Category Archives: By issue

Real Americans Question 9/11

Real Americans Question 9/11

These days it’s difficult to remember what values the American people share. That’s because the U.S. government does so many things that seem to contradict basic human values. Wars of aggression, torture, kidnapping and indefinite detention, warrantless wiretapping, and so many other oppressions have become standard operational procedure for the U.S. government. Those who recognize and seek to correct this system of abuse soon realize that the key to doing so is to reveal the truth behind the primary driver for all of them—the crimes of 9/11.

It’s important to know what makes someone an American and what does not. Here are some examples of what does not make someone an American.

  • Loyalty to the flag
  • Respect for the national anthem
  • Serving in the military or honoring military veterans
  • Paying taxes

A person can do these things to any extent possible and it will not make them any more American than they were before they began. Popular culture and corporate media make every effort to present American patriotism as a sum of these kinds of activities but it is easy to see through that false front.

Only one thing makes someone an American and that is support and defense of the U.S. Constitution. The founding fathers of the United States defined Americans as those who are committed to the ideals of the Constitution. To this day, anyone claiming to represent the nation must swear an oath to uphold those ideals.

Each president, when taking office, affirms that he will “preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.” All congress members must swear or affirm that they will “support and defend the Constitution.”

All new citizens of the United States and every member of the U.S. military must swear to “support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic;” and that they “will bear true faith and allegiance to the same.”

The U.S. Constitution is comprised of articles that spell out the government’s powers and the process of making amendments. It also includes the 27 amendments that exist today. The first ten amendments, ratified four years after the original text, are known as the Bill of Rights. These include the freedoms of speech, religion, and the press. Also, there are the rights to bear arms, to privacy, and to a speedy and public trial. The rejection of cruel and unusual punishment is another basic tenet of the U.S. Constitution.

Unfortunately, virtually every Article and Amendment of the Constitution has been under attack since September 11, 2001. Yet very few people have risen to support or defend it. In fact, many so-called Americans have encouraged assaults on the core American values.

That abuse began with the violation of Article 1 of the Constitution that rejects starting wars of aggression without having been “actually invaded, or in such imminent danger as will not admit of delay.” Instead of working to determine what actually happened on 9/11 and thereby defend the nation, the Bush Administration immediately invaded Afghanistan, a country that it had planned to invade long before the 9/11 attacks. Sixteen months later, the government invaded Iraq based on what everyone now knows was a pack of lies.

Americans who questioned that anti-American approach were silenced with claims that they were not “supporting the troops” if they did not consent to the growing greed-fueled militarism. The Afghanistan invasion was coupled with the passing of the Patriot Act—an attack on basic Constitutional rights and a failure to preserve those rights as described in Article 2.

In 2006, national polls showed that over one third of Americans believed that federal officials assisted in the 9/11 terrorist attacks or took no action to stop them so that the United States could go to war in the Middle East. At the same time, Americans witnessed a growing list of abuses of their Constitutional rights. These abuses violated the Bill of Rights in nearly every way and were driven by unproven claims about what happened on September 11, 2001.

On the tenth anniversary of 9/11, the Center for Constitutional Rights described how the Constitution had been shredded based on assumptions about the 9/11 attacks. By then, it had also become clear that the government was actually giving aid and comfort to the enemy (violating Article 3) through arming and training terrorists. One might think it obvious that stopping such actions would be the goal of all Americans but to do so one Congress member has had to spell it out in legislation.

Failing to protect Americans against domestic violence (a violation of Article 4), the FBI was found to actually be manufacturing terrorism. It was further learned that some FBI leaders had been facilitating or sponsoring terrorism since long before 9/11. This practice continues today and the manufactured plots have become so obvious that officials are finding it difficult to explain why Americans should take them seriously.

Attorney and author John W. Whitehead has detailed the continuing attacks on the Bill of Rights by writing that,

“What began with the passage of the USA Patriot Act in October 2001 has snowballed into the eradication of every vital safeguard against government overreach, corruption and abuse. Since then, we have been terrorized, traumatized, and tricked into a semi-permanent state of compliance. The bogeyman’s names and faces change over time—Osama bin Laden, Saddam Hussein and now ISIS—but the end result remains the same: our unquestioning acquiescence to anything the government wants to do in exchange for the phantom promise of safety and security.”

The attacks on American values have been so extensive that people often no longer notice how bad it has become. For example, the government has named those captured and tortured in the name of 9/11 as “forever prisoners”—a term that exemplifies the hatred of freedom represented by the new phony Americanism. The fact that one of these men was a central character in building the official account of 9/11 and has since been exonerated for any involvement in those crimes makes no difference.

How can real Americans respond to this ongoing assault against the Constitution by flag-waving, militaristic, greed-driven fools? How can we “support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic” by “bearing true faith and allegiance to the same?”

To end the wave of anti-Americanism that began with the crimes of 9/11, Americans have two options. The first is to stand up publicly and fight the attacks on our Constitution by helping everyone understand that the crimes of 9/11 have not been solved. In fact, there are still so many unanswered questions about those crimes that everything done in “response” is almost certainly a crime in itself.

The second option is to end the tyranny through revolution. This was how America began, of course, and that great beginning is enshrined in the precursor to the Constitution—the Declaration of Independence. At the time, the founders stated that, “When a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.”

As Americans it is our duty to throw off the tyrannical abuses of power that are threatening to end America. That duty starts with questioning 9/11—the driver behind all of it.

Secret trial defendant pleads guilty to possessing terrorist document

Secret trial defendant pleads guilty to possessing terrorist document

The Guardian, October 9, 2014

http://www.theguardian.com/law/2014/oct/09/secret-trial-defendant-pleads-guilty-possessing-terrorist-document

Mounir Rarmoul-Bouhadjar was due to face charges in Old Bailey trial, much of which was to take place in secret

One of the defendants due to face charges in a partly secret trial has pleaded guilty to possessing a terrorist document.

Mounir Rarmoul-Bouhadjar, 26, entered the plea at the Old Bailey on Tuesday, but it was only reported on Thursday after reporting restrictions were lifted.

Rarmoul-Bouhadjar was due to go on trial next week with co-defendant Erol Incedal, also 26, with much of the case being heard behind closed doors.

Mr Justice Nicol had originally ruled that the trial should take place entirely in private with the identity of both defendants withheld and a permanent prohibition on reporting the case.

After media organisations challenged his “unprecedented” decision, three appeal judges overruled the ban on naming the defendants, both from London, who were previously known only as AB and CD.

They ruled in favour of the core of the trial being held “in camera”.

At the Old Bailey hearing on Tuesday the court was told that Rarmoul-Bouhadjar admitted possessing a “document containing information of a kind likely to be useful to a person committing or preparing an act of terrorism, namely a document entitled Bomb making”. A second charge of improperly obtaining an identity document was dropped.

Rarmoul-Bouhadjar was in court for Tuesday’s hearing, and Incedal appeared via videolink.

Incedal will now stand trial alone next week accused of an offence contrary to section 5 of the Terrorism Act 2006 (preparation of terrorist acts) and an offence contrary to section 58 of the Terrorism Act 2000 (collection of information).

Rarmoul-Bouhadjar will be sentenced after Incedal’s trial.

U.S. directs agents to cover up program used to investigate Americans

Exclusive: U.S. directs agents to cover up program used to investigate Americans

Discovering secret dockets

Discovering secret dockets

http://www.rcfp.org/secret-justice-secret-dockets/discovering-secret-dockets

Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press

Reporters check court dockets to find out what cases have been filed in courts across the country. The docket reveals the case number assigned by the court, the parties’ names, and a brief entry of each document filed or action taken in the case. Normally, all of this information is public record and can be obtained either from the court clerk’s office, the court’s public inquiry computer terminals, the court’s Web site, or through PACER, an electronic public access service where federal court docket information can be accessed for a fee. The information on the docket is evidence that a particular case exists and allows someone to track the case through the judicial system.

According to a survey by The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press for this guide, federal courts and many state courts allow for “super-secret” cases, which never appear on the public docket or are hidden using pseudonyms, such as “Sealed v. Sealed” or “John Doe v. Jane Doe.” Courts that maintain these secret dockets will neither confirm nor deny the existence of such cases. As a result, these cases proceed through the court system undetected.

Terrorism “outside the orbit”

The most recent examples of secret dockets involve cases against accused terrorists. On May 1, Iyman Faris pleaded guilty to providing material support to al Qaida, including researching ultralight airplanes, procuring lightweight sleeping bags, plane tickets and cell phones, and assisting in a plan to destroy the Brooklyn Bridge for the terrorist organization. But his arrest, indictment and, ultimately, his plea bargain with the Justice Department proceeded in absolute secrecy.

Faris’ case may have remained a secret were it not for two Newsweek reporters, Michael Isikoff and Mark Hosenball, who discovered through intelligence documents that Faris was suspected of working for key al Qaida operative Khalid Shaikh Mohammed. In a June 18, 2003 article, the reporters speculated whether Faris was on the run, had disappeared or had been captured. For individuals such as Faris, there is “a new category that seems to be evolving outside the orbit of the criminal-justice system,” the Newsweek reporters wrote.

Only after Newsweek reported on Faris did Attorney General John Ashcroft reveal that Faris had pleaded guilty to terrorist charges more than a month earlier. The Justice Department denied that the Newsweek story had anything to do with Ashcoft’s June 19 press conference in which he first announced the capture of Faris and his plea agreement.

“Our need to keep it secret had dissipated,” said Mark Corallo, a spokesperson for the Justice Department.

The Justice Department will not divulge how many other individuals are being held in secret on terrorism charges. “We have been very consistent in not discussing exact numbers,” Corallo said. “Even though it seems like innocuous information, it is not.”

Corallo claimed that providing numbers of individuals arrested on terrorism charges would “give a road map to the terrorists.” Terrorist organizations could determine how many terrorists the Justice Department has captured and monitor the government’s progress, he explained.

But the government never has explained how a terrorist operative could be in U.S. control for months and why the terrorist organization with which he is allegedly involved could not determine that its operative was missing, said Lee Gelernt, an attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union.

This debate raises the question: Is such secrecy really needed to protect national security or is it being used to protect the government from scrutiny?

It was only through a court clerk’s mistake that the Miami Daily Business Review discovered the case of Mohamed Kamel Bellahouel, who apparently filed suit in a federal court in Florida against Monica S. Wetzel, a former warden at the Federal Correctional Institution in South Miami-Dade County.

According to the Business Review, Bellahouel “was once mistakenly suspected of involvement with terrorists” and appears to have filed a petition seeking freedom from unlawful imprisonment.However, the public docket will not reveal that Bellahouel’s case even exists or why his case is pending before the U.S. Court of Appeals in Atlanta (11th Cir.).

While no one knows how many cases such as Bellahouel’s exist, secret dockets are not limited to cases involving terrorism.

Secret crimes

Attorneys for alleged Columbian drug trafficker Fabio Ochoa-Vasquez discovered an entire system of “dual docketing” in U.S. District Court in Florida that deprived them of information for their client’s defense.

Ochoa alleges that a government informant bribed him and that for $30 million he would receive no more than a five-year sentence. Ochoa also alleges that another government informant told him that a U.S. program existed in which drug traffickers could pay their way to a reduced sentence and that two traffickers, Nicholas Bergonzoli and Julio Correa, had already participated in the program.

Even though Bergonzoli pleaded guilty to importing cocaine and an attorney acknowledged representing Correa in “a cooperation agreement with the government,” the Florida federal court docket does not reflect that these cases even exist, according to attorneys for Ochoa, who in May 2003 filed a brief requesting the elimination of the “dual docketing” system and disclosure of sealed proceedings to the Eleventh Circuit.

Not only does this type of secrecy deprive Ochoa of his due process rights, it is a violation of the First Amendment and common law rights of access to judicial proceedings, Ochoa’s attorneys argued.

The use of secret dockets by the federal Southern District of Florida conflicts with a decision issued by the Eleventh Circuit ten years earlier in United States v. Valenti. In that case, the government charged criminal defense attorney Charles Corces and state prosecutor John Valenti with conspiring to obtain favorable treatment for criminal defendants who paid Valenti. After the two were indicted, the state dismissed the case; however, a secret docket prevented the public from learning about closed pretrial bench conferences and the filing of in-camera pretrial motions. A reporter from the St. Petersburg Times learned about the secret docket when he observed a closed-bench conference and sought access to the transcripts.

On appeal to the Eleventh Circuit, the court held that the “maintenance of a public and a sealed docket is inconsistent with affording the various interests of the public and the press meaningful access to criminal proceedings.”

According to Ochoa’s attorneys, this holding “is consistent with every circuit that has decided a similar question.”

However, while the law disfavors secret dockets, they are still used by federal and state courts to hide sealed cases. When an entire case is sealed, rather than individual documents, federal courts either remove the case from the public docket or replace the parties’ names with anonymous pseudonyms such as “Sealed v. Sealed.” At least 46 U.S. district courts across the country allow for these types of secret docketing procedures. Such a system makes it virtually impossible for the public and press to know what types of cases are being sealed or to challenge the constitutionality of the sealing orders.

– See more at: http://www.rcfp.org/secret-justice-secret-dockets/discovering-secret-dockets#sthash.bqBpqkb9.dpuf

The long history of blacklisting outspoken workers in the UK

Statewatch article: RefNo# 33255
“Every Man a Capitalist”: The long history of monitoring ‘unsuitable’ workers in the UK by Trevor Hemmings, Statewatch
Statewatch Journal; vol 23 no 2 August 2013
“Blacklisting is the practice of systematically denying individuals employment on the basis of information, accurate or not, held in some kind of database.” [1]

In February 2009, investigators from the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) raided the premises of The Consulting Association (TCA) in Droitwich, West Midlands, confiscating a database comprising 3,213 names that was being used by 43 construction firms to blacklist workers they deemed “unsuitable” for employment. [2] The seized database was only a small fraction of the information held by TCA, but inexplicably the bulk of the data was left behind and subsequently destroyed. Clandestine blacklisting by multinational construction companies, who submitted the names and addresses for vetting by TCA, denied employment to thousands of workers on the basis of their trade union membership, political beliefs and health and safety activities. [3] Information held in the database was often based on little more than “gossip.” As a consequence of the raid, in July 2009 the director of TCA, Ian Kerr, was fined £5,000 after admitting breaching the Data Protection Act, but his fine was paid secretly by Sir Robert McAlpine on condition that the company’s name was not revealed. [4] Kerr died a fortnight later, taking unknown secrets to the grave.

As a result of the high profile raid, the practice of blacklisting was belatedly made illegal in March 2010 by the introduction of the Employment Relations Act 1999 (Blacklisting) Regulations 2010, under which it is unlawful to compile, sell, use or supply a prohibited list (a list which contains details of people who have been members of Trade Unions or have participated in Trade Union activities). The law has been criticised by trade unionists as being too little, too late. Article 11 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which has been in force since 1953, protects “the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and to freedom of association with others, including the right to form and to join trade unions.” [5]

In July 2012, 80+ blacklisted workers launched a High Court action against the construction firm Sir Robert McAlpine, a Conservative Party donor and builder of the Olympic Stadium, for the firm’s alleged role in creating TCA and cooperating with other firms to keep them out of work. [6] The head of McAlpine’s Human Resources department, David Cochrane, chaired TCA from 2006-2009 and the company effectively set up and funded it. Further insights into this “real live conspiracy” emerged when the House of Commons Scottish Affairs Committee heard evidence from a number of the key players and their victims in November 2012, some of which was later written up in an interim report published in April 2013. [7] The interim report was highly critical of the companies which failed to take responsibility for their “morally indefensible” blacklisting practices.

In January 2013, a House of Commons debate [8] moved by Labour MP Chukka Umana discussed police and security service collusion in the blacklisting and suggested that at least 200 environmental activists were also among those under surveillance by TCA. Umana told the Guardian newspaper:

“Very serious allegations have been raised, including by a serving ICO official who is himself a former police officer, that information contained on the blacklist files came from police and security services. This only reinforces the need for a full investigation into blacklisting so we can get the full truth of what went on.” [9]

In February 2013, the Metropolitan police reluctantly launched an investigation into allegations of collusion in the blacklisting of construction workers. The Met had previously dismissed a complaint from the Blacklist Support Group (BSG) which claimed the police had been involved in compiling the blacklist that came to light in the ICO raid. [10]

A brief history of the Economic League

The twentieth century was dominated by the role played by the right-wing Economic League (EL) in “countering subversion” between 1919 and 1993. Its early years are opaque, although works by investigative journalists such as Mike Hughes, Mark Hollingsworth and Richard Norton-Taylor have thrown some light on this period. [11] The father to TCA, the Economic League was formed in 1919 to fight Bolshevism, combat the “red infection” and “crusade” for unregulated free-market capitalism. The League emerged from various cliques of industrialists, such as National Propaganda (NP), which had close links to the early intelligence services and military. [12] In 1925 the Economic League became a permanent organisation under its first director-general, John Baker White, who had been an intelligence officer and had maintained the security links that formed the basis of the League’s data collection and blacklisting services. As Mike Hughes has pointed out, the Economic League had dual objectives: its council members, pillars of the establishment and other powerful men, opposed socialism overtly, while at a covert level they began to establish the framework of a shadow state. One early anti-democratic activity was a campaign to break the 1926 General Strike under the slogan “Every Man a Capitalist.” [13]

Throughout the 1920s and 1930s, the EL compiled records on trade union organisers, socialists and communists, sometimes based on information which originated from police files. There is also well-documented evidence that the EL and British intelligence agencies were cooperating at this time. [14] Despite this, the influence the League exerted on the British state over its first two decades had diminished by the Second World War when its model of unregulated free-enterprise came into conflict with the mixed economy supported by the mainstream Conservative Party, which was in government between 1951 and 1964. [15]

From the 1960s, a number of investigations, most notably by the Labour Research team, [16] published details of the blacklisting of workers, a practice the EL continued to deny until the 1969 publication of A Subversive Guide to the Economic League, [17] which revealed that in 1968 the organisation had an annual income of £266,000, £61,000 of which was contributed by 154 companies. Twenty-one known banks and financial institutions contributed as much as 47 manufacturing companies. According to the State Research Bulletin, in 1977 the top industrial donors to the Economic League were: Tate & Lyle; Imperial Group; Shell Petroleum Company; National Westminster Bank; Barclays Bank; Midland Bank and Lloyds Bank. The top four banks of the day were not only among the EL’s donors, four of their directors sat on the organisation’s Council. [18] Hollingsworth and Norton-Taylor cite a figure of £1m in annual income and 2,000 subscribers for the EL in their 1988 work, Blacklist. [19]

The EL’s profile became even more visible in the 1980s as investigative journalists delved deep into its clandestine activities to reveal more names of companies that were vetting the politics of potential employees. This information also showed that the EL worked with MI5 to blacklist more than 22,000 “subversive workers”, who ranged from trade unionists to individuals speaking up for work mates to anti-nuclear activists. [20] In light of these disclosures, in 1990 the House of Commons Select Committee on Employment heard evidence from the Economic League about its blacklist. This enabled campaigners and investigative journalists to exert further pressure on the organisation. The investigative journalist, Paul Foot, managed to obtain a complete copy of the EL’s blacklist and ran a series of pivotal stories in the Daily Mirror newspaper. Its practices exposed to the public, the EL was wound up in 1993. Data protection laws meant that it would have had to open its files to further scrutiny, revealing personal data on thousands of shopfloor workers, prominent trade unionists, journalists, political activists and Labour Party MPs. [21]

A chip off the old block: The Consulting Association

The Consulting Association grew out of the Economic League’s Services Group, whose membership was comprised of construction firms. A key link between the EL and TCA was Ian Kerr, who had played a lead role in the League for many years before becoming TCA’s chief officer. Unlike those he blacklisted and made unemployable (and in some instances destitute), while employed by TCA Kerr earned an annual salary of £50,000 plus bonus, had BUPA medical insurance and drove a Mercedes car. [22] Kerr gave evidence to the Scottish Affairs Committee shortly before he died, stating that TCA was founded in April 1993 with a £10,000 loan from Sir Robert McAlpine:

“[The Consulting Association] was started out of the Services Group (SG), operated by and within the Economic League (EL). A Steering Committee of key people in construction companies of the Services Group drafted a constitution. Key operating features of TCA were decided by representatives of the major construction companies, who were the original members.” [23]

TCA operated from 1993 until 2009. Unfortunately the full extent of its operations may never be known as the ICO seized “only a small proportion of the documentation” held at TCA’s Droitwich office. David Clancy from the ICO told the HSAC that:

“We are talking of between 5% and 10% of what was in the office. What the other 90% or 95% was I can’t comment on because we didn’t go through lots of it.” [24]

Clancy argued that it had been unnecessary to look at anything else because he had “found the blacklist.” However, TCA’s Ian Kerr, giving evidence to the same committee, admitted that other information was held “including some files on environmental activists. These were not taken away by the ICO and were subsequently destroyed.”

Blacklist Support Group vs. Captains of Industry

The Blacklist Support Group (BSG) is a network of construction workers who have been blacklisted because of their trade union activities. [25] The network has run a campaign to “name and shame” the top construction company bosses who have chaired TCA and have also named the construction industry’s ‘main contacts’ with the covert blacklisting organisation. [26] The Group has published a list of company directors that have chaired TCA:

1993-1996 Cullum McAlpine (Sir Robert McAlpine)

1997-1999 Tony Jennings (Laing O’Rourke)

2000-2001 Danny O’Sullivan (Kier)

2002-2003 Stephen Quant (Skanska)

2004-2005 Trevor Watchman (Balfour Beatty)

2006-2009 David Cochrane (Sir Robert McAlpine)

The BSG is seeking to “blacklist the blacklisters” and asks: Where are they working now? Are they involved in publicly funded contracts?
The BSG has also demanded compensation for blacklisted workers and that the companies responsible for their loss of earnings be made accountable for their actions. BSG is demanding:

• A full public apology,

• Compensation for blacklisted workers,

• Denial of public contracts for blacklisting firms,

• Jobs for blacklisted workers on major projects.

Big spenders

The journal Building published a detailed analysis of the spending of 14 of TCA’s main users in a report entitled “Annual Spending by the Consulting Association 1996-2009.” [27] The main players were Sir Robert McAlpine and Skanska, each spending well over £200,000. They were followed by Laing O’Rourke and Balfour Beatty which both spent more than £100,000, with Carillion and Amec both spending around £70,000.

The Scottish Affairs Committee report also details the roles played by three major construction firms: Sir Robert MacAlpine Ltd, Skanska and Balfour Beatty, describing MacAlpine as a “major force” behind the blacklist and Balfour Beatty as a particularly “hard-nosed” user. Balfour Beatty is heavily criticised, with the SAC pointedly remarking:

“…we are sure that [the company] regrets being caught; we were less convinced that management regretted its involvement with TCA.” [28]

The TCA’s database was accessed by construction companies on an annual subscription basis – membership was at the invitation of an existing member – and a further £2.20 was paid for each name checked. The point of contact with TCA was usually through a senior executive in a company’s Human Resources Department who would submit a list of names, to be checked against a card file held by the Association. Over a four-year period, for instance, Skanska vetted 66,000 names of workers to be employed on Ministry of Defence building projects while Balfour Beatty was vetting 15,000 workers a year.

Red, black, blue and green

While the ICO’s flawed investigation seriously undermined attempts to confirm the broader scope of the TCA covert blacklisting service, other lines of inquiry have been more forthcoming. Ian Kerr’s evidence to the SAC described how blacklisted names were given different colours: black (for industrial relations – general); red/orange (mechanical and engineering); green (environmental activists) and blue (everything else). [29] While there is some question as to the veracity of Kerr’s statements, it is worth briefly exploring the scope of TCA’s activities.

Various industrial tribunal claims have resulted from the construction industry’s blacklisting of workers. Two examples will serve here as an illustration of the effects of blacklisting on individual construction workers.

Construction worker, Steve Acheson (58), from Greater Manchester, obtained a copy of his 22-page file following the ICO raid on TCA. Achesons’s trade union activities began in 1996 after the death of a 21-year old colleague at a site on which he was working. This compelled him to ensure that companies for which he worked complied with health and safety legislation. He has won four cases of unfair dismissal at various industrial tribunals. His TCA file began in April 2000 and confirmed that he had been placed on the blacklist because of raising health and safety issues and because of “suspected” trade union membership. The file included his name, address, date of birth, National Insurance number, mobile telephone number and a reference to his union membership. As a result of being blacklisted, Acheson was unemployed “for nine of the last 11 years and in the last five years [he] received only 16 pay packets.” On the few occasions when he secured employment he was swiftly removed from the site. This has had a devastating effect on his family and his wife had to work full time to support him.

Engineer, Dave Smith (47) had a 36-page file him held on him by TCA and he was repeatedly victimised for highlighting safety hazards on sites. The file contains many entries regarding Smith’s role as safety officer for the building workers’ union, Ucatt, while working on building sites controlled by John Mowlem and Schal International (both subsidiaries of Carillion) after he raised safety issues relating to the presence of asbestos and working conditions. In 2009, Smith became the secretary of the Blacklist Support Group. In January 2012, he pursued a claim against Carillion through an employment tribunal. Although Carillion accepted that Smith had been blacklisted, the company successfully argued that because he was not employed directly by them, but through a sub-contractor, Carillion was not legally responsible. Smith told the Guardian newspaper:

“This is about human rights. I have not done anything illegal; I am a member of a trade union. I have worked in an attempt to improve health and safety on building sites and yet it appears my employers, the state, security services and the police have been conspiring against me.” [30]

It should be noted that the majority of those who have sought redress through the courts have failed. [31]

The scope of TCA’s blacklisting has recently been shown to have included Irish construction workers; 370 people on the 3,200-name TCA database have typically Irish names. Irish workers were illegally barred from Ministry of Defence projects and the ICO’s David Clancy has alleged state involvement, saying that some information on TCA’s records “must have been supplied by either MI5 or police.” The Labour MP, John McDonnell, who has spent many years highlighting the blacklisting scandal, called for the truth on how Irish workers were targeted and asked “who in the state authorised or turned a blind eye to this organised victimisation.” To this end he called for an independent public inquiry into blacklisting:

“I am calling for an independent public inquiry into blacklisting because many believe that what we have found out so far about the activities of The Consulting Association is just the tip of an iceberg.” [32]

According to the GMB trade union, the TCA’s blacklist also included 582 workers who were living or working in Scotland. Describing the practice of blacklisting as “a deplorable activity that has ruined livelihoods for decades,” Labour MP Jim McGovern called “on authorities to look into whether it remains an ongoing practice.” [33] The GMB has met with officials from the Scottish government, which is considering preventing companies implicated in the blacklisting scandal from bidding for future contracts, worth billions of pounds. A Scottish government spokesman said: “Officials met union representatives to discuss new guidance to update existing public procurement processes and procedures in light of blacklisting of employees by contractors in the construction industry.” [34]

In January 2013, a House of Commons debate on blacklisting discussed police and security service collusion in the practice, suggesting that at least 200 green activists involved in road building protests were among those under surveillance by TCA. TCA’s Ian Kerr had revealed to the parliamentary committee that construction firms wanted information on green protestors after being “badly hit” by their campaigns in the 1990s. He told the MPs:

“In the mid-90s the industry was literally taken unaware by the people who came along and built treehouses, cut the hydraulic lines on the equipment and put sand in tanks, because at the time it was quite easy to win a contract and put a route through an area.” [35]

He went on to say that the construction industry had organised a meeting to debate green activism: “The targets were [activists at] the M11, Twyford Down, the Manchester second runway and the Bath eastern bypass.” [36]

In a recent Panorama television investigation [37] Ian Kerr’s wife, Mary, who worked as a bookkeeper for TCA, described the vetting that occurred during the building of the London “Dome” as extending to acrobats, dancers and entertainers who were seeking employment.

The legal fight back

An estimate of the extent of TCA’s activities can be gauged by legal documents lodged by Sir Hugh Tomlinson QC, acting on behalf of 80+ alleged victims of the blacklisting organisation. Their legal claim alleges that TCA’s clandestine database monitored the trade union activity of workers in the construction industry, including compiling details on industrial action, political views and affiliation and membership of unions, with entries frequently being made after workers had made complaints about matters concerning health and safety. Addressing health and safety issues was considered by companies to be likely to delay construction and therefore lessen profits for no discernible benefit. The TCA’s files did not only make recommendations on employment, with entries such as “do not employ” and “not recommended”, but even commented on individual’s relationships and wrongly accused others of criminal activities, such as accusing one man of claiming unemployment benefit while working. Victimised workers say that the conspiracy to run the blacklist caused them to suffer “loss and damage” by preventing them from obtaining employment [38].

The action also claims that Sir Robert McAlpine, and in particular Cullum McAlpine, had a central role in the establishment and operation of TCA.

“[Cullum] McAlpine was the founding chairman at the organisation’s inception in 1993. He was intimately involved in the foundation and operation of TCA. He formally offered Mr Kerr the position of director in August 1993. He finalised the written particulars of Mr Kerr’s employment, sending them to members for approval and obtaining legal advice in relation to them. He oversaw the arrangement of life and health insurance for Mr Kerr as part of his remuneration.” [39]

The legal claim also says that once TCA’s database was exposed in 2009 and Kerr was prosecuted, he was warned that if McAlpine’s name was mentioned the company “might encounter serious difficulty in obtaining major construction contracts.” Sir Robert McAlpine Ltd paid Kerr’s winding up costs, legal costs and the fine imposed by the ICO through cheques not paid to him directly. McAlpine was invoiced by Kerr’s daughter for “services rendered” and Callum McAlpine paid the bill. The company denies that these underhand payments “…were in any way linked to his taking responsibility or protecting Sir Robert McAlpine Ltd or any other member of the Consulting Association.” [40]

However, Mike Hughes, in an article for SpinWatch, has warned that the legal complexities of the case and obscurity of the law “means that it will be hard to see that even if this case is successful it will set sufficiently clear precedents to change recruitment practices in general.”

Commenting on the legal cases against Sir Robert McAlpine Ltd, a spokesman said:

“TCA was established by a large group of construction companies. All the member companies contributed to, and accessed information from, the CA from time to time. Directors and representatives of a number of major construction firms chaired CA over the years. These included Mr Cullum McAlpine who was chairman for a period in the 1990s.” [41]

The depth of the company’s state of denial was clear when a spokesman added that it had never operated a “blacklist.”

“We are, and have always been, wholly committed to maintaining good relationships with our workforce and to responsible trade unionism.” [42]


Protests at local and European level

At the local level, members of trade unions such as Unite have been leafleting, petitioning and demonstrating to mobilise public support to prevent local authorities using the companies that blacklisted, and in some cases allegedly continue to blacklist, workers. Unite is calling on local authorities:

“…to desist from using the services of companies proven to have blacklisted workers and in particular those companies, such as Royal Bam and Kier which appear to be continuing to abuse the basic human rights of ordinary working people.” [43]

Hull City Council voted unanimously to remove blacklisting firms from all council contracts at a full council meeting in December 2012. The council also recognised the GMB trade union campaign to win an apology and compensation for those who have been unable to work as a result of being blacklisted. [44] Around a dozen other councils in England, Scotland and Wales are considering moves to exclude blacklisting companies from local government contracts. The Blacklist Support Group has called on other local authorities to follow Hull’s lead:

“…until the blacklisting firms apologise and compensate the workers whose lives they have ruined. They have destroyed careers in order to increase their profits. As profits are the only thing that the blacklisting companies are interested in, perhaps losing publically funded projects will make them own up to their responsibilities.” [45]

The Unite trade union [46] maintains that blacklisting continues to be rife in the UK and that this is evident on the £15 billion publically funded Crossrail project (Europe’s largest railway engineering programme underway in southeast England). The union’s general secretary, Len McCluskey, has called for a national mobilisation against Crossrail consortium Bam Ferrovial Kier (BFK), after alleging that “blacklisting activity is continuing at Crossrail.” [41] The union says that workers’ have been excluded for raising safety issues, an allegation that will be tested at an employment tribunal by electrician, Frank Morris (38), who says that he was dismissed after becoming a union representative and voicing safety concerns.

At the European level, in April 2013 the Unite union led a delegation to Amsterdam to protest outside Royal Bam’s annual general meeting. Bam is the latest major contractor to have its overseas meetings targeted by anti-blacklisting protesters from the UK. Unite is running a campaign against the Crossrail project and its delegation to Holland was protesting at Bam Nuttall’s role in the London scheme. In the same month, the Blacklist Support Group and GMB trade union targeted the Skanska annual shareholders meeting in Stockholm. Unite’s assistant general secretary, Gail Cartmail, who attended the protest in Amsterdam said “Blacklisting ruins lives and we believe it is continuing today on Crossrail.” She continued: “Unite believes that the people of Holland and Bam’s shareholders deserve to know about Bam’s behaviour elsewhere in Europe.” [47]

“We are all Thatcherites now”

Following the death of former Conservative Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher, on 8 April 2013, the current Conservative Prime Minister David Cameron paid tribute to her, declaring that “We are all Thatcherites now.” Thatcher, who laid waste to vast swathes of working class communities when taking on the miners and other trade unionists during an earlier programme of privatisation that left generations unemployed and unemployable, stands as an appropriate symbol for the blacklisting scandal. Like Thatcher before him, David Cameron has also targeted workers’ rights and imposed neo-liberal austerity measures that take from the poor to subsidise wealthy captains of industry, who continue to get vast bonuses that exceed what the average worker will earn in an entire lifetime.

The blacklisting and removal from employment of those workers who are represented by trade unions, or have the temerity to question health and safety standards, evokes this Thatcherite ethos, but also accurately signifies the role that working class people can expect to play in twenty-first century Britain. It is therefore unsurprising to find that the HSAC’s interim report also expresses grave doubts as to whether the illegal practice of blacklisting has actually ended. The Committee felt obliged to investigate the extent to which the practice continues within the construction industry and further afield, and will report its findings in a forthcoming report. In future sessions, the Committee will also examine the ongoing issues of compensation for victims and penalties for offenders.

However, it is clear that private websites, like HR Blacklist, [48] which describes itself as “an ethical human resources community for employers and employees” that promises to reveal “the truth about employees,” is continuing an old tradition. The company advertises five reasons for using its HR Blacklist:

1. Blacklisting an employee is free

2. Almost 50% of the candidates lie in their CV’s

3. Hiring the wrong person, may cost you money and reputation

4. Fast and easy CV search: find what other employers had to say about the candidate

5. Rate an employee, or check his/her rating

However, Mike Hughes has warned that:

“…the technology of blacklisting is moving offshore and embracing wiki models where the conspiracy becomes more dispersed and tortuous and certainly less actionable.” [49]

Endnotes

[1] House of Commons Scottish Affairs Committee “Blacklisting in Employment: interim report” (The Stationery Office), 16.4.13 link

[2] Information Commissioners Office “The Consulting Association” Press release (undated) See also: Phil Chamberlain “The Construction Industry Blacklist: how the Economic League lived on” Lobster 58, Winter 2009/10, for a detailed account of the raid.

[3] A Health and Safety Executive report published in April 2013 revealed that “nearly a quarter of building sites in London failed to meet minimum health and safety legal standards, BBC News 5.4.13. See link

[4] Daniel Boffey “McAlpine denies high court claim it had major role in ‘blacklist scandal’” The Guardian 12.1.13

[5] European Court of Human Rights “The European Convention on Human Rights” 1950 link

[6] “Blacklisted builders launch mass legal action against Sir Robert McAlpine” The Guardian, 29.7.12 link

[7] Op. cited House of Commons Scottish Affairs Committee 2013.

[8] Parliament “Blacklisting Debate: Opposition Day” 23.1.13. link

[9] Matthew Taylor “MPs call for inquiry into blacklist of green activists” The Guardian, 29.1.13

[10] ibid

[11] See for instance: Mark Hollingsworth and Richard Norton-Taylor, Blacklist: the inside story of political vetting (The Hogarth Press 1988) Mike Hughes “Spies at Work” (1995) online book: link

[12] See for instance the role played by Sir Admiral Reginald ‘Blinker’ Hall a director of Naval Intelligence who advised the government on the establishment of MI6 in 1909

[13] Op. cited, Hughes 1995

[14] Matthew Taylor “MPs call for inquiry into blacklist of green activists” The Guardian, 29.1.13

[15] Op. cited, Hughes 1995

[16] The journal Labour Research still publishes news and information for trade unionists and continues to play an important role in exposing the activities of major construction companies in illegal blacklisting. Website: link

[17] Labour Research “A Subversive Guide to the Economic League” 1969

[18] State Research “The Economic League” Bulletin No. 7, pp. 135-145, 1978

[19] Op. cited Mark Hollingsworth and Richard Norton-Taylor 1988

[20] David Hencke “Left blacklist man joins euro fight” The Guardian, 9.9.00

[21] When the Economic League was wound up two of its former directors formed a similar organisation called CAPRiM. The role of this organisation is enigmatic, but Ian Kerr has said that it was primarily an organisation that put out publications and checked potential employees curriculum vitaes. He also suggested that it was a vehicle to ensure that he and other ex-Economic League employees were able to maintain their standard of living.

[22] Op. cited Scottish Affairs Home Committee 2013

[23] Op. cited Scottish Affairs Home Committee 2013

[24] Op. cited Scottish Affairs Home Committee 2013

[25] The BSG blog can be found on the Hazards website. See link

[26] ibid

[27] link

[28] Op. cited Scottish Affairs Home Committee 2013

[29] Ibid

[30] Daniel Boffey “Blacklisted building workers hope for day in court after ruling” The Guardian, 3.3.12 link

[31] ibid

[32] Irish Post, 9.2.13

[33] The Courier, 5.2.13

[34] Paul Cahalan and Sanchez Manning “Building firms could face bans over blacklisting of workers” Independent 9.6.13.

[35] Op. cited Scottish Affairs Home Committee 2013

[36] Op. cited 7. Parliament “Blacklisting Debate: Opposition Day”, 23.1.13

[37] Panorama “Blacklist Britain” BBC 1, 10.6.13

[38] Daniel Boffey “Blacklisted builders launch mass legal action against Sir Robert McAlpine” Observer 29.7.12. link

[39] Daniel Boffey “McAlpine denies high court claim it had major role in ‘blacklist scandal’” The Guardian 12.1.13 link

[40] Panorama “Blacklist Britain” BBC 1, 10.6.13

[41] Op. cited The Guardian, 12.1.13

[42] Op. cited The Guardian, 12.1.13

[43] Tim Lezzard “Shoppers asked to support blacklisted workers (Union News 11.5.13)

[44] Morning Star, 4.1.13

[45] See Unite webpage:link

[46] Matthew Taylor “Unite calls for national action over Crossrail blacklisting allegations” The Guardian, 10.6.13.

[47] Will Hurst “Blacklisting protesters target Royal Bam” link

[48] HR Blacklist website: link

[49] Mike Hughes “First concerted legal action against blacklist will reveal need for a radical rethink of employment regulations” SpinWatch, 18.1.13

 

 

Secret industry databank in U.K. on militant trade unionists

Six years and still waiting: the legal implications of blacklisting

Blacklisted 2http://thejusticegap.com/2015/02/six-years-still-waiting-legal-implications-blacklisting/

by Dave Smith, The Justice Gap, March 6, 2015

The construction industry blacklist has appeared regularly in the media since it was discovered in 2009 following a raid by the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO). Over 40 of the UK’s largest contractors held a covert database of trade unionists who had complained about unpaid wages or safety on building sites through an organisation called The Consulting Association.The database was used to check whenever workers applied to work on major projects and resulted in sackings and repeated refusals of employment over a period of decades. All this was meticulously recorded on 3,213 files using secret codes for the companies and the senior directors who oversaw he operation, with invoices sent for usage. You might have thought, that with mountains of documents, the individuals who had suffered would easily find a legal remedy to achieve some kind of justice. If only.

Initially hundreds of blacklisted workers applied for their files from the ICO and were supplied with what appeared to be prima facie evidence of unfair dismissal and various other forms of victimisation and discrimination. In the summer of 2009, there were a flurry of Employment Tribunal claims submitted and by November that year, when a collective case management discussion was held in Manchester, the blacklisted workers and their lawyers were optimistic of their prospects.

 Demo outside parliament, TUC Day of Action on Blacklisting in 2012

That optimism didn’t last very long. Within months, virtually every ET claim had been thrown out without the evidence even being heard in open court. The reason relates to time-limits.

Every ET claim needs to be submitted within three months of the incident taking place. This is a very strict rule and only in exceptional circumstances will the three months be extended (for instance if someone has been hospitalised for the entire period). In the blacklisting cases, the acts of discrimination or unfair dismissals complained about had not taken place three months earlier but sometimes three decades ago.

The claimants argued that deliberate deception by the blacklisting firms meant that it was not ‘reasonably practicable’ for them to claim at the time of the incident. The courts accepted this but the law does not state how long an extension should be granted for.

In every case, the claimants completed their applications within a few weeks of receiving their file and in most cases well within the three months allowed in normal circumstances. But when Judge Brain sitting alone in Manchester heard the cases, he dismissed every single claim based upon the time-limit rule. The written judgements claim that even though he was willing to grant an extension, this should amount to only a few days. The decision as to how long an extension to grant is entirely in the hands of the judge. It was within his power to allow some leniency to ex-construction workers with no legal training who had completed the tribunal forms themselves. But he decided not to and only five cases ever made it to a full hearing.

'Blacklisted' book cover - more www.newint.org/books/politics/blacklisted-secret-war

Of these, three cases supported by the UNITE union were successful and the workers won compensation of a few thousand pounds because of a specific incidence of unfair dismissal or failure to appoint due to union membership. Sometimes the workers had suffered years of unemployment due to the blacklist, yet the compensation equated to no more than a few weeks lost wages.

The remaining two cases both lost because of ‘employee status’. In both cases, Dooley v Balfour Beatty and Smith v Carillion the companies admitted using the Consulting Association database to blacklist the union activists but won the court case because neither worker was directly employed by the main contractor that carried out the blacklisting. Dooley worked for a brickwork sub-contractor and Smith for an employment agency. In UK employment law, legal rights such as redundancy, unfair dismissal and victimisation for raising safety concerns only apply to direct employees. The impact for millions of casualised agency workers or those on zero hours contracts effectively have little or no employment rights – even where they have documentary evidence and when employers admit the victimisation.

Dave Smith (second from right) with legal team from Smith v Carillion test case.  (L-R) Declan Owens, David Renton, Smith, and John Hendy QC   (all acting pro-bono via the Free Representation Unit)

The Smith v Carillion case has been appealed using the Human Rights Act, all the way to the Court of Appeal. The legal argument being that blacklisting is a breach of Article 8 (privacy) and Article 11 (freedom of association) of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR). Human rights are supposed to apply to everyone not just a particular category of employee. So either the agency worker should be protected or else UK employment law does not comply with the ECHR, and should therefore be amended. In February 2015, the UK government even intervened in the case against Smith. The reserved judgement is expected within the next few months. There are currently two cases submitted to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasburg, the judgements in these cases are not expected for several years.

The Smith v Carillion test case has taken six years and had nearly 20 days in court, with QCs representing on both sides. The legal fees alone would financially ruin most and are another very real barrier to justice for working people.

The final throw of the legal dice is the ‘group litigation’ currently at the High Court. This is equivalent to a US style class action and is arguing that the Consulting Association was an unlawful conspiracy and claiming damages for loss of earnings and defamation. Around 500 workers are up against all the major blacklisting companies. The legal bills have already exceeded £10million and the trial date is not even confirmed yet but is likely to be in the summer of 2016.

Six years of legal battle and no real end in sight. Many have passed away in the process. Whatever the legal outcome, it will not be real justice.

U.K. Supreme Court grants “judicial approval for the mass surveillance of UK protest movements”

Supreme Court grants “judicial approval for the mass surveillance of UK protest movements”

Surveillance at June 2014 London austerity march

This morning the UK Supreme Court delivered a ruling that amounts to what Netpol describes as “judicial approval for the mass surveillance of UK protest movements”.

This decision is the result of an appeal by the Metropolitan Police against a decision in March 2013 that its secretive ‘domestic extremist’ surveillance unit had unlawfully recorded the political activities of Brighton peace campaigner John Catt.

Back in December last year, when Netpol was granted the right to intervene in the Supreme Court hearing, we warned that a victory for the Metropolitan police would “make it significantly easier for intelligence-gathering officers to continue to obtain and retain data about protesters on an almost industrial scale.”

Today’s ruling does exactly this: it allows the police extraordinary discretion to obtain and retain the personal information of protesters whenever they consider it useful for purposes that are never fully defined, but that include investigating the ‘links between protest groups’ and their ‘organisation and leadership’. The Supreme Court has accepted that no further justification is apparently required.

We believe their judgement amounts to judicial approval for the mass surveillance of UK protest movements. It affirms the Metropolitan Police’s stated belief that anyone taking part in a public protest has no reasonable expectation of privacy.

The Supreme Court appears to view the deletion of John Catt’s ‘nominal’ records from the domestic extremism database as a significant indication of an “intensive regime of statutory and administrative regulation”. However, his data was erased long after he stumbled upon evidence that he had been targeted for surveillance and and only after he submitted a request for the specific information held on him. The judgment fails to understand that whilst the Data Protection Act 1998 does, in theory, allow individuals to obtain information held about them by the police, intelligence-gathering itself remains highly secretive and the process for challenging it is deeply flawed.

The Supreme Court says that overt intelligence-gathering “has never been concealed from those who wish to know about these matters”. Netpol’s experience working with campaigners to obtain alleged ‘domestic extremist’ data suggests the exact opposite. It is normal for a request for personal information to take months longer than the statutory maximum of 40 days and if it is eventually provided, any detail is often partial and incomplete.

This Court’s ruling means many activists must repeatedly resubmit requests if they want to check that any new data about them on police files is not, as we have often seen, either inaccurate or misleading. It is extremely unlikely that most have the time or patience to keep doing so.

This case also demonstrates the limits of relying on the courts to protect against unwarranted police surveillance. It reinforces our belief that activists must take their own steps to prevent the gathering of so-called ‘intelligence’ in the first place.

A copy of the Supreme Court judgement is available here.

UPDATE

In a press release issued by his solicitors Bhatt Murphy, John Catt has confirmed his intention to take his case to the European Court of Human Rights. He said:

“Four senior judges have found that my rights have been violated unlawfully, whilst four others have disagreed.  I cannot agree that the police in this country should be trusted with information about innocent people’s lawful political activities. In my view, without a new system of rules governing police surveillance, there is too much scope for the police to abuse their powers.  I am therefore left with no option but to take this matter to the European Court of Human Rights for the sake of other innocent people whose lawful political activities are being monitored by the state.

John’s solicitor Shamik Dutta said:

“Mr Catt has instructed me to seek a ruling from the European Court that by monitoring and retaining information about people’s lawful political activities the UK is violating the privacy rights of its citizens”.

Digital “False Flag” operations by UK services

Exclusive: Snowden Docs Show UK Spies Attacked Anonymous, Hackers

Guantanamo inmate claims he underwent medical experiments

Guantanamo inmate claims he underwent medical experiments

A German-Turkish man, who spent over four years imprisoned at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba, has claimed US guards regularly carried out medical experiments on inmates. The allegations follow revelations made by a US website.

Murat KurnazKurnaz spent over four years in Guantanamo

Former Guantanamo inmate Murat Kurnaz has accused guards at the US-run detention camp, of subjecting him and other prisoners to medical torture.

In an interview with the daily Berliner Zeitung, Kurnaz claimed that he was given medicine against his will several times a month throughout the four and a half years he spent in Guantanamo Bay.

Kurnaz, who is of Turkish origin, was released in 2006 and then returned to Germany, where he had grown up.

His assertions correlate with the results of two separate studies by American lawyers and the US news website Truthout. They revealed that inmates in the prison camp in Cuba were forced to take high doses of drugs, without any medical need.

Mysterious injections

Kurnaz told the Berliner Zeitung that he was regularly given injections without being told what they were for.

“I felt really terrible,” Kurnaz said.

Rights groups claim medical experiments took place in Guantanamo

Although there was no danger of malaria in the camp, he alleges he was forced to take anti-malaria tablets, which made him tired and breathless.

Kurnaz alleges that some of his fellow inmates blew up like ballons under the influence of the drugs.

“They had swollen heads, swollen hands, everything was full of water,” Kurnaz said.

Kurnaz claims that all the inmates he spoke with were convinced that newly developed medicines or drugs were being tested on them.

“We were guinea pigs, although no one told us,” Kurnaz said.

‘Pharmaceutical waterboarding’

The American organization Truthout last December published details of three cases of suicide at Guantanamo Bay. Truthout claimed that government documents from 2006 showed that all inmates were being administered high doses of the oral anti-malaria drug mefloquine. The dose was apparently five times the normal usage. Truthout described the practice as “pharmaceutical waterboarding.”

Kurnaz’s lawyer said the effects his client experienced correlate with the known side-effects of mefloquine.

“Sometimes he felt lightheaded, other times he was sick, and he also had nightmares,” Bernhard Docke told Deutsche Welle. “That conforms to the effects mefloquine can have on humans, when taken in high doses.”

Mefloquine can lead to sleep disturbance, depression, anxiety, psychosis and hallucination. There are reports of US soldiers displaying episodes of aggression and a higher rate of suicide after taking the drug.

Why speak out now?

Kurnaz was released from Guantanamo five years ago, so some are asking why he has waited until now to speak out. Docke says his client was not seeking publicity. He was only responding to an inquiry by journalist Andreas Förster, following the publication of Truthout’s findings.

“He’s trying to lead a normal life,” Förster confirmed to Deutsche Welle. “That isn’t very easy, because the name ‘Murat Kurnaz’ was in the headlines for a while. There were also reports – particularly in the tabloid press – that he was a dangerous Islamist from whom we needed protection.”

“I think Kurnaz has become very mistrustful of the media,” Förster added, “because he’s scared people won’t believe what he went through.”

Author: Joanna Impey
Editor: Susan Houlton

Deutsche Welle

Dutch government refuses to reveal ‘secret deal’ into MH17 crash probe

http://www.strategic-culture.org/news/2014/11/20/dutch-government-refuses-to-reveal-secret-deal-into-mh17-crash-probe.html

Dutch government refuses to reveal ‘secret deal’ into MH17 crash probe
EDITOR’S CHOICE | 20.11.2014

The Dutch government has refused to reveal details of a secret pact between members of the Joint Investigation Team examining the downed Flight MH17. If the participants, including Ukraine, don’t want information to be released, it will be kept secret.

The respected Dutch publication Elsevier made a request to the Dutch Ministry of Security and Justice under the Freedom of Information Act to disclose the Joint Investigation Team (JIT) agreement, along with 16 other documents. The JIT consists of four countries – the Netherlands, Belgium, Australia and Ukraine – who are carrying out an investigation into the MH17 disaster, but not Malaysia. Malaysian Airlines, who operated the flight, has been criticized for flying through a war zone.

Part of the agreement between the four countries and the Dutch Public Prosecution Service, ensures that all these parties have the right to secrecy. This means that if any of the countries involved believe that some of the evidence may be damaging to them, they have the right to keep this secret.

“Of course [it is] an incredible situation: how can Ukraine, one of the two suspected parties, ever be offered such an agreement?” Dutch citizen Jan Fluitketel wrote in the newspaper Malaysia Today.

Despite the air crash taking place on July 17 in Eastern Ukraine, very little information has been released about any potential causes. However, rather than give the public a little insight into the investigation, the Dutch Ministry of Security and Justice is more worried about saving face among the members of the investigation.

“I believe that this interest [international relations] is of greater importance than making the information public, as it is a unique investigation into an extremely serious event,” the Ministry added, according to Elsevier.

Other reasons given for the request being denied included protecting investigation techniques and tactics as well as naming the names of officials who are taking part in the investigation. The Ministry said it would be a breach of privacy if they were revealed. “If the information was to be released then sensitive information would be passed between states and organizations, which would perhaps they would be less likely to share such information in the future,” said the Ministry of Security and Justice.

Dutch MP Pieter Omtzigt, who is a member of the Christian Democratic Party, has made several requests for the information to be released to the public.

“We do not know what the Netherlands has committed itself to. The government neither published the agreement when we asked for it, nor did it show it to parliament,” he said in reaction to the ministry’s decision. “It is perfectly normal that the Netherlands cooperate with other countries in this complex investigation. Yet they even kept the existence of the agreement secret a first and that was unnecessary.”

Journalists walk behind parts of the Malaysia Airlines plane Flight MH17 as Dutch investigators (unseen) arrive near at the crash site near the Grabove village in eastern Ukraine on November 11, 2014 (AFP Photo)

Malaysia is the only country to have directly negotiated with the anti-Kiev militias in the East of Ukraine, while the country’s Ambassador to the Netherlands said he was unhappy that Malaysia had not been included within the JIT. Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte flew to Kuala Lumpur on November 5, but Malaysia says it still did not receive an invitation to join.
“We must first be included in the JIT, otherwise it would be hard for us to cooperate in the investigation. The parties inside the investigation must include us in the team, right now we are just a participant,” said the Malaysian Inspector-General of Police Khalid Abu Bakar in Kuala Lumpur on Wednesday, which was reported by the New Straits Times.
A preliminary report by the Dutch Safety Board, which was released September said the MH17 crash was a result of structural damage caused by a large number of high-energy objects that struck the Boeing from the outside.
Dutch investigators added that “there are no indications” that the tragedy was triggered “by a technical fault or by actions of the crew.”
RT

Book Review of Gilad Atzmon’s “The Wandering Who”

Book Review of Gilad Atzmon’s “The Wandering Who”

Elias Davidsson, November 16, 2011

A compendium to Mein Kampf

At the outset, the author, whose main qualities are neither modesty nor civility, makes sure to inform the reader about his courage and fame as a jazz saxophone player. His book, presented as an essay on Jewish identity politics, is essentially a fraud. The object of the book is to demonstrate the existence of a global Zionist network, that according to the author determines U.S. foreign and domestic policy, in short a network whose purpose and effect is world domination.

The author makes it clear at the outset that he rejects the view of Zionism as a national, colonial movement for a Jewish State in the Middle East. Under the subheading Zionism, a Global Network, he writes: “Zionism is not a colonial movement with an interest in Palestine, as some scholars suggest. Zionism is actually a global movement that is fuelled by a unique tribal solidarity of third category members (…) While in its early days, Zionism presents itself as an attempt to bring the world Jewry to Zion, in the last three decades it has become clear to the Zionist leadership that Israel would actually benefit from world Jewry, and especially the Jewish elite, staying exactly where they are.” (page 19). Adolf Hitler reveals a similar view in his book Mein Kampf: “For [a] while Zionists try to make the rest of the world believe that the national consciousness of the Jew finds its satisfaction in the creation of a Palestinian state, the Jews again slyly dupe the dumb “Goyim”. It doesn’t even enter their heads to build up a Jewish state in Palestine for the purpose of living there; all they want is a central organization for their international world swindle, endowed with its own sovereign rights and removed from the intervention of other states.” Hitler then goes on to describe the nefarious machinations of this Jewish world cabal.

Rejecting the common view of Zionism as a nationalist ideology, the author presents Zionism as a headless, amorphous “organismus” (German in the original): “It is more than likely that `Jews’ do not have a centre or headquarters. It is more than likely that they aren’t aware of their particular role within the entire system, the way an organ is not aware of its role within the complexity of the organism….Looking at Zionism as an organismus (sic) would lead to a major shift in our perspective of current world affairs.”(page 21). The author appears to have borrowed the German term organismus from Hitler, who used it in Mein Kampf to designate the organic nature of a state. Borrowing again from Mein Kampf, the author asks in all innocence: “How did America allow itself be ENSLAVED by ideologies inherently associated with foreign [Zionist] interests”? (page 26 – emphasis added). In Mein Kampf, Hitler repeatedly warned against the “enslavement” of the German nation by world Jewry.

The idea of a Zionist organismus or network appears widely throughout the book. Here another example: “Within the Zionist network there is no need for a lucid system of hegemony. In such a network, each element is complying with its role. And indeed the success of Zionism is that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.” (page 69) By such description, the author establishes the appearance of an amorphous but well synchronized functional entity that must necessarily possess a brain. Other would simply call it a secret organization.

The author reveals his desperate efforts to demonstrate the existence of such organismus and its responsibility for the initiation of wars of aggression when he arbitrarily selects three leading American Jews, Paul Wolfowitz, Scooter Libby and Alan Greenspan, to represent, as it were, this “collective functioning system”, or as he prefers to call it “third category brotherhood”, an expression that he equates with “racial solidarity” and with “Zionism” (page 21).

Ascribing perfidy to Wolfowitz and his friends, Iraqis are described by the author “as the victims of those third category INFILTRATORS within British and American administrations” (emphasis added). The Bush administration is said to have “complied” with Wolfowitz’s political philosophy (page 25), implying that he had the power to coerce the Bush administration, which duly “complied”. The author makes it clear that according to him the former two individuals are part of a group of Zionist infiltrators who are responsible for the Iraq war: “THEY planned to rob the Arab oil and to simultaneously `secure’ their beloved Jewish state.”(page 26 – emphasis added).

The author asks in what appears as contrived innocence: “How is it that America failed to restrain its Wolfowitzes? How is it that America let its foreign policy be shaped by some ruthless Zio[nist]-driven think tanks?”(page 27). But he does not provide an answer. Had he attempted to answer his own question, he would have had to inquire why the numerous American billionaires and board members of the largest US corporations, including Boeing, Enron, Halliburton, and IBM, did not oppose this alleged Zionist perfidy, if the Zionist plans were contrary to their interests. The inference left unexpressed by the author is, that absent Zionist infiltration, the US ruling circles would not have attacked Iraq (or Panama, or Grenada, or Afghanistan, or Libya) and that US imperialism is actually a Jewish enterprise.

A similar, yet somehow less successful effort, is undertaken by the author to impute to Alan Greenspan, former head of the Federal Reserve, a plan to manufacture the credit crunch and defraud the American people, in order to serve Israel. In order to emotionally prepare the reader for such insinuations, the author mentions, in passing, that Jewish bankers have had a “reputation” as “backers and financiers of wars and even [of] one communist revolution.”(page 27) This casual remark is clearly intended to suggest that Alan Greenspan – by virtue of his Jewish background – is also one of these perfidious bankers. After making these highly suggestive remarks regarding Alan Greenspan, but sensing the danger that readers might regard him as peddling the idea of a “Zionist plot or even a Jewish conspiracy” to defraud America, he says that the US credit crunch was after all nothing but “an accident”.(page 30)

Readers who have not read Atzmon’s writings before, might be surprised to discover that he spends inordinate efforts to discredit anti-Zionist leftist groups such as “Jews Against Zionism” and “Jews for Justice in Palestine”(page 62), i.e. groups who oppose Israeli policies and support Palestinian rights in the name of Jews. For him, such groups exemplify a pathological clinging to Jewish identity. The author takes issue with a long defunct Jewish organisation in Tsarist Russia, the Bund, which opposed Zionism and attempted to represent the interests of Jewish workers. Another defunct organisation that appears to greatly bother the author is the leftist, socialist Israeli organisation Matzpen, one of the first ones to oppose Zionism and the occupation of Palestinian lands. The author writes, under the sub-heading “Matzpen and Wolfowitz”: “For the Matzpenist, to liberate Arabs is to turn them into Bolsheviks; the neocon [who attacked Iraq] is actually slightly more modest – all he wants is for Arabs to drink their Coca-Cola in a Westernized democratic society” (page 108). Leaving aside the absurdity of the claim that Matzpen intended or had the capacity to “liberate Arabs” or turn them into Bolsheviks and that the primary aim of U.S. imperialists is to make Arabs drink Coca-Cola, he reveals hereby his deep hatred towards Jewish socialists and his shallow understanding of imperialism.

Not content to lambast Jewish socialists, the author cites approvingly Karl Marx who believed that “in order for the world to liberate itself from Capitalism it had better emancipate itself from the Jews.” (page 115) The author then writes: “Within the modern Jewish national and political context, Jews kill and rob…[T]he progressive Jew [robs] in the name of `Marx'”(page 123) For Adolf Hitler Marxism was actually a Jewish theory.

The reader will probably be shocked to discover that the author – who claims to support Palestinian rights – actually rejects the Universal Declaration of Human Rights because “it impedes an authentic moral exercise” and because it “fails to provide answers to some different questions that arise as we proceed in time and live through some dramatic changes.”(page 63) He does not explain what he means by these laconic statements and does not appear to base his opposition to racism and to Zionism on any normative ground.

While showing no interest for rights, norms or principles, the author displays a surprising interest in Holocaust Denial: “65 years after the liberation of Auschwitz, we (…) should ask for historical evidence and arguments rather than follow a religious narrative that is sustained by political pressure and laws.”(pages 174-175). He does not reveal what should be asked and why. Is the author doubting that Jews were industrially exterminated by the Nazis? Or does he believe that the Jews themselves organized the Holocaust? He also suggests that we ask “Why were the Jews hated” (page 174), leaving the reader to fill in the blanks. And lest we will not heed his advice, the author admonishes us that should we fail to ask the above questions “we will continue to kill in the name of Jewish suffering.”(page 176).

As these glimpses demonstrate, this is a book that deals primarily with the concept of a Jewish (or Zionist) global and omnipotent conspiracy, notwithstanding the author’s objection that there is no such conspiracy, because Jewish control is exercised openly. The German elite used successfully the deadly myth of a Jewish world conspiracy to divert anti-capitalist sentiment and prevented thereby a Socialist revolution. The price was paid by millions of deaths. This book might one day serve the same purpose for the U.S. elite, particularly as it is written by a bona fide Jew and Israeli. It purports to offer evidence that Israeli agents in the garb of American citizens had for decades manipulated and deceived patriotic Americans, politicians, public officials, journalists and others, to act against the interests of America. In that sense, this book represents a danger both to ordinary Jews and to those who oppose U.S. imperialism. The book is not recommended for the general public.

Aborted babies incinerated to heat UK hospitals

Aborted babies incinerated to heat UK hospitals

The remains of more than 15,000 babies were incinerated as ‘clinical waste’ by hospitals in Britain with some used in ‘waste to energy’ plants

By Sarah Knapton, Science Correspondent (sic)
The Telegraph 24 Mar 2014 [The article elicitied 1837 comments within 3 days]

The bodies of thousands of aborted and miscarried babies were incinerated as clinical waste, with some even used to heat hospitals, an investigation has found.

Ten NHS trusts have admitted burning foetal remains alongside other rubbish while two others used the bodies in ‘waste-to-energy’ plants which generate power for heat.

Last night the Department of Health issued an instant ban on the practice which health minister Dr Dan Poulter branded ‘totally unacceptable.’

At least 15,500 foetal remains were incinerated by 27 NHS trusts over the last two years alone, Channel 4’s Dispatches discovered.

The programme, which will air tonight, found that parents who lose children in early pregnancy were often treated without compassion and were not consulted about what they wanted to happen to the remains.

One of the country’s leading hospitals, Addenbrooke’s in Cambridge, incinerated 797 babies below 13 weeks gestation at their own ‘waste to energy’ plant. The mothers were told the remains had been ‘cremated.’

Another ‘waste to energy’ facility at Ipswich Hospital, operated by a private contractor, incinerated 1,101 foetal remains between 2011 and 2013.

They were brought in from another hospital before being burned, generating energy for the hospital site. Ipswich Hospital itself disposes of remains by cremation.

“This practice is totally unacceptable,” said Dr Poulter.

“While the vast majority of hospitals are acting in the appropriate way, that must be the case for all hospitals and the Human Tissue Authority has now been asked to ensure that it acts on this issue without delay.”

Sir Bruce Keogh, NHS Medical Director, has written to all NHS trusts to tell them the practice must stop.
The Chief Medical Officer, Dame Sally Davies, has also written to the Human Tissue Authority to ask them make sure that guidance is clear.

And the Care Quality Commission said it would investigate the programme’s findings.
Prof Sir Mike Richards, Chief Inspector of Hospitals, said: “I am disappointed trusts may not be informing or consulting women and their families.

“This breaches our standard on respecting and involving people who use services and I’m keen for Dispatches to share their evidence with us.

“We scrutinise information of concern and can inspect unannounced, if required.”

A total of one in seven pregnancies ends in a miscarriage, while NHS figures show there are around 4,000 stillbirths each year in the UK, or 11 each day.

Ipswich Hospital Trust said it was concerned to discover that foetal remains from another hospital had been incinerated on its site.

A spokeswoman said: “The Ipswich Hospital NHS Trust does not incinerate foetal remains.”
She added that the trust “takes great care over foetal remains”

A spokesman for the Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust said that trained health professionals discuss the options with parents ‘both verbally and in writing.’

“The parents are given exactly the same choice on the disposal of foetal remains as for a stillborn child and their personal wishes are respected,” they added.

Channel 4 Dispatches, Amanda Holden: Exposing Hospital Heartache, airs tonight (Monday March 24) at 8pm

Constructing the secret EU state: “Restricted” and “Limite” documents hidden from view by the Council

Constructing the secret EU state: “Restricted” and “Limite” documents hidden from view by the Council
http://www.statewatch.org/analyses/no-240-restricted-documents.pdf

– Over 117,000 “RESTRICTED” documents produced or handled by the Council since 2001 but only 13,184 are listed in its public register of documents

– 103,839 “RESTRICTED” documents not listed in the Council’s public register due to the “originators” right of veto?

– The Council seeks to stop the publication of unreleased “LIMITE” documents, which are defined as “sensitive unclassified documents”

– The Commission has failed to implement the Lisbon Treaty to ensure that all legislative documents are made public as they are produced  – this means that 60% of Council documents relating to legislative decision-making  are made public after “the final adoption” of measures

– The Council uses Article 4.3, the “space to think”, to refuse access to 50% of requests for access to legislative documents under discussion

Tony Bunyan, Statewatch Director, comments:

“The Council have constructed a two-tier system of secrecy to keep from public view thousands and thousands of documents. This has been compounded by the failure of the European Commission to put forward proposals to implement the provision in the Lisbon Treaty to make all documents concerning the legislative procedure public.

In place of the need to deepen democratic openness and accountability in EU the Council has entrenched a system of secrecy based on its discretion to decide whether and when to make documents public.

The result is that the European legislature – the Council of the European Union and the European Parliament – meet in secret trilogues to decide over 80% of new laws going through the EU.”

The Penalisation of Poverty and the Rise of Neo-Liberalism

Loïc Wacquant

The Penalisation of Poverty and the Rise of Neo-Liberalism

ABSTRACT.

This article explicates and extends the analyses put forth by the author in his book, Prisons of Poverty, which argues that the generalized increase of carceral populations in advanced societies is due to the growing use of the penal system as an instrument for managing social insecurity and containing the social disorders created at the bottom of the class structure by neoliberal policies of economic deregulation and social-welfare retrenchment. It retraces the steps whereby this “neoliberal penality” was elaborated in the United States and then diffused throughout the world, but contends that European countries are not blindly following the American road to mass imprisonment: Europe’s path to the penal state entails the conjoint intensification of both social and penal treatments of poverty and the activation of the policing functions of welfare services leading to a form of “social panoptism. ” Only the building of a Europe-wide social state can check the spread of the penalization of poverty and its deleterious social consequences.

KEY WORDS: penal state, neoliberalism, poverty, criminalisation, social policy, penal policy

Read the entire article here:

2940_penalispovertyneolib

NeoConOpticon: The EU Security-Industrial Complex

NeoConOpticon: The EU Security-Industrial Complex

Transnational Institute in Association with Statewatch, 2006

This report was produced by Ben Hayes for Statewatch and the Transnational Institute. Additional research was conducted by Max Rowlands and Fiona O’Malley of Statewatch, while Tony Bunyan and Trevor Hemmings (also Statewatch) provided a constant stream of invaluable comments, information and guidance (several sections also draw heavily on Tony Bunyan’s columns for the Guardian newspaper’s ‘Liberty Central’ website). The information and analysis provided by Frank Slijper (Dutch Campaign Against the Arms Trade and TNI), Matthias (from Gipfelsoli), and Kamil Mraijcek (ECCHR) was also invaluable, as was Thomas Mathiesen’s advice in respect to the variations on the ‘Panopticon’ discussed in this report.

In 2006, Statewatch and the Transnational Institute published Arming Big Brother, a briefing paper examining the development of the European Union’s Security Research Programme (ESRP). The ESRP is a seven year, €1.4 billion programme predicated on the need to deliver new security enhancing technologies to the Union’s member states in order to protect EU citizens from every conceivable threat to their security (understood here purely in terms of bodily safety).

The ESRP also has the explicit aim of fostering the growth of a lucrative and globally competitive ‘homeland security’ industry in Europe. To this end, a number of prominent European corporations from the defence and IT sectors have enjoyed unprecedented involvement in the development of the security ‘research’ agenda.

Arming Big Brother set out a number of concerns about the pending ESRP, including the implicit threat posed to civil liberties and fundamental rights by EU ‘research’ into surveillance and other security technologies. The report was also highly critical of the corporate influence on the EU security research programme and warned of various dangers in actively pursuing a ‘security-industrial complex’ in Europe.

This follow-up report contains new research showing how the European Security Research Programme continues to be shaped by prominent transnational defence and security corporations and other vested interests. Though technically a Research and Development (R&D) programme, the ESRP is heavily focused on the application of security technologies (rather than objective research per se ), and is increasingly aligned with EU policy in the fields of justice and home affairs (JHA, the ‘third pillar’), security and external defence (CFSP, the ‘second pillar’).

Governmental spending on products and services for homeland security should reach $141.6bn worldwide in 2009… The high priority given to homeland security has made that market one of the few recession-resistant sectors of the defence industry, some experts believe. (Visiongain Market Research, 2009 Global Homeland Security 2009-2019, ASD reports, see: http://www.asdreports.com/shopexd.asp?ID=1442)

Read the entire report:

2794_neoconopticon-report

U.S. Treatment of Homeless Persons Cruel, Inhuman and Degrading Say UN Experts

March 14, 2014

U.S. Treatment of Homeless Persons Cruel, Inhuman and Degrading Say UN Experts

Geneva, Switzerland – On Thursday, March 13, the U.N. Human Rights Committee reviewed U.S. compliance with a major human rights treaty, raising concerns of cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment for the practice of criminalizing homeless people for performing necessary life functions such as sleeping and eating in public when they have no private alternatives.
 
The criminalization of homelessness in the U.S. is documented in a report, Cruel, Inhuman, and Degrading: Homelessness in the United States Under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, submitted to the Committee by the National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty (“NLCHP”) and the Allard K. Lowenstein Human Rights Clinic at Yale Law School.

The U.S. review, which takes place periodically under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (the last review was in 2006), follows a U.S. report to the Committee, submitted on December 30, 2011.

“I appreciate that the federal government is acknowledging that the criminalization of people living on the street for everyday life activities, such as eating, sleeping, sitting in particular areas…raises serious human rights concerns…,” said Walter Kaelin, a Swiss member of the Committee, “There are ample reports about how criminalization of the homeless is discriminatory; how, as stressed by several UN Special Rapporteurs, and also federal agencies, how such instances of criminalization often raises concerns of cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment.”

Kaelin continued with specific questions, “Do you already provide, or do you plan to provide incentives for decriminalization? Do you plan to withdraw funding for local authorities that continue to criminalize the homeless in a discriminatory way, in a way that may amount to inhuman treatment, degrading treatment? Do you plan to sanction criminalization policies, or are your activities really limited just in sensitizing local authorities, something very important, but probably not sufficient.”

Rather than responding to the specific questions, Kevin Washburn, Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs, US Department of the Interior, responded with a general list of issues being worked on by the US Interagency Council on Homelessness, including efforts to encourage cities not to criminalize homelessness, exactly the sort of efforts the Committee said were “important, but not sufficient”.

“The U.S. government knew these topics would be on the Committee’s agenda since last March, when they put it on their list of issues for discussion, and last July, we held a meeting to discuss specific recommendations for action,” said Jeremy Rosen, Policy Director at NLCHP, in Geneva for the review. “The lack of specificity in the government’s response is pretty disappointing.”

Salt Lake City Mayor Ralph Becker continued on behalf of the U.S. delegation by explaining his city’s more constructive approach of providing housing rather than criminalizing, which has led to a 75% decline in chronic homelessness in the state. The mayor said this makes him “surprised when he hears homeless even in the same breath as criminalization.”

However, as documented in the report submitted to the Committee by NLCHP , Cruel, Inhuman, and Degrading: Homelessness in the United States Under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights-one of the “ample reports” of criminalization to which Kaelin referred-the approach demonstrated by Salt Lake City is far from universally implemented.

“As homelessness becomes more visible in American communities, some, like Salt Lake City, have made generally positive responses,” said Mr. Rosen. “Unfortunately, we’ve also seen an increase in communities passing ordinances banning camping or sleeping outdoors, despite providing no alternative, forcing people to make the cruel choice between sleep and being arrested.”

“Sleep deprivation and hunger are widely recognized as techniques that are cruel, inhuman and degrading when used against prisoners. It shouldn’t matter if the prison is bricks and mortar, or one of economic policies and draconian ordinances,” said Eric Tars, Director of Human Rights and Children’s Rights Programs at NLCHP. “As Committee Member Kaelin stated, the federal action on this issue so far is ‘not sufficient,’ and our government must do more to protect homeless people from these policies.”

“We expected more concrete responses from the federal government at this review,” Maria Foscarinis, Executive Director at NLCHP, concluded. “But we look forward to working with the government on additional-and stronger– measures in response to the concerns and questions raised by the Committee.”

The Committee will issue its final recommendations to the U.S. government, called Concluding Observations, on March 26.  
 
###

Maidan snipers: who did or did not know? Everybody knew!

http://vineyardsaker.blogspot.no/2014/03/maidan-snipers-who-did-or-did-not-know.html
WEDNESDAY, MARCH 5, 2014

Maidan snipers: who did or did not know? Everybody knew!

So this morning we have a “revelation” EU officials are discussing the reports that the Maidan snipers were not sent by Yanukovich but that they were insurgents firing on both sides.

Immense surprise everywhere!

Well, a few “minor fringe proponents of conspiracy theories” did mention something like that, but for the “proper and rational people” (the folks who watch TV and read the corporate media) this is a big surprise.

Might make you wonder who really did know about this.

I can tell you.  I have seen it happening many years ago, in the wars in Croatia, Bosnia and Kosovo.  Here is how this works:

How does intelligence work?

One good model of how intelligence works are the “three As”: Acquisition, Analysis and Acceptance.  Let’s look at them one by one:

Acquisition: this is the collection or raw data which includes translations of the world and, importantly, local press, and all other types of “open sources” such as blogs, magazines, press conferences and releases, official news bulletins etc.  The next level is are the proprietary but not formally classified sources.  Think tank reports, banking documents, commercial documents, corporate memoranda, etc.  Then comes the level in which sources, methods and means must be protected and concealed from public view: informal conversations with officials, radio intercepts, conversations with bankers, with transportation officials (trucks, trains, airlines, shipping), reports from political and military attaches and exchanges with other intelligence services.  Actual “spying” or HUMINT also contributes to this level.  All these multi-level sources provide simultaneous provide raw data which is then analyzed on the next level:

Analysis: first, the data is usually classified by some source of system which gives a rating on a) the source itself (reliable? trustworthy?) and then b) on the information received (corroborated? credible?).  The information is then passed on to the next level analyst who will process it and make a synthesis of his/her main finding for his/her department head (by regions or specialization). These guys then go over the findings and present typically present them in an inter-departmental meeting which then is submitted to the next level.

Acceptance: this is a crucial level because the folks getting the processed information from the analytical section are already not intelligence specialists, but generals (this is a political rank, really), politicians, government officials, etc.  They make the key judgment call as to what to do with the info they get.  They also get to express their satisfaction, or lack thereof, with the intelligence they get and that, in turn, has a direct career impact upon the senior department heads in charge of analysis.  In pain English this means that the top analysts take a big risk if they pass on “politically incorrect” or, rather, “politically unwanted” information up the chain of command.  They, in turn, will whether consciously or unconsciously promote those analysts to do not put them in this difficult situation.

This system works pretty well when dealing with low-visibility or politically neutral or minor issues.  But when a government places its full weight behind “theory A” this system often breaks down and begins sending up the chain of command information which will not result in career loss.  “Theory B” rapidly disappears.

The example of Bosnia:

I can personally attest to the fact that the vast majority of sources did report that the so-called “UN Safe Areas” in Bosnia, which were supposed to be entirely demilitarized, were chock full of Bosnian-Muslim forces and that most of them actually hosted a full Army Corps.  Likewise, everybody knew that the US and Turkey were flying in weapons and dropping them in huge amounts in the Bosnian-Muslim controlled areas.  Furthermore, most analysts were also aware the the bombings of the Markale Market were not committed by Serb, but by unknown individuals shooting from Bosnian-Muslim areas.  In my experience this information was, however, usually simply ignored at the level of department heads.  It was not denied, mind you, and in private conversations all the department heads knew about it, but that is where it stopped.  The pretext?  Always the same one: “it’s a rumor and a detail, not really relevant for the overall picture”.  Nevermind that it came in from all sources, including high rated ones, and nevermind that this info was corroborated many times over.  And nevermind that it paints a totally different picture of a false flag operation which resulted in the US and NATO getting militarily involved.

Then, those who organized the false flag operation in the first place will use their contacts in the corporate media to leak the info. At this point of the big and “reputable” media outlets will quote each other and literally bounce that story off each other, sometimes add a few “details” (aka complete fabrications) or pure speculations (really spins) to the story.  At which point all the politicians are presented with a mass media which literally screams “the world is flat!  the world is flat!” and a few highly classified reports which, at best, report that “some sources claim the world is round”.  Guess with whom the politicians will go?

Back to the Maidan snipers intercept

Now listen carefully to Ashton’s reaction to  news about the insurgent snipers:

“I think that they do want to investigate, gosh!”

What?!  Is she seriously suggesting that the new regime, which came to power courtesy of these snipers, will actually investigate itself?  Is she that dumb?  Of course not!  But she is annoyed by this topic so she just tosses in a simple cop-out which basically means “I am not interested, let the Ukies handle it” (knowing full well that they won’t).

Paet, by the way, immediately get the message and gives a new spin to his previous remark: he mentioned this info not because he is outraged, no, only because if this story takes on its own life this “will discredit the new coalition”. Oh how nice of him, he worries that if the truth comes out the Eurofascists will be embarrassed.  Next time, he won’t even bring it up.  Those central European politicians sure learn fast from their western masters.

But Ashton is not even happy with that, she wants to change the topic, and begins making general pious statements about how it is important that the Rada work well.

End of topic, turn the page, next!

This is how it’s done.  I know. I lost my career over something like that.

As for the media, it is even worse.

There are two types of reporters in a conflict zone:

Type A: never leaves his fortified bunker/hotel and only attends the briefing of whichever side he is with.  Then he sends reports back home claiming that these reports come “from the battle zone”.  He could get the same reports by videoconference sitting at home, but nevermind.

Type B: that is the true frontline reporter.  He does run around under bullets, he interviews local commanders, often on both sides, he spends nights drinking cheap booze with local mafia men or mercenaries and he is often very, very well informed.  In fact, his reports are often used by intelligence services (whether by agreement or by other methods).

Type A just parrots whatever he hears.  The problem with type B is that while he is typically very well informed, he also is typically highly partisan to one side or the other.  If he “turns local” and begins to have sympathies with the ‘bad guys’ he soon as to find new employers,  usually smaller magazines and newspapers, or his career ends.  But if he is on the side of the “good guys” (Empire puppets) then he often sees his role as a participant in the war.  He hates the other side and will use his audience to trash it as much as can be.  Bottom line: even if some reporters are very well informed, the system is such that their reports usually get buried in the small or local media.

There is one exception to this rule: specialized magazines.  During the war in Bosnia you could get far better information from magazines like the US Army’s Parameters, the USN Proceedings or the Reports of the US Military Studies Office or the Occasional Papers of the Royal Military Academy at Sandhurst, than from the Washington Post or the Wall Street Journal.  This applies to non-English speaking countries too: France, Belgium, Russia, Brazil – they all have their specialized magazines which often are far better informed that the big press.

What does this all mean for you?

What this all means is that the information you are getting from your politicians or the corporate media is at best useless, and typically deliberate fabrications.  There is only one thing you can do about it: throw away your TV, throw away your radio, don’t ever read the papers and basically cut off your brain form the sewage flow.  The next step is to get your info only on the Internet, preferably from “non-major” sources including: local media websites (by local I mean “local to the conflict area”), blogs, discussion groups, specialized and professional websites.

True, there is a lot of garbage on the Internet, so you need to do the same thing as analysts do: begin by rating your sources and then reply mostly on those you trust.  Likewise, you can also begin by rating the information itself.  Language can be a problem, but then built for yourself a list of sources which you trust and which know the local language.

And did you know that it is estimated that 80% of all the information used by a government is “open source” – available to the general public.  As for the 20% of it, it is mostly boring technical stuff of stuff which will become public after a while and but which is critical now.  Not stuff you are ever going to need.

This is not as hard as it seems and most of us doing something similar instinctively.  With a little time and effort cutting yourself totally away from the corporate media and switching to an Internet based selection of sources you trust will give you a totally different view of the world.  If you are then later exposed to the corporate media you will be amazed by the nonsense you hear and you will wonder what the hell they are talking about on the Idiot Tube.  It’s quite fun, really.  Or very discouraging.  Or both.

The exception:

There is one exception to this rule: the new big media which has appeared in recent years to present an anti-CNN option for the world.  First, al-Jazeera, the Russia Today, Telemundo, Press TV, etc.  They have vested interest in debunking the Imperial lies and in presenting the true facts.  However, the example of al-Jazeera which almost suddenly became a propaganda tool during the war on Libya should make us cautious and careful and always keep a eye on whether any of these Internet TV are becoming yet another propaganda tool.

Conclusion:

This sniper business is going nowhere.  Everybody knows about it, and nobody cares.  Just like everybody knows that the Right Sector and Svoboda are neo-Nazi parties, just like everybody knows that the new regime is illegal, illegitimate and that it came to power by deceit and by violence.  Everybody knows and nobody cares as long as “our SOBs win”.  So use this opportunity to “retaliate” against the plutocracy which controls the entire informational space except the Internet and reject their sources.  All of them.

Kind regards and many thanks,

The Saker

Western spy agencies build ‘cyber magicians’ to manipulate online discourse

http://rt.com/news/five-eyes-online-manipulation-deception-564/

Western spy agencies build ‘cyber magicians’ to manipulate online discourse

Published time: February 25, 2014 03:40

Satellite dishes are seen at GCHQ’s outpost at Bude, close to where trans-Atlantic fibre-optic cables come ashore in Cornwall, southwest England (Reuters/Kieran Doherty)

Secret units within the ‘Five Eyes” global spying network engage in covert online operations that aim to invade, deceive, and control online communities and individuals through the spread of false information and use of ingenious social-science tactics.

Such teams of highly trained professionals have several main objectives, such as “to inject all sorts of false material onto the internet” and “to use social sciences and other techniques to manipulate online discourse and activism to generate outcomes it considers desirable,” The Intercept’s Glenn Greenwald reported based on intelligence documents leaked by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.

The new information comes via a document from the Joint Threat Research Intelligence Group (JTRIG) of Britain’s Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ), entitled ‘The Art of Deception: Training for Online Covert Operations,’ which is top secret and only for dissemination within the Five Eyes intelligence partnership that includes Britain, the US, Australia, Canada, and New Zealand.

Image from firstlook.org

The document outlines what tactics are used to achieve JTRIG’s main objectives. Among those tactics that seek to “discredit a target” include “false flag operations” (posting material online that is falsely attributed to a target), fake victim blog posts (writing as a victim of a target to disseminate false information), and posting “negative information” wherever pertinent online.

Other discrediting tactics used against individuals include setting a “honey-trap” (using sex to lure targets into compromising situations), changing a target’s photo on a social media site, and emailing or texting “colleagues, neighbours, friends etc.”

To “discredit a company,” GCHQ may “leak confidential information to companies/the press via blog…post negative information on appropriate forums [or] stop deals/ruin business relationships.”

JTRIG’s ultimate purpose, as defined by GCHQ in the document, is to use “online techniques to make something happen in the real world or cyber world.” These online covert actions follow the “4 D’s:” deny, disrupt, degrade, deceive.

Image from firstlook.org

As Greenwald pointed out, the tactics employed by JTRIG are not used for spying on other nations, militaries, or intelligence services, but for “traditional law enforcement” against those merely suspected of crimes. These targets can include members of Anonymous, “hacktivists,” or really any person or entity GCHQ deems worthy of antagonizing.

“[I]t is not difficult to see how dangerous it is to have secret government agencies being able to target any individuals they want – who have never been charged with, let alone convicted of, any crimes – with these sorts of online, deception-based tactics of reputation destruction and disruption,” Greenwald wrote.

In addition, the targets do not need to have ties to terror activity or pose any national security threat. More likely, targets seem to fall closer to political activists that may have, for instance, used “denial of service” tactics, popular with Anonymous and hacktivists, which usually do only a limited amount of damage to a target.

Image from firstlook.org

“These surveillance agencies have vested themselves with the power to deliberately ruin people’s reputations and disrupt their online political activity even though they’ve been charged with no crimes, and even though their actions have no conceivable connection to terrorism or even national security threats,” Greenwald wrote.

In addition to the personal attacks on targets, JTRIG also involves the use of psychological and social-science tactics to steer online activism and discourse. The document details GCHQ’s “Human Science Operations Cell,” which focuses on “online human intelligence” and “strategic influence and disruption” that are used to dissect how targets can be manipulated using “leaders,” “trust,” “obedience,” and “compliance.”

Using tested manipulation tactics, JTRIG attempts to influence discourse and ultimately sow discord through deception.

When reached for comment by The Intercept, GCHQ avoided answering pointed questions on JTRIG while insisting its methods were legal.

“It is a longstanding policy that we do not comment on intelligence matters. Furthermore, all of GCHQ’s work is carried out in accordance with a strict legal and policy framework which ensures that our activities are authorized, necessary and proportionate, and that there is rigorous oversight, including from the Secretary of State, the Interception and Intelligence Services Commissioners and the Parliamentary Intelligence and Security Committee. All our operational processes rigorously support this position,” GCHQ stated.

 

Surveilling UK Muslims ‘cradle to grave’

http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/features/2014/02/surveilling-uk-muslims-cradle-grave-201422575943406757.html

Surveilling UK Muslims ‘cradle to grave’

New report details ‘McCarthy-like’ police surveillance and discrimination against the Muslim community
Simon Hooper – 26 Feb 2014 12:21
 
London, United Kingdom – Muhammad still does not know for sure why British counter-terrorism police came to the door of his east London home shortly before dawn one morning in March 2012.

It was 5:30am on the day of Muhammad and his wife’s third wedding anniversary. The couple’s two young children were sleeping in their cots, and his elderly parents were also visiting.

“My mum woke me up, saying: ‘There are police at the door. Get up! Get up!’ My wife grabbed her headscarf and we all went into the living room,” Muhammad told Al Jazeera, requesting only his first name be used for legal reasons.

“I counted 12 police officers in there and there were others lurking in the other rooms. They said they had a warrant to raid my house and my car.”

As police searched the property, Muhammad’s father suffered a heart attack. An ambulance was called to take him to hospital. The police eventually left at 2am the following morning, taking with them money, documents, electrical equipment, phones and Muhammad’s passport.

Muhammad, a British-born Muslim of Bangladeshi origin in his late 20s, was not arrested, detained or questioned as a result of the raid. His father made a full recovery. But the incident has turned his life upside down.

He has subsequently been routinely stopped and questioned at airports under Schedule Seven counter-terrorism powers, making his work as a guide escorting British pilgrims to Saudi Arabia on Hajj increasingly untenable. In October last year he said he was held for 26 hours at Riyadh airport before being deported back to the UK without explanation.

Pressure to inform

Last August, he was invited to visit a London police station to collect the belongings and money seized from his house almost a year and a half earlier.

“Two officers from SO15 [the London Metropolitan Police’s counter-terrorism unit] were waiting for me. You know they play good cop, bad cop? Well, that day they were both playing good cop, just chatting about stuff. As I was going to walk out they said: ‘Hold on, there’s someone that quickly needs to speak to you.'”

Muhammad was shown into a room where two men he said he believes worked for MI5, the UK’s internal security service, were waiting. He said they put him under pressure and offered him incentives to inform for them.

“They asked me about my friends, about Syria, stuff like that. They said they believed there were people who wanted to come back and cause mayhem in the UK. I said I had no intention of going to Syria. They gave me a phone number and told me to call if I heard anything.”

Muhammad’s story, according to the civil liberties group CAGE, is merely one case demonstrating how many British Muslims are becoming ensnared by increasingly intrusive and illiberal counter-terrorism policies targeting those deemed to be “extreme” in their faith.

In a report published this month into the UK government’s Prevent counter-terrorism strategy, CAGE warned that Muslim communities were being subjected to “cradle-to-grave” levels of surveillance and discrimination that go beyond the policies used against suspected communist sympathisers in the United States at the height of the Cold War.

It highlighted how Prevent had put mosques, Muslim institutions and charities under scrutiny and how public officials, including teachers, lecturers, chaplains and healthcare workers, were being urged to inform on schoolchildren, students and patients deemed to be at risk of radicalisation.

CAGE’s director is Moazzam Begg, who was arrested on Tuesday for alleged terrorism offences related to Syria.

The former Guantanamo Bay detainee was captured in Pakistan in 2002 by US forces. He was released from the American prison camp in Cuba in 2005 without ever being charged.

In December Begg wrote about how he had been continually harassed by the British government and members of its security services and had his passport confiscated because of his investigations into British complicity in rendition, and because of his work supporting humanitarian-aid efforts for Syria.

In a statement CAGE said it was “outraged” by the detention.

“We do not accept involvement by Moazzam Begg in any form of terrorism,” it said. “He is simply one of many individuals and charities involved in Syria being viewed with suspicion in an effort to send a message to the wider Muslim community that working in Syria is no go area for them.”

‘Deprogramming’

The CAGE report highlighted the case of a nine-year-old boy alleged to have shown signs of extremism who was referred to authorities for “deprogramming”. Police figures show a steady increase in referrals among young people, with 748 referred for assessment in 2012-2013, compared with 580 a year earlier and more than 2,600 in total since 2006.

In other cases, youth groups and mental health projects aimed at Muslim communities found that access to public funding was conditional on sharing data and information with law enforcement agencies, while university Islamic societies have faced pressure to hand over membership lists and other data to counter-terrorism police.

“There has been nothing like the Prevent policy since the McCarthy era, but Prevent goes a lot further; it goes into every aspect of Muslim life,” Jahangir Mohammad, the co-author of the report, told Al Jazeera. “Prevent has created a climate of fear and alienation in the Muslim community. People feel they can’t challenge this stuff and they don’t have any rights.”

Yet recent proposals to further toughen the UK’s counter-terrorism laws in the aftermath of the killing of British soldier Lee Rigby last May, and amid current concerns over the security risk posed by British Muslims travelling to Syria, could make Prevent even more draconian.

In December, Theresa May, the British home secretary, announced plans to introduce legislation that would place the policy on a statutory footing. While local authorities, mosques, universities and other institutions are currently under no legal obligation to cooperate with Prevent, such a move would force them to do so by law.

Critics argue the government’s efforts to enshrine Prevent in law are driven by a neo-conservative ideology that conflates conservative interpretations of Islam with a heightened risk of violent radicalisation.

“Teachers, doctors, police officers, civil servants and local government officers are effectively being trained and indoctrinated with a politicised understanding of Islam,” the CAGE report states. “It is a policy to silence Muslims and pacify/de-politicise their faith. In short, it criminalises political dissent or alternative political thought.”

Alienation

Many of those on the sharp end of Prevent measures believe the policy has already proved counter-productive by alienating, rather than engaging, Muslim communities.

Shakur Rahman, an imam at the Redbridge Islamic Centre in east London, told Al Jazeera that he and other mosque officials had been regularly visited by Prevent officers voicing concerns about invited speakers and other events.

“We have people claiming to be Special Branch [SO15] coming in and demanding a meeting with the imam and saying: ‘If you do not comply we are going to make your life difficult,'” Rahman said.

“The implication is: ‘We are watching you. We have got our eye on you and we are going to be keeping our ears to the ground.’ Then you find certain people coming along to the community and asking strange questions. They turn up every now and then and then they disappear.

“We know, as every imam knows, that if you say something which they do not like you could be raided that night. They are creating that fear so that we are afraid to speak about fundamental issues that pertain to our community. If the whole strategy of Prevent is to minimise problems in the community then it is doing the exact opposite.”

Al Jazeera contacted the London Borough of Redbridge’s Prevent officer but she declined to comment. A spokesperson for the council said queries regarding Prevent should be directed to the Home Office.

A Home Office spokesperson told Al Jazeera: “Our Prevent strategy challenges extremist ideology, helps protect institutions from extremists, and tackles the radicalisation of vulnerable people.

“We work closely with local authorities to engage with faith institutions, civil society groups and other organisations and ensure they have the support and advice they need. We are also giving additional support to local communities on the frontline of tackling extremism by supporting integration projects and setting up a dedicated public communications platform.”

It’s UK government policy for spokespeople not to be named.

Under watch

The only reason that Muhammad can think of to explain why the police raided his home is that he had been collecting money for a Syrian aid appeal outside his local mosque the previous Friday.

“There was a group of brothers and they asked me to hold a tin for them,” he recalled. “Maybe MI5 was watching someone at the mosque and I was with that person and that’s how I got dragged in. The raid has made me fearful of going to mosques. I think, what if I go and it makes the situation worse?”

Muhammad is convinced he is still under surveillance. He has started wearing casual clothes rather than traditional Islamic dress to avoid drawing attention to himself. He often gets unknown calls on his phone, but the line is silent when he answers.

“Even when I came here tonight [for the interview] I saw a car parked up. You can tell what police look like when they are undercover. I have MI5 on my back, I have SO15 taking my stuff, and I am fearful. There is a question mark at the end of this because I don’t know what is going to happen to me.”

Follow Simon Hooper on Twitter: @simonbhooper

Criticizing Patriot Act Lands Manlin Chee, Asian American Lawyer, in Jail

Criticizing Patriot Act Lands Manlin Chee, Asian American Lawyer, in Jail

News Report, Yu-Yee Wu,
Asian Week, Jun 29, 2005

Having spent almost three decades offering legal service to immigrants, Chinese American immigration attorney Manlin Chee is now getting used to serving time instead.

 Chee had been a nationally recognized lawyer for her work with immigrants, some of it pro bono, and much of it for Muslims, but things soured for her soon after she appeared on a panel discussing the PATRIOT Act in March 2003.

 The public forum at the main library in Greensboro, North Carolina was televised and attracted a large audience. Chee argued passionately that the PATRIOT Act violated the Bill of Rights and threatened the civil rights of immigrants and U.S. citizens.

I’ll never forget when Manlin joked that she had good news and bad news for the audience,” recalls Tim Hopkins, an attendee. “She said that the bad news is that those people taking pictures of the audience are from the FBI. The good news is that they are coming after the panelists first. It was prophetic.”

 Indeed, within weeks the FBI began investigating Chee, says her attorney Locke Clifford. Clifford says the FBI had no record of complaints against her. But the agency began combing through thousands of Chee’s case files. They even went back to her own citizenship application. The agents interviewed her clients and employees for over a year, until they indicted Chee for immigration fraud on June 26, 2004.

 It was a dramatic fall for the successful attorney who once had offices in three cities and thousands of clients. The American Bar Association awarded Chee its public service award in 1991, which was presented to her by U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor. She also received the 1990 William L. Thorp Pro Bono Award by the North Carolina Bar Association. The Triad Business News called her “one of the foremost immigration attorneys in North Carolina if not the country.”

 Many think that it was her political views that caused Chee’s troubles.

“She was outspoken about the impact of the PATRIOT Act on the Muslim community and American citizens,” says Badi Ali, President of the Islamic Center of the Triad and Muslims for a Better North Carolina. Chee also demonstrated her support of the Muslim community by wearing Muslim garb on Fridays, says Chee’s youngest daughter, Leia Forgay. Forgay says it was symbolic. “She was letting people know that she will stand with them figuratively and literally.”

 However, fellow Greensboro immigration attorney, Gerry Chapman, questions whether Chee was targeted for her views. “There are attorneys in North Carolina who have spoken out against the PATRIOT Act and against targeting of Muslims, and the vast majority of them have not been investigated and indicted.” He adds that he thinks Chee overextended herself. “Manlin’s got a good heart, but she was trying to do too much for too many people.”

Attorney Anita Earls, director of Advocacy of the University of North Carolina Center for Civil Rights in Chapel Hill, points out that other immigration attorneys have engaged in worse practices… and they were not investigated. She believes Chee was “singled out because of a combination of the clients she served and the fact that she was outspoken in her opposition to the war.”

The FBI’s strongest evidence came from two sting operations, the first one within weeks after Chee had participated in the PATRIOT Act forum, says Clifford. The informants posed as needy Muslims. One informant wanted to pretend he was gay so he could seek asylum, and the other informant wanted a sham marriage to get his green card. Chee was indicted for filing papers on behalf of both.

According to Forgay, the informants wouldn’t stop asking for Chee’s help: “My mom told them that there’s nothing I can do, but they kept coming back to her and she couldn’t say no. She always tries to help… she went ahead and submitted the papers to try. She would feel worse if she didn’t try.”

Chee’s former client and good friend, Melinda Macasero agrees. “Manlin had a hard time when she first came to the U. S., so she knows how hard it can be,” Macasero says. “If you’re an immigrant and you’re a client of hers, she would go the extra mile to help.”

Says Clifford, “Manlin never said no to anybody and the FBI probably said to themselves that if we run someone in there with a sad story, Manlin will probably take the bait.”

Chee now admits she was “foolish” for succumbing to the sham entreaties. She describes one informant as being “intimidating,” constantly calling, going to her office, and badgering her when she avoided filing the papers for months. Feeling “pushed” and suffering from an anxiety disorder, Chee finally relented under the pressure.

“Manlin did have some depression,” says her close friend, Amelia Leung. “Her mental health does affect her sense of judgment sometimes.”

During Chee’s prosecution, a diverse group of community members rallied around her and formed the Manlin Chee Defense Committee, taking out a full-page ad in the local paper in her support (see sidebar). Notably missing, however, was a public outcry from the local Chinese community.

Meiling Yu, cultural promotion director of the Greensboro Chinese Association, says her organization just didn’t know enough. “Because the charges are about her practice, which we are not familiar with, we didn’t feel we had enough information to speak out in support of her.” She notes the impression that Chee was targeted for her outspokenness, but as a nonprofit, they did not feel they could make a political statement.

“I can understand why they wouldn’t speak out,” says Macasero. “You are dealing with the government, and [people] are afraid they are going to get in trouble.”

Ultimately, Chee pleaded guilty to the charges from the stings. Her daughter Leia, insists Chee pleaded guilty to keep her family together. The FBI had also indicted and charged Chee’s oldest daughter, Chernlian, because she was a paralegal in Chee’s office. Chernlian, who has an upcoming wedding, decided to cooperate with the prosecution: She would get probation if she pleaded guilty, but she would have to testify against her mother.

The anger in Leia’s voice is palpable when she discusses the effect of her sister’s decision. “My mom did the selfless thing and pleaded guilty to keep our family from tearing apart because she felt that this was a time when we needed to stick together…. The hardest thing is not living without my mom, but living with the tension in the house because of my older sister and what happened.”

Chee, however, fought all charges involving her work for real clients. Calling those charges “horsefeathers,” Chee states, “I would rather rot in jail than to plead to charges where I prepared documents like every other lawyer in the country.” Immigration expert Ira Kurzban agreed, testifying at Chee’s sentencing hearing that her labor certification filings were like those of other attorneys.

Chee never went to trial. The federal prosecutor suddenly dropped all remaining charges against her, after she decided to plead guilty. On March 3, 2005, Judge James A. Beaty sentenced Chee to a year and a day in prison beginning April 22 at Alderson Federal Prison Camp in West Virginia, better known as Martha Stewart’s prison. Chee will be unable to attend her daughter Chernlian’s wedding in September.

A former U. S. Dept. of Justice Civil Rights attorney, Earls believes the government was making an example of Chee.

“The U. S. Attorney’s office was certainly trying to send a message,” she says. “Bringing down someone who previously had a strong reputation as an aggressive advocate is much more attractive to the U. S. Attorney’s office than someone who doesn’t aggressively stand up for immigrant rights.”

Chee has been on disability inactive status since April 2004 with the State Bar of North Carolina due to her mental health issues and cannot practice law. However, her youngest daughter, Leia, seems fiercely determined to take up her mother’s torch and fight for the rights of immigrants. “Immigrants are often neglected in the law and in the community,” Forgay observes. “You can’t just leave out certain groups just because there are tensions with their community.”

The sixteen-year-old admits that previously, she did not want to be a lawyer because she hardly saw her mother, who was working all the time. Forgay has changed her mind. “Now, after seeing what happened to my mom, they may be able to stop her, but they can’t stop me from helping people who need it.”

Manlin Chee’s Struggle

March 2003

* Manlin Chee criticizes the government at a public forum in Greensboro, North Carolina.

* Undercover FBI agent, John Doe I, appears at Chee’s office seeking assistance for a sham marriage and begins taping conversations.

May 2003

* A second undercover FBI agent, John Doe II, seeks Chee’s help for asylum and begins taping conversations.

September 2003

* Chee begins receiving calls from clients who say that they are being interviewed by the FBI.

* She retains Locke Clifford as her attorney.

October 2003

* Clifford writes a letter to the U. S. Attorney’s office about the investigation and informing them that due to mental health issues, Chee has been planning to close her law practice.

Late October/Early November 2003

* Chee and daughter Chernlian receive “target” of investigation letters from the FBI.

* Chee’s office manager also receives a “subject” of an investigation letter.

November 2003

* Clifford meets with the U. S. attorney. He is told the investigations are not yet complete.

February 2004

* Clifford asks if Chee can go to Singapore to see her gravely ill mother and her sister who just gave birth. U.S. Attorney’s office approves.

Early March 2004

* Chee leaves for Singapore.

Late April 2004

* Clifford calls her in Singapore to return immediately for indictment. Chee rushes back to the United States but is not indicted.

* Chee goes on disability inactive status with the North Carolina State Bar.

Mid-May 2004

* Clifford again asks the prosecutor when the indictments will come down, and is told the government is still investigating. He is given assurance that Chee and her daughter, Chernlian, will be allowed to present themselves to authorities without being taken into custody, and released without bond.

Early June 2004

* Chee’s mother’s health worsens and Chee returns to Singapore. Chee’s mother dies within hours of Chee’s arrival.

Late June 2004

* Chee and her daughter, Chernlian, are indicted. Without prior notice, federal officers arrive at Chee’s home before 7:30 a. m. and take Chernlian into custody, handcuffing her and keeping her until she is able to contact her attorney.

* Chee’s attorney calls her in Singapore to tell her to return for the indictments. Chee is unable to catch a flight back due to the summer season rush, tries to go stand-by, but does not get a seat. The government threatens extradition proceedings.

September 8, 2004

* Chee returns to the United States as scheduled, landing at San Francisco International Airport. She is met at the gate, handcuffed and taken into custody.

September 9, 2004

* Chee returns to Greensboro, North Carolina.

November 22, 2004

* Chernlian, agrees to plea deal in exchange for testimony against he mother.

* Chee gives notice that she will voluntarily change her plea to guilty for the charges involving only the sting informants.

November 23, 2004

* Before Federal Judge James A. Beaty in the U. S. District Court in Winston-Salem, U.S. Attorney’s office voluntarily drops all remaining charges.

March 2-3, 2005

* Chee appears for the sentencing hearing. Ira Kurzban and a witness from the North Carolina Dept. of Labor verify Chee’s legal work as acceptable and following legal practice norms. Under federal sentencing reduction guidelines Chee’s term will be about 10 months.

April 22, 2005

* Chee reports to Alderson Federal Prison Camp in Alderson, West Virginia.

The Freedom Archives
522 Valencia Street
San Francisco, CA 94110
(415) 863-9977
www.freedomarchives.org

 

Truth – Justice – Peace