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  • Hicks on Sharing

    posted by Keito
    2012-09-29 17:46:45
  • US investigates possible WikiLeaks leaker for 'communicating with the enemy'

    posted by Keito
    2012-09-28 10:32:20
    'US military's new legal theory threatens to convert unauthorized leaks into a capital offense. Who is the real 'enemy'?


    A US air force systems analyst who expressed support for WikiLeaks and accused leaker Bradley Manning triggered a formal military investigation last year to determine whether she herself had leaked any documents to the group. Air Force investigative documents, obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request, show that the analyst was repeatedly interviewed about her contacts with and support for WikiLeaks - what investigators repeatedly refer to as the "anti-US or anti-military group" - as well as her support for the group's founder, Julian Assange.

    The investigation was ultimately closed when they could find no evidence of unauthorized leaking, but what makes these documents noteworthy is the possible crime cited by military officials as the one they were investigating: namely, "Communicating With the Enemy", under Article 104 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ).

    That is one of the most serious crimes a person can commit - it carries the penalty of death - and is committed when a person engages in "unauthorized communication, correspondence, or intercourse with the enemy". The military investigation form also requires investigators to identify the "victim" of the crime they are investigating, and here, they designated "society" as the victim:

    How could leaking to WikiLeaks possibly constitute the crime of "communicating with the enemy"? Who exactly is the "enemy"? There are two possible answers to that question, both quite disturbing.

    The first possibility is the one suggested by today's Sydney Morning Herald article on these documents (as well as by WikiLeaks itself): that the US military now formally characterizes WikiLeaks and Assange as an "enemy", the same designation it gives to groups such as Al Qaeda and the Taliban. This would not be the first time such sentiments were expressed by the US military: recall that one of the earliest leaks from the then-largely-unknown group was a secret report prepared back in 2008 by the US Army which, as the New York Times put it, included WikiLeaks on the Pentagon's "list of the enemies threatening the security of the United States". That Army document then plotted how to destroy the group.

    But it's the second possibility that seems to me to be the far more likely one: namely, that the US government, as part of Obama's unprecedented war on whistleblowers, has now fully embraced the pernicious theory that any leaks of classified information can constitute the crime of "aiding the enemy" or "communicating with the enemy" by virtue of the fact that, indirectly, "the enemy" will - like everyone else in the world - ultimately learn of what is disclosed.

    Indeed, the US military is currently prosecuting accused WikiLeaks leaker Bradley Manning on multiple charges including "aiding the enemy", also under Article 104 of the UCMJ, and a capital offense (though prosecutors are requesting "only" life imprisonment rather than execution). Military prosecutors have since revealed that their theory is that the 23-year-old Army Private "aided al-Qaida by leaking hundreds of thousands of military and other government documents" -- specifically, that "Manning indirectly aided al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula by giving information to WikiLeaks."

    It seems clear that the US military now deems any leaks of classified information to constitute the capital offense of "aiding the enemy" or "communicating with the enemy" even if no information is passed directly to the "enemy" and there is no intent to aid or communicate with them. Merely informing the public about classified government activities now constitutes this capital crime because it "indirectly" informs the enemy.

    The implications of this theory are as obvious as they are disturbing. If someone can be charged with "aiding" or "communicating with the enemy" by virtue of leaking to WikiLeaks, then why wouldn't that same crime be committed by someone leaking classified information to any outlet: the New York Times, the Guardian, ABC News or anyone else? In other words, does this theory not inevitably and necessarily make all leaking of all classified information - whether to WikiLeaks or any media outlet - a capital offense: treason or a related crime?

    International Law Professor Kevin Jon Heller made a similar point when the charges against Manning were first revealed:

    "[I]f Manning has aided the enemy, so has any media organization that published the information he allegedly stole. Nothing in Article 104 requires proof that the defendant illegally acquired the information that aided the enemy. As a result, if the mere act of ensuring that harmful information is published on the internet qualifies either as indirectly 'giving intelligence to the enemy' (if the military can prove an enemy actually accessed the information) or as indirectly 'communicating with the enemy' (because any reasonable person knows that enemies can access information on the internet), there is no relevant factual difference between Manning and a media organization that published the relevant information."

    Professor Heller goes on to note that while "WikiLeaks or the New York Times could not actually be charged under Article 104" because "the UCMJ only applies to soldiers", there is nonetheless "still something profoundly disturbing about the prospect of convicting Manning and sentencing him to life imprisonment for doing exactly what media organizations did, as well".

    What these new documents reveal is that this odious theory is not confined to Manning. The US military appears to be treating all potential leaks - at least those to WikiLeaks - as "aiding" or "communicating with" the enemy. But there is no possible limiting principle that would confine that theory only to such leaks; they would necessarily apply to all leaks of classified information to any media outlets.

    It is always worth underscoring that the New York Times has published far more government secrets than WikiLeaks ever has, and more importantly, has published far more sensitive secrets than WikiLeaks has (unlike WikiLeaks, which has never published anything that was designated "Top Secret", the New York Times has repeatedly done so: the Pentagon Papers, the Bush NSA wiretapping program, the SWIFT banking surveillance system, and the cyberwarfare program aimed at Iran were all "Top Secret" when the newspaper revealed them, as was the network of CIA secret prisons exposed by the Washington Post). There is simply no way to convert basic leaks to WikiLeaks into capital offenses - as the Obama administration is plainly doing - without sweeping up all leaks into that attack.

    Of course, that outcome would almost certainly be a feature, not a bug, for Obama officials. This is, after all, the same administration that has prosecuted whistleblowers under espionage charges that threatened to send them to prison for life without any evidence of harm to national security, and has brought double the number of such prosecutions as all prior administrations combined. Converting all leaks into capital offenses would be perfectly consistent with the unprecedented secrecy fixation on the part of the Most Transparent Administration Ever™.

    The irony from these developments is glaring. The real "enemies" of American "society" are not those who seek to inform the American people about the bad acts engaged in by their government in secret. As Democrats once recognized prior to the age of Obama - in the age of Daniel Ellsberg - people who do that are more aptly referred to as "heroes". The actual "enemies" are those who abuse secrecy powers to conceal government actions and to threaten with life imprisonment or even execution those who blow the whistle on high-level wrongdoing.'

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2012/sep/27/wikileaks-investigation-enemy
  • U.S. May Have Designated Julian Assange and WikiLeaks An

    posted by Keito
    2012-09-28 10:26:05
    'Documents obtained under the Freedom of Information Act show WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange may have been designated an "enemy of the state" by the United States. U.S. Air Force counter-intelligence documents show military personnel who contact WikiLeaks or its supporters may be at risk of being charged with "communicating with the enemy" — a military crime that carries a maximum sentence of death. We speak to attorney Michael Ratner, president emeritus of the Center for Constitutional Rights and a legal advisor to Assange and WikiLeaks.'
  • UK Roadside cameras suffer from large gaps in coverage, police admit

    posted by Keito
    2012-08-29 21:29:01
    'Police chiefs have admitted there are flaws in a "big brother" surveillance system that enables them to track and store the daily journeys of millions of motorists.

    The police chief who co-ordinates the growing network of more than 5,000 roadside cameras, which records the whereabouts of 16m vehicles, said the network was patchy and left"large gaps in coverage in various parts of the country".

    Police made the admissions as they won a freedom of information tribunal to keep secret the locations of the the cameras, arguing that disclosure would allow criminals to evade detection.

    For the past 10 years, police chiefs have pushed the expansion of the network, saying the cameras have become one of their most valuable tools to catch criminals in investigations ranging from terrorism to low-level crime.

    The cameras, located on motorways and main roads and at airports and town centres, automatically record the number plates and fronts of cars, noting the time, date and location of the images taken.

    Each camera, be it fixed on a pole, gantry or mounted in a police car, can log up to 3,600 images an hour.

    The images are transmitted to a central database in Hendon, north London, which holds more than 7bn records of the movement of stretching back six years. Police hope the database will be able to record up to 50m licence plates a day.

    The home secretary, Theresa May, has ordered that regulation of the Automatic number plate recognition (ANPR) cameras should be tightened up, amid civil liberties concerns. No other democratic country routinely tracks innocent motorists in this way.

    Weaknesses in the system were admitted by John Dean, who co-ordinates the system for the Association of Chief Police Officers, and other officers during a test case brought by the Guardian to find out the locations of 45 cameras in Devon and Cornwall.

    Dean said: "This network of ANPR cameras has been established at local level to reflect the needs of local policing priorities. There has therefore been no national deployment plan, and this has resulted in significant gaps of coverage throughout the country.

    "The disclosure of the locations of existing ANPR cameras could therefore put some areas at greater risk, the criminals becoming aware of these gaps of coverage."

    DS Neil Winterbourne, in charge of the ANPR cameras for Scotland Yard's counter-terrorism command, told the tribunal criminals could evade the cameras by adopting "a particular driving style", which he did not describe.

    "I will not go into the conduct of such tactics herein," he said, "but it is true to say that a properly trained driver can adopt a particular driving style that will greatly reduce the chance of the vehicle being detected by ANPR.

    "These tactics are only effective in the short term, when in close proximity to a camera, and it would be impracticable for anyone to permanently drive around in such a fashion."

    He added: "There are numerous ways in which the appearance of a number plate can be modified to reduce the chances of detection by ANPR, but these are mostly apparent when the vehicle is inspected and run the risk of attracting the attention of police, which may be counter-productive from the terrorist standpoint".

    Police said criminals were steering clear of the cameras when they knew the locations. They cited the case of Danny Speed, who was jailed for a string of robberies on vans carrying cash. A secret bug in his car recorded him saying: "They are the ANPR ones … I am going to [go] round the outside."

    Jeremy Harris, an assistant chief constable in the Police Service of Northern Ireland, said there had been more than 30 incidents in the region "of cameras being moved and pushed out of alignment so they are not reading registration plates and have been rendered inoperative". There had been a "concentrated effort by criminals" to damage or set fire to cameras, he added.

    After a three-year battle by the Guardian, the tribunal ruled in favour of police, who argued that disclosure of the cameras' locations would compromise the effectiveness of a weapon that has contributed to more than 50,000 arrests.'

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2012/aug/27/police-number-plate-cameras-network-patchy
  • The Hyperconsumers Fate

    posted by Keito
    2012-08-23 21:36:38
    Consumption, capitalism and hyper-consumerism will inevitably destroy this planet. Whatever happened to sharing and making the best use of the tools available to us. Knowledge is power, and information can be free; but that is not how corporations want it to be. When profits mean more to people than the environment and the planet, and fat-cat elites control politics instead of the masses, then there can be no bright future for those generations of human beings that have to habit this planet after we're gone.

    Time for a change.