Monday, July 29, 2013

Edward Snowden gets Whistleblower Prize:

                                                                      Edward Snowden


Edward Snowden, the American security official who leaked top-secret information on the US Government's worldwide spying activities has been awarded the 2013 Whistleblower Prize from the Federation of German Scientists and the International Association of Lawyers against Nuclear Arms (IALANA). The decision was announced in Berlin on 24 July.

                               At the Press Conference in Berlin announcing the award.

The FGS awards, together with the International Association of Lawyers Against Nuclear Arms (IALANA ) since 1999, every two years, the whistleblower prize. This year, for the first time, the award involved the anti-corruption organization Transparency International  whose representatives were present at the awards ceremony.

The winner of this year's Whistleblower award is Edward Snowden, which was announced in the Humboldt Unversity-Viadrina School of Governance, Wilhelmstrasse, Berlin,Germany.

The jury's statement:

This year's whistleblower award goes to the American Edward J. Snowden. He has made public the mass scrutinizing and retention of communications data by Western intelligence agencies, without previous suspicion. With the whistleblower prize, people are nominated who uncover serious wrongdoing in the public interest and dangerous developments for man and society, democracy, peace and the environment.

The whistleblower prize is awarded every two years since 1999 by the Federation of German Scientists and the German section of IALANA, International Association of Lawyers Against Nuclear Arms. The prize money is 3,000 euros. Among the previous winners include Rainer Moormann (2011: Risks of the pebble bed reactor), Rudolf Schmenger / Frank Wehrheim (2009: Frankfurt taxman) and Brigitte Heinisch (2007: Berlin geriatric nurse).
For the first time the anti-corruption organization Transparency International Germany participates in this year's association of the award.

The revelations of Edward J. Snowden allowed  the jury to view  the possiblility and inevitability  to clarify the facts and evidence intensively and to check on a secured basis in fact then determine whether and in what ways what was  uncovered by Snowden approaches domestic and foreign intelligence bodies applicable law being violated.

In  the Federal Republic of Germany, Article 10 of the Basic Law is, according to current knowledge, particularly injured as a fundamental right of defense of governmental intervention and government protection as well as the G10 Act (duty to comply with the conditions laid down therein concerning such intervention). Edward Snowden has taken to disclosure of the information despite having knowledge of the actual prosecution of whistleblowers in security service and the serious disadvantages for themselves personally in acting this way.
Hartmut Grassl of the Federation of German Scientists: "An open society requires moral courage and courageous people like Edward Snowden, so that grievances are identified and prevented."

Otto Jackel, Chairman of the German section of IALANA: "Who could be the most supportive in offering  the beleaguered  U.S. citizen asylum from state political persecution of his homeland,  except us, to at least offer a safe haven as Germany, which is apparently the NSA  target particularly affected, but, the EU as a whole is called to assist as Edward Snowden has with his whistleblowing  given Germany and the other EU Member States a great service. We should compete to take him not just out of principle, but out of gratitude "

Edda Müller, Chair of Transparency Germany: "We are supporting Edward Snowden knowing  that his brave actions have consequences. The international treaties that limit the sovereignty of Germany must be changed. Great Britain, as a member state of the European Union must explain very clearly in Brussels, where it stands on the issue as it is among the fundamental rights of EU citizens. In addition, we finally need in Germany adequate whistleblower protection through the legal arrangements ".

This positive step by prestigious organisations in Germany helps lessen the isolation of Mr Snowden which the US has been trying to enforce with threats and diplomatic bullying and even the criminal attempt to disrupt the flight plan of Bolivian President Morales returning home from a visit to Europe, and counters the attempts to portray him as a wanted criminal when, in fact, it is the US Government which is the world's major war criminal and abuser of human rights in the 21st Century.

Letter to Russia:
Mr Snowden is currently a fugitive, temporarily resident in the transit area of a Moscow airport awaiting decisions on his asylum applications to various countries including the Russian Federation. The US has mounted a campaign of vicious intimidation against Mr Snowden since the situation began and a raging campaign of vilification has been whipped up by the American Right at the same time. Since this has provoked outrage and condemnation in the countries revealed as having been spied on by the US security agencies, the diplomatic backlash has forced Washington to revise its stance and seem more focused on legalities and proper procedures than its first blustering reactions.
In a more conciliatory move, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder wrote a letter to the Russian Minister of Justice assuring the Russian Government that the U.S. will not seek the death penalty for National Security Agency leak source Edward Snowden if he is returned to the U.S.
Seeking to push back on assertions Snowden made in his request for temporary asylum in Russia, Holder also said in the letter that the U.S. will not torture Snowden.
"We also understand from press reports that Mr.Snowden has filed papers seeking temporary asylum in Russia on the grounds that if he were returned to the United States, he would be tortured and would face the death penalty," Holder wrote in the letter to Russian Minister of Justice Alexander Vladimirovich Konovalov. 
"These claims are entirely without merit."
Holder explained that the charges Snowden currently faces in the U.S. do not carry the possibility of being charged with the death penalty. 
In June, Snowden was charged with three felonies that each carry a maximum of 10 years in prison: Theft of government property, unauthorized communication of national defense information, and willful communication of classified communications intelligence information to an unauthorized person. (These charges were rejected by the Irish High Court recently as being devoid of evidence when the US sought an arrest warrant to be issued against Snowden if he arrived in Ireland. See post July 15 on this page).
Holder went on to say that the U.S. would not torture Snowden because, simply, it is unlawful in the U.S. (Tell that to the detainees illegally held by the U.S. Government in its torture camp in Guantanamo Bay)

Holder went on to say that the U.S. would not torture Snowden because, simply, it is unlawful in the U.S.

"We believe that these assurances eliminate these asserted grounds for Mr. Snowden's claim that he should be treated as a refugee or granted asylum, temporary or otherwise," Holder wrote.


Following intense pressure from the Obama administration and top intelligence officials, the US House of Representatives defeated an amendment that would have placed constraints on the National Security Agency’s powers to spy on the American people.

The amendment to the Department of Defense Appropriations Act would have blocked funding for the NSA to collect phone “metadata” that is not related to a specific investigation. Among the programs exposed by whistle-blower Edward Snowden is one in which the government obtains and stores the records on nearly every phone call placed in the United States. This allows the state to construct a detailed social and political profile of every individual swept up in the program.

The House voted 217-205  to reject the amendment, which was introduced by Michigan Republican Justin Amash. The vote was an opportunity for congressmen to posture as critics of the unpopular and illegal spying programs, with the votes pro and con carefully calibrated to ensure that the measure was defeated. The Obama administration intervened extremely aggressively to block the amendment in its early stages. Even if it had passed in the House, it would still have had to be passed by the Senate and signed by President Obama to become law.

As the amendment was brought forward, the White House rushed to issue a statement on Tuesday evening. “We oppose the current effort in the House to hastily dismantle one of our intelligence community’s counterterrorism tools,” White House spokesman Jay Carney said. “This blunt approach is not the product of an informed, open or deliberative process.” Carney’s statement followed an extraordinary closed door meeting convened by NSA head General Keith Alexander with members of the House of Representatives, urging them to vote against the restriction on NSA surveillance authority. House members were warned that the content of the meeting was “top secret.”

The powers targeted by the Amash amendment relate only to one in a whole series of programs aimed at gathering data on the population of the United States and the entire world. This was indicated by Democratic Senator Ron Wyden, a critic of the NSA, who said on Tuesday that the NSA is “an always expanding, omnipresent surveillance state.” Wyden referred to multiple “secret surveillance programs.” He accused the Obama administration of “actively” misleading the public about surveillance on Americans, and said that the government is “merging the ability to conduct surveillance that reveals every aspect of a person’s life with the ability to conjure up the legal authority to execute that surveillance.”

What Wyden describes is illegal and unconstitutional activity, for which administration officials and leaders of the military-intelligence apparatus should be impeached and tried in a court of law. The crimes go far beyond those of the Nixon administration. These programs, however, have been implemented with the complicity of the entire state apparatus, including Congress and the courts. Top lawmakers from both parties, including House Speaker John Boehner (Republican); Representative Mike Rogers, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee (Republican); House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (Republican); House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (Democrat); and House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (Democrat), staunchly opposed the amendment.

“Any amendments to defund the program on appropriations bills would be unwise,” Senators Dianne Feinstein (Democrat) and Saxby Chambliss (Republican), the chairwoman and vice chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said in a joint statement Tuesday, referring to the NSA’s blanket data gathering activities. Dutch Ruppersberger, representative from Maryland and the ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, celebrated the outcome of the vote, claiming that the amendment would have “eliminated a crucial counterterrorism tool.”

As usual, defenders of the surveillance program argued that it was necessary because the government was “at war with terrorism.” These statements are made even as the US prepares to more directly arm the opposition in Syria, which is dominated by Islamist forces associated with Al Qaeda. They follow, moreover, revelations that the US is spying on governments all over the world, including those of nominal allies such as Germany and France. The “war on terror” has for more than a decade served as a pretext for wars abroad and the abrogation of core democratic rights within the United States.

The real target of the surveillance is the American and international working class, a fact that is made clear by the nature of the programs. The Big Brother spying is part of the preparation of the American ruling class for mass social opposition. The Defense Appropriations Act allocates massive resources for war while paving the way for further attacks on the social conditions of the working class. The bill includes $512.5 billion for the Pentagon and an additional $85.8 billion in “Overseas Contingency Operations” war funding.

The White House has argued that the bill’s shortfall of $5.1 billion below current defence spending will force the administration to make new cuts to domestic spending, including health and education.
The world is warned by the Snowden revelations of the plans of the US Military-Industrial Complex (as did President Eisenhower as he left office in 1960) to abridge citizens' Constitutional rights, operate on the basis of permanent war and despoil the resources of the entire planet in its own greedy interests.

















Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Anti-War Granny causes Court upset:

                Margaretta D'Arcy, (79), veteran Irish Peace Campaigner outside Ennis Courthouse


An anti-war granny caused mayhem in a court room when she confronted a judge in a bright orange jump suit.

Disabled  Margaretta D’Arcy, 79, refused to stand down from a bench in front of Judge Patrick Durcan at Ennis (Co Clare) District Court - and the hearing had to be halted. Ms Darcy appeared in connection with the alleged interference of the proper use of Shannon Airport last October 7, 2012, by going on the runway without permission. Ms D'Arcy, a well known artist, is a veteran of the Irish and International Peace Movement and has been a regular attendee, health permitting, at the monthly Peace Protest at the gates of Shannon Airport, Co. Clare, in the west of Ireland near Limerick city since the protests began following the illegal invasion of Iraq in 2003. Since the invasion there has been large-scale use of the Airport by the US Military despite public opposition in Ireland, an officially neutral country.

When the case was called last Wednesday,10 July Ms Darcy, of Woodquay, Galway, approached the bench the better to hear and see the judge properly because of poor sight and hearing. She then stood on the bench below the judge's podium to hear Judge Durcan say he was going to adjourn the matter to September 11 next because her co-accused wasn’t in court.

Ms D'Arcy – who needs a zimmer frame with wheels to walk - said that she wanted the judge to dismiss the summons against her as it is inaccurate. Judge Durcan said: “That is a matter for hearing and not for today.”  The judge then asked Ms D'Arcy: "Will you please go down to ground level and stand on the ground for safety reasons. I will not have you standing on the bench.” Ms D'Arcy refused and replied: “I am going to stand here. We have to see each other as equals. It is the citizens of Ireland that own the courts. In response, Judge Durcan said: “You are going to be removed. I am going to suspend the court for two minutes.”

As the judge was walking from the bench, Ms D’Arcy called out after him: “So you don’t want a conversation with me around the word ‘proper’ and the use of the airport as a military airport. Murder, Complicity in murder. Run, run away and never hear the truth.” Ms D'Arcy then stepped down from the bench with the assistance of two Gardaí (Irish police)and she was then applauded by her supporters in court, including retired UN Assistant Secretary General, Denis Halliday, and well-known anti-war activist Dr Ed Horgan.

On returning to court, Judge Durcan said that on the adjourned date in September, he would decide if the case will be heard in the district court or the circuit court. This is an obvious dodge by the state prosecutor to avoid hearing evidence of the misuse of the civilian airport at Shannon by the US Military since the invasion of Afghanistan in 2001 with the full collaboration of Irish Governments since then despite public opposition. The local Shannonwatch organisation, who monitor US Military activities at the airport, had brought to court a wheelbarrow (literally) of documentary evidence of the violations of Irish and International law occurring there in the past 10 years.

Full court report here:




Monday, July 15, 2013

Ireland says no to US demands for Snowden arrest:

                                                     The High Courts of Justice, Dublin.


Ireland has denied the U.S. an arrest warrant for whistle blower Edward Snowden in case he lands in this country. The High Court in Dublin ruled that Washington DC security chiefs failed to show where alleged crimes had been committed by the former intelligence contractor.The US applied for a provisional arrest warrant on Friday through its Dublin embassy.

Officials made the move after former NSA employee, Mr Snowden, contacted 21 countries, including Ireland, seeking asylum. There were concerns by US Officials that the fugitive intelligence officer, who has been living in the transit section of Moscow's Sheremetyevo-2 airport, would pass through Shannon Airport en route to South America. A request for asylum in Ireland can only be considered if Snowden makes an application on arrival in the country according to Government sources but, on a previous occasion asylum was granted to hundreds of Bosnian refugees although they had not yet arrived in Ireland

Judge Colm Mac Eochaidh refused the request for an arrest warrant on the grounds that no information had been given by the US authorities about where the alleged offences took place. The ruling also stated that the decision was taken because the US failed to show where the theft of government property took place or what had been stolen.Judge Mac Eochaidh said offences may relate to theft of information and its misuse rather than to physical property but that assumptions could not be made that it took place in Hawaii.

Former NSA analyst Mr Snowden has requested asylum across the globe, in Austria, Bolivia, Brazil, China, Cuba, Finland, France, Germany, India, Italy, Ireland, the Netherlands, Nicaragua, Norway, Poland, Spain, Switzerland and Venezuela.He is wanted for allegedly leaking details of secret surveillance operations in the UK and US and has been in diplomatic limbo since his arrival in Moscow from Hong Kong on June 23.
Russian president Vladimir Putin said Mr Snowden would have to stop leaking US secrets if he wanted to get asylum there. Russia’s foreign minister has rejected American demands to extradite Edward Snowden. Sergei Lavrov said Snowden had not crossed the Russian border and insisted that Russia has nothing to do with him, his relations with US justice, or his travel plans. He angrily criticised American demands for Snowden’s extradition and warnings of negative consequences if Moscow fails to comply.

Mr Lavrov said that accusing Russia of “violation of US laws and even some sort of conspiracy” with regard to Snowden is “absolutely ungrounded and unacceptable”. He would not specify the location of Snowden, who booked a Havana-bound flight from Moscow a week ago but, did not show up on the plane.


The Irish Justice Minister Alan Shatter says there's nothing to prevent the US from making a fresh application to the Irish courts for the extradition of whistleblower Ed Snowden, should he enter the state following the refusal by the High Court to issue a provisional arrest warrant, in the event Snowden arrives in Ireland seeking political asylum.
                                                                  Shatter at a party conference
Responding to the High Court judgement, Minister Shatter said the Irish and U.S. authorities are in close contact with regard to Snowden.He said it was worth noting that the High Court refused to issue the arrest warrant "on the basis of specific information, rather than a determination as to whether an individual should or should not be extradited " Once again Shatter displays his contempt for the Irish public with a partisan propagandist claim on behalf of a foreign government. Also, he has no right commenting on a legal case before the courts in any manner whatsoever which amounts to contempt of court for which he should be called before the Justice hearing the case to account for his disgraceful remarks.
Shatter, a known pro-Zionist and apologist for Israeli war crimes in Gaza and the West Bank Palestinian Territories, including the piratical attacks on Irish ships travelling to Gaza; the illegal detention, kidnap, assault and stealing of property from Irish citizens on board shows that he is unfit to be a minister in the Irish Government and should be dismissed forthwith by An Taoiseach if the government had any respect for itself or the people it purports to govern under the Irish constitution.

Edward Snowden leaked classified US intelligence documents to the media last month. Once he was unveiled as the NSA whistleblower, he fled to Hong Kong and from there to Moscow, where he has been residing in a transit area of the city's airport for weeks. He has subsequently released intelligence claiming that the US has been monitoring secret, official EU communications. Snowden has sought political asylum in dozens of countries - several of which have refused. However, Bolivia, Venezuela and Nicaragua are enthusiastic to grant him asylum, if he can get out of Moscow - and is given uninhibited passage through international airspace.

A diplomatic incident a week ago when an aircraft carrying Bolivian President Morales was forced to break its journey and land in Vienna because of rumours that Mr Snowden was on board has provoked outrage throughout Latin America at the high-handed and lawless activities of Washington in its attempts to apprehend Mr Snowden.

Apart from the brass-necked effrontery of the US Administration in seeking the assistance of Irish courts in their vindictive campaign of intimidation against Mr Snowden while they continue to commit acts of murderous violence across the globe against the civilian populations of the several countries they are engaged in military actions in, the provocative intervention of Shatter on their behalf must be condemned and opposed vigorously by all progressive and democratic forces here.