“[T]he first time…this mass surveillance that’s been going on is subjected to a genuine debate, it didn’t stand up.”
by: Nadia Prupis
Renowned whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg spoke with The Guardian about the changing landscape of U.S. surveillance. (Photo: Steve Rhodes/flickr/cc)
NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden should be credited with helping change U.S. surveillance law, Daniel Ellsberg, the man who leaked the Pentagon Papers, said Monday in an interview with The Guardian.”It’s interesting to see that the first time… this mass surveillance that’s been going on is subjected to a genuine debate, it didn’t stand up,” he said.Ellsberg was charged under the Espionage Act for disclosing secret U.S. military documents related to the Vietnam War in 1971. Snowden, who leaked a trove of classified NSA documents in 2013 and has been living in political asylum in Russia for the past three years, also faces prosecution under the Espionage Act.Asked what should happen to Snowden, Ellsberg replied, “He should get the Nobel peace prize and he should get asylum in a west European country.”Although “there is much more support for him month by month as people come to realise how little substance in the charges that he caused harm to us…that does not mean the intelligence community will ever forgive him for having exposed what they were doing,” Ellsberg continued.Ellsberg is currently on a week-long European speaking tour with several other renowned U.S. whistleblowers, including Thomas Drake, who helped expose fraud and abuse in the NSA’s Trailblazer program; Coleen Rowley, who testified about the FBI’s mishandling of information related to the September 11 attacks; and Jesselyn Radack, who disclosed ethics violations committed by the FBI and currently serves as the director of National Security & Human Rights at the Government Accountability Project.Although the sunset of the Patriot Act on Sunday has forced the NSA to end its domestic phone records collection program, the agency will likely retain much of its surveillance power with the expected passage of the USA Freedom Act, a “compromise” bill which would renew modified versions of Section 215 and other provisions.The Second Circuit Court of Appeals ruled last month that the NSA’s bulk phone records collection program “exceeds the scope of what Congress has authorized” under the Patriot Act. Referring to that decision, Ellsberg said Monday that “even the USA Freedom Act, which is better than the Patriot Act, still doesn’t really reflect the full weight of the circuit court opinion that these provisions have been unconstitutional from their beginning and what the government has been doing is illegal.”Drake also spoke to The Guardian on Monday, stating, “This is the first time in almost 14 years that we stopped certain provisions… The national security mindset was unable to prevail.”The USA Freedom Act, meanwhile, “effectively codifies all the secret interpretations, a lot of the other authorities they claimed were enabled by the previous legislation, including the Patriot Act,” Drake continued.In a press briefing on Monday, White House press secretary Josh Earnest said that despite the sunset of the Patriot Act, the Obama administration would not change its view that Snowden “committed very serious crimes.”But the importance of the Senate’s rejection of the legislation cannot be discounted, said Ellsberg, and Snowden’s influence on the changing political landscape in the U.S. deserves credit.”This is the first time, thanks to Snowden, that the Senate really stood up and realized they have been complicit in the violation of our rights all along—unconstitutional action,” Ellsberg said. “The Senate and the House have been passive up until now and derelict in their responsibilities. At last there was opposition.”
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“I am disappointed you have not been the strong leader that many hoped for—and that you promised to be,” Massachusetts senator tells SEC chief
by: Deirdre Fulton
Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and SEC chairwoman Mary Jo White in 2013. (Photo: Bloomberg)
In a letter described by news outlets as “scathing” and “unusually blunt,” Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) on Tuesday slammed the country’s top Wall Street regulator for broken promises and lax regulation of the financial industry. In a 13-page letter, Warren described the two-year tenure of Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) chairwoman Mary Jo White as “extremely disappointing.”From failing to require companies to admit wrongdoing when the agency finds they violate the law to failing to implement Dodd-Frank rules on CEO pay disclosure, White has not been the “tough watchdog” the SEC needs, Warren said.Warren also criticized the ongoing use of “waivers,” which allow such companies to skirt SEC review, among financial firms that break the law, as well as White’s failure to address undisclosed campaign contributions. And the letter raises the question of whether White’s “regular recusals” for conflicts of interest have delayed enforcement activity. On these and other matters mentioned in the letter, Warren says White made reassuring promises to lawmakers during her 2013 confirmation hearing. However, Warren states, “you appear to have broken those promises.””The public relies on the SEC to act as the cop on the beat for an honest marketplace—issuing rules that ensure that investors can make informed decisions and holding rule breakers accountable for their actions,” Warren wrote. “When the SEC falls down on the job, the impact is felt throughout the economy and it touches every American family.”She continued: “I am disappointed you have not been the strong leader that many hoped for—and that you promised to be. I hope that you will step up to the job for which you have been confirmed.”Warren, who serves on the Senate Banking Committee, voted for White during the confirmation process in 2013, despite some concerns about her banking industry ties. However, the Boston Globe reports that “[r]elations between Warren and White have been steadily deteriorating — with a boiling point reached last month when Warren and White met to discuss a long-delayed rule on chief executive pay.”That rule, cited in Warren’s letter, would require public companies to disclose compensation for CEOs, the median pay for their workers, and the ratio between the two. It was supposed to be completed 21 months ago but has been postponed several times, Warren said.”I cannot understand how and why this rule has been delayed for so long,” Warren wrote, “and I am perplexed as to why you told me personally that the rule would be completed by the fall of 2015 when it appears that you were or should have been aware of additional delays.”White, for her part, issued a statement that read in part: “Senator Warren’s mischaracterization of my statements and the agency’s accomplishments is unfortunate, but it will not detract from the work we have done, and will continue to do, on behalf of investors.”This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License
WikiLeaks issues bounty for secret treaty which has been negotiated by corporate executives and government officials while the global public remains in the dark
by: Jon Queally
“The transparency clock has run out on the TPP,” said WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. “No more secrecy. No more excuses. Let’s open the TPP once and for all.” (Image: CD / CC BY 3.0)
There is now a bounty on the head of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), the “monster” international treaty negotiated behind closed doors by government officials and corporate executives but kept secret from the global public.
The media outlet Wikileaks on Tuesday announced a campaign to raise a $100,000 cash reward for the complete text of the agreement in order to end the mystery surrounding the actual contents of the deal that involves the U.S. and eleven Pacific Rim nations.”The transparency clock has run out on the TPP,” said WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. “No more secrecy. No more excuses. Let’s open the TPP once and for all.
“Despite unprecedented efforts by negotiating governments to keep it under wraps, WikiLeaks has been able to obtain and publish three leaked chapters of this super-secret global deal over the last two years. However, there are believed to be 26 other chapters of the deal to which only appointed negotiators, trade officials, and chosen representatives from big corporations have been given access.”Today, WikiLeaks is taking steps to bring about the public’s rightful access to the missing chapters of this monster trade pact,” the group said in a statement. “The TPP is the largest agreement of its kind in history: a multi-trillion dollar international treaty being negotiated in secret by the US, Japan, Mexico, Canada, Australia and 7 other countries. The treaty aims to create a new international legal regime that will allow transnational corporations to bypass domestic courts, evade environmental protections, police the internet on behalf of the content industry, limit the availability of affordable generic medicines, and drastically curtail each country’s legislative sovereignty.
“And with the U.S. House of Representatives returning to Washington, D.C. this week to pick up a bill that would give trade promotion authority, or Fast Track, to President Obama the call for someone to leak a complete version of the latest draft has new urgency.
Though lawmakers in the U.S. Congress have been able to review the text themselves, they are forbidden from revealing or discussing its contents. Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), one of the staunchest opponents of TPP and Fast Track in Congress, has said: “[They] can’t make this deal public because if the American people saw what was in it, they would be opposed to it.
“Wikileaks says the TPP is particularly noteworthy and troubling because it may act as “the icebreaker agreement” for a series of deals – what it calls the “T-treaty triad” of TPP-TISA-TTIP – that taken together would extend corporate-friendly regulations and trade rules to 53 nations, 1.6 billion people and a full two-thirds of the global economy.
As part of its campaign to raise the necessary funds for the bounty, Wikileaks produced this video to highlight the global dangers of the TPP and the other corporate-backed treaties now under secret negotiation:And there’s no time to lose. As Dave Johnson, a fellow and campaigner at the Campaign for America’s Future, warned in a blog post on Monday, it’s “all hands on deck” for those trying to stop passage of Fast Track, TPP, and the other deals in the global pipeline:Passing fast track will mean that the TPP is most likely a done deal when it comes before Congress, even though it is still secret from the public at the time they vote to fast-track it. It also means that an upcoming “trade” deal with Europe will likely go through, whenever that happens. And on top of those, it means that future “trade” deals that we don’t even know of yet will likely be approved – even if they are set up to gut our own banking regulations.The problem here is that these deals are put together using a rigged negotiating process. Our trade negotiators tend to come out of giant, multinational corporations – particularly from Wall Street – and tend to return to them. The 600 “advisors” on the TPP are dominated by corporate representatives. Not only does this set up a corporate-favoring (therefore labor-/environmentalist-hating) mindset within the agency, it also creates an understanding that participants should “play ball” and not make waves against corporate interests if they want to obtain a lucrative corporate position after leaving government. The inevitable result is agreements that rig the game in favor of the interests of the giant, multinational corporations and their investors over the interests of the rest of us – and our government.And then Congress “greases the skids” with the rigged fast track process to get these deals passed outside of the opportunity for the public to