Friday, January 23, 2015

Thursday was a crazy day

Barrett Brown was sentenced to 63 months in prison today.  Understanding the charges.  More info here and here.

Here was his statement after the sentence.
After receiving his sentence Barrett Brown released the following statement:
“Good news! — The U.S. government decided today that because I did such a good job investigating the cyber-industrial complex, they’re now going to send me to investigate the prison-industrial complex. For the next 35 months, I’ll be provided with free food, clothes, and housing as I seek to expose wrondgoing by Bureau of Prisons officials and staff and otherwise report on news and culture in the world’s greatest prison system. I want to thank the Department of Justice for having put so much time and energy into advocating on my behalf; rather than holding a grudge against me for the two years of work I put into in bringing attention to a DOJ-linked campaign to harass and discredit journalists like Glenn Greenwald, the agency instead labored tirelessly to ensure that I received this very prestigious assignment. — Wish me luck!”

Quinn Norton is quitting cybersecurity journalism because of the verdict and the threats other journalists face.

Jason Hammond, twin brother of Jeremy Hammond (Barrett Brown's case related to Jeremy Hammond's activism) was also sentenced to 3½ years (emphasis mine)
While Chicago was in rebellion against the western military super-alliance NATO summit in 2012, a small group of racists organized their own ‘white nationalist economic summit' in the nearby suburb of Tinley Park. They booked a restaurant to hold a luncheon under the guise of the "Illinois European Heritage Association.” For over six months this event was promoted on, a very popular online forum where racists and neo-nazis converse. Being in a prolonged state of resistance against racism, this summit became known to organized anti-fascists throughout the Midwest. Through research, they had ascertained the time, location, and even some identities of the attendees of this meeting, some of whom were already known as being members of white supremacist groups such as the KKK, National Socialist Movement and Council of Conservative Citizens. Upon becoming aware of this information, myself and others decided to confront the fascists at their meeting. A righteous melee ensued, many of the ten white supremacists were injured, and we left the scene in less than two minutes.
Yemen is in a new stage of crisis, part of a long war that has been fought over the past few years, intensified under President Obama

Yemen president resigns

A Coup in Yemen? Jeremy Scahill & Iona Craig on Rebel Offensive to Seize Power, Saudi Role & AQAP

The Yemen Model
Yemen is facing political collapse following the mass resignations of President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi, his prime minister and entire cabinet. Thursday’s exodus came just hours after Shia Houthi rebels stormed the presidential compound in the capital city of Sana’a. Hadi said he could not continue in office after Houthis allegedly broke a peace deal to retreat from key positions in return for increased political power. The Houthis appear to have major backing from longtime former president Ali Abdullah Saleh, who was ousted in a popular uprising in 2011. The Obama administration had praised the Yemeni government as being a model for "successful" counterterrorism partnerships, but on Thursday the United States announced it was pulling more staff out of its embassy in Yemen. Some experts warn the developments in Yemen could result in civil war and help al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) gain more power. Meanwhile, Oxfam is warning more than half of Yemen’s population needs aid, and a humanitarian crisis of extreme proportions is at risk of unfolding in the country if instability continues.

King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia died, and reactions from Official Washington, corporate media and everyone else was interesting to see the diplomatic love-fest compared to the truth.

Here is a small sample of the Twitter responses

It seems no one wants Charles to be King (LOL)

And finally from The New York Times
The Obama administration has taken two actions that seem a refreshing departure from six years of aggressively attacking investigative journalism. The Justice Department abandoned an attempt to force James Risen, a New York Times reporter, to testify about a confidential source. And it tempered internal guidelines for trying to obtain records or testimony from the news media during leak investigations.
But these developments are gallingly late, and they do not really settle the big issues raised by President Obama’s devoted pursuit of whistle-blowers and the reporters who receive their information.
Mr. Risen was being threatened with a jail sentence in the trial of Jeffrey Sterling, a former Central Intelligence Agency officer who is charged with providing classified information for a chapter in a book by Mr. Risen detailing a botched covert effort during the Clinton administration to thwart Iran’s nuclear program. The decision not to try to compel Mr. Risen’s testimony was announced in a court motion last week — but only after Mr. Risen was made to testify at a pretrial hearing and said he would neither reveal his confidential sources nor provide details that might help the government identify them.
Soon after the motion was filed, the Justice Department announced a revision in guidelines on leak investigations to delete a reference that offered protections only to “ordinary news-gathering activities” — a vague term that could have been exploited by zealous prosecutors.
Both shifts seemed like an attempt by Attorney General Eric Holder Jr. to soften his reputation before he leaves office. It’s not yet clear whether they mean more respect over time for the crucial role of a free press and the ability of reporters to protect their sources.
They do not erase the Obama administration’s record of bringing more leak cases than all the president’s predecessors combined. Beyond the Risen case, the Justice Department secretly subpoenaed telephone records from Associated Press reporters and editors during a leak investigation and obtained a search warrant for a Fox News reporter’s emails as part of another inquiry.
The abandoned pursuit of Mr. Risen leaves behind an atrocious legal precedent: a 2-to-1 ruling in 2013 by the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, in Virginia, which denied the existence of any reporter’s privilege in the First Amendment or common law. That position was advocated by the Justice Department, and it was repeated in briefs asking the Supreme Court to deny Mr. Risen’s request for review, which it did. The Fourth Circuit includes Maryland and Virginia, home to most national security agencies.
Two things are clear. First, dedicated journalists like Mr. Risen are willing to stand up to protect the identity of their sources. The second is the need for a strong federal shield law broadly protective of reporters who do that under the pressure of a high-profile leak investigation.

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