"We Don’t Live in a Free Country": Jacob Appelbaum on Being Target of Widespread Gov’t Surveillance
posted by Keito
2012-08-15 17:20:55'We speak with Jacob Appelbaum, a computer researcher who has faced a stream of interrogations and electronic surveillance since he volunteered with the whistleblowing website, WikiLeaks. He describes being detained more than a dozen times at the airport and interrogated by federal agents who asked about his political views and confiscated his cellphone and laptop. When asked why he cannot talk about what happened after he was questioned, Appelbaum says, "Because we don’t live in a free country. And if I did, I guess I could tell you about it." A federal judge ordered Twitter to hand over information about Appelbaum’s account. Meanwhile, he continues to work on the Tor Project, an anonymity network that ensures every person has the right to browse the internet without restriction and the right to speak freely.'
This interview is part of a 5-part special on growing state surveillance.
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JUAN GONZALEZ: Jacob, your experiences entering the United States at various times?
JACOB APPELBAUM: Well, after the summer of 2010, my life became a little hectic with regard to flying. I do a lot of traveling, working with the Tor Project. And after the summer of 2010, where I gave a speech at Hackers on Planet Earth in place of Julian Assange, I was targeted by the U.S. government and essentially, until the last four times that I’ve flown, I was detained basically every time. Sometimes men would meet me at the jetway, similarly, with guns.
AMY GOODMAN: Let us play that moment when you went to the HOPE conference.
JACOB APPELBAUM: Oh, dear.
AMY GOODMAN: Hackers on Planet Earth. Julian Assange was supposed to be there. He wasn’t. You stood up. This is the beginning of what you said.
JACOB APPELBAUM: Hello to all my friends and fans in domestic and international surveillance. I’m here today because I believe that we can make a better world.
AMY GOODMAN: And what did you go on to say?
JACOB APPELBAUM: Basically, I went on to talk about how I feel that people like Bill need to come forward to talk about what the U.S. government is doing, so that we can make informed choices as a democracy. And I went on to talk about how WikiLeaks is a part of making that happen. And as long as we have excessive classification and secrecy, that we need a WikiLeaks, and we need to stand in solidarity together, so that people will have the information that they need to understand what’s actually happening in their names.
JUAN GONZALEZ: You mentioned the Tor Project that you work with. What is it?
JACOB APPELBAUM: The Tor Project is an anonymity network, which ensures that each person has the right to read, without restriction, and the right to speak freely, with no exception.
AMY GOODMAN: T-O-R?
JACOB APPELBAUM: TorProject.org. And the basic idea is that every person in the world has the right to read and the right to speak freely. And using their software, using principles of mutual aid and solidarity—something familiar to Democracy Now! viewers, I imagine—it’s possible for everybody to use this anonymity network, spread out across the planet. It’s a thing that’s useful for resisting so-called lawful interception. So, for example, when Mubarak in Egypt wants to wiretap someone, they only see an activist talking to the Tor network; they don’t see that person connecting to Twitter. And that is something that can be used by everybody everywhere to resist so-called lawful interception.
JUAN GONZALEZ: And you use a program that was actually developed by the U.S. government?
JACOB APPELBAUM: Well, yeah. So, originally, the Tor Project is born from ideas that come from the anonymity community, of which the U.S. military has actually contributed quite heavily to. But since the times of the original onion routing patents, it has become a free software project, where, as far as I know, the U.S. Navy has contributed zero lines of code to it, but certainly lots of good ideas, because they understand, as many other people do, that if everyone has anonymous communication, that means everyone does, and if only special people do, it means that you can tell that those are special people that have special privileges, and you can basically see who they are.
So, for example, the Riseup Collective, which you mentioned earlier on the show, they run a number of tor nodes. And I run some, and many other people do. And as long as you get one good one, you have some of the properties that you need. And this helps people to resist not just so-called lawful interception, but also to resist censorship. So if you can’t see inside of the communications, you can’t selectively discriminate based on the content.
AMY GOODMAN: Just to say that in our news headlines today, we said the FBI has just seized a computer server at the New York facility shared by the internet organization Riseup Networks and May First/People Link. But I want to go back to your experience at the airport. If you could just briefly say—I mean, it’s been dozens and dozens of times that you have—
JACOB APPELBAUM: I don’t fly as much as Laura, and Laura has been at it for a lot longer than I have. But in the period of time since they’ve started detaining me, around a dozen-plus times. I’ve been detained a number of times. The first time I was actually detained by the Immigration and Customs Enforcement, I was put into a special room, where they frisked me, put me up against the wall. One guy cupped me in a particularly uncomfortable way. Another one held my wrists. They took my cellphones. I’m not really actually able to talk about what happened to those next.
AMY GOODMAN: Why?
JACOB APPELBAUM: Because we don’t live in a free country. And if I did, I guess I could tell you about it, right? And they took my laptop, but they gave it back. They were a little surprised it didn’t have a hard drive. I guess that threw them for a loop. And, you know, then they interrogated me, denied me access to a lawyer. And when they did the interrogation, they has a member of the U.S. Army, on American soil. And they refused to let me go. They tried—you know, they tried their usual scare tactics. So they sort of implied that if I didn’t make a deal with them, that I’d be sexually assaulted in prison, you know, which is the thing that they do these days as a method of punitive punishment, and they of course suggested that would happen.
AMY GOODMAN: How did they imply this?
JACOB APPELBAUM: Well, you know, they say, "You know, computer hackers like to think they’re all tough. But really, when it comes down to it, you don’t look like you’re going to do so good in prison." You know, that kind of stuff.
JUAN GONZALEZ: And what was the main thrust of the questions they were asking you?
JACOB APPELBAUM: Well, they wanted to know about my political views. They wanted to know about my work in any capacity as a journalist, actually, the notion that I could be in some way associated with Julian. They wanted, basically, to know any—
AMY GOODMAN: Julian Assange.
JACOB APPELBAUM: Julian Assange, the one and only. And they wanted—they wanted, essentially, to ask me questions about the Iraq war, the Afghan war, what I thought politically. They didn’t ask me anything about terrorism. They didn’t ask me anything about smuggling or drugs or any of the customs things that you would expect customs to be doing. They didn’t ask me if I had anything to declare about taxes, for example, or about importing things. They did it purely for political reasons and to intimidate me, denied me a lawyer. They gave me water, but refused me a bathroom, to give you an idea about what they were doing.
AMY GOODMAN: What happened to your Twitter account?
JACOB APPELBAUM: Well, the U.S. government, as I learned while I was in Iceland, actually, sent what’s called an administrative subpoena, or a 2703(d) order. And this is, essentially, less than a search warrant, and it asserts that you can get just the metadata and that the third party really doesn’t have a standing to challenge it, although in our case we were very lucky, in that we got to have—Twitter actually did challenge it, which was really wonderful. And we have been fighting this in court.
And without going into too much detail about the current court proceedings, we lost a stay recently, which says that Twitter has to give the data to the government. Twitter did, as I understand it, produce that data, I was told. And that metadata actually paints—you know, metadata and aggregate is content, and it paints a picture. So that’s all the IP addresses I logged in from. It’s all of the, you know, communications that are about my communications, which is Bill’s specialty, and he can, I’m sure, talk about how dangerous that metadata is.
White House Refuses To Obey Judge's Order To Halt Indefinite Detention Law
posted by Keito
Revealed: TrapWire spy cams' ticket to Australia
posted by Keito
2012-08-13 15:53:39'A shadowy private security company with deep links to the CIA - and a parent company awarded hundreds of millions of dollars in Australian government transport contracts - is operating a pervasive global surveillance and facial recognition network on behalf of law enforcement.
Over the past few days the internet has been abuzz with revelations regarding TrapWire, an analytical system that integrates with surveillance cameras to capture photographs or video evidence of "suspicious activity".
All Australians should be concerned about the outsourcing of Australian government (or military operations) to foreign-owned, private contractors with links to spy agencies
TrapWire is owned by the multinational conglomerate, Cubic Corporation, which in 2010 signed a $370 million contract with the NSW Government to provide Sydney's electronic ticketing system for public transport, based on the London Oyster card system.
In April this year it was awarded a $65 million contract to provide services to CityRail and also runs the Brisbane "go card" system.
Fairfax is seeking comment from the government about whether there has been any consideration of bringing the TrapWire system here.
The TrapWire story began late last week, when emails from a private intelligence company, Stratfor - originally released as part of WikiLeaks's Global Intelligence Files in February - appeared online.
The emails and other documentation revealed TrapWire is installed in some of the western world's most sensitive locations - including the White House, 10 Downing Street, New Scotland Yard, the London Stock Exchange and five hundred locations in the New York subway system. Trapwire is also installed in many Las Vegas casinos.
An Australian single mother who online is an anti-surveillance state activist known as Asher Wolf is leading a campaign to expose the clandestine operation, which was created in the wake of the September 11 terrorist attacks and has been operating without public scrutiny for years.
Australia is leading the way in development of facial recognition technology and Australian government agencies have reacted enthusiastically to it.
The founder of TrapWire is 30-year Central Intelligence Agency veteran Richard Hollis Helms. Several of TrapWire's top managers are also former CIA officers. It is part of security company Abraxas Corporation, which reportedly holds sensitive and lucrative contracts involving activities such as creating fake identities for CIA officers.
In December 2010 Cubic Corporation bought Abraxas for $US124 million.
The aim of TrapWire is to prevent terrorist attacks by recognising suspicious patterns in activity. It forwards its reports to police departments across the US and law enforcement organisations such as FBI and US Department of Homeland Security.
Helms said in a 2005 interview that TrapWire "can collect information about people and vehicles that is more accurate than facial recognition, draw patterns, and do threat assessments of areas that may be under observation from terrorists."
In 2007 the company said that it analyses each aspect of a security incident and "compares it to all previously-collected reporting across the entire TrapWire network. Any patterns detected - links among individuals, vehicles, or activities - will be reported back to each affected facility."
In addition to analysing surveillance footage TrapWire also operates "see something say something" citizen reporting campaigns in Las Vegas, New York, Washington DC and Los Angeles and all reports received are collated in the TrapWire database, analysed by the company and forwarded to law enforcement.
While it appears that TrapWire does not operate in Australia, its parent company Cubic holds several large Commonwealth, NSW and Queensland government contracts. It operates in Australia as Cubic Transportation with offices in Sydney, Brisbane and Perth. In 2008 it also opened a defence subsidiary based in Queensland, Cubic Defence Australia, run by Mark Horn.
Cubic Defence Australia has won about $32 million in contracts with the Australian defence force, mainly providing combat simulation and training systems.
Comment is being sought from Cubic about the links between their work in Australia and TrapWire.
Ms Wolf, 32, whose father survived a Siberian gulag during World War II and grandmother at 15 had her thumb cut off by Soviet Union secret police, said she had personal motivations behind her campaigning for civil liberties.
"All Australians should be concerned about the outsourcing of Australian government (or military operations) to foreign-owned, private contractors with links to spy agencies," she said.
She said there were inherent conflicts of interest with profit-driven private contractors working in national security. Ms Wolf is also concerned about Australian law enforcement demands for telco data retention and a lack of adequate time for public consultations during the inquiry into national security legislation reforms.
"They're drowning in data and I don't believe it's helping national security, I believe it's making us more insecure because we don't know where to look at real threats," she said.
Ms Wolf, who has a three-year-old son, said "it was definitely more interesting to be scrolling through tweets on info-warfare than watching 3am infomercials while breastfeeding".
The online hacking collective Anonymous has also bought into the issue. They are trying to organise an event called "smash a cam Saturday", where they provide the internet addresses of US security cameras attached to the TrapWire network, and then provide instructions to supporters about how to hack them.
According to Cubic's 2011 annual report, its revenues in Australia have ballooned to $115 million in 2011, up from $39.9 million in 2009.
"The primary reasons for the increase in gross margins from services in 2011 were the improvement in margin and increase in service revenue related to our transportation business in the U.K and Australia as well as the gross margin from 2011 Abraxas sales since the acquisition in December 2010," the annual report reads.
A search on Cubic's websites reveals no information about Abraxas or TrapWire. The page on TrapWire's website outlining its executives and their links to the CIA has recently been removed.
On its website TrapWire says it was founded in 2004 to build and deploy counter-terrorism technologies "in the wake of the September 11th terrorist attacks". It seeks to prevent such attacks from occurring in the future and boasts on its website that its technology can "detect patterns of behavior indicative of pre-operational planning".
US authorities were criticised after the al Qaeda attacks of 2001 over failings in information sharing, and part of TrapWire's appeals appears to be that it is designed to make it easier to share information across a global surveillance network. Despite the pervasiveness of its monitoring, it states one of its advantages is that it does not share "sensitive of personally identifiable information".
The internal TrapWire emails were obtained by hackers when they broke into Stratfor Global Intelligence, which had a partnership deal with TrapWire which saw Stratfor earning an eight per cent finder's fee for any clients it referred to the Cubic company.
Separately, a Microsoft-powered police surveillance system is being installed in New York City that connects thousands of New York Police Department and private security cameras in the city, recording and archiving up to 30 days worth of footage at a time. Police can backtrack through the footage when investigating crimes. Microsoft plans to offer it up to other cities around the world.'
US Attorneys Refuse to Assure Judge That They Are Not Already Detaining Citizens Under NDAA
posted by Keito
2012-08-12 11:46:03'The US government seems determined to have the power to do away with due process and Americans’ right to a trial.
I am one of the lead plaintiffs in the civil lawsuit against the National Defense Authorization Act, which gives the President the power to hold any US citizen anywhere for as long as he wants, without charge or trial. In May, following a March hearing, Judge Katherine Forrest issued an injunction against it; this week, in a final hearing in New York City, US government lawyers essentially asserted even more extreme powers – the power to entirely disregard the Judge and the law. Indeed, on Monday, August 6, Obama’s lawyers filed an appeal to the injunction – a profoundly important development that as of this writing has been scarcely reported.
In the March hearing, the US lawyers had confirmed that yes, the NDAA does give the President the power to lock up people like journalist Chris Hedges and peaceful activists like myself and other plaintiffs. Government attorneys have stated on record that even war correspondents could be locked up indefinitely under the NDAA. Judge Katherine Forrest had ruled for a temporary injunction against an unconstitutional provision in this law – after government attorneys refused to provide assurances to the court that plaintiffs and others would not be indefinitely detained for engaging in first amendment activities. Twice the government has refused to define what it means to be an “associated force”, and it claimed the right to refrain from offering any clear definition of this term, or clear boundaries of power under this law. This past week’s hearing was even more terrifying: incredibly, in this hearing, Obama’s attorneys refused to assure the court, when questioned, that the NDAA’s provision – one that permits reporters and others who have not committed crimes to be detained without trial -- has not been applied by the US government anywhere in the world -- AFTER Judge Forrest’s injunction. In other words, they were saying to a US judge that they could not or would not state whether Obama’s government had complied with the legal injunction that she had lain down before them.
To this, Judge Forrest responded that if the provision has indeed been applied, the United States government itself will be in contempt of court. Government attorneys also, in this hearing, again presented no evidence to support their position -- and brought forth no witnesses.
I have mixed feelings about suing my government, and in particular, my president, over the National Defense Authorization Act. I voted for Obama. I even had an Obama dance; and I could not stop crying for joy and pride the night he was elected. I defended him for over two years.
But no longer. The US public often ignores his actual failings, and more importantly, entirely ignores how, when it comes to the “war on terror”, the US government as a whole has been deceitful, reckless, even murderous. We lost nearly 3000 people on 9/11. Then we allowed the Bush administration to lie and force us into war with a country that had nothing to do with that terrible day: we killed between several hundred thousand and one million Iraqi citizens, caused vast harm to our own soldiers and gutted this nation’s treasury for a war that never should have happened. Given these crimes, it is no wonder that Bush, Obama, and the US Congress appear now to be far more interested in enacting misguided, “boogieman in every corner” “war on terror” policies that distract citizens from investigating the truth about what we’ve done, and what we’ve become, since 9/11.
I, like many in this fight, am now afraid of my government. We have good reason to be. Due to the NDAA, Chris Hedges, Kai Wargalla, the other plaintiffs and I are squarely in the crosshairs of a “war on terror” that has been an excuse to undermine liberties, trample the US Constitution, destroy mechanisms of accountability and transparency, and cause irreparable harm to millions. Several of my co-plaintiffs know well the harassment and harm that they incur from having dared openly to defy the US government’s narrative: court testimony included government subpoenas of private bank records of Icelandic Parliamentarian Birgitta Jonsdottir, Wargalla’s account of having been listed as a ‘terrorist group”, and Hedges’ concern that he would be included as a “belligerent” in the NDAA’s definition of the term – because he interviews members of outlawed groups as a reporter – a concern that the US attorneys refused on the record to allay. Other advocates have had email accounts consistently hacked, and often find their electronic communications corrupted in transmission – some emails vanish altogether – a now-increasing form of pressure that supporters of state surveillance and intervention in the internet often fail to consider.
I’ve been surprised to find that most people, when I mention that I am suing my president, Leon Panetta, and six members of Congress (four Democrats and four Republicans), thank me – even before I explain what I’m suing them over! And when I do explain the fact that I and my seven co-plaintiffs are suing over a law that suspends due process, threatens first amendment rights and takes away the basic right of every citizen on this planet to not be indefinitely detained without charge or trial, their exuberance shifts, and a deeper gratitude shines through their newly somber demeanors. But this fight has taken a personal toll on many of us, including myself. This winter, as I led the campaign to amend this lawsuit and was working over 80 hours per week to get everything ready, I suddenly ended up in the emergency room, and have subsequently endured six months of a debilitating neurological illness. Thus, I have relied on an international team of volunteers, whose courage and energy has led them successfully to garner support for a lawsuit that is an attempt to restore our most fundamental of liberties.
My government seems to have lost the ability to tell – and, perhaps, even to know -- the truth about the Constitution any more. I and many others have not. We are fighting for due process and for the First Amendment; for a country we still believe in; and for a government that is still legally bound to its Constitution.
If that makes us their “enemies”, then so be it. As long as they cannot call us “belligerents”, lock us up and throw away the key – a power that, incredibly, this past week US government lawyers still asserted is their right to claim . Against such abuses, we will keep fighting.
I am no radical; I am simply a moderate Democrat, suing my out-of-control government. For the sake of people everywhere, I sincerely hope we win.
For more details go to: http://stopNDAA.org'
Is the National Defense Authorization Act Unconstitutional?
posted by Keito
2012-08-12 11:46:37'The question being argued in federal court in Lower Manhattan yesterday boiled down to this: Is a law authorizing the indefinite military detention of American citizens with only the barest recourse to civil courts constitutional?
The lawsuit against the Obama administration was filed in January by seven journalists and activists, including Chris Hedges, Noam Chomsky, Naomi Wolf, and Daniel Ellsberg. The suit challenges sections of the 2012 National Defense Authorization Act, which authorize the armed forces to detain
"A person who was a part of or substantially supported al-Qaeda, the Taliban, or associated forces that are engaged in hostilities against the United States or its coalition partners, including any person who has committed a belligerent act or has directly supported such hostilities in aid of such enemy forces."
The act would allow citizens to be detained in overseas military facilities like Guantanamo "until the end of hostilities."
The problem, the plaintiffs argue, is that this language is so vague as to possibly cover all kinds of activity protected by the First Amendment. What is "substantial support?" What are "associated forces?"
For Hedges, a journalist who has spent much of his career meeting and talking with groups and individuals considered terrorists by the U.S. government, the language was chilling.
In his complaint, Hedges argued that the law violated First Amendment protections of speech and association, constitutional guarantees for citizens' access to a civil court system, and Fifth-Amendment due process guarantees.
Judge Katherine Forrest agreed. In a 68-page May ruling, Forrest granted a preliminary injunction blocking the challenged provisions of the act.
"There is a strong public interest in protecting rights guaranteed by the First Amendment," Forrest wrote in granting the temporary injunction. "There is also a strong public interest in ensuring that due process rights guaranteed by the Fifth Amendment are protected by ensuring that ordinary citizens are able to understand the scope of conduct that could subject them to indefinite military detention."
But the temporary injunction of the law was just the first round in the case. Hedges and his fellow plaintiffs were asking the court for a permanent injunction. In a four-hour hearing yesterday, lawyers for the plaintiffs and for the government reargued their cases before Judge Forrest, who interrupted frequently with her own questions and opinions.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Benjamin Torrance repeated his argument that the law signed by Obama on New Year's Eve doesn't actually do anything new, but rather reiterates powers already conferred by the Authorization for the Use of Military Force passed by Congress shortly after 9/11.
That argument didn't persuade Forrest, and she told him so. But it also posed further complications for the administration's case. If the challenged NDAA provisions really didn't change anything, why was the government ready to go to the mat to defend them? Perhaps more troubling, Torrance admitted that the government doesn't specify whether detainees are held under the NDAA provisions or under the Authorization for the Use of Military Force. Consequently, the government was continuing to detain people covered by the challenged provisions in spite of the court's injunction.
Carl Mayer, one of the plaintiff's attorneys, said later that he and his colleagues were considering bringing contempt of court charges over what he called an apparent disregard for the court injunction.
Torrance judge Forrest that for her court to overturn congressional legislation on national security matters would be to overstep the role of the judiciary, but Forrest wasn't so sure. She cited a passage by Alexander Hamilton inFederalist Papers Number 78, "which I'm quite enamored with:"
"Where the will of the legislature, declared in its statutes, stands in opposition to that of the people, declared in the Constitution, the judges ought to be governed by the latter rather than the former. They ought to regulate their decisions by the fundamental laws, rather than by those which are not fundamental."
Another of the administration's arguments is that the government hasn't so far used the law to detain journalists like Hedges, so fear that it might is unreasonable.
David Remes, one of the plaintiff's lawyers, said that wasn't the point. "The danger posed by the sword of Damocles is not that it falls, but that it can fall," he said.
Forrest also appeared unconvinced, noting that a national election could soon install a new administration with a new set of intentions and interpretations. She quoted Chief Justice John Roberts's ruling in a 2010 case: "The First Amendment protects against the government," Roberts wrote. "It does not leave us at the mercy of noblesse oblige. We would not uphold an unconstitutional statute merely because the government promised to use it reasonably."
Torrance said the law still allows room for judicial oversight, because people detained under the act can file habeas corpus petitions.
"How long does a petition take?" Forrest asked.
Torrance said he didn't have the numbers in front of him.
"Several years, right?" Forrest prompted.
Torrance allowed that might be true, but noted that in most habeas petitions in the post-9/11 era, courts have found the detention legitimate.
Forrest closed the hearing with a promise that she had not yet made her mind up, Hedges and his lawyers said her earlier ruling on the temporary injunction and her close questioning of Torrance gave them cause for optimism.
Perhaps sensing which way the wind is blowing with Judge Forrest, the Obama administration has already filed an appeal in higher court.'