs, Toxic Masculinity]

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[l] at 9/28/22 8:07am
This article was funded by the Marvel Cooke Fellowship. Read more about this reporting project and make a contribution to fund our fellowship budget. At Washingtons Stafford Creek Corrections Center, a group of incarcerated organizers have built community with local youths to fight for sentencing reforms, grappling with what it means to organize through an abolitionist lens from inside. The Cultural Collective at Stafford Creek is a grassroots organization comprised of leaders from various independent cultural groups that include the Asian Pacific Islander Cultural Awareness Group, Black Prisoners Caucus, Nuestro Grupo Cultural (formerly Hispanic Cultural Group), and Native American Circle. Together, they are using every tool at their disposal—from building relationships around art with youth in the community to fighting for legislative change—that could potentially free people. While prison has widely been regarded as a place that thrives on violence, isolation, and division, the Cultural Collective transcends negative stereotypes by working in solidarity to uplift the voices of those most marginalized, and empowering those directly impacted by an unjust system. Although the organization has been guided by the legacies of the community and prison organizers who came before them, each respective group, despite the lack of support from local administration, has been dedicated to serving their community and building life affirming institutions. These groups organize youth summits, immigration seminars, cultural classes, social justice forums, and provide platforms for their peers to contribute positively to their communities. Community organizing has always been essential to survival for the incarcerated. Whether folks are getting together to demand better medical treatment and living conditions, pushing for access to quality education and resources, striving for space to keep cultural traditions alive, or fighting for sentencing relief through legislation, prison organizing has always been a struggle borne out of necessity. As prison organizing for criminal justice reforms flourished over the last decade, the Cultural Collective demonstrated that reforms within the current system will never be enough: that true change can only come from a movement that is of and by the people — a movement grounded in abolishing the prison industrial complex and cultivating a caring society. Leading up to Washington states 2022 legislative session, members of the Cultural Collective were approached by several of their peers for updates on upcoming bills that could potentially affect prisoners, and asked what work was being done to pass these bills. As outlined in a Change.org petition, there were four bills in particular that Cultural Collective members decided to push forward. The first, HB 1413, would have retroactively eliminated juvenile felonies in the calculation of adult sentences and ensure adults were eligible for resentencing if they had juvenile felonies factored into their sentences. SHB 1282 was intended to expand earned release time to 33 percent of the total sentence that an individual serves. Currently, earned time is capped at 10 percent for violent convictions. A third bill, HB 1344, would expand the pool of people eligible to have their sentences reviewed by the Washington State Indeterminate Sentencing Review Board. People who were under the age of 25 when their crime was committed could have their sentence reviewed after they served 15 years, or 25 years for those convicted of aggravated murder. Finally, SHB 1169 would have significantly altered guidelines around the application of sentencing enhancements and provide judges greater sentencing and resentencing discretion, which could have also applied retroactively. Because Washington state has some of the strictest sentencing laws in the nation and eliminated its parole system back in 1984, a change in the law may be the only hope at freedom for multitudes of prisoners stuck behind bars facing significant time. * Although legislative work does not traditionally align with the Cultural Collectives abolitionist principles, this interaction with other prisoners curious about these bills prompted the organization to at least have a conversation about possible steps moving forward, and what they could do to still be a voice and presence for their peers.  Some abolitionists are wary of legislative reform approaches because of their propensity to be co-opted or watered down by legislators. Major reform efforts, like the First Step Act, are seen as too piecemeal or failing to go far enough. Often more organized and law enforcement-adjacent groups can create devastating exemptions and loopholes in these efforts that fail to address core issues or, even worse, entrench them. Instead, some abolitionist organizers have prioritized other approaches, like community building and mutual aid, clemency campaigns, prisoner defense committees, and more.  While those organizing from the inside with the Cultural Collective align more with the latter, they also believe that any changes that do not shift power away from the system and back to the community are shortsighted and have the potential to only strengthen a system that must be dismantled. As the former president of the Clallam Bay Corrections Centers APICAG and a current advisor to the SCCC chapter, I have argued for a more traditional approach. I’ve contended the group should be more focused on dismantling the whole system. And that by dedicating limited group resources to a legislative process that has a history of deliberately excluding us, we would not only be stretching thin our resources, but legitimizing an inequitable and racist system. Showing the complexity of abolition, other members like 31 year old Billy Gumabon, who currently serves as SCCCs APICAG president, explained that remaining grounded in traditional abolitionist principles is a lot more complicated when youre literally in the eye of the storm. Gumabon, a Filipino-American incarcerated since he was 18 years old, spoke from his own experience and demonstrated the realities of being trapped in the system.  “There are inner contradictions that must be addressed while striving for a better society,” he said.  I believe that most folks who disagree with legislation or believe that legislation is contradictory to abolition are [oftentimes] those who arent directly impacted,” Gumabon continued. “I personally see abolition as a process. [Positive legislation] can help us take steps towards it. Cyril Walrond, the 33 year old president of SCCCs chapter of the BPC who was recently released from prison, suggested that the organization did not have to be one dimensional and that the organizations approach should be as nuanced as the oppression they endure. There were opportunities through the legislative process, he said, to educate the community that reform does not go far enough it never has, and it never will. As directly impacted people, organizing from within prison, and suffering under the oppressive and inhumane conditions of the carceral system, our organizing remains rooted in abolition, Walrond said. The Cultural Collective decided to advocate and support the four bills that their peers identified and felt would make the most impact and still align with their mission to undo the harms of disproportionate sentencing as a result of institutional racism. They agreed that they would do so only by centering the voices of those directly impacted, and working accountably and according to their abolitionist principles. * At a later APICAG board meeting, leaders discussed how they could contribute to the broader Cultural Collective agenda, and what steps needed to be taken in order to center the voices of those directly impacted. Because the four bills mainly focused on those convicted as youth/young adults—primarily those from black and brown communities—it was imperative that whatever steps were to be taken, they had to include youth of color. This sentiment was shared with the broader Cultural Collective, and everybody agreed that this was the best strategy moving forward. Although there were many nonprofit organizations and sentencing coalitions in the community that were already working on legislation, they were not necessarily accountable to the incarcerated people who they would ultimately impact. The Cultural Collective decided to bypass those professional lobbyists and began reaching out directly to youth organizations in the community to discuss a possible collaboration. One of the organizations that responded to the invitation was the Youth Consortium (YC), which, like the Cultural Collective, consists of young activists from various independent youth groups out of the greater Seattle area. This includes Creative Justice, Community Passageways, and the Rainier Beach Action Coalition. These youth have been working to better their own future, fighting for, and eventually procuring resources last year, to build a Youth Achievement Center. It is currently under construction in Seattle.  While each individual member of YC has their own unique story, one thing is clear: these young leaders are a force to be reckoned with, and have demonstrated that they are the future of the movement. During a preliminary conference call with YC staff and youth leadership, I pitched the idea to collect personal stories from prisoners about how their incarceration has affected them and their families and how the legislation could potentially provide them with sentencing relief. We turned those stories over to YC youth, and eventually collaborated on a visual arts project that could be shared with the community and legislators. The intention was to bring life to statistics and humanize bills that have oftentimes only been used as political bargaining chips. In the following months, leaders of the Cultural Collective held weekly calls with YC leadership, giving prisoners the opportunity to engage directly with the youth and answer any questions they may have had. While many of the conversations were centered around prisoners’ stories, there were opportunities for youth who had experienced the incarceration of a family member to ask questions about what life was like on the inside, and unpack some of the trauma this situation creates. These organic exchanges made space for prisoners to share their experiences in their hopes of preventing more youth from following in their footsteps. Youth Consortium is not just a group, but a family to me,” said one YC leader, who goes by the name Carmeezzy. “When I first joined, I was welcomed with open arms. Its a safe place to me, but also somewhere where I feel comfortable that my voice will be heard.” “YC is a place where we can talk about many issues in our community—for example, problems in prisons. We got to hear stories from people who are actually in prison who [in my opinion] got sentenced wrongly. We really got to hear from them and their stories, rather than what the system just tells us [about them],” they said. “I learned so much at YC. You really get the opportunity to be a leader and a listener. You get to grow together with [other] youth as a family. We help each other even our family in prison because we all are family. This unique process created space for intergenerational conversations about current social issues and possible solutions grounded in abolition. In some of the calls, there was also a lot of past trauma that was unpacked and real connections were made. The experience also inspired the youth to write their own stories to share. Dawit, a 20 year-old member of YC by way of Community Passageways, said he “noticed a similarity between youth and incarcerated organizers.” “Legislators and other powerful people use our voices only until they get our stories [and support] to help them with a particular agenda. Then they forget about us,” Dawit argued. “However, with this project, the youth and organizers at SCCC were in control of our stories and the organization of events. In doing so, we amplified our own voices with our own capacities to achieve our own goals. For Dawit, a major lesson of the collaboration was “that our struggles are all connected. From the side of the youth, weve realized that the stories of the organizers inside arent very different from ours. Poverty, violence, and toxic upbringings have touched us all, although some more than others.” “Ive learned that we, the youth, need to work together and draw inspiration from the strong organizers inside in order to battle these issues as we come of age. Throughout the process, the project grew and evolved to be much more than creating art or just a material product. It built community connections, promoted youth leadership, addressed injustices, and centered the voices of those most impacted and marginalized in an effort to truly bring about change. It has been about creating a platform for imaginations to grow, while also growing what abolition could truly look like right now. Things didnt always move as smoothly as they could have. A few unexpected obstacles due to COVID-19 and a simultaneous Tuberculosis outbreak at SCCC presented many challenges for the men on the inside. We were subjected to inhumane living conditions everyday,” said Billy Gumabon. “Our mental and physical health was being negatively impacted. [Because of this], the youth from YC stepped up for all of us in a big way in taking the lead in this project. But with obstacles came creative ingenuity and strength. We had to find new ways of communicating and coordinating,” said Cyril Walrond. “We would go outside [when allowed to] in the cold and rain to strategize across razor-wired fences. We did what we had to because we knew this work was bigger than us.” “It was deeper work rooted in abolition and liberation aimed at building and empowering community in order to challenge the existing oppressive and dehumanizing white supremacist power structure, Walrond said. Id say the biggest output is the relationship formed between the organizers and organizers inside,” Dawit remarked. “Throughout our calls, weve planned and executed several things. Weve also laughed, shared stories, and formed relationships that we wont forget. Although we mostly met online and over the phone, weve grown to know each others names, voices, and work.” “I think its these relationships that [will] carry on and have a more immediate effect on the the next generation, he said. * On February 19, 2022 YC hosted a virtual event to provide an opportunity for more people in the community to be a part of, and contribute to, this unique experience. They shared recordings and pictures of prisoners, who submitted stories and testimony of how the project has impacted them. The youth read stories from the inside, as well as recordings of prisoners reading youth stories. T-shirts designed by incarcerated artists embodied the spirit of the collaboration between prisoners and youths on the outside. (Credit: Felix Sitthivong) It was at this virtual event where YC youth unveiled t-shirts they had printed that were designed by incarcerated artists with messages that embodied the spirit of the program. Some read Liberation to remind the community of what the groups were all striving for. Others had pictures of cracked microphones and slogans that read Project: Broken Mic to symbolize the marginalization of prisoner and youth voices, and their intention to uplift these voices by repairing their mics and making all their voices heard. Nathan, a 19 year-old member of YC who also MCd the virtual event, said, [Our] hope was to bring awareness to our community. [We wanted] to break the silence and disprove any lies and myths [about our incarcerated family] created by the people from the top, and give folks [trapped] by the system a second chance.” “Letting them tell their stories and speak from experience to give future generations a new perspective on their lives, to improve themselves and the people around them, he said. The virtual event, although a tremendous success, also dealt with some unexpected setbacks. The forum was briefly hijacked by a Zoom-bomber spewing hateful rhetoric and displaying inappropriate images. But organizers thought quickly on their feet, and handled the tomfoolery with the class and elegance of the well-seasoned organizers theyve proven to be. Some things didnt entirely go as planned, but some quick thinking brought us back onto the right track,” Nathan explained. “Even though we had some unexpected guests and some changes to the script, the whole team clutched the event and managed to pull it off. At the conclusion of the event, there was a call to action for the community to support the legislation prioritized by the Cultural Collective. The youth shared what came of the process thus far, and there was a consensus commitment to continue to build and expand to other prisons, and include more youth moving forward. As the Washington State legislative session came to a disappointing close, and none of the bills were passed, all participants of the project understood that what they created was more meaningful than any bill—that abolition is a living and breathing process. That change does not come from a few reformist bills, but rather the connections made between those most marginalized in order to rebuild and reimagine community. Currently, plans are still being discussed to continue connecting, and utilizing this model to address broader social issues plaguing the community. Zines, documentaries, liberation art, community organizing classes, and other uplifting projects are all on the table as the groups continue to meet inside and out. Both groups are also devising a plan to garner more support and possibly support resurrecting the bills that were not passed during the 2022 session. The collaboration between YC and the Cultural Collective continues to demonstrate that abolition is not just about tearing down prisons—although that is an essential part of it. Abolition is also about building meaningful relationships that empower those directly impacted by State oppression, uplifting the voices of those most marginalized, and creating a sustainable system in which all our needs are met. By embracing each others experiences and histories, YC and the Cultural Collective are making sure that their people are surviving today–while also laying the foundation for a brighter future. Special thanks to Youth Consortium staff and coordinators for making this project possible. The post In Washington State, Incarcerated Organizers Build Community With Youth To Fight For Releases appeared first on Shadowproof.

[Category: Featured Reporting, Latest News, Marvel Cooke Fellowship, Prison Protest, Prison Organizing, Sentencing Reform, Youth Justice]

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[l] at 9/28/22 8:07am
This article was funded by the Marvel Cooke Fellowship. Read more about this reporting project and make a contribution to fund our fellowship budget. At Washingtons Stafford Creek Corrections Center, a group of incarcerated organizers have built community with local youths to fight for sentencing reforms, grappling with what it means to organize through an abolitionist lens from inside. The Cultural Collective at Stafford Creek is a grassroots organization comprised of leaders from various independent cultural groups that include the Asian Pacific Islander Cultural Awareness Group, Black Prisoners Caucus, Nuestro Grupo Cultural (formerly Hispanic Cultural Group), and Native American Circle. Together, they are using every tool at their disposal—from building relationships around art with youth in the community to fighting for legislative change—that could potentially free people. While prison has widely been regarded as a place that thrives on violence, isolation, and division, the Cultural Collective transcends negative stereotypes by working in solidarity to uplift the voices of those most marginalized, and empowering those directly impacted by an unjust system. Although the organization has been guided by the legacies of the community and prison organizers who came before them, each respective group, despite the lack of support from local administration, has been dedicated to serving their community and building life affirming institutions. These groups organize youth summits, immigration seminars, cultural classes, social justice forums, and provide platforms for their peers to contribute positively to their communities. Community organizing has always been essential to survival for the incarcerated. Whether folks are getting together to demand better medical treatment and living conditions, pushing for access to quality education and resources, striving for space to keep cultural traditions alive, or fighting for sentencing relief through legislation, prison organizing has always been a struggle borne out of necessity. As prison organizing for criminal justice reforms flourished over the last decade, the Cultural Collective demonstrated that reforms within the current system will never be enough: that true change can only come from a movement that is of and by the people — a movement grounded in abolishing the prison industrial complex and cultivating a caring society. Leading up to Washington states 2022 legislative session, members of the Cultural Collective were approached by several of their peers for updates on upcoming bills that could potentially affect prisoners, and asked what work was being done to pass these bills. As outlined in a Change.org petition, there were four bills in particular that Cultural Collective members decided to push forward. The first, HB 1413, would have retroactively eliminated juvenile felonies in the calculation of adult sentences and ensure adults were eligible for resentencing if they had juvenile felonies factored into their sentences. SHB 1282 was intended to expand earned release time to 33 percent of the total sentence that an individual serves. Currently, earned time is capped at 10 percent for violent convictions. A third bill, HB 1344, would expand the pool of people eligible to have their sentences reviewed by the Washington State Indeterminate Sentencing Review Board. People who were under the age of 25 when their crime was committed could have their sentence reviewed after they served 15 years, or 25 years for those convicted of aggravated murder. Finally, SHB 1169 would have significantly altered guidelines around the application of sentencing enhancements and provide judges greater sentencing and resentencing discretion, which could have also applied retroactively. Because Washington state has some of the strictest sentencing laws in the nation and eliminated its parole system back in 1984, a change in the law may be the only hope at freedom for multitudes of prisoners stuck behind bars facing significant time. * Although legislative work does not traditionally align with the Cultural Collectives abolitionist principles, this interaction with other prisoners curious about these bills prompted the organization to at least have a conversation about possible steps moving forward, and what they could do to still be a voice and presence for their peers.  Some abolitionists are wary of legislative reform approaches because of their propensity to be co-opted or watered down by legislators. Major reform efforts, like the First Step Act, are seen as too piecemeal or failing to go far enough. Often more organized and law enforcement-adjacent groups can create devastating exemptions and loopholes in these efforts that fail to address core issues or, even worse, entrench them. Instead, some abolitionist organizers have prioritized other approaches, like community building and mutual aid, clemency campaigns, prisoner defense committees, and more.  While those organizing from the inside with the Cultural Collective align more with the latter, they also believe that any changes that do not shift power away from the system and back to the community are shortsighted and have the potential to only strengthen a system that must be dismantled. As the former president of the Clallam Bay Corrections Centers APICAG and a current advisor to the SCCC chapter, I have argued for a more traditional approach. I’ve contended the group should be more focused on dismantling the whole system. And that by dedicating limited group resources to a legislative process that has a history of deliberately excluding us, we would not only be stretching thin our resources, but legitimizing an inequitable and racist system. Showing the complexity of abolition, other members like 31 year old Billy Gumabon, who currently serves as SCCCs APICAG president, explained that remaining grounded in traditional abolitionist principles is a lot more complicated when youre literally in the eye of the storm. Gumabon, a Filipino-American incarcerated since he was 18 years old, spoke from his own experience and demonstrated the realities of being trapped in the system.  “There are inner contradictions that must be addressed while striving for a better society,” he said.  I believe that most folks who disagree with legislation or believe that legislation is contradictory to abolition are [oftentimes] those who arent directly impacted,” Gumabon continued. “I personally see abolition as a process. [Positive legislation] can help us take steps towards it. Cyril Walrond, the 33 year old president of SCCCs chapter of the BPC who was recently released from prison, suggested that the organization did not have to be one dimensional and that the organizations approach should be as nuanced as the oppression they endure. There were opportunities through the legislative process, he said, to educate the community that reform does not go far enough it never has, and it never will. As directly impacted people, organizing from within prison, and suffering under the oppressive and inhumane conditions of the carceral system, our organizing remains rooted in abolition, Walrond said. The Cultural Collective decided to advocate and support the four bills that their peers identified and felt would make the most impact and still align with their mission to undo the harms of disproportionate sentencing as a result of institutional racism. They agreed that they would do so only by centering the voices of those directly impacted, and working accountably and according to their abolitionist principles. * At a later APICAG board meeting, leaders discussed how they could contribute to the broader Cultural Collective agenda, and what steps needed to be taken in order to center the voices of those directly impacted. Because the four bills mainly focused on those convicted as youth/young adults—primarily those from black and brown communities—it was imperative that whatever steps were to be taken, they had to include youth of color. This sentiment was shared with the broader Cultural Collective, and everybody agreed that this was the best strategy moving forward. Although there were many nonprofit organizations and sentencing coalitions in the community that were already working on legislation, they were not necessarily accountable to the incarcerated people who they would ultimately impact. The Cultural Collective decided to bypass those professional lobbyists and began reaching out directly to youth organizations in the community to discuss a possible collaboration. One of the organizations that responded to the invitation was the Youth Consortium (YC), which, like the Cultural Collective, consists of young activists from various independent youth groups out of the greater Seattle area. This includes Creative Justice, Community Passageways, and the Rainier Beach Action Coalition. These youth have been working to better their own future, fighting for, and eventually procuring resources last year, to build a Youth Achievement Center. It is currently under construction in Seattle.  While each individual member of YC has their own unique story, one thing is clear: these young leaders are a force to be reckoned with, and have demonstrated that they are the future of the movement. During a preliminary conference call with YC staff and youth leadership, I pitched the idea to collect personal stories from prisoners about how their incarceration has affected them and their families and how the legislation could potentially provide them with sentencing relief. We turned those stories over to YC youth, and eventually collaborated on a visual arts project that could be shared with the community and legislators. The intention was to bring life to statistics and humanize bills that have oftentimes only been used as political bargaining chips. In the following months, leaders of the Cultural Collective held weekly calls with YC leadership, giving prisoners the opportunity to engage directly with the youth and answer any questions they may have had. While many of the conversations were centered around prisoners’ stories, there were opportunities for youth who had experienced the incarceration of a family member to ask questions about what life was like on the inside, and unpack some of the trauma this situation creates. These organic exchanges made space for prisoners to share their experiences in their hopes of preventing more youth from following in their footsteps. Youth Consortium is not just a group, but a family to me,” said one YC leader, who goes by the name Carmeezzy. “When I first joined, I was welcomed with open arms. Its a safe place to me, but also somewhere where I feel comfortable that my voice will be heard.” “YC is a place where we can talk about many issues in our community—for example, problems in prisons. We got to hear stories from people who are actually in prison who [in my opinion] got sentenced wrongly. We really got to hear from them and their stories, rather than what the system just tells us [about them],” they said. “I learned so much at YC. You really get the opportunity to be a leader and a listener. You get to grow together with [other] youth as a family. We help each other even our family in prison because we all are family. This unique process created space for intergenerational conversations about current social issues and possible solutions grounded in abolition. In some of the calls, there was also a lot of past trauma that was unpacked and real connections were made. The experience also inspired the youth to write their own stories to share. Dawit, a 20 year-old member of YC by way of Community Passageways, said he “noticed a similarity between youth and incarcerated organizers.” “Legislators and other powerful people use our voices only until they get our stories [and support] to help them with a particular agenda. Then they forget about us,” Dawit argued. “However, with this project, the youth and organizers at SCCC were in control of our stories and the organization of events. In doing so, we amplified our own voices with our own capacities to achieve our own goals. For Dawit, a major lesson of the collaboration was “that our struggles are all connected. From the side of the youth, weve realized that the stories of the organizers inside arent very different from ours. Poverty, violence, and toxic upbringings have touched us all, although some more than others.” “Ive learned that we, the youth, need to work together and draw inspiration from the strong organizers inside in order to battle these issues as we come of age. Throughout the process, the project grew and evolved to be much more than creating art or just a material product. It built community connections, promoted youth leadership, addressed injustices, and centered the voices of those most impacted and marginalized in an effort to truly bring about change. It has been about creating a platform for imaginations to grow, while also growing what abolition could truly look like right now. Things didnt always move as smoothly as they could have. A few unexpected obstacles due to COVID-19 and a simultaneous Tuberculosis outbreak at SCCC presented many challenges for the men on the inside. We were subjected to inhumane living conditions everyday,” said Billy Gumabon. “Our mental and physical health was being negatively impacted. [Because of this], the youth from YC stepped up for all of us in a big way in taking the lead in this project. But with obstacles came creative ingenuity and strength. We had to find new ways of communicating and coordinating,” said Cyril Walrond. “We would go outside [when allowed to] in the cold and rain to strategize across razor-wired fences. We did what we had to because we knew this work was bigger than us.” “It was deeper work rooted in abolition and liberation aimed at building and empowering community in order to challenge the existing oppressive and dehumanizing white supremacist power structure, Walrond said. Id say the biggest output is the relationship formed between the organizers and organizers inside,” Dawit remarked. “Throughout our calls, weve planned and executed several things. Weve also laughed, shared stories, and formed relationships that we wont forget. Although we mostly met online and over the phone, weve grown to know each others names, voices, and work.” “I think its these relationships that [will] carry on and have a more immediate effect on the the next generation, he said. * On February 19, 2022 YC hosted a virtual event to provide an opportunity for more people in the community to be a part of, and contribute to, this unique experience. They shared recordings and pictures of prisoners, who submitted stories and testimony of how the project has impacted them. The youth read stories from the inside, as well as recordings of prisoners reading youth stories. T-shirts designed by incarcerated artists embodied the spirit of the collaboration between prisoners and youths on the outside. (Credit: Felix Sitthivong) It was at this virtual event where YC youth unveiled t-shirts they had printed that were designed by incarcerated artists with messages that embodied the spirit of the program. Some read Liberation to remind the community of what the groups were all striving for. Others had pictures of cracked microphones and slogans that read Project: Broken Mic to symbolize the marginalization of prisoner and youth voices, and their intention to uplift these voices by repairing their mics and making all their voices heard. Nathan, a 19 year-old member of YC who also MCd the virtual event, said, [Our] hope was to bring awareness to our community. [We wanted] to break the silence and disprove any lies and myths [about our incarcerated family] created by the people from the top, and give folks [trapped] by the system a second chance.” “Letting them tell their stories and speak from experience to give future generations a new perspective on their lives, to improve themselves and the people around them, he said. The virtual event, although a tremendous success, also dealt with some unexpected setbacks. The forum was briefly hijacked by a Zoom-bomber spewing hateful rhetoric and displaying inappropriate images. But organizers thought quickly on their feet, and handled the tomfoolery with the class and elegance of the well-seasoned organizers theyve proven to be. Some things didnt entirely go as planned, but some quick thinking brought us back onto the right track,” Nathan explained. “Even though we had some unexpected guests and some changes to the script, the whole team clutched the event and managed to pull it off. At the conclusion of the event, there was a call to action for the community to support the legislation prioritized by the Cultural Collective. The youth shared what came of the process thus far, and there was a consensus commitment to continue to build and expand to other prisons, and include more youth moving forward. As the Washington State legislative session came to a disappointing close, and none of the bills were passed, all participants of the project understood that what they created was more meaningful than any bill—that abolition is a living and breathing process. That change does not come from a few reformist bills, but rather the connections made between those most marginalized in order to rebuild and reimagine community. Currently, plans are still being discussed to continue connecting, and utilizing this model to address broader social issues plaguing the community. Zines, documentaries, liberation art, community organizing classes, and other uplifting projects are all on the table as the groups continue to meet inside and out. Both groups are also devising a plan to garner more support and possibly support resurrecting the bills that were not passed during the 2022 session. The collaboration between YC and the Cultural Collective continues to demonstrate that abolition is not just about tearing down prisons—although that is an essential part of it. Abolition is also about building meaningful relationships that empower those directly impacted by State oppression, uplifting the voices of those most marginalized, and creating a sustainable system in which all our needs are met. By embracing each others experiences and histories, YC and the Cultural Collective are making sure that their people are surviving today–while also laying the foundation for a brighter future. Special thanks to Youth Consortium staff and coordinators for making this project possible. The post In Washington State, Incarcerated Organizers Build Community With Youth To Fight For Shorter Sentences appeared first on Shadowproof.

[Category: Featured Reporting, Latest News, Marvel Cooke Fellowship, Prison Protest, Prison Organizing, Sentencing Reform, Youth Justice]

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[l] at 9/27/22 10:47am
The following article was an exclusive for paid subscribers of The Dissenter. It was unlocked on September 27. Become a monthly subscriber and support independent journalism on whistleblowers.In one of the largest settlements ever secured by a whistleblower under the False Claims Act, the multinational pharmaceutical corporation Biogen agreed to pay $900 million in order to end a lawsuit related to an illegal kickback program.Attorney Thomas M. Greene, who represented the Biogen whistleblower, described the settlement as the “largest recovery in over 150 years of False Claims Act (FCA) cases to be secured by a whistleblower without the intervention or participation of the United States [government].”Michael Bawduniak started working for Biogen in 2004. He was the interim director of regional marketing for Biogen between 2009 and 2011. In February 2011, the corporation demoted him to “thought leader liaison” after he attempted to halt kickback payments to physicians.The False Claims Act empowers private citizens like Bawduniak to bring whistleblower lawsuits against companies that are involved in schemes to defraud taxpayers. US Justice Department (DOJ) prosecutors may intervene and pursue the lawsuit, or they may decline to intervene and allow a whistleblower to seek a settlement without their support.According to a press release from Greene’s law firm, Bawduniak informed the DOJ of Biogen’s kickback program. The DOJ and the FBI asked Bawduniak to “record conversations with Biogen employees that would substantiate his allegations.”“These recordings confirmed that Biogen deliberately provided substantial monetary and non-monetary compensation to some of its most important prescribers to influence their prescribing and to ensure that they remained loyal Biogen customers,” the release added.The “massive” kickback scheme resulted in hundreds of millions of dollars in “false and fraudulent Medicare and Medicaid reimbursement claims.”Specifically, the lawsuit filed in 2013 [PDF] alleged that Biogen provided “financial rewards” to physicians in order to ensure that they prescribed the corporation’s multiple sclerosis treatments, Avonex and later Tysabri.In early 2008, Teva’s multiple sclerosis drug Copaxone surpassed Avonex in sales in early 2008. To reclaim the position of market leader, Biogen allegedly took advantage of the multiple sclerosis market, which they recognized was limited to a “relatively small number of prescribers.”Over 90 percent of prescriptions for multiple sclerosis drugs were being written by just 6,000 doctors. Biogen developed a two-pronged strategy: retain physicians who were their top prescribers as “consultants” and hire the doctors as “speakers” to talk with other physicians about Avonex and Tysabri.The strategy was intended to evade an increase in government enforcement against kickback schemes by pharmaceutical corporations.“The scope of the kickback scheme was staggering,” according to the lawsuit. “In 2009 alone, Biogen paid 820 physicians a total of $8.8 million to speak or consult, $10,600 per physician. Faced with the market entry of the first oral treatment for MS, Gilenya, Biogen expanded these programs in 2010.”In 2010, Biogen paid $9.1 million to 1,200 physicians for “speaking” or “consulting.” The meetings were frequently redundant and trainings had an “excessive number of unnecessary speakers.”On September 2, 2010, while Bawduniak was interim regional director for marketing, he received a list of fifty doctors who were deemed “at risk” of adopting Gilenya.Bawduniak recognized that having a list of “completed and anticipated payments to major prescribers who the company had identified as priority accounts would constitute evidence of unlawful payments for the purpose of obtaining prescriptions.”A senior executive in Biogen’s compliance department confirmed to Bawduniak that requesting information about the physicians would constitute evidence that the corporation was trying to influence a doctor to prescribe Biogen products. Bawduniak informed two Biogen executives that if he compiled information on the doctors it would “make it clear that Biogen was making payments for prescriptions.” Still, one of the executives who had asked for the information pressed on with their requests and eventually obtained it from other sources.In February 2011, Bawduniak was demoted to “thought leader liaison” and no longer directly received reports on “at risk” doctors. The press release further details the staggering fraud. “Biogen inflated the amounts paid to most of its speakers and consultants by automatically adding three hours for travel time to their compensation, even when Biogen knew the customers whom it paid did not have to travel or only traveled a minimal distance.”“And many of Biogens events were held at sumptuous resorts and restaurants, where Biogen treated its speakers and consultants to lavish meals and free alcohol.”Twenty-five to thirty percent of the federal funds recovered through the settlement will be awarded to Bawduniak.Mary Inman, an attorney and partner at the law firm Constantine Cannon who has represented whistleblowers in False Claims Act cases for 25 years, said the massive settlement was a “testament to the strength” of the FCA. It is a “really important release valve.”“Increasingly what we’re seeing is that the government just doesn’t have the resources to intervene in all these cases because there’s been such an increase in the number of cases and the quality of them,” Inman added. “So oftentimes they will decline to intervene when they have faith that the whistleblower and their counsel have the wherewithal to continue with the case.”The DOJ does not always decline to intervene or take up a case because of political reasons, such as if the fraud exposed makes prosecutors look bad for missing the corruption. But of course, that happens.In the case of the Biogen whistleblower, Inman noted the government has pursued a lot of these types of cases involving kickback schemes defrauding Medicare or Medicaid in the past.The US Supreme Court agreed in June to hear a lawsuit that could determine whether the government has the authority to dismiss a lawsuit and effectively prevent a whistleblower from pursuing their case under the False Claims Act.If the Supreme Court were to rule that the government may decline to participate in cases and then turn around and stop a whistleblower from challenging fraud, it would be another example of the court catering to corporate power. It would fundamentally alter what has been settled law for over 30 years. The post Biogen Whistleblower Lawsuit Against Massive Kickback Scheme Ends In Huge Settlement appeared first on Shadowproof.

[Category: The Dissenter, Biogen, False Claims Act, Pharmaceutical Companies, The Dissenter Newsletter]

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[l] at 9/21/22 9:57am
Originally published at Ongoing History of Protest MusicSinger-songwriter Rain Perry recently released A White Album, a concept piece that addresses white privilege. She is also working on producing a stage version of the album.One of the albums highlights is “The Money,” which skillfully weaves the narrative of two GIs returning from war, one white and one black. It examines the inequality when it comes to home ownership and generational wealth. In an interview with Americana Highway, Perry said the song is about the real estate process of redlining.I knew nothing about that, and then when I researched it, I realized why wealth inequality has persisted, Perry added. It caused problems then and continues to cause problems now. That made me look at the world in a different way, but the next step is: What can I do to mitigate it? Who can I vote for? What can I donate to? I’m hoping that the next step is tangible action that helps mitigate the problems that the record brings up, but I can’t control what people do. Solutions to systemic ills will only come from awkward conversations. This includes white people acknowledging their privilege and the role that they play. Rain Perry is doing her best to add her voice to the discussion. The post Protest Song Of The Week: The Money By Rain Perry appeared first on Shadowproof.

[Category: Latest News, The Dissenter, Protest Song of the Week]

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[l] at 9/17/22 5:02pm
This article was funded by paid subscribers of The Dissenter Newsletter. Become an annual paid subscriber to help us continue our independent journalism. A whistleblower protection bill containing access to jury trials, which has long been a priority for advocates, passed in the United States House of Representatives on September 15. The legislation, the Whistleblower Protection Improvement Act (WPIA), was sponsored by Representative Carolyn Maloney, who is the chair of the House Committee on Oversight and Reform. It allows whistleblowers to have their claims heard by a jury in a US district court if the Merits Systems Protection Board (MSPB), an administrative body largely unknown to most Americans, does not rule on their case within 180 days (or 240 days if the MSPB certifies that a case is “complex”). The MSPB has a backlog of at least 3,000 cases as of June 2022, according to the Federal News Network. If this bill were to pass in the US Senate and be signed by President Joe Biden, it would break a major logjam that has blocked whistleblowers from obtaining a review of their claims. Furthermore, the bill grants “any employee or applicant for employment adversely affected or aggrieved by a final order or decision of the Merit Systems Protection Board may obtain judicial review of the order or decision.” Research by the Government Accountability Project (GAP) showed [PDF] in the first six months of 2021 that MSPB judges “ruled against whistleblowers in fifty of the past fifty-one retaliation cases.” “Federal employees are the only major labor group of whistleblowers in the country who don’t have access to a jury trial to challenge retaliation against their free speech rights,” GAP legal director Tom Devine declared. “Instead of being able to seek justice from a jury of the citizens who they are reporting to defend when they risk their careers, their day in court is limited to administrative judges who rule against whistleblowers in 96 percent of cases and are extremely vulnerable to political pressure.” Devine also said, “It is ironic and indefensible that federal employees, whose whistleblower disclosures are the highest stakes for our country, have the weakest due process rights to defend themselves.” Significantly, the bill recognizes the impotency of the MSPB by making whistleblower access to a jury trial “retroactive for claims filed to MSPB for up to five years prior to the date of enactment.” This means whistleblower complaints from as early as the first year of Donald Trump’s presidency, which are still pending before the MSPB, could be submitted to a federal court. Whistleblower complaints in a US district court, particularly those involving discrimination, would fall under the Civil Rights Act (1964), the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (1967), or the Fair Labor Standards Act (1938). Congress was urged in 2012 to include access to jury trials in the Whistleblower Protection Act (WPA). The Justice Department aggressively fought the provision. President Barack Obama ultimately caved. According to Devine, Jeff Sessions, who was a US senator and later became attorney general under Trump, also threatened to put a hold on the legislation if it included court access. Staff for Senator Susan Collins suggested the bill may not pass at all if whistleblower advocates did not back down. Stephen Kohn of the National Whistleblower Center previously stated, “Federal employees need the same access to US courts as corporate employees, government contractors, truck drivers, food service workers, state and local government employees, Dodd-Frank Act whistleblowers, False Claims Act whistleblowers, whistleblowers who file state common law claims, and the vast majority of all other whistleblowers.” Only two House Republicans voted for the bill. GAP noted Republicans claimed “whistleblowers already have more rights than they need,” and the legislation would “make it impossible to fire incompetents and wrongdoers.” “However, whistleblowers routinely wait three to five years to lose over 95 percent of decisions on the merits,” GAP responded. “Rather than creating an insurance policy, the legislation transforms fraudulent rights into genuine ones. The bill does not cover intelligence agency employees, contrary to what several Republicans suggested in their attacks on the bill. It does not appear that similar legislation has been introduced in the Senate, but Republican Senator Chuck Grassley, a longtime supporter of whistleblowers, previously introduced legislation that would establish basic protections for FBI whistleblowers. Yet the expanded protection for FBI whistleblowers would not include access to a jury trial. Enjoyed the article? Leave us a tip! The post US House Of Representatives Finally Passes Whistleblower Protection Bill With Access To Jury Trials appeared first on Shadowproof.

[Category: Latest News, The Dissenter, Congress, The Dissenter Newsletter, Whistleblower protection]

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[l] at 9/7/22 8:24am
Originally published at Ongoing History of Protest Music Indigenous bassist, composer, and bandleader Mali Obomsawin recently left the folk trio, Lula Wiles. With Lula Wiles, she wasnt afraid to compose politically explicit tunes and to speak out on indigenous issues while on stage. But after nearly six years of performing to predominantly white audiences, she was frustrated with the apathy and racism that she experienced. “I don’t want to put myself in that position anymore because it is really alienating and scary, and sometimes you get really messed-up feedback from audiences or online,” Obomsawin said. “I discovered that for me, it’s not sustainable to spend every night yelling at people from stage trying to get them to wake the fuck up.” Since leaving Lula Wiles, Obomsawin became focused on establishing the nonprofit Bomazeen Land Trust to assist the Abenaki and Wabanaki people in reclaiming, protecting, and restoring their land in what is now western Maine. Instead of writing explicit protest tunes, Obomsawin now uses her music to convey the indigenous experience and preserve cultural heritage. Her solo debut, Sweet Tooth, a compositional suite due for release on October 28, uses field recordings of relatives at Odanak First Nation in order to tell the story of the Wabanaki people. An example of this is the first single is Odana, which draws from a 17th Century ballad made famous by her cousin Alanis Obomsawin. The first song, Odana, looks to the reservation community where I’m enrolled. Odana is a Wabanaki word for ‘the village’—and Odanak, the name of our Abenaki reservation in southern Quebec, means at the village,' according to Obomsawin. Obomsawin added, Writer unknown, this ballad is a homage to this home that our ancestors founded in the late 1600s. Odana,” tells the story of those indigenous ancestors who fled to modern-day Canada to escape biological warfare and scalp bounties that were issued by the English crown in 17th and 18th-century colonies. The bounty proclamations, in particular, deterred Abenaki families from returning permanently to their ancestral territories by the end of the 17th-century. The lyrics warn Abenakis to “be vigilant” so that the ground remains peaceful and they do not lose their newly founded villages at Odanak and “Mazipskoik” at the head of Lake Champlain. They further describe “a great forest extending from the village,” a stolen homeland. Altogether, the song pays tribute to indigenous forefathers who guarded this place for us, and it emphasizes the importance of this place to the survival of Abenaki people in the face of genocide. Listen to Odana by Mali Obomsawin: Sweet Tooth by Mali Obomsawin The post Protest Song Of The Week: Odana By Mali Obomsawin appeared first on Shadowproof.

[Category: Latest News, The Dissenter, Protest Song of the Week]

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[l] at 8/24/22 8:12am
Originally published at Ongoing History of Protest MusicDanceland is a Toronto-based jam band, which includes husband and wife vocalists and songwriters Joe and Jale Ferland. They recently released their debut album, Pink Lem.While the album is the groups debut, Joe Ferland is a veteran musician who was part of the 1990s New York City music scene. He played in an array of rock and pop-punk groups, even earning a few record deals. Over time, the grind of the music business burnt him out, and he took a 10-year hiatus. The genesis of many of the tunes on the album was pandemic isolation and the death of Joes mom. They weave autobiographical elements into strong storytelling narratives. One of the songs called Not Without A Fight is a pointed social critique in support of Black Lives Matter, survivors of domestic abuse, homeless children, indigenous people, and the LGBTQ+ community.“This tune is a reaction to the constant injustice suffered by innocent people just trying to live their lives,” Joe explains. “It was inspired by a culmination of events including the killings of Breonna Taylor and George Floyd and the horrific stories surrounding indigenous children in residential schools here in Canada.”A lyric video with complimentary visuals was developed for Not Without A Fight.Watch or listen to Not Without A Fight by Danceland: The post Protest Song Of The Week: Not Without a Fight By Danceland appeared first on Shadowproof.

[Category: Latest News, The Dissenter, Protest Song of the Week]

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[l] at 8/22/22 2:53pm
Originally published at The Dissenter, a Shadowproof newsletter In 2019, longtime national security journalist William Arkin appeared on Democracy Now! and spoke out against liberals in the United States who believed the FBI (and CIA) could save the country from President Donald Trump. The FBI, in particular, has a deplorable record in American society, from Martin Luther King and the peace movements of the 1960s all the way up through Wen Ho Lee and others who have been persecuted by the FBI, Arkin stated. And there’s no real evidence that the FBI is that competent of an institution to begin with in terms of even pursuing the prosecutions that it’s pursuing. But yet we lionize them. We hold them up on a pedestal, that somehow they are the truth-tellers, that they’re the ones who are getting to the bottom of things, when there’s just no evidence that that’s the case, Arkin added. Arkin has a proven record of speaking out against perpetual war and challenging the immense power of the national security state. He co-authored the 2011 book, Top Secret America: The Rise of the American Security State and also wrote the book American Coup, which he describes as documenting the creeping fascism of homeland security. When Arkin appeared on Democracy Now!, he had just left NBC News and circulated a letter that criticized the media organization for emulating the national security state in the era of Trump. I’d argue that under Trump, the national security establishment not only hasn’t missed a beat but indeed has gained dangerous strength. Now it is ever more autonomous and practically impervious to criticism. I’d also argue, ever so gingerly, that NBC has become somewhat lost in its own verve, proxies of boring moderation and conventional wisdom, defender of the government against Trump, cheerleader for open and subtle threat mongering, in love with procedure and protocol over all else (including results). I accept that there’s a lot to report here, but I’m more worried about how much we are missing. Hence my desire to take a step back and think why so little changes with regard to America’s wars. I recount all of the above to show you why I setup an interview with Arkin about the Justice Department and FBIs handling of the investigation into Trump and his possession of documents at Mar-a-Lago. He has the credibility to offer important insights into what pursuing an Espionage Act prosecution against a former US president may mean for the United States. Arkin is currently the senior editor for intelligence at Newsweek. He has written multiple reports related to the Justice Departments investigation into former President Donald Trumps mishandling of classified information. His reporting revealed that the FBI had an informant, who had knowledge of what documents Trump had in his possession and where they were located. He later reported more details on Trumps private stash of documents. In the 30-minute interview, which was recorded on August 19, Arkin outlines the timeline of events, what the DOJ investigation may mean for Trumps potential 2024 presidential campaign, and why he believes the FBI search of Mar-a-Lago has sparked one of the biggest political disasters in the history of the bureau. *Below is a transcript of the interview with minor edits to improve clarity. WILLIAM ARKIN: It’s important to just talk about the background of what happened at Mar-a-Lago because this has been going on since Trump left office. So even though most people were not aware, there’s been a battle between the Trump camp and the National Archives since January 2021 about this whole question of what records the Trump administration had taken with them from the White House. If you talk to Trump people, they’ll tell you, oh, we had such a rushed departure—and of course the reason is because Donald Trump did not accept the terms of the election—that we by mistake took boxes to Mar-a-Lago. Indeed, in January of this year the Trump camp delivered 15 boxes of presidential records to the National Archives, and it was in the course of that delivery that I think the National Archives came to see that these were not complete sets of records, that there were a lot of presidential records which were still being held by the Trump camp, and they requested additional records. And basically this has been going on now since January 2022 this year and that culminated by a grand jury subpoena, which was delivered to the Trump camp in the end of May, and that subpoena basically said here are specific documents and types of documents that we would like you to return and the next step essentially was that three FBI agents and a Justice Department official visited Mar-a-Lago on June 3, and they retrieved some documents. But they also in the process of that inspected the storage room at Mar-a-Lago, where Trump was keeping his presidential materials and recognized that there were additional materials with additional classified information. Now the FBI knew that there were additional materials. They asked the Trump [camp] to put better locks on the door of the storage room. They knew that they were there. So when the search occurred on August 8, it was a surprise to most people. Maybe not so much to the people who had been following this back and forth. But it does raise the question as to whether or not what Merrick Garland, the attorney general says, is true, which is did they in fact exhaust all the possibilities for getting the additional documents. Now we know that they took 27 boxes of documents from Mar-a-Lago last week. So that’s a total of 42 boxes of documents, and the 27 boxes of documents that they took under this search warrant included 11 sets of classified documents and an additional leather box that they had retrieved that contained top secret sensitive compartmented information. Mar-a-Lago (Photo: Government Accountability Office) I reported earlier last week that the FBI had a confidential human source inside the Trump camp that essentially let them on to the fact that Donald Trump was secreting additional documents away. And at this point based upon my reporting, it looks like the FBI had two targets in their raid on Mar-a-Lago. One was to retrieve the additional boxes that they knew were in the storage room, and two was to find this stash of documents that Donald Trump was evidently segregating from those 27 boxes, which the FBI concluded as part of their investigation that Donald Trump had no intention of returning. I wouldn’t say that the search at Mar-a-Lago was a cover for the fact that they knew that Donald Trump had additional material, but Donald Trump himself has given us clues to the fact that there were two separate searches. Because we know that the storage room was entered. We know that they entered the bedroom in the presidential office. Donald Trump is the one who said that they broke into his personal safe. And in fact when the FBI returned Donald Trump’s passports earlier this week, it was evident that they had gotten them from somewhere that wasn’t the storage room. It pretty much confirmed what Donald Trump had claimed—that his personal safe had been broken into. It’s kind of a game of chicken between the FBI and the Trump camp. Right, Donald Trump can’t say, oh, I was secreting away particular documents, and that’s what the FBI is really going after. He’s just going to go on this straight I’ve-been-politically-persecuted line, and that’s what he’s going to stick with. And of course once the Trump camp gets their act together and figures out what they’re actually going to say, the reality is they’re probably going to argue, why did [the FBI] execute the search warrant at all because we were cooperating with the National Archives? And if they had asked us for additional boxes, we would have returned them. So, yes, it’s true that Trump has kind of argued they were my private papers. They weren’t belonging to the National Archives. But it’s sort of irrelevant because if you don’t consider what it was that the FBI really going after, you wouldn’t understand why they would have thought it necessary to execute this extraordinary and unprecedented of a personal residence of a former president, which has never been done in our history. If you understand that the FBI obviously felt that Donald Trump was not planning to return everything, that they knew from their confidential human source and their investigation that it existed (and more or less where it existed), and that they were concerned that Donald Trump would weaponize that material. And that could be using it for monetary gain or using it as part of his election efforts. We don’t really know the answer there. But if you consider all of those, then the search begins to make some sense, even though I think politically it’s been a disaster for the FBI, and as much as the mainstream might be rallying around the FBI and saying, oh, poor FBI, the truth of the matter is that it seems like this is another naive investigation on the part of the FBI and Justice Department that thinks that because we have all of the paperwork in order that it makes sense to execute this but I think in fact it’s probably strengthened Donald Trump’s hand within the Republican Party and also within the electorate, who feel like in fact after six years of investigations if they haven’t indicted him yet that it is persecution. And there’s some validity to that. Let’s just imagine for a moment that Bernie Sanders was president, and that the FBI was going after him for six years. I mean people would be screaming bloody murder. Either indict him or stop it. And so I imagine in the coming weeks we are either going to see Donald Trump indicted finally for a peripheral question, which is possession of these documents. Not the content of the documents, but possession of them. Or we’re going to see a political disaster in the making, which is that everyone is going to rally behind Donald Trump within the Republican camp and basically say this is an outrageous act on the part of the Biden administration, even though I believe that it didn’t have political overtones to it or undertones to it. That they inadvertently stepped into something like the Mueller investigation or like Comey talking about Hillary Clinton’s emails, where they just didn’t understand what the political fallout of their actions were going to be. FBI Director Christopher Wray (Photo: Federal Bureau of Investigation) KEVIN GOSZTOLA: What is your assessment of the divisions or factions or the nature of the FBI or Justice Department—not necessarily just right now but in the FBI or Justice Department up to this moment—and their relationship to Donald Trump? Because I think it’s so important for people to know the deeper context, and since you’ve done this reporting on administrations for so long, how extraordinary it was that they had such a different posture to the president than some of the more recent previous presidents in history. Because this relationship is completely unlike Obama. It’s completely unlike George W. Bush. It’s completely unlike what we have with Joe Biden. There’s no reason for antagonism to exist between those prior presidents. ARKIN: Well, we’ve never had a Donald Trump before. That’s the most important ingredient here. The FBI has always been a political organization, though it would like to portray itself as not one. During the civil rights era or during the communist scare of the 1950s or doing the period of time where it was basically persecuting those who were against the war in Vietnam, etc, the FBI has always hewed in the direction of being a right-wing institution with an antagonism towards the left. With Donald Trump, the shift began to be apparent that the FBI, in fact, had a lot of people within its ranks who were anti-Trump. In fact, the long bipartisan era of the FBI was over. We live in a topsy-turvy world where the Rachel Maddows of the world are cheering the FBI on and the right-wing hates them. That’s unprecedented in modern history, that the left somehow thinks that the CIA and FBI are going to protect us from Donald Trump rather than the right [supporting these agencies]. Even like the left is quasi-cheerleaders for perpetual war and for the continuation of the war in Syria and for the war in Ukraine, etc. Whereas the right is much more of a traditional American isolationist entity. Look, Donald Trump isn’t smart enough to articulate and/or represent the actual currents, which exist within American society, but there are currents that exist within American society. It’s Washington DC, and the New York bubble and the LA bubble versus the rest of the country, or urban versus rural. Whatever way you want to describe it. Donald Trump was elected because of that divide. Because of that increasing divide between officialdom and the rest of the American population. So the FBI, which has always been seen in the mainstream’s eyes as being a neutral party, became a very political party. They just did. They became a political party. And at the same time that Barack Obama was being criticized during the 2016 presidential election cycle for not doing about the accusations vis a vis Russian collusion and Russian intervention—Obama said, well, I’m not going to do more because I don’t want to put my finger on the scale of the election. It’s up to the American people to decide who is the next president. But they wanted the FBI to put their finger on the scale, and that was what happened when Comey had a press conference right prior to the election and stated Hillary [Clinton] broke the law but we’re not going to indict her. That just pissed everybody off on both sides, but most importantly, what it did was introduce the idea that Hillary Clinton was a lawbreaker and hadn’t been held accountable whereas Donald Trump was being accused of being lawbreaker and people were assuming that he was guilty. I’m sorry. I live in a country where I still believe innocent until proven guilty. Donald Trump is innocent. He’s innocent of claims of collusion. He’s innocent of claims of cooperation. He’s innocent of all these claims until he is proven guilty. So while we might be comfortable in the mainstream saying Donald Trump’s lies about the election—I mean, listen to NPR. They say it in that way, and it should be Donald Trump’s claims about the election. By saying the word lies, you are already declaring what your political position is. That’s not impartial journalism as I understand it to be. So Donald Trump is innocent until proven guilty, and now this search warrant has been executed. I hope as a citizen that either the Justice Department brings charges against Donald Trump or it starts to reevaluate whether it continues to spend its resources and our money in going after this guy. GOSZTOLA: Let me ask you a few specific questions. Do you actually believe that this is a mistake on Donald Trump’s part that he has these boxes? I seem to get from the way you are setting up the timeline that that seems like a very convenient excuse at this hour. Have you seen any evidence that they really made this mistake with this many boxes of documents? ARKIN: I mean, Melania’s shoes might have taken 42 boxes themselves. We don’t know how many boxes were actually removed from the White House in that six-hour period on January 20.  But I think its important that you think because Donald Trump screwed up and didn’t have a normal transition and boxes ended up going to Mar-a-Lago that shouldnt have gone to Mar-a-Lago, it doesn’t mean it wasn’t Donald Trump’s fault. I mean, this is his trick, right? They were sent by mistake, but if it had been a normal transition, they wouldn’t have been sent by mistake. You have to ultimately say that this falls on Donald Trump in terms of what direction was given to the White House staff and his subordinates in terms of preparing the White House for the Biden administration to come into the office. So, yes, I can see that the documents might have ended up in Mar-a-Lago by mistake, but the mistake is that Donald Trump didn’t accept the results of the election and didn’t facilitate an ordinary transition. Why it’s so important then to see the decision-making on the part of the FBI and the Justice Department about this extraordinary search is that it obviously has to be about something bigger than just run-of-the-mill secrets. And I know that some people will think, well wait a minute? Top secret documents are documents that could cause exceptionally grave damage to the United States. But I’ve been in this business a long time, and I also am a former intelligence officer in the US military, and I can tell you there’s a heckuva lot of top secret documents that have no meaning outside of just the source of information that is just describing what we know. A lot of this [information] is classified because of the possibility that its release would divulge intelligence sources and methods, and some of those intelligence sources and methods, such as our satellite capabilities, are well-known anyhow. But I understand that people have this idea that somehow Donald Trump stole secrets, when I’m kind of doubtful that there was really much material that was in there that was intentional or detrimental to US national security in a specific way. However, we know that Donald Trump during his entire presidency took documents to his residence, asked for copies of documents, ripped pages out of documents that were delivered to him, squirreled away documents that were interesting to him, and those documents dealt with everything from Russiagate and the political travails of Donald Trump to nuclear capabilities of Iran and North Korea and possibly even Russia and China. So we know that it’s a wide variety of documents—things that Donald Trump found interesting. That’s basically this leather box or this separate stash of documents that were in his personal safe, and that was really the focus. I think in the end people will be surprised that it’s not really an argument about the sensitivity of the documents per se. It’s just about the documents. It’s just about the documents. They don’t need to argue that the documents are highly classified or whatever. That’s terminology that we use in the news media. And it’s kind of bullshit. If Donald Trump just had a bunch of personal letters that belonged to the National Archives under the Presidential Records Act, they would still be making the same arguments as to why we need to retrieve those letters from the Trump camp. So I think it was really only in the case of documents that they thought that Donald Trump had personally segregated—and might use in the future, that were the ones that they were concerned about. Photo: Trump White House Archives GOSZTOLA: That’s the problem, right? We get this from your reporting. It does a good job of communicating this. It doesn’t seem like the FBI is moved to conduct the search just because Donald Trump has [these boxes]. Because we see the ongoing conversations with representatives over returning the boxes. But there’s something about the stash. There’s some kind of fear that they have that he’s going to do something with the documents that he has privately, and obviously, we’re at an important point in time. There’s a Trump circus, but there’s also an election circus. We are dominated from 2023 to November 2024 will be primaries and general electon, wall-to-wall media. And you know this better than anyone having survived alongside it—how much elections dominate and overshadow important national security journalism and other stories that should be given attention rather than this horse race coverage. It’s hard not to think based upon what you’ve been reporting that there is some motivation that, okay, we have a small window of time to do this before Donald Trump might start his campaign. And also these documents, as your sources told you, [Trump] is going to weaponize this information. So I think it’s worth asking you what your assessment is of the Russiagate counter-investigation. That is the investigation into the people who were investigating Donald Trump and the abuses of power that they were alleged to have committed by people who were empowered, like Durham, to investigate these people and what was happening. There have been some things related to Carter Page, and there’s been some isolated examples. [The Trump camp has] tried to craft a narrative that people within these institutions were trying to, as they would put it, take down Donald Trump. That’s how they present it to the American people. If the FBI is going in there to take this stash of documents, and it is proven out that there are documents related to the Russia investigation that Donald Trump was keeping because he thought they exonerated him or whatever, that seems pretty bad as far as the FBI and the idea that it’s supposed to be a neutral institution. I mean, obviously, historically it’s always acted politically. But if the FBI is going above and beyond to seem like it’s not a political organization, how do you green light a search when it is going to be so patently obvious later that you are taking this step? ARKIN: Let’s talk about it in the context of 2024. First of all, we have to understand that what was been revealed as result of the 2016 election and Russiagate is that there was FBI wrongdoing. Whether you consider minor or not, the truth of the matter is that we’ve had FBI agents go to jail already for falsifying FISA applications, for using official email and text to campaign against Donald Trump as a candidate, and even people who were involved in the investigations who are supposed to be neutral parties essentially declaring that they are anti-Trump. I don’t take from that that it’s big or little. I don’t want to quibble about whether or not the FBI is or isn’t pro- anti-Trump, but what we see is they make mistakes. Tons of them. This is not a perfect institution. We should stop seeing it as a perfect institution. If you understand that this is a flawed institution, where the lawyers are saying, well, you can do this, you can do that, and you can do this and you can do that, and now the FBI has to decide are we publicly going to be able to do this, that the reality in the end is the FBI seems to operate on the idea that if the paperwork is immaculate that the political consequences are going to be neutral. That’s where the FBI has gotten it wrong over and over again. The paperwork can be immaculate, and yet they can be doing exactly wrong thing politically. If I’m a smart Justice Department official, I’m going to say we got to let the chips fall where they may. If the raid on Mar-a-Lago helps Donald Trump, we still have to do what’s legally correct to do. Now you might ask, well, did they exhaust all the possibilities in talking to the Trump camp? Did they absolutely have to do this? What evidence did they have that Donald Trump was going to weaponize the information? Was there some imminent reason for them to have to do it now? Etc etc. In the end, if I’m a Justice Department official appearing before the news media, I might answer every question that I understand that you are arguing the political consequences, but our job is to enforce the law. And Donald Trump was breaking the law, and we needed to enforce the law and it took us this long to get to the place where it was obvious that Donald Trump was not going to return the material that he had in his possession. All of this is going to come out in the coming weeks or months, but whether or not it is going to benefit Donald Trump in this election cycle, and then specifically, in 2024, we’ll have to see. I’m fearful that the effect of this is going to be that more people will lose respect for the government. More people will see Washington as persecuting Donald Trump, and that the Biden administration and the Biden Justice Department are not going to be able to get off that merry-go-round and that’s going to add to the Trump camp’s constituency. We already see that prominent Republicans from all walks of life except for two people on the planet (Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger) have all rallied behind Donald Trump on this issue. I would say that this is perhaps one of the largest crises in the FBI’s history. They may not understand it themselves. They may have made mistakes here in what they did, and they may have been legally justified to do what they did. But politically I believe it will be seen as a disaster. GOSZTOLA: Finally I want to put to you the issue of the Espionage Act being part of the conversation. A lot of my work has been watching and monitoring and covering the developments in individual Espionage Act prosecutions over the last decade-plus. Those individuals and their attorneys would also say that they were charged for materials that would not cause exceptionally grave damage, and yet the book was thrown thrown at them and they had their lives ruined and their careers ended. So why shouldn’t the same be true for Donald Trump? I think it presents a crisis. I think it’s part of this crisis of the liberals and the Democratic Party establishment really feeling strongly about pushing forward with whatever the Justice Department is about to do. What’s your sense of the risk if Donald Trump were to be charged with violating the Espionage Act? You’re talking to people about the potential charges that could be brought. Is this even a distinct possibility? You said unlawful possession, which can be within that law. But there are other laws. Do you think it would be a more minor law to keep the Espionage Act out of the conversation? ARKIN: We now know that the Espionage Act was only being referenced because of section 793(d) of the Espionage Act, which is an area of the Espionage Act that deals with if you are in possession of classified documents and the federal government asks you to return them, and you don’t return them, you’re in violation of 793(d) of the Espionage Act. It’s called the Espionage Act, what it’s been called since 1917, but it also happens to be just one of a handful of laws that deal with security classification. The rest of the security classification system exists under executive order. That’s why Donald Trump and his people are arguing that he declassified everything. But it’s not altogether true. Some elements of classified information do fall under statute, such as atomic energy information or information about the identities of CIA sources, etc. Those fall under statute. So it’s unfortunate that the Espionage Act is the place where this is contained, this provision about returning classified material in your possession, because it’s abused in a way because we don’t have modern legislation. Perhaps one of the solutions will be that we will finally have a law passed, which will specify what is classified and unclassified information and what is the modern security classification system and where are the authorities and what’s against the law and what’s not against the law. That does influence Julian Assange’s problems in the courts. It influences other whistleblowers who have been charged with the Espionage Act, and even if they were not guilty of espionage, as we think of it, they are charged under the Espionage Act. So we need to clean this up because I don’t think that we have a law in a proper way that really specifies what the true state of play is here. If I support Julian Assange, I want Donald Trump to spur along a better articulation of what is the actual purpose of the Espionage Act. To have say for instance Julian Assange, a foreign national charged under the Espionage Act—espionage against who? If he committed espionage against Australia, then he should be charged in his own country of his nationality. In some ways, if I’m a supporter of Julian Assange, I want to see that Donald Trump helps to clarify what is this law and what it can really be used for. Because in the cases of [Chelsea] Manning, in the cases of Tom Drake, in the case of Julian Assange, I think it’s been misapplied. And in the case of journalism, there have been attempts at various times within our recent past going back to the Reagan administration, where the federal government has sought to use the Espionage Act as a way of suppressing a free press. Again, if I’m really interested in the future, I would want to see Congress step in finally and establish an omnibus law that deals with security classification in this country. That’s more important than Donald Trump. The post Interview With National Security Journalist William Arkin: FBI Faces Brewing Political Disaster After Mar-a-Lago Raid appeared first on Shadowproof.

[Category: Dissenter Featured, Latest News, The Dissenter, Donald Trump, Espionage Act, FBI, Justice Department, National Security State, William Arkin]

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[l] at 8/15/22 8:52am
This article was originally published at our reader-supported newsletter, The Dissenter. Become an annual paid subscriber to help us continue our independent journalism. A group of journalists and lawyers, who visited WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange while he was living under political asylum in the Ecuadorian embassy, sued the CIA and former CIA director Mike Pompeo. They allege that the agency under Pompeo spied on them in violation of their privacy rights. Undercover Global S.L., a private security company in Spain, and the company’s director David Morales are also named as defendants. UC Global ramped up surveillance against Assange and shared audio and video footage from the embassy with “American intelligence.” “The United States Constitution shields American citizens from US government overreach even when the activities take place in a foreign embassy in a foreign country. Visitors who are lawyers, journalists and doctors frequently carry confidential information in their devices,” declared Richard Roth, who is the lead attorney representing the plaintiffs. “They had a reasonable expectation that the security guards at the Ecuadorian embassy in London would not be US government spies charged with delivering copies of their electronics to the CIA,” Roth added. Two of the plaintiffs are attorneys who have represented Assange—Margaret Rather Kunstler, a civil rights activist and human rights attorney, and Deborah Hrbek, a media lawyer. The other two plaintiffs are journalists Charles Glass and John Goetz, who worked for Der Spiegel when the German media organization first partnered with WikiLeaks to publish documents on the Afghanistan and Iraq wars. The lawsuit comes around two months after United Kingdom Home Secretary Priti Patel approved the US extradition request against Assange. His legal team has submitted two separate appeals in the UK courts, yet it is increasingly evident that Assange could be flown to the US to face Espionage Act charges that civil liberties, human rights, and press freedom organizations around the world have condemned. According to the complaint [PDF] filed in a US court in the Southern District of New York, Glass, Goetz, Hrbek, and Kunstler, like all visitors, were required to “surrender” their electronic devices to UC Global employees hired by Ecuador to provide security for the embassy. What they did not know is that UC Global “copied the information stored on the devices” and allegedly shared the information with the CIA. Pompeo allegedly authorized and approved the action. Security required plaintiffs to leave their devices with them, which contained “confidential and privileged information about their sources or clients. This information was copied and allegedly shared with the CIA. It is estimated that “well over 100 American citizens who visited Assange at the Ecuadorian embassy” had their privacy rights violated. This includes attorneys who were there to represent Assange, journalists who traveled to interview him, and even doctors who came to the embassy to assess and treat his deteriorating health. Their privileged communications stored on electronic devices were compromised. The CIA-backed spying operation began around January 2017 and lasted until UC Global’s contract was terminated around April 2018. By that time, the Justice Department under President Donald Trump already had a sealed indictment against Assange. Pompeo allegedly approved the placement of hidden microphones in new cameras at the embassy. He allegedly approved bugging the embassy with hidden microphones. He allegedly signed off on a plan to allow the CIA to “observe and listen to Assange’s daily activities at the embassy.” Also, the complaint claims Pompeo approved the copying of visitors’ passports, “including pages with stamps and visas.” He ensured that all “computers, laptops, mobile phones, recording devices, and other electronics brought into the embassy,” were “seized, dismantled, imaged, photographed, and digitized.” This included the collection of IMEI and SIM codes from visitors’ phones. Morales did not speak very good English, yet as further evidence that UC Global was working for the CIA, the complaint notes that UC Global employees were given “written technology instructions” for live streaming and audio associated with the surveillance” that were in “perfect English.” There was an “external streaming access point” for “American intelligence” sent from the “Venetian Hotel,” or the Las Vegas Sands, the complaint asserts. Around January 2017, Morales traveled to the Shooting, Hunting, and Outdoor (SHOT) convention at Las Vegas Sands. The convention was an expo for the private security industry. Security personnel for Las Vegas Sands spoke with Morales and reportedly recruited Morales to spy on Assange for the CIA. When Morales returned to Spain, at least one whistleblower from UC Global has said Morales told employees the company was now “in the big league,” and they would be working for the “dark side.” He indicated “the Americans” would help UC Global secure major contracts throughout the world. The complaint says former UC Global employees believe the “deal included selling information obtained through the illegal surveillance of Assange to the CIA.” Additionally, the complaint claims that CIA handlers in the US were collecting recordings from Morales either through delivery to Las Vegas, Washington, DC, or New York or through transfers on an FTP server at UC Global offices that gave CIA personnel external access to the material.Tip Jar Reporting from the Spanish newspaper El País previously corroborated many of the claims in the complaint. Their journalism was based upon primary source materials shared with them by whistleblowing UC Global employees. Some of these revelations were part of Assange’s challenge to the US extradition request, but a UK magistrates’ court dismissed the allegations as irrelevant to the indictment from the US Justice Department. In September 2021, Yahoo! News published a bombshell report on “secret war plans” against Assange that involved proposals for kidnapping and assassinating Assange after Pompeo became obsessed with the WikiLeaks founder following the media organization’s publication of CIA hacking materials that became known as the “Vault 7” materials. Pompeo labeled the organization a “non-state hostile intelligence agency,” and in April 2017, he made it the focus of his first speech as CIA director. “The one thing [current] whistleblowers don’t need is a publisher,” since the internet already enables enough sharing of information. During the speech, Pompeo called Assange a “coward,” a “fraud,” and a “narcissist.” He pledged to pursue a “long term” campaign to neutralize WikiLeaks. “Assange remained in the embassy in London for 7 years, believing he would face extradition to the US if he left the building,” stated Deborah Hrbek. “He was pilloried as a paranoid narcissist for this belief. As it turns out, he was right.” The lawsuit is a Bivens action, which stems from a precedent-setting case that established the ability of US citizens to sue US government officials. US courts have been historically reluctant to allow plaintiffs to pursue damages, especially if it involves sensitive national security or foreign policy matters. The post CIA, Pompeo Sued For Allegedly Spying On US Attorneys And Journalists Who Met With Assange appeared first on Shadowproof.

[Category: Dissenter Featured, Latest News, The Dissenter, CIA, Julian Assange, Mike Pompeo, WikiLeaks]

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[l] at 8/11/22 1:41pm
This article was funded by paid subscribers of The Dissenter Newsletter. Become an annual paid subscriber to help us continue our independent journalism.Mary McCord, who was the chief of the United States Justice Department’s national security division under President Barack Obama, said that former President Donald Trump may have violated the Espionage Act. On the “Skullduggery” podcast from Yahoo! News, McCord contended that provisions in the World War 1-era law, which has been applied to the mishandling of classified information, potentially covers what Trump allegedly did—removing documents from their proper place, losing or stealing information, and other acts of gross negligence.But the Espionage Act is part of the two-tiered US justice system. Only lower-level federal government employees or contractors are punished with Espionage Act charges. High-ranking officials are able to use their status to avoid charges that would turn them into convicted felons.It is, however, possible that the FBI invoked provisions of the Espionage Act to secure a warrant to search Trump’s Mar-a-Lago home and reclaim control of classified documents.A grand jury subpoena for sensitive documents was issued to Trump in the spring, according to NBC News. The subpoena related to documents that Trumps legal team discussed with Justice Department officials around that same time. The National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) coordinated with Trump representatives in 2021, and in January 2022, 15 boxes were transferred to the National Archives. Some of the records contained classified information so NARA contacted the Justice Department [PDF]. FBI agents raided Trump’s Mar-a-Lago home on August 8, and they reportedly retrieved at least 10 boxes of documents. Some of those files allegedly contain classified information. The fact that those boxes were not turned over when Trump representatives coordinated with NARA likely factored into the FBI’s decision to deploy agents to reclaim the documents. The Justice Department routinely investigates and prosecutes US government employees and contractors who take classified information and try to keep the records in their home. Such individuals are typically charged with “unauthorized possession” or the “willful retention” of “national defense information.” On May 18, 2021, Kendra Kingsbury, a 48 year-old FBI intelligence analyst who had a top secret security clearance, was charged [PDF] with willfully retaining national defense information in violation of the Espionage Act. Between June 2004 and December 2017, she allegedly took documents on FBI counterterrorism operations as well as CIA documents on al Qaida in Africa, which she kept at her home in Dodge City, Kansas.CIA contractor Reynaldo Regis pled guilty to retaining classified information on May 11, 2018. He was accused of copying classified information into personal notebooks. FBI agents found “approximately 60 notebooks containing classified information” when they searched his Maryland home. Harold Martin was a Defense Department contractor, who was similarly charged with violating the Espionage Act on February 8, 2017 [PDF]. During the span of two decades, Martin took digital and hard copies of NSA documents, US Cyber Command documents, and a CIA document on foreign intelligence collection. They were kept in his Maryland home and his vehicle.Mohan Nirala pled guilty on September 16, 2016, to willfully retaining national defense information and violating the Espionage Act. He was an imagery scientist at the US National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA). FBI agents found more than 20 secret and top secret documents at his home in Maryland. Working as a computer systems administrator at Soto Cano Air Base in Honduras, Chris Glenn faced Espionage Act charges in 2014 after the FBI found that he had encrypted files from the Defense Department and US Southern Command, which he kept on an “internet-accessible network storage device located in his residence in Honduras.” Mark Unkenholz was an NSA employee in Maryland, who was part of an office that worked with industry partners. On March 29, 2022, he was accused of willfully retaining national defense information and violating the Espionage Act in his personal email account. As an NSA employee, Unkenholz did not have physical copies of the records in his home. He possessed the files by having the documents in his personal email, and the FBI learned of the retention because he sent the documents to a person at a company who was not authorized to receive the information. (Note: Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had classified information on her private email server that created an “increased risk of unauthorized disclosure.”) Then there is the case of the “collector of rare documents.” In 2012, Secrecy News reported that James Hitselberger, a Navy contract linguist in Bahrain, was charged with violating the Espionage Act because he had a habit of taking classified documents to his “living quarters” to read. The Hoover Institution at Stanford University had a Hitselberger collection that contained “political posters and leaflets that he gathered in pre-revolutionary Iran.” FBI agents uncovered classified documents in Hitselberger’s possession as well as his collection at the Hoover Institution. In a rare event, David Petraeus, who was a CIA director and Pentagon chief, faced accusations of unlawfully retaining national defense information when he kept eight “Black Books” in his home [PDF]. The books contained highly classified information with the “identities of covert officers, war strategy, intelligence capabilities and mechanisms, diplomatic discussions, quotes and deliberative discussions from high-level National Security Council meetings,” and notes from discussions with President Barack Obama. Petraeus later shared the Black Books with Paula Broadwell, who he had an affair with while she was writing a biography, All In: The Education of General David Petraeus. Because Petraeus was a former high-ranking official and a revered US military general in Washington, his attorneys were able to convince the Justice Department to not charge him with violating the Espionage Act. Petraeus was charged in 2015 with the misdemeanor offense of “unauthorized removal and retention of classified material,” which is part of the criminal code for public officers and employees. None of the individuals charged with retaining or possessing information unlawfully had the same influence or power as Petraeus or Trump. They were lower class people that were unable to stop the Justice Department from treating them like spies.Trump’s legal team should be able to learn from Petraeus’ legal team and negotiate with Justice Department behind closed doors so he is not charged with violating the Espionage Act (if the Justice Department under Attorney General Merrick Garland is even prepared to charge him with a crime). Therefore, it will be stunning if the Justice Department pursues an Espionage Act prosecution. No matter what the FBI uncovers and accuses Trump of doing with classified documents, he is still a former US president. And regardless of the ultimate outcome, the documents that were at Mar-a-Lago belong to the public, not Donald Trump. The post Justice Department Unlikely To Charge Trump With Violating The Espionage Act appeared first on Shadowproof.

[Category: Latest News, The Dissenter, Donald Trump, Espionage Act, Justice Department, The Dissenter Newsletter]

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[l] at 8/10/22 9:06am
Originally published at Ongoing History of Protest MusicIn 2021, Mádé Kuti built upon the legacy of his father Femi and legendary grandfather Fela withthe release of his debut album For(e)ward. The album was released alongside Femi’s eleventh full-length album Stop The Hate as part of the aptly titled double album Legacy +. After completion of a United States tour with his father, Mádé released his latest single No More Wars, featuring powerhouse vocals and expert backing from his newly formed band The Movement.The tune promotes the need to re-evaluate values and to make a conscious effort to pursue peace, and the stirring Afrobeat anthem works on both a personal and political level. ‘No More Wars’ is entirely about temper, control, and focus, Mádé said. It’s about experiences I’ve had that taught me to reflect intentionally before I resort to violent acts.The lyrics are inspired by my father’s consistency in following his path despite dealing with an overwhelming amount of harsh, untrue, and deliberately cruel people inside and outside of his circle, Mádé added.We live in a world that demands righteous indignation, but there is a danger that we may be consumed by anger. When that danger arises, we can remind ourselves of the lyrical refrain that recommends we how to deal with negative energy.So when dem come with dem trouble All the negativity dem sabi [they know]So when dem come with dem energyClose your ears and sing.Listen to Mádé Kutis No More Wars: The post Protest Song Of The Week: No More Wars By Mádé Kuti appeared first on Shadowproof.

[Category: Dissenter Featured, Latest News, The Dissenter, The Protest Music Project]

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[l] at 8/9/22 8:41am
CNN host Michael Smerconish interviewed Roger Waters about his This Is Not A Drill concert tour. By comparing the 7-minute edited version that aired to the 28-minute uncut version, which Smerconish posted, it is evident that producers used the interview to try and paint Waters as a political madman to discredit the messages in his show.Shadowproofs Kevin Gosztola put together this video that shows what made the CNN edit a classic example of framing dissent in a manner that was intended to strip Waters of any credibility. The beginning features the Bravery of Being Out of Range, which Gosztola recorded during Waters performance in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Waters used the song from his 1992 album Amused To Death to indict every US president since President Ronald Reagan, who has been responsible for death and destruction as an overseer of a war machine. But instead of learning Waters is commenting on an entire system, you may think Waters has only singled out President Joe Biden if you watched CNN.As Waters shares his opinion about human rights, Taiwan and China, and the war in Ukraine, Smerconish no longer is simply a Pink Floyd fan talking to Waters. Smerconish is acting as a cop, who is there to call out anything Waters says that does not fit into the cable news networks preferred narratives. The post CNNs Attempt To Police Roger Waters And His This Is Not A Drill Show appeared first on Shadowproof.

[Category: Dissenter Featured, Latest News, The Dissenter, The Protest Music Project, CNN, Dissent, Protest Music Project, Roger Waters]

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[l] at 8/2/22 7:44am
Shadowproof was launched seven years ago. With many crises facing our world, we are proud to still be publishing independent journalism. Since our last birthday, Shadowproof has published several articles from freelance journalists at our website and as part of The Dissenter, our newsletter focused on whistleblower stories and WikiLeaks founder Julian Assanges case. Thanks in part to the Marvel Cooke Fellowship, we were able to pay writers higher amounts than in previous years. This was made possible by members and donors, who have stepped up to give money in a precarious time, and by journalists, who contributed work and believed we could provide them with a solid platform. Our members and donors have more or less stuck by us despite the waves of economic despair and instability sparked by the COVID-19 pandemic, inflation, and the US-Russia proxy war in Ukraine. Shadowproof managing editor Kevin Gosztola continued his coverage of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assanges case and reported on an appeal hearing in the United Kingdom in October 2021. He put out reports when the UK Supreme Court refused to hear Assanges appeal, when the UK judiciary approved the United States governments extradition request, and when Home Office Secretary Priti Patel gave extradition her stamp of approval. While maintaining The Dissenter Newsletter, Kevin wrote his book, Guilty of Journalism: The Political Case Against Julian Assange, which is scheduled for release from Censored Press and Seven Stories Press in February 2023. It is a thorough analysis of the US governments case against Assange and the implications for press freedom that will serve as a guide if and when Assange is brought to the US for trial.  Beyond Prisons, which Shadowproof publishing editor Brian Nam-Sonenstein co-hosts, entered its fifth year of publication. The show is currently exploring community-based violence interventions, such as the Creative Interventions Toolkit [PDF].  Shadowproof proudly continued the Marvel Cooke journalism fellowship, which Brian organizes. In 2021, we published eight articles including contributions from two incarcerated reporters at California’s San Quentin prison: Juan Moreno Haines and Rahsaan Thomas.  This year, with the continued generous financial backing of Mariame Kaba and additional donations from our readers, we were able to offer larger fellowships at $2000 each. We are working with a larger group of incarcerated journalists and artists than we did in 2021. We just published our first fellowship piece of the second round by Vanessa Taylor on how abolitionist organizers see counterterrorism as a response to white supremacy. The project unfortunately has faced numerous setbacks and delays due to repression, outbreaks of COVID and other infectious illnesses, and mail censorship in prisons.  Though we may have to delay publication for work from incarcerated fellows, we remain patient and persistent in our commitment to work through it and support them as best we can in our collaboration. C.J. Baker, who curates a website called “Ongoing History Of Protest Songs,” kept up his bi-weekly posts featuring the latest protest songs. What we do is possible because of Shadowproof members and donors. The more recurring monthly contributions we receive, the more independent journalism we can produce. It helps us pay journalists more, and were able to expand our work. We invite readers to become Shadowproof members by donating here. If you would like something in return for your generosity, you can subscribe to The Dissenter Newsletter. (To celebrate, we have a birthday special that will allow you to take $15 off a year subscription.) * Tens of thousands of media jobs were lost since the COVID-19 pandemic started in 2020. The impact of the past two years on freelance journalists is incalculable—primarily because layoffs announced by news organizations typically do not include contractors or freelancers. At Shadowproof, we do our best to push back against a media culture that devalues freelance journalists. Every freelance journalist who comes to us with a pitch for a story sets the amount that they would like to be paid, and then we negotiate from there. We do not take a week, a month, or longer to pay journalists for their work. Our standard is to pay them the day that their work appears on our site.  Many sites are confined to their web address, but we are using Shadowproof as a base of operations that can support the development and distribution of a newsletter, podcasts, and this year, were increasing the number of livestreams and content we publish to the Shadowproof YouTube channel.    Every dollar we raise increases the possibilities for what we can do with Shadowproof. It will not be long before we are in the throes of another presidential election cycle. Yet Shadowproof will remain principled and stick to our coverage of issues and movements that are fighting for environmental, economic, racial, and social justice. We will stay focused on struggles, like the grassroots campaigns to defund the police, abolish the prison industrial-complex, and decriminalize abortion. If the overturning of Roe taught us anything, it is how Democrats utterly failed us. They promised for at least the last 15 years that if we voted for them they would protect women from losing their right to reproductive health care. But when they had the power to codify that right into law under President Barack Obama, they did nothing.  President Donald Trump energized right-wing forces in the United States. Trumps bungling of the COVID-19 pandemic allowed Joe Biden to defeat Trump in 2020, and Democrats gained control of the White House and Congress. Yet after once again demanding that vulnerable communities vote for them if they wanted to be protected, Democrats let a cold-blooded minority rule.  Biden and the Democrats did little-to-nothing to protect citizens rights and respond to the Republican onslaught. That teaches us to have limited faith in electoralism. What has more chance of delivering gains for people in dire need is direct and open confrontation with those in power. Movements that make demands, block government operations, and wage public demonstrations that refuse to go home when told to disperse are more likely to beat back creeping fascism. We have us, and the connections we forge, and only we can save us from the existential threats barreling down upon our communities—climate catastrophe, wars for empire, nuclear war, etc. Thank you again for believing in what we do at Shadowproof. Heres to another year of independent journalism. Kevin Gosztola, Managing EditorBrian Nam-Sonenstein, Publishing Editor * 10 Most-Read Articles On Shadowproof In Our Sixth Year Documents Reveal How Pentagon Shaped ‘Top Gun: Maverick’ Into A Recruitment And PR Vehicle by Tom Secker Jailhouse Lawyers Take On COVID-19 Where Prisons Won’t by Lucia Geng CIA Funded Experiments On Danish Orphans For Decades by Kit Klarenberg Massachusetts Chief of Police Sends Racist Emails to Town Officials, Keeps Job by Eoin Higgins Pentagon And Its Overseers Suppressed Whistleblowers Who Challenged Massacre In Syria Drone Whistleblower Daniel Hale Imprisoned In Communications Management Unit Designed For Terrorists British Officials Spread Moscow Coup Plot Disinformation For United States by Kit Klarenberg Abolishing Police Surveillance In NYC: Will Transparency Help Or Make It Harder? by Rebecca Chowdhury In Riverside County Jails, Organizing Against Repressive Conditions Takes Many Forms by James Anderson Despite Worsening Opioid Crisis, Many Jails And Prisons Remain Opposed To Treatment Medications by Daniel Moritz Rabson 5 Most-Read Articles From The Dissenter Newsletter British High Court Expands US Appeal In Assange Case 9/11 Cinema: The Antiwar Film Disney Tried To Suppress Whistleblower Craig Murray On Being Imprisoned Over Blog Posts by Mohamed Elmaazi CIA Funded Experiments On Danish Orphans For Decades by Kit Klarenberg UK Government Approves Request To Send Assange To US For Trial The post Shadowproofs Seventh Birthday: Looking Back On Another Year appeared first on Shadowproof.

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