Here, There and Everywhere

Posts tagged ‘terrorism’

Fighting For Education

From Malala Yousafzai
London, UK

On 15 June fourteen girls were murdered in Pakistan simply because they wanted an education. Many people know my story but there are stories every day of children fighting for an education. The basic right to education is under attack around the world.

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We need change now and I need your help to achieve it.

You can help me and girls and boys across the world. We are asking the United Nations General Assembly to fund new teachers, schools, books and recommit to getting every girl and boy in school by December 2015.

This July 12th is my 16th birthday and I am personally delivering this petition to the United Nations Secretary General Bank Ki Moon.

I became a victim of terrorism after I spoke out in favour of education of girls. These innocent girls killed in Pakistan have nothing to do with politics and only wanted to empower themselves through education.

If we want to bring change, if we want progress, if we want development, if we want the education of girls, we should be united. We should not wait. We should do it now.

Sign Malala’s petition HERE

UnAmerican Detention At Guantanamo

President Obama: Close Detention Facility at Guantanamo Bay
by Morris D. at Change.org
Gainesville, Virginia

I served 25 years in the US Air Force, I was the Chief Prosecutor for the Terrorism Trials at Guantanamo Bay for more than two years, and now I need your help.

I personally charged Osama Bin Laden’s driver Salim Hamdan, Australian anathema David Hicks, and Canadian teen Omar Khadr. All three were convicted … and then they were released from Guantanamo. More than 160 men who have never been charged with any offense, much less convicted of a war crime, remain at Guantanamo with no end in sight. There is something fundamentally wrong with a system where not being charged with a war crime keeps you locked away indefinitely and a war crime conviction is your ticket home.

As of April 29, 2013 – 100 of the 166 men who remain in Guantanamo are engaged in a hunger strike in protest of their indefinite detention. Twenty-one of them are being force-fed and five are hospitalized. Some of the men have been in prison for more than eleven years without charge or trial. The United States has cleared a majority of the detainees for transfer out of Guantanamo, yet they remain in custody year after year because of their citizenship and ongoing political gamesmanship in the U.S.

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That is why I am calling on Secretary of Defense Charles Hagel to use his authority to effect cleared transfers from Guantanamo and on President Obama to appoint an individual within the Administration to lead the effort to close Guantanamo. Obama announced on April 30 that he plans to do his part to close Guantanamo, but he has made this promise before. Now is the time to hold him to his promise and urge him to take the steps necessary to dismantle Guantanamo Bay Prison.

If any other country were treating prisoners the way we are treating those in Guantanamo we would roundly and rightly criticize that country. We can never retake the legal and moral high ground when we claim the right to do unto others that which we would vehemently condemn if done to one of us.

It is probably no surprise that human rights and activist groups like the Center For Constitutional Rights, Witness Against Torture and Amnesty International have been outspoken critics of Guantanamo. It may surprise you that a former military prosecutor and many other retired senior military officers and members of the intelligence community agree with them.

The Patriotic thing, the American thing, the Human thing to do here is to Close Guantanamo. Please join us in the fight by signing this petition.

NDAA Trashes US Constitution

From Nation of Change and Truthdig
by Chris Hedges
3 April 2012

Someone You Love: Coming to a Gulag Near You

The security and surveillance state does not deal in nuance or ambiguity. Its millions of agents, intelligence gatherers, spies, clandestine operatives, analysts and armed paramilitary units live in a binary world of opposites, of good and evil, black and white, opponent and ally. There is nothing between. You are for us or against us. You are a patriot or an enemy of freedom. You either embrace the crusade to physically eradicate evildoers from the face of the Earth or you are an Islamic terrorist, a collaborator or an unwitting tool of terrorists. And now that we have created this monster it will be difficult, perhaps impossible, to free ourselves from it. Our 16 national intelligence agencies and army of private contractors feed on paranoia, rumor, rampant careerism, demonization of critical free speech and often invented narratives. They justify their existence, and their consuming of vast governmental resources, by turning even the banal and the mundane into a potential threat. And by the time they finish, the nation will be a gulag.

This is why the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which was contested by me and three other plaintiffs before Judge Katherine B. Forrest in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York on Thursday, is so dangerous. This act, signed into law by President Barack Obama last Dec. 31, puts into the hands of people with no discernible understanding of legitimate dissent the power to use the military to deny due process to all deemed to be terrorists, or terrorist sympathizers, and hold them indefinitely in military detention. The deliberate obtuseness of the NDAA’s language, which defines “covered persons” as those who “substantially supported” al-Qaida, the Taliban or “associated forces,” makes all Americans, in the eyes of our expanding homeland security apparatus, potential terrorists. It does not differentiate. And the testimony of my fellow plaintiffs, who understand that the NDAA is not about them but about us, repeatedly illustrated this.

Alexa O’Brien, a content strategist and information architect who co-founded the U.S. Day of Rage, an organization created to reform the election process and wrest it back from corporate hands, was the first plaintiff to address the court. She testified that when WikiLeaks released 5 million emails from Stratfor, a private security firm that does work for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, the Marine Corps and the Defense Intelligence Agency, she discovered that the company was attempting to link her and her organization to Islamic radicals and websites as well as jihadist ideology.

Last August there was an email exchange between Fred Burton, Stratfor’s vice president for counterterrorism and corporate security and a former deputy director of the counterterrorism division of the State Department’s Diplomatic Security Service, and Thomas Kopecky, director of operations at Investigative Research Consultants Inc. and Fortis Protective Services LLC. In that exchange, leaked Feb. 27 by WikiLeaks, Kopecky wrote: “I was looking into that U.S. Day of Rage movement and specifically asked to connect it to any Saudi or other fundamentalist Islamic movements. Thus far, I have only hear[d] rumors but not gotten any substantial connection. Do you guys know much about this other than its US Domestic fiscal ideals?”?

Burton replied: “No, we’re not aware of any concrete connections between fundamentalist Islamist movements and the Day of Rage, or the October 2011 movement at this point.”

But that changed quickly. Stratfor, through others working in conjunction with the FBI, soon linked U.S. Day of Rage to al-Qaida and other terrorist groups.

In early September, U.S. Day of Rage, which supported the Sept. 17 call to occupy Wall Street, received Twitter messages that falsely accused it of being affiliated with terrorist groups. The messages came from a privately owned security and intelligence contractor, Provide Security, managed by Thomas Ryan, who works for U.S. military and government agencies, and Dr. Kevin Schatzle, a former FBI, Secret Service and New York City Police Department counterterrorism agent who is on the advisory board of a private intelligence firm that sells technology to profile and interrogate terrorism suspects. On Sept. 1 U.S. Day of Rage received three private, direct Twitter messages that read:

“Now you are really in over your head with this. Muslims from an Afghanistan Jihad site have jumped in. …”

“You seem peaceful, but Anonymous will tarnish that reputation and FAST! They plan to hack NYPD and Banks for OccupyWallStreet with RefRef.”

“Just a heads up. I watched your training videos, but do you realize the Anonymous relationship/infiltration will cause you MANY problems.”

On Oct. 14, 2011, Provide Security’s Ryan published an article—“The Email Archive of OccupyWallStreet Movement,” on the Andrew Breitbart Presents Big Government website page—that tied U.S. Day of Rage to al-Qaida and other terrorist groups. Ryan said in the article that he had “recruited other people to help U.S. begin the collection of data” from social media sites that included U.S. Day of Rage. The article goes on:

On August 10, 2011, the hacker group, “Anonymous” announced that it would join the Occupy Wall Street demonstrations. That’s what sparked my interest in monitoring OccupyWallStreet.

I reached out to a colleague and asked if he would be interested in studying the protest with me. At first, it seemed disorganized, and we believed it would only be a few hundred protestors.

As we engaged in monitoring its growth, we recruited other people to help us begin the collection of data available via social media. We began mapping out key players, and monitored Anonymous’s efforts to organize protests in the San Francisco Bay area public transportation system (BART) in order to detect patterns of key influences.

Then, at the end of August, we were alerted by a fellow researcher that information about USDoR (U.S. Day of Rage, to which Occupy Wall Street is connected) had been posted on Shamuk and Al-Jihad, two Al-Qaeda recruitment sites. We began to take the “Occupy” protest more seriously, and dedicated more time to researching and monitoring.

Days later, Anonymous announced that it would be releasing its new DDOS (Distributed Denial of Service) tool. Because of the Al-Qaeda posting, we contacted the New York Field Office of the FBI so they could investigate the potential threat. From that point on, we decided we needed to include the Human Element of Intelligence (HUMINT), and to infiltrate the protestors to map their ties to Anonymous, and to the postings on Shamuk and Al-Jahad.

Though all this sounds like the delusions of the mentally imbalanced, or perhaps mentally impaired, it was enough to trigger a response within the twisted minds of those who work from the shadows of our security and surveillance state. O’Brien, who was working at the time as a digital media architect for a publicly traded energy efficiency firm, was told by the company’s director of federal programs, a former interrogator and foreign language specialist with the Massachusetts Army National Guard, that he had been asked about her by U.S. government agents numerous times. She was pulled off several projects and then pushed out of her job.

Now the engine of conspiracy, which feeds the machine, was in full gear. On Jan. 11, Australian Security Magazine published an article titled “Radical Islam: Global influence in domestic affairs” that directly tied U.S. Day of Rage to radical Islamic groups. It read, in part:

More recently we found the same types of activity by radical Islamists during the planning of the U.S. Day of Rage that was scheduled for September 17th 2011. While it certainly did not take root and there were none of the violent clashes that took place during the UK riots, none the less the same types of people were there seeking to influence proceedings. Those aiming to influence the U.S. Day of Rage followed a similar pattern as the group and individuals we found trying to influence groups for CHOGM [Commonwealth Heads of Government]. Most were looking to promote violent confrontation, while some were spreading low level jihadist propaganda.

One of the plaintiffs in our lawsuit, Birgitta Jónsdóttir, an Icelandic parliamentarian who has advocated transparency laws that would clear the way for WikiLeaks to operate in Iceland and helped produce a video about the 2007 Baghdad airstrike that killed two journalists and nine other civilians, did not appear in court. Author Naomi Wolf, who, along with Cornel West, has offered to join me, Noam Chomsky, Daniel Ellsberg, the Icelander and three others as plaintiffs, read Jónsdóttir’s affidavit to the court.

In January 2011 Jónsdóttir, although she is not a U.S. citizen, was served by the United States Department of Justice with a subpoena demanding information “about all [her] tweets and more since November 1st 2009.” The demanded information, which she has refused to provide, includes all mailing addresses and billing information, all connection records and session times, all IP addresses used to access Twitter, and all known email accounts, as well as the “means and source of payment,” including banking records and credit cards. The Justice Department subpoenaed records for the period from Nov. 1, 2009, to the present. The foreign minister of Iceland advised Jónsdóttir not to travel to the United States for the court hearing on Thursday, fearing she might be detained, especially after the Justice Department refused to issue a statement in writing stating that she would not be held if she appeared on American soil.

Perhaps the most chilling exchange on Thursday took place between government lawyers and Judge Forrest. The judge, who will probably rule in May, repeatedly asked for assurance that the plaintiffs would not be subject to detention under the NDAA. It was an assurance the two government lawyers refused to give. She asked U.S. Assistant Attorney Benjamin Torrance whether the government would see a book containing the sentence “I support the political goals of the Taliban” as providing “material support” for “associated forces.”

Torrance did not rule out such an interpretation.

“You are unable to say that [such a book] consisting of political speech could not be captured under [NDAA section] 1021?” the judge asked.

“We can’t say that,” Torrance answered.

“Are you telling me that no U.S. citizen can be detained under 1021?” Forest asked.

“That’s not a reasonable fear,” the government lawyer said.

“Say it’s reasonable to fear you will be unlucky [and face] detention, trial. What does ‘directly supported’ mean?” she asked.

“We have not said anything about that …” Torrance answered.

“What do you think it means?” the judge asked. “Give me an example that distinguishes between direct and indirect support. Give me a single example.”?

“We have not come to a position on that,” he said.

“So assume you are a U.S. citizen trying not to run afoul of this law. What does it [the phrase] mean to you?” the judge said.

“I couldn’t offer any specific language,” Torrance answered. “I don’t have a specific example.”

There are now 1,271 government agencies and 1,931 private companies that work on programs related to counterterrorism, homeland security and intelligence in about 10,000 locations across the United States, The Washington Post reported in a 2010 series by Dana Priest and William M. Arken. There are 854,000 people with top-secret security clearances, the reporters wrote, and in Washington, D.C., and the surrounding area 33 building complexes for top-secret intelligence work are under construction or have been built since September 2011. Investigative reporter James Bamford wrote in the latest issue of Wired magazine that the National Security Agency is building the largest spy center in the country in Bluffdale, Utah, as part of a secret NSA surveillance program code-named “Stellar Wind.” Bamford noted that the NSA has established listening posts throughout the country to collect, store and examine billions of email messages and phone calls.

Read entire article at Nation of Change.

End Indefinite Detention

Dear Gabriel,

Osama bid Laden may be dead, but the War on Terror is still being used as an excuse to sacrifice our values and our rights.

On New Year’s Eve, President Obama signed a bill into law that gives him and future presidents the power to use the U.S. military to pick up and indefinitely detain civilians accused of supporting terrorism — including American citizens — anywhere in the world without charges and without a trial.

This represents a further entrenchment of the Guantanamo mindset that jettisons our most cherished values and our constitutional rights all in the name of national security.

Tell President Obama and Congress: Close Guantanamo and end indefinite detention. Click here to automatically sign the petition.

The president and all members of Congress need to see that Americans are outraged by the support in all three branches of government for this outrageous attack on our constitutional rights.

Even if your representative or your senators voted against the bill that allows indefinite detention, they need to hear from you.1

What’s more, they need to see a groundswell of support behind a renewed effort to shut down the shameful American gulag at Guantanamo.

Guantanamo is a black mark on our national conscience that started under George W. Bush in the wake of 9-11. But it has only continued, despite promises to the contrary, under President Obama.

Tomorrow marks the tenth anniversary of the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. It’s long past time we shut it down.

Tell President Obama and Congress: Close Guantanamo and end indefinite detention. Click here to automatically sign the petition.

Indefinite detention without charges or trial is fundamentally contrary to the democratic values that our system of government rests upon.

For that reason alone, President Obama could have and should have vetoed legislation that prevented the closure of Guantanamo and allowed for the indefinite military detention of American citizens.

But Congress also must shoulder much of the blame.

There is a disturbing degree of elite consensus that the War on Terror justifies rolling back our civil liberties and our obligations under the Geneva Conventions.

While there are many elected officials who to their credit have spoken out against this, the recent defense bill that allows for the indefinite military detention of Americans passed with large, bi-partisan majorities in both chambers of Congress.

The worst thing we can do in the face of this is remain silent.

We need to speak up and make sure that our elected officials know we are watching, and we must demand that they live up to the best of our nation’s values.

Tell President Obama and Congress: Close Guantanamo and end indefinite detention. Click below to automatically sign the petition:

http://act.credoaction.com/r/?r=366370&id=33280-266627-ENbk89x&t=10

Thank you for speaking out.

Matt Lockshin, Campaign Manager
CREDO Action from Working Assets

Threat of Indefinite Detention

From Nation of Change
by Jane Olzen
5 January 2012

Speak Out: The Rising Threat of Indefinite Detention

The irony of it all is way more telling than the State of the Union address that we will hear in a few weeks. A constitutional lawyer who was freely elected president signs into law an act that betrays the very principles that the nation he represents was founded on. While the more cautious of us might shy away from the word fascism to describe a nation’s military having the right to detain citizens without trial, it is certainly not hyperbole. There has already been an onslaught of criticism regarding the controversial National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that Congress legislated and President Obama signed into law on January 1, 2012.

Historically, the NDAA was a spending bill that set the annual budget for the US military. Recently, the guaranteed passage of the NDAA has been used by legislators—in spite of vehement rhetorical opposition by progressive and GOP legislators, the bill still passed, unsurprisingly, with overwhelming support (86-13 with one abstaining in the Senate; 322-96 with eleven abstaining in the House)—to craft the policies and politics of the war on terror.

The same day President Obama signed the NDAA, activists with Witness Against Torture (WAT) began preparing for a January 3, 2012 trial to defend themselves against charges stemming from a June 2011 protest when they interrupted House of Representative deliberations on a Defense Appropriations Bill—a precursor to the final NDAA.

The reason for WAT’s protest was not the provision that allows the president to indefinitely detain anyone, anywhere, which was not included in the early drafts of the 2012 military spending bill. Rather WAT was protesting the provisions in the bill—which did make it into the NDAA—that establish the prison in Guantanamo Bay as a permanent fixture in U.S. foreign policy and seriously question America’s commitment to human and civil rights. Journalist Andy Worthington describes the provisions that make it near impossible to transfer detainees for trial in civilian courts or release them to foreign countries.

The uproar regarding the NDAA’s potential treatment of U.S. citizens as “enemy combatants,” without rights to counsel or trial, in the war on terror is simply the realization of a misguided, immoral, and ineffective domestic and foreign response to terrorism. The chickens are coming home to roost. The American legacy of the 2000s is one of torture, illegal domestic spying, the flouting of international law, and unconscionable detention practices. Meanwhile, nonviolent alternatives for effectively dealing with terrorists—such as a long-stalled potential rehabilitation center for Guantanamo detainees or peer-group centers that challenge and shift the narratives of Islamist terrorism (such as Abdul Haqq Baker and the STREET center that WNV favorite Tina Rosenberg has reported on)—are not given much official consideration.

Read entire article at Nation of Change.

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