Snowden archives at great risk — As alarming as Assange's arrest

 

Justice Integrity Project Editor's Introduction: Guest columnists Cathleen McGuire and her twin sister Colleen McGuire address below the vital and timely topic of recent controversy between leading investigative reporters regarding the fate of the massive archive of classified U.S. national security documents stolen in 2013 by former NSA and CIA whistleblower Edward Snowden.

Snowden worked initially with freelance journalists Laura Poitras and Glenn Greenwald, who published blockbuster stories (most notably via The Guardian and the Washington Post) disclosing massive secret surveillance by U.S. intelligence services such as the NSA (National Security Agency), which had hired Snowden as a Booz Allen Hamilton contractor after his previous work at NSA and the CIA.

Edward SnowdenIn early June 2013, the first stories based on Snowden's huge trove of documents revealed the massive complicity of major U.S. communications companies in warrantless surveillances of Americans and others. NSA's charter supposedly prevented surveillance of Americans except incidentally via surveillance of foreigners or via probable cause documented in a warrant application.

Snowden, then 29 (and shown at right), said that he was releasing the materials as an act of conscience because of what he regarded as the unconstitutional scope of privacy invasions. Following a global, U.S.-led manhunt, he landed in Russia, where he remains under political asylum.

Poitras, a film maker, the journalist/attorney Greenwald and author/journalist Jeremy Scahill later that year co-founded The Intercept, a web-based investigative news site funded by a reported $250 million from Internet billionaire Pierre Omidyar, an eBay and PayPal founder.

Poitras, Greenwald and their colleagues, such as Ewen MacAskill of the Guardian and Barton Gellman of the Washington Post, received great recognition in terms of prizes, books, film treatments and other career advancement for their work. Others sharing in recognition included the New York Times and Germany's Der Spiegel.

In the column below, Cathleen McGuire, a truth activist based in New York City, and her sister Colleen, an attorney living in Greece, explore the recent controversy arising after The Intercept announced last month that it no longer planned to release investigative stories based on the Snowden documents and that it would be laying off most of its research staff associated with those documents.

laura poitras dmcaThe authors — and the sources they cite, including Poitras (shown at left) — allege that The Intercept and its parent company, First Look Media, are essentially privatizing and suppressing the fruits of Snowden's whistleblowing in a dubious manner threatening the public, whistleblowers and journalists elsewhere unless all become aware of the dangers of supposedly philanthropic funding of investigative journalism.

They assess the threat "as alarming as" the arrest this month of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange in London at Ecuador's embassy.

julian assange screenshot arrest (Ruptly)With Ecuador's permission, police arrested Assange (shown in a screenshot from a Ruptly video at right) on a charge of failure to comply with his bond conditions.

Looming in the background for him is a recently unsealed U.S. charge of conspiracy to help whistleblower Chelsea Manning expose war crimes with classified documents in 2010 and a Swedish request to face a claim (not a formal charge) that he committed sexual misconduct during his 2010 speaking trip to Sweden.

A lawyer for a woman who had invited him to sleep with her has said that his conduct during the night while she was asleep constitutes "rape" under Swedish law. Those definitions are quite different than under American law, as are Sweden's adjudication method in secret, non-jury trials that arguably pose a considerable threat to a defendant being selectively prosecuted,  as Assange's defenders have alleged.

Our project is among those describing both the U.S. and Swedish probes as highly political reactions to WikiLeaks publication of classified documents and, more generally, assaults on free press protections.

The co-authors cite as sources for their column today five recent reports — shown in a long appendix below — by prominent investigative journalists expressing similar dismay regarding the Snowden documents.

 

By Cathleen McGuire & Colleen McGuire

Billionaire Pierre Omidyar (right), the owner of the Snowden archives through his company, First Look Media, has shut down the analysis, release, and custodial care of the archives pierre omidyar twitterclaiming lack of funds. Since 2013, only 10% of the documents have been published.

The decision was made just this past March, 2019, with the full participation of Glenn Greenwald and Jeremy Scahill, star journalists with The Intercept, one of First Look Media’s various properties, as reported by MintPress News.

Laura Poitras — who with Glenn Greenwald was originally given custody of the documents by Edward Snowden in 2013 and works for Field of Vision, a First Look film company —  was purposefully excluded from the decision, as was the company’s board of directors.

In 2014, Greenwald, Poitras, and Scahill launched The Intercept, an online publication whose initial raison d'etre was the reporting of the Snowden material. In short order, the effort of responsibly overseeing the security protocols and the analysis and release of the Snowden documents were turned over to a research group within First Look. (As planned, The Intercept went on to become the full news operation it is today.)

Aware of the historical significance of the Snowden cache, on March 13, Poitras went public informing the Daily Beast of the shutdown. On March 27, she released a series of emails which dramatically memorialized the play-by-play timeline. Poitras was basically screaming bloody murder as the research team investigating the valuable treasure trove was being eighty-sixed.

Glenn GreenwaldOn March 14, Greenwald (shown at left in a file screenshot from 2013) released a statement embedded in a tweet in which he represented that he, Poitras, and “other individuals and institutions” possess “full copies” of the archives. Who else has “full copies”? Snowden? Booz Allen Hamilton (Snowden’s employer at the time)? The CIA (Snowden’s one-time employer and NSA rival)?

Greenwald further represented that four media outlets — the Washington Post, the New York Times, the Guardian, and der Spiegel — “have possessed large parts” of the Snowden archives since 2013. He noted that these media companies have “budgets and newsrooms far larger” than The Intercept, implying that they are in a better position to take over the herculean effort of releasing and analyzing the remaining 90% of the unpublished documents.

However, it is disingenuous of Greenwald to insinuate that the four media companies who possess “large parts” of the archives have commensurate access to the archives as the alleged individuals and institutions who have “full” access. Furthermore, it is not clear if those “large parts” consist simply of the 10% of the archives already released.

With Omidyar in control of the goods, only a trickle of the Snowden archives has seen the light of day. Although technically the documents are not in danger of disappearing, now that the entire archives research staff has been eliminated, the risk of the archives being publicly memory-holed has significantly increased, as Poitras so urgently tried to publicize.

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RFK's Collected Works Provide Powerful Lessons For Today


The inspirational words and actions of the murdered 1968 presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy came alive once more during a book lecture on April 10 by his eldest child Kathleen Kennedy Townsend and biographer Richard "Rick" Allen at the National Press Club in Washington, DC.

rfk richard allen edwin guthmanThe speakers, drawing from  RFK: His Words For Our Times, a 480-page book republished last year, provided a compelling and entertaining discussion of why the senator exemplified leadership qualities of enduring value to the public.

RFK, who launched his presidential campaign in March during the war-torn year of 1968 in a challenge to the Democratic incumbent President Lyndon B. Johnson, faced a stressed and angry electorate comparable to those of today, the speakers said. 

His memorable method included appeals to the public's better nature along with a daring and at times courageous willingness to travel to opposition locales. "RFK had a predisposition to go into hostile crowds," said Allen, a media executive and longtime political aide. "He constantly sought opportunities to wade into crowds that were not friendly."

Townsend, a professor at Georgetown Law Center and a former lieutenant governor of Maryland, shared several examples of how such actions won over crowds. One such time was in 1966 when Kennedy accepted an invitation to speak at the University of Mississippi Law School. Kennedy, by then a U.S. senator representing New York, had been enormously unpopular in Mississippi and the rest of the Deep South three years previously as Attorney General under his brother John's presidency by leading the Justice Department's legal efforts to require integration and African-American voting rights efforts in compliance with federal court orders. 

Huge public opposition resulted in just a narrow 5-4 vote by the university's regents to permit the RFK speech to occur. The senator arrived with his wife, Ethel, holding hands, which surprised some onlookers who had come to think of him as an almost inhuman devil for trying to change the settled ways of segregation and voting restrictions.

The result by the end of the discussions at the school , the daughter recalled, was a 10-minute standing ovation from the audience. "It was his view that if you talk honestly," she recalled, "you can make a difference."

The RFK book, originally published in 1992 to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the senator's fatal shooting in 1968 in Los Angeles just after he won California's Democratic presidential primary, collects his major speeches. They began with his brief years as a journalist and his 1950s work as a U.S. Senate committee counsel kathleen kennedy townsend rick allen npc april 10 2019 img 6249helping senators lead hard-hitting investigations of Mafia members and their and allies who ran major labor unions in corruption fashion..

Most of RFK's words in the book are from his years as attorney general, senator and presidential candidate, with the goal of providing an intimate view of a wordsmith who achieved an enduring reputation for speaking persuasively to unify audiences even on such inherently divisive themes as war, peace, poverty and inequality.

"He was able to win over people," Townsend said, "not by criticizing them but by asking what kind of nation they wanted to have." 

She and Allen explained also RFK had a rare quality of holding seemingly contradictory ideas and acting on them in a positive way. One example was what they called "aggressive civility."

Another was "substantive celebrity," which Townsend described as using the Kennedy family's undoubted celebrity during the 1960s to try to achieve solid results in public policy.

"It was not power for power's sake," Allen  said, "but to help those Americans who needed representation."

Among Townsend's introductions to this world of politics, she recalled, was her attendance at organized crime hearings in the 1950s at the age of three and four. One of her father's targets was Frank Costello, whom Allen described as the head of the Genovese Mafia Family in New York and a known killer of at least five persons, while some said it was more than double that. 

Allen, who edited the book with Guthman, RFK's former press secretary at the Justice Department, recalled that RFK remained undaunted even after hearing that his Senate's work had prompted a threat that acid would be thrown in the eyes of his children to teach a lesson.

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Critic Of U.S. Venezuelan Policy, News Coverage Speaks In DC At Press Club

 

Longtime Washington journalist Ken Silverstein delivered during a dinner lecture on March 27 at the National Press Club his hard-hitting critique of mainstream media coverage of the ongoing Venezuelan crisis.

venezuela flag waving customSilverstein, an author and the editor of the WashingtonBabylon.com news site, spoke to the McClendon Group speaker society about Venezuela and the U.S. Media: Pravda Was Better.

Silverstein, right, has traveled to Venezuela three times, in 1993, 2004 and this February. His new article “Caracas Chronicles” on ken silversteinWashington Babylon describes how the media has so routinely misread — or lied — about the political situation in Venezuela.

He is writing an ongoing series about what he assesses as the likelihood that the Trump administration will invade the country. Caracas Chronicles is Part I of the forthcoming series.

Since then one major flashpoint among commentators has been whether the massive power outages afflicting Venezuela this month are because of covert sabotage by allies of the United States on behalf of legislator Juan Guaido (at left below) who has declared himself the rightful president.

Guaido thus seeks to replace Nicolás Maduro, shown at right below, who was elected to another term last year in a disputed election. Critics claim that the electricity blackout was caused by poor policies and performance of the incumbent government.

juan guaido nicolas maduro

Silverstein's reporting coincides in general with a March 5 column by the Justice Integrity Project U.S. Mainstream Media Propagandize Venezuelan Rebellion.

"News coverage of current political strife in Venezuela," we wrote, "serves as a fresh reminder that U.S. mainstream newspapers and broadcasters too often deliver remarkably biased 'news' reports on sensitive global topics."

We continued:

The corporate media — including the prestigious newspaper outlets like the New York Times, Wall Street Journal and Washington Post — consistently portray leaders of Venezuela, Syria and Russia as bloodthirsty dictators with no semblance of popular appeal. That's despite independent evidence that they have won elections (unlike some tyrants counted as strong U.S. allies) and probably could continue to do so in fair elections, according to independent popularity polls and other evidence.

Appendices to that column and this contain excerpts from a sampling of corporate-controlled and alternative media. Readers can thereby see  differences and patterns.

Silverstein is the creator of WashingtonBabylon.com, a political, satirical and investigative website. He has previously worked as an AP correspondent from Brazil, at the Washington office of the Los Angeles Times, and as the Washington Editor of Harper's Magazine.

He has been a columnist at the New York Observer and a Contributing Editor at VICE, and has written for scores of other publications, with datelines from dozens of countries. These nations include Iraq, Lebanon, Sudan, Senegal, Equatorial Guinea, Indonesia, Vietnam, Dubai, Egypt, Venezuela, Colombia and many more. Also, he is the author of several books, most recently The Secret World of Oil, and has two more books in the works. He will sign copies at the event.

The Venezuelan crisis is not only an ordeal for its population but a test for the entire Hemisphere’s democratic institutions, including the media’s performance.

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FBI and Department of Justice Sued for Failure To Perform Duties To Report Known 9/11 Attack Evidence To Congress

 

Editor's Note: The announcement below is from the press releases of two 9/11 research groups endorsed by the Justice Integrity Project.

The Lawyers’ Committee for 9/11 Inquiry, Architects & Engineers for 9/11 Truth, and 9/11 victim family members Robert McIlvaine and Barbara 9 11 lawyers committee logoKrukowski-Rastelli announced on March 25 a joint federal lawsuit filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia against the U.S. Department of Justice and the FBI for their failure to perform a congressionally mandated assessment of any evidence known to the FBI that was not considered by the 9/11 Commission related to any factors that contributed in any manner to the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.

A news conference about these filings was held on March 25, 2019 in Washington, DC near the federal courthouse. The conference locale was 555 Pennsylvania Ave., NW, outside the Newseum, helping underscore the news value of the topic.

The complaint can be read here. More details are below.

The action for declaratory and injunctive relief is under ae 911 truth logo horizontalthe Administrative Procedure Act (APA), 5 U.S.C. 702, 706, and the federal mandamus statute, 28 U.S.C. 1361, because of federal agency failures to comply with the mandate from Congress.

The complaint cites the failure of the FBI and its 2014-2015 9/11 Review Commission to assess key 9/11-related evidence that the FBI can be shown to have had, or been aware of, regarding:

1) the use of pre-placed explosives to destroy World Trade Center buildings, 1, 2 and 7;
2) arrest and investigation of the “High Fivers” observed photographing and celebrating the attacks on the World Trade Center on 9/11;
3) terrorist financing regarding the reported Saudi support for the 9/11 hijackers;
4) recovered plane parts, including serial numbers from all three crash locations;
5) video from cameras mounted inside and outside the Pentagon; and
6) cell phone communications from passengers aboard airplanes.

This is evidence relevant to the 9/11 Review Commission’s and the FBI’s compliance with the mandate from Congress, which should have fbi logobeen assessed by the FBI and the 2014-2015 9/11 Review Commission and reported to Congress. The complaint also cites the destruction by the FBI of evidence related to the “High Fivers.”

The Lawyers' Committee filmed the press conference. An excerpt is below.

Shown above (from left to right) are Richard Gage, president of Architects and Engineers for 9/11Truth.org, 9/11 victim family member Robert McIlvaine (father of victim Bobby McIlvaine), Mick Harrison and David R. Meiswinkle, litigation director and president, respectively, of the Lawyers’ Committee for 9/11 Inquiry, as they held a press conference on March 25, 2019 in front of the Newseum in Washington, DC to discuss the Lawyers’ Committee lawsuit against the FBI. The Newseum, a museum for the news industry, was holding an exhibit inside on the 9/11 attacks.

An extended version of this film with commentary from the Lawyers Committee, Richard Gage and Robert McIlvaine can be found on our Youtube channel at this link on the site of the Lawyers' Committee.

Another view of the event was by Jason Goodman, producer and editor of Crowdsource the Truth. His film, which includes extensive, exclusive interview and compelling comments by the experts featured at the press conference, is available via YouTube at

.be" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Architects & Engineers for 9/11 Truth Join Lawyers' Committee for 9/11 Inquiry for FBI Lawsuit  (99:38 mins). Some of his footage was included in the Lawyers' Committee' video.