4th Amendment Civil Rights Current Events Surveillance Uncategorized

The Latest Snowden Leak

Published by:

Consider the latest leak sourced to Edward Snowden frlead_largeom the perspective of his detractors. The National Security Agency’s defenders would have us believe that Snowden is a thief and a criminal at best, and perhaps a traitorous Russian spy. In their telling, the NSA carries out its mission lawfully, honorably, and without unduly compromising the privacy of innocents. For that reason, they regard Snowden’s actions as a wrongheaded slur campaign premised on lies and exaggerations.

But their narrative now contradicts itself. The Washington Post’s latest article drawing on Snowden’s leaked cache of documents includes files “described as useless by the analysts but nonetheless retained” that “tell stories of love and heartbreak, illicit sexual liaisons, mental-health crises, political and religious conversions, financial anxieties and disappointed hopes. The daily lives of more than 10,000 account holders who were not targeted are catalogued and recorded nevertheless.”

The article goes on to describe how exactly the privacy of these innocents was violated. The NSA collected “medical records sent from one family member to another, résumés from job hunters and academic transcripts of schoolchildren. In one photo, a young girl in religious dress beams at a camera outside a mosque. Scores of pictures show infants and toddlers in bathtubs, on swings, sprawled on their backs and kissed by their mothers. In some photos, men show off their physiques. In others, women model lingerie, leaning suggestively into a webcam …”

Have you ever emailed a photograph of your child in the bathtub, or yourself flexing for the camera or modeling lingerie? If so, it could be your photo in the Washington Post newsroom right now, where it may or may not be secure going forward. In one case, a woman whose private communications were collected by the NSA found herself contacted by a reporter who’d read her correspondence.

Snowden defenders see these leaked files as necessary to proving that the NSA does, in fact, massively violate the private lives of American citizens by collecting and storing content—not “just” metadata—when they communicate digitally. They’ll point out that Snowden turned these files over to journalists who promised to protect the privacy of affected individuals and followed through on that oath.

What about Snowden critics who defend the NSA? Ben Wittes questions the morality of the disclosure:

Snowden here did not leak programmatic information about government activity. He leaked many tens of thousands of personal communications of a type that, in government hands, are rightly subject to strict controls. They are subject to strict controls precisely so that the woman in lingerie, the kid beaming before a mosque, the men showing off their physiques, and the woman whose love letters have to be collected because her boyfriend is off looking to join the Taliban don’t have to pay an unnecessarily high privacy price. Yes, the Post has kept personal identifying details from the public, and that is laudable. But Snowden did not keep personal identifying details from the Post. He basically outed thousands of people—innocent and not—and left them to the tender mercies of journalists. This is itself a huge civil liberties violation.

The critique is plausible—but think of what it means.

I never thought I’d see this day: The founder of Lawfare has finally declared that a national-security-state employee perpetrated a huge civil-liberties violation! Remember this if he ever again claims that NSA critics can’t point to a single serious abuse at the agency. Wittes himself now says there’s been a serious abuse.

The same logic applies to Keith Alexander, James Clapper, Michael Hayden, Stewart Baker, Edward Lucas, John Schindler, and every other anti-Snowden NSA defender. So long as they insist that Snowden is a narcissistic criminal and possible traitor, they have no choice but to admit that the NSA collected and stored intimate photos, emails, and chats belonging to totally innocent Americans and safeguarded them so poorly that a ne’er-do-well could copy them onto thumb drives.

They have no choice but to admit that the NSA was so bad at judging who could be trusted with this sensitive data that a possible traitor could take it all to China and Russia. Yet these same people continue to insist that the NSA is deserving of our trust, that Americans should keep permitting it to collect and store massive amounts of sensitive data on innocents, and that adequate safeguards are in place to protect that data. To examine the entirety of their position is to see that it is farcical.

Here’s the reality.

The NSA collects and stores the full content of extremely sensitive photographs, emails, chat transcripts, and other documents belong to Americans, itself a violation of the Constitution—but even if you disagree that it’s illegal, there’s no disputing the fact that the NSA has been proven incapable of safeguarding that data. There is not the chance the data could leak at sometime in the future. It has already been taken and given to reporters. The necessary reform is clear. Unable to safeguard this sensitive data, the NSA shouldn’t be allowed to collect and store it.

Conor Friedersdorf

Banks Current Events EU Greece Uncategorized

Greece – What You are not Being Told

Published by:

greeceausterity7515Every single mainstream media has the following narrative for the economic crisis in Greece: the government spent too much money and went broke; the generous banks gave them money, but Greece still can’t pay the bills because it mismanaged the money that was given. It sounds quite reasonable, right?

Except that it is a big fat lie … not only about Greece, but about other European countries such as Spain, Portugal, Italy and Ireland who are all experiencing various degrees of austerity. It was also the same big, fat lie that was used by banks and corporations to exploit many Latin American, Asian and African countries for many decades.

Greece did not fail on its own. It was made to fail.

In summary, the banks wrecked the Greek government and deliberately pushed it into unsustainable debt so that oligarchs and international corporations can profit from the ensuing chaos and misery.

If you are a fan of mafia movies, you know how the mafia would take over a popular restaurant. First, they would do something to disrupt the business – stage a murder at the restaurant or start a fire. When the business starts to suffer, the Godfather would generously offer some money as a token of friendship. In return, Greasy Thumb takes over the restaurant’s accounting, Big Joey is put in charge of procurement, and so on. Needless to say, it’s a journey down a spiral of misery for the owner who will soon be broke and, if lucky, alive.

Now, let’s map the mafia story to international finance in four stages.

Stage 1: The first and foremost reason that Greece got into trouble was the “Great Financial Crisis” of 2008 that was the brainchild of Wall Street and international bankers. If you remember, banks came up with an awesome idea of giving subprime mortgages to anyone who can fog a mirror. They then packaged up all these ticking financial bombs and sold them as “mortgage-backed securities” at a huge profit to various financial entities in countries around the world.

A big enabler of this criminal activity was another branch of the banking system, the group of rating agencies – S&P, Fitch and Moody’s – who gave stellar ratings to these destined-to-fail financial products. Unscrupulous politicians such as Tony Blair got paid by Big Banks to peddle these dangerous securities to pension funds and municipalities and countries around Europe. Banks and Wall Street gurus made hundreds of billions of dollars in this scheme.

But this was just Stage 1 of their enormous scam. There was much more profit to be made in the next three stages!

Stage 2 is when the financial time bombs exploded. Commercial and investment banks around the world started collapsing in a matter of weeks. Governments at local and regional level saw their investments and assets evaporate. Chaos everywhere!

Vultures like Goldman Sachs and other big banks profited enormously in three ways: one, they could buy other banks such as Lehman brothers and Washington Mutual for pennies on the dollar. Second, more heinously, Goldman Sachs and insiders such as John Paulson (who recently donated $400 million to Harvard) had made bets that these securities would blow up. Paulson made billions, and the media celebrated his acumen. (For an analogy, imagine the terrorists betting on 9/11 and profiting from it.) Third, to scrub salt in the wound, the big banks demanded a bailout from the very citizens whose lives the bankers had ruined! Bankers have chutzpah. In the U.S., they got hundreds of billions of dollars from the taxpayers and trillions from the Federal Reserve Bank which is nothing but a front group for the bankers.

In Greece, the domestic banks got more than $30 billion of bailout from the Greek people. Let that sink in for a moment – the supposedly irresponsible Greek government had to bail out the hardcore capitalist bankers.

Stage 3 is when the banks force the government to accept massive debts. For a biology metaphor, consider a virus or a bacteria. All of them have unique strategies to weaken the immune system of the host. One of the proven techniques used by the parasitic international bankers is to downgrade the bonds of a country. And that’s exactly what the bankers did, starting at the end of 2009. This immediately makes the interest rates (“yields”) on the bonds go up, making it more and more expensive for the country to borrow money or even just roll over the existing bonds.

From 2009 to mid-2010, the yields on 10-year Greek bonds almost tripled! This cruel financial assault brought the Greek government to its knees, and the banksters won their first debt deal of a whopping 110 billion Euros.

The banks also control the politics of nations. In 2011, when the Greek prime minister refused to accept a second massive bailout, the banks forced him out of the office and immediately replaced him with the Vice President of ECB (European Central Bank)! No elections needed. Screw democracy. And what would this new guy do? Sign on the dotted line of every paperwork that the bankers bring in.

(By the way, the very next day, the exact same thing happened in Italy where the Prime Minister resigned, only to be replaced by a banker/economist puppet. Ten days later, Spain had a premature election where a banker puppet won the election).

The puppet masters had the best month ever in November 2011.

Few months later, in 2012, the exact bond market manipulation was used when the banksters turned up the Greek bonds’ yields to 50%!!! This financial terrorism immediately had the desired effect: The Greek parliament agreed to a second massive bailout, even larger than the first one.

Now, here is another fact that most people don’t understand. The loans are not just simple loans like you would get from a credit card or a bank. These are loans come with very special strings attached that demand privatization of a country’s assets. If you have seen Godfather III, you would remember Hyman Roth, the investor who was carving up Cuba among his friends. Replace Hyman Roth with Goldman Sachs or IMF (International Monetary Fund) or ECB, and you get the picture.

Stage 4: Now, the rape and humiliation of a nation begin under the name of “austerity” or “structural reforms.” For the debt that was forced upon it, Greece had to sell many of its profitable assets to oligarchs and international corporations. And privatizations are ruthless, involving everything and anything that is profitable. In Greece, privatization included water, electricity, post offices, airport services, national banks, telecommunication, port authorities (which is huge in a country that is a world leader in shipping) etc. Of course, the ever-manipulative bankers always demand immediate privatization of all media which means that the country gets photogenic TV anchors who spew establishment propaganda every day and tell the people that crooked and greedy banksters are saviors; and slavery under austerity is so much better than the alternative.

In addition to that, the banker tyrants also get to dictate every single line item in the government’s budget. Want to cut military spending? NO! Want to raise tax on the oligarchs or big corporations? NO! Such micro-management is non-existent in any other creditor-debtor relationship.

So what happens after privatization and despotism under bankers? Of course, the government’s revenue goes down and the debt increases further. How do you “fix” that? Of course, cut spending! Lay off public workers, cut minimum wage, cut pensions (same as our social security), cut public services, and raise taxes on things that would affect the 99% but not the 1%. For example, pension has been cut in half and sales tax increase to more than 20%. All these measures have resulted in Greece going through a financial calamity that is worse than the Great Depression of the U.S. in the 1930s.

After all this, what is the solution proposed by the heartless bankers? Higher taxes! More cuts to the pension! It takes a special kind of a psychopath to put a country through austerity, an economic holocaust.

If every Greek person had known the truth about austerity, they wouldn’t have fallen for this. Same goes for Spain, Italy, Portugal, Ireland and other countries going through austerity. The sad aspect of all this is that these are not unique strategies. Since World War II, these predatory practices have been used countless times by the IMF and the World Bank in Latin America, Asia, and Africa.

This is the essence of the New World Order — a world owned by a handful of corporations and banks; a world that is full of obedient, powerless debt serfs.

So, it’s time for the proud people of Greece to rise up like Zeus and say NO (“OXI” in Greece) to the greedy puppet masters, unpatriotic oligarchs, parasitic bankers and corrupt politicians.

Dear Greece, know that the world is praying for you and rooting for you. This weekend, vote NO to austerity. Say YES to freedom, independence, self-government, sovereignty, and democracy. Go to the polls this weekend and give a resounding, clear victory for the 99% in Greece, Europe, and the entire western world.

By

4th Amendment Civil Rights Current Events DEA Marijuana Uncategorized

War Veteran with PTSD Faces Prison

Published by:

KristofferLewandowskiUnder Oklahoma’s harsh marijuana prohibition laws, 100% disabled US Marine Corps veteran Kristoffer Lewandowski, who served three tours of duty overseas including stints in Iraq and Afghanistan, is reportedly facing up to life in prison for growing under an ounce of marijuana in his home in an effort to treat his PTSD and wean himself off of pharmaceutical drugs. His wife spoke exclusively to Truth in Media about their family’s ordeal. US Marine Corps combat veteran Kristoffer Lewandowski, who served in three tours of duty overseas including tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, reportedly faces up to life in prison for pot charges connected to a June 2014 raid on his Geronimo, OK home that occurred after his wife and neighbors called police to get him help for a post-traumatic stress disorder flare-up. However, rather than providing mental health resources, police responding on the scene searched Lewandowski’s home for contraband and found six marijuana plants, weighing in at less than an ounce of plant matter in total, and charged him with, among other offenses, felony marijuana cultivation, which, under Oklahoma’s unusually-harsh marijuana laws, carries a maximum sentence of life in prison. Truth in Media obtained an exclusive interview with Kristoffer Lewandowski’s wife Whitney Lewandowski in an effort to get their family’s story on the record. Whitney Lewandowski said that her husband, a loving father to three children who was honorably medically discharged from the Marines and is 100% disabled due to severe post-traumatic stress disorder, was growing the marijuana for personal use, “He was just using it… He couldn’t get any, and, of course, we’re a military family, we’re very poor, we couldn’t afford to buy it anyway. So he was just growing it for himself. He was on his way out of the military and just wanted to see if it would help with [his mental health issues]. He was taking 13 pills a day, and it was just killing his liver. He was having all these issues with his body and he just wanted to try something more natural to just see if he could do without that many pills a day.” She called his medical marijuana treatments “absolutely effective.” On that day in June of 2014, Kristoffer Lewandowski had a PTSD episode and Whitney Lewandowski left and took their three children to their neighbors’ house to “diffuse the situation.” When their neighbors called police in an effort to get mental health help for the struggling war veteran, officers responded, searched the Lewandowski’s home, and began a drug investigation instead. Whitney Lewandowski said that she was initially handcuffed under investigation for the same charges, placed in a police car, and told that her children were going to be taken by Child Protective Services. However, authorities offered her the opportunity to remain free and keep their kids if she pressed charges against her husband for domestic violence. In an effort to keep the children, she agreed to do so and later discovered that she could not rescind those charges without re-activating the felony marijuana cultivation charges against herself. Police arrested Kristoffer Lewandowski and charged him with felony marijuana cultivation, possession of drug paraphernalia, and a domestic violence offense. Whitney Lewandowski noted that, though police were originally called to help Kristoffer, “the kind of help he got was being tossed in jail.” Whitney Lewandowski said that the domestic violence charge does not reflect the reality of her husband’s behavior, “They’re trying to use me as a victim and to make it look worse on his case. My husband has absolutely never laid his hands on me ever. He is not an abusive man, ever… quite the opposite. He is extremely doting.” She noted that, at the time of the raid, police included tomato plants that were also growing in Kristoffer Lewandowski’s home while weighing his personal-use cannabis which she said “made it look like he had this huge grow [operation] going” in media reports on his arrest. After the arrest, Whitney Lewandowski pulled together funds to pay a bail bondsman to cover his $20,000 bail and their family moved and continued their life in California, where Whitney has family ties. While in California, Kristoffer Lewandowski was prescribed medical marijuana to deal with his crippling post-traumatic stress disorder and began treatment legally.

By Barry Donegan