A little more than 180 days since I first noted Obama's first full day as a tyrant, his hypocrisy seems to know no bounds. This is
a man leading a presidential administration which blocked even any civil redress in court for a Canadian man intentionally sent by
U.S. agents acting under orders of the Bush administration to Syria to be tortured by cooperative Syrian government personnel
for the purpose of facilitating interrogation by U.S. government intelligence agents. Today Obama issued an edict against repressive Syrian and Iranian authorities that seem to emulate similar U.S. official activities against U.S. citizens, but not yet as openly, aggressive, or lethal. In the U.S. the failure to recognize and to push back against the repressive preparations and potential of the newly tyrannical executive is obscuring an in depth comparison.
I expect enough Americans will keep their blinders in place long enough into the future to make the shelling of residential neirghborhoods in this country by security forces unnecessary. Tyranny will grow in the U.S. while resistance to it suffers death by a thousand cuts. Even I will probably be surprised by the sustained enthusiasm of so many who are boosters of the new authority!
23 April 2012
Obama Bans Electronic Aid to Iran and Syria -- Executive Order 13606
- - - - - - -
BLOCKING THE PROPERTY AND SUSPENDING ENTRY INTO THE
UNITED STATES OF CERTAIN PERSONS WITH RESPECT TO GRAVE
HUMAN RIGHTS ABUSES BY THE GOVERNMENTS OF IRAN AND SYRIA
VIA INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY
By the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, including the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (50 U.S.C. 1701 et seq.) (IEEPA), the National Emergencies Act (50 U.S.C. 1601 et seq.), section 212(f) of the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952, as amended (8 U.S.C. 1182(f)), and section 301 of title 3, United States Code,
I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, hereby determine that the commission of serious human rights abuses against the people of Iran and Syria by their governments, facilitated by computer and network disruption, monitoring, and tracking by those governments, and abetted by entities in Iran and Syria that are complicit in their governments’ malign use of technology for those purposes, threaten the national security and foreign policy of the United States. The Governments of Iran and Syria are endeavoring to rapidly upgrade their technological ability to conduct such activities. Cognizant of the vital importance of providing technology that enables the Iranian and Syrian people to freely communicate with each other and the outside world, as well as the preservation, to the extent possible, of global telecommunications supply chains for essential products and services to enable the free flow of information, the measures in this order are designed primarily to address the need to prevent entities located in whole or in part in Iran and Syria from facilitating or committing serious human rights abuses. In order to take additional steps with respect to the national emergencies declared in Executive Order 12957 of March 15, 1995, as relied upon for additional steps in subsequent Executive Orders, and in Executive Order 13338 of May 11, 2004, as modified in scope and relied upon for additional steps in subsequent Executive Orders, and to address the situation described above, I hereby order:
(a) All property and interests in property that are in the United States, that hereafter come within the United States, or that are or hereafter come within the possession or control of any United States person, including any foreign branch, of the following persons are blocked and may not be transferred, paid, exported, withdrawn, or otherwise dealt in: (i) the persons listed in the Annex to this order; and
(ii) any person determined by the Secretary of the Treasury, in consultation with or at the recommendation of the Secretary of State:
(A) to have operated, or to have directed the operation of, information and communications technology that facilitates computer or network disruption, monitoring, or tracking that could assist in or enable serious human rights abuses by or on behalf of the Government of Iran or the Government of Syria;
( to have sold, leased, or otherwise provided, directly or indirectly, goods, services, or technology to Iran or Syria likely to be used to facilitate computer or network disruption, monitoring, or tracking that could assist in or enable serious human rights abuses by or on behalf of the Government of Iran or the Government of Syria;........
Monday, Apr 23, 2012 09:53 AM EDT
The Supreme Court is asked to decide if governnment officials can be held accountable for torturing a US citizen
By Glenn Greenwald
Two of the most under-discussed afflictions in American political life are inter-related: (1) the heinous, inhumane treatment of prisoners on American soil (often, though certainly not exclusively, Muslim political prisoners), and (2) the virtually complete abdication by subservient federal courts in the post-9/11 era of their duty to hold Executive Branch officials accountable for unconstitutional and otherwise illegal acts in the War on Terror context. Those two disgraceful American trends are vividly illustrated by juxtaposing two events, which I happened to be reminded of yesterday while looking for something else; first, from a January, 27, 2007, article in The Washington Post:
And then this Christian Science Monitor article from June 14, 2010:
The prime minister of Canada apologized Friday to Maher Arar and agreed to give $9 million in compensation to the Canadian Arab, who was spirited by U.S. agents to Syria and tortured there after being falsely named as a terrorism suspect.
Arar, 36, a former computer engineer who was detained while changing planes at a New York airport in 2002 and imprisoned in a Syrian dungeon for 10 months, said after the announcement that he “feels proud as a Canadian”. . . .
“We cannot go back and fix the injustice that occurred to Mr. Arar,” Prime Minister Stephen Harper said in issuing the formal apology in Ottawa. “However, we can make changes to lessen the likelihood that something like this will ever happen again.” The head of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police resigned over the affair, and the government has pledged to increase oversight of its intelligence agencies. . . .
The financial compensation settles a claim Arar made against the government for having provided exaggerated and false information to the United States that identified him as a terrorist suspect. Harper said the amount “is within this government’s realistic assessment of what Mr. Arar would have won in a lawsuit.” His attorneys also were awarded about $870,000 in legal fees.
“The evidence is clear that Mr. Arar has been treated unjustly. He should not be on a watch list,” Harper said.
The reason that’s so striking even several years later is it shows just how corruptly deferential American federal courts are to the Executive Branch when it comes to Muslims. One of the most amazing statistics of the last decade: not a single War on Terror victim — not one, whether foreign or American — has been permitted to proceed in an American court in an effort to obtain compensation for illegal treatment by the U.S. Government; instead, American courts have unanimously dismissed those cases at the outset, without reaching their substance. Even when everyone knows and admits that the U.S. Government abducted a totally innocent person and shipped him off to Syria to be tortured, as is true for Arar, American federal judges shut the courthouse door in his face, accepting the claims of the Bush and Obama DOJs that to allow the victim to obtain justice for what was done to him would be to risk the disclosure of vital “state secrets.” They accepted this Kafkaesque secrecy claim even after the Government of Canada published to the world a comprehensive report detailing what happened to Arar......
A Canadian citizen has lost his bid to hold US officials accountable for their decision to label him an Al Qaeda suspect and deport him to Syria where he was held without charge for a year and allegedly tortured during US-directed interrogations.
The US Supreme Court on Monday declined to take up the case of Maher Arar, who was born in Syria but had lived in Canada since his teens. . . .
Arar filed a lawsuit in the US seeking to hold American officials accountable for their actions. . . . To date, the US government position on Arar has been to insist that Arar has no legal right to seek to hold American officials accountable for his ordeal.
In denying review of Arar’s case, the high court lets stand a 7 to 4 ruling by the full Second US Circuit Court of Appeals in New York. That court found that because of “special factors” involving national security, Arar’s lawsuit should be dismissed.
In terms of gross travesties, it’s difficult to top the federal court treatment of Maher Arar. But the judicial treatment of U.S. citizen Jose Padilla comes close. Padilla was detained in 2002 and publicly accused by Attorney General John Ashcroft of being a “Dirty Bomber.” But rather than accuse him of any crimes in a court, the Bush administration declared him to be an “enemy combatant,” put him in a military brig in South Carolina for the next two-and-a-half years without charges, prevented him from any contact with the outside world (including even a lawyer), and subjected him to severe torture. When they finally indicted him almost three years later — only in order to prevent the U.S. Supreme Court from ruling on whether the President is permitted to imprison U.S. citizens on American soil without charges — they did not charge him with anything having to do with a “dirty bomb,” but instead filed glaringly trumped-up charges based almost entirely on a membership application he filled out to join Al Qaeda (he was not charged with any plots to engage in violence). He was convicted and sentenced to 17 years in prison on top of the 5 years he was already encaged, only to have the Obama DOJ successfully appeal and convince an appellate court that the sentence was too lenient.
For the last several years, Padilla, represented by the ACLU, has been attempting to hold accountable six Bush officials responsible for his torture by suing them for violations of his Constitutional rights. But, needless to say, the Obama DOJ — led by the President who, when he announced his candidacy, proclaimed that “the era of Scooter Libby justice will be over” — has insisted that, unless Congress explicitly decrees otherwise, these officials are immune from lawsuits even when they knowingly authorize the torture of an American citizen on U.S. soil. And federal courts — also needless to say — have thus far accepted that claim and barred Padilla from suing. Today, the ACLU filed a brief asking the U.S. Supreme Court to review these dismissals, and it’s worth highlight a couple parts of that brief. Here, for instance, is the question which the ACLU is asking the Supreme Court to answer:
In what kind of country is that even a question? Even more so, in what kind of country do courts answer that question in the negative, as two separate American courts thus far have? As the ACLU explained, it is literally difficult to imagine a more extreme expression of full-scale immunity for government officials than shielding them even when they engage in conduct this patently illegal:
When it comes to shielding grave War on Terror crimes from all accountability, most critics have focused — rightfully so — on President Obama’s decree that even Bush-era torturers should not be subjected to criminal investigation. But that’s been only one of the many ways that the Obama administration has entrenched the consummately dangerous principle that even the most notorious crimes are beyond the reach of the law when committed by high-level government officials. But none of those ignominious efforts would succeed if the U.S. federal judiciary had even a fraction of the courage and integrity which the Founders envisioned life-tenured judges would exercise.....
Lyle Denniston Reporter
Posted Mon, April 23rd, 2012 5:08 pm
Bio & Post Archive »
Padilla torture claim reaches the Court
The highest-profile U.S. citizen taken captive as a suspected terrorist — Jose Padilla — returned to the Supreme Court on Monday, in a bid to get the federal courts to review the government’s power to wage its “war on terrorism” through prolonged detention inside the U.S., under harsh conditions and without criminal charges. Joined by his mother, Estela Lebron, Padilla asked the Court to decide one issue: may federal officials be sued for damages “for the torture of an American citizen on American soil.” (A docket number has not yet been assigned to Lebron, et al., v. Rumsfeld, et al.)
The petition is a challenge to a ruling in January by the Fourth Circuit Court, declaring that the U.S. military policies of detention and interrogation cannot be challenged in a claim for damages in federal court. (A post on this blog discussing the Circuit Court ruling can be read here.) The new petition is here. .....
.....Claims of torture have not fared well in most lower courts or in the Supreme Court, and the Justices have yet to rule directly on any such claim arising out of government policies that followed the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. Those policies, begun under President George W. Bush, have been continued, with some changes, by the Obama Administration. In most such cases, the Justices have simply denied review or barred such a lawsuit either on procedural grounds or out of fear of intrusion into national security.
The Fourth Circuit, in its ruling against Padilla’s claims, said the policies the government had adopted since 9/11 carried “profound implications for national security,” but whether they were the right policies to counter terrorism is for the political branches to ponder, not the courts. It called a claim for money damages against former leaders of the Pentagon and other military officers a “blunt deterrent.”
In technical legal terms, what Padilla and his mother are seeking is a right to sue under the terms of a 41-year-old ruling that had nothing to do with terrorism policies: the Supreme Court decision in Bivens v. Six Unknown Agents. That decision said that, in some circumstances, an individual could bring a lawsuit directly under the Constitution, when no other remedy was available, for a claimed violation of individual rights. Since that case came down in 1971, however, the Court has only twice allowed such a lawsuit to go forward, and the last time it did so was in 1980. The last such ruling was in the case of Carlson v. Green.
Padilla’s petition is tied directly to both the Bivens and Carlson rulings. His claims, the filing said, “fall squarely within the heartland of Bivens and Carlson. As in Carlson, [Padilla alleges] mistreatment while in federal custody. And as in both Bivens and Carlson, the traditional circumstances for permitting Bivens relief are plainly present: petitioners seek to hold individual federal officers accountable for grave abuses of a prisoner in federal custody, and there is no adequate alternative remedy.”
The Fourth Circuit, the document added, “did not dispute that if military agents entered a civilian jail, seized a man from the civilian justice system, transported him to a military prison, and subjected him to a program of extreme interrogations, sensory deprivation, and punishment, the victim of these practices would have a cause of action under Bivens and Carlson. Rather, the court apparently believed that the victim lost that cause of action as soon as the Executive unilaterally labeled him an ‘enemy combatant.’”
But, it added, “a unilateral change in label cannot effect a change in law. A contrary rule would allow the Executive to be the architect of its own immunity, and would effectively overrule Bivens in the name of limiting its reach. Viewed properly, the Fourth Circuit’s decision was not a refusal to recognize a ‘new’ Bivens remedy, but rather an impermissible decision not to give effect to an old one.”
Padilla was held in a Navy brig in Charleston, S.C., for nearly four years, after he had been designated an “enemy combatant” on direct order of President George Bush. He had been seized at O’Hare Airport in May 2002 after returning from overseas. He was held prisoner on the theory that he was a “material witness” in the government investigation of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. But he was taken out of civilian custody on President Bush’s orders in June 2002, and taken to the South Carolina brig......
Saturday, Apr 21, 2012 08:03 AM EDT
Surveillance State evils
35 years ago, a leading liberal Senator issued a grave warning about allowing the NSA to spy domestically VIDEO
By Glenn Greenwald
“Th[e National Security Agency's] capability at any time could be turned around on the American people, and no American would have any privacy left, such is the capability to monitor everything: telephone conversations, telegrams, it doesn’t matter. There would be no place to hide. [If a dictator ever took over, the N.S.A.] could enable it to impose total tyranny, and there would be no way to fight back.“
That dramatic warning comes not from an individual who is typically held up as a symbol of anti-government paranoia. Rather, it was issued by one of the most admired and influential politicians among American liberals in the last several decades: Frank Church of Idaho, the 4-term U.S. Senator who served from 1957 to 1981. He was, among other things, one of the Senate’s earliest opponents of the Vietnam War, a former Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and the Chairman of the Committee (bearing his name) that in the mid-1970s investigated the widespread surveillance abuses committed under every President since FDR (that was the investigation that led to the enactment of FISA, the criminal law prohibiting the Executive Branch from intercepting the communications of American citizens without first obtaining a warrant from a court: the law which the Bush administration got caught violating and which, in response, was gutted by the Democratic-led Congress in 2008, with the support of then-Senator Obama; the abuses uncovered by the Church Committee also led to the enactment of further criminal prohibitions on the cooperation by America’s telecoms in any such illegal government spying, prohibitions that were waived away when the same 2008 Congress retroactively immunized America’s telecom giants from having done so).
At the time of the Church Committee, it was the FBI that conducted most domestic surveillance. Since its inception, the NSA was strictly barred from spying on American citizens or on American soil. That prohibition was centrally ingrained in the mindset of the agency. Church issued that above-quoted warning out of fear that, one day, the NSA’s massive, unparalleled surveillance capabilities would be directed inward, at the American people. Until the Church Committee’s investigation, most Americans, including its highest elected officials, knew almost nothing about the NSA (it was referred to as No Such Agency by its employees). As James Bamford wrote about Church’s reaction to his own findings about the NSA’s capabilities, “he came away stunned.” At the time, Church also said: “I don’t want to see this country ever go across the bridge. I know the capacity that is there to make tyranny total in America, and we must see to it that this agency and all agencies that possess this technology operate within the law and under proper supervision, so that we never cross over that abyss. That is the abyss from which there is no return.”
Of course, that bridge has long ago been crossed, without even much discussion, let alone controversy. In the immediate aftermath of 9/11, George Bush ordered the NSA to spy on the communications of Americans on American soil, and they’ve been doing it ever since, with increasing aggression and fewer and fewer constraints. That development is but one arm in the creation of an American Surveillance State that is, literally, ubiquitous — one that makes it close to impossible for American citizens to communicate or act without detection from the U.S. Government — a state of affairs Americans have long been taught since childhood is a hallmark of tyranny. Such are the times — in both America generally and the Democratic Party in particular — that those who now echo the warnings issued 35 years ago by Sen. Church (when surveillance was much more restrained, legally and technologically) are scorned by all Serious People as radical hysterics.
Yesterday, Democracy Now had an extraordinary program devoted to America’s Surveillance State. The show had three guests, each of whose treatment by the U.S. Government reflects how invasive, dangerous and out-of-control America’s Surveillance State has become:
William Binney: he worked at the NSA for almost 40 years, and resigned in October, 2001, in protest of the NSA’s turn to domestic spying. Binney immediately went to the House Intelligence Committee to warn them of the illegal spying the NSA was doing, and that resulted in nothing. In July, 2007 — while then-Attorney General Alberto Gonzales was testifying before the Senate about Bush’s warrantless NSA spying program — Binney’s home was invaded by a dozen FBI agents, who pointed guns at him, in an obvious effort to intimidate him out of telling the Senate the falsehoods and omissions in Gonzales’ testimony about NSA domestic spying (another NSA whistleblower, Thomas Drake, had his home searched several months later, and was subsequently prosecuted by the Obama DOJ — unsuccessfully — for his whistleblowing).
Jacob Appelbaum: an Internet security expert and hacker, he is currently at the University of Washington and engaged in some of the world’s most important work in the fight for Internet freedom. He’s a key member of the Tor Project, which is devoted to enabling people around the world to use the Internet with complete anonymity: so as to thwart government surveillance and to prevent nation-based Internet censorship. In 2010, he was also identified as a spokesman for WikiLeaks. Rolling Stone dubbed him “The Most Dangerous Man in Cyberspace,” writing: “In a sense, he’s a bizarro version of Mark Zuckerberg: If Facebook’s ambition is to ‘make the world more open and connected,’ Appelbaum has dedicated his life to fighting for anonymity and privacy. . . . ’I don’t want to live in a world where everyone is watched all the time,’ he says. ‘I want to be left alone as much as possible. I don’t want a data trail to tell a story that isn’t true’.”
For the last two years, Appelbaum has been repeatedly detained and harassed at American airports upon his return to the country, including having his laptops and cellphone seized — all without a search warrant, of course — and never returned. The U.S. Government has issued secret orders to Internet providers demanding they provide information about his email communications and social networking activities. He’s never been charged with, let alone convicted of, any crime.
Laura Poitras: she is the filmmaker about whom I wrote two weeks ago. After producing an Oscar-nominated film on the American occupation of Iraq, followed by a documentary about U.S. treatment of Islamic radicals in Yemen, she has been detained, searched, and interrogated every time she has returned to the U.S. She, too, has had her laptop and cell phone seized without a search warrant, and her reporters’ notes repeatedly copied. This harassment has intensified as she works on her latest film about America’s Surveillance State and the war on whistleblowers, which includes — among other things — interviews with NSA whistleblowers such as Binney and Drake.
So just look at what happens to people in the U.S. if they challenge government actions in any meaningful way — if they engage in any meaningful dissent. We love to tell ourselves that there are robust political freedoms and a thriving free political press in the U.S. because you’re allowed to have an MSNBC show or blog in order to proclaim every day how awesome and magnanimous the President of the United States is and how terrible his GOP political adversaries are — how brave, cutting and edgy! — or to go on Fox News and do the opposite. But people who are engaged in actual dissent, outside the tiny and narrow permissible boundaries of pom-pom waving for one of the two political parties — those who are focused on the truly significant acts which the government and its owners are doing in secret — are subjected to this type of intimidation, threats, surveillance, and climate of fear, all without a whiff of illegal conduct (as even The New York Times‘ most celebrated investigative reporter, James Risen, will tell you).
Whether a country is actually free is determined not by how well-rewarded its convention-affirming media elites are and how ignored its passive citizens are but by how it treats its dissidents, those posing authentic challenges to what the government does. The stories of the three Democracy Now guests — and so many others — provide that answer loudly and clearly.
Beyond the stories of these guests, I want to highlight two particularly significant exchanges from yesterday’s show (and I really urge you to find the time this weekend to watch the whole thing; it’s embedded below or, alternatively, can be viewed here). First is this:
That sounds like a number so large as to be fantastical, but it’s entirely consistent with what The Washington Post, in its 2010 “Top Secret America” series, reported: “Every day, collection systems at the National Security Agency intercept and store 1.7 billion e-mails, phone calls and other types of communications.” Read that sentence again and I defy anyone to deny that the U.S. has become the type of full-fledged, limitless Surveillance State about which Sen. Church warned.
JUAN GONZALEZ: And the differences in the [Bush and Obama] administrations?
WILLIAM BINNEY: Actually, I think the surveillance has increased. In fact, I would suggest that they’ve assembled on the order of 20 trillion transactions about U.S. citizens with other U.S. citizens.
AMY GOODMAN: How many?
WILLIAM BINNEY: Twenty trillion.
AMY GOODMAN: And you’re saying that this surveillance has increased? Not only the—
WILLIAM BINNEY: Yes.
AMY GOODMAN: —targeting of whistleblowers, like your colleagues, like people like Tom Drake, who are actually indicted under the Obama administration—
WILLIAM BINNEY: Right.
AMY GOODMAN: —more times—the number of people who have been indicted are more than all presidents combined in the past.
WILLIAM BINNEY: Right. And I think it’s to silence what’s going on. But the point is, the data that’s being assembled is about everybody. And from that data, then they can target anyone they want . . . That, by the way, estimate only was involving phone calls and emails. It didn’t involve any queries on the net or any assembles—other—any financial transactions or credit card stuff, if they’re assembling that. I do not know that, OK.
Note, too, how this weapon has been not just maintained, but — as Binney said — aggressively expanded under President Obama. Obama’s unprecedented war on whistleblowing has been, in large part, designed to shield from the American public any knowledge of just how invasive this Surveillance State has become. Two Obama-loyal Democratic Senators — Ron Wyden of Oregon and Mark Udall of Colorado — have spent two full years warning that the Obama administration is “interpreting” its spying powers under the Patriot Act in ways so “twisted” and broad that it would shock the American public if it learned of what was being done, and have even been accusing the DOJ and Attorney General Holder of actively misleading the public in material ways about its spying powers (unlike brave whistleblowers who have risked their own interests to bring corruption and illegality to the public’s attention — Binney, Drake, Bradley Manning, etc — Wyden and Udall have failed to tell the public about this illegal spying (even though they could do so on the Senate floor and be immune from prosecution) because they apparently fear losing their precious seat on the Intelligence Committee, but what’s the point of having a seat on the Intelligence Committee if you render yourself completely impotent even when you learn of systematic surveillance lawbreaking?).
None of this should be surprising: Obama — in direct violation of his primary campaign pledge — infamously voted for the FISA Amendments Act of 2008 that not only immunized lawbreaking telecoms, but also legalized much of the NSA domestic spying program Bush had ordered in the aftermath of 9/11. At the time, he and his acolytes insisted that Obama was doing so only so that he could win the election and then use his power to fix these spying abuses, yet another Obama-glorifying claim that has turned out to be laughable in its unreliability. The Obama administration also advocated for full-scale renewal of the Patriot Act last year, and it was Harry Reid who attacked Rand Paul for urging reforms to that law by accusing him of helping the Terrorists with his interference.
But whereas massive Surveillance State abuses were once a feigned concern of progressives, they now no longer are. Just last week, The New York Times began an editorial about the proposed massive expansion of Internet spying powers in Britain with this sentence: “The George W. Bush team must be consumed with envy” — because, of course, Barack Obama has no interest in such things...... ........
Then there’s this: Appelbaum describing the various government efforts to intrude into his private discussions and Internet activities, all without a warrant:
What Appelbaum is referring to is the fact that the Patriot Act has decreed then when the U.S. Government demands information about an individual — all without a search warrant — the party who receives the demand is criminally prohibited from discussing that demand. That’s why Appelbaum can be targeted with such intimidating, constant and chilling invasions without any allegation of wrongdoing: because the powers of the Surveillance State are exercised almost entirely in the dark. That’s what makes it so significant that two Democratic Senators have been warning for two years now that these powers are being exercised far beyond what the statute permits, far beyond what the public can even imagine, and that the Obama DOJ is lying about it.
JACOB APPELBAUM: But in the period of time since they’ve started detaining me [at airports], 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 cell phones. 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.
The domestic NSA-led Surveillance State which Frank Church so stridently warned about has obviously come to fruition. The way to avoid its grip is simply to acquiesce to the nation’s most powerful factions, to obediently remain within the permitted boundaries of political discourse and activism. Accepting that bargain enables one to maintain the delusion of freedom — “he who does not move does not notice his chains,” observed Rosa Luxemburg — but the true measure of political liberty is whether one is free to make a different choice.