posts about or somewhat related to ‘government’
Why the WikiLeaks Grand Jury is So Dangerous: Members of Congress Now Want to Prosecute New York Times Journalists Too →
Via the Electronic Frontier Foundation:
For more than a year now, EFF has encouraged mainstream press publications like the New York Times to aggressively defend WikiLeaks’ First Amendment right to publish classified information in the public interest and denounce the ongoing grand jury investigating WikiLeaks as a threat to press freedom.
Well, we are now seeing why that is so important: at a House Judiciary subcommittee hearing on July 11th, some members of Congress made it clear they also want New York Times journalists charged under the Espionage Act for their recent stories on President Obama’s ‘Kill List’ and secret US cyberattacks against Iran. During the hearing, House Republicans “pressed legal experts Wednesday on whether it was possible to prosecute reporters for publishing classified information,” according to the Los Angeles Times.
In addition, the Washingtonian’s Shane Harris reported a month ago that a “senior” Justice Department official “made it clear that reporters who talked to sources about classified information were putting themselves at risk of prosecution.”
Leaks big and small have been happening for decades—even centuries—and the most recent are comparable to several others. No journalist has ever been prosecuted under the Espionage Act and it has generally been accepted, even by Congress’s own research arm, that the publication of government secrets by the press is protected speech under the First Amendment. Yet the government is actively investigating WikiLeaks and now threatening others for just that.
The mainstream media may see little in common with Assange’s digital publication methods or his general demeanor, but what he is accused of is virtually indistinguishable from what other reporters and newspapers do every day: poke, prod, and cajole sources within the government to give up classified information that newspapers then publish to inform the public of the government’s activities.
FJP: All so true. Read on.
The CIA recently rejected an ACLU Freedom of Information Act request for documents that disclose the US government’s guidelines for targeting US citizens and foreign nationals with drone attacks.
In its response to the ACLU request, the CIA wrote that “it can neither confirm nor deny the existence or nonexistence of records responsive to this request without compromising national security concerns.”
Take it away, Glenn Greenwald:
Numerous Obama officials — including the President himself and the CIA Director — have repeatedly boasted in public about this very program. Obama recently hailed the CIA drone program by claiming that “we are very careful in terms of how it’s been applied,” and added that it is “a targeted, focused effort at people who are on a list of active terrorists, who are trying to go in and harm Americans, hit American facilities, American bases and so on.” Obama has told playful jokes about the same drone program. Former CIA Director and current Defense Secretary Leon Panetta also likes to tell cute little jokes about CIA Predator drones, and then proclaimed in December that the drone program has “been very effective at undermining al Qaeda and their ability to plan those kinds of attacks.” Just two weeks ago, Attorney General Eric Holder gave a speech purporting to legally justify these same drone attacks…
… Everyone in the world knows the CIA has a drone program. It is openly discussed everywhere, certainly including the multiple Muslim countries where the drones routinely create piles of corpses, and by top U.S. Government officials themselves.
But then when it comes time to test the accuracy of their public claims by requesting the most basic information about what is done and how execution targets are selected, and when it comes time to ask courts to adjudicate its legality, then suddenly National Security imperatives prevent the government even from confirming or denying the existence of the program: the very same program they’ve been publicly boasting and joking about. As the ACLU’s Jameel Jaffer put it after Obama publicly defended the program: “At this point, the only consequence of pretending that it’s a secret program is that the courts don’t play a role in overseeing it” – that, and ensuring that any facts that contradict these public claims remain concealed.
Nine organization have now filed an Amicus — or friends of the court — brief to support an ACLU appeal against the CIA’s refusal to disclose documents that explain “when, where and against whom drone strikes can be authorized, and how the United States ensures compliance with international laws relating to extrajudicial killing.”
The organizations signing the brief are:
- Bureau of Investigative Journalism
- Campaign for Innocent Victims in Conflict
- Center for Constitutional Rights
- Center on National Security at Fordham Law School
- The Constitution Project
- First Amendment Coalition
- Human Rights Watch
- International Commission of Jurists
- National Security Archive
EFF has witnessed a growing number of calls in recent weeks for Twitter to ban certain accounts of alleged terrorists. In a December 14th article in the New York Times, anonymous U.S. officials claimed they “may have the legal authority to demand that Twitter close” a Twitter account associated with the militant Somali group Al-Shabaab. A week later, the Telegraphreported that Sen. Joe Lieberman contacted Twitter to remove two “propaganda” accounts allegedly run by the Taliban. More recently, an Israeli law firm threatened to sue Twitter if they did not remove accounts run by Hezbollah.
Via Electronic Frontier Foundation
International imponderables via Brian Solis:
Twitter is redefining the way we communicate – and that includes our world leaders: 15 of the G20 governments use it. But the question is who follows who, who doesn’t follow who, and do world leaders even realize the diplomatic significance of their tweets and Twitter friendships?
Barack Obama was the first to use the micro-blogging service to communicate with his electorate in 2008. His Twitter account @BarackObama, is now the most followed of all world-leader accounts, with 7.4 million followers (only @LadyGaga, @JustinBieber and @BritneySpears have more!) Twenty-eight different world leaders follow @BarackObama, yet notably the @WhiteHouse – the US government’s official Twitter account – doesn’t. Is this because the White House appreciates that the @BarackObama account was set up by Obama for America committee with one sole purpose in mind – to win him the US presidency?
Or is it simply a classic case – not atypical – of a world leader not quite appreciating the art of Twitter diplomacy? Twitter connections between world leaders say so much about current diplomatic relations, and while world leaders are starting to ‘make friends’ on social networks, they are not all mutually following each other. The Australian prime minister (@JuliaGillard) doesn’t return the follow of her counterpart in New Zealand (@JohnKeyPM), Israel’s prime minister Benjamin @Netanyahu doesn’t return Palestine’s friendship (@PMFayyad): look closely and these are but two of dozens of diplomatic faux pas on the Twitter social network.
I remember not understanding how big a deal it was that Yasser Arafat and Yitzhak Rabin shook hands. I can only imagine the future: BREAKING - Pakistan unfollows India! — Michael
Secrecy News is reporting that the US National Geospatial Intelligence Agency is looking for a contractor to digitize and release “approximately 4 million linear feet of film up to approximately 7 inches in width.”
The film contains historical intelligence satellite imagery.
For those counting, four million feet is about 757 miles.
Canada’s CBC asks whether WikiLeaks is journalism, quotes one source who says, Yay (“The release of the files represents the triumph of investigative journalism.”) and another who says, Nay (“He’s not a journalist. He’s not a whistleblower. He is a political actor. He has a political agenda.”).
What does WikiLeaks signify for journalism and civil society? Here’s some of what we’ve read this week.
1. Missing the Point of WikiLeaks — The Economist
With or without WikiLeaks, the technology exists to allow whistleblowers to leak data and documents while maintaining anonymity. With or without WikiLeaks, the personel, technical know-how, and ideological will exists to enable anonymous leaking and to make this information available to the public. Jailing Thomas Edison in 1890 would not have darkened the night.
1. WikiLeaks Reveals More than Government Secrets — Glenn Greenwald, Salon.com
On CNN last night, Wolf Blitzer was beside himself with rage over the fact that the U.S. Government had failed to keep all these things secret from him… Then — like the Good Journalist he is — Blitzer demanded assurances that the Government has taken the necessary steps to prevent him, the media generally and the citizenry from finding out any more secrets.
3. Wikileaks hounded? — Reporters Without Borders
This is the first time we have seen an attempt at the international community level to censor a website dedicated to the principle of transparency. We are shocked to find countries such as France and the United States suddenly bringing their policies on freedom of expression into line with those of China. We point out that in France and the United States, it is up to the courts, not politicians, to decide whether or not a website should be closed.
4. Why I love WikiLeaks — Jack Schafer, Slate.com
Oh, sure, [Julian Assange’s] a pompous egomaniac sporting a series of bad haircuts and grandiose tendencies. And he often acts without completely thinking through every repercussion of his actions. But if you want to dismiss him just because he’s a seething jerk, there are about 2,000 journalists I’d like you to meet.
5. What the Attacks on WikiLeaks Tell Us — John Naughton, Memex 1.1
The great American editor Oz Elliott once lectured graduates at the Columbia School of Journalism on their sacred duty to democracy as the unofficial legislators of mankind. He asked me what I thought of it. I said it was no good to me: I was trained as a reptile lurking in the gutter whose sole job was to “get the bloody story”.
Yet journalism’s stock-in-trade is disclosure. As we have seen this week with WikiLeaks, power loathes truth revealed.
6. The War on WikiLeaks — Joshua Norman, CBS News
Since the first mentions of a leak of potentially embarrassing U.S. diplomatic cables, a quiet war has blossomed between those who claim they support openness and free speech and those who claim they are protecting lives, international cooperation and the rights of the Swedish court system.