Search News from Limbo


Thursday, August 21, 2014

Press faces computer control
under proposed federal rule 

If the Guardian U.S. edition has leaked NSA files in its computer, a proposed new U.S. rule permits the government to remotely enter the computer and seize or copy the data of interest, according to a document published by Cryptome.

A court could approve raiding an overseas computer to confiscate data, the proposal says. That might mean Germany's Der Spiegel, which has published a number of NSA stories, could have its computer system raided by operatives interested in erasing data thought to be relevant to U.S. national security.

The proposed rule change draws no distinction between press computers and non-press computers.

From the proposed change in federal rules on criminal procedures:

"The amendment provides that
in two specific circumstances a magistrate judge in a
district where activities related to a crime may have
occurred has authority to issue a warrant to use remote
access to search electronic storage media and seize or copy
electronically stored information even when that media or
information is or may be located outside of the district."

Best regards,
Paul Conant
Newz from Limbo

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Military trying to intimidate general reader? 

It sounds like the usual tortured military rinky dink: Military people may not read The Intercept, where Glenn Greenwald is a staff writer, because it is the military's responsibility to safeguard classified documents.

The problem is, the documents are public. Doesn't matter, says the military. You may endanger your security clearance if you read a classified document on a news site via an "unclassified" computer.

This "reasoning" is associated with the idea that, in addition to Edward Snowden, there may be a second leaker. It is not explained why this possibility is relevant.

Aside from silly bureaucratism, we may have a case here of the military trying to send a psyops message that there is some inherent wrong in Americans reading documents that have not been declassified. The securocrats, I speculate, wish to get the message out via the outraged media that the government takes a very dim view of any American reading a classified document without its permission -- even if it is published in the press.

This suspicion is bolstered by the curious phrasing found in the military prohibition, as quoted by The Intercept:

Viewing potentially classified material (even material already wrongfully released in the public domain) from unclassified equipment will cause you long term security issues.  This is considered a security violation.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Obama policy buffets Times reporters 
The Justice Department's pressure to force the N.Y. Times reporter James Risen to identify a source certainly makes it difficult for the State Department to lobby on behalf of American reporters who conceal sources overseas.

Similarly, the CIA's contacts among Afghan officials may not be all that helpful, considering that Risen's unwelcome story concerned the CIA.

Afghans pressure Times reporter to reveal source

Saturday, August 16, 2014

FBI spy meddled with hated reporter

An FBI spy opened mail of a Los Angeles Times reporter and turned the contents over to J. Edgar Hoover's FBI without informing the newsman, according to a book by Betty Medsger, who, as a Washington Post reporter first broke the story of the bureau's bizarre surveillance priorities.

In The Burglary -- The Discovery of J. Edgar Hoover's Secret FBI, Medsger relates that years after the sensational 1971 reports on files stolen by activists from a bureau office in Media, Pa., she found via the Freedom of Information Act that copies of the files sent to L.A. Times investigative reporter Jack Nelson had been intercepted by someone in his office and turned over to the FBI.

Nelson was astounded when he learned of the interception, telling Medsger that, upon learning of their existence, he had eagerly tried to get hold of copies. Medsger writes that Nelson's editors in Los Angeles also appear to have been kept in the dark.

Nelson's unflattering coverage of the FBI -- which under Hoover was accustomed to friendly coverage -- had earned Nelson the bureau's wrath, Medsger says. When the Times was the only major news organization left unaware that agents were poised to arrest Angela Davis, a fiery West Coast radical, the Times' Washington chief, David Kraslow, asked why.

Medsger writes that Tom Bishop, a top FBI press liaison, shouted into the telephone: "When you get rid of that son of a bitch" Nelson, the bureau would cooperate.

Intimidation in the newsroom
Medsger writes that one day as she started reading a new batch of just-arrived Media documents, "a tall white-haired man I had never seen before appeared at my desk," claiming he worked in the mailroom. The man remarked on the FBI files and then mentioned that he knew she was from Johnstown, Pa.

Thinking that an odd thing to say, Medsger relates that she asked how he knew that. His response: "I see all the letters your mother sends you." Yet her mother had never written her at the Post. She viewed the incident as a "ham-handed" attempt to intimidate her.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Hey Mom! Guess what? They ARE out to get us!
According to journalist Betty Medsger, the burglars who carted off files from the Media, Pa., FBI office in 1971 encountered an internal FBI document that urged agents monitoring anti-war and civil rights activists to "enhance [their] paranoia" by getting the "point across that there is an FBI agent behind every mailbox."

Medsger adds that Susan Smith, one of the burglars, said she realized the document, once it became public, would vindicate many people who had been ridiculed for suspecting the FBI was spying on them; they would want to say, "Hey Mom, everybody, I'm not mentally ill! They really are after me, you, lots of people."

It must be understood that the great majority of activists were nonviolent and went no further than acts of open civil disobedience at protest events, though some nonviolent activists had been burglarizing draft boards to try to impede their operation. Still, it was shocking to many that the FBI would advocate use of such "paranoia" tactics against ALL activists.

The effect of Congressional reforms of the 1970s was at best temporary. This is because the CIA had also been engaging in "countermeasures" against domestic critics, especially the more effective ones, though its unethical activities tended to be written off as covert war against Soviet agents. The CIA conveys the fiction that it does not operate domestically, but the exceptions to that policy are big enough to drive a very large truck through -- in fact, quite a few convoys through.

Sy Hersh's 1974 bombshell on massive domestic spying

Supposedly, the Church committee fixed all that. Reality: CIA contemptuously ignored controls. Journalists were among those under surveillance by spooks.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

20 Pulitzer winners join
a drive to back Risen

By Emily Grannis
Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press
More than 100,000 people, including 20 Pulitzer Prize winners, have signed a petition submitted to President Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder today urging the administration to rethink its policy of subpenaing journalists to reveal their sources.

(If link fails, copy and paste it into the browser bar.)

Seven representatives of free press organizations announced the delivery of the petition at the National Press Club Thursday and called on the administration to drop its threatened subpena of New York Times reporter James Risen.

Risen has been fighting since 2007 to protect a confidential source he used in writing a book about the Central Intelligence Agency, and he joined the panel at the press conference today.

“The events today are part of a very strongly accelerated effort across this country to lance a boil of fear and intimidation,” said Norman Solomon, whose Institute for Public Accuracy and started the petition.

The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, the Freedom of the Press Foundation, the Government Accountability Project, the Committee to Protect Journalists and Reporters Without Borders were also represented on today’s panel, along with veteran journalist Phil Donahue.

“Freedom of the Press is the most important freedom,” said Delphine Halgand, the director of Reporters Without Borders’ Washington office. “It is the freedom that allows us to verify the existence of all other freedoms.”

Risen said the level of support generated by the petition "leaves me speechless.”

“I also know that it’s really not about me. It’s about some basic issues that affect all Americans and all journalists,” Risen said. “I’m willing to do this for the future of journalism . . . There’s no way to conduct aggressive investigative reporting without confidential sources.”

Panelists emphasized the importance of official government action beyond the promise Holder made this summer that no reporter will go to jail for doing his or her job. That could be little reassurance for Risen: in the past, journalists have been ordered to pay between $500 and $5,000 a day for refusing to name sources.

“Ultimately threats like these from the federal government must be addressed by the enactment of a meaningful shield law,” said Gregg Leslie, legal defense director for the Reporters Committee, referring to the reporters' shield law pending in the U.S. senate. He added that the petition provides an important show of public support for that effort. “This is the kind of thing that will prompt action." 

Courtney Radsch, advocacy director for the Committee to Protect Journalists, said the U.S. government should be standing up for press freedoms, rather than emulating the practice of anti-democratic governments in jailing journalists.

“I don’t think we want to join Cuba as the only country in the Western Hemisphere to have a jailed journalist,” she said. CPJ currently counts 124 journalists jailed worldwide for crimes like espionage, which is an accusation often leveled against journalists and their sources here. “These types of prosecutions send a dangerous signal to governments elsewhere,” Radsch said.

The U.S. Court of Appeals in Richmond, Va. (4th Circuit) ruled in July 2013 that the government can compel Risen to name his source. Risen appealed that decision to the U.S. Supreme Court, but in June the justices declined to take the case. Risen is now waiting for the Justice Department to decide whether to re-issue the subpena for his testimony.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Reporter a victim
of dirty 'secret'

N.Y. Times reporter James Risen is being hounded by the feds because he did not "play the game," and published "national security" stories without their permission.

(If link fails, copy and paste it into browser bar.)

And the Times won't defend him for reporting not done under its auspices.

It is a little-noticed fact that the large corporate media have been submitting -- without saying so explicitly -- to censorship for years, ever since President Reagan's CIA chief, William Casey, announced that editors and reporters could be prosecuted for disclosure of official secrets under the World War I Espionage Act. Even before then, cozy media relations with the intelligence system date to early in the Cold War.

In order to avoid criminal sanctions, editors "negotiate" with federal officials when a news outlet has an important story concerning state secrets. Hence, the editors are legally protected to some extent on grounds that officials, perhaps grudgingly, have de facto declassified certain information with implied consent. On the other hand, when those officials resist disclosure, there is compliance by editors.

A few examples:

Location of the CIA's secret prisons, in a story by Dana Priest, was suppressed by the Washington Post at the request of the government; President Bush's warrantless eavesdropping program, revealed by Risen, was suppressed for a year at the urging of the White House; his report on a botched CIA operation in which a U.S. operative reportedly handed over U.S. nuclear secrets was also suppressed by the Times at the urging of the government. 

The Times only felt safe in publishing the Risen wiretapping story when it knew he was about to scoop them in his book.

Such a system is easily abused. Bush didn't have to worry about the Risen story during his re-election campaign. Citizens of other countries were denied information needed to ensure that their democracies were properly functioning.

In every case where a vendetta is being pursued against someone practicing journalism, the target had not played the game with the White House and the securocrats. The White House, for example, raised no objection when it learned that British officials were to seize electronic equipment in transit sent by Glenn Greenwald, at the time a reporter for the Guardian, which publishes a U.S. edition.  Greenwald, who has condemned the Washington "negotiation" game, pressured the Guardian to publish his first NSA story without a long period of negotiation, which iit did.

The Espionage Act is being invoked as a reason to force Risen to disclose his source or sources in the botched CIA operation. But what of accountability for the bizarre handling of nuclear secrets by the agency?